Monday, August 26, 2013

Peaches and Turnips

I've officially been accepted in to the soil science master's program in my home town.  I will be starting in January.  Today was the first day of the semester-- which my plan is to register for 2 classes -- stats and organic chemistry.

However, because I'm a lab tech at the university currently.. and all of the other students have already registered for classes, I was basically the 'last' hope to help in the great harvest.

That is of peaches-- from one of the student farms.  I've had my own harvesting adventures in my own backyard, which I will be happy to elaborate on-- later in the blog :).

I love harvesting, I think it's one of the most beautiful things about farming.  Of course, it's a lot of work, and my back hurts, my day ends with a migraine.. not drinking enough? hot and muggy days??  But I have 4 overloaded boxes of peaches in the fridge and a brain full of imagination of how to use them??? The most I've been able to do as of now is.. to give it away :)

Harvesting at a university orchard, is a little different from a conventional one.. because it's all about recording the figures.  So every tree we had to record the number of peaches with particular kinds of imperfections.

The most common being:
-- Earwig bits
-- pecks-- which could be from birds or other bugs
-- bruises
--cat-facing -- a particular kind of insect which sucks the fruit from a needle like 'nose'  and causes funny misshaping of the surface of the fruit.  Often like a puckering effect.
-- birds -- looks kind of like an earwig bite, but the surface is a much bigger area and very jagged.

To begin with, this kind of sorting was easy, and a nice change from the hard labor that typically goes on in an orchard.  but after almost 7 hours of sorting, my head was pounding.. and I could hardly tell what kinda of scars were okay to sell at the supermarket and which weren't.  Suddenly everything started looking the same.

But perhaps, I was a bit too focused and a little under-hydrated.

I'm planning on registering for classes tomorrow, but my main professor is asking for my help in the field for wednesday, thursday and friday this week...

First week of classes.. no big right??  Lol, I hope they aren't.  I know that I'm basically the only one who is slightly more available then everyone else-- in terms of working in the university's farming operations.. it seems that university professors as well as grad students are completely overbooked with -- atleast in the ag department with lab work, field work, writing and etc.

I work with a lot of grad students and occasionally with professors.  I'm just hoping that I'll be able to keep an even mind in grad school.. without feeling swamped?? is it possible?  I'm gonna try.  I am gonna think happy thoughts and see if I can manage to have a relatively ... stress free time?

The secret?  Maybe it's possible to enjoy the process, enjoy learning, enjoy the experiments just enjoy the craziness.

I work with awesome people.  I think as long as I can believe in myself, and not be too hard on myself or stress too much about my to do list.. maybe I will be able to manage this adventure without too many grievances.

Anyway, I'm veering off topic.

It's harvest season!!

to add to my 4 boxes of peaches, I also have 3 huge bags of turnips.. which I am thinking of drying... freezing?  Might be interesting.  I could have a lot of fun with this!  I just have to get over my bit of a freeze up, as I've never preserved turnips before.

The other big harvest that I've managed this year, is actually lentils.

They grew so easily in my garden, but I am realizing that next time I will need to put a trellis up for them.  They did better next to hardy weeds which were strong and grew tall ( whoohooo for no-weeding gardens!)  But when next to grasses and such would fall over.. which wasn't that big of a deal, because they still produced many lentils!  And apparently they keep producing lentils until the season ends! So far I have one big bowl of lentils and I will need need to figure out the best way to dry them.

Granted, lentils are extremely labor and time consuming for not that much of a bounty.  But I did only pick the dry lentils off of the plant because I wanted to allow the plant to produce more lentils.  And if I had had help in the garden, it probably would have been a piece of cake.. and if I hadn't of chose to do it mid-day in the heat, probably would have been less intense.  lol, oh well.

But with many things happening-- all of the farms I have been visiting and classes which need to be registered for.. i'm just trying to figure out the best time to process all of my bountiful foods!  I'm hoping that they don't get bad meanwhile :( .  I am so lucky that I have excess turnips.. they've stayed awesomely good for months in my fridge.  Lol I love farming, but I am probably the laziest farmer ever.  Minimal work is best for me.. that's why -- really the most I do is water the garden.. and prep the beds in the spring.. other than that.. I'm totally handsoff.. But I do love harvest time.  And I'm trying to break into my love for processing/preserving!! It'll happen, surely!

Some things in the garden that didn't quite produce like some of my other farmer friends, were my squash and tomatoes.  Everyone seems to be having like.. huge harvests of these, but in my garden not so much.  I think the main issue, with this, was that I didn't really fertilize at all, I think these plants seem to be a little bit more nutrient intensive, so a bit of compost tea every week or just start out the plants with nice compost in the soil, will probably be enough to enjoy a big bounty.  But it's not really much of a loss, because all of my friends are producing more than enough, so I am still enjoying these wonderful foods.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gmo or no GMO?

I mentioned in the last post that I was going to write a series of commentaries on organic comebacks.  So here goes the next topic, GMO.

This is perhaps a little less scientifically oriented as perhaps a GMO activists would like it to be.  But, science can't deny the fact that some issues, just don't feel necessarily 'okay'.  Here are just a few reasons I feel that.  I don't claim to be anyone important or anyone who should know any more than anyone else.  I just felt like sharing what I currently view about these topics.  

I am not quite sure why I chose this specific article to go through and make rebuttals.  Although he is a 'botanist' and a professor.  I find his way of writing... a little over the top with caps locks, and sometimes quite un-meaningful claims.  But, he has written a lot, and if I am able to go through these reasons, I find it unlikely that any would be left out, he seems to have explained the pro-GMO argument quite extensively, even though his method of argument could use some editing .. in my opinion :)

Lol, I'll even address some of the claims that make me giggle.  Only because right now, I have nothing else urging to do, otherwise, I would probably think that this was a complete waste of time, but hehe anyway, here we go.

1-- organic supporters are fundamentalists-
 -- Sure, I can agree to that.  Organic agriculture does have a strict set of rules that needs to be followed in order to be labelled as such, without this strict adherence, there would be little meaning in the word 'organic'.  It ensures that artificial fertilizers aren't used, sludge isn't used, biodiversity is considered, alternative farming methods are considered, water and soil aren't contaminated with man made chemicals that have long- residual effects on the eco-system -- or even other natural elements.

-- being a fundamentalist isn't necessarily a bad.. or a good thing, it just is.  Even conventional agriculturists are fundamentalists in a way.  They are proponents of chemicals, gmos, of not changing the current system. If they were interested in another way... they would probably be a finding another way to do things.  

Of course that is on one side of the spectrum, the other side of the spectrum would be  totally against tilling, weeding, chemicals, gmos, etc etc, altogether.  

I've also met an organic farmer who was a huge proponent of GMO's-- of course she couldn't grow them with the organic label that she had, but there are all types of people.  Some fit more into specific categories than others.. in the end, fundamentalist doesn't mean much, mostly because the organic label was created by the USDA, and is managed by the USDA -- atleast in the USA, abroad there are different organizations that decide-- but it's all under international agreements about what organic means and how it ought to be labelled.  This was requested by the poeple and for the people.  

The author's next point is on the 'health' argument for/against organics.  I address that in a previous blog.  

But I will mention a tiny detail about what he says at the end of the paragraph -- about a study done to prove that conventional food is perfectly fit for consumption.

-- All I have to say is, "Can we really be sure, with 100% certainty that these biological toxins are safe in small doses on all of our foods, not just in our generation, but for the upcoming generations? Can any 2-4yr scientific experiment be enough to tell us with accuracy how this will affect our minds and bodies or those of our children 50,100 or 200 years down the line?"  

And by that time, if there are any kind of negative consequences associated, and we've invested all of our farmland into producing GMO's to 'save' the world... then... what...? 

2. Organic Farming takes up much more land than conventional farming.

In the end, organic and conventional means really nothing when it comes to how much land it takes up. Honestly, it's a style of farming, but within that either conventional or organic farming can be extremely land consuming, or can be literally produced in the backyard.

His argument is that organic farming needs manure, and if we are 9 or 10 billion soon to be people on earth, than we won't have enough manure to meet these needs.  Well, what about our excrement, we've got plenty!  But this is the assumption that organic farming needs manure.. which isn't always the case.  Organic farming doesn't necessarily need manure, or anything for that matter, there are plenty of farmers who don't actually put anything into their gardens.  Where I work the main source of nutrient is actually planting legumes interspersed with the crops.  This adds nitrogen back into the soil for a fraction of the cost of manure.  Also compost can be used, which essentially could be left over plant material, either plant residue or table scraps, or carrot tops, whatever, yard clippings.  Manure doesn't need to be used.

And currently synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is produced from using a non-renewable product. Natural gas.  Which is, in it's own regard land consuming, and polluting--when extraction doesn't go as planned.   Conventional farming systems use mono-crops, which doesn't really utilize all the vertical space that could be used for growing food.  Organic can include companion planting-- groundcovers, vines, tall plants, short plants, trees... the more mixed the operation the more the land can produce, not necessarily of one product but of many.  This in the long run is much healthier for the soil and more financially stable than only growing one crop.  Think of a farmer who only grows tomato... they have one bad pest year for tomatoes and their whole crop is finished, it might even put the farmer out of business if it's bad enough.  But if only part of his garden is tomatoes, he'll still get enough food and product to use and sell to not be totally destroyed as a farmer for that year.

3. Organic Agriculture can't feed the world.

Again, he is using the same reasons that he mentioned above for this point.  He says that we are already using all of the arable land, so the only way to increase production is to increase the productivity of the farm lands we are already have.

He says that with current models organic ag can only feed 4 billion people.  
 --- This may be true with the assumption that every person on earth needs animal products 3 or more times per day.  This is pretty unsustainable and actually, conventional farming can't even keep up with the demands of food for people today.  At the rate we are currently destroying the rain forest for these, "conventional practices"  We may find ourselves living in an a very oxygen deprived world.  :/  

These ideas that conventional practices can feed the world and will save the world, are nice thoughts, but the reality of it is, is that these countries that are currently providing the western world with all of their meat, foods, fibers and other products aren't really able to afford these agriculture chemicals and soil additions that the west can.  We've introduced them to this 'superior' way of life where we obtain a livelihood from destroying our surroundings.  Because they can't afford to buy these agro-chemicals, the lands can only produce food and fiber for a year or two before they have slash and burn the next segment of rainforest.  In places where it 'seems' like they can afford it, for example India -- because they are able to use pesticides and fertlizers on their land, its not because they can afford it, it's because they have taken out so many loans that are pretty much indentured servants to England and other countries who have set up these systems for them.  There are 100's of Indian farmer suicides every year because farmers feel completely lost and hopeless as to how they can ever get out of debt or ever make a proper livelihood for themselves.  

The more we emphasize organic, the more we can teach people how to be self sufficient how they can use the rainforest to acquire all the needs for their own livelihood sustainably--- for example brazilian nuts, are an example of a cash crop which can only grow in the most pristine forests, therefore, buying brazilian nuts, preserves those very delicate eco-systems.  We can teach those communities in South America about composting, about utilizing what they have available and to combine agroforestry with their crops so they can preserve more land.  (as well as every other place on earth currently destroying natural land for their livelihood)

Organic definitely isn't perfect, and it doesn't automatically mean that our problems will magically vanish.  But it is a step towards re-considering our current farming methods and ways in which we can do them more efficiently and also incorporating native wisdom-- before it's all gone.  Indigenous people have such history and such knowledge of their forests, who are we to say that our thinking/ rational brains and chemical laboratories are more beneficial than 10,000 year old wisdom??  

So far it hasn't failed us.. but at the rate that we are currently destroying the rainforests... it seems a little too obvious that red flags are in the air... that an alternative relationship to our natural world may be approaching, if humans wish to stay here a little longer.  

4.  The author puts a lot of emphasis that GMOS have been around for a whole, 20 years.  

How wonderful.  and twenty years is supposed to be a long time?  Plants are plants?  For some reason this argument as it is, just isn't enough of an argument for me to even want to say anything.  Ancient wisdom which has been around for 1,000's of years, where communities knew not to wash their dirty hands in streams because some society down stream would then have to deal with that in their water.... And today this.. All I have to say about GMO's is this,

Scientists are learning all the time about micro-nutrients and the perfect balances of substances found in plants continually.  Why is it not possible for human beings to survive on supplements alone?  
Why have their efforts to enrich white breads and pastas with nutrients haven't worked to provide superior food for people?  It may or may not be possible to survive on enriched white bread alone.. but I know how I feel after I've only had 1 meal of it.  

Scientists can do their best to make the 'healthiest' foods available.  But in the end, we haven't learned everything.  We don't know everything.  We are all children in a sense, we have only made hypothesis, and have tested them over and over again, but just because those results have seemed to fit our educated guesses, doesn't mean they have 100% accuracy.  I guess I would personally rather not play god.  I do think that nature is perfect as it is.  If bugs are eating our crops, so what.  If weeds are wanting to grow next to crops, so what.  This is life :)  This is how it's supposed to be.  If you feel like manipulating with plant genes and inserting fish genes into them--- in the end, there's nothing I can do or say to stop you.  But don't make me eat whatever you have created, because to me, it just seems weird and unnatural.  

Scientists also talk about putting more calcium into carrots and pesticides into plant cells.  

Here is my issue:

If every plant is a perfected composition of millions of years of evolution and we have for 1000s of years evolved with that process, how can we possibly make a better composition of genes from our thoughts... 

Nutritionists do the best they can to proportion nutrients in vitamin pills in a way that there aren't any excess nutrients, because excess nutrients can cause your body to leach other vital nutrients.  But in the end, it's a best guess, nutritionists can't explain why someone who gets all of their nutrients from actual fruits and vegetables are much healthier than someone who eats a standard diet and supplements with those same nutrients from a pill.  This is modern science.  Any nutritionist who says otherwise, isn't mainstream, and is following their intuition.  

So if we are manipulating plant genes so that they carry excess calcium?  We just don't know the effects that that may cause.  

If this was something people kind of took less seriously and people only had what, 1 gmo carrot every year or every other week even.  Nothing is most likely going to happen.  But the way our governments work, they like to subsidize what they think, is 'economically beneficial for the masses'  

For example a diet high in fruit and vegetables would be the healthiest.... However, filling people's bellies is higher on the priority, therefore, the government really subsidizes grains to help farmers grow more grains.  These become our staple crops.

These even become our staple crops for all of our farmed animals.

And according to this author, corn and wheat are actually completely made up varieties of plants... through breeding -- which I don't really have an issue with, as plants interbreed themselves all the time.  However I do find it interesting that corn doesn't get digested by the human gut and wheat is one of the biggest human allergens.  

... coincidental? If crazy breeding can create this for humans... what would be the effects of GMOS long term on the human?

Wheat and corn have already caused widespread hunger and malnutrition in many areas, as they aren't complete proteins and have fractions of the amino acids that many of the traditional grains that people grew had such as millet, quinoa, amaranth, etc. 

5-- Pesticide producing plants
BT-- a natural pesticide used in organic farming, however not allowed in BT producing GMO plants.
Okay, so this author finds the organic movement as hypocritical because they allow BT as a spray and they don't allow the genes to be intermixed with the crops they plant.

To me, this one is obvious.

Okay, if a pesticide is on the outside of your food, you can wash it before you eat it, plus it has no residual life, so by an hour or so after spraying.. it's no longer lingering in the environment it's already broken down.  If plants are made to produce this toxin.. it's always pumping out.. This is a bacteria.... could this cause your immune system to suffer, by eating all foods containing this toxin?  I don't know, but this idea disturbs my gut.

6-- Gmo's can be planted back.

Okay firstly... would we even want them to be planted back?  Actually this isn't exactly considered a good thing, a lot of measure is taken by scientists to make sure that these strains of 'super' plants don't get into the environment.  we think we have a problem with 'invasive weeds' currently..... well what happens when our genetically modified Frankenstein plants start invading the natural world?  

And if they don't spread and don't re-seed so easily.. well it's definitely better, but then what for those farmers who are stuck buying seed every year... with larger and larger bills to the scientific community for having to develop these seeds in a lab every year.  Something about this image, seems like.. planet zeroxtera.  Yes.. that planet doesn't exist.  Yes, this idea seems so foreign and unnatural to me that it's making me come up with strange planet names lol.

Maybe it's true organic farming won't feed the world
But if we can learn to create more natural places in our world and learn more about native plants, it may be able to significantly supplement our need for organic farms.  

Anyway, I enjoy my organic garden, I don't have to worry about the taste of chemical residues on my plants and I can see all the happy critters and creatures buzzing and living out their happy lives.

As long as I can have this close relationship with my surroundings, I'm going to.

And if in the meantime that makes me a hypocrite, a fundamentalist or an extremist.. than that's how it is.  But I enjoy seed saving and I enjoy this intimate relationship I have with the natural world and it's gifts.  Nothing needs to change or improve for me to be happy or for me to feel like the world needs to do anything differently.  

Let conventional farmers and scientists go on this crazy goose chase to save the world and create whatever life that floats their boat.  

I'll sit back, watch the sunset and play with the ladybugs.  at least whatever animals/insect they keep trying to eradicate will have a home at mine, and whatever indigenous peoples they try to convert, will hopefully instead follow the rhythm of their own intuition.  

May all beings find peace
May all beings find happiness


Monday, August 19, 2013

Change of plans...

My husband and I had tickets back to India, which we were forced to fore-go.  I received my visa, however he failed to receive his.  He is an overseas citizen, however since he has recently gone through a name change, it's been a little complicated lately.

So we've decided to stick it on for 3 more months in Utah.  Well for me, I think I'll be here for the next 2-3 years, honestly.  I just got admitted to USU.  I'll be starting in January on a master's in soil science.  I'm very excited, I feel like I have already learned so much from working in the department at USU for almost a year.. a few more months :)

And yes, I also had to forego my trip to Portugal, I was studying diligently every day Portuguese and was prepared to stay at a an eco-community and take a eco-restoration class.

It wasn't easy in the slightest to give up that trip, but after a thorough review of my options, it's not looking like I had much of any kind of option, apart from being here.  And if I felt like spending lots more money.. then it's possible to re-book tickets or whatever that comes with.

So lately I've been contemplating the idea of writing a book.

For the first time ever, someone mentioned that if I were to write a cookbook, they'd be the first to buy it.  This was a friend of my mom's.  It really got me thinking seriously about the possibility.  This morning I wrote an outline.

Of course it would start out with some kind of discretion, making sure people know that I am no doctor but I do feel like I've stumbled across a few tidbits of useful health information over the years.

My outline looked something like:
My Story
My Grandmother's story
Philosophy -- treatment of animals, ecology, organic food, comparison to the paleo-diet, raw vegan, healthiest way to fill your stomach, juicing, treating illness-- how to approach a loved one
Organic food-- what, why and how :)
Equipment and pantry

Of course after looking at this list, I started thinking it may have to be more than one book! I could title it.. more than you'd ever want to know about veganhood.  Or something lol.

To the food! or drinks..

Vegetable juices, elixirs, smoothies, sundaes

Amazing bfasts
including, hashbrowns, scrambles, pancakes -- pumpkin, blueberry, walnut...
Could also include:
Breakfast menus for the bravehearted.. or breakfast vitality menus
-- veg smoothies, steamed veggies, green smoothies, juices, salads.. combinations for a high energy day.

Raw lunches
-- including sandwiches, salads.. etc.

Hearty meals

Sauces and spreads

Beyond Healthy Desserts

I haven't actually seen anything like this before.. and I'm probably as cookbook obsessed as they get.  As I started putting the outline together.. I noticed that would definitely be half raw vegan/ half fun vegan-- including cooked recipes.

Both a balance of very tasteful, fun fanciful dishes as well as low salt, low sugar, whole grains, raw.. etc etc recipes to balance it out.

It's what makes life fun, eh?

 We will see how this idea moves along.  Maybe I can have like an itty bitty goal of working on it, something like 10 minutes a day.

I have 1 customer, lol. How can I let them down? But it may also be useful to put something like this together, just because, when I gift other vegan friend cookbooks, I always feel like... buying them atleast 5 cookbooks.. because it is difficult to find a cookbook that literally just has everything in it.

Plus, I think it's nice to be able to share the seriously miraculous things that have made all the difference in my life, and my grandmother's.  My husband and I, often get asked, the procedures, and at this point, I've written these stories out on so many separate occasions, it may be worth it to consolidate it all.

Anyway.  It's all ideas, I'm just talking to the air.  the web.. same difference :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Comeback Organic Arguments, Round I, Organic is 'not Healthier'

It's really amazing, how diverse people are.  Perspectives are so different that one issue will look like a godsend to someone and sinister to someone else.

Eating organic produce, is one of those subjects.  There are many extreme perspectives and many of which are found online. It's easy to tell, though when the author is getting emotionally activated, they often express their anger or confusion.  Which there is no issue with that, but from what I have been noticing, from researching organic articles and scientific journals, when there is emotional activation, often the facts are tweaked and presented in a way that isn't really fair to the argument.

In my opinion, the biggest reason to eat organic, is because the chemicals allowed in conventional agriculture are mostly synthetic.  And despite the research we have currently done, it's truly impossible for us to make accurate judgments on how these will affect our soils, water and bodies in 20,30,40 or 100 years from now.

Common arguments against organic agriculture (other arguments will come in later blogs):
1.  It's not healthier --
They claim that organic agriculture actually does use 'pesticides', that nutritional content is the same, and actually because they use manure, it's likely contaminated with E-coli.

Yes, organic agriculture is allowed to use 'pesticides'.  However, they are organically approved pesticides.  These don't include man made chemicals that aren't able to be broken down by natural processes in the soil.  Most soil organisms can consume anything and everything applied to the soil.  However, there are few man made chemicals, that nature doesn't quite know how to break down, and they persist in our natural world for long after our lifespans.  Those who claim organic agriculture apply much more 'pesticide' to the field are sometimes correct.  It's because when organic, or naturally derived pest control is sprayed in organic fields, it immediately starts breaking down.  This is why often more has to be applied to limit a 'pest' outbreak, but within days, the substance typically will be completely broken down.  But these are really the last measures for organic producers.  Many do their best to follow holistic pest practices, which are often preventative.  They will often use mixed crops to create more diversity in their garden, thereby diversifying the kinds of insects they have.  The more insects are present, the more nature will take care of any 'pest' overpopulation problems that may occur.

The nutritional argument isn't necessarily true.  In conventional agriculture, we have developed a system where farmers are dependent on synthetic nutrients.  The main ones being NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium).  These nutrients, even when over applied, mostly will just leach out of the soils, so actually it only hurts the farmers wallet if he applies more macronutrients (NPK) than the plants actually can benefit from.  In the beginning of this agro-industry age, micro-nutrients used to be added along with macronutrients to the soils, but companies slowly phased out the micronutrients (Zinc, Iron, Boron, Manganese, etc) in the synthetic fertilizers, perhaps due to cost, and perhaps due to farmers having difficulty with their plants.  If too much synthetic micro-nutrients get added to the soil, plants will suffer, and toxicity will occur, both for the plants and for those eating the plants.

When manure and compost are applied to the soil, everything is added back to the soil, micronutrients  and macronutrients.  When nutrients are derived from natural sources, it is almost impossible for farmers to add too much nutrients.  It's like saying that you will have a vitamin C toxicity if you eat too many oranges.  People will most likely get too full before ever experiencing a vitamin C overload from oranges.  However, give them a bottle of Vitamin C supplements, and it would actually be possible for them to get toxicity from eating too many supplements.  A farmer would obviously know not to bury his plant in manure, but it's often too difficult to know how much 'powdery' supplement (synthetic fertlizer) to add.  So actually in organic farms -- as long as they are adding composted material back on their land after harvesting, the produce would be higher in nutritional value than a farmer who had been farming the same soils for 20 years and only added NPK (which is more often the case then not).  The soil, works kind of like our bodies work.  If we don't eat enough, our body starts depleting our fat reserves, muscle reserves and even bone reserves to get the nutrients it needs to generate energy and new cells.

In the soil, plants are constantly taking nutrients out of the soil-- nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus work almost like calories do for people.  They give plants the energy they need to survive, however when we eat plants only fertilized with these macro-nutrients, suddenly we are getting less nutrients than our bodies have evolved to get from plants (because of the lack of micro-nutrients), we can survive, just not thrive.  Nutrient excesses or deficiencies tend to have more of an effect the further up the food chain you go.

The last argument about E-coli, is a bit of a hit or miss argument.  Organic certification does require inspections and paper work verifying when farmers apply manure to their fields --( atleast 90 days before harvest, which allows anything not fully composted a chance to become fully composted-- meaning E-coli wouldn't be an issue).

--Out of 18 reported cases of E-coli outbreaks in the past 7 years in the US, only 1 was from Organic Spinach and in the report they don't give any information as to how the contamination happened.  For all the consumer knows, it could have been a factory farm upstream that contaminated their water supply.  Without a proper report, no one can really make assumptions.

The bigger risk of E-coli is actually from meat and dairy products.

More Organic rebuttal rebuttals to come! 

Embracing the elements

It's interesting. We spend so much time learning and gathering all of the information about everything we are afraid of, or what we perceive as 'damaging'. Often times, we don't spend so much effort learning about that which supports us. 

Perhaps because we become blind to it, because we take it for granted? Here's a farming example: I'm currently doing a lot of research for a university, putting together fact sheets for sustainable fruit production. It's amazing how much literature and how much emphasis is put on 'weeds' and 'pests' and poisons that kill both and ways to 'destroy' their homes and their 'babies'. There is one bug in particular which does a lot of damage to fruit crops in the US-- which is associated with growing legumes along with fruit trees. This bug has several papers which have been written about it, and complete emphasis on how terrible it is. I looked up some of it's natural predators, and surprisingly enough it had several. Also, hardly if any literature came up on any of it's natural predators, for example-- ways to attract them into the garden, what they like.. etc. The whole focus of farming seems to be way off currently.

We are so afraid of having something we 'don't want' in the garden that we try to destroy everything in hopes that our crop will survive. This mentality is completely .. insane. I've noticed, from my own garden, honestly, I maybe have briefly removed a few big plants, or trimmed a few plants (that would be considered 'weeds' -- I honestly dislike the word, because it's misleading, it's assuming that there are good plants and bad plants, which I think there are only.. plants which have a variety of uses and benefits each) -- that were literally choking out plants I seeded. But mostly I let all and any plants grow. I don't spray, I do mulch areas of the garden looking like they need a little boost. But the garden is seriously more full of life, than I've seen it anywhere else. It's covered in spiderwebs, I see lots of lady bugs and preying mantises (all of which are predatory insects). I've had quite the bounty as well, with no 'pest' problems. Sure a few swiss chard leaves had a couple of bug bites, but if that's the worst, from having a vibrant garden using no chemical additives.. bring it on 

Gardeners sometimes assume that 'weeds' can only host, 'bad' insects. They also assume that spraying 'bad insects' will get rid of their infestations. Not necessarily, when you spray them, these sprays may be just as damaging, if not more damaging to those other insects that are its predators. Chemicals tend to concentrate the further you go up the foodchain.

Nature works together perfectly. The less we think we have to 'manage' things, the healthier everything will be. Let go of fears, embrace and learn about the beneficial elements, the interconnection of all life cycles.