Blueberries and Green Beans Join EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Pesticide-Drenched Produce

Source: ewg.org

Government tests found 54 different pesticides on blueberries and 84 on green beans

WASHINGTON – Thirty years after a landmark National Academies of Sciences study warning of the dangers posed to children by pesticides, 75 percent of non-organic fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S. are still riddled with the potentially toxic agricultural chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group’s 2023 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, released today.

This year, blueberries and green beans join the Dirty Dozen™, the Shopper’s Guide section listing the 12 non-organic, or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides, based on federal agencies’ tests. Some of the pesticides detected have been banned in the U.S. or Europe because of concerns about how they harm people.

“Despite the abundance of science linking exposure to pesticides with serious health issues, a potentially toxic cocktail of concerning chemicals continues to taint many of the non-organic fruits and vegetables eaten by consumers,” said Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., EWG toxicologist.

The findings underscore the need for stronger regulations around and oversight of how pesticides are used on food crops.

The Shopper’s Guide compiles EWG’s analysis of the latest fruit and vegetable testing data from the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The 2023 edition includes data from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables, covering 251 different pesticides.

In addition to the Dirty Dozen, the guide includes the Clean Fifteen™, EWG’s list of the fruits and vegetables with very low or no traces of pesticides. The guide also features a full report on pesticides on produce and more detailed analyses about specific fruits and vegetables and what chemicals were found on them.

“Everyone – adults and kids – should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not,“ Temkin said. “A produce-rich diet provides many health benefits.

“But in the ongoing absence of meaningful federal oversight, consumers concerned about pesticide exposure can use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to navigate the produce aisle in ways that work best for them and their families,” Temkin said.

EWG recommends that consumers buy organic versions of Dirty Dozen produce and choose either conventionally grown or organic versions of Clean Fifteen items..

Blueberries and green beans

Both blueberries and green beans – 11th and 12th, respectively, on this year’s Dirty Dozen – had troubling concentrations of organophosphate insecticides, pesticides that can harm the human nervous system. Nine out of 10 samples of each of the popular foods had residues of pesticides – with some showing traces of up to 17 different pesticides.

Nearly 80 percent of blueberry samples had two or more pesticides. Phosmet was detected on more than 10 percent of blueberry samples and malathion on 9 percent. Both are organophosphates that are toxic to the human nervous system, especially children’s developing brains. In 2015, malathion was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

More than 70 percent of green beans had at least two pesticides, with a combined 84 different pesticides found on the entire crop. Six percent of samples showed residues of acephate, a toxic pesticide the Environmental Protection Agency banned for use on green beans more than 10 years ago. Green beans also had traces of several pesticides banned in the European Union but allowed in the U.S.

The health risks posed by pesticides

Pesticides are toxic by design, created expressly to kill living organisms – insects, plants and fungi considered “pests.” But many pesticides pose health dangers to people, too, including cancer, hormone disruption, and brain and nervous system toxicity. These hazards have been confirmed by independent scientists, physicians, and U.S. and international government agencies.

Most pesticide residues found by the USDA and FDA fall below government limits and are legal. But legal limits don’t always indicate what’s safe for human consumption.

The conventional agriculture industry, and even the EPA, often claim pesticides like chlorpyrifos are safe, right up until the moment they are banned because of overwhelming evidence showing they are toxic to humans.

Children are especially vulnerable to many of the health harms associated with pesticide exposure. Research published by EWG in 2020 found that the EPA, which oversees pesticide safety, fails to adequately consider children in setting legal limits for 90 percent of the most common pesticides.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents concerned about their children’s exposure to pesticides consult EWG’s Shopper’s Guide.

“EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce is a key tool for parents and caregivers concerned about protecting vulnerable children from the potential serious risks of consuming even low levels of pesticides in food,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, renowned public health expert and one of the principal authors of the 1993 National Academies of Sciences study on pesticides in children’s diets.

Also in 1993, EWG released its first report, Pesticides in Children’s Food, which analyzed federal government consumption data and pesticide tests of more than 20,000 samples of food, among other government and industry data. The exhaustive investigation found that millions of U.S. children were receiving up to 35 percent of their entire lifetime dose of some carcinogenic pesticides by age 5.

“The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen provide simple guidelines for how to pursue a diet rich in vital fruits and vegetables, while avoiding the items that might be most contaminated with chemicals,” said Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Observatory on Planetary Health in the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society at Boston College.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. Visit www.ewg.org for more information.

The Proximity Principle – Uniting Local Farmers with Local Buyers – The Imperative of Our Time

By Julian Rose | Waking Times

Independent small and medium-sized farms have been handed a death sentence by Klaus Schwab head of The World Economic Forum. Schwab, and fellow architects of top-down control, have officially let it be known that under the policy known as ‘Green Deal’ traditional family farms are no longer wanted and the foods they produce are to be replaced by laboratory and genetically engineered synthetic lookalikes. This policy is spelled out in the pages of Klaus Schwab’s book ‘The Great Reset’ which is part of the envisaged ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The British government and the European Commission are committed to adopting this insane agenda in which working farmers are to be replaced by digitalized precision robots, as part of a so-called Global Warming mitigation crusade. When properly analyzed, this is revealed as a totalitarian program for complete corporate and banking control of the food chain. A program that is designed to eliminate the independent farmer.

What Are We Going to Do About It?

There is a very straightforward answer to this question. We are going to come together at the local level and launch a mutually supportive initiative that will guarantee both the farmer and the purchaser of the farmer’s food a fair and mutually beneficial exchange.

How does it work?

Very simple. The purchaser (consumer) approaches his or her local responsible farmer and asks to buy some fresh produce. The farmer considers this proposition. Some may decline, but this will be because it has not occurred to them that the future of their current dependency on a corporate-controlled marketing regime is completely untenable under the program proposed by Mr. Schwab.

Any good farmer will not turn down an opportunity to do business with near neighbors who are in search of positive and value-for-money farm-raised foods. Especially once the farming community realizes that their future income will depend more and more upon establishing a marketplace amongst those in the immediate vicinity of his/her farm. Those who do not wish – or cannot any longer – purchase their staple food requirements from corporate-owned super and hypermarket food chains.

The Savvy Farmer…

The savvy farmer can see the writing on the wall. Can see that slavery to a system of national and global manipulation – totally out of his/her hands – is a recipe for disaster. Such a farmer will be on the lookout for a secure local market; one where purchasers want to buy direct from the farm with no middle-man taking a cut. This must be the way forward if a secure future on the land is the desired outcome. Any intelligent farmer will recognize this and will take seriously a bonafide
request to supply farm-raised produce to those eager to buy it.

The Savvy Consumer…

The savvy consumer will be looking for fresh, healthy, flavourful good quality foods upon which to raise their family, or simply to feed themselves. They will recognize that the chance to acquire such food ‘direct from the farm’ represents the best possible outcome. A bond built-up with a local farmer, via regular purchasing of their farm-raised products, provides a powerful ally for times ahead when the commercial food chain is subjected to the brutal intervention of the architects of global control and shortages become the norm. Such times are no longer speculative. They are on our doorstep.

The Savvy Farmer and the Savvy Consumer – Getting Together

Either the consumer or the farmer can take the initiative of bringing both parties together.


By calling a ‘round table’ meeting in the local village/town hall or simply in your home. Invite one or two farmers to sit around that table with some individuals eager to obtain food directly from the farm. Some might even be ready to discuss contracting a farmer to grow the staple foods they require. Good quality food is grown without recourse to chemical pesticides.

Farmers need a secure income and the buyers a secure local source of nutritious food. Fair prices for both parties and delivery or ‘pick-up from the farm’ can be negotiated in a friendly and informal manner. This is not purely ‘business’ in the old sense of the term; it is forming a common bond in a time when such bonds have been tragically neglected and supermarket convenience cultures have destroyed the links that hold communities together.

New trading, bartering, and sharing practice will be built around the adoption of this ‘proximity principle’. This is the one sure way of effectively resisting the Klaus Schwab farm killer and the New World Order plan for global domination of the food chain.

Other ways of supporting local trading include farm shops, farmers markets, box schemes, food cooperatives. Get onto the front foot and regenerate your community – from the ground up!

For further details of the Proximity Principle and community, regeneration sees ‘Creative Solutions to a World in Crisis’ by Julian Rose.

About the Author

Julian Rose is an early pioneer and practitioner of UK organic farming; an entrepreneur and leader of projects to create self-sufficient communities based on local supply and demand; a teacher of holistic life approaches and the author of four books – one of which ‘Creative Solutions to a World in Crisis’ lays-out detailed guidelines for the transformation of society into caring communities built upon ecological and spiritual awareness, justice and cooperation. See Julian’s website for more information www.julianrose.info

We Need to Radically Re-Imagine Our Food System. Here’s How.

Radically reimagining our food systems is a task that is critical to solving the world’s biggest social and ecological problems. It’s also one that garners substantial and often heated debate.

But are we asking the right questions when it comes to evaluating what works, and what doesn’t, for achieving more climate-friendly and food-secure futures?

Scholars and analysts are carefully exploring the potential of a wide range of solutions, from cellular agriculture to regenerative grazing, and asking whether they will scale — that is, whether they can be implemented widely around the globe.

We see this question in all manner of debates over food practices — for example, in claims that agroecology and organic agriculture cannot feed a growing population or that cattle are universally problematic.

In many cases, however, this is entirely the wrong question to ask, and the answers it generates lead us to downplay essential and potentially transformative solutions.

Industrial thinking

It seems sensible enough: If our current food production practices use too much water or emit too much greenhouse gas, we ought to replace them with practices that use less or generate less.

Better yet, we can replace them with practices that also reverse ecological harm and improve soil and water health while meeting current and future food needs.

However, evaluating radical new solutions based on whether they scale can be directly at odds with the very nature of these solutions.

Approaches like agroecology and regenerative grazing do not entail a set of standard practices meant to be implemented everywhere. They’re meant to be highly tailored and responsive to the specifics of a place.

It is effectively meaningless to evaluate one set of agroecological practices in say, Thailand, based on how those practices would perform if cloned and applied by different people of different cultures in different places around the world.

Scalability as a value derives from an industrial way of thinking: that the best solutions are those that can be replicated and implemented widely, and that uniformity breeds efficiency and productivity.

This may work in a factory, but ecosystems are not factories. Ecosystem productivity derives not from uniformity but from diversity, flexibility, and change.

Accordingly, these, not scalability, are the traits that are key to success for the most exciting food systems innovations.

A patchwork of solutions

What this means is that a global food system that is both truly sustainable and sufficiently productive will consist, not of a few massively scaled practices, but rather a vast patchwork quilt of smaller-scale solutions that vary dramatically from place to place, over space and over time, in an interplay with local climate, ecology, and culture.

Consider the debate over animal-based proteins. It is not uncommon to see this presented as a sort of global average that implies inherent impacts, regardless of where and how those proteins are being produced.

Yet, there is tremendous place-based variability to how different kinds of livestock are raised. In western Ireland, cattle are used at a small scale to great effect for ecological restoration. Likewise, one estimate shows that greenhouse gas emissions from beef from Canadian dairies are less than one-third of the global average.

Finally, there is a colonial logic to be addressed here: that the validity of new approaches rests not on how well they work for the people implementing them, but on whether they meet a set of metrics construed by and for the Global North.

That they must produce a certain amount of food in service of global populations, or eliminate a certain amount of greenhouse gasses, for example.

Many alternative innovations are not meant to simply be swapped into the existing system, but catalysts that support a complete reorganization of food systems around food sovereignty, community well-being, and ecological health.

Thinking relationally

Rather than asking whether a practice “scales” — whether it works if adopted everywhere — we ought to instead ask whether a practice works in and for specific people and places and whether it can align with or enhance existing culturally valued practices and systems in other places.

“Is this approach in harmony with the people and other living things in this region?” “Does it work with or against the goals and needs here?” And so on.

Asking such questions changes the evaluative mindset from industrial to relational. Relational ways of thinking are increasingly recognized as necessary for achieving both sustainability and social justice.

They also move us away from focusing on specific technologies to focusing on systems and ensuring that our food practices work with rather than against nature.

We face an opportunity today to foster in our food systems truly generative relationships between peoples and places, the domesticated and the wild. Such relationships are the engine by which much of the verdant biocultural diversity in the world today came to be.

In certain circumstances, the question of scalability may indeed be relevant and useful. But given the high stakes of problems like climate change, it’s time to move away not only from the technologies that have failed us but the ideologies on which they are based as well.

Originally published by Ensia.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

How To Best Improve Your Farm

If you are a farm owner, you know that there are a ton of ways that you can make your farm stand out among all of them in the area you’re in. One simple move can make a big difference to the way your farm performs, which means that you need to pay attention to how you’re making your farm stand out. Not only do you want to generate extra income for your farm, but you also want to generate popularity and success.

In order to have success in your farm, you need to make the improvements that matter the most. You have to inject modern techniques and modern technology to make your farm a success, and the improvements that you can make for your farm matter when you consider how you can change to AKRS Equipment and make more room for your animals. No matter the type of farm you have, there are always ways to make it more profitable and improve it. With this in mind, here are the best suggestions you could have to give your farm a cash injection.

  1. Get to know the market. You can’t hope to grow any crops without a market in mind. So many people rush into farming without making sure that their market is a valid one. There’s no use in looking for ways to add profit until you know what the market is. Those who do rush in become the wrong kind of farmer, and in no time, the market oversaturates too fast.
  2. Choose the best crops. To optimize your farm the right way, you want to choose the right crops and ensure that you are offering what your consumers want. If you know what your consumers expect from you, you’re going to find it much easier to offer a high market value.
  3. Indulge in advance planning. Planning is so important in any business but in farming, planning is the most important thing that you can do. Every professional business needs a plan to stick with, and you can’t guarantee any kind of success without one. Planning will help you to determine what kind of farming you should be doing and whether you can grow your business later.
  4. Hire your equipment. You can buy equipment for your business but before you grow your profits enough, you might choose to hire equipment for a while. Land is the biggest factor in your revenue growth but you need the right amount of equipment to treat the land and plant what you need to plant. Hiring more equipment can help you in the long term.
  5. Know when to diversify. Your farm is going to be far more profitable and successful when you know how to make changes and grow it. You need to therefore know when the best time is to diversify in your farm – and that takes good planning as we mentioned earlier. Take your time here, because it may take some time for you to know that it’s right to diversify!

UK’s Largest Vertical Farm That Uses Only Sunlight Begins First Harvest

While hydroponic farms, also known as “vertical farms,” swap land use for electricity use— one project is trying to take the best of both worlds.

Using only natural light for photosynthesis and heat, Shockingly Fresh’s greenhouse in Offenham, England, can produce four times the yield compared with regular farming while using much less energy than other vertical farms.

This is because other vertical farms are closed systems—relying on the artificial LED light and indoor heating to keep crops cozy.

“It is ultimately better for the environment. I can’t say it’s carbon-neutral but it isn’t as carbon-hungry as an LED vertical farm would be,” the aptly-named Nick Green, development director of Shockingly Fresh, told The Guardian. 

While other producers might say that Shockingly Fresh’s use of natural light means they can’t keep up the 24-7 production typical of farms that can leave the lights on all night, the company stresses that they match the consumption patterns of humans and use far less energy in the process.

“Production isn’t completely linear as it would be in a fully-lit vertical farm, but people don’t eat as much lettuce in winter as they do in summer,” he explained.

Offenham was completed in 2021 and is already producing lettuce and bok choy for sale at supermarkets, with strawberries planned for winter when the days become shorter. Even though Green reckons they can produce 2 million heads of lettuce per year, the location is just one-tenth of the size of future projects.


Animal Agriculture Emits Nearly 60% of Greenhouse Gases From Food Production: Study

By Brett Wilkins | Common Dreams

Global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods, according to the results of a major study published Monday.

“If people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits.”
—Atul Jain, study co-author

According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, “of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food,” including livestock feed.

“The global population has quadrupled over the last century,” the study notes. “Demographic growth and associated economic growth have increased global food demand and caused dietary changes, such as eating more animal-based products. The United Nations projects that food production from plants and animals will need to increase 70% by 2050, compared to 2009, to meet increasing food demand.”

“Increased food production,” the paper continues, “may accelerate land-use changes (LUCs) for agriculture, resulting in greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced carbon sequestration, and further climate change.”

Beef production—which according to the study contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions—is by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken. Among plant-based foods, rice production is responsible for 12% of food-based emissions.

The publication notes that the provision of adequate grazing land and food for livestock fuels deforestation, while the animals also produce tremendous quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas found to be up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

“To produce more meat you need to feed the animals more, which then generates more emissions,” University of Illinois researcher and study lead author Xiaoming Xu told The Guardian. “You need more biomass to feed animals in order to get the same amount of calories. It isn’t very efficient.”

The paper notes that while it only takes 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions to produce one kilogram of wheat, producing the same quantity of beef emits 70 kilograms of emissions.

“I’m a strict vegetarian and part of the motivation for this study was to find out my own carbon footprint, but it’s not our intention to force people to change their diets,” study co-author Atul Jain told The Guardian. “A lot of this comes down to personal choice. You can’t just impose your views on others. But if people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits.”

Jain added that “this study shows the entire cycle of the food production system, and policymakers may want to use the results to think about how to control greenhouse gas emissions.”

The new study’s findings closely mirror those of separate research published last week by Friends of the Earth Europe, its German arm Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz, and the Berlin-based Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, which concluded that worldwide food production accounts for up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture responsible for more than half of that amount.

Noting that “industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities, and hurting independent farmers,” the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said Monday that the Farm System Reform Act—legislation reintroduced in July by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)—”would end some of the worst practices and begin building a just food system for people and the planet.”

“Meat and dairy production in the United States is based on heavily subsidized factory farming—a leading contributor to climate change, pollution, pesticide use, biodiversity loss, wildlife killings, and worker exploitation,” CBD explains in a petition supporting the proposed legislation, which is endorsed by more than 300 diverse advocacy groups. “This broken system is the result of the unequal power that multinational meat corporations wield over federal farm policy.”

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Desperate To Change Your Garden? Top Pond Ideas To Redecorate Your Summer Garden

Have You Ever Had A Garden Pond?

First things first: if you’ve never had a pond in your garden before, there are some things to think about. For one, a properly maintained pond increases property value and makes a general garden into something special. For another, ponds can act as a small-scale wildlife repository. However, there does tend to be a little maintenance involved.

If you’re going to get the most from your pond, you’ll want to put some thought into it. If you already have a pond, there are a few ways you might want to enhance it to switch up how it affects your garden. Here we’ll explore several suggestions of this kind to help you more efficiently and effectively upgrade your backyard garden.

Source: Pixabay

1. The Advantages Of A Recessed Pond

If you don’t have a pond, you’re going to have two main choices: should you get a recessed pond that sinks into the ground, or should you get one that sits atop the earth? Each has their advantages and disadvantages. With a recessed pond, you’ll have different maintenance needs, but things will have a much more natural appearance.

With a recessed pond, you can purchase a strong-bottomed plastic shape conformed to the space you prefer, dig out around it, then install it, weighing it down with rocks around the plastic lips of the pond. You can then plant varying fruits, vegetables, or flowers right at the water’s edge.

Some plants will stretch roots right into the pond—this can be troublesome, or it can be a desired outcome. Also, you can make the pond with cement rather than a shaped plastic basin, leaving part of the soil toward the top so plants can snake in their roots. In this way a synthetic pond can appear totally organic, keeping plants nourished year-round.

Source: Pixabay

2. What An Above-Ground Pond Is Like

You can move an above-ground pond wherever it suits you. That’s quite advantageous, but keep in mind, you’ll want it in a place where you don’t mind if a little water gets blown out or leaks. While you can make an above-ground pond work indoors, it makes a lot more sense to put it in the garden.

Additionally, with an above-ground pond, you’ve got two options. You can leave it appearing as it is, raised from the ground, or you can mound up soil around it. Alternatively, you can put a bunch of plants around the pond that hide the fact it’s an above-ground affair; it will all depend on what suits you, and what your existing garden looks like.

3. Making A Basic Pond Into A Babbling Fountain

Another idea is transforming an existing pond into a fine little art piece. You can easily order Submersible Pond Pumps from Aquatic Ponds. These are designed to pump water from a submerged position, allowing you to maintain a gently babbling fountain as long as you’d like.

The only difficulty here is cleaning filters—though different pump arrangements make it so you don’t have to worry about that as much in some situations as you would in others.

Source: Pixabay

4. Making Your Pond An Ideal Environment For Koi

Koi live for decades, and they can get quite large. The thing about koi is, you’ve got to be sure there’s some sort of oxygenation of their environment. You’ll need some sort of fountain or other solution to keep the water fresh. Also, the size of your pond may dictate how many koi you’re able to keep there.

Source: Pixabay

Reinventing Your Garden By Adding Or Upgrading A Pond

Whether you’ve already got a pond in your garden, or you’re looking to add one, there are plenty of options available, and you’ll likely be quite pleased with the result. The only difficulty is ordering and installing your pond. If you already have one, that difficulty totally disappears.

Many homeowners prefer recessed ponds that are dug into the earth, but you can make one that is atop the ground appear aesthetically pleasing, and you can even move it when such moves suit you. Also, with a fountain, your pond becomes more aesthetically pleasing, and a fine environment for fish.

Since we are presently approaching the autumnal changes in season which always come at the end of the year, now is the perfect time to reimagine your garden so it’s ready to flourish beautifully next year. Above-ground, recessed, or already existing, ponds enhance gardens and provide a lot of unique opportunities.

From Soil to Society: A Systems Approach to Change

By Siena Chrisman | Common Dreams

Soil scientist E. Britt Moore drives home the foundational nature of the soil to his undergraduate students with an etymology lesson. Humans, he tells them, comes from the Latin humus, or soil. Adam is from the Hebrew adamah, meaning ground. Regardless of whether you believe God creating the first human from clay is mythology, says Moore, “societies before us understood an intimate connection between people and soil.”

In its 400-year history, the United States has largely severed this relationship. From the beginning, the U.S. agricultural economy has been based on the exploitation of the land and of people of color, and modern farm practices treat soil as an extractive resource. Centuries of institutionalized discrimination have resulted in soils expertise being seen not as a common heritage for all people but as specialized knowledge belonging to a certain class: landowners, farmers, and researchers—all predominately white. Meanwhile, many communities of color, both urban and rural, live on the ground that is contaminated and depleted.

Today’s systems of exploiting the soil were developed alongside systems of human exploitation and oppression; to address one, we must address both—and that starts with the soil.

Even those aiming to address these problems by improving soil health follow the same pattern.

“The demographics of the people on the front lines fighting for justice are very different than the demographics of the people researching [regenerative agriculture],” Moore observes.

The big names in regenerative agriculture are white, and the movement has faced criticism for not acknowledging the roots of its knowledge base in Indigenous and Black agricultural practices. At the same time, much racial equity and environmental justice work tend to be far removed from considerations of landscape-scale ecology. Moore is part of a growing movement of scientists, researchers, farmers, and community leaders working to bridge this gap.

Today’s systems of exploiting the soil were developed alongside systems of human exploitation and oppression; to address one, we must address both—and that starts with the soil.

Parallel Histories of Exploitation

The outlines of the development of U.S. agriculture are familiar: white colonial governments took land from Indigenous peoples through massacres, broken treaties, and outright land theft. Backed by international business interests, they built a tremendously profitable economy on the land-based on free labor made possible by the legal enslavement of kidnapped Africans and their descendants.

Across what is now the Midwestern farm belt, the 1862 Homestead Act promised parcels of land to white settlers if they farmed it using the production-oriented methods of the day: plowing up the deep prairie and planting shallow-rooted annual crops. While most of the parcels went to speculators and others with capital rather than to working farmers, the land was nonetheless effectively redistributed to white ownership. Meanwhile, the post-Civil War order popularized as “40 acres and a mule,” granting land to formerly enslaved people, was overturned within a year. Subsequent U.S. agriculture policy has played out in similar ways, consistently benefiting white farmers, larger-scale operations, and, ultimately, corporate interests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has admitted to decades of discrimination against Black farmers and other farmers of color.

On the ground, the 1860s “sod-busting,” as plowing the prairie became known, destroyed millions of acres of deep-rooted tall grasslands and forests. The native prairie was a complex above- and belowground ecosystem, supported by a web of life from microbes to bison and stewarded for millennia by Indigenous communities. As annual grain crops replaced perennial prairie and seasonal plowing replaced the movement of bison grazing tall grass, some of the richest soil in the world was exposed, dried to dust, and blew as far as New York City. In response to the Dust Bowl, New Deal-era farm policy prioritized conservation measures, but priorities changed just a few decades later, and farmers were again encouraged to plant “fencerow to fencerow.”

Environmentally, the ongoing focus on producing for maximum yield has been a disastrous legacy.

The legacy of these parallel histories is, at the societal level, an agricultural landscape that is today over 95% white, and where 5% of farms account for 75% of all farm sales. Regardless of actual demographics, rural has become nearly synonymous with white, while urban is too often used as a dog whistle to mean communities of color.

Environmentally, the ongoing focus on producing for maximum yield has been a disastrous legacy. Established corporate supply chains, demand for livestock feed, and government support for corn and soybeans have led these two annual grains to dominate the rural landscape, despite persistent oversupply. The crops are dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides and grown in a way that leaves the ground bare for two-thirds of the year. Livestock, formerly raised alongside field crops, are grown out in large confinement barns. Agricultural chemicals and large concentrations of manure cause persistent challenges with nitrate pollution of waterways and drinking water. Without perennial roots or year-round grass cover, the soil becomes dry and unstable, likely to blow away or wash into lakes, streams, and groundwater, harming ecosystems and human health.

The Benefits of Continuous Living Cover

The environmental crises of modern agriculture—a catastrophic loss of soil and biodiversity, water pollution, contribution to climate change, and much more—have become so extreme that some are tempted to focus exclusively on that aspect of U.S. agriculture’s exploitative legacy. But others across the Upper Midwest and beyond are finding the importance of addressing agriculture’s harms to society and the earth together, inspired by a systems-based approach centered around continuous living cover (CLC).

CLC is a set of regenerative agriculture practices whose basic tenet is keeping soil covered with living matter and living roots in the ground at all times, making it better able to absorb and retain water, limit runoff, and retain nutrients. CLC practices allow farmers to reduce or eliminate chemical input use, as the increased biodiversity builds soil fertility and natural pest resistance. Diversification of crops and farm products can lead to new marketing opportunities. Ultimately, this can lead to additional community economic benefits with a focus on local and regional supply chains that grow to meet new processing and product development opportunities.

There are many different ways that farmers and landowners can approach CLC to meet their needs and the needs of the land. CLC options include harvested or unharvested winter or year-round cover crops such as camelina winter oilseed, new perennial grain crops like Kernza® perennial grain, agroforestry approaches including orchard trees or windbreaks, and integration of livestock.

A Systems Approach with Broad Impact

Many farmers who adopt a CLC approach find that it can be quickly life-changing. Central Illinois farmers Kathy and Rick Kaesebier farmed conventional corn and soybeans for 40 years until some unusual soil problems led them to take a soil health course. An experiment with 20 acres of cover crops quickly expanded as they learned about soil ecology. Five years later, they have cover crops planted on every possible acre of the 600 that they farm and they have diversified their operation to include wheat, a multispecies cover crop, cattle, Katahdin sheep, layer hens, and honeybees.

“We’ve increased our cow numbers each year,” Kathy writes in an email. Grazing the multispecies cover crop currently supports 16 heads, and there is a strong local demand for beef. After a lifetime of field crops, she loves working with livestock too, joking, “I’d have 100 sheep if I could just get Rick to agree.”

Not all farmers practicing CLC cropping make such a dramatic shift, but the whole farm system approach can make it more likely. In contrast with the modern agricultural mindset of finding a discrete solution for a discrete problem, the CLC approach recognizes that the farm is a complex ecosystem: start tugging on one thread, and suddenly you may have to re-knit the whole sweater—or rethink your whole crop plan, now based around 100 sheep.

For Britt Moore, this is the appeal of CLC. Moore, who is beginning a position at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington after completing his Ph.D. in soil physics at Iowa State University, never expected to devote his life to the soil. Growing up Black on the South Side of Chicago, he attended an agriculture science magnet school, which got him interested in the natural world. After studying agroecology and ecosystems interactions in college, he was examining the benefits of cover crops for his Master’s degree when he realized that the soil was more interesting than the plants—and that the way they interacted was the most interesting of all.

“It was a jump from ecosystems to systems in general—and how soil is foundational to cultural, social, and economic systems,” he says of his engagement with CLC systems.

The interconnection doesn’t stop at the farm gate.

“You can’t talk about social justice without talking about soil,” he says, giving the example of people of color disproportionately living in areas with contaminated soils. The pollution alone is harmful, but there is another level of impact when it comes to food security: many urban residents who could most benefit from growing their own food cannot do so without special attention to the soil. They usually do not have the expertise to address it—knowledge about soil isn’t seen as the domain of people of color—and the resources are not available: “There aren’t even the level of detailed soil maps in urban areas as for a farm in Iowa,” Moore says.

Growing Awareness

Moore was recently one of over two dozen contributors to a white paper published this week by Green Lands Blue Waters examining how a CLC-inspired systems approach can transform the future of agriculture, from soil health to racial justice. (Disclosure: I was also a contributor.) With a view across the farm support network, the paper features examples of long-time and new farmers, agriculture professionals, researchers, and others taking a different approach to their work with both ecosystems and society, and often seeing the two as parts of an interconnected whole.

For some, the approach is not new: Tsyunhehkw^ Farm on the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin has re-established the tribe’s indigenous high-protein white corn and practices intensive rotational grazing with a Shorthorn cattle herd, mimicking the movement of bison on the Great Plains. Farm manager Kyle Wisneski and others have been keeping traditional practices alive on the farm for decades. In the last few years, the tribal government has rapidly expanded the land base under the stewardship of Tsyunhehkw^, as soil contamination on nearby land and pandemic food insecurity brought renewed tribal interest to holistic farm techniques that have worked for generations.

Others are taking a systems approach to grow the CLC knowledge base itself. In recent decades, much agricultural research, even at public institutions, has been funded by private corporations. As a result, research on intensive, input-based methods likely to benefit a corporate funder’s bottom line now far outweighs research on systems-based regenerative agriculture techniques. In Wisconsin, Grassland 2.0, a multistakeholder collaborative focused on transitioning livestock production from grain-based to grass-based, is instead building expertise through collaboration. With a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, project partners, including farmers, researchers, and business leaders, are creating learning hubs in farm communities around Wisconsin and surrounding states to tap into local knowledge. To understand the system-level change necessary to support farmers converting to intensive grazing, the group is examining everything from farm-level best practices for soil health and biodiversity to developing supply chains with lenders to renegotiating relationships with equipment dealers.

Moore himself points out the critical necessity of expanding who has access to an understanding of the natural world. Before he started his Ph.D., he taught high school science in an under-resourced urban school, where his students had never been asked to think about the connection between food and agriculture.

His own story, he says, of a Black kid from Chicago going into soil science, is all too rare. The rarefication and white-washing of knowledge about the natural world is a loss for everyone. He advocates for significant investment in early agricultural education in urban schools, to equalize who has expertise about the environment we all live in, and to change the face of agricultural professionals in the next generation.

Looking at the last 250+ years of yield-driven U.S. agriculture and the exploitation that has made it possible, Moore says, “We have a system that values a particular set of knowledge—and that’s what it supports and funds.”

To build a different system—one that values healthy soils, biodiversity, clean water, and human capital overexploitation and profit at all costs—we must invest in the knowledge that supports it. The good news is that many people are doing just that.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Siena Chrisman

Siena Chrisman is a Brooklyn-based writer and researcher addressing agriculture policy and social justice. Her work has appeared in Modern Farmer, Edible Brooklyn, Grist, and others, and she is currently working on a book about the 1980s farm crisis. Read more at www.sienachrisman.com.

The History of the Barn House

Everyone has an idea of what a barn house looks like, and most people tend to think it’s somewhere where you keep horses. But that isn’t the case. A barn is a bit different from the barn house – people live here. When you come across one, you feel comfortable, and the simplicity throws you off. It also brings a more laid-back traditional look – your ancestors labored hard and used to live in them. So, what’s the history of these houses, and what do you need to know?

Interior Customization

The first thing you may think to yourself when you think of a barn house, is can it fit the modern-day trends? From the outside, not as much, but the inside can be customized to fit the modern-day trends. Yes, they can, as you can fit in ceilings and be as creative as you wish. The good thing is that with the high ceilings, you can get those beautiful chandeliers you can’t have with modern houses. You can start from scratch if you’re looking to convert a barns NZ into a home. When adding rooms, you need to be a bit creative as the high roof can lead to wasted material. You can opt to have a higher level on top and only have one full room upwards.


Barn houses have been famous for a very long time. They just grew out of fashion after prehistoric times. Previously, they were used by those who wanted to live in close quarters with their animals. Around medieval times, this is when the barn became more about storage than living quarters. That’s why when you see a barn, you’d first assume it’s used for storage or rare animals. But a lot has changed since then. When barns were all about storage and for horse keeping, they were pretty simple structures. More or less as much as the outside of most barns even today. Most of the barns you’ll see take up the Low German House Style – simple and effective. In the 20th Century is when people again considered and started converting the barns to houses again. And this has brought about barn houses with different styles and themes.


The exterior of barn houses is pretty much the same idea still as the old barn ideas in the past. As long as the outside is carefully built and sturdy, you have a workaround idea. It can still take up the farmhouse look and be classic. What you need to do when converting a barn is to ensure you waterproof the outside of the barn. You can also insulate it to give it a modern-day touch. The next thing you need to figure out is the windows. Barns don’t have a style to support windows, and you have to come up with ideas of where to place them.

Converting Your Barn

Barns have come a long way from what they were previously used for. Though people used to live in them before, they are more common as storage spaces. Here’s a brief history of barn houses and what you can do to convert a barn to a place.

Urban Farmers Believe They Have Key to Solve Violent Crime

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge

While the Biden administration is on a crusade to ban guns as they say firearms are the culprit to the upswing in violence across major metro areas, there’s one neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri, which has one of the highest homicides rates in the country, is experimenting with “urban farming” as a way to lessen food insecurity that may result in less crime.

According to St. Louis Public Radio (STLPR), Tyrean Lewis, founder of Heru Urban Farming, is planting vegetable gardens in neighborhoods where children don’t have enough healthy food to eat.

Lewis is also a health teacher who has seen it all. Some of his students have been locked up for petty crimes, while others have been jailed for shootings. He constantly hears gunshots around his home, and on average, his neighborhood records 3 to 4 homicides yearly.

“I mean, that’s normal to some people and unfortunately to me,” he said.

Researchers say a host of factors contribute to a city’s gun violence problem — what they define as deficits in social determinants of health such as income, housing, healthy living environments and quality education.

And food insecurity.

Lacking a complex nutritional diet can harm brain development in childhood, according to public health experts. That can cause later problems dealing with peers, handling authority and responding to situations of extreme stress.

The problems facing areas that experience gun violence are many, Lewis acknowledges, but he has also seen the impact that food can have.

“I’ve seen the difference in kids when they get a meal and when they don’t get a meal, how they behave and how they focus in school,” he said. “So I truly believe that’s all connected.”

Nearly 70% of the city’s 271 homicides last year occurred in low income census tracts without access to a grocery store or supermarket for at least half a mile, according to a Kansas City Star analysis of federal data and police reports.

Fifty-two of the killings occurred in just eight census tracts on the north side of the city with no grocery store for a mile.

St. Louis leads the state in gun violence and for most of the past decade ranked No. 1 for food insecurity — the lack of reliable access to healthy food. –STLPR

Lewis’ Heru Urban Farming is helping to build a “grassroots ecosystem of Black urban growers, farmers markets, entrepreneurs and community leaders,” said STLPR. In recent years, urban farming has sprouted across St. Louis, allowing folks to access fresh produce.

His mission is to rebuild communities from the bottom up and allow them to become “self-sustaining” with an abundance of healthy food.

People are now tilling and planting on vacant lots, backyards, and school gardens across the metro area as they find ways to rebuild their communities after Democrats and offshoring jobs to China have wrecked local economies over multiple decades.

St. Louis is not the only city with high rates of homicides where urban agriculture programs are springing up. Urban gardens have been spotted across Baltimore City with goals to increase food access, reduce vacant blight, and create new opportunities for education and employment.

Instead of eating junk from corner stores and gas stations, perhaps healthy food is a novel plan to restore inner-city communities by first decreasing food scarcity and, second, allowing access to more nutrient-rich foods that increase brain development.

Though small plots of land in urban areas might not feed an entire neighborhood – and perhaps public/private investments in indoor vertical farming should be made for these communities.

Gardening Advice from Indigenous Food Growers

Giant zucchini result from excellent soil and lots of care in the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s 2-acre garden in 2017.

By Stephanie Woodard | Yes Magazine

Many Americans are now experiencing an erratic food supply for the first time. Among COVID-19’s disruptions are bare supermarket shelves and items available yesterday but nowhere to be found today. As you seek ways to replace them, you can look to Native gardens for ideas and inspiration.

“Working in a garden develops your relationship to the land,” says Aubrey Skye, a Hunkpapa Lakota gardener. “Our ancestors understood that. Look at the old pictures. It’s etched on their faces. When you understand it as well, a sense of scarcity and insecurity transforms into a feeling of abundance and control—something we all need these days.” For several years, Skye ran a CDC-sponsored gardening program on Standing Rock, a reservation that straddles North and South Dakota. He created hundreds of productive plots, large and small, for fellow tribal members.

Tribes’ food-scarcity problems developed after signing treaties with the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Under these agreements, tribes typically transferred land to the federal government in return for education, health care, and other services. The diminished tribal homelands that resulted, along with continual federal efforts to decrease Native land holdings, severely restricted the hunting, fishing, and other activities with which tribes had fed their people since time immemorial. To force tribes onto reservations, Skye adds, the United States purposely destroyed critical food sources, such as the huge buffalo herds that once roamed the Plains.

Abundant lifeways were decimated. Starvation and death ensued. Massacres, such as Wounded Knee and Sand Creek, killed additional American Indians, as did force removals from homelands, with the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the Navajo Long Walk among the best-known. The injustices continue today. Oil and gas pipelines, mines, industrial animal farms, and other projects may be sited to imperil tribal lands rather than those of other peoples. Poverty, limited health care, and, in some areas, lack of running water for frequent anti-virus hand-washing, means the COVID-19 pandemic has hit certain tribes, notably the Navajo Nation, hard.

Growing Strength

Incessant disasters have created economic and social burdens, including hunger, that fall heavily on children. “These tragedies are so hard on kids,” says the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s director Julie Garreau. The project is on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, in South Dakota, just south of Standing Rock. “Don’t ever let people tell you children don’t know what’s going on,” she says. “The pandemic is creating enormous additional stress, beyond what they were already struggling with.”

Her program works to make up the difference. With its 2.5-acre garden, café, gym, and library, the organization has long provided children with good food and a safe place to learn and have fun. Now that tribal children are sheltering at home, the youth project’s garden and the sack meals her organization delivers ensure that, at the very least, they have healthy food each day, says Garreau, who is a tribal member.

“I’m so grateful,” she says. “We’re a nonprofit, and our funders contacted us—we didn’t go to them—and gave us support for meals with a hot entrée, juice, and a healthy snack like fruit or nuts. We started driving around in our pickup with food for 35 kids, then 50, then 75.” The youth project is working to get the word out. “We hope to reach 250 kids,” Garreau says.

Dream of Wild Health also focuses on the youth as it restores the multitribal urban-Indian community of Minneapolis and St. Paul to physical well-being and a spiritual relationship to the Earth. “We grow leaders and seeds,” says Community Outreach and Culture Teacher Hope Flanagan, who is Seneca. “An urban upbringing can mean our youth lose track of our old way of walking on this Earth.” Dream of Wild Health helps the children relearn this knowledge, she says.

In the process, the group’s activities help the community reclaim food sovereignty—ready access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food—according to Executive Director Neely Snyder, a St. Croix Chippewa tribal member. Dream of Wild Health meets this need by distributing crops that it grows on its nearby 30-acre farm: It participates in a farmers market, delivers household shares of farm produce to locations in Native neighborhoods of both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and partners with other community organizations, such as the Minneapolis American Indian Center.

“Gardens represent so much more.”

Since the COVID-19 challenges began, innovation has been key. To continue to offer chef-led cooking lessons for youth, yet maintain social distance, Dream of Wild Health delivers ingredients to the children’s homes and runs the program via a video link. Virtual activities have proven popular. When a seed-saving and sacred medicines workshop moved online, the typical 40- to 50-person audience for a live event burgeoned to some 220, Snyder says.

To grow real crops in a real garden requires getting out on the land—with a difference nowadays. This summer, Skye anticipates, reservation gardeners will either work alone or in groups practicing social distancing. Dream of Wild Health farmers is figuring out how student interns, whom they call Garden Warriors, can work on the group’s farm and maintain distance.

While gardening, Skye says, tribal gardeners will put into action traditional practices that arise from close observations of nature and the belief that humans, plants, animals, and other aspects of the natural world form a mutually reliant community. We are all related, Skye says. “Gardening and eating food you’ve raised give you a direct connection to Mother Earth.”

Gardeners are necessarily optimists. At a time when our world is so dangerous, a garden is a place of refuge. “We will come out of this crisis,” Garreau said in an email. “To do so, we must not stop planning and planting.” Taking cues from Native gardening practices can help even novice gardeners get growing in these difficult circumstances.

Follow Indigenous gardeners’ advice to grow your own plot, however small or experimental. At a time when stay-at-home orders continue to try and keep populations healthy, Garreau sums up the importance of sinking your hands into the soil: “Gardens represent so much more,” Garreau continued. “Food, yes, but a belief in our future. Gardens represent resiliency, strength, wellness, culture.”

1. Plot Your Success

Experienced gardeners may be comfortable planting big fields of their favorite crops. Skye has a nearly 1-acre plot just downhill from his Standing Rock home. But if this is your gardening debut—as it was for some tribal members he provided with gardens through the CDC project—ensure success by starting small. Try a few pots or raised beds, or perhaps a small in-ground plot, with easy-to-grow plants, he says. Good options might be tomatoes, peppers, green beans, radishes, summer and winter squash, onions, or leafy greens. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew!” Skye quips.

2. Cultivate Plant Friendships

Many American gardeners know about the Three Sisters—in the celebrated trio, cornstalks serve as trellises for beans, which in turn fix nitrogen (fertilizer), while big, flat squash leaves conserve soil moisture and keep down weeds. Such plant groupings, also called companion plants, are expressions of cooperation and sharing, says the Mohawk director of the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, Clayton Brascoupé. “Your garden should be like a healthy forest, which has trees of various sizes,” he says. “Look at nature, and figure out combinations that mimic it.”

In his gardens at Tesuque Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, you can see peas twining up corn plants and basil rising above the broad, flat leaves of watermelon. “Experiment!” he says. “Plants can surprise you. One year, we discovered that garbanzos and corn really enjoy each other.”

3. Make Room for Hard-working Beauties

Embellish your garden with colorful flowers, particularly those native to your area. “They attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators,” says Skye, adding that pollinators are an integral part of a plant’s life cycle. “Without them, the harvest wouldn’t happen, and we would be looking at extreme food shortages, not just occasional gaps. By giving pollinators flowers they like, we support them, just as they support us.”

4. Keep Crops Cozy

Got a plant that’s struggling? Give it a rock! Brascoupé explains that in Southwest Native gardens, rocks are commonly set next to seedlings or plants that need help. They act as heat sinks, smoothing out day-night temperature variations as they soak up the sun’s heat and release it in the evening’s chill. The practice may have been more widespread, he says, appearing as far north as Iroquois gardens in the U.S. Northeast. It makes sense, he says; in a cold region, rocks protect seedlings from unexpected early-season frost.

5. Source Materials Locally and For Free

For no-cost drip irrigation, Brascoupé uses a fine needle to poke a hole in the neck of clean soda-pop bottles or milk jugs. He then fills the containers with water, replaces their caps, and pushes their pierced necks into the soil.

Conserve soil moisture and keep weeds down by surrounding the plants with mulching materials that would otherwise have been discarded. People spend time and money getting rid of cardboard, shredded office paper, lawn clippings, and leaves, Brascoupé says. “Tell neighbors, ‘I can take that off your hands.’ Build human relationships.”

6. Embrace Dandelions

Don’t banish dandelions. Welcome these supposed weeds! Their leaves are delicious and nutritious, and their taproots break up hardened soil, I learned from Native gardeners. My New York City backyard used to be so compacted, little grew there. I tried scattering dandelion seeds around the yard. They grew and blossomed, and soon earthworms moved in. The soil became soft, friable, and plant-friendly. Earthworms are at it 24-7, working on your behalf, according to Skye. “What more could you ask for?” he says.

7. Include Healing Herbs

Skye has a small medicine-wheel garden by his home, where he delights in growing echinacea, chamomile, comfrey, and other medicinals from seed he saves from one year to the next. Such circular plots are traditionally places to grow herbs, thereby experience their delectable flavors and the natural healing they promote.

8. Save your Seeds

At the end of the season, save the seeds of plants that thrived—and that you enjoyed—in your garden. You can help ensure your future food supply and if you include unusual or heritage varieties, do your part to sustain biodiversity.

Seed-saving preserves history as well, Skye says. He called seeds time capsules. “We Native people have always saved them. As we plant, and save, and replant, the seeds go through all we are going through, the good times and the bad.” The Dream of Wild Health seed collection, for example, includes a Cherokee family’s gift of corn that survived the tribe’s deadly Trail of Tears, a forced march that displaced their ancestors from their original homelands.

Today, danger confronts all of us on this Earth. “We were already facing climate change, and now there is the pandemic,” Skye says. The seeds will always be there, to provide both food and a spiritual connection to the Earth, he says. “They are how we will survive.”

Garreau echoes this sentiment: “When we come out of this terrible pandemic, we will have learned to be stronger. We will be invincible.”

STEPHANIE WOODARD is an award-winning journalist who writes on human rights and culture with a focus on Native American issues. She is the author of American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle for Self-Determination and Inclusion.

EU Parliament Overwhelmingly Votes to End Caged Animal Farming

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

The European Commission is under pressure to end caged animal farming in the next six years after policymakers in the European Union overwhelmingly voted to stop the practice to protect animal welfare as well as human and planetary health, responding to widespread public demand for the ban.

Critics of industrial farming practices hailed the “landmark victory,” with 558 members of European Parliament (MEPs) voting in favor of the ban, just 37 opposing, and 85 abstaining from the vote.

