GMO Kick: Part 3- Solutions

The first part of this post is the important part if you want to know how to avoid GMOs. The second part is important part if you want to save the world from GMOs. But if you want the super short version, the picture says it all. Grow your own food even if you can only manage a tiny amount. Look for heirloom seeds, hybrids if you must comprise. Gardening, waiting may be less convenient than just going to the store whenever you need something, but it’s the only way you’ll know for sure what you’re eating.

The problem with GMOs is enough to cause insanity, but I take comfort in knowing that there is something I can do about it, something we can all do about it. Immediately after this comfort I am depressed by the knowledge of how many people are not doing any of these, but then I remind myself that it all starts with the choice of the individual. I am an individual and so are you and we have a choice.

In order to avoid GMOs, try to do the following:

(1) There are two labels that you want to watch out for. USDA (or other agency) certified organic doesn’t ensure much, but it does tell you that you’re looking at something that shouldn’t, at the very least, have GMOs in it. The None GMO Verified seal from the non-GMO project, a non-government group that inspects foods from provider members. View the seal here (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/non-gmo-project-seal.html).

Unfortunately, neither label is an absolute 100% guarantee that there are no slight traces of GMOs. Nearby GMO crops of the same type you purchase can pollute even organic crops and still be USDA approved as organic.

(2) Almost all corn, and soy crops in the USA and Canada are genetically modified. A lot of cotton is and canola is genetically modified. Avoid those cotton seed and canola oils. Beet sugar can come from genetically modified beets. Unless you’re getting it from an absolutely reliable source then avoid these crops at all costs. Corn and soy is, in some form or another, present in virtually all processed foods. Unless it’s certified organic or a fruit or vegetable, it probably has GMOs in it.

(3) Nearly 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs. These need to have one or both of the labels mentioned earlier. Besides causing liver damage, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn syrup sweeteners come from GMO corn. Another toxic sweetener, aspartame, is also a GMO.

(4) Realize that the term “natural” on a food product is meaningless for determining an organic or non-GMO food product. It’s simply deceptive marketing.

(5) Non – organic milk and milk products are usually from cows fed GMO corn or soy. Even worse, one-third of commercial milking cows are injected with patented Monsanto GMO growth hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

If dairy is not labeled organic or grass fed, at least look for a labels that says no hormones or rBGH. Traces of pus or blood from rBGH cows’ udder infections is not nutritious. Meat eaters should avoid factory farm meats that are fed GMOs and injected with antibiotics. Look for organic grass fed.

(6) Avoid packaged cereals unless the logos from section (1) are present. If you have children, train them patiently to not demand those cereals in brightly colored boxes. Most are full of GMOs, even if they say “natural” or appear in health food stores.

Here’s a handy free shopping guide to help you maneuver food aisles without buying GMOs (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html).’

I got in an interesting debate with a couple of people over an article about whether our food should be GMO labeled. The first guy said started by saying that labeling would raise food prices. I can’t find the article, so I can only tell you the general outline of our conversation. A lady jumped in and said there was nothing wrong with processed foods and she said something about it being the food she trusted to feed her family. I almost vomited then, but I tried to explain what ‘real food’ was and that it was not the twinkies, chips or anything else that has all the nutrients processed out of it like the fast meals that only have to be stuck in the microwave. Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean you should eat it.

I don’t think I ever got my point across. The guy kept saying stuff like everything was technically a GMO. He called the process of cross-pollination and selective breeding the same as genetically modifying in a lab. He had several classes in bioengineering to thank for this. The lady at some point said that GMOs were needed to feed  the world. I told her that we didn’t need them and even if we did, they are not the answer. I didn’t have the health evidence that I do now, I couldn’t find anything more than probable health complications, and I’m not sure what exactly I told her, but it was more or less my gut instinct. They can’t be good because of how unnatural they are. Her response was that if I didn’t recommend GMOs then what was my solution to world hunger? It was a good question. If someone is going to complain about the answer someone else came up with then they better have a different answer. My answer is less convenient, but it’s still an option. I typed up my response on a word document because I couldn’t do it all at once, so I needed to save it and that’s why I still have it. Here is what I said:

Well first I’ll say that it’s not a snap your finger and it’s done answer. There are many things that have to change if we are to have a sustainable way of feeding people. GMOs are a short term answer for a long term problem. Because there are many things that have to change in our food system, I don’t have all the answers and they won’t be as in depth as they need to be because I’d need a novel in order to cover it all. Second, my answers aren’t something I can do by myself. It can only work if people are willing to work together. Third, it is my personal belief that the Earth doesn’t belong to us. Us as in people, as in people currently living on the planet and us as in humans in general. We’re sharing it with animals, insects, plants, everything else (which no matter how much we modify food we can’t live without. Our success depends on theirs so we should try harder to keep them around) and we’re borrowing it from the generations that are coming after us. People think that they can live whatever kind of life they want and never have any consequences and that just isn’t the case. Nature is not the problem. Humans are the problem. That being said there are a couple of major problems. Overpopulation is a problem. At some point it will be impossible to feed everyone. If we don’t run out of food then we’ll run out of clean water and air. We need to realize that and the sooner the better. Another problem is the meat industry. Cows were meant to eat grass and only grass despite what those big corporations tell you about their healthy diet of corn, soy and whatever else. Over 70 percent of the corn we use today is fed to cows. The other 30 percent is fed to humans, pigs and poultry. If we went back to feeding cows grass then it would free up the space of the corn that we’re feeding them and also the space of feedlot. Not only that, but we wouldn’t be polluting the water with our huge amounts of cow crap. Cow dung is actually supposed to help fertilize soil. The way our system is set up with cows here and crops over here and more specifically that most farmers grow corn and only corn is that the soil isn’t being fertilized properly. Chemical fertilizers aren’t fixing that and can’t fix it. If there are no nutrients in the soil then we can’t grow anything. GMOs won’t fix this.

They aren’t just growing extra corn to feed corn, but they’re putting it in gas. Is that something people should do if the world was starving?

We are actually overproducing food. The world produces enough grain to feed every person at least 3,500 calories a day. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/denlinger/problems.html  Some say more than 40 percent of food produced in America isn’t eaten, which makes that about 29 million tons of food waste and that they say can fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Food scraps make up 17 percent of our waste in landfills. It seems to me that if we really cared about those hungry people we would at least stop taking more than our fair share and throwing it away.

http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/wasted_food

Once I read an article that said a quarter of the food sent to Africa was wasted because it went bad before it even got there. The problem isn’t growing the stuff; it’s getting it to its destination.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html?pagewanted=all

That’s my first suggestion. Stop wasting. My next would be to start growing our own food. Everyone can grow something even if it’s having a cherry tomato plant or a blueberry bush, every little bit helps keep pressure off the food system, which means they don’t have to take such drastic measures to feed everyone. Also supporting local farmers help. This doesn’t help people in Africa where it’s dry and nearly impossible to grow things, but what we don’t use can be sent to help them.

http://www.naturalnews.com/025699_food_garden_life.html

I have read several articles that claim and have proof of the idea that medium sized organic and non-organic farms are the answer. They can produce more than the giant corporations who are responsible for the all the processed foods.

http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=8764

As far as what real food is, as simply as I can put it is fruits and vegetables. That’s my definition, but here’s a better one. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pollan+happy+meals

Because I’m no expert and I wrote this late, late last night so I’m sure it’s poorly written at best I’m going to suggest a couple of things. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve heard really good things about it. It should show just what these corporations that you’re trusting to feed your children will do in order to take your next dollar. There is a movie, but it’s horrible and does nothing to explain anything so don’t watch it. Folks, this ain’t normal by Joel Salatin. This book does a good job explaining what is wrong with the current food system. Food, Inc. is a movie. If nothing else watch this movie. It will change the whole way that you see food and it’s only a couple of hours as opposed to a whole book.

The lady had nothing to say after this. That left me with only one person to worry about, but interestingly enough just happened to work in the meat industry. He, of course, said what I said about the meat industry wasn’t true. Some of those people who work in the meat industry think they’re saints. Trying to argue with that wouldn’t have done any good, so I moved onto his next point, which was if the food were rotting before they got to the recipients, what could be better than growing the food where the recipients are? It’s a good point, but if GMOs are going to kill them anyway then what’s the point of that? Also, road infrastructure isn’t like it is here where we have roads to take you where you want to go. Harvesting and transporting would still be a problem. I’m sure we could still be discussing the subject now, but I said that we may have to agree to disagree and gave my last response. I don’t let things go, so as long as someone says something then I’ll say something back. Luckily, this guy was the bigger person and he let us go.

Magical Bikes

In case you’re not interested in the whole taking a week just to mod podge a crappy ol’ bike, but you still want to make the world a cleaner place and save some cash then I may know of something that will interest you.

