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  • Earthling 7:34 pm on 29th April 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aflagna, annababaro, atimite, bedena balla, bekuo, chumbo, ethiopian food, flatbread, history of injera, history of teff, hongochy, how injera is made, injera, origins of injera, origins of teff, ox-plowing and injera, teff   

    Exploring Injera & Teff 

    By Zade Goertzel. Copyright 2017 Zade Goertzel. All rights reserved.
    Ethiopia is currently populated with over 90 million people (Reda, 2015) and is one of humanity’s countries of origin [1]. Accordingly, it has many of its own endemic species and it is the origin of domesticated cattle, teff, dagusa, enset, coffee, khat, and gesho. Ethiopia is located near the Red Sea. In fact, until Eritrea seceded in the late 20th century, it was connected to the Red Sea. Along the Red Sea there is a rift which goes through the Eritrean coast, dividing the Ethiopian highlands into two (Henze, 2000). The Rift valley has different areas of grasslands, valleys, hills, swamps, woodland, and forests. The dominant Ethiopian and Eritrean states are and mostly have been throughout human history, located (Henze, 2000) in the highlands. The country as a whole ranges from below sea level to approximately 4,600 meters (UN, 2006). Teff was domesticated in the Northern highlands, and to this day it serves as a major staple crop for Ethiopians, especially for northern highlanders, in the form of injera; a spongey, sourdough flatbread made out of teff and water. It is used as the utensil for eating other foods called wot, they are made of vegetables, meats, and pulses. Although the time of origin for injera is unclear, tales told of it go back to 100 BCE (Getachew, 1962).
    Around the time of highland state formation, teff was the most prominent crop in the area (McCann, 1995). The cultivation of teff (Eragrostis abyssinica or Eragrostis tef.) has likely been practiced in Ethiopian highlands for approximately 7000 years, and subsequently highland culture and traditions have strong ties to it (McCann, 1995)(Reda, 2015). Domesticated teff was likely selected for increased branching and a higher percentage of seeds under minimal tillage, which is unlike some other cereals which were selected for large seed size and intensified tillage (EOL, 2016). This may be related to why teff has one of the smallest grain sizes and each plant holds 1000 to 10,000 seeds (Refera, 2001).
    Teff was a symbol of elite status and “strong preferences for cereal products as payment provided an indirect pressure for farmers to convert” to producing teff (McCann, 1995). Teff has become an important crop being cultivated in 10 of 18 different agricultural zones, and 30 of 83 districts of Ethiopia due to its high adaptability to various growing conditions (Reda, 2015). It grows best at 1700-2100 meters in elevation, but it can be grown above 3000 meters, and has been considered one of the quickest growing crops, for producing usable hay in 6-8 weeks after sowing and ripe seeds in only 8-12 weeks (Burtt-Davy, 1916)(Reda, 2015)(McCann, 1995). The crop can be harvested multiple times in one growing season, and its adaptability is largely due to its ability to withstand both an excess of moisture and a lack of moisture; it can both grow in areas that experience waterlogging and in dry and sandy regions, where many other grasses would not be productive (Reda, 2015)(Burtt-Davy, 1916). In some areas where “farmers face a complete crop failure due to moisture stress, teff is their choice in order to obtain a harvest” (Refera, 2001). Compared to other cereals in the same landscape of Ethiopia, teff has the longest storage life, the best straw for cattle digestion, and the best straw for building houses (McCann, 1995). It can also be used for weaving baskets and other sorts of containers, medical use[2], pasturage, and green manuring (Refera, 2001)(Aynelam, 2016)(McCann, 1995)(Burtt-Davy, 1916).
    The ox-plow is a significant actor in the spread of teff agriculture and the food consumption that follows its production. Ox-plow agriculture begun among the same Cushtic speaking farmers who domesticated the local grasses such as teff, and since then, the ox-plow has spread throughout the country more stably and permanently than the spread of state or religion (McCann, 1995).

    Elevation map of modern-day Ethiopia. The highest elevations and highlands are mostly located in Tigray, Amhara, and Oromiya. (UN, 2006)

    Farmers who own oxen are significantly more likely to grow teff than those who either rent or do not use ox-plows, because growing teff requires particularly intensive tillage relative to many other cereals (Gebremedhin, 2007)(McCann, 1995). It requires significant seedbed preparation and weeding, and five to eight passes with an ox-plow (McCann, 1995). Remaining clumps of soil can then be broken down with goats or sheep used “repeatedly across the surface to break down clods and compact the soil before a final seed covering pass” (McCann, 1995). However, judging by teff’s popularity and prestige as a staple crop, it appears that teff’s adaptability, other crop perks, and ability to form into preferred food has outweighed the intense tillage that it requires.

