Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CancunCocoon Episode#11 - Deadliest Catch

Who doesn't know the famous Discovery Channel show about king crab fishing? This is not about crabs, but about everyday vegetables and seafood we eat regularly.

Our food production process is corrupted. We use fertilizers to increase land yield. This makes crops more vulnerable to plague. To combat those, we use pesticides, some of which have been so toxic that they have been already banned, like DDT. At least in the developed world. Or so we hope.

Daniel Goleman quotes an expert in his book Ecological Intelligence explaining an additional problem with fertilizers: “Producing and applying fertilizer contributes sixteen percent of all global greenhouse gases, especially nitrous oxide, which is three hundred times more aggressive than CO2 [carbon dioxide].”

Once the harvest is collected, not only have nutrients been extracted from the soil, but also chemical residue that has been added in the process seeps into the soil contaminating it as well as water reservoirs or nearby lakes and rivers. Some chemicals -like antibiotics we use to combat infection in humans and animals or mercury used in mining- do not biodegrade easily. They flow into water basins and all the way to the sea in some cases.

These chemicals, which pile up in the thousands of tons every year in our lakes, rivers, beaches, and underground aquifers, are being absorbed by marine species, both plants and animals, and in the process, it affects their gene pool. In some cases, they are simply stored on the skin, bones and muscles of those animals and we later eat them ignorantly. Dr Al Sears, M.D., mentions an Environmental Protection Agency test conducted in 300 streams in the U.S., where 100% of all trout sampled accumulated mercury, and two-thirds of them were beyond the maximum threshold that the EPA considers safe. Mercury -he continues- sticks to red blood cells and accumulates in animal muscle, which is the part of fish we eat. Then it gets scary: your body confuses mercury with amino acids, being stored into all tissues and organs of our human body, including the brain, affecting our nervous system. []

Terrifying what we are doing to ourselves. Those of us who know should spread the word. We need culture change. And fast. Suggestions, anyone?

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