At the early age of 28, boy wonder Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977) “came out of no where” and was appointed dean of Yale Law School in 1927. At Yale, he became one of the primary […]
By Anna Von Reitz
Nuclear weapons are obsolete. They have been obsolete for decades. They are sitting around in rusting towers all over this planet connected by MS-DOS software that was in use thirty years ago.
By Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin
With editing support from Ronnie Cummins
The chicks have arrived! A 6 a.m. phone call from the Northfield, Minnesota, post office alerted Eric Foster and others at the Main Street Project1 to the arrival of the first training flock of 2018. A new cohort of aspiring Latino farmers from the south-central region of Minnesota were about to start their poultry-centered regenerative agriculture training.
Their mission? To become part of a southeastern Minnesota cluster of farms designed to change the way poultry is produced in Minnesota and beyond, by joining dozens of other families in the region who have received similar training from Northfield-based Main Street Project.
Why Do We Need to Change How Poultry Is Produced?
The current poultry-production system has failed ecologically, economically and socially. It has caused ecological destruction, displacement of rural people and destroyed ancient resilient and healthy food security systems for communities worldwide. It has loaded animal production with pharmaceuticals, then hidden this information from consumers. The system has also built a massive global exploitative infrastructure that cheats farmers and consumers.
Today’s system never intended to deliver solutions. It was designed and structured to be extractive, degenerative and profit-driven. Through massive, well-funded campaigns, today’s poultry producers create the illusion that they can deliver large amounts of healthy food at very low prices. But the true cost of industrial food is hidden behind the convoluted systems the industry has created.
Some of those costs are obvious, yet we have no legal recourse to demand payment. Who pays for the ever-expanding list of food-related diseases? Or water contamination? Who pays the social cost of pushing food and agriculture workers into poverty?2
The Real Cost of Cheap Food
Consumers pay the real cost of our food through a vast array of channels that have become untraceable, from our taxes that primarily subsidize a handful of large corporations through the Farm Bill — a cyclical federal agricultural subsidy program — to the public subsidies, volunteers and local taxes that go to clean up rivers, lakes and even oceans polluted in the name of feeding the world.
Some of this cost materializes when residents of cities where agriculture runoff has now impaired drinking water3 are taxed to pay for the cleanup of toxic levels of nitrates and other agricultural chemicals.4
We need to change the system: It is not in its DNA to change itself. We, the billions of small farmers, consumers, scientists and students, need to reclaim control of our food production and redeploy under a regenerative design. In my book, “In the Shadow of Green Man,”5 I describe the life experiences and pathways that led me to this work and to this point in my life.
In this autobiographical book, I lay the foundation for why we need to fight for large-scale change, and why we should always look with distrust at anyone or any structure that seeks to degenerate the foundation of our well-being through our food, the most sacred foundation of nutrition, health and well-being.
Before publishing “In the Shadow of Green Man,” I did an interview with Dr. Mercola, where I laid out the principles for how we are redesigning a new poultry system. Our design process takes us back to the source of how nature provides a magnificent blueprint for energy transformation processes that deliver food out of air and soil.
Defining a Regenerative System
A regenerative system is one that can continually recirculate the natural energy from the soil and air to deliver not only a healthy environment, but also healthy foods, fiber and other vital outcomes of a regenerating landscape. Livestock on the landscape is critical to this process. And when it comes to livestock, chicken reigns supreme.
Poultry production offers the shortest economic cycle and lowest up-front investment cost. It is the only livestock that is accepted culturally in every region of the world. It is a healthy protein source and is easily scalable. If we design a system according to the chicken’s natural jungle environment, poultry can also serve as the foundation for a massive new agroecological and agroforestry model, capable of reforesting and restoring large amounts of conventionally farmed and degenerated landscapes.
We looked at the chicken’s original natural environmental blueprint6 in the jungles of southeast Asia and followed it across the world. The ancestors of the modern chicken (Gallus gallus, aka red jungle fowl)7 have adapted to most ecological condition. Like most other animals, chickens were never meant to be confined indoors — and they don’t have to be.
The only reason to confine animals is for ownership and control and to maximize profits. The industry did this, whether intentionally or not, at the expense of the welfare of the animals, the health of consumers, the environment, farmers and workers.
As a child, I watched a big fight roar around us as the Guatemalan civil war carried on. That was the Guatemalans’ way of attempting to remove from power the oligarchs and their army that ruled and controlled the land, under a system based on extraction, exploitation and abuse. As a child within this environment, my stories8 were defined by poverty and hunger and the need for more food. My understanding of its value and our right to it grew out of that environment, as did my desire to work for this inalienable right.
Today, as I hear Native American elders talk about food sovereignty as one challenge to their freedom, it confirms my decision to spend the rest of my life dedicated to this fight. One freedom that should not be compromised is the freedom to collectively own and control our food and agriculture system. Today we have a new plan, and as you may have guessed, it starts with a chicken-led revolution.
Starting From the Bottom Up
At Main Street Project, the focus on Latino families as a strategic starting point for launching regenerative poultry and grain systems was not coincidental.9 It became key to our strategy for movement building and market development. It was important to start with the natural geo-evolutionary blueprint of the chicken. But it was equally important that the starting point take into consideration the natural ability of immigrant farmers, especially Latinos, as a social impact foundation of our theory of change.
Each production unit that now serves as the foundation of this system was designed from the perspective of an aspiring immigrant or low-income farmer. We believed that by taking this approach, we would make the system structurally compatible with any farmer in the world and especially in the U.S.
The key was to design the production unit as simple and as complete as possible so that any farmer could start, grow and scale production systemically under a controlled and managed process. To analyze existing ideas, we developed a set of core principles, criteria, indicators and verifiers that guided the discovery of what others were doing, while also guiding our own design process.
Establishing the Foundation of the Poultry-Centered Regenerative Design
To design, you need a standard. But to get to a standard, you first need to know the departing and destination points. From the beginning, in 2007, we were clear on two things. First, we were going to design from the perspective of nature to the extent that we could decipher it. Second, we wanted to design with people in mind: consumers, farmers and farmworkers as the primary beneficiaries of the system.
If we did these two things right, we would get the farm economics right. Contrary to what some believe, we don’t get regenerative farming right by getting the economics right. As Charles Walters of Acres U.S.A. said in 1970, “To be economical agriculture must be ecological.”
Following this logic, we used our system-level principles, criteria, indicators and verifiers to organize an ecological, economic and social high impact design framework. The production unit details result from this process and give the farmer a concrete project-level engagement platform.
We base the farm-level strategy on the number of production units a farmer wants to deploy on his farm. A region of farm clusters within a state serves as the foundation for building support infrastructure such as processing facilities, value-added products and distribution. Clusters linked and structured within a larger multistate regional strategy anchor the building of industry-level infrastructure such as trade, commerce, financing and governance.
We don’t create the process by which one organizes an industry; we simply weave our system into existing and known processes, with the proper adaptations, to lead to our own predefined destination — a regenerative agriculture and food industry. Critical to this process is the fact that a farm is not a system.
A farm is a project that if properly designed and aligned, can become part of a system design. For this to happen, the farm must meet a set of standardized practices, procedures, accountability, scientific protocols and measurable outcomes. It must consistently produce a predictable scalable output (food or raw material product) no matter where it is located. Then, production can be aggregated with other producers and form the basis for a system design.
The Poultry-Centered Regenerative System Standard
Our standard fully integrates the environment for the chicken, the social foundation for the system deployment and the economics of farming and food industry management. Starting with nature’s blueprint, we weave the economic and social together to build a framework that delivers an integrated standard.
By design, our poultry production model breaks out of the traditional mold of the fossil-based industrial revolution that delivered us the current system. We have created a blueprint for a broad and synchronized model that can integrate fully with the new “internet of things” revolution.
Similarly, global trends are rapidly coming to life as a “third industrial revolution”10 emerges out of Europe and China. What this does is link the ecosystems benefits while integrating tracking and management technology that can aggregate ecological, social and economic data at virtually no aggregated costs to the system. This delivers a fully transparent system that consumers, farmers and everyone else can access.
The Production Unit
A production unit (PU) represents a snapshot of the system at a point where the farmer can make basic economic and social sense of what he/she is about to deploy. Ecologically, the PU allows the farmer to calculate the inflow of energy into the production process in the form of feed, grain and other inputs, and the amount of outflow of energy in the form of eggs, meat, nuts and fruits.
This forms the foundation for business planning at all levels. The PU comprises a shelter, two fenced-in paddocks, perennial and annual crops and other common poultry-related infrastructure to manage feed and watering. The paddocks are designed to vertically integrate as much production as possible while providing a multitude of other benefits that will be outlined later.
The PU is critical when calculating ecological impact. Anything that goes through the production process can be measured across the board no matter if a PU is in Minnesota, Mexico or Guatemala — wherever operations are already underway and the PU design has undergone full adaptation to those specific ecological, economic and social conditions. The cornerstones of the PU are the:
- Shelter — primarily protects the chickens during the night and during inclement weather
- Paddocks — provide ranging area
- Protective perennial and annual canopy11 — directly defines the distance the chickens roam from their shelter and creates the foundation for management of chicken behavior. This includes stress management, ranging distance and temperature to name a few
- Sprouting systems — probably the most important of all, given that the cost of raising a pound of meat or a dozen eggs is significant (upward of 70 percent of the total cost)
How Cheap Grain Has Influenced America’s Food System
To understand this last point properly, it is important to clarify the role of cheap grain in the takeover of America’s food system. Taxpayer-subsidized grain production — mostly corn and soybeans — keep feed grain prices low for conventional farms.
The “external costs” are passed on to future generations in the form of degenerated landscapes, polluted groundwater systems and health issues related to the use of toxic chemicals. Taxpayers foot the bill under a system that transfers all the costs to society, and all the benefits to industry.
As for farmers, today’s farm bill subsidies12 don’t really help farmers. Instead, they represent the systematically structured flow of public funding that primarily enriches agribusiness disguised as a public benefit. Farmers across the country are left holding the risky part of the farm industry. According to Christopher Leonard, author of “The Meat Racket,”13 only about 5 cents of the price a consumer pays at the store for a pound of chicken ends up reaching the farmer.
The rest stays in the industrial chain. From that meager operating income, the farmer has to pay for the full cost of production such as their own salaries, farm labor, the interest to the bank, and building improvements and fixes — some of them mandated by the industry. This system effectively creates a firewall so no one can accuse a corporation of getting direct payments from the government.
Shifting the process by how grain is turned into eggs or meat, how farmers, farm and food-chain workers benefit from the system is critical to redesigning any sector of the food industry. Along with proper engineering and careful integration of natural efficiencies, we can deliver a blueprint for a different way of producing poultry that can be standardized and replicated, and that is fully adaptable to the regenerative nature of different ecologies, cultures and economic landscapes.
The Importance of Protective Canopy When Raising Free-Range Chickens
Each PU we design, and the standard that goes with it, has been carefully structured to deliver ecological, economic and social returns on investment. It is from that position of strength, transparency and integrity that we plan to launch a “chicken revolution” as our Guatemalan counterparts have renamed this idea.
