My new bread bag stamp

I ordered a bread bag stamp last week but it wasn’t quite heavy duty enough to work consistently although it looks okay. But this one is going to look better:

I like the way it sort of resembles a round hearth loaf, with the logo being the slash marks or bloom.


Some facts about Vaccines

(Graph from:

Is this proof? Of course not. But probably it’s about right.

All these somewhat negative posts about GM and now this one about vaccines are not supposed to make the reader angry or discouraged, but rather reaffirm that basically you are better off:

a) eating organic and

b) eating local production as much as possible.

Basically my approach is:

a) if it’s made in factories and/or

b) if it’s made far away and/or

c) they use lots of unnatural chemicals in the process instead of trusting Nature then

d) I would rather not make it part of me by ingesting it.

If I do eat stuff like that, I don’t worry and try to enjoy it. But generally I think it best to avoid it, both to reduce harm to oneself, but perhaps more importantly not to encourage them by giving them money to keep making more.

After all, if we all stopped buying junk food, nobody would make it.

Food for thought!

NOTE: if anyone is seriously interested in this topic, then recommend you take a closer look at where several books and studies are referenced.

Also, I stumbled on this article via Natural News:

Nature fights (Monsanto) back – superbugs…

A growing number of rootworms are now able to devour genetically modified corn specifically designed by Monsanto to kill those same pests. A new study shows that while the biotech giant may triumph in Congress, it will never be able to outsmart nature.

Western corn rootworms have been able to harmlessly consume the genetically modified maize, a research paper published in the latest issue of the journal GM Crops & Food reveals. A 2010 sample of the rootworm population had an elevenfold survival rate on the genetically modified corn compared to a control population. That’s eight times more than the year before, when the resistant population was first identified.

Experts are also noting that this year’s resistant rootworm populations are maturing earlier than expected. In fact, the time the bug’s larvae hatched was the earliest in decades.

The Western corn rootworm ‘season’ is underway at a pace earlier than I have experienced since I began studying this versatile insect as a graduate student in the late 1970s,” entomologist Mike Gray wrote in The Bulletin, a periodical issued by the University of Chicago’s Department of Crop Studies.

Studies in other states have also revealed that the rootworm population is becoming increasingly resistant to genetically modified corn. Last year, Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann noted that a number of farmers reported discovering, much to their dismay, that a large number of rootworms survived after the consumption of their GM crops. Gassmann branded these pests “superbugs.”

Farmers and food companies have increasingly been dependent on GM crops, and many have abandoned crop rotation, a practice that has been used to stave off pest infestations for centuries. Some have even gone as far as to ignore federal regulation, which require the GM corn plantations be accompanied by a small “refuge” of non-GM maize.

The recent findings have potentially devastating ramifications for both farmers and consumers. Genetic maize plantation would easily come under attack from the swelling number of “superbugs,” resulting in dwindling harvest numbers for farmers. Ultimately, consumers will pay the price not only for corn, an essential product whose derivatives are used in a plethora of products ranging from yogurts to baby powder, but for other crops sold in the market. Rising corn prices would mean that more farmers would plant corn, despite the risks, and the yield for other crops would drop. That would drive prices for virtually all food items up, hitting hard on a population already smitten by ongoing economic difficulties.

Monsanto launched its anti-rootworm GM corm in 2003. The Cry3Bb1 protein, derived from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt.) bacterium, was inserted into the corn’s genetic code. The embedded protein was supposed to be fatal to all rootworms.

The recent findings came days after Monsanto, along with other biotech companies, got a major boost from a congressional panel, which okayed the manufacture of GM crops despite pending legal challenges. Many of the lawsuits that Monsanto faces include assessments that its crops are unsafe for human consumption and affect the health of unborn children.

Monsanto has also been an active plaintiff itself. Its primary targets include entities that seek to label GM foods, and small farmers, whom the biotech behemoth accuses of using genetically modified crops patented by Monsanto.

Related Article:

On November 28, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a memo which identified the failure of Monsanto’s Bt corn to prevent “unexpected” rootworm damage to the corn crop. The EPA stated that at least four states, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska, are seeing “severe efficacy issues” for Monsanto’s Bt corn. The agency also noted problem areas in four additional states, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, and western Wisconsin, and asked that they be monitored in the future.

