H54: Hip

The latest hip place to visit is Stuff White People Like. It is really funny. Sanctimonious green opinions take a real hit in this list. Many of us white people in the green movement see ourselves in all of our ridiculousness.

Here is the list of subjects to date:

#1 Coffee

#37 Renovations

#2 Religions that their parents don’t belong to

#38 Arrested Development

#3 Film Festivals

#39 Netflix

#4 Assists

#40 Apple Products

#5 Farmers Markets

#41 Indie Music

#6 Organic Food

#42 Sushi

#7 Diversity

#43 Plays

#8 Barack Obama

#44 Public Radio

#9 Making you feel bad about not going outside

#45 Asian Fusion Food

#10 Wes Anderson movies

#46 The Sunday New York Times

#11 Asian Girls

#54 Kitchen Gadgets

#12 Non-Profit Organizations

#55 Apologies

#13 Tea

#56 Lawyers

#14 Having Black Friends

#57 Juno

#15 Yoga

#58 Japan

#16 “Gifted” Children

#59 Natural Medicine

#17 Hating their parents

#60 Toyota Prius

#18 Awareness

#61 Bicycles

#19 Traveling

#62 Knowing what’s best for poor people

#20 Being an expert on YOUR culture

#63 Expensive Sandwiches

#21 Writer’s Workshops

#64 Recycling

#22 Having Two Last Names

#65 Co-Ed Sports

#23 Microbreweries

#66 Divorce

#24 Wine

#67 Standing Still at Concerts

#25 David Sedaris

#68 Michel Gondry

#26 Manhattan (now Brooklyn too!)

#69 Mos Def

#27 Marathons

#70 Difficult Breakups

#28 Not Having a TV

#71 Being the only white person around

#29 80s Night

#72 Study Abroad

#31 Snowboarding

#73 Gentrification

#32 Vegan/Vegetarianism

#74 Oscar Parties

#33 Marijuana

#75 Threatening to Move to Canada

#34 Architecture

#76 Bottles of Water

#35 The Daily Show/Colbert Report

#77 Musical Comedy

ATN (The Assimilated Negro) has a good interview of the blog proprietor, Christian Lander.

The LA Times says of the blog:

Lander is doing to whites what scores of journalists and politicians do to non-white minorities every day, “essentializing” complex identities — that is, stripping away all variety and reducing them to their presumed authentic essences.

…Lander is gently making fun of the many progressive, educated, upper-middle-class whites who think they are beyond ethnicity or collectively shared tastes, styles or outlook. He’s essentially reminding them that they too are part of a group.

“I’m writing about the white people who think they’re absolutely unique and individual,” Lander told me. “I’m calling them out and poking fun of myself. The things I post are all the things I like too!”

One of the reasons I feel compelled to write about this is the reality in our culture that hip turns to stupid very, quickly. There is a short shelf life on hip. But, I do think there isn’t enough that can be written or promoted that invites people of privilege to look at themselves and laugh at themselves. Domination is un-funny and lest white people forget, domination is how most of the goodies came to the white man. Just sayin’ . . .

Dolls from Flickr

H54: Hip Hop

In the post oil world, I have read that it is wise to learn to play a musical instrument. Yes, I remember now. It was the No Impact Man where I first saw this. I watched a wonderful movie on PBS the other night about Pete Seeger and his remarkable life. Despite being persecuted by the rabid anti-communist congressional forces for 17 years, banning him from television and his ability to perform in key venues he persevered. He taught children to sing, he was a friend to the leaders of the civil rights movement and gave the movement the signature “We Shall Overcome.” Teaching humanity through music is a remarkable part of this man’s history, my history. I learned my politics through this music.

It makes sense in anticipation of no electricity, community or small group entertainment versus the huge venues of today. Folk music will always have a place in American culture, but I believe there are more indications that hip hop will lead in teaching in our cultural changes ahead. This makes me think of my love of the first rap music I heard in ’81. Grand Master Flash was the music I loved and went to a tiny club in Ithaca to hear.

