Food Chain Radio
“What’s Eating What” with Michael Olson
How will the price of gas affect the price of food? Is it safe to eat GMO (genetically modified foods) like corn? Why do they irradiate meat? Are we running short of water? What will happen if China drives our farmers out of the agriculture business? How secure is this food chain? Tune into Food Chain Radio for the most important issues of our times!
Every week– as he has for over 900 Saturdays – Michael Olson brings the most important issues of our lives to the table for an hour of Food Chain Radio and “What’s Eating What” radio that will feed your curiosity and make you hunger for more. Listen Live on Saturdays 9:00am-10:00am Pacific or Delayed on Demand
Award winning broadcaster, author, and keynote speaker Michael Olson has appeared on, or hosted, more han 1,000 TV and radio shows, written award winning books on agribusiness and urban farming, and has been published and quoted in hundreds of magazines, newspapers and websites.
Food Chain Radio is syndicated on commercial radio stations throughout the U. S. (radio station affiliates) and streamed live and on demand everywhere via the internet.
Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
#932 • August 31, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Guests: Beverly Bell & Tory Field, Co-Authors Harvesting Justice
Farming Food Sovereignty
Is profit the means or the obstacle to food sovereignty?
In the 1920s, the British government controlled all the salt in India, and forced Indians to pay a tax for the essential nutrient.
In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi led a 240 mile march from his ashram to the seacoast village of Dandi to make salt in direct contravention to British authority. When Gandhi broke the British Raj salt laws by making salt, he was joined by millions of others, thus precipitating a movement that resulted in the independence of the Indian people.
Though there are no longer any laws that grant monopoly control over essential foods, there is economic consolidation, and rules and regulations, that attempt to affect the same end. Thus throughout the world people still must rely on being granted access to the essential foods controlled by others.
Like Indians making salt, many throughout the world are striving to farm their way to “food sovereignty.” Though their efforts take them in many different directions, they all seem to be searching for the energy that will power up their farms and keep them running. This effort leads us to ask…
Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
#932 • August 24, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Guests: Farmers Christian & Stephanie Alexadre
& Cornucopia Food Policy Analyst Mark Kastel
Playing Chicken with Organic Eggs
For whom will government food safety rules make organic eggs safe?
The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed by Congress in the waning moments of 2010, gave total control of the nation’s food to the Food and Drug Administration.
Today, the FDA and United States Department of Agriculture are proposing to make organic eggs safe by preventing chickens from ranging free outdoors.
FDA’s proposed new rules for safe organic eggs include minimizing, if not eliminating, contact between organic chickens and wild birds by using explosive noise cannons, and by confining the free-ranging organic chickens to covered porches.
To comply with FDA & USDA directives, organic egg producers will have to implement labor-intensive measures that will make their organic eggs cost much more. This leads us to ask…
Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
#931 • August 10, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Guest: Diane Javelli, Dietician, University of Washington Medical Center
Gluten Free We!
To be, or not to be, gluten-free?
Raise your hand if you think you are gluten-intolerant. Now raise your hand if you know you are gluten-intolerant. From this showing of hands, it is evident there is a lot of difference between our thinking about gluten, and our knowing about gluten.
Gluten is, in the most simple of terms, protein that glues sugars together in the grains of wheat and related grasses.
When we domesticated those grains thousands of years ago, they became our “staff of life,” which is to say, our principal food. Thus the gluten those grains contain became, in a very real sense, the glue that holds our societies together.
Many of us have suddenly become intolerant of gluten. In fact, within a few short years a booming industry has sprouted to sell us gluten-free food, and the Federal government now has rules and regulations governing what may be labeled “Gluten-Free.”
Given the difference between those who think they are intolerant of gluten, and those who know they are intolerant of gluten, perhaps its time to ask some questions:
What role does gluten play in our traditional diet? Why have so many become so gluten-intolerant in such a short period of time? What is celiac disease? And…
Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
#930 • August 3, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Guest: Lynn Rogers, PhD, Wildlife Research Institute
Feeding the Bears!
Should Mr. Rogers stop feeding the bears?
Lynn Rogers is making Ely, Minnesota by feeding its bears, and people travel from far and wide, and pay good money, to watch.
Rogers and his Wildlife Research Institute feed bears in order to better study their behavior. As people move farther into the country, there is more interaction between bears and people. Rogers asserts by studying bears behavior, people can learn how to better get along with them.
To help desseminate its research, the Wildlife Research Institute features live “den cams” that make it possible for viewers everywhere to watch bears in hibernation. The Institute also sells bear research tours so visitors can watch bears being fed in the wild.
This feeding of the bears has focused attention on the tiny town of Ely, Minnesota, prompting the town’s mayor to tell a Wall Street Journal reporter, “Ely was already on the map, but this was huge for us!”
However, not everyone is so supportive. “Stop feeding the bears!” says Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources. DNR suggests that feeding bears changes their behavior, and counts at least 50 bears in the neighborhood that have lost their fear of humans.
To back up its demand, DNR did not renew Mr. Rogers research permit, thus precipitating a legal wrangle that has been won, temporarily, by Mr. Rogers and his fellow bear enthusiasts.
This legal tug of war between the Wildlife Research Institute and the Department of Natural Resources leads us to ask…
Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Food Chain Radio Show Host Michael Olson
#929 • July 27, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Guests: Stephen Murdoch, Vice President Public Relations, Enterprise Canada
Ken Forth, Pres. Foreign Agriculture Resource Management Services / Ontario Farmer
Cheap Labor Isn’t
They tell us 53% of U.S. farm laborers are illegal immigrants, which means that over half our food comes courtesy of illegal hands.
Agriculture, along with every other industry that can, hires illegal immigrants because they are a source of cheap labor. But how cheap is cheap labor?
America’s first source of cheap industrial labor was the slave. You could buy them at the market, put them up in a shack out back, work them in the fields all day and pay them nothing but food and clothing. This slave labor was truly cheap for the very few who owned them, but became extremely expensive for the very many who did not own them. Today, a couple hundred years down the line, the costs of cheap slave labor are still being paid in many different ways.
If we were to add all the costs paid by the nation for the cheap slave labor enjoyed by a few, that labor might well add up to a million dollars a day. This give or take, for course, is just my guess!
Today’s cheap labor comes from the hands of illegal immigrants. Like slaves, illegal immigrant laborers do not have many rights, and so may be used and discarded without the tremendous costs now being paid for domestic laborers.
Still, it is becoming increasingly obvious the cheap immigrant labor employed by a few will soon become the very expensive labor paid for by all. The tremendous cost of cheap labor leads us to ask…
THE VANISHING OF OUR BEES
BEE COLANY COLLAPSE
Food Chain Radio Show Host Michael Olson #927 • July 13, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Chensheng Lu, Ass Professor Environmental Health, Harvard Univ.
David Hackenburg Sr, Beekeeper, Hackenburg Apiaries
Who, or what, is causing our bees to vanish?
This right out of science fiction: You wake up one morning to discover that every single person in Chicago has simply disappeared without a trace, leaving their breakfast on the kitchen table! Poof! Gone!
Then everyone in Denver, Tuscon, and Charlotte disappear, leaving nothing behind to say why they left, or where they have gone.
Hard to believe something like that could happen, but it is happening to our bee colonies. One day the bees simply disappear, leaving their eggs and food behind. Poof! Gone!
What makes the collapsing of our bee colonies especially interesting is the fact that bees are responsible for one-third of the food we eat. If bees disappear – and bees are disappearing – then our supply of food will diminish, and its costs will increase.
So who, or what, is causing our bees to vanish?
Some say the causes are natural, and include global warming, trachial mites, and malnutrition. “Its just nature,” they say.
So who, or what, is causing our bees to vanish?
Others say the causes are man-made, and point the finger at neonicotinoids (“new nicotine pesticide”) like acetamiprid, clothianidin and imidacloprid.
The “neonics,” as they are called, are extremely efficient killers of invertebrate insect pests, and consequently are now used to coat most of the seeds planted in commercial corn and soybean crops. Though not considered pests, bees are invertebrate insects and vulnerable to neonics. “It’s people,” they say.
Thus we have a difference of opinion on an issue of major significance to our food chain…
ASPERTAME IN MILK
Food Chain Radio Show Host Michael Olson #926 • June 29, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Peggy Armstrong, International Dairy Foods Association
Sally Fallon Morell, Weston A. Price Foundation
Should dairy be upfront in labeling aspertame in milk?
Mothers feed children milk to help them build healthy bodies, and thus milk has become a staple of the modern diet. So powerful is the draw of milk grocers place dairy shelves in the back of the store to draw shoppers through the rest of their goods.
Much happens to milk as it makes its way from contented cow to gregarious grocer: It is pasteurized to kill all the organisms– good and bad– it contains; it is robbed of much of its fat, which can be sold for more as butter and ice cream; it is homogenized so what fat remains is suspended in solution.
Even more can be done to milk to induce children to consume more of it: flavoring– chocolate and strawberry– can be added to make it more interesting; sugar can be added to make it taste better.
But wait! Children are now becoming obese, and many point the finger of blame at milk and milk products. The solution to obesity some say, is to sweeten milk and milk products with the artificial–non-nutritive–aspartame, thereby turning dairy products into “diet” dairy products.
However, aspartame advocates say, if we say upfront dairy products contain aspartame, children will not want to consume them. Industry therefore has petitioned the Food and Drug administration for relief from its requirement to be upfront in labeling. This leads us to ask…
OUT OF POVERTY INTO AFRICA
Radio Show #925 • June 22, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Larry Jacobs & John Graham, Del Cabo Cooperative
Can organic prosper in Africa?
Chances are you popped one of those organic cherry tomatoes into your mouth in the dead of a winter and, without a thought as to its origin, bit down to pop its sweetness. Let’s give that tomato a thought
Your cherry tomato may well have carried the Del Cabo brand, which means that it was the product of a cooperative of 400 small, organic farmers near the town of San Jose Del Cabo in Baja California, Sur. In fact, you may well have looked down on those farms while flying in to Cabo San Lucas to enjoy some winter fun in the sun.
In 1985, Larry and Sandra Jacobs, organic farmers from Pescadero, California, decided to package some of that winter sunshine into organic cherry tomatoes and ship them north. But rather than growing the tomatoes themselves, they enlisted 10 small farmers to grow for them, and with that agreement, the Del Cabo Cooperative was born.
By working together through the Del Cabo Cooperative, and with the partnership of Jacobs Farm in California, the small farmers of Baja were able to increase their annual incomes from $3,000 to $20,000.
Today, the Del Cabo Cooperative consists of 400, give or take, small farmers in Baja, and the Jacobs Farm has grown into a company with over 60 employees in California.
The Jacobs have now taken this economic model to Africa, which leads us to ask …
FARMER ASSURANCE PROVISION /
MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT
Food Chain Radio Show #924 • June 15, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Terry Wanzek, Farmer & North Dakota Senator
Are GMOs above the law?
They say there are two sides to every story, and that is most certainly true when it comes to the story about the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in our food chain.
There is the side of producers, and there is the side of consumers.
For producers, the technology of genetic engineering has made the job of growing food much easier. Before GMOs, a farmer had to go out into the fields to cull weeds and pests by hand and machine. With GMOs, crops can be sprayed with herbicides and infused with pesticides, and thus one farmer can now grow thousands of acres of crops with no weeds or pests.
