Take a moment and consider the following statistics:
Groceries and food are unique in that all Americans buy groceries and food—the difference being that food can be purchased both in its ingredient form (e.g. groceries) and its prepared form (e.g. restaurant meals)—regardless of income level, race, etc. This is literally something that we all should be interested in.
I would contend, however, that most consumers do not give a second thought to groceries outside of what they write on weekly shopping lists. Granted, there are informed consumers who seek to maximize their grocery dollars or seek to spend their grocery dollars on products that match a certain set of beliefs. In a nearly $850 billion market there are a lot of people who just go about their business in a routine.
It’s not merely about funneling dollars from corporations that do not share your beliefs—although that is a big part of the allure—but also about creating an economic system where small purveyors can access markets. If you are a producer of anything, be it food or lawn mowers or children’s toys, supply to Walmart means being big. Like really big. If you are a local grower with a seasonal schedule Walmart or Kroger will not even take your call.
However, these are the kinds of enterprises that we need to support in a world where our food increasingly comes from fewer and fewer suppliers. It is not a sustainable or resilient system to have single points of failure for entire segments of our food system. That is where we stand right now. If Tyson Foods went out of business tomorrow how much chicken would disappear from the shelves of your grocery store? My guess is a lot.
This is where our grocery spend comes into play. We can choose to spend our grocery dollars on a daily basis at stores that support local providers. The best part is that this is not a change that requires a serious capital outlay—like buying an EV or installing solar panels—and it does not require large lifestyle changes—you are still shopping for groceries after all.
The goal is to find a locally owned retailer of groceries and shop there as much as possible. It’s a little like George W. Bush imploring the American people to go shopping after the attacks on September 11th.
It’s a little more complex than that, but the idea is extremely simple.
In my household we spend an average of ~$770 per month on groceries based on actual spend going back to last summer. Yes, I have a problem with tracking things on spreadsheets. My goal is to direct as much of that monthly spend to local retailers and providers of food. It is fairly easy for me to shop local since I have access to an excellent cooperative grocery store—NewPi—and a vibrant selection of farmers’ markets when the weather improves. I would contend that most people also have access to these kinds of retail outlets. Take a moment and find your local coop.
As it stands right now for the year, our household spend is ~40% local. There is much room for improvement.
Posted in Food, Household, Uncategorized
Tagged coop, farmers’ market, food, fresh, groceries, grocery store, Iowa, Kroger, local, monopoly, NewPi, resilient, supply chain, sustainable, Tyson Foods, Walmart
The world is full of bad news. However, a beacon of hope was shining this week when it was announced the Wyld Stallyns would be returning for a third installment of most excellent adventures.
San Dimas high school football rules!
On to the links…
What Genuine, No-Bullshit Ambition on Climate Change would Look Like—Here is the deal: We have the tools necessary to make a serious effort to combat the causes of climate change. We understand the risks of climate change and we can estimate the costs. We have no excuses.
Winter Athletes Aren’t Going to Let Snow Vanish Without a Fight—I am a member of Protect Our Winters, but if you are a skier or a snowboarder or anyone who just likes winter you should be a supporter.
695,000 Winter Sports Jobs at Risk Due to Climate Change—Those million dollar houses are not going to be worth very much when the ski slopes are abandoned for lack of snow:
EPA Clamping Down on Public Records Requests Related to Scott Pruitt—Take a moment to remember that Donald Trump was the political outsider who was going to “drain the swamp.” Too bad he just found the worst creatures to repopulate his swamp.
Passengers ‘Lashing Out’ At Scott Pruitt Justify First-Class Travel, New EPA Memo Says—People were going to be mean to Scott Pruitt so he had to fly first class. That is the logic of these people. It is also just corruption and thievery.
EPA “Head” Scott Pruitt Discounts The Value Of Human Life—This is dynamic scoring for the pollution set. Your health and well-being does not matter one bit compared to the profits to be gained by soiling the air, ground, and water. This is the world of Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt.
Rick Perry Suggests Using ‘National Security’ to Override Opposition to Pipelines—If “national security” were really the goal, would it not be a better solution to produce power as locally as possible so it was not reliant on an exposed infrastructure?
Sun And Solar Power Cut Electricity Demand From New England Grid To Lowest Ever—Demand for baseload power dropped to a level lower than when the sun is not shining. Solar works.
For First Time Ever, Solar Dominates UK Power Supply—This is the United Kingdom, famous for its notoriously gray weather, not Spain, famous for its sun.
US Wind Development Surges As Pipeline Exceeds 30 Gigawatts—The pipeline is critical because these are the projects that will keep the industry humming along until we can vote out the fossil fuel soaked members of Congress and the sitting President.
U.S. Added 2,000 Wind Turbines in 2017—AI Would Add 2,200 More Today—It’s not about adding more wind turbines, but wringing more power out of the wind turbines that we have already installed. Combined with replacing the oldest and least efficient wind turbines there is a huge opportunity to expand power production.
The Puerto Rican Families Who’ve Gone Off the Grid—Puerto Rico is the unintentional laboratory for renewable energy and resilient microgrids. What this community has learned the hard way will be good lessons in our rapidly changing climate.
The Miracle of Finland: What a Tiny Northern Minnesota Town can Teach America—In a less industrialized and less carbon intensive world I think that things will begin to look a lot more like Finland, Minnesota.
Cheap Tires Are Costing You Money and Probably Also Killing the Planet—I have a car enthusiast friend who always says, “People will spend five bucks a day on a cup of coffee, but want to save a few dollars on tires which are the only thing between you and the road.” I have the same feeling about bicycle tires as well.
Posted in Linkage, Uncategorized
Tagged cheap tires, climate change, corrupt, death threats, electrify, EPA, Finland, first class, linkage, links, microgrid, Minnesota, off grid, POW, Protect Our Winters, Puerto Rico, resilient, Scott Pruitt, skier, snowboarder, snowflake, wind energy
Solar power should scare the daylights out of anyone who generates electricity from coal, natural gas, and/or nuclear. Why? It works like some sort of middle ages alchemy.
After two half-days of work, a grip load of procedural hoops, and about $11k in cash I had my solar system installed on my roof:
Now, it just sits there generating what I hope will be more than 100% of my annual electricity needs. More so, it does it in the most unspectacular way. The panels just sit on my roof, unseen from the front of the house, soaking up the sun silently day in and day out. When I go to work the panels just sit there soaking up the sun without any intervention on my part. When I go on vacation the same deal applies.
If you take into account the tax credits that I will receive from the federal and state governments, I am looking at a net cost of approximately $6k to generate all or more of my electricity needs from the sun via solar panels on my roof. I keep looking around wondering if there is a catch that I missed somewhere that states this is not really possible.
Solar power used to be the stuff of Mother Earth News and Homepower, both great magazines but hardly the harbingers of mainstream adoption. Sure, the hippie dippie science teacher at your middle school had solar panels, biked to work, and wore tie dyed hemp shirts but he was an outlier. Solar power is no longer an outlier. It is something that nearly everyone, including someone like me who lives in a very “basic” suburban home in a nondescript development in eastern Iowa, can put on their roof and break free of the fossil fuel monopoly.
These are seemingly dark times. The threat of climate change is real. Our government is led by a cadre of profiteers in the pocket of business interests with a nominal figurehead who is the single most unfit human to ever hold that office. Our civil society seems not so civil anymore as polarization and animosity appear to be at extremely high levels compared with the relative calm of the recent past.
However, I hold out hope because solutions to some of these problems seem so close at hand. We have the tools to create lasting and meaningful change that will lead to a resilient and abundant future.
Posted in Eco-Activism, Household, Uncategorized
Tagged abundant, carbon emissions, climate change, fossil fuel, hope, house, inverter, photovoltaic, renewable energy, resilient, roof, solar, solid state, tax credit