- The latest "crisis" spreading throughout the
world, the food crisis, may actually backfire on the giant capitalists
reaping great profits from all they have sown without mercy for nearly
a century. The US food crisis is in part being experienced
because during the past 80 years, our government slowly formed partnerships
with huge, profit-seeking corporations. Local food production
was taken away from small family farmers who could not compete with big
industry. The critical responsibility of providing food for
the masses then fell into the profit-seeking hands of conglomerates that
were heavily armed with chemicals, plastics, pesticides, fossil fuels,
and topsoil-destroying machinery.
- Like a microcosm of what would eventually occur throughout
most of the world, people in the US became increasingly dependent
upon the agricultural, chemical, and petroleum industries for the production
and delivery of "food." Diets that were once healthy
became unnatural and based largely upon processed, powdered, light-weight,
(easily shipped and stored) grains instead of locally grown, nutrient-dense,
fresh organic vegetables and fruits. This dependency began in
earnest around the 1930s, the years referred to by some as "the Dirty
Thirties." Those were years when corporate profits at all
costs seemed to take precedence and business became more important than
people. They were years when extraordinary examples of cause
and effect occurred, as though a profound message was being offered to
us if we would only stop and take notice.
- Some feel the Wall Street crash of 1929 was caused by
speculation over the exorbitant import taxes the Smoot-Hawley act was about
to bring. This business protection act became law in 1930, and
humans paid the price. The Great Depression grew and properties
were confiscated. Other countries retaliated against the US,
passing similar laws causing severe trade restrictions. The
US State Department reported that world trade declined by "66% between
1929 and 1934." The market for our surplus grains disappeared. Farmers
lost their farms when they could not repay loans taken out for machinery,
but the machinery did more than cause homelessness. The machinery
had damaged the topsoil of the Great Plains. The damage
was so great, the topsoil turned to dust and was carried eastward by winds. Black
clouds sent a roiling message from the new Dust Bowl to New York and
beyond, New York being the very home of Wall Street. The
Dirty Thirties marked the birth of the synthetic, plastic kingdom.
- According to the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA), in the 1900s a full 41% of the US workforce was employed
in the important task of growing our food. By 1945, following
the elimination of the small farmers this percentage fell to 16%. In
2000, the percentage of humans employed as food growers was a mere 1.9%
of the workforce, because as the small farmers lost their farms and their
jobs, commercial farming conglomerates took over. Industrialization
meant commercial fertilizers would be used to force crops from the damaged
earth. According to the USDA, commercial fertilizer use more
than doubled after the Dirty Thirties. By the 1980s, nearly
50,000,000 tons of commercial fertilizers were being used yearly.
- In a statement given to me by my friend, Dr. Luise Light,
former USDA nutrition expert, we were "brainwashed by media publicity
into thinking that industrially produced food is more scientific, safer
and healthier than old-fashioned locally grown food. This is
a lie." Dr. Light was the creator of the true Food Pyramid,
which suggested we consume a diet based primarily on fresh vegetables and
fruits. Her pyramid was drastically altered by the grain lobby,
falsely leading people to think that our diets needed to be grain-based.
- The grain foods created by synthetic practices, are clearly
not natural. After foods are processed with pesticides, chemicals,
plastics and fossil fuels, they become, in part, synthetic, many with additives
to hide or enhance taste or appearance and to "extend shelf life." Throughout
these years of dependency on "agro-giants," the health of Americans
has steadily declined until we have become the top consumers of pharmaceuticals
on earth. We who live in this plastic, synthetic kingdom that
was born in the 1930s are now a nation completely dependent not only upon
synthetic foods, but are now seeking relief from our toxic symptoms via
expensive, synthetic drugs.
- With the food supply lying in the hands of a few corporations,
manipulation and price gouging have apparently been made easy, but these
tactics would have little impact on any of us if we began independently
growing our food locally as it should be grown. According to
the Washington Post, global food prices rose 83% during the last three
years, partly due to the rising costs of fuel for shipping. We
have paid the price in many ways, poisoning ourselves with synthetic chemicals,
then waiting unknown days or weeks while products are shipped over the
hemispheres, or stored indefinitely thus losing more nutrients with each
passing moment. This food crisis could turn out to be a godsend
for the world if the situation is addressed individually and quickly.
