Why Organic?

We feed our chickens organic feed. With prices of organic feed close to double that of conventional feed, it is easy to wonder, "Is it really worth it?" Nutrient-density tests of organic produce have often shown that "organic" does not equal "nutrient-dense". Sometimes, organic produce will be as bad as—or worse than—conventional produce. Some, therefore, with good reason, start the chorus: "Why pay more for organic if it’s not higher in minerals?" Of course, we all know that organic has not been sprayed with pesticides, and eating food sprayed with substances whose names end in "cide" (from the Latin, meaning "death") does not seem like a good idea. But another, just as important reason is that organic produce must not be genetically engineered.

Companies like Monsanto engineer corn, soybeans and other plants to make them resistant to herbicides (so you can spray Monsanto’s Roundup on the corn field and kill the weeds, but not the corn) or produce their own pesticide (as with Bt corn). Really? Corn with a built-in pesticide? These genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) seem to be everywhere in our food supply. Much of the corn grown in this country is genetically modified (GM). Due to the use of corn for making high fructose corn syrup, many foods that contain corn syrup (from soda pop to ketchup to fruit cocktail to ice cream to "honey" graham crackers) therefore contain genetically modified ingredients.  So how do they modify plant genetics, and what are the results?

Dr. Arden Andersen, speaking at the Weston A. Price Foundation 2006 Conference, tells, in a nutshell, the GMO story:

"Now here’s the big issue, really, that you have to understand, it’s even more severe, or as severe, as the immune reaction, that is that absolutely they have proven horizontal gene transfer into our gut bacteria. Horizontal gene transfer. And the problem is, is part of that horizontal gene is an antibiotic resistant gene. An antibiotic resistant gene. So automatically, we become antibiotic resistant to whatever antibiotic that company is using in that genetic technology, because that’s part of the genetic engineering technology…

"So, how is this process happening? Well, what happens is that they have to take cells of this GM crop and they have to culture them, and then somehow they have to get that gene into that cell. But how do they know if it’s in there? They can’t wait for it to grow out and then determine that. So they have to somehow evaluate those cells in culture for the presence of the gene they have randomly shot in. By the way, this is not an absolute technology. It’s very random. They take a plasma gun and they literally just shoot in this plasma into the cells. It’s a random process. And they hope some of them get into the nucleus of the cell. So what they do is they take, for example, the Roundup Ready gene, and they have to attach to that an antibiotic resistant gene, because they have to have some way of identifying whether or not this gene was implanted. Well, then the other thing is  you have to understand is this is a foreign gene. In our body we have switches that turn on our genes, turn off our genes, all right? And they do that at the appropriate times in our development, embryonic development. But this is a foreign gene, so there’s nothing there to turn it on or off, so what they have to do is put an on switch. So they put an activator gene in there. What is that activator gene? Typically that is a virus that they put in there. A virus that our body has never seen before. Great!

"So then what they do is they shoot that in, and then they have to figure out, "How are we going to identify this?" So since they have the antibiotic resistant gene, they then coat all of these cells in culture with that antibiotic, and typically it’s ampicillin — penicillin. So any cell that survives that antibiotic treatment — "Ah, that tells us that gene, then, was accepted. We got that gene into those cells." But the thing about it is, you have an activator gene there. So every cell in that soybean plant is also going to have ampicillin resistance. And as soon as you eat that? Direct horizontal gene transfer to the biology in your gut. So now all of the gut in your body also has ampicillin resistance. Great! We don’t have enough resistance to antibiotics in this country, so I know we need to increase that.

"So think about it a moment. Take identical twins, and let’s say that one donates a kidney to the other one that has kidney failure. Identical twins! Does the recipient automatically accept that kidney from its identical twin? Absolutely not! We still have to give that person anti-rejection drugs, okay? And those are human to human transfer of identical twin tissue. So think for a moment: so you think that an absolute foreign protein, put into a plant and then into our body, is not going to have an immune response?

