“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.



Washington State’s Initiative 522, requiring mandatory labeling on all genetically engineered foods has garnered enough signatures to move forward in the legislative process. The initiative sponsored by Chris McManus of Tacoma has found nation-wide support in the fight against undisclosed exposure to GMO’s, picking up where similar legislation in California left off this last November after being narrowly defeated in a grassroots campaign despite being out-spent by corporate opposition by over five to one. The bill now moves on to the state legislature where it may be, enacted, or modified before being put to ballot. Lawmakers do not typically enact initiatives directly, so it is likely that Washington residents will be casting a vote on the issue in this November’s election cycle.

Read more at The Seattle Times.

It’s important to stop every now and then, and remember that we’re part of something bigger, and that our every thought and action is a reflection of that.



A Timelapse Journey with Nature: 2009-2011
from Henry Jun Wah Lee www.evosia.com

While conducting analysis for potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Safety Authority (EFSA) has made a discovery raising big questions about the safety of the controversial technology and the effectiveness of our regulation models. A significant fragment of a viral gene known as Gene VI that aside from being potentially unsafe for human consumption, may also disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their resistance to disease and pests. The discovery can only be understated as an embarrassment for the regulatory agency that has been approving the use of the affected products, including some of the most widely grown GMOs such as Roundup-ready soybeans and maize, for over twenty years.



European Union regulations call for monitoring of all GMO crops to allow for records of illness or death reported by farmers and health professionals, which should be usefull in tracing any patterns. Unfortunately, not one member of the EU has carried through on promises to scientifically monitor for any negative consequences resulting from the use of GMOs.

Faced with the discovery of the potential hazard, the agency was left with a hard decision to make. Do they issue an immediate recall of all GM products containing the Gene VI fragment, or launch a retrospective risk assessment to determine if any ill effects have resulted from its use. The political and financial implications of a recall quickly steered the agency toward the risk assessment which has since been carried out and clearly indicates a potential for serious harm. The only option left consistent with the scientific findings and the agency’s role of protecting the public would be a total recall which has yet to be announced.

Read more at www.IndependentScienceNews.org

At six-stories tall, the 50,000 square-foot Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington aims to be the greenest and most energy efficient commercial building in the world.

With a goal of changing the way buildings are designed, the Bullitt Center seeks to improve long-term environmental performance and promote broader implementation of energy efficiency and resource management, raising the bar for renewable energy and other green building technologies in the Northwest.


Living Proof: Building the Bullitt Center from Brad Kahn on Vimeo.

A solar array on the buildings roof will generate as much electricity as it uses, while rain-catchment systems will provide fresh water with all waste water treated onsite. Fresh air and ample sunlight exposure will create a pleasant, healthy and more productive human environment than most commercial buildings.

For more information visit the Bullitt Center’s official website: www.bullittcenter.org

From our friends at Green Willow Grains.
Serves 4 to 6, generously


    Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Greenwillow Grains HARD RED WHEAT BERRIES
  • 1/2 cup toasted pepitas (I toasted them in the oven with olive oil and salt)
  • 3 ounces ricotta salata or another salty cheese, crumbled or coarsely grated (about 3/4 cup) I used Myzithra cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

 

    Directions:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • 2. Peel squash, then halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut squash into approximately 3/4-inch chunks. Coat one large or two small baking sheets with 2 tablespoons oil total. Spread squash out in single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until pieces are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • 3. While squash is roasting, cook wheat berries in a large pot of simmering salted water until the grains are tender but chewy, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.
  • 4. While squash is roasting and wheat is simmering, in a small bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon table salt and granulated sugar until sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in onion; it will barely be covered by vinegar mixture but don’t worry. Cover and set in fridge until needed; 30 minutes is ideal but less time will still make a lovely, lightly pickled onion.
  • 5. In a large bowl, mix together butternut squash, wheat, red onion and its vinegar brine, the crumbled cheese and pepitas. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, use the 4th one only if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings. Eat now or later. Salad keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Green Willow Grains wheat berries are available for purchase at the Portland State University Farmers Market, Saturdays from 9am – 2pm.

Granola

featured in: Recipes

From our friends at Green Willow Grains.


    Ingredients:

  • 3 cups GREENWILLOW GRAINS ROLLED OATS
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (1 oz)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas (1 1/2 oz; not roasted)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild honey
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch salt (flaky sea salt is wonderful in here)
  • 1 cup tart dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried pears (1/4 inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots (1/4 inch dice)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
    – or –
  • 2 3/4 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice (I used pears, figs and tart cherries)

 

    Directions:

  • 1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together all ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl until combined. Spread mixture evenly on a large (17-by 12-inch) shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, but checking every five minutes after the 15-minute mark because it burns quickly. Transfer granola, in pan, to rack to cool stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
  • 2. Stir in dried fruit.
  • 3. Granola keeps, frozen (the fruit’s moisture softens granola if not kept frozen) in an airtight container, a few months.

From our friends at Green Willow Grains.
Adapted from Marian Burros’ mama, via The New York Times

Alas, a puddle of brown soup is hard to make look like anything but. I was very tempted to swirl in a sherry cream or a dollop of dilled sour cream to pretty it up, and were I serving this for a dinner party or guests, I might. But there’s so much flavor, it doesn’t need it.

Makes about 7 cups

1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
1/2 cup GREENWILLOW GRAINS HARD RED WHEAT BERRIES
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water, and set aside for 20 minutes, or while you prepare the rest of the soup. Trim and slice mushrooms, then give them a rough chop to your desired texture.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes. Raise heat and add barley; sauté until it begins to color (this didn’t really happen for me, because the mushroom liquid was still sloshing about). Add broth, sherry and tomato paste. Drain porcinis and finely chop; strain mushroom-soaking liquid to remove any grit and add to pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender. Stir in sherry vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.

King Corn

featured in: Movies

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In the film, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.



Visit the official website at www.kingcorn.net
Stream instantly on your Netflix.com account.



Tapped

featured in: Movies

Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? Stephanie Soechtig’s debut feature is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water.



From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car and I.O.U.S.A., this timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never become a commodoty: our water.

From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this revelatory film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public’s right to water.

Visit the official website at www.tappedthemovie.com
Stream instantly on your Netflix.com account.