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11 Reasons You Should Consider Beekeeping

Chris Martenson - April 18, 2014 - 13:20

A great summary of some of the many reasons one should consider taking up beekeeping to build resiliency into their life.

Also check out the Beekeeping Group Page and the following WSID Articles on beekeeping:  Small-Scale Beekeeping   /   Honey Bee Candy: Winter Feeding

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Categories: Economics

US Gas Will Never Replace Russian Gas For Europe

Chris Martenson - April 18, 2014 - 13:10

Recent entreaties by various US politicians to help wean Europe off of Russian gas are simply preposterous.  The numbers don't add up, and they never will.

Let's begin with the facts:

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Categories: Economics

Functions of money #29

Community Currency Magazine - April 18, 2014 - 11:29
Functions of money #29

Categories: Economics

Postcard from Medellín: A Big WUF for Urban Equity

Shareable Magazine - April 18, 2014 - 09:05

“Is this your first WUF?” is a question commonly asked at the World Urban Forum, a gathering for, by, and about city people that was first convened by UN Habitat in Nairobi in 2002 and descended on Medellín, Colombia last week for its 7th incarnation.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/18 - What's Happening Where In Ukraine, Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Chris Martenson - April 18, 2014 - 07:57
  • Vladimir Putin must be called to account on surveillance just like Obama
  • Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors
  • Ukraine crisis: What is happening where?
  • A Single Pot Plant Uses HOW Much Water?!
  • Why climate change hits the world’s poor harder
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know It... and He Feels Fine
  • Beijing’s Bad-Air Days, Finally Counted
  • Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds' 

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Categories: Economics

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Community Currency Magazine - April 18, 2014 - 04:21

Currency Pilot: SoNantes | Community Currencies in Action
We are very proud� to have this partner with such an exciting currency pilot: the SoNantes , with us in CCIA. currency, SoNantes, was inspired by the WIR system in place in Basel, Switzerland.
Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: The Ukraine Powderkeg

Chris Martenson - April 17, 2014 - 18:22

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish discuss:

  • The Ukraine Powderkeg
    • US policy is unrealistic & hypocritical
  • It's All About Resources
    • Expect more Ukraines as world powers increasingly compete
  • Government Overstep
    • At what point is too far "too far"?

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Categories: Economics

The Underground Railroad Was One of America’s First Co-ops: A Black History Tour of Cooperative Economics

Cooperative economics and civil rights don't often appear together in history books, but they should. From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people's freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading white supremacy. And there was vicious backlash when black co-ops threatened the status quo.

"The white economic structure depended on all of these blacks having to buy from the white store, rent from the white landowner. They were going to lose out if you did something alternatively," Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practice, told Commonomics correspondent Laura Flanders this week.

For more on co-ops in the black community, read our latest piece on late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's vision.

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Categories: Economics

Think You Know What a Farmer Looks Like? Think Again.

Lindsey Carpenter keeps records at Grassroots Farm. Photo by Annalise Canfield.

When Lindsey Morris Carpenter was a college student studying art in Philadelphia, she never expected that, just a decade later, she would spend most of her days fixing up tractors, turning piles of manure, and corralling chickens.

Carpenter doesn’t want to be the Whole Foods of farm-to-table produce.

But that’s precisely what she’s doing. Carpenter, 29, dropped out of school in 2004 and returned to her home state of Wisconsin, where she found a job on a vegetable farm. She went on to apprentice at a larger operation in suburban Chicago and eventually secured employment at an urban farm on the city’s south side, teaching previously incarcerated people how to grow food.

By 2007, Carpenter had decided she wanted her own piece of land to farm, so she and her mother, Gail, bought 40 acres in south central Wisconsin and got down to business—an opportunity she's grateful for since she's aware that not everyone has access to the resources that allowed her to purchase this land.

Today, Carpenter’s certified-organic operation, Grassroots Farm, grows fruit, vegetables, hops, and herbs; she also sells pesticide-free cut flowers and eggs from the farm’s chickens. Being as environmentally sustainable as possible is paramount to Grassroots’ operations, Carpenter says. So, too, is a commitment to provide healthy, fresh food to local people regardless of the size of their bank accounts.

“One of my biggest priorities is affordability,” Carpenter said. She doesn’t want to be the Whole Foods of farm-to-table produce. To that end, she designed her community supported agriculture program to be relatively affordable. She charges only $25 a week for a box of produce, which she offers 16 weeks out of the year.

