Spam, Salt, Sugar, Spam, Spam, Fat and Spam

October 5, 2014 · Filed Under Food and Drink, Political, Science · Comment 

The Netherlands is a tiny country, but even still is the worlds second largest exporter of food.  Chances are, if you eat a tasteless tomato, cucumber or gouda cheese, that’s been imported, it’s probably from here.

When the WRR issues a report [in Dutch], a think tank which advises the government on food policy, the chances are good the consequences of this will be heard around the world.

The report goes into some detail on how production of meat and dairy are bad for the environment.  Basically the problem is the animal feed here is based largely on GMO soy imported from Latin America, at great expense to the environment and livelihoods of people there.  It’s then fed to the farm animals here, which live in factory farms and poop it out.   It’s then spread all over the country, which contaminates pretty much everything.

Many farmers are extremely unhappy, because there are actually EU rules on how much animal waste can be disposed of in this way, and they are regularly at or over these limits in the Netherlands.  These rules make it much more expensive for the farmers, because they have to export the waste to other countries.

As well as polluting the environment, diets based on this food are making people fat and causing health problems all over the world.  This type of food production is also one of the major contributors to global warming.

After a reasonably good general analysis of the problem, the report advises the Dutch government to use their influence around the world to oblige people to eat less dairy, meat, sugar, salt and ‘bad’ fats.

Where did the sugar, salt and fat come from?  As far as this report is concerned, it seems to have come out of the blue.  The report has a number of citations for different things, but nothing that seems to lead to any credible justification for this.  It just is, because, well they are a think tank and so must be awesome.

Of course trying to eat less salt, sugar and ‘bad’ fat, can only lead you to more industrial processed foods.  It’s no problem to make processed foods without these ingredients.  It may really taste bad, but when you make foods in a laboratory or factory, you can make it any way you want.  Small farmers on the other hand, depend on these ingredients.

Nothing in this report suggests people should eat more locally or naturally produced food.  Could it be that the people’s message, demanding higher quality and sustainable food, is being spammed by governments and the food industry?

Kokopelli Wins Baumaux Civil Case, But EU Seed Law Upheld

September 19, 2014 · Filed Under EU Seed Legislation, Political, Seeds · Comment 

In a case that’s now been going on for 10 years, a French appeals court finally decided for Kokopelli in the matter of civil damages.  This is according to a mail sent to Kokopelli’s newsletter mail list.  Please check the Kokopelli website for more information.

In short, Baumaux claimed that Kokopelli was violating the law by by failing to register their seeds, at the cost of 150 euros for each of their 14,500 varieties.  This according to Baumaux gave Kokopelli a larger number of varieties than Baumaux, and an unfair business advantage.  The judge decided there was no obstacle to Baumaux offering the same varieties if they choose, and the 150 euro registration fee was small in comparison to the damages claimed.

The judge did however reaffirm the legality of the EU seed law, and that Kokopelli was in violation of this.  This could have consequences for other court cases.


August 20, 2014 · Filed Under Seed Saving, Seeds · Comment 

Luke of Seedwise just sent me a press release for his new marketplace for organic seeds.  I don’t know a lot about it other than this, but the idea sounds great.

An online platform for selling and buying organic seeds, directly from USA farmers
May 12, 2014, the organic and non-GMO seed marketplace, has created an online platform for organic seed farmers to connect directly with retail consumers. Home gardeners and farmers alike can now purchase seeds with the added knowledge of exactly where and by whom, their seeds have been grown.

SeedWise is breaking down one of the last barriers of transparency in the organic movement by integrating the farmer at the root level of commercial exchange. Unlike even the most well-respected organic seed companies, SeedWise allows buyers to choose not just seed variety, but also provides the choice of seeds grown in specific climates, by particular farms.

With 10 farmers currently offering seeds, the home gardener can be highly selective, choosing the same garlic seed grown in the Willamette Valley, or a mere 100 miles away in the Columbia River Gorge.

By understanding what climate the seed originates from, consumers can more accurately predict the success of the seeds in their home climate. Most importantly, by increasing the accountability of the seed industry, we can all see exactly who is growing our seeds and the practices they use. SeedWise is strictly a non-gmo, organic seed marketplace, customers can be assured that every dollar spent is a vote for their values.

The idea for SeedWise grew out of conversations with farmers who struggle to earn a living growing and selling organic seeds to larger companies and seed catalogs. Relying on the wholesale market has crippled many small seed farmers, and SeedWise was created with the intention to give these farmers more direct connection with the retail customer.

The majority of organic seed farmers get into the trade because they want to live their values by growing, breeding, and saving high quality seeds.   SeedWise is happy to provide the technical framework that allows farmers to make a living, doing what they love.

