En Defensa de la Pacha Mama

Posted to Subscribers on 28 May 2013


Dear Subscribers,

Millions of people turned out for the worldwide March Against Monsanto. My friend in Ecuador made a film of the protest in Vilcabamba that she posted on youtube:

A few of you wrote your reviews and feelings about "Seeds of Death"; the range of reactions and emotions was quite intense, indeed suitable for the subject. For your own sake, if you haven't already done so, do watch the film because a proper understanding of the world of industrial agriculture may be critical to your health and the health of those you love.

I believe we all have an instinct towards immortality and this is expressed biologically and/or spiritually. The level of concern of those reading my posts has been such that I indulged in some quite lengthy e-mail exchanges over the three-day weekend. Two people said I was too casual in mentioning my essay posted on

The background for this is that there was a radio broadcast in which a person of influence was calling for the regulation of all herbs used in India. I engaged in discussions with a couple of Ayurvedic doctors and wrote the essay to underscore the differences between herbs and pharmaceuticals as well as to take on the issue of toxicity and testing for toxicity. Obviously, the playing field is not level. For instance, we cannot have non-toxic food and herbs if the skies are full of chemtrails and radiation. If everything were properly tested, nothing would meet the standard, probably not even plants grown in greenhouses because the water has to come from somewhere. Even if it is filtered, it goes through pipes and hoses; and plants grow in soil with various microorganisms, but strong plants withstand the torments and still make decent food and medicine.

It is up to us to observe the plants that have the most strength. This is why I do my small part by reporting what the bees like and which plants are thriving and which are fragile. I don't always give complete reports about the failures, but I am watching constantly to see what is competitive and what is not. Sedums are doing exceptionally well in my yard, far better than I expected since I never succeeded in growing the rhodiola that others insisted is easy to grow. Other sedums are doing wonderfully. The bees love them, and if I sound like a broken drum, it is because we have to be serious. We are all so overwhelmed that we are apt to hear something and then let it pass from our awareness. However, I keep reminding you so that we take more interest in our Mother Earth and defend her (as the title of this essay says -- I copied it from a sign in the video filmed by Galina Sanderson.)

When pesticides were introduced, attention was not given to beneficial insects such as our pollinators and those that are used as food for other species such as lizards, frogs, birds, and who knows what, even spiders. We were more or less indoctrinated so as to believe that we had to kill insects to protect crops and avoid famine. At that moment, everyone should have asked how we survived for thousands of years without these new weapons?

The ecosystem is so interdependent and complex that it does not lend itself to the simplistic models used in science, those studies in which the variables are reduced to one so as to make a case for something that is being examined outside of the context in which it occurs. It is for this reason that I have used more and more of my "old age" to rediscover with the eyes of an innocent. By this I mean, wipe the slate clean and just watch what is going on.

When I moved into the house where I have been living for more than a decade now, there were no birds in the yard. Now, there are many. I did not really understand all the reasons until recently. Of course, we think of habitats, the safety of the habitats, the availability of suitable food, and the climate. I was more or less aware of this because of my passion for birds. This has been an interest since very early childhood when I begged my parents to let me have a parakeet. I wrote a book on parakeets when I was seven. As time went on, I heard of parrots that did not lay their first egg until 55 years of age because they could not find a place to build a nest. I used to try to breed endangered species birds.

Companies that are anti-environment like to poke fun at those who are more concerned about the spotted owl than oil or gas, but we need to think for ourselves and not echo the one liners used to promote agendas.

What has been astonishing to me is how valuable the herbs that grow in inhospitable places are. This awareness began with the herbs used as mental tonics, many of which grow in swampy places that are polluted. One might be afraid to consume such herbs for fear that they are contaminated but if one's mind is clearer after taking them, the herbs must be miraculous. It was even more interesting to me that the herbs used in longevity therapies are often weeds with questionable reputations. However, the yogis swear by them and rely on them for their own clarity and longevity.

If you talk to a gardener, he might say the seeds remain viable for seven years or thirty years, but we know from stories of plants in the desert that seeds can wait patiently until just the right amount of rain and warmth and sunlight occur. When I write up the thumbnail sketches for, I always read about germination, but I take this with a grain of salt because what doesn't grow into a plant one year may very well germinate in the future, maybe my rhodiolas will surprise me one day?

Amaranth is now fascinating in this context. If you call it pigweed, you might think of it as stubborn and challenging or if you have intense and difficult to control thoughts about Monsanto, you may be having a good belly laugh that something this modest might actually bring down one of the most evil companies in the world. If Roundup won't kill it and farmers have to weed some 120 million hectares by hand, I do see change happening! Now, if you call Palmer's pigweed by its proper name, Amaranthus palmeri, your associations may change. You realize that this plant was grown for food by people who lived very close to the Earth and who had remarkable stamina. The young leaves are edible and prepared like spinach. The more mature leaves are not quite as appetizing and may remind us to let the plant mature. Each plant can produce half a million seeds. We can howl and complain (and weed) or we can start eating amaranth and escape the allergies so many have to corn, wheat, and soybeans.

Many of the people snarling about the taste of amaranth are referring to older leaves, not the seed. It was the seed that was used as a staple in the diets of many Native American tribes. Yes, the leaves are edible, but the seed is abundant and if you are a gambler, I would like to know what you are wagering will happen next? The history of this seed is colorful and I want to write about it after a major digression.

One of my favorite courses as an undergraduate had a title something like "The History of Western Civilization on Eastern Civilization." It was very misleading because what became immediately apparent is that a considerable amount of Western culture went missing around the time of Marco Polo. Believe it or not, there was no spaghetti in Italy before Marco Polo brought some back from China. There were no potatoes in Germany or anywhere else in Europe before Columbus and other explorers brought these plants to Europe. What did the Italians put on spaghetti before tomatoes arrived from the New World and just when did Europeans begin putting chili flakes on pasta? Cayenne is not even native to Asia so what did Szechwan cuisine taste like before the adventures of the Conquistadors?

Now back to amaranth. It was the staple food among the Aztecs, and Cortez wanted to destroy the crop so as to conquer the Aztecs. It became a crime to grow it. I suppose he has reincarnated now as a tycoon? Amaranth is not exactly a grain but it is a staple. It has a better nutritional profile than most grains, more protein, oh, and if you like change, just pop it and stop worrying about whether or not your corn is really organic or contaminated by GMOs. How do you spell change? I think the handwriting is on the wall.

As many know, diabetes is now an epidemic and some have implicated corn syrup as the culprit. Interestingly, there was no diabetes among First Nation People until they began eating the food Europeans eat. If you are not sure you want amaranth in your garden, think again. Celosia, one of my favorite plants, is an amaranth, and, yes, it is edible.

Finally, one of my correspondents, lovely lady, is a beekeeper with a passion and she just sent this link to urban beekeeping, yes, New York City!

The books on beekeeping are in along with the book on Invasive Medicinal Plants!

Many blessings,








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