Eric Garza

Musings on food, energy and adaptation

Energy and the future of food

African BushmenThis essay is about food. As human beings, we’re all engaged in a great game wherein we must exert effort to find food, to avoid starvation. If we excel at this game we’re graced with the privilege of survival; we live and grow, we raise children, we perpetuate our species. In general we’re very good at this game, having outrun myriad predators, persevered through floods and droughts, and shivered through many ice ages. As we ease into the 21st century the rules of this game are changing, though. The problems we must overcome procuring food over the next 100 years will differ from those we’ve faced before, both in their complexity and their magnitude. This essay will explore some of those problems, hopefully opening a window through which we might gain a better view of the future of food. Read more…

Genetically modified escalation

Vandana ShivaThis past Sunday, author and activist Vandana Shiva paid my hometown of Burlington, Vermont a visit. She praised Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120), which the state legislature passed earlier this year and the governor promptly signed. I couldn’t attend Shiva’s talk in person but watched a recording, and quickly appreciated why she’s so revered by her supporters: she’s a superb speaker; emphatic, animated, sharp as a razor and fierce in her delivery. Her poise and confidence while standing behind the podium were something to behold. Read more…

I’ve been Pollan-ated…

Michael PollanEach year the University of Vermont chooses a book that all first year undergraduates are expected to read. This year they chose Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, by Michael Pollan, a book I reviewed a while back. If Michael Pollan is anything, he’s certainly an excellent storyteller. As part of the curricula associated with Cooked, several groups teamed up to bring Michael Pollan to campus for a question and answer session and book signing this past Thursday evening, and I was lucky enough to attend the event. Read more…

Equity and access finally on the menu at Farm to Plate

Farm to Plate Network GatheringI spent this past Thursday and Friday attending the 2014 Vermont Farm to Plate Network Gathering, an event organized by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund to bring together people from throughout the Green Mountain State’s food sector. The Farm to Plate Network supports the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative, a statewide push to, among other things, strengthen the state’s economy by expanding its food production, processing and distribution sectors, creating revenue for Vermont businesses and jobs for the state’s residents. My primary connection to the initiative is through the Energy Cross Cutting Team, a group charged with writing a section on energy use in Vermont’s food system for the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. This assignment’s proved a bigger undertaking than we originally anticipated, but we’re plugging away at it. Read more…

Myths and realities of the Paleo Diet

Bison calf suckling its motherThis past Thursday evening I found myself at a local health food store offering a lecture titled The Paleo Diet: Myths and Realities. The Paleo Diet advocates eating like paleolithic peoples supposedly did, avoiding grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars and oils, and processed foods more generally. I say ‘supposedly’ because the diet of people throughout the paleolithic was, if nothing else, variable. While refined sugars, oils and processed foods weren’t on the menu, evidence from fossilized dental plaque suggests grains and legumes very much were [1]. And while pre-agricultural peoples didn’t milk wild animals, when hunters killed lactating females the mammary glands, which contain the makings of milk, were likely consumed along with the rest of the animal. Read more…