Eric Garza

Musings on food, energy and adaptation

The Wheel

WheelAlas, I have finally returned to the blogosphere after polishing off two of my fall classes. I teach food system courses at the University of Vermont, and this fall taught Barriers to Local Food and The Real Cost of Food. I posted final grades for both courses at the end of last week, so now I’m a free man again… sort of. The two sections of Agriculture and Energy that I’m teaching for Green Mountain College’s online Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program are heading into their home stretch, and that course will finish up on December 22. Then I’ll really be a free man… until classes at UVM start up again in mid-January. Read more…

Thinking of plants

Poison IvyYears ago, while walking north along a trail not far from my home, something drew my attention to the carpet of green on my right. Knowing the area was littered with wild strawberries I scanned the ground hoping perhaps I’d glimpsed a ripe berry in my peripheral vision. Rather than finding tasty edibles, I instead found a plant I knew all too well. As I knelt a safe distance from a sizable patch of poison ivy, this plant, one that had been the bane of my existence all of my life, that had even sent me to the hospital on one occasion, offered me an invitation that would change my life. Read more…

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…