tagged w/ Organic Farming
We're excited to announce that the 2011 Sustainable Foods Summit will be held this January 18th and 19th at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco. OrganicNation.tv is a proud media sponsor of the Summit and we plan to bring you the best moments via our filming, photography and live-tweeting of the events.
The Sustainable Foods Summit focuses on the leading issues the food industry faces and aims to explore new horizons in sustainability for eco-labels. Issues to be addressed include: How do organic, fair trade and other eco-labels contribute to sustainability? What role should they play in a food industry that is increasingly looking at the triple bottom line? Do they address the sustainability needs of consumers and food companies?
This special North American Summit will hone in on some of the major eco-labeling issues in the food industry, including offsetting carbon emissions, water footprints, buying local and biodiversity. For example, one session will be devoted to ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients, assessing the ecological and social impacts of raw materials in the food industry. Another session called "The Organic Plus" will provide case studies of organic food companies who are going beyond organic agricultural practices and pioneering sustainability initiatives.
Like previous events organized by Organic Monitor, the Summit will bring together key stake-holders in the food industry and debate these major issues in a high-level forum. We hope to see you there.
Twitter users: We will be using the hashtag #SFS2011 when tweeting about the Summit.
For more info visit: http://www.sustainablefoodssummit.com/We're excited to announce that the 2011 Sustainable Foods Summit will be held... more
11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food -- far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.
Birke Baehr wants us to know how our food is made, where it comes from, and what's in it. At age 11, he's planning a career as an organic farmer.11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food -- far-away... more
Havana, Cuba, is a world leader in urban agriculture. Today more than 50 per cent of Havana’s fresh produce is grown within the city limits, using organic compost and simple irrigation systems. Can we all learn from this sustainable solution to agriculture?
When the Soviet Bloc collapsed in 1989, Cuba lost its food imports and agricultural inputs from which it depended for an adequate supply of food. The US Embargo also created a shortage of petrol necessary to transport the food from the rural agriculture sector to the city. This marked the beginning of serious food shortages that shook the entire country, but most of all Havana.
When these sources where cut off and food shortages began, Havana residents responded en masse, planting food crops on porches, balconies, backyards and empty city lots. The Cuban Ministry of Agriculture and Havana's city government supported this grassroots movement, jointly forming an Urban Agriculture Department in 1994. This department first focused on securing land use rights for urban gardeners and committed itself to provide land - free of charge - to all residents who wanted to grow food in the city. Today, the Ministry advice and disseminate knowledge based on the principles of organic agriculture and usually plays a pivotal role in the start-up and functioning of the popular gardens and horticulture clubs. They also operate centres, selling agricultural supplies like seeds.
While Havana's urban agriculture has taken on many forms - ranging from private gardens (huertos privados) to state-owned research gardens (organicponicos) Havana's popular gardens (huertos populares) are the most widespread. Cuban statistics are difficult to get, but in 1995 it was estimated that there were 26,600 popular garden parcels (parcelas) throughout the 43 urban districts that make up Havana's 15 municipalities. The popular gardens range in size from a few square meters to three hectares. Shared use of the popular gardens, range from one to seventy people per garden site. The sites are usually vacant or abandoned plots due to collapsed houses located in the same neighbourhood, if not next door to the gardeners' household. Gardens are cultivated on concrete ground.
A wide selection of produce is cultivated depending on family needs, market availability and suitability with the soil and locality. Garden productivity has been achieved with minimal external inputs, applying principles of organic agriculture i.e. low cost, readily available, and environmentally sustainable. Gardeners seldom use chemical fertilizers. Instead they rely on organic fertilizers in the form of chicken or cow manure, compost from household food waste and occasionally vermiculture (the use of worms). Farmers often maximize the use of land by cultivating multilayer crops, i.e. crops in the ground, on the ground and above the ground at the same time. A popular combination includes cassava (providing shade), sweet potatoes (providing good ground cover) and beans (fixating the soil with nitrogen).
