Casaubon's Book

How to Eat Cheap

For the last few weeks and over the next month, attention to hunger will be at its annual peak. People will donate turkeys, time and checks, canned goods and garden produce to food pantries. Many of us will find ourselves thinking of those in need in this season. We’ll dish out cranberry sauce and decorate cookies, volunteer at the food pantry or in the shelter kitchen, and focus on making sure that the season of lights and joy is also one where people aren’t forgotten. This is a very good thing.

It is also important to remember that most of the regularly hungry or food insecure people in the US experience hunger and food insecurity 12 months a year. Some of us work on these issues all year ’round, but the cycle of media attention and all the other pressing issues to work on mean that for many Americans, November and December are the only time to remember that food is a struggle on many tables at many times.

My skill set for getting along on a tiny income was honed by necessity. As a college and graduate student I lived on less than $15 per week for long stretches. Our first year in upstate NY Eric made 19K for a family of four. Although we have leeway in our budget now, I still remember those times clearly and their lessons have helped our family live comfortably with minimal debt (mortgage) on an income that only ocasionally breaks 50K per year.

Not everyone can eat cheaply in the ways I am proposing. Single parents with multiple jobs, homeless folks, those living in shelters or in motels with limited cooking facilities and those with no cooking skills at all have more limited choices. Still, many of us can do this – it isn’t terrifically time consuming or that expensive. Moreover, eating cheap means mostly eating lower on the food chain and focusing on what’s available with a minimum of packaging or processing and in season. Cheap eating can be a gift for all of us if we have the good fortunate to have a home or a place we can cook and store food – at the same time, let us recall that we are blessed, because not everyone does..

How do you cut back your food budget when things get tight? This may be obvious to a lot of people, but the truth is, there are millions of Americans who can’t make the money meet the end of the month, and who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Of those millions, a majority are children and the elderly, two of the groups most vulnerable to even short periods of malnutrition. Making sure that whenever possible we can provide a healthy, balanced diet even when we’re poor is urgent.

It is obviously not just the already-poor who need these skills. These are essential skills for living well on a single income when someone loses their job or has a health crisis. These are adaptive skills for the most likely consequences of all the ecological concerns that face us – most of which come with economic consequences.

Not only that, but the diet can be healthy, delicious and flavorful, especially if you can afford even a few basic herbs and spices. Indian and asian grocery stores are an excellent place to find cheap bulk spices to flavor everything well.

So what do you eat when you are poor? Well, your friends are going to be beans, lentils and grains. They are nutritious, tasty, simple, accessible and store well. If there’s any way you can come up with the money, buy them in big bags in bulk – a minimum of 10lbs, 50 is better – much cheaper per pund.

Whole grains and dried beans store nearly forever (brown rice is an exception here – it isn’t a whole grain, and it goes rancid quickly – white stores better, but is less nutritious). You say you can’t use 50lbs of beans? I bet you can – over 5 years. They will still be good, just need a bit longer to cook. You have to think ahead a bit here – remember, you’ll need to soak the beans or throw them in the slow or pressure cooker or on the back of the stove the night before.

The obvious thing is beans and rice. Sweat an onion on the stove in a little oil, throw in a carrot if you’ve got one, some garlic. Add spices – cumin, coriander, bay and dried chilies are good, but is almost any combination. Add the beans and a little liquid – water, broth, flat beer if you’ve got it lying around. Cook any kind of beans for a short while, until you like the way they taste, add a little salt and eat them over rice.

But what about beans and pasta? Noodles are cheap, and white beans, red beans, kidney beans – all are terrific in vinagrette with noodles, and perhaps some vegetables or sprouts, garlic and thyme. Or what about a loaf of whole wheat bread with a bean salad – cabbage, various beans (multiple kinds are prettier), sprouts, sliced carrots in a dressing of oil and vinegar.

How about curried lentils? Cook the lentils till tender, and in another pan, sautee onions, ginger and garlic. Add curry powder and a splash of soy sauce. Serve with rice, or over chapatis, which are simple enough – mix 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of yogurt (if you have it – if not, just omit and add more water), some water, salt and a tablespoon of yeast together until they form a slightly wet dough. Knead briefly, set aside for 45 minutes, and then break off pieces, flatten them between your hands and cook them in a lightly oiled skillet until brown on each side. Or you can add a tablespoon of sugar to these, and serve them with jam or dip them in maple syrup.

Your other friends in fresh food department are root vegetables and cabbage. If you are shopping at the grocery store, these will be among the cheapest items available. If you can get to a farmer’s market or farmstand, they will be even cheaper. Again, bulk is better – my local farmstand is selling cabbage 10 heads for 10 dollars – and these are large, heavy heads that will keep you fed for a while. Even a single apartment dweller might eat cabbage twice a day, raw in a salad, then sauteed with garlic and pepper. 3 heads will last two weeks sitting on the counter in a place with reasonably low heat. If you can afford your fridge, two more heads can be crammed in. The other five can be turned into sauerkraut or kimchi and will last even longer. 10 heads of cabbage could easily provide a large portion of your vegetable needs for 8 weeks or more for one person.

Potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions and carrots are generally fairly cheap at this time of year. Roasted vegetables make a superb cheap staple meal. Throw a collection of whatever roots chopped into bite sized pieces in a large roasting pan, add a bit of oil, herbs, any seasonings you like, and roast until the vegetables are carmelized and sweet. They make a great main course, a terrific side dish, a good salad mixed with sprouts, a nice sandwich between slices of bread or wrapped in a tortilla with a slice of cheese melted on them.

Squash are also often available reasonably priced, and have the advantage of requiring minimal preparation. Most can be baked in the oven until soft, with oil or butter, a few spices, and then spread upon bread. Or puree them and turn them into soup. Sautee a little onion and garlic in a touch of oil, add some curry powder or lemon pepper, as you like, add water or broth, to your taste, and the insides of a baked squash you’ve mashed up with a fork. Whisk until smooth.

Bean soup may be the platonic food for poor people – delicious, rich, hearty. Chop up onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots and parsnips, and sautee until just tender. Add beans – lima, white, fava, black, adzuki – you name it, and liquid. Cook until the beans are tender. Season with tons of herbs or spices, a little wine, maybe soy sauce. If you’d like a one dish meal, throw in some pearl barley, or rice towards the end. Or bake bread, make chapatis, make cornbread or tortillas.

What about meat? Frankly, I don’t recommend buying any kind of meat that is cheap – it is almost certainly industrial meat and not good for you or your body. But if you are accustomed to meat, one option is to learn to hunt. Venison, rabbit and wild turkey are great, healthy meats.

You might buy very small quantities of healthy meats and stretch them – for those whose growing season is still going, my favorite ground meat stretcher is grated zucchini – you can use it 50-50 with ground beef or turkey. Or simply use the meat as a flavoring, they many cultures do. A small bit of chicken in a stir-fry can transform it to a heartier seeming meal. A delicious chili can be made with a half pound of beef for a large pot, a wonderful sausage soup made with cabbage, carrots, onions and a half pound of intensely flavored sausage. Try the ends of meat from a good deli – often available for free.

Consider talking to your local pastured poultry producer about buying the parts they often can’t sell. Chicken feet make terrific soup stock. Livers are rich in vitamin C and Iron, and absolutely wonderful tasting. Bones are often discarded by butchers of livestock, and can make wonderful, meaty tasting broth. But remember, meat is not necessary to good health, and if you are poor, you probably won’t be eating a lot of it. That’s ok – it isn’t necessary to make food taste good, either. Vegans can do fine as long as they can afford supplemental multivitamins.

Use up every scrap of your food. Leftover garlic bread? Tomorrow’s salad croutons. Stale bread? Bread pudding – mix milk or soy milk with an egg and a tablespoon of soy flour (a cheap way to replace eggs) or two eggs, add honey, sugar or maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and pour it over stale bread, and bake. Or better yet, add some bananas gone black – either the ones you shoved in the freezer or some on the day-old table at the grocers for 10 cents per pound.

Did you peel the broccoli stems and cook them? There’s another meal there. Don’t forget sprouts – sprouting seeds bought in bulk are cheap and can cover much of your vegetable and salad needs. What about vitamin C? Rose hips bought in bulk are cheap, but your cabbage will take care of that too.

Eggshells can be baked in the oven, ground up and added to flour for additional calcium. Forage for greens from your lawn or the area around you (make sure you use unsprayed areas) in season. Eat them fresh, but hang some up to dry and then add them to your flour as well. Try using half as much tea and coffee as usual, if you are still drinking them. Cut back on sugar, salt and fat as well – after a short while, you’ll get used to it.

What’s for breakfast? Oatmeal. Or if you don’t like oatmeal, apples are cheap now in many places, and you can make applesauce easily enough. Then warm it up on the stove, and mix in raw oats – add a little more cinnamon – yum! Or how about rice pudding, if you have milk or soy milk. Or what about cornmeal mush/polenta – add cornmeal gradually to a couple of cups of boiling water, until it makes a thick porridge, and eat it with sweetner.

Consider accepting dinner invitations or attending events with free food. You might dumpster dive (google “freegans”) or consider just asking politely of your co-workers as they toss half their meal “can I have the other half of that sandwich?” It takes courage – our society looks down on the poor so much that advertising your need seems shameful, but it isn’t – the truth is that much of the growing poverty has little to do with the choices of ordinary people.

