Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Hundreds of herbal products to be outlawed across EU in early 2011

No real comment is necessary, except that the following is evidence of another attempt by governments and corporations to restrict and take control of our natural health:

A vital article by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor, in its entirety:

December 31, 2010

The global effort to outlaw herbs, vitamins and supplements is well under way, and in just four months, hundreds of herbal products will be criminalized in the UK and across the EU. It's all part of an EU directive passed in 2004 which erects "disproportionate" barriers against herbal remedies by requiring them to be "licensed" before they can be sold. It's called the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), Directive 2004/24/EC.

The licensing requirements, however, were intentionally designed to make sure that virtually no herbs could ever meet them. It costs from $125,000 to $180,000 to license a single herb with the EU, and since herbs cannot be patented and don't have the monopolistic pricing found in pharmaceuticals, there's simply not enough profit margin in most herbs to justify such huge expenditures from any one company.

But that's sort of the point. Governments of the world have been conspiring with the pharmaceutical industry for decades to destroy the competition by outlawing nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and many other forms of natural medicine.

They really are coming for your natural medicine
Some people in the USA are still skeptical that this could ever happen in the "land of the free," yet it's happening in Europe right now, and the U.S. is probably not far behind. In just four months, health food stores in the UK will be stripped bare of these suddenly "illegal" herbs, and the many millions of people who have come to depend on them as a safe, natural and non-invasive form of medicine will be forced to pursue pharmaceuticals instead of herbs.

And that's also the point. By driving these products off the shelves, governments know they will simultaneously herd people into doctors' offices where they will be prescribed medications that benefit the wealthy corporations that keep politicians in office (in every Western nation).

It may also drive people to acquire herbs from sources that have poor quality controls. As Dr Rob Verkerk of the Alliance For Natural Health said in an Independent article, "Thousands of people across Europe rely on herbal medicines to improve their quality of life. They don't take them because they are sick - they take them to keep healthy. If these medicines are taken off the market, people will try and find them elsewhere, such as from the internet, where there is a genuine risk they will get low quality products, that either don't work or are adulterated." (

You must beg the King for permission
The MHRA (UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has received 166 applications for herbal product licensing and has granted 78 so far. Do you see how this works? Now you must be "granted" a license in order to exercise your Natural Law right to engage in the free commerce of Mother Nature's plants. Big Government has stolen from European citizens their natural rights and is now condemning many of them to suffering or even death as a result.

That's how governments always work in the end: they expand their power at the expense of your freedom. They centralize control over your life while maximizing the profits of the powerful corporations that keep them in business. You're watching it happen right now across Europe, and if we don't put a stop to this, it will soon happen in the United States as well. It's already under way, in fact, with the FDA's outlawing of scientifically-validated free speech about nutritional supplements. There's also a war under way on raw milk, and need I even mention the decades-long war being waged against medical marijuana?

Which herbs are under threat of being banned?
Here are some of the hundreds of herbs that are about to be banned across Europe:
• Ashwagandha
• Cascara Sagrada
Pau D'Arco
• Skullcap
• Horny Goat Weed
... and hundreds more, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas.

Sign the petition
Efforts are under way in Europe to try to reverse this highly destructive directive. You can sign this petition at:

Also, the European office of the Alliance for Natural Health is working diligently to attempt to protect health freedom for EU citizens:

They could really use your support right now if you're considering an end-of-year donation of some kind. Health freedom is worth defending, and as we're seeing right now, if we don't take a stand against this, we will all lose our access to natural remedies, vitamins, supplements and perhaps even naturopathic medicine.

There really is a global conspiracy to force you to take pharmaceuticals and surrender your body to conventional medicine. Governments around the world absolutely do not want you to have free choice about how to treat your own health, because "choice" implies that you, like literally billions of other people across the planet, might not choose to poison yourself with conventional medicine's deadly drugs.

More sources of articles to read

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two bad Bills

In this country we have Bill C36 to contend with. To very little fanfare, it became law in Canada on December 14, 2010. The full ramifications of this nasty bill are not being disclosed in some mainstream news sources. Under Bill C36, police and Health Canada inspectors no longer require a warrant to enter private property in Canada. Now enshrined in law, both bodies have powers to remove anything from a business or home, and do not have to report what was taken to the local court. Natural health advocates fear that this is a precursor for another bill that will give Health Canada the power to take some 75% of natural health products off the shelves.

South of the border, The United States House of Representatives has just passed Bill S 510.
The indefatigable Mike Adams writes passionately about this in the following article:
Full article:
Congress sticks it to U.S. farmers with passage of food safety bill that will actually cause fresh produce to be more dangerous
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2751 yesterday with a 216 to 144 vote (yes, many members of the House did not even vote). The so-called Food Safety Modernization Act now heads to the President to be signed into law.

