is your organic produce being sprayed with antibiotics?
reculturing - 7 recommendations for improving your microbiome... (hint, get dirty)
To supplement my pastured chickens with fresh greens during Arizona’s long, dry spring season when pastures are dormant, I dumpster dive. After several decades of doing so I’ve come across many unusual things in the dumpsters behind grocery stores. I recently came across something I’d never seen before, an empty 2.5 gallon jug of hypochlorous acid (.45%) made by Chemstar Corporation. On the label, under the name ProduceMaxx, in bold black letters it says “Produce Quality Treatment Solution”. Under that, in bold green letters it says, “Antimicrobial Fruit and Vegetable Wash”. Under that, the label has large warning label; “Keep Out of the Reach of Children”. Under that, in large type is the word “Caution”, followed by a list of first aid instructions. The rest of the rather wordy label is mostly devoted to the hazards the product poses to humans and domestic animals, directions for use, and proper disposal instructions.
Clearly this is not a product any of us would want to have sprayed on our organic food. Yet, this product is commonly sprayed on organic produce by the misting systems that grocery stores use to help keep produce fresh. Like many of you, I have, on numerous occasions, been doused by those misting systems while reaching to grab some vegetables from the organic produce displays.
And no, those misting systems are typically not segregated. In other words, the organic produce section can be on the same misting line as the non-organic section. This means it’s all getting sprayed equally with hypochlorous acid. In short, your promise of getting an organic food product has now been negated by this process. USDA organic guidelines are very clear that the use of antibiotics are not permitted on food products that are to be certified as “organic”. Yes, organic farmers can use antibiotics to treat livestock, but those livestock must be withheld from production for a period of time (dairy animals are a good example) until the antibiotics have had time to clear the animals system. In the case of vegetables in the produce section, I’ve often - unkowningly - taken produce that was dripping wet with contaminated misting water and preserved that water by dropping it right into a produce bag. That contaminated produce may get eaten in a salad within minutes of getting home from the store.
So how do grocery stores get away with spraying antibiotics on organic food? Honestly, I don’t know, but here is what I suspect. Unlike organic farmers, grocery stores are not required to be inspected by organic certifiers to sell organic produce. However, produce sections in grocery stores can achieve organic certification, but few do so, perhaps becaue they want to run atibitocs through thier misting systems. Natural Gorcers, one of the stores where I get waste produce from, has a certified organic produce department, which means they do not use antibiotic laden misting systems. They are the only retail chain I know of that has a certified organic produce department. When I asked the produce manger at another well known, large retail chain grocery store that likes to portray itself as green and organic (in truth it’s only about 40% organic) if they used this type of product, he gave me a shocked look and asked, “How do you know about that?” After recovering he admitted they use it, but that the public was not supposed to know. He implored me to not tell anyone. Uhmm… I don’t think so.
In addition to promoting the use of their product in misting systems, on their website (https://chemstarcorp.com/produce/) Chemstar also promotes the use of this product to rinse fresh cut fruit and vegetables to “reduce(s) spoilage” and “extend the code date”. I don’t know about you, but part of the reason why I buy organic produce is because I want something that’s going to be able to go through the natural process of fermentation, not something thats been sprayed with antibiotics that prevent that natural process from occurring. The fermentation of something like kimchi, pickles or sauerkraut depends largely on the complex microbial community that naturally exists on the surface of organically grown produce. If that community is destroyed by antibiotcs, then fermentation becomes much more difficult. This also occurs in our guts when we use antibiotics - friendly gut bacteria (probiotics) get wiped out which can lead to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), leaky gut and SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth - bad guys overwhelming the good guys due to the imbalance created by the antibiotic).
Previously I told the story of my second pharmaceutically induced brush with death.
It took about 10 years but by 2011 I felt like I was finally getting my gut microbiome back up to snuff. Then I had a farm accident and shattered the patella in my left knee. While in the hospital for reconstructive surgery for two days, I was on a drip containing antibiotics. I didn’t have a bowel movement for 4 days after getting out of the hospital. My gut had once again been devastated by antibiotics. I’m still recovering from that episode.
Because the medical establishment works hand in hand with the pharmaceutical industry to peddle these toxic snake oils, I’ve found the medical cartels to be more of a hindrance than a help. They seem more like a medical mafia than healers. And that’s not just me talking. Modern medicine is now the third leading cause of death in the US. Yup, they have quite the scam going; keep everyone sick and coming back for more doctors appointments and drugs. When was the last time your doctor ever talked about healing the underlying cause of your illness? Likely never. Instead, they give your illness a name and with that name comes a protocol of drugs that often do nothing but serve as band aids to suppress symptoms, while doing nothing to heal the underlying issue. Remember, if they heal you they lose a customer. How many people do you know that have been on drugs for years or even decades? I’m 67 so practically everyone I know falls into that category. I take none, never have, never will.
It then comes as no surprise that chronic illness is at an all time high, with about 60% of Americans suffering from some form of it. Given that these types of preexisting conditons are the primary cause of death from COVID-19, this goes a long way towards explaining why the US, which represents only 4% of the worlds population, has nearly 25% of COVID-19 deaths. The medical cartels have led us astray. Indeed, it almost seems like a purposful eugenics program. We need to get back to a natural form of medicine, one that embraces the natural patterns of life, not one that depends on a combative, whack-a-mole program. The latter is what is being imposed upon us with this pandemic and its vaccines.
Researching gut issues over the last 33 years and learning how to replenish my gut microbiome has been a huge learning curve. Some early doors were opened to me decades ago when a farm intern gave me a copy of Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions” (thanks Trilby!), which has an extensive section on fermented foods. That book inspired many others to write about their own battles with the medical mafia and how they overcame their health issues by bypassing that mafia and doing their own nutritional research. Collectively, these folks are often referred to as wounded healers.
In more recent years, research into the critical roles our microbiome plays in keeping us mentally and physically healthy has been growing by leaps and bounds. While the official number of microbes living in and on our bodies is currently under debate, we know that when fungi, viruses and archaea are included with bacteria, it’s been estimated that there are more microbes then cells in our body. From a genetic perspective, that means most of our DNA is not human. As Dr Tom O’Brian likes to say, “We are microbes having a human experience”. This may also help explain why the new mRNA vaccines are essentially impotent. Even Phizer and Moderna have stated that thier vaccine will not prevent one from getting SARS CoV-2, that they only lessen the symptoms of COVID-19(1,2).
Sadly, the COVID-19 scamdemic has been a major blow to this gain in knowledge and consciousness about how our bodies work. The consensus had been shifting away from the primitive, allopathic (kill everything) form of medicine practiced for the past 100 years, towards a life affirming, microbiotic approach. Alas, thanks to the scamdemic, we are now in medical retrograde and the eugenics program is back in full swing.
The common ground found in the links provided at the end of this article point to the fact that we no longer spend enough time... on the ground. We need to reconnect to the earth - literally. We live in high rise buildings, we wear shoes, some people spend lifetimes walking on pavement, we drive cars or ride mass transit; all of which keeps us from connecting to our mother - the place from whence we arose and the place to which we will return - the source of our microbiome… the soil beneath our feet. Our homes, our bodies and our food are all far too clean. We all need to be spending more time playing in the dirt with our kids, or playing with our cats and dogs in the yard or, best of all, getting dirty growing an organic garden and eating the unwashed produce it provides. Many of the naturally occurring microbes that exist on organic produce are the same ones that our gut needs to make use of the nutrients in that food. Washing them with antibiotics is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Antibiotic use is now so rampant that many pathogens are becoming resistant to them. Hospitals are facing a crises because antibiotics are losing their effectiveness. My oldest brother suffered from a very virulent antibiotic resistant strain of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). At one point the doctors were about to take off his arm to save his life.
Thanks to the misguided war on germs and other pests over the past 75 years - toxins being sprayed in our cities, in our homes and on our farms - our collective microbiome is a wreck. The same toxins used to kill insects and weeds on food crops also kills the beneficial microbes in and on our bodies. True, there are some bad bugs out there, but as long as we have far more good ones than bad ones, the good ones will keep the bad ones in check. The problem is, the use of pesticides and antibiotics are not discriminatory, they kill good ones right along with the bad ones, and the bad ones tend to recover more quickly to cause us harm.
The reason why so many food poisoning cases from salmonella and other pathogens have been occurring in recent years likely has more to do with weakened immune systems than contaminated food. Todays kids are especially susceptible. They’re often raised in overly sanitary houses, taught to use antibiotic soap, provided food sprayed with pesticides and antibiotics (especialy in the public school system), all of which can compromise a child's immune system. Given that much of our immune system is determined by the quality of our microbiome, it becomes apparent that antibiotics are a huge problem. Kids that spend a lot of time outside barefoot, have pets or livestock or tend gardens and grow up eating nothing but organic food, will have a much greater chance of being completely unaffected by eating food contaminated with salmonella or some other bad bug.
In some ways developing IBS has proven to be a godsend. It’s taught me the importance of doing everything I can to nourish my microbiome - to the point that much of my lifestyle is built around the theme of building up my microbiome. Here is a snapshot of my protocol:
1) Interactions with my livestock keeps me in contact with all sorts of microbes every day. Much of this gets tracked into my house…
2) Gardening without gloves has me in direct contact with the soil.
3) Going barefoot on the farm as much as possible throughout the year not only brings me into contact with countless microbes, I also gain the benefit of grounding, also known as earthing (the topic of another blog).
4) I crack unwashed, raw eggs from my chickens right into my smoothies. I’d be careful about doing this with commerial organic eggs, but I wouldnt hestiate to do it with pastured eggs from a familiar, local producer.
5) Eat raw vegetables right from garden without washing them.
6) About 5 years ago I stopped using soap on my hands and in the shower. So far no one has said anything. I do shampoo my hair and beard about once a week.
7) I also eat a lot of homemade fermented foods; jun made from local honey, sauerkraut made from home grown cabbage, kefir made from local goats milk, fermented cactus juice made from the tunas of wild cactus fruit growing here on my farm, dried fruit stored (fermented) in kefir for several months at room temprerature. Soon I’ll be making the premier fermented native American drink known as pulque, from my agave heurta.
What has the result been? My gut issues have improved dramatically. My life long problem with acne has vanished. My tendency to suffer from stomach flu for the first three decades of my life has disappeared. My energy issues have improved. I sleep better. I have more stamina.
Microbes are our friends. To get our health and the health of our society back, we need to leave behind the syphilized world of vaccines and allopathic medicine and reconnect with the natural rhythm of the microbial world and our immune systems. I call this reculturing - whether it’s making your own fermented foods, growing.an organic garden, using less soap or just getting dirty. If done on a grand scale, our greater culture will be the healthier for it.
You can start by asking your grocery store if they’re spraying antibiotics on your organic produce.