Science confirms, Eat Organic and Eat Less Pesticides!

February 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Health News

Would seem like common sense correct?  Eat organic, which by definition is grown without chemical pesticides, and you will ingest much less chemicals.  Now science has confirmed what seems like a no-brainer to us commoners, yes it is true, eat organic and avoid exposure to chemical pesticides.  So, if you were thinking that organic is BS, well think again!

Read the article here.

Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Food Watch, Health News

Organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides, according to the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date.

The international team behind the work suggests that switching to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions of the recommended “five a day”.

The team, led by Prof Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University, concludes that there are “statistically significant, meaningful” differences, with a range of antioxidants being “substantially higher” – between 19% and 69% – in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals.

Full Article

Prosecutors crack ‘systematic egg fraud’

March 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Farming, Food Watch

It would seem that millions of eggs had been sold under false pretences over the last few years, exploiting the willingness of some customers to pay extra for produce from more humanely kept birds.

Prosecutors in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, told Der Spiegel magazine they were investigating around 150 firms in that state and around 50 elsewhere. Frauke Wilken, spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office told the magazine that initial investigations had begun in the autumn of 2011, and had revealed ever more suspect operations.

“The suspicion is that this is a case of systematic fraud. It is no minor matter – it would be deception of consumers,” said Christian Mayer, the new Lower Saxony agriculture minister.

He said if the suspicions were proven, he would move to withdraw operation licenses from the relevant farms.

Those under suspicion were largely conventional farms, but some organic farms were also affected.

Chickens and their eggs can only be described as free-range if each animal has access to at least four square metres of space, while the description organic, or “bio” in German, requires further specific conditions.

Full Article

August 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Health News

In an article posted today in Natural News, fluoride is apparently being used on the grape crops particularly in California. And since fluoride does not biodegrade the more it is used the more it collects in the soil and in the grapes.

 

There are some wines that cannot be exported due to the high levels of fluoride in the wines. Other countries are somewhat more vigilant about the use of this deadly chemical than we are here in this country.

 

Even more disturbing is that you cannot avoid the fluoride contamination by choosing organic wines as these fluoride based fertilizers are allowed on organic crops! Unbelievable in my opinion. The organic standard is normally the refuge in a world gone toxic, yet in this instance you cannot depend upon that certification to insure purity.

 

If you want safe wine and grapes you might have to go to Oregon and Washington to get lower fluoride levels. They don’t allow the use of the fertilizers.

 

Be vigilant constantly, many things are not as they seem!

Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont for GMO Labeling Bill

April 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Farming, Food Watch

When Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto last month, it was on the basis that she did not think the corporation had any interest in suing the organic growers and trade organizations that took the case to court. But as it turns out, their fears of a lawsuit-happy Monsanto are somewhat justified. According to reports, the biotech behemoth has threatened to sue the state of Vermont if it presses ahead with the signing of the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (H. 722), a bill that would make Vermont the first of the United States to require labeling of genetically engineered food.

Vermont is not a state that messes around with its food – last year, the state’s Agency of Agriculture threatened to sue McDonald’s over due to its Fruit & Maple Oatmeal not actually containing any real natural maple syrup. This also isn’t the first time Vermont and Monsanto have tangled, as the state was sued in the 1990s over the labeling of bovine growth hormone in milk. This time around, however, Monsanto has reportedly threatened legal action toward the state over its H. 722 bill.

Full Article

Prices will go up on Organic Milk

February 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Watch

We were thinking about getting into the organic chocolate milk market and had a few meeting with some key insiders in the organic milk market and decided not to do that. Now 2 months later all that information was confirmed in an article out today on the AP.

 

Supplies are low and demand is up for organic milk products. One of the largest organic coops has made their farmers mad and once thier contract is up they won’t be renewing, at least not at the current prices. The coop is making all the money and leaving the farmers in the field.

 

While it is a good thing that demand is up for organic milk not so good that supplies are low. Price increases are not what we need as consumers.

 

Organic milk low as demand up and farmers struggle

 

WESTVILLE, N.Y. – “Got milk?” is getting to be a difficult question when it comes to organic.

 

Because even as more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, supermarkets are having trouble keeping it on the shelves as high feed and fuel prices have left some organic dairy farmers unable to keep up with demand.

 

“The market has surged faster than supply,” said George Siemon, CEO of Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers, “and at the same time we had high feed costs reduce supply, so we had a double hit here.”

 

Organic milk shortages are nothing new. As the milk — which federal regulations require be from cows fed organic feed and free from production-boosting synthetic hormones — rose in popularity during the past decade, there haven’t always been enough farmers to meet demand (it can take three years to transition a conventional dairy farm to organic).

 

The shortages have been serious enough that major chains like Hannaford Supermarkets in the Northeast and Publix Super Markets in the South recently posted signs in the milk aisle advising shoppers of reduced supply. Some relief is expected with the seasonal spring boost in production. But industry watchers say this shortage is more worrisome because of the alarming jumps in the price of organic corn and other feed coupled with higher fuel costs.

 

“It’s kind of like a treadmill thing,” said Siobhan Griffin, an upstate New York organic farmer whose cows chomp hay in a hilly pasture. “If you make less milk you make less money, and then you can’t afford to make more milk.”

 

After a recent dip during the recession, sales of organic milk — which can sell for twice as much or more as conventional milk — are strong again. Sales for organic whole milk were up 16 percent from January through November of last year compared with a year earlier, even as sales of conventional milk declined, according to federal agricultural statistics.

 

Molly Keveney, a spokeswoman for Horizon Organic, the No. 1 selling organic milk-brand, estimated a 7 percent growth in organic milk demand in a time of flat supply.

 

Some farmers have switched to less expensive feed, but that reduced production. Griffin, who runs Raindance Organic Farm 55 miles west of Albany, is losing money as costs outrun prices. She sold 15 cows in the fall so she could afford to buy feed for her remaining cows.

 

In Elko, Minn., Tim Zweber of Zweber Farms said his family sold about 20 milking cows since the fall because of the feed costs, leaving them with about 100. Zweber — who like Griffin is a member of the Organic Valley cooperative— said the price his family receives for its milk versus the high costs of producing it results in margins that are very tight.

 

“If you can’t make any money doing it, take the word ‘sustainable’ out of organic,” Zweber said with a laugh.

 

In fact, some struggling farms are switching back to conventional milk or leaving the dairy business entirely. Milk Thistle Farm, a Hudson Valley farm that was a popular vendor at New York City farmers markets, recently announced that it no longer could afford to continue production.

 

Horizon and Organic Valley say they have more dairy farmers making the transition to organic. But Ed Maltby of the Northeast Organic Producers Alliance said not as many farmers are making the switch because of the economics.

 

The farmers’ plight illuminates an unusual feature of the U.S. dairy economy: Most farmers do not set their own milk prices. Organic farmers typically enter into contracts with processors. This provides stability compared with the month-to-month pricing of conventional milk, but it has caused problems once food and fuel costs took off.

 

Both Organic Valley and Horizon Organic, owned by Dean Foods Co., have raised the prices they pay to farmers to account for higher production costs.

 

But many struggling farmers say they need more. The Northeast Organic Producers Alliance, for instance, is petitioning for a 60 cent a gallon hike. The Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance recently sent a letter to processors seeking an increase that would add 22 cents to a half gallon for consumers

 

That might be a tough sell.

 

There are questions over just how much consumers — even those who will pay a premium to support sustainable family farms — will pay for a half gallon of milk. Western alliance president Tony T. Azevedo said he’d like to induce retailers to kick more of their percentage back to the farmers, though he acknowledges that’s “a pretty daunting task.”

