Friday, October 12, 2007

About World Food Day October 16-2007

Not sure if you are aware of this, but World Food Day is October 16, 2007. Here's what's being planned over in Europe and other parts of the world;
The FAO is flagging events taking place around the world to mark World Food Day next week, with more than 150 countries organising events around the theme The Right to Food. (further details here)
Here at home in the USA, there will be a teleconference broadcast live from Washington, DC, carried by DISH Network by tape-delayed basis.

Here is a snippet of the theme/focus the USA will be presenting:
The links between climate change, hunger and poverty will be the focus of the 2007 teleconference.

Three international leaders -- Suzanne Hunt, independent consultant, currently dividing her time among the Natural Resources Devense Council and the Global Bioenergy Partnership, Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Research Scientist and Leader of the Climate Impacts Group at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and founder and editor of the Interdisciplinary journal, "Climate Change", -- will discuss the many crosscutting issues of global climate change and the potentially disastrous consequences, especially for millions of poor and chronically undernourished people.

The overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists are convinced that the looming crisis is caused primarily by "humankind's activities" and will require immediate and farsighted action by all nations, rich and poor.

In addition to the guest panelists there will be a live uplink from the World Food Prize ceremonies and cameo comments from other experts.
Visit for further details, plus links to handouts and more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The High Cost of Low Price

By now, a lot of people the world over have seen the movie, "WALMART: The High Cost of Low Price" so I won't go into all the details here.

A lot of people are saying, and I humbly agree, that even Sam Walton would be disappointed to see what has become of retail stores across America -- including Wal-Mart.

Think about this a moment you stroll down the aisles in any retail superstore these days, how many items can you find that are Made In The USA?

As if 21.7 million pounds of burger being recalled were not enough to shake things up, the ongoing recalls from "that other" corner on supply are pushing the threat level to public health significantly higher. Even Boy Scout badges are being recalled, for heaven's sake! (see this story - Scouts Not Prepared for Lead Badges)

Meanwhile, legislation right here at home seems to be bent on lining the pockets of the profiteers ...and to heck with public health and safety altogether... or at least, that's how it appears to me.

The manure bill designed (IMHO) to protect large industrial farms is bad enough, but did you see the mercury thing? (learn more here)

And just wait till you find out what's going on with almonds. The new pasteurization laws put in place have more than a few people upset. I'll quote William Campbell Douglass II, M.D. on that story as follows:
But perhaps the biggest hit will be taken by the smaller almond operations. Truth be told, even though all of the problems originated with the biggest almond industries, this little piece of legislation could spell the end of the line for organic and small-time almond operations. The minimum cost of the pasteurization equipment is $500,000 - a hefty price that not many smaller businesses can afford. Shipping the almonds off to be pasteurized has its own road bumps, not the least of which includes higher prices tied up in transportation costs.

This is an awful lot of fuss, especially considering the fact that nuts are not likely to pose a threat in and of themselves. It's when manure or other fecal matter gets transferred to the crops that contamination can occur. A better solution is one that would regulate the manmade carelessness that's the source of all these problems to begin with. But with today's Band-aid mentality, the likelihood of that happening is almost nil.
Yeah, there's that "perfectly safe manure (NOT)" sliding it's way through our food supply again.

By the way, in case you didn't know it, propylene oxide has been banned in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. The pasteurization method the FDA is recommending requires the use of propylene oxide.

It's a recognized carcinogen. A pollution information site called Scorecard says that propylene oxide is in the top 10 percent of compounds that are hazardous to human health and to the ecosystem. In six out of twelve ranking systems, it's ranked as one of the most hazardous chemicals.

Meanwhile the Big AG groups get richer, and the rest...?

As a quick aside, if this source is correct, did you know that the top 1 per cent of Americans now accounted for 22 per cent of national wealth, compared with 9 per cent in 1970?

Go figure!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hamburger Class I Recall - Health Risk: High

It began on Sept. 25, 2007 with a recall of 335,000 pounds of ground beef...

-- BUT --

On Sept. 29, 2007, following "an additional positive product sample reported by the New York Health Department, reported illnesses and findings from a food safety assessment conducted by FSIS at the establishment"

...the recall was expanded to include...

21,700,000 pounds of ground beef!

Yep. You read right. That's 21.7 million pounds!!

And of course, the culprit is -- AGAIN -- E. coli O157:H7

According to USDA/FSIS:
There are currently 25 illnesses under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. An investigation carried out by the New York Department of Health in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preceded the recall of Sept. 25.
One blogger writes:
E. Coli meat contamination is the result of cow sh** in your meat. Or steer sh** in your meat. Or calf sh** in your meat.
Ummm... I provided the **s for those who might be offended by the word sh**

If you have a strong stomach that can handle sh**, and you're really curious as to how so much sh** can get into so much burger, you really want to read a little history about HACCP and HIMP to find out "who pushed food safety over the cliff." Here's the link.

Don't Let Your Dingell Dangle in the dirt...

Now, if a little bit of sh** happens to splatter on some burger and people get excited enough to recall 21.7 million pounds of the stuff -- why is it ok to dump millions (or billions) of gallons of sh** all over the land?

You gotta wonder what's got into the heads of this powerful group of lobbyists pushing to make sure they aren't liable for any of their sh** ...

I'm talking about this story...

The AFBS -- oops, I mean AFBF (not) -- has joined forces with the likes of Land O' Lakes, National Chicken Council and Tyson to name a few, plus a new group calling themselves -- get this -- Farmers for Clean Air & Water Inc. -- now there's a crock of... oops, my bad.

Anyhoo... the groups above are lobbying for a Dingell (et al) bill to be pushed quickly through that takes manure (the polite word for sh**) out of the Superfund, essentially meaning they can dump their sh** without being held responsible for cleaning up the mess if/should something go wrong.

So if you happen to live downstream from a factory farm, guess what? You gotta rely on taxpayers to clean up any mess if something particularly nasty happens as a result of the farm, since the farm itself can't/won't be held accountable -- if this thing goes through.

All This For Cheap Meat?

You know, I get sooooooo tired of hearing how factory farming is so much more efficient in bringing us cheap meat (and eggs, and dairy, etc.). Cheap for the producers, maybe -- but for the taxpayers and the consumers?

Think about it...

The LA Times reported:
In the first nine months of 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced 60 recalls totaling nearly 30 million pounds of meat.
And now here we have 21.7 million in just a single recall. Add up all the other tons and tons of recalls that have been happening just over the past 24 months. I don't care how you slice it, that's not what I would call efficient by any stretch.

By the way, did you know this...?

"21.7 million pounds of ground beef just happens to be an entire year’s worth of production." According to Dr. Kirk James Murphy, M.D. If you have the stomach for it, you really gotta read his blog on this subject!

If you read through his entire article and the links leading from it, you'll soon realize that buying meat to eat these days is a total crap shoot (pun intended).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Udderly Insane?

Have you herd (pun intended) the latest news on mastitis?

What Is Bovine Mastitis?

For those who don't know what bovine mastitis is...

In dairy cows, bovine mastitis is a common bacterial disease of the mammary that causes the udder to be painful and swollen. It has been associated with overproduction of milk. Cows that are injected with rBGH are believed to be prone to mastitis.

Even so, here in the USA, many scientists believe... "The gram negative bacterium, Escherichia coli is responsible for most cases of bovine mastitis in North America."

Yes... there's that ugly E. Coli bacterium popping up again.

By now, just about everyone has heard about some strains or versions of it; particularly since it's been popping up so frequently in our food supply in recent years.

But with regards to bovine mastitis, here's something you might not have heard about:
The USDA is promoting a potentially disastrous strategy for controlling mastitis in cows that could enhance a host of other diseases and create new disease agents. Prof. Joe Cummins (link)
To fight E. coli mastitis in dairy cows, the USDA/ARS's mad scientists have been feverishly at work adultering tobacco plants to produce a CHEAP new protein (called CD14) which they say can reduce the severity of mastitis.

So, in addition to that massive tax slam on cigarette taxes, after reading the brief article at this link, we have one more reason to quit.

What else might be affected besides tobacco?

We-ell... it kinda makes you wonder if this delightful little protein has been added to your milk in recent years, doesn't it? You'll understand why after reading the article.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nothing Changes Until Something Changes

I get this awesome weekly newsletter that is a great success motivator. This week the subject was about change.
Nothing will change until something changes. What steps or changes will move you forward this week? What must you read or learn? What must you do, or stop doing? ...
After watching Ken Burns' new film about World War II, the writer went on to share a personal message;
I do not know the answer to terrorism or hate, but the horrors of war know no bounds. In this time of tension, let us pray that we might live together in peace and mutual respect.

In your community or corner of the world, reach out to your neighbors. Make your contribution. Share your life, your hope and your bounty. The future of our small planet depends upon it.
Now, after hearing rhumors about at least 2 small farms that the CAFOs moving into our area either tried to deceive and/or intimidate, I'm wondering how many more are out there -- silent -- afraid to speak up?

The first farm I heard about late last fall, the other farm I just heard about yesterday... even though the incidents happened quite some time ago.

Interestingly enough -- both implicated the Fair Oaks group of farms.

I'm wondering, how many more small farms (or residents) in the Jasper/Newton county areas have been deceived and/or received threats/intimidation from that group? Just curious (for now)...