Thursday, April 25, 2013


Dumb Question: Can 7 Billion People Eat My Weight in Meat?

Employees pack sausages at a French firm specialized in canned cooked dishes and condiments, on January 11, 2013. 

Photographer: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP via Getty Images

By Eric Roston Apr 25, 2013 5:04 PM ET

Vaclav Smil has a lot to say and is never shy about saying it. 

He’s written more than 30 books about energy, ecology, food and agriculture, China, the U.S. and more. 

He's in the process of publishing three more within 12 months: Harvesting the Biosphere (MIT Press; December 2012), Should We Eat Meat? (Wiley; June) and Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing (MIT Press; October).

He fielded this Dumb Question by phone from the University of Manitoba, where he’s Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environment and Geography.

Dumb Question: What does "sustainable agriculture" mean?

A: It fundamentally depends on how you want to feed people.

 If 7 billion people [want] 100 kilo[gram]s of meat as Americans do, that's a different proposition from people eating at an Indian level, which means, basically, a little bit of chicken maybe twice a year.

 Basically a vegetarian diet.

DQ: I want everybody in the world to be able to shop at a Fairway --

A: You see that's just the thing… What is the "fair way"?

DQ: No, no, no. I want everyone to be able to shop at a Fairway grocery store like they have on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with lots of organic food.

A: Okay, okay. So that means 100 kilos of meat per capita and that's a different proposition. 

Most of the people -- look at India, 1 billion-plus people -- meat consumption is like, whatever, 10 kilos. I just finished a new book on it. It's coming out in May, called Should We Eat Meat, so I have all these figures in my head. Even in Europe, Germany's now down. Meat-eating is down sharply in Europe.

Australia, Canada, United States -- 100 kilo-plus per year per capita. If you want to feed people at that level it's a different story altogether. You feed the animals and you lose 90-plus percent of the energy through the metabolic chain.

'If everyone wants to eat like people in Bangladesh, then we would have food coming out of everybody's ears,' Smil said.

So-called quote-unquote organic agriculture is stupidly defined of course, because the plant doesn't care if you piss on it, or you put ammonia from the Haber synthesis on it, or if you put on organic fertilizer from a cow. 

It's nitrogen, it's nitrogen, it's nitrogen. 

The only way the organic agriculture should be defined is, it doesn't matter what kind of fertilizer is used, if it's a synthetic nitrogen or a synthetic ammonia or natural ammonia.

You will have [crop] losses if you don't use pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, so you have to plant a larger area. There is plenty of arable land to expand into a larger planting, but then you have to cut down some forest. Or you shouldn't grow the crops for fuel.

This question is predicated on so many assumptions: How much do you want to expand arable land? What kind of diet you want? How much meat you want? How much milk you want? Et cetera, et cetera.

DQ: When I hear a company talking about sustainable agriculture, how should I understand them?

A: You should laugh at them… You laugh at these people who tell you they are sustainable.

 Where did the trucks come from?

 Where did the aluminum irrigation pipes, the engines that are pumping the water from the Ogallala Aquifer… How does all that happen?

 That happens by the sun shining on it?

Today’s American farming is ‘’sustainable’’ only as long as there are incessant flows of fossil fuels to make and power the machinery it uses, to synthesize fertilizers and pesticides and to pump all that irrigation water. 

Behind every morsel of bread, fruits or meat is a large amount of transformed fossil fuels.

DQ: What's the long-term outlook?

A: Something will have to give. 

But fortunately it's not tragic. 

All you have to do is to go from 110 kilos or 100 kilos of meat to 40 kilos and you cut down your fertilizer by half or 60 percent. 

We can do with so much less and still be healthy and blah blah blah all that stuff… We are just simply overproducing.

If everyone wants to eat like people in Bangladesh, then we would have food coming out of everybody's ears.

DQ: So... should we eat meat?

A: Yes, in moderation. 

Evolution has made us omnivores, and substantial quantities of meat can be produced by feeding plant matter whose production does not directly compete with growing food crops: crop residues, food processing waste, low-quality grain, and controlled grazing by ruminants. 

This could translate into an important supply of high-quality protein and dietary iron. 

The American way is impossible and would be globally destructive. 

The traditional Asian way -- small pieces of meat cut-up in curries or stir-fries -- is nutritionally beneficial and could be made environmentally acceptable.

Transcript edited for length. Analysis and commentary on The Grid are the views of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

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Check out this infofgraphic on Healthcare costs in 7 top overseas havens

PERFIL DEL FRAUDE : Cilia Flores, la nueva primera dama «combatiente» de Venezuela

25 abril, 2013


Esta abogada de 60 años se caracteriza por su verbo vehemente y su defensa del chavismo.

 Su marido, Nicolás Maduro, dijo de ella que es una mujer a la que no le gustan «los copetes» ni los actos vanidosos

Con Maduro al frente del país, Flores se convertirá en «la primera combatiente de la patria», una mujer a la que no le gustan «los copetes» ni los actos vanidosos, ha dicho Maduro.

Abogada de 60 años, Flores fue defensora de Chávez tras su fracasada intentona golpista de 1992; luego fue diputada, del 2006 al 2011 presidenta del Parlamento y en 2012 fue designada procuradora general, un cargo del que se separó al arrancar la campaña de Maduro.

Su verbo vehemente, su defensa a ultranza del chavismo y su incondicionalidad a Chávez distinguen a esta militante oficialista que muchos creen que ejercerá una fuerte influencia en Maduro.

Flores y Maduro no están casados ni tienen hijos en común, pero comparten su vida desde hace unos 20 años, con los tres hijos del antiguo matrimonio de Flores y el hijo del ahora presidente.

FOCUS ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY : Harvesting a future for mangoes and their African growers

Phil Hughes and local kids in Kenya. Ten years ago, he was a Peace Corps volunteer there, and came back with an idea.

Rick Nichols, For The Inquirer

POSTED: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 3:01 AM

It was at the height of the mango season in west Kenya that Phil Hughes saw a way to bend the future.

He was a Peace Corps volunteer at the time, 10 years ago. And the mangoes were, well, awesome - creamily lush and sweet, a variety called Ngowe, indigenous to Zanzibar, reddish-yellow.

They were beautiful things.

Hughes is not an animated speaker. But over a salad at the Reading Terminal Market one recent afternoon, he was getting worked up recalling his days in Africa.

"Most of the year you can't get mangoes. Ever. You can't get them in August," he says. "You can't get them in September. Or October."

"Then all of a sudden, on January 1, there are a million mangoes!"

Women with bowls of them rush local minibuses called matatoos as they roll to a stop, pressing them to the windows.

Their price plummets; they bring a pittance at the public markets.

They end up rotting by the side of the road.

"The supply-demand curve is way off," he says.

That is when the idea for a realignment came to him: Why not cut and dry mango strips (and maybe as well the bananas and pineapples that villagers toted on the back of their bicycles) and package them as healthy snacks?

It was not a poetic moment. It was a matter of math: "My idea was if you had 10 mango trees and if 'x' is the amount they can get at [fresh] market rate, they're only getting 0.25x. Dry them for snacks, you can sell them year-round. You could get 100 percent."

Then in 2005, Phil Hughes came home to East Falls and, for a time, forgot about the whole thing.

What would become his line of dried fruit, Mavuno Harvest (Mavuno, meaning harvest in Swahili), would have to wait.

The challenges of importing from Africa, of packaging (at first in an FDA-certified room in his home), of making contacts and winning accounts would come later.

It would turn out, even, that west Kenya was not the most fruitful place for his venture. It would be with a co-op of 150 small farmers in neighboring Uganda.

In the export world, Kenya was coffee country. Uganda, organic fruit.

Hughes' first sale was last May - 36 three-ounce bags ($5.99) of organic, fair-trade (30 percent over market price), gluten-free, no-added-sugar, no-preservatives dried fruit to the Swarthmore Co-op.

It is dried fruit with some difference: The bananas, for instance, aren't the usual sweetened banana chips. They're elongated strips of tiny "apple bananas," naturally sweet, chewy, and moist.

The fruit is not grown on industrial farms. It is cultivated by family farmers in the volcanic soils of the Great Rift Valley, wellspring of the White Nile and Lake Victoria, nurtured by tropical rains and sun: "It tastes good, is good for you," says Hughes, "and does some good in the world."

Each week he has added new customers: the Whole Foods in Malvern has a display rack the size of a garage door. He is in five other local Whole Foods. And in Weaver's Way in Chestnut Hill, and Mariposa in West Philadelphia, and in a sprinkling of health-food stores (most of which he found in Google searches) in Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas. Seattle, go figure, is big.

This month he sold 3,000 bags, a hundredfold increase.

(From $100 in monthly sales a year ago, this April's sales alone are projected at $10,000. Total sales for Year One? $35,000).

At this pace, says Hughes (hopes Hughes?), Mavuno could go national - not only as a sustainable business, but as a reliable cash stream for the co-op of small farmers in Uganda.

But Phil Hughes' detour would first take him in other directions.

He would get a graduate degree in international business at Temple University. He worked at Tastykake's plant at the Navy Yard, overseeing the tool inventory. ("Really boring!").

His Peace Corps work had focused on public health, AIDS prevention, and water sanitation.

So in 2011, he and his father mulled his next move on a flight to watch the Phillies' spring training in Florida: Go back to Africa? Or go back to school to be a doctor?

He enrolled in a premed program at Penn.

Six weeks later, he realized he wasn't cut out for medical school.

It would be back to Africa.

In my notebook, Phil Hughes is sketching a crude outline of Uganda.

It is a Tuesday morning, earlier this month, and he is offering samples in an aisle at the Whole Foods in Devon.

So what he is drawing and what he is saying takes on an extra layer of otherworldliness, another dimension of exotica: in the Main Line suburbs of Devon, Uganda is about as terra incognita as it gets.

He labels Entebbe to the south, the airport that was the scene of the legendary Israeli commando rescue. To the far north are the thickets hiding Joseph Kony, the outlaw leader of the remnants of the Lord's Resistance Army. Wars lap against its borders.

But the stretch of Uganda where Hughes found his farmers is stable today, the boot of Idi Amin long lifted, its reputation as the continent's most lovely garden spot re-flowering.

The mangoes and bananas and pineapples are grown on small, two- or three-acre subsistence corn farms about an hour north of the capital of Kampala, usually as a cash crop (rosemary is another local specialty).

In photographs, you can see fruit mounded on the back of three-speed bikes headed for the co-op. You can see women working in the lush, equatorial fields. And slicing the fruit, readying it for the drying ovens.

In the Whole Foods produce aisle in Devon, cartons of fresh Mexican mangoes are on special, stacked waist-high.

"Muchos! Mangoes!" cry the banners.

But when they are gone, Phil Hughes' dried mangoes will be hanging on.

They have an 18-month shelf life.

Also known as a future.

E-mail Rick Nichols at

Rick Nichols

For The Inquirer


Soil testing is the single most important guide to the profitable use of fertilizer and lime.

 It is in the best interest of farmers, lawn care professionals, landscapers, gardeners, fertilizer suppliers, and consultants to promote the use of soil testing for several reasons like

*  Grow Higher Crop Yields

* Produce Higher Quality Crops And Ornamentals

* Use Fertilizer Dollars More Efficiently

The purpose of soil testing is to identify the soil fertility that the plants or crop, in a given area will experience. 

The soil area and volume could be a large field, a small garden, or simply the root zone of a single tree or shrub. 

The most difficult step in soil testing is accurately representing the desired area of soil. 

A laboratory cannot improve the accuracy of a sample that does not represent the area.

In most soils, it takes more than one year to make significant changes to the soil test levels. As the soil improves with better fertility programs, subsequent crops or plant growth should show increasing rates of improvement. Soils are formed over thousands of years, and are not easily changed in a short time.

Sampling Tools

Tools that may be used to take a sod sample include a spade or shovel, soil sampling tube, or soil auger. Sample tubes or augers should either be stainless steel or chrome plated.

When sampling various soils at different times of the season it is important to use the proper equipment. A soil probe, either a hand tube or hydraulic probe, can be used under most conditions. A small wooden rod may be helpful in removing the soil core from the tube. The soil auger is especially useful when sampling frozen ground or heavily compacted soil that a soil tube can't penetrate. If a spade is used for sampling, dig a V-shaped hole to sample depth; then cut a thin slice of soil from one side of the hole. if using a pail to collect the soil, it should be plastic to avoid any contamination from trace metals. For instance, soil will pick up zinc from a galvanized pail. When sampling wet soils, vegetable oil or mineral oil may be used to lubricate the probe to minimize soil pushing ahead of the probe.

A Few Universal Basics

1. Soil samples can be taken with a professional soil probe, or simply using a shovel, spade, or garden trowel.

2. Each sample should be composed of from 10 to 15 cores.

3. As you take cores of soil, put them into the plastic bucket. Mix the soil thoroughly in the bucket (galvanized buckets will contaminate the sample with zinc), breaking up all cores. Then, fill the soil bag to the green line (about 1 cup of soil). Discard any extra soil.

Soil Sampling Procedure:

1. Samples are taken separately and away from the road side and heaps of the fertilizers or farm yard manure.


                                                                                                                                                                       2. Take first sample of the soil with the Augar or shovel/spade at the depth of 0 to 15 cm.

3. Take second sample at the depth of 15 to 30 cm.

4. Similarly further samples will be taken from the selected are in the field.

5. Put the samples of soil in the buckets depth wise.

6. Note soil depth with the help of marker on polythene plastic bags.

7. Dry the samples at optimum sun shine.

8. Now store the sample for further analysis.





TANZANIA : Mango growers looking for soil experts to add quality to fruit

25th April 2013

A mango tree (File photo)

Tanzania mango growers are looking for experts specialized in soil science to fill the gap of absence of such experts in the mango industry.

The aim is to add quality to mango production in the country so as to meet domestic and international market demand.

An agronomist with the Association of Mango Growers (AMAGRO), Hamad Mkopi told The Guardian early this week that there were many people who are joining mango farming but unfortunately had little knowledge about what type of soils and fertilizer the mangoes suited most. He said such kind of ignorance frustrates their efforts in realizing the goals.

He said presently farmers in Coast, Tanga, Dar es Salaam and other regions were struggling hard to get mango soil experts but were no where to be found.

“Due to this impediment we invite experts specialized on soil science and fertilizers from anywhere to come to our rescue,” he said. 

He said his organization has made discussions with USAID-Tanzania Agricultural Productivity Programme and Feed the Future so that they can also help us in finding the experts.

He called on mango growers in the country to engage in mango production because the demand for the type of fruit mango is very high stressing that Tanzania and other mango producing countries have not managed to supply mangoes in the domestic and international.

Apple mango, Keitt, pulma, Alfonso, Kaiser, Kent, Tommy Akctings, Zill, Ngowe and Boribo are the new varieties which are now being cultivated in Tanzania by mango growers.

“Mango fruit has been recognized as one of the best fruits in the world, although there is a number of fruit flies and pests that cause it to rot or be affected,” he noted.

Elaborating on AMAGRO, the agronomist said his organization was currently working with more than260 small-scale mango growers in Tanzania and the association’s goal was to become a producer of mangoes which meet international qualities.

He called upon Tanzanians especially those in the rural areas to build a culture of eating mangoes stressing that research indicates that mango fruit has been found to protect people against colon, breast, prostate cancers and , leukemia ,” he noted.

According to experts some 100 g of fresh fruit provides 765 mg or 25 percent of recommended daily levels of vitamin A. Together these compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision.

Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotenes is known to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 156 mg of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

It is also a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin-C and vitamin-E. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. 

Vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine is required for GABA hormone production within the brain. It also controls homocystiene levels within the blood, which may otherwise be harmful to blood vessels resulting in stroke.

Further, it composes moderate amounts of copper. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase. It is also required for the production of red blood cells.


Capriles dice que le robaron las elecciones y da plazo hasta mañana para la auditoría

Publicado el 24 de abril de 2013 3:22 pm |

Foto: AM Noticias360

(Caracas, 24 de abril. Noticias24)- El excandidato Henrique Capriles acusó este miércoles al Gobierno de haberse “robado” los comicios presidenciales del pasado 14 de abril y advirtió al máximo organismo electoral que va a esperar hasta el jueves para que inicie la auditoría que se comprometió a hacer sobre los resultados.

Al iniciar su discurso recordó las palabras de fe que envió el papa Francisco al país y agradeció su mensaje de tranquilidad en “un momento tan difícil”. Capriles indicó que la lucha es contra “la mentira” y lo que lo motiva hoy “es la búsqueda de la verdad“.

Denunció que el Gobierno esté utilizando el aparato del Estado para “las amenazas a los periodistas y censurar la opinión que pueda tener cada venezolano”. Entretanto, lamentó que quienes promueven la intolerancia “son los mismos que hace unos meses atrás le mintieron a nuestro pueblo sobre la salud del Presidente (Hugo Chávez)”, insistió.

Agregó que el Estado ha utilizado las cadenas para difundir mensajes de difamación en su contra sin importar el horario en que se emiten tales mensajes, viéndose afectados muchas veces los niños.

El abogado de 40 años expresó que “durante las últimas horas se ha dicho cualquier cantidad de infamias” por parte del Gobierno hacia su persona. “Con todas estas amenazas lo que están es tratando de desviar la atención, tratando de esconder que no hay liderazgo. Ahí no se sabe quién toma las decisiones. Utilizan una cadena de radio para malponerme, para hacerme responsable”, subrayó.

Criticó al actual Ministro de Comunicación, Ernesto Villegas, “es una vergüenza”, dijo. En medio de la rueda de prensa, Capriles acotó que “las infamias” deben ser derrotadas esa es la lucha. También, se refirió a la supuesta persecución a los trabajadores públicos, “no quieren que se conozca la verdad, no quieren que el pueblo vea una auditoría bien hecha”.

“La verdad del tamaño de nuestro país es que ustedes se robaron las elecciones, esa es la verdad, ustedes se robaron este proceso electoral y ustedes tienen que explicarle eso al país y al mundo”, dijo en una rueda de prensa Capriles, que ha supeditado su reconocimiento de los resultados a una auditoría del proceso electoral.

El líder opositor añadió que en la historia de Venezuela ninguna tarjeta política había sacado tantos votos como la de la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática.

“Si son tan bravucones y ellos defienden lo que dicen hagan la auditoría”

Foto: Noticias24

En cuanto al tema de la auditoría, el líder opositor afirmó que el “grupito de los enchufados” no les importa la unidad del país y no quieren “que nuestro pueblo pueda ver una auditoría bien hecha”. Sumó que hasta mañana dará plazo al Consejo Nacional Electoral para realizar la auditoría.

“¿Cuál es el miedo que ustedes tienen, cuál es el miedo al sonido de las cacerolas?”, le preguntó Henrique Capriles al Gobierno. “Esta verdad se va a saber” y exhortó al Consejo Nacional Electoral a dar una respuesta sobre el proceso de auditoría.

“Esto es lo que estamos pidiendo, vamos a esperar hasta mañana (…) La presidenta del CNE dijo que arrancaba todo esta semana (..) Y los venezolanos merecen respeto”, sumó, al tiempo que dejó claro que “si no hay cuaderno de votación no hay auditoría”.

El abanderado de la Unidad enfatizó que “si son tan bravucones y ellos defienden lo que dicen hagan la auditoría, revisemos los cuadernos. Eso se le dijo al país y al mundo”.

Una vez más, el excandidato mostró que los CDI que se denunciaron como quemados se trata de “una mentira. Por eso metieron la cadena, para evitar que se supiera la verdad. La gente que utiliza esos CDI saben que es mentira. Fueron capaces de infiltrar a gente y de autoquemar una de sus sedes”.

La cadena ahora ¿por qué? para evitar que las personas puedan ver la verdad”, reaccionó Capriles, destacando que es un ejemplo del “miedo” del gobierno a que él diga la “verdad” a los venezolanos.

“No es militarizando la electricidad que los venezolanos van a tener luz”

En el tema del sistema eléctrico, el opositor aseguró que no es militarizando la electricidad que los venezolanos van a tener luz. “Son ellos los responsables. El grupo de los enchufados son los responsables (…) El Gobierno no sabe como resolver el problema entonces huyen hacia adelante“.

“La verdad haría que se caiga este Gobierno es cuestión de minutos”, expresó Capriles Radonski.

Expuso que si el Gobierno quiere abrirle un juicio que le expliquen las causas pues, considera que pedir que se abran las cajas y conocer “la verdad”, por tocar cacerolas “ese es el costo, echenle pierna de una, no sigan amenazando. Eso sí me han dicho muchos que entonces tendrán que abrir millones de juicios”.
“Nuestro sistema penitenciario es una vergüenza frente al mundo”

Foto: AM Noticias360

Calificó de lamentable la situación del sistema penitenciario en Venezuela “¿Cuántos presos han sido asesinados en estos últimos años?”, se preguntó.

 “Nuestro sistema penitenciario es una vergüenza frente al mundo. El compromiso que tenemos frente al país es que ese sistema penitenciario cambie“, agregó.

Para Capriles los nuevos cambios en el Gabinete fue solo para “los enchufados”, cambios de ministerio a otro ministerio, consideró.

También, se refirió a las recientes declaraciones del presidente de la República; Nicolás Maduro, en las que aseguró que lo quieren asesinar: “No seas ridículo Nicolás, nadie se come ese cuento, aquí matan es a 50 venezolanos todos los días”.

Invitó a los venezolanos a participar el próximo 1 de mayo a la marcha convocada. “Demostremos donde está la verdad, ningún trabajador debe aceptar el aumento fraccionado,habría que preguntarles si hicieron la devaluación fraccionada“.

El abanderado de la Unidad aclaró que para ser gobernador de Miranda se tiene que tener los votos de esa entidad, “es el pueblo el que elige”. Comentó que en las elecciones del 14 de abril quedó claro el apoyo del estado a su gestión.

En referencia a las acciones legales que el Gobierno pudiera tomar en su contra dijo, “esta no es la lucha de Capriles, esta es la lucha de millones de venezolanos. Estoy seguro que la inmensa mayoría de los venezolanos rechaza esto“.

Foto: Boris Vergara/EFE