Category Archives: Food

Refrigerators that use no electricity will reduce food spoilage in dry lands

A team of researchers that began their work at MIT found a way to restructure an ancient method of food storage into a mobile, modern unit that looks like a big pizza bag and costs USD$25. It can be used by families in hot, arid regions where money and electricity is scarce to keep foods cool so they last weeks rather than days.

How it works is pretty stupendous:

In ancient times food was cooled was achieved by using terra cotta containers buried in sand. These modern Evaptainers use lightweight materials and sit on any above-ground surface, like a table. The containers’ secret sauce is an outside channel into which a liter of water is poured every two days. Slow evaporation produces major cooling in a process quite similar to our bodies’ efficient method of cooling us down through sweat.

Hat tip to Dr. Jonathan Hodges for sharing this excellent find.

If you don’t want Monsanto to own the world’s apples and apple trees, submit a comment

GMO apple
Source: Inquistr
Monsanto and companies like it that produce GMO (aka GE) seed want to own all the food produced in the world. They are working towards this goal bit by bit, using GMO seeds as an inroad to accomplish it. Don’t let them! If you believe in people owning our food supply as opposed to major corporations owning it and deciding when, where and how much we can eat then you need to submit a public comment saying so by 12 Sept 2016.

Submitting a public comment has become a very easy process and is fast. You can feel free to speak from your own heart or to use any part of my statement that you like. Additional information and facts are also available at Food Safety News.

Submitted by Kimi Wei on 27 August 2016:

Dear Sirs and Mesdames,

It’s absurd to even think of giving in to the whims of a public which, due to ignorance, concern themselves more with appearance than their own health and the consequences of being deprived of the right to eat good, healthy food and build communities around this simple human need.

GMO products give control over food sources to major corporations, as they control the sales of GMO seed and eventually, can even prevent farmers from using traditional seed – this is happening in several countries around the world. GMO seed also is much costlier than traditional seeds are.

While people may choose to be ignorant of the facts, there’s no excuse for government officials to fail in this area. You need to ensure that Americans continue to enjoy food sovereignty; that we not risk planet and personal health crises by using GMO products which may cause unforeseen negative long-range impacts; that food production is not turned over to entities concerned with profit at the expense of humanity; and that the planetary and natural protections offered by small-holder farmers who practice natural planting and growing are not replaced with Big Ag monoculture crops that are always highly destructive to planet and people.

Furthermore, in the United States GMO seed and plant producers have used GMO seeds as an excuse to steal away smaller farmers’ lands by claiming that seeds that invade adjacent farms by the wind or birds carrying them over are in fact being stolen by the smaller farmers. Successful legal claims have been made stating that the only remedy for this theft is for the GMO planters to take possession of farmers lands that were invaded by their seed. The fact that the farmers didn’t want GMO seed and were advocating for it to be blocked from invading their land, meant nothing to the GMO plant growers, or the courts.

To submit a comment by USPS mail (snail mail), send to:
Docket No. APHIS-2016-0043
Regulatory Analysis and Development
PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Thanks Howard Vlieger for sharing the opportunity to comment.

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Biofortification (golden rice, corn) is another tool GMO producers use to destroy food sovereignty

Biotech crop test
Source: Natural News
Biofortification is just another term for GE (aka GMO) crops that put the power and control of growing in the hands of corporate giants. GE crops are being used as a wedge to destroy soil and more importantly, to take control of growing away from small-holding farmers.

Today, GE producers are pushing “golden” corn and rice, that have been manufactured and promoted at great expense. They say the Vitamin A they are engineered to create will solve a dietary deficiency in certain countries. But we can also think about how differently food growing would be in poor regions of the world if billions had been invested to bring knowledge and valuable resources, such as water, to growers in poor communities. Why, they might be able to solve their Vitamin A deficiency problems in so many different ways.