Shaking its regulatory finger at Monsanto, the EPA said in no uncertain terms that the company’s resistance monitoring is “inadequate and likely to miss early resistance events.”

“It’s one of those delectable reports written not by political appointees or higher-ups, but rather by staff scientists reporting what they see,” commented Tom Philpott, the food and agricultural blogger at MotherJones. Monsanto, for its part, is sticking to its PR talking points and denying the existence of a problem. Although the company reportedly is taking the EPA’s report seriously, “Monsanto continues to believe there’s no scientific confirmation of resistance to its Bt corn,” a company spokesperson told Bloomberg news. This mirrors the sentiments the company expressed in September, a month after the Iowa State University published a study showing resistance by rootworm after ingesting the company’s Bt corn. “Our Cry3Bb1 protein is effective, and we don’t have any demonstrated field resistance,” assured a company representative in September.

Despite the company’s assurances, the EPA report paints a different picture.

In its November report, the EPA identified that resistance to Monsanto’s insecticidal poison producing corn has been reported as early as 2004 — a mere year after the product was released. And while the number of resistance reports kept coming in, “Monsanto reported [to the EPA] that none of [the company’s] follow-up investigations resulted … in finding resistant populations [of rootworms].”

In case you are wondering, part of the condition for registration of Monsanto’s corn in 2003 was a requirement that Monsanto monitor the performance of its product and report to the EPA data collected from farmers and the company’s investigations. During the registration of Monsanto’s corn, there was also a debate as to the size of the buffer zone of non-GMO corn that farmers should be required to set aside nearby when planting Bt corn to avoid resistance.

In deciding on the size of the buffer zone, the EPA approved Monsanto’s recommendation of a 20% buffer zone and ignored the recommendation of its scientific advisory panel (SAP), which recommended a 50% buffer zone. In discussing the reasons for EPA’s decision, a 2003 Nature article reported that:

the EPA decided to go with a 20% refuge [instead of SAP’s recommended 50%]  because they received additional data from Monsanto that showed it would be acceptable using conservative assumptions. The EPA calculated that even if 100% of crops were transgenic, resistance wouldn’t occur for 7-15 years.

But resistance occurred as as soon as 2004.

5 Things to give up to be Happy

When we think about how to create more happiness, we typically look for things to achieve and add to our lives. However, sometimes the key to happiness is actually giving up certain perspectives and behaviors. Here are a few things to give up in order to become happier individuals.

Give up the habit of blaming. Blame is a scapegoat for taking responsibility of your own outcome. It is a lot easier to point the finger at someone or something else instead of looking within. Blame is not constructive. It does not help you or the other person — nobody wins in the blame game. The amount of energy and stress it takes to blame just takes away from you moving forward and finding a solution.

Give up your need to impress. When you accept who you are, and you embrace your quirks, flaws, strengths and vulnerability, you get a lot more comfortable in your own skin. And when you’re confident, you stop caring so much about what everyone thinks of you. You stop worrying if someone will like you or not, because deep down you know that the people who falsely judge you don’t matter in your life.

Give up being a victim. The perspective that you are just the result of all external variables deflects responsibility for taking control over your own life. It is unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people. Life can be unfair, unkind and unjust. However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move forward and onward.

Give up feeling entitled. Nobody owes you anything. Nobody. When you approach life with the perspective that you are owed things, it’s likely that you will find yourself disappointed time and time again. When you are grateful for what you have, and see positive things as bonuses versus owed expectations, you will be surprisingly pleased.

Give up pretending. In a society where we are rewarded for perfection, we are constantly role playing. We try to show the world that we are flawless human beings in hopes that we will be liked and accepted. But the beauty of us lies in our vulnerability, our love, our deep, complex emotions… our humanness. When we embrace who we are and decide to be authentic instead of perfect, we open ourselves up to have true connection with others. There is no need to put on a show. There is no need to pretend to be something or someone that you are not. You are perfect the way you are.

Amy Chan is a relationship and lifestyle blogger.

For more by Amy Chan, click here.

Microorganisms going mainstream!

(Note the fermented drink on the table!)

Note also that ‘earth’ is fermented organic matter plus living organisms. That is the food of plants, and therefore also animals. Of course a little is good, though personally I would prefer the earth as processed by the vegetables. In any case, it’s good to see this sort of thing entering the mainstream.

