Canning Salsa

Canning Food

Canning Food

Canning food is important in more than one way. Canning use to be very important tradition in many families in the past.  Food preservation or canning was a way of life for many people. There is a gap in cultural knowledge of canning food because we are so depended on industries to can food for us. We depend on Mass Production and Mass Transportation to deliver food to us from 100 of miles away. But we can change all that if we bring back the tradition of canning food and being less depended on the Food industry for the food we eat.

Canning is also called Natural Storage because you can preserve fruits and vegetables in their natural state. It is an excellent way to store food you’ve grown on your own. Nuts, beans, peas, and grains store well in their natural state. An interesting fact that everybody should know is that you can store potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes in cool places for 6 months!

The canning process can be fun, you can do it by yourself or you can can with friends and make it an activity to do every other month or when you pick the foods you’ve grown to store. To can you can use many different methods but the easiest and most popular is the Boiling Water Bath or Stem Canning process, this process is great for preserving high acid foods like; fruits, jams, pickles and jellies. For this process you have to boil water to 212 degrees (F). Using a Pressure Canner is the best way to process low acid foods such as; meats, beans, and vegetables. The Pressure Canner can reach temperature as high as 240 degrees (F), which is needed because high temperatures in both processes are needed to kill off bacteria that cause food to spoil.

We decided to make and can salsa because it seemed quick, easy and fun; which it was.  We used the Boiling Water Process to can the salsa, because it was the fastest and easiest. The first step we did was make the salsa of course, the second step was to boil water and place the jars and lids in the pot for 5 minutes to sterilize them, next we poured the salsa in the jar leaving ¼ of space at the top, next we made sure there was no air bubbles in the jar, and we cleaned the jar and rim so no bacteria well form, then we place the lids on top and sealed it, and last but not least we boiled the jar with salsa in it and we were done.

It was a fun experience learning how to can salsa and learning the importance of canning food. Canning helps you eat in season and extends your season without having to buy food that was transported from another country. Eating in season is also healthier and better for you. Everyone should learn how to can because it fun, and a great way to bring friends and family together for a great night of canning foods.


~ Tamara Sandoval

The problem of nuclear power plants

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Have you ever thought about the problem of nuclear power?

Nuclear power is an important world problem. After the earthquake on March 11 in Japan, I had a lot of opportunities to think about nuclear power plants. For instance, “How can people continue getting energy without nuclear power plants?” “Which is more important: safety or its usefulness?” and so on. As a Japanese person, I would like to write about nuclear power. I would like people to know more about the situation in Japan and how dangerous nuclear power plants are.

Nuclear power and Japan

Now in Japan, the problem of nuclear power plants is very important. Because of the earthquake, the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture has collapsed. And the people who were living around the power plants took refuge from where they lived. Still now, they cannot go back there. That is why there are many problems in education, economy, and health. For example, in the case of education, many children who got affected by the nuclear power plant and took refuge became late in their studies, and because of it, the difference in education is increasing. I got this information through newspapers or on TV before I came to Fort Lewis College and while teaching junior high school children who took refuge from the Fukushima prefecture. Before the accidents of the nuclear power plants, Japan was aiming to increase the number of nuclear power plants in order to increase the self-sustenance of energy in Japan. However, now Japan is searching for new ideas to keep the balance between the safety and reaching energy stability.

Nuclear power and Native Americans

After I came to Fort Lewis, I learned about Native Americans. In my class, I learned about Native Americans and the environment. This is the news I got from Native American times:

“In all, about 10 percent of all power plants operate within 20 miles of reservation land, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many of those 51 energy production centers are more than a half-century old and affect roughly 48 tribes living on 50 reservations. Fewer than 2 percent of all people in the United States identify as Native American and only a small portion live on tribal land.” (Native American times 6th July 2012 –

The reason why the government tries to establish nuclear power plants is to help the economy. I would like for Native American leaders to look at the situation in Japan and think about the health of their people, because I believe that without health we cannot keep the economy well.

~ Hanae Miyabo

A Different Story

FloodOne minute we were laughing in the outdoor kitchen, appreciating the rain for the break in the heavy, humid heat. Then came the water. All it took was a glance upstream, and suddenly there was too much. The rain turned from friend to enemy.