When witnessing such a moment in history when the federal government greatly expands its power over an entire industry, it's important to understand the Law of Unintended Consequences. Virtually everything bad that happens after a bill gets passed is due to this Law of Unintended Consequences.

On the surface, the intention behind the food safety bill seems innocent enough: Let's all protect the food supply and prevent people from getting sick due to e.coli and salmonella exposure. But the reality of the result that emerges from the law is quite different.
Get ready for more dangerous, pesticide-ridden food from south of the border
Because the S.510 / HR 2751 food safety bill places an enormous new burden on U.S. farmers - yes, even small farms that are supposedly "exempt" - it's going to drive many farmers out of business.

It will also erect new barriers to farmers entering the food production business, and this is especially true for the small local farmers who grow food for local co-ops, farmers' markets and CSA organizations (Community Supported Agriculture). What we're going to see from all this, then, is the following:

• A reduction in the available SUPPLY of fresh local produce.
• A loss of local farming know-how and food sustainability.
• The financial failure of CSAs, food co-ops and small local markets.
• The loss of countless jobs that were related to local food production.
• An INCREASE in the price of local food, especially organic food.
Food safety bill does nothing to address food imports
At the same time these huge regulatory burdens are thrust upon U.S. farmers, there are no new regulations required for food grown outside the United States.

This means that food coming into the USA from Mexico, Chile, Peru or anywhere else does not have to meet S.510 food safety regulations at all. The FDA, after all, doesn't inspect greenhouses in Mexico or grape farms in Chile which export their products to the United States.

Furthermore, many dangerous chemical pesticides that have been banned in the USA are legal to use elsewhere, and foods treated with those pesticides are perfectly legal to import into the United States. So instead of buying food grown in the United States on small, organic farms, more U.S. consumers are going to be buying food grown elsewhere that's treated with extremely toxic pesticides.

Here are some of the unintended consequences of all this:

• An INCREASE in the importation of fresh produce from other countries.

• A worsening of the agricultural trade imbalance between the U.S. and other nations.

• An INCREASE in the pesticide contamination of fresh produce sold at U.S. grocery stores.

• An INCREASE in agriculture jobs in Mexico, Chile, Peru and elsewhere, even while agriculture jobs are lost in the USA.

• A DECREASE in the overall safety of the food supply because now the proportion of foods imported from foreign countries with little or no regulatory oversight will greatly expand compared to U.S. grown foods.

In effect, then, what Congress has done is impaired the competitiveness of U.S. farms, shifted farming jobs out of the country, increased the pesticide residues in fresh produce sold in U.S. grocery stores and harmed local food security and sustainability by driving small, local farmers out of business.

Such is the nature of the Law of Unintended Consequences. And such is the nature of just about everything that Big Government tries to do when it threatens to "solve problems" by expanding its regulatory control over almost any industry.
We need food security in America
What Congress fails to understand is that we need food security far more than we need more FDA regulations. The knowledge base of local farmers who know how to grow, harvest and distribute food is far more valuable to the security of our nation than preventing a relatively small number of people from getting sick from e.coli each year (even if such a trade-off were a simplistic equation, which it isn't). Because if we lose food security, then we become slaves to the big corporate food producers who are attempting to centralize food production and place food, seeds and crops under their absolute control.

A cynic might even suggest that was the whole purpose of the food safety bill in the first place: To destroy small farmers and centralize food production power in the hands of a few wealthy corporations. Whether that was the intent or not, it is certainly going to be the effect.

What Congress has done with this food safety bill, in effect, is to cripple America's food production know-how and poison the population with far more dangerous pesticide-ridden produce that will now be imported from other countries instead. This bill should have been called the "Mexico Farming Jobs Act" because it's going to shift countless jobs south of the border as farms in the USA realize they simply can't operate under the immense burden of FDA regulatory tyranny.
What's the definition of insanity?
It all makes you wonder what the members of Congress are really thinking. Don't they ever step back and attempt to consider the real-world ramifications of their actions?

Time and time again, the U.S. government seems to do the opposite of what would reasonably be required to solve problems. Think about it: When the U.S. government wanted to stop Wall Street bankers and investment firms from wasting money, it simply handed them a few trillion dollars in new money so they could waste more.

When the government wanted to end debt spending, it spent more debt money out of the foolish belief that you can somehow end your debt by going deeper into it.

When the government claimed it would reduce your health care costs and cover everyone with health insurance, it passed a sick-care law that has only seen health care costs spiraling out of control while insurers cancel policies and end coverage for many children.

And now, the government claims to be making your food safer even though the real impact of the new law will be to make your food far more dangerous while destroying U.S. farming jobs.

