Monday, December 10, 2007

Accidentally Green

When I moved to Montana it wasn't with the intention of creating a more "green" life. But that's exactly what's happened and I couldn't be happier about it. I figured my carbon footprint here: and mine came in at 12.245 tons of CO2 per year, well below the average of 20 tons. I figure it's even a little lower because some of the questions, like: "Do you eat red meat?" I answered yes to, but the red meat I'm eating is a deer that my friends killed and we all processed over the weekend.

Why is my footprint lower? Here are some reasons:

I drive a Toyota Corolla and I only drive about 1500 miles a year.

I eat probably 90% local organic produce.

I buy a lot of my clothes and household appliances second-hand.

I wash in cold water.

I don't have a dishwasher (now, that one was really an accident, but I've turned washing dishes into a meditation opportunity!)

Most people aren't aware that one of the biggest energy sucks in our society is the food industry and how we as individuals choose to shop, cook and eat. In "The Balanced Plate", by Renee Loux, she talks about this:

In the last 50 years, however, the food industry has radically changed. This change not only pervades the growing of food but also the processing, distribution, politics and consumption of food. Farm productivity has increased 80 percent since 1960, butu the population living and working on farms has dropped from 40 percent to 2 percent. Family-run farms are on the verge of extinction, and in today's global economy, the dependence on seasonal, regional food no longer exists. Moreover, modern farming has truncated tried-and-true systems with a chemical revolution. We are growing more food on less land with higher profit margins, lower prices, and the loss of a majority of the once prolific varieties of any given food for two, three or maybe four standard varieties, which dominate the market without contest.

And if like me, you're interested in why we should be concerned about that, I'll offer another quote from "Diet for a New World" by John Robbins:

Less than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the U.S. is used to grow food for people. The majority of it is used instead to grow livestock feed. . . . It takes sixteen pounds of grain to produce a feedlot of beef. It takes only one pound of grain to produce a pound of bread. It is hard to grasp how immensely wasteful the feed conversion ratio for beef is. By cycling our grain thorugh livestock and into beef, we end up with only 6 percent as much food available to feed human beings as we would have if we ate the grain directly. If Americans reduced their red meat consumption by 10 percent, enough grain would be saved to feed sixty million people!

I highly recommend both of these books for anyone interested in becoming more aware of how our individual choices can make a big difference in healing our planet as well as ourselves. The agricultural methods prevalant today lay waste to the land and produce food with little to no nutritional value.

Oh, and if you're wondering about heart attack, cancer, osteoporosis, ADHD and ADD, you can find the reasons for it by researching the food industry, the beef and dairy lobbies and taking a good look at what's on your dinner plate.

I did really well with my first deer processing experience. That is until they brought that carcass out that you see in the picture - at which point I had to take a serious break. Peggy & Tom were real understanding about it though and took over until I could get back in there with them. I have enough meat to last me until next year. All it cost me was the gas to drive to Peggy & Tom's and the small amount of beef and pork to add to the burger and sausage to provide some fat. And not only that, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the sustenance my little buck is going to provide me over the next year and I feel very connected to this food. We tested the breakfast and italian sausage yesterday morning and it was so good! I've got roasts, tenderloin, fajita strips, stew meat, burger and sausage. It's healthy meat and there was no extreme energy suck to the planet to produce it.

This week I've decided to go one step further in the "greening" of Angela. I'm going to start composting. Look forward to more appetizing photos in the future!

I invite you to visit Renee's fabulous website to begin your own personal exploration in going green, eating well and helping save the planet.

Please tell me about your "greening" experiences and any resources you know of for further education. Thanks, ya'll!


Shorewood High School Class of '76 said...

I really have to eat over at your house soon, Angela. Don't you think?

What a GREAT post!!!


Angela said...

You know you have an open invitation, my sweet. Gonna be lots of good cooking going on this winter!

Diva Carla said...

I love venison. Great with Lefty's BBQ sauce (family recipe).

It would be delicious with orange on orange risotto, my latest treat. (food focused lately, I'll get back to art.)

And I'll talk about my greening or lack of greening. Right now I am not green, burning lights when I should be sleeping!

Angela said...


You know, of course, I'm going to need those recipes. Orange on orange risotto sounds especially intriguing.

jennifergg said...

I love this post! It was really fun to do the carbon footprint. We did well, except for our vehicle, but...I have an excuse! I'm ususally driving around three other people (kids) and a dog!

We're a wild-game family, too...elk is my very favorite, antelope next (tastes like sage!) and deer too. Like you, I feel so much gratitude and connection to the animals that sustain us.

You did great on the game processing! I cry a little bit each time an animal is taken, and this is what, 16 years later? I think it's okay to be sad, it IS sad. And it's a way of honoring the cost of living, and of saying thank you. I always, always say a prayer of thanks.

Diva Carla said...

Angela, the Lefty's BBQ sauce is a family secret and the family bizness, so I can't give that recipe, but I'll send you a bottle.

The orange on orange risotto is not my recipe, but I did publish as my latest blog entry. You gotta try it, it is from the seductive Bill, my videographer. YOu may want to substitute another oblation for the wine blessing in the recipe.

miss*R said...

I buy locally grown as much as I can or even try to grow my own. I have been composting for years and have compost bins all over my yard.. a few months ago, I did a series of workshops with our local council about green living and learnt quite abit.
I did my carbon footprint awhile back, mine was lower than average too but not quite as low as yours. well done!

Angela said...

Why, thank you, Miss R, and welcome to Eclectic Recovery.

bella said...

It's interesting. Many people assume that urban life is less "green". And yet we live in a small apartment which takes significantly less energy then a sprawling house. We walk everywhere. We very rarely buy new things as there is so many treasures in all the second shops on every street. And we eat local organic produce through a co-op from a Michigan farm.
One added benefit of menopause? :) I'm so freakin hot all the time that the thermostst is set MUCH lower this year. :)

Angela said...


Us menopausal women may end up saving the planet!