This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


31 August 2010

I spent a chunk of time today scouring a million recipe books looking for meals made up of local foods (or recipes that can be modified to be only local).  This is only half-fun because I have to look at all the pictures of foods that I can't eat (chocolate deserts, lemon-flavored everything...)  Mitch Omer of Hell's Kitchen (a local foods restaurant in downtown Minneapolis) has a recipe book which also tells the interesting story of his life.  I've also been looking through some Minnesota Traditional recipe books.    There are TONS of excellent sounding recipes for different breads, cheese dishes and potato dishes.  Most of these recipes include either butter or heavy cream. The conclusion I've come to is, basically we don't have a tradition of cooking real healthy meals in local Minnesota culture.  I'm guessing this is for a few reasons: the growing season only allows for fresh produce about half of the year, the produce that CAN be stored through the winter are starchy root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.  The reality is, these foods don't have a lot of taste on their own, so the solution is often to soak it in butter or cream to make it more palatable.  I'm going to start with some of these traditional recipes and see how they can be modified to be more healthy and to add some of ingredients I am growing on my table-because excitedly things are finally growing! 

Last night I was having a crazy craving for fat and bread and hadn't made any bread this week.  I started out making hash browns for the first time.  I am always amazed at the things I never did before.  Hash browns are just about the easiest thing in the world to make, you grate a potato and fry it in butter and a little oil for like 7 min on one side and 4 on the other.  After that I hard boiled some eggs.  Then I was still hungry :) so I started making muffins (it was the first recipe in the bread section).  My recipe was the following:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (Whole Flour Milling)
1/3 cup maple sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3/4 milk (Cedar Summit)
1/4 cup sunflower oil

I kept them pretty basic for now, and they were pretty good, not very sugary (maple sugar isn't quite as powerful tasting as cane)

My sunflower sprouts are growing like crazy(more than an inch a day) some are already ready to harvest and the others will be done in a day or two.  I cut some off today and tried a new vegetable mix dish.  Beets and mini eggplant chopped and sauteed with shallots, hot peppers and sunflower oil.  I put the sprouts on top (uncooked) and it was EXCELLENT.  Super healthy and the sunflower sprouts add a lot of nutrition and protein.  

The other big thing today is I started growing micro greens.  Micro greens are my new plan for the grow table (at least while the other vegetables are still sprouting).  They are basically young greens (bigger than sprouts but smaller than a full plant).  You can plant them fairly close because they never get too big.  You cut them when they are about 4-5 inches tall.  Young greens contain a lot more nutrients because they are still absorbing a lot to grow quickly.  I planted one seed flat full of green seeds today.  Collard greens on one half and romaine on the other.  My plan is to plant a new batch every week so I have a rotation of greens which can be harvested weekly.  I am a little worried that it is still too hot for them, but I'll try to keep them in a cool place until they have germinated.  Good luck little greens! I'm counting on you!


30 August 2010

I swear I'll stop talking about food soon and focus on other aspects of the project, but I've come into contact with so many amazing resources (mostly reading about raw foods) while researching the affect processed foods (enabled by oil) have on the human body.  Hands down the most interesting book I've read about this is Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko.   Raw foods books are an excellent resource for anyone interested in what kinds of nutrients are found in raw, whole foods, whether you are going to cook with them or not.  While raw food may become integrated into my diet more as I learn about how much energy is required to cook food, for now, it is just interesting to read how far we have detached ourselves from eating REAL foods in a typical American diet.  The more I have become aware of just how much stuff we put in our bodies that just isn't food (preservatives, synthetic colors and flavors...) the more shocked I am at how unhealthy my 'old' diet appears to me.  Its no wonder that even as medicine has advanced that people continue to get sicker and more 'uncurable' diseases become prevalent, a huge part of this is that we are simply not fueling our bodies with real nutrients. 

Victoria's Boutenko is a woman from Russia whose entire family (4 people) was diagnosed with a variety of long-term 'uncurable' diseases in the span of one year.  Doctors told each of them to take a variety of pills for the rest of their lives, and the chances of a recovery were slim to none. They didn't want to accept this as their only option and decided as a family to look really critically at their diets and try to find a way to improve their health through eating differently.  Victoria began to research the diets of chimpanzees.  By studying the diets of our closest relatives she could see how people are naturally meant to be eating, and use them as an example for their own diets.  What she found was this:

She discovered that chimps eat about 35% greens (not to be confused with starchy vegetables which have different nutritional properties).  After realizing this she tried to eat a lot more greens but found that she just didn't like greens enough to eat that many every day.  She began exploring options to integrate more greens into her diet and came up with the green smoothie concept.   Her whole family began drinking a quart to 2 quarts of this drink every day and within a few months, their symptoms all began to decrease.  Her husband began to grow back dark hair and they all felt energized and needed less sleep.  A link to an explanation of green smoothies on their website is here:

Because I am finding that greens are a really quick and easy thing to grow indoors I am excited to try the green smoothie idea to integrate a a better nutrition balance into my diet and see what the effects of this are. 

Ultimately, it is amazing to find how disconnected we have become to what is in our foods.  A large part of this disconnection has to do with having an energy resource that allowed for foods to be shipped from around the country and the world.  While it is great that we are able to get fresh produce (especially in Minnesota) during the winter when these things can't grow here).  As well as coffee, citrus, avocados, chocolate.  These are all foods which having an abundant petroleum energy-resource has enabled us to do.  However, the downside of this is in order to ship things long distances they need to be preserved in some way (or picked before they are ripe and full of nutrients).  It also allowed us to create all kinds of pre-made meals, and boxed foods which can last a LONG time.  The reason they last, however, is because of the synthetic ingredients added to the food.  Our bodies are not evolutionarily designed to digest these additives and it has affected our health in a negative way fairly dramatically. 

The most interesting part of Green for Life to me however, is a statement she makes in the introduction to the book:

"As we live our lives, trying new things and searching for true answers, we gain plenty of our own experiences.  Our knowledge becomes familiar and practical.  We fell rather confident in any life circumstance and particularly when we need to make urgent decisions.  Contrary to that, when all we have is a compilation of someone else's instructions, the best we can do is to hope an pray that the authors of such instructions were efficient tin acquiring their knowledge and honest in their intentions.  In other words we hope that someone else cares for us more than we care for our own selves. 

When we let other's observe and reason for us, in a sense, we consciously choose to stay blind and deaf.  We become compelled to follow someone elses's instructions, one after another, and perform actions which do not make much sense to us.  We submit to other's authority. We give our power away.

To observe is our birthright.  If we utilize our ability to observe, we can free ourselves from the labyrinth of confusions.  I believe that our own conscious observations are a thousand times more important than any rigid scientific claim." (page 3 Green for Life)

In a world where we have become so disconnected from where our food comes from and what is in it because it is more convienient, it is essential that we take it upon ourselves to understand these things for ourselves and make our own decisions about what is healthy based on how we FEEL not by other people telling us what is good for us. 

We are our own best teachers.