Eating in the year 2043

Today’s post is from a guest blogger, Maria Mesa of cookorgasmic.com—a blog about food-related activities, especially enjoying food.  She is an active member of Transition Palo Alto and enjoys reading comments and suggestions from readers.

The National Geographic of January 2011 published an article that estimates a total of 9 billion people for the year 2043. This article got me thinking about the magnitude of the challenge that we will be facing very soon: the need to feed a global population of nine billion with a diminishing supply of cheap fuels available to fertilize, plow, and irrigate fields and to harvest and transport crops. Optimistic estimates of peak oil production forecast the global decline will begin by 2020 or later, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production believe that a proactive mitigation may no longer be an option; a global depression is predicted, perhaps even initiating a chain reaction of the various feedback mechanisms in the global market that might stimulate a collapse of global industrial civilization, potentially leading to large population declines within a short period.

Almost two centuries ago Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin stated that the destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed. The removal of fossil fuels from the food system is inevitable. Only the amount of time available for the transition process, and the strategies for pursuing it should be matters for debate. The end of the cheap fossil fuel era must be reflected in a change of diet and consumption patterns among the general population, with a preference for food that is locally grown, that is in season, and that is less processed. A shift away from energy-intensive, meat centered diets should be encouraged.

Rob Hopkins, in The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience, does not give an exact set of solutions to face peak oil production and climate change, since he believes that what works in one place will not necessarily work in other places; however, he does believe that localizing is the broad answer: stronger local economies, increased local democracy, strengthened local food culture and a more local energy provision. After reading Hopkins’ handbook, I decided to try to imagine how people would eat in the future, and I decided to pick the year when the world’s population would include 2 billion more people and when even the most optimistic estimates of peak oil production predict major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations.

For the purpose of this exercise I will imagine the life of a fictional lawyer in the year 2043, John Doe, who lives and works in Silicon Valley. When John Doe is not in the courts dealing with the usual family and criminal litigation, he is occupied growing food at the town’s farm. After the U.S. government finally rationed energy, when the oil prices became prohibitive for fossil-fuel-based agriculture, Silicon Valley organized into small towns or no more than 5,000 people. These local communities rely on biointensiveagriculture, and most include industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Food became a central activity in the lives of people since the cost of food started to use up at least 50% of the typical budget, and people’s only alternative became to participate directly in producing and processing food in the town’s many new farms. Even lawyers and other specialists could no longer command unusually large incomes, so they too worked in food production.

John Doe works on a local farm for two hours before having breakfast in the communal dining hall at 8 AM. Parents eat with their children in the communal dining halls of their children’s schools. The food offered in these dining halls is mostly produced in the town’s farms, with a small portion coming from each school’s edible garden. Children work in school kitchens, where they experience culture, history, language, ecology, and mathematics through the preparation of food.

John Doe goes back to the farm from 9 AM to 11 AM. John has discovered the pleasures of working with the land, and he is experiencing the satisfaction of harvesting his food and seeing it end up in his plate, he is also rediscovering the superior taste of local and organic produce. Lunch is served (also in the communal dining hall) at 11 AM. After lunch John Doe litigates in the town’s courthouse until late evening, and then John returns to his house and participates in the preparation of food with the people that live in his lot.

The menu is seasonal, mostly based in grains, vegetables and fruits, but lamb, chickens, rabbits, and other small farm animals that feed mostly from grasslands are occasionally part of the diet as well as the fish caught in the Pacific Ocean. Main courses in the communal dining hall menu include grilled sardines, chicken al Mattone, fried rabbit, braised grass-fed goat, fish and shellfish in broth, spit-roasted pork loin, sautéed black cod, spit-roasted guinea hen, spot prawns, rack and loin of lamb.

The dramatic changes in the food landscape in America triggered the most remarkable improvements in health in the United States, in which diet-related diseases had been the biggest killer, two-thirds of Americans were overweight or obese, and children had a shorter life span then their own parents. Americans came out of the limbo of gastronomy where they were, and in the year 2043 they know how food arrives at their table. They understand that food is almost as important as language; it provides a sense of identity to a nation even more so than language. The alphabet for food is the produce, the grammar is the recipes, the syntax is the menu and the rhetoric is the conviviality. The way Americans will eat in the year 2043 will depend on the willingness of the Americans of the year 2011 to learn food’s language or to stay in the limbo of gastronomy.

Local Garden Share

Neighbors Sharing Food/Flowers/Herbs from their Gardens

Sunday, May 22, 11 AM – Noon  FREE !

Common Ground Garden Supply & Education Center
559 College Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

The first local Garden Swap was held August 21,2010, with people coming together to share produce, chat and get to know one another. Four other events followed where home gardeners met for a free exchange of garden bounty. Here is one guest’s rave review: “What a great event, like a free farmers’ market – grapes and raspberries and oranges and two types of apples, sage and oregano and rosemary and thyme, sorrel and a plethora of tomatoes, seeds to save and plant, and some beautiful flowers. Thank you!” – Rani

Sunday, May 22 will be the kick off event for the 2011 season.

Join us to share garden bounty. Bring what you have to share; take home something you don t.  Think of it as a free backyard farmers market.  (And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, the California Ave. Farmer’s Market is happening concurrently.)

Bring your homegrown fruit, vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, flowers, seeds, & plant seedlings!

Throughout the Bay Area, neighbors are coming together for sharing locally grown, fresh produce. Our Palo Alto sharing event is supported by a coalition of community ecological organizations and neighborhood groups including: Acterra, Barron Park Green Team, Barron Park Garden Network, Barron Park Assn., Common Ground Garden Supply & Education Center, City of Palo Alto Community Gardens, Slow Food South Bay, and Transition Palo Alto.

Building Backyard Gardens

On Saturday, May 14th, volunteers and community members in East Palo Alto will come together to deliver and install up to ten backyard gardens for eager beginning gardeners. Many of these gardeners have completed a twelve week course of cooking, nutrition, and gardening with Collective Roots, and are excited to launch new lifestyles full of healthier, more environmentally sustainable, home-grown food.

Come help install raised beds and plant spring gardens to make these new lifestyles a reality!

To register for this event, or if you have any questions, please e-mail:  nicole at collectiveroots dot org.

TEDxManhattan Streaming Party

Slow Food South Bay presents:

TEDxManhattan Streaming Party

Changing the Way We Eat

Saturday, February 12, 2011,  7:30 AM – 3:00 PM

World Centric Community Space,
2121 Staunton Ct, Palo Alto, CA

On February 12, The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming will host TEDxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat, a one-day TEDx event on sustainable food and farming. It will explore our food system — from what happened, to where we are, to what we are doing to shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming. In an effort to have as many people as possible participate, the event will be webcast live.

For those of you unfamiliar with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), it is a small non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, using talks and performances. Thought leaders from around the world are invited to give presentations up to 18-minutes long that explore important topics to society. All of the talks are recorded and available in an archive at TED’s web-site. Some memorable talks include, Dan Barber’s How I Fell in Love With a Fish and Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish: Teach Every Child About Food. Check them out and get hooked.

Then plan to join us at World Centric on the 12th. The line-up is impressive, including Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, makers of King Corn, Brian Halweil of the Worldwatch Institute, Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA and many more. You can get the full list at the TEDxManhattan web-site. There is no schedule for individual speakers, but the event will be broken into sessions:

    7:30 AM – 9:15 AM : Session 1 – What Happened?
    9:15 AM – 10:30 AM : Break
    10:30 AM – 12:15 PM : Session 2 – Where are we?
    12:15 PM – 1:00 PM : Potluck Lunch Break
    1:00 PM – 3:00 PM : Session 3 – Where are we going?

Come for one session or stay all day. Those of us staying over lunch time will plan to share a potluck lunch together. Bring something simple, seasonal, local – something sustainable – to share with your neighbors.

(This event is brought to you by a number of partners: Collective Roots, Slow Food South Bay, Transition Palo Alto, Transition Silicon Valley, and World Centric.)

Holiday garden, cookie and craft exchange – Dec 11

Saturday December 11th 2:00 – 3:30pm FREE !
World Centric Community Space
2121 Staunton Court, Palo Alto

Join us for the holiday community free exchange of garden bounty & Holiday creations. Bring Holiday cookies and decorations to swap & your homegrown fruit, vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, flowers, and holiday greenery to trade!
 
