Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I finally finished reading the Los Angeles Times series on farm labor in Mexico.

Here's a link to a moving page of portraits of these men, women and children:
http://graphics.latimes.com/product-of-mexico-faces/

Now I sit here not knowing what to say. Pay is low, working conditions are terrible, and the housing and company stores offer too little for way too much.  And the children. The image of a small hand rapidly picking jalapenos and serranos which are then moved from container to container, through a series of wholesalers to their final retail destination, often on the West Coast, where one of our hands picks them up and puts them in a produce bag - this is what sticks with me.  If only there were a way to reach out across the many degrees of separation, touch that hand, somehow raise farm wages so that families don't depend on what children can earn, and children can go to school.

It's pretty clear to me that consumer solutions are not enough. Not shopping at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and the other chains which sell produce from exploitative farms would be easy. For that matter, so would not buying any produce from Mexico, just sticking to things when they are in season here. But what would these actions accomplish? How could some concerted pressure be brought to bear?

The Times series offers no ideas about how to remedy the situation.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I-wish-I'd-writtten-that department

Here's some straightforward writing about feeding 9 billion from Mark Bittman.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/opinion/dont-ask-how-to-feed-the-9-billion.html?emc=edit_tnt_20141111&nlid=6760955&tntemail0=y&_r=1

It's not a production challenge, it's a challenge to address and end poverty.

There's a video of the talk Bittman mentions in the article here:
http://www.nytfoodfortomorrow.com/videos/opening-keynote-how-to-change-the-food-system-and-feed-the-nine-billion.aspx
I would have been happy to embed it - but it's on You Tube in bits and pieces - too tricky for me.
Besides, you can watch videos with other luminaries like Fred Kirschenmann and Michael Pollan on the conference site. The link above will take you there.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I find this to be somewhere between creepy and immoral:

http://www.harvardagriculture.org/article.html?aid=129

I wouldn't be attending a seminar about investing in anything anyway, since my wealth is mighty small, but I'm sure this is not supportive of a just agricultural system.  How can they call it Harvard Alumni for Agriculture? Perhaps the assumption is that if you are for something, you corner the market on it.  Sigh.

So - after gasping some more I read on, exploring the web site.  There is a nod to sustainability on this web site, but it may be more about economic sustainability than environmental sustainability.
There's also an annual student contest on food system innovation. It's sponsored by the Law School and the School of Public Health.  Hmmm.

And so - should I join this group to find out more about what they are up to?  Or would it annoy me more than I need to be annoyed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Food System Scorecard

Fun and informative:

http://foodpolicyaction.org/

See how your senators and representative voted, or have fun entering names of legislators in the news.  When it comes to food security and agricultural sustainability, is it any surprise that it's Pelosi 100 vs Boehner 0?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Debunking "superweeds"

This report brief got my attention:

http://wssa.net/wp-content/uploads/WSSA-Fact-Sheet-on-Superweeds_16-Sep-2014.pdf

Weed scientists report that the problem of herbicide resistance in weeds is primarily due to an evolved resistance due to repeated application of one class of herbicide. Using an approach integrating a variety of methods of weed control - many physical, not just chemical - could lessen this effect.

While genes from genetically engineered canola, wheat and sunflower can enter wild relatives, and do sometimes, GM corn, soy and cotton don't have any wild relatives in the US and Canada, so gene flow is negligible.

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I can hardly wait!

Most of us gardeners know that all the brassicas we grow are at least kissing cousins.  Now two of them, with a little human assist, have been doing more than kissing.  And if you haven't had enough kale, you are going to be really excited with the result - it's Kalette, a conventional hybrid of kale and brussels sprouts.  It grows like the sprouts, but looks like little colorful kale.

Johnny's will be the source of seeds for home gardeners in the U.S.  Read their press release here:
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-press-release-kalettes.aspx

Oh - and of course the Kalettes have their own Facebook page - just search for that name.

But I still think "the Kalettes" sounds like a barbershop quartet of nutritionists.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

color coded eating

Goodness.  I've had a two month vacation!

Bountiful Gardens on Facebook alerted me to the Huffington Post article with the link to this infographic you can print out and post on your fridge.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Phytonutrient_checklist_r2.pdf

I'm going to - though for the next few weeks I will be eating and processing the bounty without a lot of thought about what colors things are.  Red (tomatoes), white (apples), yellow and orange (squash) , green (the last of the green beans).  I wonder if figs count as purple?  Oh well, cocoa and wine do! Who knew?