Monthly Archives: April 2010

Inner city aquaculture

the aquarancher

Illinois farmer, Myles Harston started the Aquaranch several years ago. It’s an integrated system using the waste-water from his tilapia production system to feed and grow basil and lettuce greens hydroponically.

Now he has helped a South Side Chicago High School set up the same system in their basement. Watch the CNN video HERE.

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Filed under ag education, agriculture, local food, organic

Farming “extensively”: sustainable aquaculture

fish food

My friend Bruno sent me a link to this awesome video. It’s a great presentation by Chef Dan Barber about a very special fish farm in Southern Spain. The farm is called Veta La Palma, and from the Collaborative Journeys website we learn…

Veta la Palama is a fish farm in southern Spain, located in an island in an estuary 16 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean.  Tides sweep in estuary water, which a pumping station distributes throughout the farm’s 45 ponds. Because it comes directly from the ocean, that water teems with microalgae and tiny translucent shrimp, which provide natural food for the fish that Veta la Palma raises.

Veta la Palma produces 1,200 tonnes of sea bass, bream, red mullet and shrimp each year.  The land also acts as the largest private bird sanctuary in Europe; including flamingos that travel in the morning to feast on shrimp at the farm, and return the same day, to their brooding ground 150 miles away!   20% of fish and fish eggs are lost to birds each year, and this is good, says the farm’s biologist Miguel Medialdea. “We farm extensively, not intensively.  This is an ecological network.  The flamingos eat the shrimp.  The shrimp eat the phytoplankton.  So the pinker the (flamingo) belly, the better the system.”

Veta la Palma provides an alternative to the more common agribusiness model; i.e., high on capital, chemistry, machines, and questionable-tasting food!

I like how, Miguel Medialdea, describes their approach — they farm “extensively” not intensively. I like that word, “extensively.”  When I heard that word I saw open arms, room enough for everyone, farming the way God himself might farm. Life and living instead death and dying. Veta La Palma looks like an amazing example of sustainability.

Click HERE to access and view the video (~20 mins).

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Filed under agriculture, big ag, environment, food, natural

A warning to fakers

there is no short cut to organic

Was sent this from GrowingProduce.com. I’ve never before heard of such an extreme case of organic fraud, but this guy is sentenced to two years in jail and a hefty fine for selling non-organic products falsely and deliberately labeled “organic.”

Read the details HERE.

And protect the integrity of organic!!

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Filed under organic, policy

New book by Rodale on why organic is the answer

Here’s a link to an Early Show post on the new Rodale book, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe.

Some good stuff on the research showing the benefits of organic. Here’s some…

Health Benefits of Organic Foods:

More Nutrients: Studies show that organic foods may have increased levels of nutrients like antioxidants than conventionally grown foods

Fertility Health: Pesticides found in conventionally grown foods have been shown to reduce fertility

Immune System Protection: The chemicals in non-organic foods may also harm your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness and some forms of cancer

Hormones and weight gain: New research has shown that some agricultural chemicals could actually be making you fat by interfering with your hormone levels.

Unknown effects of GMOs: Many people are concerned about genetically modified foods, especially since many of them have never been tested on humans. Organic foods are never genetically modified.

While in Brazil I ate organic three times a day for over a week. I ate more than I usually do, but I never felt as bloated as I do after eating a large meals at home. I don’t eat exclusively organic at home. Not sure what that means. Just saying.

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Filed under food, food-health connection, organic

Declining bee populations: pesticides blamed

the plot thickens

I did not realize this was an ongoing problem or that is was still such a mystery. The article puts forth the premise that increasing pesticide use is to blame for hive collapse, but they are still not certain.

Research conducted in 23 US states and Canada and published in the Public Library of Science journal found 121 different pesticides in 887 samples of bees, wax, pollen and other elements of hives, lending credence to the notion of pesticides as a key problem.

One thing is certain, we need bees to grow food. If our agricultural methods are destroying the worlds bee population than our agricultural methods are not sustainable.

Read the whole article.

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Bazil Day 9 — heading home

The trip is done. We are all home, but the blog goes on.

Our last day in Brazil was spent in São Paulo. We left the farm at 9:00 a.m. and napped our way in air-conditioned comfort to the big city. Marcos, Raphael and Bruno joined us. We were taken to a neighborhood of São Paulo called Vila Medalena. Jason told us it was his favorite neighborhood in all São Paulo. It was indeed very cool, a kind of artists village, with steep streets and funky shops. We ate lunch there in a restaurant named Pitanga. It served wonderful Brazilian fare. Marcos knows the owner so he set us up real nice. Everyone loved it.

Rachel A. mixing it up with the locals

After lunch we said goodbye to Marcos and set off to explore on foot Vila Medalena. We spent quite a bit of time in an alley covered on both sides with the most incredible street art I’ve ever seen. We took lots of pictures, but I had packed my camera, and the others have yet to send me copies. We they do I’ll insert them. We visited several shops but they were all too expensive to purchase souvenirs.

i am street art

Before boarding the van for the airport we said our final goodbyes to Raphael and Bruno. These two guys were so great all week. Both students themselves, they really related well to the girls. Their friendship and translation skills were invaluable to us. Again this year, Rafael took a week off school to be with us. I’m sure he is burning a big candle at both ends right now trying to catch up. I am so grateful to him for everything he did for us. Bruno (his full name is Bruno Moreno Ayrosa de Andrade) was kind of an accident. He was living in an eco-village near the coast, decided it was time to move on, heard about the farm and called Marcos out of the blue. Marcos realized his value immediately and invited to come and help during our week there. Turns out Bruno is from Illinois and went to high school with Lauren Williams, one of the students who came to Brazil last year. He speaks fluent Portuguese and so was a huge help to us all week. Plus he’s just an all-around swell guy with lots of knowledge about lots of stuff. He hopes to stay in Brazil and help is Grandfather produce high quality cachaça. If that happens we may be talking about a visit to his farm next year. To see Bruno’s photoblog, go HERE.

Bruno and Rafael

So we navigated the airport alone without any Portuguese-speaking friends and it went fine. In fact, all the travel, there and back and in between went off without a hitch. Now we are all home and scrambling to get caught up.

Thank you for reading!

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