Archive for February, 2010

Iowans Fight Back

February 28, 2010

Concerned Citizens of Iowa (CCI) is currently leading 2 major efforts. One is to stop the State legislators from killing previously hard won legislation to stop the practice of putting manure on frozen ground by exempting factory farms constructed prior to July 09. This bill which passed the Iowa House ag committee would exempt virtually all of the 5500 factory farms/CAFOs. CCI has secured a commitment by the governor to oppose the bill. CCI points out that the Des Moines water treatment plant which has the largest nitrate treatment system in the world (see reference #45) had to seek alternate water sources because of high nitrate levels in the Des Moines River. While the nitrate graph in the River is similar to our Choptank River the level is twice that of the Choptank approaching 10 mg/l, the EPA’s MCL( See reference #41 and 43).

CCI, Food & Water Watch, The National Family Forum, and Food Democracy Now have prevailed on USDA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hold an antitrust hearing in Ankeny, IA on March 12. How bad is it?  CCI says:

– More than 85 percent of U.S. beef cattle are slaughtered by just four companies.

– Two companies control more than half of U.S. corn seed.

– One company controls 40 percent of the U.S. fluid milk supply.

– Five corporations dominate the grocery sector, ensuring that low prices paid to farmers aren’t passed along to consumers at the store.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed has a lot in common with Iowa in that. Iowa pollution which winds up in the Gulf of Mexico comes from corn production used for Hog and Cattle CAFOs and for processed food and ethanol. Chesapeake pollution as shown on the EPA’s nutrient load charts is divided into two distinct areas. One is the corn fed/Hog and Cattle CAFO’s of Pennsylvania extending up into New York and the other is the Corn production/Chicken CAFO corridor which extends from Lancaster County substantially down the Delmarva Peninsula. While the pollution from chicken CAFOs is just as severe in all coastal estuaries in all coastal States down to the Gulf, it receives little attention in places like Pamlico Sound and other Southern coastal estuaries compared to the attention given to the Chesapeake.

For more information on the work of CCI contact Kristin Schaaf


Tenderizing-More on E. Coli

February 26, 2010

We have said in past comments about E. Coli in beef products that the risk is mostly with hambuger because the contamination on the outside of beef cuts such as steaks and roasts is usually destroyed by cooking, while the grinding process used to produce hamburger distributes the organism throughout the meat. The center of any beef cut might not attain 160 degrees for sufficient time to kill E. Coli. All industrial animals are grown in CAFOs described by Johns Hopkins School Of Public Health as perfect pathogen incubators (reference # 21) and all are heavily contaminated with their own feces. Corn fed ruminant animals such as cattle are further contaminated in their hindgut due to their unnatural grain diet. The needling process described in the attached article can put E. Coli in the middle of any beef cut. Needling is apparently used mostly by restaurants. Please review the article by clicking on:


Good news & Bad news from the Administration

February 22, 2010



1. Agricultural Secretary Vilsack and House Ag committee Chairman Peterson endorse local and regional food production at Home Grown Conference.

2. USDA outlook forum-

Theme- Sustainable Agriculture the Key to Health & Prosperity.

A few years ago sustainable agriculture was a dirty word at USDA

3. The first lady has launched a campaign to fight childhood obesity.


Obama Administration caves on Campaign Promise on Agricultural reform

Mega Farms win Family Farms Lose

We must stop subsidizing corn and soy the commodities, which drive bad food production and despite my conservative tendencies start subsidizing healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. Only then will Mrs. Obama and the Country achieve its goals.

Don Kerstetter


February 22, 2010

CBS Evening News Feb 9, 2010

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) is warning of a potential health disaster created by the inability to treat diseases normally treatable with antibiotics because of growing ineffectiveness of antibiotics in humans who have consumed industrial meat products over an extended timeframe. One of these, MRSA, is an antibiotic resistant staph infection common to people who work in industrial meat production facilities and their neighbors. Currently more people die from MRSA (the hospital pathogen) each year than die from aids. On this tape Couric interviews people who have had MRSA, some many times, and people on both sides of the controversial bills now in Congress, which ban the regular use of antibiotics in farm animal feed. The first to recommend this action was the heavily industry represented Pew Commission in their 4/08 report (see reference #1). The current House and Senate bills are supported by 300 organizations including the AMA. The tape can be viewed at the following site:;contentBody

Antibiotic resistance is only one of many health and environmental issues created by industrial animal facilities. Raising animals in their own feces in crowded conditions is a basically flawed concept. The Johns Hopkins study Farmacology (see reference #21)


points out that these facilities are perfect pathogen incubators producing trillions of pathogens that escape by air transmission, by chicken transporters, by flies and by contaminated people including neighbors of these facilities who most probably are the source of contamination in hospitals and clinics.

