Archive for October, 2009

Bill Gates reveals support for GMO ag

Found this article this week, and had seen this is the news. I find it so sad that this foundation is using their money to support big ag and not on the way to reliably and sustainably feed the worlds hungry. – Mom

As it has come to dominate the agenda for reshaping African agriculture over the years, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been very careful not to associate itself too closely with patent-protected biotechnology as a panacea for African farmers.

True, the foundation named 25-year Monsanto veteran Rob Horsch to the position of “senior program officer, focusing on improving crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Yet its flagship program for African ag, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), explicitly distances itself from GMOs. “AGRA does not fund the development of GMOs,” the organization’s Web site states.

But AGRA—co-funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, proud sponsor of the original Green Revolution—is just part of what Gates does around African ag. What precisely is the foundation getting up to over there? Is it pushing GMOs on African smallholder farms?

[I have a call into the foundation to ask directly about the role GMOs play in its efforts. I’ll report on the response.]

It has been surprisingly hard to say. Until now.

In a speech at the World Food Prize gathering last week, Bill Gates himself chided the critics of GMOs—and shed some sunshine on the foundation leadership’s philosophy on ag development. At one point, he declared, “some of our grants [in Africa] do include transgenic approaches, because we believe they have the potential to address farmers’ challenges more efficiently than conventional techniques.”

Gates’ speech seems like a significant event to me—the World Food Prize website describes it as his “first major address on agriculture.” One of the major knocks on the foundation’s Africa efforts is the lack of democratic accountability and transparency. Since the foundation’s careful message management makes it hard to figure out precisely what it’s getting up to, I’m glad to see its leading light airing his views freely.

Gates opened with a standard-issue awestruck paean to Norman Borluag, recently deceased architect of the original Green Revolution. Gates delivered a rather unnuanced assessment of Borlaug’s legacy. Gates declared: “He [Borlaug] proved that farming has the power to lift up the lives of the poor.”

Really? To be sure, Borlaug’s “dwarf” hybrid seed varieties, when coupled with the heavy fertilizer and pesticide doses they need to thrive, dramatically increased yields in the places where the Green Revolution took root—the main success story being India.

But higher yields drive down crop prices—and increased use of imported inputs requires the taking on of debt. Rather than boosting the fortunes of most farmers in its purview, the Green Revolution drove hundreds of thousands into ruin. The survivors consolidated land holdings. The big got bigger and the poor tended to leave the land—too many of them ending up as excess labor in urban slum zones.

Maybe Gates didn’t mean that Borlaug’s efforts improved the lives of farmers, but rather the lives of non-farming urban dwellers. As he later says in the speech, also in the context of Borluag’s legacy, “better farming can end hunger and poverty and lift whole countries out of poverty.”

To be sure, many people were predicting famine for India in the 1960s, and the availability of cheap grain engendered by the Green Revolution no doubt forestalled widespread starvation. But it’s demonstrably wrong to claim that the Green Revolution ended hunger and poverty in India.

Indeed, hunger rates remain appalling in India—site of the Green Revolution’s greatest putative success. From a 2008 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute:

    According to the 2008 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 66 out of 88 nations (developing countries and countries in transition). Despite years of robust economic growth, India scored worse than nearly 25 Sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh.[Emphasis added.]

The bit about India faring worse than “nearly 25 Sub-Saharan African countries” is particularly noteworthy, given that the Gates Foundation is explicitly spearheading a “new Green Revolution for Africa.” Of course, the original Green Revolution in India lies in shambles —the water table has been tapped near dry by massive irrigation projects in the zones where the Borlaug program took hold, and the remaining farmers there are struggling mightily with crushing debt loads and heightened pesticide-related cancer rates.

To be fair, Gates did point to “excesses” of the first Green Revolution, naming “too much irrigation and fertilizer” as examples. He vowed to avoid those mistakes in Africa. He insisted, more than once, that ecological sustainability was critical to the foundation’s project. Yet he repeatedly emphasized that increasing gross production—the Borlaug project of squeezing as much yield out of a piece of land as possible—was the key.

And that led him to the most fiery moment of his speech (if this dour man’s demeanor can ever be described as “fiery”): the part where he denounced unnamed “environmentalists” who are somehow blocking GMO seeds from entering Africa.

“This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two,” Gates declared. He decried what he called a “false choice” between a “technological” approach geared to boosting productivity and an “environmental” one geared to sustainability. “We can have both,” he said.

He went on: “Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment which is divorced from people and their circumstances. They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it, or what the farmers themselves might want.”

The Gates Foundation, by contrast, isn’t so demure. In an apparent reference to this project with GMO seed giant Monsanto, Gates allowed that “one of our [unnamed] private-sector partners” is working on a genetically modified drought-tolerant corn variety for African farmers. The seeds will be available to farmers royalty-free—meaning that farmers will pay market price for the seeds themselves, but not pay the hefty biotech premium Monsanto normally slaps on top. It’s unclear whether seed-saving will be allowed under the arrangement.

According to the above-linked press release, the magic seeds are expected to come online in 2018. Gates emphasized repeatedly that as climate change proceeds apace, greater and greater swaths of Africa will face persistent drought conditions. In pushing for drought-tolerant seeds, Gates is swinging for the fences—looking for a single big solution to feed Africa’s drought-stricken areas.

For me, this deal raises questions that cut to the heart of the Bill Gates approach to African ag.

First of all, it can’t be noted often enough that a) GM agriculture’s much-hyped ability to boost yields, taken as a given by Gates, has thus far proven purely spectral; b) there’s serious evidence, despite a paucity of cash for critical research and heavy-handed control of research by seed companies,  that GMOs cause health problems; and c) GMOs have so far proven quite proficient at generating unintended ecological consequences, such as the rise of “superweeds.”

There’s no room for any of that in Gates’ discourse.

Further, I absolutely agree with Bill Gates that there’s no zero-sum tradeoff between productivity and sustainability. But I urge him to tear his gaze away from the biotech lab and train it toward the field, where the best research on organic ag is being done. Indeed, one of the great benefits of organic farming is its long-term focus on soil health—and healthy soils can increase productivity over time without massive ecological externalities.

Here’s a summary of a 2005 paper published in Bioscience comparing yields of organic and conventional corn. The 22-year study compared yields of corn and soy for the following systems: 1) conventional chemical-based agriculture; 2) organic ag using manure for soil fertility; and 3) organic ag using “green manure” (nitrogen-fixing cover crops) for fertility. From the summary, here’s the key nugget of the study:

    “First and foremost, we found that corn and soybean yields were the same across the three systems,” said [researcher David] Pimentel, who noted that although organic corn yields were about one-third lower during the first four years of the study, over time the organic systems produced higher yields, especially under drought conditions. The reason was that wind and water erosion degraded the soil on the conventional farm while the soil on the organic farms steadily improved in organic matter, moisture, microbial activity and other soil quality indicators. [Emphasis added.]

Note well the “especially under drought conditions” bit. Here is a technology for “drought-tolerant” corn that’s ready right now—no need to wait until 2018. It doesn’t rely on the benevolence of Monsanto to waive a technology fee; and there are no questions about seed-saving. It asks no one to accept a drop in long-term productivity as the price paid for sustainability. And not only does it help farmers adapt to climate change with its drought-tolerant qualities, but it helps mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon. From the summary:

    The fact that organic agriculture systems also absorb and retain significant amounts of carbon in the soil has implications for global warming, Pimentel said, pointing out that soil carbon in the organic systems increased by 15 to 28 percent, the equivalent of taking about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per hectare out of the air.

Moreover, in a 2008 paper (PDF), the U.N.‘s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) endorsed organic ag as a way to boost food security and improve farmer livelihoods in Africa. Concluded the FAO:

    Organic agriculture can increase agricultural productivity and can raise incomes with low-cost, locally available and appropriate technologies, without causing environmental damage. Furthermore, evidence shows that organic agriculture can build up natural resources, strengthen communities and improve human capacity, thus improving food security by addressing many different causal factors simultaneously … Organic and near-organic agricultural methods and technologies are ideally suited for many poor, marginalized smallholder farmers in Africa, as they require minimal or no external inputs, use locally and naturally available materials to produce high-quality products, and encourage a whole systemic approach to farming that is more diverse and resistant to stress. [Emphasis added.]

Gates cash could go a long way in dispersing the skills and (relatively low-cost) equipment needed for effective organic farming in Africa. Why not, for example, fund a dramatic expansion of the Soil, Food, and Healthy Communities project that’s proving so successful in Malawi?

So where’s the Gates cash, and the fiery speech from the foundation’s leader defending organic ag from its critics? Now, it’s true that the Gates Foundation does fund research into alternative, low-input agriculture. Just this past spring, the foundation awarded $1.3 million to World Watch to study such techniques for improving ag productivity in Africa.

But let’s look at funding levels. The above-mentioned Monsanto GMO corn project got $42 million from Gates—and an additional $5 million from the Howard Buffet Foundation, run by the son of investor/insurance magnate Warren Buffet. The Worldwatch grant is loose change in comparison. (When I get a Gates official on the phone, i’ll ask about other organic-style programs they’re funding.)

Given the pro-high-technology thrust of Gates’ speech, this imbalance is hardly surprising. As I took in the video of Gates’ speech and heard him go on about the “needs of small farmers” and the critical role of biotech in serving those needs, I couldn’t help but think of him as a kind of unelected agriculture commissioner for the African continent. And I wondered how many African farms will survive the embrace of the great software magnate.


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Our Favorite Breakfast

Soaked Steel-Cut Oats

With rare exception, this is our breakfast everyday.  One of our boys is eating it too!   We set up the oats to soak in the evening and then the cereal takes only about 10 minutes to cook in the morning.  We vary our additions: raisins, prunes, mulberries, walnuts, fresh fruit – take your pick.


