UTI’s, Yeast Infections, Standardized Herbs

UTI’s, Yeast Infections, Standardized Herbs

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: What is a “standardized” herb and do you recommend them?

A: A: Standardized herbs are the professional holistic health care provider’s answer to their allopathic colleagues allegations that our remedies vary in potency too much from batch to batch due to natural variances. They are made by mixing or blending batches that test low with batches that test high for particular compounds in herbs. I’ll give you an example: In St. John’s Wort, we have identified the active constituent, or compound, as Hypericin, and each capsule is guaranteed to contain 0.9 mg. of Hypericin. Similarly, in Turmeric, we know that Curcumin is the active compound, and ours is 95% Curcumin for the best results.

Traditional herbalists sometimes oppose standardization, while more modern, scientific based herbalists have endorsed it. I use them in my practice because I want results! In my experience, they work more consistently, safely, and have raised the standards of natural therapies. They are simply more effective. The patient gets more for their money. It is wise to use the wisdom of the old world with modern technology. I have not experienced any downside to the introduction and use of standardized herbs.

Q: I just started having (finally) a relationship with a kind gentlemen and now I am getting yeast infections. What should I do?

Q: Help, Dr. David, I have a urinary tract infection (UTI)!

A: I have answered both of these questions at the same time as the remedies are often similar. There is much to say on this, but I must be brief for now. We first have to consider if he has something! The best way to figure that out is to abstain from intercourse or use condoms exclusively for a short period of time, say during his next visit and see if that eliminates the problem. It also can be from “stirring things up” as it has been a while!

Yeast infections, whether they be occasional, chronic or systemic, are a serious indication of a women’s body chemistry being out of balance. It is not normal or usual for people to get them, although they are common. Some of the culprits include: not enough rest (get good sleep), an infection, stress, tight restrictive clothing and synthetic clothing (particularly underwear). Even too much sex can be an irritating factor. Sleep with no underwear on (let things breathe!) and get a medical examination to make certain it is not something more serious.

However, they are most often caused by sugars. I say sugars because many things convert to sugar – alcohol, carbs (bummer!), grains. Anything containing yeast, such as breads and other baked goods can feed a yeast imbalance. To some extent, birth control medicines can contribute to yeast infections and UTI’s. If you have a weak or rundown immune system, this might be one way that it manifests.

Both conditions could be fungal related. If you have issues with nails having fungus or thrush in the mouth, that can indicate it’s more of a fungus type issue. Also antibiotics destroy the good vaginal flora so one would need acidophilus supplements in large amounts to replenish what the antibiotics have removed.

As your doctor, I would ask about what kinds of sanitary products are being used, and what kind of cosmetics you’re applying and discuss your sex life if it could be a factor. With yeast infections, you can’t totally rule out a urinary tract infection, or something even more serious. But in most cases it’s just too much sugars!

Other factors that can also contribute include: pushing your body too much – i.e. excessive exercise if you are an athlete (such as bike rider chamois), time of year, dehydration or hormonal imbalances.

To treat it, we can use: Yeast Free tincture, Olive Leaf, Lomatium Combo, Echinacea & Goldenseal (or Immune System Support or Immune Boost), Garlic 500 mg., Suprema-Dophilus (full of good bacteria to rebuild intestinal flora), Oregano oil caps, Uña de Gato tincture and/or Pau D’ Arco. That is just off the top of my head; there are plenty others depending on what your body chemistry tells us. Drinking plenty of water is essential. Adding lemon or lime juice to your water helps alkalinize the body, as can some raw apple cider vinegar.

Here are some more natural remedies: Tea Tree Oil suppositories, Cranberry Concentrate, Kidney Care tincture, Kidney Rescue, Thyroid supplements (as it affects the immune system), Liver supplements (for issues that affects hormones), Dandelion/Burdock tincture. One of my favorite remedies is a Maitake Mushroom supplement. Another favorite of mine to boost the immune system is Silva Solution®. Many of these remedies are also indicated for UTI’s. Some D-Mannose can often clear up these problems.

As for the diet, cut out any alcohol, sugar, most breads (unless yeast free), “diet” foods (artificial sweeteners), and moldy products. You need to keep your body alkaline, not acidic, and consider if there is also a UTI (urinary tract infection). If you have been swimming, that could be a cause/factor. If you are wearing underwear 24 hours a day, that can be a problem also, as can thongs or too tight clothing during the day. The genitals need to “breathe.”

Eat more onions, garlic, mushrooms. Avoid all refined sugar or cane sugar, alcohol, cut down or eliminate grains (except for sprouted or quinoa) which includes breads, particularly those that have baking yeast, ice cream and soft drinks. Consider if your diet is too acidic, and read up on the acid/alkaline balance. Drink lots of water to act as a flush.

You could douche with some chlorophyll liquid to ease the irritation. You could also take some Chlorophyll Liquid or Chlorophyll caps. Adding a tablespoon of organic oregano to your diet daily has shown to be a good treatment. In my practice, dietary changes and supplements usually end this cycle of UTI’s and yeast infections once and for all.

Hope that helps. Sometimes yeast infections get worse when they are going away, called “die off” and that can be irritating. One thing I can say for certain, if you don’t clear it up using natural therapies, it will keep coming back, usually getting worse each time.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?  What Can I Do About Acne?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight? What Can I Do About Acne?

Q: Why can’t I lose weight?

A: Many holistic health practitioners predicted our obesity epidemic decades ago. Years of inactivity and eating fake foods has finally caught up to the human race! A healthy weight is a combination of many factors, each requiring some discussion. Eating the foods that are right for your particular body is paramount. There are some foods that you do well with, and some foods that will easily put weight on you. A good Naturopath can help you discover these foods.

When you eat is often a factor. Food consumed late at night counts twice as much. Any food after 5PM should be light on the body, such as fruits, veggies, or a healthy starch such as sweet potatoes. Exercise or movement can be a factor, as can sleep patterns, stress and work. Fluid (hydration) can be a factor. Portion sizes of food can be a factor for some. Learning about good fats vs. bad fats is important.

One major and often overlooked factor is colon health. That is where food is absorbed and assimilated from, not the stomach! If we are not digesting our food, we need to eat more to get nutrients. Salads, good fibers are filling and clean us out, and are loaded with nutrients. The thyroid must be considered, as well as your adrenal glands. At our Clinic, we utilize many tools to help patients lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off for their lifetime. This Q&A format only lends itself to a brief answer, and one that is not personalized for you!

Q: What can I do about acne? What is the best and quickest way to get rid of acne?

A: There can be several causes for acne. Also, where it presents on the body can be a clue. In my experience, everything from cosmetics, perfumes, synthetic clothing, clothing that needs to be washed more often, laundry detergents, sleepwear (synthetic, needing to be washed), are all possible factors.

The most common cause of acne is toxicity; the body is full of toxins and it is using the skin as an eliminative organ. Plenty of water consumption with an increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables to reduce constipation is the key. Using a cotton wash cloth to keep the acne area free of excess oils can help, as can some cleansers from Aubrey Organics. I love their Herbal Facial Cleanser! Incidentally, the cotton wash cloth must be fresh and clean. They develop bacteria and mold quickly, not good for your skin!

The liver can be toxic, so doing a liver/gallbladder detox often helps tremendously. Our liver filters toxins, breaks down fats, helps with blood purifying and hundreds of other important functions. The liver also has a lot to do with our hormonal balance, and that can affect acne quite a bit.

One observation from years of observing patients: Keep your hands off your face! Use the backside of your hand if you have an itch or need to touch your face. There is much oil on the palm side of your hand and that clogs pores. While we are on the subject of skin health, consider skin brushing and complexion brush, flax or fish oils, iodine, vitamin A&D or beta carotene. Sunlight in moderation is very important for skin wellbeing. The thyroid needs to be running well to have healthy skin. Toxins from environment such as air pollution, chlorine, chemicals (especially housecleaning, furniture refinishing) can mess up your skin.

That’s it off the top of my head. You can use the search engine on our website for remedies for the liver, acne, detoxification, and other key words such as kidney, bowel, colon, skin.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.

Aubrey Organics Cosmetics–Favorite Picks!

Dr. David Olarsch

For over 30 years, I have been using Aubrey Organics cosmetic products. Aubrey is a genius, and his products set the standard in the natural products field for truly 100% natural. No hidden chemicals; what is on the label is a complete disclosure of all ingredients. Most health food store cosmetics have some chemicals in them, usually petroleum-derived, and Aubrey does not use petroleum-derived ingredients. Furthermore, Aubrey Organics products work great! As we like to say at our clinic, raise your expectations! To read more about Aubrey Organics as a company, see this article: How to Shop For Cosmetics That Are Good For You.

My patients have read about these cosmetics in their handouts. First thing to try is the Collagen & Almond Enriching Moisturizing Lotion. This softens & nourishes the skin, stays on for a long time, and leaves no greasy feel. It is a great body lotion for dry hands, dry feet, skin conditions such as eczema & psoriasis. Next to try would be the Collagen TCM Therapeutic Cream Moisturizer for the face. Just a dab on each side will do you! I have seen wrinkles lessen and dry skin conditions healed. This stuff goes deep! Safe to apply around the eyes. As for shampoo’s, there are so many to choose from, but I recommend starting with the Blue Camomile Hydrating Shampoo and the Conditioner if you use conditioners.

While I generally do not recommend sunscreen lotions, the only ones to use if you do make use of them is Aubrey’s. Especially for children as they do not contain dangerous hormonal precursors. Also, their After-Sun lotion is excellent.

