A GMO Free Los Angeles Is Imperative

Proving once again that money trumps truth in the pages of LA Times, there is an editorial against the proposed new ordinance to prevent growing of GMO plants in the City of Los Angeles,  Afraid of losing their advertising revenue from purveyors of genetically engineered foods offered to the public without any labeling (which they also opposed, even though the majority of Angeleno's demonstratively support labeling and strive to avoid GMO foods), the LA Times comes down opposing reason yet again - and their arguments are so specious and unsupportable, it leads one to wonder why they even bothered to make an attempt.

Squash display at this year's
Heritage Expo in Santa Rosa  -
all non-GMO! 

Every single argument they represent as 'our side' are secondary or are not even really one of our talking points.  I'll postulate all their stipulations as accepted truth.  (They are not, by  the way, but all their points are trivial in the scheme of things.)  There is one overarching reason to ban these plants in the city of Los Angeles:
The state and Federal governments have failed us as gardeners and consumers of food by not requiring proper segregation of GMO crops from organic crops, allowing GMO pollen to cross with the crops of those gardeners who want nothing to do with any plant that has been genetically tinkered with.  And once contaminated with GMOs, there is no way to get it back out - that plant and all of its progeny are GMOed. 
Is this a problem?  YES!  Everyone knows, from looking at the family tree,  a child inherits traits from both the father and the mother.  Specifically, 50% of the genetic make up comes from 'dad' and 50% from 'mom.'  The same is true for plants.  Pollen is the plant equivalent of sperm and provides the male genetic contribution to the next generation. 

In plants that are wind pollinated (corn, alfalfa and beets), this pollen can be spread quite a long ways.  Monsanto, in its ever continuing lack of forthrightness and honesty, with their original application to the USDA, stated corn pollen could be viable up to five miles from the point of origin.  That wasn't true - in fact, it had not yet even been studied, so the five mile figure was, at best, a guess someone pulled out of the air.  In subsequent studies the actual figure seems to be 25 miles. NO ONE HAS DISTANCE FIGURES FOR BEET POLLEN - and beet pollen is more copious and significantly lighter than corn pollen.  Beet pollen will cross with chard and mangles as well as beets.  Mangles are not so popular today, but chard sure is!  How far will that pollen be viable?  

Gardeners, growing their own food at home or in community gardens, teachers with their school gardens, will tell you that one of their most important reasons for growing gardens is TO AVOID GMO PRODUCE.  If the seeds they save from their own gardens have become contaminated with genetically engineered pollen, then their efforts are for naught.  If LA continues to endorse the idea of LA Grown food, we must stop the cross of pollen because GMO growers will not grow their plants in greenhouses.

It is up to us - the citizens of LA - to join with other municipalities that have already declared themselves to be GMO free areas.  We want to protect our own crops from becoming genetically modified by the pollen of crops grown nearby.  Yes, it's true, right now GMO crops are not grown by gardeners - only in larger farming operations - however, we believe it's only a matter of time before Monsanto wishes to expand their presence in the homegrown vegetable garden.  

Let's own up, LA Times.  Monsanto is the largest SEED dealer in the US.  Monsanto is very present in our home gardens, selling their non-GMO hybrids already. Sooner or later, they will want to increase their sales of GMOs as those sales begin to tank with farmers. Whoever paid for your editorial knows the GMO gig is coming to endgame already in our farmers' fields where the environmental degradation is palpable, the promises of higher yields largely discredited and the cost to profit ratio is dooming GMO crops to dustbins while the 'feeding the world' slogans no longer ring in headlines. The obvious truth now becomes illumined:  GMOs exist only to sell the chemical products of the company behind them.

We are not fooled by your pandering to those wishing to keep the truth from our citizens. Better you keep quiet and not besmirch your journalistic integrity any further.  You shame yourself and your heritage by treating your reading public as no-nothing sheep.

