Thursday, January 11, 2007

Climate challenge

Mother and Daughter out for a Wintry Walk Pass the Woodcutters at Work Felling Trees by Francis Bedford

We are having another stormy day today. For days the weather is wet and windy. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say. Not really apart from the fact that we notice how windy it is and that the stormy weather is scaling wind speeds that can damage property, trees fall down on a regular basis and the fields and roads are flooded. What we have is extremes of weather such as droughts in summer and floods in winter which in the short term can be a mere inconvenience, yet in the long term should make us aware that weather patterns are not as they used to be. Flooding does little for the fields. Waterlogged fields means drainage is not sufficient and floods erode the top soil. We may lose trees not only because the wind catches their tops and topples them over, but because their roots are not strong enough to hold on due to soil erosion, drought and floods. Our garden lies sheltered behind a row of trees in an old quarry and when the wind comes in, it resounds around the bowl of the quarry. Some trees at the top of the quarry ( 50 feet higher) can come crashing down. ( We do not park cars very close to the wall in winter weather).
I have finished reading ‘ heat’ by George Monbiot and this has ofcourse influenced our decisions in taking the issues of global warming seriously. In the end analysis he is right in saying that we do not like taking action because it is our behaviour that needs to change fundamentally. Deciding to no longer fly for instance makes travelling long distance a thing of the past and yet we still can make choices. In the future, our children may well not be able to make those choices. Reading about the energy waste in supermarkets and the amount of fuel used to heat the supermarket, freeze and keep produce cold, travel there and back, the miles the food travels to get there has made me think about how we shop, why we grow vegetables and how generally we can work towards dealing with this differently.
As a result I aim to empty my freezer by the end of March of all food that is not needed before the new harvest comes in later in the year. I have noticed that my freezer is a convenient dumping ground for special offers and interesting items that may come in handy one day, yet one day very rarely comes along. Emptying the freezer and not using it for 2 months will mean that we will use less electricity to run it, and we will have a much better idea of what we like and dislike.
Being able to purchase food on demand will be in the background of eating seasonal food, purchased locally. What we grow and keep for winter will be discussed as we go along. Not so long ago when freezers were not in existence, we managed to hibernate in winter with a harvest and cupboards full of goodies. I want to work towards that this year. Growing vegetables, harvesting fruit and creating a menu that reflects what is available. This will give rise to a new category, seasonal produce, which will include recipes.

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