Spreading the Word on Growing Your Own

>> Thursday, March 19, 2009

LizM at Hyperlocavore has started a seed share program to get new gardeners started.

This is a great way to help spread encouragement for those who just don’t know where to start. Perhaps offering a few suggestions on when to plant and how to get the soil started would help.

Let’s instill in all of them the great joy we get from harvesting our very first tomato or raspberry.

Pick a newbie gardener on hyperlocavore.com and send them a mix of various seeds, flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables to help them get growing this season!

And then reward yourself for becoming a mentor to a new gardener.


Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness

>> Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Excerpted from Mother Earth News:

You may be familiar with many of the problems associated with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. These “factory farm” operations are often criticized for the smell and water pollution caused by all that concentrated manure; the unnatural, grain-heavy diets the animals consume; and the stressful, unhealthy conditions in which the animals live. You may not be aware, however, of the threat such facilities hold for you and your family’s health — even if you never buy any of the meat produced in this manner.

Factory farms are breeding grounds for virulent disease, which can then spread to the wider community via many routes — not just in food, but also in water, the air, and the bodies of farmers, farm workers and their families. Once those microbes become widespread in the environment, it’s very difficult to get rid of them.

This is particularly troubling because of the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes, an inevitable consequence of the widespread use of antibiotics as feed additives in industrial livestock operations.

than 350 professional organizations have called for greater regulation of antibiotic use in livestock. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has declared antibiotic-resistant infections an epidemic in the United States. The FAO recently warned that global industrial meat production poses a serious threat to human health.

This article contains some very interesting and scary facts we all need to know.

I really am not of an alarmist nature, but I urge everyone to read this.


A Study in Contrasts: We are What We Eat?

>> Monday, March 16, 2009

A Study in Contrasts: We are What We Eat?


ALERT!! HR1105….Another Bill to Force NAIS

>> Thursday, March 12, 2009

Every Thursday for the past 6 Months, Government Officials have raided homes and businesses. Sometimes at gunpoint, sometimes with a warrant, and sometimes with nothing more then the burly bodies that intimidate those about to be oppressed.

The intent of these raids is to gain control of the distribution of such seemingly innocuous ‘weapons’ as raw milk, vegetable seed, cattle and other farm animals. It is nothing more than collusion between the FDA, Department of Agriculture and Monsanto to force small farmers out and to stifle organic farming. The result so far is to terrorize small farm owners and their families. It has also alerted those of us who are sensitive to any attempt by our federal government to control our actions and to force compliance with laws attempting to give up control of time-honored family-owned farming traditions. Once the family-run farm is ‘under control’ they will next cone after backyard gardeners.

Here in the US, Monsanto goon squads routinely trespass onto privately owned land, take samples of privately owned crops and then claim Monsanto’s frankenseed crops are being grown illegally, their patents have been violated. According to Monsanto, these are “unauthorized seeds”. Those two words are a harbinger of things to come and should give you an idea where all of this is headed.

Courts have ruled that if Monsanto’s seeds sprout in a ditch near the uncontaminated natural crops of a farmer who refuses to grow gmo, the crop belongs to Monsanto along with fines and penalties.

The following is a list of those at the vanguard of this very under-reported war:
John Stowers Farm LaGrange, Ohio. Crime: They run a private, members-only food co-op.

Greg Niewendorp, Michigan. Crime: refusing to participate in the NAIS

Steve Hixon, Illinois. Crime: cleaning seeds

Paul-Martin Griepentrog, Wisconsin. Crime: refusing to participate in the NAIS

Democrats are submitting one bill after another in the House and Senate in response to the massive backlash against the National Animal Identification System, making sure that as one bill is exposed and opposed, another quickly takes its place. As farm and ranch groups respond angrily to the overt attempts to end family farming and ranching in favor of industrialized frankenfood factory farms, as Monsanto and other GMO developers gain ever greater ownership of food production and supply, USDA and FDA acting in concert with local law enforcement are raiding farms and ranches.

It was discovered that funding for these bills which have not even been passed, is already underway.

Today, Thursday of course, H.R. 1105 is awaiting assignment to Committee in the Senate. It stands poised to allocate $289 million to APHIS for the implementation of the National Animal Identification System. It also outlines the time frame to implement in 2009 the tracking of 33 species.

