Monthly Archives: March 2011

Activism Green Living Healthy Living

Dead Fish: A Wakeup Call About our Ecological Habits

If you have already seen news stories about millions of dead fish found in King Harbor in Redondo Beach, CA you may be aware that this event is not unprecedented. For years there have been reports about voluminous amounts of birds and fish deaths all over the world, but those reports are becoming more numerous as time goes on. Bees, frogs, birds, and other types of fish have been on the radar for endangerment of disappearance and death. This should be a wake-up call that our current ways of living are not supporting our ecology, and that we need to make changes or else face the consequences it will have to our health and future.

The explanation authorities are providing is that this has been caused by “nature” and a winter storm, a “chain of events” which caused all the oxygen to be sucked out of the water, thus killing the fish. Somehow though, this just doesn’t make sense.  Eye witnesses say they observed that the birds were not feeding on the fish in the harbor, as is a normal activity, which suggests something was wrong; something very wrong.

So why aren’t scientists looking at all the chemicals and toxins we are continually dumping into our water, air, soil, and other environments as a possible cause for these events? Could it be the case that these events are being dismissed as a natural disaster to keep from having to reveal the potential hazard of the activities of various multi-billion dollar corporations, both food and otherwise, who use unsafe farming methods, chemicals, and toxins to produce their products  – such as genetically-modified organisms, pesticides, petro and other chemicals, and waste or by-products created from industrial and pharmaceutical companies? It’s been well-documented that many big corporations use unsafe and toxic practices in the production, growth, and sales of their products to enable business to continue. So why are we putting so much trust in these entities? And, are we really that naive to think that the thousands of chemicals used by industries which are continually dumped into the environment are not having any effect on us?

It’s absolutely abhorrent that the general consensus is not to investigate possible environmental causes for this and other related scenarios. True, the USDA admitted to poisoning birds in various locations in the southern U.S. as a measure to “protect” dairy farms. And in fact, the USDA has had many programs in place in the past to do this very thing – such as ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, a little-known program started in the 1960s to eradicate blackbirds so farmers wouldn’t lose profit.  Here’s their tally sheet displaying all the species they’ve killed as of 2009. But is this responsible? USDA agents authorized the euthanizing of more than 4 million red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, and starlings in 2009, and used pesticides to get the job done which are claimed by the government to not be harmful to animals or people.

Aren’t there more ecologically friendly ways to remove pests? And doesn’t this occurrence make you wonder what else is being done to “poison” our environment which is touted as safe, natural, or even harmless by authorities? Although I can’t prove these fish deaths are caused by something we’re putting in the environment, I think it begs to ask what exactly might be going on here. When asked about why the birds had to be poisoned, Carol Bannerman of the USDA replied, “We’re doing it to address, in this case, agricultural damage as well as the potential for human health and safety issues.” What health problems, exactly, are being imposed upon us by by birds living their natural lives? The birds were eating feed meal and one farmer stated that they were leaving excrement behind in feed containers. So killing them is really the only option?

Folks, don’t be deceived by these tactics to “save agriculture”. People managed without toxic chemicals, pesticides, and poisons for milennia on this earth and were still able to feed people. Poisoning animals and birds is not the only option, but it’s clearly the most convenient and cost-effective option for the authorities. Problem is, people aren’t ready to face the consequences of unleashing these chemicals into our environment.  And what we’re looking at with the fish in Redondo Beach is, in my opinion, a very suspicious example of what happens when we use toxic chemicals in our environment on the ecological condition of our planet.

Our best defense against toxic pollutants in our environment and food system – which we are seeing has a rippling effect on all aspects of our lives – is to stop buying products from large corporations who have profit and gain at the heart of all their activities. Support your local merchants, sustainable farmers, and food growers to keep our environment safe and clean. If you do support merchants and food producers who aren’t local, take the time to do the research and get to know the practices and ethics of the companies you do purchase from.

