Chemical Free Living – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Sun, 27 Sep 2020 19:19:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.6 https://www.kindredmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-Kindred-Black-Logo-square-32x32.png Chemical Free Living – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org 32 32 40 Years On “The Farm” – Full Documentary https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/09/40-years-on-the-farm-full-documentary/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/09/40-years-on-the-farm-full-documentary/#respond Mon, 30 Sep 2019 19:33:26 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=22794 “40 Years on the Farm” documentary from Randy Rudder on Vimeo. This documentary chronicles the history of The Farm, America’s oldest hippie commune, located in Summertown,Tennessee. From The Farm’s website: What is The Farm? The Farm community is a cooperative enterprise of families and friends living on three square miles in southern middle Tennessee. We […]]]>

“40 Years on the Farm” documentary from Randy Rudder on Vimeo.

This documentary chronicles the history of The Farm, America’s oldest hippie commune, located in Summertown,Tennessee.

From The Farm’s website:

What is The Farm?

The Farm community is a cooperative enterprise of families and friends living on three square miles in southern middle Tennessee. We started The Farm in hopes of establishing a strongly cohesive, outwardly-directed community, a base from which we could, by action and example, have a positive effect on the world as a whole. Learn more about the History of The Farm, and The Farm Today.

Where is The Farm?

The Farm was settled near Summertown, Tennessee on 1750 acres of rolling hilltops. It is 30 miles from the nearest hospital, 50 miles from the nearest interstate highway, and 75 miles from the nearest major city. It is also 35 miles from the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.

The early community settlement was built entirely from salvaged, recycled, and local materials. A $1 road grader cut the roads, and a $1 railroad tower provided the public water supply. Scrapped school buses and army tents provided shelter from below-zero temperatures until the sawmill could begin milling native oak and salvage crews could harvest old tobacco barns, factories, and condemned houses.

On a budget of $1 per person per day and no grants, no foodstamps, and no welfare – the original 320 settlers bought the land, erected the buildings, and became agriculturally self-sufficient within 4 years.

Why Tennessee?

In the mid-1960s, many people went through a cultural change that took them away from their roots and cast them adrift, searching for something better. Disillusioned by the Vietnam War, disturbed by increasing violence and injustice in the nation, encouraged by the successes of the Civil Rights movements, and empowered by the strength of their numbers – many gravitated toward the West Coast looking for alternatives. A hysterical nation reacted to the Hippies by pursuing them in their homes and workplaces, and locking them up in prison – where many remain today. In 1970, a caravan of more than 300 of us left California to start an experimental community where our ideals could find expression in our daily lives. At $70 an acre, Tennessee gave us access to a large amount of land at an affordable price.

What are our religious beliefs?

The Farm is a nondenominational church. We like to call ourselves “free thinkers”, because we discuss religion and philosophy in terms that do not exclude any possibilities. People come to The Farm from a variety of religious traditions and disciplines, and find those views treated with honor and respect. While individual practices may vary, our group practice is an on-going, free-ranging discussion. We consider ourselves to be a spiritual community. In keeping with our deep reverence for life, we are pacifists, conscientious objectors, and most of us are vegetarians. On Sunday mornings many of us like to gather for group.

Read more about The Farm here.

Watch Kindred editor, Lisa Reagan, and her interview with Ina May Gaskin and Stephen Gaskin below:

On Being “Technicolor Amish” – a video interview with Stephen and Ina May Gaskin

Read and view all of Ina May Gaskin’s posts on Kindred here.

 

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Plastics and the Health of Children and Mothers https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/02/plastics-and-the-health-of-children-and-mothers/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/02/plastics-and-the-health-of-children-and-mothers/#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 04:06:53 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=22380 Plastics enter the human body through skin, ingestion, and breathing dust. Kyra Sarazen* is co-author We live lives of convenience. We can buy and throw things away without much trouble. Fossil fuels power manufacturing and contribute to an enormous amount of plastic. Our throwaway lifestyle is considered a sign of progress. Is it? It turns […]]]>

Plastics enter the human body through skin, ingestion, and breathing dust.

Kyra Sarazen* is co-author

We live lives of convenience. We can buy and throw things away without much trouble. Fossil fuels power manufacturing and contribute to an enormous amount of plastic. Our throwaway lifestyle is considered a sign of progress. Is it?

It turns out that we are exposed to more chemicals than ever before in history, both in the air we breathe, water we drink and the products we use. Most of the tens of thousands of chemicals we’re exposed to are not regulated (see The Secret History of the War on Cancer). Some of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means that they can enter our bodies and alter hormone activity, neurobiological development and overall wellbeing (Berger et al., 2015).

Here is one example. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the third most widely produced plastic in the environment. We are constantly exposed to it inhalation of PVC dust, ingestion (in water and food) or through touch (entering the skin).

Two populations that are particularly at risk from plastic’s effects include children and pregnant women.

Children

From a developmental standpoint, we are born highly immature with many systems to be developed after birth. These include self-regulatory systems, such as the ability to regulate body temperature, metabolism, sleep cycles and heart rate. In order for our brains to develop these systems, we need attuned caregivers who keep us in optimal arousal while these systems complete themselves.  Our early social and physical environments determine how effectively and efficiently these systems develop, making infancy a critical time in development. If the foundation for healthy brain development is not laid at an early age, there will be downstream effects that can impact the health and happiness of the child throughout life.

Chemicals in a child’s surroundings are part of the environment that shapes the expression of genes and the trajectory of the child’s life. Toxins that children come in contact with can have long-term consequences on their wellbeing. We focus on PVC.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Exposure in Childhood

PVC is used in the making of plastic toys and teethers, which means that many infants come in contact with it on a daily basis. PVC can leach out of toys and be ingested when the infant puts the toy in the mouth, enabling it to enter the bloodstream (Berger et al. 2015). Once in the child’s body, PVC may alter neurobiological development, possibly undermining growth hormones, sex hormones and hormones linked to appetite and satiety, leading to obesity (Berger et al. 2015).

PVC has also been detected in school supplies, like folders, binders and backpacks, indicating that not only are infants at risk of exposure but so are our school-aged kids

In addition to being an endocrine disruptor, PVC has been found to play a role in allergies and asthma. More specifically, the phthalate molecule of PVC has the capacity to seep out of plastic toys and settle in water, soil, dust or food (Jaakkola & Knight, 2008). The presence of the toxin in the environment can then enter airways and produce unwanted effects. These effects include irritation of the airways and lungs, which can lead to asthma (ibid). Furthermore, phthalate can act as an allergen and cause allergic reactions when inhaled (ibid).

Other Plastics, Other Effects

Over the course of the 20th century, synthetic plastics became ubiquitous, but few studies have been done to examine not only the effects of their components but their combined effects. Several other plastics are known to damage health. Bisphenol-A (BPA, a flexible plastic used in plastic bottles and toys) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBEs, used in electronics and textiles as a flame retardant) disrupt the endocrine system in fetuses and children (as well as adults), causing obesity and other health problems (Davis, 2007; Schrader-Frechette, 2007).  The components of PVC (e.g., phthalates) and other plastics can enter the placenta and cause epigenetic changes in the fetus such as endocrine disruption.

Other plastics can have endocrine disruption effects, too:

  • “Chemicals that mimic or antagonize the actions of naturally occurring estrogens are defined as having estrogenic activity (EA)” and “chemicals having EA can produce many health-related problems, such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity, altered sex-specific behaviors, and increased rates of some breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers.” (See the whole article here; See a summary of the article here).

There is now evidence that BPA also affects social functioning, decreasing social capacities over multiple generations in mice (Wang et al., 2016; Wolstenholme et al., 2012). Withdrawal from social connection is a plague among US adults, associated with health problems and early death (Cacioppo et al., 2007).

It is unknown if PVC has such social effects, but anything that decreases a sense of wellbeing can influence our ability to cooperate and be open with others (Narvaez, 2014). Early life is the timeframe for developing trusting relationships with others so we behave cooperatively throughout life. Postnatal life must be nurturing to build the neurobiological structures needed. Endocrine disrupters could undermine the development of sociality in impairing our sense of wellbeing and openness to others.

What can we do?

We live in a world of plastic, but by being informed consumers, we can help to protect vulnerable populations in order to improve the wellbeing of all those in our communities. Here are some steps to take:

  • Support organizations and policies that seek to limit the usage of EA plastics (e.g., Plastic Pollution Coalition).
  • Instead of giving children plastic toys, provide them with toys made from wood or other natural materials.
  • Use alternative products (for ideas).
  • Support green chemistry.

See also (from pubmed):

Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Konieczna A et al. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. (2015)

Fetal origin of endocrine dysfunction in the adult: the phthalate model. Martinez-Arguelles DB et al. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2013)

PVC flooring at home and development of asthma among young children in Sweden, a 10-year follow-up. Shu H et al. Indoor Air. (2014)

PVC flooring at home and uptake of phthalates in pregnant women.

The effects of phthalates in the cardiovascular and reproductive systems: A review.

*Kyra Sarazen is a student at the University of Notre Dame

References

Anway, M.D., & Skinner, M.K. (2005). Epigenetic transgenerational actions of endocrine disruptors.  Endocrinology, 147(6) (Supplement):S43–S49.

Anway, M.D., Cupp, A.S., Uzumcu, M., & Skinner, M.K. (2005). Epigenetic transgenerational actions of endocrine disruptors and male fertility. Science, 308(5727), 1466-1469. doi: 10.1126/science.1108190

Berger, E., Potouridis, T., Haeger, A., Püttmann, W., & Wagner, M. (2015). Effect‐directed identification of endocrine disruptors in plastic baby teethers. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 35(11), 1254-1261.

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., Crawford, L.E., Ernst, J.M., Burleson, M.H., Kowalewski, R.B., & Berntson, G.G. (2002). Loneliness and health: Potential mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 407-417.

Davis, D. (2007). The secret history of the war on cancer. New York: Basic Books.

Narvaez, D. (2008). Triune ethics: The neurobiological roots of our multiple moralities. New Ideas in Psychology, 26(1), 95-119.

Jaakkola, J., & Knight, T. (2008). The role of exposure to phthalates from polyvinyl chloride products in the development of asthma and allergies: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(7), 845-853.

Marie, C. P., Hamlaoui, S., Lémery, D., Vendittelli, F., Sauvant-Rochat, M., Bernard, L., . . . Sautou, V. (2017). Exposure of hospitalised pregnant women to plasticizers contained in medical devices. BMC Women’s Health, 17(1), .

Shrader-Frechette, K. (2007). Taking action, saving lives: Our duties to protect environmental and public health. New York: Oxford University Press.

Strakovsky, R., Schantz, S., & Dolinoy, D. (2018). Impacts of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalate exposures on epigenetic outcomes in the human placenta. Environmental Epigenetics, 4(3), Dvy022.

Wang R, Xu X, Weng H, Yan S, Sun Y. (2016). Effects of early pubertal exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate on social behavior of mice. Horm Behav. 2016 Apr;80:117-124. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.01.012

Wolstenholme, J.T., Edwards, M., Shetty, S.R.J., Gatewood, J.D., Taylor, J.A. Rissman, E.F. & Connelly, J.J. (2012). Gestational exposure to bisphenol a produces transgenerational changes in behaviors and gene expression. Neuroendocrinology, 153(8), 1-11. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1195

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Prenatal Exposure To Toxins: An Educational Video For New Parents https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/07/prenatal-exposure-to-toxins-an-educational-video-for-new-parents/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/07/prenatal-exposure-to-toxins-an-educational-video-for-new-parents/#respond Mon, 09 Jul 2018 22:34:16 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=21633 How and where we live, work, play and socialize influence our physical and mental health every day throughout our lives. Healthy natural and built environments, good nutrition, regular exercise, positive social interaction, stress reduction and avoidance of toxic exposures can help create the conditions for health across the lifespan. Young adults and prospective parents are […]]]>


How and where we live, work, play and socialize influence our physical and mental health every day throughout our lives. Healthy natural and built environments, good nutrition, regular exercise, positive social interaction, stress reduction and avoidance of toxic exposures can help create the conditions for health across the lifespan. Young adults and prospective parents are a key audience for messaging on how and why to choose safer practices and products to reduce environmental exposures and enhance lifelong health for themselves and for their children.

This project “Improving Environmental Health Literacy of Young Adults” is intended to create awareness of the role of pre-conception and prenatal environmental influences on the development of childhood leukemia and other diseases including developmental disabilities, asthma, and reproductive health.

Here, we feature two projects developed by our team to educate young couples on environmental toxicants that can impact the health of their children, even before conception. These materials are based on the Story of Health eBook.

This shadow puppet video is a novel health education piece designed to familiarize young couples with environmental toxicants that can affect the health of future infants and children, even before they conceive.