We as voters do not go to the polls to elect officials to represent Multi-National Corporations or Lobbyists paid by groups attempting to get their piece of the pie. We elect officials to protect us, the consumer.

If a dozen or more terrorists held two women, 10 children, toddlers and a baby hostage for six hours, the event would be televised nationwide and on the front pages of newspapers the next day. Unless, of course, the perpetrators are members of our federal government.

I find it very disturbing that our main-stream-media has chosen not to report these raids. The only way to learn of them is through blogs, websites, and word of mouth.

I write about this topic from time to time in an attempt to do my part in keeping as many people as possible aware of the progress that Monsanto and other GMO advocates are making toward owning all seed companies. In 2005 Monsanto’s seed/genetic trait holdings were primarily in corn, cotton, soybean, and canola. That year they purchased Seminis, the world’s largest vegetable seed company (see And We Have the Seed) specializing in seed for vegetable field crops.

Now their takeover of the vegetable seed sector continues, as they have announced the intent to purchase the Dutch breeding and seed company, De Ruiter Seeds. This purchase diversifies Monsanto’s seed holdings in vegetable field crops (Seminis) to “protected culture” fruits and vegetables (primarily tomatoes and cucurbits produced greenhouse, hothouse, etc). Analysts from Bank of America say that this gives Monsanto 25% of the world vegetable seed market, but I believe that this is a low estimate.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:

1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.
2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork that having normal seed becomes almost impossible.
3. Monsanto is pushing laws that ensure farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops.
4. There are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA rules that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.”

Monsanto has sued more than 1,500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM crops.

Still think they don’t have a plan to own every seed in the world?

Further Reading:
Everything you need to know about NAIS


Monsanto’s Position on Seed Patent Infringement

Who Own’s Your Tomato?


Let USDA Know How You Feel About GE Food

USDA is currently accepting comments on Genetically Engineered Food Safety. Let them know how you feel.


Goodbye farmers markets, CSAs, and roadside stands

>> Monday, March 9, 2009

Must Read!! The "food safety" bills in Congress were written by Monsanto, Cargill, Tysons, ADM, etc. All are associated with the opposite of food safety. What is this all about then?

As we face an unprecedented economic crisis, and it is hard to be sure what has value, one thing that always does is food. Which is why the corporations are after absolute control over it. But what obstacles to a complete lock on food do they face? All the people in this country who are "banking" on organic farming and urban gardens and most of all, everyone's deepening pleasure in and increasing involvement with everything about food.

Because human beings are by in large good and by in large incredibly resilient and clever, and left to their own devices - that is, free - they would handle this gargantuan financial stupidity the corporations brought us with NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT and all other globalized schemes (which they hope to eventually top off with CODEX). How? By being productive in real ways and locally. And farming is the solid ground under that. Farmers produce something of real value (something we used to take for granted), and from that base, businesses grow up. Local markets, local food processors, local seed companies, local tool and supply companies, local stores ... and an economy based on reality and something truly good for us, too, begins to grow.

We need to get 100% behind the Slow Food Movement, the locavore movement, farmers markets, local farmers, seed banks, heirloom varieties, open pollinated seed varities, fresh milk, fresh eggs, vegetables stands, and freedom. Let your friends know that it's all on the line right now with those "fake food safety" bills brought to us with well-planned evil and more of it to come, by Monsanto, Cargill, Tysons, ADM, etc.

Send a message to Congress.

We need millions to be fighting this. Contact Eli Pariser at MoveOn moveon-help@list.moveon.org to tell him MoveOn is badly needed.


Chickens Manure Biodegrades Crude Oil

Need another good reason to grow your own chickens?

It is an unlikely application, but researchers in China have discovered that chicken manure can be used to biodegrade crude oil in contaminated soil. Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution the team explains how bacteria in chicken manure break down 50% more crude oil than soil lacking the guano.


Happy Birthday!

>> Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today marks the two year anniversary of this blog.

And this is what I woke up to. I love winter’s ability to ‘clean’ the air and paint such beautiful landscapes, but I will be happy to see it gone.

It looks like all the celebrants are enjoying themselves. Great turnout! Party On!

I dumped steer manure in the veg beds and turned it all in yesterday. I was planning to start Pea seeds today. The sun is shining brightly so most of this snow will be gone later today and I can follow through on my plans.


Homemade Cloches for Seedlings

>> Wednesday, March 4, 2009

While looking for ideas on setting my seedlings out early, because frankly I’m getting crowded out of my own home, I found several sites with some handy ideas for cloches.

First one comes from Gardeners’ World. Photo from Gardeners’ World. Make your own cloches to use as handy home-made devices to keep your seeds. Made using hanging baskets and secondary glazing film, they resemble traditional Victorian bell cloches but cost a fraction of the price. The film will be strong enough to last a few months and is easily replaced if it does break.

Here’s an ingenious DIY from Allotment and Vegetable Gardening. While walking to work MisterPlough of Edinburgh, Scotland saw in a carpet shop the plastic matting you can get to protect carpets and thought - that'll work!

This one comes from You Grow Girl. Photo from You Grow Girl. If you're willing to sacrifice a little beauty for a fully functioning device that is not only as cheap as it gets (as in free), but will go the distance, then the plastic bottle cloche is the way to go.

I love the ingenuity of home gardeners. As they say Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

Happy Gardening.


Advice to Overhaul Food Safety System Goes Unheeded

>> Sunday, March 1, 2009

It seems various studies conducted since 1949 have called for the integration of all federal food safety activities into a single, centrally unified framework. In 2003 the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council issued Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food that again highlighted needed improvement to achieve a science-based food safety system.

In 1998, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council issued the report Ensuring Safe Food from Production to Consumption, called for integration and overhaul.

Food borne illnesses plagued consumers long before the FDA’s existence. The FDA dates to 1906 out of the Food and Drugs Act and was primarily concerned with regulating domestically produced and distributed foods and drugs.

Many say the FDA is being stretched to its limits, and the increase in the number of food safety issues bear this out. There simply are not enough inspectors to adequately protect us. Yet the FDA keeps claiming that everything is just fine. President Obama, along with the rest of us, is not buying it. In his own words: "I think the FDA has not been able to catch some of these things as quickly as I expect them to catch them, so we're going to be doing a complete review of FDA operations," Obama told Matt Lauer during an interview broadcast on NBC's "Today" show.

The major reason why this broken system has gotten so broken is because it polices itself. In fact, the Peanut Corporation of America, responsibility for the latest salmonella outbreak claims it was considered in top shape by private investigators.

One of the private inspectors “gave the plant an overall superior rating,” the peanut company’s statement said. “The other rated the plant as ‘meets or exceeds audit expectations (Acceptable-Excellent) ratings.’ ” How could this be? Very shortly after these glowing reports eight people died and 600 others were sickened by product coming from this very same plant.

Reports from ex-employees tell of filth, a roof that leaked rain water which drained all the filth from building materials on its way into the building. Holes were reported in the peanut bags which were obviously caused by rats.

This salmonella outbreak is just the latest, and it represents the full-scale breakdown of a patchwork food safety system.

Some members of Congress are calling for and writing laws to split the FDA into two separate entities. In my opinion this is just a band-aid. Something to give the appearance that Congress is addressing the problem. What needs to be done is to hire more inspectors, develop a more comprehensive program and schedule of inspections and give the FDA the ability to immediately halt operations.

One interesting idea comes from a blog called ‘Dad Talk’ and I immediately found it to have some merit. Create a Citizen Food Corps. To add another layer of inspections. The CFC would be made up of concerned Americans, trained in safety and inspection at the hands of whatever food agency emerges from the ashes.

The key to success of would be to allow unannounced inspections to food plants around the nation complete with photographs. This is our food, we have the right to be able to walk into our nation’s kitchens, as it were, and inspect what we are going to eat. Such transparency would quickly draw attention to problem food makers. Companies that receive a bad report or refuse access to CFC inspectors would face immediate investigation by professional food regulators.

The corporate upside to being inspected more often would lead to a renewed trust in America’s food supply. This alone should be motivation enough for this idea to take flight.

The number of people who have died from trusting food processors is unacceptable and preventable. We have been calling for something to be done for decades. Dont you think something should finally be done about it?


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