Why should you use our link to purchase your Aubrey Organics cosmetics directly? Even though Aubrey only gives us a tiny commission, it adds up if enough people do that. Every little bit helps support the Institute for Naturopathic Health and all the good work we are doing. And, by purchasing them direct from Aubrey Organics, you are getting the freshest ingredients. We do not stock their products—this link provides a way for them to give us a small compensation for recommending their products. Everyone benefits!

In time, you will find Aubrey Organics products to be superior and a good value. You will notice that they do not dry out your hair or skin, that they do not overpower you with synthetic fragrances, and that they actually do what the label says they will. Personally, I cannot imagine what I would use instead. I feel that strongly about Aubrey Organics. Go here to order now!


Dr. David Olarsch

The 10 Biggest Health Care Lies in America

The 10 Biggest Health Care Lies in America

Mike Adams

the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Mainstream health care isn’t based on “health” or “caring.” It’s actually based on an ingrained system of medical mythology that’s practiced—and defended—by those who profit from the continuation of sickness and disease. This system of medical mythology might also simply be called “lies”, and today I’m sharing with NaturalNews readers the top ten lies that are still followed and promoted under mainstream health care in America today.

Lie #1) Vaccines make you healthy
Vaccines have emerged as the greatest and most insidious mythology yet fabricated by western medicine. The idea that vaccines protect you from infectious disease is blatantly false in the long term because this year’s flu shot actually makes you more susceptible to next year’s influenza (http://www.naturalnews.com/028538_s…).

On top of that, even the theoretical short-term effectiveness of vaccines is dwarfed by the far more effective protection offered by vitamin D and other immune-modulating nutrients. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027385_V…)

Lie #2) Pharmaceuticals prevent disease
The big push by Big Pharma is now focused on treating healthy people with drugs as if pharmaceuticals were nutrients that could somehow prevent disease. This is the new push with cholesterol drugs: Give ’em to everyone, whether they have high cholesterol or not!

But pharmaceuticals don’t prevent disease, and medications are not vitamins. Your body has no biological need for any pharmaceuticals at all. People who believe they need pharmaceuticals have simply been the victims of “fabricated consent” engineered by Big Pharma’s clever advertising and P.R. spin.

Lie #3) Doctors are experts in health
Doctors don’t even study health; they study disease. Modern doctors are taught virtually nothing about nutrition, wellness or disease prevention. Expecting a doctor to guide you on health issues is sort of like expecting your accountant to pilot a jet airliner—it’s simply not something he or she has ever been trained in.

That’s not to say doctors aren’t intelligent people. Most of them have high Iqs. But even a genius can’t teach you something they know nothing about.

Lie #4) You have no role in your own healing
Doctors, drug companies and health authorities all want you to believe that your health is determined by their interventions. If you believe them, you have virtually no role in your own health or healing — it’s all managed by their drugs, their screening, their surgeries and their interventions.

Lie #5) Disease is a matter of bad luck or bad genes
Western medicine wants you to believe in the mythology of spontaneous disease —disease that strikes without cause. This is equivalent to saying that disease is some sort of voodoo black magic and that patients have no way to prevent disease through their own diets or lifestyle choices.

It’s funny, actually: Western medicine claims to be driven by scientific, rational thinking, and yet the entire industry still fails to acknowledge that chronic disease always has a cause and that most of the time, that cause has everything to do with nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxic chemicals and a lack of exercise. Disease is almost never a matter of bad luck or bad genes.

Lie #6) Screening equals prevention
Western medicine doesn’t believe in disease prevention. Rather, the industry believes in screening while calling it prevention. But screening isn’t prevention by even the wildest stretch of the imagination. In fact, virtually all the popular screening methodologies actually promote diseases.

Mammography, for example, emits so much radiation that it causes breast cancer in tens of thousands of women each year (http://www.naturalnews.com/027558_m…). Imaging dyes used in radiological scans can cause horrific side effects, and psychiatric “disorder” screening is little more than a thinly-disguised patient recruitment scheme disguised as medicine. Real prevention of disease must involve disease prevention through nutrition, patient education about the causes of disease and lifelong changes in eating habits. Yet western medicine teaches absolutely none of these things. Heck, it doesn’t even believe in such ideas.

Lie #7) Health insurance will keep you healthy
This is a favorite lie of those who recently pushed for the Big Pharma-sponsored health care reform that has swept across America. The lie supposes that merely having health insurance will provide some sort of magical protection against disease. But in reality, health insurance doesn’t make you healthy! It is only YOU and your choices about foods, exposures to toxic chemicals, pursuit of exercise and time in nature that can make you healthy.

Health insurance is, in effect, a wager that you will get sick. How does gambling on your sickness provide any protection whatsoever for your health? It doesn’t. Personally, I’d rather bet on health than sickness, and the way to do that is to invest in nutritional supplements, organic produce, superfoods, physical fitness and non-toxic personal care products.

Lie #8) Hospitals are places of health and healing
If you want to stay healthy or get healthy, a hospital is the very last place you want to find yourself: They are unhappy, unhealthy places that are infested with antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Hospitals usually serve disease-promoting foods and lack health-enhancing sunlight, and potentially deadly mistakes with pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures now appear to be frighteningly common in U.S. hospitals.

Certainly, emergency rooms in hospitals play an important role in urgent care for injuries and accidents—and emergency room physicians do an amazing job saving lives—but for people with chronic, degenerative disease, a hospital is a very dangerous place to be. Unless you really need immediate critical care, try to avoid hospitals.

Lie #9) Conventional medicine is “advanced” state-of-the-art medicine
Even though doctors and health authorities try to pass off western medicine as being “advanced” or “modern,” the whole system is actually pathetically outdated and stuck in the germ theory of disease. Western medicine has yet to even acknowledge the role of nutrition in preventing disease—something that has been scientifically documented for at least the last several decades. Western medicine fails to acknowledge mind-body medicine and hilariously believes the mind plays virtually no role in healing.

Neither does western medicine acknowledge the bio energy field of living systems, nor that organ transplants carry memories, nor that living food is qualitatively different from dead food. Seriously: Conventional doctors still believe that dead food is exactly the same as living food! (And the USDA food pyramid still makes no distinction between the two…) “Modern” medicine isn’t so modern, it turns out. It is, in fact, hopelessly outdated and desperately needs to upgrade its approach to health and wellness if it hopes to survive the next hundred years.

Lie #10) More research is needed to find “cures”
This lie is especially hilarious because western medicine does not believe in any “cure” for any disease. They aren’t even looking for cures! This lie has been repeated since the 1960’s, when cancer scientists claimed they were only a few years away from curing cancer. Today, four decades later, can you think of a single major disease that western medicine has cured? There aren’t any.

That’s because drug companies make money from sick people, not cured people. A patient cured is a patient lost. It is far more profitable to keep patients sick and pretend to “manage” their disease through a lifetime of pharmaceuticals. So when drug companies and disease non-profits claim to be searching for a “cure,” what they’re really doing is taking your money to fund more drug research to patent more medications that don’t actually cure anything. Remember this the next time you’re asked to donate to some search for “the cure.” The cures already exist in nutrition, herbal remedies and naturopathic medicine, but Big Pharma and the conventional medicine cartel isn’t interested in real cures—they only want to promote the idea of a cure while pumping patients full of drugs that don’t cure anything.

Beyond the ten lies
When it comes to western health care, there are more than 10 lies, of course, but these big 10 lies are perhaps the most relevant to your own health decisions. By avoiding being suckered in by these lies, you can take charge of your own health and avoid the health care scam by staying healthy!

Staying healthy isn’t as difficult as you think, and it doesn’t require health insurance or disease screening. It only requires making informed, intelligent decisions about what to eat, what to put on your skin and how to get more sunshine and physical exercise. Once you do these basic things, you’ll find that you are no longer held victim by a western medicine health care system based on lies and outdated medical mythology. It’s time for a revolution in medicine… A revolution that finally advances past the mental roadblock of a system of medical mythology stuck in the 1940’s. Don’t get me wrong, 1940’s medicine was great in the 1940’s. But this is no longer the 1940’s, and the germ theory of disease is hopelessly outdated when it comes to the primary diseases that are striking the population today. Yet the profiteers of our dishonest, outmoded health care system are doing everything in their power to keep us all stranded in the past, a past based on treating the body like a chemical battleground and attacking every disease with a patented pharmaceutical. That whole approach to health care is so far outdated that it’s hilarious it can still be pushed with a straight face. No wonder doctors only spend an average of two minutes with patients these days. That’s the limit of how long they can hold their faces without breaking out in laughter at how stupid this whole “treat the symptoms and forget the causes” approach to health care really is. Even they know it! That’s why most doctors actually eat superfoods and take vitamins themselves, even if they never dare suggest it to patients. True fact: It is illegal in every U.S. state for a doctor to recommend any vitamin, nutrient or food for the prevention or treatment of any disease. Doing so can cause a doctor to have his medical license permanently revoked. How crazy and outdated is that?

Mike Adams

The Toxic Metal Hazard Today

The Toxic Metal Hazard Today

by Lawrence Wilson, M.D.

Today, everyone has excessive levels of toxic metals, regardless of what any test reveals. In fact, humanity today is exposed to the highest levels of them in recorded history, up to several thousand times higher than even several hundred years ago. The toxic metals are minerals that have no known function in the body and are very harmful for health. They include two dozen or more minerals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, nickel and many others. They are particularly damaging because they are persistent and cumulative. The late Dr. Henry Schroeder, MD, a world authority on minerals, wrote that “most organic substances are degradable by natural processes. However, no metal is degradable…they are here to stay for a long time”. Toxic metals are a major cause of all disease in both human beings and animals. They cause inflammation, infection, irritation and tissue damage. They do this by replacing essential or vital minerals in enzyme binding sites. This, in turn, cripples or even destroys the enzymes that are needed for every body function. Sources of Toxic Metals
Toxic metals are acquired through our food, water, air and by direct contact with the skin or other parts of the body. In addition, an enormous problem is that all of the toxic metals pass easily through the placenta from mother to child. As a result, all children today are born with excessive amounts of toxic metals in their bodies. These are called congenital toxic metals. They are a very important cause for every imaginable childhood problem from birth defects and delayed development to ADD, ADHD, autism, infections and childhood cancers, all of which are increasing rapidly in America and around the world. Toxic metals compete for absorption and utilization with vital minerals. Therefore, eating a diet with any white flour, white sugar or other mineral-deficient food will increase one’s absorption of toxic metals found in foods, water, air or elsewhere. Individual Toxic Metals
Lead may be called the violence and horror toxic metal. It is the most researched toxic metal and has been mined and used for thousands of years. Common sources of lead include pesticides, printing, inks, lubricants, paints, dyes and leftover lead from leaded gasoline. Unfortunately, some lipsticks and dark hair dyes still contain lead as well. Eating fish, especially shellfish of any kind, is another important source of lead. Symptoms
Lead is associated with over 100 symptoms. A popular book, Beethoven’s Hair, discusses many of the problems with lead, as it was found that Ludwig von Beethoven was poisoned with lead, probably from drinking from pewter cups. Lead replaces calcium in the body, leading to many cases of osteoporosis. It can cause ADD, ADHD, violence, lowered IQ, and almost every imaginable neurological and neuromuscular symptom. It can affect the adrenal and thyroid glands, and cause anemias, Alzheimer’s disease and many others. Lead and Violence
Lead is intimately connected with violence on earth. Lead replaces calcium and even magnesium and zinc, which are the sedative elements. Mercury
Mercury may be called the “mad hatters” toxic metal, as it was used in hat making 150 years ago and caused a form of madness or craziness in those who worked in this industry. Today it is everywhere, and everyone breathes, drinks and eats some of it. The two most common sources are silver dental amalgams and fish of all kinds, especially larger fish like tuna. If you have dental amalgams, also called silver fillings, have them replaced unless you have active cancer. Wait until cancer is in remission, as amalgam removal can occasionally worsen cancer. Fish
The hair tests of everyone who eats a lot of any fish reveal high mercury. Some rivers and streams are better than others, but figuring out which are best is nearly impossible. Small fish have less mercury. However, strictly avoid tuna, shark, king mackerel, mahi-mahi, ahi and sashimi used in sushi. Sushi is one of the worst dishes because it often combines raw fish (a source of parasitic and other infections), with tuna, mahi mahi or ahi, and nori (mercury toxicity). Shellfish are often worse than other kinds of fish. In addition to mercury, most shellfish contain excessive cadmium, arsenic and other toxic metals. Please do not eat any shrimp, muscles, crab, scallops, lobster, oysters, eel or other shellfish. The problem is just getting much worse in most areas. Mercury Symptoms
These are extremely varied. Mercury particularly affects the kidneys, liver, brain, endocrine glands and muscular system. However, it can affect any organ and system of the body. Most neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis, most mental illness and hundreds of other conditions are related to mercury toxicity. Aluminum
Aluminum is the “soft in the head” metal because it is a soft metal that affects the brain. It is very widely distributed in the environment in industrialized nations. Common sources are table salt, aluminum cans and foils, uncoated aluminum cookware, antacids, all antiperspirants, some cosmetics, all tap water and mineral supplements from the earth such as fulvic or humic acid, zeolite, bentonite, montmorillonite and others. Aluminum Toxicity Symptoms:
The skin, the nervous system and the digestive tract are often most affected. Aluminum toxicity can affect memory and cognition, and is associated with some dementias. I have seen memory loss in teenagers that improves dramatically when the aluminum is removed with a nutritional balancing program. Fluoride
Fluoride may be called the bone destroyer. A tiny amount in food can be helpful for the bones. However, today everyone in America and Great Britain gets far too much fluorides. The toxic dose is also very close to any therapeutic dose. The main source is adding fluorides to water supplies. The source of the fluoride is often smokestack effluent from plants that make fertilizers or refine aluminum and uranium. This waste product also adds a little cadmium, lead, benzene, radiation and other toxic chemicals to your tap water. Water fluoridation has been shown to be ineffective against tooth decay around the world, and has been phased out in almost all nations except America and Great Britain, where powerful lobbies hold sway over health authorities. Other sources are fluoridated toothpastes and mouth washes, and fluoride treatments done at dental offices. These may be given to children without parental consent. All are very toxic and unnecessary for tooth decay prevention. Fluoride added to drinking water has found its way into all the groundwater, the food and the food chain in America and Great Britain. The idea that more is needed is insane, in my view. Studies indicate that some foods, such as reconstituted fruit juices and baby foods, can have as much as 40 parts per million fluoride. A ‘recommended safe level’ in drinking water is 1 ppm, which is too high, according to many studies. Symptoms of Fluoride Toxicity
Fluoride is a powerful enzyme inhibitor. It replaces iodine in the thyroid gland and it replaces calcium in the bones. Common symptoms are low thyroid activity, impaired IQ, fatigue, and many more cancers. Fluoride is corrosive. Boiling fluoridated water in aluminum pots increases the etching of aluminum 600%. Fluoride in the drinking water also increases the leaching of lead from solder in water pipes and increases lead toxicity. The only water free of it is distilled, RO or spring water. RO water, however, is not suitable for drinking as it does not appear to hydrate the body nearly as well as a good quality spring water or as well as most distilled water. Cadmium
Cadmium is the “macho or tough cookie” mineral because it toughens or hardens both the personality, along with the arteries and the kidneys. It is extremely poisonous, and found everywhere today in refined foods, tap water, and smoke from cigarettes and marijuana. Shellfish and coffee also have a little of it. Symptoms of Cadmium Toxicity
Cadmium is associated with all of the modern ‘killer’ diseases. It tends to harden and inflame the arteries leading to arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, impaired circulation, hypertension and heart failure. Elevated hair cadmium is highly correlated with cancer, in my experience. It is also important for hypoglycemia, diabetes, mental illness, especially paranoia and violence, and many other problems. Arsenic
Arsenic may be called the slow death metal. It is used commonly in pesticides. It kills certain insects, but is also deadly for human beings. Even organically grown food may have residues because the crops were often grown on land that was formerly sprayed with arsenic-containing pesticides. Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning
Most symptoms are vague, including weakness, malaise, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, ringing in the ears, headaches, vertigo, pallor, coma and death. Uranium and the Other Radioactive Elements
The radioactive minerals may be called the stealth killers because they offer no signs or symptoms in low doses. They include about 60 radioactive variants or isotopes of common elements that are either shorter or longer-term emitters of radioactive particles. They include iodine-131, platinum-190 and -192, samarium-147, -148 and -149, rubidium -87, rhenium -187, thorium-231 and -232, strontium-90, uranium-235 and -238, potassium-90, vanadium-50, zirconium-96, lead-211 and others. Sources
Environmental sources include nuclear bomb tests, medical use of radioactive materials, waste from nuclear plants such as runoff water used to cool the plant, cesium-containing smoke detectors, perhaps food irradiation equipment, and war-related nuclear material such as depleted uranium used as ammunition. Radioactive minerals are the most damaging to human health in that they damage tissue at the DNA level. However, they are not as toxic chemically as lead, mercury or cadmium, fortunately. All babies are born with some radioactive elements in their bodies, though they may be hard to detect. Radiation toxicity receives little attention today even from holistic doctors. Reasons for this are that it is so silent, so subtle and hard to detect. Also, few methods exist to remove them. Overcoming Toxic Metals
While we live in a sea of toxic metals, it is quite easy to avoid most of them. It is also not difficult to remove many toxic metals from the body without a need for chelation therapy, which I consider less safe and less effective. Avoiding Toxic Metals
This is quite simple if one is willing to avoid tap water completely. Only drink distilled or spring water. While spring water may contain some arsenic, it is in a form that the body can handle much better than all the chemicals that are in tap water. Carbon filters remove very few toxic metals. Any water filter that begins with tap water is not acceptable if one wishes to avoid toxic metals, including all alkaline water machines and others. These are quite dangerous for long-term use in my clinical experience because they add platinum to the water, another deadly toxic metal. The other way to avoid toxic metals is to eat only organically grown food. This is a must today, as the commercially sprayed food often contains much more pesticide residues, many of which contain lead and arsenic, and some mercury compounds. Finally, one must avoid handling toxic materials. This is more difficult for those working in the building trades, for example, or auto mechanics. These individuals need to wear gloves, use respirators on dirty jobs, and wash one’s hands and clothing often. Removing Toxic Metals
The common medical method to remove toxic metals is chelation. This is the use of a drug or natural substance that grabs onto toxic metals and pulls them out of the body. Problems with this method are 1) the drugs are somewhat toxic, 2) chelation only removes some of the toxic metals, and 3) all chelators remove some vital or essential minerals along with the toxic ones. This can be a serious problem, at times. One cannot simply replace the zinc and calcium, for example, with a vitamin pill or IV drip because the chelators can upset body chemistry at deeper levels. Three methods that remove all of a person’s toxic metals in a gentle and much safer manner, even some radioactive minerals, are: 1) Nutritional balancing science that uses hair mineral analysis. It removes all the heavy metals by gently balancing body chemistry. As this occurs, the body’s energy increases and this enables the body to eliminate all the toxic metals. 2) Near infrared sauna therapy using heat lamps. This can remove all toxic metals by dramatically improving circulation, by inducing sweating and many other means as well. Most people need to use a sauna daily at least for two to five years to remove the bulk of the toxic metals. The sauna and nutritional balancing will also slowly remove hundreds, if not thousands, of toxic chemicals which all of us have in our bodies. Near infrared light saunas will also slowly get rid of dozens of infections that most everyone has as well. 3) Colon cleansing and/or daily coffee enemas. This is also an excellent method to reduce toxicity in the liver and colon, in particular. For much more information about toxic metals and their removal, visit www.drlwilson.com.

Lawrence Wilson, M.D.

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves

Mike Adams

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves: Ten “Big Duh” Realizations about Our World That Need to be Stated

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Forget the excuses, the spin and the propaganda. America’s proposed health reforms won’t work. The economy won’t be saved with more bailouts, and technology isn’t going to rescue us from carbon emissions. You want to know what’s real in our world? Here are ten “Big Duh” realizations that need to be flatly stated.

Big Duh #1 – Pharmaceuticals don’t work
Big Pharma’s drugs simply don’t work. They don’t cure any disease. Ask a cancer doctor about the number of patients he’s ever cured with chemotherapy: That number is zero. Ask a heart doctor how many patients have been cured with heart drugs: The answer is zero. How many diabetes patients have been cured with diabetes drugs? Also zero.

Big Pharma’s drugs don’t work. And the only reason people think they do work is because doctors and consumers alike are easily fooled by commercial advertising. Virtually all the so-called “science” backing drugs is utterly fraudulent (and the FDA continues to outlaw anything that might compete with drugs).

Big Duh #2 – You can’t raise healthy children on garbage food
America continues to feed its children junk processed food laced with chemical contaminants (food coloring, artificial sweeteners, MSG, etc.). And yet we somehow expect the next generation to grow up healthy and intelligent. This expectation is simply incompatible with the diets we are currently feeding our children.

Any society that hopes to have a future MUST base that future on a serious investment in the health of each successive generation. That means eliminating the junk foods, chemicals, processed foods, sodas and toxic pharmaceuticals that are poisoning our children today.

Big Duh #3 – Modern society is not sustainable
Let’s stop kidding ourselves on this one. The structure of modern urban living is simply not sustainable. From the importation of food, the dwindling supplies of water, the dependence on oil, the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of nature, human cities flat out cannot continue for very much longer as currently configured. We must either radically reduce our eco-footprint (and learn to live more locally) or we will not live much longer at current population levels. It’s as simple as that.

Another glaring issue with modern society is the population problem. We keep creating more people who consume more resources and ultimately destroy more of our natural environment. It’s time we realized we are in a population bubble that will soon burst, resulting in a sharp reduction in population in one way or another (a pandemic, crop failures, etc.).

Big Duh #4 – the American Empire is bankrupt
Do the math: The American Empire has no escape from outright financial destitution. The nation is so broke that even the big lenders who have been subsidizing America’s way of life for at least four decades are about to bail. Massive hyperinflation is on the way, and the gargantuan financial bailouts of the last nine months are just a sign of the financial idiocy that now seems to dominate the minds of those in Washington. Read about today’s horrifying debt spending under “Obamanomics” here: http://www.heritage.org/research/fe…

The era of “free money” is history, and with it goes the United States of America (at least as we know it today). Our brand of democracy combined with unlimited spending was a fascinating experiment. That experiment has now failed, and we’d better start thinking about the next revision of how a free society might work. My suggestion? Instant Runoff Voting (www.InstantRunoff.com) combined with an honest money system (gold standard).

Big Duh #5 – The health care crisis cannot be solved unless we focus on health
Everybody’s talking about the health care crisis, but nobody in Washington has a real plan to solve it. Instead of solving the problems, all the current discussion is about appeasing powerful lobby groups that represent corporations and institutions. The whole thing is a cruel joke.

Here’s a REAL solution to the health care problem: The Health Revolution Petition: www.HealthRevolutionPetition.org

Big Duh #6 – You cannot “screen” your way to good health
Big Pharma loves the idea of offering “free screening” for everything: Breast cancer, prostate cancer, depression, ADHD… you name it. The whole scam is a big recruiting ploy, of course, because screening for disease does nothing to prevent disease!

The conventional health industry cleverly liked to call screening “prevention.” But it isn’t. It’s just detection, not prevention. Real prevention is done with foods, sunlight, exercise and nutrition, not with a mammogram or a multiple-choice questionnaire.

Big Duh #7 – Carbon emissions do impact the environment
Sure, politicians around the world are hopping on the global warming bandwagon with devious plans to seize power and limit freedom based on this global emergency, but that doesn’t mean carbon emissions have no effect on the environment. The truth is: The stuff we put into the air affects the environment just as much as the stuff we put into our bodies affects our health.

Global warming may or may not be overblown, but only a fool would suppose that human beings can dump unlimited pollutants into the atmosphere without suffering any negative effects whatsoever. Virtually every destructive impact on our planet today is caused by man (including so-called “natural disasters” which are often accelerated by global warming).

Big Duh #8 – Animals have consciousness
It’s time consumers (and food industry profiteers) stopped pretending that cows, pigs, chickens and other animals have no consciousness or experience of pain. Cows and pigs in particular are highly intelligent, social mammals with real memories and real experiences. Growing them in factory farms as a food source is cruel and inhumane. Eating meat products (and drinking milk) from such animals is, itself, an endorsement of that cruelty.

Big Duh #9 – All the medicine we need already exists in plants
The “search for the cure” is a marketing gimmick. We already know how to cure cancer! … and diabetes, heart disease, kidney stones, depression, ADHD and a thousand other conditions. All the medicines we need to be healthy exist right now! They’re found in medicinal plants from around the world.

Big Pharma could be completely shut down tomorrow with absolutely no net loss of life across the world. The entire world could shift to medicinal plants (and foods) and live happier, safer and more abundantly based entirely on the natural medicines found in plants. There is no need for Big Pharma on our planet. It is an industry that could disappear without a trace to the great benefit of humankind.

Big Duh #10 – Humankind has learned nothing from the “advancement” of technology
Computers, combustion engines, nanotechnology and biochemistry… Compared to a hundred years ago, we seem smarter now because we have more gadgets. But in reality we’ve learned nothing from all this technology. Instead of ending all wars, we just fight them with more advanced weaponry. Instead of seeking real happiness, we just seek more high-tech stuff that fills our empty lives with convenient distractions. Instead of prioritizing quality of life, we focus on medicalizing people’s lives so that they become dependent on biochemical technologies instead of independently free and healthy based on natural medicine.

As a whole, the human population is no safer today than it was a hundred years ago, nor is it happier, wiser or more resourceful. If anything, technology has allowed us to be more wasteful, exploitive and isolated from the world in which we live.

Technology has given us no answers, but it has allowed us the leverage to create far larger problems that we have yet to resolve.

Mike Adams

Eating Out, Is Alcohol Good For Me?

David G. Olarsch, N.D.

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: How do you feel about eating out?

A: Americans are eating out more frequently. For the most part, this is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Most people tend to finish the huge servings at a restaurant—more than you would eat at home. There are more temptations when dining out, and the atmosphere often lends itself to eating quickly and nervously. We must try to remember to retrain our minds, that eating is not for fun or pleasure, it is to nourish our temple, our body. Too many restaurants use “fun” or other tactics to give us an excuse to choose the wrong foods.

As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, food establishments are not required to tell us the ingredients or ways the food is prepared. This inherently dishonest profession employs many tricks and unhealthy methods in preparing food. Ways to mask old or rancid food, ways to make poor quality food taste good, and other methods to increase profits and fool us. Here are some examples: over-salting food. This masks many defects in the raw food. Ditto for adding lots of sugar. I hope you know by now how I feel about sugar! By reading this, I want you to discover just how hard the industry works at keeping its dietary secrets. Indeed, the law is on its side: The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 actually absolves restaurants of all nutritional liability to the American public!

Another problem is aluminum cookware. I have repeatedly seen very high levels of this toxic heavy metal in the hair mineral analysis of patients that eat out often. Take out containers (see link to article here: Concerns About Recycling & Plastic) are another problem. They are coated with chemicals similar to non-stick coating used on cookware. For more information on restaurant tricks and eating out hazards, read Even Five-Star Restaurants Can’t Be Trusted for Healthy Food, 16 Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, and The Truth Behind Fast-Food Restaurant’s Soft and Fluffy Claims!

What to do? Not all dining establishments are evil, of course. I stick to places that are owner-operated, not a nation-wide chain, places where I know the owner and/or their family. I ask about cookware, ingredients, cooking methods, try to ascertain their savviness to organic, free-range and other health issues. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making the best choice. It’s all about choices.

There is no place like home when it comes to nourishing our body with healthy and economical food. When dining out, select food that is baked, steamed or broiled. Avoid dessert, alcohol, soda, bread and fried foods. Choose vegetables and protein, have them hold the starches and instead give you extra veggies. I ask for steamed or “stir fried” veggies instead of pasta under my protein (fish, turkey, chicken, etc.). Many ethnic restaurants offer healthy choices. Some patients eat before going out socially so they are not as hungry, often just ordering a big salad.

Again, try to avoid the “treat” mentality and remember your long-term goals. We trick ourselves by telling ourself that this is a “treat, just this one time” and that happens again and again until we are grossly overweight and sickly. Remember that soon almost everyone in that restaurant will be saying or thinking “I wish I hadn’t eaten all that, I wish I hadn’t eaten that dessert.” Ask that the bread not be brought to your table, same for dessert menus. It’s your life and your body.

