Selasa, 20 Maret 2018

The FDA Wants to Take Nicotine Out of Tobacco. How Do You Do That?

Changes could be coming to cigarettes in the U.S.: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today (March 15) that it is taking steps to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes. But exactly how do you take the nicotine out of tobacco?

The agency plans to propose a new rule that would limit nicotine levels in tobacco, with an ultimate goal of lowering the amount of the compound to nonaddictive levels, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. Currently, the FDA is seeking public comment, and additional data, on how to go about developing such a rule.

"This new regulatory step … could help avoid millions of tobacco-related deaths across the country," Gottlieb said.

Although people may think of "nicotine" and "tobacco" as synonymous, there are indeed ways to separate one from the other. [Kick the Habit: 10 Scientific Quit-Smoking Tips]

What the FDA is proposing is called a low-nicotine-content cigarette, in which the actual amount of nicotine in the product is capped at a certain amount, said Andrew Strasser, an associate professor of behavioral health in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

One way to do this is through genetic engineering. This means that scientists would modify genes in the tobacco plant so that those that control nicotine production are shut down, Strasser told Live Science. The resulting tobacco wouldn't have any nicotine, and this tobacco could be combined with regular tobacco to create low-nicotine cigarettes.

Such low-nicotine-content cigarettes already exist for research purposes. And there have been commercial versions — a company called Vector Tobacco produced a low-nicotine-content cigarette called Quest from 2002 to 2010, according to Forbes.

But these products shouldn't be confused with so-called "light" cigarettes. With light cigarettes, the design of the cigarette is altered in a way that could, in theory, deliver lower amounts of nicotine if they were used in a specific way, said William Shadel, associate director of the Population Health Program at Rand Corp. For example, these products had ventilation holes to dilute the tobacco smoke with air. But these products still have the same amount of nicotine as regular cigarettes. And studies have found that smokers can get large amounts of nicotine from these products by blocking the ventilation holes or by inhaling more deeply.

Smokers are "very good at getting the amount of nicotine they want from the cigarettes," Shadel said.

In contrast, cigarettes made with tobacco that is genetically engineered to have a low nicotine content cannot be manipulated in this way. With these cigarettes, "more vigorous puffing is not rewarded more nicotine," Strasser said.

So could these cigarettes actually work to reduce nicotine addiction and prevent tobacco-related deaths? More research is needed to answer that question, but Strasser and Shadel agreed that early research is promising.

For example, a 2015 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that smokers who were assigned to use cigarettes with low nicotine content (between 0.4 and 2.4 milligrams of nicotine per gram of tobacco) smoked fewer cigarettes per day, and were less dependent on nicotine, than those who used regular cigarettes (with 15.8 milligrams of nicotine per gram of tobacco). In a 2016 study, Strasser and his colleagues similarly found that low-nicotine cigarettes were associated with reduced smoking.

"This move is very exciting and very encouraging for our field," Strasser said of the FDA announcement.

Researchers still need to examine exactly how much nicotine should be in a cigarette to reduce nicotine dependence, Shadel said. And there's still the question of whether such a rule should be implemented immediately or gradually.

"Do you rip the Band-Aid off slowly or quickly?" Strasser said. "How quickly do you move to reach the new standard of nicotine content?"

Senin, 19 Maret 2018

Should You Worry About Microplastics in Bottled Water?

Bottled water sampled from manufacturers around the world is teeming with microplastics — tiny plastic particles that are often too small to see — according to a new report.

Tests of 250 bottles from 11 bottled water brands revealed microplastics in 93 percent of the samples, with an average of 325 particles per 34 fluid ounces (1 liter) of water.

These findings, discovered by scientists at the State University of New York in Fredonia, sound alarming. However, the report was not submitted for publication in a scientific journal, a process that involves extensive review of a study's methods and findings by scientists who were not involved in the research. Rather, the investigation was launched and then released by Orb Media (OM), a nonprofit that uses journalism and data science to investigate global environmental issues, according to the company's website.

The consequences of these findings for human health are "unknown," OM representatives said in a statement.

Microplastics measure under 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) in length — about the size of a sesame seed or smaller — and they originate from many sources, such as microbeads that are commonly found in health and beauty products, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Humans have produced an estimated 9 billion tons of plastic, Live Science previously reported. Plastic is the most common form of rubbish found in the world's oceans, and microplastics are so small that they can evade methods for collecting or filtering plastic trash; studies have shown that microplastics are present in nearly every environment on Earth and can be found in the guts of many types of sea birds and marine life, according to NOAA.  

And according to the new report, microplastics are also widely distributed in bottled drinking water. Regardless of whether the findings are verified by scientists unaffiliated with the study, the health risks of microplastics are far from known and depend on the quantities that are ingested and how long the minuscule particles linger in a person's gut, experts say.

"Painting" particles
For the study, reporters with Orb Media bought prepackaged cases of water from locations in nine countries and across five continents, examining internationally distributed brands that included Dasani, Evian, San Pellegrino, Nestlé Pure Life and Aquafina.

A dye called Nile red helped researchers to find the microplastics. First used in 1985, Nile red adheres to plastic and fluoresces through an orange filter when viewed under a blue-green wavelength, which enables scientists to distinguish plastic particles from sediment, according to a study published in October 2016 in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study authors then filtered the water to 1.5 microns (0.0015 millimeters) — an area "smaller than a human red blood cell" — and counted the trapped fluorescing particles using an application called Galaxy Count. Molecular analysis identified particles such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon and polypropylene in quantities of up to 10,000 particles per 34 fluid ounces (1 liter) in the water tested, according to the report.

However, bottled water manufacturers contacted by OM regarding the study claimed that the findings greatly overstated the amount of microplastics in their water, and Nestlé handed over their own test results from six bottles that contained "between zero and five plastic particles per liter," according to the report. 

Concerns about ingesting microplastics stem from their ability to accumulate high concentrations of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can then be absorbed into gut tissue, scientists reported in a study published in June 2016 in the European Food Safety Authority Journal.

Limited data
OM partnered with media organizations in 10 countries — the U.K., Canada, Spain, Finland, Bangladesh, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, Indonesia and India — to distribute the study's results, representatives said in the statement.

Coverage of the study by the BBC — one of OM's media partners — announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) is gearing up to "launch a review" into microplastics and their impact on public health, following the study's findings.

However, though WHO is aware of the study and its findings, much more data would be required on microplastics' impact on human health for the health organization to take action, WHO representative Fadéla Chaib told Live Science in an email.

"For WHO to make an informed risk assessment, we would need to establish that microplastics occur in water at concentrations that would be harmful to human health," Chaib said. But for now, information on microplastics in drinking water is "very limited," and there is no information to suggest that its presence is dangerous to people, Chaib said.

As part of the organization's ongoing analysis of emerging evidence about microplastics, WHO will monitor and review evidence gaps to determine where more research is required, according to Chaib.

"WHO's priority remains promoting access to safe water for 2 billion people who currently use and drink contaminated water," she told Live Science. 

The report has been submitted for peer review; the methods that the group used to test for plastic particles "are readily available," according to an OM FAQs document about the project.

"We encourage additional testing by others following the same rigorous standards," OM representatives said in a statement.

Sabtu, 17 Maret 2018

Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases

The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.

The lymphatic system primarily consists of lymphatic vessels, which are similar to the circulatory system's veins and capillaries. The vessels are connected to lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.

Description of the lymphatic system
There are hundreds of lymph nodes in the human body. They are located deep inside the body, such as around the lungs and heart, or closer to the surface, such as under the arm or groin, according to the American Cancer Society. The lymph nodes are found from the head to around the knee area. 

The spleen, which is located on the left side of the body just above the kidney, is the largest lymphatic organ, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). "The spleen . . . acts as a blood filter; it controls the amount of red blood cells and blood storage in the body, and helps to fight infection," said Jordan Knowlton, an advanced registered nurse practitioner at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. 

If the spleen detects potentially dangerous bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms in the blood, it — along with the lymph nodes — creates white blood cells called lymphocytes, which act as defenders against invaders. The lymphocytes produce antibodies to kill the foreign microorganisms and stop infections from spreading. Humans can live without a spleen, although people who have lost their spleen to disease or injury are more prone to infections.

The thymus is located in the chest just above the heart, according to Merck Manual. This small organ stores immature lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells) and prepares them to become active T cells, which help destroy infected or cancerous cells. 

Tonsils are large clusters of lymphatic cells found in the pharynx. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, they are the body's "first line of defense as part of the immune system. They sample bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth or nose." They sometimes become infected, and although tonsillectomies occur much less frequently today than they did in the 1950s, it is still among the most common operations performed and typically follows frequent throat infections.

Lymph is a clear and colorless fluid; the word "lymph" comes from the Latin word lympha, which means "connected to water," according to the National Lymphadema Network. 

Plasma leaves the body's cells once it has delivered its nutrients and removed debris. Most of this fluid returns to the venous circulation through tiny blood vessels called venules and continues as venous blood. The remainder becomes lymph, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Unlike blood, which flows throughout the body in a continue loop, lymph flows in only one direction — upward toward the neck. Lymphatic vessels connect to two subclavian veins, which are located on either sides of the neck near the collarbones, and the fluid re-enters the circulatory system, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Diseases and disorders of the lymphatic system
Diseases and disorders of the lymphatic system are typically treated by immunologists. Vascular surgeons, dermatologists, oncologists and physiatrists also get involved in treatment of various lymphatic ailments. There are also lymphedema therapists who specialize in the manual drainage of the lymphatic system.

The most common diseases of the lymphatic system are enlargement of the lymph nodes (also known as lymphadenopathy), swelling due to lymph node blockage (also known as lymphedema) and cancers involving the lymphatic system, according to Dr. James Hamrick, chief of medical oncology and hematology at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta.

When bacteria are recognized in the lymph fluid, the lymph nodes make more infection-fighting white blood cells, which can cause swelling. The swollen nodes can sometimes be felt in the neck, underarms and groin, according to the NLM.

Lymphadenopathy is usually caused by infection, inflammation, or cancer. Infections that cause lymphadenopathy include bacterial infections such as strep throat, locally infected skin wounds, or viral infections such as mononucleosis or HIV infection, Hamrick stated. "The enlargement of the lymph nodes may be localized to the area of infection, as in strep throat, or more generalized as in HIV infection. In some areas of the body the enlarged lymph nodes are palpable, while others are to deep to feel and can be seen on CT scan or MRI."

Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions occur when a person's immune system is active, and can result in enlargement of lymph nodes. This can happen in lupus, according to Hamrick. 

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes. It occurs when lymphocytes grow and multiply uncontrollably. There are a number of different types of lymphoma, according to Dr. Jeffrey P. Sharman, director of research at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and medical director of hematology research for the U.S. Oncology Network.

"The first 'branch point' is the difference between Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)," Sharman said. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common of the two, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. 

The most common types of NHL are follicular, which accounts for about 30 percent of all NHL cases; diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), which comprises 40 to 50 percent of NHL cases; and Burkitt's lymphoma, which accounts for 5 percent of NHL cases. "The remainder of cases makes up the bewildering complexity of NHL," Sharman said.

"Though there can be a significant range within an individual category, the clinical approach to each category is unique and the expectations of patient outcome varies by category," Sharman said.

When a person has had surgery and/or radiation to remove a cancer, the lymphatic flow back to the heart and can result in swelling or lymphedema, Hamrick noted. This most commonly occurs in women who have had surgery to remove a breast cancer. Part of the operation to remove the breast cancer involves removing lymph nodes in the armpit. 

The more lymph nodes removed the higher the risk of chronic bothersome swelling and pain due to lymphedema in the arm, Hamrick explained. "Fortunately, modern surgical techniques are allowing for fewer lymph nodes to be removed, and thus fewer cases of severe lymphedema for breast cancer survivors."

Some interesting research has been done on why people possibly get lymphoma. For example, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam researched a nationwide Dutch pathology registry between 1990 and 2016. From the research, they estimated that the risk of developing anaplastic large cell lymphoma in the breast after getting implants is 1 in 35,000 at age 50, 1 in 12,000 at age 70, and 1 in 7,000 at age 75. The study was published in the Jan. 4, 2018 issue of the journal JAMA Oncology.

Castleman disease is a group of inflammatory disorders that cause lymph node enlargement and can result in multiple-organ dysfunction, according to the Castleman Disease Cooperative Network. While not specifically a cancer, it is a similar to a lymphoma and is often treated with chemotherapy. It can be unicentric (one lymph node) or multicentric, involving multiple lymph nodes. 

Lymphangiomatosis is a disease involving multiple cysts or lesions formed from lymphatic vessels, according to the Lymphangiomatosis & Gorham's Disease Alliance. It is thought to be the result of a genetic mutation. 

Tonsil stones are another problem that can happen to the lymphatic system. Small bits of debris catches on the tonsils and white blood cells attack the debris and leave behind hard a hard biofilm that breaths oxygen. They are not smooth like regular stones, though. "Instead, they look like prunes, with crevices where bacteria can accumulate," said Chetan Kaher, a dentist in London. Usually, tonsil stones fall away and get swallowed, but sometimes they need to be manually removed.

Diagnosis and treatment
Diseases of the lymphatic system are usually diagnosed when lymph nodes are enlarged, Hamrick noted. This may be discovered when the lymph nodes become enlarged enough to be felt ("palpable lymphadenopathy") or are seen on imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs.

The majority of enlarged lymph nodes are not dangerous; they are the body's way of fighting off an infection, such as a viral upper respiratory infection. If the lymph nodes become significantly enlarged and persist longer than the infection, then they are more worrisome. There is no specific size cutoff, but typically nodes that persist at larger than a centimeter are more worrisome and warrant examination by a doctor.

Common symptoms of any lymphatic disorder include swelling of the arm or groin, weight loss, fever and night sweats, according to Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. "A PET or CAT scan is usually ordered to further investigate." 

The diagnosis of lymphadenopathy depends on the location of the abnormal lymph nodes and other things that are going on with the patient. If the patient has a known infection, then the lymph nodes can simply be followed to await resolution with treatment of the infection. If the nodes are growing quickly and there is no obvious explanation then typically a biopsy is warranted to look for a cancer or an infection. If the node can be felt then this can be done at the bedside with a needle, according to Hamrick. 

If the lymph node is deeper, such as in the abdomen or pelvis, Hamrick said the biopsy might need to be done by an interventional radiologist using image guidance to place the needle into the node. Sometimes the biopsy needs to be done by a surgeon in the operating room. This is often where the most tissue can be obtained to make a diagnosis, he said.

With many types of lymphoma and leukemia, there are unique treatment options for each type, according to Sharman. "There is no one 'summary' of treatment options. Treatment options can include traditional chemotherapy, immunotherapy (such as using antibodies or immune modulating drugs), and even radiation."

Treatment of lymphatic diseases depends on treating the underlying cause. Infections are treated with antibiotics, supportive care (while the immune system does its job, as in a viral infection) or antivirals. Lymphedema can be treated by elevation, compression and physical therapy. Cancers of the lymphatic system are treated by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, or a combination of those modalities, Hamrick noted. 

In last several years, Sharman noted that there has been explosion of new treatment options. "There are a handful of newly approved drugs that target the actual disease causing processes within cells. Ibrutinib, idelalisib, obinutuzumab, lenalidomide have been approved in various indications and it is likely that we will see multiple more in coming years."

Minggu, 07 Januari 2018

Romano and Frie d'Or

A few months ago I bought two young Guernsey heifers. I don't know a lot about guernsey's but I think that one might have more guernsey in her than the other. If you'd seen my dairy herd, you would wonder why I would want more milkers, especially as I don't actually have a dairy. I do however like to milk cows and my existing milkers don't have a lot of volume. For example these two new heifers are milking more than my previous three cows. Time is money they say!

I've bred most of my own milkers for the last few years and breaking the heifers in hasn't been too hard. I milked their mothers so they have been familiar with me and the yards and so when it came time to milk them, for the most part they were fairly easy to break in. I would feed them in the yard, in the milking bale for them to get used to how things work. I would occasionally have to rope them and drag them in, but not with a great deal of difficulty.

These two were a little different and needed a little more encouragement. They haven't spent much time around the yards or me and I didn't really have the time to encourage them either. Kim and Edmund and I have all worked with these and tomorrow when I milk I am pretty sure they will come into the bale without to much trouble, but it might still take three people to get them there. Me on my own will just encourage them to run around the yard and not go into the bale. Luckily they are pretty quiet, even though they aren't people friendly.

I've started a habit of naming my cows after cheeses. Frie d'Or is a cheese that comes from the Guernsey Dairy and is translated as "Meadow of Gold" or "Golden Meadow". I think that's an appropriate  name for my yellow cow. But I will shorten it to Freda. The red cow is Romano - she is my new favourite milker - absolutely soft as to milk and lots of it.

The other good news is that one of the calves is a heifer - another milker for me!

Romano's milk.

And they seemed to give a lot more cream than my other cows......yum....guernsey cream!

Jumat, 20 Oktober 2017

What's a healthy diet

What constitutes a healthy diet? Paleo, high fat/low carb, low GI.

I follow a basic, probably traditional Aussie style diet, with a multicultural influence! Probably the closest "diet" to what I eat is the Weston A Price dietary guidelines. They focus on high quality (grassfed etc) meat, raw milk, bone broth, fermented foods and traditional foods. Grains are okay as long as they are properly prepared. Basically a balanced diet, low in sugary foods, high in good quality fats, especially meat and dairy fats. It suits me!

The recent conference we went to with Dr Arden Anderson challenged my idea of a good, healthy diet. I fully agreed and endorsed everything he said about farming and grazing in a biological way, but when it came to his recommendation for a healthy diet I'm not so sure. I'll list what these recommendations were and my thoughts on them below.

1.  80% plant based diet. This includes 1-2 dozen different varieties of fruit or vegetable - staying away from any GMO foods. It means eating meat about once per week. He didn't think that grain fed meat was any worse than grassfed (with regards to beef or lamb), we just need to eat less.

My thoughts - I agree that most Australians eat too much meat, I don't agree with the idea that grain fed is okay. Grain feeding animals, especially in a feedlot is just not good on any level - ethically or to create a healthy food product. I also find it hard to consider the idea of one meat meal a week. I thought I'd try to do one a day, but so far that isn't working either. For me and my family personally, we work a physical job and we need meat for energy. We also produce our own high quality meat. I think if I had to buy meat, I would drastically reduce the amount we eat, but probably not to the advised level. I probably should try it, but I think I'd get too hungry. With regards to 12-24 different plants per day, some days that would be easy, but other days quite tricky! We often have salads for lunch and stir fry veg for dinner, so there's a good variety in those things. I think that is the take home message - just try and get as much variety as possible. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients, so that makes a lot of sense. We will continue to increase our vegetable intake, while reducing our meat - mostly by portion control.

2.  Supplementation essential. On the whole we have poor quality food, due to depleted soils and top of that we have too many stressors in life.

My thoughts - Soil health does determine the health of the food grown in or on that soil. Choosing good quality organic or biologically farmed produce will help to ensure the food is not of poor quality. Growing your own or buying from local farmers or farmers that you can trust, is the main thing, along with staying away from any processed food. I know that our soils are deficient in some things - especially iodine and selenium, so that would be a good thing to remember. Iodine is easy - use good quality sea salts and eat seafood and seaweed. I have been told in the past that selenium is one thing we should be supplementing with as it's hard to find a food source of it.  At the end of the conference he suggested us taking a super duper multi nutrient daily tablet, which we could order on line from a particular website. This website has close links to him and his wife, so I'm not completely sure how impartial that recommendation is.

3.  Water is essential - 1/2 your weight in ounces. Which for me works out about 2-3 litres/day. I fully agree with this one.

4.  Exercise is essential - not necessary to be high intensive - walking for 20-30 minutes is good. I agree with this one too. Exercise is so good for general health and well being, but especially for mental health.

5. Sleep - 7-9 hours per night. Couldn't agree more!! I definitely suffer if I have less than this on a regular basis.

These were the main things he mentioned. So now I have this dilemma - when you hear a respected doctor tell you that you should follow a certain diet that you don't really agree with, what do you do? I think that's what's so confusing about health. We get bombarded with differing viewpoints and it's really hard to know what's best. I was listening to Cyndi Omeara on a podcast the other day. She's another person who I think has a lot of good stuff to say about diet and health. She made the comment that it's not old foods that are making us sick, it's new foods. If we go back a couple of generations and look at the diets, they were pretty basic, but all included real food, grown in/on healthy soils. No processed junk! No glysophate! Just quality meats (and meat fats) and vegetables and a little bit of fruit and whole grains! So I think I'll just stick to that kind of a diet, which is what I'm doing anyway.

Sabtu, 07 Oktober 2017

Biological Farming

There is a disconnect between people that eat food and people that grow food. And even those that grow food have a disconnect between the food that is grown and the soil that it is grown in. Food just happens to be one of the most important things for life, along with air and water. Agriculture supplies food, so therefore Agriculture should be important. Unfortunately we as a society put very little importance on food, so how can we expect society to put any importance on Agriculture.

True health must begin with Agriculture. Even if you eat package food, it did originally start as a living thing, well parts of it did. So much has happened on the way from living plant or animal to being consumed that it is easy not to realise how it began.

I've recently attended a conference where the speaker was Dr Arden Anderson. He is an American GP, currently owns a medical practice, but he also consults and lectures about sustainable agriculture. There is some interesting youtube clips here. Basically he got sick of treating sick and dying people in his practice, that were sick and dying due to our current food system. Our modern agricultural practices are killing us via the over use of pesticides, herbicides and salt based fertilisers, along with the introduction of genetic modification (GM). These things all destroy the soil food web (soil biome) that convert the trace elements and minerals in the soil into a form that the plant can take up through their roots.

Just like we need a healthy biome in our gut, and on our skin, so does soil and plants. It's the same for the plants that we eat and those that animals eat. According to Dr Anderson there are two factors in our modern agricultural system that are the worst - glysophate (roundup) and genetic modification of plants. It is almost impossible to remove all traces of glysophate out of our food systems. If it has been used on or near any food plants, it will be in that food. In the US, they have even found traces of it in rain water. We don't grow many GM crops in Australia, only canola and cotton seed, so if you eat deep fried food, you will certainly be ingesting GM material as these are the two oils used. Packaged food if it contains American grown corn or soy (and many other gm products) will also contain GM materials.  All farming in Australia that is not organic will use glysophate as a regular weed control application.

I could go on forever about glysophate, but if you want to read more, Don Huber is a good place to start.

We don't necessarily have to eat organic to be healthy, we just need to make sure that it hasn't been grown any where near where glysophate was used.

When I was a kid we ate a lot of baked goods - home baked, and yes we used white sugar and white flour.  We didn't eat a lot of veggies and certainly not many different ones. We ate deserts every night and we were healthy and skinny. Now a days, to be considered a healthy diet,  we use unrefined sugars, wholemeal flours and whole grains (if any grains at all), nuts and seeds, many different vegetables (with as many different colours as possible) and certainly stay away from all those carbs in cakes and bickies. The difference was that those foods were grown without herbicides and pesticides, or certainly without the constant applications that modern crops get today. The soil would have been a lot healthier because of this, so therefore the plants would be healthier. And we were certainly a lot healthier.

He actually doesn't lecture on organic farming. His main thing is that we need to get the minerals back into the soil, in a balanced form, stop using glysophate and start feeding the soil so that the biology return and can thrive. Unfortunately organic farming can be too restrictive and doesn't allow some things that are perfectly safe, just haven't been organic certified. The only thing that organic certification assures you of, is that it won't have had glysophate in the system. It's called Biological Farming. Farmers should be getting paid more for growing food that is high in nutrition. Another reason to ask your farmers about their farming methods - but you need to know your farmer to ask those questions.

My next post will be the way Dr Anderson suggest we should eat, which has a few challenges for me!

Jumat, 15 September 2017

Home and Garden catchup

Well we've been home for a week (feels like months!). It was nice to get home and very pleasing to see that my veggie garden was not only still alive, but it had been cleaned up and mulched. We had two backpackers here helping Maitland while we were away and they'd been busy. The house was cleaned (I can see through my windows again!), the lawn mowed and the garden was lovely and tidy. I had lost a few plants and they had failed to water the lawn, so while it was mowed, it was nearly dead! My tomatoes, which had really only just started producing and were absolutely loaded before I left, had been decimated by chickens - they managed to get under the bird netting, and so I don't have too many of them left. I'm hoping if I keep the water up they may improve.

Each year I have a go at growing brassica's and garlic. It's always a bit tricky as we don't always have enough cool weather and this winter was a very warm one, so they haven't amounted to much. I planted broccoli and several types of cabbage, and some of them have hearted up, but nothing bigger than my fist! The broccoli hasn't formed any heads at all. So my plan for this weekend is to pick most of them and make some sauerkraut and kimchi. The garlic I'll leave in and see how it goes. I could pick it now and use it as spring garlic, but am still undecided. The kale and silverbeet have done really well.

Kale and cabbages

Warrigal Greens - these self sow every year

more Kale, Cabbages and the uneventful broccoli

Garlic, with a row of newly planted beans.

The garden was all ready for me to plant some more seedlings into, so lucky I brought some with me.  I've planted out two types of beans (dwarf and snake), rainbow chard because it's pretty and good for you, black Russian tomatoes because they did well last year and seemed to repel the bugs. And I also planted a punnet of lettuce seedlings, which will probably go to seed, but I will hopefully get some lunches out of them. The lettuce went really well over winter, which is a buggar, because we don't tend to eat much lettuce in winter!

The asparagus bed, which I cut and mulched this year (just in time) has been producing, but not as prolifically as I would like. Maybe I need to cut it back and mulch it earlier. I usually wait until it dies off, but there's not enough time between then and when it starts warming up again. Doesn't help when winter doesn't start until mid June and then is finished by July! Also, the asparagus bed is not protected by the chooks so it's been getting scratched up a bit. I did have most of my chooks under control until we went away and the pet pigs busted the death row chickens out! So now there's about 10 chooks and roosters getting their revenge for me locking them away!

My little rainbow chard seedlings

I've had a couple of eggplants for the last couple of years. They died off, but this one has started re-shooting, so I thought I'd see if it comes back.

The other thing I brought back from my holiday was seaweed and sea water. I only brought a small amount of seaweed. Half I put into my worm/compost bin and the other half went into a 200L drum for a batch of liquid manure. Added to this was: the sea water (10L), wheelbarrow load of cow manure, some human urine, and topped up with fresh water. If my comfrey hadn't also been decimated by the chooks, I would've added some of that, and as I write this I remembered aloe vera, so I'll chop up some of that to add to it. I'll stir this brew every day for about a month - it's ready when it smells better than it does right now! I'll then dilute it about 10 to 1 and water my plants.

I did have a full wheelbarrow of manure, but only thought to take a photo halfway through.

Seaweed - I did give it a quick hose off before adding it to the compost and 200L drum.

All you people in the southern states will be getting excited about Spring planting,  but for us up here the growing just gets harder from now on. We have a very short spring. As it'll be hot as very soon,  the challenge is to get plants in now and get them well established before it gets too hot. Once it's hot,  planting seedlings is like burning money! 

Now all we need is some rain.

Rabu, 06 September 2017

Fast Fashion

There are so many ways that we can do our bit to create a smaller footprint on this earth. I bang on about regenerative farming ALOT as you know, but this is another thing we need to be aware of - Fast Fashion and the damage it can cause.

When I was a kid, Christmas was pretty special, because we would just about always get a new outfit. One outfit a year! In between times we wore hand me downs or second hand clothes. I can remember being so excited when Mum would bring a bag of clothes for us to go through and find what we liked. Then as I got older I learnt to sew and that was amazing. My sister and I would make our own clothes, trying to be a little bit trendy. And then when we went to boarding school, life really opened up and we would borrow clothes off our friends.

So naturally as I got older and got a job, one thing I spent money on was clothes! I do remember though that I often chose expensive labels as I knew they would last longer (not because I could afford it!). Now, I see my daughter and her friends and they are always buying new clothes. Online shopping just makes it so much easier!

There are so many problems with fashion today. There’s a lot in the media about fast fashion and the ethics of fashion. Basically slave labour is used in a lot of cases, even with (or especially with) well know fashion brands. This site, Ethical Clothing Australia lists some brands that you may want to check out. I noticed that Nobody Jeans is on the list and I absolutely love my nobody’s – in fact I don’t know that I would buy any other jeans again!

People buy cheap clothes and because they are cheap they don’t last – they either end up in land fill or second hand shops. This does extend the life of the clothes but more often than not they are only fit for rags, thus eventually ending up in landfill soon after. How were those cheap clothes produced? With cheap labour, slave labour.

Re-use and re-cycle. Don’t just throw things out, fix them. This is a bit tricky because a lot of things are poorly made, and we also don’t really have to skills today that our parents or grandparents may have had to fix clothes. My biggest problem is finding the time to do it! 

This is another reason to choose better quality, it may cost more initially but it will save money in the long term through better longevity. Shop at op shops, by buying second hand, at least you save things from going into land fill, for a while. I’ve heard of people that only choose natural fibres so that they can put their old clothes in the worm farms – you may need to pick out the buttons or zips! There are so many costs when it comes to clothes. The cost of the raw materials, the damage to communities through cheap labour, and of course how to dispose of them when there are so many clothes made each year.  

I’ve been trying to find clothes at op shops, but don’t always have much success. However, I will try to source any new clothes from ethical manufacturers or locally made clothes, and I’ll keep checking out the op shops as I can. This theory of buying better quality to last longer, to fix or re-use can be used for all our consumables. The idea of a throw away society has got to stop.

Minggu, 03 September 2017

Real Food

Some people find it hard to eat real food when on holidays and if you aren't staying somewhere where you can cook for yourself, it is a real challenge. It can also be hard to find ethical or organic ingredients. Because our holiday spot is close to where we live and regularly shop, we are lucky this time around. We've brought our own meat, have been able to fruit and vegetable shop at our regular markets and we are also close to That Wholefood Place. I stocked up there on a few things, including spelt flour for bread and the ingredients for some cacao bliss balls and muesli (as we ate all the muesli I brought with me, so had to make more). These bliss balls are super easy to make (if you have a thermomix) and are better than chocolate for a chocolate fix. I couldn't be bothered making them into balls, it is far easier to press the mixture into a square shape and then cut into small squares when cool and set.

Lucky I enjoy cooking as I've been doing a bit while away. I haven't preserved my mackerel yet, but hope to get it done - maybe tomorrow. Can't do too much in a day! I did bring my sour dough starter down, but wasn't quite organised enough today and I wanted some fresh bread to have with our left over fish chowder that we had last night for dinner. I did go to the shops to see if I could buys some sourdough but they didn't have any that looked real. So I have baked a loaf - didn't have quite enough spelt flour for it, and couldn't get more from the local store but could get some organic amaranth flour, so I've put about a third of that in the mix. It gives it a nice nutty flavour.

Eating like this is not necessarily cheaper, because buying organic ingredients to cook can be more expensive than going to the local grocery store and buying "normal" packaged food. I know I've mentioned it before, but I just can't eat regular store bought food - I'm allergic to it!

Eating real food is one of the principles that I believe in, both for my own health and the health of the planet. I've been planning a few posts that I'm half way through writing, where I'm going to discuss may views on ways to have a smaller footprint on our planet. The environmental cost to the way we live is huge and there are many ways that we as individuals can have an impact, but it does mean some (maybe major) lifestyle changes. Not everyone is prepared or even aware of the changes necessary and we can't make people change anyway. So we can only do our bit and hopefully lead by example.