Sunday, June 21, 2009

Markets, In the Sun, and Biodiesel

Yesterday's farmer's market was another slow day for foot traffic. The weather has been so rainy that most of the produce growers haven't been there because their veggies aren't ready yet. Some folks are having trouble with plants rotting in the ground. We still took home a few bucks, so we can't complain.

I managed to get a sunburn on my right arm and the back of my neck. Because I burn easily, I've been making a point to get outside in the sun, a little every day, without sunscreen for the past couple of years. We make Vitamin D from sunlight, as well as getting it from cold water fish and fortified foods. There is a lot of new research on Vitamin D, Vit D sensitive cancers (skin cancer being one of them!), and other Vit D sensitive conditions (including depression and now there's a possible link to Alzheimer's), that would be reason enough to get out in the sun more often.

The other reason that I'm trying to get more sun is to build up my melanin and my tolerance to the sun. The life we're planning will require a lot of outdoor time, and I can't be ducking into the shade every ten minutes if this is going to work.

I grow aloe at home, and have done so for many years to care for my sunburns. However, the past couple of times that I did get too much sun, I put some face cream with royal jelly on the affected areas. Each time, by morning, the burn was completely gone, and I actually had a little color. While some people may find it normal for a burn to have healed overnight, I generally did not have that kind of luck with sunburns. Mine would last for days, and then go from red almost straight back to white- no tan.

Royal jelly is the special food that worker bees feed to larvae to make it a queen bee. Without this royal jelly, the bee would grow up to be a regular worker bee. Scientists aren't even sure what all the different components of royal jelly are, but it is potent enough to create a completely different honeybee. As it is the only ingredient listed on the package that I had never put on a burn before (with my skin, I've tried everything), there's a good chance that it was the royal jelly that healed the burn.

After the market, we went to a presentation on bio-diesel and waste vegetable oil. We need a vehicle that has both power and can seat a few people. An SUV has made the most sense for us for a number of years. However, with an average 13 MPG, this puts a hurting on our personal finances. Plus, I'm not all that fond of giving my money to big oil companies or to foreign oil interests.

We learned a few interesting things. A diesel engine can run on bio-diesel without any conversion or adaptation to the vehicle. When the diesel engine was invented, it was actually intended to run on peanut oil. However, making bio-diesel requires ingredients that are toxic, like lye (the toxic ingredients become inert when they are combined to make bio-diesel), and require careful handling.

The process of converting a diesel engine to run on waste vegetable oil WVO) seemed fairly easy (at least that's what Eddie tells me, but then again, he worked on diesel engines in the Navy). There's a kit that can be purchased, and once installed, you can run it on either bio-diesel or WVO. Restaurants have to pay to have their waste oil removed, so it should not be difficult to find a restaurant that would be happy to give the stuff away for free. There is a little bit of filtering and settling, and it can be messy, but it is essentially free fuel. Compare a few hours of effort each week collecting and filtering WVO to paying $100 to fill up the tank of a large truck or SUV at the pump. I'll take the free fuel, thank you!

Without recycling the WVO, that sludge ends up in land fills. While we dump entirely too much filth into the earth already, why would we throw away a perfectly good fuel that could eliminate our country's dependence on foreign oil?

The only snag in this for us is that one of the requirements to running a vehicle on bio-diesel is that you have to already own a vehicle with a diesel engine. We are not in the market for a new vehicle at the present time. However, tomorrow. we are sitting down to review the timeline for our establishing our homestead, and will fit purchasing a diesel truck into the plan.

Live better, a little every day.

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