How to Grow Organic Food for Family Economic Survival

Index of the Overcoming Consumerism website

This page is about:

Learning how and why to grow your some of your own organic food and the reasons why that is important for you, your family and society.

There is no act more gratifying, more basic, more liberating, than to coax food from the Earth. Time and the rhythms of nature become the ultimate template by which to live. Do it just to know that you can do it, or do it just to live or do it to save money.

You want to talk about a truly useful skill-set?

Learn how to grow some or most of your own food or teach others how to do the same.

 If you have access to a deck, a roof, a patch of ground no larger than a flower bed or far more space, you can, with some of the resources listed on this page learn to feed yourself and others. Any reasonably intelligent person with time or patience or internet access can learn as much about soil and gardening as the most experienced farmers knew a hundred years ago--putting it into practice takes time however, today is the day to begin a garden.

 

Imagine going out and picking dozens of different kinds of vegetables that grow with little or no maintenance and re-seed themselves year after year just like plants in a meadow. Or envision a small plot of intensely rich soil that feeds your family with less than an hour of labor per day using less time and energy than many Americans waste on maintaining cosmetic lawns. Imagine hundreds of pounds of different fruits coming from trees in your backyard. It can be done but you will need to learn some of the basics.

The information herein is to help everyone from the novice to the experienced gardener without burying you in details.

There are no ads here. We're not out to sell you anything. There are no donation boxes.

We're self taught in html. (Yes, we could use a designer).

 

Here's how this page is laid out: Click the links to go directly to that section.

Basics of gardening and soil formation.

Examples of bad chemicals in non-Organic food.

Protect yourself, our communities, our nation and the environment by eating organic food.

Permaculture, and advanced methods of sustainability and food production

The shrinking supply of cheap oil will lead to expensive food.

More resources on food production-forums, books etc.

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The quick and easy guide to getting started:

1. Stop applying all pesticides, fungicides, weed killers and sprays in and around your entire garden. No exceptions.

2. Start small, 25 square feet for example. Find the spot that ideally has sun all year in your yard. If it's shaded part of the year, that's OK too. Avoid the area next to buildings or fences because of possible contamination of the soil by paint, heavy metals or chemicals.

3. Remove whatever debris is covering the soil including rocks larger than a fingernail. If plants already grow there that you want somewhere else, dig them out with the shovel and plant them in the new location.

4. Cover your gardening area with organic material such as leaves, dried grass and fine plant material from your own or other's non-pesticide sprayed gardens.

5. Get a bucketful of good compost from someone else's garden or crumbly black sweet-smelling soil from under forest trees. Spread this thinly all over your garden. You will be inoculating your soil with all manner of soil organisms, little bugs, worms and other beneficial life forms that are going to do most of the work for you in improving your soil.

6. Use the pick or shovel to mix the top 3 inches of soil and organic material. Burying the organic material any deeper just kills the critters and wastes your energy because there may not be enough oxygen for them further down.

7. Keep the soil damp like a wrung out sponge, not soggy. Once again, you need air in the soil for life.

8. Never walk on your soil. Make a kneeling board out of a small piece of scrap plywood to avoid compacting the soil and use an old cushion to save your knees. Create the minimum width paths to be able to reach across a four foot wide bed from both sides.

9. Obtain vegetables in 4" square pots, a common size, or get plants from friends. Dig a hole slightly larger than the rootball, squeeze the sides of the pot to unstick the plant, moisten the rootball, fluff it's roots sideways and plant it. Mulch around it on the surface with organic material like leaves or straw to keep the soil moist underneath it. Water the root ball with a slow drip such as a bucket with a nail hole to allow air to be pulled down after the water.

10. Start your own compost heap in a corner of the garden. Skip the gimmicks, tumblers, boxes and devices. Just heap up all the clean organic material that you can get and mix it up occasionally, keeping it as moist as a wrung out sponge. Apply the compost periodically to the soil around your plants as a light dusting or use it to start your own seeds in a 50/50 mix of native soil and compost.

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Some highly effective gardening techniques for those who want to progress and produce lots of vegetables.

Biointensive Gardening The essence of creating conditions that produce large quantities of high quality healthy food in a small space.

 

About Biointensive and its founder ; illustrated newspaper story.

 

University of California Vegetable information pages:

http://vric.ucdavis.edu/main/veg_info.htm

 

 A simple effective thing that you can do today: Begin a compost heap. Find an out of the way place in your garden and make a pile of leaves and grass. Save your coffee grounds and filters, fruit peels, tea bags, fruit cores in a milk carton on the kitchen counter and then mix them with the leaves. Throw a handful of dirt on top of the pile and stir it with a shovel. Nature will do the rest.

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About soil: Hundreds of generations of knowledge about soil is at your fingertips here.

A highly valuable site for beginners:

How to make soil using biointensive methods

Learn about and Understand the Soil

Long and Technical; the biology and science of soil

Incredible website with tremendous variety of information and techniques of soil building

Cyber Help for Organic Farmers-Your Soil

How to build new topsoil: solid overview

http://managingwholes.com/new-topsoil.htm

 

Whole Fraud: Exposing the Myth of So-Called Natural Foods

An important article from the Organic Consumers Association

 

Another incredibly useful site:

Richmond Grows, A public seed lending library as well as a forum to provide educational materials so that every community in America and the world can establish their own seed lending libraries.

http://www.richmondgrows.org/index.html

Composting

General info:

Make soil of the best quality from table scraps and garden waste.  

You can buy an expensive ceramic compost holder for your kitchen or you can make one for free like this:

Composting In depth

[pages 3-3 through 3-13] click "next page" on the bottom or top right to move to next page

Mini-Farming

"One mini-farmer working 40-45 hours per week can produce enough food for 24 people on about 3/4 of an acre."

Think about these numbers: How much pre-tax money do 24 people have to earn to buy food for a week? How many hours would 24 people have to work to earn that money, costing how many commute hours?


 City farmer site Beautiful Canadian Government Site about the philosophy, rewards, successes and social mechanics of home/neighborhood farming and food independence.

From the Organic Consumers Association:

Why you should grow your own food organically:

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What's On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable...we built this tool to help move the public conversation about pesticides into an arena where you don’t have to be an expert to participate.

http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/

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Soil is good for your health and your mood: ""Is Dirt the New Prozac? Injections of soil bacteria produce serotonin—and happiness.

End soil

 

Here are real time world statistics on births/deaths and what's happening out there. In the time it took you to read this line, 17 people have been born. 2,000 tonnes of CO2 have been emitted worldwide.

 

The Worst Case Scenario: Why you should learn and apply these techniques for personal and family survival.

The following is long and grim. Don't read it if you want a tranquil life.

Eating Fossil Fuels

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100303_eating_oil.html

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Here's a historical analysis of why societies and empires that destroy their soil and the environment destroy themself.

Read it and you'll appreciate why becoming a serious gardener is one of the best things that you can do

for your financial health, the planet, for western civilization--plus it's a lot of fun.

http://www.rainbowbody.net/Finalempire/FEchap1.htm

(from THE FINAL EMPIRE: THE COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION AND THE SEED OF THE FUTURE

by WM. H. KÖTKE http://www.rainbowbody.net/Finalempire/index.html)

Here's how much food an "average" American family eats in a year. A little bit of "legal" and "permissable" pesticide in every mouthful adds up to a lot. So what's wrong with a little pesticide residue anyway? Cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and more...from pesticides? If you don't already know about this, the links below are a start in your education about pesticides.

There is far more than just pesticide information below this point. You're only a quarter of the way into the page.

It's in your self interest to learn about these chemicals

 So just what's in the non-organic food that you're eating?

This link shows you what there is in NON-organic food and its effects on you.

If you don't care about yourself at least check out the bad things that you are feeding to your kids.

Genetically engineered 'food' and it's effects on your children. http://www.organicconsumers.org/supermarket/

Three national chains in the U.S., Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Wild Oats have already committed to removing GE ingredients from their store brand products.

An EPA-approved pesticide is worse than the one it's replacing

Soon there will be residues of this in your non-organic produce, especially soft berries.

"......"Just before approving methyl iodide in October, the EPA received a blunt letter [PDF] signed by 54 prominent scientists, including the Nobel chemist Roald Hoffman, laying out the case against the compound. "Alkylating agents like methyl iodide are extraordinarily well-known cancer hazards in the chemical community because of their ability to modify the chemist's own DNA," the scientists warned"....""methyl iodide is so carcinogenic that scientists have used it for years to induce cancer in laboratory tissues.

April 20, 2011

"In a new study suggesting pesticides may be associated with the health and development of children, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health have found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides – widely used on food crops – is related to lower intelligence scores at age 7. The researchers found that every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother’s pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in the 7-year-olds. Children in the study with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored seven points lower on a standardized measure of intelligence compared with children who had the lowest levels of exposure...."

http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/04/20/prenatal-pesticide-exposure-lower-iq/

Finally, here are the affects of the pesticides on non-organic foods that you buy at the market. http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/

  Outstanding series of articles from the Ecologist Magazine in Britain

The best explanation of what's wrong with industrial Factory Food that we've seen.

 

Fatal Harvest Myth 1: Industrial Agriculture will feed the world.

Fatal Harvest Myth 2: Industrial Food is Cheap

Fatal Harvest Myth 3: Industrial Food is Safe, Healthy and Nutritious

Fatal Harvest Myth 4: Industrial Food offers more choices

Fatal Harvest Myth 5: Industrial food offers more choices.

Myth 6: BIOTECHNOLOGY WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE

Myth number 7: INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE BENEFITS THE WORLD

 

 

Here's an example of how dangerous chemicals are ubiquitous in conventional food:

From the magnificient online book fruits of warm climates by Julia Morton:

"Tangerines generally do not have good keeping quality.... To prolong storage life, pads impregnated with the fungistat, diphenyl, have been placed in shipping cartons. The chemical is partly absorbed by the fruit and Federal regulations allow a residue of only 110 ppm. Storage trials have shown that washed and waxed 'Dancy' and 'Sunburst', with 2 pads per carton, absorbed more than 110 ppm in 2 weeks at 70º F (21º C)...Storage of unwashed 'Dancy' fruits for 2 weeks at 39.2º F (3º C) with 1 pad per carton showed diphenyl absorption below the legal limit. Unwashed 'Sunburst' fruits with 2 pads can be stored 4 weeks without absorbing excessive diphenyl. Early-harvested tangerines are less susceptible to decay but apt to absorb an excess of diphenyl."

 So, want another (non-organic) tangerine?

But aren't government regulators protecting us from unsafe levels of chemicals in foods produced by big companies?

Read this for an introduction to the concept of the "revolving door" between

government service and employment contracts.

http://www.monitor.net/monitor/9904b/monsantofda.html

 

What's your body burden of toxic chemicals? Here's a catalog of whats in your blood:

 


The corporate clod clowns' chorus:

"Organic food is too expensive! Americans want cheap food..."

Here's the ultimate in cheap factory food. Nice and inexpensive. You're not going to eat this stuff are you? You want to really save money on food? Behind every McD's there is a grease drum of used oil. Why you could bob for french fry bits in that all daylong for free?


How you can protect yourself, your communities, our nation and the environment by eating organic food.

http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm

Measuring food by the mile- Yet another advantage of organic food.

 

A huge and varied site about the mechanics of growing different vegetables and fruits.

Crop information and fabulous links to a constellation of resources. This guy's site actually makes mine look organized!

Don't panic, go organic

 

Stop!

Just because it's labeled "Organic" doesn't mean you should accept it. You need to support the small local growers and processors that invented the organic food industry and who do good things with the money you spend. Here's an example of the bad guys that have muscled into the organic food market...

