Bare Bones Biology 237 – I Don’t Cook

And before you start telling me how to cook – didn’t say I don’t know how. My mama did her job, and then I went through my own cooking phase, but now I’m just primarily interested in the simplest way to eat healthy. Next year that will include the garden. So I’m thinking about seeds. They must be non-GMO (and I’ll talk about that some other day). Organically grown and harvested is also a plus because it nurtures our earth system.

The last time I was back in civilization, I think it was in a health food store in Santa Fe, I found the Whole Seed Catalog, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( I brought that catalog back up home with me in the cab of the truck, and in the back of the pickup I brought a bucket full of food scraps, coffee filters, and that sort of thing that were left over from eating organically in the big city, where you can buy organically grown non-GMO food all ready to cook or eat.

141214-Bitsy-ASC_3222RLScards copyLast week I was able to get into the canyon – all is well, gorgeous as usual – and I dumped all those scraps on top of my compost heap. The compost heap has been growing for the last couple of years, mostly using weeds from the yard, some egg shells from the neighbor’s chickens, and of course the coffee filters, but I had not yet added any dirt to it, nor the juicy kinds of things that bears, for example, might like to eat. Actually, I’ve seen no sign of bear this year, but elk were stomping in the front yard while I was gone, and it appears that a really big bull elk is resident. I hope he stays on my property so nobody will shoot him.

Anyhow, I dumped the entire bucket of organic food leavings on top of the compost pile and covered over the whole thing with dirt from last year’s garden, and some dirt also from where gophers had been digging, because it’s easier to shovel than the frozen surface soil. I noticed last year that gopher-hole dirt is very low in organic material, but so is nearly all the dirt out here, except that we bought last year when the project began ( And of course, that’s the point. Every year our soil will be better ( able to support the veggies, and so now it’s time to buy the vegetiable seeds, and that’s why I mentioned cooking in the above. The plants that I grow need to suit the equipment I have for cooking.

No fires, no generator, nothing that burns, because of course the whole point of being in the canyon is to have clean air for my chemically sensitive lungs to breath. So that’s it, a a pot and a solar “oven,” a spoon, a knife, a cup and a little water-heating coil for early morning hot drink, and a few solar panels.

We said before that nothing beats organically grown, non-GMO food for healthy eating, mostly because we don’t want to eat man-made chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and other things that may come in our water supply such as hormones and medicines that people throw down the drain. And then use the water to irrigate the plants. Not a good idea. What goes around comes around in the Biosystem. If you wouldn’t want to feed it to your children – don’t run it down the drain.

This year, we will plant some local heirloom seeds, such as blue corn from the reservation and native flowers that we order from a local organization called There are many sources ( And just a few heirloom veggies from Whole Seeds, that I’ll list below. First we will decide what will cook in one pot on a sunny day, and that will be things like carrots, tomatoes etc. And then we will look for plants with the shortest growing seasons that do well in high-desert climate. Also some nice leafy vegetables that we can eat raw.

Then we will consider the health of the soil – it will want legumes with the corn and squash – the three sisters. And then of course we must consider the health of our community beyond the soil in our own garden, to include the air and water, and the organisms: plants, animals and people.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS FM, 89.1, in Bryan, Texas. A copy of the podcast may be downloaded here:

Seeds ordered so far:

Bolita half runner bean – “one of the original varieties brought by the Spanish as they settled New Mexico.”
Parisienne Carrot – Round carrot might do better in shallow soil that has gophers
Bushel Basket Gourd – I like the fun idea of growing a gourd big enough to store things in.
Russian Red Kale – Because it’s nice to pick kale out of the garden and eat on the go for snacks, and might do well here.
Glacier Tomato – 55 days and reliable in cool area.

SOURCE List for Seed and Plants for the Upland Southwest

Bare Bones Biology 277 – Healthy Living

Ah such luxury! I had to make a quick run to Santa Fe, actually to pick up some pills – it’s a long story, but nothing out of ordinary – only one more example of our loss of what we claim to be our “inalienable individual rights,” “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and right now I’m thinking more about the luxury of staying overnight in a reasonably healthy motel.

