Who Is Otto Warburg and Why Should You Care?

InuitCancer and heart disease were once virtually unknown to the Eskimo (Inuit) peoples while they were still eating their traditional diet – a diet very high in animal fat (seals, whale blubber, caribou and fish) and almost entirely absent of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and sweeteners, which didn’t grow and were not generally available north of the Arctic Circle. All that changed once “modern” western food became readily available. Now, cancer and heart disease are becoming as prevalent among the Inuits as in the rest of North America.

pet-scannerWhen doctors test for cancer, a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is often used. Radioactive glucose is injected and the PET scan lights up any tumors because cancer cells need much more glucose for metabolism than normal cells. Glucose and fructose, you may recall, are the two halves of the molecule we call table sugar. Once ingested, this molecule rapidly splits into its simpler components: glucose and fructose. Starches, aka carbohydrates, also rapidly break down into their component glucose molecules. This scan for cancer works because the tumor cells require excess glucose consumption relative to healthy surrounding cells and allows the doctor can see the extent of the cancer.

Normal cells can use either fat or sugar for energy. Like a Prius, normal cells can run on two kinds of fuels. Cancer cells, on the other hand, have lost this ability and require sugar (glucose) for fueling its growth.

Question: If you wanted to “starve” cancer cells or slow their growth, you would eat very little ___________.

This theory of cancer was first postulated by Dr. Otto Warburg, who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine way back in 1931. He was also later nominated for two more Nobel Prizes in different areas, but has otherwise generally been ignored by the medical community for the last 80 years. Dr. Warburg: “…for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar. All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation. From the standpoint of the physics and chemistry of life this difference between normal and cancer cells is so great that one can scarcely picture a greater difference. Oxygen gas, the donor of energy in plants and animals is dethroned in the cancer cells and replaced by an energy yielding reaction of the lowest living forms, namely, a fermentation of glucose.

However, now, a few researchers have gotten bored waiting for any significant improvement in cancer statistics from the “War on Cancer” – now in its 5th decade. One researcher, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, a biochemist at Boston College, has investigated the connection of sugar to cancer and has found cancer-reversing benefit in a diet high in (good) fat, low in sugar, and low in overall calories.

Such a diet uses ketones as fuel. Our bodies make ketones from ingested fat and from bodily fat.

Rowing on Fat

Rowing on Fat

But don’t we need sugar for energy? No, actually we don’t. In 2014, Sami Inkinen and Meredith Loring, husband and wife, rowed a boat from California to Hawaii on a diet that was 70% fat, 21% protein and only 9% carbohydrates and consisted of lard, nuts, coconut butter, and dehydrated salmon, beef, and some fruits and vegetables. They rowed 12 to 14 hours a day for 45 days to reach Hawaii – the fastest time ever for a man/woman pair.
Dr. Seyfield concludes that cancer is a metabolic disease of mitochondria – the energy producing organelles inside every cell in our bodies. He suggests that by eating wisely, we can exploit the glucose dependency of cancer cells.

We don’t have to wait for a cancer diagnosis to utilize this difference. We each produce about a million cancer cells a day and our immune system, when healthy, kills an equal number.

There are, of course, other theories about cancer, but that cancer cells metabolize sugar differently than normal cells is undisputed. So, while we wait for the final scientific conclusion, why feed that which is in opposition to our life?

Imported White Powder Killing Millions!

Teaspoon of SugarThis dangerous white powder is highly refined, generally overseas, imported, and sold to an addicted American public. Astonishingly, the U.S. government aids and abets the extensive usage of this drug by subsidizing its production. Not so surprisingly, one large producer of this drug, for example, made campaign contributions to 221 U.S. congressional candidates in the most recent election. Hmm, makes a person wonder if those last two facts are related.

This drug stimulates the same pleasure centers as opium so users of this drug often find it very difficult to stop. Withdrawal symptoms can include lethargy, depression, headaches, flu like symptoms, anger and others.

Victims of prolonged use of this white powder are flooding our health care system and we are all faced with a bill that we, as a nation, cannot afford. And the situation is only getting worse: In the U.S, per capita usage of this white powder has increased tenfold in the last 200 years.

