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Found 5 results

  1. PaulWheaton


    Permaculture and homesteading goofballs Most folks that come here are interested in our permaculture and homesteading community. Here are our top forum categories: Growies Critters Buildings Homesteading Energy Living Community Wilderness Regional Resources Education Artisians Cider Press Years ago I would get so much email that I started some forums. The forums got so big and sorta became a community of its own, so I split them off to their own domain. The permaculture forums have since become larger than all other permaculture web sites combined. If you post something there and you specifically want my feedback and 48 hours have passed without anything from me, post to the "tinkering" forum with the subject line of "invoking the 48 hour rule" - and put a link to thread in the post. I probably post to the forums about 5 to 20 times each day. A lot of that is in the tinkering forum - where I talk about what stuff I am trying to manage day to day.
  2. Melanie Sorrentino

    Dumpster Diving – Food for Freedom

    A radical way to never pay for food, no food stamps needed. A million years ago I heard of dumpster diving through the gutter punk propaganda. When I was 17, I figured freedom was outside of a job, so I dabbled with the notion of voluntary poverty. My first boyfriend and I left Texas to sleep on the streets of Philadelphia for a week. I will say up front that it was one of the best weeks of my life. During that week we were part of the street community and got to know a bunch of travelers. That’s where I first heard of dumpster diving. I had no idea what dumpster diving meant and it went on the back burner for about 5 years. When I was 22, I typed “dumpster diving” into the search engine of YouTube and was surprised at what I saw. Hello, someone’s pulling food out of the trash. I remember thinking that it seemed novel and how I wanted to try it, but there was a mental barrier that prevented me from even formulating the steps to simply trying it. It resumed back burner status for another 4 years. When I was 26, a good friend told me that he was getting into dumpster diving and invited me along. I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. You’ve got to try it. I know how fantastic the mind can be, making up scary stories, but the mind has nothing on reality. I’ve seen hundreds of dumpsters and would estimate 9 out of 10 dumpsters are clean. Not everyone is a complete slob when throwing out their trash, so set that aside and consider this; in the last 30 days my husband and I spent $50 on food and have not touched 70% of it. When saving for our tiny house and land, we had to whittle our food budget down to $140 a week, but in reality we’d spend an average of $200 a week on food. Now it’s almost like we’re getting paid $800-$1,000 a month to dumpster dive our food or rather, instead of paying ourselves and having more money, we just work less because we have fewer expenses. I’m going to lay out the steps then address some commonly asked questions. Phase one: Just get inside a dumpster, any dumpster, whatever is closest. There’s generally 3 sizes of dumpsters that I come across. The small ones that say “organics only” are for produce. Those are the size of residential plastic flip-top trash cans. There are the large metal trash cans that I can’t see over and have to usually climb in or peek through the sliding metal door. There’s a slightly smaller metal trash can that folks a few inches taller than me can see into. They don’t have sliding doors but large flip-lids. That first week of diving, we knew that coffee shops threw out pastries so we went to one. That was my first time getting INSIDE of a dumpster. I was excited to cross that bridge and was unaware of discretion. I opened bags that clearly had coffee grinds in them and got my hands dirty. I felt liberated in that trash can and knew I was willing to follow this through. I think we ended up finding some sandwiches that were tightly wrapped up and completely edible, bags of cookies from 7-11 and 2 boxes of $50 Neiman Marcus chocolates! Finding things of value, even if it wasn’t something I wanted, meant that I would be provided for. Phase two: Find food and eat it The first time I ate food from the trash was the first time I opened the organics only dumpster behind the Mexican store near my apartment. I hit a goldmine! The top 3 feet of the trash can was dozens of perfectly ripe bananas. I ate one and felt liberated. I took my bag off, filled it as high as I could and walked home. I loved that dumpster. If you have any thoughts of food in the dumpster being dirty or smelly, then it’s a sign that you’ve probably have never gotten food from the trash. The majority of the food dumpsters where I dive contain food that looks right off of the shelf. There’s a documentary called DIVE that shows a group of homies that live off of the dumpster finds and they eat better than ever. I’ve heard more than once there is an improvement of food choices once you dumpster often, and there are enough people out there living exclusively or supplementary on dumpstered food that it’s worth looking into. Phase three: Branch out After we got comfortable with dumpstering a few local spots, we started branching out. Diversifying has been a double-edged sword for us. For one, it gets us out of our routine, which makes for a really fun adventure, but it also creates varying levels of disappointment. Let’s say we hit the streets to find new places but it happens to be trash day so we drive around and it’s nothing but dead ends. Sad face. But sometimes we’d hit a goldmine and we’d all feel like a million bucks. In the beginning, we had the Mexican grocery store and in the back of our mind we knew doughnut/bagel/coffee shops where always an option because they trash everything daily, but we wanted to really look around. Dumpster diving is known for it’s endless amount of junk food. When something comes to its “sell by” date, it’s often that a whole case that gets trashed. Just the other day we dumpstered 2 cases of unopened honey buns which was over 10 pounds! For a long time we avoided dumpster diving but not because we didn’t want to eat from the trash. For 9 years I was vegan, for 2 years I was raw vegan and for 4 years I was paleo/WAP. I have a long history of having a really neurotic (orthorexic) relationship with food and a lifetime supply of bagels and doughnuts wasn’t going to cut it. I’ve come a long way, I’m willing to enjoy a wide variety of junk food and fresh food. Back in the day the fresh food issue was still at hand. Once we branched out, connected with other divers in our area, and didn’t just write certain places off was when we found the mother load of daily fresh produce. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of places throw out produce but often it’s a mixed bag of decent, rotten and bruised produce, however our mother load always looks better than produce I’ve seen being sold on shelves. Phase four: Dream big Don’t think, “Oh the trash can is going to be dirty with nothing I like and I’m going to get caught….” That’s not dreaming big. On the Facebook dumpster diving page www.facebook.com/groups/freeusa/ (closed group) a women dumpstered 38 kind bars from an office supply store. We’re always on the look out to have snacks that my husband can take to college and eat between class. Seeing her picture was pretty inspiring. She branched out, tried new places, maybe got into the dumpster and her family is better off for it. Dreaming big is looking at your needs and wants and expecting those things to be provided to you, but not at a cost. You’re not putting someone out by meeting your needs, these are things that are going to the dump that still have value. My idea of “dreaming big” is never paying for food outside of social events. My friend who invited me out 4 years ago never pays for food and on the dumpster Facebook page there are others just like him. Whether it’s supplemental or exclusive dumpster diving food can be a part of your dreams. Phase five: Repeat set four I was working 50-70 hour weeks for too long and burned out. I stopped working and we were living on the cheap, spending $1 on food which was pasta and rice. I really had it in my head that in order to live within my means I had to lower my quality of life because I had been living off meat and veggies. I think that humbled me a lot. Chilling out on of my orthorexic tendencies really made way for some serious dumpster diving. Now we have fresh squeezed OJ every day, fruit smoothies for snacks, I made homemade tomato sauce, and we dumpstered a 20 pound spiral cut ham. Dumpster diving can meet more than just your immediate needs. We give away a lot of food to those who are interested in what we’re doing. We keep snacks in the car and when we pull up to traffic lights where hobos are asking for money we hand then 8 bags of M&Ms or a bag of potato chips. On the Facebook dumpster diving page, a pastor posted a picture of 50 pounds of meat that he and his wife were going to grill for the homeless. Some people wish they had more money to help while other people help out by diving food for those in need. There are families on tough times who dumpster dive to make ends meet. Dumpster diving and prepping go hand in hand. Ask any dumpster diver to show you their pantry, fridge, freezer or backup freezer because they are set! Is it legal? I doubt it, but every place is different, I just assume that the law would rather you starve and die before you’re allowed to touch their precious trash before it’s hauled off…. but that’s not always the case. The way I think of it this “if there is $200 in that trash can would I get in?” and the answer is always yes. When diving, I always think about “What if a cop rolls up, what am I going to say?” I think I would probably say that our country is broke and I’d rather reserve food stamps for someone who really needs it. (I’d try to make that sound the least “hippie” as possible) Plus there is The Good Samaritan Law and the 1988 supreme court (California Vs Greenwood) trash picking ruling. It says picking trash is legal if you’re not trespassing. Do you actually get in the trash can? I’m always willing, but seldom do. We dumpstered a grabbing stick and I’m impressed with how handy it is! Getting in the dumpster isn’t required. When is the best time to go? We all go at different times and all have success. The key is consistency! Pick a handful of stores and check them every day for a week. Where is the best place to dumpster dive? Every dumpster ever, I’m not kidding. Whether you’re looking for food, clothes, shoes, pet food, etc., imagine every dumpster having something you need. Remember the case of kind bars at an office supply store! Plus the more you look for something the more in the zone you’ll be. Compactors are not your friend but keep an eye out, next to compactors can be a small dumpster with a gold mine in it. What kind of people dig through trash? I asked our dumpster diving group what their skill or education levels are and here’s what I got: “Associates in Science (nursing), CNA, Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, office manager, freelance writer, AA graphic design, AA in business, Masters Industrial Hygiene/Hazardous Materials, BA in Education, BS in Business Marketing, GED with some college, B.S. in Mass Communication, plus 1 years study for a master’s degree, Bachelors in Environmental Science, Bachelors in Psychology, and marketing minor in business administration, PhD and work at a university”; the list went on but I barely graduated high school, so I’m not trying to do a song and dance about dumpster divers being top notch, well groomed people. I’m really trying to illustrate a spectrum for those who are only imagining hobos. How do you know what’s edible or not? If the food isn’t identical to what you’d pay for, then leave it where you find it. Smell will tell you most of what you want know. Smell and sight together will damn near paint a perfect picture. Use your brain, use Google’s brain and watch Dive the documentary. If I can answer any questions, I would love to hear them all.
