I have shared with you all, many times, that I started working in the Natural Foods industry when I was in my 20s. For much of my adult life I have listened to the “real world” tell us we were a bunch of crazy, tree hugging hippies. Acidophilus, fresh yogurt, organic produce?  Sure, why not, they won’t hurt you, but you are just wasting your money. 

Now everyone is talking about our microbiome, and just how important all those bacteria really are. I remember when we were selling Yukon Gold Potatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, and the average supermarket shopper had no idea what any of those things were. Can you imagine stores NOT carrying these items now?

Antibiotics and growth hormones in livestock feed, over use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fungicides, all of these necessary additions to our lives have proven to cause countless problems.  Many people believe the massive dead zone in the Gulf is due to chemicals that enter via the Mississippi. We are now facing the horrifying fact that mutating bacteria will out run antibiotics, and we will not have anything to beat them down. Maybe we, tree hugging, granola eaters weren’t so crazy after all.

Do I have a bit of anger about all of this, yes I do.  So when I read articles like the one in last week’s California AgAlert “Rice Growers May Soon Get New Tools to Control Weeds” I just want to bang my head against the wall.  According to the article, in California, there are 26 pesticide resistant weeds listed on WeedScience.org.  The promise of GMO’s and their companion products, clearly are failing.

We grow a lot of rice in California.  It is a tough crop to keep weed free.  There is no rotation, seldom a break from year after year of growing. According to Kassim Al-Khatib, UC Davis professor of Plant Sciences, who is quoted in the article, “If you cut the use rate, more weeds will survive, and they will develop a resistant population.  A general recommendation is to use the maximum rate and mix products.”  The solution is simple, more chemicals, and more cocktails.

“Application of herbicide for management of weedy rice.” Source: LSUAgCenter.com, Weed Science

“Application of herbicide for management of weedy rice.” Source: LSUAgCenter.com, Weed Science

How does this make any sense? Applying increased amounts of chemicals to fields of rice, that are eventually flooded, seems kind of crazy to me.  I ask myself, why?  Why do we do these things?  The answer is always the same- money.  People have been convinced that food should be cheap, but is it really?  At what point do we look at what we are doing to the land, and to our waterways, not to mention the health of our animals, and ourselves.  Humans have been cultivating rice for possibly 13,500 years! Isn’t there another solution to the weed problem?