Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cooking with Pig Poo

July 10th, 2009 – Cooking with Pig Poo

Yesterday we went on an interesting field trip. We went to this small, yet highly functional family farm. The farm is owned by a man and his wife. From the production of this farm, they have managed to raise and put 8 children through University. Their children are now engineers, lawyers, doctors, professors, etc... This family is like the model Paraguayan family. They embody what we hope will happen with the Paraguayan families with which we will work. One of the children, who studied agriculture and bioscience (or something of the that sort) in Oregon, gave us a tour of the place. He was incredibly smart. He explained, in perfect English, that it is important to capture energy from various sources and use that energy as efficiently as possible in the process of converting into other forms of energy. For example, the sun gives the energy plants need to grow. This plant is eaten by a cow. The cow produces milk, which gives energy to the people who drink it. In this way, the energy from the Sun has been converted into energy for people. Their goal is to capture and create energy from various sources and then not let any of that energy go to waste or escape out of their integrated system.

They have rabbits, pigs, cows, ducks, worms, a garden, and a small piece of land they use to grow several crops. They also make and sell cheese and yogurt in addition to offering workshops to other Paraguayans on how to do what they do.

I’m going to attempt to explain part of the process of their small farm. The rabbits and cows poop, which they feed to worms. They also use the cow poop in their compost pile. The compost pile produces great soil for their field and garden. The worms then systematically consume the poop converting into the best fertilizer known to man. They use this to fertilize various crops in their garden and fields. Some of what they produce in the field is used as feed for the animals. They have yet to obtain 100% self-sufficiency in that they aren’t yet able to produce a sufficient quantity of food for the animals. Some of the harvest of their plants is consumed in the house, and the remainder is sold externally. The milk from the cows is consumed in the house and is also used to make cheese and yogurt. There is literally no waste in this farm, and most everything is environmentally friendly and organic.

So on to the cool part of the story. The pigs eat whatever they eat and then poop. They direct this liquefied poop through pipes to a Biodigestor, which is like a long plastic tunnel. There is no oxygen in the tunnel, so the poop sits there and undergoes its system of decay. In the process of decay, the liquid poop produces a gas, which they capture, and run through a pipe, which is connected to this big pot near the kitchen. Whenever the family needs to cook something, they simply flip the valve and ignite the gas. Hence the title, “Cooking with Pig Poo.”

After the tour, we sat around and ate really good pound cake, yogurt, and bread with spicy cheese. Every so often, we get these kinds of treats...pound cake, burgers, cookies, ice-cream, etc...and they are very much appreciated since we have very limited access to sweets and American-like foods.

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