IT REALLY WORKS!
I wish you all could have seen the look on the face of my eight-year-old daughter’s dentist today when we came in for a checkup and she discovered that three cavities that I refused to have filled months ago had re-mineralized! The dentist’s exact words were: “These teeth have hardened over. . . I don’t understand how this could have happened. . . What are you doing differently?” The dentist says she knows of Dr. Price but had never met anyone following his diet! She was in complete shock.
The diet we have been following for my daughter includes fermented cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter oil, whole raw milk and cheese, plenty of butter on sprouted bread, eggs from local pastured hens, fresh organic fruit, bone broth, plenty of seafood, lactofermented foods, sprouted grains and legumes and unrefined sea salt.
Thank you for being here for us in our time of need. My daughter has had nineteen fillings, six root canals with caps and crowns, and five extractions in her short life! She is now officially a Dr. Weston A. Price girl! She is living proof that this diet and all of the amazing information you provide really works!
Eight years ago, I discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation and have been working diligently to implement a nourishing traditional diet for my entire family. The health benefits that I have seen have been enormous.
For example, my son Joel was born prematurely and had developmental problems but he went on raw milk (and an organic apple a day) when he was six. Now he is almost fifteen. He rarely brushes his teeth except for necessary hygiene concerns (that is, when we tell him to). He drinks only unfluoridated water, but we are not obsessive about restricting sweets, as long as they are made with organic, minimally processed sugars.
Joel just went to the dentist for the second checkup in his life, and as with the first one, no cavities were discovered. His panoramic x-rays show that his teeth are perfectly developed and aligned, with the final molars just now slipping into place (he even has some “supernumeraries” showing). And this from parents whose mouths are filled with mercury fillings and root canals.
My (fraternal) twin brother has been following my experiment from afar and has been a very hard sell about the WAPF principles. When he saw these x-rays he immediately attributed it to “better dental care” (like brushing and fluoride) than when we were kids. When I told him that Joel almost never brushed and has never been exposed to fluoride, he was visibly shaken.
Thank you for your tireless and sometimes thankless philanthropic service.
Rev. Paul K. Hubbard Former Virginia Peninsula Chapter Leader
MY SON AND RAW MILK
I am the mother of three children and one on the way. Originally I was skeptical of raw milk. However, my son was born with a lot of health issues and needed something to help boost his health. His nutritionist, who is a firm believer in all things natural and organic, suggested he try raw milk. With hesitation, we did. Holy cow! (Pardon the expression!) He gained over two pounds in a month, had no colds during that month, and seemed to be feeling better in every way. Raw milk seemed to heal his gut.
I will advocate for raw milk in any way I can. Today I refuse to buy industrial milk and I only buy raw milk, which also goes along with my belief of “support your local farmers.”
I want to spread the word any way I can. I printed out some of the articles on your website and brought them to my pediatrician. He was dead set against raw milk and practically blew up at me for feeding it to my son. Well, guess what? My son still drinks it—and will continue to drink it. Thank you for such an informational website.
Dover Plains, New York
I come from Poland but currently I live in the U.S. My wife is a big fan of Weston Price’s diet and I like to read books devoted to the history of the Wild West (mountain men, Indians, fur trade, first explorers etc.). One of the gems I have found comes from de Soto’s book Across the Wide Missouri.
On the mountain men’s diet from page 42: “Eight pounds (of meat) a day was standard ration for Hudson’s Bay Company employees, but when meat was plentiful a man might eat eight pounds for dinner, then wake a few hours later, build up the fire, and eat as much more. . . . Moreover, to the greases that stained the mountaineer’s garments were added the marrow scooped from bones and the melted fat that was gulped by the pint. Kidney fat could be drunk without limit; one was more moderate with the tastier but oily belly fat, which might be automatically regurgitated if taken in quantity, although such a rejection interrupted no one’s gourmandizing very long.”