The video was conceived and created by Miranda Kahn for the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment (CIRCLE) at UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

The video is available in both English and Spanish. For more information, see http://circle.berkeley.edu/ and https://wspehsu.ucsf.edu/leukemia

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Make America’s Children Healthy (Again): Part One https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/04/make-americas-children-healthy-again-part-one/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/04/make-americas-children-healthy-again-part-one/#respond Sun, 29 Apr 2018 19:51:43 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=21356 It is habitual for world leaders to point the finger at the disadvantages children face in less economically-advanced nations. It is a way to mobilize attention and resources to mitigate the identified problems. But the finger pointing outward keeps many from examining how economically-advanced nations undermine the health of their own children, especially the USA. It […]]]>

It is habitual for world leaders to point the finger at the disadvantages children face in less economically-advanced nations. It is a way to mobilize attention and resources to mitigate the identified problems.

But the finger pointing outward keeps many from examining how economically-advanced nations undermine the health of their own children, especially the USA. It reminds me of what Jesus said: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5, English Standard Version)

Winner of the William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association in 2015

Don’t get me wrong. Deep economic poverty matters. If you are unable to receive good nutrition to build a healthy body and brain, you cannot flourish. Mother and baby nutrition certainly are important for a child’s health outcomes.

You might assume that US children are doing well enough—so we should focus attention on countries where children don’t get enough to eat. But US kids are often at the bottom of wellbeing measures that compare children in advanced nations. What’s up?

Sticking to nutrition in this series’ post, think of the nutritional issues in the USA. Many mothers eat mostly processed foods (which lack the natural nutrition of unprocessed foods and even contain harmful ingredients like trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar, setting themselves up for less-than-optimal conception and pregnancy. You can’t maintain a healthy body (or build a new one) on junk food. Maternal eating of junk food alters preferences in their offspring.

Then consider the typical nutrition that many middle class and wealthy children in the USA receive. Most children start out with artificial feeding from the beginning of life—a paltry few dozen ingredients that are non-human and in the wrong proportions for our species, unlike breastfeeding which provides species-specific milk of thousands of ingredients tailored to foster optimal growth at the time of feeding. So, the brain, immune system, at the very least do not develop optimally since breast milk has the building blocks for those systems and formula does not.

From the viewpoint of what is species typical and what fosters optimal normal development, artificial formula in infancy is malnourishment. Our ancestral practices until relatively recently was several years of breastfeeding. After the breastfeeding years, our ancestors did not eat three meals a day but ate from the abundance and nutritionally-rich sources of the natural world as they migrated cyclically to find those sources. Even during the last 10,000 years or so of civilization, the materially poor usually derived good nutrition from their own gardens, hunting and gathering—until in the 16th century these common lands were taken away by the elites who enclosed the lands for their own monetary benefit (see Stoll, 2018).

Can Attachment Needs Help Explain Trump’s Narcissism?

Early feeding practices shape the palate of the child for future food preferences. Most US children miss the changing flavors of breast milk in the first years of life that otherwise shape their palates for a wide ranging set of tastes and an openness to a range of foods.* Instead most US children start off with artificial feeding and then graduate to French fries (the most common first-food of infants) and artificial pabulum of various kinds—happening during the important first years when taste preferences are established. All this undermines an otherwise natural orientation to healthy foods. Junk food seems good enough to children whose palates have not been tuned up well, unlike children raised in conditions of good-palate development, as in France.

As junk food is purveyed around the world, health problems increase. Moreover, toxic chemicals used in processed foods and their packaging are thought to cause various health problems. Actually, industrial neurotoxic chemicals pervade our food, soil, water and air, with implications for our mental health:

Chlorpyrifos [used on fruits and vegetables kids eat, with efforts to ban it] is just one of 12 toxic chemicals Landrigan and Grandjean say are having grim effects on fetal brain development. Their new study is similar to a review the two researchers published in 2006, in the same journal, identifying six developmental neurotoxins. Only now they describe twice the danger: The number of chemicals that they deemed to be developmental neurotoxins had doubled over the past seven years. Six had become 12. Their sense of urgency now approached panic. “Our very great concern,” Grandjean and Landrigan wrote, “is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.”

… Grandjean and Landrigan note in their research that rates of diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and ADHD are increasing, and that neurobehavioral development disorders currently affect 10 to 15 percent of births. They add that “subclinical decrements in brain function”—problems with thinking that aren’t quite a diagnosis in themselves—“are even more common than these neurobehavioral development disorders.”

James Hamblin, author of The Atlantic article excerpts above, noted that the cause of toxicity in food and other products was “a broken system that allows industrial chemicals to be used without any significant testing for safety. The greater concern lies in what we’re exposed to and don’t yet know to be toxic.”

So mothers’ and children’s nutrition includes the ingestion of toxic chemicals that undermine child physical and mental health.

If we are going to make America’s children healthy, we need to support breastfeeding, healthy food products and feeding practices, as well as limited use of neurotoxins.

Steps We Can Take

Parents

Text to SUBSCRIBE or click on the image to subscribe with email

Eat and provide organic food as much as possible (which was the norm till about the mid-20th century)

Set up your lives to make extensive breastfeeding possible (at least two years according to recommendations from the World Health Organization; at least one year according to the American Academy of Pediatrics); 6 months exclusive breastfeeding is recommended.

Around 6 months, allow a child to test regular table food as a means to expand their palate—let them try things out as they will. Give them healthy choices and let them pick.

Everyone

Support mothers breastfeeding wherever you are.

Support paid parental leave for at least one year so that children can be breastfed.

Support breast milk provision alternatives which are part of our heritage.

Orient to meeting children’s basic needs as part of society’s responsibility.

Policymakers

Pay attention to the research on how early experience sets up lifelong physical and mental health.

Attend to decreasing toxic chemicals in food, water, soil and air as the European Commission attempts to do (the US used to be the leader here).

Continue to emphasize the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative which is breastfeeding supportive.

 

Photo Shutterstock/Vlad

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Why Use Organic Seed? PLUS Our Fresh Picks for Best Organic Seed Companies! https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/02/our-fresh-picks-for-best-organic-seed-catalogs/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2018/02/our-fresh-picks-for-best-organic-seed-catalogs/#respond Mon, 05 Feb 2018 01:40:08 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/2012/01/our-fresh-picks-for-best-organic-seed-catalogs/ The Growing Demand for Organic Seed Who owns seed?  Check out the image to the left to see the seriousness of the seed monopoly, and therefore the monopoly of our food supply, as it has evolved over the last 100 years. Below you will find the seed catalogs that I have grown up with as […]]]>

The Growing Demand for Organic Seed

seed-saving-graphicWho owns seed?  Check out the image to the left to see the seriousness of the seed monopoly, and therefore the monopoly of our food supply, as it has evolved over the last 100 years.

Below you will find the seed catalogs that I have grown up with as a home gardener, an organic CSA farmer, and, eventually, a biodynamic gardener.  I am especially fond of Baker Creek Seeds, as I remember their first colorful and homey catalog with Jere Gettle’s passion for seed collecting jumping off of every page in 1998, the year I was gardening with a toddler in tow.  I have followed him and his young family on their world wide trips (Jere is known as the Indiana Jones of seed collecting) and even visited the Baker Creek Seed Bank in Petaluma, California in 2012.

Before turning my small Virginia earth into a Community Supported Agriculture farm in 2004, I was trained by one of four certified Ecology Action’s GROW BIOINTENSIVE instructors in the country at a community college an hour from my home. A decade later, Cindy Conner, my teacher, brought her considerable knowledge and wisdom of growing to feed your family, and others, in her books, Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth, and Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People. You can visit Cindy on her Homeplace Earth website.

As Cindy writes in the description of her book, Seed Libraries:

Historically, seed companies were generally small, often family-run businesses. Because they were regionally based, they could focus on varieties well-suited to the local environment. A Pacific Northwest company, for example, would specialize in different cultivars than a company based in the Southeast. However the absorption of these small, independent seed businesses into large multinationals, combined with the advancement of biotechnology resulting in hybrids and GMO seeds, has led to a serious loss of genetic diversity. The public is now at the mercy of the corporations that control the seeds.

In the past few years, gardeners have realized the inherent danger in this situation. A growing movement is striving to preserve and expand our stock of heritage and heirloom varieties through seed saving and sharing opportunities. Seed Libraries is a practical guide to saving seeds through community programs, including:

  • Step-by-step instructions for setting up a seed library
  • A wealth of ideas to help attract patrons and keep the momentum going
  • Profiles of existing libraries and other types of seed saving partnerships

Whoever controls the seeds controls the food supply. By empowering communities to preserve and protect the genetic diversity of their harvest, Seed Libraries is the first step towards reclaiming our self-reliance while enhancing food security and ensuring that the future of food is healthy, vibrant, tasty, and nutritious.

Notice below how all of these organic seed catalogs have “stories” about people who are tied to the land and are passionate about caring for the earth… all except for Seeds of Change at the bottom of the list.  I have included them because they are so prolific, but really, discover for yourself the inspirational efforts to preserve our food supply’s integrity by these individuals and companies and decide for yourself who you want to support.

Lisa Reagan, Editor

Read Lisa’s stories on food and farming, Beyond Sustainability: The Regenerative Promise of Biodynamics, Mindfully Growing Greens, Winter Salad Harvest: Or Mindlessly Growing Greens and The Future of Food.

Find Kindred’s Food and Farming Resources (including Shopping Guides)

 

Why Buying and Saving Organic Seed Can Save the Planet

Buy and Save Organic Seed and Save the Planet imageThe loss of heirloom and landrace crop varieties over the last century is well documented. Consolidation in the seed industry, changes in breeding methods and technology, restrictive intellectual property practices, and the loss of wild and farming land to development all contribute to the erosion of the plant genetic materials that are essential to sustaining life.

In addition to this loss in genetics there has been a concurrent loss in the base of knowledge and skills necessary to properly steward and improve plant genetics in a ecologically and ethically sound manner. Farmers, once the primary seed stewards around the globe, have rapidly been removed from the seed circle – no longer participating in plant breeding or conservation. Only a few generations ago, the practices of on-farm seed saving and basic crop improvement were not only common, but necessary.

While university and private sector involvement in seed systems has provided much gain, it has also created a field of specialization that has left the farmer as an “end-user” of a product instead of an active participant in building and maintaining plant genetic health and diversity. The diversity of our domesticated plant genetics – flavor, color, abundance, nutrition – is a direct result of the relationship between farmers and their crops. The unhealthy trends in seed systems put us at risk of losing our seed heritage – and the skills necessary to conserve, reinvigorate and improve this heritage for future generations.  Please watch the video below for a better understand and “in the field” look at organic seeds:

From the Organic Seed Alliance.


Our Fresh Picks for Organic Seed Companies

Jere Gettle always had a passion for growing things, and at age three, he planted his first garden. Ever since that day, he wanted to be involved in the seed industry. So at the age of 17, he printed the first small Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog in 1998. The company has grown to offer 1300 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of heirloom varieties in the U.S.A.

Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties. The company has become a tool to promote and preserve agricultural and culinary heritage. Our company and seeds have been featured in The New York Times, the Associated Press, Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart, and many others. Gardeners can request a free 196-page color catalog that now mails to 310,000 gardeners nationally. (Click on the image to open the free 2018 PDF version.)

Baker Creek started hosting festivals in 2000 as an idea to bring gardeners, homesteaders and natural food enthusiasts together to exchange thoughts, seeds, listen to speakers and enjoy vendors, old-time music and much more. These festivals gave birth to the idea for our pioneer village, Bakersville. Other projects include our trial gardens, seed collecting expeditions, our popular online forums at idigmygarden.com and educational produce exhibits.

Baker Creek wants you to know:

All of our seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.

We do not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. We boycott all gene-altering companies. We are not members of the pro-GMO American Seed Trade Organization! We work with a network of about 100 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers to bring you the best selection of seeds available! Many of our varieties we sell were collected by us on our travels abroad.

We offer over 1300 fine varieties! Unique seeds from 70 countries!

 

Seed Savers Exchange

The Seed Savers Exchange conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.Seed Savers Exchange takes threats to biodiversity seriously. We maintain a collection of more than 20,000 heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and plant varieties, including over 1,000 varieties of heritage apple trees. We take great care to ensure the health and viability of our collection for generations of growers to come. We keep the bulk of our collection in an underground freezer vault at Heritage Farm.

Ex situ preservation is what we call the practice of protecting seeds in genebanks and in situ preservation is the work you do in your back yard.Gardeners share homegrown seeds with one another through our seed exchange. The seed exchange is available online and in print to encourage seed savers of all generations to participate.

Visit Seed Savers Exchange. Download SSE’s 2018 Seed Catalog.

Territorial Seed Company

Territorial Seed Company is a privately held company, wholly owned by Tom and Julie Johns. The first Territorial Seed catalog was written in the fall of 1979. The earliest seed-production crops were grown in isolation within neighbors’ backyards; including an open-pollinated Brussels sprout, a heirloom cranberry bean, and Lorane fava bean cover crop seed. In wintertime, the mail-order seed business operated in a drafty warehouse, where customers waited their turn on the telephone party line and neighbors who seasonally helped in the warehouse, took turns chopping kindling to keep the woodstove stoked.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Like anything grown from seed, the company known as Johnny’s Selected Seeds had the smallest of beginnings. It put down its first roots in relative obscurity in spring 1973, when founder Rob Johnston, Jr. at age 22, and with $500.00 in savings, started the fledgling seed company in a New Hampshire farmhouse attic, moving in the fall to his parents’ home in Acton, Massachusetts.

In 2003, the 30th anniversary for Johnny’s Selected Seeds, the company opened the Catalog Store. The store, located at 955 Benton Avenue, Winslow, ME offers a physical location where customers can shop and experience Johnny’s top-notch customer service.

In 2006, Johnny’s launched an employee ownership program, with Johnston and his wife, Janika Eckert selling shares to an Employee Stock Ownership Trust. The employees currently own one third of the company’s stock and are on track for 100% ownership by 2016. Looking forward, the future for Johnny’s is bright, and the company will continue, as it always has, to focus on providing customers with the best products, information, research and service.

Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seeds

Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seeds are a small non-profit seed company that sells 100% open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seeds, all grown using biodynamic and organic practices both in our own seed garden and by other farmers and gardeners who use biodynamic methods. All our seed is non-gmo, non-hybrid, never treated, and grown without the use of chemical inputs. We are a part of a Camphill Village in Copake, NY, an intentional community, which includes people with developmental disabilites. People of all abilities help with growing, cleaning and packing our seeds. Our Mission includes growing and distributing high quality open-pollinated, biodynamically and organically grown vegetable, herb and flower seeds, and encouraging and eduacating people who want to grow and save open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

Fedco Seed

Fedco is a cooperative, one of the few seed companies so organized in the United States. Because we do not have an individual owner or beneficiary, profit is not our primary goal. Consumers own 60% of the cooperative and worker members 40%. Consumer and worker members share proportionately in the cooperative’s profits through our annual patronage dividends.

Our cooperative structure gives workers a real voice in running the company and a real stake in its success, enabling us to attract and retain talented workers. Year after year our staff turnover has been very low. The cooperative ethic recognizes that we are all in this together. What is good for our managers should be good for our workers and good for our customers and vice versa.  Beginning from a Maine base with 98 orders the first year, after 30 years we now serve growers in all 50 states, filling over 24,000 orders totaling $3 million annually.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange started in 1982 as an outgrowth of a love affair with heirloom varieties and in seed saving. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange had its beginning in a small family garden and a kitchen co-opted for seed processing. The kitchen garden has since expanded to numerous growing areas supplemented by a nationwide seed grower network. Now the seed company has its own office, germination testing facility, and environmentally controlled seed storage areas. From the beginning we have believed that our seed company serves: (1) as a source for new, high performance varieties, and (2) most importantly, as a preservation tool for collecting and distributing varieties with special qualities: varieties with heritage, flavor, disease resistance, or other qualities of interest to gardeners.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is located near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in the gently rolling foothills of Central Virginia, USA, and offers more than 700 varieties of vegetableflowerherbgrain and cover crop seeds. We emphasize varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, although gardeners and farmers from all over the country grow our seeds. We do extensive germination and purity testing to ensure that we always provide the highest quality possible.

Botanical Interests

Curtis and Judy started Botanical Interests because they believed that gardeners were not getting the information they needed from their seed packets. Their desire for more information along with their passion for spreading gardening wisdom led them to create a unique seed packet that is not only beautiful, but is also filled with facts, tips, recipes and quality seed.

When they realized that the venerable tradition of American families passing their gardening lore, techniques and even secrets from generation to generation was fading, Curtis and Judy knew they had to help preserve all that knowledge. “At Botanical Interests, we’re helping people reconnect with some of that lost art,” Judy says. Every Botanical Interests seed packet is designed to help gardeners succeed and create their own traditions. Featuring gorgeous botanical artists’ renderings of each variety, every packet provides a wealth of information, inside and out. “I like to say that we’re a gardening education company that just happens to sell seeds,” Curtis says. “Our packets are like mini-encyclopedias, full of information to inspire and assist every type of gardener.”

High Mowing Organic Seeds

High Mowing Organic Seeds began in 1996 with just 28 varieties. After tilling up a portion of his backyard and turning his shed into a seed packing area, founder Tom Stearns had no trouble selling the seed he grew that first year. Suddenly, what had started as a hobby became a practical business pursuit, as Tom realized the growing and unmet demand for organic seed.  This demand allowed Tom to expand the business beyond his backyard, renting parcels of land to produce the seed he was selling through a hand-made catalog.  By 2001, business had grown to such an extent that Tom began to contract with other local farms to grow seed, in addition to continuing to produce seed himself on High Mowing’s own 5 acres.

High Mowing Organic Seeds has grown exponentially, and what started as a one-man operation is now a thriving business making available to home gardeners and commercial growers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seed. True to our roots, High Mowing Organic Seeds continues to grow many of the varieties we sell on our 40 acre farm, setting us apart from the majority of other seed companies.

Seeds of Change

Even though they are now owned by the Mars, Inc, company, Seeds of Change says they have remained true to their original vision by offering the largest selection of organic seeds in the industry, including heirloom, traditional, and rare seeds. “Our seeds are produced through a network of certified organic family farms and professional growers. Through these partnerships, we continually cultivate study and develop seeds with the goal of producing the finest certified organic, open-pollinated varieties to share with our fellow gardeners and farmers. Each year, we collect data and conduct evaluation on all of our Seeds of Change varieties of seed. Our research and testing provide confidence in the quality of our seed and ensure high germination rates that produce healthy, hardy plants.”

 

Seed Saving and Exchange Resources

Enjoy these resources for seed saving and the Organic Seed Alliance’s explanation below for why it is necessary to purchase organic seed.  Skip to the video if you are a visual learner!

Find out the Organic Seed Alliance’s strategy for preserving biodiversity through uncorrupted seed and meeting the growing demand for organic seed. Download the State of Organic Seed Report for free.

Visit and support the Organic Seed Alliance.

Save Your Own Seed!  Download this free guide from OSA, A Seed Saving Guide for Gardeners and Farmers.

Join a Seed Savers Exchange and perhaps your home garden seeds could end up in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where over 600,000 seeds are stored in “the ultimate safety deposit box for biodiversity and global food supply preservation… The Svalbard Global Seed Vault offers protection against permanent loss due to natural disasters, wars, equipment failures, accidents, and loss of funding that can plague even the best gene banks.”

Save a Tree and Download many of these catalogs at their websites, or just order the seeds online.  Where possible, I have included a link to the downloadable, pdf or online version of the catalog.

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Why Capitalism Makes Us Sick – Video With Gabor Maté, MD https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/10/capitalism-makes-us-sick-video-gabor-mate/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/10/capitalism-makes-us-sick-video-gabor-mate/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:27:18 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=20742 Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and is also widely recognized for his perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health. He has authored four books exploring topics including attention deficit disorder, stress, developmental psychology […]]]>


Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and is also widely recognized for his perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health. He has authored four books exploring topics including attention deficit disorder, stress, developmental psychology and addiction. He is a regular columnist for the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail.

On Capitalism, Addiction and Recovery

Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to these complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. With over 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience and extensive knowledge of the latest findings of leading-edge research, Dr. Maté is a sought-after speaker and teacher, regularly addressing health professionals, educators, and lay audiences throughout North America.

As an author, Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress; and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, and co-authored Hold on to Your Kids. His works have been published internationally in twenty languages.

Dr. Maté is the co-founder of Compassion for Addiction, a non-profit that focusses on addiction. He is also an advisor of Drugs over Dinner.

Dr. Maté has received the Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction; an Honorary Degree (Law) from the University of Northern British Columbia; an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University; and the 2012 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from Mothers Against Teen Violence. He is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.

 

Photo Shutterstock/nuvolanevicata

 

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Normal Is Over – A New Documentary Film https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/07/normal-new-documentary-film/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/07/normal-new-documentary-film/#respond Sat, 29 Jul 2017 17:10:53 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=20513 Normal Is Over The Movie (103)_ENG from ReneeScheltema on Vimeo. Award-winning feature documentary about humanity’s wisest responses to climate change, species extinction, resource depletion and the widening gap between the rich and poor. First film connecting the dots: A look at the financial and economical paradigm underlying our planetary problems, while offering various SOLUTIONS to […]]]>

Normal Is Over The Movie (103)_ENG from ReneeScheltema on Vimeo.

Award-winning feature documentary about humanity’s wisest responses to climate change, species extinction, resource depletion and the widening gap between the rich and poor.

Book a screening from anywhere in the world for your local community.

First film connecting the dots: A look at the financial and economical paradigm underlying our planetary problems, while offering various SOLUTIONS to reverse the path of global decline.

Normal Is Over is a compelling and visually rich film directed by award-winning and investigative journalist Renée

Her film chronicles the way humans have inadvertently imperiled our planet: species extinction, climate change, the depletion of critical natural resources, and industrial control of our food production.
This unique documentary examines how our economic and financial system connects these issues, and offers SOLUTIONS, which could be implemented immediately; from practical everyday fixes to rethinking the overarching myths of our time.

With an open mind Renée investigates the cause, and symptoms of our crisis while offering hope. She meets experts, and pioneers all over the world, trying to stave off global decline. They concentrate on matters such as ecological economics, organic agriculture, renewable energy, saving species, reducing our carbon footprints, and sustainable finance.

The film mixes accurate, relevant content with humor, and suggests ways how we can take positive practical action and change our lifestyles for future generations.

Featuring among others:
Prof. Lester Brown, Agricultural Economist. Prof. Michael Mann, Meteorologist. Prof. Naomi Oreskes, History of Science. Dr. Vandana Shiva, Environmental activist. Charles Eisenstein, Author. Paul Gilding, Social Activist, Al Gore, Prof. Bernard Lietaer, International Finance and many more “keystone individuals”

Testimonials:

“Smart, different and compelling … An educational journey about money and the planet we should all go on” – Andy Ridley, Co-Founder Earth Hour, and Managing Director.

“A catalyst for changing the world, and a must for every decision maker in this world”. -Professor Michael Braungart. Co-founder Cradle-2-Cradle.

“Honored to be part of powerfull new film on climate change & sustainability. “
-Distinguished Professor Michael Mann, Meteorology, Penn State University.

“I’ve attended ..many.. film festivals, and I can’t think of a film that has impressed me as much as yours did, nor received a standing ovation”. -Steve Nicola, Biologist.

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Drinking Diet Drinks During Pregnancy Linked To Child Obesity https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/06/drinking-diet-drinks-pregnancy-linked-child-obesity/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/06/drinking-diet-drinks-pregnancy-linked-child-obesity/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 22:17:14 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=20415 Children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank at least one artificially sweetened beverage per day during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 7, compared to children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank water instead of artificially sweetened beverages, according to a study led by […]]]>

Children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank at least one artificially sweetened beverage per day during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 7, compared to children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank water instead of artificially sweetened beverages, according to a study led by researchers at HMHB. Childhood obesity is known to increase the risk for certain health problems later in life, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. The study appears online in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

According to the study authors, as the volume of amniotic fluid increases, pregnant women tend to increase their consumption of fluids. To avoid extra calories, many pregnant women replace sugar-sweetened soft drinks and juices with beverages containing artificial sweeteners. Citing prior research implicating artificially sweetened beverages in weight gain, the study authors sought to determine if diet beverage consumption during pregnancy could influence the weight of children.

“Our findings suggest that artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages,” said the study’s senior author, Cuilin Zhang, Ph.D., in the Epidemiology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Not surprisingly, we also observed that children born to women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to be obese by age 7.”

The researchers analyzed data collected from 1996 to 2002 by the Danish National Birth Cohort, a long-term study of pregnancies among more than 91,000 women in Denmark. At the 25th week of pregnancy, the women completed a detailed questionnaire on the foods they ate. The study also collected data on the children’s weight at birth and at 7 years old.

In the current study, the NICHD team limited their analysis to data from more than 900 pregnancies that were complicated by gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy, as reported by HMHB.

Approximately 9 percent of these women reported consuming at least one artificially sweetened beverage each day. Their children were 60 percent more likely to have a high birth weight, compared to children born to women who never drank sweetened beverages. At age 7, children born to mothers who drank an artificially sweetened beverage daily were nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese.

Consuming a daily artificially sweetened beverage appeared to offer no advantages over consuming a daily sugar-sweetened beverage. At age 7, children born to both groups were equally likely to be overweight or obese. However, women who substituted water for sweetened beverages reduced their children’s obesity risk at age 7 by 17 percent.

It is not well understood why drinking artificially sweetened beverages compared to drinking water may increase obesity risk. The authors cited an animal study that associated weight gain with changes in the types of bacteria and other microbes in the digestive tract. Another animal study suggested that artificial sweeteners may increase the ability of the intestines to absorb the blood sugar glucose. Other researchers found evidence in rodents that, by stimulating taste receptors, artificial sweeteners desensitized the animals’ digestive tracts, so that they felt less full after they ate and were more likely to overeat.

The authors caution that more research is necessary to confirm and expand on their current findings. Although they could account for many other factors that might influence children’s weight gain, such as breastfeeding, diet and physical activity levels, their study couldn’t definitively prove that maternal artificially sweetened beverage consumption caused the children to gain weight. The authors mention specifically the need for studies that use more contemporary data, given recent upward trends in the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. They also call for additional investigation on the effects of drinking artificially sweetened beverages among high-risk racial/ethnic groups.

###

Zhu, Y., et al. Maternal consumption of artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy, and offspring growth through 7 years of age: a prospective cohort study. Int J Epidemiol.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyx095

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD’s website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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May Is Food Allergy Month – Get the Facts On Food Allergies And Share The Data https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/05/may-food-allergy-month-get-facts-food-allergies-share-data/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/05/may-food-allergy-month-get-facts-food-allergies-share-data/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 16:38:25 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=20169 May is Food Allergy Awareness Month. As millions of families raise awareness of this life-threatening condition, you also have to pause and reflect on the fact that so few of us knew anyone with a food allergy when we were kids. I didn’t, so eleven years ago, when a plate of scrambled eggs changed my […]]]>

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month. As millions of families raise awareness of this life-threatening condition, you also have to pause and reflect on the fact that so few of us knew anyone with a food allergy when we were kids.

I didn’t, so eleven years ago, when a plate of scrambled eggs changed my life, I was totally unaware.

That morning, I thought nothing about the blue yogurt I’d put out for breakfast for my four little kids or the plate of scrambled eggs.

Not until our youngest started to fuss. I thought she was tired, so I put her down for a nap. For some reason, which I still can not explain, I went to check on her, and her face was swollen shut. I raced her to the emergency room.

“This looks like an allergic reaction,” the pediatrician said. “What did you feed the kids for breakfast?” And she started rattling off data on food allergies. The condition now impacts 1 in 13 kids, 2 kids in every classroom. A life threatening allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S. once every three minutes. My heart raced as I watched my baby struggle to breathe, and as we got her under control, I wanted to understand what was happening: why do so many American children now have food allergies?

Nothing could have prepared me for what I would uncover.

Before having kids, I worked in the world of finance. I’d been an equity analyst on a team that managed $20 billion in assets. I was the only woman on the team, and I covered the food industry. I understood why the food industry had removed real ingredients from their products and replaced them with fake ones: it drove margins and profitability.

But I’d never thought to ask what all of this was doing to the health of our families.

From 1997-2007, the rate of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions increased 265%, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Today, the auto-injector device, EpiPen, is now a $1+ billion brand, and its manufacturer, Mylan, has profited enormously from the condition. They have hiked the price of the drug over 500% in the U.S. market to over $600. It sells for about $100 in other countries. In the fall of 2016, families came together to demand action in what is now known as #epigate. Congressional hearings occurred, but families are still struggling to afford the device, even as Mylan initiated a global recall.

If the food allergy community were a state, it would be the 5th largest state in the U.S. by population – right after California, Texas, New York and Florida.

The number of people with food allergies in the U.S. is greater than the entire populations of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

The number of people with peanut allergy in the United States more than quadrupled since 1997. And it isn’t just peanuts, milk, soy, corn and other allergies are all increasing at record rates. Genetics don’t change this quickly, so what has?

Researchers reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that the costs of food allergies, from medical care to food to pharmaceuticals is $4,184 per child per year, costing our economy $25 billion, including lost productivity.

To discount this condition in any way is irresponsible.

Thankfully, not everyone is.

Mondelez, formerly known as Kraft, recently acquired Enjoy Life Foods, a well-loved brand in the allergy space.

The plan is to grow it into a billion dollar brand. The company is free from genetically engineered ingredients, allergens and artificial additives.

In the United States, we are quickly learning that our food supply contains a lot of ingredients that simply did not exist when we were kids – from artificial food dyes and artificial growth hormones, to excess levels of pesticides now used on genetically engineered foods (GMOs). But it isn’t like this in other countries, and our own American corporations don’t use these ingredients in the products they sell overseas.

That double standard is tough to swallow.

So are we allergic to food or are we allergic to what’s been done to it in America?

With no labels on things like GMOs in the U.S., the biotech industry is able to claim that there is not a single documented case of these foods ever causing harm. There is no evidence without labels, because there is no traceability – there is just the escalating rates of allergic diseases in our families.

Correlation is not causation, but as a growing number of consumers opt out of these artificial and genetically engineered ingredients, companies are, too. Target, Costco, Chipotle, Kroger, General Mills and Cheerios have responded to this demand for “free-from” food and are producing more foods free-from allergens, artificial dyes, GMOs and artificial ingredients.

It can’t happen fast enough.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that living in the United States increases your risk of allergic disease “significantly.”

“Children born outside the United States had significantly lower prevalence of any allergic diseases (20.3%) than those born in the United States (34.5%),” said the study led by Jonathan Silverberg of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

According to Reuters and Dr. Ruchi Gupta, who studies allergies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “Food allergies have increased tremendously,” she told Reuters Health. “We do see people who come from other countries don’t tend to have it.”

So are we allergic to food or to what’s been done to it in America? Especially as other countries take precautions that we haven’t and keep things like GMOs out?

The skyrocketing number of American dealing with food allergies should serve as an alarm to rethink our food.

Food allergies are not a “niche” just as cancer is not a fad.

It’s time to #rethinkfood. The future of our country, our military and our economy depends on it.

 

Photo Shutterstock/Kirill_Karov

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How The Microbiome Destroyed The Ego, Vaccine Policy And Patriarchy https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/11/how-the-microbiome-destroyed-the-ego-vaccine-policy-and-patriarchy/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/11/how-the-microbiome-destroyed-the-ego-vaccine-policy-and-patriarchy/#respond Sun, 22 Nov 2015 19:49:02 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=17336 The relatively recent discovery of the microbiome is not only completely redefining what it means to be human, to have a body, to live on this earth, but is overturning belief systems and institutions that have enjoyed global penetrance for centuries. A paradigm shift has occurred, so immense in implication, that the entire frame of […]]]>

The relatively recent discovery of the microbiome is not only completely redefining what it means to be human, to have a body, to live on this earth, but is overturning belief systems and institutions that have enjoyed global penetrance for centuries.

A paradigm shift has occurred, so immense in implication, that the entire frame of reference for our species’ self-definition, as well as how we relate fundamentally to concepts like “germs,” have been transformed beyond recognition. This shift is underway and yet, despite popular interest in our gut ecology, the true implications remain unacknowledged.

It started with the discovery of the microbiome, a deceptively diminutive term, referring to an unfathomably complex array of microscopic microorganisms together weighing only 3-4 lbs. in the average human, represents a Copernican revolution when it comes to forming the new center, genetically and epigenetically, of what it means in biological terms to be human.

Considering the sheer density of genetic information contained within these commensals, as well as their immense contribution towards sustaining basic functions like digestion, immunity, and brain function, the “microbiome” could just as well be relabeled the “macrobiome”; that is, if we are focusing on the size of its importance rather than physical dimensionality.

For instance, if you take away the trillions of viruses, bacteria and fungi that coexist with our human cells (the so-called holobiont), only 1% of the genetic material that keeps us ticking, and has for hundreds of millions of years, remains. One percent isn’t that much for the ego to work with, especially considering it now has to thank what were formerly believed to be mostly “infectious agents” for the fact that it exists. Even more perplexing, the remaining 1% of our contributed DNA to the collective gene pool of the holobiont is at least 8% retroviral (yes, the same category as HIV) in origin!

Us Against Them?

Once the object of modern medicine’s fundamental responsibility – the human body – is redefined and/or perceived with greater veracity, and “germs” become less other and more self, a challenge for germ theory which seeks to differentiate between the “good” germs we are versus the “bad” ones out there that we must fight with antibiotics and vaccines.

As many readers are already poignantly aware, today’s political climate and agenda is unilaterally pro-vaccination on both sides of the aisle (conveniently funded by the same industry lobbyists), with a tidal wave of bills across the U.S. set to eliminate exemptions against mandatory vaccination. The rationale, of course, is that deadly germs can only be prevented from killing the presumably germ-free host through injecting dead, weakened or genetically modified germ components to “prevent” theoretical future exposures and infection. This concept is of course intellectually infantile, and if you do some investigating you’ll find it was never quite grounded in compelling evidence or science.

But the intellectual implications of the microbiome go even deeper than undermining germ theory, vaccine policy, and the culture of medical monotheism that upholds these constructs…

Maternal Origins of Health and Ultimately our Species Identity

Kindred New Story Ad Child Pointing V2Deep within the substratum of humanity’s largely unquestioned assumptions of what it means to be human, the microbiome has also fundamentally displaced a latent patriarchal prejudice concerning the relative importance and contribution of the man and woman towards the health and ultimately the continuation of our species.

It has been known for some time that only women pass down mitochondrial DNA, already tipping the scales in favor of her dominant position in contributing genetic information (the seat of our humanity or species identity, no?) to offspring. The microbiome, however, changes everything in favor of amplifying this asymmetry of hereditary influence. Since we are all designed to gestate in the womb and come through the birth canal, and since the neonate’s microbiome is therein derived and established thereof, it follows that most of our genetic information as holobionts is maternal in origin. Even when the original colonization eventually changes and is displaced through environmentally-acquired microbial strains as the infant, child, adolescent, and then adult, develops, the original terrain and subsequent trajectory of changes was established through the mother (unless of course we were C-sectioned into the world).

Put in simpler terms: if 99% of what it means to be human is microbiome-based, and if the mother contributes most, if not all, of the original starting material, or at least the baseline and trajectory of future changes in the inner terrain, then her contribution becomes vastly more important than that of the father.

Moreover, the conditions surrounding gestation (important because of maternal-to-fetal microbiome trafficking in utero), her general health, and the way in which she gives birth (home, birth center, or hospital) now take on vastly greater importance than previously imagined. In other words, being born in a hospital via C-section and vaccination, will produce, genetically and epigenetically, a human that is so different – qualitatively – from one born at home, naturally, that they could almost be classified as different species, despite sharing nearly identical eukaryotic DNA (remember, only 1% of the holobiont’s total).

Given this perspective, obstetric interventions are the archetypal expression of a male-dominated paradigm that seeks to manage a woman’s birth experience with largely unacknowledged consequences for the health of our species. Protecting health and preventing disease has now been traced back to the origins of the microbiome, best expressed through natural birth in the home, which has been estimated to be as much as 1,000 times safer than a hospital birth despite propaganda to the contrary.

In light of the new, microbiome-based view, the male role in protecting the health of women and children will be irrevocably downgraded in importance, not just professionally and medically, but biologically.  First, it is interesting to look at the ancient roots of the biology-based psychospiritual disparities that exist between men and women, and which still influence today’s practice of medicine.

PAHJ Freak-of-Nature GraphicIt would appear that men have from the beginning of time envied the creative role of women in conception, pregnancy, birth and caretaking. Erich Fromm also described the pyschospiritual implications for men of this biologically-based existential disparity in terms of the phenomena of womb-envy, exemplified by the biblical passage where God takes a rib from Adam to “create” Eve – an obvious reversal of the natural order of things, reflecting the inherent impotence men feel knowing their creative potency is secondary importance. It has been said, rightly, that the most powerful thing in the universe is to create life (is this not why we attribute this to “God”), and the second most powerful thing to take it. It is no coincidence that history, since it’s inception as recorded, is largely a documentation of the history of wars, of men “creating meaning” by killing men, and establishing symbol systems intended to capture by proxy the creative power latent within every woman’s body and experience.  And so, 10,000 years later, the world ruled by monotheistic, male-principled religious and cultural systems, both in secular and religious form, it seems that the facts of our biology are now intervening to shake up these largely subconscious belief systems in favor of an ancient truth: women are superior to men, fundamentally. (Though it is not a type of superiority to be used against the “weaker sex”: men, rather but to denote a higher responsibility, and perhaps greater need to be supported by men to get the job done, together, as inscribed in the natural order of things and its inherent design.)

The birth process, also, has been described as the closest thing to death without dying (it is ironic that anesthesiology, which could also be described in the same way, makes obstetrical interventions like C-section and epidural possible, at the same moment that it negates the spiritual experience of natural birth/women’s empowerment we are describing), offering women a window into the ‘in between’ and a direct experience of Source that men, less likely to experience it naturally would later emulate and access through the various technologies of shamanism.

Clearly, protecting the microbiome is of utmost importance if we are making the health of our future generations a priority. Indeed, ensuring the health of our offspring is perhaps the most fundamental evolutionary imperative we have.  How do we accomplish this? What is the microbiome but ultimately a selective array of commensal microorganisms that ultimately originated from the environment: in the air we breath, the soil we interact with, and the water and food, of course, we ingest. This means we can’t simply live in a hermetically sealed bubble of shopping for organic, non-GMO certified foods at Whole Foods, while the entire planet continues to go to post-industrial hell in a hand basket.  Our responsibility becomes distributed across everything in the world, and every impactful choice then becomes relevant to the fundamental issue and imperative at hand. With the microbial biodiversity in Big Ag, GM-based agricultural zones fire-bombed with biocides, by the very same corporations that either own or distribute the “organic brands” we all love to think will save our bodies, if not the planet, we need to step deeper into our activism by stepping out of the diversions and palliative measures that don’t result in lasting change.

When we work with the natural world, when we honor and acknowledge what is unknown about the complex web that we all share, we will bring back a vital health that now seems so far out of reach. When we engage technologies positioned in the war against germs and organisms, however, we are doomed to fail and to cripple not only our species but our home.

Photo Shutterstock/arloo

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