Posts Tagged ‘Monsanto’


“Occupy your Kitchen?” I like the sound of that…

October 30th, 2011

“It is indeed heartening to see people in the streets, indignant over what the 1% is doing to the 99%. They’re right to complain about such excessive and flagrant greed. But one thing they seem to be missing is that the Wall Street fat cat tycoons have nothing on the pigs at the trough of industrial agriculture. If you think bank consolidation is a problem, you should take a look at the monopolies that the likes of Monsanto have built.” -Kurt Michael Friese

In the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I can’t help but get drawn to this article in the Huffington Post Food section entitled, “Occupy your Kitchen,” by Kurt Michael Friese, chef, author and advocate. Its frustrating to see the majority of this country blind to a problem that poses just as great a threat to our livelihood as bank consolidations and repeated bailouts.

Monsanto is an enormous multinational, agricultural biotechnology company. Some of their “greatest hits” have been Agent Orange (think Vietnam), rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormones that makes cows really sick), RoundUp Weed Killer (herbicides and pesticides) and genetically modified crops like corn, tomatoes, soy beans and cotton. They also have a reputation for lies, factual omissions and being ruthlessly litigious.  In many polls, they’ve been described as the most evil corporation in the world. They sell seeds to farmers that are genetically altered to be able to survive copious treatments of their harmful weed killer RoundUp. So for some reason, while all other living plants die, their “magical” seeds are able to survive. They own the intellectual property of that crop, so if you are an organic farmer that accidentally gets pollinated by the farm next door that uses genetically modified seeds, Monsanto will happily sue you out of business. Banks may be bad but industrial agriculture is worse.

Even this kid knows whats going on!

Smart kid, but unfortunately, most people don’t give such a damn. Kurt suggests this is largely due to the fact that we have been convinced and conditioned by corporations to think cooking ourselves is as boring and tedious a chore as cleaning the house and doing the laundry. We’ve been convinced that we have no time to cook and that the microwave is our best friend and McDonald’s is your best bet because you can feed your entire family on their dollar menu. In reality, we all have time to cook, and truth is, the better a cook you are, the easier it is to feed yourself quickly and cheaply.

I’ll never forget opening the first cook book I actually bought for myself. It was Jamie Oliver’s “Cook with Jamie.” I don’t have the exact section but the main point he was making was that nowadays, everybody is extremely aware of brands and what they stand for and have strong loyalty to the brands they like. When you go out to by yourself clothes, you don’t say, “any brand will do, in fact, the cheaper, the better.” No one goes looking for the cheapest and easiest house to find for their families, no one goes out and intentionally buys themselves the worst, cheapest pair of shoes. However, for some reason, the least materialistic thing in all of our lives is somehow demoted to the least important part of our lives. When we go to figure out what to eat, its always, what is the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to feed ourselves. which usually equates to the lowest quality, most unhealthy and least flavorful meals.

Regardless of your personal opinions towards, Jamie it is one of the truest and one of the most influential things I had ever read and it is definitely responsible for changing the course of my life. It made me realize that cooking is something that I not only want to learn how to do effectively, it is something I need to learn how to do effectively. It’s not something that grandma’s and chefs are only supposed to know, its should be a ubiquitous life skill, just like math, writing, reading, driving or paying taxes. It’s not just important for being able to feed yourself, it’s importance lies in its ability to make you care more about food in general.

My theory goes like this…when you start to learn how to cook, it leads you to care a little bit more about food than you would otherwise. Once you begin to care a bit more, you discover new vegetables, new cuts of meat, new fish. You learn that vegetables you used to hate can now be made delicious as long as you cook them properly. As you’re cooking continues to improve, you discover that the quality of ingredients is really how you improve your cooking, which then leads you to start seeking better ingredients. This makes you become a smarter, more educated shopper. You’ll know which products are shit; which ones are made from genetically modified crops and filled with processed fats and additives. When you desire better ingredients and find that you can’t find them everywhere, it begins to create the demand necessary for positive change. And that all begins with cooking.

But right now, the majority of people still don’t seem to care about food. The longer that remains to be the case, the more detached we will become from food; which only means we will continue to be blind to issues that effect each and every one of us as much, if not more, than our country’s financial woes. That is why I consider posting recipes a job responsibility, it’s why I wanted to start a business, and its why I’ll continue to express my opinions in hopes that someday, it might have some affect on the issue. It is that reason why I’m so proud when someone says they actually made one of my recipes.

So if you are looking to jump on the “occupy” bandwagon, why don’t you do the sensible thing and occupy your kitchen first.

Who said GMO’s are the only way to feed the world?

August 18th, 2010

Monsanto (I hate you), does this piss you off?

For awhile now, I have felt this dread that someday the food system would become so genetically modified and corrupt that there would be little chance we would ever be able to salvage it. After reading this article on Grist.org by Tom Philpott, that dread was replaced with hope.

For years, the evil doers at Monsanto (while not busy suing innocent farmers out of business for “infringing” on their “intellectual property”) have been touting their genetically modified seeds are the answer to the worlds growing population and subsequent issue of how to feed everyone. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be viewed as a science experiment for heartless corporations trying to modify the gene structures in my food so they can make a bazillion dollars on enslaving farmers to grow their crops. Besides, industrial agriculture has not even come close to feeding the world so all you supporter of it, please just go stuff your faces with some corn doused in Round Up (its good at killing weeds and greedy, ignorant capitalists).

Well, it looks like the U.N. finally has got its wits about them. Based on the concept of “agroecology”, we now have the endorsement of the U.N. on the side of good food and good food production practices. We, as individuals can only go so far in our efforts to change the rapidly deteriorating food system that surrounds us…unfortunately we have to rely on Government policy to ensure the safety of our food system. That being said, we are stuck in a waiting game to see how this issue pans out, but at least we have hope on our side. Read the following piece from Tom at Grist.org.

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U.N. panel says sustainable farming practices can “feed the world”

The planet is due to add an additional 3 billion people by 2050, and only chemical-intensive agriculture, goosed with novel transgenic seeds, can possibly hope to feed them all. That’s the agrichemical industry’s mantra, anyway, and it has congealed into conventional wisdom.

But among ag experts, the premise is widely disputed. In fact, many experts think the ramping up of industrial agriculture will be disastrous for the environment, and instead promote “agroecological” practices that can produce plenty of food while also polluting much less.

That was the message delivered at a meeting in June convened by U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter.

So what is agrocecology? According to a U.N. report on the event, agroecological techniques include “agroforestry (planting trees and crops on the same parcel), biological control of pests and diseases through the use of natural predators, water harvesting methods, intercropping, green manure cover crops, mixed crops, livestock management, and a range of additional practices.” In other words, essentially what we think of as organic agriculture, without the rigorous codification.

Such farming styles don’t have a PR machine behind them, unlike patented biotech seeds. Yet their success has been proven, as the U.N. report shows:

The widest study ever conducted on the subject found that agroecological approaches resulted in an average crop yield gain of 79 per cent. The study covered 286 projects in 57 developing countries, representing a total surface of 37 million hectares.

Such “agroecological success stories” abound in Africa. In Tanzania, where the western provinces of Shinyanga and Tabora were once known as the “Desert of Tanzania,” agroforestry techniques and participatory processes allowed some 350,000 hectares of land to be rehabilitated in two decades. Profits per household rose by up to $500 a year. Similar techniques are being used successfully in Malawi.

Advocates for agroecology don’t lack success stories; they lack the sort of political power that comes with a multi-billion-dollar industry like agrichemicals. You can’t patent a technique like cover cropping; and if you can’t patent something, you likely can’t leverage it for cash to hire lobbyists. As De Schutter put it, “What is needed now is political will to move from successful pilot projects to nationwide policies.” Which is precisely the point of my own recent post about “why eaters alone can’t transform the food system.”

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If you hate Monsanto…like I do…tweet “I hate Monsanto” to @thefoodfreak. I wanna know who cares about this!

I’ll be writing more on this issue and more on how much I hate Monsanto as things develop.