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June 02, 2016     Post 75
How To Save The Lake

Idea for Log On Line

Ways to help the lake a series based on Saving The Beautiful Lake book and video

One of the best ways to help the lake is by changing your diet. Industrialized agriculture takes a heavy toll on the lands of our Great Lakes watershed. While some of the endless acres of tax payer subsidized commodity ag is devoted to corn for ethanol, a great deal of it goes for animal feed.

The tens of thousands of acres of corn and soy as shown by innumerable silty water shots in our video “Quest For Hope” contribute both excessive nutrients and chemicals to Lake Ontario and its near shore waters and marshes.

To be fair, farmers and government agencies like the Soil and Water Conservation Service are trying hard to keep the dirt, chemicals, and nutrients on the fields. Erosion of soil is not good for farmers or anyone else's welfare.

Progressive farmers are planting cover crops in the fall, installing buffer strips of vegetation along field edges, and building two stage ditches to trap silt and reduce polluted runoff. However, other economic forces like tiling and on going consolidation of food production and processing are working against such efforts. So blue green algae blooms and botulism outbreaks continue.

The vast acreage required to feed beef cows, pigs, chickens and dairy herds is one reason why eating less meat and or going vegan to eliminate eggs and dairy products from the diet is promoted as an eco friendly way to exist on a planet with 7 billion other humans. Raising animal protein requires far more land than that required for fruit and vegetables. Livestock production is a leading cause of water pollution as well as a huge source of greenhouse gases. It's also responsible for the deforestation and clear cutting of vast acreages in the Amazon, southeast Asia and elsewhere.

Individual eaters can also help the lake by eating organic. Organic growers use far less chemical inputs to produce food. Pesticides and herbicides are an ongoing problem for water quality and human health. Atrazine, a widely used herbicide in corn fields, has been found in 80% of samples of public drinking water supplies in a NRDC study. Lab studies reveal impacts on fish reproduction, as the chemical acts as a hormone disruptor. Atrazine is a weed killer found in many streams and lakes and has also been shown to impact the one celled algae at the base of the food chain.

If you can't afford organic produce or there's no ready source nearby and you have a front yard or a sunny space, consider growing some of your own. Americans mow and douse 40 million acres of lawn with chemicals and fertilizers. However, urban farming is catching on, transforming grass into fresh greens and vegetables across the land.

In Orlando, Florida hundreds of homeowners have signed up for a volunteer run program called Fleet Farming that turns lawns into vegetable patches. A Ohio State University researcher has estimated that if all the vacant lots along with roof tops and about ten percent of the lawn areas of Cleveland were converted to urban farmlettes the city could be at least seasonally self sufficient. (Even simply eating the lawn would help some.Dandelion greens and flower fritters are well worth the effort and you can stop using Round up).

So to help the lake- eat more beans and less meat, grow your own veggies if possible, and support local organic farms and farm markets. The food tastes better too!

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