Fukushima Update

The media has largely gone silent on the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. However, the problem has not been fixed and is a much bigger disaster than what was reported. I have been following the http://www.fairewinds.com website. Arnie Gundersen, a retired nuclear executive, traveled to Tokyo and took random soil samples around the city and sent them to a lab. The soil samples are so contaminated with radioactive material that here in the US they are considered nuclear waste. Tokyo is 200 miles from the Fukushima disaster. Japan has a much higher level of nuclear contamination than what has been reported. It makes one wonder about all the radioactive water that was dumped into the ocean and the safety of eating fish caught in the Pacific and near Alaska.

Last month Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon visited the Fukushima power plant and was shocked by what he saw. The structures that are still standing are very fragile, in particular reactor #4. He is very concerned that another earthquake could cause a major nuclear disaster even greater than what has already happened. He states on his website: “The scope of damage to the plants and to the surrounding area was far beyond what I expected and the scope of the challenges to the utility owner, the government of Japan, and to the people of the region are daunting. The precarious status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear units and the risk presented by the enormous inventory of radioactive materials and spent fuel in the event of further earthquake threats should be of concern to all and a focus of greater international support and assistance.”

Poultry Industry Caught in "Perfect Storm"

There was an article in the October 29 edition of the Lancaster Farming Newspaper about how the conventional poultry industry is caught in a "perfect storm" of economic conditions which are largely outside of their control. Poultry companies are losing millions of dollars each quarter. There are a number of factors. One is the high cost of feed. Conventional corn went from $3.25 a bushel a year ago to $7.50. There is the dropping value of the U.S. dollar which affects exports. There are also high energy costs and the wholesale price of chicken is down because of reduced demand for chicken in the U.S.

It was stated that there has been nothing like this in the history of the chicken industry. According to the article, a major driver in the high feed costs is the production of ethanol. Ethanol production diverts half of the U.S corn crop into into fuel production and yet only offsets less than 1 percent of our petroleum imports. One thing that caught my eye was the prediction that corn will go up to $11 or $12 dollars a bushel next year. If it does, it will have a major impact on poultry, beef and pork production in the U.S. Hopefully this prediction is wrong. If conventional corn goes up to $11 or $12 dollars a bushel it could push organic corn up to $25 or more a bushel. That would hurt our farm as well. This year our small farm will spend in the neighborhood of $100,000 on feed! If feed costs continue to drastically go up our eggs and chicken will also have to rise in price as well.

Sustainable agriculture is not just about how we treat the land, but it is also about being profitable enough be able to continue to produce food. If a "sustainable" farm does everything right in how it treats the soil and how it treats its animals, but it fails to make a living wage, it is not sustainable. Most people here in America are disconnected from their food and what goes into producing that food. The assumption by many is that the grocery store will always be full and will have what they want at a cheap price. That may not always be the case. This next year looks like it is going to be an interesting year. Is our farm going to crawl in a hole and expect the worst? No! We are moving forward and hoping and praying for the best. Last week we received 1,100 new egg layer chicks to replace some of our older hens and to increase the laying flock. The demand for our eggs is still greater than what we can supply. Thank you for your support in these difficult economic times.

The Dismantling of America

For a long time I could not figure out why our federal, state, and local governments did not care about  farms and manufacturing closing down and more and more food and other basics needing to be imported. This week, here in Frederick County, there are two more dairy farms closing down for good. Everything is being sold at auction, including the milking equipment. The last several years have been very difficult times for dairy farmers.

The construction industry is also being dismantled. Even if the building industry were to revive tomorrow, I’m not sure how much infrastructure is left to support it. The last several years there have been many sawmills sold at auction—probably most of them sold for scrap metal. The boys and I attended the auction of Monumental Millwork last year. It was a large supplier of doors, windows, and mouldings for the Baltimore and Washington areas. It had been there for years. Everything went dirt cheap, even though there was national online bidding. Most of the big door machines were purchased by a beekeeper who was going to take them apart for parts to put together machines to build bee hives – never to make doors again.

I have been studying the economy and reading many articles glossed over by the main news media. Gradually, I have been able to understand why the government is encouraging the dismantling of America. Normally, when massive amounts of money are "printed" like the government has been doing for the last 20+ years, it causes hyperinflation. But we have not had very much inflation. Why?

When newly "printed" money is kept within a country, it causes inflation. But if the new money goes out of the country it does not cause inflation. The government discovered a way to print their way out of their financial troubles without the problem of hyperinflation – at least for now. As a result, the trade deficit with other countries has become huge. Farms and manufacturing through government policies and regulations have been encouraged to close so that more and more money can flow out of the country, so that more money can be printed to cover government over spending. Currently, close to half of our food is imported and almost all of our clothes. It is a short-sighted philosophy, but it has worked very well so far. The questions are: how long will it work? What will the ultimate consequences be? Where will we get food and clothes if other countries decide they do not want our "funny money"?

There is always the possibility that the government has found a monetary policy that will work in the long run. But there is also the very real possibility that it will fail big time. Here at Jehovah-Jireh Farm, we are hedging our bets by trying to learn as much as we can about growing our own food. If something were to happen that would stop the availability of imported food, at that point it would be too late to begin to learn how to produce all our own food. Every gardener knows how hard it is to grow enough food to live on for a year. You have all these dreams about putting seeds in the ground and harvesting all this wonderful food. Then as the summer progresses, reality sets in as plants don’t grow right, bugs devour plants and vegetables, and the weeds take over the garden. The learning curve is steep, but in the end it is very rewarding as you learn to conquer those problems and are able to produce high brix, nutrient dense food that tastes much better than the grocery store food.

Now, more than ever, it is important to learn how to produce our own food and to support local farms. The Fukushima disaster also raises questions about the future safety of the winter fruits and vegetables that come from California and Mexico. Much of the organic salad greens come from these areas during the winter months.

Monsanto – Too Big to Fall?

Here in the Washington DC area you often hear Monsanto running ads on the radio touting how they are helping farmers feed the world and how they are supporting sustainable agriculture. However, Monsanto is anything but a supporter of sustainable agriculture. They are a giant agricultural chemical and genetically modified (GMO) seed corporation that has done much damage to sustainable agriculture. Many people have lamented how Monsanto has been able to "legally" run rough shod over farmers in developing a monopoly in the agricultural world.

Last month, a little reported, but very significant event happened. France’s Supreme Court ruled against Monsanto, saying that the agrochemical giant had not told the truth about its best selling weed-killer, Roundup. Monsanto had falsely advertised Roundup as being "biodegradeable" and claimed that it "left the soil clean".  Roundup is not biodegradable and it does contaminate the soil.

For years we have been told that when Roundup is sprayed it kills plants, but when the chemical comes in contact with the soil it is neutralized. It has been said so often that many believe it to be true. France’s Supreme Court’s ruling shows proof that Roundup is not neutralized in the soil. The use of Roundup is one of the leading reasons why Monsanto has developed genetically modified seeds. The plants grown from their genetically modified seeds can be sprayed with Roundup and will not die. That enables farmer to spray their fields with Roundup and kill the weeds after the corn or soybeans have come up and not harm the corn or soybeans.

Keep watching. Someday – maybe in the distant future – but someday, Monsanto and their Roundup will likely disappear, never to be seen again.  "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.  Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." (Psalm 37:35-36)

Monsanto’s philosophy is built upon the evolutionary mindset that there is no God and that genetic selection (including genetically modified organisms—GMO’s) is THE answer to improving food production and feeding the world. What is being missed is that while genetic improvement has increased food production, the nutrient density of the food has decreased along with human and animal health. More food has to be consumed to supply the needed nutrients and as a result, obesity is increasing among children. The majority of people and animals today are either on pharmaceutical drugs or natural supplements to try to have some semblance of health. This is a testimony that Monsanto’s method of genetic selection is not THE answer.

God created the soil full of minerals in the Garden of Eden. The soil has been declining ever since. It has been documented that in the last 60 years that the mineral density of the soils has significantly decreased. We need to first rebuild the mineral and organic density of our soil. Then we can select for genetic superiority. The seeds that have been genetically selected by Monsanto to grow in mineral depleted soils do not have the proper genetic expression to grow in nutrient rich soils and produce nutrient dense foods. Many organic farmers and gardeners have discovered this and that is why there is a growing interest in heirloom seeds. The heirloom seeds in improved soils produce higher protein food and nutrient density. Along with the nutrient density is a significantly improved flavor. Our mouths tell us what food is best for our bodies by how good the food tastes.  When a tomato looks like a tomato but acts and tastes more like a tennis ball, you can be sure that that tomato was genetically selected for some other quality than nutrient dense food. Listen to your mouth and eat what is good! If it has a poor taste quality it is poor quality food. That is true of meats and eggs as well.