On the Plains Indians’ diet from page 41: “They ate the kidneys raw, but the delight of an Indian gourmet was to eat his way down a ten-foot length of raw, warm, perhaps still quivering gut— in one snapshot by an appalled white the gourmet squeezes out the gut’s contents just ahead of his teeth. Guts or boudins were delicious to the white palate too, but they were first lightly seared above the fire.”
I just noticed that Palmolive has quietly changed its formulation of its orange antibacterial dish soap from using 0.10 percent triclosan to 2 percent L-lactic acid as its antibacterial active ingredient. The bottle claims to kill 99.9 percent of E. coli, salmonella, and staph in seconds! It is interesting that Palmolive did not highlight the change to a much less environmentally harmful ingredient. (I still didn’t buy it because the formula also includes ethoxylated surfactants.)
Now, doesn’t it follow that any soured or cultured raw dairy product containing 2 percent lactic acid would be inhospitable to E. coli, salmonella and staph? Wouldn’t it be interesting if the FDA approved the interstate sale of any raw dairy product that contained a concentration of 2 percent lactic acid— yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, real crème fraîche, real sour cream, and even fresh cultured cheese? That would be an interesting strategy—to petition for sale of cultured raw milk due to the lactic acid content, but still have sweet raw milk restricted.
Editor’s Response: While sweet raw milk may not have a high concentration of lactic acid, it contains other antimicrobial agents, such as lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase.
I have been a fifth grade teacher in Los Angeles County for fifteen years. I teach in a low socioeconomic, mostly immigrant neighborhood. Here is what two of my parents told me today about their ten-year-old fifth graders.
One student, an overweight boy who has been dealing with intestinal issues for a few years now, has missed the whole first week of school with severe stomach pains. I found out today the boy has been newly diagnosed with anemia and is in the hospitable receiving blood transfusions. The mother told me that if his body rejects the treatment, the doctor is talking about removing his colon! Ten years old! Of course I practically leapt through the phone and told her to please get a second opinion and recommended the GAPS website. As his teacher and not his nutritional therapist, I need to be careful how I approach something like this but I will definitely do what I can to educate this mother.
The second student is of average build and height for a ten-year-old. His mom has told me on three different occasions in the course of a week that her boy has ADHD. I found out today that this young, sweet, well-behaved boy is on Concerta and Ritalin for ADHD, Zyprexa and Zoloft for depression, and Intuniv for OCD. Only ten years old and he is on five medications! Again, I made some gentle recommendations for her to educate herself with the WAPF and GAPS websites, and of course to work towards eliminating his cocktail of medications. She said she is trying to reduce the dosages and took note of the websites.
It is terrifying to speculate about what some doctors are doing to frightened parents and their helpless children.
Angie Karlan, Chapter Leader
Redondo Beach, California
MERCURY AND SULFUR
While doing research on removing amalgams from my teeth I came across the following paragraph on mercury: “The problem is, mercury simply ‘loves sulfur’ too much. So much so, that it will compete with other molecules for sulfur and can usually ‘steal’ sulfur out of other molecular structures, in effect killing them. Mercury (Hg) interacts with brain tubulin and disassembles microtubules that maintain neurite structure. If it can’t steal sulfur, mercury will bond to the sulfur atom the best it can. This usually prevents the molecule from performing its function.”
Sulfur is part of our blood cells along with proteins and enzymes. Many systems in our bodies are very much like today’s industrial assembly lines. If one work station stops functioning the whole system can back up. In your article on sulfur deficiency (Summer 2011) there is a sidebar (page 22) on Alzheimer’s and the lack of sulfur. Now if the above is true, this justifies linking mercury with Alzheimer’s. That is, mercury may be sucking up the sulfur and contributing to Alzheimer’s.
Also, since most of us have an amalgam or two in our mouths, maybe that is contributing to a sulfur deficiency. There are also repercussions for vegetarians who presumably would have bad teeth and therefore many amalgams. Seems like a valuable line of research.
