We often read stories about people who spend their lives pursuing a grand goal that is for the betterment of society as a whole only to die sometime before their work has reached fruition. In the case of Harvey Washington Wiley, that was not the case.
Wiley was an American Chemist with a steadfast passion to see our nation free from adulterated impure and unhealthy foods. Noted as the driving force behind the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, Wiley toiled for years trying to rid our food system of items and ingredients that were in his opinion (and the opinion of many Americans) distasteful to say the least. Some of his work helped to remove some potentially toxic chemicals such as borax from use in the food production industry. Wiley spent a large chunk of his life, some of it working for the U.S. government, trying to ensure that American citizens were not only getting the actual foods they believed they were buying (such as bread made from flour and not flour and sawdust) but food that was safe to eat and not laced with a conglomeration of ingredients that only a chemist, as Wiley was, would recognize.
To anyone who has a love for "true food", as I do, Wiley was an unsung hero. Even after being essentially forced into resigning from his position as the first commissioner of the FDA Wiley continued to spread the gospel of real and safe food through his position with the then highly regarded Good Housekeeping Institute.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was considerably watered down and the types of chemicals & foodstuffs that Wiley worked so tirelessly to prevent or remove from our food system were added and used with wild abandon almost from the time of his leaving the FDA.
Fast forward a mere 85 years and we have a food system that not only regularly utilizes many of those same chemicals but has become absolutely dependent on them. We now have a society where food chemistry is a multi billion dollar industry, food related ailments such as type two diabetes and obesity are so rampant that for the first time in history, children born after the year 2000 are expected to live shorter lives than their parents.
The story of Harvey Washington Wiley is one where David was clearly unable to slay Goliath, and one where Goliath went on to rule what is supposedly the greatest nation in the world.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Could you imagine if businesses were not only able to grow their own food (or most of it) but also to compost their own waste?
That is the goal we are striving towards here. We began with a small garden growing organically raised fruits & vegetables, from there we added worm composting and began to sell the worms and their castings to other folks so they could recycle their waste into great garden food. Well now we are working towards the next step. Our goal is to grow food that we will process into a delicious fizzy beverage and the waste product from that will then be fed to our worms which will in turn transform that waste into more compost for growing more food for production, and the cycle continues, a completely closed loop system of growth, production and waste recycling.
Minimal impact other than the positive impact on our land and the customers we serve.
We are just in the beginning stages of this project but we will keep you all posted on how things progress along the way.
Until next time,
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Hemicrania, migrana, migraine: "Half headed"; Sag-gig: "Sick Head"
Author Andrew Levy, a professor of English at Butler University and as myself, a migraine sufferer has captured my attention as well as the essence of migraine.
Levy traces the migraine through history from before the time of Christ to modern day along with all the arcane and contemporary means of coping with them. Techniques like trepanning that make you cringe, unless you've suffered through a migraine more than two days long in which case you really start to think it may be a good idea. Levy not only traces the migraine through its various mentions in literature & medical publications but also traces it through the influential people it has affected. Nietzsche, Louis Carol, Ulysses S. Grant, even Elvis Presley, all migraineurs and the list goes on. somewhat more interesting is the affect that migraines had on these famous victims, for instance, the drugs that lead to Elvis' death were likely a means of coping with this debilitating affliction, and Carol's famous Alice in Wonderland is suspected to be not just a description of but an actual migraine incarnated in the various characters and the aspects they each represent, even the Cheshire cat representative of the aura that some migrianeurs experience.
Throughout the book Levy notes the treatments sought by numerous sufferers throughout the ages and how so many treatment success stories were truly by accident, usually treatments for something completely different that patients found just happened to help with their headaches.
Something both amazing and unfortunate at the same time is that the things that trigger migraines and the things that help them are as diverse and varied as the people suffering from them, caffeine can be a savior to some and a torture to others, chocolate as well. It seems through all Levy's research, the only constant is a sensitivity to light and pain, a pain as pure as the sunshine that we migraineurs often fear with every ounce of our being.
One aspect of migraine that Levy captures all to well is its relationships, or more aptly, its affect on our relationships. The introduction of the book was difficult to read for me personally as he describes the way he is forced to interact with his toddler son because of this ailment. Anyone who has been tormented with this disability (the best way I can describe it) for very long knows that it can easily steal as much quality time with your children as can your job. Levy also illustrates the tension and teamwork that migraine builds between he and his wife. Tension from the fact that one team mate is forced to hide in the shadows and silence whilst the rest of the house tries to go about everyday duties with little or no help. Teamwork as the two work together reading & researching, trying to find the triggers and treatments specific to his affliction.
The truly interesting thing that Levy brings forth, especially documenting the long list of highly accomplished people, is that migraine is inspiring, it seems to have been a driving force behind so many creative writers, and artists throughout the ages, and as Levy postulates, how many more has it crippled to the point of inaction?
