A waggle-dance warning

By: Melanie Weber; Real Food Challenge Team member

In light of the hysteria surrounding sudden decline in bee populations, I found the documentary More Than Honey one that was compelling, informative and surprisingly emotional. Something I truly appreciated about the film was how it brought to life the different faces of honey production. The audience is introduced to the diverse world of bee-keeping; starting with a traditional bee keeper in the high mountains of Switzerland, who maintains his hive of native bees out of family tradition; to a traveling bee-keeper who transports thousands of bees in semi-trucks, pollinating America’s massive agricultural fields; and even a breeder of bees, who tricks the hive into producing extra queens to ship around the world.

While exploring the spectrum of bee keepers, I also began to piece together the personality of the main character, the bees themselves. Approximately 50,000 bees are buzzing around one hive, but not one could survive on its own. For this reason, scientists have chDrinking_Beeosen to refer to the hive as the organism, not the individual bee. The efficient delegation and communication in the hive keeps things running smoothly, as the film points out, because there is no one bee enforcing the rules, but each bee performs a task as if it was assigned. Collectively, an average hive has 500 billion neuron cells — five times the neurological capacity of a human. As a human, an independent entity, it is easy to misunderstand the bees’ relationship to their hive.  More than Honey provides the known science of bees, but also provides the viewer with a chance to observe the subtleties and emotions within hives.

Honey has amazing properties. It is filtered by the bees themselves, creating a food that is free of impurities. It also slightly acidic, helping your body fight localized infections. Plus, honey has additional antibacterial compounds. Anyone who experiences allergies can eat local honey to help their immune system. I want to still be able to enjoy my honey, but to make sure I was eating honey that was produced by a bee keeper who was respectful to the hive that produced it.

I decided to do some research on a local honey distributer: Honeyville, located just north of Durango. After talking with the folks there, I found out that Honeyville purchases honey from smaller producers all over- extending throughout the Southwest, into Colorado’s Front Range, and even into Wyoming. Something that was pressing on my mind was the use of antibiotics on hives. The Honeyville representative I spoke to informed me that bee keeping is impossible without the use of antibiotics. The bees sacrifice themselves for the sake of the honey—believing that it is for the longevity of the hive—and filter all those things out with their bodies. While I was informed that no significant levels of antibiotics can be found in the honey, I found myself equally concerned about the bees’ exposure.

 

 

 

Different Cultures’ Perspectives on Human-Animal Relationships

As a human, are you always thinking about animals? I believe humans cannot live without animals because we depend on them to eat and survive. However, the animals humans eat differ. Each person has his or her symbol animals, which are determined by the environment around the person. Japanese people live on an island, so they mainly eat fish. As many people know, the famous Japanese cuisine is sushi. Native American people live in the middle of a continent, so they eat animals, which live in the continent. Depending on the tribe, the animals they eat are different.

Buffalo and Lakota People:

I chose to write about the relationship between buffalo and Native Americans because I went to a Buffalo Harvest with the Native American Center. Before I went there, I have never seen the killing of animals except killing fish. When people eat the buffalo, they pray for him and express their appreciation for him. I felt how important buffalos are for Native people. “As the buffalo roamed the Plains, so did the Lakota. The entire existence of the people centered around the buffalo’s epic migration across the vast plains of North America – from Canada to Mexico; the Pacific Northwest to the Appalachian Mountains” (Prairie Edge June 16 2011).

http://www.prairieedge.com/tribe-scribe/the-heart-soul-of-the-lakota-the-buffalo/

Grazing buffalo

Photo used by Fair Use.

Fish and Japanese People:

Japanese people cannot separate from fish. For me, fish plays an important part in my food. I grew up in the countryside of Japan. When I went to my grandparents’ or relatives’ house, I always ate fresh raw fish with my family. I learned how to gut fish on a school field trip. I was always told by my mother to eat fish and not eat too much beef or pork for my health.

Since the past animals have supported the lives of humans. In the past, people knew how important the animals were. However, I think people have forgotten this and many people choose to eat unhealthy junk food. They are not eating “real food”. Real food is defined by the as local/community-based, fair trade, ecologically sound and humane. There is an organization, “Real Food Challenge”, which requires 20 % real food in our campus by 2020. Our sustainability team started working to educate students in Fort Lewis College. I want to teach students in Fort Lewis College how important the real food is.

http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/

By Hanae Miyabo

The Truth About Hunting

a gun used for hunting deer

Photo used by Fair Use.

The subject of taking an animal’s life can certainly stir a lot of emotion in people, especially some supporters of the present day environmental movement. Infringing upon an animal’s right to life goes against an ethic to leave nature as it is. So, it seems that in order to be a “good” conservationist, a human being must leave nature unscathed, right? Well I’m here to keep those emotions stirred, by saying that this idea is very much WRONG.

Now, by saying some supporters of the conservation movement frown upon hunting certainly does not mean this is the feeling for all. The focus here is more on animal rights activists and those with similar beliefs. The reasons for why animal rights activists have developed their opinions are understandable, mostly a result of extremely evident mistreatment of animals. However, the fact is that people have known for a long time that hunting is a vital relationship between man and nature. For example, having grown up in an area of the world where hunting meant whether or not food would be on the table during the winter months, I learned to respect what nature has provided. For thousands of years, our ancestors relied upon a diet derived from hunting and gathering and for the most part those ancestors understood the importance of our relationship with the wilderness. Utmost respect and homage was paid to the earth and the gifts it provided us with, even when the taking of an animal’s life was involved. Unfortunately, that ethic was largely lost during the shift from gathering our own food to being able to buy it from somebody else.

Nowadays, it is easy to simply drive down to City Market and buy a pound of beef for $3.75 so it is hard to believe there was once a time when humans actually had to work for their food. Being part of the local foods team at the Fort Lewis Environmental Center has given me the opportunity to pursue a goal to reverse human being’s thinking back to what it once was. Hunting as a sustainable practice may sound like an oxymoron to the uneducated mind but to those who understand the importance of having a full freezer, this claim could be attested. Think of the amount of resources conserved by taking one less pound of grass fed, water consuming, packaged and fossil fuel burning (as a result of shipment) beef off of the average U.S. family’s dinner table. Not only can the practice of sustainable hunting benefit the environment but also the wallets of U.S. families.

There are many arguments and variables opposing an opinion like mine, yet the fact still remains that hunting could eventually lead to a stronger local food system in communities all over the world. It is my goal to bring a better understanding of how hunting can be a means of having stable, sustainable and secure means of putting food on the table to the Durango community and similar communities. Is it possible to polarize the two clashing mindsets regarding the ethics of hunting? Like every other progressive idea, it will take time and energy to reach a consensus.

– Hunter Mallinger

Indirect Domestication of Wildlife

Bears going through garbage

Bears going through garbage. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laura-kali/4675381179/.

We’ve all seen them munching in our gardens or digging through our dumpsters.  More and more we are seeing our towns and cities becoming a safe-haven for what we call wild animals.  While some areas may see this less, in Durango we see this on a regular basis.  We also see a variety of animals entering city limits like bears, deer, and numerous amounts of birds.  From a quick glance this may not seem too large of a problem, but when looking into the effects that this collision has on the animals exposed, this problem is anything but minute.

There lies a clear, common distinction between what is domesticated and what is wild.  This distinction can be easily recognized at a young age and is part of our ability to identify between what is predictable and safe (domesticated) and what is not predictable and potentially unsafe (wild).  This distinction is becoming less and less apparent for certain species living within city limits.  With a constant exposure to potential threats (humans/dogs) deer are becoming more comfortable and may even appear tame.  So what’s the big deal, we all like to see a buck every now and again, right?

There are many factors that are concerning regarding this indirect domestication of wild animals.  These concerns can be divided into several groups, this effect on humans, this effect on the species involved, and this effect on the species new environment.  To start with the more obvious effect that this might have on humans.  One common observation of domesticated animals is a lack of movement in light of a threat.  This can cause many various problems with a wild species unleashed in a human environment.  For example the amount of wild animals hit with vehicles within city limits will most likely increase with 1) population of wild animals that inhabit that city and 2) the time of exposure to potential threats.  With regards to population size, for obvious reasons, the larger the population the more potential for interactions.  With regards to time of population exposure, the more time a population is exposed to sustained potential threats, the more that population will ignore them.  This also can create dangerous situations with potentially predatory animals such as bear or mountain lions due to an increased comfort of not only the animal, but humans as well.

Next we can look at the potential effects on the species involved.  An obvious first example is relocation when found or death when found multiple times.  This can be seen in bear populations that are entering city limits and numerous relocations and killings of bears.  Bears and other wild animals are also affected by eating things that they shouldn’t be eating, such as trash or non-native garden vegetation.  Other effects on animals have to do with specific physiological changes over time.  This involves the constant exposure to potential threats that lowers the fight or flight response within the individual.

~ Drew Walters

Think Local: Save the Frogs!

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Save the Frog - Liz Grogan

In the world of preservation all animals may be equal, but some are definitely more equal than others. We tend to focus on exotic endangered species rather than our own “mundane” local ones, even those in great danger.
There is no reason to believe that tigers are ecologically more valuable than Colorado’s own boreal toad, yet there are hundreds of “Save the Tiger” campaigns, and zero “Save the Toad” lobbyists. Plants are ignored completely. Most people don’t even realize plants can, in fact, become endangered, and are just as necessary for a stable environment as animals.

Thousands of species on this planet are facing extinction due to human destruction. The World Conservation Union lists 3246 species that are critically endangered, with thousands more endangered, vulnerable, or threatened. Less than 300 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild. 150 Iberian lynx survive in all of Europe. There are only 125 kakapos, a type of parrot, still alive. Echo parakeets are finally recovering from a drop to 10 individuals in the mid-80s. So yes, some species are more endangered than others, and most of those do not live in Colorado.

Thirty-three endangered plants and animals live in Colorado. Amphibians face fatal mutations because of our polluted rivers. Fish are dying off and unable to reproduce because of hormones and heavy metals in the water. Not to mention the effects of development and overfishing. Birds have trouble migrating because city lights interfere with their navigation. Large carnivores such as wolves, lynx and grizzly bears are either extinct in the state or nearly so. As long as we live here, we cannot forget about those 33 species. No matter how boring they may seem to us, we need to do all we can to protect them. Without them, our entire ecosystem will collapse.

You can find a complete list of local endangered animals here and plants here.

– Liz Grogan