Throughout the Bay Area, neighbors are coming together for swapping and sharing locally grown, fresh produce. Our first Garden Swap was held August 21, with people coming together to share produce, chat and get to know one another. Four other events followed where home gardeners met for a free exchange of garden bounty. Here is one guest’s rave review: 

“What a great event, like a free farmers’ market – grapes and raspberries and oranges and two types of apples, sage and oregano and rosemary and thyme, sorrel and a plethora of tomatoes, seeds to save and plant, and some beautiful flowers. Thank you!” – Rani

Saturday, December 11, we will expand the concept to exchange homemade holiday creations, as well as all great late fall produce, such as persimmons, lemons, and oranges.  Bring cookies and other sweets, crafts, decorations, & greenery to exchange for the handmade goodies of your neighbors.  Expecting that some of the cookies will be eaten on site, we will provide apple cider to quench your thirst.

Come for the food, come for the community.  Hope to see you there.

Our Palo Alto exchange is supported by a coalition of community ecological organizations and neighborhood groups including: Acterra, Barron Park Green Team, Barron Park Garden Network, Barron Park Assn, Common Ground, Palo Alto Community Gardens, Slow Food South Bay, Transition Palo Alto & World Centric.

You can print out this PDF of the event announcement to hand out to friends and co-workers.

(Information courtesy of Jan Butts)

Garden Swaps – Sept 25 and 11

Garden Swap
September 25 (Saturday) 11 am
Common Ground Garden Supply
559 College Avenue, Palo Alto, off of El Camino Real

[A Slow Food Event will be held at the same time - see below]

September 25 – Dig In! Breaking Ground, Breaking Bread

Join Slow Food South Bay and partners Acterra, Barron Park Green Team, Barron Park Garden Network, Barron Park Association and Transition Palo Alto in the parking lot of our host Common Ground for a Garden and Food Swap as part of Slow Food USA’s National Work Day – Dig In! Breaking Ground, Breaking Bread.

Backyard gardeners, home canners and other people who enjoy the Slowest of food, here is your opportunity to meet like-minded people in your community to exchange the excess produce of your garden, seeds, home-made products, recipes, ideas and more.

We intend this to be a regular event, to be scheduled according to the desires of the members and the produce of the season. As such, we are in the process of creating a database of people and their produce which will help us connect with each other on a regular basis.

Recognizing that a Garden and Food Swap is the most local of events – you neither should nor want to drive half way across the county to swap your excess apples for someone else’s excess tomatoes – we intend to replicate this event at a number of other locations throughout our region as we can.

Come help us kick-off what should be a great project. Bring your tomatoes. Bring your grandmother’s secret tomato sauce recipe. Bring your ideas. If you live in or near Palo Alto, you’ll want to check this out, so that you can help organize it and plan to attend regularly. If you live elsewhere in the area, you’ll want to check it out, so that you can help set up a swap in your neighborhood.

[Text from Slow Flood South Bay Newsletter]

Garden Swap
September 11 (Saturday) 11am to noon
Main Community Garden, located by the Palo Alto Main Library parking area
1213 Newell Road off of Embarcadero.

Continue reading

Local Garden Swap: Neighbors sharing the fruits of their labors

What a great idea! Many of us have extra fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs in our gardens—so Jan Butts figured, why not swap them for produce that we could use?

Jan organized what might be this century’s first free exchange of Palo Alto’s garden bounty. Judging from the positive response, there just have to be future swaps.

This free backyard farmers’ market was held 11 AM ‘til noon on Saturday, August 21, in the parking lot at Common Ground Organic Garden Supply & Education Center.

We saw the “gift economy” at work! About 25 people brought items to share and sampled the wide variety of beautiful produce available. Folks were glad for the chance to chat with one another, marvel at interesting varieties, share gardening experiences, and offer ideas of how to use the food. There was even more conversation than we see at farmers’ markets.

The swap is supported by a coalition of community groups including: Acterra, Barron Park Green Team, Barron Park Garden Network, Barron Park Assn., Common Ground, Palo Alto Community Gardens, Slow Food South Bay, and Transition Palo Alto.

Drop by next time, even if you don’t have a harvest to share yet!

Next swap event: 
Saturday, September 11, 11 AM – Noon

at Palo Alto Main Community Garden
located behind the Palo Alto Main Library at 1213 Newell Rd.

(Check for announcements of more garden swap events on this website.)