Week 3 of my Environmental Science Class at Dartmouth University EDX: FOOD
I was employed as a Field Scout for a University/Extension Services/Dept of Agriculture Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) for some years of my life. Basically I went out and about on area farms and looked for bugs and diseases on acres of fresh market corn, potatoes, peppers, and carrots. I took soil samples… Walked alot of fields, wrote down what I found, had light traps and sticky traps, and dew monitoring devices scattered across three counties. Reported all I discovered to the farmer growing the crops, the University, to the various county, state, and federal agencies. The goal of the IPM program was to reduce the amount of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides used. Rather than just routinely spray fields with chemicals, they would be applied as actually needed when pests/disease reached set thresholds. The farmers embraced it because for a nominal fee they could reduce their chemical use and their costs by up to 40% sometimes, reduce the health risks to themselves and their workers from exposure, and bring good food to market. The chemical companies did not like that 40% cost reduction, and by the time I left the chemical companies were in high gear to have their ‘own’ IPM Scouts free to the farmers who bought their chemicals. During this period I held a Category One Commercial Applicators License for Pesticides issued by the DEP. I know way too much about what agro chemicals do to living things. I know they are often necessary in food production and have been the person who made the recommendation. I hold a degree in Aquaculture (fish farming).
I am loyal to and support the survival of small family farms, am chilled to the bone frightened by factory farming practices and the control, modification, and contamination of our food by those practices.
Concerned about GMO’s: Australia, Japan plus the 27 countries of the European Union have a ban on Genetically Modified Organisms. The United States let them loose and because they can’t take it back embraces them. GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially altered. It creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Long ago and very far away, the household where I lived experienced a taste of hungry., now called Food Insecurity.
It was my
Scarlett O Hara Moment.
As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.
It rides along through these many years of prosperity somewhere in my subconscious. It shows itself in restaurants when I read an entire menu before ordering, thrilled with the possibilities. It shows up with my groaning pantry shelves, my always overflowing fridge full of healthy stuff, my cooking for anyone who walks through the door, or I hear is feeling poorly. I abhor the wasting of food. Love of new recipes and cookbooks. Always say grace and mean it. It showed up my Environmental Science Class today!
The topic was food. I narrowly have focused here on my website on a few of the definitions presented in the class, and then went looking about on the agency sites that use those terms. Decided to demonstrate what I thought the terms looked like.
Dartmouth University EDX: Environmental Science Week 3: Food
“It’s important you look and act like a farmer”
― Anders Breivik,
Humans have been growing food for about 12,000 years.
As the Hunter Gatherer stage of human development gave way to domesticating animals and digging in the dirt, we mostly settled down and created more permanent living arrangements. Populations grew as more food was produced, and in the last hundred years in developed countries, the animals and people who once did the labor has given way to machinery, chemicals, and tremendous use of fossil fuels. Circling back to Organic Farms which while often using machinery and mechanization do not use synthetic fertilizers or synthetic pest controls. Organic farmers tend to build soils, avoid GMO seeds, and produce much healthier food. Both organic and commercial farms negatively impact the environment. The organic farm through plowing creates erosion and uses fossil fuels, or the commercial who erode terrain and burn fossil fuels, but also introduces a variety of chemicals, genetically modified organisms into our environment, and over time depletes soil nutrients and organic matter through overuse of the land and faulty irrigation practices.
But however it’s grown, people got to eat.
7.2 Billion People on our planet, and one million more arrive every five days.
Food insecurity is when people do not have access to an adequate amount of food for an active, healthy life.
It is estimated that 14.5 percent of United States households found themselves facing that situation in 2012 and it hasn’t changed much since. And 5.6 of United States households find themselves facing food insecurity as the way they live. I believe those numbers are much higher. Back when our household had those, thankfully, few days…we called it ‘being alittle hungry.’ And no one but us knew.
3 Billion, estimates the World Health Organization are malnourished. When you are malnourished it means that irregardless of the number of calories you consume, your food lacks the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to adequately sustain you. Oh you are alive, but it means you are not healthy, easily susceptible to diseases, and if you are a child your hungry brain isn’t operating as intended and your IQ will lower accordingly.
1 Billion of us suffer from Overnutrition. Taking in way too many calories, but of the wrong kind of foods, and so we are fat, get sedentary, and it does not look like a good time. Overnutrition leads to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, and while it once was the playground of the United States citizenry, it has now spread worldwide. Time to read labels and see what it is you are putting into your body. How much of it is actual food?
Time to talk about Famine A famine occurs when the lack of food is so extreme that a large number of people are going to die in a given area over a very short period of time.
The UN has warned that there are 2.5 million people on the brink of famine and that more than six million people in the South Sudan are on the edge of it. Half the population of the Sudan just may starve to death.
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
These are what healthy people with access to healthy food look like.
At JoHannaMassey.com people show up from all over the globe. Yesterday people came here from the United States, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Poland, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and India. I would love to hear from you about Farming and the whole issue of Food in your country, whether you grow your own, what your markets and supply chain looks like, do you eat and embrace organic? My curiosity about how the people who come to my website eat. Send me a recipe, a photo. Tell me your food stories!
My best to everyone.