The Reductionist Trap   20 comments

An entry in How To Be Poor

One of the primary troubles with living well in a time of peak oil and deindustrialization is the tendency in our society to think in reductionist patterns rather than within the context of whole systems. Reductionist patterns of thinking have often—though certainly not always—served well within the context of industrialization and, as such, they’ve become one of the more dominant tendencies of our time. When faced with problems or predicaments, we often devolve into arguing over the details in an attempt to build a perfect response to the problem at hand. Seeing a list of troubled variables, we focus on them one by one (or simply focus on one of them at the expense of all the others) and attempt to mold said variable more to our liking. But in doing this, we too often ignore the effects such moldings will have on the other variables affected within the system and it’s there that we run into trouble.

As a prime example, let’s consider the question of how to eat well in a world with diminishing energy and resources, fraught with economic contraction and ecological destruction. Some years ago, I took a college class in sustainability and, to this day, I remember particularly some of the discussion around what sort of diet we may be able to provide the population in a world seriously lacking in fossil fuels and more focused on sustainability. The problem was defined largely as thus: we will need to feed somewhere between seven and nine billion people without destroying the environment and with reduced energy availability, so how shall we do that? The solution, as it turns out, was a textbook response in reductionist thinking.

The solution proffered, in vague and general terms, was that the world’s population would have to shift to eating mostly a plant-based diet. Prime farmland would be used for growing staple grains for human consumption, rather than animal consumption, and the eating of animal protein would drop dramatically. It would not be eliminated, though. Certain range lands that would prove inadequate for growing staple crops or fresh vegetables—due to poor soil and a lack of water—could be used as grazing lands for cattle. That would be the main source of meat for the world’s hungry mouths, and it would come more in the form of ground beef than steaks, because the range lands wouldn’t provide for nice, juicy cuts. (Yes, I specifically remember that point being made, which even at the time seemed strange to me.)

You can clearly see the reductionist thinking behind this solution. It boils down to a few variables: the number of mouths to feed, the amount of land available for farming, and how we might maximize that land to provide a certain number of calories per mouth. That was the entirety of the approach to the question of how to feed the world. It took an entire planet, reduced the uncountable number of ecosystems down to one large number accounting for the world’s arable acreage, and started making calorie calculations of staple grains, perhaps of mixed-crop rotations. You can see this sort of reductionist pattern in other approaches to sustainability issues. There’s no shortage of people concerned about fossil fuel energy who will comment on the amount of solar energy that falls on this planet in any given day, the conversion efficiency of the latest solar panel technology, and from there whip up a quick calculation to note how many acres of the world’s land we simple need to cover in solar panels to start generating all our electrical needs from the sun. If you really want to get fancy, you can throw in climate variables, ideal sitings of the aforementioned solar panels, and so on.

This is reductionism run amok and it’s a particularly unhelpful way to grapple with our future. The simple reality is that being a reductionist in the deindustrializing future is not going to pay the same sorts of dividends as it has in the industrialized past. Going forward, we’re going to be losing our access to the sort of energy and resource reserves that have allowed us to consistently approach our problems with reductionist methods, and that reality is going to leave us more at the mercy of whole systems than we have been. Or, more specifically, we’ll continue to be at the mercy of whole systems, as we always have been, but our ability to create problems one variable at a time is going to go away.

That last sentence might be a bit obtuse, so let me better explain. In Wendell Berry’s fantastic essay, “Solving for Pattern,” [pdf] he notes that attempts to solve problems on a variable by variable basis tend to cause “a ramifying series of new problems, the only limiting criterion being, apparently, that the new problems should arise beyond the purview of the expertise that produced the solution—as, in agriculture, industrial solutions to the problem of production have invariably caused problems of maintenance, conservation, economics, community health, etc., etc.” (p. 135 in The Gift of Good Land.) For instance, in attempts to create better economies of scale for raising livestock, an industrial solution has been to take cattle off pasture and put them in feed lots. Setting aside the question of whether or not this was a “problem” that needed solving (that set aside answer, by the way, is “no”) this caused a number of new problems. Placed in a confined environment, fed a diet unnaturally heavy on grain, and left too often to mill about in massive amounts of their own manure, the cattle begin to experience poor health. With a reductionist focus on the problem of poor health, divorced from considerations of changing the root cause of it, the reductionist solution was to provide steady doses of antibiotics to the cattle. This creates a host of new problems—increased costs for the farmer, the eventual evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes, and so on—which are then either ignored or dealt with in the same reductionist manner, which then creates still new problems. And, of course, that’s just one path of problems. There’s a number of other paths meandering off from the decision to confine cattle, from the problem of waste disposal, the need for imported feed, the heavy environmental costs of ignoring the land’s carrying capacity, the overproduction of meat, the declining health value of the resultant meat, the abuse of animals, the centralization of agricultural production, the resulting economic impacts, and yet more. It spirals out everywhere—confined animal feeding operations lead to industrial-scale slaughterhouses that horrifically abuse both animals and humans, an industrial form of grain production arises to feed the CAFOs, which abuses and degrades the land, which in turn abuses and degrades farmers, which in turn abuses and degrades rural communities and economies, which in turn abuses and degrades urban communities and economies. In our blind focus on variables, we tend to degrade and oftentimes destroy the entire system.

