Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What does "sustainable" mean?

In the media recently the word "sustainable" has been used extensively. It is heard in phrases like "sustainable economy", "sustainable agriculture", "sustainable farming", sustainable forestry/logging", "sustainable energy", "sustainable environment" just list a few current phrases. But, what does this word actually mean?

According to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
1: to give support or relief 2: to supply with sustenance: NOURISH 3: Keep up, Prolong 4: to support the weight of: PROP; by hope 5: to support as true, legal or just 8: to support by adequate proof: confirm (like in a testimony) ~ sustainable (adj).

I went to one of my favorite sources Mother Earth News to find a clearer definition and how it relates to our current society in the 21st Century. Sustainability is viewed as a long term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic and social dimensions.

Now, that makes more sense...

When my Viking Husband and I decided to head down the path of "going off the grid" we made our decision based on several criteria. 1. Food and Utility costs! We are a gluten free family and the cost of food is high! After looking at our power bill one summer we were aghast at the bill. Even with energy conservation items in the house the bill was out of the Universe.(Economics) 2. We wanted to provide organic and positive ethically raised foods for our children. We have all heard of the horrors of the factory farms (Environmental). 3. As we journeyed down our path towards organic foods and going off the grid we discovered a community of people that had similar goals and like minds as to us. We found that living a similar and simpilar lifestyle, communing with nature, and sharing it with others of like minds we created an inner peace within our family. We also found that sometimes to change a global outlook one must also start at home. (Social Dimensions) Are we totally 110% sustainable. Of course not! Are we becoming more self reliant and creating a more sustainable lifestyle. You bet!

So, where do I start you wonder? I know that question! I asked it myself. My very patient Viking husband and I have discussed the same question as I held a plastic bowl. I was trying to decide to toss it or reuse it. The cost can be very prohibitive if not budgeted.
Here's my advice where to start.
1. Start a garden. Choose food that you and your family like and will eat. As you become comfortable gardening start exploring how to build and maintain Victory Gardens. Then start freezing your foods. When you become brave enough... try canning. It is easy!It is really easy to convert to organic gardening as well. I have listed books on the Sustainable Subsistence page.
2. Recycle. I will admit! We are soda junkies in our family. But, every can we use is recycled. Find a local recycle center and find out what they will take in recycle materials. You will be surprised what is recyclable and you may make some money. Goodwell Industries will also take computers, T.Vs et al. Believe it or not with a bit of time management and organization we have reduced our waste to one can. I think Waste Management is confused with our home.
3. By your food locally. Check out Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in your local areas. Now, with CSA the produce you receive are seasonally grown. You may need to re-learn to cook, can, freeze or like produce you have never tried before. But, with CSA produce they are all organically, and locally grown by farms in your community. Many of the produce grown on these farms are also heirloom varieties with no weird genetic alterations. This aspect really appealed to me since I also do Historical Cooking Demos. Regarding meats, dairy and eggs. This can be a challenge and depending on your area may not be available. Some states it is illegal to purchase whole unpasteurized cow and/or goal milk. Except for the eggs my rule of thumb is to keep dairy and meats local. In my case in the state of California.
Of course all meats I purchase are locally, grass fed and organically raised.
4. Check out your local Farmer's Market. These are fun places to explore. It also satisfies the locally grown or provided produce/items. I once had home made gluten free pasta from a Farmer's Market that made a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce taste out of this world! Depending where the Farmer's Market are located they can provide just about everything one may need. In January, I read an article about a Woman who got so fed up with the grocery chains that she went on a boycott. She used her local Farmer's Market circuit and CSA for all her needs. She said that the first couple of months was rough, but after a year she said she would never go back to a grocery chain.

Try these steps first and see where your path leads.

Bless Bless

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gleðilega páska! Happy Easter!

Gleðilega páska! Happy Easter!

My two Viking Kiddos are at the age now where the famous “Why” questions come flying fast and hard. We have our own free range chickens and the Kiddos know that the chickens provide eggs. This is the first year where they started asking, “Why do Easter Bunny’s bring eggs when the chickens lay them?” I have also heard parents struggle to answer “How does the Easter Bunny lay eggs?” Really good questions.

Viking Dad and I started looking up the different stories and the myths around Eostre, who is Teutonic/Germanic Goddess of fertility, abundance and new beginnings. According to lore the white hare was her companion or symbol. In the Viking myths the Goddesses Freyja and Iđunn represent the virtues of fertility, abundance and spring.

This is a brief tale summarized from multiple sources.

One early Spring or late Winter, before the snow had thawed the Goddess Eostre found a wounded bird in the snow. To help the little bird survive the severe cold, she transformed it into a rabbit. The rabbit’s fur was thick and warm and allowed the rabbit/bird to survive the severe cold. Unfortunately, the transformation was incomplete and the rabbit retained the ability to lay eggs. In thanks for its life being saved, the rabbit took the eggs and decorated them and left them as gifts for Eostre. The rabbit found that she could only lay these special eggs once a year. Eostre was delighted by the generous gift from the rabbit that she wanted all to share her joy with all of mankind, so the tradition continued. The white hare became a symbol of Eostre.

Viking Dad and I really liked this simple story and it seemed to satisfies the “why” question. Viking Dad and I decided that we would keep the story simple and not burden the Kiddos with the questionable background of the history of Eostre. That is not the meaning of Easter or even Eostre’s joyous tradition. The meaning of this season should be a time of new beginnings (it is Spring), forgiveness and redemption ( Passover and Resurrection) and utter silliness (twitterpation).

Bless Bless

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome to the 21st Century

Kveðja frá Suður-Kaliforníu. Við erum að íslenskur víkingur og hans Samar konu sinni vinda inn í 21. öld. Við lifum í úthverfum hverfi með tvö börn okkar. Það er hér við erum að reyna að halda jafnvægi heildræn og sjálfbær viðurværis búa við kröfum 21. aldarinnar.
Við garðinn, ala húsdýr, arfleifð handverk, og taka þátt í lifandi sögu viðburðir byggt á 10. aldar víkingaöld. Bless Bless

Greetings from Southern California. We are an Icelandic viking and his Saami wife time warped into the 21st century. We are living in a suburban neighborhood with our two children. It is here we are trying to balance a holistic and sustainable subsistence living with the demands of the 21st century.
We garden, raise farm animals, heritage craft, and participate in living history events based on the 10th Century Viking age. Check out House Drekka-lundr for more Viking History.
Unlike the traditional images we see in the movies of the barbaric and blood thirsty Vikings, in reality the Vikings saw themselves as farmers and merchants. It was the poor unfortunate souls in Lindesfarne Monastery that actually wrote down the first negative description of the Vikings. Who could blame them since they were raided yearly by a Viking clan? Much like the Amish, the Shakers, and the Quakers (well maybe not the Quakers) the Vikings did and do live a practical, simple, holistic, and sustainable subsistence living. They were very spiritual (Strong codes of ethics and laws are recorded in the Eddas and Sagas) and many did quietly follow Christianity long before the rest of Europe. However, the Vikings were also a warrior culture that saw the world through pragmatic eyes. This pragmatism is often in conflict with the realities of the 21st Century.
How to balance it all??
Bless Bless