Everyone has their own way of dealing with the close of one year and the start of another. For me, the end of December signals the beginning of crunch-time, work wise and so, in these last few days of the year, I try to take some time out to reflect on matters that are important to me. After all, come January I will be a slave to my job with little time to ponder the bigger and perhaps more important issues in life.
If you read my article a few days ago (What is an Activist? One Woman’s View), you will have learned that in my view, everyone that embarks upon the self-reliance journey is an activist. The qualities of an activist as I have described them are not only necessary to change the world, per se, but also to affect change within our own personal life and sphere of influence.
And so, as I continue to ponder, I share with you some thoughts on the coming year as it relates to our health and the food supply. A bit of background: unless you have been hiding in a cocoon, you have undoubtedly heard about the preponderance of mutated seeds (more typically referred to as “genetically modified”) that are being used to grow the next generation of crops – crops to feed America as well as the rest of the world. These same mutated crops have been fed to animals for quite some time and that, along with toxic pesticides, represent a problem to our health and to the safety of the food we eat.
Monsanto – The Current Bad Guy
The term “GM foods” or “GMO’s” (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.
The kingpin company for all of this seed manipulation is Monsanto. From Wikipedia:
Monsanto’s development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation, political lobbying practices, seed commercialization practices and “strong-arming” of the seed industry have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the alter-globalization movement and environmental activists. As a result of its business strategies and licensing agreements, Monsanto came under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in 2009.
Monsanto is so convinced that they are doing the right thing, that employees are brainwashed regarding the merits of their research methods and the resulting products. I recently had an opportunity to spend two days with a Monsanto employee and heard an earful about the miracles of their genetically modified super-corn and the mission of the company to feed the world, eliminate starvation and essentially control the food supply for the greater good. Jeesh.
My take, of course, is that they are pursuing the mighty dollar. And while the employees are both pitching and believing the company song (or is it company slime?), the executives are carting their bushels full of bonuses and stock options to the bank. But that is not the point of this article.
So what, then, is the issue?
Rather than address the issue myself, I would like to invite you to read the following article that was recently posted at the Activist Post website. This article was written by Julian Rose, a British pioneer organic farmer, writer and activist and author of “Changing Course for Life – Local Solutions to Global Problems” //www.changingcourseforlife.info/.
An Open Letter to Farmers and Consumers
Listen – do you want to survive? Do you want to have something edible on your plate?
Do you seriously believe that what you currently buy from the supermarkets and hypermarkets is actually providing you with your nutritional needs? Do you even care? Or are you “too busy to think about it.” Do you ever read the label on the packaging?
Do you know what all those ‘e’ numbers are or mean? The synthetic preservatives, colors and additives which form a significant part of the ‘food’ you eat – do you realize what they are doing to you and your children and your grandchildren?
Well I’ll tell you: they are destroying your immune systems – that’s what they are doing. They are eating away at your natural resistance to disease. They are hardening your arteries. They are blocking up the valves of your heart. They are contributing to the chances of getting cancer.
Have you noticed that people are getting sick more and more frequently? If you haven’t noticed you must have been asleep for the past decade. How many times have you felt “really well” recently? Not often? Have you wondered why?
Do you take an interest in the quality of what you put in your belly? Yes? Then why do you still go to those huge supermarket stores that sell you junk food wrapped up in pretty packaging? Did you know that the ‘fresh food’ they sell you is never less than 4 days old? That it has often traveled half way around the world before it gets to you? That it is coming from huge monoculture fields whose soils have been soused with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and nitrates?
You don’t know what nitrates are? They are toxic stimulants that force plants to grow faster and bigger than they would naturally. All large-scale commercial farmers use them. The residues from these nitrates end up in our drinking water – and therefore in our bellies – and so do the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. So do you begin to get the picture?
But that’s not all! Oh no, whenever you buy those bakery products chances are you are getting genetically modified soya added to the flour – and ever wondered what that might be doing to you, slowly, over many years? No? Well, nor do the transnational corporations that profit from the sales.
But we have strong evidence that they are contributing to the loss of your natural reproductive powers – yes – bringing on sterility. Oh, you don’t mind that you or your family may never be able to have children? You’re willing to risk this most precious gift of reproduction by ingesting GM residues? They are not only in the bakery products, but also come through in the milk and meat from all those livestock being fed GM soya and maize.
Did you know that your government has not banned feeding genetically modified feed to animals? That it hasn’t even banned the growing of GM crops? Are you going to simply turn the other way and allow your government to quietly permit the irreversible genetic pollution of your food chain and beautiful countryside? Or, will you get involved in preventing such a tragedy from ever happening?
Then what about all the refined white flour and sugar in these bakery foods? And what about this so called ‘flour’ – do you know how much wheat there is in most loaves of bread? Well – no one is going to tell you because if they did you would stop buying it.
Now then, I see some of you are still not convinced. If you don’t care what you put in your tummy, then perhaps you do at least care about what and who you are supporting when you purchase your food.
You might care to know that when you buy this ‘stuff’ that passes for food in the big supermarkets –and in many other shops unfortunately — you are directly supporting what is known as ‘factory farming’.
Factory farming: those two words should make you feel a little sick, but then some of you are so thick skinned that it doesn’t. So I’ll explain: factory farming is mass production of foods using techniques which are just about as inhumane as one could get. In the case of commercial meat, the pigs and chickens that provide a high percent of all meat eaten in your country are raised in animal concentration camps.
Their food is typically composed of genetically modified (maize and soya) that has been grown on vast sterile fields somewhere in the USA, Canada, Argentina, China or Brazil; fields that also demand large additions of agrichemicals. Then they are crushed for animal consumption and have antibiotics and other synthetic additives and fillers added to them. The hens and the pigs that are fed this toxic mix are kept in vast sheds with little or no access to daylight or the outdoors. They have no space. They cannot roam or play, and live out their brief lives on concrete floors under harsh neon lights. How long do they live? The fattening pigs maybe five months and the hens maybe three months. Egg laying hens and those for meat.
Then they get slaughtered – in their thousands. Just three months old. Humanely raised chickens can easily live happy lives for five years. Pigs considerably longer. But, dear supermarket consumer, you would really rather not know all this. You would rather prefer to believe the lovely adverts on TV which show contented hens running around in some field and smiling piggies gobbling buckets of delicious mash in their straw-covered yard. Yes, that’s how they sell us the message about our food.
And you swallow their sugary virtual reality message without ever questioning it?
Every time you do this you are consciously choosing to give your support to an inhumane factory farm – and to the corporations that manufacture the GM foods and agrichemicals – and to the vast supermarket chains that purchase this sad food, in full knowledge of the way it is raised. You see, we are complicit in the establishment of these vast profit-making prisons. They wouldn’t exist if we didn’t support them through buying their produce. WE are the ones who condemn these animals to a life of purgatory. WE are the ones who, by choosing ‘not to know,’ give license to huge corporations to take over control of the food chain and of our own lives. WE are submitting ourselves to becoming slaves to systems that are beneath the basic dignity of both the human and animal kingdom.
But do you believe, as I do, that we are responsible for maintaining an innate trusteeship of our animal cousins which ensures that we live together in the spirit of a broad extended family?
Then for God’s sake wake up! There are choices that need to be made here. Not making them is not an option any more. Its time to act. Human health, planetary health, and universal health are not separate: they are inseparably connected. This health will not be secured by profit-driven food corporations or bargain-hunting consumers. It will be destroyed.
Read on ……
What do you think you are doing? Is it true that you don’t care about the quality of what you cultivate and raise from the land? Or, is it that you are happy for your government to tell you what to grow and how to grow it? Or is it Cargill and Monsanto? Or is it the financial subsidies they offer that control your thinking? Or are you afraid of being innovative? Is it perhaps easier to just plod on in the same old way in hopes that somehow you will get by?
Just beyond your door step are many people who could greatly benefit from getting the majority of their daily food needs from you. Of course, they would want this food to be of a good quality: fresh and flavorful. This is something the supermarkets can’t provide. They are operating through centralized packaging and distribution centers involving hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers of road haulage.
Nothing they provide is fresh, nor is it of any comparable quality to local food. Yet, for some reason you would rather accept the pitiful price the supermarket pays you than get yourselves organized and sell at a fair price to your own community or nearest town?
Oh yes, once upon a time it was much better; there were proper local processing plants and abattoirs and even help in distribution. But the European Union and NAFTA don’t like small-scale, self-sufficient units that look after local people with good quality fresh food. No, they like large-scale monoculture farms employing as few people as possible and turning out thousands of tons of bland, lifeless foods to be sold in some vast bland and lifeless store at the other end of the country.
The EU and the United States Department of Agriculture want farmers to be business men and make decent profits so they can be taxed and provide a decent revenue to their puppet governments. You didn’t know that? What have you been doing for the past ten years? Listening to your ‘farmers union’ or ‘advice office’? Do you think they aren’t being paid by the EU and the government too?
Now, it’s time to get wise isn’t it? I mean, do you really want to spend the rest of your days being a slave to institutions that have declared it illegal to sell any processed food to the local village shop?
What kind of nonsense is this? Why would anyone go along with that sort of bullshit? It looks like you need to break free from this hangman’s rope. Are you trying to tell me that if a bunch of farmers got together with a bunch of shopkeepers and did a deal that provided local food to these shops – you would turn around and say, “Oh dear, I’m sorry, but its not allowed so I can’t do it.” Has your pride reached such a low ebb that you are prepared to give in to a bunch of petty bureaucrats?
Come on. Come to your senses. If your a family farmer, the EU and the USDA want you out of the way – and that’s the way they will win! They will get you trapped into feeling you ‘Can’t do anything’. They will try and make you feel guilty for doing something which is sensible, profitable and right. They will throw the ‘hygiene and sanitary’ rule book at you and tell you to fill in your ‘HASSAP’ form. They will try and cow you into feeling that you have to conform to their stinking global food marketing regime that has the net effect of killing off all the real family farms of Europe and North America and replacing them with banking cartel owned and run ‘super farms’. Places that operate with one man on five hundred hectares and the nation buying the resulting poisoned food from their nearest ‘super store’.
Now listen – there’s got to be a better way hasn’t there? I mean, if you want any of your children to take an interest in the farm, do you really expect them to conform to an EU and US government rule book which is written by people who have never set foot on a farm in their lives? Aren’t you feeling a bit foolish going along with this sort of rubbish?
If a bunch of locals came to you and asked you to grow some food for them – what would you do?
Set the dog on them? Swear at them? Tell them that its not allowed? Or might you perhaps invite them in for a cup of tea and a chat? Well, if you did, it just could be the starting point of a very interesting possibility. I mean, if these people offered you a fair price to grow some food for them or produce some milk or cheese or whatever it might be – then wouldn’t it be a bit foolish to turn them down? They get what they want and you get what you need — a secure local market — and not one controlled by some transnational corporation that wants to screw you.
Have a think about it. But don’t think too long, otherwise you will probably convince yourself that “it’s not possible.” Its this attitude that just leads to things getting worse and worse.
Consumers and Farmers:
I have addressed this letter to both food buyers and food producers: so now it’s down to you. Get together and take control of your destinies; or stay apart and to be killed off by transgenic laboratory foods, industrial farming cartels and sold-out corrupted governments.
It’s your choice.
Julian is a British pioneer organic farmer, writer and activist. He is currently president of the ‘International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside’ which is leading the fight against GMO in Poland. He is
A lot was said in these paragraphs and most certainly there is a lot to think about. The thing is – and we must be honest with ourselves – not everyone can afford to pay the bloated cost of organic produce at their supermarket or even at their local farmer’s market. I know that I turn my head at paying eight bucks a pound for local, organic broccoli – that is insane. So even after reading Julian’s piece, I shake my head and wonder about the responsible and the healthy thing to do.
Three options come to mind: growing your own food, baking your own bread and preserving your own bounty.
The growing your own food option is a challenge for people with limited space or limited growing seasons. Still, a lot can be grown in pots, tubs or buckets and intensive gardening, such as the type described in Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening book can greatly increase your output.
Now I do have a tip for the land-challenged: search out a local pea patch or a sympathetic neighbor (or even a business) that may allow you to grow food on their land. My own yard is tiny but for the summer of 2012, a local business is letting me use some vacant property in a sunny area to grow food. For free! And you can bet that I am going to grow crops that I know will produce a high yield and further, that can be preserved.
I am already growing all of our own greens – nary a single head of lettuce was purchased between the months of May and October this year, so fingers crossed it will all go well and I will have a bumper crop of my own organic tomatoes, squash and broccoli from my new-found garden plot.
And baking bread? Simple, inexpensive, fun and delicious – an unbeatable combination. Pick up a used automatic bread machine at the local thrift store or even better, a copy of Artisan Bread in Five. You will be baking wholesome bread from real wheat for about 50 cents a loaf. No strange ingredients, no preservatives, just plain, unadorned bread. Makes me hungry to even write about it.
And finally, learn to use a pressure canner. Think how beautiful those rows of home canned beans or home canned tomatoes will look on your pantry shelves. Or, if you have a freezer and an emergency backup power source, learn to freeze your food properly. A FoodSaver or other vacuum seal device does the job quickly and easily. Whatever method you choose, you will not only be saving money but you will be healthier for the effort.
The Final Word
It was not my intent to go out on a tear about this but I am glad I did.
Julian’s article has become a personal call to action not so much that I am going to hold up my sign in protest but more that I am going to continue make changes in my own lifestyle to insure that my food supply is safe and healthy. I can not promise that I will jump in and go 100% organic because that would be unrealistic for me at this point in time.
But as with all of my preparations, I will continue to take baby steps and will move forward with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing for both myself and my little family of two.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
From the Bargain Bin: Survival is all about learning to fend for yourself. Growing your own food, cooking and building stuff are all essential. Here are some of the top sellers for 2011.
Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: Cast iron items were at the top of the list. My readers love cast iron and so do I. Also at the top were Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers and the Lodge Max Temp Handle Mitt.
All New Square Foot Gardening: I put in a Square Foot Garden last year and was pleased with the results. It is not too early to start planning for spring planting.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.
How to Live on Wheat: Everything you need to know about wheat.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): For less than $8, this pack of 10 is a great deal. Free shipping too.
Fiskars 7855 8-Inch Hatchet: The Fiskars products are easily sharpened and will last a lifetime. For less than $25, what is not to like? Oh, and while you are at it, you might also like the Fiskars Axe & Knife Sharpener for an additional $10.
Kaito Voyager KA500 Solar/Crank Emergency AM/FM/SW NOAA Weather Radio: A lot of different hand crank radios were sold but this was by far, the most popular.
MAGLITE XL50-S3016 LED Flashlight: I own a number of these. Small, sturdy, and easy to handle.
Sabre Compact Pepper Spray with Quick Release Key Ring: The portability of this pepper spray adds to its appeal since it can be easily carried on a key ring or in a handbag or backpack.
The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever: Survival Husband lost over 10 pounds in two weeks on this diet.
The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster: Written by Bernie Carr at the Apartment Prepper blog, this is highly readable guide to all things preparedness.
50 – 1 Gallon (10″x14″) Mylar Bags & 50 – 300cc Oxygen Absorbers: A staple for long term food storage.
Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord: As far as I am concerned, paracord ranks up there with duct tape and zip ties. I wish I had know about this stuff years ago.
Emergency Essentials is your source for all things preparedness, from prepackaged foods to water barrels to first aid kits.
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