Ingredient in Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ Causes Cancer

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On September 5th, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced it would label the herbicide glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer. This implies that they have reviewed solid evidence that Roundup causes cancer.Monsantos Round Up Causes Cancer

Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, a weedkiller or herbicide that most of us, as gardeners, are familiar with. What you may not know is that this particular herbicide is the most widely used in the world, with more than 250 millions pounds of used annually in the US. What you also may not know is that it’s used with genetically modified crops, such as soy and corn, to kill any weeds. In fact, residues are now on 90 percent of soybean crops.

This all came about because a branch of the World Health Organization found in March that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans. This resulted in several countries banning or severely restricting the use of glyphosate, including the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka, with France banning it for use in gardens in June.

There was also a recent study that suggested long-term exposure to tiny amounts of the chemical (thousands of times lower than what’s allowed in drinking water in the US) could lead to liver and kidney problems.

In California, there’s a ruling called Proposition 65, which voters approved in 1986. It requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harms. The state regularly updates the list, which now includes hundreds of chemicals. When determining whether a chemical should be placed on the list, the committees base their decisions on the most current scientific information available.

On September 22nd, Enrique Rubio, a former California field worker, filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in Central California Federal Court, claiming that his 1995 bone cancer diagnosis at the age of 38 was caused by years of spraying Roundup on cucumber, onion and other vegetable crops. The same day, a similar lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York by 64-year-old Judi Fitzgerald, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. She claims her exposure to Roundup at the horticultural products company she worked for caused her illness. Both have accused the company of falsifying the safety of the product.

While the ruling doesn’t ban the sale of Roundup, environmental activists are hopeful that labeling it as a carcinogen will be the first step to make the federal EPA take notice and revise its classification of Roundup as a “safe” chemical. Monsanto continues to maintain that the product is safe.


AgriCast Digest E09: Interview with Tara Whitsitt

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This week Gabrielle interviews Tara Whitsitt of Fermentation on Wheels about starting out with fermenting foods at home to celebrate this month’s theme of cultured food. Tara explains about her mission across the nation, why fermented foods are good for your body, and easy ways to make your own ferments at home such as ale, saurkraut, kombucha, etc. She also discusses making soy-free tempeh and miso!

Visit her at and see if she’s coming to a town near you!

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Fermentation on Wheels

AgriCast Digest E08: Interview with Doug Kaufmann Part II

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In this powerful second half of the interview with Doug Kaufmann, Gabrielle goes over each subscriber submitted question. Keep listening, because the question answered could be yours!

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Toxic Environment: Practical Solutions To Keep Your Flock And Family Safe! (Part I)

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Johns Hopkins recently published a paper exposing how industrial chicken producers add arsenic containing drugs to chicken feed to cause them to gain weight quickly and have a color most people associate with chicken meat.

Eating organic doesn’t get you away from it, either. Almost every commercially available chicken contains detectable levels of the same arsenic compounds used in the pharmaceutical drugs added to feed. Certified organic doesn’t contain as much, but there is enough to cause concern. Conventionally raised chickens, of course, contain the highest levels.

According to a report by Chris Hunt of, 88% of all chickens raised for human consumption in the US were given the arsenic-based drug roxarsone made by Pfizer.

Now Pfizer pulled the drug from US markets in 2011, but what is to stop them from bringing it back after the furor has died down since the FDA did not actually ban the use of roxarsone? And a lot of commercial chicken (especially from Wally World) actually comes from Mexico and China where that drug certainly isn’t illegal and in fact is used quite frequently.

Hypothetically, let’s say that Pfizer never brings the drug back to the US market and the FDA banned the substance from chicken feed. Then we’ll even add the caveat that arsenic-based drugs are never used in this country again, even under a different name (I have to say, the likelihood of this happening is slim to none). Then we still have to deal with the fallout from all those decades of use in commercial chicken farms where the chickens ate this day and night for years, polluting the soil and water. Then more chickens come in on top of this. They scratch in the dirt. They drink the water.

Yeah, exactly.

So what are we supposed to do? Supporting efforts to eliminate toxic substances from our food supply is a cross between a smart thing to do and a pipe dream in my opinion. It’ll take years to get the ones who did this in the first place out of office and install new people who . . . hopefully won’t do the same thing.

