This is probably the most important documentary of your life. Grab your neighbors, your family, your PTA or book group and sit down together to see what GMO’s have done and are doing to all of us. From the Institute for Responsible Technology.
You won’t look at food the same way again.
Genetic Roulette exposes the dirt behind Big-Biotech’s Big failed experiment.
Genetic Roulette—The Gamble of Our Lives was just awarded the Top Transformational Film of 2012 by AwareGuide! More than 15,000 people from 50 countries voted for 30 films, including three on this year’s Academy Award shortlist. ButGenetic Roulette was the “clear winner” by a wide margin.
This honor is the second award for Genetic Roulette, which also won 2012 Movie of the Year by the Solari Report. In celebration of all those who voted (and whose lives were transformed by the movie), we are extending the free screening through February 10th.
Please go to: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/genetic-roulette-free-screening/ and watch Genetic Roulette.
Yes, it was that warm here in Whittier, NC last Sunday. I took advantage of the balmy January thaw to re-make my garden. I transformed four narrow raised beds into one large square. Then I cut out a keyhole on the south side giving me access to the interior of the square for ease in planting and weeding.
I love the African keyhole gardens and devote a chapter to two styles of creating them in my book, simply garden small!I just don’t have that much rock collected so this one will be an improvised version. There is still more material to add to this foundation of straw and last year’s soil. I want the height to double and after the 8-12″ of rain we’ve experienced this week, I think that’s a great decision. More height=better drainage. More height = more organic materials, more compost, more fertility. More photos to come as the keyhole garden really takes shape. This is it so far. Can you find the keyhole itself?
This weather won’t last, in fact it should break this evening with colder temps in the 40′s and a chance of snow. In a couple of weeks, my friend Dennis will be picking up the Biodynamic Compost we used last year, I’ll haul in more topsoil and dust in some wood ash before planting peas. Last year I followed the North Carolina County Extension Service’s recommendations for planting. And I was behind all season. Warm weather caught up with me by April and early crops like peas, spinach, beets, just didn’t quite make it. My site is a bit too shady as well so I hope having the soil exposed to any early warmth will help me out this year. Thanks to climate change, we can throw out any garden advice that starts “normal planting time.” I don’t think there is such a thing anymore….
But I’m not the only person or place that is walking between two different worlds when it comes to planting a garden. Climate change is affecting every gardener and farmer on the planet and we no longer can predict what is usual and customary. That’s why we need to have options for the variations. One reason I re-designed my garden is to allow for the addition of a frame and cover. If it becomes too wet overall this summer, I want to imitate my good Irish organic growers with a “polytunnel” or what we call a hoop house. Keep out the rain when we don’t need it but allow the sunshine. Or I can extend the season into the fall and winter with the same plastic cover. Have no idea which I’ll need this year but hey, it’s just another adventure in 21st century sustainability.
An excellent January, 2013 article in Slate.com by Mark Hertsgaard gives a readable and thoughtful over-view of the constraints of agribusiness farming, genetically modified seeds and how neither may be our ticket to ride out climate change. Hertsgaard writes:
More and more agricultural experts are saying we need a shift to ecological agriculture, sometimes known as agro-ecology. Ecological agriculture eschews applying chemical fertilizers to soil; rather, it favors compost and manure, which increase the soil’s fertility and ability to retain water—key advantages against hot, dry weather. And rather than monocultures, agro-ecology fosters a diverse agricultural landscape where nature’s processes are utilized not only to grow food but to maintain the health of the soil, water, and biodiversity that make agriculture possible in the first place.
I address the same issue in a much more simplistic way in my book. The soil is our key to survival. If the soil isn’t healthy, no one is healthy. And if there is no soil, there is no food supply. This isn’t rocket science. And you don’t need a degree in agronomy to figure that one out. However, those who would control the food supply would like you to believe that you can damage the soil all you want, put back nothing except chemicals and STILL grow healthy food. Does that make sense to you?
