http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/episode201/ This episode recounts the most interesting people they met in season 1 and you can get to all the episodes and their related links… Cool.
Curiously almost no one in the US or the western world just eats what he or she needs. Most of us eat to address needs far beyond the requirements of our body; we even search out and consume stuff we know to be unhealthy.
It seems that back in the days when generations of people stayed close to home, that microorganisms in the soil that facilitate nutrient uptake in plants, the plants themselves, and the microorganisms in animals and us, co-evolved in a way that created a system that worked amazingly well – turning solar power and carbon dioxide into the energy that feeds life, and that we’ve found hundreds of ways to break this system and still continue in this way.
For thousands of generations humans grazed and ate off the land. Things began to change long ago with the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry. More food was easily and regularly available. Ultimately, the delicacies of sweet and fat, which previously had been consumed very lightly by humans simply because of their rarity, were now being consumed at greater rates.
More recently, things got much worse for several reasons. First, advances in agriculture dramatically increased the food supply, driven mostly by chemical fertilizers. After World War II, the chemical industry put to work its vast nitrogen production capacity making fertilizer, yielding much more food than we really needed.
Michael Pollan notes that around the same time our main source of food and nutritional direction, our culture (a.k.a. mom), started to lose control of the kitchen. The basic diet from most cultures, which seemed to work pretty well, consisted primarily of locally produced, fresh and non- or lightly processed foods. But processed food manufacturers, promising more and tastier food at lower prices, took over, bringing us the Western Diet, with its heavy consumption of processed and chemically laced food. Along with it came an unacceptable increase in many of the biggest health issues we face today. As Pollan contends, we don’t know enough about how our body uses the complex combinations of food each of us chooses to consume, and traditional diets, regardless of being protein, fat, or carbohydrate dominated, do not lead to many of these health issues.
Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat, points out that post WWII, more women in the workforce meant less time to prepare traditional healthy and nutritious meals at home. The processed food industry and fast food restaurants were there to help by providing greater convenience.
In the 1960s and 1970s, counter-productive federal government farm policies created a boon in many commodity crops including corn, wheat and soybeans. Subsidies on several key ingredients resulted in ridiculously low commodity prices. Food manufacturers found that by tinkering with formulations by adding ever-increasing amounts of inexpensive sweeteners, fats and salt, they could pump sales and profits. Most importantly, they could achieve the “bliss point” in their products, the point at which optimal levels of these low cost, nutritionally devoid ingredients could create addiction.
It’s also important to note that there are many sociological and psychological reasons we eat unwisely. HealthPages.org – Why We Eat What We Eat describes six major influencers of our food choices: social situations; economic situation; ethnic background; emotional state; eating from habit; and physical health. By becoming more aware of these influences, you can begin to control them.
All in all, this is not a pretty picture. We’re now faced with a massive public health crisis unlike anything the world has ever seen with the potential to bankrupt our economy. There’s much more to this story. Check out Michael Pollan and Michael Moss for fascinating reading on this subject.
Prince Charles was the inspiration for my use of Comfrey which has led to it’s appearing in gardens all over Pasadena. I’m a fan of his book “the elements of organic gardening” and now he is stepping up his critique of our unsustainable industrial food system – right on…
As everyone who has attended one of my soil classes knows, I am enchanted by microorganisms and through understanding the relationship between them and plants I’ve reexamined my thoughts about them and me… Then comes my guy Michael Pollan ready to share the model that we are not alone. We are superorganisms… Here’s his article from the New York Times Magazine…
If you didn’t already have serious doubts about the safety of Roundup, check out this article – Roundup linked to diabetes, autism, obesity, heart disease, cancer and more – from the Mother Nature Network. And to go directly to the source, check out the study abstract from the journal Entropy.
