- Annual U.S. total turkey production: 244.8 million birds (USDA, 2018). 46 million of these are slaughtered each year in the United States for Thanksgiving alone. (Farm Sanctuary)
- Industrial turkeys on factory farms are created by artificial insemination. A few days after hatching, turkeys have their upper beaks snipped off. They usually live in a large window-less room with thousands of other turkeys, so typically have less than 3 sq ft of living space.
- In their natural environment, turkeys are social and are omnivores. But in a factory farm, turkeys are fed a diet of corn-based grain feed laced with antibiotics, to inhibit the spread of disease.
- Resistance to antibiotics is now a growing concern among many in the medical field and it is largely due to the 29 million pounds administered to factory-raised animals every year. (CivilEats.com)
- They are bred with hormones to be top heavy, so can barely walk by the time they are slaughtered, and are often killed within their first six months of life. As poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. (latimes.com, “Grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal”, 2017)
- Some factory turkey farms collect animal waste in open-air lagoons that can contaminate nearby water supplies. The gallons of water used to produce a pound of turkey at a factory farm equals the same amount of water the average American uses in 100 showers. (localrootsnyc.com)
Scientists: There is No More “Life as Usual” in Averting Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, commissioned by the United Nations and made up of thousands of scientists from around the world, releases its climate assessment reports every 5 years. A new report was issued last week stating that the earth is likely to reach 1.5C (2.7F) warming sometime between 2030 and 2052. It would be worse again at 2C and higher temperature rises. One of the report’s key messages is that we are already seeing effects through increased extreme weather, rising sea levels, coral reef bleaching and shrinking Arctic sea ice. However, effects of further warming will be noticeably different from today.
To limit warming to 1.5C we need to cut global emissions by about 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. This would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air via Afforestation (planting new trees) and reforestation (replanting trees where they previously existed). Examples of needed actions include:
- Shifting to low- or zero-emission power generation, such as renewables;
- Changing food systems, such as diet changes away from land-intensive animal products (meat);
- Electrifying transport
- Developing ‘green infrastructure’, such as green roofs, and improving energy efficiency by smart urban planning, which will change the layout of many cities.
- Switching from fossil fuels such as coal and oil could avoid 100 million premature deaths through this century.
A ‘whole systems’ approach would be needed, meaning that all relevant companies, industries and stakeholders would need to be involved. While transitions towards lower greenhouse gas emissions are underway in some cities, regions, countries, there are few that are currently consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Meeting this challenge would require a rapid escalation in the current scale and pace of change. It is all-hands-on-deck time!
For the full report, a summary, FAQs, and more information, see http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/
 For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70–90% with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2°C.
Eco-destination Malta: 3 places to help you live a green lifestyle, Maltese-Style
During my recent visit to Malta I got to visit three places that are helping the Maltese to live a greener lifestyle.
1) Permaculture Research Foundation Malta, run by Peppi Gauci, maintains the Bahrija Oasis. After passing via a small path through a stand of bamboo, one enters a beautiful area transformed from previously unproductive land into a peaceful, lush and self-sustaining green sanctuary. Based on principles of permaculture which embrace nature as its prime example of design, Peppi and his team grow fields of vegetables organically, and grow plants via aquaponics– plants grow over a small man-made pond–as the plant roots feed on the waste of the fish, the fish feed off the nutrients provided by the plants. The Bahrija Oasis site is solar powered, and there is a system of composting toilets also called “humanure” toilets, which do not use any water and produce compost that can be used on ornamental plants. The site features circular geodesic domes which are used for meditation and meetings. The Foundation offers retreats and training courses for those wishing to learn by this inspiring example.
2) Vincent’s EcoFarm is a certified organic farm in Mgarr. I visited while in Malta, and it was a real treat to see the large variety of beautiful plants growing there including numerous vegetables, herbs olives and red Gellewza grapes, which are indigenous to Malta. The farm has a mobile trailer for chickens who naturally fertilize the soil with their droppings, and are not killed– they are left to live out their natural life. People can come to pick up vegetables and preserves on a daily basis. The farm is owned by Gloria Camilleri (who drives an adorable electric vehicle), and is named after her father Vincent. The farm is operating a beautifully decorated, modern yet rustic bed and breakfast, and hosts healthy eating and yoga workshops.
3) D Street – Dressed by Nature ecofashion store in Sliema features stylish clothing made from eco-friendly, plant-based fabrics including organic cotton, Tencel (from eucalyptus), and bamboo. Owned by a young Italian woman, there are clothes for both men and women, for work or casual, and there are even socks and hemp shoes for sale. Items are made in Italy the US and other countries and are fair-trade conscious.
More Green Malta tips: There is a Vegetarian Society of Malta and a growing number of healthy eateries, such as The Grassy Hopper and Gugar in Valletta. Health food stores such as Casa Natura in Sliema and Good Earth in St. Julian’s help support a healthy lifestyle. While most local farms may use pesticides, as part of the European Union, Malta does not allow the growing of genetically modified crops, and GMO products are labeled. And, Malta was the first country to ban the use of the chemical Glyphosate (Roundup)!
