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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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