Grass Valley, California
HELPING HEAL THE SYSTEM
I enjoyed reading Kim Rodriguez’s article “A Dietitian’s Experience” (Summer 2011). I did wonder, however, how she manages to sustain such an uphill struggle; I am surprised she doesn’t leave. Then I realized that her institution is very lucky to have her there challenging the status quo. I really admire her for her persistence, presenting resistance to the pharmaceutical industry, challenging bad science, and presenting truth. My thanks to Kim for hanging in there and helping to heal both people and the system.
Elizabeth De Sa
Nevada City, California
I’m currently following the WAPF pregnancy and nursing diet to provide extra nutrition since as a teen I’m still growing. I grew about an inch taller since following this special diet for about a year. I will continue with this diet since I’m a late teen (nineteen years old). I believe it is critical for young women in their teens and twenties to obtain extra nutrition as their bodies are still growing and are preparing for conception in the future.
Ann Marie Michaels of the Cheeseslave blog may help a few young women start a blog made especially for people of their age group. I may participate in it as my body has benefited greatly from this special diet. I’m a living testimony of how a former teen who battled anorexia has obtained so much good health by following the dietary guidelines you present through your site. All it took was a quick read through your article on fats a few years ago to completely free me from my intense bondage to anorexia. Since then, I have never looked back! I can never thank you enough for all the wonderful hard work you have done and will continue to do!
Buffalo, New York
I just reread Dr. Enig’s great article “The Tragic Legacy of CSPI” (at www. westonaprice.org) and noticed that she says the Center for Science in the Public Interest is very secretive of their funding sources, something that hasn’t been true, at least, for the past few years. If you go to www.www.cspinet.org/about/funding.html, you will not only find this information, but also that they received their founding funding (1971-1979) from a very short list of foundations: Arca Foundation (founded by Nancy Susan [Reynolds] Bagely, R.J. Reynolds’ third child), Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (R.J. Reynolds’ second child), Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (youngest child of William Rockefeller, JDR’s younger brother and partner in Standard Oil, etc.), Rockefeller Family Fund, and Wallace Genetic Foundation. Not exactly who you’d expect to be financing an organization supported by so many vegetarians.
The C.S. Fund is also on this list (and has been for years), but according to Kelly Knox, CSPI’s deputy director of development, this is incorrect; it was just these five foundations. She said the grants they’ve received related to this source came from the Ruth Mott Foundation beginning in 1980 (mother of Maryanne Mott, who started the C.S. Fund in 1981), wife of prominent Republican Charles Mott, a founder of General Motors and on their board for sixty years.
However, according to Rose at the C.S. Fund, these two organizations are entirely separate, and they did give CSPI several grants starting in 1983, though only erroneously listed the one time. I wonder what else isn’t true? In any case, much of their funding, ever since, comes from some equally strange bedfellows.
Also according to Knox, Michael Jacobson, James Sullivan, and Albert Fritsch (on their site it says Jacobson and two other scientists, and Knox only knew Sullivan’s name) were working at Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law when they decided to go off on their own in 1971 and start CSPI. Sullivan and Fritsch were gone by 1977, and Jacobson has always been the executive director. She said their original goal was to create an environment where “scientists could come together to advocate for science-based policy that would affect public health.” On their site their Mission Statement says they’re “a consumer advocacy organization whose twin missions are to conduct innovative research and advocacy programs in health and nutrition, and to provide consumers with current, useful information about their health and well-being.”
Thank goodness big oil and tobacco were willing to support Dr. Jacobson’s pursuit of such important goals on our behalf. But, of course, the obvious question is why? Well, if you search their site for soy, “The Soy Story” (sound familiar?) comes up at the top of the list, and by the second paragraph there’s a quote from “soy expert Mark Messina of Loma Linda University,” the king of pro-soy industry propaganda. And their dedication to the promotion of soy-based “foods” is legendary.
However, some of the best clues can be found amidst Soyinfo Center’s “A Comprehensive History of Soy” (soyinfocenter.com). Though these folks are devoted to soybeans (and well-respected by the industry), their profuse amount of information actually provides excellent proof of how soybeans were moved into our diets during the twentieth century (including lots about the edible oil industry, and development of the trade associations), and how much and in what forms soy foods were traditionally eaten in Asia versus elsewhere, prior to this.