From Rollingstone,
Grandmaster Flash helped invent both an art form, the hip-hop sound, and a type of artist, the turntablist DJ. When the 16-year-old Flash (Joseph Saddler) got into Bronx street parties in 1973, he discovered he had no skills as a break dancer, but he did have a passion for music and tinkering with electronic equipment in his bedroom. Adored, party-throwing DJs such as Kool Herc, Pete DJ Jones, and Jones, and Grandmaster Flowers inspired Flash to combine the sharpest parts of their acts into something better and stronger. During 1974Ð75, Flash perfected a way to intercut and extend break beats on the beat, so that dancers could just keep rolling on with the funky bits he selected. He could also assemble pieces of records into complete new workouts, something everybody takes for granted today.

This was so innovative back then that it called for a new style of MC, or rapper, to put it across to an audience. The Furious Five, who were up to the challenge, consisted of exhorter Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), wordslinger Kid Creole (Nathaniel Glover), and Kid's more politically minded brother Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), who brought in Scorpio (Eddie Morris) and love-man Raheim (Guy Williams). The Five began to finish one another's lines and toss around raps rhythmically in time to Flash's turntable work. Together they became the mightiest originators in hip-hop history.

I loved the fact that the music was created out of what was at hand. I don’t have to say it, but I am not musically sophisticated. I have always loved drums and strong rhythm. When I drove cross country with my son in the summer of ’92, we listened to his hip hop cd’s all across the country. We traveled from Philadelphia to Phoenix with a stop in Omaha. It got to be a challenge for him to quiz me on the group, the dj, the mc, etc. To this day, A Tribe called Quest evokes that trip for me.

Lately I have been captivated by the International music I hear on Link TV. BTW, Hip Hop is now an international sound. I have heard Hip Hop from every continent on earth, in many languages. Watching the following documentary, Jupiter I found it captivating that the musicians in the Congo make music from refuse, from nothing. I see that "Jupiter" will be airing again on March 11th. As with every part on the planet, the music speaks to the longings, the joy and the anger of the people.

The introduction to this trailer states,

Jupiter's Dance

Category: Documentaries

Regions: Sub-Saharan Africa

Topics: Music / Art / Culture, Indigenous Peoples

Kinshasa, a city of 10 million inhabitants, is the crumbling capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the older generation of Kinois will tell you, "Kin-la-belle" (Kinshasa the beautiful) has become "Kin-la-poubelle" (Kinshasa the garbage pail) in the space of fifteen years. Nonetheless, the city still exudes a remarkable energy, whose primary form of expression is music.

Jupiter's Dance takes viewers on an exhilarating jaunt through the ghettos of Kinshasa to meet musicians who struggle to emerge from the chaos: rappers, handicapped bluesmen, griots, street children, inventors of instruments, and ndombolo musicians. Jupiter, the charismatic leader of the band Okwess International, serves as guide and narrator as he describes his city and his long battle to break out of the ghetto with his music. "The DRC has 450 ethnic groups and thousands of untapped musical resources. We're sleeping on a mattress stuffed with dollars, yet we're starving!"

This is an inspiration to watch.

H53: Hippy Hobbit House

I am smitten. I am so in love with this Welsh Home and the plans to form a community of these in Whales, I could just wet myself. She who is a non-consumer, who doesn’t feel she lacks for much of anything . . . Well she wants big time. If I could have a bit of a hillside and materials I would dedicate my life to building this humble home. What a hippie.

All credit goes to Misty at Shakesville for pointing me to this website.

H52: Hummus

If it is Wednesday it must be food day, and an *H* food at that. This week I am deviating from my pattern of trying new food, in that I am providing the tried and true of my life, hummus.

The first official event where I tasted hummus was a huge Lebanese feast for my graduation from high school. Ha, just kidding. The feast was provided by my then-boyfriend’s mom for his graduation, which was my event too. It just so happened I met his extended family for the first time at this meal. I met my BFF there, but that is another story.

I still remember vividly the food I had never seen or heard of before. My primary gaff was taking a big serving of what I thought was ambrosia (whipped cream with coconut and canned fruit cocktail) only to have it taste like a mouth full of pool chlorine and something slimy. It turns out this was plain yogurt with cucumber bits and dried mint, Luban and kheyot. I nearly puked it back onto my plate. It was embarrassing then but eventually became classically funny in the family’s retelling. Now luban and kheyot remains one of my favorite dishes and one I couldn’t get enough of when pregnant.

