Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

July 15, 2011

USDA Abdicates Regulatory Responsibility

June 13, 2011

The USDA is failing to meet its regulatory responsibility in 3 areas that must be quite obvious to its scientists and professional staff. Someday this lack of regulatory responsibility will be the subject of a National debate as it is currently in the financial industry.

SOIL EROSION- USDA/SARE recently republished what might be considered a bible of soil management by Magdoff/Van Es. In the chapters on crop rotation and soil erosion the authors state that the lack of live roots in the ground during heavy rain events is the primary cause of massive soil erosion such as occurred in the Midwest in the Spring of 2008. The most dominant crop rotation is a 2-crop corn and soybean rotation which has live roots in the ground only 32% of the time. Increasing to a 3 crop rotation produces live roots 76% of the time. USDA must mandate an immediate increase preferably to a 3 crop rotation plus mandatory winter cover when heavy rains are likely.

The Gulf Hypoxia Report published by leading US scientific organizations in 2000 recommended a 20% reduction in commercial fertilizer application rates. Hypoxia in major Estuaries including Chesapeake Bay continues to increase as reported in the PBS Gulf update and by EPA nutrient load charts (see our blog under pages). USDA must immediately reduce current fertilizer application rates by at least 25%.

Farm animal waste from CAFO chickens, hogs and cattle must be managed as recommended in 2007 by the Pew Commission, an Industry Commission chaired by former Kansas Governnor and dairy farmer George Carlin. USDA has ignored this report and others which point to the massive damage caused by these facilities.

The excuse for lack of regulation of an out of control industry appears to be the higher cost and reduction of corn based products. The following is the opinion of Walter Willett head of the Nations largest academic nutrition department at Harvard University.
“Don – you will find common ground among nutritionists on the harmful effects of very cheap and large amounts of starch from subsidized corn in the US diet, which is the substrate for high fructose corn syrup, and very cheap sugary beverages and feedlot pork and red meat. While not the only contributors these are fueling our epidemics of obesity and diabetes.”

Rather than coming to grips with its failure to regulate the abuses of the Agricultural Industry the USDA continues to ask the taxpayer to fund these abuses by spending our tax money for grain subsidies. The 2012 farm bill is the time for USDA to correct this terrible and destructive injustice.

Madam Chairman-Tell USDA to just stop

February 5, 2011

Letter to new Senate Ag Chairman

Dear Senator Stabenow,

Congratulations on your election to the Chairmanship of the Agricultural Committee. I did a satire on our website fixingourfood.com recently which demonstrates how we look from outer space. We denude vast areas of the earth to grow corn and spray the crops with 3 times more fertilizer than they can use. The earth erodes and together with the chemicals cascades down stream where it contaminates estuaries including the Gulf, Pamlico Sound and Chesapeake Bay and routinely kills massive numbers of water species.  In my satire the space alien visits Iowa, which appears, from space to be the center of this activity and talks to pasture dairy farmer Francis Thicke who has a new vision for Iowa agriculture. He recently got 38% of the Iowa vote for Secretary of Agriculture. Francis, who is also educated in soil science, explained that indeed Iowa has lost half its topsoil in 60 years. He also said that most of the corn went to feed food animals and that the alien should look at recent research which ties the bulk of this animal food to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The alien went back to the web site found the research but also saw a post on last Mondays Diane Rehm show where a USDA official was asked to explain why the USDA recently continued to recommend red meat in its dietary guidelines for the American people. The alien went back home but kept his knowledge secret because no one would believe such a story.

Madame Chairman the ethanol scam is even worse than this story. Everything the USDA does appears to be at odds with the long-term interest of the Country, except for the excellent work of the ARS group. But ARS recommendations particularly for soil management are ignored. It certainly appears that top management of USDA is controlled by the Corn Growers, the meat and dairy Industry, and other members of the agribusiness lobby. Please take action to stop these groups from destroying our National Health and our Natural Resources.

NFL SUPERBOWL-A Health Hazard

January 31, 2011

This weeks Superbowl has evolved into the Meca for sports fans. But eating of grilled meat before and after the game is equally popular and we know now very dangerous.

Dear, Mr. Goodell-NFL Commissioner

Your prompt suspension of Michael Vick for abusing animals is to be commended. However the massive abuse and killing of animals the primary food prepared and eaten before and during NFL games is much more damaging not only to the animals but to those who unwittingly consume them.

Research published by The World Cancer Fund, the American Institute for cancer Research and the Harvard School of Public Health shows that increased risk of both cancer and heart disease result from eating red meat. Red Meat includes hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, and Philly Steak sandwiches, which are popular at your games. Further these studies show that grilling of red meat causes the production of nitrosamines and hydrocarbons, which are known carcinogens.

I know you are sensitive to your public image and your influence on the young. The grilling of these products which you encourage before the games and which your owners supply during the games amounts to a huge public health hazard. I know that the NFL does not want to be known as a supporter of the #1 and #2 killers of Americans and out of control health care cost. But how else would you describe your current food policy in view of this research?

All of this research can be found on our website fixingourfood.com

Sincerely,

Donald Kerstetter

Focus on Ethanol-Not what they Want!

January 26, 2011

This letter to the editor of the local Star Democrat was published on 1/26/11

Industrialization of agriculture has been hugely successful if judged by the standards of industrialization in that it has produced plenty of cheap animal food for humans. In so doing the production process has abused our animals, destroyed our topsoil, destroyed Chesapeake Bay, and most other rivers and Estuaries, and now we know that most of the food, particularly the red meat is destroying our health.

The results of Industrialization processes are almost instantaneous when applied to cars, weapons systems or moon rockets but when applied to human food, health and the environment, results are delayed by many decades. It took at least 3 decades for underwater grass to begin to disappear in Chesapeake Bay after chemical nitrogen application rates were multiplied to raise field corn to produce CAFO chickens and other food animals. The same delay occurred with oxygen dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and worldwide. It took decades for short cuts in soil management (2- crop or less soil management systems) to show up in National Soil depletion numbers. The human body is the ultimate in adaptative design. When industrialization made meat available and affordable most people in affluent societies switched to primary meat based diets particularly in the U.S. It took 6 decades for health results to appear. Now in 2010 these results have appeared and have been documented in studies by the World Cancer Research Fund and Harvard University’s long term Nurses Health Study. These studies and other studies of severe public health issues by Johns Hopkins School of Public Hearth show that cancer. heart disease are the result of the dominance of animal food in our diets. All these studies can be found on our website.

Don Kerstetter at fixingourfood.com

CANCER PREVENTION & *Much More

December 12, 2010

The World Cancer Research Fund along with the American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) presents a Global Perspective on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer. Two hundred and ninety five (295) researchers from universities and research centers around the world are involved in this ongoing effort. This summary is based on 5 years of study. Some organizations and names familiar to us include:

Walter Willett- Dept Head- Harvard School of Public Health. He is a member of the evaluating panel and kindly sent us a copy of the report.

Junshi Chen (panel member)- Chinese Center for Disease Control, who worked with Colin Campbell on the China Study,

Barry Popkin of UNC quoted in W. Post review of major study by the National Cancer Society (see our reference # 16).

Five people from Kaiser Permanente, a major health insurer. People we know from our business days.

Marilyn Gentry President of WCRF who wrote a forward to the China Study,

Eight people from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: Robert Lawrence head of their Center for a Livable Future is a contributor to our site.

Nine people from Penn State University- Well known to our friends at PASA

This comprehensive 500 page plus report evaluates the strength of research in thousands of research reports. All evaluated foods are categorized for INCREASED RISK or DECREASED RISK of cancer at four risk levels, Convincing, Probable, Suggestive, and Unlikely for a specific type of cancer. A few of the hundreds of foods analyzed with type of cancer and risk level are as follows:

INCREASED RISK

Meat Poultry, Fish Eggs category: (see summary on page 116)

Red Meat including Beef, Pork, Lamb and Goat- Convincing for colorectum, Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Stomach, Endometrium, Oesophagus

Processed Meat- Probable for Colorectal and Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Stomach, Oesophagus

Barbecued or grilled animal products- Suggestive for Colorectum, Stomach

Both Poultry and eggs were judged to have too little research to evaluate

DECREASED RISK

Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds category: (see summary on page 76)

Non-starchy vegetables- Probable for Mouth, Larynx, Oesophagus, Stomach

Allium vegetables (onions leaks etc)- Probable for Colorectal

Foods containing:

Folate- Probable for Pancreas

Carotenoids-Probable for lung

Lycopene- Probable for Prostate

Fruits- Suggestive for Nasopharynx, Pancreas, Liver, Colorectum

There are a total of 19 vegetable groups evaluated with only chilli listed under increased risk.

Fish- Suggestive for Colorectum note: this is evaluated under the meat category

Foods containing vitamin D- Suggestive for Colorectum note: same as above

Physical Exercise-Convincing for Colon- Probable for Breast (postmenopause), Endometrium,  Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Breast (premenopause)

Additional categories include: Dietary Supplements (pg 179)- Alcoholic drinks (pg.-157)- Drinks including Water, Fruit juices, Soft drinks, Hot drinks (pg148)- Sugars and salt (pg 141)- Fats and Oils (pg.135)-Body fatness (pg 211)-Lactation (pg. 239)-Physical Exercise (pg 199)-Milk & Dairy pg 129)

REPORTS RECOMMENDATIONS (pg 394)

Eat mostly plant food

Limit Red meat

Avoid Processed Meat

Avoid sugary drinks

Limit salt

Avoid mouldy cereal and legumes

Keep as Lean as possible

Limit alcoholic drinks

Breastfeed children

Limit supplements get your nutrients mostly from plant food

Exercise daily

*At this point in time I have the benefit of knowing that the same conclusions on red meat are to be published by the Harvard University School of Public Health for heart disease, diabetes and stroke based on decades of research results from the Nurses Health Study.

*Please read the preface to the report by Sir Michael Marmot, a cardiologist who is the panel chair. He points out that the reports conclusions coincide with the latest thinking on heart disease except in the area of alcohol consumption.

WRITERS CONCLUSION Now what is the connection between The World Cancer Report and our mission? Take a look at the CAFO location maps and understand that practically all flat land surrounding these facilities is used to grow high fertilizer need low uptake efficiency corn feed.  Meat production is not only the major cause of health decline but the major cause of the contamination and loss of the nations soil and water its most important natural resources. Please read the reports which can be found on our blog at fixingourfood.com. Reach your own conclusions

Posted by Donald Kerstetter

MD. Eastern Shore Candidates Fall Short on Bay

October 29, 2010

The  October 28th Star Democrat Headlines shows that Chesapeake Bay issues are on the mind of voters but of low priority to local candidates. Only one candidate offered a partial Bay water quality solution. Patrice Stanley said that more organic agriculture could help Bay pollution. She is right. Diversity can help. This follows an article on October 16, which proposes grass based animal production as a major solution. Why were there no follow-up questions to a group of politicians who are obviously ill equipped or uninterested in solving our most important issue?

In October the Star Democrat reported on new technology developed by USGS, which allowed for a more accurate assessment of the sources of Chesapeake Bay pollution. USGS went back and reviewed data collected over the last twenty years for 8 rivers on the Western shore including the Susquehanna from Pennsylvania. The Potomac from Virginia and the Pawtuxet which includes Baltimore area polution and concluded that the rate of nitrogen pollution had remained consistent or declined except for the only Eastern Shore River tested. The Choptank, our major Eastern Shore River had shown an increase in the rate of nitrogen pollution of 63% since 2000. The USGS scientists assessing this result said that while the effort to reduce nutrient pollution from waste water treatment plants had been somewhat successful remediation efforts by agriculture over the last 20 years have shown no results to date and that this was an indication that implemented Best Management Practices were not effective. USGS reported in 2000 that 59% of nitrogen pollution on Delmarva came from fertilizer application mostly to corn and 35% came from chicken CAFO manure. Why were several candidates who attempted to shift blame to other States confronted with this evidence?

Don’t expect the Chesapeake Bay to improve without major reductions in fertilizer application, chicken manure management and adopting minimal USDA standards for soil management. Other severely polluted areas of corn and CAFO agriculture have a choice. People in Iowa have an opportunity to elect a grass based organic dairy farmer as Secretary of Agriculture this election cycle. He is an underdog and may not win but at least in Iowa another severely polluted area people who want clean water have a choice, which is lacking here on Delmarva with these weak candidates who pander to very strong large agricultural interests.

Salmonella Jack Testifies Another takes the 5th

September 27, 2010

Jack DeCoster’s companies now operating in Iowa and formerly on Maryland’s Eastern Shore supply about 10% of supermarket eggs in the US. He uses battery cage (8.2X8.2 inches) technology in facilities that are rodent and maggot infested and dominated by the animals manure. The animals are fed regular dosage of antibiotics but many die prematurely. Often the carcass rots for days before removal. His eggs cost about ten cents each and are still sold by Safeway, Costco, Ralph’s, Marc’s, Walmart, and Albertsons. Trader Joes and Fareway have decided to discontinue distribution. DeCoster sells eggs under many brand names including Wright’s Family Farm. California has banned both production and distribution of cage produced eggs. Other States are following. Recently I had a conversation with a backyard hen owner and compared my experience having owned hens at age 10 with her current experience. Contrary to popular belief these animals are not stupid and if you care for them they bond to you and you get to know them as individuals. We both agreed that DeCoster or anyone else who treats animals this way belongs in a cage himself. They should be prosecuted the same as the NFL Quarterback who just finished his time. I can understand why Hillandale’s owner took the 5th. These operations and many others providing cheap animal products are in violation of animal abuse laws. See the report of DeCoster testimony by clicking the highlighted text. We should not depend on Government oversight. Each of us must take the responsibility for knowing the grower of our food and determining that person’s integrity. It is becoming very clear that this due diligence cannot happen at most of today’s supermarkets with exception of some markets in California who put the name of the grower on many products and most animal products.

Food Alliance and PASA-a taped interview

September 9, 2010

The Food Alliance is a National sustainable food production and distribution certification program that is being promoted by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. PASA now has 6000 members and 3000 are farmers who employ sustainable practices. Please press the Food Alliance Label below to view a taped interviews with Brian Snyder, PASA executive director, and farmers who are both PASA members and Food Alliance certified.

Salmonella-One Bad Person or a Failed Industry

August 26, 2010

As reported extensively, three hundred million contaminated eggs have sickened more than 2000 people. Most of the eggs were sold under 12 brand names at Safeway, Trader Joes, Walmart, Albertsons, Costco, Ralph’s and others. Potentially thousands of restaurants could be serving contaminated eggs. The source was Jack DeCoster’s facility in Galt Iowa. The eggs were produced by hens that live? in battery cages, which have been called out as inhumane by the Pew Commission and banned in California. California also recently banned importation of caged eggs from out of State producers. It should be pointed out that a battery cage is 8.2”X 8.2” and confinement house density is about the same 67 square inches. But does elimination of caged egg production really solve the bacteria contamination problem? I don’t think so. Severe overcrowding in CAFOs adjacent to manure lagoons, both cited as perfect pathogen incubators by John Hopkins School of Public Health is problematic. High velocity fans pumping pathogens into the surrounding atmosphere is infecting flies, workers, and neighbors.  Infected people are contaminating hospitals and clinics (see our reference #21). But bad as repeat violator Jack Decoster is this is just the tip of a very large iceberg when considering the loss of our topsoil, our national water resources caused by corn feed production and our epidemics of obesity and diabetes caused by eating corn fed high saturated fat animal products and corn based fat and sugar laced processed food which dominates the nations supermarkets. The attached article written by Tom Philpott food editor of Grist magazine is the best of those that I have read. I would add to Tom Philpott’s conclusion. The Food Industry is violating many of nature’s laws in addition to the indiscriminant use of chemicals and the laws of basic soil science. It’s an industry desperately in need of controls.

Salmonella by Grist food editor- Tom Philpott