From the “Evil” Scientist Lab: Killer Corn

Another reason to eat organic food.

The seed treatment on corn seeds is much more deadly than what we realized.

I was shocked the other week when we received an email exposing how the pesticide and fungicide usage on most of our country’s corn crop is killing honey bees. In the early part of May of this year, beekeepers reported staggering losses of honey bees in Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio, after their hives foraged near pesticide-treated corn fields. The seed corn is treated with pesticides and fungicides. The neonicotinoid pesticides are very deadly to honey bees. Just one gram can kill 11 million to 22 million honey bees. When combined with fungicides, they are 10 times more deadly than when used alone! The coated corn seeds are sticky, so talc is added to the seeds to make them flow better in the corn planter. However, the powdery talc is readily carried by the wind to plants and areas beside the corn fields where bees are foraging. The talc is contaminated with these neonicotinoids and fungicides and the dead bees test positive for these chemicals. The source for this information is a new report released by Purdue University this year –
http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/Krupke_journal.pone_.0029268.pdf

We are used to change in technology and society. But what we are not used to is rapid change behind our backs in our food. Everything appears to be the same as before, but it is not. In the last 15 years there have been significant changes in the way corn and other crops are grown that we are unaware of. Genetically modified plants are only one part of the problem.

From the Huffington Post – “Bee Kills in the Corn Belt: What’s GE Got to Do With It?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-pilatic/bee-kills-in-the-corn-bel_b_1520757.html

“Over the last 15 years, U.S. corn cultivation has gone from a crop requiring little-to-no insecticides and negligible amounts of fungicides, to a crop where the average acre is grown from seeds treated or genetically engineered to express three different insecticides (as well as a fungicide or two) before being sprayed prophylactically with RoundUp (an herbicide) and a new class of fungicides that farmers didn’t know they “needed” before the mid-2000s.
A series of marketing ploys by the pesticide industry undergird this story. It’s about time to start telling it, if for no other reason than to give lie to the oft-repeated notion that there is no alternative to farming corn in a way that poisons pollinators. We were once — not so long ago — on a very different path.

How corn farming went off the rails

“In the early 1990s, we were really good at growing corn using bio-intensive integrated pest management (bio-IPM). In practice, that meant crop rotations, supporting natural predators, using biocontrol agents like ladybugs and as a last resort, using chemical controls only after pests had been scouted for and found. During this time of peak bio-IPM adoption, today’s common practice of blanketing corn acreage with “insurance” applications of various pesticides without having established the need to do so would have been unthinkable. It’s expensive to use inputs you don’t need, and was once the mark of bad farming.

“Then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, GE corn and neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) seed treatments both entered the market — the two go hand-in-hand, partly by design and partly by accident…

“Then, as if on cue, Monsanto introduced three different strains of patented, GE corn between 1997 and 2003 (RoundUp Ready, and two Bt-expressing variants aimed at controlling the European Corn Borer and corn root worm). Clothianidin entered the U.S. market under conditional registration in 2003, and in 2004 corn seed companies began marketing seeds treated with a 5X level of neonicotinoids (1.25 mg/seed vs. .25). [Each seed has enough to kill 9,000 – 18,000 bees. – Myron]

“… and in the space of a decade, U.S. corn acreage undergoes a ten-fold increase in average insecticide use. By 2007, the average acre of corn has more than three systemic insecticides — both Bt traits and a neonicotinoid. Compare this to the early 1990s, when only an estimated 30-35 percent of all corn acreage were treated with insecticides at all.”

“When I spoke with one Iowa corn farmer in January and told him about the upcoming release of a Purdue study confirming corn as a major pesticide exposure route for bees, his face dropped with worn exasperation. He looked down for a moment, sighed and said, ‘You know, I held out for years on buying them GE seeds, but now I can’t get conventional seeds anymore. They just don’t carry ’em.'”

It used to be that pesticide sprays were sprayed on the surface of plants, fruits and vegetables to kill bugs. But in more recent years, systemic insecticides have been developed and are being widely used. Systemic insecticides and fungicides work by going into the plant and traveling through the entire plant and fruit or vegetable. Any bug that eats the plant is killed. It also keeps insects from eating the fruit or vegetable. There is no way to wash off a systemic insecticide or fungicide from a fruit or vegetable the way it was possible in the past. The insecticide and fungicide has become part of the food.

