The end, but not the end

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According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "change" can mean a number of things. However, change as a transformative effort means:
a : to make different in some particular : alter b : to make radically different : transform c : to give a different position, course, or direction to

I would have to say that over the course of seven weeks that I have made a transformative change, an altered change and change that has given new direction to my life. I'm excited for new cooking adventures, grow a garden and experiment with local foods.

My change has not ended here. It is time for me to help others change and share my knowledge with others who were at one time like me. It's not impossible and might not be effective for everyone, but I certainly will try.

Looking Back...

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Looking Back...

I took some time this evening to review the Berry book (p. 232), with the list of items that relate to eating better and smarter, recognizing sustainable food systems. At the beginning of the term, this list all seemed doable and was only something that I had begun to touch now. Now, it is action and I am a participating consumer of sustainable, organic, and local food systems. Not totally, but much of these, with just some thought over the last seven weeks, has happened, or will happen soon. This all became about because of the change to be informative and knowledgeable, the biggest change I think I could've met.

Participating in food production - from growing potted herbs to cultivating my own plot of land for my own gardening through the city planned community garden. In addition, to the things I can't grow, co-ops and natural food markets for as local as it can get, or organic. Finally, directing my additional produce expenses at the farmer's market during the summer.

Prepare you own food - even more! I already prepare many of the meals that I make but it is much more satisfying buying items and making meals that are good for me, wholesome and taste delicious.

Learn the origins of food - from buying products because they "just looked good", to cautiously reading labels, staying away from hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup as much as possible. Finally, making conscious choices about where I eat out -asking do I know what's in this? Is it local, organic? I'll ask if I'm concerned.

As a follow up to number one...if I don't know, I ask now. Buying and making fresh is most important to me now.

Learn about the economy - a way for me to expand my Masters program. Barbara Kingsolver book and Berry began me on my exploration of being informed. Additional research for my MLS completion will be important and needed.

Best farming and gardening practices - an opportunity to practice this in my garden plot this summer! Educating my parents on using pesticides and fertilizers for their garden and encouraging others to realize the impact.

Learn as much as you can. If what I have learned over the past seven weeks is a testament to what I will learn in the future, I am ready and armed for knowledge.

The last one I added...educate others. I recognize after this class there are so so so many people out there that I have no idea about food production, chemicals, additives, pesticides, hormones and money involved. I'll continue to spread the word.

Asking questions

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The one thing I've realized is that although it may be local does not necessarily mean it is organic, natural doesn't mean organic, etc.
There are many terms out there that may mean one thing you think they mean a food is organic or local, but isn't actually.

My change for this week is to ask questions. It isn't wrong or out of place for me to ask questions and ask where my food came from, were there any hormones, additives, or pesticides involved in the food production process. As a consumer that is buying the product, I have a right to know where it came from or how it was made.

That is my change for the week. If I am questioning the purchase of my food I will ask - at restaurants, the grocery store, co-op etc. We all have the right to know. If I'm going to invest my hard earned dollar to buying something that is better for me, I'd like to have my questions answered.

Earth Day Awareness

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Earth Day, Friday, April 22, seemed to be much more prevalent in my mind this year as compared to other years. However, I wondered why.

Was it because I was more aware because of this class? Or was it because that as a society we are becoming more aware of the impact we have on earth? I pondered this idea for awhile and thought that it was a little bit of both.

As an active participant in this class and having to be held accountable to make a change has made this issue a forefront concern in my mind. Studying the impact of humans on our planet and environment and knowing the facts and implications of our lifestyles has been alarming. This has made me want to know more, study more, and become more aware of what I do in my day-to-day life.

The other piece, although I don't believe the awareness is where it should be, is that citizens are becoming more aware as well. I seen advertisements, blog updates, tips for being green and sharing of information across multiple sources in the cities and nationally. I think this is a good start. It needs to be increased and at a faster rate to really start changing things, but it was good to see.

