Large Study Of 70,000 Adults Suggests Organic Food Diet Reduces Risk of Lymphomas & Breast Cancer

Maria Rodale provides a convincing argument why we must remove chemicals from the process of growing, harvesting and preserving food in her must-read Organic Manifesto

A study recently published in JAMA (the peer-reviewed medical Journal of the American Medical Association), Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk (10/22/18), suggests that a higher frequency of organic food consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cancer. Although organic foods are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional foods, few studies have examined the association of organic food consumption with cancer risk.

Past epidemiological studies have found a higher incidence of some lymphomas among  farmers and farm workers who are exposed to certain pesticides through their work. But sadly, once trusted epidemiology studies are scorned by the current E.P.A., now backed and influenced by agrochemical companies, as reported by Danny Hakim and Eric Lipton in Once-Trusted Studies Are Scorned by Trump’s E.P.A. (NY Times, 8/26/18).

Julia Baudry, a researcher with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (at its Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité), the lead author of this large study of 70,000 adults, in a news article by Roni Caryn Rabin in the New York Times, Eyeing Organic Food as Cancer Foe (10/30/18), noted that We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important. Researcher Baudry carefully added that although the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, it strongly suggests that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.

Nearly 70,000 participants in the study reported their consumption frequency of labeled organic foods ((i) never, (ii) occasionally, or (iii) most of the time). An organic food score was then computed (range, 0-32 points). Of the 68,946 participants, 78% were female and the mean age at the baseline was 44.2 years.

At two follow-up dates, May 10, 2009 and November 30, 2016, 1340 first incident cancer cases were identified: the most prevalent being 459 breast cancers, 180 prostate cancers, 135 skin cancers, 99 colorectal cancers, 47 non-Hodgkin lymphomas, and 15 other lymphomas. The study found that high organic food scores were inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer.

We previously reported on a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, that placed glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) in the second highest category for cancer risk of probable carcinogen. Monsanto’s Roundup is the most widely used weed killer in America, with the vast majority of soybeans, corn, and cotton grown from Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds. Maria Rodale’s succinctly emphasizes in her must-read Organic Manifesto (Rodale, Inc. [distributed to the trade by Macmillan], New York, New York, 2010) that glyphosphate gets inside plants we eat and can’t wash off.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) recently noted that there are about 8,700 lawsuits pending against Monsanto, by people who allege that exposure to Roundup weedkiller is responsible for their cancer. And OCA emphasizes that most of the people behind these lawsuits have stories similar to the one told by Dewayne Johnson, during his landmark jury trial which resulted in a unanimous decision against Monsanto.

(Frank W. Barrie, 11/10/18)

Scaling Up Means Closing Down Farmstead Creamery’s Pastoral Operation

No dairy sheep at pasture or in the barn in Old Chatham (Columbia County, NY) in Sept. 2017 after the relocation of Old Chatham Sheepherding Co.’s Friesian sheep to Locke (Cayuga County) in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY

The modern and industrial-scale barn on Bird Cemetery Road in Locke (Cayuga County, NY)

Couple thousand sheep now housed in the football field sized barn

Sheep no longer grazing on grassy Old Chatham pasture land (but instead fed “locally sourced hay and grain”) with tubes of hay stored on nearby fields

The creamery in Old Chatham scheduled to close at the end of October 2018 but may keep operating until the end of the year.

Sign announcing the closing of the self-serve honor store in Old Chatham at the end of October

Woodstock organic frozen vegetables are not grown in Woodstock (Sullivan County, NY) and sometimes are sourced from Chile and Mexico, so no surprise if Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. branding remains in use, but the marketing language on the Black Sheep Yogurt containers certainly should disappear in the new year!

Flocks of sheep at pasture in the idyllic landscape along Shaker Museum Road in Old Chatham, in the northern reaches of Columbia County in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, have become a mere memory. In early September, 2017, this advocate for farmstead yogurt and cheese makers (who recommends scanning our yogurt and cheese directories for a local source of artisanal dairy products), had a big surprise on a visit to Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s farm and creamery to stock up on its Black Sheep Yogurt from the refrigerator cases at its unstaffed, self-serve, honor store.

No sheep on the 600 acres of lush, grassy pasture land (except for a neighbor’s small herd raised for their fiber and meat), and no sheep in the barn: The initial flock of 150 dairy sheep at the start of the farmstead operation back in 1994 had grown to over 1,000 East Friesian crossbred sheep in later years but were no longer to be seen in pastoral Old Chatham in late summer 2017. A sad discovery, the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s dairy sheep had been relocated to the Finger Lakes region of New York, and were now part of a flock of 2,100, milked twice a day, and fed a combination of locally sourced hay and grains.

And with no sheep left in Old Chatham, this local food advocate was troubled by the marketing language spotlighted on the popular Old Chatham Sheepherding Co.’s Black Sheep Yogurt containers that We produce our great sheep’s milk yogurt with care on our farm in Old Chatham, New York.  How so, if all the sheep were now 200 miles away in the Finger Lakes region of New York?

Only after puzzling over this marketing language for nearly a year, I confess that the light bulb went on only after a recent visit in late October, 2018 to the farm in Old Chatham. I noticed some workers in all-white uniforms, including a white cap, coming out of one of the farm buildings which proved to the creamery, still in operation. A lawyer-like analysis focused on the verb produce. arguably could justify the continued usage of the marketing language on the yogurt containers.

Although the sheep were no longer in Old Chatham, the creamery located at the farmstead in Columbia County was still in operation. Ergo, the yogurt and cheese was still being produced on the farm in Old Chatham. Sheep milk apparently was transported from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York to the creamery in Old Chatham to be made into yogurt and cheese. But it certainly was not the same as the yogurt and cheese produced from sheep at pasture in the pastoral setting in Columbia County from prior years.

To produce sheep or cow milk without grain goes well beyond modern dairy farming practices, and for that matter, organic milk norms. Grazing dairies deserve special recognition and support from consumers and earn the premium pricing levels for their products by mindfully maintaining adequate pasture land for their ruminants a/k/a bovidae (cows are bovines; sheep, ovines; goats, caprices). We take some pride in offering directories of such yogurt and cheese dairies.

Last year, we reported on Consumer Reports’ recommendation for consumers to choose grass-fed meat and dairy products. This consumer is also impressed by farmstead dairies like Painted Goat in Garratsville (Otsego County, NY) and Black Pearl Creamery in Trumansburg (Tompkins County, NY) that give their goats and sheep, respectively, a rest from milking in winter months!

By the end of 2018, the creamery on the farm in Old Chatham will be out of operation. Presumably, beginning in 2019, the marketing language on the Black Sheep Yogurt containers, which troubled this local food advocate, will also be a memory. No doubt Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. has become a branding that is very valuable. It seems likely that it will retain some commercial life.

Woodstock organic frozen vegetables sold at my hometown Honest Weight Food Co-op also offered a surprise for this consumer on realizing that these frozen vegetables did not share any link to famous Woodstock, New York, other than a name. Mexico and Chile were often noted in smaller print on the packages as the source of the frozen vegetables for sale with that branding.

In short, consumers should be wary and read labels carefully. Branding can be deceptive. This consumer when shopping occasionally for organic frozen vegetables much prefers Stahlbush Island Farms’, also stocked by the Honest Weight Food Co-op. Check out its website and compare it to Woodstock’s, and you’ll see why. Stahlbush Island Farms cultivates 5,000 acres in Oregon’s Willamette Valley on its family farm, and it’s easy to pinpoint on a map where its frozen vegetables come from. Woodstock is an agribusiness with 250+ products in over ten categories and touts that more than 70% of its products are domestically sourced. Not so easy for the consumer to know exactly where those frozen vegetables come from.

