| “Extinction does not only apply
to giant pandas or tigers or exotic species that dwell in the
Rainforests. Vegetables can go extinct too and when our food
goes extinct then we follow”. (The Henry Double Day Research
Association, England). |
Jack R. Harlan, Professor Emeritus, ” For the sake of future generations, we must collect and study the wild and weedy relatives of our cultivated plants as well as domesticated vegetables. These sources are dangerously neglected. The future will not be so tolerant. We cannot afford to ignore any source of the gene pool”.
An estimate from the Seeds of Diversity organization stated _ of European vegetables are now extinct due to monoculture practices. According to an article in the Modern Maturity Magazine, 90% of food crops grown in 1900 are now extinct.
Heritage varieties, (known for over 500 years) and Heirloom varieties (known for at least 300 years), have always been grown as an open-pollinated crop. Open pollinated means we leave the pollination duties to the bees and the wind, so seeds are produced naturally by the plant. They provide us with a much larger variety of disease resistant and environment compatible characteristics than hybrids ever can. Here we are facing a new millennium and many of us are making choices as to what we are going to do. How are we going to change our life, our world?
“The thing is, to start where you are”, says Joanne,
the owner of Ellison Arms Herbals Farm in Kelowna, where she has
specialized in heritage seeds for more than 27 years. “You
can pass on the information. Make a difference by way of example.
Choosing these varieties is a way you can support diversity and
reduce present day monoculture methods. Choosing to grow them
using organic methods, is a way you can save the environment from
contaminated ground water and poisoned plants”.
OM: How did you learn of heritage seeds?
JOANNE: Well, I grew up on a small family farm where we saved most of our seeds because it was cheaper. We tried the hybrids, but after a while we realized they just were not performing like the old varieties. They did not produce well, survive the heat waves well, and there always seemed to be something wrong with them. When we fed the table scraps to our chickens, some of them did not want to eat them. When the chickens, which are basically scavengers, refused them my father stopped eating them too. I, being a teenager, knew everything of course and was very scientifically inclined and was the last in the family to accept that the old varieties were indeed better.
OM: What changed your mind?
JOANNE: Well, it was about 30 years ago, when I really became convinced. When I was growing a market garden, and working around that, I would buy my seeds from regular bulk gardener seed supply stores and found my garden was not producing like my neighbors. We were growing essentially the same thing, both organically, but I was getting no where near the healthy crops they had. It was then that I learned of their seed sources and began buying them myself.
OM: How long have you been specializing in heritage varieties?
JOANNE: Well, here on this farm we have been operating for about 12 years. I have been doing it on my own for about 15 years before that. I have gardened as far back as I can remember, always organically. I grew up being fascinated with the growth process a seed undergoes.
OM: Can you explain what the whole heritage seed concept is?
JOANNE: The concept is that at one time, every little valley every little hillside had its own variety of pea, or bean or whatever it was they were growing. When people migrated they often took their families seeds with them. So there was a tremendous variety. Even now, after losing so much diversity there are something like 2000 varieties of beans or more alone! But, what is generally grown on a commercial scale are three basic varieties. But, those thousands of others are slowly being forgotten and lost over time.
OM: So there is a danger of these species becoming extinct?
JOANNE: Oh yes. All these varieties are becoming more rare and eventually, if no one recognizes the threat and starts growing the crop, it will become extinct. The most frightening aspect is that the agricultural gene pool is getting smaller and smaller. And the great danger there, as we are seeing in other realms of species, is when the few varieties start becoming prone to diseases. And by the time we realize our crops are failing and the only way to save them is to find an old variety; only there are none left. That is the fear.
Cognition Magazine is a good source of all kinds of information regarding agricultural issues. In one of their magazines, they had total of all food crops on the planet that could be grown today and it was in the tens of thousands. But what is primarily grown in North America is less than a dozen!
OM: What is the objective for using hybrids?
JOANNE: Well, the big agribusiness sectors genetically mess with the plants to create a specific characteristic that either saves the farmer money or increases the market. Hybrids are often incorporated with foreign genes from the animal group (like fish and pig genes), or from pesticides, (such as Bt and Round-up). Biotechnology promises to feed more people with foods “enriched” with vaccines, antibiotics and chemicals. But these biochemicals they are incorporating, have proven to kill indiscriminately. In Thailand, 30% of their bee population died in areas where Bt Cotton was being tested. Allergys are another pitfall; take the now infamous case of Brazil nuts being crossed with soybeans, where numerous terrible allergic reactions to soy products were experienced.