Q: Is red wine good for me? What about all those studies saying moderate red wine intake has health benefits?

A: No, red wine is not good for you. Alcohol is poison to the human cell, and nothing has changed that! Alcohol is a drug, a mind-altering substance, one that use of causes a great deal of pain on our planet. Now, as for these “studies” and the startling conclusions that are drawn from them, remember that studies are not the final word. They are studying what is in the product, not the whole product. Yes, there are good compounds in red wine, but grapes have more. It looks like our society is trying hard to find a way to justify our addiction to alcohol and ways to escape our feelings. Not to mention the huge financial impact the alcohol industry has on our culture. Sorry to be so harsh, but someone has to tell the truth. Yes, the French are healthier than us. But how scientific is it to assume that is from red wine? They also eat four times the fruits and vegetables we do, and get twice the amount of exercise of the average American. I look at the people I know who are big drinkers, and they are not healthy! Alcohol is bad for the liver and kidneys. It is hard for these organs to break it down and that can cause serious harm. Wine is full of sugar, some naturally occurring and some added during manufacturing process. This manufacturing process is a proprietary process, a secret that each winery cherishes as a kind of secret formula, then spins it all into public relations romance mystery. How romantic not to tell us about the nitrites, pesticides, sugars, and a host of chemicals that are in alcoholic drinks. And the real treat here is that the law exempts them from telling us what poisons they have added to this mind-altering concoction. I won’t go much into how bad sugar is except to mention that we already get enough, it ages us, can raise triglycerides and other bad fats, and put your heart at risk. I will remind you that the extra calories and carbs are something we can live well without. And, red wine, like any other alcholic drink, can make us dizzy, dehydrated and cause headaches. So much for the miracle of red wine! I will drink my fresh vegetable juices or well water while reading those studies and continue to shake my head in amazement at the conclusions that are drawn.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.

Open Letter to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief

Open Letter to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief
New York Times October 10, 2008

