Meat and Milk From Cloning Are Safe?

"Meat and milk from cloning are safe, 2 FDA scientists say. The study, which deems labeling unnecessary, signals the agency's receptiveness to formally approving such food.”

This was a recent headline in the LA Times on December 23rd, 2006. The report goes on to explain, “A long-awaited study by federal scientists concludes that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is safe to eat and should be allowed to enter the food supply without any special labeling.” This study is no more than a review of information provided by the cloning industry as pointed out in the LA Times article “Two of the largest studies were provided by commercial clone producers Cyagra Inc. and ViaGen Inc.”

I guess most individuals would be surprised that the FDA relies on the manufacturers of chemicals, and now cloning companies, to show the safety of new additives into our food supply. According to the investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald in his book The Hundred-Year Lie, quoting Jerry Avorn, a physician with the Harvard Medical School:

“There is a comforting shared myth that by the time the FDA approves a new drug [and apparently cloned meat], the product has been studied exhaustively and determined to be a worthwhile new addition, and that all of its actions in the body, good and bad, are well defined… In fact none of these assumptions is quite correct. The FDA itself does not study any drugs prior to approval, relying on the company that makes the product [cloned meat and dairy in this instance] to generate that information.”

Our government depends on safety data supplied by the drug manufacturers [and the cloning industry] to make its approval decisions. To [Marcia] Angell former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, relying on the drug companies “for unbiased evaluations of their products makes about as much sense as relying on beer companies to teach us about alcoholism.”

I bring this up just to point out the dangerous methods used by the FDA to approve substances in our food supply. Fitzgerald goes on to explain, “Commenting on the public perceptions of objectivity and safety afforded by the FDA, and FDA commissioner, Herbert Lay, made this revealing statement in 1969, which still holds true today: ‘The thing that bugs me is that people think the FDA is protecting them. It isn’t. What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it’s doing are as different as night an day.’”

The LA Times article goes on to quote a few of the skeptics “The FDA ‘has been trying to foist this bad science on us for several years,’ said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety in Washington. ‘When there is so much concern among so many Americans, this is really a rush to judgment.’… Kimbrell, said too few animals had been cloned to conclude that they were safe to eat. He also called for more independent research provided by companies that are not in the cloning business.”

“A study released this month by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64% of Americans were uncomfortable with animal cloning and 43% believed food from clones was unsafe.”

The Industry Goes Forward

Despite public concern, companies, with our FDA’s approval, go forward with their profiting schemes and new science. They will get away with it by keeping the public ignorant of the facts. By not labeling cloned meat or GMO foods, our general public can walk on blindly about our food supply, with the myth that the FDA is taking care of us. They have eliminated our right to choose what we eat. If the public knew that most every processed food in America contains some GMO ingredients, we might make the choice not to consume those products. If the FDA requires cloned meat or cloned milk to be labeled, I doubt if the public would choose those products as well. However, we can go about our lives, because “ignorance is bliss”, believing the myth that Big Brother loves his citizens more than the industrial dollars of multinational corporations.

Is this a democracy or is it facism? If the public is concerned about our food supply and our rights as citizens, we need to contact our legislators and the FDA letting them know that we want our food labelled, we want the right to choose. We want our representatives to listen to our voices and to not just go forward with industry agendas depite our concerns. It is time to get active and to end the final stages of corporate take over of our food supply, before it is too late. Our children will never have the freedoms that we enjoy today.


LA Times article: Meat and Milk from Cloning are Safe, 2 FDA Scientists Say

The Hundred-Year Lie, by Randall Fitzgerald


New Bird Flu Outbreak In Vietnam

A recent report by the BBC news raises more questions.

The recent outbreak of avian flu in Vietnam fails to generate serious concerns, and raises more questions on how the media and government works to create public fear. The report mentions that the outbreak affects over 6,000 poultry hatched illegally. Obviously, any production this size comes from a commercial operation, not by a sustainable small farm producer. It leaves us wondering why the news report fails to give these details? Half truths, as usual. What are the details, and when did hatching eggs become illegal?