Despite my grandmother showing my sisters and I how she made bread, rice pudding,
cookies, and the like without mixes, my own mother considered herself anything but a slave to domesticity. She was a fifties housewife who took pride in keeping up with all the innovative, easy preparation meals of the day, like ambrosia. This was the era in my own mind of beige and white food served with varied Jello™ dishes.

Despite being married for only 10 years, these 30 years since I have preferred Middle Eastern menus to my childhood’s processed foods. My one criticism of my favorite standard Middle Eastern dishes (especially those my MIL served): yogurt, flat bread, hummus, baba ghannouj, fatayer, and the ubiquitous rice pilaf; all the food is white, beige or otherwise blah looking. My only recourse is to heap vegetable crudités, beds of swiss chard, piles of fruit, etc. to feed the eye.

Despite a monochromatic color palette, one of the finest things about the Lebanese meal, in my own mind, is the great diversity of dishes all served in smaller bowls with an ample supply of flat bread, which serves as an implement to scoop food, roll food, wipe lips, clean the plate, etc. One of the advantages of this approach to serving food, called mezza, is the array of bowls allow small leftover servings to appear okay, not too tiny, odd or out of place. Great for the no waste kind of challenge.

These days does anyone need to be told that hummus is a creamy puree of chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste) seasoned with lemon juice and garlic? It seems the ubiquitous dip is known by all. As I said, my initial introduction was when it was a popular spread and dip throughout the Middle East, yet virtually unknown in the mainstream US diet.

Hummus can be served as part of a mezza platter; with bread or vegetable crudités for dipping; as a spread or filling for pita, flat bread, lavash or Turkish pide bread; or as a tasty, creamy alternative to butter in sandwiches. A spoonful or two of hummus can also be added to Middle Eastern or Greek-style pilafs and stews to add richness.

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
14 oz (400g) canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)—rinsed and drained
½ cup tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt

PLACE all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally. Serve with olive oil drizzled over top.

Variations: If you like a spicier hummus, add a small red chili (chopped or dried flakes) or a pinch of cayenne pepper, or try a little cumin for a more authentic variation.

Tip: Prepare extra quantities of hummus—it can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week and frozen for up to 3 months. I fixed it daily one summer when I needed to carry a lunch and had no access to refrigeration. My view was, if Bedouins prepared and carried hummus in the desert, I could carry it around without worrying about refrigeration.

I actually prefer to soak chickpeas and then cook them until soft. If the chickpeas are old or tough this can take some time. Therefore, I pulled the crock pot from the shed and let them cook for hours. I will be trying a solar oven as soon as I make one or buy one.

more Lebanese recipes . . .

Now, my idea of playing with my food – my sense of humor – would be to serve the crudités like these images that were passed around on email.

Flickr hummus image

H51: Health at Every Size (HAES)

I hadn’t planned on writing about this right now, but I am so put off by the comment threads, the posts at my favorite blogs that I changed my mind. I am going to quote heavily from Kate Harding of Shapely Prose. Especially moving for me is her essay, Fantasy of Being Thin. I encourage full reading here.

My point today is to buttress my own spirit rather than to race around the blogs and try to ‘counsel’ or ‘fix’ or ‘lecture’ anyone else. This essay of Kate’s was meaningful to me because I feel I have spent a half century being manipulated by my culture into believing myths. This Myths America katecontinued thread covers a range of areas from Women’s bodies, to Bu$h SOTU Lies, to US imperialism, to Superduperorgasmic media pimping to Diets don’t work and to the Misogynist campaign tactics.

Besides the myth that America is the greatest nation on earth, these are some the themes that spark my need to blog. Let me just say that confronting myths, betrayals, disappointments is a certain kind of anguish. It is the death of a dream, a crisis of hope. I say this despite the fact I value truth over fairy tales. And that is a good segue to fantasy.
Obese patients are often encouraged to believe that weight loss is an appropriate way to combat depression, save a failing marriage, or increase the chance of career success. The irrationality of hopes pinned on weight loss is so striking that dieting might almost be likened to superstitious behavior…. Passing from childhood into adolescence, leaving home, marrying, starting a new job, having a baby, experiencing marital difficulties, adjusting to children leaving home, and growing old — all these life situations may become unexamined reasons to diet. In other instances, concerns over weight mask even more serious problems.”

-Wooley and Garner, from “Obesity treatment: the high cost of false hope,” published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 91, no. 10, 1991.

Kate begins with this quote found in a co-blogger’s writing. As a starting place it is telling how my own thinking about the obesity crisis as overblown and fueled by a consumerist economy and that fat acceptance was a vital step in my own understanding of the statistical rejection of dieting or that dieting and exercise did not spell thin. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know about Health at Every Size might check out all of the resources and questions answered here. This is a whole ton (excuse pun) of information to absorb and also ease into the acceptance of a fat body as worthy of love and not something to direct shame and revulsion. And this struggle is what Kate captured for me.

But then, the other day, I got to thinking about a particular kind of resistance that shows up every single time anyone dares to say that dieting doesn’t work — the kind that comes from other fat people and amounts to, “DON’T YOU TAKE MY HOPE AWAY!” Those of us in the anti-dieting camp are frequently accused of demoralizing fat people, of sending a cruelly pessimistic message. I’ve never quite gotten my head around that one, since the message we’re sending is that you’re actually allowed to love your fat body instead of hating it, and you can take steps to substantially improve your health without fighting a losing battle with your weight. I’m pretty sure that message is both compassionate and optimistic, not to mention realistic. But there will always be people who hear it as, “I, Kate Harding, am personally condemning you to a lifetime of fatness! There’s no point in trying, fatty! You’re doomed! Mwahahaha!”
Despite all of the encouragement to accept one’s self, to be active, to live the life one chooses without needing to wait until one is thin enough, the magical thinking continues. Some examples Kate offers up from her own life:
• When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
• When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
• When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
• When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with.

[Snip] In light of that, it’s a lot easier to understand why some people freak out when you say no, really, your chances of losing weight permanently are virtually nil, so you’d be better off focusing on feeling good and enjoying your life as a fat person.

[Snip]Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land. And that might just be why I’d pushed that part of the process out of my memory: it fucking sucked. Because I didn’t just have to accept the size of my thighs; I had to accept who I am, rather than continuing to wait until I magically became the person I’d always imagined being. Ouch.

That is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is “a thin person waiting to get out” — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER.

In paraphrasing her point, I needed to find out that my fantasy to be a mythical me was more than being a thin me. For me it was to acknowledge I wouldn't be a katemastered instead of katecontinued. I need to know that my story, my life won’t be about completing a deadline, achieving an end goal. It will be my own continuing saga in progress.

Accepting myself has always has been more difficult than taking on a regimen of some sort. Mounting a campaign to change myself is a great motivator, an energizer for me. Knowing this is a plus. I know now that even though it is easy enough to slip into a weight loss challenge to pump myself up, it is damaging. So, I recognized the adrenaline rush to make-a-plan when I contemplated a sustainable challenge instead. For myself, the sustainability movement helps ground me. My body, specifically my archetypal body, as a mature woman feels more natural than ever before. I am healthy yet my loss of strength and fitness are keeping me from feeling great. But I know I will get these back over this next phase of my life, my life challenge. It is the natural progression in stepping outside and reconnecting to nature, my garden and my community. And it means not only eating locally, organically . . . but eating instinctually.

H50: H is for Humanity, Habitats, Health, Happiness and HIPPO!

Happy Monday. The sun is shining and my heart is aching for something to celebrate. I found it.

Project H, an organization that promotes, inspires, and delivers humanitarian product design, is funding 50 Hippo Rollers for a series of 17 villages in Kgautswane in Northeastern South Africa. Hippo Rollers, if you haven’t seen them before, they are amazing barrel devices that allow the millions whose livelihoods depend on the daily fetching of water to more safely and efficiently access and transport water. The roller holds 3-4 days worth of water for a family of 7, about 5 times the amount of water that can be moved using traditional methods, which frees up time for more productive economic and educational activities. It’s an amazing product and an amazing story of good design enabling communities.For $100 you can sponsor the manufacturing and delivery of one roller in your name, which will be personally delivered to a family in Kgautswane this April by Project H Design. If you believe in the power of good design, here’s your chance to show it! Check out the Hippometer to see how many rollers have been funded to date.

I am not sure about fair use here - as I have lifted the entire promotion from the website without re-writing. And I am reluctant to write too much because I am blubbering with my admiration of such a realistic design serving a real need. Words fail me and that is rare. I am pretty fucking articulate.

The rollers will be delivered to the community this April, as a gesture of support and a catalyst for more collaboration on larger water systems projects within Kgautswane. Here are the details:

What Project H is funding: 50 Hippo Rollers for a group of 17 villages in the Kgautswane community of Northeast South Africa- total population 120,000

Deadline: April 1, 2008

Total amount needed: $5000 (50 rollers, $100 each for production and delivery)

Levels of Donation:
$100- one roller for one household
$500- five rollers for a small micro-community
$1000- ten rollers for a village

Founded by Emily Pilloton (Inhabitat’s Managing Editor), Project H Design is a charitable organization that supports, inspires, and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design solutions to global communities in need. Project H champions industrial design as a tool to address social issues, a vehicle for global life improvement, and a catalyst for individual and community empowerment.

+ Project H Design

G49: Graffiti Humor

I will try to find the link to this first one.

I am crazy about Banksy. Maybe humor is a clumsy word for the satire that is Banksy. Most of these are his. For more information, here is an interview of this British artist. There is a mix of outdoor and indoor work. Having a sleepy day, see ya' later.

G48: Glasses for Global Poor

My father was an optometrist, so vision was stressed in our home. This concept is something that seems to have come from some science fiction novel.
Spanish Designer Nacho Martí is helping underprivileged people see more clearly. A recent Top Nominee of the Index Awards, Marti’s Stenop correcting glasses bring 20/20 vision to poor people around the world who can’t afford expensive crystal glasses. Glasses are replaced by rows of small holes using the concept of stenopeic vision. Stenop glasses can reduce 80% of myopia, hyperopia and presbyopia. The glasses are plastic made in one single piece and mass produced.

These holes have the effect of reducing the width of the bundle of diverging rays coming from each point of the viewed object. Just central rays reach the retina avoiding focusing errors. They have a very low cost and can be heavily distributed worldwide around kids of poor schools. They are durable and can be done in different colors depending types of skin. Despite the stenopeic glasses were invented long time ago, their production method are slow and as expensive as the crystal glasses. This project optimizes the production method, making the glasses very cheap, light and unbreakable.

On the theme of consumer goods, this is revolutionary.

Nacho Marti
Hat tip Project H Design via Inhabitat

G47: Girl Goop

A 100% reduction achievement would be to list the products, procedures and services I call Girl Goop below and declare them all out of my life. Not so much.

  1. nail polish
  2. hair spray
  3. foundation
  4. blush
  5. tanning booth
  6. cellulite cream
  7. false nails
  8. false lashes
  9. hairpieces
  10. hair permanent
  11. hair dye
  12. hair rollers
  13. hair accessories
  14. nair
  15. tampax
  16. ky jelly
  17. birth control pills
  18. perfume
  19. cologne
  20. bikini wax
  21. wrinkle cream
  22. toner
  23. breast implants
  24. facials
  25. estrogen cream
  26. razor
  27. lipstick
  28. lip gloss
  29. lip liner
  30. eyeliner
  31. eye shadow
  32. mascara
  33. tweezers
  34. facial cleanser
  35. wonder bra

There are some great new sustainable versions of the above ‘required’ items for menstruation like the Diva Cup. Being past that fertile (or interested) stage, I admit ignorance of any recommended birth control. I still can get cranky about the fact that old men can get erectile dysfunction solved, yet there still isn’t safe, effective birth control. Aaaaargh.

Full admission here. . . Even though I am no longer young, many of these products I never used or used infrequently. I often felt more like a drag queen if I tried to get made up for a big event. It just felt like playing house. That is no doubt why I was drawn to the images from Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, Divine and Rocky Horror Picture Show when writing about this.

The Women’s Liberation movement came along at a perfect time in my life. I was being cajoled into thinking I needed all sorts of assistance to ‘be a woman.’ My older (by 18 months) sister and my younger (by two years) sister both seemed to delight in the potions and cosmetics. But I felt put-upon about the girlie stuff that changed every season. As a feminist I found my own voice, my own way of saying no to that push. I have no idea why my sisters and I reacted differently to the advertisers or to the feminist voices. Since those days I have often felt the need for some girlie goop. I am grateful it didn’t happen more often or more expansively.

The frugality of just not buying all these products or services or procedures was a major reason I persuaded myself to avoid it all. I still use lipstick, eye make-up and the occasional ‘product’ to help my hair curl. I even have a bag of curlers I can turn to after letting my hair grow out too many months after another haircut is due. Other than that I just can’t get excited about all the products out there, no matter how sustainable, sensual, inexpensive or honest.

Having said that, I will still say that the Anita Roddick - Queen of Green, Body Shop founder is a hero of mine. She is missed.

Yet, five years ago I hit a really vulnerable patch and I actually started believing I should consider plastic surgery. The high paying job ended and the only good part of that is I got a brisk splash of reality in my nip and tuck daydream. I suspect I would have roused myself, but I can’t be sure. I shudder.

In the above list I own about nine items. Maybe in another post I will mention what they are. Suffice it to say I have achieved a serious carbon reduction for not using or eliminating 26 of them. But, hey I am ravishing without the accoutrements. Hawt! (A nod to the fire element, ahem.)

G46: Growing your own

The idea is that fixing food that is local, seasonal, organic is easy. Growing it all ourselves is a bit harder but not a rough as this. . .

G45: Green Onions and Guava

Such excitement I could dance . . . Finally I thought I would be writing about food from my own garden. It could be my first 100 foot diet meal – or portion of a meal. But, yesterday I plucked some of the small green onions from my raised bed and found that they were sort of mushy or water logged. Now, the initial excitement that something was growing in my garden bed is replaced by disappointment. Maybe it is because I’d dumped the full contents of worm poo from my wormery onto the raised bed last autumn and then covered it all in black plastic. I just don’t know.

Then I decided I could salvage a bunch of onions by pulling away the outer parts. I was going to fix a lentil dish with these onions for Tuesday night dinner. Mini-crisis means I had to fix this in my crock pot, so it wouldn’t be ready for dinner. Adding rice to it will replicate one of my favorite Lebanese dishes. It is served with dollop of yogurt as garnish.

The disappointments continue . . . The guava is still hard as a rock. I found that I don’t know enough about this fruit I got at the Farmer’s Market. I didn’t buy a ripe enough couple of pieces. So back into the brown paper bag for a few more days. I also don’t know how to prepare guava. I looked at recipes and the deserts and drinks didn’t appeal to me. Only one recipe for a cheese and guava samosa looked good. But I just don’t want to go buy all of the other ingredients. So, this will have to be an ongoing experiment. I suspect I will simply cut the fruit and eat it when ripe.

Best-laid plans . . . and all that. Then there is this bit of bad luck.

I found that my Mr. Induction cooker was broken. I unplugged it to plug in my food
processor. When I plugged it in Monday night it lit up like the dashboard of a car. But nothing was on but the lights. I know that this technology is different enough that finding someone to repair it is out. Hell, standard technology still doesn’t mean a person can find a repair place. Thing is, I love that induction cooker. It heats really quickly and things cook in half the time of electric or gas. ONly the pan heats, it turns off itself if it overheats, it is cool to the touch moments after it turns off. I love it. Grrrrr . . .

G44: Global Groceries

Following my talk of my own grocery shopping, I want to turn to the images that hit the internet last year. This series was shown on many websites and titled, “One Week’s Worth of Food Around Our Planet.” According to the site, where I found these a commenter stated that these photographs are a fraction of what are shown in the original book. The book is Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D'Aluisio. I was struck by the great difference in the food eaten by the various families, the size and make-up of the families, the huge cost of food disparity between different groups and how appalling the American diet seems compared to the developing nations.
Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25. .
This is a family of four. Note the amount of packaged foods alongside fresh fish and vegetables.

The next family is the largest in this post with 9 individuals. Granted half of them are children, but that is a lot of people to feed on $31 a weeks.

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo Food expenditure for one week : $31.55 Family recipe : Potato soup with cabbage.

This last family is the most berift of what we would consider adequate food. Imagine feeding six people on $1.25 a week. I know that is a naïve statement, given different economic structures between all of these countries. But, it is still a frighteningly low amount of money to feed a large family, including young children and a nursing mother.
Only after reading further is it clear that this is the breakdown of food is as follows.

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23 Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat. Not available to them.

Meat, Fish & Eggs: $0.58**
Goat meat, dried and on bone, 9 oz; fish, dried, 7 oz. Note: Periodically, such as at the end of Ramadan, several families collectively purchase a live animal to slaughter and share. Some of its meat is eaten fresh in soup and the rest is dried.

Fruits, Vegetables & Nuts: $0.51**
Limes, small, 5; pulses ration, 4.6 lb, the seeds of legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans. Red onions, 1 lb; garlic, 8 oz; okra, dried, 5 oz; red peppers, dried, 5 oz; tomatoes, dried, 5 oz.

Condiments: $0.13**
Sunflower oil ration, 2.1 qt; white sugar ration, 1.4 lb; dried pepper, 12 oz; salt ration, 7.4 oz; ginger, 4 oz.

Water, 77.7 gal, provided by Oxfam, and includes water for all purposes. Rations organized by the United Nations with the World Food Programme.

Food Expenditure for One Week: 685 CFA francs/$1.23
**Market value of food rations, if purchased locally: $24.37

You may well find reviewing these photographs is hypnotizing. I did. Here are some more links about this work of Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio here and here. The NPR story says,

The husband-and-wife team wanted to see how globalization, migration and rising affluence are affecting the diets of communities around the globe.

Each chapter of their book features a portrait of a family, photographed alongside a week's worth of groceries. There's also a detailed list of all the food and the total cost.

We now are able to find in our grocery stores the foods, the tastes from around the globe. But, what terrifies me is that the fast food, the over processed and empty food, the GMO food will all be available to the families around the globe. Not shown in this post, but a delicious looking assortment of food was the Turkish diet. Only I was struck by the discordant addition of Coke.

This is not a good thing.

G43: Groceries

Suddenly I found it much simpler. That’s a lie. It really wasn’t sudden, it has taken years and yet it now feels so elementary I can’t believe it.

Let me back up, I bought a bunch of jars to store my food sixteen years ago. I have used these jars and added to them with the free jars from spaghetti sauce with the lids painted black. I then added some plastic ones to the mix several years ago when I was trying to organize a group living situation (where we have all moved onto other things).

Last year I started giving myself a ‘pounding’ each month. I would go to the bulk food section and buy legumes, beans, nuts in one pound portions. This year my plan was to make cloth bags and continue this practice. That was before I started reading all of the predictions of peak oil, biofuels and greed pushing prices up. According to Casaubon’s Book, the situation is only getting worse with some needing to make the choice between eating and heating. My plan changed to calculating buying enough for the year.

Full disclosure means I confess that perfectionism has hobbled me for 7 weeks. First, I gave my local Henry’s bulk food manager a list of food I buy with the directive to let me know where each legume, grain, bean and nut is grown. He went on vacation, then gave me the list with assurances that the majority comes from California or the West Coast. Then I found Jimbo’s and more organic products. Where to buy? Next, my quest was to find free storage containers that were not plastic. I got one large jar from my son’s restaurant. He balked when I asked for a dozen more. They simply don’t go through that many olives or marichino cherries. Lastly, I didn’t have the cloth bags, so I didn’t want to go get my bulk order. Finally, the perfectionism became stupid.

Friday night I finally sewed six fabric bags. Let me preface this by saying that I bought this bolt of fabric (<$20) at JoAnn’s Fabric, Phoenix in 2001. I kept thinking I would make sheer curtains and I never did. Now, seven years later I finally decided to bust out the sewing machine and get busy. I made the bags and found the plastic jars in my shed (filled with cotton balls, q-tips, scrubbies, band-aids, etc.) and a large plastic bin ($.50) at the thrift store. Though I still lack some storage to do what I would prefer, but I believe I am getting there.

Sharon is offering an online course on storage, but I don’t have the income. Again, I think I will just keep moving ahead and learn as I go. If nothing else, I am happy to think I have most all the bulk food I will need for the year and Chile will be please with my Re-think It use of found objects, long after her challenge is over.

Here’s another thing. I read some time ago about using a personal wire basket for grocery shopping. I thought it was a great idea and was trying to figure out how I might pull this off without buying anything. Then it occurred to me I could simply use my laundry basket, the one I got at the thrift store right before Thanksgiving ($4).

Can I tell you how incredibly easy it was to grocery shop this weekend? I went to the grocery store with my laundry basket, bags and list of bulk foods. I went straight to the bins and filled my bags and put them into the basket. I had to use the twist ties as I hadn’t sewn on ties or pre-marked the bags for content, as I’d initially planned. But, the whole thing just made me grin at the checkout, very soon after I’d entered.

Then on Sunday I went to the Farmer’s Market for the vegetables and fruit for the week. I did get a treat of locally made pumpkin bread wrapped in cling wrap. But, all in all I see my grocery shopping getting more simple. Without packaged goods, convenience foods, paper products, toiletries or cleaning products – It’s. Simply. Food.

F42: Fast Food - A Quote

When we're eating fast food, we're not just eating the food, we're eating a set of values that comes with the food. And it's telling us that food should be cheap. It's telling us that food should be the same no matter where we are on the planet. It's telling us that advertising confers value. That it's OK to eat 24 hours a day. That there are unlimited resources. It's telling us that the work of the people who grow or raise the food is unimportant -- in fact we don't even need to know. And all of those values are informing what's happening in the world around us. We're ending up with malls instead of beautiful places to live in.
Alice Waters

I remember fifty years ago when the beginnings of fast food, processed food took a great leap. The TV dinner. And the great excitement with the cheap hamburgers followed . . .

F42: Finished!

I am so happy that I finally got my project done. Early in January I wrote about this Art Project that made me think of Tesseract. Yes, the reference is pretty esoteric, but it is a sort of memory reference.
Right after I started it, Chile Chews had a Re-think It Challenge and I felt this project was a perfect example.

I also wrote about my friends loaning me the air compressor in my Borrow and Barter post to help put all the blocks up more easily.

I feel like a big weight has been lifted from me. This idea was in my mind's eye for almost 3 years, every single day. As my eyes opened each morning I saw the hideous soffit that revealed all of the original trailer and added pile up of materials. It was like looking at sedimentary layers of rock with foam insulation oozing out from between them. My hanging wire sculpture by artist Sasso, foundly named empty man, only made it a focal point. At last I have a more pleasing sight.

I just wish these photos weren't so lousy. They simply can't communicate my utter delight and how it really looks good. Really.

F42: Food PSA

I am off to the Farmer's Market and grateful for another sunny day. The video below is something I would love to see in schools or as a PSA. Remember back in the days of Public Service Announcements, before the Fairness Doctrine was wiped away.

U.S. Broadcasting Policy

The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

Hat tip to Scream to be Green - I just discovered this morning after Jason left a comment at Crunchy Chicken.

F41: Feminists Speak

Two women I consider heroes have spoken up for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I happily share their words here.

F40: Flatpack and other miracles

I find this Treehugger design item so incredibly appealing. Go to Treehugger for links to the Designers.

Casulo, a new concept for mobile living originated in June 2007 as a part of the dissertation of Marcel Krings and Sebastian Mühlhäuser at the Köln International School of Design in Cologne.

The concept is the best part. I believe this could be a template for handmade versions, a solution to homeless populations, mobile populations, refugees, disaster situations or college dorms.

If you can’t get enough, check out this kitchen. I would eliminate all of the excess of appliances which might be replaced with composting systems or solor cooking with a skylight above.
I like the symbolism of a food preparation area being the pivotal center of the living space. I have not shown the image with curved doors to close off the whole unit. For temporary housing or a transient population, it could be wheeled into place with only the basic hook-ups.

And how about the hidden bathroom? I would say this is beautiful, efficient design to maximize space. Back to back installations make storage, plumbing, graywater and/or composting systems centralized.

Not necessarily only for the homeless, this concept could be used for a mobile population to transport essentials. I guess I am thinking to a time in the future wherein populations in crisis might have some minimal dignity and control over each one's fundamental items, one's critical 'stuff' while in transit or transition.

My point in sharing these is primarily to share what I think is real innovation, re-thinking of how we use space and our built environment. The minimalism appeals to me and is in keeping with living lightly. And to go for the cliché - out of the box thinking.