½ cup Organic Steel-Cut Oats

1 cup water

2 tablespoons organic, preferably homemade kefir  (you can also use whey, buttermilk, yogurt or lemon juice)

½ tsp. celtic sea salt

½ cup water

¼ cup dried fruit, chopped if larger then raisins

1 tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil

¼ cup Kefir, Buttermilk or Yogurt

The evening before, put the first three ingredients in a small pot, stir, cover and leave sitting until the next morning.

In the morning add the salt, dried fruit, and ½ cup water.

If you like your oatmeal creamy, add the salt after cooking.

Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until it’s gently boiling, then cook for five minutes more.  If we’re not going to eat it right away we turn the heat to low and let it sit covered, until we’re ready.  Just before serving stir in 1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil and ¼ cup kefir.  You can add nuts, more dried fruit, sprouted flax – anything else you like as an add in – and enjoy!

Serves 2

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Joel Salatin Farming Heavyweight

Joel Salatin, America’s farming heavyweight

Joel Salatin.

by Staff Writers

Swoope, Virginia (AFP) Oct 16, 2009

A diehard activist for some, a pioneer for others, Joel Salatin is fighting against America’s genetically-modified foods and for local subsistence farming.

Leading his crusade from the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this anti-globalization messenger who dubs himself a “Christian Libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer” has become the face of healthy eating and agriculture.

“The desire from consumers to eat this kind of food is exploding,” Salatin said at his 500-acre (200-hectare) farm in Swoope, Virginia.

Small farmers’ markets — still scarce just a few years ago — are now in full swing in the United States.

The online Farmers’ Market Directory lists 5,274 markets across the country, a 13 percent rise from 4,685 a year ago. The number has grown by nearly 4,000 nationwide since 1994.

“Nobody trusts the industrial food system to give them good food,” said Salatin, surrounded by the many cows, pigs, turkeys, rabbits and chickens he raises in methods that remain unconventional in the highly-industrialized US agricultural sector.

“The distrust is very real.”

An iconoclast who has authored several books with titles like “Everything I Want to Do is Illegal,” Salatin makes regular media appearances and now spends a third of his time at conferences.

But farming is still a family affair built over three generations on the rocky terrain of his “Polyface Farm”.


and turkeys run free here, transported in a chicken coop built on wheels to a different pasture every three days.

The 1,000 cows and 700 pigs raised for meat each year change pastures every week.

Salatin, 53, hails his “healing farming” method, where each animal plays an environmental role.

“The cows shorten the grass and the chicken eat the fly larvae and sanitize the pastures. This is a symbiotic relation,” he explained.

This natural approach to farming is just as profitable as industrial farming, Salatin insists, because he saves where big chicken and beef producers are forced to invest in structures, drugs and labor.

His customers are 400 families, about 50 restaurants and a dozen shops in the area. He also charges 800 dollars for a two-hour tour of his farm.

“Yes, the prices are higher, but it’s because all of the costs are in the price of this chicken and you are paying it here at the cash register, not paying it in sickness and disease and pollution and stink,” he explained.

But his unorthodox methods leave some thinking Salatin is a “terrorist”, he claimed, “because the new word is science-based agriculture and this is not science-based.”

Salatin’s products are not certified as organic — a booming food sector in the United States, now accounting for 3.5 percent of all food sales — because he refuses to do the necessary inspections and paperwork.

“We are beyond organic,” exclaimed Salatin, observing that government-certified organic meat products do not necessarily come from chicken and cows on pasture.

“Organic doesn’t mean what people think it means.”


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Here’s a link to one of Joel Salatin’s great book,

We Can Feed The World

I was so happy to stumble across this article a few days ago. I make home made kefir and the wonderful grains I use, I got from Edwin. I didn’t know the history of his farm. What a great inspiration! –   Mom

“We Can Feed the World,” Says Ed Shank, As He Transitions from Feedlot to Organic Raw Dairy Operation

The empty confinement area at The Family Cow farm. It’s almost eerily quiet in the huge holding area that was once the center of Edwin Shank’s confinement dairy in central Pennsylvania. In the adjoining photo, you can see the empty structure, where hundreds of cows were once kept 24/7.

The action is now several hundred yards away, out in the pasture, where 275 cows grazed on Saturday afternoon, and the main sound was that of orchard grass, blue grass, rye grass, and clover being ripped and chomped by the hungry animals. The other sound was the uneven melody of about 1,000 broiler chickens and laying hens grazing in an adjoining pasture.

It’s been nearly four years since Ed Shank made the decision to end years of running a confinement operation as the fourth generation owner of The Family Cow farm, and transitioned to an organic system, modeled heavily on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, and Mark McAfee’s Organic Pastures Dairy Co. Since it takes three years to transition from a conventional to an organic system in any event, it’s only been in the last year that The Family Cow farm has been able to sell its raw milk, eggs, beef, and chicken as organic products.

In the process of making the transition, Edwin Shank is seeking to disprove the arguments of both agriculture experts and some raw milk advocates that conventional dairies shouldn’t even attempt to become sellers of raw milk, not to mention grass-fed beef and pastured chicken. “The dairy inspectors always told us, ‘If you do raw milk, you’ll be okay, but your customers won’t. Of course, that hasn’t happened.”

I’ve long argued that state ag departments, which are supposed to be in the business of promoting agriculture and farm viability, should help dairies out of the downward-spiraling conventional dairy business, and educate farmers who are interested in how to safely make the kind of transition Ed Shank is making, together with his wife, Dawn, and six children.

As he took me on a whirlwind tour of his operation just off I-81, with its 120 acres of pasture, small farm store, and airy home, Ed made the point a few times that he’s a poster boy for the viability of such transitions. As enthusiastic as he is, he cautions that it’s not a simple proposition. “It’s never going to work for the farmer who maintains his old mindset. He has to read. He has to get past the idea that production, production, production is important. He has to change his mentality.” Ed Shank holds a chicken, as cows graze on an adjoining pasture.

Farmers who approach such a transition only from the vantage point of increasing their profits “shouldn’t try to make the change. Raw milk in a confinement setting won’t work.”

But for those farmers willing to change their way of thinking about farming—from one of maximizing productivity to one of creating an ecologically sustainable system—“this is a model that is so repeatable,” says Ed. “We can feed the world.”

Part of his enthusiasm stems from the contrast with his feedlot operation, which involved hauling in feed for the cows, and hauling out their manure. The new sustainable system involves moving the cows from one pasture to another in line with growing grasses. The chickens follow the cows, and spread their manure around, as well as reduce the population of flies and other bugs. “This green grass is a solar panel,” says Ed, looking over his cows. “The cow is the harvester. She is powered by solar energy… The harvesting and hauling of feed is done by the cows and the hauling of manure is done by the cows.”

Another part of his enthusiasm stems from the changed nature of his interaction with customers. “You have these families that are thrilled that we are producing food for them,” he says. “Before, I sold to a dairy co-op. Now I sell to a mom and dad and children coop. Those co-ops say sometimes, ‘We pray for you.’ I don’t think the big co-ops ever prayed for me.” Not only that, “We’re glad the cows have a nicer life.”

The entrance to The Family Cow farm. So far, The Family Cow is selling its products both through its farm store and through groups of consumers placing orders via email. With 275 milking cows, Ed Shank has instantaneously become the largest raw dairy operation in the East.

He is extremely grateful for the outside assistance he’s received. “I can’t say thanks enough to Mark McAfee and Joel Salatin and the Weston A. Price Foundation for their help and for preparing people’s minds where they are ready for this sort of thing. It’s been a liberating experience for us.”


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Fight the Flu with Real Food

By Stanley A. Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat

The flu, especially H1N1, is big news today. The words “Swine Flu” invoke fear and even panic.

The general focus on dealing with the flu is with vaccines and drugs. However, your body’s first line of defense against the flu, real food, is all but ignored.

Hippocrates of Cos is perhaps the most famous physician of all time. He is known as the father of medicine. He wrote the Hippocratic Oath, which used to be taken by all doctors. He is famous for his dictum, “First, do no harm.” What is not so well known is that Hippocrates advocated using food and other natural methods first, before anything else was tried. Drugs would only be used if the more natural methods failed, and surgery was used only as the last resort.

I have followed Hippocrates’ advice, and it has worked very well for me, my family, and others.

The First Line of Defense—Broth

Traditional peoples knew which foods could heal and prevent many illnesses. This knowledge was gained by observation, sometimes over thousands of years.

After much research, I have combined a number of these traditional healing foods into one broth. I call this Quadruple Healing Broth. We have found this broth to be a cold-buster and a flu-stopper.

Chicken soup is one of the most famous home remedies for colds and the flu. Recent studies have found that chicken soup has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities. The nutrients in a good chicken soup will strengthen your immune system, giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal itself.

Onions were prized by the ancient Egyptians, the ancient (and contemporary) Indians, and many other peoples for their healing qualities.

Green onions were valued by the Chinese, who often ate them daily and used them to treat colds and the flu.

Leeks were also used by the ancient Egyptians for healing all sorts of ailments, and were so loved by the Welsh that leeks became a symbol of Wales, signifying pride, strength, and health.

Garlic was used for healing by the ancient Egyptians, the Indians, the Chinese, and many other peoples. Garlic has many anti–inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and immune-boosting qualities.

However, it must be understood that all foods used for healing by traditional peoples were organic and were not GMO. Modern factory versions of these foods are very different and just will not work. The chicken soup was always made from scratch. You cannot pour health-giving nutrients out of a can, or extract them from a bouillon cube.

Quadruple Healing Broth is the cornerstone of our Hippocratic first line of defense. At the first sign of a cold or flu, we sip plenty of this broth, hot, not scalding. Usually, a few cups of this broth (sometimes only one or two), is enough to stop the cold or flu in its tracks.

However, sometimes you cannot sip broth because you are throwing up or coughing. This led me to develop two food-based remedies, one for vomiting and one for coughing. I came up with both of these after researching a large number of Ayurvedic remedies, and trying a few combinations.

Food-Based Vomiting Remedy

You will need the following ingredients:

1 organic onion, peeled

1 (2-inch) piece of organic fresh ginger, peeled, sliced, and crushed

Pure filtered water, (reverse osmosis water is best, but distilled water will also work)

1.Make ginger tea. Place the ginger in a small pan with two cups of filtered water, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for ten minutes. Remove from the heat.

2.Grate the onion into a bowl, using a hand grater. Place the grated onion in a clean, chemical-free cloth (cheese cloth works fine), and squeeze the cloth-covered onion over a bowl until no more juice drips through the cloth. You should have a tablespoon or so of juice in the bowl. Immediately place the juice in a small cup (like a shot glass), and have the sick person swallow it all at once. It goes down easier if the swallower holds their nose shut with the other hand.

This should stop the vomiting immediately.

The onion juice should be made just before using. It should be taken immediately after being made, and should not sit in a bowl.

3.10 minutes after the onion juice is taken, one tablespoon of strained ginger tea should be taken.

4.Every 15 minutes for the next hour, take one tablespoon of strained ginger tea. This will help rehydrate the body and prevent further vomiting.

5.After this hour, small sips of broth can be tried.

If vomiting reoccurs, the whole remedy should be repeated. Usually, this will not be necessary.

Recently, a teenage boy who had the swine flu was vomiting every few minutes. He stopped vomiting after he swallowed the onion juice. Several hours later he gulped down a cold drink and threw up once. He took the remedy once more and never vomited again. The next day he was almost completely well.

Food-Based Coughing Remedy

You will need the following ingredients:

Organic turmeric

Organic raw honey

This remedy could not be easier. You mix one-quarter teaspoon of organic turmeric with one teaspoon of the honey, then swallow it. It should provide immediate relief from any cough. You can repeat this every four hours, as needed.

Recently, a woman with severe immune problems caught the swine flu. She was treated with Tamiflu, but developed a constant, horrible wracking cough that was so bad she could not sleep. The cough medicine prescribed by her doctor did not help. She had tried the remedy using non-organic turmeric, and it did not help. I convinced her husband to get organic turmeric. She took the remedy again, and her cough was reduced to a very mild, occasional cough, and she was able to sleep. She never had a bad cough again. She went on to make a full recovery from the swine flu.

The Second Line of Defense—Supplements

What does a family do on the rare occasion that the broth does not kill the flu? We use a product created by Doctor Mayer Eisenstein of Homefirst Health Services. This product consists of vitamin D3 with probiotics. The web address for this product is as follows:

Doctor Eisenstein, a true Hippocratic physician, explains how to use the product at the bottom of the page.

This product, taken with the broth, has never failed us.

The Third Line of Defense—The Doctor

This would be to go to a doctor. Hopefully, a doctor who listens to his or her patients, is open to alternative remedies, and is much more than a pill pusher. I have not had to go to the third line of defense for over five years.

Real food has enabled me and my family to defeat colds and the flu for years. Unlike drugs, the only side effect is that real food improves your general health and immune system.

The following recipe for Quadruple Healing Broth is taken from my cookbook, Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat.

Quadruple Healing Broth

Makes 6 to 8 quarts

4 to 6 pounds assorted free range chicken parts and bones, such as wing tips, backs, necks, carcasses from a roast chicken, legs, wings, etc.

Enough filtered water to cover the bones by 2 to 3 inches

½ cup organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Assorted Root Vegetables

1 large organic leek, carefully washed, and chopped

1 large or 2 medium organic onions, peeled and chopped

1 bunch organic green onions, roots trimmed off, chopped

1 bulb of organic garlic, peeled and slightly crushed

For Simmering

Several chicken giblets

½ bunch organic Italian parsley, including stems, each stalk cut in half

2 tablespoons coarse unrefined sea salt

1.Peeling and crushing a whole bulb of garlic may seem like a lot of work. It is actually quite easy with the proper technique. You need a heavy cleaver or rolling pin. Separate the garlic cloves out of the bulb. Place the clove on a wooden cutting board, and press down hard on it with a rolling pin, or the flat of a cleaver. The clove will crack, and the skin will pop off easily. You may need to make one small cut at the root end of the clove to remove the remaining skin.

2.Put the bones and scraps of meat in the pot, except for the giblets. Add the water and the vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

3.Add all the vegetables. Heat the pot until the water begins a strong simmer. This will take a while due to the large volume of ingredients and water.

4.When the water is close to boiling, remove all the scum that rises to the top with a skimming spoon. This can also take a while, but is necessary.

5.Once the scum is gone, add the giblets, parsley, and the salt.

6.Cover and simmer gently for 12 to 14 hours.

