November 30, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am so happy to have discovered Mustard Plaster's Blog. It is a rich and playful space full of beauiful art and equally gorgeous garden diversity. I found this sweet video there.

Nanotech "smartfood": An Inventory

I would suspect that one of the lessons the Nanotech Food industry learned from the struggle to win over consumers for Genetically Modified Foods was: "the little they know the better off things are" and "flood the market with products and conduct the research as the consequences arise". Nanofoods are making their way in to supermarket shelves NOW. Friends of the Earth lists a few in a press release on March of this year, which include Cadbury and Miller beer. You can find an inventory of other nanotechnology consumer products at the Project for Emerging Technologies site, searchable by food, baby products, nutritional supplements, etc. It sure startled me to see the number of products on the market and I'm sure these represent a fraction of the commercially available products, because there are no labeling requirements and perhaps some companies wish to stay below the radar or public scrutiny (which we need more of).
UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, in its Global Environment Outlook Year Book 2007 writes that "Nanotechnology is no longer 'on the horizon'. It is fast becoming a facet of daily life." The report draws attention to the potentially grave health and environmental risks generated by the new technology, noting that "The nanoproducts now available came onto the market with limited public debate and with limited additional regulatory oversight that is specifically aimed at their novel features. Current research and development seek to rapidly explore the novel applications of nanotechnology."
Nanoparticles can slip inside cells, mitochondria, etc. what else might they do? What other function may they employ? Why is there, essentially, no regulation of these atomically modified foods? Dumb food for uninformed people.

Edible Action

Edible Action: Food Activism and Alternative Economics
by Sally Miller(Fernwood Publishing, 2008; A Review from Rabble

Edible Action is concerned with two aspects of the relation of food and social change. First, what are the numerous ways in which food has inspired social change? And second, why is food such a successful catalyst for social change? These questions open the door for continued thoughtful practice and reflection. The answers will indicate which key issues are mobilized by food and agriculture, and provide a map for the alternatives that food engages. more

November 28, 2008

Learning from past struggles

There were 2 deer at the side of the neighbour's unharvested GMO corn field this morning, so I expect they have been finding their way in to feast. Apparently there is a bear too. It was such a pretty field of pasture when I bought the farm next door in the spring. The disappointment I felt when I saw the sod turned under, the corn emerge, when the round-up sprays began and when the farmer told me he also had Bt corn was almost too much. I felt foolish for not researching the neighbourhood more diligently. After the freak snow of last week, warm winds and rain have the water courses full and leaching residues from the field. Watching that corn field rot triggered a need to reach out and start this blog, two weeks ago to this day. The corn field would have been there with out me, in all likelihood, and I am strangely inspired to act by witnessing its decay. It is tangible, in what for many is invisible, transgenic contamination of corn.
There are huge challenges in the realm of agriculture and food security where so much intuitive and experiential knowledge have been silenced and choice has been removed, where discrediting and disinformation is more common than common sense. How do we, as a planetary food community, learn from our past struggles and our mistakes, in allowing the patenting of life and the widespread cultivations of transgenic food of some species so we can prevent additional "innovations" from occurring with out ethics and choice of the people. Is the precautionary principle our foundation or is now too vague? Is their room for common sense and intuitive ethics?
I'll write about this corn rotting beside my little farm, and gently try to sway the farmer with the science he asks to see. But its one small tiny aspect of a much bigger picture. Like the Bt corn residue that makes its way slowly to the brook beside the field, to the small insects who perish there and the trout who die hungry.... Its all part of a much larger picture.

November 27, 2008

Nanofood Delivery

A garden that a person belongs to is akin to good love making. Every detail and subtle change, the mutuality, satisfaction, intimacy and delight. I graze while I weed and putter with this and that, but when I prepare and eat the good food that comes out of this intimate garden, well thats a kind of climax to the experience. The Food Industry of course recognizes the link between sex and food, cleverly exploits and studies its brain chemistry and imprints our desires on chocolates or frozen dinners. And now research is going on in places like Wageningen BioNT to design food that delivers tastier wallops to our taste buds. I think it is another cleverly unfortunate way to put its little foot through the planetary food's door.
The Nanotech interests are studying diligently the failure of GMO's to be instantly hailed as welcome in our fields and plates and are employing social scientists to discover "which factors shape public attitudes".
"It appears from European and American reports that particular efforts are devoted to integrating the humanities and the social sciences into the interdisciplinary approach to nanotechnology. The overall objective is to gain the general public’s acceptance of nanotechnology in order not to provoke a consumer boycott, as it happened with GM crops and foods". Source
Meanwhile, while publically funded "research" goes on in Nanofood (some of it used to convince the public its safe) nanoproducts are making their way into our food system now. These products appeal to the popular concern for "health": better nutrient deliver, and packaging for food that eases our fear of microbes. I predict the next, after health and safety, which we all hold as deeply important, will be the diddling of those taste buds with super flavour, an appeal that harkens to a more complete, climatic taste. But it won't be the intimate flavour of that lost garden.

Deccan Development Society

During my stay in India I walked into the Taj to have a look see and it was an opulent intense contrast to the poverty on the streets a few steps beyond the Red turbaned doormen. Flaming now... just one way to destabilize an India in resurgence, who could possibly want to do that. I feel sad today for the violence in India and share here a link to a very powerful group of women, The Deccan Development Society who for two decades have organized thousands of very poor women at the village level to empower their voices and their access to resources, particularly sustenance. Seed security has become the key issue in recent years and the fight to preserve and protect traditional seed from transgenic contamination and corporate control. Be sure to visit their great website that is full of resources and links to their inspiring fight against the destabilization of India's rich agricultural traditions and the empowerment of the Dalit.

November 26, 2008

Farm update and gleaning thoughts

A warm wind blew in yesterday and now its raining hard. The landscape is a white and vivid grassy green spotted with treacherous mud. The snow is almost gone. The unharvested transgenic corn field next door is a freaky frankenmess. I lay out a new fence for the girls so they can access a bit of firm green ground and cleaned out the old barn this morning. C.B.'s foot is a bit better.
After reading the article on gleaning, I thought today about the efforts made to organize distribution of excess or specially grown food for low income people in the city. At the markets I've sold at, a Food Bank came to pick up the excess food after closing... if we had it. Turned out often to be wimpy kale and the picked over scabby potatoes. The fields always held plenty of food one could salvage, but less than perfect, and while city folks made the trip out from time to time, I have cringed on the disk or the tiller more often. It takes a very special community to organize the cooperation between farm and city group to establish a gleaning group. There is always a need for more hands. Perhaps a shared purpose and vision is needed.
There are some folks who are getting delightfully organized at gleaning, I was impressed with the amount of food and community effort of Whatcom County Small Potatoes Gleaning Project. Salvation Farm also gleans thousands of lbs.of Organic produce and has some good resources for starting a project.

40,000 show up to Glean from Fall Field

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. -- A farm couple got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest -- 40,000 people showed up.
Washington Post, Nov. 24th 2008

Its great to see people in the farm fields and food utilized before till in, but holy! That is 11,000 vehicles parked on 30 acres!

November 25, 2008

Children's Farm Resources

Photo: Chicago Commission on Race Relations

If you haven't been over to City Farmer's new site...well you should because it is terrific. (I was also happy to see that the old website, started in 1994, is still up). I was drawn, in particular, to the children's section and it contains some real gems for kids and everyone. This photo came from there.

