Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:03:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Owning A Chicken: Expectations Versus Realityhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/owning-a-chicken-expectations-versus-reality/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/owning-a-chicken-expectations-versus-reality/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:03:17 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16937 Rodale’s Organic Life by Doug Clinton Source: Simon Grubb Having the freshest eggs on the block can be harder than you think. 1. EXPECTATION: YOU WILL JOIN AN AWESOME COMMUNITY OF ECO-FRIENDLY TRENDSETTERS. Reality: Your hip new lifestyle choice may be a nuisance to your neighbors. In many communities, neighbors have complained about the noise and smell. In some cases, the disputes have even gone to court. 2. EXPECTATION: YOU WILL HAVE ALL KINDS OF CUTE

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Rodale’s Organic Life
by Doug Clinton

Source: Simon Grubb

Having the freshest eggs on the block can be harder than you think.

1. EXPECTATION: YOU WILL JOIN AN AWESOME COMMUNITY OF ECO-FRIENDLY TRENDSETTERS.

Reality: Your hip new lifestyle choice may be a nuisance to your neighbors. In many communities, neighbors have complained about the noise and smell. In some cases, the disputes have even gone to court.

2. EXPECTATION: YOU WILL HAVE ALL KINDS OF CUTE PETS TO CUDDLE.

Reality: Your have to be careful when you cuddle. You may associate Salmonella with undercooked meat, but it’s a danger in live poultry, too.  Be sure and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your new pets.

3. EXPECTATION: YOUR HOMEMADE CHICKEN COOP WILL BE A WONDER OF ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN.

Reality: Your priority will be keeping your coop clean, not getting it featured in Architectural Digest. Chickens use their coops for eating, sleeping, and yes, pooping. An unhygienic coop can lead to diseases, such as coccidiosis.

4. EXPECTATION: YOU’LL HAVE FRESH EGGS EVERY MORNING.

Reality: You’re tearing your hair out to figure out why they won’t lay. In the wild, chickens laid eggs in the spring and summer, but you can usually expect a domestic bird to lay about every 24 hours, but not always. Common reasons for them not laying are stress, incorrect feedings, and disease.

5. EXPECTATION: KEEPING CHICKENS SAFE IS EASY.

Reality: Chickens have more predators than you realize. In residential areas, domestic dogs can be a threat. Other predators include cats, raccoons, oppossums, rats, skunks, and birds of prey such as hawks, eagles, and owls.

6. EXPECTATION: YOUR HOBBY WILL RESULT IN LEARNING MANY INTERESTING THINGS.

Reality: You may be overwhelmed at first with all there is to know. Some great resources are Backyard Chickens.com and My Pet Chicken.com

7. EXPECTATION: FRIENDS WILL BE JEALOUS OF YOUR EXOTIC NEW PETS.

Reality: Your friends may laugh at how much work you’ve made for yourself. Make no mistake, it’s hard work. It can also be loud, smelly, and time consuming. Be sure you’re ready to make the commitment.

8. EXPECTATION: YOUR PERFECT BACKYARD WILL BE EVEN MORE STYLISH.

Reality: You can probably kiss that perfect backyard goodbye. Although chickens gobble up weeds and insects, they aren’t going to leave your garden vegetables alone out of respect. You’ll need to isolate your plants from your birds, and you might also want to start thinking about what to do with the manure—chickens produce up to 45 pounds a year!

9. EXPECTATION: YOU’LL EMBRACE NATURE AND BE IN TUNE WITH THE WORLD.

Reality: You’ll need to be tuned in to your chickens. It’s a good idea to put your birds in their coops at night for safety, which means getting up early to let them out again in the morning. Like any other pet, they’ll need food and water, but they’ll also need grit to help them digest their food.

10. EXPECTATION: YOU WILL START SELLING EGGS, BECOME A TYCOON, AND QUIT YOUR JOB.

Reality: You’ll have to keep your job. But the eggs are worth it.

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Maryn McKenna: What Do We Do When Antibiotics Don’t Work Any More?http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/maryn-mckenna-what-do-we-do-when-antibiotics-dont-work-any-more/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/maryn-mckenna-what-do-we-do-when-antibiotics-dont-work-any-more/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:59:12 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16934 YouTube TedTalks with Maryn McKenna Penicillin changed everything. Infections that had previously killed were suddenly quickly curable. Yet as Maryn McKenna shares in this sobering talk, we’ve squandered the advantages afforded us by that and later antibiotics. Drug-resistant bacteria mean we’re entering a post-antibiotic world — and it won’t be pretty. There are, however, things we can do … if we start right now. Antibiotic resistance—disease bacteria’s facility in developing defenses against compounds that would

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YouTube
TedTalks with Maryn McKenna

Penicillin changed everything. Infections that had previously killed were suddenly quickly curable. Yet as Maryn McKenna shares in this sobering talk, we’ve squandered the advantages afforded us by that and later antibiotics. Drug-resistant bacteria mean we’re entering a post-antibiotic world — and it won’t be pretty. There are, however, things we can do … if we start right now.

