Archive for May, 2011

Cute Coop ideas

We’ve had backyard chickens for two years now. It’s been so wonderful to have pastured, organic eggs, right from our own backyard. I love my chickens and as I’d like to have more in the next few years, researching coop ideas has become a hobby for me. I was very happy to be able to review this book.

Art of the Chicken Coop by Chris Gleason has seven different coop ideas. Four of them are for flocks of six chickens or less, which is a great size for a back yard flock. We get on average five eggs per week from each of our chickens; this gives us enough for our family, as well as some to share occasionally.

If you are planning on keep more chickens, three of the coop designs are for larger coops, if you’d like to have twelve to fifteen chickens. Also included are some guidelines on how to increase the size of any coops in the book. There’s even instructions for a coop made out of salvaged materials.

This is also a great book for the beginning chicken owner, because not only are there coop designs but there are a lot of chicken keeping tips through out the book and explanations for what you need to have in your coop and why.

The book includes a completely supply list, step-by-step pictures – which I love – and some great egg recipes as well. There is also a section on the popular backyard breeds with pictures and a bit on info on each.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it called for chicken wire in the coops. From my research I have learned that you need to use hardware cloth in your coop building as the holes in chicken wire are too big, and raccoons and other predators can get through it. Also I would have loved more then one movable coop idea. Other then that, I thought this book was just great.

I do not have much building experience but I would feel confident trying to build any of the coops in this book. Recommended!

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GMO’s in the News

GMO’s in the News

It’s been quite a while since I’ve put up a news update, so here it is. Hope everyone has a great week.   Mom

Organic Consumer Association political director arrested

Tuesday May 17 at Whole Foods in Chicago over protests regarding the sale of unlabeled GMOs

This just in, forwarded by Michael Schmidt and Max Kane:

Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, and other activists were just arrested in Chicago at the Whole Foods Market in Lincoln Park where they were having a Food Dump to protest the sale of unlabeled GMOs.

Can you call the Lincoln Park Whole Foods, request the release of Alexis and her counterparts and ask that the charges be dropped? The number is 312-587-0648. The OCA and these activists would really appreciate your help!


OCA Staff

PS: After you call, please take action and tell Whole Foods to stop selling GMOs!


EU agriculture chief slams GMOs, expresses strong support for natural agriculture

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) In a bold move that goes against the mainstream flow, European Union (EU) Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos recently denounced genetically-modified (GM) food crops, citing the fact that they fail to meet various “quality and diversity criteria” that consumers have come to expect, and their inherent lack of benefit for both farmers and consumers. Ciolos also expressed support for individual EU member nations having the freedom to ban GM crops if they so choose, emphasizing the notion that natural, local agriculture is the best route for European nations to take.

Acceptance of GMOs throughout Europe continues to be far lower than it is in the US, partly due to the fact that EU policy dictates that GMOs be properly labeled, while US policy has no labeling requirements. But European consumers have also been far more vocal against the use of GMOs than consumers in the US have been, and numerous other European leaders like Ciolos have publicly spoken out against GMOs, while most US politicians have remained silent on the issue (…).

In a recent interview, Ciolos properly identified traditional polyculture agriculture as beneficial to high food quality, diverse diets, and natural biodiversity. Sharply contrasted to GM crop cultivation, which represents a chemical-based system of monoculture, traditional agriculture represents a wide variety of unique food items that are not chemical dependent, and that do not put the environment and human health at risk (

Ciolos also stated that the US has been thrusting GMOs on the EU for quite some time now, which was also confirmed through a Wikileaks cable that was released late last year. In it, former US Ambassador to France Craig Roberts Stapleton was exposed for threatening the EU with retaliation if it did not accept the same open policy towards GMOs that the US currently holds


GMO products a failure


Newsday, Zimbabwe

HARARE – May 17 2011

At the turn of the millennium, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were touted as an answer to food shortages haunting the globe, particularly in developing countries.

But a local agricultural policy expert Roger Mpande says this has turned out to be a false start and Zimbabwe’s best bet is to stick to local knowledge systems and resources.

He says the health, environmental and social impact of GMOs cannot be underestimated.

Mpande — who spoke during a Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre knowledge brief for journalists in Harare last week on why Zimbabwe should refuse to licence the commercialisation of GMOs — says a look at the GM products leaves a lot to be desired.