Carpenter’s been in business for five years and has struggled to make a living; she estimates her take-home income at $1.75 an hour. And while it’s been “shockingly easy” to get support from her neighbors, they’re also “sketched out” by her tattoos, short hair, and unmarried status.

Carpenter is one of America’s new and growing class of women farmers. Her focus on sustainability and social justice represent part of the promise women bring to the sector, while the difficulties she faces demonstrate some of the challenges that stand in their way. Many of those challenges are shared by Carpenter’s male counterparts: inclement weather, insects, weeds, erratic markets, soil erosion, droughts, labor shortages, urbanization, and the expense of sustainable methods that don’t rely on toxic chemicals or machines dependent on fossil fuels. But additional burdens often fall on women farmers, such as childrearing or caring for aging parents.

Luckily, women farmers from earlier generations have built institutions designed to help newcomers. And Denise O’Brien, a farmer from southwest Iowa, has done more than her share.

As times got rough, in many cases it was the farmers' wives who kept the operations going.

O’Brien and her husband, Larry Harris, decided they would grow organically when they first started farming in 1976. They were inspired by the first Earth Day in 1970, she says, and the many environmental issues making headlines in the mid-1970s. She talks about organic agriculture in classic environmental terms of doing no harm and leaving the earth in better shape than how you found it.

But the decision to go organic left the couple feeling isolated from local farmers, who mostly grew corn, soybeans, and hay on conventional farms. No networks existed to provide support to farmers who wanted to do things differently.

“When we started farming, we couldn’t even say the ‘O-word’ out loud,”O’Brien said, laughing. “But we’re out now.”

By the mid-1980s, O’Brien and Harris had started an informal network called the Progressive Prairie Alliance. Ten years later, she’d helped to build several organizations that helped farmers work more sustainably and cooperatively, but hadn’t yet done anything specifically to help other women farmers. That changed in 1995, when O’Brien, then president of the National Family Farm Coalition, was asked to give a presentation at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

O’Brien went searching for case studies on American women working in agriculture, but couldn’t find many. She had read The Invisible Farmers: Women in Agricultural Production, a book by Carolyn E. Sachs about women in the industry. She also had her own personal experience to go on—she had lived through the farm crisis of the 1980s when an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 farmers faced financial failure as land and commodity values boomed and busted, interest rates skyrocketed, and thousands went bankrupt.

As some farmers sunk into depression, O’Brien says that in many cases their wives were the ones who kept the operations going. She believed the landscape of industrial agriculture would change as more women farmers became decision makers, and suspected their role would only grow.

What the numbers show

She was right. The number of women who were named as the principal operator of an American farm or ranch increased by nearly 30 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture. Women composed about 14 percent of principal farm operators in 2007, and that percentage has held steady since then, according to the preliminary 2012 census released in February.

However, that jump may have more to do with what was happening in the census than on the farm. The form used in the 2007 census was the first to allow two primary operators to be listed—so wives now had a place to be named alongside their husbands. The full 2012 census will be released later this spring with data on women as a percentage of all operators, not just the principal ones; in 2007 women made up 30 percent of all farmers.

Part of the picture is that both men and women are leaving the profession, but women are leaving less quickly. The total number of farms in the United States declined by about 5 percent to 2.1 million from 2007 to 2012, with nearly all of those losses concentrated among smaller farms of less than 1,000 acres in size.

And women-operated farms are generally smaller and less profitable than others, according to the new census data. Seventy-five percent of American farms grossed less than $50,000 in 2012; for farms with a female principal operator that figure was 91 percent. About 69 percent of U.S. farms were smaller than 180 acres in size; for farms with a female principal operator that figure was 82 percent.

But it’s not just a picture of women farmers barely scraping by. Census data from 2007 showed that women were more likely than men to operate farms with a diversity of crops, and to own a greater percentage of the land they farmed. Women farmers also tended to sell food directly to the consumer rather than to large food-processing corporations—an approach that the United Nations report has found to be important for improving food systems.

Leigh Adcock, executive director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, said she believes the U.S. food system will be healthier when more women farm.

Growing institutions

Last November, more than 400 women from 20 states and four countries assembled in Des Moines, Iowa, for the fourth conference hosted by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, a nonprofit organization that O'Brien founded in 1997.

"When portions of the population are left out of things then you’re not hearing the whole picture."

WFAN’s mission is to “link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity.” The group encompasses all sorts of women: some who caught the farming bug after careers in other sectors, widows who inherited land, and some who work side-by-side with their partner.

“We don’t just want to link women,” Adcock told attendees. “We want to empower you.”

Women, Food and Agriculture Network Founder Denise O’Brien, left, speaks with Leigh Adcock, the group's executive director, in November 2013.

The network has been expanding its ranks to provide much-needed camaraderie for women working in a male-dominated field and education on how to lead the sustainable farming movement. This year’s conference included sessions on marketing, soil health, cooperatives, research and grants, pricing, pesticide drift, and wildlife and watershed management. Sustainability was a common theme.

The network has grown from 300 members in 2008 to more than 4,000 today, which suggests women in sustainable agriculture aren’t going away anytime soon. But whether more women means an improved food system is a question that must be answered with evidence, O’Brien said. For now, she’s just trying to get women farmers a seat at the table.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that when portions of the population are left out of things then you’re not hearing the whole picture,” she said.

California produce in Iowa's farm country?

Being involved with the Women, Food and Agriculture Network has given Iowan farmer Ellen Walsh-Rosmann an outlet for her message that farmers need to make their voices heard on legislation related to food and agriculture. She has hosted politicians at her in-laws’ farm and has lobbied in Washington, D.C.

“We live in Iowa,” she thought. “What’s going on here?”

“[Lobbying trips] made me realize this is not an intimidating system,” she said. “These people are just like us and they come from where we live, they know the same people we know … but we as constituents can really inform them and tell them those stories and update them on the current situation. That’s what our job needs to be.”

Walsh­-Rosmann moved with her husband to the small city of Harlan during the month of September, a good time for local food. But when shopping at the grocery store for the first time, she discovered only produce grown in California and wrapped in plastic.

Ellen Walsh-Rosmann runs Pin Oak Place, a 10-acre organic farm in Harlan, Iowa. Photo by Valerie Vozza / Oxfam America.

“We live in Iowa,” she thought. “What’s going on here?”

When she and her husband started Pin Oak Place, a 10-acre farmstead, in 2010, they were adamant they would focus on nourishing their community with fresh, healthy, organically grown vegetables and certified-organic eggs. The time she’d spent at Iowa State University studying the social, political, and economic forces that affect agriculture cemented this mission.

But putting her mission into practice has been a challenge.

“I was doing the local farmers market in my town and I was basically giving food away,” she said, meaning they couldn’t make a profit. The farmers have shifted their business operations to focus on wholesale, targeting nearby Omaha, Neb., and its much larger population.

Between raising her son, dealing with her own health problems, and struggling to build a profitable business based in sustainable farming, life has become a balancing act for Walsh-Rosmann. Her network of other women farmers provides invaluable support.

Sena Christian wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Sena is a newspaper reporter in Roseville, Calif., with a passion for social justice and indoor soccer.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/17 - The Coming Global Monetary Reset, Is Natural Gas No Better Than Coal?

Chris Martenson - April 17, 2014 - 08:10
  • Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops
  • London House Prices Bubble, Debt Slavery, Crimea 2.0 - Russia Ukraine Annexation
  • Minnesota needs more vocational students to build the future, leaders say
  • David Morgan Interview on Silver Market, Silver Price Manipulation and the Coming Global Monetary Reset
  • China says massive area of its soil polluted
  • Silver, Gold, and What Could Go Wrong
  • Private Sector Driving U.S. Wind Market Forward
  • Is Natural Gas No Better than Coal?
  • Deadly Virus's Spread Raises Alarms in Mideast
  • Sorrell Braces For Lawsuit If GMO Bill Becomes Law

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Categories: Economics

How NYC is Partnering with Coops to Support Democratic Businesses

Shareable Magazine - April 17, 2014 - 07:34

Chris Michael is laying down some hard truths. The founding director of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYC NOWC), Michael gives a lot of thought to our collective relationship with work and he doesn’t like what he sees. “For the most part, here in the West,” he says, “we’re under the direct, minute to minute, command and control of the investor class.”

Categories: Economics

German village invested in renewable energy and now exporting electricity.

Community Currency Magazine - April 17, 2014 - 03:07
German village invested in renewable energy and now exporting electricity.

A Case Study in Community Sustainability
Have you ever heard of Feldheim, Germany? If not, it’s ok. Truthfully, I wasn’t familiar with the town until a few months ago and have been meaning to use the small town as a perfect example of how...
Categories: Economics

Basque local currency going from strength to strength.

Community Currency Magazine - April 17, 2014 - 01:12
Basque local currency going from strength to strength. (french). Note Basques have a strong sense of community, and their Mondragon coop is world renowned
Categories: Economics

Growth, more growth, then the end of growth…

Beyond Money - April 16, 2014 - 19:09

If you don’t understand geometric or exponential growth then you don’t understand anything about the magnitude of the predicament that humanity now faces or the fundamental changes that are about to occur, one way or another.

I’ve never seen the facts of exponential growth so clearly and elegantly presented as in this video lecture by the late Professor Albert Bartlett. In Arithmetic, Population and Energy, Professor Bartlett shows that even seemingly small rates of growth must ultimately result in a situation that cannot be sustained. He relates the simple arithmetic of exponential growth specifically to human population, peak energy, and resource depletion and blows away the foolish arguments of politicians and pundits who argue that growth can continue as it has in the past.

Bartlett does not mention debt growth, but  I must add that it is an even more immanent problem and the most acute symptom of the “disease” that has infected civilization, that is the global interest-based debt-money system. I urge everyone to view Prof. Bartlett’s presentation, then, if you haven’t already, read my recent article,  Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative.

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Categories: Blogs

Reclaiming Gift Culture

Shareable Magazine - April 16, 2014 - 12:57
What are the different traditions of the gift culture around the world? How can we bring the gift culture practically into our lives, communities, organizations?  What do we need to unlearn for the gift culture to manifest? What miracles can happen when we approach the world from a spirit of deep gratitude, empathy and trust? How is gift culture an essential part of a larger vision of social change and a new story for the planet?  
Categories: Economics

Anti-Gold Propaganda Reaches Fever Pitch

Chris Martenson - April 16, 2014 - 12:03

There are times when the anti-gold propaganda in the western world, or at least the US, becomes just too much to let it pass by. I usually let it roll off but sometimes it needs to be illustrated for what it is.

A deliberate attempt to get people in the west to lose faith in the ability of gold to protect one's wealth, presumably with the side benefit of causing those same people to either not purchase gold at all, or to sell what they already have.

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Categories: Economics

Herbs for Every Herb Garden

Chris Martenson - April 16, 2014 - 08:19

Last year I moved my herb garden right next to my front door, and just off my front walkway. This made it extremely convenient to harvest fresh herbs for cooking as I needed them. I also installed an herb spiral to allow for a wide diversity of herbs to be placed in a small area. Denise and I definitely used more herbs, just because of the convenience factor. Denise can pick herbs without having to put on any outdoor shoes. I did make one mistake when I installed my herb garden. I transplanted some St. Johns Wort very close to my front step.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 4/16 - Ukrainian Banks Quit Crimea, Rising Interest Rates Affecting Loan Repayments

Chris Martenson - April 16, 2014 - 04:53
  • France denies wavering on deficit commitments
  • China expected to show slowest growth since 1990
  • Pain in Spain as bank warns of 10-year jobs blight and public debt leaps €8.1bn
  • Soaring Tuition Costs Force Students To Work More Hours: Analysis
  • Russia Axes Debt Auction as Yields Jump on Ukraine Violence
  • How much pro athletes pay in federal income tax
  • Tax Havens Leave U.S. Filers $1,259 Tab Each, Report Says
  • Bankrupt Detroit Nears Deal With Retiree Group
  • Ukrainian banks quit Crimea
  • Slowdown, rising interest rates affecting loan repayments: Moody’s Analytics
  • Kadner: Chicago water hikes spur suburban revolt
  • Lincoln Park joins growing list of cities in financial emergency
  • North Las Vegas faces budget deadline
  • Food prices rising due to California drought
  • Japan’s jobs go part-time amid Abenomics-led revival
  • Jobless benefits' end didn't spur Illinois hiring
  • Record unemployment with nearly half of EU’s jobless out of work for over a year
  • Police among critics of bill banning traffic cameras in Colorado
  • 46 per cent of SMEs under credit stress, may default: India Ratings

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Categories: Economics

6 Perennial Vegetables To Plant Once

Chris Martenson - April 15, 2014 - 15:28

As you look to plant your current garden this spring or start breaking ground on a new one, consider planting the following 6 plants to give you great produce year after year.

Also check out the WSID Article on Planting Asparagus.

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Categories: Economics