“Round-up” ready crops were created to support the monocultural commercial grower who desires the convenience of being able to spray round up on the crop, killing the weeds without harming the crop. The problem is that it kills them that year. The next year the weeds begin building up a tolerance and eventually they will have a weed choked crop that is resistant to “Round-up”. Because weeds are pollinated by the wind, an organic grower can be contaminated by round up resistant crops. This can all happen in as little as 3 years.
And there is also the issue of genetic engineering resulting in new recombinant compounds, having severe allergic reactions from humans. Even if a hybrid has no new recombinant compounds, the consumer does not have access to what they used and so can have an allergic reaction. They breed tomatoes so that the skin of the tomato is tougher, to prevent damage during shipping. The skin doesn’t let as much moisture out into the air, resulting in a prolonged shelf life. Here lies the very real possibility of altered nutritional values and flavors. These foods give the illusion that they are fresher than they are; because foods loose their nutrients as they age, the consumer could be fooled into buying a nutritionally compromised food.
OM: Is our future with farmers using airtight greenhouses!
JOANNE: Maybe, growing in a biosphere, even with guards posted outside, too! (she laughs). Prince of Wales has got an estate where he is involved, on the quiet, with the heritage people in England. What I would like to see is a regular show on PBS, or some other station, on this issue. Maybe with Prince Charles being involved they would have public clout and a big draw. PBS is supposed to be good with these kinds of things and if everyone pitched in, it could be a very educational show. A heritage variety is nutritionally superior to a hybridized one. I read of a study on tomatoes that analyzed a tomato that showed a particular resistance to a particular valley’s diseases. They have also found an easily digestible form of protein that we desperately need. So with every variety lost, we are most definitely losing out nutritionally. The whole thing with maintaining the heritage seeds that belong to your microclimate, your particular valley, is that they will be able to provide you with the most nutritionally packed food source because they are not weakened or stressed.
OM: Oh, it sounds like you would have more environmental compatibility by choosing heritage seeds.
JOANNE: Yes. As you save seed from the best of your crop, as all seed savers should, you improve the strength of your crop and its compatibility with the microclimate increases. So it just keeps on improving over the years.
OM: What would happen if a gardener saves seeds from a hybrid?
JOANNE: Well, if your package, that the seeds came in, has a circled R symbol; that means it is illegal to save the seed. A registered trademark indicates genetic manipulation and that is the legal property of the laboratories that designed the Frankenfood. This is one of the scary things about these big agri-companies taking over many of the major seed suppliers. Biopiracy, or bioprospecting, occurs when companies purchase patent rights over genes and gene combinations. In some of these seeds, they have incorporated terminator genes. That is what is now being commonly dubbed as suicide seeds. They will not germinate.
But, if it is legal to save your seeds and you choose to do so, the seed will not produce true to form. In other words it will begin to revert to one or another of its parents. And it will be different every year thereafter, but a heritage seed will always produce true to form. If you save a seed from a particular tomato, you will get that tomato.
It is up to us to raise our children to be responsible, good people. We fight for what we think are good political decisions and try to preserve nature, all for our children and the following generations. So should we take responsibility for our food; if we do not, our health will continually deteriorate until ultimately we become extinct ourselves. We must preserve these old seeds or we are going to starve. We are being robbed of bio-nutrients every time we loose a species. We have no idea what kind of benefits, medically speaking, these endangered plants may have. We have no idea whether a particular variety of food crop may hold our only hope of dealing with acid rain or global warming. We could have lost the cure for cancer without even knowing it. These are the benefits of preserving genetic diversity. There are ways to handle pests and diseases like choosing to grow the appropriate heritage seed for your microclimate, organically, in nutrient rich soil, using inter-planting methods to attract insects and increase bio-diversity. This is cheaper, healthier, and easier. I don’t see how we can improve on that! (She laughs)
Just as we are losing our Family values, so we are losing our diversity. All families, only 3 generations ago, saved their own seeds. And if they didn’t, their neighbors did. But, very few people have continued this tradition and so there are probably thousands of varieties of seeds that we have now lost. Another huge amount of history, gone.
There are 6000 kinds of tomatoes available today, not counting the ones that are lost. And every single one has a particular history. A particular DNA sequence, a particular set of nutrients. There is so much more available in heritage seeds. Red, yellow, orange, black, white and purple tomatoes are only some of the varieties available.
OM: You seem to know quite a lot about heritage seeds. Where did you learn all of this?
JOANNE: The library is an incredible tool. You just have to ask. They are wonderful. And there are literally carloads of information on the subject. It usually only takes a couple weeks to get the books if you have to order them. I pretty much educated myself there. I read all the articles I could find in magazines too, and I have been taught quite a bit from Seeds of Diversity.
For further information: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeds of Diversity Canada-Heritage Seed Program, PO Box 36 Station Q, Toronto, ONT, M4T 2L7 (Web Site: www.interlog.com/~sodc) (Phone: 905-623-0353)
Cognition Magazine, PO Box 6408 Station J, Ottawa, ON K2A 3Y6 (Web Site: http://www.gks.com/cog)
Salt Springs Seeds, Box 444 Ganges, Salt Spring Is. BC V8K W21
William Dam Seeds, Box 8400 Dundas, ON L9H 6M1
a first language
+ We polish the Polish furniture.
+ He could lead if he would get the lead out.
+ A farm can produce produce.
+ The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse.
+ The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
+ The present is a good time to present the present.
+ At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
+ The dove dove into the buses.
+ I did not object to the object.
+ The insurance for the invalid was invalid.
+ The bandage was wound around the wound.
+ There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
+ They were too close to the door to close it.
+ The buck does funny things when the does are present.
+ They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
+ To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
+ The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
+ After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
+ I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes.
+ I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
+ How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
+ I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.
The following are actual products in Japan
that have awful English mistranslations:
+ Cookie Face (cosmetics)
+ Salad Girl (more cosmetics)
+ The Goo (soup)
+ Pork with fresh garbage (cabbage)
+ Specialist in Deceased Children (diseased)
+ Finest Moldy Cheese
+ Liver Putty (Japanese SPAM)
+ My Fanny Toilet Paper
+ My Pee Diapers
+ Nail Remover (nail polish remover)
+ Pocari Sweat (beverage)
Volunteer Opportunities in Recreation
Volunteering provides positive experiences for everyone and the Grand Forks Recreation Department would like to invite you to join their volunteer team.
The opportunities are many and varied. Recreation volunteers can assist with aquatic programs, special events, children’s programs and special needs. Volunteers will be scheduled dependent upon personal skills and abilities and department needs.
Why volunteer? Volunteers benefit through work experience, leadership training, community involvement and fun! Volunteering can be very rewarding and it is something to be proud of.
The Grand Forks & District Recreation Department will be accepting applications for volunteers for the winter season during Volunteer Sign Up Week, January 24th to 28th 2000. If you are 14 or older pick up an application form at the pool or at the recreation office. Orientation for new volunteers will be on Friday, February 4th.
by Ashley Reekie, Grand Forks
Death, how swiftly it comes. When we are young, we sometimes
feel invincible. Death cannot visit us. How wrong we are. It is
true that a few of us die young from disease, but most of the
deaths of young people could have been prevented. It is those
of us who live on, family and friends, who suffer the worse. The
pain of looking at the empty chair in a classroom, in which just
yesterday a friend sat, is sometimes too much to bear. Still,
we seem to think we are invincible, it only happens to the ‘other’
In the past year, we have lost two students at Grand Forks Secondary School to drinking and driving. On March 26th, Garth Sandner died as a result of drinking and driving and now, we have lost Travis Keith to another senseless alcohol related incident. When does it stop? How many more have to die before we get the message: It can happen to me.
Frankly, I’m tired of losing people I care about to alcohol related accidents. A few years ago, I lost my aunt, my mother’s twin sister to a drunk driver. She was not drinking, but the person who hit her was. I never got to really know her, that opportunity was taken from me, and I have to live with that.
It is time, it is past time, for us to stop and think. It really isn’t that difficult to fathom, if you have one drink, just one, you don’t belong behind the wheel of a car. It is a fact that 16-24 year olds represent 14% of the licensed drivers across Canada, yet, the same group account for 29% of alcohol related accidents. Think about it. In Canada, everyday, an average of 4 people die due to an impaired driver. That means that every six hours, some one dies. 311 people per day are injured by an impaired driver, 12 per hour, one every 5 minutes.