That's why many LA citizens are concerned about GMOs and that's why some forward-thinking councilmembers have moved for the citizens of Los Angeles against the behemoths of monopoly over our food supply. You would do well to take note.

david


Class This Saturday!


Yup, looks like a dog day to me!

September brings the heat of Dog Days and Drought - September's Garden... With summer's dog days all hot and dry, we'll explore our options of dealing with drought and growing food. It's time to get our winter crops planted for a wonderful winter harvest on into 2015. We have some transplants to work with and maybe take a few home and, as always, your questions answered. Sometime truthfully. 

 $20 at the gate, dress to get dirty (in the garden sense)! 


Some of winter's stars, left to right,
Fava bean, lettuces, and a cabbage 

See you in the garden!

david


UCLA Extension Course This Fall

Modern Backyard Food Production: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Save
Teaching plant propagation, that is an apple scion
in my mouth, I did not take up smoking.

An elective in UCLA Extension's Gardening and Horticulture Certificated Program, this is one of my favorite courses to teach.  We discuss the production, packaging, and transportation of food as large contributors to our global carbon emissions. We look at the current phenomena blossoming throughout the Los Angeles Basin, food gardens springing up to produce local healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables and contributing energy and financial savings in difficult economic times. You can register through UCLA Extension's website.

With a throwback to the idea of 'Victory Gardens' in World War II, we use the history of growing food in the city in times of need as a template, and explore how homegrown food can reduce our food budgets while addressing these environmental concerns. Students are each given a small plot for growing food where they can experiment with new ideas and enjoy their harvest. 

Topics include, at minimum, fruit trees, vegetables, and berries that do well in our climate as well as often overlooked food-producing perennials and how to grow food in modern city lots where the "back 40" describes square feet and not acres.

One of my favorite courses to teach in the Gardening and Horticulture series, we meet on Sunday afternoons at The Learning Garden, starting October 5, through December 14. Students are allowed to return to the garden after the term is over to continue to harvest from their plants.  

Typically, because there are no sources of food or drink near us at the Learning Garden, I usually make some sort of snack from local sources and something in season to serve.  Coffee and hot tea are provided.  Students are asked to bring their own service ware to keep our class meetings waste free.

Hope you can join me.

david

Perfect Mesquite Cornbread

This last of the cornbread was consumed
right after the photo was shot.  Too good to leave behind!

It is not just the ingredients but the process that makes this such a good cornbread. Use another oil if you dare, but still heat the oil and the pan in the oven before adding to the dry ingredients. Use another pan if you dare, but the best results will be with cast iron. Take time to meticulously mix all your ingredients together if you absolutely must, but do not expect a fluffy, springy cornbread.

Lay your inner rebel aside and follow the damn recipe the way it's written.

¾ cup cornmeal
¾ cup flour (white or a combination of white and whole wheat with white predominating)
½ cup mesquite flour*
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 Tablespoons melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 scant Tablespoon sugar (you may use honey if you like)
1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350ºF, put the butter in your cast iron skillet and allow it to melt while the oven is heating and you are combining the dry ingredients. The hot skillet and melted butter are keys to the quality of the cornbread. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry mixture until just combined, add the hot melted butter first, the milk second and the egg last. Quickly blend the ingredients but do not overmix! Pour the mixed ingredients into the hot skillet and place in the oven. From the time the butter is added to the time it goes in the oven must be as brief as you can make it. Bake 20 to 25 minutes - the top should be browning and a knife inserted in the middle of the cornbread should come out clean.

I did not make this up whole. I got help from reading about mesquite and morphed all I learned into my Grandfather's cornbread recipe. The method I learned from him and over 40 some odd years have proved that any improvement to it is not an improvement. Cornbread is comfort food for me. I could make it with my eyes closed except for the hot skillet part.

*The mesquite flour in this case is native North American mesquite flour (Prosopis velutina)  came from The Mesquitery. Thank you, Jeau Allen, for this wonderfully smooth flour to add to my family recipe to nourish my heart and soul!  


david