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Old 01-19-2007, 09:16 PM   #31
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All your comments have made good reading. Dina Fine, We want to know
all we can about our food. We are sure of the fresh eggs we buy from our neighbor and the veggies we can grow.

We try to cook and bake from scratch, and use the ingredients we recognize as good for us. And we buy unbleached Bread Flour for the bread I make. And eat from the long list GB gave on "good things to eat" . Plus.

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Old 01-20-2007, 11:41 AM   #32
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Normon Borlaug made some interesting points in The Economist...
"..the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is “ridiculous” because organic farming produces lower yields and therefore requires more land under cultivation to produce the same amount of food. Thanks to synthetic fertilisers, Mr Borlaug points out, global cereal production tripled between 1950 and 2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using traditional techniques such as crop rotation, compost and manure to supply the soil with nitrogen and other minerals would have required a tripling of the area under cultivation. The more intensively you farm, Mr Borlaug contends, the more room you have left for rainforest."
I do agree on buying local when possible though. But with population growth the way it is, bioengineering is going to be essential if people are to stay fed 'round the world. When it comes to grains I definetly support the large and efficent farms we have now. Veggies I prefer fresh from local farmers/gardens for their quality, and meats are come and go. Sometimes I like larger brands and sometimes I prefer local (if available).

Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:58 PM   #33
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If you are interested in reading a balanced, thoughtful discussion on any food/hunger related issue, let me recommend anything written by Frances Moore Lappe, she certainly has done her homework.

Frances Moore Lappé is the author or coauthor of fifteen books. Her 1971 three-million-copy bestseller, Diet for a Small Planet, continues to awaken readers to the human-made causes of hunger and the power of our everyday choices to create the world we want.

Small Planet Institute

She has been a long time heroine of mine.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:13 PM   #34
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You can find a quote to fit every side of an argument: Try this one:

"Advocates of modern agriculture reliant on pesticides and widespread single crop plantings (known as “monoculture”) have bragged for decades about the increased productivity their high-tech methods can yield. Indeed, several studies in the U.S., Britain and Australia have shown that such methods produce as much as 40 percent more than the more benign methods that served mankind well for thousands of years.
As a result, seed growers and pesticide makers are now working in poor countries to promote the same “green revolution” there, capable, they say, of growing enough food to feed the desperately hungry.
Research Confirms Organic Farming Produces Higher Yields
But a spate of new research has shown that organic farming actually yields better results than modern techniques when evaluated more holistically. A series of peer-reviewed papers published by the international journal, Nature, showed that organic methods for growing rice, corn and wheat all produced significantly higher yields—and at less the cost—than monoculture farms. And research at England’s Essex University has shown that farmers in India, Kenya, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras have doubled or tripled their yields by switching to organic agriculture. Cuban farmers, who cannot access fertilizers and pesticides due to the U.S. embargo, have also realized greater yields by taking up organic farming.

Organic Farming Improves Soil Fertility and Prevents Erosion
According to Dr. Christos Vasilikiotis of the University of California, Berkeley, a vocal advocate of organic farming, chemically intensive farming is highly undesirable due to the toll it takes on the land and the pollution it generates. “Organic…farming methods continually increase soil fertility and prevent loss of topsoil to erosion, while conventional methods have the opposite effect,” he says. He further maintains that “only a conversion to organic farming will allow us to maintain and even increase current crop yields.”

Organic Methods More Cost-Effective for Farmers
Dr. Liz Stockdale of Britain’s Institute of Arable Crops Research agrees, and points out that even when organic yields are less than conventional ones, organic farmers make up the financial difference by not having to buy costly pesticides and fertilizers. She adds that improved growing techniques and new natural pest controls could eventually level the playing field, giving organic farmers the economic advantage.

The Number of Organic Farms is Increasing
According to the trade group,
Organic Consumers Association, only slightly more than two percent of all farms in the U.S. are currently organic. But with sales of domestic organic food growing about 20 percent annually, the organization expects that figure to rise exponentially in years to come.
Still, though, feeding the world is a tall order, and everyone from organic farmers to environmental leaders to human rights workers agrees that ending hunger is dependent more upon political will than agricultural prowess. “Until governments tackle the social and political factors involved in poverty and food distribution, millions of people will continue to go hungry,” concludes Stockdale."
I read diet for a small planet years ago. Havnt methods of vegetarian cooking become more sophisticated since then?
Bethzaring: I love your tag line. Lets hope that there comes to be enough of us out there that can change this world for the better before it is too late. Already, we are hearing more and more about such things as slow food and sustainable agriculture. We all have to do our part.
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Old 01-22-2007, 12:21 PM   #35
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There are definetly arguments for both sides, that was the point of my posting the above comment. But botanists have been genetically modifying plants for a long time. We just have much more advanced tools nowadays that allow us to make modifications that would require thousands of plant generations (along with a bunch of luck!).

I think many farmers use a mix of the "new" and the "old". Crop rotation, both natural/synthetic fertilizers, and "genetically modified" seeds. You could argue it forever though. What about irrigation? It's certainly a modification of the soil. How about fertilizer? Many "natural" fertilizers are terrible for the surrounding environment such as manure which is loaded with fecal coliform bacteria. This ends up running off into our waterways sometimes. Why not use the elements we're after directly such as nitrogen and phosphorus?

And really, how long before something is considered naturalized? Look at the Galapagos with species being created and wiped out quite often. What does is matter whether the differentiation occurs by generations of natural selection, or scientist doing their own gene selections so that people can grow food rather than starve in areas where the "natural" crops would never survive?

Or how about the other end of the spectrum... our waste. Should we just naturally go wherever we feel the needs behind bushes and such? Or maybe irrigate the waste directly into receiving waters? Through the use of mechanical, chemical, and bio-engineered processes at work I reduce the "demand" of peoples waste on the environment to one that the receiving waters can accomodate. Likewise, I think similar technology is required on the other end to fill people's demand for sustenance in a world where we have 6 Billion+ people. As that population continues to skyrocket our reliance on technology is going to increase as well.

Just my opinion though.

Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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