One of the themes of this book is that cooking is easy and that vegan cooking is easy, and that men and boys should be able to cook for themselves and for the goddess in their lives – whether it is their busy, over-worked mother, their girl friends, or their wives.
Women like vegan food because they are always thinking about controlling their weight.
Women and girls like men and boys who can cook. Compatibility in the kitchen may indicate compatibility in other rooms. Cooking together makes a perfect first date.
So, boys and men: Learn some vegan recipes and cook them up for the goddess in your life, and they will love you for it.
Try This Recipe:
3 bitter melons, medium size 1 container of sprouted soybeans 4 oz. vegan noodles by weight (1/4 of a 1 pound package of Flour Sticks Noodles from the Philippines) 2 tbsp. dried basil 1 bunch of garlic cloves 1 medium onion chopped 1 medium onion chopped ¼ cup olive oil Salt and soy sauce to taste Sesame tahini butter to taste Nutritional yeast to taste
Steam stir fry onions and garlic in olive oil and water for 4 minutes. Add sliced bitter melon, soy beans, and basil and cook for another 4 minutes. Take everything out of the pan except for the remaining water. Add the noodles and more water and boil the noodles for 4 minutes. Add the cooked bitter melon and soybeans back to the pan and cook together for another minute. Garnish with green onions.
On each individual serving sprinkle a generous amount of nutritional yeast or sesame butter.
Dear PUD Commissioners and other PUD professionals,
Seattle Utilities passed a $100 million bond issue to finance installation of smart meters and on top of that had to raise rates. Smart meters run constantly and therefore use more electricity. Smart meters broadcast 24/7, around 190,000 times daily, reporting on our every electrical behavior. They catch fire. They are not grounded. Their surge protection is weak to non-existent.
Smart meters are an overshoot, meaning that utilities that have installed them should go back to fireproof, grounded, surge protected, all metal analog meters until a wired analog meter alternative is developed.
I compliment the Commission on its avoidance of smart meters thus far.
The installation of 5G antennas is a related issue. Many cities have been granting Big Wireless space on poles for 5G antennas. I urge the PUD to avoid going down this road. 5G aims to make it possible to watch TV and movies on cell phones, which is completely unnecessary. People can go home and watch TV and movies on their TVs and wired computers.
Smart meters and 5G antennas are good for robots but not for humans, birds, and insects.
Policies adopted by reinsurer Lloyds of London mean that it impossible to buy a residential or business insurance policy that will cover all of the harms that wireless radiation can cause, specifically harms to health. If the PUD installs smart meters and allows the use of its facilities for 5G antennas, it will be doing so without coverage when people sue ten years from now for cancer.
Our current 3G and 4G technology along with our constant use of our cell phones is probably an overshoot in terms of health. If we are to use cell phones at all, there should research done on safer frequencies and lower power densities. For all of us, our cell phones should be in airplane mode most of the time, turned on occasionally to check for messages and voice mails and to make a quick phone call.
The World Health Organization has declared that wireless radiation is a carcinogen. Cell phones emit microwave radiation, and the effect is cumulative over time. Ted Kennedy and John McCain both contracted brain cancer directly under the area near the temple where they held their cell phones. Do not hold a cell phone against your ear like a land line telephone. Hold it away from your head and turn on the speaker. Or use an air tube headset.
Children have thinner skulls and are more sensitive to wireless radiation. I cringe when I see parents pacifying their infants by giving them cell phones or tablets to watch. A child should be allowed to play with a wireless device only if it is in airplane mode.
5G antennas are another overshoot. 5G operates at multiple frequencies, from 450 megahertz up to 52.6 gigahertz. A 5G antenna is actually a collection of many antennas operating a many frequencies. 5G antennas utilize beam forming, meaning the radiation emitted by the many antennas in a 5G tower and the many antennas in your 5G cell phone can be aimed right at each other, which is not so good if you are between the 5G antenna and your cell phone. 5G Wi-Fis and 5G cell phones also broadcast at multiple frequencies and do beam forming.
An absurd aspect of 5G antennas is that for them to work, the towers must be interconnected by fiber optic cable. It would make more sense instead to interconnect homes and businesses by fiber optic cable.
Cell phones should not be used for extended periods. The only apparent benefit of 5G is that it enables us to watch TV and movies on our cell phones. When people want to watch a movie they should watch it on a TV or a wired computer.
We have a Wi-Fi in our home, but it is almost never turned on. When I drive, my cell phone is always in airplane mode because cell phone and cell towers are constantly sending handshake broadcasts to each other as I drive from one cell tower area to another. In our home we forward our cell phones to our land line and then turn our cell phones off or put them in airplane mode.
Another overshoot is the use of Wi-Fi in schools. School desks do not move around. Every school computer, including student laptops, could be connected by category 6 cable. Children should not be exposed to constant Wi-Fi radiation. All new Wi-Fis today are 5G capable. Most people do not know that the 5G Wi-Fi in a Comcast router is always turned on by default.
Homes are being built without category 6 cable jacks in all rooms. The presumption is that all TVs and computers will receive data through home Wi-Fi. We are being constantly irradiated in our homes.
New vehicles equipped with radar and lidar operating at up to 77 gigahertz and retina damaging LED headlights are another overshoot. We will be irradiated by the 10,000 cars we pass every hour as we drive on the freeway. Wear blue blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes. See: http://www.wi-cancer.info/wieyes.aspx
This brings me to the subject of municipal fiber optic. The PUD would be the best entity to interconnect the County with fiber optic. Frontier has installed some fiber to homes, but only in some neighborhoods. Fiber optic would be a magnet for high tech industries and a benefit to ordinary families. See: https://www.jamesrobertdeal.org/fiber-optic/.
I am alerting the Commission that Big Wireless will be approaching you to bribe to install smart meters and NOT to install municipal fiber. This is happening in Seattle, where Century Link and Comcast are donating heavily to the campaign of Jenny Durkan, an opponent of municipal fiber, against Cary Moon, a supporter of municipal fiber.
My thesis: The admonition to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” does not apply just to individuals. It applies to businesses and governments.
In the background are photos I have taken of chemtrails sprayed over Lynnwood. These are composed of coal fly ash and contain mercury, lead, arsenic, and pretty much every other element on the periodic table. Why does the Air Force spray this filth? Ultimately, it is to get rid of it and to create a nice cash flow for Big Coal. Read more at www.JamesRobertDeal.org/white-skies.
The EPA required coal burning plants to capture coal fly ash in wet scrubbers in smokestacks. But there was no place to put the coal flash. So the EPA declared coal fly ash to be usable for almost anything, including drywall and road beds. The EPA is a “captured agency”, infiltrated by industrial manipulators.
All new energy industry capital should be spent on renewables. No new capital should be spent on exploring or drilling for oil and gas.
James Robert Deal Real Estate Attorney & Real Estate Managing Broker James@JamesDeal.com PO Box 2276 Lynnwood WA 98036 Law Office Line: 425-771-1110 Broker Line: 425-774-6611 Cell & Text Line: 425-670-1405 (better to send email) KW Everett Office Line: 425-212-2007 Fax: 425-776-8081
Vitamin D Is More Effective Than Flu Vaccine, Study Says
by Dr. Mercola 
Conventional health authorities claim getting a flu shot each year is the best way to ward off influenza. But where’s the actual science backing up that claim?
If you’ve repeatedly fallen for this annual propaganda campaign, you may be surprised to find the medical literature suggests vitamin D  may actually be a FAR more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least a decade.
Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying CAUSE of influenza.
His hypothesis  was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.  It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008. 
The following year, the largest nationally representative study  of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu. In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:
“The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency.”
Vitamin D Works Better Than Flu Vaccine If Your Levels Are Low
Since then, a number of studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review [5,6] of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu.
Overall, the studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. As reported by Time Magazine: 
“… [P]eople who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …
For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say.”
Like Cannell before them, the researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that “[t]his may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body’s natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …” 
According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.  Another statistic showing vitamin D is a more effective strategy than flu vaccine is the “number needed to treat” (NNT).
Overall, one person would be spared from influenza for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement (NNT = 33), whereas 40 people have to receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent one case of the flu (NNT = 40).
Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. In other words, if you’re vitamin D deficient to begin with, vitamin D supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine.
Optimizing Vitamin D May Be Your Best Defense Against Influenza
In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available. Your diet also plays a significant role of course, as it lays the foundation for good immune function.
A high-sugar diet  is a sure-fire way to diminish your body’s innate ability to fight off infections of all kinds by radically impairing the functioning of your immune system.
However, I do not agree that fortifying more processed foods  with vitamin D is the best solution, although I realize it could potentially have a more widespread impact among people who remain unaware of the beneficial health effects of sunlight in general.
I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is only recommended in cases when you simply cannot obtain sufficient amounts of sensible sun exposure.
It’s also important to point out that, contrary to what’s reported by most mainstream media, including NPR report above, most people cannot optimize their vitamin D levels by getting the recommended 600 IUs of vitamin D from fortified foods. The dose you need really depends on your current blood level of vitamin D.
If it’s very low, you may need 8,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The only way to know how much you need is to get tested at least once or twice each year.
If you’ve been supplementing for some time and your levels are still below 45 ng/mL, you then know you have to increase your dose further. If using an oral supplement, also make sure to boost your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake, as these nutrients help optimize vitamin D levels.
Other Studies Supporting Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Influenza
In a study published in 2010,  researchers investigated the effect of vitamin D on the incidence of seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 430 children, half of which were given 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day while the other half received a placebo.
Overall, children in the treatment group were 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu. According to the authors: “This study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.”
Another study  published that same year concluded that infection-fighting T-cells need help from vitamin D in order to activate. This is yet another mechanism that helps explain why vitamin D is so effective against infections.
When a T cell recognizes foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, it sends activating signals to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene.
The VDR gene then starts producing a protein that binds vitamin D in the T cell. A downstream effect of this is PLC-gamma1 protein production, which subsequently enables the T cell to fight the infection. At the time, lead researcher Carsten Geisler told Food Consumer: 
“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or “antenna” known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D. This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”
With that understanding, it’s no wonder flu shots don’t work. Flu vaccines do absolutely nothing to address the underlying problem of vitamin D deficiency , which is effectively hindering your immune system from working properly.
In fact, flu vaccines tend to deteriorate your immune function, and their side effects can be significant.
‘Gold Standard’ Studies Ignored by Mainstream Media
The gold standard of scientific analysis, the so-called Cochrane Database Review, has also issued several reports between 2006 and 2012, all of which decimate the claim that flu vaccinations are the most effective prevention method available. In 2010, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusion, which was completely ignored by mainstream media: 
“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration).
An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines …”
So, despite the fact that 15 of the 36 studies included were biased by industry interests, they still couldn’t come up with evidence supporting the conventional claim that flu vaccines are the best and most effective prevention available against influenza!
Scientific Reviews Show Vaccinating Children and Elderly Is Ineffective
Cochrane has issued several reports addressing the effectiveness of flu vaccines on infants and the elderly – two groups that tend to be the most targeted by flu vaccine advertising – and all have had negative findings. For children:
1. A large-scale, systematic review  of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children under two. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
2. In 2008, another Cochrane review  again concluded that “little evidence is available” that the flu vaccine is effective for children under the age of two. Even more disturbingly, the authors stated that:
“It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months old in the USA and Canada. If immunization in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”
3. In a 2012 review,  Cochrane concluded that “in children aged from two years, nasal spray vaccines made from weakened influenza viruses were better at preventing illness caused by the influenza virus than injected vaccines made from the killed virus. Neither type was particularly good at preventing “flu-like illness” caused by other types of viruses. In children under the age of two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.”
The available evidence with regards to protecting the elderly is equally abysmal.
4. In 2010, Cochrane concluded that:  “The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”
5. Cochrane also reviewed whether or not vaccinating health care workers can help protect the elderly patients with whom they work. In conclusion, the authors stated that:  “[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.”
Annual Flu Vaccinations May Raise Risk of More Serious Infections
Other recent studies have shown that with each successive annual flu vaccination, the protection afforded by the vaccine appears to diminish. [19, 20] Research published in 2014 concluded that vaccine-induced protection against influenza was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.  The flu vaccine may also increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections.
* Data shows people who received the seasonal flu vaccine in 2008 had twice the risk of getting the H1N1 “swine flu”  compared to those who didn’t receive a flu shot. 
* Compared to children who do not get an annual flu vaccine, those who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza. 
Research also shows that statin drugs – taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 – may undermine your immune system’s ability to respond to the flu vaccine. [24,25,26] When you consider the low efficacy rate of the flu vaccine in any given year, getting vaccinated if you’re on a statin may well be a moot point.
Independent science reviews have also concluded that influenza vaccine does not appear to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season. [27,28,29,30]
Other Foods and Supplements That Send Pathogens Packin’
Besides vitamin D, there are a number of other foods and supplements that can be beneficial for colds and influenza, including the following:
Garlic:  Garlic has natural antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal activity and has long been hailed for its immune boosting effects.
The Cochrane Database, which has repeatedly demonstrated that the science in support of the flu vaccine is flimsy at best, has also reviewed studies on alternatives, including garlic. 
Unfortunately, such research is harder to come by, as there’s no financial incentive driving it.
Still, in the singular study identified by the Cochrane group, those who took garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo, and, when they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter – an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group.
While this may not seem overly impressive, it’s still better than the results achieved by the flu drug Tamiflu !
Zinc: A Cochrane Database Review of the medical research on zinc  found that when taken within one day of the first symptoms, zinc can cut down the time you have a cold by about 24 hours.
Zinc was also found to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms. Zinc was not recommended for anyone with an underlying health condition, like lowered immune function, asthma or chronic illness.
I do not recommend taking more than 50 mg a day, and I do not recommend taking zinc on a daily basis for preventive purposes as you could easily develop a copper imbalance that way.
Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients.
You can take several grams every hour (use the liposomal form so you don’t get loose stools), till you are better. I never travel without a bottle of our liposomal C.
A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.
Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.
Medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake, reishi and turkey tail .
Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.
Olive leaf extract is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.
Vitamin D Is Important for Optimal Health and Disease Prevention Year-Round
In related news, researchers are also homing in on how vitamin D may help protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s . The video above discusses research  showing vitamin D extends lifespan in nematode worms by 30 percent and helps slow or even reverse accumulation of beta amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disease and many other chronic diseases. As noted in a recent issue of Orthomolecular Medicine News:  “Research on the health benefits of vitamin D continues at a rapid pace. There were 4,356 papers published in 2015 with vitamin D in the title or abstract and 4,388 in 2016 …” Among some of the most impactful studies are ones demonstrating:
* Health benefits from sun exposure unrelated to vitamin D production. One recent review concluded benefits of sun exposure  includes lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia, myopia, macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. My belief is that the majority of these benefits are due to the near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths.
According to the author: “The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve [vitamin D] concentrations of 30 ng/mL or higher … and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.” Also, while intermittent sun exposure is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, “the risks of these cancers is dwarfed by the reduced risk of internal cancers from sun exposure,” William Grant, Ph.D. writes.
* Benefits of higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy. Research demonstrates preterm births steadily decrease as vitamin D levels increase among pregnant women. In one study, raising vitamin D blood concentrations from 20 to 40 ng/mL decreased preterm births by 59 percent.
* Reduction in cancer risk from vitamin D supplementation. One pooled analysis showed that women with higher levels of vitamin D had much lower incidence rates of cancer – from a 2 percent per year cancer incidence rate at 18 ng/mL to 0.4 percent at 63 ng/mL.
Overall, maintaining a vitamin D serum level of 45 to 60 ng/mL year-round may be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to safeguard yourself against chronic disease and acute infections. When it comes to seasonal colds and influenza, the rate of protection you get from vitamin D is actually greater than what you’d get from a flu vaccination, and you don’t have to worry about potential side effects either – which in the case of the flu vaccine can be far worse than the original complaint.
While death and complete disability from a flu vaccine  may be rare, so is dying from the flu itself. I strongly recommend weighing the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect of the flu vaccine relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed with the flu. Remember, most deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to bacterial pneumonia, and these days, bacterial pneumonia can be effectively treated with advanced medical care and therapies like respirators and parenteral antibiotics.
The Role of Vitamin D in Disease Prevention
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers.
* 1  Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D by JJ Cannell, September 15, 2006 
* 2  Epidemiology and Infection 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40 
* 3  Virology Journal 2008, 5:29 
* 4  Archives of Internal Medicine 2009;169(4):384-390 
* 5  BMJ 2017; 356:i6583 
* 6  NPR February 16, 2017 
* 7,  8  Time February 16, 2017 
* 9  BBC.com February 16, 2017 
* 10  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2010; 91(5): 1255-1260 
* 11  Nature Immunology 2010 Apr;11(4):344-9 
* 12  Food Consumer July 3, 2010 
* 13  Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews 2010 Jul 7;(7):CD001269 
* 14,  15  Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD004879 
* 16  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012; Issue 8 
* 17,  18  Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews 2010 Feb 17;(2):CD004876 
* 19  Vaccine December 1998;16(20):1929-32 
* 20  STAT News November 11, 2015 
* 21  Clinical Infectious Diseases 2014; 59 (10): 1375-1385 
* 22  CIDRAP April 6, 2010 
* 23  Science Daily May 20, 2009 
* 24  STAT News October 29, 2015 
* 25  STAT News September 28, 2016 
* 26  Journal of Infectious Disease October 28, 2015 
* 27  FDA. 94th Meeting of Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Transcript. Feb. 20, 2003 
* 28  CDC Seasonal Influenza Q&A. Aug. 15, 2014 
* 29  CDC 2014-2015 Influenza Season Week 51 Ending December 20, 2014 
* 30  JAMA Internal Medicine 2013; 173(11): 1014-1016 
* 31  PreventDisease.com January 20, 2013 
* 32  Cochrane , Garlic for the Common Cold, November 11, 2014 
* 33  ABC7 News February 10, 2017 
* 34  Orthomolecular Medicine News February 13, 2017 
James Robert Deal
Real Estate Attorney & Real Estate Managing Broker
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Were ancient people conscious?
[Spencer Alexander McDaniel]
Spencer Alexander McDaniel, B.A. Classical Studies & History, Indiana University Bloomington (2022)
In 1976, the American psychologist Julian Jaynes (lived 1920 – 1997) published a controversial book titled The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In this book, Jaynes claimed that human beings were not conscious of their own thoughts until around 1000 BC and that stories about gods speaking to people originated from people hearing their own inner voices and mistaking them for the voices of external deities telling them what to do.
Jaynes’s claims were regarded as fringe, baseless, and bizarre even when he first proposed them back in the 1970s and today they are almost universally regarded by psychologists as the debunked relic of an earlier, less scientific stage in the development of modern psychology. Nonetheless, Jaynes’s hypothesis of the bicameral mind has garnered something of a cult following among non-scholars and has had considerable influence in popular culture, so I suppose it is worth writing a lengthy rebuttal to it.
First, let me summarize the basic gist of what Julian Jaynes argues in his book. In the book, Jaynes argues that the human mind was once divided into two separate parts: a part which seemed to be speaking and a part which listened and obeyed. He thought that people in ancient times mistook this inner voice for the voice of a divine figure commanding them to do things. Jaynes called this idea of the mind being divided into two parts “bicameralism.”
Jaynes argued that the bicameral mind broke down around 3,000 years ago around the same time of the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. According Jaynes, with the breakdown of the bicameral mind came the beginnings of modern consciousness. He posits that the people we call “schizophrenics” are actually people who have retained vestiges of the original bicameral mind and that, if anyone from ancient times were alive today, we would probably call them “schizophrenic” as well. [cid:image002.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Photograph of Julian Jaynes holding a model of a human brain—or maybe he is holding his own, actual brain and that is why he had so many crazy ideas about consciousness
Reception of Jaynes’s hypothesis
Reception of Jaynes’s hypothesis among psychologists in the 1970s was, to put it lightly, not overwhelmingly good. In a paper published in January 1979, a scholar named William Thomas Jones wrote an article titled “Mr. Jaynes and the Bicameral Mind: A Case Study in the Sociology of Belief,” examining the question of how on Earth any intelligent person could possibly believe Jaynes’s hypothesis. At the end of the very first paragraph, Jones writes:
“To think of the book as a case study in the sociology of belief, justifies our making a rather detailed analysis of it: only in this way can we see how implausible Mr. Jaynes conclusions are and so lay the basis for answering the question: Why, despite its implausibility, is the book taken seriously by thoughtful and intelligent people?”
Jones concludes that people only take Jaynes’s idea of the bicameral mind seriously because they have an aversion to the ideas of Darwinian evolution and natural selection, they have a longing for lost bicamerality, and they desire a simple, all-encompassing theory that explains everything about human nature.
Nowadays, you certainly will not find a single academic historian or anthropologist who subscribes to Jaynes’s hypothesis. You may find a psychologist or two out there, but they are rare. Very few philosophers of mind accept Jaynes’s hypothesis either. Daniel Dennett, a philosopher who thinks Jaynes’s hypothesis has some problems but that it should be taken seriously, writes the following in an essay titled “Julian Jaynes’s Software Archaeology”:
“After all, on the face of it, it [i.e. the hypothesis of the bicameral mind] is preposterous, and I have found that in talking with other philosophers my main task is to convince them to take it seriously when they are very reluctant to do this. I take it very seriously, so I am going to use my time to try to describe what I take the project to be.”
Nonetheless, despite widespread academic rejection, Jaynes’s hypothesis has managed to seep its way into popular culture. For instance, in 2006, an author named Terence Hawkins published a fictional novel titled The Rage of Achilles, which retells the story of the Iliad using Jaynes’s hypothesis as a naturalistic explanation for all the encounters with deities in the epic. In Hawkins’s novel, the Greek hero Odysseus and the Trojan prince Paris are portrayed as having non-bicameral minds, while the other characters are portrayed as having bicameral ones.
Meanwhile, more recently, Jaynes’s hypothesis was incorporated as a plot device into the HBO science fiction television series Westworld. Westworld differs from earlier portrayals of the bicameral mind in that it does not portray the bicameral mind as a stage in the development of human consciousness, but rather a stage in the development of robot consciousness, which I suppose is somewhat more plausible. The show also, mercifully, referred to the hypothesis as applied to humans as “debunked.” [cid:image003.png@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Scene of the characters Robert Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard Lowe (played by Jeffrey Wright) discussing Julian Jaynes’s hypothesis of the bicameral mind from the HBO television series Westworld
The problem of the physical structure of the brain
One major problem with Jaynes’s hypothesis is the problem of the physical structure of the brain. It is almost universally recognized that the physical structure of the brain and the way we think are inextricably linked. Even most substance dualists, who believe that the mind and the brain are two distinct substances, admit that there is a clear connection between the mind and the brain.
The problem for Jaynes’s hypothesis is that, if his hypothesis that early humans were not conscious in the same way we are conscious were true, we would expect to find that the brains of humans up until around 3,000 years ago were structured significantly differently from our own brains. In reality, though, we find precisely the opposite; as far as we can tell from surviving brain cases and even, in some cases, preserved brains, the structure of the human brain has remained almost completely unchanged for at least the past roughly 10,000 years.
If you examine the skull of the a normal, healthy person who lived in ancient Sumer in the third millennium BC, you will find that the brain case is virtually identical in every way in terms of its structure to the brain case of a person who died yesterday. Likewise, if you examine the preserved brain from a well-preserved body, such as the body of someone who was accidentally mummified or frozen in ice, you will find it structurally identical to a modern brain.
So far at least, there is no physical evidence to suggest that the brains of humans before around 1000 BC were structured any different from the brains of human beings today. This poses a serious difficulty to Jaynes’s hypothesis. [cid:image004.png@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Illustration of the underside of a human brain from the 1543 anatomy book De humani corporis fabrica by the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius
The problem of human behavior
If humans prior to around 1000 BC really thought in a way that is drastically different from how we think today, we would expect to find a great deal of evidence that they also behaved very differently from how we behave today. Unfortunately for those who want to believe in the idea of the bicameral mind, what we instead find is a great deal of evidence that early humans were, in fact, remarkably like us in terms of their behavior. Though their cultures differed from ours in significant ways, judging from our available evidence, they still acted the way we would expect normal, conscious human beings to act.
For instance, a number of customer complaint letters have survived to us from ancient Mesopotamia that read almost exactly like what someone might write today. In particular, in the early twentieth century, the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley excavated a house in the city of Ur, which contained a large number of letters from angry customers inscribed on clay tablets addressed to a copper merchant by the name of Ea-Nasir. These letters all date to around the middle of the eighteenth century BC.
There are a whole bunch of these letters, but the longest and more irate of all of them is a letter written by a man named Nanni, which covers the entire front and back sides of the tablet he wrote it on. Here is the text of the letter, as translated from Akkadian by the American Assyriologist A. Leo Oppenheim:
“Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:”
“When you came, you said to me as follows : ‘I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.’ You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: ‘If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!’”
“What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and Umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Shamash.”
“How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.”
“Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.”
This sounds very much the sort of thing someone today might write. It is certainly not the sort of thing that one reads and thinks, “Clearly, these people thought in a way completely and utterly different from the way people think today.”
I could give examples of ways in which ancient peoples behaved that are very similar to ways in which people today behave all day, but I will not do that because I reckon this one example is probably enough for an article of this length. [cid:image005.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of Nanni’s complaint letter to Ea-Nasir, complaining about how Ea-Nasir has given him a lesser standard of copper than what he promised him
The vast majority of the evidence Jaynes tried to marshal to support his argument is evidence that, quite frankly, just can’t be logically construed to support it. Jaynes starts out with the assumption that people prior to around 1000 BC had bicameral minds and then simply reads his own assumptions onto the evidence.
Ironically, on page 177, Jaynes himself offers a warning against reading our own assumptions onto evidence, except what he is really arguing when he says this is that translators should refrain from making logical assumptions and instead make the kinds of insane and illogical assumptions he himself is making:
“The popular and even scholarly literatures are full of such sugared emandations and palatablized glosses to make ancient men seem like us, or at least talk like the King James Bible. A translator often reads in more than he reads out. Many of those texts that seem to be about decision-making or so-called proverbs, or epics, or teachings, should be reinterpreted with concrete behavioral precision if we are to trust them as data for psycho-archaeology of man. And I am warning the reader that the effect of this chapter is not in accord with popular books on the subject.”
Let’s think about this a bit. If you find a clay tablet inscribed with what appears to be a set of proverbs, which of these assumptions makes sense: (a) that this is a set of proverbs written by a scribe, who wrote them the way a person today might write them, or (b) that this is a set of writings by the scribe, who was acting as a mindless drone obedient to the commands of the voice in the back of his head, which seemed to him like the voice of an all-powerful deity?
Most people, I think would say the former of these choices is more sensible. [cid:image006.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Photograph of an Akkadian clay tablet dating to c. 2270 BC listing the victories of the Akkadian king Rimush
Misunderstanding stories about people hearing voices of deities
In support of his hypothesis of the bicameral mind, Julian Jaynes particularly relies on stories of human beings hearing voices of deities or receiving visions from deities. Based on his readings of religious texts and works of fiction such as the Iliad, Jaynes seems to have the impression that it was common for people in ancient times to think they were hearing the voices of deities. This is far from the case. There are indeed surviving texts that describe people receiving commands or visions from deities, but all of these texts present this as an extraordinary phenomenon that only happens on extremely rare, exciting occasions.
For instance, in around 2125 BC, King Gudea, the ruler of the Sumerian city-state of Lagash from c. 2144 until c. 2124 BC, had two large terra-cotta cylinders inscribed with a very lengthy and detailed description of how he experienced a dream in which he saw the god Ninĝirsu. These cylinders, which are known as the “Gudea Cylinders,” also record Gudea’s reaction to the dream. Here is an excerpt from the translation of the Gudea Cylinders available online through Oxford University’s Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL):
“On that day, in a nocturnal vision Gudea saw his master, Lord Ninĝirsu. Ninĝirsu spoke to him of his house, of its building. He showed him an E-ninnu with full grandeur. Outstanding though his mind was, the message remained to be understood for him.”
“’Well, I have to tell her about this! Well, I have to tell her about this! I will ask her to stand by me in this matter. Profound things (?) came suddenly to me, the shepherd, but the meaning of what the nocturnal vision brought to me I do not understand. So I will take my dream to my mother and I will ask my dream-interpreter, an expert on her own, my divine sister from Sirara, Nanše, to reveal its meaning to me.’”
“He stepped aboard his boat, directed it on the canal Id-Niĝin-dua towards her city Niĝin, and merrily cut through the waves of the river. After he had reached Bagara, the house extending as far as the river, he offered bread, poured cold water and went to the master of Bagara to pray to him.”
“’Warrior, rampant lion, who has no opponent! Ninĝirsu, important in the abzu, respected in Nibru! Warrior, I want to carry out faithfully what you have commanded me; Ninĝirsu, I want to build up your house for you, I want to make it perfect for you, so I will ask your sister, the child born of Eridug, an authority on her own, the lady, the dream-interpreter among the gods, my divine sister from Sirara, Nanše, to show me the way.’ His call was heard; his master, Lord Ninĝirsu, accepted from Gudea his prayer and supplication.”
“Gudea celebrated the ešeš festival in the house of Bagara. The ruler set up his bed near to Ĝatumdug. He offered bread and poured cold water and went to holy Ĝatumdug to pray to her: ‘My lady, child begotten by holy An, an authority on her own, proud goddess, living in the Land, …… of her city! Lady, mother, you who founded Lagaš, if you but look upon your people, it brings abundance; the worthy young man on whom you look will enjoy a long life.’”
Notice how Gudea presents his vision as an absolutely stunning occurrence, something completely out of the ordinary. He describes Ninĝirsu making a glorious appearance to him in a dream. He then describes himself travelling all the way to another city to consult the goddess Nanše (or, presumably, her oracle) to find out the meaning of his dream. The fact that Gudea feels the need to travel all the way to another city shows what a remarkable event this seemed to be for him. Even the fact that Gudea had all this written down shows that he considered this an extraordinary occurrence.
Also notice that Ninĝirsu appears to Gudea in a dream, which means there is no need to invoke the idea of the bicameral mind even if we are to accept the literal truth of this story. Gudea may very well have simply had a particularly vivid dream, which he interpreted as a message from the god Ninĝirsu. This does not prove that ancient peoples were not conscious or that they had bicameral minds; even people today can have vivid dreams. [cid:image007.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of the Gudea cylinders on display in the Louvre Museum
Misunderstanding the Iliad
Jaynes devotes an entire chapter in his book to discussion of the Iliad. I would like to pay special attention to how he misunderstands and misinterprets the poem, because it is illustrative of how he generally misinterprets evidence. Jaynes starts out with the assumption that, because Troy was a real city and because there are a few accurate descriptions of, for instance, styles of armor and weapons from the Bronze Age scattered throughout the Iliad, the Iliad is therefore fundamentally a work of history. He writes on page 76:
“There is thus no question of its historical substrate. The Iliad is not imaginative creative literature and hence not a matter for literary discussion. It is history, webbed into the Mycenaean Aegean, to be examined by psychohistorical scientists.”
On the next page, Jaynes responds to the objection that the Iliad contains descriptions of impossible events by insisting that the poem must be historical at its core, but the aoidoi must have changed the poem at some point, adding in exaggerations and legendary elaborations. Nonetheless, he insists that the poem must be mostly historical, saying, “But all these alterations were probably kept in check both for the transcribers’ reverence for the poem at this time, as is indicated by all other Greek literature, and by the requirements of public performances.”
It is in his assumption that the Iliad must have been mostly intended as an accurate historical account that Jaynes commits his biggest error in this chapter. In reality, as I discuss in much greater detail in this article I wrote about the historicity of the Trojan War, there is no good reason to think that the Iliad has any more historical basis than, say, Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
The fact that Troy was a real city does not mean that the story about the Trojan War presented in the Iliad is historical. After all, fictional stories can be set in real places; the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral is a real place, but very few people would try to argue that that somehow means the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo is a historical account about real events. [cid:image008.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: Notre-Dame is a real cathedral, but that doesn’t mean Quasimodo was ever a real person.
Although there are a few scattered examples of accurate remembrances of the Bronze Age preserved in the Iliad, the vast majority of the poem is totally disconnected from what the historical Bronze Age was really like. Even the few things the Iliad gets right it does not get right consistently. For instance, sometimes the Homeric heroes fight with bronze weapons like the Mycenaeans; other times they fight with iron.
There is far more in the Iliad that makes us doubt its validity as a historical account than there is that makes us inclined to trust it. (I mean, in Book Twenty-One, Achilles literally fights a river, for goodness sakes! What is a historian supposed to make of that?)
Because Jaynes starts out from the beginning with the false assumption that the Iliad is mostly a historical account, this leads him to the false conclusion that the Iliad’s portrayal of interactions between humans and deities is an accurate reflection of what everyday life was like for people in the Mycenaean Period, which, of course, it isn’t.
Jaynes makes other errors in this chapter and elsewhere, of course. For instance, he dates the composition of the Iliad to the ninth century BC, when, in fact, most scholars in the 1970s thought it was composed in the eighth and most scholars today think it was composed in the early seventh. Jaynes also claims at one point that the word wanax was only applied after the Mycenaean Period to the gods, when, in fact, even in Modern Greek, the word ἄναξ is still sometimes applied to human kings. [cid:image009.jpg@01D5A0B9.0FFF9660]
ABOVE: The Rage of Achilles Protected by Mars, painted in 1815 by the Italian painter Antonio Galliano
All our available evidence seems to indicate that the brains of ancient peoples were structurally similar to ours and that ancient peoples acted in ways that are behaviorally similar to the ways people act today. I know that I am conscious and I consider it reasonable to assume that everyone else around me is conscious. The most parsimonious assumption, then, is that ancient peoples probably thought more-or-less the same way we think today and that they were every bit as conscious as we are.
Is this an assumption? Ultimately, yes, but it is an assumption that is supported by the evidence and that makes logical sense, unlike the hypothesis Jaynes tries to argue for, which has absolutely no solid or convincing scientific or historical evidence to support it and is full of all sorts of outrageous leaps of logic.
The Law of Parsimony is key here; we cannot know for certain that ancient peoples were conscious because, ultimately, the only people who know what was going on inside ancient people’s heads are ancient people themselves, who are—and this is true!—all dead. Nonetheless, we can come to the conclusion that requires the least number of ad hoc assumptions, which is that people who lived prior to around 1000 BC were indeed conscious.
(NOTE: I have also published a version of this article on my website titled “Were Ancient People Conscious?” Here is a link to the version of the article on my website.)
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Paul Ramirez, Research Analyst 30 years with an IQ of 160, InFj MBTI.
Shared 22h ago
A recent study done in Ontario, Canada, established that vaccination actually leads to an emergency room visit for 1 in 168 children following their 12-m vaccination appointment and for 1 in 730 children following their 18-m vaccination appointment
Adverse events following 12 and 18 month vaccinations: a population-based, self-controlled case series analysis.
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. National Institutes of Health * Dec 11, 2018
James Robert Deal
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Who should get vaccinated for whooping cough? [Paul Ramirez]
Paul Ramirez, Research Analyst 30 years with an IQ of 160, InFj MBTI.
DTAP is considered a very dangerous vaccine by a great many people. Its contains aluminum adjuvant which is linked as a known cause of autism. More people cite DTAP as the vaccine that triggered autism then even do the MMR.
What more is the whooping cough or pertussis vaccine does not grant any immunity from pertussis. It merely masks the symptoms. i.e. you are still susceptible to whooping cough but do not show symptoms. You can all shed live attenuated vaccines. Which means you can actually endanger others, unlike unvaccinated children, which can spread what they have not been exposed to.
Its actually even worse. Those who take the whooping cough vaccine are asymptomatic carriers. They can have caught whooping cough and not show symptoms and spread it to others without even knowing it. That is real not perceived danger, such as ascribed to the unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated that get whooping cough actually show symptoms and know better to be around others, as well as others can obviously see to keep their distance from someone coughing. You get no such warning from those vaccinated for whooping cough. They as asymptomatic carriers can fully spread it and not show symptoms, which is wrongly considered a benefit. Benefit to whom, not society at large as implied by those who profit from vaccines.
Look at the school outbreaks with whooping cough. It was the fully vaccinated that came down With it. Yet the unvaccinated did not in California.
You would be better of with high doses of vitamin D, the cough will soon subside. You will be safe as well as society.
DTP vaccine in other nations increases risk of mortality by 5x or greater. 31 views * View Upvoters
James Robert Deal
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JamesRobertDeal.org/16 Reasons Why Gov Inslee Should Have Vetoed Mandatory Vaccine Bill
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The cure for tetanus, a life-threatening and often deadly disease, has been sought from the very inception of the modern field of Immunology. The original horse anti-serum treatment of tetanus was developed in the late 19th century and introduced into clinical practice at the time when a bio-statistical concept of a randomized placebo-controlled trial (RCT) did not yet exist. The therapy was infamous for generating a serious adverse reaction called serum sickness attributed to the intolerance of humans to horse-derived serum. To make this tetanus therapy usable, it was imperative to substitute the animal origin of anti-serum with the human origin. But injecting a lethal toxin into human volunteers as substitutes for horses would have been unthinkable.
A practical solution was found in 1924: pre-treating the tetanus toxin with formaldehyde (a fixative chemical) made the toxin lose its ability to cause clinical tetanus symptoms. The formaldehyde-treated tetanus toxin is called the toxoid. The tetanus toxoid can be injected into human volunteers to produce a commercial human therapeutic product from their sera called tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG), a modern substitute of the original horse anti-serum. The tetanus toxoid has also become the vaccine against clinical tetanus.
The tetanus toxin, called tetanospasmin, is produced by numerous C. tetani bacterial strains. C. tetani normally live in animal intestines, notably in horses, without causing tetanus to their intestinal carriers. These bacteria require anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions to be active, whereas in the presence of oxygen they turn into resilient but inactive spores, which do not produce the toxin. It has been recognized that inactive tetanus spores are ubiquitous in the soil. Tetanus can result from the exposure to C. tetani via poorly managed tetanus-prone wounds or cuts, but not from oral ingestion of tetanus spores. Quite to the contrary, oral exposure to C. tetani has been found to build resistance to tetanus without carrying the risk of disease, as described in the section on Natural Resistance to Tetanus.
Once secreted by C. tetani germinating in a contaminated wound, tetanospasmin diffuses through the tissue’s interstitial fluids or bloodstream. Upon reaching nerve endings, it is adsorbed by the cell membrane of neurons and transported through nerve trunks into the central nervous system, where it inhibits the release of a neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This inhibition can result in various degrees of clinical tetanus symptoms: rigid muscular spasms, such as lockjaw, sardonic smile, and severe convulsions that frequently lead to bone fractures and death due to respiratory compromise.
Curative effects of the anti-serum therapy as well as the preventative effects of the tetanus vaccination are deemed to rely upon an antibody molecule called antitoxin. But the assumption that such antitoxin was the sole “active” ingredient in the original horse anti-serum has not been borne out experimentally. Since horses are natural carriers of tetanus spores, their bloodstream could have contained other unrecognized components, which got harnessed in the therapeutic anti-serum. Natural Resistance to Tetanus discusses other serum entities detected in research animals carrying C. tetani, which better correlated with their protection from clinical tetanus than did serum antitoxin levels. Nevertheless, the main research effort in the tetanus field remained narrowly focused on antitoxin.
Antitoxin molecules are thought to inactivate the corresponding toxin molecules by virtue of their toxin-binding capacity. This implies that to accomplish its protective effect, antitoxin must come into close physical proximity with the toxin and combine with it in a way that would prevent or preempt the toxin from binding to nerve endings. Early research on the properties of a newly discovered antitoxin was done in small-sized research animals, such as guinea pigs. The tetanus toxin was pre-incubated in a test tube with the animal’s serum containing antitoxin before being injected into another (antitoxin-free) animal, susceptible to tetanus. Such pre-incubation made the toxin lose its ability to cause tetanus in otherwise susceptible animals—i.e., the toxin was neutralized.
Nevertheless, researchers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were baffled by a peculiar observation. Research animals, whose serum contained enough antitoxin to inactivate a certain amount of the toxin in a test tube, would succumb to tetanus when they were injected with the same amount of the toxin. Furthermore, it was noted that the mode of the toxin injection had a different effect on the ability of serum antitoxin to protect the animal. The presence of antitoxin in the serum of animals afforded some degree of protection against the toxin injected directly into the bloodstream (intravenously). However, when the toxin was injected into the skin it would be as lethal to animals containing substantial levels of serum antitoxin as to animals virtually free of serum antitoxin .
The observed difference in serum antitoxin’s protective “behavior” was attributed to the toxin’s propensity to bind faster to nerve cells than to serum antitoxin. The pre-incubation of the toxin with antitoxin in a test tube, or the injection of the toxin directly into the bloodstream, where serum antitoxin is found, gives antitoxin a head start in combining with and neutralizing the toxin. However, a skin or muscle injection of the toxin does not give serum antitoxin such a head start.
Researchers in the 21st century have developed an advanced fluorescent labeling technique to track the uptake of the injected tetanus toxin into neurons. Using this technique, researchers examined the effect of serum antitoxin, which was induced by vaccinating mice with the tetanus toxoid vaccine ahead of time (the same one currently used in humans), on blocking the neuronal uptake and transport of the tetanus toxin fragment C (TTC) to the brain from the site of intramuscular injection. Vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals showed similar levels of TTC uptake into the brain . The authors of the study concluded that the “uptake of TTC by nerve terminals from an intramuscular depot is an avid and rapid process and is not blocked by vaccination.” They have further commented that their results appear to be surprising in view of protective effects of immunization with the tetanus toxoid. Indeed, the medical establishment holds a view that a tetanus shot prevents tetanus, but how do we know this view is correct?
Neonatal tetanus is common in tropical under-developed countries but is extremely rare in developed countries. This form of tetanus results from unhygienic obstetric practices, when cutting the umbilical cord is performed with unsterilized devices, potentially contaminating it with tetanus spores. Adhering to proper obstetric practices removes the risk of neonatal tetanus, but this has not been the standard of birth practices for some indigenous and rural people in the past or even present.
The authors of a neonatal tetanus study performed in the 1960s in New Guinea describe the typical conditions of childbirth among the locals :
"The mother cuts the cord 1 inch (2.5 cm) or less from the abdominal wall; it is never tied. In the past she would always use a sliver of sago bark, but now she uses a steel trade-knife or an old razor blade. These are not cleaned or sterilized in any way and no dressing is put of the cord. The child lies after birth on a dirty piece of soft bark, and the cut cord can easily become contaminated by dust from the floor of the hut or my mother’s feces expressed during childbirth, as well as by the knife and her finger."
Not surprisingly, New Guinea had a high rate of neonatal tetanus. Because improving birth practices seemed to be unachievable in places like New Guinea, subjecting pregnant women to tetanus vaccination was contemplated by public health authorities as a possible solution to neonatal tetanus.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessing the effectiveness of the tetanus vaccine in preventing neonatal tetanus via maternal vaccination was conducted in the 1960s in rural Colombia in a community with high rates of neonatal tetanus. The design of this trial has been recently reviewed by the Cochrane Collaboration for potential biases and limitations and, with minor comments, has been considered of good quality for the purposes of vaccine effectiveness (but not safety) determination . The trial established that a single dose of the tetanus vaccine given before or during pregnancy had a partial effect on preventing neonatal tetanus in the offspring: 43% reduction was observed in the tetanus vaccine group compared to the control group, which instead of the tetanus shot received a flu shot. A series of two or three tetanus booster shots, given six or more weeks apart before or during pregnancy, reduced neonatal tetanus by 98% in the tetanus vaccine group compared to the flu shot control group. The duration of the follow up in this trial was less than five years.
In addition to testing the effects of vaccination, this study has also documented a clear relationship between the incidence of neonatal tetanus and the manner in which childbirth was conducted. No babies delivered in a hospital, by a doctor or a nurse, contracted neonatal tetanus regardless of the mother’s vaccination status. On the other hand, babies delivered at home by amateur midwives had the highest rate of neonatal tetanus.
Hygienic childbirth appears to be highly effective in preventing neonatal tetanus and makes tetanus vaccination regimen during pregnancy unnecessary for women who givebirth under hygienic conditions. Furthermore, it was estimated in 1989 in Tanzania that 40% of neonatal tetanus cases still occurred in infants born to mothers who were vaccinated during pregnancy , stressing the importance of hygienic birth practices regardless of maternal vaccination status.
Tetanus in adults
Based on the protective effect of maternal vaccination in neonatal tetanus, demonstrated by an RCT and discussed above, we might be tempted to infer that the same vaccine also protects from tetanus acquired by stepping on rusty nails or incurring other tetanus-prone injuries, when administered to children or adults, either routinely or as an emergency measure. However, due to potential biologic differences in how tetanus is acquired by newborns versus by older children or adults, we should be cautious about reaching such conclusions without first having direct evidence for the vaccine effectiveness in preventing non-neonatal tetanus.
It is generally assumed that the tetanus toxin must first leach into the blood (where it would be intercepted by antitoxin, if it is already there due to timely vaccination) before it reaches nerve endings. This scenario is plausible in neonatal tetanus, as it appears that the umbilical cord does not have its own nerves . On the other hand, the secretion of the toxin by C. tetani germinating in untended skin cuts or in muscle injuries is more relevant to how children or adults might succumb to tetanus. In such cases, there could be nerve endings near germinating C. tetani, and the toxin could potentially reach such nerve endings without first going through the blood to be intercepted by vaccine-induced serum antitoxin. This scenario is consistent with the outcomes of the early experiments in mice, discussed in the beginning.
Although a major disease in tropical under-developed countries, tetanus in the USA has been very rare. In the past, tetanus occurred primarily in poor segments of the population in southern states and in Mexican migrants in California. Although tetanus incidence wasn’t reported in the pre-vaccination era, one can infer that tetanus incidence was swiftly diminishing with each decade prior to the 1950s (in the pre-vaccination era) from data on diminishing tetanus mortality and a similar case-fatality ratio of about 67-70% in the early 20th century  and the mid-20th century . The tetanus vaccine was introduced in the USA in 1947 without performing any placebo-controlled clinical trials in the segment of the civilian population (children or adults), where it is now routinely used.
The rationale for introducing the tetanus vaccine into the U.S. population, at low overall risk for tetanus anyway, was simply based on its use in the U.S. military personnel during World War II. According to a post-war report :
a) the U.S. military personnel received a series of three injections of the tetanus toxoid, routine stimulating injection was administered one year after the initial series, and an emergency stimulating dose was given on the incurrence of wounds, severe burns, or other injuries that might result in tetanus;
b) throughout the entire WWII period, 12 cases of tetanus have been documented in the U.S. Army;
c) in World War I there were 70 cases of tetanus among approximately half a million admissions for wounds and injuries, an incidence of 13.4 per 100,000 wounds. In World War II there were almost three million admissions for wounds and injuries, with a tetanus case rate of 0.44 per 100,000 wounds.
The report leads us to conclude that vaccination has played a role in tetanus reduction in wounded U.S. soldiers during WWII compared to WWI, and that this reduction vouches for the tetanus vaccine effectiveness. However, there are other factors (e.g. differences in wound care protocols, including the use of antibiotics, higher likelihood of wound contamination with horse manure rich in already active C. tetani in earlier wars, when horses were used by the cavalry, etc.), which should preclude us from uncritically assigning tetanus reduction during WWII to the effects of vaccination.
Severe and even deadly tetanus is known to occur in recently vaccinated people with high levels of serum antitoxin [11-14]. Although the skeptic might say that no vaccine is effective 100% of the time, the situation with the tetanus vaccine is quite different. In these cases of vaccine-unpreventable tetanus, vaccination was actually very effective in inducing serum antitoxin, but serum antitoxin did not appear to have helped preventing tetanus in these unfortunate individuals.
The occurrence of tetanus despite the presence of antitoxin in the serum should have raised a red flag regarding the rationale of the tetanus vaccination program. But such reports were invariably interpreted as an indication that higher than previously thought levels of serum antitoxin must be maintained to protect from tetanus, hence the need for more frequent, if not incessant, boosters. Then how much higher “than previously thought” do serum levels of antitoxin need to be to ensure protection from tetanus?
Crone & Reder (1992) have documented a curious case of severe tetanus in a 29-year old man with no pre-existing conditions and no history of drug abuse, typical among modern-day tetanus victims in the USA . In addition to the regular series of tetanus immunization and boosters ten years earlier during his military service, this patient had been hyper-immunized (immunized with the tetanus toxoid to have extremely high serum antitoxin) as a volunteer for the purposes of the commercial TIG production. He was monitored for the levels of antitoxin in his serum and, as expected, developed extremely high levels of antitoxin after the hyper-immunization procedure. Nevertheless, he incurred severe tetanus 51 days after the procedure despite clearly documented presence of serum antitoxin prior to the disease. In fact, upon hospital admission for tetanus treatment his serum antitoxin levels measured about 2,500 times higher than the level deemed protective. His tetanus was severe and required more than five weeks of hospitalization with life-saving measures. This case demonstrated that serum antitoxin has failed to prevent severe tetanus even in the amounts 2,500 times higher than what is considered sufficient for tetanus prevention in adults.
The medical establishment chooses to turn a blind eye to the lack of solid scientific evidence to substantiate our faith in the tetanus shot. It also chooses to ignore the available experimental and clinical evidence that contradicts the assumed but unproven ability of vaccine-induced serum antitoxin to reduce the risk of tetanus in anyone other than maternally-vaccinated neonates, who do not even need this vaccination measure when their umbilical cords are dealt with using sterile techniques.
Ascorbic acid in tetanus treatment
Anti-serum is not the only therapeutic measure tried in tetanus treatment. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) has also been tried. Early research on ascorbic acid has demonstrated that it too could neutralize the tetanus toxin .
In a clinical study of tetanus treatment conducted in Bangladesh in 1984, the administration of conventional procedures, including the anti-tetanus serum, to patients who contracted tetanus left 74% of them dead in the 1-12 age group and 68% dead in the 13-30 age group. In contrast, daily co-administration of one gram of ascorbic acid intravenously had cut down this high mortality to 0% in the 1-12 age group, and to 37% in the 13-30 age group . The older patients were treated with the same amount of ascorbic acid without adjustments for their body weight.
Although this was a controlled clinical trial, it is not clear from the description of the trial in the publication by Jahan et al. whether or not the assignment of patients into the ascorbic acid treatment group versus the placebo-control group was randomized and blinded, which are crucial bio-statistical requirements for avoiding various biases. A more definitive study is deemed necessary before intravenous ascorbic acid can be recommended as the standard of care in tetanus treatment . It is odd that no properly documented RCT on ascorbic acid in tetanus treatment has been attempted since 1984 for the benefit of developing countries, where tetanus has been one of the major deadly diseases. This is in stark contrast to the millions of philanthropic dollars being poured into sponsoring the tetanus vaccine implementation in the Third world.
Natural resistance to tetanus
In the early 20th century, investigators Drs. Carl Tenbroeck and Johannes Bauer pursued a line of laboratory research, which was much closer to addressing natural resistance to tetanus than the typical laboratory research on antitoxin in their days. Omitted from immunologic textbooks and the history of immunologic research, their tetanus protection experiments in guinea pigs, together with relevant serological and bacteriological data in humans, nevertheless provide a good explanation for tetanus being a rather rare disease in many countries around the world, except under the conditions of past wars.
In the experience of these tetanus researchers, the injection of dormant tetanus spores could never by itself induce tetanus in research animals. To induce tetanus experimentally by means of tetanus spores (as opposed to by injecting a ready-made toxin, which never happens under natural circumstances anyway), spores had to be premixed with irritating substances that could prevent rapid healing of the site of spore injection, thereby creating conditions conducive to spore germination. In the past, researchers used wood splinters, saponin, calcium chloride, or aleuronat (flour made with aleurone) to accomplish this task.
In 1926, already being aware that oral exposure to tetanus spores does not lead to clinical tetanus, Drs. Tenbroeck and Bauer set out to determine whether feeding research animals with tetanus spores could provide protection from tetanus induced by an appropriate laboratory method of spore injection . In their experiment, several groups of guinea pigs were given food containing distinct strains of C. tetani. A separate group of animals were used as controls—their diet was free of any C. tetani. After six months, all groups were injected under the skin with spores premixed with aleuronat. The groups that were previously exposed to spores orally did not develop any symptoms of tetanus upon such tetanus-prone spore injection, whereas the control group did. The observed protection was strain-specific, as animals still got tetanus if injected with spores from a mismatched strain—a strain they were not fed with. But when fed multiple strains, they developed protection from all of them.
Quite striking, the protection from tetanus established via spore feeding did not have anything to do with the levels of antitoxin in the serum of these animals. Instead, the protection correlated with the presence of another type of antibody called agglutinin—so named due to its ability to agglutinate (clump together) C. tetani spores in a test tube. Just like the observed protection was strain-specific, agglutinins were also strain-specific. These data are consistent with the role of strain-specific agglutinins, not of antitoxin, in natural protection from tetanus. The mechanism thereby strain-specific agglutinins have caused, or correlated with, tetanus protection in these animals has remained unexplored.
In the spore-feeding experiment, it was still possible to induce tetanus by overwhelming this natural protection in research animals. But to accomplish this task, a rather brute force procedure was required. A large number of purified C. tetani spores were sealed in a glass capsule; the capsule was injected under the skin of research animals and then crushed. Broken glass pieces were purposefully left under the skin of the poor creatures so that the gory mess was prevented from healing for a long time. Researchers could succeed in overwhelming natural tetanus defenses with this excessively harsh method, perhaps mimicking a scenario of untended war-inflicted wounds.
How do these experimental data in research animals relate to humans? In the early 20th century, not only animals but also humans were found to be intestinal carriers of C. tetani without developing tetanus. About 33% of tested human subjects living around Beijing, China were found to be C. tetani carriers without any prior or current history of tetanus disease . Bauer & Meyer (1926) cite other studies, which have reported around 25% of tested humans being healthy C. tetani carriers in other regions of China, 40% in Germany, 16% in England, and on average 25% in the USA, highest in central California and lowest on the southern coast. Based on the California study, age, gender, or occupation denoting the proximity to horses did not appear to play a role in the distribution of human C. tetani carriers.
Another study was performed back in the 1920s in San Francisco, CA . About 80% of the examined subjects had various levels of agglutinins to as many as five C. tetani strains at a time, although no antitoxin could be detected in the serum of these subjects. C. tetani organisms could not be identified in the stool of these subjects either. It is likely that tetanus spores were in their gut transiently in the past, leaving serological evidence of oral exposure, without germinating into toxin-producing organisms. It would be important to know the extent of naturally acquired C. tetani spore agglutinins in humans in various parts of the world now, instead of relying on the old data, but similar studies are not likely to be performed anymore.
Regrettably, further research on naturally acquired agglutinins and on exactly how they are involved in the protection from clinical tetanus appears to have been abandoned in favor of more lucrative research on antitoxin and vaccines. If such research continued, it would have given us clear understanding of natural tetanus defenses we may already have by virtue of our oral exposure to ubiquitous inactive C. tetani spores.
Since the extent of our natural resistance to clinical tetanus is unknown due to the lack of modern studies, all we can be certain of is that preventing dormant tetanus spores from germinating into toxin-producing microorganisms is an extremely important measure in the management of potentially contaminated skin cuts and wounds. If this crucial stage of control—at the level of preventing spore germination—is missed and the toxin production ensues, the toxin must be neutralized before it manages to reach nerve endings.
Both antitoxin and ascorbic acid exhibit toxin-neutralizing properties in a test tube. In the body, however, vaccine-induced antitoxin is located in the blood, whereas the toxin might be focally produced in the skin or muscle injury. This creates an obvious physical impediment for toxin neutralization to happen effectively, if at all, by means of vaccine-induced serum antitoxin. Furthermore, no placebo-controlled trials have ever been performed to rule out the concern about such an impediment by providing clear empirical evidence for the effectiveness of tetanus shots in children and adults. Nevertheless, the medical establishment relies upon induction of serum antitoxin and withholds ascorbic acid in tetanus prevention and treatment.
When an old medical procedure of unknown effectiveness, such as the tetanus shot, has been the standard of medical care for a long time, finalizing its effectiveness via a modern rigorous placebo-controlled trial is deemed unethical in human research. Therefore, our only hope for the advancement of tetanus care is that further investigation of the ascorbic acid therapy is performed and that this therapy becomes available to tetanus patients around the world, if confirmed effective by rigorous bio-statistical standards.
Until then, may the blind faith in the tetanus shot help us!
Disclaimer: Information presented in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.
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The BLM just released its decision on its proposed Bruneau Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project (BOSH Project) which will degrade 617,000 acres of southern Idaho by logging juniper, creating linear weed patches known as fire breaks, and using other questionable management strategies, all done, we are told in the name of enhancing sage grouse habitat.
Remarkably the BLM failed to note that livestock grazing is by far and away the biggest factor in sage grouse decline across the West, in part, because of the multiple ways that the livestock production harms the bird. But, of course, seeing its role to pander to the welfare ranchers of the West, the BLM has taken the politically expediate measure of doing more harm in the name of sage grouse.
The BLM starts out with some questionable assertions. The first is that juniper, a native species, is expanding its range and thus must be eradicated. Any number of studies challenge that assumption. Juniper woodlands tend to burn at intervals of hundreds of years, and in stand replacement blazes. After such blazes, the juniper slowly recolonizes the landscape. Also climate change has led to natural expansion of juniper in some areas. In either case, the presence of juniper is not abnormal or something to be destroyed.
Instead of even responding to such studies, the BLM relies only on studies by Range Department professors who exist to justify livestock grazing on public lands. These studies start with the incorrect assumption that wildfire was very frequent in sagebrush ecosystems and therefore, also in juniper woodlands, but more recent sagebrush fire studies also find sagebrush burns at long rotations of hundreds of years.
Beyond the fact that juniper woodlands are native and natural, the BLM advocates logging and burning which has been shown in many locations to become inoculation sites for cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is spread wherever there is disturbance. Disturbance from logging or disturbance from livestock.
Livestock by trampling soil crusts and consuming native grasses, aids the spread of cheatgrass.
Cheatgrass poses a far greater threat to sage grouse because it increases the fire frequency and burns out both juniper and sagebrush.
The other major assertion of the BLM that is equally as misleading is that creation of 200-foot-wide linear “fuel breaks”. While fuel breaks may work to some degree under low to moderate fire weather conditions, under extreme fire weather, such breaks are for the most part useless. All large fires occur under extreme fire weather conditions of drought, low humidity, high temperatures and wind, especially wind. Wind blows embers miles ahead of a flaming front. A 200-foot-wide “fuel break” has absolutely no effect on such wind-driven fires.
But such linear disturbances are wonderful pathways for the spread of weeds, including cheatgrass.
Beyond these concerns, the BLM again has ignored the multiple ways that livestock degrades sage grouse habitat. Beyond the trampling of soil crusts and spread of cheatgrass mentioned earlier, livestock fencing is a major mortality factor for the low flying birds. Fences are also perching for avian predators like raven that feed on sage grouse chicks and eggs. Livestock are also the major factor in the destruction and loss of riparian areas and wet meadows which are critical to young sage grouse chicks. Livestock also consume some of the forbs (flowers) critical for growth by sage grouse chicks. Livestock also consume the native grasses and other vegetation that would otherwise hide nesting exposing birds and young to predators. The irrigated hay fields that dot the West, usually created by eliminating the native vegetation, not only eliminates much of the native habitat for grouse, but can fragment habitat because grouse at loathe to fly across large expanses of hay meadow without cover from sagebrush.
There are other ways that livestock production harms sage grouse, but you would never know that any of these exist from the way the BLM ignores science to facilitate the use of our public lands for private profit by the West’s welfare ranchers.
This article was written by Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo LLC, where it originally appeared.
· Reflect On:
Wheat consumption has been linked to psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia for over 60 years, but recent research indicates the mind-altering properties of this popular food are, in part, caused by it cutting off blood flow to the frontal cortex.
As far back as 1954, reports of the full or partial resolution of schizophrenia following a gluten free diet began to surface in the medical literature. I explored this remarkable phenomenon in a previous article titled, “60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia.” While the explanation for this intriguing connection has remained focused on the disruption of the gut-brain axis and the presence in wheat of a wide range of pharmacologically active and mostly opioid receptor modulating polypeptideswithglutathione-depleting properties, a new and possibly more disturbing explanation is beginning to surface: wheat consumption also cuts off blood flow to the brain.
Starting with a 1997 case study published in the Journal of Internal Medicineinvolving a 33-year-old patient, with pre-existing diagnosis of ‘schizophrenic’ disorder, who first came to medical attention for severe diarrhea and weight loss (classical symptoms of gluten intolerance), brain scan technology determined that cerebral hypoperfusion (decreased blood flow to the brain) was occurring within the patient’s frontal cortex.[i] A gluten free diet resulted not only in the normalization of intestinal damage and autoantibodies, but also in the return of blood flow to the frontal cortex, and the resolution of schizophrenic symptoms.
Then, in 2004, a follow up study was performed to verify if the 1997 case study was just a fluke, or perhaps a widespread effect of untreated celiac disease. Published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University, Rome, Italy, compared 15 untreated celiac patients without neurological or psychiatric disorders other than anxiety or depression, with 15 celiac patients who were on a gluten-free diet for almost 1 year, and 24 healthy volunteers of similar sex and age. All subjects underwent cerebral single photon emission computed tomography examination.
The results were remarkable, with dramatically increased incidence of impaired brain blood flow in untreated celiac patients, reported as follows:
“Of the 15 untreated celiac patients, 11 (73%) had at least one hypoperfused brain region, compared with only 1 (7%) of the 15 celiac patients on a gluten-free diet and none of the controls (P = 0.01). Cerebral perfusion was significantly lower (P <0.05) in untreated celiac patients, compared with healthy controls, in 7 of 26 brain regions. No significant differences in cerebral perfusion were found between celiac patients on a gluten-free diet and healthy controls.”
They concluded: “There is evidence of regional cerebral blood flow alteration in untreated celiac patients.”
So, let’s take a closer look at what cerebral (brain) hypoperfusion means.
Hypoperfusion is simply decreased blood flow through an organ. Whether it is an internal organ like the kidney, a muscle or the brain, the organ will experience lower availability of oxygen (hypoxia) and nutrients, and will therefore function at a suboptimal level. Cerebral hypoperfusion, therefore, is decreased blood flow to the brain – an organ with extremely high energy demands, and upon which our entire consciousness depends.
Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Grain Brain, has made great strides in introducing the concept to the world that grains adversely affect brain health. We know that the carbohydrate content of grains alone contribute to disrupting insulin-mediated glucose homeostasis within neurons, ultimately contributing to their suboptimal functioning and in some cases demise, but the discovery that wheat in particular has blood flow disrupting properties to the frontal cortex of the brain, has profound implications.
For example, it is know that the frontal lobe house the ‘executive functions‘ of the brain, including:
· Recognizing future consequences resulting from current actions
· Choosing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ actions
· Overriding and suppressing socially unacceptable responses
· Retaining longer term memories which are not task-based.
· Determine similarities and differences between things or events.
If wheat consumption, through some as of yet unknown mechanism, interferes with blood flow to the brain in susceptible individuals, and as a result disrupts the executive functions of the brain, abstaining from it should be considered a reasonable precautionary behavior, assuming we wish to retain these critical functions related to morality, cognizance, and social responsibility. I explore other socio-political implications of the Western world’s several thousand year old love affaird with wheat, the ‘king of grains,’ in my essay The Dark Side of Wheat.
People reject the bible for many reasons and none are because it’s accurate in any way, shape, or form. I’ll give a few examples:
1. Genesis 11:31 states Abraham was from ur of the chaldees. Problem with that was ur was not conquered by the Chaldeans until 1000 years after Abraham was born
2) genesis 24:11 states Abraham had camels and was able to control them inferring they were domesticated at that time. Camels were not introduced into that land until centuries after king David
3) Zechariah 14:5 states there was an earth quake during the time of uzziah of Judah. Problem is, this likely happened in in the mid 8th century bc, hundreds of years earlier.
4) genesis 26:1, 21:34, 6:14, exodus:13:17 state that the phillistines were around the time of abraham and his progeny but the phillistines arrived in the Mediterranean in the 1200s bc hundreds of years before Abraham and over 100 years before moses
5) the noahide flood myth states there was a worldwide flood which never happened. Oceanography, history, geology, geography, anthropology etc. All prove otherwise. In matter of fact, the Egyptians nor the yazidis who lived in that area never even mention a flood and the noahide flood would have happened about the year 2409 in the yazidi calendar amd they are still here. The noahide flood is a flood myth which is a recycling of other Mesopotamian flood myths which are almost identical to noah’s. In other words, it never happened
6) the birth stories of Luke and Matthew’s gospels state Jesus was born at different times. Luke states in 6ce under quirinius and Mathew in 4bc under herod. That’s not where the problems end, both stories concoct fallacious narratives in order to make Jesus born where the prophecised messiah was supposed to be. Mathew states herod was killing newborns and so Mary and Joseph fled to save Jesus. Herod never did such a thing. Luke states that the census made people go back to their ancestral cities to be counted in the census. The census never stated such a thing. All it was looking for was the head of household of each family to collect taxes.
7) genesis 40:15 states Joseph told pharoah he came from the land of the Hebrews, there was no such thing until after the conquest of Joshua there is over 150 years between them.
8) Joshua 6:1-27 states Joshua destroyed the cities of Ai and Jericho but those cities were already in ruins hundreds of years before the life of Joshua.
There are many many more historical innacuracies but for the sake of avoiding proloxity, I’ll move to the others errors.
1. Ezekiel 26:14,21, 27:36 prophecised the destruction of tyre and would never be rebuilt, it was never destroyed and was still inhabited and didn’t need to be rebuilt
2) Ezekiel 29:16-21 states Egypt will be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, this never happened.
3) Isaiah 17:1 This verse prophesies that Damascus will be completely destroyed and no longer be inhabited. Yet Damascus has never been completely destroyed and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities.
4) Isaiah 19:17 states Judah will be a terror for Egypt. Judah never posed a threat to Egypt better yet invaded or did anything to it
5) Isaiah 50:39 states Babylon will never be inhabited again. Iraq is till and has always been inhabited after that.
6) hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt."
Matthew (2:15) claims that the flight of Jesus’ family to Egypt is a fulfillment of this verse. But Hosea 11:1 is not a prophecy at all. It is a reference to the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and has nothing to do with Jesus. Matthew tries to hide this fact by quoting only the last part of the verse ("Out of Egypt I have called my son").
7) Mathew 1:23 states that isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled by Jesus even though the word was mistranslate to “virgin” from young woman.
8) Mathew 2:17-18 states that Mary and Joseph were fleeing from herod because he was killing children (which he wasn’t) was a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15 but the next two verses of Jeremiah clearly indicate it is about Babylon.
9) Mathew 15:24 states jesus visited tyre but according to the prophecy I stated earlier Ezekiel 26:14, 21, 27:36 and 18:19 tyre wasn’t supposed to exist.
10) mark 1:2 claims that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy given in Malachi (3:1, 4:1, 5). But the Malachi prophecy says that God will send Elijah before "the great and dreadful day of the LORD" in which the world will be consumed by fire. Yet John the Baptist flatly denied that he was Elijah (Elias) in John 1:21and the earth was not destroyed after John’s appearance.
11) John 5:46 states moses wrote about him but there is not one verse moses wrote about him.
12) Peter 2:17 states speaking in tongues is to be expected because they were living in the end of days. 2000+ years later no end of times.
13) Mathew 12:40 Jesus states he will be in the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights like how Jonah was in the belly of the whale for the same amount of time. Jesus was allegedly crucified on Friday afternoon and resurrected Sunday morning. Any way you cut it that is not 3 days and 3 nights. In Israelite talk, sometimes if someone does something for a portion of a day they can say it was a whole day but this states 3 days and nights. There isn’t even 3 days and nights between Friday evening to Sunday morning.
1. Jonah 1:17 states he was swallowed by a big fish and Mathew 12:40 clarifies that big fish is a whale. Whales are not fish.
2. Genesis 30: 25-43 states that isaac was able to produced striped offspring from having his animals stare at striped poles while mating. That’s not how that works
3. Many verses from job to the psalms to revelations, Mathew, and Isaiah state the earth is flat, is immovable, and has pillars. That’s just wrong.
There are many errors but I think is is more than adequate to show the bible is in every way from its own claims to scientific and historical claims that it is inaccurate
Fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza aren’t uncommon to see on vegan menus — or even the meat-free freezer section of your local supermarket — but should we be calling these mock meat dishes the same names? A new Missouri law doesn’t think so. The state’s law, which forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry,” has led to a contentious ethical, legal and linguistic debate. Four organizations — Tofurky, The Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund — are now suing the stateon the basis that not only is the law against the United States Constitution, but it favors meat producers for unfair market competition.
While some newly formulated meat-free products, like the plant-based Beyond Burger or its rival the Impossible Burger (the veggie burger that “bleeds”), may be deceptively meat-like, it’s hard to understand how consumers could actually be duped into thinking non-meat products are legitimately meat.
“The law violates constitutional right to free speech,” explains Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney Amanda Howell. “It’s wide in scope, vague, broad and problematic. An ordinary person can’t tell you what this law is about.” Although legal jargon is often hard for the typical non-attorney to understand, Howell explains that one thing is easy for the everyday American: distinguishing plant-based meat-like products from actual meat. To date, there are zero consumer complaints on file in Missouri of shoppers confusing meat-like products with actual meat, according to Howell and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Missouri currently produces the third-highest amount of beef cattle in the US (preceded by Oklahoma, and Texas at the top spot), and the beef industry is threatened by imitation meat products, proven to be better for the environment (though Beef Magazine attempts to negate climate science) and sometimes healthier than animal-derived red meat. As food science disrupts what people think of as “meat,” the future of the livestock industry may be endangered, and that’s a threat to ranchers.
Legally, there’s no reason why fake sausage or imitation turkey can’t be labeled as such. Under the Consumer Protection Law, as long as a product’s statement of identity is “truthful and not misleading, it’s legal,” says Howell. This statement of identity informs consumers of what’s inside a package and can help inform them of how to use and eat a product. “Consumers would be more confused if they were not able to use meat-related terminology,” Howell says. “It’s pretty obvious that they’re taking away the terminology so consumers won’t know what the products are, and they’ll sound less appealing.” Vegan sausage is understandable; seasoned soy patties, not so much. “Consumers should have access to truthful information, clearly labeled [foods], instead of taking away naming conventions just because an industry is scared,” Howell says.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which takes a staunchly anti-meat stance, also stands behind using meat terms and “letting the terms ‘steak’ and ‘sausage’ evolve with the times,” according to Ben Williamson, PETA’s senior international media director.
“The meat industry is going up against a public that is learning that eating meat is responsible for tremendous animal abuse, linked to diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cancer, and is an environmental nightmare,” Williamson said. “Healthy, ethical and 100-percent humane, vegan products are a booming market, and lawmakers’ time and efforts would be better served helping transition meat producers into vegan companies.”
Linguistically, calling plant-based meat “meat” is not necessarily an issue in English. “If we go back to what meat used to mean, it referred to food in general,” says linguist Carrie Gillon. “In about 1300, the definition changed to mean animal flesh food.” But even though the definition of “meat” narrowed centuries ago, that doesn’t mean it can’t also be used more generally as language evolves. Gillon uses prototype theory to explain this — that is, the theory that each noun we use has a prototype. If you think of a bird, you may think of a wren, but a penguin is also very much a bird — it just doesn’t share all the characteristics of a stereotypical bird, like flying. This theory could also apply to meat, or non-meat meat: When we think of meat, we think animal flesh, but why not expand the definition to foods that share characteristics with meat, like the meat of a peach, perhaps, or ground tofu that mimics ground beef?
“As long as the food has something in common with meat, like texture or taste, it makes total sense to extend the word meat to plant-based proteins,” Gillon says, noting that this wouldn’t work, say, with just a block of tofu, but anything that has something in common with our prototype of meat.
For vegetarians like food blogger Lori Nelson, meat-free foods named after their animal counterparts are preferred, for clarity. “Labels like ‘vegan chicken’ save me time because I don’t eat meat. If it’s labeled ‘vegan chicken,’ I don’t have to worry about it being actual chicken,” she explains. Plus, for vegetarians who have previously eaten meat, or at least seen meat in media, these mock products’ names provide a clearer idea of what they will taste like.
“We’re just trying to ensure a level playing field for plant-based meats,” says Howell. “People want cruelty-free sausage.”
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Melissa Kravitz is a writer based in New York. She is a writing fellow at Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She’s written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Glamour, AlterNet, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Architectural Digest, Them and other publications. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Columbia University and is also at work on a forthcoming novel. Follow her on Twitter: @melissabethk.
Thanksgiving is quite a holiday. In one day, we manage to eat and enjoy 44 million turkeys, twice the number consumed at Christmas. Yes, vegetarians may live longer and vegans even more so, but the smell of a roasting turkey in the kitchen lingering in the nostrils, titillating appetites as friends and relations gather, is synonymous with Thanksgiving — a meal where it is politic to keep politics away from the table.
The enthusiastic consumption of meat in industrialized countries is one cause. The worst culprits are lamb, mutton and beef because sheep, goats and cattle are ruminants and their digestive systems release methane mostly through belching rather than the other end. Cattle emit so much greenhouse gas that if they were a country they “would be the planet’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.” They produce an astounding 270,000 tonnes of emissions over their agricultural life cycle per tonne of protein, multiple times more than pork or poultry or eggs. Transferring our carnivorous instincts from beef to poultry reduces so much emissions as to be near as good as being vegetarian although not quite.
When people ask, ‘but what can I do about climate change?’ we have an answer, ‘eat less beef.’ We can also drive less by cutting unnecessary trips — for example, grocery shopping only once a week. Turning down the thermostat in winter and up in summer to reduce energy consumption (and lower gas and electricity bills), walking or bicycling instead of driving short distances for better health and for our environment are suggestions we have heard before. It’s time we complied.
COP24 or to give it its official name the 24th Conference of the Partiesto the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is upon us (December 3rd to 14th in Katowice, Poland). Its purpose is to develop an international agreement compelling all countries to implement the Paris accord on climate change; it limits global mean temperature rise to 2 degrees C.
The U.S. government’s Fourth Climate Assessment was released Friday afternoon. A massive undertaking involving 13 Federal Agencies and 300 scientists it portrays a somber reality of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses, damage to health and a compromised quality of life. It warns of crop failures, altered coastlines, expanding wild fires and severe weather events.
The young have an answer to the tardiness of the U.S. government officialdom to act on these reports. In Eugene, Oregon, they have gone to the courts. They accuse the government of endangering their future by failing to alleviate the effects of climate change and promoting antithetical policies. Lawyers from the current and previous administrations have tried to have the case dismissed; they have requested stays all the way the Supreme Court where they were denied, and now are on a temporary stay ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow trial preparation. The District Judge has promised to issue a trial date once the Appeals Court lifts the temporary stay.
The president does not believe his own government’s climate assessment — he also does not accept the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the Jamal Khashoggi killing. Donald Trump’s perverse hostility to the organs of government is being played out not only in the embarrassing possible presence of the Crown Prince at the coming G-20 meeting but worse still in the mounting damage to the environment, in the worsening of greenhouse gasses instead of abatement, and in the decline of U.S. preeminence and influence as observed during the WWI memorial ceremonies in Paris recently.
For now let’s cheer for the kids in Eugene, Oregon … even if countries other than the U.S. produce about 88 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This country can lead by example.
Rick Dove, a founding member of Waterkeeper Alliance, lives in New Bern, North Carolina. From small planes, he and some of his colleagues have been been monitoring the millions of gallons of untreated animal waste overflowing across the state since Hurricane Florence struck the area.
Dove wrote about what he’s seen, in a piece for the Washington Post:
Though the skies were rough at first, we’ve had beautiful flying weather for the past few mornings. I’m a Marine vet who did two tours in Vietnam, but the devastation I’ve witnessed here still shocks and grieves me.
According to Dove, the 2.2 million hogs in North Carolina’s Duplin County alone produce twice as much manure as the waste produced by the entire New York City metro area—and not one ounce goes to a sewer plant.
Hog farms aren’t the only scourge on North Carolina. The state is also a favorite location for industrial chicken farms. Dove writes:
I also saw how the industrial chicken production facilities had flooded. Water had gone over the chicken barns, washing the waste from their floors down our streams. I didn’t see the corpses of animals, though I knew they were inside. In the past, the facilities used to open the doors during storms to let the animals out, but the images we collected were so horrific that the practice ended.
As global warming rages on largely unchecked, more hurricanes and more floods will lead to more environmental disasters, especially in areas populated by industrial factory farms. That’s a good reason to end industrial factory farming. But it’s hardly the only reason.
As we speak, companies like Costco are looking to expand industrial meat production, not curb it. And while Costco has its sights set on Nebraska, not North Carolina, the damage to Nebraska’s already impaired waterways will be just as devastating.
Factory farms must go. What can you do? Eat less meat—and choose meat produced by farmers who use organic regenerative practices.
THE VEGETARIAN THEME IN CHRISTIAN TRADITION
MISASSUMPTIONS ABOUT JESUS AND CHRISTIANITY
Most Christians assume that Jesus ate fish and Passover lamb and therefore could not have been a vegetarian. Most feel that their religion does not place any limits on what animals they may kill and eat. Most believe that the Christianity of today is the same as the religion of Jesus’ original followers. Most assume that Jesus was a fundamentalist. I challenge all these assumptions.
OVERVIEW: THE CONNECTION BETWEEN JESUS AND MY THEME
My thesis is this: There was a Judeo-Christian “church” before Jesus, an Essene group from which Jesus got his values. That church lasted until the early 400s, when they were scattered by the newly Christian Roman emperors. They disappear from history, save one mention by a Moslem historian in the 800s. I refer to this group loosely as “Judeo-Christian,” although they did not call themselves “Christian,” at least not initially. They probably called their church a synagogue.
My thesis is that Jesus was one of a long line of those prophets, one of the greatest. His aim was the moral perfection of humanity. Sadly, his legacy was derailed. His memory and teachings were hijacked by the Romans and their religious allies, the new gentile Christians, particularly the Latin Christians, and transmogrified into a New Testament and a Creed that get his story all wrong, omit many of his most significant ideas, and introduce ideas he would have disagreed with, first and foremost, his deification. As I like to say, Jesus did not want to be worshipped; he wanted to be followed.
Legend has it that from Adam to Noah humankind sacrificed no animals and ate no meat, which I believe indicates that there were societies which were vegetarian or which had a vegetarian religious or class priesthood. (Genesis 1:30, 9:3.) Moses tried to return Israel to the vegetarianism of the matristic Eden but failed. (Exodus 16:15; Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism, p. 6; Recognitions of Clement, 1:35 ff, Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:87-88; Numbers 11:7, 18-34.)
Moses predicted that a prophet would come after him who would complete his work. (Deuteronomy 4:12, 36.) Jesus’ followers believed Jesus was that prophet (Acts 3:22) and that Jesus’ aim was to complete Moses’ work of returning the world to its Edenic peaceful state, as it was before the patriarchal invasions. Part of Moses’ work was to eliminate animal sacrifice from the Jewish religion. Jesus shared this goal and actually shut down the sacrificial system in the Jerusalem Temple for some short period of time. (John 2:14-16.) Jesus and his immediate circle of apostles were vegetarian, and so too was his Judeo-Christian church for 400 years until it was persecuted out of existence. That’s my theory.
OVERVIEW: WHAT WAS GREAT ABOUT JESUS?
Christians generally consider Jesus to have been great because he made the cosmic sacrifice—trading his life for our sins. However, the churches acknowledge he was great for a second reason—although, they rarely mention it—and that is because of the content of his ethical teachings. The points I make here will be developed more fully below.
He took over the temple, drove out all those who bought and sold animals, and also drove out all the animals. Thus, he abolished animal sacrifices in the Temple for some period—as the messiah was to do: “In the time of the Messiah the sacrifices will cease (except that of thanksgiving).” (Pesik 9:79, “Antinomianism,” www.JewishEncyclopedia.com; see the section of this book entitled Jesus Stopped the Animal Sacrifices in the Temple, p. 179.) And he was crucified as messiah-king of the Jews. The sign on the cross said “King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:2, 25.)
Jesus and those around him were vegetarian, and his followers were encouraged to “bear what they were able” regarding eating meat, which I believe meant they were to observe a vegetarian fast at lest two days per week (Didache 8:1-2), always to avoid eating the flesh of animals killed in connection with pagan sacrifices and sold in the public market, and always to avoid cruelty to animals. The rule against “eating things strangled” was a term of art or code name that stood for the rule against eating the meat of animals tortured or painfully killed. (Acts 15:20.) It is probable that vegetarianism was not an immediate or absolute requirement but a goal to be striven for. (See the sections of this book entitled James, Brother of Jesus, p. 108, and The Burden Theme, “Bear What Thou Art Able”, p. 158.)
The Judeo-Christian movement was persecuted out of existence by the 400s, although Muslim sources make mention of it as late as the 800s. Their books were banned. They were forbidden to be copied, which meant that after a few hundred years they rotted out of existence. Probably some were burnt in the bonfires that thug monks set alight in the streets.
Jesus did not succeed in establishing his kingdom of ethical monotheism in his lifetime, but that does not mean he was a failure or that his followers will not yet someday succeed in his name. He pointed the way. He was a major player in the process that I am trying to describe in this book, the process of trying to return the world to a state of peace, justice, high ethical and environmental standards; to put an end to slavery; to find a balance between the sexes; to end child abuse; and achieve a sensitivity to the suffering of the animals.
Paul, John, and their disciples—who aimed their teachings at gentiles—completely dropped all references to Jesus as prophet and son of man. They preferred “son of god,” and not in the sense of adopted son of god but as pre-existent logos, and only-begotten son of god. They referred to Jesus as “Lord Jesus Christ,” and they used the term “christ” to mean “messiah-god” instead of “messiah-king.”
Ultimately, through a process of “christological inflation,” a term I have coined, Paul, John, and their successors made Jesus into god coequal with the father. Matthew and Luke taught Jesus was begotten of god at the time of his conception. (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35.) The author of Mark taught that Jesus became god’s son at his transfiguration or enthronement. (Mark 9:7.) Paul taught that Jesus was designated son of god and begotten at his resurrection. (Romans 1:4; Acts 13:33.) John taught Jesus was begotten of god from the beginning of time. (John 1:2.) The original Ebionites teaching was that Jesus was the natural born son of Joseph and Mary, that Jesus had been “begotten” at his baptism, meaning he had been adopted, like all Israel’s kings at their coronation, as god’s honorary and preeminent son. (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalms 2:7; Mark 1:11; Acts 10:38, 13:33; Hebrews 1:5, 5:5.)
Because the denomination known as “orthodox” or “catholic” or the “great church” was so well organized, because it so fiercely attacked all other Christian and pagan sects, and ultimately because it made an alliance with the Roman government, it ended up as the official religion and used that position to suppress or destroy all other pagan religions and all other sects of Christianity. In its many councils it perfected the theory that Jesus was the cosmic sacrifice in the Greek mystery religion sense that wiped away the sins of those who believed in him. Those who expressed doubts were excommunicated and told they would go to hell. Later, doubters were killed.
How could so much Christological inflation have occurred so quickly? See the section of this book entitled Information from Moslem-Nazarene Sources, p. 134, for my theory as to how it happened.
Christological inflation may seem a little far afield from my topic, which is the diet of Jesus and his early followers. However, bear in mind that the process of elevating Jesus to status as deity coequal with god the father included a simultaneous deemphasis of Jesus as a teacher of ethical principles about making peace, which principles included making peace with the animals. Gentile Christians found it more convenient to worship a god who demanded certain beliefs but who put few restrictions on behavior, less convenient to follow a prophet who demanded that they make great changes in their behavior, including their dietary behavior.
FOLLOW JESUS BY BEING DEEP HISTORIANS AND STUDENTS OF ETHICS
The Christianity of today focuses too much on the New Testament and too little on the many other sources of information about Jesus, too much on Jesus’ cosmic sacrifice and too little on Jesus’ ethical teachings, too much on getting forgiveness for sins and too little on stopping the sinning—including the sins we commit against innocent animals and the physical environment.
As you read this section, you will see that I am an admirer and follower of Jesus—not as the cosmic sacrifice but as our greatest teacher of peace, law, and justice. I am an admirer and follower not of the Jesus you read about in our mangled New Testament, but of the Ebionite Jesus of Judeo-Christian history.
Fundamentalists will have problems with my hypothesis that Jesus ate no meat, because the gospels clearly say Jesus ate fish, fed fish to others, and called apostles who were fishermen. (Matthew 7:10, 4:19, 14:17, 15:36, 17:27; Mark 1:17; Luke 24:42, John 6:9, 21:9. See the section of this book entitled What About the Fish Stories? p. 191, for an explanation of how the fish passages arose.)
I will discuss the surviving sources of information regarding these vegetarians. The sources are extensive, and some are right in the New Testament. The revisionist editors did a haphazard job of purging vegetarian references as they edited the gospels. And some of what we know comes from quotations which ultra-orthodox heresy fighting Church Fathers made of now lost Judeo-Christian writings.
I will have much to say about Paul, who was not a vegetarian and who was contemptuous of vegetarians. He referred to them as being weak in faith because they would not eat meat. (1 Corinthians 8: 4-13.) He was contemptuous of the Jerusalem founders of Christianity, referring to them as “superlative apostles” and the “circumcision party.” (2 Corinthians 11:5,13, 12:11; Galatians 2:12. See Paul, James, and the Jerusalem Council, p. 122.)
Why do I take a critical approach? Shouldn’t I just focus on the evidence for Jesus’ vegetarianism and leave everything else about Christianity untouched—which is what groups like the Christian Vegetarian Association do? (www.christianveg.com.) Why risk upsetting the faith of unlearned Christians? Because, simply put, the CVA approach is not convincing. It appears to focus arbitrarily on the verses that favor vegetarian theory and ignore those that disfavor it.
For me to demonstrate the high probability that Jesus was a vegetarian, I must teach you the critical method and teach you the method in full. Using this tool, you will be able to read our highly edited New Testament and understand how to tell the oldest layers from those added later. A little bit of the critical method might just be enough for you to conclude that nothing in the New Testament is true. But if I take you all the way through the process, you will come out on the other side possessing tools sufficient to understand what Jesus stood for.
There is one final reason why I take a critical approach: I think if Jesus is looking over the balcony rail and observing what goes on down here on earth, he is probably tired of Christians inflating him into something he was not and completely missing what he actually was. Clarifying who he really was is a service I think he would appreciate. Something similar could be said of poor, confused Saul of Tarsus. He would probably appreciate someone undoing all the damage he did.
Most theologians take little notice of dietary matters as they construct their theories. I believe they overlook a powerful analytical tool. A focus on diet can lead to insights they otherwise might miss. I will return to this point frequently in this chapter, so I will say no more about it here.
Essenes were strict vegetarians, and older Essenes were generally celibate. I take the position that Jesus was of Essene background, while others say he was a Pharisee. The two positions are not irreconcilable because Essenes and Pharisees respected each other and shared most beliefs and customs.
Josephus, Philo, Eusebius, and Plinius say the Essenes were vegetarians. The Essenes shared vegetarianism and many other customs with the Pythagoreans.
The quest for the historical Jesus is a worthy one. At the end of this quest we do not find a Jesus of doctrinal quibbles or a Jesus who focused on finding an innocuous inner peace.
We find instead a Jesus of action who challenged injustice and illegality and sought an end to poverty, war, slavery, subjugation of women, abuse of children and prisoners, and violence in general. We find a Jesus of compassion, ethics, and right-living, all of which extend not just to other humans but to the animals as well. As I say elsewhere, we do not find a Jesus who wanted to be worshiped but one who wanted to be followed.
It is often said that Jesus was a failed messianic pretender, such as Jesus Bar Kokhba, because he did not succeed in bring peace to the world. Even after 2,000 years, I would suggest that this might be a hasty judgment. We who are part of Jesus’ tradition may yet complete his work. Is there a time limit on how long a true prophet and messiah-king has to achieve results? Christians should not give up but should rechannel their efforts in the ethical direction in which Jesus pointed us.
It is not too late for us to learn what Jesus was challenging us to do and do it.
In the jungles of Costa Rica, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.
We published “The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.
Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But the debate this article has kicked up is less about specific facts than the article’s overarching conceit. Is it helpful, or journalistically ethical, to explore the worst-case scenarios of climate change, however unlikely they are? How much should a writer contextualize scary possibilities with information about how probable those outcomes are, however speculative those probabilities may be? What are the risks of terrifying or depressing readers so much they disengage from the issue, and what should a journalist make of those risks?
I hope, in the annotations and commentary below, I have added some context. But I also believe very firmly in the set of propositions that animated the project from the start: that the public does not appreciate the scale of climate risk; that this is in part because we have not spent enough time contemplating the scarier half of the distribution curve of possibilities, especially its brutal long tail, or the risks beyond sea-level rise; that there is journalistic and public-interest value in spreading the news from the scientific community, no matter how unnerving it may be; and that, when it comes to the challenge of climate change, public complacency is a far, far bigger problem than widespread fatalism — that many, many more people are not scared enough than are already “too scared.” In fact, I don’t even understand what “too scared” would mean. The science says climate change threatens nearly every aspect of human life on this planet, and that inaction will hasten the problems. In that context, I don’t think it’s a slur to call an article, or its writer, alarmist. I’ll accept that characterization. We should be alarmed.
Peering beyond scientific reticence.
It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.
Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole,melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built.
The Doomsday vault is fine, for now: The structure has been secured and the seeds are safe. But treating the episode as a parable of impending flooding missed the more important news. Until recently, permafrost was not a major concern of climate scientists, because, as the name suggests, it was soil that stayed permanently frozen. But Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful.In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over.
Maybe you know that already — there are alarming stories in the news every day, like those, last month, that seemed to suggest satellite data showed the globe warming since 1998 more than twice as fast as scientists had thought (in fact, the underlying story was considerably less alarming than the headlines).Or the news from Antarctica this past May, when a crack in an ice shelf grew 11 miles in six days, then kept going; the break now has just three miles to go — by the time you read this, it may already have met the open water, where it will drop into the sea one of the biggest.
But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.
In between scientific reticence and science fiction is science itself. This article is the result of dozens of interviews and exchanges with climatologists and researchers in related fields and reflects hundreds of scientific papers on the subject of climate change. What follows is not a series of predictions of what will happen — that will be determined in large part by the much-less-certain science of human response. Instead, it is a portrait of our best understanding of where the planet is heading absent aggressive action. It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency. But those scenarios, and not the present climate, are the baseline. In fact, they are our schedule.
The present tense of climate change — the destruction we’ve already baked into our future — is horrifying enough.Most people talk as if Miami and Bangladesh still have a chance of surviving; most of the scientists I spoke with assume we’ll lose them within the century, even if we stop burning fossil fuel in the next decade.Two degrees of warming used to be considered the threshold of catastrophe: tens of millions of climate refugees unleashed upon an unprepared world. Now two degrees is our goal, per the Paris climate accords, and experts give us only slim odds of hitting it. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues serial reports, often called the “gold standard” of climate research; the most recent one projects us to hit four degrees of warming by the beginning of the next century, should we stay the present course. But that’s just a median projection. The upper end of the probability curve runs as high as eight degrees — and the authors still haven’t figured out how to deal with that permafrost melt. The IPCC reports also don’t fully account for the albedo effect (less ice means less reflected and more absorbed sunlight, hence more warming); more cloud cover (which traps heat); or the dieback of forests and other flora (which extract carbon from the atmosphere).Each of these promises to accelerate warming, and the history of the planet shows that temperature can shift as much as five degrees Celsius within thirteen years. The last time the planet was even four degrees warmer, Peter Brannen points out in The Ends of the World, his new history of the planet’s major extinction events, the oceans were hundreds of feet higher.*
The Earth has experienced five mass extinctionsbefore the one we are living through now,each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into.Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 252 million years ago; it began when carbon warmed the planet by five degrees, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane in the Arctic, and ended with 97 percent of all life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster.The rate is accelerating. This is what Stephen Hawking had in mind when he said, this spring, that the species needs to colonize other planets in the next century to survive, and what drove Elon Musk, last month, to unveil his plans to build a Mars habitat in 40 to 100 years. These are nonspecialists, of course, and probably as inclined to irrational panic as you or I. But the many sober-minded scientists I interviewed over the past several months — the most credentialed and tenured in the field, few of them inclined to alarmism and many advisers to the IPCC who nevertheless criticize its conservatism — have quietly reached an apocalyptic conclusion, too: No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.
Over the past few decades, the term “Anthropocene” has climbed out of academic discourse and into the popular imagination — a name given to the geologic era we live in now, and a way to signal that it is a new era, defined on the wall chart of deep history by human intervention. One problem with the term is that it implies a conquest of nature (and even echoes the biblical “dominion”). And however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have already ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. That is what Wallace Smith Broecker, the avuncular oceanographer who coined the term “global warming,” means when he calls the planet an “angry beast.” You could also go with “war machine.” Each day we arm it more.
II. Heat Death
The bahraining of New York.
Humans, like all mammals, are heat engines; surviving means having to continually cool off, like panting dogs. For that, the temperature needs to be low enough for the air to act as a kind of refrigerant, drawing heat off the skin so the engine can keep pumping. At seven degrees of warming, that would become impossible for large portions of the planet’s equatorial band, and especially the tropics, where humidity adds to the problem; in the jungles of Costa Rica, for instance, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal.And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.
Climate-change skeptics point out that the planet has warmed and cooled many times before, but the climate window that has allowed for human life is very narrow, even by the standards of planetary history. At 11 or 12 degrees of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat.Things almost certainly won’t get that hot this century, though models of unabated emissions do bring us that far eventually. This century, and especially in the tropics, the pain points will pinch much more quickly even than an increase of seven degrees. The key factor is something called wet-bulb temperature, which is a term of measurement as home-laboratory-kit as it sounds: the heat registered on a thermometer wrapped in a damp sock as it’s swung around in the air (since the moisture evaporates from a sock more quickly in dry air, this single number reflects both heat and humidity). At present, most regions reach a wet-bulb maximum of 26 or 27 degrees Celsius; the true red line for habitability is 35 degrees. What is called heat stress comes much sooner.
Actually, we’re about there already. Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come. The five warmest summers in Europe since 1500 have all occurred since 2002, and soon, the IPCC warns, simply being outdoors that time of year will be unhealthy for much of the globe.Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015.At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer.At six, according to an assessment focused only on effects within the U.S. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the country east of the Rockies would be under more heat stress than anyone, anywhere, in the world today. As Joseph Romm has put it in his authoritative primer Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know,heat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, one of the planet’s hottest spots, and the temperature in Bahrain “would induce hyperthermia in even sleeping humans.” The high-end IPCC estimate, remember, is two degrees warmer still. By the end of the century, the World Bank has estimated, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century. Air-conditioning can help but will ultimately only add to the carbon problem; plus, the climate-controlled malls of the Arab emirates aside, it is not remotely plausible to wholesale air-condition all the hottest parts of the world, many of them also the poorest. And indeed, the crisis will be most dramatic across the Middle East and Persian Gulf, where in 2015 the heat index registered temperatures as high as 163 degrees Fahrenheit.As soon as several decades from now, the hajj will become physically impossible for the 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage each year.
It is not just the hajj, and it is not just Mecca; heat is already killing us. In the sugarcane region of El Salvador, as much as one-fifth of the population has chronic kidney disease, including over a quarter of the men, the presumed result of dehydration from working the fields they were able to comfortably harvest as recently as two decades ago. With dialysis, which is expensive, those with kidney failure can expect to live five years; without it, life expectancy is in the weeks. Of course, heat stress promises to pummel us in places other than our kidneys, too. As I type that sentence, in the California desert in mid-June, it is 121 degrees outside my door.It is not a record high.
III. The End of Food
Praying for cornfields in the tundra.
Climates differ and plants vary, but the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent.Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent.Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them. And proteins are worse: It takes 16 calories of grain to produce just a single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent its life polluting the climate with methane farts.
Pollyannaish plant physiologists will point out that the cereal-crop math applies only to those regions already at peak growing temperature, and they are right — theoretically, a warmer climate will make it easier to grow corn in Greenland. But as the pathbreaking work by Rosamond Naylor and David Battisti has shown, the tropics are already too hot to efficiently grow grain, and those places where grain is produced today are already at optimal growing temperature — which means even a small warming will push them down the slope of declining productivity. And you can’t easily move croplands north a few hundred miles, because yields in places like remote Canada and Russia are limited by the quality of soil there; it takes many centuries for the planet to produce optimally fertile dirt.
Drought might be an even bigger problem than heat, with some of the world’s most arable land turning quickly to desert.Precipitation is notoriously hard to model, yet predictions for later this century are basically unanimous: unprecedented droughts nearly everywhere food is today produced.By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American dust bowl ever was.The same will be true in Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East; some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, Africa, and South America; and the breadbasket regions of China. None of these places, which today supply much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of any. As for the original dust bowl: The droughts in the American plains and Southwest would not just be worse than in the 1930s, a 2015 NASA study predicted, but worse than any droughts in a thousand years — and that includes those that struck between 1100 and 1300, which “dried up all the rivers East of the Sierra Nevada mountains” and may have been responsible for the death of the Anasazi civilization.
Remember, we do not live in a world without hunger as it is. Far from it: Most estimates put the number of undernourished at 800 million globally. In case you haven’t heard, this spring has already brought an unprecedented quadruple famine to Africa and the Middle East; the U.N. has warned that separate starvation events in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen could kill 20 million this year alone.
IV. Climate Plagues
What happens when the bubonic ice melts?
