cheap energy minds


I’m sitting in the kitchen and can feel the early morning November chill around the bottom of my legs and feet. It’s cold in here.
It might be a good idea to put on the heating on but I’m reluctant as something in my head reminds me about climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions. I’ve been feeling guilty about putting the heating on too much as the heat just disappears through the windows. Some goes to warm me, the vast majority is wasted.
So I’ll look for a nice pair of warm socks, stick on a jumper, head out to the library instead etc.

Climate change is a funny one. People seem reluctant to do anything much about it despite the vast number of scientists who study it saying that something drastic needs to be done about it.

In part I think it’s because we all know that we have to burn carbon to stay alive. You need to eat or heat the house. You need to visit sick relatives or drive to work.

To cut a long story short it reminds me that we live by the death and sacrifice of other things, which is true also of food.

‘Eating is the daily reminder of creaturely mortality. We eat to live, knowing that without food we will starve and die. But to eat we must also kill, realizing that without the deaths of others – microbes, insects, plants, animals – we can have no food.’
Norman Wirzba

On the other hand I think that we ‘kill’ much too easily. As Wendell Berry writes:-

‘Nearly all of us have what I can only call cheap-energy minds; we continue to assume, or to act as if we assume, that it does not matter how much energy we use. I do not mean to imply that I know how to solve the problems of the automobile or of the wasteful modern household. Those problems are enormously difficult, and their difficulty suggests their extreme urgency and importance. But I am fairly certain that they won’t be solved simply by public protests. The roots of the problems are private or personal, and the roots of the solutions will be private and personal too.’

When I was growing up in Tyrone one of the illustrations that I heard in Christian talks was something about sitting beside God and him showing you a video of your life. Would you feel shame about this incident that nobody else saw? Why did you do this in secret? Why did you treat that homeless person like that? (Incidentally I wonder if that illustration has moved on a bit in the past 20yrs and do they say something like ‘How will feel when you stand in front of God in his judgement seat and he brings up your internet search history?Or would it be now digitally projected onto a screen with a Powerpoint presentation of your sins?Maybe there would be a Gary Neville type magic pen to circle things and point out what you should have done)

I’m not a fan of those types of illustrations (like the old ‘Sinner, if you left here tonight and where hit by a bus where would you be??)but maybe if there was a video tape presentation would things like our decision to waste food, oil, clothes appear? Would the way we supported our nation in times of war? Would the way we slagged of other churches?

Sometimes you’ll hear people going on about the 1%, the super wealthy who own a huge percentage of the wealth of the monetary wealth. The thing is that if you took the entire population of planet earth how would you or I stand on that scale? Would I be in the top 1% of humans who have ever lived? Maybe less? Will I have to answer for that? I guess putting on the heating or lighting a fire is a reminder to be grateful for good gifts and to be careful not to waste them.

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goddisgoode

I like this bit in ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ by Elizabeth David. It reminds me that a good loaf (or beer) is something to say thanks for, a gift of grace.

“In Chaucer’s England one of the names for yeast or barm was goddisgoode ‘bicause it cometh of the grete grace of God.’These words imply a blessing. To me that is just what it is.It is also mysterious, magical.No matter how familiar its action may become nor how successful the attempts to explain it in terms of chemistry and to manufacture it by the ton, yeast still to a certain extent retains its mystery.”

keeping tabs

I’m trying to keep a note on how much I’m managing to grow in the garden. So far we’ve got:-

1 kg shallots  (€4.90)
2 kg onions   (€4.50)
~25 (small) garlic (19.35)
34 tbsps coriander leaf (€5 ?)
2kg broad beans (€12.12),  200g broad bean tips
1.78 kg oriental greens (€14)
0.1g rocket (€2)
0.340 kg broccoli raab (think I forgot to record another cut) (€5)
2.75 kg beetroot leaf (€22)
5.35 kg beetroot  (€11.77)
1.7 kg chard (€13.6)
1.3 kg turnip tops (€10)
0.600 kg  leaf lettuce (far more) ( at least €14.70)
2.06kg perpetual spinach (€16)
7.7 kg potatoes (€19.25)
200g chinese broccoli
1.37 kg peas (€5)
2.75g carrots (€7.67)
0.170g asparagus kale (forgot another cutting) (€4)

There are some vegetables like the oriental greens, turnip tops, beetroot etc that I can’t find a price for. Basically if I treat them like perpetual spinach I have a rough guestimate of having to spend about €200 to buy organically what I’ve managed to grow in the garden.

Which of course is a lie because I had to buy the seeds, and slug pellets, and other bits and bobs.

If you want to confirm that our economic system is indeed bonkers and disproportionally rewards unreality while devaluing things that actually matter then you should keep a vegetable patch or just try growing a few onions.

The vegetable that is the easiest to grow, the one that grows the quickest.and  is the least work is the one that will cost you the most in the supermarket. H has been nibbling away at the lettuce and I haven’t been keeping a record of it because it seems to insubstantial compared to vegetables that matter like onions or ones that where a lot of work like the peas. My embarrassing rocket yield was actually worth €2.

Yet my onion patch which would provide a true essential of the kitchen,  which has tied the land up for months, and attracted weeds like a big weed magnet then had to be weeded, which seemed so important is actually dirt cheap.I thought that with the amount invested in growing them that they would be something. It was just about the price of buying the packet of onion sets.  Same with the peas. Grow your peas in the right way treating the world with respect, drive in wooden stakes to keep them propped up, harvest them, shell them and freeze them. Work out how much land would be needed to provide you with those 450g bags of peas you pick up in the supermarket without thinking. Wonder how it all works…

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Batman broccoli,wok and work

I’ve been trying my hand at growing some new vegetables in the garden.
These choices have been based on a value for space ratings provided in Joy Larkcom’s excellent and informative ‘Grow Your Own Vegetables’.

One of the vegetables that got a high rating was broccoli raab aka broccoli rabe aka rapini aka cime di rapa . The name ‘cime di rapa’ means ‘turnip tops’ in Italian. I planted about 0.5 sqm around  mid March and about 2 months later this is what I got, a sort of raggedy leaf with spindly shoots and florets…Image

Ideally I think that the plants are supposed to have more of a floret but as they where starting to flower it seemed like a good time to bring them in.

I’ve cooked it twice, once in a pasta and sausage dish and today with a beef stir-fry  It tasted good to me, like a sort of Batman broccoli, dark and broody, sort of bitter and complex.  I like it and will grow it again though it might be a bit heavy/bitter for some taste.

( broccoli raab = 430g)

For the stir fry I also took the 2nd cut of some stir fry greens after getting about 100g of young leaves for an oriental salad a few weeks ago.

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The main thing I couldn’t help noticing about the stir fry greens was how beautiful the leaves are to look at. It seems a shame to eat them.

(370g stir fry greens)

I was out watering the vegetable beds this morning at about 8am, it was so beautiful and peaceful, the closest I’ve had to a ‘quiet time’ in a long time.
Then my sense of peace and contentment is nagged by thinking that it’s all very well for me to watering plants at 8am but if I was a real man I wouldn’t have time for so much gardening, I’d be careering of to a job like my neighbours, I wouldn’t have time for faffing around with mizuna and broccoli raab or writing a blog.

So often I wrestle with God in the garden. It is an odd mixture of guilt and delight, pleasure and pain.  What is work? What is a job?

The questions comes thickest in the carrot bed. I’ve weeded that carrot bed so many times already, the weeds keep coming up.I’m aware of the threat of carrot flies. If I’m lucky for hours of work I’ll get 50 about carrots. I can buy a bag of  them up at Joyce’s for 39c.Is it worthwhile investing precious hours on growing something which has  a combined worth of about €4 according to Joyce’s?

They might be loss leaders or whatever but that nearly makes it worse. Carrots are being treated as a commodity or bait to encourage people to spend their money on other more worthy groceries and good.
In a world where our value and worth to society is  measured by the benchmark of money and the Market weeding a carrot bed for 50 carrots throws up questions, questions about what is worthwhile work or who gives value to work, what work should you be engaged in.
Are you crazy or is the world crazy?
Is this just a middle class privilege thing or is their work of true value in growing a turnip?
Turmoil in the turnip patch, serpent in the garden.

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