Thursday, December 29, 2011

GMO vs Nature... Everyone Loses!

So when I saw this headline in today's news: Bugs may be resistant to GMO corn, I had to at the very least make mention of it.

When will people stop and realize that GMO's (genetically modified organisms) are BAD news. Despite what Monsanto, the leading most powerful player in the biogenetics field, and our government who is greatly influenced politically, bureaucratically, and monetarily by this bio-agri mega conglomerate would like us to believe, that GMO's will save the worlds starving nations, such meddling in natures work can only lead to one thing... death and destruction!

The simple fact of the matter is why should the maker of Round-up, a toxic pesticide that's sole purpose is to kill living things, have so much influence in shaping (controlling) the current and future paths of agricultural and medical fields?

Putting aside for a moment the factory farming notion that the industrial and manufacturing approach to agriculture, where the animal (pig, cow, chicken) is the widget, CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations) are the assembly lines, and government subsidized GMO monocrops (corn and soybeans) are the cheap labor (in this case food)... putting aside, just for a moment, that any of this is a good idea benefiting anyone other than the few greedy mega-corporations sitting at the top of this manure pile of a mess. Ask yourself this, who stands to gain from all of this? It's surely not you or me...

The truth is giving grains to animals as their primary (and only) food source is not only deadly to the animal, in the case of ruminant, and not only to humans, in the form of chronic inflammatory diseases, but also to the planet! The annual monocrop approach to agriculture, especially on such a global scale, promotes destruction. It drains the soil of any and all nutrients rendering the land infertile. It requires the use of chemical fertilizers in order for crops to grow in these man-made deserts we call the "fruited plains". It requires pesticides to ward off insects that thrive on such nutrient lacking immune deficient plants that would otherwise have a thriving chance in a more natural perennial polyculture approach.

And all of this leads to our current state of agriculture. One where life be it human or grain is manipulated at its very core (DNA) and patented. One where these GMO seeds produce their own chemical pesticide and or seeds that won't grow without being sprayed (with pesticides), pesticide produced by the very company that patented the seed of course (Monsanto). And this greed and power driven nightmare has even led to suicide seeds that won't germinate and therefore cannot reproduce. One where genes that would otherwise cause a tortured animal (say a chicken or pig) to become distressed and aggressive in nature, to instead be indifferent to its immediate environment.

If all of this sounds as appalling to you as it does to me, then do something about it! Buy all your meets, eggs, and dairy products from local organic sustainable grass fed farms! Befriend your local farmers! Know where your food comes from! Demand change!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you support pharming or farming?

When you read phrases such as "free-range" and "cage free" or "raised without antibiotics" or "no antibiotics or hormones added" you would assume as anyone would that these meant just that, but unfortunately we live in a world where words and phrases can be (and are) manipulated as easily and as often as the very food these phrases are associated with.

Free range and cage free to someone who cares about their health, that of the animals, and for that matter the world around them, stands for the animal FREE to be itself and do as it would without man's intervention or should I say oppression. Or as someone like Joel Salatin the man at the forefront of beyond organic sustainable farming might say, "to allow the animal to fully express its physiological distinctiveness."

To the world of industrialized farming, words like free-range are nothing more than a way to profit on the public's growing "want" for organic products. To them it means access to the outside. It does not have to be more than a small opening nor does it mean that any of the birds will ever find their way out there, especially since they are raised indoors in crowded buildings on cold hard floors with minimal if any lighting; oh does this sound familiar (CAFO). The truth is even if the few birds that are closest to this opening to the outside manage to venture out, there does not have to be any viable grass for which they can, well, be chickens!

To the world of CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) the words cage-free means something like 200 birds shoved into an enclosure, instead of one bird to a cage... sounds like freedom to me!

To the naive yet ignorant consumer who wants to "eat healthier" without having to put much personal effort into the cause might expect "raised without antibiotics" or "no antibiotics or hormones added" to simply mean just that, but unfortunately in a world where the grain industry (animal feed) owns the most real estate in our corrupted misguided food pyramid, such phrases are more misleading then the "exit this way" signs in an Ikea store. When companies like Tyson or Purdue have found ways to inject eggs with antibiotics before the chick ever hatches, I think it's time to rethink your grocery store food selection.

So what does this mean to you the consumer? Everything actually!

In a world where nearly everything on the food pyramid (meats, dairy, eggs, grains, and junk food) are tied directly to one or both of the two largest monocrops in the world (corn and soy), and with nearly all these grains (and legumes) produced being GMO's and heavily sprayed and nutrient deficient, we need to now more than ever rethink our food choices. We need to start taking the notion that we are what we eat, literally! And living by it! We need to see beyond that notion, and into "we are what our food eats"!

We need to understand that when we (mankind) feel we're justified without consequence to manipulate all plants and animals for our own selfish needs and as far as current biotechnology will allow, feeding the ever hungry agricultural machine that is factory farming, we create a world dependent upon pharming (not farming). A world where the lines between farming and science & engineering have become increasingly blurred and nonexistent.

This is not the world I want to live in, and so I choose to eat food... real food! Locally grown organic sustainably farmed food! And in turn I get rewarded with a healthy lifestyle and healthy conscience!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Hurtles to a Healthy Lifestyle

The path to a healthy lifestyle can be a tough journey with many obstacles in the way, but these hurtles we must overcome are often mentally more difficult than physically. In fact I would say that it's at the very least a 90% mental struggle, making it tougher and tougher to swallow the deeper you dig into what you thought you knew about our food industry.

I will call this challenging road to a healthier you a Double Obstacle Course, and I have to thank my cousin for putting it this way based on his own journey.

  1. The first obstacle is the obvious "I want to stop poisoning myself" hurtle that usually results in replacing all non-organic foods with organic. This of course could be broken down further, into the "replacing a heavy processed food based diet with more fresh fruits and veggies" step, inevitably followed by the "replacing the fruits and veggies and existing processed packaged foods with the organic variety" step, but for the sake of this post we will just lump it all together into "moving from non-organic to organic". The mental issue with this step is twofold; the first is wrestling with the dilemma "does everything really have to be organic?" After you finally come to the realization that non-organic foods are poisoning you with cancer causing chemicals, be it the heavily sprayed (pesticides) foods or those that get inundated with chemicals during processing and packaging or simply from the start either as a GMO or a test-tube concoction made to taste like real food, and only after you wrap your mind around that must you then wrestle with the cost... unfortunately an unhealthy diet is far cheaper (at checkout) then a healthy one, but that of course is where the savings stops. With the insane unfathomable amount of money the average American pays into health care, I think it becomes clear quickly that cheap at checkout equals paying for it for the rest of your life...
  2. The second hurtle in the obstacle course is the "I want the food I'm eating to actually have some health benefits", and this is a much higher mental hurtle. Because it's this obstacle that makes you question the integrity of everything; our food industry as a whole, the greedy corporations that control it, the corrupt "watch dogs" that are supposed to protect us from this sort of thing (FDA), and unfortunately the abuse of such words as "organic", "free-range", "FDA approved". Just when you think you're eating healthy because the store bought chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and milk are organic and or free-rang you find out that these products are simply not doing you any favors. Unless you have been to the farm and met the farmers and see the animals walking eating and lounging in their natural state (outside in grassy fields), the use of the words organic and or free-range meets, eggs, and dairy are still the result of factory farming (grain fed). As we should all know by now grains, man made (domesticated) annual monocrops, are not the appropriate sole-source or even primary source of dietary intake for any domesticated farm animal that ultimately evolved to graze and forage. Once you've wrapped your head around this basic principle, you have to be ready willing and able to ask what is the damage this causes, who lets this happen, and why?