Chickens are extremely responsive to and aware of their environment. As we fine-tuned the production unit’s management process, we learned that the canopy was not only essential for them to relax and roam most of the day outside, but also to protect them from aerial predators. The canopy also cools the soil by blocking the sun, which increases the relative humidity.
When all of these conditions are added up, the result is a perfect environment for large-scale natural sprouting of grain exactly where the chickens want it. Not only did we find ways to scale that source of food, but the chickens also supplement their diet more significantly by taking in more biomass, nutrients and water volume from sprouts, thus reducing the extra feed that they need when free-ranging.
By eliminating the need for industrial GMO grain production, this system not only reduces pollution, but actually mitigates it. The trees’ uptake of nutrients from the soil reduces and eventually eliminates pollution of water, soil and air. Trees also add value by helping to reverse climate change. The chemicals they emit into the atmosphere help stabilize rain patterns. In addition, trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere and produce oxygen, fiber, fruits, nuts and many other foods and ecological benefits.
A Return to Slow-Growth Poultry Breeds
For meat bird PUs, we selected slow-growth breeds that range well rather than the genetically degenerated industrial chickens. The industrial meat bird has lost its ability to properly range and live a healthy natural life. These birds are bred for confinement. Their body proportions and the way their organs develop make them unfit for free-ranging systems.
They have an incredible capacity to gain weight and with it, the need for a sedentary confined life. All of these characteristics are counter to the foundational principles and concept of regenerative agriculture.
In our system, the maximum stock density per PU for broilers is 2 square feet per bird. No more than 1,500 birds are permitted in each building. In northern cold climates, up to three slow-growth flocks (harvested at 70 days on average) can be raised delivering a total of around 4,500 birds per PU. For the Midwest ecology (different outdoor spacing and density is required for different ecologies), each bird must be allowed at least 42 square feet of ranging space or a total of 21 square feet per paddock.
In general, the unit must be laid out so that the farther corners are not further than 200 feet from the shelter’s exit doors. Ranging paddocks with perimeter fences farther than that will require more weed control, and birds will exceed the expected use of the areas closer to the shelter. Feed is not allowed indoors except during their four-week brooding period and during inclement weather. The rest of the time, feeders are fanned out farther and farther from the building to encourage ranging.
For egg layers, the PU consists of 3 acres of ranging area divided into two paddocks. Shelter requirement is set at a minimum of 1.8 square feet per bird. Maximum flock size is 3,000 hens. Shelter must be equipped with perches and other related infrastructure that is spelled out in the production manual provided to farmers after they complete their training.
A Farmer’s Cluster
With the PU defined, farms can be designed and other parts of the system integrated. First comes poultry processing or egg processing, then value-added processing and then distribution. In most of the country, there are no small custom processors that can handle more than a few thousand chickens a day.
Most of the processing infrastructure in the country is owned and controlled by the industrial system and unavailable to serve alternative systems. The need to plan clusters of farmers instead of single-farm operations emanates from these challenges.
Compared with a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), one of our clusters represents a small number of animals. Unfortunately, the weakest link defines the strength of the whole chain, and so it is with food chain design. In the case of our regenerative poultry and grain system, the weakest link is processing.
Under the current system, it is impossible to dream of setting up a large-scale poultry processing facility. However, it is possible to design a starting point that allows for a group to focus their energy on this area for each farm cluster.
Taking the System to Scale
As we approach the 2018 growing season, we sit on a significant number of accomplishments. We moved from prototyping and proof-of-concept to the launch of the Main Street Project’s central farm14 out of Northfield. This farm will train and develop the capacity of a new generation of farmers throughout the Midwest with a focus on training the first farmer cluster in Southeast Minnesota.
Another important achievement we are ushering in this year is the launch of Regeneration Farms,15 the first commercial farm utilizing the system.
But we still face some challenges when it comes to scaling up the system. To scale means more than to deploy a regional cluster of farmers. We can’t just assume what scale in the poultry industry is — it has to be studied, measured and defined. The magnitude of each little detail in the industrial poultry system is simply breathtaking, from how many tens of thousands of birds are confined in a building to the millions of egg layers that go into a single caged egg production facility.
We studied this model and came to the realization that in order to scale up, we also need to organize at scale. Back in 2015, I became a founding member of Regeneration International,16 a global network of scientists, farmers, business leaders and grassroots organizations that also saw the need to organize at scale with an industry redesign at the center of their thinking.
Late October 2017, and throughout the first quarter of 2018, in partnership with these new organizations, we started organizing Regeneration Midwest.17 The operating goal of this initiative is to organize a 12-state coalition to bring together a regenerative agriculture industry leadership team. This team will then set forth the direction and assemble the infrastructure to bring regenerative agriculture to scale in the Midwest.
To accomplish its purpose, Regeneration Midwest will seek to move resources and acquire market presence at a scale sufficient to unleash not only a Southeast Minnesota farmers cluster, but a multitude of clusters networked and supported across the 12 Midwest states. The blueprint for each of these clusters is the same, and the only limit is the market and the combined ability to expand, capture and sustain it.
The Regeneration Midwest platform also brings together other regenerative agriculture sectors and combines them for a higher impact across the region. Within the Regeneration Midwest organizational structure, a larger team has been engaged to organize and deploy regeneration chapters in each state. From this effort, we are now engaging farmers in Nebraska,18 Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Other states are also in process of organizing and consolidating their state-based coalitions.
Our current estimates are that with at least one farmers cluster per state, and 250 meat chicken production units per cluster, we can reshape the flow of around $450 million of poultry-centered commerce. To this plan, we would aggregate the economic impact brought about through grain production and the integration of other regenerative sectors such as grass fed cattle, pork and turkey.
