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!


  1. the whole idea of what is traditional minnesota food is fascinating. when you talk about traditional, you only refer to settler food - food that europeans brought over with them. traditional minnesota food is dakota food and anishinabe food. as part of your work, you might look into native food gathering. native peoples relied on a combination of food storage (wild rice, pemmican which is a dried mixture of berries and meat, dried fish and so on) and hunting. this diet maintained the cycle of life with this land, rather than agriculture which breaks the cycle. there are too many of us on this land to leave agriculture behind, although there is a lot more we can do that would make our agriculture more sustainable, but it would still be interesting to add this to your list. for example, cattails taste amazing - like cucumbers - and can be pickled. every part of the cattail is edible and incredibly high in nutrition. maybe it's time to go harvesting?

  2. Susan- thats a good point, foraging for wild edibles is a totally unexplored part of the project so far, something I absolutely want to consider and learn more about...