And of course also there is more to being a ‘locavore’ than eating dirt, but it’s a start!

“OVER 7,000 strong and growing, community farmers’ markets are being heralded as a panacea for what ails our sick nation. The smell of fresh, earthy goodness is the reason environmentalists approve of them, locavores can’t live without them, and the first lady has hitched her vegetable cart crusade to them. As health-giving as those bundles of mouthwatering leafy greens and crates of plump tomatoes are, the greatest social contribution of the farmers’ market may be its role as a delivery vehicle for putting dirt back into the American diet and in the process, reacquainting the human immune system with some “old friends.”

Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. As nature’s blanket, the potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored co-evolutionary process that established “normal” background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies. This research suggests that reintroducing some of the organisms from the mud and water of our natural world would help avoid an overreaction of an otherwise healthy immune response that results in such chronic diseases as Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of allergic disorders.

In a world of hand sanitizer and wet wipes (not to mention double tall skinny soy vanilla lattes), we can scarcely imagine the preindustrial lifestyle that resulted in the daily intake of trillions of helpful organisms. For nearly all of human history, this began with maternal transmission of beneficial microbes during passage through the birth canal — mother to child. However, the alarming increase in the rate of Caesarean section births means a potential loss of microbiota from one generation to the next. And for most of us in the industrialized world, the microbial cleansing continues throughout life. Nature’s dirt floor has been replaced by tile; our once soiled and sooted bodies and clothes are cleaned almost daily; our muddy water is filtered and treated; our rotting and fermenting food has been chilled; and the cowshed has been neatly tucked out of sight. While these improvements in hygiene and sanitation deserve applause, they have inadvertently given rise to a set of truly human-made diseases.

While comforting to the germ-phobic public, the too-shiny produce and triple-washed and bagged leafy greens in our local grocery aisle are hardly recognized by our immune system as food. The immune system is essentially a sensory mechanism for recognizing microbial challenges from the environment. Just as your tongue and nose are used to sense suitability for consumption, your immune system has receptors for sampling the environment, rigorous mechanisms for dealing with friend or foe, and a memory. Your immune system even has the capacity to learn.

For all of human history, this learning was driven by our near-continuous exposure from birth and throughout life to organisms as diverse as mycobacteria from soil and food; helminth, or worm parasites, from just about everywhere you turned; and daily recognition and challenges from our very own bacteria. Our ability to regulate our allergic and inflammatory responses to these co-evolved companions is further compromised by imbalances in the gut microbiota from overzealous use of antibiotics (especially in early childhood) and modern dietary choices……

The suggestion that we embrace some “old friends” does not immediately imply that we are inviting more food-borne illness — quite the contrary. Setting aside for the moment the fact that we have the safest food supply in human history, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and food processing plants and farmers continue to take the blame for the tainted food that makes us ill, while our own all-American sick gut may deserve some blame as well.

While the news media and litigators have our attention focused on farm-to-table food safety and disease surveillance, the biological question of why we got sick is all but ignored. And by asking why an individual’s natural defenses failed, we insert personal responsibility into our national food safety strategy and draw attention to the much larger public health crisis, of which illness from food-borne pathogens is but a symptom of our minimally challenged and thus overreactive immune system.

As humans have evolved, so, too, have our diseases. Autoimmune disease affects an estimated 50 million people at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. And the suffering and monetary costs are sure to grow. Maybe it’s time we talk more about human ecology when we speak of the broader environmental and ecological concerns of the day. The destruction of our inner ecosystem surely deserves more attention as global populations run gut-first into the buzz saw of globalization and its microbial scrubbing diet. But more important, we should seriously consider making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine, or making its core principles compulsory in secondary education. Currently they are not. 

As we move deeper into a “postmodern” era of squeaky-clean food and hand sanitizers at every turn, we should probably hug our local farmers’ markets a little tighter. They may represent our only connection with some “old friends” we cannot afford to ignore.

Jeff D. Leach is a science and archaeology writer and founder of the Human Food Project.”

An intelligent, informative article. Nice to see in the NYT.

