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I have to admit, I'm very frustrated. I'm frustrated because we have an easy, totally possible solution in sight for reducing emissions and sequestering carbon via agriculture, and it doesn't look like anyone's interested in doing it. Scratch that statement actually. LOTS of people are interested in doing it. Multinational corporations aren't interested in doing it, and as a result, powerful nations like our own aren't interested in doing it.

Read on...

Put very simply, there are two ways to grow food:

Method #1: Let nature do the heavy lifting. Nourish the microbes in the soil (and larger soil life too like earthworms and bugs) and they will do the work for you. They will bring nutrients to the plants, compete with and prey on pests, and make the soil the right texture to hold and absorb water. If there's a lot of rainfall, that rain will be able to trickle all the way down into the groundwater. The soil will hold water too, so if there's a drought, you'll have reserves of water to help you out. This form of agriculture is superior in its ability to resist heat, cold, drought, flood, pests, and disease - AND it puts more nutrients in the food.

Method #2: Kill all of the soil life and replace its functions with man-made technologies like pesticides, fertilizer, tilling, and irrigation. The only problem here is that we don't perfectly understand what all of the soil microorganisms do, so it's hard to recreate their functions. Furthermore, where we do understand what we do, we can't always recreate their functions perfectly, and we can't always do it without harmful side effects like pollution.

Here's the catch - and you can guess how this is playing out in Copenhagen - Method #1, if used on all of the world's cropland, has the ability to sequester 40% of the world's carbon emissions. Method #2 is really, really, really profitable for a lot of corporations.

When you use Method #2, which I will refer to as Industrial Ag, you often buy your seeds, you definitely buy your petroleum-based fertilizer unless you have a big bunch of manure handy, and you also buy pesticides. You might need to pay to irrigate (if not for the water, then for the electricity), and you need to use a lot of oil to operate your farm machinery.

When you use Method #1, which I will refer to as Agroecological Ag (i.e. using ecology to grow food), you don't need to buy so much stuff. You might still buy seeds. In fact, you might need to buy more seeds because now you need to plant cover crops that will fix nitrogen into the soil (in place of the petroleum-based fertilizer you're no longer using). You still need some oil, but you need a LOT LESS of it. 2/3 less, actually. You don't need petroleum-based fertilizer or pesticides anymore. Hopefully you can use natural rainfall instead of irrigation. In short, there are a number of large, powerful companies who have just lost your business. (Note: Synonyms for Agroecological Ag include Organic, Sustainable, or Regenerative Ag... each has their own nuances in their meanings, but they are used frequently as synonyms.)

And THAT, my friends, is the problem right there. It all comes down to money, plain and simple. Enormous multinational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, etc, don't want to lose the business of an entire nation of farmers. In fact, they want quite the opposite. They are looking to nations that still do not use their products (mostly in Africa) and they see new markets. They see a potential to make MORE money by expanding industrial ag to places where it does not yet exist.

These corporations actually have a very clever line about why we shouldn't switch to agroecological methods. They say, "Well, it's a nice idea, but you can't feed the world that way! Do you want people to starve?" And, as good liberals, we say NO, of COURSE we don't want people to starve. It's like holding a gun to our heads. Buy our products or else people will starve! There's another way they say this too. They say "If you go all organic, you need to use more land to grow the same amount of food." The CEO of the biotech firm Syngenta made news for saying this a week or two ago. He was asked if organics were better for the environment and he said no, they are actually WORSE because they require 30% more land to grow the same amount of food and that results in deforestation. That's a lie.

Here's the truth about that. First of all, we won't starve. Scientists found that if the entire world switched to agroecological methods using only the land cultivated now, we could produce enough food to feed everybody and we could even feed a growing global population. They also found that we'd have enough nitrogen to grow food agroecologically. In the U.S. where we use a lot of agrochemicals, we'd see a very slight decrease in productivity. However, in the developing world, where they DON'T use very many chemicals to grow their food, they would see an 80% INCREASE in the amount of food produced.

The other thing to note is that growing more food will not by itself end world hunger. How do we know this? Because we've already tried and it didn't work. In the past 50 or so years, we've increased the amount of food produced per capita, yet hunger went UP. The reason is because we have consolidated ownership of the means of production, squeezing out the smallholders who were struggling to feed themselves in the first place. They've had to move to even more marginal land, land that is going to be the first to suffer from the effects of the climate crisis, and that makes them even LESS able to feed themselves.

In other cases, we've sold smallholders industrial farming inputs like hybrid or GMO seeds, petroleum-based fertilizer, and pesticides. That worked for a little while until it didn't work anymore (that's the very definition of unsustainable!). Part of the problem was environmental, and part of it was social/economic/governmental. In the past, farmers were given free seeds and later they were told to buy them. Or in the past, farmers were protected by trade barriers and then their governments joined the WTO and made them compete on the world market.

So those are the true causes of hunger in the world, and the climate crisis is making it worse. The U.S. has indicated it would agree to limiting temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, but climate scientists say that a 2 degree increase worldwide means a 3.5 degree increase in Africa. Africans are calling that a death sentence, as it would severely limit their ability to produce food on a continent that already suffers from epidemic hunger. The less developed countries are calling for limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the U.S. (and multinational corporations) say that the answer to world hunger is increasing crop yields via industrial ag. As I've noted, we've tried that and it doesn't work. But also - that would result in increasing climate change, not decreasing it. Agroecological methods of farming can sequester carbon into the soil at the rate of 1% per year, whereas industrial methods deplete carbon from the soil at the rate of 1% per year. I think it's obvious which direction we need to go in.

And THEN there's the whole topic of factory farmed meat and its contributions to the climate crisis (an estimated 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the FAO). That's actually connected to this same topic of growing crops, as the result of our enormous monoculture farms of corn and soybeans are cheap inputs for factory farms and the large quantities of meat they churn out for us to eat. But I'll have to save that for a later day.

At this point, I hope you are as angry and as frustrated as I am. The answers are there, they are easy, and they are possible. They just aren't what we're doing.

There are actually 2 action alerts available right now from the Organic Consumers Association on this very topic:

One to the EPA
One to Congress

If you wish to continue following this issue, I invite you to do so on my blog. We cover a wide range of topics on there, from Copenhagen and climate change to food safety to backyard chickens to sophisticated French cooking (thanks to Asinus Asinum Fricat). In short, anything related to food and agriculture is fair game. However, this topic - the profiteering of multinational corporations at the expense of our environment, our health, and our very ability to exist on this planet - is a particular concern of mine and I do cover it regularly.

Climate Change Reality Blogathon: Dedicated to our dear friend Steve of JohnnyRook's Climaticide Chronicles

KuangSi2Saturday December 12 (All times Pacific)
4:00a A Siegel, Climate Change Reality: THE Progressive Crisis
7:00a Senator Jeff Merkley, Climate Change Reality: The Stakes in Copenhagen
8:00a Senator John Kerry, Climate Change Reality: The Senate Debate
9:00a Pete Altman, Climate Change Reality: The Voices of Reason are Prevailing over ClimateGate

10:00a Keith Schneider
12:00p Daniel J Kessler
4:00p Jill Richardson (you are here)
5:00p rb137

Sunday December 13 (All times Pacific)KuangSi2
4:00a A Siegel
8:00a DrAmandaStaudt
9:00a Pete Altman
10:00a Keith Schneider
10:30a Jean-Pascal van Ypersele
11:00a RLMiller
12:00p Daniel J Kessler
1:00p Mike MacCracken
2:00p Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
3:00p Bruce Nilles
4:00p oke

Originally posted to Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:15 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (134+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pontificator, Kimberley, racerx, JekyllnHyde, Ed in Montana, catdevotee, Gooserock, RunawayRose, bread, Shockwave, Jim W, x, elfling, shpilk, mataliandy, Creosote, BlackGriffen, magnetics, ask, Morague, ctsteve, Eddie C, wader, Oke, hhex65, mwk, TexDem, ranger995, caldreaming, betson08, Eric Novinson, randallt, 3goldens, NoMoreLies, denise b, greycat, Omir the Storyteller, Pam from Calif, McMeier, GreyHawk, ladybug53, blue jersey mom, neroden, benny05, Rogneid, Ekaterin, Land of Enchantment, CJnyc, mariva, third Party please, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, vigilant meerkat, ej25, fizziks, Lefty Coaster, A Siegel, 4Freedom, bleeding heart, doinaheckuvanutjob, Dreaming of Better Days, blueoregon, shaharazade, Hedwig, ZenTrainer, tegrat, One Pissed Off Liberal, john07801, marykk, leema, Margfh, Van Buren, FishOutofWater, Matt Z, terabytes, Unbozo, rainmanjr, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, Jack the R, ImpeachKingBushII, willb48, alkalinesky, chapter1, Port City Moon, cheflovesbeer, elwior, happymisanthropy, ShempLugosi, luckylizard, Mayfly, Ellinorianne, In her own Voice, satanicpanic, Design the Future, maggiejean, 1BQ, Marcion, earicicle, geodemographics, asym, sanglug, allep10, jfromga, loveendures, Leftcandid, Words In Action, New Earth, flitedocnm, LaughingPlanet, publicv, kjoftherock, cordgrass, Benintn, sharonsz, Unenergy, freesia, ontheleftcoast, Eclectablog, asterkitty, KelleyRN2, mawazo, good grief, MKHector, muddy boots, Dixie Liberal, JayinPortland, Eric Stetson, Logical Fallacy Contraption, RLMiller, lol chikinburd, jaebone, Patric Juillet, Liberalindependent28

    I wrote a book! You should buy it!

    by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:15:32 PM PST

  •  Cmon (13+ / 0-)

    With higher temperatures with global warming fast food will just cook faster.

    At least that's what one global warming denier told me.

    That's Countdown for the 2,082nd day since Mission Accomplished. You thought that would change? Are the troops home yet? Keith Olbermann January 20, 2009

    by Ed in Montana on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:30:33 PM PST

  •  Low meat or no meat diets produce less methane (26+ / 0-)

    and use less land to feed people.

    And if you are going to eat meat, cattle produce more methane (and more heart attacks) so it good for you and the climate to avoid red meat.

    Excellent diary Jill.

    FWIW I have a draft diary to add to today's collection to go up late a 6 pm Pacific time.

    "A Radical Shift of the Arctic Atmospheric Circulation"

    look for my DK Greenroots diary series Wednesday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:31:28 PM PST

  •  here is newly updated schedule - 3 climate (9+ / 0-)

    scientists tomorrow!  and a lot more. :)

    Climate Change Reality Blogathon: Dedicated to our dear friend Steve of JohnnyRook's Climaticide Chronicles

    KuangSi2Saturday December 12 (All times Pacific)
    2:30a Philip Radford
    4:00a A Siegel
    7:00a Senator Jeff Merkley
    8:00a Senator John Kerry
    9:00a Pete Altman
    10:00a Keith Schneider
    2:00p RLMiller
    4:00p Jill Richardson
    5:00p rb137

    Sunday December 13 (All times Pacific)KuangSi2
    4:00a A Siegel
    8:00a DrAmandaStaudt
    9:00a Pete Altman
    9:30a Richard Graves
    10:00a Keith Schneider
    10:30a Jean-Pascal van Ypersele
    11:00a RLMiller
    12:00p Daniel J Kessler
    1:00p Mike MacCracken
    2:00p Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
    3:00p Bruce Nilles
    4:00p oke
    5:00p boatsie

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:32:59 PM PST

  •  organic farming counters climate change (19+ / 0-)

    so says report last month.

    Use of organic methods means that the soil takes up much more carbon, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide to boost global warming, according to the report from the Soil Association, the organic food and farming charity.

    Soil is a major store of carbon, the report says, containing three times as much as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests. About 60 per cent of this is in the form of organic matter in the soil. On average, organic farming produces 28 per cent higher levels of soil carbon compared to non-organic farming in northern Europe, according to the report, and 20 per cent higher for all countries studied (in Europe, North America and Australasia).

    The report suggests that widespread adoption of organic farming practices would offset 23 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture through soil carbon sequestration alone, more than doubling the Government's target of a 6-11 per cent reduction by 2020.

    If all UK farmland were converted to organic, the report says, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year – the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:37:51 PM PST

  •  Method # 3, a mix of methods #1 and 2, plus (9+ / 0-)

    genetically engineered plants capable of producing in altered climatic conditions.

    Developed in concert with local farmers through regional ag research centers.

    He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

    by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:43:04 PM PST

    •  I really hope Jill won't stand in the way (5+ / 0-)

      of funding agricultural research in the third world like she was advocating before.  It's so crucial.

      Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

      by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:50:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  as if my little blog (9+ / 0-)

        is actually getting in the way of anything. It's all going on whether I want it or not.

        I wrote a book! You should buy it!

        by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:54:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah (5+ / 0-)

          I'm delighted to see the administration appears to prefer actual science.

          Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

          by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:56:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  translation (5+ / 0-)

            the administration is bought and paid for by multinational corporations

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:57:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, not to worry (3+ / 0-)

              the rest of the world is moving on without you or the multinationals, too.  They are developing what they need to feed their people.  

              Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

              by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:11:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Good translation (7+ / 0-)

              I was wondering how far down thread I was going to have to go to find mem from somerville using the word "science" but never actually talking about science.

              "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

              by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:11:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It would be cool (4+ / 0-)

                if you demanded sources for Jill's materials.  But since she didn't need any, I figured why bother....

                Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:13:32 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sources do not equal science. You always (4+ / 0-)

                  talk about sources as if having a good bibliography = science.

                  Why not talk about actual experiments and data?

                  "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                  by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:15:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I have (6+ / 0-)

                    you must have missed my diaries on those. Feel free to look them up.

                    Other good sources are the Biofortified blog, James and the Giant Corn, and Sustainablogwith Steve's posts.  Oh, and of course Tomorrow's Table at ScienceBlogs.

                    Glad to hear you are seeking actual information!

                    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                    by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:18:32 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  OK, so I have taken a while to reply because I (12+ / 0-)

                      wanted to read some of your sources. They all appear to be adamantly pro GMO, albeit by scientists. The first site admits that many posters are working for companies that benefit from GMOs, although the site does not accept money from them.

                      They seem to be real mad at the people who are trying to block the large scale introduction of GMOs to Africa. They make the argument, without discussing the data, on how GMOs are going to feed all of the starving people in Africa. I have to ask WHERE IS THE DATA THAT SUPPORTS THIS!!!

                      They are mostly talking about small scientific evidence that points to GMOs improving plant output and production. Well, several plants like these were introduced into India and did not save all of the starving people of India. If these GMO products are going to save Africa, then why aren't we getting all sorts of great data from India?

                      Several of these scientists make good scientific arguments, but they conveniently leave out the corporate end of things. For example, on one of the blogs, a scientist talks about cross pollination between GMO and non-GMO plants, but fails to ever talk about patent law. How convenient is that?

                      I believe that much of this "small science" is correct, in that plant production and output are enhanced through modification. I am not exactly sold on the idea that highly productive mono crops are going to save the world. Where is it happening?

                      I also don't think that the jury is out on whether of not these things are entirely safe and effective. I want to see the large scale end result scientific studies that prove that the introduction of GMOs into poor communities has saved them from starvation.

                      In addition to this, many of these plants are patented and controlled by large corporations not interested in feeding the world, but making money.

                      On the other hand, I live in Oaxaca, where there are many poor people and no one is starving. Most of these farmers are peasants and can't afford to farm in any other way than organically. They manage to feed themselves on a system that has been around for ages, and is self-sustaining. Now corporations like Monsanto are moving in, they have already taken over the north. Funny, I haven't seen an end to poverty there.

                      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                      by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:55:00 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Where does it say (3+ / 0-)

                        many posters are working for companies that benefit from GMOs

                        I think you may have misread that.

                        You may need to read a good post from Pam Ronald on some of the misconceptions you harbor:

                        10 Things about GE crops to Scratch From Your Worry List  She links to many science papers in there.

                        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                        by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:06:29 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  A couple of points of disagreement (3+ / 0-)

                        "I want to see the large scale end result scientific studies that prove that the introduction of GMOs into poor communities has saved them from starvation."

                        If you want scientific data on that, you've got a funny way of showing it. Trying to prevent GMOs from being introduced in the first place is one way to guarantee there will never be large scale studies of the financial and food security effect of the introduction of these crops to poor farmers.

                        "I am not exactly sold on the idea that highly productive mono crops are going to save the world. Where is it happening?"

                        This is a more general question than just genetic engineering, but I would argue the entirely of human civilization has been built on the high productivity of a handful of crops (particularly maize, wheat and rice).

                        On a separate note, weren't there food riots in mexico as recently as two years ago as the US started turning more of our corn into ethanol instead of exporting it, driving up the price of the corn tortilla so many people depend on? As of 2008, mexico imported, mostly from the US, 10 million tons of corn and produced only 24 million tons domestically. The small farmers around you may be producing enough food to feed themselves, but they aren't producing enough to feed their country. The way they're forced to farm, they can't.

                        I completely believe that they cannot afford to farm any other way, but don't you think, if they had enough money to make a choice, many of them would choose another way? I'm not talking just, or even mostly, about genetic engineering here, but about everything from fertilizer to tractors. How many would choose some other career, if they were given the option, rather than continuing to farm the same land, in the same way, as their parents and grandparents did?

                        I know I wouldn't.

                        •  Well, despite efforts to try to block GMO product (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          elfling, neroden, Margfh, Jill Richardson

                          s, they were introduced to India in large scale. So, regardless of what you think I am trying to do, you do have a least one test case. I am waiting to see the results.

                          Second, I am an archaeologist, and I can point to a few civilizations that ran into major problems because of over consumption and over productivity.

                          I think that our arguments come down to this:

                          You either believe that technology is going to save the world, and we can engineer ourselves to a better way of life.

                          or

                          That we have to become more responsible stewards of our planet and ourselves.

                          These are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I prefer more of the latter and less of the former.

                          Hence, you believe that all Mexicans want to have tractors and more money than their parents did, and many probably do. However, many of these people have been to the states, seen the other way, and reject it as well. FYI---those problems happened in the North of Mexico, where there are basically no more peasants. Most of the land up there is privately owned, and what little is farmed, is farmed by large agrobusiness. Down here in Oaxaca, there was no riot among the peasants, because they supply themselves.  

                          "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                          by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:39:36 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Do you believe (0+ / 0-)

                            that it is fair to withhold technology from another society--you know, for their own good?  

                            That is a sadly paternalistic attitude.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:42:28 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, mem, you are starting to do things that are (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            neroden

                            unbecoming of you. Like setting up strawmen.

                            That would be like me saying to you---

                            Do you believe it is fair to purposely poison people in third world countrieds to make a profit?

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:45:37 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Show me where (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            murrayewv

                            a GMO has poisoned a single person.  With appropriate sourcing.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:47:33 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Mem, maybe it is time to go to bed. I never made (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayinPortland

                            that accusation, I simply said that what you are accusing me of is a silly statement, akin to that fake argument that I made.

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:48:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'll go to bed (0+ / 0-)

                            right after you answer me:

                            Is it fair to withhold technology from another society?

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:51:11 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  NO, and you know damned well that I wasn't (2+ / 0-)

                            making that argument. I thought maybe that I could have a civil conversation with you. Instead, you act like Perry Mason, demanding an answer to a bullshit question that I never had any connection to.

                            While I disagree with you, I have never put words in your mouth or accused you of anything. I thought you might be the same way, with all of your talk of science and the like.

                            In fact, Jill's "I've heard" comment actually made me more cynical of her arguments as well.

                            It seems that you are both idealogues uninterested in listening to each other's arguments without condescending and without making up shit.

                            So, have at it.

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:56:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Excellent, thanks! (0+ / 0-)

                            Good night.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:56:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, you are so clever, NOT nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayinPortland

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:59:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  But that's her whole thing... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ranger995

                            She doesn't care what you say, it's all about what she thinks...

                            Her whole thing is putting words into the mouths of others.

                            Fwiw, she is also clearly, all political considerations aside, a blatant racist...

                          •  I don't know about racist, but I do think (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayinPortland

                            hypocrite would be accurate. Constantly talking about science and demanding answers, but never actually answering anything that is asked of her.

                            What did she say that can be construed as racist?

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:53:00 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Code words... (0+ / 0-)

                            "Slummerville"?

                            Frankly, those of us who grew up in Newark, New Jersey (or Somerville, Massachusetts) wouldn't stand for that crap...

                          •  Do you believe in forcing technology on (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elfling, Jill Richardson

                            people who don't want it, just so a large multi-national corporation can show it's shareholders more growth?

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:46:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Stop relying on activists for your data. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            murrayewv, docstymie

                            China is doing GMOs on their own to feed their people without Monsanto.  As are other countries: Crops With Attitude.

                            I have no desire to force anything on anyone. I just wouldn't ban or block funding on this as Jill would.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:50:10 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, whatever, no one is forcing GMO crops (0+ / 0-)

                            on anyone. Good night.

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:57:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Stop relying on corporate PR for your data nt (0+ / 0-)

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:22:31 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  oh for pete's sake (0+ / 0-)

                            i just met up with some folks from Kenya and Uganda. They didn't want the GMOs. It wasn't about them wanting it and us denying it from them, or us fooling them into not wanting them.

                            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

                            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:40:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  we withhold nuclear bomb technology (0+ / 0-)

                            from a LOT of societies. And just because nukes are very high tech that doesn't mean we should use them. Ditto on all technologies. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.

                            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

                            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:38:19 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The only GM crop grown in India is bt cotton (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ranger995

                            The only GM crop grown in India is bt cotton. And while it's decreased the use of pesticides by Indian cotton farmers, I hope you'll agree a non-food cash crop isn't a fair test of this technology's potential impact on food security for poor farmers. If ringspot-virus resistant papaya hadn't been blocked (in large part by European NGOs) in Thailand, I'd consider it an more more accurate source for those large scale studies you want.

                            I believe technology has been a net benefit for the human race. That doesn't mean that EVERY technology will necessarily be good, but I definitely don't approach science and innovation from a "guilty until proven innocent" perspective. That doesn't mean I don't think we have an responsibility to protect our planet, but you're right, within the environmental movement there's a definite fissure between people who see technology as part of the solution and those who see it as part of the problem. I don't think you'll find most anyone on this site who disagrees with the statement: "we have to become more responsible stewards of our planet".

                            I didn't know about where the riots were localized and I do appreciate the info. If most of the people in your region really are peasant farmers who still own their own land, I assume that means many of the younger sons and daughters of those farmers are forced to leave home and travel into the north (or even into the US) to find work? If not, I'd be curious to hear anything you know about how are the locals managing the issues of growing population and a fixed supply of farmable land.

                            And for the record I don't think all of your local farmers want tractors or different jobs (which yes, might pay enough to send their children to school). I think many of them do, but it's a big jump from many to all.

                            In the US, farming is productive enough, and there are enough alternative opportunities, that pretty much the only people who farm are those who enjoy farming. (Excluding migrant agricultural workers, whose plight deserves a lot more attention than it receives.) In much of the world where subsistence and peasant farming is still the rule, farming can be a virtual prison for all too many. Better than unemployment and starvation, but it still seems to me to be both cruel and a senseless waste of human potential when alternatives exist.

                          •  WE actually should use a (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Creosote, ranger995

                            'guilty until proven innocent' model.

                            Failure to do so has led to practically all the pollution problems we have ever had up to and including global warming.  There is a strong movement to switch from "innocent until proven guilty" for new chemicals to "guilty until proven innocent" for exactly this reason.  We already did it with drugs, long ago.

                            While we don't want to use "proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, we do want to use "proven innocent by the preponderance of the evidence".

                            -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                            by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:09:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well you are a reasonable person, I thank you for (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elfling

                            that. However, we have some fundamental disagreements.

                            1. I do not believe the state of farmers to be very good in the United States.  In fact, the large agro-businesses have a lot to do with the poor economic state of the actual people who farm the land. Many of them are tenant farmers who don't own their own land.
                            1. I do not believe that food, grown and processed by these huge corporations in the United States, is healthy. We may all be getting fed, but the food tastes bad and is complete garbage. Our population is not healthy, and it is partially due to all the crap food that we eat. That food, since NAFTA, is starting to negatively effect the population of Mexico--more diabetes, more obesity, more health issues.
                            1. You appear to think that people who are tenant farmers have it better off than the peasant farmers I am thinking of. I totally disagree. The farmers I know in the states had to give it up or are barely making it. The peasant farmers I know here, are very poor, but they are not in danger of losing their land or their crop.
                            1. It is true that people migrate from Mexico to the US for money periodically, but I am not sure how big agro-business is going to save them from this. In addition, I don't believe that this is due to the fact that there are not big farms in the area. As I said before, there are tons of Dekalb and Monsanto farms in the north, and yet there is still poverty. In fact, I would argue that the poverty is worse up there, because they do not have their own land and do not produce their own food.

                            In fact, in places like Indonesia, where the people were once peasant farmers who owned their own land. They now make money working for factories, and live in corporate housing. They make a pittance, and it can certainly be argued that they were better off as peasants with no job, but their own land and food source.

                            I am not sure that I agree with you about Mexicans being able to feed themselves. Mexico imports corn because of NAFTA, they have to, not because they couldn't feed themselves. The population of Mexico has just now, after centuries, returned to the population size that it had when Cortez showed up. Those people were able to feed themselves and all of the dignitaries, artisans, elites, etc.. that existed within Mexico.

                            Maybe there wouldn't be a problem with Mexican peasant farmers if they were given subsidies by their government like the big agro businesses are here.

                            I am not against technology, but I am against being fed BS about technology from large corporations only out for profit. IF they are really so good, then why are we subsidizing them?

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:25:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Let me try to address your points: (0+ / 0-)

                            #1. The vast majority (98%) of farms in the US are family farms. Now that covers a lot of ground, from wealthy extended families that even own their own meat packing plants to (far more commonly) the nuclear family farm that is one missed payment away from foreclosure with both parents working second jobs to support the farm (are you considering farmers with a mortgage on their land as tenant farmers? Maybe that's why our numbers don't agree). My point wasn't that farming is a great lifestyle in the US, (although I do still think it's much better than subsistence and peasant farming), but that the people farming today in this country are the ones dedicated enough to pick up a second job to subsidize their own farm, rather than simply sell and get out of the business, to make that choice, to me, implies a love of the occupation.

                            1. My rank healthy food > unhealthy food > no food. In the US, we have plenty of food, so obviously our priority should be to make our food healthier. Mexico may fall into the same category, I trust your first hand knowledge of the situation on the ground there. But can we agree there are places where a cup of white rice (empty calories if anything is) is the difference between starvation and surviving for another day.
                            1. As I tried to explain in response to point 1, I think people who love farming are way happier farming (regardless of technology) than people who don't. A society based on peasant farming is going to condemn a lot more people who don't love farming to that lifestyle whether they choose it or not.
                            1. I don't think big-business can save them from this. My point was that one of the unsustainable things about peasant farming is that generally requires a fair number of children to help out with the farm but, once farms have been divided down to a certain size (beyond which a farm would be too small to support a family), most of those children won't have any land of their own will have to go off and do something besides farming. If they're migrating to the north of mexico or the US, it's artificially relieving the demand for food produced by local peasant farming of your region.

                            I think subsidizing mexican farmers is a great idea, and I believe that was one of the goals of the Sistema Alimentario Mexicano which used Mexican oil revenues to reinvest in the country's agriculture.

                            In summation, it comes down to two beliefs on my parts.

                            1. Technology has, on the whole, been a good thing for agriculture. American farmers produce more food, with less environmental impact, than they did a decade ago. Now that environmental impact is still to high to be sustainable in the long run, but it is trending in the right direction and I place a lot of the credit with technology that lets farmers to more with less, from GPS tracking systems that let farms more specifically target fertilizer applications (less wasted fertilizer which ends as run off), to traditional breeding and genetic engineering* which mean the seeds farmers plant today will yield more with the same inputs, under a wider range of conditions than those planted the year before which in turn were an improvement themselves.
                            1. I'd rather live in a society where more people are free to be archeologists, biologists, or pursue thousands of other passions and careers than one where many people are tied to their land and farming whether they want to or not. That doesn't mean there aren't negative consequences to our system, just that I'd rather work to mitigate those consequences rather than abandon the system.

                            You are, of course, free to disagree with as much of that as you like. But I think it's those two key points that most of our disagreement can be traced back to.

                            *With the exception of herbicide tolerance which doesn't do any good unless it's coupled with spraying herbicide

                          •  i'd be very interested (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ranger995

                            in hearing more about food & ag in mexico from you. You are always welcome to post diaries on that on my blog if you want to.

                            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

                            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:36:56 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  In Africa, how will more expensive seed (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          ranger995

                          solve the problems of poor roads, political instability, difficulty in accessing markets, and lack of credit?

                          I might particularly point to the last - lack of credit - and posit that changing to a system that requires larger cash investments in patented technology - not just this year but indefinitely - is a fairly risky path to follow.

                          In nations where unemployment is high and labor is inexpensive, hand labor may well make more sense than tractors.

                          I hear that you consider farming backbreaking and unpleasant, and you are fortunate not to have to make your living that way. But, there are plenty of people who actively like it, and even choose farming. I have neighbors with graduate degrees who transitioned to farming or ranching. Some people like tractors and some people don't. Some people farm by hand and some even have draft horses.

                          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                          by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:58:24 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Nothing About GE is Inherently Expensive (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mem from somerville

                            And they should be able to farm that way, I just don't like systems where many people are forced into occupation whether they want it or not, either as a result of high unemployment, or because more efficient technologies are discouraged.

                            More expensive seeds clearly aren't the answer in Africa, but nothing about genetic engineering is inherently expensive. The virus resistant papayas grown in Hawaii today were developed with a five-figure grant from the USDA and were given away freely to farmers. By it's very nature, a biotech trait is cheap to propagate once it's been created.

                            The issue of expense only arises once the work of developing the traits is done by private companies with patent protection of their seeds. What I don't understand is why people still object to genetically engineered seeds created by governments or NGOs that would be freely given to the farmers that need them (who in turn could save the seeds from one generation to the next, benefiting from the tiny initial investment in research to create the trait year after year).

                            Up thread I gave the example of local varieties of virus resistant papayas developed using the same technology that benefited farmers in Hawaii, which were being developed for Thai farmers by Thai government scientists, in collaboration with Cornell University.

                          •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                            What I don't understand is why people still object to genetically engineered seeds created by governments or NGOs that would be freely given to the farmers that need them

                            It's because they don't hear about them.  They are led to believe by activists that all GMO=Monsanto.  I've tried over and over to show the academic and non-profit aspects of this.  But what everyone hears is MONSANTO.  

                            Those days are ending, though.  It is going to be impossible for activists to claim that nutrient-providing cassava is a bad thing for the undernourished.  And that's just one example of many projects underway by farmers and governments that are not Monsanto.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 08:09:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  3/4 of the evil is due to patent protection (0+ / 0-)

                            1/4 due to failure to adequately test or understand the ramifications of the changes.

                            I agree, GMO can be used for good. Just as credit cards and subprime mortgages can be good. And I'm not being sarcastic there: credit cards and subprime mortgages can and do help people when used properly. But, as we've seen, they can also take down an economic ecosystem.

                            So how do we guide and regulate GMO to be a force for good rather than greed?

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 10:14:20 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  I've given mem my sources (7+ / 0-)

                    and she's looked at them. I could cite the same sources here (again) but i know she's read them already.

                    I wrote a book! You should buy it!

                    by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:37:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Obviously... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    randallt, happymisanthropy

                    ...one of mem's tactics is ascribing dark and dubious motives to those with whom she disagrees, and putting her words into their mouths, as she's already done here in this diary.

                    LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                    by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:44:41 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Oh, you want dark and dubious? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Miss Blue, RandomActsOfReason

                      Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                      by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:48:00 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You can dance around it all you want... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        randallt, happymisanthropy

                        ...but you still haven't come up with a rebuttal to this -

                        one of mem's tactics is ascribing dark and dubious motives to those with whom she disagrees, and putting her words into their mouths, as she's already done here in this diary.

                        Because you can't.

                        Your integrity here now clearly = 0.

                        LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                        by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:53:54 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Since when is (0+ / 0-)

                          expensive organic food dark and dubious?  

                          Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                          by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:56:22 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Organic food here in Oaxaca Mexico is actually (4+ / 0-)

                            cheaper than the GMO food. It is not expensive at all. In fact, most things that are locally made here are cheaper than the imported crap. I bought some really nice hand made ceramic mugs the other day for 20 pesos about 15 bucks.

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:01:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I am sorry that should be $1.50 not $15. nt (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Jill Richardson, JayinPortland

                            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:04:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Since... (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ranger995, randallt, Jill Richardson

                            ...you began to lie about it, and me.

                            There's your answer.  Now where's mine?

                            Where did I say what you put into my mouth?

                            And can you give me one example here in Portland of where organic food is some sort of costly menace destroying and starving our people, and putting us out of reach of your beloved GMOs?

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:08:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There's no premium (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            on organic food in Portland as there is everywhere else?

                            What's your secret?

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:12:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you! (5+ / 0-)

                            Thank you for citing NY Times articles!  They certainly know more about our local foods production and urban farming scene than those of us who work on urban ag issues and with Oregon Food Bank!

                            You're losing here, mem.  It's okay to back off, fwiw...

                            :)

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:17:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not sure I understand your secret still (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            got data?  I'm happy to have a look at it.  Pricing and methods, please.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:19:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Keep dodging... (0+ / 0-)

                            You're not winning any points here with anybody.

                            Come out here and take a look with me.  Some organizations don't have the resources to blast their accomplishments all over the internet, mem.  Nor do they have time to immediately submit their methods to the media.

                            You know, I do kinda like you, despite the fact that you're...

                            Well, whatever.

                            Anyways.

                            Believe it or not, mem, there are some of us who exist outside your World of Privilege, living day to day and hand-to-mouth, doing things that the New York media doesn't notice.

                            You might wanna step out of your Ivory Tower or Gold Bubble or whatever, and take a look around once in a while.

                            Wanna see what we're doing?  Come on out, I'll hook you up with real world folks myself...

                            :)

                            But you're probably not interested in that, are you?

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:31:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I asked you for the data (0+ / 0-)

                            Do you really want me to fly out there?  That's a silly use of a flight (bad for the environment) when all you have to do is show me the data.

                            I'd rather donate to my local food bank.

                            Ok--just tell me this is a fact and I'll believe you: Your organics are cheaper than everyone else's. You don't even have to tell me why (although I bet a lot of people would be interested to know and it would be a nifty public service on your part).

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:42:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, mem... (0+ / 0-)

                            Since you asked?

                            No, I don't want you to fly out here.

                            I mean, you're surely welcome and all...

                            Do you really want me to fly out there?

                            But no.  Oregon is a better place without you.

                            :)

                            Then donate to your local food bank, mem.  Just like I do.  And maybe you can even work for them, standing outside at the farmers' markets in March while your hands are freezing to the point where your fingers are just about to break off, gathering thousands of signatures so you get 'em on the income tax checkoff just like I did last year.

                            Like I did.

                            Have you done so, mem?  If so, congratulations!  Welcome to the real world of fighting hunger.

                            The world where we grow food on people's front lawns, where we scrounge up what we can at the closing of farmers' markets, where we host neighborhood association meetings and organize days dedicated to fighting hunger in our city.

                            And our entire region, for that matter.

                            After that, then we can discuss airplane flights and all that other shit.

                            You wanna know what I think?

                            I think you've never spent one day of your life down in the ditches, really fighting hunger.  

                            Because from your comments and your tactics here so far, I see your type.  Wealthy suburban warrior, tens of thousands in the bank, looking down your nose on those of us in the streets.  I know your type.

                            Prove me wrong.

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:56:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sorry, while I was waiting for your data (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman, murrayewv

                            I went looking.  You better tell Edible Portland about your secret.  They found something else.

                            And yeah, when the economy tanked, I called my food bank to increase my donation since I knew it was going to get harder.  The woman who took my call was surprised that I wasn't calling to cancel like other people were.  So my monthly standing donation is still up there.

                            When I did the distribution for my CSA (you know, the one with the education programs and the donations to charity) you didn't see me I guess.

                            Maybe you are wrong on other stuff too (well, besides the organic prices).  Don't worry, I'm sure you can find others to accuse.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:08:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Ummm... (0+ / 0-)

                            You still have yet to prove anything, but feel free to keep trying!

                            I enjoy the chuckles...

                            When I did the distribution for my CSA (you know, the one with the education programs and the donations to charity) you didn't see me I guess.

                            Where'd that happen?  In your driveway?  So tough.  What education programs?  Did you provide them?  Are you signed up with your local food bank's nutrition ed program like I am?  Do you volunteer?  Do you spend hours packing in their warehouse?

                            When "the economy" tanked, did yours?  Or was it just an abstraction to you?

                            Have you ever lived in an SRO, mem?

                            I have.

                            No, I'm not wrong on anything here. But I guess just your say-so is enough, huh?

                            Not used to hard questions, mem?

                            You ever been on the streets working to fight hunger, mem?

                            I noticed you dodged that question, too.

                            Yeah, now it's quite clear what you're all about.

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:20:35 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Do you want to call the CSA? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            Do you need a reference?  I can hook you up with them.  

                            Still waiting for your data.  I told you your "say so" was enough for me.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:22:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks for the confirmation. (0+ / 0-)

                            You don't have Clue One as to what those of us with street experience have, do you?

                            Stay safe and warm in your wealthy suburb tonight.

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:24:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How will I sleep (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            without knowing your secret for cheap organics that you are withholding from Greater Portland!!

                            And you have no idea what Slummerville is, do you? Just add that to the list of things you don't know--which grows and grows and grows....hey, maybe that's the secret!!  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:29:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That's a great way... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...to refer to "your" city, mem.

                            Tinges of racism are always wonderful.

                            Do you know anything about Newark, New Jersey?  That's where I grew up.

                            Frankly, I don't care one whit about how you sleep.

                            Tonight or any other.

                            But it was wonderful to see you expose yourself tonight...

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:33:55 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Does it embarrass you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            to be so consistently wrong?  

                            Sleep well dear.

                            I'm hoping you'll have that secret for us all tomorrow--it's almost my bedtime!

                            PS: don't forget--share the secret for how your organics are cheaper than everyone else's! I'll nominate you for the Nobel Prize right after that.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:45:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            neroden

                            Well, mem...

                            I'm not wrong, and your silly little attempts to portray me as so = Massive Fail.

                            Embarrassed?

                            No.

                            But you should be.

                            Your racism ("Slummerville") has clearly shined through.

                            Btw, I do know Somerville.

                            And I highly doubt you're actually from there.

                            If you were, you wouldn't have pulled the "Slummerville" bullshit.

                            Frankly, that's insulting to me and everybody else who didn't grow up with your advantages.

                            If you actually did come from such a city, you never would have pulled such a "card" to begin with.

                            Butr keep up the "science" stuff.

                            You and I both know who you really are...

                            LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                            by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:57:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, dear, wrong again (0+ / 0-)

                            You should be embarrassed--unless that is the record you are aiming for.  You can look up Slummerville in wikipedia.  

                            What do you want--a DNA test of some sort to prove my working class background?  

                            You and I both know who you really are...

                            Yes, we both know I'm a tireless defender of science.  JohnnyRook emailed me before he died thanking me for defending science from the anti-science food cranks.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 07:39:59 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Organics are expensive because of demand (0+ / 0-)

                            and scarcity issues, more than because of production methods per se.

                            When organics are locally produced, they are often the same or similar in price.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:09:34 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  I am not ready to put mem in that category. I (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      randallt

                      think he/she is just adamantly for GMO crops and disagrees wholeheartedly with those that disagree. I have not seen him or her be particularly mean or anything. I just think that there are scientists on both sides of this argument, so saying that one is not scientific is not helpful. I wish he/she would stop doing that.

                      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                      by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:58:41 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Actually the admin pulled an attempt at (3+ / 0-)

              rapprochement between plant genetic scientists and the organic community.

              The USDA Report by Cyndi Barmore, The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production, has recently been pulled from the USDA website. This is the USDA’s explanation:

              "On May 26, 2009, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) posted a Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report titled, "The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production."  This report should have been accompanied by a clear statement that the report does not represent the policy of the United States Government, and given this, the report has been removed from the agency’s Web site. It should be noted that USDA’s National Organic Program regulations exclude the use of genetically engineered organisms in organic production. Additionally, FAS has no role in the administration of the National Organic Program."

              It turns out that there was a resounding negative response from certain organizations that do not like genetic engineering – and the very thought of organic + biotech is disconcerting. It led to a pile of emails sent in the USDA’s direction.

              USDA Organic-Biotech report pulled

              Bad form from "the good guys" in my humble opinion.

              He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

              by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:12:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Uh, libel. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jill Richardson

        No, Jill was not "standing in the way of funding agricultural research in the third world".  Although you seem to be a rabid promoter of monocultures and wiping out genetic diversity, after looking at your history, and you have zero evidence to support the idea that non-organic farming methods are helpful to anyone.  

        I'm not hostile to genetic engineering per se as it's not really that different from selective breeding if you do it carefully, but you don't seem to really want to do it carefully, do you?

        -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

        by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:44:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes she was (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Phoenix Woman

          in this diary:

          Bill to Mandate GMO Research for Africa/S. Asia Passes Unanimously

          She called for people to work against S.384, which would provide funds for agricultural research in the third world.  

          Please take action by writing your Senators about this bill (S.384) and asking that the vote against it when it comes before the full Senate.

          The bill's author denounced the false claims that activists were making:

          A small number of critics claim the bill would mandate that U.S. assistance be used to promote genetically modified (GM) agricultural technologies, and that U.S. food aid would be conditioned on recipient countries approving the use of GM products. These are gross misrepresentations that have no factual foundation.

          Let me be clear. The bill does not require the use of GM technology by any farmers, implementing partners or government agencies. It does not condition the receipt of food aid on a recipient country’s adoption of GM. The use of any technology must ultimately be left to individual farmers based on their particular circumstances.

          I'm sorry, I continue to think it is wrong to prevent funding of agricultural research in the third world.  

          I think standing in the way of science on false premises is wrong.  I'm all for using the appropriate tools for the appropriate situation.  In fact, most agricultural tools are not GMOs--only the activists are trying to make you think that.  

          Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

          by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 07:50:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I hate to get too down on (5+ / 0-)

      the use of pesticides, because they do have some good applications.  Controlling invasive species, for one.  That being said, we need to get away from industrial agriculture.

      •  Here in the northeast, most famers use integrated (4+ / 0-)

        pest management. They use the least toxic pesticide and only when insects are present and pose a threat to productivity. Cuts pesticide use substantially. Growing for direct market has an equally substantial impact. Growers selling direct use half as much pesticides as those who grow for wholesale.

        He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

        by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:23:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  From what I understand one of the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          the fan man

          big problems is just educating people about how much they should be using.  It involves some fairly basic math, but some people can't do it (or just aren't expected to).

          •  aside from that though (5+ / 0-)

            there's the basic problem that when you interrupt an ecosystem by killing off some of the organisms in it, you're no longer using ecology to grow food.

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:38:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (7+ / 0-)

              that's pretty much the definition of farming, right?

              you interrupt an ecosystem by killing off some of the organisms in it

              Farming is a dreadful assault on ecosystems.  The less land we can use to do it, the better.

              Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

              by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:43:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, so you're working on population reduction? (0+ / 0-)

                Zero Population Growth?  Education for women and mass use of contraception?

                'Cause THAT is the way to minimize land use for farming.

                -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:45:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have no kids (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Phoenix Woman

                  Do you?  

                  I'm all for raising the status of women. Guess what: keeping farmers in the third world from having access to appropriate technology does not keep women and children out of the fields.  

                  Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                  by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 07:51:38 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Not necessarily. For instance, this year we had (5+ / 0-)

              a bad blight outbreak. A farmer could spray fungicides repeatedly, harvest their crop and then reinoculate their soil with compost tea to reestablish a soil community. (I got that from the book you rec'd "Teaming with Microbes".)

              He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

              by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:48:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  blight came in on tomato plants..... (4+ / 0-)

                trucked in and spread by big box garden centers.  In combination with the wet growing season, gardeners and other growing tomatoes for the fresh market were devastated.  I had a good tomato year.

                My biggest problem with organic gardening as the solution to the world's food problems is the need to have so many farmers.  There is a lot of work to being organic, and many people don't want to be farmers.  We have mechanized farming because people don't like hot, dirty, backbreaking labor.  Africa would greatly benefit from green fertilizers, but also from chemical fertilizers- many of the soils are farmed out.  Chemical fertilizers do use more energy here, but planting green manures and rotating crops to regenerate soils will require animals to consume the fields of hay or alfalfa as well as harvesting.  Animals will yield manure.  Every time someone rails against modern agriculture, I keep wondering how much time they have spent on a farm or if they plan to take up farming.
                We had a nice blogger- I think his name was Farmer Chuck- who used to post here.  He was running a farm but struggling to make a go of it.  He had health problems and troubles making payments on the mortgage.  Farmers often are screwed by weather, crop failures, illnesses in livestock, and when they get sick, lack of health insurance plans.  Farmers have considerably shorter life spans.  Most successful farmers are quite intelligent- I think the math calculations are probably failures of the developing world rather than American farmers.

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:48:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  The ecosystem (7+ / 0-)

              I farm was designed to grow trees, not grass.  Although it does a good job of that as well, I have to commit the unnatural act of whacking down many tree seedlings every year.  That's all I do is fight what nature wants to do.

              Now I am not organic, but I could be.  All my livestock is grass-fed, I use no fertilizers on my fields except what the farm produces.  I certainly use no insecticides except to take care of my beset cow.  But that doesn't mean I don't have to fight nature.  If I didn't, blackberries would have taken over the place long ago.

              But even with this effort, some grasses do better than others.  I am getting an invasion of foxtail into one of my fields.  It causes injury to my livestock and my dogs because it is extremely sharp, is unpalatable for the livestock for most of the year, and takes over rapidly.  It cannot be eradicated by mowing.  

              But I would be really interested in hearing your suggestions for getting rid of the foxtail without chemicals OR tilling.  And before you get into your 'balance of nature' spiel, foxtail is attracted to moist areas, and a watercourse runs through that field.

              Better yet, come over, I'll give you a gardening fork, and you can try out your methods yourself.  Because I know you wouldn't be suggesting others do the hard labor to get the results you want without you being willing to do it yourself.

              •  Traditionally, find another plant (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jill Richardson

                which is edible and outcompetes foxtail.

                There may be one and it may not be terribly popular.

                Alternatively, find a different livestock which likes to eat foxtail.... that may be easier.

                If blackberries are the natural production of the farm (!), well, in many ways that's spectacularly great food, and even commands pretty good prices.  It doesn't seem to be that easy to make a go of a blackberry farm sadly.....

                So there seem to be a lot of structural permaculture vs. market questions coming up h ere.

                -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:48:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  wild blackberries don't produce much fruit..... (4+ / 0-)

                  and are invasive thorny plants.  

                  Yes, a thick turf will keep out the foxtail- but that isn't very compatible with harvesting food for people or animals.  There are a lot of structural economic questions for farming- a fertile area for game theory economics.  There is a reason organic farms are selling to organic companies- who have been mostly bought out by big food companies as wholely owned subsidiaries.  We need more people to really learn something about farming here before we try to solve some of these complex issues politically.

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:54:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Much" is relative.... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jill Richardson, indubitably

                    I always thought the wild blackberries around here produced really quite a lot of fruit.  If you could get to them through the thorns.  Before the deer did.  :-P  Leather clothes including gloves and frequent harvesting seemed to be minimum necessary.  But your points are well taken.

                    -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

                    by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:58:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  You're not a farmer are you? (0+ / 0-)

                  Foxtail isn't a particularly competitive plant which is fortunate, but its eradication can generally only occur as a result of regular tilling - something Jill claims is contrary to her 'good farming practices' unless you want to douse your field in Roundup (which incidentally I have NEVER used here). Alas the fact she reccd your comment, yet opposes tilling shows me exactly how little she knows about the true nature of the problems us 'real' farmers face.

                  Because of its shallow and fibrous root, tillage has been an appropriate management option to control the spread of foxtail barley. Unfortunately, foxtail barley has become a problem in conservation tillage systems where soil disturbance is reduced.

                  See here - http://www.farmandranchguide.com/...

                  I too have foxtail. You obviously have no idea what it is. No livestock will eat it. Its seed heads are breathed in by all livestock and mixes with regular pasture to be eaten. It is dangerous. It causes abcesses internally in the mouth, throat and trachea, and externally around the mouth and eyes. My sheep walk on it inadvertantly as it blows across my pasture and the seeds pierce and infect the tissue between their hooves. There is more to it than simply finding another plant which is 'edible and outcompetes' it, especially were I to utilize the methods Jill advocates.

                  It is eradicated by plowing under (yes, tilling), overseeding, light grazing and then plowing under again. It only thrives in a small window during the year which is when you plow under, yet Jill does not advocate tilling. I guess I'll just let it take over my farm and put me out of business then.

                  This is the problem with 'city farmers' telling those of us who live on farms what to do. Your intentions may be noble, but your knowledge in many cases is woefully lacking.

              •  THANK YOU! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mem from somerville, Mysteron

                That is all.

                I get a kick out of city dwellers who in all too many cases are growing food in soil they don't realize is jam-packed with lead and other charming substances (because they didn't bother to get it tested) telling folks who grew up on farms that they're doing it all wrong.

                Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

                by Phoenix Woman on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:24:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What I find sad in a diary like this (2+ / 0-)

                  is that there are plenty of people willing to tell me how I should be running my farm because I'm as evil as big business because I use RFID tags or I'm a CAFO, or I buy most of my vegetables because the labor intensity and man hours required to produce enough for my family would preclude me from being able to effeciently run my dairy. People who have never spent a day in their lives on a farm. People who have never woken at 3.00am when its 10 F outside and helped a ewe with a difficult lambing. People who look at a field and see grass, rather than a mixture of ryegrass, clover, fescue and alfalfa.

                  Yet these people know best. These people lauding the merits of growing organic who in turn are growing their vegetables in their back yards in lead contaminated soil full of cat and dog faeces or worse still in their front yards exposing them to the pollutants of the exhausts of thousands of vehicles that pass by daily.

                  Yep, and these people are trying to tell me how I should be running my farm? I hope you don't mind if I'm not listening.

          •  Well they have to take tests showing competency (6+ / 0-)

            in mixture calculations, exposure protocol, toxicity, disposal, etc.  

            There are still "calendar sprayers", guys who say "flea beetles always arrive by x date, I'll spray starting a week before", but that way of farming is all but gone around here. Farmers under contract to canners still have to use excessive pesticides. Truckloads of say, string beans, can be refused for minimal insect damage. That has to change.

            He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

            by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:42:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  here's a review and synopsis I did (7+ / 0-)

      of a book on GMOs I highly recommend you read. The author came out much more pro-GMOs than I am, but he took a very honest look at the issue and I think that he made several good points: Food Inc by Peter Pringle (it's not the same as the movie even though it has the same name)

      The privatization issue is very important in my opinion. He tells the full story of golden rice... it was done with foundation and public money entirely. Then in the end it turned out it violated a large number of patents from many private corporations. It wasn't initially easy but the scientists figured out a way to get the patents waived so they could sell golden rice in the 3rd world. Only problem there is that they used the wrong variety of rice to make it (they used a variety grown in temperate regions instead of the one grown in tropical regions). So it still wasn't ready to go really.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:03:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Highly recommended. (6+ / 0-)

    This might very well be the most important diary of 2009.

    I'm not exaggerating.

    "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

    by Benintn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:50:32 PM PST

  •  Looks Like I Picked a Bad Generation to Transfer (5+ / 0-)

    all society's major decision making power into powerful private hands.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 04:59:26 PM PST

    •  Which generation is that? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jill Richardson

      The whole trickle-down horseshit started in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The people in charge then were a mix of the WWII generation and boomers.

      Arguably, one could say the process started back in the WWII generation, as Eisenhower gave his Military-Industrial speech in 1960. Howard Jarvis was a WWII generation.

      The real evil occurred in the Wall Street Reagan Era, and it got worse as Boomers took on more and more power (Clinton, Gingrich, Bush II).

      It's hard to pin it on any one generation. The people who are in power are usually in their 40's-60's,  but the people who vote them into office are anywhere from 18-100.

  •  Is the Obama admin in tune with any of this? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jill Richardson, JayinPortland

    Just asking.

    Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:02:23 PM PST

  •  Great picture. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Jill Richardson

    Of the 2 polar bears on the ice-island.  It looks like Atlantis (from Spy Who Loved Me).  The island next to it also has a formation that looks like a puppy with its head up to see the polar bears.  This is all very incidental to what you're talking about but I already believe in doing something about climate change and growing food in a more natural manner.  Now I just look at the pictures, lol.

    "What's worth the price is always worth the fight." - Nickelback

    by rainmanjr on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:06:49 PM PST

  •  another problem will be (2+ / 0-)

    peak oil , industrial food is oil food and most of the world lives off of oil food. i live near a port and see supertankers of grain headed off to other countries and think, if it were not for oil those people eating that grain would starve, and the ship would be a giant pile of metal. oil food has also created slums in megacities where poor farmers driven off their farms by cheap oil food and western subsidies head into cities and squat on any land they can find , we are talking hundreds of millions of them. very sad.

    also i do not believe method #1 will sequester 40% of carbon .where is the proof.

    and U.S. or world has power to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees? we don't even really know what impact we are having and what the results will be. the carbon is already in the atmosphere.

  •  Ever Grown ALL Your Food Using Method #1? (16+ / 0-)

    I have.  My parents were part of that whole 'back to the land' movement of the 60s and 70s.  Moved to Montana, bought some land, built a house, and grew virtually all of our own food for the first 14 years or so of my life.  It wasn't a particularly bad life, and I appreciate it.  It's a major part of who I am today, and some of my best memories are of it.  

    But it wasn't exactly easy, and it wasn't something I can see scaling up to feed the whole world.  

    I also watched the big local farmers.  What's become traditional and normal in today's society, the sort of agriculture you're labeling method 2.  As well as the local Hutterites (communal, pacifistic, traditional German Christian sect, something like the Amish), who practiced something in between.

    It's really dishonest to present the two methods as somehow equivalent, just different in terms of their impact on climate and corporate profits.  Method 1 requires an immense amount of work, and feeds basically the people doing it and maybe a small handful of others.  

    Looking around today at the large local organic farms feeding more than just the household members, the places which do practice the kind of agriculture/permaculture you're talking about, the fact is that they require huge amounts of labor.  Many get by on help from local hobbyists, locavores, chefs, foodies, etc. who want to go play farmer for one day or one afternoon a week.  Others on student volunteers.  All of them live off the cash and labor and free time of people living and working outside of that system and firmly entrenched in the petroleum based one.  

    None of them produce enough food to feed any significant population.

    Overlooking the differences in labor required and how productive the two methods are is insane.  

    Method 1 simply cannot support human life on this planet without essentially upending the last millenium worth of human history, culture, technological and social advancement as we return everyone to an agrarian life.  It'd also require killing or letting billions die.

    There absolutely is a third way, as people like Stewart Brand and many of the others who were a part of that same movement as my parents.  Probably a fourth and fifth way as well.  

    Cities are efficient.  Transporting food in bulk is efficient.  GE crops can be good.  Heresies to some, but true, and better than the alternatives.

    The bottom line here is that both methods you're talking about as our only real choices absolutely will lead to catastrophe.  One indirectly due to climate change, the other by upending human civilization and killing billions.  Those pushing what you're pushing are essentially fantasists, imagining some sort of agrarian utopia without even the slightest thought or mention of what it'd actually entail for humanity.  

    •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)

      Best post on this entire thread.  

      Silence is the enemy - Green Day 4360+ dead - Bring them home

      by Miss Blue on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:40:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  growing ALL of your own food is difficult (6+ / 0-)

      but there's certainly a middle ground between 2000 acre megafarms and homesteading. Gardening and farming are a LOT of work. I envision small and midsized farms doing the job as much as possible with a much better distribution of where we grow foods (i.e. not growing 50% of our fruit in a desert in California) and with homeowners pitching in by gardening and owning chickens.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:41:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL! (5+ / 0-)

        Yeah, that will happen.

        You know, I read all of your diaries and all of the comments within.

        And I really don't know why I bother.  You lose me when you start the "bought and paid for" administration crap, the don't-eat-meat crap, and the above gardening and owning chickens crap.  

        Even if all of that is true, IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  EVER.  It is a fantasy, so how you can seriously project it as a possible solution just boggles the mind.

        You will never convince the majority of the human race to abstain from red meat.  You will never get anywhere near a majority of suburbanites or city dwellers to have a garden, much less raise a damn chicken.  And not only is there no evidence that this administration is in the pocket of big ag, our President doesn't even come from a state/background that would sway him into their pockets.

        You often make good points - could you try to not mix them up with your slanted opinions?  

        Silence is the enemy - Green Day 4360+ dead - Bring them home

        by Miss Blue on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:47:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not telling anyone to abstain from meat (4+ / 0-)

          I'm saying eat less.

          As for raising chickens, you'd be surprised how many urbanites are doing exactly that. I went to Portland this summer (where it's legal) and saw a bunch of chicken coops and even ducks in the city. Same in Madison. We're trying to change the laws where I live and there are several people in my city who want chickens. It's a growing trend. It's small now.

          As for whether it's fantasy, it may be. But we must at least strive towards the solution even if we'll never get there.

          I wrote a book! You should buy it!

          by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:59:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jill, (3+ / 0-)

            The point is that those things - raising chickens, gardening, substantially reducing meat consumption - are not going to happen to any measurable degree.  Most certainly not in our lifetimes.

            But my bigger point is that I don't want you to lose an audience.  It's because of you that I first became aware of some of these issues.  You have an outstanding ability to categorize the problems, the many problems we face with our food.  You explain the problems in easy-to-understand terms, and I really thank you for that.

            It's in the solution part where you have a tendency to lose me.  Some, like the few I listed, are not practical or doable on a broad enough scale to have any impact.  

            Please keep detailing the problems for us.  As that is the only way we can ever come up with a solution.  I'm certainly not smart enough, but we are surrounded with brilliance here, and I have read some very sensible first-steps in the comments of some of your diaries.  

            Silence is the enemy - Green Day 4360+ dead - Bring them home

            by Miss Blue on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:14:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Lol... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jill Richardson

          If you do -

          I read all of your diaries and all of the comments within.

          Then I truly have to question your reading comprehension capabilities.

          And not only is there no evidence that this administration is in the pocket of big ag, our President doesn't even come from a state/background that would sway him into their pockets.

          Lol, yeah.  Illinois knows nothing of corn and soy?

          Please, somebody hold me!!!

          :)

          You know, I can go into 5 or 6 other points as to where you're wrong in this comment, but I won't.  You're not worth the time, and...

          I really don't know why I [would] bother.

          LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

          by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:02:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Aren't you a ray of sunshine (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Phoenix Woman, CuriousBoston

            Or not.

            Yes, I can see how anyone could get the impression Barack Obama is an expert in agriculture.  Or even mildly interested.  Or, none of the above.

            You can save your friggen insults.  They do nothing for me and certainly aren't special, since you seem to be more than willing to throw them at any poster who doesn't whole-heartedly endorse everything in the diary.

            Whatever.  I read Jill's diaries, not yours, so I'm not interested in anything you have to say.  

            Silence is the enemy - Green Day 4360+ dead - Bring them home

            by Miss Blue on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:07:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  yes IL is soy and corn land (3+ / 0-)

            But to be honest, Obama wasn't in the US Senate long enough to be lobbied heavily by them. IL may be a big farming state, but the wealth and votes are in the northern half of the state which is non-agricultural.

          •  Care to detail your conflict of interest, (3+ / 0-)

            lavidaloco guy?

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            It is the aggressive, hostile fanaticism and artificial polarization of the lavidaloco folks that turns off many potential allies and prevents you from actually achieving effective change.

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

            by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:18:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, here goes! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              betson08

              Jill is my friend.  I write on her blog.

              I receive nothing for doing so, and I certainly have nothing to do with her book.

              Now, do you care to go any further into your "conflict of interest" conspiracy theory?

              Come on, tough guy.

              What's your deal?

              LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

              by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:21:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have a book! You should buy it! (0+ / 0-)

                Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:22:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And I'll ask, again... (0+ / 0-)

                  what does this have to do with me?

                  LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                  by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:24:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, and... (0+ / 0-)

                  no, you don't.

                  Because unlike Jill, you have absolutely nothing to say to anybody.

                  Jealousy burns, doesn't it Random?

                  :)

                  LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                  by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:38:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Jealousy"?? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    docstymie, CuriousBoston

                    If this is the kind of person being a locavore makes you, perhaps you should try some GMO beef.

                    Extremists and zealots are never helpful, whether they are on the Left or the Right. They are marked, more than anything else, by insular dogmatic beliefs and intolerance of nuance.

                    And, since the only way they can get their way is by force of revolution, they are not likely to get their way.

                    When the likes of you and "I have a book! You should buy it!" get off your high horses, stop demonizing everyone who respects the fact that issues like this are complex, and the solutions are unlikely to be simplistic, and, when you approach the problem from the humility of caring more about the end benefit to human beings than the purity of your cause, then progress is inevitable.

                    But, in all the years I've seen Jill shill her books and promote herself here, and in all the times I've tangled with the zealous nuts from that website, it has become clear that you are no more or less than the PETA of the food world.

                    You give people genuinely dedicated to improving health and wellbeing, increasing the proportion of locally raised food consumption, and responsibly seeking to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in our food supply, a bad name.

                    Just as PETA gives people genuinely concerned about the well- being and humane treatment of animals a bad name.

                    The fact that Jill shamelessly shills her products in her sig line, while bemoaning those who shamelessly shill their products, is ironic, but, to be honest, not really germaine. It's just irritating and further diminishes her credibility.

                    The real problem is that lavidalocavore are the PETA of the food world.

                    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:50:35 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Funny that... (0+ / 0-)

                      You type 1000 words in reply to me, qualifying yourself to me, which I don't even have to bother to read.

                      Keep up the jealousy though, dude.

                      It's really helping you!

                      LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using hybrid-powered bulldozers - BeyondDC

                      by JayinPortland on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:08:42 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  So sorry you have to write with your asshole. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JayinPortland

                  "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                  by madaprn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:57:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I lost my hands due to mutations (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Phoenix Woman

                    from eating GMO meat. I have to hold a pen in my mouth, asshole. Thanks for making fun of those of us disabled by the horrors of corporate farming.

                    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:02:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are too screwed up to know how you (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JayinPortland

                      lost all four sets of digits and limbs. You had a farming accident which left a bitter taste in your mouth, so bitter, in fact, that you could not use your mouth to hold a pen, thus sprung your ingenious practice of writing whilst clenching the cursor with your rectum.

                      "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                      by madaprn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:22:25 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I was run over by a zealous do-gooder (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Phoenix Woman

                        on their way to save the world by telling other people to work harder and have less.

                        Bruce Sterling calls them "hairshirt environmentalists".

                        Lavidalocavores are the PETA of the food world.

                        Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:34:45 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Too bad your settlement was in tofu. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Jill Richardson, JayinPortland

                          You may have lost all your limbs but you can still paint with very broad brushstrokes.

                          I would rather get my resveratrol from a glass of red wine, not a pill. Is that a PETA equivalency in your book? You can eat whatever the hell you can convey to your mouth.

                          "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                          by madaprn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:48:03 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  It's the voice of experience (3+ / 0-)

                            I've tried to discuss nuance with this crowd. Jill is their messiah, and can do no wrong. No citations required, no actual science needed. Anyone who questions anything about anything is a "shill" for "the ebul corporations".

                            Attempts to have responsible discussions about the best way to solve real world problems are irrelevant.

                            It's nice and easy when you already know all the answers, and when everyone else is the "bad guy".

                            It's sad, though, because it doesn't actually accomplish anything. And it's no more excusable when it comes on the Left than on the Right.

                            Jill, who conveniently created lavidalocavore a few months before her book was published, does violence to science. But, as long as she shills her book with every comment, and as long as the zealous nuts on that blog will vehemently attack anyone who dares question a single assertion of hers here, that doesn't matter.

                            There are plenty of reputable, rational proponents of buying local and eating local (which, in some cases is healthier than buying "organic" food from elsewhere, sold at a premium in the "natural" food stores.

                            There are plenty of reasonable people exploring ways to reduce the use of pesticides, and to combat corporate patenting of seeds.

                            There are plenty of reasonable people working hard to create technology that helps us do more with less impact on the planet.

                            I’m sorry, but Jill and her lavidalocavores are not among that crowd. They are like PETA, doing more harm than good to the cause of making life better for actual human beings.

                            And, I strongly suspect you may be one of them, so I expect you to continue to spew.

                            I've given up on substantive discussions with the lavidaloco crowd. They are just plain nuts.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:56:22 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Tell me what is reasonable or substantive about (0+ / 0-)

                            writing a sig line over and over again? That was the impetus for my initial comment. If you think that is "spewing" and you suspect I may be one of "them" you are displaying poor deductive reasoning.

                            "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                            by madaprn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:26:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I make no claim that it was either (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Phoenix Woman

                            reasonable or substantive.

                            In fact, I'm a little embarrassed every time I descend to the level of these fanatics and wallow in their mud holes. I should be better than that, but the sycophantic eagerness to take every word as gospel here, coupled with the teabagger-worthy venomous hostility by the entire loco crowd to anyone who tries to engage in constructive discussion, upsets me as much as the anti-vaccine/magical pseudomedicine crowd at Huffington Post.

                            But, you're absolutely right, it was neither reasonable nor substantive.

                            This diary isn't reasonable of substantive, either, but that doesn't justify me descending to the loco level.

                            Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -- Douglas Adams

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:49:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Dramatic Sigh (0+ / 0-)

                            "I am sooooo done with you"-Judy Jetson

                            "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

                            by madaprn on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:04:22 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  RAR (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RandomActsOfReason

                  do you realize how grossly immature you sound in these threads?

          •  it's obama's appointments (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayinPortland

            that shows how he feels about industrial ag. He is appointing people who are very pro-industrial ag and biotech specifically.

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:50:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Most suburbanites will take one look (3+ / 0-)

          at a week's worth of chicken poop and run crying for the hills.

        •  I think you're projecting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          I think YOU are unwilling to do these things, and you assume no one else is either.

          Societies change. People change.

          And, the Hindu population of India is vegetarian. That goes one of your arguments right there.

          You are too black and white on this, and seem very closed minded to me.

        •  On the chickens (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jill Richardson

          Given how many people have cats, dogs, heck snakes and ferrets and rats and parakeets, I really don't think it's such a stretch for people to have chickens. They're pretty. They make interesting pets. They come in small and large, quiet and noisy, fluffy and not, just like dogs. And, as the Backyard Chickens bumpersticker says, "My Pet Made Me Breakfast!" :-)

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:21:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Texas farmer meets a New York farmer in an (5+ / 0-)

        airport bar. They get to talking about their operations. Texas farmer says "It takes all day to drive from one end of my farm to the other." New York farmer says "Yeah I had a truck like that." 2000 acres sound like a lot, but it depends. I know great farmers tending over a thousand acres. Others I've seen ruin 20 acre farms. All depends.

        A mid-size vegetable farm nationally is 500-1000 acres.

        He who distinguishes the true savor of food can never be a glutton, he who does not cannot be otherwise. - Thoreau

        by the fan man on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:06:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  isn't raising chickens in dense urban environment (3+ / 0-)

        An invitation to bird flu and other avian viruses jumping to humans?

      •  You need to try it first (3+ / 0-)

        I'm serious.  Come out to my farm - even for a week - and try it.  And I'll even give you the easy jobs.

        I can't promise it won't be cold and wet though.

        And far from having a better distribution of where we grow foods (seeing as it is just a fact of nature that certain foods grow better in certain places), what is needed is a better system of lots where farmers can sell their organic foods at organic prices.  It currently doesn't exist.

        So, as a farmer, unless you market directly (which is beyond the time, let alone the ability of most farmers), you can raise your crop organically all you want, it's still going to go into the same pipeline as all other produce, and at the same price.

      •  Actually growing your own food is not that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman

        efficient as the house gets in the way of the field.

        The huge farms can grow much more food more efficiently.

    •  also I do see a need to have (3+ / 0-)

      many, many more farmers. In developing nations this isn't a problem because people there are already farmers. In this country I think we need a major shift. And if we don't do it, then we're stuck with the health and environmental problems we've got. I don't think that's a good alternative either. I'd prefer hard work to heart disease and diabetes, really.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 05:42:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  but larger farms are more efficient (0+ / 0-)

        There more efficient in the use of petroleum and just about everything else.

        We're not going back to small farms. I remember the trauma of the change in the 80's when so many family farms were lost. It was horrible.

        Now that we have large, consolidated farms, the pain is over and I'd rather not invite more of that kind of pain.

        •  Only up to a certain point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          betson08, Jill Richardson

          The efficiency gains of midsized farms are well-documented to be lost on very large farms due to the increase in sloppiness.

          Most of NY still runs on small family farms.  But many of them aren't that small.

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:50:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I've got a few complaints with that (0+ / 0-)

          first, on farms that require capital and not labor (like those in the midwest growing corn/soy), we end up with unhealthy processed foods from them. On the large fruit/veg farms, you have a problem with low wage labor and human rights problems. And overall, you have a breakdown of community in areas where everyone has an enorous farm (from what I've seen at least). The population density gets to be so low that kids get bused far to school and people have to drive far to get to a grocery store and there are empty towns with boarded up businesses. I think all of that needs to change. As for efficiency, I think the proof is in the pudding there. We grow a lot of food very cheaply and it results in very expensive medical problems. That isn't worth it. We need a system that grows healthy food.

          I wrote a book! You should buy it!

          by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:00:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  OK, come work on (3+ / 0-)

        my farm and then write about the experience.

        I'd even pay you.

        •  And we're going to have these next week (4+ / 0-)

          Photobucket

          Along with my CAFO operation:
          Photobucket

          I don't know how you can resist.

          •  You know (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            betson08, neroden, 4Freedom

            I don't often use the term CAFO because I know from you that some good farms get included in the definition.

            And I would love to try working on your farm but I can tell you already that I am a wimp. I don't need to go prove it. I have tried working on a fruit/veg organic farm and I barely lasted 2 days. It was 100+ degree heat in the CA desert and I was weeding onions and ripped up my hands and fingernails something awful. But I am starting a garden here at home with my boyfriend. I've got a diary coming about it (it's written w/ pics but we stopped before planting the seeds bc we wanted to include the kids when we did that, and one came down w/ stomach flu) that I will post on my blog. So I AM doing what I can to familiarize myself with the work required to produce food.

            I wrote a book! You should buy it!

            by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:58:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Baaaa! (0+ / 0-)

            Dang, those are cute.  Meat, wool, or both?

            Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

            by Phoenix Woman on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 08:47:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed, most thoughtful comment yet (7+ / 0-)

      You found the hole in the ivory tower agricultural-paradise fantasy: labor.

      There's a reason why slavery was something the South went to war to defend in 1800's. There's also a reason why rural families in the North and West in those days consisted of 5, 7, 10, 15 kids. The more kids you had, the more free workers you had (unless you lived in a slaveholding state before the Civil War).

      Nowadays, our agricultural slaves are made of iron and eat petroleum. Farm equipment does the work of dozens of men. It also ruins the Earth, clogs the stratosphere with CO2, melts icecaps, and raises ocean levels.

      One thing for sure, if we "went back to the land" and returned to organic subsistence farming, the unemployment rate would drop to zero pretty damn quick.

      What would suck, would be the end of civilization, "white collar" work, and narrow specialties. Then again, the end of hundreds of thousands of people "employed" as risk arbitragers, marketers of useless consumer products, Credit Default Swap traders, and other "innovators", would be a distinct improvement to the human race.

      All that said, I don't put much faith in Stewart Brand; his Ayn Rand fandom occasionally seeps into his thinking on various things.

      I think the reality of tomorrow is going to be a strange new hybrid of new technologies and old, tried-and-true, natural techniques. We'll have to pick the best of both, and combine them in new ways.

      We do have to get "back to the land". But we can't do it in the same way it was done 100 years ago; that time is long gone and there's no going back.

      But neither can we continue on as we have been doing: raping the Earth so that we can "employ" people with "jobs" like creating websites like pets.com (my favorite example from 10 years ago).

      My point being: physical work is going to be more a part of our lives in the future than it has in the recent past, for sure.

      •  To avoid physical work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        goatchowder

        I strongly advise that we use solar, wind, and hydropower.

        There's been a lot of development on it since ancient times.  But unlike the middle ages, we no longer have a landscape dotted with windmills and waterwheels; and we have relatively few greenhouses or "vegetable cases".  Nowadays said windmill could provide power for much more than it could back in the days when the power could only be transmitted mechanically.

        -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

        by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:14:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I recommend Dmitry Orlov (0+ / 0-)

          His book "Reinventing Collapse", in particular, and his blog.

          We'll just need to make practical use of the best technologies available-- past, present, and future.

          For example, why the fuck do people have lawns?? That's a huge waste of land and water. Vegetables and small animals should be growing on that.

          Stepping back a bit further, why do we have suburbs at all? People should live in cities and small towns surrounded by arable farmland.

          Every damn roof should have a solar panel on it, particularly in the Southwest. Sheesh.

          Every river should have wheels collecting energy, and windmills should be on every coast, plain, and mountain pass.

          Trains and trolleys should be everywhere that highways are now.

          We'll get there, little by little. Simple steps can be encouraged by things like carbon taxes, and subsidies for buying new technologies and R&D.

          And just by people being awake.

          You don't have to abandon modern society and go live in a commune in the woods. That's silly romantic extremeism. There are practical steps that all of us can take right now in whatever lifestyle or place we're living. And we'd better start doing it now.

    •  I am farming using method #1 (10+ / 0-)

      and I agree, it is backbreaking work, and certainly almost impossible to feed yourself with.  I did not put in a vegetable garden this year, because it was too much work for my husband and I.  People here do not appreciate how much effort went into moving 12 bales of straw from the storage barn to the lambing barn today.  In the cold and the rain and the mud.

      I do not think most people who want a 'natural' food product are willing to put in the effort required to provide themselves with such food.

      The ONLY reason I am profitable (and lawdy knows only ONE person on Kos ever asked me about the handful of all-natural lambs I sell a year because it doesn't face them in a supermarket, and therefore is inconvenient - so a lot of you all full of it), is because I am actually a sheep dairy, and sheep's milk fetches a real premium, and because it can be frozen, distribution is a lot easier.  And I'm one of a handful of producers in the country.

      If Jill wanted to really encourage the use of organic practices, she would help fund organic sale lots around the country.  Right now, there is one place in my county that buys finished livestock.  And he could not give two shits whether my sheep are grass-fed, organic, or anything else.  It's the same price.  It's even worse for agricultural produce.

      Organic growers have an extremely limited market. So if you want it to be widespread, you have to improve the distribution model.  Which now seems to consist of a couple of hundred web sites that no one uses.

      •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose

        great comment. I think you're totally right on. I found those sorts of problems w/ distribution when I visited farms in Iowa this past fall. those who were trying to do things in a better way practically couldn't. They often had no choices because the entire system was set up for ONLY GMO, conventional corn and soy and nothing else. And the need or more places to sell organic livestock is totally a problem that needs to be addressed. It's really sad that around here, if you want to have a restaurant serving local, organic meat, it's barely legal.

        I wrote a book! You should buy it!

        by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:04:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I live in a city (0+ / 0-)

      and there are plenty of farmer's markets where you can buy method 1 food.

      "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

      by theran on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:48:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We need an Edison approach. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cheflovesbeer

      There are thousands of way to try to invent a light bulb (or feed the world), we need a willingness to keep on trying them all.

      Or as Rumi said "There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground".

      There is a way to farm responsibly with respect to the land and people we feed and keep scientists and corporations happy and profitible at the same time.

      No one has come up with it yet.

      What is called for here is a massive brainstorm session. I always suggest to my clients that if they drink, to have a bottle of wine before they begin the brainstorming process.

      What is the drink of choice in Copenhagen?

      I don't drink, and my one idea is not new, but I would think we start by becoming Vegans.

      A Home Depot gift card - the new fruit cake.

      by ZenTrainer on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:58:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Akvavit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shpilk, murrayewv, ZenTrainer

        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

        by mem from somerville on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:11:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Skål! n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mem from somerville, murrayewv

          A Home Depot gift card - the new fruit cake.

          by ZenTrainer on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:34:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Skal - I lack the nifty sigel over the "a" means (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ZenTrainer

            skull, literally.

            The ancient Vikings used to chop off the heads of their victims, scoop their brains out, and pour in the mead. Hence, "Skal", or "skull" is a victory toast.

            Skal.

            My brain feels a little broasted after this thread. Jill, you attract them like bees to honey, or flies to the other.

            People, this is your life. If you didn't learn that you are what you eat from your hippie forebears, or during your own personal renaissance, please understand that Jill is attempting to save lives here.

            Having rid myself of some rather serious ailments like asthma and allergies by upgrading my food intake to mostly organic, I'm a believer in the message Jill always tries to share about food and food production.

            Her treatise on school lunches alone, if you haven't read her book, is worth the cover price. It's very thought-provoking.

            These bankers should be shown for what they really are to the public: vulgar robbers, thieves in ties, pickpockets and obstinate kleptomaniacs. Hugo Chavez

            by 4Freedom on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:45:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Windmills! Waterwheels! (0+ / 0-)

      Why be petroleum-based?  Why use all human power?

      Technological improvement is great, it's just not all of it is actually improvement.  Consider the contrast between feeding all animals on an industrial farm with small amounts of antibiotics because they "get bigger faster", and feeding sick animals therapeutic doses of antibiotics.

      Consider as someone else said the difference between rampant spraing and using limited quick-decay pesticides locally against a blight.

      Also, someone needs to invent an automated electric weeder.  That would be the greatest development for farming ever.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:06:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It takes a lot of energy to plow and harvest.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mem from somerville

        and when the crop comes in, you can't be back at the barn plugging in the tractor.  Those babies run 12 hours or more- they have lights and sometimes run all night to get products in that would get lost in the rain or snow.  What if you can genetically engineer pest resistance into a plant- like the virus resistant papayas or plum trees?  Some of these plants never even make a protein- just an RNA molecule to provide resistance.  Boycotting all GMOs without considering the biological risk seems so ignorant of biology to me.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:12:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I don't boycott GMOs (0+ / 0-)

          I'm just not very fond of the worst of the stuff being produced by industrial ag, or the way it's being dealt with.  Making corn which is resistant to pesticides (!) is not an improvement.  There's simply insufficient regulation of GMOs.

          It's really toxic pesticides and fertilizers which are causing the envrionmental disaster.  But there is a problem with GMOs, and it's simple to explain.

          GMOs could provide many of the same benefits of selective breeding.  Or they could provide many of the same disasters as invasive species introduction.  That's why they need to be regulated carefully.  Which they aren't.

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:18:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We need a food policy (3+ / 0-)

    I know with everything else on the administration plate, adding food policy is difficult. but we need to resolarize the farm.

    ...a recent article by Michael Pollan in the NY Times really  opened our eyes to the serious and the extent of the problem .  Pollan tells the President Elect that Food Policy will be a major issue in the coming years.

    First he lays the case for how bad the current situation is:

    After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study.

    In 1940 the farm system in the U.S. produced 2.3 calories of food  for every calorie if fossil fuel used.  Today,  it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of modern supermarket food.

  •  "Scientists found"? Which ones? Where? Link? (9+ / 0-)

    I generally consider any article which has words like "scientists say", "research shows", or, worse, "science says", to be suspect.

    Like, include a link to it? Which scientists? Where? What studies do you mean exactly? What was their methodology? What was the study?

    That said, I suspect you're probably right. Oil-based petrofertilization just can't be good for the environment.

    But, I'm starting to get annoyed by arguments that aren't backed up with facts.

    •  sources (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      goatchowder

      Most of what I said comes directly from the Rodale Institute and their Farm Systems Trial. The rest comes from a study by Catherine Badgely at University of Michigan. I would give you the names of the studies but they are on my other computer. The Badgely study was the one that found that we can feed the world on organic and that productivity would go UP if we switched the entire developing world to organic. Pretty much everything else comes from Rodale.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:08:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        This seems to be the methodology according to her website:

        ...they multiplied the current farm land area by the average amount of nitrogen available for production crops if so-called "green manures" were planted between growing seasons. Green manures are cover crops which are plowed into the soil to provide natural soil amendments. They found that planting green manures between growing seasons provided enough nitrogen to replace synthetic fertilizers.

        What's not clear is how they calculated the available land that this requires, versus how much is actually available to these farmers to farm. If so, I could see that requiring land reform on a fairly massive, almost revolutionary scale-- I'm not sure if the political realities were factored in, and aren't mentioned in the press release. I suppose there are a few unstated assumptions here, but the study itself looks like it's behind a paywall.

        Anyway, thanks for the link.

        •  It's a theoretical modeling paper (0+ / 0-)

          From what used to be called the Journal of Alternative Agriculture.

          Now, down below we've heard from a farmer that can't use that technique because he doesn't have the rain for it.  But I'm sure they got all the other situations right...

          Jill has one answer for all farms: Rodale.  And it's true because a theoretical modeling paper said so.  

          Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

          by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 06:00:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I had been advocating soil carbon sequestration (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, indubitably

    as a potential major player in reducing the climate crisis until someone on dailykos told me that the studies mostly didn't look at effects below relatively shallow soil.  He said that the amounts of additional carbon that can be stored by better farming methods was overestimated.  Unfortunately, when I looked into this, it seemed that he was correct.

    There are still real advantages to better soil carbon management on farms, but this diary overstates them.  However, it seems that managing forests better can help a lot, and it's essential that we stop the world destruction of forrest land and jungles.

    One additional thing that we can do in conjunction with better farming practices is to compost all food waste and any grass, leaf and other vegetable waste that might otherwise go to landfills.

    I've been studying this for a project that I'm working on locally, and it turns out that food waste in landfills emits huge amounts of methane.  Since methane is a more potent greenhouse gas by about a factor of 23 than is CO2, the CO2 emission equivalent from one ton of dry food waste is about 12 tons!  With composting done well, the emission is nearly zero.

    Since not all of the methane gets out of the landfills, and it isn't produced quickly, the net effect of composting food waste is equivalent to about 6 tons of CO2 avoided per ton of dried food waste.  This is huge.

    Additionally, if the compost is used on farms, we get many of the advantages there that are suggested in the diary.

    Basically, if nearly all food waste was composted, we would reduce problems with the area needed for landfills while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emission, and we could improve soils at the same time.  It's also relatively easy to do.  I've been using on-line publications by Sally Brown and others plus my own experimentation as a guide.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:23:23 PM PST

    •  bad composting is just field waste..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, indubitably

      and spreads weeds and disease back to the crops.  Good composting generating heat and kills a lot of pests.  We don't even do a good job composting yard waste most places- composting food waste by hauling it to a compost site and then hauling it to fields will use a lot of energy.  Better to get composting to happen in urban and suburban areas just to reduce the burden.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:17:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The city where I used to live (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, LookingUp, Jill Richardson

        gave out free compost bins to any resident who would come take their composting course. The intent was to divert more trash out of precious and declining landfill capacity. Between composting and recycling, we now have very little actual trash any more.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:39:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Many landfills burn the methane for power (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jill Richardson, indubitably

      Which mitigates some of the problems you describe.

      Composting well is hard, unfortunately.  I think it would require neighborhood centers with a manager to get everyone using it properly.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:20:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we've managed to compost well prety easily (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LookingUp

        although I had the benefit of having a sustainable farmer friend who gave me some advice when we ran into problems.

        I wrote a book! You should buy it!

        by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:09:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've had little trouble composting and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indubitably

        getting good soil that started from very warm moist wormy material with no oder.  With some good advise, which is readily available, and a little care it isn't hard to do.

        With this and recycling, we have little trash.

        My group is working to get composting done at local schools now, and we're advising them as to how to do it well.  Some may opt to have it done for them by a local business that is experienced at doing it well.

        It's odd that in this group that there would be so much negativity about a well-documented process that could easily be one of the more important ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  What ever happened to "Yes we can!"

        To put it simply, composting food waste will not by itself solve the climate crisis, but so much methane is now produced by food waste that it seems unlikely that we can avoid the worst of climate change without it.

        As to landfill capture of methane, there are claims of recovering 75% of it, but on-site measurements show that they only get 25%.  Composting near the sources avoids nearly 100% when done properly and reduces other landfill problems.

        "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

        by LookingUp on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 06:41:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think this dairy could use more numbers (7+ / 0-)

    Exactly how much will production here in America decline? Where will farming output increase by 80%? What are they doing now instead? How big is our world wide food surplus? Will we be able to keep pace with rising population? How about loss of farmland due to climate change?

    It is true that we have a wealth distribution problem, that helps lead to hunger despite adequate production. That is really unrelated to the question of whether we can produce enough food through these techniques.

    My suspicion is that some combination of current methods, organic methods and new techniques will prove best.

    •  numbers and such (0+ / 0-)

      I believe that organic yield in the U.S. and other developed nations would be 92% of conventional. For the 80% increase, we're talking about developing nations (Africa, for example) where they hardly use industrial inputs now. I believe I read that this could feed up to 11 billion people. I don't think it addressed loss of farmland due to climate change and that's a serious problem, although in addition we should be addressing the global land grab in Africa. At the same time that climate change is taking away arable farmland from Africa, other countries are coming in and buying up what's left, making the impending disaster even worse.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:11:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Food, water and energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jill Richardson

    are the three things we need to worry about the most, health care and everything else won't matter much without these three things.

  •  When i saw your siggy, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jill Richardson

    i thought you were someone else and almost didn't rec'd the diary but it is a good diary, thanks.

    With no definite future & no purpose other then to prevail somehow - The Mermen

    by blueoregon on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 06:51:46 PM PST

  •  Farmers use industrial methods because it (0+ / 0-)

    increases yield.  

    And the reason hunger is rising is because population is rising.  Rising hunger does not show that industrial methods don't work to feed more people.

    I am all for organics but industrial methods do produce alot of food.

    •  It increases yield in the short term (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jill Richardson

      but over the longer term, it's not so clear that that's so. It depletes the soil, and in some cases depletes and salinifies the water table. It also requires inputs that have historically been inexpensive, but may not be so over the future, such as fuel and petroleum based fertilizer.

      When diesel was pushing $5 a gallon, UC Davis was getting a lot of interest in cover crops and green manures instead of bringing in chemical fertilizer.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:43:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  At Least We Can All Agree This Guy Is Disgusting (0+ / 0-)

     title=

    Likes to play with his food so bubbly lettuce is grown specially for him.  

    Other horrid critters in zoos, some well on their way to extinction, will have special foods grown for them - ready for this? - hydroponically.

    People, awful people, will perhaps have food grown for them in abundance cheaply where little food grows now - in cities - if things work out.  That could keep people, mostly infants and small children, from starving and further burden the planet that belongs to us middle class people that can afford the best.

    There will be no fresh air and super healthy exercise for workers in a controlled environment.  No pesticides and herbicides to enrich their diet and test their immune systems.  No survival of the fittest. No heat and rain.  Makes one sick.

    No need to cut down trees for spacious pastures.  Deer and antelope will be forced to play more in wild forests.

    Little water, little land, recycled nutrients - just horrible.

    No warming of the planet, no feeding of the streams and lakes and oceans with nutrients - oh it's all too awful to contemplate.

    The economics may not work out.  Pray for that so we can keep organic farmers doing their thing to the planet.

    ["Disgusting" resides at the Paignton Zoo in England where this inhuman experiment is being conducted.]

    Science - bah, humbug!

    Best,  Terry

  •  Plus adding a net 75,000,000 folks to planet/year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, neroden, penguinsong

    Yep - go look it up. In fact it is now thought we actually added 90,000,000 net to the planet just last year.

    Whoo HOO!

    Eventually ya got what one might call a food shortage. Has not happened yet - at least not so much as your neighbors are starving (or even know it is coming)(guess it easier to text all day and play video games that worry bout dat)(right?) though it is.