If things get really desperate, there are further options. First of all, consider applying for any poverty support programs you are eligible for – I know a lot of people resist accepting charity, and that’s wise – but don’t be foolish, and risk your health or your kids. If you are eligible for food stamps, WIC or or some other program, apply. Or consider visiting your food pantry when you need to. Healthy adults may be able to go to bed hungry once in a while – children should not as long as there are better options. And there still are. Talk to people at your synagogue, mosque, church or temple, or at your community center if you are hungry – they may know about resources or be able to offer help. The simple truth is that the times we are coming into may bring many people to desperation through no fault of their own – don’t let shame prevent you from eating.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Jeffo
    November 27, 2011

    Fantastic advice! We try to use as much as we can of our food. We save waste from cutting onions, carrots, celery, etc., in the freezer, and use it to make stock. This year we saved the water that came out as we baked pumpkin for pie, and put it in turkey stock — it made the soup incredibly sweet and fortifying.

  2. #2 6EQUJ5
    November 27, 2011

    I’ve tried a number of cereals and pseudo-cereals from Whole Foods in bulk. Favorites are hulled oats, amaranth, and quinoa. In a 1-gallon lidded pot, I cook 3 cups of dry matter in water. When cooled down, I fill 1-cup lidded refrigerator containers, put some in the fridge, and the rest in the freezer.

    The oats I’ve cooked have a taste and texture lacking in the oatmeal I hated as a kid.

  3. #3 Joshua Hackett
    November 27, 2011

    The sad part is that advice like this is necessary in the ‘developed’ world.

  4. #4 c.
    November 27, 2011

    where oh where do you buy rosehips in bulk? My local co-op doesn’t carry them. I suspect I might find them at the larger one across town but have not ventured. Thoughts? (my favorite is rosehip and hibiscus tea, no ability to grow hibiscus here as I’m in zone 4 and the one that fruits for tea is a tropical, boo)

  5. #5 Charlotte
    November 27, 2011

    Check out your neighborhood for rose hips — they’re the fruit of rose bushes. I have a ton of them in my yard (if you’re in Montana, you’re welcome to them). I’d add that checking out neighborhood fruit trees is a good source of fruit — a lot of people can’t be bothered to harvest, and are often grateful for someone to take fruit off their hands.

    When I was a starving editorial assistant in NYC in my 20s, I studied up on the cuisines of impoverished nations — I worked in cookbooks so this was pretty easy. Beans and rice, “pasta fazool” and soup kept my head above water.

    And if you don’t work at home, a crock pot is your friend —

  6. #6 Lenovo IdeaPad S9
    November 28, 2011

    One of the options the default blogger comments lack is the option to reply to an individual comment.In fact it was one of the reasons i changed from blogger comments to Disqus comments.I have however come across a cool blogger hack that will enable comment replies for blogger.

    http://www.cheapestcomputerdeals.com/

  7. #7 Richard Eis
    November 28, 2011

    Mint tea is my favourite, but there are plenty of herbs you can drop in hot water instead of the utterly dull tea or expensive bitter coffee. Plants easily grown anywhere.

    The sad part is that advice like this is necessary in the ‘developed’ world.

    The true irony is that following this diet would probably make most people in the “developed world” a lot healthier.

  8. #8 NC
    November 28, 2011

    Fortunately, due to the increased CO2 which, we are assured is causing catastrophe, crop growth has increased 25%. Of course for other technological reasons theere has been other increases far beyond that. That is why the world is eating cheap.

    Amazing what science has achieved, even though the anti-science vrowd hate progress.
    ——————————
    Sharon you started claiming that you ran a moderation policy which involved deleting only ad hom comments and welcomed factual debate.

    Then without any public change announced, deciding that there could be no factual debate which would not prove the “scienceblogs” party line wholly ridiculous, you started allowing the posting of obscenities.

    Finally when even then I keep asking for anybody who can make a factual point you have now decided to cesor any sort of factual debate. Again without announcing your second change of moderation policy complettely reversing your initial statement, so that now you do not accept posts which are not childish ad homs but factual debate.

  9. #9 Sharon Astyk
    November 28, 2011

    NC – Huh? I’ve never prohibited the posting of obscenities (unlikely since I use them myself, although Science Blogs new overlords prohibit them), or even ridiculous climate denialist claims. I’ve prohibited the posting of ad hominem personal attacks on others (you can make all the ad hominem attacks on me you want), and that’s all. I don’t censor anyone who doesn’t violate those rules – you can say and believe anything you want here, no matter how bizarre (and that 25% claim being attributed to C02 goes right up there on the bizarro-tron).

    My guess is that you’ve been posting material with multiple links, which science blogs often sends into the aether. Try again without so many links – no more than two to a post. Interesting, however, that you then jump to the conclusion you’ve been censored.

    Sharon

  10. #10 Sharon Astyk
    November 28, 2011

    NC, generally if you want me to know what you are talking about, it would be helpful to point to a specific comment or thread. I did figure it out – and thanks to you and others, I’ll be having a first – closing a thread to further comments, because frankly, there’s no saving that one. I admit, I’m sort of disappointed y’all got it that far while I was out of town.

    Sharon

  11. #11 Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife
    November 28, 2011

    Excellent points and suggestions here! If I might add an observation/suggestion of my own…I’ve been experimenting with the soaking of grains as recommended by the Weston A. Price foundation. I’m not fully convinced of all their dietary and nutritional views, but soaking grains seemed like a no-cost experiment I could try myself. It only requires that I remember to put my rice, oats, beans or whatever in some water to soak well ahead of when I want to cook them. Depending on the food, WAPF sometimes recommends adding a bit of salt or baking soda to the soaking water. The cost of such an addition is trivial.

    My subjective and unscientific experience is that I find oats and rice soaked this way more filling, and that I don’t get hungry as fast after eating soaked grains, as compared to grains cooked without soaking. (I’ve always soaked my beans before cooking, so I have no control for that food.) The WAPF claims that such soaking makes the nutrients in those foods more available to our bodies. Even if the latter claim is not true, it would be a good thing for those living on razor thin margins to feel more filled up and hungry less often, when eating such basic and cheap foods. If the claim is true – soaking gives more nutrition per unit of food – then all the more reason to go that route. Maybe someone else could try this out and see what their subjective experience is. It could be an invaluable and free technique for those who have to watch every penny.

  12. #12 Heather
    November 28, 2011

    great ideas! do you have a simple recipe for kimchi?

  13. #13 Mike
    November 28, 2011

    Sharon,
    You have chosen not to post many of my comments that were not ad hominems, but provided facts and opinions that differed from your “official” take.

  14. #14 Sharon Astyk
    November 28, 2011

    Mike, I don’t post comments – you post comments, comments are not routinely moderated. I do read comments, but they go up all by themselves with SB’s software. If you can document a case where I have taken down a comment of yours, go ahead.

    I don’t do that generally, no matter how I feel about the comment. Some comments get rejected by our software, usually due to three or more links in them – it happens to everyone here, and I’ve mentioned it before as a problem. Most people have the integrity to recognize that when their multiple link posts disappear, it isn’t personal and it isn’t subject related.

    Others end up in my spam filter and get posted when I get around to checking it, usually every few days, but sometimes more often than that or, as lately, less, since I’ve been busy. I tend to assume that if people need me to get to it more often, they’ll ask politely.

    I don’t moderate comments unless people make it necessary, and I don’t post or not post them. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of comments I’ve removed over the years from all three of my blogs that I’ve had since 2005. I have been fortunate in my readers for the most part, in that they are generally very civil and they also usually have the ability to distinguish between censorship and a software issue. If your posts don’t come through, you should probably reduce the number of links or re-submit. If there’s a problem, email me – many people seem to have mastered this, and without assuming that they are being personally censored, have managed to navigate this issue, and I feel sure you can too.

    Sharon

  15. #15 Sharon Astyk
    November 28, 2011

    Ok, now I know what Mike and NC are talking about. See top post for an explanation – technical problems are eating comments. It sure as heck isn’t me – if anything, besides hating censorship like crazy, I’m too lazy to moderate comments unless I absolutely have to.

    Hoping this comment doesn’t go to spam the way the last one did!

    Sharon

  16. #16 Brad K.
    November 28, 2011

    Sharon,

    A crass question.

    I have soaked and cooked beans a number of times over the last year or two, and I have a question about texture.

    The beans I have soaked overnight, or boiled for a quick soak, taste fine, usually.

    But I grew up on canned pork and beans. And the texture doesn’t feel ‘right’.

    I have soaked 8 hours, 16 hours, even a day and a half (when the beans got neglected). I have boiled according to instructions, left the beans in the crockpot for a day or three.

    And still they are slightly bouncy. They taste OK, and I imagine the problem is I don’t know what good beans are like.

    But I miss the starchy, nearly mushy canned pork and bean texture. How can I get my beans, occasionally, to eat like those “packed way back in time, processed to a dearth of value, you cannot tell when they get too old ’cause they start out that way” quality?

  17. #17 Kerri in AK
    November 28, 2011

    Brad K. – trying pressure cooking your beans. My mother pressure cooked nearly all vegetables (which is why I came to love my simple vegetable steamer when I moved out) and EVERYTHING had that smooth practically mushy texture. Read up on pressure cooking beans because it’s possible to have them block the steam venting but otherwise give it go!

  18. #18 Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife
    November 28, 2011

    Brad, I’d be lost without a crockpot when it comes to cooking beans. I tried so many different ways on the stovetop, and nothing was reliable or easy. Maybe a pot on the back of a woodstove would work just as well as a crockpot, but I don’t have one of those. The crockpot is easy, doesn’t need much supervision, and cooks beans to a nice consistency. Bet you could find one cheap at the thriftstore if you don’t already have one. If you don’t want to buy one at all, stick to lentils and split peas; they cook faster and easier than the bigger beans.

