Everyday is Earth Day at Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil here in Italy. Many efforts are made throughout the home and property to minimize the use of manufactured energy sources that are costly and wasteful. We have two large wood burning fireplaces to keep our home cozy during the winter months in our stone home with three feet thick walls. The wood comes from trees on our property that are no longer in good health or from branches that have been pruned throughout the year. Rain water is captured and funneled into two separate wells for irrigation during the summer months. I air dry all our laundry and do not own a clothes dryer. Our water heater uses wood pellets (and can use olive pits) to heat up all the water and heat registers in the house. We practice sustainable farming methods for our olive grove, fruit trees and garden, utilizing natural treatments whenever possible to promote a healthy living environment.
Solar panels are positioned facing south for maximum sun exposure that cuts our electricity bill in half by generating enough energy throughout the day to run the entire house free of charge during daylight hours. Now, we just need to devise a small and effective windmill to utilize all that nature has given us living on the edge of the Adriatic Sea! There is no excuse to not conserve energy. It's practically handed to us with this climate, Italian ingenuity and common sense. How can we not celebrate? Even though Earth Day is a little bit like Mother's Day (which by the way is quickly approaching on May 10th), created in case you need a reminder to pay attention what's in front of you. If you were born, you had a mom. And once you are born, well you know the obvious, you become a human being living on the planet earth! Depending upon where you were born, that is fantastic thing! For others, maybe not so much because our world is so diverse. But the reality is, we only have one Mother Earth where we were born to live. If we were lucky, we had someone whispering in our ears when we were young a few important virtues to hold dear -- be kind and respectful to your mother, give back when you can, remember she is a part of you ... biologically as well as emotionally. This analogy is so true with our Mother Earth. She gives us varying degrees of temperatures for an ebb and flow of seasons; mountains, lakes and seas; soil, sand and rock; and the air we breath all contribute to our very own existence.
So far, I have had great fortune to live in two of the most beautiful and pristine places in the world. The Willamette Valley in Oregon, USA, (photo to the left) and The Fermana Coastline in Italy are both places I call home. The Pacific Northwest and the Italian region Le Marche boast incredible landscape panoramas, but beyond the scenery are energy and recycling programs to ensure it stays that way. Oregon has always been a pioneer (no pun intended) in preserving it's environment through the famous bottle bill, recycle incentives for businesses, and tax credits for alternative energy sourcing. This just scratches the surface as Oregonians dedication to protect our wildlife, open spaces and uncontaminated farmland is unbridled with passion and continues to be unwavering. Here in Italy, it is steeped in tradition, and thank goodness due to the country's slower pace and Italian's skeptic nature to question most things, they still dance to their own song. Another contribution to protecting Mother Earth is through agriculture practices. In Italy, it is not allowed to grow GMO crops. Why? There is not enough evidence that GMO's are safe for human consumption, nor enough research to determine the long-term effects upon the earth itself. Use of poison to wipe out insects and nasty weeds stress our energy resources to dispose of these chemicals, not to mention the potential health uncertainties. Also in Italy, livestock, poultry and game are controlled on a national level, and in certain regions, the criteria to meet top quality standards with minimum intervention is very stringent. I buy only Marchigiani beef, which is beef from my region Le Marche.
In this photo, these cattle, when they are not grazing in their pasture, they are eating hay and vegetables. No grain. I never buy meat from other countries and buy my food from trusted sources, usually within zero kilometers (I live in an agriculture zone) and most always buy products from Italy of course! I cannot resist the lemons, oranges and artichokes from Naples in the dead of winter -- especially when the farmer woke up before the crack of dawn to sell his truckload of goods on the beachfront. On our property at Villa Cristiana, we do our part not only out of necessity, energy costs can be crazy expensive, but also for health. When you live closer to the earth, at a slower pace, and find yourself surrounded in such clean terrain, we have naturally gravitated to become a part of it versus a contaminate. Culturally, it's been made so easy for us to naturally adapt to the Italian way from the gifts of Mother Earth! I truly appreciate the simple and best pleasures in life that exist right outside my door. Happy Earth Day everyone!