Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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Another GMO Finding.

I read in the Chicago Tribune that there was a study on the existence of GMO's in the human body.  It was about an article written in "Reproductive Toxicology" by Canadian researchers.  The researches simply looked at blood from pregnant woman and then blood from the umbilical cord.  What they were looking for was if there were any GMO's in the blood. 

The Tribune article went on to say, "genetically modified crops differ in that the plants grow from seeds in which DNA splicing has been used to place genes from another source into a plant.  In this way, the crop can be made to withstand a weed-killing pesticide "Think Atrizine- my words" for example, or incorporate a bacterial toxin that can repel pests.  Canadian researchers this year reported that the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women and 80 percent of their umbilical cord blood samples contained a pesticide implanted in GMO corn by the biotech company Monsanto, though digestion is supposed to remove it from the body".

 It is the "removed from the body," that is unsettling.  Here we go again with those annoying trace amounts.  This is what the Industrial Food Complex (IFC) and their equally huge lobbyists want everyone to believe.  The article points out that trace amounts are okay as defined by the FDA, EPA and USDA.  I use Diacetyl, again, as one of those chemicals that left trace amounts, but were supposed to be, processed out of the body.  Instead, it caused lung cancer when a man consistently ate microwave popcorn.  OHSA required workers that made microwave popcorn to wear masks that filtered the Diacetyl while they breathed.  Why?  Diacetyl, a known carcinogen, caused lung cancer when breathed consistently.  Research said it was safe in trace amounts but not in the concentrated amounts that workers faced.

If you have the money, you can buy scientific studies.  DDT, Asbestos, Agent Orange, Atrizine, Nicotine throw a dart.  The cigarette industry proved for decades that their products were not addictive.  Only until consumer advocacy groups and the ethics of a scientist, proved otherwise, but at that same time millions of us suffered through the loss of a loved ones linked to one carcinogen or another from the 316 plus chemicals in cigarettes.  The tobacco industry and lobbyist had thousands of studies to document the safety or their product.  Have corporations turned a leaf and have they become more ethical both environmentally and with what they sell us to keep our bodies healthy.  Not when the bottom line is the goal, they are not. 

Not only is research purchased the statistics can be manipulated based on a few factors, like standard deviation or the amount of data collected.  It is like the banking industry and the housing market.  The banks created categories of loans, bundled each one separately then sold the bundles.  Then they bet against the bundle holding its worth.  The bankers get rich, homeowner, takes the loss. 

 I realize that I am using a scientific study to justify the ills of GMO's.  I am not missing the paradox.  However, when you learn what DNA splicing is and how it is accomplished, you do not have to be a scientist to know there will be problems.  I would rather error on the side of caution,   especially when you find out that in order to get the corn DNA to accept the foreign DNA gene, and anti-biotic strain needs to be spliced in to the new DNA helix.  There are stories of super bugs that have bacteria resistant strains.  This does makes me wonder if there is a correlation.

The article failed to mention how we, as consumers, discovered GMO's in our food supply in the first place.  I think it was in 2004 that a woman ate a taco shell made with GMO corn and had a bad reaction to the food.  It was eventually determined GMO corn made up the taco shell.  In European countries, regulations make the food industry prove that the changed chemical or genetic make up of the additive or preservative is safe for human consumption and cause no ill affect.  In the US, it is Caveat Emptor, think of nano-technology and titanium dioxide

I would bet that it is already in our food supply, we just have not found out about it yet.  It is not as if the IFC was fourth coming with the whole GMO thing.  That is another strong argument for buying organic as the article points out.  It is against organic regulations to use any GMO anything.  However, if GMO corn that was planted in Colorado shows up in a Mexican corn field you really wonder what chance does any organic farm have against cross pollination.  Could it drift into organic production fields? 

You bet your sweet @$$, it can.  In the US organic requirement, you need to have at least a twenty-five foot wide hedgerow or buffer zone.  Most of our buffer zones are greater than one hundred feet.  However, when you find the same strain of GMO corn planted in Colorado in Mexico does a buffer zone really matter?

We need better labeling on our food.  That is the only way we as consumers can make the industrial food complex clean up their act.  When they are hit in the pocket, they will take notice and they will take action.  Right now, their action is to fight against new labeling requirements. 

If you want to buy GMO food, have at it.  If you do not want to buy foods made with GMO products, the only way you can do that is to buy organic or have the label indicate that GMO is in the food.  The industrial food complex is fighting hard to stop regulators from requiring new labeling that identifies GMO in their products.  I wonder why?  It would not have anything to do with the profit motive, do you suppose?  Get active write your federal officials in favor of labeling GMO products as such.

Buy Local:  Keep the momentum up, tell a friend to tell a friend



The Clock Has Started

We learned the other day that our "God send" has diabetes.  This, in and of it self, is intimidating if you have know idea what you are up against.  What is worse is having gone through caring for a diabetic cat and losing it because you gave it to much insulin. 

We had a cat twelve years ago pass away from hypoglycemic shock.  I know I am not really at fault but I was the one that administered the last insulin shot.  The guilt is still palpable.  His name was Opus and my wife, as a birthday gift, gave him to me.  We had been married for a couple of months and I said I wanted a cat.  She had always had dogs but never had cats before and did not really want one.  But being the kind person she is, she got Opus for me as a gift.

