Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bits and Pieces - Gardening, Cooking, Greening, GMO, Organic

Dear Folks,

I have been collecting bits of pieces of information I wanted to share with you.  The problem is I have also been trying to get ready for a vacation and the result is I have not posted as I collected.  While I wanted to give you some additional thoughts on each of the "bits" I have to do something with them now before I create a monster of a rambling post :-)

Let me start out with a quote from Ghandi, which is so appropriate to our time and the focus of many of you and myself.

"To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi

My reader Neyeema shared that with me.

When I look at the stated focus or purpose of "sustainable" I find all sorts of references to it that seem to be one of those ???? moments.

Sustainable - Definition from Websters
 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damage.
So I think that is pretty clear.
Then I look at Monsanto's "mission" statment

"Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality."
Food quality, yes, hmmmm?
Can we afford not to go organic?
A very interesting article on the subject.
From the studies mentioned above and from an increasing body of case studies, it is becoming evident that organic farming does not result in neither catastrophic crop losses due to pests nor in dramatically reduced yields as many critics from agribusiness and in academia would have us believe. A report from UC Davis predicted a 36% reduction in tomato yields in California if conventional insecticides and fungicides were eliminated (Agricultural Issues Center 1988).

On the contrary, organic farming systems have proven that they can prevent crop loss to pests without any synthetic pesticides. They are able to maintain high yields, comparable to conventional agriculture without any of the associated external costs to society. 

Research Confirms Organic Farming Produces Higher Yields
But a spate of new research has shown that organic farming actually yields better results than modern techniques when evaluated more holistically. A series of peer-reviewed papers published by the international journal, Nature, showed that organic methods for growing rice, corn and wheat all produced significantly higher yields—and at less the cost—than monoculture farms.
So there are many folks out there who 1) don't believe the organic foods make a difference health wise, 2) feel that most organic foods are priced too high to be a good enough alternative to factory-farmed foods, and 3) don't believe there are health or other consequences to factory farming or in the alternative believe that the consequences are out-weighed by the benefits.

A new study out of the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, recently found Bt toxin, a component of certain genetically-modified (GM) crops, in human blood samples for the first time.
Set to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology the new study shreds the false notion that Bt is broken down by the digestive system, and instead shows that the toxin definitively persists in the bloodstream.
Scientists predict this year's "dead zone" of low-oxygen water in the northern Gulf of Mexico will be the largest in history – about the size of Lake Erie – because of more runoff from the flooded Mississippi River valley.
If you have never heard of the "Dead Zone" you should be doing some reading.  When the Mississippi River waters fill with the run off from factory farmed land (fertilizers and pesticides) each year in the spring, the resulting algae bloom in the gulf chokes out the oxygen and the fish kill is enormous.  This year's (2011) dead zone is expected to be the largest in history - the size of Lake Erie between 8,500 square miles and about 9,400 square miles - The impact is not just about a 'temporary' die off of fish, but of the economic and environmental consequences to the fishing industry in the already-damaged Gulf.  40% of seafood harvested in the 48 states comes from the Gulf.  Louisiana's economic lively-hood is directly affected by these kinds of man-made challenges.

The United Nations says world food production must increase by up to 100 percent by 2050 and focus on greener methods to sustain an expected 9 billion population.

Put politics aside for a moment and consider the total picture.

If factory-farming methods produce environmental issues like dead zones, reducing other food sources like fish, if chemicals wind up in our bodies as a result of eating franken-foods, or we consume too much poor quality 'generic' food (the GMO and hybrid produce and grains are simply not as healthy for us), so we take more supplements to balance what we do not get from our food, if the ever decreasing nutrient density of the soil continues as its current pace, no amount of available farmable-land will produce enough food to feed the 7 billion people now on earth, let alone the future population.

Joel Salatin is a sustainable guru to many.  His Polyface farm in Virginia is a permaculture shrine of sorts.  He has the resolve and energy to continue getting the message out.
Heirloom seeds
Heirloom seeds are historic.  They may only be 50 years old or may be centuries old.  Passed down from generation to generation.  Reliable, filled with flavor and nutrient dense, these seeds are being carefully and loving preserved by more and more individuals and companies.

The People Who Feed Us is a group dedicated to focusing - in this case with videos - on the farmers and ranchers and other food producers who bring us the food we eat.  Take come time and check out some of their videos.  The Joel Salatin and Baker Creek videos above were posted by them.

Elegant Edible Landscaping services --Free classes at Harper's Nursery
Check out these folks and their classes at locally owned Nursey Harper's
I know the above information is diverse and I hope I have not glazed your eyes over so much that you lose the points I am trying to make.
Have a wonderful day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady