Farming and Health—There is Much More To Learn

Several months ago we realized that we need to learn more about farming and health. Yes, pasture raised meats are important, and organic is important, but they are only two pieces of the pie, not the whole pie or the whole picture. We asked God again to teach us how to farm and from then to now has been an intense learning time. I feel like I am being catapulted along faster than my little brain can absorb everything.

One of the things we learned was at a seminar in Lancaster Pa. where Dr. Arden Anderson was one of the speakers. Dr. Anderson is a medical doctor as well as an agronomist — an unusual combination of training but one which all doctors should have. One of the things that he said was that insects are the garbage crew. If insects are eating a plant or fruit or vegetable, it means it is garbage and is not nutritious enough to eat. He has found that by increasing the mineral and nutrient content of the plant, fruit, or vegetable, insects will leave it alone. Their digestive system cannot handle the increased nutrients in the plants. They get diarrhea and die. Modern science and farming has taken a different approach. They kill the garbage crew (insects) and feed us the "garbage"! The majority of the food we eat today is "garbage".

After we were home again a Bible verse came to our minds "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles" (Psalms 103:5) How does an eagle renew its youth? How can we become young again? The answer is fascinating. An eagle can live to be as much as 50 years old. Periodically, after a certain number of years, an eagle will go somewhere by itself. It will shed all of its old feathers and grow new feathers. Its claws will grow until new claws have appeared. When the eagle returns to its natural habitat it looks like a young eagle even though it is many years old.

We too, just like the eagle, are continually shedding old cells and new cells are taking their place. Regardless of how old you are, you are not more than about 16 years old!! You will be 16 until the day you die! About the only cells that are with us from birth are our brain cells and perhaps our nerve cells.

  • Gut lining cells are about 5 days old.

  • Skin cells are 14 days old

  • Red blood cells are 120 old or less

  • The entire human skeleton is replaced every 10 years or so.

  • The cells in the liver have a turnover time of 300 to 500 days.

  • Muscle cells are about 15 years old.

  • Gut cells other than the lining are about 16 years old.

Suddenly I realized how people before the flood could have lived to be 900+ years old. The fountain of youth is within us and our youth is continually being renewed. At least that is how the body was originally designed to work. There is a prophecy in Isaiah that when the Messiah comes for the 1000 year reign, people will again live very long lives. "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)

So why are we not living longer now? Part of the answer is found in Psalms 103:5 where it explains how our youth is renewed. It states that our mouth is filled with good things and then our youth is renewed like the eagles. The problem is that we have been eating garbage (food) that is grown in mineral and nutrient depleted soils. This is not a new problem. Farmers and rain have been depleting the soils since the flood. The soil is not nearly as rich, healthy, and productive as it has the potential of being. Our cells are built from the garbage. When our new cells replace the old cells, the new ones are made from mineral and nutrient deficient food, just like the ones they replaced. The new cells don’t have the energy to be youthful. However, if we fill our mouths with good things and eat nutrient dense foods, then our new cells will be stronger and more healthy than our old cells – the renewing of our youth.

Understanding that the cells in our body are renewed on a regular basis sheds some light on our health. One is that it is possible to change the makeup of our bodies over time by changing what we eat. We are not necessarily doomed because of where our body is now health wise. Another is that our body is what it is because of what we have eaten over the last 16 years and what we eat now will affect the quality of some of our cells for the next 16 years. We like instant results in health, but in reality, some of the health renewal will take years of eating right until all the cells are rebuilt with healthy components. This concept of our youth being renewed like the eagles has shed a whole new light on the importance of us producing nutrient dense nutritional food. Again, let me emphasize that this is not the full picture of what constitutes health, it is only one piece of the full picture.

The Importance of Organic – Rebuilding the Soil and Cleaning the Environment

Several weeks ago, our family visited the Rodale Institute Research Farm for their Field Day. Rodale Institute publishes Organic Gardening magazine and many organic gardening and farming books. That Field Day began a learning process for that has continued for the last two weeks. We are excited about what we have been learning about how to build up the health of the soil and how that specifically relates to human health.

The Rodale Institute Research Farm for the last 27 years has been conducting research comparing conventionally raised corn and soybeans with organically raised corn and soybeans in two different plots. The organic plot produced similar or greater yields than the conventionally raised plot in a good rain fall year. In a drought year the organic plot produced 30 – 80% higher yields than the conventional plot. The higher yields were due to the higher carbon in the soil and the greater water holding capacity in the organic plot. They have found that the organic plot puts about 1000 lbs. of carbon into the soil per acre per year. Each pound of carbon in the soil has the potential of increasing the water holding capacity by 40 lbs. of water! If the US would convert all of its conventional chemical farmland to regenerative organic production, it would remove a huge amount of carbon dioxide from the air and place it in the soil where it would hold moisture and build the health of the soil, the health of the plants grown in the soil, and the health of every living being. When the Creator designed the earth, it was designed so that the environment could heal itself, just like our body heals itself after a cut, broken bone, or sickness. Our planet is not doomed to self destruction as some would lead us to believe. However, we do need to change some things so that the health of the environment can improve. We hold in our hands the potential through regenerative, sustainable, organic farming to be able to increase overall food production, and to bring health to the soil, the air, the water, and every living creature.

What we learned that Friday at the Rodale Institute Field Day was very important. However, as we left that day, there was a comment that was made that I realized that what they had discovered was only one piece of the whole "pie". They did not have the whole answer yet. Organic is an important piece of the "pie", but to have true health and nutrient dense foods there is more to the equation. We need to be organic plus pasture raised plus (?). I called out to God and asked Him to show us the rest of the pieces of the "pie". It was amazing how fast the next step in our learning process came.

    On Monday we received an announcement for another field day that Wednesday at an Amish farm in Lancaster, PA. Reuben Stoltzfus, the owner of the farm, also has a business called Lancaster Ag Products. Lancaster Ag has been achieving amazing results in helping farmers build up the soil and producing nutrient dense products. One farm they helped was able to grow organic peaches this year that were so healthy that the bugs left the peaches alone. By increasing the nutrient density of pasture, they have found that cows only need to eat half as much of the grass and will produce more milk. For the field day, Reuben Stoltzfus brought in a number of leading researchers and experts in soil and animal health. What we learned that day was an incredible learning experience and was another piece of the "pie".

    In the Lancaster Ag catalog, Reuben acknowledges the source of his information. "We are blessed by our Father, who cares for us and loves us wherever we are. He is blessing us with so much knowledge about where we are with the soils and the environment. If we only just take a moment to stop and think about what we are doing and listen to Him, He will help us find the answers. If we don’t listen when the Father wants to give us the answers, he will get our attention somehow. From a health perspective we may face a health problem or maybe God will show us through a loved one or a friend. For me, 5 years ago, I was faced with some health conditions that needed immediate attention. That same year my father also faced some deadly health problems, which gave us all the determination to find answers to the reasons for these conditions. Through the research and studies, many doctors, friends and researchers were able to come up with some methods to look at to improve life in general."

     I am not sure how many more pieces of "pie" there are. What I do know is that there is more to be learned. The universities have not discovered it all, nor do they in many cases have the real answers for farming or the environment. I feel like I am being catapulted along faster than my little brain can absorb everything. Farming is much more interesting and rewarding than when I was helping build mansions for people who didn’t need them. We will be sharing more of what we are learning in the coming months.

The Importance of Organic – Less Chance of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Last month the Poultry Site web site had an article about research by a team of Johns Hopkins researchers on antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in chicken purchased in Baltimore, MD supermarkets. They purchased chickens in the supermarkets from five different poultry companies for 20 weeks in 2004 and for 15 weeks in 2006. In both 2004 and 2006 they found that Campylobacter strains of bacteria from conventionally produced chicken were more likely to be resistant to the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics than antibiotic-free chicken. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are used by doctors to treat food poisoning caused by Campylobacter. Poultry producers had been using fluoroquinolones to treat respiratory disease in their chickens but claimed that they had stopped using it in 2002 three years before it was banned by the FDA in 2005. Despite the fluoroquinolone no longer being used to treat the chickens, the proportion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on the conventionally produced chicken showed no significant change between 2004 and 2006 indicating that the amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was not decreasing in chicken from these producers.

One sentence in the report was particularly eye opening. It said that the authors were not able to verify that the producers had voluntarily stopped using the fluoroquinolone antibiotics in 2002, because poultry producers are not required to report their use of drugs in food animals to regulatory agencies!!! Who knows what drugs the big poultry producers are using? It is a secret that only they know. This is another reason why organically raised chickens, turkeys, and eggs are a better choice than conventionally produced poultry and eggs. To read more … www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/12297/drugresistant-campylobacter-persists-in-poultry

Chemical and Pesticide Corn – Affecting our Children’s Intelligence

In May 2007, a report was released showing a correlation between corn fertilizer and pesticide application and lasting impacts on children’s intelligence. The study was conducted in Indiana, a major corn producing state. The months of June through August have the highest levels of fertilizer and herbicide runoff from corn fields into surface water. Indiana children conceived June through August have the lowest scores on math and language tests, according to a study by University of Indiana Medical researchers. High nitrate and atrazine levels are suspected of affecting the normal production of thyroid hormones.

The study was based on looking at test scores of more than 1.6 million Indiana students in grades 3 through 10. The result was consistent across races and genders. Children conceived when fertilizer and pesticide application was the highest turned in the lowest scores in math and language tests!

The researchers also looked at data from 27 million births from 1996 to 2002 and found that premature births were highest for the year in June conception and birth defects peaked for conceptions during the months of the highest corn chemical applications! To read more follow this link: http://www.newfarm.org/columns/research_paul/2007/0607/testscores.shtml or do a Google search.

This is sobering information. Corn is likely to have an impact on even more little children this year. Because of the high demand for corn created by ethanol fuel production, 14.5 million more acres of corn were planted this year in the US than the number of acres in corn last year. Ethanol fuel from corn is looking more and more like a very poor solution to our oil and fuel needs.

There is one more question that needs to be asked. If the small minute amount of chemical that runs off in a rain storm, and gets further diluted in a large amount of water in a river or underground stream, affects an unborn child because its mother drank the water, what about effects of eating the corn itself? There is a large concentration of chemicals that are sprayed directly on the plant and chemicals that are absorbed by the roots that becomes part of the corn itself. Logically thinking, it would seem that there is an even greater potential for the pesticides and other chemicals to affect everyone’s intelligence regardless of what month they were conceived because we directly eat the corn, drink soda made from corn syrup, eat beef or chicken raised on chemical corn, or consume any of the many other products made from corn.

Is organic really worth the extra money? Yes, it is! Do you really want to eat or drink something that has conventional chemical and pesticide corn in it, or chicken or beef that chemical and pesticide corn was fed to? It is not just an issue about ourselves and our own families, but when we consume products made with chemical corn, we are supporting a farm where the chemical runoff from the field the corn was raised in is affecting other innocent little children for the rest of their lives.

Our Food – a National Security Emergency

There is a national emergency occurring. We are quickly losing our ability to produce food here in the U.S. because more and more farmers cannot make a profit from their farms, and good farmland is steadily being destroyed with housing developments. Our population is rapidly increasing and food production is rapidly decreasing. Using U.S. government population statistics, approximately 1/6th of the U.S. population in 2005 had immigrated into the U.S. in the last 15 years. (this does not include illegal immigrants.) It is a greater population increase than the baby boom years! We can have the best military, and all the fuel we need, but if we have a world war and can’t import food, we will be in trouble. In West Virginia, about half of the apple orchards have closed in recent years because of cheap imported apples. Recently Paul Harvey reported that in one peach producing state the farmers could not compete with imported peaches so the state was paying the peach orchards to cut down their trees!

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website quoting a 2002 census of agriculture, only 10 percent of Maryland’s farm families relied on farming for 100 percent of their income. The rest had some form of off-farm income to support their household and farm.

One magazine we subscribe to, Stockman Grass Farmer, revealed how inexpensive it is to ship products around the world. They had a pallet of books printed in India. The pallet was placed in a container and put on a ship and shipped to New Orleans. It was then put on a truck and traveled 150 miles in the U.S. to their office. The cost to ship the books 150 miles in the U.S. cost 1 ½ times more than it cost to ship them from India to New Orleans! The cheap container shipping gives every farmer in the world a superior advantage to the American farmer because of their lower shipping, land, labor and living costs. It is cheaper to ship frozen beef or any other farm commodity around the world, than it is to ship it from the Midwest to the East coast in the U.S. Recently one man told me it cost them $3000 to get a tractor trailer load of organic field peas shipped to Virginia from South Dakota! We have also received several emails from China trying to sell us "certified organic" soybean meal for our chicken feed. Cheaper "organic" soybeans imported from China have been driving down U.S. organic soybean prices in the last year. You may be thinking that by buying organic products at the health food store you are getting U.S. products, but in reality an increasing amount of our "organic" food is coming from grains imported from China and other countries.

You might think that if we have a shortage of imported food, individuals can just plant gardens in their yards and make up the shortage. However, gardening and farming have a huge learning curve. A person doesn’t just put seeds in the ground and have a bumper crop. There are a lot of things that have to be learned in controlling bugs, disease, and other challenges. Being totally self sustaining food-wise is much more difficult than what you might think. Our family is an example that being totally self sustaining is difficult. We raise almost all our own milk, eggs, and meats. We also have a large garden. I was totally shocked when Cathy told me how much we spent at the grocery store in 2005! We are not even close to being self sustaining, even though we produce all that food.

Here in America, most people have lost contact with where their food really comes from and could care less about the success of U.S. farms and farmers. We have become so used to getting whatever food we want, when we want it at the grocery store, regardless of what time of year it is. There is always an endless supply of food in the grocery stores. By purchasing groceries in small quantities several times a week, most people don’t really realize how much food they are actually consuming each year.

Our national security is only as strong as our weakest link. Our domestic food supply is one link of national security that is becoming weaker with each passing year.