Sunday, July 11, 2010

Transgenic Goats, Obese Pigs, and Stolen Bikes, Oh my!

Prepare yourselves for a long rant.

So I think that I've officially been banned from having the right to pick out museums forever... Since we got here, I was really looking forward to going to the Canadian Agricultural Museum, as both a farmer and food fan. Because it was a gorgeous day, we decided to break out Andrew's brand new bike and ride there. Before we got there though, we made a quick stop at the Lansdowne Farmers Market where I saw this very entertaining carrot alien plant life:

(little did I know, this was preparing me for the rest of my day...)

Speaking of carrots, I made these carrot muffins in the dehydrator last night. I was trying to follow a new recipe for carrot cake I found, but found it very tasteless once I'd finished the mix. Instead of wasting it, I waved my own magic wand over it and turned it into something tasty. In the end, I used carrots, an apple, coconut flakes, ground spelt berries, cinnamon, salt, maple syrup, and chocolate chips. I iced them with a lemon cashew frosting made up of cashews, water, agave nectar, lemon, and a dash of salt. Finally, I topped them with candied walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (all of those mixed with cinnamon, salt, and maple syrup, then dehydrated). Haven't tried them yet, but they sure are pretty!

But back to my freakish day... After a beautiful ride around the Ottawa canal, we got to the core of the Canadian government's agricultural space. I should have known better than to come here considering that most of their grounds are called "the Experimental Farm." Does experimental sound like a safe word to you? Considering that Canada is one of the world's top 3 GMO producing countries. I think "experimental farm" is a good euphemism for "place where scary gene manipulation happens that we don't ask our citizens about first". I hope I didn't get any GM-cross pollination in my lungs...

Despite that, I maintained my positive gung-ho attitude. I was initially very psyched about this whole trip. I thought this would be a place I could really relate to (if the pic is too small, it says "Friends of the Farm" on it):

But then we got to the actual museum... First stop, the animal barn. At that point, we were starting to figure we had crossed the gates into some animal welfare hell. Most of this I actually ended up not even having the heart to photograph. It started with completely depressed, overgrown, overfed, and sick looking cows (not that they were actually physically ill, but they were visibly not doing well). We then saw pigs that were literally bigger than me (I just can't imagine these ever existing before the advent of hormones). And finally, I saw this fun relatively normal looking goat:

which was great, until I turned a corner and saw this sign:


We knew then that I had definitely taken us to a Disneyland of mutant animals. However, none of the exhibit information panels even acknowledged that anything was wrong at all. Instead, it talked about how wonderful and profitable the Canadian pork industry is, how we get all sorts of products from cows, that transgenic mutation has all sorts of benefits (and insisted that the GM-goat is a totally "normal goat"... you know, the only difference being scientific manipulation and the fact that it now contains recombinant spider silk proteins in its milk... yes, spider genes). They also had tons of information on how this is just the way farming and science works now and it's all just peach keen. No questions. No second thoughts. No "maybe we should do this another way"...

I decided to keep on truckin' though. We'd made it this far and I was bound to find something positive about this trip. We next went to the bee exhibit that I had been looking forward to. Of course, that just ended up being a part of the museum funded by a big honey company that probably feeds its bees HCFS over the winter instead of letting them eat their own honey (yes, this does happen). I also learned that this is what we make beehives out of now in large honey factory farms:

Yes, that IS non-recyclable styrofoam. I never knew there was something wrong with a good old beehive. By the way, THIS is one of the millions of reasons we need to support local organic bee keepers. They keep bees happy and healthy and protected from this kind of insanity. They help bees do what they were born to do: pollinate plants, not live in styrofoam, not be trucked into a big box to pollinate pesticide-laden fields and be left to die of colony collapse disorder because we've ruined everything we touch that's even vaguely related to Nature.

And yes, I'm ranting, but today was yet another eye-opening experience for me on how flawed our system has become. No one stops to question it. Other people were just walking by, nodding their heads, like this all made sense and they were learning lots. Instead of asking questions, we are making museums out of this BS and teaching it as fact.

As icing on our cake, someone stole Andrew's bike by clipping our bike lock and making off with it. Luckily, they left mine... but we had to walk home, and it was a real bummer considering he got it under 48 hours ago.

Maybe I should send this carnivorous chickpea sprout we found in Andrew's dinner recently. It was feeding on quinoa sprouts:

What a day... It has at least made me really appreciate that I'm an organic and local-supporting raw vegan right now... You have no idea. Well, at least, I really hope you don't.

And I have muffins.


  1. This is the best post ever. The experience sounds similar to what I see everyday... people munching on fake food and acting like it's REAL. I love when people get excited by GMO food and mutated animals, they say "isn't incredible what science can do now adays?"

    No... no it's not incredible at all, it's simply the result of large egos, unexpressed emotions, and disfunction. What IS incredible, is that you can plant a seed in the ground... give it nourishment through water and love, and have delicious, raw, organic food just months later.... now THAT is incredible to me!

    These experiences always make me feel extremely at peace with my food choices and lifestyle choices. It's all a choice! Thanks for sharing your experiences. As for Andrew's bike.... Dustin had his bike stolen once in Philadelphia and then found it three years later and got it back. So stay hopeful... maybe the bike just has it's own journey but will return in the future :0)

  2. Thanks for that :) I love that there are little pockets of resistance to that way of life all throughout the world. It's just a matter of spreading the message and making it grow bigger!

    As for the bike, funny you mention that because I just made up this whole story for Andrew about the guy who might have punked his bike. A couple days ago our watering can also went "missing" from our garden, so I told Andrew that it's a poor renegade cyclist-gardener who took his bike. He goes around town watering people's gardens with our bike and watering can. I think it's a worthy cause...

  3. Oh dear, I don't think I would have enjoyed that trip. It upsets me the way people don't even question the freakishness of it all. Thank God we have some good farmers who are protecting the natural way of things. Why on earth do people think they can do it better then mother nature?

  4. That's just it. The thing that bothered me beyond all else is the fact that they don't even question whether what they are doing is right or wrong.

    In the bee exhibit, they had one small panel on the "perceived" benefits of things like bee pollen or propolis, but it always said "some people say that X might be beneficial." They would never make that kind of judgement call on their own opinions. I'd love if they said "some people say that GMs may be beneficial," but they don't. They just say "GMs are beneficial".

    Like I mentioned, when you go to an organic farm and pictures of farms 20 or 50 years ago, you can visibly see that cows, pigs, etc. are NOT suppose to be that big. But people don't question that either. Scary stuff... Thanks for reading :)

  5. ...Yikes. I've driven by that place, in cars and on the transit and had Jade tell me what it was about but eeek! That's a lot worse then I thought it would be.

    And too top it off having Andrew's bike stolen! Fuckers...

    least your cupcake things look tasty.

  6. sounds awful...well yet another reason to be a raw vegan. as if we need one more

  7. lol, I know! I was so excited to go. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have dragged Andrew all the way out there, hrm.

    But can't wait to see you soooon! Thanks for all the comments on my blog before this one by the way... :)

  8. At the end of the day, I guess that's what I try to see too! Looking at the positive side of things is always better I guess, so why not just take this as a day of positive reinforcement of my life choices.

  9. Yikes :( I did not know they had a museum like that. The good news is that you 'are in the know' about these things. Believe it or not, many people are not and that is downright depressing.

    I am sorry about Andrew's bike.

    I sent you an email; I have been dealing with my puppy being sick but thank goodness she is better now. She misses you, btw :)

    Have a good week! andra

  10. How disturbing about the transgenic goats!! I thought goats milk was already similar to humans..why do they have to go the next step and do that? Terrible. The factory beehives would upset me as well. Sounds like an interesting field least it made you feel even more justified in your choices!

  11. I know! The deal with the spider silk-laced goat milk is, is that it's not for consumption (thankfully). They claim that the spider silk has high elasticity and tensile strength making it "ideal" for biomedical use, as well as aerospace, military and transportation materials. But that getting spider silk via goats is the only way they claim they can produce spider silk in commercial quantities...

  12. I guess that's what depressed me most. That while we know these things, most people don't and might never! I know the USDA buildings in DC have very similar information and pamphlets and stuff about this kind of thing, but it was very strange to see it as a museum/entertainment.

    Btw, I'm almost ready to send you off your first package by the way! I got your email thanks and reply soon :) I'm glad to know your furbabies are happy and healthy again! They're too cute to be unwell.

  13. Thank you for posting that Meredith, I have to agree completely. I studied Genetics at Queen's University and got some real insider insights into the transgenics field. What I learned is the same thing: that the real "miracle of science" is that these perfect foods and herbs already exist for us. That foods already contain the very enzymes that are needed to make them fully bio-available to us. That everything that we need for optimal health ALREADY exists and that we should be spending our research quantifying and preserving that knowledge instead of trying to re-make inferior version of it.

  14. You're a "miracle of science."