Our food industry is broken, badly, and corrupt from the top down, but the average person doesn't see any of this because they are so disconnected from the food they eat that so long as the grocery store's shelves are stocked with their favorite meal who cares what it's actually made of or how it got there... it's this ignorance that makes that second hurtle such a doozy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grains, a double edged sword

Grains have been a staple for any and all agricultural based societies, and in the last 40 years or so the push for "whole grains" has gone from primarily breads to sugary overly processed junk foods. So what makes this intense push for whole grain consumption so dangerous? The agonizing side effects that are drastically on the rise... grain allergies!

Grains contain lectins (sugar binding proteins) and they don't break down very easily. They do a very good job resisting even the most extreme environment of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, even when they've been soaked and cooked prior to consumption. In fact more than half of these lectins consumed can remain "immunologically" intact within the digestive tract, and as with all partially undigested foods this can lead to serious damage. As those with food allergies know all too well, when any concentration of undigested food particles enters the intestines the intestinal wall becomes compromised allowing some particles to pass through. Once in the bloodstream these foreign proteins wreak havoc on the body, and in response the body's natural defense is for the immune system to wage an all-out attack. This natural inflammatory response is the allergic reaction that allergy sufferers are all too familiar with. But here is where things get a bit more "cloak and dagger"...

"The profound destruction that lectins are capable of lies in the autoimmune response they can trigger. The protein sequence in some lectins is almost identical to tissues in the human body. Once the lectins pass through the compromised tight junctions and into the bloodstream, they cause tremendous and tragic damage in a process called molecular mimicry." The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith page 150-151

They can resemble or even mimic protein sequences in other grains which can cause those with a gluten allergy to be allergic to gluten free grains or vise versa. Perhaps even more dangerous though is their ability to mimic protein sequences within the body itself, such as joint cartilage or the sheaths that cover nerves. Others mimic sequences found in various organs like the kidneys and pancreas. This basically results in the body attacking itself.

So what does all this mean? From the author of "The Vegetarian Myth" Lierre Keith's point of view, we (humans) are meat eaters and are not designed by nature to consume grains, especially not to the extreme that we as a society do. From my point of view... I don't know if I have a definitive opinion yet, but being as driven as I am to achieve optimal health without the aid of modern medicine I am surly open to new theories; so long as their not backed by greedy corrupt mega corporations.

I will say though that knowing this (possible truth about grains) makes me very happy and proud of my freezer full of local organic grass-fed meats!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Go Bare... foot that is!

A recent article "Barefoot running: bad or beneficial" has prompted me to write about a nonfood topic that I feel I have enough personal experience to comment on. When it comes to feet there are two sides of the fence; those that believe the over abundance of cushioning and support in modern day shoes and sneakers are crucial for maintaining healthy feet, and those that feel all of the cushioning and so called support in today's footwear simply restricts natural movement, obstructs muscle activation, and prevents natural gate corrections by driving 2+ inches of rubber between your foot and the ever changing environment beneath it.

I stand walk and run on this more nontraditional side of the fence, and I have the best kind of data and facts to back it up... my own recovery from painful foot injuries that was only made possible from the motivation and desperation that came to me as I limped out of the podiatrist's office disgusted disappointed and fed up for the last time.

It was about 4 years ago when I was diagnosed with severe tendonitis in me feet, which started in one and eventually affected both, and would plague me for 2 years. In that time, especially in the beginning I followed the more traditional path of primary care doctor, pain meds, specialist (Podiatrist), more pain meds, a few noninvasive procedures some costly and not covered by insurance, lots of rehab, and molded orthotics which in turn lead to many more disappointing visits to the podiatrist's office. That's when I stepped out of traditional shoes and into a radical belief that today's modern day foot problems are caused by the very shoes and sneakers that were supposed to protect them.

The foot and ankle consist of more than 26 bones 33 joints and over 100 muscles tendons and ligaments and together they make up this very complex anatomical structure that allows us to stand walk and run upright. Unfortunately when we walk and run shod in today's over restrictive and overpriced footwear we prevent their natural movement and severely limit muscle activation that leads to muscle atrophy and will eventually lead to injury affecting either the feet, the ankle, the knee, and or the back. Our bodies were designed to walk on softer uneven surfaces causing the muscles in our feet to constantly flex and contract with our toes working almost as fingers slightly cupping the ground beneath them; none of this is possible in a pair of traditional running or walking shoes, heck you can't even feel the ground let alone any subtle changes in the landscape. It has also been observed that when running (unlike walking) we should strike the ground with the padded forefoot first and then come down with the heel as apposed to the heel first approach used by shod runners. And the former makes more sense, it is the most padded part of your foot and your weight is already forward by nature.

To get back to my story though, I went from the useless crutch the medical community calls an "orthotic" to bare feet when I walk (or run) on natural surfaces and MBT's when I walk on manmade surfaces. If you've never seen or heard of these shoes they are sort of half moon shaped on the bottom forcing your foot to travel a further more complete distance while activating the muscles that are traditionally not used with classic shoes or sneakers. I prefer these over barefoot on manmade surfaces because they do give some padding and shock absorption when walking over surfaces that are hard and flat (unnatural).

I have since been able to do something the podiatrist told me I never would... walk without orthotics!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And With This Seed You Will Rule The World

It seems more "Hollywood horror" than reality to think there could exist a handful of companies some privately owned with so much power, wealth, and political influence that they could run, better yet manipulate this countries... the world's food industry for their own financial gain, but it's true!

Cargil is the largest privately held corporation on the planet and they account for much of the global grain trade. They are one of about 6 companies that control nearly 75% of the grain handling facilities; they flood the market, they manipulate price, and they profit. The U.S. produces tens of billions of bushels of corn a year, half of which is exported and most of which is used for animal feed (cows, chickens, pigs, fish, etc.), and Cargil is one of maybe 3 companies that control over %80 of the corn being exporting. But their rule doesn't stop there, they are one of about 4 companies that control over 80% of the beef packing industry. Add to that ties into pharmaceutical and chemical companies as well as the oil industry, and it's easy to see that they are an agri-conglomerate with world domination on their minds.

Together with the likes of Monsanto, ConAgra, ADM and our government they will continue to dominate global control over what is produced, how it's produced, and how it's used, all for their own profit gain and our loss.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Local is Local?

I have been asked this question, in one form or another, numerous times when talking about the food that my wife and I eat; how local is local?

When it comes to food my wife and I always choose local organic when possible, but for many foods the definition of local changes slightly with the changing of the seasons. This means during the vegetable growing season as per your geographical location you should buy all your produce grown as close to home as possible; for the North East that means late spring (May) through early-mid fall (October-November). My wife and I are lucky enough to have a wonderful organic farm stand less than 5 min from our house, as well as a farmers market every weekend that hosts many organic farms from within our state. I also believe that during these bountiful seasons it is best to buy what is 'in season' for any particular month, that means spring veggies in the spring, summer veggies in the summer, and fall veggies in the fall. Unfortunately as with any growing season the end is inevitable and that's when we broaden our idea of local. During these "off season" months we keep produce purchases from within the U.S. How fresh can that organic produce actually be if it comes from the other side of the world? This also means some vegetables will have to be passed over until the next growing season since even California does not grow all products all year round. And even some of the ones they do are just not the same; that means no fresh tomatoes in December!

Just on a side note I try to make sure only to buy 'loose produce', nothing packaged in wrappers or plastic boxes, because even with organically grown products of this type when shipped from across the country (or world) they can still use small amounts of pesticides in packaging in order to prevent the item from becoming spoiled or eaten prior to sale.

Meats and eggs are the extreme exception to this rule; my wife and I ALWAYS buy our meats (beef, pork, chicken, and lamb) from local organic grass fed farms. I think this is very important and is the only way to ensure that you are indeed eating exactly what is advertised, and that is healthy meat from an animal that was raised in a healthy sustainable way. Yes you can buy 'all natural' or 'organic' or 'free-range or grass fed' meets from your local grocery store, it's where my journey started all those years ago, but they are not what is advertised and in my opinion do not taste very good. Why? Because these marketing terms like "all natural" or "free range" are skillfully manipulated and under regulated. Although I am not sure what actually constitutes "all natural" it most likely means that some of its ingredients originated from natural sources... so do most all pharmaceuticals but how natural are they? 'Organic' is another term that can be very misleading when it comes to the sale of meats. Organic beef for instance means the cow was fed organic corn and a grain-fed cow is NOT a healthy cow (see an earlier post on this subject). Another term often abused is 'free range'. To qualify for free range status the government says the animal only needs access to the outside, and says nothing about whether there is any viable grass for the animal or even whether the animal ever goes outside. This is why buying this type of meat from the grocery store often equals tough tasteless meat.

So do some investigating and find a local organic sustainable farm near you. I mean even a two hour drive once a weekend is local compared to the 12hr flight that exotic fruit traveled just to enter the U.S.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss

My blog is my soapbox, the outlet I choose to use when "preaching" about a way of life that I feel so passionately about... One where our food is obtained locally from organic sustainable farms. One where there is absolute transparency in our food industry from farm to table; you've visited the farms, you know the farmers, and you've seen the animals. In this scenario there is nothing to hide!

A healthy lifestyle is a choice you must make, but first you must be willing and ready to know the cruel unhealthy truth about the food you eat. And I'm not only talking about the obvious unhealthy diet of fast foods, junk food, sodas, etc., but also the non-organic produce and processed foods that make up more than 90% of your local grocery store. Most if not all of these so called healthy foods be it fresh produce or packaged goods are GMO's that contain enough cancer causing chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, waxes, food colorings, fillers and binders, preservatives) to alarm even the most naive shopper. And let's not forget about the handful of cancer causing chemicals our government allows "in trace amounts" in packaged foods that DO NOT have to be listed in the ingredients!

The truth is what you don't know can hurt you, and you can bet it already is!

Do the research and learn about the food you are eating.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Put Down That Protein Bar!

Being an ex-gym rat, a slave to the dumbbells and treadmills, I have consumed my fair share of energy/protein bars and shakes in a quest to reach my bodies "utmost potential". And it's that stigma, the one that says going to a gym and eating this garbage must go hand in hand, is why I feel many gym goers are unknowingly followers of a misguided and ironically enough unhealthy cult. Driven by the urge to supplement the typical American's unhealthy lifestyle of minimal activity and poor nutritional intake, these food manufacturers (if food is what you want to call it) have drilled it into our heads that in order to be strong and fit, and dare I say healthy, you must consume ungodly amounts of protein. Heck they even have so called nutritionist working at gyms along with trainers pushing these poor unhealthy eating habits.

And who says we need all this protein?

I hate to admit this since I am one myself, but Humans (as a whole) in today's society are by far the laziest species on the planet, and far lazier than our hunter-gatherer ancestors were. When is the last time we walked countless miles a day hunting and gathering our food? When is the last time we spent countless hours building shelter to protect us from the elements or making fire to keep us warm and safe? I mean if anyone needed tons of protein it was our ancestors! And lets be honest, since the gathering part of their lifestyle consumed less energy and was often more successful than the hunting part, it would have been a prime market for such protein infused products.

The truth is we have been dubbed a starving nation but not by quantity, not when you can super-size just about anything, instead we are starving due to the quality of our food. The average American's diet lacks nutrients in EVERY way, but the one thing it does not lack is protein. When is the last time you saw a restaurant or fast food joint advertising their new and improved more petite burger... No, protein is by no means a luxury anymore. It is there for the taking, cheap and super-sized for your eating pleasure. And I believe these unhealthy fad diets that ban carbohydrates of any kind have only fueled this blind quest for more protein.

Have you ever taken a second to examine what is in these protein bars that you so willingly consume? Let's take a look at the popular power bar, and remember none of these ingredients are organic or come from an organic sustainable source, and nearly all have been manipulated so many times in a lab that they don't even resemble in taste shape or color the food source they came from. This is why they must be chock full of sugar and flavoring... Note the 4 occurrences of sugar, 4 of the first 5 ingredient to be exact.


There is a healthier way to eat, it's called real food. Know and care about where your food comes from and you will be on your way to the healthier you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Permaculture Over Agriculture

I have been a proud supporter of local organic sustainable farming as the main source for all my meats and vegetables for some time now, but I never realized just how far and wide the destructive arm of agriculture reaches into the world around us leaving behind death and destruction in its wake!

I've only just begun reading The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keitho, and to say I was shocked just when I thought I couldn't possibly be shocked anymore would be an understatement. The things man has done or continues to do for his own selfish gain (that of the "greater good") and always at the expense of our health, our environment, and any poor creature that shares this planet with us, is just heartbreaking to learn about. I am not talking about the "senseless killing" of poor animals (cow, sheep, pigs, chickens) for our own glutinous urge to eat.. No that would be a vegan's standpoint, and that I am not. Instead I am referring to the damage we have done all in the name of agriculture.

Give a man some grains (cereal, flower, bread, etc.) and he can eat for a week, but give him some seeds and a plow and he will surely destroy the planet.

Around 12000 years ago man domesticated wild annual grasses into the grains we eat today; corn, wheat, rice, soy... ok that one's a legume but for arguments sake it's really all the same. Ever since man first put plow to field in some way shape or form, we have depleted the earth of nearly all its usable topsoil and destroyed entire ecosystems in the process. We cut down and clear forests and plow prairies, transforming a wild fertile landscapes of perennial polyculture into a monocrop of annual grains. We dam rivers in order to irrigate them without any concern for the ecosystems they support, and until the advent of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, when all the natural resources the land had to give were used up, we would simply move on to another poor unsuspecting plot of land.

Civilizations are built, wars are waged, social classes are formed, men are enslaved, and nature is destroyed all in the name of agriculture... I guess the plow is truly mightier than the sword!

So what is the alternative to agriculture as we know it? From what I'm learning it's called permaculture. It's about variety and maximizing resources while reducing and eliminating waist and pollution. It's about mimicking nature, because the truth is we DON'T know better!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Brain Evolves While Our Health Pays the Price

"Humans are qualitatively different from other animals because we manipulate the flow of energy and resources through the ecosystem to our advantage, and consequently to the detriment of other organisms. That is why we compete so successfully with other species. But with this success come some inherent failings, particularly in terms of our health."

When the topic of diet comes up people often rebut the notion that the "hunter gatherer" diet remains the healthiest and most ideal for humans, with the notion that our bodies have evolved along with our diets since our hunter gather ancestors roamed the earth about 10 thousand years ago. This may be true, to an extent, but it's important to remember that approximately 100,000 generations of people were hunter gatherers. This compared to only 500 generations which have depended on agriculture, and only 10 generations that have been around since the industrial age (industrial farming), and only 2 generations since highly processed fast foods have consumed our diets.