The core of my book, simply garden small!promotes many examples of food growing systems that can be maintained by one person alone or very few. This allows for complete control over everything from location, to what is grown, the maintenance of the soil, and who eats the produce. No middle person is involved. Not much outside influence. It’s a dynamic relationship. A marriage. A commitment.
How does one develop a deep personal commitment to 1000 acres of GMO soybeans? You don’t. The commitment is to making money, not the continuation of a healthy ecosystem or chemicals could not be part of the relationship.
When I was a very small child and worked beside my grandfather in his garden, I saw him do something once that shocked me: he picked up the soil after he had dug it up and put some on his tongue. After a few seconds he spat it back on the garden. I was always told NOT to eat dirt, that I could get diseases from doing that. In my 30′s when I was a young hippie back-to-the-lander, I saw another older farmer, an organic farmer we’d call him today, do the same thing. I asked why he put his field dirt into his mouth, couldn’t that make him sick? This is what he told me.
“I can tell by the taste of my field what it needs, if it’s healthy, if the crop will be good. If you can’t eat your soil, you sure as hell don’t wanna eat what comes out of it.”
Question for you this week: What climate change issues are you experiencing where you live? (If you believe in climatic changes taking place, that is.) And how are you or how do you plan to cope with it in planning your garden?
Oh, and one more thing. Before you rush out to buy seeds or just order what you’ve always ordered, check out the latest version of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which was updated in 2012 to account for some of the climatic variables we’re experiencing.
Hope to see you in the garden sometime, Yvonne
PS: A paperback edition of my book will be available soon. Watch for details on how to order!
This ad from SendACow.org sounds like a musical invitation to my book!
I, also, believe that the solutions must be simple, uncomplicated, easy to replicate. And SendACow is a great example of an organization that is doing just that!
Is it the crazy little cow cartoons from the children’s site www.cowforce.com, the abundance of easy to follow directions on gardens, tap-taps (bet you don’t know what that is, do you?) or the variety of videos reminding me how easy it is to bring someone out of hunger? I’m not sure what brings me back time after time to this happy charity in Bath, England. I do know that I have benefited so much from all the ways that SendACow educates both local populations mostly in Great Britian and in Africa by inviting school children to delve into the daily lives of their student counterparts in countries where SendACow works and supports a better life for so many.
When I stumbled upon SendACow several years ago, I would spend hours watching the videos and reading the articles just to catch the looks of satisfaction on the faces of children and adults alike because they were now growing their own food and tending their animals. The gardeners and herdsmen exuded such confidence and pride as they provided instructions on how to create gardens that really work.
I’m proud to be a supporter of SendACow. I think you will as well after watching this video. Don’t be surprised if you have a sudden urge to start collecting lots of rocks. Once you’ve seen a keyhole garden, you just got to have one of your own. Make it the centerpiece of your backyard; turn it into your herb bed; drape it with medicinals and flowers. Oh the things you can do with a keyhole garden.
This weeks question: What are some of the ways you know are working to end hunger and improve lives at the same time? Think ‘Handups,’ not just ‘handouts.’ Share your ideas in the comments. Have a bountiful week!
This year I’ve made one resolution: to ask more questions and pose fewer answers.
Answers are like dead-ends and speedbumps. They stall the energy of exchange or slow down the conversation. Questions on the other hand, are like seeds—something can grow inside a question: a relationship can germinate, a solution can be offered, an understanding can begin, a bridge can be built between what I think I know and what I don’t know yet. My goal for my blog this year is to pose a new question every week and provide space for those answers or comments to nourish me and my readers.
Finishing my book only heightened this awareness for me. I realized at the end of it, that I had more questions than answers, that my book was just touching on one tiny corner of the problem of hunger even though it is an important edge and one I believe has great potential.