How You Can Participate in Building a Regenerative Agriculture System
You can help us finance the people19 working to organize this system by making sure you know your farmer, know your food and “vote with your fork.” Consumer choice is the foundation of the path to a better system. No matter where our compass places us, we need to start investing our daily food dollars, our retirement funds, our school, university and hospital budgets in a different system.
Every year, farmers are joining the regenerative movement because consumers choose to support them. Some start by buying from their local Community Supported Agriculture programs, farmers markets and the like. Others start urban gardens, or switch to organic foods, or become members of a food cooperative.
For farmers who want to join the system or nonprofits willing to engage in state-level organizing within the Midwest states, please reach out to the organizers of Regeneration Midwest by emailing Info@regenerationinternational.org. You can support Regeneration Midwest by making a tax-deductible donation to Regeneration International.
About the Authors:
Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is chief strategy officer at Main Street Project and founding member of Regeneration International. Ronnie Cummins is board chair of Regeneration International and international director of the Organic Consumers Association.
By Dr. Mercola
Mice are often viewed as more of a nuisance than a health threat, but mice taking up residence in New York City are teeming with pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could endanger human lives. The finding comes from two recent studies by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, raising concerns of whether the mice pathogens, including the resistant varieties, could be spreading to humans.
Mice are commonly found living in close proximity to humans, with more than 80 percent of U.S. homes carrying detectable levels of mouse allergens.1 Meanwhile, in urban areas like Philadelphia, Boston and the Big Apple, more than 15 percent of households in such cities report evidence of mice or rats.2 Yet, while it’s known that house mice thrive in areas densely populated with humans, it’s been largely unknown whether they’re silently contributing pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the environment.
New York Mice Are Reservoirs of Disease-Causing Microbes
In the first of two studies published in the journal mBio, researchers surveyed mice from seven neighborhoods across New York City,3 including wealthy and low-income areas. More than 400 mice were trapped over a period of 13 months, 3 to 14 percent of which were carriers of gastrointestinal disease-causing agents, including the following:
- Shigella: This group of bacteria can cause shigellosis, an infectious disease that leads to diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.
- Salmonella: Bacteria that can cause salmonellosis infection, which causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, salmonella can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and throughout the body, which can be fatal. It’s estimated that salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the U.S. annually.4
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff.): C. diff. has become a common reason why hospital patients develop debilitating, recurrent diarrhea that’s hard to resolve, medically. It’s especially rampant among older individuals on antibiotics for other conditions. Mice were found to harbor types of C. diff associated with human disease.
- Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (E. coli): While some strains of E. coli are harmless, diarrheagenic E. coli cause watery or bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Genes known to mediate antimicrobial resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin), were reportedly “widely distributed” in the mice, as were genes mediating resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, which include penicillins, cephalosporins and others.
Further, when the researchers screened kidney samples from the mice, they found genetic evidence of pathogenic leptospira bacteria, which can lead to leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress and death.
Dr. Dimitri Drekonja, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay News, “It’s not terribly surprising that house mice would have these bacteria in and on them, when you consider where mice spend their time … And if you did the same analysis of house flies, you’d probably see this, too.”5
Dozens of Viruses, Including Six ‘New’ Viruses, Also Common in House Mice
For the second study, mice were trapped in multiple New York City locations over a one-year period and their feces were tested for viral diversity. Thirty-six viruses spanning 18 families were revealed, including at least six “novel” viruses.6 While none of the viruses were known to infect humans, some of them could cause disease in dogs, chickens and pigs. Whether those viruses could ultimately mutate into strains that could then infect humans is unknown.
“Thus, mice could be serving as little Ubers or Lyfts for viruses between species. And since viruses can mutate, mice could possibly carry viruses that infect humans, if not now, maybe some time in the near future,” Forbes reported.7 The researchers also detected viruses that were not previously associated with house mice and, worth noting, heavier mice seemed to carry a higher number of viruses.
Mice, in particular, may pose an increased risk to humans because they’re known to live inside people’s homes, invading their kitchens and easily contaminating their indoor spaces. “If I had mice in my apartment,” said senior researcher Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, in New York City, “I’d take it seriously.”8
Experts believe similar pathogens are likely to be found in mice in other urban areas, while country mice may harbor pathogens closer linked to wild animals or possibly livestock, although this is an area that needs further research.
As for where the mice may be acquiring antibiotic resistance, this too is unknown, but it’s possible they could be exposed via human waste in sewer systems.9 The researchers of the featured studies next plan to see if there’s any connection between mice exposure and outbreaks of bacterial infections in humans.
Have You Heard of Hantavirus?
In the last 25 years, more than 700 laboratory-confirmed cases of hantavirus have been reported. This group of viruses is carried by the deer mouse, white-footed mouse, cotton rat and rice rat, and can cause a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). While symptoms initially begin with fatigue, fever and muscle aches, it progresses to shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid. In 38 percent of cases, HPS is fatal.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Recent research results show that many people who became ill with HPS developed the disease after having been in frequent contact with rodents and/or their droppings around a home or a workplace.
On the other hand, many people who became ill reported that they had not seen rodents or rodent droppings at all. Therefore, if you live in an area where the carrier rodents are known to live, try to keep your home, vacation place, workplace or campsite clean.”10
While you may be tempted to sweep or vacuum up mouse droppings, this is not recommended, as it increases the likelihood of stirring up dust carrying the virus particles into the air, where they can be easily inhaled. Instead, any areas with known mice droppings, urine or nesting materials should be sprayed with a mixture of bleach and water, left to sit for five minutes and then disposed of in the garbage.
