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2
Homesteader's Discussion / How to ripen green tomatoes
« Last post by Little Feather on October 27, 2017, 07:14:49 AM »
How to ripen green tomatoes indoors

     Pick the green tomatoes off the vine, BEFORE they are hit by a frost. If there has already been a frost, only those green tomatoes which were protected will ripen.  You can easily tell the frost damaged tomatoes as they turn a dark green often immediately, but certainly within a day or two.
    Inspect and wash (under cool running water*) the green tomatoes, blot them dry with a clean towel and let them dry completely. * Why use running water?  Because you want to wash away any dirt, bacteria, fungus, etc. and NOT cross-contaminate the tomatoes.
    Remove any damaged, soft, or spotted tomatoes.  You can attempt to ripen them, but keep them away from your good tomatoes as they will probably quickly rot.
    You will need a flat, wide container with an absorbent layer to spread the tomatoes out.  Here are the  keys:
    The container should be liquid proof, or made of a thick absorbent material (like thick cardboard) so that it will contain any liquid from tomatoes that rot.
    The bottom must be lined with an absorbent material, so when a tomato rots, the liquid from it will not contact other tomatoes (which will cause them to rot)
    There needs enough rooms so that no tomato is touching another tomato. Ideally, there should be about 2 inches between each tomato.
    The flat, wide cardboard produce boxes that you can get for free at Costco or Sam's Club are ideal, when you line them with about 5 sheets thick of newspaper or paper towels.
    Place the clean, dry tomatoes one layer deep in the boxes.  Space them out, so no tomato is touching another. 2 or 3 inches between tomatoes works well.
    Store the box of green tomatoes in a cool (50 - 65 F), dry area. An unheated basement, insulated garage, or enclosed porch would work very well. If the temperature is on the cooler end, say 50 - 60, ripening will be slower, and you may have some into January. Temperatures in the 60's will cause much more rapid ripening. High humidity typically causes more rot.  I use a dehumidifier in my basement, set on 35 - 40% humidity.
     Check the tomatoes at least every week. Every other day is better. Remove any that are 50% or more red, and let them finish ripening on your kitchen counter. Check the tomatoes for signs of rot. Any rotting tomatoes should be removed. Once a tomato starts to rot, it will spread quickly.
    The tomatoes should slowly ripen over a period of 3 weeks to 3 months!

Tips on Ripening Green Tomatoes

    Inspect every other day - the spread of one rotting tomato to the others is your greatest danger.
    Good air circulation  and low humidity will help prevent mold from forming.


Read more at http://pickyourown.org/greentomatoeshowtostoreandripen.php#rPodDMV1hoxpqDyz.99
3
 New Organic Management Resource Available from SARE
   

Increasingly aware how food purchases affect their health and the environment, consumers are changing the way they eat. Sales of organic products in the United States totaled $47 billion in 2016, an increase of nearly $3.7 billion from 2015. But demand for many organic staples continues to outstrip domestic supplies, despite record growth in the number of new organic operations.


SARE’s new Organic Production topic room assists organic producers who are struggling to manage pests, fertility and tillage in compliance with stringent organic standards. Including a wide range of free materials developed by SARE, SARE grant recipients and experts in the field, Organic Production addresses:


●   Pest Management : Use pest life cycles and biological factors to influence pest growth and management.
●   Whole Systems : Manage your organic operation as an integrated, whole system.
●   Seeds : Grow and save your own organic seeds.
●   Fertility Management : Optimize fertility using cover crops, manure, crop rotation and organic fertilizers.
●   Certification : Understand USDA certification, agencies, regulations and cost.

●   ...and more!


Organic production is complex, requires patience and demands that producers have the knowledge and experience needed to manage diverse biological systems. Organic Production offers both transitioning and experienced organic producers valuable insights into using organic production to improve profitability while meeting a wide range of conservation and productivity goals.


Please note: Organic Production includes some resources containing practices and suggestions that may not align with USDA organic certification requirements. Users should read carefully and always check with their organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials.