  3. In my personal blog, I have written extensively about the changes I am making to the way I live my life. Many of the changes that I have made and continue to make revolve around my journey to seek balance in my life. To make a long story short, several years ago, back in 2010, I was living a completely different lifestyle. At that time, I was working 60+ hours a week on average and traveling extensively for work. Living the life of a road warrior, I regularly ate fast food and at restaurants. I drank and smoked heavily. I was taking my employees and clients out regularly - because "that's what managers do." Without going into great detail, the year of 2010 was the first year of what would become an incredible transition in my life. For the first time in years, I decided to use some of my vacation time. In the past, I would collect it and simply cash out at the end of the year. I was always "too busy" to take vacation. There was work to be done and damn it - I was the man to do it! However, several years of this hectic lifestyle had me feeling burnt out. Not only did I feel like I vacation. There was work to be done and damn it - I was the man to do it! However, several years of this hectic lifestyle had me feeling burnt out. Not only did I feel like I needed a vacation, but it was suggested that I take one. I scheduled some time off to visit with friends at an old-time music festival in June of 2010. Later on that month was the bachelor party for one of my best friends, who was getting married later that year in September. As I reconnected with old friends, I began to realize that there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder and achieving what society deemed to be "success." In my efforts to grow my career and "succeed" in life - I began to forget about certain aspects of my personal life.During the months of July and August, the stress of life and the work environment had gotten increasingly worse. I decided to put in extra time to "make up" for the time I had previously taken off. I also wanted to put in extra time to prepare for the upcoming long weekend for my best friend's wedding in September.on that month was the bachelor party for one of my best friends, who was getting married later that year in September. As I reconnected with old friends, I began to realize that there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder and achieving what society deemed to be "success." In my efforts to grow my career and "succeed" in life - I began to forget about certain aspects of my personal life.During the months of July and August, the stress of life and the work environment had gotten increasingly worse. I decided to put in extra time to "make up" for the time I had previously taken off. I also wanted to put in extra time to prepare for the upcoming long weekend for my best friend's wedding in September. This was the first time in my life I was involved in someone's wedding. Again, I felt as though these moments were the special moments that were truly important in life.I began to recognize the importance and value of relationships in life. While we always talked about the value of relationships at work and through our leadership training...it always seemed false. The relationships we engaged in on that professional level were strategic and a means to an end. Comparatively speaking, the relationships that I witnessed and built during that year in my personal life contributed to my realization that most of the relationships in my professional life were simply nothing more than a facade in an effort to improve and grow the "bottom line." The wedding weekend was the pivotal moment where I truly realized the importance and value of relationships in life. It was during this weekend where I watched one of my best friends transition into being a husband. Moreover, I reconnected with an old friend from years past. We both showed up at the wedding single without dates. We split the cost of the rental car and the wedding gifts. We also spent a considerable amount of time together learning about each other and the direction our lives had taken us over the past 10 years. We began forming a relationship of our own during that weekend.As this relationship continued to grow over the next few months, we began spending more and more time together and I began to realize that there was much more to life than the growth and development of my career. I began to realize that the growth and development of my own life, and more specifically the relationships in my life, was considerably more rewarding than anything I'd ever experienced on the professional level. It was remarkable. This initiated a number of significant life changes, ultimately beginning with the resignation of my current management position.During the past few years, I had worked hard, paid down my debt, and paid off my school loans. Moreover, I had built up a fair amount of savings and, ironically enough, the savings that I had earned and built was just enough to fund a move across the country. My girlfriend and I decided that in order to move forward with the growth and development of our relationship, it was beneficial to be with each other. It made more sense for me to move, as the company I worked for had operations in Southern California (where she lived) and I would likely be able to make a lateral move out there and join our Western Operations. This is precisely what I did in March of 2011.I share all this with you as the reader to encourage the importance of interpersonal relationships in all aspects of life. Working to find the balance between relationships on the professional level and the personal level was something that I found myself trying to do. Besides trying to grow and develop an intimate relationship on a personal level, I was trying to grow and develop new relationships on a professional level as well. Moreover, I was trying to make friends and reach out in ways that I had previously failed to do. In the past, I was too preoccupied with climbing the corporate ladder and growing my career to focus on much of anything