Yet, as Berry argues in his essay, there are more elegant ways of solving our problems, and those tend to be rooted in whole systems thinking. He notes that such solutions that take into account the health of a system, rather than focusing exclusively on independent variables, cause “a ramifying series of solutions—as when meat animals are fed on the farm where the feed is raised, and where the feed is raised to be fed to the animals that are on the farm” (p. 137.) In solving for pattern—engaging in whole systems thinking, in other words—one often can discover solutions that nestle within one another, increasing the strength of the entire system and restoring much of its health. If there is a problem of poor health with animals in a CAFO, then perhaps eliminating the CAFO and returning the animals to pasture is a holistic response to the problem rather than in attempting to control the illness without confronting the source of the illness. In returning the animals to pasture, we will necessarily have to reduce the number of animals to the point that the land’s carrying capacity is not exceeded. In scaling back the number of animals being raised for meat, we help to reduce the problem of over-consumption of meat and offer opportunities for more balanced ways of eating. In doing so, we are reducing the impact on the environment and the ecological destruction that so easily arises from CAFOs. Further, we decentralize our agricultural system, providing the opportunity for more people to make a living farming, which then provides for the reemergence of healthy rural economies and communities, which then benefits the health of urban economies and communities.

This is not the end of the story, though, and neither are those final few sentences a resolution to the issue of eating sustainably. Let’s go back to the reductionist solutions proffered to the question of how to feed the world’s population. It seems to make sense that if the world’s population subsisted on a diet lower on the food chain, then less energy will be required to feed the world. And indeed, you can consistently find arguments in support of vegetarianism as an appropriate response to ecological destruction and unsustainable ways of living. We are reminded again and again that eating animals is eating higher on the food chain and that, therefore, every calorie taken in is necessarily the result of a greater number of calories of energy expended than if we had taken in a calorie of plant food.

I obviously don’t dispute the simple fact that one calorie of animal protein is the result of multiple calories of plant protein. It follows that to eat the calorie of plant protein requires less calories taken out of the system as a whole. That’s logical enough, and just because it’s rooted in a certain reductionism doesn’t make it untrue. (Reductionism does have its uses, after all.) However, how one plant or one animal calorie gets to my mouth is dependent on a wide variety of variables, so each calorie is not made the same. The whole system of food arriving in my stomach contains a number of variables beyond simply what segment of the food chain it came from.

In this sense, the question of diet has to be considered in a whole systems context, rather than a reductionist context. I already argued this point to a degree in an earlier post in this series, There are No Vegetarians in a Famine, but if we’re going to grapple honestly with the question of what’s the most sustainable and coherent way to eat, it’s going to involve a lot of consideration of personal context, local landscape, and the local ecology. How does killing and eating a local wild animals compare to eating locally raised beef that lived on pasture? How do those options compare to beef from the industrial agriculture system? And how does all that compare to eating organic staple grains from a monoculture operation in California or Canada or the Midwest? What about conventional staple grains? Or how about an array of locally grown, organic vegetables? An intensive organic vegetable operation, a permaculture homestead, a mixed-crop and animal rotational system? The question of which of these foods or methods of production are most sustainable are rooted in locality and each individual person, as is the question of the health and satisfaction of a particular diet.