7.Using a ladle, strain into jars, cover, and refrigerate once the bottles have cooled down. The fat will rise to the top, and will solidify in the refrigerator. This fat cap will help preserve the broth. The fat should be removed before the broth is reheated.

I am not a doctor, and the above is not intended to be medical advice. Quadruple Healing Broth is a food, not a medicine. By all means, see a doctor if you want medical advice. The above is just a description of how some families deal with colds and the flu.

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Here’s a link for Stanley’s cookbook. It’s a wonderful book and I highly recommend it! – Mom

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love vanilla extract and like to use organic, but it’s really expensive, so I decided to make my own.  It was surprisingly easy.  Split the bean and put them in a jar – I used a half-gallon mason jar but you could also use a quart – pour over the vodka and let it sit for around 2 month in your cupboard, shaking occasionally.

As I ended up making a half-gallon of extract, I bought a supply of 2 and 4 oz jars and made pretty labels so I could give them away as gifts. I think next time I’ll get some 8oz jars too.  When the extract was all decanted into the jars, I scraped the inside of the leftover beans and saved all those bits of vanilla in a little jar as Vanilla Paste. You can use that interchangeably with vanilla but you’ll get all the nice little bits, which is especially nice for ice cream. In the picture the jar on the left has the paste, and the left over beans and vanilla are in the jar on the right. I ran out of bottles.  Also I put one of the beans, or half a bean for the smaller bottles in with the vanilla. I think they look pretty and will keep the flavor up.

I bought my vanilla beans at

I got ¼ of a pound, which they say gives you 30-35 beans for $32 dollars, which is a great price for organic vanilla beans. They were very fresh and now I have some left over for other recipes too.  Oh, and I bought my vodka at Trader Joe’s, their brand, a big bottle for $10.00. I would try to find organic vodka next time, but I couldn’t find any for this recipe. I just now found it on the web for $12 for a 750ml bottle, not bad! 

Considering that organic vanilla can run you from $6 – $12 dollars for a two ounce bottle, with this recipe you can make it yourself for around $1.30 per two ounce bottle. That’s a big difference.


8 cups Vodka

24 vanilla beans

You can quarter this recipe and use a quart jar if you’d like, then you’d only need 6 vanilla beans.

Cut the vanilla beans, the long way, from the bottom (the top has a little stem) all the way up to the last inch and stop there. That way the bean is almost split into two but it stays intact at the stem.

Put the split beans into your jar, and cover with vodka.  You can push the bean down so they’re totally covered and then fill the jar almost to the top.  Put the lid on and put it into a dark cupboard.  You can shake it every few days or not. I shook mine just a few times over the eight weeks.  I also wrote the date on the top of the jar, on a sticky note, so I’d remember when it was eight weeks.

After the eight weeks is up, you can flavor it if you like.  You can use a little simple sugar syrup or a little dark rum, 1 tsp. per cup of vodka.  I used the rum.

I made the labels using Avery 2×4 inch labels and thought they came out really pretty. These will make great holiday gifts, plus we’ll have lots of vanilla for ourselves for a long while too.  Enjoy!

See  more great gift ideas at the Handmade Gift Carnival here:

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Homeopathic Remedies for Flu

Ten Homeopathic Remedies to Use during the Flu Season and Swine Flu Epidemic of 2009

We’ve used homeopathy, successfully with our kids and ourselves for many years. Here’s a great article on flu remedies.  You should be able to find them at any health food store. For more information about homeopathy, visit Melanie’s site, listed below, is a great resource also.  Mom

by Melanie Grimes, citizen journalist

Homeopathy has been very successful in treating the symptoms of flu and the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 has been no exception. Homeopaths gather symptoms from a large population and discern what is called a “genus epidemicus”. The genus is the remedy, or group of remedies, with the symptoms of most people who have a particular flu. These remedies are therefore the most likely remedies to treat a particular flu strain.

The Swine Flu showed the typical symptoms of a regular flu with the exception of high fever and chills. As for the genus epidemicus of this flu, there are a few variations of this flu, so a few remedies have been required. This is much the same as in the Flu Epidemic of 1918 when two remedies were used to great advantage and a near 100% survival rate. The remedies mostly used in that flu were Bryonia and Gelsemium.

Remedies that homeopaths have found useful in treating this 2009 flu season include:

1. Ferrum Phos is always a good remedy to use in the first stages of flu. Ferrum phos can be taken in the 30c potency. Even the 6x potency, sold as a tissue salt, can stop a flu in its tracks. Ferrum phos can be alternated with Natrum Sulf during the first days of the flu.

2.Dulcamara is useful at the onset of a high fever. The Dulcamara cough hurts from muscular soreness. This flu is frequently brought on by cold, damp weather.

3. Nux vomica treats a flu with chills and pains in bones and joints. The irritability and chills are very marked.

4. Gelsemium treats a low fever, and is also a good remedy if you have not been well since the flu. Gelsemium patients experience weakness with shivering.

5. Arsenicum treats a burning fever that is accompanied with chills, restlessness and anxiety. The person needing Arsenicum is usually thirsty but only drinks small quantities at a time. They can have burning pains.

6. Bryonia is good for type of flu when the person does not want to move. The mouth is dry but they are thirsty.

7. Rhus tox flu can be accompanied with aching bones, restlessness, and a red tipped tongue. This is another remedy that is useful when the flu is brought on by damp weather.

8. Belladonna treats a high fever that comes on suddenly. Other accompanying symptoms of Belladonna include heat and redness.

9. Eupatorium perfoliatum experiences severe bone pains with great thirst.

10. Baptisia is a good remedy for flu, especially if it’s centered in the gastro-intestinal track. This remedy can be helpful in the early stages of the flu. The person needing Baptisia can be weak, listless, and feel sore.

The above remedies cover the general conditions and treat the flu symptoms that most have experienced so far. Try these homeopathic remedies to help speed your recovery during the flu season of 2009.

Originally published May 15 2009

About the author

Melanie Grimes is a writer, screenwriter, journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University.She has written an eBook on natural treatments for the flu, available at her blog.

A trained homeopath, she also raises alpacas and is an avid spinner. She is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, has been a medical editor for 15 years, won awards as a screenwriter, taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA ( and authored medical textbooks.

Follow her blog, and get her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at:

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Millions Against Monsanto Campaign

Join Organic Consumers Associations campaign to mobilize one million consumers to end Monsanto’s Global Corporate Terrorism.

Below are just a few reasons to join OCA’s campaign:

Multi-Billion $$ Monsanto Sues

More Small Family Farmers

Percy Schmeiser is a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn’t matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto’s genetically engineered products). According to Schmeiser, “I never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying chemicals. I never signed a contract.

canola field and tractorIf I would go to St. Louis (Monsanto Headquarters) and contaminate their plots – destroy what they have worked on for 40 years – I think I would be put in jail and the key thrown away.”

Rodney Nelson’s family farm is being forced into a similar lawsuit by Monsanto.

Support Schmeiser, Nelson and hundreds of other farmers who are being forced to pay Monsanto to have their fields contaminated by genetically modified organisms.

Sign OCA’s “Millions Against Monsanto” petition. These petitions will be physically delivered to Monsanto and related court hearings.

Monsanto Brings Small Family Dairy to Court

Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine family since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of business. Oakhurst, like many other dairy producers in the U.S., has been responding to consumer demand to provide milk free of rBGH, a synthetic hormone banned (for health reasons) in every industrialized country other than the U.S. Oakhurst Dairy

Monsanto, the number one producer of the rBGH synthetic steroid, sued Oakhurst, claiming they should not have the right to inform their customers that their dairy products do not contain the Monsanto chemical. Given the intense pressure from the transnational corporation, Oakhurst was forced to settle out of court, leaving many other dairies vulnerable to similar attacks from Monsanto.

Monsanto Hid PCB Pollution for Decades

Anniston, Alabama CitizensANNISTON, Ala. — On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn’t know their dirt and yards and bass and kids — along with the acrid air they breathed — were all contaminated with toxic chemicals. They didn’t know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.

Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents — many emblazoned with warnings such as “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy” — show that for decades, the corporate-giant concealed what it did and what it knew… (Read more…)

Monsanto’s Agent Orange: The Corporation Continues to Refuse Compensation to Veterans and Families for Exposure to the Toxic ChemicalChild at Vietnam War Memorial

The negative health effects, due to exposure to Monsanto’s Agent Orange, have been well documented over the past three decades. The dioxin in Agent Orange has been accepted internationally as one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, causing everything from severe birth defects, to cancer, to neurological disorders, to death. But Monsanto has successfully blocked any major movement towards compensating veterans and civilians who were exposed to the company’s Agent Orange.

Long before Agent Orange was used as a herbicide in the Vietnam war, Monsanto knew of its negative health impacts on humans. Since then, Monsanto has been unsuccessful at covering its tracks and has even been convicted of fabricating false research documentation that claims Agent Orange has no negative health effects, other than a possible skin rash. Thanks to Monsanto’s influence, the Center for Disease Control also released a report claiming veterans were never exposed to harmful levels of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange VictimAs a note, from 1962 to 1970, the US military sprayed 72 million liters of herbicides, mostly Agent Orange, on over one million Vietnamese civilians and over 100,000 U.S. troops. As a result, within ten years of the close of the war, 9170 veterans had filed claims for disabilities caused by Agent Orange. The VA denied compensation to 7709, saying that a facial rash was the only disease associated with exposure.

In 2002, Vietnam requested assistance in dealing with the tens of thousands of birth defects due to Agent Orange. In order to avoid medical compensation expenses, Monsanto continues to claim this now banned chemical is not toxic. (Read more..)