Antibiotic-Resistance Is Known to Spread From Animals to People and Via the Air
While it hasn’t been shown that antibiotic-resistant disease in mice can be transferred to humans, it’s concerning to detect yet another potential reservoir. Further, just as hantavirus is easily transmitted by stirring up infected dust, antibiotic-resistant disease is also known to go airborne.
For instance, research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases revealed that current workers at pig farms are six times more likely to carry multidrug resistant methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) than those without exposure to CAFO pigs.11 They also observed active infections caused by livestock-associated Staphylococcus aureus (LA-SA). Worse still, aerosolized MRSA has been detected in the air inside and downwind of a pig CAFO, as well as in animal feed.12
Scientific American also reported, “Recent research shows that segments of DNA conferring drug resistance can jump between different species and strains of bacteria with disturbing ease, an alarming discovery. By simply driving behind chicken transport trucks, scientists collected drug-resistant microbes from the air within their cars.”13,14
Further, it’s commonly believed that antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread less easily than regular bacteria and become, in some ways, “less fit.” Research shows, however, that mice infected with antibiotic-resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, bacteria that cause lung infections, were more likely to die than those infected with nonresistant strains.15
The resistant bacteria were also better at killing certain immune cells, which suggests they may be more virulent and “fitter” than nonresistant varieties. Similar results were found with two other strains of bacteria, leading the researchers to suggest:16
“A potentially overlooked consequence of the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance could be enhanced fitness and virulence of pathogens … [this] raises a serious concern that drug-resistant strains might be better fit to cause serious, more difficult to treat infections, beyond just the issues raised by the complexity of antibiotic treatment.”
How to Keep Mice Out of Your Home
It’s possible to have rodents in your home even if you’ve never seen one. If you’ve spotted droppings or heard scurrying in your walls, these are common signs of rodents. To keep mice from taking up residence in your home, first seal up holes on both the inside and outside of your home to keep mice out.
“Fill small holes with steel wool. Put caulk around the steel wool to keep it in place. Use lath screen or lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting to fix large holes. These materials can be found at your local hardware store,” the CDC notes.17
If you know mice are in your home, traps can be used, including live traps that allow you to release mice outdoors, a good distance from your home, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution you should also make your home and surroundings less hospitable to mice by:
Cleaning your yard: Remove overgrown landscaping and junk piles in your yard. By doing so, mice may be less tempted to live near your home and are less likely to enter your home. Areas you may need to address include:
Decluttering your home: Mice may be tempted to live in ideal nesting spots such as messy basements, garages, attics and closets. Declutter these areas and other locations so mice aren’t tempted to reside in them.
Clean up crumbs or food debris on surfaces and floors: When cooking, clean dirty dishes immediately instead of letting them sit out.
Store food in places unreachable to mice, such as the refrigerator or inside containers made of glass or very sturdy plastic, which they can’t nibble through. If you have pets, only serve the amount of food the animal can finish in one sitting, so mice aren’t tempted to eat their leftovers.
Block doorways or pathways that mice can enter in: These animals may enter your home through the same entrances you do. Ideally, add a door sweep or barrier to exterior doors to help keep mice away.
Pay attention to holes or cracks: If you see a mouse, pay attention to where it runs and look for possible entryways where they can pass through. Try sticking a pencil in the hole. If the pencil can fit, it’s likely that a mouse can go inside the hole.
Seal unconventional entry points: Close up holes you can see, and don’t forget about holes you have drilled. Holes around pipes or wiring tend to be overlooked, but these can act as a mouse “superhighway” system.
Inspect vents and drains in your home and ensure they’re covered with fine mesh screen. These include soffit/attic vents, ridge vents, HVAC drains/vents, dryer vents, gas vents and kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents.
Use peppermint essential oil as a mice repellent: The smell of peppermint can be overwhelming and offensive to mice. Try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to your cleansers or dab some of the oil onto cotton balls and tuck these into corners of pantry shelves to get rid of mice naturally.
Use cloves or clove essential oil as a mice repellent: Rats find the smell of cloves distasteful and overwhelming. Place 20 to 30 drops of clove essential oil onto cotton balls and place them strategically around your home.
If you’re using whole cloves, wrap these in an old piece of cotton shirt and use in place of cotton balls. Just make sure you don’t have pets wandering around that can ingest the cotton balls or clove.
Plant vegetation that small birds and animals can enjoy, and avoid leaving out store-bought foods: If you like leaving food out in your backyard for birds and other wildlife to feed on, plant vegetation instead and don’t place store-bought foods outside.
Mice and other animals are attracted to seeds and store-bought foods, especially when these are left out in your yard at night. In the long run, this may cause a mice infestation.
How to Safely Clean Up After Mice
To minimize your risk of picking up an infectious disease from mice in your home, as mentioned do not sweep up or vacuum droppings. Areas contaminated with mice droppings, urine or nesting should be sprayed with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then allowed to sit for five minutes. The area can then be cleaned up with a paper towel and disposed of in the garbage (where rubber gloves while cleaning up after any suspected mice).
Lastly, the CDC recommends disinfecting the entire area with the bleach solution, mopping floors, cleaning countertops and steam cleaning or shampooing upholstered furniture and carpets if necessary. Clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water.18 Finally, while it’s easy to panic at the thought of disease-causing mice roaming over your kitchen counters, it’s also important to keep things in perspective. As Drekonja, the infectious disease specialist, told HealthDay:19
“We live in a world of microbes, many of which are beneficial. Some, of course, are not, and people can be exposed to them in numerous ways. House mice would be just one potential route of many. That’s why we should all wash our hands regularly.”
