|Not a kitchen: beautiful skies over the Woodrow Wilson bridge to Washington, DC.
The highlight of our month of November was a week’s visit for the Thanksgiving holiday.
November in Michigan
|At home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Watering my plants, 2 ice cubes each.
|Three new fridge magnets from our visit to the National Gallery of Art:
Top: Leonardo's Ginevra (1478)
Lower left: Vermeer's A Lady Writing (1665)
Lower right: Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance (1664)
Food at home: rather simple.
|Huevos rancheros with black beans, egg, and yogurt on a tortilla with a bit of chopped cabbage and a lime wedge.
|Len’s treat for breakfast.
|Salad with peanut dressing.
|Israeli Feta Cheese from Trader Joe’s. Thinking of Israel all the time.
In Evelyn and Tom’s Kitchen
Thanksgiving action photos in addition to the many from last week.
“Everyone with unlimited access to some kind of food—the majority of people in this country—takes it for granted. We live five minutes from a banana or a Slurpee or a cheeseburger and we consider that normal, even though everything it takes to bring us those things is part of a deeply flawed and destructive system.” (p. xv)
“Since 1999, humans have far surpassed — by billions of metric tons — the amount of Earth’s resources that scientists estimate we can sustainably use. The culprit: our overconsumption of stuff, from shoddy tools to fast fashion that is trendy one day, trash the next.
“Obsession with the latest tech gadgets drives open pit mining for precious minerals. Demand for rubber continues to decimate rainforests. Turning these and other raw materials into final products releases one-fifth of all carbon emissions.
“The global inequality that benefits some and persists for the many, ensures that some of the poorest people and most vulnerable places bear the social and environmental costs of international trade. Research links demand for goods in Western Europe and the United States to the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in China because of industrial air pollution.” (Source: "The High Stakes of Low Quality," New York Times, Nov. 23, 2023)
The climate crisis is a looming issue that should affect our consumer decisions. According to the Guardian: “The year 2023 will be remembered as a critical year in the escalating extinction, climate and nature emergencies – not least because it looks certain to be the hottest since records began.”Every day the news is full of examples of products we buy and use (or items that are integrated into products we use) that seem innocent, but threaten the environment, the workers, and the civil order of the countries where they are produced. Here’s one example from numerous possible impending disasters: the production of palm oil. An article in the Guardian titled “Deadly harvest: how demand for palm oil is fuelling corruption in Honduras” described how growing and harvesting oil palms creates jobs for desperate workers and high rewards for the rich by destroying the natural forests:
“Palm oil, especially from the oil palm’s fruit, has become an essential export business in Honduras, used in the food industry, in beauty products and as a biofuel. Its low production costs make it a cheap substitute for most oils, such as sunflower and olive, significantly lowering manufacturing costs in global markets.”
Planting of oil palms by small agriculturalists in Honduras destroys stands of essential old-growth mangroves and other trees in areas that the government has set aside as protected national parks. A few rangers are assigned to police millions of acres of parkland, while opportunists are destroying the natural plant life to grow oil palms, and collusion between the rich entrepreneurs and the judicial establishment makes enforcement hopelessly dangerous.
How are Americans like me involved? According to the Guardian article, palm oil accounts for about 40% of global demand for vegetable oil as food, animal feed and fuel — so we are surely using it whether we are aware of it or not — I read the label of a favorite Trader Joe’s cookie, for example, and it contained palm oil!
Globally, oil palm cultivation is endangering wildlife and forests in many other parts of the world, not merely in Honduras. Not to mention that it’s not very healthy to eat foods made with palm oil, which is used in especially large quantities in cheap, highly-processed foods. Honduras is one small example among many producers of the oil, and palm oil is only one of the many destructive products we unthinkingly buy and use.
I feel helpless.
Blog post and photos © 2023 mae sander