A magic bike. A bike that not only doesn’t give off emissions, but actually removes them the air. A bike that you could throw away, guilt free and without taking up any space in the landfill. A bike made from…bamboo. That’s right. Bamboo.

http://www.5bbc.org/events/events2011.shtml

The organic bamboo is grown Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. All the other materials used are recycled and to bind the everything together Marty Odlin, founder of The Bamboo Bike Studio in New York City, hardens the fibers with flame treatment, glues the tubes together, and binds each joint, wrapping them in epoxy-soaked hemp that hardens.

Bamboo, which grow a meter a day in the better scenarios (something I’m pretty sure aluminum and steel don’t do), is known for its strength and flexibility and is said to be as strong as light steel. The bamboo absorbs the vibrations of the road and grows up to a meter a day.

The only catch is that one of the reasons to ride a bike that I talked about does not apply here. And that reason is that you don’t have get a loan to get a bike, but this bike cost $10,000. Or you could build your own for $699. I do have to appreciate the magical carbon absorbing aspect, but I think I may have to be satisfied with meager $80 reloved bicycle.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/655642–riding-a-bike-made-of-grass

If spending $10,000 for something that doesn’t even have air conditioning (although I must say sometimes, depending on how hot it is, the wind can make a lovely air conditioner) then maybe the cardboard bike may be more up your alley. Yes, a cardboard bike.

http://www.thefootdown.co.uk/2012/08/10/izhar-cardboard-bike-project-video/

And it has its own kind of magic. Three engineers told the creator Izhar Gafni that something like this couldn’t be done. And they definitely didn’t think it could carry around a 485 pound person. And the best thing is that it’s only $90.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/08/recycled-cycling-the-cardboard-bike/

Luffa Sponges DIY

Luffa pads/ Loopha sponges/whatever you call them can be found in just about every corner of the great Interweb, most of them fairly cheap. But I’m here to tell you that you can grow them yourself, for almost free. It’s pretty amazing actually.

There are a couple of things you should know about growing luffas. One, patience, which is needed for growing most things, is a must. It takes a while for the seeds to germinated, for the things to grow, but once they do they really, really do.

Two, it’s a vine. It needs a trellis.

Three, I’m no luffa growing expert, so I’ll leave the rest to someone else.

I do fancy myself somewhat of an expert in luffa harvesting and I have the amazingly soft hands to prove it.

You can tell when they’re ready to be picked because they have a yellowish color instead of green and the skin feels loose and soft. It took us a good few months before we got to this point and when we did they were pretty large.

Almost ready luffas.

Once your darlings are ready to be picked, carefully twist or cut it off the vine.

The next steps will only get messier. Seeds and sap will be flying, so do this outside or in the kitchen.

Step 1- take your luffa and bang it on the edge of the table. This will knock some of the seeds loose.

Step 2- at the opposite end from the vine there is a weak spot in the skin, dig your thumb into and pull that piece of skin off. This will make it easier to get the rest of the skin off. It’s very sappy.

Step 3- cut the luffa into sections. Depending on how long it is, you may be able to get two or three sections from it.

Step 4- Next you’ll shake the seeds from the luffa. You’ll probably want to do this into a bowl. This part is a bit time consuming at least. Again, banging it against something helps make the seeds come out.

Step 5- Take your seedless luffas and soak them in water for a couple of hours.

Next, take each luffa put a spot of soap on it and hand scrub the rest of the sap off. When you can squeeze the water from the luffa against the sink without any soapy type residue that usually means you got the sap off.

Once you’ve got that done, let the luffas dry out for a couple of days.

And that’s it. You got yourself some new luffas and some amazingly soft hands.

If you want some seeds, check out my mom’s etsy page.

And if you don’t want to do all the work but still want luffa sponges then you may check her page out because have the sponges for sale as well.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

Getting Connected 5: Herbivores and Carnivores

Maintaining plant diversity is essential in order to maintain animal diversity and maintaining the plant diversity is the sole responsibility of herbivores.

Herbivory, like other types of disturbance, can help maintain species diversity in communities by removing plant species that compete intensively for resources, which allows other competitively inferior species to coexist.

