(7 ft tall pigeon pea shrub in center of photo--Kale at bottom right) - Garland Community Garden - August 30, 2016
Plant Diversity in action at the Garland Community Garden: Visit our Multicultural plot and the one next to it for examples of thriving plant diversity in action. Traditional industrial agriculture promotes acres and acres of mono-crops, which in turn often require heavy doses of pesticides and industrial equipment to maintain and harvest. Organic farming, by contrast, promotes plant diversity, which in turn sets up a natural ecosystem to protect plants from predators.
Sorry folks, but the title of this article is close to the absolute truth. “Buy local” means purchase the food you eat from growers you know, from farms or gardens that you can visit in person.
Our Current Food System Is Not Sustainable.
America is losing up to 40% of its food from farm to fork to landfill.
If you need proof that our current food system here in the USA is broken, consider these facts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States.
Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane emissions.
Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Increasing the efficiency of our food system is a triple bottom-line solution that requires collaborative efforts by businesses, governments and consumers. [Of course as part of this solution, we need to figure out a distribution system to get this food to the Americans who need it—Liz]
We need national goals for waste reduction; businesses could seize opportunities to streamline their own operations, reduce food losses and save money; and consumers can waste less food by shopping wisely, knowing when food goes bad, buying produce that is perfectly edible even if it’s less cosmetically attractive, cooking only the amount of food they need, and eating their leftovers . . .”
While the food we scrape off our plates may not be directly related to starving children in the world, it is directly related to the growing problem of running out of landfill space
Don’t Trust “Organic” Labels
To begin with, you are likely never to purchase many products that are “organic” in any chain store and that includes stores that promote themselves as healthy food stores. Organic does not merely refer to how produce is grown, it also refers to how the produce is distributed, packaged and marketed. Just for starters, “Organic” means the produce is brought to the store from nearby—not shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away thus depleting un-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.
“Organic” has largely gone mainstream for the sake of Wall Street. Investor profitability. For example, Cascadian Farm is now owned by General Mills. Cascadian is located in the town of Rockport, Washington-- 75 miles northeast of Seattle. Gene Kahn started the farm in 1971. Kahn is now a General Mills Vice President and a millionaire.
Horizon is a $127 million public corporation that that controls 70 percent of the retail market for organic milk. Their milk is now "ultra-pasteurized," a process that pushes the freshness date into the next millennium. It is also a high-heat process that destroys enzymes and many of the vitamins in milk.
FIVE EASY STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR FAMILY’S DIET AND TAKE BACK SOME CONTROL OF YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
1. Grow some of the food you eat. Even if you have limited space, a family of four could grow enough kale in four five-gallon buckets to supply their family with this super food, vitamin-packed green year-round. Kale is easy to grow and easy to harvest. It is a plant that keeps giving—even during the winter.
2. Stop purchasing cereals—you know, the kind that kids love. Don’t even go down the cereal aisle any more. These cereals are laced with sugar and pesticide residues. Next to breakfast tarts, they are among the worst choices for a child’s breakfast. In fact, just about everything you see in the cereal aisle of any grocery store is not fit to be labeled as food.
Pesticide residues are omnipresent in the American food supply. The FDA finds them in 30 to 40% of the food it samples. The government has established “acceptable” levels for these residues in crops. Whether “acceptable” means they're safe to consume is debatable.
The tolerances haven't taken into account that children's narrow diets make them especially susceptible or that the complex mixtures of other chemicals to which we're exposed heighten the dangers.” [SOURCE: Behind the Organic Industrial Complex” - New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/13/magazine/13ORGANIC.html?pagewanted=8 accessed August 28, 2016]
3. If you have a yard, plant a tree that will bear fruit your family can eat—even if this means digging up that useless Bradford Pear tree that so many in our DFW area seem to love. A fruit tree requires little effort to maintain. You don’t have to go all out and become Mr. McGregor the gardener. Another excellent choice for a fruit-producing plant in our area is the thornless blackberry. Four blackberry plants in my yard faithfully produce 75 pounds of blackberries every year for the past three years. Except for trimming back once a year, they require very little care.
4. Find out where organic farms are located in your area and visit them. You can learn a lot by visiting these farms and talking with the people who own and operate them.
5. Visit your local community garden: observe, learn and apply. Most communities in the DFW area have such gardens. The Garland Community Garden is located on 4055 Naaman School at the corner of Brand and Naaman School Road.
Here are a three organic farms in the area that sell their produce to residents of the DFW area:
TRUTH HILL FARM
Located about one hour north of Dallas in eastern Collin County.
Like most small organically run farms, Truth Hill Farm has a delivery system that allows your to place an order online and then pick it up at one of their designated drop centers. Please call or email to set up a time to visit.
Their products include: Farmstead Cheeses; Unfiltered honey; 100% forage fed natural beef; Pasture Pork; Pasture Chicken; Pasture free range eggs
17953 County Road 618
Farmersville, TX 75442
GOOD EARTH ORGANIC FARM
A family farm serving the Dallas and North Texas areas since 1984. Located 45 minutes Northeast of McKinney, Good Earth Organic Farm has been maintained organically for over 30 years. They sell from their farm's store and at local farmer's markets.
Call or text: 903-496-2070
Address 8629 FM 272 – Celeste Texas 75423
Please call or email to set up a day and time to visit.
Jacobsen’s Jujube Farm in Farmersville
VISIT EVERY WEEKEND IN SEPTEMBER AND HARVEST YOUR OWN JUJUBES FOR $3 A POUND!
Bring your own bags and gloves. Jujubes have thorns!
The first weekend will be Labor Day weekend, and each September weekend after that. Saturdays we will be here from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sundays after church from 2 to 6 PM.
7904 C.R. 572, Farmersville, Texas
Jujubes are delicious fruits that are easy to freeze, and dry in the dehydrator. Very medicinal, contains 18 amino acids, and betulinic acid. Vitamins C & A, B1, B2, B3, B6 + minerals. Leaves are free and used for tea.
Read more about the health and medicinal benefits of jujubes at http://www.fruithealthvenenfitscom/jujube
Also the Garland Community Garden has a jujube tree that is planted near the front of our garden. This is its first year so won't bear fruit. In addition I think I’ve published information on the jujubes previously on this blog.
One Last Note to Beginning Gardeners in North Texas: IT’S THE SOIL THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Our Blackland Prairie Soil must be amended if you hope to successfully grow most vegetables. Simply put this means tilling the soil 8 inches down and mixing with expanded shale. This is a one-time event for preparing the soil. After that no more tilling. Just continue to nourish with compost. You will find the recommended ratios of expanded shale per square foot of soil on the bags of expanded shale.
For more on soil:
Howard's 1940 treatise "An Agricultural Testament" demonstrated the connection between the health of the soil and the ability of plants to withstand diseases and pests. You can download this treatise for free from Gutenberg http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200301.txt