At some point, this toxic substance needs to be banned. It’s the most popular herbicide in the world and its residue is found on the most common foods of the Western world, including sugar, corn, soy, sugar and wheat. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but this study finds otherwise. (Surprise surprise.) Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which play a crucial detoxifying role in human biology, thus enhancing the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. The negative impacts work slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. The consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
This also brings GMOs into the picture. The most common GMOs in industrial agriculture, corn, soy, sugar and wheat, are all modified primarily to develop resistance to Roundup, thus allowing for mass spraying of Roundup to control weeds without killing the primary crop.
So, not only should we never use Roundup at home in our gardens but we should work even harder to avoid foods produced from GMO crops, which is a heck of a lot of stuff. Best to buy locally-produced organic produce and non-GMO processed food. And/or to grow it and make it yourself.
In my studies of sustainable agriculture and food forests I’ve come to own the importance of a little wildness in the garden. We create room for plants and critters to work out who is doing what. It seems the same can be said about our communities. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and so together we can emphysize our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. So we love the idea of Neighborhood Gardens where the land, labor, expertise, and money can flow into a process that creates community, connection with nature, and a lot of great local seasonal healthy food.
Here is a site in Sonoma that sees things a little differently but are mostly aligned with how we see this evolving.
The Next Course – Pasadena
Visioning a healthier more sustainable future.
Our first meeting was an inspiring success. Forty-five passionate, engaged people gathered at the Armory on Earth Day to share their ideas, skills and histories and, most importantly, revealed that we have the people, facilities and the need to redefine our relationship with our food and the environment.
We hope you can come to our second meeting: Thursday, May 9th, at the Altadena Community Garden. We’ll have a garden tour at 6 and the program will start at 6:15. The garden is located at the corner of Lincoln and Palm, on Lincoln a block north of Altadena Drive.
For our second meeting we’ll hear from Pasadena Public Health Director, Dr. Eric G. Walsh, MD, MPH, who has done great work to increase the awareness of the health impact of an inappropriate diet – as well as of stress and economic uncertainty. He is a compelling speaker whose work has increased support for healthy food and gardens. We’ll then discuss what we can do – what this piece of the puzzle looks like.
Then we’ll discuss Pasadena Learning Gardens’ great passion to make gardens into educational resource centers to the communities around them. Local urban homesteader Hop Hopkins will discuss his work with the Los Angeles Land Trust that will bring a new garden to the Ville-Parke Community Center, and the experience of using his homestead (Panther Ridge Farms) as a resource to the community. Mark Rice will follow to discuss his gardens at PUSD Community School Madison Elementary and the Altadena Community Garden (located in a county park).
The Next Course initiative is a process that will initially work to identify a framework within which communities can gather and focus on their passions while working with other communities. We will coordinate our activities and be the change we want to see. And we want to hear from YOU!
Our initial areas of focus will be:
- Analysis and Policy - Food deserts and where can my chickens live, and doing it sustainably…
- Educating / Resourcing - Utilize and support school, community and private gardens and orchards to build, educate and resource local citizens and communities.
- Production - Produce it: for ourselves, our communities, or our markets.
- Distribution - Foodswaps, farmer’s markets, entrepreneurial efforts and buying cooperatives.
- Funding - Making this organizationally sustainable.
Pasadena Learning Gardens, in partnership with La Loma Development and others is convening and facilitating four meetings with the last focused on our next steps. We take time to get to know one another and our passions and build a plan to better collaborate in this important work. Note that we intend to have task forces in each of the above groups, so even if you can’t attend but are passionate about one or more of these topics just let us know of your interest. We also hope to identify a liaison to all our sister organizations so if that’s you, let us know!
Our third meeting will be in June and will focus on Production and Distribution.
Come be part of this important dialog; where informed community members will report on their efforts follow by an open dialog.
Facilitator for the Series: Mark Rice, Executive Director of Pasadena Learning Gardens, Garden coordinator at Hathaway Sycamores and Madison Elementary School, program coordinator at Altadena Community Garden, Member of LA Food Policy Council Urban Ag working group, and Master Gardener.
Speakers: Our Next, Second Meeting
Dr. Eric G. Walsh, MD, MPH: City of Pasadena Public Health Director – If you’ve not heard Dr. Walsh just google Eric Walsh Pasadena and filter for videos.
Hop Hopkins: Manager of Panther Ridge Farms and Program Director, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
Speakers: First Meeting – Earth day 2013, Armory Center for the Arts
Marco Barrantes: Owner of La Loma Development and author of the Berkeley Food Policy Council report Feed Your City from 2002.
Gail Murphy: Founder of Ripe Altadena, a thriving community of food sharers, and accomplished gardener and fruit tree grafter (late cancel who we hope to hear from at meeting 3)
Elizabeth Bowman: Graduate of Antioch’s Sustainability Program, co-founder of the Altadena Farmer’s market, Member of LA Food Policy Council Urban Ag working group and author of the urban agriculture survey used by LAFPC
January Nordman: NELA Transitions board member and co-founder / designer of the Throop Church Learning Garden
The following two meetings will be announced to the Pasadena Learning Gardens Urban Farmers Meetup, (http://www.meetup.com/la-kitchen-gardeners/), and other community group distribution lists. Also, check TheNextCourse.org for updates
It is wonderful to announce that as part of our Next Course Pasadena initiative where we are working with local schools, community centers, community gardens, and private gardens to resource our community to eat better food and understand what is better food, that we’re getting a greenhouse. Local Girl Scout and healthy living advocate Miranda Allen will use this page to document our progress as she resouces the community through her Gold Award Project…
One of my apprentices has started raising rabbits and slaughtering and eating them. While I’m convinced this will lead to his becoming a vegetarian, I’ve become aware of how completely I’m gotten unhooked from the production of meat and this makes it too easy to engage in this karmic crime against animals and the earth -
As we have learned on my previous post, soil plays a vital role on the growth of the plants. It gives nutrients to the plants which is needed for them to grow. After learning the pH test and type of soil, let us learn how healthy your soil is through earthworm test.
What are earthworms?
As we have long-established, earthworms are classified into three according to their habitat:
Learn about Straw Bale Gardens from from the NY Times article Grasping at Straw – A Foolproof Vegetable Plot.
Learn to Grow a Straw Bale Garden from this collection of videos assembled by growtest.org
This is an absolutely fascinating article from The New York Times about how food scientists and marketers operate to keep us hooked on junk food. It’s a long article but well worth the read.
While we are the consumers of industrial food, and at PLG we are particularly focused on consuming non-industrial, local, seasonal, fresh, and often home grown food; there is much to be learned about our whole society by examining this history.
Many well intentioned people from the first to transcend our forging ancestors, to hard workers ripping out the prairie grasses to make room for us, to Monsanto and Wal-mart trying to decide what we eat and where, how ecologically, and how humanly it is produced.
Here are a number of great pieces from Amy Goodman and Bill Moyers…
3 Apr 13 Food day: Jon Tester presents a compelling case against the Monsanto Protection Act, an then there is an informed discussion.
An amazing story of a farmer facing off with Monsanto.
So many young people are getting hip to the issues related to food
We’ve recommended the UMASS Amherst soil testing service for years and are fans of thier Center for Agriculture.
As you may know, we love Whole Foods. They supply juice bar pulp for our worms – they eat better than me… So it is great to hear that they will move the GMO issue along. It was amazing to see all the parent firms of leading organic brands pumping money into the no campaign to prevent labeling GMOs, and where the head was wagging the tail, perhaps now the tail can wag the head.
Great article by Sarah Spitz on taking leftovers from the farmers markets and distributing to the needy… Food Forward strikes again…
Pasadena is looking to address the needs of the city by addressing the needs of the students, and especially those in at risk communities. This is great work and a strengthening of the relationships that schools need.
John Jeavons has carried on the French biointensive system of agriculture that we love. I came across an expert trainer from Willits back in 2008 who gave me two of his books and a dvd that shaped how I look at growing food. I am not as big a proponent of double digging – it’s hard and disruptive to the soil biology, but if you need some food fast it may be a great first pass. Here are 13 great videos from the man himself.
4. Bed prep 2
10. Saving Seeds