A Wonderful Article by Jake Linger of the Crofton-West County Gazette

LGBG is committed to global initiatives that make our world greener. The plastic bag project that we are working on with Lori Robinson and Africa Inside is one of these initiatives which is gaining steam thanks to talented journalist like jake Linger.

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Credit: www.thatsfit.com

Being that it is a requirement of living, it is likely that you have seen a grocery store in your lifetime. (If not, congrats to you for this incredible feat in modern society).  Among the common items of bread, eggs, and cheese that you would normally find in the grocery store is the now ubiquitous Greek Yogurt section. Popular for being rich in protein, and its smooth texture, Greek yogurt has taken off as an industry within the past five years. In fact, “…Yogurt production in New York…has tripled between 2007 and 2013.”[1] What yogurt companies and John Stamos have not told you however are the consequences the production of their products have had on the environment.

Unlike traditional yogurt, the Greek variety, “…Yields huge quantities of acid whey, a byproduct that kills aquatic life during decomposition.” In the production cycle, acid whey (which is common component in the making of inexpensive butters and creams) is one of the byproducts that separates from milk after it has been curdled.[2] Yet, because of the aforementioned boom in production, yogurt companies are left with a tremendous amount of waste that cumulatively can greatly impact our oceans, rivers, and streams. Acid whey naturally takes away oxygen from water which has the effect of progressively killing any aquatic life in the area. For example, after an Ohio cheese factory accidentally spilled acid whey into nearby Sandy Creek, close to 5,400 fish were killing along the 1.5 mile river.[3] These figures are pretty extraordinary, but can only provide a glimpse into the potential environmental ramifications if a larger scaled spill were to happen.

Currently, for every three or four ounces of milk, Chobani and other companies can produce only one ounce of creamy Greek yogurt. The rest becomes acid whey.”[4] So what can we do to reverse this trend? According to The Verge and The Modern Farmer several sustainable options are currently being explored. The most promising idea in use is located at a farm in Scipio Center, N.Y where they have successfully turned acid whey into methane, which then is converted into usable electricity. In a simplified and less disgusting version of the process, acid whey and manure are combined in tanks with heat for approximately 20 days. Here the cultures in acid whey break down the contents of the mixture which, in this case, releases methane embedded within the manure where the gas is used as a raw material for electrical generators which power the farm.

Yet, the anaerobic digesters which are required tools for the New York farm require millions in capital investment and are not likely to be available to the local farmer. As a result, we need to cultivate more practical ideas to meet this growing challenge which faces our environment and aquatic life. Here at LGBG we want to empower you with this information to go out and make a difference. Together lets collaborate and inspire to create a solution so that we can all live green, and be green.

A class photo of the 110th United States Senate.

A class photo of the 110th United States Senate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent Senate rejection of an amendment to the Farm Bill, which would permit states to require labeling of GMOs in food and beverages clearly represents a suppression of consumers’ right to vote.  A vote is defined as a “formal expression of a wish or will”.  Therefore, when we purchase food and beverages, our selection is in essence a vote.  The selection of food and beverages should be a willful choice; however, the withholding of information on food and beverage ingredients suppresses the consumers’ right to make informed choices.

During a debate on this amendment, which includes “generous support for crops like corn and soybeans that are often genetically modified“, senators from farm states overwhelmingly opposed the food labeling amendment.  They feel that the issue of labeling should be left to the federal government.  Also, they voiced concern that food labeling would result in increased costs of food.  The supporters of the food labeling amendment state that a major problem with GMOs is that “the modified seeds “are floating from field to field, contaminating pure crops”. [1]

Upon analysis of the motives of the proponents and opponents of this amendment, is understandable that each side is backed by private interest groups, with the giant seed companies pushing against the amendment and the organic food companies lobbying to pass the food labeling amendment.  It is disturbing, however, that the FDA and USDA have adopted the position that “the engineered foods they have approved are safe– so safe, they do not even need to be labeled as such– and cannot be significantly distinguished from conventional
varieties.[1]  This position is a direct attack on consumers’ right to know and its right to “vote” in the marketplace by making informed choices on food and beverage selections.  Clearly, the Senate is overstepping its boundaries.

