Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Food Desert”

A Fair Currency – Roger Ingalls

There’s been a lot of news about Bitcoins and their success as a currency over the past several months. Prior to recent news, I wouldn’t even have known about them if it wasn’t for a friend that is really in to the digital mining of these coins.

This geeky digital money has gotten my mind churning about creating another currency that could parallel the dollar but would be a FAIR currency for main street working-class peoples. With the success and high public interest in the Bitcoin, it does seem likely that the creation of other useable forms of currency is possibly.

gold

It’s a worthy experiment to emulate, where appropriate, the implementation of the Bitcoin but this proposed new currency would be based on a basic human necessity instead of a precious metal like gold or a fiat currency ,such as, the US Dollar which is tied to the whims of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street Banks. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s call this new currency a FAIR. I would suggest the FAIR be based on food and more specifically, a fast and easily grown food such as lettuce. Again, food is needed by all so it is inherently precious.

Through the centuries, kings, warlords and religious leaders accumulated ornate elements to show proof of their powerful position. Over time, one of the elements – gold – would become the standard for commercial transactions. Until the 1970s, regional currencies were proportionally tied to gold; for example, the US Dollar was worth about 1/20th of an ounce and the Sterling Pound was equivalent to ¼ ounce. Here’s the point: today’s currencies are rooted in an ornate metal hoarded and controlled by the rich and powerful which has little to no life-sustaining value.

A currency tied to food has real value. It would solve many problems including hunger, obesity, wealth disparity, global warming and other aspects of an ailing society. Over the next several weeks I will justify the benefits of a food based currency, discuss implementation and earning participation.

Beyond Genetically Modified Food – Roger Ingalls

There’s a new food source coming and it makes GMOs (genetically modified organisms) look like child’s play. Soon, your food may be printed.

Normally I’m not in favor of manmade or DNA altered organisms getting into our food system because our bodies have not evolved to properly recognize and chemically breakdown many of these foods. It’s no accident that obesity and diabetes correlates to the rapid adaption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in processed food and drinks. HFCS is a manmade invention and the human body cannot adequately deal with it. However, 3D printed food may be a different but positive development.

picture from SMRC

picture from SMRC

If you’re not familiar with 3D printing, click here.

There are two basic reasons why I believe food printing could be a good thing. First, it will be a very efficient way to produce food and second, food could be composed exactly the way an individual may need it to maintain health. Fundamentally, food is made of proteins, sugars, oils, macro and micro nutrients and water. Like ink in a printer cartridge, these building blocks for food can be printed in layers to form an edible meal and the printer can have a built in hotplate to cook the food as it is being formed.

The fundamental elements would be in a powder form and could be stored for decades. This would greatly reduce food shortage all over the world because stocks could be built up during good production years. This type of food system would conserve valuable resources such as water and energy. Food would be assembled where needed (no or limited transport cost) so the energy goes straight into making the product and the same is true for water.

In 30 years the world population will grow from today’s 6 billion to 9 billion. We will need all forms of food production such as genetically modified factory farms, urban grown food, feed lot animals and aquaponics. 3D printed food assembled from basic elements will be just another needed source to feed the hungry masses.

A Family Fun Garden – Roger Ingalls

If you’re contemplating a garden and want the entire family involved, consider building an aquaponic garden.

aquaponics-picture-2

Aquaponics is a constructed ecosystem based on fish, plants and beneficial bacteria that harnesses nature’s propensity to create balanced growth while conserving resources (water, nutrients and energy). Essentially, one life form benefits the next in a re-circulating system. Beneficial bacteria create a probiotic environment where fish waste (poop and ammonia) is converted into nitrite and then nitrate which is a usable form of natural fertilizer for plants. In turn, the plants remove the nitrate from the water to fuel their growth leaving clean water for the fish. Other than a little water, the only input is food for the fish. Since fish are cold-blooded, they waste no energy regulating their body temperature making them efficient consumers of food. On average, two pounds of food adds one pound of weight to a fish compared to 16 pounds of cattle feed to produce one pound of beef. Another benefit of using fish waste for fertilizer is there’s no risk of E coli poisoning commonly attributed to waste from warm-blooded livestock.

Aquaponic Benefits:

1)      Up to 10 times more vegetables per given space relative to standard soil gardening.

2)      The plants grow twice as fast because nutrient packed water is supplied straight to the root.

3)      Since there is no soil, there’s no soil borne pests, no weeds so no pesticides or herbicides are needed.

4)      Aquaponics uses 95% less water than conventional farming or gardening.

5)       No daily watering is required since plants grow in a re-circulating water system.

6)      Both plants and fish are grown creating two sources of food (meat protein and vegetables).

7)      Overall, aquaponics uses 70% less energy than conventional farming.

8)       It’s all organic, no fossil fuel based fertilizers or pesticide.

9)      It can be replicated anywhere on Earth.

The most productive farm in the USA is in the middle of Milwaukee WI. This three acre urban farm, Growing Power, produces one million pounds of food per year.

Go to youtube.com, type in aquaponics and you’ll be hooked. There will be videos and plans to build a system perfect for any household. It can be as simple as a small goldfish bowl, one goldfish, a $5 air pump, plastic tubing and a basil starter from the local hardware store. The little fish will poop which fertilizes the basil plant and the plant will clean the water to keep the fish healthy. All you have to do is feed the goldfish and added a little water now and then. The whole family will enjoy the experience and the organic basil.