But perhaps long term the corn feed used by and the untreated manure from these facilities which is 40 times the waste produced by humans in the US is even more problematic. The only two chicken CAFO’s ever tested in Maryland showed nitrate levels as high as 80 mg/L or 200 times the normal background level for nitrate in the principle Delmarva well drained upland aquifer (see reference # 44). USGS quantifies nitrate pollution from manure at 35% of Delmarva nitrogen pollution, second only to corn production at 59% (see reference #33). Corn used as CAFO feed and manure generated by CAFO’s are the major nitrogen pollution sources in the great Midwest creating the oxygen dead zone and species loss in the Gulf of Mexico (see reference #31). Forcing any living creature to live a life in these facilities coupled with the health and environmental effects is a National disgrace which is well past time to fix (see Food inc. reference #15 and Pew Commission report Reference #1).

Couric Interviews Kessler & Schlosser on Obesity

February 20, 2010

CBS Evening News 2/16/10
In this interview both authors reinforce Dr. Kessler’s assertion in his book, The End of Overeating (see reference #14) that food companies are using fat, sugar and salt in just the right proportions to appeal to the consumer’s pleasure center and bypass the bodies natural stop mechanism. In other words whether intentional or not we are being manipulated to sell food. Couric opens the interview by citing these facts.
68% of American adults are overweight
33% of American adults are obese
20% of children are obese
Average weight of women age 29-30 increased 30 pounds in the last 40 years

She asked the question. What’s going on here?

Short answer:
Americans are eating too much bad food because bad food is cheap, readily available and cleverly marketed. Writers note: most of this bad food is processed using 14 ingredients made from corn. Early bad eating habits once established plague people the rest of their lives. As a result our generation has developed a culture that increasingly trends toward obesity. Couric also asked for their views on regular dosage of food animal antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, and genetically modified food. View the full interview at:;promo

Solutions: Truth in marketing and labeling is necessary to make it possible to differentiate between nutritious and non-nutritious food. Also a change in public attitude toward overeating of bad food is necessary. The model, although not exactly the same, could be the public change in attitude, which occurred toward the cigarette industry. Overeating bad food must be viewed as not cool by an overwhelming number of educated consumers.

A lot is covered in this interview. It will be interesting to hear what others took from this interesting interview.
Don Kerstetter


February 18, 2010

Company contacted on 2/18/10
1. Chickens raised in Cromwell KY
2. Spokeswomen assures that chickens have plenty of room in football field size facility. Visitors not allowed.
3. Walmart appears to be the only retail outlet.
4. She gets to Salisbury a lot.
5. The disposition of contaminated chickens when antibiotics are used to save the flock is confidential.Sold to private buyers
Conclusions and questions:
Appears to be the same old confinement chicken grown without hormones and antibiotics.

Is this a market test by Perdue or Walmart?

Is the 50% price differential an indication of attrition?

This is a step in the right direction certainly in the interest of consumer health but it does not solve the severe soil, water quality destruction issues in East Coast estuaries caused by chicken production nor the damage done by trillions of pathogens generated by these facilities.

