Cleveland County Conservation District
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Helping People Reconnect To Our Environment

EcoLogue

THE LONG HAUL

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I have often said that my mind works in mysterious ways, for instance last week I was stuck behind a trash truck and as the not so gentle smell drifted towards me I started to wonder, "How much food is in that truck?".

Now I know that other things can contribute to the smell, used diapers for instance, but it's mostly food. And from there my mind was off and running. I started to make up scenarios in my head about what happened to put the food in the trash; burnt meals, sell by date rejects, left overs, new recipes that went horribly wrong, or produce that was left to become someone's High School experiment.

Then my mind jumped to the cost of that wasted food. How many food dollars were in that truck, how much does it cost the city to clean the trucks, does the food lead to other issues at the landfills such as scavengers? Who pays to control them? What about the health of the workers? Is their health affected due to transporting all this rotting food?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions, so unfortunately they will have to remain a mystery. What I do know is none of that food heading to the landfill belongs to me, I compost! And because I compost, I have healthy soil, a clean trash can and happy worms. For me, composting is where it's at, and I'm in it for the Long Haul. My mind can rest a little easier because I also know that I'm not alone, more and more people are practicing composting at home, and that is a big load off my mind!

-Chris Ward

THE OLD BAIT & SWITCH

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

  Have you ever heard the old Chinese Proverb, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" - Lao Tzu?  It's the kind of proverb that raises goosebumbs and gives us continual hope for mankind. But human nature being what it is the environment usually comes out with the fuzzy end of that lollipop.  Truthfully the proverb should say this, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll need to go to Wal-Mart". 

Cause realistically he's gonna want stuff, a rod, reel, waders, a cool hat, tackle box and accessories, cooler, nets, stink bait, and eventually a boat with sonar & radar, a trailer, new truck and a time share cabin near some pristine mountain stream. And who could call themselves a true fisherman without a bumper sticker that says, "Work is for people who don't know how to fish".  We can't seem to help ourselves, it's beyond our control.  It's the call of Retail, from an early age we have been convinced that every hobby, life experience or right of passage requires a ton of stuff.

But what if we're wrong?  What if all fishing requires is a rod, reel, some worms and a desire to eat? What if living environmentally friendly worked like that as well?  What if all you needed was an awareness of conservation?  What if it wasn't the right recycling bin or rain barrel, what if its more about what you don't do instead of what you have?  Being environmentally friendly isn't complicated, but we humans are contrary over achieving creatures.  

I'm an professional student of human nature.  I watch my neighbors every spring haul out; lawn mowers, fertilizer spreaders, weed eaters, trimmers, edgers, leaf blowers and sprinklers.  I have lunch with a friend who hunts, he tells me about his deer stand and how proud he is of the watering/feeding station he ordered from the internet and set up under his tree. He tells me about his night vision goggles with zoom, the new camouflage vest with 20 pockets and how long it takes to set up his motion sensors.

I'm not above the laws of Human Nature either.  Several years ago, I took a cake decorating class with my sister and like every other student, I got sucked into buying every item known to man to decorate a cake.  If the Cake Boss ever collapses with a sugar coma, he can rest easy knowing that I've got his back.  

But when it comes to being environmentally friendly, less is more. Less packaging, less water, less electricity, less travel, less stress and less stuff to keep up with.  There's nothing fishy about being green, its all about less and nothing more.

-Chris Ward

Happy EARTH Day!!

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

 Today is Earth Day, and being an everyday environmentalist it makes my Top Ten Favorite Holiday list.  Granted, it doesn't have a cool spokesman like Santa, Cupid or the Easter Bunny, but nonetheless, we got game!

Since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, we've come a long way.  During speaking engagements, I no longer see blank stares pointed in my direction when I use words like; conservation, composting or reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.  If I ask how many people in the room; practice water conservation, worm composting or energy efficiency, have a rain barrel, use organic methods, or grow their own I see at least 3-4 hands shoot up and wave with pride.

Green practices if you want to call them that, no longer belong to the outer fringes.  It's not a fad; these practices have developed into society norms.  They have become a part of our daily lives.  Large corporations research and develop new packaging and products that are gentler on our environment.  Take Back & Recycling Programs are in stores, large chains sell "green" lines.  Farmers Markets and grocery stores that support local produce are popping up everywhere.  Cities around the country and the world are paying attention to water conservation and have recycling programs.

Do I think that our environmental problems have been solved? No, we have a long hard road ahead of us.  But for today, our 44th Earth Day, let's take a moment to appreciate how far we have traveled down that road already and celebrate our successes.  Go hug a newly planted tree, recycle something or start a compost system.  Then, throw a trash free, paper free, locally sourced picnic in Earth Day's honor.  Take the day to celebrate because tomorrow it's back to work and we have a lot left to do.

Now that I think about it, we have a pretty cool spokesman for our Earth Day holiday, its right beneath your feet, above your head and wrapped all around you.  And as soon as we can figure out how to significantly scale down its size, Earth will be coming to a mall near you so your kids can sit in its lap for those holiday photo opps that are so important to grandmas everywhere.

Happy EARTH Day!

-Chris Ward

TRASH TALKING TO MYSELF

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I have a lot of conversations with myself, and I am quite often impressed with my opinions on certain subjects, but sometimes I disagree and the trash talk begins.

I didn't hear much from myself when I decided to stop using trash liners; I had nothing to say when I decided to stop using the dryer and to adjust my digital thermostat to to 66 in the winter. nor did I speak up when I decided to use water in the rain barrels to do my laundry. But when I decided to remove the trash can in my kitchen.....I didn't even know that I knew that kind of language!

I didn't understand the animosity, I mean I compost, I choose my purchases to reduce packaging, I recycle.  What was the problem?  Turns out I had a lot to say on the subject, beginning with the overly mature response, "That's just stupid".  How can you engage in an intelligent debate with such a stance?

We started by discussing my reasoning.  I don't use the kitchen trash can that much, it's an eye sore and it takes up much need floor space, oh and all the eco reasons I mentioned above. But my response never really moved above, "that's just stupid".  Whatever, I'm doing it anyway.

My superior intelligence won the battle again, besides, I used the old tried and true standard of, "Because I said so!".  And as any child of Mother born knows, that's the ballgame.

We are currently on Day 14 of Operation Trash Can Free in the Kitchen, and all is well.  It's been a learning experience for me about habits.  And it turns out I have had to be slightly creative on occasion, but that's another post.  I have grown used to the new regime and have little to say about it these days. I threw myself kicking and screaming into accepting the idea, but eventually I grew to love it.  Although, I did have to ground myself for a few days, because some of the words I used in rebuttal should never be spoken outside of an OU vs Texas game.  Really!

-Chris Ward

Over the Long Haul

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have often said that my mind works in mysterious ways, for instance last week I was stuck behind a trash truck and as the not so gentle smell drifted towards me, I started to wonder, "How much food is in that truck?".

Now I know that other things can contribute to the smell, used diapers for instance, but it's mostly food. And from there my mind was off and running. I started to make up scenarios in my head about what happened to put the food in the trash, burnt meals, sell by date rejects, left overs, new recipes that went horribly wrong, or produce that was left to become a High School Science experiment.

Then my mind jumped to the cost of that wasted food. How many food dollars were in that truck, how much does it cost the city to clean out those trucks because of the food, does the food lead to other issues at the landfills like scavengers? How much does it cost to control them? What about the health of the workers? Is it affected due to transporting rotting food?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions, so unfortunately they will have to remain a mystery. What I do know is none of that food heading to the landfill belongs to me, I compost! And because I compost, I have healthy soil, a clean trash can and happy worms. For me, composting is where it's at, and I'm in it for the Long Haul. My mind can rest a little easy, because I know I'm not alone, more and more people are practicing composting at home and that's a big load off my mind.

-Chris Ward

A Love Letter to Our Great State

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

  Oklahomans don't understand the meaning of small talk, I have had some of my most informative conversations with total strangers while waiting around somewhere.  Being held hostage in a waiting room with 5-6 other people, you find that within 5 minutes of saying, "How bout them Sooners", that you are amongst other college football experts engaging in a debate that would rival anything seen on ESPN.  Saying, "Wow, its been a great year for tomatoes", while in the check-out line will soon have you looking at garden pictures on smart phones and exchanging Facebook links.  And, the weather is NEVER to be confused with a safe opening line, we take it very seriously here.  Every 5 year old native Okie is raised to read radar, know the precautions to take in 110 degree heat, and understands that their own town can suffer both floods and drought in the same year.  Saying something about the weather to an Oklahoman will never be a short conversation, especially now.

On May 20th, the most destructive tornado in our history struck Moore.  And although I live in Moore my family and home survived, but I can't say that I was not affected.  My city was crippled and 24 of my fellow residents lost their lives.  We were not alone; Shawnee, Newcastle, LIttle Axe, Carney and Dale were also struck during those two days last week.  Being a 4th generation Oklahoman I know that natural disasters and challenges are a way of life here; however I can't imagine ever leaving Oklahoma for two simple reasons. This is home, and Okies have an inherent talent for ignoring the path of least resistance. 

We belong to this land, we would never give it up without a fight, nor could we allow so many of our neighbors to carry this burden alone, it is the Oklahoma Spirit.  Within 10 minutes of the tornado leaving Moore, people who had lost everything themselves were helping their neighbors dig out from under the rubble.  Within an hour, the first of the responders were on site; firefighters, police, medical personnel and those equipped to look for survivors.  Within 24 hours, donations of food, water, shelter, clothing, and money were flooding into the area.  Businesses, churches, state and federal agencies as well as individuals by the thousands donated everything that they could.  Fellow Okies gave their blood, sweat and shared their tears.

Within 48 hours, water and electric services were restored to most of the areas of Moore outside the damage path.  A week has passed now and all but two major streets are open again and clean-up has begun.  The sheer volume of the destruction is mind boggling, it is estimated in Moore alone that over 13,000 homes were destroyed.  We lost 4 schools, numerous businesses, our hospital and post office.  We were driven to our knees, but we took that opportunity to ask God for the strength to do what must be done now.  Then with the compassionate outreaching hand of our Fellow Oklahomans, we got back up and took the first steps on the long hard road to recovery.

We will rebuild, no one doubts it.  Oklahomans have  patience, passion and perseverance, it's in our nature.  You can see it whether we are talking about football or facing adversity.  We are a state of diverse individuals that stand together during times of crisis because together we are strong.  Together we are Oklahoma, and we are going to be ok.

-Chris Ward

Picture is from New York AP.

THE POPCORN DILEMMA

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (1)

 I recently underwent a crisis of eco-conscience.  Granted it only lasted about 30 seconds, but I truly suffered during the process.  Here was my dilemma, if I somehow personally profit from a green choice, and I a true Ecoist?  If I receive a reward for an environmentally friendly good deed do my motives become suspect and somehow turn the deed into one of self interest?  Does the self interest factor cancel out the green practice?  Conclusion.....NAH!

How can it count against me if my bank offers me the incentive of free fresh popcorn just because I came in instead of driving thru?  But, should I be worried about the state of my subconscience value system?  Well, not today, because I made the right choice for myself, I chose Door A. -  the greener option.  We all do things everyday that have a happy ending with a self reward.  Being energy efficient and paper free is beneficial to our planet, but it can also save us a lot of money and that is definitely in my best interest.  But, in order to be true to the environmental cause, should we return that money.....yeah, I'm not going to either!  

I am paid to be an Ecoist, it is my job and I am good at it because I care about the environment, but does the fact that I popcorn profit take away from the results?  Why should ulterior motives matter if you took the right turn and didn't get lost?  I am not going to stop carpooling to meetings just because I enjoyed the ride.  I am not going to feel guilty because one of the main reasons I bring my own bags is because they won't tear when the baggers overestimate my upper body strength.  I am not going to stop worm composting just because it results in the best garden in a five state area and allows me bragging rights.  I am not going to stop bringing my lunch to work with me just because it saves me money and because I enjoy my own cooking. Why should I?  For me it is all about the green choices that I make and not why I make them.  I can live with me ulterior motives, as a matter of fact, I rarely notice them most of the time.

