"food"

Headline Harvest: Monsanto doubles profits; kids offer hope through gardens; the quinoa problem

It's colder than usual outside, so bundle up and pretend it's warmer with these freshly picked headlines (I know, I know...)

In GMO/Monsanto news:
  • "Monsanto's Earnings Nearly Double As They Create A Farming Monopoly" - Charlotte Silver, for Al Jazeera, as published on AlterNet.org
    • From the article: Monsanto knows that consumers won't voluntarily buy their products - a lesson learned in Europe when GE foods there were required to be labelled as such. In America, the company and its allies have spend millions to defeat local labelling initiatives, most recently in California. But if the company successfully crowds out conventional farmers, Americans won't have a choice - with or without a label."
In consumer demand & awareness news:
  • "Can Healthy Eaters Stomach the Uncomfortable Truth About Quinoa?" - Joanna Blythman, The Guardian, as published on AlterNet.org
    • From the article: But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extend that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it...In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture. (my emphasis added)
  • "12 Disturbing Facts About Farm Labor Conditions" - Roque Planas, Huffington Post
In farmland news:
In kids-are-cute-and-full-of-hope news:

(From GOOD.is; to support this project, click here.)

Help fund "SEED: The Untold Story"!

In addition to trying to understand and grapple with the nuances of farm subsidies, ag. policy and the complex farm bill, I'm also beginning research on seed saving (i.e. networks, banks, growers) in my bioregion for my grad. thesis. So, of course, I was delighted to hear about this opportunity to help fund a really important documentary, "SEED: The Untold Story" through Collective Eye Films (the creators of "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" and "Queen of the Sun"). Take a look:


Seed is not just the source of life. It is the very foundation of our being. - Vandana Shiva 
SEED: The Untold Story is a new documentary film that will investigate the dramatic story of seeds, the basis of life on earth. For 12,000 years man has been nurturing and cultivating seeds to form the backbone of civilization. Now, 94% of our seed varieties have been lost and many more are nearing extinction.
SEED unveils a David and Goliath battle for the future of our seeds by examining how five chemical corporations have taken control of seeds through patents, copyrights and genetic modification. These companies are placing ownership on the seeds, literally stealing the genetic material from our ancestors who nurtured these seeds for thousands of years. As Vandana Shiva says “the threat to seed freedom impacts the very fabric of human life and life on the planet.” 
Entertaining and engaging, SEED follows heroes working tirelessly to preserve agricultural diversity as well as the rich knowledge held by indigenous cultures. These farmers, scientists, and seed collectors such as Gary Paul Nabhan, Bill McDorman, Vandana Shiva, Harald Hoven, Native American Emigdio Ballon and Winona LaDuke are the visionaries and caretakers of many of the world’s remaining seeds. On an absorbing journey following a diverse cast of characters, we will witness a brave new movement as these heroes struggle to create a vibrant web of biodiversity and resilience. 
SEED will reveal the awe, wonder and hidden beauty of seeds. It will ignite the imagination of audiences, inspiring them to be part of a new movement to help sustain seed diversity. We will unearth the resilience and power that all seeds have to sustain, enliven and enrich our humanity.
How amazing does this project sound?! Remember, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing sort of fundraising medium; if the filmmakers don't reach their goal, the film will not be made. So, help these filmmakers with their project and get the message out there about the incredibly imperative need to save seeds, bring food sovereignty to the forefront and promote food and farm literacy!

Watch, share, and, ideally, donate, please!

The fiscal cliff and what it means for farmers

You can pretty much find a connection between food and farming and any piece of major legislative action in the U.S., which are often, if not always, detrimental to small farmers and growers. The fiscal cliff debacle is no exception. Here's the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition take, via its press release. Take a read:

January 1 Farm Bill Extension Deal is a Disaster for Farmers 
Washington, DC – The farm bill extension deal reached in negotiations between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden is a disaster for farmers and the American people.  The nine month extension measure was attached to the bigger fiscal cliff bill and passed by the Senate early this morning and is coming up for a vote in the House later today. 
The deal is blatantly anti-reform.  The full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee earlier this year agreed to permanently eliminate direct payment subsidies for commodity production regardless of price and income conditions, yet the deal would lock in those egregious subsidies for another full year at a $5 billion price tag.  On the other hand, many smaller, targeted programs to fund farm and food system reform and rural jobs, included in a weekend agreement between Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow and House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas, were left out completely.  Also left out of the final deal is any workable dairy policy for the next year and any disaster aid for livestock and fruit producers.  The deal also has the effect of keeping farmers from being able to improve soil and water conservation through enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program at the present time.  We are extremely disappointed in the Republican leadership for proposing this deal and in the White House for accepting it.  The message is unmistakable – direct commodity subsidies, despite high market prices, are sacrosanct, while the rest of agriculture and the rest of rural America can simply drop dead. 
We commend the Agriculture Committee leadership for trying to pass a more responsible extension measure, and on behalf of our member organizations and the farmers they represent we recommit ourselves to getting a true farm and food bill reform measure passed in 2013. (emphasis added)
Yikes. Looks like there's work to do in 2013. Where do we get started?

Nix the bugs, fix our food: "Meat Without Drugs"


Check out more - including a list of how to understand if your food has antibiotics in them - from the Meat Without Drugs campaign by Consumers Union and FixFood.

Also, if you shop at Trader Joe's, you should sign this petition to urge the company to nix antibiotics in its meat products!