Forty-five MEPs spoke out on the parliament floor in support of the “End the Cage Age” initiative before voting last Thursday, and members are now calling on the European Commission to enact the ban by 2027.

“Citizens have been waiting for years to see the cages ban materialize. We are delighted that the European Parliament has taken a firm stance against cages. The time has come now for politicians to put words into action.” —Olga Kikou, CIWF E.U.
“Acting to improve the welfare of animals is an ethical, social, and economic imperative,” said Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety. “Our rules need to change and that is a very clear call from our citizens.”

Kyriakides’ decision to attend the debate and her support for the vote’s outcome was taken as a positive sign by Philip Lymbery, CEO of the animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

Advocates still have “a long way to go,” noted Lymbery, as “any proposed new law will need to make its way through Brussels, seeking approval from both the European Parliament and the Council of the E.U., meaning we still have much work to do.”

An End the Cage Age petition was signed by 1.4 million people across Europe, with the support of more than 170 organizations campaigning for environmental protection as well as public health. The citizens’ initiative was only the sixth to result in a vote in parliament since the tool was first used 10 years ago.

“Citizens have been waiting for years to see the cages ban materialize,” said Olga Kikou, head of CIWF E.U. “We are delighted that the European Parliament has taken a firm stance against cages. The time has come now for politicians to put words into action. From today on, the ball is in the commission’s court. We expect nothing short of an ambitious timetable for ending the use of these outdated torture instruments called cages. Once this happens, the E.U. could truly claim global leadership in animal welfare.”

According to CIWF, more than 300 million animals in the E.U. spend all or a significant portion of their lives in cages, causing “immense suffering because animals have no control over their own lives.”

“Laying hens and rabbits are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper,” CIWF said. “Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around. Calves, geese, and quail are also caged, preventing them from performing basic natural behaviors.”

Intensive animal agriculture has also been linked to the spread of disease, leading to recent calls from conservationist Jane Goodall and climate action leader Greta Thunberg for a dramatic shift in humans’ treatment of animals.

“The inhumane conditions and close proximity the animals are kept in leads to cross-contamination, resulting in a breeding ground for new infections and diseases,” reported the British magazine Vegan Food & Living on Tuesday.

MEPs also called on the Commission to “put forward proposals to ban the cruel and unnecessary force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras” and called for all products placed on the E.U. market to comply with cage-free standards.

“With this resolution, we send an unequivocal message to the European Commission, which now needs to come forward with a legislative proposal to End the Cage Age and enable a transition to more humane, sustainable, and healthier farming methods across the E.U.,” said MEP Eleonora Evi, co-chair of the body’s working group on cage-free farming.

New York-based animal welfare group Farm Sanctuary applauded the vote and expressed hope that U.S. policymakers will soon follow the E.U.’s lead.

The European Commission is expected to respond to the vote by the end of June.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

What Does It Mean to Be Self-Sufficient?

| Treehugger

Self-sufficiency and self-sustainability are words heard often yet seldom truly understood. Self-sufficiency is the capability of fulfilling your own basic needs. For humans, our physiological needs include clean air, water, food, shelter, sleep, and clothing, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Safety is also a key human need in Maslow’s theory.

In order to reach self-sufficiency, you would attempt to produce everything you need without relying on outside sources. To achieve self-sustainability, you would seek to produce only what you require and not take any more from the planet’s resources than you have to.

At a macro level, every country in the world desires true self-sufficiency for security purposes. To be dependent on another country for something as essential as food puts you at a disadvantage on a global scale. Policymakers disagree on whether true self-sufficiency is ideal, especially in terms of food trade, which has caused fluctuations in the state of national self-sufficiency capabilities.

On a micro level, individuals can take their carbon footprint into their own hands by pursuing both self-sufficiency and self-sustainability. The latter is much more manageable than the former since true self-sufficiency requires a total transformation of how modern society addresses our basic needs.

“Self Sufficiency” in Different Contexts

As sustainable living has gained popularity, eco-minded individuals have participated in popular movements to reduce their carbon footprint in creative ways. Homesteadingoff-the-grid living, van and school bus conversions, and tiny houses have gradually worked their way into the fabric of mainstream society. Whether you choose to live in a converted bus or an off-the-grid cabin, the tenets of this kind of lifestyle remain rooted in self-sufficiency.

Different motivations have spurred people to attempt more self-sufficient lifestyles. The climate crisis is a major motivation behind this push, but survivability is also a popular consideration. While some people take a prepper’s approach to survivability with bug-out bags and emergency kits, others have pursued total self-sufficiency with provisions made for major events like natural disasters, power outages, and food scarcity.

The goal of self-sufficiency has been applied to different industries through a shift towards producing more goods in-house rather than depending on exports. This goal applies to economics as well. Even though self-sufficient living reduces your spending tremendously, there will still be inevitable costs that result from living in modern society (such as health care and taxes).

How to Be More Self Sufficient

Many actions can be taken to build a self-sufficient lifestyle, gradually addressing our basic needs with more sustainable alternatives. Depending on your preferences and finances, adaptions can be made to DIY your self-sufficient lifestyle addressing each basic need.


Air is abundant, but clean air is sometimes hard to come by. While there are air purifiers available, you can DIY one using a box fan and HVAC filter. However, certain plants naturally purify the air without relying on electricity. While plants are not as effective as electric air exchange systems in removing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contaminate the air in our homes, they can remove some air pollution. English ivy, aloe, and spider plants are well-known for their purifying abilities.


The two best off-the-grid water options involve rainwater harvesting and tapping a well or spring. Your property might not have a well or spring to use, which makes a rainwater harvesting system your best bet.

Water collection systems are designed to divert water from your roof into an above-ground or below-ground tank. There are many filtering options for both well/spring water and rainwater, including carbon, distillation, sand-based, and reed bed filters.

Grey water from showers and sinks can be recycled and reused in your home and garden. To make for easier filtration, take a look at what products are going down your sink and shower drains. Products filled with chemicals can make filtration more difficult. It is also recommended to limit your water use with actions such as dual-flush toilets or compost toilets.


Food trade and food self-sufficiency is a topic of disagreement among policymakers. The Food and Agriculture Organization defines food self-sufficiency as “the extent to which a country can
satisfy its food needs from its own domestic production.” But a country can technically be self-sufficient at this standard and still accept or depend on food exports; and a food self-sufficient country can also have citizens suffering from hunger. Many countries, including the United States, rely on the food trade for economic profit. However, countries with developing economies and high levels of food insecurity usually prefer to reduce their reliance on the global food trade in order to decrease the costs and risks linked with a volatile global food market.

On a community level, households can limit their dependency on exports by shopping at local farmers markets and buying products in-season. Those interested in achieving total self-sufficiency can grow their own food and produce goods themselves by dehydrating, canning, fermenting, salting, and applying other preservation techniques. Meat eaters can hunt or establish a farm for meat and dairy. For growing fruits and vegetables, crops should be diversified and adjusted for your given climate. There are many ways to grow your own garden or vegetable farm that range in size, cost, and self-sufficiency. Composting food scraps into rich compost soil can aid in food production. Many people raise their own chickens for eggs, but this requires proper zoning if you are in a suburban or urban area.

Along the lines of canning your own tomato sauce, homemade jams, and even pickles, you can also make your own bread, tortillas, crackers, homemade pasta, granola bars, condiments, etc., instead of relying on packaged products from the grocery store. Making your own food decreases plastic packaging waste and reduces what chemicals or pesticides you are consuming through processed foods.


A self-sufficient shelter involves the actual structure as well as meeting energy and property needs. Self-sufficient shelters do not necessarily have to stay in one place (vans, RVs, school buses, airstreams, and portable tiny homes come to mind). If you do build an immobile self-sufficient home, you need to address property concerns. You may already own a plot of land. If not, depending on where you live, buying land can be costly and difficult. You should take zoning into consideration since some communities might not allow crop or livestock farming or even alternative homes like adobe or earthbag structures.

