I have learned a lot about growing food from local commercial farmers. One of them invited me to a 4th of July parade so I could walk in his entourage. He was showing off his tractor. It was actually very cool to go walk down the road next to a tractor and wave at people.
At the beginning of the parade I saw a float related to agriculture and went over to it to talk to the lady in a straw hat about the Ag commission, her garden, and if I could go to its meetings and did farmers publicize local agriculture based on the fact that they are being poisoned by GMO? When we got to the GMO topic, she didn’t agree to go so far as to say “we are being poisoned.” I told her about the book, “The Science of Skinny” which is about how chemical additives to food are allowed in the USA but forbidden in the European Union because they are poison to humans. A very well dressed lady came over to join the conversation and I deferred to her and offered to take my leave. But the second lady, smiling broadly kept me in the conversation and asked what we were talking about. I told her, “The book ‘The Science of Skinny’ and how we are being poisoned by packaged food and that the way to fix that is local agriculture.”
She said, “I have that book, and I agree with it completely! My brother is a doctor and he sees children who have cirrhosis of the liver at aged 10 and it’s because their bodies can’t digest High Fructose Corn Syrup!”
I mentioned how corn based ethanol goes bad in small engines and you end up needing expensive repairs if you are not careful to run your machines out of gasoline after every use. It’s King Corn — breaking our bodies and breaking our engines!
I didn’t even bother to mention that corn based ethanol has a negative EROEI or the Gulf of Mexico dead zone from the fertilizer runoff from corn growing. Or flooding corn into Mexico cheaper than the cost of production in order to drive Mexican peasants off their land and bring them to the USA. The bad stuff happening from Industrial Agriculture would take a two semester college course and at least a dozen books to properly cover.
So we got talking about GMO. The well dressed lady said that Connecticut will now have a labeling law because another state which she didn’t remember had passed it. “Vermont” I told her. At times she didn’t know a technical aspect about GMO, and I was able to fill her in, such as the herbicide poisoning — Roundup herbicide is a metal chelator so it’s on the food and it attracts toxic heavy metals like mercury and lead molecules and so we consume heavy metals in our food.
At one point she told me who she was — someone who rubs shoulders with powerful people, and is one herself. I acted duly impressed. Then she told me the inside story about the GMO labeling fight.
So according to her, it was a private citizen, Amanda Froelich, that lobbied the hell out of politicians for the GMO labeling law. Amanda’s blog is pretty out there, even for me, but good for her!
There was a corporatist faction that totally opposed it; and a faction of politicians who said, look we are getting poisoned!, and this lady agreed that poisoned is the correct term. The first lady in the straw hat, a lower level lady who didn’t want to come off as agreeing with the lunatic fringe (me), looked shocked that the second, well dressed and powerful lady agreed with my intemperant word poisoned. So accoridng to the second lady, GMO labeling was a backbencher rebellion — the non-leaders ganged up on the leadership and forced it through. Fascinating!
The front of the parade was starting to move, and I had to get to my friend with his tractor. So I offered the well dressed lady parting words along these lines:
Tell all your friends and colleagues, the politicians and businessmen that we aren’t interested in reforming Industrial Agriculture, but replacing it. More and more of us out here are growing huge gardens, processing and storing food for the winter, and buying from local commercial farmers, because we don’t want to get poisoned. If people aren’t buying what Monsanto is selling, they are going to be in big trouble.
She said, “yes, I see it too, it’s not even the politicians that did GMO labeling, it’s that people were forcing them to do it. We had a saying in the 1960’s, people power, and you really see that with the GMO labeling.”
So that’s my story of a conversation with one of the mid level ruling elites about GMO. I can totally see what kind of people in Connecticut rebelled against GMO — upper middle class and upper class moms who are very conscious about the obesity problem and the People of Walmart and want to avoid that fate for their children, and even save teh prole kids from the poisoning if they can. People who pay attention to the world.
That’s why I say that if you got nothing else going on, go into small scale commercial vegetable farming. Get some experience from an ATTRA job here. Find something in your area, or an area you’d like to live in. A California guy did one of these gigs in New Hampshire last year. After that, he knew his stuff.
In cities, there are often pretty well paying jobs to run urban gardens so you can create Potemkin Village photo ops so liberals can take pictures of children of color working on a garden. I’ve seen 15 to 20 an hour, probably beacuse it’s very hard work, and it’s government money. You take care of it for the year, (most people lose interest by July, but liberalism is funded every year) get paid, and get some free food. Take good care of your urban garden, smile at everyone, and hopefully next year they’ll hire you back.
Anyway, here’s my garden this year:
Sweet potatoes on a trellis and cabbages in front of them. Commenter hardscrabble farmer told me I need to build a small rock wall or grow sweet potatoes against a wall or a house so the roots get heat, in order to get better yields. The sun heats the rocks and the rocks warm the soil. Good trick! The trellising should be an interesting experiment too — more photosynthesis than letting the vines just sprawl out on the ground. Next year, thoough, I’m going to have to do trenches with large rocks in them along the row of sweet potatoes.
Here’s my 11 foot trellis for tomatoes. Commenter Craig from Australia told me to do this to get tomatoes way up high. I bet I should also do the thing with teh rocks warming the soil for tomatoes too. Better luck next year. So Craig, this is because of you!
Mustard. This is a very tangy-hot green that can be hard to eat but is very good for you. Mustard greens seem to help hangovers. I think they are a detoxifying food.
Garlic scapes. I know of someone who takes garlic scapes, dices them up and lays them on a sheet pan in a greenhouse to dry, then grinds them to a spice and sells it for 6 dollars an ounce (96 dollars a pound!) Garlic is also a big detoxifier. I have lots of garlic growing wild on my property now. I could gather them up in spring and have quite a ready made garlic patch if I wanted to do so.
Rows of potatoes. I don’t hill them as aggressively as I used to do. I think I stunted them with hilling in the past. Now I let the plants just grow real tall and get a lot of greens and keep the potato bugs down with spraying. I have wire shelving in a shed that I used to let them dry out, or “cure,” before I put them up for winter storage. I have a contest with myself to see how long I can keep eating my potatoes. My best is February so far. I’d like to have enough that I have my own seed potatoes for the next year.
When food prices go up, and millions of us have to go into food production full time, we’re going to become ungovernable by modern standards. It’s going to be fucking awesome!