The Plight of Honey Bees and the Effect on our World

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Time Magazine reports that if you take away the honey bees from pollinating the crops grown by farmers, 237 out of 453 food items will disappear from grocery store shelves. That is a shocking statistic. But, the demise of the honey bee doesn’t only affect food items. It is much more far-reaching than that.

Honey bees are dying off at an unprecedented rate. Parasites and disease in the hives, pesticides in the fields, stress, and poor weather are factors in killing the honey bee population. Business Insider reports that one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on the honey bee population for pollination. A world without honey bees is a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Without honey bees, we would not have leafy greens, broccoli, pumpkins, cucumbers, avocados, apples, cherries, blueberries, and almonds. The effect on almonds is particularly serious. Almonds are used for many things. The shells are often ground up and used for feed for cows. If cows don’t have the proper nutrients, they can’t produce milk which affects dairy products. Alfalfa will also perish, which will affect both beef and dairy cattle. There will be no milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream if we cannot provide feed for cattle. There will also be no beef.

Honey bees pollinate the oilseeds, like cotton seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Without them, more than half of the world’s supply of fat and oil would disappear. The lack of cotton would eliminate 35% of the world’s clothing and many household products.

Fortunately, staple grain products won’t be affected. Neither will pigs since they aren’t dependent on crops like alfalfa to eat.

If honey bees disappear, our diets will be devoid of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and beef. There may be some chicken and there will be fish near the coastlines. On a daily basis, how would you like your diet to consist of high fat pork and bread, plus some chicken and fish when you can get it?

Get involved in the movement to save the honey bees. Buy organic to encourage organic farming without pesticide use.

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Appalachian Roots

I am from Appalachia, central Appalchia to be exact. Northeastern Kentucky to be even more exact. My roots have a bit of a split personality. Part Appalachian, part Swedish! What a combination which probably accounts for my split personality and eccentric leanings. Someday, I will write about my Swedish family. Now I want to write about Appalachia. Appalachia breaks my heart.

I have always lived geographically close to Appalachia and spent almost 30 years teaching students who came from the region. I did not grow up deep in the heart of Appalachia but I frequently visited my grandparents and other family who lived in the Central Appalachian region. As I grew up, their culture was my culture, their values were my values, their way of life was my way of life. By the time I was becoming a teenager, Appalachia’s best days were behind it but I didn’t know it. My grandfather had worked hard to insure that his eight children, including my mother, had left the region in order to get an education and seek their fortunes. One had to go elsewhere for an education. There were only two universities reasonably close by and the terrain of the region is geographically isolating.

Poverty was the calling card of the region. My grandfather was a landowner, a successful farmer, and had gas and oil wells on the rich land. When I looked out his front door, I saw acres of corn and tobacco growing and many dairy cattle grazing. He was the exception not the rule. He refused to let his family work in the coal mines, but coal mining was one of the principal industries. Much of the region is not suited for farming as it is too mountainous. Manufacturers did not bring their industries to Eastern Kentucky. There were no good roads.

The people opposed interference from outside the region. They feared that their culture would be taken away, their way of life stolen, their children corrupted. They feared cultural change more than they feared poverty.

My grandparents are gone now but the old farmhouse still stands. Do you know what I see when I look out the door now? Trailer parks. Very poor, hopeless people. Children playing in the dirt yards. Starving dogs surviving on table scraps tied out in the yard. I know enough about the area to know what lies within some of those trailers. Drugs. Heroin. Pain pills. In that county, there is little economic activity with around a 33% unemployment rate. Farming is gone. The gas and oil wells still pump but the owners of the mineral rights live far away or the mineral rights were unfortunately sold along with the land. The people lost their way of life but not to manufacturers or education. They lost it to drugs and poverty.

Appalachia breaks my heart. #appalachia #poverty #drug abuse

Watch this space for much more on Appalachia.