Tag Archives: environment

The Health Of America Starts On The Farm

English: Description: Concentrated animal feed...
English: Description: Concentrated animal feeding operation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Mark Bittman makes the point in his column at the New York Times today, that the biggest killer of Americans isn’t guns but industrial agriculture. A point I have made repeatedly with my family over the years.

…the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.

We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.

via Fixing Our Food Problem – NYTimes.com.

Fixing Our Food Problem - NYTimes.com - Google Chrome 5312015 53105 PM

Mark’s point, in the article, is that to change these thing will take time. He compares the fight to a long list of social changes in the past few centuries. And he is right…It will take time. It will also cost each of us. Both time and money will have to be invested in order to fundamentally change the way we produce our food.

You would think that something that isn’t even a generation old could be changed more easily than that. But the reality is there is a lot of money being made in the way or food policy has evolved. And the only real way that will change is if the ones’s making the money are forced to take responsibility for the consequences of their money making shortcuts. As long as the cost of our policies are passed on to the end consumer, and bad health is one of the major costs, nothing about the way we produce our food will ever change.

This isn’t something I blame on farmers, either… Most farmers don’t profit that much from the “real” food produced in America. But then again, I don’t consider the owners and managers of CAFOs or commodity growers to actually be farmers. They are just factory workers in a different type of factory… A food factory. And like the industrialization of other industries, the industrialization of farming has led to a host of abuses… Many of which we haven’t even become aware of yet.

Mark Bittman’s call for patience is probably the right one… But patience is a virtue we may find hard to live with if our food keeps making us sick…

Want to know more?


College Park Prairie in Deer Park

I used to drive by this site and not know the significance.

Good news! An amazing prairie remnant has been found in Deer Park. It is called the College Park Prairie, named after an adjacent elementary school. This is a 53-acre prairie pothole remnant with a full complement of pimple mounds and potholes. It supports an array of wildlife that includes pocket gophers, unusual and often elegant insects, grassland birds including Henslow’s, Le Conte’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, and nesting Eastern Meadowlarks and Loggerhead Shrikes.

Go read the rest of the post at Save a national treasure | Native Plant Society of Texas.

It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Spring

Apple Blossom Time

Over the weekend the signs of spring began to reach out and shake my senses. Apple trees are breaking bud and sending forth blooms. This has been one of the first winters since we planted them that all of the leaves have been off the trees at one time. In past years we have had leaves on the apple trees all winter long. Most years I pick a couple of small apples that come from blooms set late in the fall.

The first azalea blooms have opened on the northeast side of the house. I see irises blooming in the bed out back. The springtime green of white clover is making mounds in the yard. The daytime highs have been in the 70’s for a the past two weeks, and have passed 80° on more than one occasion in the protected south side of the house.

The oak trees above the house are all showing that sheen of new leaves just breaking bud. The pecans though, are still holding bare wind burnished limbs to the sun. The same holds true for the white, smooth, barkless limbs of the sycamore trees in the woods out back.

The main weather pattern that has become almost constant in the past few years is the wind. It seems that we seldom have more than a  few hours of respite from the constant wind off the Gulf. Between the wind and the drought that has covered our area, the burn pile of downed limbs each winter has become quite large.


Azalea Spring

Photos Available:

  • “Apple Blossom Time”
  • “Azalea Spring”
  • Let’s Talk Spring! (handyhomeownergirl.com)
  • My apple trees haven’t produced fruit in a couple of years but they are still alive, is there anything I can do to try and jumpstart them again? (greenanswers.com)

Bill McKibben and The Moral Math of Climate Change [Speaking of Faith® from APM]

This hour, with Bill McKibben, we seek perspective, both factual and moral, on human responsibility in a changing natural world. McKibben wrote The End of Nature, the first book on climate change for a general readership, in 1989. “Only in the disappearance of nature as we have known it,” he warned, “may we finally realize how essential it has been to human civilization.” Yet it’s hard to know how to orient our minds and our lives to a sweeping scenario like this and to the constantly accelerating data on global warning that comes at us daily. So we’ll seek foundational knowledge we can trust that Bill McKibben has gathered in two decades of being ahead of this curve, and we’ll explore the evolution of his moral imagination and his action from a focus on personal responsibility to a sense that what might save the planet would also renew the skill of neighborliness and the meaning of human community.

From American Public Media this is Speaking of Faith, public radio’s conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas. Today, Bill McKibben on “The Moral Math of Climate Change.”

And so begins this weeks podcast of Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet. If you have any interest in Climate Change you really should listen to the show. Krista and Bill hold a conversation about the history of Bill’s involvement and the history of the climate change “movement”.

An interesting part of the conversation revolved around Farmers’ Markets…

Mr. McKibben: But the real reason that’s so interesting that we like farmers’ markets, I think, turns out to be they’re different. Parasociologists followed shoppers first through the supermarket, then through the farmers’ market. Everybody’s been to the supermarket. You know how it works. You walk in, you fall into a light fluorescent trance. You visit the stations of the cross around the perimeter of the supermarket. You emerge with your items. That’s it. When they followed people around the farmers’ market, they were having, on average, 10 times as many conversations per visit. OK?

Cheap fossil fuel, you know, heated the planet. It made us rich. But it also, maybe most profoundly, made us the first kind of our species who’ve had no practical need of our neighbors for anything. We tell ourselves, you know, what a great chic thing we’ve invented, the farmers’ market.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Mr. McKibben: In fact, that’s how all human beings shopped for food until 50 years ago and 80 percent of the planet still does.

Ms. Tippett: Still does, yeah.

Mr. McKibben: No wonder it feels good. I mean, this is what we’re built for.

via Transcript.

If you have never listened to the show before you might want to check it out. Over the years they have put out some really thought provoking shows, most of which you download to your favorite mp3 player.

via Bill McKibben and The Moral Math of Climate Change [Speaking of Faith® from APM].

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