Category Archives: Dr Vandana Shiva

Prophetess of the soil

“In this handful of soil is your future.”

  • Thus spake Vandana Shiva, 14 July 2016, Indian Summer Festival

In this troubled time of brutality, inequality, political corruption and injustice, I’ve been swallowing the bitter pill of disillusionment as GMO labelling was undone today in the US Congress.  Another blow to democracy where over 90 percent of Americans want to know what’s in their food.

The silver lining is that my spirits were bolstered by being in the presence of the great Vandana Shiva: eco-prophetess, woman warrior, seed saviour.

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She overflowed the church tonight, sitting in an armchair decked out in a gorgeous sari.  She effortlessly hurled one pearl of wisdom after the other.  She was like Kali-Saraswati-Durga Devi. Her pronouncements were interrupted several times with ovations.  It’s intense stuff.  Life and death, suicides, oppression, the history of the industrial agricultural movement with its violent roots in the machines of war… Here is a sample of one-liners I scribbled down on the back of my e ticket (folded into quadrants.  I hope I got these right):

  • “We are pro-Earth, not anti-GM”
  • “The real problem is the war against the Earth.  You take care of the Earth, the rest just happens”
  • “The seed is a self-organised auto-poetic system. Not a machine”
  • “It’s anti-science to not know how nature works”

I could go on and on but I think lists are boring.  Better for someone to take these one-liners and make convenient facebook memes….?

Afterwards, powerhouse Elizabeth May joined Dr Shiva in conversation and my fave line from her was “Foodie is a radical concept that people want to eat food that actually tastes good.”  May also urges us to stand up for the Peace River, against Site C Dam (which is primarily to enable fracking) and support the last-stand family farmers who refuse to leave their homes in the best farmland in BC.  The Peace River protests are all about food security.  Let’s join them.

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Dr Shiva’s premise is that we are at a fork in the road: on one hand is total obliteration, a warlike worshipping of killing (bugs, pests, “weeds”) under the guise of progress/science.  On the other hand is peace and prosperity.  Once we replenish the soil and respect the integrity of the seed and all that nature has to teach us, we will be able to solve many social problems from water supply to displacement of peoples.  Her case is compelling.  She’s written more than 20 books on these subjects.  Nine honorary degrees…

Although we have so much fighting against nature and the sustainable food movement – the huge lobby dollars, the subsidies, the bought scientists, the paid-for trolls and smear-ers… despite everything they throw at us to convince of their flawed paradigm… we aren’t buying it. Organics is growing. Yugely.

Smile. Go ahead. Yes, you see through the elaborate deceptions.  And your eyes are open and the future is pregnant with possibilty.

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Now, since it’s getting late, I’ll end with a positive quote by Dr Shiva.

“We can seed another future because we can live with peace with all the creatures on the Earth.”

Amen.

 

Yogic Farming – Say What?

“T’aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it”

– Ella Fitzgerald

Ella’s singing in my head as I write.  And I *get* this song; it popped into my head when I talked with Piero. It made sense, like when I fell in love for the first time and finally “got” every lyric about love ever written. In fact, love is the operative word when I spoke with the yogic farming creator of Kebio’s Santa Pasta. I asked him, “if you had one word to describe what you’re doing?”  Love is the answer.

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Piero  Senatore Musini says, “Love is the natural vibration of everything is living.”

I’ve heard a lot about different types of agriculture. Monoculture, industrial, organic, biodynamic.  I’ve read about farmers in India dramatically increasing their yields reverting to traditional methods.  When I asked Vandana Shiva about that in 2013, she said some folks believed it had much to do with uncompressing the soil.  Basically, the opposite of using heavy machines. There are myriad, wonderful ways to nourish and replenish the soil through ancient and organic methods.  Keep in mind, most industrial modern agricultural methods (from the 1950s  on) have succeeded mostly in depleting the soil and introducing biocides into the soil, air, food and water from glyphosate and now agent orange’s 2,4 D. There are so many viable alternatives.