Antibiotic resistance—disease bacteria’s facility in developing defenses against compounds that would kill them—has always existed; the first resistance against penicillin appeared before the drug even reached the market. But the ways we have chosen to over-use and mis-use antibiotics, in medicine and in agriculture, have accelerated the emergence of resistance beyond what we can combat. And because of that acceleration, pharmaceutical companies have mostly backed away from making new antibiotics, arguing—reasonably, from their point of view—that the drugs no longer make economic sense.

Because of those intertwined phenomena, we’re now in a situation that is unique in human history: illnesses and deaths from infectious disease are rising again. Whether it’s resistant Klebsiella, KPC, spreading east across the planet from the United States; or NDM-carrying E. coli moving West from India; or totally drug-resistant TB popping up unpredictably in the Near East; or “pig MRSA” and highly resistant foodborne illness emerging from agriculture—the bugs are on the ascent. And we have a limited window of time in which to block their advance.

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After ‘Swimming in Pesticides’ for 20 Years, One Woman Takes a Standhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/after-swimming-in-pesticides-for-20-years-one-woman-takes-a-stand/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/after-swimming-in-pesticides-for-20-years-one-woman-takes-a-stand/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:49:21 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16930 HuffPost by Hilal Isler Source: Nellie76 At the age of 21, and after just three months of courtship, author Theresa Weir married an apple farmer. Back then, she “was young and naive,” she says; her notions of living on a farm “idealized.” “Farm life was nothing like I’d expected it to be,” she wrote in a recent essay, “and I spent the next 20 years swimming in pesticides.” At age 42, her husband died of cancer.

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HuffPost
by Hilal Isler

Source: Nellie76

At the age of 21, and after just three months of courtship, author Theresa Weir married an apple farmer.

Back then, she “was young and naive,” she says; her notions of living on a farm “idealized.”

“Farm life was nothing like I’d expected it to be,” she wrote in a recent essay, “and I spent the next 20 years swimming in pesticides.”

At age 42, her husband died of cancer.

“Just like his father and grandfather,” Weir writes, “all three of them subjected to years of chemicals used in the orchard.”

Her memoir about those years, The Orchard, became an Oprah magazine-pick, and a featured title in Entertainment Weekly.

Today Weir, who spends part of the year in rural northern Wisconsin, is a New York Times and USA Today-bestselling author of over 30 books.

I caught up with her recently, to ask about her journey as a writer, and an activist:

HI: Tell us a bit about yourself.

TW: I’ve lived in many places, but was born in Burlington, Iowa, where a portion of The Orchard takes place. I went to high school in the little desert town of Artesia, New Mexico. I have no college education, and I began writing in my early twenties.

HI: How did you meet your late husband?

I met my farmer husband while working at my uncle’s bar in Illinois. He showed up one evening and began courting me. He was funny, and he liked to draw. That’s all we had in common, but three months later we were married. I was 21 and he was 23.

I had this idealized notion of getting back to nature and the land. I imagined myself barefoot with a baby on my hip, raising crops and canning organic vegetables.

HI: And was it like that?

TW: Farm life was nothing like I’d expected. At night, pesticides drifted in our bedroom window while we slept. During the day, the poison coated the sheets and clothes I hung on the line. It was all around us. I was horrified by what I witnessed, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

HI: From there, how did you become a writer?

TW: I’ve always had a strong drive to create, but the isolation of my new life sparked a different creative urge. Living in that isolated world, I started writing genre fiction. At that time I didn’t know any other writers, and knew nothing about submitting manuscripts. I began mailing manuscripts to the publishing house addresses I found in books. My first sale was to Simon & Schuster.

HI: Then you wrote a memoir.

TW: I’m not the typical memoir writer. I’ve never liked to talk about myself, and I was happy writing genre fiction. But I’d had this unique experience that had taken place in a secret world known only to a small group of people, this weird and awful and wonderful life in which I’d married a farmer, moved to his planet, observed his culture, had babies, and returned to tell people about it.

Along with my experience, I had years of writing under my belt. In a way, I felt an obligation to tell my story–a documentation of eighties farm culture.

HI: What do you want readers of The Orchard to walk away with?

TW: Most of the events in The Orchard took place some time ago, but sadly not much has changed.

Apples continue to be the most pesticide-laden fruit in the country.

I think people need to know what’s happening and what has happened. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that farmers aren’t to blame. The market dictates what crops are raised and how they’re raised.

Farmers couldn’t sell imperfect produce, and a lot of farmers paid the price for that perfection. Many men and women died to provide food for our tables.

The United States as a culture seeks perfection in everything, and no one person is strong enough to stand up to that culture, but fortunately, today we are all more educated consumers.

HI: Was it hard for you to write about that culture?

TW: Before writing The Orchard I didn’t think about the emotional toll it would take. Life on the farm was a past I’d worked hard to put behind me. Immersing myself in that past for a year and a half was just plain awful.

HI: What quality did you rely on, as a writer, to help you get through that?

TW: I’m stubborn. I don’t give up.

Theresa Weir writes fiction under the pen name Anne Frasier. Visit her online.

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This Changes Everything: Our Imperative to Respond Intelligentlyhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/this-changes-everything-our-imperative-to-respond-intelligently/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/this-changes-everything-our-imperative-to-respond-intelligently/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:10:07 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16949 The Call of the Land Steven McFadden “Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews. Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” ~  Naomi Klein Author Naomi Klein has stepped forward once again with a book – This Changes Everything – that is compelling, momentous, consequential. Her work weaves science, geopolitics, economics, ethics and activism to

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The Call of the Land
Steven McFadden

“Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews. Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” ~  Naomi Klein

naomi kleinAuthor Naomi Klein has stepped forward once again with a book – This Changes Everything – that is compelling, momentous, consequential. Her work weaves science, geopolitics, economics, ethics and activism to sound a sane yet urgent call to action.

In this context, farms and food are keys to the challenges that require action, and to the solutions.

Our current global economic models, Klein writes, are waging war against life on earth. This economic war has unleashed pervasive and accelerating climate chaos. This does indeed change everything.

Confronting this reality is no longer about recycling paper bags and changing the light bulbs. It’s about changing the world before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe.

“Either we leap,” Klein writes, “or we sink.”

It is with increasingly sharp appreciation of these realities, and with full respect for the enormity of the challenge we face for ourselves and our children, that I undertook this year the task of writing Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

The book is also a manifesto, though of a narrower scope. Awakening Community Intelligence is a call to households, communities, and organizations of all kinds to directly and actively engage with farms to establish hundreds of thousands of CSAs around the world. This might not change everything. But it would change a lot and in so doing it could make a big, positive difference.

Community farms in their many possible permutations represent new thinking. They hold tremendous potential for economics, the environment, human health, and social well being. CSA farms – on a far more widespread and innovative national and global scale – have potential to serve as stabilizing community cornerstones in our era of raucous transition.

The imperative matters concerning our life on planet earth will be brought into sharp relief this week when the Roman Catholic Church hosts ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.’ Ms. Klein has been invited to play a key role in this landmark conference, which will focus on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on Ecology.

The thrust of the conference is toward economies and lifestyles that work in justice and balance for people and planet. CSA farms, I submit, can play an increasingly important role as we go forward.

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The Real Reason General Mills Will Cut Fake Flavors from Cereals Like Trix and Lucky Charmshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/the-real-reason-general-mills-will-cut-fake-flavors-from-cereals-like-trix-and-lucky-charms/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/the-real-reason-general-mills-will-cut-fake-flavors-from-cereals-like-trix-and-lucky-charms/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:35:40 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16926 The Washington Post by Drew Harwell Source: Mike Mozart Breakfast behemoth General Mills, maker of Trix, Reese’s Puffs and Lucky Charms, said Monday it plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from its cereals by 2017, becoming the latest food giant to swap out the additives in response to changing American tastes. Instead of dyes like Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 6, Trix’s crunchy rainbow corn balls will be colored by turmeric, a yellow spice in curries and mustard,

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The Washington Post
by Drew Harwell

Source: Mike Mozart

Breakfast behemoth General Mills, maker of Trix, Reese’s Puffs and Lucky Charms, said Monday it plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from its cereals by 2017, becoming the latest food giant to swap out the additives in response to changing American tastes.

Instead of dyes like Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 6, Trix’s crunchy rainbow corn balls will be colored by turmeric, a yellow spice in curries and mustard, and juice concentrates of blueberries, radishes and strawberries. Artificial vanilla will be replaced by the real stuff in the peanut-butter-loaded Reese’s Puffs.

“People eat with their eyes, and so … the trick is, how can we maintain an appealing look, just not using the artificial colors?” said Jim Murphy, the president of General Mills’s cereal division. “People don’t want colors with numbers in their food anymore.”

The flavors won’t change, General Mills senior manager Lauren Pradhan said, and there will be “minimal to no changes in nutrition.” Still, some breakfast bowls will undergo a bit of a makeover: The new Trix, for instance, will kill off its fluorescent blue and green puffs, which chemists found hard to color without artificial dyes.

The move puts General Mills in the same food-conglomerate camp as Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Kraft, which over the last year have loudly removed mostly-harmless additives in hopes of making their foods look fresher or more natural.

But food experts said General Mills’s changes are merely a marketing ploy, intended to make their cereals appear to be a healthier addition to breakfast bowls.

“These companies are desperate to keep parents buying these really unhealthy foods … and now they can trumpet ‘no artificial dyes’ as if that makes it a health food,” said Michele Simon, a public-health attorney and president of Eat Drink Politics, a food-industry consulting firm.

“These kid-oriented cereals are still extremely processed, have virtually no nutritional value and are fortified with vitamins because the real nutrients have been stripped in processing,” Simon added. “If they really wanted to be healthier, they should stop bombarding children with messages to eat candy in a box.”

About 60 percent of General Mills’s cereals — like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cheerios, Kix and Total — are already free of artificial colors, but the rest of the company’s cereal aisle will drop the fake stuff by 2017. Prices won’t change, the company said, when the new Trix and Reese’s Puffs hit shelves this winter.

Kate Gallagher, a company cereal developer, said some of the fake-ingredient removals have proven “more challenging than others.” In Trix, “red is one where we haven’t been able to get that same vibrant color, but we’re still able to get a nice red that pops in the cereal bowl and is still a fun eating experience.”

The most herculean change, the company says, will come from removing fake colors and flavors from marshmallow-loaded cereals like Lucky Charms and Count Chocula because the spongy sugar balls are harder to reflavor than flakes of grain. “We are committed,” Gallagher added, “to finding a way to keep the magically delicious taste.”

The Minneapolis-based General Mills is one of the world’s biggest food giants and sold about $18 billion of Betty Crocker, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Pillsbury, Old El Paso and other brands worldwide in fiscal year 2014.

But the cereal industry has struggled as foods like Greek yogurt and snack bars have taken over the breakfast table. Cereal is still America’s favorite morning food, but U.S. sales have crumbled 5 percent over the last five years, to about $11 billion, data from market researcher Euromonitor show.

The company, Pradhan said, began working on this “one step in our larger cereal journey” three years ago, as more buyers showed a growing preference for natural flavors and simpler ingredients. A General Mills survey conducted by Nielsen found about 49 percent of households are trying to avoid artificial flavors and colors, the company said.

“We want to make sure cereal is relevant for our families today … so we’ll be on breakfast tables for the next hundred years,” Pradhan said. “If these ingredients are stopping them from enjoying cereal in the morning, we want to remove them.”

Artificial dyes are, of course, not health food, either. And General Mills has taken some steps to better their food, including reducing sugar in cereals like Cookie Crisp and Lucky Charms, from about 12 grams to 10 grams per serving. But advocates say the cereal remains worryingly sweet, a problem that simply taking out artificial additives won’t fix.

“What they’re looking to do is trim around the edges, doing whatever they can do that doesn’t change their business model but looks like they’re making a change,” said Simon, the public-health lawyer. That’s because real health-aimed improvements “like not marketing them to children or to parents who probably shouldn’t be feeding their kids candy for breakfast … would take too serious a toll on sales.”

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DDT Quadruples Breast Cancer Risk, First-of-Its-Kind Study Showshttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/ddt-quadruples-breast-cancer-risk-first-of-its-kind-study-shows/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/ddt-quadruples-breast-cancer-risk-first-of-its-kind-study-shows/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:07:08 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16921 Rodale News by Leah Zerbe Exposure to DDT in the womb significantly increases breast cancer risk years later, scientists say. Source: Francis Storr The U.S. government banned DDT more than 40 years ago, but this potent insecticide is still haunting us. Women exposed to higher levels of DDT while in their mother’s womb were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as women exposed to lower levels in the womb, according

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Rodale News
by Leah Zerbe

Exposure to DDT in the womb significantly increases breast cancer risk years later, scientists say.

Source: Francis Storr

The U.S. government banned DDT more than 40 years ago, but this potent insecticide is still haunting us. Women exposed to higher levels of DDT while in their mother’s womb were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as women exposed to lower levels in the womb, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

This decades-long study looked at 20,000 woman and nearly 10,000 of their daughters and provides more strong evidence that coming in contact with hormone-disrupting chemicals like DDT during crucial stages of development could trigger disease decades later in life. “This 54-year study is the first to provide direct evidence that chemical exposures for pregnant women may have lifelong consequences for their daughters’ breast cancer risk,” says one of the study’s authors, Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California. “Environmental chemicals have long been suspected causes of breast cancer, but until now, there have been few human studies to support this idea.”

Cohn says that many women who were exposed in utero in the 1960s, when the pesticide was used widely in the United States (including the highly estrogenic commercial DDT, o,p’-DDT), are now reaching the age of heightened breast cancer risk. DDT and similar chemicals tamper with the body’s natural estrogen hormone functioning, also increasing a person’s risk of birth defects, infertility, and type 2 diabetes. Another recent study even linked DDT exposure to Alzheimer’s disease.

In this latest study, researchers looked at DDT levels in the mothers’ blood while they were pregnant or just after delivery. They then studied the daughters to see how many developed breast cancer by age 52 (118 had). Scientists found that regardless of family history of breast cancer, higher levels of commercial DDT in the mother’s blood were associated with a nearly fourfold increase in the daughters’ risk of breast cancer.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DDT persists for a very long time in soil; half the DDT in soil will break down in 2 to 15 years. While DDT was sprayed on food crops, in barns, and even along roadsides while it was still legal to use, today, people’s main source of exposure comes from food, including fatty meats, poultry, fish and shellfish, and imported foods from countries that still allow the use of DDT to control pests. (It’s still allowed in many Asian and African countries.)

“This study calls for a new emphasis on finding and controlling environmental causes of breast cancer that operate in the womb,” Cohn said. “Our findings should prompt additional clinical and laboratory studies that can lead to prevention, early detection, and treatment of DDT-associated breast cancer in the many generations of women who were exposed in the womb. We also are continuing to research other chemicals to see which may impact breast cancer risk among our study participants.”

Investigating environmental hormone disruptors and the impacts they have on the body is an increasingly important area of research. “Puberty is of interest when studying breast cancer because early onset of menstruation in girls has been linked to higher risk for breast cancer and other reproductive cancers in adult women,” explains Julie Deardorff, PhD, coauthor of The New Puberty. “Many researchers are interested in whether there are common causes or environmental exposures early in life that might lead to early puberty and also increase risk for breast cancer later in life, like chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors.”

Eating lower on the food chain (fewer animal products) and eating domestically produced food can lower your exposure to DDT. If you are concerned or curious, you can learn more about testing for DDT or DDT breakdown materials in your body. Recent research also suggests maintaining a healthy gut can also lower your breast cancer risk.

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Down on the Farm with Tom Willeyhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/down-on-the-farm-with-tom-willey/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/down-on-the-farm-with-tom-willey/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:03:22 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16916 July 3, 2015 at 5 p.m. KFCF, 88.1 FM: Listen live here We must consider it a scientific fact that you are what you eat. The same molecules that make up the food we consume become those of our minds and bodies. “Down on the Farm” is hosted by California Certified Organic Farmer Tom Willey, who harvests beets artichokes, tomatoes, turnips, peppers, among a diversity of biologically grown crops on a family-owned farm in Madera.

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July 3, 2015 at 5 p.m.
KFCF, 88.1 FM: Listen live here

616px-Farmer_listening_to_crystal_radioWe must consider it a scientific fact that you are what you eat. The same molecules that make up the food we consume become those of our minds and bodies.

“Down on the Farm” is hosted by California Certified Organic Farmer Tom Willey, who harvests beets artichokes, tomatoes, turnips, peppers, among a diversity of biologically grown crops on a family-owned farm in Madera.

Tom’s focus is to help listeners be as informed as possible about the foods that grace their family’s tables. Each month’s program takes a deeper look into various aspects of progressive and environmentally conscious food production taking root on San Joaquin Valley farms.

Tune in to KFCF, 88.1FM from 5:00-6:00 p.m. every first Friday of the month, or listen to the show live online at that time.

 

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Nutrition Scientists on the Take From Big Foodhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/nutrition-scientists-on-the-take-from-big-food/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/07/nutrition-scientists-on-the-take-from-big-food/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:19:40 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16911 Eat Drink Politics by Michele Simon New Report from Eat Drink Politics asks: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility? In my new report, I expose the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the nation’s leading authority of nutrition scientists and researchers, for its cozy relationships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Mars, and even the Sugar Association. Such conflicts of interest are similar to those exposed in my previous report

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Eat Drink Politics
by Michele Simon

Nutrition Report_CoverNew Report from Eat Drink Politics asks: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility?

In my new report, I expose the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the nation’s leading authority of nutrition scientists and researchers, for its cozy relationships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonalds, Monsanto, Mars, and even the Sugar Association. Such conflicts of interest are similar to those exposed in my previous report about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Powerful junk food companies purchase “sustaining partnerships” from the American Society for Nutrition, gaining access to the nation’s leading nutrition researchers at their annual meetings, and in their policy positions. ASN’s “Sustaining Member Roundtable Committee” includes PepsiCo’s Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Science Officer at National Dairy Council.

Additional findings in the report include:

  • Of the 34 scientific sessions at ASN’s annual meeting, 6 were supported by PepsiCo
  • Other session sponsors included the Egg Nutrition Center, Kellogg, DuPont Nutrition and Health, Ajinomoto, and the National Dairy Council

  • The International Life Sciences Institute (a front group for Big Food and Big Pharma) sponsored a session on low-calorie sweeteners; speakers included a scientific consultant for Ajinomoto, which produces aspartame
  • The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group for the food and beverage industries, sponsored a symposium on sodium intake, noting “putative health concerns”
  • A session on “Sweeteners and Health” was sponsored by the Rippe Health Institute without disclosing that founder James Rippe is a consultant to the Corn Refiners Association, which represents makers of high fructose corn syrup
  • For $35,000, junk food companies can sponsor the hospitality suite at the annual meeting, where corporate executives socialize with nutrition researchers
  • Obesity researcher David Allison serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ASN’s flagship publication; he has been a consultant to The Sugar Association, World Sugar Research Organization, PepsiCo, Red Bull, Kellogg, Mars, and Dr. Pepper Snapple
  • Official spokespeople for ASN have conflicts with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, the American Beverage Association, General Mills, and Cadbury Schweppes
  • ASN published an 18- page defense of processed food that consists of numerous talking points for the junk food industry, such as “There are no differences between the processing of foods at home or at a factory”
  • ASN opposes an FDA proposed policy to include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel, at a time when excessive sugar consumption is causing a national public health epidemic.

The report concludes with a statement from Food Politics author and long-time ASN member Marion Nestle:

I think it’s important that professional societies like ASN promote rigorous science and maintain the highest possible standards of scientific integrity. Research and education about food and nutrition are easily influenced by funding from food companies but such influence often goes unrecognized. This means that special efforts must be taken to avoid, account for, and counter food industry influence, and organizations like ASN should take the lead in doing so.

You can read the entire report here. Thanks to the Alliance for Natural Health for collaborating on this report.

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The Canary in the Organic Coal Minehttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/the-canary-in-the-organic-coal-mine/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/the-canary-in-the-organic-coal-mine/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:35:21 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16898 Organic Crops and Gardens Increasingly Contaminated by Persistent Herbicides by Linley Dixon, PhD This sunflower shows the leaf curl characteristic of poisoning by aminopyralid herbicide. In this case, the herbicide contamination came from horse manure. Photo by John Mason, www.geologywales.co.uk Nothing is more infuriating than first-hand accounts of “Big Ag” putting sustainable organic farmers out of business. Herbicide carryover in compost embodies this travesty in the same vein as chemical drift, GMO contamination, and the monopolies created when

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Organic Crops and Gardens Increasingly Contaminated by Persistent Herbicides

by Linley Dixon, PhD

This sunflower shows the leaf curl characteristic
of poisoning by aminopyralid herbicide. In this
case, the herbicide contamination came from
horse manure.

Photo by John Mason, www.geologywales.co.uk

Nothing is more infuriating than first-hand accounts of “Big Ag” putting sustainable organic farmers out of business. Herbicide carryover in compost embodies this travesty in the same vein as chemical drift, GMO contamination, and the monopolies created when seeds and genes are patented. [[1]]

Herbicide carryover (when persistent herbicides remain in compost, which then damages crops) may be initially hard to fathom, but occurrences are increasing due to the expanded use of certain persistent chemicals.

Here’s the calamity, for many family farmers, in a nutshell: broadleaf-specific herbicides sprayed on conventional pasture and hay fields pass unchanged through the digestive tract of farm animals, ultimately ending up in their manure, where the herbicides do not break down for many years, even when properly and thoroughly composted. [[2]] When contaminated compost finds its way into garden soil, crops will suffer. When that garden is your livelihood, it is tragic.

Soil type and environmental conditions affect the length of time that persistent herbicides are active, but damage to crops from a single application of contaminated compost is commonly reported to last several years. Symptoms resemble diseases caused by plant viruses and nutrient deficiencies; therefore, the problem is often misdiagnosed by extension agents, agronomists, and other experts. Testing is expensive and doesn’t detect the small amounts of herbicide that crops react to. Highly susceptible cash crops include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, beans, peas, spinach, carrots, and berries, among others. [[3]]

In the last few years, herbicide carryover has garnered attention as gardeners, organic farmers, commercial composting companies, and extension agents learn to recognize the diagnostic symptoms on crops and understand how prevalent persistent herbicides in compost and irrigation water have become. [[4],[5],[6],[7]]

In fact, the problem of persistent chemicals contaminating farms has become so mainstream that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been discussing the issue for the past year through a formal discussion document entitled “Protecting Against Contamination in Farm Inputs.” [[8]] On February 24, 2015, the NOSB Crops Subcommittee released a “Contaminated Inputs Plan.”[[9]] The plan considers various off-farm materials and addresses what contaminants might be present, whether they are of concern, and if they can be avoided. Unfortunately, this plan continues to place the burden on the farmer, not the contaminator. Nothing short of a ban on persistent herbicides by the EPA will prevent continued crop failures from these materials.

The NOSB plan to avoid contamination is nearly impossible to implement when contaminants arrive through irrigation water, or drift, and organic matter is sourced from multiple farms over many years. Currently, crop failures occur when inaccurate information regarding source material is relayed through the long supply chain (hay farmer to livestock rancher to composter to vegetable grower).

The NOSB proposal to require the farmer to conduct bioassay tests on compost to determine whether or not a contaminant may be present places an unrealistic burden on organic farmers given the time it takes for symptoms to develop, greenhouse space required, qualifications needed to properly diagnose symptoms, lack of uniformity in compost piles, and a continuous supply of varying source materials.

The suggestion that it is up to the farmer to prevent compost contamination is directly in line with the advice given by the chemical companies that profit from the sale of these persistent herbicides. In other words: it’s your problem, not mine.

Unacceptable Persistence

The EPA should never have approved herbicides that have the potential to persist for several years in the environment. Ironically, their ratings are designed to give potent, persistent chemicals the best EPA scores.

For example, chemicals are rated highly for requiring lower doses (i.e., highly potent) and less frequent applications (i.e., highly persistent). [[10],[11]] While low doses and fewer sprays sound good at first, chemicals that require low doses are more likely to cause damage to neighboring farms from drift. Chemicals that control weeds for a full season are more likely to contaminate other farms due to their persistence. Why chemicals receive the best environmental ratings for traits likely related to potency and persistence is counterintuitive.

Contamination events are still grossly underreported both in the U.S. and globally.  Farmers are not always qualified to know why crops are failing or showing reduced yields. Even scientific professionals often mistake symptoms from pathogens, nutrient toxicities, and herbicide damage without expensive, comprehensive testing. In addition, if farmers are able to determine that herbicide contamination has occurred, they may be unlikely to come forward due to potentially losing the ability to market their produce. If a system is in place to be compensated for financial losses due to herbicide carryover, farmers are much more likely to investigate and report when contamination has occurred.

Organic Farmers Should Have the Right to Clean Organic Matter

The incorporation of organic matter into the soil from a wide range of sources has been used to maintain soil fertility for over 10,000 years and is central to organic and sustainable farming. Incorporating organic matter and nutrients back into the soil prevents the need for synthetic fertilizers and mitigates pollution elsewhere. On- and off-farm inputs include compost, mined minerals, animal byproducts (fish, slaughterhouse waste), hay, mulches, and manures. Organic farmers provide a great benefit to society by recycling these waste products that will end up as hazards if not properly handled.

When organic matter becomes contaminated, humic acids and nutrients cannot be returned to the soil. Manure can contain other synthetic agrochemical residues that may not cause crop failures but still pose risks to consumers and the environment. Other contaminants include heavy metals, insecticide residues, and antibiotics. Herbicide contamination is perhaps “the canary in the coal mine” because of its direct impact on crop plants and farmer livelihood, but these other contaminants should not be discounted.

With the increase in the use of persistent chemicals, including herbicides and insecticides, organic farmers are no longer able to trust that organic matter inputs and irrigation water are free of these prohibited materials. Much like GMO contamination, it is nearly impossible for organic farmers to be clean of these materials once they are produced. Until persistent materials are banned, farmers should not be held responsible for contamination and should be compensated by the manufacturer of the herbicides for losses incurred.

NOSB: Action Steps Needed

The following items are currently missing from the NOSB’s Contaminated Input Plan. The Cornucopia Institute urges the NOSB to:

  1. Pressure the EPA to ban the persistent herbicides that have already caused widespread crop losses, including those in the pyridine carboxylic acid class.[[12]] The EPA must seriously consider the fate of herbicides in compost when evaluating the registration of products.
  2. Require organic manure and compost to be utilized when commercially available, much as is the case with organic seed.
  3. Require the manufacturer of persistent herbicides to be held liable for losses incurred to farmers from unintentional contamination.
  4. Increase awareness of the issue of contaminated farm inputs.

Please join The Cornucopia Institute in our fight to ban persistent herbicides by contacting your local and state representatives about your concerns.


[1] http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/weeds/weed-control-guides/nd-weed-control-guide-1/wcg-files/15-CO.pdf

[2] http://www.dowagro.com/range/aminopyralid_stewardship.htm

[3] http://www.the-compost-gardener.com/picloram.html

[4] http://csuhort.blogspot.com/2014/04/herbicide-carryover.html

[5] http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/milestone-herbicide-contamination-creates-dangerous-toxic-compost.aspx

[6] http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/wtr11Aminopyralid

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

[8] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5108939

[9] http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5110812

[10] http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/ecorisk.htm

[11] http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/chem_search/cleared_reviews/csr_PC-005100_10-May-05_a.pdf

[12] http://vtdigger.org/2013/06/10/herbicide-that-contaminated-green-mountain-compost-now-effectively-banned-in-vermont/

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Insecticides May Affect Cognitive Development in Childrenhttp://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/insecticides-may-affect-cognitive-development-in-children/ http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/06/insecticides-may-affect-cognitive-development-in-children/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:25:13 +0000 http://www.cornucopia.org/?p=16894 Nature World News by Jenna Iacurci Source: Jason Shultz Insecticides may affect cognitive development in children, according to a new study. Pyrethroid insecticides are one of the most commonly used pesticides, with benefits in a variety of sectors including residential pest control, public health and agricultural purposes. They can also be found in many domestic products such as lice shampoo and mosquito repellent. With more toxic compounds such as organochorides, organophosphates, and carbamate having been

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Nature World News
by Jenna Iacurci

Source: Jason Shultz

Insecticides may affect cognitive development in children, according to a new study.

Pyrethroid insecticides are one of the most commonly used pesticides, with benefits in a variety of sectors including residential pest control, public health and agricultural purposes. They can also be found in many domestic products such as lice shampoo and mosquito repellent.

With more toxic compounds such as organochorides, organophosphates, and carbamate having been banned due to health concerns, pyrethroids are now increasingly popular, and considered relatively safe for humans and mammals.v

Now, a study published in the journal Environment International provides new evidence of neurotoxicity in humans from pyrethroid insecticides. An increase in the urinary levels of two pyrethroid metabolites (3-PBA and cis-DBCA) in children is associated with a significant decrease in their cognitive performance, particularly in terms of verbal comprehension and working memory.

Pregnancy is also an important period of life for the future health of a child. So during the study, researchers from INSERM (or IRSET in English, standing for the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health) in Rennes, France studied a total of 287 mother-child pairs randomly selected from the PELAGIE cohort. This cohort, established between 2002 and 2006, considers exposure to pyrethroid insecticides during fetal life and childhood.

Psychologists assessed each child’s neurocognitive performances using the WISC scale – a combination of the verbal comprehension index (VCI) and working memory index (WMI).

Simultaneously, exposure to pyrethroid insecticides was estimated by measuring levels of five metabolites (3-PBA, 4-F-3-PBA, cis-DCCA, trans-DCCA and cis-DBCA) in urine from the mother and the child.

They found that an increase in two metabolites – 3-PBA and cis-DBCA – in children was associated with a significant drop in cognitive performance. Such a drastic decline, however, was not exhibited for the other three metabolites.

“Although these observations must be reproduced in further studies in order to draw definite conclusions, they indicate the potential responsibility of low doses of deltamethrine in particular (since the metabolite cis-DBCA is its main metabolite, and selective for it), and pyrethroid insecticides in general (since the metabolite 3-BPA is a degradation product of some twenty of these insecticides),” lead author Cécile Chevrier, INSERM Research Fellow, explained in a press release.

Not only that, but what’s also concerning is the fact that children are exposed to pyrethroids on a daily basis. That’s because kids stand closer to the ground where there is pollutant-containing dust, and because they have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact, researchers say.

In children, pyrethroids are mainly absorbed via the digestive system, but are also absorbed through the skin. These chemicals are rapidly metabolized in the liver, and mainly eliminated in the urine as metabolites within 48 hours.

Given these contributing factors and the neurotoxicity of pyrethroid insecticides, the researchers believe these contaminants negatively impact the nervous system and its development in children.

“The consequences of a cognitive deficit in children for their learning ability and social development constitute a handicap for the individual and for society,” added co-author Jean-François Viel. “The research effort needs to be pursued in order to identify causes that could be targeted by preventive measures.”

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