Recent relevantish reads

I enjoyed these articles and think you might too!

cows at Mountain Home Farm

Soon, Your Food May Dine on Insects — which is a much more natural food source for animals than soy:

However, food producers are likely to feel the pinch as the world’s population climbs to nine billion by 2050, while rising incomes in large countries like China and India lead to greater demand for meat-rich diets. So entrepreneurs, researchers, and even the United Nations are looking for an animal feed less expensive than the soybeans and fishmeal typically used today. Insects like mealworms and fly larvae, a natural food for wild birds and fish, could be a near-perfect replacement. With several startups planning industrial-scale operations, it may not be long before some poultry or fish entrées are raised on a regular diet of bugs.


I backed a Kickstarter campaign to help Mountain Home Farm in Vermont become an all-grass dairy farm. Consider skipping your daily latte and throwing them a few bucks! The campaign has less than a day to go!


Scientists sniffing out the Western allergy epidemic: my obsession with gut bacteria continues.

The bacteria that cover our skin, line our mouths and fill our guts not only outnumber our own cells by about 10 to one but may play a vital role in training our immune systems. Changes to our lifestyles are influencing these microorganisms, and allergies are the consequence.


Monsanto, Under Attack for GMOs, Has a New Defender – this is a WSJ article, so the link may not work, sorry. Monsanto has a young, Silicon Valley-type executive trying to persuade people that the company isn’t evil:

Mr. Friedberg, a former Google Inc. executive, now oversees the “precision agriculture” services Monsanto sells to farmers, a major initiative encompassing high-tech planting equipment, soil and seed analysis, and weather modeling.

The lifelong vegetarian has also emerged as an unlikely champion of Monsanto at a time when the company—and the business of genetically engineering crops that it pioneered—face intensifying attacks.


12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein covers 12 situations, symptoms, and signs that indicate a direct need for more dietary protein, including:

  • You’re getting older
  • You’re always hungry
  • You lift weights or endurance train
  • You primarily get your protein from plants

Any of those sound like you? Just make sure to get your extra protein from HAPPY ANIMALS!


A Call for a Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat

This isn’t really news as we’ve seen a zillion studies with similar results, but apparently “this is one of the first long-term trials that’s given these diets without calorie restrictions.”

Dr. Mozaffarian said the research suggested that health authorities should pivot away from fat restrictions and encourage people to eat fewer processed foods, particularly those with refined carbohydrates.

Translation: Eat real food! 


 Diet Soda May Alter Our Gut Microbes And Raise The Risk Of Diabetes

Remember that the food you eat is feeding your gut biome. Take care of it!

Diet sodas may alter our gut microbes in a way that increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes — at least in some of us… It’s clear that our gut microbes are not just passive organisms hitching a ride on our bodies, says Kirsten Tillisch, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They’re affecting our health in active and powerful ways.”

Recent reads about food, farming, and health

Local Foods: From Fad To Force And What It Means For The Food Industry

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-zacka/local-foods-from-fad-to-f_b_5502757.html

“The trend has gone viral, as consumers are voting ‘local’ with their dollars and having a profound influence on the nation’s food systems. Their enthusiasm has led suppliers, grocers and restaurants to change and adapt by adding locally produced goods to their offerings year-round.”


What you need to know about P90X, Insanity, Weight Watchers, Shakeology, Cleanses, and Nutrisystem

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/06/23/what-you-need-to-know-about-p90x-insanity-weight-watchers-shakeology-cleanses-and-nutrisystem/

A quick comparison of the trendy quick-fix diet/fitness products–what works and what doesn’t.


Local to the extreme: This project puts the farm right in the grocery store

http://grist.org/food/local-to-the-extreme-this-project-puts-the-farm-right-in-the-grocery-store/#.U6hWaokqWNI.twitter

“Three days a week in downtown Raleigh, N.C., fans of fresh fruits and veggies can pick up their local tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, potatoes, squash, and blackberries inside a 200-square-foot shipping container… In the 8,000-square-foot, scaled-up version, Greene imagines an open bottom floor that would hold the main grocery and a café for selling drinks and deli meats. Above that, eight shipping containers supported by beams and equipped with side panels for growing herbs and greens, nourished by what Greene calls the “Living River Growing System” — a raceway tank that looks and acts like a stream, filtering and channeling nutrient-filled water to the seven-foot-high growing panels. On top of all this would sit a greenhouse roof.”


These maps show where all the world’s cattle, chickens, and pigs are

http://www.vox.com/2014/6/20/5825826/these-maps-show-where-all-the-worlds-cattle-chickens-and-pigs-live

“The Earth currently has 19.6 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, and 980 million pigs. If you added up all the world’s livestock, they’d weigh more than humans and all other wild animals combined….These maps are useful for tracking the environmental impact of ever-expanding livestock production as well as keeping tabs on the potential spread of disease like avian flu.”


Widespread impacts of neonicotinoids ‘impossible to deny’

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27980344

“The scientists say the threat to nature is the same as that once posed by the notorious chemical DDT.” Neonicotinoids could be poisoning bees, and aquatic invertebrates, which are the basis of many food chains. Their use in a prophylactic way is compared to antibiotics abuse in farm animals.


Why the locavore movement’s next big move is seafood

http://grist.org/food/why-the-locavore-movements-next-big-move-is-seafood/

“Something like 86 percent of America’s seafood intake is imported (most of that is farmed), while we send away most of our own wild-caught fish.”

“We eat more shrimp than almost the next two most popular seafoods combined (salmon and canned tuna)”

“[Alaska] by far produces more seafood than any other state, probably by an order of magnitude.”

“I was trying to figure out if there was a Michael Pollan-esque line like ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ The best I could come up with was: ‘Eat American seafood, a much wider variety than we currently do, mostly filter feeders.'”


16 Things That Affect Your Gut Bacteria

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/16-things-that-affect-your-gut-bacteria

Foods (red wine! dark chocolate!), sunshine, exercise, antibiotics, probiotics, Roundup (in GMO soy and corn and CAFO animal products), smoking, time, dirt

Foodopoly reading and signing with Wenonah Hauter

Author and activist Wenonah Hauter visited New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville on February 13 for a discussion and signing of her new book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America. Ms. Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, comes from a farming family, and is a long-time strategist and organizer for sustainable energy and food production.

Foodopoly reveals the behind-the-scenes lobbying, politics, and corporate power directing our food systems, and argues that consumers and farmers alone cannot fix the problem; a fundamental shift in food politics is required, as well. From the Foodopoly site:

In Foodopoly, she takes aim at the real culprit: the control of food production by a handful of large corporations—backed by political clout—that prevents farmers from raising healthy crops and limits the choices that people can make in the grocery store.

This talk was also timely for me, as I just got an overview of US food and farm policy from my Intro to the US Food System course. Read my notes here.

Wenonah Hauter signing copies of Foodopoly

Wenonah Hauter signing copies of Foodopoly

What I learned from Wenonah Hauter

The Past:

  • The Reagan administration changed antitrust laws, made it easier for monopolies to form
  • In 1996 US joined WTO and NAFTA; those partnerships lead to pressure to deregulate farm policy
  • The 1996 farm bill led to drop in corn and soy prices, saving the big food producers billions
  • ’98 price collapse
    • Congress began subsidies for commodity crops to support farmers
    • Half of small/medium farmer income is from subsidies, so if we get rid of them, we need to fix antitrust policies that keep prices low
  • Subsidies are a symptom of a dysfunctional system, not a cause of it

The Present:

  • About 20 food production companies control most of the grocery store brands
  • They need cheap ingredients, so lobby strongly for reducing and maintaining the low price of inputs
  • Big 4 groceries: Wal-Mart, Costco, Kroger, Target
  • 1/3 of our grocery money goes to Wal-Mart. They may be making an effort to work with smaller, local producers, but logistically, it’s difficult for any suppliers but the very large ones to work them
  • United Natural Foods, Inc is largest US distributor of organic foods
    • Since corp went public, it has focused mostly on Whole Foods and no longer delivers to small buying clubs and co-ops
    • Possibly colluding w/ Whole Foods to drive consumers there?
  • We need to vote with our forks, but also with our votes: keep elected officials accountable

The Future:

  • Need to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement
    • US would “harmonize” laws with other (less-regulated) countries, like the EU did when the US and the EU made trade agreement, and the EU’s laws were weakened to harmonize w/ the US’s
  • Tyson and Perdue are trying to change the rules: to raise poultry in Asia, and increase speed of slaughter to 200 birds/min
  • Can’t fix food system without fixing our democracy
  • Need to undo Citizens United (Read more about that here: Overturning Citizens United)
  • Need to be citizens, not consumers
foodopoly-local-food-hub

Local Food Hub supplied local apples from Crown Orchard to thank guests for coming

Ms. Hauter was an excellent speaker (even with laryngitis); passionate, knowledgeable, and fluent in the topics discussed. If she comes to your area, I highly recommend you see her. I look forward to reading Foodopoly, and will surely post lessons learned from it on this blog.

For more information, visit the sites below:

Food and Water Watch

Food and Water Watch’s page about Foodopoly

Foodopoly site

Buy the book (or better, go to your local bookstore and buy it):

Book Review: “Depletion and Abundance” by Sharon Astyk

Guest post from Buzzy! Thanks, Buzzy!

For HP readers who loved Omnivore’s Dilemma, get ready to take your enlightenment to the next level!  I just finished reading “Depletion and Abundance” by Sharon Astyk, and not since Omnivore’s has my worldview shifted so dramatically.

Astyk starts with the forces of Peak Oil and Climate Change, and clearly explains why we are heading for a drastically different low-energy lifestyle.  She delves into many associated topics, like over-population, water shortages, food insecurity, unemployment, etc.  But, this is NOT a Doom And Gloom book, far from it.

post apocalypse

She asks three fundamental questions:

  • What is your fair share of the world’s resources?
  • What can you do now to help postpone the “long emergency”?
  • What can you do now to plan for your family’s success during the “long emergency”?

From there she paints a colorful picture of what low-energy lives can look like.  Why we need to go back to the concept of Victory Gardens, and why we need to go forward towards a more considered and fair use of resources.

victory gardeners

It’s hard to do justice to all the eye-opening ideas she introduces over a huge range of topics, so I will just close and urge you to go read it.  Now.  Seriously, nothing you have planned for today is as important as getting a copy of this book.  My plan for today? Starting seeds.

Special thanks to my cousin T (who championed local food at least 15 years before the rest of us caught on!) for the book recommendation!

BUY THE BOOK:

Rainy day movie: Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. is a chilling documentary full of disturbing facts about the huge corporations that run the American food system.

Hooray for local hero Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, a featured “good guy” farmer.

Quotes from the movie:

When we run an item past the supermarket scanner, we’re voting: for local not organic or not.

You can vote to change this system. Three times a day.

Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.

When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels. Know what you buy.

The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Buy foods that are grown locally. Shop at farmers’ markets. Plant a garden (even a small one).

Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers’ market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches. The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect you and your family. Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law.

To learn more, go to http://www.takepart.com/foodinc

 

American Meat movie!

A movie about Polyface Farms and Joel Salatin! With Temple Grandin!

http://www.americanmeatfilm.com/ (We especially enjoyed the pictures of the animals. Not your average farm life!)

American Meat explores the complexities embedded in the highly debated practices of the American meat industry. As the economy drives a contraction of conventional chicken, pork and beef operations, we hear the innovative methods of the charismatic, Virginia-based farmer, Joel Salatin. Joel, who is a leader of the growing niche of people who are opting for animals raised outside and without the use of antibiotics, believes that if more people become sustainable farmers, the movement could fracture centralized commodity production. Conventional farmers argue that small-scale farming can’t expand production enough to adequately meet the demands of the nation. As the dialogue ensues, Salatin signs a deal with fast-food chain Chipotle in a surprising move, with widespread implications for the industry.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knNLZvphhfs&feature=player_embedded

“Know your farmer and just completely opt out of the system.”

Makes me want to give up my “Dilbert-cubicle job.”

More info:

http://www.indiegogo.com/American-Meat

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1482980/

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanMeat