Women Farmers Turn Over the Land with Success

By Susan Lutz

The roles of farmers often seem to go to men. Perhaps rooting from generations of roll assignments – the men work the land, the women raise the children and support their husbands. My family’s roots stretch back to farming. I remember the stories of my grandmothers supporting their husbands, doing the chores, and feeding the family and the extra farm hands. Without these women, the farms wouldn’t run. As times change, the farm is changing, too.

Organic lifestyles are creating demands for less pesticides, more local crops, and food grown without GMOs. Farms used to rely on the next generation of children, usually the son, to step up and take over. As large corporations took over acres, they created a mass production and marketing system and small farms couldn’t compete. We watched family farms collapse in the ’80s. Today, women are finding ways to farm with new insight and success.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that, beginning in the 1980s, women farmers were the “fastest-growing sector of the country’s changing agricultural landscape” and they will continue to be well into the next 25 years. The number continues to rise and women farmers are gaining visibility. The economic challenge for farmers has shifted from the tradition of turning the farm over to their children, especially to the boys, to the unknown. Many families turn away from the farm for work, but today more girls and women are choosing to stay. Some enter farming for reasons such as wanting to raise children in the rural lifestyle while others may see it as a profitable way to live. Some simply want to promote organic living. Some women choose sustainable farming and some undertake a larger scale.

Where does a woman, either working alone or with a partner, turn for resources? The growing number of women farmers has created new opportunities in education, management, production, and financial resources. The Internet, blogging, and social media have opened up a new avenue of community to women farmers. With a quick click, any woman can look up how to attack a cucumber beetle without pesticides or when the best time to plant a certain crop is, and they can share stories and develop friendships with other farmers.

Women are taking back the earth. Not from men, but together as partners. My grandmother and grandfather left the farm even before the economy suffered. Over time they gravitated closer to factories and industries offering steady pay. I wonder, if the resources today were available to them, would they have had a chance to grow their farm and adapt with help rather than flee in the hopes of just staying alive and making ends meet. The organic movement is so important to so many women I know. One farm at a time, we may see the land and its caretakers turn over a whole new leaf.

 

When Communities Come Together, Certain Things Happen

By Susan Lutz

Hope seems lost. So often headlines tumble us backwards, forgetting that hope exists. But all is not lost. I found hope, and more, in these stories, these people, and these communities – each bringing rejuvenation to our environment and its communities. Moreover, it’s not just hope that these stories project. Within the actions and hearts of the people in these stories, a deep certainty resides in their power to change not only life for themselves but for others.

  • Taking Back Detroit Neighborhoods with the Power of Organic and Community – Urban depression runs through many areas of large cities. Abandoned homes often represent a dark picture of an impossible task: how to bring life back to once vital areas. This Detroit neighborhood is taking back its homes and its community by using YouTube, gardening, and the support of each other to revitalize and reclaim a neighborhood.
  • Planting Trees as a Mission – This 103-year-old woman Karnataka has planted not just one, two, or even 100 trees. Saalumarada Thimmakka, from India, has for the last 50 years planted over 400 banyan trees. But that’s not all. She also fights to get a hospital in her community.
  • Urban Garden in the Heart of NYC – In a place least expected, the Urban Garden Center sprouted, providing fresh natural food and serving the community through gatherings and education. The Urban Garden Center has forged on, despite many obstacles. Their location houses a two-block stretch of city concrete under part of the railway system. What they do inspires others to bring the beauty and revitalization of greens into city living.
  • Empowerment through Fair Trade – The success of companies will no longer be measured in dollars only. Perhaps that never was true success. Some companies achieve empowerment for their community and themselves by giving back. Alaffia is a company in Togo, Africa with a mission to invest in the community. They state that their goal is to end poverty and foster gender equality. They work on things such as educational projects, maternal health, and reforestation, to name a few.

Connecting with the community, demonstrating an organic lifestyle, and helping others through cooperation with the environment, brings forth prosperity, perhaps slowly, but surely. As the large corporations struggle with profits, they now look to the little – though giants in heart – as models for the future. The power of their certainty plants seeds of true change that will benefit all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1538: NY Senator Liz Krueger

liz-krueger-500How compassionate is the New York State Compassionate Care Act of 2014 legalizing the use of medical marijuana? My guest this week, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, a lead advocate for legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and also for recreational use, gives us some insight into the pros and cons of the current bill, and why it needs to be enhanced to allow coverage for more diseases. Senator Krueger has also sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act to limit the investment in oil and gas stocks in NYS pension funds. For more information go to: nysenate.gov/senators/Liz-Kruger or send a tweet @LizKrueger

#1502: Not in a Dumpster

eva-radkeWe welcome back friend of the show, and a super green human, Eva Radke, founder of Film Biz Recycling, an organization that diverts set materials from film, television and theatre, and recycles, reuses, redistributes and re-purposes those items. “Not in a Dumpster” is the mantra of Film Biz Recycling, and there are exciting new projects which are on the horizon for the coming year. The prop shop is a great place to find clothes, furniture and collectibles that have been used to dress sets such as 30 Rock, Gossip Girls, The Amazing Spiderman 2 and many more. To find out all the great things Film Biz Recycling is doing, and to get information about the prop shop, go to filmbizrecycling.org

#1501: Eating Healthy Made Easy

Ashley-Spivack-clean-plates-2When your mom yelled “eat your veggies” she was definitely on to something. My guest this week is Ashley Spivak, Director of Restaurant Guides at Clean Plates. We discuss the importance of a well balanced, plant based eating regimen, that will lead to a healthier you. An 80/20 diet of 80% good stuff (vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein), and 20% of the foods that make you smile (pie, cookies, mac and cheese) is a good formula to follow. Bio-individuality indicates that there is no right way to eat, not every person is the same, and diets and food choices affect different body types in different ways. The Clean Plates Food Guide lists restaurants that are more conscious about where they source their produce, meats, grains, as well as the taste of the food, the prep and the atmosphere. Making informed choices whether eating out or in is essential to being a healthier, smarter and cleaner eater. For more info about Clean Plates online publications, guides, phone apps and recipes, go to cleanplates.com

The Green Stream: Beware of US Food Politics

Green-Strem-Blog-The-Many-Shades-of-GreenBy Mikey Kohlberg

The need is greater than ever to be involved in the growing sustainability and food movement. The threats that our agriculture industry pose on climate change and human survival are blatantly obvious at this point, yet it seems that many US politicians have forsaken their duty as representatives of the common good of America while instead succumbing to the pressures of politics and corporate interest. For the sake of being concise, I won’t get into the details of the destruction that Monsanto Company and similar operations are causing to humanity and to nature. For a summary of these details, click here.

Today, I am focusing more on the dilemma of Michael R. Taylor slithering his way from atop multiple powerful positions working for Monsanto Company to holding America’s health in the palm of his hand as head honcho of the FDA. And last but not least, I hope to begin to show you all how gravely this affects us all.

To start off I want to ask a question. When did it become acceptable in this country to let someone switch so freely between the position of corporate lobbyist/lawyer and policy maker in the same field? That is what FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Medicine Michael R.Taylor did. Also, do me a quick favor and google the relationship he has had with King & Spalding, a law firm that has a history of representing Monsanto. This, my friends has been called by Marion Nestle, who wrote Food Politics, “a classic example of the revolving door.”

There are those who argue for Taylor’s innocence however. Bill Marler who wrote Mike Taylor and the Myth of the Monsanto Man, claims that after knowing of him (not directly knowing him) for nearly 20 years, he is convinced Taylor is non-partial to Monsanto. Taylor himself is quoted in the article saying, “The government has clear rules about what a person can and cannot work on under those circumstances (potential partiality to an industry),” Marler then establishes his line that Taylor “follows those rules very carefully.” Marler continues to explain that when Taylor held the Deputy Commissioner for Policy (FDA) in the mid-’90s, the FDA Ethics Counsel said that he could work on general policy matters, such as policies for food labeling, but that he was precluded from any involvement in specific product approvals of interest to Monsanto. HOLD ON!

Seeing as one of the biggest US food policy issues right now is the requirement of food companies to label GMO foods, this seems like an issue that former Monsanto lawyer and VP of public policy at the largest GMO company in the world should not be engaging in! American health is at stake!

Also, according to PF Louis in his article Biotech industry at war over GMOs; millions of dollars funneled to lawmakers, “Monsanto Mike (Taylor) was able to influence the approval of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which forces cows to yield more milk while causing infections that require antibiotics. So many milk and other dairy products became contaminated with the synthetic hormone rBGH, antibiotics, and infected cow blood and puss.” If you are unaware of the futility that over antibiotic use in factory farms is causing modern medicine please check out some of these links. I encourage you to explore the topic in more detail.

Farmers-market-foodLong story short, America’s reckless agricultural techniques and lack of quality governmental oversight has created a situation in which Americans are falsely assured by their own government about the safety of their food. It is a situation that still has its solutions though. What we need is mass education which will contribute to a snowballing in consumer awareness about the importance of the local and sustainable food movement. It has started to take hold around the world but with EVERONE’S help, we will begin to change. Their have been sparks of change so far, but we need to keep the passion strong to get the fire roaring. As we eat locally and buy from small farms, food becomes much healthier, less mysterious, and more tasty. While food transportation costs and emissions are reduced, air becomes cleaner in cities and communities become stronger through community farms and other CSA projects. If you take away one thing from this blog, let it be to buy food that comes from within 100 miles of where you live!

I want to end this Green Stream blog with a note of optimism, because although there are many problems with our current food regulatory system and agricultural sector, there is much we all can do.

Buy local and Stay Green!

Find out more info about eating clean and stayed tuned for The Many Shades of Green’s interview with Ashley Spivak from Clean Plates!

#1446: Happy Greengiving

Holiday-Greengiving-tmsog copy

It’s that time of year again, when consumerism and family collide into what we call the holiday season. To help you incorporate sustainable choices into your gift giving, decorations and food, we’ve invited Elissa Olin from Green in BKLYN, Ashley Spivak from Clean Plates and Eva Radke of Film Biz Recycling to share their tips and ideas. greeninbklyn.com, cleanplates.com & filmbizrecycling.org