Some predicted that with the easing up of the food crisis, Cuban’s urban gardens would fade away. But just the opposite has happened. Havana’s farms and gardens are steadily increasing, both in size and number, but most importantly in quality. They have had a visible impact on the food security of the city and in improving the Cuban diet. The gardens also bring environmental benefits. Many empty lots, which earlier were informal garbage dumps, are now beautiful gardens that provide food to local communities and improve neighbourhood aesthetics and health.Havana, Cuba, is a world leader in urban agriculture. Today more than 50 per cent of... more
If you are concerned about climate change – and you should be – then these are not the best of times. The decision by the U.S. Senate to postpone climate legislation, perhaps indefinitely, coupled with the failure of the United Nations summit in Copenhagen last winter to produce an international treaty limiting greenhouse gases means Business-as-Usual continues to rule.
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has risen to 391 parts-per-million (ppm) – 40 ppm above what many scientists consider a level necessary to keep the planet from becoming ice-free. And it’s rising at a rate of 2 ppm per year, far faster than at any time in the Earth’s paleoclimate record.
What to do? Some see salvation in high technology, including the ‘capture’ of CO2 at its source, to be stored underground, or the ‘scrubbing’ of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by hundred of thousands of boxcar-sized filtering machines. The trouble is, these technologies, even if practical, are years away from deployment. And the climate crisis, as evidenced by recent headlines, is happening now.
Which leads to an idea: what about low technology? As I see it, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities.
There are only four natural sinks for CO2: the atmosphere, the oceans, forests and other perennial vegetation, and the soil. The atmospheric sink is overflowing with CO2, as we well know, and the oceans are fast filling up (and becoming alarmingly acidic as a result). Forests have a habit of being cut down, burned up, or die and decompose over time, all of which release stored CO2 back into the atmosphere. That leaves soils.
The potential for CO2 storage in soils is three times greater than the atmosphere. And since two-thirds of the Earth’s landmass is covered with grass, the potential impact on the climate could be gigantic. In fact, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, the nation’s leading climatologist, postulates that 50 ppm of CO2 could be sequestered in soils over the next fifty years.
How? By employing the low technology of green plants, which pull CO2 out of the air and fix it into carbon compounds that are stored in the soil.
In my experience in the arid Southwest, there are six strategies that can increase or maintain the carbon content of grass-dominated ecosystems. They include: (1) planned grazing systems using livestock, especially on degraded soils; (2) active restoration of degraded riparian and wetland zones; and (3) removal of woody vegetation, where appropriate, so grass may grow in its stead. Maintenance strategies include: (4) the conservation of open space, so there is no further loss of carbon-storing soils; (5) the implementation of organic no-till farming practices; and (6) management of land for long-term ecological and economic resilience.
Fortunately, a great deal of the land management ‘toolbox’ required to implement these strategies has largely been tried-and-tested by practitioners and landowners. Over the past decade, these strategies have been demonstrated individually to be both practical and profitable.
I believe the time has come to bundle them together into an economic and ecological whole that I call a carbon ranch whose goal is to reduce the atmospheric content of CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. These co-benefits include local food production, improved ecosystem services, restored wildlife habitat, rural economic development, and the strengthening of cultural traditions.
A carbon ranch also aims to reduce the amount of fossil fuel energy it uses, as well as the amount of greenhouse gases it produces (offsetting the amount of methane emitted by livestock). And if the ranch can produce local renewable energy in addition to local food – so much the better!
cont.If you are concerned about climate change – and you should be – then these... more
ACTION ALERT: Factory Farm Vegetable Lobbyists Go After Organic/Local Growers in Food Safety Debate — One Last Phone Call to Your Senators Could Make a Difference
Even though an agreement was reached on the Tester-Hagan amendment last week, by the leadership in the Senate, this issue in the food safety bill is still not over!
The Tester-Hagan amendment would exempt smaller, organic and local growers from expensive regulatory burdens.
For over a year, the big Agribusiness trade organizations have supported passage of S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. From agribusiness’s perspective, the bill was a win-win: they could absorb the costs of the regulations because of their size; they’d gain good PR for supposedly improving food safety practices, gain some protection from legal liabilities—and hobble the competition—local food producers by crushing them with new regulatory burdens.
Their anti-competitive motivation was only speculation until now. But when the Senators agreed to include the Tester-Hagan amendment in the bill, to exempt small-scale direct-marketing producers from some of the most burdensome provisions, agribusiness revealed its true colors. Late last week, twenty agribusiness lobby groups fired off a letter stating that they would oppose the bill if it included the Tester-Hagan amendment.
