Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Review: One Second After by William R. Forstchen

A few weeks ago a friend of mine recommended this book, and then a couple weeks ago I found this book on my friend's coffee table while I was babysitting her children. I started reading it, I was unable to continue reading the book because it belonged to my friend's husband and he wasn't finished with it yet. The book so intrigued me that I bought my own copy and started reading it.

This is a novel about a former military man who finds himself in charge of a small city in Western North Carolina after a nuclear bomb detonates over the United States. This nuclear bomb doesn't cause any physical damage or fallout but instead, creates a EMP (Electro-magnetic pulse)that shorts out all electronic equipment rendering the grid, most automobiles, and anything else electronic worthless.

The book follows this character and his town from a few days prior to the EMP to a year beyond the event. It demonstrates how unprepared we as a society for this type of event. It shows the disintegration of the society as it goes from affluence to mere survival.

Months before this publication, this book was cited on the floor of the United States' Congress as a must read book for every American. I contend that it is not only a must read book, but we need to go further than that. We need to realize the the possibility of a EMP and then create steps to follow if an EMP does occur. As demonstrated in the book, preparedness needs to be made by every family unit and every local community if we are to survive this type of event. It always helps to be prepared for the worst. Begin by reading this novel: One Second After.

Friday, June 17, 2011

King Corn

Night before last we watched the documentary--King Corn. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. The young men who created this 2007 documentary discovered that their hair was primarily made of corn products. They, then, moved to Iowa to see how an acre of corn grew, and they wanted to find out where that corn would go after it was produced. The experience was definitely an eye-opener both for the creators of this fascinating documentary and to anyone who views it.

One of the most startling discoveries they made was that the corn grown throughout Iowa was primarily used for feedstock to cattle grown in unhealthy conditions known as CAFOs and for the production of the sweetener high fructose corn syrup. The corn grown had very little nutritional value except to create calories to make the consumer fat.

Another startling discovery was that farmers lose money every year producing this corn. The reason the farmers don't go broke is because the government subsidizes the corn crop. Our government is paying the farmers to produce trillions of bushels of low quality corn to make us fat. One of the commentators on the documentary said it best when he stated: "The government will subsidize a happy meal but it won't subsidize a healthy meal."

If you want to make more informed decisions about your food choices, watch King Corn, available on NetFlix or view it here . If you don't care, keep eating those corn fed beef Big Macs, fried (in corn oil) French fries, and drinking those high fructose corn syrup laden sodas. Oh, yeah, and remember to take your cholesterol and diabetes medications. You'll need it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

Yesterday my daughter and I had fun doing old timey projects using unpasteurized, not homogenized whole milk. The first thing we had to do was to separate the yellow cream at the top of the milk from the lighter, paler yellow milk beneath. We then put the cream into a quart jar along with a clean marble and my daughter began to shake it while I put the milk on the stove to scald it so that I could put it into jars along with some commercially made yogurt. I then put the jars into a cooler filled with water and left them to culture through the rest of the day. After more time than my daughter really wanted to work on it, the butter finally separated from the buttermilk and I took the butter and washed it. The buttermilk I set aside to sour so that I could make pancakes in the morning.

This morning after doing my daily chores of hoeing the garden, applying mulch and compost, I started making the pancakes. As I mixed up the batter, I realized that much of what went into the pancakes were locally grown. The eggs were from locally grown chickens that were free ranged. The milk came from cows that had been raised outdoors and lived, as Joel Salatan puts it "the life of a cow".We made both the buttermilk in the pancakes and the butter on the pancakes. Here is the recipe for the pancakes I made:

The other thing I noticed about the pancakes was the color. Because the eggs were a bright yellow (high in beta-carotene) and the milk and cream were also a bright yellow (also high in beta-carotene), the pancakes were the brightest golden color that I've ever seen.

The bright yellow of the pancakes and the bright yellow of the butter used on the pancakes got me to thinking about the fact that many of us in this country don't get enough vitamin D in our diet. Could it be that a big part of the reason is that the animals from which we get our meat, milk, and eggs are kept inside out of the sunlight and unable to synthesize their own vitamin D and therefore are not able to pass it on to us?

I like the fact that my ten year old daughter and I are exploring local foods and learning to cook from scratch using these locally acquired foods. I like the fact that I am growing healthier, working with nature instead of against nature and doing it all without it breaking my budget.