The Case For Living Streets

My recent trip to Argentina offered an opportunity to observe the transformation of the Belgrano neighborhood from a particular time perspective. The first encounter with it was when it was just starting to change from an area of single-family homes dotted by six to eight-story high condominiums.

1A.Fast-forward to 2021; it has become a high-density upper-middle-class neighborhood, where only a few low-rise buildings are the exception. Surprisingly, today, where most buildings are eight and ten-story in height, the presence of its taller trees has intensified. Looking for the sun between tall buildings, many are now rubbing their branches on the eighth floor.

2A.Many of its less-traveled streets have a plethora of fancy little boutiques, sidewalk cafés, bakeries, restaurants, service stores, and schools. Small supermarkets, vegetable and fruit stands, health food stores are commonplace.

3A.The lively streets are safe for pedestrians: it reflects the care and thoughtfulness of creating a desirable place to live.

4A.The abundance of trees is a significant factor. It did not happen by chance.

When Jules Charles Thays, a Parisian landscape architect, came to Argentina in 1889, he got fascinated with the young country and decided to spend the rest of his life in Argentina. In 1891 he was named Director of Parks & Walkways.

Trees can co-exist and even thrive next to tall buildings!

5A.Studies show that green, walkable, and livable communities are healthier for individual, environmental and economic health. The copious tree canopies along the Belgrano streets give the neighborhood a sense of community pride and peacefulness.

See the video of a street: https://youtu.be/C5FFwxa1aJ4


Trees have an active, beneficial role in improving a city’s air quality: they absorb CO2 through their leaves and release oxygen into the air through photosynthesis. They also moderate the temperature and humidity of the environment by evaporation, herein reducing the air-conditioning cost. Trees attract birds and butterflies, reduce street noise, and beautify the street spaces.
The moderate kind of urbanization with no speeding cars in the narrow residential streets improves the safety and well-being of the residents.
Trees are the primary stabilizers of the planet’s ecosystem. They are our best companions, contributing to a considerable absorption of CO2 and providing oxygen in the air.

This post allows me to confirm an observation about a permaculture approach in the Belgrano neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Nature integrates into the built environment for mitigating Climate Change to protect and re-establish vital ecosystems.


“In Defense of Food,” Advice for Health


Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, offers advice on how to eat to achieve maximum health.

In Defense of Food

“Where does your food really come from, and what should you have for dinner? Chances are that your food traveled hundreds of miles before it landed on your plate. But some experts say eating local might make us healthier, and better stewards of the environment.”

Read an Excerpt (bottom half of post)

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
That’s the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food.
“That’s it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy,” Pollan told Steve Inskeep on NPR.

    ‘Eat Food’

“We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances, which is to say highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods.” – Pollan

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and “food products” takes work. His tip: “Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Take, for example, the portable tubes of yogurt known as Go-Gurt, Pollan says. “Imagine your grandmother or your great-grandmother picking up this tube, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out how to administer it to her body — if indeed it is something that goes in your body — and then imagine her reading the ingredients,” he says. “Yogurt is a very simple food. It’s milk inoculated with a bacterial culture. But Go-Gurt has dozens of ingredients.”

    ‘Not Too Much’

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we’re just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says “has failed us when it comes to food, by and large,” and more on culture. “Cultures have various devices to help people moderate their appetite,” he says. “Once upon a time, there was scarcity. We don’t have that anymore; we have abundance. But if you go around the world, you find very interesting tricks and devices.”

“The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don’t get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don’t have seconds, they don’t snack.”
– Pollan on French culture and small portion sizes

“You do know when you are full, and the idea of stopping eating before you reach that moment [when you’re 80% full]… if you do that, you will actually reduce your caloric intake quite a bit.” – Pollan on Japanese culture and “Hara Hachi Bu”

    ‘Mostly Plants’

“There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us.” – Pollan

But can you follow Pollan’s advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?
“You’re going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both,” Pollan says. “And I think that’s just the reality. It’s really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I’m arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.
“And if we don’t, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road. We’re either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we’re going to change the way we eat. I mean, it’s really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it’s heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we’re eating.”

