Dec 6, 2016
8 Easy Ways to Lead a More Sustainable Lifestyle – The Mindful Bunny
This is the World Organic News Podcast for the week ending 5th of December 2016.
Jon Moore reporting!
This week we have a series of good news stories! Yes things are not ideal in the world and we’re all dealing with changes over which we have no control so let the good news begin!
The wonderfully named blog: The Mindful Bunny brings us a post: 8 Easy Ways to Lead a More Sustainable Lifestyle!
Like many of us the concept of sustainability can be overwhelming and The Mindful Bunny is no different:
Sustainability is the concept that allows the current generation’s needs to be meet without sacrificing the needs of future generations. This is important. The rate at which we currently use resources is not sustainable in the slightest. At first this problem is completely overwhelming. And no, you can’t fix it by yourself. This thought made me anxious beyond belief. After taking a step back I realized that I can make a difference. The little things do add up and leading by example has always served me well.
The eight suggestions start with low hanging fruit: Is waste really waste? Do I need to throw it away or not? Through to more challenging suggestions: Go Vegan sell the car and walk or ride a push bike.
The point of this post is that we can all make a difference. Even if we only choose to put the first few suggestions into practice we will make a difference. The way to change the world is by many of us doing small things to achieve massive outcomes. The Mindful Bunny gives us a good place to start!
The Genetic Literacy Project brings us a story that should be shouted from the rooftops, spread across the web and lead to such massive change we can all breathe a little easier. The post is entitled: USDA: Organic corn and soy more profitable than conventional crops despite higher costs. Let me just re-read that title so you’re sure of what I said. USDA: Organic corn and soy more profitable than conventional crops despite higher costs.
This is information we should spread far and wide! What many of us already knew has now been “proven” econometrically.
The premiums organic farmers receive for growing those crops more than compensate for the higher cost of production, said Catherine Greene, senior agricultural economist with the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
I’d even question the higher costs of organic production. When we factor in the costs of pesticides, herbicides and annual seed purchases that do not occur in organic systems. These alone, on economic grounds, point towards organic systems. Given good design labour costs are little more than or even less than conventional systems. And all this is before we include the benefits to pollinators, soil biota, water systems and all life on earth generally. So spread the word on this post, spread it as far and as thickly as you can!
Following on with good news, the blog ideas.ted.com brings the post: How ancient wisdom can help us adapt to climate change. The author Coco Liu brings us four old ideas making a comeback, especially with regards to drought.
The first is an old variety of rice.
“Floating rice is well adapted to floods,” Nguyen says. When heavy rains come, the plants grow at an accelerated rate so their foliage always remains above water — they can reach up to six meters (20 feet) in height. And since floodwaters can safely fill floating-rice paddies rather than swelling the river, the cities and villages downstream escape being submerged. “When we first reintroduced floating rice to the village of Vinh Phuoc in 2013, nearby farmers wanted us to teach them as well,” Nguyen says. His team is running a pilot program in two provinces in the Mekong Delta, and they plan to launch field work in Cambodia and Myanmar next year.
To achieve the best results on a society wide approach, the rice fields are not surrounded by dykes. This allows the flood waters to move sideways, so to speak, before flowing down stream. The benefits of this are food production from an adapted variety and less damaging flooding downstream.
The floating rice is less productive than hybridised “modern” varieties but work on this aspect of the variety is still to be done. It’s a balance thing where the costs of flooding are mitigated by less rice production but, obviously, massively larger straw production. This could be converted to protein by rabbits and or pigs so that the total food production rather than one output, grain, may be equal or even higher.
Another idea from the post relies upon understanding the archaeology of a region, in this case Bolivia. Floods and droughts in succession were mitigated in the past by canals and extreme raised bed gardening. These raised beds, some two metres in height, are called camellones.
Since Saavedra experimented with the method in the Beni region in 2007, he’s seen good results: His cassava and corn harvests set new records for organic farming in the area. When severe floods came in 2008 — the worst Bolivia had seen in 50 years — the plants on the camellones were the only ones that survived. The crops in conventional fields were completely swamped and destroyed. Although the intensive labor required to construct a camellone — it takes a week’s work with machinery for each hectare — has deterred some farmers, Saavedra’s nonprofit organization Sustainable Amazonia has taught 500 families to use this method. Oxfam has endorsed the camellone technique and financed its development in Bolivia.
Perhaps it is worth remembering the words of Joel Salatin. I paraphrase, “We’re really good as a culture at hitting targets. What we’re not so good at is asking if we’re aiming at the right target.”
Coco then goes on to talk about an old tribal habit in Kenya of calling a council called a “Dedha”. It’s all about managing feed resources during drought by allocating grazing for the whole community. It is an interesting idea and not dissimilar to how commons were grazed in medieval Europe for the benefit all in the community.
The final idea suggested is... Duck not pesticides!
... in northern China’s Heilongjiang Province. There, chilly springs used to hold back the hatching of pests. But with rising temperatures, that delay is fading away and pests are proliferating. Many farmers turned to intensive pesticide use, which has saved their crops — but killed large amounts of wildlife. “I was in a village where there were no frogs and no swallows. Instead, I saw empty pesticide bottles everywhere,” says Fang Yongjiang, a Chinese farmer and entrepreneur in the province. “The village was so quiet that it was scary.”
So Fang devised a chemical-free approach: using ducks to patrol the rice paddies, a technique that his ancestors relied on at least 600 years ago. The ducks feed on insects and weeds without consuming the rice plants; their droppings serve as fertilizer.
And you get duck eggs and duck meat. Using animals to the jobs of chemicals is really a no-brainer. It is a mimicking of Nature and it is always easier to work with the systems Nature has tested in the fire of evolution than to reinvent the wheel. Prety much all problems in agriculture and gardening have been solved already if we will only take the time to see them.
Our post this week comes from The One-cow Revolution blog and has the tempting title: “become a farmer in seven days”
Surprisingly, if you know what you’re doing, this is doable! From vacant overgrown block to farm in seven days! The first two days will give you some idea. A link to full article and all other articles mentioned are in the show notes. This particular post had me smiling extremely broadly.
And so it goes on for the rest of the week. Really worth clicking through.
And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.
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Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.
8 Easy Ways to Lead a More Sustainable Lifestyle – The Mindful Bunny
USDA: Organic corn and soy more profitable than conventional crops despite higher costs
How ancient wisdom can help us adapt to climate change | ideas.ted.com
become a farmer in seven days | The One-cow Revolution