Friday, October 2, 2009

A Dragon's Take on Eating, Cotton Seeds, and Dr. Norman Borlaug

I love to eat. Snack. Nibble. Very well--gorge! What Dragon does not? With two gullets and a massive weight to support, we are required to partake/ consume/devour equally massive quantities of caloric rations, energy elevators, weight promoting particulates. Chow.

Fortunately, a Dragon's tastes are broad and varied--meat of any ilk will suffice. Cooked or uncooked. With or without bones, fur, hair, scales, horns, antlers, hooves, fins or whatever proteinaceous protrusion projects from the anatomy of one's dinner choice. It is good to be able to be cavalier about one's dining habits, to have the capacity for eating all that is available without the necessity of considering its nutritional value, health significance, or accessibility (in truth, with so much to select from, and because a Dragon has wings, accessibility to a meal is rarely a factor). Humans, however, have a more precarious/uncertain/insecure relationship with food.

I'm sad to say hunger/starvation/deprevation not only occur in some parts of the world, they are commonplace. Take a look at the list of some of the most famous famines in history. Famine...a deplorable situation a Dragon can only shake his head at and sorrow for. Such conditions result from so many causes. Weather is often the culprit. Soil scouring drought, or ground devouring flood--either can deplete resources. Insects, too, can be deadly. Voracious and overwhelming, a vertiable storm of gleaming little carapaces chewing, gnawing, and demolishing foodstuffs off the ground, the stalk, or out of the storage bin. Mice have this destructive capacity, as well. Explosive numbers of any creature, even humans, bode poorly for food stocks. Nature can only support so many mouths/ stomachs/gullets at a time! [Fortunately, Dragons reproduce slowly; we are few and far between.]

The worst perpetrators, in moi esteemed opinion, are war, hostitlies, confrontation between and among mankind. Humans have the most startling and deplorable capacity for violence upon their own. Dragons do not eat species of equitable intellect. There is something 'cannabalistic' about such an activity! Men, however, appear to have no such restraint. Some blame it on hormones (ah! blame nature for it, of course), others on lack of education (not applicable, I think, when many of the offenders have college degrees), while many fault culture, religion, greed, and/or simply plain evil. Causality aside, the end results are the same--famine, deprivation, death of the innocent.

Ahem. But my mind/brain/thought processes are not focused, in this moment, on the sad and mournful causes of hunger, but on prospects of confronting the foul condition via the grace of human minds bent on salvation rather than destruction. Many humans not only rise above the aggressive gene, they soar above it. Which only goes to prove one does not have to have wings to fly...

Recently, I read of the passing of a human who devoted his life to fighting world hunger (yes, Dragons read. Large books, or tiny books with very large print!) I tend to think this significant event has occurred beyond the scrutiny/ knowledge/awareness of most of the humanity this fine man served. This important human was Dr. Norman Borlaug, a professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and father of the 'green revolution' who was credited with saving one billion lives from famine. One Billion! Why--I've not counted that many stars when night flying! In the 1940's, with a team of young scientists, he developed the disease-resistant/high yield/adaptable wheat that helped prevent starvation/ hunger/death in India and Pakistan in the mid-1960's. T'is it any wonder that in 2007 Dr. Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Metal, the highest civilian honor given by the United States Congress? Oh, this man had wings of caliber, the finely-feathered kind that swoop the body and soul above and beyond the common/ordinary/general lives to which most are relegated due to lesser vision. And, perhaps, lesser hearts.

Fear not, brave and capricious humans! The baton has not been dropped. Even now another professor from that same notable university is working to provide an abundant new protein source to our hungry world: cotton seeds!, Dr. Keerti Rathore has managed to construct/develop/generate a genetic sequence that blocks the toxic chemical that protects cotton from insects--and prevents humans from consuming them (the seeds, not the insects). Cotton seeds are a rich source of protein, and developing an edible variety will open the door to safely utilizing the more than 40 million tons of seeds produced annually. The planet can use such an influx of nutritional import. A tasty import at that; reportedly the seeds taste like chickpeas. a Dragon I've had little association with peas in general; however, s'not to say I could not be tempted to partake of such fare if properly prepared. Might go down well with a yummy bovine.

Dear writers of the rich and substantive word, human or otherwise, be willing to seek out new words, new meanings, fresh approaches to enrich your writing style. Every subject has the potential to be fruitful. Read beyond your comfort zone, be stirred by deeper thoughts, and extract bountiful aspects of your reading experience to salt your prose with realism and meaning. Keep Writing!