Saturday, November 28, 2015

Eco Watch and Carrageenan

I'm extremely disappointed with Eco Watch for publishing this article touting the benefits of carrageenan, a seaweed extract that causes inflammation and some studies say it is carcinogenic. The article is wrong on many levels. It argues that this ingredient is necessary to:

  • feed a hungry world
  • feed the world period
  • preserve food
  • support the global food system
  • keep food costs down

The authors are wrong on all accounts. 

First, there is plenty of food on this planet. Between 30-40% of food is wasted. Also, many of the crops grown do not feed people; they are used to make fuel and to feed animals. 

The idea that there isn't enough food in the world is silly when you consider you can travel to anywhere in the world and get food - IF you have money. That is where the shortage exists - money. 

The assumption that "we" need to feed the world is wrong. What we need to do is to help those who cannot feed themselves to learn to grow food - actually to relearn to grow food because at one time, they were able to do that. We need to help them grow healthy food that doesn't require expensive inputs like synthetic fertilizer, chemical herbicide and pesticides, and GMO seed. When people say that those inputs are necessary to grow on the scale necessary to feed the world's population, that isn't true. An estimated 70-80% of the world's food is grown sustainably and on small farms. 

The global food system is what has caused many nations to stop growing food for domestic consumption. One immediate effect of NAFTA was a dramatic increase in cheap corn imports into Mexico - the birthplace of corn. The corn, subsidized by American taxpayers, was so cheap that Mexican farmers could not compete. They either had to raise another type crop - for export - or leave the countryside for a precarious existence in the city, a place where they are at the mercy of employers and grocery stores. 

Once a country becomes dependent on cheap, imported food, a rise in transportation costs leads to a rise in prices - prices that many in the developing world can no longer afford. Unfortunately, with a large population having left the farms to move to urban areas - with the promise of modern prosperity - the possibility and knowledge for growing their own food has vanished. 

When food is local and grown sustainably, there is no need to "preserve" the food with additives. These additives are only necessary for highly processed foods that that are shipped around the world. Fruits, vegetables, and grain from local sources are the ingredients for delicious nutritious food. Should food need to be preserved, canning, dehydrating, and fermenting works well.

I am most disappointed with Eco Watch for encouraging a global system that wastes precious fuel and contributes to global pollution. The "about" section on the website reads in part:
EcoWatch is a leading news website reporting on environmental news, green living, sustainable business, science and politics. We also feature content from renowned environmental and business leaders via our Insights blog.
EcoWatch is at the forefront of uniting all shades of green to ensure the health and longevity of our planet. We are leading the charge in using online news to drive fundamental change. 
EcoWatch is a dedicated platform for environmental news that helps transform the ability of individuals to learn about environmental issues and take action. 
EcoWatch provides timely access to relevant information that educates and motivates individuals to become engaged in their community, adopt sustainable practices and support strong environmental policy. [Emphasis added]
I recently read that it takes 87 calories worth of fuel to move one calorie from California to New York. This is not sustainable.

We need a reset on our global food system, making the system local on a global scale.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Farm Friday

Last week's Farm Friday got skipped because I had to set up for a craft show that took place the next day. Then I had to go to what turned out to be a 3 1/2 hour mandatory training session because I do some work in the local jail. Getting home after 10 pm meant I wasn't going to do any blogging that day! Besides the craft show and the jail training, I kept busy with a few other things:

  • In addition to setting up for the craft show, I had to make a number of items to take with me so that occupied much of my time over the last two weeks.
  • Our homesteading group met at our house (the same day as the craft show!). Had a great discussion on winterizing your house and farm. We had delicious food, too.
  • We filled a large number of farm orders on Saturday. Bill had to organize them and bring them to the market. I usually head up this part of our farm operation but since I had to be at the market at 8 a.m., I wasn't able to do it.
  • I placed and received our monthly feed order (we only buy GMO-free feed for our farm animals). We get our feed from a Mennonite farm that is about 2 1/2 hours away so we're glad they can deliver to us.
  • I harvested some herbs (cilantro, dill, thyme, and oregano) before the really cold weather kills them off for the winter.
  • I dried the dill, thyme, and oregano in the dehydrator. I'm getting less dependent on store-bought herbs.
  • I made pesto from the cilantro and will have it in individual servings in the freezer.
  • This is the time of year that I start growing various types of sprouts so that we can still have a fresh salad with dinner. I started some mung bean sprouts, adzuki bean sprouts, and a delicious salad mix that includes dill, clover, and other seeds.
  • I have some potions steeping in the kitchen and will need to strain them next week (fire cider for the cold and flu season and some oil infusions that will be made into healing salves).
  • I thought my vacuum cleaner bit the dust but after doing some research (thank you, I tried a simple technique that saved me from having to buy a new one.