 

Some farm advocates say additional price pressure comes from industrial-style organic farming operations with 1,000 or more milking cows that are producing more milk for “private label” store brands sold in supermarkets and box stores. The large-scale operations, some with their own processing plants, can produce the milk less expensively than traditional farms and put pressure on all producers to keep prices low.

 

The growth of these industrial-style operations has angered small-farm advocates who say they violate the spirit of organic, sustainably produced food.

 

“Forget about the letter of the law for a second, these do not comport with the values that the consumers think they’re supporting when they’re buying organic milk,” said Mark Kastel of the Wisconsin-based farm-policy group The Cornucopia Institute.

 

Though no one knows when supply will catch up with demand, many expect it to at least ease in a couple of months with the production boost that comes each spring when the fields are in bloom and cows can graze. Hannaford is telling customers to expect more consistent inventory levels in April.

 

Maltby is more pessimistic.

 

“Perhaps when the cows go out to pasture in the spring, there might be an increase in production, but we don’t anticipate that happening dramatically,” Maltby said. “Nothing will really change until the price that the farmer gets paid starts to meet their cost of production.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Short of buying a cow and having your own supply of truly great raw milk, it looks like you will have to begin paying up for organic milk very soon.  It is already over a dollar more per gallon than conventional milk, which i personally would not touch.

 

Organic Growers Attack Monsanto

February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Farming

On January 31, 2012, a hearing on GMO’s was held in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. On the evening news you often times see convicted former Wall Street financiers walking out of the doors of this courthouse in New York City. This court is the setting for a major legal battle which will impact all grain farmers in the United States.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association squared off against Monsanto.

The case, at the moment, goes off on a legal issue of whether the organic farmers have standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against Monsanto. Simply, the question is whether the organic farmers have suffered harm which allows them to get their case before a court for a possible trial.

The case involves 96 plaintiffs claiming that “Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed.”

Full Article

The Underground Secret; grasping the mysteries of creating healthy soil

February 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Farming

When it comes to gardening, most avid participants in the ancient art of gardening will at some point in their life’s outdoor experience come to understand that the secret is in the soil. This is so much more of a satisfying approach than doing battle with nature, the most common mainstream agricultural pursuit, which sees farmers using huge quantities of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers to dominate nature. Nature must both laugh and cry at this onslaught, seeing ignorant members of blind humans bombard the soils with substances that destroy nature, thinking they know the answers.

After decades of different agricultural revolutions, those of us who are perceptive enough to begin to unveil the mysteries of nature are now more fully coming to grips with the fact that for the soils of the world to continue to provide us with the bounty we need and desire, we must continuously be working to restore fertility in our age depleted soils.Organic matter is the key to this rebuilding, as are soil based microbes, earthworms and more that work to break down organic matter and nutrients in the soil, thus rendering them in a perfect state for plants to absorb them.

In the field of biodynamics, permaculture and organics there are many solutions to build up soil. It is the key to our future health and that of our children. Healthy plants that do not need pesticides and herbicides depend upon a healthy soil.

Organic Matter

The Color of Any Matter Is a Key to Its Use in the Garden
Sunday, February 5, 2012
By Virginia Hayes

The key to healthy soil is organic matter. Every gardening guide says so, so it must be true. And it is. But all organic matter is not equal. Composting tends to even the playing field, eventually. Larger pieces and woodier material will break down along with the tender leaves and stems resulting in compost that is fine, crumbly, and sweet-smelling.

There are shortcuts. Some refuse can go directly into the garden to cycle back into essential nutrients right in place, bypassing the layering and turning of the compost bin.

Fresh, green clippings like grass and other tender leaves and stems, as well as kitchen scraps—from carrot and apple peels to tough green bean strings and pea pods—can be thinly layered on the surface of the garden or added sparingly to soil when preparing for planting. Seaweeds fit in this category, as well, but remember to rinse oceanic plants thoroughly to remove excess salt. Beware: Too thick a layer of these fresh greens may result in an impenetrable mat that doesn’t break down and even can impede water percolation.

Dry leaves and other dry, but fairly thin, plant stems, such as straw and pine needles, take a little longer and can be used as mulch and layered on the soil up to 4 inches deep. Don’t try to use them directly into a planting hole. Large and very woody bits (think those chips from the tree service) should only be used as a top dressing. They take a really long time to break down, even in a nice hot composting system. Don’t worry; there are microbes and fungi that will eventually convert them into dark, crumbly, beautiful humus. Nearly magical, this substance is the key to healthy soil. In fact, the color of any organic material will be a key to its use in the garden. All green waste will eventually take on this dark hue, and the darker the material, the better it is to incorporate when planting.

There is yet another class of organics to consider: manures. Most manures should not be used immediately after their production by the animals in question. Garden gurus speak of “hot” manure, meaning that it is of recent origin and contains a high concentration of ammonia. It takes time and some helpful bacteria to make this compound into a more easily assimilable source of nitrogen for plants. If it stinks, it’s too strong for delicate roots. Horse manure may be the most readily available, from area riding stables, and is usually mixed with some type of bedding material (straw or fine wood chips). It still needs time, either in the compost pile with all the other garden clippings or in a pile of its own to break down a bit.

Gardeners are increasingly growing chickens, rabbits, goats, or other beasts, and all of their droppings are also valuable sources of nitrogen and organic components. The mammals are herbivores and produce dung that has a fair amount of plant fiber since they eat only grasses and grains. Avian droppings are more concentrated (they also eat insects, snails, and almost anything small enough to pass their craw), so it needs to be used sparingly when fresh or composted well. Keeping a goat or a few chickens is an excellent way to process garden and kitchen clippings, however. Toss the raw ingredients into the coop or corral, and they will be crunched, digested, excreted, and mixed together with no extra effort; ready-made soil amendments.

As you can read in the article above, there are many strategies to recycle organic material into the soil and thus build it up, thus creating a rich foundation for nourishing us on many levels.

As the New Year approaches, new thinking can change our direction for the better

December 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Food Watch

In this article below by Sami Grover, we see some innovative and common sense ideas for restoring our ability to be truly independent in our food production

Compared to peak oilclimate change, or the water crisis, it’s a relatively under reported issue. But the fact is that the world’s food production could be severely hit by a global shortage of phosphorus—a key nutrient that is needed to grow crops. And because phosphorus comes from rocks, and is cycled over tens of thousands of years—once it is gone from our soils, it is effectively gone forever, as far as humans are concerned.

So what can we do to prevent this crisis? On the macro-level, we can campaign for more sustainable agriculture, we can eat less grain-fed meat (and campaign for an end to subsidies for livestock), and we can buy organic. We can even support municipal efforts to recycle urine (which is very high in phosphorus). But we can also make changes in our own gardens. Here’s how:

 

Top 5 Tips for Preserving Phosphorus in the Garden

 
1. Garden Organically: Pretty much everything that makes for good organic gardening, also makes for good stewardship of phosphorus in our soils. Especially recycling animal and plant waste to make compost, and avoiding chemical fertilizers. (Which are, you guessed it, chock full of mined phosphorus!)

2. Give Up Digging: When we till the soil, phosphorus and other nutrients are exposed to the elements and can get washed away. To add insult to injury, while there is a global shortage of phosphorus, we are also seeing water ways that are suffering from an excess due to agricultural run-off. So why not try no-dig gardening for your backyard vegetables? You could even explore edible perennial crops as a means to cut down on digging.

3. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch, Mulch, Mulch: Mulch is good. Need we say more?

4. Garden With Urine: Yes, some people still find this icky—but urine is an incredible fertilizer. Not sure how to do it hygienically? Check out JOsh’s post on how to garden with pee, or check out my DIY biochar experiment that may just help prevent nutrient leaching.

How a Single Woman Transformed Her Urban Garden into a Productive, Organic, Tropical Paradise

Here is an inspiring story of how a single woman transformed her  home and yard into a tropical paradise. Never let anyone tell you you can not do it! Enjoy the article and video below. This article was featured on permaculture.org

You don’t have to know her street number to find Rosina Buckman’s place. All you need is the street name. Winner of the Edible Landscape Award from Australia’s Sunshine Coast Council in 2009, her garden spills out into the nature strip, bursting with plants.

Her driveway, once a barren front lawn, is now edged with strawberry runners, passionfruit vines, chilies and edible greens.

“Before we get started, I want to show you some­thing that saved my life!” exclaims Rosina.

In front of us are a wheelbarrow, a piece of timber and a rather imposing cleaver.

I wonder if one of her chickens is about to have a very bad day, but no, this is Rosina’s new movable workstation and mulching system. With terrifying dexterity, she holds a palm frond in her left hand and chops furiously with her right. Pieces of the dried frond fly everywhere.

Visitors giggle nervously at the dangerous procedure, but thankfully all her fingers are intact at the end, and we title her Queen Chop-Chop.

Recently Rosina covered any remaining lawn on her property with hay mulch. Now the front garden is just as productive as her back yard. A mini orchard is on the left, and her kitchen garden, complete with a raised garden bed, is on the right.

She relocated the corrugated iron bed from the back yard to take advantage of the northern sun, and has been rewarded for the strategic move with plentiful supplies of tomatoes, bok-choy, mustard, chard, eggplants and lettuce ever since.

The tour moves on into the orchard, passing the “Trespassers could be composted,” sign on the way.

We dodge a swinging pendulum hanging from the archway (the largest New Guinea Bean I’ve ever seen!) and find ourselves face to face with fruit trees. Here, planted in the front yard, are a tangelo, lime, orange, and lemon tree, growing happily where once was only grass.

Rosina’s garden is an inspiring example of how abundant, productive and diverse an urban permaculture system can be.

It’s incredible what she’s squeezed into her 670m2 block; a banana circle; orchard; worm farm; two compost bins; and two chooks nestled behind the 2 x 6 metre shade house.

The chook pen is her pride and joy as she spent considerable time figuring out a multipurpose design, finally settling on a system where she divides the long, narrow run into two areas. During summer, she allows the girls to have free reign in both, and in winter she closes off one end and plants out the fertile ground with veggies.

And with all these systems she still has room for a pool surrounded by potted pineapples and sweet potatoes.

We can see the evidence of clever design in her compact system. She harvests water from the roof and has rigged up a flexible hose direct from her down-pipes into her swimming pool.

“I haven’t had to top up the pool with town water since I’ve installed that system,” she explains.

She also has a metal rainwater tank on the western side of the house where she collects her drinking water.

“I can’t stand the taste of chlorinated water. I never want to drink town water again!” she says.

And what happened to all that mulch produced by Queen Chop Chop? She’s combined the small pieces of brown waste (carbon) and green clippings (nitrogen) to form a pile approximately one cubic metre in size.

It’s so hot Rosina dares us to put our hands in — and steam rises when someone moves the organic matter. Because of the extra surface area produced by chopping the waste, microbes have more to feed on, and the resulting compost is ready to use in a matter of weeks.

Rosina has a passion for permaculture. It’s evident in her generous teaching (she’s toured all the Sunshine coast libraries giving demonstrations and talks), in her infectious laugh and especially evident in her garden.

Thanks for sharing your passion and excellent examples with us Rosina. We love you. Please keep your eye on those fingers, Queen Chop-Chop!

Enjoy the video here below:

Note: As it happens, Rosina is selling her painstakingly developed urban site. If you’re looking for a well-established permaculture property, this might be just the thing….

Further Reading:

Rosina Buckman – Living Smart on the Sunshine Coast

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