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The Barley Mow
Reaping what we sow
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NEW CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE ADOPTED FROM ZAMBIA ...

NEW CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE ADOPTED FROM ZAMBIA ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 Numerous Interventions have been designed to protect the environment in Uganda. But conservation agriculture is being considered as well. This is where the farmer tills the ground without turning over the soil, preserving the environment in the process and raising domestic incomes. A few model farmers in 10 districts have taken up the new system, which was adopted from Zambia, where it has been highly successful.

 

Conservation Agriculture is being implemented under the Conservation Agriculture Regional Program (CARP) funded by the Royal Norwegian Government ...

 

 

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Banned Pesticides Found in Connecticut Wells - Beyond Pesticides

Banned Pesticides Found in Connecticut Wells - Beyond Pesticides | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Health officials in Connecticut are telling residents who drink from private wells to test their water for the banned pesticides chlordane and dieldrin, after a study from the town of Stamford, CT found at least one of the toxic chemicals in 195 out of 628 wells tested. Over half of the wells that tested positive for one of the pesticides were found to contain concentrations at levels above what the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers acceptable.

 

Both of these chemicals, discussed at length in Rachael Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring, were widely used throughout the country before their ban in the late 1980s. Since then, these chemicals have revealed themselves to be pervasive in our environment. In 2007, Beyond Pesticides wrote on the discovery of chlordane on the grounds of a New Jersey middle school at levels above EPA limits. In 2009, the U.S Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and EPA conducted a survey that found chlordane in 64% of U.S households sampled. 

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Organic Food Purists Worry About Big Companies’ Influence

Organic Food Purists Worry About Big Companies’ Influence | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Large corporations now dominate in organic foods, and some people think this has led to a watering down of the industry.

 

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.

 

Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo, of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Healthy Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup.

 

Over the last decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others — Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them — have gobbled up most of the nation’s organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore.

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Uprooting GM Crops with Creole Seeds

Uprooting GM Crops with Creole Seeds | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

... the industrial agriculture model pushed by corporate giants and their door-to-door salesforce is based on the use pesticides to which insects, microorganisms and weeds become resistant, demanding ever higher doses of the same inputs or the use of more expensive ones. In other words, industrial farming is addicted to agrochemicals. This dependence on poisonous compounds creates an unprecedented and costly public and environmental health problem. Since 2010, for instance, Brazil has surpassed the United States as the world’s leading consumer of agrochemicals. Currently, each person in Brazil consumes over five liters of pesticides and contaminated food per year. ...

 

The Peasant Popular Movement (MCP) is working with peasant farmers like Seu Lazaro to identify and restore local practices and seeds that were replaced by GM seeds and pesticides. Through popular education like the small demonstration plots using Creole seeds, MCP also promotes the use of agroecological practices such as the diversification and rotation of crops and the use of natural fertilizers. One such practice, Agroecological Corridors, combines crops with natural fertilizer species that recuperate soil fertility.


Via Maria Nunzia @Varvera
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Profitable palm oil leaves environment poor - CNN

Profitable palm oil leaves environment poor - CNN | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Palm oil production threatens tropical forests, peatlands, and wildlife habitats, environmental groups such as Greenpeace say.

 

More than 10% of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia over the last 20 years occurred to make way for palm oil plantations, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). In Indonesia, an average of 300,000 hectares is lost annually to palm oil clearing, the report said.

 

One of the major consequences of deforestation is the effect on climate change. "Because forested land, especially forested peatland, has a high carbon density, the production of palm oil on deforested lands causes disproportionately greater...global warming emissions than an equal area of non-forested land," according to the UCS report.

 

The group estimates that growing and refining each metric ton of crude palm oil produces the equivalent of 0.86 metric ton of carbon dioxide or 860 kilograms.

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Organic tomatoes vs. conventional tomatoes: Is there a nutritional difference?

Organic tomatoes vs. conventional tomatoes: Is there a nutritional difference? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Differences between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used in both cases. "Organic farming doesn't use nitrogenous fertilizers; as a result, plants respond by activating their own defense mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants," explains the first author of the article, Anna Vallverdú Queralt. "The more stress plants suffer, the more polyphenols they produce," points out lecturer Lamuela.

 

Numerous scientific investigations show that the consumption of these antioxidants has numerous health benefits. Researchers claim that more studies of clinical evidence are still needed to be able to state that organic products are truly better for our health than conventional ones. Lamuela would like to carry out a study with humans comparing organic and conventional tomato consumers.

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France loses its harvest wild flowers

France loses its harvest wild flowers | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The poppy still flourishes, but other familiar plants are getting rare or have already disappeared...

 

Some wild flowers have already vanished from the French countryside.Pheasant's eye, cornflower, corncockle and Venus's looking glass are getting rare. The environment ministry is preparing a plan to preserve these plants, whose life cycle is closely linked to the harvest.

 

"All over Europe the situation is the same, with these species in serious decline," says Amélie Coantic, at the ministry's wildlife department. "Out of 102 varieties identified in France, 52 are under threat and seven have already disappeared." ...

 

France's national plan for 2012-16 will include an overall inventory and the introduction of agro-ecological zones which must provide strips for wild flowers. "We may consider encouraging reseeding or setting aside more land as fallow," says Coantic. The specialists believe that to save these species the use of herbicides and fertilisers will have to be reduced, with a return to shallow ploughed furrows.

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Natural Food Coloring from Tomatoes! | Care2 Healthy Living

Natural Food Coloring from Tomatoes! | Care2 Healthy Living | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Some readers might remember an article I did a while back about the insect-derived dye called 'carmine' or 'cochineal': “Many consumers may not yet be aware.

 

Tomat-O-Red® is a patented tomato lycopene-based food coloring formulated to deliver vibrant, stable red colors for a wide range of food and beverage applications. A natural food ingredient, Tomat-O-Red is a safe, vegan and kosher alternative to other common red color additives produced from insect extract, specifically cochineal extract or carmine, or synthetics.”

 

Tomat-O-Red isn’t marketed to consumers, since it’s a food industry product. However, we can help to create demand for its use by contacting companies and asking them if their ‘natural colors’ are animal- or plant-derived. If they’re still using the antiquated ingredient known as carmine or cochineal, we can now let them know that there is an alternative available.

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Wisteme | How do pesticides and toxic chemicals become pollutants of nonpoint sources?

Wisteme | How do pesticides and toxic chemicals become pollutants of nonpoint sources? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Pesticides typically enter a waterbody through surface water runoff, often from a farm field or from neighborhoods where they are applied on lawns. Pesticides can also enter a waterbody as a result of "spray drift." This occurs when the pesticide is sprayed over an area, and the wind blows some of the spray into a nearby waterbody. ...

 

Toxic chemicals, such as spilled oils and fuels in cities, are often washed off streets, down storm drains, and into waterbodies. Combustion of fuels in automobiles and factories introduces hydrocarbons and metals into the environment. They eventually end up in the water through atmospheric deposition or runoff. Industrial facilities without the proper means to control runoff can also contribute toxic chemicals to the aquatic environment. The type of chemical that is released depends on the type of manufacturing done at a facility. Other chemicals, such as solvents, paints, cleaning solutions and others, originate from marinas and boating activities.

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People Don't Want to Eat Pesticides

People Don't Want to Eat Pesticides | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Chemical agribusiness has finally hit the ceiling over Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), a front group for pesticide sprayers, is demanding that we cease publishing our list showing which fruits and vegetables carry the highest levels of pesticide residue.

 

Conventional growers would rather that consumers--that is, their customers--not have that information before they walked into the supermarket.

 

Millions of Americans have come to rely on EWG's Shopper's Guide so they can eat plenty of healthy organic and conventional fruits and veggies without a bunch of pesticides. The AFF will have none of it. Its members want EWG to take down the Dirty Dozen (listing the 12 most pesticide-laden sorts of produce) immediately!

 

We won't. And as long as the AFF's members continue to spray pesticides on food, EWG will continue to tell the public which crops carry the highest and lowest pesticide deposits.

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Small seeds’ producers preserving biodiversity and food variety | Cycloasis

Small seeds’ producers preserving biodiversity and food variety | Cycloasis | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The association Kokopelli works with several local and mostly small producers to grow plants, herbs, and vegetables for their organic seeds. This means that different varieties are grown that have almost been lost and/or have been evacuated by the agro-business.

 

Just think of the different types of cucumbers one can find in a supermarket, usually only two: ‘normal’ and organic! On a yearly basis Kokopelli takes stokes of the need for certain types of seeds and checks with its network of small producers who can grow which seeds for that year. ...

 

Part of his production is for the seeds which are sold to Kokopelli and the rest of the vegetables are for sale, mostly direct sales to local consumers. I have never seen and eaten so many varieties of salads; a delight for the tastebuds!

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Saturday Series: An Interview with Sarah Alexander

Saturday Series: An Interview with Sarah Alexander | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Olivia Arnow Nourishing the Planet’s new Saturday Series, in which we interview inspiring people that our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems.

 

Sarah Alexander and the Keystone Center work to facilitate problem-solving models in the areas of sustainability, agriculture, and environmental cleanup.

 

Bio: Sarah serves as the Director of Environmental Practice for The Keystone Center. Her work with conflict resolution and consensus building on sustainability issues over the past 18 years has resulted in important agreements, innovations, and policy impacts for agriculture and land use.

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Parque de la Papa: Preserving Potato Biodiversity in the Andes

Parque de la Papa: Preserving Potato Biodiversity in the Andes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The Andes Mountains are home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. Settled in the heart of these mountains near Cusco, Peru, lies Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), a park dedicated to preserving this biodiversity and protecting one of the world’s most widely-recognized crops—the potato.

 

Parque de la Papa is home to over 1,100 varieties of potatoes.


The potato is believed to have originated in the southern Peruvian Andes, where indigenous groups used 20 native varieties to domesticate the crop and create some 2,300 new varieties. The park itself is home to more than 700 local varieties, over 400 varieties repatriated from the International Potato Center, and 5 wild varieties.


Parque de la Papa is made up of more than 6,000 people who live in six communities. These six communities of native people used to be separate from one another, but now they are united in an effort to preserve and recover the biodiversity of their potatoes.

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Banks forcing farm sales - National Rural News - Agribusiness and General - Finance - Stock & Land

Banks forcing farm sales - National Rural News - Agribusiness and General - Finance - Stock & Land | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
BANKS are forcing more farms around Australia to sell as debts become unmanageable and commodity prices are in the doldrums.

 

In the past few weeks dozens of farms have come up for sale, with marketing campaigns including receivers' branding or comments such as "Must be Sold", "Mortgagee in Possession" and "In Liquidation – Need to Sell".

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Eye-roller: Want cheap food? Don't let the climate change ...

Eye-roller: Want cheap food? Don't let the climate change ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

US consumers face rising food prices in the next few months, because adrought in the Midwest has pushed up the cost of corn. But that is just a taste of things to come. A new report suggests that by 2050 many UK consumers will be unable to afford current staples like meat, – and the same pressures will apply globally.

 

Farmers around the world will face two challenges, both of which will drive up food prices, according to the report – What’s Cooking? Adaptation & mitigation in the UK food system. They will have to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time cope with the consequences of the climate change that does occur such as more extreme weather events.

 

These two pressures will play out around the world, but the effect on the cost of food production may well differ from country to country, says Mirjam Röderat the University of Manchester, UK, who is one of the authors of the report. Other countries may rely less on imported food, or have more resources to help them adapt their food production infrastructure.

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Nature fights back - bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance

Nature fights back - bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Reports of increasing rootworm damage began coming in last year after Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann published a study saying that the rootworms in Iowa were becoming resistant to GM corn, creating so-called "superbugs." Farmers in several states found that the western corn rootworm was surviving after ingesting an insecticidal toxin produced by the corn plants.

 

With both demand and prices high, many farmers are planting corn year after year and on more acres, increasing the possibility that resistance could develop. Typically, corn farmers have had to rotate corn crops to minimize pest pressures. But with Bt corn, many simply planted "corn on corn," year after year. Federal regulators require a 20 percent "refuge" of non-Bt corn near Bt acres, but many growers have ignored that and oversight has been lax.

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Australia - Lethal pest is a beekeeper's nightmare

Australia - Lethal pest is a beekeeper's nightmare | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Bee experts believe it is a matter of when, not if, the varroa mite arrives on our shores. When it does, its impact will be far reaching.


In Australia, European bees support a $90 million-a-year honey and beeswax industry, but more significant is the role their feral siblings play pollinating hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops, fruit trees, nuts and vegetables.


This free pollination service is worth between $4 billion and $6 billion to the country's agriculture and horticulture sector.

 

An agriculture and pollination consultant, Gerald Martin, says two-thirds of the country's fresh food depends on bees in some way.

 

A 2007 CSIRO report found at least 25 crops including sunflowers, cherries, pears, rockmelons, watermelons and avocados needed bees for some or all of their pollination.


Via SustainOurEarth
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Organic & natural items grabbing bigger share of supermarket shelves - Indianapolis Star

Organic & natural items grabbing bigger share of supermarket shelves - Indianapolis Star | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

There seems to be a race to pure foods among the nation's largest supermarkets as they ramp up their offerings, even launch their own brands of organics and naturals, and then heavily advertise the healthy choice. It all makes sense, considering sales of this segment of groceries are outpacing traditional grocery sales.

 

Nationwide, natural and organic food sales grew 8 percent in 2010 versus the less than 1 percent growth in the $630 billion total U.S. food market, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. It grew at about a 5 percent rate each year from 2005 to 2009. With that growth and popularity comes a definite consumer advantage: Slowly but surely, the price of natural foods is falling.

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Mexico City Shoppers Swap Trash for Fresh Food

Mexico City Shoppers Swap Trash for Fresh Food | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The idea of trash as food may be a bit controversial (especially if you bring your dumpster-dived delicacies to a pot luck), but trading trash for food has proven wildly popular in Mexico City.

 

The sprawling city's 20 million residents generate some 12,600 metric tons of trash a day, a figure the government is keen to reduce, especially following the closure last year of the massive Bordo Poniente landfill. One of the solutions it has devised is a monthly barter market, the Mercado de Trueque, where people can swap recyclables for farm-fresh produce.

 

The concept was an immediate hit: According to Fast Company's innovation blog Co.Exist, the first market "sold out, exchanging nearly three tons of 60 agricultural products for trash."

 

"This innovative program is designed to show citizens directly and tangibly how what we call trash becomes raw materials," the Ministry of Environment wrote on its website, according to a translation by Co.Exist, which added that the program creates a "direct link between sorting and exchanging waste and a sustainable food supply."


Via Alan Yoshioka
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Mapping conservation ‪agriculture‬ by number of ‪farmers‬ employing ‪notill‬ practice worldwide

Mapping conservation ‪agriculture‬ by number of ‪farmers‬ employing ‪notill‬ practice worldwide | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Find the original pdf file here:- http://insights.ifpri.info/files/2012/06/infographic_notillage.pdf

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GMO Dangers as Reported by Genetic Engineers

GMO Dangers as Reported by Genetic Engineers | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Aren’t critics of genetically engineered food anti-science? Isn’t the debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) a spat between emotional but ignorant activists on one hand and rational GM-supporting scientists on the other?

 

A new report released today, “GMO Myths and Truths”, challenges these claims. The report presents a large body of peer-reviewed scientific and other authoritative evidence of the hazards to health and the environment posed by genetically engineered crops and organisms (GMOs).

 

Unusually, the initiative for the report came not from campaigners but from two genetic engineers who believe there are good scientific reasons to be wary of GM foods and crops.

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pesticides on fruit | The Worst Summer Fruits | Rodale News

pesticides on fruit | The Worst Summer Fruits | Rodale News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Toxic Fruit?


Summertime is the height of fruit season. At no other time of year can you get fruit that tastes as juicy and sweet as it does right now. The only problem? Most of it has been soaked in pesticides. Fruit is notoriously difficult to grow organically and without pesticides, says Jeff Moyer, farm director at the Rodale Institute, an organic research institution. "Fruit is colorful and high in sugar content," he adds. "We all, many insects included, love sugar." Because most fruits have soft skins, the pesticides that are used to kill those bugs (and the molds and fungi that also love fruit) get into the flesh and into your mouth, and no amount of peeling or washing can remove them.

 

Each year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Pesticide Data Monitoring Program and issues a list of the most and least pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. Following are the fruits you should always buy organic because of the high levels of pesticides found on—and in—them. Of course, "if your choice is between a chocolate doughnut and a conventionally grown peach, the peach should be the obvious pick," says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at EWG.

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Iowa Farmer Today’s » Soil moisture reserves shrinking

Iowa Farmer Today’s » Soil moisture reserves shrinking | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The following is a balance sheet of sorts for soil moisture and moisture use for two locations in northwest Iowa. This info illustrates the point of two distinctly different moisture patterns in two locations that are not that far apart.

 

This information is kind of theoretical and should not be considered absolute. For example, I doubt if the estimated remaining moisture level for Sioux rapids is actually 9.2 inches – since there has likely been some loss of rainfall from runoff and tile drainage.

 

The Kanawha location shows an area that was dry last spring and continues to be dry this summer. Moisture use is about 0.25 inch per day this time of year – so this shows about a twelve-day supply of moisture for this location. Again, I do not think this is absolutely correct, but it gives you a good idea of the seriousness of this weather pattern.

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Tourists, including Prince Charles, drawn to Transylvanian farms and nature ... - Washington Post

Tourists, including Prince Charles, drawn to Transylvanian farms and nature ... - Washington Post | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

“This area is Europe’s last great lowland landscapes ... and this part of Transylvania is unique — miles and miles of wildflower-rich grasslands, rolling hills with oak and beech forest sheltering wolves, bears, and eagles. And all this is still in ecological working order, in which small-scale farmers coexist with the richest natural diversity of anywhere in Europe,” said Nat Page, a former British diplomat who now works as a conservationist.

 

After communism ended in 1989, the region spiraled into economic and social decline as tens of thousands of well-educated young and middle-aged Saxons, descended from a Germanic tribe that settled here in the 13th century, emigrated to Germany in search of better jobs and a more stable lifestyle. Their administrative and farming skills and business savvy left a dent in the community, but another trend is emerging: Entrepreneurs and conservationists, mostly British, are moving to Transylvania to turn the bounty of the land into a thriving and sustainable business while respecting the environment and providing a livelihood for local residents.

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Family Farms, Conscious Consumption, and Ecological Profitability: An Interview with Bev Eggleston

Family Farms, Conscious Consumption, and Ecological Profitability: An Interview with Bev Eggleston | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Kevin Robbins On Sunday mornings at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market in Washington, D.C., you can find bouquets of fresh flowers, bundles of brussels sprouts, and buckets of local apples.

 

It’s simple: if it makes ecological sense and it makes profit, then it’s ecological profitability. And it has to be both. We could just be ecologically sound or just economically viable—plenty of people have done that. But ecologically sound while economically profitable? That’s like a lost art form. Thankfully, we’re starting to remember.


Focusing solely on profits and maximizing output—with no regard for the earth, the animals, or the quality of the food we’re putting into our bodies—this kind of thinking has made a mess of our food system and of farming in America. I believe we still have some tough times ahead, but I’m optimistic. I know there’s a new crop of farmers out there who want to learn how to grow food in a way that is ecological and profitable.

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