I grew up in New Mexico, where the problems I faced with water revolved around wondering if there would be enough to water the trees this year, or if the Rio Grade would run dry. 3,650 miles south, I was faced with a phenomenon I had never dreamed of experiencing. Tena, Ecuador lies in the middle of the rainforest, barely accessible by road and rich with culture. In the week that my exchange group lived here, I was exposed to more plant variety than nearly anywhere else on the planet, more monkeys trying to steal my school utensils than anywhere else I have every been, and the largest flood in this part of Ecuador in 36 years.

The water did not rise gradually; instead it came as a wall ripping out trees as it went. The inconspicuous creek, usually around five feet deep, rose by ten in an instant. I watched, beyond words, as the hungry water swallowed the steps from the beach to the kitchen one at a time, creeping its way to my feet. I felt no fear, only awe at this point. Floods were something I had never experienced before.

The rain did not stop.

The next morning I looked at all that was left of the brown swirling flood the night before. Our harmless river was still swollen, it had left silt as a slick carpet across everywhere it had covered, six inches in some places. Rocks had been pushed to new locations, plants uprooted, and a tree, twenty feet tall had been placed across the steps to the kitchen. This is an annual flood in Tena.

This flood was the excited gossip of our group for the next month, until we encountered a sobering reality.

January, two years ago Macu Piccu Peru made international news as floods pushed the side of a nearby mountain down into the tourist village of Aguascalientes. The surrounding lowland, the lost farmland, buildings, bridges, houses, schools, crops, livelihoods, and people to the same floods did not even make Peruvian news. The small indigenous village of Qoqocullo is built literally on the side of a hill, and lost their entire savings of seeds for planting when their community center was washed away. The three computers in the village were also lost. Our flood seemed like a joke compared to what these beautiful people had endured. The hardest part of their tearful story to hear, was that though the government had sent swift and efficient aid to Aguascalientes, the population of Qoqucullo had been living in plastic tents with no clean water for close to three months. Their hope for the next years crop had vanished with the seeds.

Both floods were caused as a result of global warming, which led to heavier rains, and therefore landslides. These experiences impacted me into action, working with people to protect the environment and those who are severely impacted by it. This experience led me to the Environmental Center at FLC. I hope I can make a difference, because reading about global warming is informative, but experiencing it personally, is a whole different story.

~ Hallie Taylor Wright

Waste Audit Fall 2012

waste audit 2012

The Environmental Center’s Zero Waste team conducting this year’s Waste Audit (see more pictures below)

After months of careful planning, the members of the Environmental Center’s zero waste team put on a wonderful event: Fort Lewis College’s annual waste audit. Sprawled in front of the student union, a

large tarp was buzzing with EC members and volunteers sorting through 438.6 pounds of trash collected from one day on campus. Of this trash, a total of 72.7 pounds could have been recycled, comprising of aluminum cans, paper, plastic bottles, cardboard and glass bottles. Also, a total of 44 pounds of food was removed and composted in addition to 11 pounds of compostable food containers. FLC students throw away about 9 pounds of disposable coffee cups every day, so remembering to bring a reusable mug can really make a difference in the amount of waste accumulated each day on campus. After removing all recyclable and compostable items, the amount of waste produced totaled 321.9 pounds. The waste audit conveys an important message of waste production awareness and the affect of wastefulness on the environment: issues to which the zero waste team passionately searches for solutions!

Emma Kurfis

Staff Retreat, Fall 2012

Staff Retreat, Fall 2012

The Environmental Center (EC) at Fort Lewis Community College (FLC) was excited to start of this academic year by joining hands to create a exciting day at The Old Fort in Hesperus, Colorado.  Together the team was greeted by Katrina to pick fresh organic produce out-of-the-garden.  More specifically the EC staff and volunteers picked a good sized harvest of beets, potatoes, carrots and squash. However, this amazingly fun filled day did not stop there. We shared a terrific lunch followed by team building exercises which enhanced the knowledge of each team member’s strengths and interests. A staff meeting was held in the old school house shortly after. Led by director of the EC Rachel Landis, the talks furthered the identified individual primary interests and defined the core values of the team, moving towards the advancement of creating focused EC goals. We are pleased to announce that several teams within the EC have been formed as a result of the team orientation meeting. These teams include the Zero-Waste, Campus Sustainability, Media and Communications and Local Food teams respectively. The close of the day brought forth a charged discussion about the EC’s chances at winning back the Homecoming Float competition in this year’s FLC theme of Skyhawkalyspe. Unfortunately I can go no further into talking about the brilliant ideas that were brought to the table but let’s say we are confident it’s going to be a great float.

Moving forth, the EC would like everyone to know that we are looking forward to a brilliant year filled with sustainably and environmentally inspired tasks. With that said, we would love for any FLC students to stop by our office located in the Student Union building on campus (RM 145) to see what we are up to and if you would like to become involved in any one of our exciting goals throughout the year. Briefly, a few upcoming volunteering opportunities of this sort:

  • Harvest apples at Yellow Jackets Orchard for the Apple Days Festival happening here in Durango at Buckley Park on October, 14th. Please contact Katy at katypeinsky [at] for more info.
  • Volunteer as hazardous waste disposal crew member and learn what is “proper disposal” at the Durango fairgrounds on October, 6th. Please contact Miles at milesMB [at] for more info.
  • More picking of apples in the Durango community for Apple Days on October 13th. And festival volunteers needed for the actual festival on October 14th. Please contact Alex at asbrooks [at] for more info.

If for no other reason, you should probably stop by our office to check out a super cool collection of books which you can check out from the EC! We are truly excited for all the possibilities the new school year it holds for the campus and hope you are to. Have a Happy Day!

~ Charles Clayton

Deep Democracy With Riki Ott

Riki Ott lecturing at FLC in March 2012

Riki Ott lecturing at FLC in March 2012

At the end of March, I had the privilege of attending the Deep Democracy Workshop with Riki Ott. The workshop was an incredibly valuable opportunity to learn more about community organizing and social, political and environmental activism. Riki has a lot of experience organizing communities, and played an integral role in organizing communities to help deal with the vast environmental devastation caused by both the Exxon Valdez and BP Gulf Coast Oil Spills. She is both inspiringly motivated and full of energy, and works hard to bring about positive change.

During the workshop, many different issues and movements were discussed, as well as tactics and models of social movements that could be utilized to affect change. Among the topics discussed were the Occupy Wall Street and corresponding Occupy movements within the states and around the globe. Riki was highly enthusiastic about the revolutionary potential of the Occupy movement, as well as its peaceful, decentralized and diverse nature.

Riki also talked about the Transition Town Movement, which has also been spreading quite widely lately. Transition Towns are taking initiative and rebuilding their local economies, focusing on sustainability, interdependence and autonomy. Some Transition Towns have even gone so far as to draft their own Bill of Rights, oftentimes rejecting corporate personhood and proclaiming that sovereignty is for human beings, not corporate social constructs.

In terms of tactics, Riki was very adamant that peaceful coordination and nonviolence were key to creating movements with significant impacts. She argued that nonviolence gives movements a moral advantage and also brings new people into the movement. Nevertheless, she was equally adamant that civil disobedience is necessary to bringing about change, so long as it stays nonviolent. When injustice is law, it becomes a moral imperative that we disobey it. She gave the example of the Civil Rights movement, and tactics such as the sit-ins at lunch counters, even students peacefully getting attacked by police and dogs. By allowing themselves to be attacked and victimized by these unjust laws, people brought attention to the shockingly cruel nature of laws perpetuated by the state and civil authorities. Even the Transition Towns drafting their own Bill of Rights were a form of civil disobedience, as they are technically illegal and not recognized by the state.

Along with stressing nonviolent action, Riki also emphasized the importance of not only revolution but evolution. In other words, rather than just tearing down or reacting to systems and structures that perpetuate injustice, we need to have a vision of what we hope to replace them with. In other words, movements shouldn’t get too caught up in what they want to fight against, but what kinds of positive goals they hope to accomplish. She explained her opinion that times of great crisis, such as we seem to be experiencing now, also bring about the most potential for positive change and creative opportunity. Over all, one of the most powerful and encouraging messages she had to offer was the revolutionary power of creative and constructive thinking.