If you only raise chickens for eggs, consider getting some dual breeds who are good for their meat as well such as a Cream Legbar.

Cream Legbars are a heritage breed, auto-sexed chicken that lays early, between 20-24 weeks, have a good amount of meat, and produce awesome blue eggs like an Araucana! There are mixed reviews on their temperament. Many find them to be calm, intelligent birds. Others find them to be loud and flighty. Likely it depends on how they mix with your existing flock.

You can also try everyone’s favorite breed, the Orpington. These are generally very sweet-natured and friendly. Great for people with children.

On Sunday, I’ll post part two with some practical solutions.

Vaccinating Your Chicks Against Marek’s Disease

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Photo by: faungg’s photo

Marek’s disease is a highly contagious and frightening phenomenon, characterized by paralysis of the legs, wings, and neck, vision impairment, weight loss, and raised and roughened skin around feather follicles. This herpes virus infection shows up in various manifestations: neurological, visceral, and cutaneous. It is also highly fatal and if your chickens get the disease, there is no cure. What can one do to protect their flock against Marek’s Disease? Vaccinating your chicks against Marek’s Disease is a good place to start.

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate

While it is common practice to vaccinate all newly hatched chicks in large factory farms, it is not always done in small flocks. Vaccination is an excellent way to prevent the adverse effect of diseases, but even greater is careful sanitation and effective flock management. Small backyard farmers may not vaccinate because they have never had a problem with disease in their flock. That is entirely possible and this is the case with many backyard chickens. Or perhaps they are not aware  disease is present, don’t know how to diagnose a disease or get the disease diagnosed, don’t know where to buy vaccines, or don’t know how to give a vaccine.

Introducing new birds into your flock greatly increases the risk that your birds will be introduced to a new disease as well. If you buy birds from an outside source, it’s a wise idea to vaccinate. If you take your birds to poultry shows or have had problems with disease in the past, it’s a great idea to get your chicks vaccinated.  While it is entirely up to you whether or not to vaccinate your birds, it can save you a whole lot of heartache and hassle later on.

When To Vaccinate Against Marek’s Disease

Chicks are generally vaccinated against Marek’s Disease on the day they hatch. This is done at the hatchery and is given subcutaneously at the back of the chick’s neck. If you order chicks from a hatchery, they should already be vaccinated for Marek’s Disease. Be sure to ask just in case!

Chicks between the age of 2-16 weeks are quite susceptible to Marek’s Disease, so if your chicks hatched at home or you purchased them from a supplier that did not vaccinate before delivery, consider vaccinating yourself. The vaccine can be purchased online from livestock supply companies such as Jeffers Livestock. Here is a link for Marek’s Disease vaccine for day old chicks: read more here.  Since it must be administered to day old-chicks, order before your chicks hatch. Your local farm supply store may also have the vaccine.

Common Egg Layer Health Problems

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Photo by: HA! Designs – Artbyheather

No one buys chickens imagining images of sick birds, death, and heartache. Yet this is a real risk involved in owning animals of any type. If you’re ever owned a pet, you know firsthand how traumatic it can be when your beloved friend becomes seriously ill and/ or passes away. Yet, don’t let the fear of sickness and losing birds keep you from keeping your own flock of chickens. Prepare yourself that things might happen and that a chicken death will happen eventually (even if it is just old age). Also, educate yourself about common chicken health problems and how you can avoid or alleviate these issues. There’s a good chance you’ll never run into chicken health problems of any kind. It’s still a great idea to be prepared. Here are a few common problems to get you started.

Egg-Bound Chickens

Sometimes, in humans, a baby grows too large to easily and naturally fit through the birth canal. Before the advent of modern medicine, this was often a fatal complication. A similar conundrum sometimes occurs in chickens. Sometimes, an egg becomes too large to fit through the chicken’s vent. A chicken who is egg bound will often be lethargic. She may be straining and doesn’t feel that great. If the bound egg is not removed, she will die. 48 hours is as long as you have. It’s time to act.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to help your hen out of this painful situation. Wearing a glove, lubricate your finger and gently insert it into the chicken’s vent, gently squeezing or massaging the hen’s abdomen with the other hand to help ease the egg out of the bird with slow and steady pressure. Be very careful not to damage your chicken’s insides! If at all possible, avoid breaking the egg. Egg material left inside your chicken can cause infection and/ or death.  If you have any questions or cannot help the egg dislodge, call your vet or an experienced chicken-raising friend.

Prolapse Vent

Sometimes, such as if a hen has laid an unusually large egg for example, the lower part of a hen’s oviduct turns inside out. It protrudes visibly through the chicken’s vent. A prolapsed vent is quite serious and likely to recur, but it is also quite treatable if treated immediately. Should the prolapsed vent be left out, it is possible that the chicken’s oviduct and/or intestines will be pulled out  or that it will become cut and infected. The chicken will die. Sorry for the graphic nature, but it is true. Exposed wounds simply ask for trouble; your other chickens will peck at her. Should you notice a protruding area of pink or red behind your chicken’s vent, manually push it back inside and apply hemorrhoid cream. Carefully watch for a reoccurrence and handle the issue immediately.

Respiratory Infections

Just like people, chickens can suffer from a wide range of respiratory infections. Severe respiratory infections can be fatal if not treated (others clear up on their own). Infectious bronchitis, fowl pox, avian influenza, infectious coryza, and swollen head syndrome are just a few of many examples. This is a great source of information about chicken respiratory infections and diseases: read more here.  The Poultry Guide also offers an excellent guide about common chicken diseases: Poultry Guide.

The Ultimate Food—Are Eggs Really Good For You?

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It is the best of foods; it is the worst of foods. It’s been heralded as a super food once or twice, then scorned as a cholesterol-laden poison. So, what is truth and what is farce when it comes to the simple egg? Nature’s most simple meal, eggs have been eaten since the beginning of human history. Used in a huge variety of recipes as well as eaten alone, the egg is a rich source of protein and is very easy to obtain. Should you make eggs a regular part of your diet? It depends on whom you ask.

The Truth About Cholesterol

One large egg averages between 63-84 calories (sources vary widely). It contains 186- 213 mg of cholesterol (source vary here too) and approximately 6 grams of fat. Eating too much cholesterol will adversely affect your heart and may lead to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. One who suffers from high cholesterol may not want to eat a dozen eggs per week. According to Dr. Thomas Behrenbeck of the Mayo Clinic, eating four or fewer egg yolks weekly shouldn’t put you at an increased risk for heart disease (

A healthy human should keep their daily dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams. Someone with diabetes or heart disease should limit their cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams daily. One egg weighs in very close to that limit. So, if you have cholesterol problems or heart disease, it would be wise to limit your egg intake and be conscious of how much dietary cholesterol you are consuming daily. If you absolutely love eggs and can’t part with them, consider egg whites instead of yolks. Moderation is key.

Yet the Benefits Outweigh Everything Else

Eggs are rich in vitamins, bursting with Vitamins B12, B2, B5, Selenium, and Tryptophan. These compounds work together to keep your body functioning well.   The protein found in eggs will keep you full longer, potentially aiding in weight loss. As part of a healthy diet, eggs are a true super food. lists a variety of interesting health benefits from eggs ( Eggs may benefit your eyes and reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Eggs help regulate your cardiovascular system, brain, and nervous system. Eggs promote healthy hair and nail growth too. That’s a lot for such a small food.

Eggs also supply a much needed dose of choline. According to, 90% or more of Americans don’t get enough choline in their daily diets ( Pregnant women should be especially aware of this, since choline in needed for healthy brain and memory development. Choline is needed for cellular health in people of all ages and a deficiency can lead to fatty liver and hemorrhagic kidney necrosis. In children and adults alike, choline can help improve the memory.

The Best Eggs of All

Eggs are inexpensive and readily available. Yet much of what is available at the grocery store comes from commercially farmed chickens. While still nutritious, there is an even better option. Organic, home-grown (or free-range and purchased from your local health food store or farmer’s market) eggs are much richer in nutrients than their commercially-raised alternatives.

According to a study by “Mother Earth News,” pasture-raised chickens produce eggs that have 2/3 times more vitamin A than commercially produced eggs. These eggs also have twice the omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene. Not to mention, non-commercial chickens produce eggs that have 1/3 less cholesterol. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, this is good news! They also have fewer toxins, are less likely to be infected with salmonella, and taste phenomenal.

The egg is a simple yet healthy way to start your day. The benefits are innumerable. Crack one open today and pave your way toward better health.