My personal farmprints three

I've been a jill of many trades but took to farming with passion in my late 30s. The old farm I'm currently honoured with is the third in a sequence of patches I could call my own. I came into farming by way of partnership with an extraordinary woman who taught me a host of practical things and who shared a fierce passion for an ethically intuitive approach to working with the soil. A 100 plus acre organic farm, it still produces some of the best food available in BC and is a dynamo attracting eager people from all over the world. Like most working farms, the people who sustain it struggle to balance books, time and social sustainability. I miss that place and always will, this first farm, that first love. But I had to leave. It had, like all 3 of the places I've settled, layers of history of the people who eked out an existence there before and if you go to my page of poetry, you'll find a song about old farm.
After various travels in and through the world and myself: Sri Lanka to the tops of mountains and Theravada monasteries, India on foot and train, Cuba on a bicycle, and other interesting things I may or may not tell you about, I landed on the middle farm pictured above. Also in BC, this was an old Doukabour homestead in very rough condtion and a fishbowl to the traffic driving by. I froze in the log shack, erected a massively necessary deer fence around a 2 acre field and cultivated vegetables that were gratefully received in the city near by. I worked with hoes and a BCS and missed the farmall super C with the basketweeder and all the other great equipment we had. But I came to enjoy the smaller scale and beds where no tractor traversed.I suffered in debt though to have the privilege to farm and so after 4 years I moved on to Nova Scotia where land is relatively cheap and history is deeper in the soil. I've arrived at this new old place this spring and have plowed and planted 2 crops of buckwheat on 2 acres and finished it with fall rye. (A double crop of buckwheat plowed under at knee high in flower has been my technique for preparing old sod for new gardens the following year). I have a massive mountain of my neighbour's 3 year old horse manure (13 hand-bombed loads)composting further which I'll spread in the spring with an ancient manure wagon I was given by another kind neighbour. The seed catalogues await scouring. And for now its just me and the 2 cows, their pasture covered in deep snow. One day, perhaps this old house will sound and these old fields will hum with a human community, adding to all the other living things here. I so wish for that. Perhaps the community of farmers who find comradeship on the net may help lead to that. This would help complete the circle in my personal farmprints.

November 24, 2008

Not Elephant Gas

I named my cow Cheeky Butt in part to pay homage to her fabulous but under utilized resource (she is also rather sly). I have always made compost from manure for the vegetable fields and taken harrows out to spread the paddies into the grass. But I really want to use digested slurry for compost one day after I've utilize the gas. Its one of my life goals - to can and bake for (ample) farm hands, in a summer kitchen, the outside type, where huge pots can up sauces, pickles and such. There has been much buzz about biofuel from methane over the years...but not much action in the our part of the world.
CBC has a news clip on their website of the Toronto's Zoo plan to turn their captive's manure into biofuel. They mention that the technology is "mature" particularly in Europe. Many farms and villages in India and China and elsewhere have used methane gas for centuries, from their own or their animal`s manure to cook. It is a very simple and cheap technology profile. Larger distilleries are now emerging in India and other countries with European technologies that involve specialized anaerobic digestion that may involve transgenic bacteria as perhaps the corporate industrial solution to reep profits from a grass roots technology. We have so much to learn from small scale Asian and Indigenous technologies. Scale and context have to be considered. I think Elephants belong in Sri Lanka, not Toronto, and to justify their captivity with a "green`project" is kind of like using GE Canola grown from vanishing farmland to burn in biodiesel vehicles driven around a city. I justify keeping Cheeky Butt and Aurora Curls because I believe in a good compost, but I`d feel better about our symmetry after designing a household scale digestor that works with the anaerobic bacteria that live right here in our soil.

Historic Agricultural Literature

I collect a few things like stones, tools, puppets and agricultural books. My favorites are those published before the "Green Revolution" when fertilizer meant manure or soiling crops and pest control were chickens and field rotations. Some of my favorites:

Farmers of Forty Centuries; Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan; FH King 1911 and the The Culture of Vegetables and Flowers. Sutton, 1913.
The Small Farmers's Journal often lists booksellers of Farm Literature and has reprinted some treasures within its own pages.
I'll post a list of some great old farming books on the sidebar soon. In the meanwhile, and its not as satisfying as having those beautiful old pages sliding through your fingers, here are a couple of sites online that have great digitalized collections:
"The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) is a core electronic collection of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food science,forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science".
Free digitalized library on line with a collection of books on holistic agriculture, health and self-sufficient homestead living.
An excellent online collection of classic small farm books

November 23, 2008

Stone Cold Soup

What do you get when you combine a bunch of common "acceptable" pesticides: certain death.
Thats the result of a study that offers the "first illustration of how a large mixture of pesticides can adversely impact the environment".
I've often wondered about chemical combinations and if they've been studied appropriately. What effect has the chemical soup? I wasn't surprised then to find this new research out of the University of Pittsburgh showing that when 10 of the most commonly used EPA approved pesticides are mixed together they can wipe out (99%) of the amphibian population.
Pesticides are toxically complex chemicals and synthesize or metabolize into other chemicals after application in the soil, or uptake into organisms. The common pesticide Cyromazine, used on leafy greens, for example metabolizes into Melamine among other things. The USDA has apparently axed pesticide testing of fruits, vegetables and field crops as of September of this year citing the 8 million budget as too expensive. The EPA used the data that these tests revealed to set limits on pesticide use.
I'm not clear if and how Canada's testing regime is monitoring our own food for chemical residues - there are a lot of agency hands in the pie, but with deep integration in full gear, I'd wager more of the same. In the 15 + years I've been farming no one has ever required my produce to be tested for chemicals, nor do I know of any collegues organic or otherwise, wholesalers or smallscale. The powers that be are becoming increasingly heavy-handed though with small-scale producers in regard to regulations for food-safety which has come to mean antibacterial control while they deregulate the agricultural chemical industry.

Cheeky Butt

One of my dear cows has torn some ligaments in her leg and is hobbling along. I rub liniment in it, keep the ground as level as I can, and have them confined in the barn, but there seems to be nothing else I can do. The vet was over (and I know ... many farmers would chuckle and think me lame for calling a vet for a twisted knee) but we put a halter on them both, and then the vet strapped on a very long glove, disappeared his arm into Cheeky Butt's self named orifice and declared her well along in calf. Curls is further ahead (Feb.) CB lets me lift her leg and apply a healing touch and we both feel better afterwards. They live in a huge old gambrel roof barn with so much space. Its an old dairy barn and still has the milking stanchions, and gutters in place. Below is a picture of her from early this year.

Blog Newby

Thanks Pat at Bifurcated Carrots for giving me a nod. I am new to this blogging world and wasn't quite sure about the value of my time, and if my voice had one more thing to offer. So thanks for the confidence (and blog traffic) boost! I am having a great time and learning many things in the process. Just a little correction: I'm farming in Nova Scotia, having moved here this spring from British Columbia. I did work in Alberta one winter and wrote a song about the experience.
Its still snowing and blowing! Shovel a path and its covered in snow an hour later. The grass under the dry powder is a deep green and warm, but this freezes in short order and covers again with blowing snow. So I'm going to let it fly awhile and wait for new weather conditions. The snow drifts on the squalling side of the neighbour's unharvested trangenic corn are magnificent. I'm off to take some video of it. Posting them will have to wait, as I lost the cable in my move, and by the look of the truck in a snow drift, a trip to Halifax will have to wait.

November 22, 2008

coexistence or keeping the outside out

What was six inches of snow yesterday is now a foot and a half today and the wind is blowing that icy dust into drifts twice that. Looks a bit like Svalbard. The snow flakes are dry and fine and are entering in to every little crack in the old outbuildings: through the vent in the hay loft, under the door in the barn - all sorts of undiscovered breaches between inside and out. I was sweeping snow off my work bench and shoveling it with the manure when I cleaned out the cows this morning. I can see this will be a challenge. At my old farm, where the tool room had 3 doors and was also the easiest accessed entrance to the goatshed, and we had - too many to count - free range bantams, keeping them out of this essential place was a battle I fought for many years. Chicken shit on nails, seeder plates and wrenches is not pretty. There were just too many people, too many tasks and too many chickens; cooperation could not be reached about a simple thing like shutting a door. And there is no reaching consensus with chickens. I gave up and moved the tool room to a less ideal space. We shall see how the challenge of snow in the outbuildings progresses. In both these cases coexistence does harm unless clear boundaries are defined and established. Like chicken shit and precious tools, snow and the inside, transgenic corn next door and my new market garden across the street will require delicate negotiations and clear boundaries to enable coexistence. Can they coexist and should they, are questions that will be on my mind as I plug holes and find fine cracks in old outbuildings.

Brokeback Beetles

Being snow bound today, I spent a fair bit of time within earshot of the good ole CBC. A couple of things caught my attention. Gay farmer/comic Trevor Boris joked about driving a John Queer and cultivating gummy bears and disco balls. And on Quirks and Quarks, Sara Lewis, an evolutionary ecologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, was interviewed about her research discovering an evolutionary advantage for queer Flower Beetles. Read about it.

November 21, 2008

Bringing the Cows Home

They have been out on the new grass, on their new farm, our new farm, for 3 hours now. No kicking or jumping; no soujourn across the river. They have inspected the perimeter and the vegetation a few times, stopping for the clover and delighting in the giant plantain. But its the enclosure's feel and their absent herd uppermost on their minds: noses pointed bang-on every revolution of the fence as they reach the closest point to their old home. A quick but gentle touch of the wire on the nose: I see her test the the fence. It’s between zaps, that big brown one I call Curls backs up, ears back, contemplates a jump, but goes back to the clover.
Five hours later and its pouring. The buckwheat in a plot beside the pasture bobs and tosses with the lovely onslaught. The cows are laying down and it some effort to find them in the long June grass. Relief that they are there hiding chewing their cuds in a warm hollow.
Once alerted they are up, all ears .
“You. drenched cows” their furry hides flat and dripping. “Come into the barn please. This is home now don't cha think”. All three of us wonder this now. Home is it?
A slow saunter behind them doesn’t hint them toward the building. No sense stressing them. Cows are for rain. The barn is empty except for the tractor and a couple of feed tubs. There is manure and soggy bedding from the last 2 days of the cows confinement in the tractor’s bucket and fresh sweet hay in the wide stalls to entice them back in. The barn is dripping from where the cupola once hailed. It is one of many projects to do. To keep me busy so my nose won't point toward my old herd.
Seven hours later and it is dark and a glich is observed in a corner post where a hosepipe and wire had been jimmied when the expensive corner insulators had run out. The pulse is audible along with its dramatic spark. Without thinking my hand is on the wooden post and is shot through from palm to hip, my injured hip. My body lights up the grass infront of me and I lay there in the wet. My hip is remarkably released. I turn off the electric fencer and run to the glich, screw in an insulator, fasten the electric tape and tighten up the line. Later, tromping through the long grass with a flashlight looking for my new cows, I come across their pathes etched through the pasture and find them lying faithfully on the furthest western point, noses pointed to their old herd.

Seeds Are for Soil

I have an unsatisfied curiousity with The Islands of Svalbard (Sovereign Territory of Norway) in the Arctic and have written a poem about some of those perplexities. You can find it here.

I was thinking about Svalbard today as I have ordered a selection of seed catalogues for my new address and was imagining all their comrades in sproutablity, packaged up and locked away in state of the art stone tombs, against the arctic cold and polar bear breaths. I have ordered catalogues which carry heirloom, rare and exquisitely unique varieties of vegetables and they are unique because they have been both saved and passed down through the generations - they have been planted and have evolved to become what they are in the very act of being planted, tended and reproducing in situ. I have a few of my own farm saved seed but it is quite a complex skill, to prevent cross-pollination, harvest at the right stage, dry and fend off mold and insects. The realities of other farm needs have often prevented conscientious seed savings. I hope to change that this season. To save seed is a to be a bit of an heirloom itself: to value a living legacy of hope for the next year's garden, the next season's bounty; to see diversity as a gift of many hands, planting many genes, in many places. For seed security we need much more of that kind of succession. Not a vault but a community of seed savers. This is a good place to start

November 20, 2008

Electric G : the silence is luscious

Last night on CBC`s As it Happens, Carolyn who operates Luscious Garage in San Fransisco was interviewed about her brisk business in converting hybrids to electric vehicles. The story was a clever juxtaposition to the big story of the US Congress `lame duck`session to dole out alms to the Corporate Auto Dinosaurs (who flew to Washington in private jets). And it amazes me daily how few luscious mechanics we have. My suggestion for stimulating the economy in one of many billion small, local, green ways, is to train folks to convert old tractors to electric. These old beauties are incredibly useful in vegetables as the seeder or weeding implements fits under the belly, or in front of the tractor, and the engine is in the rear, making precision and visibility quite lovely. Check out how to make the conversion, if you are lucky enough to have an old Allis Chalmers G sitting in your back field.

November 19, 2008

Ensuring Food Security

This is a very sweet little video! Sometimes it is the simplest things that have the most impact.

The Big Question: What is nanotechnology, and do we put the world at risk by adopting it?

By Steve Connor, Science Editor. The Independent.
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Why are we asking this question now? The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has just published a report on novel materials and has looked at the case of nanotechnology, which describes the science of the very small. Nanotechnology covers those man-made materials or objects that are about a thousand times smaller than the microtechnology we use routinely, such as the silicon chips of computers.

Nanotechnology derives its name from the nanometre, which is a billionth of a metre. To get some measure of the scale of the materials and devices we are talking about, a human hair is about 80,000 nanometres wide.

Should we be concerned about nanotechnology?

Read the whole article

November 18, 2008

Ah, those were the days

"The Ingenues, an all-girls band and vaudeville act, serenading the cows in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Barn in a scientific test of whether the cows would give more milk to the soothing strains of music."

Watch them in this Vitaphone clip swinging in 1928 in Band Beautiful. Can you spot my Grandmother?

bugs are (or) us

I was cleaning out the oldest barn this afternoon that has several generations of carefully collected oddities and bits, some of them rather questionable in their cleanliness. So when I came in to make supper, I washed my hands.
I don't always do this when I come in from the farm, I must admit, as someone told me (my Dad) "everyone should eat a peck of dirt before they're dead" and I took this to mean that micro-organisms are a healthy part of things and unavoidable.
Anyway, given that it was more toxic substances than kindly earthly materials, I scrubbed up with a lovely smelling goat milk soap. - not the antibacterial kind because this well could contain unregulated nano-silver.

Nano-silver is being touted as a miracle disinfectant wowing microbe-phobes with claims of making things "permanently anti-microbial".
We are being silently inundated with Nanotech products in various forms and "healthfulness" has been the hook to make us dumb. Nano-silver is in industrial disinfectants, laundry soap, toothpaste, underwear, hair products, etc, etc.
Are we so afraid of nature? Will our compulsions for cleanliness make us really quite sick?
We leave the bathroom with our hands covered in a different type of "dirt" and while we may not catch a cold the following week, what longer term health effects might there be? We don't know and it doesn't look good. My advise is to eat organic garlic, wash with a good natural soap a peck of soil before you're dead.

November 17, 2008

Melamine in our own front yards and chickens

Driving home today down the valley past the closed farm gate shops and combined GMO corn fields, past the strawberry fields all covered with remay, fabric fields ghostly against the next all tufty rust and black. Then through the towns with clear bags of leaves under the ancient oaks on the curb tempting for the empty dodge.... but what else is in them? Perhaps melamine. Excess nitrogen fertilizer raked up and bagged with the lushous leaf mold and in the grassy cling-ons. Nitrogen fertilizer doped with Melamine. You can see it apparently too on the black soil surface, as a white salty substance.

There are no chickens running freerange through these ample fall fields. They are strangely quiet. Chickens roost somehow somewhere else, like in the mega barns humming dusty feathers. And these chickens? Are they tested for Melamine?

November 16, 2008

For The Future

by Wendell Berry

Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be.

November 15, 2008

November 13, 2008

Double Helix

Is it a coincidence that both birkeland currents and DNA are helicoidal shape?

"The research indicates that the double helix shape of DNA is due to the electrical potential. Molecular points of equal potential in space can be interconnected by equipotential "lines" that generate perpendicular electrostatic forces. The combination of these forces obliges the components of the whole molecule to twist to one side or the other side. The dipole momentum of DNA was described by S. Takashima in 1963. His study was published in the Journal of Molecular Biology under "Dielectric Dispersion of DNA".

"In the times of Watson and Crick, molecular biologists attributed the double-helix shape of DNA to the assymetry of hydrogen bonds, i.e. the bond between Adenine and thymine is a double bond, while between Guanine and Cytosine there is a triple bond. However, the real molecules with large strands formed by T-A or G-C exhibit the helicoidal shape, anyway. Thus the cause of that particular shape couldn't be the simplest explanation. It was then that biologists investigated the real cause and found that DNA molecules were affected by strong electric forces."

November 12, 2008

Symbiosis and our bacterial ancestors

When I was a school teacher I had the excellent opportunity to teach symbiosis to a group of captive nine year olds. Excellent in that the ecology lessons could connect with the concepts of cooperation and community we were working toward. That was in the day before Lynn Margulis had enlightened the science world with her Endosymbiotic theories. Before, symbiosis was often portrayed as nature's interesting, but freaky sideshow - often described as an opportunistic or parasitic relationship - Mr Fungi meets Mr Algae and Wee Lichen is born.
Symbiosis is something quite remarkable and perhaps the foundation of all living things. To start we have the realization that "the origin of bacterial cells is the origin of life itself". There is a lot of DNA from ancient bacteria in us humans, it's often referred to as our "junk" DNA. Bacteria and humans engage in symbiosis in many ways, some pretty, some not so. See the article: "Gaia a tough old bitch".

Nanobots in Your Grub

Just as the issues of Genetically Modified foods are becoming another sad planetary fact ignored by most - Something new rears its ugly molecules into our porridge. The facts that GMOs are unlabeled in supermarket shelves, that their genes are pervasive and at times aggressive in the environment and that much research points to health and ecological risks hasn't stopped us from pushing the disregard for the Precautionary Principle one step further.
We are saturated and survival has become not just a physical need but an intellectual and emotional one. How can we add yet another objection to our democracy, one more change to strive toward.
Yes, one more thing we need to regulate if not out-right ban: Nanotechnology and particularly in the food system. Nutrients delivered by micro-molecular machines, for example. The science of the lab to replace that life of attentive observation and experience that has been, for fifties of centuries, farming. To rationalize the technology as a means to feed a hungry planet, is just insulting to those of us who have been displaced from the land for one reason or another. It is innovation for innovation and greed's sake.
What these nanobots might do in the body or environment is for us to discover, at some sooner or later time. Why is the Precautionary Principle not a guiding pillar of Health Canada and CFIA regulation?

The link will lead you to a list of Nanotech consumer products.

Courage to add my voice

The cold weather is beginning to settle in, the cows are content in their new barn and very pleased with the sweet hay I have stacked in the loft above them. My firewood is in and the tomatoes all canned. I'm not going to freeze in the packing house washing winter roots this year, or go off to work in Alberta. So apart from the ordering seeds and equipment for next season's field, I am free to digest all the things I have been reading for the past several years. This winter I'm going to cultivation a new field. It is very fertile, lush and promising but suffers overgrown and tangled. May this blog be a good way to lay out the divergent ideas and inspirations and find out how they link. Because, oh yes, they link.