A Instagram page on food philosophy and affordable health through real food, developed into a series of zines by the same name.
Where Do Bananas Come From?
EAT SHIT & DIE
Chicken of Tomorrow
654. When you don't have a car, but need lots of soil for your new growing space. This is my new trailer, made from cheap and scrap wood, my old bike wheels, and a few pieces of steel so I don't actually kill myself. Changing up the scooter game!
First test runs moved 150lbs of compost and then 300lbs of soil with no problem. I'm guessing that the limit might be in the 500lbs range but I'm not tryin to push it yet. But now I can finally start moving soil! Gonna get the big new space looking right this weekend if anyone wants to join. Also getting chickens on Saturday! Stay tuned!
🌱CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS! ✊🏽
Good food is the basis of good life. That security of knowing you can get quality, healthful food to you and your family is the foundation for establishing a safe, nourishing, and fruitful community and life. So for the last few months I’ve been working with @RVAFoodJustice to do just that.
We are focusing on much more than food access, but working on food policy and addressing inequities in the communities that are most burdened by the school-to-prison pipeline. Recently, we’ve partnered with the City government to work on policy change surrounding this. We want to change the laws that surround our food systems. For instance, London recently outlawed all junk food advertisements on public transit. And California has banned a number of foods that are for sale in the rest of the country because they’ve labeled them carcinogens (cancerous). Meaning @Starbucks needs to have a different menu, a cancer-free menu, for California.
We are advocating for change, not through telling people what’s right, but by asking them what they want to see, and showing them the possibilities for change in their town. We plan to be out in the community and talking to atleast 2,000 people over the next couple months, using those conversations as opportunities for education as well. F.E.E.D. The Culture is this endeavor.
We are looking for volunteers for this effort. And we need a lot. It is not a big commitment, we just need a lot of people. Since we are going to be working in mostly black and brown communities, we’d prefer volunteers to also be people of color so we can make a real difference.
If you would like to help with this, or future work of @RVAFoodJustice, please please please DM me. Or please share this with anyone you think may be interested. We can make some major moves here. And the need is urgent.
652. There's a gaping divide on how people view GMOs, so here's a bit of clarity.
First, the term Genetically Modified Organism (GMO, also known as genetically engineered, GE) is used differently by different people. For some, the hybridization and cultivation of crops for 10,000 years is genetic modification. For the purpose of this explanation, I will focus on modern transgenic plants and organisms.
GMO supporters back the idea that they'll bring incredible yields, end world hunger, and produce super-plants of the future. They haven't. GMO opposers fear that GMOs will ruin agriculture, reap havoc on human health, and destroy the equilibrium of Nature. They haven't. To organize this, I will break the topics down in the affects of GMOs on people, on agriculture, and on the environment and how much of the arguments on either side are focused on the wrong points.
1) GMOs on people:
The studies on GMOs have not proven them explicitly unsafe, nor have they proven them 100% safe. The tests and studies have essentially said they are safe enough to not worry about. But let me explain.
The majority of studies, as in every food/health field, are funded by big ag and industry, because studies require big money. Secondly, and more strikingly, because of company patents on GMOs (we'll get more into that later), public scientists who want to study GMOs can't, until the company's license on the product expires. They have to ask permission of the company before conducting any studies, and you can imagine how these patents and fundings can create substantial bias. However, all GMOs on the market have been tested for general safety by government agencies - to what degree, though, that is debatable. As many of those license protections expire within the next 5 years, we can expect a lot of new info to come out.
It's important we also talk about broader health. When we are looking at the healthiness of GMOs, what are we comparing it to? Are we comparing GMO tomatoes to organic tomatoes, are we comparing GMO tomatoes to cheetos? Are we comparing GMO cheetos to organic Cheetos?
651. My soil test results, swipe for close up.
A major part of us reclaiming self determination is visualization of the process. So even if most of yall won’t do half of the things I post about, I believe that just becoming familiar with the opportunity is so important. So here is what a soil test report looks like. Post 641 spoke a bit about the process/ significance. It only took a few minutes if work, and $10.
