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Solar Food


There are some ideas that my hippie/utopian side really likes, but my skeptical side really distrusts.

For instance: wicca/nature worship. I don’t believe in any gods, but I like the idea of treating the forces of nature with respect. I also like rituals, incense, drums, naked forest dancing and pentagrams. I just can’t bring myself to perform any spells for any function other than focusing my mental energy on a goal, or marking a significant event. And also, it’s a little silly because there’s no such thing as magic.

Similarly, I love the idea of “eating raw.” These “raw food,” “paleo” and “live food” diets are appealing to my imagination and my sense of “nature worship.” Even since I read Clan of the Cave Bear, I’ve romanticized my hominid ancestors and thought the idea of roughing it when it comes to food is exciting. I met an extremely skinny artist once who told me he was a “raw foodist.” When I asked how that worked, he said, “It involves a lot of chewing.” I tried it for a couple of days, and he was right. Celebrities like Demi Moore adhere to a raw food diet with excellent results, and it doesn’t sound too unhealthy, at least when compared to Atkins or other fad diets.

One thing I’ve learned when researching raw diets is that people on it tend to be the kind of elitist, self educated, one-track-minded people I tend to dislike. There are also plenty of misconceptions put forward about what our ancestors ate, not to mention the fallacy that somehow because our ancestors did it, it’s better for us. And so I often give up researching, frustrated by stupidity, and move on.

Nevertheless, eating whole foods, especially certain raw foods can be an important dietary change away from over-processed food. Eating low on the food chain, buying locally grown produce and using as little energy in its preparation are all valid, earth-friendly ideas. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Responsible eating is an important part of life. However, convenience is always a factor. Raw vegetables go off rapidly. They must be bought frequently and eaten quickly. Convenience foods, even “healthy alternatives”, contain loads of preservatives and other scary sounding ingredients.

How do we make our fresh, whole, local foods last? Taking a tip from the “raw foodists,” we turn to dehydration. Dehydration is one of the earliest methods of food preservation. I remember watching an infomercial ages ago for the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world. I asked my mom if we could buy one and she informed me of the amount of electricity those things used. The supposed money saved by making your own beef jerky and dried pineapple was nothing compared to the amount you’d spend on powering the damn thing. What’s the alternative? The Sun, of course!

I decided to look for a few plans for solar food dehydrators and found a few:

Most of the others I founds were even more wanky than these sites, and had lots of nonsense about “peak oil,” Y2K and other crap.

It makes me wonder if the idea of living with responsibility to the earth is a woo idea. Woo does not travel alone. Belief in one radical area is usually accompanied by myriad other crazy beliefs. At any rate, my desire to live in harmony with nature is not because of any paranoid delusions about “the government” “big pharma” “the conspiracy” or “the god and goddess.” I just think that we as a species are smart enough to live in a way that gives back to the other organisms on this earth instead of only taking away from them. They’re not more “noble” than us, they’re not smarter than us, but they know how to stick to their own niche. We can try to do the same. We can survive without destroying.

  1. podblack permalink
    09/12/2007 2:16 am

    Happy birthday! 🙂

  2. 07/01/2008 7:43 am

    I agree, eating with a view to caring for the environment is a noble cause. I think the only way one can do this conveniently is to go back to the age old vegetable patch that has your core vegetables that can be picked and consumed at the moments notice.

    Then I guess we need to factor into the foods that cannot be grown in the backyard. With those items I think the best way of minimising your effect on nature is to buy from providers who are ecologically sustainable. This of course requires research which can be frustrating and not very convenient.

    I guess the extent to which we try survive whilst minimising the impact on nature is dependant on how much time we want to spend doing the difficult stuff like searching for the right producers, finding a location to get the produce and ensuring that you also get maximum value for money.

    I think the key problem is that living responsibly tends to be expensive. Thankfully for those of us prepared to look and around and be adventurous there are both economically and ecologically sustainable ways to survive whilst minimising damage.

    I think its fine to be open minded and like ‘hippie’ things whilst also being a skeptic. Its when one becomes closed to any other view point that issues arise, this applies to anyone who holds very specific views which virge on / go beyond the religious or ideological.

    Suffice to say that my views are very open and that with the more things I learn that these view metamorphose into many different forms.

    My argument is probably rather randomly organised and tangential, hope you can make sense of it ^_^

  3. 09/01/2008 2:43 am

    So do you cook your raw food? I mean, what limitations on preparation are there?

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