"...Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen are owned by Small Planet Foods which is owned by GENERAL MILLS, whose principal investors are PHILIP MORRIS, EXXONMOBIL, GENERAL ELECTRIC, CHEVRON, NIKE, McDONALD'S, TARGET STORES, STARBUCK'S, MONSANTO, DUPONT (weapons & pesticides), DOW CHEMICAL (Agent Orange, breast implants, napalm), PEPSICO, ALCOA ALUMINUM, DISNEY (exploit Third World labor), TEXAS INSTRUMENTS (weapons: one of GW Bush's top contributors), PFIZER. General Mills is also being boycotted for animal rights abuse...".

from What We Need to Know About the Corporate Takeover of the "Organic" Food Market

Here is a link that takes you to a chart of who owns what -you'll be surprised

 

Beyond Organic, the transition to Authentic Organic food: The highest quality and local origins

 

How Organic can feed the world. Maker of genetically modified crops admits this, results back him up!

 

BACK TO GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD:

The Future is Abundant A great page about the philosophy and science of growing your own food in a sustainable fashion.

 Here's what can be done by a dedicated and hardworking family. 1/10 of an acre in the middle of the city.

"Let's face it. Our world is in deep, deep trouble and we are the "troublemakers." We have to make real, difficult changes yesterday. Despite the obvious benefits, we are not going to recycle, compost, or talk our way out of this.

Our leaders, being politicians, are not leaders at all but are bound to be followers, who just won't be there for us in a crisis. So, it's up to me and you to make the choice of becoming responsible stewards of the earth."

<-------This back yard produced the following crops only 6 years after it was mere dirt, concrete and grass. On 1/10 acre = 4.360 square feet.

Yields in pounds from May 7 to November 11, 2001

Peas 70 (lbs)

Strawberries 19

Squash Summer

Corn(ears )313

Beans 157

Mixed Berries 21

-yellow 21

Tomatoes 533

Peppers 145

Cucumbers 48

-green 49

Onions 57

Peaches 505

Plums 33

Squash Winter-

Salad Mix 92

Figs 16

Pumpkins 60

spaghetti 94

Sunchokes 24

More information on this garden, see

UPDATE: as of 12/31/03 this garden produced a total of 6,000 lbs of food in one year on 1/10 th of an acre--and remember the fruit trees haven't matured yet!

Newer article: About this urban farm from the L.A. Times. January 25, 2007

July 2006-"Three Tons of Produce" San Francisco Chronicle article:

November 2008 tally:

How an Oakland, California 7 person household uses their garden to hold their housing, utility and food expenses to

less than $21 per day- per person. (2009 prices)


The best overall description of why one should grow their own food.

from an essay: THE TERRIBLE TIME OF DAY by Bill Mollison, 1981 This guy is the father of Permaculture and is a visionary and hero.

 

"Agriculture is a destructive system."

What are the strategies by which we don't need agriculture? Agriculture is a destructive system. Well, we need a lot more gardeners. Gardeners are the most productive, most hands-on sort of agriculturists. They always have been. There never has been any debate about it. When you make a farm big, you just accept a suddenly lower productivity and yield, but less people get it. That is why it is economically "efficient." When you talk about efficient farming of this order, you are talking about dollars. When you reduce the size of the owned landscape, providing you don't reduce the lots to less than a quarter of an acre, the agricultural productivity goes up. You get a lot of arguments to the effect that breaking up large farms into five acre blocks is uneconomic. Five acre blocks are. One to one-quarter acre blocks are not. They are highly productive.

Now gardeners. How many gardeners are there in the United States? Fifty-three percent of households now garden. They garden only 600 square feet on the average. They make something like $1.50 a square foot. These household gardens are producing 18% of the food in the United States, at a value almost equivalent to total agriculture."