Rock, in the right spot, is a record of planetary history, eras as long as millions of years flattened by the forces of geological time into strata with amplitudes of just inches, or just an inch, or even less. Ice works that way, too, as a climate ledger, but it is also frozen history, some of which can be reanimated when unfrozen. There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years — in some cases, since before humans were around to encounter them. Which means our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge from the ice.
The Arctic also stores terrifying bugs from more recent times. In Alaska, already, researchers have discovered remnants of the 1918 flu that infected as many as 500 million and killed as many as 100 million — about 5 percent of the world’s population and almost six times as many as had died in the world war for which the pandemic served as a kind of gruesome capstone. As the BBC reported in May, scientists suspect smallpox and the bubonic plague are trapped in Siberian ice, too — an abridged history of devastating human sickness, left out like egg salad in the Arctic sun.
Experts caution that many of these organisms won’t actually survive the thaw and point to the fastidious lab conditions under which they have already reanimated several of them — the 32,000-year-old “extremophile” bacteria revived in 2005,an 8 million-year-old bug brought back to life in 2007,the 3.5 million–year–old one a Russian scientist self-injected just out of curiosity — to suggest that those are necessary conditions for the return of such ancient plagues.But already last year, a boy was killed and 20 others infected by anthrax released when retreating permafrost exposed the frozen carcass of a reindeer killed by the bacteria at least 75 years earlier; 2,000 present-day reindeer were infected, too, carrying and spreading the disease beyond the tundra.
What concerns epidemiologists more than ancient diseases are existing scourges relocated, rewired, or even re-evolved by warming. The first effect is geographical. Before the early-modern period, when adventuring sailboats accelerated the mixing of peoples and their bugs, human provinciality was a guard against pandemic. Today, even with globalization and the enormous intermingling of human populations, our ecosystems are mostly stable, and this functions as another limit, but global warming will scramble those ecosystems and help disease trespass those limits as surely as Cortés did. You don’t worry much about dengue or malaria if you are living in Maine or France. But as the tropics creep northward and mosquitoes migrate with them, you will. You didn’t much worry about Zika a couple of years ago, either.
As it happens, Zika may also be a good model of the second worrying effect — disease mutation. One reason you hadn’t heard about Zika until recently is that it had been trapped in Uganda; another is that it did not, until recently, appear to cause birth defects. Scientists still don’t entirely understand what happened, or what they missed. But there are things we do know for sure about how climate affects some diseases: Malaria, for instance, thrives in hotter regions not just because the mosquitoes that carry it do, too, but because for every degree increase in temperature, the parasite reproduces ten times faster.Which is one reason that the World Bank estimates that by 2050, 5.2 billion people will be reckoning with it.
V. Unbreathable Air
A rolling death smog that suffocates millions.
Our lungs need oxygen, but that is only a fraction of what we breathe. The fraction of carbon dioxide is growing: It just crossed 400 parts per million, and high-end estimates extrapolating from current trends suggest it will hit 1,000 ppm by 2100. At that concentration, compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.
Other stuff in the hotter air is even scarier, with small increases in pollution capable of shortening life spans by ten years. The warmer the planet gets, the more ozone forms, and by mid-century, Americans will likely suffer a 70 percent increase in unhealthy ozone smog, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has projected.By 2090, as many as 2 billion people globally will be breathing air above the WHO “safe” level; one paper last month showed that, among other effects, a pregnant mother’s exposure to ozone raises the child’s risk of autism (as much as tenfold, combined with other environmental factors).Which does make you think again about the autism epidemic in West Hollywood.
Already, more than 10,000 people die each day from the small particles emitted from fossil-fuel burning; each year, 339,000 people die from wildfire smoke, in part because climate change has extended forest-fire season (in the U.S., it’s increased by 78 days since 1970). By 2050, according to the U.S. Forest Service, wildfires will be twice as destructive as they are today; in some places, the area burned could grow fivefold. What worries people even more is the effect that would have on emissions, especially when the fires ravage forests arising out of peat. Peatland fires in Indonesia in 1997, for instance, added to the global CO2 release by up to 40 percent, and more burning only means more warming only means more burning. There is also the terrifying possibility that rain forests like the Amazon, which in 2010 suffered its second “hundred-year drought” in the space of five years, could dry out enough to become vulnerable to these kinds of devastating, rolling forest fires — which would not only expel enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere but also shrink the size of the forest. That is especially bad because the Amazon alone provides 20 percent of our oxygen.
Then there are the more familiar forms of pollution. In 2013, melting Arctic ice remodeled Asian weather patterns, depriving industrial China of the natural ventilation systems it had come to depend on, which blanketed much of the country’s north in an unbreathable smog.Literally unbreathable.A metric called the Air Quality Index categorizes the risks and tops out at the 301-to-500 range, warning of “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly” and, for all others, “serious risk of respiratory effects”; at that level, “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.”The Chinese “airpocalypse” of 2013 peaked at what would have been an Air Quality Index of over 800.That year, smog was responsible for a third of all deaths in the country.
VI. Perpetual War
The violence baked into heat.
Climatologists are very careful when talking about Syria.They want you to know that while climate change did produce a drought that contributed to civil war, it is not exactly fair to say that the conflict is the result of warming; next door, for instance, Lebanon suffered the same crop failures. But researchers like Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang have managed to quantify some of the non-obvious relationships between temperature and violence: For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.
This is one reason that, as nearly every climate scientist I spoke to pointed out, the U.S. military is obsessed with climate change: The drowning of all American Navy bases by sea-level rise is trouble enough, but being the world’s policeman is quite a bit harder when the crime rate doubles. Of course, it’s not just Syria where climate has contributed to conflict. Some speculate that the elevated level of strife across the Middle East over the past generation reflects the pressures of global warming — a hypothesis all the more cruel considering that warming began accelerating when the industrialized world extracted and then burned the region’s oil.
What accounts for the relationship between climate and conflict? Some of it comes down to agriculture and economics; a lot has to do with forced migration, already at a record high, with at least 65 million displaced people wandering the planet right now.But there is also the simple fact of individual irritability.Heat increases municipal crime rates, and swearing on social media, and the likelihood that a major-league pitcher, coming to the mound after his teammate has been hit by a pitch, will hit an opposing batter in retaliation. And the arrival of air-conditioning in the developed world, in the middle of the past century, did little to solve the problem of the summer crime wave.
VII. Permanent Economic Collapse
Dismal capitalism in a half-poorer world.
The murmuring mantra of global neoliberalism, which prevailed between the end of the Cold War and the onset of the Great Recession, is that economic growth would save us from anything and everything.
But in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, a growing number of historians studying what they call “fossil capitalism” have begun to suggest that the entire history of swift economic growth, which began somewhat suddenly in the 18th century, is not the result of innovation or trade or the dynamics of global capitalism but simply our discovery of fossil fuels and all their raw power — a onetime injection of new “value” into a system that had previously been characterized by global subsistence living. Before fossil fuels, nobody lived better than their parents or grandparents or ancestors from 500 years before, except in the immediate aftermath of a great plague like the Black Death, which allowed the lucky survivors to gobble up the resources liberated by mass graves. After we’ve burned all the fossil fuels, these scholars suggest, perhaps we will return to a “steady state” global economy. Of course, that onetime injection has a devastating long-term cost: climate change.
The most exciting research on the economics of warming has also come from Hsiang and his colleagues, who are not historians of fossil capitalism but who offer some very bleak analysis of their own: Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (an enormous number, considering we count growth in the low single digits as “strong”). This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor). Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier: There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline. By comparison, the Great Recession lowered global GDP by about 6 percent, in a onetime shock; Hsiang and his colleagues estimate a one-in-eight chance of an ongoing and irreversible effect by the end of the century that is eight times worse.
The scale of that economic devastation is hard to comprehend, but you can start by imagining what the world would look like today with an economy half as big, which would produce only half as much value, generating only half as much to offer the workers of the world. It makes the grounding of flights out of heat-stricken Phoenix last month seem like pathetically small economic potatoes. And, among other things, it makes the idea of postponing government action on reducing emissions and relying solely on growth and technology to solve the problem an absurd business calculation. Every round-trip ticket on flights from New York to London, keep in mind, costs the Arctic three more square meters of ice.
VIII. Poisoned Oceans
Sulfide burps off the skeleton coast.
That the sea will become a killer is a given. Barring a radical reduction of emissions, we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century.A third of the world’s major cities are on the coast, not to mention its power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice-paddy empires, and even those above ten feet will flood much more easily, and much more regularly, if the water gets that high.At least 600 million people live within ten meters of sea level today.
But the drowning of those homelands is just the start. At present, more than a third of the world’s carbon is sucked up by the oceans — thank God, or else we’d have that much more warming already. But the result is what’s called “ocean acidification,” which, on its own, may add a half a degree to warming this century. It is also already burning through the planet’s water basins — you may remember these as the place where life arose in the first place. You have probably heard of “coral bleaching” — that is, coral dying — which is very bad news, because reefs support as much as a quarter of all marine life and supply food for half a billion people.Ocean acidification will fry fish populations directly, too, though scientists aren’t yet sure how to predict the effects on the stuff we haul out of the ocean to eat; they do know that in acid waters, oysters and mussels will struggle to grow their shells, and that when the pH of human blood drops as much as the oceans’ pH has over the past generation, it induces seizures, comas, and sudden death.
That isn’t all that ocean acidification can do. Carbon absorption can initiate a feedback loop in which underoxygenated waters breed different kinds of microbes that turn the water still more “anoxic,” first in deep ocean “dead zones,” then gradually up toward the surface.There, the small fish die out, unable to breathe, which means oxygen-eating bacteria thrive, and the feedback loop doubles back. This process, in which dead zones grow like cancers, choking off marine life and wiping out fisheries, is already quite advanced in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and just off Namibia, where hydrogen sulfide is bubbling out of the sea along a thousand-mile stretch of land known as the “Skeleton Coast.” The name originally referred to the detritus of the whaling industry, but today it’s more apt than ever. Hydrogen sulfide is so toxic that evolution has trained us to recognize the tiniest, safest traces of it, which is why our noses are so exquisitely skilled at registering flatulence. Hydrogen sulfide is also the thing that finally did us in that time 97 percent of all life on Earth died, once all the feedback loops had been triggered and the circulating jet streams of a warmed ocean ground to a halt — it’s the planet’s preferred gas for a natural holocaust. Gradually, the ocean’s dead zones spread, killing off marine species that had dominated the oceans for hundreds of millions of years, and the gas the inert waters gave off into the atmosphere poisoned everything on land. Plants, too. It was millions of years before the oceans recovered.
IX. The Great Filter
Our present eeriness cannot last.
So why can’t we see it? In his recent book-length essay The Great Derangement, the Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh wonders why global warming and natural disaster haven’t become major subjects of contemporary fiction — why we don’t seem able to imagine climate catastrophe, and why we haven’t yet had a spate of novels in the genre he basically imagines into half-existence and names “the environmental uncanny.” “Consider, for example, the stories that congeal around questions like, ‘Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell?’ or ‘Where were you on 9/11?’ ” he writes. “Will it ever be possible to ask, in the same vein, ‘Where were you at 400 ppm?’ or ‘Where were you when the Larsen B ice shelf broke up?’ ” His answer: Probably not, because the dilemmas and dramas of climate change are simply incompatible with the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, especially in novels, which tend to emphasize the journey of an individual conscience rather than the poisonous miasma of social fate.
Surely this blindness will not last — the world we are about to inhabit will not permit it. In a six-degree-warmer world, the Earth’s ecosystem will boil with so many natural disasters that we will just start calling them “weather”: a constant swarm of out-of-control typhoons and tornadoes and floods and droughts, the planet assaulted regularly with climate events that not so long ago destroyed whole civilizations. The strongest hurricanes will come more often, and we’ll have to invent new categories with which to describe them; tornadoes will grow longer and wider and strike much more frequently, and hail rocks will quadruple in size. Humans used to watch the weather to prophesy the future; going forward, we will see in its wrath the vengeance of the past. Early naturalists talked often about “deep time” — the perception they had, contemplating the grandeur of this valley or that rock basin, of the profound slowness of nature. What lies in store for us is more like what the Victorian anthropologists identified as “dreamtime,” or “everywhen”: the semi-mythical experience, described by Aboriginal Australians, of encountering, in the present moment, an out-of-time past, when ancestors, heroes, and demigods crowded an epic stage. You can find it already watching footage of an iceberg collapsing into the sea — a feeling of history happening all at once.
It is. Many people perceive climate change as a sort of moral and economic debt, accumulated since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and now come due after several centuries — a helpful perspective, in a way, since it is the carbon-burning processes that began in 18th-century England that lit the fuse of everything that followed. But more than half of the carbon humanity has exhaled into the atmosphere in its entire history has been emitted in just the past three decades; since the end of World War II, the figure is 85 percent. Which means that, in the length of a single generation, global warming has brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe, and that the story of the industrial world’s kamikaze mission is also the story of a single lifetime. My father’s, for instance: born in 1938, among his first memories the news of Pearl Harbor and the mythic Air Force of the propaganda films that followed, films that doubled as advertisements for imperial-American industrial might; and among his last memories the coverage of the desperate signing of the Paris climate accords on cable news, ten weeks before he died of lung cancer last July. Or my mother’s: born in 1945, to German Jews fleeing the smokestacks through which their relatives were incinerated, now enjoying her 72nd year in an American commodity paradise, a paradise supported by the supply chains of an industrialized developing world. She has been smoking for 57 of those years, unfiltered.
Or the scientists’. Some of the men who first identified a changing climate (and given the generation, those who became famous were men) are still alive; a few are even still working. Wally Broecker is 84 years old and drives to work at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory across the Hudson every day from the Upper West Side. Like most of those who first raised the alarm, he believes that no amount of emissions reduction alone can meaningfully help avoid disaster. Instead, he puts his faith in carbon capture — untested technology to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which Broecker estimates will cost at least several trillion dollars — and various forms of “geoengineering,” the catchall name for a variety of moon-shot technologies far-fetched enough that many climate scientists prefer to regard them as dreams, or nightmares, from science fiction. He is especially focused on what’s called the aerosol approach — dispersing so much sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere that when it converts to sulfuric acid, it will cloud a fifth of the horizon and reflect back 2 percent of the sun’s rays, buying the planet at least a little wiggle room, heat-wise. “Of course, that would make our sunsets very red, would bleach the sky, would make more acid rain,” he says. “But you have to look at the magnitude of the problem. You got to watch that you don’t say the giant problem shouldn’t be solved because the solution causes some smaller problems.” He won’t be around to see that, he told me. “But in your lifetime …”
Jim Hansen is another member of this godfather generation. Born in 1941, he became a climatologist at the University of Iowa, developed the groundbreaking “Zero Model” for projecting climate change, and later became the head of climate research at NASA, only to leave under pressure when, while still a federal employee, he filed a lawsuit against the federal government charging inaction on warming (along the way he got arrested a few times for protesting, too).The lawsuit, which is brought by a collective called Our Children’s Trust and is often described as “kids versus climate change,” is built on an appeal to the equal-protection clause, namely, that in failing to take action on warming, the government is violating it by imposing massive costs on future generations; it is scheduled to be heard this winter in Oregon district court.Hansen has recently given up on solving the climate problem with a carbon tax alone, which had been his preferred approach, and has set about calculating the total cost of the additional measure of extracting carbon from the atmosphere.
Hansen began his career studying Venus, which was once a very Earth-like planet with plenty of life-supporting water before runaway climate change rapidly transformed it into an arid and uninhabitable sphere enveloped in an unbreathable gas; he switched to studying our planet by 30, wondering why he should be squinting across the solar system to explore rapid environmental change when he could see it all around him on the planet he was standing on. “When we wrote our first paper on this, in 1981,” he told me, “I remember saying to one of my co-authors, ‘This is going to be very interesting. Sometime during our careers, we’re going to see these things beginning to happen.’ ”
Several of the scientists I spoke with proposed global warming as the solution to Fermi’s famous paradox, which asks, If the universe is so big, then why haven’t we encountered any other intelligent life in it? The answer, they suggested, is that the natural life span of a civilization may be only several thousand years, and the life span of an industrial civilization perhaps only several hundred. In a universe that is many billions of years old, with star systems separated as much by time as by space, civilizations might emerge and develop and burn themselves up simply too fast to ever find one another. Peter Ward, a charismatic paleontologist among those responsible for discovering that the planet’s mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas, calls this the “Great Filter”: “Civilizations rise, but there’s an environmental filter that causes them to die off again and disappear fairly quickly,” he told me. “If you look at planet Earth, the filtering we’ve had in the past has been in these mass extinctions.” The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming.
And yet, improbably, Ward is an optimist. So are Broecker and Hansen and many of the other scientists I spoke to. We have not developed much of a religion of meaning around climate change that might comfort us, or give us purpose, in the face of possible annihilation. But climate scientists have a strange kind of faith: We will find a way to forestall radical warming, they say, because we must.
It is not easy to know how much to be reassured by that bleak certainty, and how much to wonder whether it is another form of delusion; for global warming to work as parable, of course, someone needs to survive to tell the story. The scientists know that to even meet the Paris goals, by 2050, carbon emissions from energy and industry, which are still rising, will have to fall by half each decade; emissions from land use (deforestation, cow farts, etc.) will have to zero out; and we will need to have invented technologies to extract, annually, twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as the entire planet’s plants now do. Nevertheless, by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans — a confidence perhaps bolstered by their appreciation for climate change, which is, after all, a human invention, too. They point to the Apollo project, the hole in the ozone we patched in the 1980s, the passing of the fear of mutually assured destruction. Now we’ve found a way to engineer our own doomsday, and surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another. The planet is not used to being provoked like this, and climate systems designed to give feedback over centuries or millennia prevent us — even those who may be watching closely — from fully imagining the damage done already to the planet. But when we do truly see the world we’ve made, they say, we will also find a way to make it livable. For them, the alternative is simply unimaginable.
*A version of this article appears in the July 10, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.
In the Midwest, farmers obey orders and blast the chemical even after they have harvested their crops; according to directives, glyphosate is used as some sort of weed prevention through the winter to keep resistant plants from coming up in the spring. In the spring, large trucks can even be seen blasting glyphosate along the highways, right into the ditches, adjacent to yards. Small town gardeners aren’t even safe from glyphosate, as nearby sprayers do not care about other people’s property.
MORE EVIDENCE THAT GLYPHOSATE ACCUMULATES IN ANIMAL TISSUE
Now, new lab tests by the Alliance for Natural Health-USA provide more evidence that glyphosate persists throughout nature and accumulates in animal tissues. This is a devastating reality, because the chemical works as an antibiotic and depletes the human microbiome, ravaging a person’s digestive system and subsequent ability to assimilate nutrients and activate immune responses.
Honestly, this herbicide is one of the main terrors causing the cancer epidemic, blocking the ability of people to utilize nutrition properly in their bodies.
GLYPHOSATE TAINTING ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTS
This silently destructive herbicide is even finding its way into organic soils, and can now be measured in products that were once considered safe from the horrors of chemical contamination. New lab tests conducted by the ANH-USA, find that glyphosate has made its way into a plethora of breakfast products, including oatmeal; organic, cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs; organic whole wheat bread; organic bagels; and organic coffee creamer. See the lab results.
This is a nightmare scenario for anyone who is looking to maintain their health from the ground up. Consumers who want to avoid toxins like glyphosate tend to buy certified organic foods. How can organic food be trusted as a clean source of nutrition, if glyphosate is silently making its way into these products too?
The Environmental Protection Agency has set an “allowable daily intake” level of glyphosate in different food products, but what do these “allowable” levels of glyphosate do to the body over time? How can any level of glyphosate be considered safe in water, when one understands the all-important role water serves for every cell in the body?
As reported by Health Impact News, the newest tests searching for glyphosate included 24 popular breakfast foods and ingredients. Glyphosate was measured in products such as flour, corn flakes, bagels, yogurt, potatoes, organic eggs and coffee creamers. Consumer advocates believe that the levels are too high, even though they fall under the “allowable” levels set by the EPA. When did chemical contamination of organic food products become an acceptable, “allowable” trend?
Most of the foods tested are derived from non-Roundup Ready crops. For these foods to have even a trace of glyphosate is appalling. The most worrisome products that glyphosate was found in were organic eggs and dairy creamers. These products are never sprayed directly with glyphosate. This is clear evidence that the toxic herbicide is being taken up into animal tissues and building up, ultimately exposing humans to the effects thereof.
How is this affecting everyone’s genes over time?
We can no longer afford to watch the consequences roll out before us.
Avoid glyphosate. Confront its use. Know the causes behind disease, especially cancer. Defend your future.
At first sight, this voluminous and (too) large-format book appears to be an amateur issue. And at second sight it is just that – in the word’s best sense. I learnt a lot from it.
The author stopped his studies of theology due to the theological problem: “I took my religion seriously, but I also took my science seriously. The teachings of my church often conflicted with my academic studies.” This is why Deal holds two bachelors, one master degree and ½ M.Div. Small wonder that the whole book is characterized by this non-conformist and open-minded view of life, planet, history, religion and ethical nutrition (Deal is vegan since 1981, when hardly anyone knew this term!).
His peak experience started with his question during a starlit summer night: “How can I know which way to go?” and left him with the answer: “Search for truth and follow it wherever it leads you. And don’t fear the truth you will find. Truth is the one thing not to fear.” Consequently, his approach to ethical nutrition is by no means dogmatic but rather unconventional, down-to-earth, multi-faceted – and tastefully illustrated with drawings of (admittedly differing) artistical skill.
And practical at that: Cooking recipes make for almost fifty pages of this volume which starts with a ten-page table of contents and concludes with “vegetablearian songs”.
If you’ve ever had qualms about eating genetically modified (GM) foods, you’d likely be deeply concerned about receiving a GM vaccine as well.
Such vaccines are already being produced – some are even on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended vaccine schedule – even though, as is the case with GM foods, we know very little about their long-term effects.
In the interview above, Vicky Debold, PhD, RN, director of research and patient safety with the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), spoke with me about the many reasons to be very wary of this new technology, which is far more intertwined with other biotech “innovations,” like GM food, than you might think.
Nobody Knows What Happens When You Inject People with GM Vaccines
There have been some fair warnings, though. In 2006, researchers wrote in theJournalof Toxicology and Environmental Health:1
”Genetically modified (GM) viruses and genetically engineered virus-vector vaccines possess significant unpredictability and a number of inherent harmful potential hazards… Horizontal transfer of genes… is well established. New hybrid virus progenies resulting from genetic recombination between genetically engineered vaccine viruses and their naturally occurring relatives may possess totally unpredictable characteristics with regard to host preferences and disease-causing potentials.
…There is inadequate knowledge to define either the probability of unintended events or the consequences of genetic modifications.”
Though this was six years ago, little has changed even as the technology has advanced. Today we have several different types of GM vaccines in production, development or research phases, such as:
DNA vaccines: DNA for a microbe’s antigens are introduced into the body, with the expectation that your cells will take up that DNA, which then instructs your cells to make antigen molecules. As the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (a division of the National Institutes of Health) put it, “In other words, the body’s own cells become vaccine-making factories.”2
Naked DNA vaccines: A type of DNA vaccine in which microscopic particles coated with DNA are administered directly into your cells.
Recombinant Vector vaccines: Similar to DNA vaccines, but they use a virus or bacteria to act as a vector (or “carrier) to introduce microbial DNA into your cells.
There are experimental GM vaccines being developed that use tumorigenic cancer cells and cells from humans, dogs, monkeys, cows, pigs, rodents, birds and insects. What happens when foreign DNA is inserted into the human body is a mystery. Will it trigger undesirable changes in human cells or tissues? Will it combine or exchange genetic material with human DNA? Will it transfer to future generations? No one knows…
”We don’t know what portion of the [GM] DNA can be incorporated into our own genome, we don’t know what portion could be inheritable to our children, we also don’t know what happens when the immune system is exposed to DNA that has been recombined in lots of ways that the human body, through the course of time, has never had any exposure to… what diseases of the immune system may occur because of these exposures,” Debold said.
”Use of foreign DNA in various forms has the potential to cause a great deal of trouble, not only because there is the potential for it to recombine with our own DNA, there is the potential for it to turn the DNA ‘switches,’ the epigenetic parts of the DNA, on and off.”
Vaccine Adjuvants Used in GM Vaccines May be Even More Toxic Than Usual
An adjuvant is added to a vaccine in order to boost the body’s immune reaction to the viral or bacterial antigen contained in a vaccine. Under ideal circumstances, the antigen is what your body responds to and makes antibodies against (e.g. the lab altered viral or bacterial organisms being injected). By boosting your body’s immune response in this artificial way, the vaccine manufacturer can use a smaller amount of antigen, which makes production less expensive and the product more profitable (although definitely not safer, as adjuvants are usually foreign substances, metals or chemicals which can cause the immune system to overreact and attack the host body.)
Aluminum is a common vaccine adjuvant and also a well-known neurotoxin that can cause chronic inflammation in the body, including the brain. Although aluminum adjuvants have been added to inactivated vaccines used for decades in the U.S.,aluminum-based adjuvants are not strong enough for GM vaccines, according to Debold, so drug companies are primarily interested in using oil-based adjuvants, like squalene, and other substances that can hyper-stimulate the body’s immune response.
While oil-based vaccine adjuvants like squalene have been proven to generate powerful acute inflammatory immune responses that stimulate increased production of antibodies, they have also been associated with unresolved, chronic inflammation in the body that can cause brain and immune system dysfunction, including autoimmune diseases.3 While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far not licensed any vaccines distributed in the U.S. that contain squalene as an adjuvant, squalene adjuvants are used in some vaccines sold in Europe and other countries.
GM Vaccines You May Have Given to Your Kids…
Many are unaware that, despite the completely unknown long-term health consequences, GM vaccines are already in use and have been administered to American infants, children and adults for many years. Among them:
Hepatitis B vaccine: An inactivated recombinant DNA vaccine licensed for newborn infants and children in 1991, in which parts of the hepatitis B virus gene are cloned into yeast
Rotavirus vaccine: Live attenuated vaccines first licensed for infants and children licensed in 2006, which either contain genetically engineered human rotavirus strains or human-bovine hybridized reassortment rotavirus strains4
HPV vaccine (Gardasil or Cervarix): A recombinant vaccine licensed in 2006, which is prepared from virus-like particles (VLP’s) and may also include use of an insect-cell Baculovirus expression vector system for production
Then there are those “hybrid” vaccines that cross the (very narrow) threshold into the GM food realm… for instance, goats are being genetically engineered to become “pharm animals” that carry vaccines in their milk. If the experiments being conducted by researchers from Texas A&M are successful, they will produce an “edible” malaria vaccine, with the ultimate goal being that children drinking the milk will become vaccinated in the process. If vaccines in your milk sounds a bit to “out there,” it shouldn’t, as there are many connections between the companies that make GM food and those that make GM vaccines.
The Close Ties Between GM Foods and GM Vaccines
The companies that make vaccines and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are deeply intertwined, only recently spinning off or merging to specialize in one or the other. Most vaccine revenues are earned by five companies that together held nearly 80 percent of the market in 2010:5
Merck & Co.
These companies, which use genetic engineering to produce vaccines, are also primarily responsible for the introduction of genetic engineering into the food supply. For instance:
Genetic engineering giant Syngenta (third in total sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market) is the progeny of parent companies Novartis and AstraZeneca.
In 2001, Bayer CropScience became a leading genetically engineered crop producer with its purchase of Aventis’ agribusiness division.6
In 2004, Aventis merged with and into Sanofi. The new Sanofi-Aventis Group became the world’s 3rd largest pharmaceutical company. Aventis Pasteur, the vaccine division of Sanofi-Aventis Group, changed its name to Sanofi Pasteur. Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccines division of Sanofi Group. It is the largest company in the world devoted entirely to vaccines.
Prior to splitting its genetically engineered crop business from its vaccine business, Aventis was known primarily for the StarLink corn debacle (a type of GM corn grown for use in animal feed that contaminated the U.S. food supply in 2000). Bayer now sells Aventis’s Liberty Link crops, engineered to tolerate high doses of the company’s toxic herbicide called Liberty (glufosinate).7
Stauffer Seeds was a spin-off of Stauffer Chemical, formerly a division of Novartis.8 Stauffer Seeds and Prodigene conducted clinical trials on pigs using an edible vaccine for transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) expressed in corn.9
Prodigene was caught contaminating the food supply with its edible vaccine and the company went out of business, but not before it received a $6-million investment from the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, chaired by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Vilsack, now the Obama Administration’s USDA Secretary, didn’t want any restrictions placed on experimental pharma crops. In reaction to suggestions that pharma crops should be kept away from food crops, Vilsack argued that ‘we should not overreact and hamstring this industry.’10
Prior to 1997, Monsanto (the world leader in GM crops) operated under three parts, the Ag Business (for agricultural products), the Chemicals Business, and the Pharmaceuticals Business, which is now Pharmacia, a subsidiary of Pfizer, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world and the largest manufacturer of vaccines for food animals.11, 12
GlaxoSmithKline, while producing few products for food or agriculture, has been genetically engineering plants, animals and microorganisms for use in vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical research.13
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet Supporting Propagation of Both Vaccines and GMOs
The most influential, and, of course, richest advocates for genetic engineering and vaccines are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They have business as well as philanthropic interests in these technologies and their Gates Foundation (Buffet has donated over $1.5 billion to the Foundation) allows them to mix business with philanthropy.
They – and the corporations they invite to join them – use the tax shelter of a non-profit organization to invest in for-profit enterprises. Gates & Buffet get tax write-offs for putting money in their foundation, but their foundation can give money (both as grants & investments) directly to for-profit corporations creating for-profit products.
This, obviously, creates huge conflict of interests.
For instance, Monsanto and other biotech companies have collaborated with the Gates Foundation via the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to promote the use of genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa. The Gates Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to AGRA, and in 2006 Robert Horsch was hired for the AGRA project. Horsch was a Monsanto executive for 25 years. In a nutshell, the project may be sold under the banner of altruism and ‘sustainability,’ but in reality it’s anything but. It’s just a multi-billion dollar enterprise to transform Africa into a GM-crop-friendly continent. The Foundation has also invested heavily in Monsanto stock, purchasing over $23 million worth in 2010.14
The Gates Foundation is also closely partnered with Big Pharma, to whom Bill Gates pledged $10 billion to distribute and administer multiple vaccines to children around the world. This, too, is billed as a humanitarian effort to save lives, but what children living in poverty in developing countries need most is healthy, plentiful food, clean water, better sanitation and improved living conditions. These are the keys to preventing the spread of infectious disease, and they appear to be wholly ignored by Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and non-profit organizations with financial ties to Big Pharma – at the children’s expense.
Important Movements on the Horizon for Both GM Foods and Vaccines
It’s important to get all the facts before making your decision about vaccination; and to understand that in many state public health laws you still have the legal right to opt out of using a vaccine that you or your child do not want to receive. At present, all 50 states allow a medical exemption to vaccination (medical exemptions must be approved by an M.D. or D.O.); 48 states allow a religious exemption to vaccination; and 17 states allow a personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.
However, Washington state now requires parents to obtain the signature of a medical doctor or state-designated medical worker to obtain a philosophical exemption to vaccination. That is because non-medical vaccine exemptions have been restricted in Washington and Vermont and are under attack in California and New Jersey, while there is evidence that medical trade association lobbyists will be working to eliminate or severely restrict vaccine exemptions in Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Colorado and many other states.
Health liberty in America is being threatened by forced vaccination proponents employed by federal and state health departments, who are working with pharmaceutical companies and with Pharma-funded non-profit organizations to encourage government-enforced implementation of “no exceptions” one-size-fits-all vaccine laws. If you want to protect YOUR freedom to make informed, voluntary vaccination decisions in America, you need to take action today. (National vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights will have the greatest impact).
Signing up to be a user of NVIC’s free online Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you access to practical, useful information to help you communicate with your elected state legislators and become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. You will get real-time Action Alerts about what you can do if there are threats to vaccine exemptions in your state. With the click of a mouse or one touch on a Smartphone screen, you will be put in contact with YOUR elected representatives so you can let them know how you feel and what you want them to do. Plus, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have all the information you need to make sure your voice is heard.
As for GM foods, you can help to pass the United States’ first GMO labeling law – Proposition 37 – that will require labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients – and ban the routine industry practice of labeling and marketing such foods as “natural.” Prop 37 is the best chance we have of defeating the corporate agri-giants, and of forcing food manufacturers to stop hiding dangerous ingredients in our food, without our knowledge.
Here is an excellent collection of scientific papers finding adverse biological effects or damage to health from Wi-Fi signals, Wi-Fi-enabled devices or Wi-Fi frequencies (2.4 or 5 GHz), complied by campaign group WiFi In Schools.
The papers listed are only those where exposures were 16V/m or below. Someone using a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet computer can be exposed to electromagnetic fields up to 16V/m. Papers are in alphabetical order. A file of first pages, for printing, can be found here.
If you feel like sending a copy of this collection to the local schools in your area, you can search for them here and either print out this article to post or email the link.
1. Atasoy H.I. et al., 2013. Immunohistopathologic demonstration of deleterious effects on growing rat testes of radiofrequency waves emitted from conventional Wi-Fi devices. Journal of Pediatric Urology 9(2): 223-229. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22465825
2. Avendaño C. et al., 2012. Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation. Fertility and Sterility 97(1): 39-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22112647
3. Avendaño C. et al., 2010. Laptop expositions affect motility and induce DNA fragmentation in human spermatozoa in vitro by a non-thermal effect: a preliminary report. American Society for Reproductive Medicine 66th Annual Meeting: O-249http://wifiinschools.org.uk/resources/laptops+and+sperm.pdf)
4. Aynali G. et al., 2013. Modulation of wireless (2.45 GHz)-induced oxidative toxicity in laryngotracheal mucosa of rat by melatonin. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 270(5): 1695-1700.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23479077
5. Gumral N. et al., 2009. Effects of selenium and L-carnitine on oxidative stress in blood of rat induced by 2.45-GHz radiation from wireless devices. Biol Trace Elem Res. 132(1-3): 153-163.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19396408
7. Havas M. and Marrongelle J. 2013. Replication of heart rate variability provocation study with 2.45GHz cordless phone confirms original findings. Electromagn Biol Med 32(2): 253-266.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23675629
10. Naziroğlu M. and Gumral 2009. Modulator effects of L-carnitine and selenium on wireless devices (2.45 GHz)-induced oxidative stress and electroencephalography records in brain of rat. Int J Radiat Biol. 85(8): 680-689. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19637079
11. Nazıroğlu M. et al., 2012. 2.45-Gz wireless devices induce oxidative stress and proliferation through cytosolic Ca2+ influx in human leukemia cancer cells. International Journal of Radiation Biology 88(6): 449–456. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22489926
12. Nazıroğlu M. et al., 2012b. Melatonin modulates wireless (2.45 GHz)-induced oxidative injury through TRPM2 and voltage gated Ca(2+) channels in brain and dorsal root ganglion in rat. Physiol Behav. 105(3): 683-92. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22019785
13. Oksay T. et al., 2012. Protective effects of melatonin against oxidative injury in rat testis induced by wireless (2.45 GHz) devices. Andrologia doi: 10.1111/and.12044, Epub ahead of print.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23145464
15. Shahin S. et al., 2013. 2.45 GHz Microwave Irradiation-Induced Oxidative Stress Affects Implantation or Pregnancy in Mice, Mus musculus. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 169: 1727–1751.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23334843
16. Türker Y. et al., 2011. Selenium and L-carnitine reduce oxidative stress in the heart of rat induced by 2.45-GHz radiation from wireless devices. Biol Trace Elem Res. 143(3): 1640-1650.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21360060
And here are a few more studies of similar microwave frequencies at low exposures (6V/m or below) (this is not comprehensive):
20. Fesenko E. E. et al., 1999. Microwaves and cellular immunity. I. Effect of whole body microwave irradiation on tumor necrosis factor production in mouse cells, Bioelectrochem. Bioenerg. 49:29–35http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10619445
25. Maier R. et al., 2004. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on cognitive processes – a pilot study on pulsed field interference with cognitive regeneration. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 110: 46-52 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15180806
27. Novoselova E. G. et al., 1998. Stimulation of production of tumor necrosis factor by murine macrophages when exposed in vivo and in vitro to weak electromagnetic waves in the centimeter range Bofizika 43:1132–1333.
28. Novoselova E. G. et al., 1999. Microwaves and cellular immunity. II. Immunostimulating effects of microwaves and naturally occurring antioxidant nutrients. Bioelectrochem. Bioenerg. 49:37–41http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10619446
29. Otitoloju A. A. et al., 2010. Preliminary study on the induction of sperm head abnormalities in mice, Mus musculus, exposed to radiofrequency radiations from Global System for Mobile Communication Base Stations. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 84(1):51-4.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19816647
30. Panagopoulos D. J.et al., 2010. Bioeffects of mobile telephony radiation in relation to its intensity or distance from the antenna. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. Vol 86(5):345-357.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20397839
31. Persson B. R. R. et al., 1997. Blood-brain barrier permeability in rats exposed to electromagnetic fields used in wireless communication. Wireless Networks 3: 455-461.
32. Pyrpasopoulou A. et al., 2004. Bone morphogenic protein expression in newborn kidneys after prenatal exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Bioelectromagnetics 25:216-27http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15042631
AlterNet / By Sean McElwee comments_image COMMENTS
5 Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand
Here are some verses liberal Christians wish they would get “fundamentalist” about.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Vlue
July 30, 2013 |
Right-wing Evangelical Fundamentalism claims to “go back to roots of Christianity.” In fact, the “literal” (i.e. the earth was created in seven literal days) reading of the Bible was invented in the 19th century. Few fundamentalists care about the early church, the Gospels, the Catholic traditions, Augustine, Arian heresies, encyclicals and councils. Rather, they blend Southern Conservatism, bastardized Protestantism, some Pauline doctrine, gross nationalism and a heavy dose of naive anti-intellectualism for a peculiar American strain of bullshit. As Reverend Cornel West has noted, “the fundamentalist Christians want to be fundamental about everything, except ‘love thy neighbor.’”
Here are some verses we liberal Christians wish they would get “fundamentalist” about:
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:33-34.
Why Fundamentalists Hate This Verse:
Because fundamentalists are xenophobic: religious fundamentalism is a reaction to the multiculturalism of liberal democracy. Rather than seek a “brotherhood of man,” religious fundamentalism longs for a tribal community, without the necessary friction from those with foreign beliefs, cultures and customs. Here’s an open letter from the President of an organization called Christians for A Sustainable Economy (Or as I call it: Christians for an unsustainable environment):
We are called to discern among, “sojourners” (like Ruth and Rahab who intend to assimilate and bless) and “foreigners” (who do not intend to assimilate and bless) and to welcome the former with hospitality.
This is an odd spin, given that in Leviticus, the command is unambiguous, there is no aside about a distinction between those who intend to assimilate. The letter then addresses the immigration bill:
Its passage would allow 11 million illegal immigrants to become citizens in the short-term, with likely an additional 20 million family members as new citizens within about a decade. … The net price tag of S. 744 will be in the trillions of dollars. … Such escalation of debt is one way to destroy a nation. It is immoral. It is theft from American seniors and children. It is unbiblical. It is unkind.
I could write a bunch of stuff about those numbers being crazily inaccurate, but let me allow the Lord to respond:
I will be a swift witness against… those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against … those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:5.
One of the most humorous aspects of modern-day, far-right Christianity is its reverence of capitalism. That’s because Christ could be considered almost “anti-capitalist.” Consider this verse:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. – Matthew 19:24.
There is some version of the story of the rich man approaching Jesus that appears in every synoptic Gospel. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells the rich man, “go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
The story of Lazarus should similarly terrify modern day fundamentalists:
Lazarus is a beggar who waits outside of a rich man’s house and begs for scraps. When both Lazarus and the rich man die, Lazarus ends up in heaven, while the rich man ends up in hell. When the rich man begs for water, Abraham says, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.” Luke 19:25.
Why Fundamentalists Hate These Verses:
Because the only thing fundamentalists dislike more than immigrants is poor people. Seriously. Just this year, Tea Party congressman Stephen Fincher explained why he thought the government should cut food stamps entirely, “The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” Michelle Bachmann has also made a similar statement. The entire Tea Party movement is based on the idea that a huge portion of Americans are “takers” who suck the lifeblood out of the economy.
The Catholic Church actually has a long history of decrying the exploitation of the poor and supporting union movements(See Rerum Novarm). G.K. Chesterton’s writing on the rich often hits Occupy Wall Street levels (“The rich man is bribed… that is why he is rich.”) But fundamentalists insist that poverty be explained in terms of a personal moral failure. They therefore hold that success should be described in terms of morality; this is the so-called Protestant ethic that Weber praised. But it is also, as Nietzsche noted, the “ethic of the hangman.” The poor are considered culpable so that they can be punished – like today’s cuts to food stamps or the public shaming of those on welfare.
3. The Environment
In Genesis, man is given stewardship of the Earth, God’s creation. [Stewardship, in the Christian tradition implies protection. Man should exist in harmony with the earth, not work against it.] As is noted in Colossians 1:16-17:
By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Why Fundamentalists Hate The Verse:
Jesus Christ once told his followers:
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. – Luke 16:13.
Increasingly, the religious right is trying to do exactly that, intertwining Evangelical fundamentalism with unfettered capitalism — with disastrous results for the environment. Thus, American political life is increasingly dominated by Christians who reject the religious ethos, in favor of capitalist ethos.
One Conservative Evangelical publication, World Magazine, hypes the “We Get It” campaign, which seeks to discredit the threat of global warming. It also claims the threat of climate change is “alarmism” and fears that efforts to clamp down on emissions will hurt the poor (read: corporations). In reality, climate change will have its greatest effect on people living on less than a dollar a day who can not adapt to higher temperatures. Conservative Evangelicals are not concerned with dwindling biodiversity, the destruction of ecosystem, rampant pollution, global warming and the numerous other environmental challenges we face. Rather they, with the business community, are concerned with the bottom line. The future is irrelevant (unless we’re talking about government debt). Thus, the Biblical command to protect the environment is widely eschewed.
In two Gospels, Jesus tells his followers:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. – Matthew 5:38-42, Luke 27-30.
In another passage he says:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:43 – 45.
Why Fundamentalists Hate This Verse:
As a religious and political movement, fundamentalists have defined themselves as a party of opposition, rather than of love, grace and mercy.
In her fantastic essay, Onward Christian Liberals, Marilynne Robinson argues:
The excitement we are seeing now is called by some scholars a thirdgreat awakening, yet it is different from the other two… it is full of pious aversion toward the so-called culture… and toward those whose understanding of religion fails to meet its standards.
While past “Great Awakenings” have looked inward, seeing sin within the conflicted self, this new awakening looks outward, seeing sin in the wider culture. The culture, that which is secular is evil, while the church is sacred. This is why modern religious fundamentalism gravitates towards xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, etc. Fear and disgust are its motivating factors.
This fundamentalism inclines some religious people toward a pre-emptive “war of religion” and a strong disgust (that sometimes culminates in violence) toward Muslims. Oddly enough, the Christian tradition has developed a theory of “Just War” (developed by Aquinas) which condemns war except when all other options have been exhausted and there is just treatment of prisoners (with a specific condemnation of torture). If only one of the past two “Christian” presidents had listened.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
Why Fundamentalists Hate it:
Although the right often claims the Bible supports their absurd ideas about gender roles (just like the Bible supported anti-miscegenation) such claims have been thoroughly debunkedby theologians. Generally, when you’ll hear an explanation of why women belong in the home, it’ll rely on a misreading of one of Paul’s doctrines.
In contrast to Paul, Christ rarely concerned himself with sexual mores, he was far more concerned with fighting oppression. Fundamentalists want to keep women submissive and subservient, but Jesus won’t let them. In Luke, for instance, Jesus is blessed by a priestess named Anna. He praises a woman who stands up to a judge and demands justice. It’s worth noting that in a time when women could not testify in a court of law, all four resurrection stories have women arriving first to Jesus’ tomb (although it’s unclear which women). Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman at a well and praises Mary Magdalene for listening to his words (Luke 10:38-42).
Fundamentalism Obscures True Religion
These verses are powerful and I believe that they should be carefully considered.
I worry that Christianity and religion in general is represented by its most conservative, fundamentalists elements. Remember that Marx drew his the inspiration for his famous quote “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” from the example of the early church (Acts 4:32-35).
I understand the fun that Sam Harris and Reddit have destroying fundamentalism, and I went to a Christian college and had jolly good time of it as well. “Haven’t you read your own book?” I would ask smugly. But once the gleeful potshots are finished, we all have to face the fundamental and aching deprivation of having been born. We can continue to have a fun time berating those who believe the Bible explains science and that there was a snake in the Garden of Eden, but it’s really a waste.
The Christian message doesn’t contradict science, and nor is it concerned with bourgeois politics. Ultimately Christianity (and many other religions) are about transcending politics and fighting for social justice. Think of Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Thich Quang Duc – all of whom were influenced by their religion to change the world. Jesus saw how oppression and oppressors consumed the world. He, as all great reformers have, sided with the oppressed. This kind of skewed fundamentalism is radically new and far removed from true Christianity. True Christianity offers us a far superior doctrine — one of social justice, love and equality.
Sean McElwee is a writer for The Moderate Voice and blogs at seanamcelwee.com. He has previously written for The Day and The Norwich Bulletin and on WashingtonMonthly.com and Reason.com. He blogs at seanamcelwee.com. Follow him on Twitter @seanmcelwee.
NEW YORK — A city public school is one of the first in the nation to adopt an all-vegetarian menu, school officials said Tuesday.
Public School 244, in the Flushing section of Queens, has been serving tofu wraps and vegetarian chili since going all-veggie earlier this year, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said during a lunchtime visit.
“I am proud of the students and staff for trailblazing this extraordinary path,” Walcott said.
P.S. 244 opened in 2008 and houses just over 400 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The school, which wanted to offer the children healthy food options, started serving a vegetarian lunch three times a week and then increased it to four times a week before making the switch to an all-vegetarian menu every day.
It is the city’s first all-vegetarian public school.
“We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand,” principal Robert Groff said.
Tuesday’s menu included black beans and cheddar quesadillas served with salsa and roasted potatoes.
A staff member at the animal-welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said he believes P.S. 244 may be the first all-vegetarian public elementary school in the nation.
“We think this is a really exciting development,” said Ryan Huling, who coordinates PETA’s work with colleges that serve vegetarian fare. “The school should be commended for providing students with low-fat, nutrient-packed brain food.”
P.S. 244 is a zoned neighborhood school, so students who prefer meat-based meals would not be able to transfer out, nor would vegetarian children at other schools be able to transfer in.
Bill Gates is the co-founder and Chairman of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also posts updated information and videos about the future of food on Gates Notes.
The global population is on track to reach 9 billion by 2050. What are all those people going to eat? With billions of people adding more animal protein to their diets — meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 — it seems clear that arable land for raising livestock won’t be able to keep up.
That’s one reason why I’m excited about innovations taking place now in food production, which especially interests me as someone who worries about the poor getting enough to eat.
There’s quite a lot of interesting physics, chemistry and biology involved in how food tastes, how cooking changes its taste, and why we like some tastes and not others.
My friend Nathan Myrhvold took a deep dive into the science and technology of cooking with his huge book, Modernist Cuisine. Nathan is great at explaining things like why we like meat so much, and why cream-based sauces are so good. Which leads to interesting questions, like could we create those tastes in ways that are less expensive, less fattening and less work?
I’ve gotten to learn about several new food companies that are creating plant-based alternatives to meat through some monetary investments I’ve made with Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. Their products are at least as healthy as meat and are produced more sustainably.
But what makes them really interesting is their taste. Food scientists are now creating meat alternatives that truly taste like — and have the same “mouth feel” — as their nature-made counterparts (see two recipes below, for example).
Flavor and texture have been the biggest hurdles for most people in adopting meat alternatives. But companies like Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek Foods and Lyrical are doing some amazing things. Their actual recipes are secret, but the science is straightforward. By using pressure and precisely heating and cooling oils and plant proteins (like powdered soybeans and vegetable fiber), you can achieve the perfect flavor and texture of meat or eggs.
I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative, for example, and honestly couldn’t tell it from real chicken. Beyond Eggs, an egg alternative from Hampton Creek Foods, does away with the high cholesterol content of real eggs. Lyrical has drastically reduced fat in its non-dairy cheeses. Even things like salt are getting a makeover: Nu-Tek has found a way to make potassium chloride taste like salt (and nothing but salt) with only a fraction of the sodium.
All this innovation could be great news for people concerned about health problems related to overconsumption of fat, salt and cholesterol. It’s important too in light of the environmental impacts of large-scale meat and dairy production, with livestock estimated to produce nearly51% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
But the new, future food is crucial for the developing world, where people often do not get enough protein. This is partly due to heavy reliance on animals as the primary source. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s plenty of protein and necessary amino acids in plants, including the world’s four major commodity crops — rice, maize, wheat and soy.