From looking at the soil, seeing the great variety in healing plants, the density of greenery, not seeing any dead spots, and knowing that the yard had remained untilled and unsprayed for years, told me that the soil would be healthy. This page outlines the nutrients that the soil is Very High (VH) in and what the soil js Sufficient (SUFF) in.
It gives me the pH (its very slightly acidic, but basically neutral), which is at a good range for most crops. The buffer index tells me how much additional like they would recommend, which is relatively high because of how clay the soil is.
The Estimated Cation exchange capacity (Est.-CEC) is the ability for soil to hold onto water and nutrients and maintain healthy pH. The higher the number, the more clay and organic matter there is. Sand gets about a 2, and clays can range from 10 to 100. My rating of 14.6 suggests a good amount of organic matter will be helpful.
The base saturation (Base Sat.) tells me the saturation of basic nutrients calcium, magnesium, potassium, hydrogen, and sodium. The high number is reflective of a nutritious soil, but a heavy soil.
The calcium concentration is a little high, most people suggesting 80% is the max, and so addition of other minerals (in the form of organic matter) will be helpful. Too much calcium can interfere with general nutrient uptake. This is also why mg and k are on the lower end.
There are so many variables to go along with this, including where you are, what your soil’s physical characteristics are, and what you plan to grow. Luckily, I am planning to continue no-till work and add a bunch of organic material anyways, this just tells me where to lean.
NOTE: this did not test lead, and I will need to follow up about that.
650. When I first started making #bread, my thinking was that I needed to force together the protein compounds gliadin and glutenin that combine to make gluten. By kneading hard, and throwing the dough around sometimes, I was thinking that more gluten was being created, allowing more air to be held in bubbles, giving a fluffier bread. I now realize that's counterintuitive.
Since I make strictly 100% whole wheat bread, making the most gluten is crucial to making a fluffy result. But my recent research has changed my methods.
Instead of operating by brute force, the most amazing chemistry in nature happens gently, often in water, and with time. So my new recipe for sourdough tries to learn from these lessons and is so much easier. My original method was: add all my flour, water, and starter together, knead the dough, and then try to incorporate air bubbles by stretching and folding a bunch of times. Bake and hope those bubbles stay.
My new thinking is: fully activate the yeast through ample water and air, wait. Fold in more flour and as much air as possible, wait. And then bake and allow those many small air pockets to expand.
To do so, I mix 1/2 cup of starter with ~ 1.5 cups of flour and ~ 1.5 cups of water. I combine them by stirring with a wooden spoon, with the bowl angled towards me so that instead of just mixing, I am gently 'folding in' air. Do this for 100 folds.
Yeast needs air to thrive, and so more air = healthy yeast. The gluten needs water and time to develop, and so the consistency we want is thick mud that the proteins can easily expand through. Let it sit 8 hours. (I don't add salt yet, as it can inhibit yeast growth.) I often do this first step before I go to work, and then finish when i get home.
Photo 2 is after 8 hours, not much has visually changed, but the gluten content is super high. Now I fold in a spoon of salt and also more flour, little by little, so that it goes from mud to dough ball. As the dough gets drier and harder to mix with a spoon, I use my hands. Instead of kneading on a board, I hold the bowl with my left hand, and with my right I stretch and fold the dough in a scoop & pinch, pull & tuck, method.
649. (Sound on). Back from the desert now and water is really on my mind. Here is a dope short film (12 minutes) that yall should watch. The (free) link is in my bio.
It talks about the current water situation in Cape Town, South Africa. Due to ongoing drought, the city is in a shortage, so much so that law enforcement is being used to control water usage. However, while poor and black people are getting arrested for washing cars, wealthy and white people are chillin on their watered golf courses. All the while, everyone is waiting on "Day Zero", when the water supply will be turned off.