The letter from the agribusiness groups states: “[B]y incorporating the Tester amendment in the bill, consumers will be left vulnerable to the gaping holes and uneven application of the law created by these exemptions. In addition, it sets an unfortunate precedent for future action on food safety policy by Congress that science and risk based standards can be ignored.”
The full letter can be viewed at:
What science and risk? No one has produced any data or evidence of any widespread problems caused by local producers and marketed directly to consumers. All of the major foodborne illness outbreaks have been caused by products that went through the long supply chains of corporate agribusiness, many emanating from factory-scale farms.
Agribusiness’s real concern about the Tester-Hagan amendment isn’t food safety, but the precedent set by having Congress recognize that small, direct-marketing producers are different, and should be regulated differently, from the large Agribusinesses.
Corporate agribusiness is trying to convince the Senators to pull the Tester-Hagan amendment back out. While the amendment is currently part of the “Managers’ Package” – the amended version of the bill agreed to by six bipartisan sponsors – nothing is certain until the actual vote.
This Thanksgiving week, please take a moment to call or email your Senators to tell them to hold firm on KEEPING the Tester-Hagan amendment part of the bill. The legislation will likely come up for a vote when they go back into session early next week.
You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or go to www.senate.gov to find your Senator’s website (if the phone lines are busy, the best way to reach them is through the “contact” page on their website)
Prepared by the staff of The Cornucopia Institute and the Farm and Ranch Freedom AllianceACTION ALERT: Factory Farm Vegetable Lobbyists Go After Organic/Local Growers in Food... more
More info and links here: http://www.ecobold.com/biodynamic-compost-by-malibu-compost/
Have you ever looked for biodynamic compost? Malibu Compost makes this amazing compost that goes beyond organic and beyond fertilizing your plants and soil, they have rescued cows and donate a percentage of their proceeds to a cow rescue program. Malibu is also the first certified biodynamic compost in the country! It has higher standards of agriculture, it's more committed to sustainability and it has higher standards for animal welfare. It is based on dairy cow manure and it has six secret ingredients: yarrow, nettle, chamomile, dandelion, oak bark and valerian. If you have flowers, a garden, trees, shrubs, or just grass that needs some food once in a while, this is likely the best fertilizer you'll ever see.
And the proof that it's one of the best composts ever? They've just opened up and are already selling on over 100 stores! What an impressive accomplishment for a brand new company.
A few last thoughts…it's funny how sometimes you can just tell that everyone at a company is great, that a company's vision is carried along from morning to night, and that there are good people all over this product. I spent some time surfing Malibu Compost's site and by seeing their funny comments here and there I can just tell that they're having a good time while taking care of our planet and their cows. They're so nice, they even give gardening tips!
- Donates % to cow rescue efforts
Here's a little more detailed information about biodynamic composting, from their site:
Dairy cow manure endows the earth with powerful fertilizing and healing forces that chicken manure, steer manure, horse manure, and bat guano simply don’t have. Why? Because a dairy cow has an unequaled digestive process which is enhanced by cosmic-life giving forces in her hooves and horns that enable the nitrogen in her manure to re-kindle life within the earth.
Our products are certified biodynamic by Demeter® USA, the American chapter of the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms and products. Demeter’s strict standards ensure crops are grown with the avoidance of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, utilize compost and cover crops, and set aside 10% of the total farm acreage for biodiversity. In order for our product to bear the Demeter logo, it must be made with certified Biodynamic ingredients and meet strict processing standards to ensure the purest possible product. These standards ensure the dairy cows that provide the manure that is the basis for our compost receive no genetically-modified feed and have access to the outdoors. Further, we ensure our farms grow at least one third of their cows’ diet on the property, make efforts to reduce pathogens, and make minimal turns on the compost, thereby enhancing compost fertility.
As a result of all this earthly and cosmic care, Bu's Blend™:
1. repairs your soil’s ecosystem
2. absorbs moisture
3. builds soil by increasing the vital humus content
4. protects against erosion
5. saves water
6. eliminates the need for pest controls and soil foods
7. works on all soil types
8. promotes healthy root growth
9. heals your soil and heals your soulMore info and links here: http://www.ecobold.com/biodynamic-compost-by-malibu-compost/... more
Supporters of organic farming have welcomed a government initiative to regulate and support the sector, saying sustainable production of healthy food will become mainstream.
