Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Every town needs a fucking wall...

Ya(y) for throwing more information into my lap. So I've been on a frizzie hair hunt looking for info on fruit and their energy input/out put. I unfortunately don't have funky diagrams yet but I do have tons of points of view and websites to back them up.

1. Emailed the gentlemen who started the Falling Fruit. Haven't heard back from them. One of their emails bounced. This interactive mapping system of the fruits in the area is quite nice. The program, platial the people's atlas, allows people to coll
aboratively map what ever they want to. Also, to make a map one has to create a profile and then can "friend" other map makers. Sound familiar? Social interactions through making marks. Another tid bit about this program is that you can have it map your friendster and facebook friends. On facebook, it maps your photo albums. Not too different from what flickr does.

2. It's a la mode to eat and shop locally, especially for food. Now what about organic and certified organic farms? Doesn't it take more energy to ship the organic apples from some New York farm to Southern California while there are apples being grown h
ere?How does this attribute to our personal carbon footprints?

This profiling exercise has brought me to this point. Starting out with nutrition, I have expanded to the energies that they take to produce Books like
Eat Here by Brian Halweil explains this in a friendly fashion. In the book he explains that the current system trades labor costs for transportation costs. Find cheap labor on a huge, highly mechanized farm in Mexico and then pay to move the harvest a few thousand miles. He introduces the statistic that people 10% of the calories from eating the food from the total amount of calories required to move the food. A waste of energy?

(Sidenote- I can't help but think about an anecdote Ed Keller brought up in studio that first week of class. If you are reading this Ed please correct it. He was saying how there are Mexican migrant workers that come and work at an onion farm not far from where he resides. The workers receive small pay but double of what they would in Mexico. They move from farm to farm with the seasons. Whose taking more energy? The workers or the food in transportation...?)

Sustainable Table goes into some detail on how the carbon footprint and the food miles start to come into play. The site also has some in depth links to further information:

Because industrial farming draws on the economy of scale, our food is increasingly grown in concentration in specific areas of the country. This is so common that it has shaped much of our country’s geographic identities—the western Plains are wheat country, the Midwest is the Corn Belt—but it has reached extremes. For instance, approximately ninety percent of all the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley.xix

This national-scale system is possible only because it uses large quantities of fossil fuels to transport food products to the consumer. It is now common practice to ship food not just around the country, but around the world. (In 2005, more than $120 billion of agricultural products crossed U.S. borders as imports and exports.)xx As a result, the average American foodstuff travels an estimated 1,500 miles before being consumed.xxi


Another article, Eating Oil by Andy Jones gets into the energy usage versus the food intake. He uses an energy ratio as an indicator of the unsustainability of the contemporary food system. The ratio of energy is the the energy content of a food product (calories) outputs to the energy inputs. The inputs are all the energy consumed in producing, processing, packaging and distributing that product. The energy ratio (energy out/energy in) in agriculture has decreased from being close to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies to less than 1 for most of the food products supplied to consumers in industrialised countries, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, have gradually increased. In the modern high input fruit and vegetable cultivation, the output/ input ratio is between 2 and 0.1. That's one calorie of food energy output requires up to ten calories of energy input.

He continues and suggests three ways to start towards a better system:
a) Voluntary approaches by farmers, the food industry and consumers
b) Increases in environmental taxes
c) Policy and fiscal support for local foods


My personal favorite is the last.

Where was I running with all of this information?
The plan was to make a website/diagram that people could sift through going from fruit/nutrient and shared qualities between them. From there, there would be a connection to a layer of location. This could be attached to a participatory mapping of local farms or Fallen Fruit. People who are growing fruits, lettuce and etc might have a bit and may be some extra and people could by or sell their homegrown. This mapping would also include grocery stores and the fruits they provide for consumer.

See Sketch.

Just to throw this out there, I also found a study about food miles that did not shun food from afar.
Dr Andrea Collins from the Brass waste and resources research center at Cardiff University and Dr Ruth Fairchild, a nutritional analyst at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, say that the food miles concept is too simplistic. Their recent research into the environmental impact of food points towards a more efficient system of "ecological footprint" analysis, measuring a food's impact in "global hectares", the notional land area needed to provide the resources to produce it. The research concluded that only around 2% of the environmental impact of food comes from transporting it from farm to shop on average.

"Our study was to investigate how much impact our food consumption has," says Fairchild. "Most people would be quite surprised that the biggest environmental impact of food is not because of food miles, but because of the processing it goes through."

The research devised three eco-diets. Presented on a sliding scale they only allowed foods with a footprint of less than 0.006 global hectares per kilogramme in the first diet, then 0.004 in the second and finally 0.002. The researchers looked at the footprint of an organic diet versus a non-organic diet and found that switching to organic brought a 22.9% reduction in the food footprint. However, they said these findings were offset somewhat by the 31.2% increase in cost to the consumer. These studies were mainly based on the UK system and economy yet I feel they are quite applicable to the US.



3. Get to the sex already...

So after a discussion with Gregory Thorpe on the whole profiling the fruit and their nutrition, I realized theres a lot more to dig up.
He asked me to review all the other profiles I was looking at and take a step back. Look at the other ones listed below( IE. homeless/signs /restaurants) and find a way to profile them also. By profiling all of these seemingly non congruent topics, a discovery through their juxtaposition of similarities may and can expose itself. Using this method of "mashing up" objects or profile typologies, other situations can come about, possibly even in Jerusalem. Ultimately, we are going to be focusing on the Just Jerusalem competition that MIT is circusing. I will add more to this later. There is a lot of info on it that I have been collecting also. This is when I said "yes I feel this is the method that could lead to some resolution and not just sticking a fucking wall down, unless it is a fucking wall." One track mind ladies and gents. One track mind.

To continue on the fucking wall, Glory Holes have made it into my typologies/profiles that I will be collecting. If you have any hot tip on where I can find these. I wonder if that is a map on Google some where. Hot date at the glory hole, whose (going) down?

Think about it, a wall that could tear a city apart or make them closer than one would normally think...







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