Thinking Twice About Fish Oil Supplements
It is very important to our brain, eye & heart health, mood, and immune system to consume healthy levels of Omega 3 fatty acids (in specific, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)). While they can be obtained by consuming fish, fish do not produce Omega 3s — fish derive them from microalgae. Some fish may be contaminated with mercury and other toxins that bioaccumulate up the food chain. (For information on safer fish, see the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition’s “Fishful Thinking” resource.) Fish typically used for supplements include Cod liver, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, Herring, and Salmon. These don’t tend to be high in mercury but may contain PCBs.
There are, however, concerns about impacts to marine ecosystems from fish farms and overfishing of oceans, meaning taking fish out faster than they can reproduce. According to World Wildlife Fund, “More than 85% of the world’s fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limits… Several fish populations (e.g. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna) have declined to the point where their survival as a species is threatened.” (For more information on which fish populations are threatened vs. more sustainable, see seafoodwatch.org). Since fish are living beings that feel pain, there is also an ethical issue with unabated consumption; humans need to awaken to this and take responsibility. Not to mention recent news of fish being found with plastic particles in their stomachs due to human pollution.
The good news is that there is no need to consume fish. Some companies market Omega 3s made directly from microalgae. For example, Nordic Naturals offers Algae Omega. It is recommended to obtain a minimum of 250-500 mg of Omega 3s per day, and this product contains 570 mg (320mg of DHA and 180mg of EPA). Another product, Ovega-3 Vegetarian/Vegan Omega-3, contains 135 mg EPA, 270 mg DHA. Other non-fish sources of Omega 3s include:
Note that these contain the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which the body can convert to EPA and DHA, though the conversion is not perfect so you may want to consume a bit extra. Omega 3s must also be balanced with intake of Omega 6 (we need less of that), so be sure to do your research on what is right for you.
– By: Beth Fiteni
Earth Day tip: Stop Food Waste!
Movie review: “Just Eat It”
Did you know that about 40% of food produced globally goes to waste? That before it even makes it to market, 20-70% of fruit gets discarded just because of aesthetics? And that households, not restaurants or grocery stores, are the largest source of food waste?
All food contains embodied energy and resources – for example, a 1/3-pound burger requires 660 gallons of water. In addition to the ethical issue, 97% of the food wasted goes to landfills, where it ends up creating methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. People often think that the “sell by” or even “best by” dates are the date by which it must be consumed- this is not the case. Food is often good for days or weeks after that. All of this is highlighted in the recent film, Just Eat It, which follows an American couple who lived off food waste for 6 months — not buying any food, only eating what was discarded. Seeing them find trash bins full of fresh food was depressing and eye-opening.
So what can we do?
- Take stock before shopping so you only buy what you need
- Prioritize perishables in your fridge, and store them in Green bags that keep food fresher longer (debbiemeyer.com/products)
- Freeze and label leftovers
- Support groups like Community Solidarity which rescues food and gives it to those in need right here on LI
- Help raise awareness; that’s what led to legislation like the Good Samaritan Act of 1996 which encourages food donation to nonprofit groups
For more tips on not wasting see: foodwastemovie.com
Books on Food Waste:
- American Wasteland, by Jonathan Bloom
- Waste, by Tristram Stuart
Film Review: “Seed”
A key message of the new documentary Seed is that though the human race depends on a few main crops, the biodiversity of the earth is vast and there are many varieties of plants that we have not endeavored to cultivate. This not only dulls our palate, but is also a cause for species and biodiversity loss. Currently, 90% of the world’s seeds are sold by chemical companies like Monsanto. Many are genetically engineered and patented, placing genes from one species into other species, to encourage desirable traits such as increased growth and weather tolerance. But this doesn’t mean they are infallible. In fact, 1.4 billion lbs of pesticides are used globally each year. The film showed a community in Hawaii suffering health effects from pesticide drift on Monsanto test fields. Renowned activist & author Vandana Shiva pointed out that spliced genes may carry viruses with them, and that genetic engineering takes place throughout the food supply though nobody has actually voted for it. The film features a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto for patent infringement, because his field became cross-pollinated with their genetically altered seed. If a farmer buys a company’s seed believing the advertisements that it’s better than the seed he/she saved, and that crop fails, then the next year the farmer has to buy new seed again but may lack funds to do so. In India, 270,000 farmer suicides have been recorded due to debt.
This is why saving seeds of original, heirloom plants is so important. Large seed banks in New Mexico and Norway have been established. The international organization Slow Food maintains the “Arc of Taste” featuring numerous uncommon edible plants from around the world. On Long Island, the LI Regional Seed Consortium hosts an annual seed swap in Riverhead. See www.lirsc.org. The LI “cheese pumpkin” was almost eliminated in favor of other varieties, but several local farmers had saved the original seeds and the cheese pumpkin is making a comeback. One LI farmer, part of the consortium, raises 350 varieties of tomatoes. Many organizations are calling for GMO labelling in the U.S. which is already the law in over 60 other countries. See www.seedthemovie.com and @Seed_TheMovie