Herbivores are important as they are the first link in connecting the energy locked within plants to the vast number of animals within ecosystems. Herbivory is important in determining the population abundance and dynamics of individual plant species as herbivores often eat or kill whole plants or affect how much a plant can reproduce. Additionally, herbivores often regulate the species composition of plant communities, the total amount of plant biomass in the ecosystems, and the magnitude of ecosystem functional processes such as primary production, decomposition, and transfer of energy and materials up the food chain.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/january17/pringle-011707.html

Herbivores, both large and small, help disperse seeds and help fertilize the soil. Ironically, synthetic fertilizers are actually doing more harm than good; they’re a short term solution for a long term problem. It’s kind of like skipping breakfast and then when you realize what a mistake that was and decide to grab a candy bar on your way to work. It satisfies your hunger for a microsecond and you crash. Cow manure and other herbivores, especially large herbivores put nutrients back in the soil. Synthetic fertilizers put some nutrients in the soil, but because it’s composed of basically structured like salt it just soaks up the water. Also, the nutrients in this soil are water soluble, which means that you have to water. The more you water the more minerals are washed away. Microorganisms help decompose organic material (manure or compost) and that is how the soil gets its nutrients. If there is no decomposing material (manure or compost), there is no microorganisms then there is no nutrients. The cycle of needing to provide another nitrogen fix escalates as the soil fertility decreases. Certain lawn diseases worsen in the presence of excess nitrogen. Weeds may start to dominate the lawn, when the grass is thin to start with and the weeds are many. The list of problems that artificial fertilizers create goes on and on.

Carnivores also play extremely important roles. Without them the herbivores would strip the Earth bare of all food sources. The ecosystem would never be balanced without them. Populations of carnivores are often kept in check by other carnivores.

And then there is a controversy about hunting and whether it harms or benefits the ecosystem.

On the one side you have people saying there couldn’t be anything more natural and that it helps keep the ecosystem in check.

And on the other you have others saying that it’s morally wrong and creates an unbalance in the ecosystem.

I remember hearing a while back about the controversy of the damage wolves were doing in national parks in the north.

If I remember correctly, and I’m not totally sure I do but I’ll do the best I can, the problem was that there were too many wolves and they were eating too many deer and cattle and I’m pretty sure that some animal rights activists were involved trying to save poor Bambi.

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that I love animals. I will also say that I hate death. I understand its necessary and it keeps me from being one of those crazy people who try to disrupt the ecosystem to save Bambi.  More than death, I hate suffering and that usually goes along with death, which makes death harder for me to handle period. But natural death is necessary. It provides nutrients and room for others to live. Even sickness and disease has its place because it weeds out the weak, tells us when there is a problem and is usually a symptom of overcrowding.

Natural death, which I define as how animals in the wild die when they are hunted by another animal or just death from old age, is the only kind of death that I will ever justify.  If people are going to eat meat no matter what then I guess hunting would be the best way, but people hunting is only natural if the humans are on even grounds. That means hunting like a caveman with only a bow and arrow, a spear made from trees in the forest or just your bare hands. Using a gun doesn’t make you natural just a coward. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you shouldn’t eat something if you can’t kill it and I can’t kill.

Gathering a bunch of cows in a pasture and locking them up doesn’t instill a great sense of courage to me either. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about whether vegetarianism is the right way to go. The books say that the animals that today are domesticated chose to become tamed because they understood that when they had a relationship with humans their race would always be protected. Let’s face it, cows, cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, whatever else you can find at a pet store won’t be going extinct anytime soon. A mutual relationship they call it. They say the cow knew what it was giving up when it signed up. It’s been said that cows and chickens have become so domesticated that they couldn’t live without humans. How this happened, I don’t know, but I sure feel sorry for them. But if the whole agreeing to be domesticated idea is something you can believe, which I do, but still I couldn’t kill a cow myself, then I guess it may seem like wolves are the bad guys. But maybe for a second we could look at the people who hunt the deer. Could it be that maybe, just maybe they’re the problem? If people aren’t leaving enough deer for the wolves then what are the wolves supposed to eat? It’s just the thought. I don’t have enough information about the numbers to see if this is a possibility. I do know that after people killed enough wolves that the deer population started to destroy the vegetation. And because it suited us we allowed the wolves to do what wolves do and help curb back the deer population. Could it simply be that we don’t know what the heck we’re doing and we need to let nature do what nature does and stop trying to control it. Could it be that we’re supposed to live with nature and not try to be above it? Could it be that one predator without the other or one prey without the other just doesn’t work? I don’t know. Just some thoughts.

Getting Connected 4: Reptiles and Amphibians

As we make our way up the food chain, I hope we’re discovering just how important everything is. There are many groups that play the same role, but that doesn’t mean they’re not any less important that animals that have their own unique functions. Diversity is the key to ecosystem working.

Amphibians include salamanders, frogs, and toads. In phase of its life, frogs play a different role in the ecosystem. As tadpoles they tend to rely on plants. As they grow they lean towards small insects and as in adulthood they may even take on small rodents.

Reptiles include snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodilians. Unlike amphibians, reptiles have scaly, impermeable skin that does not need to stay moist. All reptiles use lungs to breathe.

Reptilian diet varies widely between groups and species and can include small vertebrates (such as birds, mice, and frogs), invertebrates (insects and crustaceans), and plants.

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/forestry/resources/publications/documents/ag744.pdf

As consumers of insects, rodents, and other pest species, herps (all reptiles and amphibians)  also provide a

significant benefit to agriculture and recreational activities. When abundant, amphibians can consume substantial quantities of favored prey organisms, perhaps serving to limit prey populations. For example, salamanders appear to play important roles in organizing many terrestrial and aquatic communities. The larvae of mole salamanders are top predators in vernal pond communities and influence the abundance and diversity of aquatic invertebrates and other amphibians therein. By serving as prey, herps provide food for small mammals, birds, and other herps. This website also has a small list of reptiles and amphibians and what they eat. At every point in their life they are responsible for maintaining the population of something and its everything from small insects to mice. Even though it’s not really a topic for this series of post, this website has some very good information on just how much we’re damaging their homes and their species.

http://directives.nrcs.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=18528.wba

In Wetlands, along with their other roles, amphibians and some reptiles are help in many ways. They help process dead organic matter and thereby making available detrital food chains. They modify the habitat to make it more homely for a more diverse and abundant population of fauna.

Because the smaller animals are so in tune with their environment, the existence or non-existence of these animals will tell us if our water is healthy.

http://el.erdc.usace.army.mil/elpubs/pdf/si22.pdf

These are just a few examples of how our environment would be affected without them.

Getting Connected 3: Birds and Spiders

As I said last time, I’m pretty much terrified of spiders. I knew that they were important in keeping the bug population down, but it wasn’t until my mom got her garden that it hit me. They really are important.

Squash beetles and cucumber beetles are destroying squash and cucumber plants in my mom’s beloved garden. I’d like to point out that my mom hasn’t used any pesticides since she got her garden. She uses other plants and nature’s method aka the natural ecosystem to keep pests in check. She got several vegetables from those plants before they died, but they still died before their time so it’s still irritating and she would appreciate it if it would stop happening.  Spiders she has noticed, she’s slightly unnerved by them too, seem to play a role in keeping plant life suckers at bay.

Because they use a web to catch their prey, spiders aren’t too choosy about what they eat, so they end up getting some of the good guys too.

Surprisingly I couldn’t find that much information about their role in the ecosystem that was a huge book or dissertation of some sort.  Or wikipedia, which certainly isn’t a source to be relied on. So with that being the case I’ll add birds to this post.

Birds are great and I totally love the hummingbird feeder that I made. We watch the hummingbirds while we eat and we have the most enjoyable time. If birds serve no other ecological purpose then I think they should get a fair amount of credit for bring delight into the world. How much worse off would humanity be if we didn’t have these amazing creatures to keep some people’s soul so harmonious? How much lonelier would we feel?

In any case luckily I don’t have to listen people’s opinions on how illogical that is because they do, in fact, have practical purposes.

Like most smaller creatures, birds are sensitive to their environment and therefore, help us to know when there is a problem. They help pollinate, control insect and rodent populations the natural way. Birds eat up to 98% of budworms and up to 40% of all non-outbreak insect species in eastern forests. These services have been valued at as much as $5000/year/square mile of forest (Robinson, 1997). Research in agricultural settings confirms what many farmers already know-birds help control agricultural pests. In orchards, birds seek out and destroy up to 98% of over-wintering codling moth larvae, a major pest of apples worldwide.

http://www.epa.gov/owow/birds/basics.html

On farms, birds are especially important. Cow manure contains seven essential enzymes necessary for bird digestion. On a real farm, a natural farm (the only natural thing we can do nowadays because we bred chickens and cows so much they became dependent on humans and most would die without us) the relationship between birds and herbivores, in this case chickens and cows, is essential because birds eat bugs. Bugs and parasites that come to eat the manure, are already in the manure and that bother the cows themselves.

Birds feed on other birds as is usually the case with predators. Reptiles, large cats if in the wild and small cats in community type settings.