MORE INFO:     http://list.mlgnserv.com/track/click?u=7374bc3ef77a4d7a5bf6c9128e30cabe&id=bcdbd10e&e=d817cef7
4
MARKET FARMING & GARDENING / Jerusalem Artichokes
« Last post by Little Feather on October 24, 2017, 03:08:55 AM »

Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers

$15.00

For growing or eating our Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers from the Stampede Strain that we have been growing organically for over 15 years will meet your needs and our prices are as good as you will find anywhere. Shipped after the 1st frost (happened 10/22/2017) you plant in the fall and harvest your first tubers the following fall. Complete growing instructions included. Price is per pound, state number of pounds you want; save big on shipping Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers, Sunchoke tubers, Jerusalem Artichoke tubers best price, Jerusalem Artichoke

ORDER NOW; FIRST COME 1ST SERVE:     http://www.manysmokes.com/apps/webstore/products/show/7628268
5
Homesteader's Discussion / Chicken Injuries: What To Do When Your Bird Gets Hurt
« Last post by Little Feather on September 24, 2017, 12:57:58 PM »



Chicken Injuries: What To Do When Your Bird Gets Hurt

Some injuries are more severe than others. Here are tips for treating various levels of wounds your chickens might suffer via accident, fight or predator.


I’d just collected eggs from the Silkie coop when I noticed the blood. Just a few small drops lay scattered on the blades of grass near the nestbox. The drips increased in frequency, creating a path that led me straight to … Thomas, our resident bad-boy rooster. He stood by the Ameraucana coop, looking proud of himself, his comb freshly torn in several spots. As his cuts had already started to scab over, I ignored his injuries and went to help Jefferson, our blue Ameraucana roo. Jefferson crowed indignantly, blood streaming down his face from the wounds Thomas inflicted while poor Jefferson merely stood his ground.

No matter how vigilantly we care for our chickens, they still get hurt. Most of the time, their injuries are self-inflicted, the consequence of roo fights, pecking-order “discussions,” and encounters with sharp objects. Unfortunately, sometimes the wounds are much more serious, the result of an accident or, worse, an attack. Be prepared to render assistance to your feathered patients by following these guidelines to assess your birds’ injury level and provide them with the first aid they need.
Low-Level Injuries
Supplies

    Cotton balls
    Cotton swabs
    Sterile gauze
    Veterinary tape
    Blu-Kote
    Corn Starch or Styptic Powder
    Nail clippers
    Shears
    Tweezers

Your feathered kids will accumulate their share of life’s little bumps and bruises. Just like the low-level injuries of a human child, these ouchies will need first aid to prevent infection or worsening of the wound. Treating abrasions and lacerations in birds follows the same basic guidelines as with people: Clean the injury, then keep it clean. The key difference is that (most) humans don’t spend the day scratching in dirt, dust and droppings. Carefully clean the grime away with fresh water, using cotton balls for superficial dirt and swabs for extricating any grit stuck to a cut. If a cut is still freely bleeding, sprinkle in some corn starch to speed clotting, then gently wash the corn starch away. Pat the injury dry with sterile gauze, then apply Blu-Kote (or a similar veterinary germicide) to seal the wound, protect it from infection and cover the raw redness with blue to keep away curious chickens.

 
If an abrasion or laceration is large, cover it with sterile gauze after applying Blu-Kote, then use veterinary tape to keep the gauze firmly in place. Make sure the veterinary tape is secure but not so tightly wrapped that it compromises circulation.

Here are some other minor injuries and tips for treating them.

    Broken feather shaft: Snip clean with shears.
    Broken talon/nail: Clip clean with nail clippers but do not clip past the “quick,” or bloodline.
    Chipped beak: Trim the jagged edge as carefully as possible with clippers or shears.
    Splinter: Remove with tweezers then treat as if it were a cut.

Medium-Level Injuries
Supplies

    Wire snips
    Soldering iron
    Matches
    Sewing needles
    Nylon thread
    String

Be prepared to help your birds when they bring home something more serious than a scrape. I noticed that Ebony Orpington wasn’t scampering around the yard at her typical trot and worried that she’d become egg-bound. By the next day, she noticeably lagged behind her friends. Certain that something was wrong, I brought her to our exam table and began a systematic check. When I lifted her right wing, Ebony shuddered—as did I. A chunk of flesh about the width of a plum was missing, roughly ripped away. (Our neighbor later informed us she’d trapped a feral cat, the probable culprit, in the vicinity of Ebony’s favorite hangout.) After gently cleaning the wound and trimming away tattered sections of skin, I sterilized a needle with a lit match, then carefully sewed Ebony’s gaping injuries shut. Applications of Blu-Kote, gauze and vet tape followed. Ebony has been living in our hospital tractor since, slowly recuperating.


The wound Nestle Welsummer showed us several summers ago was only somewhat less appalling: One of her toes was withered and partially hanging off her foot. The toe had to go. I enlisted my oldest, Michael, a vet-school student, to assist with the amputation. While he held Nestle, I tied off the shriveled toe with string, severed it with the snips, then cauterized the wound with the soldering iron. Nestle was scampering around within days.
High-Level Injuries

Sadly, some injuries might be too severe to be treated. Prepare for this eventuality; don’t wait until it happens to gather your resources. Should your bird be maimed or otherwise wounded to the point of needing euthanasia, having everything in place will make this difficult time progress.

If you wish to ease your animal’s suffering yourself, determine the best method. Websites such as Small Animal Euthanasia at Home will walk you through the process. Tell your family members what’s about to take place so they aren’t taken by surprise, and check your local ordinances for regulations regarding domestic-animal death and disposal.

Can’t bring yourself to put down your bird? Find a local veterinary clinic that will accept exotic animals and ask for its hours of operation and euthanasia fees. This way, should you someday need the veterinarian’s services, you have the information on hand.

Regardless of whether your chicken has a minor abrasion, a severe wound or a life-threatening injury: If you do not feel comfortable rendering first aid—or if you’re not sure of how best to treat your bird—don’t. Your doubt and indecision can easily make a bad situation much worse.


Ana Hotaling and her husband, Jae, own FMA Farms, a heritage-poultry farm in Southeast Michigan. When not writing or chasing after chickens and children, Ana teaches martial arts and yoga and is a competitive triathlete and runner. Follow Ana's poultry adventures at www.facebook.com/FMAFarms.


 
6
Herm & HannaH's Herb Discussion / New Nicotine-free Website up and running
« Last post by Little Feather on August 10, 2017, 06:26:58 AM »



Many Smokes Herbal  Smoke Blends:    http://www.manysmokes.com/

People have dried and smoked plants throughout history for a wide variety of reasons. Social bonding, recreation, medicine, and spiritual ceremonies have all shaped the history and ritual of smoking herbs. Mixtures can offer a variety of effects from calming the body and mind, to encouraging dreams, to helping transition out of a tobacco habit, treating asthma, increasing sexual powers, focusing your attention.  Browse through our wide selection of blends and pipes.

We offer prompt shipment and reasonable shipping rates.  Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have:  Herm.NaturesPace@Earthlink.net


Our flavorful organic and wild-crafted smoke mixes are blended with care in small batches and contain no synthetic ingredients or tobacco. We’ve chosen organically grown herbs that are gentle, tasty, smooth, and inspire tranquility. Ideal for rolling your own herbal cigarettes or enjoying out of a pipe, our all natural loose-leaf blends are a great legal choice, and an ideal alternative to tobacco cigarettes.  We offer a fine selection of  reasonably priced pipes and accessories as well as  Organic culinary herbs, medicinal herbs and herbal tinctures and oils.   Many Smokes are produced by Nature's Pace Sanctuary, an income-sharing Spiritual Community in the Missouri Ozark Mountains
7
 Meet The Blogger

Bob Schneider

Bob has spent more than 40 years in politics, more than 20 years on the national level working in Washington, DC in a variety of roles. His policy areas of expertise are Foreign Policy, Defense, Appropriations, and Trade Policy. In his time in Washington, he worked on some of the most contentious issues to come before the Congress, and Administration. Semi-retired, he now writes and lectures on politics. He also collects and writes about art.






This was not an easy decision to make.  Politics is like one's religion, you just don't change it unless you have a moment of clarity and realize you are on the wrong path.  My family's involvement in the GOP goes all the way back to the mid-1850s and the start of the GOP in Illinois.

My Mother's family helped organize the GOP in Illinois.  They were opposed to one human being owning another human being as chattel.  They found slavery morally repugnant and were zealots in advocating its demise. My family has been GOP blue-blood.

That is how far back my roots run in the GOP.  I have no roots in the Democratic Party.  However, it is time for me to lay some down.

There are things I don't like about the Democratic Party.  There are people in the Democratic Party I dislike as much as I dislike Donald Trump.  So, why not remain an independent?  There is a good reason for that.

In America, if you want to bring about change, if you want to be an agent of change and not a voice in the wilderness you must belong to one of one of the two political parties.  I was a party faithful for the GOP.  I often turned my nose up and voted for the GOP nominee no matter what.  Some were good men and women, in fact, outstanding men and women.  Others were as dumb as a rock and were still fighting the Civil War. I voted for them anyway.

Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner are the two men who drove this decision for me.  They are twins.  Rauner is Trump in a more presentable form.  He is careful to not give to Trump, or mention his name because he knows it is the kiss of death in Illinois to support Trump. Bruce Rauner betrayed me.  I worked to help elect him in 2014 and he lied to me.  He is as corrupt as any Governor we have ever had.

Trump loves to attack his critics and is particularly harsh on Republicans who don't kiss his ring.  Have you noticed that Trump has not skewered Rauner for his lack of PUBLIC support for Trump?  Curious, don't you think?  He will criticize Chicago, he will criticize the Mayor, he will beat up on everyone except two in Illinois: Fellow billionaire and ideological twin Bruce Rauner, and Speaker Mike Madigan.  Why Madigan?  You might want to look at whose law firm handles tax matters for Trump Tower in Chicago.

Why I left the GOP:

Hate and paranoia have become an ideological principle in the GOP.  The common view is the poor are thieves and stealing taxpayer's money.  They point to social programs as having failed to end poverty.  Social programs are not designed to end poverty.  They are designed to keep you alive while an individual tries to find another pathway in life.

They hate education.  Their steadfast crusade to end public education, to deny it money is an attack on our future.  I went to public schools, including a public university.  I received a good education, from dedicated teachers and professors.  That should be preserved and not torn to shreds.

They are trade protectionists and isolationists.  This is the final betrayal of Ronald Reagan.

They blame the victims.  In fact, they have a false victimhood that they are actually the victims of the poor.  They point to a mother on food stamps with an iPhone in her hand as "evidence" of theft.  Did they ever stop to think that maybe a family member in better circumstances gave her that iPhone?

With competition, which the GOP claims is a very conservative idea, the prices on smartphones have dropped dramatically along with the cost of service.  Why shouldn't a poor person have access to the rest of the world?  Their view that I've read a hundred times if I have read it once.  The resentment of the poor only continues the poverty and despair of the poor.

The GOP hates the poor.  They are only interested in self.  Everything with the GOP today is "I."  There is no "we" in their dialogue.  In the GOP rant about the poor, they go out of their way to admonish the poor for being poor.  They treat them without dignity and try to destroy all hope for the poor.

The GOP is xenophobic.  The day we lose the melting pot is the day we lose America.  I wrote about that yesterday which you can read by clicking here.

Education is the key to ending poverty.  See my comment above about the GOP views on education.

The GOP is overtly racist and unapologetic for it.   They can talk about how much they love Israel but that doesn't stop them from being anti-semitic.  They love the Jews "over there," but the Jews under their very noses?  Not so much.  This week, I have been told I am a kike which is not a term of endearment and told there is an oven with my name on it.  I belong in an oven because I don't agree with conservatives.  That sums up today's GOP.