We found out about the killer corn one day after we had planted some sweet corn we purchased from Southern States. We had planted three different varieties of organic sweet corn seed that we purchased from Fedco.com. The Honey Select variety had basically 0% germination. Being ignorant of what was on the seed coating of sweet corn,  we purchased a pound of the Incredible variety sweet corn and planted eight, 80 foot rows of Incredible sweet corn where the Honey Select had been planted. I thought that the pink seed coating was just something bad tasting to keep the birds from eating it.  I could not read on the package what the seed treatment on the sweet corn seed was, so I went to Southern States to find out. I was concerned that we might have planted something that would kill our bees. It had five different fungicides! – Apron, Captan, Dividend, Thiram, and Vitavax! Apron is a systemic fungicide. I felt disgusted and betrayed. We waited until the corn started coming up and we dug it all up. The picture above shows the pink fungicide loaded seed still there, putting its chemicals into the plant.

One of the things that farmers across the US are complaining about is that they cannot buy bee friendly corn seed. Almost everything is genetically modified and treated with pesticides and fungicides. About the only way to get untreated seeds is to buy organic seeds or for a farmer to save his own seeds.

What this means is that the “All Natural” label on chicken, eggs, and other foods with corn ingredients is probably a bogus or misleading claim on most products. Non-GMO corn is not safe if the seeds have been treated with systemic fungicides and neonicotinoid pesticides.

I wish farmers knew how to grow high brix, nutrient dense corn. They could eliminate the chemicals, lower their production costs and provide a far superior food for their fellow human beings. It can be done. Last year we produced high brix sweet corn that had very few bugs. Instead, legal bio-terrorism on the farm is killing our honey bees, poisoning our food, and giving us poor quality food that is making us sick. Sick Care (Health Care) in America is the #1 industry. We are what we eat. Health begins in the soil and in the seed.

We need to help each other in these changing times and keep each other informed so that things do not unknowingly get changed behind our backs. Ignorance is not bliss when it affects our health or the health of our family and friends. Most people are ignorant about their food. I am amazed at how little most people know. They assume that all food is basically the same and that cheapest is best. The other day, I was getting gas in Pennsylvania, and the man at the pump next to me wondered what I was hauling on my trailer. I told him it was organic protein concentrate for our chicken feed. He asked, “What is organic?” in a way that showed he was clueless to what organic really is and as if organic was just something unimportant and more expensive. I was surprised that a 60-year-old man was so clueless about his food. Times have changed and he is still assuming that they are the same.

Other articles about corn and honey bees:
http://www.panna.org/press-release/farmers-press-access-bee-friendly-corn-seeds
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/mysteriously-disappearance-honeybees-video

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.
http://www.fairewinds.com/content/tokyo-soil-samples-would-be-considered-nuclear-waste-us

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.”
http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/after-tour-of-fukushima-nuclear-power-station-wyden-says-situation-worse-than-reported

Sustainable Farming – The Farmer Has to Stay in Business

There has been a growing interest in local and sustainable agriculture in recent years. Most of the emphasis on sustainable agriculture has been on sustainable farming methods. But there is another very important part of sustainable agriculture. The farmer has to stay in business or it is not sustainable!

Last month the Pennsylvania dairy farm, Rainbow Acres Farm, announced that it was shutting down. Dan Allgyer and his Rainbow Acres Farm had been delivering raw milk, milk products, eggs, chickens, and other farm products to thousands of customers in the Grassfed On the Hill buying club here in Maryland for the last 6 years.

The following history of Rainbow Acres and the Grassfed on the Hill buying club is from the Grassfed On the Hill website: "The group started to gain momentum in the Spring of 2006, word was spreading about the good products from Rainbow Acres and Liz Reitzig and I had teamed up to run the group. She was passionate about her milk and was born and raised in Maryland and knew many fresh milk enthusiasts. She had previously been part of a cow share program in Maryland but the State shut that program down in 2006. Once Liz joined me, the group grew exponentially. The system we had in place could handle infinite growth provided the community would support more drop locations—which it happily did. By 2007, 200 households participated in the group; by 2009 it grew to 1000 households."

"Also in 2009, we attracted the FDA’s attention. Dan received his first visit by the FDA, state troopers and armed federal marshals in Feb 2010. They didn’t have a warrant so Dan told them to leave. They returned in April 2010 with a warrant. They searched the farm and asked him questions which he refused to answer. The next day he received a warning letter from the FDA to stop transporting raw milk across state lines. We continued to operate as usual. The group continued to grow, providing nutrient dense, fresh milk to those who seek it and those who were willing to join a private buying group to access the food they choose." http://grassfedonthehill.com/grassfed-on-the-hill-history/ (Now unavailable)

The Food and Drug Administration convinced a federal judge to impose a permanent injunction on Dan Allgyer prohibiting him from selling raw milk to customers across state lines in Maryland. Judge Lawrence Stengel said that if Allgyer is found to violate the law again, he will have to pay the FDA’s costs for investigating and prosecuting him. Rainbow Acres and the Grassfed on the Hill buying club decided to close down.

Rainbow Acres was a "sustainable" farm. It was using sustainable pasture based farming methods. It had a very successful marketing and sales model. But it went out of business in only six years. It ceased to be a sustainable farm. It failed because it was doing something that was illegal. It was illegally delivering raw milk across state lines into Maryland.

The role of the consumer in the failure of a sustainable farm
A lot of focus has been put on the role of the government in shutting down Rainbow Acres and preventing people from receiving raw milk who were depending on it for health and nutritional needs. But the consumer also played a role in the failure of a sustainable farm. They asked the farmer to do something illegal for the convenience of the consumer. It was not illegal for Maryland residents to travel to Pennsylvania where raw milk can legally be sold, purchase raw milk and transport it back to Maryland. It was not illegal for small groups of families to take turns going to Pennsylvania to purchase raw milk and bring it back. Raw milk can be purchased in large quantities at a time and frozen, reducing the number of trips to Pennsylvania. But it is illegal for the farmer to deliver the raw milk across state lines to the families in Maryland. We too wish that raw milk could legally be purchased here in Maryland… someday it will.

It was the part that was illegal that was not sustainable and caused the farm to close. When a farmer does something that is illegal, it hurts not only himself but also other farmers as well. In the court case the judge set a precedent ruling that could in the future hinder other Pennsylvania farmers from selling raw milk to Maryland customers who then transport it back to Maryland. The Complete Patient website reports "He suggested in a footnote that individuals who traveled to Allgyer’s farm to pick up their milk and bring it back to Maryland would be in violation of federal law. He said that "the purchase of raw milk by one who traveled between states to obtain it, or traveled between states before consuming it or sharing it with friends or family member, implicates ‘commerce between any State…" http://www.thecompletepatient.com/article/2012/february/9/no-raw-milk-your-subterfuge-food-club-federal-judge-tells-md-members.

In recent years there have been a number of farms that have illegally transported pasture raised chickens across state lines into Maryland that were processed in other states under federal exemption. The federal exemption for on-farm processed poultry requires the poultry to be sold in the state where it is processed. The consumer can take it across state lines, but not the farmer. The federal exemption for on-farm poultry processing is a privilege that pasture based farms in America are fortunate to have. I hope that a few, who are not content to abide by the law, don’t mess up everything for the rest of us and cause the federal exemption to be revoked.

Not all sales are profitable sales

Another thing that the consumer needs to be aware of in attempting to support sustainable agriculture is that not all sales are profitable sales even if the dollar figure looks high. People will ask farmers to do things for them, thinking that they are supporting the farmer, but it is not a profitable sale. For example, it is not profitable for the farmer to drive a half hour to deliver $50 worth of products. Nor is not profitable to raise 10 chickens of a special breed for just one customer; chickens that take twice as long to grow, and have to be butchered separately. A special pen has to be built and a lot of extra labor goes into caring for those few chickens. It takes about as long to feed 10 chickens as it does 300.

Each year there are a number of new farmers markets that are opened to promote local agriculture. We are often asked to join a new farmers market. In my opinion, sales at most farmers markets are not profitable sales unless it is a large farmers market that attracts a lot of people. Farmers go to farmers markets because they are asked to sell there, they need to sell more products and people are not willing to come to their farm. I was surprised when I found out that the average sales at a farmers market was only $500 a week. It takes two people an hour or two to get the products ready and loaded to go to the market. Another half hour or hour to get to the market. Two people spend three or four hours at the farmers market, and then there is the travel home and unloading.  It can easily take 14-16 man hours to sell $500 worth of products. That may sound like easy money until you count in all the labor and expenses that went into growing the products, the equipment, land costs, utilities, packaging, and the 25% or so of unsold produce that was carried home and had to be thrown away. The poor farmer might only be making $5.00 an hour. That is why most farms today have off-farm incomes. One of the spouses works at an off-farm job, or they have retirement income or other investment income. If you go to a farmers market, support the farmers by buying their products. They really do need you to buy from them.

