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The Urban Pantry

The very essence of how the natural world is so intertwined, shows up now in the ever increasing frequency of catastrophic events.

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The purpose of this feature is to provide an overview using a non linear frame of reference to connect major centers of belief about political sovereignty, modern day petrochemical based agriculture, ‘nutrient collapse’, CO2 rise, and their relevant economic behavior impacting ongoing global ecosystem insufficiencies and how alternative views will lead to novel solutions.


By  Barry Grant Dossenko

Arnold Toynbee, a renowned, British historian, made a famous statement “Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” My paraphrase. In his Address to the 1931 Copenhagen conference as published in International Affairs : Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs he said:

The local national state, invested with the attributes of sovereignty — is an abomination of desolation standing in the place where it ought not. It has stood in that place now — demanding and receiving human sacrifices from its poor deluded votaries — for four or five centuries. He continues……

“Our political task in our generation is to cast the abomination out, to cleanse the temple and to restore the worship of the divinity to whom the temple rightfully belongs. In plain terms, we have to re-transfer the prestige and the prerogatives of sovereignty from the fifty or sixty fragments of contemporary society to the whole of contemporary society — from the local national states by which sovereignty has been usurped, with disastrous consequences, for half a millennium, to some institution embodying our society as a whole” (1) Embedded within this arbitrary seizure of “sovereignty” backed by force Majeure we are seeing the existential crises unfold before our very own eyes. Despots have always relied on this false sense of security and racial orientated beliefs.

Benjamin Ross in his ground breaking book (2) concisely states the nature of the Urban Dream. His book “Dead End “ traces how the ideal of a safe, green, orderly retreat where hardworking members of the middle class could raise their children away from the city mutated into the McMansion and strip mall-ridden suburbs of today. A number of years ago the founders of AOL gave a Ted Talk in which they predicted and discussed the demise of the retail infrastructure we are seeing now especially in the United States. Some will certainly lay blame to Covid Pandemic factors, but Sears and Kmart , disappeared from systemic mismanagement. Can we not connect the destruction of rain forests and northern latitude sea ice with new pandemics yet to occur? Science says there will be many more.

Safely sequestered by natural evolution, thousands and millions of years ago, during different phases of ecological bio battles in nature, evolving into ideal planetary homeostasis, which allowed humanity to flourish, are now being released by our own life destroying political materialistic obsessions and choices. Recently published in Business Insider an article discusses the issues of deforestation and human animal interaction in transferring viral vectors to human populations. Concluding with “The best way to prevent more diseases from jumping from animals to humans is to stop deforestation and wildlife trading.” (3) (4)

Our early survival was called hunting and gathering. The gathering basically means picking foods from nature. Modern day gardening is still “picking food” from nature. The one stark difference is now we have over-run millions of acres of areable land. Deforestation, toxic farming, desertification, overgrazing and sprawling urbanism are all permanently removing productive land from the food and fiber distribution equation. Areable land as described by (Latin: arabilis, “able to be plowed”) is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops. … In Britain, arable land has traditionally been contrasted with pasturable. Today most of the land has gone to urban sprawl or golf courses. There is somewhere around 40 million acres of lawn in the lower 48, according to a 2005 NASA estimate derived from satellite imaging. “Turf grasses, occupying 1.9% of the surface of the continental United States, would be the single largest irrigated crop in the country,” that study concludes.

Conservatively, American lawns take up three times as much space as irrigated corn. You can use corn for fuel, human or animal food, and fiber. Lawn on the other hand is another one of those false “ego driven materialistic obsessions” that allows companies to convince us to surround our families and pets with toxic materials. In Switzerland they manicure their farms, the roadways, and ditches near the farms as a voluntary art of beautification without chemicals. Here we let weeds propagate on thousands of acres and then fight them, when birds, wind, and rain move these pests, onto our farm crops, public areas, and our lawns. We would rather accept ever increasing toxicity of poisons into our surrounding environment than find time for cooperative civic voluntarism to have an aesthetic environment. These are value choices by which we send market signals to boards of directors and to officials in government contradicting their responsibility they have sworn to uphold public safety and safe performance of these products. We don’t ask and they don’t tell. We just keep buying death.

During the time that the National Organic Standards board was investigating what constituted the “Organic Production Standards” for USDA it became apparent that over the counter pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and other compounds targeted to the turf and garden markets worldwide had not and would not undergo any scientific evaluation for human safety or environmental impact. In the agriculture world human safety labels were attached to the drums and five gallon cans that you, as a farmer, could buy from your local supply coop. (late 1950’s) As the controversy about D.D.T. and 2-4-D and the “drins” group of poisonous chemicals were uncovered and became of wide spread concern companies with global reach simply moved onto the next “thing” for agriculture.

This whole time, up to this day, these “generations” of compounds are going into our global environment. We are paying them handsomely at the retail level for turf and garden care, not at all tested or regulated in this marketplace, believing that this is the best value proposition we should respond to. No wonder many of the company’s executives and wealthy families who have benefited from our decisions, becoming complicit in harming ourselves and our ecosystems think regulation is unwarranted and unpopular. They have no regard or respect for us regular folks. Please someone tell me why are they selling us billions’ of dollars worth of poisons for our food system and our soils?

I spent most of my life on a family farm and have seen this whole process emerge from the nineteen fifties on. This reminds me of the famous “better living through chemistry” propaganda campaign and chem company salesmen, who claimed they could drink these poisons at farm meetings, without consequences, Eye witness reports stated they actually acting out this scenario in front of the state weed control boards helping seed competitional hysteria among neighbors. The more chemicals the more acreages and the more crops production.

Just like what is happening today with illicit and unscheduled designer drugs. Same game different chemistry! While we see ‘natural’ as regulated and prohibited and “synthetic” is endorsed as our best choice for well being. Think about hemp as a miracle weed farm crop. It can help in so many ways but we still think it’s a dangerous drug. So what if it’s a little on the THC side, that turns out to be a potent healing agent if used appropriately. Again for the guys making poison for a living, it’s just a matter of getting the latest “chemistry fix right”, a meme, which has aided the release of over 100,000 compounds produced by war and industry. In the case of hemp we have to throw that baby (as a new crop) out with the bathwater as hemp flower remains the evil twin of Marijuana. Cigarettes and alcohol are “real” drugs that kill people by the thousands and produce addictions and violence. So not so logical is it. Support decimalization and hemp medicine in your own back yard for your personal and family health.

Herbs, fruit trees, berries, container gardening, raised beds and such can get you started with as many home grown foods as you can these days. Home Gardening and organic agriculture are only part of our essential food security future. Join and help expand your local CSA. Get your city council to let you reclaim abandoned industrial parks with hemp playing a role of bioremediation. Set up a composting and carbon recycling center there and evolve these abandoned areas into green zones.

Please realize the dustbin of history is full of civilizations that failed in one common way. The political economic dynamic from this gradual destruction of their agriculture systems created increasing levels of dependence on warfare to make up for decreasing food and fiber for increasing levels of population. Higher population leads to more “patriots” that can be sacrificed to invade your neighbors for food, resources, riches, and victories which creates a false sense that everything is “all right at home.” This false message obscures the collapsing infrastructure and the capacity of the agricultural system is by then in rapid decline. America has been at war around the globe for more than 100 years and the outcomes since WWII have moved us closer and closer to this cyclic end game. This is a reasonable conclusion based upon the evidence as stated above. Here’s a real world example from my own life history and living through this time as a farmer and eco-protester. The story of Cargill Inc., a family owned billion dollar grain company, President Johnson and Asian Rice. Connect the dots – that’s our job to be informed citizens. With population and dislocation increasing without solutions food insecurity is sharply rising across the world.

Cargill Inc. – major American grain corporation supporting Lyndon’s Johnsons rise to the presidency. So Johnson’s job was to win in Vietnam so that Cargill could control the Mekong Delta for US interests in Asia. The Delta is a major source of Asian Rice. The war put us directly in conflict with Chinese interests. This was a devastating war to American youth, a war over food and global leverage. We couldn’t beat them there so we joined them, (Nixon’s trade mission) leading us to the worst trade deficit with any nation for Americas with losses of thousands of jobs and industries. Years of consequences we’re facing today in another war with the Chinese – Trump’s Trade war. American agricultural interests and financial well being are tied to millions worth of ag exports to China. The food war continues.

Moving on to how people are responding to food insecurity we have this report from our neighbor to the North. During this year’s pandemic the citizens of Canada had a particular response. From CTV News April 15, 2020 5:52PM EDT “TORONTO — Seed retailers across the country are overwhelmed with online orders as Canadians stuck at home begin looking at their backyards and balconies as sources of fresh vegetables.” Currently in the USA only 7 percent of cropland is under ‘certified’ organic production. In 2014, farms in the United States occupied a total area of approximately 913 million acres. By 2018, this amount decreased to 899 million acres. Contrast this with cropland. Reported Apr. 21, 2020 the total areas of cropland in the United States has not changed significantly over the last several years, with only a slight decrease from 257.4 million acres in 2012 to around 253.7 million acres in 2018. The largest decrease in area during that time period occurred between 2014 and 2015. My comment – We are not making any more in spite of progress with non chemical farming across the globe. (5) (6) (8)

The annual population growth rate of the United States over the past year continued a decades-long decline, dropping to its lowest level in the past century. According to newly released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew by 1,552,022 since 2018, an increase of one-half of one percent. Reported by Google Dec 31, 2019 currently reported to be 331,002,651 people. The current population of the United States of America is 331,319,877 as of Sunday, August 30, 2020, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. the United States 2020 population is estimated at 331,002,651 people at midyear according to UN data. (7) (8) (9) Modern ag distribution and delivery is in fact very wasteful as a resource delivery system and as wasted carbon resource.

In fact, according to a Guardian report released this week, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.” Wasted food is also the single biggest occupant in American landfills, …Jul 15, 2016 (10) (11) Composting technology for home use and neighborhoods needs to be able to deal with this and could revolutionize urban green space topography with natural soil building locally in using these convert freely available carbon rich materials.

Contrast this with our ongoing discovery of what science has termed “Nutrient collapse.” Remember every day all over the globe chemical agriculture is depleting our soil, so do you think supplements can replace what Mother Nature took millions of years to evolve, like the taste of an organic fresh picked strawberry from your back yard. No way, you know that really; see you can even imagine that this is a truth. (12) Why are we hauling food stuffs to centralized waste facilities? Compost and revitalize your new garden’s soil and your nutrient intake. Better than paying for a doctor’s script right. Here’s what nutrient collapse is doing to your family.

“Is it possible to starve yourself of nutrients while simultaneously gaining weight? It turns out the answer is yes. According to a growing body of research, rising carbon dioxide levels are making our food less nutritious, robbing key crops of vitamins essential to human development.” So current evidence is showing a link between obesity and “nutrient collapse”, the term and its implications, described recently in a Scientific American article quoted above. As plants are “sped up”, by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, we are moving towards a predictable worldwide human health impact. This means that by 2050 modern agricultural methods will not be able to provide vast amounts of food that support optimum immune functioning any longer. Remember to connect the dots here.

Nor will the, genetic (gmos) paradigm manipulation, of plants prove out to be of any use, unless we can accept that our current human construct is fundamentally flawed. Many in the elite believe that now it is time to ‘genetically modify’ ourselves to enter into a mutated relationship, by being re engineered, to live with an increasing mechanical / synthetic /bionic body / mind so poisons and pollutants will be “coped” with. Perhaps, like the 60’s generation, about ecology, the deep spiritual fear the “extinction“ movement generation has awakened within their consciousness an awareness to this agenda, and believe that all this must stop now before this place becomes our own “Dune” like planet. (13)

The ‘butterfly wings” of our connected living system has been subjected to three or so centuries of intense ‘reductionist” rationalization as a fundamental way of doing reality. An entire collection of behaviors, thought to be isolated without implication, where the consequences of manipulation a “fractal” part of some whole is acceptable management of resources and people is failing. These arbitrarily separated actions, without fully understanding the unintended consequences on the whole, are becoming more apparent each day. Physics says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It would seem rather flawed, that one should only see linearity, as the most important fundamental principle. What if this is a left over mental grove, engrained deeply, as when we had to throw spears or shoot arrows at our desperately needed dinner meal.

Is this why, we still don’t know how, collectively, to find the unintended consequences that our habitual use of linear awareness creates. It has its place, but we have to develop, more life affirming contexts about, the many layers of embedded systems, the universe has achieved intrinsically. The suggested evidence, in this discussion, is located in many different contexts. Some are clearly about food nutrient decline, toxicity of modern day agriculture, the adulteration of natural foods. This attempt to compensate for this ongoing self deluded destruction of our planet isn’t working. What we can do locally, regionally, and globally we must come together and bring about a new paradigm. We will continue seeking out the contexts and actions and how we can change our realities through consensus and cooperation. We must begin thinking in the way of the American natives “unto the 7th generation.”

The very essence of how the natural world is so intertwined, shows up now in the ever increasing frequency of catastrophic events. Being alerted and evaluating actual causes, coming together in accepting the necessity of immediate change, is a social exercise we can learn together. The eugenicists would look at our collective behavior of drinking whatever “coolaid” they give us, with disdain, while they enjoy the money we channel into their coffers. Let’s stop buying “cheap foods” grown on toxic soils. You can change American Agriculture. When some of us would question our own desires and actions to make a better world it seems quite foolhardy. So today there are many ways to live a better life, now we have to work together to transform our political and economic relationships with one another before the post apocalyptic visionaries turn out to be right.

References in order of appearance in the article.

  1. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arnold_J._Toynbee
  2. https://www.thengfq.com/2018/02/golfs-9-billion-turf-course-supplies-industry/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/08/04/lawns-are-a-soul-crushing-timesuck-and-most-of-us-would-be-better-off-without-them/
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/more-animal-viruses-will-jump-to-humans-deforestation-2020-9
  5. https://news.yahoo.com/best-way-prevent-more-diseases-120400975.html
  1. https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/local_laws_ban_front_yard_food_gardens/
  1. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/pandemic-gardens-have-caused-unprecedented-demand-for-seeds-1.4897754
  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/201762/projection-for-total-us-cropland-area-from-2010/
  1. Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 2016. Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On Farm Agricultural Production in the United States (Third Edition). ISBN: 978-0-692-81902-9.
  1. https://fieldtomarket.org/national-indicators-report-2016/energy-use/
  1. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

Why Americans Lead the World in Food Waste – The Atlantic see link below

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/american-food-waste/491513/
  1. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/vanishing-nutrients/

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