June 4, 2008

Solar Cooking

I don't have one, but I want one! I remember reading a lifetime ago about a woman who used her solar oven to cook everything, including her Thanksgiving Turkey. Really? That's pretty cool, I remember thinking. And off I went, busy busy busy, working too much and living too little, to pay for life.

Life takes us a lot of places, and lately I've been trying to really go with the flow, and learn what I can along the way. I'm meeting interesting people, and the prevailing theme has been one of localization, sustainability, simplification, conservation, nourishment and love. Love for ourselves, love for each other, and love for the Pachamama. Gaia. Earth. Our very special Blue Planet.

They are compelling, the problems facing the environment and humanity. How do we lessen our impact? Of the many baby steps, many small changes, many meaningful actions that can be taken to make a difference, which ones speak to me? Which ones sound the easiest to implement? That's how I approach dietary changes with clients - what works best for you? What can you see as the easiest to integrate? We start from there, and the client makes more changes as he or she is willing and able. So, back to our environment - what can I do today that will make a difference? One of the experts who spoke in
The 11th Hour said that "people are doing the best that they can within their awareness." So raising awareness is crucial. There are so many people raising awareness, and it is heartening.

I think it is important to acknowledge what we are already doing, and build from there. I recycle, compost and use compact fluorescents, I try not to buy very many packaged foods, and I think about the lifespan of a product as I'm making my consumer choices. I bring my own mug to the coffee shop. I'm learning about cover crops and carbon sequestering, and this is the year of the organic market garden for me, with the goal of growing most of my produce and selling my surplus. I will preserve what doesn't sell. I try to support local businesses, and I buy grassfed meats. I eat wild greens (weeds!) as my first choice when I'm harvesting for meals.

That said, I have a lot of room for improvement. I was only barely aware that compact fluorescents are recyclable. I would like to use less gas. I'm trying to walk and ride my bike more, and drive my old beater truck whenever I can, instead of my Blazer. That old beater gets pretty good gas mileage. I would love love love a scooter (84MPG!), but that's a years in the future acquisition.

I think a solar oven is a really fun way to consume less fossil fuel! It has the appeal of a crockpot, with a set it and forget it kind of thing. I like that. I'm busy, and have lots of gardening to do! And then there's the farmer's market, continuing ed, and building my practice! What a cool way to spend less time cooking! The Solar Oven Society is a not for profit working to distribute solar ovens to sun rich but fuel poor countries around the world, and purchasing your oven through them furthers that goal. For the frugal do-it-yourselfers, I found plans for making your own solar oven online. Choices! I am especially fond of the cob solar oven, as it matches my cob dream house. I will probably make one of the box style ovens, they seem to be cardboard lined with foil. If I can acquire enough scrap lumber and an old window, I might make a sturdier oven. It ought to look a lot like a cold frame. Another benefit of solar cooking is that my kitchen will stay much cooler this summer!

So, lots of room for improvement, but a solar oven and more self-powered transportation sound like a good start to me, along with the continuing garden projects.

What do you do already, and what are you going to do?


Shawna Greenway said...

What an inspiring post Heather! I think I tucked the solar oven idea way back in my brain files too...but what a cool thing to build with the boys..I am going to do a little research and see what comes up. Do post on your updates if you make one.....
Twice a year, my husband and I get a babysitter and go out to eat and sit down and really go over our goals as a family and ways to push ourselves further into sustainability and ways we can do better earthwise within our family context. I think its important to set time aside to ponder these things because its easy to get complacent. Anyway, we are going to do this Friday night and so its much on my mind, what ideas I want to propose etc.
We do have a composting toilet, rainwater collection, and we try to raise and grow a lot of our food but there is so much more we could be doing and we are constantly working on it because it fills our hearts with joy to lessen our impact on the earth....

Heather ~ Wild Vitality! said...

Shawna, that's so great! Being single, I hadn't thought about the importance of scheduling that quality of time with a significant other. I'll remember it for when I have one! I would like to collect rainwater and turn it into a gravity fed irrigation system. How do you keep the barrel free of debris?

Shawna Greenway said...

Just with a simple screen :)
Rain barrels are a relatively simple project. What we want to do soon though is to build troughs that will catch all the water off the barn and divert it onto the garden. Usually we mulch really well and hardly ever water anything but last year we had a really bad drought and lost so much....
Yeah, I feel really blessed to have a partner who pushes me as much as I push him to get into getting more and more "green". I know friends who have a really much harder time because their partner is so different and not interested and that can really create challenge and tension........so, lucky you, if you are single, if and when you meet a potential partner you can make it a priority that they share the same goals....it makes everything so much easier and more fun!!

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