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration—the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact—so easy to overlook these past few years—that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention. Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on—but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain. After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy: 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do—as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis—a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact. In addition to the problems of climate change and America’s oil addiction, you have spoken at length on the campaign trail of the health care crisis. Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today, putting a significant drag on the economy. The goal of ensuring the health of all Americans depends on getting those costs under control. There are several reasons health care has gotten so expensive, but one of the biggest, and perhaps most tractable, is the cost to the system of preventable chronic diseases. Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount—from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet. The impact of the American food system on the rest of the world will have implications for your foreign and trade policies as well. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food. Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor’s precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases “food sovereignty” and “food security” on the lips of every foreign leader you meet. Not only the Doha round, but the whole cause of free trade in agriculture is probably dead, the casualty of a cheap food policy that a scant two years ago seemed like a boon for everyone. It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third. But it turns out that too much food can be nearly as big a problem as too little—a lesson we should keep in mind as we set about designing a new approach to food policy. Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods. The deliberate contamination of our food presents another national-security threat. At his valedictory press conference in 2004, Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, offered a chilling warning, saying, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.” This, in brief, is the bad news: the food and agriculture policies you’ve inherited—designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so—are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation. The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food—organic, local, pasture-based, humane—are thriving as never before. All this suggests that a political constituency for change is building and not only on the left: lately, conservative voices have also been raised in support of reform. Writing of the movement back to local food economies, traditional foods (and family meals) and more sustainable farming, The American Conservative magazine editorialized last summer that “this is a conservative cause if ever there was one.” There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done—fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food. How We Got Here Before setting out an agenda for reforming the food system, it’s important to understand how that system came to be—and also to appreciate what, for all its many problems, it has accomplished. What our food system does well is precisely what it was designed to do, which is to produce cheap calories in great abundance. It is no small thing for an American to be able to go into a fast-food restaurant and to buy a double cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke for a price equal to less than an hour of labor at the minimum wage—indeed, in the long sweep of history, this represents a remarkable achievement. It must be recognized that the current food system—characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table—is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy. Did you notice when you flew over Iowa during the campaign how the land was completely bare—black—from October to April? What you were seeing is the agricultural landscape created by cheap oil. In years past, except in the dead of winter, you would have seen in those fields a checkerboard of different greens: pastures and hayfields for animals, cover crops, perhaps a block of fruit trees. Before the application of oil and natural gas to agriculture, farmers relied on crop diversity (and photosynthesis) both to replenish their soil and to combat pests, as well as to feed themselves and their neighbors. Cheap energy, however, enabled the creation of monocultures, and monocultures in turn vastly increased the productivity both of the American land and the American farmer; today the typical corn-belt farmer is single-handedly feeding 140 people. This did not occur by happenstance. After World War II, the government encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer—ammonium nitrate being the main ingredient of both bombs and chemical fertilizer—and the conversion of nerve-gas research to pesticides. The government also began subsidizing commodity crops, paying farmers by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row” and to “get big or get out.” The chief result, especially after the Earl Butz years, was a flood of cheap grain that could be sold for substantially less than it cost farmers to grow because a government check helped make up the difference. As this artificially cheap grain worked its way up the food chain, it drove down the price of all the calories derived from that grain: the high-fructose corn syrup in the Coke, the soy oil in which the potatoes were fried, the meat and cheese in the burger. Subsidized monocultures of grain also led directly to monocultures of animals: since factory farms could buy grain for less than it cost farmers to grow it, they could now fatten animals more cheaply than farmers could. So America’s meat and dairy animals migrated from farm to feedlot, driving down the price of animal protein to the point where an American can enjoy eating, on average, 190 pounds of meat a year—a half pound every day. But if taking the animals off farms made a certain kind of economic sense, it made no ecological sense whatever: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant—factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution. As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution—animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete—and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all. What was once a regional food economy is now national and increasingly global in scope—thanks again to fossil fuel. Cheap energy—for trucking food as well as pumping water—is the reason New York City now gets its produce from California rather than from the “Garden State” next door, as it did before the advent of Interstate highways and national trucking networks. More recently, cheap energy has underwritten a globalized food economy in which it makes (or rather, made) economic sense to catch salmon in Alaska, ship it to China to be filleted and then ship the fillets back to California to be eaten; or one in which California and Mexico can profitably swap tomatoes back and forth across the border; or Denmark and the United States can trade sugar cookies across the Atlantic. About that particular swap the economist Herman Daly once quipped, “Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.” Whatever we may have liked about the era of cheap, oil-based food, it is drawing to a close. Even if we were willing to continue paying the environmental or public-health price, we’re not going to have the cheap energy (or the water) needed to keep the system going, much less expand production. But as is so often the case, a crisis provides opportunity for reform, and the current food crisis presents opportunities that must be seized. In drafting these proposals, I’ve adhered to a few simple principles of what a 21st-century food system needs to do. First, your administration’s food policy must strive to provide a healthful diet for all our people; this means focusing on the quality and diversity (and not merely the quantity) of the calories that American agriculture produces and American eaters consume. Second, your policies should aim to improve the resilience, safety and security of our food supply. Among other things, this means promoting regional food economies both in America and around the world. And lastly, your policies need to reconceive agriculture as part of the solution to environmental problems like climate change. These goals are admittedly ambitious, yet they will not be difficult to align or advance as long as we keep in mind this One Big Idea: most of the problems our food system faces today are because of its reliance on fossil fuels, and to the extent that our policies wring the oil out of the system and replace it with the energy of the sun, those policies will simultaneously improve the state of our health, our environment and our security. I. Resolarizing the American Farm What happens in the field influences every other link of the food chain on up to our meals—if we grow monocultures of corn and soy, we will find the products of processed corn and soy on our plates. Fortunately for your initiative, the federal government has enormous leverage in determining exactly what happens on the 830 million acres of American crop and pasture land. Today most government farm and food programs are designed to prop up the old system of maximizing production from a handful of subsidized commodity crops grown in monocultures. Even food-assistance programs like WIC and school lunch focus on maximizing quantity rather than quality, typically specifying a minimum number of calories (rather than maximums) and seldom paying more than lip service to nutritional quality. This focus on quantity may have made sense in a time of food scarcity, but today it gives us a school-lunch program that feeds chicken nuggets and Tater Tots to overweight and diabetic children. Your challenge is to take control of this vast federal machinery and use it to drive a transition to a new solar-food economy, starting on the farm. Right now, the government actively discourages the farmers it subsidizes from growing healthful, fresh food: farmers receiving crop subsidies are prohibited from growing “specialty crops”—farm-bill speak for fruits and vegetables. (This rule was the price exacted by California and Florida produce growers in exchange for going along with subsidies for commodity crops.) Commodity farmers should instead be encouraged to grow as many different crops—including animals—as possible. Why? Because the greater the diversity of crops on a farm, the less the need for both fertilizers and pesticides. The power of cleverly designed polycultures to produce large amounts of food from little more than soil, water and sunlight has been proved, not only by small-scale “alternative” farmers in the United States but also by large rice-and-fish farmers in China and giant-scale operations (up to 15,000 acres) in places like Argentina. There, in a geography roughly comparable to that of the American farm belt, farmers have traditionally employed an ingenious eight-year rotation of perennial pasture and annual crops: after five years grazing cattle on pasture (and producing the world’s best beef), farmers can then grow three years of grain without applying any fossil-fuel fertilizer. Or, for that matter, many pesticides: the weeds that afflict pasture can’t survive the years of tillage, and the weeds of row crops don’t survive the years of grazing, making herbicides all but unnecessary. There is no reason—save current policy and custom—that American farmers couldn’t grow both high-quality grain and grass-fed beef under such a regime through much of the Midwest. (It should be noted that today’s sky-high grain prices are causing many Argentine farmers to abandon their rotation to grow grain and soybeans exclusively, an environmental disaster in the making.) Federal policies could do much to encourage this sort of diversified sun farming. Begin with the subsidies: payment levels should reflect the number of different crops farmers grow or the number of days of the year their fields are green—that is, taking advantage of photosynthesis, whether to grow food, replenish the soil or control erosion. If Midwestern farmers simply planted a cover crop after the fall harvest, they would significantly reduce their need for fertilizer, while cutting down on soil erosion. Why don’t farmers do this routinely? Because in recent years fossil-fuel-based fertility has been so much cheaper and easier to use than sun-based fertility. In addition to rewarding farmers for planting cover crops, we should make it easier for them to apply compost to their fields—a practice that improves not only the fertility of the soil but also its ability to hold water and therefore withstand drought. (There is mounting evidence that it also boosts the nutritional quality of the food grown in it.) The U.S.D.A. estimates that Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy; much more is wasted by retailers, wholesalers and institutions. A program to make municipal composting of food and yard waste mandatory and then distributing the compost free to area farmers would shrink America’s garbage heap, cut the need for irrigation and fossil-fuel fertilizers in agriculture and improve the nutritional quality of the American diet. Right now, most of the conservation programs run by the U.S.D.A. are designed on the zero-sum principle: land is either locked up in “conservation” or it is farmed intensively. This either-or approach reflects an outdated belief that modern farming and ranching are inherently destructive, so that the best thing for the environment is to leave land untouched. But we now know how to grow crops and graze animals in systems that will support biodiversity, soil health, clean water and carbon sequestration. The Conservation Stewardship Program, championed by Senator Tom Harkin and included in the 2008 Farm Bill, takes an important step toward rewarding these kinds of practices, but we need to move this approach from the periphery of our farm policy to the very center. Longer term, the government should back ambitious research now under way (at the Land Institute in Kansas and a handful of other places) to “perennialize” commodity agriculture: to breed varieties of wheat, rice and other staple grains that can be grown like prairie grasses—without having to till the soil every year. These perennial grains hold the promise of slashing the fossil fuel now needed to fertilize and till the soil, while protecting farmland from erosion and sequestering significant amounts of carbon. But that is probably a 50-year project. For today’s agriculture to wean itself from fossil fuel and make optimal use of sunlight, crop plants and animals must once again be married on the farm—as in Wendell Berry’s elegant “solution.” Sunlight nourishes the grasses and grains, the plants nourish the animals, the animals then nourish the soil, which in turn nourishes the next season’s grasses and grains. Animals on pasture can also harvest their own feed and dispose of their own waste—all without our help or fossil fuel. If this system is so sensible, you might ask, why did it succumb to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs? In fact there is nothing inherently efficient or economical about raising vast cities of animals in confinement. Three struts, each put into place by federal policy, support the modern CAFO, and the most important of these—the ability to buy grain for less than it costs to grow it—has just been kicked away. The second strut is F.D.A. approval for the routine use of antibiotics in feed, without which the animals in these places could not survive their crowded, filthy and miserable existence. And the third is that the government does not require CAFOs to treat their wastes as it would require human cities of comparable size to do. The F.D.A. should ban the routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed on public-health grounds, now that we have evidence that the practice is leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacterial diseases and to outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning. CAFOs should also be regulated like the factories they are, required to clean up their waste like any other industry or municipality. It will be argued that moving animals off feedlots and back onto farms will raise the price of meat. It probably will—as it should. You will need to make the case that paying the real cost of meat, and therefore eating less of it, is a good thing for our health, for the environment, for our dwindling reserves of fresh water and for the welfare of the animals. Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment; a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce.) And while animals living on farms will still emit their share of greenhouse gases, grazing them on grass and returning their waste to the soil will substantially offset their carbon hoof prints, as will getting ruminant animals off grain. A bushel of grain takes approximately a half gallon of oil to produce; grass can be grown with little more than sunshine. It will be argued that sun-food agriculture will generally yield less food than fossil-fuel agriculture. This is debatable. The key question you must be prepared to answer is simply this: Can the sort of sustainable agriculture you’re proposing feed the world? There are a couple of ways to answer this question. The simplest and most honest answer is that we don’t know, because we haven’t tried. But in the same way we now need to learn how to run an industrial economy without cheap fossil fuel, we have no choice but to find out whether sustainable agriculture can produce enough food. The fact is, during the past century, our agricultural research has been directed toward the goal of maximizing production with the help of fossil fuel. There is no reason to think that bringing the same sort of resources to the development of more complex, sun-based agricultural systems wouldn’t produce comparable yields. Today’s organic farmers, operating for the most part without benefit of public investment in research, routinely achieve 80 to 100 percent of conventional yields in grain and, in drought years, frequently exceed conventional yields. (This is because organic soils better retain moisture.) Assuming no further improvement, could the world—with a population expected to peak at 10 billion—survive on these yields? First, bear in mind that the average yield of world agriculture today is substantially lower than that of modern sustainable farming. According to a recent University of Michigan study, merely bringing international yields up to today’s organic levels could increase the world’s food supply by 50 percent. The second point to bear in mind is that yield isn’t everything—and growing high-yield commodities is not quite the same thing as growing food. Much of what we’re growing today is not directly eaten as food but processed into low-quality calories of fat and sugar. As the world epidemic of diet-related chronic disease has demonstrated, the sheer quantity of calories that a food system produces improves health only up to a point, but after that, quality and diversity are probably more important. We can expect that a food system that produces somewhat less food but of a higher quality will produce healthier populations. The final point to consider is that 40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels. Provided the developed world can cut its consumption of grain-based animal protein and ethanol, there should be plenty of food for everyone—however we choose to grow it. In fact, well-designed polyculture systems, incorporating not just grains but vegetables and animals, can produce more food per acre than conventional monocultures, and food of a much higher nutritional value. But this kind of farming is complicated and needs many more hands on the land to make it work. Farming without fossil fuels—performing complex rotations of plants and animals and managing pests without petrochemicals—is labor intensive and takes more skill than merely “driving and spraying,” which is how corn-belt farmers describe what they do for a living. To grow sufficient amounts of food using sunlight will require more people growing food—millions more. This suggests that sustainable agriculture will be easier to implement in the developing world, where large rural populations remain, than in the West, where they don’t. But what about here in America, where we have only about two million farmers left to feed a population of 300 million? And where farmland is being lost to development at the rate of 2,880 acres a day? Post-oil agriculture will need a lot more people engaged in food production—as farmers and probably also as gardeners. The sun-food agenda must include programs to train a new generation of farmers and then help put them on the land. The average American farmer today is 55 years old; we shouldn’t expect these farmers to embrace the sort of complex ecological approach to agriculture that is called for. Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today. For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America—not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food. National security also argues for preserving every acre of farmland we can and then making it available to new farmers. We simply will not be able to depend on distant sources of food, and therefore need to preserve every acre of good farmland within a day’s drive of our cities. In the same way that when we came to recognize the supreme ecological value of wetlands we erected high bars to their development, we need to recognize the value of farmland to our national security and require real-estate developers to do “food-system impact statements” before development begins. We should also create tax and zoning incentives for developers to incorporate farmland (as they now do “open space”) in their subdivision plans; all those subdivisions now ringing golf courses could someday have diversified farms at their center. The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy. II. Reregionalizing the Food System For your sun-food agenda to succeed, it will have to do a lot more than alter what happens on the farm. The government could help seed a thousand new polyculture farmers in every county in Iowa, but they would promptly fail if the grain elevator remained the only buyer in town and corn and beans were the only crops it would take. Resolarizing the food system means building the infrastructure for a regional food economy—one that can support diversified farming and, by shortening the food chain, reduce the amount of fossil fuel in the American diet. A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it. Today in America there is soaring demand for local and regional food; farmers’ markets, of which the U.S.D.A. estimates there are now 4,700, have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. Community-supported agriculture is booming as well: there are now nearly 1,500 community-supported farms, to which consumers pay an annual fee in exchange for a weekly box of produce through the season. The local-food movement will continue to grow with no help from the government, especially as high fuel prices make distant and out-of-season food, as well as feedlot meat, more expensive. Yet there are several steps the government can take to nurture this market and make local foods more affordable. Here are a few: Four-Season Farmers’ Markets. Provide grants to towns and cities to build year-round indoor farmers’ markets, on the model of Pike Place in Seattle or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. To supply these markets, the U.S.D.A. should make grants to rebuild local distribution networks in order to minimize the amount of energy used to move produce within local food sheds. Agricultural Enterprise Zones. Today the revival of local food economies is being hobbled by a tangle of regulations originally designed to check abuses by the very largest food producers. Farmers should be able to smoke a ham and sell it to their neighbors without making a huge investment in federally approved facilities. Food-safety regulations must be made sensitive to scale and marketplace, so that a small producer selling direct off the farm or at a farmers’ market is not regulated as onerously as a multinational food manufacturer. This is not because local food won’t ever have food-safety problems—it will—only that its problems will be less catastrophic and easier to manage because local food is inherently more traceable and accountable. Local Meat-Inspection Corps. Perhaps the single greatest impediment to the return of livestock to the land and the revival of local, grass-based meat production is the disappearance of regional slaughter facilities. The big meat processors have been buying up local abattoirs only to close them down as they consolidate, and the U.S.D.A. does little to support the ones that remain. From the department’s perspective, it is a better use of shrinking resources to dispatch its inspectors to a plant slaughtering 400 head an hour than to a regional abattoir slaughtering a dozen. The U.S.D.A. should establish a Local Meat-Inspectors Corps to serve these processors. Expanding on its successful pilot program on Lopez Island in Puget Sound, the U.S.D.A. should also introduce a fleet of mobile abattoirs that would go from farm to farm, processing animals humanely and inexpensively. Nothing would do more to make regional, grass-fed meat fully competitive in the market with feedlot meat. Establish a Strategic Grain Reserve. In the same way the shift to alternative energy depends on keeping oil prices relatively stable, the sun-food agenda—as well as the food security of billions of people around the world—will benefit from government action to prevent huge swings in commodity prices. A strategic grain reserve, modeled on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, would help achieve this objective and at the same time provide some cushion for world food stocks, which today stand at perilously low levels. Governments should buy and store grain when it is cheap and sell when it is dear, thereby moderating price swings in both directions and discouraging speculation. Regionalize Federal Food Procurement. In the same way that federal procurement is often used to advance important social goals (like promoting minority-owned businesses), we should require that some minimum percentage of government food purchases—whether for school-lunch programs, military bases or federal prisons—go to producers located within 100 miles of institutions buying the food. We should create incentives for hospitals and universities receiving federal funds to buy fresh local produce. To channel even a small portion of institutional food purchasing to local food would vastly expand regional agriculture and improve the diet of the millions of people these institutions feed. Create a Federal Definition of “Food.” It makes no sense for government food-assistance dollars, intended to improve the nutritional health of at-risk Americans, to support the consumption of products we know to be unhealthful. Yes, some people will object that for the government to specify what food stamps can and cannot buy smacks of paternalism. Yet we already prohibit the purchase of tobacco and alcohol with food stamps. So why not prohibit something like soda, which is arguably less nutritious than red wine? Because it is, nominally, a food, albeit a “junk food.” We need to stop flattering nutritionally worthless foodlike substances by calling them “junk food”—and instead make clear that such products are not in fact food of any kind. Defining what constitutes real food worthy of federal support will no doubt be controversial (you’ll recall President Reagan’s ketchup imbroglio), but defining food upward may be more politically palatable than defining it down, as Reagan sought to do. One approach would be to rule that, in order to be regarded as a food by the government, an edible substance must contain a certain minimum ratio of micronutrients per calorie of energy. At a stroke, such a definition would improve the quality of school lunch and discourage sales of unhealthful products, since typically only “food” is exempt from local sales tax. A few other ideas: Food-stamp debit cards should double in value whenever swiped at a farmers’ markets—all of which, by the way, need to be equipped with the Electronic Benefit Transfer card readers that supermarkets already have. We should expand the WIC program that gives farmers’-market vouchers to low-income women with children; such programs help attract farmers’ markets to urban neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is often nonexistent. (We should also offer tax incentives to grocery chains willing to build supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods.) Federal food assistance for the elderly should build on a successful program pioneered by the State of Maine that buys low-income seniors a membership in a community-supported farm. All these initiatives have the virtue of advancing two objectives at once: supporting the health of at-risk Americans and the revival of local food economies. III. Rebuilding America’s Food Culture In the end, shifting the American diet from a foundation of imported fossil fuel to local sunshine will require changes in our daily lives, which by now are deeply implicated in the economy and culture of fast, cheap and easy food. Making available more healthful and more sustainable food does not guarantee it will be eaten, much less appreciated or enjoyed. We need to use all the tools at our disposal—not just federal policy and public education but the president’s bully pulpit and the example of the first family’s own dinner table—to promote a new culture of food that can undergird your sun-food agenda. Changing the food culture must begin with our children, and it must begin in the schools. Nearly a half-century ago, President Kennedy announced a national initiative to improve the physical fitness of American children. He did it by elevating the importance of physical education, pressing states to make it a requirement in public schools. We need to bring the same commitment to “edible education”—in Alice Waters’s phrase—by making lunch, in all its dimensions, a mandatory part of the curriculum. On the premise that eating well is a critically important life skill, we need to teach all primary-school students the basics of growing and cooking food and then enjoying it at shared meals. To change our children’s food culture, we’ll need to plant gardens in every primary school, build fully equipped kitchens, train a new generation of lunchroom ladies (and gentlemen) who can once again cook and teach cooking to children. We should introduce a School Lunch Corps program that forgives federal student loans to culinary-school graduates in exchange for two years of service in the public-school lunch program. And we should immediately increase school-lunch spending per pupil by $1 a day—the minimum amount food-service experts believe it will take to underwrite a shift from fast food in the cafeteria to real food freshly prepared. But it is not only our children who stand to benefit from public education about food. Today most federal messages about food, from nutrition labeling to the food pyramid, are negotiated with the food industry. The surgeon general should take over from the Department of Agriculture the job of communicating with Americans about their diet. That way we might begin to construct a less equivocal and more effective public-health message about nutrition. Indeed, there is no reason that public-health campaigns about the dangers of obesity and Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t be as tough and as effective as public-health campaigns about the dangers of smoking. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. The public needs to know and see precisely what that sentence means: blindness; amputation; early death. All of which can be avoided by a change in diet and lifestyle. A public-health crisis of this magnitude calls for a blunt public-health message, even at the expense of offending the food industry. Judging by the success of recent antismoking campaigns, the savings to the health care system could be substantial. There are other kinds of information about food that the government can supply or demand. In general we should push for as much transparency in the food system as possible—the other sense in which “sunlight” should be the watchword of our agenda. The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating. The government should also throw its support behind putting a second bar code on all food products that, when scanned either in the store or at home (or with a cellphone), brings up on a screen the whole story and pictures of how that product was produced: in the case of crops, images of the farm and lists of agrochemicals used in its production; in the case of meat and dairy, descriptions of the animals’ diet and drug regimen, as well as live video feeds of the CAFO where they live and, yes, the slaughterhouse where they die. The very length and complexity of the modern food chain breeds a culture of ignorance and indifference among eaters. Shortening the food chain is one way to create more conscious consumers, but deploying technology to pierce the veil is another. Finally, there is the power of the example you set in the White House. If what’s needed is a change of culture in America’s thinking about food, then how America’s first household organizes its eating will set the national tone, focusing the light of public attention on the issue and communicating a simple set of values that can guide Americans toward sun-based foods and away from eating oil. The choice of White House chef is always closely watched, and you would be wise to appoint a figure who is identified with the food movement and committed to cooking simply from fresh local ingredients. Besides feeding you and your family exceptionally well, such a chef would demonstrate how it is possible even in Washington to eat locally for much of the year, and that good food needn’t be fussy or complicated but does depend on good farming. You should make a point of the fact that every night you’re in town, you join your family for dinner in the Executive Residence—at a table. (Surely you remember the Reagans’ TV trays.) And you should also let it be known that the White House observes one meatless day a week—a step that, if all Americans followed suit, would be the equivalent, in carbon saved, of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road for a year. Let the White House chef post daily menus on the Web, listing the farmers who supplied the food, as well as recipes. Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden. When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.) By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population. Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system—something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently. I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement. You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement. Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry—the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat—meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever. There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal? Our agenda puts the interests of America’s farmers, families and communities ahead of the fast-food industry’s. For that industry and its apologists to imply that it is somehow more “populist” or egalitarian to hand our food dollars to Burger King or General Mills than to support a struggling local farmer is absurd. Yes, sun food costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced—it is in fact unconscionably expensive. Your sun-food agenda promises to win support across the aisle. It builds on America’s agrarian past, but turns it toward a more sustainable, sophisticated future. It honors the work of American farmers and enlists them in three of the 21st century’s most urgent errands: to move into the post-oil era, to improve the health of the American people and to mitigate climate change. Indeed, it enlists all of us in this great cause by turning food consumers into part-time producers, reconnecting the American people with the American land and demonstrating that we need not choose between the welfare of our families and the health of the environment—that eating less oil and more sunlight will redound to the benefit of both.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company. Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the magazine, is the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.”

Michael Pollan

My Office Practice, Dental Health

Ask Dr. David

by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine

Q: What do you treat at your clinic and do you have any specialties?

A: Thanks for asking and for the opportunity to share where I come from when working with a patient. At my clinic, I practice family medicine. That is, I am a general practitioner. I treat anything and everything. I want to emphasize that I treat the patient, not the disease, and I look at things holistically, as part of a bigger picture. This is also called Restorative Medicine, as we seek to rebuild the body. I particularly enjoy custom designing life-long health programs for each person I see. The long-term results of this approach are wonderful. Most of my patients have never developed cancer, heart disease (or any cardio-vascular disease for that matter), Alzheimer’s or diabetes—after being on their program. That is a gratifying track record.

I see many people who have been told their condition is incurable, terminal or unheard of. I don’t specialize as my approach is to treat the whole person no matter what the condition they come to me with. My patients often feel that I am their last chance, or the first doctor to tell them exactly what is going on in their body. While seeing anyone improve their life is gratifying, I like working with cancers of all types, sexual health (both men & women), cardio-vascular diseases, thyroid conditions and detoxifying the body. The work with cleaning out the colon (bowel) is particularly important. As an added bonus, many of my patients report that our visits seem to open them up spiritually and changes their lives (and their loved ones) physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I believe that many of my patients are at a crossroads in life when they get to my office, and the timing is amazing. I consider this a major blessing and am honored to be a part of this journey with them. It is very rewarding and rejuvenating to practice healthcare this way. Oh, and I try to invoke a sense of humor no matter what…

Q: Does Naturopathic Medicine encompass dental health?

A: Yes, absolutely! The health of our teeth has a direct bearing on the body’s health. For more information, see the work of Dr. Weston Price, a great dentist that studied the relationship between teeth and health in many cultures. There are two websites: Price-Pottenger Foundation, and the Weston Price Foundation. We use co-enzyme q-10 for gum disease (bleeding or receding gums, periodontal diseases), Vitamin C & bioflavonoids to strengthen capillaries & blood vessels, minerals & electrolytes to strengthen the skeletal system (which the teeth are part of), and several different remedies to fight infections, germs and bacteria. My dentist sees amazing changes when “Peelu Dental Fibers” are used daily. This is made from a tree in Africa and comes in the form of a tooth powder. I recommend it to my patients, or if the taste is objectionable, I recommend several other toothpastes that are not quite as effective but are the best I have found besides the Peelu. My current favorite is PerioBrite toothpaste. It is nice to alternate between the two, using one in the morning and one in the evening. Why is the integrity of your teeth so important? Because that is where digestion begins—in the mouth! Dr. Jensen taught me that carrots & apples are nature’s toothbrushes. He said that if we eat apples & carrots every day in our lives, particularly during childhood, we would have much stronger jaws, mostly eliminate the need for braces and dramatically reduce cavities Dr. Jensen also taught that by following this advice, we would have less TMJ problems when older, have healthier gums and substantially increase our overall health. Western “civilized” countries have a diet that is too soft. Our bread, rice (white vs. whole grain), and many other food preferences are all too soft. While we are on the subject of teeth, I recommend that my patients avoid fluoride. It is poisonous to the body, particularly to the liver. It accumulates slowly in the body. There is natural fluorine, a mineral, in our food & water. Sugar, as in soda, fruit juices and candy is what causes cavities! For more information on fluoridation, read this essay: Fluoridation, by Wade Frazier. As for tongue cleaning or brushing, the best way to have a healthy tongue (I do tongue diagnosis on every patient), is to have a healthy digestive system, including the eliminative system (colon). Brushing the gunk off your tongue doesn’t address the root of the problem. After eight weeks on their program, most of my patients have very healthy tongues. You can apply tea tree oil, Ipsab® herbal treatment, myrrh, or one of many other remedies available at your local health food store, on your gums or into your toothpaste. Change your toothbrush frequently, at least every three months (buy an economy pack!), and only use ones labeled soft. Gently brush your gums also. Don’t underestimate the importance of oral health and the significant role it plays in your overall health. By following this advice, you can have whiter, brighter, healthier teeth in no time.

David G. Olarsch, N.D.

How to Shop For Cosmetics That Are Good For You

How To Shop For Cosmetics That Are Good for You, Our Children and Our Future

Consumers are more attuned than ever to product safety. If you’re a health-conscious consumer, you should be vitally concerned about the safety of your cosmetic and personal care products—not only for the sake of yourself but also for your family and other loved ones— because buying safe cosmetics is part and parcel of building a safe and secure future for America.

First, let’s focus on our health—that’s what I told television news reporter Stella Inger of KESQ, the ABC affiliate in the Coachella Valley, during an interview she conducted with me for an investigative report that aired in early November.

Inger called me after seeing a television investigative report I had done in San Diego with another news organization. Indeed, I’ve done plenty of such interviews recently. Reporters all over the country have been calling me ever since February 2007 when I held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group and released the results of my study showing that virtually every single kids’ shampoo, bath product and many other skin lotions and other personal care products tested were contaminated with a probable human carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. I named names. I accused companies of taking advantage of consumers, especially children, by using some of our most beloved pop culture icons to lure them into using tainted products.

So, in the conference room at the news station, I picked up a Scooby-Doo kids’ bubble bath product. “It’s contaminated with a probable human carcinogen,” I said.

I picked up a bottle with a Bratz character. “This contains a cancer-causing chemical, too,” I said. “Now, I love these characters,” I continued. “My kids grew up with Scooby-Doo and Bratz, and that’s why they want these products. Yet there are no label warnings—and the manufacturers or distributors could be taking steps to eliminate this dangerous carcinogen. Indeed, it would cost only pennies to have it removed from the product via a process called vacuum stripping. They’re putting profits ahead of our children’s health.”

I added that at least half of the ingredients in these products are petrochemicals and that they very likely harbor other potentially dangerous chemical toxins, such as formaldehyde and phthalates. Formaldehyde is a skin irritant and another carcinogen, and phthalates are linked with reproductive toxicity.

Yet here we are so “hooked” on oil, we’re bathing our children in petroleum. Is that what we think is good and healthy for our children? These are petrochemicals that cause cancer and fuel our dependency on foreign oil—is it any wonder that children’s cancer rates have escalated over the last half century?

Inger asked how these chemicals ended up in shampoos, bath products and other cosmetic products without any warnings or any actions taken by federal regulators.

I explained that when it comes to shampoos and bath products for kids and adults alike, manufacturers use an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a very harsh chemical detergent noted for having damaging effects on the eyes and on the skin.

In order to make it softer, the manufacturer or raw material supplier takes a prime petroleum starter stock called ethylene oxide and combines it with the sodium lauryl sulfate. This process is called ethoxylation. The new chemically altered chemical becomes known as an alcohol ethoxylate, specifically, sodium laureth sulfate. This process is used to create similar chemicals such as sodium myreth sulfate as well and is also found in shampoos and bath products—and other ingredients commonly found in cosmetic products, including polyethylene glycols, which are usually abbreviated on labels as PEG compounds.

Unfortunately for consumer health, ethylene oxide is only one of about 20 chemicals known to be a human carcinogen. During the ethoxylation process, it breaks down into diethylene oxide, which is also known as 1,4-dioxane, a chemical less well studied but nonetheless known as a probable human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In consumer products, our laboratory analyses found anywhere from a few parts per million to over 20 parts per million—amounts that create cancer risks far in excess of accepted government standards for exposure to carcinogens.

Furthermore, not a single manufacturer has revealed that their products contain this chemical. Why was it left to me, a private citizen, to do the work of our own federal regulators? It is outrageous—and the public needs this knowledge to make smart shopping decisions that are better not only for their health but our nation as a whole, I told the reporter.

“I took up the study because my own children wanted to use these products, and because the rest of my family used cosmetics that were similarly contaminated. I have since purchased nearly 100 different products, and virtually every single mainstream company’s cosmetics that we have tested are contaminated,” I told her.

“How do manufacturers get away with it?” she demanded to know.

“Well, if you look at the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Safety Act, you’ll see there are only a few pages devoted to cosmetics and that absolutely no premarket safety testing is required for cosmetic products,” I said. “That means products with plainly dangerous chemicals can be put on the market and the federal government can’t have them removed— unless there is a really obvious physical problem, like scalp burns from hair straighteners, that they can link to a specific product. That’s why I went to Washington in February, and will again, to alert Congress about the real dangers and sometimes disgraceful manufacturing practices of irresponsible members of the cosmetic and personal care product industry.” As far as there being no label disclosure, since 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant and not intentionally added to products, loopholes in federal regulations do not require labeling.

But there’s good news too. As part of my testing program, I also tested shampoos and bath products from Aubrey Organics, and my testing revealed that their products are completely free from this dangerous chemical carcinogen. That was why during the interview, I also recommended the Aubrey Organics product line.

Their pure products represent the very best of the cosmetic and personal care product industry. That’s why Aubrey is a Green Patriot Green 100 member.

So how does it end up that a smaller company like Aubrey Organics is producing what are clearly the better products? Well, the Aubrey family cares about you just like they do their own children and loved ones. Aubrey Hampton, who founded Aubrey Organics some 40 years ago, never has and never will use petrochemicals.

The playwright–cosmetic chemist, with formal training in cosmetic chemistry including an advanced degree, was the first modern American to formulate cosmetics that were completely natural. His training in herbs came from his mother, a natural herbalist in southern Indiana. Hampton’s father was a dirt farmer and foundry union organizer.

Today, Hampton’s Aubrey Organics is the premiere truly natural cosmetic line, and the company provides consumers with the most extensive completely petrochemical-free line of cosmetics, personal care products, cleaning and pet products today. The company is a reflection of his own sensibilities—he cares about ordinary people like you and me.

But their products are extraordinary. Not only are they formulated for specific skin types, from normal to oily, dry and combination skin, but they also use more organic herbal ingredients perhaps than any other cosmetic and personal care product company.

If you’ve never tried Aubrey products for you or your children, I would urge you to do so. Start with their shampoos, conditioners and hand and body lotions; be sure to use their kids’ liquid bath soap for your little ones. Their most famous lines are based on Rosa Mosqueta® rose hip seed oil, Matcha green tea and sea buckthorn—but that’s just the beginning of what they offer. We love their green tea–based sunscreens. In our home we also use their wonderful nontoxic cleaning products.

Thanks to aggressive investigative reporting, people are waking up to the fact that so many cosmetic and personal care product manufacturers are ripping off consumers and producing dangerous products.

But thanks to companies like Aubrey Organics, we can make a choice that speaks volumes not only to our health but to the health of our children—and to reducing our nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Isn’t it comforting to know that along with eschewing paraben preservatives, phthalates, formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, Aubrey Organics is fighting for your health and your future on all fronts?

Aubrey Organics cosmetics and personal care products are available at health food stores and natural health centers nationwide. To find a location in your community, call Aubrey Organics toll-free at (800) AUBREY-H (800-282-7394) or visit their website at www.aubrey-organics.com. and use their store locator service.

David Steinman