Raising Native Animals, Overpopulation Solutions, Dealing with the Global Food Crisis and More

Short articles about the advantages of farming with native animals, the protein content of wheat, issues of overpopulation, recycled roofing materials, the effect of TV violence on children and concern about the global food crisis.

Wheat Field

Learn about the changing protein content of kansas feed wheat and more.


Content Tools

Farming With Native Species: The North American bison is not the only animal making a comeback on its native range. The government of South Africa is now telling its farmers that marginal land can produce six times as much income when used to raise wild animals instead of domesticated cattle. "Native eland, kudu and springbok are better suited to this country's environment than imported cattle," states a government report, "and there's no reason why they cannot be farmed." An experiment begun 80 years ago by some Russian explorers who took a small herd of eland back to their country supports that statement. Soviet scientists have announced that eland milk contains twice the protein and more butterfat than cow's milk. It is also richer in several minerals and keeps longer.

Human Burial and Cremation: Human burials and cremations are not environmentally sound. That's the word from Dr. S.L. Henderson-Smith of England. The good doctor writes in World Medicine magazine that "The human body has an important place in the ecology of nature. We do not burn sewage . . . so why burn the dead?"

The Protein Content of Wheat: The protein content of kansas feed wheat dropped by 44.7 percent from 1940 to 1969, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Why? Because modern agribiz adds only nitrogen, phosphorus and potash (but no minor, although vitally essential trace elements) to the soil year after year. It's also quite possible that today's poisonous herbicides and pesticides contaminate the earth and make it less productive. The USDA further reports that 4,000 samples of corn from midwestern states show that old-fashioned open-pollinated varieties contain an average of 82 percent more crude protein, 37 percent more copper, 197 percent more iron and 113 percent more manganese than the "superior" hybrid corns which that very same USDA has been touting so highly for the last two decades. Maybe even the Department of Agriculture is finally getting the message: There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Overpopulation Solutions: Singapore, one of the most crowded cities on earth, is now fighting its overpopulation with a law that sets up a sliding scale for hospital maternity charges. The regulation makes the birth of a fourth child ten times as expensive as the delivery of a couple's first baby. "For the Singapore of the 1970s," says the law, "the third child is a luxury, and the fourth and fifth are anti-social acts."

Recycled Roofing: Take old newspapers, add some cardboard, pulp it all up, stir in an equal amount of asphalt and press the material into corrugated sheets. That's the basic formula used by a French firm to produce Onduline , an easily installed, insulative roofing panel. The product is now being marketed in the U.S. Another technological breakthrough for modern industry? Hardly. Raymond-Gaston Gromier, founder of the concern that markets the largely recycled building components, got the idea in the 1940s, from "primitive" Indians high in the Andes Mountains.

The Effects of Overconsumption: Man is an endangered species, environmentalist Barbara Ward recently told 800 New York members of the National Audubon Society. "No planet can carry indefinitely the freight of population, aspiration, consumption, destruction and exhaustion with which we now threaten the earth. The world could be headed into the 'hungry eighties,' a period more devastating and global than last century's 'hungry forties'."

Desensitized to Violence: TV does desensitize us to violence. That's the conclusion drawn by University of Utah psychologists V.B. Cline, R.G. Croft and S. Courrier, after a series of strictly controlled tests conducted on 60 light and 60 heavy TV viewers between the ages of five and 14. And did you know that 96 percent of all U.S. homes now contain at least one working television set,  and that, by the age of 14, the average child in this country has witnessed more than 11,000 TV murders?

The Food Action Campaign - a creation of the Agribusiness Accountability Project, New Populist Action and Center on Corporate Responsibility - says that consumers can't afford to grow today's crops, but that the corporations in the middle are reaping steadily rising profits on the increasingly contaminated, watered-down and adulterated edibles sold in this country.

Prehistoric Man: "Life for prehistoric man was not necessarily nasty, brutish and short," surmises Northwestern University Archaeologist Stuart Struever, as he oversees the unearthing of 15 separate villages (one of which is 8,000 years old) 45 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri. "Judging from all the clues we've found, early man led the good life in the Illinois River valley. He had plenty of leisure time in which to domesticate pets. It's sheer folklore that primitive people had to struggle from dawn to dusk simply to survive." Evidence gathered by Struever's crew seems to indicate that warfare was unknown in the valley and food plentiful . . . until the inevitable pressure of population growth forced the development of organized fighting a few hundred years before the establishment of agriculture in A.D. 800.

Building Your Home: In addition to the thousands of dollars you can pocket by building your own house, there's another small savings that you may not have known you can realize: The sales tax you shell out for all the construction material you use in the fabrication of the residence during any given year is deductible from your annual income tax.

American Indians: W.W. Keeler, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has been named board chairman of the newly formed American Indian National Bank of Washington, D.C. Barney Old Coyote, of the Crow Tribe, an economics professor at Montana State University, was elected president of the institution - the first of its kind in this country - and Charles W. Swallow, an Oglala Sioux, was named senior vice-president.

The Food Crisis: Although administration officials feel that "the world is resuming the long-term upward trend in agricultural production", many others who've studied the situation don't see it that way. Lester Brown, author of Seeds of Change and popularizer of the term, "Green Revolution", has stated before a Senate committee that a potentially critical food shortage could suddenly blossom in the poor countries of the world because: (1) rising incomes in the developing nations are pushing up demands for meat and grain, (2) the planet is running out of new land to cultivate at the same time some of its best agricultural sections are being gobbled up by expanding cities, (3) the best sources of fresh water for farming use have already been tapped, (4) modern, energy-intensive argibiz may well have reached a point where it costs more to increase production than the added yield is worth and (5) the seas--vigorously pushed as the "farms of tomorrow" during the early 60s--already show signs of being heavily overfished.

Homesteading Success Story: When Eliot and Sue Coleman were featured in the September 1971 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, they were working 16 hours a day on their Harborside, Maine subsistence farmstead with no guarantee that they'd make ends meet. They cleared only $350 from their garden that year. Now, however--reports Environmental Action Bulletin --the Colemans are expanding their goat pasture, enlarging a grain field, building a greenhouse and selling enough organically grown produce to make all the money they want (about $3,000 a year: "I have no idea what I'd do with more," says Eliot). The vegetarian couple also has two healthy girls (four and one) and are reputed to feel so successful and well established that they sometimes itch to pick up, move off into the woods and start all over again!