At the end of the day, we organized ourselves into two groups and created new teams to tackle issues in our community. We formed a committee to create a Free Health Care Clinic for LaPlata County Citizens in need, as well as a campaign to help bring more local foods into Fort Lewis and other schools in the area. We came up with a coherent action plan to help us solidify our goals and obstacles and to get these projects rolling. Hopefully these new initiatives will blossom into full-scale community programs, and we can implement our positive visions for the community.

Overall, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend this workshop. I took a lot from it, especially a new sense of enthusiasm for evolution and revolution, and it gave me hope to see so many other people passionate about creating change in the community.

~ Randy Newkirk

My Experience at the Home Grown Local Food Retreat

Homegrown Food Retreat, Keynote speaker Andy Nowak.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend Durango’s Homegrown Local Food Retreat, which was put together by the Environmental Center’s local foods team, as well as numerous other students and community members. The food retreat was not only educational and informative, but also featured a lot of tasty foods. It was great learning about the importance of eating locally grown foods, and even better getting to eat them.

The food retreat kicked off on Friday night, with a lecture by Andy Nowak from Colorado Farm to School. Andy did a great job of highlighting the work that he and his organization have done to bring locally grown foods into public schools, particularly in the Denver area. It was very impressive to see the progress that he and Colorado Farm to School have made in both spreading consciousness of local food and sustainability, and making local healthy foods available to all students. One of the major points Andy made was that anyone could get involved with the food sustainability movement in schools. Many people are very enthusiastic about helping their community schools flourish, and are willing to put time into efforts such as taking care of community gardens for schools. This lecture was very informative and inspiring, and hopefully it got people interested in pushing local sustainable food systems in schools.

Saturday was full of informative lectures, workshops, and panels devoted to linking community members in their passion for growing and eating local foods. One of the major highlights of the morning was Janine Fitzgerald’s lecture titled “Why We Can’t Afford Not to Eat Locally”. Janine Fitzgerald, Professor of Sociology at FLC, delivered a highly thought-provoking and inspiring lecture on how eating locally is absolutely imperative, and how we can take a proactive role in our future by focusing on our local food system. Janine brought up the often overlooked issue of Peak Oil, and just how dependent our current agricultural, political, and economic systems are on cheap oil. As the amount of cheap oil available begins to decline, we could see collapse or crises, and in order to feed ourselves, eating local food will become not only more sustainable but a practical necessity. She stressed that no matter what we do, eventually eating locally will ultimately be our only choice, and in order to create a better future we must begin to take a proactive role in sustaining our relationships with the earth, our food and local farmers. The quicker we begin to localize our economies and food systems, the better off we will be in the end. Professor Fitzgerald ended her speech with a poem that she wrote.

My personal favorite out of the workshops I attended was the one given by Katrina Blair of Turtle Lake Refuge. Katrina provided an abundant amount of information on local wild plants that not only can be eaten but also provide a tremendous amount of sustenance and nutrition. She emphasized that harvesting these wild plants could easily save a person from having to buy expensive supplements, as many of these plants were chock-full of nutrition and essential vitamins and minerals. Among these were Dock, Dandelion, Mustard Greens, Grass, and Clover. It was very interesting that many of the plants she mentioned were considered by many to be weeds, even though they provide so much nutrition. Clearly we need to become more knowledgeable about the wild plants around us, and learn to nurture them rather than seeing them as invasive or something to be eliminated.

Next was lunch. Several different soups were available, each of which were excellent and nourishing. I was able to sample each. Also available was a very tasty frittata, and a huge selection of greens. Almost everything was grown locally and tasted great. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this meal, as it was the best meal I’ve had in some time.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop given by Katy Pepinski, Andy Nowak and Erin Jolley, which dealt with eating locally on a budget. They gave many helpful examples of meals and recipes that can be made using local foods, and how these foods can be obtained at reasonably low prices. This workshop was particularly useful for anyone on a budget, and provided a lot of practical knowledge.

After a quick break, there was an interactive panel working with Colorado Farm to School. Andy Nowak, Krista Garand, Jim Dyer, and Kim Cotta all shared their experience and expertise with working with Farm to School and answered questions from the audience. Each person had a unique perspective to bring to the table from their work and helped to give people ideas on how they could get involved with similar projects and issues.

