Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.

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Bee Farmer’s Bee Hives Seized

English: Apiary of Langstroth hives in South C...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Terry Ingram’s bee hives were taken from his property by the state of Illinois. According to the Organic View,

“Terry Ingram is a well-educated farmer who holds degrees in physics and math, with minors in history, biology and education. He has been farming for over 50 years, has been a beekeeper, apiary instructor and bee researcher for over 56 years.”

Mr. Ingram had 15 years worth of research with his bees. He had worked hard  at cultivating a bee that was possibly resistant to Monsanto’s Round Up pesticide.  The department of Illinois Agriculture came to Mr. Ingram’s property when he was not present. They had no search warrant, and declared his bees had a disease called foulbrood.  Mr. Ingram was prepared to prove, in court, his bees did not have the foulbrood disease. About a month  before a court hearing, the Department of Agriculture came unannounced and seized most his bees. Of the bees that were removed from his property, they included the bees that were possibly resistant to Round Up. At first, Mr. Ingram thought the bees had been stolen, but while in court, Mr. Ingram asked a member of the Department of Agriculture if they had taken the bees. The Department of Agriculture agreed that they had taken the bees before their legal counsel could advise them not to answer the question. After admitting in court they took the bees, they claim they did not know what happened to them.

Honey Bee Happy Dance

(Photo credit: bob in swamp)

According to Mr. Ingram, during the court hearing, a member of the Department of Agriculture declared that a hive box that hadn’t contained bees in several years actually contained bees with the foulbrood disease. Mr. Ingram showed the court the hive box had been covered with vines, and the vines had not been removed from the hive box. No inspection had taken place of the empty hive box. You can see a full 16 minute interview with Mr. Ingram here.

Mr. Ingram thinks it is possible that the bees were turned over to the biotech giant, Monsanto for research.  It is odd that the Department of Agriculture’s practices are eerily similar to Monsanto’s practices of  searching farms for their genetically modified seeds. Which includes coming on to farmers property without notification,or search warrants, and taking samples of crops without farmers present. Monsanto has such a hold on our food supply. They continue to buy seed companies around the world. Lately, Monsanto has been under attack for the disappearance of the honey bee. Could it be that Monsanto who makes seeds that work with Round Up pesticide will now try to make bees to go with their seeds and pesticide?

Whether or not Monsanto is involved in Mr. Ingram’s case remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of oddities in this case. Beekeepers in Illinois are threatening to not register their hives as required by law for fear of what happened to Mr. Ingram. With damaging pesticides causing population of the honey bee to dwindle, intimidation of American bee farmers is not going to help revive the honey bee populace.

Questionable practices by the Department of Agriculture.

  •      Several unannounced visits to Mr. Ingram’s property.
  •      No search warrants ever presented to Mr. Ingram.
  •     Searches of beehives executed without Mr. Ingram present.
  •     Bees confiscated by Department of Agriculture without notification to Mr. Ingram.
  •     No accountability for the whereabouts of the bees.

Sources: Mercola, Global Research


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Feather Meal Fed to Chickens Contains, Antibiotics, Prozac, Tylenol, and Benadryl

Chicken, Served.

(Photo credit: DaveOnFlickr)

Grilled chicken lightly seasoned with some of your favorite fresh vegetables sounds like a nice dinner, doesn’ t it?  It may not sound so appealing once you find out  what the chicken’s diet consisted of. According to a recent study by John’s Hopkins  Bloomberg School of Public Health, feather meal that is fed to chickens (yes, feathers from other chickens fed to living chickens…gross) is contaminated with a  pharmaceutical soup that contains antibiotics known as  fluoroquinolones.

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics that used to treat serious bacterial infections in people who do not respond to first line of defense antibiotics.  29.9 billion pounds of antibiotics were consumed by livestock in 2011. …that is a LOT of antibiotics. We continue to find strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The large amount of antibiotics consumed by the livestock that we eat is the suspected reason for this. Farm animals eat the antibiotics, we eat the farm animals. Fluroquinolones we banned in the use of poultry in 2005 by the FDA, but yet those antibiotics are still showing up in feather meal.

Fluroquinolones are not the only disturbing thing found in the feather meal.

“In conducting the study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University analyzed commercially available feather meal samples, acquired from six U.S. states and China, for a suite of 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products. All 12 samples tested had between 2 and 10 antibiotic residues. In addition to antimicrobials, 7 other personal care products, including the pain reliever acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), the antihistamine diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) and the antidepressant fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac), were detected.

Researchers also found caffeine in 10 of 12 feather meal samples. “This study reveals yet another pathway of unwanted human exposure to a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” noted study co-author Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, Co-Director of the Center for Health Information & Research and Associate Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University.”

In addition to the drugs that were found, there were also several strains of E coli in the feather feed.

 Doesn’t the FDA monitor what goes into animal feed?

In a word, no. The FDA request voluntary action of testing from the industry….now, how likely is that going to happen? The FDA does not have guidelines or requirements for testing the feed. They simply trust that the feed companies will do what’s right. In the same regard, they trust biotech companies like, Monsanto, to test for safety of GMO products. No third-party involved to ensure integrity.

You can read the full report from John Hopkins here.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Purchase organic chicken
  • Purchase chicken from a local farm where you can know the person the farms your food.

Sources:  John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Honey Bees Are Not Just About Honey

Description unavailable

(Photo credit: Mike_tn)

The honey bee is responsible for 1/3 of the food we eat. These beautiful buzzing creatures pollinate many of the foods we eat such as apples, alfalfa, blueberries, cucumbers, kiwifruit, pears, plums, some citrus fruits, broccoli, onions, lettuce and a several others.

Since 2005 the honey bee has been in gradual decline all around the world. Some bee keepers are losing up to 55% of their bees each year. The normal bee loss is considered to be between 5-10% per year.  While there are debates about what is causing the decline of the honey bee, the focus has been narrowed down to the use of pesticides in crops.  In particular the use of neonicotinoids.  Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that live within the plant for the duration of the plant’s life. Bayer is a company that produces a large amount of neonicotinoid pesticides.  The chemical in neonicotinoids that has been keepers most concerned is clothianidin.

Honey bee on Dandylion

Honey bee on Dandylion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to James Frazier, PhD., professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences,

 “Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees; and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern.”

In an article for the New York Times, Eric Mussen, an apiculturist at the University of California, Davis, said analysts had documented about 150 chemical residues in pollen and wax gathered from beehives.

“Where do you start?” Dr. Mussen said. “When you have all these chemicals at a sublethal level, how do they react with each other? What are the consequences?”

Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care Systemic Pesticide

Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care

It may seem like the systemic pesticides are in the hands of big agriculture, but they can be found in our own backyards. Bayer makes this systemic pesticide for rose care. This pesticide is a systemic pesticide that is active in the roots, stems, pedals, and pollen for up to 6 weeks with one application. I used this product several years ago in my own yard. It works like a charm for keeping your roses bug free and fertilized at the same time. I have stopped using it due the concern of systemic pesticide may have on honey bees. It was only last year that I saw a bee in my back yard. It makes me wonder if the effects of these systemic products last much longer than 6 weeks.

Bee and Shadow with Sunflower

Bee and Shadow with Sunflower (Photo credit: cobalt123)

What You Can Do to Make Difference:

  • Call your state representative and ask them to ban systemic pesticides.
  • Refrain from using systemic pesticides in your own yard.
  • Use organic pesticides and fertilizers in your yard.
  • Plant flowers that are bee friendly in your yard.
  • Learn more about honey bees by watching the film, Vanishing of the Bees.

Sources: pesticide Action Network (PAN), New York Times, California Country Magazine

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Factory Farm Beef

Do you know where your beef comes from?
English: Cows

English: Cows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of our beef comes from factory farms. A factory farm is unlike a family farm.  On a factory farm, there are no roaming cows grazing on beautiful, green grass as the sunshine warms their backs, instead they are packed in massive feeding lots and spend their days standing in their own waste. On a family farm, cows eat grass, where as factory farm cows eat grain. Cows do not normally eat grain. In fact, grain has to be slowly introduced to factory farm cows. If they are fed too much grain too fast, it will cause them to die. By feeding cows grain, they are ready for slaughter a year faster than grass-fed cows. Cattle on factory farms are also injected with estrogen growth hormones to increase muscle mass and trim fat. Estrogen hormone replacement is no longer recommend for women during menopause due to cancer risk. However, the FDA seems to think its okay if we eat cows that have been injected with estrogen. Cows injected with growth hormones can have residue left on the beef that we eat. Excess estrogen hormones in our bodies are linked to possible obesity and cancer risk. In addition, cattle on feed lots are feed  sub therapeutic doses of antibiotics to try to prevent disease on the feed lots. Still, even with sub therapeutic doses of antibiotics, cattle get sick from living in crowded, manure infested conditions. Sick cattle are given more antibiotics.  Seventy percent of all antibiotics are consumed by animals in the U.S….and then we consume the animals. How can this possibly be good for us? I have my doubts about our government agencies looking out for us.

