Permaculture

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about permaculture lately, and like I, wondered what on earth is all the buzz about? Initially, I’ll be honest –all I saw when I looked at the word was culture, and I immediately thought it was a new group to join.

So what does permaculture really mean? Permaculture is defined as an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings.

So how do we integrate human activity with natural surroundings?

Whether on your homestead, property, or in your garden everything created- food scraps, plant waste, and animal waste is all put back into the soil, hence composting, creating a closed loop system of farming/gardening. Nothing is brought in from the outside–you use everything that is already available to you from the resources you have on hand. Thus creating zero waste.

In essence, you collect waste, you compost the waste, and then you return it to your soil. In your soil, you grow your food, and if you have livestock you grow their food too.

By doing things this way your operation is considered sustainable, as well as efficient, less costly to operate, it’s environmentally safe, as well as safer for you, your family, and anyone that eats what you produce–nothing from the outside is being hauled in that may be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, or other pollutants.

In closed-loop farming, you try to use everything such as:

  • Table scraps are composted- all scraps even bones and meat scraps.
  • Lard is rendered from pigs
  • Animal hides are tanned and turned into gloves, vest, jackets, and so much more.
  • Garden scraps–any and all safe plant scraps
  • Animal waste is composted.

By the way, this isn’t something that is new in farming, gardening, or homesteading. I grew up this way in the 70s, and know many hundreds of people that grew up this same way too. I grew up on a farm, but even most of the city kids I knew had compost pails under the sink. All kitchen scraps were thrown in the garden, and/ or fed to the chickens and pigs. Chickens scratch the ground–they are natural compost tillers. I found a great article about this here.

What is vitally important to remember as you start your spring planting is — you need your soil to be at its very best. You need to start with soil that is alive, healthy, and thriving. Chemical-laden soil grows a chemical laden product. Depleted of its nutrients soil grows depleted of its nutrients product. Small scale or large scale you don’t need to rely on places outside your farm or homestead to provide you with nutritious resources for healthy soil. You have everything it takes to make it if you have kitchen scraps, plant and animal waste, time and space.

Here’s an article I found that teaches you all about composting.

Here’s an article about building healthy soil.

Here is a Composting 101 Guide.

Here’s a Permaculture Film.

Here’s some free online streaming of all things permaculture.

And last but never least here is a family that blogs about homesteading, permaculture, and gardens created by chicken tillers– The Rhodes Family on Youtube. You will love them and find a ton of useful information about permaculture and chicken gardens here.

A special thanks to the website Permaculture Research Institute for providing hours of rich and comprehensive information for me to consume on Permaculture.

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Atrazine and its effect on the endocrine system

This blog post will outline the effects of atrazine found in our food systems and its effect on our body, specifically our endocrine system. Our endocrine system is made up of glands. These glands are controlled directly by the nervous system and chemical receptors in the blood and hormones produced by other glands. Glands regulate the functions of the organs in our body. Those functions include cellular metabolism,  reproduction, sexual development, sugar, and mineral homeostasis, heart rate and digestion to name a few. This information and more obtained here.

The anatomy of the endocrine system is as follows–

The hypothalamus is a part of the brain, located superior and anterior to the brain stem and inferior to the thalamus. The hypothalamus serves many different functions in the nervous system. It is also responsible for the direct control of the endocrine system through the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus contains special cells called neurosecretory cells that secrete the following hormones–

  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)
  • Growth hormone-inhibiting hormone (GHIH)
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)
  • Oxytocin
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)

So it is easy to see our endocrine system is vitally important to our living. The endocrine system controls our heartbeat, your ability to make a baby, bones, tissue, and plays a vital role in whether or not you will develop thyroid disorders, diabetes, growth disorders, sexual dysfunctions, and many many other issues connected to our hormones.

Disorder- to disrupt the systemic functioning

Types of Endocrine disorders–

  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Gigantism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Precocious Puberty (abnormally early puberty)

What disrupts the endocrines proper function?

  • Either a gland is making too much or too little of a hormone
  • There are lesions in the endocrine system
  • There are issues with the endocrine feedback system
  • Disease
  • Failure of simulation glands to release hormones
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Tumor

How food in our food system is linked to endocrine disruption–

From NIH–diet plays a significant role in endocrine disruption. That information and more was found here.

For the purpose of this blog post, I will discuss endocrine disruption and atrazine.

