Monday, November 21, 2011

Is Organic Better? Yes, Mostly.

I've addressed the various issues with judging whether organic foods are better than conventional produce on my website.

The short answer continues to be that organic produce does, in fact, have more of some nutrients than its conventional cousin.  It varies from season to season and crop to crop.  Let's acknowledge that, and move on.  Unfortunately, places like the Mayo Clinic like to sound like authorities, and so cite one review (covering the last fifty years?  Don't get me started on soil depletion, changing farming methods, etc.) and say probably there's no difference.  I'd say some researcher needs to take the Twinkie out of his mouth and realize he's just set the debate back to the dark ages of the 1960's. 

Our current discussion needs to focus on the process of becoming locavores.  This term needs to enter the mainstream in the same way that vegetarian is now part of common knowledge.  If you are unfamiliar with this concept, here's a starting point.  Many people here in Maine have been locavores for decades, but have subsidized an otherwise exemplary diet full of fresh and flash frozen vegetables from their giant gardens with deep fried food.  All they need to do to get healthier is stop eating out.

For the crunchies among us, put down that Ecuadorian arugula.  It isn't in season, and you've just consumed a full tank of gasoline along with your "spring veggies."  Oh, I'm guilty as well, and everything in moderation.  But let's all keep humble and have a look at what our neighbors are doing right.  If we focus, necessity and intention meld together to make it more and more obvious that our only possible way out of our issues is to work together on every issue.     

Monday, November 14, 2011

EU Stops the Regular Use of Antibiotics For Animals, Time for Homeopathy To Shine?

I first read about the transition from the homeopaths at NCH, but  I doublechecked and confirmed at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which gives a different, supportive take on the banning of antibiotics in animal feed.

From a homeopaths' viewpoint, the banning of antibiotics is an opportunity to test whether homeopathy can be helpful.  In the never-ending, howling skepticism of homeopathy its critics have failed to notice reports of better outcomes for animals placed on homeopathics.  The data is good enough to inspire the EU to invest "1.8m in a pilot research project to examine the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments on farm animals." 

The arguments against homeopathy pale when we are faced with a very real possibility that within our lifetimes we will not have antibiotics as an effective tool.  It is far preferable to deal with the realities of commercial farming without an antibiotic buffer now than to wait until complete resistance is the norm. 

Here's a recent study:

Homeopathy. 2010 Jan;99(1):57-62.

Homeopathy as replacement to antibiotics in the case of Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets.


Biological Farming Systems Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands.



The use of antibiotics in the livestock sector is increasing to such an extent that it threatens negative consequences for human health, animal health and the environment. Homeopathy might be an alternative to antibiotics. It has therefore been tested in a randomised placebo-controlled trial to prevent Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets.


On a commercial pig farm 52 sows of different parities, in their last month of gestation, were treated twice a week with either the homeopathic agent Coli 30K or placebo. The 525 piglets born from these sows were scored for occurrence and duration of diarrhoea.


Piglets of the homeopathic treated group had significantly less E. coli diarrhoea than piglets in the placebo group (P<.0001). Especially piglets from first parity sows gave a good response to treatment with Coli 30K. The diarrhoea seemed to be less severe in the homeopathically treated litters, there was less transmission and duration appeared shorter.
Copyright 2009. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
PMID:  20129177

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kubler-Ross and the Autumn

The Stages of Fall:  Transition Into Winter

I've noticed the stages of dealing with the autumn mimic the stages of Transition here in Maine.

First, we work through our denial.  It isn't just the people, the plants are just as busy trying to outgrow each other.  Winter won't come our way if we don't look at it. 

With the first early winter snow this year before Halloween, we have moved into the anger stage.  Racks of shovels adorn every store.  The armamentary of snowblowers and snow melters and heaters line our sidewalks.  We will battle snow with every ounce of our will.

But already we've moved into the bargaining stage.  We're trying to limit the damage.  I've already said, "no more than twelve feet this year."  As if somehow I could bargain with the winter winds.  Will six inches really make a difference to my year?

And I've seen in my patients the depression beginning.  They talk about the cold winter months and getting out of Maine for the season.  Many will, but those that do will be gone by November.  The rest of us will hunker down for the season.  Days will shorten to mere slivers, and the long, windy nights will swallow up the sun. 

Even as I write, I feel the creeping of acceptance.  It is a relief to let go of having to be everywhere on time.  Whole days can just come crunching to a halt.  Plans will be remade, or cast aside.  And the sun will come again. 

Here's a link to Kubler-Ross' stages of grief