Blog: Food Sovereignty

 

Food, that which nourishes us and sustains us, has been compromised. Yet, food is a complex topic, one that includes agriculture and large farming methods, food safety, food security, organics, pest management, soil health, water usage and more.

My podcast guest this week, Rachel Sayet, is a member of two food sovereignty groups. As I delved into this tipoic, I realized that food security is often intertwined with food sovereignty yet they have a different focus. What’s the difference between food sovereignty and food security? A lot.

Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations.”

Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption,
social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and
guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve
the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources;
agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local
knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.”

According to The Six Pillars of Food Sovereignty, developed at Nyéléni, 2007 (Food Secure Canada,
2012), food sovereignty is defined by these parameters:

1. Focuses on food for the people by: a) placing people’s need for food at the centre of policies;
and b) insisting that food is more than just a commodity.
2. Values food providers by: a) supporting sustainable livelihoods; and b) respecting the work of
all food providers.
3. Localizes food systems by: a) reducing the distance between suppliers and consumers; b)
rejecting dumping and inappropriate food aid; and c) resisting dependence on remote and
unaccountable corporations.
4. Places control at a local level by: a) placing control in the hands of local food suppliers; b)
recognizing the need to inhabit and share territories; and c) rejecting the privatization of natural
resources.
5. Promotes knowledge and skills by: a) building on traditional knowledge; b) using research to
support and pass on this knowledge to future generations; and c) rejecting technologies that
undermine local food systems.
6. Works with nature by: a) maximizing the contributions of ecosystems; b) improving resilience;
and c) rejecting energy intensive, monocultural, industrialized and destructive production methods.

The Food Sovereignty Alliance website provides detailed information about legislation, events, resources for thoughtful action.

I don’t know about you but I choose organic food grown with sustainable practices that ensure nutritious food, healthy soil, air, and water for future generations. We are slowly turning this planet into one big desert. It’s time for practical action and profound inner change! Please comment and share. Thanks.

Enjoy. Judith

GMO’S: The Science and The Myths: A Reminder

 

The book Ecospasm, by Robert Radin, my podcast guest this week, takes science from today’s knowledge base and plays it forward. He uses the science of GMO seeds, systemic pesticide use and explores possible consequences for our future food supply through fiction. If you missed the podcast on 3/6 you missed a rich discussion concerning unintended consequences.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of blogs to understand the details of our big agriculture system and its use of GMO seed and the use of systemic pesticides. It seemed confusing to me. John and Ocean Robbins conducted a GMO summit in 2014. I thought the speakers, the research available astounding. The more I learn about soil and soil health, watch reports about health concerns, these articles still seem relevant. (You can access these articles right here on my blog page. The category list has GMO and you will find several articles, speakers, scientists, farmers etc. with valuable contributions.)

 

Ecospasm, a sci-fi environmental thriller, plays it forward, a science-based idea of what could happen based on the choices we make for product development.  Maybe as the author suggests, we should try to play it forward. What are the consequences for future generations? Sustainability means we are using enough regenerative practices in farming to ensure our future generations have enough and can do the same and so on.

GMO’S: The Science and The Myths: Part 7

Today I would like to share reports and information coming from farmers. These are real-time farmers working the land and livestock, producing crops and meat the rest of buy and eat. What have they observed with the advent of genetically modified seed crops? Bt corn was the first to be introduced in our food supply of which a huge portion went to livestock feed.

In the GMO summit, I heard Howard Vlieger share his research and observations when GMO’s were first introduced to farmers around 1994. Howard serves on the board of directors for the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) and The Food Freedom Foundation.

Farmers began to notice when Bt corn in the feed was introduced to livestock, the livestock shunned the GMO feed over the non- GMO feed. Also, he states that in a non-scientific manner where livestock and wild animals were given the choice between the two feeds, they consistently walked away from GMO feed.

Howard along with Judy Carmen and colleagues conducted the first scientific study involving feeding GMO grain to some hogs and non-GMO grain to other hogs for their entire lifespan. Here’s what they found in GMO feed hogs:

  1. Their uteri were larger
  2. They weighed 25% more than non- GMO fed hogs
  3. Had severe stomach inflammation: in fact in young males, it was 4x as high.
  4. This study confirmed that GMO feed is related to digestive and inflammation problems

In the soil we see other problems with the use of GMO crops and pesticide spraying:

  1. They extract minerals, chelate them which decreases the amount left for plants uptake.
  2. Last year Iowa experienced a severe drought. Droughts decrease soil microbial activity and decrease soil aggregates which basically loosens the soil structure.
  3. The GMO fields, in the same area experiencing two days of heavy rains, suffered terrible erosion. The non-GMO farmed fields did not. They held up well with two days of intense rains.

Are the crops we grow healthier with the use of roundup ready seed and systemic pesticides sprayed on these crops? Mr. Vlieger states that contrary to what these chemical companies would have farmers believe, they are not. They are more susceptible to funguses and therefore the use of fungicides on crops has increased. These products have created a generation of superweeds and now Monsanto, Dow, for example, are looking for other more potent pesticides. They are seeking approval for application to the farms with superweeds. and they want it ASAP.

Also, the FDA keeps raising the allowable limit of glyphosate to meet Monsanto’s demand.

Finally, glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic in 2010. Remember in a previous post I mentioned that glyphosate is not given by itself but with adjuvants to help drive it into the cell? Ampicillin is one of the adjuvants. Today it has been estimated that 880 million pounds of this antibiotic have been put on the ground. Wildlife, livestock, our pets, and humans are ingesting small amounts of the pesticide, with the adjuvants such as an antibiotic, now found to be present in our food and water supply. The photo to the right shows an aerial view of an extensive Iowa farming area.

Dr. Seneff in her interview during the summit series mentioned that butchers are finding the livers of cows so badly deformed they are not offering beef livers in our supermarkets. And their intestines are so thin they cannot use them to stuff sausages. Check out sausage ingredients. I did. I am seeing on the ingredients label: “in a natural lamb casing” Did you know that that very casing comes from NON- GMO fed sheep in New Zealand?

Howard Vlieger is from Iowa and is a part of the Council for Healthy Food Systems.

Farmers have first-hand knowledge of these problems. I hope you will join me in supporting our local farmers’ efforts to create biologically and organically healthy farms and livestock. Check out your state’s farmers organizations and find out what they are doing to grow safe food. Remember farmers markets are great for our communities but some farmers who come to these markets do use roundup ready seed and spray pesticides. I ask questions if I do not see any organic signs by a vendors booth. I hope you will too.

Judith

Interview: South Windsor Food Alliance

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Today, I am going local with my blog post.

Last summer I helped man the master gardener desk at the South Windsor Farmer’s Market and folks often mentioned Andy Paterna’s  tireless energy on behalf of this Alliance.

I had the privilege the other day of interviewing Andy Paterna, a driving force for the South Windsor Food Alliance (SWFA): Healthy Food System Project.

The SWFA is a grassroots alliance between local residents that supports local farming and related farming ventures. They have a vision that any community can adopt, one that can support our farmers, provide education to our communities including schools. We, the community, benefit enormously.

Their purpose includes: “increase awareness regarding the health benefits of residents eating locally grown foods and to make the connection between where our food comes from and the local farms that have been an important link in the town’s history.”

What is their vision?

It has four parts much like the medicine wheel I write about.

  1. Economic viability for small-scale farmers and food producers.
  2. Based on sustainable farming practices.
  3. Provide healthy-locally grown food for residents.
  4. Develop a circular system: planting seeds > grows vegetables > waste > yields compost.

To this I would add that compost creates sustainable soil, better water absorption that deters water runoff, and ultimately cleans the air. This vision backed by community support, ensures our children will have land and food, health and agricultural understanding for generations to come.hey work with the town’s Park and Recreation department and the local agricultural land preservation advisory committee. Their outreach is extensive too. SWFA has established a farmer’s and artisan market, seek to develop schoolyard gardens, and a green rooftop project.

Eventually they hope to establish a food co-op and food hub for their area along with an Agricultural Arts and Nature Center.

These goals are in operation. The Farmers Market is a mecca for local and fresh produce, music and crafts, grows and shifts with community need. The Farm Museum and Coop are in the development stages. Through various agency cooperative efforts a local farm, fallow for twenty years, is being revived.

Exciting isn’t it. It is with one community’s efforts and vision at a time that we are making a difference in food production.  Their plan is to promote sustainable agricultural practices that move us away from GMO seed and mono crop farming.

Sustainability means: a development which seeks to produce sustainable growth while ensuring future generations ability to do the same by not exceeding the regenerative capacity of their nature.

My Native American elders repeated over and over that what we do affects the next seven generations. Today is the day to act. I will be speaking on Medicinal Herbs for the Alliance in May and hopefully be presenting at the Farmer’s Market as well as promoting my book: At the Garden’s Gate. All classbutterfly-floweres are and will be posted on my website.

What is your vision for your home and community? As always all comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. © all rights reserved. Including photos.

 

 

 

 

Add Ground Nuts For 2015 Garden Planning

 

I came across an interesting article on groundnuts, Apios Americana, at gobotany.newengland.org. Ground nuts were a staple of the Native American diet and a food probably shared with the first settlers. They are a plant, a climbing vine, a member of the pea family, a legume. Obviously they are a native plant. However in my foraging travels or research into wild edibles I have not come across this valuable legume too often.

This vine produces pinkish, lavender and pinkish brown flowers in mid to late august. Pea pods develop below these flowers which are also edible. They are usually found in low damp bottom land and riparian (meaning near water ways, streams, etc.) woods and thickets as ground nuts prefer moist soils. They are a perennial and very hardy. Some growers suggest they can take 2-3 years to harvest a sizable crop, though the tubers can be harvested in the first year. Harvesting tubers , anywhere from a grape to avocado size, usually occurs in the fall.