- For those of us who have grown tired (sick and tired)
of supporting the pseudo and synthetic food industry, there is a simple
way out of this giant mess. Anyone who has access to a little
dirt can reclaim the responsibility of growing at least a portion of our
foods right in our own yards, and we can begin today and start out very
- One of the easiest and most nutritious homegrown foods
is the potato. The potato has long been the victim of curious
false advertising. The truth is that fresh, organically grown
potatoes can be viewed as one of the top three most nutrient-dense foods
in the green kingdom. Freshly harvested potatoes taste great
and have generous amounts of natural vitamin C, B complex vitamins (the
real ones rather than dubious synthetic Bs), amino acids, and outstanding
mineral and trace nutrients, including iodine. They are so "complete"
in nutrition that humans living on diets consisting primarily of potatoes
appear to have an excellent state of health that surpasses American health
at this time.
- The potato has more potassium than a banana, and comes
in a delicious rainbow of different colors and types, offering a wide variety
of nutrients from a natural, fresh, whole and very satisfying food. It
now appears that the lowly spud, long ignored or completely dismissed as
a joke or a mere starch bomb, is far superior in nutrients to the cheap
powdered grains, chemicals, and plastics found in many industrialized breads,
cereals, pastas and other processed foods that form the sad bulk of Americans'
diet at this time. In addition, while grain foods tend to create
an extremely high acid pH residue in the human body, it appears that potatoes
- There are many websites available giving detailed instructions
in how to grow potatoes. The Google search engine leads us first
to its favorite, albeit opinionated and frequently biased giver of information:
"wikipedia." According to this site (and others),
it seems that one must first have a degree in botany, several acres of
land, heavy-duty harrowing equipment, or at the very least a water buffalo
in order to prepare the earth for potato production.
- "Correct potato husbandry is an arduous task in
the best of circumstances," the wikipedia writer grimly warns any
potential new backyard potato farmer, and then adds, "Good ground
preparation, harrowing, plowing, and rolling are always needed, along with
a little grace from the weather and a good source of water. Three successive
plowings, with associated harrowing and rolling, are desirable before planting." (2)
- The word, "harrow," is described by Webster's
as to "pillage, plunder, torment, vex." It seems to
sum up the entire suggested planting schedule rather well. One
might come away from this exhausting description thinking we should leave
potato growing to the harrowing "experts." The truth,
however, is that the above techniques are completely unnecessary and are
the very techniques that have badly damaged our topsoils.
- The whole truth is that growing our food - - and especially
growing the top three nutrient-dense foods addressed in this paper - -
is not only easy, but can also be done in a way that the topsoil is renewed,
nurtured and fed while it in turn produces our food. The potato
is easy to grow due to the fact that most potatoes, unlike a loaf of bread
or a bowl of corn flakes, are alive. Being so, they will strive
to remain alive while also striving to bring forth more potatoes. They
have been doing so on their own for countless millennia, long before humans
discovered they were good to eat and could be grown next to the kitchen
door instead of being hunted and gathered in the wild.
- Potatoes, in fact, seem to happily attempt to grow under
just about any conditions as long as they have not been killed by radiation
or chemicals. One does not even need a yard in order to grow potatoes. They
can be easily grown in containers and started by using old potatoes in
the fridge or pantry that have sprouted "eyes." Each
of the eyes will eagerly grow into a new plant if given half a chance.
- After selecting organic potatoes that have sprouted eyes,
you can cut the potato into halves, thirds or quarters, making sure there
are at least a couple of eyes on each section. These sections
should be allowed to sit on a windowsill for a day or so, until the areas
that were cut can "heal," and dry. The alternative to sectioning
is to just plant the whole potato that has sprouted eyes. I
have done both, and the result has always been the same: more
potatoes. One need not dig a hole, "work the ground,"
or commit any harrowing acts when planting potatoes. The seed
potatoes can be placed upon the ground surface and covered with compost,
leaves, hay, straw, etc. They are not particular. I
have known folks who have simply tossed an old potato onto a compost pile,
resulting in its taking root and establishing itself.
- If planting in a container, fill the lower third of the
container with soil, and throw some seed potatoes onto it, or push them
down under the dirt. Once they have sprouted, they will grow
in height very quickly. When the sprouted plants are about ten
inches tall, some growers advocate adding more dirt, compost, leaves, etc.,
until the bottom portion of the growing plants are completely covered by
the soil, leaving only about three inches of the topmost greenery uncovered. As
the plants continue to grow in height, the advice by some is to continue
adding more dirt until the container is filled. Potatoes will
be formed throughout the container.
- Others growers, such as organic farmer, Jim Gerritsen,
of Wood Prairie Farm in Maine, state that the leaves should never be covered,
but only the stems covered. In an email he stated to me, "Our
potato leaves are solar factories manufacturing plant food. More
leaves equal more food," and this, he wrote, equals better conditions
for tuber bulking and higher yields.
- Whichever method you choose, when growing potatoes in
the yard add straw, hay, leaves, dirt and compost or a mixture of all to
form a mound covering either the emerging plants or stems. This
helps keep the developing tubers hidden from sunlight which might cause
them to turn green. (Green potatoes may contain a substance,
solanine, which should not be consumed.) I also incorporate
various seaweeds and ocean nutrients into my gardens.
- These mounds of organic materials will eventually decompose
into rich composted soil, but long before this occurs, the potato plants
will create their tubers, some types producing tubers in as early as a
few weeks. You can "rob" the mounds early by carefully
reaching in and removing tubers before the actual harvest time comes when
the plants die back. Gently boiling the fresh potatoes whole,
skin intact rather than cutting them up or puncturing them and then nuking
them in the microwave, is said to result in less loss of nutrients.
- At this time in our synthetic, nutrient-starved world,
I feel Mr. Potato shares his spotlight with two other nutritious friends,
the first of which is the sweet potato. Many people associate
sweet potatoes with Thanksgiving or Christmas, and therefore consume this
wonderful food only once or twice a year. The sweet potato is a root
rather then a tuber, and is more closely related to the morning glory than
to the spud. It is another extraordinarily nutrient-dense food
created in the green kingdom of Mother Nature.
- Sweet potatoes can be easily grown by first obtaining
"slips" or green shoots from a sweet potato suspended by toothpicks
in a glass of water, something many of us remember doing as kids. Each
green shoot or vine that forms can be pulled off the sweet potato and planted
in the ground or in containers. Or, slips can be ordered from
farmers if specific varieties are desired.
- This year, because of my concerns for my family and friends
regarding this "food crisis," and also in an effort to help support
and encourage small family farmers, I ordered a variety of seed potatoes
and sweet potato slips as well as other organic seeds from various farmers,
including Jim Gerritsen. A rainbow of seed potatoes - - reds,
yellows, purples, blues, fingerlings, pinks and whites - - are lined up
on my windowsill now growing their "eyes" and looking very much
like a lineup of small, round (some tall and thin) soldiers preparing to
bravely go forth and do what they like to do best, thus addressing in this
front yard, "the global food crisis." I would suggest
that everyone begin growing potatoes, immediately.
- The importance of taking our food back and establishing
organic gardening practices can perhaps best be observed by noting two
other microcosms in our world that are right now showing us again extraordinary
examples of cause and effect, as though another profound message is desperately
being offered to us if we would only stop and notice. As though
to make this message as clear as possible, these two opposing microcosms
are a mere 50 miles from one another. They are Haiti, and Cuba.
- According to David Montgomery's book, "Dirt," Cuba was
the site of a unique cause and effect revolution that resulted in something
rather exceptional. Before the 1959 revolution, four-fifths
of Cuba's agricultural lands were controlled by a handful of people
primarily engaged in the exporting business, and Cuba produced
less than half of its own food. Machinery, fertilizers, pesticides
and fossil fuels were all imported, but with the collapse of the Soviet
Union, trading ended, and an ongoing US trade embargo "plunged Cuba into
a food crisis."
- "Unable to import food or fertilizer, Cuba saw
the calories and protein in the average diet drop by almost a third, from
3,000 calories a day to 1,900 calories between 1989 and 1994." Out
of desperation then, "Cuba began a remarkable agricultural experiment." Industrialized
state farms were divided up into small farms and thousands of gardens. Government
programs encouraged organic agriculture out of necessity: there
was no longer ready access to chemicals, fertilizers, fossil fuels or industrialized
machinery. Vacant lots were turned into organic vegetable gardens. People
grew their own food and sold it locally. The end result is that Cuba is
now entirely self-sufficient and will remain unaffected by the "global
food crises" the rest of us are intended to feel.