My parents told me of a farm they just visited last week, where the farmers keep hives of predator insects.  Kind of like cultivating ladybugs to eat the aphids.  Natural pesticides…  Uncle Matt’s Organic orange growers in Florida also use such methods to fabulous effects. But, one thing I never heard about until I met Piero was “yogic farming.”

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Travels to the East have inspired pioneers in the West, as I have discovered in many early movers and shakers in the food movement. Piero had been to India and learned about Brahma Kumaris studies in Yogic Farming. So when Piero took over the management of his family farm in Italy in 2008, he promptly converted it to organic and has since implemented yogic farming.  Piero’s a tall, soft-spoken, calm and twinkly-eyed Italian who lives near one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval towns (Gubbio) near Assisi. Piero’s cara mamma set up an agricultural teaching center on the farm after being horrified when a local child informed her that milk was made at the store.

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What on Earth *is* yogic farming you must be asking??  At this point, I will let Piero explain, from an article he wrote for Dirt Magazine:

“YOGIC FARMING IN PRACTICE – Methodology

“The seeds or a sample of the seeds are placed in the house, ideally in the corner where meditation is practiced regularly. Thoughts of peace, love, strength and resilience for empowering and linking the seeds to the farmer are practiced every day for few days up to a month before sowing. From then on, regular meditations are conducted in the fields and remotely with specific practices designed to support each phase of the crop growth cycle: from seed germination, growth, and especially a lot of gratitude towards the time of harvest. In addition placing a meditation flag in each field helps in being reminded to sustain the meditative practice during the day.”

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When I was growing up, my dad always stressed how food was better, tastier, imbued with good vibrations when one meditated on the food while preparing it.  It’s about intention.

I grew up with the idea of parshad, or blessed food.  In Hindu and Sikh temples, after prayers, hot sweet parshad is handed out. For me, as a kid, that was always the best part! (I grew up in a sugar-restricted home). So I couldn’t get enough of the delicious sweets after invocations when I studied Bharat Natyum classical Indian dance as a child.  (I was a terrible dancer, sad to admit.) In the Indian tradition of saints and sadhus, food that has been prayed upon or blessed by holy men and women is special. How? Why?

This is something I’ve only just started to understand.  It hit me about a year ago.

I went to a Hindu temple with friends who wanted to pray with me after I had passed close to the veil.  We went into this small but colorful temple.  Conches were blown and bells were ringing.  It was a mesmerizing atavistic cacophony. The chanting was vibrating through the speakers viscerally calling one to the higher, the divine.  I slowly walked around the perimeter of the room where Gods were lovingly dressed in jewels and rich silks.

Praying in the Hindu temple, focusing kind and loving thoughts for people I love, using the gods as a focal point was a new experience.  After I circled the room, a bare-chested priest wearing a dhoti with marks on his forehead put into my hands a mango. This luscious fruit had been sitting on the tip of Lord Ganesh’s trunk.  When I ate it later, I was continually reminded how many prayers were sent its way, passing between and amongst fibres with love and hope.

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A South Indian friend from Kerala explained how mothers take wedding jewelry to the temple and transmit the positive energy of prayers while wearing the jewelry.  Then when it is passed onto the bride, the prayers also go with the gold.

But back to the fields! There have been studies on yogic farming.  To read more, look up the article in Asian Agri-History, (Volume 19, Number 2 May-June 2015 pp 105-122).  They have found that meditating on the seeds and in the fields has helped the yield and the general well-being of the farmers and their families. The Indian Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in September 2015 (Article in Indian Express 15 Sept 2015), that the government supports organic and yogic farming.

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Piero designed the logo above and puts it on his Santa Pasta grown from ancient grains (from Spelt and older wheats like Senatore Cappelli to Millet).  I made some Santa Pasta spelt linguine with broccoli for dinner 2 nights ago.  (Eternal grazie to Maria de la Purification Saez in Marti for the recipe). It was delicious.  We thought of the Kebio farm in Umbria and felt the love on our plates from the whole-grain pasta and the green brocoli with olio nuovo, new olive oil my typing hands helped pick from trees on his farm.