"The Swiss Federal Research Station–so remember now, all these organizations, these are not fly by night organizations, these are government organizations–the Swiss Federal Station found out that when you take green lacewings and they eat corn borer caterpillars that are feeding on GM corn, 50% more lacewings die than if you actually hit those lacewings with Bt directly. "Ah, but it’s essentially the same." Ladybugs, the same thing. They looked at ladybugs eating aphids that are feeding on genetically engineered potatoes. What did they find? 30% fewer progeny and lived half the normal life expectancy. And then they tell me that there is no issue with genetically engineered food? There’s no such thing as genetically engineered food. It is not food at all. It is poison. Every level of nature tells us that it’s poison. Tell me that we have a placebo effect with ladybugs and green lacewings. Amazing!"

Does this sound like something that we should consume every day? It more sounds like a wonder that it hasn’t killed us all. I agree with Dr. Andersen. It is poison!

And so, I support organics, if for no other reason than to avoid GMO’s. I cannot believe that I should put antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses (implanted into the very genetics of the "food") down my throat. It seems risky, if not downright dangerous!

A very good documentary discussing GMO’s is The Future of Food (http://www.thefutureoffood.com/). It goes into detail about just what Monsanto and friends are doing to our food supply. You can see the introduction to it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNezTsrCY0Q

Our Farm Is For the Birds – Update

Last spring we gave our children a challenge – for every bird house that they put up that had a nest in it we would give them $1.  The project was a success. We put up a total of 34 bird houses around the farm, and 21 had at least one nest built in them. Almost all of the bird houses that were put on a fiberglass or metal fence post had nests in them. Few of the bird houses that were attached to trees or buildings had nests in them. The birds apparently felt less safe in a bird house attached to a tree.

Wild birds are an important part of our farm. The tree swallows and barn swallows keep the hawks away during the spring and summer months. The chickens feel much safer ranging out in the pastures. We can tell when the swallows migrate south in the fall. Within a week the hawks are back terrorizing the chickens. The hawks usually aren’t very successful in getting a hen, but their circling overhead makes the hens run for cover. It is amazing how a vulture can circle overhead and the chickens don’t mind or run for cover, but if a hawk comes around they run for safety before the hawk flies very close.

The tree swallows, barn swallows, and bluebirds did a wonderful job last summer eating flies and mosquitoes. We also get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the tree swallows put on flying shows. Two swallows will fly in close formation making sharp turns and dives similar to an Air Force Flying Show. They are incredible!

Are You Eating Garbage?

Minerals, as we all know, are vital for life. Getting enough calcium, vitamins and colloidal minerals is essential for keeping our body running well and rebuilding the cells on time, and with all the proper building blocks.

However, we cannot live on mineral and vitamin supplements. God gave us food to eat, not mineral supplements. After all, let’s ask the question: why do we take supplements? Because those minerals and vitamins are not sufficient in our diet. There’s not enough mineral colloids in our vegetables, nor in the grass and grain that the animals eat who provide our milk, butter, cheese, eggs and meat. Mineral supplements are a crutch–a very necessary crutch, but a crutch, nonetheless.

I used to have the impression that we could just give our animals whatever minerals were lacking in their pasture and they would be healthy. However, I realized last year that that is not the true path to health. Those minerals need to be in the soil, so that the soil grows healthy, nutrient-dense plants with well-built proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Then the animals who eat those plants will also be healthy.

The same thing applies with our own food. Let’s suppose, for a moment, that you decide to be really cheap on your food budget. So you go around to the back of the grocery stores and find their old, reject, half-rotten produce that they set out by the dumpster. You load up those boxes into your car. You also find some meat in the dumpster that is past its expiration date, but it hasn’t yet turned to compost in the package. Inside the store, you buy a couple gallons of oil and several quarts of blackstrap molasses, and when you get home, the UPS guy has delivered the package of mineral supplements that you ordered the other day. You cook up the half-rotten broccoli and carrots that you found in one box, making sure to add the right amount of oil and molasses to add minerals, oils and sugars to the food, to make it more digestible. You stick the dumpster roast in the oven, with a mineral-rich herb concoction and some more oil and blackstrap. You make a salad with the limp lettuce and mushy spinach from another box, and make up some salad dressing with oil and vinegar, being sure again to add some more blackstrap. At supper time, you set your offering on the table, and tell everybody to be sure to take their supplements. The rest of the family looks at what you set on the table–and begins running for the bathroom, the back yard and the trash can to empty whatever their stomach may already contain. You eat your concoctions–and are sick with food poisoning for the next two days.

Silly? Let’s say that instead, you buy your veggies and meat inside the grocery store. The vegetables are low in the minerals needed to make healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and the steer that your roast came from was fed low-mineral GMO corn. Not only do they not contain enough minerals to make you healthy, but they were not healthy themselves. The vegetables have free nitrogen that was never turned into protein because there wasn’t enough calcium to make the plant work right. Therefore, the plants do not contain all the building blocks for cells that they could have, nor all the anti-oxidants that they should have. God’s garbage crew–insects- -should have eaten it themselves, but thanks to the insecticides that the farmer sprayed on, the garbage crew is dead and the garbage is on the shelf for you to buy. It is also deficient in natural sugars and oils, important for making food digestible. The roast is deficient, not only in minerals, but also in vitamins and healthy fats like Omega-3 and CLA because it was not fed the diet that God meant for that steer to eat. The apples you buy for dessert are full of reducing sugars, which turn brown when you expose them to the air. This indicates a lack of antioxidants and nutrition in general. You bring all this stuff home and cook it up, making sure to re-mineralize your food, and pass around the supplements at the table. But that does not turn the free nitrogen into protein, or replace the missing Omega-3 and CLA. In short, you add some stuff back in, but you are not dining on healthy food.

Dr. Carey A. Reams, a pioneer in growing nutrient-dense food, said that the Bible is the best health book ever written. We need to go to God’s Word to find out what we should eat. So what does it tell us?

In Psalm 103:5, it says of God that He "satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s." Notice what it says: "good things". I don’t believe that means mineral supplements, or low-quality lettuce. "Good things" means food that is high in minerals and nutrition, high in antioxidants and good fats, and well-built because it received good nutrition while it was growing.

This passage tells us that God satisfies our mouths with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. What does that mean? Periodically, an eagle will go off to a secluded spot and molt. Its claws and feathers drop out, and are replaced with new ones. When it comes back, it looks like a new eagle, even though it may be many years old. That eagle can even live up to 50 years of age.

In the same way, our bodies are constantly rebuilding themselves. Every six months, if your body is working right, your system replaces every cell. It has to replace that cell with something. If you are eating garbage, your cell will be replaced with one made from garbage. In order for your youth to be renewed like the eagle’s, you need to consume "good things"–nutrient-dense foods.

Low-mineral food is, according to Dr. Arden Andersen, garbage. He said: "Insects are Nature’s garbage crew… God designed insects to take out that which is not fit to eat. But we’re smarter than God, right? So we kill the garbage crew, and we consume the garbage, and then we wonder why we’re sick…" (Quoted from memory, probably somewhat paraphrased)

So, should we take mineral supplements and re-mineralize our food with things like blackstrap molasses? Of course, if you need to. If you’ve been eating garbage for forty years, you’re going to be mineral-deficient, so it makes sense to take supplements to "jump start" things and get your body back into shape. If the best peas you can find are low in minerals, then by all means, add some oil and blackstrap molasses. But if you want to have true health, you need to eat "good things", not garbage.

I suggest that everyone get a copy of the most recent edition of Nourishment Home Grown by A. F. Beddoe. (The latest one–the 2004 edition–is available from http://www.advancedideals.org/) This is a great book for the backyard gardener. It will teach you how to grow your own nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. It also has a section with tips on how to get the best produce when shopping at the grocery store, how to add minerals to deficient food, and how to test the nutrient density of food that you grow or buy.

Another good place to look is http://www.crossroads.ws. It has a free, online e-book explaining the basics of nutrient density.

If you need a source for soil amendments to add minerals to your soil, a great place is Lancaster Ag Products (http://www.lancasterag.com/). Although they are in Lancaster County, PA, they do some shipping, so you may not actually have to go to Pennsylvania for soil amendments.

Learn what you can about nutrient-dense food. Your health depends upon it.

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.

Thanks for Supporting Our Local Farm

Thank you for your support this year. It is your support that makes it possible for us to provide clean, healthy, nutritious, pasture-raised meats and eggs for you. Now, more than ever, it is important that small local farms have the support of the consumers around them. We have been hearing a lot in the news about the credit crisis and the government’s $700 billion dollar bailout.

What we have not been hearing much about is the poultry industry crisis. Pilgrim’s Pride, the country’s largest chicken producer, is on the verge of bankruptcy. They were not able to meet their financial obligations at the end of September and their lending institution gave them a 30 day grace period. Their stock has dropped to less than $3.00 a share from a high of $40 a share in July of 2007.

The other big poultry producers have also been experiencing huge losses due to the high grain prices and their stocks have been dropping as well. Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson made appeals to the government to ease the ethanol production mandates for this year to reduce the demand and the cost for corn.  The appeals were rejected. The government is more interested in energy production and bailing out Wall Street than in domestic food production!

The supply of cheap imported chicken and a reduced demand and oversupply of chickens has prevented the poultry industry from being able to raise their prices when grain prices went up dramatically this year. Chicken prices should be much higher in the grocery stores than what they are. With the price of conventional grain where it is, the price of conventional chicken should be about the same as what organic chicken was a year ago.

For years I have observed one poultry company buying up another. Then another company would buy up that one. With each buy out, the smaller company was merged to make a bigger poultry company. It was a dog eat dog world. I wondered what would happen when the biggest dog (poultry company) died and there was no one to take its place. We are about to see that happen.

With each year, we are losing more and more of our food independence and have to rely more and more on other countries to feed us. Along with that dependence on other countries for our cheap food is an increased health risk because of the reduced food regulation in other countries. The past two years has seen a huge increase in the problem of food poisonings from Salmonella in tomatoes and other vegetables to melamine in Chinese milk and pet food products. For years, the big factory farm model has been promoted as the best food production method. The big factory farm model is failing as we thought it would. And we see how very foolish it is for us to rely on other countries to provide our food for us. It is important now more than ever to encourage the development of smaller local farms and know where your food comes from.

Silly Boys, Tractors Are For Girls!

In Henry Ford’s book, My Life and Work, he explains why the first Fordson tractors were built. They were not built for men but for women! It was during World War I and England was experiencing a severe food crisis. Most of the men were at war and the farm work with horses was difficult for the women who were at home on the farm. England came to Henry Ford and asked him to build an affordable, easy to use tractor so their women could produce the food that they needed. Up to that point, most tractors were expensive, big, heavy steam tractors that required a lot of technical knowledge to operate. Henry Ford quickly put the tractors into production, loaded them on ships and sent them to England. With the tractors, the farm women in England were able to produce the food that was needed.

This story illustrates an important principle. The right tool in the hand of a child or a person with less strength can enable them to do the work of a strong man. I have observed this over and over with our children. By giving them the right tool they were able to accomplish as much work as if they had been a man. It is important when working with children and young people to equip them with the right quality tool and train them how to properly and safely use it so that they can be productive, and at the end of the day look back with satisfaction at what they accomplished. Don’t treat them as inferior and give them inferior, frustrating tools to work with. They will get little accomplished and will not feel like helping you again. But with the right tools, together you can get much accomplished and have more fun doing it. The next time you see a tractor, remember, "Tractors are for girls!"

Our Farm is For the Birds!

Our farm is a paradise for birds, domesticated and wild. Farming without chemicals provides a safe habitat for birds to find abundant food and raise their families. Many of you have noticed that we have a lot of bird houses around the farm. Early this year I gave our children a challenge: I would provide the materials to make bird houses, and for every bird house that had a bird nest in it I would give them a dollar. It was a success! Many of our bird houses had bird families living in them.

The birds are important to us for a number of reasons. Our family enjoys watching birds. The birds pay their rent by eating tens of thousands of flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. We noticed a significant decrease in flies and mosquitoes this year even though it was a wetter year than last year.

Last evening we were sitting on the back porch with some friends from Laurel. He wondered if we sprayed something to control the mosquitoes because there were so few of them. I said no, it is our bird and bat friends that provide the control.

A more financially significant reason the wild birds are important to us is that the barn swallows and tree swallows chase the hawks away from the chickens during the summer. We can tell when the swallows migrate south in the fall. We start seeing hawks circling overhead looking for a delicious, pasture raised chicken dinner.

Yes, our farm is for the birds. By inviting many species of birds (except the hawks and owls!), it makes a more enjoyable home for all the birds, both domestic and wild. And it makes a more enjoyable place for you and us as well.