The problem is that instead of feeding these crops to people, we’re feeding most of them to livestock. And so we’re caught in an inefficient protein-delivery system. For every 10 kilograms of grain we feed cattle, we get 1 kilogram of beef in return. The calorie kick-back is just too low to feed a growing world population.
So we need to find new ways to deliver protein and calories to everyone.
Our approach to food hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years. It’s ripe for reinvention. We need to look for new ways to raise nutrition in the poor world while shifting some of our choices in the wealthy world.
Fortunately, there are thousands of plant proteins in the world, and many of them have yet to be explored for use in the production of meat alternatives. Current investigations of the world’s vast array of plant proteins could fundamentally reshape our food supply for the better.
I’m hopeful that we can begin to meet the demand for a protein-rich diet in a new way. We’re just at the beginning of enormous innovation in this space.
The massive stone enclosures of the Gobekli Tepe ruins (known to many as Turkey’s “Stonehenge”) may be the earliest examples of Neolithic religion. What do the enclosures and the fascinating reliefs that adorn their pillars reveal about the oldest religion in the world? (Photo: Vincent J. Musi/National Geographic Stock)
On a hill known as Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) in southeastern Turkey, archaeologists have uncovered several large megalithic enclosures that date between 10000 and 8000 B.C.E., the dawn of civilization and the Neolithic age. Each of these circular enclosures, which many have described as Turkey’s “Stonehenge,” consists of ten to twelve massive stone pillars surrounding two larger monoliths positioned in the middle of the structure. There are no village remains at or near the Göbekli Tepe ruins, suggesting that the unique site was a ceremonial center exclusively used for the practice of the Neolithic religion of local hunter-gatherer groups.
Given the early age of the site, equally surprising are the varied and often highly elaborate carvings that adorn the pillars of the Göbekli Tepe ruins. Among the pillars are detailed and often very realistic depictions of animal figures, including vultures and scorpions, lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, asses, snakes, and other birds and reptiles. In addition, some of the massive monoliths are carved with stylized anthropomorphic details—including arms, legs and clothing—that give the impression of large super-human beings watching over the enclosures.
The Göbekli Tepe ruins and enclosures—the earliest monumental ritual sites of Neolithic religion and possibly the oldest religion in the world—are causing experts to rethink the origins of religion and human civilization. Until recently, scholars agreed that agriculture and human settlement in villages gave rise to religious practices. The discoveries at the Göbekli Tepe ruins, however, indicate that earlier hunter-gatherer groups that had not yet settled down had already developed complex religious ideas, together with monumental ceremonial sites to practice the sacred communal rituals of Neolithic religion.
Indeed, excavations at the Göbekli Tepe ruins have uncovered tens of thousands of animal bones, indicating that many different species—including those depicted on the pillars—were slaughtered, sacrificed and presumably eaten at the site. While it is uncertain to whom these sacrifices were made, it’s possible they were offered to the enclosures’ stylized human pillars that, as some have suggested, may represent priests, deities or revered ancestors in Neolithic religion. Given that human bones have also been found, others believe the Göbekli Tepe ruins may have been a Neolithic burial ground where funerary rituals and perhaps even excarnations were practiced.*
Last month, when GQ asked Rubio “how old do you think the Earth is?” he stammered through an answer.
“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says. I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians.” He continued, “Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”
He said, “There is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively. It’s at least 4.5 billion years old.”
But then he hedged: “I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe. And that means teaching them science. They have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile those two things.”
Why the hedge? Because he is in a party of creationists. According to a June Gallup report, most Republicans (58 percent) believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Most Democrats and independents did not agree.
Furthermore, a 2005 study found that just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.
Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said on CNN:
“We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies.”
This is exactly the kind of turn the Republicans need to take, but Jindal’s rhetoric doesn’t completely line up with his record. As The Scotsman of Edinburgh reported in June, “Pupils attending privately run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature.” That mythological beast would be the Loch Ness monster.
The Scotsman continued: “Thousands of children are to receive publicly funded vouchers enabling them to attend the schools — which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum. The Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme teaches controversial religious beliefs, aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism. Youngsters will be told that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the Earth at the same time as man, then Darwinism is fatally flawed.”
This is all because of a law that Jindal signed. Thankfully, last week a state judge ruled that the voucher program is unconstitutional. But Louisiana isn’t the only red state where creationism has state support.
Kentucky has a Creationist Museum that warns visitors to “be prepared to experience history in a completely unprecedented way,” according to its Web site. It continues: “Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers.” Unprecedented is certainly one word for it.
And the beginning of the world isn’t the only point of denial. So is the potential end of it. A March Gallup poll found that Republicans were much less likely than Democrats or independents to say that they worried about global warming. Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did.
This as the National Climatic Data Center reported that “the January-November period was the warmest first 11 months of any year on record for the contiguous United States, and for the entire year, 2012 will most likely surpass the current record (1998, 54.3°F) as the warmest year for the nation.”
Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back.
If the Republicans don’t want to see their party go the way of the dinosaurs, they have to step out of the past.
You may be surprised to learn that there is enough calcium in vegetables to supply all of your daily calcium requirements. The advertising industry has led us all to believe that cow’s milk is the best primary source of this vital element. Not only is this not a fact, but cow’s milk can be linked to a variety of health conditions that include allergies, lactose intolerance, autoimmune disorders, and, ironically, osteoporosis.
Why You Don’t Want Calcium from Cow’s Milk
Most cow’s milk that you buy in the grocery store has been pasteurized. Even some so-called organic milk brands are pasteurized, which in my opinion, defeats the entire purpose of an organic food product. The reason why pasteurization is such an undesirable practice is because it creates calcium carbonate within the milk. Calcium carbonate is basically the same thing as chalk, and without a chelating agent, cannot be absorbed directly by the body. Instead, the body must draw calcium from bones to assist in absorbing the material. When too much calcium is leached out of bones, it can contribute to the rise of osteoporosis.
Another reason why calcium in vegetables is preferable to that of cow’s milk is the presence of methionine in milk. This amino acid, in excessive amounts, will make the body acidic. An acidic body pH can also contribute to the leaching of calcium from bones. This defeats the whole purpose of drinking milk for your daily calcium allowance.
Calcium Daily Allowance
This term refers to the amount of calcium that an individual requires. This amount varies per age, and to a certain extent, per gender. Both women and men ages 19-50 require about 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Women over the age of 50 require 1,200 mg of calcium daily. After the age of 70, both men and women require 1,200 mg of calcium each day.
Calcium does 179 things for the human body, so it is something that none of us can do without. Fortunately, there is enough calcium in vegetables to provide any adult, of either gender, or of any age, with her or his daily calcium allowance. The following list shows us how much calcium is present in just one cup of any of the following 10 readily available vegetables that can be purchased from any organic grocery section:
Raw Kale – 137 mg
Collard Greens – 357 mg
Turnip Greens – 105mg
Garlic – 246mg
Arugula – 32mg
Rapini, (Broccoli Rabe) – 516mg (a cup of milk has 300 mg by comparison)
Mustard Greens – 152mg
Sun Dried Tomatoes – 59mg
Raw Spinach – 30 mg
Okra – 177mg
There is also calcium present in vegetables raw broccoli, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and cabbage—just to name a few. There are several fruits that also contain calcium, chief of which is the apple, which offers a number of other health benefits to the body and is quite possibly one of the best fruits you can eat.
It is also important for us to note that agribusiness has depleted the soil on our world. As a result, the amount of calcium in vegetables and many fruits has diminished over the past 5 decades. While organic growing processes has helped to offset this decrease to some degree, we recommend that people enhance their diet with an all-natural, calcium orotate supplement to make certain that they get all the calcium they require.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium, http://www.ellenskitchen.com/faqs/calcium.html
Ursula Moon, CALCIUM IN VEGETABLES & FRUITS, http://www.livestrong.com/article/260867-calcium-in-vegetables-fruits/
Aureau Walding, ADULTS REQUIRE HOW MUCH CALCIUM?, http://www.livestrong.com/article/525826-adults-require-how-much-calcium
Milk Information Web Site, Why Does Calcium Leave our Bones from Drinking Calcium Rich Milk?, http://milk.elehost.com/html/why_does_calcuim_leave_the_bon.html
WHAT IS CALCIUM?, http://www.uswellnessmeats.com/Calcium_Myth_and_Facts.pdf
Just in case you need another reason to cut back on junk food, it now turns out that Alzheimer’s could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that laying off soda, doughnuts, processed meats and fries could allow you to keep your mind intact until your body fails you.
We used to think there were two types of diabetes: the type you’re born with (Type 1) and the type you “get.” That’s called Type 2, and was called “adult onset” until it started ravaging kids. Type 2 is brought about by a combination of factors, including overeating, American-style.
The studies  are increasingly persuasive, and unsurprising when you understand the role of insulin in the body. So, a brief lesson.
We all need insulin: in non-diabetics, it’s released to help cells take in the blood sugar (glucose) they need for energy. But the cells can hold only so much; excess sugar is first stored as glycogen, and — when there’s enough of that — as fat. (Blood sugar doesn’t come only from sugar, but from carbohydrates of all kinds; easily digested carbohydrates flood the bloodstream with sugar.) Insulin not only keeps the blood vessels that supply the brain healthy, it also encourages the brain’s neurons to absorb glucose, and allows those neurons to change and become stronger. Low insulin levels in the brain mean reduced brain function.
Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, accounts for about 10 percent of all cases. Type 2 diabetes is chronic or environmental, and it’s especially prevalent in populations that overconsume hyperprocessed foods, like ours. It’s tragically, increasingly common — about a third of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes — and treatable but incurable. It causes your cells to fail to retrieve glucose from the blood, either because your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore that insulin. (That’s “insulin resistance”; stand by.)
Put as simply as possible (in case your eyes glaze over as quickly as mine when it comes to high school biology), insulin “calls” your cells, asking them to take glucose from the bloodstream: “Yoo-hoo. Pick this stuff up!”
When the insulin calls altogether too often — as it does when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages and repeatedly eat junk food — the cells are overwhelmed, and say, “Leave me alone.” They become resistant. This makes the insulin even more insistent and, to make matters worse, all those elevated insulin levels are bad for your blood vessels.
Diabetes causes complications too numerous to mention, but they include heart disease, which remains our No. 1 killer. And when the cells in your brain become insulin-resistant, you start to lose memory and become disoriented. You even might lose aspects of your personality.
In short, it appears, you develop Alzheimer’s.
A neuropathologist named Alois Alzheimer noticed, over a century ago, that an odd form of protein was taking the place of normal brain cells. How those beta amyloid plaques (as they’re called) get there has been a mystery. What’s becoming clear, however, is that a lack of insulin — or insulin resistance — not only impairs cognition but seems to be implicated in the formation of those plaques.
Suzanne de la Monte, a neuropathologist at Brown University, has been working on these phenomena in humans and rats. When she blocked the path of insulin to rats’ brains, their neurons deteriorated, they became physically disoriented and their brains showed all the signs of Alzheimer’s. The fact that Alzheimer’s can be associated with low levels of insulin in the brain is the reason why increasing numbers of researchers have taken to calling it Type 3 diabetes, or diabetes of the brain.
What’s new is the thought that while diabetes doesn’t “cause” Alzheimer’s, they have the same root: an over consumption of those “foods” that mess with insulin’s many roles. (Genetics have an effect on susceptibility, as they appear to with all environmental diseases.) “Sugar is clearly implicated,” says Dr. de la Monte, “but there could be other factors as well, including nitrates in food.”
If the rate of Alzheimer’s rises in lockstep with Type 2 diabetes, which has nearly tripled in the United States in the last 40 years, we will shortly see a devastatingly high percentage of our population with not only failing bodies but brains. Even for the lucky ones this is terrible news, because 5.4 million Americans (nearly 2 percent, for those keeping score at home) have the disease, the care for which — along with other dementias — will cost around $200 billion this year.
Gee. That’s more than the $150 billion we’ve been saying we spend annually on obesity-related illnesses. So the financial cost of the obesity pandemic just more than doubled. More than 115 million new cases of Alzheimer’s are projected around the world in the next 40 years, and the cost is expected to rise to more than a trillion of today’s dollars. (Why bother to count? $350 billion is bad enough.)
The link between diet and dementia negates our notion of Alzheimer’s as a condition that befalls us by chance. Adopting a sane diet, a diet contrary to the standard American diet (which I like to refer to as SAD), would appear to give you a far better shot at avoiding diabetes in all of its forms, along with its dreaded complications. There are, as usual, arguments to be made for enlisting government help in that struggle, but for now, put down that soda!
This post is part of the HuffPost Shadow Conventions 2012, a series spotlighting three issues that are not being discussed at the national GOP and Democratic conventions: The Drug War, Poverty in America, and Money in Politics. Check out the Shadow Conventions big news page here, and join the conversation at HuffPost Live.
As the Republican and Democratic national conventions are approaching, the debate on how to address soaring Medicare costs is heating up. But there is much more heat than light, and our country seems more polarized than ever.
Health care costs (really, sick care costs) are now reaching a tipping point. Many Republicans are recommending that Medicare be privatized or even abolished since Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program accounted for 21 percent of the Federal budget in 2011, or $769 billion. Many Democrats are advocating raising taxes and letting the deficit increase. Not much common ground when the issues are framed in this way.
Here’s a third alternative: address the underlying causes of illness. These causes are primarily the lifestyle choices we make each day: what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke, how much we exercise, and how much love, intimacy and social support we have in our lives.
This is a radical approach — “radical” comes from the Latin word meaning “root.” When we address these root causes of our health and well-being, we find that our bodies often have a remarkable capacity to begin healing themselves and much more quickly than had once been thought possible. We can make much better health care available for many more people at far lower costs when we treat the causes rather than the symptoms.
More than 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in health care costs are due to chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes that can be largely prevented by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. We don’t need to wait for a new drug or laser or high-tech breakthrough; we simply need to put into practice what we already know.
For example, in the EPIC study of 23,000 people, walking for just 30 minutes/day, not smoking, eating a reasonably healthy diet, and keeping a healthy weight prevented 93 percent of diabetes, 81 percent of heart attacks, 50 percent of strokes and 36 percent of all cancers. Bigger changes in diet and lifestyle can do even more.
In the INTERHEART study of 30,000 men and women in 52 countries in all seven continents, lifestyle factors accounted for almost all of the risk of heart attacks in both sexes and in all ages.
Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery. Today.
In addition to preventing chronic diseases, these comprehensive lifestyle changes can often reverse the progression of these illnesses. My colleagues and I at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute proved, for the first time, that lifestyle changes alone can reverse even severe heart disease. At any age.
Our research has shown that when comprehensive lifestyle changes are offered as treatment (not just as prevention), significant cost savings occur in the first year because the biological mechanisms that control our health and well-being are so dynamic.
For example, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield found that overall health care costs were reduced by 50 percent in the first year when people with heart disease or risk factors went through our lifestyle program in 24 hospitals and clinics in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska.
In another study, Mutual of Omaha found that they saved $30,000 per patient in the first year in those who went through our lifestyle program. Steve Burd, the visionary CEO of Safeway, put many of these principles into practice at the work site and found that overall health care costs decreased by 12 percent in the first year and have remained essentially flat since then.
At a time when the power of comprehensive lifestyle changes to prevent and reverse chronic diseases is becoming more well-documented, the limitations and costs of high-tech medicine are becoming increasingly clear:
Recent studies have shown that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or prevent heart attacks in stable patients, costing $60 billion per year.
Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes will affect half of Americans in the next eight years at a projected cost of $3.3 trillion. Lowering blood sugar with drugs does not fully prevent the economic and human costs of diabetes (including heart attacks, strokes, amputations, impotence, kidney failure, and blindness), but lowering blood sugar with diet and lifestyle prevents all of these human and economic costs.
Only 1 out of 49 men treated for prostate cancer lives longer because of the surgery or radiation treatments; the other 48 often become impotent, incontinent, or both. Because of this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that men not even be screened for prostate cancer, since there is such pressure to undergo treatments that, for most men, do not benefit them but may cause them harm in the most personal ways. Intensive lifestyle changes can be a third alternative.
Changing lifestyle actually changes your genes — turning on genes that keep you healthy and turning off genes that promote heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and diabetes — hundreds of genes in just three months. People often tell me, “Oh, it’s all in my genes, there’s not much I can do about it.” Knowing that changing lifestyle changes our genes is often very motivating — not to blame, but to empower.
Medicare is now covering “Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease” after 16 years of review. This had bipartisan support — from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush when they were president, from Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich when they were Speaker of the House, from Congressmen Dan Burton (conservative Republican from Indiana) and Charles Rangel (liberal Democrat from New York), and many others from both parties as well as from independents.
Why? Because these are human issues that affect all of us and transcend our polarized political process, enabling us to find common ground. For Republicans, this appeals to their core values of empowering the individual, personal responsibility, and freedom of choice. For Democrats, this appeals to their core values of making better health care available to more people at lower costs.
And the only side-effects are good ones.
Dean Ornish, M.D.
Medical Editor, The Huffington Post
Founder & President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco www.ornish.com
By By ROD McGUIRK | Associated Press – 36 mins ago
REUTERS – A combination photo shows illustrations obtained by Reuters of some of the proposed models of cigarettes packs in this April 7, 2011 file photo. Australia’s highest court will rule on the world’s …more
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has urged other countries to adopt the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion, which was upheld Wednesday by the country’s highest court and prohibits tobacco companies from displaying their logos on cigarette packs.
The High Court rejected a challenge by tobacco companies who argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed if they are no longer able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs.
Starting in December, packs will instead come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children. The government hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.
“Many other countries around the world … will take heart from the success of this decision today,” Attorney General Nicola Roxon told reporters after the court ruling.
“Governments can take on big tobacco and win and it’s worth countries looking again at what the next appropriate step is for them,” she added.
British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands. They challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks.
The cigarette makers argued that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the tobacco companies. Australia’s constitution says the government can only acquire the property of others on “just terms.”
The court, which ordered the tobacco companies to pay the government’s legal fees, withheld its reasons for the judgment on Wednesday. They’ll be released later this year.
Philip Morris said it would continue to pursue compensation through the terms of a bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.
“There is still a long way to go before all the legal questions about plain packaging are fully explored and answered,” company spokesman Chris Argent said in a statement.
British American Tobacco spokesman Scott McIntyre said the company was disappointed in the court’s decision but would comply with the law.
“Although the (law) passed the constitutional test, it’s still a bad law that will only benefit organized crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets. … The illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy,” McIntyre said in a statement.
Imperial Tobacco echoed that argument.
“Plain packaging will simply provide counterfeiters with a road map,” spokeswoman Sonia Stewart said in a statement. “The legislation will make the counterfeiters’ job both cheaper and easier by mandating exactly how a pack must look.”
Australia’s Health Minister Tanya Plibersek dismissed those claims, saying there are still measures to prevent counterfeiting, such as the use of alphanumeric codes on legitimate cigarette packs.
Australia faces a potential challenge to its laws through the World Trade Organization, with three tobacco growing countries — Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic — making official requests for consultation on plain packaging. Consultations are the first stage of the WTO’s dispute resolution process.
These countries argue that the laws contravene Australia’s international obligations in respect to trade-related aspects of intellectual property.
Roxon said while countries had raised with Australia the trade implications of the laws, her government would fight to maintain them.
“It’s never been asserted successfully around the world in any trade dispute that governments are not allowed to take public health measures to protect their community,” she said.
Ross McKenzie, a Macquarie University lecturer on health studies, said it was likely that the tobacco industry was behind the WTO challenge.
“From everything I’ve read, the challenges won’t be particularly strong,” McKenzie said.
“The trademarks aren’t being expropriated; they’re being restricted in their use, which is quite different. There’re lots of trademarks that are restricted by lots of governments,” he added.
Tobacco advertising was banned from Australian television and radio in 1976. Restrictions on advertising have tightened over the years to include print ads, the Internet and retail outlets.
Smokers account for 17 percent of Australia’s population, compared with around 20 percent of American adults.
With high taxes aimed at dissuading smokers, a pack of 25 cigarettes retails in Australia for about 16 Australian dollars ($17).
(NaturalNews) A U.K. group devoted to helping parents customize appropriate vaccination schedules for their children has been targeted by British authorities for posting scientifically-backed warnings about the dangers of the combination measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, also known as MMR. BBC News reports that BabyJabs.co.uk has been ordered by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to pull information from its website that merely explains the known scientific links between MMR and autism.
Citing a 2002 study in which MMR could not be definitively ruled out as a cause of autism in children, BabyJabs had made claims on its website that MMR “could be causing autism in up to 10 percent of autistic children in the U.K.,” which is a more than reasonable claim. The group also made suggestions that most experts now agree that rates of autism in children are on the rise, and that this rise is not due solely to increased diagnosis.
BabyJabs also included information on its website explaining that the vaccine-strain measles virus has been found in the guts and brains of some autistic children, which is problematic. The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM), after all, discovered back in 1994 that vaccine-strain measles virus is capable of causing serious infection, which in some people can lead to death. (http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/MMR.aspx)
MMR has never been proven not to cause autism
Though there is more scientific evidence than not to suggest a link between MMR and autism in some children, BabyJabs did not even go so far as to make this claim. Rather, the group merely pointed out the fact that MMR has never been proven not to cause autism, an undeniable fact that many parents need to be aware of, particularly parents of children that are at higher risk of experiencing vaccine damage.
But once ASA got wind of the fact that someone, somewhere was not towing the official myth that MMR is completely safe and in no way linked to causing autism, this government body slammed down its iron fist and ordered BabyJabs to remove the information from its website. BabyJabs also referenced Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s extensive research into MMR as having been “strongly rejected” by the government and medical establishment, rather declared to be false, a nuanced variation in wording that appears also to have upset the powers that be.
Because of its open and independent positions on the issue, BabyJabs has now had its free speech censored by officials in the world’s most tyrannical police state, the U.K. This so-called progressive nation is now actively censoring freedom of health speech as it pertains to vaccines — if you do not agree with the official vaccine dogma and choose to write about it online, in other words, you could very well be the ASA’s next target.
Numerous studies link MMR vaccine to horrific side effects, including autism
It is remarkable that any authority or government body dares make the audacious claim that MMR has never been linked to causing autism, which is what the ASA has done in this case. As far back as 1981, right around the time when the earliest versions of MMR were first released for public use, researchers were already identifying some very serious side effects associated with MMR.
The British National Childhood Encephalopathy Study, for instance, had identified a link between the measles vaccine and serious neurological disorders, which only appear to have been intensified once measles was packaged into the three-in-one MMR vaccine. There were also several other studies in subsequent years, including another out of the U.K. in 1995, that identified a link between measles vaccine and ulcerative colitis.
These, of course, were the same findings arrived at by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who had begun advocating that measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines be given individually rather than combined — that is, until he became the target of the state-run medical industrial complex. Dr. Wakefield had observed that MMR causes gastrointestinal problems, including enterocolitis, in some children, while the same vaccines administered individually appear to have less risk.
Those who choose to ignore this pertinent information, and instead believe the official story that MMR is safe and does not cause autism, do so at their own risk. At the very least, the jury is still out on the issue as it cannot definitively be proven that MMR does not cause autism, which is a claim being widely proclaimed by many health authorities and government officials. Meanwhile, much of the independent science that has been conducted over the years shows that MMR is linked to causing autism and other permanent side effects, at least in some children.
With all this in mind, is allowing MMR to be injected into your child simply because the government insists it is harmless really a risk that you want to take?
Nature fights back – bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance
by Tony Isaacs
(NaturalNews) Corn genetically engineered by Monsanto to kill western corn rootworm is reportedly being devoured by those pests with a vengeance. Thanks to heavy reliance on the genetically modified (GM) crops, the tiny rootworm pest has overtaken fields, outsmarting the genetic engineering that was supposed to keep it away.
Nature fights back against GM corn
The GM corn, launched in 2003, is engineered to produce a protein, known as Cry3Bb1, derived from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. In theory, rootworms ingest Bt corn roots and the protein is fatal. However, recent reports indicate that pesticide-resistant rootworms are showing up weeks earlier and more voraciously than ever.
In a research paper published in the July/August/September 2012 issue of the journal GM Crops & Food, scientists reported that samples taken in 2010 indicated that rootworm populations had an eleven-fold survival rate on Cry3Bb1 maize than did control populations. The paper noted that resistant corn rootworm populations first identified in 2009 had three-fold survival rates on Cry3Bb1 maize at that time compared to other populations.
Mike Gray, a professor of entomology with the University of Illinois reported: “We’re still early in the growing season, and the adults are about a month ahead of schedule,” explained Gray. “I was surprised to see them – and there were a lot.”
Reports of increasing rootworm damage began coming in last year after Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann published a study saying that the rootworms in Iowa were becoming resistant to GM corn, creating so-called “superbugs.” Farmers in several states found that the western corn rootworm was surviving after ingesting an insecticidal toxin produced by the corn plants.
With both demand and prices high, many farmers are planting corn year after year and on more acres, increasing the possibility that resistance could develop. Typically, corn farmers have had to rotate corn crops to minimize pest pressures. But with Bt corn, many simply planted “corn on corn,” year after year. Federal regulators require a 20 percent “refuge” of non-Bt corn near Bt acres, but many growers have ignored that and oversight has been lax.
The new “superbug” rootworms may lead to serious financial woes for both farmers and the rest of us, according to a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 22 prominent scientists and corn-management experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and universities across the Midwestern Corn Belt. Patrick Porter, PhD, associate professor at Texas A&M University, who drafted the letter, noted that farmers are paying almost twice as much for seeds that don’t live up to their promises, and are then having to resort to insecticides on top of that.
The potential result, according to Porter, is crop failure which could raise food prices at the grocery store. Porter said, “If farmers start taking damage (from) any pest, that will lower yields. That will reduce the supply of corn and increase prices.” Porter also noted that when prices for corn go up, more farmers start planting corn despite the risks, and when growers shift to growing more of one crop, they grow less of other crops and those crops’ prices also go up.
Adding to GM crop concerns, recent research from Canadian scientists found that pesticides used on genetically modified (GM) crops and, in some cases, the genes used to create GM crops are able to survive in our digestive tracts, move into our bloodstreams and, in the case of pregnant women, show up in their developing infants. The research contradicts repeated contentions by Monsanto and the EPA that only insects would be hurt by GM crops.
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including “Cancer’s Natural Enemy” and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year. He is also a contributing author for the worldwide advocacy group “S.A N.E.Vax. Inc” which endeavors to uncover the truth about HPV vaccine dangers.
“Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” tells dietitians that fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners have been “carefully examined for their effects on children’s health, growth, and development.” The presenter, Dr. Ronald Kleinman, “explores prevalent misconceptions about these food ingredients” and suggests ways the dietitian can help quell unnecessary “concern among parents about their children’s health.”
At first glance, Dr. Kleinman should know what he is talking about. He is physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, chief of the Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Nutrition Unit, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Couldn’t sound better, could it? But he has also received a great deal of money from industry sources—like artificial infant formula manufacturers Mead Johnson and Nestle Ltd. His study on optimal duration of breastfeeding was funded by Gerber Products. He also served as a paid expert witness for Gerber when they were sued for deceptive advertising. And he contributed to a brochure intended for children entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.
Now he’s being sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and telling dietitians that the ingredients in Coke which everyone is alarmed about are safe. The dietitians, in turn, will be telling parents that their fears are unfounded, and Coke can sell more Coke to kids.
Program materials include gems like “[a] majority of studies so far have not found a link between sugar and behavior in children generally or children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” This is certainly news to us, since we have seen many studies that say the opposite. Apparently the dietitians are to teach us that any connection between artificial colors and neurotoxicity, or fears of the dangers of fluoride, are imaginary and come from hysterical (or at least unduly concerned) parents.
The ADA is sponsored by the soda and junk food industries—which we feel greatly tarnishes the organization’s credibility. And you may recall that the ADA has mounted a state-by-state campaign to make sure that its Commission is the only one which will be accepted as a credentialing body for both registered dietitians and nutritionists.
There are, of course, significant philosophical differences between nutritionists and dietitians—they represent two different fields of study and practice. By accepting only a single credentialing agency—one run by the dietitians, not nutritionists—state boards are establishing a “one-size-fits-all” standard which removes all competition, essentially handing the ADA a government mandated monopoly over nutritional therapy.
Unfortunately, the Nevada bill we told you about last month passed both the Assembly and the Senate and was signed by the governor on June 5th. While some amendments were made, the most troubling parts of the bill still remain: only registered dietitians can practice “dietetics,” which is defined by the law to include nutrition assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, counseling, intervention, monitoring and treatment—everything that a good nutritionist does and should do.
We also told you about an ADA bill in New York, S.3556. The state’s Senate Finance Committee met on June 13 and decided to pass the bill to the Rules Committee so that it could be considered on the Senate floor. They are trying to rush these bills through, because next week the Assembly is scheduled to finish its work for the year, unless the chair calls a special session in the fall. Please click on our New York Action Alert here.
The ADA’s power grab is a complete travesty. We will keep fighting it state by state until we restore competition in nutritional counseling and stop gagging PhD-trained nutritionists who don’t become dietitians.
Gospel Secrets: The Biblical Controversies of Morton Smith
Anthony Grafton | January 7, 2009
Adrian BellesguardMorton Smith
In 1973, Morton Smith, professor of ancient history at Columbia University, shook the world–or at least the world of scholars who work on early Christianity. Fifteen years before, Smith had found an unknown document in the Mar Saba Greek Orthodox monastery, fifteen kilometers southeast of Jerusalem–an ancient Christian text that no one before him had ever mentioned. A letter in Greek, originally composed in the second century by a church father, Clement of Alexandria, and addressed to one Theodore, it was handwritten in ink, in an eighteenth-century hand, on the blank end pages of a seventeenth-century printed book. Less than a thousand words long but rich in detail, the text attacked one of the wonderfully named sects that made the early centuries of Christianity so complex–the followers of Carpocrates, or Carpocratians. These heretics, as Clement and Theodore saw them, claimed that they possessed a secret version of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus, they believed, had taught his followers that they were freed from the law and could do whatever they wanted without sinning. According to one of their Christian critics, Irenaeus, they actually thought they earned salvation by “doing all those things which we dare not either speak or hear of, nay, which we must not even conceive in our thoughts.”
Clement assured Theodore that he had been right to silence these “unspeakable teachings.” But he also admitted that there was a secret version of Mark’s Gospel–a version that the Church of Alexandria made available only to initiates. In a passage that Clement quoted, Jesus raised a rich young man from the dead in Bethany. “And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan”–a passage that suggests a libertine interpretation of its own, at least to the twenty-first-century reader. At the same time, Clement denied that an inflammatory phrase, “naked man with naked man,” which the Carpocratians had cited, came from the true secret Gospel. The evil Carpocrates had obtained a copy of the text and “polluted” it with lies.
It was an astonishing discovery. A scholar can catalog thousands of manuscripts without ever striking this kind of gold. But Smith was perfectly equipped to assess the new text. Though American by birth and most of his education, he was a great philologist in the old European style. Long before he made the Mar Saba discovery, he had mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and examined and photographed Greek manuscripts in monastic libraries on Mount Athos, the island of Patmos and elsewhere. As a student, he had savored the long, hypnotic services at Mar Saba. Now he spent his time going through the collection, book by book and page by page. When his philological dreams came true, he knew exactly how to make the best of his discovery. Before he left the monastery, he photographed the letter. Back in the United States, he spent years establishing and interpreting the text and consulting many other scholars.
Though Smith announced his find as early as 1960, at a meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature, and completed his analysis of the text by the late ’60s, he did not release the new document until thirteen years had passed. Then he did so in two forms at once: a scholarly monograph published by Harvard University Press, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, and a popular book published by Harper & Row, The Secret Gospel, in which Smith pardonably dramatized the religious and personal adventures he had experienced on the way to his discovery. He argued that Clement had written the letter, that the secret Gospel really went back to the early church and that Jesus, as it suggested, had offered his disciples initiation into secret libertine practices. Later in his career, Smith would develop the larger thesis that Jesus had been a practicing magician, and that his revelations were steeped in widely attested magical techniques and beliefs.
But Smith’s original arguments proved provocative enough. By July 1974 he had amassed, as he told a friend, “a dossier of newspaper clippings and reviews two or three inches thick, and an even thicker pile of private letters, some of them screamingly funny.” The professional scholars chewed more slowly, of course, than the newspaper critics and religious polemicists, but within a few years they too had digested the new material and begun to respond to it–or, in some cases, to spew it out again. For more than thirty years, the document and Smith’s interpretations of it have served as the grit around which layer on layer of scholarly pearl has grown. Debate is normal, of course, in scholarship–without it, we could not go on producing doctoral dissertations and scholarly articles. But most debates eventually come to an end, as one side clearly wins or all participants reach a consensus. By contrast, the secret Gospel of Mark continues to spawn commentary of radically opposed kinds.
Most experts went at least part of the way with Smith. The new letter soon found its way into critical editions of Clement’s works. Few agreed that Smith’s discovery offered privileged new evidence for the actual teachings of Jesus–a very ticklish subject, since the four Gospels were themselves written quite some time after Jesus’ death. But a number of prominent New Testament scholars accepted the letter’s internal quotations from Mark as genuinely ancient. Helmut Koester, a New Testament authority who has taught for many years at Harvard, argued that the standard text of Mark’s Gospel actually derives from the secret one quoted by Clement. The long passage quoted by Clement removes an awkward transition in the text. And the fact that the young man is told to wear a single garment when he comes to Jesus for instruction could explain a curious passage in Chapter 14. According to Mark, a young man wearing a single garment was with Christ in Gethsemane when he was arrested. Though the police attempted to take him too, he fled, naked, leaving his cloak in their hands.
But it is just as possible to argue the opposite case: to dismiss the secret Gospel quotations as a pastiche assembled from pieces of the existing text–an equally satisfactory way, after all, to explain the young man’s single garment–or even to reject Clement’s letter as a fake, like many other texts attributed to early Christian writers. The archive of recognized fakes includes the letters that St. Paul supposedly exchanged with the Roman philosopher Seneca, and as many as 900 spurious sermons ascribed to the church father John Chrysostom. Some scholars have always thought that the new Clement letter belonged there.
But almost from the start, some have suggested a much more radical explanation. In 1975 Quentin Quesnell, a Catholic New Testament scholar, argued that the manuscript was a modern forgery–presumably, though he did not say so directly, the work of Smith. This theory has continued to find supporters. Two recent books–The Gospel Hoax, by a lawyer named Stephen Carlson, and The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled, by Peter Jeffrey, a Princeton musicologist, MacArthur Fellow and renowned expert on the history of liturgy–argue that Smith composed the text. The sexual undertones of the document have led some to suggest, explicitly or by innuendo, that Smith, a gay man, forged the text for personal reasons. In fact, Smith laid relatively little emphasis on the document’s sexual implications, as opposed to the more general evidence, as he saw it, that Christ taught salvation through sin. But Jeffrey, in the course of an intricate, minutely detailed analysis, argues that Smith deliberately made his case by indirection, distracting readers from his true purpose as a magician distracts the members of his audience.
Who is right? One problem with the scholarly arguments–a problem that often comes up in arguments about the authenticity of a text–is that they have tended to move in spirals. Is the letter really by Clement? From Smith on, scholars have attacked this problem by comparing the letter’s language and syntax with those of Clement’s better-known works, using detailed indexes published in the 1930s. The document is full of words and thoughts that appear only in Clement. Some are unique. But does that mean, as Smith held, that Clement wrote it? Or that its author–perhaps Smith–steeped himself in Clement, using the modern indexes that listed every word in his writings, before he went to work? Some claim that the document uses too many words found only in Clement–is, in other words, too Clementine–to be genuine. Others disagree. In the absence of a complete corpus of his work–something we have for no ancient writer–how can we know, except by assuming what we want to prove? Stalemate threatens.
Some of the arguments, pro and con, have reached a staggering level of ingenuity. In the document, Clement warns against the Carpocratians’ interpolated Gospel: “the true things being mixed with inventions, are falsified, so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor.” This reads like an analogy between the words of the text and the Christians themselves, to whom Jesus had said, in the Gospel of Matthew, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” But Carlson argues that ancient salt–which came in lumps, not in free-flowing crystals–could not be adulterated, as Clement suggests. Only after 1910 did a chemist find a way to keep salt from clumping. He, of course, worked for Morton Salt. Could Morton Smith have mischievously added the salt reference to assert his authorship, as forgers sometimes do? The new text was entered in the last pages of the 1646 edition of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. The corpus of Ignatius’s letters had included forgeries, which the editor of that edition, Isaac Vossius, omitted. The first page of Clement’s letter actually faces the end of the printed text of Vossius’s commentary, where the editor denounces forgers. Could Smith have chosen these endpapers for his text in order to let the cleverest readers know that he had written the letter himself? Or are these coincidences simply the result of chance? The more questions are raised, the more evidence is brought into play, the more the letter becomes a Rorschach for its readers and the harder some find it to decide what they think. Even Bart Ehrman, a University of North Carolina professor who has written some notably polemical popular works on the corruption and interpolation of all the documents of early Christianity, refuses to take a firm position on Secret Mark.
One way to arrive at certainty seems obvious: study the manuscript pages, using scientific methods to date paper and ink, and assess the script, drawing on the less scientific, but still elaborate, methods of paleography. But if the scholarly disputes over Secret Mark resemble the caucus race from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the manuscript plays the role of the Cheshire cat. The volume of Ignatius’s letters remained at Mar Saba, where Smith left it, until the 1970s. But then it was transferred to the library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. And here it disappeared–or so, at least, the librarians claim–without ever being subjected to chemical tests. Stasis again, so it seems.
The situation is distressing–especially for those who admire, as many do, Smith’s immense learning and independence of mind. For in his case it has particularly unpleasant implications. Smith was the kind of critic who makes grown scholars tear off their own heads for fear of reading his reviews. He regularly pulverized others’ publications, compiling remorseless lists of errors and responding to stupidity with searing wit–as when he suggested that the printer had omitted one word at the end of an especially conventional article in the first volume of TheCambridge History of the Bible: “Amen.” To a conference session in honor of one of his former students, the famously prolific and famously contentious Jacob Neusner, Smith brought two boxes of copies of Saul Lieberman’s fiercely negative review of Neusner’s “preliminary translation” of the Palestinian Talmud. When recognized during the question period, he read a prepared statement and then “began marching up the aisle like a staff sergeant, distributing the reviews to a stunned audience,” an academic journal reported. Sometimes, Smith was more severe than his victims deserved. But to accuse him of forgery–or deception of any kind–is to call him a hypocrite of a particularly systematic and deliberate type. The worst thing about stasis is that it leaves these suspicions undispelled.
Last year, a distinguished Israeli historian of religion, Guy Stroumsa, set out to settle the question. His interest is understandable: as a young man, he played a minor but meaningful role in the story. In 1976 Stroumsa drove three other scholars–two of whom, David Flusser and Schlomo Pines, were among the greatest of the Hebrew University greats–from Jerusalem to Mar Saba, where they picked up the Vossius edition of Ignatius, still inscribed with the inventory number Smith had given it, and transferred it to Jerusalem. Flusser apparently thought Clement’s letter a fake. But Stroumsa believes the document is genuine. He ascribes most of the resistance to Smith’s groundbreaking discovery to more conventional scholars’ prejudices: discomfort with what they thought they knew about Smith’s sexuality, on the one hand; refusal to accept a radical discovery, on the other. “It is a well-known fact among scientists and epistemologists,” Stroumsa has written, “that it takes a long time, up to thirty years, before scientific breakthroughs are widely acknowledged and their implications fully recognized. Smith published the account of his discovery in 1973. It seems the time has come to accept it.”
To prove that Smith invented nothing, Stroumsa has published a fascinating collection of primary sources: Smith’s correspondence with a lifelong friend, the twentieth century’s greatest Jewish scholar, Gershom Scholem. Smith, an adventurer in life as well as in scholarship, went to Jerusalem in 1940 on a Sheldon Traveling Fellowship awarded him by the Harvard Divinity School. Caught in Palestine by World War II, he spent four years there. At the Hebrew University–the pre-eminent German university in the world in those days, thanks to its faculty of erudite, brilliant refugees–Smith studied classics with Moshe Schwabe and Hans Lewy and Jewish mysticism with Scholem. He helped translate Scholem’s first great book on the Kabbala, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, and translated an ancient Jewish mystical text under Scholem’s supervision. More remarkably, Smith wrote a doctoral dissertation, in Hebrew, on Tannaitic (early rabbinical) parallels to the Gospels and became the Hebrew University’s first Christian PhD. Returning to the United States in 1945, he began a career in the Episcopalian ministry, then moved back into scholarship and became, eventually, a professor of ancient history at Columbia University, where he taught until 1990. From 1945 until Scholem’s death in 1982, the two men corresponded regularly. Their letters, which Stroumsa and associates have edited, open a new window on Smith’s career, the scholarly world in which Smith flourished and the Secret Mark.
For Stroumsa, the documents make one point clear beyond doubt: Smith could not have forged Clement’s letter or Secret Mark. For Smith’s letters show him discussing the material with Scholem, over time, in ways that clearly reflect a process of discovery and reflection. From the start, he was sure he had a new work of Clement’s on his hands. In August 1959, Smith wrote to Scholem that “the material by Clement of Alexandria which I found at Mar Saba last year is turning out to be of great importance, and as soon as I get all minor nuisances off my hands I must work hard at it.” Later that year he went into more detail, noting that the letter “contains some amazing information about the Carpocratians and the Gospel according to Mark.” By early 1961 he was working up the materials that eventually went into his two books.
But the more radical conclusions took time to emerge. Not until October 1962 did Smith tell Scholem that “I am really beginning to think Carpocrates and the sort of things he represented (and especially the ascent through the heavens) were far closer to Jesus than has ever been supposed.” If Smith really forged Clement’s letter, then he also must have spent years deliberately deceiving one of the few scholars he deeply respected. Yet he showed remarkable equanimity when his efforts proved partly unsuccessful. When Smith’s scholarly book on Secret Mark appeared, Scholem accepted the letter as Clementine. But though he appreciated Smith’s evidence about the magical side of early Christianity as “very good and convincing as far as it pertains to the tradition of the original church,” he also found himself “not sure whether the story can be truly taken as historical evidence about Jesus himself.” Smith, in his reply, showed only gratitude for his friend’s detailed critical response: “Your letter pleased me very much and I thank you most sincerely for writing me at such length about my book…. As to Jesus, I should perhaps have emphasized more strongly that all accounts of his teaching and practice are conjectural, and I claim to my own conjectures only that they fit the reports as well as any and better than most.” This is the tone of a colleague in inquiry, not a foiled forger.
Scholem, after all, was famous as a scholar for two qualities: a passionate interest in the occult, esoteric and antinomian elements of the Jewish tradition, and a fastidious intolerance of incompetent scholarship that matched Smith’s. In 1972 the Jewish scholar Amos Funkenstein and the Christian historian Martin Marty, as well as Smith, published reviews of the three volumes of The Cambridge History of the Bible. In the course of his detailed review of Volume 2, Funkenstein–who could quote reams of texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin from memory–complained that the book failed to deal with the influence of the medieval Jewish thinker Ramban (Nachmanides) on Christians like Meister Eckhart. From Scholem’s erudite, minutely critical point of view, this apparently precise remark was actually a gaffe–one so serious as to reveal that Funkenstein was an ignoramus. “What kind of Jewish scholar is this,” he wrote to Smith, “who can confuse the Ramban with the Rambam [Maimonides, the medieval Jewish scholar who actually influenced many Christian thinkers]?” Scholem’s absolute rigor and integrity–as well as his dedication to the study of magic–inspired Saul Lieberman, an authority on the Talmud, to offer the greatest backhanded tribute in the history of scholarly irony when introducing him at the Jewish Theological Seminary: “You know that I believe that mysticism is nonsense, total and complete nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship. And the man who is about to speak knows more about the history of nonsense than anyone has ever known.”
No one understood Scholem’s attitude better, or shared it more completely, than Smith. He took one lesson above all away with him from Jerusalem: “the difference,” as he put it in 1945, “between books, on the one hand, that display a special way of thinking that is worth reflecting on, and all other books, on the other hand.” Smith’s sense that most scholarship was second-rate made him reluctant to become a professor, since he felt “more and more opposed to the reading of the nonsense that needs to be read to become an expert in any given research method.” Even after he decided to cast his lot with Wissenschaft, and even after his success was assured, he wondered–as he confided to Scholem–“why is it that the study of religion attracts so many nitwits?” He took delight in witnessing the “squelches” that Scholem administered to lesser scholars during a conference discussion. Nothing pleased Smith more about the visiting professorship he helped arrange for Scholem at Brown University, it seems, than being able to explain why the university’s professor of Old Testament did not want Scholem to require that students in his seminar know Hebrew: “He says he thinks there would be a number of students who would like to take a seminar with you, but who could not meet that requirement. (He is right at least as to one student–himself…).” To Stroumsa, it seems psychologically impossible that Smith could have spent years deceiving the man to whom he owed, and whom he admired, so much, and whom he saw as one of the few who shared his sense of what makes true scholarship.
Yet the depth and rigor of Smith’s scholarship don’t necessarily absolve him from suspicion. Great scholars–scholars intolerant of complacency, stupidity and error–have also been forgers. Erasmus, the greatest of the Renaissance humanists, insisted that theologians read the New Testament in the original Greek, not just the Latin Vulgate. He also omitted a controversial verse that supported the doctrine of the Trinity from his edition of the New Testament when he found that the Greek manuscripts did not contain it. This daring scholarly move brought swarms of traditionalists out of their nests, determined to sting him. He cheerfully beat them off–until they produced a manuscript written for the occasion in which the verse appeared in Greek. In his commentaries on the texts and in his satires, Erasmus rallied scholars across Europe to join him in extirpating the folly and ignorance of conventional theologians–for instance, the Dominicans who used the Bible to support the persecution of witches. Yet we know he forged a complete work by the early Christian writer Cyprian in order to support his views about Christian martyrdom.
Smith’s letters, moreover, show that he possessed at least a couple of the qualities of the successful forger, and in spades. Unlike British and European scholars, most Americans receive relatively little training in composing ancient Greek and Latin. We have as yet produced no counterpart to “Herodotus at the Zoo,” a brilliant homage to the Greek traveler and historian Herodotus composed by the legendary expert on Athenian pottery, J.D. Beazley. Smith, however, was a gifted and assured practitioner of prose composition–he wrote his dissertation and his first letters to Scholem in Hebrew. Most philologists, as is well known, have little sense of humor–something every forger needs. But Smith’s letters are consistently witty, at others’ expense and his own. In 1960, when he decided to turn down an offer from Cornell and stay at Columbia, he explained his decision to Scholem with a characteristically neat paradox: “If I buried myself in Ithaca I should never forgive myself for having sacrificed the theater and the opera and the galleries, but so long as I stay here I can indefinitely put off going to them, and feel happy and virtuous about it.” A really good academic novelist–someone like Allegra Goodman, who wove the dismal straw of contemporary laboratory life into fictional gold in Intuition–could find rich material here for a tale of how the ironist of Providence and Morningside Heights became the forger of Mar Saba.
But another story–a less dramatic one suggested by the letters–seems much more likely to be the true one. When Scholem learned that the Mar Saba discoveries bore on the Carpocratians, he replied enthusiastically: “I am amazed to hear that there is still unknown information about the Carpocratians to be found. Those are the Frankists of Antiquity. Produce it as soon as possible!” The Frankists were the followers of Jacob Frank, an eighteenth-century Polish Jew who had taught that those who followed him were free from the law and should pursue salvation through ecstatic sexuality. In a famous essay published in 1937, not long before Smith joined him in Jerusalem, Scholem explored the mysteries of what he called “redemption through sin”: “It would be pointless to deny that the sexual element in this outburst was very strong: a primitive abandon such as the Jewish people would scarcely have thought itself capable of after so many centuries of discipline in the Law joined hands with perversely pathological drives to seek a common ideological rehabilitation.” In this characteristically imaginative way, Scholem, no religious believer, re-created the deep meanings that Judaism had even–or especially–for its heretics in another age.
How much of Scholem’s vision did Smith take away with him from Jerusalem? Back in America in the late 1940s, Smith wrote to Scholem as a busy, engaged Episcopalian cleric, giving sermons and organizing youth groups. Soon afterward, however, he abandoned the church for the academy. The evidence of the letters–like that of his books–makes clear that he also abandoned, and even came to despise, Christianity (in one letter to Scholem he thanked “the non-existent” for a special piece of good fortune). Again and again, over the past 200 years, Christians and Jews raised in traditional Orthodox communities have found their faith challenged, or even destroyed, when a training in scholarship forced them to confront the fact that the Bible is not infallible. Bart Ehrman, for example, has described how studying New Testament textual criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary prompted him to stop “reading the Bible as an inerrant blueprint for our faith, life, and future” and to start “seeing it as a very human book, with very human points of view, many of which differ from one another and none of which provides the inerrant guide to how we should live.”
As a midcentury Episcopalian, Smith would never have thought the Bible inerrant. But he did think almost that of Scholem. Could Scholem’s enthusiastic comparison of Carpocrates to Frank have set Smith on the way to making Jesus a magician? Could Scholem’s teaching have inspired Smith to rethink the nature of religious experience, and Christianity, and find new meanings in the life of Jesus? It seems very likely, to me at least, that Scholem’s way of thinking about redemption and salvation, religion and sex, acted slowly but irrevocably on Smith–in just the time-bomb way that great teaching often acts: like so many of the great Jewish scholars he knew, he found in history of a particular kind a way to appreciate the emotional richness of traditions to which he could no longer pledge personal loyalty. In The Secret Gospel, Smith described Scholem’s deep impact on him and recalled that when he told Scholem about the letter, “he pounced immediately on the mention of the Carpocratians,” whose leader supposedly “taught that sin was a means of salvation…. A remotely similar theme was important in the writings of some seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jewish heretics whom Scholem had been studying (Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank).”
The newly published letters, though they suggest and support this reading, don’t quite clinch the case: indeed, they suggest that Smith, writing years later, may have remembered as conversations exchanges that actually took place on paper. I believe that Smith really found his letter, and that Scholem gave him the framework into which he inserted it. But that’s just what I think. Many will disagree. This time, the professor is the Cheshire cat. He smiles and is gone.
“We’re losing the war against obesity in the U.S.,” says chef Jamie Oliver. “Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents.”
HBO shed a harsh light on the obesity epidemic last week with its four-part documentary, “The Weight of the Nation.” The question is: What do we do about it? Critics of the program complained that it didn’t advocate for policy changes. But perhaps it’s up to people to inspire change, to spread awareness and to add pressure to the makers and sellers of harmful food by not buying their products.
That’s certainly Oliver’s view. “I’ve given up on governments,” he said in an interview with The Times. “But I have endless hope and faith in people once they are given knowledge and skills. I’ve certainly seen all over the world in many different communities that, once people have a few skills and confidence, they make different choices in the grocery store. Once they make different choices in the grocery store — and on the Main Street fast-food restaurants — then companies will be forced to serve a higher quality offer. That’s when the real change happens.”
To that end, Oliver launched Food Revolution Day on May 19, a global initiative “to inspire, educate, and empower people everywhere to stand up for real food.” Oliver said that about 60 countries participated, with people hosting dinner parties and other food-conscious events within their communities. “And this is just the beginning.”
Oliver, for his part, spent the afternoon at UCLA in his “Big Rig” kitchen truck, teaching children of the Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club how to cook healthful meals. He has paid particular attention to children, as viewers saw on his “Food Revolution” program on ABC, which chronicled his efforts to reform school lunch programs. “I want them to learn about fresh food, where it comes from and how to cook it,” he said. “Kids really thrive when they’re just given some ownership over what they’re cooking.”
Later, he hosted a dinner party turned think tank above Gjelina in Venice. At the event, which I attended, Oliver spoke about taking social action by becoming involved in the community, which is an area where he has a proven track record. He also challenged the guests to brainstorm ways that Food Revolution may continue to make an impact. Ideas included grading food products with simple letters and initiating more gross-out awareness campaigns a la pink slime. Some suggested getting more high-profile figures involved to endorse healthy eating, like Adrian Grenier, who was in attendance and counts himself among Oliver’s “soldiers.” (He can actually cook too.) Another idea: Directing attention to adults with such programs as Time Warner’s Fit Nation, which rewards employees who participate in healthy-living challenges.
All of this isn’t to say Oliver doesn’t think we should allow ourselves the occasional indulgence. About President Obama eating a burger in front of photographers, he said: “Burgers are a wonderful thing when made from good quality meat by someone who cares about cooking them. I’m not anti-burger. I am anti-[expletive] burgers made from poor quality meat.”
They are called “atmospheric aerosols”. They are apparently being sprayed aloft to reflect heat back into space and reduce global warming.
I really don’t know whether to believe in chem trails as non-naturally occuring. But there is some evidence that governments are spraying aluminum particles into the atmosphere, and so I remain open minded but skeptical.
The science of osteoporosis and its resultant fractures has long been plagued by some vexing observations. Why, for example, are osteoporotic fractures relatively rare in Asian countries like Japan, where people live as long or longer than Americans and consume almost no calcium-rich dairy products? Why, in Western countries that consume the most dairy foods, are rates of osteoporotic fractures among the highest in the world? And why has no consistent link been found between the amount of calcium people consume and protection against osteoporosis?
An alternative theory of bone health may — or may not — explain these apparent contradictions. It is the theory of low-acid eating, a diet laden with fruits and vegetables but relatively low in acid-producing protein and moderate in cereal grains. Its proponents suggest that this menu plan could lead to stronger bones than the typical American diet rich in dairy products and animal protein, often enhanced by calcium supplements.
These dietary changes might even prevent or delay other chronic conditions that rob far too many people of a wholesome old age.
The low-acid theory was first fully promulgated in 1968 by two American doctors in the leading medical journal The Lancet and has since been the subject of much debate and confusion among bone specialists.
At the same time, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine are studying the possible bone benefits of adding protein supplements to the diets of older Americans who habitually consume low levels of protein.
Dr. Karl Insogna, a professor of internal medicine directing the study, said in an interview that the 18-month placebo-controlled study would determine whether raising protein intake to a more normal range could increase bone mineral density and help prevent osteoporosis in people over age 60.
Science of the Skeleton
Bones are not immutable. Rather, they are continually being broken down and rebuilt, and when breakdown exceeds buildup, they get progressively weaker. Vital to the solid framework of the body, bones play an equally important metabolic role hidden from casual observation.
Bones are the storage tank for calcium compounds that regulate the acid-base balance of the blood, which must be maintained within a very narrow range. When the blood becomes even slightly too acid, alkaline calcium compounds — like calcium carbonate, the acid-neutralizer in Tums — are leached from bones to reduce the acidity.
The researchers note that fruits and vegetables are predominantly metabolized to alkaline bicarbonate, whereas proteins and cereal grains are metabolized to acids. The more protein people consume beyond the body’s true needs, the more acidic their blood can become and the more alkaline compounds are needed to neutralize the acid.
In one study by Dr. Dawson-Hughes and colleagues, published in January in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 171 healthy men and women age 50 and older were treated with either bicarbonate or no bicarbonate. Those receiving bicarbonate, in an amount equivalent to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, experienced much lower levels of calcium loss in the urine, as well as a loss of N-telopeptide, the biochemical marker of bone resorption.
(By contrast, Dr. Insogna said that although eating more protein raised the loss of calcium in urine, it also improved intestinal absorption of calcium and thus might not result in bone loss.)
The Dawson-Hughes team concluded that increasing the alkaline content of the diet by eating more fruits and vegetables should be studied as a safe and low-cost approach to preventing osteoporosis and improving bone health in older Americans.
The finding is consistent with current recommendations from several federal health agencies to consume nine servings daily of fruits and vegetables. That amount has been shown to lower blood pressure and has been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Now prevention of osteoporosis might be added to the list.
As the book authors point out, “animal foods, especially cheeses and meats, don’t contain much alkaline material” and hardly enough to “neutralize all the acids they introduce into the bloodstream; the body must draw calcium compounds from bone to restore optimal blood pH,” a measure of acidity. On the other hand, the alkaline material in fruits and vegetables, which are low in protein, can buffer that acidity.
Except for hard cheeses, which are acid-producing, most dairy foods, including milk, are “metabolized to compounds that are essentially neutral,” Dr. Dawson-Hughes said.
In their exhaustive review of the scientific literature, Dr. Lanou and Mr. Castleman found that “two-thirds of clinical trials show that milk, dairy foods and calcium supplements do not prevent fractures.” They conclude that the high fracture rate in countries that consume the most milk and dairy products results from the fact that “these affluent Western countries also consume the most meat, poultry and fish.”
Lessons From Research
This does not mean that older people, many of whom chronically consume too little protein, should avoid this essential nutrient, which helps prevent frailty and the falls that result in fractures. Nor must people become vegetarians to maintain strong bones.
But it does suggest that those at the high end of protein consumption may be better off eating less protein in general and less animal protein in particular and replacing it with more fruits and vegetables. Consider adhering to the amount of protein that health experts recommend, which has a built-in safety factor of 45 percent above the minimum daily requirement and is based on ideal (not actual) body weight and age.
For an adult, that amount in grams is 0.36 multiplied by ideal body weight. Thus, a woman who should weigh 120 pounds needs only 44 grams of protein a day, the amount in 3 ounces of flounder, one piece of tofu and a cup of cooked bulgur. A 60-pound 8-year-old (the multiplier is 0.55) would need only 2 ounces of chicken and one-half cup of cottage cheese to get the recommended 32 grams of protein.
Burger lovers are not having an easy time lately. Last month, news broke that the USDA’s National School Lunch Program had recently purchased seven million pounds of something delectably called “pink slime.”
Soon thereafter, news reports trumpeted that pink slime hasn’t just been making its way into school lunches, as bad as that sounds. In recent years, nearly a billion pounds of this ammonia-laced burger filler have been mixed annually into the ground beef sold in the U.S. As a result, more than two-thirds of the nation’s pre-made burger patties have contained pink slime.
The name “pink slime” sounds, well, slimy, but what exactly is it? The answer isn’t reassuring. In fact, it’s as gross as it seems. Just 10 years ago, according to Mary Jane’s Farm, “the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called ‘trimmings’ that were sold primarily as pet food.” But then Beef Products, Inc. began converting the stuff into a mash and treating it with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria. The resulting product was given the name pink slime by Gerald Zirnstein, a microbiologist working for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. He said it was “not meat,” but “salvage.” Zirnstein added: “I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”
Does such fraudulent labeling still take place? In March, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer reported that 70 percent of U.S. supermarket ground beef contained pink slime, and that it is often labeled “100% ground beef.”
After the ABC special generated a great deal of negative attention to pink slime, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press conference in an effort to defend the product. His justification for including it in the school lunch program? He said it is safe, cheap and helps to fight childhood obesity. The main problem, he said, is the unfortunate name “pink slime.” That night, Jon Stewart offered his help. He suggested that, instead, consumers adopt the term “ammonia-soaked centrifuge-separated byproduct paste.”
The beef industry shot back, saying the proper term is “lean finely textured beef” and suggesting it simply be called “LFTB.” The following night, Stephen Colbert agreed. “Yes, LFTB,” he said, “because our beef now has so many hormones, it’s a member of the transgender community.”
And now, as if the burger business needed any more bad press, a case of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE) has been discovered in a California dairy cow. In the U.S., virtually all dairy cows are eventually ground up into burgers.
Mad cow disease, or BSE, you may remember, is the infection that decimated English cattle herds in the 1980s and 1990s, and caused hundreds of deaths in humans from a gruesome and lethal brain disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). When a former cattle rancher, Howard Lyman, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, explaining that the very same livestock-feeding practices that had caused the problem in England were in place in the U.S., Oprah famously remarked, “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger.”
The beef industry doesn’t like anyone causing their market to shrink, so they sued Oprah for $20 million, telling her they would drop the case if she’d eat a hamburger on her show. She refused, and they brought the case in Amarillo, Texas, distributing bumper stickers throughout the town stating “the only mad cow in Amarillo is Oprah.” It was a bitterly contested case, and the cattlemen spent many millions on attorney fees, but to no avail. After Oprah won, she appeared on the court room steps and fiercely proclaimed: “The First Amendment not only lives, it rocks. And I’m still never going to eat another hamburger.”
Soon thereafter, the U.S. cattle industry ceased the feeding practices that Lyman had said could lead to a major pandemic of the disease in the U.S. And as far as the beef industry was concerned, the matter was settled. That is, until now.
The appearance this week of a case of mad cow disease in the U.S. herd has made a lot of people very nervous. Two major South Korean retailers immediately pulled U.S. beef from their stores, and Indonesia has banned all imports of U.S. beef. Faced with yet another blow to their image and their revenues, the U.S. meat industry is frantic to reassure the public.
Meat industry officials are pointing to the rarity of BSE in the U.S. as evidence that U.S. burgers are safe to eat. An American Meat Institute executive vice-president, James Hodges, is repeatedly reminding the media, government officials, and the public that only four American animals, including this new case, have been diagnosed with the disease in the last 10 years. “That translates into one of the lowest rates of BSE in any nation that has ever diagnosed a case,” he says proudly.
But there’s a problem. Could this be a case of “Don’t look, don’t find”? Nearly 34 million cattle are slaughtered every year in the U.S. Of those, only 40,000 are tested for BSE. That’s about one in every thousand animals. If we tested 80,000, would we find two? If we tested them all, would we find 1,000 cases a year? One cow can make its way into many thousands of burgers. So then, how many burgers might be contaminated?
No one knows. And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the U.S. meat industry would like to keep it that way. The disease in humans is invariably fatal, but it takes years to show up, and can appear to be an early-onset and rapidly developing dementia. As a result, it is very difficult to track.
A key to solving the case at hand is finding where and when the cow was born. But tracking how this dairy cow came to be infected with BSE is not a simple matter, because the U.S. is one of the only beef-producing countries in the world that does not have a mandatory identification system that tracks animals from birth through slaughterhouse. Even Botswana tracks its cattle with microchips. In New Zealand, bar codes on meat packages enable consumers to learn just about anything they want to know about the history of the animal whose flesh they might consume.
There have of course been many attempts in the U.S. to create a national identification system for cattle. But they have all been stymied by resistance from segments of the cattle industry.
This recent case of mad cow disease could be an isolated case. It could amount to nothing more than a fleeting news item. That, certainly, is what the U.S. meat industry would like officials to think, and what it would like consumers to believe.
On the other hand, mad cow disease is no joke. It killed hundreds of people in England who ate burgers they had no way of knowing might be tainted.
And here’s another point. Even if a burger isn’t carrying mad cow disease, and even if it isn’t filled with ammonia-laced pink slime, should we be eating it? Last month one of the largest studies in medical history was reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. More than 120,000 people were followed for almost 3 million person-years. What did the researchers find? That consumption of red meat is linked to an increased risk of premature mortality, not just from heart disease and cancer, as had already been known, but from all causes.
(NaturalNews) Preservatives and synthetic food agents found in foods inhibit oxygen and delay the development of fungus and mold, creating a longer shelf-life for products. But after being consumed, these toxins deprive human cells of oxygen and rob them of nutrients, thus leading to cell mutation and the perfect breeding ground for cancer.
Just like humans, cells need oxygen to survive and thrive. “Fungus fighting” preservatives and man-made food agents choke out your body’s nutrients at the DNA level by depriving mitochondrial cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. And if the body does not have enough essential nutrients, it becomes more susceptible to disease.
Longer shelf life, shorter human life
If you’re not a label-reader already, you better become one soon. You don’t have to be a chemist or a linguist either, just be able to sight read and spot the poisons so you can live cancer-free. Most food toxins are followed by a phrase, often in parenthesis, to make them sound “safe” and in your best interest, like “as a preservative,” or “for added freshness,” or “to preserve flavor.” These catchy little phrases really mean for the added choking of your cells to aid with cancer development.
The top 10 cell stranglers revealed
The United States has several major regulatory agencies and “cancer prevention” organizations which have not only been suppressing natural cancer cures for 70 years, but have been approving, supporting, endorsing and profiting from cancer-causing agents in food, beverages and cosmetics since World War II.
1. Sodium Benzoate: This stealthy killer flies under most people’s radar, and is found in just about everything in jars and bottles, like salad dressing, pickles, sauces, mayonnaise, almost all soda and juice drinks, and even in foods labeled as “all natural.”
2. Canola Oil: This artificial, Canadian-exported GMO is super popular and is found in over 30% of all products. It chokes out your mitochondrial cells. Canola oil is really rapeseed oil and can cause emphysema and respiratory distress, eventually leading to cancer.
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): The FDA allows 20 “pseudo” names for it including autolyzed yeast extract, free glutamate, glutamic acid, soy lecithin, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed corn, hydrolyzed soy protein, and maltodextrin to name a few. Just because a product says “No MSG” doesn’t mean it’s not in there!
4. Sodium Nitrates (nitrosamines): Used for fertilizers and explosives, and as a solvent in the dry cleaning industry. This ingredient keeps hemoglobin molecules in your blood from carrying oxygen to your body tissues. It’s considered a “super salt” (like MSG) added to things like hot dogs, cold cuts and bacon for added shelf-life, color and flavor. Problems compound when microwaved.
5. Margarine: The body cannot incorporate trans-fatty acids into membranes, thus causing deformed cellular structures. Vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils accelerate aging and degenerative changes in tissues.
6. Anti-foaming agents: (Dimethylpolysiloxane) An industrial chemical used in caulks and sealants. This component is mostly used in fast food chicken nuggets and eggs. Also watch for TBHQ, a petroleum derivative, used as a stabilizer in perfumes, resins, varnishes and oil field chemicals, and linked to stomach tumors and DNA damage.
7. Anti-caking agents: Chemicals that absorb moisture and prevent other compounds from sticking together. These are added to table salt and powdered food products. They are often composed of phosphate, carbonate, silicate and oxide compounds which contain aluminum. Watch for sodium alumino-silicate, alumino-calcium silicate and aluminium silicate. Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s and is also used in flu shots and vaccines.
8. Artificial colorings: Synthetic petrochemicals made from petroleum, antifreeze and ammonia. Blue #1 causes kidney tumors in mice. Red #2 and Blue #2 cause brain and bladder tumors in rats. Red #3 causes thyroid cancer in animals, and is banned in cosmetics, but still allowed in food. Red #40 debilitates the immune-system. Green #3 causes bladder and testes tumors. Yellow #5 and #6 cause adrenal tumors in animals.
9. Emulsifiers: Carrageenan, polysorbate 80 and brominated vegetable oil (BVO). These are stabilizing, smoothing and thickening agents. They are typically found in chocolate milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, infant formula and jelly. BVO remains in body fat for years. Polysorbate 80 is also found in most vaccines.
10. Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Sucralose, Sorbitol, Truvia, and of course, Saccharin. Because they taste sweet, these chemical sweeteners trick the body into ingesting them and holding on to them for extended periods of time, turning rancid in the body fat. Fake sugars are the “Trojan horses” of the cell-choking and mutating, food agent industry. Sorbitol is also found in many vaccines.
America has been breeding and treating cancer with chemicals for 70 years
How does a politician running for office or for a position with a United States Government regulatory agency guarantee winning that election or appointment? He or she simply supports the insidious toxic food and medicine industry by meeting with lobbyists, promising the approval of chemical food agents that strangulate human DNA cells, and furthering legislation which supports cancer treatments to do more of the same.
Besides the wars in the Middle East, there’s a Domestic War going on right now in our country, so pay very close attention to everything you eat, and every “medicine” your doctor recommends. Also, do some research of your own if you want to protect your cells and keep them oxygenated, preventing cancer and other disease.
Corporations by today’s definition, are obligated to make as much money as they can. But a new kind of corporation is changing that and potentially our economy, too.
April 15, 2012 |
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Dusit
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In 2012 corporations reign supreme. Citizens for Tax Justice reports that 26 Fortune 500 companies — including General Electric, Verizon and Mattel — paid no federal income taxes from 2008 through 2011. Big banks have gotten big bailouts, while kicking back hundreds of millions to elected officials and political parties in the last year alone. It took the government only 18 months to award BP another permit for deep water drilling in the Gulf after its catastrophic well blowout in 2010.
It doesn’t seem to matter if corporations cripple the economy, destroy communities or trash the environment, it’s still an all-you-can-eat buffet for them. The 2010 Citizens United decision was icing on the cake. Politicians eat from the hand of the corporate kingmakers. The rest of us muscle for the crumbs.
It hasn’t always been like this. When the American colonies were first starting out, incorporation was granted for things that would benefit the public good — like building roads. But corporations by today’s definition, are obligated to make as much money as they can. They are legally beholden to shareholders and the bottom line and that makes being “good” difficult and risky.
“The public benefit has all too often been subverted as a result,” writes Francesca Rheannon on the Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire. “Those corporations that sincerely wanted to operate according to the Triple Bottom Line (variously characterized, but traditionally defined, as ‘People, Profits, Planet’) have had to privilege profit over the other two goals, or risk shareholders’ wrath if pursuing environmental or social goals lessened potential financial returns.”
But that may be changing with the nonprofit B Lab, which started a program less than two years ago to certify a new kind of corporation — a Benefit Corporation or B Corp.
In that short time over 500 companies have become B Corps. Legislation to change corporate law and make B Corps official entities has been signed in seven states — Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, California, Hawaii and New York — with legislation pending in seven more states. The folks behind B Corps believe that, “Governments and nonprofits are necessary but insufficient to solve today’s most pressing problems. Business is the most powerful force on the planet and can be a positive instrument for change.”
Our vision is simple yet ambitious: to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation — the B Corporation — that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
B Corp in Action
In 1995 in Corte Madre, California, Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell launched Equator out of a warehouse with a few employees. Today the company has grown into a successful boutique artisan coffee roaster. It has 22 employees and roasts 700,000 pounds of coffee annually, supplying some of the best restaurants, including many San Francisco Bay Area favorites like Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Pascal Rigo’s La Boulange bakeries, Tracy Des Jardin’s Jardinière, and Sharon Ardiana’s Gialina.
Equator has been praised for its quality as well as its mission. “They started out very modestly, and as they have gotten bigger they have had to make choices concerning their growth,” said Ardiana. “They have always had a keen eye concerning making choices that are sustainably based, rather than purely profit driven. Equator really is a model for other businesses, no matter how large or small, to evaluate their practices and make changes. Because every little bit does matter! They have a huge composting program that incorporates all of the chafe and coffee grounds. They even rethought their bagging. Going from a black treated bag to a natural brown one, even though the black one from a branding prospective was their look.”
“We’ve always been fairly progressive and thoughtful in how we run our business — we’re women-owned and green-certified,” said Equator founder Russell. They also bought Priuses for service cars, a biodiesel delivery truck, and an energy efficient roaster that uses 80 percent less natural gas. They worked to build direct relationships with coffee growers, aided their efforts with micro-loan programs, and started their own farm in Panama, which is a year away from harvest. Their employees have health insurance, opportunities for professional growth and profit sharing.
This year, they took their commitments to the next level by becoming a B Corp. “We want to be a truly triple bottom line company — and how do you do that?” asks Russell. “We felt it was a good way to educate our customers and consumers about the work that we’ve been doing. It is a way for consumers to easily identify what our values are and mission is. It’s the same thing that Fair Trade certification did for coffee 15 years ago.”
The B Corp process assesses companies on their environmental, community and workforce impact. While Equator scored high enough to qualify for the program, they’re already seeing ways in which they can be even better.
“One of our roles as an organization is to educate the consumer,” said Maureen McHugh, Equator’s vice-president of operations. “We feel strongly that this is a positive role for business.” The B Corp label helps them take the conversation with consumers to another level. It becomes not just about ensuring a “green” or socially conscious end product, but about guaranteeing the entire process is sustainable and fair. “Capitalism is changing — we are moving to more of a stakeholder economy. Equator coffee is such an identifiable chain from the farm to here — there are so many stakeholders in that chain,” said Russell. And the B Corp program helps to make that chain transparent to consumers and investors.
Russell see B Corps as the changing face of business. “There is a shift happening, there is a need for it. It can’t just be about shareholder value, it’s about everyone in the chain, all boats have to be raised or I don’t know where the capitalism model will go if we don’t go in this direction.”
The model for Russell’s company gets to the heart of B Corps. “We have to grow revenue to grow our impact — the more coffee we can sell, the more we can do for our employees and farming partners. Grow revenue, equals grow impact.”
The Business of Saving the World
While the coffee world has set up some of their own product standards through Fair Trade certification, most other industries operate without third-party verification and it can be hard to tell a green and socially conscious business from just clever marketing and a big ad budget. B Corp, however, holds a company accountable for not just its impact, but its mission. In fact B Corps have a Declaration of Interdependence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That we must be the change we seek in the world.
That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
Last month B Labs released its list of the top companies that are the “best for the world.” In terms of overall impact, they highlighted companies such as Method Products, Better World Books, Global Green Energy Corp, Namaste Solar, Piedmont Biofuels, New Resource Bank, Re:Vision Architecture, to name a few. They also recognized the top performers for environmental impact like Patagonia, Bullfrog Power, Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, IceStone, gDiapers, Larry’s Beans. For community impact there was Change.org, Care2, Cap Global, Virginia Community Capital, Ideal Network and for worker impact there was Exponent Partners, Heller Consulting, King Arthur Flour Company, Peaceworks Technology Solutions, Sungevity. The full list of top companies can be found here, along with high-fives for most impactful small companies, too.
While there are a few big names on the list — like Patagonia, Method and Change.org — many of the companies are ones most consumers likely haven’t heard of. As Alex Goldmark writes for GOOD — that’s because many of these companies are actually business-to-business operations. “These businesses deserve twice the recognition because they don’t face the same public pressure to go green,” writes Goldmark. “Of the 19 companies that took the title ‘best for overall impact,’ more than a third are business-to-business. Another third also provide some mix of consumer- and commercial-focused offerings … B Lab measures results and brings us companies that toil away on principal even when nobody’s looking.”
It’s easy to see why a consumer would seek out a B Corp when looking for a product or service. But there is more in it for companies than just winning over progressive-minded consumers and earning the accolades. “For one thing, Benefit Corporations can’t be held liable by courts for failing to place profits over everything else,” writes Jamie Raskin for the Nation. “This is an important shift in law. The fear of shareholder litigation has driven many public-spirited businesses, most famously Ben & Jerry’s, to take the high bid rather than the high road in a corporate takeover fight. Becoming a Benefit Corporation declares legal independence from the profits-über-alles model. More important, having Benefit Corporation status sends a powerful message to shareholders, employees, business partners and consumers about what kind of company you’re running.”
This, Raskin writes, is one of the most powerful shifts we’ve seen in business. “We can have a market economy without having a market society, and we can have prosperous corporations that act with conscience.”
Right now the mighty power of 500 B Corps may be a drop in the bucket compared to the huge multinationals that control our economy and politics. But our business-as-usual model in recent decades has put us on the fast track to financial and ecological ruin. Without a dramatic shift toward revolutionary change, we’re in a mess of trouble. By changing the way we do business, B Corps may be providing an invaluable part of the equation for change.
“It may take a while to displace the rent-seeking leviathans that get rich off lobbying, power plays, pyramid schemes and defense contracts,” concludes Raskin. “Then again, a lot of those companies have relocated their operations abroad in search of cheaper labor, while the Benefit Corporations are taking root and blossoming right here in America, restoring the bonds of community while doing honest commerce. This is what economic recovery looks like.”
Let’s hope you’re not reading this column while munching on a chicken sandwich.
That’s because my topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.
He said that the researchers had intended to test only for antibiotics. But assays for other chemicals and pharmaceuticals didn’t cost extra, so researchers asked for those results as well.
“We haven’t found anything that is an immediate health concern,” Nachman added. “But it makes me question how comfortable we are feeding a number of these things to animals that we’re eating. It bewilders me.”
Likewise, I grew up on a farm, and thought I knew what to expect in my food. But Benadryl? Arsenic? These studies don’t mean that you should dump the contents of your refrigerator, but they do raise serious questions about the food we eat and how we should shop.
It turns out that arsenic has routinely been fed to poultry (and sometimes hogs) because it reduces infections and makes flesh an appetizing shade of pink. There’s no evidence that such low levels of arsenic harm either chickens or the people eating them, but still…
Big Ag doesn’t advertise the chemicals it stuffs into animals, so the scientists conducting these studies figured out a clever way to detect them. Bird feathers, like human fingernails, accumulate chemicals and drugs that an animal is exposed to. So scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University examined feather meal — a poultry byproduct made of feathers.
One study, just published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Science & Technology, found that feather meal routinely contained a banned class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics (such as Cipro), are illegal in poultry production because they can breed antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that harm humans. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. And feather-meal samples from China contained an antidepressant that is the active ingredient in Prozac.
Poultry-growing literature has recommended Benadryl to reduce anxiety among chickens, apparently because stressed chickens have tougher meat and grow more slowly. Tylenol and Prozac presumably serve the same purpose.
Researchers found that most feather-meal samples contained caffeine. It turns out that chickens are sometimes fed coffee pulp and green tea powder to keep them awake so that they can spend more time eating. (Is that why they need the Benadryl, to calm them down?)
The other peer-reviewed study, reported in a journal called Science of the Total Environment, found arsenic in every sample of feather meal tested. Almost 9 in 10 broiler chickens in the United States had been fed arsenic, according to a 2011 industry estimate.
These findings will surprise some poultry farmers because even they often don’t know what chemicals they feed their birds. Huge food companies require farmers to use a proprietary food mix, and the farmer typically doesn’t know exactly what is in it. I asked the United States Poultry and Egg Association for comment, but it said that it had not seen the studies and had nothing more to say.
What does all this mean for consumers? The study looked only at feathers, not meat, so we don’t know exactly what chemicals reach the plate, or at what levels. The uncertainties are enormous, but I asked Nachman about the food he buys for his own family. “I’ve been studying food-animal production for some time, and the more I study, the more I’m drawn to organic,” he said. “We buy organic.”
I’m the same. I used to be skeptical of organic, but the more reporting I do on our food supply, the more I want my own family eating organic — just to be safe.
To me, this underscores the pitfalls of industrial farming. When I was growing up on our hopelessly inefficient family farm, we didn’t routinely drug animals. If our chickens grew anxious, the reason was perhaps a fox — and we never tried to resolve the problem with Benadryl.
My take is that the business model of industrial agriculture has some stunning accomplishments, such as producing cheap food that saves us money at the grocery store. But we all may pay more in medical costs because of antibiotic-resistant infections.
Frankly, after reading these studies, I’m so depressed about what has happened to farming that I wonder: Could a Prozac-laced chicken nugget help?
Decision Comes as WHO Meets to Discuss Global Treaty on Mercury Use
WASHINGTON, April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Chile has become the first developing country to stop the use of mercury in vaccines.
In meetings with the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs (CoMeD) held last week in Santiago, Chile, the current Vice President of the Chilean Senate, Alejandro Navarro Brain, committed to adopting legislation in the Senate that would prohibit the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal from vaccines.
Thimerosal, which is 49% mercury by weight, continues to be used as a preservative in vaccines and other drugs worldwide, despite the fact that it is a human neurotoxin and that safer, less toxic alternatives are readily available.
Chile’s decision comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) meets today in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a global, legally binding treaty on mercury use. That meeting will examine alternative vaccine preservatives, as well as the economic, programmatic, and manufacturing implications of moving to single-dose, preservative-free vaccines. While applauding the WHO for giving the issue of mercury use in vaccines the urgent attention it merits, CoMeD expressed serious reservations about WHO’s decision to meet in closed-door session.
Noting that past closed-door sessions have led to “repeated and, we believe, untrue declarations that there is no evidence of harm from the use of Thimerosal in vaccines,” the Reverend Lisa K. Sykes, President of CoMeD, states, “Such unfounded assertions have led to the establishment of two standards of vaccine safety, one which is predominately mercury-free for developed, western countries and one that is mercury-preserved for developing countries.”
As a result, Rev. Sykes continues, “The most vulnerable among us continue to be intentionally exposed to mercury from Thimerosal in childhood vaccines. This exposure is entirely avoidable, and must be stopped.”
Dr. Mark R. Geier, a CoMeD Director, agrees, adding, “Recent statements by those holding national and global responsibility for vaccine safety are difficult to reconcile with the known and published toxicity of Thimerosal.”
According to CoMeD, numerous scientific studies and extensive peer-reviewed scientific and medical papers have all concluded that Thimerosal poses a significant health risk. Thimerosal manufacturers also acknowledge that the preservative can cause mild to severe mental retardation in children.
For additional information about CoMeD and its work to ban mercury from drugs, including vaccines, worldwide, visit www.mercury-freedrugs.org.
FDA admits in court case that vaccines still contain mercury
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) It is a common myth today that the vaccines administered to children no longer contain the toxic additive thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative linked to causing permanent neurological damage. But a recent federal case involving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed that, contrary to this widely-held belief, thimerosal is actually still present in many batch vaccines, including in the annual influenza vaccine that is now administered to children as young as six months old.
Filed by a citizen-backed coalition advocating vaccine safety, the lawsuit against the FDA alleged that the agency’s continued endorsement and approval of thimerosal as a vaccine additive is a serious public health threat, especially since safer alternatives already exist and are widely used voluntarily by many vaccine manufacturers. But Judge Brett Kavanaugh, siding with antiquated pseudoscience, decided that thimerosal is not a health threat, and that those who wish to avoid it can simply choose thimerosal-free alternatives.
Ignoring the evidence of thimerosal’s dangers brought before him on behalf of the millions of children across the country who continue to be injected with this mercury-based additive, Judge Kavanaugh declared that the plaintiffs, which include groups like the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs (CMFD), did not have proper standing to file the lawsuit. And in the process, both he and the FDA inadvertently admitted that thimerosal is still present in many childhood vaccines, which counters popular claims to the contrary.
FDA admits on its website that thimerosal is still in vaccines
The fact that Judge Kavanaugh refused to hear the case is tragic in and of itself, as thimerosal, which is composed of 50 percent mercury, has been proven to cause serious health damage. But what may be even worse is the fact that many people falsely believe that thimerosal is not even included in vaccines anymore, which is leading them to blindly allow them to be administered to their children. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA have continued to provide dubious and misleading information on the subject, which the mainstream media has been complicit in spreading over the years.
But the FDA explains, in no uncertain terms, directly on its website that thimerosal is still added to certain vaccines. For this reason alone, it is crucial that parents who choose to vaccinate their children ask for an ingredients list for each and every vaccine before allowing them to be administered to their children.
“While the use of mercury-containing preservatives has declined in recent years with the development of new products formulated with alternative or no preservatives, thimerosal has been used in some immune globulin preparations, anti-venins, skin test antigens, and ophthalmic and nasal products, in addition to certain vaccines,” writes the FDA on its Thimerosal in Vaccines page (http://www.fda.gov).
Don’t believe the lie: Thimerosal is eventually converted by the body into highly-toxic inorganic mercury
Another myth often spread by thimerosal advocates claims that the ethylmercury compounds that compose roughly 50 percent of the preservative are not actually harmful because they are different from the type found in a can of tuna. But a comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Paul G. King has proven otherwise, showing that ethylmercury is first metabolized by the body into toxic methylmercury, which is then metabolized into inorganic mercury (http://www.infowars.com).
Both methylmercury and inorganic mercury are listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as toxic substances responsible for causing neurological problems, brain disorders, nervous system illnesses, gastrointestinal problems, kidney failure, respiratory illness, and death (http://www.epa.gov/hg/effects.htm).
You didn’t think I’d miss my chance to weigh in on the latest round of pink slime discussions, did you? Rather than recapitulate the horror that is your favorite form of “lean finely textured beef,” I will instead point you to my favorite statement in defense of pink slime. It was given by American Meat Institute Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren to NPR:
“This is not the same ammonia you’d use in cleaning supplies,” explains Betsy Booren of the AMI Foundation. “It’s a gas, it’s a different compound, and it’s a well-established processing intervention that has a long history of success.”
First off, the AMI Foundation? AMI’s own website identifies the group as “a national trade association that represents companies that process 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey in the U.S. and their suppliers throughout America.” Foundation my arse.
And granted, I’m no chemist — but my understanding is that the form of ammonia used in cleaning products is typically ammonium hydroxide. And the form used in pink slime is … ammonium hydroxide! The only difference is the household cleaner is a liquid and pink slime is treated with a gas.
But that’s not really the issue. When you have to defend your food production practice by saying, “Hey, at least we don’t use household cleaners on it!” you know you’ve got a big problem.
What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’t make you sick. Because, I hate to break it to you folks, but ammonium hydroxide is just one in a long list of unlabeled chemical treatments used on almost all industrial meat and poultry.
Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News dug up this United Stated Department of Agriculture document [PDF], which lists dozens of chemicals that processors can apply to meat without any labeling requirement. Things like calcium hypochlorite (also used to bleach cotton and clean swimming pools), hypobromous acid (also used as a germicide in hot tubs), DBDMH (or 1,3-dibromo-5,5-dimethylhydantoin, which is also used in water treatment), and chlorine dioxide (also used to bleach wood pulp), to name just a few.
All these chemicals can go on meat. Not that you’d know it, because both the industry and the USDA keep it on the down-low. In fact, they work together on this. The USDA requires processors to label certain approved antimicrobials, such as salt, spices, and even lemon as ingredients, but not their hard-to-pronounce brethren. Why not? Perhaps because it might shock and disgust consumers to know how thoroughly their meat must be chemically disinfected before it can be sold. USDA’s head of food safety Elizabeth Hagen told Bottemiller recently that, “Just being honest, I don’t think your average consumer probably knows a lot about how food is produced.” She’s right. We don’t know the half of it — and the more we find out, the angrier many of us get.
Andy Bellatti recently wrote a piece he called “Beyond Pink Slime,” in which he enumerates all the problems with industrial meat production that led it to this point. And in many ways pink slime is the perfect embodiment of a food industry gone off the rails.
In short, they took meat that was too dangerous to feed to humans, disinfected it so thoroughly that a block of the stuff will make your eyes water, and then celebrated the fact that they’d created a two-fer (it’s a food! it’s a disinfectant!). The industry embraced their creation so completely that around 70 percent of all supermarket ground beef now contains the stuff. But this goes way beyond hamburger. As Tom Philpott points out, pink slime is used in a huge variety of products including “hot dogs, lunch meats, chili, sausages, pepperoni, retail frozen entrees, roast beef, and canned foods.” By industry standards, it is nothing short of a food “intervention” success story.
But don’t let the appearance of a back-and-forth debate fool you. Pink slime is truly worse than other forms of disinfected treated meat since the trimmings used in pink slime are known to harbor pathogens at high levels before treatment. Should it disappear from store shelves, however, we can rest assured the meat that remains will continue to be treated with other industrial chemicals. Because that’s — pure and simple — the only way the industrial meat industry can prevent its products from making people sick.
I’d like to see more consumers and media outlets asking why exactly that is.
A 17-year veteran of both traditional and online media, Tom is a founder and Executive Director of the Food & Environment Reporting Network and a Contributing Writer at Grist covering food and agricultural policy. Tom’s long and winding road to food politics writing passed through New York, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, Florence, Italy and Philadelphia (which has a vibrant progressive food politics and sustainable agriculture scene, thank you very much). In addition to Grist, his writing has appeared online in the American Prospect, Slate, the New York Times and The New Republic. He is on record as believing that wrecking the planet is a bad idea. Follow him on Twitter.
How the Sausage is Made: It’s Still a Jungle for Consumers
Daniel Honan on March 17, 2012, 12:00 AM
What’s the Big Idea?
Over the last two weeks, pink slime has become the safe food movement’s equivalent of the Kony 2012 campaign. Over 200,000 people have signed an online petition to ban the use of what the food industry calls “lean beef trimmings” in school lunches. Larger questions have been raised about why it has taken consumer advocates and government watchdogs so long to catch on.
After all, haven’t we seen this movie before?
106 years ago Upton Sinclair blew the whistle on the Chicago stockyards meatpacking industry in his famous muckraking novel The Jungle. I have quoted a representative, nausea-inducing passage from the book below, but here is a quick tease:
These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.
These reports shocked an incredulous nation. President Teddy Roosevelt, for instance, initially concluded that Sinclair must be “a crackpot.” Yet subsequent investigation confirmed Sinclair’s reporting (although claims that workers who fell into rendering vats were ground into lard were not officially substantiated). Public outcry led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and ultimately the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.
And yet, consumer protection requires vigilant oversight, and that is exactly what critics say was lacking during the administration of George H.W. Bush, when low-grade ammonia-treated “lean beef trimmings” previously reserved for pet food were declared safe for human consumption. According to The Daily, health concerns were muted by JoAnn Smith, Undersecretary of the USDA.
Then for the next two decades, apparently, Smith’s successors at the USDA were out to lunch.
What’s the Significance?
Pink slime is everywhere. It’s sold in grocery stores and served in school lunches, meaning most of us have probably consumed it at some point in our lives. The government purchased 7 million pounds of pink slime for school lunches just last year. While the USDA announced it would let schools opt out this week, food administrators and consumers alike have found pink slime to be so ubiquitous that it is nearly impossible to avoid. Some experts estimate it can be found in up to 70 percent of the ground beef sold in grocery stores.
In other words, we know how the sausage is made. We don’t like how it is made, but we don’t know how to avoid it. That is because you will never see packaged meat in the grocery store labeled “pink slime.”
How Can I Avoid Pink Slime In Meat?
Look for meat that is labelled “USDA Organic” and shop at stores such as WholeFoods and Costco that have guaranteed their products don’t contain pink slime. Your other choices are to go vegetarian, or grind your own meat (or watch a butcher do it for you).
In the meantime, if you are looking to give up red meat altogether, this passage from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle might just have the desired effect:
There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white – it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one – there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water – and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast. Some of it they would make into “smoked” sausage – but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it “special,” and for this they would charge two cents more a pound.
(NaturalNews) Genetically modified organisms and bovine growth hormones are in thousands of prescription drugs all over the world without any warning whatsoever. Plus, over 40% of humans are allergic to either consuming or injecting gelatin, which is the most popular hidden animal part in drugs and vaccines today. In fact, the gelatin coatings, capsules and liquid additives for medicines are not made from harmless food, but rather from the skin, cartilage, connective tissues and bones of animals, and to put “nails in the coffin,” these are NOT the grass and grain fed, free range, humanely treated animals, that’s for sure.
For decades now, gelatin has come from abused, hormone-fed, antibiotic injected, sick, dying, and disease laden animals; which means the dead animals that even the fast food giants won’t accept are dumped into grinders and made into gelatin. These poor animals that are shot up with hormones and fed GMO, pesticide-ridden corn by-products their whole lives, have blood infections from mal-nourishment and corn sugar, and this settles into their body, so when humans consume gelatin, they are also consuming these horrific, disease breeding chemicals. Many animals in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in the U.S. and the U.K. are also fed by-products of their own species. Remember the mad cow disease outbreaks?
Meat in Medicine and Vitamins
World wide production of gelatin exceeds 300,000 tons per year. Vegetarians and vegans are usually very careful shoppers, trying to avoid all meat products and chemicals on a regular basis, but millions of consumers do not know about gelatin and where it comes from, and that’s the way the food industry likes it. Vegan or not, everyone who takes vitamins and supplements is likely eating infected animal parts when they swallow gelatin capsules.
A survey in a recent postgraduate Medical journal shows 25% of patients are unknowingly prescribed drugs containing gelatin, contrary to their beliefs. That’s correct: there are unlabeled, cancer-causing growth hormones in prescription pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Are you ready to get that flu shot, or maybe the next swine flu scam shot? In vaccines, gelatin is used as a heat stabilizer and suspension agent. Allergic reactions include abdominal pain and cramping, high pitched breathing sounds, and anaphylaxis (can include swelling of the throat). Vaccine companies cannot guarantee the purity of animal cells used in their vaccine cultures.
Using common sense is vital
Would you take a pill which came in a gelatin capsule that contained a viral and bacterial mixture of the disease which that very pill’s ingredients were intended to prevent? If you could inject a syringe in a diseased cow or pig’s stomach, extract some blood, mix it with a small portion of a specific new disease, and then inject it into your arm, all in hopes of avoiding that disease, even though you might get it from this very procedure anyway, would you do it? Wouldn’t it be wiser to just take vegetarian vitamins and minerals to build up immunity? (http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00112/mad_cow_frameset.htm)
In 1997, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) met with the TSE Advisory Committee (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies; a.k.a. BSE/Mad Cow Disease) to help assess the safety of imported AND domestic gelatin, and gelatin by-products (how much worse can it get?) with regard to the risk of BSE posed by gelatin sourcing and processing. The big question at the meeting was whether the processing procedure was enough to optimally “inactivate” any contaminating agent. They all agreed that the “alkali treatment” was a key step, but also agreed that scientific evidence was “insufficient at this time to demonstrate that these treatments would effectively remove the BSE infectious agent if present in the source material.” (Meaning it’s too late to kill it at the factory).
TSE went on to recommend that the FDA consult “outside experts,” and also assure that manufacturers adhere to these regulations. That’s a complete joke, because the origin of gelatin, as defined by the FDA, states that it is “derived from either bovine, porcine (pig), or other animal source; however, no formally validated reference method to confirm the origin of gelatin’s raw materials is available yet.” So how are those inspections and regulations going to hold water if they don’t even know where the raw materials are coming from? Maybe those raw materials are also cats, dogs and horses?
Plus, if you think for one second that the FDA, the organization which allows nearly 90% of all food to be contaminated with GMO chemicals, is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to consult “outside experts” to review the safety of gelatin, research where it comes from, and inspect the processing plants, you’re dead wrong.
Gelatin is classified as “food stuff” by the FDA, so you can be sure it took years of research and lab testing, and millions of dollars to come up with such a technical and scientific name.
Because of concern over the environment, animal rights, or even their health, more people are adopting a vegetarian diet—see the “Meatless Mondays” movement, for starters—but how to convince hardcore meat-eaters to switch? At the AAAS Meeting on Sunday, a panel of experts talked about the quest to create “test tube burgers” and realistic meat substitutes, which is closer than many of us realize. One scientist revealed the product could even hit store shelves this year.
Meat consumption has a huge environmental impact: it’s a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and foodborne illnesses, like E. coli. By the year 2050, Nicholas Genovese of the University of Missouri told the crowd today, meat consumption will increase by 60 per cent. What’s needed, he continued, is “the next agricultural revolution”—one that changes the way we produce meat. Stanford University’s Patrick Brown and Eindhoven University of Technology’s Mark Post presented two very different visions of what this “new meat” could be.
Mark Post—a doctor by training—is trying to grow meat from animal stem cells. By crafting the skeletal muscle tissue of a pig or cow in the lab, he could actually make meat for eating, he says. They’re working with cow cells at the moment, trying to make a hamburger, and don’t yet have quite enough in the lab to make a meatball; once they do, they’ll cook it and see how it tastes. It’s hard to say how long it will be before we see products like this become widely available: first they have to find a way to significantly up the production, and getting financial backing before there’s a real “proof of concept” is a challenge. Post admitted to having a “reputable” financial backer on this project, but wouldn’t reveal his or her identity. Animal rights group PETA famously offered a $1 million prize to the team that could successfully grow meat in the lab but all these researchers said they don’t intend to claim that prize: as Genovese said, the greatest prize would be creating a technology that can “sustainably support humanity, without destroying the ecosystem.”
Brown, meanwhile, has a different approach: he’s working making meat alternatives from plant sources that can actually compete with beef, pork, chicken and other animal products—even dairy. The point isn’t to make another tofurky or almond milk, he says. It’s to make something that “can compete head-on with meat and dairy products,” especially among meatlovers who’d never touch a veggie burger. A “major Silicon Valley venture firm” is backing him, he said, although he wouldn’t identify which—and, most tantalizingly, he suggested their first meat alternative could be on store shelves within the year. The product “totally rocks,” he says, adding that it’s virtually indistinguishable from what it replaces, “even by hardcore foodies.” But he wouldn’t elaborate on whether it will be more like a steak, sausage, chicken or rack of lamb. Hopefully, he said, the ideal product will be something that can satisfy all meat cravings.
Agricultural farming is “by far the biggest ongoing environmental catastrophe,” Brown said. To find a meat alternative that can really convince people to switch, these three scientists are convinced, could help save the world.
Most people erroneously think proper nutrition is mainly about vitamins and minerals, but there is a whole other world within the plant kingdom: phytonutrients. Photo: MJM
By and large, the most environmentally friendly dietary decision one can make is to eat less animal protein (see deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse-gas emissions, etc). But for many, the notion of eschewing — or significantly cutting back on — meat, eggs, and dairy brings up nutritional concerns. As I see it, not only are those concerns usually unfounded, they should pale in comparison to the question of getting enough plant-based foods.
Let’s begin with protein. Here’s something most people don’t know: Barring oils and some fruits, there is protein in almost every food. Yes, that includes broccoli, spinach, and potatoes. Most people are surprised to learn that a cup of cooked oatmeal offers as much protein as an egg, and an almond butter sandwich on whole grain bread provides 15 grams of protein (around a quarter of a day’s recommendation for a 160-pound male). To determine your protein requirement, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, and then multiply that number by 0.8. You can, of course, surpass that figure.
You’ll hear lots of talk about “complete” versus “incomplete” proteins, but I consider that concept irrelevant and outdated. It goes something like this: Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids (“essential” meaning our bodies don’t produce them, so we need to get them from food); incomplete ones have very low amounts of — or lack — an essential amino acid. Meat, poultry, and fish are complete proteins. While there are some plant-based complete proteins like amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and soy, the vast majority is “incomplete.”
Incomplete proteins are only a concern if someone eats exclusively from one food group (i.e. nothing but potatoes, or nothing but bread) for extended periods of time. Luckily, eating from more than one food group is not only possible, it’s what most of us crave. You would be hard pressed to find someone who won’t naturally, throughout the course of the day, consume food from more than one food group. Even if you subsist on nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for a week you are getting all the essential amino acids (legumes and grains are two different food groups, and it just so happens that the essential amino acids that are low in bread are high in legumes, and vice versa).
Frances Moore Lappé, who popularized the idea of “protein combining” in the first edition of her book Diet For A Small Planet(1971), retracted that theory in the book’s 1981 edition:
In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only way to get enough protein … was to create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought.
With three important exceptions, there is little danger of protein deficiency in a plant food diet. The exceptions are diets very heavily dependent on  fruit or on  some tubers, such as sweet potatoes or cassava, or on  junk food (refined flours, sugars, and fat). Fortunately, relatively few people in the world try to survive on diets in which these foods are virtually the sole source of calories. In all other diets, if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein. [Emphasis mine.]
The other group of plant protein critics are those who believe its quality to be low. They usually reference the “Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score,” which is a tool for measuring protein digestibility in humans. A quick glance at the list and you may conclude that plant-based protein sources are indeed inferior to milk, eggs, and beef. After all, the only plant-based food with a “perfect” score of 1.0 is soy protein, while chickpeas get a 0.78 and vegetables get a 0.73. However, as with the “complete vs. incomplete protein” argument, as long as you eat different types of plant-based foods throughout the course of the day, they will complement each other and form a “perfect” protein score.
As a nutrition professional, I get very frustrated by the protein-centric framework that inevitably comes up when plant-based eating is discussed, particularly because the average American consumes sufficient protein, but nowhere near the daily recommended amounts of fiber and several important minerals, like magnesium. Low intakes of both are associated with higher risks of chronic disease. And, here’s an indisputable fact: No matter how humane, local, pastured, or organic your steak or chicken is, it does not offer fiber or significant levels of magnesium. Vegetarian sources of protein, meanwhile (nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, pseudograins, and vegetables) are good — and in some cases, excellent — sources of both.
Never heard of “pseudograins” before? Though cooked and consumed like grains, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and wild rice are seeds.
Most people erroneously think proper nutrition is mainly about vitamins and minerals, but there is a whole other world within the plant kingdom: phytonutrients. These chemical compounds, which we are learning more about with each passing year, are not present in animal products. But, they occur naturally in plant-based foods. These compounds give fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains their particular colors and aromas. Added bonus: They also confer their own sets of health benefits.
Quercetin – a phytonutrient found in apple peels, onions, and tea — is believed to improve blood cholesterol levels and help lower the risk of some cancers. Research on isothiocyanates, abundant in dark leafy greens, has also demonstrated their capacity to help protect against chronic disease. Other popular phytonutrients include lignans (in flax and sesame seeds) and phenolic acids (peanuts, walnuts). Mind you, there are over 170 phytochemicals in a single orange.
Phytonutrients are sensitive to processing, which is why they are most abundant in whole, plant-based foods (think a diced apple in a salad rather than a glass of commercial apple juice). Most importantly, phytonutrients are relatively new to the field of nutrition, so there are many still yet to be discovered and studied.
As you can see, plant-based foods are more than just meat and protein substitutes. We must stop treating meat as the nutritional golden standard, especially since so-called “alternatives” offer an array of health-promoting compounds. The United States is in the grips of a nutritional deficit disorder that would be drastically minimized if we all started eating less meat and more plants.
One final note: Vitamin B12 is not present in plant-based foods. Fortunately, it can easily be fortified in foods and supplemented. The unique biochemical makeup of plant-based foods, however, cannot be replicated in a pill. Not only are there thousands of phytonutrients, but research has shown they need to operate within their original food matrix to be efficient (aka, isolate them and they get separation anxiety and can’t function right).
So by all means, cut back on animal protein and eat more whole, plant-based foods — it’s good for both bodies of water and human bodies!
Andy Bellatti, MS, RD, is a Seattle-based dietitian who approaches nutrition from a whole-foods, plant-centric framework. He also takes a strong interest in food politics, nutrition policy, and deceptive food industry marketing tactics. He is the creator of the Small Bites blog and can be followed on Twitter.
Aerial shot of the Nelson Faria Dairy in Royal, Wash. Note the tiny dots that are the dairy cows congregating in the holding pens. (Image by Google Maps.)
In a precedent-setting decision earlier this month that received scant national coverage, a federal district court judge in Washington state ordered a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), also known as a factory farm, to monitor groundwater, drainage, and soil for illegal pollution resulting from its grossly inadequate manure management practices in violation of the Clean Water Act. This first-ever ruling holding a CAFO accountable for its pollution was a result of a lawsuit by the nonprofit Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) against the Nelson Faria Dairy in Royal, Wash. The ruling upholds the terms of a 2006 settlement CARE had with the dairy’s previous owners, which the current owners subsequently ignored.
The case underscores one of the major problems with CAFOs, which is the massive amount of manure they produce and the manners by which operators dispose of it, which have major environmental implications. According to the EPA, “a single dairy cow produces approximately 120 pounds of wet manure per day,” which is “equivalent to that of 20-40 people.” The quantity of manure produced by one dairy cow can be multiplied on a CAFO by hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of heads. This higher concentration of CAFO animals leads to a higher concentration of animal waste, a problem that holds true for all types of livestock raised in these operations. As CARE describes the scale of the waste problem:
Operations like the Nelson Faria Dairy produce as much waste as a city of over 200,000 people. Unlike cities, however, which treat their wastes, the dairy industry applies manure to agricultural fields primarily to get rid of it.
Photo by Tonvolz.
In moderation, manure is a great soil fertilizer, but the sheer amount (and concentration) of untreated waste generated by CAFOs is a serious liability. When too much manure is spread out over fields for soil to properly absorb it, or when manure lagoons leak, overflow, or rupture, rain and stormwater runoff can carry the waste into groundwater and nearby waterways. This over-application or discharge of CAFO animal waste is an egregious example of nonpoint source pollution, where the source(s) is diffuse and can have a wide distribution area. Untreated animal waste is a hazard for both public health and ecosystems because it can contain harmful quantities of nutrients, pathogens, and heavy metals. (Ecocentric has covered the problems associated with large amounts of untreated CAFO animal waste.)
The case of the improper handling of manure on the Nelson Faria Dairy is typical of the CAFO industry. While state and federal animal waste rules exist, their enforcement is lax at best. As CARE president, Helen Reddout, explained:
The Washington Department of Agriculture had recently inspected the dairy and found that it was doing an excellent job managing its manure. Nothing could be further from the truth … It is now time for the agencies who are supposed to be protecting our health to follow the precedent set by this Order. Our state and federal laws were aimed at protecting people and now it’s time for the agencies responsible for safeguarding public health to do just that.
Reddout goes on to explain the reality of state agency CAFO inspections:
Washington Departments of Ecology and Agriculture (WSDA) are supposed to monitor and regulate the dairy industry to ensure that operations do not harm public health or the environment. Unfortunately, inspections often involve nothing more than cursory visits by WSDA staff. If problems are found, dairy owners receive only a slap on the wrist, at best.
The hope is that this court victory against CAFO manure handling and pollution — little mentioned in the media — will help set a precedent toward better practices, regulation, and enforcement of the CAFO industry. Reddout acknowledges that this court victory is one small step, albeit an important one, that shows that CAFOs aren’t above the law and puts them on notice for pollution practices, a particularly big deal for the economically (and thus politically) strong Yakima Valley dairy industry. Based on the compelling evidence of agricultural water contamination in the Lower Yakima Valley, and bolstered by the recent ruling, the EPA selected the area for inclusion in a study monitoring nitrate pollution in groundwater. Reddout expects the EPA report to be released in late spring 2012.
CARE and their allies in the Royal City area deserve our congratulations for this major legal victory that may ultimately inspire a regulatory approach to CAFOs capable of safeguarding human and ecological health. Government agencies must acknowledge the great harm cased by CAFO pollution and hold the industry accountable for the true costs CAFOs impose upon the public.
As expressed by CARE’s lead attorney, Charlie Tebbutt, “Citizens have once again proven that the CAFO industry is a huge polluter. It is time for the state agencies to step up.”
Kai Olson-Sawyer is a Research and Policy Analyst in the GRACE Water and Energy Programs where he also works on H2O Conserve project operations. Prior to joining GRACE, Kai was employed at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon and researched with NYC Apollo Alliance. His body is composed of 60 percent water.
Bonnie suffered from the physical and emotional pain of cystic acne since her teenage years. She tried just about every medication available to relieve the symptoms, but to no avail. Then she made the decision to replace the standard American diet with high-nutrient foods. Today Bonnie’s skin is clear, except for some scarring, and she’s now a passionate advocate of nutritarian eating! Welcome to Disease Proof, Bonnie.
What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?
I was a typical junk food eater. I was always relatively thin but suffered constantly from cystic acne; the kind that hurt when I talked or moved my jaw. I loved white flour products, processed foods, and my biggest love was cheese. Pizza was my food of choice. I probably ate pizza at least three times a week. Unfortunately, acne was the price I paid for eating the standard American diet.
I’d been seeing dermatologists since I was 16-years-old. I was on countless acne drugs: Benzoyle Peroxide, Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Minocycline, Duac, Erythromycin, Differin, Tazorac, Retin-A, and different birth control pills to stabilize hormones. The next step was to take Accutane, but the side effects scared me so I thought of it as a last resort.
My doctor always told me that diet had absolutely nothing to do with my acne. I felt depressed, and my relationships and self esteem suffered greatly, because I felt I had no control over it. I became obsessed with desperately trying to find a solution. I didn’t know what I could do to fix it, and it was so frustrating. I knew in the grand scheme of things it was not a life or death situation, but for a girl in her twenties, it was mortifying. I also dealt with migraine headaches, severe acid reflux, bad allergies (hay fever), asthma, chronic bronchitis, constipation, high cholesterol and borderline high blood pressure.
In 2006 I read Eat To Liveand joined Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center. I thought his eating plan made so much sense. It was such a far cry from what I was used to, and for the first five years I had a hard time getting into it. Because I didn’t have weight to lose or health problems (so I thought), it was easy to keep going back to my old ways of eating.
In 2011 I started eating nutritatian all the time and didn’t deviate. [My motivation was having my son in February 2011.] I stuck with it, and I’ve been consistently compliant since March 2011. My skin is now completely clear, and I’m on no prescription acne medications!
How do you feel now?
I finally feel in control of my health and my acne. I know what I can do to keep my skin clear and stay healthy. I know that if I eat cheese (the worst!) or sugar and white flour I will break out. Even if I have it just once, I usually end up with a blemish. If I continue eating the standard American diet my skin reverts back to a diseased state.
I also feel so much better! I never have acid reflux or migraines anymore, and my allergies, asthmas and bronchitis have disappeared. I lowered my cholesterol, and I also lost about 20 pounds in the process. [I never even knew I had weight to lose.] At 5’2” I now weigh about 103 lbs. I’m happy to be passing this healthy lifestyle onto my son.
In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?
Nutritarian eating has become a passion of mine. I’m not perfect but each day I make small tweaks to keep striving to get better. This lifestyle has helped me feel more in control of my health and less dependent on the corrupt healthcare system in this country. I want nothing to do with Big Pharma or insurance companies. I want to make sure I never have to rely on greedy corporations for my health or the health of my family. This lifestyle has been amazing in terms of how little I am sick and all of the money I no longer spend on the ten different prescriptions I used to be on. I’m hoping to instill the love of this food into my son and my husband.
Congratulations Bonnie on getting your health back and your beautiful smile!
Monsanto is getting a taste of its own medicine; the company is being taken to court.
In this corner, we have a corporate biotech giant with a tighter grasp on the agricultural Monopoly board than your over-enthusiastic little sister on game night. (Their patented genes are in more than 80 percent of the soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola seeds grown in the U.S.) And in this corner, 83 scrappy plaintiffs representing non-GMO seed producers, farmers, and agricultural organizations who say they want the biotech company to stop suing and threatening them. While most are organic, not all of them are.
OSGATA and company finally got their day in court on Jan. 31. Approximately 200 farmers and supporters showed up in front of the Federal District Court in Manhattan for opening arguments. Occupy Wall Street’s food justice working group helped organize the rally, though they are not plaintiffs in the suit. “We’re part of OWS, which is all about corporate consolidation, and you can’t discuss that without addressing agriculture,” says Corbin Laedlein, a member of the working group.
“We want nothing to do with Monsanto. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their technology. We don’t want their contamination,” says Jim Gerritsen, an organic farmer from Maine and president of OSGATA. The organization originally brought the idea of a suit to the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a group that wants to change how patent law works in the U.S., and PUBPAT took on the case pro bono. In Gerritsen’s estimation, about 300,000 individuals are involved in the case by proxy of organizations they’re a part of, including most certified organic farmers in the country. Gerritsen calls the dustings of GMO-crop pollen and the occasional seed carried wayward by the wind — a natural atmospheric occurrence found in what is known as the “outdoors” — contamination which not only is unwelcome, but can also could potentially lower the quality and value of organic and other non-GMO crops.
“They are probably the most aggressive patent holder in the U.S.,” Gerritsen adds. According to PUBPAT, between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against farmers for patent infringement, and more than 500 farms are investigated each year.
“The seed that Monsanto doesn’t control, they will control through contamination,” Gerritsen says. “Monsanto wants ultimate and absolute control over everything.” Cue the menacing Hollywood music.
The lawsuit highlights potential dangers of transgenic crops. “We think [the technology behind transgenic crops] was released too early. Way before it was peer-reviewed,” says Dave Murphy, a plaintiff and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “The question is that Monsanto never did rigorous double blind studies.”
Increasingly, though, organic and transgenic seeds are coexisting on American farmland. Last year, the Agriculture Department said that crops would not necessarily lose their organic status if they were found to have some transgenic content.
For consumers, this means that transgenic ingredients may be present in the organic staples they pay a premium for.
Several of the plaintiffs took to Twitter to critique Moskin’s characterization of coexistence as hunky-dory. The OWS Food Justice twitter account responded by pointing out: “1st para. of plaintiff’s complaint: ‘coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is IMPOSSIBLE.’”
Ultimately, the lawsuit does not seek reparations or a resolution for those issues, however. It merely aims to stop the patent infringement lawsuits, require Monsanto to pay plaintiffs’ costs and legal fees, and ensure that many of Monsanto’s patents are deemed invalid.
Of course, Monsanto denies being lawsuit-happy.
In a press release, the company called the suit “false, misleading and deceptive.” In an email to Grist, Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher wrote, “Monsanto never has and never will sue a farmer if our patented seed or traits are found in his field as a result of inadvertent means.” Not surprisingly, the company would like to see the case dismissed. We’ll know whether it goes to trial by late March.
Jenny An is a writer based in Brooklyn. She’s written about food, technology, and the arts for Mashable, Conde Nast Traveler, and whomever else will let her.
Help us persuade Congress to reform the agency with our Action Alert!
Drug research, even from clinical trials sponsored by the federal government, is routinely suppressed, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), an international peer-reviewed medical publication. The study found that less than half of all NIH-funded clinical drug trials were published in a medical journal within two and a half years of the trial’s completion—with fully one-third of trial results remaining unpublished even four years after the trial. Why? Because the drug manufacturers didn’t like the data.
One example cited in the study was the FDA-approved diabetes drug Avandia, which in 2007 was found to increase heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths—even though the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, had known about the risk before the drug was approved. The BMJ study found that 35 of the drug’s 42 clinical studies had never been published, and were obtained only because a court case required the pharmaceutical company to turn over the data.
Not only does this irresponsible practice harm patients, it also increases healthcare costs. Eugene Carragee, a Stanford University orthopedic surgeon and editor-in-chief of the Spine Journal, spearheaded an unprecedented independent analysis showing that the medical device manufacturer Medtronic—not to mention a circle of orthopedic surgeons who received millions of dollars in royalties from the company—systematically failed to report serious complications with Medtronic’s bone-growth stimulating back surgery device known as Infuse. The results of a crucial clinical trial of the product were not published until nearly five years after the trial had to be halted because unwanted bone was growing around the spines of the trial volunteers.
For two years, Schering-Plough, the maker of the popular cholesterol drug Vytorin, sat on the results of a clinical trial showing that the drug provided no benefit in improving artery health. During that time, the drug was heavily marketed to consumers in TV ads; the marketing was only halted in 2008 after a congressional investigation was launched.
In 2003, a clinical trial of Multaq, a drug that treated cardiac arrhythmias, was stopped because more patients who were getting the drug were dying than those who received a placebo—though the study results weren’t published until five years later. Even so, the drug was approved by the FDA in 2009 as a treatment for atrial fibrillation in certain patients—just not as a means to reduce deaths!
Why does FDA approve drugs whose data have been suppressed by the manufacturer? Is it because FDA depends on Big Pharma for its budget—and needs drug companies to hire former FDA employees. The Wall Street Journal reported that FDA advisers, in a recent vote, said the benefits of four popular Bayer AG birth control pills outweigh the blood clot risk. What the FDA didn’t disclose is that three of the advisers have had ties to Bayer, serving as consultants, speakers, or researchers!
Despite the FDA’s bias in favor of drugs and against supplements, there are tremendous shortages of some drugs (though no shortage of supplements—so far!). This drug shortage prompts some hospitals to engage in price gouging, so a drug that usually costs $26 is being offered for $1,200. Moreover, the FDA artificially inflates drug prices—especially generic drug prices, which should be far lower than they are—as we have reported previously.
The shortage in the US drug market also makes foreign counterfeit drugs more popular. Recently, some 65 million counterfeit pills were seized in China; no word yet on how many of them had already made their way to the US.
If this is the way FDA oversees dangerous drugs, what will happen if we give them the same authority over supplements? It’s not just that the agency doesn’t have the knowledge to properly oversee supplements—they also don’t have the capacity. If they can’t keep up with the hundreds of drugs already under their purview, how will they cope with the thousands of supplements on the market? One way, of course, is for them to drastically reduce the number of supplements that can be marketed—one inevitable result of the NDI draft guidelines that we have been campaigning against.
There must be sincere and honest people working for the US Food and Drug Administration, but it is currently being run in a corrupt and incompetent way. It desperately needs to be reformed. Please help us in our ongoing campaign to overhaul the agency by signing our petition to Congress. As we say in the petition, “Everything about the FDA must be taken apart, reviewed, redefined, and re-created so that it supports, not obstructs, the mission of advancing medical science and vibrant good health for all.” Please take action today!
Paraguay farmer educates his neighbors about Monsanto:
We are going to talk about the production model of GM soybeans promoted by Monsanto. It’s a true multi-national company. It’s everywhere in the world. It’s objective is to control all of the world’s food production through farmerless farming. The result is that Monsanto is depriving us of our food sovereignty, of our ability to feed ourselves without depending on anyone else. That is why we say that we must fight for our independence – for our land. We must defend our communities, our families and our country.
The approval of GMOs was not a scientific decision but a political one. Initially foods derived from new plant varieties were to be evaluated the same as foods derived from traditional seed propagation. But in May 1992 the Bush Regime created “The Principle of substantial Equivalence.” This decision applied to all products of biotechnology. The Bush regime decided none should undergo any special testing or evaluation.
Michael Taylor was Deputy Commissioner of Policy under the Bush regime. He participated in policies regarding GMOs. He had no background in science or agriculture. As an attorney his role was to implement a policy that would benefit one of his former clients . . . Monsanto.
FDA claims that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that GMOs are as safe as their conventionally produced counter parts. However over 44,000 pages from the FDA’s own files are prove positive that this is a gross lie.
The documentary also brings to light the truly evil role PR firms now play in our society. These highly paid companies will work for anyone, have absolutely no morality – repeat have absolutely no morality – and provide the spin or lies necessary to protect corporations from public scrutiny.
The World According to Monsanto perfectly exemplifies that the dead legal fiction known as The Corporation is a parasitic blight consuming and destroying the natural world for no better reason than to produce profit and engage in unlimited growth.
Perhaps one day all of humanity will recognize this, deconstruct this business model, fire paid liars (PR people) and create another model that values life on planet earth.
It has been known for some time that religious belief and behavior affect the brain—in the same way all habits, emotions and memories build neural pathways. But can we pinpoint specific chemicals, genes and clusters of neurons that give rise to religiosity, or to atheism?
Rutgers University evolutionary biologist Lionel Tiger thinks we can: “Religion is really made by the brain. It is a secretion of the brain,” says Tiger, who thinks the root of religious belief is an evolutionary drive to seek this “secretion”—namely serotonin—which provides the believer with feelings of well-being. A neurotransmitter that regulates mood and appetite, serotonin is linked to feelings of well-being when it floods the central nervous system.
“One of the ways of looking at religion is to what extent and how does it generate the serotonergic juices that make us feel good,” says Tiger. Attending a religious service, for example, can be a flurry of social activity and controlled procedure, which releases a cocktail of serotonin-led neurotransmitters in the brain. This chemical response “soothes” the organ, he says, echoing the results of recent studies. Working with neuroscientist Michael McGuire, Tiger has connected this research on serotonin as it works in the brain with the social aspects and origins of religion.
“Religion may be one of the main producers of the brain-soothing phenomenon in a way that is not that expensive or destructive or difficult. All you have to do is show up Sunday morning,” Tiger says. Religion, in this sense, becomes a self-created, self-consumed endeavor, he adds.
Tiger’s conclusion is that the neurochemical response of religion serves a biological need for humans, as shown in its absence. As an example, he points to France, a nominally Catholic country with low mass attendance and rare religious observance that has one of Europe’s highest rates of antidepressant consumption. “It may be that they’re taking the mass into their skull with a pill, so there is the pharmacological element of brain soothing,” he says.
Yet, religion is not all soothing, and serotonin itself cannot account for bouts of religious ecstasy and visions from—in Christianity alone—Pentecostal glossolalia and the charismatic movement stretching all the way back to Saul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus.
To get to the root of religious zeal, scientists are looking beyond neural chemistry to the architecture of the brain itself. There isn’t one part of the brain dedicated to processing the divine, as the pineal gland was once thought to be the seat of the soul. Instead, according to recent research, religiosity is dislocated and strung out along a neural network comprised of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes.
Decreased parietal lobe activity, for example, has been linked to some religious experiences, while the decision-making and social aspects of religion seem to interplay in the frontal lobes. It is the temporal lobes that have been the focus of significant recent interest for their connection between epilepsy and religious visions and conversion. Epileptic seizures, and the brain chemistry at work between seizures, leads in some patients to a “gradual personality change which disposes them to mystical and religious thinking,” says neurologist Oliver Sacks in an interview with Big Think.
In the late 18th century, Benjamin Franklin was something of an icon in Europe. The French hung portraits of Franklin on their walls much in the same way college students pay tribute to John Belushi or Jim Morrison in their dorms. Everywhere Franklin went, his feisty personality preceded him, and it was this reputation in Europe that played a key role in securing the foreign aid the revolutionaries needed to triumph over the British. Many consider the celebrated polymath to be the first “American” in numerous regards—in entrepreneurialism, in political discourse, and, of course, in partying. As it turns out, Franklin was also the first American environmentalist, and his inventions influenced the scientific community for decades.
In the age of clean energy technologies racing to meet grid parity, we often forget that there was a push for cleaner energy in the time of the founders. Ben Franklin himself designed a four-sided street lamp to replace the commonly used globe lamps. A build-up of soot darkened the globe lamps, which required near-daily cleaning, and let off an excess of smoke. The Franklin lamp increased air circulation within the lamps, allowing for better fuel efficiency and less cleaning.
Similarly, Franklin sought to design a more fuel-efficient stove that consumed less wood and produced more heat. Incidentally, though Franklin managed to sell multiple sets, the stove did not work very well. It was later improved upon, however, and has come to be known as the “Franklin Stove.”
When Franklin was holed up in the suburbs of France due to a debilitating case of gout, his friends encouraged him to find ways to keep busy. And so, Franklin occupied himself in the only way he knew how: by devising ingenious and occasionally self-deprecating plots. In a 1784 letter to the Journal de Paris, Franklin parodied his penchant for sleeping late, observing, after a loud noise awoke him at dawn, “Your readers, who with me have never seen any signs of sunshine before noon… will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of [the sun] rising so early.”
As a more serious corollary, Franklin observed that, should he or any of his French compatriots rise with the sun, they would not have to burn candles for extra hours in the evening—a chore that Franklin, as a self-proclaimed cheapskate, found decidedly inefficient. It was from this observation and the desire to save a few bucks that Franklin outlined a rough idea for daylight saving time as a means for farmers to maximize production during light hours and cut down on fuel costs of illuminating the dark. The idea would not be adopted until after 1895, when George Vernon Hudson proposed the modern conception of daylight saving time.
It is no surprise that the first man to demonstrate that lightning was electrical would take a keen interest in electricity and energy. And take an interest, he did. Amid his busy schedule of promoting the American agenda, learning French in parlors, and drinking to excess, Franklin was the first to propose the theory of conservation of charge. Franklin also supported the controversial wave-theory of light. Among other contributions to physics, Franklin’s work with electricity precipitated his ascent to the first presidency of the American Philosophical Society, at the time a herald of scientific inquiry, which would later be headed by another famous scientist-statesman, Thomas Jefferson.
Despite his humble birth, Ben Franklin rose to prominence via his publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of aphorisms and amateur guide to meteorology. This interest in meteorology extended itself into other environmental realms, including those of forestry, oceanography, and clean air.
Franklin built his own paper mill in order to furnish himself with a cheaper, more efficient supply of newsprint that would save trees. In doing so, he undercut his competitors. In the 1740s, he encouraged his friends to do the same, and eventually found himself at the center of a wholesale paper mill industry that was also environmentally friendly.
It was in his study of postal routes that Franklin took an interest in oceans and currents. When sailors took Franklin’s advice on the Gulf Stream, they managed to cut their commute by two weeks. Franklin’s studies into oceans lent itself to a concern for clean water. In 1739, Franklin petitioned the Philadelphia government to prohibit local tanneries from dumping waste into the tributary of the Delaware River. Similarly, in the 1760s, Franklin led a commission to monitor water pollution and waste disposal in Pennsylvania. Franklin also urged people to decrease their chimney use so as not to pollute the air.
Franklin also concerned himself with promoting public health. His contemporaries assumed that wearing damp clothing caused the common cold; however, Franklin observed that sailors wore wet clothes frequently and remained healthy. Before germs were deemed the culprit of compromising the immune system, Franklin suggested that the common cold was transmitted from people living in close quarters—a trend that happened to coincide with winter.
In keeping with his commitment to public health, Franklin launched a campaign to open a public hospital. Franklin diverted funds to the nation’s first hospital, also known as the Pennsylvania Hospital, in order to care for the poor and the mentally ill—two demographics long marginalized by colonial society.
In his will, Ben Franklin stipulated the construction of a water pipeline to provide fresh, clean water to the city of Philadelphia. This construction led to the Philadelphia Water Commission, which institutionalized Franklin’s belief that the public right to health should supersede private interests.
Given his commitment to environmental issues and sustainable business practices, it may be prudent to say that Franklin would have opposed some of the House cuts that stand to strip the public of food safety and farming innovation grants. He certainly would have taken no pleasure in the “Drill, Baby, Drill” chants, and not just because he would have found them lacking in wit.
Today’s political discourse supposes that the Founding Fathers were suspicious of the popular majority and favored limited government. Yet while our nation’s founders may not have intended the government itself to be run by direct democracy, they certainly believed that government had an obligation to protect the welfare of all its citizens. For Ben Franklin, a truly self-made man, that welfare included clean air, clean water, and general hygiene and sanitation. In retrospect, Ben Franklin did a couple things right. Maybe we should follow his lead in the arena of civic duty to protect our earth and our health.
— Lauren Simenauer is finishing her bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology at the University of Virginia.
This is the third installment in a Science Progress series about the founding fathers’ relationships with science, and what they might have to say about the science policy issues of today. Parts one and two, about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington respectively, can be found here, and here.
SOLAR MEGASTORMS can GENERATE a GLOBAL NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE
By Mark Goldes
MILLIONS of LIVES may DEPEND on WISE, RAPID, EFFECTIVE, ACTION! Giant Sunspot Now Aimed Directly at Earth. The largest active region seen on the sun since 2005 has rotated to the center of the sun’s face, as seen from Earth–which means any eruptions it produces will be aimed right at us. National Geographic News
Sunspot 1339 is a complex region and earlier ejected an X1.9 flare. X-class flares can cause major problems. An X-class coronal mass ejection heading for Earth could have devastating effects. NASA warns they can cause power outages lasting for years. Little recognized and unpublicized, a solar megastorm could cause a mortal threat – meltdowns at nuclear power plants across the planet.
We are unprepared and are playing Russian roulette with the sun. The NOAA sees the peak peril during the next 2 to 5 years. They state the maximum threat may occur in 2013.
3 million people lost power in the recent snowstorm. 130 million could suffer long-term, life-threatening, blackouts in the USA — and China, India, Japan, most of Europe and much of the remainder of the planet.
N.Y., Washington, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, and many other heavily populated communities could be in great peril. A similar threat to major cities and large populations exists worldwide.
To prevent the worst requires a massive 24/7 effort – similar to the optimum response to a major military attack on the entire earth.
The big problem is solar induced destruction of huge electrical transformers that take years to replace. The loss of those transformers and the long time required to restore them could black out large areas of the planet for several years.
Preventing this nightmare is urgent.
In the USA there are 5,500 of these transformers. 350 are critical. Over 20,000 such transformers may exist worldwide. New technology might protect them all.
Survival of millions, and numerous nations, possibly including our own, may depend on safeguarding critical grids, providing sufficient standby power to nuclear plants, and rapidly decentralizing energy!
This almost unimaginable tragedy might be prevented if we quickly install newly developed technology to protect the grid and safeguard nuclear facilities. It would also be wise to decentralize electric power generation as fast as is humanly possible.
A map of the USA on the Aesop Institute website reflects a NASA study based on the 1921 solar storm. There are two huge areas that NASA warns can experience a total loss of the electrical grid for years. After one month without grid power nuclear plants and many other nuclear installations are in danger of life-threatening meltdowns.
The NASA map shows the possible effect, if one of the powerful solar emissions that may strike in this decade, smashes into our geomagnetic field. Far worse than any terror attack, the entire world is totally unprepared for such an event. Based on this NASA map 71 nuclear plants in the USA are at direct risk from a solar megastorm. These nuclear plants could be without grid electricity necessary for cooling their fuel pools. Imagine 71 Fukushima meltdowns in this country. More than 400 facilities are at risk worldwide.
Without including probable nuclear plant meltdowns, NASA estimated the price tag in the USA could reach $2 Trillion the first year, with 4 to 10 years required for full recovery.
NOAA Assistant Secretary Kathryn Sullivan says countries should prepare for “potentially devastating effects.” Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who in 1984 became the first woman to walk in space, said in Geneva that “it is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet.”
“Widespread disruption of electric service can quickly … endanger millions.” Joseph McClelland Director, Reliability, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
This is a little publicized multi-trillion dollar, planet wide nightmare! Preventative steps could minimize the damage.
Radiation experts recently estimated that more than 1 million people will die from Fukushima radiation. According to Dr. Tatsuhiko Kodama, the director of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo, the amount of radiation released thus far is equivalent to more than 29 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. “While the remaining radiation from atomic bombs decreases to one-thousandth of the original level after a year, radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant only decrease to one-tenth the original level.”
The massive program needed would directly and indirectly provide millions of jobs and boost the staggering global economy far beyond current expectations.
PREVENTING THE WORST MAY MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!
Cheap green electricity to supersede fossil fuels is in the birth canal – development and production might be sharply accelerated. $50 per barrel diesel from sunlight, water, CO2 and bacteria, is in pilot plant production today! Heat and eventually electricity might begin to be fueled by miniscule amounts of Nickel powder and Hydrogen from water.
These and other surprising positive Black Swans — highly improbable energy innovations with huge potential implications – are being born. See MOVING BEYOND OIL and CHEAP GREEN on this website to learn more.
After one month without grid power, a nuclear plant poses a grave problem. Once the water has evaporated in the stored fuel ponds, meltdowns become likely, spewing deadly radiation. Unless quickly prevented by sensible action, a solar megastorm can cause this nightmare to occur at a very large number of nuclear plants and other nuclear facilities .
There were huge solar flares in each of the last five months. A strong geomagnetic storm and a severe solar flare were experienced in September. The June flare covered half of the sun. An X Class flare occurred this month. Mobilizing to minimize the damage can stimulate broad support for decentralized energy production and emerging cheap green electricity.
An advisor to the Japanese government reported that as a result of the Fukushima catastrophe, millions of people will have to be monitored indefinitely for radiation sickness.
Will a Solar Megastorm create 71 U.S. Fukushimas?
We face a severe potential emergency. External threats serve to unite. The world faces an unrecognized nuclear peril! Uniting to confront it can generate the missing popular and government support to generate millions of jobs and revitalize the global economy.
A THREAT GREATER THAN ANY TERROR ATTACK!
A NASA funded study by the National Academy of Sciences was titled Severe Space Weather Events–Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts. The resulting Report detailed what might happen in the event of a solar megastorm launching a powerful Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that strikes our geomagnetic field. The study predicts blackouts that may last for years. As the map above indicates, highly vulnerable areas include most of the Eastern and Northwestern parts of the nation.
The NOAA estimates each 11 year sunspot cycle is capable of launching 4 “extreme” (X class) CMEs and 100 “severe” CMEs at the earth. More X class events than were anticipated have occurred in the current cycle. The most dangerous period is the next 5 years. The peak peril is predicted by some to occur in May, 2013.
So far, neither NASA nor NOAA have publicly acknowledged the mortal threat these events may cause as the result of multiple meltdowns of nuclear plants worldwide. To date, there is no indication that the White House, Congress, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and/or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have adequately prepared to prevent the horrendous effects of such a solar megastorm.
The recent statement by a NASA scientist that human life would not end as the result of the direct effects of a solar storm during 2012 is misleading. A solar megastorm that causes widespread meltdowns of numerous nuclear power plants can seriously end millions, if not hundreds of millions, or even billions, of lives from radioactivity. This event could very well parallel the aftermath of a nuclear weapons exchange had there been war between the USA and the USSR — massive amounts of radioactivity carried on prevailing winds all over the planet. The issue is not the specific year. This entire 11 year sunspot cycle should be of concern.
Aesop Institute is a non-profit California corporation. S ubstantial private funding is expected in January for a documentary film as part of The Brooklyn Project described on the www.aesopinstitute.org website. A five year grant has also been approved for a Power Grid Protection Project.
Preventing this nightmare urgently needs Congress to reintroduce the GRID RELIABILITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEFENSE ACT , HR 5026, as unanimously passed by the House, and pass the SHIELD Act, HR 668!
Mark Goldes is Co-founder of Chava Energy and Chairman of Magnetic Power Inc. (MPI) in Sebastopol, California. Chava is acquiring assets of MPI. Earlier, he founded SunWind Ltd. and began the non-profit Aesop Institute. He previously was CEO of a financial and economic consulting firm. Once a student of Electrical Engineering, he earned BA and MA degrees at San Francisco State University, and later served two years on active duty with the USAF, culminating as a Senior Director of the Berlin Corridor control radar in Germany. Afterwards, from 1956 thru 1958, he earned a second Master’s degree and was a Fellow in the Graduate Program in the History of Ideas, at Brandeis University. In 1960, he founded Emerson College of the Monterey Peninsula, and later initiated the free university movement, which spread to at least 600 locations worldwide.
Former health official says H1N1 scare shows what pushes people to get needed shots
By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) — Sometimes a little fear might be a good thing.
To run an effective public vaccination program, you’ve got to make sure that adequate amounts of the vaccine are available and there are enough staff members to administer it, said Dr. Adewale Troutman, director of the public health practice program at the University of South Florida, who, until recently, headed the Department of Public Health and Wellness in Louisville.
You also have to figure out when the public will be available to come get the vaccinations you offer.
And, of course, you need to make sure they are properly frightened.
Fear has proven to be the most potent motivator in getting people to not shrug off important immunizations, like an annual flu shot, Troutman said.
“The influenza vaccine is really an important immunization that people discount because, ehh, it’s just the flu,” he said. “But tens of thousands of people die every year from the flu.”
That changed with the H1N1 scare, when public health officials were concerned that a very potent strain of the flu would combine with scarce amounts of vaccine to create an epidemic. “If it turned out to be a very virulent virus, it could have been disastrous,” Troutman said.
The public got the message and flooded locales that were offering flu shots.
“H1N1 resonated because I think people were afraid of it,” Troutman said. “Once the fear message got out there, people became concerned about potential shortages of the vaccine. We literally had staff from all over the department doing extra time to make vaccinations available.”
Another motivator for some people, mainly senior citizens, can be the cost of the vaccination, he said.
For example, health departments may offer a shingles vaccine at a very low cost, but only as long as supplies last. When they run out, seniors have to go to their doctors to get a more expensive shot.
“So there’s a cost motivation for people to come get the shot from the health department,” Troutman said.
Once the public is motivated, public health officials then have to make sure they have enough vaccine on hand to treat everyone. “There seem to always be different levels of availability,” he said. “It’s always a concern: Is there going to be enough vaccine to go around this year?” Then there need to be enough staff members available to apply all the shots.
Once the resources are set and events are timed to the public’s convenience, public health directors then start pressing the public to get vaccinated, by writing op-ed articles and doing radio and television interviews — but knowing all the while that there’s a small number of people who don’t believe in immunization. Instead, they believe that vaccines are harmful.
“You probably can’t change their mind,” Troutman said. “They don’t accept the science. They don’t accept your expertise. The just believe what they believe.”
But to reach the majority of adults who accept the concept but don’t always act on it, “you talk as much as you can,” he said. “You push as hard as you can.”
A companion article on adult vaccinations offers details on who should get what, when and why.
SOURCE: Adewale Troutman, M.D., M.P.H., director, public health practice program, University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
Forest gardening is an approach to gardening that involves the replication of a woodland ecosystem with food-producing trees and plants. Several cultures have a long history of gardening in forests, as seen in regions like South America, but the creation of entirely new garden environments for forest gardening appears to have originated in England in the 20th century. Forest gardens can fit on very small plots of land, making them an option for people with limited gardening space.
Conventional gardening takes place in a single plane, as a general rule. Crops are planted flat and tended in the open. In a forest garden, intercropping is used to create different levels or layers. This results in very high yield because multiple crops are sharing the same space. It also creates a more natural looking garden that includes habitat for animals, as well as plants. Forest gardening can be practiced by people of all ages and levels of gardening skill.
The upper layers of a forest garden are the canopies of mature fruit trees. Dwarf trees and shrubs are planted below, with smaller plants in the lower layers of the garden, which creates a series of layers like those found in the natural forest. Climbing plants are interspersed through the forest garden. The companion planting provides plants with a number of benefits, including richer soil, protection from the elements for fragile plants, and greater water conservation.
Once the garden is established, depending on what plants are used, forest gardening can be less labor intensive than managing a conventional garden. Many of the plants are perennial or reseed themselves easily and the soil enriches itself just like it does in natural forests with fallen fruit, leaf litter, and other organic detritus. Plantings can be arranged to include plants that need sun, as well as plants that prefer partial shade. Pathways through the garden provide access to various plants for harvest and maintenance.
Forest gardening can be done with native trees and plants for an especially low maintenance garden, or introduced plants can be mixed with the native species. One benefit to this form of gardening is that the intercropping keeps weeds down, as there are few areas where weeds will have an opportunity to get a foothold.
Establishing a forest garden requires some planning and forethought. Major elements of the garden, such as fruit trees, must be planted with care so that they have room to grow, and the smaller permanent plants need to be arranged around them. Forest gardeners may find it helpful to draw overhead maps to organize their plantings, in addition to drawing the garden from the side to get an idea of how the layers will look once the garden matures. It can take several years for the garden to fully establish itself.
We’ve previously run an expose on the Weston Price Foundation which shows how its founder actually recommended a vegetarian diet as the healthiest, and not the meat-heavy diet the Foundation recommends today. To read that article, click here. Following are a series from Dr. Fuhrman’s newsletter.
Deadly Dietary Myths
Premature death is too high a price to pay for bad advice!
by Joel Fuhrman MD
This series of articles is devoted entirely to debunking some of today’s most popular – and potentially most dangerous – diet and nutrition myths. In previous newsletters, and in my book Eat to Live, I have warned readers about adopting fad diets such as The Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet, and Eat For your Blood Type because the scientific data is so clear about the fact that eating more that a few small portions of animal products each week is associated with a host of serious diseases.
Conclusive scientific warnings notwithstanding, people continue to flock to diets like these because a) they reinforce existing bad habits, and b)numerous organizations encourage this behavior. One of the more influential organizations is the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).
The Weston A. Price Foundation is named in honor of a Cleveland dentist, author of the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. In the 1930s, upon observing that a large number of his patients had poor dental health, Dr. Price traveled to remote regions of the world and found that people in those areas who were still eating diets consisting of unprocessed foods had healthier teeth than his patients, who were eating large amounts of processed foods. He concluded that poor dental health was the result of nutritional deficiencies.
WAPF is a relatively small non-profit with a modest budget, but its leaders and members have been very effective in advocating a meat-centered diet, with lots of butter and whole, raw milk. Unfortunately, although some of its recommendations are laudable (such as the admonition to avoid highly processed foods, and the warning that most popular vegetarian and vegan diets are not ideal), many others are entirely out of step with modern nutritional science.
They promote a range of irresponsible and potentially dangerous ideas, including:
Butter and butter oil are our “super foods” which contain the “X factor”, discovered by Weston Price.
Glandular Organ Extracts – to promote health and healing of the corresponding organ.
Poached brains of animals should be added to other ground meats for better nutrition
Raw cows milk and meat broth should be fed to newborns who don’t breast feed, rather than infant formula.
Regular ingestion of clay (Azolimite Mineral Powder) because the clay particles remove pathogens from the body.
There are benefits of feeding sea salt to infants and babies
Fruits and vegetables should be limited in children’s diets.
There are plenty of organizations offering woefully out-of-date and inaccurate dietary advice, so I do not want to give the impression that WAPF Is alone in this regard. But there is limited space in a single newsletter, and a review of some of the WAPF recommendations offers an opportunity to point out examples of nutritional misinformation readily available in books and on the Internet.
How to feed your baby
WAPF advocates a severely deficient and dangerous diet for infants and children that has the potential to cause a lifetime of medical problems, reduced brain function, and an early death from cancer.
Infants have their best chance of developing normally when they consume breast milk from well-fed mothers. But contrary to a plethora of scientific studies indicating that breast milk should be the only food for the first six months, Sally Fellon, founder and president of WAPF and coauthor (with Mary Enig) of the book Nourishing Traditions says that pureed meat (including organ meats) is an excellent early food for babies.
What does WAPF recommend?
One WAPF baby formula mixes cow’s milk with heavy cream and other oils, while another is made from cow’s liver, beef broth, whey powder, and various oils.
It is well established in the scientific literature that a diet high in saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables in early childhood is the leading cause of adult cancers. Infants fed cow’s milk instead of breast milk or formula do not get sufficient iron, vitamin C, linoleic acid, or vitamin E, and take in excessive amounts of sodium, potassium, and protein, which can lead to dehydration and kidney damage. For many years, the American Academy of Pediatricians has warned against the use of any whole cow’s milk during the first year of life after it was found that infants given cow’s milk developed iron deficiency and occult (silent) bleeding of the digestive tract.1 The resultant iron deficiency seen in children raised on cow’s milk in early childhood leads to long-term changes in behavior and loss of intelligence that can not be reversed even with correction of the iron deficiency later on in life.2 In other words, permanent brain damage can occur from the feeding of whole cow’s milk to babies.
Good intentions gone awry
How can an organization offer nutritional advice so out of step with the world’s scientific literature? Part of the blame can be placed at the feet of those who remain loyal to some of the original observations pf Weston Price rather than his original intent.
When Dr. Price traveled to remote areas, his intent was to find healthful solutions for his dental patients. When we look back with 70 years of scientific hindsight, we can see that his examinations and conclusions were flawed. When he touted the health of primitive peoples, he was not aware of their short life expectancy and high rates of infant mortality, endemic diseases, and infection.
It can be argued that few scientific researchers in the 1930s would have understood the complexity of multi factorial causation of health, disease, and longevity, and Price should not be held to today’s higher standards. But the same cannot be said for his followers today. To advocate eating a diet high in saturated fat is to ignore all of the nutritional research-especially of the past 40 years-that links this diet to shorter life spans and higher rates of heart disease and cancer is unconscionable.
1. Kazal LA. Prevention of iron defiency in infants and toddlers. Am Fam Physician 2002, 66(7):1217-24.
2. Beard JL, Conner JR. Iron status and neural functioning. Annu Rev Nutr 2003; 23:41-58
Nutritional Facts and Fiction Fanciful folklore is no match for modern science!
The Weston A. Price website states that “people with high cholesterol
live the longest,” and that it is a myth that “for good health, serum cholesterol should be less than 180 mg/dl,” adding, “There is no greater risk for heart disease, even at levels as high as 1,000 mg/dl.” This doesn’t jibe with every respected scientific authority in the world and is utterly ridiculous in light of thousands of respectable studies.
WAPF correctly points out that processed foods, sugar, corn syrup, and white flour are harmful, but nutritional deficiencies caused by “junk foods” are not remedied by a diet high in meat and butter, animal products that are devoid of plant-derived photonutrients, which promote health and slow the “aging” process. By contrast, the saturated fat in meat and butter raises cholesterol and is one of the significant causes of heart disease.Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fellon and Mary Enig, is a smorgasbord of woefully outdated and potentially dangerous advice. For example, “If you cannot get your family to eat organ meats when served as such, there are plenty of ways to add them to their food without their knowledge… Poached brains can be chopped up and added to any ground meat dish, as can grated raw liver.” Even if it were not so clearly known that animal products in general need to be strictly limited in the diet, common sense should tell us not to eat the brains of animals in light of what is known about Mad Cow disease and its human equivalent, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.
Nourishing Traditions is full of bad science and illogical reasoning, and its appeal is dependent on people’s ignorance about nutrition. Fallon and Enig perpetuate long-held nutritional myths by referencing the same people who started the myths in the first place.
Nutrition is a complicated subject, and it takes familiarity with a comprehensive body of scientific studies and articles to devise recommendations to prevent disease and promote longevity. Science is not perfect, but evidence builds on prior studies, and ongoing research attempts to test each hypothesis and check validity in an unbiased manner. Today, we have a comprehensive body of knowledge with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950s documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans and the increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
While Nourishing Traditions has over 200 references, many are antiquated, with poor observations. For the most part, the authors reference their own articles and those of other Weston A. Price Foundation authors. Only fourteen of the references are from peer-reviewed journals published in the last ten years, and for most of those fourteen, the authors misrepresented what was stated in the articles. By contract, my book Eat to Live contains over 1,000 medical references to peer-reviewed medical journals. (For the abstracts of some of the most respected references of modern nutritional science go to Dr. Fuhrman’s website, drfuhrman.com for his article “Saturated Fat, Heart Disease, and Cancer” in Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, July 2006)
Do-It-Yourself Metabolics for Meat Eaters Why use good science to help design your diet when a handy $59 Internet questionnaire is available!
Honorary Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) board member and Internet health guru Joe Mercola, D.O, became the most public member of the WAPF contingency after the previous guru Stephen Byrnes died of a stroke at the age of 45.
Dr. Mercola claims that consuming pasteurized milk (instead of raw milk) causes autism, and that coconut oil kills viruses and is the secret to weight loss, detoxification, and the reversal of heart disease. (And he has been reprimanded by the FDA to cease making these fraudulent health claims about this coconut oil and another “health” product-chlorella.
Mercola’s website advocates that people fill out a detailed questionnaire (which costs $59) to help him determine which of these “types” they fall into. Instead of using blood type, eye color, shoe size, date of birth of your first born, or other silliness that alternative health entrepreneurs use to decide how much meat is right for your health, Mercola simply asks questions such as: How do you feel when you eat meat? And Do you like dark meat of white meat? (This is like asking a smoker if he feels better after he smokes to determine how much smoking is good for his health.)
He divides people into three categories: protein type (meat lovers), carbo types (veggie and grain lovers), and mixed type (everyone else). Mercola claims that to feel great and avoid disease and obesity, you must know your unique type. Mercola does not think avoiding meat is a good idea for most people because their metabolic type indicates that red meat is needed and good for them. He explains that while the Atkins diet is good because of its recognition of the glycemic index of food, it is not as good as his diet, which takes into account your metabolic (self) typing.
Confusion of ideas
Mercola’s views on diet and health fail Nutrition 101: too much science contradicts him. But not everything he says is incorrect. He correctly points out that most vegetarians may not have excellent health because of their overdependence on grains. The literature is abundant with evidence that demonstrates that the foods with the best correlation with longer life and resistance against later-life diseases are vegetables, beans, raw seeds, fruit, and raw nuts.
Notice that grains are not included on the list. Eliminating animal products and continuing the consumption of processed grain foods is not a recipe for health or longevity. The bottom line is most vegetarians are unhealthy: they eat too much processed food. Whole grains are not nutrient-rich foods. They can form a minor part of your diet, but when they are baked, fried, toasted, shot out of cannons or otherwise processed or adulterated, they become low-nutrient junk foods that are powerfully disease-promoting.
There is good science to back up Mercola’s contention that some people are not going to get all of their nutritional needs met on a vegan diet and will need to add supplements to make their diet complete or even eat small amounts of animal products.
There are two very critical areas where Mercola departs from universally accepted science. First, if you add the large amounts of animal products he recommends (including red meat and butter)-and especially the large amounts he recommends for his “protein-type”-you will have a diet that powerfully promotes heart disease and cancer. There is no genetic “type” that has immunity from such a high-saturated fat, disease-causing diet.
All Americans, not just some, develop atherosclerosis when they eat a diet so high in animal products. Over 90% of Americans eventually develop atherosclerosis and hypertension from the low intake of unprocessed vegetable, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, and high intake of animals products. Diets like the ones Mercola recommends-especially if they include processed foods-also lead to premature death from heart attacks or stroke.
The second critical departure is that his metabolic typing questionnaire is not an accurate way to determine a person’s nutritional needs. When he advises his “protein type” to eat a diet in which most calories are supplied by animal products, he is appealing to that person’s food preferences and addictions. The more you crave something and the worse you feel when you stop consuming it, the more likely that you are addicted to it and that it is harming you, not helping. Encouraging people who are addicted to meat or other animal products to eat more of them will lead to even shorter life spans.
No need to be vegan
Keep in mind, I am not arguing that a person who eats no animal products (a vegan) will be healthier or will lead a longer life than one who eats small amounts of animal products (such as a small amount of fish or eggs). What I am pointing out s that as animal products increase in the diet (and natural plant foods are forced off the plate), the modern diseases that kill over 80 per cent of Americans (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes) will occur in greater and greater likelihood in every genetic type.
My review of over 60,000 articles in the scientific literature supports the conclusion that if animal products are consumed they should constitute no more that 10% of total caloric intake. Remember, animal products are high in calories and very low in nutrients-per-calorie compared with vegetables. The higher animal product consumption compared to a vegetable-based diet, the lower the nutrient intake. The typical American gets 40% of total calories from animal products (those on the Zone and South Beach diets get 60%, and Adkins adherents get 80%). Mercola’s high protein type diet is in the 60-80% range. Diets like these are extremely high in dangerous fats and extremely low in nutrients and phytonutrients.
Unscientific double talk
Mercola and other adherents of the “saturated fat is good for you” myth produce articles with supposedly scientific references. But the writers either quote the same bunch of people (each other) and ignore a ton of modern reputable research, or they distort what is said in legitimate studies in order to hold on to the myth that saturated fat is okay and not related to heart-disease.
These fiction writers all use the same distorted logic when they contend that the consumption of trans fats is responsible for heart attacks, not saturated fats. Trans fats have been processed to saturate their carbon bonds so they mimic saturated fats, but just because trans fats are bad or worse does not make saturated fats good.
Mercola tries to make his bad advice sound scientific. He states:
Some of you might be watching your weight and be rather hesitant to add butter into your diet. Have no fear. About 15% of fatty acids in butter are of the short and medium chain variety, which are NOT stored as fat in the body but are used by the vital organs for energy.
Of course, you have to buy the special butter that Mercola recommends, the “good quality” butter. In much the same way, he contends that you can eat meat and not increase your chances of disease by eating “grass fed” beef. These arguments remind me of a patient who told me that he wouldn’t get lung cancer because he used “high quality” tobacco, grown without pesticides.
These laughable “good quality” exceptions can’t withstand scientific scrutiny. To make these arguments you have to overlook all the data that show that it is not merely the barbecued meat or processed or commercial meats that are linked to heart attack and cancer, it is other important features that are present in grass-fed beef as well.
Colon cancer connections
Let’s review just a few of the scientific studies on colon cancer. A study examining meat consumption over many years prior to the diagnosis of cancer illustrated that prolonged high consumption of red and processed meat increases (more than doubles) the risk of colon cancer. In this study, even two to three ounces of red meat per day increased risks significantly.1
Two other studies identify the mechanism by which red meat promotes colon cancer. Since red meat contains no fiber, it remains in the gut much longer than fiber-filled foods. The studies describe the biochemical effects of this slower transit time, including heightened exposure to red meat’s nitrogenous metabolites. In other words, red meat’s slower transit time in the bowel promotes prolonged exposure to these carcinogenic compounds (naturally occurring N-nitroso compounds) when a larger percentage of the diet is made of animal products rather than plant materials. Another important mechanism reported was the high haem content of red meat, because dietary haem increased cytolytic (cell-killing) activity and colonic epithelial proliferation, this explaining why red meat is more colon cancer promoting compared to fish or chicken.
Understanding the ingredients of a nutrient-sufficient diet is critical for the health seeker. Longevity and disease protection are the ultimate goals of dietary advice; but when you settle for second class advice, you doom yourself not only to a shorter life, but to a lower quality life-especially in your later years, as you suffer with medical problems that could have been avoided.
1. Chao A. Thun JT. Connell CJ. Et al. Meat Consumption and Risk of Colorectal Cancer JAMA. 2005;293:172-182.
2. Sesink AL, Termont DS, Kleibeuker JH, Van der Meer R. Red meat and colon cancer: dietary haem-induced colonic cytotoxicity and epithelial hyperproliferation are inhibited by calcium. Carcinogenesis 2001; 22(10):1653-9. Hughes R; Cross AJ, Pollock JR, Bingham S. Dose-dependent effect of dietary meat on endogenous colonic N-nitrosation. Carcinogenesis 2001; 22(1):199-202
Do primitive peoples really live longer?
No. For example, Innuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer that the overall Canadian population. 1 Similar statistics are available for the high meat-consuming Maasai in Kenya. They eat a diet high in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. Life expectancy is 45 years for women and 42 years for men. African researchers report that historically Maasai rarely lived beyond age 60. Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai show that they have a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59.2
We now know that greatly increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to the broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains. By taking advantage of the year-round availability of high-quality plant foods, we have a unique opportunity to live both healthier and longer than ever before in human history.
1. Iburg KM, Brennum-Hansen H, Bjerregaard P. Health expectancy in Greenland. Scan J Public Health 2001;29(1):5-12
2. http://www.kenya.za.net/maasai-cycles-of-life.html, http://www.who.int/countries/ken/en/
Legitimate Concerns for Vegans
There are some plausible reasons why a person might think that people should include some animal products in their diets. Even if they did not kill and eat animals, small insect metter and bacteria were always present on wild food. Modern washed and sanitized food even makes a natural, whole-foods vegan diet incomplete. There are three weaknesses of a vegan diet:
Plant foods contain no vitamin B12 (which all vegan should take).
Some vegans have a need for more taurine (or other amino acids) and may not get optimal amounts with a vegan diet. A blood test can be checked to assure adequacy.
Some vegans may not produce ideal levels of DHA fat from the conversion of short-chain omega-3 fats found in such foods as flax and walnuts. I advocate that people who do not eat fish should supplement with DHA or get a blood test to assure adequacy.These are three areas of potential deficiency on a vegan diet are easily remedied by taking supplements. Obviously, there are loads of advantages of a vegetarian diet that also should be considered, but that is not the topic for this article. A poorly designed vegetarian diet or one that is not supplemented properly with vitamin B12 and vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) can be dangerous. However, these considerations cannot be used as an argument to justify dietary recommendations
that include lots of high-saturated fat animal products.
I advocate a diet rich in micronutrients, especially antioxidants and phytochemicals, and the largest percentage of everyone’s diet must be from unrefined plant foods-no matter what your genetic “type.”
In order to do this, you must understand the nutrient density of all foods and eat more foods higher on the nutrient density scale. (Animal products are very low in nutrient density.) This nutrient per calorie density principle is what my book Eat to Live is about.
Joel Fuhrman MD is a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. Author of Eat To Live. The above article comes from Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times Newsletter, which is available at www.drfuhrman.com.
ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF SCIENCE about the future of cultured meat. Willem van Eelen was born in 1923 in the Dutch East Indies, yet his youth of freedom ended abruptly on May 10, 1940—the day the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Van Eelen enlisted and served in Indonesia, but he was eventually captured and spent most of the war as a prisoner, dragged from one P.O.W. camp to another. After the war, he studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam, but he struggled with the intertwined memories of starvation and animal abuse in the camps. At one lecture, he was seized by an idea: “Why can’t we grow meat outside of the body? Make it in a laboratory, as we make so many other things.” In-vitro meat can be made by placing a few cells in a nutrient mixture that helps them proliferate. As the cells begin to grow together, forming muscle tissue, they are attached to a biodegradable scaffold. There the tissue can be stretched and molded into food, which could, in theory, be sold, cooked, and consumed like any processed meat. Most people laughed when they heard about van Eelen’s project—it took decades for the science to catch up to his imagination. That began to happen in 1981, when stems cells were discovered in mice. In 1999, van Eelen received U.S. and international patents for the Industrial Production of Meat Using Cell Culture Methods. A new discipline, propelled by an unlikely combination of stem-cell biologists, tissue engineers, animal-rights activists, and environmentalists, has emerged in both Europe and the U.S. Teams are forming at universities around the world. Mentions Vladimir Mironov and PETA. Lab-grown meat raises powerful questions about what most people see as the boundaries of nature and the basic definitions of life. Yet our patterns of meat consumption have become increasingly dangerous for both individuals and the planet. The global livestock industry is responsible for nearly twenty per cent of humanity’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Cattle consume nearly ten per cent of the world’s freshwater resources, and eighty per cent of all farmland is devoted to the production of meat. The consequences of eating meat, and our increasing reliance on factory farms, are almost as disturbing for human health. Vascular biologist Mark Post says, “The goal [of cultured meat] is to create the volume previously provided by a million animals.” Mentions the Eindhoven University of Technology and Daisy van der Schaft. Describes the process of growing meat in a laboratory. Mentions Stone Barns and chef Dan Barber. The moral and ethical issues that would accompany the use of lab-grown beef may ultimately prove more intractable than the scientific issues. Mentions Princeton philosopher Peter Singer.
Your article asking “Is Raw Milk Safe?” (March 21, 2010) missed the forest for the trees.
Cow’s milk—pasteurized or not—is unhealthy. It contains too much phosphorus and sodium for humans. Conversely it contains too little iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids.
Cows milk does contain calcium, but it is only 25% absorbable. Get your calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium the way cows get them, by eating greens. Eat flax to get your essential fatty acids.
Why then is cow’s milk good for calves? Because calves also eat grass, which is high in all the nutrients milk is low in.
Drinking cow’s milk adds to our protein overload, harmful to kidneys. Osteoporosis results not from under-consumption of calcium but from over-consumption of protein.
Homogenized milk is whipped until fat is mixed evenly in small fat balls, which contain small protein fragments. These fat balls spiced with protein fragments can pass through the linking of the stomach and go directly into the blood stream, causing immune reactions such as allergies, ear infections, and arthritis.
Milk is an exceedingly cruel food. For a cow to continue to lactate she must bear a calf each year. Most calves go into the veal crates where they spend three months of absolute mysery.
Only humans continue to drink milk after weaning, and only humans drink the milk of another species. We continue this bad habit because cow’s milk is heavily marketed, and it is heavily marketed because it is a way to turn grass into money.
The amount of milk one should drink—raw or pasteurized—is zero.
Study the www.NotMilk.com website if you want more information on this subject.
It was almost a decade ago when seven families in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, a town of only about 2,500 people, got together to discuss the high number of rare cancers diagnosed there in recent years. Many of the afflicted were children. “We asked ourselves, ‘What in the world is going on?’”says Beth Green, whose son Michael “Blu” was one of 17 children diagnosed with diseases ranging from brain and testicular cancer to leukemia.
What is theology and how does theology relate to food?
Generally theology includes the search for answers to such difficult questions as: What will happen to us when we die? Will there will be rewards and punishments? Does god exist? What is the nature of god? How should we worship god?
I am not particularly interested in any of the above aspects of theology. They are completely speculative. There is no way for us to know answers to such questions, except to wait until we die. We should study such questions only as part of the history of theology and philosophy. We should not judge people based on whether they agree with us regarding the answers to such unknowable questions.
However, there is another aspect of theology I do find interesting. It is one which is given little coverage in sermons or seminaries. It’s the one attribute of god that we can know something about while we are still alive, before we die. It is the “how we should behave” attribute of god, the ethics attribute.
If we focus on this ethics aspect of theology, we can make the world a more ethical and lawful place. And, if god is paying attention to what we do down here, SHE will be pleased. God turned the world over to us. It’s our duty to civilize it.
I am not sure what god is. Although I fervently hope god exists, I am not certain god exists. However, I choose to presume that god exists and to commit myself to living as if god exists. I am confident that whatever god is, god would want us to do unto others as we would have them do to us, to do unsolicited good deeds for those in need, to strive for the moral improvement of our species, and not to focus only preparing for the next life.
Do we believe we can civilize the world? Why don’t we make a more focused effort to do so? Why do religions generally neglect the “how we should behave” attribute of god?
Whatever god is, god is inseparable from the concept of ethics and justice. We should make a concerted study of how to make “justice roll down like waters.” (Amos 5:24.) In doing so we will learn all we can know of god with any certainty during this incarnation. And maybe in doing so we will civilize the world.
The other preliminary question is how theology or the study of a god of ethics relates to food. There are many ethical issues that involve food: whether the food we eat strengthens or weakens us and increases or decreases our ability to complete our calling, whether the way we get food protects or degrades our physical environment, and whether the way we get food wipes out species and involves the mistreatment of sensitive beings.
THE GODDESS, SYMBOL OF A MYTHICAL PAST,
MODEL FOR A BETTER FUTURE
In Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. (and in the Middle East before around 5500 B.C.E.), there was no generalized warfare. We know this because cities before this time had no walls. Jericho was the only exception. Where there is no war, there is no need for walls. In Old Europe there were towns of up to 10,000 people. There were paved streets, small two-story temples, five-room homes with plaster floors and walls. There were beautiful frescos on the walls, vases, sculpture, and jewelry. The Old Europeans had a written language—which we have not deciphered—which survives on pottery and walls. Homes were all roughly the same size, indicating there was a fundamental equality of wealth and income.
The people of Old Europe and the Old Middle East thought of god as a woman, a very hard concept for us to grasp today. Women did not dominate men as men have since dominated women. Society was not matriarchal in the sense that it has been patriarchal since men took over in Europe around 4300 B.C.E., and in the Middle East around 5500 B.C.E. Society was matristic, that is mother-centered. Most of the rulers were queens, but there were some kings too. Most religious leaders were priestesses, but there were some priests. (See the section of this book entitled The Delphic Oracle, p. 67.) Women owned the land because women had pioneered agriculture while men were out foraging. Inheritance was from mother to daughter. When a man and woman married, the man joined the household of the woman’s mother. There were similar patterns in the Middle East, India, and China. (See the chapter of this book entitled Loss of Eden, p. 39.)
All this was swept away in Old Europe beginning around 4300 B.C.E. by patriarchal Aryan invaders from the Caucasus, whose ideology was conquest and horse, cattle, and sheep herding. They had mastered horseback riding, and they had perfected powerful lightweight, composite bows and deadly composite, flint swords. This happened in the Late Stone Age, even before the Bronze Age. The invaders spoke a Vedic language from which the Indo-European languages are descended. The Aryans were invincible, and the goddess culture was quickly overwhelmed. It was a sad time. I suspect the goddess people prayed as they were being slaughtered that someone in the distant future would try to pick up where they had left off.
Anthropologists exhume the town dumps or middens of Old Europe and find the bones of food animals in strata older than the time of the Aryan invasions. Meat was eaten in Old Europe, and thus it might be said that the goddess is not an appropriate unifying theme for a vegan foodways book such as this. However, archaeological evidence, which I will detail in later chapters, indicates that in Old Europe there was less animal husbandry, that much more land was cultivated before the invasions of the patriarchs than after, and that meat was a smaller part of the diet.
Further, there are indications from mythology and from statements by the earliest historians that at least some of the goddess worshiping tribes of Old Europe did not eat meat or that there were devout classes in certain tribes which did not eat meat. I refer to myths and histories found in the sayings of Pythagoras, the writings of Plato, the Talmud, the Old Testament, and the writings of the Judeo-Christians—all of which state clearly that there existed a prehistoric, Edenic Golden Age in which at least some tribes did not use animals for sacrifices or for food. I propose that these myths and legends refer to the time before 4300 B.C.E. in Europe and before 5500 B.C.E. in the Middle East. (See Loss of Eden, page 54.)
The priestesses of the goddess cultures were herbal healers, and those who heal with herbs eat more herbs and vegetables and eat a greater variety of herbs and vegetables and therefore would have eaten less animal-based food or maybe none. The vegetarian Pythagoras admitted that he learned much of his knowledge at the feet of Themistoclea, a priestess of the Oracle of Pythia, renamed Delphi by the patriarchs, one of the last surviving remnants of the goddess religion. Pythagoras was strongly vegetarian, and so we would presume that so too would have been Themistoclea, and so too would have been the religion of the Oracle. I propose that the religion of the Oracle and the tribe that Pythagoras was born into represented one of the last surviving vegetarian tribes from pre-Indo-European times. (See the section of this book entitled Greek and Persian Legend and the Link Back to the Golden Era, p. 67.)
Many of the stories I refer to are myth, but that does not mean they are not true. Myth is a story about the past that states an ethical or moral truth which applies to the present, a statement about the past regarding what the present should be. Myth is often also an allegorical or vaguely remembered account of actual, historical incidents. Bachofen wrote convincingly of the “historicity of myth.” Classical Greek writers admitted that their gods and mythology in many cases grew out of dimly remembered facts about early kings and heroes.
The Hebrew myth of the Garden of Eden and the Greek myth of the Golden Age are possible example of this. Eden is said to have been a time when humans in small numbers lived in a peaceful, garden setting, where plant food was so abundant that they did not have to cultivate or hunt. As presented in the Hebrew Bible, the diet of Adam and Eve in Eden was vegetarian (Genesis 1:30, 9:3) as it was in Plato’s Golden Age (The Republic, Book 2). Did a glimmer of the Golden Age or Eden survive down through the Hebrews and the Pythagoreans to the Essenes and the Judeo-Christians, and from them into modern times? That is my hypothesis.
In using the goddess as my unifying theme, I admit that I am to some extent creating my own myth. It is worthwhile to use myth as a tool for appealing to people today about how we should live, as long as we explain the true story behind the myth.
However, it would be a mistake for me to build my case just on what happened in the past, or for me to say that the reason why we should try to make a new Golden Age is because there was a Golden Age in the past, of for me to say that we can make a new Golden Age today only if one existed in the past.
We can find peace—even if it is for the first time—if enough of us work for it.
I stress the Eden and Golden Age myths because they prove that from ancient times, prophets have been reminding us that at least some of us ate a green diet and that we should return to that ideal state.
The Aryan invaders sometimes killed everyone except for the virgin girls—our ancestors on the female side. These they forcibly took as concubines. But all was not lost. The daughters remembered the knowledge from earlier times. They taught it to their children, including their sons, who helped keep it alive. And that’s why a man has standing to write a book such as mine.
Over the centuries we are rediscovering these themes. They are reemerging because enough of the fragments survived to enable us to piece together a picture of that era. These themes are inherently more sensible and life-enhancing than the conquest and domination themes introduced by the patriarchs —our ancestors on the male side.
By the time we get to the era of written history, we find prophets—Pythagoras, the Buddha, Socrates and Plato, the writer of Daniel, John the Baptist, Simon Peter, Matthew, James the brother of Jesus, Jesus himself, and all his original disciples, and many modern day prophets such as Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy—who taught some or all of the themes of the matristic civilization: peace, high ethical standards, the primacy of law, nonviolence, opposition to slavery, respect for women, respect for children, and herbal knowledge. These prophets and their followers rejected meat eating and cruelty to animals.
Because Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the leading Western religions, I will focus on them and show that various Hebrew prophets and Jesus and his immediate predecessors and his disciples rejected meat eating and cruelty to animals. I will show that Jesus’ Judeo-Christian church was vegetarian for over 300 years—until it was wiped out by the gentile church. I will show that they ate that way because they believed Jesus had taught them to eat that way in order to realize the messianic era.
Skipping to the present, we see two tendencies contending. On the one hand there is an explosion in the numbers of humans, 6.6 billion as of 2007, 9.0 billion by 2050, and growing at around 90 million per year) and factory farm animals (15 billion or 40 billion and rising). One-third of the world’s population lives in poverty, hunger, disease, and misery. There is overwhelming pollution of the physical environment. We develop computerized weapons of fearsome killing capacity. There is continuous war in one part of the world or another. I worry that I may turn on the radio tomorrow and learn that a suitcase nuclear bomb has gone off in New York or Tel Aviv. The outcome hangs by a thread.
And we have constructed an amoral economic system that mindlessly profits from and reinforces these tendencies. Orthodox capitalist theory is that gross sales and profits must rise continuously and that our numbers should rise too because this spurs sales and holds down the cost of labor. It will be extremely difficult to reign in the excesses of capitalism.
In 1886, a court reporter for the U.S. Supreme Court, a former railroad president, in preparing the official report of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394), wrote, as the summary of the case, that corporations were persons and had the rights persons have under the 14th Amendment. In fact, the chief justice had expressed that opinion orally only, and the actual case said no such thing. Nevertheless, subsequent courts accepted that side comment as law. Corporations were declared to have rights. Before Santa Clara County, corporations had had only privileges, privileges which could be taken away if a corporation acted contrary to whatever standards a majority of a state’s legislature might set. Corporations had to apply individually for charters. Corporations could be discriminated against.
Today’s corporations are only required to obey the law and are free to try to lobby against laws that limit their freedom to maximize profits. When corporations abuse their power, it is hard to cut them down to size. You have to prove they are violating some law and sue them. Before Santa Clara, the legislature could cancel their corporate charter or threaten to do so. Ironically, even today “unions, churches, unincorporated businesses, partnerships, and even governments, all … have only privileges.” (See Wikipedia, “Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad” and “Corporation.”)
Corporations have become non-human, super-beings. They have acquired eternal life. They can do things individual shareholders would feel guilty about doing. The corporation has an obligation to maximize profits and even maximize the rate at which profits grow. By law, corporate greed knows no limits. Shareholders are not liable for the wrongs of the corporation unless they take part personally in the wrongdoing. Shareholders can avoid legal liability and therefore moral liability. They not only are shielded legally by a “corporate veil,” they hide morally behind it. They crush ordinary men who stand in the way of profit maximization. In my law school class on corporations, there was no mention of any of this.
There is at the same time, an increasing consciousness of natural law (law in its ideal sense, as it should be, not as it is), a desire to live in harmony with the physical environment, a quest to put an end to war, and a sensitivity to animal life. These two conflicting themes coexist and contend with each other in a dualistic competition. The challenge facing us in this era is to reach enlightenment before we destroy ourselves.
I contend that those who treat animals compassionately are more likely to treat their fellow humans compassionately. I propose that treating animals compassionately is one aspect of a package of human values that can draw us towards peace and enlightenment. The goddess beckons us to come to our senses, and this is another reason why I have chosen her as the unifying symbol of my book.
ETHICAL-THEOLOGICAL QUESTION POSED
If you were to host for dinner a visiting goddess or Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, or the Buddha, what would you serve him—or her? Would you serve her a filet of a rare animal species that was on the verge of extinction? Or pate de foie gras, made from a goose force fed corn with a funnel down her neck to the point where she was in constant immobilizing pain? Or veal parmesan, made from a calf taken bawling a few hours old from its mother, denied a childhood, reared in a veal crate, and fed an unnatural diet that made it wretchedly ill? Or the cutlet of some other animal that left its crowded cage only once? Would the visiting goddess approve of what was on your menu? Would she decline to eat such foods? Would she leave the table? Would she stand up and say, “The cries of innocent animals come up to me, and I will not pretend I am not offended by your financing their suffering.” Would you lose points with Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates for your cruel diet? I’m just joking. Or am I?
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF OPPOSITION TO
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Because the era of the goddess was relatively vegetarian, I use the goddess symbol to make my ethical case against abusing animals and using them for food.
It is a matter of ethical concern that we kill animals for food and a matter of ethical concern how we kill them. But it is a much greater ethical concern how we treat them during their short lives. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
There are some 15 billion (some authorities say 40 billion) farm animals waiting to be slaughtered. Most of them live part or all their lives in hellish factory farms. Chickens have instinctual needs to stretch their wings, move around, and scratch the dirt, but they are raised claustrophobically four birds to a cage the size of a microwave oven. Their cages are stacked up ten high, and urine and feces rain down on them constantly. These are animals with an acute sense of smell, so it is all the more abusive that they are forced to live in stench. They are debeaked, which would be like cutting off part of your nose, mouth, and chin, but many are still able to peck each other to death with their blunted beaks.
Pigs have instinctual needs to roam free, but many live their adult lives in “bacon bins” so small they cannot turn around, cages stacked to the ceiling, inside closed buildings, and they too live in the stench of the feces and urine that rains down on them. To drink they are given the urine- and feces-laden liquid they excrete. When they are moved from cage to cage or to slaughter they are driven with baseball bats. They fight back. Ten percent of them die of heart attacks in the slaughtering process.
Beef cattle are finished in feed lots devoid of grass, standing and lying instead in muddy or dusty feces. Young bulls are castrated without anesthetic. Cattle need to eat grass and hay for proper digestion, but they are fed an unnatural diet made up mostly of corn, soy, and meat to fatten them, and this diet sickens them.
Dairy cows must deliver calves yearly to continue to produce milk. The calves are all taken away within a few days so they will not keep the cows away from the milking machines. Both mother and calf wail for days. Most dairy calves go into “veal crates” so small that the calves cannot even turn around or lick themselves, where they are fed nothing but surplus milk and butter—subsidized by our taxes. They are fed none of the iron-rich grass they need. This is done to make their flesh whitish and tender, but it makes them severely anemic. They suffer from constant diarrhea and numerous other diseases so serious that 20 percent of them die before their typical slaughter age of 100 days. Can you imagine what you would have to do to calves to kill 20 percent of them in their first 100 days?
Our food animals lack our intellect and our ability to speak, but they have all of our ability to perceive pain, claustrophobia, and stench. The same is true of animals tortured in laboratories where cosmetics and medicines are tested. They all know they are suffering.
Yes, our ancient ancestors killed animals and ate meat, but those were animals which had lived a free and natural life and ate natural food. Our ancestors killed animals quickly. They killed only what they needed to kill to survive. What exists today is the systematic industrial torture of feeling beings on a massive scale. It is a sin.
Pet owners would be outraged if their dogs and cats were mistreated in such ways but think nothing of the way our food animals are mistreated. Most say correctly that our species has been hunting animals for millions of years, but they ignore the fact that we did not confine and torture them by the billions until recently. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
It is amazing that most people know so little about these ghoulish evils. Most do not realize the torture their food dollars finance. They do not see the connection between what they eat and the mistreatment of the animals that we convert into food. Some know but block it out. Some consider it necessary and inevitable because we are descended from a long line of meat eaters. Most believe the lie that it is necessary to eat animal products to be healthy. Some consider it of no importance or relevance, saying, “They are just animals.” Tough men laugh at you for having pity for the animals. We humans are occasionally creative and enlightened, but mostly we are just insensitive.
I was beaten by football thugs in junior high. I didn’t like being beaten. I don’t like it when people beat up other people. And I don’t like it when people beat up animals who have done us no harm whatsoever. I eat a green diet primarily because I see no way of eating animal products without spending my money to hire thugs to beat up animals.
THE GODDESS AS ETHICAL SYMBOL
Although I have called my book “What To Serve A Goddess,” I could have called it “How To Serve A Goddess.” What to serve her is a part of how to serve her. Right eating is an important part of right living.
In this book I talk a lot about religion. My religion is the religion of ethics and law: Behaving ethically is more important than believing any specific set of doctrines regarding unknowable things. I revere and follow Jesus as an ethical, not a religious teacher. My calling is to search for truth honestly and to follow it wherever it leads me.
Likewise, I use the goddess as an ethical and not a religious symbol. It is hard to find ethical symbols that do not derive from religious traditions. For historical reasons, our language is structured so that it is difficult to talk about ethics without using religious terminology. The study of ethics was, until modern times, largely though not exclusively the province of religion. Only over the last few hundred years has ethics become a discipline independent of religion. Ethics was for a long time taught mostly in seminaries. Now it is taught by philosophers, physicians, environmentalists, attorneys, teachers, and by every profession, guild, and trade. In order to study the ethics of thousands of years ago, it is impossible not to use religious terminology, because that was the context in which ethics was discussed back then. This book has a theological component because our ethical concepts are rooted in theological concepts.
Some may think it blasphemy that I refer to god as a goddess. Today’s blasphemy is yesterdays truth: In ancient times everyone except the invading patriarchs thought of god as a woman. Those patriarchs with their male sun, storm, and thunder god invaded the Near East around 5500 B.C.E., Europe around 4300 B.C.E., Persia around 2000 B.C.E., and India around 1750 B.C.E. and turned the world upside down.
Goddess figurines unearthed in Old Europe from before 4300 B.C.E. are sometimes dismissed as mere fertility idols. This attitude is part of the disdain that patriarchal historians have always had for ancient matristic cultures. The invading and warlike patriarchs worshiped a male god and made it their goal to stamp out the religion of the goddess. “You shall not permit a sorceress to live,” said the early Hebrew patriarchs in what probably was a reference to the priestesses, herbalists, healers, and midwives of the older, competing goddess religion. (Exodus 22:18; cf. Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10.)
It is hard to piece together information from so far in the past, and it is important not to over idealize. Nevertheless, there is much evidence that the goddess religions generally stressed family harmony, high ethical standards, the rule of law, peace, male-female equality, healing, respect for life, opposition to slavery, respect for animals and the physical environment, and a vegetarian or relatively vegetarian diet. (See the section of this book entitled Old Europe, Before 4300 B.C.E., a Paradigm of Partnership, p. 40.)
The patriarchal conquerors could not completely exterminate the religion and ethics of the goddess. Goddess ideals went underground and survived semi-dormant under the patriarchal surface. Over the centuries they have gradually increased in strength, and recently they have emerged into the light of consciousness. After 6,000 years, slavery is illegal again—although de facto slavery still exists in many places. Women can again vote and marry whom they choose. They again have the same right to divorce as men. They again can own property in their own names and control it and leave it to whomever they wish when they die. Most of the formerly patriarchal religions now allow women to serve as priests and ministers, something that would have been unthinkable even a hundred years ago. Women are finally regaining the status they enjoyed in Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. If you take a really long view of history, this is one of its most significant developments.
Patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism are hybrids, the patriarchal invader religions crossbred with the goddess religions which preceded them. These religions all worship a male god, although Hinduism worships male and female gods. Nevertheless, theologians generally agree that god transcends gender. According to Mahavira, the definitive prophet of Jainism, god resists classification:
All sounds recoil thence, where speculation has no room, nor does the mind penetrate there. The liberated is not long or small or round or triangular—he is not black—or white—he is without body, without contact (of matter), he is not feminine or masculine or neuter; he perceives, he knows, but there is no analogy (whereby to know the nature of the liberated soul); its essence is without form; there is no condition of the unconditioned. (Pratapaditya Pal, The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India, p. 13.)
Some have problems thinking of god as goddess. If you prefer, every time I write “goddess,” you can read “god,” “highest prophet,” “true messiah,” “holy spirit,” “shekinah,” “wise one,” “the ongoing consciousness of the good,” “the tendency towards peace,” “the transcendent embodiment of the highest ethical standards.” These are all similar concepts.
Some are offended that I don’t capitalize “god.” I regard god as a concept or force more than as a person. I presume SHE cares more about what I do with my life than how I spell HER name. I agree with the Jewish position that god is inseparable from ethics. It is because god and the good are such overlapping concepts that I write the word “god” uncapitalized. I also do it to make you think.
Modern-day Hindu prophetess, Amachi, has an interesting theory about Jesus. She believes his female side was paramount and that he came as a man only because in the radically patriarchal age in which he lived, leaders would only have taken him seriously as a male. His message about how to bring peace to the world contained ethical elements from the previous matristic age.
THE GODDESS AS SYMBOL OF THE FEMININE SIDE OF GOD
Rabbinic Judaism had/has a trinity of sorts: There is god the father, god the mother spirit, and god’s sons and daughters. We are all made in the image of god the father and god the mother spirit. God functions in the world through our participation. We are god’s sons and daughters and therefore in some sense part of god. In the Jewish mystical tradition known as kabbalah, the shekinah is the creative and female side of god. The Judeo-Christians believed Jesus was an adopted son of god, as were all messiah-kings, a special son that we, as fellow sons and daughters of god, should emulate.
The Odes of Solomon are the oldest known Christian hymns, written in the First Century. They were written in and survive in Syriac, a language similar to the Aramaic and Hebrew that Jesus spoke. In the Odes the word “spirit” is feminine, and there are numerous references in the Odes to the spirit as “she.” The earliest Christians sang hymns in which the holy spirit was female. (James Hamilton Charlesworth, The Odes of Solomon: The Syriac Texts, 11:2 at p. 52, 19:2 at p. 82, 35:1 at p. 126.)
The first Christians were the Judeo-Christians of Jerusalem. They were descended from the respected Essene sect. The Essenes, the Judeo-Christians, and the Pharisees were all Jewish sects. They all spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, and in those languages “spirit” was ruach or rucha, a feminine word. For them the holy spirit was female. For them the trinity could not have been three males. Every time Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, he and his listeners were thinking “she.” (www.adishakti.org/text_files/holy_spirit.htm.)
Paul’s version of Christianity took root at Antioch and from there spread throughout the Greek- and Latin-speaking Roman Empire. (Acts 11:26.) The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, a neuter word. In Latin the word “spirit” is spiritus, a masculine word. So it was, through a linguistic accident, that gentile Christianity, very uninformed about Judaism, developed its male holy spirit and its all-male trinity.
The idea that the holy spirit is a woman is present in ancient Judeo-Christian gospels, which survive in quotations made by orthodox theologians. For example, the hateful heresy fighter Origen, makes the following comment about the Gospel According to the Hebrews:
If any one should lend credence to the Gospel According to the Hebrews, where the Savior Himself says, “My mother, the Holy Spirit took me just now by one of my hairs [or lock of hair] and carried me off to the great mount Tabor,” he will have to face the difficulty of explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ when it was itself brought into existence through the Word. (Commentary on John, 2:6, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1015.htm. See Origen’s Homily on Jeremiah 15:4 and Jerome’s Commentary on Micha 7:5-7; see A.F.J. Klijn, Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition, p. 7, 52 ff.)
Origen was referring to John 1:3, which says that all things were made through the word. Jesus was the word, and therefore even the Holy Spirit was made through the Word. Therefore, according to John, the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son.
Origen presumed that John was more authoritative than the Judeo-Christian Gospel According to the Hebrews. Origen was a poor scholar. He apparently did not even know that “Spirit” is the feminine word ruach or rucha in Hebrew and Aramaic.
The earliest version of the Nicene Creed says that “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.” The Roman Church changed it to say that “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This controversy was one of the reasons for the schism between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. In the Orthodox version the Father is superior to both Holy Spirit and Son. In the Catholic version Father and Son together are superior to the Holy Spirit.
So among Judaism, Judeo-Christianity, and gentile Christianity there is confusion over the relationship between father, son, and holy spirit. As Judaism teaches, were god the father and god the mothering spirit together the parents of Jesus as they are the parents of all of us? Did a male holy spirit “overshadow” Mary and father Jesus? (Luke 1:35.) Did the holy spirit proceed from the son? and was Jesus as the word the “parent” of the holy spirit? (John 1:3.) Did the holy spirit proceed from the father or from the father and son, as the two versions of the Nicene Creed say? (See the section of this book entitled Christological Inflation, p. 79.)
Early gentile Christians, recent converts from religions which had worshiped and prayed to a mother goddess, longed to worship god again as a mother. They came to revere Mary as a surrogate for the mother goddess they had lost. So when the Council of Ephesus in 431 C.E. decreed it proper to revere Mary as theotokos or god-bearer, there was dancing in the streets.
The early, patriarchal gentile Christians did a historical sex change operation on the holy spirit and made her male. Christianity, with its all-male trinity has not been as sensitive to the real needs of humans, the environment, women, and girls as it would have been had it held to the father-mother-son-daughter trinity of Judaism and Judeo-Christianity.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF A CALL TO EAT WHAT WILL
MAKE US HEALTHY
Part of right living is right eating.
The average person eats around six pounds of food per day, around 2,190 pounds of food per year, around 164,000 pounds of food in a 75-year life. (1995 lecture by Buck Levin, nutritionist, naturopath, and instructor at Bastyr University.) The average American eats 235 pounds of meat each year. (Dianne Hales, “We’ll Make Your Tastebuds Tingle,” Parade, November 12, 2000.) This brings new meaning to the old adage “you are what you eat.”
Well, what else would we be but what we eat? It is true that to a small extent we are composed of the oxygen we breathe, since it might join with food to build cells, but except for that, we are what we eat. Dr. Udo Erasmus gives us a choice: Our bodies can be built of nutrient-rich foods or junk foods. If our bodies are built of nutrient-rich foods, they will constitute a medium in which certain cancer-causing microbes and actual cancer cells will either lie dormant or die. (Udo Erasmus, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p. 364.)
Nevertheless, most see no connection between what we eat and the condition of our bodies. Some of us eat as if our digestive system were incinerators which completely purify what we eat. It does not happen that way. Digestion takes place at body temperature. Food is not completely deconstructed into elements and compounds. Some fats and proteins percolate right through the lining of the stomach, flow right through the blood stream, and join cells, completely undigested. If we eat junk, we are junk.
Cattle, pigs, and chickens are fed a steady diet of pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, ground-up meat, and the fecal matter of several species. Fish in the sea eat the outflow of farms and factories. The mercury from coal burning utilities settles in the oceans, where it is consumed by fish. The contamination concentrates in their fatty tissues, bones, and glands. Fish farmed fish are fed insecticide and antibiotics to kill the sea lice and the diseases which infect them.
Because the seas are the ultimate waste dump for industry, the FDA warns people not to eat too much fish. Methyl mercury and PCBs are the main contaminants.
If junk is what cattle, pigs, chickens, and fish eat, junk is what they are. If we eat cattle, pigs, chickens, eggs, and fish, junk is what we are. You wouldn’t bring home pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, manure, and heavy metals in a small jar and feed a few grams each day to your family. So why would you bring home meat or milk or eggs containing all these pollutants and feed these to your family?
The bodies of factory animals are often cancer ridden. Some of the same viruses that cause cancer in animals also cause cancer in humans. You would not know this from watching the breast cancer awareness ads on TV: You hear a lot about “early detection” but not a word about prevention. That’s right; cancer can be prevented. The cancer rate among vegans is very low. (See the Cancer section of this book, p. 273.)
Hippocrates, the Pythagorean physician, taught: “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.” This means we should only eat food that strengthens us and should eat no food that does not strengthen us.
Under an ancient version of the Hippocratic Oath, healers swore to “apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick.” The modern version exhorts doctors to “prevent disease whenever (they) can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” However, most physicians today do not have time to practice preventive medicine or give dietary advice. Instead doctors prescribe drugs and perform operations to try to overcome the effect of their patients’ bad diets.
We are what we eat, as well, on an emotional level. We like to eat what makes us feel good about ourselves. Once we learn how badly factory animals are treated, we will no longer feel good about eating them. We may not want to know, but we ought to know—because the money we spend on animal foods finances the system that mistreats the animals we eat.
So why do we eat as badly as we do? Because we have not been conscious of these issues. Because we have been asleep.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF RETURN TO ENVIRONMENTAL SANITY
Our numbers have grown exponentially. Ash from the eruption of the Toba volcano some 74,000 years ago wiped out most humans. Our numbers were as low as a few thousand or even a few hundred. (See the section of this book entitled Population Explosion and a Plant Based Diet, p. 231.) Rapid reproduction became a necessity. Those families and clans which survived were those which bore the most children. This may be the time when we developed our urge to have large families. By the end of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago, the human population of the world had risen to some 10 million. By the time of Jesus, there were some 200 million of us. We reached 6.0 billion in 1999 and 6.6 billion in 2007. We are headed for 9.0 billion by 2050. Add to this the effect of 15 billion (some say 40 billion) domesticated animals worldwide, most of whom would not otherwise exist, and most of them living in factory buildings and feedlots.
These animals defecate and urinate in vast quantities. The waste flows untreated into streams and then into rivers and coastal estuaries. The pollution flows because we choose to eat chicken, pork, beef, eggs, and dairy products. By buying their animal-based foods, we hire the farmers to grow the animals and pollute the waters.
Most of these animals are fed sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, creating a breeding ground for diseases that are becoming resistant to the drugs we can no longer rely on to heal us.
Grazing animals rip out grass by the roots and girdle saplings and so help destroy forests and contribute to desertification. There was knee-high grass in vast areas of the American West that are now tumbleweed deserts. Wells in dry areas in third world countries are surrounded for miles by land stripped of all vegetation by herds of animals coming to drink. Deserts can be reclaimed, but only if animal herding is banned. If deserts are turned back into grassland and forest, more CO2 will be taken from the atmosphere, and greenhouse warming will be reduced. Diet affects land use, which affects climate.
There is a direct link between what we eat and how species live, die, and become extinct. Loggers are cutting down rain forests far away, but it is our dietary choices here that cause the cutting. When we eat a hamburger here, we are hiring some logger to cut trees so some rancher can graze cattle to make your next Big Mac.
Ninety percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn grown in the United States is fed to animals. Corn, soy, and other feed crops are heavily subsidized, which lowers feed costs for producers of meat, milk, and eggs. Growing these crops causes unsustainable losses in topsoil. A cow has to be fed 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat and the other 15 pounds–which could have been fed directly to humans or used to produce biodiesel and ethanol–is lost in this inefficient exchange. (See the section of this book entitled The Environment and a Plant-Based Diet.)
Farmers in poor countries finish animals in feed lots, while people starve just outside the fence. Much of the meat is exported to make payments on their country’s massive international debt. Small farmers cannot afford to grow basic commodities because subsidized U.S. commodities are cheaper.
If we had taken responsibility for our numbers back when there were only a billion of us, maybe we could keep eating a diet high in animal-based foods and still maintain a healthy environment and adequately feed the poor. However, it’s too late now. We made our choice when we kept breeding to the point where we took over the entire planet. We have foreclosed the meat-eating option. Drastic changes are necessary, and the longer we wait to implement the changes, the more drastic the changes will have to be.
The argument is made that we need to eat animal products to get certain nutrients. However, thanks to modern science this is no longer so. We now know what nutrients we must be careful to eat if we don’t eat animal products. It is now possible to feel perfectly safe eating a green diet and feeding a green diet to our children. (See the section entitled A Plant-Based Diet —Health Considerations, p. 237.
I posit that the goddess calls us to make this radical change, because it is the only solution now left us.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THOSE IN NEED
Back during the and Contra Wars of the 1980s I traveled in Central America. One January I found myself in high altitude and chilly Antigua, Guatemala, where I caught cold. I decided to head for a hot beach. I journeyed down to the costal village of Puerto Champerico, a village on the Pacific. I swam and body surfed in the big breakers. I hung out in the town square and worked on my Spanish with the local high school kids. I learned how to pronounce dinosaurio and Retalhuleu, the tongue twister name of the province I was in. I enjoyed being the only tourist in town.
I met Enrique, and he taught me how to sing the scale in a way I had never heard before. (See Enrique’s Scale in the music section of this book, p. 418.) He was a house painter, but he could earn only four dollars a day, and he only got a few days of work each week. Enrique and his family were always hungry. I could find no decent vegan food in the local cafes. So we worked out a trade: I bought big sacks full of rice, beans, vegetables, potatoes, and eggs in the marketplace. I bought eggs because they needed essential fatty acids, and flax was unavailable. I took the sacks to his house, where his family and I cooked them up. I got the vegan food I wanted, and his family got a lot of food.
Enrique was faced with several dilemmas: He needed money to feed himself so he would have energy to work. But he also needed to feed his family. He had parasites, probably from drinking contaminated water. His illness drained his energy, but he didn’t have the money to buy the Flagyl that would kill the parasites. All night long they were harassed by zancudos, tiny little mosquitoes that really sting. The family stayed up all night fanning the baby to keep the zancudos from biting. Enrique didn’t even have enough money to buy mosquito nets for himself or his family.
Enrique was/is not unusual. To one degree or another some two billion people around the world face the same dilemmas. They lack good drinking water, are malnourished or starving, are diseased, and lack good shelter. Some of the most needy are mothers and children, particularly those with no husbands. “Lady Madonna, children at your breast. Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.” Today’s single-parent goddesses suffer. The title of this book challenges you to do something for them. See the sadness in the face of the goddess on the cover of this book? She is weary and battered.
FOOD IS A SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, A PERSONAL, AND
EVEN A SPIRITUAL MATTER
We take what we eat personally. We like various foods and dislike others. We offer to share our food with others, and feel offended when others refuse to eat it. Conversely, we sometimes go ahead and eat food we do not like so as to avoid offending others.
I have written much of this book in the first person singular because what I have to say about food is in large part based on my experience. It would have been dishonest for me to leave myself out. How I decided to make my culinary transition to a green diet may help you make yours. How I decided that my diet was important to the physical and moral environment of the world may be relevant to your decision about what to eat. How I taught myself to grow and cook my own food may inspire you to do the same.
I love food. I eat all the time. When I work, I eat. I take leftovers to my office in plastic containers and raid the refrigerator every few hours. I hide pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my desk drawer and munch on them as I work. I eat flax seed by the spoonful and chomp on them.
I like to eat what makes me feel good, and that means a light, low-fat diet. I remember how sluggish I used to feel after eating roast beef. It made me want to—go—to—sleep. Z-Z-Z-Z. I would lie on the sofa feeling sluggish from the thick oil I had injected into my arteries. At the same time my heart would be racing because the adrenaline that had been in that terror-stricken cow was now in me.
In this book I will not hesitate to tell you the negative side of the great American diet. However, I will also employ what I believe to be a better way to win you over: I will talk about the uplifting possibilities which will flow from eating a plant-based diet, including a trim figure, better health, and a longer life span. I will introduce you to recipes that will thrill your palate and satisfy your cravings. Most of the flavors we enjoy are found in the spices and vegetables we add to our foods, not in the meat, milk, or eggs.
Eating a plant-based diet will make you feel light and healthy. You will be able to eat a greater volume of plant-based food, eat more frequently, and quit counting calories. You will thoroughly enjoy the taste and texture of plant-based food. You will leave the table feeling full but not sluggish. You will be able to stabilize your weight at a leaner level.
My omnivorous friends sometimes tell me that if they do not eat meat, they feel somehow unsatisfied, that they have not had a real dinner. I have a theory about this: As a fat-addicted species, we crave the salty, fatty, chewy, crunchiness of animal-based foods because the are essential fats we need are found in animal-based foods. I will tell you how to get them from plant-based sources and how to prepare plant-based food that is as crunchy, chewy, and as salty as necessary to be satisfying. (See the Healthy Cooking Techniques section, p. 349, and the Goddess Recipes section, of this book p. 365.) You will find it no great sacrifice to give up animal-based foods. Along with them will go your big belly, your high blood pressure, your diabetes, your infirmity in your old age, and your early demise. You will feel like running and playing with your grandchildren instead of sitting and watching them.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THE CALL FOR PEACE AMONG HUMANS
Because the era of the goddess before 4300 B.C.E. was peaceful, I use the goddess as a symbol of peace. The vegetarian leaders and groups I referred to above, from Pythagoras to Jesus to Gandhi, had theories about how to put an end to the cycle of violence and warfare. Their theory was that we should do unsolicited good deeds for those who are in need, that we should absorb the violence instead of return it when doing so will stop the cycle of violence. There is a package of ethical beliefs, which just might bring peace. Treating animals with compassion was and is part of that package. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF LAW
The blindfolded person holding the scale is an ancient symbol of law. She is a woman. In many languages “law” is a feminine word, perhaps a word from the language of the ancient matristic, lawful cultures, a word that survived the invasions of the lawless patriarchs. And bear in mind that when I refer to “law” I am talking about natural law, law in the ideal sense, not law as it is, sometimes a tool manipulated by the rich and powerful to get more rich and more powerful.
Law is an interlocking structure of values which support each other. Visualize a four-sided pyramid, a very strong structure composed of six members. If one member of the pyramid is missing, it will collapse easily. Following this analogy, a legal system where murder or assault or theft were allowed would be an unstable system. It is hard to imagine a legal system that permitted such wrongs, but try to posit its existence, and then think about how allowing such evils would undermine other aspects of law.
The same can be said for treatment of women. Women lost their rights with the coming of the patriarchs, the right to vote, own property, marry the man of their choice, and divorce an unkind husband. Laws that allowed the subjugation of women created a blind spot in men’s legal thinking. They had to come up with some justification for the subjugation. The justification generally made little sense: Women were obviously inferior because of some mythological original sin or because they were smaller or because they did not have souls. A legal system that does not grant rights to women will lack stability. Society is weaker where only half its members function fully. The lack of this important structural member will tend to make the entire structure subject to collapse.
