Thursday, July 13, 2017

Seeds of Hope and Inspiration

“Always leave the Earth better than you found it,” our daughter

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.” E.B White

 Something exciting happened  after publishing my post on growing food. I came across “Seeds of Hope”, a book by Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall is a scientist and an excellent storyteller. “Seeds of Hope” brims with stories of inspiration and hope. I was in awe to read the stories of seeds that sprouted after hundreds of years. Her book delves into many of the topics I wrote about in my previous post.

 As I write this, the air from a fan powered by solar energy helps me to cool down. By the way, if you are one of the privileged ones who relies on air conditioning on hot summer days, set up the temperature to a higher level to avoid wasting so much energy and to decrease the level of carbon dioxide you release into the air. Remember that the hot air of your home ends up raising the temperature outside.
 Let’s all be part of the solution instead of the problem.

 Jane Goodall has a a way of explaining complicated subjects in very simple terms. This is a thought-provoking educational book. She explores the mysterious world of plants and how their lives are interconnected with all other living beings. You will also learn about the adventurous lives of botanists; many chapters are devoted to growing food and to the need of feeding the world ethically.

 She writes extensively about GMOs and explains the research that shows the deleterious effects on the health  of animals as well as their impact on the environment. GMOs have led to the emergence of "superpests" and "superbugs" that help corporations like Monsanto sell more dangerous pesticides. The word “pesticide” is a misnomer because pesticides kill many beneficial insects such as bees, so why do we use it?
   The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which is an accredited provider of medical education for health care professionals, has even asked physicians to avoid GM foods because of the risks seen in animal studies.

  The British Soil Association has conducted an exhaustive review of all the scientific literature published between 1999 and 2007 that addressed the question of whether or not organic agriculture could feed the world. Every one of these papers concluded that organic farming has the potential to feed the world’s population. Even the UN concluded that shifting our agriculture model to small-scale, sustainable farming is the only way we can successfully feed the world in the future.

  Both Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva are an inspiration to me because of their knowledge, clarity of mind, boldness and commitment to important causes. Jane Goodall is the leader of Roots and Shoots. Feel free to check this movement.

   Jane Goodall mentioned the seed savers in Decorah, Iowa. I am very thankful for these seed savers who preserve the legacy of organic seeds that are not contaminated by GMOs. They have been doing this since 1975. We appreciate their work; our organic vegetable gardens are the best evidence of our thankful attitude.

  There are many captivating stories in “Seeds of Hope”about how gardens empower individuals  and communities in many ways.

Vandana Shiva created Navdanya, a movement in India for saving seeds, protecting biodiversity, and spreading ecological methods of farming. They created more than one hundred community seed banks which have provided open access to grow  tasty food with no external inputs, increasing both their nutrition and their incomes. These seed banks rescued farmers in times of climate extremes, including droughts, floods and cyclones.

  I was a bit surprised that Dr Goodall did not discuss the story of amaranth, a kind of food rich in iron and protein. It was thrilling to discover this nutritious food recently. I will tell you more about the history of this seed later in this post.

  Bear in mind that taking a shower takes about 25 gallons of water, but manufacturing a hamburger takes 3,500 gallons.  Don’t worry, I have not given up on my shower, but I haven’t eaten a meat hamburger for a long time. Besides wasting water, meat consumption is also worsening climate change.

Let’s talk about The Clean Power Plan. Those who claim to care about human health should be paying attention to it.

The Clean Power Plan would lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks a year, 300,000 fewer missed work and school days, and 3,600 fewer premature deaths a year. The Republican administration is not impressed by these numbers. They are in the process of discarding the Clean Power Plan to serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry.

   Clean energy means clean air and water. When you use solar  and wind energy you are not polluting the water and the air. When you use coal, gas and oil you ARE poisoning the air and the water and you are relying on a resource that will not last forever. On the other hand, by using wind and solar energy we are not depleting the Earth of any resource. It is a kind of recycle-reuse strategy that works in harmony with Mother Nature.

 Contrary to what Big Oil will tell you, clean energy fosters the creation of new jobs and strengthens the economy. I wrote an article about clean energy a while ago; it was published in The Mindful Word. Those who love the poorly educated do not want people to understand the need for clean energy and how it makes a difference in the well-being of human beings and the planet.

 When a  powerful man acknowledges climate change to protect his golf course but not to protect humanity and the environment, you know we are in trouble. Speak up and educate yourself. Educating yourself is the best vaccine against demagoguery and the manipulation of the masses.

 This kind of manipulation is similar to what the tobacco industry did to hide the truth about the effects of smoking. They did not care that people died of  cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and other types of cancer. They were concerned about the profits they made from people's smoking habits. Do you believe that making people sick helps the economy? It does just the opposite.
  The same situation applies today when we think of those who defend the interests of coal, oil and gas while they destroy the planet along with the health and livelihoods  of millions of human beings. In fact, some of the same people who defended the tobacco industry now deny the man-made climate chaos that our planet is going through.

 I am married to a man who has a passionate interest in solar energy. A few months ago we had solar panels installed on our roof. We now produce 50% more energy than we use, which means that we are supplying our community with clean energy.

 Our goal for the near future is to buy no gasoline. We are working progressively toward this goal. Our strategies include biking more and using an electric car which we can power with solar energy.
What are your goals? What are your strategies to get there?

 Let’s talk about clean water.

 We all know that water is a basic right. Without water there is no life. We should all have access to drinking water and protecting water should be considered a priority. The Clean Water Rule was created to protect streams, lakes and rivers. It helps to safeguard the drinking water of millions of Americans. The Republican administration, however, is planning to get rid of this regulation to allow industrial agriculture and other industries to pollute the water.

  Water shortages are on the rise in the world. The United States is not an exception.  Do you know about the legal battles between the states of Georgia and Florida, for example? Alabama was also involved in these legal battles. In the meantime, the Republican administration increases the budget of the military while it cuts down on the environment.

What is their next strategy? How are they planning to address the water shortages? Are they going to make up an excuse to invade another country and steal their water?

 Destroying people’s livelihoods in other countries has nothing to do with freedom, regardless of what the interests of the war industry tells you. Let’s ignore the everyday fossil fuel- propaganda and use our critical thinking skills.

 Water is not something that should be taken for granted. Many conflicts masked as religious or ethnic conflicts have to do with water. Scapegoating and fundamentalism are the weapons of the demagogues. Stay mindful.

In Syria the civil war broke out after a severe drought struck the nation. Industrial agriculture had eroded the soil and they were not able to withstand the consequences of the drought.  They lost 80 % of their crops.

  Climate change causes droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters (or I should say unnatural disasters). It is also associated with the melting of ice sheets and the rise of sea levels. Complex problems demand multiple actions on multiple levels. They require behavioral changes and collective awareness. They call for mindful choices. 
 Denying the existence of these issues and discarding regulations that ensure the health of our communities is not intelligent. It is stupid and dangerous.

   Let’s make this clear: The Republican administration is planning to review the Clean Water Rule because they have an interest in getting rid of it. Do you think it is patriotic to enable the pollution of water ? Are you aware that water shortages are on the rise?  Do you think enabling the pollution of the waterways is an act of respect for present and future generations? Do you think it is acceptable to do this? 
  I believe it is akin to an act of terrorism, and it is also deplorable. If you agree with me, speak up. Call your Representatives, write letters, educate others. Apathy is part of the problem, so let go of it.
I know, I know. Women are expected to apologize for everything—for what they do, and for what they don’t do. The good news is that I am not going to apologize for expressing myself.

  Thankfully, I was raised by a father and a mother who taught me to value, respect and honor Mother Nature. They also taught me that I have the right to express myself. If somebody has trouble understanding this basic principle, they should go read the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

   We are water, air, soil. Why can’t they understand that harming Nature is harming ourselves? Such is the power of arrogance, shortsightedness and greed.

 Our garden produces food and is a haven for wildlife. It attracts pollinators, fireflies, birds and many beautiful creatures that brighten our spirit and perk up our moods.

 We celebrate their visits everyday,  even though we know how challenged their existence is by different factors. One of them is the stupidity of those who use lawn weed killers.

 Thankfully, there is a movement to educate others on the effects of lawn weed killers and on the need to put pressure on those who are in power to stop spreading these dangerous chemicals on public parks, day-care centers, playgrounds, schools, public libraries and other places. The massive use of these pesticides has a health cost.

Do you believe it is smart to poison your children to get rid of some weeds? Do you believe it is okay to pollute the water, air and soil with these pesticides?

Has anybody wondered why cancer in children is increasing

 Another important point that deserves your urgent attention is the Endangered Species Act. Republicans in power believe that there is no need to keep this important regulation. Do I need to say more?

 Let’s go back to the story of amaranth now. This food was grown by the Aztecs. They worshiped it and believed it had special powers. Then the Europeans came. They wanted to impose their Christianity upon them, so they destroyed the plantations of amaranth and they punished those who possessed this nutritious food. Yet amaranth survived.
  How did it happen? Perhaps somebody dared to save the seeds. Despite the oppression of those who believed they were superior to others, amaranth survived.This is a story of hope.

To finish this post I will introduce you to one of my peaceful friends: a Red-Wiggler, also known as Eisenia fetida. These Red Wigglers are a kind of earthworm that we keep indoors. They turn our garbage into food for the plants. This is called vermicomposting. We also rely on outdoor composting  which is more efficient during this time of the year compared to vermicomposting due to the summer temperatures; it is performed by other kinds of earthworms along with bacteria and fungi. They all transform our trash into nutritious food for the plants. By doing so, they enrich the soil.

 Whenever the soil suffers from some kind of nutritional deficiency, it passes it on to the plants, and from there to animals and human beings.

The more living organisms a soil contains, the more fertile it is because all those organisms are the ones that confer fertility to the soil. The soil is a reservoir of water. Its water holding capacity depends on these organisms. The efficiency to drain water also depends on them. Thanks to them the soil is more resilient to droughts and floods. The nutrition and all the beneficial properties that make it fertile depend on these living things.

 Our nutrition is related to the life of the soil. Therefore, the health of the soil is NOT dissociated from human health, no matter how much industrial agriculture ignores this by injecting chemicals into the soil.

 Healthy soils build healthy plants, and healthy plants give rise to healthy communities (the opposite is also true).

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to visit these blog posts I wrote not too long ago:

 “If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk, crawl, but never stop moving forward.” Martin Luther King

Note: this post was updated to add this photo of our solar panels and some links that are pertinent to the article.