  19. #19 T
    November 28, 2011

    Sharon, I’ve been meaning to ask your opinion on a related issue.

    Lately, it seems that the “paleo diet” is the “in” healthy diet – eat only meat and fruits/vegetables/things that would taste good raw – no grains, no beans, and few root vegetables make that list. I don’t think dairy does, either.

    It seems like a very … first-world diet. I doubt we could raise enough meat to feed the whole world its protein supply. Anyway – I wanted to solicit your thoughts, both on the nutritional sufficiency of such a diet and its sustainability.

    Other than the heavy reliance on cabbage (which I strongly dislike), I’m much more inclined toward the diet you’ve laid out in this post. :)

  20. #20 Nic
    November 28, 2011

    T, you might be interested that Shannon Hayes recently posted on her blog that she is going to be writing about this topic.

  21. #21 Neil Craig
    November 29, 2011

    Sharon my initial complaint was not that you censor but that having said you did remove ad homs and obscenities here http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2011/10/speculation_and_world_food_pri.php you didn’t and allowed a thread to develop in which no attempt was made by anybody but I to debate on facts. At the end of that my last comment was deleted while the ad hommer’s wasn’t, which I, I think not unreasonably, assumed deliberate.

    I have no interest in initiating any rudenes towards you and hope you can manage the same. In that light I might point out that the reference to my “bizzaro-tron” is perhaps not entirely polite, nor is it factual since I have prevuiously posted the evidence on one of the other “scienceblogs” sites where it initiated some discussion until the author decided that censorship was necessary to prevent his warming alarmism claims falling apart. I will link on the next post to avoid waking your spam filter.

  22. #22 Neil Craig
    November 29, 2011

    The graph here produced by Canadian experiment shows that the recent increase in CO2 increases crop growth from 80 on their scale to 100 – a 25% increase.

    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm

    It may be argued that more research needs to be done, though that would be as strong an argument for believeing the increase is above 25% as below but I trust you will agree that “bizarro-tron” was not the optimum response.

  23. #23 guthrie
    November 29, 2011

    Craig – that 25% will be under experimental conditions, which are not like the real world. In the real world, plants are constrained by other issues such as lack of water. Moreover, the evidence so far shows that a lot of plants, such as many grains, respond to more CO2 by producing less valuable filler material, so although you end up with a greater weight of output, the actual quality in terms of nutrients is lower.
    Therefore the effects are not exactly going to save the world, and I note the original poster has not produced any evidence showing that there has been a 25% increase in crop production.

  24. #24 Wow
    November 29, 2011

    That growth is also almost void in calories. We don’t eat carbon. That growth is also reducing the natural toxins in the plant, making the insects eating the plant profoundly more of a problem.

    And if CO2 were a plant food, why aren’t farmers going out over their fields, breathing on their crops rather than putting fertilisers on them?

  25. #25 Wow
    November 29, 2011

    Whiner, ad hom is using the observation of your insanities (instant frothing-at-the-brain accusations) as proof of your errors.

    What is NOT ad hom is using your errors as proof of your insanities.

    Sharon: Interesting, however, that you then jump to the conclusion you’ve been censored.

    It is required. Since there is no evidence to support NC’s ridiculous claims, it MUST be being hidden. This requires censoring “the truth”. A basic part of his whacko claims.

  26. #26 Sharon Astyk
    November 29, 2011

    Still going with the bizarro-tron. Your claim was that this had happened – rather than that it might conceivably happen, but your evidence is a study that involves *GREENHOUSE* (ie, optimized, indoor cultivation with all water and nutrients brought in, and a controlled climate) – absolutely nothing like any field conditions. Grains simply aren’t grown in greenhouses except for the purpose of experimentation. Moreover, as others have pointed out, what you’ve seen is not a 25% increase in food production, but in straw production – and you don’t eat straw. Neither do I – even livestock mostly don’t eat straw, they sleep on it. This bodes extremely well for the absorption of urine and manure by bedding for livestock in barns, but not at all for people who want to eat – or even animals that want to eat. Your study simply doesn’t say what you want it to say.

    What you can’t demonstrate is that in the period you cited, grain production has increased as you claim, or that any present increases are due to C02. Add to that that warming and drought generally have a greater negative effect on crop production (rice, for example, the staple of nearly 1/3 of the world’s population shows a 10% decline in production for every 1 degree C of warming in the areas it is grown), and that irrigated land produces 30% of the world’s grain on 17% of the land, and that almost all those sources of irrigation are threatened by climate change and you’ll see this just isn’t good for people who want to eat something other than straw.

    Sharon

  27. #27 guthrie
    November 29, 2011

    DAmmit, I called him craig, I meant Neil. Oops.

  28. #28 Ewan R
    November 29, 2011

    Concomittant with increases in CO2 (which would be expected to increase yields in grain crops in and of themselves – possibly less so for C4 plants which frankly could become obsolete once you reach a certain point) there is an expected rise in O3 levels which to a large extent will counterract any yield increases, also the whole lack of water thing that Sharon points out – all the CO2 in the world ain’t gonna help you if you have no H20 to split in order to fix it.

    Much wailing and gnashing of teeth over Wow’s above comments on carbon… yield entirely rests on dry matter accumulation, which to a large extent relies on carbon fixation, which in C3 plants is limited by CO2 concentration – the reasons one doesn’t apply CO2 is that to do so in any meaningful manner is prohibitively expensive and impossible to contain – more CO2 –> more dry matter accumulation –> more yield, to posit that CO2 isn’t a plant food is as bugshit crazy as Neil is. The problem with posing increased CO2 as a good thing is that it ignores all the things that go along with it – not that it, by itself, doesn’t increase yield.

    http://soyface.illinois.edu/publications.htm

    the SoyFACE program at illinois investigates these effects rather well in the field, and from what I recall it doesn’t paint a happy picture overall (although it does jump around a bit) Also it rather neatly addresses the whole 25% increase question and finds it lacking even when you don’t take other issues into account – I believe in soy they were looking at around 17% (with, as mentioned above I believe, increased susceptibility to some pests)

  29. #29 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    > more yield, to posit that CO2 isn’t a plant food is as bugshit crazy as Neil is.

    Hell, no.

    CO2 is no more “plant food” than O2 is “human food”.

  30. #30 Sharon Astyk
    November 30, 2011

    For cripes sake, what is this, third grade? Neither of you are apparently adult enough to use the internet. Wow and Neil, both your asinine personal attack posts have been removed – I have other things to do with my life, so if you continue this ridiculous crap (and yes, I’m bright enough to recognize the “I would call you a…” bit – I have a six year old and am entirely familiar with it), the next time you’ll be banned. Post your comments without the garbage or don’t waste my time.

    Sharon

  31. #31 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    Shaz, which is worse out of the two removed? I call false equivalence here.

  32. #32 Ewan R
    November 30, 2011

    CO2 is no more “plant food” than O2 is “human food”.

    O2 is used in a completely different way than CO2 – CO2 provides carbon which provides the main building blocks of everything the plant makes (and given that a number of plants, particularly C3 (if I remember right..) are source rather than sink limited it absolutely makes sense to think that feeding them more CO2 would increase yield – shit if only because an increase in CO2 concentration will make RuBisCO work more efficiently and quit wasting its time pissing about with oxygen)- a corn plant (to pull from personal experience) is approximately 35-40% Carbon on a dry weight basis, I would assume (although don’t know, and am currently too lazy to go look it up) that this holds true for pretty much any plant, O2 is just a silly little beastie which is involved in getting in the way of RuBisCO and some other minor nonsense like respiration – not a particularly important building block at all!

  33. #33 Sharon Astyk
    November 30, 2011

    Who the hell is “Shaz?” Sometimes it helps to read all the word carefully and look at all the letters.

    Again, we’re back to six year old reasoning “But he was meaner than meeeeeeee….” It is just as irrelevant here as among my children – I don’t really care who was the biggest meanie, who started it or whatever. The point is that the rule is no personal attacks on fellow posters – read comments policy piece above. You can say what you want about the ideas. This really isn’t very complicated, and all sorts of grownups seem to be able to master it.

    I’ve deleted yet another post that reiterates the personal name-calling. This will be the last time I bother deleting a post, instead of a poster. Feel free to continue debating the topic, or feel free to be hurt by the fact that someone else was bad, or whatever, but don’t waste my time.

  34. #34 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    > Who the hell is “Shaz?”

    East London for “Sharon.

    Nope, not back to six years old. I’m pointing out your hysteria, which, oddly enough, is a bit pre-teen.

    I note you didn’t answer any of the questions.

    I notice you don’t mind false equivalency.

    “1. No ad hominem attacks on your fellow posters”
    cf
    “the rule is no personal attacks on fellow posters”

    You may need to rewrite #1 or read up on what ad hom means.

    “I’ve deleted yet another post that reiterates the personal name-calling.”

    But wasn’t an ad hom. Was it.

  35. #35 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    “O2 is used in a completely different way than CO2 ”

    And so is H2O. But we don’t call water “human food”, do we. Nor “plant food”.

    “CO2 provides carbon which provides the main building blocks of everything the plant makes”

    Hmm. Those phosporous ions that allow the plant to react? That hydrogen that it uses to make such hydrocarbons as “sugar”? That O2 that is combined with the Carbon to make them?

    When plants are alive at night and there is no sunlight, they breathe out CO2 because they’re using O2 as “food” to produce energy when it combines with their hydrocarbon fuels.

    We don’t call O2 “plant food” either.

  36. #36 Sharon Astyk
    November 30, 2011

    My name isn’t Shaz. Thanks for checking, though.