Taxpayers Forced to Fund Monsanto’s Poisoning of Third World

Monsanto has also been implicated in the indiscriminate sale and use of RoundUp Ultra in the anti-drug fumigation efforts of Plan Colombia. Of the some $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money earmarked for Plan Colombia, Monsanto has received upwards of $25 million for providing RoundUp Ultra.

Damaged Banana CropsRoundUp Ultra is a highly concentrated version of Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide, with additional surfactants to increases its lethality. Local communities and human rights organizations charge that Ultra is destroying food crops, water sources and protected areas in the Andes, primarily Colombia.

Paradoxically, the use of RoundUp Ultra has actually increased coca cultivation in the Andes. As local farming communities are increasingly impacted by RoundUp Ultra fumigations, many turn to the drug trade as a means of economic survival. Regional NGOs have estimated that almost 200,000 hectares have been fumigated with Ultra under Plan Colombia.

Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Killing Wheat

Monsanto also produces the most commonly used broadleaf pesticide in the world, glyphosate–or Roundup. In addition to its inherent toxicity as a chemical pesticide, Roundup has now been found to aid the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat. This disease creates a toxin in the infected wheat, making the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Canada’s wheat industry is currently being ravaged by this disease. At the same time, the widespread use of Roundup has resulted in the formation of “super weeds” — unwanted plants that have developed an immunity to these pesticides. Read study linking Monsanto’s Roundup to Cancer.

Monsanto Takes Ownership of Public Water Resources

Polluted Farm Water

Over the past century, global water supplies have been contaminated with the full gamut of Monsanto’s chemicals, including PCBs, dioxin and glyophosate (Roundup). So now the company, seeing a profitable market niche, is taking control of the public water resources they polluted, filtering it, and selling it back to the people. In short, Monsanto is making a double profit by polluting the world’s scarce freshwater resources, privately taking ownership of that water, filtering it, and selling it back to those who can afford to pay for it.

Monsanto’s GE Seeds are Pushing US Agriculture into Bankruptcy

Genetically engineered crops are causing an economic disaster for farmers in the U.S. So says a new report released by Britain’s Soil Association. The report is a massive compilation of data showing GE crops have cost American taxpayers $12 billion in farm subsidies in the past three years. “Within a few years of the introduction of GM crops, almost the entire $300 million annual US maize exports to the EU had disappeared, and the US share of the soya market had decreased,” the report said. In addition, the study says that GE crops have lead to an increased use of pesticides, while resulting in overall lower crop yields.  Read more here:

Cotton Farmers Going Bankrupt from Monsanto’s GE Cotton

In India the financial figures for the recent cotton growing season have finally been crunched. Indian Cotton FarmersiaAlthough Monsanto convinced many of India’s farmers that buying the more expensive GE cotton seeds would result in higher yields and better cotton, the reverse is actually true. Crop yields for GE cotton were 5 TIMES LESS than traditional Indian cotton and the income from GE cotton was 7 TIMES LESS than conventional cotton, due to Monsanto’s cotton having lower quality short fibers. As a result of the insurmountable deluge of debt accrued from paying more for the GE seeds and having a weak crop, more than 100 Indian farmers committed suicide in the last year. Read more here,

Join Organic Consumers Association, Millions Against Monsanto campaign here,

There are a lot of great action alerts on the page to sign as well.

Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

I found this recipe on the Sprout People website:  We used organic extra virgin coconut oil, for the oil, which worked great. You could also use butter.

We’ve bought some terrific sprout mixes from them, including Amber Waves of Grain (a mix that contains: wheat, barley, rye spelt, triticale, oats, kamut, sesame, millet, amaranth & quinoa) – which we used to make this bread. It’s a great recipe and was a big hit with the teenagers.  Our three loaves were gone in three days!

You can use any grain to sprout, the Amber Waves of Grain mix, Wheat, Rye, Kamut, Quinoa, Spelt, Triticale, etc.   Start sprouting your grain 2-3 days ahead so it’s ready for when you want to make your bread.  I started sprouting the grain Friday morning and we made the bread on Sunday. I also used all whole-wheat flour, that I ground from spring wheat, right before we made the bread. Oh, and I made it in my mixer, which worked great. We only did a few minutes of hand kneading when we put it out on the lightly floured surface.

Combine in a large bowl:

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 scant Tbs. active dry yeast

Allow the yeast to proof (bubble) for 5 minutes

Stir in:

½  cup extra virgin coconut oil

½  cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 Cups Sprouted Grains – we ground them up in the food processor – you can use them whole if you’d like too.

4 cups flour – any combination of wheat, rye and white you like

Mix well.

Cover and let this “sponge” sit 45-60 minutes.

Stir down and gradually add:

3-4 cups flour -any combination

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

Place dough into a greased bowl – turn it over and around to coat the whole of the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled (60-90 minutes).

Knead dough down in the bowl, divide and shape into 2 – 3 oblong loaves. Place in well-greased loaf pans and cover.

Let rise 60 minutes or until almost doubled.

Bake at 375º for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 – 3 loaves.  Enjoy!

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