More information on what large corporations are up to:
Whole Foods, et al, grant blessing of GMO alfalfa to Monsanto
Supporting ethical, sustainable companies that aren’t local to me:
Nutrient-dense foods I don’t buy local
A visit to Green Pasture Products – home of fermented cod liver oil

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Real Food

Nutrient-Dense Foods I Don’t Buy Local

In the food community, it’s common to hear people say, “buy local”. No doubt, buying local is a very important thing to do. It supports your local agricultural food efforts and growers, and hopefully when you are buying local there is a mindful effort toward sustainable as well. Sustainable, meaning to support those who use practices in their farming and growing methods which are safe, healthy, and enable life as we know it to continue on earth.

So I hope that means you are making sure, at the very least, that your food is not treated with chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or other harmful substances. If you can get organic, that’s a plus. But many growers are simply unable to become certified organic for a variety of reasons. The cost and effort to certify is a feat in and of itself. I know because I have talked to one of the farmers in my area who owns a sizeable piece of land where his cattle roam and he explained the process to me and expense, which simply wouldn’t be cost feasible.

With that said, I wanted to showcase some of the nutrient-dense foods I eat that are sustainable but are not locally purchased. In fact, this post was inspired in part due to a conversation I had with my friends Stanley and Keren Fishman of Tender Grassfed Meat about my health issues (thyroid, anxiety, and general deficiencies in nutrients). In any given location, there will be foods you can buy local. But what about foods we need in our diets that aren’t available where we live?

Kerrygold butter

For two years, we’ve been getting our raw milk and beef from a local, certified organic farm which raises their cattle on pasture with no grain. Now, due to changing state laws and lack of funds to hire enough staff to keep the farm running, the farm has put their dispersal of raw milk on hold. This has been devastating to our family. Not only have we been drinking this milk for quite awhile and enjoying the health benefits from it, I happen to have low thyroid function which requires a steady supply of iodine in my diet. This farm, unlike any other farm I know of in our area, supplements their cattle with organic kelp – a rich source of iodine. Idaho soils are not known for their mineral-rich qualities, either. In fact, our state is a heavily commercialized farming region which means the soils have been abused for years due to modern farming methods and heavily treated with chemical fertilizers. This has depleted what nutrients we would have had in our soil.

I had also been buying Kerrygold Butter from our health food store for years. Kerrygold Butter is from Ireland where traditional farming methods are largely used, the cattle are grass-fed, and the soils are mineral rich; in particular, with iodine, as they are close to the sea. Oh, and they have cheese, too (which I have yet to try)!

Just six days after my health crisis started in January (I began having panic attacks nightly which have disturbed my sleep now for about 7 weeks), we had just started buying raw milk, butter, and cream from another farm that isn’t certified organic. At first, I didn’t think any difference would be noticed. After all, the milk is raw, right? They do alfalfa and grass feed, but there is no iodine in the supplementation for the cows. Our family had been under a tremendous amount of stress financially and had not received a regular paycheck for about 3 months. My stress level was high, and I had not been taking care of myself as I should on top of everything else.

Now, I should state here that I wasn’t drinking as much of the milk as my husband and son do because I wanted them to have the lion’s share since sometimes they don’t eat as well as I do (which is just out of my control on occasion). Normally we were getting about 2 gallons a week from the organic farm, and at $10 a gallon, that’s all we could afford. But I was making yogurt out of this milk when we’d get enough extra, which I was eating, and I was eating Kerrygold butter everyday. We are still getting our raw milk and cream from the other farm, but I’m now buying Kerrygold butter again. The important lesson learned here is that just because something is local doesn’t mean it’s nutritionally superior. I can assure you, I’m back on the road to recovery and I’ll never stray again.

Olive oil

I’ve been buying olive oil that is not from our local area ever since I can remember. Idaho is not exactly an ideal climate in which to raise olives, so this is a no-brainer. For years I’ve been buying Napa Valley Naturals brand because my local health food store sells it and their oils are a sustainably-produced (I did my research and called the company to inquire about their practices). Last year I started hearing about Chaffin Family Orchards olive oil and I had wanted to give it a try, but for some time kept forgetting to order a bottle.

Then I attended the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions conference in King of Prussia last fall and met Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards. He told me they were having a special during December for free shipping, and that convinced me to order a bottle and try it.  I’m pretty glad I made that decision, because I received a gallon of it which should last awhile, it’s one of the most delicious olive oils my family has ever tasted, and Chaffin Family Orchards is one of the most conscientious food growers I can think of and are most sustainable in their practices.

Cod liver oil

This food is incredibly nutrient-rich and isn’t local for most people. We buy Green Pasture Products fermented cod liver oil with butter oil – also known as Blue Ice Royal. Fermented cod liver oil is produced in accordance with old-world methods – by taking the cod livers and batch fermenting them for up to six months. The butter oil is not-heated treated, and from cows grazing on green grass. When these two foods are combined, the discovery of the “X-factor” discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price on his travels in the 1930s is achieved. The Vitamin K in the butter oil actually enables the body to utilize the precious nutrients found in the cod liver oil – Vitamins A, D, Omega 3s, and many others.

Vitamin D is critical for many aspects of health. It is instrumental in maintaining proper bone, brain, and immune health, protects against free-radical damage in the body, eliminates inflammation and allergic reactions in the body, and also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. And, Vitamin D is essential in the metabolizing of minerals like calcium and other nutrients.  Of course, getting Vitamin D from the sun is important too, as well as other food sources like meats, organ meats, milk and butter from pasture-raised cows, safe-sourced seafood.

In order to properly utilize Vitamin D, however, you must have an adequate intake of Magnesium and Vitamin B6. Make certain you are getting a good supplementation of magnesium, as the soils in the U.S. are so depleted from commercial farming methods, this is one mineral most people are sorely lacking in.


For many people, avocadoes are not local. They certainly aren’t local to Idaho. Avocadoes contain Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin E, and C.  It also has trace amounts of pantothenic acid, potassium, Riboflavin, and niacin. And, avocadoes are also a good source of healthy fats – each fruit contains an average of 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, important for circulatory health. If you eat avocadoes, be sure to buy organic or at the very least, not treated with any type of chemicals – although avocadoes are one of the foods which contain some of the least amounts of pesticides according to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Coconut oil

Since the source of many coconut oils are near the ocean, you would think all brands are probably the same. But, there are some more inland sources of coconut oils that I would think might be inferior to those near the coastal regions. Any brand that you buy should say that it originates from a coastal area – the Philippines is one place you can be assured there will be more nutrients minerals such as iodine.  Tropical Traditions, Wilderness Family Naturals, and Nutiva all obtain their coconuts for oil from the Philippines.

There are so many good things about coconut oil for our health, it’s hard to know where to begin. Coconut oil is high in rich in lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. It is also contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily assimilated by the liver so that the body can use it to maintain skin, hair, eyes, and weight.

Thyroid health can actually be improved greatly with coconut oil. Because it stimulates metabolism and raises basal body temperatures, this naturally promotes normalized thyroid function.  Various people on the Coconut Diet site report eating coconut oil for a period of time and then finding out through a blood test that their thyroid function actually improved.

Watch this informative video interview with Dr. Bruce Fife about the benefits of coconut oil to the thyroid and health in general.

I’m definitely taking coconut oil, and in a few months I’m going to have the blood test taken again to see if my thyroid levels have changed.

This nutritious substance contains Vitamins E and K, and also iron which are critical for heart, immune, brain, control of free radicals in the body, and helping to deal with stress. The nutrients in coconut oil are very healthy for the entire digestive tract – especially maintaining blood sugar (liver and pancreas, and can help control diabetes, prevent gall and liver stones, and also  auto-immune disorders). It is also important for kidney health (prevents kidney stones). Coconut oil facilitates the absorption of minerals like calcium which are important for bone health.

Also, try organic, raw coconut butter too. Artisana is a great brand, and it is so delicious!

Don’t forget local foods!

Even though I made this list of important foods to purchase for your health that may not be local to you, please continue to support your local and sustainable food producers. Sustainable producers are the backbone of our future, health, and safe food system. Read all about the farmers I trust and support in my local area – Locavore’s shopping tour – local farms, local food

What foods do you buy that are nutrient-dense and are not from your local area? Please share!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday Carnival.