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)

Sunday, September 26, 2010


24 September 2010

Gnats have infested our house.  They don't seem to be coming out of the worm bin when I open it, but they were definitely attracted to the kitchen compost tin we had sitting on our counter.  While the kitchen composter had carbon filters to prevent odors, it isn't air-tight, so the fruit flies (which apparently have a great sense of smell) could smell it and get in.  While we stopped using the kitchen composter and are throwing food scraps directly into the bin now, the fruit flies have made homes in the houseplants and want to stay.  This article explains that there are two kinds of gnats that are typically problems with houseplants and worm-bins.( This article: ( is also a good resource.

Fruit Flies are a little larger, have reddish brown bodies and can often be seen hovering around bowls of fruit or juice.  The gross part is that fruit flies often become a problem because they the larvae are actually inside some of the fruit that you bring home (cannot be seen by the human eye).  They are especially attracted to bananas because of their strong smell.  If fruit that contains larvae gets thrown in the worm bin, it now has the perfect little habitat to thrive. 

The other kind of gnats (I think we have both at our house) are Fungus gnats.  These insects are attracted to houseplant soil and burrow in.  You can often see them around plants or on the underside of leaves.  These can be a particularly dangerous problem to seedlings as they eat the delicate roots of young plants and case disease or die.  The houseplant in our bathroom has a lot of gnats at this point. 

War on gnats. Here is the plan:

Step 1: place sticky traps around areas where gnats are found  I have hung one in the bathroom next to the plant, but it doesn't seem to be doing much.)

Step 2: make gnat traps.  By placing apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl (they are attracted to the fermenting smell) and making a funnel with a small hole at the end, the gnats crawl inside the trap and it is virtually impossible for them to get out.  They drown in the cider. 

Step 3: allow plants to draw out between watering, the fungus gnats

Step 4: while fungus gnats burrow into compost and can be eliminated by opening the bin to the light for a day, the fruit gnats are attracted to the smell of the compost, so opening it would likely solve one problem and create another.  By keeping a layer of soil on top of the compost, the smell won't be attractive to the gnats.  I dig a hole in the bin to put food into and bury it.  Also, by over-feeding the worms gnats are attracted to the smell of food that is rotting (because the worms can't keep up).  

gnats on bathroom mirror

sticky tape


23 September 2010

I want to dedicate a post to bulk food buying and storing.  This is a really simple thing, but something that has completely changed the way I shop, cook for myself and my diet.  While I bought in bulk before this project (haha seems SOO long ago), I hadn't ever adopted bringing in my own jars to fill.  Part of the downside of this is you have to (1) remember your jars, (2) you have to go home and get your jars, so it makes it more difficult to run to the grocery on the way home from work/school.  Regardless, if I were buying in ALL bulk, I probably would have realized that having tons of plastic bags with twist-ties around the in the cupboard wasn't exactly the most efficient way of storing food.  I am now the proud owner of 48 mason jars (plus a few)!  You need a variety of sizes to use cupboard space efficiently and not have to carry more jar around than you need on trips to the grocery store.

Here is the breakdown:

_12 half pint jars (yeast, dips, spreads, butters, portable containers for sauces/food)
_12 pint jars (baking soda, beeswax, make good drinking glasses, good size for leftover sauces)
_24 24 ounce jars (wild rice, flax seed, maple sugar, salt, nuts)
_3 64 ounce jars (I keep 'other' flours in these and crackers)
_2 huge jars (pasta, all purpose flour -I go through a lot of this)

When you bring in a jar to the co-op, weigh it first and write down the weight (ex. TARE 0.64 lbs).  Fill with whatever bulk ingredients and write the number (usually 6 digits on container) on another sticker for the jar.  You don't have to weigh it after you fill it.  At checkout they simple subtract the weight from the TARE and charge you that. 

By buying all the same kind of jars, they are easily stack able in the cupboard and you have use space more efficiently.  For anything that doesn't come in bulk bins (produce), you don't need a bag for these either!  I think some people must think it is gross to just throw the produce into the basket and then put it directly on the belt when checking out.  OR, people think that the checkout would PREFER that you bag things.  This probably isn't the case because they have to find the sticker and count the number of items in each bag, which is more difficult when in bags. Produce certainly doesn't go directly from a plant to the grocery bin. Lets consider for a moment how many different surfaces your produce has touched before it go to you:

(1) hands picking produce at harvest
(2) hands and boxes sorting produce
(3) hands and boxes for shipping
(4) hands and boxes for storing
(5) hands and grocery surfaces (maybe even the floor if dropped) when placing in display bins for purchasing
(6) LOTs of hands picking through produce at the store

So, maybe it isn't such a big deal if that tomato isn't wrapped in plastic to go from the bin to the checkout-and, it will save you a bag.

I have bowls inside my cupboard for produce that isn't refrigerated (potatoes, garlic, shallots, apples).  And bowls inside my refrigerator to organize food in there (peppers, tomatoes...) I keep my greens in a vase of water on the counter (they last longer this way, don't take up space in the refrigerator and make a pretty little rotating green bouquet on the counter :)
plastic bags provided at co-op in bulk section (not being used in this project)
non-refrigerated produce in bowls
spice/herb jars
extra jars
huge jar!

bulk mason jars

The weather is getting colder, I've been surprised to see how many greens and vegetables are still available at the farmer's markets and the co-ops.  I can still find local: garlic, tomatoes chard, kale, basil, and lots of different kinds of peppers.  The 'fall' crops are probably going to be around for a while (potatoes, squash, apples).  However, because I don't know when things will start to disappear, I've started to freeze things that I'm scared about :/

So far I've frozen:
_made a large batch of pesto and frozen it it into muffin cups for single servings
_frozen pears (which are now gone)
_frozen hot peppers

Things that are gone for good:
_fresh herbs (except basil which reappeared a few days ago after being gone for a week)

Things that are here to stay :) (not dependant on season)
_sunflower oil
_flour? grains?
_dried herbs
_maple syrup

I will hopefully be able to harvest my first greens in the next few weeks. I have a small herb garden that probably won't be ready for a while (cilantro, rosemary, basil and lemon balm). 

frozen in masons

pesto frozen in muffin tin, then placed in hot water (only for a second) to get loose