Here are some additional problems with “orange” crops like corn and rice:

  • The Vitamin A ingredient in them derives from carrots, and it breaks down in storage.
  • People who consume orange crops may not have in their diet other nutrients needed to absorb Vitamin A.
  • The seeds are owned by the GE companies that manufacture them. They’re not giving up their patents, or control over them.
  • Growers still lack sufficient water to grow.
  • The unintended consequences of using GE crops like these, has not been mapped.

Additional information at http://www.gmwatch.org/news/archive/2013/15045-golden-rice-not-so-golden

Pres. Obama is making a flower highway for butterflies (really)

tagged monarch
Source: Anna Barnett on flickr
I know this headline sounds more like the title of a fantasy novel than a project the federal United States government is implementing. But it’s real – a real 1500 mile project that will connect Minnesota with Texas with habitat areas for Monarch butterflies all the way down the middle of our country. That’s the path these butterflies take on their way to winter in fir forests outside of Mexico City, Mexico. It will run north-south along Route I-35, pretty much the entire vertical length of the United States.

butterfly highway
Source: mexiconewsdaily.com

The Christian Science Monitor explains the plan:

The Xerces Society has already been working with the Federal Highway Administration to develop best practices for roadside management, including incorporation of flowering plants and milkweed and adapting mowing schedules to migration patterns… but the president’s plan is much broader than that.

“The idea is to use it as this iconic pathway to work with schools, farmers, ranchers, and park districts to improve habitats for 50 to 100 miles on either side of the I-35 corridor,” Dr. Black says.

North Carolina has a Butterfly Highway of its own. And, there are other Monarch protection projects coming to life in different parts of the United States – check out Monarch Joint Venture for details.

In May 2015 the Washington Post reported on Obama’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

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Washington tribe gets its Chinook salmon back

Chinook spawn in Elwha River
Chinook salmon spawn in Elwha River
Many generations of Chinook salmon were unable for a 100 year period to reach the Elwha River to lay eggs and raise their young. Access was blocked by two huge dams that are being removed, making the river and its tributaries habitat once again for fish travelling from the oceans where they spend their adult lives outside of spawning season. Many of the newly opened waterways lie within the protective borders of Olympic National Park in Washington state.

In 1986 the Lower Elwha Klallam Indian tribe challenged the relicensing of the 64-meter-tall Glines Canyon Dam and the 33-meter-tall Elwha Dam that prevented their “dammed salmon” from accessing the river. The removals open up 112 kilometers of river and tributary habit for wildlife, fish and other seafood and will restore the tribe’s access to the traditions and diet that are interwoven with its culture as river stewards.

The US National Park Service reports

Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Today, Elwha Dam is gone, over fifty percent of Glines Canyon Dam has been removed, the Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell reservoirs have drained, and the Elwha River flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the first time in 100 years. Dam Removal dam is scheduled to be complete by September 2014.

Webcams and dam removal blog by the NPS Elwha River Project.

National Geographic has done several reports on this project:
Rebirth on the River: Washington’s Elwha Flourishing After Big Dam Removals
Salmon Re-enter Olympic National Park River Thanks to Elwha Dam Removal
Dam Removals Open Way for Cultural and Habitat Restoration

Spectacular time lapse video of dam explosion and Elwha River waterway being re-established.

AP article

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The Shangri-la source of all the world’s apples is under threat of destruction

Kazakhastan apples via orexca
Source: Orexca
Modern apples are a product of bear selection and a mother-father pair of trees in the Tian Shen forests of Kazakhastan, where many tasty and supremely healthy varieties can still be found today. Techly contributer Riordan Lee explains:

After sequencing the entire genome, scientists have traced 90% of the billions of apples that have ever been, back to the Malus sieversii – the original wild apple.

This species was born deep in the heart of the Tien Shen forests – where dense covers of apple trees dominated the hilly, remote mountain ranges.

The reason most apples have that classic, sweet ‘apple’ flavour is funnily enough, because of bears.

In these Kazakh forests, bears, being the picky buggers that they are, would only pick and eat the sweetest apples.

Then they’d go and wander around poop everywhere and the seeds of these sweet, delicious apples were spread around.