    No hysteria, just have other things to do. You’ve managed two good posts without name calling. Keep up the big boy behavior, and you can stay.

    Sharon

  37. #37 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    > No hysteria

    Well, no. Of course not.

    The one being hysterical is partly so because they’re convinced that nobody else is taking their problem seriously. They never see themselves as hysterical.

    But if you can keep your head level for a change, I might let you partake of my efforts.

  38. #38 NC
    November 30, 2011

    Sharon if you disapproved of my response to the gratuitously insulting post from Wow which you had allowed to stand (& you acknowledge I had not matched his remark though I acknowledge I did skirt it) you should have deleted only that bit. I know this is possible because other “sciencebloggers” have previously done this.

    You should not have deleted the part that replied to your post saying why your criticism of me was factually wrong

    By the standards you are using on me you should also have deleted post 29, which still stands, because he describes me as “bugshit crazy” which I took to be a gratuitous insult, despite the rest of it being not unreasonable. By my proposed standards you should still have removed that bit. At the very least the effect, whether deliberate or not, is that i get censored for remarks infinitely more factual than the ones which are allowed to stand gratuitously attacking me.

    I ask you to either reinstate my post, without the remark about Wow or to acknowledge that i had fully answered all the factual criticism of the canadian experiment made, including yours.

  39. #39 Ewan R
    November 30, 2011

    And so is H2O. But we don’t call water “human food”, do we. Nor “plant food”.

    I think there’s a reasonable case for calling oxygen or water food frankly, it may not be common usage, but to pull the dictionary nazi card food is:-

    “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth” (OED) and thus either fall into this definition(perhaps not oxygen in the case of humans, but one would be wrong to suggest that plants don’t absorb CO2 or O2)

    Hmm. Those phosporous ions that allow the plant to react? That hydrogen that it uses to make such hydrocarbons as “sugar”? That O2 that is combined with the Carbon to make them?

    I don’t know where you’re going with that – I hadn’t argued that other elements weren’t important (and I would imagine you’d be perfectly happy to call phosphorous a component of plant food (unless perhaps you don’t consider NPK fertilizer, widely marketed as plant food, as plant food) also your statement around O2 being combined with carbon to make sugar seems wildly off the mark unless you’re talking about pre-plant uptake oxidation of carbon to produce the initial CO2 utilized – sugar production when simplified to near stupidity is a combination of CO2, H2O and light and at all points is oxygen independant (when talking about atmospheric oxygen, rather than the element, which obviously plays a role as a molecular comoponent of CO2 and H2O (and the various components of the Calvin cycle)

    When plants are alive at night and there is no sunlight, they breathe out CO2 because they’re using O2 as “food” to produce energy when it combines with their hydrocarbon fuels.

    I don’t quite understand why you’re willing to use breathe in the context of plants (which I see as wrong, as it in my mind implies a physical act of intake and expulsion of air, although I’ve a feeling dictionary nazism may have the upper hand on me in this, although I’m fine with that as it then supports my earlier foray into this field) but not food in the context of CO2 – to me the latter is far less of a stretch. (there really isn’t inhalation or exhalation in plants, just relatively passive diffusion of molecules through the stomata which can be either open or closed to facilitate or stop diffusion but don’t actually inhale or exhale a damn thing, again taking this as being an active rather than a passive act – which again dictionary nazism may not support, and which again I’m fine with)

    Also not entirely sure what the whole prior quoted statement has to do with anything, it certainly says nothing in terms of whether or not CO2 can be considered food.

  40. #40 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    Why?

    It would be more work for what? Make you happy?

  41. #41 Eleanor @ Planned Resilience
    November 30, 2011

    Sharon, Unfortunately, I find this post very timely. Lately, my husband and I have been encountering self-employed people who aren’t making it. We give what ever we can, including groceries and a spare computer or two. But it is very sad and scary.

  42. #42 Mike
    November 30, 2011

    Sharon,
    I apologize for my false accusation. All I knew was the many of my comments never showed up on your blog. I made the incorrect assumption that you were moderating comments you did not agree with. That was unfair of me.

  43. #43 Dave from Florida
    December 1, 2011

    Sharon,

    I tried your cooking ideas tonight. The roasted (well, I did them grilled) root veggies came out pretty good. The curried lentils were ok, and probably will be better with some tinkering. But the chapatis were like thick, overly sweet, whole-wheat pancakes, with a rubbery inside. Is that how they’re supposed to come out?

    Glad to see the comments on crock-pot cooking. Often these use less energy than the stove – lower temps and more time is more efficient. I’ve got boiled salted peanuts on now (an extemely fattening snack, best reserved for growing teenagers), and I’m gonna make some Boston Baked Beans tomorrow.

  44. #44 NC
    December 1, 2011

    I take that as an acknowledgement that neither Sharon nor anybody else can factually dispute that the “bizzarro-tron” evidence that the current CO2 rise can increase crop growth by 25% is , in fact, perfectly good science and that she does not dispute her objections have been entirely disproved in the post she deleted.

