Got Resiliency?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Resiliency, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Transition Movement, Transition Town | Posted on 29-04-2009


by Shauna Lawyer Struby 

A resilient system is adaptable and diverse. It has some redundancy built in. A resilient perspective acknowledges that change is constant and prediction difficult in a world that is complex and dynamic. It understands that when you manipulate the individual pieces of a system, you change that system in unintended ways. Resilience thinking is a new lens for looking at the natural world we are embedded in and the man-made world we have imposed upon it.

 –Chip Ward,

Diesel-Driven Bee Slums and Impotent Turkeys: The Case for Resilience” 

Oklahoma’s storm season is upon us. We watch clouds boil and roil, hope and pray for rain versus hail and tornadoes, and while we may joke about Gary England’s drama, as anyone living in these here parts knows, the season is no joking matter.

When the tornado sirens blow, most of us know our take-cover routine like we know our own phone number. We head to hidey holes, closets, basements and storm shelters with family, friends, pets, memorabilia, emergency radios, flashlights, water and food in tow. We watch and listen to some of the best meteorologists in the nation track threatening weather in stunningly detailed Doppler radar. We know the meaning of wall clouds, hook clouds, vortexes, the difference between a tornado watch and a warning, and of course Oklahoma children learn the Fujita scale long before they have any idea about do-re-mi.

Yes siree. When it comes to tornado season, Oklahomans have the warning/planning thing down.

This friends, gives me hope for the future.


Fruit trees build resilience in a community.

If we can plan and prepare this thoroughly for Mother Nature’s annual spring tantrums, I’m hoping we can apply the same can-do, innovative spirit to the broad and deep energy challenges we face. That means first thinking more deeply about what a community really needs and how those needs are met.

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement and author of The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resiliency, notes one of the key characteristics of healthy communities is resiliency. According to Hopkins resiliency is …

“ … the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks.”

The primary point here: a change or interruption in one part of a system doesn’t take down the whole. Resilient communities have food, transportation, shelter, water, health, cultural, and education systems that are self-sufficient enough to provide for essential needs regardless of boiling chaos. When you pair resiliency with sustainability, you have a community that’s ready to face the future. 

So what does resilience look like in real life? In communities and homes it refers to our ability to not collapse at the first sight of oil or food shortages, or in the case of the threat of a pandemic, like the current swine flu, to be able to respond with adaptability.

To help illustrate the concept, Hopkins does a little contrasting and comparing below. Note: Just because an activity doesn’t add resilience, doesn’t mean it should never happen; what Hopkins is suggesting is that we think beyond the norm, think beyond even sustainability, and add resilience to the planning equation.

Resilience chart  

So have you got resilience? What are your ideas for making your home and community more resilient and less vulnerable to abrupt change in an increasingly complex and volatile world?

Take your sustainability IQ up a notch at the OSN conference

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Tips | Posted on 13-03-2009


by Shauna Lawyer Struby

You’ll get a visionary view of life and a short cut to sustainable knowledge at the Oklahoma Sustainability Network’s 8th annual statewide conference, so don’t wait, register now. It’s scheduled for next week, Fri. and Sat., Mar. 20-21, and is an excellent opportunity for networking, brainstorming and learning. The OSN conference provides resources and information on a variety of topics such as environmentally-friendly building processes and business p

ractices, water resources, farming, purchasing local products and transportation, agriculture, daily living and more.

Register now online at the Oklahoma Sustainability Network Web site.

Friday conference speakers will include city leaders from Greensburg, Kan., who will discuss their green rebuilding efforts after a May 2007 tornado leveled nearly the entire city. On Saturday, William Greider, former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, will be the keynote speaker. Greider will discuss relevant and timely topics such as how economic and political forces have brought us to the financial crisis of the day, and how a return to our nation’s core values will bring a better, more fulfilling society. To see the full slate of programming go to OSN’s Web site.

Come learn and share with others about:

  • Energy- speakers include Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Robert Wegener, who will explore the latest developments in alternative energy and coal burning po

    wer plants.