The trouble with using reductionist thinking to come up with a solution of staple grains and range land beef is that it presupposes a number of other variables that may or may not be viable in a deindustrializing future. The number of calories of energy it takes to produce a calorie of beef is usually calculated based on industrial agriculture rooted in the feed lot system. How does that compare to small, local farms utilizing a rotational grazing system and not feeding their cattle grain? The number of calories necessary to produce a calorie of soy or corn or oat or wheat is dependent on the way those plants were grown, what seed was used, what pesticides and fertilizers were or were not used, where it was grown, where it’s being consumed, and perhaps even on whether or not a person feels more satiated on an equivalent number of calories of grain versus meat or any other type of food (assuming the person in question has options, which is not an assumption that can be blithely made in a deindustrializing future.) Most of these examinations of the most sustainable ways to eat are rooted in assumptions of industrial agriculture, as well as in assumptions that we can just pick and choose our diet without concern for our local realities. All of those are also assumptions that cannot be blithely made in a deindustrializing future. We don’t know if the future will allow us centralized forms of agriculture that can create a somewhat consistent diet for the world at large. I would argue that it won’t. A sustainable diet in the future may boil down to what’s produced locally, and that will vary widely if local production is rooted in natural systems, on-site recycling of nutrients and no or little more energy than is provided by the sun that falls on the land. In such a system, you’re a lot more likely to find systems of food production that utilize a mix of locally-appropriate annual and perennial crops along with various types of livestock. That’s one of our better approximations of a natural ecosystem, and the natural ecosystem is the model that we’re going to have to use if excess energy becomes scarce.

This brings me to a question I’ve been considering of late, which is how I might eat locally and sustainably, with the least amount of money. It’s a question rooted in my attempts at voluntary poverty, my concern for the health of our world, and my desire for a graceful and sustainable future. The best solution I can come up with is not one that’s overly concerned about the food chain, but one that’s overly concerned with my particular context. It seems to me that the best way I could eat would be a diet that focused primarily on locally-grown, organic vegetables, berries and fruit, both from my own garden and from local, small-scale farms; pasture-raised meat from the two small farms I currently work as a farm hand for; my local source of raw milk, which I can also make butter, yogurt, and cheese from; chicken and duck eggs from local sources; some organic staple grains from the local grocery, including wheat from which I can bake my own bread; and some trade at the farmers market for other items, such as honey, fruit, cheese, and perhaps some baked goods. My diet already is partially made up of these particulars, but I have yet to embrace it completely.

The benefits of this diet are multiple. For starters, it’s enjoyable and healthy. It’s a diet I would and do take pleasure in. It strikes me as sustainable in the sense that it is focused mostly on food grown and raised within a radius of 15 miles of where I live, and it’s food raised well, food the production of which I know intimately. It’s whole food, and thus it eliminates much of the cost in energy, resources and money of processing, and greatly reduces packaging. It’s also resilient in that most of it is not as reliant on long supply chains as the food in the grocery store is (though there is still reliance—all the local farms I know of use at least some inputs, though nothing like what industrial agriculture uses.) It strengthens the community by supporting local farms and farmers and it even strengthens my own work, as two of those local farms employ me. Relatedly, I can reduce my need for cash by gaining a good amount of that food via work-trade or other forms of trade. Furthermore, this diet solidifies relationships, care, and good work. It is inherently of my context, completely unique to me. I think that’s important.

I’m not saying this is the perfect diet. And there may be a diet available to me that overall uses less energy and is a bit kinder to the environment, in certain ways. But this strikes me as a uniquely good diet for me, rooted in the consideration of the entire system in which I live and from which I gain my sustenance. Furthermore, this strikes me as a particularly resilient diet in the face of an uncertain future, and that’s of the utmost importance. Perhaps just as importantly, this is a diet that works with and largely accepts my local limitations, rather than resorting to the blunt attempts at control that so often underlie reductionist thinking.

In fact, the resilience of this diet, the idea of resiliency in general, the folly of strained attempts at control in a deindustrializing future, and the necessities for engagement with community are all important considerations of both reductionism and whole systems thinking—as well as voluntary poverty and any response to a post-peak oil world—and those are the topics about which I’ll be writing in the next entry in How To Be Poor.


20 responses to “The Reductionist Trap

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Good piece, good thinking.

  2. And of course, trying to get the perfect diet is itself reductionist. It seems to me like what you have is good enough for now and you can move on to adding resilience to other areas of your life.

    • Oh, indeed, my diet seems to be on solid footing. I’m not really obsessing over it, though, so much as my work and areas of interest often bring me back to examples rooted in food and agriculture (though I guess you could say that’s a certain kind of obsession.) Not to mention, I can better control it than other areas of my life, which makes it easier to experiment with. Another subject I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, though, is that of transportation. Maybe I’ll write more about that in the next post.

