Food for Thought, Seriously

Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the close of one year and the start of another.  For me, the end of December signals the beginning of crunch-time, work wise, so in these last few days of the year I try to take some time out to reflect on matters that are important to me.  After all, come January I will be a slave to my job with little time to ponder the bigger and perhaps more important issues in life.

If you read my article a few days ago (What is an Activist? One Woman’s View), you will have learned that in my view, everyone that embarks upon the self-reliance journey is an activist.  The qualities of an activist as I have described them are not only necessary to change the world, per se, but also to affect change within our own personal life and sphere of influence.

And so, as I continue to ponder, I share with you some thoughts on the coming year as it relates to our health and the food supply.

A bit of background:  unless you have been hiding in a cocoon, you have undoubtedly heard about the preponderance of mutated seeds (more typically referred to as “genetically modified”) that are being used to grow the next generation of crops – crops to feed America as well as the rest of the world.  These same mutated crops have been fed to animals for quite some time and that, along with toxic pesticides, represent a problem to our health and to the safety of the food we eat.

Monsanto – The Current Bad Guy

The term “GM foods” or “GMO’s” (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.

The kingpin company for all of this seed manipulation is Monsanto.  From Wikipedia:

Monsanto’s development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation, political lobbying practices, seed commercialization practices and ‘strong-arming’ of the seed industry have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the alter-globalization movement and environmental activists. As a result of its business strategies and licensing agreements, Monsanto came under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in 2009.

Monsanto is so convinced that they are doing the right thing, that employees are brainwashed regarding the merits of their research methods and the resulting products.  I recently had an opportunity to spend two days with a Monsanto employee and heard an earful about the miracles of their genetically modified super-corn and the mission of the company to feed the world, eliminate starvation and essentially control the food supply for the greater good.  Jeesh.

My take, of course, is that they are pursuing the mighty dollar.  And while the employees are both pitching and believing the company song (or is it company slime?), the executives are carting their bushels full of bonuses and stock options to the bank.  But that is not the point of this article.

So what, then, is the issue?

Rather than address the issue myself, I would like to invite you to read the article titled, “An Open Letter to Farmers and Consumers” that was recently published at Activist Post.  This article was written by Julian Rose, a British pioneer organic farmer, writer and activist and author of “Changing Course for Life – Local Solutions to Global Problems”

Now what?


A lot was said in Julian’s paragraphs and most certainly there is a lot to think about.  The thing is – and we must be honest with ourselves – not everyone can afford to pay the bloated cost of organic produce at their supermarket or even at their local farmers market.  I know that I turn my head at paying eight bucks a pound for local, organic broccoli – that is insane.  So even after reading Julian’s piece, I shake my head and wonder about the responsible and the healthy thing to do.

Three options come to mind:  growing your own food, baking your own bread and preserving your own bounty.

The growing your own food option is a challenge for people with limited space or limited growing seasons.  Still, a lot can be grown in pots, tubs or buckets; and intensive gardening, such as the type described in Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening book can greatly increase your output.

Now I do have a tip for the land-challenged:  search out a local pea patch or a sympathetic neighbor (or even a business) that may allow you to grow food on their land.  My own yard is tiny, but for the summer of 2012 a local business is letting me use some vacant property in a sunny area to grow food.  For free!  And you can bet that I am going to grow crops that I know will produce a high yield and, further, that can be preserved.

I am already growing all of our own greens – nary a single head of lettuce was purchased between the months of May and October this year, so fingers crossed it will all go well and I will have a bumper crop of my own organic tomatoes, squash and broccoli from my new-found garden plot.

And baking bread?  Simple, inexpensive, fun and delicious – an unbeatable combination.  Pick up a used automatic bread machine at the local thrift store or even better, a copy of Artisan Bread in Five.

You will be baking wholesome bread from real wheat for about 50 cents a loaf.  No strange ingredients, no preservatives, just plain, unadorned bread.  Makes me hungry to even write about it.

And, finally, learn to use a pressure canner.  Think how beautiful those rows of home canned beans or home canned tomatoes will look on your pantry shelves.  Or, if you have a freezer and an emergency backup power source, learn to freeze your food properly.  A FoodSaver or other vacuum seal device does the job quickly and easily.  Whatever method you choose, you will not only be saving money, but you will be healthier for the effort.

The Final Word

It was not my intent to go out on a tear about this but I am glad I did.

Julian’s article has become a personal call to action, not so much that I am going to hold up my sign in protest but more that I am going to continue make changes in my own lifestyle to ensure that my food supply is safe and healthy.  I can not promise that I will jump in and go 100% organic because that would be unrealistic for me at this point in time.

But as with all of my preparations, I will continue to take baby steps and will move forward with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing for both myself and my little family of two.

Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.  Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Non GMO Heirloom Seedbank
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