Cam’s Podcast on “Two Beers With Steve”

By Cam Mather

I did a podcast last week on “Two Beers With Steve”. This is a very cool website where Steve chats with people who have an alternative view on reality, or at least provide information that’s not always readily available from the mainstream media. He and his guests discuss topics such as peak oil, the financial crisis and the generally challenging times we find ourselves in.

The reality for many people is a little different than what is being presented on mainstream media news each night. Despite the reports of the economy being back on track, there are still lots of people without jobs, losing their homes, and struggling to feed their families and to make ends meet. I think it can be helpful for those people to hear their reality being discussed by a couple of people sitting around having a beer. Not that I was actually drinking beer. We did the interview in the morning and I wanted to stay lucid.

Steve’s story is that he chose to leave a job in the steel industry because he didn’t feel it had much of a future. These sorts of jarring changes take great intestinal fortitude to do voluntarily, rather than waiting for a pink slip to make the decision for you. It’s certainly something I emphasize in my book “Thriving During Challenging Times.” NOW is the time you should be taking a proactive approach to your future. If you still have a job and income you should reducing debt, making your home more energy efficient, installing systems that make your home more energy independent and building up savings.  It’s tough to do, but even harder if your hours at work are cut back or your job is eliminated.

It’s human inertia. We find it hard to react before things hit the crisis stage. In 1998 a massive ice storm caused huge damage to power systems in eastern Canada and the northern U.S. and many homes (and people) were without power for weeks. This turned peoples’ lives upside down. Pipes froze, homes had no water or light or heat, gas stations couldn’t pump gas and the system ground to a halt. As I’ve presented my renewable energy and independence workshops throughout the area I ask people how many days they were without power. Most say it was at least 3 days, some were without for a week, some for 2 weeks and some had no power for 3 or 4 weeks. Then I ask what people have done? How many have bought generators? Installed a woodstove? Have a “Plan B”? It’s amazing how few of the people affected by that ice storm have done anything to prepare for a recurrence. Even after having had their lives turned upside down, once the power came back on it was back to life as usual. They went back into “life will continue as it always has” mode.

Steve must have liked my rant about this event because he posted it on You Tube.

The strategy of doing nothing to prepare may work fine or it may not. I would suggest that it’s time to be proactive in the independence department. That it’s time to get over  that inertia and develop a plan. Part of that plan should be to plant a garden. I sent Steve a copy of my book “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook.” We had toyed with the idea of including recipes in the book, but in the end we decided not to with one exception. We did include the recipe for Michelle’s Orange Spinach Salad which is an unbelievably tasty and healthy way to eat raw spinach. It turns out that Steve’s wife made the salad and took this amazing photo of it. Thanks Kate! We have a cold frame full of spinach so I guess I know what I’m having for dinner!

2 Responses to “Cam’s Podcast on “Two Beers With Steve””

  • As you mentioned Braden, it’s all a question of priorities. In our books (“$mart Power” and “The Renewable Energy Handbook” and “Thriving During Challenging Times”) we encourage people to first take steps to reduce the amount of electricity that they use. It is much less expensive to SAVE energy, than to generate it. Once you have made your home as energy efficient as possible, then it’s time to look at renewable energy sources. Cam always recommends a solar thermal panel first… it heats your hot water with the sun, and is much less expensive than solar electric (or PV). Not everyone has the money or the space for solar panels or a wind turbine and so that is when it is important to buy your electricity from a green producer. In Canada, Bullfrog Power is one example. They buy their electricity from wind, solar or hydro (water dams) which are all renewable sources. When you buy your electricity from a supplier such as Bullfrog Power you are putting your money where your mouth is and telling govt’s etc that you support green power!
    In terms of priorities… Cam and I have never earned very much money… always much less than the median Canadian income… but we have always made the environment our priority and we make decisions about how to spend our money based on what is good for the planet!

  • Braden:

    Hey Cam,

    I listened to parts of the podcast and agree that being able to use Solar Power is beneficial but for many families it is not possible because of the cost. Though in Australia, there are a number of homes with solar powered heaters on roofs and it’s advertised on TV, thought Australia does not recycle compared to what we do which is funny. My question is how do the majority of people get more independent using solar energy if we don’t have the money in the first place considering the cost of living is high and we have other priority’s?


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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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