Eric Garza

Musings on food, energy and adaptation

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…

Energy, diminishing returns and the future of food

An oil pump at sunsetAs those who’ve followed this blog for a while know, I enjoy writing about food and energy. It all started with Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective, a piece that featured some of the energy audits I’ve done on small scale farms and focused particularly on differences – or lack thereof – in energy input-output ratios between farms that produce vegetables versus those that produce meat. Food and energy posts made up the bulk of earlier blog entries, although for the past couple months I’ve strayed from that topic a bit. Well, ’tis time to return to food and energy.  Read more…

A hunting I will go…

A stone arrowhead for hunting.Alas, time flies and before I know it the beginning of Vermont’s early archery season is nearly upon me. Over the next few weeks I’ll head out to a few different pieces of land in the Champlain Valley, and while I’ll happily take shots at small game animals my primary pursuit will be the whitetail deer. Back in Indiana, where I grew up, deer were so numerous and hunters (and predators more generally) so few that deer had largely lost their fear of people. You could likely walk right up to them. Deer in Vermont are far more skittish, hence the fact that in the seven years I’ve been hunting in this state I have yet to tag one with archery gear. Read more…