Fake fertilizer fraud

I like to warn folks to be careful with “industrial organic” food.  Many agribusinesses are preying on the demand for natural and organic food, by offering up their industrial garbage with a USDA “certified organic” stamp of approval.   Often this industrial organic food is produced on large monocultural operations in California or abroad.  If the USDA certification requirements are being met at all, they are often merely being satisfied technically, but in ways that are unnatural and unsustainable.

It is perhaps ironic that some of the industrial producers of “organic fertilizer” used by the large Western organic farm industry have recently been exposed as frauds.  At least four California manufacturers of “organic fertilizer” have recently been discovered offering adulterated products.   Port Organic Products of Bakersfield, for example,  sells “organic fertilizer” allegedly made from ground-up fish, and until recently was supplying about half the fertilizer used by California organic farms.   But an investigation recently revealed that POP has been using aqua ammonia in the production of its fertilizer.   Storage tanks holding petroleum-based nitrogen fertilizer were also discovered last month at another major facility in California, where ostensibly “organic” fertilizer was being produced.

This is a profitable form of fraud.  Synthethic nitrogen is about 20 times cheaper than approved sources such as ground-up fish carcasses or chicken feathers.  

It is unfortunate that folks paying exhorbitantly high prices for something they believe to be “organic” are often actually getting industrial food grown on large monocultural operations, where the crops are fertilized with synthetic nitrates. 

As I’ve often suggested, you can avoid this kind of fraud by buying your food from local farmers whose practices are known to you.  Ask them how they fertilize. 

On our farm we make our own compost.  That compost is our fertilizer, along with the litter from our henhouse.  We don’t buy “fish emulsion” or anything like that to spray on our food.  We are in no danger of being defrauded by the liars and cheats who have been supplying the California organic industry. 

Love Wins

 

Thought for the Day–Robert Taft

“When I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as “free enterprise.” I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live; the liberty of the family to decide how they wish to live, what they want to eat for breakfast and for dinner, and how they wish to spend their time; liberty of a man to develop his ideas and get other people to teach those ideas, if he can convince them that they have some value to the world; liberty of every local community to decide how its children shall be educated, how its local services shall be run, and who its local leaders shall be; liberty of a man to choose his own occupation; and liberty of a man to run his own business as he thinks it ought to be run, as long as he does not interfere with the right of other people to do the same thing.”

Love Wins

Diversity

 (For those who read Cherie’s blog, I wrote this on Monday, before she put up her similar post and without knowing she was doing it.  I am not just copying her.  Although doing so wouldn’t be a bad idea.)

A neighbor once warned us that we really shouldn’t keep a horse in the same pasture with goats.  The horse, he said, will hurt the goats.  But our goats get along great with Rowan, their thoroughbred pasture-mate.  The only problem I ever had was when I took our billy Johnny out of the pasture.  Rowan was so upset over Johnny’s leaving that I thought he was going to break through the fence.

Cherie has a big grey cat that loves to sleep curled up next to our black Lab Ginny.  We’ve kept pigs and horses in the same pasture with cows.  Our chickens wander among our dogs and cats, and are never bothered by them.  Cherie and I laugh about how well-adjusted our animals are to one another and wonder whether there is something in the air on White Flint that causes that.

Perhaps the strangest species mingling that I’ve seen occured last weekend.  As I was walking toward our henhouse I noticed something unusual hanging out near the gate to the area where we put them up at night.  As I got closer I saw that it was a large wild turkey gobbler, evidently coming to help himself to some laying mash, or maybe to court my hens.  The chickens didn’t seem to mind having him around, and he didn’t seem particularly concerned with me.  After checking me out, he wandered off into the woods.  Later that day I saw him a couple more times, hanging out with the chickens.  Eventually Ginny spotted him.  Knowing that he didn’t belong there, she chased him off. 

Maybe he’ll come back.  Maybe I’ll end up putting him the freezer.  But I doubt it.  We’re already have enough meat put away to last us for another year, and I’d rather not have to bother with cleaning him.

But I’m sure I haven’t seen the last animal cross-cultural exchange on our farm. 

There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

Love Wins

 

Fundagelicals

Almost everyone who’s ever discussed religion and politics with me knows that one of my pet peeves is the common misperception that evangelicals are some sort of political monolith.  It is a false and unfortunate stereotype.  In fact there is a great deal of political diversity among evangelicals, and in truth evangelicalism is apolitical, notwithstanding the best efforts of some famous televangelists to convince their flocks to the contrary. 

In a non-political context I recently came across what may be a semantic solution to part of the problem.  

Peter Enns is an Old Testament scholar and was until recently on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary.  Dr. Enns is no longer affiliated with Westminster because of an amazing book called Inspriration and Incarnation, which he published in 2005.  It is a beautifully written book that takes on some of the disquieting issues of Old Testament evangelical scholarship, such as the similarities between the OT and other ancient Near Eastern literature, theological diversity within the OT, apparent misuse of the OT by New Testament writers, and the like.  I intend to separately blog about the book someday, so I won’t go into much detail here.  If any of what I’ve written piques your interest–do yourself a favor and get the book.

Because Dr. Enns posed these questions, and suggested answers and ways of thinking that aren’t lock-step with traditional conservative evangelical thinking, he was forced out at Westminster.  To be fair, it wasn’t so much the Seminary that forced him out, as it was the Presbyterian churches who feed students to the Seminary, and who hire its graduates.  If I have mischaracterized the events of Dr. Enns’ departure in any way, I apologize.  But that is what I understand the circumstances to have been.

By the way, lest any of y’all assume that all seminaries are afraid of books like Inspiration and Incarnation, it is actually a required text in my Old Testament class at Asbury.

But back to the subject at hand.  In some interviews following the controversy, Dr. Enns referred to his opponents as “evangelicals.”  When some evangelicals objected to that, Dr. Enns acknowledged that it was unfair to to lump all evangelicals in with his critics.  It was then that he made an interesting suggestion:  “Perhaps it would be better to describe the more progressive articulations of evangelicalism as “evangelical” (which I would prefer) and invent a new term for the mixture of evangelicalism and fundamentalism with which I am contending, e.g., “fundagelicals.””

Dr. Enns was joking.  But I’m not. 

Rather than paint all evangelicals with the fundamentalist brush, I suggest those who combine fundamentalism and evangelicalism be called “fundagelicals.”  The rest of us can continue as evangelicals.  Problem solved.

And by the way, I love and respect my brothers and sisters who find comfort in fundamentalism.  It’s a big tent, with room for all.

Love Wins

How to spot a domestic terrorist

Between 2004 and 2007 the Department of Homeland Security, which has over 200,000 employees and a budget of over $50 billion, has doled out over $250 million to state and local governments for “fusion centers.”  These “fusion centers” exist to “collect local intelligence” to be used in defending against terrorism.  DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano calls these “fusion centers”:  “the centerpiece of state-local-federal intelligence-sharing.”

Some of these 250 plus million taxpayer dollars found their way to a “fusion center” called the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), which, according to its website, is:  “the mechanism to collect incident reports of suspicious activities to be evaluated and analyzed in an effort to identify potential trends or patterns of terrorist or criminal operations within the state of Missouri.”  

So MIAC thereafter deployed some of its taxpayer funding to commission a report called “The Modern Militia Movement.”  The report, which was circulated to the Missouri State Police,  compiled and identified the domestic terrorist profile.  I’m not sure what the report cost, but I’d sure love to know.  Please post the info if you have it.

So what is the profile of these “militia members”/domestic terrorists?

Among other things:

–“These groups are strong states’ rights advocates.”

–“This movement is strongly in opposition to the collection of federal income taxes.”

–“Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia
members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.”

–“Militia members commonly display bumper stickers that contain anti-government rhetoric.”   

–“Anti-immigration and anti-abortion material may be displayed by (these) militia members.”

–They have a “Christian Identity. (A) religious ideology popular in extreme right wing circles.”

–According to MIAC, the Gadsden Flag is “the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations.”

So there you have it my fellow citizens. Please be on the look-out for these dangerous terrorists. 

But should you spot anyone who fits the description,  I recommend that you not bother reporting their suspicious activities to the folks at MIAC.  They’re probably overwhelmed already, pursuing the terrorists who are overrunning Missouri, and, besides, $250 million only goes so far. 

So as a public service, and in order to use our national resources effectively, we here at Billsblog are offering to help bring these dangerous terrorists to justice.  If you see any of the suspicious activities listed above, just report it to us here at Billsblog, and we’ll see that it gets passed along to the appropriate authorities.

What’s the Gasden Flag, you ask?  Here you go:

Love Wins

CAFOs on the highway

Back on February 6 I posted about how the non-therapuetic use of antibiotics in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) was creating antibiotic resistant microbes that pose a grave human health risk.  Now researchers at Johns Hopkins University have determined that humans are being exposed to these CAFO-originated pathogenic bacteria, merely from sharing highways with poultry transport trucks.

The researchers collected samples taken from inside vehicles that had followed poultry transport truck, with the windows down.  They found the antibiotic resistant bacteria on the door handles, on the surface of a soft drink can inside a vehicle and in air samples from inside the vehicles.  The researchers concluded:  “Results indicate an increase in the number of total aerobic bacteria including both susceptible and drug-resistant enterococci isolated from air and surface samples, and suggest that food animal transport in open crates introduces a novel route of exposure to harmful microorganisms and may disseminate these pathogens into the general environment.”  The full study may be viewed here:  http://www.jiph.org/article/S1876-0341(08)00002-6/abstract

As I’ve pointed out before, the use of antibiotics in animal feed as a growth promotant is not only unnatural and unhealthy, but it also facilitates the creation of antiobiotic resistant bacteria that can be transmitted to humans.  Amazingly, 70% of the antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are in animal feed, where their purpose is to stimulate growth.  This is yet another example of where the Frankenfood industry is taking us, and yet another reason why responsible eaters should find a local source for naturally raised chicken.

Love Wins

Mercury and HFCS

Mercury is toxic to humans.  It is also regularly present in the high fructose corn syrup that is so common in industrial food.  On average Americans consume 12 teaspoons daily of HFCS. 

HFCS is made using mercury-grade caustic soda produced in industrial chlorine plants.  Acres USA reports that a study published in Environmental Health magazine found mercury in 50% of the tested samples of commercial HFCS.  A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury present in approximately 1/3 of 55 popular brand name products using HFCS, including Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smuckers.  The products and their mercury content can be found at www.iatp.org.

This is just the latest of many health risks identified with HFCS, which has essentially replaced natural sugar as the sweetener in seemingly every product on the supermarket shelves.  HFCS is a highly processed corn derivative, and it’s increased usage has been linked to the skyrocketing incidence of juvenile diabetes, among other things.

HFCS is so prevalent in industrial and processed foods that is difficult to avoid it.  The best way is to buy whole unprocessed foods.  When pre-sweetened or processed foods are necessary, check the label and stay away from anything that has HFCS, or that has HFCS among the first-listed ingredients.

Love Wins