Friday, April 19, 2013


Here's a timely article to read on the subject, just out in National Geographic:

It sure would be easier to just sprinkle a little concentrated nitrogen compound on my garden than hauling big  bags of compost and building piles to make my own.   After shopping for and getting a couple of bags into my community garden plot today I didn't have energy for much else.  And I need to clean up one bin and spread another of the homegrown stuff.

But the dark sides of synthetic fertilizer are many:  algal blooms, soil depletion, greenhouse gases, explosions.

I've really just looked at the pictures so far, but I hope to read this article soon - after I finish the spring hauling of organic garden amendments.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meaty subjects

I'm really not anti-meat; I just don't eat it.  I think those who enjoy meat should have small quantities of meat from animals pastured on land that won't support nutritious food crops.

But it's amazing to me how defensive big meat eaters are.  I wish I hadn't looked at the comments on this Science Friday story:
I figured my gut flora had changed from years (pushing two decades I think, though I haven't really kept track) of not eating meat, but I did not realize that discouraging those bacteria lowered a risk factor for heart disease.  It's not just the fat and cholesterol in meat, but the bacteria that help us digest it, which lead to coronary risk.

Last Friday's SciFri was a bonanza for foodies, as it also included coverage of the book Gulp. Adventures on the Alimentary Canal,  by Mary Roach.   I caught most of it at the beginning of my trip to Eureka via suburban Laytonville. 

Meanwhile, today's news brings another scary (or scarier) report on antibiotics in meat animals.  It's worse than you thought.  Heavens, it's worse than I thought!  The prophylactic use of the drugs in animals in confined feeding operations is escalating resistance in E. coli, salmonella and Campylobacter and these disease resistant strains are increasingly found in your meat supply.  53% of samples from supermarket raw chicken contained resistant E. coli, for example.  
The short article on NPR's "The Salt" blog is here: 

Food System Alliance update

There are days when all the meetings seem worth it.  Not always, but sometimes.  We've been going through some staff changes with the Sonoma County Food System Alliance, as well as adding some new members.  Because of these, today at our regular monthly meeting we took the time to introduce ourselves, and it was wonderful to hear again all the experiences that have brought people to this commitment, in this place and this time.

I'd only seen our facilitator, Katy Mamen, in action once before, and that a few years ago.  So I watched to see what I could learn.  I'm going to steal her framework for our self-introductions. What is your passion, your path, and your position?  Easy to remember, and provocative of interesting stuff without being gimmicky.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at how many people had to start with their position and organizational identification.

We are finally ready in our FSA to get out there with Food Action Plan.
We'll begin getting the organizations we represent to endorse it, and planning four fora on the four pillars of the plan, starting in July and running into early next year.  I will be working with a very small group on the Social Equity pillar, targeted for November.