Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Organic Farming - More and More People are Going for Natural Food

 Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Virtually no palate can resist bagnet (lechon kawali),
in spite of its high cholesterol content.


Abe V. Rotor

Good health and good food go together, doctors all over the world tell us. Even our children quite often explain to us the importance of proper nutrition, balanced diet, fortification with vitamins and minerals. They tell us to take high protein food, or ask us if we are taking adequate calories. Lately such terms, beta-carotene and good cholesterol have come into the picture.

Now I hear a new term, probiotics. The way I under-stand these substances is that they keep our body always on the alert to fend off stress as a result of overwork and diseases. They are front liners and act as defense shield, Now if probiotics and antibiotics (substances that directly kill germs) work together, can we then say we can have better health and longer life?

Apparently yes, confirmed a balikbayan United Nations official who is working on a new food source from cyanobacterla or blue green algae. Again, this is a revolution in food and agriculture by the fact itself that we are now taking unconventional food such as Spirulina, an ancient organism probably the first kind of living thing that appeared on earth.

Going back to the main topic, I would like to see the other side of the fence. There are many reported ailments and abnormalities, which are traced to the food we take, and it is not only for the lack of intake. Cancer for instance, is often related to food. So with high uric acid which leads to kidney trouble. High blood pressure, high choles¬terol, high sugar level. Aftatoxin causes cirrhosis of the liver. Ulcers are food related. So with many allergies.

Given these premises, I would like to discuss a new frontier of agriculture which I believe4 is also the concern of other sectors of the food industry. It is not only that we must produce enough food. We must be able to produce quality food, which ensures good health, reduces risks to diseases and ailments, and prolongs life. This is the topic that I would like to take up with you in this special occasion, the 25th year or silver anniversary of NFA that I was once a part. I am going to talk about food, which should contribute to good health, long life, enjoyment, and peace of mind.

Here then are seven postulates to address this challenge to present day agriculture. We reckon the Green Revolution in the sixties which ushered production gains from improved varieties and techniques, followed by another wave in the seventies and eighties which was responsible in opening the fields of mariculture (farming the sea), and conversion of wastelands into farmlands. We soon realized that there is need “to go back to basics". Thus ecological farming was born. It is also farming with a moral cause: the enhancement of quality life, good health and long life on one hand, and the maintenance of an ecologically balance environment.

1. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO EAT FOOD GROWN UNDER NATURAL CONDITION THAN FOOD GROWN WITH CHEMICALS. This statement can be captured with one term "natural food". All over the world this is a label is found on food grown without chemicals. People are afraid of becoming sick because of the chemicals introduced into food. They know that chemical fertilizers and pesticides go with the crops and are passed on to the body destroying our organs and systems.

2. PEOPLE ARE AVOIDING HARMFUL RESIDUES AND ARTIFICIAL ADDITIVES IN FOOD. A trace of certain farm chemicals is enough to condemn a whole shipment under the rules of the US Food and Drug Administration. One kind of residue that people are avoiding is antibiotics. Poultry and hog farms maintain high antibiotic levels to safeguard the animals from diseases. In so doing the antibiotics is passed on to the consumers. In the first place our body does not need antibiotics. But every time we eat eggs, chicken1 pork chop, steak, and the like, we are taking in cumulatively antibiotics. This makes our immune system idle. This punishes certain organs like the kidney and liver. To others, antibiotics cause allergy.

Another culprit is radiation. Traces of radiation can be hazardous. Many countries immediately took drastic action to avoid contamination following the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident ten years ago. Then we have toxic metals emitted from manufacturing and from vehicles. These are mercury, cadmium, and lead, to name the most common pollutants in our waters today.

Additives such as food colorings and fillers are looked upon with suspicion.

3. PEOPLE ARE BECOMING MORE CONSCIOUS OF THE NUTRITION VALUE OF FOOD RATHER THAN ITS PACKAGING AND PRESENTATION. Many people now reject junk foods, even if their packaging is attractive. Softdrinks have taken the backseat, courtesy of fruit juices and mineral water. People have even learned that plant varieties have different levels of food value even if they belong to the same species. To a lesser extent this is also true among the different breeds of an animal species.

4. FRESHNESS IS THE FIRST CHOICE CRITERION FOR PERISABLE FOOD. Indeed there is no substitute to fresh-ness, a function of handling and marketing. The farmer has the first and direct hand in enhancing this quality. If he keeps his plant; healthy, their products will 'have longer shelf life. Products free from pest and diseases stay fresh longer.

5. FOOD PROCESSING MUST BE APPROPRIATE AND SAFE.
Processing such as drying, milling and manufacturing, is key to higher profit. The profit that is generated from it is referred to as value-added to production. Economists tell us that there is money in postproduction and marketing.

6. FOOD MUST BE FREE FROM PEST AND DISEASES.
It is shocking to find certain pest in food. So with the possibility that food is a carrier of disease organisms. Reports about infested NFA rice needs serious attention. Poor rice is an insult to the Filipino whatever is his economic status.

There has been news of food poisoning too, as a result of food deterioration, or contamination. Remember the Seven Eleven Store mass food poisoning? For a reputable establishment, such an accident deserves something to look deeper. What is the truth behind image building and advertisement?

7. FOOD PRESERVATION MUST ENSURE QUALITY, AND ABOVE ALL, SAFETY. Be aware of the fish that is stiff yet looks fresh. Be keen with formalin odor. Salitre is harmful, so with vetsin. Too much salt is not good to the body. I saw a puto maker use lye or sodium hydroxide to help in the coagulation of the starch. Sampaloc candles are made bright red with shoe dye. So with ube to look life real ube.

Now I am going to discuss in details each postulate as it applies to the farmer, and the condition of his farm. I will try to relate the issue with actual practices so that we can draw up innovations to improve them, as we explore technologies that would settle certain issues.

NATURAL FARMING
The other name of natural farming as we all know is organic farming, that is the use of organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizer such as urea and NPK or complete fertilizer. In the US and Europe, people go for organically grown food. Lately in malls and big groceries, we find rice in package or bag labeled "organically grown rice". Let me point out that the use of organic fertilizer must be complemented by other factors.

First, the organic fertilizer must be free from pathogen that causes diseases. Second, it must not carry toxic waste or metal as this kind of fertilizer is manufactured from waste materials.

And third, It must go hand in hand with no spraying, or if it can not be helped, at least the spray used is biodegradable, such as substances that are of botanical derivatives like derris, neem and chrysanthemum.

Continued...

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