Senator Toi Hutchinson, a Democratic State Senator has been called vile names, and references to her death have been common.  I was told by a member of the GOP just today that "that's just average citizens voicing an opinion."  You can read his comment by clicking this link, then read the comments at the bottom of the article. A day after publication, I'm still getting hate mail.

Why I'm joining the Democratic Party:

I am opposed to racism.  I abhor racism, bigotry, and antisemitism.  It is not "just an opinion" by "average citizens."  It is a vile practice that is to be stood against whenever, and wherever it happens.  The GOP is giving safe haven to the racists who flocked to the party after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.  Based on a principle of human dignity, the Democratic Party said goodbye to the racists and they ran into the outstretched arms of the GOP.

The Democratic Party may not agree, but they listen.  The far left is rigid and dogmatic but the average Democrat may not agree with you but they will listen to what you have to say.  I am pro business, and so is the Democratic Party.  It is now the home of Free Trade.  The GOP is now the home of trade protectionism.

The Democratic Party does not hate science.   They recognize throwing what we throw in the air and water will kill us all eventually.  Richard Nixon knew that too which is why he pushed for and signed into law the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.  As a result, the Great Lakes are no longer in danger of catching on fire as they were in the 60s and 70s.  There are no more killer smogs that took lives.  For younger Republicans google killer smog and see what we used to contend with.  It was a problem Richard Nixon fixed, and now you are trying to break it again.

The Democratic Party supports collective bargaining.  I can't say I am in love with Unions, I am not in love with them.  However, I am in love with the Constitution of the USA and collective bargaining is a right under the First Amendment of the Constitution.  I support that right for the same reason I support the right to own a firearm under the Second Amendment of the Constitution.  If we find a way of end running any Amendment then we have just made the Constitution a meaningless document.

The Democratic Party believes everyone is entitled to dignity. The GOP is wrong on Healthcare along with nearly all social issues.  Their proposals strip the poor, the elderly, and minorities of basic human dignity.

This was not an easy step.  In the 80s, I was an advocate of trickle- down economics as the solution to our economic ills.  It is hard to admit I was wrong.  The theory sounds nice, but as evidence has shown, it is a myth.  Educated Republicans understand income distribution is out of whack and are seeking ways of correcting the ill.  They are running up against the rank ignorance brought into the party and exploited by the party.

I spoke with a relative who is still solid GOP and he acknowledged all my concerns as being factual.  He asked me to stay in the party and fight for its soul.  There is nothing left to fight for.  His comment about a soul was interesting.  That is the problem with the GOP.  It has lost its soul.

It has no compassion, it has no empathy, it is just a collection of self-centered individuals who care about nothing outside of their own lives.  There is not a bigger picture, there is only self-absorption with the GOP.

I'll pass on the GOP.  As far as I am concerned, write its eulogy.

Will I be welcomed into the Democratic Party with open arms?  That is highly doubtful.  Like the GOP, they are wary and suspicious of anyone who was not born into the party.  I won't be trusted, I won't be given party responsibilities or jobs as I was with the GOP.  What I do care about is I will have a voice in the debate.  As a member of the party, they can't exclude me.  My voice will be heard.  From what I have experienced so far, excluding people is a GOP move for control and not something the Democrats tend to do.

I am now a Democrat.  As I look at the words, there is a tinge of remorse and sadness.  Sad because of what the GOP that I spent a lifetime serving has become.   As I look at the words, I also realize I have recaptured my soul.  That is not a statement the GOP can truthfully make.

I pray they can recapture it one day, but I don't think I will see it in my lifetime.  You have to have empathy to have a soul.

If you like this article and would like to subscribe, fill out the box below.  The subscription is free, spam free, and you can cancel at any time.  Thank you for reading and thank you in advance for subscribing!