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Achieving Food Independence on the Modern Homestead A well-written and concise series of steps that one can take to become an independent producer of their own food. Harvey and Ellen Ussery, 2005-2007

Introduction to Permaculture

http://www.permacultureactivist.net/intro/PcIntro.htm

 

"My own sense of homeland security is enhanced...when I know there is prime farmland not far from my home that provides me with healthy food. I feel more secure knowing that I possess enought rudimentary gardening and food skills to grow and process some of my own food and, even more reassuringly, there are still many nearby farmers who have the training and experience to operate commercial agricultural operations." Mark Winne
 

Catching rainwater from your roof and becoming water self-sufficient.

Adventures in Urban Sustainability - Happy Earth. A beautiful alternate universe in New Zealand.

Learn about the informal economy
"In England, you find people in the villages who have got fed up with the rat race and have started to farm their gardens and take part-time jobs... ."

You think that it's not happening in America? At what point does one give up searching for a "Job", the opportunity to pay taxes, to commute, to do grunge work with no future? Many have given up. The Informal Economy is their salvation...

How to Cook your food with a $4.00 windshield shade

Why growing your own organic food is the best and most liberating action you can take for the future of our republic, the health of the real economy and as a means of hurting the really bad guys.

 

Did your grandparents ever give you seeds from the old country or the homestead? They might be the last of their kind on earth. How to save them for the future: Naturalizing heirlooms to reseed themselves

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Seed Savers Exchange : an organization that saves and sells heirloom seeds and allows people who save their own to distribute them. There is has been a controversial firing of the originator of Seed Savers Exchange, Kent Wheatley, by the new board of directors. We no longer recommend them. Please find local organizations that do seed saving in your area. We recommend this seed saving group that can send you a kit to establish your own seed saving library in your home town.

http://www.richmondgrows.org/index.html

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Yet another reason to save your own heirloom seed from the Wall Street Journal:
"Indeed, Monsanto has already agreed to apply its biggest biotechnology breakthrough to Romo seeds. Scientists from Mr. Romo's company, Empresas La Moderna SA,
have placed in a lettuce a gene that gives it immunity to Roundup, a Monsanto herbicide designed to kill any [new] green vegetation. Now, 40% of all vegetables sold in the U.S. supermarkets derive from Mr. Romo's seeds. Fill your plate at the salad bar of a U.S. restaurant chain, and probably half of what you eat started life as a Romo seed." (and was probably drenched in roundup pesticide).

United States Department of Agriculture site with lots of information and bibliographies on Heirloom Vegetables.

But...there is a threat on the horizon to people that want to grow their own food:

And now... Here's how corporate American agribusiness is going to make it illegal to trade seeds of any kind, or even grow native plants on your own land : Think we're kidding? Welcome to the nightmare world of the "approved plant list". http://www.geocities.com/nowhitelist/index.html STOP THE WHITE LIST!

See how city dwellers are feeding themselves in Africa, Asia, South America. There is no reason that people can't grow their own food here to protect their health, save money and become more independent.

Organic gardening a savior for Cubans starving under failed central planning

 

A fabulous eclectic page full of links about small scale, community and biointensive agriculture.

From In-Context magazine.

 Why food prices are climbing and how you can protect your community and family from this threat.

This is how much an average American family of 4 eats a year: (Yes, it's the same picture you saw before.)

How will they survive if the "just in time" 3 days from- farm- to- table supply lines of food are interrupted by Natural or man-made disaster?

 EATING FOSSIL FUELS The definitive short article on cheap petroleum=cheap food.

See what the Fertilizer Institute , one of those large trade organizations with lobbyists scurrying all over Washington is saying about this just in case you think that we are alarmists or espouse some minority viewpoint.

So what happens when a country is cut off from petroleum-fertilizer-natural gas and agricultural supplies? North Korea starves to death-except for the Communist Party leaders of course.

Cuba after the centrally run economy was cut off from the Soviet Union did things differently and with great success.

An in-depth analysis here

How erosion caused by conventional farming is destroying the world's ability to feed itself.

