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Food, Justice, Violence and Capitalism

Food, Justice, Violence and Capitalism

In 2015, India’s internal intelligence agency wrote a report that depicted various campaigners and groups as working against the national interest. The report singled out environmental activists and NGOs that had been protesting against state-corporate policies. Those largely undemocratic and unconstitutional policies were endangering rivers, forests and local ecologies, destroying and oppressing marginalised communities, entrenching the corporatisation of agriculture and usurping land rights.

These issues are not unique to India. Resistance against similar practices and injustices is happening across the world. And for their efforts, campaigners are being abused, incarcerated and murdered. Whether people are campaigning for the land rights of tribal communities in India or for the rights of peasant farmers in Latin America or are campaigning against the fracking industry in the UK or against pipelines in the US, there is a common thread: non-violent protest to help bring about a more just and environmentally sustainable world.

What is ultimately fuelling the push towards the relentless plunder of land, peoples and the environment is a strident globalised capitalism, euphemistically termed ‘globalisation’, which is underpinned by increasing state surveillance, paramilitary-type law enforcement and a US-backed push towards militarism.

The deregulation of international capital movement (financial liberalisation) effectively turned the world into a free-for-all for global capital. The ramping up of this militarism comes at the back end of a deregulating/pro-privatising neoliberal agenda that has sacked public budgets, depressed wages, expanded credit to consumers and to governments (to sustain spending and consumption) and unbridled financial speculation. In effect, spending on war is in part a desperate attempt to boost a stagnant US economy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dave Murphy: Will Monsanto’s Loss Result In Less Poison In Our Food?

rganicconsumers.org/

Dave Murphy: Will Monsanto’s Loss Result In Less Poison In Our Food?

An update on the situation with glyphosate

In November 2016, a very concerning report — Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate — was released by The Detox Project and Food Democracy Now!, raising the alarm of the high levels of glyphosate in the US food supply and the (deliberate?) low levels of awareness of its associated health risks.

Soon after its release, we brought Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!, on the podcast to explain the explosive findings within this report on the world’s most-used herbicide (more commonly known by its retail brand: Roundup). We asked: Are we being poisoned in the pursuit of profit?

As happened in past decades with the alcohol and tobacco industries, the glyphosate report added compelling evidence that profits have indeed taken a priority over consumer safety in our food production system — and as public health concerns mounted, Big Ag started circling its wagons and attacking the questioners rather than embracing open scrutiny.

But last month, the tables turned. In a landmark upset ruling, Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller was ruled to be carcinogenic, and the company’s attempt to hide this fact from consumers made it guilty of acting “with malice or oppression”. Monsanto’s new parent company Bayer was ordered to pay the plaintiff, a former school groundskeeper now dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, $289 million in damages.

Will this court ruling restrict the use of glyphosate going forward? Or will it be de-fanged upon appeal? What else has been learned about the health impacts of glyphosate in our food since the 2016 report? What is the latest science telling us?

To address these important questions and more, we welcome Dave Murphy back on the program.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

3 Ways to Make Food Go Further That Will Help You Now (AND When the SHTF)

3 Ways to Make Food Go Further That Will Help You Now (AND When the SHTF)

A lot of folks think those Depression Era techniques for stretching food are only for a worst case, SHTF scenario. But in truth, those ideas are good for every day, because the price of food just keeps going up, up, UP. It’s more important now than ever to make your food go further.

The ability to make the food you have feed more people (and leave them feeling full and satisfied) will stand you in good stead if things go horribly wrong. But I think it’s important to do this in the meantime too. If we went back to the ways that our grandmothers made food last during the Great Depression, we could take a big chunk out of our grocery bills, eat more scratch cooking, and stop wasting so much food.

Here are three ways to stretch your food.

Use all your leftovers

One thing that happens a LOT in America is food being thrown in the trash. Up to 40% of our food supply is actually wasted, according to multiple sources. While there isn’t much we can do about food in restaurants or the grocery industry, we don’t have to waste food at home.

That’s where the art of repurposing leftovers comes in handy. Most folks don’t want to eat the same thing over and over again. (Except me – I can eat the same meal for a week straight, and I absolutely love it.) But if you take those leftovers and turn them into something entirely different, then that’s half the battle.

The best thing about using up all your leftovers is that it’s like free food. You are eating the stuff that many people leave in the fridge so long it has to be thrown out. Not you. You’re eating it and loving it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Weed-Killing Carcinogen Glyphosate Found In Children’s Foods

Weed-Killing Carcinogen Glyphosate Found In Children’s Foods

The known carcinogen and infamous weed killing chemical glyphosate has just been found in breakfast foods marketed for children. A new study has discovered trace amounts of the most widely used herbicide in the country in oats, granolas, and snack bars.

Concern over glyphosate has continued to grow in the United States in recent years.  Although the chemical may be safe in some amounts to spray on weeds if certain safety precautions are taken, it is probably a lot more dangerous if it’s ingested by a child. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that thirty-one out of 45 tested products had levels of glyphosate that were higher than what many scientists consider safe for children.

The study, which was conducted by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that many of the breakfast foods marketed to children contain glyphosate.  “I was shocked,” said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, who heads the Council on Environmental Health for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although not much is known about the effects of the chemical on children, parents and doctors are concerned. “We don’t know a lot about the effects of glyphosate on children,” Lowry said. “And essentially we’re just throwing it at them.”

We’re very concerned that consumers are eating more glyphosate than they know,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG, according to CBS News. Faber has been working to improve food safety standards for more than a decade. He said he and his team at EWG conducted the study which included a lab test involving “45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.” The researchers found glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed-killer Roundup, in all but two of the products.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

MIT Computer Model Predicts Dramatic Drop In Quality Of Life Around 2020 And The “End Of Civilization” Around 2040

MIT Computer Model Predicts Dramatic Drop In Quality Of Life Around 2020 And The “End Of Civilization” Around 2040

Is humanity approaching a major turning point?  A computer model that was originally developed in 1973 by a group of scientists at MIT is warning that things are about to dramatically change.  If the computer predictions are accurate, our standard of living will start to decline dramatically around the year 2020, and we will witness the “end of civilization” around the year 2040.  Of course this is not the first time ominous predictions such as this have been made about our future.  For years, experts have been warning that we are heading for severe shortages of water, food and oil as our limited natural resources begin to run out.  For years, experts have been warning that our economic model is not sustainable and that we are heading for a historic collapse.  For years, experts have been warning about the alarming increase in seismic activity all over the planet and about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Society is crumbling all around us, and the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together.

So maybe this computer model is on to something.

The name of the computer program is “World One”, and it was originally created by Jay Forrester

The prediction came from a programme nicknamed World One, which was developed by a team of MIT researchers and processed by Australia’s largest computer.

It was originally devised by computer pioneer Jay Forrester, after he was tasked by the Club of Rome to develop a model of global sustainability.

However, the shocking result of the computer calculations showed that the level of pollution and population would cause a global collapse by 2040.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Joel Salatin: The Rise Of Rogue Food

Joel Salatin: The Rise Of Rogue Food

A ‘food freedom’ revolt against the government is starting

This week, we welcome back Joel Salatin to the podcast. Labeled by The Washington Post as “the most famous farmer in America”, Joel has spent his career advocating for sustainable farming practices and pioneering models that show how food can be grown and raised in ways that are regenerative to our topsoils, more humane to livestock, produce much healthier & tastier food, and contribute profitably to the local economy.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, the government and Big Ag for starters. Joel refers to himself as a ‘lunatic farmer’ because so many of the changes he thinks our food system needs are either illegal under the current law or mightily resisted by the deep-pocketed corporations controlling production and distribution.

And this anti-competitive restriction and stifling of small sustainable food producers is only getting worse. While dismayed at this, Salatin finds hope in the burgeoning rebellion of the “rogue food” resistence breaking out:

I’m not optimistic at all about where the government and all its bureaucracy is headed. It is getting more and more stifling. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that Obama put through, it’s absolutely stifling. It’s size prejudicial. It’s putting an inordinate price pressure on smaller producers. That’s a fact all the way across the board. And the cost of compliance is escalating — the amount of paperwork, the amount of licensing, the amount of testing and procedural stuff that’s happening on farms — is through the roof.

So on the federal level, I think it’s getting worse. Now, I think what’s happening on the local level, the other thing that’s a pushback that’s happened, is what’s now known as the food sovereignty movement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Start an Urban Farm

HOW TO START AN URBAN FARM

Like any new venture, starting an urban farm is a daunting and difficult task. Not only do you have to find land to farm, but that land also must be suitable for growing food. Not only do you have to know how to grow food, but you also have to know what to do with your bounty when harvest time comes around. What has often been referred to as “the simple life” is actually extremely complex and intensive.

And yet many people around the world are choosing to start urban farming ventures of their own to strengthen the bonds of communities and teach people that real food comes from the ground — not from supermarkets. It sounds like an obvious statement, but our food system makes it quite easy to hide all the sweat, work, and dirt that goes into food production and only focus on the finished, packaged products that line the grocery store shelves.

Why Start an Urban Farm?

It’s an unfortunate but true fact that threats to public health are everywhere in today’s modern world. Our food system, one that contributes to the greater problem of climate change, is a huge part of this issue.

How often do we visit the grocery store and buy fruits and vegetables with stickers that mark them as world travelers without ever thinking of how long their journey to our plate might have been? This is even easier to do when the food we buy is so processed that it doesn’t look like real food at all.

In a world where 36 percent of American adults are obese, the state of the food system in the U.S. is a crisis we must address. And what better way to take action against it than to start an urban farm to better feed yourself, your friends and family, and your community?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Population growth and food: A systems perspective


In this age of the Anthropocene, it is necessary to look inward as well as outwards to find systemic solutions. People may or may not be “a plague on earth” as David Attenborough has stated, but we are without doubt the dominant force on this planet. Some introspection is needed if we are to use our power ethically.

As Organisational Outreach Officer for Population Matters, my task is to contact ethically-oriented organisations (from faith organisations to environmental NGOs) and suggest ways in which the issue of population growth could be covered on their website and integrated into their ethos. Many organisations I approach agree that population size contributes to climate change, conflict and malnutrition, but they frequently respond by saying that the issue lies outside of their remit. Population Matters’ patron Jonathon Porritt talks about the reasons why organisations avoid referencing population growth in this 14-minute video, debunking a few myths along the way.

To be truly systemic, one has to include all aspects of the problem. So what is ‘systemic’ or ‘systems thinking’? In simple terms, it is an approach for analysing complex issues by viewing them holistically, as purposeful systems containing interdependent variables, stakeholders and perspectives. This allows an awareness of one’s own bias and limitations. Systems practitioners use simplified diagrams to uncover key issues and when this is done comprehensively they are able to see the interwoven social, economic, political and environmental dimensions.

The issue under investigation here is the global food system, the purpose of which is to feed humans (and to a certain extent livestock) over a sustained period of time. It is embedded in and dependent on ‘macro’ systems as shown in the diagram below.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Real Food Does Not Come From Supermarkets: 6 Steps From Bare Ground to Homegrown Cauliflowers

REAL FOOD DOES NOT COME FROM SUPERMARKETS: 6 STEPS FROM BARE GROUND TO HOMEGROWN CAULIFLOWERS

I imagine that when our grandchildren and great grandchildren read in history books about the supermarkets we relied upon for food, they’ll wonder what we were thinking.  

My goal is to get to where our family can live without the supermarket entirely. There are many things we have yet to learn, but we’re well on our way.  

We already raise all of our own meat and eggs, and most of our dairy foods. Some fruit trees are in, although not producing yet.  

The number one food growing focus for us right now is learning to grow more of our own vegies. In this article I share the steps we recently took to get from bare ground to our first ever homegrown cauliflower.  

By the end of the article you’ll appreciate that if we can do it, anyone can.  

Step 1: Marking it out and setting up the framework 

In early March, Alain and I finished clearing the space for our new covered vegie garden and erected our new vegie net, to see how it fitted.  

Once we were sure we had it all in the right place, we took the netting off again to work on the beds. 

 12th March – Posts in, marquee frame in place, vegie net lying in foreground. 

The 6 large white outside posts consist of a steel picket driven into the ground, with a piece of white pipe placed over them. The frame in the middle is an old marquee frame that we got second hand.  

The area is approximately 6m by 5m. 

Step 2: Digging trenches for the mounded garden beds 

For this garden we wanted to raise the beds (our climate can be very wet), but we didn’t have materials to create the sides of raised beds, and we didn’t want to spend money on such materials.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Diet, Ignorance and the Environmental Catastrophe

Diet, Ignorance and the Environmental Catastrophe

Climate Change sounds vast and impersonal, but it’s really a very personal matter; a global crisis caused by the individual actions humanity has collectively taken. All too often such actions proceed from a position of ignorance selfishness and habit, and are undertaken with little or no understanding of the effects on the natural environment.

The debate around climate change commonly focuses on transportation, deforestation, and energy – replacing fossil fuels with renewables. This is right and urgent, and some countries are taking steps; however, what is not tackled at all is the devastating impact of a meat/dairy diet, – common to 97% of humanity. According to Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts Through Producers and Consumers (RFEI), a detailed report published in the journal Science, consumption of animal produce is “degrading terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, depleting water resources, and driving climate change.”

Industrial farming of cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, plus harvesting fish, for human consumption is the single greatest cause of the interconnected environmental catastrophe; unless urgent substantive change takes place this could single-handedly lead to a polluting point beyond redemption. Misinformed, irresponsible lifestyle choices are behind the environmental crisis. The vast majority of people are unaware of the devastating effects of our collective eating habits, and from this position of uninformed ignorance disaster flows; the earth is poisoned, the climate disrupted and all manner of lives are lost.

Animal agriculture is responsible for approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This is more than any other sector, including manufacturing and transportation. The principal climate change contaminate is methane (44%), which comes mainly from rearing cattle – the source of 65% of all livestock GGE’s. While methane’s atmospheric life is only decades compared to centuries/millennia for carbon-dioxide (Co2) Scientific American reports that it “warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2,” before degrading to become CO2: So it’s a double whammy, an intensely damaging one.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Ornamental Plants That are Edible and/or Edible Plants That are Ornamental

ORNAMENTAL PLANTS THAT ARE EDIBLE AND/OR EDIBLE PLANTS THAT ARE ORNAMENTAL

When I first began growing food and working with ideas of permaculture, I lived in the tropics where many edible plants leaf out large and are exceptionally stunning. Moreover, the places I found myself building gardens tended to be free-for-alls, where anything goes and HOAs didn’t interfere with what people planted on their property.

Last year however, after twelve years abroad, I moved back to the US. Where often people aren’t allowed to grow food at home. Because I’m more into rural areas, I don’t foresee much issue in this regard to me personally. However, I’m often asked for advice and eventually, I may do some consulting work.

Suddenly, the idea of having to gett around these committees and associations seems an important avenue for getting people into home food production. I already knew that it was possible to create an “ornamental” garden entirely with plants that are edible. However, now in the temperate climate, it was time to learn some of the plants with which to work.

(Please follow links, if necessary, for Latin names and more information.)

Perennials

Sticking with the principle that perennial plants are always a plus, I would want to recommend several to go into the garden. The selling points – there are many. Perennial plants put fixed roots into the soil, which take nutrients less intensively than annuals. In terms of appearance, they often appear earlier and provide earlier blooms as well, and in many cases, they hang on a bit longer. Ultimately, they are lower maintenance, often spreading out on their own, which makes for easy gardening.

Hosta

Perennial Edible Ornamentals

There are several ornamental plants that grow perennially, some of which are noted for being delicious as well as attractive.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The True Cost of Food: An Excerpt from Nourished Planet, Publishing in June 2018

The True Cost of Food: An Excerpt from Nourished Planet, Publishing in June 2018

True cost accounting is a revolutionary way to measure the total societal impacts from food production. Nourished Planet explores ways to uncover the hidden costs of the food system.

Relocalising the food chain: Why it matters and how to do it

It’s hard to escape the growing interest in local food over the past few decades. Whether it’s restaurants boasting fresh, local produce on their menus, the rise in farmers’ markets and farm shops or the growth of box schemes such as Riverford, it’s clear that people value food that comes with a story. Even supermarkets have noticed, as Morrisons credits soaring demand for regional produce for its healthy profits last year. In order to understand the movement better, and to see where it might be headed, it is worth exploring the motivations behind it.

For there is more to ‘local’ than meets the eye. After all, nobody gets excited about eating bacon from the local intensive pig unit or white sliced bread from the in-store bakery at the supermarket. Instead the term is shorthand for a vision of food characterized by small-scale farming and growing, heritage breeds, artisan processing, family businesses and traditional skills.

It is also about self-reliance and ‘taking back control’, in the sense of using what grows locally with a minimum of inputs and rejecting globalization. It is about a sense of connection, which we have traded in for the convenience of the modern food industry, but with mixed feelings, as the Food Standards Authority’s report Good Food for All notes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Using a Greenhouse for Food Self-Sufficiency

Using a Greenhouse for Food Self-Sufficiency

This Greenhouse Invention from Purdue Could Help Address the Global Food Crisis

Recently, researchers at Purdue University have been working on creating an automated conveyor-belt type system for their 1,000-square-foot, on-campus greenhouse that’s designed to keep plants within the structure constantly moving. The team hopes that developing this technology will pave the way for options to address the looming global food crisis, as the world’s population is expected to grow to over nine billion by 2050.

The conveyor system will ensure all plants receive consistent growing conditions within a greenhouse; plus the researchers are working to determine the best possible seeds to use to create the highest crop yields, based on the uniform conditions created inside. The team is also hoping to discover which seeds are the most drought- and climate-resistant.

Here’s How You Can Better Utilize a Greenhouse Too

As more and more people focus on how to solve the food crisis, as well as how to limit the environmental damage done by farmers, corporations, and general over-population, individuals can also take steps to grow more of their own food and limit their carbon footprint.

If you want to increase your self-sufficiency, and help the planet at the same time, using a greenhouse can be a great step.

If you’ve never used one before, or haven’t had the results you’ve expected, it’s important to understand some of the best ways to use the structure effectively. Whether you choose a small basic greenhouse or one of the larger hoop greenhouses which are on the market, the basics stay the same. Read on for some tips to follow today.

Choose the Best Greenhouse for Your Needs

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Everything You Need to Know To Grow a Big Crop of Cucumbers

Everything You Need to Know To Grow a Big Crop of Cucumbers

Nothing beats the summer heat like a fresh cucumber from the garden. These sun-loving vegetables are great for first-time gardeners and easy to grow.

Pickling cucumbers, like Boston Picklers are prolific when they get going and are perfect for canning, but slicing cucumbers are best for salads. Did you know that cucumbers have electrolytes and are high in potassium? So they’re a wonderfully refreshing snack to help you beat the Summer heat!

Here are some cucumber growing facts:

  • For one person, plant two to three plants in the garden.
  • On average, one cucumber plant produces two to three pounds of fresh cucumbers.
  • For square foot gardeners, all you need are two plants per square foot.
  • Did you know you can grow cucumbers inside for year-round cucumbers? Planting in a greenhouse or area of the home where cross-pollination cannot take place is best.

Growing Tips for Lots of Cucumbers

There are two methods you can use to grow cucumbers:

Starting cucumbers indoors

Cucumbers can be started indoors in peat pots or small flats and transplanted in a few weeks to the garden. The best time to start seeds is three to four weeks before the last frost. Plant 1 seed per pot in moist soil and place in a sunny window. Seeds should emerge within a few days. Give cucumbers plenty of sun and lots moisture until 3-4 true leaves grow. Begin hardening off cucumber plants by setting them outside for a few hours each day until they are used to extended hours of sunlight.

When young plants are ready to be moved to the garden, wait to plant in the ground until soil temperatures reach 70 degrees F and take extra care to protect young cucumbers from frost.

Directly sow seeds in the garden

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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