farmer's market, food, gardening, God's word, non-gmo, Seed, Seed Saving

Seed Banks: Our Answer to the GMO Problem

Yes, GMO technology is a problem.  Of course, the technology itself is not the problem, but the intention and the application of the technology is indeed problematic.  The very practice of changing the nature of something God made so that it can do things God did not intend is asking for trouble.  On top of it, the sheer concept of then claiming that something new and patentable has been created is complete hubris.  God made seeds, and He gave us these seeds and the process of seed, time and harvest, He gave us rain and He installed us to cultivate.  It all belongs to Him, and He intended its use for what some call the commons, that is, all of humankind has an equal share of proprietorship over His gift to us.

The GMO peddlers have one main goal in mind: to take over the world food supply by styling themselves as the best managers of the seeds, and as a result, make more money than one could ever imagine.  They want to usurp control from the commons in the name of big money and power.  The problem is that their technology has failed to achieve the goals it intended and has caused much more harm than good to humanity.  It is time for humankind to secure its birthright for clean, nutritious food that was ours and available in abundance long before the rise of monoculture farming and agricultural chemicals and GMO technology.

This is what seed banks will accomplish.

Seed banks can exist in a number of different formats, and in all their incarnations they are extremely important.  They can be small, like a seed library housed in a local community center where seeds from around the local community’s backyard and urban gardens and are contributed, kept, cataloged and shared.  They can be enormous, like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault founded by conservationist Cary Fowler built in a mountainside in Norway as a huge vault storing duplicate samples of seeds from banks all over the world.  In both cases, deposits and withdrawals are free of charge, so seed remains the domain of the commons as it should be.

Some Seed Bank Terminology

Biodiversity – This concept, which I first learned about reading Who Really Feeds the World? by Vandana Shiva, refers to the beautiful bounty of different types of plants that exist in nature.  One of the consequences of modern agriculture is that we are systematically losing biodiversity.  The most vivid example is corn, or maize.  According to a chart by Rural Advancement International published by Upworthy in 2012 (they credit National Geographic as their source) only a little over 110 years ago there were

Corn Varieties, source: Mexicolore.co.uk
Source: Mexicolore.co.uk

more than 300 different varieties of corn.  Now, you go to the supermarket and get – corn.  One kind.  There are actually still between 6-12 still around, but we only ever get to see the one yellow sweet corn that comes in cans or on the cob, or the variety that is dried for us to pop and eat at the movies, or the one that’s ground to make cornmeal.  That’s three.  We have lost the biodiversity of corn.

 

A more promising example is tomatoes.  It seems like there are still a wide selection of tomatoes still abound.  Even in food deserts, you can get beefsteaks, Romas, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and, where there are large Mexican population, you might see tomatillos from time to time.  Then you go to the weekly greenmarket and oh what a delight!  You see oddly shaped heirloom tomatoes, some tiger stripped ones and yellow ones and purple ones too in a variety of sizes.  You can actually taste the flavors of different tomatoes – yes, indeed, they can be so delicious, much unlike the supermarket

Organic Heirloom Tomatoes in Staten Island, NY
Organic Heirloom Tomatoes at St. George Greenmarket, Staten Island, NY, USA

ones.  Thanks to farmer’s markets and the farmers that sell there, you get to see and experience biodiversity in certain crops.  The chart referenced above says that in 1903 we had more than 400 different varieties of tomato.  Indeed, even the many tomato varieties you think you’ve seen is only a drop in the bucket to what God created when He skillfully crafted Eden.

One of the most important functions of a seed bank is to attempt to preserve the biodiversity that remains by holding reserve stocks of true-to-type seeds of single varieties of plants.  The key is to strike a balance between sharing the inventory but never depleting it.

Genetic Preservation – This is my favorite eed banking term, because it is a direct answer to Genetic Engineering.  Like, Oh yeah?  You want to tinker with and change the genetic heritage God gave us?  Well we want to preserve genetic integrity how God gave it to us! Ya basic! This is a long term idea geared at preserving seeds so as to protect biodiversity.  The idea is that the generations to come can still enjoy the fullness of God’s bounty as much as and hopefully more so than we did in our lifetime.  There is even a hope that as we do this, we can encourage the return of some varieties we thought were lost – through seed banks, our investment can produce a priceless return!

There are more terms here  if you want to delve deeper.

So Start Saving Seeds ASAP Y’all!! 

I have had a heart for seed saving for a while, but I’ve done it on a very tiny scale and didn’t understand some important principles.  My questions were largely HOW and WHERE.  How do you save seeds?  I often dried seeds out on plates in my kitchen when

Tami, Semis de Tamarin
Tamarind Seed Sprout planted by my daughter earlier this year.

necessary and kept them in little labeled containers or baggies in my freezer.  I have moved a lot in the last few years, so I have lost most of those seeds in all the shifting.  Also, I thought the freezer was the option to stop mold and pests and sort of stop time in terms of the aging of the seeds.

I recently gave up on that, knowing there had to be a better way.   I dedicated some prayer time to the question, based on these scriptures:

Genesis 1:11

Genesis 8:22

Isaiah 55:10

2 Corinthians 9:10

Then I filed the issue away until the Lord started showing me answers.  Most recently I started reading materials from SeedSavers.org and I am learning a lot from them indeed.  Here is my plan to start a seed catalog right here at home that I will later open up and expand to my community here in Sangre Grande, Trinidad.

  1. The Need – In a community where economic pressure from a national recession is palpable, governmental encouragement for home gardening to reduce family food bills is an outcry for a simple, rational solution.  Many are not sure how to start and where to get seed from, or even how to pay for seed and seedlings.  Also, in the markets, we see  a lack of biodiversity.  In Sangre Grande’s town center there are smaller vegetable markets all around outside of a main market which is bustling with stalls and vendors and fresh produce, especially on Saturdays.  A walk through these markets shows you a very stark reality.  Every vendor’s produce is pretty much the same.  They all sell the same varieties of just about everything!  Most of them are not growers, and much of what is sold is imported – even bananas, which are grown locally, are also imported.  Humongous carrots are in cello bags from Costa Rica.  The onion and garlic are the saddest part of the story.  These are bulk imports from China grown in the most toxic conditions imaginable.  I have not eaten garlic in Trinidad for about 5 months since my organic supply I brought home in my suitcase from Whole Foods in NYC ran out.  I just won’t buy what is sold locally.  People need better produce, and whatever biodiversity still remains in this beautiful region needs to be protected now before it is lost.
  2. The Goals
    • To preserve the biodiversity of the region’s indigenous plant life as a first phase of preserving the plant biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago as a whole. 
    • To promote local and diverse varieties of food plants over imported and packaged foods.
    • To promote organic gardening at all levels through education about the ways chemical use threatens Trinidad’s soil, environmental and people’s health.
    • To preserve and promote the practice of natural bush medicine applications over patent and pharmaceutical medication.
    • To promote home gardening as a means of keeping family food costs low and improving the general eating habits and overall health of Trinidadians.  The Bank will be a free source of seed, seedlings, tubers and samples for all community members.
    • To provide a venue and foster opportunities to educate people of all ages about seeds, plants, food and bush medicine.  All programs free of charge.
    • To bring the community together around these common goals
  3. First Steps
    • Storage: In the SeedSavers.org document How to Organize a Community Seed Bank, I realized that I could start it right here at home.  This will also serve as a recycling opportunity, as I start keeping jars again like I used to.  The jars – glass ones, from eggless mayo mostly – will be the containers in which I keep the seed.  The guide says the seeds need to be kept in a cool, dark, dry place.  It so happens I have an old wardrobe I was about to get rid of in preparation for a new one I want to buy for my room.  It’s drawers will provide a dark, relatively cool place to store the seed jars, and this can move to a larger place when the catalog is ready to grow into a community library.  To keep the drawers dry, they suggest silica.  So the next shoes we buy, we will not discard the little packets, we will just toss them in the seed drawers!
    • Sourcing: I have already identified two potential sources to start my seed library.  One is a fruit grower who is a vendor with a stall in the Maxi Terminus.  He grows oranges, and earlier this year, he introduced me to a unique variety he calls Otnik. It has a more oval shape than the average oranges available around the region, is less pithy with more tender, sweeter flesh.  Also, he prides himself on keeping his orchards chemical-free.  And he doesn’t just grow oranges.  He has lots of other plants, including moringa, which is growing in popularity as a very important bush medicine.  He will be a wonderful source with an abundance of seeds and knowledge.
    • Main Information Resources: I have reached out to Sun Eaters Organics for some information.  The owner is on a mission to use more local ingredients, especially those that were here pre-Columbus, in her recipes and in many uses other than food.  Also, the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine maintains a National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago.  This appears to be the most reliable source of accurate information to correctly identify indigenous plants.  This is vital from the very beginning as the seed and bush library grows into a place where the community will be educated on these topics.  The responsibility is great.  We must come correct.

Once I develop a somewhat diverse catalog with labeling and record keeping systems on my own at home, I will seek a more central space and begin to invite more participants in the community.  As always, I have a much bigger vision for seed banking, but this is where it all starts.

Do you run or participate in a seed bank?  Do you save seeds?  Talk to me!

farmer's market, food, Healthy, non-gmo, nourishment, Public Assistance, shopping

An Edible Caste System: Change is Upon Us (Part 2)

Before I begin part 2, I want to ask you, my WordPress family, if you would please join the Really Nourish mailing list.  I would like to keep you up-to-date with the next endeavors in a more personal way, including my efforts to assist the Commonwealth of Dominica, where Hurricane Maria first made landfall, my upcoming book, and more.

Please click here to opt in.  Thank you, and I look forward to taking you along on this journey!


That Food Desert Life

Traveling long distances to have access to better nutrition is unfair.  It is what characterizes a food desert.  You are supposed to be able to access nutrition (not just “stuff you can eat”, but actual food with the nutritional value God put in it unadulterated by copious processing and chemical intervention) close to home.  That’s your birthright.  Even after Eden, no one had to really travel for days to get food on a regular basis.  You could grow it right there at your feet, outside your front and/or back tent flap, as it were.   So this Food Desert thing is a problem, and it plays out as a problem for the proletariat – working class folk who, like I just indicated, do work indeed, but because of the crazy

Really Nourish Delicata Squash
This local, organic Delicata Squash was only 81 cents! Judah was very pleased 🙂

dynamics of the American economy, still need help feeding their family.  We are not supposed to have this problem at all!  Even the money you have to put in the gas tank or spend on public transportation to travel to a more affluent area to shop in a better supermarket makes a difference in such households.  On top of the cost of transportation that you can count is the cost of the time it takes to make this journey.  That is a more difficult cost to count for some.  For me, it was somewhere between $105-$140, because I was blessed to be working from home and I made $35/hour, it took me at least an hour each way to travel plus time to search diligently for the sales and selecting in season, organic produce so I could get the most nutrition for the dollars I had available.  And the only dollars I had available were on that little white card.

Now, what if you could use your SNAP card to get your groceries online, free delivery?  This thought crossed my mind numerous times.  I even called Fresh Direct once to ask, and they said regrettably, no, we cannot take that form of payment.  Yet. In 2014.

It’s a New Day

I did say change is upon us, right?   In an era when our president is the least sympathetic to those of us who have to be careful with every dollar and are affected by small changes in income and benefit amounts, what change?

This time last year, in September 2016, a quiet but hugely significant victory was fresh.  The push to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefit card to order food online was a success, championed by Gunnar Lovelace, founder of online non-gmo and organic wholesale club Thrive Market, and backed by more than 310,000 signers on a petition, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) and a handful of celebrities, fellow retailers and non-profit organizations.

The USDA launched the pilot program this year in several states with Amazon, Fresh Direct, Hy-Vee, Safeway and a selection of other grocers.  I’m not sure how much they are publicizing it but if you live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Iowa and have not heard anything, you should go find out immediately how you can take advantage of this breakthrough opportunity to be released from the bonds of food desert life.  Conspicuously, Thrive Market was not included in the pilot program, but a small crack in the dam has happened, and the hood gon’ eat like Park Avenue now.

Benefits with Benefits

Farmer's Market Carrots
We got these with Health Bucks at the St. George Greenmarket in Staten Island, NY

Past SNAP advances that have actually attempted to focus on nutrition include Health Bucks and farmers markets and allowing the purchase of seedlings for food plants with your benefit card.  These kinds of changes, coupled with more awareness among the general population about the links between food and health, will make a greater impact on the healthcare crisis we have on our hands than any other technology, new medications, or medical procedures.

With success in the pilot, more states and more retail options will continue to open up, and Thrive will take its rightful place among the available options for SNAP benefit recipients.  Coupled with their commitment to giving a free membership to a low income family for every paid membership, they will be a part of leveling the playing field of nutrition access, and the edible caste system will be chopped and screwed.

Click Here to read Gunnar Lovelace’s blog post from September 2016 about this triumph

Click Here for an update in The Daily Caller on the launch of the pilot program

Click Here if you still aren’t thriving and you’re ready to start.  You get a 30 day free trial, 25% off your first and free shipping!

Here’s my personal story about SNAP, food desert life, and Thrive Market. Please share yours in the comments.