Links to articles on Monsanto
http://www.midnorthmonitor.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2160916  – An article showing how the "inactive" ingredients, the trade secret ingredients, that make Roundup more potent have been found to cause human liver cells to die.

What Will You Eat This Winter?

We as Americans allow others to do our food planning for us and to provide the food we need during the winter months. Is that wise? For as long as many of us can remember, one has been able to go to the grocery store every week during the winter and find it full of all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, and buy whatever one wanted. Being able to buy food in the grocery store all winter has been so easy and reliable that most people do not have more than a few day’s supply of food in the house. We have gone from the self sufficiency of 100 years ago to almost total dependency on the grocery store.

This winter has the potential to be different. Mexico and central California, which provide much of our winter vegetables, are experiencing the worst drought in years. The Central Valley in California is a 400-mile-long, 18 county area. More than 260,000 of the 600,000 acres that grow tomatoes, lettuce and other crops have been taken out of production this year. When you think of how many tomatoes can be grown on one acre and realize that almost half of the land is sitting idle while the rest of the land is not producing as much because of the drought, there is potential for a food shortage. A link to the Wall Street Journal’s Sept. 2 article on the drought in California  – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125184765024077729.html?mod=rss_US_News
Note: We are not predicting that there will be a shortage of food this winter. It is possible that the food shortage will be made up from food from other parts of the world. We are just giving you a heads up.

The LA Times has a September 7, 2009 article "Mexico Water Shortage Becomes Crisis Amid Drought"

"A months-long drought has affected broad swaths of the country, from the U.S. border to the Yucatan Peninsula, leaving crop fields parched and many reservoirs low. The need for rain is so dire that water officials have been rooting openly for a hurricane or two to provide a good drenching.
"We really are in a difficult situation," said Felipe Arreguin Cortes, deputy technical director for Mexico’s National Water Commission.
"This is supposed to be Mexico’s wet season, when daily rains bathe farmland and top off rivers and reservoirs. But rainfall has been sporadic and unusually light — the result, officials say, of an El Niño effect this summer that has warmed Pacific Ocean waters and influenced distant weather patterns.
"Mexico’s hurricane season has been mild, with no major hits so far this summer, though a weak Hurricane Jimena dropped plenty of rain on parts of Baja California and the northwestern state of Sonora last week. The sparse rainfall nationwide has made 2009 the driest in 69 years of government record-keeping, Arreguin said…"
"Although no one wants to recognize it, there is a food crisis," said Cruz Lopez Aguilar…"

To read more – http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-drought7-2009sep07,0,6988447.story

One of the best savings accounts for an uncertain future is a freezer full of food. You always have to eat. Food and water are the most basic and important necessities of life. To rely totally on others to store up and provide food for us for when we need it is putting total of faith and trust in "the system".

There is one other aspect of "What will you eat this winter?". Will your food be from local sources or will it have logged many miles over land and sea from unknown (trusted?) sources to land on your plate? There is still a little time left to get a freezer and stock up on local food for this winter. We will have eggs available all winter, but our last chicken processing will be in November. We will not have any fresh chickens available after November until May of next year. The meat chickens are too young to handle the cold outside in the winter time. The "free-range" chickens that you will see in the grocery stores this winter will not be free-range! They are conventionally raised chickens, raised in big chicken houses with a deceptive title.

What is Expensive?

It is interesting how easy it is for us to get our perspectives mixed up about what is expensive. Recently Cathy met a lady at Wal-Mart who was purchasing her groceries. By her appearance she was obviously not well. She was riding in one of the electric shopping carts that Wal-Mart provides for customers who have difficulty walking. This lady had met Cathy before and inquired about our eggs, but when she found out that they cost $3.75 a dozen, she said "Oh, I can’t afford that. It is too expensive." This lady was also drinking a Coke while she was shopping. The irony of that lady’s priorities and perspective made Cathy think. That Coke was flavored sugar water, devoid of nutrition and was contributing to the lady’s poor health. The acid in the Coke tends to leach calcium out of the body and bones and destroys the enamel on one’s teeth. It cost at least a dollar. Our pasture raised, organically fed eggs, on the other hand, are full of nourishment, protein, and readily absorbed nutrients and vitamins. A dozen eggs weighs at least one and a half pounds. At $3.75 a dozen, that is only $2.50/lb for a high protein food. That dozen eggs would provide that lady six meals of easy to prepare protein (two eggs per meal) at a cost of only 63 cents per meal. Now compare that to the Coke which cost more than a dollar per "meal". If the lady only has a limited amount of money to spend for food, which should she "too expensive" – the Coke, or our pasture raised eggs?