(Frank W. Barrie, 11/2/18)

Morning Apple Crumble, A Delicious Seasonal Treat For Late October

Gathering ingredients for the Morning Apple Crumble recipe in a National Co-op Grocers brochure on Sweeteners, including 6 organic Empire apples from upstate New York’s Hemlock Grove Farm in West Danby, Tompkins County

With 1,000 bins of bulk food, easy to source organic ingredients at the Honest Weight Food Co-op including organic, unsulphured, unsweetened shredded coconut

Mixture of (unpeeled) apples in bite-sized pieces, raisins, lemon juice (flavored with honey, cinnamon, ginger & pinch of salt) spread evenly in the bottom of a favorite Bennington Potters square baker

Cutting into a mixture of rolled oats, pecans, flour and shredded coconut (flavored with ginger, pinch of salt & 1/4 cup of raw honey), 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) of farmstead butter

Delicious bowl of warm (just out of the oven) Morning Apple Crumble topped with Maple Hill organic plain yogurt (made from 100% grass fed cow’s milk)

With a bushel of delicious, crispy, juicy and slightly tart organic Empire apples from upstate New York’s Hemlock Grove Farm in West Danby (Tompkins County) to enjoy and share this fall season, a recipe for Morning Apple Crumble included in the All About Sweeteners brochure of the National Co-op Grocers (NCG) seemed a good way to warm up the kitchen and start off a chilly October morning. This particular brochure is a useful keeper for another reason. It includes a chart noting Sweeteners Equivalent To One Cup Of Sugar for ten types of sweeteners including maple syrup, honey and molasses which this home cook prefers to use in lieu of sugar.

The recipe for Morning Apple Crumble calls for 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of honey. Since 1/2 cup of honey replaces one cup sugar, this morning treat with a little more than 1/4 cup of honey would prove not too sweet: just the right amount of sweetness to balance the slightly tart flavor of the Empire apples and the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice also called for in the recipe.

In addition to the organic Empire apples from Hemlock Grove Farm, I used local butter from pasture raised cows, Himalaya pink sea salt freshly ground, local raw honey and an organic lemon squeezed for its juice. And the other ingredients (all organic) were obtained from the wonderful Bulk Food department (with its 1,000 bins of bulk foods) of the Honest Weight Food Co-op in my hometown of Albany, New York. (The Honest Weight Food Co-op is one of ten co-ops in New York State included in the NCG’s Find A Co-op Directory for the United States.)

Why organic? Check out one of the first book reviews posted on this website of  Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto. And why bulk food? The Bulk Is Green Foundation is helping to spread the message about the many environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods.

Morning Apple Crumble

Five to six tart apples (2.5 pounds)
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger; divided
Pinch of salt
2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
6 tablespoons butter (3 ounces), cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a baking dish.

I used a favorite Bennington Potters (stoneware pottery 70 years made in Vermont) square baker that was slightly smaller than a 9 x 9-inch glass baking dish called for in the NCG brochure’s recipe. (In deciding to forego a glass baking dish, it was helpful to read chef Susan Reid’s informative blog post on glass verses metal verses ceramic in baking on the website of King Arthur Flours.)

Core and cut the apples into bite-sized pieces. To peel or not to peel, that is the question. I did not peel the apples as suggested by the NCG brochure’s recipe. For an apple pie, peeling apples is almost always advised, but not so often for a crisp or a crumble. I also used 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead of 1/2 teaspoon as suggested by the NCG brochure’s recipe. I like cinnamon!

In a large bowl, gently toss the apples with raisins, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and a pinch of salt. Spread the apple mixture evenly in the bottom of the baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, flour, shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and a pinch of salt. Cut in the butter and 1/4 cup of honey with the rest of the ingredients to make a crumbly mixture. Spread mixture evenly over the top of the apples, then place in oven and bake until bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crisp. This can take 45 minutes to a long hour. In my pottery baking dish (smaller and deeper than the recommended glass baking dish), the morning apple crumble baked for 60 minutes. (And another few minutes would probably have been even better!)

My breakfast helping of warm morning apple crumble was topped with a helping of Maple Hill yogurt. I’ll enjoy it later after dinner, for dessert,  cold and  topped with a scoop of organic vanilla ice-cream.

(Frank W. Barrie, 10/26/18)

“Community Orcharding” Network Helps Guide Consumers to Organic & Local Apples

Honest Weight Food Co-op sells Northland Organic Gala apples (packed by Ricker Orchards in Turner, Maine)

Holistic Orchard Network’s directory of orchards led this apple lover to purchase a bushel of organic Empires from Hemlock Grove Farm in West Danby (Tompkins County, NY)

Hemlock Grove Farm’s primary organic apple orchard is unmarked and a few miles from the farmhouse & in the 2nd week of October, trees laden with fruit

Later in the season, GreenStar food co-op in Ithaca is likely to have Hemlock Grove Farm’s organic apples available for its customers

The Ithaca food co-op currently had available for customers, local apples from Black Diamond Farm including the heritage variety Zabergau Reinette and the uncommon pink fleshed Pink Pearls

GreenStar’s painted pie-charts on an outside wall is a mini lesson on the economics of the modern industrial food system (click on photo to enlarge)

Local cheeses purchased at the Honest Weight, Tarentaise from Spring Brook Farm (Reading, Vermont); Berlberg Organic from Berle Farm (Hoosick, NY); Karst Alpine Cheddar, Cave Aged   at Jasper Hill Farm (Greensboro, VT), and Dharma Lea Dutch crafted by Grafton Village Cheese (Grafton, VT) for Maple Hill to complement the tasting of Hemlock Grove’s Organic Empires and two Adams Pearmain (an added bonus thanks to the farm’s Jennifer) and the Black Diamond Farm’s Zabergau Reinette and Pink Pearl apples

For five years in a row, from 2011 to 2015, apples were Number One on the dirty dozen list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables to avoid compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). But in 2016, strawberries displaced apples as the Number One conventionally grown fruit and vegetable to avoid. And in 2017 and again this year in 2018, apples drifted lower to Number 4 on EWG’s dirty dozen list.

Nonetheless, either number one, two, or four on the dirty dozen list, when apple season comes around, the search for organic apples (and hopefully local) begins anew for this apple lover. In recent years, I relied on my hometown Honest Weight Food Co-op as a source for Northland organic apples packed by Ricker Hill Orchard located in Turner, Maine. Not so local to my home in upstate NY, but not as far away as the other organic apples available at the Albany, NY co-op from the Pacific Northwest.

But this fall, I relied on the Grow Organic Apples Holistic Orchard Network’s Orchard List, which provided leads on five apple orchards in upstate New York as a source for this season’s apples to stock two shelves of the kitchen fridge. [Michael Phillips of Groveton, New Hampshire (the author of The Holistic Orchard, Growing Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way) serves as the Network Coordinator.]

Two of the upstate New York orchards were in Ulster County (Westwind Orchard in Accord and High Falls Farm in High Falls) and one in Dutchess County (Breezy Hill Orchard in Staatsburg, south of Rhinebeck), and one (not organic but utilizing low-spray techniques and micronutrient fertilization practices) in Saratoga County (Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville).

But the apple orchard which meant the longest drive from home, Hemlock Grove Farm, south of Ithaca in West Danby (Tompkins County) sparked a special interest because on its website, it spotlighted its Apple CSA. As a long term shareholder in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in the Hudson Valley, and a promoter of CSA farms in North America and Great Britain on this website, supporting an apple orchard, which was utilizing a CSA model to distribute a large part of its organic apple harvest, was an appealing proposition. So I decided to purchase a bushel of Hemlock Grove Farm’s apples this fall season.

With a home in Albany, 170 miles from Hemlock Grove Farm, a CSA Apple share was certainly not a possibility. Weekly pick-ups of the apple share are available on Fridays and Saturdays at the farm and seven other locations in Ithaca and nearby areas in Tompkins County. But how appealing it would be to receive 5 pounds (1/2 peck) of Hemlock Grove Farm’s fresh organic apples every week (that would be 30 pounds of apples over 6 weeks) until Thanksgiving for a very reasonable $64.00. The orchard also offers 2 half gallons of fresh sweet cider at an additional cost of $15.

In lieu of a CSA apple share, I arranged by email to purchase a select grade bushel (weighing 38 pounds) of apples for pick up at the farm for $75 or $1.93 per pound. Select grade, meaning perfect, supermarket quality fruit were described as great for eating out of hand and as lasting the longest in storage. The farm also offered utility grade apples with minor blemishes but still great eating quality for $55 per bushel, $1.45 per pound. Unpacking my bushel of apples on returning home, I counted 140 apples. A delicious organic upstate New York apple for 50 cents or so seemed a very fair bargain.

Hemlock Grove Farm’s website also notes that ordering bushels from the farm or arranging for an CSA apple share weren’t the only way to buy its apples. During apple season, the farm’s apples are also available by the pound at Ithaca’s GreenStar Co-op. But at the time of my visit to the farm, the co-op did not yet have any of the farm’s apples available. As the apple season proceeds, they will very likely become available at GreenStar too.

Before starting the drive back home, stopping at Ithaca’s GreenStar Co-op, one of the longest operating food co-ops in upstate New York and open to the public like my hometown Honest Weight Food Co-op, was in order. With a bushel of Empire variety organic apples from Hemlock Grove farm in the cooler in my car, I hesitated for a moment but decided to purchase a half dozen apples of the “heritage” varieties available at Green Star from Black Diamond Farm, which practices IFP (integrated fruit production) according to its website in Trumansburg (Tompkins County). But for my apple or two or three a day for the next couple of months, Hemlock Grove Farm’s organic apples will be enjoyed with much satisfaction.

(Frank W. Barrie, 10/18/18)

Five Children’s Books Honored As Best On Gardening, Nature and the Environment in 2018

Five Children’s Books Receive 2018 Growing Good Kids Children’s Book Awards

Created by the American Horticultural Society (AHS) and the Junior Master Gardener Program (JMG program), the Growing Good Kids- Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards honor the best new children’s books about gardening, nature and the environment. These national awards for children’s literature began in 2005 when the AHS and the JMG program recognized 40 books for children as Growing Good Kids Classics.

The list of 40 books includes some well known classics including Christina Bjork’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Frances Hodgson’s The Secret Garden.

In succeeding years, children’s books have been recognized annually by the AHS and the JMG program as Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners, with a varying number of books so honored each year. In 2014, for example, only one book received the award, while in 2017 a record number of six books were honored.

Viewing the list of winners over the years, some titles stood out as especially relevant to our concern to know where your food comes from including Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner’s Molly’s Organic Farm, Pat Brisson’s Before We Eat- From Farm to Table, and Rick Swann’s Our School Garden.

The JMG program, an international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension network, was created and is managed by Texas A & M AgriLife Extension. The program is mostly utilized in schools around the country and is taught by teachers as a part of their classroom instruction, but there are also Junior Master Gardener groups that learn in informal settings like after school programs, 4-H, scouts and summer camps. The JMG program offers a host of curriculum options available on-line.

The best children’s books about gardening and nature for 2018 were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium held this year at Cornell University in Ithaca in upstate New York. Five books were recognized as inspiring and engaging works of children literature focused on themes related to gardening, nature and the environment.

This year’s winners are: (1) What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani, (2) Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Amy Huntington, (3) Bloom by Deborah Deisen illustrated by Mary Lundquist, (4) Karl, Get Out of the Garden! by Anita Sanchez, illustrated by Catherine Stock; and (5) Blue Corn Soup, by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by Teri Weidner.

(Frank W. Barrie, 10/11/18)

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