A sustainable farm has to get big enough to support a full time income for each of those working on the farm. Trying to make a living off of 200 hens or a half acre vegetable patch is like a doctor trying to make a living by only seeing two or three patients a day. We have seen a number of small pasture based farms start up and then close down because it was not profitable at the small scale that they were trying operate at. The homesteading mentality of having a few chickens, some cattle, a few pigs, goats, and a vegetable plot is not a profitable farming model to support a full time income. If a farm is too diverse it is hard for the farm to be successful. It would be like a medical doctor without any employees who saw several patients a day. He was also a certified public accountant and did a little accounting work for people. He ran a small roadside farm stand once a week where he personally sold produce that he bought from area farmers. He would mow a few lawns for people in town. Lastly, he had 50 laying hens to produce eggs to sell at his farm stand. This scenario sounds ridiculous but it is what many small "sustainable" farms are trying to do. They are trying to do too many things and cannot be successful at any of them like they should.

We need small family farms, like Rainbow Acres, to stay in business. We talk about "sustainable" agriculture, which implies that conventional agriculture is not sustainable. Do we really believe conventional agriculture is not sustainable? If you believe that conventional agriculture is not sustainable, are you preparing for the day that it is not able to supply enough food? The news has not been reporting much about how unsustainable conventional agriculture really is. As I am seeing some of what is happening in big agriculture and the unsustainable things that are going on, I am concerned that one day some of the big players will be gone and there will be a shortage of food. A number of sectors of conventional agriculture are losing money right now. For example, the poultry industry is losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter. Feed prices are high, energy costs are high, there is an oversupply of chicken, and they can’t raise prices because other countries are not willing to pay the price. Here at our small farm, we have received at least 10 emails and phone calls from other countries looking for container loads of chicken parts. One lady that called was desperately looking for a shipping container of chicken wings. She asked Cathy if there was anyone that she could recommend. Cathy suggested Perdue. The lady told her that she had already contacted them and they were too expensive.  Several years ago, one of the largest poultry companies, Pilgrim’s Pride, filed for bankruptcy. A Brazilian company bought them out. Recently they have been losing over $100,000,000 per quarter. The beef industry is on a similar unsustainable course. 

We need more small sustainable farms that produce high quality nutrient dense food. A truly sustainable farm is one that uses sustainable agricultural practices, is using legal farming and marketing methods, is financially profitable enough to stay in business long term and is able to pass on a profitable farming operation to the next generation. That is sustainable agriculture.

Links to articles about Rainbow Acres Farm:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/13/feds-shut-down-amish-farm-selling-fresh-milk/?page=all#pagebreak
http://www.thecompletepatient.com/article/2012/february/9/no-raw-milk-your-subterfuge-food-club-federal-judge-tells-md-members
http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/8181-amish-farmer-closes-raw-milk-business-after-feds-slap-injunction-on-him
http://www.thecompletepatient.com/sites/default/files/allgyerjudgedecision2.pdf

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 Lazy Days of Summer??

The August 2011 edition of Country magazine has on the cover: "Easy Season, Relax and enjoy the dog days". Summer might be the lazy days for air conditioned city folks, but they are not lazy days here on the farm. We have been trying to apply the wisdom of the old proverb: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,  provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." (Proverbs 6:6-11)

In addition to all our other work, we have been busy canning and freezing as much of our nutrient dense food from the garden that we can so that we have nutritious food to feed our family this winter when all the colds, flu bugs and other sicknesses are going around.

Sweet Corn 2011
This is a bucket of high brix sweet corn (25 brix) from our garden. Our family loves corn and we grow a large patch of sweet corn. Last year the stink bugs destroyed our last planting of sweet corn. This year Cathy was determined that we would get all our sweet corn. Unlike other bugs that are deterred by high brix plants, stink bugs love sugar. We found a repellent that really works. We used a mixture of liquid laundry soap that we got from a health food store and mixed it with water and sprayed it on the ears as the corn was nearing maturity. We had to spray it twice. It turned some of the outer husks brown, but it didn’t affect the corn. Watering with a sprinkler seems to help reactivate the soap also.You can find more at this link: http://www.ehow.com/info_8607847_stink-bug-repellent-home.html

Cutting Corn
Cathy and some of the children cutting the corn off the cob. The corn is first husked, then the silk is removed. Then about 100 ears are blanched at a time in a large outdoor cooker/canner. The corn is then cooled in water, cut off the cob and put into freezer boxes. This year we put 98 quarts of corn in the freezer.

Canning Veggie Soup
Cathy and Kara in the process of canning 41 quarts of beef vegetable stew. In the lower left corner is canned beets. Cathy learned an easy way to wash a large quantity of beets and potatoes. You put them in the washing machine with an old towel and set it on the gentle setting. It works well and takes the work out of washing all those vegetables.

Cooking Under Pressure
There are also times to sit and relax and learn how to cook under pressure! Here Cathy is reading a new cook book about how to use her new 10 quart pressure cooker. She is waiting while salsa is being canned in the the outdoor canner. She and the girls made and canned 76 pints of delicious salsa that day. Salsa is great on eggs – fried, scrambled, and omelets.

Daniel with Spinning Wheel
Recently, our son Daniel made an electric spinning wheel using a sewing machine motor and foot control. It is amazingly simple and works well.

Oh the non-lazy days of summer, when we go to bed feeling like we accomplished something and we feel more prepared for winter. This winter we will sit by the wood stove in the evening and enjoy a good book or use that new electric spinning wheel.

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.

Living Hand to Mouth?

One day Cathy and I walked into our local Giant grocery store, and as I walked in, the thought that struck me was: we could not stock up on food for the winter at that store. It is a HUGE grocery store but every thing is sold in small quantities. The selection of food is incredible. Apples are sold by the piece, but you can’t buy a bushel of apples. You can buy one sweet potato, but not a 50lb. bag.

Bulk food
We like to purchase as much as we can in 50lb bags. We buy the whole wheat grain and grind our own flour. Wheat, when it is made into flour, loses almost all of its vitamins in 72 hours.

Even cereal can be purchased in single serving bowls for $1 each. I realized that the HUGE grocery stores give the impression that there is an abundance of food to eat, but they have forced Americans to live hand to mouth by only being able to purchase small quantities at a time. They have also forced people to buy food the most expensive way possible – in small quantities. People find themselves running to the grocery store multiple times a week.

The grocery stores also function on a hand to mouth mentality. Most fruits and vegetables are not purchased locally and stored to be sold during the winter. Instead, there is a global dependence. Much of the fruits and vegetables that are produced locally are consumed in the summer months. For the rest of the year, we depend on other countries supplying much of our fruits and vegetables. We as a country are living hand to mouth, more dependent than we would like to admit, on other people all around the world supplying our food for us when we want it.

But the good news is that all is not doom and gloom. It is possible to eat local, eat healthy, and significantly cut your food costs. The key is to buy in season, in a large quantity, and store it for the winter. It is usually much cheaper buying a 50lb bag of potatoes or a bushel of apples than buying them by the individual potato or apple in the grocery store. When you buy it locally, you can find out how it was raised. When you buy those fresh fruits and vegetables one at a time in the grocery store in the middle of winter, you have no idea what unregulated pesticide might have been sprayed on it in that distant country on the other side of the world, even if it is called organic.

There is a real satisfaction in having food stored up for the winter. I enjoy opening the freezer and seeing it full of good food for us to eat this winter, or looking at the pantry shelves full of food that we raised ourselves and canned for the winter months. Our family has opted out of the hand to mouth mentality of purchasing our food in small quantities. We do not want to go back!


One of our freezers full of sweet corn, apple cider we made at our neighbor’s house, cucumber juice, peaches, and meat.


One of Cathy’s pantry shelves with peaches, tomato sauce, pickles, apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, and beets.


Yukon Gold potatoes from our garden stored for the winter in our cellar.

If you want true pasture raised chickens to eat this winter, this fall is the time to stock up. Over a year ago, we upgraded to a heavier 2mil plastic bag for packaging the chickens and turkeys. That has improved the amount of time that the poultry can be held in the freezer without freezer burn. Cathy recently got some turkey soup bones out of the freezer from almost a year ago (last Thanksgiving). She did not find any freezer burn. Our biggest chicken customer likes to eat local all winter. They plan to have 100 chickens in the freezer to last until May. While that sounds like a lot of chickens, it is only about 4-5 chickens a week until the May 2011 chicken processing. That "customer" is our family. Yes, we eat a lot more than just chicken. When you set four hard working, growing boys down at the dinner table, it had better be more than just a salad!


Another one of our freezers full of home grown food – Chicken, green beans, and raspberry jam.