The departments of agriculture and trade and industry are circulating for comment a draft policy on organic farming that promises to promote the practice among emerging black farmers and provide training.
The initiative has led to the registration of a non-profit SA Organic Sector Organisation (SAOSO) to try to end fragmentation in the industry.
SAOSO spokesman Ian Robinson said: "We will lobby for the far-reaching benefits of organics, from more efficient water use to carbon sequestration and the health benefits of better nutrition and reduced agro-chemical toxins."
He said food grown according to organic principles - without pesticides or herbicides, but with compost - would reduce disease and ease the burden on the healthcare system.
"The agro-chemical and biotech industries continue to invest heavily in promoting unsustainable and harmful practices," said Robinson, "Astoundingly, two-thirds of South Africa's conventional maize is GM (genetically modified), while Europe has banned GM organisms."
Among the issues addressed in the draft policy, which has been two years in the making, is a process to certify farms producing organic food.
Certification is now carried out by a range of private companies that charge high prices for their services.
"High certification costs act as barriers to new entrants in the sector, especially resource-poor smallholders," the policy document says.
Liz Eglington, an organic farmer in the Little Karoo who helped draft the policy, said it proposed keeping the current certification system for exports but introducing the new system for the local market.
"What we are pushing for is the participatory guarantee system - you set up sustainable organic communities, then you have a selection of people from that community who go and inspect farms," she said.
This inspection team might include a local farmer, a retailer and a consumer.
"They will want to know - 'You say your chickens are free range, I want to see. Are these chickens happy?'"
Eglington said the changes to the certification process might be controversial among agencies now providing the service as it threatened their domination of the system.
"The Department of Agriculture has said there are three sectors as far as they are concerned in agriculture, each as important as the other," said Eglington.
"Before this, organics was a poor little cousin who was thought to be a bit weird, too expensive and elitist, and actually just a lot of rubbish. Now they're saying we have equal importance with agro-chemical commercial farming and GM."
Eglington praised the new emphasis on education about organics in schools.
"That's the magic here ... There will be a new effort to get people farming sustainably, ethically and with nature," she said. "There will be support, there will be training. I think it's going to explode."Supporters of organic farming have welcomed a government initiative to regulate and... more
Do you ever stop to think about where your food comes from? This World Food Day, FairFood International's new video campaign ‘Face Your Food’ brings together a global online community to fight for a more sustainable food industry. Be sure to visit the campaign on Facebook and share info on Twitter using the hashtag: #FaceYourFood.Do you ever stop to think about where your food comes from? This World Food Day,... more
Retailers have designated this month as the first NON GMO month. On the Sustainable Agriculture Group I have been featuring stories related to this and how you can help us reach the consumer tipping point in America that will facilitate ridding our food of this irresponsible technology.
This is a conversation with Jeffrey Smith regarding how you can contribute to the tipping point of maintaining food safety, food sovereignty, biodiversity and environmental democracy. GMOS are untested, unstable and unpredictable in our environment, food sources, and bodies. There is some good information at this link as well to work to keep our food safe and healthy.
Save Our Seeds
No To GMORetailers have designated this month as the first NON GMO month. On the Sustainable... more
BBC World Service - One Planet: The Father of Genetic Engineering....
First broadcast 10:32am, 7 Oct 2010
GMWatch comment: This programme, part of the BBC World Service’s One Planet series on the environment, interviews genetic engineer Dr Roger Beachy. Beachy's interview appears to be part of a new evangelical push on the part of the US government hyping GM crops as the solution to world hunger.
In the BBC interview, Beachy claims GM is being demonized but then proceeds to demonize organic production, as he has done before (even suggesting organic food may be dangerous to eat!) http://www.grist.org/article/usda-research-chief-concerned-about-safety-of-organic-food
Beachy characterizes people who oppose GM crops as anti-science or just plain ignorant. He also uses straw man arguments, dismissing scientifically valid concerns about the uncontrollability of GM contamination with a story about a man who (according to Beachy) had an irrational concern about potatoes being contaminated by GM corn or cotton.
This strategy exactly fits with what Guy Cook, Professor in Language and Education at the Open University (OU) and author of Genetically Modified Language, a book which critically analyses the war of words waged by those arguing for GM crops, found in research investigating the type of language deployed by GM crop scientists. The 'public', Cook's data revealed, tend to be portrayed as as frequently emotional, rather than rational, and as uniformly ignorant. Cook notes that this "characterization of the public is often achieved through anecdotes of some farcical encounter with a particularly 'uninformed’ member of the public: a commonly voiced one concerns people who are worried that they may be 'eating genes'." Interestingly, research suggests that technical knowledge of GM does not necessarily lead to increased acceptance of GM crops.
Beachy also seems to suggest, by implication, that those concerned about GM foods may be candidates for psychiatry ("They choose, not based on science. Where have those attitudes come from?"). He also deliberately attempts to link those concerned about GM with people typically characterised as anti-technology or anti- modern medicine.
It is therefore amusing that another interviewee in this BBC programme is a genetic engineer working in the field of medical biotechnology (Dr Michael Antoniou) who does not share Beachy's confidence about the safety of GM when applied to agriculture.
The BBC calls Beachy "the father of GM foods" and mentions in passing one of Beachy's links to Monsanto: "Two decades ago, his research - in collaboration with Monsanto - helped develop the world's first genetically modified crop (a tomato)".
But the BBC does not mention that Beachy was the founding president of St. Louis' Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which was principally established by Monsanto, or that he is still a trustee and a member of its scientific advisory board (along with the Monsanto-connected British GM promoter Jonathan Jones, and Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant).
Beachy is now working for the US government. In September 2009, President Obama put Beachy in charge of a USDA agency, the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, that will fund R & D in agricultural "technological innovations". So don't expect a lot of research dollars for badly needed agro-ecological approaches.
Beachy is also joined in the BBC programme by Jack Bobo, senior advisor for biotech in the US Dept of State, and Beachy's BBC appearance seems to coincide with a new GM push on the part of US government. On 7 October, the same day that the BBC broadcast Beachy's GM hype, the USDA put out a press release flagging up research claiming there were benefits from GM crops for neighbouring non-GM farmers as they have fewer corn borer pests. The release quoted US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plugging GM. (But see why the corn borer may not be such a problem on organic farms: here and here)
On 8 October, Jose Fernandez, the US assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs published an article in the Huffington Post claiming - surprise - that "Unjustified and impractical legal obstacles are stopping genetically-enhanced crops from saving millions from starvation and malnutrition".
So stand by for more evangelical efforts to win us all over to the U.S. GMO way.BBC World Service - One Planet: The Father of Genetic Engineering....
First broadcast... more
This October, more than 580 natural food stores nationwide will take part in the first ever Non‐GMO Month, celebrating consumers' right to choose food and products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organized by the non‐profit Non‐GMO Project, the event coincides with the launch of the "Non‐GMO Project Verified" seal on retail products.
The process of genetic modification, which takes place in a laboratory, typically merges DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Virtually all commercial GMOs are bred to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. None of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increase yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Studies, meanwhile, increasingly show a correlation between consumption of GMOs and an array of health risks. With U.S. consumer confidence shaken by ongoing food safety failures, distrust of GMOs is growing. As a result, more and more consumers are seeking non‐GMO choices, and Nielson reported in February of this year that "GMO‐free" is now the fastest growing store brand label claim.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that GMOs currently are in approximately 80% of conventional processed foods in the United States, but they are not labeled. This is in sharp contrast to most other developed nations around the world, where there are significant restrictions or outright bans on GMOs because they're not considered proven safe.
To fill the information gap, a "Non‐GMO Project Verified" seal has been created. Manufacturers earn the seal through compliance with rigorous GMO avoidance standards, including ingredient testing, as part of the nation's first third party non‐GMO verification program. Nearly 900 products have been verified to date, with thousands more in the process of becoming verified and new products joining the program every day. Non‐GMO Month celebrations will draw consumer attention to Non‐ GMO Project products, as well as educate them about the GMO issue.
"The Non‐GMO Project stays true to our mission to offer food in its most natural and unadulterated state, " said Michael Besancon, Whole Foods Market senior global vice president of purchasing, distribution and marketing. "We're committed to offering non‐GMO food and products and to educating consumers so they can make informed choices." Whole Foods Market stores nationwide will be participating in Non‐GMO Month, and Whole Foods also in the process of having its entire 365 private label brand verified to the Non‐GMO Project Standard.