That's southern Lousiana and the Mississippi River dumping topsoil into the Gulf of Mexico;

Organic farming not only prevents this, it builds new soil. see

Building soil with organic materials.

  

How to raise organic vegetables

 

organic vegetables More resources for learning how to grow your own food:
Books about gardening and ecology online. Download them. Free, that's a good price for invaluable knowledge.

http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/01aglibwelcome.html

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Are you discarding edible parts of vegetables and not knowing it?

Secondary Edible Parts of Vegetables

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/newsletters/vpmnews/apr02/art4apr.html

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A phenominal history of agriculture from Purdue University INTERGARDEN an incredibly through and well constructed set of links to

PERMACULTURE & REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE sites.

 

Gardenweb Forums A place to learn from others. Enormous number ot topics and regional subjects. Unfortunately this is loaded with ads and ads served from outside advertisers and so it's quite slow to load.

 

U.S.D.A. general site about vegetable gardens

Long (but useful) explanations of all factors involved for the uninitiated.

 

Why organic farming preserves soil: A nice explanation of the dangers of artificial fertilizers: A mini-lesson from a fabulous book,
Fatal Harvest; the tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

"We know that the massive use of synthetic fertilizers to create artficial fertility has had a cascade of adverse effects on natural soil fertility and the entire soil system. Fertilizer application begins the destruction of soil biodversity by diminishing the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and amplifying the role of everything that feeds on nitrogen. These feeders than speed up the decomposition of organic matter and humus. As organic matter decreases, the physical structure of soil changes.

With less pore space and loss of their sponge-like qualities , soils are less efficient at retaining moisture and air. More irrigation is needed. Water leaches through the soils, draining away nutrients that no longer have an effective substrate on which to cling. With less available oxygen,the growth of soil microbiology slows, and the intricate ecosystem of biological exchanges breaks down. Acidity rises and further breaks down organic matter. As soil microbes decrease in volume and diversity, they are less able to physically hold soils together in groups called aggregates.

Water begins to erode these soils away. Less topsoil means less volume and biodiversity to buffer these changes. More soils wash away. Meanwhile, all these events have a cumulative effect of reducing the amount of nutrients available to plants. Industrial farmers address these observed deficiencies by adding more fertilizer. Such a scenario is knows as a negative feedback loop; a more blunt comparison is substance abuse." Link: Fatal Harvest: the Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture

Read table of contents and more excerpts at this website.

Lovely study from Denmark:

In Denmark, during World War II, due to a food crisis, many domestic animals were slaughtered and their grain rations fed to humans. Consumption of white bread was stopped, and replaced by a bread made from a wholemeal of 67% rye, 21% oats, and 12% bran, called Kleiebrot. Consequently, the death rate fell to the lowest level ever registered in Europe. There were significant declines in the incidence of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes, and cancer, and there were no cases of digestive troubles (Marine & Van Allen, 1972; Day, 1966).

Misc stuff:

WHY FRUIT TREES ARE GRAFTED

 

Magnificent online course about grafting Yes, you can get a peach to grow on a plum tree.

 

PLANT PROPAGATION Magnificent online course from Ohio State University.
 

How you can create a rainforest by planting diverse species:

 

Gardening as an anarchist plot. A brilliant site with all manner of practical hands-on things.

 

Avant-Gardening, a New Mexico Organic garden site with an interesting design philosophy

 


Knox Cellers: a father/daughter team raise wild bees. Check out the Urban Farmer newsletter link at the bottom of their page.
 Huge page of resources having to do with homesteading, food storage, tools etc. The Walton Feed Pages

 

 

 

Yet more reasons to avoid factory food:

Hidden agenda in food irradiation?
Section on food irradiation is 1/2 down the article.

It is true that if a food irradiation industry can be created, it will soon sop up all available cesium-137, and thus create a demand for more. This would require the government to start rethe cesium would become the responsibility of states, thus relieving the federal government of an enormous radwaste problem. processing nuclear waste instead of burying it in the ground somewhere...


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