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Filed under: America, antisemitism, Civil Rights, Democratic Party, empathy, Hate, Illinois Budget, Illinois politics, Illinois State Legislature, Political hate, Politics, Racism, Republican Party

Tags: Donald Trump, GOP Racism, Governor Bruce Rauner, Hate, Healthcare, isolationism, Join the Democratic Party, Leave the GOP become a Democrat, political division, public education, Racism, Senator Toi Hutchinson, Speaker Mike Madigan, the poor in America, Trade Protectionism, trickle down, xenophobia
9
In the News / Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate
« Last post by Little Feather on February 22, 2017, 10:54:24 AM »
Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population.”  This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture.

Research published today (Feb. 22) in Bioscience suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The assertion that we need to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by the data, argues Mitch Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy, in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. He says the analysis shows that production needs to keep increasing, but not as fast as many have claimed.

However, clarifying future food demand is only part of the story.

“In the coming decades, agriculture will be called upon to both feed people and ensure a healthy environment," said Hunter. "Right now, the narrative in agriculture is really out of balance, with compelling goals for food production but no clear sense of the progress we need to make on the environment. To get the agriculture we want in 2050, we need quantitative targets for both food production and environmental impacts.”

A review of recent trends in agriculture's environmental impacts shows that they are increasing and must drop dramatically to maintain clean water and stabilize the climate, according to the researchers.

Specifying quantitative targets, the researchers contend, will clarify the scope of the challenges that agriculture must face in the coming decades, focusing research and policy on achieving specific outcomes. A review of recent trends in agriculture’s environmental impacts shows that they are increasing and must drop dramatically to maintain clean water and stabilize the climate, according to the researchers. 
           
Specifying quantitative targets, the researchers contend, will clarify the scope of the challenges that agriculture must face in the coming decades, focusing research and policy on achieving specific outcomes.
         
“Food production and environmental protection must be treated as equal parts of agriculture’s grand challenge,” says study co-author David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology, Penn State.
       
These new findings have important implications for farmers. Lower demand projections may suggest that prices will not rise as much as expected in coming decades. However, the authors note that economic forecasting models already are based on up-to-date quantitative projections, so price forecasts may not be affected greatly by this new analysis. 
       
At the same time, farmers will need to ramp up efforts to hold nutrients on their fields, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health.
       
 This analysis builds on the two most commonly cited food-demand projections, one from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and one led by David Tilman, a prominent ecologist at the University of Minnesota. Hunter and his colleagues did not dispute these underlying projections; they simply updated them to help reframe the narrative.
       
“Both of these projections are credible and important, but the baseline years they used are over a decade past now, and global production has ramped up considerably in that time,” Hunter explained.

So, while Tilman’s study showed that the world will demand 100 percent more calories in 2050 than in 2005, that is the equivalent of only a 68 percent increase over production levels in 2014, the most recent year with available data. To meet the FAO projection, which used different assumptions and projected lower demand, production would have to increase only 26 percent from 2014 levels.
 
“Given how much production has increased recently, it is pretty misleading to continue to argue that we need to double our crop output by 2050,” Hunter said.

Aiming to double food production makes it much harder to move the needle on our environmental challenges.

“To double food production, we would have to increase global agricultural output faster than we ever have before, and we are at a point in the developed world where we already are pushing our farming systems to the max. We don’t know how to double yields in these systems, especially without multiplying our environmental impacts,” Hunter said.

Despite increased discussion of sustainability in agriculture, the common narrative that we need to drastically increase food production is seldom challenged in agricultural circles, according to the researchers. This is partly because definitions of sustainability vary widely, ranging from not “increasing agriculture’s environmental footprint” to achieving “major reductions in environmental impact.”

The researchers present hard data and quantitative goals to help clear up this confusion. For global greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin, the data show that agriculture’s environmental performance is going in the wrong direction, with aggregate impacts steadily increasing. Science-based goals indicate that these impacts must fall sharply over the coming decades to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and reduce the size of the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

The authors argue for research and policy efforts to help identify production methods that can meet growing global food demand while also hitting sustainability targets.

“Even with lower demand projections, growing enough food while protecting the environment will be a daunting challenge,” Hunter said. “We call on researchers, policymakers and farmers to embrace this recalibrated vision of the future of agriculture and start working toward these goals.”