    Ethiopian provinces in 1935, including Kaffa and Hararghe (Wikipedia, 2017)

    Teff “is the highest prestige cereal food across the ox-plow landscape”, it got more attention from visiting travelers and teff “achieved pride of place across elite diets in the highlands” (McCann, 1995). Over time, the popularity of teff as a major part of cuisine has spread throughout the country, beyond the northern highlands. By the 1800s it became common in areas such as Kaffa, Gera, and Hararge (McCann, 1995). By the 1900s ox-plow agriculture even spread to the area around Hargeisa (modern-day Somalia), and when Oromo [3] who migrated to the highlands of Wallo, Tigray, northern Shawa, and the Lake Tana basin, they shifted from pastoralism to plow agriculture, which likely lead to teff cultivation. The kingdom of Kaffa which shifted to plow agriculture in the 1600s shifted because the royal court preferred teff and other cereals over other crops (McCann, 1995). Unlike agricultural production for rural diets, food for royal banquets “and hospitality required huge amounts of livestock and cereals, especially teff” (McCann, 1995). With tens of millions of livestock, teff has been very important as a means of animal feed, and as of the late 1980s there came a market for selling teff straw to a growing cattle fattening industry (Refera, 2001)(McCann, 1995). There was however a decline in teff production from 1961-1984, at this time barley and maize were rising in production. Since then the productivity has once again increased and the area of land used to grow teff has expanded (Reda, 2015). By 2015 annual teff production had been “increasing year after year on average by about 10%” (Reda, 2015). Despite the fact that there has historically been a strong royal preference and influence on agriculture, the government did not take interest in the actual process of food production until after World War II (McCann, 1995). Currently there has been more government attention on agriculture in order to develop the economy and avoid famine.
    To this day, Ethiopia has an agriculturally based economy. Cereal crop production, which is mostly subsistence agriculture, constitutes the employment opportunity for 60% of the rural poor, and 80% of total arable land coverage (Reda, 2015). As of 2015, only 2% of cereals were produced by state or commercial farms. This subsistence agriculture is similar to that which has been practiced for thousands of years in Ethiopia (McCann, 1995). The farming of teff often involves intercropping, compost, and crop rotation, and it does not often use artificial fertilizers or pesticides (Reda, 2015) (Bayecha, 2015) (Berhane, 2015) (McCann, 1995). Agroecology is often thought of as an important component of sustainable agriculture (Gleissman, 2011), and the aforementioned forms of Ethiopian subsistence agriculture do not perfectly model agroecological farming systems, but it is important to recognize that despite the incorporation of sustainable practices and the exclusion of clearly unsustainable practices associated with industrial agriculture, anthropogenic land degradation is a huge and increasing problem in Ethiopia (Henze, 2000).
    Ethiopia’s government “has adopted commercialization of subsistence agriculture”(Gebremedhin, 2007) as a development strategy for the country, because subsistence agriculture “is not a viable activity to ensure sustainable household food security and welfare”(Pingali, 1997). Around 1995, “…teff’s high price and prestige … made it the only crop amenable to ox-plow farm commercialization and specialization” (McCann, 1995). Teff had “…never dominated either farm diets or hectarage” (McCann, 1995), barley, sorghum, and maize had higher rates of production (McCann, 1995). However in 2016, teff supported “more than 70-75% of Ethiopia’s population” as a staple and co-staple crop (Aynalem, 2016). Aside from limited land which leads to intensive instead of primitive subsistence agriculture, there may be other specific factors contributing to why subsistence agriculture has become unsustainable, some of which might relate to the commercialization of teff (Waceke et al., 2007). In one study “farmers who did not own land but have leased-in plots, preferred to practice the conventional way of production using inorganic fertilizer rather than improving the productivity of soil … as they might not use the land permanently” (Berhane, 2015).
    In the same study, farmers who farmed on plots away from their home used chemical fertilizers in order to avoid transporting manure and compost (Berhane, 2015). These examples show that land leasing and distance instead of generational ownership of land around the same area as their home can cause farmers to care less about their soil fertility and have a long-term negative affect on the land. This is because in cases such as leasing land, farmers will likely be more concerned about short-term profit than by long-term sustainability and profit. The same phenomena has been apparent in Ada as a result of teff commercialization. Many landowners “forbade the cultivation of sorghum altogether, since it decreased the amount of land planted in teff” (McCann, 1995). In general ox-plow areas have shown a pattern of concentration in teff cultivation leading to a decline of rotation, a decrease of variety of crops planted, and a loss of fallow pasture (McCann, 1995). Fertilizer is also often not used at all, and when it is, it is often artificial fertilizer (Reda, 2015). This repetitive tillage, limited application of manure, and resulting erosion removing top soil has degraded the land (Reda, 2015). These relatively recent land use patterns could be a significant part of what is leading to widespread land degradation, especially if the commercialization of wheat and rice, which are also becoming market oriented crops, (Gebremedhin, 2007) leads to their agroecological environments to be altered in the same way as teff has been.
    Domesticated teff has only been introduced to countries other than Ethiopia and Eritrea starting in 1866 (Reda, 2015). Previously there had been a lack of consumer interest in teff because there was a lack of familiarity with it (Reda, 2015). A large amount of teff was exported from Ethiopia in 1995-97, 2001, and 2005, which is likely linked to the commercialization of teff that began around the same time. However, export declined in 2006 due to an excessive rise in the price of teff in Ethiopia, turning teff into a luxury for Ethiopians (Reda, 2015). It has recently be come a more sought after crop internationally because of its health benefits, especially for the gluten-free market (Reda, 2015). It is mainly exported to Southwest Asia, Europe, and North America; the primary continents that Ethiopians emigrate to (unicef, 2013). In the United States, teff is most popular for grazing hay as well as for Ethiopian Americans (Reda, 2015).
    Compared to other grains, teff is known for having a particularly high mineral content, especially in regard to zinc, copper, manganese, and iron (Eckhoff et al., 1997). And when teff is made into injera, the teff is fermented, which can improve the availability of proteins and amino acids (Reda, 2015). The processing of teff and turning it into injera begins with the stage of cutting the plant. After this, the harvested teff is usually bundled and carried to a threshing ground. Threshing, which is mostly done by men, is done by tying livestock’s mouths shut and having the animals trample the bundles of teff until their tops are broken. After this the animals are forced to leave and any straw with grain remaining on it is beaten with a stick in order to separate it from its seeds.
    Threshing can be a festive event where local farmers gather and have beer and injera or roasted grains (Refera, 2001). Sometimes threshing machines are used, but their sieves are generally made for larger grains, so teff seeds will escape with the chaffs. Separating the grain from the chaff is usually done by women. It is normally done via fanning and winnowing (Refera, 2001). Once processed teff is packaged in traditional containers or in plastic, it can be stored for a minimum of three years (Eckhoff et al., 1997) and it is not often attacked by pests, so it does not need any pest control chemicals which means traditional storage methods are effective (Refera, 2001). Teff suffers from fewer diseases and pests than other cereal crops in Ethiopia (Eckhoff et al., 1997)(Refera, 2001). Twenty-two fungi and 3 pathogenic nematodes had been identified on teff as of 1997 (Eckhoff et al., 1997).
    To make injera, the grain needs to be sifted from dirt, soaked, and pounded to remove the seed coats. The seeds then need to be dried in the sun and ground into flour using an apparatus made of two stones. This post-harvest processing by women and by hand, however some people who live near towns will use a village gritsmill. These are either diesel or electric powered (Refera, 2001). Once this is done, the teff flour is mixed with water and left to ferment. As is the case for other Ethiopian foods, specific proportions vary based on different womens’ experiences making injera (Mesfin, 2006). The length of fermentation also varies depending on climate and altitude, but, generally, if fermented for longer than 36 hours the nutritive value decreases (Refera, 2001). If the climate is hot, then sometimes injera can be baked in the same day that fermentation is started (Mesfin, 2006)(Refera, 2001).
    After fermentation, a yellowish liquid called ersho, is poured off of the top and used to ferment the next batch of injera. Different studies have found different yeasts in injera, one found that Candida guilliermondii was the primary agent in the fermentation of injera, and that it is naturally occurring in teff seeds. However, other studies have found 22 yeasts during the time of peak fermentation and did not find Candida guillermondii to be responsible for the dough’s fermentation. After pouring away the ersho, a portion of the fermented dough is mixed with three parts of water and boiled. The boiled mixture is mixed back into the rest of the fermented dough, and then it is poured spiraling from the edge to the middle of a mitad. Once holes begin to form, the lid is placed over the injera and the complete injera is removed from the pan. Once injera is complete it is often placed in a mesob, which is made of grass stems, for storage or for consumption (Refera, 2001).

    A picture of injera with wot being served on a mesob. (Gracing on the cake, 2013)

    Other types of “injera” exist as well, such as Aflagna, Chumbo, Bekuo, hongochy, annababaro, and bedena balla, but the kind already described is the most common and well known type. Chumbo is a thicker type of injera; it is thick at the edges, thinner in the middle and less fermented than regular injera. The metad it is cooked in is smaller and concave and it must be cooked for longer than injera (Refera, 2001). Annabababaro is essentially a “double-injera”; it is made by placing one complete injera over an injera while it is in the process of being cooked. Bedena Balla is a 4-6cm thick injera which is cooked with an array of spices inside of it, including fresh onion and garlic. It is cooked in the metad on top of banana leaves (Refera, 2001). Some of these thicker types of injera are made when there are particularly many people who need to be fed (Refera, 2001).
    Ethiopia, as of 2013, met “96% of its energy needs from bio-mass and [the] majority of this energy goes entirely to injera baking” (Tesfay et al., 2013). Cooking injera requires 180-220 degrees celsius to cook well, for the consumption of approximately two injera a day per person, this uses a lot of bio-mass fuel (Refera, 2001)(Tesfay et al., 2013). Not only is this a problem in terms of deforestation for biomass fuel, but it also has deathly affects on those regularly exposed to its soot and smoke (Tesfay et al., 2013).
    Grains other than teff, such as barley, wheat, rice, sorghum, and millet, can also be used for injera, however teff is preferred for the highest injera quality (EIAD, 2014). Teff used for injera can be white, red, or mixed, but white teff is the widely preferred type (McCann, 1995)(Refera, 2001). Because of this, white teff sells for more and farmers of it will often sell the white teff and consume the red teff that they grow (Refera, 2001). Sorghum is considered the “second most important crop for injera quality next to teff” (EIAR, 2014). It is a very stable crop which can be grown at lower altitudes than teff, and which can withstand drought and high temperatures (McCann, 1995)(EIAD, 2014). Sorghum, at least as of 2004, was less expensive than teff and therefore there has been interest in improving the quality of sorghum injera (Yetneberk et al., 2004). Regardless, injera is generally supposed to be made of teff, and so long as teff produces the highest quality of injera, it is likely to remain the crop preferred and used for it. In countries neighboring Ethiopia, there are foods similar to injera, but made slightly differently and with different grains, such as Canjeero, a staple food of Djbouti and Somalia, or South Sudan’s Kisra. Both are fermented like injera; canjeero [] is made of flours such as sorghum, corn, and wheat, but unlike injera it is primarily a breakfast food (Somali Kitchen, 2017). Kisra is generally made of sorghum or wheat, and when made from sorghum may be very similar to sorghum injera (Keith, 1995).
    While slavery seems to be at the foundation for most early civilizations, especially in terms of laborious agricultural work (Scott, 2017), it seems that slave labor has not historically been a significant contributor to teff production. Aside from the fact that Ethiopia was the fourth largest source for world slave trade from 1400 to 1900 (William, 2014) until slavery was made illegal in the early 20th century (Henze, 2000), slaves were an important component to most Ethiopian households. Slaves were often “regarded as members of their owners’ family” and were primarily attained through warfare, slave raids or descent from previous generations of slaves (Ayale, 2011). Slaves mainly helped with household labor and protection (Ayale, 2011), it is only clear that they contributed significantly to agriculture in “the centralized Oromo states of Gibe valleys and Dideasa”, as well as in southern states such as the Gojab and Omo river basins (Clarence-Smith, 1989). In these areas, agricultural work was mainly done by slaves, but it is not clear whether this was true in northern highlands where the production of injera and teff has been more prominent.
    The term “Ethiopian food” almost always refers to injera with wot, not to any different food from an area which injera has not spread to as cuisine. Injera and types of wot do vary widely from place to place within Ethiopia and Eritrea, but despite the fact that there is a moderate portion of the population who do not eat injera as a staple or co-staple food, injera appears to have become the main food that is widespread throughout Ethiopia and which holds the status of “Ethiopian” food, rather than a specific regional food. It is possible that one of the main reasons injera has managed to become what “Ethiopian food” is, is that it originated in the area of the country that has had the most political influence on the rest of the country. But assuming only that would be overlooking the adaptability and other benefits of teff, as well as whatever the influence was that spread ox-plow agriculture, as it appears to not have only spread via the state.
    [1] Editor’s note: https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/garden-of-eden/where-was-the-garden-of-eden-located/
    [2] Used to make Atimite, especially for child birth and fractured bones (Aynelam, 2016).
    [3] Oromo is an Ethiopian ethnicity, primarily located in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, which is south of Amhara and Tigray; the politically dominant regions centered around the northern highlands.
    [4] Also known as anjero, it is similar to Yemen and Israel’s lahooh and Morocco’s baghrir. (http://www.somalikitchen.com/anjero-sourdough-pancakes.html/)
    1. “Anjero (Sourdough Pancakes) | The Somali Kitchen.” n.d. Accessed December 17, 2017. http://www.somalikitchen.com/anjero-sourdough-pancakes.html
    2. “BLONK Quality Ingredients.” n.d. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://www.teff-
    3. Clarence-Smith, W. G. 1989. The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the
    Nineteenth Century. Psychology Press.
    4. Easterly, William. 2014. The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor. Basic Books.
    5. G.F. Stallknecht, Kenneth M. Gilbertson, and J.L. Eckhoff. n.d. “Teff: Food Crop for
    Humans and Animals.” Purdue Agriculture. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://
    6. Ghassan Hage. n.d. Lecture on Different Forms of Racism.
    7. Gliessman, Stephen R. 2014. Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition. 3 edition. CRC Press.
    8. 2013. “Mesob.” Gracingonthecake (blog). March 12, 2013. https://
    9. J. W. Waceke, and J. W. Kimenju. 2007. “Intensive Subsistence Agriculture: Impacts,
    Challenges and Possible Interventions.” Global Science Books, Dynamic Soil, Dynamic
    10. James C. Scott. 2017. “Population Control: Bondage and War.” In Against The Grain. Yale University Press.
    11. Kiple, and Orenelas. n.d. “Determining What Our Ancestors Ate.” In Dietary Reconstruction and Nutritional Assessment of Past Peoples.
    12. McCann, James C. 1995. People of the Plow: An Agricultural History of Ethiopia,
    1800-1990. University of Wisconsin Press.
    13. Mengesha, Melak H. 1966. “Chemical Composition of Teff (Eragrostis Tef) Compared with That of Wheat, Barley and Grain Sorghum.” Economic Botany 20 (3):268–73. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02904277
    14. Mesfin, Daniel J. 2006. Exotic Ethiopian Cooking: Society, Culture, Hospitality &
    Traditions. Falls Church, VA: Ethiopian Cookbook Enterprises.
    15. Steinkraus, Keith. 1995. Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded. CRC Press.
    16. Stewart, Robert B., and Asnake Getachew. 1962. “Investigations of the Nature of Injera.” Economic Botany 16 (2):127–30. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02985300
    17. “Teff – Eragrostis Tef – Overview.” n.d. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://eol.org/pages/1114367/overview
    18. Tesfay, Asfafaw Haileselassie, Mulu Bayray Kahsay, and Ole Jørgen Nydal. 2014. “Design and Development of Solar Thermal Injera Baking: Steam Based Direct Baking.” Energy Procedia, 2013 ISES Solar World Congress, 57 (Supplement C):2946–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2014.10.330
    19. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2006. “Ethiopia: Digital Elevation Model (DEM).” ReliefWeb. 2006. https://reliefweb.int/map/ethiopia/ethiopia-digital-elevation-model-dem-0
    20. UNICEF. 2013. “Ethiopia: Migration Profiles.”
    21. “Where Is Hargeysa, Somalia?” n.d. WorldAtlas. Accessed December 17, 2017. https://www.worldatlas.com/af/so/wo/where-is-hargeysa.html.
    22. Williams-Forson, Psyche A., and Carole Counihan, eds. 2011. “Can We Sustain Sustainable Agriculture.” In Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. New York: Routledge.
    23. “Wollo Province.” 2017. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?
    24. Yelibenwork Ayele. 2011. “Slavery in Ethiopia.” African Holocaust Society (blog). October 25, 2011. http://africanholocaust.net/slavery-in-ethiopia/
    25. Yetneberk, Senayit, Riette DeKock, Lloyd W. Rooney, and John R. N. Taylor. 2004. “Effects of Sorghum Cultivar on Injera Quality.” Cereal Chemistry – CEREAL CHEM 81 (May). https://doi.org/10.1094/CCHEM.2004.81.3.314
    (First image in article is from Rama on Wikimedia Commons)

  • Earthling 7:50 pm on 22nd April 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Sacred Groves and Rituals in the Kabye Land (Togo) 

    This is a translation of a French article from Geoconfluences.
    The Kabye land occupies around 1000 km² in the northeast of Togo. It is made up of several highly anthropic mountain ranges with little spontaneous vegetation. There is a lot of intensive agriculture in this highly populated region. The land also features numerous natural sites which remarkably contrast with the uniformity of crops. These sites are considered to have great symbolic and cultural value. As in other voltaic societies, most of the mountain summits, hills and promontories, forests and groves, stretches of rivers and ponds, are considered to be forms taken on by certain divinities of the land.
    We will address the main representatives that surround these entitites occupying protruding tips in the village countryside, and thereby understand how these pieces of “nature” can be seen as places of divine manifestation, and essential places for the activities of a religion that affects the lives of groups and individuals.
    Among the diverse ritual acts that take place in the sacred groves, we will pay particular attention to the treatment of living plants and animals. This treatment show a specific ritual logic, in which the Kabye, as Bwaba of Burkina Faso puts it, “don’t think of the world of nature for itself (in this sense they are not naturalists), but they think of it as an element that lets them act upon (and understand) the social world, which is their real object of interest.” (Dugast 2006: 421)
    The Divinities of a Land
    The word generally used by the Kabye for the land’s divinities is “egolyme”. This word’s etymology is unclear. But in the north they are called “tree” (tew). Each of these powers exercises its influence on a limited territory, which could correspond to a whole village or a subdivision of one. Each is competent in one or several domains: rain, harvests, wind, hunt, war, controlling insect pests, human fertility, illness, etc. They are believed to have the capacity to act as intermediaries between the world of men and the heavenly realm, which is associated with the Supreme God (Eso) and contains the seeds of everything in the world.
    The divine powers called “egolyme” or “tree” can be divided into two categories. There are the first men, who are the mythical founders of villages and clans. The first man is usually conceived of as having been sent down from heaven by Eso. Groves mark the place where he first landed, as well as the places where he stopped before definitively settling. He is identified with the small grove where he finally built his home, which bears his name. His spiritual principle resides in the site, under a small box representing his ancient house, which contains the sacrificial altar. In the legends, this man is paired with a woman who came down from the heaven at the same time as him, or who was already present on the earth at his arrival. Their children dispersed across the empty lands to found the principal clans and lineages. The place where each group settled down is marked by a grove, where the remains of a settlement are sometimes found.
    The second category of egolymes are non-personified entitites, whose initial form bears witness to their aptitude for forming a link between the heaven and earth. They first appeared to men in the form of a tree or rock that reached all the way to the sky and plunged deep into the ground. The people, in order to permanently establish themselves in a land, had to ally themselves with these egolymes by means of sacrificial offerings. In these natural sites, religious arrangements are minimal; the altar is merely a stone or tree trunk, beside which a circle of stones make up the seats for ceremonial participants.
    The aptitude of these two subcategories of divinity to procure needed resources for men from the Supreme God is likewise revived and maintained by prayers and sacrificial offerings.
    Birthplaces of Social Elements
    The mesh formed by the sacred sites thus outlines a cultural and religious geography that is closely tied to the way this society views the construction of spaces in inhabited lands. Besides the fact that the “tree” or egolyme divinities make the land inhabitable for humans, these natural beacons in which powers manifest themselves can be seen as the multiple “birthplaces” of the village.
    This is notably seen in the initiatic rites surrounding ascension to the status of adulthood. These rites require boys and girls to return to their home village for a pilgrimage to the sacred groves that their lineage and clan depend on. To be “reborn” as a full member of the community requires them to collectively go on several paths retracing the different stages of their lineage group’s establishment on the land. This process is completed after all the initiates of the village (maybe hundreds of people) parade through the unique founding grove to which they owe their origins. After this contact with the generative land where the founding ancestor first landed, the initiates are authorized to procreate.
    Sites Modeled by Rituals
    As in other voltaic socities, it is generally forbidden to enter into sacred groves except in specific ritual contexts. It is forbidden to take their wood, move their stones, kill their animals, or cultivate their land. To meddle with the composition of a grove is to risk upsetting the balance of the natural elements that act upon the corresponding territory.
    Nevertheless, in the Kabye region, the plant cover of a sacred site is viewed as something that can be altered to influence rain, wind, earth, etc. During certain annual rituals, changing the composition of a grove is considered necessary as part of the ritual protocol prescribed by the divinity of the site. Just as with prayers, libations and sacrifices, the act of more or less drastically changing the appearance of a grove can influence the onset of seasons, or affect the elements of nature.
    This type of modification can be seen in the dry season, for example. A rite is arranged to accompany the departure of the harmattan wind, which is symbolic of this season. In several groves associated with wind, the grass and tree branches are cut in a part of the grove which is considered “the route” followed by the wind to reach the village. Reed stems are planted at specific spots in the newly cleared space. By assisting the departure of the wind, this marking lets us see the invisible path of the wind that gives rise to the harmattan.
    Other rituals require more radical modifications of sacred sites. Some of them have to be periodically covered with fire. On these occasions, only the vicinity of the altar is spared from the flames. A firewall is set up around this place (the location of the divinity) by cutting the surrounding grass in advance. Depending on the site and the ritual in question, the goal intended by this burning is different.
    During a rite for the beginning of the the hunt, the relevant sacred groves are often burned. The crickets and possible rodents fleeing the flames represent the wild animals that may be killed by the hunters during their future hunts. They are captured and buried in a specific place. Thus a prolific hunt is done throughout the reduced sacred grove, which facilitates the emergence and capture of wild animals in the hunting grounds several kilometers away.
    Land regeneration rites, which take place annually or every five years depending on the village, also require some groves to be burned or cleared. These sites often mark a territorial border: an intersection between several subdivisions of a village, or a border with a neighboring village. This location predisposes them to acquire a specific form of pollution, which the Kabye call “death”. This term designates the traces left in the soil from the breaking of laws prescribed by the territory’s divinities. The spilling of blood on the land (due to an accident or fight), an outdoor sexual relation, souls captured by sorcerers and stored under stones: such things endanger the fertility of the land and affect the egolymes’ ability to intercede. The “cleanings” by clearing or fire are associated with the piercing vision of clairvoyants, who go from sacred site to sacred site in search of reptiles, amphibians, and scorpions, creatures that represent “death” and should be killed and evacuated to the neighboring village.
    Kabye sacred groves, which Western eyes see as pieces of nature, are in local thought first and foremost places of divine manifestation. The structure of society leans upon the cultural relation maintained with these sites, and the survival of the group depends on the regular performance of ceremonies prescribed by the divinities. While in other places the permanency of a social unit is enabled through the stable preservation of the appearance of the sacred groves the group originated from, this is not the case among the Kabye. The “natural” elements of sacred groves are envisaged as material arranegements that must be acted upon sometimes to communicate with the divinities and intervene for the territory. The “filtering” role played by some of them, against the effects of law-breaking incidents, necessitate their modification. A good number of these sites are thus regularly remade. Depending on the time of year, they may be more or less thick or holey, and pass from the blackness of burning to the greenness of a small bush. Regularly altering the appearance of sacred groves is an ordinary way of responding to the demands of divinities and ensuring their goodwill so that society may persist.
    Further Information (In French)

