Monday, September 29, 2008

Farmers protected against Monsanto

This is awesome:
Some Farmers Now Protected Against Monsanto Lawsuits

farmerFarmers with crops that become contaminated by patented genetically engineered (GE) seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, especially Monsanto.

But a landmark piece of legislation protecting California's farmers from crippling lawsuits has passed through both legislative houses.

AB 541 enacts protections against lawsuits brought against California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land. The bill also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to prevent biotech companies investigating alleged violations from sampling crops without the explicit permission of the farmers who own the land.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

9th Annual Renewable Round up This Weekend

I will be delivering the Opening Keynote address on How Organic & Local Food fit into overall Sustainability. It will be an absolutely riveting speech that will leave you clamoring to change the world......well, that might be an exaggeration, but you won't know unless you come.

I'm speaking at 5pm on Friday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Honey Bees & CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder

There has been a lot of press around this issue but not many answers. To us faithful Organics the reasons are intuitive, but incredibly difficult to prove. Find a (leftist) summary here:

I was at a talk by Malcolm Beck (one of the founders of Organics in Texas) a few weeks ago and he put up a slide (he always uses the old-fashioned slides) of something that looked like a cross between a bee and a fly. He had a name for it too, but I forget. He acknowledges that everyone is worried about the honey bee and what colony collapse was going to do to our agriculture...then he goes "But where did these bees come from?" He reminded us that honey bees were imported from Europe less than 200 years ago. Who pollinated the flowers before they came along? Well, these fly/bee things and other insects. How profound!

While I share the world's concern for our cute and friendly pollinators, I find it somewhat comforting that even if they disappeared, the NATIVE pollinators would then have a fighting chance at their own proliferation. Because it's all based on nectar. They pollinate, yes, but what they're really after is food for their hive. And so are thousands of other species of insects.


On a related note - eating local honey helps reduce or eliminate allergies (in case you didn't already know). For Austin, the best honey is Round Rock honey, which has the most diverse pollen profile of any of the local honeys.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Greenling listed in Women's Health Magazine

actually it's But, I think they got their entire list from our site. I had someone here research all the delivery companies in the nation and we put them on our site so people who found us outside of Texas could still use us as a resource to find one near them......their list looks a little too familiar. Aren't they supposed to ask for it? At least reference us? Not mad, just wondering. In fact, i'm flattered and am very happy that the list is getting out there. Everyone deserves access to Local and Organic goodness and I hope one day everyone can get it:

Uservoice launched - You tell us how to be better!!

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Gustin, our prodigal developer passed this on to me. If anyone has studied Emergence at all, this makes perfect sense. It does to me. Study after study shows the wisdom of crowds far exceeds the wisdom of individuals. Here's your chance to tell us how to get better and the best part is that the site helps figure out which ideas are best. Vote for your favorite idea, add your own, or just add product suggestions:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ah, the little things

I was having lunch yesterday with Corey from vcfo at el Meson on Burleson (apparently they're actually really famous for their mole sauces, but I can never get past the cochitin pibil). they make tortillas fresh daily and everything there rocks.

Anyways, we're ordering food and Corey asks for a coke. 'you want Mexican Coke or regular?' she says, not speaking a lot of english. What's the difference he asks and she replies in a cute, thick accent 'high fructose corn syrup.' Are you kidding? Here we are in a tiny Mexican restaurant on the southeast side of town in the middle of industrial-Austin and she knows the difference between good ole cane sugar and HFCS.

I was so impressed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

US Agriculture & Climate change

A supposedly (only say cause I haven't fully investigated, though it's run by a Democrat Senator with some conservative seems likely) non-partisan research group called 'Resources for the Future' published a report on the affects of climate change on Agriculture. Here's the summary and 3 main bullet points:

Despite its relatively small role in generating carbon dioxide (CO2), agriculture is frequently discussed in the context of climate change - for several reasons. First, agriculture is one of the key sectors of the economy that may be strongly affected by climate change. Second, while relatively unimportant for CO2 emissions, the agriculture sector is a major source of other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, notably nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Third, agricultural practices provide opportunities for soil-based carbon sequestration, potentially a relatively cheap mitigation option. Fourth, the recent biofuels boom is transforming U.S. agriculture in ways that have implications not only for GHG emissions and energy production, but also for agriculture and the food sector as a whole. This issue brief brings together each of these aspects of the connection between agriculture and climate change.1

IB 13
Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture

Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture

* Climate change is not expected to materially alter the overall ability of the United States to feed its population and remain a strong agricultural exporter. Generally, climate change is predicted to have overall positive but relatively modest consequences on agricultural production in the United States over the next 30 to 100 years. Longer term consequences are less well understood.

* At the regional level, however, projected effects on agriculture are considerable. Climate change is expected to reduce agricultural output in the South but increase production in northern regions, especially the Great Lakes.

* Predicting changes in precipitation patterns, extreme weather effects, pest populations, plant diseases, and other production risks is inherently difficult. Current assessments do not fully account for potential effects on agriculture from these climate impacts.

I found it very interesting that they don't think the next 10-30 years of climate change will affect overall production. It makes sense that northern areas will have longer growing seasons and produce more to offset the reduced production in the south. But the latter point is troubling for those of us who live in the south. It seems there's not much we can do about this either. Misters for our crops? Huge pergola's or shade cloth? I guess it means we'll at least be able to grow some more tropical plants. My mom mentioned she doesn't have to bring her begonias in for the winter anymore. They do just fine.

The most interesting point, though, is about carbon sequestration. I sincerely hope people pay attention to the studies out there showing 15%-28% higher carbon sequestration in Organic soil than conventional soil. Healthy soil not only produces healthy plants & healthy food, but it also helps absorb more carbon! If all of the US acreage of Corn and Soy were farmed organically, the dirt..all by itself, for free..would absorb about 290 million tons of CO2 each year. Sometimes the simplest answer also happens to be the best.