Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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Food Scientist

There is no denying that science has been a crucial function in the evolution of man.  Scientist are held with high regard and esteem in this country and elsewhere and rightly so, for their dedication is what has moved us out of the dark ages and into today’s light.  We think of scientist as being pure of heart and morally motivated for the good of humanity and everything that inhabits the earth.  However, with every profession a percentage are motivated by means that are nefarious and or dubious at best.  Like the scientist that backed big tobacco for decades proclaiming the products relative safety.

There is a difference between those that recommend a new substance or process, that they think will improve life, health and understanding of things not known; as opposed to those that sell their soul for whatever the cost to produce a report that backs up their benefactors claim.  Take a minute, how many events can you think about where this scenario has played out.  Our history is littered with bad science and manipulated data so a few of the rich can get richer.

I use scientific studies to make decisions and learn how to take care of a particular problem or system.  Yet here I am about to blame science for our human and environmental ills.  That hypocrisy is not lost on me.  That is why when someone approaches me to discuss the “falsehoods” of organic food I let him or her talk and agree with what is said.  Let’s face it, for every scientific study pointing to a benefit of organics there is one pointing in the other direction.  You have to ask yourself, why someone would care or spend money on scientific research to refute a claim that a particular method was beneficial or detrimental unless they see or fear an intruder in their wallets.  With that kind of motivation there will be rigging of results to benefit the existing status quo.  Besides the undisputed facts are that organic food is easier on the environment, does not cost as much and does not have trace amounts of carcinogens, end of argument, debate and story.

For those of you questioning the "cost" statement, you need to take into account the tax dollars being spent to detect, identify, clean and restore our environment to its natural existence due to the imbalance brought on by inputs from conventional farming practices.  If you read the literature that is against organics it speaks to how there is no difference, that sustainable/organic practices cannot feed the world and that organics is not scaleable among others.  When pro-organic studies come out the IFC is quick to refute those claims with scientific claims of its own.  However, it is what they chose not to address that is the most telling. 

You never hear of a scientific report refuting the damage being done to our environment and our health.  Maybe the IFC learned from tobacco to leave the health issue claims alone.  I have not read anything that refutes recent studies finding Atrazine present in the human body.  First, it was blood in pregnant women, and then it was found in umbilical cords.  It is now known that Atrazine does not pass through the body as we were lead to believe and the build up is causing genes to mutate and metastasize.  How can a male bullfrog become feminized if Atrazine left the body?  Diactyl, 2-4,D, Atrazine, and all the other endocrine disrupters being used in the IFC, is starting to showing long term affects on us and the flora and fauna.  In 2014, Dow-Chemical is getting ready to sell Agent Orange corn seeds.  Which means 2,4-D is back in production and ready for even wider use in the United States.

Good science has found a viral gene in the DNA helix of GMO products.  This gene identified as GENE VI is a virus that was newly discovered and this causes great concern about its effects on the human body.  This is after the manufacture assured the government and the public (with scientific studies) that GMO would not harm animals or humans if ingested.  This new finding indicates otherwise.  Then there is nano-titanium dioxide (NTD).  Have you all noticed that your ketchup does not cling to the sides of the bottles anymore? 

Thank NTD, never mind the only independent study done was at UC Berkley, it lasted two years and they found health risks and organ failures in lab rats.  Never mind that the England banned the substance.  Things like NTD are added all the time to our food supply and we as the consumer are kept in the dark.  The IFC will not say they use it and if they do, then the IFC got it into the food supply with a GRAS designation.  Generally recognized as safe is what FDA, USDA, EPA and other agencies use to fast track new substances.  However, you will never hear that it is being used, how about your mustard or mayonnaise if the inside of the bottle is clean and the entire product is at the bottom, then my guess is NTD is in the substance.  The product consistency is still the same, then what changed to make it do that.

Some will say it is normal debate, that people have different opinions and so forth.  However, I was taught that you start with a hypothesis and develop a scientific study that can be replicated to prove or disprove the hypothesis.  The IFC is trying to thwart science, with support from ALEC, by trying to pass "Ag-Gag" laws, and other ways to hide their problems.  We are all paying a price that is not known and we end up being test dummies for the new technology that the IFC adds to the food supply.  While the few who are making money off the technology will continue to benefit, in order to remain healthy, the rest of us are left to be our own food scientist. 

Buy Local: It is the only way

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Free Range might not be

When you hear the term “Free Range” the natural thought is grass.  However, given the definition brought about by lobbyist, free range means “access to” the outdoors.  Access to what is the question?  In some cases, access leads to cement pads.  Cement pads that are not big enough to hold all the chickens in the house. 

On the other hand, they actually get to step on dirt surrounded by a fence.  No grass, because chickens are hard on soil and if you confine them to the same space the grass cannot recover.  As long as the building has a door and the door can open the producer can call their product free-range.  USDA for their part is trying to redefine the term and add the amount of time the animal has to be outside in order to combat the unscrupulous. 

Done correctly chickens are tremendously beneficial to the soil.  They cut down on bug populations and they leave fertilizer behind.  The industrial food complex has seized on the USDA definition, raised their prices, calling the chicken “free range” when the chicken most likely has never set foot outside, or even came close enough to the door to get fresh air.  You go into these large poultry houses and the smells can be overwhelming with ammonia being most prevalent.  It is the environment that they live in that causes the need for anti-biotic and other medicines

How we free range as well as other small farmers is to let the bird out of the house at sunrise and then close the door at sunset.  Once the chickens know where their roost is located, they will come home.  Provided there has been no predation.  Predation is one of the major problems with free range.  There are the natural night predators that people know about, fox, owls, opossum, raccoons, coyotes, bears and others depending on the location.  If your structure is sound you will not loose chickens at night, or at least we have never lost any at night.

Our losses have all come during the daytime and there are two reasons, dogs and hawks.  Since we got Coadee, the dog attacks have stopped.  The hawks on the other hand she is hit or miss with.  I have seen her chase hawks barking as she runs after them.  Then we have lost one or two while we have had her.  As with every problem research and knowledge gathering came into play.  I found that hanging CD’s up deters hawks.  I called around and verified that yes indeed, hawks have acute eyesight and the reflections glinting off the CD’s bother them, so they tend to stay away from those areas.

Besides making the place look sparkling, we have not lost birds to any hawks.  We have moved fifty more out on grass but kept them in the barn too long.  How do I know this, the birds are not coming outside of their new home.  The other day we did a forced evacuation but as soon as all were out of the trailer, they started to head right back inside.  It was cold but the sun was out still one by one they all went back into the shelter.  It has been three days and we might have ten outside. 

Chickens are like that, they get use to an environment and they tend to stay with what makes them comfortable.  That is why “having access to,” is so ridiculous.  Chickens last maybe eight weeks before processing.  If they have not gotten out by the fourth week, they are not going to be true free range.  Unless of course we are talking about layers, given enough time and we will be chasing them back into the pen just like every other flock we have ever had.  It is a familiar pattern but one that stills brings delight while watching them explore and get use to the great outdoors.  That and Fer Coadee.  They have known Fer Coadee since they got on the farm as day-olds.  The peeps have seen her everyday twice a day since October.  They do not know what she is there for but once they get outside the fence, of their pen, they will quickly learn. 

Coadee enforces the boarders and keeps the layers close.  As an added bonus, Coadee gives them a complete checkup before letting them go back to pen.  Okay, she may be licking all over them and feeling their skin and feet but I prefer to see it as a health check.  The layers see it as a reason to stay inside the pen.

Buy Local: It is how you make a difference.

 

 
 
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