    Original article by Marie Daugey, Doctor of Ethnology. Published on Geoconfluences on October 19, 2016. Translated from French by Zebulon Ulysses Goertzel, published here with the permission of Geoconfluences.

  • Earthling 7:48 pm on 22nd April 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bicycle recycling in france, bicycle recycling in toulouse, circular economy project, , Recycling broken and abandoned bicycles   

    Les-Cycles Re: Bicycle Recycling Initiative in Toulouse 

    In Toulouse, Les Cycles-Re wants to give second lives to broken and abandoned bikes
    A circular economy project
    – Giving a second life to broken and abandoned bicycles
    The goal is to reinvent the way broken and abandoned bicycles are recycled.  Les Cycles-Re offers to give a second life to these bicycles destined for the scrap yard and thus extend their lifespan. The organization already started building a network to collect broken and/or abandoned bicycles, in particular from individuals, bike shops, companies and organizations.
    – Manufacturing bike accessories from recycled materials
    The remanufacturing process developed by Les Cycles-Re is guided by the desire to make the most of recycled materials. In this spirit, the tape forming the handlebars is made from couch leather from garbage dumps, and molded corks.
    Project Page (French): https://www.zeste.coop/fr/decouvrez-les-projets/detail/les-cycles-re
    Article Translated from Yonne Lautre (French): https://yonnelautre.fr/spip.php?article13917
    Translated by Zebulon Ulysses Goertzel

  • Earthling 6:17 pm on 8th April 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antibiotics, antibiotics in farm animals, harms of antibiotics in farm animals, why not to use antibiotics in farm animals   

    Reasons to Limit Antibiotics in Farm Animals 

    By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
    The overuse or misuse of antibiotics in farm animals can cause antibiotic resistance, which is a condition whereby the antibiotic used doesn’t kill all the bacteria, and some bacteria find a way to fight off the antibiotic, thus causing the bacteria to mutate and join with other bacteria to create a more highly resistant bacteria. Harmful bacteria can pass on to humans through the food chain, as well as through the environment in the form of groundwater contamination and other forms of contamination.
    Highly resistant bacteria may be harder to kill with an antibiotic, so a new antibiotic will have to be invented to kill the new bacteria. This can then be the beginning of a new antibiotic-resistant disease that could be dangerous to the human population.
    Typically, farmers who raise farm animals, such as chickens, pigs, and cows for human consumption, give their animals small doses of antibiotics in order to ensure faster growth and healthy animals due to the usual crowded and unsanitary conditions of the factory farming industry.
    However, since 1977, research has shown that the use of antibiotics in farm animals is not safe, due to antibiotic resistance.“‘In 1977, the FDA first determined that using penicillins and tetracyclines to make animals grow faster was no longer ‘shown to be safe.’”
    The FDA has released a new antibiotic plan to help control the use of antibiotics on farm animals. The USDA is also working on this new plan. However, according to some sources the plan is not strict enough and is still a voluntary plan, which stands in need of further improvement in order to stop the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in farm animals.
    According to Chipotle Mexican Grill, the FDA needs to do more to assure the safety of the environment by being stricter about the use of antibiotics in farm animals.
    FDA’s proposed plan asks, but does not require, chicken, beef and pork producers to reduce the quantities of antibiotics given to animals to promote growth, while allowing for continued antibiotic use for the treatment, prevention and control of illness. Under the plan, antibiotic use in feed would require a prescription.” “But scientists have long said that overuse use of antibiotics in meat could cause humans to develop dangerous, drug-resistant infections.”
    What is antibiotic resistance? Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria continue to grow after the use of an antibiotic. They will continue to grow and multiply at an even faster rate than before and attach themselves to other bacteria forming a new and resistant strain of a disease or a totally new disease without an antibiotic that can combat this new disease.
    So why is the use of antibiotics in farm animals so dangerous? According to an article in Scientific American, “…the treatment provides just enough antibiotic to kill some but not all bacteria. The germs that survive are typically those that happen to bear genetic mutations for resisting the antibiotic. They then reproduce and exchange genes with other microbial resisters. Because bacteria are found literally everywhere, resistant strains produced in animals eventually find their way into people as well. You could not design a better system for guaranteeing the spread of antibiotic resistance.”
    When low doses of antibiotics are fed to farm animals and antibiotic resistance occurs, an infectious disease can be produced called a “super bug.” This super bug is totally resistant to any form of treatment and could pose a fatal risk to both animals and humans.
    More and more frequently, we are seeing outbreaks of dangerous infections caused by such superbugs. Over the past few decades, the use of antibiotics has enabled us to control many serious infectious diseases. However, as resistant strains become more widespread due to natural and inevitable evolutionary adjustments, antibiotics will cease to be the effective tool they have been for physicians and patients to control infectious diseases.”
    The best formula for success in the farm industry is to not use antibiotics at all unless an animal has become sick. This animal can be isolated and treated. But to treat all the farm animals with low doses of antibiotics is, as explained in the above statement, an invitation to infectious disease disaster among both the animal population and the human population.
    Animals should be raised naturally in sanitary conditions to ensure their good growth and good health, and to ensure the health of the human population worldwide.
    Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. Edited and used with her permission.

  • Earthling 5:57 pm on 8th April 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bulk buying club tips, bulk purchasing tips, buying in bulk, buying in bulk tips, cooperatives, saving money   

    How to Buy in Bulk and Save Money 

    By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
    In order to save money, it is a good idea to buy in bulk. Larger quantities are usually cheaper than smaller quantities. Often when buying in bulk we are buying at a wholesale price and cutting out the middleman.
    Food is the most popular item bought in bulk. And often when people buy food in bulk, they form buying clubs or cooperatives with friends, relatives, or neighbors. They purchase their bulk items and then divide them up, thus saving money. So that is the first tip to buying in bulk:

    • Form a buying club or cooperative with friends, relatives, or neighbors.
    • Decide where you are going to purchase your bulk items. You can purchase in bulk from wholesale produce houses or through wholesale catalogs.
    • Once you have decided where to purchase your items, you can start making purchases or begin placing orders.
    • Foods that are best bought in bulk are your staples such as rice, potatoes, flour, spices, meats, and vegetables; or the foods that are absolutely necessary for your everyday meals.
    • Try to find out where your best restaurants purchase food. Restaurants purchase food from restaurant brokers and suppliers. Brokers are excellent for getting top quality meats and they will only sell in bulk.
    • Large farm markets or produce houses are best for potatoes or vegetables.
    • Catalogs are great for spices. Spices bought in bulk are bought at a fraction of the normal retail cost. But you wouldn’t want to buy a pound of oregano just for one small family. However it is still better than buying those highly expensive little bottles of spices. And spices last a long time. You can keep them almost forever.
    • You can also buy soy oil (vegetable oil) and molasses in bulk.

    Once you have received your orders from your new buying club or cooperative members, you can place your food order with the supplier or suppliers you have chosen. When the order is delivered, members can begin dividing up their food.
    A buying club can be made up of only a few people.  A family of four can easily go through 20 pounds of potatoes in short order. So if you are buying 100 lbs of potatoes and dividing it up into 20-pound portions, that would only be divided among five families. A family of four could easily go through a hundred pounds of potatoes quickly, depending on how much they like potatoes.
    You will need to decide if you can purchase in bulk for just your family or if you need to join up with another family or two or more to purchase your bulk items.
    You can purchase bulk items in your supermarket. There is usually a section that sells items in bulk, such as large cans of tomato sauce, large containers of pasta, and large bags of rice. You will save a lot by buying these items in bulk just for your family. Rice keeps forever. However, it is a good idea to store your rice in large airtight containers after you have opened the bag.
    When opening up a can of tomato sauce, divide it into smaller portions and store it in the freezer. You can also make large portions of pasta sauce or other types of meals and divide up the sauces or meals into meal-size portions, put them in containers, and freeze them. Zip-lock freezer bags or covered plastic containers are great for the freezer. More tips:

    • Some localities already have buying clubs, cooperative stores, and sustainable farming initiatives that you can get involved with for buying in bulk, especially if you are planning to buy organic foods.
    • Organic foods are often sold in bulk through cooperative stores and sustainable farms or farmer’s markets.
    • Other items sold in bulk are cattle and chicken feed and other farm supplies. Farm cooperatives in your area can be found in your local telephone directory. You can also start a farming cooperative if there isn’t one already.
    • Purchasing in bulk also saves the environment by reducing the amount of energy needed to make small containers, reducing the waste caused by small containers, and saving trees that the paper used for small containers is made of.

    You can save a lot of money by shopping in bulk, whether you shop at a local cooperative store or start your own cooperative among family, friends, or neighbors. You can also save a lot of money by shopping in bulk just for your immediate family.
    Shopping in bulk will not only save you money but will save energy, trees, and reduce waste, which are prime concerns for today’s economy and environment.
    Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. Edited and used with her permission.

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