The last major educational event of the day dealt with sustainable snacking, and was given by Jess Kelley.  Her presentation brought a lot of things to mind which I hadn’t really thought about. She opened up the slide show with a picture of Tostitos corn chips and salsa, as an example of a non-sustainable snack. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised, as I had never really thought of chips and salsa as being either unhealthy or unsustainable, yet Jess elucidated us on how everything from the genetically modified corn seeds used, unhealthy oils, and even gasoline were found in the product. Instead of snacks that use GMO’s or contain a lot of sugar, she gave us recipes for meatballs and instructions on growing sprouts. Both of these choices can provide a lot of protein and can be quite healthy and sustainable, as well as easy to make or grow.

All in all, the Food Retreat was something I’m glad I was able to go to. Everything from the delicious local foods to the guest speakers, workshops and panels provided a valuable experience. I learned a lot about food, plants, and the environment, and got to eat in the process. The workshops brought up a lot of new ideas that I hadn’t really considered, and they were all quite thought-provoking. Now that I’ve gotten to experience the food retreat, I think I’ll definitely try to be there again next year!

Randy Newkirk

Check out more pictures of this event here.

Water Day at Rotary Park


Photo by Hari Baumbach.

The Zero-Waste Team is extremely excited to host Water Day at Rotary Park on March 24th. The event is to inspire the community to work together to “spring clean” the Animas River and raise awareness about water conservation and quality. We will begin the day at 1:30 assigning participants portions of the river to clean, followed by live music and prizes for sorting out trash, and ending  the day with a couple of guest speakers and an awesome documentary about water. Everything will take place outside so make sure to bring proper dress apparel and your own blanket or lawn chair for the show. Also bring along your favorite mug to enjoy some hot chocolate for the nightly festivities. The Environmental Center is seeking to educate the community on our precious water resource while having fun on the Animas River! Hope to see you there!

~ Sarah Griffin

4 Corners Regional Food Summit

The 4 Corners Regional Food Summit was based on the idea of open dialogue between people involved at all levels of the food system—from growers and eaters, to land owners and distributers, to even backyard gardeners. The basic idea for this unstructured, one-day summit was that the food system we have built in the past 10 years is not working and we need a new model. We must do this with our limited, usable land and infrastructure. The summit was partially organized by Farm to Table, an organization that operates out of Albuquerque and is dedicated to promoting locally based agriculture through education, community outreach, and networking. The conference began with an examination of the different realms of food that were being represented. There were mono-cropping petrochemical farmers who were interested in using compost rather than fossil fuels to get the nutrients they need. The owner of Durango Compost Company was there to share his ideas about how to expand composting systems into the public realm. The owners of a local Durango jam, jelly, and mustard business were able to connect with a distributer from New Mexico who was looking for new products. There were USDA representatives sharing their stories of the many roadblocks associated with institutional local food initiatives. After the introductions and networking the group of about 150 said what they thought would be good topics for break out sessions. There were 6 agreed upon topics. One group focused on expanding local food into the educational system. Another discussed the importance of recognizing the medicinal qualities of food. A few of the other groups discussed topics such as the important aspects of soil health and how to move past chemical fertilizers, water irrigation systems and other water issues, as well as saving seeds and the importance of seed banks. Another group discussed how to fill a niche between people who want to become growers and land owners who are interested in loaning out their land through a program is called Landlink. And last, there was a group there focused on the emergency response system set up to feed people in the case of disaster. These were just a few of the diverse topics that are involved in the entire local food cycle that made for an informative conference.

~  Lucian Davis

Hooked on Growth Free Movie Screening – UPDATED DATE

Hooked on Growth

Great Old Broads for Wilderness and The Fort Lewis College Environmental Center are hosting GrowthBusters’ film Hooked on Growth.
Hooked on Growth is a fun, informational film about growth and over consumption in America. It focuses on becoming a sustainable citizen and the big question of whether or not to embrace the end of growth.

When: February 7th, 2012
Where: Fort Lewis College, Chemistry 130
Time: 6:30~8:30
Cost: Free for Everyone

There will be an informational panel following the film screening.