So happy for sweater weather, saunas, and sitting by the hearth with hot drinks.
A Year Unfolding-Angela Harding
Overnight, literally; no slow transition for the Pacific NW this year; we went straight from smokey, stagnant, 80 F weather, on top of a drought--to an inch of rain overnight, blustery winds, blue skies, and a backyard full of hungry birds.
So happy for sweater weather, saunas, and sitting by the hearth with hot drinks.
We have only had two days (since my last post) where the air quality levels were below 50.
Even in the house, with air purifiers running, my throat is raw and my nose feels gummy. To add insult to injury, TPTB made the decision early on that there would not be an effort to put the fire out, just contain it, as it was mostly burning in wilderness areas; if businesses, homes, and people were going to be displaced then the effort to put it out would commence.
I miss playing outside and having my windows open. Thank goodness that rain is finally coming to Seattle this weekend!
Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds
Small changes in the way you buy groceries and products, drink coffee, and garden will yield great rewards for your local ecosystem, as well as promoting fair-trade farmers across the world.
It is spring and I have soil on my mind: we've just received another load of wood chips and organic manure. Additionally, we have turned our compost barrel and now have a chocolate fudge of goodness to bestow on our garden boxes. We've been eating asparagus all week and baked our first rhubarb crisp of the season. Our arugula and kale survived the snows and our herbs continue to be year-round producers.
With all this organic goodness happening in my yard, it saddens me to read that the EPA is refusing to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos-even though the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the pesticide completely off the market last summer. The EPA is fighting that decision. "Several studies have linked prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos to lower birth weights, lower IQs, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental issues in children. But the EPA in 2017 ignored the conclusions of its scientists and rejected a proposal made during the Obama administration to ban its use in fields and orchards." Hawaii was the first state to pass a full ban last year. Now California, Oregon, New York and Connecticut are trying to do the same. I hope that they are successful and that this poison is fully banned from use soon.
Other bad news on the food front: from Carolyn Fortuna, PhD at Clean Technica
"It is becoming increasingly apparent that a yeast called Candida auris (C. auris) has resistance that is traceable to industrial agriculture’s mass application of fungicides. These chemicals approximate the molecular structures of antifungal drugs and that of many other fungi species. This yeast is killing immunocompromised patients in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes at a fast pace — up to 40-60% of those who suffer bloodstream infections now die in a month’s time. The reason for the rise in patient deaths is agricultural applications, which generate drug resistance across multiple human bacterial infections. This drug resistance kills 23,000-100,000 in the US annually. If you extend that death toll to global infections, we’re looking at 700,000 people worldwide." Read the full article
Some good news? Dung Beetles are awesome! Virginia Gewin of Civil Eats reports:
In 2013, Matt Jones, a doctoral student from Washington State University, approached dozens of West Coast produce farmers, both organic and conventional, with an unusual request. He wanted them to apply pig feces to broccoli fields to study whether dung beetles and other soil organisms were able to reduce food-borne pathogens.
While roughly 50 farmers declined, ironically because it introduced too much risk to their operation, the 43 farms that took part in the experiment helped demonstrate that greater biodiversity, including both dung beetles and soil microbial communities, suppressed E. coli and other harmful pathogens. In addition, a seven-day laboratory experiment revealed that two dung beetle species reduced E. coli numbers by over 90 percent and nearly 50 percent, respectively. Read full article here.
I still find it hard to believe that ANYONE thinks it is a good idea to use poisons to grow food. I say "Bring on the Dung Beetles!"
According to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG (Environmental Working Group), popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola, and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup.
You'd think the news that popular breakfast cereals contain the cancer-causing poison glyphosate would sound an alarm, yet I have seen several disinformation articles down-playing the issue with titles such as "How Much of an Herbicide Is Safe in Your Cereal?" and "Don't worry, your cereal probably won't poison you with pesticides".
Really? Come on humans, we certainly can do better for our kids and the environment.
Want to know more? Please visit my webpages Pesticides and Go Organic.
In case you missed it:
How to honor the victims? Get the poisons out of the schools!
