As I Live and Breathe

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN


The old time exclamation serving as the title is evocative of what we humans do. We live by breathing, drinking, eating, and eliminating waste. But so do all other living things, in one way or another. We should really remember how interconnected we are with the biosphere of this planet. We forget at our peril;
Yet forget we do. Or, we at least disregard the consequences of our destructive habits. Last week I heard a figure that was stunning. Animal production in this country generates 130 times more body waste than the human waste we produce. Ours must go through sewage treatment systems, or at least septic tanks. However not one of these massive factory farms has a sewage treatment system. It all flows into our rivers or is collected in huge settling tanks.
Do you remember what happened in one of the Carolinas during huge storms that struck the area just a few years ago? Massive amounts of pig shit overflowed the holding area and poisoned local rivers. This kind of pollution not only poisons water with bacteria but also, since it is a nutrient, enables the overgrowth of algae that consumes oxygen to the detriment of other aquatic life. Between this and the flow of excess fertilizer from farms into the Mississippi River, there is now a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico off the US coast. Nothing lives there. Nothing can live there. This is not the only dead zone in the world, and they’re growing.
It also takes hundreds of gallons of water to produce a pound of meat (fowl, pork, mutton, or beef). This waste is supported by over consumption of meats. Not only does this excessive flesh-eating result in polluted water and depleted fresh water sources, it also contributes to the problem of obesity in the US And, just for good measure, let’s add in the increasing instances of “fecal coliform bacteria” turning up in meat. That includes the potentially lethal e. coli. Where is this icky stuff coming from? Guess what, your meat’s likely been in contact with what comes out of the tail end of an animal.
All of this is part of the system of unsustainable practices the advanced Western economies have created. The worst violator is the US Everyone knows the statistic that with only 5 percent of the world’s population, this country consumes 25 percent of the world’s resources. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the developing world, think China and India in particular (two and one half BILLION people), understandably aspire to the same lifestyle. “The zoorna sounds good from a distance,” as the saying goes.
Food production is just one area of unsustainability. Most aspects of society have also become similarly tainted. So you’d think that when someone or some group tries to make things better for all our sakes, that group would be supported, or at least, not undercut. But no, that’s not the case in our corporatized world. Anything for the bottom line and Wall Street, everything and everyone else be damned.
I couldn’t believe it when the long awaited US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ruling regarding what can be labeled “organic” came out (Friday June 22) allowing up to 5 percent non organic content. Huh? It either is food that’s produced the right way, or it’s not. One example is beer. One of the big brewers has come out with an organic beer. But, they claim they can’t get enough organic hops. First, this should be indicative of the level of consumer interest in food-and-drink-done-right. You’d think this would drive the brewer to contract with farmers to grow organic hops. Nope. They want a loophole. Why? Well, they just want to make money now, with all of us paying the cost of their business and unsustainable production practices later.
It’s totally unacceptable. If your, your children’s and the planet’s health is insufficient cause for concern to you, try this: among the 38 non-organic items permitted for use by this new ruling are Turkish bay leaves. Still not moved? The US “exports” its agricultural practices in various ways. Armenia is susceptible to this bad advice.
Let’s get back on track to prevent the poisoning of our bodies and land/water/air– in the US or Armenia. The USDA’s ruling is interim and the agency is allowing an additional 60 days for public comment. Let them know you want simplicity and honesty in labeling. If a food item’s got a seal that reads “USDA Organic”, it should be just that, pure and simple.

Send you commen’s–
By mail to:
Robert Pooler, Agricultural Marketing Specialist
National Organic Program, USDA/AMS/TMP/NOP
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250.


By Internet:
Go to: www.regulations.gov
Click on: All Documents Open for Public Comment
Click on: the bubble right of the document titled “National Organic Program (NOP)– Amendmen’s to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing)”
Fill out the information and type out your commen’s.

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