“Poisons are us”

I feel compelled to compile some information related to the recent reversal of a planned ban of a common, yet dangerous, pesticide. I hadn’t actually heard of the generic name of this poison until the new EPA administrator announced he was halting the steps to ban it. [modified 5/19/2017]

“By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

  1. An article covering the public comment period on the regulatory reform agenda of Trump, Pruitt, et al. In other words, I’m trying to begin with something positive and empowering. Here’s the actual comment form. The deadline is May 15. Look for the “Comment Now” button in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Forbes has a great overview about the chlorpyrifos reversal
  3. “Poisons are us” | A compelling opinion piece by Timothy Egan
  4. Dow Chemical tries to kill risk study of its chlorpyrifos
  5. Here’s the National Pesticide Information Center general fact sheet on chlorpyrifos. The publication provides a very basic, yet alarming, explanation of why children are more sensitive to the insecticide. Studies have found that children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than those who did not. In addition, it states that chlorpyrifos is toxic to bees and earthworms. “It can poison non-target insects for up to 24 hours after it is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos can be toxic to earthworms for up to 2 weeks after it is applied to the soil.” Doesn’t that seem counterproductive — especially in its agricultural applications?
  6. A strong case against a pesticide does not faze EPA under Trump
  7. Letter from over 45 Scientists and Health Professionals Supporting EPA’s 2016 Risk Assessment and 2015 Proposal to Revoke Food Tolerances for Chlorpyrifos [pdf]

Please contact your federal legislators about the chlorpyrifos reversal, as well as the plans for repealing other EPA regulations.




Urban Agriculture

Urban chickens!I took Thursday afternoon off from work to join fellow urban agriculture advocates at a meeting of the OKC Planning Commission. We sat through nearly three hours of mind-numbing discussion before our agenda item — a comprehensive urban agriculture ordinance — was up for consideration. But it was worth the wait to hear the commissioners earnestly discuss matters of compost storage and rainwater harvesting. Most eagerly anticipated were the provisions allowing for backyard chickens: six hens per city lot! Sara Braden, a dedicated champion of the cause, spoke eloquently before the commission and expressed the group’s appreciation for the planning department’s efforts. The measure passed unanimously; next it goes to the City Council, with a vote tentatively set for December 31.
OKC Planning CommissionSome of my friends were more prepared than I for the grueling city meeting: Christine brought a novel and Sara had her crochet project. I decided to try out haiku, inspired by the matters at hand:

nutrient-dense globe
backyard food for everyone
gather, eat, repeat

gentle clucking soothes
cast seed sparkles in the sun
and the quiche is served

clean food, full bellies
nourishment just steps away
empower us now

And as the hours progressed…
painful gathering
testing endurance eyes glaze
faithful get restless

shut blinds prevent lust
for two hours of sunlight gone
now where is my book?

hard seats in the church
the congregation fights sleep
SPUDs are not tubers

Out of pocket

I am going on summer vacation! Luckily I know I’m leaving my garden in great hands. The cucumbers are still producing like mad, though they are getting yellow-tinted at an earlier stage. I’m guessing it’s a result of the onset of heat in the past few days.

The okra is looking promising. Though, I’ve never grown okra before so I’m not really sure what’s supposed to be happening right now.

One tomato plant looks very healthy and might start producing. I planted it late, so maybe it will hold off and I can get some fall tomatoes. The others are looking pretty ragged and barren since the cucumbers decided to use the tomato plants as a trellis. (I didn’t think the cucumbers needed a trellis since I planted “Bushy Cucumbers.” “Compact,” my ass.)

The oregano, thyme, and basil are all doing well.

I harvested and cured onions a few weeks ago.

So, that’s a garden update. When I return I’ll tell you the story of how I killed my mother—my vinegar mother. In the meantime, check out these videos:

Local-food pioneer, April Harrington, is going through major hell, also known as eminent domain. The local news summarized her plight. Call your elected officials! This situation not only concerns April, but her employees, farmers, and entrepreneurs that use her commercial kitchen. April buys bumper crops and “ugly produce” from farmers and preserves it by canning, freezing, and making ready-made meals. She also makes delicious crackers, granola, and pancake and cookie mixes from freshly milled Oklahoma wheat.

