Plants Are Dope Link Roundup 11/29/19

While foraging is a basic part of human nature, it has mostly been superseded by other food sources in the built environment. Modern agriculture systems and supply chains put practically any food you want just a grocery store away, so who needs to know if that tree on the corner has something tasty to share? Still, there’s plenty of food growing in cities—berries, apples, citrus, leafy greens, and more, depending on where you live and the time of year. And despite some online tools and awareness efforts that aim to boost the popularity of urban foraging, your average eater has yet to go picking.

I’m a wannabe forager. Aside from eating a few stray raspberries I encountered while walking in St. Paul and some lychees growing in someone’s yard in Tampa, I really haven’t foraged. 2020 will be my year for foraging! Thank you to Karen Loew and CityLab for shining a spotlight on urban foraging tools.

Rob Greenfield is a man on many missions. He has biked barefoot across the country on a bicycle made out of bamboo, he lived a year without showering to promote water conservation, and most recently, he has been putting down deep roots (literally and figuratively) in Orlando, Florida.

This time around, it’s an experiment in extreme sustainability; specifically, committing to only eating foods he grows himself or forages in the wild for an entire year.

Speaking of foraging, how inspiring is this?! After reading about Rob Greenfield on the Mother Nature Network (and later, on Modern Farmer), I devoured pretty much everything on his website.

Rob seems like the epitome of someone who listens to that little voice inside them regardless of how offbeat it might seem to the world. I try to listen that voice. I live car-free. I am vegan. Those lifestyle choices are a result of me trying to live in line with my values even though it goes against the mainstream. But I feel like I’m only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I could do, and learning about Rob Greenfield’s life really makes me want to think radically differently in terms of how I could live. So, stay tuned, world!

A bunch of neighbors were sitting around the other night, talking yard work, and the conversation returned to a frequent target: a certain ex-neighbor, now long gone, who was unduly fond of his leaf blower. This is a familiar tale, how he tormented the block every autumn weekend chasing leaves around his small yard with his shrieking machine, leaving behind the lingering stench of gasoline fumes and resentment. I never met this fellow—he moved out before I moved in—but his legacy is secure: He is The Asshole With the Leaf Blower.

This CityLab article is two years old, but it’s new to me. David Dudley lays out the reasons leaf blowers are awful and makes a pretty good case.

I’m comfortable talking to plants, but I’m not sure if I could do so through a microphone in front of a bunch of seminarians, as a student at Union Theological Seminary is doing in a photo tweeted out Tuesday by the seminary’s account.

“Christian Twitter” is always on fire about something, and today that tweet was its sacrificial fuel. Detractors saw in it everything from idolatry to New Age nonsense to an opportunity for jokes about “VeggieTales” and church plants.

But beneath the very human tendency to jump on the virtual bandwagon, I think there is a pressing question that many Christians and people of no faith are grappling with: What is our moral responsibility to nonhuman life-forms? If we can sin against the natural world, how do we name and atone for that sin?

Progressive seminary students confessed to plants, as reported by Veery Huleatt in The Washington Post. It was part of a service focused on climate change. The Christian Post also reported on the mocking they received.

Many once thought that mushrooms spread by passively dropping their spores, after which the reproductive packets would hopefully get picked up by a gust of wind, and carried thither and yon.

But new research shows mushrooms take a more active role in spreading their seed: They “make wind” to carry their spores about, said UCLA researcher Marcus Roper.

This article is from 2013, and I know mushrooms are technically fungi, not plants, but c’mon. Mushrooms create their own wind in order to spread their spores? How wonderful is this?!

For the past year, I’ve used a phone app called 72 Seasons to help me see more subtle seasonal changes beyond the basic winter, spring, summer, fall. The app follows an ancient Japanese calendar that recognizes 24 sekki, 15-day seasons, further divided into 72 specific seasonal shifts. Every five days, the app updates me with poetic precision on the changes I could be noticing around me.

A calendar of 72 seasons makes sense for a culture steeped in seasonality and respect for nature. Why limit ourselves to only four when seasonal shifts are constantly occurring, from the way light shines on a mountain in April to the feel of morning air in the second week of September? Of course, a single calendar can’t predict changes and dates everywhere in the world. But the point is that microseasonal shifts happen no matter where you live. By being reminded to watch for them and even to name them, we can train ourselves to live in tune with them. 

Since leaving sunny Florida, I’ve been much more attuned to the weather. Yes, Tampa has seasons. There are a couple months each year where I wore pants instead of dresses, and then a few months where I wouldn’t dare leave home without an umbrella. But the seasonal changes felt much milder than those here in Minnesota.

I’m glad Tracey Matsue Loeffelholz wrote about the 72-season calendar for Yes! Magazine. I hadn’t heard of the concept, but it makes so much sense. When fall began in Minnesota, I watched the leaves gradually change color. When the week came that the bright colors fell, and then shortly after, snow arrived, it was hard to wrap my mind around the idea that it was still “fall.”

“As a young person, it never occurred to me that you could be a black farmer, which is sad because my grandmother was a gardener and a homesteader,” said Cameron. Her family moved north and separated from the land during the 1970s. When she returned to the South as an adult — moving first to Virginia and then eventually further south around a decade ago — she felt like she was coming home: “It has been very healing.”

…Black farmers in the U.S. lost 80% of their land between 1910 and 2007, according to an April report from the think tank Center for American Progress. A big part of the loss, according to the report, can be attributed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s refusal to provide loans as part of a “long and well-documented history of discrimination against black farmers.”

Marissa Evans writes about how reparations could help black farmers for HuffPost. I’ve been in favor of reparations for many years, but it just crossed my mind now that I should begin calling my representatives and telling them as much.

The goal of Bad Vegan is spread across four fields — change the rhetoric around veganism, shift the perception of veganism from a niche group of hippies and protesters to something more applicable to our generation, change the food industry and change the world. 

Edmonds discussed the goals of the organization and defined the Bad Vegan lifestyle. She explained how the concept of bad veganism is centered around the idea that no matter what your effort is, it counts. You don’t have to be the perfect vegan — you just have to do your best. 

The Bad Vegan organization sounds like a good move. Read the full article by Sadie Goodman in The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s newspaper.

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