English: Honey bees cleaning the last of the h...

English: Honey bees cleaning the last of the honey off of a comb which has been processed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Initially, I was excited to see Time Magazine‘s August 19th issue featuring bees and the problem of colony collapse disorder, “The Plight Of The Honeybee;” [1] however, my enthusiasm quickly dissipated when I discovered that the article fails by not addressing the impact of factory farming as a major contributor to the demise of bees.

The steady disappearance of bees is a frequent topic of concern for conservationists, beekeepers and farmers, as well as green bloggers.  Our blog, Live Green Be Green, follows the subject of pollinators on a frequent basis, commenting on bees, in particular, noting that they play an important role in the maintenance of the food supply as we know it.  While it may be true (as stated in Time’s article) that the demise of bees would not destroy the food supply totally, it is important to note that this phenomenon would change the landscape of the food supply, resulting in the loss of many fruits and vegetables that we enjoy eating. [2]

Much of the attention on the causes of colony collapse disorder in this article is attributed to pesticides, viruses and fungal infections, with only casual references made to factory farming of bees.  Additionally, the comments made deal with factory farming in general, citing the increase in widespread industrialized agricultural systems that have adopted crop monocultures, which effectively “create a desert for bees,” starving them of the nectar and pollen they need to survive. [3]  Also, mention is made of a possible future with the industrialization of beekeeping culminating in fewer entities running larger operations or even the use of robotic bees to pollinate crops.  Clearly, this article ignores the problem of factory farming of bees.  Under this scenario, bees are transported from the natural locales and maintained in smaller boxes, which resemble tenements or file cabinets.  These actions subject the creatures to unnatural living conditions.  Also, the bees are forced to undergo other harmful practices, such as wing clipping of new queen bees to prevent the natural migration of these bees and their soldiers to form their own colonies, thereby reducing the honey production in the prior colony.These practices typically result in genetic manipulation of the bees and in their premature death. [4]

To learn more about the true plight of bees, we here at LGBG by PMD United encourage you to see “No More Honey,” a film documentary that  raises awareness of the practice of factory farming of bees. [5]  We remain dedicated to learning and sharing information that promotes a healthy environment for ourselves and future generations.  We feel it is mandatory that when sharing  information, we should seek the complete story.  In terms of our food supply, we feel that while it may be possible to “exist” without many of the plant species that we have come to love, it is important that we abandon harmful practices that deliberately destroy these products.  We feel that bees make our world a better place.  To protect them is to live green, be green.


[1]  Walsh, Brian “The Plight Of The Honeybee.”  Time 19 Ap. 2013: 24-31. Print.
[2]  “Honeybee Shortage– An Impending Economic Disaster.”  http://livegreenbegreen.com/2013/05/07/honeybee-shortage-an-impending-economic-disaster 7 May, 2013.
[3]  Walsh, p. 30.
[4]  http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2011/07/13/that-s-no-storm-its-a-swarm.aspx
[5]  http://livegreenbegreen.com/2013/08/08/colony-collapse-documentary-addresses-global-destruction-of-bee-population/

Wwoofing by the sea

Wwoofing by the sea (Photo credit: Peter Blanchard)

If you have a green thumb, need a vacation, and you are willing to work approximately 4 hours a day in exchange for room and board, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) may be your ticket to paradise.  WWOOF is an exchange program that started in the United Kingdom in 1971 for people at least 16 years old, who are interested in organic farming and travel.  You, the WWOOFer, pay your travel costs, but do pay any living costs, and the host farmers do not pay you a wage.  Rather, for a period of time predetermined by the WWOOFer and the host, you get hands-on experience in organic and sustainable farming, and the farm gets extra hands.

WWOOFing opportunities exist globally.  Those interested can WWOOF in the United States or abroad.  An excellent place to begin your WWOOF journey is at the website, www.wwoofinternational.org/.  This is a comprehensive site that thoroughly explains the program, requirements and rules for participation.  This site has links for both volunteers and for organic farms interested in participating in this wonderful program.  The site also includes links to specific WWOOF organizations in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.  This site specifically addresses any concerns one may have regarding security, VISAS, insurance requirements and even specialty farming opportunities.

