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!


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