Monday, May 25, 2015

'Big 6' Agrochemical Companies

[Business and Politics]

The ‘Big 6’ agrochemical companies—Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Bayer, and Pioneer (DuPont) are in a pretty scary position; scary to you and I that is.

Collectively, these companies control nearly 70% of the global pesticide market, and practically all of the market for genetically modified seeds.   Furthermore, as a result of severe drought in key growing regions, prices of the crops they focus on—corn, soy, cotton, etc.—are soaring, and higher crop prices typically translate to increased pesticide sales as farmers have more money to spend on agrichemicals and more incentive to maximize yield.

These companies operate globally, but nowhere is their stronghold greater than in the biotech-friendly US; their #1 profit center. There are two potential impediments to the continued explosion of their profits in the US, and the continued negative impacts to the healthful aspects of our foods:
1)   Any delay in the regulatory process for a new generation of seeds engineered for resistance to multiple herbicides (since Round-up is becoming less and less effective)
2)   Any major move to require labeling of foods containing GMOs, a requirement already in play in many other countries—including the European Union, China, Japan, and South Korea—and one for which the US public has expressed overwhelming support. 

Unsurprisingly, the ‘Big 6’ are investing millions of their vast profits into forestalling both of those menaces.

Full article:

Why Paleo?

[Lifestyle and Dietary]

The Paleo lifestyle takes our diet back to an earlier time, though not that long ago, when more if not all of our diet was more aligned with the hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic era) diet. I say lifestyle rather than diet to emphasize that this is a way of life, not a binge diet that you only apply for a limited period of time.  Having said that, this is quite an undertaking and discipline if one is to adhere to the guidelines of this diet.  The obvious question that follows is, "why take undertake this dietary lifestyle?"

It is thought that the Paleo lifestyle is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic and to have greater chances of avoiding the maladies resulting from our modern diet of processed foods, GMOs, pesticides, wheat, corn and sugar.

Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, infertility and more.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Documentary Film - Chef's Table

[Culinary Excellence]

Chef's Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world's most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven.  Chefs such as Massimo Bottura create visually stunning works of art and chefs such as Dan Barber exemplify the 'farm to table' movement.  This series will set not only your gastronomy ablaze, but all of your senses and your mind as well.  This is a 'must see film' for any foodie; it is rated 9 on IMDB.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fish Farming Sustainability


As the sea becomes fished out, we turn to aquaculture (fish farming), however, the operation comes with its own challenges, especially in the context of its ecological impacts, yet approximately 40% of the fish we eat world wide is now farmed.  

In her book Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappe argues that grain-fed cattle were essentially "reverse protein factories" because they required many more pounds of plant protein to produce a pound of flesh. The same can be said to varying degrees for fish farming, where often, the conversion factor is very high for the top (apex) carnivore fish, typically the kind of fish we prefer to eat. To create 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of high-protein fishmeal, which is fed to farmed fish (along with fish oil, which also comes from other fish), it takes 4.5 kg (10 lbs.) of smaller pelagic, or open-ocean, fish. To bring a 1 lb of Tuna to the the table, it takes approximately 20 lbs. of feed.  

Satisfy the feed requirements of the rapidly growing aquaculture industry poses the risk depleting fisheries. A staggering 37% of all global seafood is ground up into feed.  One third of that feed goes to China, where 70% of the world's fish farming takes place, and nearly another half is used for livestock, mostly pigs and poultry.

Meanwhile, WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, has been working with producers, buyers and various NGOs since 2004 to craft voluntary industry standards aimed at minimizing or eliminating environmental damage.  Standards will yield certifications of sustainability for a range of popular seafoods; the first, covering tilapia, is expected by the end of the year.

To read more:

Sustainable Aquaculture


Here is a delightfully told story of a fish farming operation in southern Spain that is clean, natural, balanced, and sustainable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Heated Debate Over GMO Risks Continues

[Business and Politics]

The sleuthjournal slams the New York Times for misinformation and bedding down with Monsanto and other biotech giants.  The article states:

NYT editors are in lockstep with Monsanto and other biotech giants. They outrageously claim “no reliable evidence (proving) genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers.”

Though perhaps a bit vitriolic, the sleuthjournal's position is not without basis.  The critical distinction here is the term 'reliable evidence' which is up for interpretation according to whomever.  Many scientifically conducted animal studies including those conducted by Monsanto,  show major human health risks from GMO products – including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, gastrointestinal abnormalities, and major organ changes.

Full article: