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02 July, 2015

The Three Minute Shower

I started teaching a class called Greener Gardens for UCLA Extension's Gardening and Horticulture Certificate program over five years ago.  The gist of it has been to have gardens that were less extractive on the ecosystem (a perfect example of this was from an essay written by Own Dell) by choosing plants and practices that use fewer resources.  

A big part of the course is conservation of water - hopefully in a way that does not include creating heat sinks and gravel lawns, ala Turf Busters.  Most of that work is just plain awful, without any kind of design. They seem to be in the business of creating barren front yards that pull in and hold heat which will result in homeowners running their air conditioners more.  Actions like this are poorly thought-out and merely provide cover for those unwilling to actually learn about our environment and the quality of life we lead.  IF that quality of life is to be maintained, we will have to give it a lot more thought and accept compromises that actually work.

When there were only  a few million folks in the Golden State, it was much easier to wiggle by without paying attention.  Now that we are considerably more than the population in the 1930's, logistics demands that we all take notice of the amount of water supplied and how we will allocate it.  

The whole water issue is poorly handled at the state, county and city level.  We also are cursed with those communities that think just throwing money at the problem will make the problem go away. But, while we wait for government to do something intelligent like ban fracking and force Nestle to stop its destruction of our water resources (write your state assemblyperson and your state senator; boycott all things Nestle - and there are a lot of products and product lines owned by Nestle), we all need to do what we can.

These actions, even if small, engender a sense of connectedness and responsibility in those that do them towards our water and it's use.  When we first stated Greener Gardens course, I urged everyone to aim for five minute showers. As the drought has worsened and gone into its fourth year, we now speak of three minute showers.

If you decide to reduce your water footprint with your showers, start with a bucket in the shower to catch the water while it warms.  I removed my round water control handles in favor of handles that are shaped more like an exclamation point.  If I turn the hot water handle to the 'noon' position and the cold to a 5 o'clock position, in a few seconds I will have pretty close to a good showering temperature for me.  As I wait those few seconds, most of the water is caught in the bucket and will be used on my container plants.  

Because not all water is caught in my bucket, I start the timer right after I start the water.  


It is important to use shower heads
that save water too.

With the water with the handles in the right place, I hit the timer button and in a few seconds, I jump in.  Under the water, I shampoo my hair first, leaving the shampoo in, while I soap up my body, scrubbing my face last before I rinse.  Water off, reach out of the shower to the timer: two minutes and ten seconds! I admit, because I knew I was being timed, I worked a little more quickly than I would have normally - on the other hand, when I became aware of that behavior, I consciously slowed myself to make this measurement more valid. 

I don't believe that everyone can shower under three minutes.  Still it's a good goal and we should all work towards it.  If we make water-saving part and parcel in our lives, when we approach government officials and bureaucrats of the water companies, we will do so from the place of someone already participating in the solution.

david








22 June, 2015

Protest Music

Neil Young's most recent album, “The Monsanto Years” is getting a lot of press for the themes it presents – including some replies from the corporations Young has singled out to criticize, including Starbucks, Monsanto, Walmart and stony silence from Chevron. Starbucks, in it's post-liberal, coffee drinking way, ditched the whole thing by asking for a 'national solution' which is about as likely as USDA or FDA doing anything to actually protect the American people who pay part of their salary – augmented liberally by the companies they have sworn, off camera, to protect.



But Monsanto published a statement on the album that bears some scrutiny because it shows the pattern of their public debate on this and other subjects of interest to any one who eats food:

Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young,” the company said. “Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do—and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics.”

“... make agriculture more sustainable.” Speaking of myths...

No Myth Here, Move Right Along

Any propaganda machine uses the exact opposite of what is happening to bolster their argument, so it is no surprise that Monsanto uses the term, “more sustainable” in their response. One wonders how in the world they define “sustainable!” Certainly no where near the way I, or millions of others, would define it! The non—myth list:

Use of GE (genetically engineered aka GMO) crops results in:
Less diversity in our food supply inviting disaster and shortages
More pesticide use; more poison in our food supply
Less habitat for wild birds and butterflies, therefore less wildlife
More corporate control over farmers
More corporate control over our food supply
Lower nutrient content in the food we eat
Resting our entire food supply on a non-tested technology
Corruption on an unimaginable scale throughout all levels of our governments
Lawsuits for farmers that do not tow the GE line
Compromise of all alternative food production because GE crops cannot 'peacefully co-exist with GE crops because pollen is spread by natural processes over which the GE producers have no control and do nothing to mitigate the contamination
Distortion of our legal system to protect the usurpers of our national heritage of plant genetics and seed supplies.
Loss of markets for US agricultural products
Bankruptcies of farmers world wide, culminating in suicides by Indian farmers on a scale that is an international scandal.

On the positive side of the ledger, it has made several chemical companies a enough money to bribe politicians throughout the US and in many countries abroad.

Myths Exploded

In some 30 years of being in the market, not one of these corporations has released a product that has any benefit to a consumer – not more nutrition, taste, availability, cost or convenience. All of the GE seeds have only one benefit: to make money for Monsanto and other chemical companies like them that have turned our food world into a jungle of pesticides and destruction. And yet there are a few well-meaning citizens that support them, having bought the propaganda lie about needing GE food to
  • feed the world (we waste 40% of the food grown, we can already feed a population that is doubled)
  • overcome global warming (they are a part of the problem because their model depends on OIL in every facet of the GE mode of farming, from the increased pesticides and fertilizer and the conventional model of food production)
  • reduce the use of pesticides (we've seen an increase in pesticides – besides, if the PLANT itself IS the pesticide, meaning all of it including the pollen, you have remarkedly increased the pesticides – how many birds and non-target insects are destroyed by your so-called “reduced pesticides?)
  • increase of yield (the Rodale Institute's 30 year study smashes that myth by showing even conventional agriculture out produces GE crops under any circumstance – even the USDA reports that US crop production rose on improvements in conventional agriculture and had nothing to do with the introduction of GE crops in any way – and that's a USDA practically paid for by Monsanto etc themselves!)

Included in the Solution 


I am no fan of the modern farming process. It is going to become unhinged in the very near future and we will have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Our bet on technology is so huge while we have failed to hedge those bets. I am in strong concurrence with the FAO (Food an Agriculture Organization, an arm of the UN) that has repeatedly warned that our dependence on the BIG farm and big machines and new forms of technology are leading us towards a killing field. More than ever, we are selling out the only form of sustainable agriculture – most of which occurs in the third world. For all they lack, they may well have the key which we ourselves have thrown away. The solution is in technologies that don't make technology companies rich, ironically. The solutions HAVE to include:
  • rebuilding our soils and stopping erosion of that precious layer that is left
  • ceasing all uses of pesticides and fertilizers as we now know them
  • embracing nature into our farms and gardens
  • expectation of lower yields in current productive lands and moving into less desirable lands with smaller farms and dependence on human and animal power – less on fossil fuels
  • breeding of new plants that will grow without the chemical cocktail mix used today
  • improved distribution of the food that is grown
  • teach customers to value all produce not just the blemished free 'perfect' foods
  • more food growing nearer the consumer – deliveries by non-polluting, non-fossil fueled vehicles
  • more citizen control over the food we grow and eat – less corporate control

I would like a repeal of the plant patent laws, but I doubt that will ever happen. Why there is no religious outcry over patenting life, I cannot fathom. That has got to be a sin (probably with a capital 'S') in almost every major religion in the world, yet it is now the law of the land – a law we are hastily exporting world wide.

Rock on in the 'free' world, Neil Young! By the way, do you think Donald Trump has ANY idea about the lyrics of that song? That is an odd track to choose for a Republican candidate's campaign rally.  Really odd.


david 

15 June, 2015

Making Money Exporting Disaster



(Written on June 4th...)  As the G7 leaders prepare to meet in Bavaria this weekend, small-scale farmers from around the world call on them to abandon their disastrous plan for the corporate takeover of global agriculture and the extirpation of small-scale farmers everywhere - those who produce most of the world's food. True food security must be rooted in local control over land, seeds and water.  (http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2896088/g7_be_warned_your_new_alliance_threatens_to_destroy_smallscale_farmers.html)



On a regular basis, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations issues reports on the production of food. Over and over, decade after decade, their findings report that small farms (mostly the work of women), hour for hour, acre for acre, produce more food (and less waste) than the massive farms of the first world. And even with this repeated confirmation, the governments of the Northern Hemisphere, aka the G7, insist on exporting their failed food production to third world countries.

Exactly the opposite of abundance, the G7's initiative
imposes a death sentence on farming in Africa.

It's all of scheme and the G7 either are in cahoots with the corporations (and getting a healthy bank account out of it) or are just flat out stupid. In either case, they are going to be culpable in the famines of the future and perhaps the deaths of millions of folks. And these folks don't get to vote on any of this.

Yet, even though they be among the most impoverished people on the planet, they will pay the price for the arrogance of those who have plenty to eat. No famine will come to knock at the door of Monsanto and other participants in America's Big Ag, or the Big Ag of Europe and the rest of them. Trying to export our model – and make profit when we get to sell seeds, fertilizers and other necessities for farming American style, when such farming is the worst farming you can have. We will not starve not because our farming is so damn good but because we have fertile soils (that are quickly becoming marginalized).

If yield is your only consideration, we do good especially if you only produce two or three different kinds of crops. But that is such a small criteria. Farming American style destroys the soil and the only reason it is still around today is because of those incredible soils and the ability we've had to move water around – but that's coming to an end soon. It is only a matter of time before that incredible topsoil of Iowa and there bouts is washed down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to cover the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

And our use of poisons in our agriculture is truly appalling and will end badly for farmers and consumers alike. There is only so much poison, regardless of which poison the science du jour is selling, you can pour on food before you have destroyed the food. Our wonderfully full grocery stores are primarily illusion that can only deceive a person for so long. All built on corn and soybeans.

The truth is our way of eating and growing what we eat rests on a razor thin margin. And the disrespect shown to our agricultural roots and history is born of the same hubris of the G7 leaders casually condemning the lifestyles of millions of people to the dustbin of history when those poor people have the only PROVEN agricultural system on the planet. It's all backwards. If you're counting on the meals of the rest of your life from the current system, I hope your older than I am and not thinking about being around in twenty years or so. This 'thing' we live with that we call our food system is not robust and not capable of handling a one-two punch from nature – and, as we see by the headlines, nature has plenty of one-two punches to give.

The Great Valley in California is salting up and doesn't have enough water to continue its current production for much longer. The soils of the mid-West are in trouble as noted above. The amounts of pesticides we put on our crops (and their increasing toxicity) will have to come to an end sooner rather than later.  Petroleum, upon which the whole thing is built, is becoming prohibitively expensive.  And then there is Global Climate Change which makes growing ANYTHING a much dicier proposition, no matter what the Senator with a snowball says or what  you believe.  You don't have to believe in gravity, but you'll still only fall DOWN.

It doesn't take even a fool more than a precursory evaluation to realize that the Ethiopian Famine in the late 1900's was caused by this very kind of meddling in the first place. If we had left the Ethiopians alone to begin with and not insisted they plant our more 'modern' wheat and other grains that required more water, ditching their more drought resistant local varieties, the drought, though bad, would not have been the wretched experience it became

Now the G7 has the rest of Africa in its sights for the same exact kind of consolidating destruction that will profit the G7 and leave Africans at the mercy of so-called aid, which is nothing more than MORE of the meddling that precipitated the famine in the first place! We, the people of the G7, are accomplices in this disaster.

The only way to true plenitude is local control of local seeds, local soil and local water. This power grab from the G7 is all of that backwards. It's an outrage and a death sentence for too many people who do not get a vote about their fate.

We, social movements, grassroots organizations and civil society organizations engaged in the defense of food sovereignty and the right to food in Africa, met at the World Social Forum in Tunis in March 2015 to unite those opposing the G8 'New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition'.
Social movements and organizations from Africa shared their experiences and analysis about the impacts of the New Alliance in their countries and participants from all over the world agreed to support their struggles against this threat to food sovereignty and agro-ecology.
As such, we joined the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles and adopted its Declaration. This statement reflects our discussions and our demands to governments engaged in the New Alliance and expresses support for the call on the G7 Presidency made by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.
To endorse this statement, please write to Gino Brunswijck: nafsn@aefjn.be

david  

03 April, 2015

Drought And The Missing Truth

I drove in today listening to KPCC's Take Two. Not one of my favorite programs because I resent it for taking away the real news and giving me 'news light.'  That seems to be the way the American public wants things, while I really don't like all the feel-good stories as much as I would like what NPR used to do: tell me what's really happening in the world.

A bridge in Pasadena over water that used to be there.

Of course I realized some time ago the NPR I had gown to love was long gone when I heard commercials for Cargil GMOs. We had a good run NPR and I. But I AM listening, so it does mean something – the story I wanted the most was about California's drought and I listened intently.

I know a few things about water use, drought and saving water and I knew I was going to hear about the new mandatory 25% water savings. One of the highlights for me was one guest mentioning Cadillac Desert which I highly recommend for any one living in Los Angeles. The second chapter, called “The Red Queen,” probably the longest chapter in the book, is all about Los Angeles and our water. The Red Queen has to run faster and faster to stay in place.

But in this morning's discussion, like almost ALL the discussions about water in California and the drought on any station anywhere, drones on with replacing toilets, letting lawns die, even asking industry and businesses to conserve water. One guest, the same guest that mentioned Cadillac Desert, said one sentence. Something about agriculture uses 80% of the water. And that was it.

No one on the program said, “WHOA 80%?” 80% did not come up again in the rest of the segment.

Mind you, it's not just Take Two. Everyone is doing it. Everyone is saying low-flush toilets, let your lawn die and all these other mamby pamby things. You can buy a rain barrel to save maybe 5% of each rain that falls on your roof (gosh, f-i-v-e per cent....). Is it any wonder we are not prepared for a drought? Is it any wonder that most the bureaucrats are running around with their heads in a very dark place?

80% of the water usage is 'off the table?' If the 20% we are trying to get to save water save their water, no matter how much they conserve, THAT WILL ONLY MAKE A DENT in California's usage. Why are we NOT talking about the 80% that really CAN make a difference? And all the reporters and all the programs on the radio and, I assume, TV (I do not watch TV) are all on about how homeowners and apartment dwellers can save water.

STOP IT.  It's demeaning to think we can't see through the veil. 

Here's the deal: All the toilets flushing low and all the lawns that die and all the teeth brushed without the water running will not - I emphasize, WILL NOT -  change this picture enough to change this picture. It is far too peripheral. We should be talking about
  1. Million dollar corporations farming land with water that is sold to them below what it costs to produce – meaning that you and I pick up the tab for the difference.
  2. Million dollar farming corporations that buy this inexpensive water and sell it back to municipalities for a profit (that is buying low from us and selling high back to us!).
  3. Million dollar farming operations that grow alfalfa and rice and ship the products to China – California is THE largest exporter of alfalfa to China. These very thirsty crops drink lots of water which, like all irrigation water is sold below cost and we the taxpayer pick up the tab.
  4. Maybe it's not wise to plant a billion acres of almonds in California?
  5. Maybe we, the taxpayers, who have PAID for this water and continue to pay for this water, should have a say-so in what is done with this water? (On second thought, maybe not – I hate lawns in California...) I mean like, if farmers get the water at a discount, maybe we could have some input about when farmers water? When I teach about water conservation I am always accosted with anecdotal tales about water waste seen from I-5 as folks travel between LA and San Francisco – tales of throwing water high in the air at three in the afternoon – maybe we could specify drip irrigation and not Rainbirds if they are using our discounted water?
  6. Note: I am not talking about the revered family farmer on 160 acres or so. I am referring to billion dollar companies that came in and illegally stole water from a Federal government that did not give a rat's ass about how many acres they were watering (the initial reason for building the dams that supply our water was for small farmers not mega-corporations). I think we should go back to the small farmer.

The process needs to go back to the beginning. Water needs to be owned by the people as a whole. It is the property of US – society, if you will. And work forward from there – you cannot pump as much groundwater as you want because WE own it. You cannot grow alfalfa using our water. You cannot grow rice using our water. You cannot buy our water and sell our water for a profit. We will not subsidize millionaires growing crops and holding a monopoly on those crops.

None of this will happen. Our politicians, bought and sold on the free market will not face down the millionaires that bankroll their elections. Reporters, all doing soft news and ignoring real issues while plying pablum about the latest actress/actor scandal, or the wrong target of why things are bad or the football player who got his drunk self arrested – all of this is entertainment and has nothing to do with the facts we need to live in this world today.

It is too much to ask for real solutions. Rain barrels? Give me a break! We need to be putting that water back into ground water for storage for times like 2014, 2015. That water could be there for a very long time – when we have enough rain, that water should be diverted to our groundwater supplies. Probably this could be done all over California, but most certainly, where I live and teach, it MUST be done in Los Angeles. The water that flows through the LA River should be sequestered here in LA for droughts.  Have you heard a single politician suggest that kind of infrastructure?  

So we have a total lack of real leadership on this issue – and it's a pretty important issue as anyone who has gone without water for more than a day can tell you. We have no accountability of politicians because there are no real reporters holding their feet to the fire and we bumble along blaming the 20% for not changing their ways to meet the 25% reduction.

I met my 25% many years ago and so have many of my friends. But if it's just around the edges we are going to work on saving water California will fall into the ocean. We'll become dust and one solid  wind will blow us into the ocean.

Why are we not talking about this real life stuff?

david 


28 December, 2014

Enroll Now For Plant Propagation Class At The Learning Garden

With a scion in his mouth (he does not smoke)
David King prepares to show students
how to graft an apple tree.

Grafting is a science and an art.  Most courses will give you a practical introduction to grafting, but in this class you get into the art and history of grafting - learning how grafting has been used over the years in many ways to make plants do what humans want and need (without genetic engineering!).  

But it's not just grafting!  So many ways we have made more plants, some times by multiplication and sometimes by division.  Seed sowing, seed saving and plant breeding are discussed and illustrated.  Hands on exercises every week ensure you know the material and help students get the concepts into their fingers.  

These procedures cover all the historical methodologies by which humankind has made more plants.  This library of techniques came close to being lost in the last few decades but now are appreciated as the valuable and practical skills they are.

You can learn these skills from a lot of different people, but learning from David King is a treat with his down to earth connection to the subjects and his humor keeping you alert for the next line.  Class is held at the Learning Garden 1:30 to 4:30 on Sundays starting January 11th.  Register with UCLA Extension.  Class size is limited so please register as soon as  you can!



New 'old stock' German grafting knife
that is a favorite.
david

11 December, 2014

Democracy At Work

Old varieties of corn seeds in author's collection;
an unwanted pollen cross 
with GMO corn
could make them the property of a
corporation that created the GMO.

Listening to a tape of the proceedings of Arts, Parks, Health, Aging And River Committee it seems surrealistic hearing the questions at the beginning of the discussion around Los Angeles City Council File number 13-1374. There is such cordiality and the reading of the parts of the proposed ordinance makes a listener happy to live in a country where a group of concerned citizens can petition city hall and make a difference. The questions are about implementation and other practicalities.

The movement for this bill started in October 2012 when Vandana Shiva met with a few activists in a Santa Monica home. She asked what would be next in LA whether or not Proposition 37, the labeling of GMOs initiative, succeeded. I said, “I'd like to see LA become a GMO Free Zone.” Which led us to finally led us to this committee meeting some two years later. Prop 37 passed in LA County, but did not pass statewide. With that as our mandate, a group of “seed people” set out to propose and work for a law that would make LA a GMO Free Zone.

We had no political savvy and no political background – however, we knew how our government was supposed to work. We knew that Congress was not going to do anything constructive about GMOs and the legislature in Sacramento seemed to run a parallel course. We believed that our local city council would take action and support us in the face of the inaction of Congress and the Legislature.  

But we most certainly knew then, what many know to be the truth today:

  • GMOs are at best questionable in their effects on bodies that consume them
  • GMOs are bad for the environment
  • and GMOs have failed to deliver on any of their promises

We knew GMOs, contrary to the claims of the likes of Monsanto had not been properly tested and we knew as well, their pollen can cross with our plants making the plants we grow in our gardens GMOs too. Wanting to avoid GMOs in our diets, we wanted to keep them out of the plants we were growing to avoid GMOs and their associated pesticides.

This law would “ban the propagation, cultivation, raising, growth and sale of genetically modified foods.” To us, this is what “GMO Free Zone” in Los Angeles would look like. We felt we had a very small window to get this accomplished because of a new state law, AB 2470 which seemed to our reading to preclude the city from making any laws that would apply to seeds.

We moved quickly to get a bill to the City Attorney's office and they crafted an excellent ordinance based on previous laws enacted in other municipalities that had already stood the test of time and gave us a track record as to how much enforcement would cost and how easily it could be implemented.

The proposed ordinance came back to this committee on Monday December 8th. About 30 of us in the room were there to see this bill move through the committee and on to the council floor the next day. But lobbyists, a couple of 'experts' spread lies, ignoring the ongoing experience of other municipalities that have successfully enacted similar laws and gave the city council members the cover they needed.

The first onslaught, our law was attacked because there are no GMO crops growing in Los Angeles, ignoring the fact that once they have bred with crops that are GMO free, the latter becomes GMO irreversibly. There is no way to get it out once it's in, obviously the only way to do any good with this is to keep it out in the first place. Yes, we do want it crafted and in place before there is a problem. You don't say a flood is coming – lets stack sand-bags after we are flooded – some things don't work that way. Calling this a “feel good ordinances that lacks substance” ignores the precedent established in more rural counties where it has stood the test of time and ignores the fact that we will have to deal with this pollen problem sooner or later and sooner is much better. We are losing the plants we use for food at an alarming rate and the proliferation of genetically engineered plants accelerates the rapidity of that loss.

The “suits” were called. One of their so-called experts, George David Kieffer, read from his letter (1) to the committee, adding comments amounting to about 5 minutes of time. Calling the ordinance anti-scientific, he tried, like all the Monsanto shills to characterize GMOs as being the most studied, safest technology to come to American shelves for year. His intent was to have all us characterized as Luddites and religious kooks. Typically, the big ag chemical companies, Monsanto being the biggest, prefer to attack the messenger and not the message – so of course, we have to characterized as extremists and non-conformists.

We know, the opposite of what he said is true. From scientists in the European Union, 297 as of December 10th and growing, banded together to bury this false-hood we can read:

There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs: Regarding the safety of GM crops and foods for human and animal health, a comprehensive review of animal feeding studies of GM crops found “An equilibrium in the number [of] research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns”. (2)

I could go on pulling items from the letter and the conversation in that room and pointing out the fallacies, but here's what really happened: three council members took testimony from two lobbyists over the input from 30 citizens. The two suits probably made more in that two hour meeting than all of us supporters put together. Paid to broadcast lies and half-truths; ignoring the successes that we cited in our literature (did the council members even read our materials?) and painting everyone in the room (including the council members themselves as “not educated enough to make decisions about genetic engineering”) they prevented a discussion of substance that might have happened if we had really looked at what has actually happened. We were not paid for our time off from work, travel expenses or any other thing we did in support of this measure. We have no hope of a bonus for our work or for our testimony. We do so at our own expense. We do so to improve OUR community as we see fit. Paid attorney's who may or may not live in our community, might have voted for the council people, were accorded more deference. It was not government 'by the people' but by attorneys.