To further complicate this, South Africa, a relatively wealthy country of 52 million people, is a pretty dry place. The small (population of 2 million), poorer country of Lesotho, which South Africa completely surrounds, is a mountainous, rainy country. Years ago, Lesotho sold much of its surplus water supply to the surrounding South Africa in a mutual trade of wealth for resources. Now, Lesotho, too, is facing drought. And farmers who once grazed their livestock with no issue are having to walk their herds dozens of miles more to find grass. Or, they have to go into South Africa to buy grain that was produced with the water Lesotho sells.
These complicated water economics are not foreign to the U.S. by any means, and they are leading to more and more tragedies like lead in the water in Flint, years of water rationings in Puerto Rico, and the drying up of counties in California, in order to supply water to almond and pomegranate fields that get largely exported. While we talk “food justice” and “food access” now, we aren’t far from “water justice” and “water access.”
We talk about water wars as distant future occurrences, but the battles have already started. Standing Rock was a battle. Every fight against every new pipeline or mining or threat to a waterbody is a battle. All water is connected. All water is life. And all water must be protected.
Go watch this great short film, “Scenes from A Dry City” by Simon Wood (@shadydocumentarian) and Francois Verster. Link in my bio.
648. Life begets life. All other living beings, besides modern humans, are smart enough to follow one rule: if you want to survive as a species, you need to plan for 10, 20, 100 generations in the future. We make the beds today that our descendants will sleep on.
Still out in the desert and learning a lot from these plants that manage to survive extreme heat, dryness, and wind, living in soils nearly nutrient-empty. As more and more of the planet desertifies, it’s becoming critically important that we learn from the survivors of those landscapes. And when you recognize that the one of oldest organisms still alive is a creosote bush just north of here, estimated at currently 11,700 years old, you know we got a lot of learning to do.
In this instance, out here in the extremes, these plants grow in bundles. A strong bush gets its start during a particularly cool and wet few years, and as it matures, it is creating space for more to plants to thrive in. The bush provides a windbreak and shelter for birds and mammals to hide out, and fertilize. It digs roots down to bring buried minerals to the surface, and spreads roots out to collect as much air and water as possible, transforming the spot that they stand in into a relative oasis for other plants to grow in. And then it provides space for bugs to come to and might make some flowers to bring pollinators, and this succession develops a robust ecosystem. The roots of the bush act as the brilliant brains and communication, telling the surrounding, more fragile plants important information like when to clamp down for intense drought, or when to get ready to absorb as much water as we can from a short rain. Scientists that have been studying bushes and grasses that live in the most extreme environments have isolated fungi that make survival possible, by living on the roots and giving the plant the game plan. They take that fungi and inoculate seeds with it, giving a new skill of extreme survival to common plants. A similar fungal system exists in trees and all perennials (bushes, etc), and so we can receive the same benefits by planting bushes in our growing spaces.
647. Alex and I are out in the California deserts for a week and this place is a TRIP. Specifically we’re in the Coachella Valley, where the music festival, Coachella, is for the hyper wealthy, and it happens next door to the city, Coachella, which is 97% Latino, with an average income barely above poverty. And that story of contradiction runs DEEP here.
California grows most of our fresh food, including over 97% of the country’s: grapes, walnuts, peaches, pomegranates, dates, figs, kiwis, olives, tomatoes, pistachios, and garlic. And atleast 90% of a whole lot of other things from strawberries to broccoli. You get the idea.
The majority of food production happens in the center of the state, but a truly surprising amount is grown in the desert. In this massive state, nearly half of it is forrest, there are so many mountains, and there are so many people. So ultimately just 27% of the land is used to grow food. So people squeeze as much food as they can out of the place.
Nearly 1/5 of the state is desert and while it is the worst possible place for Nature to grow food, it can be a great place for Capitalism to grow food, if the price is right.
In terms of expenses, generally, farmers are spending money on land (the more ready-to-grow, the more expensive), maintenance, equipment, and resources (fertilizers, etc), and in this case, on water, a lot of it.
