42.1% of American honey bee colonies have vanished this year.
Over the last 12 months, 42.1% of American honey bee colonies have perished, according to an annual survey published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The loss of more than 4 in 10 honeybees was the second-largest annual bee die-off since 2010. Scientists have little idea why — but what’s worse is the effect it could have on humans.
Imagine you’re standing in 2011 Japan, surveying the devastation left in the wake of the tsunami. What would you do? We know what we would do: We would fill our drawers with a relentless stream of liquid terror poo. Shigeharu Shimamura, on the other hand, is apparently immune to such humanly fears. Instead, he surveyed what looked like the aftermath of a vengeful god dick-slapping a Sony semiconductor factory and said, “Yep, I can use that to solve world hunger.”
So, his company Mirai Industry Co., Ltd. transformed the factory into the world’s largest indoor farm, and, according to the figures, they’re off to a damn good start: It’s 100 times more productive than traditional dirt farming, uses 40 percent less electricity, 99 percent less water, and wastes 80 percent less food.
Today journalist Barry Estabrook talks about the conditions of industrial pig slaughterhouses:
“Of all the things I saw, the thing that hit me the hardest, twisted my guts the hardest, was when I walked into a low, dark barn in Iowa and in that barn there were 1,500 sows, pregnant female pigs, and they were all in individual cages that were too small to hold them. … When they did have their babies they would move into something called a 'farrowing crate’ which allowed the sow no more room to move, and you take these intelligent, inquisitive, emotional creatures and confine them to a lifetime — it would be like being confined to a coffin for a lifetime or worse than your dog being confined to its travel case for a lifetime. But that’s the way 80 percent of the sows in this country live their entire life.”
Estabrook’s new book is called Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat
Urban areas have particular difficulty providing consistent access to nutritious food and fresh produce. Such circumstances are particularly acute in low-income neighborhoods, where people may not have access to transportation.
Local urban gardens and farms provide a source of fresh, affordable produce available to the whole community
“Chickens on an unsupplemented vegetarian diet typically fall short of an essential protein-based amino acid known as methionine, and without it, they fall ill. Worse, the birds will also turn on each other, pecking at each other in search of nutrients, and these incidents can escalate into a henhouse bloodbath, farmers say.”
Terry Gross: Am I right in saying that Central California has more water to draw on than the rest of California?
Mark Arax: The middle of California is a land rich with rivers and it’s also a land that a long, long time ago was ocean. It was an inland sea, so a lot of that water percolated down—there’s a deep, deep, deep aquifer here and that aquifer is what farmers have long drawn on to grow their crops. Their water was then supplemented by surface water, as it’s called, from the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, but when those projects are dry like they are now, the farmer then returns to deep, deep, into the earth to pump out his groundwater. This water, if you were to do carbon testing or something on it, it would go back thousands and thousands of years in some cases, and as it’s being pumped out, the land is sinking and that’s because the aquifer is starting to collapse. All those layers and layers that have water in them—water is being sucked out. The land then is collapsing on itself.
As much this state is regulated and as cutting edge as we are in terms of environmental laws and everything else, we have never regulated the groundwater in California and we’re just starting to now. No one knows how many wells have been stuck into the ground, how many pumps are pumping out water. They had no idea. The counties aren’t required to even keep that information.
Some rabbits came to eat the vegetables in my vegetable garden. I prayed to Saint Francis, and he granted me with a gift of communication with them. So I started to negotiate with the rabbits. I promised them to give them rotten vegetables, if they stop ravaging my garden. So now I have my own rabbit farm. They listen to me, I feed them, and everybody’s happy. I thank for that.