Every council member in the room voiced concern about GMOs.  But, three of four sought to table it.  They are "concerned" about GMOs in an abstract way; like being concerned that something might happen sometime in a distant future.

Gardeners and mothers with children are not “concerned.”  They feel assaulted by corporations and governments that are bought and paid for by corporations. We saw that in the committee meeting that their fears are justified. The official story from the politicians is "yeah, but..." As if, we'll get around to it when you bring in your own lobbyist.

They admitted they could do it now and if it needed changing they could change it.  In fact, that happens with a LOT of laws.  But in this case, they used the
precautionary principle backwards, becoming cautious when action is called for and allowing genetically engineering to move forward unabated when that would be the appropriate time to be precautionary!

As the discussion continued, we spotted one of the lawyers in the back of the room giving hand signals to at least one council person, we could not tell which one, relaying instructions about what was expected. Clearly the lawyer was definite that this ordinance was not going to go to the full council no matter what else happened. It did not.

The suits got what they came for. The committee referred the ordinance for further study. They killed it. There was no more time for the ordinance to move forward in light of the impending implementation of AB 2470.

One of the council members moved to exit the room walking through those of us in the committee room – the ones that had just testified for the motion. He was asked how he could do this? Why were the suits afforded more importance than the people? He took three strides toward the door. Suddenly, he spun around, threw out his chest, flung a finger out at me, even though I was not involved in this exchange, shouted at me, “This is your government process,” I replied something to the effect that it was not how I understood democracy. Fairly screaming at me, he repeated “This is how democracy works, this is your government – this is how we do things - and you gotta like it. This is how it works!”

There's our civic lesson for the day, children. This is how government works. You gotta like it.

But we aren't going away.  

david

05 December, 2014

An Open Letter For A GMO Free LA

06 December 2014

Dear Friends and Fellow Gardeners,

On Tuesday, at 10:00 AM, the Los Angeles City Council will take a tremendous step forward into a new paradigm, a new way of seeing our food. They have put their legislative skills together in the past few years to create a nascent urban gardening movement that is gaining strength and threatens to be one of the most vibrant in the nation – as well it should be, with our wonderful soils and our spacious layout that allows for urban farms and urban gardens. As a gardener and a gardening instructor and author, I've seen them secure a future for me with their supportive actions.

But on Tuesday, they will vote on the one measure that will underpin these gardens and give entrepreneurs the assurance they will need to make this city practically self supporting in many of our vegetable needs: They will vote to make Los Angeles a GMO Free Zone!

We have seen state legislatures and Congress, sidestep even the meager act of labeling genetically engineered foods because they have become beholding to the likes of the big agriculture. So it has come down to the cities and counties to make their statements. Los Angeles will be the biggest statement of all!

We have not won yet. I ask all of you to come to City Hall on Tuesday morning in your gardening grubbies and when the motion is introduced be there to support it. I know so many of you have been wondering what to get me for Christmas and this is the one thing I want. We have a solid, practical law that the promoters of a GMO Free LA have had the chance to help write. It is a good law - it is enforceable, it is fair and it has legal precedent. It is worth our support.

City Hall is located between Main and Spring Street and between Temple and First Streets. It is accessible by the Red and Purple Lines (Civic Center Stop) – I get to the subway via the Expo Light Rail Line – starting in CulveCity at Venice and Robertson Blvds. The entrance is on Main Street and the City Council Chambers are on the 3rd Floor.

We have no money to influence votes – certainly not nearly as much as the bio-tech companies and the Grocery Manufacturers' Association. All we have is you and your conviction that we need to save our seeds and promote clean, healthy food that is not sprayed with chemicals that harm us, the animals we depend on for food and the environment. Spend a few hours in our City Council Chamber and rise when it's time to support a GMO Free LA!!

I would be most grateful,


david