    • Come to think of it, cooking fuel’s another element I’ve been thinking about lately. Perhaps that, too, will find its way into the next post.

  3. Thanks for the article. Your exploration of Berry’s essay and the theme of reductionism reminds me of a passage from Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution (which contains a foreword by Wendell Berry):

    “I believe that even “returning to nature” and anti-pollution activities, no matter how commendable, are not moving toward a genuine solution if they are carried out solely in reaction to the overdevelopment of the present age.” (P. 21)

    It seems that the hole we’re so good at digging is getting deeper and more unstable. Perhaps we should stop and reflect on why we’re in the hole in the first place!

    • Thanks, Isaac! I loved One Straw Revolution, though it’s been a few years since I read it, so I’m a little fuzzy on the memory. Maybe I should give it a second reading.

      Stopping and reflecting would do our society a world of good. Sadly, we don’t seem that good at it. I think part of it’s ingrained in the culture, in the way we live our lives separate from the natural rhythm of the seasons. Perhaps we all just need to spend a little more time with scythes.

  4. Well, you know what the author Michael Palin states: “Eat food, not to much, mostly plants.” By “eat food…”, for the uninitiated, Mr. Palin means eat things that you’re grandmother (or, great-grandmother) would recognize as food.

    Me, I don’t eat much meat. Partly due to economics, partly for health reasons. But I don’t obsess about it. Some friends recently gave me some nice Elk. It was really good, but I had a hard time digesting it. The old system just isn’t used to such dense proteins, anymore.

    I read somewhere that classic Asian cuisines use meat more as a condiment. Not so much a main dish. I think it’s pretty well accepted that Asian diets are generally more healthy than Western diets. Heart disease, cancers, diabetes and being overweight aren’t such a problem in Asia. At least not yet. Those things are becoming a problem due to the adoption of a more Western diet.

    You touched on how difficult it is to break old food habits. Even though I eat pretty healthy, a lot of it is store bought. A small orchard of different kinds of fruit right across the road from me pretty much went to waste last year. Better prepared for that not to happen next year. I managed to harvest quit a few apples off my trees and lots of blackberries went into the freezer. I try and look at what I buy pretty regularly, that I can grow myself. Lettuce and garlic are on the list. Eggs? I’m going to attempt a small flock of chickens this year.

    PS: Saw you’re post over at the Arch Druid Report. That one paragraph about getting along with folks in the country was just about perfect. When to keep you’re head down and your opinions to yourself and when to engage. The couple I’m closest too, there are just some things we don’t talk about. Going to be farm sitting their place, again, starting on the 12th. For 8 days. Not as many goats this time, and none on the bottle. One fewer spoiled dog 🙂 . Will run home every two days to feed my dog and cat. Hauling along mulch and manure for my garden.

    • Ahh yes, Pollan’s advice is indeed good. I probably eat more meat than he recommends, but I feel pretty good about how it comes to me, so I don’t worry too much about it. I still eat a fair amount less than the average American, thankfully.

      I had some elk liver last year at one of the farms I work for. It was from an elk fresh killed that morning and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, might’ve been the first and only liver I ever ate, though I wouldn’t swear by that. I keep meaning to try some of the lamb and beef liver from the farms I work for. I know it’s incredibly good for you, and it’s a cheap cut as well.

      It’s hard to get away from the convenience of the store. I still do it myself, though I’ve cut back. I keep meaning to get a steady supply of home-baked sandwich bread going, but I always seem to end up picking up a loaf or two of Gabriel’s when I’m in Portland. It’s a local bakery there and I just love that stuff. And I have yet to have great luck making good sandwich bread at home, though I really haven’t tried that hard yet. I’ll get it eventually.

      Definitely get on that orchard this year, and use those blackberries again. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of my blackberry jam and apple butter. The apple butter’s been going into oatmeal of late, along with some honey from the farmer’s market, a big pat of butter and some raw milk. Makes for a heck of a good breakfast for when I’m not eating my usual two eggs and toast.

      I’ll be interested in hearing how the chicken flock goes. Just make sure you have a good set up to keep them safe! The chickens are getting taken out left and right over this way, which seems to be typical this time of year. Raccoons took out all but one at one of the farms I work for, and they got a bunch at a friend’s place, too. The other day while I was working at my other farm hand job, one of the layers was killed by a hawk in the middle of the afternoon. Not sure why she didn’t get under cover–maybe she just wasn’t paying attention.

      Yeah, it’s been interesting getting the feel for communication out here. It’s still pretty liberal, but there are certainly some more conservative-minded folk out this way, and at least one of my employers seems to skew more conservative in certain regards, though he’s one of the least judgmental people I’ve ever met. We’ve had some interesting conversations about politics. Heck, I’ve even told him I don’t think too brightly about our future, and he hardly blinks an eye, though I don’t know that he would necessarily agree with me fully. Anyway, it’s kind of fascinating to figure out how to talk to people and how to connect even when you’re thinking different things.

      Let me know how the farm sitting goes! Glad you don’t have any bottle feeding to do, and that there’s one less dog to deal with. As for the mulch and manure–that’s a fine trade right there. I wonder how long until soil amendments are considered about as valuable as gold?

  5. Brilliant essay! Curious if you’ve heard any of Shawn Croxton’s interviews with Joel Salatin (poly-face farms)? Lots of parallels…

    Your thinking is spot on w reductionism vs. whole-ism… If we ever get to have that cup of coffee in Portland, I’ll walk through all of where I see it in the energy biz :). I’m doing what I can to counter…


    • Hey Dan! Nope, I haven’t heard those interviews at all. I certainly know of Salatin, but even at that I really have only heard a few snippets of interviews with him. I’ll have to try to look these up.

      Yes, let’s do that cup of coffee. I still haven’t even been in since I think you last mentioned it. I’ll be in town a bit past the middle of February, but I haven’t solidified the number of days and I don’t know if I’m going to have much free time or not–but hopefully! I’ll keep you posted. Would love to hear your thoughts.

      I’ll be working the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market from 10am-2pm tomorrow (Sunday.) I don’t know that you’re anywhere near there or would have the time, but feel free to stop by and say hi. I’m at the Meadow Harvest booth.

      • Hey Joel, I totally missed this…let me know next time your in working the Hillsdale market and I’ll swing over for sure. We live in Belmont right now, but my wife is considering going to Oregon Massage School on Barbur and we love the Food Front in Hillsdale, so we’re thinking of moving over that way…would be a short bike ride into my office form there too 🙂

        • Hey Dan,

          I should be at the market this Sunday. I also am going to be in Portland for a good stretch in early April, I believe from the 3rd through the 15th. And for at least part of that time, I should be staying in SE, so not far from where you are. Let’s see about getting coffee or a beer at some point during that time period, if it works for you.

          • Sounds great Joel. If we’re out your way on Sinday we’ll stop in, otherwise stay in touch for April… Loved your last essay BTW – glad you found Abbey, he’s a gem…will share some stories about our wanderings through AZ and NM…

  6. what you eat really is probably the most important aspect of right living these days IMO. More so than the past I think due to the nature of CAFO’s and big ag in general. Also with respect to health what you eat is the most important thing. It seems to me that the issue of food and food production is the most important issue facing man right now. Not to be a reductionist thinker, or to present a reductionist solution, but i’m just saying that this is an issue in which you can be empowered. An issue where your actions can make an impact and where you can be an example. The Matrix has largely removed all meaningful activity for us, but in this one we still have power. It just has to be made a priority. The American Hologram does not respect whole system thinking. It does not care about solutions to any problem other than the problem of profit maximization.

    Kudos to you Joel for doing what you are doing. It’s my opinion that there isn’t much more quality of action than can be practiced with all things food. By the way, not to be impolite, but it’s Michael Pollan. Palin was that airhead that built the bridge to nowhere in Alaska and thought she had a chance at being the first female president.

    Hope you’ve had a blessed Imbolc.

    • Agreed, Aaron. The way food gets to us these days is often horrific, just beyond what it seems to have ever been before industrialization, so I think there’s a lot of moral responsibility there. That said, I still eat hamburgers at bars on occasion, and while sometimes those actually are sourced okay (if I’m in Portland) it’s usually out of the Sysco supply chain.

      Food is amazing to me. Obviously, it’s one of my main interests. I use it continually for examples and it’s what my work’s rooted in. But I was thinking about this today in regards to some of the comments over at JMGs about relocalization and community, and I just love that food has taken the lead role in that. For one thing, it’s perfectly natural–it’s one of the most basic supports of a local economy and community, it’s universally needed, and it’s just one of the most elemental aspects of being human. But it also just makes sense to build from. You start from food. Of course you would. And we never completely gave away the food system, close as it’s gotten. Gardening has always been one of the most common past times.

