Why conventional agriculture should be banned

(NaturalNews) When chemicals were first introduced in farming, everyone marveled at what they could do. Yields were dramatically increased. In the beginning, the soil was so healthy, any damage done by chemical fertilizers was imperceptible, and pests had yet to evolve resistance to the insecticides. Our technologies were exported around the world as a revolution in agriculture – the green revolution.

Chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, factory farms, and genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. It just keeps coming. Almost no one calls it the green revolution anymore because there is nothing green about it, at least not in the modern ecologically friendly meaning of the word green.

Downsides to the Green Revolution
There are a number of problems brought on by conventional agriculture’s techniques. Conventional methods are inhumane to animals; they spread disease and pollution and degrade our nation’s soil and water. In the interests of sustainability, protecting our nation’s resources and improving our health, conventional agriculture needs to be banned, both in the U.S. and abroad.

A return to organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of chemicals and encourages crop rotation, will protect our nation’s arable land, increase the nutritional value of our food, and dramatically reduce our food’s toxicity.

Toxic Food
Yes, our food is toxic when grown by conventional means. Ninety-three percent of Americans tested by the CDC had metabolites of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin in their urine. Chlorpyrifos has been banned for use in homes because it has been linked to autoimmune diseases and neurological damage, but it is still commonly used on golf courses and in bait containers, and it is sprayed all over our food.

Over 99% of Americans tested, tested positive for exposure to DDT. DDT has been banned from use in the U.S. since 1972. But it’s still perfectly legal to manufacture it in the U.S. ship it to Mexico and other countries, and then have it sprayed on food, and then sell the food to the U.S. DDT has been linked to various cancers and birth defects. It is a persistent toxin that stays in the environment for an extended period of time.

The government sets limits on how much of each pesticide can be on our food, but there is no limit to the number of different approved pesticides that can be on our food or the total amount of chemical contamination. The Pesticide Action Network tells us that Americans are exposed to an average of 10-13 pesticides every day.

As a last resort, organic farmers do use pesticides; however, organic farmers use pesticides that are plant based. These bio-chemicals naturally, quickly decompose. In contrast, conventional agriculture uses a vast array of chemicals, most of them synthetic. There are over 600 pesticides used in the United States. Many of these chemicals are known to last for hundreds or thousands of years before breaking down, and they are toxic to both humans and animals. The degree of exposure to these chemicals directly affects one’s risk of developing numerous cancers, especially cancer of the brain, prostate cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma.

If growing nutrient deficient, chemical laden food isn’t bad enough, conventional agriculture has gone even further by genetically modifying our food to make it easier to grow at an even higher cost to the consumer’s health. Many genetically modified foods are modified to produce pesticides within the plant. GMOs radically alter the microorganisms in the soil, damaging the soil’s fertility. GMOs introduce new allergens, new toxins, and unknown proteins into our bodies.

“Every day we make life or death decisions, decisions about what we eat. This may sound melodramatic, but it’s true.” Superfoods RX

Studies have repeatedly shown that the nutritional content of organic food is dramatically superior to the nutritional content of conventionally grown food. Before the advent of today’s conventional agriculture, our food contained more nutrients. Organic agriculture’s predominant strategy is to cultivate nutrient rich soil. In order to add nutrients back into the soil, organic agriculture uses crop rotation and natural fertilizers. This produces healthy plants, which makes for healthy food.

What About the Soil
We must protect our nation’s arable land in order to protect our food supply for future generations. With approximately 18% to 19% of America’s land being arable, we have the world’s most abundant farming resources. Even though agriculturally viable resources are obviously of great economic value to the entire nation, our nation’s soil is treated as though it were disposable. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and petroleum-based fertilizers strip the soil of nutrients and kill beneficial organisms such as earthworms, predatory insects, and microorganisms. In order to grow anything in such chemical laden soil, more chemicals are added. This process degrades the topsoil and causes salts to build up in the land, leaving barren dirt. After this process strips the land of its agricultural viability, conventional agribusiness moves on, acquiring more farmland. Then the process is repeated, rendering more land barren. By comparison, organic farming replenishes the soil through crop rotation, natural fertilizers, and the use of time-honored, natural techniques.

Deadly Germs
A whopping 50% of antibiotic use is not for human beings but for livestock. The media is constantly warning about the dangers of overuse of antibiotics. The concern is that overuse (and abuse) of antibiotics can breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

It is commonplace to add antibiotics to livestock feed, even when the animals aren’t sick. This is because conventional methods typically overcrowd the animals so badly that too many of them will get sick without an on-going diet that includes antibiotics.

It is cruel and inhumane to force animals to live with their own waste and in such crowded conditions. To keep consumers in the dark about the realities of factory farming, many states are passing laws forbidding filming inside these factory farms. The stench of these crowded pens is unbearable to any but the most stalwart and habituated individuals, and the animals’ waste is so concentrated that it poses a risk to nearby natural water sources.

These are perfect conditions for pathogens to thrive. It provides bacteria with the opportunity for many different food sources, and many different animal hosts to infect. This gives bacteria an opportunity to develop resistance to our medications. These conditions are also ideal for viruses to spread from animal to animal and potentially to humans.

Dead Zones
Conventional farming utilizes phosphorous and nitrogen chemical fertilizers. When rain and runoff carry these fertilizers into the ocean, marine life is suffocated. The fertilizers trigger overgrowth of marine plankton. Once the masses of plankton die, their death feeds ocean bacteria. The bacteria consume oxygen, and with an unnatural overabundance of plankton, the bacteria consume just about all of the oxygen left in the ocean. Shrimp, fish, and all other forms of marine life either leave the area or die from lack of oxygen. The end result is hypoxia, oceanic dead zones. These areas are devoid of nearly all life other than plankton and bacteria.

Scientists have documented coastal dead zones, areas that are hypoxic in over 400 coastal areas. All over the world, these dead zones are found downstream of conventional farming from Chesapeake Bay to Oregon to Denmark, and to the Black Sea.

We have a vested interest in marine life. It is not only shameful that marine animals suffocate as a side effect of our farming pollution, it is also economically damaging. The ocean provides us with billions of dollars worth of food annually. Nothing of commercial importance survives a dead zone, fish, shellfish, and shrimp all either leave the area or suffocate in the dead waters. Many of these dead zones are thousands of square miles. The dead zone off of the Gulf of Mexico was once recorded as being an area larger than the state of New Jersey, 22,000 kilometers.

Pesticide residue, antibiotics, preservatives, and genetic modification directly affect the long-term sustainability of farming, fishing, the consumer’s health, and the health of those who grow and produce the food. We do not exist separately from the environment in which we live. If what we consume is polluted, our bodies become polluted. Beyond choosing what we buy in the store, we as a nation must choose, for the long term or short term, organic or conventional. This choice affects us all, even those not yet born.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/048771_conventional_agricultural_dead_zones_Green_Revolution.html#ixzz3zjDf9rRA

From Concrete to Green: Urban Agriculture Initiative Seeks to Transform LA River into Ag Oasis

The Los Angeles River flows from the Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, through the San Fernando Valley and into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. A large portion of the river is concrete.

But now, urban planners and other stakeholders envision a portion of the LA River as being home to a robust agricultural zone in the heart of Los Angeles.

Funded by a California Proposition 84 (Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond of 2006) grant, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation and architecture and urban planning firm Perkins+Will have explored the feasibility of creating an agricultural hub on the banks of the Los Angeles River.

After extensive research and community input, the conclusion was that such an agriculture hub is a viable option. Specifically, it was decided that a 660-acre area along the river in the neighborhoods of Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown is an ideal place to start such an urban agriculture project.

But rather than view the entire 660 acres as just one agriculture zone, the study has shown the benefits of utilizing several “nodes,” or areas, each one featuring one aspect of urban agriculture.

For example, Node A, located near Avenue 26, could be a great location for a commissary and food hub. Node B, near the Ed P. Reyes River Greenway in Lincoln Heights, could serve as a food incubator with restaurants, breweries and aquaponics facilities. Node C, bordered by the Los Angeles River and Los Angeles State Historic Park, would be suitable for commercial agriculture production as well as community gardens. And Node D, near Chinatown, could provide space for public events where education about and promotion of urban agriculture might take place.

Leigh Christy, a senior project architect with Perkins+Will who is helping with planning and design of the LA River food and agriculture zone, feels that many factors are in place to make this kind of urban agriculture area in the city a reality.

In addition to the support of the Los Angeles City Council, Christy cites “many small victories along the way.” Even though more partnerships are needed, and community outreach continues to happen, she says that an informal “food and ag zone” is already in place along the LA River.

“There are farmers’ markets on the ground, hydroponics and aquaponics,” she says. “There are lots of grass roots happening, community gardens, a critical mass of food processing plants, and residents from different countries growing a variety of things.”

Work on a pilot project was scheduled to begin in 2015, but the urban agriculture plan for the LA River started long before, in July 2011, when the Proposition 84 grant application was formally submitted.

Current recommendations include: utilizing already existing food-related operations and new public policies; coming up with a strong definition of what constitutes urban agriculture; improving bike and pedestrian transportation networks; creating community gardens and educational programs; and utilizing native, edible plants that are native to Southern California and that don’t require much water.

“How do you define urban agriculture?” asks Christy. “This is the question. The definition of urban agriculture is very important for this project and lends itself toward experimentation.”

Christy believes that many facets fall under the umbrella of urban agriculture, including new irrigation methods, aquaponics, hydroponics, native plants and greenhouses.

“It’s all about defining what agriculture means in a city,” she says.

According to Christy, the project has drawn interest from people not only from Los Angeles but from far away as Seattle. And some of the most vocal proponents have been high school students.

“High school students were amazing in their desire to push things forward,” Christy says. “This led to the idea of a school garden.”

There are five or six elementary schools near the study area, and Christy sees this is a wonderful opportunity to educate.

“How do we get into schools to help bring children up to be good stewards?” she asks.

In the meantime, Christy and others involved in this urban agriculture project in Los Angeles keep pursuing small victories, forming partnerships, leading walking tours, conducting information sessions and educating people about the importance of urban agriculture in the city and its role in helping revitalize not only the LA River, but entire neighborhoods.

Agriculture Inventions

Agriculture as we all know is production of agri goods through the cultivation of crops and also by the massive domestication of animals. This study is called agri science. Agriculture inventions have evolved massively by the years as farming and farm machines have grown too in these years. What was done by the threshing machine for so many years has been taken over by the combine.

One of the first agriculture invention was the iron plow used a lot those days in the 1700’s. Then came the wood plow in the 1800’s and the iron plow was discontinued as the wood plow was easier and better to use. And then man had a brain wave and discovered the use of animals in farming and tamed horses and used them in the Reaper which was used in harvesting wheat and were drawn by horses.

The Reaper was a huge success as an agriculture invention. After this man discovered he could do more and a little more machinery will be more helpful and work can be done faster and on a larger scale. The cotton harvester came in the 1920’s and it was a rage in agriculture invention. This was used in harvesting wheat on a large scale and really benefited the farmer.

Before this came the grain elevator in 1840’s it was used in separating the grain from the wheat plant. Soon the cotton gin followed which was used to separate the seeds and the hulls and the other stuff not required from the cotton. This was quite a successful agriculture invention. Man also developed the corn picker.

The most revolutionary agriculture invention was the Tractor which was invented in the 1940’s. This was the time when hand power was transformed into machine power. The tractor took over all manual work which used to take lot of time and energy of the farmers. This agriculture invention took farming to a different level.

To add on major agriculture inventions fertilizers were developed in early 1900’s. This accelerated the growth of the crops and produced very healthy crops too. A little later pesticides were also produced which helped in killing all the harmful pests which destroyed the crops, so this invention brought in a lot of development in agri-products. Open geared gas tractors were also made during this time. Disk harrow which is a machine used to cut the grain stubble which is left behind in the field after harvesting is over was also a big agricultural invention. This saved a lot of manual labor and time too as a machine can work much faster than humans.

One of the latest developments in agriculture invention is the bio-technology and genetical revolution. Bio-technology and genetics have changed the face of agriculture and farming. New ways and technology has come up in farming with this revolution.

New technology of farming has been developed by scientists and agriculturalists and has been named as urban farming. This is a big step in agriculture invention. Scientists have developed new technique called “hydroponics”, where plants are grown using mineral nutrient solutions instead of the normally used soil. Another new technique is called vertical farming where agriculturalists are growing crops in skyscrapers. This saves a lot of land problems and is a new beginning and a huge step in agriculture invention.

Man and times have grown tremendously in history and so has farming. Agriculture invention is growing as time grows by and it will take man places.

Christopher Schwebius is an entrepreneur who seeks out sharply defined, specifically focused topics to research. Upon finishing his research he provides relevant, un-biased information to his readers based on his discoveries and/or personal experiences.

Tips On How To Mix Hydroponic Nutrients Properly

There are many temptations that normally arise during the management of indoor hydroponic gardening systems. After running the garden for some time, some people are tempted to overlook the whole required process and tend to do shortcuts. However, what you should know is that the process of acquiring the right solution for your hydroponic farming systems has no shortcuts. If you don’t do the mixing properly you won’t get the best results with your plants. Ignoring certain nutrients while using more of others will only work to the detriment of your project. The plants will either acquire a stunted growth or will showcase weird growth tendencies. The mixing process is essential especially in the case of multi-part hydroponic nutrients. This happens to more complicated than a majority of growers think.

The guidelines explained below are just a pointer as to what you need to do:

Use the right proportions of water for the mixing of nutrients

The right volumes of water will give the best solution for the nutrients. Plants are known only to use completely dissolved nutrients. They can’t absorb solid substances. A major problem arises when two-part or three-part nutrients are used. In case you do the mixing in very little water or when the parts are still concentrated, there arises the formation of a white precipitate. This could come about within a span of sixty seconds or more depending on the formulation of the nutrients. Calcium sulphate is the most common precipitate formed. Dissolution becomes hard to take place especially with increased delay in dilution. The difficulty here is that you will have a precipitate that won’t be of any use to the plants within the hydroponics nutrient solution.

Just by way of advice, if you want to avoid the formation of the precipitate, ensure you add most of the water before mixing the nutrients. Also stir properly as you add each part of the nutrients.

Which of the nutrients should come first during the mixing?

The best hydroponics nutrients guide will give you the right procedure when doing the mixing. It is advisable that you start with nutrients that bear phosphate. This will have a very big bearing on the nutrient solution’s stability mostly affected by high alkalinity. High pH levels of natural water are caused by high alkalinity. The addition of more nutrient dose to the high alkaline water will only reduce some nutrients’ stability. This will hamper their usefulness to the plants. The mostly affected nutrients include sulfate, copper, manganese, iron, zinc and calcium.

Some people try to pre-adjust the pH levels of the water which has been proved to be very difficult. The best option would be to do so after the addition of all the nutrients and other solution components. You have to start with the nutrients that will lower the pH level followed by the ones that raise it.

What amounts of each nutrient part should you add?

Do not do rough measurements. Make sure you add equal amount of each part of a nutrient. Do not be deceived that the excess of one nutrient will compensate for the other.

Sweet Potatoes also called yams

Sweet potato is a staple that is grown here in Jamaica as well as several other countries in the world. It was one of those root crops grown by the Arawak Indians who inhabited the Island at the time when Christopher Columbus first set foot on the island. There are several varieties of the staple presently grown here. The three most commonly grown ones are white, yellow or deep orange when cooked.

Sweet potatoes are extremely versatile; as such they are consumed in many ways. The potato can be eaten by simply peeling away the skin and boiling with a pinch of salt. It can be diced, boiled and used to make a sweet potato salad or it can be added to soup to help enhance the flavour, in the meantime adding body to the soup.

Another very popular way to use the sweet potato is to make a candied dish. In fact this is a holiday delight for most families. The sweet potato could also be blanched, that is after peeling and putting the slices in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, they are quickly removed and paced in some cold water. These blanched pieces of sweet potato having been properly drained can be fried lightly.

Sweet potatoes can be baked as a whole. Usually, a really large size potato is ideal for baking. After peeling the baked potato, it could be eaten as is or by adding a little butter.

To be used as a snack the sweet potato could be peeled, sliced thinly and deep fried. Sweet potato chips are delectable and are always a welcome treat included in family gatherings, business meetings and any other social event.

Added to all the uses mentioned above is the sweet potato pudding. This is a pastry enjoyed in Jamaica, and a number of the islands in the Caribbean. Unlike the other uses of the sweet potato in the ideas previously advanced; in making the sweet potato pudding, the potato is not cooked, Instead it is peeled and grated.

Like most things there are several variations of the sweet potato pudding. Among these are, sweet potato with yellow yam and cornmeal, sweet potato with cornmeal and flour, or sweet potato with coco. The real delight about the pudding is the combination of creamy coconut milk, with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla with the grated sweet potato. The actual baking is no less delightful as the aroma which fills the air surely triggers all the excitement needed to get the taste buds going and the digestive juices in a state of anticipation.