I told her after a month with the cat, we could take a vote and I would abide by the vote.  She agreed and after a month, the vote came out as I had expected, there was one for and one against.  She wanted to keep it; I wanted my clothes to be cat hair free.  Well life continued and at the time, my wife was working many hours and I was working at one full-time job and a part-time job.  I still had weekends free and not being one to sit around and do nothing I decided that Opus was going to do tricks.  We were living in a town house.  We called them row houses in the city.

Opus already chased after round milk caps when thrown and would bring them back.  How hard could it be to teach him other stunts?  So I set about trying to teach Op some tricks.  It was not long before he would lay, sit, come and give you his paw.  All you hade to do was tell him a command and he would act.  I showed a friend one day all of Op's tricks and she looked at me and said, "You need to get out of the house, this is not natural".  What can I say he was a great cat?

Now BC has been diagnosed but we are at least more technologically advanced then we were twelve years ago.  We have a Glu-cometer and a way to track her blood sugar instantly, instead of a stick that changes colors when dipped in urine.  Catching a stream of urine from a cat is a feat unto itself.  But the truth is the clock has started on the end of her life.  This thought is what hurts the most.  I know the clock started when she was born but it was never a thought.  Now we hear the time clicking off.  Our job is to stave off her demise for as long as humanly possible

We were living on the farm about year when BC adopted us.  We were at our lowest.  There were snakes all over the house and we were having buyer’s remorse or what I called our fetal position moments.  Our phone service was spotty (see "Green Acres was...”), there was no cable and I was surfing the internet at 2400 baud (sorry, I am a geek).  In contrast, today we surf the net at about a thousand times that rate.  Then BC came into our lives and started killing snakes.  We had been praying for strength, so we just figured that BC was a Godsend.  Soon after her arrival, things started to turn for us.  The second planting season was disastrous weed wise, but we ended the year in the black.  Mostly, our outlook took a turn for the best and we settled into our routine.  BC kept locating snakes and if she did not I would dispose of them. 

Now snakes are beneficial but they are also territorial.  For the first year, we practiced catch and release.  Then the more I learned I realized all I was doing was temporarily removing them.  They return to their den.  We then had a dilemma on our hands.  I came up with what I thought was a compromise.  We have a gravel driveway that circles the house.  If the snakes were inside the circle of death, they perished.  The snakes in the outbuildings live.  If they were outside the circle that was were they stayed.  It was our own line in the sand.  We ended up pulling sixty-eight snakes out of the house by the time remodeling was finished three years after moving in.  They were all black snakes, except for this one that was so old it was grey.  It was the biggest snake I had ever seen outside of the zoo.

Well we face BC now, but we have experience and better technology on our side.  It is what it is and what we make of it.  We will do what it takes but it is saddening nonetheless, because we now know that the clock has started.

Buy Local: find a small farm near you and support it!  Their toil is for your benefit


Manure Smells

Camping made up most of our vacations as I grew up.  Living in Maryland, we had the choice of traveling west to the Cactoctin Mountain range or head east to the water.  I lived in a camping family and each summer we would head west to what we, in Maryland, call mountains.  I do not know what constitutes a mountain but the ones I have seen in Colorado or other states makes ours look like hills.  Maryland is relatively flat when comparing sea level heights. 

Camping took us out of the city and into the hills.  Once there and setup our father would inevitably find a farm near by and purchase what ever they had.  The larges might serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I remember the smells most of all, walking into a horse barn to ride horses or passing a field that was being fertilized.  When I inquired, I was told it was fresh air that I was smelling.

It was a different smell than I had experienced in the City.  Except when the Arabber would come by and the horse would leave fertilizer, which my father was quick to get for his own garden (see "A City Boy's Education"). 

Their answer about fresh air made sense to me.  Having had my olfactory senses assaulted as we pass the waste disposal site on a summer day in Baltimore or passing a brewery or other manufacturing plant, you could quantify their answers.  I think that because of their answer I always associated manure smells with fresh air.  It is an oxymoron for most people I admit that, but there is a speckle of truth too.

Being outside and away from suburban and urban settings the air was different.  Yes, I was smelling manure but at the same time, it was associated with fresh air and fun.  I point to that time as the beginning of my education on manures.  When fields are spread with manure I can tell you, what kind of manure it is by the smell.  This skill will get me nowhere and it is not something that is discussed at cocktail parties or family gatherings.  Are there cocktail parties any more? 

I digress, of all the manures; horse manure is the best smelling to me.  That goes back to my youth and riding horses.  The worst of the worst is pig manure.  I am sorry to all my swine friends but that is how I feel.  When we first started looking for a small farm, we stopped at a pig operation.  I still shudder at the thought of that experience.

I love pork, bacon, sausage, chops, ribs you name it, except for the more exotic stuff like feet and snout, I will eat pork.  That manure smell though is polar opposites of horse or cow manure.  Even chicken and turkey smells better and poultry manure has an ammonia smell. 

Like I said, this skill will never amount to anything but it is a just another link in a chain that has led me here.  Besides, everyone knows manure smells.

 Buy local:  Tens of thousands of us are growing for your health and the environment. 


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