The white powder is called by many names by its dealers and users, but most commonly it is called, of course, ….. sugar.

american-sugar-consumptionBack when our ancestors hunted and gathered, they infrequently came across the occasional wild fruit or a few berries during a limited time of the year, or maybe they were lucky and found a bee hive in a tree trunk and figured out how to steal some honey without getting stung too badly. That was the environment that the bodies of our ancestors were exposed to for a million years or more. By 1850, after several thousand years of domesticated farming practices and several hundred years of sugar plantations, Americans were still only eating 10 pounds of sugar per year – that’s less than a five pound bag every six months. Today, we consume on average 100 pounds per year which equals a five-pound bag of total sugar every 2½ weeks. By total sugar, I mean table sugar plus High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Of course, if that’s the average then more than half of us consume more than that. HFCS was not part of the human diet before the 1960’s.

Forty years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration told us that fat consumption was causing heart attacks, so low-fat diets became fashionable. The problem with low-fat foods is that they don’t taste good unless you add a lot of sweetness. Corporate America obliged and added sugar (or HFCS) to almost everything. (If you don’t believe that statement, spend twenty minutes in the grocery store reading labels on packages, canned goods, and soda.) Now, after 40 years of this dietary experiment, an epidemic of obesity, and untold millions of unnecessary deaths from heart disease, diabetes and cancer, the FDA has recently said (and I paraphrase) “never mind, fat isn’t so bad after all, well, except for those trans-fats, like margarine, which is an industrially produced food-like substance that happens to be deadly but something that we once touted as heart-healthy. Sorry about that folks.” (Actually, I made up that last sentence; the FDA didn’t really say that about being sorry.)

So who you gonna trust?

Perhaps it’s time to trust our own God-given common sense. Each generation of an organism has a chance to successfully adapt to a changing environment. Dinosaurs were not quick enough to adjust to a rapidly cooling planet. Humans, since sugar first became generally available, have only had about 20 generations to adapt to sugar’s increasing prevalence in our diet – not enough time to significantly change our physiology. Our bodies today are not very different from those of our early agrarian ancestors. By contrast Staph bacteria can go through 200 or more generations during the course of one short infection in our bodies. It has a fighting chance to slowly adapt to new antibiotic environments and pharmaceutical companies are having a tough time staying ahead of rapidly adapting bacteria strains. Bacteria are now becoming antibiotic resistant after only 60 short years of antibiotic use. MSRA anyone? By contrast, we change more at the rate of dinosaurs. Therefore, we can conclude that it may be prudent to ingest the foods similar to those our ancestor ate and would recognize if they were alive today. How many foods or food-like substances do you regularly eat that didn’t exist one hundred years ago?

But let’s stick with sugar for this discussion.

So what’s so bad about sugar? Cells need energy, right? And sugar provides that energy, right?

It’s true that cells can use sugar for energy, but cells can also burn fat for energy very well, maybe better. And cells can only utilize a limited amount of glucose at any one time. If we are sedentary, our cells need less; if we are training for the Olympics, we can utilize more. We can tolerate glucose in our bloodstream only within a very narrow range. If too low, we feel depleted and maybe dizzy. If the sugar in our blood starts to get above the tolerable range, our pancreas secretes even more insulin which forces the excess sugar into cells first until they are saturated, then into the liver until it can store no more as glycogen, then all excess is stored as fat in fat cells. This process is left over from our hunter/gatherer days when berries were scarce. When we happened upon an abundance, our bodies stored them as fat to be used as energy during long lean winter months. Bears do this too.

The problem with eating too much sugar is that a lot of insulin is needed to try to keep the blood sugar within a tolerable range. Insulin irritates the blood vessels and, over time, can create inflammatory sores on the endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels). The body deposits cholesterol as band-aids to try to protect these endothelial lesions. And we blame the band-aid. And the pharmaceutical companies sell you drugs to rip off the band-aids, which is analogous to seeing a house on fire, noticing lots of firemen in the vicinity, and concluding that firemen cause fires.

When high levels of sugar are consumed year after year, more and more insulin is needed to try to push all that glucose into cells which gradually become “insulin resistant,” that is, more insulin is needed to accomplish the same thing. More insulin means more endothelial irritation. Imagine the visible inflammation when you get stung by a bee, or when you get a burn. Your skin gets red and swollen and it itches and hurts. The same thing is happening in your arteries only we aren’t built to feel it there. We don’t realize what’s happening until we are told that we have diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers, or any of a number of other inflammatory diseases that are all too common nowadays. (High sugar intake, of course, is not the only factor, but it can be a major contributor.)

There are several blood tests that can give us an idea of how far this inflammatory condition has progressed before overt disease manifests: HgbA1C which measures your average blood glucose levels over a 2 to 3 month period, Homocysteine, High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP). Ask your doctor for a copy of your blood test results. See if these tests were done. If not, and you are at risk, ask why not. It’s your body.

We don’t get fat from eating a reasonable amount of fat. We get fat (and sick) from eating too much sugar. We, as a species, have been eating (healthy) fat for a long, long time. Excess sugar is the newcomer on the evolutionary scene.

Frosted Flakes made addicts of us all. “They’re great!!!” But, but that tiger was so cute….

R U Gluten Sensitive?

Don & Patty Serving Lunch

Don & Patty Serving Lunch

Shortly after my teenage years, I learned how to hang wallpaper—you know, like the floral designs in your grandmother’s dining room. The wallpaper paste came as a powder and was mixed with water to make the glue which, when dried, would keep the wallpaper tightly stuck to the walls. This powder was primarily wheat gluten (as in the word glue). Perhaps you made paper mache Christmas ornaments once upon a time. Or maybe you have felt the stickiness of bread dough if it was just a little too wet. Or you’ve watched pizza dough hold together while being spun overhead. Gluten.

Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat and, to a lesser extent, in other grains such as barley, rye, and oats. Gluten-free foods and gluten sensitivity have rapidly come into public awareness in recent years. The incidence of full-blown celiac disease caused by the ingestion of gluten has risen four fold in the last 30 years. Gluten sensitivity is well-known to produce a host of intestinal problems. What is less well known is that intestinal inflammation can allow food fragments to pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream causing fatigue, joint pain, mental confusion, headaches, muscle spasms, allergies, skin rashes, and other seemingly unrelated problems.

But wheat has been a staple of human diets for at least 10,000 years, so why has its consumption suddenly become problematic for many people?

Well, today’s wheat is not the same grain as the wheat of 50 years ago. Today’s loaf of bread is not the same bread that we, as humans, ate for the first 9,950 years of its daily presence in our diets. Much of the wheat now grown in the U.S. is Clearfield® wheat. BASF, the international chemical company that produces Clearfield wheat, makes the claim that Clearfield wheat is not genetically modified, i.e., it is a non-GMO seed. While technically correct, that is not to say that the seed hasn’t been royally tampered with.

Clearfield wheat is the result of “mutagenesis,” which is the use of powerful chemicals to cause mutations in wheat’s DNA. Older strains of naturally bred wheat seeds are subjected to a mutagenetic solution, commonly sodium azide (NaN3), a powerful chemical mutagen. How powerful? A mere 0.7 gram dose is lethal to humans. If accidentally ingested, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends allowing the unfortunate person to die because, if mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is attempted, the altruistic rescuer will also likely die. So wheat seed is subjected to sodium azide and radiation and then planted to see what the mutant offspring will look like. Of course after such mistreatment, many of the mutated seeds will never sprout or will fail to thrive. However, some will live, and some of the survivors may have new useful characteristics. Welcome to “new’ wheat.

On the positive side of the ledger, the “new” wheat crop is shorter (less likely to be blown over in a storm), and it produces more bushels per acre. However, on the flip side, there are newly-minted proteins within the gluten family that human intestines have never encountered before.

Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is one such altered protein in new wheat. When isolated and given to rats in very small amounts, WGA destroys the small intestine. The average, wheat-eating, U.S. consumer ingests an estimated 10 to 20 milligrams of WGA per day. Once the intestinal wall is penetrated (commonly called “leaky gut syndrome”), food fragments that were never meant to leave the intestines do. As they circulate in the bloodstream they are attacked by the body’s immune system as foreign invaders. The resulting inflammation can manifest as disease generally in the weakest area of our bodies, whether joints, skin, lungs, etc. For example, when I eat gluten, my right hip joint becomes excruciatingly painful. As debilitating as the intestinal response to gluten can be, the total body impact can be much greater.

There is not more total gluten in new wheat; the problems are caused by altered protein molecules within the gluten family. Wheat also has other issues having to do with diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but we’ll leave that topic for another day.

Gluten sensitivity is estimated to be a problem for about 8% of the U.S. population. But the fact is, no one really knows how many people it affects because the symptoms can be so varied.

So if we suspect gluten sensitivity, how can we find out for sure? Well, one way is to stop eating wheat and other gluten containing grains (rye, barley, and oats) for a few weeks and see if you feel better. As in most useful things in life, this is easier said than done. It turns out that wheat is everywhere. It’s not just in bread, pancakes, pasta, cakes, cookies, crackers, and cereal, but it’s also added to many other processed foods as well. If the bloating or skin rash or allergies or headaches subside, then you can decide for yourself if that hamburger bun is worth the price you pay for it.

If you don’t have any noticeable symptoms, but you like baked goods and also like the idea of maintaining an intact intestinal wall, there’s a few things you can do:

Einkorn, Kamut, Emmer, and Spelt are “old” wheat varieties that all have gluten, but which have been shown to have much less impact, or even a positive impact, on our systems when compared to modern mutagenic hybrid wheat. These varieties can be found in some health food stores or online.

If you prepare your own baked goods, you can soak, sprout, and even ferment your (organic) wheat or other gluten containing seeds. These age-old cooking techniques reduce the negative impacts of these grains.

You can also use inherently non-gluten flours such as organic cornmeal, almond flour, rice flour, or coconut flour for tasty baked goods.

And, you can always use organic wheat flour that has been processed to be gluten free.

Bonus Question: What do you think they do with all the gluten that they take out of gluten-free wheat flour?

Here an easy, gluten-free recipe for some tasty Banana Pancakes (great with some yoghurt, applesauce, and/or a little maple syrup):
3 eggs
2 Tbs peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 very ripe banana
¼ cup almond or coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder (choose a brand without aluminum!)

1. Beat eggs. (If you want extra fluffy pancakes you can separate the eggs & beat the whites separately and fold into the mixture last.)

2. Add the banana and nut butter to the eggs and thoroughly mix with a mixer or hand blender until smooth.

3. Mix in flour thoroughly.

4. By hand, mix in baking powder just enough to distribute evenly in batter.

5. If you saved the beaten egg whites, fold in, but do not over-mix.

6. Use unscented coconut oil or ghee to grease pan and pour small “silver dollar” pancakes.

Serves 2. Both will be happy eating these delicious pancakes.


Informative Further Reading:

Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis, M.D.

Grain Brain: The Surprising Turth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers“, by Dr. Dave Perlmutter, M.D.

News Flash! They Still Can’t Turn Lead Into Gold

The centuries-old alchemist’s dream of turning lead into gold is still not possible unless, of course, you happen to have a cyclotron in your basement. Besides not being able to convert lead into gold, it is also not possible to make sulfur out of sodium, make magnesium from manganese, or calcium from chromium. Or, in fact, convert any element to any other element, except if you want to talk about radioactive elements, which cost Madam Curie her life and are not typically part of even the most rad diet.

So how is this relevant to your health?

Well Being's Blueberries

Well Being’s Blueberries

Well, twenty or more of these mineral elements are essential to good health. Magnesium, for example, is involved in over 400 different metabolic reactions in the body and is necessary for the proper functioning of the nerve bundle that regulates your heartbeat. Yea, magnesium!

Our bodies do everything possible to make sure the sodium and potassium concentrations of our blood stays within a very narrow range, deviation from which can be lethal. These are examples of minerals our bodies need in relatively larger amounts and are logically called macronutrients. There are also trace nutrients, such as selenium, vanadium, molybdenum, copper and others that are still essential to our health but are only needed in tiny quantities.

What all of these essential minerals have in common is that they must be ingested in our food (or by supplements) since our bodies have no way to make them out of thin air or convert one mineral into another that the body may need. We can get by – at least for a while – if we are a little deficient in a few minerals; we may not be overtly sick, but we will likely not be optimally healthy either. We’ve all watched young people who seem to subsist on burgers, fries and soft drinks: the body makes do in the near term, but you can’t play roulette with Nature forever. The house eventually wins.

Livestock are in the same boat that we humans are. If the full spectrum of minerals is not present in the corn and other unmentionables that they’re fed in confined feedlots, they will not be as healthy as animals that are grazing on rich, diverse pasture. That’s why cattle in feedlots are routinely given antibiotics in their feed –to keep them alive long enough to reach full size before they are slaughtered. On the other hand, knowledgeable, holistic, livestock farmers generally supplement their animals with “free choice” minerals, so the animals can choose the minerals they instinctively know are missing or deficient in their pasture grasses.

Fruit trees and vegetables are dependent on the minerals present on the soil they are grown in, the same way, so to speak, that we are dependent on what we put in our mouths. A deficient soil will yield weak, not-so-nutritious plants. Humans eating weak, non-nutritious vegetables may not be getting sufficient minerals through food intake alone. Some studies have shown up to a 35% decline in the mineral content of conventionally farmed vegetables over the last 50 years.

Perhaps consequently, 70% of Americans are now found to be deficient in magnesium and iodine deficiency has increased fourfold in the last 40 years. They only way to know for sure if you are mineral deficient is to have the appropriate blood tests. The next best way is to raise your own vegetables in soil that you can test. If you don’t have the time or space or inclination to have a garden, the next best way to probably ingest sufficient quantities of essential minerals is by eating a wide variety of real food – proteins, fruits and vegetables and perhaps supplementing with a few key minerals. Organically raised produce will tend to have higher nutrient content; brightly colored fruits and vegetables will tend to be richer in mineral content than pale colored (you can choose red leaf lettuce over the iceberg variety for example); consuming fruits and vegetables closer to their pick date (by shopping for locally raised, freshly picked produce at a farmer’s market or your CSA); and by eating some of your vegetables raw rather than boiled or fried.

For example, here’s a recipe for Hearty Cole Slaw (serves six and goes with lots of main courses):

1/2 head Red Cabbage (shredded)
1/2 bunch Green Onions (chopped)
1 Sweet Peppers (red, green, or orange) (chopped)
2 Carrots (shredded or finely chopped)
3 stalks Celery (chopped)
1/3 cup Daikon (or red) Radish (shredded or chopped)
1 Apple (optional) (coarsely chopped)
½ cup Raisons (optional)
1/3 cup Sweet Relish
1/3 cup Mayo (I suggest the grapeseed-based Vegenaise – a delicious mayonnaise substitute)
1/3 Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
2 TBS Local Honey (if desired)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients and serve chilled.

What’s So Bad About GMO’s? (Maybe More Than You Think)

Patty with our Non-GMO Non-Hybrid Corn

Patty with our Non-GMO Non-Hybrid Corn

No one really knows what consuming Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) will do to our health in the long run. For one thing, they haven’t yet been around for the long run. They’ve been added to our food supply quietly and quickly over the past 20 years.

When they first came on the scene, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded them the GRAS designation (Generally Recognized As Safe). No testing was therefore required before they entered the food supply. This GRAS designation was originally created to acknowledge that foods such as oranges, honey, oats, etc. have been around forever and everyone already knew that they were OK to eat. Then along comes genetically modified corn. It looked like real corn, tasted like real corn, so, therefore, it must be essentially the same thing as real corn, right? Impeccable logic! Never mind that little string of bacteria genes “engineered” into each and every cell of the GMO corn. With the GRAS designation in hand, no rigorous testing was required by the FDA and the chemical companies themselves (or their paid consultants) were left to selectively publish their own in-house test results.

Broadly speaking, there are two major types of genetically modified plant seeds: one allows farmers to spray the corn field with an herbicide, like Round-up® by Monsanto, to kill everything except its own brand of GM corn seed (Round-up Ready Corn®); the other type of GM seeds has bacterial (generally Bacillus thuringiensis) genetics inserted into the corn DNA so that an insecticidal toxin is present in every bite that any insect takes out of any portion of the plant. (The Bt toxin works its magic by burning holes through the intestine of the insect. Wait a minute—bees are insects. Bees feed on pollen. Pollen has the corn DNA. Hmm.)

Note that Monsanto sells both the poison (Round-up®) and the antidote (Round-up Ready Corn®). Other companies (Bayer CropScience, Pioneer Hi-Bred, DuPont and others) have similar combinations.

To be fair, sweet corn is different than field corn. Sweet corn is the corn-on-the-cob that you eat for dinner. Very few varieties of sweet corn are GMO, at least for now. Field corn however, is another matter. Today, over 85% of all soybeans and over 90% of all field corn grown in the US are GMO. Field corn is what is fed pigs and beef cattle and chickens; field corn is used to make tortilla chips, corn flakes, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and a thousand other foods in the grocery store. (It is also used to make the ethanol that dilutes your gasoline.)

So, if genetically modified tidbits are in the corn that cattle eat, do those genetically modified DNA strands and Bt toxins not also end up in your hamburger? Do you know what effect they have on your digestive tract where most of your immunity is created? Do you know if they drill holes in your intestines like they do in insects? No? Well, at least, you’re in good company; no one else really knows either.

But I’m not going to try to argue that point, because I also don’t know for certain, although I am willing to make a guess when it comes to putting food in my own mouth.

So, when I said that what’s bad about GMO’s may not be only what you think, let me explain. The term “Round-up Ready Corn®” means that the GM cornfield can be sprayed with the herbicide Round-up®, which will kill all the weeds in the cornfield but leave the GM corn relatively unharmed. This makes life easier for the farmer, but creates a cascade of downstream consequences:
• Like the sprayed weeds, the Round-up Ready Corn® plants also inevitably absorb the Round-up® (active ingredient glyphosphate).
• The GM corn with its burden of glyphosphate enters your body directly as corn tortilla chips, or perhaps indirectly as hamburger.
• Recently, the World Health Organization declared glyphosphate a “Probable Carcinogen.”
• Glyphosphate and its cousins, unlike original claims, have been found to survive digestion in humans.

Life is a gamble. Sometimes we have to make decisions without knowing the full story. Actually, when you think about it, we always have to make decisions without knowing the full story. In this case, consuming insecticides and probable carcinogens may be just fine; I can’t really say with absolute certainty.

Of course, if a food is labeled “Organic,” it cannot be GMO and the guesswork is eliminated. Here’s a recipe for Corn Bread which can be made with Organic Corn Meal. (We often serve this Corn Bread on retreats and even our Southern friends have given it their approval!)

1 1/4 cup Organic Yellow Cornmeal
1 1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 each Organic Pastured Eggs
1 cup Organic Whole Milk
1 TBS Coconut Oil (unscented)
1 tsp Baking Powder (aluminum free)
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 TBS Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 400. Oil skillet & put in oven.
Mix all dry ingredients in bowl.
Put apple cider vinegar in measuring cup & add milk so total volume of both is one cup
Vinegar will curdle milk (buttermilk). Pour buttermilk & vinegar into a mixing bowl.
Add eggs. Whisk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. And stir.
When skillet starts to smoke a little, pour the batter into the pan.
Cook 20 – 25 min until middle is firm but slightly springy.
Rub some butter on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Cut, remove from pan, and serve warm with butter, apple butter or your favorite jam, or use it to sop up some of that chili!

Who Hijacked the Word “Food?”

I sometimes ask people if they know what organic food was called a hundred years ago. The answer, of course, is that it was called food. There was no non-organic food back then—just plain old real food. Sometimes real food is defined as anything edible that your great-grandmother would recognize from her childhood.

Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides hadn’t yet been invented—at least not the inorganic kind. There were no fast food outlets. Unless something could be dried or canned, it had to be produced locally and in season. I remember as a child gaining some awareness about the seasonality of fruits and vegetables. You could only buy fresh asparagus in the spring and could only get peaches in the summer.

Once while watching an old cowboy movie where the hero goes to town and stops by the general store with the barrels of beans and grains and the bins of fresh produce, I was struck by the realization that nearly everything in the store would have been organic, mostly local, and most likely grown sustainably.

Fast forward to 2015. Now we have all manner of packaged, adulterated, modified, stabilized, irradiated, and ultra-pasteurized food-like substances that can still legally be called food. Somehow, real food, aka organic food, got nudged off of center stage and has been made to Continue reading

Powell River Flood

Most rivers these days are regulated, which is a polite way of saying they are dammed. Humans or computers man the sluice gates of these regulated rivers to control downstream flow. The Powell River is not dammed anywhere in its 900 square mile watershed upstream of Well Being Conference Center. It is free-flowing. So whatever Nature drops onto its watershed, the river sends downstream. In the last couple of days, a combination of more than a foot of melting snow plus several inches of new rainfall created the 10th largest flood on the Powell in the last 100 years and the biggest flood since 1977, almost 40 years ago.

Flooded Pasture

Flooded Pasture

The flow in the river reached 29,000 cubic feet per second. To make sense of this number, the average river flow is less than 1,000 cubic feet per second. Yesterday’s flow could fill a one acre parking lot 3½ feet deep in 5 seconds. The river here rose 21 feet from normal summer levels, flooding many of the pastures.




Road to Garden Impassable

Road to Garden Impassable

The river also flooded (up to 7 feet deep) the only road to the garden where our chickens and guineas are kept. In the cold weather, these birds have to be fed and have unfrozen water at least once a day. The only way to get to the garden was to drive the tractor to the top of the hill and then walk down to (and back up from) the garden. With temperatures in the teens and snow on the ground, this was a major daily event for a few days.



Fortunately, all of our cabins were built well above the flood level and there was no significant damage. Even the road that was seven feet under water was fine – well washed, but fine.

It’s always impressive when Nature puts on an awe-inspiring show.

Cold Road to Feed Chickens

Cold Road to Feed Chickens

Our Mode of Transportation

Patty Modeling our Transportation



Are Cows Smarter than People?

Well Being Foundation has a three-fold mission: to promote harmony with Nature, wellness of body, and peace of mind. As I see it, all three are related; if you are not at peace with yourself, it is not likely that you will be at peace with your neighbor and even less likely that you will be at peace with the world at large (or its constituent plants and animals). OK, that might seem obvious in an abstract kind of way, but let’s look a little closer to home.

Are you at peace with your own body? Or are you in a continuous state of negotiation with “you” and “your” body on opposite sides of the table? Your body is ready for bed; you want to finish the movie. Your body has had a full meal, but you want dessert and you recklessly promise that you’ll exercise tomorrow. You don’t really want to work late, but you convince the body to press on beyond exhaustion by offering “it” a future “reward” of a glass of wine (or two) when you finally get home. I could go on, but I’m sure you have your own negotiating styrategies.

Cows don’t do this. When they’re tired, they lie down. When it’s hot, they seek out a tree to stand under. When they’re hungry – which looks to be about all the time – they eat. But they won’t eat just anything. They are in fact quite selective, knowing instinctively whether they need more carbs or more protein and which type of plants in the pasture will provide what they need. You can set out a dozen free-access boxes of different minerals and cows will peruse the offering and eat one and skip the next based on what they actually need to maintain their health. They don’t eat what’s not good for them, except if they have no other choice or if they’re trained to do so by humans.

Most cows start off life in a pasture grazing on grass which is their natural food source. If left on good quality grazing pasture, cows have few problems and they produce the highly prized “grass finished” beef. Cows haven’t evolved to eat a grain based diet. However, after about a year on pasture, cows are shipped to feed lots. In feed lots, cows are fed corn, because it is a cheap (you and I subsidize it through our tax dollars) and because corn is a highly concentrated form of carbs which adds fat to the meat, aka  “marbling” which is spoken of fondly around the barbeque pit. (Not surprisingly, excessive carbs do the same thing to the human body, although it is not as highly valued there.)  One question: Why does the average feedlot owner know this (that it’s not dietary fat; but rather the excessive carbs, that make you fat) and your average doctor doesn’t?

In any event, feeding the cow lots of grain in the feedlot [not to mention chicken poop (which is high in nitrogen), hydrolized chicken feathers (which are high in protein), and GM seed meal (after all the oil has been squeezed out)], will cause the cow to get sick pretty quickly. (I’m feeling a little ill myself just thinking about it.) So feedlot cows are routinely fed antibiotics to keep them alive just long enough to be slaughtered.

Let me briefly sum up here, and let’s see if we can draw any similarities to the human condition. The animal is fed crap food and is kept alive, but not healthy, by frequent doses of antibiotics. Does that sound like anyone you know?

A healthy pasture is dependent on full spectrum soil with its multitudes of sub-surface life forms. A healthy pasture supports healthy cows eating what they were evolved/designed to eat. One may choose to eat meat or not, but for me, I prefer beef that has been raised on clean healthy pasture as Nature intended and not one that’s been fed chicken feathers.

So if you’re going to the supermarket to buy that ribeye, here are some pointers to help you navigate the treacherous terrain of meat labeling.

All-Natural” doesn’t mean anything. I once had a friend who signed his letters “Jack Smith, DMA.” I asked him, “Jack, what does the DMA stand for?” He answered, “Doesn’t mean anything.”

Grass-Fed” doesn’t really mean too much either since essentially all cattle are on pasture for the first two thirds of their life. This isn’t a legally defined term, so it can be, and is, used loosely.

Grass Finished” OK, grass finished, while not a legal term, actually implies that the animal has been on pasture its whole life and has not been fed grain prior to processing. This is good. The fat on a grass finished cow has a much higher Omega 3 content than the fat on a grain finished animal. (Similarly, the butter(fat) from dairy cows that are 100 percent on pasture is different than butter from grain fed dairy cows.)

Hormone Free” This is also a valuable term. Cows in feedlots (and sometimes before) are routinely fed growth hormones to make them grow faster and bigger. Your 9 year old daughter ingests these hormones every time you serve her some hormone-laced hamburger. Ever wonder why so many children reach sexual maturity at such a young age? By the way, you often see chicken in supermarkets advertised as “hormone-free,” but, unlike cattle, it’s actually illegal to feed growth hormones to chickens, so the statement doesn’t mean anything on the chicken package.

Non-GMO” GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. Nearly all soybeans and field corn grown in the US is now genetically modified. Corn and soybeans are prominent ingredients in animal feeds. Unless the meat says “Organic” or at least “non-GMO”, you have to assume that the animal has been fed GM grains (and in many instances other unspeakables). Now non-GMO is an improvement over beef fed with genetically modified (GM) grain, but non-GMO grain can still be produced using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides – it just doesn’t start out as GM seed.

Organic” Now “Organic” is actually a legal term. A licensing and inspection protocol helps to insure that the term means something. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the cow was out on pasture its whole life. It does mean that whatever the cow was fed was Organic, whether that be pasture, hay, or organic grains.

Local” isn’t a legal term, but it may be the most helpful. At least you can drive out and see how the farmer is raising his/her cattle and be able to ask questions. If any farmer isn’t proud enough to show you what is happening on his/her farm, look elsewhere. Here in Tennessee, many people raise cattle because the hilly land is often suitable for grazing and not much else. The cattle are raised locally to about 800 to 900 pounds and then sold to the local distributor who ships them out west to a feedlot, where they are fattened for 4 – 6 months, processed, and then the meat is sent back to Tennessee to be sold in the local supermarket. What is wrong with that picture? Instead, why not talk to your local farmer and tell him what kind of food you are looking for? Who knows? It may be a very productive and informative visit for both of you.

Be Well,

Don Oakley, President

Well Being Foundation