“There is no drought-tolerant variety (among the GMOs), no vitamin enhancement, no medicinal traits and no yield increases,” he says.

Mpande, who works with the Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association (Zoppa), says only two traits — herbicide tolerance and B toxin expression — have made it onto the market while only four crops have been commercialised. These are maize, soya beans, cotton and canola.

There has been extensive debates surrounding GMO issues in relation to organic farming in the country and Africa in particular and the subject of genetic modification has been contentious owing to various reasons. So much uncertainty still surrounds GMOs which can cause unpredictable health and environmental effects.

Zoppa Trust executive director Fortunate Nyakanda says her organisation is promoting organic agriculture which she defined as “a process that uses methods respectful of the environment from the production stages through handling and processing”.

She says organic farming systems are more beneficial as their practices combine science, tradition and innovation to benefit shared environment and promote fair relationships.

“As such they are highly relevant to smallholders although also applicable to big land holdings and offer an opportunity for every farmer to earn a livelihood,” she adds.

She says this agricultural system also establishes sustainable livelihoods for farming families and their communities.

“There is also low-cost production as most inputs are locally available and generated. It gives access to new market opportunities and premium prices in most cases,” she says.

According to Mpande, commercialisation of GM products increases the cost of production.

“The costs are incurred through procurement of seed annually, supported by high input production systems when you look at fertilisers, irrigation and regulatory requirements,” Mpande says. “It also displaces local seed industry and replaces it with multinational companies such as Monstanto and Cargill while there are cumbersome export permit requirements when you look at the need for labelling and other liabilities.”

Mpande says it is important to appreciate that Zimbabwe’s environment is best suited for healthy foods and the future of the food industry does not have to depend on GMOs as compared to Europe, Asia and the US. He says Zimbabwe is not ready for this kind of technology.

Major chemical companies are said to be against organic farming as it is regarded as a threat to the crop chemical industry in the world.

The organic market, says Nyakanda, is among the fastest growing market segments globally, with a growth of about an average of 20% in the last seven years.

Consumers, especially in international markets, are increasingly preferring products grown with natural methods and with due respect to environmental and social dimensions.

As a result, demand and marketing in products such as organic products, fair-trade products, and eco-friendly products is rising.

Organic agriculture, according to Nyakanda, is key as a livelihood because “it can replace agro-chemical inputs by multiple cropping, natural enemies and rebuilding of the soil in areas where there has been environment concerns on chemical overuse and building of pest resistance”.

She adds that this system can also stabilise the ecosystem and allow even poor farmers to earn a living from agriculture without input constrains.

GMOs allow for enhanced disease and pest resistance and also prevent heavy usage of herbicides as the crop will be able to outgrow and fight weeds just on application of single and moderate herbicide, thereby saving the environment.

Article source:

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Homemade Pesto


Homemade Pesto

Pesto is so easy to make and as we’re getting into basil season, it’s a great time to make extra and freeze it for later in the year.

I hadn’t made pesto in a long time but when we went to the Asian supermarket a few weeks ago, I got a huge bunch of Thai basil. I used some in a great curry (recipe will be up soon) and was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of  it, when I remember how easy it is to make pesto.

Pesto will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator and for a few months (or more) in the freezer. Some people make big batches and freeze it in ice cube trays and then pop the cubes in to a Ziploc bag so you can just pull them out as needed.  You can make this recipe with fresh spinach too –  also makes a delicious pesto.

I make mine in a food processor, but I think you could make it in a blender as well.


3 cups packed organic basil leaves  – remove the big stems, you can use the smaller ones

2 large organic garlic cloves

½ cup organic pinenuts, walnuts, almonds or a combination. – I make a variety of crispy nuts and keep them in the freezer, they’re perfect for making pesto.

¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese – I use the fresh parmesan/romano blend from TJ’s.

¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil.

Celtic salt to taste



Combine everything except the olive oil in your food processor, turn it on and pour the oil in a slow stream until the pesto comes together in a nice paste. If you’re storing it in the refrigerator, put it in a small dish or container and cover it with olive oil, that’ll keep it fresh for up to four days. Serve it over any kind of pasta. It also makes a great spread for cheese and other types of sandwiches. Enjoy!