This is why those who really know government also know that they who govern best govern the least. Instead of trying to "fix" all the nation's problems by meddling with the actions of hard-working people trying to make a living (such as organic farmers), the government needs to simply get out of the way and let farmers produce their food without the heavy regulatory burden of the FDA - an agency that we know is frequently engaged in actions that can only be called criminal in nature (
Get ready for skyrocketing food prices in 2011 - 2013
With the passage of this food safety bill, I am now publicly predicting skyrocketing food prices over the next two years. We will see fresh, local produce become increasingly more expensive and more difficult to acquire. Many local farmers will shutter their businesses, and farming know-how will be lost for perhaps a generation. The damage that will be done to America's food security and agricultural base is incalculable.

Such is the price we shall all pay for allowing our representatives in Washington to once again violate our Natural Right to grow food and exchange it for goods or cash with our neighbors. The reason this Natural Right was never even mentioned in the US Constitution, by the way, is because the right to grow your own food without government interference is such an obvious "Natural Right" (a God-given right, or a right that is self-evident) that our forefathers never imagined such a right would be infringed by the federal government.

Or if a right were ever infringed by the federal government, our forefathers were certain that the citizens of the United States of America would exercise their other Constitutional rights to nullify the attempted overreaching authority of the federal government and thereby restore their freedoms. Sadly, such a solution does not work when the majority of the population is lulled into a false sense of freedom by a government that deliberately lies to them on a daily basis. Freedom does not exist with the vast majority of the population has no interest in defending it.
Vegetable gardeners can learn something from marijuana growers
Better buy yourself some heirloom seeds while you have the chance. Plant your stealth garden and cover it with camouflage so the government can't see it and order you to destroy it. Soon, backyard vegetable gardeners will need to operate like marijuana growers and start hiding their food from government's prying eyes.

No doubt the U.S. federal government will start using spy satellites to identify "unregistered gardens" that will be targeted for termination. Soon, small farmers may even be raided by armed FDA agents who terrorize their operations and seize cabbages. Seriously.

It sounds crazy today, I know. But a decade ago, no one thought the government would ever outlaw raw cow's milk and arrest ranchers for selling milk to their neighbors, and that's now happening on a regular basis.

In five years, FDA farm raids may be routine. That is, if there's anything left of the federal government (as we know it) in five years. I'm not sure how long they can keep up the financial house of cards, frankly. Always remember this enlightening fact: The entire federal government is just one paycheck away from collapse. I wonder how long FDA inspectors will keep harassing farmers if their paychecks stop? Remember, FDA employees have no loyalty to anything other than their paychecks. Once the money from Washington stops, the army of FDA mercenaries collapses virtually overnight.

And the resilient farmers of America will win in the end, I have no doubt. If I had to choose to live on a deserted island with either ten North Carolina farmers or ten FDA bureaucrats, the choice would be a no-brainer. Farmers can keep you alive. FDA bureaucrats will only stab you in the back, steal your coconuts, and refuse to do any actual work on their own.

They are, after all, parasites who feed on taxpayer dollars and lend nothing of value to society. If the FDA actually did anything useful at all, it would have banned mercury fillings to protect the public from mercury toxicity (

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to change the world by buying organic....

A prime motivation in this blog is sharing information, news and views about healthy organic food and its apposite, products factory-processed for human consumption by unloving mega-corporations. One of the clearest and sharpest voices is Mike Adams, editor of the always-current Natural News,
From time to time, I will be re-printing some of his most pertinent posts. This one is a classic.

First published September 28, 2005
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of

You have the power in your hands to change the world. This change ripples out from you in concentric circles, and it all starts with decisions you make at the grocery store because what you choose to buy and consume impacts the world in many powerful ways that you may have never been aware of. Every purchasing decision you make changes the world, but that's a sort of nebulous idea. It's kind of a big idea to grasp, so let's start with something a little simpler. Let's start with how changing your decision at the grocery store changes you and your life, and then we'll move out from there.

How foods affect your physical existence
Let's start with talking about how you exist as a human being. You exist at many different levels and one of them – of course, the most obvious one – is the physical level. In other words, you have physical matter, you have mass and you have substance. This makes up your body and your organs. For a moment, we'll ignore the argument that all your physical matter is just energy, which it is, and stick with the Newtonian view of reality here and talk about the physical you.
This physical you has certain needs. You have to put a certain amount of food through your body. It has to physically move through your body in order to be digested and utilized, so you also have a physical need for certain types of food. These food decisions, the purchasing decisions you make at the grocery store, can alter your physical body. If you begin to avoid purchasing foods and products that contain poisons or dangerous ingredients that I call metabolic disruptors, you can avoid the chronic diseases that most people are experiencing because those diseases are caused by those ingredients.

For example, we know that hydrogenated oils cause heart disease and nervous system disorders. We know that monosodium glutamate and excitotoxins promote obesity and migraines. We know that sodium nitrate, a common preservative found in most meat products, causes pancreatic cancer and colon cancer. We know that artificial food color ingredients promote attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, learning disabilities and so on. There are many other ingredients that cause physical problems as well as problems that go beyond the physical you, but again, we're just talking about the physical, so that's the first level of impact.

Imagine there is an outline of your body which represents the physical impact of the foods that you choose to buy. So, if you're at a grocery store and you're trying to decide between two different crackers - one cracker product is made with hydrogenated oils and another cracker product beside it is made with zero trans fats, no hydrogenated oil and no MSG - then by changing your decision right there at the point of purchase, you're changing the physical impact on your body. Now, that physical impact may not be experienced until a day or two later, and it may not really be obvious unless you make this decision thousands of times over and over again over a period of years, but it does make a difference. It is choosing a different path in your life.

How foods affect your chemical existence
Now, that's just the first level, so what happens next? You also exist at a biochemical level, so you have all this physical matter, but what's actually making this physical matter work is chemistry. Inside your body, you have chemistry that breaks down the amino acids found in foods. You have chemistry that moves water and sodium through the cells of your body. You have enzymes and various enzymatic reactions taking place throughout your body during every living moment. There is a lot of chemistry going on.
Today, most chronic diseases are described in terms of chemistry, even though that's not necessarily the level at which they originate. Cardiovascular disease can be described as a chemical disorder, as something wrong with the lipids in your blood, for example. Poor digestion might be said to be chemically caused because you're not making enough hydrochloric acid in your stomach, for example. Cancer is also often described in terms of its chemical nature, with the explanation that the chemical molecules in your body or your immune system aren't functioning correctly.

You have all this chemistry that is taking place in your body, and what you choose to eat modifies your chemistry. If you choose to buy a grocery store product that contains a lot of white flour and refined sugars, that's going to alter the chemistry of your body when you consume and digest it. It will make your body more acidic and deplete it of certain nutrients - like vitamins, minerals and other nutrients - that are necessary for enzymatic reactions. However, if you make good decisions at the grocery store and choose, for example, to purchase healthy oils - like macadamia nut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil or even unprocessed coconut oil - then your chemistry is going to be much healthier. Your blood chemistry profile will be positive rather than negative. It will indicate health rather than disease.

All these biochemical effects take place and, of course, affect your mental function because the brain is an organ that depends on chemistry for its function. When you have the right foods based on the right decisions you make at the grocery store, you end up with the right chemistry. I think my own health statistics demonstrate that if you make the right decisions, you can create outstanding chemistry that's very easy to verify in a laboratory analysis. It's a direct cause and effect relationship. If you stop eating the foods that are heavily advertised and ignore the advice of nutritionists, dietitians and doctors who are still pushing old-school nutrition, and instead start eating natural and organic foods, healthy oils and plant-based fats, while avoiding toxic ingredients – including red meat, dairy products and excitotoxins – then you, too, can create healthy blood chemistry that you can verify with simple laboratory analysis. It's very straightforward.

To represent this chemical level around your body, draw a larger circle around your body, a second outline; this is the biochemical layer of effect that you're creating by making new decisions at the grocery store.

Bioenergetics: Homeopathic foods enhance your body's energy
The third level is what I call bioenergetic. Just as you are a physical and chemical being, you are also an energetic being. In fact, everything that is chemistry is really just energy, and everything that is physical is really just energy, too. From a physics point of view, there's nothing really there. There is no physical matter in your body; it's all just energy vibrating at certain frequencies with certain interactions.
However, I'm not talking about that type of energy here. I'm talking about the energy of foods, because foods have a homeopathic quality. Every product you choose to consume has an energy; you could call it a feeling. A food that is grown in nature - that has been born in the soil and grows up under the sun with clean air, clean water, clean soils and under the care of small organic family farmers who used care and honesty - creates love, health and connection in your body. Just as homeopathic water has a scientifically proven effect in living systems (including humans and animals), the homeopathic quality of foods also has such an effect. This is not something that has been well studied. The information you're getting here is probably 10 to 15 years ahead of science, but someday I have no doubt that the homeopathic qualities of foods will someday be recognized and measured and will ultimately be found to be very important to the health effects of those foods.

You can create positive energy in foods by praying over them or even chanting over them in a mantra, the way Tibetan monks would do, for example. You can create positive energies in food by giving them clean, pure water, such as unpolluted rainwater. You can use organic soils that have microorganisms in them, so that they're living in balance with the natural ecosystem. You can create positive energy by having the foods harvested by people who are happy to be doing this work, who are not slave workers and who are making a fair wage, either by farming or wild harvesting these foods. This is how you create healthy foods, and when you purchase something at the grocery store, the closer you can get to that vibration of happiness, the healthier the energetic effect is going to be on your body. This is one reason to buy organic foods; not just because they don't have pesticides, but also because they are literally happier foods. They're healthier for your mind, your body and your entire energy system.

In contrast to that, most of the foods that are available in grocery stores (and certainly at restaurants) are really unhappy foods. They are foods that have been grown in unnatural environments. They've been bombarded with pesticides or herbicides. They have not been given clean water and, more importantly, have been planted and harvested under a system of greed, exploitation and corporate farming. Then, they've been processed and had their nutrients stripped away. They've been re-formed and combined with various chemicals, such as preservatives and taste enhancers, and have been packaged in pretty boxes and put on the shelf in the grocery store.

That is a very unhappy food and, if it comes from unhappy animals, then it's even less happy. If it's from cows that have been fed the ground-up parts of other animals, which are routinely fed to cows today, and if these cows have been slaughtered in an inhumane way - which is the way virtually all cows, pigs and chickens are slaughtered today, cooped up in tiny compartments and not being given access to fresh air, sunlight and fresh water - then they are not just unhappy animals; they are probably insane animals. They are what I call mad chickens or insane cows. Even though this makes it easier for animal ranchers to make money, it creates a problem with the final food product: the problem is that that beef, chicken or pork has been imprinted with emotions like anger, greed and terror because of the slaughtering process, and these traits of the food are passed on directly to the consumer.

It's not listed on the box and it hasn't been scientifically proven yet - again, this is years ahead of the science - but it is very much true that if you eat angry red meat, you're going to become an angry person. (You are what you eat, remember?) In fact, this part of it is not so difficult to confirm. You can go out and question a thousand people, find out who's more peaceful versus who's more angry about anything in the world or in their own lives, and you'll find that the really angry people tend to eat a lot of red meat, while those who try to propose solutions, are all about helping people and who give more than they take, are people who don't eat red meat. Vegetarians tend to be happier, more pleasant, less aggressive people than meat eaters, and for years, people have wondered why. Well, I think this is the answer: it's because of the energetic quality of the foods.

The costs of buying non-organic go far beyond money
Again, when you're making that purchasing decision at the grocery store, what you're purchasing has an energetic effect. If you have two pieces of beef on the shelf in front of you, and one piece is $3 a pound and from a cow that has been raised in a terrible environment - that has been fed chicken litter, pumped up full of hormones, has had no access to the outside and has been abused in an inhumane way by corporate ranching operations - then that's going to have a very destructive, negative effect on your energetic health. But if beside that package you have a piece of beef that is $6 a pound and from a free-range, organic cow that has been fed fresh grass, has been able to run freely in open fields and has been treated with a degree of respect by the rancher, then that piece of meat, even though it costs twice as much, delivers so much more in terms of its energetic qualities to you. Yes, you're still eating red meat, and there are still negative health effects from the overconsumption of red meat, but at least you're not poisoning your energetic system as you would be with the conventionally raised meat that's only $3 a pound.
So, that's the energetic effect of the foods you choose to purchase from the grocery store and consume. However, there's a much bigger ripple effect from all of this. Think about it: when you purchase a piece of meat and you choose the organic, free-range cow over the conventionally-raised cow, you actually create demand for organic free-range beef and reduce demand for pesticide-laden, conventionally-raised, abused red meat. You see, every time you purchase a hamburger that has not been raised organically and ethically, you are in effect partly responsible for the raising, slaughtering and abuse of a living, breathing mammal - a cow.

That beef didn't come out of the sky; it came from the flesh of a living animal. When you purchase that flesh, you create economic incentives for people to keep raising those animals - to give birth to another cow, raise it, slaughter it and put it on the shelf to replace the beef you just bought; whereas, if you buy organic beef, you create demand on the organic side. You reward the organic farmer for treating the cattle in a better way. So, you vote with your dollars; you create demand curves that are then met by supply. Everything you purchase has a ripple effect that goes way beyond your physical, chemical or energetic self and goes into the community and planet at large.

How your buying power influences your community
If you haven't done so already, draw a third circle around yourself; that's the energetic level. Now, draw a fourth, much larger circle; this is the community level. This is where you're affecting your local community and the demand curves for various foods and ingredients. By changing what you buy, you change what farmers will grow and how they will grow it. You change what ranchers do to their animals. You change it all, just by choosing what you buy. It can literally be a product right next to another product on the shelf. They can be two inches apart, but they can make a world of difference. If you move your hand six inches to the right and pick up that organic beef, you are making a huge difference in the lives of organic farmers, in saving the planet from pesticides and reducing the revenues for companies that manufacture bovine growth hormones. You're also making the difference in the quality of life of the animal that has been sacrificed to provide you food. In my view, the only way to honor that animal is to choose the best possible existence for that animal. If you're going to consume their flesh, you should at least honor them enough to grant them an organic, free-range existence.
Your choices affect the sources of those foods as well. If you buy from small, local organic growers, like you might find at a farmer's market or local co-op, then you are supporting sustainable farming and local families who have the knowledge and the determination to work close to the earth in an honorable profession. When you purchase from these local organic farmers, you are supporting a way of life that is truly sacred; a way of life that, frankly, more of us would do well to emulate. That way of life includes farming organic produce from the earth in the local sustainable way that honors nature. That's a miracle in action, and every time you purchase those foods, you support those local community miracles.

