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This summer has been extra hot and smoggy in Toronto, and difficult to bear following last summer’s very comfortable temperatures of 24C – 25C. This is probably why I have been living on a great many salads this summer, as a survival technique. Here is one more recipe that I discovered in the process of trying new things recently:
Grate new raw beets (I use the second largest size on my grater) into a bowl. The beets should be crisp and juicy.
Wash carefully a fresh lemon with soap and water, then using a zester, peel bits of the rind into the beet mixture.
Add freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of salt to taste.
If you have it, cut some fresh dill weed into the salad. Stir well.
Although this is not a traditional salad, nor a traditional use of beets, it is absolutely delicious, and worth a try.
Summer is the traditional time to stock up for the winter. So, when blueberries reached a low peak a week or so ago, I bought six packages and transferred them into plastic bags and put them in my refrigerator freezer. Unfortunately, raspberries never reach a low peak in prices and I don’t have a garden, so I can’t freeze them, but I do buy prune plums and pit them, then freeze them, and cranberries when they are harvested in early October. Then I have these lovely beneficial fruits to bake/cook with during the long winter months when I simply couldn’t afford to buy the frozen ones in the grocery store.
Recently a friend forwarded to me an article regarding problems created by genetically modified crops. Interestingly, the crop that was grown was rape, whose seeds are used for cooking oil and called canola oil. The article came from the English newspaper, The Guardian, and talks about the fact that two years after a three-year trial of growing GM rape they have discovered that there has been cross-fertilization between the rape plants and a distantly related plant, charlock. The mutated form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had previously grown GM rape on an experimental basis, and when scientists treated it with a lethal herbicide, it showed no ill-effects. As well, when the scientists collected weed seeds from the same field and grew them in their laboratory, two other plants (both wild turnips) were also herbicide resistant.
Here is part of the article:
Farmers the world over are always troubled by what they call "volunteers" - crop plants which grow from seeds spilled from the previous harvest, of which oilseed rape is probably the greatest offender, Anyone familiar with the British countryside, or even the verges of motorways, will recognise thousands of oilseed rape plants growing uninvited amid crops of wheat or barley, and in great swaths by the roadside where the "small greasy ballbearings" of seeds have spilled from lorries.
Farmers in Canada soon found that these volunteers were resistant to at least one herbicide, and became impossible to kill with two or three applications of different weedkillers after a succession of various GM crops were grown.
The new plants were dubbed superweeds because they proved resistant to three herbicides while the crops they were growing among had been genetically engineered to be resistant to only one.
To stop their farm crops being overwhelmed with superweeds, farmers had to resort to using older, much stronger varieties of "dirty" herbicide long since outlawed as seriously damaging to biodiversity.
Where are GM crops grown?
Extensively in the wide open spaces of the US, Canada and Argentina. In Europe, Portugal, France and Germany have all dabbled with GM insect-resistant maize. Spain plants about 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of it each year for animal feed.
What is a superweed?
Many GM crop varieties are given genes that allow them to resist a specific herbicide, which farmers can then apply to kill the weeds while allowing the GM crop to thrive.
Environmental campaigners have long feared that if pollen from the GM crop fertilised a related weed, it could transfer the resistance and create a superweed. This "gene transfer" is what appears to have happened at the field scale trial site. It raises the prospect of farmers who grow some GM crops being forced to use stronger herbicides on their fields to deal with the upstart weeds.
Have superweeds surfaced elsewhere?
Farmers in Canada and Argentina growing GM soya beans have large problems with herbicide-resistant weeds, though these have arisen through natural selection and not gene flow through hybridisation. Experiments in Germany have shown sugar beets genetically modified to resist one herbicide accidentally acquired the genes to resist another - so called "gene stacking", which has also been observed in oilseed rape grown in Canada.
We might be able to smugly shrug off this information as “it doesn’t affect me, after all canola oil is an avoid for all B’s and some O’s”. However, the GM invasion continues to grow and fester. This summer, to my great disappointment, I have discovered that the watermelons generally sold in the city of Toronto are all of the GM seedless variety, and that this watermelon gives me a very big tummy ache when I wake up if I eat it in the evening. The last time I did this (less than a week ago), I had to go back to bed and slept for three hours and was very draggy all the rest of the day. This is, frankly, a scary proposition. Watermelon is a beneficial food for me, I love it, and it now makes me sick. Where will it end? I don’t even want to follow this thought to a logical conclusion.