Comment 2622

By adrian (registered) | Posted December 14, 2006 at 08:04:33

Sounds like a fascinating book. Although I'm not ready to drop all non-human powered technology just yet (how do the 'Minimites' heat their houses and light them at night?) your question "What other technologies that currently consume non-renewable energy and produce pollution and greenhouse gases could benefit from an innovative, human-powered redesign?" is thought-provoking.

A lot of powered kitchen tools can be replaced with simple, human-powered ones, and no innovation is required. There is almost nothing a food processor can do that can't be achieved using a good chef's knife: chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing. Only the puree eludes the knife, and that can be achieved with other means as well.

Not only does the knife replace this powered tool, it is also far easier to clean and thus uses minimal amounts of water (and takes less time, too).

The powered mixer can be replaced with the masher or the whisk, depending on whether you're making mashed potatoes or whipped cream. Spices that come pre-ground (like pepper) can be purchased whole and ground using a mortar and pestle, which also improves the flavour significantly.

By far the most ridiculous offender when it comes to unnecessarily powered kitchen tools is the electric knife. Like the electric toothbrush, the very existence of the electric knife is an utter mystery to me. There is nothing quite as tacky as sitting at a beautiful Thanksgiving or Christmas spread while someone hacks away at the turkey with one of these mini hedge clippers.

In the same vein of ludicrous inventions, consider the treadmill. This device uses large amounts of power simply to simulate the act of walking. One does not need to be innovative to imagine an alternative that would be better for the planet.

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