Know What's in Your Food

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


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The Bees Are Back!

Honey bee on Sedum autumn joy (Hylotelephium t...

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A few years ago I had the most beautiful roses in my neighborhood. I consistently used a product called Bayer All In One Advanced Rose Care. In addition to that, I had used Tru Green Chem Lawn for my yard and I had a local pest control company come and spray my yard and the outside of my house on a regular basis. I learned how systemic pesticides such as Bayer All In One Advanced Rose Care can harm honey bees. You can read my blog post about that by clicking here.  To the shock of my neighbors I cut down my roses and I stopped using the Bayer product, but I kept using the lawn and pest control companies. I had not seen a bee in my yard since I started using the Bayer product. About three years later, my dog Paulie became very ill. His ideal weight is 15lbs and he got down to about 8 lbs.  He had severe gastrointestinal issues. I took him to the vet. The vet was concerned that he had cancer or something else that was terminal.  I would have to pay $3,000.00 for the testing to find out. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of money. The vet told me that even if it were cancer, there was nothing he could do. For the next 11 months he was so sick, I really didn’t know if he would be alive the next morning when I woke up. I had taken several times to the vet. We had tried different foods, diets, and B-12 shot to stimulate his appetite, but nothing seemed to work. He wasted away and his hair began to fall out. Then, something changed, he started to slowly put back on weight and his energy increased.  During this year period, I stopped using the lawn and pest company. I didn’t know what was wrong with Paulie, but I am glad he was recovering. I started wracking my brain to try to think of what could have caused his illness. I have two other dogs that were perfectly fine during this time. All three live in the same house, all three stay in the same fenced in back yard, and they all three eat the same food. But there is one thing that Paulie does do that my other two fur kids don’t do…. he loves to chew on sticks. We don’t have too many sticks that are in our yard, but if he finds one he loves to gnaw on it. I can’t prove, but I am convinced, that Paulie ate a stick that was contaminated with some toxin from the companies and products I was using in our backyard. 

Paulie

Paulie is 14 years old, but he still looks great. He is curious, smart and has lots of energy. I had a hard time thinking that all the junk that was putting in my yard to make it look good was really poisoning the bees and my beloved fur kids. It has been 6 years since I stopped using the Bayor product and 3 years since I stopped the lawn and pest companies. This morning I came out to find, for the first time in 6 years, these buzzing little beauties.

bees on flower

Just a few weeks ago, I started a worm farm and a compost bin in my back yard. Both are doing well. My husband, as I write, is putting cornmeal gluten on the lawn to control the weeds. I have been taking small steps every year to improve our environment and the food we eat.  I am so happy to see the bees return  to my yard. It lets know that my yard is healthy. I took this photo with my cell phone. It is hard to see the bee, but he is there. His wings are blurry from buzzing. If I had my better camera it would have turned out much better, but I am sharing anyways because I am excited.


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Honey Bees Are Not Just About Honey

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(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