Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Big Thugriculture

Robyn O’Brien, a tireless crusader against big agriculture and genetically modified food, recently posted about her ordeals in trying to share all of the evidence with people about what big ag and the manufactured food complex is doing to us. Her story is a sad testament to the experiences of many people on the front lines of the sustainable food movement.

But the question remains: If the GMO crowd is as right as they believe they are, then why do they have to resort to these kinds of tactics against their opponents? Shouldn’t their righteousness speak for itself?

They’re doing it because they’re not right, and many of them know it. They’re scared, and out of fear, they’re lashing out. They’re scared they’re going to lose their gravy train and they’re going to be revealed as the frauds they are.

You know the last time this happened, right? Back when brave people revealed Big Tobacco was tampering with its products in ways that were killing people. Don’t say you weren’t warned. If you’re ignoring this kind of thing, you’re just willfully ignorant.

Educate yourself.

DLH

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Worldview: Seven Stone: The food that was trying to kill me

For reasons even science is struggling to understand, we are awash in an era of food allergies from the very real and sometimes deadly to the faddish and imagined. However, the idea that our food is making us sick is well documented enough that it should give all of us struggling with health issues pause.

I’ve been pretty sure that something I was eating was having an adverse effect on me for years, but the fact was that doctors just could not figure it out. As a result, about two years ago, I started trying to figure it out on my own, and this is what I found:

Soybean proteins were trying to kill me.

For a long time, I wondered if it was corn or wheat gluten, but three events and a whole bunch of research have convinced me that soybeans as they are presented in the American processed food diet are the devil.

First was an episode from years ago: on the recommendation of a doctor, I was using Slim Fast to try to lose weight. My local grocery ran out of the milk-based version available at the time, so I tried one of the soy-based ones. I was sick for a week and never drank one again, but never made the connection.

Second was a food log where I kept track of what I was eating and what was in it. Sure enough, every time I ate something containing soy proteins of any kind, two or three days later I would go through a few days of feeling ill. I still wasn’t quite convinced.

Third was that I eliminated any kind of soy from my diet for almost three months. I say almost, because the moment that proved to me that soy was the culprit was accidentally eating some saltine crackers containing soy meal toward the end of the third month. As the result of not having consumed soy for so long, I suspect my body was super sensitive because I was sick for a week.

I am not presenting this information in any way to suggest that people should eliminate soy from their own diets just because I did, but rather because I want people to pay attention to what they are eating. If you are struggling with your weight and feeling sick all the time, it is entirely likely because of something you are eating. Figure out what it is and eliminate it. You’ll be glad you did. I am.

DLH

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Worldview: Seven Stone: Calorie does not mean what you think it means

Most people, as a result of the junk sold to us by the media as dietary science, think of calories and nutrients for their body the same way they think of fuel and oil for their cars. As a result, they think, if they put in enough calories but not too many and keep the nutrients topped off, they should be healthy.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

I know plenty of people who will argue with me about this, but the actual science of diet is clear: it matters what kind of calories you are eating.

Before people read this and think I am advocating some sort of “eat only these kinds of calories” nonsense, I am not. What ends up being a healthy diet differs from person to person based on your own unique biology and lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

That said, there is one rule: the more whole the food you are eating is, the less likely it is to make you fat. Here’s why:

Our bodies have very specific, unique mechanisms for dealing with nearly every calorie and nutrient we consume. These mechanisms often involve complex processes that sometimes themselves require calories and nutrients to function properly. It turns out that the necessary calories and nutrients needed for those processes to function can be found in the whole foods we are eating.

In fact, eating whole food is the most significant change I made toward losing weight over the past two-and-a-half years. I don’t really exercise more. I don’t really consume less calories. I simply eat less processed food and replaced it with more whole food, and as a result, I’ve lost 35 pounds and kept them off.

For me, it was really as simple as that change.

DLH


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Worldview: Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Fanaticism

There’s something about the sustainable food movement in all its various incarnations that brings out the fanatic in people, both pro and con. I admit that I am just as bad as anyone.

Yet, there is an underlying problem with that fanaticism that undermines the whole attempt to improve the way we feed ourselves, and it finds its voice in purity tests voiced by some that demand things that are unrealistic or downright impossible.

Among the worst of these tests are calls for laws that threaten the livelihoods of the very kinds of people trying to make change happen. For example, there are those who want to pass laws that would require sustainable farmers and vegetable producers to get licensed before they could produce.

I understand the motives that drive such calls because I experience them first hand. I also know they only serve to threaten the very undertaking we’re all supposed to be working together to achieve by making it harder to do what we are doing.

Perhaps, instead of calling for laws, boycotts, and bans, if we see a problem, we should be working extra hard to solve it and let the chips fall where they may. All that effort spent trashing others could be used in a far more productive way, and in the end, that properly applied effort might just produce something better than what we already have.

DLH

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Worldview: Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Some thoughts on the future of agriculture

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there is no one solution to those ills.

Something I did not touch on in those thoughts is something that too few people trying to reform agriculture in the 21st century talk about: how the consumer needs to change habits as part of a broader effort to improve the food we grow while reducing its impact.

Far too many reform efforts focus on the supply side–that is, on the farmer–while ignoring the consumer. People tend to ignore things like rampant food waste–as much as 60 percent of all food produced ends up in landfills–or over-consumption–the reason so many people are fat. They tend to ignore the massive impact out-of-season eating has on the environment and the economic impact massive box groceries have on local communities.

What I find interesting is that the concept of urban gardens addresses these sorts of problems too. It’s a psychological trick, but people tend to waste less food if they’ve produced it themselves, food harvested from gardens is of higher quality and nutrition, and gardening of any kind is fantastic exercise. Urban gardens can help reduce the transportation network required to keep box stores stocked with out-of-season foods and by definition keep food buying dollars local.

It is an old adage that how we spend is more powerful than how we vote. We affect the future of agriculture with our spending more than any other thing. As consumers, investing in urban gardens speaks volumes promises a brighter future.

DLH

Read more at my Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater weblog...

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Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Some thoughts on the future of agriculture

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there is no one solution to those ills.

Something I did not touch on in those thoughts is something that too few people trying to reform agriculture in the 21st century talk about: how the consumer needs to change habits as part of a broader effort to improve the food we grow while reducing its impact.

Far too many reform efforts focus on the supply side–that is, on the farmer–while ignoring the consumer. People tend to ignore things like rampant food waste–as much as 60 percent of all food produced ends up in landfills–or over-consumption–the reason so many people are fat. They tend to ignore the massive impact out-of-season eating has on the environment and the economic impact massive box groceries have on local communities.

What I find interesting is that the concept of urban gardens addresses these sorts of problems too. It’s a psychological trick, but people tend to waste less food if they’ve produced it themselves, food harvested from gardens is of higher quality and nutrition, and gardening of any kind is fantastic exercise. Urban gardens can help reduce the transportation network required to keep box stores stocked with out-of-season foods and by definition keep food buying dollars local.

It is an old adage that how we spend is more powerful than how we vote. We affect the future of agriculture with our spending more than any other thing. As consumers, investing in urban gardens speaks volumes promises a brighter future.

DLH

Read more at my Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater site...

Worldview: Consequences for a region

The City of Dayton‘s recent decision not to extend the lease for Synergy Incubators has much larger consequences than just for the city. Synergy Incubators is a regional asset, opening opportunities for food entrepreneurs to create and sustain small-scale enterprises in seven counties bordering Montgomery County by providing them a place to prepare and package food for local markets. The decision by the city has the potential to affect as many as a million people in the Dayton Metropolitan Area, and the potential economic impact affects all of southwestern Ohio.

These observations are not hyperbolic. The Dayton area is one starved for jobs, opportunities, and hope. Synergy Incubators is one of the recent innovations offering these things to the region. By refusing to extend its lease, the City of Dayton has decided that it wants to kill these things for everyone in the entire region in favor of protectionism, parochialism and petty politics that really only benefit a few politicians and downtown Dayton businesses.

If we the people of the Dayton region cannot trust the government of the City of Dayton to show leadership on our behalf, then it is time for us to show that leadership ourselves by taking whatever power the city might have left out of Dayton’s hands.

You can do so first by signing this petition calling for Dayton to extend Synergy Incubator’s lease. Failing their action to do so, you can help by helping Synergy Incubators find a new home. In any case, you can consider helping them by contributing to their cause.

The Dayton region will live or die on the actions of all its citizens. One city government should not be able to dictate to all of us what opportunities we have. Let’s make the region a better place, without Dayton’s government if we have to.

DLH

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Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Where’s your foodshed?

I just came across a term I really like. It’s called foodshed. Like a watershed, it refers to the idea of where one’s food comes from.

So, where’s your foodshed? Is it big enough? Does it grow the kinds of food you want to be eating? If not, what are you doing about it?

DLH

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Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Employing America by feed it

Monty Python ruined things for all of us. How so? Because if you mention a career in growing food, this is what most Americans think:

And most of the time, that’s where the conversation ends, even if one has more to say on the subject.

Yet, as the Greenhorns blog pointed out recently,  one way to put Americans back to work is to encourage them to go into food production careers.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that. I know because I’m an American who decided to pursue a food production career. What I found is that I can be done, but our government could make it easier for more people to do it.

I’m not talking about throwing borrowed money at the problem. No, I’m talking about getting rid of the mountain of rules and regulations that strangle small farms. Sure, those rules and regs might be appropriate to control industrial ag producers. Most small farms have nothing to do with the problems big ag producers create.

Instead, what small farms need is rules and regs that help us hire. That help us invest. That help us succeed without penalizing us for success.

I imagine that, with a simple set of rule changes that differentiate small-scale and sustainable food production from industrial agriculture, America’s small farms could easily put 1 to 2 percent of the people currently employed back to work in careers with nearly infinite potential for future employment. I’d bet that quite a few of those 1 to 2 percent would go on to establish their own small farms and hire people of their own.

If only our government would listen. And care. And act. If only the voters thought this was important.

So, we keep trying. Maybe, eventually, we can change the view to something more positive.

DLH

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Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Some thoughts on bureaucrats, school lunches, and the lies we tell ourselves

Bureaucrats tend to obfuscate the truth with words, and far too often, people fall for the resulting lie. Take school lunches as an example. As recently evidenced by the whole debacle over the NeverSeconds weblog, bureaucrats will continue to insist that they are doing something even when it is clear they are not.

In this case, they insist that they are feeding the children forced into their care for part of the day healthy, balanced meals that provide the best nutritional value for children of that age. At the same time, they blame rampant obesity, at least partly the result of malnutrition, on the parents despite the fact that the schools control the kids for as much as 10 hours a day.

Yet, if one looks at the bureaucrats, one has to wonder how they are remotely qualified to make such assessments. Two things immediately come to mind: they are rarely specimens of healthy lifestyles themselves, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bureaucrat eating the food they force on the children unless themselves forced to do so.

And so we all agree to the lie. The bureaucrats believe their own lie that they’re feeding the children well. The parents believe the lie that the bureaucrats are doing the right thing. The kids get fatter. The food gets worse.

There’s a way to put this all to the test: challenge your bureaucrats with something simple: eat lunch everyday in the school cafeteria. If the food’s that good, it shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

Then, watch the ways they squirm out of doing it. That should be proof enough, shouldn’t it?

And if it’s proof, then we have a problem: we’re malnourishing our kids on the orders of our government.

It seems to me we should be doing something about that.

DLH

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