Monday, January 28, 2008


Petroleum Blues

Boy with Gas Can Outide Moab, Utah

I love this! One tiny town in the middle of San Pete County tries to make customers feel better by advertising the price for half a gallon.

I want to gripe about the gas prices. I filled up with $10 worth of gas the other day befause I was in a hurry. I thought it would at least get me to work and back and to see me through some errand running. NOT SO. I wound up running out of gas in North Salt Lake about a block away from the Tesoro gas station. A lady cop came and said she had a "push bumper" and "would I like a push to the Tesoro?". That's lucky! So she pushed me to the gas station where I refilled. Have cops always had push bumpers, or is this a recent development due to rising gas prices? I'm sure they've always had them, but I thought it was a funny story I wanted to tell it. $10 can't get you too far these days.

The only cool thing about high gas prices is that there's less roadtripping traffic on the highways on the weekends. That's the only good thing I can think of right now.

Biodiesel or Bust?

So is biodiesel the answer to all our ills?

The use of biofuel to run automobiles started as a novel idea that grease-monkey, mechanical engineering geeks, enviro nuts and anti-Big Oil company activists experimented on in their garages. They'd collect gunky fryer grease from back alley pick-ups at restaurants and fast food joints and they'd process the stuff to make fuel. But now the tables have turned so that once what was thought to be an oddity, (a car that runs on fat) looks like it may turn into the wave of the future.

On the face, we like the idea of biodiesel, it sounds good, we consider it a "clean fuel," right? It feels uncorrupted the way petroleum has become. We like the idea of our cars running on something like this, but it's not all it's cracked up to be.

FIRST OF ALL: What's Ethanol?
Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, is a flammable, colorless chemical compound, one of the alcohols that is most often found in alcoholic drinks. When people talk about it, they often name it simply as alcohol. . .

Ethanol fuel is an alternative to gasoline. It can be combined with gasoline in any concentration up to pure ethanol. . . Most cars on the road today in the U.S. can run on blends of up to 10% ethanol, and motor vehicle manufacturers already produce vehicles designed to run on much higher ethanol blends. Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and GM are among the automobile companies that sell “flexible-fuel” cars, trucks, and minivans that can use gasoline and ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85). By mid-2006, there were approximately six million E85-compatible vehicles on U.S. roads

Turning Nature into Cheap Ethanol

No, I haven't become a beer drinker just yet, (if I did I certainly wouldn't start with Budweiser!) I took this photo while camping with friends last summer. I like it because it illustrated what we may be trading in when we turn over fields and clear-cut forests so we can raise crops to feel this demand for cheap ethanol. What could be lost if this goes unchecked?

Why doesn't the government mandate a sort of cap on how much existing land can be turning into crops and how much forest can be cleared to create biofuel. Instead they should encourage new fuelers to use WASTE to make the fuel.

One of the things environmentalists are worried about is clear-cutting forest land to plant corn for ethanol which will in turn release even more carbon into the atmosphere. And corn farms will multiply. Companies lke Cargill and ADM will get even fatter and richer than they already are. And as the use of ethanol for biofuel increases, it will just increase the prices of all of our commodities.

It doesn't seem to make much sense to use production of biofuels as a way of eleviating climate change because recent studies (scientists from the University of Leeds) say that the production of biofuel will actually produce nine times more carbon gases over the next 30 years than fossil fuels. The gov is giving incentives to grow more corn for it. And who's to say that companies that manage production and distribution of corn won't become as corrupt as the oil companies. And will all the government's talk of subsidizing use of ethanol... do those who produce corn really need more subsidies? Consider Cargill and ADM:

"These two companies now guide corn's path at every step of the way: they provide the pesticide and fertilizer to the farmers, operate most of America's grain and ship most of the exports, perform the wet and dry milling; feed the livestock and then slaughter the corn-fattened animals; distill the ethanol; and manufacture the high-fructose corn syrup and numberless other fractions derived from number 2 field corn. Oh, yes-- and help write many of the rules that govern this whole farm, for Cargill and ADM exert considerable influence over US agricultural policies. More even than the farmers who recieve the checks.... these companies are the true beneficiaries of the "farm" subsidies that keep the river of cheap corn flowing. Cargill is the biggest privately held corporation in the world." (Pg 63) Michael Pollan "Omnivore's Dilemna"

I think unless we create ethanol out of something that's already a waste product, I think we're asking for trouble.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Colorful Food is Good for your Bod

Here's my plug for eating colorful foods (fruits and veggies~). Pay attention to how many colorful foods you eat (and I mean naturally colorful foods.) Yesterday while I was sliding strawberries into my bowl, I notice the dark red juice of the strawberry on the cutting board, like a splash of cadmium red on a canvas. We eat for taste... but I also think we we eat for color. What colors have you eaten this week?? Maybe instead of a food pyramid, we should think in terms of a food color wheel. How often do we eat mostly nuetral colors: the drab beige of bread, cereal, butter, potatoes, packaged pasta, rice, yellow cheese, milk. Yeah, we like it, but it's time to bring out the foodie in you! If you don't do it for looks, do it in the name of better heath~. Cut up a little kale and sprinkle it on your stew. Throw some apples or blackberries into your salad. Find some way to spice up your meals with some vivid color! And if you can't think of ways, try Molly Katzen's recipe book: Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without.

Last night I made her recipe for Avocado Strawberry Salidita. It's simple: berries avocados and jicama diced and covered with fresh lime juice and bits of crystallized ginger. YUM!!

Monday, January 07, 2008


My Sister the He-woman
Cara Bags a Five-point Elk in Idaho

It's official, my little sister is the toughest woman (possibly the toughest "person") in my family... an not just because she can out leg-wrestle anyone of my sibling (four big burly brothers), but because of her recent exploits in the woods of Idaho. My Christmas present this year was a freezer stocked with several pounds of elk meat from her hunting trip in November.

I want to talk a little about the politics of hunting... for those of you who eat meat, yet think hunting is cruel (ever been in a slaughterhouse??) But before I launch into my tirade about how hunting is justified, let my sister's story speak for itself...
My father was an avid hunter and as a child, we always had elk, antelope and caribou meat in the freezer to eat. He was a carpenter and didn't make much money those days, so with 7 children, you can imagine that all the meat brought home by way of hunting was important. He had a gift as a hunter and we believed it came in part because he hunted out of necessity. In my sister's story you can tell how while on her hunting trip, she felt more connected to my Dad, who died 3 years ago.

Hey all, Roger and I went hunting on Wednesday, this was my last chance to get an elk, so we started at 4am, got on the four-wheeler and froze while we drove nine miles to the trail head. When we got there we hiked up for about an hour and then sat down and looked for elk. We saw them a distance off and decided to sneak in on them, so we left my backpack and hiked up and down, in and out for another hour, and of course they were gone by the time we got there, so we hiked back out the way we had come.

By the time we got back out it was noon, we picked up my backback, and I put it on, and it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. I sat on a rock, put my head in my hands and just bawled- I was soo beat. I had just gotten over being sick with strep throat, so I wasn't up to full strength yet and I was ready to be done.

I told Roger I wanted to go home and about that time his friend called us on the radio to tell us he was pushing some elk towards us, we saw them, so we tried to sneak in on them, going back the way we had just come. We got close to them, but they were gone by the time we got to them, so Roger decided to go over to the mountain across the canyon, and stage me at a draw where elk frequently crossed. And said he would use his spotting scope to find them for me, and tell me when they were coming in on me.

So we did this and I waited for an hour. They they finally came out, the cows first, then the small bulls (about thirty of them had come up through the draw, no big ones yet) then all of a sudden they ran away as quickly as they had come out. I looked for what spooked them and saw some hunters on the next ridge line with horses, so I waited for another hour in case they decided to come out again.

They finally did come out. There were two four-point elk, a group of cows, and then a five-point elk came out, I thought I could shoot him, but I figured I would wait to make sure there wasn't another big one, I could hear them just over the ridge pawing the ground, and grunting, and clacking horns. I was afraid they were going to smell me and walk right on top of me and run away, so I focused my scope in on the five point who was surrounded by cows, and I lined him up in my sights just in case I had to shoot fast, then Roger came on the radio and said, "if you can see the big one in the middle of the cows and you have a sure shot, shoot him!"

So I shot him, and then they were all gone in a flash. My adrenaline was going crazy, I jumped up, ran to the spot I shot him, and couldn't find any blood, but I was sure I hit him, he was only 250 yards away, so I looked around, and finally saw a small clump of blood in the snow, so I was thinking we will have to chase him because I didn't get a vital shot, then his tracks ended about five feet from the blood, but he had skidded on his heels. I was so confused, I looked all around, and up to the right and behind me I saw some more blood so I followed it, he had jumped!