  • Activism sessions will teach you how to incorporate sustainable practices at home and work.You’ll also learn how put your own activism to work.
  • Water rightsand the importance of water quality for recreational use. Oklahoma Attorney General, Drew Edmondson, will discuss protecting water resources. Oklahoma Secretary of Environment, J.D. Strong, will lead a panel discussion on water rights.
  • Agriculture sessions take a look at urban farming, the Community Food Project, and agriculture market concentration.
  • Farmers markets and food cooperatives will be one of several panel discussion topics. Bob Waldrop, founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and local advocate for social and environmental responsibility, will lead the panel.
  • Sustainable daily living featuring Trathen Heckman, founder and executive director of California-based Daily Acts, an organization that promotes and educates on earth-friendly lifestyles for individuals. Check him out at
  • Transportation including sessions on electric vehicles, transit-oriented development and freight and passenger railroad transportation.
  • Business and nonprofittracks will explore marketing green business, real estate, green building codes, alternative business structures, business pollution prevention and marketing nonprofits.
  • Education topics focus on sustainability and the student body, sustainable university curriculum, the sustainable campus and the Oklahoma Farm to School Program featuring representatives from Tulsa University, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Sustainability Network Conference is March 20-21 at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, and begins with registration at 8:15 a.m. each day. Admission is $75 for both days or $42.50 for single day registration. The OSN Conference is presented by the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and hosted by Sustainable Edmond. To register or to get times and further information, go here.

Please forward this information to anyone you who might be interested in attending. Hope to see you there!

Infinity and Beyond

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Energy, Public Works, Shauna Lawyer Struby, State Government, Transition Town | Posted on 27-02-2009


by Shauna Lawyer Struby

I love Buzz Lightyear. His optimism in the face of reality (believing he can fly on pop-up wings), makes this diminutive Toy Story hero full of geeky bravura and sincerity incredibly endearing. But it is his mouse-sized roar of, “To infinity and beyond!” that makes him my way cool, sustainable hero.

You’ve probably noticed energy discussions are as ubiquitous as chewing gum these days. The growing awareness we’ve got to do something has folks from cowpokes to CEOs grappling with their “holy electricity switch” moment, that dark point in time they realize cheap, easy energy days are floating away like so many plastic Wal-Mart bags in a sweeping prairie wind.

But start talking about designing sustainable energy systems and things get considerably dicier. While just about everyone supports being energy independent, the notion that the equivalent of Star Trek’s dilithium crystals will be found to satisfy our energy addiction is so deeply embedded in our psyche that some of our elected leaders tend to grasp at any energy solution like desperate junkies in need of a fix. 

The recent deceptive blathering about nuclear power in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives is a perfect case in point. Two bills were approved by the House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee Feb. 17 after nuclear energy advocates manipulated the fear factor that other energy sources alone such as solar, wind and geothermal, will not be enough to meet future power needs.

While there are many reasons nuclear energy is not a sustainable option (and reasons why other truly clean renewable energies like wind and solar are), one of the most under discussed reasons for axing nuclear energy out of any future energy mix is this — nuclear energy production is totally dependent on yet another finite resource — uranium. Dr. David Fleming, author of “The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy” estimates if the entire world’s electricity were generated by nuclear power, we’d have around three years of uranium left and writes:

“Shortages of uranium — and the lack of realistic alternatives — leading to interruptions in supply, can be expected to start in the middle years of the decade 2010-2019, and to deepen thereafter.”

Clearly nuclear energy is not a Buzz Lightyear, “infinity and beyond” option. And even more obviously, we need to dig deep into proposed energy solutions and thoroughly evaluate them with a stringent list of sustainable criteria.

A few thoughts on the criteria:

  • What is the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) for the resource? Energyreturnonenergyinvested_edited-1
  • What is the carbon footprint of the energy source? Carbonfootprintenergysources_edited-1
  • What is the water footprint of the energy source?
  • What is the waste footprint of the energy source?
  • With all environmental, waste, water, infrastructure and production costs factored in, how much does the energy cost per kilowatt hour?
  • Since taxpayers subsidize our energy systems, who will profit and how much, i.e. what are the CEO and executive staff salaries, perks and bonuses of the energy producing company, and what is the anticipated return to shareholders on new infrastructure?
  • Are the energy company’s middle and lower-level employees sustainably and equitably compensated with living wages and adequate benefits?
  • How will the proposed energy source impact the area where production is located, the people, non-human animals, eco-system and general environment?
  • What other factors do we need to be thinking about?

