VIking-PIrate-NInja-GYpsies. Go ahead, try and find a stereotype for us.

Archive for February, 2012

Open-Source Protein

Many individuals and groups of people around the world are creating, modifying, and improving high efficiency gardening techniques.  We here at Soria Moria are  working on getting a window-garden set up (for herbs and leafy vegetables), and laying out plans for a raised-bed garden outside.  These assorted projects have many goals in mind, but some of the key themes are

– Ecological sustainability

The impact on the environment should be small enough that the ecosystems involved/affected are not permanently or adversely affected

– Economic solvency

The cost to the individual to produce their food should be less than the costs to import/ship the food from the sites of production.

– Robustness

You don’t have to be a doomsday prophet to realize that infrastructure is sometimes disrupted (and the more centralized/hierarchal the infrastructure, the longer the rebound time).  Storms, trade embargoes, war, strikes, and more can affect the flow of food to consumers.

– Health concerns

Currently there are battles being fought against the multinational corporation Monsanto (producer of Agent Orange) for their use of patented genetically-modified crops, and the whole ensuing legal headache that wreaks on individuals and smaller producers.  But even food crops that are not being used to bully individuals in patent litigation are sprayed with pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and preservatives.  Growing food at home or within your community is a way for many to avoid these threats.
Some of these inspiring and promising setups are

Freight Farms
Green Bronx Machine
Sembradores Urbanos

While this is all fantastic, and greatly needed,  man cannot live on leafy-greens alone.  We also need protein.  And if there are ethical problems with plant crops, boy howdy are there problems with meat products.

Raising one’s own animals for meat/eggs, or finding ethical hunters willing to sell their excess meat is not a feasible solution for everyone, especially in urban areas.  So how do we incorporate protein into a high-efficiency production system?  One of the most promising answers to this question is hemp, but due to the smear campaigns in the U.S. during the 1930’s, hemp/cannabis was banned.  Hemp seed is an amazing source of protein, but thanks to the laws enacted/enforced by nation-states at the behest of their corporate bedfellows, most cannot acquire this, or grow it for oneself.
Enter: the Oyster Mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus).  This amazing saprophytic organism contains anywhere from 15-30% protein, a whole load of amino acids, and many other beneficial nutrients besides.

The fine folks at backtotheroots.com sell grow-your-own kits of oyster mushrooms which give several harvests of oyster mushrooms, but more importantly:  They give you a decentralized source of healthy protein.

Let me explain.  A living culture can be used to spawn several other cultures, which can be fed with coffee grounds, food waste, you name it.  Most mushroom growing strategies involve a working knowledge of lab-style sterile work, a squeaky clean grow room, and a tendency towards OCD.  This project will cover the propagation and nurturing of the oyster mushroom culture to produce an amount of protein that satisfies all the points outlined above for vegetable production, in a way that does not require the rigid parameters most often associated with mushroom cultivation.

Updates (with pictures!) to follow

 

Update!  (with pictures)

Click on the photos for more description

Spent coffee grounds
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