At dinner, the tables were crowded, and I ended up briefly sharing with a couple from the West Coast who live in what they call the “last of the old-timey seaside villages.” The very last? Surely I was raised in a similar place. But now the place of my raising is covered in asphalt, and I have retreated to a basically unhealthy shack in the canyon — in an effort to enjoy good health.

The young people from the West Coast found it hard to comprehend that feeling healthy can be more important than having neighbors — or that it has become necessary for some of us to choose between the two lifestyles.   They thought it was sad.

140920-sky-ASC_2518RLSsI guess it’s hard for most people to imagine that me feeling healthy, and their children BEING healthy is in conflict with their own desire to have the lifestyle they were raised to believe is — healthy.

I guess it’s the essence of being human, to be working together – as families and as human communities (ref community) to fulfill our common human potential. I remember that feeling. It explains why/how the “greatest generation” was great. Everyone working together toward a common goal. It explains why our leaders keep trying to make us believe we are in a war against one thing or another – to keep us fulfilled and working together under their control.

My father used to say, as often as possible, that our own “inalienable rights” end where the other fellows’ rights begin. But the results of his “Greatest Generation” reductionist ethic are sad, indeed. I am living in a canyon because I want to feel healthy; and our food, energy and communications have been taken over by the corposystem that is not primarily working together with us to fulfill our common human potential, but rather is teaching the youth to work for goals that are neither achievable nor sustainable. And the grandkids have not been taught to understand the difference between needs, wants, rights and the facts of life. And as a result it is now sadder than sad that we have reached the point where we must choose between our aspirations and the common welfare.

To be fair to the great-grandkids, my father didn’t see it either. He and others of the “Greatest Generation” worked very hard to bring the dream to all the people. A healthy lifestyle in which everyone has a right to basic medical maintenance resources and crisis treatment without discrimination. Everyone has a right to a source of healthy food to eat, healthy water to drink, and healthy air to breath. Everyone has the right to a healthy place to live and a healthy place to work, and a safe, warm and healthy place to spend the night. And “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” but in fact we have no right to these things unless we fulfill our obligation to them. I think most of our young people do know this. They just don’t understand how they are repeating and recycling the mistakes made by the Greatest Generation, and intensifying them by using the greater power of modern technologies.

In fact, our world now is far less healthy overall, in spite of all the work of my father’s generation, because we have been working for the common potential of humans — without regard to the needs of the greater community of the Biosystem that gives us our food, water, air and energy. What makes this a new problem is that we have now overtaxed the productivity of the Biosystem.

Until we understand this fact, all our efforts will make matters worse rather than better.

The couple I spoke with last evening do not have the healthy-living perks that my father’s generation tried so hard to give them, but they don’t know it yet, so maybe they are happy. The people on the internet who are screaming at the world because they can’t have whatever it is they want that someone else has – they do know something is wrong, but they believe it’s someone else’s fault and if they could only figure out who is to blame – what? They don’t even know what they want – they want someone else to give it to them, whatever it is.

140920-sky-ASC_2531RSRSsMany people see the selfishness and greed all around them and they believe that the failure of the dream is caused by a failure of compassion. I disagree. I believe the failure of compassion is just another symptom of the failure of our reductionist ethic that builds human power but ignores the needs of the whole. The greater community of the Biosystem of which we are apart – the Biosystem that we require for our most basic sustenance (ref).

If we want to get together to grow a healthy human culture, then it will be necessary to screw up our courage and address the deepest CAUSE of our malaise, which is the relationship between Biosystem productivity and human consumption of resources. We must ALL work for two things at the same time – first of course we should use our own skills as best we can for our own welfare and the welfare of our human communities. That innate capacity is the glory of our humanity. But as we have seen through all the generations, if we do this without regard to the needs of the Biosystem that gives us sustenance, we will fail. Again. To succeed it is essential that we reduce the human “footprint” on the Biosystem, using any available humane technologies.

Many people believe that Healthy Gardening may be one way to achieve that kind of lifestyle. I agree, but only if we use our healthy gardening technologies to grow our understanding of how the whole biological system functions to stay to stay healthy. Whatever technology we pursue, be it gardening or something else, we must dedicate ourselves to — my health, within my healthy community, within our healthy Biosystem.

If we truly want to succeed, we must be very careful not to cause more harm than good with our good efforts. We must ALL address BOTH – the common human welfare, and the common welfare of Life itself, the Biosystem. There is no longer any other humane, sustainable way to work together for the common human welfare.

And now I will enjoy the selfish luxury of a strong hot shower after a warm night in a reasonably healthy motel – I expect they would rather I call it a resort — using soap that is healthy for me and for the Biosystem, before heading back to the canyon to prepare my soil for next year’s healthy garden.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

The short version of this podcast can be downloaded at:


Recommended References: On right side of page look under “chapter” and download the pdf…-127-community/…28-¬-community/…0-community-iv/

Bare Bones Biology 220 – Healthy Living

Last evening, I was puttering around, thinking about healthy living. You know, the three of us have started a healthy living project ( The phone rang. It was my nearest neighbor. Her car stopped working, someone gave her a ride to the top of the canyon, and there she was, stuck and alone, three and a half miles away. Walking home for three miles in the deep, dark bottom of the canyon, with only half a moon rising and no defense bigger than a stick. It may not be unhealthy, but it feels like it. Being eaten by a bear, is that really what the word means? Unhealthy? Or is it just bad luck?

1408113-canyon_gardenASC_0821RLss copyThe Oxford American dictionary gives the definition of healthy as: “Having or showing or producing good health.” The thesaurus on my computer is a little more specific, and answers the necessary next question: “What is health?” by saying: “The general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning.”

I like functional definitions, because they can usually be tested. For example, if your kidney is not functioning properly, that very fact suggests a method to determine the cause of the problem. But that would be unhealthy. You might know you are unhealthy because you feel bad. It’s not so easy to recognize how good a healthy person can feel, and use that good feeling to maintain vital, living health. Some people “feel bad” and don’t even know it. They think it is normal.

The problem of how to stay healthy has increased enormously in the past 20 or 30 years. The culture I was born into studied biology in hopes of improving the human condition. The so-called “greatest generation” genuinely cared about human welfare. On the contrary, the prime directive of the newly evolved corposystem is the bottom line, and so it uses the word healthy primarily to get us to buy stuff. Or to believe whatever it wants us to believe. So the words no longer mean what they mean. That’s why I’m taking all this time to define the words healthy and health before we continue with our Healthy Living project.

Health is the general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning. Healthy refers to something that is sound, vital and functioning properly.

140904-canyon-ASC_1128RLSss copyIs that you? Is it me? Is it my sunflower that I planted earlier this year? The community that provides our sewage disposal and clean water and food? Is it the trees on the side of our mountain? Is it perhaps the entire mountain ecosystem? Is it the whole living earth? Is the earth functioning properly? Proper for what? For whom? Who says what is proper? Surely not the drug companies.

The dictionary says that healthy is lacking disease. Is that just me, living with the bears so that I can avoid the bad-air sickness that now covers most of our country, causing “epidemics” of asthma, alzheimers, cancers of various kinds? Does healthy only apply to humans? Or also to horses and dogs and cats and bears and trees and corn, and even kidneys and ecosystems and cells? I guess so. I guess anything that can die can be unhealthy. And we all know that disease is not the only cause of disease. For example, goiter can be caused by a mineral deficiency, and obesity is a proven cause of ill health because it unbalances so many interactions within our physiology that must function properly to continually balance our physiology at the point of health, as we meet the physical and emotional challenges of our environment.

So it’s not so simple to maintain health, is it? But I think we can agree about the definition, and I think we can use the definition, in coming weeks, to define the questions we need to think about if we want to be healthy. Healthy for whom, and why, and how?

This is Bare Bones Biology a product of and KEOS radio 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.

A podcast of this blog can be downloaded at: