Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stink Bug!



                As the cooler weather of fall descends upon the mid-Atlantic, now seems to be a good time to revisit one of our least favorite invasive insect species… the brown marmorated stink bug. Why? If you have not noticed those nasty critters on windows and doors, trying to get into a warmer environment, either you do not live around here, your ability to see is challenged, or you are EXTREMELY lucky! To state it more succinctly… THEY’RE BACK!!!
                The event that has led to the title of this entry ending with an exclamation point took place either late last winter or early spring. This may take some explaining… Here goes…
                The brown marmorated stink bug for those who may not be familiar with those occasionally flying insects originated in Asia somewhere, and eventually, landed here in the mid-Atlantic around fifteen years ago. The insects have adapted well to the area and have spread throughout the region. The issue addressed here is that before the 2011 growing season, most of the Agricultural Extensive Service agents were petrified that 2011 would see an epidemic of brown marmorated stink bugs, that is, a population explosion of unprecedented scope. The damage that would be incurred by those insects could be… catastrophic!
                And in 2011, I scoffed at the analysis. Since I have been farming, relatively as long as the first brown marmorated stink bug sighting on U.S. soil, I can always remember seeing them. Some years there are more and some years there are less. My main defense against any fear of a catastrophe is the birds that thrive on the farm. Birds love bugs… even stink bugs! Anyway, I was curious to see what would develop over the 2011 season, but I definitely expected NOT to see the plague that was feared…
                2011 was frightful!!! Egads! There was an earthquake, extreme heat, a hurricane directly followed by a tropical storm that deluged the area so extensively that the main field was a veritable pond for a month, and then… AND THEN there was a six inch snow storm in… October… OCTOBER!!! What a crazy year!!! And amidst all of those weather extremes, as I fought through those multiple crises, stink bugs fell from my scope of importance. In fact, few brown marmorated stink bugs were witnessed during that spell of unfortunate weather events. Where were the stink bugs? I, for one, did not care since most of the crops had been ruined by the absurd weather!
                Now, a year later, I suspect that some of those weather abnormalities significantly diminished the brown marmorated stink bug population since about the average number has been witnessed this year… until recently, that is. Nonetheless, now that their numbers seem to be increasing after a relatively tame year… THEY’RE BACK!
                The reason the title of this entry is “Stink bug!” is because earlier this year in the late winter/early spring, I sarcastically made that statement when the first stink bug was witnessed inside the house. In 2011, something like eighty stinkbugs made it inside the house, which may be the most annoying trait of those wretched creatures. Constantly, one would start buzzing around a light fixture until, that is, it met the end of a stick I swung at it. Anyway, only about a couple dozen made it into the house this year, and my reaction was a scoff of sorts on the prediction of a stink bug epidemic…
                And now it is late September. The weather has cooled significantly. As a result, the stink bugs are seeking warmer climates. Now, when cleaning the produce on the back porch of the old farm house, stink bugs can be viewed clinging to every wall and ceiling open to the outside air.
                While this form of stink bug activity is normal for this time of year, I have been particularly struck by the number of stink bugs. They are everywhere. After cleaning salad mix, I paused to inventory their stock, if you will. On the back porch, there were dozens on the ceiling, posts, and walls of the summer kitchen. On the vinyl siding of the house facing south that is the warmest side, dozens of stink bugs dotted the white vinyl and clung to the window screens. As I circled the house, they were on just about every area I looked, including on every side of the CSA refrigerator on the front porch. Why the refrigerator? Why not!
                After realizing that the number of stink bugs I witnessed was far greater than any other previous year, I actually felt a little nervous. If their number had increased that dramatically in one year…
                “But what is the real damage stink bugs can do?” you might ask. I will tell you. Especially in organic vegetable and fruit farming, stink bugs do extensive damage. Even if a farmer grows with the use of chemical pesticides, those pesticides are often not very effective against brown marmorated stink bugs.
                The main difficulty with stink bugs is that they can fly from plant to plant and their pattern of attack is extremely random. With some pests, their movements can be easily predicted and thus attacked, but, and unfortunately, stink bugs feast on so many different plants, at best, only random use of TFF is even partly successful. (TFF is my organic approach to pest control. It stands for “thumb and forefinger”, which are used to “squish” harmful bugs on sight.) The list of vegetables damaged by stink bugs is indeed extensive. These include tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas which are perhaps the worst damaged, but they also feast on just about every other crop, albeit with less damage like the broccoli/cabbage family, the chard/beet family, and many more. So now, their damage:
                Tomatoes – Stinkbugs pierce a tomatoes skin and sucks out the juice. At first, this is not noticeable, then in a day or two a round sunken soft spot develops that expands greatly by the day. Organically, there is no way to prevent this other than by preventing the stink bug bite in the first place, which as mentioned above, is a random attack and virtually impossible to defend. My approach is to attract as many birds as possible to help in the fight. The conventional farm will most likely dust the tomatoes with the known carcinogen Sevin, which for the most part keeps the stinkbug from landing on the tomatoes… and in the long run leads to cancer.
                Peppers – Stinkbug attacks on peppers are very much like that of their cousins, the tomatoes. Again, there is little one can ultimately do to prevent them organically, other than attract their predators, birds.
                Beans- The damage on beans is less obvious than tomatoes and peppers, but it does cause discoloration and premature matter break down. The main frustration for the organic farmer is that often when the beans, and for that matter the tomatoes, peppers and peas, are harvested absolutely no damage is visible. It is only the next day or two that the damage reveals itself. Despite the freshness of the harvest, it often leads to quite a short “shelf life”.
                Peas – Peas experience the same damage as beans.
                As for the other plants, say chard, there will be a hole or black spot on the leaves that do not spread as much as on the juicier fruit of tomatoes and peas. This damage is relatively easy to overlook… and forgive. And, since I do not have enough experience with fruit at this point, I will not relay the damage they cause on those crops, only to say that a fruit farmer friend of mine has relayed that entire apple crops can be ruined by stink bugs.  
                After all that… is there a brown marmorated stink bug plague in the near future? The answer to that is that I do not know. However, one more quick story will relay how nature loves to balance things out. The other day, I was washing salad mix again, and heard a banging commotion on the house siding above. Since the back porch is an overhang, I had to lean out off the porch edge and look up. What was the commotion? Birds swooping in to gobble up the stink bugs clinging to the siding! It was quite an impressive display. A day later, it was obvious that the stink bug numbers had been greatly diminished.
                I do realize it would be completely na├»ve to think that birds could “rid” the farm of the stink bug populace. Nature does love balance after all. Even after watching the bird feast, I still expect for there to be quite a few more brown marmorated stink bugs next year, and that is a reality that will have to dealt with accordingly. Like it or not, brown marmorated stink bugs are most likely here to stay.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Arthur and Finnegan Part Two



                And now… back to the Arthur and Finnegan story. There is one more entry to this saga, and it may come across as sad or happy, depending on your feelings on the situation, but that will be relayed a little later…
                About a month ago, I embarked on the process of saving zucchini seeds from zucchinis I selected for their size and shape that will be used in future zucchini plantings. It is a somewhat difficult process. First one has to extract the seeds, which involves slicing the extremely large, and hard zucchinis and the spooning out of the entrails, that is, the seeds and pulp in the middle of the sliced open fruit. “Slicing” here is not easy, like it might be, say, slicing a tomato. Aged zucchini are very sturdy and a LOT of physical exertion is required, with a solid knife, to cut through their shells, if you will. But that is the beginning of the process. The next step stinks, literally. The pulp and seeds are scooped into a bowl that is then filled with water, where the mixture is left to ferment over a few days. And after a few days… man, but does it stink! It smells like a rotting corpse, and yes, I am familiar with that smell! The last step is to strain out the mixture, which only leaves the healthy seeds behind.
                I accomplished this task, then moved the seeds into the house, where my parents live, and turned a fan on to dry out the seeds. This process normally takes a day. About six hours after putting the seeds before the fan, I re-entered the house, only to be hit by the awful smell of a rotting corpse! To pause, this process is used for solanacae plants, such as tomatoes, as well as the cucurbiticae plants, such as cucumbers and… zucchini. Never before had the awful aroma of the fermenting process followed the cleaning situation to the drying of the seeds. Anyway, after my father asked if I knew what the awful smell was in his house, I realized the seeds needed to be dried out doors. And thus begins the next part of Arthur and Finnegan…
                For quite a few weeks, the scurrying of those damned chipmunks had ceased to be. Why? I have no idea. Nonetheless, without seeing, or hearing those damned critters, I knew they were around… somewhere. So I set up what I thought was a fairly well defended structure that would keep the chipmunks from feasting on the drying seeds. To explain, the situation was an old window screen propped up upon, first a five gallon bucket, then an old cardboard box, then the screen. The conglomeration was easily four feet in the air, including lots of climbing obstacles that I was relatively certain the chipmunks could not overcome…
                When I arrived at the farm the next day, those seeds, probably a thousand in number… were ALL gone! The set up had not worked at all, and those damned chipmunks did not leave a single seed behind! AAAHHHH, but I HATE chipmunks!!!
                Nonetheless, this is an ongoing story with Arthur and Finnegan! The zucchini seed story is only the latest stage of their brash attacks. First off, chipmunks absolutely DO NOT respect the efforts of an organic farmer when it comes to the results of the farmer’s efforts. They will do whatever they can to eat or store every bit of that effort! And with no remorse whatsoever! (It very much resembles how some other mammals on the planet approach such situations… insert humans here.)
                A few years ago, I went out to the fields to harvest tomatoes for the CSA share that next day. It was toward the end of the tomato season, and I just barely found enough tomatoes to divide amongst the share members. I brought the tomatoes up to the front porch of the old farm house in five gallon buckets. Setting the buckets down, I walked around to the back of the house to fetch something that I cannot remember at this much later date. Anyway, I was gone for about five minutes. Once I returned to the front porch, I reached into the five gallon buckets to pull out the tomatoes just harvested. And what did I find? Why I found the same wonderful heirloom tomatoes just harvested from the fields… only there was a bite taken out of every single one of them!!! Those damned chipmunks had taste tested the entire batch of tomatoes!!!
                Now I am sure that some people will laugh at that story, but I assure you it is anything but funny. We are talking business here, money! Whereas I should have been able to provide a few dollars worth of fresh, organic heirloom tomatoes for my customers, those damned chipmunks had despoiled the entire batch. HOW WRONG IS THAT? Where are the vegetable police when you need them? Those chipmunks need to be held accountable for their actions!
                But alas, there are no vegetable police… and there is no end to a chipmunk’s appetite. Alas again, anything left outside of protection is fair game for those damned creatures…
                A week or so ago, we harvested some watermelons from the fields. They were stored in the normal former plastic tulip crates as most of the produce is stored. I left for the evening not thinking much about the freshly harvested watermelon. When I arrived back at the farm, there was a hole dug into one of the watermelons! Damned chipmunks! They won’t even leave watermelons alone!
                I left the watermelon in the crate on the porch and started cleaning salad mix a few feet away. While ruminating over the lettuce leaves, I heard a soft scurry, if you will, and I knew one of those damned chipmunks was in the watermelon. Quickly, I jumped toward the watermelon tray which had been blocked from view by an old washing machine (long story…), and sure enough, a chipmunk was in the crate! It scurried beneath one of the watermelon… and this is what is so frustrating about those damned creatures… I could have… “off”ed it by slamming my boot into the watermelon… but I would have also “off”ed the watermelon! Helplessly I stood motionless as the chipmunk jumped out of the crate and darted away. DAMNED CHIPMUNKS!
                The truly frustrating part of the situation is that those damned chipmunks always seem to be lurking somewhere watching for the next feast to be brought to them. It is quite easy to forget that, especially when one’s mind is busy, say, attempting to figure out how to finish a harvest before the sun goes down. Last Friday, Stephanie harvested a few of the remaining tomatoes. After she brought them to the back porch in a five gallon bucket, and both of us went up front for a few minutes. Upon returning, I weighed the tomatoes for record keeping purposes. I noticed a few bites taken out of some of the tomatoes, causing me to contemplate on the cause. Perhaps a squirrel out in the front field…
                The next step was to clean the tomatoes. As Stephanie was wiping off the tomatoes, she saw the bites, which were not there when she harvested them. She spoke up from her task, “I think our friends got into the tomatoes…”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dirty Dozen No. 9 - Lettuce



                This year, 2012, lettuce was ranked number 9 on the Environmental Worker’s Group’s list of vegetables with the highest level of pesticide residue in the produce we consumers may consume. I have not researched into this situation all that deeply, as in, how the data has been coordinated, what “pesticides” are analyzed, or, more accurately from my own organic approach, that is, lumping “pesticides” into the larger cauldron of seething filth, that of “chemicals” in general…
                Nonetheless, I will embark on a very unhappy trail of… reality in regards to the produce available… anywhere… including the “local” farmer’s markets. This is not a “happy” reality by any means, and I certainly feel a sense of dismay on relaying some of the reality that will be exposed in this entry. While I would like to imagine the reality to be different that what it is, unfortunately, I cannot close my eyes to it. AND, while I feel as though I am “narcing” on some other farmers, after almost a decade of keeping silent on this, I FEEL the need to enlighten the consumer as to what they are actually… consuming!
                Now to pause, briefly, when purchasing produce from a “local” farmer at the farmer’s market, talk to them, question them. If they are honest, they will be more than happy to relay their growing technique. True farmers work EXTREMELY hard to bring produce to the market, and after spending relentless hours of labor in such effort, they are not often ready to lie about such effort. The produce from “honest” local farmers at farmer’s markets is far healthier than anything one can find in a supermarket.
                To begin, (after a three paragraph prelude), this entry will focus on lettuce, especially that found in “salad mix”, “mesclun mix”, etc. The taste of fresh lettuce leaves is absolutely a delicacy! It is something in high demand, both on supermarket shelves, as well as the tables of the farmer’s markets. And while I do not have the space to relay why salad mix is not available every week, other than quickly to relay how lettuce hates the heat of the summer, I will reflect on the spring, as well as the fall crops of lettuce. In a supermarket, for sure, there is no break from lettuce availability. There are reasons for this, and perhaps that will be brought up in another entry…
                Personally, I have ALWAYS grown lettuce for salad mixes. Okay, let me qualify that by stating that… since I have been farming, I have ALWAYS grown lettuce for salad mixes. Initially, I was quite a novice in regards to the situation, BUT, as one who grows organically, I have learned over the years that the obstacles to growing lettuce are quite few. And I learned this reality quite early. Without a doubt, other mammals, such as deer, rabbits and… f%$^ing groundhogs, LOVE lettuce. And while a solid fencing set up can prevent, but ultimately not completely deter those nasty creatures, especially the latter mentioned, lettuce has relatively few other “pests” with which to deal. And I will explain a little more here. There are cutworms, along with a myriad of other bugs that will “assault” lettuce, but lettuce grows rather quickly, and the damage, at least as I have witnessed, is negligible in comparison to other ravenous bugs, such as bean beetles on bean plants or squash bugs on squash plants.
                This leads me to my first point of consternation, if you will. It has been over a decade since this situation first occurred. At the time, the National Organic Program had yet to take effect. Back in those archaic days, the “organic” term was regulated by individual agencies, mine being the same that regulates it to this day, the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Anyway, there really was no policing of the situation, and those of us “organic” farmers had nothing to stand on other than our integrity. At one of the markets I attended, an absolutely NON-organic farm advertised their salad mix as “pesticide free”. To come quickly to the end, before the analysis, the farmer ceased his advertising once my “certified organic” salad mix made an entrance.
                The point I am attempting to make here is the cleverness, or deviousness of the advertiser, and that entity was a “local” farm. It is quite true that the farmer did not spray his lettuce with pesticide. Why would you, since so very little bug damage is incurred? What was not stated was the fact that non-natural fertilizers were added to the soil, as well as HERBICIDES to kill anything else that might grow in that polluted soil.
                To take a deep, that is very deep breath at this point, for those of us that grow “organically”, we are stewards of the earth. Every step that we take as farmers IMPROVES the health of the soil in which we nurture our crops. AND, after over a decade of farming in such a fashion, the plants FLOURISH!!! But that is a digression. In counter-distinction, the “conventional” practice must add enough synthetic nutrients to get the plants to grow, along with pesticides, herbicides, humanicides, etc…  This contrast, and its importance is for you to decide. For me, I have obviously made my decision long ago.
                And then, in 2004, I overheard the same “local” farmer who used to advertise his chemically reared lettuce as “pesticide free”, brag, literally brag, that there is now, (of course it was then), genetically modified lettuce that can survive direct applications of… glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most common form of herbicide available, and is used to kill just about any plant deemed unworthy of life on this planet. (There is a commonly known name glyphosate goes by, but since my computer cannot put a trademark behind the product name, and the company that invented the product likes to sue everyone who respects natural life on this planet, I have not mentioned the malevolent product. I have once again digressed.)
                At this point, I will depict two pictures of “local” salad mix one might find at a farmer’s market, and keep in mind, most farmer’s live by integrity… those farms that supply the local supermarkets often have other agendas…
                First, my salad mix is grown on fields that receive only natural forms of fertilizer, such as composted leaves or horse manure that has been broken down over a period of time to build up the tilth of the soil that the lettuce leaves love. The most noticeable fixtures in the soil of the farm are earth worms. They thrive in the soil, but the symbiosis does not stop there, for there are countless forms of microorganisms that also thrive in the soil… which are greatly diminished, if not exterminated in chemically treated soil. As a steward of the earth, every year I am even more amazed than the last to see how much more healthy the plants are growing in that soil that is constantly enhanced by natural organic matter. And so, the lettuce grows, and thrives, so long as I can keep the f@#$ing groundhogs away. The lettuce is then harvested and triple washed in potable water and bagged fresh for the next day’s market. Again, this is a “local” situation, so it has not been harvested almost two weeks ago and shipped across the United States from California, etc.
                But to keep with the “local” focus, I present the second situation. And I will pause to reassert that there are many ways of growing lettuce for salad mix. This second focus is ONLY the one I have learned about that involves the genetically modified lettuce.
                The second situation starts with synthetic fertilizer. Instead of adding natural organic matter that the earth worms and microorganisms thrive upon, a chemical equation posits exactly what amount of inorganic material should be added that would be the sufficient dose for lettuce to thrive. Of course “thrive” here refers to growing to harvest size surrounded by non-natural substances.  
                The routine of salad mix planting follows, that is, seeding the lettuce seed. Organically, the seeding is timed, so that the seeds sprout and grow enough that cultivation and weeding can be accomplished with the healthy seedlings in visible sight. When it comes to the glyphosate-ready lettuce, I assume the process is quite similar, only, instead of a cultivator… and a pair of hands or two for the weeding process, a tank of glyphosate pulled behind a tractor is used to spray the known carcinogen upon those fresh lettuce leaves.
                If what I have been writing is not striking a nerve, I will explain why it should. Most of the produce that is listed on the Environmental Worker’s Group list is questioned as to how much of the chemicals applied to the crop will actually penetrate… the skin, for example, of a potato, or apple. However, if glyphosate is sprayed directly on lettuce leaves… the same leaves that might be quickly washed in water so as to remove chemically tainted soil… how much of the glyphosate is actually removed?
                HOW MUCH? And then, HOW MUCH IS ACCEPTIBLE?!!!
                I feel blessed by the “buy local” movement when it comes to fresh produce. For many years, very few people understood its importance. But, like I said above, not all of the “local” sources should be trusted. Alas, it makes the situation so complicated. I cannot count how many people who have come to our “producer only”, and local, farmer’s market, that have commented with dismay that not all of the vendors are organic. For some reason, it seems to be a common mistake to think that a farmer’s market= all organic. That is NOT the case.
                AGAIN, ask the farmers behind the stands about their produce. Any farmer who is legitimate will readily reveal their practices. You will not get any answers from the supermarket. As for me, and the Nev-R-Dun Farm approach, the reason that I got certified organic in the first place, way back in 2001, is that I did not want the customer to have to decide about the integrity of the produce. Our ethic is documented and recorded… and absolutely traceable!
                Personally, I still feel bad in a strange way writing this entry. But, to put a finish to it, some people, farmers included, are out for a buck, and if feeding their local consumers chemically laced lettuce mix allows for a vacation to, say Mexico for a month in the off season, so be it. Ugh. You will NEVER get that from me!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Carrageenan



                Previously in these Tales of Idyllia, I have mentioned, and lambasted High Fructose Corn Syrup, that evil creation by the gigantic corn growing machine. And while it is true that I lost 45 pounds in 3 months by consciously not eating anything that had high fructose corn syrup in it, my diet was by no means free of toxic ingredients that permeate just about all of our processed foods. The sad reality is that there are so many unnatural and harmful ingredients in the food we eat! It is quite difficult to identify each and every one of those nefarious additives, especially when they are not listed as an ingredient! Nonetheless, the approach, for me at least, seems to be to identify one at a time, come to grips with what is involved with the ingredient, then deal with the situation accordingly.
                And thus, with this entry… carrageenan is the focus.
                What is carrageenan? I have often asked myself that… and having no answer, I let it go. Personally, I am of the generation that as a kid, I watched Breyer’s Ice Cream commercials, where other little kids, pretty much my own age, attempted to read the “fake” ingredients on competition ice cream packages, whereas Breyer’s had real milk, sugar, etc., aka. ingredients kids could read. Somewhere around that time, perhaps it was the early eighties, I first encountered “carrageenan”. What is carrageenan? That has remained a very good and poignant question for me for decades now.
                But, of course, that question slides into the background as one’s “busy” life takes control, and what is most important overrules the ability to question,  “Just what is carrageenan?” And in fact, many, many years fell to the wayside until an e-mail was sent to me by the Cornucopia Institute, with a heading, “Cure Your Gastrointestinal Distress-Is Carrageenan the Culprit”? What? I kept reading…
“Carrageenan is a highly processed seaweed-based ingredient that acts as a stabilizer and thickening agent in foods. Dozens of scientific studies have linked food-grade carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation and disease, including several studies showing higher rates of colon tumors in rats given carrageenan in their diet.” The e-mail continued with… “Carrageenan is commonly found in dairy products (cream, chocolate milk, ice cream), dairy alternatives (soy milk, soy ice cream, coconut milk), and deli meat.” Wow! I was dumbstruck.
                Over the years, I have noticed how certain foods, dairy in particular, have not worked with my system. I have always equated this to being lactose-intolerant. More specifically, rarely are dairy products part of my diet, simply out of neglect, I guess. Dairy products just don’t entice me. However, this past year, after making some ice cream with the strawberries we harvested, I experienced some intense gastro-intestinal pain. By no means did it feel…acceptable, but I had experienced such discomfort before…
                Could it really be, that such intense gastro-intestinal distress was the result of a thickening agent added to foods? And more specifically, an ingredient in organic processed foods that somehow meet the national organic standards?
                Luckily for me in this situation, I was not alone. Stephanie was also a victim, if you will. In an effort not to divulge Stephanie’s dietary regimen, I will simply reveal that she LOVES cheese. And that has been an issue. And this is where it is strange to analyze. In much the same way, that a novice gardener will see a mammal’s damage to their crops and shrug it off as a random critter’s damage, rather than that of the actual cause… a f#$%ing groundhog, the food we eat are often approached in the same manner. Rather than there being an actual cause for gastro-intestinal distress, it must be a random imbalance in the diet.
                Perhaps, just perhaps, it is much more simple than that. But how does one determine this? I will revert back to my approach to high fructose corn syrup. Remove it from your diet and see what happens… naturally… to your own body! So, Stephanie stopped eating cheese… and sliced turkey meat. Her random gastro-intestinal distress ceased to be. Again, is it really that simple? As in, remove such a nefarious ingredient toward our digestion process as carrageenan… and the body can digest in peace again?
                Stephanie and I have learned a lot about this “thickening” agent that originated as “irish moss” many hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, the original source and processes have changed in order for large food production companies to create a similar and more inexpensive product. That is, inexpensive only if one considers sales revenue and not health cost issues.
                I do admit that this is all new to me. I have searched through some of the scientific research… (and yes, I do respect scientists for scientific knowledge)… along with the history behind carrageenan. I certainly urge you to do the same. Oh, and cut it out of your diet to see what happens to your own digestion activity.
                Since learning about carrageenan’s negative effects, I have had two situations that have quite substantially proved its gastro-intestinal distress properties quite succinctly. It is somewhat easy for me to diagnose these situations, simply because I do not ingest very much processed foods, if any at all. And I do not miss it.
                So, I was over my parent’s house a couple of weeks ago. They had a pizza on the kitchen table and offered me some slices to eat. For countless years now, I have not been a fan of pizza.  Until learning about carrageenan, I had not decisive reasoning on this other than… it did not treat my digestive system well. Wow, thinking back on the last time I had pizza, it was precisely because of strange digestion issues on why I did not enjoy eating pizza. I dove in! I ate two slices of pizza. Within twenty minutes, that long remembered “stomach ache” arose on the left side of my stomach. It was simply too obvious to deny.
                I do realize how many will scoff over that simple example, but I stress, TRY IT FOR YOURSELF! If you eat processed food and experience gastro-intestinal distress, drop dairy… and sliced turkey meat from your diet. Sliced turkey is my second situation in this investigation, if you will. In the meat drawer of my parent’s refrigerator, a package of sliced turkey meat almost always resides. As a glutton for punishment, a couple of days after my pizza experiment, I made a turkey sandwich to eat. A turkey sandwich! What could be wrong with a turkey sandwich? I ate it… and twenty minutes later… my left side hurt! And as that pain arose, memories arose of similar pains in my most recent past! My mind had equated the gastro-intestinal distress to too much coffee. But literally, twenty minutes after eating the turkey sandwich, which contained carrageenan, the pain arose.
                I will stop here. This has been by no means a scientific analysis of the food additive carrageenan. What it attempts to be is a relaying of information I had not been informed of until recently, and after a relatively small amount of personal experimentation, has seemed to reveal that gastro-intestinal distress is more an ingredient issue in processed foods, than a random reflex of the body on natural foods.