National Organic Coalition Comment

February 15, 2010

Don —
After reading your blog, I realized you might be interested in a tidbit about the ‘pasture’ rule.  In the Q&A [] about the rule, and in direct questions to the NOP Director, Miles McEvoy about the rule, they acknowledged that it actually covered all animals to some extent:

From the Q&A:
"Do the provisions in this rule apply only to ruminant livestock?
A: This rule provides clarification to provisions for livestock feed and living conditions that are applicable to all livestock; however, the provisions for management on pasture, daily grazing throughout the grazing season, and pasture practice standard are for ruminant animals only.
4. Q: What are the main clarifications within this rule that apply to all livestock?
Pasture Rule – FAQs 2
A: The rule stipulates that continuous total confinement of any animal indoors is
….”  [formatting added by me]

How they enforce/implement this remains to be seen, but this is extremely important as we move forward in animal standards in the organic rule.

thanks again,


February 13, 2010

Nothing would do more to solve  major health and environmental problems caused by industrial food production than a return to pasture raised animal production. Examples; rather than losing topsoil by denuding fields to grow corn modern intensive grazing systems can build as much as 10 inches of topsoil a year.  Grass fed cattle products have 7 times less saturated fat than corn fed. Grass fed products have omega 3 and CLA both lacking in the American corn based diet. Corn fed cattle produce e-coli in their hindgut which is impossible to control particularly in hamburger. Raising animals in their own feces in CAFO’s generates trillions of pathogens including MRSA (the hospital pathogen) which kills more people each year than aids. The USDA up until now has never enforced the pasture provision required by the organic label. After 4 years working with NOC, it appears that USDA will begin requiring minimal time on pasture for cattle, sheep and goats. While this rule only applies to ruminant animals it is a good start and we look forward to similar rules for organic chickens and hogs. For more information contact. NOC at


February 10, 2010

The following 7 issues are affecting all of us now to some degree but what does the destruction of our natural resources and our health mean to future generations? Some of these issues are now receiving attention. Most are not. Only an enlightened consumer can make a difference at this time. Thanks to the following for recent major network coverage.

Katy Couric did a segment on the use of antibiotics in and pathogens generated by animal production facilities on CBS evening news on Feb. 9, 2010 and on the same evening PBS news interviewed Mrs Obama on her new campaign to fight childhood obesity. On Jan 27 Oprah interviewed Michael Pollan. She asked him how we will feed a growing population if we changed from the corn based system which is so problematic to health. His answer was that if people demanded healthy food farmers would produce healthy food. He pointed out that while Americans spend a low 9% of their income on food today they spend 19% on health care. These numbers are just the reverse of what they were 50 years ago. He did not mention or place a value on the other major consequences.

1. More than 50% of the Nations topsoil has been lost due to denuding vast areas of the land surface area to plant corn. See reference 51, 52, 53

2. All major corn producing States except one are losing soil fertility as measured by loss of Soil Carbon by ignoring nutrient replacement lacking in chemical fertilizers. This destruction of our soil is irreversible without major change in production methods or a return to pasture production See reference 50

3. The eutrification of rivers, streams and estuaries in the greater Midwest including the Gulf of Mexico caused by a 9 fold increase in nutrient application mostly to corn have substantially destroyed these waterways as a species habitat. About half of the corn is used in animal CAFO’s and half for corn syrup and 13 other corn products used in processed food. The city of Des Moines IA was forced to install the worlds largest nitrate removal system to avoid major death syndrome in children. See references 30, 31

4, All East coast Estuaries including the Chesapeake Bay have been substantially destroyed as species habitat by chicken, dairy and hog CAFO’s and the production of corn feed. References 32, 33, 35. Also see the EPA nutrient load charts for the Bay.

5. Animal CAFO’s are perfect pathogen Incubators producing trillions of pathogens, which are transmitted by air to neighbors, workers and thence to hospitals.

MRSA (the hospital pathogen kills more people each year than aids). Corn fed cattle produce e-coli in their hindgut, which is impossible to control particularly in hamburger. See reference 2, and 21 from Johns Hopkins University.

6. All CAFO’s use regular dosage of antibiotics in feed, which is producing antibiotic immunity to some degree in humans.

7. America is the most obese society in the world. Particularly disturbing is that 19% of our children are obese. See Wall street Journal Opinion Reference 17

“America’s Failed Food Production System”

February 2, 2010

With 12 Recommendations for Change

View the PDF > America’s Failed Food Production System

Prepared by Donald R. Kerstetter for Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary – rev #1 October 30th 2009

Including a comment by Dr. Russell Brinsfield, principal, the Wye Agro-Ecology Center