Seriously, go to youtube and check it out. You will be amazed by the rapid growth of this new farming method.

Aquaponics: Farming the Good Way

Last week I blogged about the new Occupy Gardens movement and it seemed to strike a positive nerve with many people. I believe food production is the most important issue facing the human race so I’ll stay with this theme for another week and probably many more.

Our current industrial farming methods are atrocious; they’re wasteful and extremely destructive. I’ll explain more about the perils of our fossil fuel based agricultural system is future posts but today I want to draw attention to a new way to grow food called aquaponics.

What is aquaponics? It is a constructed ecosystem based on fish, plants and beneficial bacteria that harnesses nature’s propensity to balance growth (survival) with low consumption of resources (water, nutrients or energy…). Essentially, one life form benefits the next in a re-circulating system. Beneficial bacteria create a probiotic environment where fish waste (poop and ammonia) is converted into nitrite and then nitrate which is a usable form of natural fertilizer for plants. In turn, the plants remove the nitrate from the water to fuel their growth leaving clean water for the fish. Other than a little water, the only input is food for the fish. Since fish are cold-blooded, they waste no energy regulating their body temperature making them efficient consumers of food. On average, two pounds of food adds one pound of weight to a fish compared to 16 pounds of cattle feed to produce one pound of beef.

Aquaponic Benefits:

1)      Up to 10 times more vegetables per given space. Plants are grown in a soil-less media and nutrient packed water is directly supplied to the roots. Plants can be densely grown because there’s no competition for food.

2)      Since nutrient packed water is supplied to the root system, the plants use their energy growing vegetation not spreading roots. The plants grow twice as fast.

3)      There are no weeds since wanted plants are densely grown and there’s no soil to harbor unwanted weed seeds.

4)      Since there is no soil, there’s no soil borne pests. No pests no pesticides.

5)      Aquaponics uses 95% less water than conventional farming or gardening.

6)      No daily watering is required since plants grow in a re-circulating water system.

7)      Both plants and fish are grown creating two sources of food (meat protein and vegetables).

8)      Overall, aquaponics uses 70% less energy than conventional farming.

9)      It’s all organic, no fossil fuel based fertilizers or pesticides.

10)  It can be replicated anywhere on Earth.

Is aquaponics really a viable form of farming? Will Allen’s three acre Growing Power farm located in the city of Milwaukee WI, produces one million pounds of food per year. Aquaponics is central to his urban operation and has been described as the most productive farm in the country.

Aquaponics, check it out. Demand it. Your grandkids will thank you.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Concord Hymn Revisited: Story Telling for Social Change

…here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world…

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Concord Hymn” in 1836 for a dedication in Concord, Massachusetts to honor the men who gave their lives at the Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), the first battle of the American Revolution.

Travel left 3,000 miles to a spot just outside the glamour of San Francisco Bay. Here sits Concord CA, a small working class city at the weathered heels of Mt Diablo and flanked to the north by the bay’s brackish waters that glow in the dull flames of oil refining. At its southern flank rests the plastic town of Walnut Creek packed with brand-o-phile stores doing their part to fuel the debtor-nation.

Photo by Ted Hamiter  http://www.flickr.com/photos/trhamiter/2890931015/

Step forward to the year 2065, an author is honoring a movement and the date of December 21, 2012 with a poem. Much like the village of Concord MA on the outskirts of Boston, the non-descript city of Concord CA, would eventually become known as the marker of Economic Revolution.

The year 2011 was rough on the middleclass and the future didn’t look bright. In early 2012 the economy was still stagnant, China and India were consuming more energy and US gas prices hovered around $6 per gallon. Thirty years after Reagan devastated energy policies the country still had no cohesive plan. Because 2012 was an election year, Republicans were continuing the transfer of wealth to the upper-class and Big Business. The outlook for the common man was bleak.

A small group of frustrated citizens gathered and outlined a socially-just plan that would improve the living standards for all Concordians; the plan was published on the Mayan Time of Transition, December 21, 2012. The plan had a one-two punch with the first hitting immediately and the second coming about ten years later. For the initial phase, the group endorsed the Transition Town movement that focused on local economies and sustainability.

Within ten short years the city was completely transformed:

1)      There was an excess in local organic vegetable and protein food production.

2)      Unemployment was at a negative 15%.

3)      90% of suburban polluting lawns were converted to edible gardens.

4)      Water consumption dropped by 70%.

5)      Rooftops were retrofitted for algae production and then harvested for liquid energy conversion. The city became a green oil producer.

6)      There were no food deserts in any part of the city, fresh food was available within a five minute walk, children and adults enjoyed real food and obesity was below 15%.

7)      The environment was being regenerated and the city was carbon negative.

But the citizens weren’t satisfied. They knew their Garden of Eden was in danger. Sustainability and a happy healthy society are the enemy of Big Business and financial institutions that need an ever-expanding debtor economy to survive. The evil empires and their crony politicians would be coming.

By now the Transition Movement was sweeping the nation. It was time to release the final punch; the knockout punch that would put Big Business on the canvas where it belongs, supporting citizens and not controlling them. On January 1, 2023 most Concord citizens stopped paying loan obligations for homes and cars. They used social media to encourage the nation to do the same. Banks, Wall Street and insurance were crippled—the robber barons were forced to act responsible for the first time since the early1980s. The redistribution of wealth–back to the middleclass–had begun.

…here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world…

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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