What I'm Reading (Oct. 28)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Oct 28, 2021
Pig pandemic, beef monopoly, agrivoltaics?, and deep listening.
Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay

I tried to eat a more plant-based diet, and on the ethical front, I have given up eating octopus; they are too intelligent for my taste. Pigs are equally, if not more intelligent, but they are so tasty, so I make an exception in their case – I know, not only unethical but inconsistent. But these paragraphs caught my eye.

“A Scottish veterinarian named Robert Eustace Montgomery, who was working for the British colonial government in East Africa, published the first description of it, in September 1921. Montgomery reported outbreaks of a hemorrhagic illness in farm pigs that was so destructive “an owner … must be prepared for a practically total loss,” he wrote.”

The underlying pathogen, a virus, African Swine Fever, estimated at this point, 100 years later to have taken 25-50% of the largest swine herd in the world, China’s. We need to think globally and act locally about more than just viruses that impact humans. From Wired, Another Global Pandemic Is Spreading—Among Pigs

“My name is Chuck Grassley,” he said, “And I’m a farmer from Butler County, Iowa.” 

Those are the first words of the first witness at the recent House Agriculture Committee meeting. It didn’t make the news but should have. Matt Stoller covers the issue because it involves more market consolidation and monopoly power. It has words we may never have heard, including “the meat margin.” You have to ask why the price of beef paid to the rancher is going down, and the cost of beef to the consumer is going up. Oh yes, farmer Grassley is also Iowa Senator Grassley, who has been pushing reform of “Big Meat” without success for some time. From Matt Stoller’s Big, Economists to Cattle Ranchers: Stop Being So Emotional About the Monopolies Devouring Your Family Businesses

Can there be any doubt that we live in divisive times? There is such palpable anger when two individuals disagree. While Washington looks for a regulatory solution, perhaps, we the individualistic, might pursue a parallel path?

“One fact I have learned about life through the empiricism of living: When we are hurt in a relationship, when we are spinning in the blooming buzzing confusion of sensemaking, the explanation we elect as correct usually has more to do with our own fears and vulnerabilities than it does with the reality of the situation; almost always, that explanation is wrong; almost always, the true explanation has more to do with the fears and vulnerabilities roiling in the other person invisibly to us.”

From the always philosophical, Brain Pickings, Thich Nhat Hanh on the Art of Deep Listening and the 3 Buddhist Steps to Repairing a Relationship

Here is a mashup of solar panels and farming – not to power the farm but grow the crops.

“Rooftops are so 2020. If humanity’s going to stave off the worst of climate change, people will need to get creative about where they put solar panels. Now scientists are thinking about how to cover canals with them, reducing evaporation while generating power. Airports are filling up their open space with sun-eaters. And space doesn’t get much more open than on a farm: Why not stick a solar array in a field and plant crops underneath? It’s a new scientific (and literal) field known as agrivoltaics—agriculture plus photovoltaics—and it’s not as counterintuitive as it might seem.

Yes, plants need sunlight, but some need less than others, and indeed get stressed by too many photons. Shading those crops means they will require less water, which rapidly evaporates in an open field. Plus, plants “sweat,” which cools the panels overhead and boosts their efficiency.”

From Wired, Growing Crops Under Solar Panels? Now There’s a Bright Idea

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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