Of particular interest with regard to the funding question, though, is the article on Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (#68/#2), soy’s first and most avid promoter. The Rockefellers, DuPonts, and other very powerful people were guests at his Battle Creek Sanitarium, but do a search for Kellogg, both alone and along with Rockefeller, as I did, and see what comes up. And the article on Dr. Artemy Alexis Horvath (#70) explains that he was working at the Peking Union Medical College, owned by the Rockefeller Foundation, when he compiled (at their request) what would become the official history of soy use in China (Horvath then continued working for them in the U.S.). I’ll allow you to discover for yourself what this leads to and just add that it’s scary, but really fascinating information that, like me, you’ve probably never heard of before.
Raleigh, North Carolina
NOT WORTHY OF HUMAN CONSUMPTION
My family and I are currently at my wife’s parents’ farm in northeast Iowa. They have an old-time picture book called Sunday Afternoon on the Porch: Reflections of a Small Town in Iowa, 1939-1942, with photographs by Everett W. Kuntz and text by Jim Heynen. On page 82, there’s a great photo of a farmer walking away from his barn with two large, rusty-looking milk buckets, filled to the brim with milk.
Here is the text that goes with that photo on the next page: “Why would he carry fresh milk in such old buckets that allow the milk to slosh onto the ground? And where is he carrying the milk? There’s more milk here than anyone could put on their cereal.
“All this milk is not heading toward the house or toward any respectable human being. This is skim milk, not worthy of human consumption. Drink skim milk? That would be about as low as eating carp. He’s carrying this useless milk to the pigs, who will at least be able to transform it into something fit for human consumption: good fatty pork chops and ham.
“This is not the only trip he’ll be making from the barn to the hog troughs. Other old buckets of skim milk are waiting in the barn, while the precious cream waits in separate, shiny clean cans. Much of that rich cream will be sold to the creamery. The rest? It will go onto his cereal in the morning and help build the strong muscles he needs to carry this useless skim milk to the pigs.”
I thought you’d like this!
BE AWARE OF SYMPTOMS
Is it possible that constipation might be our body’s way of saving us from a dangerous health situation? Perhaps our waste can’t be evacuated until our body knows that other nutrients are coming in to replace lost ones. I have thought about this many times.
I have been following the GAPS diet and although it has done some really good things for me, I feel that I need to alert people to pay attention to warning signs that I ignored. After eating strictly WAPF food and being gluten-free for two years, I decided to try GAPS since my food intolerances seemed to be getting worse. I did the GAPS introduction diet for three weeks, lost ten pounds, began to look like a skeleton and felt awful.
I assumed my symptoms were related to die-off and ignored everything, only to find myself in the hospital with dangerously low blood levels of potassium (an electrolyte), a nearly stopped heart, and what doctors called a heart attack. I am twenty-six years old, one hundred thirty pounds, tall, thin, athletic, nonsmoker, nondrinker—and perplexed.
For my entire GAPS trial, I wrote down everything I ate and exactly how I felt. My diet was not lacking in potassium. I did more research and found many articles linking low potassium with blood clots and heart failure. I also found a community of people warning of such diets because of a death from a “heart attack” while on a low-carb diet. My case was also characterized by low potassium. Some think that potassium is lost because when a body is lacking in dietary carbs under these circumstances it uses its stores of glycogen, which are bound to water. This process unbinds water and a person will experience excessive urination and weight loss, which results in electrolyte imbalances. But who would listen to that? Of course, the doctors attribute heart attacks to being overweight, having high cholesterol, and eating a lot of protein. But I did not fall into any of the categories that doctors could blame. At first they thought I was bulimic because apparently there is a correlation with vomiting, loss of fluids and electrolytes, and heart attacks. They even looked at my arteries and found them to be “squeaky-clean” with no cholesterol build up.
With my symptoms and information I think that eating a no-carb diet, with diuretics (dandelion root, kombucha, etc.) and recommended frequent enemas can be really dangerous for some since all of these things can result in lowered potassium levels with symptoms that mimic what the book calls “die-off.” Some symptoms I experienced included very painful cramps in my calves at night, headaches, waking up to go to the bathroom several times per night, standing up and feeling dizzy, constipation, excessive hunger and thirst, and dry mouth.
I am not writing this to bash the GAPS diet. And I realize I am not a doctor, and my case probably involved many factors. But I do think people should be warned to listen to their bodies! I am mostly worried about children put on this diet who cannot properly let their symptoms be known. I do not understand why laxatives and enemas are recommended to be given on a daily basis with this diet when the author herself verified that potassium levels are kept in check by a hormone and can become dangerously low when this hormone is absent or when it is lost through the gut (vomiting and diarrhea) or kidneys (urine). If it is true that people who go against their body’s natural response of holding in the contents of the stomach by inducing vomiting, such as bulimics, can get low potassium and heart attacks, then it also makes sense that maybe going against the body’s natural response to hold in the contents of the bowels could be dangerous at times as well, especially when people are eating a diet lacking in carbohydrates.
I have been eating WAPF goodness for the last six years or so, although I still feel that I am recovering from my thirteen years of a vegetarian and vegan diet. I normally don’t take medications unless it seems absolutely necessary. However, last month I took the Plan B emergency contraceptive (“morning after pill”). I have never taken this nor birth control pills before. For the first week and a half I didn’t notice anything. Then like a freight train I experienced severe hysteria; I was unable to stop crying for hours. I did have a reason to cry, yet it was above and beyond what a mom trying to care for her children should have to deal with.
Then after my menstrual cycle started I felt more stabilized for another two weeks, yet this whole time I lost my appetite, losing many pounds that I did not need to lose. I also suffered from insomnia, which is not normal for me. Then after ovulation I started having severe, on-going anxiety, with panic-like adrenaline surging through my system all day. I started smoking marijuana out of desperation, and began counseling sessions as well.
One night I pulled some Magnesium Calm, a magnesium citrate beverage powder, off my shelf and tried it. My anxiety went away almost immediately! Then I remembered the magnesium article in Wise Traditions (Fall 2010). I was amazed to see what I suspected confirmed— that birth control pills deplete magnesium. Plan B birth control pills have the equivalent of fifteen regular birth control pills at once.
The side effects I have experienced from Plan B are not listed on the label and I have great concern about its availability to women. I am also interested as to whether anyone has any other information related to this subject, and any ideas of how to balance one’s hormones after the storm of Plan B.
I thank you for the information you make available. It has been extremely helpful to me.
MILKOMATS IN SLOVAKIA
I just wanted to let you know that raw milk is widely available in Slovakia through automated dispensers. At some dispensers bottles are also sold, but most people bring used plastic bottles (like the ones mineral water comes in) and fill their own.
The price ranges from fifty to eighty cents per liter. Apparently the farmers got a subsidy from the government that allowed them to buy these dispensing machines (which are manufactured in Italy). You’ll be getting local raw milk from them, though certainly not organic, unfortunately. These mliekomat dispensers also exist in the Czech Republic.
I should add that UHT milk in the stores costs from fifty cents and up, but in the case of the mliekomat the farm gets a lot more for the milk. While most people seem to go for the convenience of UHT milk, the mliekomat we went to often would be sold out for the day if we went late in the afternoon, so it seems the farms are doing good business selling that way.
FOOD IN CROATIA
We are proud to be the part of your Foundation. We live what Dr. Price taught. Here in Croatia, we are lucky that nutrition hasn’t reached the bottom point yet. Our laws still allow healthy foods. Croatia is also blessed by proximity to the sea, clean air and mountains, and an abundance of unpolluted water and soil.
But also that makes the main disadvantage because people are still unaware of what is being prepared for us after Croatia enters the EU next year.
As new chapter leaders, we see it as our mission to take advantage of the time left to spread the word about healthy nutrition and lifestyles. We hope that will slow down implementation of harmful modern styles and nutrition that the EU will inevitably try to impose on Croatia.
Domagoj and Josipa Dzojic
FOOD IN ROMANIA
I was appalled to read about the FDA’s war on raw milk. I come from Romania, where during communist times, the farmers didn’t have the right to eat from their own land, for fear of prosecution as thieves! I can recognize dictatorship when I see it, because I lived it all in Romania twenty years ago. The communist regime taught “scientific nutrition” where we were allowed just five eggs, half a liter of milk, and half a pound of whatever meat we could find per week; all the meats and meat products like salami were replaced by soy salami and soy “meat.”
My family was lucky because my grandma had a farm and raised a few hogs to give us for Christmas, and we had access to good eggs, but the rest was very hard to get even with connections at the store! I am astonished to hear what the FDA is doing to small organic farmers in a country like the USA, with a Constitution that many countries emulate globally for its democracy! The right to choose our own food is a fundamental, intimate right, in my opinion, protected by the privacy right. I hope we who choose these products won’t be persecuted for opting out of the industrial agriculture food chain and allopathic medications.
What pains me more now, is that Romania approved GMO corn and soy a few years ago, and because Romanians are ninety percent Eastern Orthodox, they observe the Easter and Christmas Lents, which are vegan. I went there during Easter a couple of years ago, and they were eating sausage, meat, cheese, margarine and everything made from soy during the vegan Lent!
SAVED BY BACON FAT
I was born three months premature in 1952. My twin sister and I weighed around three and one half pounds, and were feared not to survive. We were in the hospital for three months before we had gained enough weight to be released. Then we were fed rendered bacon fat. I have to say that the bacon fat saved our lives! Interestingly enough, my grandmother described rendering the fat as though it were a common everyday occurrence.
Since then, I have always had a fondness for bacon, bacon fat and salt! I grew up eating eggs fried in bacon fat. The first time that I saw someone cooking them in butter was quite a shock. I still eat my fried eggs that way and to me that is the preferred way although I do use butter and coconut oil when I have to. As a matter of fact, I recently began rendering lard from free-range, antibiotic-free pork from a local farmer I found listed in your Shopping Guide.
Amy L. Adams
WAKE UP CALL
I’m a forty-one-year-old mother of two young girls. I grew up on a cattle ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii. We ate grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens, eggs, ducks and turkeys. When I moved to the mainland for college I was completely unprepared for the bombardment of nutritional misinformation in the news. Being of the I-know-more-than-my-parents age I joined in with the lowfat diet and promoted it to all I met. I drank soy milk, ate egg whites, skinless chicken breasts, and even margarine. I think because of my healthy younger years it took many years of this type of eating for my health to decline. Compared to most I fared well.
By my late twenties I had to give up my successful career as a software engineer due to overuse injuries in my hands. Then I got Graves’ disease, probably from all the pain meds for my hands and my poor diet.
The worst part of it all was that I thought I was eating right and making all the smart choices. My wakeup call came when I was unable to get pregnant and my mother sent me a research article on sterility in chickens caused by soy rations. Wow, you mean all this soy that I’m eating to be healthy might actually be bad for me? At that point I started doing research and read all the Adelle Davis books my mother had given me years before and changed my ways. I was finally able to get pregnant and cure my Graves’ disease. But I was in limbo. I didn’t know who to believe or what to eat. It was very confusing.
I finally discovered the works of Weston Price. Your advice rang true with me because since I had given up lowfat foods I was thinner (in a healthy looking way) than before. So I read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and I couldn’t believe that this book with so much valuable information was virtually unknown. Finally, there was no more confusion. I knew where to find information on what to eat and how to prepare it. From that time I’ve been learning all I can about eating nutrient-dense food. I have primarily focused on feeding my family but when people ask “what are you feeding your kids?”— which happens fairly often probably because they look so healthy—I tell them.
Sheena Golish, Chapter Leader
INTEGRITY IN SCIENCE AWARD 2011: FRED KUMMEROW PhD
|Max Kummerow||Fred Kummerow|
The coveted WAPF Integrity in Science Award for 2011 went to Dr. Fred Kummerow, PhD. The award was accepted by his son Max Kummerow (left). Dr. Kummerow has published over four hundred papers in the scientific literature, mainly on diet and heart disease, and supervised over sixty PhD students. He has argued that focus on dietary cholesterol diverted attention from the more complex biochemistry of heart disease. In 1957 Dr. Kummerow published the first animal studies showing the dangers of trans fats. At age ninety-four, Dr. Kummerow petitioned the FDA to ban trans fats. Dr. Kummerow still works daily at the Burnside Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana. Researcher-writer Chris Masterjohn will do his post-doctoral work with Dr. Kummerow, funded by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sixth International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
Along with Geoffrey Morell, I represented the Weston A. Price Foundation at the International Conference for Food Safety and Quality, held November 8-9 in Chicago. The theme was “Detection Methods for Microbiological and Chemical Hazards.” Present were leading industry specialists from around the world, including food microbiologists and researchers, representatives from the processed food and industrial farming industry, as well as those from food safety testing systems. William Marler, Managing Partner and Owner at MarlerClark LLP, PS, a food safety law firm, spoke on litigation in foodborne illness cases. Additionally, there were attendants from Rain Crow Ranch—American Grass-Fed Beef and Annie’s Homegrown. It is very important for those of us in the grass-fed and small farm movement to keep abreast of what’s going on in the food safety world.
The conference focused on emerging food safety issues in a globalized marketplace, important litigation that has driven regulation and new technologies to improve the detection of food contamination. The conference climate demonstrated a tragic reality that the development of our globalized industrial food system has lead to the creation of a highly scientific community and governmental regulating system that have become removed from any healthy traditional perspective with regard to the relationship between farming and food. Food for the marketplace has become a technology, industrial systems are the norm, pathogenic microbes in food need to be carefully monitored and eliminated at every juncture as outbreaks are increasing, safety issues are paramount, nutrition has little merit and the definition of “food” itself carries widening parameters.
The words of Joel Salatin resonated within me, “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” When Geoffrey Morrell asked about the consideration of nutrition amidst making foods “safe,” the immediate answer from the food technicians was “safety first.” My question was, “After we have sterilized all of our foods so they are absolutely free of pathogens and people are still getting sick from ‘foodborne’ illnesses, where will we turn?”
However, whether we like it or not, industrial farming—the lowest common food-quality denominator—is driving the development of a powerful food safety industry. With the increase in foodborne illness litigation, William Marler, a leading food illness lawyer, warned the audience that those who do not take considerable precaution will be held liable for their carelessness. In addition, the definition of the term “outbreak” may become increasingly burdensome as the term will be applied to illness that affects fewer people.
Food safety is big business and power and there is ample funding for research and development as it is deeply tied to the political infrastructure of big agriculture. In this climate there will be a push toward corrupt over-regulation. Sustainable farms are sure to be up against new legislative initiatives aimed at requiring purchase of state-of-the-art testing equipment that will fulfill mandatory reporting.
Purnendu Vasavada, Professor of the Department of Animal and Food Science and Director of the Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop at the University of Wisconsin, discussed three decades of food industry testing developments. Through his seminars that address both industrial and organic agriculture he explained that even in his presentations at organic farming conferences, he warns that organic systems can no longer afford to take a passive attitude toward food safety. He joked that while organic farms and producers may have “organic pathogens,” if their food causes illness, they will be held accountable!
Numerous presentations focused on the new rapid detection testing systems that have entered the sphere of food safety. From a small, less expensive system that could be affordable for a family farm to larger ones more suited to a corporate farm, processing plant or industrial food factory, there are developments appropriate to any setting. Many of these systems not only detect pathogens, they can also determine allergen contamination. Another seminar discussed advances in safer food packaging and sanitizing treatments like ultraviolet light that maintain food flavor. Irradiation luckily was explained as “unpopular” because it raised many safety concerns by the public.
The international market is creating a very complicated food safety puzzle as every country has different safety standards and often ingredients for one processed food product come from many different countries. In this emerging arena of food safety there is a growing list of foodborne pathogens. Below is a list along with some of the foods that have been implicated in outbreaks:
• Salmonella enteritis, Salmonella DT 104, Salmonella PT4—eggs, produce, peanut butter, spices, dog food, poultry
• Campylobacter jejunii—poultry
• E. coli O 157:H7—fruits and leafy greens
• Listeria monocytogenes—deli meats, dairy products, sprouts
• Norovirus—leafy greens, complex foods
• Botulism—pasteurized carrot juice
• Toxoplasma—beef, pork
Other pathogens that have been identified:
• Rota viruses
• Norwalk viruses
• Clostridium botulinum
• Yersinia enterocolitica
• Bacillus cerus
• Cyclospora cayetanensus
• Vibrio parathaemolyticus
• V. Mimicus, V. vulnificus
• Giardia lamblia
• Cryptosporidum parvum
Professor Vasavada explained that microbiological testing has increased dramatically in its scope. In 2010, 213.2
million microbiology tests were collected in the U.S. food processing industry; this was a 14.4 percent increase since
2008. Testing was used for the following areas:
• Total microbial load
• Indications, index and marker organisms
• Pathogens and toxins
• Slow growing, fastidious organisms
• Bioterrorism agents
• SRM, prions, enzymes, allergens, GMOs
• Vitamins, growth factors bioassays
Gregory Siragusa, Principal Senior Scientist and a Director of Microbiological Research for Poultry at Danisco USA in Waukesha, Wisconsin, discussed the benefit of testing for indicators as warning signs of possible contamination. For instance, tests for coliforms are indicators of fecal contamination. By gauging the extent of the contamination, limits can be assessed that would determine whether further pathogen testing was necessary. Siragusa stated that, “Indicators can give a rapid view of whether a process is within some critical limit and indicators are only useful if used in partner with solutions to contamination problems.” He stressed that using indicators can help to address a problem before it becomes a serious issue. This type of monitoring is regularly practiced on many sustainable farms and there are new technologies that will make this approach even more accurate.
While I assumed that every speaker would be focused on state-of-the art microbiology and insistence on the new food safety paradigm, I was totally surprised to hear the contradictory views of Robert Koeritzer, Technical Manager in the Diagnostics Laboratory for 3M Company’s Medical Division. Koeritzer leads a team of research and product development scientists with expertise in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry. He began his speech saying that most pathogens are not new. He questioned the role technology is assuming in our changing world. He suggested we look at true food safety by improving our farming practices and the nutrient levels of the foods we grow along with helping people develop better immunity. He warned against the narrow focus of safety through better pathogen testing when our food system is severely damaged. With antibiotic resistance, rises in susceptible populations, increased outbreaks and global sourcing, the changing food production and delivery systems will continue to challenge food safety. His remarks lead us to ask why we are going in this direction. Can we really afford not to address the real issues inherent in the widespread degradation of the quality of our agricultural system and the problems inherent in globalization?
As I reflect on this conference, I see that we must rapidly strengthen our efforts to bring balance back to our agriculture system. By increasing the support of more sustainable farms through building the demand for these locally grown foods and broadening our activism we will achieve this goal. Increasing governmental interference of property ownership rights in co-op agreements along with violations to basic human rights of food freedom require a groundswell of organized grassroots initiatives.
Even though our community understands that food safety is a natural outcome of excellent farming methods, we must endeavor to generate an openness to address any areas that fall short of best practices. Although purchasing new food safety testing equipment may not be appropriate for a small farm, as developing regulation will push for increased monitoring, current technologies in this area might offer some cost effective tools worth investigating.
The responsibility of consumers to actively support the farmer and farm that produces their food has never been greater. Activism is no longer optional. It is the responsibility of all consumers of traditional foods to participate in protecting both individual and farmer’s rights to food and farm freedom. We must also strongly advocate for independent food safety requirements that are appropriate to the small farm, and we must be involved in the local, state and federal legislative process that will dictate future policy.