Getting Connected 3: Insects

I have a confession.

I’m afraid of bugs.

And I’m terrified of spiders. This gathered more information than I thought it would, so spiders will be next time. Yay…

To be clear of the bugs, I’m really only afraid of them when they’re in large numbers, like five is the most I can handle, when I can imagine them in large numbers, when they’re big, what kind of bug it is will determine how big it has to be before it freaks me out, and if I know they can attack me like a grasshopper. Grasshoppers are a pretty neutral insect, but I definitely don’t want it on me.

I’m getting better about the spiders. I used just completely panic until I couldn’t even breathe, but then one time no one was home to save me and I had to face my fear.  More than anything I just have this feeling that they’re going to just jump up and attack me. I just don’t want them on me.

Just so you don’t think that I’m just a big ‘fraidy cat about everything, I’m going to tell you that I actually like snakes, frogs, lizards, you name it and I’m probably OK with it. There are some sea creatures that I’m a little apprehensive about running into, but that is most because of their sheer size. I’m pretty easily intimidated and just the thought of how puny I would be just makes me feel a bit overwhelmed.

Some people are just afraid of what they don’t know. Once they have a run in with their said phobia then they go on their merry way without a second thought. Sometimes all it takes is a little research and realize that a whale probably wouldn’t eat you or this or that snake isn’t poisonous makes people feel better. This does not apply to me.

Until I researched bees a few months back, I never really knew how important they were. Most bugs have a similar role in pollinating plants. I’ve always disliked ants (number factor) but I’ve found that even they have a purpose.

Insects, mostly, are very important in the ecosystem.  And here’s why:

Insects aerate the soil, pollinate blossoms, and control other insect and plant pests; they also decompose dead materials, thereby reintroducing nutrients into the soil. Burrowing bugs such as ants and beetles dig tunnels that provide channels for water, benefiting plants (Ants also keep termite and flea populations down.) Bees play a major role in pollinating fruit trees and flower blossoms. Praying mantis because they control the size of certain insect populations, such as aphids and caterpillars, which feed on new plant growth. Finally, all insects fertilize the soil with the nutrients from their droppings.

If all the insects disappeared, life wouldn’t last more than a few months. Without bees we wouldn’t last longer than four years.

Many insects are herbivores, or plant-eaters, which makes them primary consumers. This abundance of primary consumers provides protein and energy for secondary consumers, known as carnivores. There are many secondary consumers, such as spiders, snakes, and toads that could not survive without feeding on insects. Tertiary consumers eat other carnivores; for example, bears and chimpanzees eat insects as well as other animals.

http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2002/03/030402t_insects.jhtml

Even termites and cockroaches will have their fifteen minutes of fame in this article. Granted, most people hate them, but that’s because we’ve plopped our fancy, dead wood filled houses right in the middle of their habitat. Termites enrich the soil by breaking down dead trees. Roaches help break down pretty much everything dead. Without them the rainforests would be smothered in decay.

And I think maybe my favorite ‘evil’ insect may now be the mosquito. As we know, mosquitos like damp areas like the tropics. Their bites which cause yellow fever and malaria, among other diseases, keep people away from these areas. People could never enter these places without getting sick. Without mosquitos it’s probably safe to say that the rainforests would have disappeared long ago. Also know that only female mosquitos bite. Males help pollinate. Some species only bite other animals and not humans at all.

Then there are the garden helpers. They keep harmful insects at bay and they’re especially important if you have a garden. These insects include ladybugs, can eat up to 50 aphids a day; praying mantis, assassin bugs (wouldn’t want to cross this fellow) eats flies, mosquitos and beetles; tiny braconid wasps lay eggs on tomato hornworms, eventually killing them as the larvae mature;  tachinid fly and the trichogramma wasp kill cabbage loppers and squash beetles. Cool, right?

http://curiosity.discovery.com/topic/everyday-science/10-most-important-insects10.htm

Not all insects are beneficial to us, but I think those insects let us know where are limits are. I don’t believe that humans were meant to scrounge around the earth looking to chop down whatever doesn’t suit us. We were meant to live in harmony with the Earth and if it takes a mosquito to put us in our place then so be it. If there is one thing this post was supposed to accomplish, it’s that we shouldn’t use pesticides. Let nature run its course. It knows what is best and sometimes that means that we can’t always have what we want, but we definitely won’t starve because we killed off the ones that we need to survive like the pollinators.