AT LAST ! ORGANIC FOOD
For millions of years, for as long as mammals and their
predecessors have lived on Earth, humans and our ancestors have always eaten organic food.
Our physical bodies evolved in the exact way that Earth's organic food encouraged us to :
the match between the cellular needs of our bodies and the nutrients which organically
grown plants and animals can provide is complete - 100%.
The movement away from organic food started in the 1860s,
when a man called Justus Leibig applied his new-fangled modern, scientific mind to the
question "I wonder what makes plants grow ?". To answer his question, he took
some soil and burnt it. In the ashes, he found potassium, potash and nitrogen.
"Miracles !" he thought. "I've found the secret to life !".
From that moment on, modern farming started to add
manufactured fertilizers to the soil to boost the productivity of plants. Today, the
production of chemical fertilizers worldwide - and the parallel production of pesticides -
is a huge, multi-billion dollar international business.
In the 1920s, however, a small group of people in England
inspired by the leadership of Lady Eve Balfour formed the Soil Association, and started to
spread the idea that food was better grown organically, without chemicals. Today, the
organic revolution is beginning to catch on all over the world. Denmark has committed
itself to 20% of its farming being organic by the year 2000, and the Gallo Wine company is
the largest organic farm in California.
Throughout these years, however, there has never been any
hard and fast proof that organic food is actually any better for you. Instinct might tell
you that it is, and the knowledge that you're not eating all those chemicals sure feels
good, but where was the proof ?
Finally, the answers have arrived. In 1993, a trace
minerals laboratory analyst in Chicago called Bob L. Smith started a small experiment. For
two years, he went to stores in Chicago, and purchased between four to fifteen samples of
both organic and non-organic produce. He would then take the foods back to his laboratory,
and analyze the different foods for trace elements, to see what was there, and what was
The results are stunning, and should be a wake-up call to
the whole world. The organically grown wheat had twice the calcium, four times more
magnesium, five times more manganese and thirteen times more selenium to the non-organic
The organically grown corn had twenty times more calcium
and manganese, and two to five times more copper, magnesium, molybdenum, selenium and
zinc. The organically grown potatoes had two or more times the boron, selenium, silicon,
strontium and sulfur, and sixty percent more zinc.
The organically grown pears had two to nearly three times
more chromium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, silicon and zinc.
Overall, organically grown food exceeded conventionally
grown crops significantly in twenty of the twenty two beneficial trace elements. They also
had less amounts of toxic trace elements such as aluminum, lead and mercury.
Trace elements are critically important not just for our
health, but also for the development of the brain. And in a recent paper in the British
medical journal The Lancet, Danish researchers reported that organic farmers and men who
regular consumed organic food had twice the sperm count of men who did not consume organic
food. (Thanks to David Steinman's article in Common Ground for all this information).
The May/June issue or Organic Gardening also spells out
why pests love non-organic food, but avoid crops raised organically on good compost. It
describes two studies by Dr Larry Phelan which show that the European corn borer moths lay
18 times more eggs on sweet corn plants grown in chemically farmed soils than on organic
soils. When he carefully monitored the variables, he found that again, it was the mineral
ratios which were responsible. When the necessary minerals are available in the right
balance, plant roots will absorb exactly what they need for photosynthesis. Plants grown
in chemical soils often lack this mineral balance, and pests are not as attracted to the
complex starches and proteins in plants with a good mineral balance - they're like junk
food addicts, and prefer a diet rich in the simple sugars and amino acids that are present
when the mineral supply is out of balance. Organic farmers have sensed this for years -
but this is the first time there has been solid scientific evidence.
- Guy Dauncey
Here in Victoria, you can buy organic food at many stores,
at the Moss Street Market, through Susan Tychie's Share Organics (595-6742), Randy
Hooper's Costerton Farm on Salt Spring, (250) 537-5420), and Brent's Fresh Picks Organics
(383-7969). If someone is interested to help pull together an organic food supplement for
the next issue of EcoNews, could you please call ? 881-1304.
EcoNews is published as a monthly service to the Vancouver
Island environmental community, to nourish the powerful and beautiful vision of an Island
blessed by the harmony of nature and human community, funded by readers' donations.
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Many thanks for your kind donations : Colleen O'Brien,
Debra Barr, Rob & Lia Tocher, Marian Rowat, Jim Bohlen, Emile Lacroix, Peter
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If you'd like to receive EcoNews by mail call 881-1304. By
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SCIENTISTS MAKE STUNNING
BREAKTHROUGH WITH NEW TEST
Two scientists at the Great Lakes Institute for
Environmental Research at the University of Windsor have made a breakthrough in the
testing of toxic chemicals which may change the entire way in which our
chemically-impregnated society operates. Biologist Doug Haffner and biochemist Khosrow
Adele have developed a relatively inexpensive one-day test which can quantify the damage
which specific chemicals or combinations of chemicals do to human cells, and the DNA
within the cells. They have already provided the first irrefutable, quantifiable evidence
that chemicals extracted from burning cigarettes damage human DNA.
The test can be applied to chemical contaminants in the
water, air, soil and sediments, as well as to food additives and pharmaceuticals. Once the
test gets into common circulation, the door will be open for chemicals of every kind to be
tested, for legislation to ban the use of chemicals which are proven to damage human DNA -
a precursor of cancer - and for class action suits by those who have been exposed.
THE GARDEN PATH
Organic Heritage Plant Nursery
Open every Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm until May 25th
at the Greenhouse, 1834 Haultain St (between Richmond & Foul Bay)
Open pollinated organic vegetables, 20 varieties of
heirloom tomatoes, herbs, sweet peas, old garden roses, cottage garden flowers, all
organically grown. Carolyn Herriot 592-4472
APPALLING RIGHTS WITH NEW TREATY
Move over NAFTA - there's a far bigger bogey on the
horizon, looming its way towards us. called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment
In the past few weeks a story has broken which is as
alarming as the previous story is exciting. The Organization for Economic Cooperation
(OECD) is a research establishment which provides the world's richest nations with
information about economic trends. Yet unannounced, without debate or consultation and
unguided by national parliaments, it has since May 1995 been quietly negotiating a treaty
which will (in the words of George Monbiot of the UK Guardian) 'reduce our representatives
to filing clerks'.
In a nutshell, the MAI seeks to outlaw all restrictions
and controls that national governments might wish to impose on foreign investment.
"We are," boasts one of its leading negotiators, "writing the constitution
of a single global economy."
If Canada signs, investment, ownership, labour, consumer
and environmental protection will all be wrenched out of our hands. BC's minimum wage
legislation and prohibitions on the export of water or raw logs would all be forbidden, as
would any attempt to prevent foreign ownership of the media, or the labeling of organic
food or eco-certified timber. If a corporation finds a regulation objectionable, it will
be entitled to sue a government or local authority at an international tribunal - but
governments will have no reciprocal right to sue a corporation on the public's behalf.
As George Monbiot says "This is a charter for
multinationals. It accords them absolute rights without a shred of responsibility."
The OECD is already talking about membership in MAI being seen as a 'certificate of good
conduct', without which a nation could expect no substantial foreign investment. Once a
nation has signed up, it will face punitive sanctions if it refuses to surrender its
resources as foreign companies demand. The OECD had been pushing for completion by May
1997, but that deadline has been pushed back by a few months. Once complete, the MAI will
need to be ratified - in Canada by the new Canadian government, in the US either by
Congress or the Senate.
It is astonishing (but maybe not surprising) that no major
media outlet has covered the story. The federal election is our big opportunity. Ask every
candidate : will you support ratification of the MAI - yes or no ?
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT;
BUILDING AN ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY
EcoNews often runs stories about community-based economic
development (CED), because it provides an alternative to the prospect of a world dominated
by the multinational corporations. The Bent Nail, the co-operative started by street
people which recycles used building materials (870 Devonshire St Esquimalt) is just one
example of the wide range of initiatives which are possible. Community currencies,
community development loan funds, community controlled banking, projects such as
Victoria's Women Work! which helps single mothers start their own businesses - these are
all examples of what CED can do. In May and June, Victoria's CED Development Network is
running a series of 8 day-workshops called 'Making It Work ! Practical Skills for
Achieving Community Economic Development Success.' The Network has been meeting for two
years and is close to forming a Community Economic Development Corporation here in
Victoria, which will be able to help local initiatives get started. The workshop series is
intended to broaden our overall skill base, and build a stronger sense of sharing and
community among the many groups involved. Everyone is welcome ! For details see the Green
Diary, or call Maeve Liden at VIDEA, 385-2333.
Talking of CED, Elizabeth Woods was successfully
re-elected in the recent Pacific Coast Savings election, , but Bernie Jones failed to win
a seat this time round. Around 1,900 votes were cast, representing 2% of the total
membership of 90,000.
Also, the book 'Get A Life - How to Make a Good Buck and
Dance around the Dinosaurs' by Wayne Roberts and Susan Brandum is packed full of positive,
exciting CED possibilities. Call Andrew van Iterson at (250) 595-2311, who is distributing
the book here on the Island.
SUMMER IS HERE !
Well it feels like it, with the Moss St Market
re-opening and the flowers out everywhere. Planning ahead, there are some good
living/learning opportunities you might want to note. From July 28th - August 1st there's
a 5-day community education festival called the Community Development Institute happening
on the Sunshine Coast at Sechelt. There will be workshops on everything from strawbale
building to local governance, permaculture, community economic development, environmental
stewardship and affordable housing, with lots of shared camping and singing etc inbetween.
For details, call Zarina Mulla at SPARC of BC, (250) 736-5576.
Then from June 22nd right till August 3rd, the Global
Living Project is holding a residential summer institute at a newly formed intentional
community just north of Nelson, in the Slocan Valley. The time will be divided between
bread labour, personal growth and community service, with workshops on everything from
bioregional exploration to Voluntary Simplicity. The cost is on a sliding scale from $700
- $2500. Details, Gabi Sittig, (250) 355-2585. firstname.lastname@example.org
Closer to home, there's the Summer Solstice Circle Dance
(see below), and much further afield, you can join a Permaculture Foundation or EcoVillage
Training Course at a Green Kibbutz in Israel. Details from the US office, Scott Hertzberg,
3915 Windom Rd NW, Washington DC 20016, (202) 686-5494.
SUMMER SOLSTICE CIRCLE DANCE
June 20th - 22nd
Come to Salt Spring Island's Camp Narnia on
beautiful Burgoyne Bay for a weekend of circle dancing with June Watts from England, live
music from Sarafield, and midsummer celebrations.
"The perfect way to cleanse your brain and refresh
your soul." (GD)
$175 (incl accommodation & veggie food). Registrations
with $75 deposit by May 15th. Chris Edwards, 1649 Warren Gardens, Victoria V8S 1S9 (250)
Victoria's Mayor Bob Cross and four of Victoria's sitting
councillors (Chris Coleman, Bea Holland, David McLean and Geoff Young) may have to resign
and face by-elections if a petition by the Green Party's Art Vanden Berg and Ken Rouleau
that 3rd party election funding from the conservative Victoria Voters Association (VVA) is
illegal sticks. The Association has refused to divulge the source of its money, and under
the Municipal Act 'the funneling of campaign contributions to disguise their source' is
banned. The hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court is on May 12th. This makes it interesting to
revisit last November's election results. The six conservative candidates financed by the
VVA polled 33% of the 76,288 votes cast (24,991 votes), and won four seats. 17 candidates
represented various progressive social and environmental positions, divided into the
Greens, Voters for a Livable Community and the NDP's Victoria Civic Electors, plus Gene
Miller and Syd Haskell. The 17 polled 48% of the overall vote, but won just two seats (Pam
Madoff and Bob Friedland). With so many progressive candidates, the vote was hopelessly
split and we ended up with a conservative business-dominated council which is scrapping
almost all of the public advisory committees, and where - unbelievably - councillors even
vote to decide if a member of the public will be allowed to speak to council. Next time
(which might be soon if Art and Ken's petition is successful), we should maybe organize a
big public meeting of Victoria's many social, environmental and community groups, invite
all the progressive candidates, and then make a joint decision who we will campaign for,
hoping the others will have the grace to stand down.
WHAT'S IN THE GREEN PARTY
The Green Party
has elected Victoria's Dr. Joan Russow as
its party leader; she's running in the Victoria riding. Bob Moore Stewart is running in
Esquimalt/Juan de Fuca, and Julia Lerner
in Saanich and the Gulf Islands. The Party's platform includes :
- Reduce the military budget by 50%, releasing $5 billion a
year for health, education and social programs.
- Ensure that Canadian corporations pay their fair share of
- Legislate the option of repaying student loans through
- Move away from the overconsumptive model of development and
reject the notion that economic growth will solve the urgency of the global/local
- Move away from car-dependency, and adopt a green transport
hierarchy in all decision-making, supporting the development of EcoCities.
- Legislate the right to clean air, clean water and
uncontaminated food, and empower Canadians whose environmental rights have been violated
to take governments, corporations and individuals to court.
- Encourage community economic development, promoting local
sourcing of materials and revolving community loans.
- Bring in a 4-day, 32 hour week, sharing existing jobs with
- Reform the electoral system through proportional
representation, where a party receives seats proportional to its share of the vote.
- Negotiate a nuclear weapons abolition treaty before the
- Pass an Act Respecting the Rights of Species in Canada,
ensuring the protection of all Canadian animal and plant species in their natural
- Apologize to the First Nations for the Indian Act and the
residential schools, and move towards implementation of the Royal Commission Report on
OF THE MONTH : FREE PAUL WATSON
Tooker Gomberg writes :
Canada's best known environmental activist, Paul Watson,
has been locked up for the past four weeks, detained in a high security jail in the
Netherlands on trumped up charges. Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace, and founder of the
seal and whale protecting Sea Shepherd Society, was accused of sinking a whaling ship in
Norwegian harbours in 1992. He was tried in absentia, and now with an election looming in
Norway it looks like the government wants to bring him home as a trophy. So he was
arrested in the Netherlands at Norway's behest, and extradition papers are being prepared.
Little does it seem to matter that Paul was not even in Norway when the ship sank. Nor
that Norway has committed itself to returning to the commercial slaughter of whales
despite the International Whaling Commission's global ban on whaling.
Paul has received numerous death threats from Norwegians
who are anxious to resume hunting whales. Word has it that if he ends up in Norwegian jail
he may not get out alive. Anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko was murdered in South African
jails. Internationally renowned rubber tapper and rainforest protector Chico Mendes was
killed in the Amazon. And don't forget Karen Silkwood, the anti-nuclear activist who died
in a mysterious car crash.
Action : Write to Jean Chretien, Prime Minister, House
of Parliament, Ottawa K1A 0A6, demanding that Canada make the strongest of protests to
the Dutch and Norwegian governments, and requesting Paul's release. And tell your friends