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

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dry, Dry, Dry

On this Tuesday afternoon, I should really be at Riverdale doing market, selling a range of salad greens, lavender, garlic and grass-fed beef to the brave faithful souls that are out in the sultry heat looking for fresh local organic produce. Instead, I'm home on the farm. The temperature out there right now is 34 C. Not so extreme, but for the dearth of rain around here for several weeks at peak planting and growing time. It is hard for customers in Toronto to believe; they who have gone through bucketing rain that came down so fast and furious that the worst floods for a long while ensued. Basements under water, extended power outages, cars stranded half-submerged on major highways…. And we out here in the hills didn’t get a drop. Black clouds raced towards us and passed by, to the north, to the south, just as I well remember from summers gone by.

I have been watering the truly hot houses and the fields, keeping the best patches alive out there while watching the early planted carrots and beets get gobbled up by a sea of weeds, mostly grasses. This same thing happened last year when we endured many weeks of no rain, under drought conditions that took in a large chunk of central North America. I suppose by now I should realize that this is the new normal instead of reverting to the fallback position of hoping that the lack of rain was a one-off. I still retain some optimism that some of the heavy air and thunder forecast for a couple of days hence will yield some much-needed moisture for the parched plants. At least the lower temperatures following the front moving through will bring back some energy sapped by the intense heat. Last Friday, while picking for Saturday market, then watering all afternoon for several hours, I do believe I went a bit gaga and felt some severe heat exhaustion. Oh well, keep on keeping on.

I spare a rueful thought for the millions of people (and animals, plants) around the world that are at this moment entirely without water. Some live in searing heat and rarely have a drop of clean water to slake their thirst, let alone sprinkle over crops growing in the fields.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eighty percent of the packaged foods on our grocers shelves are banned in other countries

Aisle after aisle of standard supermarket processed "food" offerings

by Tony Isaacs 
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year.

(NaturalNews) According to the new book Rich Food, Poor Food, ingredients commonly found in up to 80 percent of all pre-packaged foods on grocers shelves in the U.S. have been banned in other countries. As alarming as such information is, our food safety outlook becomes even bleaker when we consider other banned and toxic food items.

The toxic banned ingredients in our food
In the book, authors Mira and Jason Calton provide a list of banned ingredients which they term "Banned Bad Boys" as well as the countries which have banned them. Among the items is Olestra - commonly used in low/no-fat snack foods and known to cause serious gastrointestinal issues - which has been banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Worse is brominated vegetable oil, a substance found in Mountain Dew and Fresca which has been banned in more than 100 countries. As the authors state, brominated vegetable oil "has been linked to basically every form of thyroid disease - from cancer to autoimmune diseases - known to man."

Other dangerous items listed include food colorings - such as yellow #5 and yellow #6, dyes used to make mac & cheese dinners visually appealing. Those dyes are made from coal tar, an active ingredient in lice shampoo which has been linked to allergies, ADHD, and cancer in animals.

Other banned and toxic items in our foods
The toxic banned ingredients listed in the book, horrible as they are, are but part of the bad news when it comes to food items most Americans regularly consume. Here is a partial list of some other toxic ingredients and unsafe food items:

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical used to make plastic drinking bottles, baby bottles and storage containers as well as the lining of food and drink cans which can leech into 
foods from high heat and prolonged storage. Currently, it is found in virtually all canned goods and most baby bottles. It mimics estrogen and can offset the delicate hormonal balance in the developing child, and is blamed to be largely responsible for the age of puberty in young girls being lowered to as young as seven years old. In 2010, Canada became the first country to ban BPA.

An increasing number of countries are banning the sale and/or cultivation of GM crops. Some of the GM crops are engineered to produce their own pesticides and research has shown that the genes are passed on to humans and even down to several generations after consumption. Other crops are engineered to withstand heavy applications of the toxic pesticide Roundup.

Thanks in part to GM engineering, US produce contains serious levels of pesticides as well as herbicides such as Roundup and other glyphosphates. Researchers in Europe have found that the weed killer Roundup has serious toxic effects due to inert ingredients that amplify the toxicity of Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate. As a result, Roundup is banned in nearly every European country.

Due to growth stimulators such as ractopine as well as antibiotics which are added to our meats, over 160 countries say "no" to U.S. meats.

Chemical fertilizers are yet another widespread problem. From 1990 to 1995, 600 different companies from 44 states sent a whopping 270,000,000 pounds of toxic waste to both fertilizer companies and farms. The waste was not treated to remove toxic substances including arsenic and dioxins.

Sadly, greed and cash are kings in the US and our government is too often for sale to the highest bidder. This explains why we have a Monsanto insider over our food safety, much like we have a Merck insider over our medicines.

Sources for this article include: