The Climes they are a changingÂ…
Today is sunny and rather warm, although its not unseasonably warm. The last few nights have been cold and I have gone out in the mornings to take care of the laying hens and found their water frozen solid. The hens rush from their coops with doubled excitement on these cold mornings. Most run to the feeders, a few lay out to soak in the warming rays of the sun.
These cold days and nights have been few this season. Just before this cold snap the fields were filled with minute flowers- winter cress, arugula, radish, trees are budding out and some are flowering months early. IÂ’ve continued to work in the fields long past when I had planned which has helped to get a lot done which would have otherwise waited until the spring melt- in fact today I will be out there again without a coat.
I might consider this a blessing- lately our region has felt more like Georgia than West Virginia, but these dramatic shifts in weather make me nervous for the seasons to come. Nature is never normal. Change is constant and there are plenty of reasons why the weather forecasters and farmerÂ’s almanac get their predictions wrong so often (the farmerÂ’s almanac predicted this winter to be cold and snowy). ItÂ’s a farmers job to work with the natural world- to reap what we can while be can and sow when the ground is ready. The problem is our job is becoming harder as the variation in weather becomes greater- every aspect of the enterprise is more extreme, whether it be precipitation or temperature, severe storms or insect and disease pressure.
Although this past weeks brief cold snap has knocked our crops out for the season, this winter has been nice honestly, but what concerns me, and most farmers, is not now but the future, a future which is becoming more and more uncertain for farmers and the food we grow, which brings me to the elephant in the room- climate change. 2015 was the hottest year on record. 2014 was the hottest before that. Right now el nino is wreaking havoc from California to the Mississippi River. The north pole was above 40 degrees right around the first of the year! Whatever you believe, climate change is real and humans are making it happen. ItÂ’s a complex problem with no clear solutions, but it is effecting us all and will do so more and more in the days and years to come.
I donÂ’t write as a doomsayer though. I believe there is hope for us and that our actions- yours and mine can make a big difference in slowing or stopping climate change. This is something that I am passionate about and I have spent a huge amount of time researching- so here is what I understand and what you can do about it:
Agriculture is the greatest single source of greenhouse gases- This means that what and how we eat will have the greatest impact upon climate change.
Americans waste 1/4 of all food that we buy.
The meat industry is the greatest source of pollution in agriculture.
Beef is the greatest pollution source in the meat industry- because it takes a lot of feed to produce a pound of beef
Conventional tillage used in the production of Grains and legumes (used mostly for animal feed and ethanol) is responsible for massive amounts of CO2 emissions.
What we can do to help stop climate change:
Eat less meat!- Americans eat nearly 4 times the amount of meat that we should. Plus if you spend more on less meat it tastes even better.
when you do eat meat-
Pasture raised meat is healthier for the earth and more nutritious.
Chickens are the most environmentally friendly meat you can buy.
Buy pasture raised beef- If beef is pasture raised and grass fed, you are actually helping to sequester carbon! Eat pasture raised beef, it is good for the planet!
Make do with what you have in the fridge!- Fun and interesting foods are waiting to be invented right inside the door.
Buy less processed foods- Its tastier, more fun, healthier, and much less energy intensive than packaged foods
Buy Local- When you shop at the farmerÂ’s market you are reducing the energy needed to produce your food, reducing packaging, as well as getting fresher and more nutritious veggies.
Buy organic (no synthetic fertilizers, or pesticides)- The less petroleum products used in the making of food the better, plus its better for people and the earth!
More than anything I think we need to have a positive attitude about ourselves, the world, and what we eat to make a difference. Making positive steps in the right direction can make a big difference and help us to live and to eat even better in the new year!
What better way than to shop to save the planet and have fun at the farmerÂ’s market!
See you in the spring!