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Milking Cancer

This week we have another article by Jeffrey M. Smith, from the Institute of Responsible Technology.  Mom

Is Eli Lilly Milking Cancer by Promoting AND Treating It?

by Jeffrey M. Smith

Breast Cancer Action and a coalition of consumer and health organizations have launched a campaign called Milking Cancer, where you can demand from Eli Lilly that they withdraw their dangerous bovine growth hormone from the market. For more on bovine growth hormone, see the 18-minute film, Your Milk on Drugs.

Years ago, an owner of a glass company was arrested for throwing bricks through store windows in his town. What a way to increase business! Has Eli Lilly figured out the drug equivalent of breaking, then fixing our windows?

In August 2008, the huge drug company agreed to buy Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone (rbST or rbGH), which is injected into cows in the US to increase milk supply. It was an odd choice at the time. A reporter asked Lilly’s representative why on earth his veterinary division Elanco just paid $300 million for a drug that other companies wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. The drug’s days were obviously numbered. The former head of the American Medical Association has urged hospitals to stop using dairy products from rbGH-injected cows, the American Nurses Association came out against it, even Wal-Mart has joined the ranks of numerous retailers and dairies loudly proclaiming their cows are rbGH-free. In fact, Monsanto’s stock rose by almost 5% when the sale was announced, and Eli Lilly’s dropped by nearly 1%.

The main reason for the unpopularity of this hormone, which is banned in most other industrialized countries, is the danger of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Dozens of studies confirm that IGF-1, which accelerates cell division, substantially increases the risk of breast, prostate, colon, lung, and other cancers. Normal milk contains IGF-1, milk drinkers have higher levels of IGF-1, and the milk from cows injected with Eli Lilly’s drug has much greater amounts of IGF-1. You can connect the dots.

Would it be too crass to point out the obvious conflict-of-the-public’s-interest that Eli Lilly also markets cancer drugs? In fact their drug Evista, which might help reduce the risk of breast cancer, may lower IGF-1 (according to one small study). So on the one hand, Eli Lilly pushes a milk drug that might increase cancer, and on the other, it comes to the rescue with drugs to treat or “prevent” cancer. Call it the perfect cancer profit cycle.

It gets better.

Cows treated with rbGH have much higher incidence of mastitis, a painful infection of the udder. This results in more pus in the milk (yuck). But don’t worry. It’s Eli Lilly to the rescue again. They are one of the companies happy to sell antibiotics to dairy farmers to treat the infection—which can’t help but increase antibiotic resistance in humans (double yuck).

History of Lawsuits and Criminal Charges

But would Eli Lilly consciously risk our health just to increase their profit? What kind of company are they and can we trust them with our food? If recent events are any indication, you better look for rbGH-free labels.

A December 17, 2006 New York Times article revealed that according to hundreds of internal documents and emails, “Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa.…Lilly executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar — both known risk factors for diabetes. … Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa’s sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes.”

Their own surveys revealed that 70% of psychiatrists had at least one patient “develop high blood sugar or diabetes while taking Zyprexa.” And 30% of patients taking the drug for a year gained at least 22 pounds—some over 100 pounds. But Lilly told their sales team, “Don’t introduce the issue!!!”
One doctor even warned: “unless we come clean on this, it could get much more serious than we might anticipate.” It did indeed get serious. They paid out hundreds of millions in settlements to people who claimed they developed diabetes or other disorders.

But Lilly’s Zyprexa troubles were not over. In early 2009, they were forced to pay a record-setting $1.42 billion settlement with the justice department, and another record-setting state consumer protection claim of $62 million, for illegally marketing the drug to children and the elderly. It emerged in June of this year that Lilly “officials wrote medical journal studies about the antipsychotic Zyprexa and then asked doctors to put their names on the articles, a practice called ‘ghostwriting.’”

Eli Lilly was also the maker of the infamous Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen. Starting in 1938, it was prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriages and other problems. Although in 1953, research showed that it didn’t actually prevent miscarriages, it continued to be used until 1971, when the FDA alerted the public that the daughters exposed to DES in the womb were at risk of a rare vaginal cancer. An estimated 5-10 million pregnant women received DES. The civil courts held Lilly liable because they should have foreseen (based on prior information) that DES might cause cancer and that Lilly should have done the proper testing before marketing it.

