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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Easy Ways to Increase the Available Minerals in Your Food

Easy Ways to Increase the Available Minerals in Your Food

Assuming you’re eating the healthiest plant foods, grown in the healthiest soils, that you can find or afford, what else can you do to increase your mineral intake without using pills?

In the first article in this series we discussed the relative nutrition available in supermarket veggies, heirloom veggies from bio-diverse gardens and farms, and edible wild plants.

In the second article, we explored what’s happened to the mineral availability of the plant foods we eat as a result of soil management, and also as a result of our food selection and preparation choices.

In this final article for this series, we’ll explore some ways to maximize our absorption of the minerals that our plant foods offer.

We Need “Outside Help” To Digest Plant Foods

Plant cells have a cell membrane, and then around the outside of that they have a rigid cell wall made out of cellulose and lignin (substances that are particularly hard to digest), which gives plants their structure in the absence of bones to hold them up. We need ways of breaking down this tough cell wall if we are to digest and absorb the nutrients held in plant cells.

Animal cells, in contrast, have a thin, permeable cell membrane which can regulate what comes in and out of the cell but provides nothing in the way of structure[i].

Cooking with heat, fermenting, pickling, or dressing with an oil and vinegar salad dressing are some examples of preparations that break open plant cell walls[ii] and liberate the nutrients they hold.

All these processes cause plants to lose their crunch and change their colour; that’s how you know the cell walls have collapsed.

Think of it as pre-digesting tough plant foods that our digestive systems are not equipped to handle without some outside help.

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

“Crisis In Processing” – Pandemic Exposes Fragility Of Food Supply Chain

“Crisis In Processing” – Pandemic Exposes Fragility Of Food Supply Chain  

Today’s food supply chain crisis began in the meat industry has been developing for decades, and Tyson Foods has helped to create the disaster that is currently unfolding

The problem is consolidation, and with Tyson, JBS SA and Cargill Inc, three mega-corporations that control 66% of America’s beef, as much of it is processed in just a few dozen meatpacking facilities across the US. Only a few companies also dominate pork and Chicken. 

There have been at least 12 closures of meatpacking plants in April because of virus-related issues among employees. This has resulted in at least 25% of pork and 10% of beef processing capacity coming offline in the last several weeks, reported Bloomberg

“This is 100% a symptom of consolidation,” said Christopher Leonard, author of “The Meat Racket,” which examines the protein industry. “We don’t have a crisis of supply right now. We have a crisis in processing. And the virus is exposing the profound fragility that comes with this kind of consolidation.”

On Sunday, Tyson Foods warned in a full-page ad in the New York Times that the “food supply chain is breaking.”

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” wrote Tyson Chairman John Tyson, patriarch of the company’s founding family, in a Tyson Foods website post that also ran as a full-page ad in several newspapers. “The food supply chain is breaking.”

Then on Tuesday, President Trump signed an order for meatpacking facilities to remain open during the pandemic. With plants being forced to stay open as the fast-spreading virus infects workers, that doesn’t necessarily mean workers will show up to work. We discussed that over the weekend in a piece titled “American Farms Cull Millions Of Chickens Amid Virus-Related Staff Shortages At Processing Plants.” 

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

City Region Food Systems – Part IIIA – Scale and Production Strategy

City Region Food Systems – Part IIIA – Scale and Production Strategy

This is the first of a two-part blog looking at scale and production strategy.  In this piece I analyze critiques of smaller scale and alternative production strategies from several angles.  In the second I will discuss problems inherent in the argument that small scale can feed the U.S. population and consider a middle path of scale and production diversity. As in the previous posts (Part IPart II) – I invite your comments, suggestions, and criticisms.

My analysis of this derives from my thinking over the last twenty years as well as engagement in a broad range of food system localization efforts. Early in the noughts I gave a conference plenary talk and made the following statement:

“I’d like to live in a food system in which I know where a significant percentage of my food comes from, not necessarily all of it … I’d like to know that the production, processing, distribution, and waste were done in an environmentally sensitive manner. I’d like to know that the democratic principles upon which this nation (U.S.) was founded are made stronger and not weakened through consolidation and monopolization. I’d like to know that the farmers who grow our food are honored as heroes and not marginalized as commodity producers. I would like to know that every person and consumer working in the food system has the opportunity to reach their potential and is not limited by less than living-wage jobs, poor nutrition, and substandard education. I would like a food system in which food is a right and working honestly is a responsibility.”


Photo: Fibonacci Blue on Flickr

That still resonates with me and is the starting point for much of my thinking.  It is also at odds with the notion that the only way to ‘feed the world’ is by large scale, conventional, commodity-driven agriculture.  It is also at odds with the notion that we can continue consuming an average U.S. diet that is so at odds with eating patterns that are both healthier for people and the environment. 

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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