Saturday, October 26, 2013

Which came first: bean soup or the bean?

Hello everyone,

I hope you're well, and snug when you need to be.  There's been some chilly weather the last few days ... but incredibly beautiful clouds with contrast of light and dark, streaming light, blue highlights.

Was looking again through some old recipe books.  Husband Chris wondered whether farmers/gardeners in an area adapted their growing and seed saving to the cooking that was going on in the household.

Wow!  A different take on the chicken and egg who came first question!

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Celebrate Hope - Simply in Season cookbook and food sovereignty resource

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.  We've had a change in weather here, with rain and cooler temperatures setting in ... a reminder that autumn really is going to happen.

Lately, I've done a lot of reading about climate change and the serious changes to water tables, agriculture and people that will result.  It is a burden to realize the truth of the reports from IPCC and the United Nations, and crazy-making to read some of the climate change denial propaganda that's around.

This evening, however, instead of my too-often down feeling, I found myself bopping around the kitchen to the music on CBC radio.  I was stirring a pot, cooking tapioca pudding of all things, and browsing the Simply in Season cookbook to give myself something to do while stirring. (2005 from Mennonite Central Committee).

The full title of the book is Simply in Season: recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More with Less (an earlier cookbook which I treasure).   I'd never gone through a full chapter all at once and read all the anecdotes and ideas tucked in alongside the excellent international, seasonal recipes.

Simply in Season is a radical book.  It is a food, agriculture and food sovereignty course, written in short anecdotes, recollections and factual comments. It is family, community, and good-heartedness addressing serious issues of hunger and economic inequality.  And you take in ideas one at a time as you cook or browse.  Mandala books probably carries this recipe book or could order it for you (190 Central Ave, London / 519-432-9488 / )

Cathleen Hockman-Wert, one of Simply in Season's authors says:

Browse any supermarket aisle and it'll appear that you have no lack of choices: the number of different brands may even seem overwhelming.  What you don't see is that most of these brands are owned by just a few transnational corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills and Philip Morris.

You can picture our agricultural economy as an hourglass.  At the top are farmers and at the bottom are consumers; food flows from one to the other through a few corporations in the middle.  Those businesses hold enormous power.  The farmers have limited options in terms of selling their products, so the corporations set the prices the farmers receive.  The corporations also set the prices paid by consumers, and research indicates that market concentration results in higher prices.

Here's a simple side step around this conundrum. Buy food - whole, unprocessed food - directly from farmers.

A quotation from Melanie Boldt of Pine View Farms all-natural poultry farm speaks to the squeeze a typical American or Canadian farmer faces:

When people choose to buy the cheapest food they can find ... that choice has an impact right back to the farmer.  People say they don't want genetically modified food or pesticides, but the farmer has to use those tools when forced to survive on razor thin margins.

Nettie Wiebe, Via Campesina representative, Delisle, Saskatchewan, said:

I have worked with rural leaders from many parts of the world.  When we compare experiences, it is clear that agriculture everywhere is being reordered through trade agreements and financial instruments.  Peasants in poorer countries are under pressure to use their best land for raising specialty crops for export.  Others are simply displaced as their local markets for staple foods are taken over by cheaper imports from industrialized countries.  This destroys traditional food cultures and undermines the autonomy and food security of peoples.

Genuine food security requires food sovereignty.  The Via Campesina is leading the global struggle for food sovereignty because we recognize that food security can only be achieved if food production is broadly based, environmentally sustainable, and locally controlled.  This means that peasants must have access to land, seed and water and that the rights of people to produce their own food must be protected.

Food sovereignty treats food as the basis of life and culture, not just another commodity.

Jennifer Shrock says:

If I had to put what I believe about food and the environment into two words of advice, I would say this: Celebrate hope. 

If you can find a farm, a market, a store where you can see that love for the earth and for future generations is a priority, sell all that you have and buy their food.  If you can find friendly faces in your local food system who are willing to go beyond public relations and discuss tough questions, hug them!  If you can smell the Spirit of God on their sweet potatoes, buy 20 pounds! Eat these potatoes with gusto, thanking God that someone, somewhere has a vision.

Celebrate hope everyone! Very best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, October 13, 2013

GMO Protest participants ... good work ... and let's up our game

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.  Are you somewhere having the warm, sunny weather we're having this October week in London, Canada? 

I've just been listening to CBC news, a bit of coverage about the anti-GMO marches held yesterday, across Canada and the U.S., to protest genetic modification of crops and the corporations that developed and promote the technology (chemical companies out for profit and control).

I don't joke when I describe myself an an "uncompromising organic gardener".  I've stated here and elsewhere that the companies that develop and push GMOs worldwide are evil people.

I'm happy that many people come out to protest.

I want more.

I want the people at the protests to all have a fact-filled flyer in their hands.  At its smallest this would be an 8 1/2" x 14" double-side folded flyer, ie packed.  Protesters  need to have information about such things as:
- just what the patenting issues are and how they affect farmers in all countries and us
- agricultural comparative studies that show that organic agriculture has equal or better yields than GMO/pesticide agriculture
- to talk about Canada and the U.S., exact information about just what crops are grown GMO and their path in our food chain ... showing, for example, just how far the high-fructose-from-corn food amendment goes
- a summary of some of the feeding/animal health/death studies, with references, researcher names and universities
- documented examples of situations where Monsanto has sued farmers for having GMO plants - that the farmers didn't plant! -  found on their property, and the Monsanto money spent on prosecuting/persecuting farmers
- the situation for farmers in other countries ... how they are drawn in to what is equivalent to a first "hit" of special seed and then put in debt buying the pesticides necessary to grow them to maximum yield

I'm sure I'll think of other things. If I find a bit of time each day for a while to locate pieces of the above info ... maybe start with and ... what'll I come up with?

My husband was just writing about the crises of environment affecting our honeybees and Monarchs ... referring to the need to have all roadways lined with flowers to create nectar/shelter paths, he wrote "we need to line our roadways with jewels of welcome".

Very best regards to all of you,

Why's Woman