By Dr. Mercola
In the U.S., there’s a baby born prematurely every 90 seconds.1 And despite spending more than $3 trillion on health care each year, it is the worst performing system ranked by multiple aspects of care,2 including premature births. Each year, premature births make up roughly 12 percent of U.S. births, which is the highest rate among developed countries.3
An easy-to-access and low-cost supplement — vitamin D — could drastically change the high rate of premature births in the U.S., however, even potentially closing the gap on premature birth disparities that exist between white women and African-American women.
Following the results of a landmark study, trade group the Organic & Natural Health Association (O&N) has submitted a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would allow vitamin D dietary supplements to make a health claim that they reduce the risk of premature birth.
Optimizing Vitamin D Levels Could Reduce Premature Births by 60 to 80 Percent
A collaborative study between the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and nonprofit public health research organization GrassrootsHealth revealed that vitamin D supplementation led to significant improvements in premature birth risk among pregnant women at an urban medical center.4 During the 15-month study, 1,064 pregnancies were traced, with women receiving a vitamin D (25(OH)D test during their first prenatal visit along with a follow-up test later.
The treatment goal was to optimize the women’s vitamin D levels to 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or higher, and free vitamin D supplements were offered for this purpose.
At the beginning of the study, 18 percent of single births at MUSC were premature, defined as delivery at less than 37 weeks. Over the course of the study, 13 percent of the pregnancies resulted in a premature birth. However, women with vitamin D levels of 40 ng/mL or higher were 62 percent less likely to have a premature birth than those with levels below 20 ng/mL.
The results were even more striking among women with a history of premature birth; this group was 80 percent less likely to have another premature birth when their vitamin D levels were 40 ng/mL or higher compared to those with levels below 20 ng/mL. Increasing vitamin D levels also helped with premature birth disparities among women of different race/ethnicities.
Overall, the rate of premature birth at MUSC was 10 percent for white women, 15 percent among all nonwhite women and 19 percent among African-American women.5 However, among nonwhite women whose vitamin D levels were initially below 40 ng/mL, those who raised their levels to 40 ng/mL or above had a 78 percent lower rate of premature birth than those whose levels remained below 40 ng/mL for their entire pregnancy.
Increasing Evidence Points to Importance of Vitamin D for Preventing Premature Birth
The MUSC/GrassrootsHealth study is but one of several recent studies that have highlighted vitamin D’s potential to reduce premature birth rates. In 2016, a study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology revealed that women with vitamin D levels of at least 40 ng/mL had a 57 percent lower risk of premature birth compared to those with levels of 20 ng/mL or lower.6
The study revealed that gestation week at birth rose steadily with increasing vitamin D levels until plateauing when levels reached about 40 ng/ML. In 2015, separate research revealed a 51 percent lower risk of premature birth among women with a vitamin D level of 38 ng/mL or greater compared to those with levels of 8 ng/mL or lower.7
Beyond premature birth, there are many additional reasons to optimize vitamin D levels during pregnancy. According to GrassrootsHealth, achieving a vitamin D level of 40 to 60 ng/mL during pregnancy can lead to:8
- 60 percent lower risk of premature birth in twins
- Virtually eliminated risk of pre-eclampsia
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes, bacterial vaginosis and postpartum depression
- Eliminated racial disparity of premature birth rates among African-American women and white women
There are benefits to babies, as well, including:
- 70 percent lower prevalence of common cold
- 66 percent lower prevalence of ear infections
- 62 percent lower prevalence of lung infection
- Improved language development
- Reduction in type 1 diabetes as an adult
Congress Urged to Allow Vitamin D Health Claim for Premature Birth Prevention
With the evidence mounting that optimizing vitamin D levels during pregnancy could have remarkable benefits for moms and babies, O&N turned to Congress, asking for their support of their FDA petition to allow a premature birth prevention claim for vitamin D. O&N executive director Karen Howard told Holistic Primary Care:9
“Overall, the response was highly enthusiastic. People had a good grasp of the need for vitamin D, and most had been tested, acknowledging they had been advised their levels were low and that they were using vitamin D supplements.
The statistics quickly grabbed attention in most of our meetings, with several showing amazement at the correlation between D and preterm births, and the outcomes generated from the MUSC data. We were also able to share the rate of preterm births for each state, bringing our message home quickly.”
O&N has urged members of Congress to send letters of support for the petition to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, with Howard noting that some Congress members were immediately enthusiastic:10
“From these conversations we’ve begun to organize outreach to state delegations and other groups that could be logical allies. Needless to say, because of the research efforts by the Medical University of South Carolina, the SC delegation was particularly interested. Several agreed on the spot to send a letter to FDA.”
Monitoring Vitamin D Levels Should Be Standard of Care During Pregnancy
Based on their research, MUSC has already changed its standard of care for pregnant women to include routine monitoring of vitamin D levels. The hope is that if the FDA approves the vitamin D health claim, it would pave the way for women to become aware of the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy and make routine monitoring commonplace.
GrassrootsHeallth believes a new standard of care should be implemented for pregnant women that involves vitamin D testing three times during pregnancy and maintaining blood levels of 40 to 60 ng/mL.
Although such testing is not yet widespread, you can request a vitamin D blood test from your health care provider or enroll in GrassrootsHealth’s Protect Our Children NOW! project, which seeks to resolve vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and children, and raise global awareness about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency.
The project was initiated by Carole Baggerly of GrassrootsHealth in 2015 and has a panel of 42 vitamin D researchers that provide scientific advice. If you are 12 to 17 weeks pregnant, at least 18 years of age and currently reside in the U.S., this fully sponsored study is available at no cost to you. Participation in the program includes:
- Free vitamin D blood tests, which you can do from the comfort of your own home
- Your and your newborn’s new questionnaire entries
- Reporting of results directly to you
- Free vitamin D supplements
If you are planning a pregnancy, or are more than 17 weeks pregnant, you can still take control of your and your child’s health by using the D*Action test kit. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to monitor your vitamin D status. The minimum vitamin D level you’re aiming for is 40 ng/mL, while additional research suggests a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL provides the greatest health benefits and widest protection against chronic disease.
Vitamin D Helps Prevent Chronic Disease
When you take steps to optimize your vitamin D, it’s not only your pregnancy that will benefit. For instance, vitamin D is known to be crucial in several areas of your body, as a deficiency has been implicated in such problems as macular degeneration, lupus, bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis and chronic heart failure.11 In addition, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention strategies available and can also slash your cancer risk.
Previous research found that a vitamin D level of 50 ng/mL was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.12 Further, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine reported that raising your vitamin D level to 40 ng/mL can slash your risk of all invasive cancers by 67 percent.13 Vitamin D also does wonders for your heart, as it triggers the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps control blood flow and prevent blood clot formation within your blood vessels.
Further, vitamin D significantly reduces oxidative stress in your vascular system, which can prevent the development of heart disease.14 It’s also important for your brain. In a six-year study that followed more than 1,600 people, vitamin D deficiency was associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.15
In fact, people who were severely deficient in vitamin D had a 122 percent increased risk of developing dementia, whereas those who were moderately deficient were at a 53 percent greater risk. For Alzheimer’s disease specifically, being severely vitamin D deficient was linked to a 122 percent increased risk compared to a 69 percent increase for those who were moderately deficient.16
Breastfeeding Women Need to Monitor Their Vitamin D Levels Too
After birth, most doctors tell new parents to keep their babies in the shade for the first six months and to make sure they’re covered with either clothes or sunscreen when they do go outside. As such, breastfeeding babies are dependent on their moms to get enough vitamin D, but if mom is deficient, so too will be baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfed infants be supplemented with 400 IU per day of vitamin D, but research conducted by Bruce W. Hollis and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina Pediatrics revealed that mothers supplementing with 6,400 IU per day of vitamin D would safely supply their breast milk with vitamin D to meet, if not exceed, her own and her nursing infant’s vitamin D requirements and be a safer alternative to supplementing the baby’s diet directly.17
But, as noted by GrassrootsHealth, “[I]t’s important, if depending upon breast milk, that you yourself take vitamin D every day. Just a day or two off vitamin D, and your breast milk content of vitamin D drops to very low levels.”18 When babies start life with a vitamin D deficiency, they will face probable growth, developmental and immune function challenges, not to mention an increased prevalence of disease as they get older.
GrassrootsHealth estimates that more than 80 percent of pregnant women are deficient in vitamin D, so the best time to start optimizing your levels is during pregnancy or, even better, before. Meanwhile, they recommend at least annual testing of vitamin D levels in children to be sure their levels are optimized as well.
Hopefully, the FDA will approve O&N’s petition for a vitamin D, premature birth health claim, which would be a game changer in terms of bringing this important connection to the public’s attention. In the meantime, you can take steps to optimize your vitamin D levels now, and if you want to support the petition, you can fill out this action alert to send a letter to your representatives in Washington asking for their support.
The best way to optimize your vitamin D level is through sensible sun exposure, but for many, oral supplementation will be necessary to achieve an optimal level, especially if you’re pregnant during the winter.
Remember, the only way to accurately assess your need for supplementation is to measure your vitamin D level. Also keep in mind that if you take high-dose vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2, as these four nutrients work in tandem and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly.
A recent study in the BMJ Open Journal may be the final nail in the coffin for industry-recommended treatment of high cholesterol—indeed, with the very contention that high cholesterol is a health problem at all. The study concluded the following about LDL-C (the supposed ‘bad’ cholesterol):
High LDL-C is inversely associated with mortality in most people over 60?years. This finding is inconsistent with the cholesterol hypothesis (ie, that cholesterol, particularly LDL-C, is inherently atherogenic). Since elderly people with high LDL-C live as long or longer than those with low LDL-C, our analysis provides reason to question the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis.
As noted, the study refers to claims that ‘high cholesterol causes plaque buildup in arteries (atherogenisis) that lead to an increased risk of heart disease’ as a hypothesis. One can wonder how often a doctor has told his patient “I recommend that you take Lipitor because there is an unproven hypothesis out there that says high cholesterol is bad for you?”
The insidious strategy of the pharmaceutical industry is coming more widely into view. They have millions of dollars to do research, and what do they spend those millions of dollars on? Finding ways to convince the public they need to be taking more drugs so that those millions of dollars of research lead to billions of dollars of profit.
If anyone is still under the illusion that pharmaceutical industry research has ANYTHING to do with the promotion of human health, one need only look at the voluminous statistics that in the Western world we are getting sicker in direct proportion to the increase in the consumption of pharmaceutical drugs.
This One Stuck
In the case of the risks of ‘high cholesterol,’ this is looking like one of many pieces of spaghetti that the industry has thrown against the wall that actually stuck. And boy, did they run with it. The public, it seems, was ready to buy into the ‘conceivable’ idea that as this substance called ‘cholesterol’ increases in our bodies, we are at higher risk for heart disease.
The result? The creation of cholesterol-reducing pharmaceutical drugs known as statins that have been an absolute cash cow for the industry: the cholesterol drug Lipitor has itself become the most profitable medication of all time—raking in more than $140 billion in sales.
All this without even discussing the health risks associated with statins, risks which of course are hidden by the industry. You can read more about the danger of statins here.
The complicity of doctors, some of whom act as unabashed footsoldiers of the army called Big Pharma, is an important part of the public relations side of it. Once the idea of a new form of illness takes hold in the public mind, all hands are called on deck. Natural News reported in 2013 that the push to get even more U.S. adults on statins was facilitated by doctors tied to the industry. Physicians with the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines at that time calling for one-third of all adults to consider taking statins.
More recently, the industry is redoubling its efforts to push statins on children who show signs of elevated LDL-C levels based on a host of conditions. Will this insatiable hunger on the part of the pharmaceutical industry to invade our bodies and lives with dangerous synthetic chemicals ever cease?
Cholesterol Is Actually Healthy
Again, our awareness is the key. And on this particular issue, we need to become aware that our cholesterol levels themselves are simply not to be tampered with. This article by Dr. Joseph Mercola helps us understand how essential cholesterol is not only to humans but to all life forms. It also addresses how there is not really ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Sally Fallon, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Mary Enig, Ph.D, an expert in lipid biochemistry, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a ‘problem’ that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”
Taking Back Our Power
Alluding to the recent research, Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland says, “Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life.” This is not only good advice for the elderly but for all of us.
The process by which we take our power back from those who would control our health demands our courage to be responsible for and knowledgeable about our own health and wellbeing. We have to stop blindly submitting ourselves to the recommendations of ‘experts’ who often turn out to be shills for powerful pharmaceutical corporations, and instead integrate the way we live our lives with a more natural and holistic approach to overall health and disease prevention.
This is a COMBO-post. I saw these two articles awhile back, and finally felt I was to post them both at the same time. In this case, I’m only going to post highlights from each, and links to the full articles. Fascinating reading, and another set of “point connecting” articles by Michael Salla.
Feel free to check out Dr. Salla’s latest book, “Antarctica’s Hidden History: Corporate Foundations of Secret Space Programs“.
“…QAnon is a group of U.S. military intelligence officials working with the Trump administration to expose the Deep State, and to dismantle its hold over the U.S. political system… It was this group of military intelligence officials that neutralized a number of secret Deep State efforts to stop Trump from being inaugurated after his surprise November 8, 2016 election victory.
“So who is behind the Deep State?… According to QAnon, we need to follow the money trail to begin getting answers to these questions.
“So how does the Rothschild family, along with the House of Saud and George Soros, use their enormous accumulated wealth of $7 trillion to pull the financial purse strings of politicians and national elites all over the world?… QAnon provided an answer in a December 7, 2017 post describing how the finances of the Rothschilds, Saudis (SA) and Soros are used for complementary world-wide control functions…
“The reference to the Rothschilds as “cult leaders” and exercising influence over the church is highly significant. In 1832, the Rothschild loaned money to the Vatican, which led to the Rothschilds gaining great influence over the church through its dependence on international financing…
“…the House of Saud is listed by QAnon as a puppet master, since it has accumulated enormous wealth (officially US$1.4 trillion) due to the oil reserves that it has controlled for decades in Saudi Arabia. Importantly, QAnon is telling us that the House of Saud has used its wealth to secretly control the U.S. and British political systems through campaign contributions and outright bribery.
“George Soros is best known for having successfully bet against the British Pound in 1992, and making approximately US$2 billion in the process. If Soros’ cumulative wealth, through his hedgefund is close to $1 trillion, along with secret coordination with the Rothschild and Saudi family, then it becomes easy to understand how Soros could have successfully opposed the Bank of England in his currency speculation.
“Soros, according to QAnon, is responsible for manipulating public opinion in directions favored by the Deep State. Through his Open Society Foundation, Soros has been involved in secretly funding dissidents and political opponents that have led to mass movements that have toppled many political regimes.”
“QAnon referred to a cult led by the Rothschild family which has been a critical part of this global control system. In a November 11, 2017 post, QAnon succinctly described the chief characteristics of the worldwide cult:…QAnon is telling us that the puppet masters, the Rothschilds, Saudis and Soros are Satan worshippers. At the apex of this Satanic cult are the Rothschilds…
“According to what QAnon and Deagle have revealed, it can be concluded that the role of Pindar (Satanic cult leader) had passed on from Guy to David de Rothschild, and that Alexandre is being groomed to take over the position at some point.
“QAnon refers to a temple on Epstein’s island with underground levels that the Satan worshiping Rothschilds, Saudis and Soros, along with their followers and compromised politicians, regularly visit… QAnon refers to how the Clintons were compromised by Soros, and how evil they became through their association with the Rothschilds…
“What kind of “EVIL” activities are performed Epstein’s island, the Rothschild’s Black Forrest estate, and other locations like Bohemian Grove, California?… the Saudis are in control of sex and child trafficking… young children are exploited at Satanic ceremonies held at private locations such as Bohemian Grove…
“…QAnon is signaling that President Putin is fully aware of the Satanism practiced by the puppet masters – Rothschilds, Saudis, and Soros – and that there is secret coordination between U.S. military intelligence and Putin in responding to the Deep State. This is why Russia has repeatedly stood down its military forces despite U.S. military provocations in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
“Putin is also well aware that the Deep State has been pressuring Trump from the beginning of his administration… Nevertheless, Putin/Russia and Trump/US military intelligence are coordinating to prevent any military clashes that could quickly escalate out of control due to deep state actors embedded within each of their administrations.
“…Trump and U.S. military intelligence are secretly coordinating with Putin’s Russia to deal with these multifaceted challenges.”
(Jay Syrmopoulos) Goldman Sachs, in an April report to clients, addressed an ethical conundrum facing pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in regard to futuristic cures based on cutting edge gene therapy: “one shot cures,” rather than the model of continuous treatment, could be difficult for some “medicine developers looking for a sustained cash flow.”