In many respects this is perfect for modern farming - the growing medium is so void of nutrients that farms add exactly what their particular crop needs, getting it down to a science. Weeds are not much of a problem and the weather is incredibly predictable. Since no one wants to grow shit, the land is way cheaper than average and since it’s so warm, crops are ready for harvest at a different time than the prime real estate more north.
But to suit these needs, the farmer needs to use more synthetic fertilizers every season, since they are ultimately growing in sand, they need to employee a lot of human labor since most large machines are overkill and not made for here, but they need to employ labor as cheaply as possible, because they will also need to pay to pump in so so much water.
646. Fannie Lou Hamer grew up in Mississippi, one of the most violently racist states in the U.S. Not only did white Mississippians very violently suppress integration, it’s said that the state was one of the last to really develop a klan organization, because the general public did the work of the klan already. The rise of the klan came hand in hand with black people’s will and organization to register to vote, Fannie Lou Hamer famously a key player in this work. (Mississippi opposed integration so much, that in 2016, a federal judge ordered a town in Mississippi to desegregate its schools, and over 40 similar desegregation suits in Mississippi were still waiting to be settled by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014).
Amongst so many things, she’s known for organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer and the Freedom Democratic Party, which served to overthrow the entire Mississippi Democratic party on the terms of they weren’t acting very democratic. Fannie Lou’s work was so important and her voice so powerful, that when she contested the democratic party on the national stage alongside Dr. King and others, President Lyndon Johnson made sure she wouldn’t be heard live. Dr. King was able to be broadcast live, but Johnson coordinated a bullshit press conference set to go live as soon as Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony started. Johnson announced the 9 *month* anniversary of something. 🙄
What Fannie Lou Hamer is less famous for is her agricultural work. Her family, like so many millions of poor black families, sharecropped, and faced some of the roughest living in the country. She knew struggle, and she recognized that people will never be free if they cannot feed themselves. So starting in 1969, she worked tirelessly to develop the Freedom Farm Co-op which gave farming access to over 1,500 families, growing cash crops to pay for the land, and giving the rest of the acreage so people could grow for themselves. She brilliantly recognized the needs for community-developed wealth, and change from the bottom up.
Continued below. 📸 by amazing black photographer Louis H. Draper (1935-2002).
645. We don’t truly recognize the value and necessity of #sleep. Surface level, we know we need to get rest, but in this super fast, hyper productive, capitalist world, where sleep is the cousin of death, we don’t give sleep the real respect it deserves.
Science breaks sleep down into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and NREM (non-REM) sleep. REM is when we dream, and the stages of NREM are the transition to sleeping and the slowing of the brain and body. These cycles alternate throughout the night, leaning more on REM as the night goes on. All parts of sleep are important, but since entire books are written on the subject, I’m just going to focus on the surface level importance of quality sleep, every night.
8 hours of sleep has been the product of tens of thousands of years of human development, and suddenly we've chopped off 20% of it, the average American getting just 6 hours.
Sleep is important for the body: it’s when we are repairing our muscles, organs, and immunity. Poor sleep can shorten our time to physical exhaustion by as much as 30%, meaning you can do 7/10 the amount of work on bad sleep as on good sleep. Being up all night is tied to major diseases - night shift workers having higher cases of heart disease - and there is direct correlation between less sleep and more sports injuries.
Poor sleep is bad for the brain: our brains are actually very active while we sleep, replaying the events of the day and learning from the patterns of today (it’s the most effective learning tool we have), and dreams serve to navigate and explore the potential of tomorrow. During REM sleep, some parts of the brain become more active than when we’re awake: visual, motor parts, emotional centers, and memory centers increase, but the prefrontal cortex, the rational, logical part of the brain gets shut off. So this is why we’re so visual, so emotional, and why dreams can be so full of movement and action, but so irrational and free from the logical limits of life.
Dreams are exploring so much, digging through memories and testing out hopes, that during REM your brain paralyzes your body so your brain can dream safely. Continued below. 📸 @alexmatzke