Here is my plan for the next 52 weeks of 2013: to pose a question here and on my Facebook page each Tuesday, beginning today, and learn from the responses what readers find important skills to have, books to read, places to explore, mentors, experiences, that may assist in understanding and alleviating hunger. Yes, the goal of my book was to end malnutrition and hunger and as supremely smug as that might sound, I do see the possibility of that smugness irritating readers enough for them to respond—with their thoughts, ideas, reflections–and generate whole new possibilities that have not even been explored yet!
To make it more fun, this is also a contest because YOU will be providing the questions. I’m not sure how long it will take to catch on, but here’s the way it can work: post your question on my Facebook page simply garden small! on Tuesdays. I’ll post one as well. Each week, the posted questions with the most responses–not just ‘likes’–will receive a FREE copy of my book (either printed or digital) plus a packet of heirloom seeds from an amazing non-GMO seed purveyor. And if you’ve got an over-whelming gaggle of responses, you might end up with some of the Appalachian string bean seeds saved from my garden last summer. Ay yep.
Think of this as a Facebook “think tank” or a Facebook type of TED talk on ending hunger. Feel free to post links to your organization or other organizations working on hunger issues, photos, videos, whatever you want to share as long as it applies to the QUESTION for that week. One word, one comment, or a paragraph. It doesn’t matter as long as it pertains to the QUESTION. We should have an amazing resource by the beginning of 2014.
Thank you in advance for participating and sharing and bettering our understanding of the world. I’ve learned that the most reasonable and productive solutions come from those closest to the issue, not higher up. Let’s put our heads and hearts together and ask questions.
Our Question for this week: ”How do YOU define hunger?”
Happy New Year of Peace, Community, Love and Abundant Good Health!
But not another Mayan prediction. Just a lovely idea to contemplate. Solstice for some of us is the real New Year celebration. Our Shadow and Our Light are evenly divided, enough light to see our shadow and enough shadow to appreciate our light. I was blessed this year to complete my book on simple gardening ideas to help reduce hunger and reverse malnutrition. It’s called simply garden small! and it’s currently available through Amazon.com in digital format. A print edition is being “cooked” as I write and I’ll be marketing it through this website shortly.
It feels good to celebrate tonight the many people and organizations that gave me of their experience, their knowledge, their encouragement. They were my light in the shadow world of hunger. It’s my intention in the coming year, to bring all that I’ve learned and condensed into my book, to as many people and groups as possible. As this video from one of my sources proves, we CAN end hunger. Thank you to SendACow.org for teaching me about bag gardens and keyhole gardens. May this year of 2013 be the year of Ending Hunger. Enjoy the video!
Well, I hadn’t really thought about it until my daughter, Mariella Funk, was filmed doing this cooking demonstration for Channel Fox2Now in St. Louis, MO, recently. Check it out!
Mariella works for Operation Food Search, a large food bank in St. Louis as a cooking educator. She is also completing her culinary arts program and one heckuva fine cook as you can see. Mariella also contributed the recipes for my recently published book, simply garden small!
Kale is one of those amazing green leafy highly nutritious vegetables that offer a nearly year round food source. Plant kale in the early spring and munch on it through the summer. However, kale really shines when the temperatures start to drop in the late summer or fall and nothing tastes better than fresh kale in the dead of winter. I keep several stems of kale going all winter under a plastic sheet or when it’s very cold, it’s own personal blanket.
By February or March, the kale is losing its vitality so I let some go to seed and plant new beds for another year of healthy, hearty kale. Here’s my winter bed of Russian kale and lacinato kale doing quite nicely under a floating row cover for now.
Kale and chard getting some sun on Thanksgiving!
Kale is really a must-have in any small garden because it is so hardy, prolific and highly nutritious.
Fertilize every 2-3 weeks in the summer or once a month in the winter with compost tea or fish emulsion.
And I’m thankful for my container gardens that provide a whole lot of micronutrient-rich food in small spaces.
I hope that you and yours are enjoying the fruits of your garden this Thanksgiving and that you please remember our neighbors in the northeast and in Haiti recovering from Hurricane Sandy. They will still need our support long after the holidays. I recommend following InterOccupy at interoccupy.net/occupysandy/ for updates on volunteering, donations and relief efforts.
Our neighbors in Haiti are reeling from the crop and orchard damage from Sandy. A monthly contribution of just $20 to the What If? Foundation will feed a child for entire month! Put What If? in your budget this year. Go here to donate.
“By controlling the seed you control the farmer. By controlling the farmer you control the whole food system. And that’s the legacy of genetics in farming”.
Liz Hosken, Founder and Director of The Gaia Foundation.
October has become the traditional month to focus on the issues of food: whether hunger issues and stocking up food pantries, poverty actions to stop forced evictions, or as this month’s post hopes to make clear, how all these issues are dynamically tied together with the history of GMO’s — genetically modified organisms via seeds. So many of us food activists are declaring this October as Non-GMO Action Month as well. Check out the website here at The Non-GMO Project.
I have railed and rallied against GMO seeds since 1994. I started out by signing a post card to the US Department of Agriculture that stated my firm opposition to what we then called “frankenfoods.” How prophetic and naive. We thought we could gather enough folks to the cause simply by educating them on the limited knowledge we had then about long-term outcomes of messing with the genetics of our food system. The corporations of course struck back: GMO foods were the answer to world hunger and would make food cheaper for everyone! (Bring up the tympani and symphonic music!!!!)
Since then, corporations have virtually taken control of our food chain, and consequently the health and well-being not only of ourselves but future generations as well. Those who control the seed, control us. World hunger continues to grow even though grain and other supplies increase annually and food prices are climbing higher, not coming down. Why?
I encourage you to gather folks in your living rooms, library, community centers and yes, food banks to screen the following short film co-produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. In collaboration with GRAIN,Navdanya International and MELCA Ethiopia and titled simply “Seeds of Freedom,” this film contains the voices of my mentors, my teachers, and the reason and natural wisdom from traditional farmers as well as the experience of Canadian canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser. If you don’t know who that is, you NEED to watch this film!
In my book, simply garden small! I strongly emphasize the use of non-hybrid, non-genetically engineered seeds which allows even the smallest fraction of a garden to become a seed bank, a hedge against hunger if the seeds can be saved. Indeed, to me the most egregious lie promoted by the large bio-tech corporations is the lie of “ending hunger.” But I’ll let the film speak to that with this quote:
“You create a monopoly when you’re providing the seeds which have been engineered to be resistant to the pesticides that are used on those seeds. The net effect of that, is that we’re seeing a vastly increased use of pesticides, which is one of the things that GM was supposed to be tackling. So it’s nothing to do with feeding the world. It’s nothing to do with tackling some of these huge issues we’re facing today. It’s about control of the food sector, of the food economy.” Zac Goldsmith, British Conservative MP and long-standing environmentalist
Set up a screening, download the materials from the Non-GMO Project that you can share at the screening. Start voting for the health of our world–not just with your words, but your pocketbook! That’s the only way to end corporate control on your food supply.
World Zero Evictions Days –
for the Right to Habitat!
8 – 16 October
Week of Action against illegitimate Debt and
International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
Day of Global Action against Capitalism
International day of Rural Women and 25th
anniversary of Thomas Sankara’s murder in
World Food Sovereignty
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
You can download a tri-fold for distribution on the Non-GMO Month here.
Well this has certainly been interesting: I have no idea how an old post was sent out. I checked my email just now and there it was; something I didn’t send. There must be some reason the gremlins decided to forward a July 2011 article but I have no clue how it happened. (more…)
I grew up among the endless cornfields and soybean fields of central Illinois. In the 1950′s and 1960′s, I believed that every country in the world looked like the green and gold patchwork of fields that appeared to undulate straight up to heaven from the edges of our small town. From mid-July to late September or early October, the chaff blew in from the thousands of acres surrounding us as farmers harvested corn and soybeans, alfalfa and sorghum. By Halloween, there were plenty of cornstalks in the fields for those of us needing some more decorations for our front porches. The fields of my youth were a mere 3 or 4 blocks from my house. They are much further away today from my childhood home as the town has grown and after this summer of unrelenting heat, drought and wind, I have to wonder what is to become of the once-verdant lands of the “farm belt.”
My book, simply garden small! will most certainly NOT be on the bedside table of most of those conventional farmers. I wonder if any of them have ever considered how destructive their method of growing food has been to our Mother Earth. Will this be the summer they ask themselves: “Could I do this differently?”
In one scenario that I consider over and over is the even more profound thought: what if this summer of hell-like heat was Mother’s way of ridding herself of Monsanto’s artifical fields?
I don’t wish any farmer financial ruin, especially organic farmers or those brave souls trying to no-till or other non-conventional methods. But how a farmer could believe he/she is getting ahead by not being able to save back seed and needing heavier doses of herbicides and pesticidesstill perplexes me. Subsidies surely helped sedate way too many farmers and for many years, farmers were able to get big loans to get bigger equipment to farm bigger acreages. That’s not the case today. But commercial farmers and what I’ll call conventional farmers have literally chained themselves to a structure that is doomed to fail. And this summer is helping move that along.
As farmers in India commit suicide in the thousands for crop failures and annual indebtedness for Monsanto’s cotton seed, and expensive pesticides and fertilizers, our farmers have yet to see that genetically modified seeds have imprisoned them, taken AWAY the freedom that farming has provided for tens of thousands of years: the freedom to grow food for themselves and their families, to know freedom from hunger and be able to grow a surplus to feed others.
We haven’t figured out a direct way yet to make farmers notice that they themselves are hurting their own pocketbooks with expensive fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and yearly purchases of infertile seeds that so many of us have known for a long time we shouldn’t be eating let alone feeding to our animals. I’m not sure what it will take to move our farmers into commonsense like that of farmers in Haiti, India and other places. They understand that their very life depends on the seeds they can grow AND save each year. They understand food sovereignty begins with who controls not only the production of food but the control of seed as well. Farmers in Haiti in 2010 burned thousands of bushels of donated seeds—from Monsanto. They wanted nothing to do with GMO seed. The seed wasn’t native to Haiti and they couldn’t save it at the end of the season!
From India, the remarkable Dr. Vandana Shiva, has been educating the world about the problems with genetically modified seed. If you want to see the connections and understand this issue at its core, watch this interview with her. And share with anyone still caught up in the myth that GMO seed is harmless and also saving lives through higher yields.
How many summers like this one will it take for our farmers to realize what these farmers know? The only one’s laughing all the way to the bank are the shareholders for Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and the other biotech industries.
Well, last month I promised information on saving seed and it feels even more appropriate after this blog. The simple equation I hope you’ll remember is: SEED SAVING = FOOD SOVEREIGNTY. If you can’t save the seeds in the food you grow, then you are still indentured to someone else in order to eat. Get over it! Saving seed is fun, easy and FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!
I am asked alot about how to save tomato seeds. Well, here’s a little video showing you the process. Enjoy saving your own!
Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Some great seed collections plus loads of information.
Seed to Seed (Second Edition) by Suzanne Ashworth
The next step toward food sovereignty is seed SHARING! How about a seed library? Connect with Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library. This website will take you through all the steps you need to not only save seed, but also set up and develop a library system for your area. We have one in my small town called Sylva Sprouts (cute, no??) started by Jenny McPherson and housed in our County Extension office. Just so you know you don’t have to live in a big city to do this.
Save some seed this fall–beans, peppers, peas, tomatoes and some of the greens like chard or kale or basil. You will be surprised how little it takes to have a whole lotta seeds.
Collect small baby food jars now to put your seed in after they are ready. You can paste the name of the variety on the outside over the old baby food label and glass jars with tight lids stored out of the sun will keep the seeds fresh longer. REMEMBER: even if you only have time for one or two varieties this year, you are on the road to freedom!