Scenario  #2
    A person we know of, has poor health and is concerned that they might die. At the same time they have plenty of money. Someone shared with this person about an alternative health care method which has had good success with this person’s type of illness. The person’s response of what is expensive helped me see things from a different perspective. This person said that they were open as long as there is not a product sale push along with the results of the testing. They said, "I am sorry, but I am very skeptical of testing programs of this nature that require you buy their products to fix your deficiency." The person, instead, has chosen to go with the medical doctor’s testing and product sale push which requires the person to use the medical doctor’s products to "fix" the problem at a cost of tens of thousand of dollars. Unfortunately, the medical doctor’s product "fix" also has a high failure rate along with major side effects.

What I learned from this situation is how easy it is for us to view things as too expensive to even check out because it would cost several hundred dollars a month, and other things such as the medical doctor’s "fix" with no greater success rate and which cost tens of thousands of dollars more, as a reasonable route to take.

We have bought into society’s warped view of what is expensive and what is not. The point of this scenario is not to discredit the medical profession. They play an important role in our lives such as when I was in an accident several years ago and broke my ankle. However, the $15,000 cost was way too excessive.

We are what we eat. There is a cause and effect sequence that occurs from the food that we eat. When we eat food that had to be raised with herbicides and pesticides, and meat that had to be fed antibiotics, is it any wonder that so many Americans have to also feed at the Pharmacy? If the food that we eat couldn’t survive without chemicals and antibiotics, we shouldn’t expect our bodies to be able to make it without chemical and antibiotic "fixes" too. When you take into account the medical costs, the lost time running to the doctor’s offices, the poor health in later years, etc., "cheap" grocery store and restaurant food is not cheap. It is expensive.

One of our customers, a young mother, commented that since she has started buying real food, her total food costs have gone down. Yes, the ingredients cost more, but she needs less. Plus you cut out expensive, negative nutrition foods such as Coke and boxed cereals. Your food dollars are spent on real nourishing food.

Is real, organically raised, nourishing food expensive? No, not when you count in all the costs of "cheap" grocery store food.

The End of Factory Farming?

Wrong philosophies eventually come to an end, and it is interesting watching it happen to factory farming. The elections brought about a  change that you may not have heard about. California voters voted to do away with cages for laying hens, and the typical very small pens for hogs and veal calves. Most of the white eggs in grocery stores are laid by hens packed in small cages about five or six hens per cage. Each hen has the equivalent of a space eight inches by eight inches, which is less than a sheet of paper. The cages are in long rows, stacked three or four high, filling the huge chicken houses with tens of thousands of laying hens. The hens live their entire life squeezing out as many eggs as possible to fill the grocery stores with cheap eggs so that Americans have surplus money to buy iPods, cell phones, plasma TV’s, and other "necessary" items. The hens can’t exercise, breathe fresh air, or enjoy the sunshine. Factory farming has reduced millions of laying hens to mere egg laying machines that produce eggs that are barely fit to eat. California is one of the largest egg producing states in the nation, and they are leading the way in putting an end to the cruelest of the factory farming methods.

The factory farm broiler chicken industry is in trouble. Pilgrim’s Pride, the largest broiler producer, is almost bankrupt. Their stocks have fallen to 31 cents a share! Tyson Food is following closely on their heels. Tyson’s stocks have now fallen to where Pilgrim’s Pride’s stocks were several months ago, because Tyson’s poultry division is losing huge amounts of money.

For years the business philosophy has been for farms to get bigger and bigger. The small family farm could not compete. Now we are seeing that trend of bigger and bigger starting to collapse as the big companies can’t handle their huge debt load. The transition back to smaller more sustainable farms will probably be difficult, but the end result will be better quality food.
We live in some very interesting times.