What may be most detrimental to our health however is the every so quickly shrinking biodiversity of foods (plant species) that make up our diets... Our prehistoric ancestors ate an estimated 100 to 300 different verities of plants over the course of a single year, Westerners seldom consume more than 20 to 30 and that's the more "health-conscious" of our population.

"Furthermore, agricultural biodiversity is shrinking as fewer species and varieties are made available for cultivation. Today 75% of the global food supply comes from a mere 12 crop species. Not only are we losing species diversity but we are losing varieties within those species. The demise of dietary diversity is exacerbated by modern processing, in which artificial chemicals instead of herbs are used to preserve, enhance the taste of, and add color or other properties to food. Our industrial diet is greatly weakened thereby in both nutritional and medicinal attributes, providing us with only the bare essentials of energy and protein."

Wild Health by Cindy Engel

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken Farmers... Lessons from the Wild!

"Chicken farmers too could learn valuable lessons from wild health. Red Jungle fowl live in the forest in small groups of fewer than 20 birds, with one cockerel controlling and protecting a number of hens. They scratch around on the forest floor, finding insects, worms, and fresh greenery to eat. They dust-bathe and sun their feathers to keep them clean and healthy, and when it rains, they preen themselves all over." Wild Health by Cindy Engel

If the above paragraph depicts the ideal life that any "domesticated" fowl could expect to live on whatever farm they call home, then what is being sold in the grocery stores around the country (and world) couldn't be further from ideal...

Due to selective breeding, and in today's world GMO's, it takes only ~42 days for a broiler chicken to grow to weight, this is half the time it took just 20 years ago. For industrial farming to be successful (profitable) quick and cheap must dictate production, at whatever cost necessary!

"This selective breeding means that muscle is being laid down before the circulation and heart have developed sufficiently to support the huge muscle load. As a consequence, the birds suffer circulatory problems and heart failure. On top of this, their bones are not strong enough to support their extra body weight, and lame birds die of thirst or starvation because they are unable to reach the automated food and water supplies. A staggering number of broilers suffer broken bones or other skeletal defects at any one time and thousands die of heart failure each day... The birds are kept indoors in dim lighting lest they get "excited" and attack one another. They trample on their dead companions, blister their feet in the acidity of their own excrement, and damage their lungs in an atmosphere of ammonia fumes, dust, and bacteria." Wild Health by Cindy Engel

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Disturbance... A Good Thing?

Joel Salatin, the head guru in "beyond organic" sustainable farming, preaches many things, some of which I've been lucky enough to hear in person as my wife and I were fortunate enough to take a trip to Virginia last year and visit his farm and experience his famous lunatic farm tour. One of the principles he preaches of as a successful sustainable grass farmer (as he calls himself) is the importance of disturbances in the land, and how this is not only essential but the way nature intended.

So where is this coming from you wonder? Since I've moved my chickens closer to the house for the winter in an attempt to let their spring/summer pasture rest and allow me to reseed where necessary for the spring, I have been plagued with the dilemma of how to give the chickens the amount of free range they are used to and deserve... I probably have just shy of an acre of property in my back yard, 3/4 of which has been their turf for the better part of 7 months, and because their coop isn't easily moved (I am still working on a mobile coop) the weekly field rotation I had been adhering to always consists of ~25 square foot of common area. This area was the reason for me wanting to reseed and move the chickens and coop closer to the house, which has inevitably resulted in much less yard for them to forage from.

This is where I remembered some of Joel's preachings, mainly his 30 min rant on disturbance as a natural occurrence in the wild and crucial in sustainable farming. You see I have an Island, for lack of a better term, of wild overgrown yard that separates ours and that of one of our neighbors. Its about 50-100 feet at it's widest point, and runs the depth of our back yard. It's mainly a handful of trees in the center outlined with forsythia bushes which bloom beautifully in the spring and wild raspberry bushes that feed us in late summer, but unfortunately the lack of "disturbance" in this area has allowed wild grape vines to overtake, strangle, and eventually kill whatever hosts lie in their path. So I took some of my poultry fence, bared the harsh briar patch like terrain, and gave my chickens a fenced in area that I can only imagine provides a cornucopia of insects, mice, and garter snakes; better referred to as chicken heaven!

In one days' time they already had much of the overgrown mess turned over dug up and cleared out, leaving only the trees (of course) and bushes. And that's when it hit me, if I partition off this Island of vines and thorny brush prior to the spring adding it to my rotational chicken pasture, I can accomplish two things; give my chickens a healthy natural buffet of protein, and clear this uninhabitable land at the same time.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wild Health... As Nature Intended!

So I have been reading this book Wild Health: Lessons in Natural Wellness from the Animal Kingdom by Cindy Engel, and I have to say this is a must read for all those that follow a more natural path to health and wellness. It is a very informative book packed with many examples of how wild animals not only stay healthy but rid themselves of sickness naturally, if and when it occurs. With the countless natural remedies out there for the taking and the animals instinctiveness to seek them out when in need is nothing short of amazing to me. Even with many of these herbs being toxic if consumed in excess or at the wrong time or alone (instead of in combination with another herb), it seems wild animals have mastered natures medicine cabinet.

One of the things she talks about is the contradicting views regarding the health of wild animals based on observations recorded of domesticated (or wild captive) animals. Whether it be lab rats or industrial (large scale) farm animals, when the animal is not given access to its natural habitat an accurate conclusion on the state of their ability to avoid and combat sickness and disease cannot be drawn. It was thought for many years (and still is today) that contact with wild animals is to blame for sickness and disease of farm animals, but in reality it's the poor immune systems of domesticated (or captive) animals that are to blame.

Cindy makes the point that in nature wild animals carry many pathogens, but it's their immune systems ability to keep the balance between the good and bad bacteria within the body at a safe HEALTHY level, that truly makes for a healthy animal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Came First the Chicken or the Soybean?

At first glance you may think the question seems, well ridiculous; I mean what does a chicken have to do with a soybean anyway... more than you think actually! And if you suffer from a soy allergy and or are one of those that haven't been brain washed by those who tout the soybean as a "super-food", you may want to choose your poultry and egg source wisely.

To answer the question though, you're right it really doesn't matter which came first. It does however warrant mentioning the connection between the two. Although examining the content of soy protein present in poultry and eggs is not a hot topic for researchers, one such study was performed by Professor M. Monica Giust and the results concluded the following

"The transfer of Isoflavones, a potent phytoestrogens found in soybeans, can indeed be manipulated by altering the soy content in commercial chicken feed."

Unfortunately soybean meal is the main ingredient of poultry feed (for both non-organic and organic varieties) used to alter the protein content in the feed itself. Having a handful of free-ranging chickens myself, I came across this unpleasant discovery the hard way and I found it very difficult to find an organic feed sold locally that did not contain soy. This of course, along with what I know and in turn despise about processed foods, led me to mix my own chicken feed made from organic whole oats, whole wheat berries, and whole corn... leaving the protein part of the equation to all of the insects (flies, worms, grubs, etc.) that my free-range birds find on my property.

So what can you do to insure the chicken and eggs that you eat are not packed with these potent phytoestrogens (soy)? How about make sure all of the meats, eggs, and dairy products you consume come from local organic free-range/grass fed sustainable farms.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Horseradish

Fresh Horseradish Root
Rice Vinegar

Cut up the horseradish root into small chunks, keeping track of your total amount. Pour the horseradish chunks into a blender of some sort (I use the bullet) and add the vinegar, about 3/4 of the total amount of horseradish you ended up with. Now blend the mixture until it takes on the horseradish consistency you are familiar with. If it's too thick add more vinegar.

But Be Careful!

This may be the most potent horseradish you have ever had!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food Allergy or an Allergy to our Food Industry?

Being a sufferer of food allergies (soy and dairy) and learning what I have since my diagnosis about diet, health, and our food system as a whole, I have come to believe the root of the allergy may have more to do with the "human element" and less to do with the food itself...

For instance take dairy allergies; there is a belief out there by some that grass fed unpasteurized milk is the only form of milk we should be drinking. So the question becomes, is it milk (or dairy products) people are allergic to or the pasteurization of corn fed antibiotic/hormone induced milk for which industrial farming produces that is wreaking havoc on the digestive systems of millions of people?

How about wheat or gluten allergies? There is a growing belief that GMO (genetically modified) grains as well as all of the chemistry that goes into the prepackaged overly processed garbage (for lack of a better word) that lines the shelves at the grocery store claiming to be "healthy sources of whole wheat" have more to do with this growing allergy than the wheat itself.

Does it make more sense that this every growing food allergy epidemic effecting millions of Americans is caused by the countless varieties of organic non-GMO foods provided by nature that the hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have allowed modern man to become adapted to?

Or would it be more logical to believe that food allergies have more (if not all) to do with the influence man has had, let's say since the 20th century, on our food industry in the form of industrialized farming, processing, and genetically modifying nature's bounty into whatever shape, color, taste, consistency, or DNA structure all together for the sole purpose of aiding the food manufacturer as it profits from this countries broken food system?

To me the answer seems obvious.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Knowing Is So Important

When I read headlines like the one I read today; "Flood of food imported to U.S., but only 2% inspected", it makes me really appreciate the local organic sustainable farmers that my wife and I so passionately support. If a headline like that doesn't scare you then how about...

"In 2010, FDA inspectors physically examined 2.06 percent of all food-related imports. The FDA expects only 1.59 percent of all food imports to be examined this year and even less — only 1.47 percent — next year, according to its Office of Regulatory Affairs."

Knowing where your food comes from is more important than ever, especially in today's world where our nation's food industry creates such an enormous disconnect between what the Average American eats and where its journey began. And it's this "overly processed food" world we live in where large multinational corporations and industrial farming have taken the place of small local farms, that have given rise to such occupations as "food scientist" while nearly eliminating the need for the local farmer.

I am not saying that everyone should hunt and gather their own food, although what a culture shock that would be, but rather simply making an effort to know who is growing the crops and raising the animals that eventually make their way to your plate will go a long way in reshaping our broken food industry. Demanding healthy food grown and raised in a healthy sustainable manor from a local farm whose better interests lie with their community and the land they live off of, rather than just turning a blind eye to a damaging unhealthy problem that is only getting worse is the best thing we can do to make a difference.

Support your local organic sustainable farms!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jellyfish and Industrial Farming?

So you're probably wondering what jellyfish and industrial non-sustainable farming have in common? A lot actually! And their connection, which is not an environmentally good one mind you, has implications that cause marine dead-zones that span the globe... and these nitrogen enriched bodies of water not only effect marine ecosystems but humans as well.

So what sparked this discussion? I have to admit it was this documentary on one of the nature channels, "The Rise of the Jellyfish", that brought my attention to this horrible mostly man-made atrocity. What really grabbed my attention though was the link between these jellyfish infused "dead-zones" and industrial farming. It turns out that nitrogen runoff from chemical fertilizers, as well as mass quantities of animal waist, seep into rivers and streams where they eventually make their way into the ocean sometimes spanning thousands of square miles hovering the coastline. These high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus create an algae paradise, so much so that massive algae blooms take over continually depleting the waters oxygen levels until they are so low that nearly all marine life in the area suffocates! All except jellyfish apparently... they thrive in such conditions! This ultimately has a rippling effect on not only the underwater ecosystem by those mammals on land (humans) that depend so heavily on the oceans bounty.

So what is the answer?

  • How about local organic sustainable farming!
  • How about using the land around you to farm in a natural non-detrimental way in order to feed local communities.
  • How about using nature's fertilizer; manure from herbivores (cows, sheep, etc.) or fowl to naturally fertilize the soil instead of relying on the nutrient depleting nitrogen infusing method of over tilling and chemically fertilizing.
  • How about more farmers raising grass-fed and free-range animals mimicking natures method of sanitizing the land (birds following herbivores as they scratch through the droppings), rather than adding to the influx of nitrogen in the soil with massive dumping sites for the mass quantities of manure that industrial farming produces.
  • How about we the consumer demand locally sustainably grown and raised products in season, instead of what you want when you want it for as cheap as you can get it.
  • How about caring about where your food comes from and how it got to your table, rather than taking the typical "I don't even want to know" stance.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Human Waste as Fertilizer????

I saw something about this some time ago, I believe it was on the Discovery channel but I'm not sure; "Human Waste used as Fertilizer". It was about a company in the U.S. that has found a use for something we Americans produce in mind boggling numbers... human waste. The more you research this subject the more instances you find; most of which are in developing countries, but not all. This particular family owned and operated company (the one I saw on tv) was in my opinion using today's increasingly popular "go green and recycle" creed to a disturbing extreme.

With what I've learned about sustainable organic farming, or as Joel Salatin likes to say "beyond organic", manure used for fertilizer must come from those herbivores and ruminants feeding on grass (cows, sheep, etc.) and or those foraging behind these grass eating creatures of this world (such as chickens), not people! Now I'm not a highly educated researcher in this field, but with a little common sense I think it becomes very apparent that what comes out of one end is a product of what goes in the other...

Americans as a whole ingest more toxic chemicals, be it pharmaceuticals, pollutants, pesticides, or the dozens of other chemicals our government allows in non-organic processed foods, so who in their right mind would think that using this as a fertilizer is a good idea? Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases and disorders plague our society in epidemic proportions, all of which can be blamed in one way or another on the typical American diet.

If what we are eating is killing us, then why would our waste make for good fertilizer?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pesticides and ADHD

How could I not post about this medical headline; Pesticides in food linked to ADHD in kids.

I really enjoy seeing articles such as this coming from the medical community. It takes much longer (if ever at all) for MD's to come to terms with what ND's as well as others following a more natural path have been preaching for some time now... There are no benefits to spraying our food with pesticides that outweigh the negative risks!

The article starts off by pointing out the correlation between the levels of pesticides in our food with the significant increase in children's risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Quoting Phil Landrigan, MD who is a professor and chair of the department of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; "It's mainly exposure through food. Diet is the driver."

One interesting point made towards the end of the article that is worth mentioning is the dangerous levels of pesticides in processed foods. Most people think about produce when the word pesticide is mentioned, but not usually processed foods even though processed foods probably make up more than 75% of the average American's diet. The point that the article makes is that due to GMO's (genetically modified organisms) in processed foods, primarily Soy and Corn, which have been engineered to by pesticide resistant, are highly sprayed crops contributing to pesticide exposure at dangerous levels.

And to further drive home this point, it's not just processed foods that you should be concerned about; don't forget if you're eating beef or pork or chicken or fish or eggs or any dairy products that come from animals that are not free ranged or grass fed, then you are essentially eating GMO corn and soy because that's exactly what they are being fed.

The only way you can be sure that you are doing all you can do to avoid pesticides in your food as well as making sure you are eating as healthy a diet as possible is to support your local organic sustainable farmers. This is why I continually post on the importance of organic locally and sustainably grown foods as the core of any healthy diet. Organic is important, but local organic sustainable farming takes "knowing where your food comes from" to a much more intimate level.

Remember this; you are what your food eats. If you know exactly what the cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens that eventually make it to your table are eating and how they were raised, and if you know exactly how the vegetables that are hopefully making it to your table were grown, then and only then can you be sure you are eating healthy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Natural Approach to Healing

This is a topic I have wanted to post about for some time now, but wasn't really sure how to make the transition from allergy free cooking to natural healing... well I think I have since made that transition over that past few years, so here is my official unofficial introduction.

I have been intrigued by this subject (Natural Healing) for some time now and have been practicing it religiously since I became aware of my food allergies. I have come to understand that any ailment the body is struggling to cope with, whether it be allergy related (both food and seasonal as well as asthma related), structurally based (tendonitis/arthritis/muscle and joint pain/etc.), or disease based (cancer/heart disease/diabetes/etc.) they are all diet related and all have some common link to inflammation.

Our bodies are stressed beyond levels that they were ever designed to be subjected to, and from nearly every aspect of our lives. We live in a very 'man-made' toxic world, and its how our bodies individually deal with these toxins that ultimately dictate our overall health. Whether they are the unavoidable toxins such as pollution from cars, factories, or the billions of tons of jet fuel dumped into the atmosphere every day, or those toxins we can avoid like the cancer causing chemicals in our food, drinking water, hygiene products, cleaning products, and in most all of the everyday products we come into contact with, the truth is our immune systems are being taxed to the extreme and it's our (your) job to do something about it!

I will conclude my introduction into a natural approach to healing with this basic creed for living healthy...

Stay healthy by eating organic locally sustainably grown foods whenever possible and 100% organic GMO free minimally processed foods to complement your diet; use only 100% chemical free organic hygiene products; use only 100% naturally derived household cleaning products, and avoid all products containing toxic chemicals.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fresh Organic Free-Range Eggs (part 2)

I wanted to post about feeding practices for free-range chickens, or should I say the obstacles you may encounter when trying to raise them the right way...

With all of the research I've done to date (mostly via the internet) in an effort to give my chickens the most natural life possible, or as Joel from Polyface would say "express their chickeness", I have found that the most useful information has come from the very person I got my 5 pullets from; the same organic sustainable farmer my wife and I buy our table birds and lamb from. His knowledge when it comes to organic sustainable farming is impressive, and unfortunately based on my experiences thus far I can say these practices are not practiced by many farmers. So why do I say this you ask?

When I started this man-chicken venture I was simply looking for a healthy source of free-range eggs for my family. My thoughts were simply; a few chickens, some organic feed, and all of the chemical free grass and clover, worms and other bugs my property had to offer. It didn't take long though before my free-range birds became *free-range birds; with the asterisk denoting "within bounds". Because they frequented my neighbor's yard more then I or my neighbors would have liked, I was forced to buy some electric poultry netting; currently I have 200ft of fence that I rotate when I feel the grass needs a rest. The fence surrounds a mulberry tree, giving them shade over part of their fenced in area, and the tree itself is surrounded by some raspberry bushes and about a 6ft radius of dirt and rocks, giving them an area to take dirt baths, hunt for bugs, and again cool off in more shade. I do plan to increase the size of their fenced in area, but for now the 200ft of fence is all I have to work with.

Since I was pretty satisfied at this point with the 'free-range' part of the equation, my attention quickly turned to their feed. Originally I had them on an organic layer mash that I purchased from a local supply store. Many of the "backyard chicken" books I read said that the "experts" prefer mash over pellets, because they (chickens) would get their fill of pellets too quickly and become bored... Does anyone see what's wrong with this sentence?

A chicken by nature has the right to live out its life as it would in the wild; let the chicken be a chicken. A wild chicken or game hen would never have the chance to be bored, so neither should yours. In order for a chicken to be a chicken you have to give it enough land (per chicken) to graze hunt and forage for food as well as plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and shade or cover when necessary. This means they need to be outside in the elements when they're not sleeping or laying, and from observing my chickens in the short 5 months or so that I've had them I can say that they have yet to look bored to me.

Now back to my feeding regimen... I was unhappy with the organic layer mash that I started with for two reasons; first it contains soy and second the grains are processed. To address my first concern, the soy, because I have a soy allergy and because I feel that soy is the root of all evil (mass produced chemical concoctions being passed off as food) I did not want it being fed to my chickens in any way! My second problem with the layer mash was although the ingredients were listed as "organic" the grains are processed; and just as I've learned with humans all grains should be eaten in their natural whole grain state, the same goes for chickens. A whole grain loses much (if not all) of its nutrients once it is broken down and therefore is not worth the energy it takes to digest this overly processed mash.

So what to do? Well I set out to buy a healthy organic medley of whole grains; whole corn, whole oats, and whole wheat berries. This is where I found it to be easier said than done... After contacting multiple feed distributors in 1-2hr radius I was only able to find one, a co-op less than a half hour from my house, that was able to get organic whole corn; even that took almost a month. This was due mainly in part because their distributors did not carry organic whole grains in their warehouses because no one is buying them. Needless to say I ended up having to get the other two whole grains from the natural health food store that my wife and I do some of our food shopping at. All in all when I did the math, per 50lb bag, the price was comparable to purchasing an organic soy-free layer mash off the internet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't be Fooled by Fluoride!

Since the 1940's the United States has been adding fluoride to the public drinking water supplies in an effort to "help prevent tooth decay", but a growing body of research is quickly debunking this fluoride myth.

I have read about the harmfulness of fluoride a number of times in various natural healing type books, but an article (and short video) that I recently came across on the internet has put any bit of doubt that may have still existed to rest for good!

The article "The bone destroying daily drink fooling millions of Americans" really drives home the point that ingesting fluoride not only does not help prevent tooth decay, but is slowly yet effectively poisoning those who ingest it. And it's not just the municipal water that's delivering this harmful neurotoxin; it's in any drink or food that is made from drinking water, as well as in anything made from non-organic fruits, vegetables, and other foods due to the fluoride in the pesticides they are sprayed with. The list doesn't end there though; it's in mechanically deboned meats, soy baby formula, processed cereals... The question really becomes what isn't it in? Or worse yet, what is all this fluoride doing to your body?

The scary truth is that this excessive consumption of fluoride is not only damaging your teeth and bones, but surprisingly enough will damage internal organs as well, including the brain!

Now if that doesn't make you angry enough how about the fact that despite what most dentists probably believe, the fluoride in our drinking water does not come from sodium fluoride but rather hydrofluoric salicylic acid; a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. They capture this poisonous byproduct during refinery and "clean it" turning it into hexafluorosilicic acid, and that is what is used to fluoridate our water.

I urge you to research this on your own and do what you can to stop this mass poisoning that the government allows! Use fluoride free toothpastes and mouth wash, eat organic locally grown fruits and vegetables, eat organic grass fed meats, poultry, and eggs, limit your fluoride intake as much as possible (stop entirely if you can), and urge your government to stop fluoridating (poisoning) our water!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cargill Recall

Organic sustainable farmers have been fighting for the right to process their own livestock for years, but the US Government to this day will only 'reluctantly' allow chicken to be processed at a non-government (USDA) regulated facility.

Farmers such as Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farm in Virginia have been preaching for some time now about the government's inability to protect the quality of food, in this case processed meats, as well as the local farmer can. Joel has been quoted countless times saying his chicken when tested for traces of salmonella, come in well below the average of any FDA approved facility.

Seeing headlines such as "Cargill recalls 36 million pounds of ground turkey", Cargill of course being the meat giant that basically dictates all mass-produced non-organic non-sustainably raised meats being sold in the US and around the world, I think only further drives home the point that our local sustainable farmers have been trying to make; "Clean Meat" can only come from local farmers who care about their community, the animals they raise, and the land they own!

Support your local organic sustainable farms!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fight the Summer burn with Wine!

I think this is a great article; "Drink wine, don't get sunburned", giving a great example of how nature can provide us with what we need to stay healthy, but I would like to add a bit a caution to this fairytale "drink for your health" belief.

I am a true believer in the powerful health benefits of fermented foods. They often have more nutrients then their un-fermented counterparts, so why should wine be any different?

My only advice is to go organic if it's the health benefits you're are looking for! With the wine industry as large as it is grapes have become a highly sprayed crop (pesticides that is), and that means if the wine you buy is not organic then you are probably doing more harm to your body then good. Another reason why you should make your choice of wines a healthy one, is most all of the big wineries add sugar to their wine during the fermenting process; the white refined extremely unhealthy kind of sugar that is, and we all know what that does to our health... not to mention your head the next day (hangovers)!

My wife and I buy our wine form a local organic winery, and the only sugar in their wine is from the grapes themselves. The wine tastes great and is reasonably priced!

Now I don't expect everyone to start going out and buying organic wine, but I would like to drive an important point home. Don't depend on non-organic foods (or drinks) for their many health benefits, because the unhealthy unwanted effects due to chemicals in these non-organic foods and drinks surely outnumber the many healthy qualities of the food itself.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Why buy sauerkraut when you can make arguably the best tasting sauerkraut you have ever had... and far more nutritious then whatever has been sitting on the grocery store shelf. The ingredients are few and the health benefits many!

1 or 2 heads (I have since graduated to 4 heads at a time)
Sea Salt-
1tsp per head (or to taste)

Slice the cabbage into the thin strips you are accustom to seeing in sauerkraut. In a large bowl mix together the cabbage and sea salt, really working it with your hands.

What you're trying to do here is use the sea salt as a natural desiccant, drawing the water out of the cabbage, so really squeeze and mash the cabbage with your hands.

Do this once every hour for about 4 hours (the more the merrier), letting it sit out on the counter between each "mashing".
Once you have drawn enough water out where the cabbage can be fully submerged in its own juices, it's time to let nature do its thing. Find a container to store the cabbage in like a crock, using something pressing down on top of it to keep it submerged; I use a medium size pyrex bowl with a mason jar filled with water inside the bowl for added weight. Do not cover the outer container that the cabbage is in, since the fermentation process will release gasses that need to escape. Let it sit for about 4 weeks in a cool dry area, and that's all there is to it.

This is a re-post of a previous "Recipe of the Week" that I put on my blog this past fall. I bring this up because even though I am posting this now I recommend making you sauerkraut in the fall/winter when cabbage is in season!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Detox Your Life

A headline in today's health news reads "8 easy ways to detox your life for better health" and I must say this is a long overdue topic to hit mainstream news.

It's not just cancer causing chemicals in our food that is affecting our society, it's the tons of chemicals that are in some of the everyday products that fill our homes and our lives that is slowly (but surely) killing us!

A piece of advice I read in a book once stated that "you should never put anything on your body or in your mouth that you wouldn't ingest", and although I took this statement lightly at first it has become a creed for which I do my best to consciously live by. But the impending danger goes beyond cosmetic and hygiene products.

We as a society have become too comfortable with the belief that if something doesn't have a warning label on it, it must be safe, when in reality many of the products (better yet smells) that we associate with "new" and "clean" are in fact carcinogenic. Case in point that new car smell you love, or the smell of new leather, or the smell of fresh dry cleaning, or the smell of any of the mainstream household cleaning products including air fresheners!

Needless to say stumbling across this article was a pleasant surprise. One note though, in the authors 5th (of 8) "easy ways to detox..." I think she should concentrate less on the wrappers and containers that fast food or takeout comes in, and focus more on the food itself. It's these quick and cheap meals that are doing more damage health wise than the wrappers (or containers) they come in will ever do.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fresh Organic Free-Range Eggs (part 1)

Part one in a series of many....

About 3 months ago my wife and I decided that we wanted to contribute to this "organic sustainable" lifestyle that we so passionately and actively support. Although I would love to have a farm similar to that of where we get our lamb and chicken (table birds) from, as my wife reminds me 1.25 acres is not enough land to have a ruminant (cow, sheep, etc.). So I (we) settled for chickens, and a better choice we couldn't have made!

Up until now we have been buying our eggs locally from some of the farms in our area, and although we strongly support our local organic farms we have always felt that eggs seemed to be an afterthought in most cases; something that they provide, but not their area of expertise for lack of a better word. So what better of a way to contribute to this lifestyle we live, 'local food raised right', then to raise laying hens... and so we did.

The benefits are many; fresh organic eggs every day, a highly nutritious food packed with vitamin D and Omega-3, some of the best natural fertilizer around, and the joy of knowing you are doing something right.

With the past 5 years or so of knowledge in the area of health and diet that I've gained from research, experience, and my own trials and tribulations, I wanted to make sure that we entered this venture of 'man and farm animal' with the same motto I like to live (eat) by; "You are what your food eats!"

Although the past 3 months or so that we've had the chickens (4 hens and 5 pullets) has been a learning experience for us, I have learned a lot and would like to share a few important things with you.

  1. Free Range, free range, free range! We currently have 200ft of electric fence surrounding a piece of our property which includes their coop, a mulberry tree, and plenty of grass and clover, and all the bugs they can find.
  2. Organic Whole Grains. Just as nutrient rich organic and unprocessed whole grains benefit your body where their processed counterparts fall short, they will surely benefit your chickens as well! I have recently switched, thanks in part to much insight from the local organic farm where we by our table birds, from an organic "layer mash" which is basically ground up grains and grain by products, to a diet consisting of organic whole wheat berries, organic whole corn, and organic whole oats.
  3. An Open Coop Policy! The bottomless coop we use, which we purchased locally from a retired man who builds them, is 8ft long by 4ft wide by ~5ft high, and aside from the nesting box area which takes up about 1/4 of the coop it is open to daylight and a cool breeze that comes right through the chicken wire that encloses all four sides. We keep the coop door open during the day so the chickens can freely come and go as they please. I plan to make a 2nd coop myself...
  4. Fresh grass for grazing daily! It is important that chickens have fresh grass to free range on, and that means grass that isn't covered with their, well, droppings... In the wild a grazing animal will eat and move, contently roaming in search of green pasture. They don't stick around to eat around there poop. If you have enough land (or very understanding neighbors) where your chickens can roam absolutely freely then this is not a problem, but if you contain them to a limited portion of your property then you must take an active role in resolving this issue. That means pasture rotation and or picking up the chicken droppings, I do both. Because I don't rotate the pasture every day, I collect the poop in a bucket (which ultimately ends up in my compost), in both the coop and their pasture.
  5. This may be the most important thing to remember, Enjoy! You will find that watching chickens do their thing is not only very relaxing but also funny at times.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Eat This... Or That!

There is a monthly article in a magazine I use to read titled "Eat This Not That", which basically compares two unhealthy meals, often from some sort of restaurant chain or fast food joint, detailing which one you should eat assuming you were torn between the two...

The sad thing is that this sort of question really speaks to the majority of our fast-paced on-the-go dare I say lazy society, and back about 5 years ago when I use to be an avid reader of this magazine this particular article made sense to me. Unfortunately this sort of dilemma, "How can I continue to eat this or that and still be healthy?", is exactly what is wrong with today's society.

Living a healthy lifestyle requires a number of important key factors are being met, one of which (and probably the most important) is eating healthy! The problem is however, most people want to eat healthy without giving up anything; convenience, low cost, quick meals.

Microwaves were NOT created in nature through billions of years of evolution!

They were created by and for a growing lazy fast-paced on-the-go society, and there is a deadly price that our society is paying for this "see no evil hear no evil" lifestyle; Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Chronic Inflammation in all its many forms.

It's time to get back to the basics, a simpler healthier lifestyle, one that's stems from a healthy diet!

  • Cook from scratch NOT from a box
  • Use only Fresh Locally Grown Ingredients
  • Know what's in your food and where it comes from
  • Support Local Organic Sustainable Farming
  • Don't Save Money on Cheap Food
  • Say HELLO to your kitchen and GOODBYE to your microwave
  • SLOW DOWN and ENJOY your meal... You earned it!
  • Live Happy and Healthy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

1 in 12 Kids may Have Food Allergies!

A recent headline reads "1 in 12 Kids may have food allergies", and nearly 40 of those affected have severe reactions!

With statistics like this you would think researchers, physicians, and the FDA would put the much needed time, effort, and money into where it's needed the most (our nation's food industry) and fix this broken system that is taking it's toll on an all too trusting public.

I have posted a number of times regarding my thoughts on what I feel is an obvious link between food allergies and the way we (as a society) eat, or more accurately what we're not eating. The average American is an ideal breeding ground for inflammation in all its many forms. This is an indisputable ugly fact with more and more evidence piling up in the form of diseases and disorders; heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, cancer, food allergies, and basically any other organ/tissue/muscle/tendon related ailment.

The majority of people have 12-20 times the amount of Omega-6 (which promotes inflammation) compared to Omega-3 (one of nature's best anti-inflammatories) in their body, and this equals trouble plain and simple. We live in an a fast paced world of quick and easy ready to eat overly processed pre-made meals that are high in everything that we don't need (saturated fat, sodium, omega-6, and countless cancer causing chemicals) and more or less lacking in anything beneficial to our health.

So what's the answer you ask?

How about this...

  1. Eat More LOCAL ORGANIC fresh produce and Eat Less pre-packaged already prepared non-organic "fresh or frozen" vegetables
  2. Eat More ORGANIC LOCALLY RAISED PASTURED meats, poultry and eggs and Eat Less of the corn-fed antibiotic and hormone infused non-organic grocery store bought kind.
  3. Eat Less processed foods and MAKE SURE those that you do eat are ORGANIC with minimal ingredients.
  4. Know Where you food is coming from and DEMAND ORGANIC SUSTAINABLE practices.
  5. MAKE MORE meals from scratch and STOP looking for meal shortcuts
  6. CARE about what you feed yourself and your family and STOP ASSUMING others have your needs and your health in mind.
  7. LIVE Happy and Healthy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wild Food, a "Berry" wise choice!

Wild Food sources may be one of the healthiest choices when it comes to diet.

Although I strongly believe in local organic sustainable farming when it comes to the vegetables, meat, poultry, and eggs that my family and I eat, what can be more organic and sustainable for that matter then wild food?

My wife and I are pretty lucky to have 4 types of fruit baring trees/bushes in our yard; a cherry tree and an apple tree (both very large and very old), 2 mulberry trees (also quite large), and wild raspberry bushes outlining the yard. Unfortunately the apple and cherry trees are so large that birds and insects are the only ones that have dibs on most of the fruit, although we do get some of the low hanging stuff, but the mulberry trees and raspberry bushes are a different story and June is when in all begins!

Now I'm not sure about the apple and cherry trees but I can tell you that raspberries and mulberries do grow wild in my area, so I will focus on them. The black mulberry trees in my yard have already started bearing fruit and my wife and I have taken full advantage of this. They taste great right off the tree, but since we pick them in bulk, we rinse them off and freeze them for later use; usually in shakes or smoothies.

The raspberry bushes are just starting to flower and soon we will be able to harvest them as well. They literally surround our yard and thanks to the many birds that feed on them as well, the bushes will sprout up practically anywhere in the yard if left uncut. Just like the mulberries they are great right off the bush, or frozen for future use!

Now I know not everyone is as lucky as we are to have so many fruit sources in their own yard, but you would be surprised to know how many wild food sources (fruits, nuts, seeds, and plants) may be in your area.

Do your research, and then find yourself a piece of reasonably local untouched chemical free (people free) piece of land in your area... your next meal is waiting to be picked.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Allergies and Inflammation

I would like to show the link between Allergies and Inflammation, and give my opinion on why I feel the dramatic rise in allergies (both food and seasonal) reported in the United States has a direct link to this country's food source.

As you know inflammation in one form or another is at the heart of most all of the rising health epidemics in this country; whether its Rheumatoid Arthritis, Tendonitis, Bursitis, cardiovascular issues such as heart disease, Cancer, Alzheimer's, Asthma, and many other diseases and disorders that affect nearly every organ in the body.

But what about allergies? Well we know that when the body suffers an allergic reaction, this reaction is an natural inflammatory response to what your body perceives as foreign, harmful, unwanted intruders within the body. The more severe the threat is perceived to be, the more severe the reaction.

Although this is a natural response by the immune system intended to protect the body, there is nothing natural about the dramatic rise in allergies as well as the severity of these allergies for which our population is suffering from. More and more children and adults alike are being diagnosed with severe allergies at an alarming rate, and its time the medical community sees the connection.

Now we've all been told been told the basics; take an Omega-3 supplement and eat a "Mediterranean" diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and poultry, while limiting your intake of red meat and eggs, depending on what the "latest studies" have shown in a given year... That's where it stops though, and THAT is where the problem lies!

Omega-3 fatty acid is probably one of the most important anti-inflammatories that nature has provided us with, but the problem is we are not getting it naturally. Nature has provided a healthy menu rich in Omega-3 for all of its Herbivores that natural free-graze or free-range to dine from (grass and or plants), on the other hand industrialized farming has conveniently cut this healthy food source out of their diet and replaced it with grains (primarily corn) which are naturally high in Omega-6; this goes for all of the beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs that you will find at the grocery store as well as at any fast food joint and at most all restaurants.

So it is no wonder that the healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 that must be maintained within the body (approximately 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3) has been drastically distorted to the extent of 10:1 (to in some cases nearly 20:1) for the average American!

Omega-6 in excess promotes inflammation while Omega-3 has been said to act as microscopic ice packs working from within the body to reduce inflammation.

My point is this, you can't put out a gas fire by sprinkling some water on it. Unless you cut off the fuel the fire will continue to burn, and the same goes for inflammation within the body. You can't simply say take an Omega-3 supplement and maintain a diet of fish and poultry (instead of red meat), if the fish and poultry you are eating are fueling the fire.

Make sure you eat only organic pastured meats, poultry, and eggs, all rich in Omega-3, and stop inflammation at the source!

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