As consumers, we have to protect our rights, particularly those that involve our very personal choices, i.e., food purchases.  It is amazing that Congress is spending such an inordinate amount of time and effort to ensure that the American public has access to every detail of the Benghazi attack, the IRS‘ attack on the Tea Party or detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo, while working to deny us access to information that affects our health, survival and “right to vote”.  I imagine that most readers would agree that the ingredients in the food that we feed our families trumps the details of the Benghazi attack.

Now more than ever we have to be extremely careful of protecting our voting rights, starting with the election of “public servants“.  We need individuals in Congress who represent us and who trust us to be able to make informed choices, not those who would willfully suppress our right to information.  The green movement needs your voice now.  Let’s fight to protect our right to choose our food based on complete and accurate information on ingredients.  To do so is to live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:

[1]  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/23/senate-gm-food-labeling-farm-bill.
[2] http://www.politicususa.com/bernie-sanders-calls-corporate-controlled-senate-rejecting-gmo-labels.html

The ever-growing movement to repeal the very controversial Monsanto Protection Act has garnered the support of both the Tea Party and the green movement, thereby breeding strange bedfellows.  The Monsanto Protection Act “allows Monsanto and other companies to continue selling genetically engineered seeds, even if a court has blocked them from doing so”. [1]  In recent months, federal courts have ruled against the Department of Agriculture, who approved the sale of genetically engineered seeds, stating that the agency acted hastily in their approval, without giving careful consideration to the seeds’ “potential harm“.  In response to these rulings, the seed industry lobby fought back and was successful in attaching the Monsanto Protection Act as a resolution to the spending bill signed into law in March.  Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) took note of the rider and spoke out against it on the Senate floor.  Unfortunately, his voice fell on a typically empty floor, resulting in Tester’s failure to garner enough votes to block the passage of the rider.  This bill then was signed by President Obama as a part of the massive spending bill.

Now we see true activism at work.  Many conservatives, namely the Tea Party, are voicing opposition to the Monsanto Protection Act, particularly on the underhanded way this resolution was passed.  Of course, proponents of the green movement are opposed to the Monsanto Protection Act based on environmental and health concerns. [2]  While the reasons for opposition of the Monsanto Protection Act may vary in that the Tea Party opposes “the special interest loophole for friends of Congress” [3], and the green movement opposes GMOs [2], the opposition itself reflects a coalition unencumbered by politics.  The goal here is a unified one:  namely to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act.

Such activism is refreshing in this current toxic and partisan political atmosphere, which typically results in gridlock and ineffective action or inaction.  We now see the potential power of the people at work.  The Monsanto Protection Act is a bad deal on so many fronts.  We need a united stand to repeal this act.  We here at LGBG urge our readers to contact your senator (see list below) [4] and voice your opposition to the Monsanto Protection Act.  To do so is to live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:

1.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/monsanto-protection-act-tea-party-partiots_n_3000073.html.
2.  http://livegreenbegreen.com/2013/04/25/the-power-of-seeds-the-main-ingredient-to-sustain-life/.
3.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/jeff-merkley-monsanto-repeal_n_3288209.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green.
4.  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

Percentage of national population suffering fr...

Percentage of national population suffering from malnutrition, according to United Nations statistics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new book by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Edible Insects, proposes the consideration of insects, particularly beetles, wasps and caterpillars as a source of nutrition to address problems of food insecurity.  The FAO notes that many insects, including worms, grasshoppers and cicadas are high in “protein, fat and mineral content” and can be eaten whole or ground into a powder or paste, and incorporated into other foods. [1]  In many countries, insects are considered delicacies, principally because of their nutritious value.

It seems reasonable that insect farming could become a very relevant industry for human and animal feeding in this time in which we are confronted with  overwhelming problems of global population explosions and urbanization.  We struggle to find adequate solutions to an ever-increasing demand for food and the persistent  negative environmental impact created by its production and delivery.  The challenges arising from livestock production in terms of land and water pollution and over-grazing, along with its adverse effect on climate change due to increased carbon footprint, is well documented, as is the adverse impact of crop production, including, but not limited to, the introduction of harmful pesticides into the air, soil and water and industrial agricultural, which leads to loss of genetic diversity and extinction of some plant species.  The opportunity to explore insect farming as a possible solution to food insecurity is exciting and should not be ignored.

A key factor to successfully introduce edible insects as an integral component of the food supply would involve addressing the perception of insects in western cultures.  To date, insects are considered “disgusting” despite the acknowledgement that as environmentalists, we should feel a kinship to all creatures.  We find that there are so many insects that we would rather do without.  Also, although it is generally known that in the process of industrial food production, it is impossible to totally alleviate bug parts from the food that we eat, citizens in western cultures have not accepted the idea of eating whole insects. [2]

Interestingly, the subject of edible insects is being raised at the same time as the 17-year cicada is making its clamorous ascent to the east coast.  As these insects bore their way to the earth’s surface, excitement and curiosity about them abound.  Discussions include their nutritional value.  Local newspapers carry articles about them,including recipes.  They have been dubbed “the shrimp of the land“.

It is inevitable that we find long-term and ethical solutions to food insecurity, and the consideration of edible insects definitely deserves our attention.  With the concomitant ascent of the 17-year cicada, we have a unique opportunity to try entomophagy (name given to insect eating) and to test the possibility of utilizing insects as a dietary staple.  As a plus, cicadas are natural, unlike GMOs, and they are in abundance. [3]

We here at LGBG invite you, our readers, to send us feedback about your experiences with cicadas, including comments, pictures and even recipes.  We will post as many as we can.  As always, live green, be green!

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Sources for this article:

1.  http://allafrica.com/stories/201305141429.html
2.  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/02/bugs-in-food_n_1467694.html
3.  http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Cicadas-The-Shrimp-of-The-Land-206945321.html

 

U.S. Supreme Court building.

U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that by growing beans without purchasing new seeds, an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto’s patent on soybean seeds totally addresses the issue of patent rights, but ignores the germane issue– the right of a corporation to monopolize the seed industry.  In response to this ruling, Monsanto’s top lawyer, David F. Snively, stated, “[t]his court ruling ensures that the longstanding principles of patent law apply to breakthrough 21st century technologies that are central to meeting the growing demands of our planet and its people”.

 

While this decision may be correct on the subject of patent rights, it truly flies in the face of the green movement and sustainability.  To allow a corporation to advance technologies that eliminate crop diversity with the creation of a few homogenous crops (soy, potatoes, corn and wheat), supposedly to address the problem of world hunger, is a very dangerous practice.  Monsanto, along with other large corporations, have endorsed practices that have included taking over many seed companies and reducing farmers from positions of independent owners to “renters” of their products.  These industrial agricultural practices have resulted in the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of more than 80,000 plant varieties.

 

While Monsanto speaks of advancing seed technology, it must be recognized that the company is sewing seeds of deception.  The company’s sense of victory from this Supreme Court decision carries a caveat that while it may be a victory on patent rights, it is not the final word on acceptable agricultural practices.  We do not have to invest in Monsanto or purchase any products in which Monsanto is invested.  The bottom line is that farmers will not grow what consumers refuse to buy.  The choice is ours, and with research, consumer education and activism, consumers can restrict their investments and purchases to products from businesses who do not set out to manipulate and control our food supply.

 

Monsanto may be able to dupe climate change deniers and even the Supreme Court, but the proponents of the green movement, the true stewards of this planet, will not be duped!  As always, let’s live green, be green.

 

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Sources for this article:

 

1.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/supreme-court-monsanto_n_3266319.html.
2.  http://livegreenbegreen.com/2013/04/25/the-power-of-seeds-the-main-ingredient-to-sustain-life/

 

Orthographic map of Africa

Orthographic map of Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We here at LGBG would like to take this opportunity to update our readers and supporters on Africa Inside’s project to eliminate plastic bag pollution from the African countryside.  This program is the brainchild of Lori Robinson, Africa Adventures Specialist for the Jane Goodall Institute.  Lori has dedicated considerable time and effort to promote conservation through the development of programs to educate Africans about the protection of its most precious resources, wildlife and environmental.

LGBG is proud to sponsor and partner with Lori and Africa Inside to rid the African countryside of discarded plastic bags, which kill wildlife when ingested out of  curiosity, clog rivers and streams, get caught up in trees and bushes and release toxins when burned.  Lori’s “bag exchange” program has been successful as a simple and effective solution to plastic bag pollution.  For every 25 bags picked up from the countryside and turned in on exchange days, each individual receives a sturdy reusable tote from America, which are very popular and sought after by African citizens.  We have been working diligently to get donations of reusable bags, as well as funds to ship the bags to Lori.  We thank you for your support to date, and we urge you to continue to help Africa Inside advance this wonderful cause.

Africa Inside’s next plastic litter cleanup will take place in Samburu, Kenya in August 2013.  We still are still collecting bags and financial donations to ensure the success of this project.  For information on how you can help, please visit the Africa Inside website at http://africainside.org/globalconservation/one-wordplastics/ or contact us here at LGBG.com.  Africa Inside is supported by the Creative Visions Foundation, a publicly supported 501(c)3.  Upon receipt of donations, each contributor will receive the necessary receipt for tax deductions.

Once again, LGBG thanks you for your support to date for Africa Inside’s mission.  To support such a wonderful cause is to live green be green.

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English: Placing honeybees for pumpkin pollina...

English: Placing honeybees for pumpkin pollination, Mohawk Valley, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steadily increasing disappearance of honeybees since 2006 has farmers, beekeepers, scientists and government officials all abuzz, largely because of the impending economic disaster that would occur without bee pollination.  This really is a major problem because “one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honeybees.  The agricultural industry attributes more than $20 billion of its worth to pollination.[1]

Currently, the USDA, scientists, beekeepers and growers are working frantically to identify the cause of death of bees or “colony collapse disorder” (CCD).  It appears that there are several factors contributing to this problem, including the parasitic Varroa mite and pesticides.  Researchers are very familiar with the Varroa mites, noting that they attach themselves to bees and feed off of their fluids, thereby weakening them.  A potential solution posed for the mite problem is to breed bees that can withstand these mites.  Recent research also has pointed to the adverse effects of neonicotinoids, a pesticide that has few adverse effects on mammals, but are shown to damage the brains of bees.  Additional causes of CCD listed by the EPA and the USDA include “poor nutrition, reduced genetic diversity, the Nosema gut parasite, emerging viruses and a bacterial disease called European foulbrood“.[1]

It is interesting to examine the potential impact of the loss of honeybee pollination on our food supply.  It it important to note the special and unique role of some pollinators in seed production, but not in the growth of the germinated seeds.  The loss of these pollinators would trigger the disappearance of these seed, the very origin of these plant species.  Some examples include carrots,onions, celery, mustard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, turnips, caraway, coriander, buckwheat, fennel, alfalfa, sesame and several variety of beans.  Many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat require honeybee pollination and would be adversely affected by the loss of pollinators, resulting in increase cost due to shortages or even total lack of available crops.  Imagine no strawberries, peppers (several varieties), apples, kiwifruit, watermelon, cantaloupes or squash, just to name a few. [2]

Now that we recognize the need to reduce our consumption of red meat and to increase the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets for purposes of healthier lifestyles and environmental protection, it is a matter or urgency to address this threat to our food supply.  We all can do something to help.  For starters, we have to educate ourselves on the process of pollination.  An excellent resource on this subject is the Pollinator Partnership at www.pollinator.org/html.  This site has wonderful suggestions on planting fruits, vegetables and flowering plants that attract pollinators.  Also, you can find information to get involved in the celebration of Pollinator Week 2013 coming up in June. [3] Secondly, keep in mind will not try to sell products that we refuse to buy.  To that end, please make every effort to buy local and organic.  These fruits and vegetables do not contain harmful pesticides that harm the soil, the air, water or pollinators, such as honeybees.

The pollination problem is a complex one that has several causes and will take time to solve.  The relationship of honeybees to the earth is simple:  Bees equal food.  With that said, we have a duty to protect the honeybees.  Our lives depend on it.  To do so is to live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:

[1]  http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/02/18021285-pesticides-arent-the-biggest-factor-in-honeybee-die-off-epa-and-usda-say?lite
[2]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees.
[3]  http://www.pollinator.org/