To protect this transformative technology, biotech agriculture lobbied government for a “Farmer Assurance Provision” that would allow their GMOs to be planted anywhere at anytime without interference from laws or courts.
For a significant number of consumers, there is uncertainty with respect to the efficacy of eating foods that have been saturated in herbicides and infused with pesticides, and they have taken to calling that government Provision the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Two sides of the story: Farmer Assurance Provision or Mansanto Protection Act.”
And so we ask…
What does agriculture hope to accomplish with its Farmer Assurance Provision? Why do many call the Farmer Assurance Provision the Monsanto Protection Act? And…
TO TEST, OR NOT TO TEST, ORGANIC FOOD
Food Chain Radio Show #923
June 8, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Mischa Popoff, Author Is It Organic
Are all foods labeled “organic” organic?
File this under Michael Olson’s Third Law of the Food Chain: The farther we go from the source of our food, the less control we have over what’s in our food.
On average, the food we eat now travels well over a thousand miles from where it was grown. As a consequence of this distance, we are losing track of who is growing our food, and how they are growing it. One way to regain some control over the food we eat is to buy food that displays the “Certified Organic” label.
The organic food industry is expected to grow from $60 billion today to $105 billion in 2015 on our desire to buy food that is clean and wholesome.
Foods that have been certified “organic” were grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, nor do they contain genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. At least, that is we want to believe, and what industry wants us to believe, but is it true?
CAN LIVESTOCK BE USED TO RESTORE SOIL?
Food Chain Radio Show #922
June 1, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Judith Schwartz, Author Cows Save the Planet
An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
This advice may have worked eighty years ago, but that apple has since lost about 50% of its calcium and over 80% of its phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. To keep the doctor away today, we must now eat about five apples a day!
What happened to the food in our food? There are two ways to grow a plant: One way, which we have come to call the “organic” way, is to feed the soil with life, and then to allow for the decomposition of that life in the soil to feed the plant. The other way, which might be called the “synthetic” way, is to bypass the soil and feed the plant directly with synthesized nutrients.
Most of our food is now produced the synthetic way on an industrial scale. As a consequence, the role soil plays in the production of food is different than it was 80 years ago. Where soil was the source of nutrients, it is now an inert medium through which plants can be fed nutrients. This synthetic technology has given us a great amount of control over the production of our food, and has allowed for the industrial scale with which we now grow our food.
With control, however, comes responsibility. We are now responsible for providing all the nutrition plants need. If we fail to do so, plants will not provide us with all the nutrition we need. Who among us is smart enough to know which nutrients plants need, in what quantity, and at what time?
We do our best, but given the nutritional quality of our apple, and the state of our health, it would seem as though we should be going to ground. And so we ask… Can livestock be managed to restore our soil?
COCAINE + CAFFEINE = COCA-COLA
Food Chain Radio Show #921
May 25, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Mark Pendergrast, Author
For God, Country & Coca-Cola
The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It
What is the secret in Coca-Cola’s secret formula?
It sprang to life selling patent medicines in Reconstruction Atlanta, and then grew into the quintessential American corporation selling soft drinks to the world.
And it did it all on a secret formula consisting of a few common ingredients. Two of those ingredients were, and are, cocaine and caffeine, which made Coca-Cola the original American energy drink.
How the Coca-Cola Company grew, and the times in which it grew, lead us to ask:
What is the secret in Coca-Cola’s secret formula? According to Wikipedia, “The primary ingredients of CocaCola syrup include either high fructose corn syrup or sucrose derived from cane sugar, caramel color, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca extract, lime extract, vanilla and glycerin.” If the ingredients are listed on Wikipedia, they can’t be the secret in the Coca-Cola’s secret formula! And so we persist in asking
EXOGENOUS SEMIOTIC ENTROPY
Herbicide Glyphosate (Roundup)
Food Chain Radio Show #920
May 18, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Stephanie Seneff, PhD, Senior Research Scientist
from MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
& Anthony Samsel, PhD and Independent Scientist and Consultant
Is the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) safe to eat?
I recently sat in on a Food Dialogues panel discussion titled “The Straight Story on Biotech in Agriculture: The Media and its Impact on Consumers.”
This discussion, which took place in Chicago at the International Bio convention in front of an audience of biotech people from biotech companies like Monsanto and DuPont, quickly became a tug of words between organic and conventional agriculture. One of the panelists, Dr. Bob Goldberg, was the author of the ballot argument against California’s Proposition 37 GMO Labeling initiative, and so had lots of words with which to tug, and was very good at tugging.
Nevertheless, I was there to tell the audience why I think people are uncertain about their technologies, and the foods those technologies produce, and so offered up something like this:
“You have at your hands a marvelous new technology which has the capacity for ultimate good, and ultimate bad. You have made it possible for one farmer to grow thousands of acres of food crops with no weeds, and therefore have made their lives much better, and yourselves, much wealthier. But what did consumers get? They got food drenched in herbicide and infused with pesticide. And some of those consumers are starting to ask, ‘What’s to eat?'”
Those who manufacture herbicide-resistant plants say that the herbicide saturated foods are safe for people and mammals to eat. The herbicides go right straight through us, they say, and they have the science to back up what they say. And who am I to doubt the wisdom of their science?
Then I ran across the following in the journal Entropy: “… glyphosate is the “textbook example of exogenous semiotic entropy.” And… “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.”
This leads us to ask the author of that Entropy article…
AG GAG LAWS
Food Chain Radio Show #919
April 11, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Emily Meredith, Animal Agriculture Alliance
& Paul Shapiro, The Humane Society
Should consumers be allowed to know how farmers grow food?