      The thing that I think is really hopeful about food being at the center of relocalization is that it’s an issue that can connect people across their political and ideological divides. You get liberals and conservatives and people in between and on either side and somewhere off in the ether who all give a damn about where their food comes from and think it’s important. And you can connect with them on that and start to understand that even if you have different opinions about a variety of issues, you’re still both human beings, and neither of you is evil. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I certainly have seen that process, and been a part of it, too. I think that’s good and important, because getting past those divides is going to be one of the main challenges with rebuilding communities until—as noted over at TAR in the comments—the necessity of survival shows stark the pettiness of many of these divisions.

      Yeah, food’s going to be one of the biggest focal points. It’s a huge issue and it’s one of the most basic. I’m happy to be in the midst of it—I get to do good and important work that I love, plus I probably have some good job security, even if it only provides a basic level of living. But that’s really all I need and want, and there’ll be a time in my lifetime where that’ll be something to be cherished.

      I had to look up Imbolc. Thank you! I suppose it has been. I’ve just been reading and writing, drinking too much coffee, and enjoying the hell out of winter. So nice to have this down time. One of these days, I’ll be better on top of my seasonal celebrations.

  7. Don’t feel bad about the seasonal celebration bit. I didn’t know until it was Imbolc that it was. I’m terrible with keeping up with the cross quarter celebrations (I think that’s what they are called…the ones in between the solstice’s and equinoxes). Seems like I read JMG say somewhere in one of his books that those cross quarter celebrations aren’t too necessary. Every Druid is different, and I find that tolerance is part of what draws me to him. I don’t practice any type of ritual magic, and again JMG says it’s not necessary.

    For me, Druidry is providing the myths that I’m using to heal my fractured psyche that’s been inherited by living in our anti-culture. It’s providing all of the symbols that I need to paint a spiritual world view. But most importantly it’s main principle is one that I’ve always felt and agreed with. Nature is sacred. I think if you believe that, if you believe that nature is sacred and bigger than man and can’t (and shouldn’t) be controlled and conquered, than you could be a Druid if you felt the calling.

    On the issue of food; we agree 100% with one another. Funny with the chickens. I have 15 birds, and their coop is a 10X10 dog kennel with a tarp roof. I’ve had them since the spring of 2012. The past couple of months I’ve taken to leaving the coop door open permanently. I haven’t lost one bird to predation yet. I don’t know if it’s because they can flee predators at night or what? Maybe I’m just lucky and predators haven’t figured it out yet…but I can’t figure that out either. It’s strange. I named my residence the “fox den,” so maybe that’s got something to do with it?

    • Nature being sacred is the crux of my beliefs, as well, and there seems hardly a better principle from which to derive good work and appropriate living.

      Interesting on your chickens. One of the farms I worked for was leaving the coop door open at night with their personal layers by the house. A small flock of sheep also were in the same area as the chickens, and they often slept near the coop, so that seemed to help deter raccoons. But eventually, some of the hens were taken out, so I think they’re back to closing things up. Could be that the right predator just haven’t discovered your set up. But then, it could be that they’re not hard up for food, they don’t hang around your place, or the ecosystem’s just choosing to smile upon you.

      I’m always intrigued by how these things settle out. I remember reading about a culture that would place a few small bowls of sugar around their homes (perhaps in a David Abrams book?) to please the local spirits. The result of it was that it kept ants out of the house–they had food outside, no need to come in looking for it. I remember also talking to one of the local farmers about putting livestock that had died out into a designated bone yard field for the coyotes. The offerings seemed to help cut down on attacks on live animals.

      I don’t know that you’re doing anything like this, it’s just one of those things I sometimes think about in regards to this subject. Force and control don’t seem to me the best way to live, particularly when there might be alternate options of entering into action-based agreements with the ecosystem.

  8. Pingback: Live in the Margins « Of The Hands

  9. Yay Druidry! I love that Druidry pays homage to the seasons as well.

    I like your plans for your diet Joel. I’d like to eat pretty much the same way. I’m already mostly organic. I just need to get more of it from local sources. I’d like to start baking bread as well.

    Great article!

Leave a Reply to Joel Caris Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: