Appropriate Technology

...ng last week and we thought we’d use the occasion for a brief roundup of similar “appropriatetechnology concepts. The term appropriate technology evolved out of political economist E. F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful and is easier to show rather than describe. While not always low-tech, appropriate tech concepts feature elegantly simple (but not simplistic) design, efficient use of energy and are usually aimed at...

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Appropriate Tech is the New High Tech

....Greer is asking that readers spread the word about this resource. He also suggests starting your own library of appropriate technology classics. Both are great ideas. Our blog, in fact, was largely inspired by just this type of literature in the form of a book by Sim Van der Ryn The Integral Urban House: Self Reliant Living in the City as well as other books such as Lloyd Kahn’s Shelter. Keeping with Greer’s idea of building an appr...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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Journal of the New Alchemists

...sic, wind power, four season growing, permaculture, non-hierarchical leadership and goats. Only the 1980s era of appropriate technology amnesia separates current efforts from the work of the New Alchemists. Aquaponic system. Image: Journal of the New Alchemy. By accident I discovered the Journal of the New Alchemists deep in the closed stacks of the Los Angeles Central Library. As revealed by their journal, what distinguishes the New Alchemists f...

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Looking for the Union Label

...derwear on the internets recalled a highly catchy ad jingle from the roller disco era, “Look for the Union Label” (youngsters can watch it on youtube here). We looked for the union label and we were surprised to find it via a company called Union House which carries a functional, if unexciting line of apparel. Unless hipsters take to golf shirts in an ironic fashion judo move, these offerings will never be cool like the domestically m...

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What’s the Best Solar Food Dryer?

...he Poisson Indirect Dryer. Image: Mother Earth News. Which design works best? Dennis Scanlin, Coordinator of the Appropriate Technology Program and Professor of Technology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina has been studying solar food dryer technology for decades.  According to Scanlin, indirect drying is the way to go. Scanlin tested three dryers, the Appalachian Solar Food Dryer (an indirect dryer that he invented) agains...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...nion of Agricultural Cooperative cooperating with other farming and agricultural associations are adding QR code labels right at the point of origin. In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

Around once a month I teach a bread class at the one of a kind Institute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesem...

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Mitchell Joachim’s Techno-Utopian Future

...of this planet. Like Greer, I believe it’s time to return to what came to be called, in the 1960s and 70s, appropriate technology, things like solar water heaters, rocket stoves and permaculture. Designers have an important role to play in the coming years, but that role may be more about working on the ideal pit toilet rather than foam electric cars or in-vitro meat houses (I will admit the meat house is pretty funny). As a design challeng...

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