Becoming Informed

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Becoming informed has been another change that I have been making on a weekly basis. Although I didn't stipulate this as a change it has become a change for me on a weekly basis.

I have read almost one new web site a week on sustainability changes, community changes and keeping things local. It has been interesting to me how informed I have become in only the course of about a month. This is truly rewarding for me to open my eyes and be aware and smart of the choices I make going forward.

Planned Sustained Change for Next Week

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Part of my latest grocery shopping expedition was buying items that I could make healthy, natural meals with. Because of the busyness of this week I wasn't able to make these dishes but I felt good buying the product for recipes. I'm glad that I also took the opportunity to buy items for planned meals. I'm typically used to finding items that are in the house and make something up quick. However, this time it felt good being more planful and making a dish that would be tasty and fulfilling.
I'm excited to see what my first dish may be...might be one from "Diet from a Small Planet"!

Sustainable Change of the Week

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For this week, I have vowed to not buy any products that contain hydrogenated oils and processed sugars. I spent a lot of time looking at labels during the most recent grocery shopping trip but realized there are ways to buy a lot of food that has mostly natural ingredients or do not contain these byproducts and chemicals. I was actually quite proud of the extra time I took to shop smarter and buy products that were good for me.

It did take more time, and some extra money was spent in buying smart but I feel good about what I am putting into my body and lessening the implications of products that are not good.

Change for this week...and going forward

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The change I made this week was to buy produce that was organic. Based on the list that was sent out from class, I bought produce that should be bought as organic due to the pesticides that are on these convential foods.
I still bought foods that you can buy conventional, that do not have many, if any, pesticides, that would enter your body.

I will continue to enforce this change going forward. It felt good. It felt healthy. I feel that even though I may not see the impact, I will feel it and not be impacted as much by the use of pesticides in the future.

Co-op Visit

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This past week, for the first time, I visited a co-op. It was a co-op in Anoka, Minnesota. I found this co-op on the Co-op directory web site at Originally the co-op listed on this site was under different ownership. Within the past year, this specific co-op went independent.
I spent a lot of time in the store. Although I had been to natural food stores and in organic sections of grocery stores in the past, the localization of products made this co-op different. I could see that it was involved and tied to the community.
First observations: I loved the fresh produce that was organic and some local. It was, for the most part, affordable in terms of what you got. I realized the prices were higher but also realized I was paying for something that was of quality, fresh, and wasn't injected with hormones or blanketed by pesticides. It felt good to buy the produce.
I was also intrigued by the number and variety of grains, nuts, and gluten-free products that were available in bulk. I purchased some of the natural flours so that in the future I could experiment in making various baked goods.
As I looked around, I recognized a lot of the products that were not local, but were organic, and could be found in my normal grocery store such as Cub Foods or Target. It seemed to be the same product that could be found in the organic sections of these others stores, yet it seemed you might be able to pay less in the other stores. I'm sure that Cub Foods or Target can sell these items at a lower price due to buying more of the product and being a larger seller. The co-op did seem to have more variations of certain products. For instance, I bought an organic basil polenta to make polenta lasagna. I have seen organic polenta in other stores, but not in this flavor.
Although I did buy all the ingredients to make my first purely organic and somewhat local meal, I have not made it yet. I plan on doing that this week. I did experience a sense of feeling good about the choice I made in coming to the co-op and buying products. I felt I was doing something healthier and benefited the local economy.

Berry reading reflection

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The Berry book, although difficult to read at times, has been interesting. Wendell Berry has a strong, passionate viewpoint on his feelings towards mass production of food and the turn of commercialized farming. Although his opinions are clear in his writing he also writes with factual evidence and support from a number of sources that can back his claims.

The biggest surprise to me was to see the number of groups of people that believed in commercialized food production and didn't think twice about where their food was coming from. I was also surprised to see the number of farmers that were bought out by agribusiness corporations and how this has become the "way of life" in every respect to those that farm today. It seems so normal for citizens, farmers, and those that study agriculture and farming, that the way we do things - farm the land, incorporate fertilizes and chemicals, distribute the food and consume the food is so normal. When really it is not.