Looking back, its easy to see the farm was a place of living and dying, and that all the living– people, animals, birds, and plants– knew what was coming.
We the living tried to be kind to those dying, but try as we might, the process was never really pretty. Picture, for just one of many possible examples, a barnyard of chickens hopping about without their heads, hearts pumping blood into the air until there was nothing left to pump. Not pretty, unless you were hungry.
We, the living, have since moved to town, and now rely on industrial production systems for our food. (And hey, to hell with chopping off all those chickens’ heads!) But our newly found distance from the food we eat allows us to forget about the somewhat messy business of living and dying on the farm.
Living in the city allows us to think we can live without cruelty! And so the farms of industrial agriculture have become targets of those who want to eliminate cruelty. But whether we can take lives, as we must takes lives, without being cruel, or unseemly, is now the question of the day. And so we ask…
Food Chain Radio Show #918
April 4, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Scott Kennedy, FarmaSea
Is seaweed a good food for the human body?
I was introduced to the nutritional properties of seaweed by Robin, a dedicated gardener from South Africa. “I have a few boxes to take to the flea market,” he said, “May I have a lift?”
When I saw that the boxes contained kelp Robin had drug home from the nearby beach and shredded by hand, I said, “Robin, you have got to be kidding me! Who in their right mind is going to buy that seaweed?”
“Oh,” Robin replied, “You’ll see!”
After running a few errands, I decided to swing by the flea market to see how Robin was doing peddling his boxes of seaweed. I found him standing there with a confused look. There were no boxes of seaweed to be seen anywhere.
“Robin,” I said, “Did you really sell those boxes of seaweed? “
“No,” he replied, slowly and sadly swinging his head from side to side. “I went to the restroom and when I came back the boxes were gone. Somebody just took them!”
The theft of Robin’s boxes caused me to wonder about the value of the seaweed, and later, to buy tons of it to manufacture an organic fertilizer called Soil Essence. It would be fair to say that I became a believer in the nutritional properties of kelp.
That being said, the following claim gives me cause to pause: “The people that eat it (kelp) every day or maybe even three times a week, are the healthiest and longest living people in the history of mankind.”
This claim leads me to ask…
FOOD OR MONEY?
Food Chain Radio Show #917
April 27, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Kathy Kozer, National Family Farm Coalition; Eric Munoz, Oxfam America; Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation
Should we send the world’s hungry food or money?
When possible, the United States sends the surplus crops of its farmers to feed the world’s hungry.
The Obama administration is planning to change this traditional way of aiding the world’s hungry: Instead of sending the surplus crops of its farmers, the administration wants to send the surplus money of its taxpayers.
The reason put forth for this change of plans is simple: Sending surplus U.S. crops to the hungry destroys the market for local agriculture. After all, the reasoning goes, local farmers cannot compete with free crops from abroad, and when local agriculture is destroyed, the hungry become even hungrier.
But others say sending surplus U.S. taxpayer money to foreign farmers will undermine the competitiveness of U.S. farmers and related industries. After all, the reasoning goes, what U.S. farmer can compete with foreign farmers receiving free U.S. taxpayer money?
This disagreement over how the U.S. should administer its food aid leads us to ask…
Food Chain Radio Show #916
April 20, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Diana Reeves, GMO Free USA
Why boycott Kellogg’s for selling GMO cereals?
Having spent nearly $800,000 to defeat California’s GMO labeling initiative, Kellogg’s has positioned itself firmly in opposition to those who want to know about the GMOs in breakfast cereals.
When I asked Kellogg’s to join me on the Food Chain Radio show to discuss the GMO Free USA-led boycott of their breakfast cereals, spokesperson Kris Charles suggested, in a friendly sort of way, that everyone should just “go eat Kashi.”
What Kellogg’s was saying, in effect, was that it provides the marketplace with a line of cereals that are organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and if that is what consumers want, that is what they can get with Kellogg’s cereals.
Today, the soothing properties of cannabis are claimed to be medicinal, and people now demand from the powers-that-be the right to grow and consume their own medicine. Their demand leads us to ask…
GROWING OUR OWN
Food Chain Radio Show #915
April 13, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Dave DeWitt, Author, Growing Medical Marijuana
Should we be allowed to grow our own medicine?
Listen to Herodotus talk about the Scythians in 500 BC, as they gather around the campfire, throw marijuana seeds on the fire, and then…
“sit around in a circle; and by inhaling the fruit that has been thrown on, they become intoxicated by the odor, just as the Greeks do by wine; and the more fruit is thrown on, the more intoxicated they become, until they rise up and dance and betake themselves to singing.”
For as long as we can look back, which is around 10,000 years, we can see that people have used cannabis as a means to soothe their way through life.
Of course, people also used cannabis to make clothes for their bodies, paper for their books, sails for their ships, oil for their cooking, and rope to hold themselves together, to name but a few. Because it was so useful, cannabis became a principal crop of mankind, with tens of thousands of acres being grown around the world. Cannabis was so plentiful, in fact, one could harvest hundreds of pounds free from the roadside ditches of America’s heartland.
However, in the 1930’s the soothing properties of cannabis came to the attention of powers-that-be, and they threw the cloak of prohibition over cannabis. This prohibition, ironically, ended the cultivation of cannabis for all purposes but that for which it was prohibited, and thus increased its value to thousands of dollars per pound.
Today, the soothing properties of cannabis are claimed to be medicinal, and people now demand from the powers-that-be the right to grow and consume their own medicine. Their demand leads us to ask
IT TAKES A GARDEN!
Food Chain Radio Show #914
April 6, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Eric Toensmeier, Author, Paradise Lot
What else can one grow in a garden?
Like many young men, Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates wondered what to do with their lives. Should they move out to the Coast, join the Peace Corp, or go back to school?
Instead, the boys decided to chuck it all and turn a barren lot in the run-down neighborhood of a rust-belt city into a garden. Girls, and their lives, would somehow find them in the garden.
And so the boys found themselves a soulless duplex with a 1/10th acre vacant lot in the Rust Belt city of Holyoke, Massachusetts, and went to work. In short order, they turned the vacant lot into a garden with hundreds of edible plants supporting a seed company. And the wives did find them, and the children did follow.
These boys, their families, the garden and a seed company lead us to ask
DON’T FEED THE BEARS
Food Chain Radio Show #913
March 30, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Kevin Sanders, Yellowstone Outdoor Adventures
Should civilized people feed wild life?
“Dad! Why does the sign say, ‘Don’t feed the bears!”
“Because, son, Yellowstone Park does not want us to feed bears.”
“But Dad, the bears are hungry, and we have extra food. It doesn’t seem fair!”
Living in rural Yachats, Oregon, Karen Noyes did not have to abide by the rules of Yellowstone Park, and liked feeding the wild bears, and so fed them. And when she did, more bears came to be fed. Soon Karen Noyes had a yard full of bears to be fed, with more coming all the time.
It did not take long before things got out of Karen Noyes’ hands. One of her bear friends stormed a neighbor’s turkey farm and killed 60 of its resident turkeys. Another bear friend took a liking to the neighbor lady and got stuck trying to sneak in through the lady’s dog door for visit. And so on
Consequent to all the bearishness going on in the neighborhood, poor Karen Noyes was arrested and convicted for “Harassing Wildlife.” She was then sentenced to three years of probation, which included an order not to go near her rural home.
Yellowstone Park has a long and storied history of wild bears and civilized people. When civilized people see the wild bears’ pleading looks of “feed me, feed me,” they often want to feed the wild bears. When they do, the wild bears often undergo a personality change, and the pleading looks become demanding looks that say, “FEED ME! FEED ME!”
That look in the eyes of those hungry bears leads us to ask…
THERE IS A GARDEN IN THE MIND
Food Chain Radio Show #912 • March 16, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Dr. Paul Lee, Author
As a student of Chinese language and literature, I had to spend many hours inside the language lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. When finished with the day’s studies, I would stumble outside into the brilliant sunshine to watch a full-scale revolution in action.
Adjacent to the lab, on a parcel of steep, shrub-covered hillside, students from around the nation were dropping their studies in engineering, chemistry, and physics to dig in the dirt of a French-Intensive / Biodynamic garden under the tutelage of an actor from England by the name of Alan Chadwick.
This garden, which was always filled with youthful exuberance, was somewhat of an enigma to me. Having grown up with the chores of farming and ranching, which included hour upon hour of hoeing weeds under a hot Montana sun, I could not quite see what all the excitement was about, nor why anyone would drop their studies to dig in the dirt. ‘What am I missing here?’ I often asked myself.
(I was not the only one with the question. When those students called home to tell mom and dad they were dropping their studies in chemistry to become a gardener, the phone began ringing off the hook in the Chancellor’s office!)
What I was missing was a revolution in thinking about gardening, about food, and about how we go about living on planet Earth. There is a Garden in the Mind, and it leads us to ask
Ubiquitous Soy & Precocious Puberty
Food Chain Radio Show #911 • March 2, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Nancy Chapman, Executive Director, Soyfoods Association of North America & Pharmacist Ben Fuchs, Host, Bright Side Radio Show
Could ubiquitous soy cause precocious puberty?
A challenge: Go out into the world and find a loaf of bread that does not contain some form of soy. Good luck!
Soy is in the hamburger, in the hamburger bun, and in the milkshake. In fact, soy is in many, if not most, of the processed foods we eat, including:
Baked Goods: breads, cookies, crackers, etc.
Breakfast cereals: hot cereal mixes and protein bars
Pasta: including U.S. National School lunch pastas
Beverages & Toppings: coffee whiteners, whipped toppings, protein drinks
Meat, Poultry, Fish: products processed from whole parts
Dairy: imitation milks, cheeses, frozen yogurts, milk blends
And of course, soy is in the baby formula.
We now feed our children soy in many of their foods from the day they are born until the day they go out into the world on their own.
Wait! There is another thing to consider about our children: They are becoming sexually mature at a much younger age. In the 19th century, girls began mensturating at the average age of 15. Today girls begin at the average age of 12. Boys also are maturing years earlier, with some groups developing at the age of nine!
The ubiquity of soy in our children’s foods, and the precocious puberty of our children, lead us to ask…
(Food Chain Radio & Forums #911)
The Power & Protocols to Police
Food Chain Radio Show #910 • February 23, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson with David Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farms
Can local farmers survive the FDA’s Food Safety police?
Foodborne illnesses kill an estimated 3,000 people in the United States every year.
In the last hours of 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, which granted the Food and Drug Administration the power to police the nation’s food chain. Instead of simply reacting to foodborne contaminations, the FDA, under former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor, will protect against them by policing the nation’s food chain.
After two years of planning, the FDA has placed over 1,000 pages of new food safety rules and regulations into the public domain for discussion. These rules and regulations were designed as a one-size-all for agriculture. However, there are two sizes of agriculture: an industrial- sized agriculture that produces food for distant markets, and a local-sized agriculture that produces food for local markets.
With 1,000 pages of new policing authority, the federal food police will have life and death power over all farmers. This leads us to ask…
Forgetting The Past
Food Chain Radio Show #909 • February 16, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
David Buchanan, Author of Taste, Memory
Santayana was thinking of people when he remarked, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But could not the same be said of plants?
Plants earn their intelligence through experience. When an environment heats up, plants that tolerate heat survive. This toleration is then programmed into the plants’ genes and passed to future generations, which then remember how to tolerate heat.
