GMO Apple To Debut in the U.S. By 2017

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The U.S. Agriculture department just approved the first genetically altered apple for the U.S. market.  A Canadian outfit has designed, yes, DESIGNED, an apple that neither bruises nor browns when sliced open or bitten into.  I suppose it stays red and fresh for hundreds of years and has a half life of several billion, longer even than a discarded k-cup.  They reengineered the thing minus an aging protein or something of the like so that it appears fresher than it really is.  While it may not brown or bruise, it might taste just as soggy and mushy as a bruised apple would, unless they’ve managed to artificially preserve the crispness, which I admit would have a certain appeal, that is if they’ve not used something like formaldehyde.  I really don’t like soggy apples but I like the smell of formaldehyde even less.  And in my view, there is a place for soggy and brown apples and that would be in a jug of cider.

The Okanagan Specialty Fruit company that designed the GMO apple is planning to add a logo to the apple sticker in the form of a snowflake which would distinguish it from a real apple.  It’s interesting that the natural and pristine snowflake is their choice of logo for the born in the lab apple.  Maybe they are also planning to produce these apples to make Ice-Wine, which I rather like.  But is an apple even an apple, if it’s DNA has been altered? Isn’t it kind of like Froot Loops cereal?  The loops are not fruit, which is why the cereal is spelled Froot.  And like Cheez Whiz, which is the not the reel deel, the Canadian apple should be spelled to reflect its synthetic properties – say Apel or Aple or maybe Apul.  Since they designed out a protein, I think it only fitting the thing lose an l.

No Outlet in Suburbia

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My wife and I rolled out to the Midwest for a high school graduation party for my accomplished and college bound nephew at my sister’s in a suburb of a big city that I’ll call C. to pay tribute to Franz Kafka.  Kurt Vonnegut would have called it a middle western suburb.  Incidentally, we rolled passed the signs to his home town of Schenectady, NY in route.  Now I grew up in a quiet suburb in Arkansas, so I know a thing or two about suburban living, (there should be a magazine by the same name), but nothing prepared me for certain aspects of middle western suburban culture.  In fairness, I haven’t lived in what one could call “the suburbs” in 30 years; we live in an urban suburb where the neighbors are friendly, but guarded.  The streets are loud and busy with tricked out cars dressed in sports mufflers, mean looking bikers straddling snarling Harley Davidsons and aggressive drivers flooring their gas chugging SUV’s and illegally passing all smaller vehicles in their path.  Sirens drown out the jaybirds, crows and black-capped chickadees – sirens which produce a white noise that is somehow urban comfortable.

In middle western suburbia, the most common summer sounds are that produced by the gas powered mowers and weed eaters courtesy of landscaping services.  All the lawns are Monsanto green; all hedges meticulously groomed.  Because all the lawns looked the same, I got lost walking around the neighborhood of treeless yards the size of football fields dotted with linear rows of flower beds full of marigolds and daffodils from Home Depot.

The most disorienting thing of all (like losing the horizon when flying) are all the No Outlet signs.  I think this is a suburban euphemism for Dead End, but I can’t be sure.  It might mean that there are no outside electrical outlets to discourage rogue teens from usurping power for their arsenal of gadgets.  Or it may just be to keep outsiders away.  As my wife and I walked down the streets with no outlets, I could feel the neighborhood watch staring at us.  Admittedly, as strangers armed with a flip case iPhone and a long lensed Nikkon DSLR, we looked suspicious.  I felt afraid and near panic stricken as our devices ran low on power.  We barely had juice enough to GPS our way back to the safety of my sister’s house.

Another curious suburban phenomenon are the speed limits there.  Most streets, even the “major” thoroughfares, have a maximum speed limit of 20 mph.  My car won’t even go that slow.  I literally had to coast to go 20 mph.  The police have zero tolerance for speeders.  And because of the alarming crime wave in the area, a suburb over, where several men were convicted of lawn neglect, teens have a 9:00 pm curfew; just as well, as there are no outdoor outlets for suburban youth.

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Save the World With GMO-free Insects

March Against Monsanto Boston

photo, concept, artwork: Pampi and Lore

The UN says insects might just be the answer to solving world hunger.  Well, as creepy as it sounds, insects are less creepy than genetically modified Monsanto seeds.  I’d rather eat a cricket than corn from a cob the size of a tree trunk.  Yesterday, protesters marched against Monsanto seeds in 436 cities in 52 countries demanding, among other things that food products with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) be labeled, something the FDA does not currently require.  The U.S. Senate recently rejected an amendment to a farm bill to permit states to require labeling on GMO products.  The vote wasn’t even close as senators from heavily subsidized farm states opposed it with help from the biotech corporate lobby.  The irony here is that GMO seeds that can be engineered to be disease free and resistant to drought, herbicides (other than than the ones produced by the major players) and probably even fire too, threaten nature as much as they do humans.  GMO seeds, like imported fishzilla, killer bees, jumping carp and shiny ladybugs, have a tendency to go rogue and invade the native species.  GMO seeds have a competitive advantage over native crops and could literally drive them out of existence.  Soon corn and soybeans will be the only crops left on the planet.  Get ready to eat lots of popcorn, corn-on-the giant cob, cornflakes, cornbread, corn nuts and grits washed down with Kentucky bourbon.  Is this the answer to world hunger?

Frankly, I’d rather eat honey and a variety of plants, but GMO seeds even threaten our bees.  As goes the bees, so goes our honey, plants and our planet for that matter. According to the New Agriculturist, “bees pollinate one sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and 400 agricultural plants” like beans, carrots, onions, cherries, apples and tomatoes. There is evidence that GMO pollen poisons bees.  And if GMOs poison bees, imagine what it could do to humans and insects.

Which brings me to insects.  I really would rather eat a cricket, grasshopper or termite than a potentially poisonous food source grown in a laboratory.  And the many millions of people on the planet who are starving or severely malnourished deserve healthy food, not a chemically created food experiment.  According to the UN study, insects are healthy, highly nutritious and in abundant supply.  In fact, in some cultures, insects are prized: ants, grubs, waterbugs, crickets, beetles, and scorpions to name a few.  And to raise insects for consumption leaves a much lighter carbon footprint than the production of animals.

Now I know the consumption of insects is mostly taboo in Western culture, but in the not too distant future, I can envision restaurants specializing in insects that cater to an environmentally conscious crowd who are against GMO seeds and devoted to eating healthy while saving the planet.  I have some menu ideas for the enterprising U.S. restauranteur:

Appetizers

Fried Cricket Bits

Beetle Tartare

Entrees

Chipotle Grasshopper:  served with spicy termite oil on a GMO-free sesame seed bun

Barbecued Grubs:  grilled and served on a bed of lightly seasoned sea urchins

Dessert

Starfish:  soaked and served in flaming sangria drink topped with chocolate covered ant sprinkles and anise seeds