Tag Archives | Farming

An Intro to Farm Shares and Community Sponsored Agriculture

Comics artist Colleen Doran writes a quick and breezy intro to the world of farm shares and farm credit programs. Establishing trustworthy ways to get fresh, healthy, non-GMO food is going to become increasingly important. Doran gives an overview of what’s available and links to get started.

via A Distant Soil:

In almost every major metropolitan area, and most rural areas, you will find farm shares or CSA’s, “Community Sponsored Agriculture”.

A CSA is, basically, a food subscription service.

Depending on the program (and they vary widely between suppliers,) the CSA will supply weekly, biweekly, or monthly food subscriptions for a flat annual fee which will cover the farming season, usually around half the year. If you live in California where the season is long, you can get a year-round subscription.

The farm will provide you with a prescribed amount of food per drop based on whatever is in season.

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Supreme Court To Rule On Monsanto’s ‘Self-Replicating Patent’ Seeds

Monsanto demands that anyone who plants a seed containing the its patented herbicide-resisting genes pay steep “technology fees.” The problem is that Monsanto’s plants amount to self-replicating patent machines, as the Monsanto-created genes spread through the ecosystem. NPR  reports:

This farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, has been a loyal customer for Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soybeans. Sometimes he bought ordinary soybeans from the local grain elevator or another farmer.

But here’s the problem: Monsanto’s soybeans account for 94 percent of all the soybeans grown in Indiana. So almost all the soybeans that Bowman could get his hands on contained the patented “Roundup Ready” gene. Monsanto found out and took Bowman to court [where he was ordered] to pay $84,000. An appeals court affirmed that decision.

The arguments and counter-arguments that both sides have submitted to the Supreme Court mostly focus on the reach of Monsanto’s patents — specifically, whether Monsanto really can demand a royalty for the planting of any soybean containing its patented genes.

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Is Modern Wheat A ‘Chronic Poison’?

CBS News ponders whether America is being poisoned by food we “improved” via technology:

Modern wheat is a “perfect, chronic poison,” according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published a book all about the world’s most popular grain.

Davis said that the wheat we eat these days isn’t the wheat your grandma had: “It’s an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there’s a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It’s not gluten. I’m not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. I’m talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year.”

To avoid these wheat-oriented products, Davis suggests eating “real food,” such as avocados, olives, olive oil, meats, and vegetables.

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Missouri Family Wins Right To Grow Vegetables In Its Yard

Who would think that using one’s garden for, well, gardening would be a subversive act? Apparently, in the suburbs, it now takes a legal battle to grow edible plants in one’s yard. Via Good:

Urban farmers as outlaws: It’s becoming a familiar tale. Whether it’s a $2,500 fine for growing chard in Oakland or bans on backyard chickens in Pensacola, the civic agrarian often bumps up against the cold hard edge of the law.

Karl Tricamo of Ferguson, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis, ripped the sod up from the front of his brick tract home last year and started tilling his modest plot. He delighted in the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers he raised just steps from his front door. Tricamo estimates that 80 percent of their vegetables now come from his former lawn.

Ferguson city officials, though, didn’t appreciate Tricamo’s industrious green thumb and cited him for violations of the “exterior appearance code.” Code enforcers routinely did creepy drive-bys or parked in front of his house observing the locavore scofflaw.

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Half Of U.S. Counties Are Now Disaster Areas

America: it was good while it lasted. After a summer of extreme weather patterns, half of the country is classified as disaster zones, Yahoo! News reports:

Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government’s list of natural disaster areas as the nation’s agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties — 1,584 in 32 states — have been designated primary disaster areas, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades.

As of this week, nearly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. About 37 percent of the U.S. soybeans were lumped into that category, while nearly three-quarters of U.S.