And now for some silliness: this gives a whole new meaning to “playing with your food.”

Laughable Labels

Is this the co-opting of “local” or just a really broad interpretation?


My recent encounter in Oklahoma City with this “locally grown” jar of roasted bell peppers from Napa Valley caused me to revisit this fantastic article from last May, which explores the angles and issues with the “local” label. Mezzetta, Frito Lay, and others are making a case for “local” in relation to their processing plant and are clearly leaving the eater out of the equation. What merit does this have? Is this an improvement upon former business practices or is it merely a new marketing strategy for their status quo? When the labels we trust become diluted from government certification or opportunistic marketing gurus, they become, at best, nothing more than a game of semantics and at worst, completely meaningless.

From the article:

…the widening view of what it means to eat locally is similar to the changes the term organic went through as it grew from a countercultural ideal in the 1960s and 1970s to an industry with nearly $25 billion in sales last year. A related debate about how to define sustainable farming is now gathering force in government, agriculture and business.

Some Reading

Does this mean real, clean food is mainstream?
Katie Couric

Monsanto mucks around with eggplant and the Indian environment minister says “no,” at least for now. The minister imposed a six-month moratorium on the launch bt brinjal, which would be the first GM vegetable. I was confused at first, but I guess technically corn and soy aren’t technically vegetables? Side note: isn’t aubergine a beautiful word?

Romantic photos of a farm in Florida.

A New York Times article explains how aquaponic systems use wastewater from tilapia to nourish lettuce plants. I know this is innovative and cool, but is it also sad? If you’re interested in learning more, Urban Harvest in OKC is offering an aquaponic workshop on March 27.

No brownies at NYC school bake sales, but spicy sweet chili Doritos are okay. Essentially, bake sales have been replaced with mass-produced crap sales.

3/20: The NYT follows up on the “crap sales.” Great quote:
Now, she said, “we’re supposed to believe that a packaged chocolate-chip cookie is preferable to a homemade one, not on the basis of taste, texture or the quality of the ingredients, but because it came from a factory and has a nutrition label.”

Food environment atlas: a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so. Awesome!

Some Reading

Here are some food-related articles I’ve recently read. Are there some good ones I’ve missed?

It takes a community to sustain a small farm
“I used to think there were four distinct pieces to a local food system: production, processing, distribution, and retail. Now I realize there is a fifth: community. Without an involved community of customers who believe in what the local farmer, miller, distributor, and grocer is doing, none of them will last very long.”

It’s getting tougher to bring home the bacon
“The government is concerned that bacteria from a smuggled piece of meat will spread through the ecosystem, infecting livestock and hurting agricultural production…”

Why you should go see Fantastic Mr. Fox
I had no idea.

Cultivating Failure
A ferocious critique of edible schoolyards.
“It’s the state’s Department of Education that is to blame for allowing these gardens to hijack the curricula of so many schools. But although garden-based curricula are advanced as a means of redressing a wide spectrum of poverty’s ills, the animating spirit behind them is impossible to separate from the haute-bourgeois predilections of the Alice Waters fan club…”

And a delightful, smart, animated response to “Cultivating Failure.”

Slant and Sausage

Do you subscribe to Meatingplace headlines and blog updates? I can’t remember how I came across the site, but I continue to read and get pissed; read, get pissed. It’s my education on inserting bias and “fast, flexible, fully automated sausage production.”

The industry blogs are even more fun, where bloggers like Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton of Poultry Perspectives argue semantics: in her view factory farms and family-owned farms are mutually exclusive. And the mere existence of factory farms is questionable. Oh, and this gem: “Poultry farmers are farmers and by nature these people love the environment otherwise, they could have a career in an office doing much less physically exhausting work.” (from “The message we need to shout,” 9/1/09; I’d link to it, but articles and blogs require a sign-in.)

Yesterday’s Meatingplace headlines were peculiar in that two stories were inconveniently interwoven.

meating place

The referenced author is Jonathan Safran Foer, whose new book is titled Eating Animals. He has an erroneously titled opinion piece here. I guess an honest, thorough title wouldn’t be as provocative. Do you think Foer’s critique of animal agriculture will be taken seriously? Is there room for another voice in this discussion?