- A mere 50 miles away from Cuba, is Haiti. Haiti,
once covered with lush forests of magnificent hardwoods, has suffered from
severe poverty that resulted in nearly total deforestation. The
deforestation has in turn, led to the washing away of Haiti's topsoil
so that now it is very difficult to grow food there. It is said
that even the children know hunger daily in Haiti, and out of sad
desperation, some of the people are now making flat cakes made of dirt
and clay mud. In a poignant irony, having lost the topsoil they
needed to provide them food, they are now eating dirt and clay as food.
- But there is something hopeful that Haiti might
do to help turn all of this around, which brings me to the third most nutrient-dense
source of food to be covered in this paper. This is a plant
that is easily grown even on poor soils. In fact, growing this
plant actually helps to control soil erosion and it helps enrich the topsoil.
- Easily grown, and unlike Haiti's lost trees which will
take generations to mature if replanted, this is a plant that takes only
120 days to mature. It requires no pesticides and its seeds
provide one of the most uniquely nutritious foods in the entire green kingdom. Its
fibers create a better paper than tree pulp, without damaging forests. It
also creates superior clothing to that of cotton without requiring the
excessive pesticides that cotton requires. This plant has been
repeatedly shown to heal even advanced cancers as well as treat a variety
of other illnesses. The fact that this plant creates products
superior to cotton, might provide Haiti with a new economic opportunity,
via producing quality clothing, textiles, building goods, and paper products. Finally,
as though the green kingdom proved its intelligence to us by producing
for us a simple plant that could help provide us with all of our basic
needs, this plant also produces an abundance of clean-burning, renewable,
sustainable, edible, nontoxic oil. Humanity had been depending
upon this useful plant for at least 10,000 years, until it was outlawed.
- This plant, maligned even worse in the press than the
potato, is the hemp plant (cannabis). Hemp was outlawed during
the Dirty Thirties as the plastic, synthetic kingdom was being established. All
forms of hemp, including industrial hemp, had to be outlawed, because if
hemp were allowed to continue providing us with its many superior, nontoxic
products, we would never have developed a need and then a dependency upon
the synthetics and plastics/fossil fuel products.
- If we all planted hemp from sea to shining sea, in 120
days we could harvest all of the above mentioned superior, health-giving
hemp products, and in addition we would also suddenly have a reliable new
source of oil, superior and more easily grown than the corn biofuels. We
would no longer have the need to harrow other countries in the endless
and deadly search for fossil fuels. Lunacy, crises and greed,
however, dictate that it is forbidden for us to grow hemp. In
fact, lunacy, crises and greed appear to be the primary sources that fuel
that keep the synthetic kingdom in operation. While we can legally
purchase and enjoy a nice, nutritious bowl of hemp seeds for any meal,
it remains illegal to grow hemp here in the U.S.
- For those of us throughout the world who are tired of
paying the price for, and helping fuel the synthetic kingdom, it is time
for each of us to arm ourselves with potatoes and join together in a global
revolution that will remove food production from the synthetic kingdom
and return it locally to the green kingdom and to the people who are born
with an inalienable right to have decent food. Think of Cuba. Pray
for Haiti. Join the revolution.
- Mary's son is a 2008 Candidate running for the Florida
House of Representatives on the platform of legalizing hemp. Mary
Sparrowdancer is an independent journalist and author of a bestselling
book, The Love Song. www.sparrowdancer.com She wishes
to thank her friends, Luise, Don and Doug for their help with this article.
- US Department of State- Trading down.
- Cornell history
- Agricultural collapse in the 1930s
- Fertilizer history
- Food prices.
- Potato facts.
- Wikipedia (how to succeed in never growing a potato)
- "Dirt," by David Montgomery
- Haiti 3rd most dependent country in the world.
- Haiti toxic dump of American sludge from Philadelphia.
- Haiti The hungry are eating mud pies.
- Video: Healing cancer with marijuana: "Run
from the cure The Rick Simpson Story." (Part
1 of 7).