Tag Archives: environment

Is Everybody Doing It?

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We Hippies live near Toledo, OH and Handsome Hippie Hubby works there.  Last week we witnessed what happens when world comes to a screeching halt for nearly half a million people when an algae bloom on Lake Erie contaminated the city’s water supply.  Residents of the city and many surrounding communities (thankfully not ours) were told not to drink, or even touch, the water coming out of their taps.

image from WTOL Toledo News 11

image from WTOL Toledo News 11 – a water sample taken from Lake Erie during the Toledo water emergency.

This was the first time Toledo was shut down in that way, but the underlying issue with Lake Erie has been a topic of concern for environmentalists for years. Harmful algae blooms are becoming an increasing issue around the world. They are toxic to humans and cause immense damage to the ecological balance of the area they grow in.  Algae is a natural thing, of course, but this is nature run amok.  It is caused by a variety of issues from sewage in the water to chemicals from industrial dumping but the primary problem is run-off from industrial agriculture and lawn chemicals.

When the news broke and we began learning what was happening and why, Handsome Hippie Hubby made a comment that went something like this, “How can this be happening? Everyone seems to be becoming so much more aware of the importance of mindful living and then you hear about things like this.”

I didn’t have an answer. But it caused me to start thinking.  Is it true that everyone is becoming aware of the importance of mindful living?

Is Everybody Doing It? | LazyHippieMama.comA few months ago I heard the term, “confirmation bias.”  This is the idea that you tend to find support to back up the ideas you already have. The more deeply entrenched your beliefs are, the more likely you are to find reasons to keep believing.

Taken a step further, we create a world for ourselves that supports our beliefs. If you are a Protestant and a Republican you will go to church and meet other Protestants. You will work with other Republicans to support your candidates. You make friends within that framework. You build networks within those groups. It begins to feel like EVERYONE is a Protestant and a Republican.  Confirmation bias such as this can be so powerful that it can be baffling, or even offensive, when you meet someone who is of a different religious or political belief system.  How can they believe THAT when it’s SO CLEAR that everyone else believes something else?

So I began to wonder. Is it true that “people” are becoming more aware of the importance of mindful living or have there always been a group of people who felt that it was important and now that our family is beginning to think as they do we are being assimilated into that tribe?

Because WE think it’s vitally important to consume less and tread lightly upon the earth, to seek peaceful resolution to conflict, and to live in right relationship with our Creator and our neighbors are we simply surrounding ourselves with others who believe as we do? Or is it possible that little ripples of change really are coursing through our society?

It’s “What Do You Think? Wednesday” and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Do you think that, as a whole, people (Americans? “Western” cultures? Humans everywhere?) are placing more importance on the environment and our connection to the planet and each other? Is the human race just plodding along as it always has with some feeling one way and others following a different path? Or are “the crunchies” the weird minority?

Is everybody doing it? | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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The FDA Outlawed Trans Fats and That’s Why We Avoid GMOs

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No-GMOThis week the FDA made an official statement that trans Fats are not good for you and they will (probably) no longer be permitted in food… a few years from now.  This is why we avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our home.  Here’s my logic:

First, let me assure you that, yes I do understand that transfat and GMOs are not in any way the same thing.

Yet, in a way they are.  Follow me along the bunny trail, here…

Trans Fat is what happens when you add hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solid.  It was first introduced as a food in 1911 when Crisco hit the market shelves.  Yes… 102 years ago.

During World War II butter was rationed and the sales of hydrogenated vegetable oil (Crisco and margarine) sky-rocketed.

About 20 years later The American Heart Association began an active campaign to teach people how the saturated fats in animal products, namely meat and butter, were going to clog their arteries, cause heart attacks and kill them.  Doctors started urging people to switch from butter to margarine.  Trans fats were everywhere.

In the 1980s people were having fits because fast food places were so far behind the times.  They were murdering the population by cooking french fries in animal fat!  Consumers demanded they switch to hydrogenated vegetable oil.

sad-mcdonald-150In the early 1990s some very persuasive research began to be released showing that trans fats actually substantially increased the risk of heart disease as well as other diseases.  Consumers demanded that fast food places stop using them. (It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for McDonald’s.)

In 2002 the US government officially agreed with the research.  Trans fat was not fit for human consumption in any amount.

In 2006 a law was passed requiring food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fat in their product.

In 2013 the US government takes the first official steps toward making the sale of foods containing trans fats illegal by issuing this statement:

Part of the FDA’s responsibility to the public is to ensure that food in the American food supply is safe. Therefore, due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs (trans fats), FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, for short. If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.

As I understand it, this statement, boiled down, means that it is likely that sometime in the next few years food manufacturers will have to stop using a product that has been scientifically proven to be unfit for human consumption for more than 20 years now.

Let me say that another way… if you are a 21 year old adult very nearly every single processed food you have eaten in your entire life has contained an additive that the government has known to be deadly since before you were born.  If you have a baby this year, that additive MIGHT be banned before your child starts school.

The food manufactures promised it was safe. Scientists fed it to rats and told us it was safe. Doctors urged their heart patients (the very people most susceptible to its dangers) to use it.  The government allowed it to be sold… FOR A QUARTER OF A CENTURY AFTER IT WAS PROVEN TO BE HARMFUL.

Now… what does that have to do with GMOs?

"Come on, Charlie Brown. This time you can trust me."

“Come on, Charlie Brown.

This time you can trust me.”

Last spring I wrote a post that would turn out to be quite the firestorm called What I Learned About GMOs From 9 Farmers, A Monsanto Employee, and A Whole Bunch Of Reading.  I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory.  I was trying to get to the bottom of a mystery.  My question was, “If GMOs are so terrible, why do farmers use them?”

The discussion that took place was wonderful.  People on both sides were kind and civil and polite (with the exception of a tiny group of conspiracy theorists who accused me of being a Monsanto “plant” in the blogosphere.  I never did exactly follow their logic but I promise I’m just me.)  I learned A LOT about biotech and the reasons why farmers use modified seed.  Farmers are very smart people. They have great reasons.

Still, I remained wary.

Over and over I heard, “They’ve been tested.” “Scientists have proven them to be safe.” “No harmful effects have been proven.”

Uh huh.

Just like scientists proved that margarine was the ticket to ridding the world of heart disease.

Call me skeptical but…  I’m just not convinced.

Look at the timeline, above.  GMOs hit the market around the same time that trans fats were first being seriously questioned… a mere 20 years ago (give or take).

If there is some evidence, now starting to come to light, that they are bad for us and if the scientific, business and governing communities move at about the same rate as previously shown that means that my toddler could have made me a grandmother long before GMOs will be banned.

But…

Removing GMOs from our food supply won’t be a simple matter of pulling margarine from the store shelves.  This is a modified crop being grown outdoors.  The pollen is being carried to native plants.  Animals, both wild and domestic are ingesting it.  It’s in our water.  It’s in our air.  It is everywhere.

How will it have impacted the world in another 20… 40… 102 years?  God only knows.

I’m not trying to be scary.  Really, I’m not.

I’m just trying to explain why I can’t accept that a food is safe just because it’s allowed by the government.  We eat some seriously toxic garbage in this country.

Do you know what is proven to be safe?

Food.

big haul

Remember the stuff that comes from nature?  Berries, picked from the vine, vegetables, dug from the earth, meat from healthy animals allowed to eat a natural diet, eggs from birds living in clean conditions…. these are things that our species has eaten and thrived upon since our first steps upon the earth.  It is what our bodies are designed to digest and take nourishment.  It is what we require to be healthy.

Making healthy choices in your diet doesn’t (nor should it!) require a PhD in chemistry.  You just need to pick things that are as close to nature as possible.  If it came out of a factory (or if it was grown from seeds that were “born” in a factory) it probably isn’t a good idea to eat it.

At least, that’s this humble hippie’s opinion.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Save A Little Green, Be A Little Green This Christmas – Part One – Gift Wrap

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My family loves Christmas time!  We are those people.

Every year, just before Halloween (yes, I said just before) we start to get itchy.  Can we listen to the Christmas music yet?  Put up the lights? Start baking cookies?

If you are the person who thinks stores should wait until after Thanksgiving to put out their Christmas stuff, we are the people that irritate the heck out of you… standing in the new holiday displays in mid-October trying on Santa hats and singing, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

It’s not that we don’t love the other autumn holidays.  In fact, autumn is wonderfully festive at our house. We trick or treat on Halloween, celebrate a birthday in October and 2 more in November and we always look forward to a big family feast on Thanksgiving.

It’s just that Christmas is so fun.  It’s a complete delight to the senses! The smell of pine and fresh baked goodies, the sight of the beautiful lights and decorations, the taste of a dozen different holiday treats, the sounds of the music, the feel of coming into a warm, cozy house after putting up decorations in the chilly outdoors.

And, as Christians, it’s an exciting time of year in terms of our faith, too.  Christ is born! God is with us! There is hope!  If you are a believer and you really listen to the words of the Christmas songs you can’t help but get the chills.

So, you see…. we are those people.

Now that you know that, I can admit this:  Christmas is a very hard time to be green.  There are food colorings, artificial flavors and GMOs, wrapping paper, batteries, electric lights and… ugh… the bane of every parent’s existence… plastic packaging!

I applaud those who are so dedicated as to be “zero waste” during the holidays.  Truly, you guys are awesome and an inspiration.  But I guess I’m just not there yet and, judging by the number of plastic Santa lawn ornaments I see, I don’t think most other folks are either.

Still, there are some ways that you can reduce your red and green carbon footprint over the next several weeks.  In Part One of this multi-part series I’m going to suggest that you can save yourself enough cash to keep yourself in peppermint latte for the month by not buying wrapping paper.

In the US there are FOUR MILLION TONS of trash from gift wrap and shopping bags each year! (source)  A lot of wrapping paper is made from recycled materials and is recyclable, certainly if you’re in a rush choosing the paper made from recycled paper is a better option, but the recycling process still takes a lot of resources. Reduction is always the gold standard!

Consider a few of these ideas from people far more clever and talented than me.  (click the photos to view the source and see just how they did it):

 

I can see Toddler-saurus Rex having a blast painting with these homemade stamps and the price - pretty much free - is just right for our budget!

I can see Toddler-saurus Rex having a blast painting with these homemade stamps and the price – pretty much free – is just right for our budget!

You can use the white or brown paper that's used to pack shipping boxes, or even brown paper bags to wrap your gifts. This link has some great ideas for adding a bit of sparkle.

You can use the white or brown paper that’s used to pack shipping boxes, or even brown paper bags to wrap your gifts. This link has some great ideas for adding a bit of sparkle.

 

A nice bottle of wine AND a funky pair of socks are two of my favorite things!

A nice bottle of wine AND a funky pair of socks: Two of my favorite things!

If you are willing to put a bit more effort into your paper you can create these gorgeous, elegant gift boxes from any old paper scraps you have!

If you are willing to put a bit more effort into your paper you can create these gorgeous, elegant gift boxes from any old paper scraps you have!

 

I adore this little package wrapped in old sheet music. It's so elegant!  This site also has several other great ideas, like using old photos to decorate your packages.

I adore this little package wrapped in old sheet music. It’s so elegant! This site also has several other great ideas, like using old photos to decorate your packages.

Your old map is the perfect wrapping paper for the traveler in your life.

Your old map is the perfect wrapping paper for the traveler in your life.

What else have you used as instead of traditional gift wrap?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama  by email, Facebook or Twitter to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

Symbols of Love that Show True Love

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It’s all well and good to talk about peace and love.

I’m as happy to use my peace-sign notebook made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper as the next hippie.

But is it possible that one popular symbol of lasting love is used to fund war and destroy the environment?

Not long ago I was contacted by Brilliant Earth and asked to help raise awareness about “conflict free” diamonds.

It’s not a subject that I have been well-informed about.  I started reading and was startled to learn that diamonds – the traditional symbol of lasting love – are often mined by children as young as 7 years old and adults who earn less in a year than my family earns in few days (and we are considered right at poverty level by US government standards!).  There are people in the world forced to mine at gunpoint. Mining companies wreak havoc on the land, leveling forests and destroying fertile farm land.  Profits from the diamond trade often go to fund horrible, bloody conflict and the miners (again, many of them children) become victims of horrific violence.

Miners may toil for unbelievably long hours in an attempt to earn a wage high enough to lift themselves out of poverty but the reality is they are destroying their bodies and their land. Children as young as American first-graders are sent to work, which takes away any chance they may have at a life-improving education.

Image: Souce

Image: Souce

An international diamond certification process, known as the Kimberly Process, was put into place in response to these issues. This process is an attempt to limit the trading, between nations, of diamonds being mined specifically for the purpose of funding military rebellion against standing governments.  However it has proven to be fairly limited, if not entirely ineffectual in helping the issue of diamond conflict and it does not address the human rights or environmental issues in any real way what-so-ever.

Brilliant Earth is a company that is striving to create a system in which diamonds are mined by well-paid workers, in safe conditions, with minimal effect on the surrounding eco-systems. The stones are then cut and polished by skilled tradesmen who are treated well and paid fairly. Revenues are being used to educate the children of the communities where the mines exist, provide medical care and generally create an improved quality of life.

If you are in the market for jewelry, I urge you to consider this: As in all things in this modern world, your money speaks volumes!

With your purchase you can support an environmentally sustainable system that promotes human welfare and a peaceful lifestyle, or you can support the continued bloodshed and destruction that has surrounded this industry for far too long.  With your purchase you can show true love, not only toward the recipient of the diamond, but toward your fellow-man.

If you would like to know more, Brilliant Earth has published this eye-opening infographic sharing the motivating reasons behind their business:
Blood Diamond Infographic

Reasons to Care Where Your Diamond Comes From provided by Brilliant Earth.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

How Hard Can It Be To Make a Quick No-GMO Meal?

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I live in a small town. Our food shopping choices are a family owned grocery that carries just the basics and has a small deli and meat counter or Dollar General.  There are no supermarkets here.  Once or twice a month we’ll trek 25 minutes down the road to the bigger small town and load up on groceries at Meijer.

We are a day away from shopping day and, while we have an abundance of zucchini and cherry tomatoes from the garden we are woefully short on staples. No bread, no tortillas, no flour to make bread or tortillas. We are out of eggs, pasta, beans and rice. The meat in the freezer has been used up. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is bare!

What can I say? It’s been a busy month!

This morning my fabulous, loyal, loving family helped me clean up from VBS. We got home at noon. Everyone was starving. Handsome Hippie Hubby had 1 hour before he had to go to work.  I wanted to give him a few minutes to relax.  “I’ll go to the store and get something quick for lunch,” I said.

Easy enough, right?

Except that I had committed us to a 100% GMO free diet. (A future blog post about that when we’re a little further down that road).  This basically means that, unless it is specifically labeled as “organic” or “non-GMO” there can’t be any corn or soy in anything I buy. Also, no animal products that come from animals who ate GMO corn or soy… which would be anything not specifically labeled “organic” or bought from a local farmer who can tell me what the animal ate. Anything with sugar has to be “organic” or specifically labeled as cane sugar since most other sugar comes from GMO sugar beets.

OK…. so I have to be aware of 3 items plus animal products…  but HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO MAKE A QUICK NO-GMO MEAL?

I headed to Dollar General because I needed dog food and it’s significantly cheaper there.

Plan A: I’ll get a can of vegetarian baked beans, some good bread and some applesauce.  It’s a little bit of a weird combination, but it’s super fast and easy and everyone in the house will eat it.

Except: Dollar General was out of vegetarian baked beans.  Regular baked beans all have bacon.

I’m flexible. I can deal.

Plan B: Vegetarian refried beans and tortillas.

Except: Every brand of flour tortillas they sold had soybean oil, corn syrup, corn starch  or a combination of those..

Hmmm…

Plan C: Spaghetti! Everyone loves spaghetti!

Except: Every brand of spaghetti sauce there had corn starch or sugar.

Plan C: PB & J

Except: Every brand of bread had soybean oil or corn syrup. Every brand of peanut butter had sugar.

Well… poop!  Forget it! I’ll go to the little grocery store.

So I paid for my dog food and zipped down the road 2 miles to the other end of town where they did have vegetarian baked beans… made with corn starch.

Alright. Now I’m getting a little frustrated!

Plan D: I’ll just buy a dozen eggs and make scrambled eggs and serve them with fruit.

Except: While they did have white eggs and brown eggs, small eggs and large eggs and even cage free eggs, there were no organic eggs.

I’ve now spent over half of my husband’s available free time trying to find something I can feed the poor man before I send him in to work.

I ended up with a pile of fruit for fruit salad.

Every day I am becoming more aware of how important it is to be  knowledgeable about what you are putting into your body every day!  Those 3 items – corn, soy and sugar – are in more than 80% of all packaged food in the US! Did you know you (if you are like the average American consumer) are eating the same things 3 meals a day?

How hard can it be to make a quick no-GMO meal?MP900387869

If you’re looking for something in a can or box it can be very nearly impossible.

On the other hand, there really isn’t anything faster, easier or healthier than fresh fruit.   Lesson learned!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

The Awesome Pallet Chair (or My Recycled Garden, Part 2)

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Just in case you haven’t figured it out I’m a bit of a lazy hippie.  The hippie in me loves to be out in nature. The lazy part loves to lounge.  Yet I’ve never had a really great outdoor lounge chair… until now!

I started building with pallets when I needed a compost bin and I was instantly hooked.  It seemed like it wasn’t much harder than putting together a kit from Ikea.  It’s not always perfect wood.  It can be a little splintery and, if it’s been left outside a long time, sometimes a bit rotted. On the other hand, it’s got a great look to it, it’s very sturdy (if it’s not rotten) and it’s generally free.

About 40% of the hardwood harvested in the US is used to build pallets and 20% of the wood in our landfills is pallets. Think about that. How long does it take to grow a hardwood tree?  We use it a few times and throw it in the trash. That doesn’t even account for the millions that get burned every year!  So, by building with pallets, you are being a good steward of the earth.

You do need to be aware of your materials.  Some pallets are treated with very harsh chemicals or used to ship items that may leave them contaminated with e. coli or other bacteria.  Spiders of all sorts, as well as other insects, like to nest in pallet wood.  I’ve seen plans for baby cribs and kitchen tables made from pallets.  Please be wise in matching your materials to your project.

I’ve found that big stores that use zillions of pallets don’t want to part with them. They have a system in place to reuse and recycle and keep things cost effective. However, if you know someone who has done a big home improvement project they probably have a pallet or 3.  Small businesses may have 1 or 2 outside the back door. Farmers often have a handful that get tossed in a burn pile.  Many places sell them to recycling companies for $1-5 and would be just as happy to sell them to you.  Craigslist is loaded with them. Put the word out that you’re looking and you’re sure to find some at little or no cost.

This project started with some pallets that had been tossed by a company that deemed these no longer strong enough to hold the heavy electronics they ship.  They were missing boards and had some rotten pieces and were in generally pretty rough shape.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I pulled off the bad pieces and merged them together.  I stacked them with the strongest, smoothest one on top and then nailed the fourth (the one pictured above which had the longer side. I had to add a board to the other side to make them match.) Once I got past that it was a simple matter of nailing everything together and painting it.

Toddler-saurus Rex helped.

Toddler-saurus Rex helped.

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GE DIGITAL CAMERA

The supports in the back give it a lot of sturdiness.  I just used 2 of the boards I pulled off the big pallet.

The supports in the back give it a lot of sturdiness. I just used 2 of the boards I pulled off the big pallet.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

A little side note, the paint was recycled too! Paint is extremely toxic to put in a landfill and it’s difficult to find places to dispose of it so people are happy to give their leftovers to someone who can make use of it.  I asked for paint on freecycle.org and had 6 partial gallons by the next day.  I chose red because it was bright and plentiful.

All together, with no tools at all except a hammer and a paintbrush this project took about 3 hours.  Now I have a fabulous big comfy place to lounge in my magical garden while the little Hippies splash in the kiddie pool.  Hooray!

Yesterday I picked up four new pallets in near perfect condition.  Which project to do next? Hmmm…. time to visit Pinterest.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

It Doesn’t Really Matter if Climate Change is Real

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That’s right.

It doesn’t matter.

I am totally exhausted and burnt out over this debate so let’s stop fighting about it.

Maybe people are causing the earth to get hotter.

image from wikipedia

image from wikipedia

The folks in the white lab coats are pretty united.  More than 90% of scientists are in agreement.

Could they be wrong?

Well, sure.  At one point 90% of scientists though the best way to cure a sick person was by draining the dirty blood out of their body.  Today we realize that may not be the best plan.  Science is organic and ever-changing so…. maybe they’re wrong.

About half of Americans think they are.

Let’s go with that.  The scientists are wrong.  Global climate change is just  a myth.  Or… on the off chance that it is really happening, it’s just part of the natural cycle of things.  The earth’s climate changes. Such is the nature of our planet.

If we are to work from that premise, then it doesn’t matter how much CO2 your big ol’ gas-guzzler emits or how many gasses are released during the mining of tar sands because so-called “greenhouse gasses” have no significant impact on our planet.

Does that mean that we can just throw all caution to the wind?

Let’s get rid of any consideration of “environmental protection”  and think of what the world might look like in the future – even if it stays exactly the same temperature it is today.

We can all keep using plastic bottles and never give a thought to recycling, but then the ocean could end up looking like this.

image from thewellnessenterprise.com

image from thewellnessenterprise.com

We could all continue to drive our big gas-guzzling cars but then the roads might look like this:

image from sfexaminer.com

image from sfexaminer.com

The rain forests might look like this:

image from understory.ran.org

image from understory.ran.org

Food will be raised like this:

Image from greenanswers.com

Image from greenanswers.com

Rates of serious chronic childhood illness could look like this:

image from organicvalley.coop

image from organicvalley.coop

Children could find themselves playing in places that look like this:

image from hungeree.com

image from hungeree.com

Or this:

image from jamminmole.blogspot.com

image from jamminmole.blogspot.com

Or this:

image from umweltverschmutzutzung.wordpress.com

image from umweltverschmutzutzung.wordpress.com

Oh, no! Wait!  That’s not what WILL happen in the future.

Those are pictures of the world we live in RIGHT NOW.  (Click the pictures to see exactly what each one is all about.) This is what all of our glorious progress has led to.  How much worse could it get?  I shudder to  imagine.

On the other hand, what if we listen to those crazy tree-hugging hippies?

I’m not saying we should cast aside all science and progress.  I love technology.  I’m typing on a device that was the stuff of science fiction when I was born.  It’s very cool!  But…

What if we started putting more thought into the efficiency of our buildings?

image from gilmourbiology.wikispaces.com

image from gilmourbiology.wikispaces.com

What if we started growing our food closer to home?

image from urbanhomestead.org

image from urbanhomestead.org

What if we started using less gas-powered motors and more of our own strength to get around?

image from koonceportland.blogspot.com

image from koonceportland.blogspot.com

We might even start to look less like this:

image from werenotfunny.com

image from werenotfunny.com

And a little more like this:

My friend Stephanie; A tree hugging, nature loving, dog walking kind of girl.

My friend Stephanie; A tree hugging, nature loving, dog walking kind of girl.

Which world would you rather live in?   The world where the economy is deemed more important than the environment? Or the world where we live in harmony with our world to the benefit of all?

Global warming is not the only issue!

When you say, “Oil creates jobs! Mining closer to home means cheaper gas at the pump! It’s my RIGHT to drive a big car/spray chemicals on my lawn/toss my plastic bottle in the landfill!” What you are really saying is “I don’t care what kind of mess I’m creating for people in the future. I only care about myself and my comfort and my convenience right at this moment.”

I get it.

Really! I do.

I cringe at the cost of gas, too.  There are times we can’t go to our favorite mall or our favorite zoo or even to visit family because we just can’t afford it.

I love convenience!  LAZY hippie mama.  Remember?

But I’m trying to do my little part in all the little ways I can.  My children and their children deserve that much, at least.

And if you are one of those people that think it doesn’t matter because you “know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV,” (Yes, this is a real comment from a prominent Christian pastor. Read more about it, here.) I have an analogy for you.

What if you built a beautiful playroom for your child, knowing they would only use it for the brief years of their childhood, and you filled it with the best toys there are to be found.  Then you put your child in that room and they proceeded to intentionally break every toy, color on the walls and pee all over the floor.   Perhaps they kicked holes in the walls or ripped every page out of every book or smashed the windows out.

Would you be angry?  Or would you lovingly say, “Oh, that’s OK.  The toy room was only temporary, anyway.”

I am a Christian.  The Bible I read pretty clearly tells me that God gave us every good thing in our lives as a precious gift.  That includes this planet that He created and filled with every thing we would ever need to grow and develop as individuals and as a species.  If He comes again during your lifetime are you going to stand in the middle of the destruction, hands on your hips and defiance on your face and say, “Yes! I did this.  Who cares? It was only temporary anyway!”

If you do, I have a feeling you may be facing one very angry Father.

I’ll say it once more.  It doesn’t really matter if climate change is real.  Either way, our planet has been wounded and we must – each of us – do our part in healing her again.  The time for debate has long passed.  It is time to take action.  You don’t need to overhaul your whole life and move to a hippie commune in the forest.  You can start making a difference today.

50 WAYS TO HELP THE PLANET

101 WAYS TO HELP THE PLANET

108 WAYS TO HELP THE PLANET

WAYS TO HELP THE PLANET AT HOME, ON THE ROAD, AND AT SCHOOL

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Please Eat More – My Earth Day Post (made from 95% recycled material)

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I'm not sure she's going to be able to finish that piece of watermelon!

I’m not sure she’s going to be able to finish that piece of watermelon!

On Earth Day we hear a lot about recycling so I decided to recycle this post from last year… with a few updates, to keep things interesting.

When I look at my WordPress stats the one that consistently floors me is the little world map.  My humble little blog has been viewed by people in NINETY FIVE different countries!  That just completely stuns me.  What a world we live in!

Just a generation or two ago, being so effortlessly in communication with, literally, every part of the globe was unheard of!  Every day it is becoming increasingly easy to see how inter-connected the entire planet is.  My grandparents didn’t worry about pollution in China or over population in India or oil spills in Nigeria.  Modern technology has made us more aware that those things do affect us, just as our actions have an effect on everyone else. We cannot pretend to live in an isolated bubble.

That said…

I don’t know if my international readers have noticed this problem; I would love it if  you would take a moment to share. Americans are killing the Earth because we just don’t eat enough!

So today, on Earth Day, I’m asking you to please eat more.

OK. So maybe we Americans, chubby people that we are (as a nation. I know that many of you are perfectly fit and you should hold your healthy heads high!), get plenty to eat.  But we WASTE SO MUCH!!!  Did you know that, in 2004, researchers at the University of Arizona determined that 50% of the “ready to eat” food in the United States is thrown away?  Think about that!  HALF of the food produced in this  nation is thrown in the garbage!

Kinda makes you want to go dumpster diving, eh?  Oh. Right. Yeah. Me either. Gross.

My friend, Paul, will be mentally climbing into his pulpit to preach right now about the injustice of people starving in a nation that THROWS AWAY HALF of its food and he is absolutely positively for-ever-and-sure right to do so!  I am  standing strong with him on this one.

BUT that’s not what I’m getting at today.

Nor am I intending this to be a push for people to eat more “real” food, grow their own and buy local though I am 100% in support of all those things.

Today is Earth Day.  The day we randomly selected to pay respects to that big round ball (oblate spheroid – I’m a nerd. I admit it)  that God gave us dominion over.  And here’s what I’m thinking….

Living in rural Michigan I am surrounded by farms.  It’s easy for me to witness what it takes to make food.  There are trucks that haul seeds to a giant silo.  There are trucks that haul seeds to the farm.  There are tractors to til the earth and plant the seeds and spray pesticides & fertilizer on the plants and harvest the ripe food. There are trucks and trains that haul stuff to factories where it is produced into various pre-made dinners or sauces or juices or whatever or to the market where it needs to be sprayed with water or refrigerated or frozen. Then we buy it and DRIVE it home in our cars and more refrigeration or freezing is required before we cook it and eat it. And that’s not even considering the animals and their water and food and milking machines and fans for summer and heaters for winter…….   you get the idea.

BUT we only eat HALF!!!!  So all that gasoline, the poison sprays going into the ground, the electricity for storage and preparation is FOR NOTHING!  AAAARRRRGGHHHHHH!!!

Have you ever seen your child wasting food that you paid hard-earned money for?  Didn’t it make you crazy?  It drives me up the wall!  It is a serious, MAJOR pet peeve of mine.  But the truth is, I do it too. I buy too much produce and throw it away when it spoils.  I don’t feel like eating the tiny bit of leftover pot roast so I toss it in the trash.

Apparently, as a nation, we are ridiculously, sinfully guilty of this.

So today I’m simply asking you to take care of the Earth by doing what I ask my children to do.  Take all you want. But eat all you take!

And for goodness sake, ENJOY IT! 🙂

Chubby Hippie Baby (AKA: Captain Spaghetti Beard) is the poster child for enjoying your food.  He eats with GREAT enthusiasm.

Chubby Hippie Baby (AKA: Captain Spaghetti Beard) is the poster child for enjoying your food. He eats with GREAT enthusiasm.

I’m Going to Attempt to Break The World Record I Helped Set

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smlogo

Last year I broke a World record!

Well…  8,251 other moms plus their babies and I broke it.  In April, 2012 parents and caregivers at 256 locations in 15 countries simultaneously changed all their babies out of cloth diapers and into cloth diapers.

Why?

To show how easy it is to use cloth diapers!  It’s also environmentally friendly, super healthy for babies  and oh-so-stylish.

You just can't be this awesome in paper pants!

You just can’t be this awesome in paper pants!

Tomorrow we’re going to do it again!  This time there is a brand new FABULOUS cloth diaper store (They’re online if you need the hook up.  Check them out!)   just a mere 5 minute walk from my house that is a certified host location so there’s no 50 minute trek to the big city. This means I don’t have to burn fuel to promote sustainability.  That’s a good thing!

I thought about using this post to wax poetic about all the reasons I love cloth diapers.  I thought about sharing tips if you are thinking of switching but, in the end, I realized that I  just wanted to brag that I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Also, that I’ve had my best  (busiest/most positive response) blog week ever.  If you’re reading now, thanks for making it even better!

Hope your weekend is full of fun and laughter and joy.  Don’t forget to watch for miracles, they are all around you if you just make the effort to notice.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

What I Learned About GMOs from 9 Farmers, a Monsanto Employee and a Whole Bunch of Reading

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**Please don’t let the length of this post deter you! This is a very big topic.  If you just want the highlights I lit them up for you. If you want the details, I tried my best to provide those too.

This is me, enjoying an especially wonderful meal grown right here on earth.

This is me, enjoying an especially wonderful meal grown right here on earth.

I am not a farmer, scientist or businessperson.  I am a consumer. I am a mother. I am a citizen of earth.  As such, I believe I (we all) have a right to know what’s going on in agriculture and to have a voice for or against certain practices. That’s why it  concerned me when I began to see quotes like this from the Institue for Responsible Technology:

“It appears there is a direct correlation between GMOs and autism.”  –Arden Anderson, MD, PhD, MPH

And this from The Daily Paul:

We know that GMO consumption has been linked to a host of serious conditions…

I was reading one such article (honestly I can’t even remember, specifically, what it was about or how I came across it) recently that used the word, “obviously.”  As in, “Obviously GMOs are going to be the death of us all.”  (That’s not what it said, I’m sure, but that was the gist.)  It was if a little bubble burst in my mind.  I snapped a little.

IF IT’S SO FREAKING OBVIOUS WHY IS ANYONE USING IT?!

I really want to understand!

Because my family tends to lean toward the “natural living” side of the aisle I follow a lot of blogs and Facebook pages that cover topics like herbal medicine, organic farming and sustainable energy.  The people and groups that put these pages out have been, pretty much across the board, VERY outspoken against GMOs and biotech in general. But I want to look at both sides of the issue. So I went in search of farmers. This is a picture of the county in which I live:

image from airphotona.com

image from airphotona.com

It is not very hard to find farmers around here.  The major crops near me are corn, soybeans and tomatoes.  Since 93% of soy and 88% of all corn grown in the US is GMO (source) I’m guessing I know quite a few folks that use biotech. I sent out a plea.  In addition to posting my questions on this blog, I sent out emails and a Facebook request to my friends.

I eventually received input from 8 “conventional” farmers, 1 “homesteader” who grows her food naturally, though she is not certified organic, and 1 Monsanto employee.

One response I got said, “Why not just do a Google search?”

I have done dozens of searches.  The problem I’ve run into is that the majority of the results that come up are posted by those with a vested interest/political agenda that runs toward one side or the other and they don’t seem objective in the least.  Many (not all, but several) of these use terms like, “evil, ignorant, intolerant, backward, controlling and greedy” when describing the other side.

MP900262287I thought of the farmers I know.  Unlike people in most professions, many of them have been working in their current profession since they were toddlers.  They have grown up with their fingers in the earth.  They are college educated in the science and art of agriculture.  The farm is not just where they work.  It is where they are born, live and die.  It is their home. They pour countless hours into caring for their fields and their animals.  Their personal wealth is deeply invested in the equipment and tools of their trade.  These are not men and women who are going to read a flashy advertisement and say, “Oh, look!  We can buy these new-fangled seeds that cost 4x more than the old ones and we’ll never have to weed again and now we can all just sit around eating bonbons and watching Toddlers and Tiaras!”  Are farmers looking to make money and make life a little easier?  Sure. Aren’t you?  But if 8 out of  10 farmers are using any given product you can bet that there is a very good reason!

Then I thought about the folks working for the biotech companies.  These people have a true passion for solving some of the most serious problems facing the human race.  When I was a young girl I can remember everyone making a big deal about the world population reaching 3 billion.  We are now right at the threshold of 7 billion with the UN forcasting a population in excess of 10 billion by the end of this century.  That is a whole big world to feed!  Especially when you consider that the climate is changing, creating new problems to be solved. Is there corporate greed? Well, sure. That seems to be a given that no one disputes.  But I think there are thousands of scientists and businessmen working in biotech who are truly dedicated to using science to make life better and more sustainable for us all.

It is not fair for either side to dismiss the other.

Keep in mind that they are all eating these foods and feeding them to their families as well.

Nor is it fair for either side to dismiss the concerns of the citizens of this nation.  Yes, people can be terrified easily as this great illustration  shows.  However, individuals are justified in questioning how new technologies will affect their health and environment.  History has proven time and again that big business will NOT offer up full disclosure or pull a harmful product from the market at a cost to themselves.

I’ve tried very hard to cut through the hype and the propaganda and the political posturing and find the solid ground beneath.  Here is the good, the bad and the big gray in between that I found  that seem important for consumers to understand:

THE GOOD STUFF ABOUT GMO

Farmers use GMOs because they are concerned about the environment and want to have the lowest possible impact.

Farmers must make a certain number of “passes” through their field each year.  The ground must be tilled, fertilized, planted, weeded, sprayed for insect and disease control, harvested, etc.  An average diesel powered tractor gets about 3 MPG.  That is a whole lot of fuel being burned.  How many resources go into creating that fuel? Shipping it?  How much greenhouse gas is released from using it? Biotech seeds are engineered to have the insecticides and herbicides that are crucial to the best possible plant development already tucked inside their genetic makeup.  This means that there are less passes of the tractor and fewer toxic chemicals being dumped onto the earth.

While some argue that herbicide use will be increased in the overall population (lawn care, gardeners, etc) because of the evolution of “super weeds” all of the “conventional” farmers that I spoke with first hand said that GMOs significantly reduce their chemical usage and they LOVE not exposing themselves, their workers, and the consumers of their food to these poisonous chemicals. It also means that farmers don’t have to keep tilling up the earth (or at least they don’t have to as often) to get the unwanted stuff out and put the needed stuff in. By tilling less farmers are reducing top soil erosion.  Erosion and nutrient depletion are serious concerns and the farmers I heard from see GMO as a possible solution to these problems – or at least a step in the right direction.

Farmers use GMOs because they are cheaper.

Again, based entirely on the farmers I heard from, engineered seeds are a cost savings.  The seeds themselves are significantly more expensive and it is illegal to save them from one crop to be replanted the next year.  In some cases that can’t be done anyway but, despite these facts, farmers feel that the overall amount of money saved in other resources such as insecticides and labor costs, make them a good financial choice.

Remember, farmers are in business too.  They need to remain profitable just like any other business.  They use all of the same modern profit and loss tracking tools that other businesses use and they make choices accordingly.

Farmers have more choices than ever before.

Some of the anti-GMO folks out there would have you believe that the average American farmer has been reduced to nothing more than a serf by the big biotech companies.  The farmers I spoke with strongly disagree. It is NOT true that farmers are being forced to use products made by Monsanto or any other particular company.  Nor are they under contract to use any particular chemical (ie. RoundUp) on their GMO crops.

Biotech manufacturers do design their seed to be most effective used with certain chemicals that they produce and so they will “highly recommend” their own products.  If you read the back of your shampoo bottle you will likely see that hair care companies do the same thing.  “For best results with this shampoo we recommend you also use our conditioner and styling products.”

If you are curious about the details of the Monsanto/farmer contract here is a great link for you to follow.

Several of the farmers I heard from used the phrase, “I have more tools in my toolbelt than ever before.”  100 years ago if you had harmful insects you went out and picked them off, one at a time.  50 years ago you could pick them off or spray them.  Today you can pick them or spray them or use engineered seeds that chemically resist them.  That’s over-simplified, but it’s the general idea.  The more choices that are available the more empowered farmers are to achieve maximum efficiency.  None of them thought that “designer seed” was the great magic solution to every farming problem.  They simply view it as one of many ways to solve certain problems that are inevitable.

GMOs produce higher yields.

I have seen some anti-GMO blogs that say this isn’t so and they have very impressive and complicated-looking charts explaining why but every single farmer I spoke with (including those that expressed some concern about using biotech for various reasons which I will get to) said that they had a higher yield with GMOs.

Higher yield isn’t all about more money in the pockets of farmers.  This video does a great job of explaining how much land is available for growing all the food for all the people on earth.

THE BAD & THE BIG GRAY IN-BETWEEN

GMOs may be linked to a variety of health problems in animals and people.

When new technology that sounds “sci-fi” comes out people are always a little leary.  We’ve all seen “I am Legend,” and “Jurassic Park.” We recognize that these movies are fiction but what makes them frightening is the very true reality that things can go wrong.  There is a law of unintended consequences.  You can’t make, “one little change” in nature.  It just isn’t possible.

Keeping that in mind, people have questioned the wisdom of genetic manipulation since the days when it was just a dream of the future.  When it became reality there was serious concern despite over a decade of research regarding the safety of GMOs.  But something unpleasant truly hit the fan in early 2011.

Dr. Don Huber has long been considered one of the nation’s leading experts in plant pathology with more than 50 years of experience and over 100 scientific papers published. He has held prestigious posts within academia and the US government and he wrote a letter to the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture warning of some very serious concerns he had about “the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.”

Dr. Huber’s letter spread like wildfire around the globe.  He was not the only one expressing concern.  There are a wide variety of scientists saying, if not the same thing, very similar things.  Here is one link that gives the entire content of Dr. Huber’s original letter as well as information from others.

One part of Dr. Huber’s letter stated:

The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations…

Here is something I found very interesting.  Around the time all this happened, about 2 years ago, these were some actual comments on blogs discussing Dr. Huber’s allegations.

“wouldn’t meat and dairy prices skyrocket if cows were dying and becoming infertile?”

From here in  2013 I can say, well… yes. We have seen that happen, as this link points out. Now, this link is old and there are dozens of factors ranging from weather to politics that can have an effect on food prices.  I’m just saying… meat and dairy cost more now than they did then.

Another commentor said:

Debunking this is like debunking the rumors that were spread that food safety bill was going to ban seed saving and force farmers to use Monsanto seeds.  (Feb. 28, 2011)

Said bill has been passed… sort of.  Farmers aren’t being forced to use Monsanto seeds (see “choices,” above) but seed saving has been banned and biotech has, just in the past month, been granted power over the authority of the court that no business has ever had in the history of our nation.

So the crazy conspiracy theorists of 2 years ago were right, at least in part.  It makes me think about the old saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

But here’s where it gets gray:  

Dr. Huber never put any evidence behind his study.  At least, not the kind of evidence that makes it difficult for other scientists to disagree with his findings.  As far as I can find, he continues to stand by his statements but he still hasn’t convinced the majority of his peers.  In her post, “Extraordinary claims… Require Extraordinary Science,” Anastasia Bodnar discusses all of this and she concludes with this:

Why would a reasonably well published scientist suddenly throw away everything we know about the scientific method to make claims about biologically impossible organisms with no evidence? Why is so little evidence presented and why is the evidence that is presented given as anecdotes instead of hard science? Most importantly, why would he make claims without going through the peer review process to ensure that his claims would be at least vetted by his peers?

Why, indeed?

Monsanto responded (see full response here) to Dr. Huber very quickly, standing behind the safety of their product, as you would expect.  And they provide on their site links to Purdue University Extension Science, Iowa State University, and Ohio State University.

Feel free to slog through all that, if you like, but here’s the gist.

From OSU:

Based on the number of acres I’ve walked, the samples we have received, the talks and literature I have attended and read; and our own research here at the OARDC, this statement just isn’t true.  I cannot document that there has been an increase in over 40 diseases in this state, nor in the north central region since 1998 when roundup ready soybeans were first widely planted in Ohio. 

From Purdue:

…evidence to support these claims has neither been presented to nor evaluated by the scientific community. The claim that herbicides, such as glyphosate, can make plants more susceptible to disease is not entirely without merit. Research has indicated that plants sprayed with glyphosate or other herbicides are more susceptible to many biological and physiological disorders The claim that plant disease has “skyrocketed” due to glyphosate usage is also unfounded.

And I may as well take this moment to mention that Biotech got this endorsement from the head of the European Union’s Chief Scientific Adviser:

“There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental health, so that’s pretty robust evidence, and I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food,”

So then, why, you may ask, is all this included under “bad?”

Well… because as this site, and this site, and this site, and this site, and this site, and this site,and this site, and this site, and hundreds of others (Admittedly a random sampling. Some I read very carefully.  Some, not so much.) are expressing at least some level of concern over a growing body of anecdotal evidence that people and animals eating GMOs are experiencing a variety of health issues ranging from increased allergies to respiratory problems to infertility.

Anecdotal evidence is not good science and it is not proof of anything.  But it should be enough to warrant serious ongoing investigation from the scientific community.

Two of the nine farmers I spoke with had anecdotal evidence that GMOs were causing negative issues on their farms.

We fed our hogs from our own GM crop and started seeing health problems we’d never seen before with spontaneous abortion and some major digestive problems.  We switched feed and the problems cleared up.  (I asked if the new feed was still GM, just a different brand, and did not receive a response at the time of writing this) We still grow GM on our farm but we have cut back.

When my father switched to Monsanto seed we thought it was great because it was less time intensive and yielded a higher profit.  Within 2 years we had experienced 100% colony collapse in our honey bees.  He blames it on the new plants and won’t grow them any more.  Our new hives have been unaffected.

Confused yet?

It gets murkier.

Beekeeping.com says that so far there seems to be no indication that GMOs negatively affect honeybees.  In fact, less use of insecticides may be helpful.

Insecticide-resistant GMOs is another situation Dr. Williams says. Plants may be modified to contain Bt toxin, proteinase inhibitors, and chitinases. The benefit of such plants is that they require little or no insecticide application, decreasing, or in some cases eliminating, chemical application altogether. In a similar argument paralleling that related to herbicides, it is suggested this is a potential benefit to honey bees because it minimizes their potential exposure to harmful chemicals. In addition, the materials mentioned above are generally far less toxic in general than so-called hard or synthetic insecticides.

But this article links the very effectiveness of GMOs in preventing milkweed to a decrease in habitat for pollinators (in this case, butterflies) which is causing them to die off.

According to this Ag Weekly article there are about 10 possible contributors to CCD, with the most likely scenario being that it is an interplay between several of them.  GMOs, pesticides and monocultures are only 3 of the 10.

Likewise, there is hearty debate over the existence of “super weeds,” the long term effects of GM on the soil, the ways that GM crops change the non GM plants around them and more.

I put all this under “THE BAD AND THE GRAY” because it seems obvious that the jury is still out on the GM issue.

In the mean time, these crops are being grown all around the world.

humanityinthemirror

Image from humanityinthemirror.com

We can not be CERTAIN that they aren’t harmful.

Crops have been naturally bred to enhance certain traits for a millennium or more but what we are doing in this generation – short-cutting the process –  has never been done before in the whole history of the planet.  Our understanding of genetics is vast and growing every day but there is still much to learn.

And we are throwing these modified seeds into an environment which is already toxic from a whole host of sources.  It is very difficult to establish a clear link between GMO and… say… autism, for example.  It is not difficult at all to see that the youngest generation is suffering from a myriad of health issues that were considered rare or even unheard of just 50 years ago. What has changed in 50 years? Our food has changed in a big way… but other things have changed, too.  So where does the problem lie?

The greatest concern that I have, after researching more on this topic than I have any other topic in a very long time is that history repeats. If you look at the history of DDT, Thalidomide, tras-fats, and countless other examples new science is not always good science and by the time concerns are proven to be valid massive damage has already been done.  Just because a product has been studied extensively doesn’t mean that we know everything there is to know about it – especially when people use that product over prolonged periods of time.

Further, the new legislation protecting Biotech from legal action gives these companies unprecedented authority to move forward with their business despite what scientists find in the future.  This means that, assuming someone comes up with the millions (billions?) of dollars needed to host such a study and figures out a way to conduct it without interference from other environmental toxins and takes the several years needed to observe the test subjects and evaluate their findings and publish it and be reviewed by their peers and accepted by the scientific community and present those accepted findings to congress and let them debate about it and the US government deems there to be a problem… an entire generation or more will have been irrevocably affected.  The process will take decades.

Why can’t we just trust Monsanto to provide a product that is safe?  Here’s a quote from them:

A Monsanto official told the New York Times that the corporation should not have to take responsibility for the safety of its food products. “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”  (source)

I don’t mean to put everything on Monsanto. They are a bit of a fall guy in all this.  There is good reason.  You can thank Monsanto for historical gems like PCBs and DDT which, while extremely effective in doing what they were created to do, were eventually deemed to be horrendously dangerous as well with the detriment far out-weighing the benefit.  In both of these cases and others Monsanto knew the dangers and downplayed them for decades but didn’t want to pull their product because it would have hurt their bottom line.

That said, they haven’t stayed in business so long or become so big by creating crappy products.  Nor are they the only game in town.  Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, Bayer (yes, the drug company), Aqua Bounty, Mendel Biotech and dozens of others around the world are working to develop new biotech products, using genetic modification on crops as well as animals.

It’s not unlike McDonald’s in the fast food industry or Wal-Mart in retail. If McDonald’s disappeared tomorrow we would still be a chubby nation and if Wal-Mart were to close its doors forever there would still be big retailers preventing the revival of the “mom and pop” store. Therefore, when you hear things like, “Monsanto protection act,” keep in mind that if Monsanto were to go out of business tomorrow GMOs would still be around.

SO WHAT THE HECK ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?!

You, as a consumer, need to be informed.

Be aware of legislation that is in the works.  Know why it is being proposed and don’t just fly off the handle in response to something that “seems” bad.  Remember all that stuff in the beginning of the article?  Farmers… the people who know the land the best… are widely in support of the use of biotech.  Ag science must move forward to meet the demands of the world.

Know what labels mean.  Big businesses of all types got big by doing several things well.  One of those things is marketing.  Clever advertisers know that people fear what they don’t understand and they will play on those fears.  One example that was pointed out to me is that there is an expensive brand of popcorn being actively marketed as, “Non GMO.”  What that label doesn’t mention is that, at this point, there is no GMO popcorn on the market in the USA.  In that case you are paying extra for the label.

Understand that, if your choice is between a “conventional” piece of produce and a “GMO” piece of produce you are choosing between one set of potential risks and another.  Most farmers would choose the GMO.

Organic is great and growing your own may be even better (all 9 farmers and the Monsanto employee I talked to agreed strongly on this point) but, when voting and putting forth your opinion, keep in mind that there are billions of people for whom that isn’t an option at this time.  New technology in hydroponics, “vertical farming” and more is great but still new.  Biotech is one aspect in the massive field of Ag Science.  That said, if you have concerns, be empowered!  Take your food destiny into your own hands!  Our family is doing this more every day and we find it deeply satisfying to feast on food we’ve grown and prepared ourselves.  There is more information available today than ever before about urban homesteading.  Heirloom seeds are being circulated at a rate much higher than 20 years ago, thanks to the internet.

Be aware that the market is driven by consumers.  If you cry about GMOs but you make no attempt to avoid purchasing them all that crying is just white noise.  For better or worse your dollars count more than your words in this country.

When it all comes down to it, I can’t say it better than Mike Haley who emailed me this comment:

The simple act of farming impacts the environment we operate in, both in positive and negative ways.  This is true for all types of farming large or small, conventional or organic.  I think its important we are constantly monitoring the effects our practices have on our environment and work towards ways that we can minimize any negatives while working to satisfy the needs of our customers.

or Katie Pratt who said this:

The gold standard would be for people to develop an appreciation for the places and people who raise their food and an appreciation for food in general.  

A few notes:

I would like to take a moment to send out my sincerest thanks to the men and women who took the time to answer my questions and help me sort through all of this information. It was clear in speaking/emailing with each of you that you have all given this subject a great amount of thought and want what is best for us all.  I hope that I presented the information you shared fairly and accurately.

If you would like to know more about GMOs and, like me, find the mountains of rhetoric and propaganda online to be intimidating, here are a few links in addition to those already mentioned that were passed on to me by those closest to the debate.  They were very helpful!

“I Occupy Our Food Supply Every Day” by Brian Scott

Monsantoblog.com “New Pathogen Claim Spreads Like Wildfire” by Janice Pearson

G is for GMOs & Why Do Farmers Plant GMO Crops?” by Janice Pearson

GMOs are Unnatural? And Other Thoughts On Biotech

It is my most sincere hope that this post is helpful to someone and that it can generate a conversation that is productive.  Along those lines, I would love it if you would comment, debate, agree, disagree, add, edit and question.  I only ask that you be polite.  As always, here in LHM land where I am queen, mean spirited name-calling and excessive foul language will result in your comments being deleted.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!