Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Musings: Revolutionary Concepts

I recently attended a workshop on raising chickens that was held at North Country Farms and led by Sky Roversi-Deal, a young man who grew up on that Kilauea farm and is now sharing the hands-on knowledge he gained with others. Contrary to what we're constantly told, not every kid is fleeing the farm.

I'd had chickens before, but was interested in learning how Sky fed his flock with a minimum of imported feed, 'cause ain't nothin' sustainable about shipping in layer pellets, and they're not cheap, either, especially if you buy organic. Plus I can't imagine that eating heavily processed food is any better for chickens than it is for us.

Anyway, I was taught how to make food for chickens, which I'm already doing for my dogs, thanks to Dr. Ihor Basko, and it got me excited about building a coop and raising some chicks.

But Sky imparted another lesson, too, one about the value of stable, consistent yields, as opposed to the high production mentality that is degrading not only farming practices, but livestock animals and the earth. It's pretty shocking — and yes, disgusting — to think that chickens used as layers don't even know how to set eggs — or in other words, hatch chicks — or forage. They've had those basic instincts bred right out of them so that they can function solely as high-volume egg-laying machines in food production factories.

We're changing the basic nature of animals so that we can more efficiently exploit them, and that's not only wrong in so many ways, it's putting our own survival at risk by intentionally reducing diversity.

We've all heard the phrase ”you are what you eat,” and it still holds true. I read the other day that for the first time the French are having problems with obesity, and it's because they've become addicted to the deadly junk food that America exports, like weapons, to the rest of the world.

Producing at least some of own food — and I'm talking cooking as well as growing — is not only the best way to ensure quality, but re-establish a healthy relationship with one of the essential components of life. In the process, it can also reveal attitudes that need changing. I thought of that yesterday, as I was contemplating how to make my cherry tomato plant produce more. I suddenly realized that it was doing just fine, providing me with a steady supply that fully met my needs. I did not actually need more.

And isn't that a revolutionary concept in ever-ravenous America.

While we're on the topic of revolutionary concepts, the White House, Google and YouTube fully ignored the most popular video question that citizens posed to Obama in yesterday's "Your Interview with the President" production.

Even though it won twice as many votes as any other video query, this question was deemed too daring to even broach:

"Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country's drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?"

Guess we know the answer to that one: nothing.

But Obama did take advantage of the “virtual interview” to defend his unprecedented use of armed drones. As Democracy Now! reports:

"I want to make sure the people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied. So I think that there’s this perception somehow that we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly. This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on. It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash."

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in August that U.S. drones strikes had killed between about 400 and 800 civilians, including 175 children. The Bureau put the total number of people killed by drones as high as 3,000.

Weird, yeah, how killing kids and civilians is no big deal, but talking about legalizing marijuana is kapu...... But I guess it's no more bizarre than our devotion to factory food.


Anonymous said...

Just curious, what do you feed your chickens? We let ours free range as often as possible in our fenced in yard, then they go in the coop to sleep or when we're not home. They eat a lot of insects that way. I also feed them banana, papaya and brown ric in addition to their organic feed. The egg yolks are orange in color and the eggs are nice size. One hen laid double yolk eggs a few times. We have Buff Orpingtons which are dual purpose: laying and eating chickens. We are attached to our girls so won't be eating them. They like to go under our house and eat up the centepedes and whatever else they can find. Nice addition to our household!

Anonymous said...

Hui, auntie, since when have politicans ever directly answered any question put to them? Obama is all about directing the narrative. And what is that? Corporate interests of course. Sustainability? Food security? Choice? Representation? Fugedaboutit! Our government lives in a parallel universe, so I say leave them there and let's get on with it!

Anonymous said...

The concept of the household as a producer of food is ,of course, an old one. Growing up here on Kauai I remember when almost everyone produced vegetables and or livestock as part of the household economy. This kept the farmers and the grocers honest because people knew what food quality was supposed to look like.
That's largely gone now but I still hold hope that people like Joan will get the message out that small scale food production is the way to go.
Tend your gardens.

Anonymous said...

A young boy and his father went out fishing one fine morning. After a few quiet hours out in the boat, the boy became curious about the world around him. He looked up at his father and asked "How do fish breath under water?" The father thought about it for a moment, then replied "I really don't know, son." The boy sat quietly from another moment, then asked his father again, "How does our boat float on the water?" Once again his dad answered, "Don’t know, son." Reflecting his thoughts again, a short while later, the boy asks "Why is the sky blue?" Again, his father answered, "Don’t know, son." The inquisitive boy, worried he was disturbing his dad, asks this time "Dad, do you mind that I'm asking you all of these questions?" "Of course not son", replied his father, "How else are you ever going to learn anything?"
Don't you think that some articles and even whole blogs are much alike this story?

Joan Conrow said...

From my Feb. 13 post:

And finally, I meant to respond some time ago to a comment inquiring about a more sustainable approach to feeding chickens.

At the workshop I attended, Sky Roversi-Deal discussed a chicken diet that is one-third greens; one-third fallen fruit and cooked starchy root crops, such as cassava, sweet potato or taro; and one-third protein, such as blood worms, army worms, fish scraps, soldier fly grubs, bugs, centipedes, etc. If you can't come up with sufficient protein, or your birds are not allowed to scratch up their own by going free range, you can substitute layer crumbles for all or part of that final one-third.

The cool thing is, you can produce most all of what they eat, because a lot of it's the same stuff you eat, in your own backyard.