Also contributing to the research were Richard Smith, associate professor, and Lesley Atwood, doctoral degree candidate, both in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham; and Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this work.

###Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population.”  This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture.

Research published today (Feb. 22) in Bioscience suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The assertion that we need to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by the data, argues Mitch Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy, in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. He says the analysis shows that production needs to keep increasing, but not as fast as many have claimed.

However, clarifying future food demand is only part of the story.

“In the coming decades, agriculture will be called upon to both feed people and ensure a healthy environment," said Hunter. "Right now, the narrative in agriculture is really out of balance, with compelling goals for food production but no clear sense of the progress we need to make on the environment. To get the agriculture we want in 2050, we need quantitative targets for both food production and environmental impacts.”

A review of recent trends in agriculture's environmental impacts shows that they are increasing and must drop dramatically to maintain clean water and stabilize the climate, according to the researchers.

Specifying quantitative targets, the researchers contend, will clarify the scope of the challenges that agriculture must face in the coming decades, focusing research and policy on achieving specific outcomes. A review of recent trends in agriculture’s environmental impacts shows that they are increasing and must drop dramatically to maintain clean water and stabilize the climate, according to the researchers. 
           
Specifying quantitative targets, the researchers contend, will clarify the scope of the challenges that agriculture must face in the coming decades, focusing research and policy on achieving specific outcomes.
         
“Food production and environmental protection must be treated as equal parts of agriculture’s grand challenge,” says study co-author David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology, Penn State.
       
These new findings have important implications for farmers. Lower demand projections may suggest that prices will not rise as much as expected in coming decades. However, the authors note that economic forecasting models already are based on up-to-date quantitative projections, so price forecasts may not be affected greatly by this new analysis. 
       
At the same time, farmers will need to ramp up efforts to hold nutrients on their fields, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health.
       
 This analysis builds on the two most commonly cited food-demand projections, one from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and one led by David Tilman, a prominent ecologist at the University of Minnesota. Hunter and his colleagues did not dispute these underlying projections; they simply updated them to help reframe the narrative.
       
“Both of these projections are credible and important, but the baseline years they used are over a decade past now, and global production has ramped up considerably in that time,” Hunter explained.

So, while Tilman’s study showed that the world will demand 100 percent more calories in 2050 than in 2005, that is the equivalent of only a 68 percent increase over production levels in 2014, the most recent year with available data. To meet the FAO projection, which used different assumptions and projected lower demand, production would have to increase only 26 percent from 2014 levels.
 
“Given how much production has increased recently, it is pretty misleading to continue to argue that we need to double our crop output by 2050,” Hunter said.

Aiming to double food production makes it much harder to move the needle on our environmental challenges.

“To double food production, we would have to increase global agricultural output faster than we ever have before, and we are at a point in the developed world where we already are pushing our farming systems to the max. We don’t know how to double yields in these systems, especially without multiplying our environmental impacts,” Hunter said.

Despite increased discussion of sustainability in agriculture, the common narrative that we need to drastically increase food production is seldom challenged in agricultural circles, according to the researchers. This is partly because definitions of sustainability vary widely, ranging from not “increasing agriculture’s environmental footprint” to achieving “major reductions in environmental impact.”

The researchers present hard data and quantitative goals to help clear up this confusion. For global greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin, the data show that agriculture’s environmental performance is going in the wrong direction, with aggregate impacts steadily increasing. Science-based goals indicate that these impacts must fall sharply over the coming decades to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and reduce the size of the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

The authors argue for research and policy efforts to help identify production methods that can meet growing global food demand while also hitting sustainability targets.

“Even with lower demand projections, growing enough food while protecting the environment will be a daunting challenge,” Hunter said. “We call on researchers, policymakers and farmers to embrace this recalibrated vision of the future of agriculture and start working toward these goals.”

Also contributing to the research were Richard Smith, associate professor, and Lesley Atwood, doctoral degree candidate, both in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham; and Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this work.