While the author mentions a long list of triggers and treatments for migraine he also makes a point to mention how experimental the whole process can be, living "monkishly" avoiding specific triggers while working through any number of medications that may or may not help or may help but have such adverse side effects that they are not worth it. This is where I really felt his pain, in his utter frustration of trying to find help and being thwarted at every turn. I would say for myself that this is the truly the worst part of migraine, the never knowing why or how to fix it.
Some research that Levy has come across points toward migraine being an evolutionary "left over", a physiological mechanism to help us avoid the dangers our ancestors once faced-avoiding daylight and loud noises keeps you in the cave safe from predators. More recent discoveries may be pointing towards migraine being an early warning system for individuals prone to stroke, thus forcing them into a lifestyle that is healthier (if you avoid the big triggers) and may eventually help you prevent strokes.
The ultimate answer Levy has found is that no one knows for sure why we get them or how to get rid of them. However, as I have also found for myself, migraine comes to define us, we become migraineurs (French makes it sound fancy), those who experience migraines frequently learn to accept them and develop a sort of symbiotic relationship with them, they give us pain but also inspiration, especially inspiration to appreciate the time we have without pain.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has experienced migraine for any length of time if for no other reason than to understand that you are by no means alone in your pain but also because the author does such a great job of balancing between the statistics from research and the illustration from his own experience.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Ever since I began cooking, well cooking professionally, I have had an interest in the when and how we began cooking and eating as we do now. Consider the Fork answers some of those questions and does so in a very engaging manner, the author doesn't string out some exhaustive and boring time lines with specific dates and so-called "major events" as the typical history class at school does. Instead, the author simply elaborates on simple items we take for granted such as the fork, and how we as a society evolved from eating with personal knives or daggers that were carried with us everywhere to spoons and eventually to the multi pronged fork as a sort of height of sophistication (although I still prefer fingers myself).
The book covers not just the implements we use for eating but also the apparatus we use for cooking such as the large wood fired spits built into the lower areas in the a wall of castles where men would prepare food wearing little but a loin cloth due to the extreme heat, a stark contrast to the chef coat and pants and necessary rubber gloves of today. Spits would be turned by boys because dogs became smart enough to hide when the turning equipment was brought out. Eventually this form of roasting meats would give way to the wood burning oven then a gas range and even electric ranges (which you couldn't pay me to install in my home). These innovations were a driving force that lead to gas lines and electric infrastructure in every home as we now have.
Consider the Fork doesn't offer any new methods that we should be trying or anything of that nature, the book simply explains how we got to where we are today in terms of cooking food which makes someone like myself both wish for the old days and a more involved and planned out method of cooking but also grateful that if I wish to roast a beast I do not need to find my son and force him to turn a spit in a hot kitchen while I tend to more involved duties.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Being the Bad Religion fan that I am, I had to at least check this book out as it was written by Bad Religion front man Greg Graffin, one of the first musicians to show me that Brains and Punk Rock music CAN go together.
Graffin is not only a musician but also has a PhD in zoology from Cornell University and lectures on life sciences and paleontology at UCLA. Graffin has also been a nearly lifelong student of biological evolution, studying books on his own as a kid as well as formal education as an adult.
Anarchy Evolution spends it's pages jumping back and forth between documenting the evolution of the punk band Bad Religion and Graffin's own take on evolution vs. religion, occasionally being able to draw (lose) parallels and metaphors between the two.
I enjoyed the book over all and even through the science portions was relatively easy to read, a sort of laymen's terms explanation of the evolution vs. religion debate. I found his references to religious people, Christianity in particular, to be rather vague generalities. However, his observations are likely well founded especially since a great number of people claim to be Christians yet very few of them actually read the bible or adhere to its recommended practices (my words, not his). I was quite surprised and rather pleased to read his explanation of a Naturalist that it is a philosophy or worldview and not simply someone who studies plants & animals, although that can have a very distinct impact on a Naturalist's worldview, and why someone who does not follow a religion can actually be a moral individual with a positive outlook on life. Graffin also made a point about atheists that although I had observed it, especially in what I call "evangelical atheists", I never really could put my finger on it-atheists define themselves by something they are not, rather than something they are. A rather dismal and negative approach to life if you ask me.
Graffin even finishes the book on a positive note, with the chapter A Meaningful Afterlife, where he explains his personal view on what that means from the perspective of someone who does not believe in another life following this one as virtually all religions do. This chapter was refreshing as he illustrates that our imminent death with nothing to follow it is actually a great reason to live our lives as fully as we can and to make a positive impact on our friends and loved ones since those memories and the characteristics we pass on to them are the most important thing we will leave behind.