Archive for the 'sustainable' Category

22
Jun
10

Futureless farming?

I imagine there must be a proverb or several somewhere about the farmer who travels in springtime, when a huge chunk of the year’s work has to get done.

This year, I had to travel not once but three times in the crucial spring months, and since returning have been scrambling to rescue my little farmstead from total chaos. Calves still coming in, new chickens to tend to, the beehives thriving but needing a lot of attention, weeds galore in the garden. Weeds. Weeds. Weeds. WEEDS! (Did I mention weeds?)

But I think I’m getting there.

Which raises the question of “where is there”?

In general I’ve downplayed my farmerly ambitions by claiming only that I’m trying to feed my family better, and perhaps create a better sense of self-reliance. I do hold out a hope, not often expressed, that someday this farm will be our livelihood. Slowed food revolution, in this month’s American Prospect, makes me wonder how realistic that dream is.

The author, Heather Rogers,  offers a thorough look at the state of the American organic or alternative or sustainable farmer, seen from a policy perspective as well as through the eyes of Morse Pitts, who farms in the Hudson Valley and can charge what for me is a jaw-dropping price of $14 for a dozen eggs at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. In spite of this, and the fact that he is hard-working and resourceful, he still has had enough with a life that promises (and delivers) so many rewards, save one—the ability to earn a steady and decent living.

… despite having no mortgage debt (he inherited the place), a ready market, and loyal customers, Pitts wants to leave his farm. His town recently rezoned the area as industrial, and if he wants to cultivate soil that’s not surrounded by industry and its attendant potential for water and air pollution, he has to move. The problem is, he can’t afford to.

Aside from the standard instability farmers must endure — bad weather, pests, disease, and the vagaries of the market — holistic and organic growers face great but often overlooked economic hardship. They must shoulder far higher production costs than their conventional counterparts when it comes to everything from laborers to land. Without meaningful support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, their longevity hangs in the balance. In the meantime, the USDA showers billions on industrial agriculture. Growers who’ve gone the chemical, mechanized route have ready access to reasonable loans, direct subsidy payments to get through tough years, and crop insurance, plus robust research, marketing, and distribution resources. Whether organic and holistic growers raise crops, like Pitts does, or grass-fed, free-range livestock, they must contend with circumstances made harder by a USDA rigged to favor industrial agriculture and factory food.

As he has done in so many other areas, the president raised hopes for progressive farmers to the sky, and then sent them crashing. An organic garden at the White House! Beehives! But not a heck of a lot of tangible things have been delivered to folks like us. And even modest things like the Know Your Farmer campaign have met with angry resistance. “In an April letter to the new agriculture secretary, agribusiness-friendly senators Saxby Chambliss, John McCain, and Pat Roberts opposed even the meager support the USDA is giving small unconventional growers. ‘American families and rural farmers are hurting in today’s economy, and it’s unclear to us how propping up the urban locavore markets addresses their needs.'” Which of course is a hugely disingenuous piece of cow dung. And then there’s the “urban locavore” dig—a “trendy food choice” by well-to-do foodie snobs doing their evil mischief again. You know, if it weren’t for Alice Waters, America could be made whole again.

It’s a really good article, if not particularly encouraging for me, or for any of the other kooks out there who want to eat real food that isn’t farmed in ways that are killing the earth. I recommend you read the whole thing….

10
May
10

Lions and tigers and superweeds … oh, my!

florence in the garden

Florence scours our overgrown garden for callaloo

Who could have seen THIS coming?

A recent New York Times article on the rapid growth of “superweeds” notices that some species have done exactly what Darwin noticed living things do: under herbicidal assault, they adapted.

Now Roundup, Monsanto’s crack for farmers, is having trouble killing pigweed, and the expensive herbicide/seed program  isn’t looking like such a good deal anymore. But the large-scale farmers have a lot invested in industrial farming,  so many are just layering new poisons onto the Roundup, and are even encouraged to do so by Monsanto, which, the Times reports, “is it is taking the extraordinary step of subsidizing cotton farmers’ purchases of competing herbicides to supplement Roundup.”

Michael Pollan, one of the Room for Debate voices in a Times discussion on the subject, points out that this should come as a surprise to exactly no one.  “A product like Roundup Ready soy is not, as Monsanto likes to claim, ‘sustainable.’ Like any such industrial approach to an agronomic problem — like any pesticide or herbicide — this one is only temporary, and destroys the conditions on which it depends. Lucky for Monsanto, the effectiveness of Roundup lasted almost exactly as long as its patent protection.”

The Times parrots without comment the claim that no-till agriculture with “Roundup Ready” seeds is “environmentally friendly.” True, it reduces erosion and lessens runoff, but I don’t think everyone really understands what really goes on in this kind of agriculture. (Interested in the details of how glyphosate works? Check  out this fact sheet from beyondpesticides.org (pdf). “Environmentally friendly”? I’m not so sure.)

And here is where I would like to make a rather bold suggestion: Why not just call the superweed callaloo and eat it?

Pigweed is amaranth, after all, and amaranth is edible and nutritious, both as  leaves and seeds. When we first moved to Kentucky, Florence, our friend and one-time babysitter (from a past life when we were both had jobs and 401ks and benefits in New York), came to visit us. She looked into a field of what we called pigweed, and saw callaloo, a delicious green from her youth near Ocho Rios, Jamaica. She waded in, harvested a few large bags, trimmed it and cooked it up with lots of garlic and hot peppers and it was delicious.

I wouldn’t encourage anyone to eat the pigweed laced through with Roundup of course. And I’m not sure the resistant palmer amaranth is the same variety of amaranth that we enjoyed. But if there are varieties of a “superweed” that are edible and nutritious, a smart farmer might take the hint from mother nature and grow the native plant that doesn’t need massive doses of chemicals to thrive.

Or not. Even if that farmer is dead-set on continuing with the commodity crop (and of course that’s where the (subsidy) money is), The redoubtable Rodale Institute has been  doing some great work with organic no-till methods.

10
Mar
10

Green thumbs up: Shopping malls into greenhouses

Been in the garden digging. Digging like Kevin Bacon. Have you ever seen Stir of Echoes, where Bacon’s character, post-hypnosis, starts tearing up his garden and even basement? “I’m supposed to dig,” is all he can say, except when he mutters, “Tools.”

That’s how I feel this time of year. Dig. Dirt. Tools.

And it puts me in a good mood, a good enough mood to post a link to a story that is not along my customary lines of  how we’re being boiled alive like a potful of oblivious frogs by a predatory militarist corporatist state. No, reader, this story is a happy one, or at least it features cause for optimism. It’s about one of the best simple ideas I’ve heard in a while: turning unused (or, in this case, underused) mall space into a greenhouse/farm stand.

From Fast Company:

Shopping malls, those bastions of American consumerism, have not been immune to the recent economic downturn. In a recent piece by our own Greg Lindsay, we looked at the impending decline of the mall, which is part of the “single-use environment” category of real estate development that will slowly disappear over the next thirty years, according to one developer. But what will replace these environments, and more importantly, what will happen to the massive malls of today?

One possible solution can be seen in Cleveland’s Galleria mall. The mall lost many of its retail shops over the past few years, leaving gaping holes in the greenhouse-like space. So employees of the Galleria came up with the idea for the Gardens Under Glass project, a so-called urban ecovillage inside the mall that features carts of fruits and vegetables grown on-site. The project was recently given a $30,000 start-up grant from Cleveland’s Civic Innovation Lab.

In the past I’ve written about Detroit and its gradual, if not exactly planned, transition from urban back to rural. Fast Company’s Ariel Schwartz notices the same thing:

We can see it now: the malls of today turned into the suburban (and urban) farming powerhouses of tomorrow. And while we’re at it, why not turn entire economically depressed cities into agricultural centers as well? It’s already happening in Detroit, where entrepreneurs are turning vacant lots into factory-side farms. And if Cleveland’s mall farm works out, maybe New Jersey can become the next big agricultural innovator–the state has the most malls per square mile in the country.

Re-ruralization. It’s already happening. Cool.

04
Mar
10

Locovores, locavores, See these people can’t even agree on how to spell their own damn movement!

A handsome and not at all smelly locovore family

In the unlikely forum of Foreign Policy magazine, Felix Salmon, the financial blogger for Reuters, has crafted a love letter to locovorism, a movement that’s getting sneered at a lot lately as being a fantasy of snobbish foodies and manure-spattered alternative farmers reeking of dirt and garlic.  (After a while, though, you find that smell sexy).

Don’t have much time, so will quote a couple snippets, and encourage all to read the whole thing.

There are three big problems with monoculture, all of which can be addressed with a more sensitive, bottom-up, heterogeneous, small-scale agricultural model.

First, monocultures are, by their nature, prone to disastrous bouts of disease. Ireland’s population was decimated by the potato famine; France’s vines were wiped out by phylloxera; a disease called huanglongbing now threatens all of California’s citrus crop. If you only grow one crop, the downside of losing it all to an outbreak is catastrophe. In rural Iowa it might mean financial ruin; in Niger, it could mean starvation.

Big agriculture companies like DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), of course, have an answer to this problem: genetically engineered crops that are resistant to disease. But that answer is the agricultural equivalent of creating triple-A-rated mortgage bonds, fabricated precisely to prevent the problem of credit risk. It doesn’t make the problem go away: It just makes the problem rarer and much more dangerous when it does occur because no one is — or even can be — prepared for such a high-impact, low-probability event.

A more natural and heterogeneous system, by contrast, is inherently much more resistant to disease because few (if any) diseases can successfully wipe out a wide range of crops. Natural resistance is also much more likely to be found where there are a wide range of native varieties growing in the same place. Nature abhors a monoculture, and a system of smaller farms growing a large number of crops will be able to resist any disease in a way that no single crop can. If one or two of them gets hit, the damage done is manageable rather than devastating. It doesn’t have the same economies of scale, of course, and it might not have magical flood-resistant properties. But it works, all the same.

This is a hugely important issue to consider, especially as a few opportunistic spores of Ug99 blowing on a kind wind might lead in fairly short order to a worldwide shortage of wheat-based foodstuffs.

The second problem with monoculture is that new, high-tech, disease-resistant crops tend to come with something that is just as unwelcome as disease: patents. Many of these high-tech crops can’t reproduce organically and need to be bought afresh each season from the patent holder. And all of them come with layers of intellectual-property laws too complex for most non-lawyers to decode. So how do we expect impoverished and often illiterate populations in some of the most remote areas of the world to take advantage of them? Non-engineered crops, the natural ones that replicate themselves, are patent-free.

Finally, monoculture is based on the principles of trade and comparative advantage. It’s supposed to work like this: Enormous areas specialize in growing, say, corn and soy; they then sell those crops and use the cash they get in return to buy a wide variety of foods.

This works in the United States, but it doesn’t work well in the rest of the world, where trade barriers are often high, and selling crops for money and then exchanging that money for food is a complex and fraught process. Farmers growing cash crops in remote areas are often taken advantage of by middlemen, who take a cut of the profit and pay the growers much less than the market rate.

….It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s already more than enough food being grown to feed every person on the planet. Right now, when we grow more food, the main consequence is more obesity and waste in rich countries. In fact, we have reached such a level of excess food that powerful agricultural lobbies — supported by big businesses like ADM — have been pushing for food crops to be turned into biofuels, especially in the United States and Brazil. It simply isn’t the case that we are at risk of shortages without these monoculture crops.

The hunger that persists is a question of distribution; calories don’t just magically trickle down to the people who really need it. Locavorism gets right to the root of this problem. By growing multiple crops close to home, less is likely to spoil and more will reach the table.

02
Mar
10

The Green Revolution’s bitter fruit: a Biblical plague?

There’s an interesting and frightening story in Wired this month about the potential catastrophe represented by puccinia graminis, or Ug99, a fungus that causes stem rust in wheat. Writes Brendan I. Koerner:

Stem rust is the polio of agriculture, a plague that was brought under control nearly half a century ago as part of the celebrated Green Revolution. After years of trial and error, scientists managed to breed wheat that contained genes capable of repelling the assaults of Puccinia graminis, the formal name of the fungus.

But now it’s clear: The triumph didn’t last. While languishing in the Ugandan highlands, a small population of P. graminis evolved the means to overcome mankind’s most ingenious genetic defenses. This distinct new race of P. graminis, dubbed Ug99 after its country of origin (Uganda) and year of christening (1999), is storming east, working its way through Africa and the Middle East and threatening India and China. More than a billion lives are at stake. “It’s an absolute game-changer,” says Brian Steffenson, a cereal-disease expert at the University of Minnesota who travels to Njoro regularly to observe the enemy in the wild. “The pathogen takes out pretty much everything we have.”

This is a thorough look at what could develop into something truly awful. Massive starvation is a not implausible result, if a few opportunistic spores blow into the wrong spots. (Some scholars apparently believe stem rust was one of the Biblical plagues, FWIW.)

But I have to voice my objection to a basic premise of the article, the characterization of the Green Revolution as a “lifesaving agricultural movement.” Koerner asserts  that the Norman Borlaug-led Revolution “produced multiple disease-proof, high-yielding crops capable of feeding once-hungry populations.”

Which is pretty much a spot-on reflection of the consensus on Borlaug as a selfless, indefatigable Man of Science who fed the world’s starving populations. The consensus, however, glosses over the fact that the Green Revolution created many more problems than it solved. More than a half century after Borlaug’s Rockefeller Foundation-funded trip to Mexico, the state of affairs in the nations saved by the gift of Western agriculture are at best parlous.

Writing in Grist just after Borlaug’s death last Fall at the age of 95, Tom Philpott offered a dissenting take on Borlaug’s achievement:

In Mexico, to be sure, yields of corn and wheat rose dramatically in the areas where Borlaug’s techniques took hold. But while [Borlaug biographers] Thurow and Kilman convincingly argue that Borlaug’s main intent was to “help poor farmers,” Mexico’s smallholders have been in a state of severe crisis for more than a generation. The so-called “immigrant crisis” here in the United States is better viewed as an agrarian crisis in Mexico. Since the the advent of NAFTA alone, more than 1.5 million Mexican farmers have been forced off of their land. Since the Mexican manufacturing economy has been nowhere near robust enough to absorb them, a huge portion of one-time Mexican farmers now wash our dishes and harvest our crops.

While the factors contributing to Mexico’s agrarian disaster are multiple and complex—including neoliberal trade policy and U.S. crop subsidies—the zeal to increase yield certainly factors in. In Borlaug’s Green Revolution paradigm, farmers are urged to specialize in one or two commodity crops—say, corn or wheat. To grow them, they were to buy hybridized seeds and ample doses of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.

Philpott is careful to point out that he’s not demonizing Borlaug:

For me, the point isn’t that Borlaug is a villain and that crop yields don’t matter; rather, it’s that boosting yield alone can’t solve hunger problems in any but the most fleeting way. Farmers’ economic well-being; biodiversity; ecology; local knowledge, buy-in, and food traditions—all of these things matter, too.

Koerner paints a vivid picture of scientists working with great urgency to develop new seed varieties that are immune to Ug99. I wonder how much, if any, of the big scientific push is taking into account Philpott’s “other” things that matter, especially the biodiversity consideration. My Googling has turned up no answers to this question up until now.

I admit I am laboring in the dark here. This may be an ignorant question, but what about OLD varieties? In past outbreaks, did stem rust afflict EVERY strain of wheat in ALL conditions? I really don’t know. I do hope some of these scientists are working on re-diversifying the seed stock, instead of trying to engineer one or a couple varieties so the monocrop paradigm can continue uninterrupted.

17
Feb
10

more on “cows the climate solution?”

cow image

I feel terrible that Seth Itzkan’s articulate response to a post of mine has languished in the WordPress spam queue for 6 weeks now.

The post in question, Cows the climate solution?, discussed Adam Sacks’ bold claim that well managed cattle grazing could solve all of our climate problems by the middle of the century! Seth’s very persuasive comment makes me think, Well, just maybe….

Thanks for your post which I found because I monitor Google Alerts for “Holistic Management”.  Actually, Adam Sacks is a colleague / friend of mine, and we’ve discussed these topics at length.  It’s nice to see that the word is getting out.

You are correct that Adam and George’s comments are not mutually exclusive because they are discussing different things.  As Adam states in his follow up, the issue isn’t about “cows” (although that’s the catch – I guess it worked!), the issue is about restoring grassland ecosystems – which are by far the largest stores of terrestrial carbon on the earth. Grasslands co-evolved with grazing mammals that moved in concentrated herds.  This herding action was caused by predation (wolves, lions and such).  The devastation of the world’s grasslands and is due largely to the removal of large mammals – not over grazing.  Too little grazing is as bad as too much.  Either way the grass dies.  This is the discovery of Alan Savory and the findings of the process of “Holistic Management”.  Please see http://www.holisticmanagement.org.  The more large animals are removed from their natural grassland ecosystems, the faster the grassland dies. Imagine that?  They actually need each other.

The problem today is that we have no sense of what a natural grassland ecosystem is.  When Louis and Clarke traveled across the Midwest they were walking over thousands of square miles of the riches soils on the planet, in many place over 10 feet deep with grasses just as high. Those soils, of course, are organic matter, which is, largely carbon, sequestered by plants that were kept alive by the “pulsed” animal impact. There were billions of tons carbon stored in those soils, most of which has run off into the oceans as topsoil loss.  The rest has been oxidized and become CO2 through burning and tilling.  At the time, there were 100 million buffalo, 100 million elk, and billions of prairie dogs, all eating, aerating, and recycling nutrients.  Gee, how did the grasslands survive with all that chomping? Heaven forbid. To restore those soils requires animal impact of the nature they evolved in – herd action, intense and short spurts or “pulses”.  The idyllic grazing that we see of a
few cows lounging around in short grass and mud is a modern, unnatural and unsustainable solution.  That’s *not* what we’re talking.

Environmentalist are correct in citing the damage that cattle do in their artificially maintained and poorly managed environments.  Of course.  No one is arguing for more of that. What Savory, and Adam are talking about is a new method of managing cows in a fashion that simulates the natural herd behavior that the grassland evolved this.  This takes the form of tightly packed groups of cows called “paddacks” that are moved frequently.  The process is known as Holistic Management.  The results are unequivocal.  Tens of millions of degraded soils have been restored this way, and small scales herders are viable now because of it.  It cost far less than traditional herding and greater “stocking levels” can be sustaining while improving the ecosystem.  In fact, as Savory says, this is the only method that will restore grassland soil.  No other method will work.  Grassland soils will not return without the animal impact that they evolved in.  It won’t happen.  The grassland will turn to
desert and their carbon sequestering potential will be lost.  The good news is that this process can be reversed.

Again, it isn’t about “cows”.  It’s about grazing mammals.  Cows can be managed in a way that mimics behavior that is beneficial to the soil.  We don’t give a flying hoot if it’s cows or bison, or elk, or giraffes, or elephants.  The action is similar.  Each is a grazing mammal that evolved in a grassland / savanna ecosystem.  When the animals are removed, the grassland ecosystem dies. We need millions more grazing animals moving about as natural herds, or in managed paddacks that replicate the herd behavior.  Seeing as so many people depend on cows, they may as well be managed in a fashion that is environmentally restorative – doing this sequesters, carbon, replenishes water tables, and creates viable enterprise for small rangers and herders.

Regarding methane.  Here is another case where the anti-cow environmentalists are missing the point. Miracle of miracle, the methane levels were less in the atmosphere when there were 100s of millions more grazing mammals on the earth than there are now – all of them eating grass and flatulating. How was that possible?  Because the animals were part of an ecosystem that was sequestering far more methane than they could ever produce.  It doesn’t matter how much gas the cows emit.  What matter is whether the soil ecosystem is being restored.  If it is, then methane is being sequestered at factors that are orders of magnitude greater than what the cow emits.  Cows are not an island.  We have a fragmented view of the problem.  Yes, grass fed cows in a feedlot may fart more than grain fed cows in a feedlot.  But, what’s the point of the comparison?  Both are unsustainable and deadly.

The more germane question is if the cows are part of a system that is environmentally restorative.  If they are being managed properly, they will be restoring the soil which will be sequestering methane, as well as CO2.  Cows (and all grazing mammals), are just a part of the system.  Recent studies have shown that a healthy grassland ecosystem will sequester 1000 times the methane produced by a cow on a space of soil adequate for that’s cows sustenance – repeat, 1000 times.  This is possible because of the methane eating microbes that are in the soil far outnumber the methane producing microbes in the cows stomach.  Methane digestion is an aerobic process. In a healthy soil (i.e. aerated), the methane eating microbes will dominate.  Where the soils are many feet deep, you are talking about thousands of cubic meters of methane eating soils compared to a few square feet of a cows stomach that is an anaerobic environment – thus produces methane.  In healthy soils, the methane eating
potential will always exceed the methane producing potential of the animals on it.  Again, it’s not about the cows.  It’s about the ecosystem. An aerated ecosystem will sequester methane.  Get the cows on the land, moving in a fashion that natures expects them to, and the methane problem will work itself out.

Restoring grassland soils is one of our most powerful tools in the fight against climate change.  Animal impact is essential to this process.  We need a deeper understanding of this process and it’s potential.  Thank you again for further considering it on your blog.

12
Feb
10

“it will take 2 million angry moms to change school food”

free for all“It will take 2 million angry moms to change school food,” says Susan Coombs, former Texas Agriculture Secretary, who is quoted in Janet Poppendieck’s Free for All: Fixing School Food in America.

I’ve only just read a review of the book, and want this dad’s name added to the list of angry moms.

This happens to be a week I am also digesting  a full-hour interview with Michael Pollan on Democracy Now, as well as my third viewing of Food Inc., which is the best single document to introduce the unaware into the batshit crazy place that is America’s food system.

It’s a convoluted contraption, with a few big winners and lots and lots of losers.

Those profiting (mightily) from our national food dysfunction include executives and shareholders of the various Big Ag corporations–Monsanto, ConAgra, ADM, Cargill,  Smithfield, Tyson, Perdue– and the large farms that receive the bulk of subsidy payments for growing massive surpluses of corn and soybeans.

The losers are just about everyone else. The victims who suffer the most include small farmers; the abused cattle, pigs, and chickens who are treated like mechanical cogs, not living beings; the horribly stressed and underpaid factory farm workers who are treated only marginally better than the animals;  and … and … our children, who, via the school lunch program, are the last stop for the last bits of that surplus production that no one else wants.  Pollan calls it “a dispose-all system for surplus agricultural commodities.”

Here is a summary of the problem, and Poppendieck’s proposed radical solution, via Mark Winne on Civil Eats:

Why, for instance, have we developed three different ways to pay the lunch lady–one for the poor students, one for the nearly poor, and one for those who supposedly are being driven in BMWs to school? The logical answer might be because that’s fair; the rich kids should pay more and the government should subsidize the cost of feeding lower income children, as it does currently to the tune of $11 billion annually. But as Poppendieck peels back the layers of the onion, we find the issue has always been less about compassion for needy children and more about accommodating political and commercial interests. Harry Truman (school lunch is good for national security), Ronald Reagan (ketchup is a vegetable), nutritionists and nutritionism (its nutrients that count, not the quality and taste of food), and various agricultural lobbies wanting to unload their farm surpluses are just a sampling of what has driven the school food agenda. Somewhere low on the totem pole you’ll find concern for the health and well-being of boys and girls.

Poppendieck’s jargon-free narrative takes us step-by-step through the deals, concessions, and compromises that have bureaucratized the school food process while simultaneously dumbing down the food. Why is so much processed food used to prepare school meals? Because it’s cheaper and “cooking from scratch” kitchens have been removed from the schools. Why does it have to be cheaper when we’re talking about feeding our children? Because the federal government (or anyone else for that matter) will not provide enough funding to enable schools to buy fresh, whole ingredients. (And by the way, taxpayers are spending billions of dollars to subsidize corn and soybeans, the prime ingredients in processed food.) Why do we have so many junk food items sold “a la carte” in our schools? Well, in addition to using a French culinary phrase to disguise what is otherwise crappy food, schools must sell these items to those with discretionary cash–supposedly the ones in the BMWs–to compensate for the low reimbursements they receive for meals that meet mandated USDA standards. And on it goes.

Poppendieck has a solution that is as elegant as it will be hard to achieve–universal free meals for all students K through 12. She acknowledges the cost, an additional $12 billion per year (our present wars, please note, are costing about the same amount each month) that would not only feed all students for free, but also improve the quality of the food.

If the arguments for universal school meals–efficiency, equity, no one excluded–sound eerily familiar, then you’ve probably been paying attention to the arguments for universal health care. If nothing else, it’s certainly ironic to consider the consequences of removing each system’s respective middlemen: processed food purveyors for school food, and private health insurers for health care. Might we all be healthier as a result?

This food and kids thing is a big battle in our house. I work hard to have good food around: we raise our own meat and veggies (in season), but we’re always battling peer pressure, fast food and (this one really kills me) all the free toys the kids get when they eat fast food.

In spite of all my efforts, my kids ingest more than their fair share of sugary cereal, pizza, and chicken nuggets– both at school and (sadly) at home. I have to weigh the risk of alienating them from good food altogether (if I push too hard) against the ill effects of the crap they prefer. It ain’t easy. I like to hope that the exposure to real food will at some future point mutate into a desire to eat it, but I can’t be sure.

I’m not exactly optimistic that Congress and the White House will find the $12 billion to give free, nutritious school lunches for all of our kids. That’s putting it mildly. It’s not going to happen with the current crew. But we have to start demanding it.




Ineffable beauty, unspeakable evil, and all sorts of crap in between

Twitter Updates

wordpress analytics