Monthly Archives: December 2007

Buzzword, Locavore. Ironic Fallacy?

Eat Local Food ButtonThe words of the year for 2007 have been determined. The Oxford American Dictionary picks “locavore” (noun) • one who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles.

The term “locavore” was coined two years ago in San Francisco by a group whose official membership has since grown to include participants all over the world, including several in Georgia. The group exchanges tips and celebrates their respective foodsheds (path from supplier to table and everything in between).

While trying to zero in on my foodshed, I learned that the modern U.S. foodshed includes the whole world, and found a lot of other interesting information as well as a link to an online community food store at www.foodroutes.org. Looking at the agricultural system in terms of the origins and pathways of food items, it seems feasible to focus them at the local level.

But a couple of comments about the Oxford dictionary word choice reflect cynicism and frustration with the “do-good fad” of locavoreing. One man writes:

“I once tried being a locavore, researching local sources online, going to farmers’ markets and soforth. But what I found is that the electricity I used doing my research, and the gasoline I burned driving to the markets, probably increased my carbon footprint tenfold for the specific task of grocery shopping. I think the concept of being a locavore is an ironic fallacy …”

Ouch.

Here I am, all excited and ready to aim high. I have studied the guidelines:

If not locally produced, then organic.
If not organic, then family farm.
If not family farm, then local business.
If not local business, then terroir (i.e. Parmesan from Parma)

And, taking advice from the experts who started the 100-mile diet, I am starting small. One night, one meal. Make it New Year’s Eve. The menu includes a few pounds of local shrimp easily obtainable 2 miles from home. I’ll also cook up some turnips and winter greens I retrieved from an organic farmer 28.3 miles away near the Marlow area of South Effingham County. For a modified lowcountry boil I’ll get some sausage from Hinson’s Georgia Market in Rincon (23.2 miles). At that same store I would like to pick up some Thomasville cheese (234 miles) and corn meal from Helen (335 miles) for muffins, but they come from too far away. I will take the wine from Statesboro (55 miles) and go home.

Maybe an in-state diet would be more diverse but this menu doesn’t look half bad … A few more days until New Year’s and I’d like to add some more items, appetizers mostly. But now here I am, calculating the gas mileage and anxious to shut down the computer.

Photo credit: Roland via Flickr.

“Bring One for the Chipper” Christmas tree recycling

On Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. residents can donate Christmas trees for processing into mulch for use in playgrounds, beautification projects and residential landscaping. Drop off locations include Bacon Park Transfer Station, the Dean Forest Landfill, the Wilmington Island Landfill and local Home Depot Stores. For more information, call Nathaniel Glover of Keep Savannah Beautiful at 651-3685.

Ready to roll out the rain barrel

Rain Barrel DiagramAs of 6 p.m. yesterday, Savannah was about 7 inches below the normal yearly precipitation level, so I’m thankful for overnight soaking. The welcome sound of rain hitting my roof reminded me of a household project I’ve been considering for the last year or so: installing rain barrels for use in residential irrigation.

It’s difficult to determine the popularity of rain barrels in Savannah, as they may hidden by landscaping or fencing. In fact, the only rain barrels I’ve seen “in the wild” are situated on the north side of Charles Ellis Montessori School. I’m not aware of any local rain barrel vendors, but they are available at many online retailers including Clean Air Gardening, Rain Barrels and More and GREENCulture.

I’d like to try to make my own, following instructions from the Internet. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find a local source of food grade 55-gallon plastic barrels (with lids). Anyone know where I could score some at low cost or for free? Is anyone else in Savannah currently using store-bought or homemade rain barrels on their properties? I’d appreciate any advice veteran rain catchers might offer.

Image Source: Low Impact Development Center.

Learning from Atlanta’s mistakes

Atlanta Traffic

A story in the Dec. 17 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports a consultant has confirmed what many suspected. Atlanta’s automobile-based regional transportation system has thrown a wrench in its high output growth machine. According to Dennis J. Donovan of WDG Consulting, “some companies are quietly rejecting Atlanta because of traffic.” Here’s more from the story:

“Up until seven or eight years ago when we had Atlanta on a recommended short list” for places to relocate or expand a business, ‘we rarely heard grumbling,’ he said. That has changed. Now, he said, when Atlanta shows up on a short list, “Every one of our companies, every one of them, says, ‘Boy, isn’t there a lot of traffic down there?’”

There is a valuable lesson we can learn from Atlanta: You can’t pave your way out of traffic congestion. Four decades of non-stop road construction have induced traffic, fueled sprawl, destroyed the landscape, fouled the air and eviscerated communities. Is this an example worth following?

We should keep Atlanta in mind when we learn of local plans to widen area roadways or construct new highways. Savannah should learn from Atlanta’s mistakes instead of replicating strategies that are proven failures. Donovan suggests that Atlanta’s traffic problems have pushed it to “the point of no return.” Savannah still has time to avoid this fate.

Photo credit: Valerie Reneé via Flickr.

Still time to get vocal about Plant Vogtle

Mary Landers’ Dec. 16 Savannah Morning News story, “Nuclear plant’s expansion plan fuels water debate,” featured a terrific quote by Harry Jue, director of the Savannah Water and Sewer Bureau. He described the plant’s use of Savannah River water as a “an inter-basin transfer to outer space.” Landers reports that an expanded Plant Vogtle would require even more water:

“Vogtle’s two reactors, which began operating in 1987 and 1989, draw about 69 million gallons of water a day from the river at the site in Waynesboro. About two-thirds of that evaporates. The rest is returned to the river. Two new reactors are expected to increase the daily loss from the river to 70 million to 80 million gallons a day. Jue said that’s enough water to supply Savannah for three to four days.”

Plant VogtleThe U.S. Regulatory Commission is currently seeking public comments on the Plant Vogtle plan and according to Sara Barczak of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the comment period has been extended to Dec. 28. Comments should be submitted either by mail to the Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop T-6D59, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by e-mail at Vogtle_EIS@nrc.gov. Background on Plant Vogtle is available on this page of the SACE Web site.

Photo Credit: gsbrown99 via Flickr.