the Myths, Dangers,
and Lies About Organic Food
News You Can Use
Vegetarians have been brainwashed into thinking vegetarianism is a healthy way of eating. You will find on any osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or other inflammatory bowel disease forum that 80% of the sufferers are vegetarians or ex-vegans. Yet, only 6% of the population are vegetarian. The protein-deficient vegan diet will blow your guts out, cause degenerative disc disease, and kill you with cancer or a hemorrhagic stroke, guaranteed.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, IBD, IBS, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, Candida, and Others.
Preventing Osteoporosis, Bone Loss, Hip Fractures, and Degenerative Disc Disease.
Click here to read the "Medical Disclaimer."
Facts About Organic and Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables
|Fact No. 1||Many regular fruits and vegetables are organic even though they are not labeled as such. Carrots, onions, beets, plums, and peaches are good examples. This is why many organic fruits and vegetables are the same price as the non-organic product. They are the same. Some stores scam the public by labeling the product as organic and raising the price even though it is the same product as the unlabeled product.|
|Fact No. 2||Many organic fruits and vegetables are not organic even though they are labeled as such. The high profit margins attached to many products motivates producers and middle-men to cheat. This is why the "certified organic" label became common, but that may be a lie also.|
|Fact No. 3||Organic fruits and vegetables from third world countries are at high risk of contamination from cancer causing pesticides because these foreign producers are motivated by the high profit margins and cancer causing pesticides are not tightly regulated in those countries. Non-organic products may be safer because they originate in the United States where regulations are safer.|
|Fact No. 4||Pesticides applied to fruits and vegetables in the United States and other large countries are not carcinogenic and they must be biodegradable. Laws require the pesticides to be withheld for a period of time before harvesting the product to allow the chemical to biodegrade.|
|Fact No. 5||Organic apples do not exist unless they also contain numerous worm holes. Worm-free apples are impossible to grow. The beautiful worm-free apples sold in natural food supermarkets are a fraud.|
Organic Foods Are Not GMO Free
Organic foods are not GMO free despite numerous claims across the Internet. GMO labeling is not required on any food and claims that the foods are GMO free are probable fraudulent. Organic grains, fruits, and vegetables can and do contain extensive genetic modifications. All soybean and corn products in the stores essentially contain extensive genetic modifications. Some of the genetic modification made to grains and soybeans cause the plant to manufacture insecticide chemicals within the plant as protection from insects. Grains and soybeans from these plants can legally carry the "organic" label because the plant was not sprayed externally by the insecticide.
The following source claims that GMO foods can cause DNA genetic changes in people and these changes are transferred to future generations. Meat-eaters are better protected from GMO DNA damage than vegetarians because the animals digest the GMO grains where as vegetarian take the GMO molecules directly in their diet. The following source seems to agree.
"Myles advised that people should eliminate sugar and fat in processed form from their diets and move to fresh sources of protein – and fat – such as fish and meat."
I give this same analysis and advice on pages 390 and 391 in my book, "Reversing Heart Disease and Preventing Diabetes." The problem with the Big Mac in this story is not the meat or cheese. The GMO problems come from the bun and French fries.
GMO Foods Can Encode the DNA of Future Generations Scientists Discover
My Personal Test Spanning 50 Years Proves Pesticides Do Not Cause Cancer.
Many people have become so paranoid about pesticides that they think they will surely develop cancer if conventionally farmed produce is eaten. This is a myth because present day pesticides are tested extensively for safety. As a teenager on a farm, the author was literally drenched in pesticides including DDT, Malathion, and two others. My father put four different pesticides in the tank of a heavy duty sprayer that was pulled behind the tractor. The sprayer had a 1" (25 mm) diameter hose and a pump discharge pressure of 400 pounds per square inch (27.6 bars) that would literally drench a full-grown apple tree in seconds. I was also drenched with pesticide as well having breathed the mist and vapors of the pesticide spray. The high-pressure, high-volume spray created a cloudy mist from the overspray which left me with a pure white coating of these four pesticides as the moisture evaporated. The pesticides remained on my arms, neck, and face for several hours until spraying was completed. Washing to remove the pesticide residue was haphazard at best. You know how teenagers are. I received more pesticide during each spraying than the average person receives in a lifetime. This was repeated several times a year for many years. The pesticides on the apples disappeared after a couple of weeks because the worms came back if the trees were not sprayed again. My mother was not exposed to the pesticide to any significant extent, but she died of cancer at age 50. Neither of my sisters was exposed, but both have had cancer. One sister also had an appendectomy and gallbladder removal. She is diabetic and has an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Her height has decreased a full inch (25mm), and she definitely has degenerative disc disease. The other sister has also had an appendectomy, a heart attack, candida yeast infection, and cancer. Neither of my sisters has any abnormal exposure to the pesticides, yet I continue to be in perfect health with absolutely no discernable effect from the pesticide overdose. Maybe the pesticides prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and IBD. This test is still ongoing, but it certainly proves that organic food is a scam.
Cancer - The Cause, Prevention, Treatment, Control, and Spontaneous Remission of Cancer of the Breast, Prostate, Lung, Colon, Liver, Pancreas, Brain, Bone, Lymph Gland, or Skin Melanoma.
Amino acids found in red meat are natural detoxifiers of the body. They protect against radiation, pollution, ultra-violet light, chemicals, and other causes of increased free radical production. Aspartic and glutamic amino acids found in red meat help to protect the liver by aiding in the removal of ammonia from the body. The lysine amino acid found in red meat is essential in children for bone formation. Red meat builds strong bones in kids.
Brainwashing, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotic, Sociology, Sociopath, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Bulimia, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive, Paranoia, Phobia, Addiction, and Other Mental and Personality Disorders.
Canola Oil: The Myths Debunked
Report by Oklahoma State University - pdf
"You're looking for more information about canola - the seed, the oil and the meal. Maybe you've checked websites that made you wonder who's telling the truth. Wonder no more. We asked impartial professionals in the fields of nutrition, biology and food science to answer your questions. Some of these questions may seem a little bizarre but that's what's out there! So here's the truth. We promise."
The Organic Fruit and Vegetable Market is a Major Fraud
Many fruits and vegetables are classified as organic when in fact they cannot be produced without the application of insecticides. Apples are a good example. Those beautiful worm-free organic apples in the supermarket are a fraud. Apples cannot be grown without worm infestations. The opposite is true of other fruits and vegetables that are normally grown without any pesticides. These are naturally organic, and charging a higher price for the organic label is fraud.
The Organic Farming Myth
A large percentage of the organic fruits and vegetables sold in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are grown in other countries such as Mexico, Central America, South America, and South East Asia. These crops are commonly sprayed with insecticides that are forbidden in the destination country. The fruits and vegetables are falsely classified as organic and routed through several middlemen before reaching the destination country. Not only are they not organic as classified, but they may have been sprayed with illegal cancer-causing insecticides. They may also contain toxic heavy metals. Buying organic fruits and vegetables may make you feel good emotionally, but it is an expensive lie.
Organic Vegetables Can Make You Sick and Kill You
Manure Flavored Organic Spinach Salad Sickens Hundreds and Kills Four
Elizabeth Rhodes, a 22-year-old senior at Morehead State University in Kentucky says, "I noticed that the spinach tasted different, but I thought it was just the dressing," She doesn't realize that deadly E-coli bacteria doesn't have a taste, but manure sure does.
Fresh organic spinach has been "voluntarily recalled" by Natural Selection Foods because it has been proven to contain deadly e-coli pathogen bacteria that has officially sicken over 200 people in 25 states and killed four persons. The true numbers of people sickened or killed are most likely to be significantly more. Dozens of people have suffered severe, permanent kidney damage. Class action lawsuits are being pressed against the growers and producers. The spinach sickens and kills people, but the recall is only voluntarily. The spinach is a deadly food, but the producer says you can still eat if you want to. This is strange indeed. The US Department of Agriculture is very lenient with organic vegetable suppliers when they sell deadly food. Any other food supplier would be required to recall millions of pounds of product. Apparently the company does not lie and cheat with their organic spinach. It is truly organic. They actually spread animal and/or bird feces on the vegetable fields. Most organic suppliers simply use ammonium nitrate fertilizer and lie about it. The manure on spinach fields is deadly because the e-coli pathogenic bacteria enters into the cells of the spinach. Washing the spinach on the outside does absolutely no good in removing the hazard. The same is true about lettuce as explained below.
Killer Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Spinach
Tomatoes pulled off shelves amid salmonella scare - Breitbart News - May 10, 2008.
"CHICAGO (AP) - Federal officials hunted for the source of a 17-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of raw tomatoes, while the list of supermarkets and restaurants yanking those varieties from shelves and menus grew. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that since mid-April, 167 people infected with salmonella with the same "genetic fingerprint" have been identified. At least 23 people have been hospitalized. A 67-year-old cancer patient in Texas who health officials said was sickened by salmonella at a Mexican restaurant is believed to be the first death associated with the outbreak."
E. coli spinach scare increases to 21 states - CNN - September 18, 2006.
"Investigators have blamed a death in Wisconsin on the outbreak, said Dr. David Acheson of the FDA. The victims are believed to be infected with the strain of E. coli called 0157:H7, he told reporters in a telephone conference call Sunday night. Fifty-six were hospitalized, at least 16 with a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. As it is, he said, "This is unquestionably a significant outbreak.""
Washing spinach won't help; health officials struggle to find source of E. coli - USAToday September 15, 2006.
"WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if you wash the spinach, you still could be at risk. Sober warnings for salad lovers came from federal health officials Friday as they focused on a possible source of a multistate E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened nearly 100 more. Twenty-nine people have been hospitalized, 14 of them with kidney failure.
The outbreak was traced to Natural Selection Foods, a holding company based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., known for Earthbound Farm and other brands. The company has voluntarily recalled products containing spinach."
FDA Warning on Serious Foodborne E.coli O157:H7 Outbreak for Organic Spinach - September 14, 2006.
A woman about 30 years of age was one of the dozens poisoned by the organic spinach. She was interviewed on CNN TV on September 16, 2006. She was asked for her comments. She said, "Wash everything thoroughly, and cook your meat until it is burnt." Her comments show the ignorance of the general public who are brainwashed into thinking washing vegetables removes the risk of E-coli contamination and that E-coli is associated with meat, not vegetables. She was wrong on both comments. E-coli bacteria poisoning from eating organic vegetables is much more common than from eating meat, and the E-coli on meat generally occurs from deliberate contamination by Animal-Rights Activists. Vegans won't eat a beef steak, but they have no complaint about beef manure in their salad.
Register your Fresh Bagged Spinach Complaint. A Class Action Lawsuit May Be Pressed.
"If you or a loved one has suffered damages in this case, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible class action or lawsuit. Please click the link below to submit your complaint to a lawyer for a free evaluation, or call 1-866-886-5529 toll free."
FDA Issues Alert On Three Pre-Cut, Bagged Dole Salads
By Margaret Webb Pressler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 4, 2005; Page D01
Claims That Pesticides Cause Cancer is a Major Scam
Doubt over pesticide cancer link - March 21, 2006.
"Experts have said people should not be alarmed by research claiming a link between pesticides in food and cancer. A team from Liverpool University reviewed studies carried out in the lab and on animals. The Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine study said it was feasible babies and young adults were at risk from the chemicals. But Professor John Toy of Cancer Research UK said the work did not offer "compelling" evidence of a link."
Don't believe much of the nonsense about traces of pesticides causing cancer. Professor John Toy of the Cancer Research UK is one of the few professionals disputing such wild claims and false studies. You can read the entire article to find meat and dairy foods are criticized but fruit and vegetables are not. The study by the team from Liverpool University is another example of animal-rights and vegetarian bias running amuck. Don't believe the hype about organic fruit and vegetables either. Most organic fruit and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides. It is impossible to grow worm-free apples without pesticides as sold as "organic" in the supermarkets . This is typical of brainwashing being done by most universities.
Brainwashing, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotic, Sociology, Sociopath, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Bulimia, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive, Paranoia, Phobia, Addiction, and Other Mental and Personality Disorders
The DDT pesticide (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is a good example of the myths, lies, and brainwashing propagated by the organic food industry. DDT did not have any harmful effects on the bald eagle as claimed. DDT was falsely accused of threatening the extinction of the bird. The population of bald eagles increased by 25 percent between 1941 and 1960 even though DDT production and usage was also increasing sharply. Millions of people have died from malaria each year since the ban against DDT by many countries.
Bald Eagle-DDT Myth Still Flying High - July 6, 2006.
"As early as 1921, the journal Ecology reported that bald eagles were threatened with extinction – 22 years before DDT production even began. According to a report in the National Museum Bulletin, the bald eagle reportedly had vanished from New England by 1937 – 10 years before widespread use of the pesticide.
But by 1960 – 20 years after the Bald Eagle Protection Act and at the peak of DDT use – the Audubon Society reported counting 25 percent more eagles than in its pre-1941 census. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity from 51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970, according to the 1970 Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attributed bald eagle population reductions to a “widespread loss of suitable habitat,” but noted that “illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles,” according to a 1978 report in the Endangered Species Tech Bulletin.
A 1984 National Wildlife Federation publication listed hunting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot as the leading causes of eagle deaths.
In addition to these reports, numerous scientific studies and experiments vindicate DDT.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days and concluded that “DDT residues encountered by eagles in the environment would not adversely affect eagles or their eggs,” according to a 1966 report published in the “Transcripts of 31st North America Wildlife Conference.”"
There has never been a human death caused by DDT or any other pesticide in the diet.
DDT Impact on human health - Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.
"There are no substantial scientific studies so far which prove that DDT is particularly toxic to humans or other primates, compared to other widely-used pesticides. DDT can be applied directly to clothes and used in soap, with no demonstrated ill effects. Indeed, DDT has on rare occasions been administered orally as a treatment for barbiturate poisoning."
The Dirty Little News Secret is Revealed
'Doubling' of Salmonella cases in past year, October 5, 2004
"Lettuce from various catering, fast food and take-away premises have been identified as the likely cause of the outbreaks around the UK."
E. Coli Contaminated Organic Lettuce and Spinach Cannot be Cleaned
Organic lettuce and spinach can become contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 from manure fertilizer or irrigation water contaminated with the animal feces used as fertilizer. The lettuce and spinach take up the E. coli into the root system and into the internal tissues of the leaves. Normal cleaning or washing cannot remove the E. coli. Lettuce cannot be irradiated to kill the pathogenic bacteria. Lettuce is normally eaten raw in salads. Salad bars in restaurants have repeatedly been implicated in E. coli food poisoning resulting in many deaths every year. This presents a significant health hazard when eating organic lettuce or raw organic spinach.
The following was presented by researchers from Rutgers University in a report in the January, 2002, issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
"In recent years, E. coli O157:H7 has been isolated with increasing frequency from fresh produce, including bean sprouts, cantaloupes, apples, and leaf lettuce. The mechanisms by which the pathogen is introduced into the lettuce plant are not fully understood ...."
"We have demonstrated that lettuce grown in soil containing contaminated manure or irrigated with contaminated water results in contamination of the edible portion of the lettuce plant ...."
"Moreover, the results suggest that edible portions of a plant can become contaminated without direct exposure to a pathogen but rather through transport of the pathogen into the plant by the root system ...."
"The inaccessibility of a large number of organisms, as a consequence of their subsurface location, is perhaps the reason for the lack of effectiveness of surface-sanitizing treatments ...."
(Reference: E.B. Solomon, S. Yaron, K.R. Matthews. 2002. Transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from contaminated manure and irrigation water to lettuce plant tissue and its subsequent internalization. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68: 397-400.) January 29, 2002.
Note: News releases about E. coli outbreaks from salad bars are typically scrubbed from the archives by news websites. Stories are under reported or simply ignored, thereby giving the organic food industry special protection from the consuming public. Television reports about deaths from food poisoning are generally prejudice against meat and rarely blames vegetables. This is very deceptive because the majority of deaths from food poisoning is caused by foods other than meats.
Food poisoning caused by contaminated meat generally results in the recall of millions of pounds of meat, but deaths from food poisoning caused by contaminated vegetables are almost ignored. Vegetable are rarely recalled from the store shelves even though bacterial contamination is solidly proven. Vegetables are allowed to get away with murder.
The vegetarians of Southern India eat a low-calorie diet very high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. They have the shortest life span of any society on Earth, and their bodies have an extremely low muscle mass. They are weak and frail, and the children clearly exhibit a failure to thrive. Their heart disease rate is double that of the meat eaters in Northern India. HL Abrams. Vegetarianism: An anthropological/nutritional evaluation. Journal of Applied Nutrition, 1980, 32:2:53-87. The Myths of Vegetarianism.
Fruit and vegetables are a major source of food poisoning. All types of food poisoning kill 5,000 people each year in the United States.
The Hidden Dangers In Organic Food
Dennis T. Avery
Products most people think are purer than other foods are making people seriously ill.
According to recent data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control CDC), people who eat organic and "natural" foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157: H7). This new E. coli is attacking tens of thousands of people per year, all over the world. It is causing permanent liver and kidney damage in many of its victims. The CDC recorded 2,471 confirmed cases of E. coli 0157: H7 in 1996 and estimated that it is causing at least 250 deaths per year in the United States alone.
Consumers of organic food are also more likely to be attacked by a relatively new, more virulent strain of the infamous salmonella bacteria. Salmonella was America’s biggest food-borne death risk until the new E. coli O157 came along.
Organic food is more dangerous than conventionally grown produce because organic farmers use animal manure as the major source of fertilizer for their food crops. Animal manure is the biggest reservoir of these nasty bacteria that are afflicting and killing so many people.
Organic farmers compound the contamination problem through their reluctance to use antimicrobial preservatives, chemical washes, pasteurization, or even chlorinated water to rid their products of dangerous bacteria. One organic grower summed up the community’s attitude as follows: “Pasteurization has only been around a hundred years or so; what do they think people did before that?”
The answer is simple. They died young.
In truth, until the last few years the threat of food-borne bacteria was relatively mild in the U.S. It was prudent to refrigerate one’s food and wash one’s hands before preparing food or eating, and those simple procedures kept food-borne illnesses to a minimum. On occasion, neglect of these rules would cause a family to suffer severe stomach aches. And every year a few weak individuals—the very young, the very old, or those who were already quite ill—would die from exposure to food-borne bacteria.
But the new E. coli attacks even the strong. It inflicts permanent damage on internal organs. It even kills healthy adults. The new salmonella is nearly as dangerous.
Harsh Organic Reality
As these lethal new bacteria spread, organic foods have clearly become the deadliest food choice. Put simply, animal manure is too dangerous to use on food crops if there is any alternative whatever. To eat produce grown with animal fertilizer is like playing Russian roulette with your family’s dinner table. It only takes one contaminated food product to bring on a tragedy.
“I was really horrified that something I felt was so wholesome and so healthy and so safe for my children could really almost kill them,” said Rita Bernstein, a Connecticut housewife. In 1996, two of Bernstein’s three daughters suffered E. coli 0157 attacks that were traced to organic lettuce. Halee, the younger daughter, is still suffering from reduced kidney function and vision problems. Bernstein is grateful that her daughters are still alive. “There are a lot of families out there that don’t have their Halees,” she says.
The new reality is quite sobering. Organic and “natural” food producers supply only about 1 percent of the nation’s food, but the Centers for Disease Control have traced approximately 8 percent of the confirmed E. coli 0157 cases to such foods. Consumer Reports recently found much higher levels of salmonella on free-range chickens than on conventionally raised ones. Many other organic foods also pose higher salmonella risks than “supermarket” foods. To be sure, most strains of salmonella are mild and are easily killed by cooking one’s food adequately. But the new salmonella, S. typhimurium, is far stronger than other varieties. Infection often proves fatal. The CDC estimates that there are up to four million cases of salmonella poisoning per year in the U.S., and it has identified one-fourth of the culture-confirmed cases as the more virulent S. typhimurium.
As if that were not frightening enough, organic and “natural” food consumers also face increased risk of illness from toxins produced by fungi—and some of these toxins are carcinogenic. Refusing to use artificial pesticides, organic farmers allow their crop fields to suffer more damage from insects and rodents, which creates openings through which fungi can enter the fruits and seeds. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly tests samples of various foods for such dangers, and it routinely finds high levels of these natural toxins in organically grown produce. It found, for instance, that organic crops have higher rates of infestation by aflatoxin, one of the most virulent carcinogens know to man. Unfortunately, the FDA has issued no public warnings about these risks so far.
The organic-food sector stresses the “natural” production of foods and beverages—even to the point of refusing to pasteurize milk and fruit juices. As a result, many people become seriously ill after consuming products they mistakenly believe are purer than other foods. For instance, in 1996 E. coli 0157 sickened more than seventy people who contracted it from unpasteurized apple juice produced by the Odwalla Juice Company. One young girl in Colorado died because of this. Odwalla was recently fined more than $1 million in the case and now pasteurizes its juice. But more than 1,500 other companies still cater to the “natural means raw” idea by selling unpasteurized beverages that can prove deadly.
Irradiation of Foods
Even without pesticides and pasteurization, producers could render their organic and natural foods safe through a well-known process called irradiation. Irradiation uses gamma, electron, or X-ray radiation to kill bacteria and other pathogens. The processes preserve the freshness of foods such as fruits, nuts, ground and whole meats, chicken, fish, and seafood.
Food Irradiation from Wikipedia
FDA is currently proposing a rule that in some cases would allow certain irradiated foods to be marketed without any labeling at all. Under the new rules, only those irradiated foods in which the irradiation causes a material change in the food, or a material change in the consequences that may result from the use of the food, would bear the Radura symbol and the term "irradiated", or a derivative thereof, in conjunction with explicit language describing the change in the food or its conditions of use. In the same rule FDA is proposing to permit a firm to use the terms "electronically pasteurized" or "cold pasteurized" in lieu of "irradiated", provided it notifies the agency that the irradiation process being used meets the criteria specified for use of the term "pasteurized".
The web page about food irradiation from Idaho State University is a few years old but very well prepared and factual. Many websites and books have wild hysterical statements condemning irradiated foods. These negative claims are simply not supported by volumes of scientific facts, tests, and studies.
Food Irradiation from Idaho State University
Nuclear Radiation Contamination of Foods
The nuclear radioactivity released by Fukushima Japan is a great concern. Do not buy any fish from the Pacific Ocean. I will never buy any Alaska salmon, crab or other fish. I buy only Atlantic salmon. Don't buy any warm water fish as it may have come from China where it is raised in ponds contaminated by industrial chemicals. I never eat tuna. Do not eat fish where the source is not identified. I avoid all fish and seafood products in restaurants.
Fresh from the Manure Pile
To be sure, it is an overstatement to say, as one physician recently did, that organic food is “grown in animal manure.” Few organic farmers actually put fresh manure on their crops. Most of them compost the manure for several weeks before using it on their crops. But the composting guidelines have been fuzzy and are probably inadequate. A common rule of thumb is to compost for two months at 130 degrees F. or better. The bad news is that a study by Dr. Dean Cliver of the University of California at Davis found that the deadly new E. coli 0157 bacteria can live at least seventy days in a compost pile—and it probably takes an extended period at 160-degree heat to kill it.
Few organic farmers use thermometers to check the safety of their compost piles, or even keep accurate records on how long a given mass of compost has been sitting. For most organic farmers, management of their natural fertilizer is a casual matter of shifting compost piles around with a tractor-mounted front-end loader.
The real surprise is that nobody is telling the public about the new dangers from organic food, or trying to persuade organic farmers to reduce these risks. Activist groups, government, and the press—all of which have shown no reluctance to organize crusades about matters such as global warming, tobacco addiction, and the use of pesticides—are allowing organic farmers to endanger their customers without any publicity whatever. A press corps eager to find headline-worthy dangers would long ago have exposed any other farmers guilty of so blatantly and unnecessarily endangering the public. And other farmers would certainly have been condemned, or even closed down, by government regulators.
Organic foods, however, are politically favored. The Green lobby self-righteously protects them because it urgently wants the public to perceive organic farming as an environmentally benign alternative to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I recently criticized organic farming on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program, and the network was peppered with protest calls before the program even went on the air!
Even newspaper food editors still tell their readers that organic food is chic, healthy, and “earth-friendly.” In general, the U.S. press has been blithely abetting the scare tactics of the environmental movement for decades, and the food writers pride themselves on being at least as “green” as their colleagues on the news pages.
With truly mind-numbing aggressiveness, the organic farming advocates have even gone so far as to claim that “industrial farming” created E. coli 0157. They argue that consumers should protect themselves by buying organic products from local farmers, a “recommendation” that blatantly serves their own self-interest. The truth is, no one knows where the new E. coli strain came from, but we do know that bacteria are constantly mutating as a natural consequence of their rapid reproduction. Allowing bacteria to proliferate, as organic farmers do, is not the way to minimize mutations.
Strangely Silent Regulators
Federal regulators have largely been cowed into silence. The intensity with which organic-farming believers and eco-activists defend their old-fashioned type of agriculture rivals the intensity of the religious fanatic. For instance, one consumer recently said, “I think trying to eliminate the poisons and pesticides from our food is a great way to eliminate the chemical industry’s destruction of the earth.” As a consequence of such attitudes, the CDC has neglected its responsibility to warn the public about the newly increased dangers of organic foods. One CDC doctor—Dr. Robert Tauxe, Chief of the CDC’s Food-Borne Diseases Branch—wrote an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 8, 1997) highlighting the dangers of “organically grown, unprocessed foods produced without pesticides or preservatives.” The CDC was promptly flooded with angry phone calls from passionate believers in organic farming. The doctor now says that he “doesn’t know” whether organic food is more dangerous than conventionally produced food. The CDC has refused to grant interviews on the subject.
With similar obtuseness, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently issued a draft of a new consumer brochure highlighting the unproven “dangers” from pesticide residues—and recommending organic foods. But after forty years and billions of dollars in research, scientists are still looking for the first victim of pesticide residues, whereas the new E. coli strain attacked thousands of Americans last year. Many of these victims suffered permanent internal organ damage, and hundreds of them died. The EPA’s draft brochure on pesticide residues simply appears to reflect the antipesticide biases of the agency’s administrator, Carol Browner, and her political patron, Vice President Gore.
Other federal agencies have displayed the same bias. The Food and Drug Administration, for instance, has failed to issue any warnings to consumers about the higher levels of natural toxins their researchers regularly find in organic foods. And the Department of Agriculture, which employs some of the world’s best food scientists, goes out of its way to court the organic-farming supporters and allied eco-activists, and makes a strenuous effort to find good things to say about “alternative agriculture.”
“Natural food” proponents claim that organic farming is “earth-friendly,” but it’s not. The ugly secret of organic farming is that its yields are only about half as high as those of mainstream farmers. Approximately one-third of the average organic farm is not planted to marketable crops at all; it is planted to green manure crops (such as clover) to build up the nitrogen fertility of the soil. If the organic farmers gave up animal manure as a nitrogen source, the percentage of land they keep in green manure crops would have to become even higher. Mainstream farmers take their nitrogen from the air, through an industrial process that requires no land to be taken from nature.
Also, the organic farmers suffer higher losses from destruction by pests. They expect it. Books on organic farming tell their readers to live with it. “I’m lucky to get half as much yield from my organic acres as from my regular fields,” said the manager of a 50,000-acre cooperative farm in England. His experience is confirmed by numerous studies from a dozen different countries.
Need for Higher Yields
For all these reasons, widespread organic farming is simply not a viable option at this time. The first consequence of a global shift to organic farming would be the plowdown of at least six-million square miles of wildlife habitat to make up for the lower yields of organic production. That is more than the total land area of the United States.
Agriculture already takes up 36 percent of the world’s land surface. (All the world’s cities cover only 1.5 percent.) A world with a peak population of 8.5 billion affluent people in 2050 will need at least 2.5 times as much farm output as we have today.
Absent a worldwide catastrophe involving billions of human deaths, this demand is inevitable. We will not be able to count on people to change their diets and accept less protein. There is no global trend toward vegetarianism today, nor any sign of one. In America, for example, less than 4 percent of the population is vegetarian, and 95 percent of U.S. vegetarians consume milk, cheese, eggs, and other expensive calories. Less than 0.05 percent of the affluent people in the world give up livestock products completely.
In fact, the worldwide trend is in the opposite direction. Countries such as China, India, and South Korea are leading the biggest surge in demand for meat and milk the world has ever seen. It is now probably too late to save wildlands by preventing people from acquiring a taste for meat and milk, and there is certainly no sign of mass conversions to vegetarianism around the globe.
If the world does not triple the yields on the high-quality land currently in farming, we will pay the price not in human famine but in forests and wild meadows cleared to produce more meat, milk, and produce.
Modern farm chemicals are not entirely without risk, but the hazards they pose to people and wildlife are near zero and declining. For instance, Captan, one of the pesticides on the Greenpeace hit list, is one ten-millionth as carcinogenic as ordinary drinking water. EPA Administrator Browner is trying to decertify an herbicide called atrazine because a few parts per billion turn up in some of our drinking water. But Browner’s own staff concedes that to get above the “no-effect” level in the rat tests that ascertain cancer risk, you would have to drink 150,000 gallons of water per day for seventy years. And for nine months of the year you would have to add your own atrazine! The health risks of modern pesticides are minimal.
Nonetheless, advocates of organic farming like to ask, “What’s more dangerous, pesticides or horse manure?” The answer may surprise them. Researchers are still looking for the first human death from pesticide residues, fifty years after DDT was introduced and thirty years after its use was banned in the United States, but manure is apparently claiming lives almost daily through bacterial contamination of organic food.
Nor do modern pesticides pose a significant risk to wildlife. They are more narrowly targeted, degrade more rapidly, and are better designed to avoid wildlife impact than the early, more persistent pesticides. Also, they are often used in integrated pest management systems to minimize the amount and frequency of treatments, and are applied with computer-calculated precision. The new glyphosate and sulfanylurea weed killers are no more toxic to birds and fish than table salt, and one tiny tablet treats an entire acre. Quite simply, when used properly these substances are not dangerous to anything but the pests they are designed to regulate.
Giving up pesticides would mean the certain destruction of millions of square miles of wildlands, much of it in the species-rich tropics. Because much of the world’s biodiversity is in those lands, a move toward widespread organic farming would cost nature far more than the careful use of today’s safe, narrowly targeted pesticides, high-powered seeds, and factory-produced fertilizers.
Organic food buyers are, unfortunately, twice losers: They and their families accept deadly risks from truly dangerous new food-borne microorganisms, and, at the same time, their choices increase the likelihood that the people of the next century will plow down massive tracts of wildlife habitat to make way for low-yield crops.
Unless the press and government agencies fulfill their obligation to warn people of the dangers of these foods, the number of such incidents will continue to rise. These risks are easy to overcome, but farmers and consumers must know the dangers and act accordingly.
Dennis T. Avery is Director of Global Food Issues for Hudson Institute and the author of Saving the Planet With Pesticides and Plastic: The Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming (Hudson Institute, 1995; to order call 1-800-HUDSON-Ø or visit www.hudson.org for more information). This article also drew on reporting done by Scott Wheeler and Marc Maroni for the “American Investigator” on the American Voice cable channel.
This article originally appeared in American Outlook, Fall 1998.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, Va., and is director of global food issues for the Hudson Institute of Indianapolis.
Organic Food May Hold Hidden Dangers
Dr. Mandy A. Carr
Feature Date: September 10, 2001
Going organic may be hazardous to your health.
The reason is a strain of the E. coli bacteria may actually contaminate certain vegetables when they are fertilized with organic materials, says Dr. Mandy A. Carr, a research scientist and assistant professor of animal science at Angelo State University.
E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a normal bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals. E. coli O157:H7 is a strain of the bacteria which was identified in the 1980s as causing diarrheal diseases in humans, Carr said. It can be transmitted by contact with waste matter of humans and other mammals.
Typical symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include acute cramps, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and, in worst cases, kidney failure, Carr said. Children under 5 and the elderly are most susceptible to the infection.
Recent research, she said, has shown that E. coli O157:H7 causes over 40,000 infections and 250 deaths each year in the United States alone. The organism can incubate in the human intestinal tract for up to four days before symptoms develop. The illness can last up to 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels E. coli O157:H7 as one of the top four concerns related to the national food supply.
While outbreaks are often associated with meat contamination when fecal material comes in contact with the meat during slaughter, there have been cases where outbreaks have been caused by contaminated potato salad, apple juice, cantaloupe and even alfalfa sprouts, among various fruits and vegetables. These cases are problematical because it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the source of the contamination. It could be human contamination or organic contamination.
With the growing demand for organically grown food products, chemical fertilizers are often discouraged," Carr said. "Thus, animal waste and by-products are utilized in food production. One explanation of outbreaks caused by fruits and vegetables is that organic fertilizer was used in the production of these foods and contamination occurred in the field."
Consequently, organically grown fruits and vegetables contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 carry a hidden health hazard.
Even so, a good washing of all fruits and vegetables can remove the bacteria and make it safe for eating. In fact some restaurants now use specially made commercial washes to cleanse their fruits and vegetables before offering them to the public.
Human contamination results from poor hygiene and germs being transferred from individuals to the food. Again, a good washing can reduce the chances for additional contamination.
In spite of the dangers of the E. coli strain, Carr said preventive measures can reduce the chances of becoming infected, either from meat or fruit and vegetable sources.
First, cook all meats properly, Carr said. Hamburger and other ground meats should be cooked until juices run clear at 160 degrees. Steaks and other whole meats can be cooked to a lesser degree of doneness as long as the surface reaches 160 degrees and is not punctured by forks during the preparation or cooking. Punctures can transfer the bacteria to the interior of the meat where temperatures may not be high enough to destroy the microorganism. Carr recommends using tongs rather than forks for turning meat during grilling.
Second, wash non-cooked items well with water and cleaners made for fruits and vegetables or even with antimicrobial soaps. This can help destroy the dangerous E. coli strain that may have contaminated the food, either through organic procedures or human handling.
Finally, maintain high standards of hygiene around the house and at work, she said. Because of the highly contagious nature of the bacteria, everyone should always follow their mother's admonition to wash their hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers or coming in contact with any human or animal waste material.
In spite of the potential dangers, consumers can take some comfort, Carr said, by recognizing that the food supply in the United States has remained one of the safest in the world for decades.
The Deadly Chemicals in Organic Food
Alex A. Avery
Originally Published in the New York Post, June 2001
June 2, 2001 -- If you buy organic food because you think it's free of the cancer-causing pesticides used on other farms, think again. "Organic" farmers routinely spray their crops with naturally occurring pesticides - and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified pyrethrum, a top organic pesticide, as a "likely human carcinogen."
Feeling paranoid yet? Well, in fact, the EPA made that call in secret, almost two years ago! The revelation about pyrethrum, with other recent findings, calls into question the superiority of organic farming.
For decades, activists have claimed that organic food is healthier and kinder to the environment than "chemically farmed" food. Organic farmers, for example, didn't use synthetic pesticides.
What most people don't realize - and activists try to hide - is that organic farmers are allowed to use a wide array of natural chemicals as pest killers. Moreover, these natural poisons pose the same theoretical (but remote) dangers as the synthetic pesticides so hated by organic devotees.
Last year, we learned that rotenone, a natural insecticide squeezed from roots of tropical plants, causes symptoms of Parkinson's disease in rats. Now we learn of the EPA's pyrethrum decision.
The EPA's Cancer Assessment Review Committee based its 1999 decision on the same high-dose rat tests long used by eco-activists to condemn synthetic pesticides. Because no one knows just how pyrethrum causes tumors, the committee also recommended assuming that even the tiniest dose can be deadly. (The same logic is used to brand hundreds of other chemicals as carcinogens.)
Charles Benbrook, a long-time organic activist, notes that pyrethrum is applied to crops at low rates and that pyrethrum degrades relatively rapidly, minimizing consumer exposure. He's right, but all this is true of today's non-persistent synthetic pesticides as well.
Pyrethrum and modern synthetic pesticides break down so rapidly that consumers are rarely exposed to any at all. Two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables tested as they leave the farm in the U.S. have no detectable pesticide residues - despite our being able to detect chemicals at parts per trillion levels. (That's equivalent to 1 second in 31,000 years!)
Pyrethrum is extracted from a type of chrysanthemum grown mainly in Africa. It is literally a nerve poison that these plants evolved to fight off munching insects. The dried, ground-up flowers were used in the early 19th century to control body lice.
In fact, many of the widely used synthetic pesticides are based on natural plant-defense chemicals. Synthetic versions of pyrethrum (known as pyrethroids) make it possible to protect a crop with one or two sprays instead of spraying natural pyrethrum five to seven times at higher volumes.
Organic activists hold to the twisted logic that if a toxic chemical can be squeezed from a plant or mined from the earth, it's OK - but a safer chemical synthesized in a lab is unacceptable.
It is possible to farm without pesticides, as demonstrated by a farm family recently highlighted in Organic Gardening magazine. They use a Shop-Vac and a portable generator in a wheelbarrow to daily suck insects off crops. Talk about labor-intensive! And even that won't fight fungal or bacterial diseases, or insects that eat crops from the inside out. Organic coffee growers in Guatemala spray coffee trees with fermented urine as a primitive fungicide.
Bruce Ames, noted cancer expert and recent winner of the National Medal of Science, notes that more than half of the natural food chemicals he tests come up carcinogenic - the same proportion as synthetic chemicals. These natural chemicals are collectively present in large amounts in the very fruits and vegetables that are our biggest defense against cancer.
Medical and health authorities are unanimous in their recommendation of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day to ward off cancer - no matter how they are grown. Lesson: high-dose rat tests vastly exaggerate risks.
With global food demand set to more than double in the next 50 years and one-third of the planet's wildlife habitat already converted to farmland, humanity must responsibly use pesticides to produce more per acre.
There simply are no compelling reasons to demand chemical-free farming.
Alex Avery is director of research at the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues in Churchville, Va.
The Organic Myth of Pesticide-Free Farming
Nature's Toxic Tools: The Organic Myth of Pesticide-Free Farming - pdf download
February 2001, Alex A. Avery
It is important to address the common misperception that organic farming is "pesticide-free." Organic farmers are allowed to use a number of toxic chemical pesticides, and many organic crops are routinely sprayed with pesticides.
Center for Global Food Issues
A tiny parasite, colloquially known as a 'vampire mite,' is devastating honeybees. That worries experts because honeybee-pollinated crops are valued at more than $15 billion a year.
Vegetarians and others who protest the use of pesticides in farming claim the use of pesticides is devastating the honey bee population. This simply is not true. The drop in the honey bee population is caused by a tiny parasite known as the vampire mite.
Bee Killer Imperils Crops
The Contamination of Organic Produce by
Human Pathogens in Animal Manures
by Hillary Nelson
In October of 1992, public health officials investigated several cases of bloody diarrhea in a small town in Maine; one of the patients, a two year old, developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and died of kidney failure. The cause? Escherichia coli 0157:H7, better known as just plain E. coli. E. coli 0157:H7, a bacteria which was only identified in 1982, is one of hundreds of varieties of E. coli found in the guts of mammals. This particular variety, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can be found in anywhere from 1-3% of all cattle in this country and causes them absolutely no harm. However, when E. coli 0157:H7 is picked up by a human host, the effects can be devastating; at the very least it can cause severe, often bloody diarrhea, and in the worst cases, particularly in young children, E. coli can kill. Most often E. coli illnesses are associated with eating undercooked hamburger, but frighteningly, in the Maine case, it turned out the source of the E.coli was a fresh vegetable from an organic garden. In fact, the first victim was a vegetarian, and probably contracted her illness by eating poorly washed raw vegetables that she grew herself using E. coli tainted manure from her own cow and calf as fertilizer (for unknown reasons, calf manure seems to carry the disease more often than adult cow manure). E. coli is spread through contact with contaminated feces. Apparently, through improper handwashing, the first victim then passed the disease on to her own kids and one of their playmates, resulting in the death of one of the children.
This is by no means the only case of E. coli being contracted from vegetables. According to Dr. Jonathan Mermin, an epidemiologist in the Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of lettuce was implicated in four separate outbreaks of E. coli during the summer of 1995, one at a restaurant in Idaho, one in Montana where the source seemed to be a supermarket, one involving Boy Scouts in Maine, and one at a hospital in Toronto; only the Montana outbreak was successfully traced back to the source of the lettuce. Then, last summer, outbreaks of E. coli in Illinois and Connecticut were traced to a bagged mesclun mix coming out of California. In both the Montana case and last summers outbreak, the producers of the lettuces were organic growers and the lettuces were probably contaminated by E. coli infected cow manure.
Why are lettuces in particular plagued by E. coli contamination? One reason is that lettuce is not cooked before consumption, a process which generally would kill pathogens. Another is that lettuce is not vigorously washed before consumption or peeled, as are other vegetables. Also, according to Dr. Mermin, there is now some evidence that lettuce juices can actually support E. coli; the process of cutting the head to harvest it, tearing or bruising of the leaves, all make these juices available to the bacteria. And finally, the process of crisping often used in supermarkets and by producers, whereby the heads of lettuce are placed in vats of warm water so that the leaves drink in the moisture and then are placed in the cooler where the leaves become nice and crisp, can cause E. coli contamination of one head of lettuce to spread to every head of lettuce sharing the water bath (this process was implicated in the Montana outbreak).
Dr. Mermin, who flew to California to investigate last summer's outbreak says there are six primary points in the growing-consumption chain where lettuces could become tainted (though in this instance, it was almost certainly on-farm):
Growing. Manures containing E. coli are used to fertilize the crop, or are present in the growing area either because cattle are pastured nearby or deer are present (studies are ongoing regarding E. coli in deer; it is not known if they pick it up from the cows or if perhaps the cattle pick it up from them but it is believed that deer and other ungulates are potentially vectors for E. coli). When the lettuce is cut at harvest, or is bruised or torn, the lettuce juices may become available to support the pathogen.
Processing. The processing area could become contaminated by something as simple as a worker coming in with manure on his shoes.
Boxes and Coolers. The big growers use enormous vats of recycled water to wash and crisp the lettuce; sometimes the same water is used for weeks at a time, during which time a single head of contaminated lettuce could infect thousands of other heads.
Transport. The trucks could be contaminated.
Local distributors. Unsanitary conditions, infected workers who don't carefully wash their hands, the crisping process, all could contribute to contamination.
The consumer. A consumer who handles meat and then tears lettuce, who doesn't scrub a cutting surface between uses, or who is infected already, can readily contaminate lettuce at home.
Lettuce is not the only non-meat food which could be contaminated by human pathogens; last falls Odwalla juice debacle (in which hundreds of people out west were made sick by unpasteurized apple juice - one person died) and an outbreak of E. coli in the United Kingdom associated with the handling of raw potatoes are only two documented examples of produce contamination. And E. coli 0157:H7 is not the only pathogen of concern. Dr. Mermin cited examples of salmonella on tomatoes and cholera on cantaloupe, two good reasons to wash all fruits and vegetables before cutting into them. In Maine, a few hundred school children were made quite ill by cryptosporidium, a protozoan for which there is no primary treatment. The source was apple cider which had been pressed at a school agricultural fair using apples gathered from a cow pasture. Dr. Aaron Margolin, a microbiologist at UNH, listed for me a whole slew of other potentially deadly pathogens carried by animals which could be contracted by humans including tuberculosis, lysteria, campylobacter, rotovirus, and toxoplasmosis. And Dr. Mermin pointed out to me that E. coli 0157:H7 was only recently identified; "Believe me", he said, "there'll be more of these diseases in the future that right now we don't even know exist."
I asked Dr. Margolin what the average small farmer could do to ensure the safety of his/her crops. First, he recommended composting manure before using it as a fertilizer. He also said to be aware of what other animals might be contaminating your garden, noting there are more than fifty animals which can carry cryptosporidium. In fact, several of the experts I spoke with mentioned rats and mice in particular as being vectors for serious illnesses - for example salmonella in the eggs of chickens who eat rat droppings - and suggested being vigilant in their control and extremely cautious around their feces. Dr. Margolin also suggested that deep wells are the best sources of irrigation, and noted that surface water stands a pretty good chance of being contaminated with at least some pathogens which have the potential for being transferred to produce. Thus, if you are washing lettuce mixes before market, it is important you use only drinking quality water to do so. Finally, Dr. Margolin said to be aware of what your neighbors are doing. You can have the most pristine farm in New Hampshire and if someone uphill from you is spreading raw manure or Class B sludge, your soil could be contaminated by run-off.
In the end Dr. Margolin cautioned that any person with a compromised immune system, that is, very young or very old, or a person who is ill, should be following the advice of a physician when it comes to food. He suggested that such individuals should be eating only vegetables which have been washed, peeled and boiled for ten minutes, and should never consume raw foods like salads or unpasteurized products like cider or raw milk. This is an instance where it might be preferable to get your vitamins out of a bottle rather than to take the risk of contracting a deadly illness. For the rest of us, our body's defenses are truly amazing; a bout of crypto might make me or you well acquainted with our toilets, but it probably wouldn't kill us. But an AIDs patient or an infant, they could be dead.
Clearly, manure handling is of utmost importance in ensuring the safety of what we grow. Most organic growers are composting their manure, but certainly not all. According to Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer, the State Epidemiologist who investigated the Maine case cited at the beginning of this article, the woman who became ill was continuously putting raw manure into her garden all summer. Other experts I spoke with told me about individuals they had seen mulching actively growing food crops with raw manure, and Dr. Mermin, while investigating in California, found the use of raw manure there quite worrisome. Just from a fertilization standpoint, putting raw manure onto food crops that are close to harvest doesn't make sense. From a sanitation standpoint, the practice is reprehensible and in most places is, in fact, illegal. More commonly though, raw manure is not used on actively growing food crops, but spread onto pasture or plowed into cropland before it is planted. Though this is a venerable practice, it definitely has problems associated with, most notably run-off polluting water supplies.
I spoke with Will Brinton, PhD. (the director of Woods End Research Lab in Mt. Vernon, ME. and widely regarded as this country's top Compost Wonk) about the issue of raw manure. Over 100 million tons of manure are produced in this country every year and less than seven percent of it is composted. This is a really enormous problem.
Dr. Brinton sees the days of raw manure spreading coming to an end in the not too distant future, mostly because of the degradation of water supplies. I asked him how long pathogens can survive in raw manures which have been spread on cropland, or which have fallen there in the pasturing of animals or using animals such as swine to turn soil. There's a lot of controversy over this issue; he said, it's not well understood but at least partly depends upon conditions such as how wet the soil is. In slightly anaerobic conditions like a very wet field, pathogens will probably survive longer. For this reason, most states have laws regarding how quickly food crops can be harvested from areas where raw manure has been applied. For certified organic growers here in New Hampshire the wait is a minimum of 120 days. However, the Organic Food Protection Act of 1990 (which still has not gone into effect because of the long process of writing rules but which should come on line soon) specifies a minimum of 60 days, a number which could prove to be problematic given that CDC's Dr. Mermin told me there is good evidence that E. coli can survive in manure for seventy days.
Some people use so-called aged manure on their crops, but this term is a hard one to define. Certainly, manure sitting in a pile for a time before it is used will undergo some degree of composting, but again, conditions such as temperature and moisture will affect just how much composting actually happens. Donna Rosenbaum, a food safety consultant with Food Safety Partners told me that freezing has no effect upon E. coli. You put a contaminated hamburger into the freezer, its still contaminated when it comes out. A hamburger has to be evenly heated to 155 degrees for five minutes to kill E. coli. A frozen manure pile contains many microorganisms in suspended animation, just waiting for warm weather to become active. Thus, a manure pile aged for six months in winter has a very different biological profile from one aged six months in spring and summer. Also, keep in mind that every time you add a forkfull of fresh manure to a pile you reinoculate it with pathogens; aging doesn't begin until the day you stop adding fresh waste to the pile. Because of pathogens and run-off pollution problems, Dr. Brinton feels we really should be composting, period before we spread manures. The kind of composting Dr. Brinton is talking about is not the stack-the-manure-in-a-corner-and-hope variety, but proper get-the-manure-hot-and-take-its-temperature variety.
For the complete how-to, buy the On-Farm Composting Handbook available from Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY 14853-5701 for $20.00 + $3.95 shipping.
Briefly, proper composting involves balancing the nitrogen in the manure with the carbon in bedding (or leaves or wood chips or whatever you have) at a rate of between 1:20 and 1:40, controlling the moisture, and aerating the pile. Particle size and pH also play a role in composting, but ultimately, if all goes well, the pile should heat to an ideal temperature of between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of five to fifteen days. Temperatures much lower than these could result in poor pathogen reduction, much higher will kill off many beneficial organisms. This period of heating kills off most of the harmful pathogens in the compost, but according to Dr. Brinton, somewhere between 2-10% of the most heat resistant bacteria survive (though viruses and helminths do not). For this reason, a period of between 60 and 120 days of curing is essential. During this time there is a great bloom of microbial organisms in the manure; this is known as speciation.
Speciation results in most (though not necessarily all) of the harmful pathogens being out-competed and dying. Unfortunately, the federal standards written into the notorious 503 Rule (which you might remember from the great sludge debate) do not require this curing process, so composts can be bagged and sold which sometimes exhibit so-called regrowth, where harmful bacteria briefly bloom before dying out as the compost ages. Though such young composts have the potential to transmit disease, Dr. Brinton, maintains that long curing results in very safe manure. Most of the organic farmers I've talked to are composting their manures for a year and a half, or two years. I think you can be very confident about the safety of these composts.
If you want to be certain your compost is done before using it, there are a couple of tests available from Woods End that are extremely accurate. The more expensive one (in the short-term) is purchasing a Dewar flask, which runs around $300.00. This is the standard technology in Europe, where laws are extremely stringent and flunking the Dewar test can put a compost company out of business. Basically, the flask is a thermos which allows the compost to heat, how fast and how hot determines how done the compost is. A much less expensive test (in the short haul, but if you're going to be doing this a lot, investing in a Dewar flask might be a good idea) is a nifty little set-up developed by Woods End called Solvita. This runs about $14.00 a test and involves sticking a paddle in a jar of compost and waiting for the paddle to change color.
It occurred to me that perhaps we could do an end run around the issue of pathogens in manures by making certain the animals who provided our manure did not carry harmful human pathogens. But it turns out testing is expensive and not always particularly helpful. For example, in the Maine case, no E. coli was ever found in the manure of the calf or her mother. However, through complicated procedures it was ascertained that the cow and her calf had antibodies in their blood for E. coli which matched the genetic makeup of the E. coli which was found in the garden soil. Even if such procedures were within the economic means of the average market farmer, they are only a snapshot of a particular moment on the farm. The farmer could buy a pig or a new heifer, a wild animal could enter the farmyard; all these could be carriers and could infect the other animals on the premises. Also, many farmers import manure to their homesteads and have no control over the health of the animals which created it. Countries like Denmark and Sweden have had great success with zero tolerance policies toward Salmonella and E. coli, destroying animals and even whole herds to enforce compliance. Under pressure from consumer groups, President Clinton announced a new food safety initiative; perhaps with enough political will zero tolerance could someday be the norm here, too. Will Brinton, for one, can see a time coming when farms are not only organically certified, but microbially certified as well. But right now these diseases are endemic in agribusinesses where animals are produced in factory conditions. Such businesses would face enormous costs to rid their animals of human pathogens; they just are not interested in doing so, and as long as they don't, it will remain almost impossible for the small farmer to keep these diseases out of his/her operation. For example, most researchers agree that Salmonella is virtually ambient in this country; it can be found in more than 50% of the samples of chicken taken from any supermarket. As Vickie Smith, NH's Organic Certifier told me, You'd have to have completely asceptic conditions to keep all these diseases off a farm. It's just not realistic.
The apple cider industry is still reeling from the Odwalla juice scandal; it may never fully recover. All it would take for organic vegetable producers to suffer a similar disaster would be one well publicized outbreak of organic produce-related E. coli next summer. The greenmarkets would be turned into ghost towns at the height of the season. As stewards of the land, as individuals committed to practices which improve the health of the soil, plants, animals and people, and as responsible business people, it is our duty to see the disaster coming and to keep it from ever arriving. Who are we to shake our fingers at the sludge industry for endangering public safety when we ourselves participate in risky practices? We must recognize the presence of human pathogens in animal manures and do all we can to keep these diseases from reaching our families, friends and customers. Fastidious sanitation cannot be over-emphasized; always, always wash your hands after handling manure, or for that matter farm implements which have come in contact with manure. Take those manure encrusted boots off before entering your house or your vehicle. Wear coveralls to work around manure and then take them off when you're done. Keep your truck bed clean. Don't use poultry to weed any crop you intend to eat in the next year. Plant a green manure crop to precede a vegetable crop on that patch you had the pigs clean up last summer. Never just pull a carrot out of the ground, wipe it off and hand it to your kid for a snack. I could go on forever, but you get the message. And finally, proper composting of manures before they are used is essential to ensuring the safety of the food we grow.
The following individuals were extremely helpful in providing information used in this article:
William F. Brinton, Ph.D.,
Woods End Research Laboratory, Inc.
PO Box 297
Mt. Vernon, ME 04532
207 293-2457, 207 293-2488 (fax)
Kathleen Gensheimer, M.D.,
State Epidemiologist, Division of Disease Control
Maine Dept. of Human Services
Augusta, ME 04332
207 287-5301, 800 293-7534 (fax)
Associate Professor Aaron Margolin, Ph.D.
Dept. of Microbiology
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824
Jonathan Mermin, M.D., Epidemiologist
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, MS 1-38
Atlanta, Georgia, 30333
404 639-3177, 404 639-2205 (fax)
Food Safety Partners
853 Sanders Road, #323
Northbrook, Illinois 60062
Also, many different individuals at the following organizations were very helpful: The UNH Cooperative Extension, The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, New Hampshire Dept. of Health and Human Services, USDA National Organic Program, White Mountain Resource Management, Inc.
The following written materials were also used:
Cieslak, Paul R., Gensheimer Kathleen F., et al., Escherichia coli 0157:H7 Infection from a manured garden, The Lancet 1993; 342: 367.
Hay, Jonathan C. Pathogen Destruction and Biosolids Composting, BioCycle 1996; 37,6: 67-76.
Light, Luise. Cleaning Up the Mess, Vegetarian Times 1996; December: 58-69.
Millard, Peter S., Gensheimer, Kathleen F., et al. An Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis From Fresh-Pressed Apple Cider, JAMA 1994; 272: 1592-6.
Mainely Composting (a series of articles), BioCycle 1996; 37: 46-82
Manual of Best Management Practices For Agriculture in New Hampshire, A Discussion of Nutrient Best Management Practices for Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution. New Hampshire Dept. Of Agriculture; Concord, NH: 1995.
New Hampshire Organic Certification Program Production Standards, Part Agr 906 Of Organically Grown Foods. Bureau of Markets, NH Dept. of Agriculture; Concord, NH: 1996.
Organic Food Production Act of 1990, Section 2114. Organic Plan, Part 2 Manuring.
State of New Hampshire Solid Waste Rule on Composting, Env.-Wm 2304.03 Processing Standards.
Rynk, Robert, ed. On Farm Composting Handbook. Ithaca, NY: Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service. 1992.
Copyright © 1997--Hillary Nelson. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
The Latest Organic Food News
Tomatoes pulled off shelves amid salmonella scare - Breitbart News - May 10, 2008.
"CHICAGO (AP) - Federal officials hunted for the source of a 17-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of raw tomatoes, while the list of supermarkets and restaurants yanking those varieties from shelves and menus grew. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that since mid-April, 167 people infected with salmonella with the same "genetic fingerprint" have been identified. At least 23 people have been hospitalized. A 67-year-old cancer patient in Texas who health officials said was sickened by salmonella at a Mexican restaurant is believed to be the first death associated with the outbreak."
Organic food 'can add to allergies' - Telegraph.co.uk - March 8, 2007.
"Parental trust in organic food could be a reason more children are suffering from allergies, an academic has suggested.
Jonathan O'B Hourihane, a professor of paediatrics, told peers yesterday that nearly half the population is now prone to allergies. But while many follow the accepted advice to eat a varied and fresh diet, it is the sheer variety of fresh foods now available that may be to blame for the prevalence of allergies.
"The impression that organic or exotic fresh food is better for children may by linked to the appearance of allergies to foods that would have appeared bizarre to previous generations," Prof O'B Hourihane said."
Reference Books and Online Support Groups:
Active Low-Carber Forums - Atkins & Low Carbohydrate Diet Support Group
You can talk with others on this message board who have experience living a low-carbohydrate way of life. Registration is free but is required before you can post your own message or question. You can click above to visit and read messages posted by others. Look for the special health topics or search for previously posted messages on the subject of your concern. It's a fun place to talk with likeminded people and learn the truth about nutrition and health.
Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life
Life Without Bread is an important addition to the growing body of literature on the benefits and importance of low-carb diet. Written by Christian Allan, Ph.D., and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., the book is based on Dr. Lutz's experience using carbohydrate restricted diets with thousands of patients for more than 40 years. It is based on extensive research in the medical and scientific literature and provides ample references. The book presents a unified theory of how high (and even moderate) levels of dietary carbohydrate cause or exacerbate various health problems and how carbohydrate restriction can help people to recover from those problems.
The book Life Without Bread by Christian Allan, Ph.D. and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D. has a chapter on gastrointestinal diseases. Don't be mislead by the title to believe the cure is the simple elimination of bread. Mr. Lutz's older book is out of print but has essentially the same information. It may even contain more detail than his new book above. Fortunately, Chapter VII: Gastro-Intestinal Tract of the older book can be read online.
Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution - Revised and Improved
The Atkins' New Diet Revolution is the best book for an initial dietary change and quick weight loss, reduced blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. Look for the companion book for recipes. It has some very interesting case studies from the doctor's patients. It includes data from past civilizations proving the low-carbohydrate diet is the most healthy.
Robert C. Atkins, M.D.
Dr. Atkins' Age-Defying Diet Revolution
This is Dr. Atkins newest book. The main topics are the cause, prevention and cure for diabetes and heart disease which have become major health concerns in the United States and many other developed countries.
Robert C. Atkins, M.D. with Sheila Buff.
Protein Power Lifeplan
This book by Dr. Michael and Dr. Mary Dan Eades has an excellent chapter on "Leaky Gut Syndrome" which describes the cause of bowel diseases and autoimmune diseases.
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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness or nutrition regimen. The information contained in this online site and email is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge of dietary supplements. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation, or advice of your physician or other health care provider. We do not recommend the self-management of health problems. Information obtained by using our services is not exhaustive and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. Should you have any health care related questions, please call or see your physician or other health care provider promptly. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. We strongly suggest you select a physician who is knowledgeable and supportive of the low-carbohydrate diet. Many of the physicians listed on this page have health clinics.
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The following sites have excellent information on a good diet for healing and health preservation.
The World's Most Popular Diet & Nutrition Message Board
Life Healing Ministries
Jerry S. from Augusta, Georgia writes, "Thank you for such a wonderful web site.... the nutrition pages opened my eyes to the truth - and saved my life!"
|Low-Carb Diet Plan Prevents Diabetes, Cancer, Alzheimer's, and Heart Disease.|
|Two Studies Validate the Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein Diet.|
|Breaking Stalls and Plateaus on the Low-Carbohydrate Diet.||Eskimos Prove An All Meat Diet Provides Excellent Health.|
|Exposing the Myths, Dangers, and Lies About Organic Food.||Amino Acids - The Building Blocks of Life and Healing.|
|The Organic Farming Myths.||Anthropological Research Reveals Optimal Human Diet by H. Leon Abrams, Jr.|
|Dietary Fiber Theory. Scientific Proof Fiber in the Diet is Unhealthy.||
by H. Leon Abrams, Jr.
|The Myths of Vegetarianism.||The Case Against Milk by Sheila Buff.|
|Vegetarian Diet Deficiencies Are a Proven Fact.||Vitamin Deficiencies and Vitamin Toxicities.|
|Genetically Modified Corn Study Reveals Health Damage and Cover-up.||The Mediterranean Diet is a Big FAT Lie.|
Pregnancy, Adoption, Abortion, Infertility,
and Proper Diet During Pregnancy for a Healthy Baby
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|Top Ten Embryonic Stem Cell and Human Cloning Research Claims, Promises, Facts, Expectations, Exaggerations, Hype, and Myths|
|My personal vitamin, mineral, and supplement program by Kent R. Rieske|
|Top Ten Myths About Nutrition and Diet in the Bible|
|The Truth, Myths, and Lies About the Health and Diet of the "Long-Lived" People of Hunza, Pakistan, Hunza Bread, and Pie Recipes|
The Truth About the Balanced Diet Theory and the
Four or Five Groups of the Food Guide Pyramid
|Study With Mice Shows the High-Fat, Low-Carbohydrate Diet Improves Alzheimer's Disease and Most Likely Will Prevent Alzheimer's Disease|
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