From a landscaping perspective they can be placed in a woodland garden edge or cultivated beds. Ground nuts can also tolerate semi shade or no shade which can perk up a forest edge not only for the attractive flowers but also as a food source. They can handle moist damp ground areas too.

As a food source, the tubers are typically boiled or baked and have a roasted sweet potato  and some suggest even a peanut like flavor though they are not peanuts. They contain more protein than a potato and are a source of calcium and iron.

Legumes are invaluable to the soil as nitrogen fixers. They can work with microbes to grab nitrogen from the air and convert it so nitrogen can be utilized by the plant. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth. When nitrogen is limited then crop health is impaired. This is also the only way we can get nitrogen in our diet is through food containing nitrogen.

Consider adding ground nuts to your spring garden plan. Putting food source plants into landscapes creates variety of color, textures, habitat and encourages diversity. I have included a source of where to buy the tubers. Have fun planning. We have six foot and higher piles of snow here but I can plan and so can you.

Enjoy. Judith

Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. 

Food betrayal — don’t swallow the lies | Alan Lewis

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I came across this TED Talk on one of my Facebook friends feed who is an organic farmer. It’s good. Alan Lewis gives facts and figures of how we have had our food system taken over by big corporations. Today “the few” control what we eat, the way its produced, and simply have hijacked our food freedom. Our farmers lose. Today only 14% of our food dollars pay the farmer. As you can imagine a hefty amount goes to marketing and advertising. We lose too.

Alan Lewis encourages us to resist the misleading labels, advertising and promotions that we all know on some level are meant to sell us something rather than look at the underlying problems. For example, CAFO’s, Concentrated Animal Feedlots photos, ake most of us deeply saddened. Many sources show us the poor living conditions of our animals that are penned in huge feedlots and the resultant health problem and drugs needed for these populations. And sadly most of us do not want these drugs in our food.

He raises an interesting point: the food war is lost. He suggests all we can do now is resist. Sign petitions. Speak out. Boycott brands with deceptive advertising. Support organic farming in your local area. All actions we can somewhat easily put into our schedules. Pick one and begin.

I encourage you to get on Organic Consumers blog list. They are one of many watchdogs in the food industry that seeks empirical evidence to refute the many claims made by the food industry. Petitions are easy to sign on their site.

Want to understand the GMO issue with science based evidence proving GMO’s do cause problems? I highly recommend the following book:

GMO Myths and Truths from the Organic Consumers Association. It’s easy to download and it’s free. And though it is more technical and science based, the reader can easily read the talking point and view the conclusion.

Do you agree with Mr. Lewis that the food war is over and we lost?

How are you resisting misleading nutritional/product information?

I would like to hear what organizations you support. Our local farmers need us to speak up and use our food dollars wisely. As I mentioned in a previous post, Jeanne Nolan describes in detail the Chicago based city farming efforts that have produced huge results. Check out her book, From the Ground Up.

Also, don’t forget the master gardeners in your area. State Agricultural help desks are manned by volunteers to get answers to your questions. It is there for the beginner and seasoned gardener alike.

Let me know what you have been doing to resist.

Enjoy. Judith

Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. 

 

 

 

Organic Gardening Magazine: Special Edition

 

 

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I picked up the latest copy of Organic Gardening magazine the other day, a special edition that gives the history of the founder, J.I. Rodale. He, in turn, was inspired by Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947) often considered the father of organic farming though he did not use that term per se. J. I. Rodale began by using the terms, concepts even ” organic farming, organic gardening, organic living.” Today we take these terms for granted. And we expect these terms to carry a responsibility, a meaning, a guarantee that our food when grown is produced in an organic way meaning it is chemical, pesticide and GMO free.

It amazes me and frustrates me that we have to fight for a way of agriculture that renews soil, water and air quality. This particular edition shows how one person who followed his passion changed something in our world in a positive way. Remember, in the 1940’s, chemicals became the darlings of post war boom. Unfortunately, we showed no foresight or understanding of the concept “what we do affects the next 7 generations.” When I wrote my paper for my Masters degree in the field of nutrition, my research led me to study after study that showed blatant destruction of vegetation, wildlife and human life when these chemicals were used on test animals and then applied in our landscapes. Today,the use of pesticides has a growing body of research to support the idea that they cause harm. Today, companies are using stronger and stronger poisons to produce our crops. Poisons that other countries have banned.

When one visits organic farms, demonstration gardens where organic soil exists it is magical. And while that may seem like whimsy, it is not. Crops are tasty, produce abundantly, plants are more resistant to disease.

Buy organic. Grow organic. Support organic growers in your area. State University Agricultural Extension Services have great resources and lists of organic farms. Check them out. From container gardens to fields we all have somewhere to plant.

Winter is a good time to catch up on reading, especially for those of us who want to get outside, get our hands in the soil and plant. Rodale’s organic farming has many great resources and  short video’s on a variety of tips for gardening.

The above video begins a journey of one individual carrying facts and figures to congress. His journey continues on youtube.com. Great winter inspiration..

Enjoy. Judith

Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. 

 

 

 

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