First, what is atrazine? Atrazine is a herbicide that kills broadleaf and grassy weeds. Second, where is atrazine used? Many if not most golf courses, lawns, farm fields, ditches, and roadways to name a few. Its primary use is to control weeds in corn crops.  A common tip given by Monsanto to farmers is to mix atrazine with Roundup and you’ll control even the glyphosate-resistant weeds. So, here in the Midwest, where I’ve always lived, many many fields are drenched and have been drenched in atrazine and Roundup for years.

The EPA has noted that atrazine can cause reproductive harm to mammals, fish, and birds.

Out of all the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on the market today, atrazine is the herbicide most detected in drinking water.

Filter all your drinking water. I bought a Berkey Water Filter before Christmas and absolutely LOVE IT. It’s affordable, easy to use, the water is out of this world, and it protects me and my family–we have access to safe drinking water 24/7.  Prior to getting our Berkey, we had to deal with really hard water that had high calcium content, borderline high chlorine content, and borderline lead ratings. Nothing, not in the 10 years we’ve lived in this area, has anything ever been said in the media about the city’s water. I go to the city website and read the water report every year to two years when it comes out. It’s scary how a lot of things are right on the border of being an issue. Berkey filters out everything and my family and I wouldn’t be without it. We bought ours on Amazon for $228.00 which included two filters that will last between 6 mo. and a year.

Speaking for a minute on Glyphosate–it is the most widely used agricultural chemical in history and the main ingredient in Monsanto Roundup. It has been determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a probable carcinogen. Atrazine manages to stay just under the radar but is every bit as dangerous.

When amphibians were exposed to atrazine it caused hermaphroditism. The researcher who learned of this was forbidden to release his findings. The article for this information is here.  The EPA was to complete a new assessment of the risks of Atrazine on humans health in 2016, but as yet have not completed a review of this very important issue. The EPA information and site are here.

What the experts do know is that drinking water that is contaminated with atrazine can cause low estrogen, irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal irregularities, birth defects, abdominal defects, and low birth weight for sure. If atrazine can be proven a carcinogen it could be held responsible for ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid cancer.

Atrazine has been found in high concentrations in the drinking water in the following states– ” Atrazine has been found in a majority of water samples taken from Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found atrazine in 94 percent of drinking-water samples tested.”  This information was taken from here.

According to the CDC, 75% of the population has detectable levels of atrazine in their urine.

What can you do?

  • Eat an organic diet, or eat as much organic food as your budget allows
  • Filter your drinking water

Next up—-what’s in my medicine cabinet

The right and the freedom to choose what I eat

plate

It has never been more apparent than now that we as consumers need to know exactly what we are feeding our families, have a trusting relationship with our supplier, and be made aware of where it is manufactured and by what process (genetically modified food or ?).

http://www.techyville.com/2013/09/news/tests-confirmed-aldi-beef-contained-horse-meat/ which really shouldn’t surprise me or anyone else because this same issue happened earlier this year (same company, same horsemeat issue, same retailer-Aldi’s).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/10/world/europe/uk-horsemeat-probe/index.html .  I know my family doesn’t need to worry about eating mystery meat because we don’t shop at Aldi’s. In fact, we don’t eat much meat at all anymore, having given up red meat almost 6 months ago now.

I was required to write a research paper for one of my university courses on ethics. I chose the food industry and have attached my research paper. I spent close to 100 hours researching the subject matter and have devoted the last 10 years of my life to changing my family’s diet and lifestyle-moving away from eating large retail sourced food to local food only.

The food that we the consumers buy should have labels that contain ALL the information about said food on them all ingredients, additives, where they were grown or manufactured and whether or not they are GM (genetically modified ) foods. As consumers of these products, the very least we should be given is enough information to make an informed decision as to whether we want to consume said product at all. Being given limited information or no information at all holds us prisoner to the very people who make claims to have our best interests in mind. It’s time for people to stand up and demand to know everything about the food they are eating and feeding to their children. It is, after all, going into our bodies, the same bodies we need to carry out all manner of tasks in life. It’s too much of a risk to buy from companies that make no effort or very little to ensure their suppliers are really supplying what they say they are. I mean really this problem with horse meat and Aldi’s has been going on for quite a long time.  The only way you ever really know what you are eating is to grow/raise it yourself or purchase your meat and produce from local farmers.

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