Category Archives: Ethnobotany

Permaculture Basics For Gardeners

Earth Care. People Care. Fair Share. The three ethics of Permaculture can be used in your garden to make your plants and soil thrive. Permaculture design is based on the observation of nature and when applied in your garden can increase crop yields, improve plant and soil health and lessen your work load.

To learn  how to apply Permaculture design in the garden, I spoke with Christopher Shein, a Permaculture teacher, seed saver, gardener and activist. Christopher is the author of the Vegetable Gardener’s Guide To Permaculture: Creating An Edible Ecosystem.

Christopher Shein

Christopher Shein

Click here to listen to my interview with Christopher on Sustainable World Radio.

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Environment, Ethnobotany, food, Gardening, Green Living, Organics, Permaculture

The Last of the Non GMO Corn Speaks Out!

I’ve interviewed farmers, scientists, ecologists, and permaculture designers, but until today I’d never interviewed a plant.

A Conversation With Corn

J (Jill Cloutier)-  Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.  Tell me a bit about your background.  Where were you born?

Corn (C)-  My name is as  Zea mays.  I’m a member of the Poaceae family, the grass family.  All cereal grains belong to my family, including wheat, rice, and rye.  I’m an Annual, a monocot, and believed to have been  born in Mexico thousands of years ago.  Like anything that’s been around for a long time,  I’ve had my ups and downs.  For millennia, I roamed the earth. My seeds were saved and passed down from generation to generation.  I was venerate and revered and used as food, fiber and in ceremony.  But, now that  Monsanto’s got a hold of me, I’ll never be the same.

J-  That brings me to the issue that I wanted to talk with you about today.  Genetic modification and the large role that you’ve played in this controversial topic.

C-  I didn’t volunteer for the job.  I never asked to be modified.

J-  What does it mean when something is genetically modified?

C-  It’s a laboratory process where the genes from the DNA of one species are taken out and put into the genes of an unrelated animal or plant.  The genes can be from insects, animals, humans, bacteria, or viruses.

J-  I’ve read that 85% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified.  How do you feel about being one of the most widely genetically modified plants?

C-  At first, my reaction was one of complete and utter despair.  But now, I’m pissed.

J-  Why?  What happens when you are genetically modified?

C-  This gets a little personal, but basically it can happen in a number of ways, genes can be shot from a gene gun into a plate of cells.  Or bacteria are used to invade cells with foreign DNA.  The changed cell is cloned into a plant.  Most commonly, a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis  is injected in me, so I secrete an insecticide that kills corn root worm pests.

J-  I have no idea what that means, but it sounds terrible.

C-  I’m a food crop that’s bio-engineered to produce my own internal insecticide.  Quite frankly, it’s abusive.  I’d rather have a rootworm eating me then be violated like this.

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