You have to be amazed that I went through all of that in 30 seconds, but it appears that I have a short eco-conscience attention span.  I do the things that I do because they make me feel good, and if by doing good the Universe provides me with fresh popcorn, why agonize over it?  I'm not keeping score, nor do I weigh my motives against the end results.  But if I were to keep score...... I have to tell you, I think that because they allow me to put that popcorn into my bag, I should be receiving double bonus eco points!

-Chris Ward 

WARNING: THIS POST DOES CONTAIN NUTS

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (1)

When I left my parents house seeking my own identity, fame and fortune, I took with me the list of cleaning supplies my mother used in our house.  These were the products that I grew up with, each had a specific job and I believed, as my mother did, that your house wasn't clean unless you could smell pine and bleach.  I was in for a shock the first time I went to the grocery store clutching my list; my cleaning supplies took half my budget!  But they were a necessity and it continued like that until I had my second child.  My son had very sensitive skin and my first old friend to bite the dust was my Gain laundry detergent.  When I came out of my mourning period which amounted to a moment of silence, I took a deep breath and began the search for a greener and may I say cleaner laundry soap.

The more research I conducted, the more it became clear to me that I needed to make my own cleaning supplies.  I was in Nirvana, this stuff was so easy and cheap to make, but I had some rewiring to do first.  Turns out suds don't equal clean.  What!?!  I need bubbles...how do I know that the soap is doing it's job unless I have bubbles, everybody has bubbles.  I had already gone through the painful process of deciding to break up with Gain, what more could the universe ask of me... come on!  Every site told me that soap bubbles usually indicate Sodium Laureth Sulfates (SLS) and it is harmful to the environment, commercial companies add it to give you bubbles.  It's like the cherry on top of the Sundae, you don't need it, you probably don't eat it, but boy do you notice if it's not there and the Sundae just looks naked.  So I was left with a Gain-less life and a naked Sundae, yeah.  But things got better, the first recipe that I tried for laundry powder worked great!  But, as I became more and more concerned about the environment, I discovered that the soap bar that I was grating to make it contained petroleum products, and the search began again.  I am not going to tell you about all the chemicals found in some commercial products, you have heard it all before, but for my family, I wanted to be chemical free.  I found Soap Nuts.

Soap Nuts are the berry form the Soapberry or Sapindus Tree, and they produce a natural surfactant saponin that makes them a powerful tool in your quest for a green clean house.  I will admit that I spen 15 minutes stuck on a mental loop contemplating the irony of calling something a nut that was in fact a berry, but I eventually found the exit.  If these nuts worked as advertised, I had found my answer.  A nut that would clean my clothes and could then be composted....no waste, no additional packaging; I felt dizzy, but ordered some immediately.

I fell in love with Soap Nuts and imagined starting a fan club that would go international bringing me the fame and fortune that has so far eluded me, but I had laundry to do back in the real world and that dream was forwarded to my environmental bucket list.   The company that I use sends me a little cotton bag with each order and you place 4-5 nuts in the bag, if you wash in cold, you need to place the bag into a cup of hot water to soften them up.  Then, place the cup of hot water, and the bag containing the nuts in the wash.  You can reuse them until they turn a grayish color, and then compost them.  My Soap Nut evolution continued as I learned how to make liquid soap from them, and there was no stopping me when I learned you could freeze the liquid for future use.  I started to use the soap to make shampoo, in the dishwasher and as an all purpose cleaner.

Over the years, I have learned many lessons that I want to share with you about Soap Nuts.  To make the liquid, boil 4 cups of distilled water, remove from heat, add 7 nuts to the water, replace the lid and allow to steep overnight.  In the morning, remove the nuts and squeeze all the goodness out of them and toss them into the compost.  I usually double or triple my recipe in order to freeze some in ice cube trays or in recycled 4 oz glass jars.  Soap Nuts are a natural product and the liquid will spoil quickly outside of refrigeration.  If you do keep it in the fridge, label it because it can resemble apple juice and you don't want to hear that story.  Soap nuts can be found locally now at some of our Natural Food Stores.

To make an all purpose cleaner add: 2 c. distilled water, 1 T. vinegar, 1 T. of the liquid soap.  As an option, you can add an essential oil such as lemon, tea tree or lavender as an additional disinfectant.

I love my Soap Nuts, but I still get nostalgic about Gain.  I have been known to sit closer than accepted in polite society when I smell it on someone's clothes.  And I would never camp outside of a store on Thanksgiving for Black Friday sales or wait in line for 24 hours to buy tickets to anything, but....it they ever produce an essential oil blend that resembles the scent of original Gain, I would body check a senior citizen to get to it.  

-Chris Ward  

BANANA PEELS ARE ANOTHER SENSITIVE SUBJECT

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

This article was written by contributing writer, Marc Jensen.

There is no question that Americans send an astronomical amount of garbage to the landfill every day, even if the only thing that is considered trash is post-consumer waste.  One recent estimate, (http://recycling.colorado.edu/education ) and puts the figure for garbage at 4.4 pounds of post-consumer waste per person per day. This would mean that in a city the size of Norman (110,925 people), 488,070 pounds of trash would be generated every day.  This number is staggering.

One of the really interesting things about garbage though, is that depressingly big number is really made up of a few small influences that have been multiplied 110,000 times, so relatively tiny improvements made by individuals can quickly add up to impressively large landfill diversions through that same multiplier effect.

Here is an example.

At our home, we keep a compost tpile to divert our kitchen waste away from the landfill and into the garden.  Each day when I come to work, I usually eat at least one piece of fruit.  Instead of putting the peel/rind/core/pit in the trash, I make it a habit to put it in a lunch container and take it home to feet my compost pile.

For the sake of argument, let's say that I eat a banana at work every day, and that a banana peel weighs 1.75 ounces (I've only weighed one, but it was of average size).  If I come to work 250 days a year, that single act adds up to over 27 pounds of material diverted from the waste stream annually.  Assuming that I otherwise produce the average 4.4 pounds of waste per day, this banana peel represents 2.5% of my daily waste.  Keep in mind that this is just one person eating one piece of fruit a day on weekdays.

Now consider this with the multiplier effect.  If just half of the people in Norman did just this, that would be 1.35 million pounds of waste diverted from the landfill in a year.  That's a lot of fruit rinds, but it doesn't actually represent a huge effort.

Dr. Marc Jensen

Our waste production is a slippery slope that must be dealt with sooner rather than later.  (Sorry, couldn't help myself, I was going with the banana theme.) 

- Chris Ward, Cleveland Co. Conservation District.

LET'S TALK TRASH

Posted on September 21, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 The Reduce Your Waste Line Challenge begins on Sunday and I have been busy posting daily diet tips on our Facebook page (click the FB tab on the right) and through the email to those of you who requested them.  If you are interested in taking the Challenge, please visit our Events Tab (click Events, not any of the options in the drop down menu) for more information.  I wanted to share my tips with you here as well and encourage you to share any of yours that I might have missed.

  1. Use Cloth Diapers
  2. Question the End Life of all your purchases.
  3. Donate & Shop for Used Items.
  4. Bring Your Lunch to Work or School.
  5. Reduce Your Consumption, or Buy Less.
  6. Stop Junk Mail
  7. Compost
  8. Make Your Own Baby Food.
  9. Use Rechargeable Batteries.
  10. Make Your Own Cleaning Products.
  11. Cook at Home.
  12. Use the Library.
  13. Find Alternatives for Disposable Items.
  14. Eliminate Your Use for Plastic Bags & Bottles.
  15. Shop Farmers Markets & Food Coops
  16. Reduce Your Paper Use.
  17. Give Your Recycle Bin Some Love, or Recycle What You Can.
  18. Reuse Everything Possible.
  19. Remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Rethink.  Wrap Up.