WalMart researches improving wheat farming

Vast green wheat field, stretching off to a line of dark trees on the horizon, and that everlasting sky, with cirrhus clouds, above

A magnificent view of wheat on the edge
of town in Virgil, KS. Beyond the tree line
is the Verdigris River.–sector.html

On the one hand, it is interesting to see how a very large purchaser of wheat is researching ways to improve farming efficiency to lower costs. On the other hand also potentially disturbing, since one of the benchmarks, apparently, is the progress made of late with cotton and corn (both GM, the former with some very nasty side effects in India).

Still, this simple article gives us a glimpse into the large agro business realm. I also find it interesting that there is widespread use of ‘no-till’ methodology. I thought this was only practiced by organic types. If you have healthy soil – i.e. healthy, active microbial cultures therein – it sort of takes care of itself, although there still remain issues around ensuring only the crop you want – since nearly all such things are monocultures – and tilling is one old way of uprooting everything else and being able to start fresh. But I am no farmer and so will say no more!

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen non-organic vegetables in supermarkets

Apples, celery, and sweet bell peppers top this year’s “Dirty Dozen,” which has been expanded to the “Dirty Dozen Plus” in order to include green beans and leafy greens like collards and kale. (You can read the entire report here.) Though they don’t meet traditional criteria for the Dirty Dozen, green beans and leafy greens are often contaminated with organophosphate insecticides. “These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade,” the EWG said in its report. “But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.”

Related: organic meat may have higher parasite risk

Pesticides aren’t necessarily just on the surface of the food, Chensheng (Alex) Lu, Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at the Harvard School of Public Health told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. “If you look at apples, for example, they often spray from March to late June. After that they don’t spray anything,” he said, explaining that in many cases the fruit grows with pesticides already in it, thanks to pesticide seed treatment programs where seeds are soaked in pesticides before they’re even planted. “It started with corn, but now is used with a lot of different kinds of produce,” he said.

According to the EWG, 96 percent of celery samples, 96 percent of peach samples, and 88 percent of spinach samples contained residue from one or more pesticides. Up to 15 different pesticides were detected on a single sample of grapes, 93 percent of apple samples had traces of two or more pesticides on them, and samples of lettuce sported 78 different pesticides. Cucumbers, a newcomer to the Dirty Dozen Plus, turned up 10 different pesticides on a single sample.

The group also took a look at commercial baby food for the first time. “Department scientists analyzed about 190 samples each of prepared baby food consisting of green beans, pears, and sweet potatoes,” the report said (it did not name specific brands). Green beans prepared as baby food tested positive for five pesticides, while 92 percent of pear samples had at least one type of pesticide and three samples tested positive for Iprodione, a probable carcinogen which is not registered with the EPA for use on pears. Sweet potatoes, which are long-time members of the “Clean 15” group, had nearly no pesticide residue at all. …

The Dirty Dozen Plus:

  • apples
  • celery
  • sweet bell peppers
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • imported nectarines
  • grapes
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • domestic blueberries
  • potatoes
  • green beans
  • kale, collards, and leafy greens

Conventionally grown items on the “Clean 15” list are generally low in pesticides. “More than 90 percent of cabbage, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant and sweet potato samples had one or fewer pesticides detected,” the report says. “Of the ‘Clean Fifteen’ vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals, and no single fruit sample from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ had more than 5 types of pesticides detected.”

The Clean 15:

  • onions
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • sweet Peas
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • kiwi
  • domestic cantaloupe
  • sweet potatoes
  • grapefruit
  • watermelon
  • mushrooms

GM contamination on land, sea, air and in our blood

Now glyphosate found in people’s urine

Friday, 20 January 2012 16:39

According to an article in German in the Ithaca journal, a German university study has found significant concentrations of glyphosate in the urine samples of city dwellers. The analysis of the urine samples apparently found that all had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20-fold the limit for drinking water. As well as being used increasingly widely in food production, glyphosate-based weedkillers often also get sprayed onto railway lines, urban pavements and roadsides.

Disturbingly, the Ithaca journal reports (in our translation), “The address of the university labs, which did the research, the data and the evaluation of the research method is known to the editors. Because of significant pressure by agrochemical representatives and the fear that the work of the lab could be influenced, the complete analytical data will only be published in the course of this year.”

News of this study comes not long after the publication of a study confirming glyphosate was contaminating groundwater. Last year also saw the publication of two US Geological Survey studies which consistently found glyphosate in streams, rain and even air in agricultural areas of the US.