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BETTER TIMES: The Cookbook and Almanac of Useful Information for Poor People

Better Times Webzine Departments

Community (whole systems) .... Cooking and Eating ... Crafting and Making

Disaster Response ... Environment ... Energy

Enterprise ... Frugality ... Growing

Housing ... Preserving and Processing ... Simple Living

Spirituality ... Preparedness Nuggets ... Original Justpeace Simple Living Page

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Enterprise TOP

Appalachia Science in the Public Interest, Fr. Fritsch, who's interview is linked in Crossroads, works here. A rural sustainable living program, has two appropriate technology demonstration projects with low cost buildings, composting toilets, alternative "home grown" energy research. Publishes excellent technical reports on how to build a solar cooker, compost heap, do recycling, farm forests, some of which are on the website (click on technical reports). Looks like they're doing excellent, practical work.

Farmer Direct Marketing, from the US Department of Agriculture.

Farmer Direct Marketing Publications.

Farmer Direct Marketing Newsletter, June-July 1999,

Experiments in Sustainable Urban Living, rooftop gardening, compost hot water heaters, rainwater harvesting, greywater, strawbale housing, tips.

How to build a wood fired oven and start a home bakery. Being a tried and true method of getting together our daily bread and having some loaves to sell.

Adobe Oven Page, how one family built an abode oven, step by step.

Earthovens.com, a one-woman enterprise teaching people how to build and bake in clay ovens.-

Alternative Technology Association, Australian site. Publishes booklets on how to build your own wind generator, low voltage appliances, and other subjects.

Institute for Local Self Reliance, from raising fish in a basement to organizing a community cooperative.

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, sustainable farming information center from the National Center for Appropriate Technology. Sustainable agriculture organizations and publications.

Economic Development Links, non-profits, sustainable living, many categories.

Farmer Direct Marketing online newsletter, from the US Department of Agriculture. http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/news_04_99.htm

Country Home Magazine simple living and homesteading. http://www.countryhomemag.com/

Self Help and Resource Exchange or SHARE, an international network of local community organizations engaged in self-help food distribution systems.

Cooperatives and Cooperation from the University of Colorado, an excellent selection of links to clearinghouses, essays, and food, community, housing, consumer, workers', agricultural and rural, health care, energy, internet cooperatives.

How to start a food buying club, from Natural Life magazine.

Community Development Links Bookmark this one for sure! Great collection of links relating to community development.

Virtual Library on Micro-credit. Find out the latest news on micro-enterprise and micro-credit activities that enable people to help themselves.

Justpeace Front Page about Co-ops many links, Catholic connections.

Co-op Month Home Page, from the National Cooperative Month Planning Committee, activities, history, and links.

Northeast Co-op, a nice site, can refer you to co-ops in the northeast and can help you start your own co-op.

Wedge Community Co-op, a Minnesota cooperation.

Frontier Natural Products Co-op, a co-op supplying co-ops

Breedlove Dehydrated Foods, a nonprofit organization in Lubbock, Texas that provides low cost food to charities for use in hunger relief projects (US and international). It owns its own state-of-the-art processing facility, that has provided over 28 million pounds of dehydrated vegetables (mostly potatoes and carrots) since 1994. It is the first full-scale, non-profit facility of its kind in the world. It processes 100,000 pounds of food per day, or enough dehydrated product for about 450,000 one cup servings. They can package 850,000 servings per day, and provide several blends including rice, TVP, onions, potatoes, carrots. One million servings can be provided at a cost of about 3.1 cents per one cup serving. This is a MUST SEE and TELL all your friends. Funds to operate the plant come from donations, processing fees for non-profit agencies, and some retail sales to the public. No government funds are involved. Individuals and families may purchase their product via the web at Harvest Ladle Foods, which is owned by Breedlove. Their prices are very reasonable for dehydrated food products.

Lehman's Non-electric Catalog, from the Kidron, Ohio company that supplies the Amish, everything you need to live without electricity.

Working at home, page of links about starting your own business, including how to avoid the various scams in this microenterprise area.

Ecomall, a gateway for businesses offering eco-friendly products via the internet.

New Pioneer Hardware private catalog company offering tools of interest for simple and frugal lifestyles.



Environment TOP

Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, subscribe or review the archives of a weekly email on environmental issues.

Housing TOP

The Last Straw, a quarterly journal of straw bale construction and natural building.

Sustainable Building Sourcebook, from a to z, access and information.

Lighthook's strawbale house page. Information and links.

Surfin' Strawbale Links List, aptly described as "The List" to pursue straw bale building.

Cob Cottage, information about this low-tech building technology.

Down to earth building bee, building solutions for sustainable communities.

What is cob? Basic info, plus beautiful pictures, of hand sculpted homes.

Natural Building Photo Gallery, beautiful and unusual homes.

Strawbale Housing Photo Gallery, photos of historic and contemporary buildings.

Strawbale Construction Photo Gallery, from unloading the bales to the roof.

Skillful Means information about straw bale construction and sustainable building practices from an experienced architectural and construction firm. Check out their What's New? page for information about their "mission to Mongolia," where one of the firm's principles is teaching straw bale construction. If you think a strawbale house would look tacky, check out the photos on this page of beautiful strawbale homes.

Earthships are a low-tech, cost-effective, Earth-friendly, affordable housing option (at least, if you can get past the local building code commissars).

Earthfriendly and Self-Sufficient Architectures also from the U of Colorado.

Jan's COB and Natural Building website, access to do-it-yourself, alternative, and affordable building technologies.

Access to Straw Bale Housing great site with links about this alternative and affordable building technology.

Sustainable Architecture, Building, and Culture links and content for ecological building.



Growing TOP

Farmer's Place, a cyber farm that "mirrors" a real working homestead.

Growing your own food, access, links, catalogs, publications.

Back to Eden E-journal, on-line magazine devoted to all things sustainable, emphasis on the small homestead, animal husbandry, cooking, gardening.

Agropolis, from the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program, "the place to go for information to help you grow gardens and crops; take care of your pets and livestock, become more environmentally responsible; prepare nutritious meals safely; and other information to help you and your family cope with the everyday happenings in your life.

Square Foot Gardening, less work, more harvest.

Heirloom Seeds, offers a selection of non-hybrid seeds.

Redwood City Seed Company, alternative seed company founded in 1971, offers old-fashioned open-pollinated vegetables, herb seeds, and medicinal plants, including many endangered species cultivars. Check out their hot pepper growing tips...

Urban Agriculture Notes, by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture. Urban farming is a way that poor people can better their lives by making their own bootstraps to pull themselves up with. This page is full of articles and reports about them that's doin'. The world's urban population is growing at twice the rate of total population growth; by 2025 urban population will be 5.34 billion, half of whom will be living in Asian cities. 800 million people today practice urban agriculture, growing 10% of the world's food supply (UN figures). Urban and Periurban small and medium-sized enterprise development for sustainable vegetable production and marketing systems a study of experiences in Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines.

GardenGuides, a great on-line source for all kinds of information about growing vegetables and flowers.

Community Supported Agriculture of North America, the University of Massachusetts Extension.

American Community Gardening Association, "greening America's communities". Has a database of questions and answers related to community gardening and horticulture.

Homeless Garden Project, located in Santa Cruz, California, founded in 1990, offers a 3 year job-training and transitional employment program for homeless and marginalized people. Operates a commercial organic garden cultivating at 3 sites in the area.

Center for Rural Affairs a non-profit organization serving and advocating for America's family farms and rural communities for 25 years. Emphasis is on sustainable agriculture. Community Alliance with Family Farmers, a California site helping put farmers directly in contact with people buying food for home consumption, has FAQS about sustainable agriculture. National Agricultural Library, of the US Department of Agriculture. Access to big piles of information.

Kazarie Worm Farm What's a compost heap without red worms? Not much. Recommended to me by a friend. Prices look good.



Energy TOP

A Homemade Portable Solar Panel Generator an excellent page that explains how its author built a homemade portable solar power system, lots of excellent links, completely explains each step.

Build a solar power generator for less than $300, enough power for a small TV, or radio, cassette player, small fan, blender.

Veggie Van, OK, you take any kind of vegetable oil (used frying oil from restaurants is fine), mix it with a bit of methanol and lye, and you get glycerin soap and BIODIESEL. Pour the biodiesel into any diesel engine, and it will work fine (no modifications to the engine are necessary), and the exhaust smells like french fries. These people drove all over the country in a biodiesel powered van, and wrote a book about it. You can buy the book here, and or read for free about the wonderful world of bio-diesel.

The World of Biodiesel, links, discussion group, bio-diesel worldwide.

Carbohydrate Economy Clearing House, from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, making fuels (and other industrial projects) from veggies and other carbohydrates.

Phyllis, a database on the composition of biomass and waste. If you need the details, they are here.

Mr. Solar great access to information about living "off-the-electrical-grid". Has numerous articles about all facets of alternative energy.

Build your own generator using a lawnmower engine and an automobile alternator. No kidding, detailed plans, built it yourself.

Solstice, an on-line source for sustainable energy and development information from the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, accesses several interesting and useful email listservs.

Value Priced Inverters, an inverter is the gizmo that converts DC power (like you get from your car battery) into AC power (like runs your television, computer, or refrigerator). This is a commercial site, but their prices are really good, best I've found on the web.

Renewables for Sustainable Village Power Program access to information about local and village electrical power programs not dependent upon importing electricity from a grid.

Methane Production, detailed discussion by someone who's done it (that is, produced methane gas from manure and chopped plant matter. Can be a substitute for natural gas or propane (http://www.jrwhipple.com/sr/nf_methane.html).

Making your own fuel alcohol, hydrogen gas, and methane.

How to build a solar heater that fits into a standard window.



Preserving and Processing TOP

Online Forum on Canning and food preservation

Food Safety and Preservation, from two food and nutrition scientists. Much information about home preservation and food safety.

Food Preservation Pages, from Kansas State research and extension. Canning, freezing, pickling, drying, and sweet spreads. Modern science plus the taste of Grandma's table.

Jar Cakes, an old tradition. Better than junk food, you betcha.

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, print it on your computer printer for free, learn to preserve your own foods.

Making your own cheese, from the publishers of Countryside Magazine (established 1917).

Home Canning Magazine is a great resource, good information, links, and an extensive discussion forum.

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, on the web, in English and Spanish.

Homemade Soy Milk, save money, control quality, convert that 50 pound sack of soybeans in your pantry into something useful.

Master Mixes, make your own mixes at home from basic ingredients, save money and time, control quality.

Laurie's Veggie Burgers, make your own, save money and time, control quality, taste, and nutrition.

Prudent Food Storage. THE internet source for information about storing food (more than 300K, which is 102 pages in a print-friendly format!!!).

Save the pumpkins! Great and tasty ideas for eating and preserving pumpkins.

Home canning tips (www.home-canning.com/tips.html), lots of good information on home preservation.

Home Canning Forum networking, questions, answers, discussion forum.

Cooking and Eating TOP

Soyfoods.com access to information about and recipes using soybeans.

Searchable Online Archive of Recipes thousands and thousands.

The Vegetarian Kitchen, basics, staples, recipes, techniques, the Vegetarian Pantry.

Veggie Heaven, practical recipes and cooking tips for meatless dining.

Veggies Unite, more online information about meatless dining.

Saroj's Cookbook, opening up the diverse worlds of Indian cooking. Check out the "Bachelors' Dishes".

Southern Food at the Mining Company, although now I think it's calling itself About. Great links and resources for home cooking. More than 1000 crock pot recipes. (Crock pot recipes typically work well in solar cookers.

US Soyfoods Directory, lots of info and recipes about using the humble soybean. Is there joy in soy? More access to soybeans.

To cook a pot roast in 40 minutes, and save similar time and fuel with other foods, check out Cooking Under Pressure

The Quick and Easy Veggie Meals Under a $1.50 FAQ, piles of recipes, ideas, techniques.

www.accessone.com/~sbcn, numerous plans for solar cookers using cheap materials like cardboard boxes, black paint, and aluminum foil. \

Solar Chef, a commercially available option ... Solar Oven.

Solar Ovens are Wonderful, a nice page from a woman who has been cooking dinner with a solar oven for six years.

SunLightWorks, Inc. a commercial supplier of solar ovens and other such products.

Manual for Solar Box Cookers, a 26 page printable on-line manual on how to build and use solar cookers, published by Technology for Life, Finland.

Solar Cooking Archive, tons of information about solar cooking, including detailed step by step plans for making several different kinds of solar cookers.

Crockpot Cooking, a great way to save money on meals.

Crock Pot Recipes Index, huge collection of great recipes. Remember, most crockpot recipes can be adapted easily for solar cooking.

Christmas Recipes from one of those most useful places you find on the internet, the Southern US Cuisine pages at the Mining Company.

Real Food for Real People lots of recipes, practical stuff.

Poverty Cookbook, a great on-line cookbook for those who like good but frugal food. Similar in intent to my Better Times cookbook pages.





Community (whole systems) TOP

Real Wealth, the Genuine Progress Indicator as an alternative to the GDP or GNP as measures of economic well being.

Center for a Sustainable Economy, resources, publications, links.

Food Circle, we've featured this site before, but it keeps getting better.

Communications for a Sustainable Future, a great page of links relating to all aspect of sustainable living.

Bread for the World, see their Action Alert for this month.

Community Food Security Coalition, information, action, networking.

Community Alliance with Family Farmers public policy, sustainable agriculture, community supported agriculture.

14 essays on food security, from the Food and Agriculture Organization

Consolidation in the Food & Agriculture System, a report to the National Farmer's Union. We've featured this report before, but it is important so here it is again. Details on how giant transnational corporations (six of them, to be exact) are gobbling up the food production system, "rationalizing" it into two large cartels. Sounds almost like a conspiracy theory, except this one has facts, figures, charts and data to support the hypothesis. PS. Cargill is owned by six people.

Food Research and Action Center New data show sharp increase in food insecurity in the US. Report

Sustainable Living link directory, access to food, shelter, community.

Eco-Village Information Service links to people and places of sustainable living.

The Knapps Favorite Links page, not sure who the Knapps are, but their links are great if you want to learn more about living lightly on the Earth.

Sources of Sustainability, access to permaculture, cooperative business, gardening and agriculture, community and architecture, discussion groups, projects, and some other minor themes including unusual vegetables, potluck, silviculture, and energy.

Community Food Security Coalition. Food security is where all people have nutritionally adequate, culturally acceptable diet at all times through local non-emergency sources. Has a number of publications, access to federal money for urban agriculture (community gardens and etc.)

The Agrarian Society decentralization, distributism, small farming, United Kingdom-based.

The Food Circle, a virtual cornucopia of food-relate information, links, ideas, and options for practical personal and planetary survival, prosperity, and transformation.

Institute for Food and Development Policy, working to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger. http://www.foodfirst.org

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, some really good articles in its Resource section on globalization and agriculture. The institute is working to create environmentally and economically sustainable communities.



Spirituality TOP

View an icon of Dorothy Day ... View an icon of Archbishop Oscar Romero

Pope Affirms Right to Food, a Vatican Information Service story.

Promote Real Economic Democracy, Pope John Paul II to the Central Institute of Co-operative Banks, June 1998

We Cannot Be Resigned to World Poverty, Pope John Paul II, full text of the Angelus homily of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Sept. 27, 1998. "Where are we with our commitment?. . . In the stark contrast between insensitive rich and the poor in need of everything, God is on the latter's side. We cannot resign ourselves to the immoral spectacle of a world in which there are still people who die of hunger, who are homeless, who lack the most elementary education, who cannot find work an who are unable to receive the necessary treatment when they are ill."

Prayer of the Holy Father for the Jubilee Year

Farming Communes, article by Dorothy Day from the February 1944 Catholic Worker,

Defines personalism as the realization that one "cannot find satisfaction in this life unless he reckons that there is only God and himself." Discusses the difficulties of farming communes and the need to establish the communal aspects of Christianity. Dorothy Day writes, asking a question of Peter Maurin: " 'Do you ever become discouraged when you see our failures?' I asked Peter. 'No, because I know how deep-rooted the evil is. I am a radical and know that we must get down to the roots of the evil.' And the gentle smile he turned on me was as though he said, 'Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight steps and follow peace with all men.' "

The Story of the Lettuce Workers, article by Dorothy Day from the May 1940 Catholic Worker about a speaking/organizing tour of the west coast. Tells of many meetings and talks around San Francisco. Recalls the union busting and violence against lettuce workers near Salinas. Laments the lack of leaders to bring Catholic social teaching to the workers. Wants "fellow travelers with the poor and dispossessed," who will spread the Gospel, recognizing that the poor are "creatures of body and soul."

On Pilgrimage, Dorothy Day's column from the February 1974 Catholic Worker. Reflects on a number of economic themes: the building of churches; problems with the IRS; why they are not tax-exempt; personalist/anarchist writers and projects; Ade Bethune's Community Corporation in Rhode Island. Extols all forms of mutual aid.

Letter on Hospices, by Dorothy Day from the January 1948 Catholic Worker. Describes how Catholic Worker houses are run and the struggles with living the ideal of Christian love. Reflects on reconciling freedom and order. Maintains the primacy of the spiritual. Gives her positions on cooperation, house leadership, handling money, and the relation of the Catholic Worker to the hierarchy. Concludes by emphasizing the little way and voluntary poverty. YES, you too could start a Catholic Worker House. We did.

Ecumenical Rosary, a new devotion that uses Rosary beads, the miracles of Christ, and prayers that both Protestants and Catholics can be comfortable praying.



Crafting and Making TOP

The Brick Oven Page, from the Masonry Heater Association, domestic, commercial, sourdough,

Adobe Bakeoven.

Nicaraguan Outdoor Masonry ovens. Ovencrafters, some basics and instructions for baking in masonry ovens.

Village Bakery on the Web recipes, sourdough, questions and answers.

Haybox cooking, how to make a crockpot that doesn't require electricity. From the Center for Alternative Technology in the United Kingdom. Great info here, more tip sheets, access.

Ian Purdie's Amateur Radio Pages great source for beginners exploring amateur radio.

Herbal Salve Recipes, make them yourself in your own kitchen, grow your own herbs.

Plastic bags, a long list -- and getting longer -- of recycling uses for plastic bags, a plentiful resource in modern society.

Recycling links from them that's doin about how to do it.

Alternative Technology Internet Links, lots of information.

Homemade with love -- gifts from the kitchen, from the southern food pages at the Mining Company.

Mason Jar Craft Ideas a 101 things to do with mason jars.

Jar cakes, cakes and breads to make in mason jars.

Holiday Gift Ideas from your kitchen for those you love.

Holiday decorations, attractive, inexpensive, homemade.

Nativity Scene, print these diagrams/patterns and make your own.

Simple Living TOP

Simple Living, from Inner Explorations, a Catholic contemplative spirituality site profiled above in Spirituality.

Seeds of Simplicity, organizing and educating for voluntary simplicity, tools for children, adults, and community.

10 ways to create meaningful, yet relaxed holidays, from the just released edition of the Simple Living November-December 1998 on-line newsletter.

Domestic Church, click on the Stewardship link for information about the prudent and frugal lifestyle.

All Consuming Passion, waking up from the American Dream.

Alternatives for Simple Living, equips people of faith to live justly, challenge consumerism, and celebrate responsibly.

Simple Living, the Journal of Voluntary Simplicity,

Alternatives for Simple Living, sponsors a "Whose birthday is it anyway" campaign at Christmas, provides bulk brochures at cheap prices, customized for various religious groups, regarding this theme; will mail you a nice and informative Resource Guide via the post office.

Voluntary Simplicity, a page from Duane Elgin, author, Toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich, excerpts from the book..

Living Gently Quarterly, a magazine promoting voluntary simple and frugal lifestyles.

The Front Page, a simple living newsletter.

Simplicity Circles finding help and support for simple living.

Simple Living Network Tools and living examples, more than 3000 pages of information.

Full of Grace, a simple living newsletter with a Catholic perspective.

Simple Living big page with piles of links on simplicity, frugal living, environmental issues.

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, in Occidental, California, an intentional community offering courses in (among other things) sustainable living.



Disaster Response TOP

They ask their mothers, "Where is the cereal?" -- in vain, as they faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers' arms. Lamentations 2:12

Kosovo Regional Emergency, from Catholic Relief Services; the organization is currently assisting 200,000 refugees in the Balkans, their April 2nd estimate is that 1 million people are now displaced in and around Yugoslavia.

Red Cross World Disaster Report, summaries and highlights from the just-released 1999 report. Last year was the worst disaster year on record, tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of millions of people uprooted and displaced by disasters. They expect a decade of increasing deaths and damage from disasters.

Kosovo Humanitarian Aid and Discussion links

ReliefWeb from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Complex Emergencies, information about on-going emergencies and various countries of concern to the humanitarian community. There isn't very much good news here.

ReliefNet Home Page non-profit helping humanitarian organizations raise global awareness and encourage support for relief efforts via the Internet.

AlertNet, a news and communications service from the Reuter Foundation for the emergency relief community, has press releases from leading relief agencies, expert analyses, reviews of key issues and events, jobs noticeboard. Has a focus page on Kosovo.

Direct from the Field, reports from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world's largest humanitarian network.

DisasterRelief.Org, worldwide disaster aid and information via the internet. Some very sad and tragic stories here.

American Radio Relay League, access to all things amateur/ham radio. During emergencies and disasters, ham radio operators serve the common good by providing free communications networks to assist in recovery.

Emergency Settlement Project, a study of refugee camps.

Natural Disasters information from the Clorox company about using bleach as for emergency cleanup/sanitation during disasters, has excellent information on general preparedness for disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and floods.

Millennium Salons an on-line library of practical information concerning what to do about this problem. Non-crazy, creating resilient communities.

Frugality TOP

Frugal Living at About.com, formerly the Mining Company. Excellent access, and a weekly email report.

Running around in circles, life in debt, and the importance of getting out of debt. http://pages.ivillage.com/re/gennica/index.html

The Underground Railroad to Financial Freedom, discusses the hidden costs of "two income living".

Frugal Living Newsletter weekly email, has good stuff.

One Income Living index page of links from the frugal living pages at the mining company.

The Household Cyclopedia on-line reprint of an 1881 compendium of useful information, "10,000 recipes in all the useful and domestic arts, constituting a complete and practical library" for use in the city, on the farm, and in the home.

The Frugal Connection, a page of information geared towards urban renters, also at this cyberplace

Thoughts on Frugality. "Crumbs of lost material add up to a feast of waste at the end of our lives, to help avoid this fate, view this site,

Some hands-on techniques to save resources and money. For families ready to abandon the culture of death values of consumerism and materialism,

One Income Living in a Two Income World has good ideas for avoiding affluenza. Step by step instructions for frugality and simple living,

Living Within Your Means, class outline.

Cutting Your Grocery Bill, a collection of strategies and tips.

Frugal Family Network information, a newsletter, some good links.

Frugal Living On-Line, on-line monthly e-zine.

The Frugal Life, are you working to live or living to work? Has on-line newsletter.

My Frugal Page interesting links.

The Underground Railroad to Financial Freedom 19 page report on frugal living as a substitute for "double income" families.

The Dollar Stretcher, "living better for less", a weekly resource for simple living.

Message Forum at the Frugal Living corner of the Mining Company internet community. Post a question, find an answer (http://frugalliving.miningco.com/mpboards.htm).

TOP