Then the blood got to be more like a spray gun, and more obvious, and I almost stepped on him for looking down. I didn't dare go close to him without Roger, but I chambered a shell just in case. He died within 50 yards of where I shot him, double lung shot, perfect. You know I thought I would feel differently when it came to actually shooting a big beautiful animal, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it because I wouldn't want to kill them, but it was so different when I actually did it, I felt very connected with the circle of life, and there was almost a reverent feeling when I realized that animal gave his life to feed my family, like it was the way God intended it. I think I can see why dad loved to hunt, and why my husband loves it.

Both of these men like to push themselves to the utmost limit, they go to heck and back, and live to tell about it. And when you hunt, you see views that most people in their lifetime will never see, you get to up close and personal with nature in a way most never experience. Roger was way excited I shot it, despite the fact that he wasn't telling me to shoot that one, he meant the six point that was just out of my field of vision, but he was suprised I did so well without him by me coaching me. I am sure dad was with me too. Jenie actually got a feeling I shot an elk and called me on my cell phone, and left the message that she knew I got an elk, and she had a feeling dad was proud of me.

Anyway, I just like to think of him, smiling in heaven, looking down on what I am doing, and being proud of me and my accomplishments, hunting or otherwise, it makes it that much more enjoyable when I think of his face as it is lit up with a smile of pure joy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


An article in USAToday in May '07 asked Presidential candidates what foods they liked to cook. Seems as though Romney can cook up a hotdog. Here's what each candidate had to say: (check out the link)

Any surprises that Hillary says she does scrambled eggs best, Kuchinic is a vegan, Romney says his specialty is hotdogs and Huckabee likes to throw a slab of meat on the grill (along with with most of the other Republicans.)


• Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware: Pasta
• Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York: "I'm a lousy cook, but I make pretty good soft scrambled eggs."
• Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut: "An August New England dinner: Lobster, corn and tomatoes."
• John Edwards, former North Carolina senator: Hamburgers.
• Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio: Hot water, according to his wife, Elizabeth. He doesn't cook. Kucinich is a vegan. He favors fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois: Chili.
• Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico: A diet milkshake


• Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas: Beef.
• Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York: Hamburgers or steak on the grill.
• Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas: Ribeye steak on the grill.
• Rep. Duncan Hunter of California: Chicken fried venison.
• Sen. John McCain of Arizona: Baby-back ribs.
• Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts: Hot dog.
• Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado: He doesn't cook

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Trip to the Bakery: Rising Bread Costs

About a month ago, I stopped in at Avenues Bakery in Salt Lake and noticed the price of bread was higher than I'd remembered. I asked the lady at the counter, "why the price increase?" and she said the price of wheat has gone up. Most of you might have already realized this and are thinking... duh!! Wake up! But since I've been living in a cave the last year, I've been a little clueless.

Here's a sales clerk named Laura:

She is smiling soo carefree-like and wearing flowers in her hair that it makes me wonder if I should work at a bakery too? Why don't we all just do that? Have you wondered why all these coffee pourers and bread sellers are so happy?

I must admit, I don't often find my nose in the financial section of the Wall Street Journal checking to see how world-wide drought or a burgeoning demand for bio-fuel might be jacking up the prices of wheat (and thus my bread). But after my trip to the bakery, I'm positively inspired to become more informed where food in concerned.

Why has wheat prices gone up? Droughts in areas like Australia have yielded smaller harvests while developing countries like India and China are increasing in their demand for wheat for food and animal feed. Biofuel production has also pushed up corn and soybean prices. And the price of vegetable oils used in packaged foods and biodiesel has also increased. Four months ago, in August 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that world wheat inventories were at their 26-year lows- And that's not all... it seems that all food commodities will go up as a result.. the cost of meat, the cost of milk... because of the increased cost of animal feed. Consumers pay attention!

Volker's German bakery is another favorite stop. I love their poppyseed sweet rolls. Here's a photo of a few pastries.

Something as simple as going to a local bakery clued me into what was going on in the world- another reason to buy food stuff made in your own neck of the woods (to get informed!) Would I have taken notice had I bought fluffy Wonder bread from the Big Box grocery store? Perhaps not!

Foxbusiness news reports that wheat prices won't immediately translate into a rise in retail prices for bread, cereal, cookies, etc, due partly because. . .
Companies like Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc. (GIS: 57.00, -0.51, -0.88%), ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG: 23.79, -0.18, -0.75%) and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT: 32.63, -0.32, -0.97%) typically protect themselves from price volatility with long-term supply contracts. But analysts say consumers should expect that higher wheat prices will eventually work their way into the grocery aisle.

Just today the Chicago Tribune reported that Sara Lee Corp, who turns out buns and frozen pies, is raising bread prices in North America for the second time trying to counter wheat prices.