As Rob Hopkins notes in “The Transition Handbook” a future with less energy is inevitable. Richard Heinberg extensively covers many of the various pros and cons of a variety of energy sources in his latest Museletter, which beautifully illustrates the depths of the challenges facing us and the urgent need for massive energy conservation programs.

The Transition Movement, founded by Hopkins, takes these realities and helps us see them as opportunities for creatively rethinking how we live in the world and how we use energy, to envision something better, something hopeful, less toxic to ourselves, to our fellow species and congruent with this amazing planet we call home. The first Transition Town initiative in Oklahoma, Transition Town OKC, launched last month, aims to enhance opportunities for our communities to imagine, envision and implement this energy transition together, to capture the power of every person's creativity and move us together toward a positive future.

We know reducing energy consumption will go a long way toward solving the energy puzzle, as will investment in energy technology and clean, truly renewable energy resources, but every energy technology and resource needs adequate and thorough vetting using sustainable criteria. And that means thinking not just about the next 10, 20 or even 50 years, but in Buzz Lightyear speak, “To Infinity and beyond!”

Getting To Know My Inner Little Red Hen

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Books, Food and Drink, Locavore, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Tips | Posted on 12-01-2009


by Shauna Lawyer Struby

I have a confession – I’ve never been very good at making yeasty-type bread. Try as I might, bread-making efforts in my 30-plus years of cooking have resulted in heavy loaves that more closely resemble bricks. I’ve suffered great guilt about my lack of yeasty prowess, and over the last few years, as sustainability has turned our minds to learning how to do things for ourselves again, or ‘reskilling’ as it is sometimes called, I’ve dreaded the day when the next thing to do on my self-sufficiency to-do list would be learning to make bread.

Praise to the Goddess of Yeasty Muses, fortunately for me a couple of bright folk, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, of Minneapolis, found a way to make bread that makes my bread-making deficiency moot. For about the past three weeks I’ve been using their Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method (also featured in the December 2008/January 2009 issue of Mother Earth News magazine). As Hertzberg & Francois note, the secret to their method is amazingly simple. Here’s what Hertzberg says about it in the Mother Earth News article:

“It all came down to one fortuitous discovery: Pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough keeps well in the refrigerator.”

As a result of their discovery, I am happy to report I can now make beautiful, crusty loaves of bread that look like they belong on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine. Beyond the looks, the bread is moist on the inside and has that delicious multi-dimensional flavor so prized in bread-making. As an added bonus, the dough which is mixed and stored ahead of the baking process, can be used to quickly make pizza crust and a whole host of other delectable meals, breads and pastry delights, making it a great kitchen aid for busy folk with little time for meal prep.

So far I’ve only experimented with the bread and pizza, and at every holiday outing where I lugged either item, both brought rave reviews. But here’s the real icing on the cake (uh, bread) – the method’s authors estimate the cost is about $0.50 per loaf.

The method is easy, simple and really does take very little time. There’s no kneading or punching. The five minutes a day refers to the actual time you’re actively involved with the dough shaping and getting it ready to bake. The bread is easily made with equipment any kitchen has on hand, although I did purchase a food-grade container to keep my pre-mixed dough in the refrigerator, and my guess is the recommended baking stone and pizza peel would take the final product to the next level. The article in Mother Earth News gives you the basic recipe and process but there’s also a book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking, which goes into much greater detail with tips and techniques, and a bundle of recipes for peasant loaves, flatbreads and pizzas, and enriched breads and pastries.

 To add some sustainability to this process, last week I took organic hard red winter wheat berries I purchased from GOOrganic Whole Wheat through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and ground the berries in our coffee grinder using the espresso setting which rendered a fine wheat flour. I doubt this will work for grinding large quantities of flour long-term, but until I settle on a wheat mill, it will do.

