Archive for the 'Industrialized Agriculture' Category

Blackbird Naturals

February 9th, 2011

Look what I got in the mail the other day! A beautifully wrapped package from BLACKBIRD NATURALS. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should definitely check them out. The company was started by Anthony (THE RAW MODEL, I’ve been following his blog for a long time), Alexandra and Andrea Maw.

I can’t get over how pretty the package was. Lots of good intentions went into this.

I won this package of their wild green seeds (lambsquarter, wild spinach, and dandelion) from their forum, REPLANT PARADISE. This is such a beautiful thing. They are building food forests and packaging up wild seeds. With companies like MONSANTO contaminating our food supply with genetically engineered and copyrightable mutant seeds, it’s good to know that there are people out there doing things right. I can’t wait until the snow melts so I can plant these. These wild greens are going to be so good for my ailing LIVER (esp. the dandelion)! It will be interesting to see how this goes over in my community garden. I know at least one gardener is NOT going to be happy about me planting dandelion. :)

Here’s to shaking things up!


Troubled Waters

November 10th, 2010

troubled waters
Well, the good news is that ever since I posted the announcement about my KALE CHIPS, I’ve been a busy bee. I did however find time to attend a special screening of this movie, Troubled Waters. This movie sparked quite the CONTROVERSY locally when it was censored by the UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA. Apparently, there were some concerns that many of the questions raised in the film would RUFFLE SOME FEATHERS with some big time funders.

Of course, being the progressive state that Minnesota is (with a huge network of grass roots activists), this only served to draw more attention to the movie.

Who knew that my NEIGHBORHOOD watering hole was in the midst of such a crisis. I was wholly unaware of the extent of it. The movie details many of the water issues that have arisen after years of industrialized agriculture in this region. The runoff from overuse of anhydrous ammonia and other chemicals has had a huge impact on the Mississippi creating dead zones in the gulf and contaminating water sources all along the way. This is a HUGE problem that is not being addressed. What’s interesting to me personally is that ammonia was one of the toxic chemicals I was exposed to in excess (causing my myriad of health issues). They talked about animals in the movie that were exposed and had similar health problems. People don’t know it yet, but this is going to be a HUGE health issue for my generation and generations to follow. Take note, my friends!


Thoughts on Cloning

February 5th, 2008

cloned cows

There has been a lot of talk lately about the FDA approval of cloning. I actually am fairly well informed on this issue as I used to be a medical researcher. I have a masters degree in biology from a pretty prestigious research university. I used to work in a genetics research lab, and I taught genetics at the undergraduate level. I was working in this environment when the first cow was cloned.

It’s interesting that at the time, scientists (in private) were raising a lot of concern about the viability of these animals. Reproduction is actually a very elegant system of checks and balances that allows many layers for correction if something were to go awry. These checks are removed in cloning. During the lifetime of an animal, their system (and genome) undergo a lifetime of assaults to their fidelity (mutations). This allows for variation and evolution over time. Reproducing with another animal who has also undergone a lifetime of assaults, allows those changes to be kept in balance. The likelihood of two animals having the exact same mutations is very unlikely. By combining their gene pools, the offspring is protected from the deleterious effects of these changes. Unfortunately, cloning bypasses this system. Newborn clones are born with a lifetime of genetic assaults intact. An analogy would be making a copy of a cassette tape. The first generation copy would have noticeably less fidelity but would still be audible. However, each subsequent generation would be more affected eventually resulting in white noise (remember poltergeist?).

My concern with cloning as an industrialized commodity would be that it allows a clone to fit neatly into patentable business models. Mass producing clones of cows which were genetically well-off – Super Cow lines, so to speak. Cloning hasn’t been around long enough to study the impact for several generations. We’re still studying the first generations of clones. It seems extremely irresponsible to me to be able to make the assessment that they are safe. Further, it clearly would not be profitable for a company to clone just one generation of Super Cows. Real money is made from mass production. Real money will be made from several generations of clones.  From Super Cows to White Noise.  This is what frightens me. People do not understand the implications (or don’t want to). By the time they do, a few handful of people will have become very wealthy while our food supply will be hopelessly inundated with these tainted animals.

In general, I’m not a very politically active soul. I don’t believe in politics. I’m a cynic you could say. I believe in having beliefs, but I think that once they become movements they turn into something else entirely. So, I tend to keep my thoughts about such things to myself.

However, I read this OP-ED piece today that I found really disturbing. It was clearly slanted and projected a general concern about the safety of cloned meat as being overreactive and ill-informed. It presented Jerry Greenfield’s (of Ben and Jerry’s) quote, ‘It’s just weird’ as the most compelling evidence to be concerned while eluding to possibilities of saving third world countries from starvation as arguments for. These are reasonably political stances to assume, but they are not based on any evidence or seemingly a very thorough understanding of the subject matter. Interestingly, that was what the author was accusing those concerned about cloning of.

My two cents, cloning is bad news. REALLY bad news. Unfortunately, I don’t have any money to make my argument more convincing. But the fact that the FDA is able to overlook something which is so glaringly obvious raises a lot of concerns with me. Just who is paying them after all?


King Corn

January 22nd, 2008

king corn

I watched a great movie last night – KING CORN. It was a documentary about industrialized agriculture. Two friends from college came to Iowa after graduation to grow an acre of corn. Interestingly, both men had great grandfathers who came to the east coast from the same small town in Iowa where they were both in the corn business. While they focused on a really controversial topic, the two maintained a sort of impartial observer status throughout the movie allowing people to draw their own conclusions about their findings. It was really tastefully done.
ellis and cheney

What they did find was both disturbing and enlightening in that it shed light on the roots of our system of industrial agriculture. The system was developed and refined not with with nutrition or food quality in mind. Rather, the system is set up to yield the highest quantity of food commodity ultimately serving the interests of multinational corporations before those who would eat it. The byproduct is that the system is ironically setup to select against the nutritional value of not only the corn that results but also the animals and livestock that are forced to eat it having far reaching consequences that are as shocking as they are unexpected. This movie will change the way you look at corn! One of the most interesting moments of the movie was when they interviewed Earl Butz, a controversial figure in modern farming. He was the architect of the modern farm subsidies which many believe has fueled this imbalance in the system. It was really interesting to get his perspective and to put it in the context of an earlier generation – how their struggles would ultimately shape the problems that we face today. Almost as if the generation that had survived the great depression were fueled by this desire to create an overwhelming abundance. And their dreams have now become our reality – for better or for worse.