Jundiai, Brazil goes Greener

4 August 2012


Jundiai offers vegetables in exchange for recyclables.

Brazilian City offers Vegetables in Exchange for Trash

In many urban centers throughout the world, vibrant waste recycling programs aren’t just eco-minded niceties, they serve an essential role in keeping communities clean and clutter-free. But thanks to one forward-thinking initiative in the Brazilian city of Jundiaí, trading in trash has never been tastier.

Ten years ago, the city’s Municipal Utilities department launched “Delicious Recycling“, a program aimed at encouraging residents to get into the habit of collecting recyclable waste in exchange for fresh vegetables, grown locally in a public-run garden — and boy did it take off. Today, the garden boasts more than 30 thousand plants to meet the demand of thousands of veggie-loving recyclers, turning aluminum cans and plastic bottles into edible greens.

Ultimately, the program has done wonders for the health of the environment as well, by ridding the city of improperly disposed waste.

“What once cluttered and even choked the flow of water from storm drains is today used as currency for healthy food,” local mayor Miguel Haddad tells Jundiaí Online. “Everybody wins with this.”

As innovative as Jundiaí’s “Delicous Recycling” may seem, it’s actually not the first of its kind, but given the program’s success, it’s no wonder why. Though a number of other Brazilian municipalities offer similar incentives to reward recyclers with food, the idea seems to be catching internationally — like in Mexico City, where residents recently exchanged trash for nearly three tons of vegetables!

Such an improvement over the North American food waste system, where food becomes garbage. Urban gardening and recycling are certainly key parts in making our cities more sustainable, but I have to harp on (and on and on) about reducing our consumption. More is the disease, and less is the treatment. The greatest problems we face are due to an inability to accept reducing our consumption of unhealthy food (i.e. garbage and poison), energy (especially dirty energy), celebrity news, disposable anything, and so on.

Simple. Reduce your waste and increase your intake of fresh, local produce. win-win.

139 Days to Dec 21st 2012

All the Flavours of the Rainbow

12 June 2012

I love food, don’t you know.

192 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Agricultural Biotech is an unnecessary Evil

9 June 2012

And so say all of us.

I began my degree in biology the same year my university first offered a stream in biotechnology. I had never heard the word before, and from the descriptions, didn’t quite understand how it was different from biochemistry. A couple of decades later, and I know all too well what it has come to mean. I’m talking about agricultural biotechnology, not medical biotech, which is a gene of a different colour. Plus I know a lot less about it.

My stance is to ban it outright, remove all the biotech seeds and plants from our biosphere, and put the whole sordid experiment into our past as a bad idea gone bad. Several Countries have successfully banned GMOs, desite massive opposition. It is an issue that effects the very foundations of our food system, which in term is the foundation of our individual and public health.

Recenlty there have been articles about an engineered apple awaiting approval. The apple has been altered so that a gene has been turned off such that it doesn’t turn brown when cut. Which is completely ridiculous. Has this been such a soul-wrenching problem that we have been forced to go down to the molecular level to repair it? A very sharp knife will slice so few cells that the enzyme that causes the browning won’t be released in enough quantity to cause the “problem.” Also, acid (like lemon juice) neutralizes the enzyme. These have been solutions to the “problem” (I’ve eaten a number of apples gone brown without any adverse effects – don’t get me started on pesticide residue, however…).

Most likely, it is being developed for commercial/industrial scale use. so that a fast-“food”[tm] restaurant can include apple slices in their “salads”[tm] and not have to worry about unsightly browning.

The largest biotech companies were agri-chemical companies before. Any wonder their “plants”[tm] are being developed to tolerate company pesticides – which is where the real money is. There is a fierce protection of the patent on the seeds, so that farmers who sign on pay for the right to use the seeds, and then buy pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, etc…) out the wazoo.

A lot of false claims have gone along with selling us on biotech. And a lot of misinformation. Not to mention aggressive lobbying to prevent its labelling. Most processed foods contain some engineered ingredients, especially soy, corn, canola.

Here are some links – I can’t say how reliable the material is, as I haven’t combed through all of it – there are emotional, ill-informed articles against biotech that have their hearts in the right place, however, I prefer to seek out something with reputable, peer-reviewed sources. Biotech Companies have been known to publish their own research in their own journals made to appear peer-reviewed. If their product is so wonderful as to stand up on its own merits, why all the shenanigans?

Doctors of Chiropractic Outraged by Monsanto, GMO issue

At first glance, it seemed like an unusual topic for chiropractors to be discussing all over Facebook. No mention of subluxations, rehab, adjustments or even back pain. Yet, seldom has a subject galvanized DCs into such unity of opinion. The topic: Monsanto and its effect on the food, water, air and, ultimately, the health of every person on the planet.

Toxin from GM crops found in human blood

Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.

Animals won’t Eat GMOs
Cows, pigs, elk, deer, raccoons, squirrels, rats, and mice all share the same aversion to GMO’s, says Smith.
Failure to Yield – evaulation the performance of Genetically Engineered crops
An Open Letter from an Alberta Grain Farmer

Because the CWB [Canadian Wheat Board, which the Canadian Government has done away with illegally]  is customer oriented it listened to farmers and other people and was instrumental in blocking the introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified, Roundup Ready wheat.  Monsanto is now preparing another attempt at introduction of genetically modified glyphosate resistant wheat.

This will lead to the selection of super weeds that are also resistant of glyphosate and require even higher applications of more toxic chemicals and combinations of chemicals to control the super weeds.

Studies have been done in some U.S. states and every sample of water from every stream tested positive for traces of glyphosate.  Air samples also showed traces of glyphosate.

What is the long term effects on the environment and human health of this chemical?  Genetically modified wheat would also contaminate and destroy organic production of wheat just as has happened with canola.

How Corporations Like Monsanto have Hijacked Higher Education
Academic research is often dictated by corporations that endow professorships, give money to universities, and put their executives on education boards.
Lab and clinical research shows that toxins from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are absorbed by humans. Pregnant women and their fetuses had detectable levels of the toxins in their blood. Lab research shows toxic effects on human kidney cells.
Human Genes Engineered into Experimental GMO Rice being Grown in Kansas
Unless the rice you buy is certified organic, or comes specifically from a farm that tests its rice crops for genetically modified (GM) traits, you could be eating rice tainted with actual human genes. The only known GMO with inbred human traits in cultivation today, a GM rice product made by biotechnology company Ventria Bioscienceis currently being grown on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas — and possibly elsewhere — and most people have no idea about it.
Genetically Modified Crops’ Results Raise Concerns
Biotechnology’s promise to feed the world did not anticipate “Trojan corn,” “super weeds” and the disappearance of monarch butterflies.But in the Midwest and South – blanketed by more than 170 million acres of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton – an experiment begun in 1996 with approval of the first commercial genetically modified organisms is producing questionable results.

Controversy Remains over Genetically Modified Food

“The United States Department of Agriculture reports 52 percent of all corn crops, 79 percent of all cotton crops, and 87 percent of all soybean crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified,” says Ortega.

Harvard Scientist Proves Pesticide causes CCD [bee Colony Collapse]

 “Commonly used pesticides may be a primary driver of the collapsing bee populations, finds two new studies in Science. The studies, one focused on honeybees and the other on bumblebees, found that even small doses of these pesticides, which target insect’s central nervous system, impact bee behavior and, ultimately, their survival. The studies may have far-reaching repercussions for the regulation of agricultural chemicals, known as neonicotinoid insecticides, that have been in use since the 1990s.” — Jeremy Hance

A plant pathologist experienced in protecting against biological warfare recently warned the USDA of a new, self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto’s RR corn.

Booted Out of Germany – the Ignorance that Could Destroy Your Health

BASF withdrawing their biotech division from Germany is a perfect illustration of the power of public opinion, and why we must insist on labeling of genetically engineered foods in the US in order to regain control over our food supply. As long as millions of people are in the dark about what they’re eating, the biotech industry can continue to destroy the food supply of the US

GMO Corn Leading to Pesticide Resistant Bugs

Monsanto Co. corn that is genetically engineered to kill insects may be losing effectiveness against rootworms in four states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

Rootworms in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska are suspected of developing tolerance of the plants’ insecticide, based on documented cases of severe crop damage and reports from entomologists, the EPA said in a document dated Nov. 22 and posted yesterday on the government website. Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is “inadequate,” the EPA said.

Food Fraud – How your food has been hardwired for chemicals

 It is a brilliant use of technology by the chemical industry that has enabled them to sell more of their revenue-generating products, like weedkillers, but it appears to be coming at a cost to farmers, families and our future.

As crops are hardwired to withstand increasing doses of these chemicals and toxic weedkillers, it appears that the weeds have become resistant (not unlike a child might develop an antibiotic resistant should an overuse occur).  And with this weed-resistance, our farmers now confront new problems, never before seen on their farms, problems not encountered by their grandfathers or great grandfathers, called “superweeds”.

Roundup Diluted by 99.8% still destroys human DNA

Monsanto’s New Agent Orange – You are Eating, Breathing, Drinking it

Peru Passes Monumental 10-Year Ban on Genetically Engineered Foods

In a massive blow to multinational agribiz corporations such as  Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow, Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for a full decade before coming up for another review.  Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision 3 years after the decree was written despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization due largely to the pressure from farmers that together form the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 people that represent six communities. They worry the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and, of course, the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

195 Days to Dec 21st 2012

Gardening by the Moon

24 March 2012

Gardening has long been in my blood, especially when I haven’t had a garden. I have lots of pots of plants on my window sills, in hopes that I’ll have a patch of ground once the weather warms up (which appears to have happened this past weekend).

So for this season, I’ve decided to plant according to the lunar phase (without paying attention to the astrological position, which some people do as well). Basically, plant above-ground plants at the New Moon, and below-ground plants at the Full Moon. The Moon influences plant growth through gravity, light and drawing up groundwater.

I’ve been using up seeds I purchased while living on the West Coast from Salt Spring Seeds and West Coast Seeds (no GMOs, non-treated and in many cases, organic). I’ve also got citrus trees (forgot to label whether they’re grapefruit, lemon, orange or tangelo), McIntosh Apples, Custard Apples and Cherries from growing from seeds I harvested from organic fruit. The citrus & custard apple are doing well. I’m still waiting on the others.

Custard Apples & Citrus

Here’s the chronicle to date:

Lunation 3

  • New Moon – Lunation 3 Day -304 (equivalent to February 21st 2012). Month 2 Day 5 (on theAbysmal Calendar):
  1. Planted: 1000-year tobacco, maules peppers, manzano peppers, and poblano peppers
  2. Daily misting, occasional watering, singing & playing the trumpet to keep them happy. I also meditate in the room with them.
  3. Waiting.
  • Equinox – Lunation 3 Day -277 (equivalent to March 20th). Month 4 Day 3 (AT = Abysmal Time):
  1. First tobacco sprouts (teeny tiny, but the seeds are as well, so it’s to be expected). – So for the first lunar month of planting, 3 tobacco plants have sprouted – the scores of other stuff are probably going to wait out the inevitable snowfall (all this warm weather can’t push away the usual volatile spring weather, can it?).

Out of Focus Tobacco Sprouting

272 Days to Dec 21st 2012