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Vast Majority of Americans Want Meat Raised Without Antibiotics

Consumer Reports has created a campaign, Meat Without Drugs, and a promo video narrated by Bill Paxton and directed by Robbie Kenner (Food, Inc. and the disinformation doc When Strangers Click):

We typically don’t like to regurgitate press releases, but the following statistics from Consumer Reports show Americans to be so overwhelmingly in favor of eliminating the use of antibiotics in factory food animals that it seemed worth sharing:

A majority of Americans want meat raised without antibiotics to be sold in their local supermarket, according to a new national poll conducted by Consumer Reports. The poll is part of a report released today, “Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” available online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has simultaneously launched a new marketplace campaign, urging supermarkets to sell only meat raised without antibiotics─starting with Trader Joe’s, one of the leading national chains best poised to make this commitment.

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Farmers & Food Co’s Rally Against GM Seeds & Chemicals

SOCC_logoThe dangers of using bio-engineered seeds and chemical pesticides in agriculture have been warned against by activists for many years, but now many farmers and food companies are sounding the alarm too, calling for government intervention. From Reuters via Yahoo Finance:

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies racing to roll out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides designed to work with the crops as a way to counter rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds that are choking millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Dow and Monsanto say the new chemical combinations and new crops that tolerate those chemicals are badly needed by corn, soybean and cotton farmers as weeds increasingly resist treatments of the most commonly used herbicide – glyphosate-based Roundup.

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Factory-Farmed Chickens Fed Prozac, Caffeine and Banned Antibiotics

Factory-Farmed ChickensSara Novak writes on Treehugger:

It’s no surprise that conventionally factory farmed chickens aren’t fed the best diet. We already knew that they were routinely fed arsenic. In fact, a 2004 study from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy showed that more than half of store-bought and fast-food chickens contained elevated levels of arsenic. Roughly 2.2 million pounds of it are being used every year to produce 43 billion pounds of poultry. It’s called roxarsone and it’s used to fight parasites and increase growth in chickens.

New research not only confirms use of arsenic, but finds the addition of a frightening elixir of drugs that includes caffeine, banned antibiotics, and even Prozac. Researchers started off testing just for banned antibiotics but went ahead and looked for other substances because it didn’t add to the cost of the test. What they found even surprised them, according to a story in The New York Times.

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Is Your Favorite Ice Cream Made with Monsanto’s Artificial Hormones?

Ice Cream dessert 02Monsanto has been in the news again, with a U.S. District Court ruling that the USDA has to at least go through the motions of regulating the company’s genetically engineered sugar beets. Monsanto, you may know, is not likely to win any contests for the most popular company. In fact, it has been called the most hated corporation in the world—which is saying something, given the competition from the likes of BP, Halliburton, and Goldman Sachs.

This has gotten me thinking about, of all things, ice cream, and of how Monsanto’s clammy paws can be found in some of the most widely sold ice cream brands in the country. These brands could break free from Monsanto’s clutches. So far they haven’t, but maybe this is about to change.

Ben & Jerry’s gets all their milk from dairies that have pledged not to inject their cows with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH).… Read the rest

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Midwestern Hog Farms Keep Mysteriously Exploding

6506284705_6ed9d1801a_bHog farming is even grosser than you imagined. Farms keep spontaneously blowing  up due to chemical interactions involving bacteria-laden gas and a brown goop of sketchy origin. Ars Technica writes:

Since 2009, six farms have blown up after methane trapped in an unidentified, pit-topping foam caught a spark. In the afflicted region, the foam is found in roughly 1 in 4 hog farms.

There’s nothing farmers can do except be very careful. Researchers aren’t even sure what the foam is. “This has all started in the last four or five years here. We don’t have any idea where it came from or how it got started,” said agricultural engineer Charles Clanton. “Whatever has happened is new.”

A gelatinous goop that resembles melted brown Nerf, the foam captures gases emitted by bacteria living in manure, which on industrial farms gathers in pits beneath barns that may contain several thousand animals. The pits are emptied each fall, after which waste builds up again, turning them into something like giant stomachs: dark, oxygen-starved percolators in which bacteria and single-celled organisms metabolize the muck.

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