Close to 300 independent retailers and co‐ops also are participating in Non‐GMO Month. "Retailers started the Non‐GMO Project because of consumer concern and requests for non‐GMO foods," said Corinne Shindelar, CEO of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA). "We have a responsibility to consumers to ensure the integrity of our food system, and among shoppers who value safe, healthy food, there is a strong desire to avoid GMOs. Non‐GMO Month is a fantastic opportunity to give people the information and non‐GMO choices they are looking for."This October, more than 580 natural food stores nationwide will take part in the first... more
Organic strawberries may cost more, but it's a price worth paying, scientists say.
The fruit is both tastier and better for your health, research shows.
The most detailed study of its kind has found that they contain higher levels of anti-cancer nutrients than fruit sprayed with chemical pesticides.
Naturally-produced strawberries also have a longer shelf life and a richer, more fruity flavour, according to the researchers.
Their findings add to a growing body of evidence that organic food is healthier than conventional fruit and vegetables.
Dr John Reganold, who led the study at Washington State University in the U.S., said: 'We show that you can have high quality, healthy produce, without resorting to an arsenal of pesticides.'
Researchers analysed the taste, nutrition and quality of three strawberry varieties growing on 13 organic and 13 conventional farms in California, as well as 31 chemical and biological properties of the soil where they were grown.
The organic fruit had ' significantly higher' levels of antioxidants - nutrients that mop up potentially dangerous and cancer-causing 'free radicals' in the body.
They also last longer and have 'more strawberry in the strawberry', Dr Reganold reports in the journal PLoS One, published by the Public Library of Science.
In blind taste tests, volunteers said they found organic strawberries sweeter and more flavoursome. And when they saw the fruit, they judged the strawberries from the organic farms to have a better colour.
More...Calls for cigarette-style health warnings on junk food that is 'as addictive as heroin and cocaine'
The researchers found that the soil on the organic farms was healthier and contained more bacteria and insect life.
Dr Reganold said: 'There is no paper in the literature that comprehensively and quantitatively compares so many indices of both food and soil quality at multiple sampling times on so many commercial-farms.' He added: 'Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1308220/The-berry-healthiest-How-organic-strawberries-nutritious.html#ixzz0yh9nNicjOrganic strawberries may cost more, but it's a price worth paying, scientists... more
View AllA farm in the Lower Nine that has sprouted after Hurricane Katrina grows organic vegetables and raises goats in a place where drug deals used to take place
When the levee along the Industrial Canal failed back in 2005 and the wall of water drowned much of New Orleans' Lower Nine, the area north of Claiborne Avenue — the poorest section of the neighborhood — was hardest hit. Not surprisingly, the stretch has been slowest to recover. Five years after the devastating hurricane, the area still does not have a supermarket or store that sells fresh produce. Today, where houses once stood, jungle-like growths have consumed the lands. Other homes, still abandoned, are slanted and Burtonesque.
But just as strange is another thing in the neighborhood, right on Benton Street between North Roman and North Debigny. "We call it 'The Volcano'," says Brennan Dougherty. "We just started the compost pile back in April, and it's already almost 15 feet tall and 40 feet long." Then like a proud parent she adds, "It produces the most beautiful soil you've ever seen." Dougherty is the manager of a farm in the Lower Nine where organic vegetables are grown and goats raised where drug deals used to take place.
(See pictures of the surreal remains of Six Flags New Orleans.)
At five each morning, Dougherty hops into a pick-up truck and drives 8.9 miles to the Whole Foods on Magazine Street. The store donates its vegetable waste to the farm, which helps explain the Volcano's growth spurt and rich content. Dougherty's farm is connected to an independent community school, Our School at Blair Grocery, and serves as a hands-on, outdoor classroom where students and neighborhood teens learn they have the power to control their health and lives. The local youth care for the animals and help grow okra, collard greens, beets, dill and garlic.
(What's so great about organic food anyway?)
"Growing good food is a lot like building a strong, diverse community," says Dougherty, who frequently conducts composting workshops. "Healthy food starts with rich soil. That's your foundation. Then you build up in layers. A strong community also needs a solid base. It requires diversity of materials, thought and action — the layers. Then you grow from within."
(See Katrina's forgotten victim: The Lower Ninth Ward.)
Even the drug dealers have respect for the learning playground. Not too long ago, transactions took place on the corner across the street. But not anymore. Not while area kids are feeding goats and picking sprouts. The pushers have relocated to another block, away from this anchor for community revitalization.
The Lower Nine urban farm concept is already spreading, though. At Temple University, sophomore Alex Epstein has helped formed the Philadelphia Urban Creators, a youth-led organization that seeks to educate and empower local neighborhoods through the concepts and practice of sustainability. Over the last year, Epstein has coordinated seven trips of students from Temple and North Philadelphia high schools to the Lower Ninth Ward. Now they are applying what they learned back home. This summer, on a plot of land on 11th and York in Philadelphia, a lot was cleared, and with the start of school, the students will embark on a community outreach campaign. The composting has already begun. Each day, the Esposito Dining Center, Temple University's largest student restaurant, gives its green waste to the farm. "Before I graduate," Epstein says confidently, "I'm going to climb to the top of our compost pile — which will be at least 20 feet tall — and I'll be able to see New Orleans."
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2012217_2012252_2014154,00.html?xid=rss-fullnation-yahoo#ixzz0y997pubqView AllA farm in the Lower Nine that has sprouted after Hurricane Katrina grows... more
Mission Pie is an organic bakery and neighborhood café in the Mission District of San Francisco. They make savory and sweet pies all year round using fresh, seasonal ingredients. By forming strategic partnerships with local farms like Pie Ranch, they can source large quantities of produce and even organic wheat. Mission Pie also collaborates with local youth advocacy organizations to provide a positive work environment to disadvantaged teenagers in the San Francisco area.
For more information, please visit: http://www.missionpie.com/
Video produced by Dorothée Royal-Hedinger and Mark Andrew Boyer
Music by Latché Swing
For more videos, watch: http://www.OrganicNation.tvMission Pie is an organic bakery and neighborhood café in the Mission District... more
In the article linked below, author Michael Pollan reviews five books that address the heart of the food movement:
•Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front, by Joel Salatin
•All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?, by Joel Berg
•Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
•Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities, by Carlo Petrini
•The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society, by Janet A. Flammang
Food in America has been more or less invisible, politically speaking, until very recently. However, according to Pollan, writing in AlterNet, these books show that:
"... Food is invisible no longer and, in light of the mounting costs we've incurred by ignoring it, it is likely to demand much more of our attention in the future, as eaters, parents, and citizens. It is only a matter of time before politicians seize on the power of the food issue, which besides being increasingly urgent is also almost primal, indeed is in some deep sense proto-political."
Sources: AlterNet July 29, 2010
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
The food system in the United States is in desperate need of an overhaul, and with resources like Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin and others -- who are either getting the word out through books and the media or are working right in the field to grow food according to the laws of nature -- the tide may finally begin to turn.
At the forefront of any revolution is knowledge, and that is the stage many are at right now with regard to the food system. Finally, many are realizing that the bulk of the packaged, processed foods found in supermarkets are not real "food" at all, but conglomerations of excessive subsidized farm crops and chemicals manipulated to taste and look edible.
In many parts of the United States, the small farmers who once prided themselves on supplying wholesome foods to neighboring towns have long since closed their doors, replaced by giant CAFOs -- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations -- and expansive fields of genetically modified corn, soy, cotton and canola.
Why are these crops making up the majority of U.S. farmland? U.S. food subsidies are grossly skewed, creating a diet excessively high in factory-farmed "corn-fed" meats, grains and sugars, with very little fresh fruits and vegetables or healthful fats from nuts and seeds.
U.S. Government Subsidizes Junk Food
The food crops currently subsidized are corn, soy, wheat and rice. With these crops making up the bulk of the harvest, what do you end up with?
A fast food diet!
If growers of subsidized fresh vegetables were in a clear majority, you might start to see some fine advertising campaigns promoting the consumption of those veggies …
Unfortunately, the Department of Agriculture is deeply entrenched with agribusiness, and current legislations protect the profits of these large industries at the expense of public health.
In fact, the agriculture lobby is more powerful than even the pharmaceutical industry! You don't hear about it as often, but the ramifications of their political influence are just as hazardous to your health as that of Big Pharma.
As this recent New York Times article states, "Thanks to lobbying, Congress chooses to subsidize foods that we're supposed to eat less of."
continuedIn the article linked below, author Michael Pollan reviews five books that address the... more
The best video for why consumers need to join the family farmers' fight now:
“We’re not big, we know we are small...we are David...and there is an army of Goliaths against us.” - Neil Young
http://www.ourlocale.com/video/farm-aid-neil-young-powerfulThe best video for why consumers need to join the family farmers' fight now:... more
This is the next installment in the monthly Monsanto Roundup, brought to you without corporate sponsorship or commercial interruption.
In this edition the discussion surrounds events taking place in the world of Monsanto and biotech:
* Monsanto's new poison, and DOW's reinvention of an old one
* Regulate and label GMOs President Obama !
* Illegal transgenic contamination events in New Zealand, Italy, Ireland,...
* Submission from Norway on the risks of GMOs to biodiversity... you know, that thing that allows us to continue living on Earth.
In lieu of reports of both declining ocean and plant diversity, I truly think it is time to take stock in just what the hell we are doing to this planet and yes, that does include climate change!
So please avail yourself of the knowledge available on the Sustainable Agriculture Group, and thanks for the support. Knowledge is power.
Monsanto, out of our food!This is the next installment in the monthly Monsanto Roundup, brought to you without... more
Agroecology is the logical extension of sustainable food production. The term itself is an amalgam of the word Agriculture and Ecology. It focuses on natural rhythms of the environment to produce ecosystems on the farm, obviously employing the organic options, but even further than "organic" labeling.
Agroecology.org lists a number of principles that all agroecologists should employ, mainly using renewable resources of energy and fertilizer; minimize toxics like pesticides, herbicides or anything that "the use of materials that have the potential to harm the environment or the health of farmers, farm workers, or consumers"; conserve resources, soil, water, energy, capital and genetics by saving seed, promoting heirloom, perennial, low -to -no till crops, and mulching.
All of the above could easily apply to an organic farm, but what makes agroecology stand apart from the organic farms is its dedication to managing ecological relationships within the landscape. Agroecologists prefer to "manage their pests instead of trying to control them," and this is a very serious point as many farms, organic or "traditional" are always fighting the battle between pest and crop. "Traditional" farms use pesticides and herbicides; Organic farms might use organic pesticides and herbicides or they may use predatory bugs, but the agroecolgist will use pest control by other pests as the primary and (hopefully) sole practice.
Further, the agroecologist will look to find plants and crops that are native to the soil, rather than finding soil to fit the plants. This ensures that the relationship between the soil and the plants is less susceptible to blight, pests or fungal diseases, lessening the need for battle in the first place and satisfies the principle of conserving and restoring soil to its best potential.
Though agroecology is not a recent idea in the sense that this is how truly traditional farmers have cared for their crops, it is little-known in the industrial food system; as the consumer base is starting to demand more sustainable, accountable and ethical methods of farming, the academic industry is following suit.
Today there are over a dozen universities in the United States that are offering programs in agroecology, many of which are located in California where a considerable amount of our nation's food system is currently grown. Additionally, universities in other countries like Mexico, Spain and Denmark are offering programs in agroecology.
As the graduates from these programs start to employ the practices of the sustainable food system, more and more farms will move to a sustainable model, since one of the key principles to agroecology is reducing or eliminating all bank debt.
One pioneer in the field is Jerry Glover, an agroecologist who works for The Land Institute in Kansas. He was recently featured in National Geographic for his dedication to sustainable practice in farming grains. Glover focuses on perennial plants in the fields as a way to preserve and enhance the soils which have been already overused:
"Perennial plants generally have longer growing seasons and deeper rooting depths, and intercept, retain and utilize more of the natural precipitation," Glover writes. This is becoming even more important as farmers are forced to grow crops on marginal land more prone to soil erosion in order to feed an ever-growing population.
Agroecology is a burgeoning field and a considerable solution to integrate - on a commercial level - sustainable agriculture into a much needed sustainable food landscape.Agroecology is the logical extension of sustainable food production. The term itself... more