(People? Not so smart! It seems each of us must first burn our fingers before the intelligence of what is too hot is fixed into our minds.)
The intelligence of plants is fine-tuned by their environment. Corn that grows and develops in response to the environment of the Urabamba Valley in Peru, for example, will have a different set of values than corn that grows and develops in response to the environment of Virginia’s Shenendoah Valley. The Peruvian and Virginian may not even look alike when grown to maturity.
The intelligence to grow and develop in response to a specific environment is the plant’s genetic heritage, and thus we often call plants that have this specific knowledge “heritage” plants.
When we all lived on the land, heritage plants were very important because they enabled us to grow crops where we lived. But we have since moved into town. We now rely on the foods of industry to survive, and the plants of industry have a different kind of intelligence. For example, many varieties of corn now have the intelligence to tolerate chemical herbicides that kill all the other plants around them. As this intelligence makes it very easy to grow corn, the varieties are supplanting the heritage ones we once valued so highly.
This loss of genetic diversity leads us to ask…
Nano Nano NanoFood
Food Chain Radio Show #907 • February 2, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Journalist Heather Miller
Nanoparticles are so small they live by their own laws.
A million nanoparticles might be placed on the period at the end of this sentence. This means nanoparticles are too big to be governed by the rules of quantum mechanics, and too small to be governed by the rules of classical physics, and so the particles can enable us to do things that other particles can’t, like resist heat, kill germs, and confer strength without adding weight.
Because they can do things that other particles can’t, nanoparticles are rapidly finding their way into our food chain. The American Chemical Society Journal claims nanoparticles are now used in 89 popular foods, including M&Ms and Mentos, Dentyne and Trident gums, Nestle coffee creamers, Pop-Tarts, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, and Betty Crocker cake frostings.
Though we are now eating freely of miraculous nanoparticles, we simply do not know much about them. We find it difficult to detect nanoparticles in our food; do not have protocols for judging their effects on our body; and do not have the tools necessary to track them. This leads us to ask…
Are nanofoods safe to eat?
The Lone Wolf of California
Food Chain Radio Show #906 • January 26, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Karen Kovacs, California Department of Fish & Wildlife
After being collared and released into the wilds of northeast Oregon, wolf OR-7 took off on the run for northern California to become the first wild wolf to inhabit the Golden State in 65 years.
OR-7’s epic 3,000 mile run through Oregon and northern California has been made famous, in part, by an ardent press and a public that follows his wonderings via websites and Twitter feeds. An Oregon environmental organization even sponsored a kids art and naming contest in which OR-7 was given the user-friendly moniker of “Journey.”
However, not everyone in California, nor the West, is happy at seeing a wolf show up. Some, notably cattle and sheep ranchers, see the wolf as a direct threat to their livelihoods. Thus the epic run of California’s Lone Wolf leads us to ask …
Why did we release wild wolves into the American West? How do we mediate the conflict between those who want the wolves to run free and those who do not? And about that OR-7 …
What is the lone wolf of California dreaming?
Food As Money
Food Chain Radio Show #805 • January 19, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Kara Newman, Author of The Secret Financial Life of Food
It does not take much imagination to look back to the dawn of human-kind to see that food was our first money. I want that stone axe you made and will pay for it with this venison I killed. Deal?
Though we now live in the most modern of times, when the electronic gadgets of science fiction have become more familiar to us than ears of garden-fresh sweet corn, food is still real money.
We sometimes lose track of real money, and come to think the paper certificates governments print by the trillions is real money. But unless those government certificates are guaranteed by something real, like gold or food, they are not real money, they are simply government certificates.
Sometimes governments get carried away with their ability to print certificates. When that happens, the ability of those certificates to buy real things, like food, is diminished in direct proportion to the speed at which governments print their certificates. As printng certificates is very easy for governments to do, sometimes they simply print too many, and things get out of hand…
In 1923, one loaf of bread cost 200,000,000,000 German Marks.
Now, that 1923 loaf of bread was not worth any more, or less, than a 2013 loaf of bread. What is different is the value of the German Mark.
That food is real and government certificates may not be real, is a major problem for governments that like to print certificates by the trillions. This problem leads us to ask…
Who should determine the value of food?
Busting Out Big – Think Local First
Food Chain Radio Show #804 • January 12, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Stacey Mitchell, Institute for Self Reliance
Since 1994, the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased from 1,744 to 7,864, and more than 1,000 local grocers have opened their doors in neighborhoods throughout the land.
The United States is truly beginning to think local first when buying its food.
But so much for thinking big about buying small. U.S. business continues to grow big… bigger… biggest: Five U.S. banks now hold 56% of all the money. One grocer now sells 25% of all the food. One website now sells 33% of everything sold online.
Big business is getting bigger, small business is getting smaller. What happens when medium-sized business becomes, as the saying goes, “roadkill?” How then will big business continue to increase its market share, if not by taking the share held by small business? And by individuals?
Will big business make it impossible for individuals to grow food for their communities, and themselves, in order to continue expanding its market share?
This thought, and the fact the citizens across the land are now being prosecuted for growing their own food on their own property, lead us to ask…
Can we shop our way back to a strong economy?
The Elite Meat
Food Chain Radio Show #803 • January 5, 201 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Custom Butcher Rian Rinn
EcoFarm Board Member Thomas Wittman
A few decades ago, we lived with the animals we ate. Many can still remember those days. I do. As a young boy growing up on the grandparent’s farm near Belfry, Montana, I helped feed, nurture, kill and butcher the animals we ate.
Tending to the animals was just part of the job of growing up on a working farm, and on the farm, every person, and every animal, had a job. There were no pets on the farm.
