the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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monsanto shareholder meeting gets heated!

Article from the Wall Street Journal

Monsanto Co. has long been a lightning rod for debate, but at its annual shareholder meeting Friday, the biotech-seed company was tagged with blame or credit for an even larger number of issues than usual.

The sometimes emotional, nearly two-hour meeting sounded at times like a daytime talk show, minus thrown chairs and shouting. Critics charged Monsanto with responsibility for spikes in diabetes and autism, among other human and environmental problems. Springing to Monsanto’s defense were farmers, its own employees, and a nun who praised its efforts to reduce water use.

The meeting at Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters tested CEO Hugh Grant’s stated determination to more directly engage critics of large-scale agriculture and genetically modified crops.

For some environmentalists and advocates of organic farming, Monsanto has become the poster child for a kind of industrialized farming reliant on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, including the company’s trademark Roundup.

Advocacy groups that had purchased Monsanto shares and submitted shareholder resolutions focused on corporate governance used some of their time at the microphone to lambast Monsanto over human health problems, particularly in children, which they attributed to widespread use of Roundup, a formulation of the chemical glyphosate.

“I’m imploring you to choose a new direction,” said Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, who spoke at length. “Stop poisoning our children.”

Monsanto’s Mr. Grant, who noted that he was the father of three children as well, responded that myriad studies had shown “no linkage” between Roundup and the maladies described by Ms. Honeycutt.

To read more about this meeting, click HERE.

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beast burger. made 100% from plants and tastes like a burger

*This article is controversial in certain farmer circles. Farmers who subscribes to holistic, regrarian, Allan Savory or other styles of pro-livestock management outlooks may find this article to be a bit of vegan propaganda. Regardless, we’re putting it on the blog because a burger made from plants that tastes like a burger is pretty cool. *

More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B. In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides.

It was called the Beast Burger, and it came from a Southern California company called Beyond Meat, located a few blocks from the ocean. At that point, the Beast was still a secret, known only by its code name: the Manhattan Beach Project. I’d had to beg Ethan Brown, the company’s 43-year-old CEO, to send me a sample.

And it was vegan. “More protein than beef,” Brown told me when I rang him up after tasting it. “More omegas than salmon. More calcium than milk. More antioxidants than blueberries. Plus muscle-recovery aids. It’s the ultimate performance burger.” To read the rest of this article, click HERE!

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study shows air and rain samples in the mississippi delta region contained >75% glyphosate in 2007

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 8.58.14 AMThe US Geological Survey concluded a study in which samples of a variety of chemicals were traced in the air and rain around the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), were detected in ≥75% of air and rain samples in 2007.

Read the abstract of this study HERE and for your viewing pleasure, watch this Jeckyll meets Hyde (it’s mostly scary information, but in a heroic food production light) video by the USGS below!

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news from europe: land grabbing

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is currently preparing an own-initiative opinion on land grabbing in the EU and its implications on family farming.

The purpose of the hearing is to take stock of this phenomenon in the EU, to discuss the impacts of this process on family/smallholder farming, employment in rural areas, access to land for young people and environmental resources, as well as to gather views from civil society and relevant stakeholders.

The European Economic and Social Committee has established a study group to explore the issue of land grabbing/ large-scale land acquisitions in Europe. After consulting a range of public, private and civil society actors, and conducting a fact-finding mission in Romania, it organised a public hearing on 4 November in Brussels, to present and discuss the preliminary draft opinion “Land grabbing – a warning for Europe and a threat to family farming”.

The latter clearly identifies “increasing globalisation and the ideology of the free movement of capital” as a key factor of land grabbing. It highlights:

  • How land grabbing leads to the decline of the European model of family farming, rural depopulation and the correlated decline of jobs, biodiversity and food security.
  • It asks for greater regulation of land ownership and land use.
  • It calls on the European Parliament and the Council to discuss whether the free movement of capital with regard to farmland should be unrestricted, to investigate the impact of various EU policies on land concentration and to encourage a transition from industrial scale to smaller production units.
  •  It asks for member states to be allowed to set up an upper limit for the acquisition of farmland and to establish state institutions which would study and monitor land ownership and uses.

To read more of this article, click HERE

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great press!

New Life at Sonoma County’s Historic Granges
by Mary Callahan for The Press Democrat


A surge of interest in natural foods, local sourcing and environmental sustainability is bringing new life to the Civil War-era Grange movement, driving participation and restoring its relevance among modern folks yearning for connection to one another and to the food they consume.

The Sebastopol Grange — part of the nationwide farmers alliance that spans 147 years of agricultural development, economic expansion and vast social change — is among the groups that are thriving, its membership surpassing 200 people just a few years after its existence was threatened.

“It’s a process of revitalizing community,” President Jerry Allen said. “It’s going on all over, and it’s sure going on here.”

Continue reading

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bumper harvest for commodity crops and subsidies

Nov 19 (Reuters) – U.S. farmers are about to reap a bumper harvest not just in corn and soybeans but also in new subsidies that could soar to $10 billion, blowing a hole in the government’s promise that its new five-year farm bill would save taxpayers money.

Because of ample supplies, corn prices have fallen well below the long-term average price used as a benchmark for one of the new programs. Ironically, this year’s bumper harvest may not be large enough to compensate for those price falls and revenues for some farmers could be low enough to trigger payments.

“Crop insurance has drifted away from that basic safety net concept and the farm bill has taken it even farther away.”

Click to continue reading this Reuters Article





Photo courtesy of Acton.Org

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what if you only ate the foods within your county lines?

“2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles,” is the title line on Bodnar’s and Gowan Batist’s blog, The project began on Jan. 1, with these two young women emptying their cupboards of everything not created locally. Then, they began their year-long journey of eating food only grown, harvested and produced in Mendocino County, right down to the salt and pepper on their table.

Batist is a farmer; she manages the farm at the Noyo Food Forest in Fort Bragg. Bodnar runs the social media business called Social Media Sisters and has taken over as organizer of the Mendocino Farmers Market, held on Friday afternoons in the summer.

Their rules are fairly simple to understand, but hard to live by. They eat strictly locally produced food, which means all of the ingredients must be grown or harvested within the county. There are no exception for staples, such as seasoning, oils or grain. If they are traveling, they will eat food only locally grown in that area, or take their local food with them. Their top priority is to grow enough food for themselves, then supplement their diets with items from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Click HERE to read more about this amazing adventure!


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