Garth and Travis are gone. Gone with them are their hopes and dreams. They will never see another summer, never see another birthday, never see another Christmas. Who will be next? You, perhaps? You might think all that is left of them is our memories, but you are wrong. What they also leave behind is a clear message. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t make your families and friends suffer for a lifetime for a moment or two of fun.
At GFSS, we have a Student Against Drunk Drivers (SADD) group. Thus far, the saddest part of that group is that it only has three members. Is it time for us to render our support for SADD?
Personally, I don’t want to lose any more family members, friends or schoolmates to drinking and driving. We need to do something, before we suffer more losses. We need to plan ahead, to think and definitely, we need to remember that if a friend is drinking, don’t let them drive, don’t ride with them. Simply put, if you drink, don’t drive.
SIMPLE FRIENDS & REAL FRIENDS
+ A simple friend has never seen you cry.-A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
+ A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.-A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.
+ A simple friend hates it when you call after he/she has gone to bed.-A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.
+ A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.-A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.
+ A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.-A real friend could blackmail you with it.
+ A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.-A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.
+ A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.-A real friend expects to always be there for you.
Got a Head
How To Tell If Your Head’s About To Blow Up
From the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, May 24, 1994
MOSCOW — Doctors are blaming a rare electrical imbalance in the brain for the bizarre death of a chess player whose head literally exploded in the middle of a championship game!
No one else was hurt in the fatal explosion but four players and three officials at the Moscow Candidate Masters’ Chess Championships were sprayed with blood and brain matter when Nikolai Titov’s head suddenly blew apart. Experts say he suffered from a condition called Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis or HCE.
“He was deep in concentration with his eyes focused on the board,” says Titov’s opponent, Vladimir Dobrynin. “All of a sudden his hands flew to his temples and he screamed in pain. Everyone looked up from their games, startled by the noise. Then, as if someone had put a bomb in his cranium, his head popped like a firecracker.”
Incredibly, Titiov’s is not the first case in which a person’s head has spontaneously exploded. Five people are known to have died of HCE in the last 25 years. The most recent death occurred just three years ago in 1991, when European psychic
Barbara Nicole’s skull burst. Miss Nicole’s story was reported by newspapers worldwide, including WWN. “HCE is an extremely rare physical imbalance,” said Dr. Anatoly Martinenko, famed neurologist and expert on the human brain who did the autopsy on the brilliant chess expert. “It is a condition in which the circuits of the brain become overloaded by the body’s own electricity. The explosions happen during periods of intense mental activity when lots of current is surging through the brain. Victims are highly intelligent people with great powers of concentration. Both Miss Nicole and Mr. Titov
were intense people who tended to keep those cerebral circuits
overloaded. In a way it could be said they were literally too smart for their own good.”
Dr. Martinenko says there are probably many undiagnosed cases, he hastens to add that very few people will die
from HCE. “Most people who have it will never know. At this point, medical science still doesn’t know much about HCE. And since fatalities are so rare it will probably be years before research money becomes available.”
Although HCE is very rare, it can kill. Dr. Martinenko says knowing you have the condition can greatly improve your odds of surviving it. A “yes” answer to any three of the following seven questions could mean that you have HCE:
1. Does your head sometimes ache when you think too hard? (Head pain can indicate overloaded brain circuits.)
2. Do you ever hear a faint ringing or humming sound in your ears? (It could be the sound of electricity in the skull cavity.)
3. Do you sometimes find yourself unable to get a thought out of your head? (This is a possible sign of too much electrical activity in the cerebral cortex.)
4. Do you spend more than five hours a day reading, balancing your checkbook, or other thoughtful activity? (A commonsymptom of HCE is a tendency to over-use the brain.)
5. When you get angry or frustrated do you feel pressure in your temples? (Friends of people who died of HCE say the victims often complained of head pressure in times of strong emotion.)
6. Do you ever overeat on ice cream, doughnuts and other sweets? (A craving for sugar is typical of people with too much electrical pressure in the cranium.)
7. Do you tend to analyze yourself too much? (HCE sufferers are often introspective, “over-thinking” their lives.)