Each day I posted these tips with an explanation and ideas, and sometimes added possible sources and websites that offer assistance such as www.earth911.com .  Some of our Facebook Friends added their own tips, and are worth checking out. Our waste is out of control, and because we only have so much room to dump it all, it is so tightly packed that it can take forever to break down.  It is up to us to reduce our waste output and the simplest way to do so is to reduce our consumption of disposable products, because if you think about it, if you don't buy it, it doesn't become waste in the first place.   We also need to make our purchases based on the funeral arrangements of the product.  Play the End of Life Game, ask yourself, when I am finished with this product can it be recycled, composted, passed on or will it have to be thrown away?  If it doesn't fit into the first three, is there an alternative available that will fit?  Could you buy better trash?

Our Challenge is a way to audit your trash.  What goes in there?  Could it be diverted away from the dump, reused by yourself or someone else, could it be recycled, or replaced with something that will last longer?  These are the questions you will need to ask yourself during the Challenge, the goal is to significantly reduce your waste by the end the week.  When I say significantly, I mean, so much that you and your family notice a change.  This is by no means a scientific experiment, for that you would have had to audit your trash a week before, weighed it, and documented each item before you disposed of it curbside.  Then you would have had to repeat the process during the Challenge and compare notes.  The District wants you to pay attention to your trash for one week, determine where you can improve and maybe begin some new habits by using the tips that we have provided over the last few weeks. We are hoping that by taking the Challenge, you might only have half a trash can load or less to take to the curb instead of your normal 1-2 full loads and will continue to do so.

Trash talk only hurts us when you don't do something about it, so take the Challenge, reduce your waste line, loose some of those unsightly pounds and be entered to win some great prize.  What do you have to lose except trash? 

THE 2012 GOODWILL TOUR

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

  I have a frugal soul. Long before I became interested in Conservation, I loved to garage sale, go to Flea Markets, thrift shops and antique stores.  I haunt auctions and Estate Sales and I can haggle, barter, dicker and negotiate with the best of them. Add this to my environmental interests and you can image the total euphoria that encompassed me when I was invited to take a tour of the Goodwill Corp Office in OKC that also houses their training center and recycling efforts.

Goodwill and I have had a long and happy partnership.  During me lean and hungry years they helped me furnish my home and cloth my children.  These days, I check with them when I want to buy something new like a vegetable steamer, which I found by the way.  I have donated things to them and shopped there for years and although I knew that they recycled I had no idea the sheer volume of recycling that they handle.

My tour was conducted by Chris Daniels, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries in Central Oklahoma and Sarah Steffes.  The tour started with the classroom where the Recycle Technician and Environmental Technician Training is conducted, these training courses are provided through a grant from Green Jobs. Then we went into the recycling warehouse, where pallet upon pallet of unsalable stuff is waiting in a 60,000 square foot warehouse to be recycled. As a matter of fact, Chris told me that they can recycle and have venders for just about everything except treated lumber. They are as far as I am aware the only source to recycle Styrofoam available to the public in Oklahoma, and they are working on buying the part that will allow them to clean and recycle Styrofoam cups and shells so they can accept and recycle them as well.  The decision to recycle wasn't just an environmental choice, it was equally an economic one.  They receive over 280,000 lbs of donations a year and for whatever reason over 40,000 lbs a year had to go to the dump.  That was an expense they could no longer afford to keep up with, so they searched for solutions outside the box. They found paying vendors for all plastics #1 - #7, glass, metal, paper and cardboard.  They have vendors for shoes, fabric & material scraps and recycle up to 25,000 lbs a day in textiles. They work with a  vendor that takes the Styrofoam and produces work gloves, and Dell takes all the electronics.  Goodwill now makes money off of what was once a drain on their budget.  They once had to take over 30% of their unusable donations to a landfill, today that number is more like 4.7%.  And the largest number of all... their recycling efforts will generate $1.6 million in revenue this year!  

Goodwill has always been my partner in dealing with stuff.  They take the stuff I no longer needed, wanted, or inherited from someone else and sold me other people's stuff that I did need. I am glad to report that they are also a fully functioning environmental partner as well.  I encourage you to drop off your recycling at any Goodwill Donation Center, especially those citizens without a recycling program or with a recycling program that doesn't take everything like glass or some plastics, its money in the bank to Goodwill.

How much better could you possibly feel about recycling knowing that not only are you diverting some of your waste from a landfill, but you are supporting a local organization that makes money off your waste to help your neighbors in need. You are essentially bringing Goodwill to your fellow man and to the Earth one hole ridden sock at a time.

FINDING THE FOOD CONNECTION

Posted on July 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

   I'm sure I don't have to tell you the importance of fresh food produced locally, but when was the last time you had a meaningful relationship with a farmer?  If it's been awhile, you have to put yourself out there, they aren't going to come knocking on your door, at least it's never happened to me.  Not knowing your farmer is like accepting a blind food date.  You don't know where your food's been raised, how it was treated during it's early development, or even how old it is. So many unanswerable questions and you are already fully committed. How your food was raised is an indication of how it will perform for you later and what it will contribute to your health and happiness.

In my experience, the best place to hook up with a farmer is at a Farmers Market, the place is crawling with them. No matter what type you are looking for you will find him/her at the Market and hopefully find true food.  Think of yourself as a contestant in The Dating Game.  The goal is to find a farmer and possibly form a lasting partnership on your path to true food.   I am not saying you have to commit to the first farmer you meet, keep your options open, after all there are plenty of farms in Oklahoma.

If you are in a hurry, consider speed dating, have a carefully constructed list of questions ready, then go around and interview  each farmer to find your perfect fit, this can be done during one trip to the Market.  Or, if you are a dating service kinda person, shop at Native Roots Market, Forward Foods, The Earth, Natural Foods or Dodsons, they narrow the choices down for you, but most of it is still local food.  If you are too busy, get yourself a professional matchmaker and  join a CSA or the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. Speaking of the Food Coop, they are the perfect place for farmer trolling.  They have a list of their producers on the website and a brief bio so you can check out each farmer from the comfort of your computer without that first date awkwardness.  Find out if the farmer has a website or facebook page, then you take a look.  

Be bold and adventurous and pick several local producers.  I keep a stable of farmers, I have a bee guy, a produce guy, a chicken chick and my meat gal.  I truly love them all and couldn't pick one over the others.   I know their growing methods, where their fields are located, and the names of some of the chickens that lay my eggs.  I know that they are looking to grow true food and care as much about our relationship as I do.  

So dress up with your best reusable bag and head to a Farmers Market.  Get to know and support our local farmers, and relax, believe me they are just as interested in hooking up as you are. You have nothing to lose and great deal to gain. Just name your first meal after me.    

TRASH IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (2)

Trash, garbage, refuse, no matter what you call it, it's the stuff we no longer want and the subject of a cautionary tale.  When the City of Los Angeles banned plastic bags in May they became the largest US city to do so. That article made me wonder just how much trash was collected weekly in Cleveland County.  So, I made some phone calls and this is what I found. 

  • City of Noble, 6500 citizens, over 108 tons of trash weekly
  • Lexington, 2200 citizens, 24 tons weekly
  • City of Norman, 100,000 citizens, over 1,500 tons weekly
  • City of Moore, 55,000 citizens, over 960 tons weekly

That's a lot of trash.  Almost 2,600 tons of trash weekly, it is over 10,000 tons monthly and approximately 125,000 tons annually in Cleveland County.....alone.  But trash is never just trash, it is money.  When you think about it, everything that ends up in your trash cost you money, none of it was free, you paid for that packaging.  And you will continue to pay for it, in the fee that you pay to collect it, store it and remove it when it causes environmental damage.  It even costs you to recycle it, it is in effect lost money, money thrown away.  I like the 4 R's when it comes to trash, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink.     

Consider what you purchased yesterday, what percentage of it became trash?  Could you have made any adjustments to allow for recycling instead of the dump? Do you look at your purchases with an eye towards its final demise, where it will end up and how much it will continue to cost you both environmentally and economically?  If trash equals money, how much did you throw away today?  LA's City Council made an excellent environmental decision when they banned plastic bags, but it was also a bottom line financial decision as well. It will save them money in the long run.  In todays throw away society it is important to remember that you keep paying for your trash for a long, long time.   This beholder doesn't see beauty here, just the beast.