And about the Little Red Hen – I think she was on to something. Eating this bread is not only a pleasure-filled tasting sensation, but it brings a dimension of wholeness, comfort and security to our lives. Comfort in the aroma and taste of baking bread, wholeness and security in knowing our bread is made from healthy ingredients. Here’s to finding your own inner Little Red Hen.

Do You Have Post-Petroleum Stress Disorder?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Current Affairs, Energy, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Tips | Posted on 17-11-2008


by Shauna Lawyer Struby 

"And so I’ve come to conclude that all the predictions—both good and bad—tell us absolutely nothing about what is possible. Trends and events can only relate to what is probable. Probabilities are abstractions. Possibilities are the stuff of life, visions to act upon, doors to walk through. Pessimism and optimism are both distractions from living life fully.”

            —Tom Atlee, author of Crisis Fatigue and the Co-Creation of Positive Possibilities, Co-Intelligence Institute

Over the last couple of months, in private conversations with friends, I've increasingly heard these words, "I feel overwhelmed," usually uttered in hushed tones within the context of discussing the constant drumbeat of our Trifecta of Emerging Crises—economic tsunami, peak oil, and climate change. The sentiment that usually follows is, “It’s scary.”

The comments come from people with a wide range of perspectives in all walks of life. Regardless of who they are, I can relate in this age of unending what-ifs—what if there’s a global pandemic, a catastrophic interruption in oil supply, food supplies, nuclear terrorist attack, hungry hordes of people roaming the streets. I’ve watched my mind jerk from one worst case scenario to the next over the last few years, in fear for my life and that of my children, spouse, family and friends, trying to decide whether to run for the hills or hunker down and hope for the best while refining and tweaking my lifestyle for whatever comes my way. 

Plenty of magazines, books, websites, and experts give us advice about how to downsize our lifestyles, live more simply, or just survive, but trying to manage this humongous data stream from experts and pundits, some days my mind just shuts down. The reality: the enormity of transitioning from an instant gratification lifestyle baked in cheap energy and topped with unsustainable supplies of credit is a big task comprising not simply changing a lifestyle but changing the heart and mind as well. Therein lays the challenge. As author Rob Hopkins notes in The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience, “ … the process of deciding to change and then changing … is more subtle and sophisticated than that.”

Untitled2 Hopkins writes that enabling change has always been the Holy Grail of the environmental movement, but that it’s remained frustratingly elusive. His theory: we’ve failed to engage people on a large scale,  and certainly not on the scale needed to address peak oil and climate change, and not because we don’t understand the problems. We do! Rather, we never really understood change, how it happens, what it entails.

In our well-intentioned push for change, we try to engage people in action by, as Hopkins notes, “ … painting apocalyptic visions of the future as a way of scaring people into action,” with the result being many people experience what Hopkins calls ‘post-petroleum stress disorder.’

This stress disorder can exhibit itself in a variety of ways—see if you recognize any of these symptoms below (more on each the symptoms here):

  • clammy hands or nausea and mild palpitations
  • a sense of bewilderment and unreality
  • an irrational grasping at unfeasible solutions
  • fear
  • outbreaks of nihilism and/or survivalism
  • denial
  • exuberant optimism
  • the 'I always told you so' syndrome

How can we cope with change, with the “dark nights of the soul” within our own hearts and minds? Hopkins recommends that we:

    1)    Be aware of the feelings and realize they are natural.

    2)    Seek to generate what Chris Johnstone calls “inspirational dissatisfaction,” where the feelings generated motivate us to make changes in our lives. Acknowledge the change we want to see starts with us, and see this as an opportunity to rethink basic assumptions.

    3)    Finally and probably most importantly, don’t rush it! Change occurs in increments or stages. Take some time to sit with awareness and realizations as they are revealed to you. It may feel uncomfortable, but as Hopkins notes, within the feelings lies “a call to adventure,” one that with time, you will come to see as a positive transition in your life.

I encourage all of us, myself included, to help ourselves and others by:

    1)    Checking out The Transition Handbook and at the very least reading the chapters covering the psychology of change.

    2)    Harnessing the power of a positive vision (see chapter seven of Hopkins’ book).

In his book, Hopkins includes a long quote from Tom Atlee. I opened this post with part of that quote and include more of the same to close it. His words eloquently speak to this pivotal and hopeful place where we find ourselves.

“I think the emerging crises transcend such false end games like optimism and pessimism … I think the call is to act like a spiritually healthy person who has just learned they have heart disease: We can use each dire prognosis as a stimulant for reaching more deeply into life and co-creating positive change.”

For more information on Transition Culture, Rob Hopkins and The Transition Handbook, go here.

Generation to Nowhere or Generation Grown-Up?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Science, Shauna Lawyer Struby | Posted on 03-10-2008


by Shauna Lawyer Struby

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”       - Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

The above is an ancient perspective, derived from a philosophy extending back tens of thousands of years. According to the Basic Call to Consciousness, in an address given by the Hau de no sau nee, a/k/a the Iroquois Confederacy in Geneva, Switzerland in 1977, from the above ancient perspective, modern humanity is seen as …

“an infant occupying a very short space of time in an incredibly long spectrum. It is the perspective of the oldest elder looking into the affairs of a young child and seeing that he is committing incredibly destructive folly.”                                                           

1868Now flash back seven generations ago—140 years—it was 1868, two years after the end of the Civil War and a scant nine years since the drilling of the first modern commercial oil well near the town of Titusville, PA in 1859. In California, the oil industry was taking off (ala There Will be Blood). As the Industrial Revolution, fueled by coal-fired steam engines, roared across the continent, American Indians were forced from their native lands and onto reservations, and the magnificent bison, North America’s largest land mammals, were slaughtered by the millions, almost to the point of extinction.

By the end of the Industrial Revolution—generally considered to be sometime in the early 1900s—virtually every aspect of daily life had changed for American families. Due to industrial agriculture, food supplies swelled. With more food, population skyrocketed, and the modern world gave birth to many beneficial health and medical advances along with Coca Cola, computers, umpteen varieties of Ritz crackers, just to name a few of an increasingly complex array of consumer goods and technologies, and so much more, all embraced by modern humanity as the best thing since… well…probably the wheel, fire and sliced bread, not necessarily in that order.   


Fast forward to 2008. The earth is home to 6.7 billion people. Ocean ecosystems are in decline. Bird, bee, and fish populations are also in decline. Clean air and water, adequate energy supplies, resource depletion, all are an increasing challenge, and climate change is morphing so fast that almost daily researchers release new studies documenting the rapid and alarming rate of change.

If this were the plot of a disaster movie, we’d be pegging the unnamed extras doomed to expire. But life in 2008 is not a movie, and we are the unnamed extras along with countless other species.

By any measure, modern society is indeed the young child committing incredibly destructive folly, seemingly without much forethought. Where do we go from here?

Maybe it’s time to grow up.

Growing up means managing more than one thing at a time. It means thinking beyond today or five years or even 10 or 20 years. It means liberating our minds from failed ideologies and dogmas and embracing creative, cooperative and analytical ideas for solutions. It means building resilient, regenerative, sustainable communities and rigorously applying these standards to proposed endeavors. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it means considering the impact of whatever solutions we propose on the next seven generations.

Growing up isn’t always easy. Yet, as most of us who’ve done it know, it is an opportunity rich with potential and deep meaning. By incorporating the wisdom of the Great Law of the Iroquois into our lives, by using our imaginations to collectively innovate and evolve toward regenerative, sustainable, resilient communities, by finding a way of being in the world that, as the architect William McDonough says …

“loves all the children of all species for all time,”

not only can we change our communities for the better, but rather than going down in history as the Generation to Nowhere, we can become Generation Grown-Up.

Her2148e’s to thinking about 2148.

A Locavore’s Dilemma

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Food and Drink, Locavore, Shauna Lawyer Struby, Travel | Posted on 18-08-2008


 by Shauna Lawyer Struby

The ribbon of highway stretched before us, the corn was as tall as an elephant’s eye, and the hawks were definitely making lazy circles in the sky. While strains of the famous lyrical creations of Woody Guthrie and Rodgers and Hammerstein were making busy circles in my head, my family and I weren’t in Oklahoma or Kansas. We were actually in Iowa City, Iowa, a happening little burg, home to the University of Iowa, and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I’d just completed a heady week-long workshop on novel writing held the last week in July, and my family and I were heading out in our gas miserly Toyota Prius to explore Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Black Hills of South Dakota for our summer vacation. Wisconsin 053

 As avid locavores (a snappy word two ladies out in California came up with for those choosing to eat locally grown or produced food), we prefer whenever possible to cook or dine on locally produced food at locally owned establishments. At home here in Oklahoma City, we eat as much as possible from the OSU/OKC Farmers Market, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and our own garden and seldom eat at chain restaurants, believing we build stronger, more self-sufficient communities by keeping it local.

Given typical American road fare consists of wave after wave of McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, and gigantic truck stops with rows of empty calories ripe for the picking, we knew doing the locavore thing on the road could well prove to be an order taller than the proverbial corn in Kansas in August. But during my week in Iowa City I’d already dined on several delicious meals made from wonderfully fresh ingredients sourced from local farms, scarfed down some fabulous pastries and cookies from the weekly farmers market, and there were plenty of Buy fresh, buy local signs scattered throughout the town. The luck I’d had so far with chowing local goodness made me think perhaps my family and I could tackle the rest of the trip with the locavore principle.

First night out in Madison, Wisconsin, we tracked down a restaurant called Harvest using a Wisconsin culinary guide. Later we found out Harvest was named by Organic Style magazine as one of the top 20 restaurants in America, and most recently named one of America's top Farm-to-Table restaurants by Gourmet Magazine.

While Harvest was a little pricey for our budget, since we’d been saving for the vacation, we decided to splurge. I’m happy to say it was worth every penny. From delicate slow-roasted beets, to the succulent Lange Family Farm pork loin, to the artisan cheese tray, this stumbled upon dining experience was total flavor-filled pleasure, a sensational treat for the taste buds.

Wisconsin 050 The next day we headed to Eau Claire and happened upon a roadside farmer’s stand where we picked up beautiful fresh cherries, blueberries, a couple of creamy Wisconsin cheeses, a fresh-baked crusty baguette, and spicy salami. Picnicking like this from farmer’s stands, cheese shops, and small retail food cooperatives was budget friendly, and turned out to be our lunch strategy for the rest of the trip.

After the luck we had in Iowa City and Madison, we went on to sample similar tasty local dinner fare at The Deep Water Grille in Ashland, Wis., and The Craftsman Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minn., cooked a dinner ourselves one night from a bevy of fresh stuffs picked up at the Chequamegon Food Co-op in Ashland, Wis., and later the Saint Peter Food Cooperative and Deli in Saint Peter, Minn. became yet another local food oasis on our journey.

We didn’t quite manage to source every meal locally on our vacation, but in the end we came a lot closer to solving the travelling locavore’s dilemma than I’d ever dreamed possible, all of which seems to prove the sustainable food movement is not only very much alive, but thriving and growing. I can even imagine a day when we’ll be able to make a trip in our plug-in hybrid cars or onboard a roomy train, when every meal means dining on fresh, healthy, local and sustainable food. Wouldn’t that be a trip? Minnesota, south dakota, badlands 001

What about your summer vacation? Have any recent experiences or tips for solving the travelling locavore’s dilemma you’d care to share?

Tips for eating locally on the road:

•    Check out for grocery stores, farmers markets, farms and restaurants.

•     Before travelling, browse your destination state’s tourism Web site for dining recommendations. Most offer a searchable dining database, free travel guides, and many now feature agritourism destinations like u-pick farms, farmer’s markets and other local harvest destinations.

•    Wherever you travel, take time to chat with the locals. Employees at independent bookstores, locally owned gift shops, and food cooperatives are a great source of local food and dining knowledge.

•    If at all possible when road tripping, take the back roads. Not only do you avoid the unpleasant truck juggernaut and concrete jungle of interstate travelling, but you’re much more likely to find farmer’s stands and locally owned restaurants with delicious homemade fare.