Don't forget what today is - it's Buy Nothing Day! Stay out of the stores (and don't do any internet shopping, either)! Weather permitting, get outside and enjoy nature.

I also want to take moment to remember my dear friend Dixie. We lost her a year ago this week. She was my faithful companion for almost 16 years. Bill referred to her as my familiar because she was never far from me. I still miss my girl. 
Dixie liked to perch on the back of sofas and chairs
She had to put up with things like goats in her house sometimes
She could create drama with Ginny
Dixie was a great friend to me and I'm glad she was in my life
Have a great week!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Table
Wishing all my readers and their families a blessed day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

Here in the US, tomorrow is a big feast day - Thanksgiving. It's also the beginning of a season when our eating choices lead to end of the year weight gain. Here are a few ideas to help you enjoy the holiday without over doing it:

  • Don't treat the meal like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Don't go to the main meal super hungry; make sure you eat your other meals.
  • Watch your portions.
  • Don't go back for seconds.
  • Drink water; often we mistake dehydration for hunger.
  • Limit the high fat items.
  • Slow down and savor your food.
  • Get active. Participate in a "turkey trot" run or go for a walk or a hike.
  • On Black Friday, start a new tradition. Take another walk or go hiking in a state or national park instead of going shopping.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Taste of Tuesday

Butter 1
This morning I ran across a great cooking hack that I have to share. Whenever I need soft butter, I forget to take it out of the refrigerator in advance so end up trying to microwave it to the point that it's soft but not melted. This technique doesn't put the butter in the microwave. Instead, the microwave is used to heat a glass that is then inverted over a plate with the butter on it. 10-15 minutes later, the butter is soft but not melted. Watch the one minute video here.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Quote for the Day

"Silence alone is worthy to be heard."
~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Talking about Things that Matter

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” 
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Source:  Facebook
Except for business purposes, I've pretty much opted out of social media this past year or so. It seems to bring out the worst in people and I found myself angry all the time. So instead of spending my time scrolling down my timeline, feeling angry, I instead read a lot of suspense novels. 

This week I stuck my toe in to see what it was like and what I had been missing, if anything. Unfortunately, I was reminded why I quit in the first place. The killings in Paris have brought out the worst in many Americans. Instead of seeing it for the utter tragedy it is, to dig deeper for the seeds of the violence, and to care for victims, they find it an excuse for paranoid, racist, jingoistic rants. I had to unfriend a family member who, not happy with just spewing ugly sentiments, had to PUT THEM IN ALL CAPS, including the grammatical and spelling errors. It's one thing to be angry with the perpetrators, but to put the blame on groups of people - Muslims, refugees, Syrians, the homeless, etc.  - is ignorant, irresponsible, and dangerous. The more I scrolled through my feed, the more I wished I could "unsee" it all. But it was too late - my heart was broken and I couldn't remain silent.

These current events are most telling as Americans head into the biggest holiday season, when we observe one holiday, Thanksgiving, that resulted from a time of hospitality, welcoming the stranger, and cultural exchange. And another holiday, Christmas, where Christians celebrate the birth of the messiah who was born in a stable because his parents were refugees and who told his followers to minister to the least of these, including strangers. 

It's also interesting to compare the following maps: one listing the states that are and are not accepting refugees; the other showing the most and least religious states:

Is it me or is there a pattern there? 

All day today I felt my heart breaking. That a country, where many citizens take pride in being a beacon of freedom and wear their religion on their sleeves, refuses to help those in need - especially those fleeing the very people we say we are protecting the world from - is unconscionable. I know my comments and observations will fall mainly on deaf ears but I don't want history to reveal me as one of the good people who remained silent.