The report also points out that 154 people have died globally, in three years. Compare that to traffic accidents, and maybe we should consider illegalizing automobiles, and how many people die every year to the common flu?

Unfortunately, this is another example of media/government spin, and they will continue to use this flu as an excuse to end all small producers who raise their poultry drug-free and outdoors the way nature intended.

View the BBC report here... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6195545.stm

Real prevention for avian flu, and all illness, is by maintaining a healthy immune system, not by vaccines and factory farming. Let's use a little common sense, and not be swayed by media hype and scare tactics. Buy local, buy fresh!


Local Shopping This Season

Why Bother?

I wanted to share a recent article that expresses the value of supporting local family businesses during this holiday season. As consumers, we have the opportunity to make an impact with our purchasing power. Mega-stores are destroying local economies and exploiting cheap labor for profit, and our buying habits are what feed this beast. There is no better time than these holidays to fully express the values that we cherish and the faith that we hold dear…

Charity, Peace and Joy to all,

- Farmer Brad

Originally published in Local Harvest Dec. 2006 CLICK HERE>>

Why Bother?

I'll admit it: Christmas is my least favorite season. Were it not for the shopping, I think I would like it - family, friends, good food - just like Thanksgiving, but with pretty lights. But shopping is an integral part of the season, at least in my circle. Worse, with my tendency toward procrastination and my family's preference for gifts like tools and sweaters, shopping usually takes place at box stores or a mall. This puts me in a foul mood every time.

Two years ago some friends of mine committed themselves to excluding all franchise stores from their gift buying pursuits. Lucky for them, they live in a hip city that prides itself on its thriving small business community. It still took effort but they did it, and everyone on their list got great gifts - things they wouldn't probably have picked up for themselves, but loved because they were beautiful and unique.

It was easy for me to say that I could never make such a pledge because all we have in my small Midwestern town are box stores and bake sales, but that simply isn't true. Main Street is lined with small shops whose owners are trying to make a living, and the truth is that I want them to succeed. They might not carry a great selection of tools or sweaters, but I would miss them if they left. Why? When I can get almost everything I need at Target, what's it to me if the little guys go under? Why should I limit my Christmas shopping to the things that are available from local vendors?

In two words, 'creative autonomy.' No one tells the woman who runs the new and used bookstore in town what to stock or where to place each item for maximum consumption. She makes her decisions based on her love for books and customers can smell that when we walk in door. It is the small things that make each community unique, and one of the ongoing tragedies of the United States, to my mind, is that our culture is increasingly becoming designed, homogenized, and imposed from above by the marketers from the McMultiMegaloMart abomination.

So the reasons for buying holiday gifts from small businesses boil down to the same reason my husband and I shop at the farmers' market: because buying our food there means we belong in this community. And for that matter, it is the same reason that we don't buy strawberries in the winter: because they're not from here. Buying as much of our food as we can locally and seasonally introduces us to the neighbors who also come out early on Saturday mornings for fresh greens, connects us to the farmers who remember that we like sweet potatoes, and binds us to the land outside town where the food grew. In the years when we have been CSA members it has been a similar experience. We have felt more human because of our commitment to eat what one particular piece of land provides. In this age of isolation, anything that makes us genuinely feel more alive and part of the human circle is worth going for.

So how does all this relate to LocalHarvest? Careful observers will have already noted that within the great socioeconomic experiment that is LocalHarvest, there exists a certain tension. While our main mission is to promote connections between community members and their local farmers and farm-related businesses, we also sponsor a catalog of mail order farm-made products. Our commission on the sales proceeds provides the main income stream for the site; without it we couldn't pay the bills. So on one hand, we stand firmly behind the "buy local" movement: our business is steeped in its values. On the other hand, we were awfully pleased to facilitate the shipment of a few hundred high quality turkeys last month.

We have made peace with the seeming contradiction of a business whose very name advocates "local" and whose income is derived mainly from non-local sales. How? By focusing on the people whose goods we are selling, and acknowledging the distance by which they are separated from other mail order vendors. Our "vendors" are family farmers. They make things like blackberry jam and goat's milk soap. They grow cranberries and tangerines; they raise lambs. They work hard, in concert with the land and the seasons, and at the end of the day they too must balance the books and fix their vehicles and pay the vet bill. To our minds, directly supporting any family farmers, "local" or not, is a contribution to the creation of a culture whose roots run deep. Truly.

So this year, I'll be doing some of my holiday shopping downtown, and some on LocalHarvest. I know my friends will love getting dates from the desert of southern California, and some dark, rich, buckwheat honey from Ohio. And I'm sending my mother in law a dried flower wreath. She won't have seen it at the Pottery Barn, but I know she's going to love it.


Our Local Feast

Seasonal food and a silly goose.

Since we have been farming, our family's diet has become at least 80% local and seasonal. As we sit around the table giving thanks, I regularly reflect on how grateful we are for the food produced on our farm and those from our local friends. You never take things for granted when it’s the fruit of your own labor. Our girls enjoy the new crops as they arrive on our plates, and look forward to veggies that most kids would avoid. It’s different when they have taken part in the work, and still a little strange to hear them asking for more greens or radishes. They are learning from the very beginning how to appreciate good food, and hopefully they will have that their whole lives.

Now that we are in the holidays, a local food feast comes naturally. Traditional Thanksgiving and holiday meals celebrate the seasonal harvest, and as we seek the ingredients to prepare our feast, we look locally, and in our own backyard. Recently as we prepared for Thanksgiving we began to make our list of what was available from our farm:

Sweet potatoes, cabbage, fresh shell beans, Salad, radishes, arugula, winter squash, baby beet greens, eggs for baking, flour (we bought organic wheat berries, but milled it at home), pumpkin pie, pear pie (our guest was going to bring one over made from fruit on her tree), and the turkey (oops! we forgot the turkey!).

We have at least three farm friends that raise Thanksgiving turkeys, but we waited too long, and they were all sold out, unless we were willing to travel 5 hours round trip, and that seemed ridiculous (despite how much we wanted a local feast). The choices were few and far between, and we certainly were not going to compromise and buy one of those cheap drug infested carcasses from our local grocery store (although I was tempted by convenience). What were we going to do? And then it hit me! We own 18 beautiful geese that we have been growing out for holiday sales, and there they were, grazing beautifully in our farmyard. Although it was no turkey, it was the answer to our problem, and that's when the trouble started.

The next morning we decided to tell the girls that we would be harvesting a goose for Thanksgiving, and then tears began to roll. "NOT Mr. Pink, and NOT Princess, or Midnight, or Lilly, Blueberry, or Diver (were did they come up with that name?)!!!" They seemed to all have names, and so I began to explain to them that this was not a zoo, but a farm, and we produced food, not pets. "But we can't eat Victory (they saved him last spring, thus the name), or Little Midnight, Daisy or Little Mr. Pink!" It seems that even they had a hard time of finding any real names, but they were getting desperate and adding a few adjectives to protect their friends. What’s most interesting is that the girls do not like the geese, and usually carry a stick to protect them when they do their morning chores which includes giving the flock fresh bath water everyday. What was a farmer to do? Being the only male in the family it was not going to be easy.

As we further discussed the dilemma, it turned out that there was only one goose out there that the girls did not name. So, as we all marched out into the farmyard to claim our poor loser we were surrounded by honking geese at unbearable octaves and the girls arguing in tears about who the one unnamed goose was. "Is it that the one?" "NO, that's Mother Goose!" "What about that one?" "NO, that's Snowbill!" It was hard for them to decide, and when it came down to it, it was the very gander I was planning to choose, the poor creature happened to be the youngest fattest goose of the lot. Now, by this time the birds where suspecting something as we had all been dramatically observing their figures. So I made my move, leading them to a corner in the fence so I could grab our pick. Then I remembered: we got this crazy rooster right now that has tried to attack me most mornings as I gather eggs, and as I looked over my shoulder to see where he was, the geese took flight. As I looked back over, they were just a few feet off the ground, but I had lost my site of the only goose I could grab (or face penalties from the farm girls) and I went diving to catch my prize as they moved past me. Needless to say I missed him and fell across the ground with geese flying over and around me (lucky no one saw my graceful efforts!). By then, I decided to catch the bird later after all the drama subsided, and I didn't have the girls around to help.

Later I found our oldest and most sensitive daughter sitting outside, still pondering the sad fate (and probably trying to come up with some name to protect him). I sat down beside her, and tried to console her that we could not afford to just feed all our animals as pets, and how we would always have animals around, but we could only keep the best breeding pairs. She was not satisfied until she remembered the joy of hatching new goslings in early spring, and how she could look forward to raising more baby animals every year. I didn’t want the event to spoil our local feast, and recalled that we still had a couple geese in the freezer. So I announced his life was pardoned for another week, and that we did not need to let the circumstance ruin our joy for Thanksgiving.

I’m going to plan the next holiday meal a little more in advance, and encourage everyone to do so. The traditional food that we celebrate centered around these times is easily procured locally, and one farm cannot provide all of our needs, however it could be gathered from producers all within 60 miles. Visit your local farmers market, visit The Texas Local Food Locator, or localharvest.org. Below is a list of a few farms in our Houston area that could provide the best food you are in search of. I hope your next local feast is a time of joy, peace and fulfillment.

Yours in the harvest!

Farmer Brad

Jolie Vue Farms (grass fed beef, poultry, pork, sausage and smoked hams)

Star Haven Farms (grass fed beef, roasts & brisket)

Oaks of Mamre Farms (poultry & turkeys)

Sand Creek Farms (milk, cream, eggs)

HOME sweet FARM (vegetables)


November Farm Report

The heat, bugs and sweet potatoes.

This warm dry weather is unbelievable! As I sit in the warm sun, watching the greens in the bright light, I have a hard time believing this is November. It has put a real damper on the coolest veggies like baby lettuce, spinach and a few other tender greens. Germination can be random, and has left me wondering when we will see a break in the weather.

To beat the heat we use a few creative tools, like floating row cover. Usually this material is for frost protection, however in this case it is valued for the little shade it delivers. This still has no benefit for the spinach beds which prefer soil temps below 85 degrees. We got a few to sprout, but now they just sit there... waiting, and waiting.

The other challenge the farm faces currently is the flight of moths. These little guys lay their eggs delivering a host of green loopers that feed on our tender leaves of kale and cabbage. Although we rarely need to break out the sprayers, it can no longer be ignored. Armed with natural remedies like Bt or neem oil, I walk up and down the rows applying a fine mist of death to the unwanted visitors. The evidence of their lives still remains with holes chewed through the delicate leaves. It makes you wonder how often conventional crops are sprayed during the season to provide picture perfect vegetables to our grocery stores. Insects are a reality, but it is more convenient for us to not give the residue on our food a thought. It’s a lot easier that way.

Well, the garden still shares its bounty, despite the heat. Our farm members have enjoyed a mix of vegetables including arugula, mizuna, radishes, lettucy cabbage (better than romaine), napa cabbage, broccoli raab, baby beet and turnip greens, tot soi, eggplant, and those wonderfully fresh dug sweet potatoes. We had a bumper crop this year, and I recently tempted a buyer for Whole Foods who has had no luck finding sweet potatoes in Texas. That really puzzled me, as East Texas has always been the sweet potato capitol. Apparently, no one is growing sweet potatoes anymore in Texas. That makes me wonder, is it because of low prices or is there no interest in the next generation of farmers to continue the work? One thing for sure, with a bumper crop like ours this year, it may be something we want to expand next year.

Yours in the harvest!