Modern lives contain way too much negativity, a cycle perpetrated by a fear-mongering media looking to sell us stuff we don’t need. In the interest of combatting that mentality, then, we present our second “Things That Are Great” link round-up, highlighting news stories and trends that we think are worth celebrating. (Read our first positive link collection here!)
Photo clearly not taken in Colorado.
If you had to guess at the largest irrigated crop in America, you might well assume corn or soy. You’d be wrong; however; according to a 2015 NASA study, lawns represent about 40 million acres in the U.S., or about three times as much land as corn. All this grass comes at a steep price: 9 billion gallons of water per day, plus hundreds of millions of pounds of fertilizers and pesticides and other chemical treatments, all of which eventually end up in our water sources. And yard waste, including grass clippings and leaves, represents the largest single occupant of our landfills, too. All this for a crop we can’t even eat? Ridiculous.
Thankfully, though, forward-thinking companies are working to change that antiquated attitude. All across the country, edible landscapes are “unlawning” America. Converting pointless, thirsty lawns into healthy, local human food? Yes, please. These edible landscapers often face a lot of resistance from restrictive HOAs, but progress is still being made, albeit slowly. If you’d like to replace your lawn with native plants, check with your local extension agent – they’re often the best source of information for what will grow best and still look nice in your region.
The beautiful Quiet Farm compost pile, hard at work even in winter.
The city of Austin, Texas passed an ordinance last fall prohibiting restaurants and other food-service businesses from disposing of food in landfills. Businesses can donate the edible food or choose to compost it, but they can’t stuff landfills with it. GrubTubs, an innovative start-up, responded to this ordinance by creating a company based on converting that waste into nutritious animal feed. Their airtight tubs are delivered to restaurants, filled with food waste, picked up and converted into animal feed by billions of hungry grubs. With more than 40% of edible food dumped into landfills, why are we only now looking at diverting that waste stream into something worthwhile? (P.S. Start your own compost at home this year, if you haven’t yet.)
This gorgeous photo essay from the inimitable New York Times shows how female ranchers (many in Colorado!) are staking their claim in traditionally male roles. It is possible to raise cattle sustainably and ecologically, it just isn’t often done; Americans love to complain about how animals are raised but refuse to pay more for their food. We can’t have it both ways – well-raised meat costs more money. If we ate less meat but spent more on it, our health care costs would decrease substantially.
And two additional stories from the NYT (far and away the best journalism available today, especially regarding climate change) discuss how rethinking our attitudes towards soil could change the environment for the better. We’re not going to accomplish anything by doing things the way they’ve always been done; instead, we need to attack the problem from new angles and acknowledge that the old ways haven’t worked. The good news is, there is hope. The bad news is, we’re not paying attention.
Have you heard anything positive lately? Please share in the comments below, so we can all start our week with something good!