    Excerpt: ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’


Food Science’s Golden Age
In the years following the 1977 Dietary Goals and the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report on diet and cancer, the food industry, armed with its regulatory absolution, set about reengineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and fewer of the bad. A golden age for food science dawned. Hyphens sprouted like dandelions in the supermarket aisles: low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fiber. Ingredients labels on formerly two- or three-ingredient foods such as mayonnaise and bread and yogurt ballooned with lengthy lists of new additives — what in a more benighted age would have been called adulterants. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern now was set, and every few years since then, a new oat bran has taken its star turn under the marketing lights. (Here come omega-3s!)
You would not think that common food animals could themselves be rejiggered to fit nutritionist fashion, but in fact some of them could be, and were, in response to the 1977 and 1982 dietary guidelines as animal scientists figured out how to breed leaner pigs and select for leaner beef. With widespread lipophobia taking hold of the human population, countless cattle lost their marbling and lean pork was repositioned as “the new white meat” — tasteless and tough as running shoes, perhaps, but now even a pork chop could compete with chicken as a way for eaters to “reduce saturated fat intake.” In the years since then, egg producers figured out a clever way to redeem even the disreputable egg: By feeding flaxseed to hens, they could elevate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the yolks.
Aiming to do the same thing for pork and beef fat, the animal scientists are now at work genetically engineering omega-3 fatty acids into pigs and persuading cattle to lunch on flaxseed in the hope of introducing the blessed fish fat where it had never gone before: into hot dogs and hamburgers.
But these whole foods are the exceptions. The typical whole food has much more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t quite as readily change its nutritional stripes. (Though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem.) To date, at least, they can’t put oat bran in a banana or omega-3s in a peach. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might either be a high-fat food to be assiduously avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate and supermarket sales of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather while the processed foods simply get reformulated and differently supplemented. That’s why when the Atkins diet storm hit the food industry in 2003, bread and pasta got a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the proteins) while poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the carbohydrate cold. (The low-carb indignities visited on bread and pasta, two formerly “traditional foods that everyone knows,” would never have been possible had the imitation rule not been tossed out in 1973. Who would ever buy imitation spaghetti? But of course that is precisely what low-carb pasta is.)
A handful of lucky whole foods have recently gotten the “good nutrient” marketing treatment: The antioxidants in the pomegranate (a fruit formerly more trouble to eat than it was worth) now protect against cancer and erectile dysfunction, apparently, and the omega-3 fatty acids in the (formerly just fattening) walnut ward off heart disease. A whole subcategory of nutritional science — funded by industry and, according to one recent analysis,* remarkably reliable in its ability to find a health benefit in whatever food it has been commissioned to study — has sprung up to give a nutritionist sheen (and FDA-approved health claim) to all sorts of foods, including some not ordinarily thought of as healthy. The Mars Corporation recently endowed a chair in chocolate science at the University of California at Davis, where research on the antioxidant properties of cacao is making breakthroughs, so it shouldn’t be long before we see chocolate bars bearing FDA-approved health claims. (When we do, nutritionism will surely have entered its baroque phase.) Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study.
Yet as a general rule it’s a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound “whole-grain goodness” to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims.

*L. I. Lesser, C. B. Ebbeling, M. Goozner, D. Wypij, and D. S. Ludwig, “Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles,” PLoS Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 1, e5 doi:10.1371/journal. pmed.0040005.

Excerpted from IN DEFENSE OF FOOD by Michael Pollan. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Michael Pollan, 2008.

Smoothie for Weight Loss & Better Complexion


This is a good way to lose weight, and get a glowing complexion. Green smoothies are rich in immune boosting nutrients, which provide the body with minerals and vitamins. Also, a green smoothie gets their vibrant color from chlorophyll, a nutrient-rich pigment found in leafy vegetables, which cleans the body of harmful toxins, oxygenates the blood and helps boost energy.