I agree with Berry's comments and documentation that our economy and operations cannot sustain on the way we are working and consuming in a "global economy" driven by high yield economics.

The stories I found most interesting were related to the Amish communities and their way of life. I was intrigued by the stories these farmers and their families had and how they have witheld such a way of life for hundreds of years. Their families, communities, and connection to religion has helped their way of life sustain. Their beliefs help keep them rooted to their way of life and that they are part of the land. I believe there are some valuable practices that can be taken away from the Amish way of life.


Week 3: Awareness Building

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Over the past week as I began to read the Berry book and the Kingsolver book, I started to really build an awareness around the facts of mass food production and its implications. Many of the stories, facts and statistics, and evidence points to an extreme amount of energy and production to produce something so small. Going local has stood out in my mind even more so.
The end of last week and this week I've started to change the way I buy food. I now look at labels, looking for natural ingredients, staying away from things that are mass produced, injected with hormones or other additives and chemicals and buy things that are natural. It takes me longer to shop but I feel better about what I'm putting into my body. A small change, but nonetheless, an important change.

Week 2: Small Changes

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The first change that I have decided to make this week is related to electricity. 1. being more aware of it and 2. using less of it. The awareness piece has been the experience that has been interesting thus far. Living with someone that uses A LOT of electricity is a reminder of how much is actually wasteful and how we can be more mindful about the electricity that we use. Leaving on lights in the house, leaving items plugged in all day that are using "vampire energy" and even the lights that are permanently on outside my house.

There is a lot of waste that is taken for granted. I'd like to take the opportunity this week to be aware of it and proactive to use less of it. This I will do even though it drives my boyfriend nuts...maybe he will learn too.

Week one: The Change: To NOTICE

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After spending some time this week in class, discussion and completing assigned readings, the biggest change I made this week was the way I think about food and sustainability. It was all about noticing where food is consumed, how it consumed, where it comes from and the different meanings it holds to different people. The perspectives on food were intriguing. I took the time to notice this week that there are many arguments and controversies on the way we as humans interact with the land and food.

I noticed my consumption and how I may contributing mindlessly to sustainability issues. The time taken this week to begin to notice this will ultimately lead to bigger changes over the next upcoming weeks. I look forward to at least one of these changes each week.

Several days in

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It's been about 5 days already. I've boughten organic fruits and vegetables thus far. Been doing a lot of thinking but made one step at least. I was little leary about spending the money, but felt good about it after realizing all the benefits of purchasing organic, I realized that the benefits far outweighed the costs. Keep on going!

Reaction to Bringing It To the Table

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Wendell Berry is not out of line or unrealistic with "The Pleasures of Eating" and his recommendations. I completely agree with his thought process on how society consumes food in today's world and how little thought and practice is given to the art of food.

The suggestions at the end of the chapter are completely doable. Everyone could implement these suggestions it is just dependent on what level they want to implement them.

If there is anything that is more difficult than others it would be #5. I do believe that with the right resources and research you can find out about the details in industrial production. However, that said, I think that industries and mass food productions try to do a very good job at hiding this information so that truths are not known. It is out there though, and as a public we have the right to find out these details.

I really am more enthusiastic about preparing my own food and finding out it origins. I love to cook and I love to make my own creations. The process and exploration of creating new foods is fun to me. Finding out more about local food is intriguing to me, especially in my area (outside the Twin Cities). I think this too could be a fun exploration.

Berry states his reasons and the state of the food economy as "calling it as he sees it". He is not forcing his beliefs on the reader but rather just pointing out what is. Some of this is his opinion but I completely agree with it and was sold by his argument.

Blog created

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So I figured if I was going to be sustainabile and change some things...why use paper when I can do it all electronically and start a blog. So here goes to the change challenge!