The USDA is accepting comments concerning the ultra-lame GMO labeling currently being considered at Regulations.gov. Why would anyone have a problem with honest labeling that allows consumers to make informed choices? Please take a moment to submit comments!
To simplify the talking points, here is a repost from Beyond Pesticides:
As a consumer, I have a right to know whether my food is produced using genetic engineering. As USDA finalizes labeling regulations, please ensure that labels are honest, transparent, and informative by adopting the following policies:
If you have been following the GMO labeling controversy, you will probably not be surprised that the proposed labels do not contain "GMO" or "genetically modified organism"; rather, the friendly sunshiny and smiley face green labels will have the letters "BE" for bioengineered. Additional insult comes with the proposal that QR codes would have the technical information, requiring a person to scan all their produce in order to ensure that they are not purchasing GMOs. The final punch is a giant loophole stating that processed foods containing GMO ingredients will not have to label their products.
When I first saw these prototype BE/GMO labels, I mistakenly thought that these were (real) bee friendly labels; they are definitely not! Don't be fooled by this USDA/Monsanto&DuPont attempt to keep consumers in the DARK: buy organic and buy local. Support your farmers and biodiversity, not frankenfood.
Want to learn more? Visit the Center for Food Safety.
EWG's new Shoppers Guide is out!
Environmental Working Group is a one-stop shop to keep you informed on how to make healthier choices, and what to look out for when shopping for alternatives to toxic products.
It is pretty crazy when you start to understand the insidious consequences of using pesticides to grow our food! To begin with, by killing off such large numbers of insects, humans have created a trophic cascade, with a not-so-positive result of bird populations dropping by 50-75% in the UK (and elsewhere). Personally, I would rather not eat poison, and I love to watch the bugs and birds in my backyard, so I stick to organics. I strongly believe in supporting our local organic farmers and co-op, and enjoy fruits and vegetables that not only taste better but also support our natural systems.
To really scare your pants off, check out EWG's Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptor infographic (with safe choices included). Why on earth are we allowing corporations to get away with this? Yikes.
EU Fails to Agree on Glyphosate License Renewal
(repost from Organic Consumers Association)
The European Commission has again hit a wall in renewing the approval for the weedkiller glyphosate. The vote comes after 18 months of agonizing over the controversial herbicide. The European Union on Thursday voted on whether to prolong the use of the common but controversial herbicide glyphosate within its borders, but failed to reach a consensus.
The proposal to renew the EU license for glyphosate for another five years failed to a reach a qualified majority, meaning a decision has again been postponed, according to lawmakers. The current license is due to expire on December 15, but there is an 18 month grace period.
Fourteen countries voted in favor of the renewal, nine against, while five, including Germany, abstained from voting. The proposal could now be referred to an appeal committee, or alternatively the Commission could draw up a new proposal to be voted upon.
"No qualified majority for glyphosate renewal in vote today," said Luxembourg's Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg on Twitter. Belgian Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme confirmed the result. A qualified majority requires two conditions be met: that 55 percent of EU countries vote in favor, and that the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population.
Taking Action: Oppose the Monsanto-Bayer Merger
Beyond Pesticides: In late 2016, Monsanto and Bayer announced a $66 billion merger. The Department of Justice is in the midst of reviewing it, and a decision is expected in late 2017. Should this merger go through, only four companies in the world will control all seed and agricultural chemical business: Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and BASF. What does this mean for farmers and consumers?
Pesticide Action Network reports "Monsanto is already the largest seed corporation in the world. And it’s the fifth largest pesticide company, manufacturing hazardous chemicals to accompany its genetically engineered seed lines. Bayer comes in as the second largest pesticide corporation, with widely used bee-harming neonics a key part of its portfolio, and the ranks seventh in the seed market. A merger between these already-monolithic corporations raises serious antitrust concerns, including increased costs and reduced choices for farmers. And in farming states like Iowa, where one in five jobs is connected to agriculture, higher seed prices and increased pesticide resistance would be catastrophic."
Visit these letter writing campaigns here and here to let the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission know how you feel about this proposed merger.
Lovely images from ©DuyHuynh