  • A bunch of Kale/or Spinach, fresh from Tower Garden
  • A bunch of Parsley/or Cilantro fresh fro Tower Garden
  • A few leaves of Mustard Green/or a piece of Ginger
  • 1 Cucumber, fresh from Tower Garden
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 1 Half Avocado
  • 1 Large Lemon juiced
  • Add water or ice

Blend the ingredients together and drink it immediately. ENJOY

Different Ways of Producing and Providing Food


French Pavilion at the Expo Milan 2015: Different Ways of Producing and Providing Food

Let’s take a look at the french pavilion at the 2015 Expo Milano. It is an interesting lightweight wood structure that can be dismantled and reused at the end of the Expo.

How can we feed the world, today and tomorrow? How can we ensure adequate food for mankind that is of good quality and healthy in the long term? France is focusing on this central issue posed by Expo Milano 2015, with a commitment to participate fully in the discussion, providing answers based on its capabilities and points of excellence.

Its communication is based on four pillars: contributing to global food production, through the potential of France’s productive infrastructure; developing new food models, to address the need for better production; improving self-sufficiency in developing countries, with a policy of skills and technology transfer; and aligning quantity with quality in all areas, be they health-based, nutritional or culinary.

At the Universal Exposition, France will present a full array of its renowned and unique distinguishing features, ranging from its know-how in land management, to agriculture, which already allow its brands to be present in all markets of the world.

Rooftop Aquaponics

World’s First Commercial Rooftop Aquaponic Farm by David Thorpe

aquaponic farming in Swiss

Urban farming comes in many shapes and forms: from traditional farming, to permaculture, hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics. These new farming systems will help develop more produce in urban environments and have more residents be engaged in providing food to their families and communities. David Thorpe focuses on aquaponics, and how it has grown commercially in Switzerland. This type of farming will show how to save land, water, and provide more food to overpopulated cities and countries.

Aquaponics – aquaculture (fish farming) + hydroponics (growing plants without soil) – could furnish 12% of a person’s diet per 3m2 of roofspace, according to a prototype study. From a small unit you can harvest both fish (usually tilapia) and vegetables, while using the waste from the fish to feed the plants and the plants to clean the water for the fish.

Lots of people are interested in aquaponics – more than hydroponics for example but there are few examples and data is hard to find. Basel, Switzerland hosts the only commercial example in Europe, situated on a rooftop of LokDepot.

It’s a brainchild of the Institute of Natural Resources Sciences. The Institute focuses on biological farming, ecological engineering, integrative ecology, landscape and urban greening and has pursued 20 years of development and research into fish species and a broad array of vegetables grown under different conditions.
According to Ranka Junge of Zhaw Zurich university, speaking at the International Conference on Vertical Farming and Urban Agriculture last week, the benefits are: nutrient utilization; low water consumption; edible plant production as well as fish. But the drawbacks are that you need to know about both fish and plant production; the complex system involves a lot of expertise.

“For this reason, doing it on a commercial scale is hard,” she said. “But the advantages are no use of pesticides or antibiotics, making food local, adding greenery in the city, nearly closed nutrient cycles, reduced energy input, perfect food safety control, around a 90% reduction in water use, and that vertical farming increases efficiency.”

Roman Gaus and Andreas Graber run the world’s first commercially successful aquaponics farm at LokDepot. Costing $900,000 to build, it occupies just 26 m² and has been operating since winter 2012. It is capable of producing 5000 kg of vegetables and 500 kg of fish per year. The numbers work as follows: the main input is the fish feed which is 1 kg for ta fish harvest of 700g and between 5 and 10kg of tomatoes. 300 L of water goes in and 290L is evapotranspired to be condensed and returned (cleaned thereby) to the fish. (Fish produce ammonia and their water needs to be continually refreshed or they die: the plants do this job.) This amount of fish produces 2 L of sludge, which gives nutrients to the plants and is vermicomposted. No artificial lighting is used. In a year, it has used 20.9MWh of electricity and 32.2MWH of heat plus 763m3 of water to produce 3401kg of veg and 706 kg of fish. 10kg fish was wasted and 577kg veg wasted. So the top line is it produces 2.7 kg fish and 13.1kg veg/acre.
There is no environmental pollution and the food is organic and healthy, produced with respect to animal welfare, fresh and sustainable. In the shop, the fish sell out quickly even though the price is slightly high.
Ranka Junge has calculated that on this basis 3m² of rooftop space could feed one person 12% of their diet.
“In Basel there is 2,000,000m² of vacant rooftop space. If 5% of this rooftop space were used for aquaponics, that is 100,000m², which could feed 34,000 people or contribute 8-20% of the fresh fish and vegetable consumption in Basel,” she concludes. There are many ways in which this system could be improved, she says, such as with improved water management, building integration, climate control and energy use, but she is convinced that it is a proof-of-concept and innovative model.

Back in Basel, after completing feasibility, Roman Gaus and Andreas Graber have secured the first EUR1.0m in project funding for a new development in the Netherlands. Watch the UF De Schilde Campaign Video here. The start of production for fish and vegetables on the roof is anticipated as early as March 2016. The team has also produced a Bolt-on System to enable the seamless integration of aquaculture systems into existing (hydroponics) production models for protected crops such as vegetables, fruits or flowers.

What is Unique About Aeroponics?

Farm Urbana 2014 - Ruth Meghiddo

Aeroponics is considered a closed hydroponic system. Therefore, nutrients and water are continually recycled, preserving our natural resources and the environment. This economical growing system is suitable for home growers and commercial growers alike, and can produce a wide variety of crops in a relatively small growing space.

Aeroponics is cutting edge in the world of hydroponics. Aeroponics is a hydroponic system in which plant roots are suspended in air and intermittently soaked with a nutrient-rich, mineral based solution. Similar to hydroponic growing the nutrient solution flows or drips onto the roots of the plants and then drips down into a reservoir or collection pipe, where it is used again. Research suggests that aeroponic systems maximize oxygen availability at the root zone, thus helping to maximize plant growth.

Aeroponic systems provide consistent phytochemistry from the herb roots because growers are able to precisely control the inputs into the plant. High quality medicinal roots can fetch a premium price in certain markets. This is an exciting technological breakthrough in the world of herbal root production, because medicinal herb plants are typically damaged when roots are harvested using conventional growing techniques.

Aeroponics is also commonly used in educational facilities, theme parks, and restaurants. It can create many variations of aeroponic systems.

Food & the City: Urban Agriculture

Farm Urbana 2014 - Ruth Meghiddo

Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution

Farm Urbana 2014 - Ruth Meghiddo

When you’re standing in the midst of a supermarket, it’s hard to imagine that you’re looking at a failing industrial food system. The abundance all around you looks impressive but is really a facade. In fact, there’s just a three-day supply of food available for any given city due to complex, just-in-time international supply chains. The system is not only vulnerable, given the reality of food scares, international crises, terrorist attacks, economic upheavals, and natural disasters, but it is also environmentally unsustainable for the long term. As the cold hard facts of peak oil and peak water begin to have an impact, how will we feed a world population of seven billion and growing, most of whom are now urban dwellers?

One answer is urban agriculture. Food and the City examines alternative food systems in cities around the globe that are shortening their food chains, growing food within their city limits, and taking their “food security” into their own hands. Award-winning food journalist Jennifer Cockrall-King sought out leaders in the urban-agriculture movement and visited cities successfully dealing with “food deserts.” What she found was not just a niche concern of activists but a global movement that cuts across the private and public spheres, economic classes, and cultures.

She describes a global movement happening from London and Paris to Vancouver and New York to establish alternatives to the monolithic globally integrated supermarket model. A cadre of forward-looking, innovative people has created growing spaces in cities: on rooftops, backyards, vacant lots, along roadways, and even in “vertical farms.” Whether it’s a community public orchard supplying the needs of local residents or an urban farm that has reclaimed a derelict inner city lot to grow and sell premium market veggies to restaurant chefs, the urban food revolution is clearly underway and working.

Food and the City is an exciting, fascinating chronicle of a game-changing movement, a rebellion against the industrial food behemoth, and a reclaiming of communities to grow, distribute, and eat locally.



