Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Women's Land Army

Women have always been involved in agricultural production and food processing, but during World War I women were especially leaned upon to produce food in the absence of men that had gone oversees. Women were solicited to apply to farm and grow the country food - it wasn't just Rosie the Riveter out there. Women were filling all sorts of positions, even before we had the right to vote. Imagine that.

How I wish I could have witnessed those days, when women were put into the workforce, taught various jobs and skills and asked if they would grow food for our country. Well, I just learned that there's an entire book about it, written by Elaine Weiss called "Fruits of Victory," that is turning into a full-blown, three-day event in Chicago this October 5 - 7. No doubt that this blog was written after receiving an email about event and the "The Women's Land Army" from one of the organizers. She writes of the event and author Elaine Weiss:

Weiss’ three day swing through Greater Chicagoland is designed not only to educate advocates of sustainable agriculture about landmark contributions by Progressive era women to insure food security in WWI, but also to hear about the future of American food production as laid out in the "Go to 2040 Plan" of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency (CMAP) and to learn what could be incorporated into the 2012 Federal Farm Bill if women demand changes in the way American food is produced.

If I were in the Midwest, I know where I would be October 5 - 7. Check it out! The website is great as is the info about the author. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Corn Sugar: Some quick facts and a few links

After years of experimentation corn, soft drink and junk food industry are finally getting their just deserved criticisms as they are a contemporary tobacco fight. Didn't the tobacco industry used to tell us that smoking was fine? Same thing here. The an industry akin to tobacco that is indeed, the next tobacco. Love this rebuttal video by the King Corn guys. The battle is on. While the words are flying, and Michelle Obama marches against obesity, here are some fun facts about the various sugars out there.

Beet Sugar
As 30% of the world's sugar resource, sugar beets have been cultivated for years for the extraction of their sugary sucrose. This plant was genetically modified to create Roundup Ready Sugar Beets but apparently the permit was repealed in 2009.

One of the healthiest, natural sugars, honey means that there are bees. Something which we are all lacking these days. In all parts of the country and world. This isn't a medical evaluation of the sugar. If you are interested in that, there are some great readers out there about honey, propolis and royal jelly that you should definitely read up on!

High Fructose Corn Syrup
No, you can't call it corn sugar. HFCS is a highly processed no-longer-natural sugar that Princeton has recently revoked the rights to. At least, that's why the industry promoting the syrup has just created an insidious ad campaign to fight people's adversity to their products. Their main line - no one knows what's wrong with it. Seriously? Where is the American Diabetes Association?

Molasses (high in iron), maple syrup and cane sugar are other alternatives to HFCS. But just because there's a "No HFCS" label on the front of a product's package, don't be fooled. Flip it over and you just might find "corn syrup." Ideally, the food system is getting rebalanced and the next Farm Bill 2010 (aka our taxes) will start to reflect our interest in eating healthfully. Right now the subsidies are skewing what food is most easily accessible. Check out this more journalistic approach about HFCS by Tom Laskawy on Grist:

If you would like more information about natural sweeteners, you've got to check out page 536 of Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions," book and what she has to say about all of sugars variations. It's going to get ugly out there folks, and I hope the American Diabetes Association gets the funding, to voice their concern. At least, I hope that's why we haven't heard from them yet. I wonder who's on their board of directors...