Today, tourism and deforestation are threatening the Kazakh region’s, “highly disease resistant, sweet, and hard,” apple trees. Due to centuries of inbreeding, the genetic structure of apple varieties outside of Kazakhastan has become fragile and their immune systems are weak. Fruit from Kazakh trees has the power to save apples around when seedlings from their stock is merged with genetically weaker varieties the rest of us know and love.

We must protect our apples!

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Plant These for Bees

By Claire Jones
By Claire Jones

Look at the beautiful graphics Claire Jones and Hannah Rosengren created to show us the wide range of plants that bees like. Makes them easy to remember … now get into your garden and plant some!

plant these to save the bees
By Hannah Rosengren 2013
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Organic food industry is being overtaken by mega corporations – take a look

mega corps taking over food production
Source: Phil Howard, Michigan State University

Assoc. Prof. Phil Howard of Michigan State University tracks the evolution – or degeneration – of the United States’ organic food standard. Howard told the WaPo,

It’s easier than ever to access to foods,” he said, “and the prices have come down. On the other hand, there is continual pressure to weaken the national organic standards to increase profits – and the big companies have the clout to do that.

Still, it’s disconcerting to learn that organic has become corporatized, and Howard certainly isn’t the only sustainability professional concerned about the trend. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumer’s Association explains what the fuss is all about:

While Cummins believes that this is still largely true in practice, he says that this will change over time. I see some troubling trends, especially in organic dairy. In that sector there is a major move toward moving production from family farms to industrial feedlot factory farms. Horizon controls 70% of the US organic dairy market, and last year it was bought by Dean Foods, he told CorpWatch..

³No way in hell can you be organic if you have over a few hundred cows. After a certain size, the operation cannot be ecologically sound anymore, among other things because of the amount of manure produced, added Cummins.

³In California there are huge organic farms that produce organic lettuce and carrots in large monocultures, using large energy inputs and receiving subsidized water- three elements that are anti-environmental and unacceptable for those who want ecologically sound farming, he adds.

In a 2002 study conducted at the University of California at Davis, Karen Klonsky documents that organic food production in California is already concentrated. Two percent of organic farm operations, about 27 growers, bring in over $1 million a year and represent over half of the organic sales in the state.

Indeed while over 90% of all U.S. farms are categorized by the USDA as small, the other 10% — big agribusiness — provide approximately 60% of all food sales.

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Big Tech tries to replace meat with chemicals but real foods are better

two cows
Source: Wikipedia
Nicholas Kristofferson of the New York Times tells us that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two competitors creating meat-like products in laboratories with the backing of, “Bill Gates and both Biz Stone and Ev Williams of Twitter fame, not to mention Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm that backed Google and Amazon.” Didn’t take long for Big Tech to figure out how much money and power lies in controlling people’s food supply.

Beyond Meat’s, “best-selling product, the Beast Burger, is loaded with protein, vitamins, antioxidants and Omega-3s.” A healthy product, if you believe that eating a dinner of chemicals is good for your health. I actually don’t. I’d rather eat a chick pea curry or a falafel sandwich. They don’t taste anything like meat, but they’re filling, delicious and nutritious.

If you’re wanting to reduce your meat consumption, check out Ellie Krieger’s suggestions for truly healthy substitutes. And forget the chemicals.

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Study links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year

Sugar Loaded Drinks posterStudy links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year, with low and middle-income countries bearing the brunt of the burden.

Harvard has plenty of bad stuff to report about sugary drinks too and cautions, “Fruit juice is not a better option. Even though it has more nutrients, it contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as soft drinks.” Here are some of the heavy facts:

Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese, (29) and the nation spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. (30) Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. (31) On any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks; 1 in 4 consume at least 200 calories from such drinks; and 5% drink at least 567 calories—equivalent to four cans of soda. (32)…

The role of marketing
Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens’ diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day). (34)

From 1989 to 2008, calories consumed in the form of sugary beverages increased by 60% in children ages 6 to 11, and the percentage of children consuming them rose from 79% to 91%. (35)