    When? - can't predict.
    Certain? - for sure. How could it not be?

    I always say one must prepare mentally for a different reality (in this incarnation). It's going to be rather interesting the rest of the way out. I'm in my 50th year and sad (actually distraught) to know that we've destroyed Africa in my lifetime. China most likely before I croak.

    By 2100 it will be "World Resources? What Resources?" let alone those we call food. Well that's if there is a 2100. My personal thought is Mother Nature might just have to take us out before that.

    And that is my 2 cents - now back to Planet User'R UP Baby!

    Super Size it Please...

    Hell - go ahead > have 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Kids Ok > Who Cares?

    ObamaNation 2009! We Did It! ---- Elected > Rebecca Kaplan - Oakland City Council-At Large Seat -----2010 Oakland Mayor & CA-Governor - Undecided

    by AustinSF on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:11:27 PM PST

    •  That is the truth that no one will address. nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:35:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1 billion people going to bed hungry..... (0+ / 0-)

        and we export 1/3 of our food.  We need to export better farming techniques.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:19:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need to stop having less babies nt (0+ / 0-)

          "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

          by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:45:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's start having less babies nt (0+ / 0-)

            And that goes for every color, race, creed, and nation.

            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

            by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:45:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  or just starve them..... (0+ / 0-)

              and then parents will just keep having bigger families so some survive.  The world as a whole need  food security and better health and sanitation. Our problems are minor compared with those of Indonesia or Nepal or anyplace in Africa.  

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:49:20 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I keep asking for the proof that big agro busines (0+ / 0-)

                s is going to save these people. All I hear is crickets. Or more talk about how we are starving them.

                Have you looked around the US lately? WE ARE NOT THAT HEALTHY!!! Maybe that has something to do with the bullshit processed food that we eat.

                "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

                by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:56:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I said...... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mem from somerville

                  The world as a whole need  food security and better health and sanitation. Our problems are minor compared with those of Indonesia or Nepal or anyplace in Africa.  

                  Big agrobusiness won't save these people around the world like big Pharma won't  give them a cure for Malaria.  The Danforth Foundation and the Gates Foundation and a bunch of others will spend more money and have higher impact, with things like measles vaccines and appropriate advances in agriculture using high tech science.  Unfortunately, folks here are often opposed to genetics and recombinant DNA as a solution out of some sort of principle.  They resent it being foisted on themselves and they can afford to opt out with organic agriculture, currently about 0.8% of the world's agriculture.  But they are purists and want to avoid exporting this technology to the world.  

                  Wake up.  People in China and India use pesticides and herbicides too.  Plants that resist the herbicides and eliminate the need for chemical pesticides are useful.  But disease resistance and drought and flood resistant plants are better.  

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 06:24:39 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

                  I keep forgetting that you have been only told about Monsanto.  You aren't aware of all the science going on.

                  Murray's exactly right on the other groups doing this work.  Unfortunately, because so many people have been brainwashed that GMO=Monsanto they can't get past that to look at the science, or evaluate the strategies based on their merit instead of "big agro" fears.

                  Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                  by mem from somerville on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 10:31:27 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Nitrous oxide is 310 times more potent than CO2. (4+ / 0-)

    The primary source of N2O: runoff from industrial agricultural fertilizers.

    Legalized corruption is destroying our democracy.

    by geodemographics on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 07:14:04 PM PST

  •  I did buy it (4+ / 0-)

    and passed it on to my grandaughter who is a budding environmentalist interested in food, and it's affects personally and politically. Great book. Great work debunking the myths that many hold about feeding the world and the necessity of using Big Ags scorch and burn approach. Even in my small plot climate change is reeking havoc. It is all hooked together and adding more fuel to the fire by turning over our food to big ag is not the answer.  

  •  Wonder what you think about someone like me? (7+ / 0-)

    I've been dryland farming in eastern Nebraska for 35 years. I grow about 700 acres of crops-- wheat, corn, soybeans, milo (sorghum) and I hay some prairie and alfalfa. The wheat, milo and  alfalfa are non-gmo but I use the gmo technology for corn and beans.

    My farm has been no-till for 15 years and I've utilized gov't programs for costshare  to install waterways, terraces and tiling on my  ground to save the topsoil. Soil samples are taken every year and I follow the recommendations for fertilizer to prevent the groundwater from being polluted. My fields have minimal runoff due to good cover and I don't send many nutrients down to the Gulf. Soil organic matter tests show an increase from 1.5-6% to an average of 3% over those years and there are an abundance of earthworms.

    My wife and I also have a large garden of mostly heirloom veggies and a small orchard, both organic although not certified. We sell at local farmers markets in season and trade for local meat. At least half the year we're total locavores.

    For my gmo stuff I'm forced to deal with the big three--Syngenta, Dupont and Monsanto.

    I'm basically a DFH and a socilist at heart. People around my neck of the woods think I'm far to the left.

    Would I pass your purity test using both methods 1 and 2?

    •  Why do you use GMO corn and beans? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, dirtfarmer

      I am not questioning motives or anything, I just want to know why you have chosen them.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:32:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A couple of reasons.. (5+ / 0-)

        Topsoil in my area is generally thin, only  three or four feet. When I was a kid two inches at a time was a big rain. Now we seem to get 100 year rains-- 5-7 inches at a time every couple of years.

        The crops I listed are the rotation I do, the wheat and milo are generally thick and fast growing enough to outcompete the weeds, the corn and beans not so much. Without the gmos I'd need to do a lot of tillage to defeat the weeds. That would defeat the purpose of no-till, which is to build soil structure and sequester carbon. My soil tests are telling me that the carbon content of my soil is increasing. It wasn't when I was doing constant tillage. The other reason is tillage loosens the soil and increases erosion. It's sad to see the soil heading south. Takes a long time to build a few inches of topsoil as you know.

        Admittedly, it's a compromise. I'm willing to listen to any intelligent suggestions. Meanwhile, it's on me to keep the dirt here.

        •  appreciate the soil conservation..... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, dirtfarmer

          folks here forget the dust bowl was from plowing not just drought.  

          How are your crop yields on soy and corn with the GMO?  Same as or better or worse than non GMO?

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:24:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mostly, not always, corn yields are better.. (0+ / 0-)

            with gmo. Bean yields are almost always slightly worse with gmo, 2 or 3 bushels/acre. Sorry for the short reply....bedtime for me.

            •  thanks for real data..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirtfarmer

              my sense of the data I have read jives with what you report- that yields vs. costs.  If costs less to grow the soybeans because of less tillage- and hence less effort and fuel.  There is a little more cost for herbicide, but compared with the effort, farmers prefer that expense.  And the maize (and cotton) depend on the pest burdern.  The Bt corn just is stronger because of less stalk damage- stays upright better.  Seems to have less aflatoxin in some cases.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 01:22:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm, now *what* GMOs are you using? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ranger995, dirtfarmer

          The real question is how they're defeating the weeds.  It's environmentally sound (and stable) to have food plants on the farm which outcompete the weeds (provided you allow the weeds to grow somewhere else in the world :-) ).  

          If they're simply engineered to grow faster or outcompete on nutrients, great!  On the other hand if they're only outcompeting because they're herbicide-resistant and you're spraying herbicides... you have a problem because none of the existing herbicides are good at all.  Could search for a truly eco-friendly herbicide (but you're not a biochemist, and I'm pretty sure none have been invented yet).

          Perhaps search for a cover crop or undergrowth crop which would deter the weeds without troubling the corn and beans much.... or search for a native insect or other animal which preferentially eats the weeds for you, but doesn't eat the food crops or otherwise upset the ecosystem....

          Well, you've probably tried the research on both of those and come up empty but since you were willing to listen to suggestions, I figured I'd throw 'em out there in case you hadn't.

          -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

          by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:27:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, you sound to me like a person who is (4+ / 0-)

          like most of the farmers I know. Very intelligent and informed about their land and crops. Who has had to make tough decisions, and made reasoned ones.

          I would not pretend to be able to make BS suggestions to you, you know a lot more about it than I do.

          One thing I have noticed here is that the farmers here use what is called a milpa. They plant Corn and Beans (black beans) in the same fields. Sometimes, they also plant squash between the rows. The beans and the corn seem to compliment each other greatly as one's waste is another's nutrient. In this case, the crops outpace the weeds. This is probably far too labor intensive for a cash crop, but it is amazing to me how productive these small fields are. Most of them are plowed by Oxen.

          As an archaeologist, I am well aware of how long it takes for soil to build. I have had to study it ad nauseum.

          Thanks for the response, I like to learn about these things from the people who are actually working the land. I have a tremendous amount of respect for campesinos/farmers.

          "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

          by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:37:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indigenous people knew abou the Three Sisters: (3+ / 0-)

            corn, beans and squash, and grew them together.

            These bankers should be shown for what they really are to the public: vulgar robbers, thieves in ties, pickpockets and obstinate kleptomaniacs. Hugo Chavez

            by 4Freedom on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:00:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I used to travel to Mexico, ranger. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, ranger995, Jill Richardson

            When I was younger and less encumbered by shit, I'd hop in my little Toyota pickup and head south for the winter. I gained a tourist's perspective on the wonders of the Mayan culture. Palenque ca. 1980 was wonderful.

            I was blown away by the mountain valleys of huge hand planted and harvested corn fields with the processing plant for tortillas and meal in the same town. I stand in awe of what so-called primitive agriculture can produce. Haven't been back for a long time, imagine NAFTA has destroyed most of that.

            Good talking to you.

            •  Well, there is a real resistance to NAFTA in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirtfarmer

              the southern part of Mexico. The Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, and other peoples down here are very proud of and protective of their traditions, but it is making its effect on all sorts of products slowly but surely.

              Nice talking to you too, and good luck.

              "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

              by ranger995 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:15:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  like I said above (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirtfarmer

          I'm sure you know more about farming than I do. No doubt about that. But here's the one thing that comes to mind. Rodale plants a cover crop prior to planting corn/soy. Then they kill the cover crop at the same time they plant their corn/soy (they have a thing called a roller crimper they attach to their tractor to do this) and leave it on the field as a mulch to surpress weeds. It works for them, and I know they'd be happy to talk to you about it. I don't know if it would work for you but it's worth taking a look at the idea perhaps. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch w/ someone from Rodale.

          I wrote a book! You should buy it!

          by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:18:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for responding. (0+ / 0-)

            I've read about what Rodale is doing with a cover crop and roller crimper. In my area the limiting factor on yields is almost always rainfall--we only average 25 inches/yr. here so the cover crop might use enough water to ruin yields.

            But I sowed a couple of acres of winter rye after fall harvest, intending to try the system on a small scale. As luck would have it October was wet and rainy and harvest drug on well into November which was unusually warm and windy. By the time I sowed the winter rye the topsoil had dried out too much to sprout the rye. Now it's bitterly cold and we're buried in snow so I'll have to wait 'till spring to see if the rye sprouts and grows enough to provide a good cover.

            I'll probably just use my little shredder to destroy the rye since the roller crimper is a substantial investment for me.

            I'm eager to see if this is a workable system in my limited rainfall area.

            Your diaries are excellent and your understanding of agricultural issues probably puts mine to shame.

    •  Well, I'd suggest (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranger995, dirtfarmer

      doing a carbon analysis of your fertilized soil.  It's actually not clear whether you're getting net carbon emissions or net carbon sequestration, but you could probably figure it out with some details on the fertilizer and possibly more specific soil testing.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 08:55:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirtfarmer

      honestly... I'm not the world's greatest expert and I'm sure you know much more than me. My goal is to learn what I can from farmers (like you) and scientists and others and then pass that along in an easy to understand way to the 98% of the U.S. population that doesn't know where their food comes from.

      It sounds like you are trying pretty damn hard to do good things on your farm, and that's wonderful.

      I wrote a book! You should buy it!

      by Jill Richardson on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 11:16:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent discussion ... (5+ / 0-)

    Might I suggest a discussion of bio-char/agro-char, which is (somewhat) related and boosts that sequestering number (significantly).

  •  There's a letter in this week's Economist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    critical of a "Monsanto is our friend" story they ran earlier, pointing out that the problems in Africa aren't inadequate seed, but rather inadequate roads, difficulty in accessing markets, lack of credit, and issues with political instability. He mentioned the work of the Rodale Institute and discussed how organic agriculture was a very good fit for the conditions in Africa. It was signed by Richard Rominger, deputy secretary of agriculture under the Clinton administration. Can we get him in the Obama Administration?

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 09:34:44 PM PST

  •  An illustration for this diary (0+ / 0-)

    From the redoubtable Sherffius of the Boulder Daily Camera.

  •  It's like the Grand Unified Theory (0+ / 0-)

    of agriculture, politics, and economics — great post!

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 10:59:18 PM PST

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