tagged w/ Sustainable Agriculture
The soil in your garden is a living thing. Actually it is billions of living things and if you think you can feed them chemicals you are wrong.The soil in your garden is a living thing. Actually it is billions of living things... more
The Kwantlen Polytechnic University senate last week approved in concept a new bachelor's degree program in sustainable agriculture with an eye to starting classes in the fall of 2011. The four-year program will combine a course load focused on human-scale and urban interface agriculture with intensive hands-on training and research, literally, in the field.The Kwantlen Polytechnic University senate last week approved in concept a new... more
The local food movement has opened the door to a new crop of would-be gardeners who lack access to a patch of earth on which to plant a garden (myself included). For some, the land dilemma can be resolved by planting seeds in a shared community garden.
But what about the folks who don't have even an inch of outdoor space to call their own? Or on-the-go types, who for reasons unknown prefer to tote their pocket-size gardens around town with them? Eschewing the constraints of traditional, land-based gardens altogether, some gardening hobbyists instead choose to grow plants on mobile platforms that can be wheeled, carried or floated from place to place.
Click here to view all the photos: http://www.organicnation.tv/blog/the-art-of-urban-mobile-gardening.htmlThe local food movement has opened the door to a new crop of would-be gardeners who... more
By Joshua Frank, AlterNet
Posted on May 7, 2010, Printed on May 7, 2010
Natural food sections in our grocery stores are chock full of them. The ethical foodies seek them out. They're intended to inform the consumer about where our food comes from and how it's produced: "Sustainable," "organic," "free-range," "local" products -- we've all seen the terms and we hope they genuinely convey what they imply.
But what do they really mean? What's the truth behind the label? Can meat ever really be sustainable? Is purchasing local a good thing for the environment? Not always, says activist, author and educator Lee Hall, who serves as legal affairs VP for Friends of Animals. Hall is also an active supporter of HumaneMyth.org, a new group that seeks to expose the facts behind our misleading food labels and farming practices.
I spoke with Hall, whose new book on animal-rights theory and advocacy, On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth, is due out later this month.
Joshua Frank: As someone who frequently shops at farmer's markets and natural food stores, I have noticed a rapidly growing trend toward so-called ethical eating. People are becoming aware of the dark side of industrialized farming, and as a result more and more animal products are being labeled with terms like "cage free," "humane certified" and "organic."
Lee Hall: You're right; this trend is growing fast and the advertising hype that's driven by enterprises such as Whole Foods have a lot to do with it, as does the reality that global warming really is upon us. Climate disruption is the most frightening thing since the bomb (and that's not gone). People are looking for pacifiers. People want to be able to say they've grasped the inconvenient truth but they still want peace of mind. If they've got money, they'll pay a bit more these days for that.
JF: But you've argued that these are simply marketing terms that do not necessarily mean what they convey to consumers. Can you explain why? What's the reality behind these terms?
LH: First, they're usually just marketing ploys. There's no legally binding definition for cage-free eggs, for example. These items are bought by people who want to believe the birds were treated OK. That's well-meaning. But think about what's going on. Packing a mass of birds into a shed isn't much better than jamming them into a cage. Cannibalism increases in shed situations where so-called cage-free chickens lay eggs, as does bone breakage. Recall that birds who are purpose-bred to lay eggs do that a lot. So they're always short of calcium; it leaves their bodies and goes into the shells. That means osteoporosis is common in commercial birds. I don't mean to be a party pooper here; I assure you there are great vegan recipes for just about anything you're making with eggs now.
I know some people will say: Oh, but my eggs, my ham -- it really does come from a good farm; look at their Web site and all the greenery! Well, you must have a lot of money to eat that way all the time. But even if the animal farms you support are spacious, think about the ramifications. More space for agribusiness concerns, less free animals in wild spaces. Just like suburban development, farms take up a lot of land. Why would we as a society continue to think this is a good trend?
JF: What about grass-fed cattle? Michael Pollan and others have touted the alleged environmental and ethical benefits of eating free-range beef as opposed to cows raised in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). Isn't this method of raising animals qualitatively better?
LH: To my mind, Michael Pollan's arguments are clever, but ultimately unconvincing. Eight years ago, Pollan wanted to be assured that eating the flesh of cattle could be done without barbarism. This was no easy feat. To prove the thesis of compassionate carnivorism, this contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine actually bought a calf. Pollan chronicled the growth of the little Black Angus steer from a nursing baby up until the end of it all. The animal was killed a few weeks after turning one year of age.
Do you remember the name Pollan referred to that calf by? Number 534. Compassionate, isn't? Now we're supposed to believe that there's no ecological barbarism in eating these animals either -- if it's done on pastures, not in factories. Balderdash. As the human population continues to rise, as biofuels compete with agricultural land, as energy and water become concentrated in fewer hands, mass production will be the norm. Only a select few will have the opportunity to eat that grass-fed flesh Pollan's touting.
And what happens to the wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and other animals who once roamed the land made over to farm sprawl?
