If you haven’t yet read the original article, Organic: You’re Thinking it Wrong, now’s a good time to do so because this one you’re on now is an addition to it. Why have I decided to create this addendum? For two reasons:
- I’ve simply done too much research to fit it all into one article (these are articles, after all, not dissertations (the little scientist in me is bummed)); and
- The original article hardly contains all of the scientific research I’ve dug up. Science-y words, lingo, and references to “research” can sometimes deter readers. Some people aren’t into science. I get it. It’s cool. But, still, I feel I should do a little extra for those people who are into research. I don’t want to scare folks away from my original points by including sci-babble there, so I’ve taken it and put it here. Lucky you! 🙂
Final warning: This article is quite long. If you’re not up for it, just skip it and wait a few weeks to read my article on the wonders of coconut oil.
Tables: A Closer Look
I’m going to start this article by addressing those two tables I referenced previously in the report by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTHR) in Hawai’i. As a reminder, those tables list both non-synthetic (naturally occurring) and synthetic (manufactured and/or mined) materials ALLOWED to be used in organic farming. Just in case you haven’t clicked the link, here’s a snapshot of those tables (click on them to view full size):
The CTHR defines synthetic as a “substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.” [emphasis mine]
Notice the materials on these charts are found in nature relatively easily: sure, they need to be dug out (like copper), extracted or otherwise contained (like ethylene or peracetic acid), but that’s mostly all there is to their “processing”. No acronyms, abbreviations, or nicknames needed. In fact, they’re all pronounceable, understandable, generally known, and un-scary materials.
Remember the old Breyer’s ice cream commercial with the little kids trying to pronounce ingredients on the labels of those “other” ice cream brands? How they couldn’t get past the first few ingredients in those imposter ice creams, but Breyer’s simply had known components like milk, sugar, cream, vanilla, cocoa?
Yeah, organics is kinda like that.
Let’s Get Real: Mass Quantities
I’d like to take a moment to pull out for you a particular paragraph in the CTHR report (page 6):
In order to create sufficient amounts of organic pesticides for farmers and consumers nationwide, they must be manufactured in commercial facilities, under controlled conditions. Commercial quantities of organic pesticides are made or synthesized by extracting substances from a plant. They can also be made or manufactured by industrial processes from commercially available chemical supplies. Some of these ingredients, such as boric acid and elemental sulfur, are also mined from the earth.
My dream of a farming Utopia still stands — just a little land, maybe just a few square feet, to make enough food for myself and loved ones — but I don’t want to trade my Utopian ambitions for good ol’ common sense. And that’s what this paragraph is pointing to: the difference between the needs of the private organic farm and the commercial organic farm.
Utopia vs. Common Sense: Organic farmers don’t only feed their own.
Likely easy enough to grow absolutely pure organics in your own home, but these farmers are feeding thousands. They’re not a private production. As the paragraph states, organic farming is a commercial business which requires commercial quantities of organic chemical. They can’t just wander down to the corner of their lot and dig out an ample enough supply of boron or squish out a bunch of soybean oil (after growing said soybeans) to cover their crops’ needs. These farmers need a supplier, and that means a factory. That said, just because something is made in a factory doesn’t automatically mean we should be afraid of it.
Just look at CTHR’s definition of synthetic again, particularly the part I italicized: chemically changes. It’s worthwhile to point out that, though some organic farming chemicals are produced in a plant, lab, or factory, the chemical structure of those “manufactured” products are the same as those found in nature. They’re not just synthetic, alley-way knock-offs of Mother Nature’s Prada bag; it’s not as if nature’s version is the name brand drug and the lab’s version is the generic. These chemicals are IDENTICAL, in the true meaning of the word. No fillers, no dyes. Chemically, they’re exactly the same. Think of the organic chem labs as little Prada satellite shops; they make the real thing, it’s just that Prada has opened up a new location away from the “home office”. Yay for shopping!
(Author’s Note on Generic Drugs: while many drug companies would like you to think otherwise, name brand drugs and their generics are only equivalent in their active ingredient, not in ALL ingredients; inactive ingredients can vary greatly, making “the FDA’s use of the word identical, when describing generic drugs… misleading. First, the inactive ingredients (colors, binders, fillers, etc) do not have to be “alike in every way” to the brand name product. In fact, they are often quite different. These so-called inactive ingredients or “excipients” may influence how the product affects patients. For example, a patient who is allergic to a particular color may develop a rash when switched to a generic product.” (Source: PeoplesPharmacy.com))
There are 3 More Things You Should Know…
…but, before I get into that, I want to give you a deeper peek at what chlorinated hydrocarbons and organochlorines are.
Chlorinated Hydrocarbons (CHCs)
As mentioned, CHCs are petroleum-derived chemicals. You may have heard the word used in reference to air pollution and as a carcinogen. MadeHow.com gives us the following briefing:
“A pesticide consists of an active ingredient coupled with inert ingredients. … Active ingredients were once distilled from natural substances; now they are largely synthesized in a laboratory. Almost all are hydrocarbons derived from petroleum.” (emphasis mine)
I don’t care how you spin it. Scientists can “water-down” petroleum and mix it with other chemicals to taste like Koolaid all they want. It’s petroleum. It’ll always be bad for you.
The most famous in this category is DDT, banned almost everywhere for it’s obvious destructive power. Lindane is another one widely banned for its danger, sadly, though, Merck says lindane is still used in some countries, though not in the USA (but don’t feel too safe: the chemical is transferred through muscle and fat tissue, and beef and pork imports are up. Basically: buy U.S. meat and dairy!).
Though OCs come in many shapes and sizes, they all share these scary characteristics:
- bind to fats;
- take a long time to break down;
- are bio-accumulative, and
- are all nerve poisons
You want a nerve poison accumulating in your body? I didn’t think so.
An OC of particular interest: Chlordane.
Chlordane, a proven carcinogen and applied to crops as a dust or emulsified spray. It is included as one of “the most potent carcinogens tested in animal models… [and] breathing chlordane in indoor air is the main route of exposure for these levels in human tissues”. Furthermore,
The non-cancer health effects of chlordane compounds, which include diabetes, insulin resistance, migraines, respiratory infections, immune-system activation, anxiety, depression, blurry vision, confusion, intractable seizures as well as permanent neurological damage, probably affect more people than cancer.
There are three things I want you to know specifically about chlordane:
- You “get” it by breathing it in or absorbing it through your skin, your body’s largest organ;
- It has a chemical half life of 10-20 years, if not more, and
- You basically make it when you clean mold with chlorinated bleach.
That’s right. I say this with authority, because I was on the phone last year with a mold expert and pathologist who told me that, despite what authorities tell you, DO NOT CLEAN MOLD WITH BLEACH or BLEACH PRODUCTS!
Mycotoxins, the invisible toxins created by molds, some of which are the most toxic substances known to mankind (Remember “Yellow Rain”? Yep. That was made using mycotoxin T-2 (See page 762 (9) of this article by WHO), which can be found in the dust of building ventilation systems and this doctor considers mold such a problem it should be considered a pandemic), are bad enough. But, compound that with cleaning up a mold problem with bleach, and you’ve got whole other issues on your plate.
According to my source, mycotoxins + chlorinated bleach = a chemical equivalent to chlordane. And “chemical equivalent” means “causes the same effect as”.
So, please, instead of using bleach to clean mold and mildew (which is still mold), use any of these safe alternatives:
- Ammonia. Widely available and the neutralizer Mother Nature uses. What a great recommendation!
- Grass fed beef contains fewer mycotoxins, likely the result of the ammonia in the urine of the cattle neutralizing the toxin in the grass before they eat it. (Source: CRC Handbook of Foodborne Diseases of Biological Origin, (c) 1983 CRC Press, Inc.; Jr., Rechcigl Miloslav, PhD., Nutrition Advisor & Director, US Department of State. Yes, I actually own and read that book. It was fascinating and, if you’re into that sort of read, I highly recommend it.)
- While I don’t know if ammonia will kill the root of the mold “plant”, it is an effective toxin neutralizer.
- Vinegar. Great for household cleaning as well as de-toxing and washing edibles (i.e. veggies and fruits).
- Baking soda.
- You can also mix baking soda with vinegar to create a scrubby, natural, anti-mold version of Ajax Powder, which is powdered bleach mixed with abrasives and fragrance.
- Along with trying my best to eat an alkalizing diet, I drink 1/2 tsp or so of baking soda in a glass of water each night to help my body neutralize the mycotoxins that my body has absorbed along with those toxins created by the fungus (one is candida, a yeast (like mold, also a fungus), which you may have heard hype about and which can cause a slew of real medical problems) overgrowth going on inside me. (I’ll spare you the details of how I know this.)
But, back to talking about inorganic farming chemicals. Here are those
3 (More) Things You Should Know About Inorganic Farming
1. Water solubility of chemicals used.
Pesticides and other materials used in organic farming practice are either water soluble, burned as fuel by the body (in indiscriminate amounts), or are not used as fuel and therefore flushed out through the usual routes (e.g. defecation or urination). That means they work in line with your body’s natural cleansing system, like your liver, kidneys, lymph system, and sweat glands.
Remember, again, that CHCs and OCs aren’t water soluble, even according to our U.S. government authorities, the highest source of authoritative information that can be referenced.** In other words, you can’t drink enough water to “wash” CHCs and OCs out of your body. Water doesn’t break them down, doesn’t do anything except bounce off them like a sad little balloon off a little girl’s head. So, it you can’t flush them out, where do these chemicals go?
2. How the body stores those chemicals.
CHCs and OCs are attracted to fat (fat soluble). They dissolve in and are absorbed by fats, like good ol’ body fat. This is why athletic people (i.e. people who have a lot of lean muscle, not much body fat) are less prone to becoming sick off of these chemicals, because their bodies simply aren’t storing them up.
But let’s face it: Joe and Jill Shmoe don’t score 10% body fat. In fact, fat makes up approximately 23% of the average male American’s body and 34% the average American female’s. And that’s often why we can get sick or feel so crappy after starting a great workout and weight loss routine. Sure, it’s hard, tiring work; exercising to get thinner can makes you feel even more out of shape; and nobody wants to take a salad over a cheeseburger (well, sometimes I do), but that’s not all of the reason why we don’t like exercise. The fact is, when you start burning your body fat for energy, you release those toxins, including those CHCs and OCs, into your bloodstream, and the result can actually make you ill.
In an article about bodily toxicity and its dangers, Dr. Palmquist says that individuals with overly toxic bodies should take precaution, and that “toxic laden patients often dislike exercise as their body is instructing them not to move so they will keep these toxins hidden in their tissues.”
3. Some organic chemicals may be “worse”, but they’re also used less.
I’m going to qualify this by saying “used less by true, organically minded farmers”, because, sadly, some farmers want the “organic” label for profiteering reasons instead of farming organically with the environment and long-term public health in mind. It’s the later group I’m referring to here.
I mentioned in my previous article that some of organic materials, like copper pesticide, for instance, are actually worse than their synthetic counterparts for human health. Multiple studies have shown that fact to be true. But, when one considers how organic farming is accomplished — by using crop rotation, soil preservation, use of natural predators, and planting native crops — then “organic pesticides are ‘irrelevant.'” Simon Jacques, Ontario representative for organic certification program Ecocert, says in this article that
Organic farmers are only supposed to use natural pesticides as a last resort. … [and that it’s] ‘a misconception to imagine that organic farmers are farming just the same way as pure conventional farmers but substituting organically approved pesticides and fertilizers for synthetic ones, because that’s not what’s happening.’ [emphasis mine]
I’m going to insert a plug here for locally grown food, but I’ll make it quick. It’s my opinion that small organic hobby farms and ranches that sell their meat and produce to the public are generally farming organically for the right reasons, like environmental sustainability and longevity, and the long-term health of their customer, who also happen to be their neighbors.
In light of that, I encourage anyone to do as much of their shopping as they can at small grocery stores specializing in local and organic fare, at a farmer’s market, directly from the farmers themselves (sometimes called “U-Pick farms”), or grow your own food!
Here’s to eating and being healthy!
*By “raw state” I mean you can dig it up and — voila! — there it is. For example, boron, sulfur, and metals (gold, silver, copper, etc.), are found raw in nature. I hate leaving the words “raw state” out of sentences like “can be found in nature,” because, let’s face it, everything can be found in nature. Humans don’t materialize atoms out of thin air; we get them from somewhere, and that somewhere is nature. Though plastic itself is not a natural substance, the various ingredients used to create plastic are found “in nature”. Similarly, one could argue chlorinated hydrocarbons and organochlorines can be “found” in nature… if one squeezes some chemical bonds hard enough and in the right fashion.
I realize it’s a stretch, but I like to aim for clarity, and specificity, where and when I can.
**It may seem as if I’m contradicting myself by saying the U.S. government’s claims should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism and then saying they are “the highest source of authoritative information that can be referenced”, but I’m not. No doubt, our government is made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals who are generally well-meaning, good people who have no malicious intention and are just trying to live their lives as you and I do. For example, I don’t blame the local Joe Shmoe cop for the problems covered over by the highest authority in the Judicial branch; there are laws in place and it’s his job (mostly, unless you count that “threats both foreign and domestic” bit) to trust his employers and follow through with those laws.
Additionally, so far in the research I’ve conducted involving government publications (including both websites and in print), I’ve found there is no direct omission of data. There is, however, a careful separation of critical points and facts from one another; facts that would be missed by most individuals reading those publications; data points that would mean something entirely different if report A were read beside report B and cross-referenced with report C, many times reports written by different authorities, making the cross-referencing that much more difficult.
But the public doesn’t generally have the time, energy, or the know-how to do this kind of research, and it’s my assumption that our overseers know it.
Take mold, for example, a rather hot topic for me because I’m working on a two-year-so-far book project about it. If you look up mold on the CDC’s website in search of mold’s adverse health effects, you’ll find a pretty familiar list of symptoms and exposure effects: shortness of breath, sneezing, coughing, with long term exposure resulting in chronic asthma. Any mom or dad reading what that authority has to say on the topic is feeling pretty at ease, given the information supplied. Just clean it up with bleach, says the CDC, (Actually… NO! DON’T!) and the sneezing and coughing goes with it.
Well, take a look here at the same organization’s list of symptoms and effects from mold’s secondary metabolite, mycotoxin. (Hint: Spores are the primary metabolite, meaning spores are how molds directly reproduce. Think of spores as seeds of a tree, and think of the mycotoxin as the oxygen created by that same tree simply by existing. The tree may seed during season, but it’s ALWAYS creating oxygen. That’s why mycotoxin exposure can’t be effectively determined by testing a room, house, area for mold spores. They’re two different metabolites of the same organism.)
Are you surprised that mycotoxin are listed under biological weapons? You shouldn’t be: T-2 toxin, one of hundreds of mold toxins, is the deadliest toxin known to mankind and was used in the Vietnam War as the infamous “Yellow Rain”. Side effects of exposure include: burning eyes, sloughing of the intestinal lining, internal bleeding, genetic mutation, personality changes, psychological disorders, cancer, and even death. And, like CHCs and COs, mycotoxins are cumulative in the body and are stored in fat, so getting rid of them isn’t as easy as making the mold go away, though that’s the best way to start.
But, wait… the CDC doesn’t say anything about mycotoxins on that first page about mold, does it? Nope. And no normal, everyday member of society would even know what a mycotoxin was, much less that it sprouted from the mold growing in their bathroom or under the kitchen sink. You’d have to be a scientist, botanist, biologist, or someone lucky (like me) to have stumbled upon it, more or less.
Or is that just a little white lie, a little distraction, to keep you quiet and happy?
My point is that, while no data seems to be omitted, the data is rather scattered about in a complicated sort of way, in a way that requires a little sneakiness and a lot of precious time and effort. That’s why I say, and say again: cross-referencing is key.
I’m not trying to spur mass hysteria or send our beloved country toppling midst citizen revolt. I am, however, trying to create a pathway to truth, honesty, clarity, and instill an importance in the well-being of people over saving face.