September 23, 2013

Faded produce sign on old building.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We were discussing produce in class the other day and the complexity of this subject can be mind-boggling.  One must decide between fresh or frozen, locally sourced versus industrially produced, organic or conventionally grown (with herbicides and pesticides), and GMO or non-GMO.  Sometimes the decision is based solely on economics and it is unfortunate that fresh, local, organic, and non-GMO foods can be more expensive.  It is important to note that this is not always the case.  However, given the rate of poverty in the U.S. and the high number of working poor, that extra amount really can make a difference.  Availability is another issue-many communities are served only by convenience stores and fresh produce is just not stocked.   A final variable is time.  The busier the schedule, the greater the lure of fast food.  Unfortunately, that which is fast, particularly if it comes from some box or package, is often just not that healthy.

Lone pepper.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

All of those factors can make for some tough choices.  This is also where it gets interesting.  Michael Moss in Salt, Sugar,Fat points out that the food children eat often determines which will be consumed throughout their lives:  early experiences teach children what food should taste like and foods that are high in those fundamental ingredients “train” the taste buds what to expect.  Mr. Moss also discusses the process by which food manufacturer’s seized on the sociological changes sweeping the U.S. during the 1950s as women entered the workforce-this is where time comes into the equation.  Advertisements taught working mothers that processed foods were the answer to a busy schedule.

I clearly remember having a preference for Campbell’s vegetable soup over my grandmother’s made-from-scratch vegetable soup when I was growing up and McDonald’s was a multiple-night-a-week staple while in college.  Twenty years ago I made very fundamental changes in my eating patterns and now have a hard time even thinking about eating the majority of fast and/or processed foods. 

I wish I could have her soup now.

Take care.



September 18, 2013

Stripped trees awaiting cutting.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Trees exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and as such help to regulate the greenhouse gases emitted by our lifestyles.  They also provide shade on a sunny day; a home for birds and other fauna; and, in some cases, a barrier to the noise generated by highways.  Oh, and in keeping with the previous post, trees can provide an abundance of fall colour.  (As an aside, The Giving Tree, is a worthwhile read and addresses all of the points made in this blog opening.)  Trees provide a great many benefits-until they are cut down.

Single stripped tree.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Arguably, once cut, trees can be used for firewood or ground to pulp for a variety of paper products.  If burned, not only are they no longer able to participate in the exchange of CO2 for O2, any carbon that has been stored is then released into the atmosphere by the burning thereby adding to climate change.  The efforts to create a reduction in use of new paper products or the recycling of used paper products do help offset those trees lost to harvesting or removal for other reasons.

Single stripped tree with a single branch left at the top.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I do not know the reason for the cutting of the pine trees along this particular stretch of road.  Perhaps it is due to the proximity of the above-ground power lines.  It is most certainly less expensive to cut the trees than it would be to put the power lines underground, although the recent history of big weather would argue for just such a step.  Trees certainly can become a threat to infrastructure (think houses), especially if they become diseased and lose their structural integrity,  and therefore may need to be removed as a precautionary measure.  That does not appear to the case here, but I am not an aborist.  Nonetheless, they are now gone and any benefits or problems go with them.

Stumps after the cutting.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The past year, 2012, was the hottest year on record according to the Weather Channel.  While 2013 has been much different in the Mid-Atlantic, it has remained brutal for most of the Southwest (as described here) and in other parts of the world.  Out west, the trees and ground covers have been so dry that they readily burn and the fires rapidly consume whatever is in its path.  Human infrastructure, be that houses or power lines, is increasingly at risk due to the confluence of changing weather patterns and our material culture.  With those environmental/societal changes has also come the increased risk to those fighting the fires and this has been a remarkable deadly fire season.

Single tree stump left after cutting.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These particular trees have been removed from those equations.

Take care.

The Colour of Food

September 15, 2013

Mixed veggies ready for cooking.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The colour of Fall extends to the available foods.  Enjoy!

Take care.

Field Corn

September 2, 2013

Corn on stalk

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We have turned the corner on Labour Day and so Summer 2013 is officially over, at least in terms of vacations and such.  Interestingly, those cooler temperatures of a few weeks ago and for most of the past two months have now given way to the 90s and higher humidity.  It certainly had to come sometime.

This also means that fall is getting closer and one of the iconic signs of the change of seasons is field corn.  There is something magical and haunting about the manner in which the wind vibrates among the ears and stalks as they dry in the heat of the sun.  Their dusty scent is carried on the breeze. Their colour makes the transition from pastel to deep yellow and vibrant green to tan to brown. Their texture changes from succulent to dense and pliant to brittle.  The sound is what is remembered.

I am glad I have the opportunity to drive past the fields and to slow down and let my senses take over.

Take care.