Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Organic Milk

Have you ever considered organic milk? What does that mean anyway, organic milk? Is it just simply that the cows are kept in high concentration barns and fed organic hay and grain? Or is it the other extreme where organic is raw milk? So many terms, it can get confusing.

-Most cows are kept in confinement for milking purposes, sad but true.

-Milk from confinement cows can be labeled "organic" if the cows are fed organic feeds, even if the cow never leaves her stall.

-A few new farmers are returning to the old ways of animal husbandry and offering humanely treated animals a wonderful life.

-And many of these new breed of farmers are offering a truly tasty treat, raw milk.

Now that for me, is the real deal, the honest organic. I am a "new organic" or raw milk drinker. Honestly, it's been great and the taste is fabulous! Check out this blog for more than you would ever dream of learning about real milk.

Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe?

Genetically modified foods are everywhere, if you eat any processed food, you are most likely ingesting GM foods. I personally find that to be criminal. But Monsanto, the largest producer of GM foods and seeds, says every thing is just fine. They are making millions of course. Look at this small study done by a group of high school students in Wisconsin. My money is on the mice, they can't take kick-backs and bribes.
Why Schools Should Remove Gene-Altered Foods from Their Cafeterias

* By Jeffrey M. Smith
Comanche County Chronicle, Elgin, OK, September, 2008
Straight to the Source

from Institute for Responsible Technology, Spilling the Beans newsletter on GM Foods
by Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception

Before the Appleton Wisconsin high school replaced their cafeteria's processed foods with wholesome, nutritious food, the school was described as out-of-control. There were weapons violations, student disruptions, and a cop on duty full-time. After the change in school meals, the students were calm, focused, and orderly. There were no more weapons violations, and no suicides, expulsions, dropouts, or drug violations. The new diet and improved behavior has lasted for seven years, and now other schools are changing their meal programs with similar results.

Years ago, a science class at Appleton found support for their new diet by conducting a cruel and unusual experiment with three mice. They fed them the junk food that kids in other high schools eat everyday. The mice freaked out. Their behavior was totally different than the three mice in the neighboring cage. The neighboring mice had good karma; they were fed nutritious whole foods and behaved like mice. They slept during the day inside their cardboard tube, played with each other, and acted very mouse-like.

The junk food mice, on the other hand, destroyed their cardboard tube, were no longer nocturnal, stopped playing with each other, fought often, and two mice eventually killed the third and ate it. After the three month experiment, the students rehabilitated the two surviving junk food mice with a diet of whole foods. After about three weeks, the mice came around.

Read the rest of this very good article here

I am doing my best to stay GM free here, but it is a constant battle. The stuff is everywhere!

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Independent Life: eggs, free-range style ARE really better

A wonderful article was written by our local Weston A. Price foundation leader, Emmayln McAllister, here in Colorado Springs, CO, detailing the difference in eggs and why you should consider buying your eggs from a producer who follows these strict guidelines! For what it's worth, I raise my hens according to these guidelines, except for the fact that I have not gone to a soy free/ GMO grain free feed. I want to, I really do, but the price difference is so great ($15/50lb. vs. $35/50 lb. of feed) that I would have to raise the price of eggs to astonishing heights! I would have to know that my customers were willing to pay the extra price before I went with such a plan. I truly pasture my hens, they are let out every morning to have complete and total run of my 5 acres. They are safe, most of the time, from predators by good fencing and a couple faithful dogs. So I would be unable to go with part of my flock being feed the "old" way and part feed with non-soy/GM grain. It would have to be an all or nothing deal here. I will be thinking about this one for a while, unless people really ask for the change.

As our devoted customers know, free-range TASTES better too!

Hello, Everyone,

What’s all the egg hubbub about???? Why would anybody go to the extra effort and expense to eat a premium quality egg rather than just an egg from the supermarket? Isn’t an egg, well….an egg?

The answer is, of course, “NO!”

Eggs are not all created equal. Their nutritional benefits vary greatly. Here is the Weston A. Price Foundation’s criteria for nutritious, health building eggs: The eggs must come from chickens that are fed grain supplement, but not soy or any genetically-modified product; they must be pasture-based, meaning that they run around where they can eat green plants and bugs and worms, etc. All of these factors are essential to producing eggs that not only taste great, but ones that provide us with incredible nutrition! An “all vegetarian diet” for chickens does not! We knew this way back in 1932! (See article at the bottom of this message.) Today we know even more about what kind of nutritional benefits good, old-fashioned farm eggs can provide us:

Vitamin D, for building strong bones, enhancing the immune system, reducing blood pressure, alleviating depression, and combating cancer.

Vitamin A, for protein utilization, slowing down the aging process, forming bones and teeth, preventing night blindness and acne; and protecting against colds, flu, infections, cancer and other diseases.

Omega 3 fatty acids, for cardio-vascular health, reducing inflammation and allergies and for preventing cancer.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), for protection against cancer. CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels.

Vitamin E, for repairing tissues and improving circulation; for fibrocystic disease and PMS; for normal blood clotting and healing; for reducing blood pressure, preventing cataracts, leg cramps, cancer and cardio-vascular disease; for retarding the aging process and preventing age spots.

Folic Acid, for energy production and the formation of red blood cells; for healthy cell division and replication; for protein metabolism; for alleviation of depression and anxiety; for the regulation of embryonic and fetal development of nerve cells. Essential for normal growth and development.

Vitamin B12, for proper digestion, absorption of foods, protein synthesis, the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, normal growth and development and for the prevention of nerve damage and anemia.