We have since moved off the farm and into big cities. The animals we live with are now pets, and often given full-citizenship in the family, with rights to eat at the dinner table, watch TV on the couch, and sleep on the bed.
The animals we eat now live behind the high walls of distant factories, where they cannot be seen, heard, smelled or touched. When word gets out, often via purloined video, of how our food animals are treated, we city people shudder in horror. How can they be so mean to animals?
But truth be told, those factories treat our food animals about as humanely as possible, given the exingencies of raising thousands of them in tightly packed containers. It simply can’t get much better for our food animals, unless we bring them home, and so we ask…
Hand in Hand with Enviros & Ranchers
Food Chain Radio Show #802 • December 22, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts Sierra Foothills Conservancy
Sierra Lands Beef
Can environmentalists and ranchers work together to make money and preserve the land?
As the Hatfields and McCoys of the American West, environmentalists and ranchers are seldom seen walking the same side of the street.
In fact, environmentalists and ranchers are traditional enemies because each side champions a different use for the land. Environmentalists want to preserve the land in its natural state; ranchers want to use the land to earn a living. There has not been much room in the middle for “just getting along,” and so the two communities have not been just getting along.
Since the environmental community is backed by the city, with all its votes and dollars, it has been able to purchase large parcels of ranchlands throughout the West and set them aside as conservancies. But a funny thing happened on the way to preserving all that land: invasive species of plants moved in and took over the landscape.
As the environmental community pondered what to do with all the weeds it was now conserving, someone put forth the idea of bringing back the ranchers and their animals to graze away the weeds. This suggestion leads us to ask…
Can environmentalists and ranchers work together to make money and preserve the environment?
Farms vrs Restaurants
Food Chain Radio Show #801 • December 15, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts the Renewable Fuels Association
and the National Council of Chain Restaurants
Which is most important: food or fuel?
In 2005, the federal government created the Energy Policy Act, which created a Renewable Fuel Standard requiring 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be mixed into the nation’s gas tank in 2012. As these fuels were made largerly from corn, this mandate made corn farmers very happy.
In 2012, the United States experienced the most severe and extensive drought in 25 years. This drought seriously affected the productivity of the nation’s agriculture, thus raising the price of farm commodities.
Given the severe drought, government was asked to waive its renewable fuels mandate for 2012. Saying that it could find no “severe economic harm” caused by the mandate, the government refused to grant the waiver.
To measure the costs of this mandate for its member businesses, the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) commissioned a study by Price Waterhouse Cooper. This study claimed the mandate could cost the restaurant industry up to $3.2 billion dollars annually.
NCCR’s study was promptly repudiated by the Renewable Fuels Association, which said, “Clearly, Big Food and Big Oil are on the defensive. They lost in their bid for a waiver of the RFS, so now are resorting to super-sized myths about the impact of the RFS on food prices.”
This differernce of opinion between farmers and restauranteurs leads us to ask…
Which is most important, food or fuel?
Food Chain Radio Show #800 • December 10, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson • Open Microphone • Call in: 831-479-1080
Who can feed 55.25 million if government goes belly-up?
The election is over, which means its now time ask the question nobody wants to ask about the numbers nobody wants to accept.
First, the numbers:
55.25 million people can no longer adequately feed themselves, and so rely on a government $16.3 trillion in debt, with $86.8 trillion of unfunded liabilities, in an economy that buys $500 billion a year more than it sells.
Now the question:
Who can feed the 55.25 million if government goes belly-up?
For those who think the question without merit, that all government need do to avoid bankruptcy is to raise taxes, please note the following:
Government’s unfunded liabilities– including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits– now exceed $86.8 trillion dollars, or 550% of the current Gross Domestic Product. To collect enough taxes to avoid going deeper into debt, it is estimated that government would have to confiscate every penny earned by every taxpayer plus every penny of profit earned by every corporation. However, this would still leave the government short $1.3 trillion per year.* Thus if government were to confiscate all wages, and all profits, it would still not be enough to pay its obligations.
Returning to the question, we look to those social institutions that traditionally feed the hungry– the family, the church, the local food pantry– and ask…
Who can feed the 55.25 million if government goes belly-up? (Food Chain Radio #800)
* “Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt,” Cox and Archer, WSJ, A17, November 27, 2012
Food Chain Radio Show #798 • November 17, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Features
James Sterba Author of Nature Wars
SHOULD CITIES ENCOURAGE OR DISCOURAGE WILD ANIMALS?
“Look at the buck deer!”
While walking the dog through an upscale neighborhood of Billings, Montana recently, my attention was called to a rather scruffy looking house that had obviously been abandoned some months previously. Standing next to an open gate was the buck deer, happily eating the landscaping as if in full legal ownership of the house and its grounds.
Having grown up in Billings on a diet rich in wild venison, the citified buck stopped me in my tracks. We stared at each other for several long moments. I then moved closer, expecting him to bound away. But the buck was without fear, and did not flee. I left him in possession of the house and all its delicious landscaping.
Wild animals have discovered what people long ago discovered– the safety and security of living in cities. As author James Sterba says, “It is very likely that in the eastern United States today more people live in closer proximity to more wildlife than anywhere on Earth at any time in history.”
In fact, wildlife running wild through our communities cause an estimated $28 billion in damage every year in the United States, with $1.5 billion from deer-auto crashes alone! This leads us ask…
Why has so much wildlife moved into cities?
Why are cities so welcoming of wildlife?
Should cities encourage or discourage wild animals?
Food Chain Radio Show #797 • November 10, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Features
Nutritionist Pam Killeen Author of Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic
CAN WE EAT OUR WAY TO MENTAL HEALTH?
Addiction, autism, dementia… Oh me!… Fatigue, sleep disorders, ADHD… Oh my!
The National Institute of Health estimates that worldwide more than one in four now suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, and that half of those with a mental disorder have two or more disorders.
All is not bad about the mental disorders that now affect our thinking. In fact, the disorders now generate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of business every year for those who manufacture pills, and that’s enough money to float a good-sized country, or two.
However, for those who do not manufacture pills, all is not so sweet. Those who suffer from mental disorders must suffer from them, and those who do not suffer from them must pay to help those who suffer by buying their pills, which as mentioned, cost enough to float a good-sized country, or two.
All those pills we buy may be alleviating some symptoms of mental disorders, but they do not seem to be eliminating the disorders, which leads us to ask …
Why do so many people now have so many mental disorders?
Does what we eat affect the development of our brain and mind?
Can we eat our way to mental health?
Food Chain Radio Show #796 • November 3, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Features Chef Jamie Smith & Nutritionist Jill Soderman
WHAT’S FOR SCHOOL LUNCH?
It has been said, by those in the know, that one should “Never let a serious crisis go to waste!”
We do have a serious obesity crisis, in that some 17 percent of our children are obese and another 20 percent– or so– are overweight. To make certain this crisis does not go to waste, government has instituted the No Hungry Kids Act, which forces schools to feed children healthier and more nutritious lunches with less sodium, more whole grains, and a wider selection of fruits and vegetables.
In addition to what kinds of food government will allow children to eat, it has also placed restrictions on how much food children may eat, with children in kindergarten through fifth grade being allowed 650 calories, sixth through eighth graders 700 calories, and those in high-school 850 calories.
Having been led to government’s healthy lunch, however, many school children are refusing to eat, and the nation’s garbage cans are rapidly filling up with healthy school lunches. Furthermore, those children who take joy in burning calories by participating in sports and outdoor activities are running short of calories and going hungry.
All those school garbage cans filled with healthy food, and all those hungry kids pleading for more calories, lead one to ask…
Can one government program feed 36 kids the right food?
Why do children rebel against healthy school lunches?
Who can best feed children–government or parents?
Food Chain Radio Show #795 • October 27, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Features Attorney Joseph E. Sandler
A RIGHT TO KNOW LAWYER FEEDING FRENZY!
They are spending over $40 million to convince Californians to deny themselves the right to know about genetically-modified organisms in their food.
Who are they? Monsanto, Dupont, DOW, Bayer, Syngenta, Pepsi, Coke, Nestle, Conagra, General Mills, Del Monte, Kellog, Hershey, and JM Smucker, to name but a few.
Why do they want Californians to deny themselves the right to know about GMOs?
We recently received a press release from the San Francisco law firm of Morrison & Foerster, which included the following claim from partner Michele Corash:
“Under Prop 37, anyone can sue a food company disputing its labels, even if plaintiffs didn’t suffer damage from the food, or even if plaintiffs didn’t rely on a product label in deciding to purchase the food.”
Sensing a legal feeding frenzy over food in Ms Corash’s claim, we immediately requested a Food Chain appearance by a Morrison & Foerster attorney. However, after a couple of weeks of best efforts, they turned us down with a “Way too busy!
Fair enough. We kept asking, and found that attorney Joseph E. Sandler of the Washington DC firm of Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb, would be willing to help us answer the following questions regarding the legalities of the California Right to Know initiative:
Would some foods be legally exempt from labeling? If so, why?
How much would a legal label add to the cost of food?
Will everyone be able to sue food companies over the labeling of their food?
Food Chain Radio Show #794 • October 20, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Features Dr. Michael Hansen,
Senior Staff Scientist, Consumer’s Union
WHO SAYS GMOS ARE SAFE?
To many farmers, it is a miracle!
We take genes from Bacillus thuringniensis (Bt), a soil dwelling bacterium that produces chemicals toxic to insects, and infuse them into the genes of the corn plant. When an insect takes a bite out of any part of that corn plant, from root to tassle, the Bt kills the insect.
No insects to eat the crop! No pesticides to spray on the crops! Little wonder, then, that America now has millions of acres of insect-killing corn growing in its heartland.
To many consumers, however, the insect-killing corn is a question, which leads to more questions!
Can a plant that has been re-engineered to kill insects be safe for people to eat?
How are genetically-modified foods tested for safety?
Who says genetically-modified foods are safe for people to eat?
Food Chain Radio Show #793 • October 13, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson Featuring Peter M. McCarthy, author Adrenaline Nation
ADDICTED TO ADRENALINE
We are always, it seems, in a fight or in flight.
When we experience stress, and we always seem to be experiencing stress, our brain responds by dumping adrenaline into our bodies, thus giving us the energy to fight or take flight:
In an adrenaline rush, blood flow is restricted to those areas of the brain that govern thinking, and redirected to the more primitive areas of the brain that govern reflexes. Sight becomes more acute, allowing us to better see even in the dark. Hair stands on end, making us more sensitive to the surrounding environment. Heart rate increases by up to 500%, and arteries constrict to increase the pressure and speed at which blood is delivered to our muscles. This is great fun, right?
Our never-ending quest for the next adrenaline-rush, however, has consequences. Simply stated, as it is in Adrenaline Nation, chronic stress increases the rate at which we age, and decreases the age at which we die. This sad fact leads us to as…
Can we manage our addiction to adrenaline?
Food Chain Radio Show #790 • September 15, 2012 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts
Kent Bradford, PhD, Director
UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center
YES OR NO ON THE RIGHT TO KNOW
Why not know about GMOs?
Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer, Nestle, Pepsi, Coca Cola, General Mills, Del Monte Foods, and others are putting up about $28 million to put down California’s Proposition 37 “Right to Know About GMO” initiative.
Prop 37 would, in essence, require the mandatory labeling of foods that contain foreign genes.