Alert: Fraudulent AVAAZ Campaign

July 24, 2014 · Filed Under General, Political · 1 Comment 

For a while now AVAAZ has been running a campaign about a ‘Global Seed Exchange’.  Emails promoting the exchange have claimed to have the support of over 20 organizations, including some located in Europe, and Vandana Shiva.  It’s all very vague.

Vandana Shiva has issued a statement denying any involvement.

There are now discussions involving a large number of European organizations, and it’s very unlikely any are involved.  We are all well connected by now.

At best AVAAZ has always been a very dubious organization, but donating to this campaign is throwing your money away.  Please help spread the word.

Sugar, Salt, Saturated Fat and the War Against Small Farmers

June 23, 2014 · Filed Under Food and Drink, Food Sovereignty · 3 Comments 

It’s in the news again.  The three evil foods; salt, sugar and saturated fat.  As if these were really foods in the first place.   We all know we are supposed to be distracted from caring about the quality of our foods, if it’s natural and if it comes from a trustworthy place, by focusing on the ingredient label for a look at it’s component parts.  The reason of course is that food companies don’t want to fundamentally change the way they produce food, to make it more natural or healthy.  Processing food a different way is however no problem, and generating consumer demand based on the ingredient list means they can just keep making small changes to their formulas, and make more processed foods to meet these demands.

A few months ago the EFSA declared aspartame safe, the chemical name for the NutraSweet sweetener.  A few minutes searching on Google will show all manner of scientific studies (like a recent one in Italy that proved it can cause cancer) or that it’s approval in the US was seriously procedurally flawed and was never proven safe, or places like New Mexico and Hawaii that have also proposed bans.  There are numerous people on the Internet complaining of serious medical problems linked to it’s consumption.  The EFSA however could find no evidence that it was unhealthy.

Aspartame is also a product of genetic engineering.  It’s not itself genetically engineered, but it’s produced with genetically engineered micro-organisms.

And the reason why sugar, salt and saturated fat are all unhealthy?  Yes, anyone??  Any credible scientific studies or even a reasonable explanation?  I personally have not seen any.

Now however, our attention is on salt, sugar and saturated fat.  One of the recent people to declare these ingredients bad was Oliver de Schutter in a recent report to the UN.  Worse than tobacco he says!  Until recently, de Schutter was one of the loudest proponents for small farmers, but if he wanted to pick three ingredients to more directly attack small farmers could he have done better?

Saturated Fat:  This is in almost all unprocessed animal products.  It’s more or less a naturally occurring byproduct of the meat and dairy industry.  It’s only by processing the dairy or meat in ways not normally done by small farmers that this is removed.  ‘Tropical oils’, like coconut and palm kernel oils are the only other major source of saturated fats, and these are a pretty small part of most people’s diets.

Not only is there not a lot of proof saturated fat is linked to health issues, but you will really only find it in unprocessed meat and dairy products, like would be produced by a small farmer.

Salt:  This or sugar are used in almost all traditional processing of food.  All pickled or fermented products (like sauerkraut), most cured meats and almost all cheese, require salt in their processing.  Other foods, like breads or potatoes, depend on salt for flavor.

Sugar:  If anything, modest consumption of sugar may be important for health.  For example, it’s known as an appetite suppressant.  For traditionally and naturally processed foods like jams or jellies, not using enough sugar can result in a runnier product with a shorter shelf life.

To declare these ingredients bad is to attack small farmers, plain and simple.  If you don’t eat salt, sugar and saturated fat, that means eating mass produced industrial foods.

Use your common sense.  Is aspartame healthier for you than sugar?!  We need to simply reject this sort of argument for our food, and punish any politicians who support it.  If overwhelming evidence that the safety of aspartame is uncertain is not enough, then empty claims over sugar, salt and saturated fat are not enough either.

One example of this manipulation at my local supermarket is with potato chips.  We are all supposed to think potato chips are bad, because they are salty and well just junk.  Right?  Actually, they are just fried potatoes.  Certainly you can buy better or worse brands, and better or worse potatoes can be used, but the principle is not a bad one.  During times when salt is supposed to be bad, my supermarket changes the formula on the house brand and increases the salt to make them almost inedible.  In this way, people who eat them in a normal way are supposed to find them too salty and look for something ‘healthier’ to eat.

In hindsight, I remember this going on in the US when I was growing up, and one of the reasons most Americans think of potato chips as a ‘bad’ food.

It’s time to return potato chips to something made by people we trust, that don’t manipulate the salt levels.

No more attacks on small farmers.  No more rules for school lunches that force kids to eat processed and mass produced foods.  No more reasons that kids (or anyone else) should be encouraged to eat dangerous chemicals like aspartame.

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