Tag Archives: Agriculture

Hemp Biodiesel: When the Smoke Clears

Hemp literally produces a “green” product when it’s used to make biodiesel. Despite the allure of the green-hued fuel, a close examination of the controversial crop reveals several barriers for its use as a biodiesel feedstock in the near future. However, as movers and shakers attempt to legalize hemp farming in the United States, those barriers could go up in smoke.
By Holly Jessen

Today, high demand within the food market, limited production and low yields per acre make industrial hemp unattractive as a viable option for biodiesel production. That could change, however, if states like North Dakota can overcome federal road blocks to produce industrial hemp in the United States.

Although industrial hemp acres have doubled in Canada since 2005, it is still considered a specialty crop.

Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower, knows firsthand that under current market conditions, using industrial hemp as a biodiesel feedstock just wouldn’t pay. Hemp farming has been legal in Canada for about six years, while in the United States farmers are having difficulty getting the proper approval from the federal government to produce hemp. Because only limited acres of hemp are being grown at this time, it’s considered a niche crop and garners premium prices for use in products for the human health food market. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Bobbee tells Biodiesel Magazine.

Bobbee is in a unique position to understand the positives and negatives of hemp as a feedstock for biodiesel. In addition to owning and operating Midlake Specialty Food Products, which grows hemp near Arborg, Manitoba, he’s involved with Bifrost Bio-Blends. Bifrost is a 2 MMly to 10 MMly (0.5 MMgy to 2.6 MMgy) proposed biodiesel plant that investors hope will attract the financing necessary to produce biodiesel sometime in the beginning of 2007. The plant’s main feedstock will be locally produced canola.

If it were economically viable, Bobbee could get more excited about making biodiesel from hemp. Several years ago, when the Canadian hemp industry wasn’t as well-established as it is now, Bobbee found himself with a surplus on his hands. A large hemp purchasing company went bankrupt, and suppliers like Bobbee were faced with low prices and few marketing options. The situation was particularly dire because hemp seed deteriorates after about a year in storage. The seed that Bobbee was stuck with was starting to go rancid. Since it could no longer be used in the food market, he took 20,000 liters (about 5,300 gallons) of hemp oil and turned it into biodiesel. Not only did the biodiesel have wonderful properties—better cloud point and cetane value than biodiesel made from canola or soy oil—its distinctive green color was a great marketing tool.

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Food Fascism in the Land of the Free

by Eric Blair
Activist Post

The food industry is no longer a free market.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s becoming the most glaring example of corporate-government fascism in America.

Actual monopolies fully control the basic building blocks of the food that makes up the majority of the American diet — and no one seems to care.  Simply put, those who control the corn, wheat, and soybeans control all food, since all livestock and all processed foods are dependent on those food resources.  These monopolies place their cronies in government regulatory agencies like the FDA and USDA to weed out their competition through excessive regulation.  Currently proposed legislation are textbook examples of their methods.

There once was a time when free markets existed for food.  Back when local food ruled the day, if a farmer sold milk that was bad, he would not get return customers unless he adjusted his practices to make a healthier product.  This free market was self-regulating.  In other words, in a truly free market we shouldn’t need the FDA.  However, as mentioned before, we are light years from a free market.

Subsidies rain down on big agribusinesses that grow what the government tells them to grow.  Industry leaders like Cargill, Monsanto, and Tyson essentially turn farmers into indentured sharecroppers.  The food engineers at General Mills and others weave corn, wheat, and soybeans into chemical concoctions that end up in brightly colored packages — some even come with free Chinese-made toys.  The finished product develops from a Genetically Modified base, using multiple poisons to glue it together, demonstrating that the monopolies and their regulatory lapdogs care not for our health.

But what about voting with our pocketbooks, isn’t that a free market? Surely that is what we have been taught.  Yet, all 16 flavors of Cheerios — which give the appearance of free choice — are all made by General Mills from a genetically modified corn base.  This illusion of choice hides the monopolistic nature of food.

Enter Senate bill S. 510 Food Safety Modernization Act, already passed in the House as HR 2749.  Some have demonized the bill as ultimate food fascism where the FDA will micromanage even small farms and co-ops to the point where it will become illegal to grow, share, trade or sell homegrown food.  While others see it as a measured way to control the health and quality of factory farms. One thing is for sure, S.510 gives more power to the corrupt FDA to regulate our food.  And there is renewed interest in the Senate to pass this bill since the recent massive egg and meat recalls due to salmonella and E. coli outbreaks.

This bill does nothing to change the actual practices of factory farming and the way the food for animals is grown and delivered.  It does give the FDA draconian powers to force inspections to be paid for by the farmers themselves.  This can be an effective tool for the big multinational agri-corporations to further squeeze out their competition and gain near complete control of food resources in America.  Furthermore, S.510 essentially hands much of the FDA’s duties over to the liberty-smashing Department of Homeland Security — which is mentioned 41 times in the bill.

All 273 pages of the bill contain legalize that can be difficult to decode, but one of the easiest ways to determine if it is good for average Americans is to view who is supporting the bill, versus who opposes the bill.  Monsanto and other agri-monopolies support the bill with full force.  Indeed, some speculate that they even wrote the bill themselves.

Sadly, this bill is gaining momentum because of the recent food recalls.  One way or another, our corrupt politicians and their corporate overlords will see to it that there is more regulation over our food.  If this bill passes, we can expect more consolidation in agriculture and more police-state raids of private health-food cooperatives.  Worse yet, this bill may just be the primer for the even more egregious bill HR.759 Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act, which fully restricts local food producers and natural health remedies.

Food freedom starts at home with the individual choices that we make.  However, exposing the corrupt regulatory system and educating the powers that be about healthier ways to produce food is also vital to maintaining our food freedom.  It’s time we tell the corporate government to back off our food.



Organic produce superior to conventional on every level, study finds

http://www.naturalnews.com/029639_organic_produce_health.html

Thursday, September 02, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson

(NaturalNews) Mainstream nutritionists often claim that conventional produce is no different than organic produce. But a new study recently published in the online, peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One proves otherwise, revealing that organic fruits and vegetables pack a greater nutritional punch and produce better, healthier soil than their conventional counterparts.

John Reganold, professor of soil science at Washington State University Regents and author of the new study, and his colleagues conducted the most comprehensive analysis of its kind on commercial produce soil and the strawberries that grow in it. (Conventional strawberries, as many now know, are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits available for sale.)

Reganold and his team analyzed 31 different chemical and biological soil properties–including soil DNA–and performed tests on the quality, nutritional value and taste of 26 different strawberries from both conventional and organic fields. And what they found is truly astounding.

Organic strawberries contain far more antioxidants, vitamin C and beneficial polyphenolic compounds than conventional strawberries, and they have a longer shelf life. Organic strawberries also contain more dry matter per volume–meaning more actual strawberry–than conventional ones do.

In an unbiased taste test, samplers indicated that organic strawberries taste better overall, both in terms of sweetness and general strawberry flavor. And when viewed side-by-side, organic strawberries are more visually appealing.

But it does not stop there. In soil tests, organic soils tested extremely rich in key nutrients, enzymes and biological and chemical elements, that are otherwise lacking in conventional fields. Such soil nutrients are vital for producing nutritionally-rich fruit, as well as for maintaining healthy soil conditions that preserve and promote environmental integrity.

The study also revealed that organic produce can be raised with the same–or better–yields as conventional produce, but without all the harmful chemicals and pesticides that destroy both human health and the environment.


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