If you really want to tread lightly on the earth and its conscious life, the answer is to stop breeding these poor beings only to betray them and stop annihilating wildlands for malls -- and the farms too. There's a great saying ascribed to Confucius: "The way out is via the door."
JF: I've always been skeptical of the free-range cattle notion. Spending a considerable amount of time hiking around Eastern Oregon, I have seen many grass-fed cattle roaming our public lands and shitting in and around some of the state's remaining wild rivers. A study by UC Davis Medical Center recently confirmed that free-roaming livestock are polluting rivers in the Sierras with their waste.
LH: That study is on to something: water on public lands and wilderness areas are dirtiest where cattle graze. And what a word from an ethical point of view. Livestock. Live today, stock tomorrow. It's really a bane, this notion that conscious life can and should be a commodity. Imagine if we dared to challenge that. Environmental advocacy would be revolutionized overnight.
This is what the locavores aren't talking about. Cows aren't part of the natural biocommunity. As commercial cows became widespread, their free-living ancestors, the aurochs, went extinct in the seventeenth century, when a poacher shot the last one in Poland. Free-range? Not really. The ones we see today are purpose-bred animals, imposed on the land.
JF: Since you bring up the locavore movement, I'm reminded of Prof. James McWilliams at Texas State University who has argued that "If you want to make a statement, ride your bike to the farmer's market. If you want to reduce greenhouse gases, become a vegetarian." Why do you think the broader environmental movement has yet to fully embrace vegetarianism as one way to challenge climate change?
LH: Much of what we call the environmental movement relies on donations. So there's a hydraulic pull to behave as though laws and lawmakers should fix things. That's convenient. Potential donors aren't challenged to make personal changes.
At the same time, the moneyed donors non-profits hope to attract will find comfort in promotions of "humane, sustainable, all-natural meat" and the like. Rarely do environmental groups ask potential supporters to begin with the personal, essential paradigm shift that a full vegetarian commitment involves.
What underlies this hesitance? Well, imagine the Catholic authorities' initial resistance to the Copernican revolution. People had to leave their comfort zone to grasp the reality the universe does not revolve around the human being. Galileo got the picture, and wound up under house arrest.
Suggest that humans are part of the biocommunity rather than in charge of it? Say the universe does not revolve around us? Humanity is not quite ready to accept that reality -- although everything from the climate to the extinction rate is telling us the time has come to do so.
Read rest of article here:
http://www.alternet.org/food/146765/is_there_anything_truly_sustainable_or_humane_about_eating_meatBy Joshua Frank, AlterNet
Posted on May 7, 2010, Printed on May 7, 2010... more
For 15 years, Eddie Anderson, a farmer, has been a strict adherent of no-till agriculture, an environmentally friendly technique that all but eliminates plowing to curb erosion and the harmful runoff of fertilizers and pesticides.
But not this year.
On a recent afternoon here, Mr. Anderson watched as tractors crisscrossed a rolling field — plowing and mixing herbicides into the soil to kill weeds where soybeans will soon be planted.
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy-environment/04weed.html?src=buslnFor 15 years, Eddie Anderson, a farmer, has been a strict adherent of no-till... more
Next Year Databar barcodes will be required by many stores to be on every single item of fresh produce. Some tech companies are well positioned to take advantage of this new marketing platform.
http://top10produce.ning.com/video/top-10-extended-packagingNext Year Databar barcodes will be required by many stores to be on every single item... more
This April 21st, PBS is broadcasting the Oscar-nominated "Food, Inc." on POV. They want to make it a national viewing night for the film and a time for discussion about food-related issues so they're asking for your help to Host a Food, Inc Potluck. (Click the link above for details)This April 21st, PBS is broadcasting the Oscar-nominated "Food, Inc." on... more
the website epicurious.com has unveiled a wonderful Flash-animated map to tell you what's in season each month of the year for all 50 states in the union.the website epicurious.com has unveiled a wonderful Flash-animated map to tell you... more
For last week's Tiny Desk Kitchen, Allison Aubrey conducted a blind taste test of grass-fed and corn-fed beef. The participants, Ari Shapiro and Susan Stamberg, actually thought the grain-fed beef was tastier and tenderer, but as Shapiro explained at the end, "On the basis of taste alone, I prefer [corn-fed beef]. I would choose to order something that I knew was more sustainable even if I found it to be a little less tender or a little less beefy tasting."For last week's Tiny Desk Kitchen, Allison Aubrey conducted a blind taste test of... more
The woes of the B.C. cattle industry can be summed up in two words: climate change. Real or imagined, the shopping list of impacts related to climate change is a long one. Droughty grasslands. Sage and shrub encroachment. Pine encroachment. Pine beetle. Reforestation. Carbon tax. Biofuels. Spiralling feed grain prices.
And that list doesn't even include mad cow disease, the export-killing super-heated Canadian dollar and the labour shortage created when the ranchhands leave for the oil patch or construction work.The woes of the B.C. cattle industry can be summed up in two words: climate change.... more
A new generation of fish farming technology could help restore damaged marine environments, according to a biologist working on a five-year nationwide aquaculture project.A new generation of fish farming technology could help restore damaged marine... more
The following is a post by guest blogger, Jan Morre (aka JanforGore). You can follow her on Current's the sustainable agriculture channel.
In covering the environmental abuses of Monsanto one who is cognizant of the special relationship we have with the Earth cannot help but be repulsed by them. There is not one redeeming quality about them. They are arrogant, heartless, greedy, manipulative power brokers that use people, governments, organizations, consumers, and anyone else who gets in their way of domination. It is a domination of the global seed and pesticide market that is now bringing our Earth to a biodiversity and pollution crisis and a climate change precipice.
They destroy and defile the environment with impunity, contaminate natural seeds with unstable toxic bacteria seeds, deforest our planet to make corn for gas tanks and GM soy that brings nothing but poverty and disease to places such as Paraguay, Argentina, Mexico, India, etc., (where farmers have been committing suicides in massive numbers due to economic ruin brought on by BT cotton.) They toxify our water with PCBS and Round Up, strong arm farmers, deceive consumers, intimidate scientists who seek answers and who disseminate the answers they find about just what their GMOs are made of and their effects, and then claim to be part of the “sustainable agriculture” movement that is looking to feed the world. It is one of the greatest and most sinister hoaxes perpetrated upon the world.
In the more than one hundred years they have been in business, Monsanto has not made one product that has benefitted the Earth. From saccharin, to aspartame, to Agent Orange, to PCBs, to genetically modified organisms, there has been one and only one motive: profit at any cost. And where we stand now that cost is the biodiversity of our planet and control of the very seeds and water that give us life. It is a control we cannot give up as it would then mean the loss not only of food sovereignty but our very freedom as human beings. But even in the midst of all of this there are some bright spots. This past year saw two court rulings against Monsanto regarding their GM alfalfa and GM sugar beets:
Federal court upholds ban on genetically modified alfalfa: Monsanto petition denied in full
Bitter fight developing over gm sugarbeets
Will this set a precedent for review of their other “seeds” such as BT corn, GM soy, BT cotton, etc.? We can only hope.
In that vein there is also a Supreme Court case coming forth involving Monsanto and the Center for Food Safety:
And also, a DOJ investigation into monopolies set for March 2010:
Hopeful signs that more are waking up to the deceptions and doing the necessary research to become aware of what they are eating and modifying their habits to be more healthy. The one organization that is helping tremendously in that is the Institute for Responsible Technology headed by Jeffrey Smith, a world renowned GMO activist. They have just put together a Non GMO website that gives you top information on how to avoid GMOs and eat more healthy thus perpetuating the 5% of American consumers it will take to get to a tipping point of awareness to begin turning the tide against Monsanto and all other companies using GMOs as a profit motive while compromising our food safety in the process. This is the one true way we can all be activists: through the wallet.
Of course, I also have no illusions regarding the DOJ investigation nor the court cases coming up involving Monsanto’s link to PCB poisoning. A recent trial regarding PCB contamination of Anniston Alabama and the ensuing deaths and disease from it wound up in Monsanto’s favor with those sickened left with little justice for their suffering. The major clout Monsanto carries with Washington DC even now under the Obama Administration and the Vilsack USDA and their known methods of bribery leaves one wary of such attempts to hold them accountable for their many crimes against humanity, and their agricultural and environmental terrorism.
After all, it was the FDA under the auspices of the last four administrations that gave them free reign over our environment and health by determining that their organisms were the same (principle of substantial equivalence) as all other food in order for them to circumvent labeling, when as we now see that is far from the truth. It was the USSC that gave them the patent to life itself thus opening the door to Intellectual Property Rights that now challenge indigenous peoples and the natural breeding of seeds for climate change tolerance which they can now purchase in biopiracy scams. In simple terms, our planet has been sold to the highest bidder by people we the people did not even have a say in electing! That is not only undemocratic, that is immoral and criminal.
However as with any crisis we are now in regarding our planet, we have one hope: ourselves. Our consciences, our morals, our reasoning, our logic, our love for our families, our love for the Earth, our sense of justice, and yes, even our spirituality that tells us in line with the scientific facts as presented to us that we in large numbers have the ability to take back our food, our planet, and our futures. So even in the face of what Monsanto has been able to accomplish I remain hopeful of the global food movement having major victories in the coming year. But we must remain focused, cohesive, determined, and yes, even angry. We must remain so for the following:
For the farmers of India and their families, especially the widows of those whose lives were cut short by BT cotton.
For the American farmers whose farms and livelihoods are under threat from Monsanto’s strong arm tactics in their desire to control all seed.
For the deforested lands of South America stripped to create a monoculture that has left many poor farmers poorer and sicker in the wake of greed over sustainability, and exacerbated a climate crisis no cap and trade scheme can heal.
For the soil of our Earth, its skin, that cries out for help to us as it is eroded, stripped, abused, and toxified for profit.
For our water, polluted, toxic, acidic, filled with pesticides and run off as the cost of industrial agriculture.
For our children, who deserve a cleaner, safer, more natural world to live in.
Let this next year be the year to truly hold Monsanto as an example of all of those things to be the first step in our moral imperative to save this planet and in turn the human species and all others we have so cavalierly dismissed in our desire to be masters of the universe.
I leave you with this: may we all seek this level of awareness of conscience, and act on it.
Guest Blog Post: Biopiracy in the age of climate change and food shortages
Field report from India: Woman’s Earth Alliance reports on sustainable agriculture
Biodiversity and the life of our earth (video)
The following is a post by guest blogger, Jan Morre (aka JanforGore). You can follow... more
3 years ago
Today's Guest post is from Janforgore:
My previous entries for the Green Blog have been on biopiracy and biodiversity. This entry will cover another bio, biodynamics.
“All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.”
Biodynamics is a celebration of life through farming. It is a method that puts your entire heart and soul into caring for what is grown. It goes beyond avoiding the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and views the farm and all elements involved in planting as a self-contained ecosystem with no part separate from the other. It is a holistic approach to farming that seeks a symbiosis between all working parts as one organism including the consciousness of the farmer as part of that organism.
Those who are unaware of the methods used in biodynamic farming may think some of them strange. To see a farmer up in the middle of the night observing celestial bodies to determine the best crops to grow, or burying cow horns in the soil would seem out of place in our modern world. But to biodynamic farmers it is these uses of all elements including the celestial and spiritual that provide the means for healthier harvests free of manmade poisons. It is a truly sustainable way of life that celebrates the connection between humans and nature where you grow with what you grow. When one truly understands the soil and respects all that goes into keeping it healthy including their own conscious state, they also then work harder to preserve it.
Biodynamics is a part of what is known as anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. In his words it is, “an approach to science which integrates natural phenomena and the immaterial into the scientific study of human beings and nature.” In other words it is the fusion of science and the sublime.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher whose teachings were influenced by Goethe. As a young man Steiner wrote introductory and explanatory notes on the scientific works of Goethe. This led to the publication of his own philosophical thesis, Truth and Science. But Steiner was not only a follower and teacher of philosophy and the scientific. He was also a man very much in tune with spirituality and the sense of self and the soul. It was the combination of both the spiritual and scientific that led to his developing the agricultural discipline of biodynamics after he was sought after by a group of farmers who were experiencing declining fertility in their land and animals.
Steiner’s monumental work which consists of 170 books and transcripts of 6000 lectures on agriculture, philosophy, and Waldorf education still influences us today. This is evidenced recently by the rebirth of land in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina through using Steiner’s biodynamic methods.
Through becoming aware not only of our surroundings and how they interact with each other but how they interact with us and our connection to the cosmos, biodynamics teaches us a way of farming that brings us back to a time when people were in tune with the land and respected it’s physical and spiritual properties. It is for me the original deep agriculture, and a true reflection of man’s place on this beautiful Earth.
To learn more about biodynamics and how it is being employed today, the following links will help you better understand it:
This is a video from Rosney River Farms, Australia illustrating the application of the biodynamic spray on their vineyard.
Anthroposophy Association of America
Rudolf Steiner Waldorf School in NY
Employs the same holistic concepts to the self as the land
Biodynamics in New Orleans
Biodynamic Association of India
Demeter is the certifying agent for biodynamic farms worldwide. Demeter is the name of the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility. It was chosen in the late 1920’s by biodynamic farmers to represent their products. Demeter mythology dates all the way back to as early as Isis mythology of Egypt. This is the link for Demeter U.S.A.Today's Guest post is from Janforgore:
My previous entries for the Green Blog... more
3 years ago
It’s harvest time. I know because every time I pass my garden I have to deal with the humiliation of my half-a**ed attempts at gardening from this past year. Since the season has come to a close, and before starting again with my winter garden, it is time to take stock of what I have to harvest, and why. It is an opportunity for soul searching, for examining all elements of my life, and while the harvest may not be bountiful in my garden, there are plenty of accomplishments outside of my garden that I can relish in (even if I can't can them). And while the fruits of my labor are not coming via my garden, they are coming from other directions, so I am grateful for this time to stop, listen, and plan for the next year.
Now if you are Jewish, by now you already know I am speaking of Sukkot. If you are of another religion that acknowledges the agricultural seasons, you are aware of the connection between religious and agricultural holidays ...or if you are like I was a year ago, you may just hear me speaking of the seasons. All are fine be me.
There are two things you never talk about in an elevator~ religion and politics. I rarely speak about being Jewish. I was raised in a non observant household, and found my connection to spirit on my own time in my own way. It wasn’t until I was half way through my 30’s when I was introduced to the emerging organization Wilderness Torah, who has made it their mission and vision to bring people together via the celebration of the earth-based traditions of Judaism. I have attended two events now, and I can authentically say they have shifted the way that I relate to both my community and the Jewish religion, making them both far more accessible and appealing than before. I think of the events a little like..well.... gardening. In the moments of being in the garden, when you are planting seeds, weeding, watering...you never get to see the growth; but the work you do when you are there is what provides the nourishment and opportunity for growth to occur.
The festivals Wilderness Torah produces feels like something between the back to the land movement and a back to the Jew movement~ they are reconnecting Jews to the land as well as sustainability concepts. Julie Wolk, co-founders of Wilderness Torah explains that they saw that there was a clear environmental problem when the industrial food system is disconnected from spirituality.
We saw an opportunity to reconnect people to both the land and to the earth to promote healing for both the spirit, and address the sustainability challenges that lay before us. There is no better way to connect people to the land than to connect them to the source of their food.
We do this through an annual cycle of land-based festivals, including Sukkot on the Farm, Passover in the Desert, Shavuot on the Mountain and Tu B’shvat in the Redwoods; earth-based rituals and rites of passage, such as the Jewish Vision Quest, vision walks, and b’nai mitzvah rites of passage programs; and through educational programs that model and teach sustainable Jewish life, such as communal Jewish ritual, organic gardening and farming, and sustainable living skills.
Zelig Golden co-founder of Wilderness Torah, explained that,
"Our vision came from wanting to create a land based center for Jewish education and a renewal of awakening the earth based traditions.... Sukkot was the first holiday we picked since it's fundamental purpose was to bring the Jewish community to a deeper connection with the land. There is no deeper connection we have than to our land and the source of food. Sukkot is about celebrating the harvest: a manifestation of the abundance that creation provides.
The Jewish culture has become an urbanized culture: disconnected from the land we are living on and the farms that feed us. So our events are an opportunity to bring both together: to show that our traditions are deeply routed in agrarian life. People around the world are becoming very aware of the dangers of being disconnected from our food source. In just the past few years there has been an emergence of programs, for example: Hazon and their food conference, the environmental fellowship by Admah organization, the Jewish Farm School, Eco Isreal: a Jewish farm apprenticeship in Isreal, just to name a few. These programs started on the east coast and we are bringing it to the west coast.
But this is just the beginning: we want to teach how human beings can live aligned on the earth again; in the midst of all of the environmental problems that we are facing."It’s harvest time. I know because every time I pass my garden I have to deal... more
3 years ago
JanforGore is making the most of her groups on Current and doing some unique and unexpected call outs!
For the entire month of October, the Water Is Life Group will be showcasing organizations that bring life, hope, and clean water to those in need. And the Sustainable Agriculture Group will post various videos, articles, history, and stories surrounding harvest times throughout civilization and their spiritual meanings.
Can't wait to seeing a round up all of the suggestions!
Monsanto loses money in 4th quarter sales
One man, one cow, one planet (video)
Harvest time on Yale's organic farm
JanforGore is making the most of her groups on Current and doing some unique and... more
3 years ago
As I packed in preparation to visit my family this summer, I fantasized about what awaited me: long days nothing to do but stare at the water, swim, and read my book from start to finish, with no interruptions.
I settled on Adam Werbach’s recently published book, “Strategy for Sustainability.” Adam’s book proved to be more inspiring than the title suggested, and I appreciated his linguistic prowess in between stats, facts, and bullet points while discussing a new corporate paradigm for sustainability. So I was content until I made one fatal flaw, I watched the movie Twilight. I instantly borrowed the second book in the series, and my obligatory moments of reading turned into rapid-fire-steal-every-moment-I-can-away-from-the-family-I-traveled-across-the-country-to-visit so-I-can-find-out-what’s-going-to-happen-next.
Truth be told, I’m a sucker for vampire stories. So when my mother inquired about my fascination, I was a tad shocked by what flew from my mouth: Not an explanation that the stories are...well…hot, but rather a tirade on and how the modern day vampire story is just a metaphor for the sustainability challenges of our time. Who knew?
There is a theme that runs through all of the modern day vampire stories: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and True Blood all revolve around a central character who is inherently torn to fight their true nature: which is to kill in order to survive. The modern day vampire stories all have central characters who have found a new way to survive in the world, a way which is different than their predecessors’.
1. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the vampire Angel buys blood from the hospital and keeps it in his fridge (and then protects Buffy the vampire slayer and kills bad vampires).
2. In the Twilight series, the Cullen family turns “vegetarian” (i.e. they only eat animals and not people).
3. In True Blood, the vampires eat True Blood, a blood substitute developed in Japan.
Yet at the end of the day, they are all still life sucking murderers fighting that bad part of themselves that’s very nature is designed to kill bodies and destroy souls.
The stories get exciting when the main heartthrob is tortured by the fear that the nature of what he is will kill the thing he loves most. In Buffy, Angel loves Buffy, in Twilight, Edward loves Bella, and in True Blood, Bill loves Sookie. As much as these male vamps desire their female morsels…I mean, mortals… if they give in to their truest desire…which is to suck their blood…they will either destroy them by killing them, or destroy their truest essence by killing their soul and transforming them into a vampire.
I think I love this story because in so many ways (not to be melodramatic or anything), I live this story. Every day I fight my impulses in the name of saving the planet as we know it. The story of the times we live in is that the nature of our culture and society is to consume past the point of sustainability; yet if we continue to give in to our desire to consume, we will either destroy or transform the world we live into something that lacks the soul that we fell in love with in the first place.
As we feed our desires for food, travel, beautiful clothes, big houses, fast cars, the latest technology, we create more. The more we create, the more we consume. The more we consume, the more we kill.
And we are killing off the things I love most. The oceans are filling with plastic debris at an alarming rate and changing the food chain cycles of the ocean. Samples from the ocean are coming up with more plastic particles than plankton.
TED Talks - Charles Moore: Sailing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
We are wiping our asses with virgin forests.
We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction (the first mass extinction caused by humankind).
So it’s a hell of a lot more fun to read the Twilight series than one more article about dolphin slaughter, polar bears drowning, local rivers filled with dead fish, virgin forests decapitated, or sharks on the verge of extinction.
Whatever you call it, global warming or climate change, the question remains, how will we fight our internal nature? I just learned that my diet creates a larger carbon footprint than my travel. If I didn’t know better, I’d say our modern society is breeding one helluva mega coven of vampires.
But are we dealing with a case of nature vs. nurture? Are we true vampires? Vampires are turned into soulless blood sucking beings against their will. Is our society and capitalistic systems constructed in such a way that forces us into being something our original nature never intended us to be? It is easy to point to the majority of aboriginal and native tribal life styles, from which we all originate, as being more aligned with living sustainable living practices: aka insuring that the planet would be able to continue to feed and house future generations.
But I am horrified when I examine the impact of just the first few hours of my day. I wake on my eco-friendly mattress but the wood my bed is made from probably comes from the South America. My night clothes, a gift, were made in China and have the sweat of child labor and and the weight of a heavy carbon foot print on them. I reach for water from a glass from Pier One imports (I contacted them via twitter inquiring about how their productions cycle: the informed the glasses I own were hand made in China, but when I asked about their carbon offset program: no answer). I get dressed with clothes that are mostly from consignment stores, so at least I am reusing, but am still knowledgeable that the garment industry has a complex supply chain that has a significant carbon footprint. I walk though the house, aside from the most recent layer of non toxic paint I put on myself, it is mostly made with toxic processes.
I drink water from the tap, which comes from the Hetch Hetchy damn and reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The damn that buried the Hetch Hetchy Valley was once described as "a wonderfully exact counterpart" of Yosemite Valley, and therefore "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." So this is what I think of when I water my garden. I take great pleasure in the orchids that we have (instead of cut flowers) that are more than likely flown in from Hawaii, make a shake that includes organic bananas (at least I’m not poising the workers that harvest them) and then I hop on my bike which was manufactured in Taiwan, and casual car pool to work. I then get a cup of peets coffee, which while sustainably harvested, but still comes from half way around the world, and the I…well, you get the point.
Nearly everything I touch feels like it has a destructive element to it, either it was made via unfair labor, used the land through unsustainable practices, has a mammoth carbon footprint, or is dangerous to throw away. It makes me feel like… a monster. A vampire monster to be exact, sucking the life and soul out of this planet just in order to sustain my own life.
Perhaps I can find hope in learning a few lessons from the champions of the vampire world. You know the ones, the vampires who overcame their nature to kill and who use their super powers to protect what they cherish and hold dear to them (see how reading Twilight has become an important part of my research for this blog post?).
There are several key lessons I take from the vampire stories that may be the key to saving the world as we know it:
Lesson 1: Vampires have had time to learn from their mistakes, and act on what they learn. With time on their side, the vampires’ ability to live forever provides plenty of time to ponder and learn from their mistakes. They have to do what we do not: live with the consequences of their actions for eternity. Every champion character is able to fight his true nature because the price they would pay if they gave in to it their desires is too high.
Lesson 2: The vampires who are creating a whole new way of life are “younger” vampires. They are usually the 100-500 year-old vampires that make major changes (with a few exceptions of course). It would seem that it is easier to develop new habits when you haven’t had the old habits for thousands of years. The new environmental organizations popping up are showing great promise, addressing the climate crisis with unprecedented energy and unique collaborations. 350.org, The Energy Action Coalition and 1Sky are just a few of the inspired groups that have recently emerged.
Lesson 3: At the end of the day, the vampires decided to change their “true nature” so they can live with the people they love, rather than live a lonely and isolated life. Lets get real, we all need motivation, and love is a great motivator. The modern day vampire show doesn’t show us much about how the vampires transitioned from being evil blood sucking murderers to developing the will power and self control it takes to become the “good vampire,” but it does show us that not wanting to kill what you love most is a great motivator to stay "clean."
If I were to activate a super power it would be to learn from and act on the mistakes of our the past generations at hyper speed. Can Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, can Jack jump over the coal powered smoke stack?
When given the chance to choose, the mass majority of people on the planet choose to consume everything that is available to them. It is a conscious choice to want less. But now we are having to develop a new skill: saying no in the face of plenty.
So I’ll leave you with some good news: Air pollution is decreasing, there is an army of people dedicating their lives to saving the planet, and there is more information available that points to the problems and the solutions than ever before.
So remember the millennial mantra: More is killing us: less will sustain us.
And remember the vampires: if they made conscious decisions to find new alternatives to sucking blood and killing the things they desire, than so can we.
Sarah Haskins in Target Women: Vampires (video)
Toxic bananas (video)Gavin Newsom Talks About San Francisco's Leadership in the Sustainability Movement (video)
Burning Man Green Man (video)
Joe takes on Green Fest (video)As I packed in preparation to visit my family this summer, I fantasized about what... more
3 years ago
So from this day forward, every Friday we will feature a superstar from our Current Green community. We will begin with JanforGore. JanforGore is one of our longest standing members of Current, and has been with us since our current.tv days. I won't speak too much about JanforGore, but I'll mention that she is known for her prolific contribution, strong opinions, and passion for the environment. Most recently, she has dedicated herself to bringing consistent and up-to-date information on sustainable agriculture issues. Below you will find a brief interview, and a commentary from JanforGore.
So without further adieu, Current Green presents: JanforGore as our first featured Current Green Community Super Star!
Current Green: What environmental topics are close to your heart?
JanforGore: The environmental topics close to my heart are anything to do with preserving water as a human right and public trust, for it is the lifeblood of our Earth and us; sustainable agriculture which feeds the soul of our Earth and us; trees which are the lungs and heart of our Earth that give us breath; and climate change which is ravaging all of those things which are so close to my heart and so necessary to our lives. I have dedicated my life for over thirty years to defending and cherishing this planet, and those issues will continue to be what inspires me to continue that fight to preserve the future for ourselves and those to come. Particularly in demanding political action now on climate change that is adequate to meet its threat to our Earth’s sustainability (100% renewable energy in ten years is possible!) That also means politicians realizing that there is no such thing as “clean” coal. I believe it is our duty as human beings to be stewards of this planet and to speak for all other species.
Current Green: What are your go-to environmental websites and blogs?
JanforGore: Terra News, Environmental News Network, Desmogblog, Organic Consumers Association, the WE Campaign, Navdanya, Environmental Health News Archives, Real Climate, Envirospeak.tv, Food and Water Watch, Water Partners International, Institute for Responsible Technology, GRAIN, Tree Nation. All good sites with comprehensive information on every environmental topic that also include ways for citizens to be active in solutions. Oh, and also my blog, Water Is Life. ;-).
Current Green: What's the most recent green thing you learned about that "wowed" you?
JanforGore: That the UN Billion Tree Program had exceeded three billion trees planted worldwide, and has set their goal this year to 9 billion. Tree planting is always a wow for me! That’s why we now need to Plant America, which is an initiative I am sending to President Obama within the next two months. People can read about it here if they are interested in signing the petition.
CurrentGreen: Who, in the Current community, do you ado you admire featured next week?
JanforGore: I would recommend you feature SeaJade, a woman of great talent and environmental passion who cares about the Earth and has a unique way of expressing that passion.
Current Green: Hypothetically speaking, what would you do if you saw someone melting Styrofoam cups with a gasoline soaked torch, then taking those molten balls of Styrofoam, wrapping them in discarded plastic six pack rings, dunking them in oil, then tossing them into the ocean?
JanforGore: Well, “hypothetically speaking,” after I was revived through CPR ;-p, I would proceed to glue styrofoam cups to ‘their’ body, wrap ‘them’ in plastic, dunk ‘them’ in oil, and then proceed to stick that gasoline soaked torch where the sun don’t shine and make it shine.
JanforGore speaks on sustainable agriculture:
As I stated above, the environmental issues close to my heart include sustainable agriculture which has been greatly destroyed over the last decade due to industrial agriculture, mainly the GMO seeds of chemical turned “bioag” company Monsanto and other companies like them. And this is a clear and present threat to the rich biodiversity of this planet that has sustained all life for centuries.
Saving seeds is the cornerstone of civilization. It is what makes farming and agriculture such a miraculous action, in that from a tiny seed can spring forth hundreds to thousands of varieties of rice, potatoes, peas, corn, etc. that provide the world with sustainable choices. GMOs do not do that. Genetically modified organisms are manmade laboratory organisms that combine genes from different species to be inserted into the genes of plants to produce certain traits these bioag companies merely use to make profit. In the case of Monsanto, its “BT”corn and cotton is a combination of a deadly bacteria forcefully inserted into the gene of the plant’s cell wall in order to invade it or “make it sick” in order to force it to combine with that bacteria in order to make the corn or cotton resistant to their Round Up pesticide which you must purchase with their patented seeds yearly as you are prohibited from saving them. This has led many farmers across America, South America, and Europe into debt, including farmers in India who are reportedly committing suicide due to the high debt they incur to purchase seeds and pesticides from banking loan sharks only to see their crops fail. This is a game of genetic roulette using humans and other species as guinea pigs for profit that we cannot afford to allow to go any further as its process has no set guarantee of these organisms they genetically mutate expressing those desired traits everytime, or not mutating into something harmful to the planet.
Over the last decade since these organisms were let out into our environment this technology has proven to be very destructive to the biodiversity of our planet through transgenic contamination of traditional crops, yields that have not proven to be significant in comparison to organic crops, and current independent testing that has proven it has also been destructive to ecosystems and health as well. Currently, these unregulated GMOs are found in 60-70% of the processed food in America and are unlabelled as to their GMO ingredients due to the FDA giving them the distinction of GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and using the term “principle of substantial equivalence“ as politicaleze to say, we are letting these organisms slip through the cracks to please Monsanto, even though tests coming out now show that BT corn (a registered pesticide) causes adverse behavioral effects in bees, immune system problems, infertility, and cell damage from Round Up pesticides.
The developing world is now also at the mercy of being forced to accept this unproven technology due to the fact that resistance in Europe is so high and American markets have already been saturated. However, countries in the developing world are standing strong on the whole regarding non acceptance of GMOs, and hopefully that will hold. Freedom to speak out is also at stake in this, and environment and democracy go hand in hand as well in leading us to a sustainable future.
Our population is rising, resources are becoming scarcer, and climate change looms large across the globe. Feeding people of the world under these conditions is becoming harder and harder in part due to the fact that sustainable agricultural methods that are endemic to specific parts of the world that farmers know best are disappearing under the shadow of corporate domination from the seed to the plate. This is indeed a dire warning to all of us that if we do not pay more attention to what is most important, we will lose our freedom and control to grow what we want and need in a natural way. A way that brings carbon and nutrients back to the soil instead of depleting them and does not take away our ability to feed the world due to overexposure of our environment to herbicides and pesticides that kill waterways and toxify our food.
We have a fight on our hands to not only preserve our environment but our very way of life. A life made rich by the biodiversity of a beautiful, amazing, natural world.
I’m ready for this fight, and I hope you are too because this is the moral fight of our lives. These are some links that will give you more information about this topic. I thank Current Green for allowing me to share this information with you:
Monsanto now suing seed cleaners
Scientist warning of health hazards of Monsanto's RoundUp receives threats
Evidence mounts on the failures of genetically modified crops
New report finds genetically modified agriculture incurs more costs than benefits
Organic industry moves to protect itself from GMO contamination
Global hunger is a crisis in democracy
Scientist: GM food safety testing is "woefully inadequate"
Flooding Brazil with GMO soya has increased Amazon deforestation
To Neglect Water...Is To Give It to Multi nationals
How Monsanto really makes GMOsSo from this day forward, every Friday we will feature a superstar from our Current... more
4 years ago
Every meal offers an opportunity to connect with our food. Whether we're munching on a tart apple, dousing fries in ketchup or gobbling up a spring salad, an extra second can remind us that what we're eating grows in the ground, is harvested by a worker and brought to our homes, restaurants and coffee shops every day. What we tend to forget in our quest for fast and cheap (or slow and sustainable) foods are the people who plant and harvest the produce for us.
Today is Cesar Chavez Day. Our nation’s horrendous slave legacy continues to thrive today in our modern agricultural system.Every meal offers an opportunity to connect with our food. Whether we're munching... more
While the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, recently reported that the Church has no official position on the practice of modifying the genes of produce, it appears that change may be in the air for Pope’s inner circle. The hope is that the appointment of Cardinal Peter Turkson in January as the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to replace the notably pro-GMO Cardinal Renato Martino would usher in a more cautionary perspective about GMOs from the Vatican.
The L’Osservatore Romano comments concerning the alleged neutrality of the Holy See’s were made shortly after the European Commission approved for commercial cultivation Amflora, a genetically modified starchy potato. Amflora, produced by the largest chemical company in the world, BASF, is currently only approved for starch production, not human consumption, but the leftover skins will be fed to cattle. It will used for industrial purposes like paper and yarn production and making spray concrete.
The controversy surrounding Amflora is that the potato contains a gene that is resistant to antibiotics including kanamycin, neomycin, butirosin, and gentamicin. When antibiotic resistance is making frequent headlines, the European Commission’s approval, and BASF’s cultivation of such crop, is, in the eyes of many, irresponsible.
Despite the Vatican’s alleged neutrality, GMO Journal, which has previously expressed an opinion that reverberations from the Pope’s inner circle suggest a pro-GMO stance, hopes that the recent appointment of Cardinal Turkson signals that the Vatican is ready to confront the GMO debate with greater objectivity and less willingness to blindly repeat the industry jingles of needing GMOs to save the world from hunger.
In fact, unlike his predecessor Cardinal Martino, as the new head of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Turkson would urge an attitude of caution and further study of the possible negative effects of genetically engineered organisms.
Continue reading: http://gmo-journal.com/index.php/2010/03/30/vaticans-perspective-on-gmo-signaling-winds-of-change/While the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano,... more