A modern house structure relies heavily on on-the-grid services for electricity, gas, water, and sanitation. Certain adaptations can be made for increased self-sufficiency, such as a backyard garden, solar panels, and an added rainwater collection tank. Many alternative structures have been designed for total self-sufficiency. Earthships, for example, are completely passive solar structures that use natural and salvaged materials to build a completely self-reliant home.


WATCH: How Chemical Farming Created an Epidemic of Chronic Disease

For thousands of years, civilizations have been controlled through their food chain — our world today is no exception. And with a global population of 7.8 billion, controlling the global food supply is big business.

What impact does the control and monopolization of our food chain have on human health? Triple board-certified physician Dr. Zach Bush answers that — and more — in the video below, “Chemical Farming and the Loss of Human Health.”

According to Bush, the world is experiencing a chronic inflammatory epidemic: “If we have a chronic inflammatory epidemic in the world, then we must be overwhelming the immune system of all of the public for the same reason at the same time,” he says.

Bush suggests that sometime between the late 1980s and early 2000s, we did something to the environment that destroyed the ability of our immune systems to protect us — and in the process, we sparked a rise in a number of chronic diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and Crohn’s disease.

Bush believes that “something” was the invention of industrial-chemical agriculture and the introduction of toxic pesticides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

Spraying food with chemicals prevents plants from forming the building blocks needed to properly nourish not only humans but all mammals, Bush said — and that ultimately destroys our ability to ward off illnesses.

Exposure to agrochemicals isn’t limited to the food we eat. About 4.5 billion pounds of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup weedkiller, are sold each year to treat soils. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the Roundup actually hits a weed — the other 99.9 percent goes into the soil and is eventually washed into our waterways, Bush says.

Watch “Chemical Farming and the Loss of Human Health”:

How to Grow a Survival Garden (and What to Do If It Dies)

Source: The Organic Prepper

I love growing my own vegetable garden. I’ve spent many fulfilling hours outside every summer, tending to my plants, nurturing my soil, and babying things along, with the birds for music and a basket full of delicious organic food to show for it each day.

Except for that one year. That one year, my garden was a flop.

Eaten by deer, killed by the heat

It’s pretty embarrassing to admit on my own website that my garden did not do diddly squat that year. I am normally pretty good at growing food (or just extraordinarily lucky) but a few years back circumstances beyond my control threw up one obstacle after another.  First of all, we moved on July 1. I had started my garden in containers, earlier in the summer, and then transplanted them into my lovely new fenced garden full of raised beds.

Only, the fences weren’t high enough, and unbeknownst to me, I had set up a deer buffet with a low hurdle. Garden #1, GONE. Decimated. Wiped out. And I didn’t even get venison in retribution.

So, I went and got some new plants and put them in. Better late than never. I deer-proofed and nurtured my soil and paid top dollar for plants that were a bit more advanced since by now it was the first week of July.

And then a heatwave hit the day after I transplanted them. 107 degrees. Most of the plants withered immediately and no amount of TLC would bring them back.

I was determined that I would have at least SOME vegetables and bought even more plants. I added some shade cloth to protect them from the sun. I fed them some white sugar to help them recover from the transplant shock. They grew but did not provide me with a whole lot of produce, for numerous reasons, including heat, a late timeline, and slightly low phosphorus in my soil.

Aggravating when a wannabe farmer finds herself shopping at the farmer’s market to get summer veggies. Not cool.

But, like everything in life, there’s a lesson here. It got me thinking about all of the folks whose master plan for survival is a big stockpile of seeds.  While this is a very important part of a long-term self-reliance plan, there are some years, no matter how many silver bells and cockleshells you put out, your contrary garden just won’t grow.

It’s going to happen. One year, your gardening season is not going to live up to your expectations. Have you thought about what you’ll eat when your garden flops?

Troubleshooting a garden that is dying

I’ve written a lot about adaptability as a survival mechanism and this holds true with your vegetable garden as well.  When a major part of your survival plan is growing your own food, being able to identify and overcome issues with your plan is vital.

Experience. The number one key to troubleshooting your iffy garden is experience. Many people make a survival plan without any practical skills to back it up. Have you gardened before? Have you gardened in the area in which you intend to survive? If you haven’t, you aren’t going to be able to predict the pitfalls, like deer fencing that isn’t high enough, too much direct afternoon sun, not enough direct afternoon sun, etc.  This is the major reason for my gardening failure this year. All of this stuff is learned by (often painful) experience. Keep a gardening journal to help avoid repeating those mistakes and to keep track of trends, like late frosts, etc. So get out there and get dirty. No excuses. If you don’t do it now, you can’t expect to survive doing it.

Soil testing.  A huge part of successful gardening happens before you ever plant a seed. You need to know all about your soil so that you can amend it and provide the right foundation for growth. It’s best if you amend before planting but you can still have some success after the fact.  Every bit as important as your seeds is a soil-testing kit. Get a kit that tests for soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash content.  I like this kit because it has 10 tests for each substance. The price is very reasonable (it’s geared towards classroom instruction) so get a few for your stockpile. This way, if the S hits the F, you can still have access to the science that you need to troubleshoot successfully.

Soil Amendments.  Once you’ve done your testing, you will need the supplies to amend your soil to optimum nutrient levels.  Find some books on DIY soil amendments and stock up on supplies that you might need to adjust where your oil is lacking. If your goal is gardening for survival, it’s very important to learn to amend your soil without a trip to the garden store. For example, blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. This can be improved by adding milk to the roots of your plants, then deeply watering them, or making tea from crushed eggshells. Learn about the safe management of manurecomposting, and the use of cover crops.

Access to information.  Right now, we have the luxury of the internet. With the help of Google and YouTube, we can find the answers to nearly any gardening question we might have. But in a long-term survival situation, it won’t be that easy. It’s almost a guarantee that if you are in a scenario during which your vegetable garden is all that stands between you and malnutrition, you aren’t going to have access to the internet.

My bookcase is loaded with reference books on topics like gardening, herbalism, and other old-fashioned skills. Join me by going old school. Get yourself some well-reviewed gardening books. These are some of my very favorites:

Also, check out the highlighted links in the soil amendment section above for more excellent books. (Some of them are available for free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, but I strongly recommend hard copies of books that you find useful.)

And be ready for worst-case scenarios. In a perfect world, everything would be organic and wholesome. But in an imperfect world, when your garden is the difference between life and death, it’s possible you might occasionally have to use methods that you wouldn’t normally use. I’m talking, of course, about chemical methods: fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide. It isn’t ideal, but when you absolutely must have a successful season, you should have a few things like this put aside for worst-case scenarios.

What to do when you can’t grow your own garden

While my plan is to eventually be able to grow much of what we need for survival, I’m also prepared for a bad year. While the items above will help you through many gardening issues, there are some things that are completely beyond human control. Things like:

  • Bad weather, either too hot, too cold, too rainy, or too dry
  • Pests – who remembers that book in the Little House series where Pa’s fields were descended upon by a horde of hungry locusts?
  • Natural disasters – wildfires, terrible storms, tornadoes – all of those can wipe out a garden

There’s absolutely nothing you can do about certain events. And that’s why you must have a Plan B. A stockpile of long-term food is essential for surviving when the deck is stacked against you.

There are numerous different ways to go about building your food supply (which I go over in my course, Build a Better Pantry on a Budget, but the basics are:

For more information, check out this article: 12 Strategies for Creating the Perfect Pantry.

Have you ever had a bad garden season?

This year, I’m very thankful that I have lots of homesteader friends and an excellent farmer’s market, as I navigate my new gardening environment. (You can find a local farmer’s market HERE.) I still have some stuff leftover from last year’s harvest, and of course, my stockpile, but this year’s harvest is looking like it’s going to be disappointing.

As with any preparedness scenario, thinking through it ahead of time can help us maneuver through the situation more easily if it happens in the midst of a crisis. Have you ever had a similar bad gardening year? What are some of the causes I may not have covered? Pests? Weather? An act of nature? Were you able to overcome it, and if so, how did you do it?

About the Author

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.