  45. #45 Wow
    December 1, 2011

    “evidence that the current CO2 rise can increase crop growth by 25% is , in fact, perfectly good ”

    Nope, we can actually, factually, dispute that fruitbar claim.

    http://www.monsanto.co.uk/

    for example, have many products in wide use that they have shown to increase yields in crop trials.

  46. #46 Sharon Astyk
    December 1, 2011

    Neil, the chance of my using my spare time to edit your remarks to your liking is zero. All whole posts containing crap as described will be deleted. You can consider me unfair, or you can stop complaining and repost without the nazi bullshit. Seriously, I don’t have time for the kindergarten crap – I don’t care who did what when to who. Self-regulate or I will regulate, and not with refinement and delicacy.

    As for the crop production increase being due to C02 – that’s just plain nonsense. The main inputs of the Green Revolution were not C02, but artificial 10-10-10. I don’t need to refute that, you’d need to make the case for something so incredible.

    Sharon

  47. #47 NC
    December 2, 2011

    Matter of fact Sharon – I was satisfied with my post it is you who weren’t.

    “All whole posts containing crap as described will be deleted.”

    Matter of fact Sharon the post accusing me of being crazy has not been deleted. Nor has the author made any attempt to prove his claims (something I have always been able to do) notr to prove his medical qualifications.

    As for your 2nd part – please reread what I said. I NEVER claimed that the rise in CO2 was alone responsible for the massive increase in fodd production (and its consequently becomeing cheaper in real terms). I said the precise opposite – that the CO2 rise was only responsible for a sm,all part of it. Perhaps you might wish to acknowledge that far from promoting “plain nonsense” I was contending against it.

  48. #48 Wow
    December 2, 2011

    “I was satisfied with my post”

    Yes, this is not a shock: person who writes a post is happy with the post they wrote.

    It isn’t any evidence the post you write is correct.

    But go tell agri-business and Downing Street that the high-cost products of modern agriculture has had no effect on yields.

    “I NEVER claimed that the rise in CO2 was alone responsible for the massive increase in fodd ”

    But you haven’t removed the effect of other factors to find out what is left. Therefore your point has no point to it.

  49. #49 NC
    December 3, 2011

    Wow it was a reply to Sharon’s claim that what she was not doing was “Neil, the chance of my using my spare time to edit your remarks to your liking is zero”.

    I am glad to see you inadvertently acknowledging that i was correct and she wrong. Well done. You scored an F. Keep trying.

  50. #50 Wow
    December 5, 2011

    Another completely empty post from you.

    In what weird deluded state does post 49 say you’re right?

    Cloud cuckoo?

  51. #51 Neil Craig
    December 7, 2011

    Another gratuitous insult which Sharon, being the honest person she claims will certainly lead to post 51 being deleted.
    To make it obvious to even you Wow “”I was satisfied with my post”

    Yes, this is not a shock: person who writes a post is happy with the post they wrote.”

    is an acknowledgement of the obvious fact that i was satisified with my post whereas Sharon had deleted my entire post on the claim that I, rather than she, was dissatisfied with it and that she thus had no obligation to edit out the bits “I” disliked.

    |Please let me know if you achieve the intellectual feat of understanding and acknowledging this.

  52. #52 Wow
    December 7, 2011

    “is an acknowledgement of the obvious fact that i was satisified with my post”

    And it’s an obvious fact that there is nothing to you being satisfied with your post that says anything other than you’re satisfied with it.

    It doesn’t make it true, factual or even sane.

  53. #53 Neil Craig
    December 8, 2011

    It means that I am satisfied with, which was the point you acknowledged as, almost, any ful can plainly see.

    OK you can’t.

    I note, however, that nobody, even Sharon, now disputes in any factual way whatsoever that there is no reason apart from the desire of Luddite Fascists for there to be any shortage of either power or food and that the alarmists bete noire, CO2, is beneficial to the latter. Do all the siully little lies and insults you want you and all the “sciencebloggers” who depend entirely on rudeness and censorship know this to be true.

  54. #54 Wow
    December 8, 2011

    And you can plainly see that there’s nothing about your statement that is accurate, no matter how much you’re “satisfied” with it.

  55. #55 Ewan R
    December 8, 2011

    and that the alarmists bete noire, CO2, is beneficial to the latter.

    Only, it has to be said, when looked at through stupidity tinted spectacles. If CO2 levels could rise without there being any other effects whatsoever other than improving plant growth then perhaps it’d be a good thing, alas you can’t, and given the multiple effects rising CO2 will have to argue it is a good thing because of plant growth improvements is rather akin to suggesting it’s a good thing both my legs got blown off because of the savings on shoes. (they grew back, incase anyone was concerned)

  56. #56 Wow
    December 8, 2011

    Can I have your trousers, then?

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!