Rigging Research

In the late 1980s Eli Lilly was one of four companies (including American Cyanamid, Upjohn, and Monsanto) that tried to get their version of bovine growth hormone approved by the FDA. I sat down with Dr. Richard Burroughs, who was a lead reviewer for the agency on these applications. He didn’t have kind words to say about the companies. “They didn’t follow good science and they didn’t follow regulations for adequate well controlled studies,” he said. “They just went out and skewed the data.”

He said, for example, that Eli Lilly had mysteriously lost organ samples that may have shown problems in injected cows. And their researchers came up with creative ways to hide reproductive changes in the animals. Specifically, injections appeared to suppress cows’ regular menstrual cycle or reduce the visual symptoms. The company was required to report the number of cows “in heat,” but was told by the FDA that they could not use bulls to identify them. If bulls were needed, then the label on their drug would have to inform farmers that they would need a bull to help identify which cows were in heat. And most farms didn’t have bulls.

According to Burroughs, FDA investigators figured out that Lilly researchers secretly pumped up a heifer—a young female cow—with male hormones, so that the transgendered animal would act like a male and be attracted to the cows in heat. Lilly followed the letter of the law by not using a bull, but well, you can decide if you want to trust these guys.

Eventually, Lilly and two other companies withdrew their products, leaving Monsanto’s brand of rbGH as the only one that got approved and marketed. But Lilly worked a deal where they represented Monsanto’s drug outside the US. They sell it in 20 countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Kenya and Mexico. And now, they offer it in the US as well.

Human Reproductive Problems from Drugged Milk

In May 2006, an article in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine concluded that rbGH use, and the subsequent increase in IGF-1 in the US diet, is probably the reason why we have much higher levels of fraternal twins compared to the UK, where rbGH is banned.

Mothers with twin births are more likely to suffer from hypertension, gestational diabetes, hemorrhage, and miscarriage. Twin babies are more likely to be born prematurely and suffer from birth defects, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing disorders, and serious organ problems. How many drugs do you suppose Eli Lilly sells to treat these disorders?

Tell Eli Lilly to take rbGH off the market and out of your milk.

To learn more about the health dangers of GMOs, and what you can do to help end the genetic engineering of our food supply, visit

To learn how to choose healthier non-GMO brands and milk without rbGH, visit

International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey Smith is the leading spokesperson on the health dangers of genetically modified (GM) foods. His first book, Seeds of Deception, is the world’s bestselling and #1 rated book on the topic. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, provides overwhelming evidence that GMOs are unsafe and should never have been introduced. Mr. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to create the tipping point of consumer rejection of GMOs, forcing them out of our food supply.

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Homemade Falafel Recipe


We are back, after a computer crash last week. It was a good reminder to always back up my files. Sorry to have missed last week, but I’m so glad we’re back! – Mom


Homemade Falafel

I love Falafel and as we don’t have any place nearby that serves it, we haven’t had it in ages. I looked at the mixes at the health food store and they all had canola oil in them, which we don’t eat. This is a recipe from the wonderful Nourishing Traditions book. It makes a nice big batch and fed three teenagers & two adults with one serving left over. This was the best Falafel we’ve ever eaten.

Serves 8


2 cups dried organic chickpeas

Filtered water

4 tbs. whey or lemon juice

4 cups organic parsley leaves, loosely packed

4 medium organic onions, coarsely chopped

4 large cloves organic garlic, peeled

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. Celtic or sea salt

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. baking powder

About 1-cup extra virgin olive oil or lard (we used organic coconut oil)



Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour over chickpeas. Stir in 2 tablespoons whey or lemon juice, cover and leave in a warm place (I just left ours on the stove) for 12 hours. Pour off excess water and pour in more boiling water. Add remaining 2 tbs. of whey or lemon juice and leave for another 12 hours.

Place 1 cup parsley in food processor and pulse until chopped. Add ¼ of the chickpeas (about 1 cups and they expand a lot from the water), 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, and ¼ tsp. of each of the remaining ingredients (except olive oil or lard) and pulse until reduced to a course paste. The mixture should be finely ground enough to hold together but not entirely smooth. Repeat process three more times. (If you have a 14 cup food processors, I think you could do two batches, instead of four).

Mix all batched together, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Form into patties and sauté in olive oil or lard. Serve with tahini sauce, sliced tomatoes/cucumbers and pita bread. I served our with tahini sauce and organic hummus and pita breads from Trader Joe’s, a made a big side salad. Enjoy!

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