Children, eating, farmer's market, food, Fruit, God's word, Healthy, Herbs, natural, no pesticides, non-gmo, nourishment, Organic, Produce

Summer Gardening in the City

For the last two summers,

we have been using any available space we have in our 12th floor apartment in Staten Island, NY to grow our own food.  Now is the time, April in the northern hemisphere, to get your garden ready for the season!

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

Some of my fondest childhood memories growing up in Brooklyn were of our summer gardens.  I remember how my mom and dad used to go to the garden shop on Foster Avenue in April to get the little baby plants and lovingly plant them in our backyard, our mini Eden.  Even on those tiny plots of land (the small plot behind our home on Hubbard

IMG_0850
Summer memories!

Place, and the even smaller spot of backyard when we moved to our one family house on East 43rd) mom and dad grew enough food for us to have lots of fresh salads and homegrown veggies all summer long and into the fall some years, depending on how the cold weather started.

One summer, we grew so many tomatoes, my mom piled the surplus up in one of those big DuaneReade shopping bags and took them to work to share with her friends.  I have never departed from his spirit of growing my own food, putting my hands in dirt, and sharing some of what we produce at home.  It was important training indeed.  As soon as I had children flourishing under my care, my maternal spirit lead me to create the terrace garden.

This year, I’m excited to be moving to the Trinidadian countryside, where my father-in-law blessed my family with some land that we can build, live and cultivate on, but my heart is still with my fellow urban gardeners. As cities sprawled wider and wider over the last century or so, urbanites became more and more detached from the source of the very food that sustains them, so much so that many wouldn’t recognize the vine that a cucumber grows on.  Just think about that.  If you don’t know food or where it comes from, how can you take proper care of your body?

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Hippocrates of Kos

Also, if you have no idea how food grows and where it comes from, doesn’t that put you at a big disadvantage to whomever provides the food?  That is indeed the case.  What is even more cause for great concern is that we are learning that we can’t trust those who provide the food, specifically the corporations that are on the warpath to gain control of all the farms and all the minds and hearts of consumes nor the governments, whom we entrust with the task of ensuring that our food is safe to eat but instead put profit over people by allowing lobbying and campaign finance determine how they legislate the industry.

Here are some ways you can take back control of your food at home.  Combine these ideas with participation with the creation or the maintenance of gardens in your community and you can greatly increase your own control over your food and reduce your dependence on Big Food and, by default, Big Pharma.

EPSON MFP image
Summers in Brooklyn: My childhood urban backyard garden Circa 1990-sumpin.
  • Just get started
    1. Plant SOMETHING.  ANYTHING!  Watch it grow.  It will expand your consciousness.  Next year, you will want to plant more!
  • Any dirt patch is fair game
    1. Postage stamp-sized yard in the back and/or front of your house? Small sliver of dirt along the side? As long as there is soil, you can bring forth life and food!  Plant smaller plants like thyme and basil or bulbs like spring onion and garlic in these small spots.
  • Pots of many sizes and shapes, plus fences, railings and other resources
    1. Pots: It’s good to get a sense for how big the plant is going to be as you select pots.  Conversely, if you already have some pots, buy plants that would work well in the pot sizes you have and think about adding pots if you want to expand your repertoire.  I used my taller, deeper pots for bell pepper plants and tomato vines and my more shallow, rectangle shaped pots for herbs and leafy greens that didn’t need as much space for root growth.

      Urban Herbs
      Two varieties of Thyme and Greek Oregano in the NYC Summer Terrace Garden.
    2. Fences and Railings: For vine plants, plan those around the edges of your garden if possible so they can climb on existing structures.  Not only will it look great, but your plants will be happy as they reach for the sun and bear you good fruit all season long!
    3. Other Resources: Observe your plants as they grow.  One day last summer, my children and I went to the park to collect sticks.  We brought the sticks home and used them to stablize our tall, lanky tomato and pepper plants as they grew.  We stuck them into the soil next to the “trunks” of the plants, and loosely tied the plants to the sticks so when the wind blew them on our well exposed 12th floor terrace, they would remain standing.  They thanked us later with delicious produce.
    4. Soil: The term dirt cheap has real meaning, because bags of soil in the home good store are pretty cheap indeed!  The good news is that although organic soil is more expensive than stuff that is not labeled organic, it is still cheap so might as well go all the way with it!
  • Kitchen counter herbs
    1. You can keep some herbs on your kitchen counter.  Your kitchen light (yes the ceiling one) can substitute for the
      IMG_0932
      Genesis 1:29-30 Status! #SoDelicious #TheReallyNourishMovement

      sunlight if you don’t have a window in there – your potted thyme and oregano can still photosynthesize from that.  Just keep them watered and don’t be shy about pruning them often for use in your food.

  • Regenerate bulbs
    1. Ever notice that the bottoms of some of your veggies have little scraggly beards?  Like scallions (some call these spring onions or green onions ) for example. Some have had them chopped off, like celery, fennel and garlic. These are bulbs.  You can cut the tops off to eat, but don’t toss the bottoms!  Set them in some water and allow them to regenerate.  Then you can plant them out and keep repeating the process as many times as you like.  Here’s a link with a detailed list of these wonderfully nourishing gifts from God.  Now that’s what I call the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Seedling plants at farmers markets
    1. OK, this is my FAVORITE DETAIL: Check your local farmer’s markets right now img_3082because many of them will be selling seedlings.  But here’s the exciting part: You can buy them with your EBT card!  No excuse now, family!  The other great thing about buying these at the farmer’s market is that you can ask the farmers advice about how to plant.  Last summer, I even brought pics of my grown plants back for my local market guys to see.  Like “Look, the kids have grown so fast!”
  • Dwarf trees
    1. This is a great solution for city dwellers, one that you can eat from all year round.  Dwarf citrus trees can live in relatively large pots in your living room and bear delicious fruit that would cost you a small fortune in supermarkets with no chemicals necessary.  Choose a spot near a window that gets lots of sunlight – eastern facing works well, so the tree can get strong rising sun exposure all morning.
  • Savor and Share the experience! 
    1. The best part is harvest!  I enjoyed going onto my terrace to pick from my plants to enhance my meals with what I grew.  My children
      IMG_0931
      Ché is a happy garden princess!

      enjoyed picking with me.  We all learned together how to grow our own food, and when we had visitors, we were proud to show them what we were doing and give them a taste of the the bounty whenever we could.

 

 

Plants on sale at Whitehall Terminal Farmer’s Market

 

cooking, farmer's market, food, Healthy, non-gmo, Organic, Produce, recipe, seasonal, squash, vegan

Organic In Season – Best Price, Best Quality

One of the main parts of our mission at The Really Nourish Movement is that organic, non-GMO food should be available, accessible and affordable for every mouth.  We have a long way to go to accomplish that goal, but in the meantime, we can debunk the “organic is more expensive myth.” 

We all know that most of what we eat is seasonal, but with the technological advances

Courtesy: St George Farmer's Market
Courtesy: St George Farmer’s Market

spurred by the industrial revolution at the turn of the previous century, we have been able to access all kinds of food  all year round from all over the world.

That is a fact.  But the TRUTH is that the seasonal nature of cultivated food still exists.  Think about when something is on sale in the produce section.  If it’s on sale, the reason is usually because there is more of it available so they can charge less per unit or per pound, right?  But why does the quantity available change?

Answer: When food is in its God ordained season, it is abundant AND ALSO at its peak quality!

(Oh wow, that’s a WORD right there!!)

That’s true universally, even for chemically grown or greenhouse grown food.  As for their Really Nourish Whole Foods Local Organic Eggplantorganic counterparts, you may find that there are some times of year when certain items are

This local, organic Delicata Squash was only $.81! Judah was very pleased :)
This local, organic Delicata Squash was only $.81! Judah was very pleased 🙂

simply not available at all, but when they are in season, they are inexpensive and so delicious!

Judah and I went shopping yesterday and we found local, organic, in-season squash for only $.99 a pound!  We also bought some local, organic eggplant, which is still yummy but coming close to the end of its season for $2.99 a pound.

We are going to half the squash, scoop out the seeds, make a delicious mix with diced eggplant, red onion, garlic, sprouted brown rice and fresh herbs from our terrace garden and that is dinner for less than $2 a serving!

Do you still think organic is expensive?  Post your comments below.

farm, farmer's market, food, gardening, God's word, health, Herbs, non-gmo, nutrients, Organic, salad, trees, Twitter, Urban Gardening

Organic Farming: Labor of L♥️Ve


American Organic Farmer facts:

1. The average age of farmers now is 55, up from an average age of 39 in the 1940s

2. Most organic farms need to rely upon second jobs or other income to survive.

Clearly they are farming for the LOVE 💖🌱


3. The cost of organic certification is substantial, including fees and the need to often hire someone to keep the piles of records required to maintain certification.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” ‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭2:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Don’t worry farmers, God is on the case! 
See the whole article here.
#DontJustEat