Winning the Darwin Prize!

California 2012 voters raced again to the forefront of winning a Darwin Prize*


gmo (Photo credit: decorat)

By their actions, again, the majority have chosen denial to deal with real issues.  “I don’t want to know if something is really natural or is GMO (genetically modified); I would rather pretend that everything is OK. And then I can avoid having to face the choice of paying the cost for real food.  If you don’t label it, I don’t have to think about what it might mean.  Never-mind that my neighbor might want to have the choice to know.

Hell yes, it will cost us! But it ALREADY costs us in ways we don’t put on the tab.

It was a bit misleading to say that labeling GMO foods would NOT cost anything (because they change the package labels all the time).  The reality is, OF COURSE it would raise the cost of food.  The industrial folks don’t do it ’cause it IS more expense than their created “knock off version” of food.

Trust me, I know.  We have raised our own beef, pork, chicken, and organic veggies.  Doing it to make money is fighting an uphill battle when you price compare to industrial food.  If the industrial people had to label their GMO food, which meant many would not buy, they would have to shift to foods that would increase their cost of doing business.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the industrial complex is in the business of making food; they are in the business of making money.  If the cost of that production goes up, then it gets passed along.  There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! That cost will show up in your grocery cart.

Did you hear about the Freebies?

Unfortunately, when buying industrial food you are getting a lot of “free” extras! Because it is not staring you in the face, it can be ignored… for a very, very long time.  But it comes back to bite you.  You know, like when you don’t pay the power bill, eventually the power get’s turned off. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will.

So when I see the autism rates are skyrocketing (1 out of 60 births, vrs 1 out of 10,000 historically), when autoimmune disease are epidemic (thyroid, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), when the onset of diabetes has become the province of staggering numbers of the very young instead of the old, I believe our cultural advances are slowly poisoning us. I wonder just what IS the price we are paying for those freebies.

I know, too many variables to make an absolute correlation.  Well, if I wait to long, I won’t even have to worry about it, will I.  After 30 years in the medical world it did occur to me that the most cost effective patient, after the healthy one, was the dead one. From a strictly monetary assessment of costs. OTOH (On the other hand), a whole new income stream to supply medications to deal with the possible side effects!

Is it the food? The water (with it’s load of residuals of hormones & medications & chemicals) we drink? Or the air? …the neuro-toxic mercury we all breath in and eat (from the residuals of burning coal)? A zillion possibilities… I. Don’t. Know. and I could be wrong.

What is Different?

What I DO know is that there have been some dramatic changes in the last 100 years…  we’ve shifted away 10,000 years ago, from the hunter-gather society that we were bred from. Let’s see: 100,000 years to 10,000 years to 100 years. (And actually, according to the latest research in archeology that 100,000 years is really at least 600,000 years of development).**

We developed over thousands of generations, where survival meant dealing with “upfront & in your face” problems, in your immediate future.  Things like getting away from predators, finding food, staying warm/cool, shelter from the elements, etc. No need to worry about 10 years down the road because immediate survival did not depend on that. Our “stone age brains” are wired for fight or flight, right now.  And maybe, food for the next season.  We survived in a world that utilized what nature provided, for food, in very basic forms.

The Stone-Age Brain: Death by Over-Consumption

We’ve moved into a new realm where, in the Western World, most of us have our basic needs met with highly processed foods & chemicals.  In fact, for many, met to well. Fat, couch-bound, car focused, and entertained until death.

I don’t think our “stone age brains” have had time to evolve to a world of “enough”. We consume as if we can not get enough. (Those details are the meat of another post, though.)

But some will…survive. It’s a brain that has adapted to the new “reality”… that considers cause and effect, actions and consequences on a longer time frame. “Neo-brain”.

Those who think (delayed benefits) about the longer term effects, will be the ones that DO survive as they make the adjustments they see the need for.

Survival battle


IN or OUT of the genetic pool?

That “stone-age brain” will lose the battle of survival of the fittest because it will kill itself off!  It will be those who consider the long-impact of our actions, that will win that battle, without even having to “fight”. They will simply look for the sustainable practices that will make a difference in long-term survival. And significantly, then take personal action that will make a difference.

The real challenge is to keep the stone-age brains from dragging the survivors down, as the stone-agers grow & harvest the darwin award!

If you kill off that which sustains you… by default you will die.  The problem is that you take a lot of “innocents” along with you. As well, you (the masses) may inflict tremendous damage on the underlying systems. But some will survive. The systems, over time, will re-balance.

Our human nature tells us to reach out to others and alert them to the dangers! One can only reach out to those who are unaware.  Once the “word” is out, if denial is the choice that is made… it is made for not only yourself… but those whom you care for, as well as others who have not made any choice.

Here in California, with the defeat of Prop 37, Label GMO Foods, and the defeat of an added soda tax (to discourage excessive consumption) we are saying that the health of the community cannot be legislated.

And yet, we did pass No Smoking laws, eventually.  So there is hope. Overtime, other parts of the country have made changes as well. With all the issues coming to a head, the question I ask is, “How much TIME do we really have, this time?”

KUDOS to those who spread the word!

They fought a strong battle. 47% of those that voted are now even more aware of the challenges ahead. And many in other states that listened to the battle, learned much as well. Those that could not vote and those that did, can now vote a different way, in the future.

It becomes even more imperative that we vote with our dollars and actions to support those farmers that do see the future, and are helping us to survive this Darwinian hit list!

The quality of our survival will depend on them.


* Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.

For example: killing oneself while manufacturing a homemade chimney-cleaning device from a grenade would be eligible;

OR –  John used wood and rope to make a traction device to ease his wife’s neck pain. But applying traction to the neck takes a delicate touch. His DIY (do-it-yourself) medical device turned out to be a gallows, as John found out when he tested it and hanged himself.

** FYI: Atheist, or not?  I personally believe in intelligent guidance, so evolution, for me, is not an anti-bible concept. I find it a matter of “hubris” that man thinks to dictate to “GOD” the details of how things should be done.

GMO’s – the lowdown (guest post)

Occasionally I cross-post something: “60% of our DNA is identical to that of corn and soy, and we have no idea how this transgenic process of altering genes in our food will affect us in the short term or the long term.” 
Congratulations to Baker Seeds, The Seed Bank and all those who worked hard on getting the signatures for the requirement to LABEL GMO products, on the California ballot!  … and this guest post is definitely one on GMO’s that presents a very clear argument for the issues involved.

The Truth About Genetically Modified Organisms – GMO’s

A Guest Blogger ….It’s a fantastic article that could also be titled; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about GMO’s.

From April 28, 2012 by Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm Blog.

My name is Chris Vogliano and I am currently studying nutrition and dietetics at Kent State University in their Master’s Program.  I am conducting my thesis study on the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms related to Dietitian’s knowledge and perception of them.  According to previous research, the public trusts dietitian’s to relay current and scientific information on this controversial topic.  However, as I hope to prove in my research, there is a significant knowledge gap in the perception of what dietitian’s know versus the knowledge they actually hold.

I chose this topic because genetically modified foods is personal and strikes an emotional cord.  Ever since discovering the topic, I have unveiled more and more unsettling information about this complicated and controversial process.

Most of American’s have no idea what genetically modified foods are, even though over 80% of our supermarket foods contain them.  Many American’s believe that simple crossbreeding is the same or at least a similar process to that of genetic modification.  Some American’s place trust in the “assumed” strict regulatory processes of the FDAUSDA, and EPA.

Politics plays a much more pertinent role in our lives than anyone wants or cares to believe, and I adamantly feel this with GMO’s…

The patenting of a transgenic soybean in the early 1990’s has had more of an impact than we would have ever imagined. We have seen a revolutionary agricultural shift in the way we grow our produce form even twenty years ago.

Many see this synergy of biotechnology and agriculture as a positive step towards our goal of creating a more economically sound production method for our food.  Big agriculture business has consolidated hands over the years to just a few large corporations, leading with the illusion of solving world hunger and bridging the world’s nutritional deficits.

As a soon to be dietitian who heavily values nutritional philanthropy, I could not have been more eager to learn more about this technology that could potentially curb our world hunger problems.
Let’s take a step back and look at the role of corporations in our society.

While we all vary on our opinions of specific corporations, deeming some as good and some evil, we have to remember one simple fact.  Through all the humanitarian efforts some might drape over their figurative bodies to display a positive PR image, corporations have one goal and one goal only.

The primary goal of a corporation is to increase profits for its shareholders. Plain and simple.

While some corporations may choose donations and community building tactics to seem selfless, at the end of the day it is simply to make you feel better about being a customer of their product.  This is not to demean the great things some corporations have done, but to call it an altruistic act is not so valid (arguably, is anything actually selfless? a question better saved for your philosophy 101 class).

Back to the grit of GMO’s – The basics of genetically modifying organisms is as follows:

A desired gene from a species not related to the host organisms is transferred into the cultivar or desired product (while sounding simple, this is actually quite a complex process).  The interesting part is that we don’t know how this transgenic, or crossing DNA from one foreign species to another affects humans or the environment.  This technology was developed and implemented into our food supply less than 15 years ago.

Monsanto is the largest corporate sponsor of GMO’s, fighting for their governmental acceptance worldwide ever since their creation.  A quick lesson on Monsanto’s history:

One of the first products Monsanto created was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which we now know can cause cancer

The next major products were DDT, Lasso, and Agent Orange, which we now know are highly carcinogenic.

Now they are trying to sell the idea of “genetically modified seeds” to us as being healthy and safe, when in all reality they are a self regulating organization whose primary interest is not the health of the consumers, but the money in their pocket.

European countries have strict regulatory standards and most countries have stopped the production of GMO’s until further testing has taken place.  Those countries who do have GMO corn must blatantly label their products with the phrase “this product contains genetically modified ingredients”, which protects the integrity of the food supply and the safety of the consumers.

GMO seeds have NEVER been tested in human trials to determine the impact they have on our bodies.

60% of our DNA is identical to that of corn and soy, and we have no idea how this transgenic process of altering genes in our food will affect us in the short term or the long term.

The only test currently being done to determine the safety of these products is happening right now, in our grocery stores.

As American’s, we deserve the right to know what is in our food. There is a serious need for us to take action on this issue that will help define the future of the agricultural food chain. We need the health of our food to lean in our favor, and not that of large corporate interest.

While there has been unethical practices that have been slipped passed the American consumers unbeknownst to them in the past decade, there has never been a more opportune moment to express out opinion than now.  More than ever, people are forming organizations and events to express their desire to have genetically modified foods labeled.  It is out food supply and we deserve the right to know what we are consuming.

think. be educated.

For more information or to get involved (highly encouraged!) visit:

LinkedIn Account:

WordPress account

False Choices

False Choices

This is the link to the article I responded to, dissing the EWG (Environmental Working Group) work on the most heavily contaminated fruits and veggies: The Dirty Dozen (2012). They also listed the Cleanest Fifteen. I neglected to include the link (the title False Choices) to it so you could read it yourself!

My argument was that is was a false choice being set up.

You can NOT know that something is “safe” until you have done long-term studies and some effects don’t show up for 20-30 years.

We need real Info!

There are only “safe” limits for acute toxic effects.

The choice is not between eating food with pesticides or NOT eating veggies/fruit at all.

You CAN choose to eat organic, preferably local, and avoid the whole question. Yes, it will hurt the pesticide companies and their users, but my vote is the longterm safety of our children and the soil.

When you are told that 97% of tested products are “safe” according to federal standards… just what does that mean. First off, how much is actually tested.

If I test 100 apples out of 1 million, that’s not enough data to be significant…. and where did those apples come from… China, Canada, Chili?

And as I pointed out: safe federal levels ONLY refer to acute toxicity… not long-term exposure.

Results of MercuryPoisoning

Do you know where the term “mad as a hatter” came from?  In the 1800’s when everyone wore hats (i.e. big market in making hats) mercury was used in the process. Guess what mercury does to the brain, while it is being absorbed through the skin & the vapors breathed in. I’m guessing those “hatters” were told it was “safe” to use.

My grandfather died from a rare leukemia that was later found to be related to the “benzene” that the men in oil fields routinely used, to clean their hands.

It take a while to get the answer!

He died at 50. He started working in the oil fields when he was 25. I guess enough “retrospective data” was finally collected to get the answer on longterm toxicity with that chemical.

It’s the day in/ day out exposure to this stuff (pesticides, herbcides, neurotoxins) that has me concerned.

The reality is that it is only with conscious choice, that we can begin to control how much exposure we do have.

The “bean counters” are only interested in profit margin… even if they cut their own throat, longterm, in the process! Sad, but I think, too true.

Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen, pt 2

I’m appalled at how much “crap” is on fruits & veggies! The stuff that is supposedly, OK.

Dirty Dozen Fruits/Veggies

The Western Farm Press, dissing of the results of the EWG (Environmental Working Group), tell farmers everywhere to discount the research done.

When we are told by “officials” that eating foods with residual chemicals on them is better than nothing…

I have to differ…. because that is NOT the choice.  We all have access! Yes,  it will cost more or we will have to narrow our food choices.

I think of it in this context:

taking a daily micro-dose of a neurotoxin WILL eventually catch up with me. Not today, not tomorrow, but certainly down the road!

But I do have a choice in this. I can vote with my fork, and make a difference. is the link.

Overview: 12 Dirty, 15 Clean

“Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, according to some researchers.”

How can someone say that with a straight face?

They would say, use EWG‘s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. Do I agree with this statement: Absolutely NOT!

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

But don’t let me, or anyone else do your thinking for you… Check it out yourself; go to the Environmental Working Group  website,, and look at how the studies are done.

Basic Principles to work with:

Dirty Dozen  … leads to a print out of the following info… for your wallet!

Be very careful about imported fruit/veggies… they do not have the same safety standards and most of it is never tested. Also, SWEET CORN. If you have concerns about GMO foods, then you need to buy organic sweet corn, as almost all commercial corn in the USA is genetically modified.

Below the video clip is a list of the Dirty and the Clean… with some informative data about each group. See what YOU think!

Highest Pesticide Residue

The Dirty Dozen – Buy these organic

If you need to really watch your budget (and who doesn’t!), these are the ones I would be sure to purchase from a reputable organic producer.

Of the 12 most contaminated foods, 6 are fruits: apples, strawberries, peaches,  nectarines, imported grapes and blueberries. Notable findings:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
  • 92 percent of apples contained 2 or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
  • Imported grapes had 14 pesticides detected on a single sample. Strawberries, domestic grapes both had 13 different pesticides detected on a single sample.
  • As a category. peaches have been treated with more pesticides than any other produce, registering combinations of up to 57 different chemicals. Apples were next, with 56 pesticides and raspberries with 51.

Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and greens (kale and collards) are the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination:

  • Some 96 percent all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
  • Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
  • A single celery sample was contaminated with 13 different chemicals, followed by a single sample of sweet bell peppers (11), and greens (10).
  • Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).
– imported
Grapes – imported
Red Pepper
Sweet bell peppers
– domestic
Kale/collard greens

Clean 15 – Lowest in Pesticide

Here’s where you can save your grocery dollars if you need to, and buy non-organic.

The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides are onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

  • Asparagus, sweet corn and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 90 percent or more of samples.
  • More than four-fifths of cabbage samples (81.8 percent)  had no detectible pesticides, followed by sweet peas (77.1 percent) and eggplant (75.4 percent).
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on vegetables low in overall contamination. No samples of onions and corn had more than one pesticide. Less than 6 percent of sweet potato samples had multiple pesticides.
  • Of the low-pesticide vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals.

The fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide residues are pineapples, avocados, mangoes, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon and grapefruit.

  • Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples showed detectable pesticides, and fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.
  • Nearly 55 percent of grapefruit had detectable pesticides but only 17.5 percent of samples contained more than one residue. Watermelon had residues on 28.1 percent of samples, and 9.6 percent had multiple pesticide residues.
Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
– domestic
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Because you want to enjoy what you eat, not worry about what you eat!

Milking Chocolate

Henry, at 2 weeks old, waiting while mom gets milked today.

At two full weeks, Chocolate was still leaking milk from her udder.  Obviously she still had much more milk than the calf could use so we decided to go ahead and start milking her.

The first time she was not too thrilled… until she saw some GRAIN.  Then she willingly went into the milking trailer. She fussed a little bit (we put a hobble on so she could not kick), but after the first milking she got into the rhythm of it… and no longer tried to kick.

I guess we were taking a little toooo long, the first time. When she was DONE, she was DONE. Uh, never mind that WE WERE NOT. She backed herself right out of the stall with the milking equipment still attached. Our poor intern was thunder struck. All I could do was laugh; it had happened to me in the past. Go with the flow. BUT, have to get the head stall bar put back in, so she could not back out of her own free will.

Portable Milker attached

In the picture you can see the silver Inflaters, on the teats, which pulsate with a light rhythmic vacuum, and milks the cow out in about 10 minutes, into the large bucket. It is suspended from a back-strap… and goes with the cow when she moves around in the stall. The time consuming part is the cleaning of the udder and the teats to insure they do not contaminate the milk.  The bucket is taken directly back to the house, filtered, and refrigerated.

COMMERCIAL DAIRIES have it backwards!

I was shocked at another dairy, impressively spic and span (sterile almost), to see them do virtually no cleaning of the udder/teats. What they did do, left drainage on the teat that would be pulled into the milking lines.  Now I KNOW why they MUST pasteurize their milk. I would never drink raw milk from such an operation.

We also pay extraordinary attention to the proper cleaning of the equipment, after use, to prevent any source of contamination building up. Understanding  clean aseptic technique is critical. It reduces the transference of organisms, rather than killing every living thing.

Why don’t I keep a pristine clean milking stall? Because 99.9% of microbes are either beneficial or benign (i.e. don’t cause a problem).  If I kill them off all the time (with chemicals, etc.) I am providing a petri dish to grow bad bugs. Those bugs that can survive my killing chemicals!  In nature, there is NO such thing as an empty niche. Odds are, over time, it will be a bad bug we can’t kill off.

With good “aseptic technique” we prevent contamination in the first place.  Any milk that is questionable goes immediately to the pigs… nothing is wasted and there is no urgency to preserve every drop for our personal use. We err on the side of caution… something the industrial business model does not always follow, sad to say.


Interestingly, during Chocolate’s pregnancy she had NO interest in grain. Now remember, she is an “Old World Jersey”, a heritage breed that has not been quite as domesticated as standard jerseys.  Her body mass is fuller (standard jersey’s can look emaciated as they put all their energy into the udder/milk process). She has more reserves (more meat on her bones).  She does NOT produce as much milk as a standard jersey.  She does well on pasture and has not been bred to need grain.

During her pregnancy she was quite uninterested in any grain, but now that she is producing milk, she has developed a distinct “LIKE” for grain.  She’ll get a small amount, a scoop (couple of cups) each day along with hay, with her milking. I’m guessing that  with the extra milk production she needs more “energy” to provide it. Or, if not needing it precisely, she likes it.

We also add in some kelp meal & D.E. (diatomaceous earth) to her daily ration.  They provide her with micro nutrients that might be missing in the soil the hay was grown in.  The D.E. also functions as a natural dewormer that we use with all our livestock.

‘Nipped’ Sweet Potato Crop!

Here is an excellent post from another blog: The Dirt Doctor!

Please do share the info.

The Dangers of Bud Nip in a Compact Sweet Potato Project

by Emylisa Warrick 

The dangers of bud nip, a chemical herbicide also known as Chlorpropham, become clear in a simple yet illuminating message from a young lady named Elise. In the video, Elise is nervous and sweet as she tries to remember her lines and looks down at her cue cards to explain her “Potato Project.” 

With the help of her grandma, Elise buys a sweet potato from three different sources: one from the grocery store, one “organically” labeled from the same grocery store, and one from Roots, a certified organic food market. Each sweet potato is placed in a glass of water in order to track its cultivation of vine sprouts and growth.

The first sweet potato, the one from the grocery store, does not sprout any vines after three weeks. The second one sprouts a “wimpy, little vine” after over a month. The third sweet potato, the one bought from Roots, flourishes with cascading, healthy green sweet potato vines after just one week.

What seems like an innocent fourth-grade science project is actually an informative and effective account of the effects of a commonly used chemical herbicide called “bud nip.” The produce man at the grocery store informs Elise that the first potato won’t sprout any sweet potato vines because it has been sprayed with bud nip.

According to the Pesticide Action Network, the dangers of bud nip include toxicity to amphibians and honeybees, important pollinators of crops we eat every day. Bud nip can be found on potatoes, kale, peaches, broccoli and other common fruits and vegetables.

Find out what other foods have chlorpropham here.

Elise’s sweet potato project is a subtle, but insistent reminder that bud nip and other chemical herbicides harm us as well as the world around us. In her words, “Which potato would you rather eat?”

 If you have any questions on this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am CST to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The phone number for the show is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or find a station in your area.

Shop in the Green Living Store for all of the products I recommend in the Organic Program. Products are also available in the Dirt Doctor’s Corner of your favorite Garden Center.

Please share this newsletter with everyone in your address book and all your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help me spread the word on organics.

Naturally yours, Howard Garrett

P.S. Start 2012 with the resolution of healthy eating and living with a membership to the Organic Club of America! Memberships are also great gifts.

Members can log in on Sunday mornings to see the Dirt Doctor’s Live Broadcast.

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