Harris Ranch feedlot in California
A downed cow with her calf

Disease and environmental pollution are a byproduct of factory farms. Over 500 million tons of manure are produced by factory farms each year . Yes, that’s right, 500 million tons of manure. These animals are standing around in an endless sea of E coli ridden manure, waiting to be slaughtered. Steak, anyone ? Open waste lagoons on factory farms are the size of several football fields. These over sized cesspools are contaminated with hormones, antibiotics and E coli. The run off from the waste lagoons on factory farms causes environmental pollution in our water ways. The main source of the E coli contamination, in the rivers and streams, is believed to come from factory farms.
Eating beef that comes from a factory farm isn’t just poor quality meat that is obtained by the mistreatment of animals, it encourages the continual assault on the environment.
What you can do to make a difference:
  •  Purchase grass-fed beef instead of conventional beef from a factory farm.
  • Consider observing meatless Monday’s, or choose other days in the week to go meatless.
  • Call your local grocer and ask them to supply your store with grass feed beef.
  • Support your local farmers market. Purchasing local food keeps money from going to factory farms.
  • Take action here with Farmland. org

* Sources: Organic Consumers Association, National Resource Defense Council, Frankensteer, Live Strong

*Factory Farm photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Factory Farming Chickens…Scrambled eggs, anyone?

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Rescued egg laying hens

Good prenatal health is important to women in order to delivery healthy babies. What are the chances of these hens laying healthy eggs?  On factory farms, hens live in cages that are the size of a folded newspaper with 4-5 hens in a cage. In these cramp quarters, there is no room to move around.  Manure infested and cramped cages lead to illness and malnutrition among hens. Illness is combated with antibiotics. 90% off all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to livestock. Over use of antibiotics can lead to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Many hens die during their factory farm life span of about two years. Hens that lay eggs that hatch male baby chick are considered of no value and they are dumped, both dead and alive, shortly after hatching.

Battery Cages

What does your egg carton label say?

Free Range– Free range chickens are not kept in cages and have some outside accessibility. The USDA does not have set guidelines or requirements as to how much time they are allowed outside, the quality of their outdoor space, or what the chickens are fed. Beak cutting is allowed, and so is forced molting by means of starvation. There is no third party auditing on free range chickens to verify their quality of living. Apparently free range applies to the chicken farmer…free range to do what you want and no third party audit to maintain integrity.
Cage Free– Hens live inside a barn or a warehouse  cage free. Beak cutting is permitted and there is no third party audit.
Free Roaming– Also known as free range.
Vegetarian Fed– This label implies that chickens were fed a diet  that does not contain animal byproducts. It gives no insight on the  living or health conditions of the chickens.
Animal Welfare Approved– This label states that chickens are raised humanely.  Chickens are raised appropriately with the ability to go inside and outside cage free at all times. No beak cutting is allowed. No forced molting by means of starvation is allowed. Third party auditing  is required to maintain integrity.
Certified Organic– Chickens are allowed to be cage free and fed an organic diet, but force molting and beak cutting are allowed. Third party auditing is required to maintain integrity.
  • What you can do to make a difference:
  • Purchase eggs from an animal friendly egg farm.
  • Contact your local grocery and request eggs that come from humane egg farms and are animal welfare approved.
  • Learn more about which egg farms produce quality eggs under humane conditions by visiting the Cornucopia Institute .
  • The Cornucopia egg score card provides a quick review on which eggs are best. Hint, Eggland’s Best is not the best.
  • Consider going vegan and not using eggs in your diet at all.
* Pictures are courtesy of Farm Sanctuary. org
*Sources: Humane Society, Mother Earth News, Farm Sanctuary, Cornucopia Institute.