WWOOF presents a great opportunity for summer vacations.  The host opportunities come in all sizes and shapes.  A review of the site shows that there even are opportunities for family participation.  What better way is there to spend a summer vacation learning something new and valuable as a family while also providing a service to the environment?  This would be a truly unforgettable vacation with an added bonus of free time to tour places of interest while making a difference in sustainable living.  This also is a great opportunity for high school and college students to enjoy unique cultural experiences during their summer vacations.

For anyone still planning a summer vacation, who is interested in learning about organic farming and who does not mind a few hours of work in exchange for room and board, WWOOF certainly should be a consideration.  With our busy lives and the constraints of urban living, we often are limited in the ability to learn many aspects of organic farming.  WWOOF links individuals interested in learning about organic farming with experts all over the world, who are more than willing to share their knowledge.  This truly is a great way to live green, be green.


Sources for this article:

1.  www.wwoofinternational.org/
2.  http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/06/15/wwoofing.volunteer.farming/index.html

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!


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.




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/


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.


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/


Seed-of-Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each year the arrival of spring brings with it an increased interest in gardening and “growing things”– whether it is flowers, vegetables or fruits,  and this presents a great opportunity to discuss seed conservation and its role in sustaining life.  A seed is defined in several ways, including (1)  the grains or ripened ovules of plants used for sowing; (2)a propagative animal structure (milt, semen), and (3) a source of development or growth. [1]  Any discussion of a seed generally acknowledges its connection to a germ, origin, root or creation.  The conclusion here is that life as we know it is not sustainable without seeds.

Despite the reality that seeds are the root of life, statistics by the USDA indicate that over the past 30 years, industrial agriculture practices have resulted in a huge loss of biodiversity and the extinction of over 80,000 plant varieties.[2]  The reason for this is that industrial agriculture relies on large homogenous crop production, with the primary crops being corn, soy, wheat or potatoes.  Under this scenario, mass production of single crops affords farmers easier cultivation and harvest, and is deemed to culminate in a guaranteed food source for a greater percentage of the world population.

The truth is that industrial agriculture takes a heavy toll on the world’s plant supply.  First of all, the industrial agriculture movement has resulted in the creation of seed monopolies, with a few companies owning patents to the majority of seeds available to farmers, including GMOs and hybrids.  The farmers are prohibited from reusing new seeds from the previous year’s crop production because of patent violations.  Secondly, from a botanical standpoint, crop homogenization strips the ability of plants to adapt to climate change, pests and diseases.  Thirdly, the presumption that large homogenous crops will provide an adequate food supply for the world is erroneous because food availability does not necessarily translate to access to food.  Finally, we must not ignore the potential danger of the reliance on a single or a few large crops to feed a population.  We only need to look to the well documented devastating famine to the Irish population during the potato blight in the mid-1800s to observe the results of such misconceptions.[3]

The good news on seed conservation is that many individuals and businesses globally are dedicated to the protection of the world’s seed supply from extinction and from the control of corporate monopolies.  Many of these efforts stem from smallholder farms and peasant bred food growers.  Interestingly, the majority of these farmers are women, who understand that the story of seeds is “the story of  us”.[2]  Their work involves not only the cataloguing and use of a variety of seeds, but also records of recipes for delicious meals from their bounty.

It is important that proponents of the green movement recognize the urgent need to support seed conservation and biodiversity.  To that end, we urge you to support independent seed companies when you make your seed purchases.  Also, consider donating to programs that support smallholder farms.  Educate yourself on the large corporate monopolies, who are buying up many of the seed companies and inhibiting biodiversity.  The fact is that “farmers will stop growing food that we refuse to eat”. [4]

In conclusion, seeds are the major thread in the fabric of our lives.  They are a food source, as well as key players in the manufacturing industry and environmental protection.  To fight for seeds is to fight for sustainability.  To do this is to live green, be green.


Sources for this Article:

1.  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seed.
2.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ28IC63hlI.
3.  http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/famine/blight.html
4.  http://www.emergencyhomesteader.com/a-complete-list-of-seed-companies-owned-by-monsanto-and-a-complete-list-of-seed-companies-not-owned-by-monsanto/.
5.  http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/pagine/eng/arca/cerca.lasso?-id_pg=36.
6.  http://www.fsg.org/tabid/191/ArticleId/181/Default.aspx?srpush=true.


While browsing the Internet this morning, I discovered an interesting article on the impact of the food industry on the environment.  This article features commentary by Arlin Wasserman, Chair of the Sustainable Business Leadership Council at the Culinary Institute of America.  Wasserman acknowledges the food industry’s inability to show environmental improvement, its lack of transparency, and the failure of some leading companies to alter the status quo.  He states that these issues create an incongruence with both the younger generation and the overall population, who are becoming more enlightened regarding the need to grow and harvest food in a more soundly manner.

This article lists some very relevant statistics regarding the agricultural industry:

  • Farming and ranching accounts for 40% of arable land in the world.
  • Farming and ranching uses 30% to 70% of fresh water.
  • Approximately 50% of greenhouse emissions can be attributed to farming and ranching.
  • Second only to oil, coffee is one of the most valuable legally traded commodities worldwide.
  • Half of the food produced globally is wasted due to improper harvesting and storage.

A major concern voiced by Wasserman is the change that has taken place regarding consumers’ relationship with food consumption and preparation.  We now rely on restaurants, carryouts and delicatessens for the majority of our meals.  This phenomenon results in fewer people even knowing how to cook or being informed about the sources of food or the ingredients used in meal preparations.

With his work with the Culinary Institute of Art, Mr. Wasserman aims to address problems with the food industry.  This organization strives to implement better decisionmaking about health, selection of food and our relationship and impact on the environment .  Hopefully, with the help of emerging associations such as Culinary Institute of Art, we can live green, be green.

After spending a considerable amount of time browsing the Internet, reading magazines and researching “green” initiatives, I am convinced that most people are aware of measures they can take to promote a greener life.  I also believe that most people do some things, either voluntarily or as a result of demands made by employers, neighborhood associations or government mandates that impose taxes or even penalties for failure to comply with environmental regulations.  However, I have noticed some extreme practices or procedures that are being investigated through experiments now but may become a reality.

  • Some scientists have proposed putting a ring of sunlight-scattering particles around the equator to reduce the radiation effects of the sun hitting the planet and thereby reducing greenhouse gas effects.  This idea would be tried in the most extreme circumstances and would cost trillions of dollars.
  • Other research has focused on the ocean and includes the manipulation of plankton growth through fertilization to create larger growth to suck up excess carbon dioxide or even “stirring” up the ocean with large pipes to bring rich nutrients to the surface to feed and produce huge algae blooms that would in turn suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it on the ocean floor.
  • Some local jurisdictions, such as the city of Los Angeles, have worms in bins in eating areas.  The worms eat discarded food particles and turn them into compost that is used in gardens.  Imagine worms becoming a kitchen staple.
  • Researchers have consistently emphasized the impact of changing our diets and exercise regimens. Statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that the meat industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse emissions through the use of fertilizer, animal manure, energy used to transport food.  If all Americans between 10 and 74 walked a half hour a day, carbon emissions in the U.S. would be reduced by 64 tons.  Eating less red meat also would help.
  • Most jurisdictions are looking towards banning the use of plastic bags and incandescent light bulbs.  We all are becoming accustomed to the transition to fluorescent light bulbs.  Also the use of paper bags or reusable cloth bags is gaining momentum in most communities.
Going green ranges from practical to extreme solutions to protect the environment.  Maybe if we all read the Live Science countdown to craziest ideas, we would be more motivated to incorporate practical green measures to avoid resorting to extreme measures down the road.  Let’s be practical– live green, be green!