Food and the City by Jennifer Cockrall-King

Will Allen Leading Farmer

Will Allen Leading Farmer

Will Allen Leading Farmer. Will Allen, farmer, founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., is recognized as a preeminent practitioner of urban agriculture in America and throughout the world.

Will grew up on a small farm in Maryland, the second-youngest of six children of a sharecropper. Despite a strict rule of his father’s – no sports until all farm chores were done – he became a standout basketball player in high school and the first African-American scholarship athlete at the University of Miami. He eventually became the basketball team captain, and still holds a number of Miami Hurricanes records. Will graduated with a degree in education.

Will was drafted in both the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association. He played in the ABA for a year and then entered the European League, playing for Belgium.

While living in Belgium, Will reconnected with his farming roots. He observed the intensive methods used on small plots by local farmers, and began applying those methods in a garden where he grew food for his family and teammates.

Upon returning to the United States, Will began a career in corporate sales and marketing. Job opportunities brought him to Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee, his wife’s hometown and site of her family farm.

Eventually, Will tired of corporate life and took over operation of the farm. In 1993, wanting a place to sell his produce, he located a vacant garden center with three-acres on Milwaukee’s north side.

As it turned out, the small property was the last tract in the city of Milwaukee still zoned for agriculture. Will realized he could not only sell food from his own farm in Oak Creek, he could grow food on-site in a neighborhood where there was little fresh food to be found.

The ultimate direction of Will’s life truly changed when young people from the neighborhood, including kids who lived in the largest low-income public housing project in Milwaukee, began to ask him for advice and assistance with growing their own vegetables. Almost overnight, Will took up the mantle of teacher and trainer, and the impromptu gathering of neighborhood children became the Youth Corps, a program that continues today. In 1995, Growing Power Inc. was born: a not-for-profit center for urban agriculture training and building community food security systems.

Will has been an innovator in methods of composting, vermicomposting (using worms to refine and fertilize compost) and aquaponics (growing fish and food plants in a closed system). These and other intensive practices result in remarkable yields of food, even in a very small area.

Today, Growing Power is involved in more than 70 projects and outreach programs in Milwaukee, across the United States and throughout the world. Will has trained and taught in the Ukraine, Macedonia and Kenya, and has plans in place to create community food centers in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Haiti. In the U.S., Growing Power has set up multiple Regional Outreach Training Centers throughout the U.S.

In 2008, Will was awarded the John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” and named a McArthur Fellow – only the second farmer ever to be so honored.

Will is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. On Feb. 9, 2010, was one of four national spokesmen who stood on the dais with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to launch her “Let’s Move!” initiative to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015. In May 2010, Time magazine named Will as one of 100 World’s Most Influential People.

Despite his busy schedule as an international ambassador for urban agriculture and universal food security, Will continues to farm his own property in Oak Creek and direct operations at Growing Power, still headquartered in the original location on Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee.

Read the whole article here

Superior Yield of Tower Garden

University of Mississippi Researchers

Confirm Superior Yield of Tower Garden

P1070940Researchers at the University of Mississippi have confirmed what experienced Tower Gardeners everywhere already know: Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ yields more produce, more quickly than traditional soil-based gardening.

We asked researchers at the University of Mississippi National Center for Natural Products Research to put Tower Garden to the test by comparing the “yield” of produce grown aeroponically by Tower Garden® to the yield from the same types of plants grown in soil ­ ­– under identical growing conditions.

The researchers grew eight different vegetables and herbs – tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, squash, chard, green basil, parsley, and red kale – side-by-side, in Tower Gardens and in the soil. They planted both sets of crops on the same day, and also later harvested samples of healthy, mature crops on the same day for analysis. The total yield of each crop was calculated and compared between the field-grown plants and Tower Garden-grown plants. Read more

Peak Water: What Happens When the Wells Go Dry?

Research DATA on Water& Energy

Posted July 10, 2013 by Earth Policy Institute & filed under ConsumerismDeforestation,DesertificationFood ShortagesGlobal Warming/Climate ChangeSoil Erosion & Contamination,Water Contaminaton & Loss.

by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute

water-sc Read more