GM soy in retreat, hokkaido squash and a home for the orang-utans.

The turning point

In 2008, 92% of all soybean planted in the US was genetically-modified. GM soybean has claimed a greater share in the US every year since their introduction in 1996.

2009 is a turning point. Low commodity soybean prices, attractive premiums, and rising prices for genetically modified soybean seed are leading American farmers for the first time to plant more acres of non-GMO soybeans this year.

A key factor is that the cost for Monsanto’s GM soybean seeds has jumped from $35 to $50 per bag , while the necessary herbicide has increased from $15 to $50 per gallon. At the same time, crop resistance to the herbicide is now widespread, and farmers are having to use much more to get the same results. Farmers are beginning to realise how vulnerable they are with all the control that’s been ceded.

Non-genetically modified seed is in short supply as the biotech monopolies have become seed monopolies, and done away with the alternatives, but small seed companies, and, interestingly, US universities, are proving key providers of non-GM seed.

Restoring the damage

Climate change is often seen as an exclusively negative term, a one-way ticket to the coming apocalypse. But humans, as part of this great creation, can play a positive role and turn things around.

In this week’s video, biologist Willie Smits tells an inspiring story of not just walking more lightly and causing less harm, but actually helping to restore the damage. He devotes his energy to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, increasing rainfall, enhancing diversity, saving local orang-utans, and creating a blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems. He describes how in this week’s video.

Hokkaido Squash

One of our goals is to increase the range of foods that we offer, and we can do this by supporting farmers who produce relatively small quantities of unusual food plants.

The Hokkaido Squash certainly qualifies, as it’s not a food many of us have encountered before. It’s origins are obscure, and worldwide always seem to refer to somewhere else. It’s commonly called Hokkaido Squash in the US, referring to its supposed origins in northern Japan. However, there, it’s referred to as ‘Chinese Squash’. It has a chestnut-like flavour that appeals to people who may not like pumpkin soup, and the summer variety has a soft skin and is particularly tasty. Hokkaido squash is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, B and C.

You can view a recipe on our site by clicking on the product name for more information.

Red Globes

This week we’re also offering 4.5kg boxes of Red Globe grapes. Red Globes are the largest red table grape. They’re very popular worldwide, but have fallen from favour in the US as they’re a seeded variety, and seedless grapes are increasingly in vogue there. However, I wouldn’t want to eat grapes any other way as grape seeds are highly nutritious, with particular benefits for older women and as prevention for atherosclerosis.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Co-op team