Beta Carotene, which, in a healthy body is converted to Vitamin A in the liver.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenes, to protect against macular degeneration and colon cancer. Egg yolks are the richest known source of these essential carotenes, which are not generally found in multi-vitamin tablets. The deeper the yellow-orange color of yolks, the more lutein and zeaxanthin they contain and the more eye-protection they offer. There is also new evidence linking lutein and zeaxanthin with a lower risk of colon cancer. According to a recent study, "Of all the carotenoids investigated, only lutein and zeaxanthin showed a protective effect against colon cancer, with an enhanced effect in younger people." (Slattery, M. L., Benson, J., Curtin, K., Ma, K. N., Schaeffer, D., and Potter, J. D. (2000). Am J Clin Nutr 71, 575-82.)

A study conducted and released by Mother Earth News magazine in their October/November 2007 issue found that just two nutritious eggs a day provide a great deal more nutrition and certain food factors known to protect us from disease than supermarket eggs do.

Vitamin D: Three to six times more

Vitamin A: Sixty seven percent more.

Omega 3: As much as ten times more

Vitamin E: Three times as much

Beta Carotene: Seven times as much

A British study conducted in 1972 found:

Folic Acid: Fifty percent more

Vitamin B12: Seventy percent more

Regarding CLA, eggs from pasture-based chickens contain many times more CLA as supermarket eggs, as CLA is virtually non-existent in supermarket eggs.

Healthy Eggs: What We Knew in 1932

In the 1930s, animal scientists were trying to determine the best diet for cows, pigs, and chickens that were raised in confinement. It was a time of trial and error.

In a 1933 experiment conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breeding hens were taken off pasture and fed a wide variety of feed ingredients. When the birds were fed a diet that was exclusively soy or corn or wheat or cottonseed meal, the chickens didn’t lay eggs or the chicks that developed from the eggs had a high rate of mortality and disease.

But when birds were fed these same inadequate diets and put back on pasture, their eggs were perfectly normal. The pasture grasses and the bugs made up for whatever was missing in each of the highly restrictive diets.

“The effect of diet on egg composition.” Journal of Nutrition 6(3) 225-242. 1933.

Warm regards,

Emmy McAllister, Volunteer Chapter Leader Weston A. Price Foundation, Colorado Springs, CO

(Article reprinted with permission)

Local Food book review, vegetable and meat production

Book I'm Reading

Omnivore's Dilemma

I've been meaning to read this one for a long time. Now that I'm reading it, I wish I'd read it earlier. It is a bittersweet tale of American Food, but at the most basic, it is a story of corn and petroleum. Corn has detoured many lives, especially people who were raised in Iowa and depended upon local industry to keep the family going, whether farmer or local tradesman. It in a very remote way, is the story of my life and that of my family. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I walked those bean fields ( that is what weeding endless fields of soybeans armed with only a corn knife was called in the late 1970's) that are alternated with corn, as a kid before mechanized weeding was done. I watched more than one farmer sell out, loose the farm, or start trucking to just keep the bills paid. My father could no longer support his family when I was a kid by running a small local grocery store, so we too, became refugees of the agribusiness. In a way, it is the loss of small town America and that is sad for me because I can see that my children will never, ever have the sort of naive existence we all had once, long before mass communication stole our innocence and agribusiness forced us all into an urban life. I try very hard to keep the kids rurally grounded, but we depend completely on the man of this house and his job. I cannot quite grasp how producing a crop that costs much more to produce it than can be made selling it, can be viable. But if you have the time and interest, get this book. I actually bought it instead of getting it from the library. For me, that is a huge statement!

An Independent life: vegetable growing

I am a market farmer. Small-scale, but with so many concerns over food security and food miles, it is good to know your farmer. That would be me and hundreds of other small-scale farmers just like me who are making a major come-back in America.

I grow in the Rocky Mountain West on the highest part of the great plains at over 7100 ft. elevation. If you live here, you know how hard it is to grow here. I raise small crops as I don't have acres and acres of land, I do everything myself with a few helpers, mostly my 12 year old son, and don't have tons of mechanical help. Just one small tiller. We combat high winds, severe hail (we receive some of the most severe and most frequent hail storms in North America, just ask our insurance adjuster), cold nights, late frosts, scorching sunshine, etc. So why bother? It's a passion.

For a couple short essays on getting started on your own vegetable growing journey, check out So You Want to Grow Vegetables.

I am moving into winter now, and with that change in seasons, thought it might be nice to write about what I've learned and mistakes I've made. And there have been plenty! oh well, the learning process you know :)

To help me combat my severe weather I put up a high tunnel for growing. And no, not by myself, heehee, I sort of roped my teenage kids and husband into that job. And what a job it was, let me tell you! But now that it is up, we absolutely love it. If you need helpful tips or suggestions on putting up a Farm-Tek tunnel, email me please. I'd love to see if I could help you avoid some of the mistakes we made. But now that it is up, it is turning out to be indispensable as a season extender.

Here is a photo diary of our journey. We started last winter, Feb. 09 with the ground posts:

That is my 12yo son swinging that sledge hammer. Good work out for him, not sure his father was as enthusiastic about the labor.

screwing the parts of the rafters together

going up!

Frame complete, end walls up, baseboard up and runner boards going up for the U channels.

Putting in earth anchors. These are three feet in the ground and every other one in concrete.

Building end walls, these posts are 6x6x12' and sunk 3' in the ground. This will add stability.

And it's up! Labor Day weekend, 2009. Took us seven months and we lost the cover once before we built end walls and did away with roll up sides. Too much wind here.

We put in TWO wiggle wires in every U channel, added strength.

And those straps are 2 3/4" polypropylene straps used as anti-billow straps, to make sure we don't have enough loft to lose the cover....again.

Inside! A jungle of humid, windless, lovely growing space. I think I want another one.....now if I could just find someone to build me one.