else. The new relationship helped me understand that it was necessary to find balance not only in relationships but in all aspects of life. As I moved away from my family, I realized how important they were to me. I began to realize that my career, while important - did not dominate my life in the way that I once thought it had.I also began to realize that the more I learned about myself, the more I remembered how important spirituality was to me. My love life was a no brainer, that was the big driver behind the realization of all these other things. Trying to form a new community was important to me and ultimately I was taking strides towards improving my health and well-being. I had quit smoking cigarettes soon after the wedding in September and by the time I arrived in California - I was a non-smoker! While 2010 may have been the culmination of stress in my life to date...the year 2011 was the year I began to understand the importance of balance in life.As we continue this journey together, you will learn much about the transitions that have taken place in my life as I struggle to find that balance. My journey to find balance includes stories about health and wellness, homesteading, outdoor activities, politics and economics. The tactical and firearms element will be the least of what I can contribute to this website, but based on what I have seen thus far, there are several columnists and contributors who specialize in this arena and are much better suited to speak about these topics. I hope to learn from them and increase my knowledge and skill set accordingly. It is my hope that my life experiences to date and the way in which I choose to share them with you all here will be of benefit to you that read these blog posts. I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share my life with you and I look forward to the path that we will all walk together as we grow and develop the relationships and our community here on The Brink of Freedom. Stay tuned.
  4. Evan Folds

    The Food Movement

    “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health. And are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry Growing a garden and taking control of your own personal agriculture might be the most important thing you can do for yourself and for the planet. The way we produce food in the modern world is broken and people are waking up to the shortfalls of our food system and the reality that “food” is being manufactured for profit, not nourishment. Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. According to USDA data, crops such as broccoli and wheat are showing a 50% decline in key nutritional components in the last 50 years. Food system emissions account for up to 29% of the total greenhouse gas emissions and the average meal travels an estimated 1,500 miles to our plates. In fact, the large majority of the supermarket contains food-like substances that should not qualify as food in the first place! People are becoming increasingly aware that using toxic chemicals to grow food makes no sense and are learning and asking the right questions about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and other risky conventional methods of agriculture. The reality is that eating is an agricultural act and we vote for what we want offered in our food system with every bite that we take. The single most potent tool towards making sense of our food system is for every single eater out there to start a food garden. It doesn’t matter if it is in the front yard, in your closet or a container on the balcony, growing our own food needs to become the rallying cry of the day. Let’s call it The Food Movement, with the focus to grow healthy people, plants and planet. Even if it is a single tomato plant on the deck, the principle of growing something that you eat is therapeutic and rewarding. Growing a garden is easy to do, but most don’t get started for fear of “screwing it up”. Am I starting the seeds correctly? How do I know when and what to grow? Should I use conventional or organic fertilizer? The questions become overwhelming and can never end. The fun irony of this sentiment and the secret to learning to grow an amazing garden is in the perspective you hold in your approach and the making of mistakes. Often times it is the “mistakes” that result in the greatest yields! Remember that plants want to grow. Our job is to nurture the natural systems at hand to get the most out of the garden. A perfect example of this is to consider the living microorganisms that live in your soil that make up what is called the “soil food web”. Just like in the ocean, the soil is comprised of varying trophic levels of life. The smallest organisms are called bacteria and they perform the role of the plankton of the soil. They are prey for the higher organisms called fungi, protozoa and nematodes. The importance of this soil food web cannot be overstated, imagine you took the plankton out of the ocean? In concert with plants that feed them through their roots, microbes make soil. It is the responsibility of these microbes to self-organize into a system of symbiosis with surrounding plants to help them eat, protect them from disease, and recycle organic matter into perfect plant food. Consider that, in the forest, the trees don’t eat the leaves that fall, but what the microbes make of them. This is what we call “composting”. It should be happening everywhere, not just in the compost bin. In keeping with the forest analogy, consider that the forest grows trees without any fertilizer. The reason is that the soil is at least 100 years biologically mature and the soil has never been killed through development or use of toxic artificial biocides and fertilizer. In short, the more biologically active the soil, the less we are required to fertilize. It is not possible to fertilize your soil into health. Fertilizer is a crutch. In fact, if you are using artificial fertilizer you are taking advantage of your soil. It’s really no different than fast food for plants, and we all know what happens when we eat fast food for every meal. The most potent way to grow your soil is brewing compost tea. Compost tea is a concentration of compost created by aerating water and presenting microbes from good compost with organic fertilizers; such as molasses, fish, kelp, etc. In the presence of air and food, the microbes grow to extraordinary concentrations. Compost tea is very easy to make and can be brewed using your own compost, as long as you properly inoculate the pile with a broad diversity of microbes. Unfortunately, soil in the average landscape has been significantly disturbed through development and chemical abuse, so it cannot be taken for granted. Microbes move micrometers in their lifetimes, they don’t jump over the fence. So if they are not deliberately added, most times they are not present. On the positive side, this helps explain many of the typical gardening issues you may encounter with pests and disease. A healthy garden self-regulates, it checks pests and disease with beneficial bugs and microbes. The truth is that growing a garden should always get better with time. It is only when we use an artificial approach when this is not true. So our goal should be to grow our soil, not our plants. Remember that the only true metric for success is the quality and yield of your plants. The healthier perspective you hold towards living systems the healthier your garden will be. What you think, you grow. The post "The Food Movement" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  5. Rob Kaiser

    Organic / Local / Nutrition / Community

    First and foremost, let me just say that I am not a nutritional expert. I'm an average person that has spent the last several years of my life learning about health and wellness. While I have a background in horticulture, much of my plant knowledge is based on old-school ornamental landscape plants. My interest in organic plants began several years ago and really took off when my parents decided to make a lifestyle change in their 60's with the purchase of 20 acres in rural Ohio and a dream to start farming. This transition that my parents made helped kick-start the interest in organic gardening that was already in its infancy at that time. Prior to their move to become farmers, I was working as an apprentice at a local farm in North Carolina learning different organic farming methods. By this time, organic foods had become mainstream enough that most of us have come to understand that McDonald's is bad and vegetables are good. Moreover, organic vegetables were better. This is *almost* common knowledge. There is still much work to be done here. However, those of us who are "in the know" also understand that while organic is good...local is better. There's been a movement over the past few years to "think global and buy local." If you were to make a trip to your local Whole Foods or specialty store and get chatty with one of the people buying organic vegetables, they would most certainly agree with you that organic is better than conventionally grown vegetables and that locally grown vegetables are better than organically grown vegetables (shipped in from somewhere). While most of us can agree on these principles...I'd like to share with you my opinion on why this is - from a nutritional standpoint. While organic vegetables are good due to the fact that no "chemicals" are used - the reality is that many organic farms are little more than large-scale farms that also are capable of depleting the soil of nutrients. When this occurs, you can end up with a fruit or vegetable that looks good - but doesn't really have a substantial edge with regard to the nutritional value it provides. When you buy local...especially from your farmer's markets - the likelihood of your fruits and vegetables having a greater nutritional value is much higher. This is partially due to the fact that many small-scale farmers utilize farming practices that are considerably less detrimental to the soil. More often than not, they are not using industrial farming equipment to cultivate and harvest their crops and the diversity of the varieties of plants grown are higher and, quite often, tailored to the area in which you are living; unless your farmers' market has farmers that are buying and shipping in produce from other parts of the state...which is increasingly a common practice. So...while, "buy fresh, buy local" is better than "supermarket organic" - there is an even better way to approach your farmers' markets, if you have the time and feel so inclined. When you purchase food from your local farmers - ask them if you can stop by their farm sometime and visit. This is a great way to see the way your food is grown and gives you an opportunity to see the actual soil from where it comes from. Often times, farmers welcome people to come over and visit their farm operations. Sometimes, they have an "open door" policy and you can simply drop by any time, but other farmers prefer stopping by on certain days of the week due to family, work, or perhaps other obligations and/or legal reasons. Be respectful of your farmer and the manner in which he or she operates the farm. Be wary of the farmer who is not welcoming of people visiting their farm...chances are, there is a reason that they may not want you visiting their farm. This is not necessarily an indicator of poor farming practices, but it could be. For example, my parents don't subscribe to the "open door" policy of farming yet, because we are a new farm and still trying to "figure things out." The reality is that we're learning and a little self-conscious of our mistakes. The bottom line is that, chances are, food purchased from your local farmers' market has a higher nutritional value than organic food purchased at the supermarket. Moreover, if you can visit your local farmer and take a tour of the farm where your food comes from, then you build a relationship with the one that grows your food. Not only do you ensure that your food has good nutritional content as well - but you ensure that your life has good substance as well. Good food from good communities. Resistance is fertile.