It’s been a while since I’ve posted a links round-up, but I thought I would share some of the stories that I’ve come across recently.

Enjoy!

Has California’s megadrought already begun? [x]

But first, a reality check: California’s cities have more than enough water to withstand the current drought and then some. They simply don’t use that much. Not true for agriculture, which uses 80 percent of California’s water — 10 percent of that just on almonds. Though it’s still a national powerhouse, fed increasingly by fast-depleting groundwater supplies, the state’s agriculture industry has likely begun a long-term decline due mostly to simple math. Abnormally dry conditions have dominated in 11 of the last 15 years, and the cuts have to come from somewhere. Agriculture is the elephant in the ever-shrinking room of California water.

Unless something drastically changes, it seems like I should cross California off my list of potential places to live for the rest of my life. (A list that isn’t really that long; New Zealand is so far and above any other place that it’s really just a list of one.)

I took this picture of LA from the Griffith Observatory in February of 2013.

I took this picture of LA from the Griffith Observatory in February of 2013, the first time I was in California (during a layover).

We’re all losers to a gadget industry built on planned obsolescence [x]

Due to a lack of clear economic incentives and methods, globally only 12% (pdf) of smartphone upgrades involve older devices being sold or traded for the new one. This means ecologically damaging devices end up languishing in drawers and eventually landfills.

Planned obsolescence, or, wait, they’re already on the iPhone 6? Didn’t they come out with the iPhone 5 just a few months ago?

There is always a new version of a product that supposedly blows previous version out of the water. I’m left wondering what happened to owning things that could be passed down for generations if properly cared for. (I know that a phone or computer isn’t the same as a cast-iron frying pan, but what if, dear reader, you could invest in these new “necessities” just once, or maybe twice, in your life? What if?)

Let’s ignore the fact that I got a new phone in April of 2014 and I’m already thinking of replacing it just barely a year later. It’s actually a really bad phone, okay?

Agroecology: An idea and practice coming of age [x]

Agroecology builds soil fertility using compost or manure. It uses traditional family farming techniques such as intercropping, arboriculture and seed saving, and minimises the use of external inputs. It fosters biodiversity and supports ecosystem health. Socially and economically, it aims to support a fair wage for the producer, provide access to affordable, local produce for communities and encourages a sense of place through cultural traditions. Politically, agroecology aims to ensure that the production of food is supported and safeguarded at all policy levels, and that the voices of producers and consumers are heard.

My efforts to learn more about sustainable/regenerative agriculture have been mostly focused on permaculture, but I recognize that there are other practices that could achieve the same goals. Agroecology in particular stood out to me as one of these other practices because of the political aspect. Permaculture organizations seem to be so isolated, working with a country’s government only as much as needed to acquire land and possible non-profit organization status. But food is highly political, and agroecology at least tries to integrate public policy into its practices.

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I took a bus from Christchurch to Queenstown in April of 2013, and we passed this produce stand on the way there. Delicious.

In Florida, Officials Ban Term ‘Climate Change’ [x]

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

It still baffles me that there are still climate change deniers out in the world, but if you combine it with this article from Grist [x], it’s hilarious to imagine people trying to avoid the term at all costs.

Oh Florida. How are you a real place?

This past week has been some of the most fun that I’ve had with food in a long while. Nearly every meal was homemade (the exception being going out to lunch with my coworkers on Wednesday), I tried a bunch of new recipes (which I swear I will share), and even made a new favorite dish for those cold nights when I just really want fried noodles (and did it without a recipe!).

Don’t get me wrong: I always have a good time with food. I find a deep and satisfying pleasure in preparing food, and even more so when I’m eating food. But this week, I’ve been on edge and a bit moody. My meals, however, are always at least one highlight of my day.

And right now, there’s homemade mac’n’cheese in the oven smelling heavenly, it’s snowing outside, and on this Friday evening, I’m feeling pretty at peace.

Since I want to brag, here are a few highlights from this week.

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I made a pi pie for pi day!

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Pancakes are perfect on the weekends

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Fried spaghetti. Is this a thing? It's delicious.

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Breakfast perfection.

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Homemade vegetarian chili with freshly grated cheese. I'm still dreaming about this.

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Caprese with heirloom tomatoes, local mozzarella, and organic basil. Simply delicious.

I’m so excited about the coming of spring since it means I can spend more time outside during my breaks at work.

And send out more Snapchats like this one.

A balmy high 50's afternoon. Perfect.

A balmy high 50’s afternoon. Perfect.

Caroliena Cabada:

I fell off the posting wagon this past February for Food Forests Forever, and I’m a little ashamed of that. The reason why: I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this site is going to be and how I want it to function. However, I’m back in it now with a very quick overview on permaculture.

Since I’ve featured three permaculture-practicing organizations on the blog so far, I thought I would take a moment to very briefly explain the concept.

And I do mean BRIEFLY. Something that I’ve noticed when researching these organizations is that they have extensive, almost long-winded, explanations on what permaculture is and how they, in particular, practice it. While this is certainly helpful and provides a lot of information about the organization and about this idea, it’s easy to lose focus while reading through all of it. It’s hard to find a quick, almost bite-sized explanation on the concept without getting bogged down in the details.

So this explanation is as short as I could make it without completely distorting the idea, and I’ve provided a few links to different resources if you wish to learn more.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Originally posted on foodforestsforever:

Image from www.RachelMFry.com on Flickr. Image from http://www.RachelMFry.com on Flickr.

Permaculture, at the bare minimum, is a design system for food growing and farming that relies on nature-based techniques to create a regenerative system [1]. Initially used as a way of improving the resilience of agricultural systems (the ability of a system to continue its function even after a shock to the system [2]), the word “permaculture” was originally intended to refer to “permanent agriculture” [1].

However, as ideas surrounding permaculture and permaculture design began to grow to incorporate ecological responsibility outside of food production, “permaculture” is now mostly used to refer to “permanent culture” [3]. These other aspects affected by permaculture design can include personal responsibility and lifestyle, community building and organization, and spiritual beliefs [3].

Permaculture has three general tenets that inform all aspects of the practice [4]:

  1. Care for the…

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This winter has been really turning me around. It’s been cold and snowy for so long that I sometimes think “Oh, it’s still winter, it’s still close enough to the beginning of the year that people could still be in Winter Break mode.” Then a moment later I look at my calendar and realize that we’re already a third of the way through March.

Winter is making my year pass a lot faster than I would like.

I also got a larger stock pot, but as wonderful as the new stock pot has been, my focus is on the frying pan.

I also got a larger stock pot, but as wonderful as the new stock pot has been, my focus is on the frying pan.

This past weekend, however, was glorious. The sun was out, it was warmer than it has been in the past few weeks, and I was able to actually walk around outside for more than just the five or so minutes it takes me to walk from the subway station to my office or my apartment.

So, this weekend, I went out and got myself a cast-iron frying pan.

When I first moved into this apartment, at the top of the “New Apartment Shopping List” was a set of kitchen essentials. Since money was tight and I wasn’t entirely sure what I would need in the kitchen since some communal stuff was still being split between me and a friend I was rooming with before, I opted to get a fairly cheap starter set. Standard non-stick, sauce pans of various sizes, frying pans of various sizes, nylon cooking utensils.

Pancakes are perfect in this pan.

Pancakes are perfect in this pan.

Yes, it was very cheap. The large stock pot that came with it was completely unusable within the first six months, and I realized one day while trying to make pancakes that the nonstick coating of the pans was so terrible that pancakes were impossible to make. Nearly everything was impossible to make without a huge amount of cooking oil (which is never a good idea; besides the health reasons, when you flip something over into a puddle of hot oil, it splashes and burns you no matter how gently you may try to do it).

So I am currently in the process of replacing everything in my kitchen with something that isn’t from a cheap starter kit.

The cast-iron pan in particular is my new favorite thing to cook with. It’s more environmentally friendly, it’s heavy-duty, and it heats evenly. Also, you can reach higher temperatures with cast-iron cookware, something to be avoided with Teflon-coated pans; at high temperatures, Teflon coating can release fumes that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and cause other environmental harms (like killing pet birds).

Unlike the cheap starter frying pans I bought back in August, this frying pan is going to stay around for a while.

I was so excited that I broke my unspoken rule of only having pancakes on the weekends and made pancakes yesterday morning. Perrrrrrrfect.

I was so excited that I broke my unspoken rule of only having pancakes on the weekends and made pancakes yesterday morning. Perrrrrrrfect.

Even though the cheap kitchen starter kit served its purpose of getting me and my boyfriend through the starting months of having a new place and needing something to cook food with, I’m starting to move this kitchen in a direction where every piece of equipment is something that could stay around for generations. I want to be able to pass this frying pan down to my adopted children and tell them the story of how I walked around Soho to three different stores to find the perfect pan, and how I walked nearly a mile with this pan and the large stock pot to another store to get some groceries because I didn’t want to take the one subway ride down to Astor place…

Okay maybe it’s not the most inspiring family legend to tell, but I’m telling you, this frying pan is going to become a family heirloom.

This has been a very long week at work, but I was able to get through it by having the videos from Kurt Hugo Schneider’s YouTube channel playing in the background during the day. Having my headphones (with one ear free so I can still hear people when they come up and talk to me) and listening to some music has been helping me stay focused and calm while I make my way through my work.

Plus, the only way I can keep up with popular music these days is by listening to various covers on YouTube. My favorite of what I’ve listened to so far? Sam Tsui’s cover of “Take Me to Church” by Hozier.

I hope you all are enjoying your Friday :)

Hey, sixteen-year-old me.

You are not a feminist.

It’s not something that you know about yet. It’s not something that was covered with any sort of depth in past Social Studies classes, and you grew up in an environment where there were very strict gender roles that people around you tried to force you to follow (but that you defied most of the time anyway without realizing).

You grew up surrounded by slut-shaming, the purity myth, and being told constantly that things like dating are forbidden until such a time when you can find someone that you’re going to eventually marry. The only thing in your upbringing that broke the stereotypes of the good, obedient girl is the expectation that you wouldn’t marry until at least thirty, and certainly after you’d gotten your Ph.D.

So you don’t know better. And while ignorance does not excuse the bad behaviors you may have participated in, know that you do eventually grow up to realize that there was something seriously wrong about your actions. So don’t worry! You won’t stay like this forever!

My little hobbit hole.

This arrangement, however, won’t change for at least four years after you leave home.

There are really only two (really important) things that saved you:

Thank goodness for good role models, and thank goodness that you kept reading.

Thank goodness for the women who really raised you, the ones who never became impatient with you, and also never lectured you (or, at least, never made it feel like you were being lectured at). Thank goodness for the women who set examples for you, who planted the seeds of high academic aspirations combined with a general tendency towards the simple life. Thank goodness for the women who taught you how to live well by living well themselves.

Thank goodness that you dived into the Harry Potter world because if anything, your forays into fandom helped you keep your skepticism sharp. Every time someone told you that Harry Potter was the devil’s work, you knew better. Every time someone judged a certain behaviors as sinful or wrong, when those behaviors did no harm to anyone, you knew better.

Here is yet another book that you will dive into with the same enthusiasm that you did with Harry Potter. Get excited.

Here is yet another book that you will dive into with the same enthusiasm that you did with Harry Potter. Get excited.

The skepticism, the aspirations for even higher education, and the yearning for an even simpler life are the only things keeping your present, 22-year-old self sane.

Keep doing what you’re doing, 16-year-old me. You’ll get better soon.

This post was a continuation of sorts of a post I wrote two years ago, and is also a response for the #DearMe project for International Women’s Day.

Survival Tip for making it through your first full-time job with your sanity intact: Try something new.

When I started working full time, I didn’t know how easy it was to get stuck in routines. Walking the same paths to and from work, doing the same things when I get home, making the same dishes for dinner, even. Et cetera.

It’s a recipe for disaster, I tell you, always doing the same thing.

I try to break the cycle as often as I can, so the other night I made poached eggs with potatoes.

Potatoes are extremely versatile. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, or stick ‘em in a stew and you’re on your way to a delicious meal. I’m personally a fan of roasting them with veggies, but on this particular night, I found myself wondering what I should add on top of the delicious, seasoned chunks of starchy glory. I ultimately went with an egg on top, with runny yolk and all.

However, the frying pan has been testy lately (probably because I got a cheap starter set from KMart when I first moved into the apartment; I’m currently looking into investing in a sturdy set of cast iron frying pans and stainless steel stockpots), so I didn’t want to deal with fried eggs.

And then it hit me: poached eggs.

Now, I’ve never had poached eggs, let alone made them, but I understood the theory behind them. Crack an egg into boiling water. It can’t be that hard, right?

I wanted to badly to get it right the first time that I did quite a bit of research into the best techniques. Alton Brown suggested a whirlpool technique, where you create a whirlpool in the boiling water, then pour the egg into the center to prevent “feathering.” But I still got a feather mess in the water. (Not a strong enough whirlpool, I think; I need to do more testing.) I tried just pouring the egg into the pan, but the water ended up being just barely not hot enough the second time around. (My mistake.)

But, at the end of all my efforts, I did end up with poached eggs and potatoes.

And victory was delicious.

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Poached eggs on potatoes. How did I do?

The New York Philharmonic has started up a new Free Fridays program, where people 25 years old and younger have the chance to get one of 100 free tickets to select Friday concerts throughout the season. I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten a ticket for the past two concerts (and I will continue to push my luck for the rest of the season).

The plaza at Lincoln Center.

The plaza at Lincoln Center.

I am so happy that this program exists. These performances have made me realize that, although it makes me so happy to listen to music, I don’t often get the chance to actively listen to music. It’s something on in the background, a soundtrack to a movie, or absent completely. Just sitting around and listening to music isn’t something that I do anymore.

You can say that maybe I’ve changed as a person, and my preferences on how to spend my free time have changed, but it’s more likely that in the craziness of “growing up” I’ve just forgotten about music. And that’s not a great thought.

Plus, live music is so much better than the best recording you could find of anything. The sound quality is obviously better, but you can feel a difference when you’re in the same room as the instruments producing the sound. The air is completely filled with music, and that’s something that cannot be reproduced. Sure, certain recordings can have nostalgia attached (there is a particular live version of a Panic! At The Disco song that is the song I go to for a pick-me-up), but live music is something else entirely.

Inside of the auditorium.

Inside of the auditorium.

Anyway, I just really wanted to brag about my incredible luck at being able to see the Silk Road Ensemble perform live. And since I happened to get a ticket that was orchestra level, I was in a fantastic spot.

Here is a playlist from the Silk Road Ensemble’s YouTube. The videos really don’t do justice to their musical talent, but you can get an idea of it.

I had a bad dream two nights ago, and the inability to fall back asleep that night meant that I really only got about two hours of rest for yesterday. It was… Challenging. My energy was sapped, I struggled to function.

Sure, it may not have been all doom and gloom. On the one hand, I wrote some really great things in my journal during my break at work. Strong emotions and the time to really sink into writing can make that happen. On the other hand, I was unhappy. And I don’t like being unhappy; it becomes this positive feedback loop where my unhappiness is amplified by my unhappiness, and that’s a terrible place to be.

Still, I got through the day by reminding myself that after work I would be going downtown to run a few errands.

And I can hear you think,”Wait, running errands was the shining light at the end of the dark road?”

Running errands may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but this particular set of errands was special. Since the days have been getting longer and now there’s a little bit of sunlight when I leave the office, I got the chance to walk around the Village in the early evening with soft light and sunset. Everything in that area is still so familiar; it was like I was a student again, walking up and down Broadway and onto Astor Place into the shops I used to frequent.

Plus, the errands I had to run included getting more notebooks and pen refills, and stationery shopping is always exciting to me. I’m more hyped than a kid in a candy store.

haul.

Treat yourself.

There are two things that I always try and write down every day: a list of accomplishments (small things as simple as “I had a good conversation with a coworker”), and a list of things to look forward to. Both lists help me stay optimistic; I remind myself of the little victories and keep myself motivated by remembering that something awesome is going to happen soon.

And I always make it a point to have something awesome to look forward to.

Sometimes, I don’t get to everything on that list. A few days ago, my list included leaving the office right at five, eating a freshly prepared and warm meal at home, reading a little bit more of The Lord of the Rings, writing some story ideas I had during the day in my journal, and generally having a very relaxed night. I ended up doing none of those things.

But rather than get disappointed that my list of things to look forward to was utterly shattered, that list ended up being just what I needed to get myself through the day. Sure, I ended up not doing any of these things on the particular day that I wanted to do them, but there are very few truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The opportunity to do these things will come around again.

Sometimes, just the anticipation is enough.

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