If you want your community to be made up of farmers who know the land, who can deliver fresh organic produce and who honor the earth, then that's what you need to buy because you support whatever you buy. On the other hand, if you want an earth that is scorched with pesticides, with polluted rivers, increasingly unlivable oceans, polluted produce and heavy metals in your soils, and if you want a system of corporate greed and exploitation, then go ahead and buy the non-organic fruits, vegetables and processed foods because that's what you're going to create by making that decision.

Corporate farming isn't sustainable farming
This brings us to one more level - the corporate level, or the business model level. Everything you choose at the grocery store is a vote for a certain type of business model. If you choose small organic family farms, then that's what you create. If you choose mega-corporations who sell food only because it's something that makes money, just the same as drugs make money or cigarettes make money, that's what you choose to support, as well. In fact, Phillip Morris owns Kraft, a food company that makes thousands and thousands of processed food products. A cigarette company owns a food company that sells you all those processed foods, and I think that's bad for the environment. I think it's bad for the world, and it's the bad corporate model for producing and delivering food products. I don't think it's a sustainable model.
You have so much influence by making these simple decisions at the grocery store. Just by choosing one box over another or one package over another, or picking apples from one bin instead of the bin next to that, you literally change the world because you shift the demand curve. You vote for a type of product. You vote for the way animals should be treated if there are animal products involved. You vote for a business model. You vote for the model of environmental protection that is practiced by these organizations. You affect each and every one of these things just by making a simple purchase decision.

You see, the world becomes what you consume. If you look at it collectively, the products that each of us purchases and consumes amount to the corporate world we have created. It's as if the consumers have created all of this because they have been blind to the effects of what they are doing. The mistake consumers make is that most of them shop based on price. There's no question that the mass-production, corporate-farming, pollution-creating system of producing food is very efficient in terms of retail economics; that is, if you only consider the direct costs. They can give you a slab of meat, a box of cookies or a bag of breakfast cereal more cheaply than organic farmers or small family farms can ever do, and they can probably have a prettier box and make it taste a little better with artificial flavors and more visually appealing with artificial colors. They have a bigger marketing budget because there's so much profit in those nutritionally-depleted foods that they can spend literally billions of dollars a year on advertising to convince people to buy these foods, making sure that those people never learn the true implications of what their purchasing decisions mean.

Now, I got to thinking, "What if products actually showed the effects of what they cause right there on the box, anytime you purchased them? What if every box of cereal, for example, had a little video screen on it, and when you purchased the box you would see a little video of what it causes?" You might see really angry farmers plowing in the field, or if you purchase some canned soup with some meat in it, you might hear the scream of a dying cow. You might see some dead fish floating through the surface of a polluted river, or you might see ocean life or coral reefs dying. You might see a dark, polluted earth with polluted sky and water; that's what really should be on the fronts of these food boxes, because that's the effect.

You might see exploited farmers in Mexico, Brazil or other countries who are essentially working under slave conditions to bring you these foods at prices that generate profits for these corporations. You might see an image of Mother Nature herself, screaming, horrified at how her gifts to humankind are being exploited and stripped away of all their healing powers and packaged into these pretty boxes so that you, the consumer, could buy them. If the product itself really told the truth about what it caused, people would be horrified.

Consumers are unaware of the consequences of buying non-organic
The only reason people continue to buy these things is because they don't know the indirect consequences of what they're doing. When they pick up a package of meat, they don't hear the scream of the terrified cow that has been slaughtered in inhumane conditions - the cow who hardly ever saw the light of day, was separated from its mother at a young age, never given any sort of humane treatment and fed ground-up parts of other dead animals, including dead dogs and cats, road-kill and chickens. All of these things are fed to cows today (in fact, they are USDA-approved).
If you saw that on the package of meat, you'd throw it away in a hurry. You'd never buy that package. If you saw the greedy look in the eyes of the CEOs of corporations that were harvesting this meat and growing these cows for nothing but profit, with no sense of ethics and no sense of honor in these animals, and you could see pictures of them stuffing dollars in their pockets and laughing while you consume products with detrimental health effects, you'd never buy that product. You'd put it down in a hurry.

If the packages really told the truth, you'd change your grocery shopping habits in an instant because when you bought fresh fruits, like organic blueberries from a local, family-owned farm, you'd see an image of Mother Nature smiling. You'd see health sprouting out of this package and into your body, as blueberries help enhance your cardiovascular health, provide antioxidants, fight cancer, protect your eyes from vision loss and offer a whole host of other benefits. You'd see happy farmers working with their families, who have created a sustainable revenue model, who honor the earth, who love the soil and who are doing this because they feel passionate about farming and working close to Mother Nature.

That's what you'd see on the package, and you'd say, "Yes, this is the kind of food I want to feed myself, my family, my children and my community. This is what we need." You'd see images of clean running rivers and streams because there are no pesticide runoffs. You'd see oceans thriving with life because there are no poisons coming from the land being used to grow these blueberries.

If the packages really told the truth, you'd see the horrifying images of what the non-organic, corporate-created products do to you and the world, and in contrast to that, you'd see the beautiful, wondrous, creative, positive effects of organic foods and organically-raised animals and how these foods create a positive, healthy impact on you, your community and your world.

That's what I mean when I say you can change the world by making a different decision at the grocery store. When they first hear that, a lot of people think it couldn't possibly be true and that I'm just spending an extra $2 on an organic product. "Why would you do that?" They say. "Why would you spend twice as much money just because it says 'organic' on it?" Well, here's the reason: it's because of everything that it impacts. It's all those concentric waves emanating out from your decision like ripples in a pond. What you do in that moment of decision in a grocery store affects the entire world. You have the power within you to change the world, to vote with your dollars for the kind of world that you want to create - the kind of world that treats animals ethically, that honors nature and its gifts to mankind and that has the kind of sustainable farming methods that don't make the rivers, streams, soils, oceans and air toxic. You have the power to create the future based on what you consume right now.

Do you see why price is the least important of these factors? What's the good of saving a dollar or two on the package of so-called 'foods' if you're poisoning the planet and supporting a corporate empire of exploitation and destruction that would bring you this food a couple dollars cheaper at the expense of the very planet that brought you that gift in the first place? When you buy non-organic, you're not really saving any money; you're dooming the planet.

When you buy organic, on the other hand, you are saving everything that matters. You're saving the small family farms, sustainable farming methods, your own health and the rivers, streams and oceans; you're saving a whole system of honoring Mother Nature. So, the best savings at a grocery store can only be experienced if you're buying organic because, if you buy non-organic, corporate food or processed foods, you're not only getting ripped off yourself; you're ripping off the community and the planet, and you're ripping yourself off at every level - physical, chemical and energetic. However, when you buy organic, you're saving yourself at every level, and you're giving yourself these intangible benefits that are priceless.

Remember: You have the power to change the world inside you right now, and I urge you to exercise it the next time you are at a grocery store making a purchasing decision. The world and its oceans, animals and revenue models are all at stake. The responsibility for making the right decision rests on your shoulders, on my shoulders and on the shoulders of all consumers everywhere, because the only way we are going to change this modern food system is to shift the demand curves. We must force companies to stop poisoning our planet by making it unprofitable for them to do so, and the only way we can do that is by changing our purchasing habits at the grocery store. Change what you buy, and you will change the world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A bumper year

2009 had been a trying year, with a cool wet spring followed by a mediocre summer of only spotty heat. From the very get-go, 2010 was a bumper year for us on the farm. After an exceptionally mild winter with very little snow, spring blew in early. As Natasha noted, it was an incredibly fecund time, with  blossoms full on the fruit trees, birds busy and abundant, and seeds getting off to a fast start. The growhouses seeded in mid-March were in full production by mid-April, and I was without markets for all the arugula, lettuce mix, mescluns, spinach until the first farmers market and chefs’ awakening to local availability of produce in mid-May. The previous year had frustrated by not yielding any decent harvest of arugula until August; here we were with plenty of the stuff from April right through to December.

Natasha helped me hit the ground running with weeks of hard graft combined with stimulating, wide-ranging dialogue as one glorious spring day followed the next. We planted and weeded as the weeds grew in every bit as fecund as the plants. Grasses and sprouted grain from last year’s straw mulch blanketed the beds and made early harvests a nightmare to prepare for market. Gundi and Meredith formed a great team of salad washers, sifters, spinners, weighers, and baggers, but I did incur their wrath with each new bin of salad and grass in equal measure. We got through it and Lukash braved the heat and the picky weeding with no fuss. Perseverance paid off with an endless stream of fresh-picked, pre-washed greens, beets and carrots for two Toronto farmers markets, three Toronto restaurants, and five local restaurants each and every week, from May through November.

All through the growing and market season the weather was ideal – a lovely warm spring with regular rainfall was followed by a hot summer, warm fall likewise blessed with ideal moisture. This was the opportunity for our farm to step up to the plate, our first season selling solo. After four years with Quinte Organic Farmers Co-operative and a year in tandem with Trentview Farm, we set up at Riverdale and Brickworks farmers markets as Rolling Hills Organics. This meant stepping up production and taking over sales of Peter Southward’s grass-fed and grass-finished Dexter beef. The cattle are maintained by John McGriskin at his farm in Omemee and I order a whole beef as required, cut to our specifications. Customers were grateful for the ongoing supply of prime cut steaks, roasts, ground, and stewing and we took on new converts through the year.

Bountiful reward for the increased production was the unprecedented sales tally at the end of each market. I figured that selling out almost every market and the occasional four-figure take-home was not bad going for a small operation such as ours. Our customers went with gusto for the garlic scape, citrus basil, arugula, and sun-dried tomato pestos, created con brio by Gundi. They clamoured for more of the Seville orange marmalade made over the winter. The six blends of herbal teas found a very select audience, and late in the season, our own Northumberland Hills honey was added to the mix and well received.

On the down-side, heirloom tomatoes in the growhouses were not ventilated well enough and succumbed to leaf mould during a particularly hot and humid spell when I must have over-watered. Having pruned them way back and seen the blight continue to spread, I evacuated them all and determined never to grow them again, particularly when other growers had a spate of sundry beauties. Next year, it will be spring and fall greens and herbs only in the growhouses.

Christina was a huge help all year, at market developing relationships with customers (especially mothers and their offspring) and vouching for the flavour, nutritional value, freshness of all we showcased. And she delivered a steady stream of orders for three top Toronto restaurants whose owners and chefs she has a strong bond with. Apart from the rapport with customers and the strong sales, we had a lot of fun working together. And I have to add that I’ve probably never felt so fulfilled and contented while working hard in all my life. Being outside, preparing the ground, planting seeds, seeing plants grow, harvesting them at their peak, selling them that same day fresh, receiving compliments from customers, coming home tired but amply rewarded, sleeping like a baby…. what else could I ask for? 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Progress on the farm

I live on a rural acreage, so does this make the land a farm? I grow crops commercially, so does this make me a farmer? I prefer to think of the land as mixed use rural and myself as a land steward and market grower rather than farmer. There are too many “conventional” (industrial) farmers for me to relate to this breed, although the resurgence in “traditional” (organic) farmers is very heartening, even if we are a tiny minority.

It is gratifying to see the progress we have made in the eleven years that we have been tending this lovely patch. There have never ever been chemicals spread here; Carman who owned then rented it for growing a variety of crops always farmed traditionally, even though engulfed in a sea of conventional farms. We began growing garlic and lavender, then echinacea angustifolia, before settling on market-fresh greens and herbs as our mainstay and setting up shop as Rolling Hills Organics, certified organic all the way.

We now sell twice weekly at organic farmers market in the city (Toronto), an hour and a half away. We also sell to a handful of upscale city restaurants and I make weekly deliveries to several local eateries (in Warkworth, Cobourg, Port Hope, on Rice Lake). I can genuinely promise all customers exclusively fresh organic produce of premium quality, picked that day or the day previous, washed in pure well water, spun, dried, weighed, bagged and cooled.

Having retired the beast of a BCS walking tractor which doubled as roto-tiller and sickle-bar mower, the grunt work is ably performed by our labour-saving New Holland tractor with its 72-inch roto-tiller, cultivator, plow, and bush-hog, not to mention the front-end loader with its lugging capacity.

Two one-thousand square-foot growhouses now supply mostly salad greens and fresh herbs from mid-April to mid-December, extending our growing and selling season from six months to nine. A third growhouse (next year?) will help us better keep up with demand.

Elsewhere, five acres of fields re-treed five years ago with white and red pine, spruce, and larch are coming along somewhat patchily. This year, beekeeper Ian Critchell placed ten beehives next to the upper fields and so the bees are back and busy (after previous owner Paul von Baich’s six hives and wonderful honey moved away).

In the coming months the first 100 x 300-foot array of solar panels is due to be installed in a pastured field up the hill, the first of an entire acre. We have leased this acre to a Canadian solar energy company and are thrilled to be on the cusp of generating both electricity to go straight into the local grid and supplementary income for, yes, OK, the farm.

Having spent two seasons going to farmers markets with Peter Southward, Peter has now sold his farm with the Dexter beef and moved away to Prince Edward Island. I decided to take over the sale of Peter’s grass-fed, grass-finished Dexter beef at the two farmers markets in the city and to one local restaurant. This full-flavoured, highly nutritious beef is delectable. Being grass-fed and grass-finished means that this 40-head herd of small-breed cattle lives on a nearby farm in its natural environment (outside) year-round, with shelter, living on its natural diet of pasture and grasses, moved on a rotation from field to field. These calm and happy animals receive no grain at all to mess with their digestive system, to add fat or “marble them up” in the final three months of their lives, nor do they receive any antibiotics. They are taken individually to a small local licensed meat processor for butchering. In essence, they receive no stress during their lives, nor in their dispatch. The appetite for this beef has been strong, the interest keen, and the feedback overwhelmingly positive on both flavour and nutritional value.   

The future on this land holds a green livelihood for us, from crops grown for market and restaurants, from sale of grass-fed beef, and from solar-powered electricity generation, hopefully for many years to come.