Earth Day… ?

April 28, 2009

“Earth Day?” you might be asking yourself. Yup, it’s Earth Day here at Gould. Better late than never. The “real” Earth Day didn’t fit well with Gould’s schedule, so we canceled classes and are observing it today.

Tom Whittington’s Environmental Science class started the day for us with a detailed look at Gould’s ecological footprint. It’s not surprising to learn that our footprint is pretty big! The great thing about the Ecological Footprint, however, is it gives us a chance to look closely at ourselves, and assess areas where we can make changes.

Today’s lunch is unique. An effort was made to prepare local food. If you think about the early settlers to this area, they lived on only local food. They were adept at storing and preserving food to carry them through the winter. With modern transportation we don’t need to rely on local foods all year round, but it is a good exercise to notice where our food does come from, and what it offers us.

Today’s lunch will include hamburgers from cattle that were born on Gould’s farm. The idea of eating red meat on a day we’re calling Earth Day doesn’t set well with me, but I’d prefer local beef to beef that was raised in a crowded feed lot, given antibiotics and vaccinations, fed processed grains, then shipped across the country. The beef we will be offered today was born on our farm, and raised on Philip Johnston’s (’09) farm in Gardiner, ME. At Philip’s farm, they were rotated from pasture to pasture, ensuring plenty of nutritious grass. In the winter they ate hay and grains, which were all grown and processed on the farm. After 2 years on the farm our 2 steers were trailered to a USDA butcher in Windham for “harvest.” The word “harvest” is not a euphemism in my mind. They were raised for beef, and harvested for their meat. It is my belief that it’s irresponsible to eat meat, without acknowledging that it comes from an animal. Many Americans are so removed from the source of their food that it’s easy to forget where it comes from.

On a completely different note, Polar Bears started last week. Twice a week more than 50 Gould students and faculty leave campus at 6:15 to go swim (dip) in the recently frozen waters of our ponds, lakes, and streams. Some “hard cores” even run or bike to the water. Recent dips have been in Songo Pond, but as the locations get farther and farther from campus the group of runners will continue to leave campus earlier and earlier. This is completely voluntary. Here are a few pictures from James Austin.

Until next week,

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