For Piero, organic cultivation was just a starting point.  His goal is to enhance biodiversity, the soil, and nutrition through the cultivation of ancient grains. In his practise of yogic farming, Piero said he goes into a state of mindful consciousness.  He tries to reach a deep part of the self that is love, happiness purity joy, the essence of the soul.  Swimming in that energy, he has loving feelings for nature.  He feels like an instrument, a lens, focusing down into the fields, into the seeds, into the plants and what will nourish and sustain us and the ecosystem.

Here is Piero meditating in his fields:

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The idea of praying on food or objects wasn’t a first for me.  But I really lit up when I heard of yogic farming.  The idea of prayer in the fields, upon the seeds strikes me as simply… bello!

Something to share.

Something to meditate upon.

 

 

GMO Mini Summit

The truth will set you free.

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If you want to know more of the truths of GMOs, please take some time between the 25 – 27 (starting this coming Friday) to follow GMO Mini-Summit. http://gmosummit.org/  It’s free and you can tune in on the internet or by phone.  It will be hosted by best-selling authors Jeffrey Smith and John and Ocean Robbins.

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Please tune in and have your loved ones tune in.  This comes from a concerned place of love for you and the planet.  This comes from a desire to educate.  This comes from all that is good and true and just.  This comes from all that is light.

The March


I was so stoked to see so many marchers in Victoria today!

Unfortunately I was only able to stay for a short time. But in that brief time, we marched as if our lives depended on it.  And they do!  Wanting to spread a positive message, our signs read We Didn’t Grow Up Eating GMOs.  Why Should You? Our Grandmas Didn’t Grow Up Eating GMOs.  Why should We?  Misty and I were dressed like our glamorous grannies in 1950s garb with our signs held up by Wooden Kitchen Spoons.

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With Rachel, fellow fighter for food democracy.  DSC_0305 DSC_0322 DSC_0324 DSC_0326

 

March for our Food

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”
– JFK

I passionately encourage everyone everywhere to march tomorrow in the world’s second March Against Monsanto.  It’s being held in every major city in the world on October 12th.

Here is Dr Vandana Shiva explaining why we should March.

Although Monsanto is perhaps the least ethical of the corporations, they are not the only ones legally hijacking our food supply.  6 companies are in control here: Dow, Sygenta, Dupont, Bayer Crop Science, Basf  are just as culpable.  Between them, they control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets.  This is not science fiction.  This is not a conspiracy theory.

“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.” —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector

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This should have violated every anti-trust piece of legislation known to the courts.   Like monocrop agriculture is wrong, so are a handful of companies consolidating the food chain.   They say they are feeding the world.  Owning and poisoning the food supply doesn’t equate to feeding the world.  GMOs are not proven safe for human consumption.   They were released into our food supply after 3 month long rat studies.  Rats live 2 years!  The theory is that they use fewer pesticides.  The reality is that they use more pesticides than before.  The theory is that they give more nutrition.  The reality is that these are all just dreams and not one nutritionally enhanced food is commercially available.  As people wake up to this reality, they are outraged.


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March for our Food.

March for the Bees who are beeing destroyed by neonicontinoid pesticides.  (Neonicotinoids are a common coating on GMO seeds)

March for justice for the 284 000 Farmers in India who have been driven to suicide.

March for biodiversity.

March for the system of farming that works: ORGANIC.  In side by side comparison studies Organic yields equal GMO yields over the long run.  In times of drought, Organic yields are greater than GMOs.  Without poisoning the Earth.

I’m leaving you with this image: Monarch butterflies flutter, Bees Buzz, Insects abound, Our rivers run clean.  Air is pure.  This all is possible if we grow organically. Listen to the Earth.  Respect her creatures.  Respect each other.   As Grandpa Rupert said,

“Always Leave the soil better than when you found it.”

LA’s Seed Freedom Fest


“The growing of our food should be an act of love.”

– Dr. Vandana Shiva

In 2012, 6 million Californians voted to label GMOs.  Although Proposition 37 didn’t turn to law by the narrowest of margins, the momentum isn’t dying.  It is growing by leaps and bounds.  As people become aware of just how wrong GMOs are, they can’t ignore what they’ve learned.  You can try to ignore the environmental, social and health consequences of a system.  You can try but it’s like closing your eyes during a scary movie. You can even close your ears but you can’t ignore the thumping of your heart.

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Yesterday was LA’s Seed Freedom Fest, rated one of the top 10 events in LA.  It was a celebration of the seeds of life, of biodiversity and of the way things ought to be in our agricultural production.  It’s the way things could be if we demanded it. Who wants to eat chemical pesticide and herbicide residues on their food? Who wants to eat food that is spliced with a pesticide?  Food that actually is a pesticide?  Logic and now science are showing that the original ideas behind GMOs are so drastically wrong. Everyone says, “I’d buy organic if it weren’t so expensive.”

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It’s expensive because our governments subsidize GMO agriculture, not organic agriculture.  Then they make Organic Farmers pay to be certified.  We must demand that our governments do the opposite: subsidize organic farms and make the GMO proponents prove that their food is safe for public consumption.

You and I are the voice.  Change comes when people ask for it, stand up for it and don’t back down.  Be the change.

My Speech at the March Against Monsanto Victoria

“The Right to Know what’s in our food is going to define our generation”

– Me (Today)

For the first time today, I gave a speech at a Protest Rally.   I spoke to a crowd covering the lawn in front of Victoria’s Parliament Buildings.  The energy was insane and I kept getting interrupted with applause.  Having been so moved since hearing Dr Vandana Shiva talk, it was motivating and inspiring to march with others, demanding our rights to know what’s in our food.  Several people afterwards asked me if I could email my speech to them.  I figured maybe it would be better to post it so anybody can find it.  I’ve also been asked about where to sign  petitions.  I am going to find that out put that information out too.  Meantime, here is my talk.

“I speak to you as a friend and as a mother who is sick to her stomach with this GMO madness. My Grandparents and great- grandparents farmed here on Vancouver Island. Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the Soil better than you found it”.

I am here today because I met Dr Vandana Shiva, winner of the Alternative Nobel prize and heard her talk here at UVIC. I was so upset that evening, I couldn’t sleep. I was inspired and inflamed. I was so perturbed and disturbed about the current state of affairs, I wanted to get up and shout, tell people about it. We have a right to know what’s in our food. There is not enough evidence that GMOs are healthy for us. The ever-growing evidence is that GMOs are poisoning us and destroying our planet.

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First of all, GMOs stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. These are plants and animals not found in nature, created in laboratories. Once they are released into nature you can’t recall them, like opening the lid of Pandora’s Box, My Dad Arran said in 1990s, “There is no wall high enough to keep out GMOs”. There are two main types of GMOs. One type has insecticide toxin spliced into their genes. The other type is spliced with a pesticide resistance gene. So when you plant it in a field and saturate that field with pesticides and herbicides, Everything in that field dies (in theory). Everything, except for the Genetically modified plant.

We first heard about GMO foods in the 1990s with the Franken tomato with fish genes.  From then until now independent study after independent study has shown serious health and environmental and social consequences.

Animal studies show that GMOs cause : cancers, ulcers, acute signs of early aging, reproductive and growth problems.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg. GMO toxins are in our bodies. They even cross the placenta. In a 2011 study from the Scientific Journal Reproductive Toxicology, 93% of fetal blood tested contained GMO toxins. This is dangerous and as a Mother, I find this terrifying.

What is worse is that more than eighty percent of all food sold in Canadian supermarkets contains these GMOs. Eighty percent! And nobody knows about it because they are not labelled!

64 countries require GMO labeling or outright ban GMOs. 64 countries including such “Progressive Nations like China and Russia – require GMOs to be labelled. Why not US?

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My family has been at the forefront to label GMOs in North America. We are Canadians, living here in Victoria and Vancouver but so far, the fight to label has been in the US. GMOs are a problem affecting everybody, everywhere. You coming out today is a sign that Canada too is waking up.

Let me tell you about a grandmother called Pamm Larry in California. Pamm presented a proposition to label GMOs called prop 37. My family heard about this contributed 660, 000 to help her spread the word. Other companies and individuals joined us and we raised 3-4 million dollars for prop 37, the right to know. Californians wanted GMO labelling and the proposition was going to pass with a landslide. But guess what happened in the last 6 weeks of that grass roots campaign? Monsanto, Dow, Coca cola, Syngenta, Post, DuPont, Bayer, Pespico, Cascadian Farms, Kelloggs, Kashi and others donated almost 50 million dollars to defeat labelling. Those big companies and big companies posing as little companies do not want consumers to know what we are eating. They outspent the grassroots pro-labelling initiative by 10 to 1 after waging a dirty, fearful, and deceitful campaign. But guess what? they didn’t win the vote by tenfold. The final vote came down to 48.5% for labelling GMOs and 51.5% against. It wasn’t a win for Consumer Rights this time BUT it was a victory in that 6,000,000 people voted FOR labelling. That represents a ten-fold increase in awareness of this dangerous and unsustainable technology.

We are awakening and we are the droplets of water in the tides that are turning. Just this past week in Connecticut, the house approved a pro-labelling bill that went to the senate who also voted to approve it 35 to 1: Democrats and Republicans together. Concerned Citizens in Washington State and Vermont have bills on the table as we speak.

Let me tell you something neat. Scientists have come up with a way of measuring life in fields. They take this box contraption which has cameras and sensors in it and lay it in a field. It counts every time a bug or creature crawls or slithers or buzzes through it. In an organic field, there will be hundreds of insects going through there in 24 hours. Now take the same box and put it in a GMO field and guess what happens? In one 24 hour period, in that GMO field, there will only maybe one or possibly 2 insects passing that box. The animals and insects know to stay away from GMOS – or have been killed -but we don’t. ?

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I thought the Canadian government was supposed to protect us citizens.  Don’t we have the right to know what we are eating?  We must teach ourselves where to shop, how to shop, and what to buy. Tell your schools and your work places about GMOs. Make you voice heard, ask your local elected representative for help. In a world where voting with your money can be an act of protest, buy from your local farms food you trust. If you want to be totally and utterly defiant, plant seeds, grow your own food.

It’s confusing out there in the supermarket. We are being misled and confused and deliberately so. What should you eat? What should you trust? What should you avoid? Here are some shopping rules:

Avoid “Natural” if that’s it’s only claim. By itself, “Natural” means nothing nowadays. Natural means it can have pesticides and herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs.  It probably does.  There are no rules or laws regulating the term ‘Natural”.

Foods bearing the Canada Organic Seal can be trusted.  Organic is a legal definition and a traceable system with the force of law behind it.

There is a new label called Non-GMO project verified. It is third-party certified at a threshold of 9/10 of a percent contamination. If you see it on packaging, that means the food has been tested and has no GMOs. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is not all that great. Harmful and unsustainable pesticides and Herbicides are still allowed, just not the ones in GMO production. This label is being used as Greenwashing by some companies. It certainly is not as good as organic.  Organic certification has never allowed GMOs.  Never.

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When in doubt, if in doubt, buy certified organic. Organic automatically means that it’s GMO FREE PLUS it’s grown sustainably. Organic is quantum leaps better than all the other labels combined. Certified organic is the Gold Standard: No harmful pesticides, no harmful herbicides. Buying organic is safe for you and is the only way we can keep our waters and lands and soil pure.

Think of that GMO field – barren of bees and insects, silent except for farmers in biohazard suits spraying toxic chemicals on the crops. Now see an organic one. See a world where the bees are buzzing and the soil is naturally replenished. See the world where food is democratic, where the seeds are free and grow again and again and again. When you buy Organic, you support this.

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Demand GMOs to be labelled. If China and Russia and 62 other countries have done it, we can do it too. Nestle just recently caved into consumers in South Africa who demanded that its baby food be GMO free. Why did Nestle do this? Because a concerned group of citizens demanded it. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Like in S. Africa, we can do the same thing here in Canada. We must do the same thing! We are the voice! We have the right to know what’s in our food! What do we want: Labelling When do we want it: Yesterday

Dr Vandana Shiva said, “The growing of our food should be an act of love.”

And as Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the soil better than you found it.”

Thank you.”