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10
Real Life / Up Late? Looks Like Our Paleo Ancestors Didn't Sleep Much Either
« Last post by Little Feather on February 02, 2017, 08:49:10 AM »


In America, it seems only unicorns get seven or eight hours of sleep a night, and the rest of us suffer. But people may be meant to sleep as little as 6 1/2 hours nightly and were doing so long before the advent of electricity and smartphones, researchers say.

To find that out, they consulted with some of the few people on the planet who live roughly the same lifestyle humans did in the Paleolithic.

Psychiatrist and sleep researcher Jerome Siegel at UCLA's Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior started studying three different hunter-gatherer groups in Africa and South America. "All three don't have any electricity, don't have any of the sort of modern electronic developments that many think have reduced our sleep," he says.

Those hunter-gatherers spent about seven or eight hours a night in bed, but they slept for just five to seven of those hours, according to the study, published Thursday in Current Biology. "It's clear that the amount of sleep that all of these groups get is at the low end of what we'd see in the United States today," Siegel says. Sleeping that little has been linked to everything from shorter life span to stomach problems and weight gain in industrial societies.

But unlike many people in the United States or Europe who sleep less than seven hours a night, members of the Hadza in Tanzania, San in Namibia, and Tsimane in Bolivia tend to be very healthy. There's virtually no obesity, many have very long lives, and nearly everyone in these societies does not have trouble sleeping. "Approximately 20 percent of our population complains of chronic insomnia at some point," Siegel says. "The two groups we quizzed on this don't have a word for insomnia."

That raises a lot of questions about why we think we need eight hours of shuteye. "That classic teaching that adults need seven or eight hours of sleep has to do with population-based evidence," says Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, a sleep expert at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine who was not involved with the study. "This paper questions, is that data flawed? And if so, how or why? Or it could be that the sleep we're getting is lower quality, and we need more of it to feel restored?"

Siegel thinks that might be because we evolved in the environment's natural 24-hour pattern of light and temperature, but we're cut off from that rhythm now. By contrast, these hunter-gatherers go to sleep a few hours after sunset, when the night gets chilly. They wake up when the day begins warming from the sunrise.

Following Earth's natural tempo in this way could improve the quality of their sleep, says Kristen Knutson, a sleep researcher and biomedical anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Our bodies' core temperature also cycles this way, regardless of air conditioning or heating. "If their sleep is following the environment's temperature rhythm more closely and naturally, then their sleep quality may indeed be better than what is happening in the United States," she says.

Researchers already know that light and temperature play an important role in sleep. Light can reverse jet lag and help set internal clocks, and people fall asleep more easily when their core body temperature falls. This all could contribute to why hunter-gatherers' sleep less than we do on average, Gurubhagavatula says.

And it could also mean that many non-hunter-gatherers may not need to sleep eight or more hours a night. "I think the beauty of this current study is that maybe we shouldn't be ramming this requirement down [every person's] throat so to speak," she says.

That's not to say that there aren't lots of people who are incredibly sleep-deprived, Gurubhagavatula says. Light and temperature aren't the only things dictating how much we sleep. "It's our activity and diet and stress level. I see patients who are single parents and have three jobs, and they'll be lucky to have five hours of sleep and are tired all the time." Those people need more sleep.

There are other habitual short sleepers in our society — truck drivers, graduate students, and idiot reporters who should know better — with lifestyles vastly different from a hunter-gatherer. "[They're] not the same as someone in our society who only sleeps 6 1/2 hours," says Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a sleep researcher at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. So it could be unhealthy for people in industrial societies to sleep that little.

What's natural for a hunter-gatherer might not be natural for everyone, Siegel agrees. "I don't think we could just fling someone back into an equatorial lifestyle, and that'll be entirely beneficial," he says. But he's excited about other possibilities. If hunter-gatherers are sleeping better because they're more in tune with the daily temperature cycle, maybe we can do the same by programming thermostats to echo conditions outside. "That's a specific aim of my next grant," he says.

Angus Rohan Chen is a reporter and radio producer living in New York City. He has a dry wit and no hobbies.

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    early humans
    anthropology
    sleep
    sleep deprivation

   
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