The same can be said for the treatment of children. Children were treated well before the invasions of the patriarchs, but poorly thereafter. The Aryan Romans, for example, valued sons, and tolerated having one girl, but often would abandon subsequent girl babies to the streets, where they would be eaten by dogs or pigs. The lucky few would be adopted by Jews or Christians. Parents or custodians of children were free to put them to work in sweat shops and had no obligation to educate them. A legal system that does not protect and educate its children raises children who will not achieve their full potential and may become criminals. Rights for children is thus a structural member without which a legal system will lack stability and tend toward general injustice.
Likewise, a legal system which allows slavery will be unstable. Slavery became legal from the time of the patriarchal invasions and continued to be legal until the 1800s. I contend that allowing slavery stunted the development of law and delayed the evolution of democratic and lawful societies. It created moral blind spots. Why was it illegal to beat or kill a free man but legal to beat or kill a slave? Why was illegal to rape free women but perfectly legal for a slave owner to rape his women slaves as often as he liked? Owners made up crude rationalizations to justify such things. And if a slave could be abused, then why couldn’t a troublesome free man or woman be abused? Again, a legal system that allows slavery is one that lacks stability and tends toward general injustice.
We could say the same thing regarding prisoners’ rights. The beatings and rapes to which prisoners are subjected—while wardens look the other way—is a scandal. We must keep an eye on prison keepers, as Jesus advised, for they can easily get caught up in brutality. (Matthew 25:30.) Most prisoners are eventually released. They will more likely be worse people when they come out than they when they went in. Thus a system of laws which allows prisoners to be brutalized tends towards instability.
We could say the same thing regarding respect for the physical environment. If we use the world around us strictly to maximize profits and without regard to any other values, the quality of our lives is reduced.
I hope you see my point about law in the ideal sense being an interlocking structure of values which support each other. I have talked about a system of laws which might allow the abuse of women, children, slaves, prisoners, or the natural environment. Now take my argument just one step further and think about a society in which it is legal systematically to abuse 15 billion (some say 40 billion) factory farm animals on a daily basis.
Most of us know about the abuse to a greater or lesser extent but suppress our feelings about what is going on. We suppress our feelings in much the same way that people suppressed their feelings about the abuse of women, children, slaves, prisoners, and the physical environment. “Oh, these things happen, and we have to be realistic,” they say. “It’s always been that way.” “We don’t want to change too quickly lest we damage the economy.’
Those who profit from the system elect the governments which sanction the abuse. The profiteers market their animal products and convince the public to eat far more animal products of far lower quality and of higher fat content than they ate in times past. In producing these animal products, the profiteers cut down forests and pollute rivers and oceans. They inflict chronic illnesses on us and cause us to spend vast amounts on a medical system which is silent about how to prevent these illnesses. Our life spans are shorter, and we suffer more from chronic diseases in our old age. Society is weakened physically. We are drained of resources which could be spent in better ways.
I contend that a society that allows the abuse of animals has a serious blind spot, and behind or within this blind spot other great wrongs and untruths are allowed and encouraged to exist.
MY THESIS IS THIS
I aim to prove that treating animals with compassion—which necessarily includes moving to a green diet—is an indispensable part of a package of behaviors which can better our earthly reality. Treating animals with compassion will stimulate change on other levels and teach us to treat humans and the environment with sensitivity. I consider it a keystone behavior. It’s absence is so conspicuous that once people learn it, they will rise to a higher level of awareness. Change will be stimulated on other levels.
I believe it is possible to have a truly healthy and long-lived population, to put an end to hunger, to make good drinking water available to everyone, to bring down health care costs, to reign in population explosion, to achieve an environmental balance, to stop the great die off of species, and to bring about peace between humans and between nations. I believe we are much more likely to realize these goals if we treat animals with compassion and much less likely to realize them if we don’t. Our abuse of the animals is such a conspicuous societal sin that we have to eliminate it if we are to become aware of and eliminate our other sins.
Will it be easy to convince enough people to treat animals with compassion to make a significant difference? No. Will it take a long time? Yes. Should we then not try? We should still try. Women lost their rights with the coming of the patriarchs, and that is when slavery and child abuse began. It has taken some 6,000 years to right these wrongs. Should all those people through all those centuries who struggled to undo these wrongs simply have given up? The sooner you join in this effort, the sooner progress will be made.
This movement has powerful foes, because there are vast profits made in the exploitation of animals and the spoliation of the environment. However, the odds are not as bad as you might think. Now we can spread these ideas through the Internet, at virtually no cost. The Internet is the great equalizer.
They have all the money, but we have all the good ideas.
There are already millions us around the world who refuse to eat animal-based foods. There are millions more who are sensitive to these issues and would go part or all the way with us if they just knew how to cook plant-based food in an appetizing way and if they could be assured they could get all the nutrients they need from plant-based food.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THE CALL TO WAKE UP
We humans are morally defective as a species: We desire conformity very strongly. We generally believe we are safe if we are in the majority. We presume the status quo is correct and defend it stubbornly. We ridicule anyone who questions the status quo as a kook. We have big brains, but we use them to construct complex rationalizations to justify things as they are. We are easily manipulated when there is a lot of money to be made. Making a lot of money is nearly everyone’s dream. Keeping the economy stimulated is a must if the current political party is to stay in power. We are all too quick to dismiss difficult issues by saying, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” We are all too quick to say, “I don’t have time.” When we are faced with an important task which will be difficult or take a long time to accomplish, we don’t even try. And we are morally blind when it comes to the animals we abuse and eat. All these defects are grounded in one overarching defect: We are not aware. We are not conscious. We are sleep walking through life.
This book is dedicated to the wife
whose husband has always been a good date,
and who is probably going to break his date with her
by dying too soon.
To the husband, who is going to break her heart,
by breaking his heart.
DEAR WIFE WITH SOON-TO-BE BROKEN HEART,
He’s a traditional male, helpless in the kitchen and too stodgy to learn to cook for himself. So his diet is in your hands, and thus you are put in an unfair double bind: If you feed him what he wants and he dies early, it will be your fault. If you feed him healthy food that bores him, it will also be your fault.
He loves roast beef, sausage, hamburgers, fried chicken, shrimp casserole, pork chops, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, scrambled eggs, butter, milk, ice cream, French fried potatoes, and other fried foods—all of which contain oils which are solid at body temperature, in his veins and arteries. You have followed the middle-of-the-road advice in popular magazines and have cut his fat intake down to 30 percent of calories, but it hasn’t been enough. His health is headed downhill. And you are worried.
You love your man. But he’s not the man he was when you first met him. He no longer jogs around the car ahead of you to open your door. He’s overweight. His blood pressure is in the red zone. His cholesterol count is out of sight. His doctor is talking about heart bypass surgery, which will cost you or your insurance company $50,000.
His problems are caused by his eating too much cholesterol and saturated fat and not enough green things. But fat is what he loves to eat. You love him and want to make him happy, so you feed him what makes him happy. He knows better, but your food is rich and tasty, and he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by suggesting he does not want to eat it. It’s a deadly feedback loop.
Unfortunately, you are feeding him slow poison. His life will be several years shorter and of much lower quality unless he quits eating cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans-fatty acids. You eat the same way he does, so you are doing the same thing to yourself—like a Hindu wife of ancient India committing suttee, joining her husband on his funeral pyre.
So don’t just worry about it; do something about it. There is a recipe section at the end of this book. Skip to it right now and cook up some delightful, delicious, and delectable plant-based food, food so rich and tasty that he won’t even miss the animal fat.
DEAR HUSBAND WITH HEART SOON-TO-BREAK,
She loves you, man. She loves you even though you have turned into a fat, beer-swigging, football-on-TV-addicted, couch potato who doesn’t take her on long, romantic walks anymore. Admit it: You are not the man you were when you first met her and got her into this marriage, and it’s because of what you eat.
You need to eat better, but you can’t count on your wife to change your diet for you. You are both in an unhealthy catch-22. You have to get involved in the kitchen yourself, cooking low-fat, plant-based food that will protect your heart and arteries.
You have to do it yourself. We men used to go out and defend the tribe. We used to go out gathering and hunting for food. We evolved to take charge in difficult situations. When things are broken we fix them. We love challenges. It’s part of our being men. Well, men, this is one of those difficult situations: We are dying! Take charge!
Go gathering and hunting in the grocery store, the garden, and the kitchen. Bag a bag of green things of all kinds and learn the recipes in this book. If you can figure out how to replace a commode or configure your computer, you can certainly figure out how to whip up a stir-fry with spicy peanut sauce over steamed rice.
You are going to enjoy learning how to cook in a way that will add years to your?life, make you a stronger and leaner person, make you a better lover, bring you great culinary enjoyment, and make you a better friend to the environment. Getting hungry? Skip to the recipe section right now and give it a try. The recipes are so easy to cook that any bachelor or married guy, any teenage or college lad, even any grade school boy can learn them.
This book is also dedicated to you omnivorous moms and dads of the world who now have grown-up children who eat a plant-based diet (that’s no meat, no milk, and no eggs). Your vegan kids are headed over for dinner tonight. Let’s listen in on an anxious conversation you might be having right now:
Mabel: I don’t know what to feed them. There’s nothing I know how to cook that they will eat.
George: How did we ever raise up such finicky kids!
Mabel: Where did we go wrong?
George: They turn up their noses at your southern fried chicken, your shrimp casserole, your baked ham, your New England pot roast, your wonderful omelets. They just don’t appreciate good food.
Mabel: You’re just saying that to make me feel better. I wish I knew how to cook their way. I ought to practice on you. Maybe I could lower your high-blood. You know, they’re probably right. We should cut down on fat.
George: Huh! Cutting down’s not good enough for them. They want us to quit eating animal fat entirely—meat, milk, eggs, fish—the works! They’re extremists.
Well, George and Mabel, this is your lucky day. With this book in hand, you can have a tasty, plant-based meal ready in an hour. The recipes in the back of the book are so easy that even George will be able to cook them. And there’s a bonus: Your ordinarily carnivorous friends will clean their plates and ask for more.
This book is also dedicated to those who eat a plant-based diet.
HEY VEGETABLE HEADS!
You should be ashamed of yourselves. Look at the anxiety you have inflicted on your parents and friends! You are driving over to their house for dinner, and they are worried sick about what to feed you. They are terrified of you making a scene, giving them another one of your boring vegetarian lectures.
Are you going to just show up and sit there and turn up your noses at their food like you did the last time? Do something different.
Plan A: Cook up a big pan of green, plant-based food, and carry it with you. That way you can be sure you will have some plant-based food to eat. That way you will be able to introduce your parents and friends to plant-based food and a green diet.
Plan B: Bag up your broccoli and collards, your cabbage and basil, your brown rice and tofu, your nuts and garlic, your onions and tofu, your egg replacer and flax seed, your rice cooker and your electric wok. Arrive early and cook your plant-based food right in their kitchen. Be the galloping, plant-based gourmet. Let them smell the goods smells of your food cooking. Get them to help you. Leave behind a supply of key ingredients. Educate them through example; don’t lecture them. Cooking together is an opportunity for nonthreatening communication. Give them a copy of this book. It is designed to help your mom and dad convert each other from a high-blood-pressure, fattening diet to a healthy, low-fat, high-taste, zero-cholesterol, plant-based diet. They will eat the food in this book, not because it is cholesterol-free, but because it is exceptionally tasty and satisfying.
This book is also dedicated to all those lonely men out there looking for a goddess to wed.
Someone has said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It’s also a way to a woman’s heart. Men, if you are courting a woman don’t ask her out for dinner, ask her over to cook with you.
We spend a large part of our lives cooking and eating, and men and women cooking together can get to know each other in a nonthreatening way. Women want men who are strong enough to protect them, but they also want men who are sensitive, and a man who cooks is sensitive. Compatibility in the kitchen indicates there might be compatibility in other rooms.
Cooking together sets up opportunities for intimate conversation. A dinner prepared with a friend is always more enjoyable than one prepared and eaten alone.
Women are generally trying to control their weight. Because eating a plant-based diet is good for the waistline, women generally will be open to your plant-based cooking.
This book is dedicated to all the goddesses out there.
Women, don’t presume that we men are not interested in cooking. Most of us men don’t cook simply because our dads didn’t cook, and because our mothers, just like many of you, presumed we wouldn’t be interested.
We men love to eat, and you will find that most of us can become quite handy in the kitchen. Don’t disparage us for our culinary clumsiness. Hand us the veggies and a knife and put us to work. Never say, “Just get out of the kitchen.” Teach us.
WHY STUDY THE HISTORY OF FOOD?
When it comes to eating the contemporary, animal-based, high-fat diet, many people tell me: “That was the way our human and prehuman ancestors ate.” “That was the way people of our tradition or religion ate.” “Our religion explicitly endorses using animals for food.” “The Jews always sacrificed animal and ate them.” “Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes.” “The Buddha allowed the eating of meat if the animal was not killed specifically for the one who ate it.” “It is part of our fundamental human nature to eat meat.”
To varying extents, and depending on the religion or tradition you come from, these assumptions are false, as I will demonstrate below. But even if these assumptions were true, they must be tempered by the fact that we humans have made profound changes to the physical environment. The human population has grown from a few hundred or a few thousand around 74,000 years ago to ten million around 12,000 years ago (estimates vary) to 6.6 billion in 2007. There will be 9.0 billion of us by the year 2050.
Times have changed in other ways: Until the early 1900s and even up until after the end of World War II, animal-based foods were a smaller part of the typical diet. Before refrigeration, it was not easy to eat milk or meat on a daily basis. Before it became the custom to fatten animals on grain, they were typically only around three percent fat. Hunted animals are very low in fat. Grain-fattened animals are now typically 40 percent fat. Before the rise of the factory farm industry, right after World War II, food animals ate organic grass in open pastures, drank pure water, were largely free of disease. They were sometimes killed in more humane ways. Today’s factory farm animals are fed unhealthy feed, are cancer-ridden, are marbled with fat, endure months of ghoulish captivity, and are killed in terrifying and painful ways.
Moreover, there is a strong tradition that for thousands of years, various groups and individuals have opposed using animals for food. The indigenous Dravidian or Shramana people of India claim they ate a vegetarian diet from time immemorial. There were those in the early literate period of our history who actively opposed the eating of meat. Plato opposed it for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Others opposed it for ethical or religious reasons, including Pythagoras, the Buddha, and the Hebrew authors who wrote the earliest strata of Genesis and the Talmud. The Brahman Hindus, the Essenes, and the Judeo-Christians, all of which are discussed below, also opposed eating meat.
THE HISTORY OF DIET, A TUNNEL BACK INTO TIME
Foodways is the study of the “cultural, social and economic practices relating to the production and consumption of food.” It includes a historical dimension and is a tool for penetrating back into the past. Dietary patterns change slowly. Invasions bring new food customs. A study of what our ancestors ate can reveal some things not written down, identify connections not otherwise apparent, and sometimes can penetrate much further into the past than written history. Historians learn what people ate through a study of the writings of the oldest cultures. Archaeologists look at buried kitchens, pottery, grind marks on teeth and knives, and garbage dumps—known as middens or bone piles.
THEOLOGY AS A TOOL FOR DOING HISTORICAL ANALYSIS
Religion has often been an oppressive force, and in reaction, some want to avoid the subject entirely. This is a serious intellectual error, for to do so leaves gaping holes in both historical and ethical analysis. I have not hesitated to introduce religious discussion where it is relevant to my inquiry into the history and ethics of diet.
I ask the reader to regard my use of theological analysis as a tool for historical and ethical analysis and not as an attempt to prove the truth of any particular theology.
I should clarify the difference between religion and ethics: The term “religion” derives from the root “to bind.” Religion is what one is bound or required to believe and to perform as ritual in order to be pleasing to god and to those who consider themselves to be god’s authorized representatives on earth. By this standard, I am not religious at all.
Ethics, on the other hand, is how one ought to behave. Religion makes requirements; ethics makes suggestions. Religion is generally inflexible and resistant to change. Ethics is more flexible and continually evolving. Ethics is right behavior as judged by any reasonable standard. Ultimately it derives from aesthetics: What is beautiful is what is right. One can be a deeply ethical person and even a deeply spiritual person without being a religious person, and this is the way I think of myself. I revere, study, and follow various religious leaders of history because of what they said about how we should behave, not because of any religious beliefs they taught.
Until the 19th Century almost everyone was religious, and almost all fields of study were intertwined with religion. There was little discussion of ethics outside the context of religion. Most although not all philosophy was religious. For these reasons almost all history has been religious history and almost all ethical analysis has been religious ethical analysis.
Three hundred years is the blink of an eye in history. Only 300 years ago, we were burning witches in Massachusetts, and one could be jailed in Virginia for being a heretic. Even today, it can sometimes be disadvantageous to one’s career not to appear religious. For example, it would be difficult for a Moslem, Hindu, or Jew to be elected to the United States presidency, and impossible for an admitted atheist.
A meteor struck the earth around 65 million years ago, wiping out most dinosaurs, and making possible the rise of mammals. Our direct post-reptilian, early mammalian ancestor was a shrew-like animal that ate vegetable matter and insects. Primates arose around 40 million years ago, monkeys around 36 million years ago, apes around 25 million years ago, gibbons around 10 million years ago, orangutans around 8 million years ago, gorillas around 7 million years ago, and chimpanzees around 6 million years ago.
Sometime around 6 million years ago, Lucy made her appearance, formally known as Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy is apparently the earliest upright walking hominid from which we humans are descended. Lucy did not use tools or fire. Australopithecus africanus followed around 3 million years ago.
Homo habilis appeared around 2.5 million years ago. Homo habilis is the first species which is agreed to be “man.” Homo habilis people stood upright and had bigger brains than their predecessors. They were called “habilis” because they were “handy.” They were the first of our line to make tools out of stone and bone, including chipped stones for cutting.
Homo habilis families were gatherers who ate fruit, seeds, and insects. Some archaeologists suggest—because they were only three to four feet tall—that they did not hunt large animals but ate insects and scavenged the carcasses killed by other animals, driving away the other animals, and using chipped stones as tools to cut off meat. When they hunted, it was probably for smaller animals. They fished. Analysis of skull remains indicates their brains had a Broca’s area, which indicates they probably had some language abilities. They stood upright, but their arms were long, their legs short, and their toes long and curled, meaning they still spent at least some of their time in the trees. (Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, p. 34-38; Marvin Harris, Our Kind, p. 22 f., 44 ff.)
Homo habilis families did not know how to make fire, so they huddled together at nights in the cold and dark. Without fire, they were subject to being attacked by predators. Being cold evokes feelings of boredom and misery. Being cold makes it difficult to laugh and be happy. Homo habilis families endured millions of years of cold nights and winters. They had no light at night other than the moon, and they went to sleep when the sun went down.
THE AQUATIC APE THEORY
Australopithecus afarensis, our ancestor, nicknamed Lucy, was the first ape to stand up, around 6 million years ago. The mystery is why she stood up. Lucy did not stand up so she could walk between the groves of trees on a drying savannah—the “savanna theory” or the “mosaic theory”—because Africa was still covered by almost continuous forests when Lucy appeared. She was walking long before Africa dried up. Nor did Lucy stand up so she could have hands free to use tools, because Lucy did not use tools. Lucy stood up long before her descendant, Homo habilis, later started using tools.
According to the Aquatic Ape Theory, AAT, Lucy moved from the trees to a life that was partly aquatic. The Rift Valley and other areas of Eastern Africa where Lucy lived were inundated at times. Food, both plants and fish, was abundant in such an environment. Standing does have an advantage for a primate spending a significant part of her time wading in deep water.
Why did we become relatively hairless? Relative hairlessness has no advantages on the savannah, where the sun burns exposed skin, but it is advantageous in water, and most mammals which have returned to the water, including some which have largely left the water for the land, are relatively hairless—the whale, dolphin, walrus, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant, pig, and the tapir. Fir covered seals and otters are exceptions to the rule.
Why do we shed tears copiously, unlike all our primate relatives? Weeping is useful in eliminating salt water from the eyes. Why do we urinate more than all other land mammals? Why do we sweat copiously, unlike all our ape relatives? All these are traits which are disadvantageous out on the savannah but advantageous in water.
Why do we have a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, unlike all our primate relatives? All mammals which returned to the water or which spend or spent a lot of time in the water have a thick layer of fat. It insulates them against the relatively cold water and helps them float. Human babies have even more fat that adults, and it helped Lucy’s babies float.
Why are babies born with the instinct to hold their breath under water? Perhaps because Lucy’s children were born under water. Why are we humans the only primates with the ability to control our breathing and hold our breath when we wish? For all other primates, breathing is as automatic as the beating of the heart. Lucy was able to hold her breath so she could dive underwater. This ability consciously to control breathing allowed Lucy’s descendants to evolve speech. We are the only primate with a descended larynx, which is a disadvantage in that we sometimes choke while eating or drinking and cannot easily breathe and drink at the same time. However, a descended larynx made possible the evolution of speech. Note that the larynx is not descended at birth and that infants are more capable than adults of breathing and drinking at the same time and less capable of speech. According to AAT Lucy evolved such traits because they were advantageous to an aquatic ape. Humans retain the adaptations which Lucy evolved.
Why are we relatively hairless compared with all the other hominids? Because a coat of hair would not have been advantageous in water. Why does the light hair coat we do have orient itself in the direction in which water would flow over a swimming body? Because we had an aquatic past.
Why do we, alone among all the hominids, have nostrils that point downwards? This orientation would be advantageous for diving into water. Why do humans, alone among all species have a philtrum, the dimple in the center of the upper lip? In a significant percentage of humans, the two ridges on either side of the philtrum fit neatly into the nostrils when the lips are pursed. This seals the nostrils closed, something that would have been advantageous to an aquatic mammal. We can presume that all of Lucy’s kin could seal their nostrils closed as they swam or dived. As we ceased to spend much time in the water, this ability no longer exerted selective evolutionary pressure, so most of us lost this trait.
The traditional theory that we stood up and walked in order to move between groves of trees on a savanna that was drying up no longer makes sense. Why would early humans have lived on a harsh savanna when there were such better alternatives? Although AAT remains to be proved, it makes much more sense than the savannah theory.
Lakes, rivers, and river deltas were rich in fish and a very easy habitat for Lucy to earn her daily fare. This would tend to negate the naive theory that our distant ancestors were once strict vegetarians. On the other hand, the semi-aquatic proboscis monkey of Borneo is a fruit and leaf eating vegetarian. (www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/factsheets/nasalis_larvatus.html.)
Bear in mind also, that if AAT is true, and even if Lucy were a big fish eater, it does not follow that she stopped eating fruit, nuts, and greens. Lucy continued to live part of her life on land and probably in and under the trees, and water is rich in plants as well as fish. (Elaine Morgan, The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis; Dennis Montgomery, Aquatic Man and African Eve: A Search for the Origins and Evolution of Humankind in Africa, www.Sondela.co.uk.)
I have brought up the Aquatic Ape Theory for two reasons: First, I introduce it in order to give a fuller picture of how our diet evolved. Second, I bring it up to illustrate just how stubborn and conventional academics can be at times. While AAT has not been proven conclusively, it answers more questions and makes much more sense than the orthodox “savanna” or “mosaic” theories.
FIRE AND HEARTH?
Homo ergaster in Africa—probably an ancestor of modern man—along with Ergaster’s descendant Homo erectus in Asia—probably not an ancestor of man—learned how to manage fire around 1.5 million years ago, one of the most significant developments in human history. Early Homo probably only safeguarded and transported naturally occurring fire at first, and probably only later, around 400,000 years ago, learned how to make fire. These prehuman families had light and warmth. At night they sat around campfires in the open or in a cave or other shelter. They were able to leave a fire burning and, for the first time, sleep at night in complete security, for all their predators feared fire. We became fearless of other animals. Having control of fire, we developed the art of cooking. Homo ergaster people were of almost our stature and brain size.
Homo sapiens emerged around 300,000 years ago, and the Homo sapiens we know as Neanderthal man emerged around 75,000 years ago. Neanderthal people had bigger brains than we have today and were taller and heavier. They were the first humans to bury their dead, and so we presume they had ideas about life after death and thus were religious. (John Pfeiffer, The Emergence of Society, p. 54.)
POPULATION CRASH—74,000 YEARS AGO
A super volcano on Sumatra exploded around 74,000 years ago, creating a caldera known today as Lake Toba, pumping 100,000 times as much ash and dust into the atmosphere as the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980, and lowering world temperatures around 5 degrees Centigrade. Earth entered one of its coldest and driest Ice Ages. There was a great die off of the human population, reducing our numbers to perhaps a few thousand or even a few hundred. Research into the evolution of mitochondrial DNA, which is passed along only from mother to child, and which mutates at a steady rate, along with research into evolution of the “Y” chromosome, which is passed along predominantly from father to child, indicates that all of us are descended from a handful of women around 74,000 years ago. (A small part of the “Y” chromosome does conjugate.) World population of humans could have been quite large before this cataclysm, however, our species started over again from nearly zero at that point.
The generally accepted theory is that Homo sapiens came out of Africa around 75,000 years ago, migrated from Africa, and replaced all human species which had previous left Africa. Cro-Magnon people arrived in Europe around 45,000 years ago. They either displaced the Neanderthal people, or the Neanderthals simply died out. There was no interbreeding between the two subspecies. (Nicholas Wade, “Neanderthal DNA Sheds New Light on Human Origins,” New York Times, July 11, 1997, p. 1.) However, this is disputed. Dressed in today’s clothes, either Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon would be able to blend in on today’s streets. These almost-modern humans invented the bow and arrow around 30,000 years ago. Cave paintings in what is now Spain and France date from around 15,000 years ago.
When early humans hunted, they occasional had feasts that included meat, but for the most part they prospered on a diet of seeds, fruit, nuts, roots, herbs, and insects. I am talking about what humans in tropical and temperate areas ate, not what dwellers in the Arctic ate. We can study them by digging through their dumps, referred to by anthropologists as bone piles or middens, by looking at their teeth, which show the wear marks that come from eating gritty, raw vegetables, and by looking at modern day gather-hunter societies such as the !Kung San Bushmen of southern Africa.
Generally we read of pre-agricultural humans being hunter-gatherers. It is more appropriate to call them gatherer-hunters. One scholar estimates that 75 to 80 percent of their diet was plant-based, which is true of the !Kung today. Those who gathered and hunted lived long lives—once they had survived childhood diseases. They were healthier and worked fewer hours to obtain food and shelter than we do now. Today’s Bushmen work only a few hours each day, and even in times of drought have plenty to eat.
Thomas Hobbes said Stone Age humans lived lives that were “short, nasty and brutish.” He could not have been more wrong. Sahlins refers to this era as the “original affluent society.” Perhaps vague memories of the gatherer-hunter era were the source of legends about the Garden of Eden, Genesis, and the Golden Age of Pythagoras and Plato. (Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics, p. 1; Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horsemen, p. 25 ff.; Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, p. 15 ff.; Mark Nathan Cohen, Health and the Rise of Civilization, cited by Jim Mason, An Unnatural Order, p. 58 ff.)
THE FIRST AGRICULTURE—GROWING TREES
Most think of growing grains when they think of the first agriculture. However, Henry Bailey Stevens (The Recovery of Culture, 1949) believed we farmed trees long before we farmed anything else. He points out that for the last 60 million years, primates, which includes anthropoids (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans) and prosimians (such as lemurs), lived most of their time in the trees, eating fruit and nuts. As we descended to the ground, we would have been unlikely to forget this source of food. Perhaps this is why the tree or grove or ba’al was worshiped or was the symbol or place of worship. (Sir James Frances, The Golden Bough.)
While we were in the trees, hard seeds were just things to toss aside and let drop to the ground. But once we descended to the ground, we learned that seeds could be planted and grow into new trees. Edible seeds could be stored for later consumption. Hand axes go back a half million years, and we may have been farming trees for that long. No plowing was necessary, just planting seeds, and maybe a little weeding and mulching. There are wild strawberries, raspberries, and breadfruit, but they are small and tasteless. We saved and crossed cultivars, producing nuts and fruits which were bigger and tastier. Some species became dependent on us for propagation: Banana and pineapple no longer seed themselves naturally.
The image of Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens surviving by spearing large animals is so common because most anthropologists have been from northern Europe. However, most of primate, anthropoid, and human evolution took place in Africa. Modern humans moved out of Africa and into the Middle East and southern Asia, hugging southern coastlines, around 74,000 years ago. They could have survived in such tropical and temperate regions on fruits, nuts, and root crops. They stayed closed to the sea and would have eaten fish, not mastodons. Our Cro-Magnon ancestors didn’t even enter Europe until around 45,000 years ago; humans who had been in Europe and Asia before the Toba eruption died out. Humans didn’t necessarily have to go out and spear large animals for dinner until one branch of our family which happened to be in Europe got trapped there during the last Ice Age.
What did we farm? All the fruits we eat today. We farmed nut trees, including acorns, pecans, walnuts, and chestnuts. Europeans and North American Indians used acorns and chestnuts as flour to make bread. American Indians—from California, through the Great Basin, and into Texas—harvested vast amounts of piñon tree nuts, commonly known as pine nuts. Unfortunately, cattle ranchers believed the piñon interfered with grazing and cut down and burned as many as they could, which was an environmental disaster for the arid West. The piñon can produce several hundred times as much food and profit per acre as dry land cattle ranching. (Henry Bailey Stevens, Charles Francis Saunders, Useful Wild Plants Of The United States And Canada,1920. http://www.swsbm.com/ManualsOther/UsefulPlants/Useful_Plants.html.)
AN OVERVIEW OF AGES, EPOCHS, AND IMPORTANT EVENTS
Written history begins with Summer and Egypt. However, history in a broader sense is much older. I will give you a brief orientation:
The epochs—Pleistocene and Holocene—are geological. The Ice Ages should be called Ice Epochs. The ages—Stone, Copper, Bronze, Iron—are anthropological.
The last Ice Age Epoch began around 2.5 million years ago. It is called the Pleistocene. At about the same time the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age (an anthropological term) was beginning, and Homo Habilis began breaking flint to make crude hand-held cutting stones. The bow and arrow and stone axes appeared around 30,000 years ago, which made it possible for humans to hunt large animals.
Things were at their coldest around 70,000 years ago, probably because of the Toba eruption, warmed up somewhat starting around 60,000 years ago but got cold again around 25,000 years ago. The last Ice Age epoch began to end rapidly around 14,500 years ago, and by 13,500 years ago, temperatures were as warm as today. There was one more cold spell, but by 11,500 years ago or 9500 B.C.E. temperatures were much like those of today. It took several thousand years for glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise.
The end of the last Ice Age Epoch marks the end of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age and the beginning of the Neolithic or New Stone Age. The Pleistocene or Ice Age Epoch was ending and the Holocene Epoch was beginning—our time. Modern humans developed more advanced, polished stone tools and expanded their experiments in growing plants and domesticating animals. There was a pluvial period at the end of the last Ice Age, an extremely rainy time when glaciers melted and sea levels rose around 400 feet to current levels, dramatically reducing the area of coastal plains. This forced ancient humans to leave old coastal lowlands and retreat to higher coastal areas where most of us live today. The Sahara, Arabia, and other deserts in the temperate zone were lush and heavily populated, but dried out after 5000 B.C.E. (www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc130k.html.)
Horses were broken for riding around 5500 B.C.E., and the wheel was invented around 3300 B.C.E., making wagons and chariots possible. The plow was invented around the same time. The Bronze Age began around 3000 B.C.E. in the Caucasus and eastern Europe with the making of copper and then copper-arsenic and copper-tin tools and weapons. The Iron Age began in eastern Europe and the Near East around 1000 B.C.E. The dividing line between the ages is not fixed, because tools and metals were developed at different times in different places.
THE FIRST INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION—GROWING GRAIN
The gatherer-hunter Natufians lived in what today is Lebanon and Israel. They gathered a wide variety of fruits, nuts, herbs, and roots. They hunted wild gazelle, but they did not herd animals and at first they did not cultivate the plants they gathered. Around 12,500 years ago, they began to harvest wild grain. Over the next 2,000 years they gradually learned to weed out competing plants. They learned to save some of the grain and spread it in favorable locations in the Spring.
Before cultivation, the grain had a loose head, and seeds fell out easily, which made survival of that species more likely. However, as the Natufians took over the process of harvesting, saving, and planting seed grain, it was the grain that had the firmest head that was the easiest for them to harvest and save and replant. This trait was thus reinforced, and so grain with the rigid head came to predominate. Such grains became dependent on humans for their propagation and survival. With the crossing of various strains, there were complex genetic changes—from 14 to 28 to 42 chromosomes—and the result was the wheat we know today. The Natufians came to depend on the wheat, and the wheat came to depend on the Natufians.
By 10,000 years ago, Natufians had established one of the world’s very oldest cities, Jericho, and in its ruins is found grain with a firm head. During this time they continued to hunt gazelle, but they did not herd animals or keep them in barnyards. We know this because there are no bones of domesticated animals in their bone piles. All the bones found are those of wild animals such as gazelle. Gazelle are best left in a semi-wild state, because male gazelles resist domestication and will gore humans. The Natufians were plant agriculturalists but not animal agriculturalists. In other areas, however, cattle were domesticated and milked as early as 11,000 years ago.
By not herding animals, the Natufians and other pre-herding cultures interfered far less with the natural ecology than the herding cultures which would soon spread throughout the world.
More food could be grown in agricultural settlements, and so more children survived and grew up and wandered off to establish new agricultural settlements. The countryside began to fill up. The next stage in population explosion was under way. Game animals were exterminated in many farming areas. Hunters had to travel further from cultivated areas to do their hunting. In many areas hunting ceased altogether. (Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, p. 55-58; “Livestock and Poultry Farming,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1979 ed., p. 1279 ff.)
Jericho was atypical in that it had 12-foot high walls around it as early as 10,000 years ago. Apparently it had been attacked by someone. However, “… there is no evidence of any other fortified sites in the Near East, at this time or thereafter, until around 5500 B.C.E. Nor would there be other clear signs of organized violence much before this date.” (Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, p. 60.)
The rise of animal husbandry was a natural outgrowth of plant husbandry, because the grain the Natufians tended attracted sheep, goats, and pigs. The bones of wild animals such as gazelle are found in the lowest strata, with the bones of domesticated animals in upper and more recent strata. Humans and animals competed for the grain. Sometimes the humans got there first and harvested most of it. The stubble that was left was still enough to attract grazing animals. Gradually, people learned to build fences and to protect, feed, milk, shear, and eat domesticated animals. Pigs served a sanitary and disease control function by eating every piece of feces they could find. Dogs, domesticated around 12,000 years ago, provided protection for humans and other animals and assisted in hunting and herding. (Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, p. 29; Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, p. 63.)
Some archaeologists suggest that humans were animal agriculturalists before they were plant agriculturalists, that they herded animals or at least followed, managed, milked, and harvested animals before they settled down and cultivated fields. Perhaps the humans followed the animals to the wild stands of grain and in a way were led to get involved in plant agriculture by the animals.
Turning briefly to Central America, we find a different sequence of events: There the effects of the change in the climate after the end of the last Ice Age, along with over-hunting by humans combined to exterminate the large animals that had survived in the Eastern Hemisphere. There were no horses, cattle, or pigs in the Western Hemisphere. Mountain sheep and goats were far from civilization centers and were not domesticated in pre-Columbian times. Thus, there were no large, stubble-eating species that crops would attract. There were deer and antelope, and in North America there were bison, but they were impossible to domesticate. So in Central America people cultivated food crops for thousands of years before they built cities, all the while staying on the move to hunt small animals and forage for edible plants. In the Old World, plant and animal agriculture arose concurrently with the rise of cities, whereas in the New World, there was no animal agriculture, and plant agriculture long preceded the rise of cities.
Eventually, Central Americans domesticated and ate turkeys and dogs, but these animals do not thrive on stubble as do cattle, sheep, and goats. Some Central American tribes descended into cannibalism on a massive scale, slaughtering thousands of captured foreigners daily. Anthropologists speculate this resulted from the lack of large animals and the resulting scarcity of meat. (Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, p. 36-41.) Perhaps they craved essential fatty acids and were unaware of flax, hemp, chia, or kukui as alternative sources. One wonders why fish would not have sufficed.
North American Indians cultivated a wide range of plant crops, including corn, squash, and beans, referred to as the “three sisters.” They dried large quantities of berries for winter consumption. They collected and stored nuts in the same way. They too were gatherer-hunters, not hunter-gatherers. Later they were farmer-hunters, but never herders. When invading pioneers passed through their territory, Indians were infuriated that white men would be so crude as to allow their cattle and oxen to trample Indian crops.
In South America the Inca and their ancestors domesticated the llama, vicuña, and the alpaca, relatives of the camel, and used them for their wool and as food. With the domestication of these animals, the Inca replaced human sacrifice with animal sacrifice. However, llamas and their kin could not be milked, and they were too small to carry big loads. They were of no use as plow animals or for warfare. Until the coming of the Spanish, no indigenous pastoral (herder) culture developed in the Americas that was comparable to the cattle culture of the Eastern Hemisphere. The Inca and their ancestors also domesticated and ate guinea pigs,—the cuy, plural cuyes—keeping them in their homes as scavengers. The Incas were excellent plant agriculturalists, growing quinoa, amaranth, squash, peppers, corn, sweet potatoes, and many varieties of potatoes. The wheel was known to pre-Columbian Indians in South America but used only in toys. (Marvin Harris, Our Kind, p. 488 ff.; Cannibals and Kings, p. 187 ff.; Jim Mason, A Unnatural Order, p. 159; John E. Pfeiffer, The Emergence of Society, p. 382 ff.)
OLD EUROPE, BEFORE 4300 B.C.E., A PARADIGM OF PARTNERSHIP
In Old Europe there were towns of up to 10,000 people. There were paved streets, small, two-story temples, and five-room homes with plaster floors and walls. There were beautiful frescos on the walls, vases and sculpture, shops where jewelry was produced and sold. Some homes were somewhat larger than others, but the larger homes were not set apart from the others. Towns had no palaces. This all would indicate there was no wealthy, dominant class. These cities had no perimeter walls. Where there is no war, there is no reason to build walls. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. x, 326, 396.)
According to Gimbutas:
The absence of weapons of war and hill forts over two millennia, from c. 6500-4500 B.C.E. argues for an absence of territorial aggression. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 331.)
Graves in Old Europe contain male and female remains. They were buried with beads, arm rings, stone tools, scrapers, arrowheads, grinding stones, jewelry, and flint tools for woodworking. There were graves of prominent women as well as prominent men. All this contrasts with graves found after the Aryan invasions, in which prominent males had big graves and women were buried only as consorts of males, perhaps killed or required to commit suicide to accompany the males into the afterlife. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 331-341.)
Some societies in Old Europe had a written language, which appears on their pottery and in the frescos on their walls. It has not been translated, and it is unlikely it ever will be. The Aryan conquerors were illiterate and so would have created no Old European version of the Rosetta Stone.
At the time in which this script was in use, east-central Europeans enjoyed metallurgic industry, a high degree of architectural sophistication, extensive trade relations, a remarkable sophistication and specialization in the craftsmanship of goods, and an increasingly elaborate and articulated system of religious thought and practice. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 309.)
Gimbutas summarizes what ancient writers remembered about Old Europe, some 4,000 years after its destruction:
… [T]he sources from Herodotus in the 5th century B.C.E. to Strabo in the 1st century C.E. speak of 1) matrilineal structure, inheritance in the female line, successor of the throne in the female line (queenship passed from mother to daughter); 2) endogamy [marrying within the tribe], matrilocal marriage and group marriage combined with common ownership; 3) metronymy (naming through the mother, father not recognized); 4) importance of the queen’s brother, no husband (only a consort); 5) the general high status of women, particularly in Minoan and Etruscan societies. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 349. Comments in parenthesis are those of Gimbutas. Those in square brackets are mine.)
In matrilocal marriage the new son-in-law became part of the household of the mother-in-law. Probably women had developed farming while men were out gathering and hunting, and so property was owned and inherited by women and their daughters.
Infanticide, cult prostitution, and child sacrifice were practiced by some of the goddess-worshiping cultures in the First Millennium, B.C.E., however, by this late date, these societies had endured more than 3,000 years of patriarchal domination. One should not presume that such behaviors were part of the goddess religions before the patriarchs took them over. The Aryan invaders had themselves practiced human and child sacrifice and sex slavery and had probably introduced these vices. (Rian Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, p. 49.)
Old Testament writers of the Sixth Century, B.C.E., condemned the sacrificing of children to Molech. The Hebrews had specifically rejected child sacrifice. (Genesis 22; Leviticus 18:21.) Molech was presumably a male god, since the word is a variant of the word melek, that is, king. The Hebrews also condemned the male and female temple prostitution practiced by the tribes that worshiped Ba’al, a male god, and his consort Asherah. (1 Kings 15:13, 18:19; 2 Kings 23:4-7; Judges 3:7; “Biblical Literature,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, 1979 ed., p. 908.) The chief god was the father-god El, while Ba’al and Asherah were the chief, active male and female gods. (John Bright, A History of Israel, p. 108, 220.) There were goddesses such as these in whose name such reprehensible things were done. However, these again were religions where the goddess had long been subordinated by the patriarchs.
According to Gimbutas:
The earliest civilizations of the world—in China, Tibet, Egypt, the Near East, and Europe—were, in all probability, matristic “Goddess civilizations.” Since agriculture was developed by women, the Neolithic period created optimum conditions for the survival of matrilineal, endogamous systems inherited from Paleolithic times. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 324.)
The people of Old Europe were not matriarchal in the sense that current society has been patriarchal for the last 6,000 years. Instead they were matristic, meaning “mother-centered.” Anthropologist Riane Eisler (Chalice and the Blade) and Marija Gimbutas (The Civilization of the Goddess and The Language of the Goddess) say the paradigm of Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. was one of partnership as opposed to domination. Men and women were more or less equal. Cities were ruled usually by queens but sometimes by kings.
European Catholics make a feast of herbs, flowers, and grain on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the celebration of her ascent into heaven. This feast is a continuation of the primary feast day of the earth mother. The color black was good because it symbolized the productivity of the soil. The color white was bad, because it symbolized bones and death. In certain European cultures, goddess themes survived—for example, in Lithuania, which was not Christianized until the 1400s–, and so we know that the earth mother stood for law and justice:
The Earth is also Justice, social conscience, as represented by the Greek Themis, Russian Matushka Zemlja and Lithuanian Zemyna. The wide distribution of this idea points to its roots in prehistory. For centuries, Slavic peasants settled legal disputes relating to landed property by calling on the Earth as a witness… . The Earth Mother listens to appeals, settles problems, and punishes all who deceive her or are disrespectful to her. She does not tolerate thieves, liars, or vain and proud people. (Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, p. 159.)
Contrast this with the Indo-Europeans who glorified the stealing of cattle and land as a religious obligation.
In Old Europe one of the names of the deity was Diana or Dinah. The Don, the Danube, the Dnieper, and the Dniester were named after her, as was London. (Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman; Elizabeth Gould Davis, The First Sex, 54.)
The people of Old Europe spoke non-Indo-European languages. The Aryans had not yet left the Caucasus to impose their Indo-European language on the rest of the world. Iran derives its name from the Aryans. Celtic is an Indo-European language. The non-Indo-European Etruscan language survived into Roman times. The non-Indo-European Basque language survives to our day in Spain and France. Some matristic customs survive among the Basques such as partaking of the sacred bread. The goddess had been patron of the grain harvest. This custom exists in competition with the Christian eucharist. However, most matristic aspects of Basque society disappeared when Napoleon imposed his legal code in the Basque region. (Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, p. 110, 147.)
The people of Old Europe were farmers, gathers, hunters, and fisher folk, but they did not keep horses, or large herds of cattle. They made flour out of abundant, high-protein acorns and chestnuts. Excavations of their settlements uncovered remains of fishing equipment, and the bones of deer, aurochs, sheep, goats, cattle, and other animals. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 26-27; Henry Bailey Stevens, The Recovery of Culture, p. 90.)
According to the archaeological evidence, then, the goddess people of Old Europe were not vegetarians. Nevertheless, according to Riane Eisler meat constituted a relatively small part of their diet, an occasional addition to a diet that was primarily grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruit, in contrast with the diet of the Aryan invaders whose diet was meat-centered. The cultivation of land dropped off markedly after the Aryan invasions and pasturage increased. (The Chalice and the Blade—Our History, Our Future, p. 68.)
Among the matristic tribes, there may have been some which were vegetarian. Pythagoras (569-470 B.C.E.) as quoted by Ovid (43 B.C.E.-17 C.E.), Metamorphoses, XV, line 96 ff.) referred to the people of the Golden Age and said they ate a diet free of flesh food. Perhaps some of the goddess-worshiping tribes were the vegetarians referred to by Pythagoras and Plato. (Great Dialogues of Plato, p. 165 ff. See the section of this book entitled Socrates and Plato, p. 72.)
The favorite meal in Pythagoras’ day was the acorn-stuffed cabbage roll, one that probably went back to goddess times. (Lucretius, V, 692, 1414; Horace, Satires, I, 3, 100; Virgil, Georgics, I, 148; all cited in Rynn Berry’s, Famous Vegetarians and their Favorite Recipes, p. 7.)
OUT ON THE STEPPES: THE HORSE, THE COMPOSITE BOW
The sea level rose some 400 feet following the end of the last ice age. Coast dwellers had to move inland to new coastlines, and they may have driven herders further inland as they advanced, creating hatreds. Perhaps the shepherds remembered this insult and later incorporated it into their mythology, which was filled with contempt for farmer folk and which was perhaps relied on later to justify attacks on them.
Due to the expansion of crop agriculture, herders had to lead grazing animals out ever farther. Gradually, many of these shepherds became independent of settled communities. They became different people with values oriented towards herding, not plant agriculture.
After the end of the last Ice Age, shepherds moved north and east, out onto the steppes with its endless sea of grass. The herding of cattle, sheep, goats, and later horses and camels became their major source of food and fiber. However, even the herders engaged in some planting and plant gathering. We would refer to them as semi-pastoral. Even the Eskimo eat the tiny plants that grow in the Arctic in Summer. Hunters in high latitudes often eat the vegetable contents of the stomachs of the grazing animals they kill.
With the help of dogs, shepherds on foot can herd sheep, goats, and even cattle. Horses are different; humans on foot cannot keep up with them. To herd horses, one must ride horses. Some time around 5500 B.C.E., it occurred to some tribesman out on the steppes, somewhere near where Kiev is today, to mount and break a horse for riding. The horse turned out to be an all-purpose animal, good for eating, milking, leather, as a pack animal, for riding, and later as a draft animal for pulling carts and plows. And it was the perfect vehicle for making war. Mounted warriors, each with a string of five mares, could milk and bleed them and live exclusively on this food while on the war path, covering 100 miles per day.
Which came first? The cart or the horse? Some anthropologists say we first used the horse to draw carts; others say that in a leap of faith, someone trained a colt to tolerate a rider. The latter is probably correct. Studies of the teeth of horses found in what is now the Ukraine show that by 4200 B.C.E. horses wore bits and therefore must have been ridden. (David Anthony, Dimitri Y. Telegin, and Dorcas Brown, “The Origin of Horseback Riding,” Scientific American, December, 1991, 365:6, p. 94-100; David W. Anthony and Dorcas R. Brown, “The Origins of Horseback Riding,” Antiquity, 1991, ?Vol. 65, p. 246 ff.) The use of the horse to pull carts could not have come first, because the wheel was not invented until around 3500 to 3300 B.C.E. On the other hand, from around 5000 B.C.E., reindeer had been used in the Arctic to drag sleds. Perhaps horses were used to drag sleds before there were wheels. Further south, animals were first used for traction starting around 3500 B.C.E. The plow was invented around that time, and stronger but slower oxen (neutered bulls) were used instead of horses to pull plows and wagons. Unless wheels are attached to plows, horses can be used for plowing only where soils are light. The North American pioneers invaded the American West in wagons pulled by oxen which were low on speed but high on strength and endurance. (Robert L. O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, 72; “Wheel,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1979 ed., Micropaedia, Vol. X, p. 643, “Draft Animals,” Vol. 5, Macropaedia, p. 970 ff.; Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 353 ff.)
Humans attached axe head to handle around 30,000 years ago, and invented the bow and arrow around the same time. At first bows were made solely of wood; the best were made of yew: It’s heartwood has strength and resists breaking; it’s external sapwood has flexibility and resists splitting. Out on the steppes there was no yew, and bows, made of inferior woods, had to be long and heavy. They were too big to use from horseback. So it was almost certainly out on the steppes that the composite bow was developed. “[T]he wood strip bears the principal shearing stress in the bent limb; the horn bears the compression, and the sinew layer the tension.” It was an enormously powerful weapon and light enough to be used from horseback. (Robert O’Connell, Ride of the Second Horseman, p. 79.; “Ax,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1979 ed., Macropaedia, Vol. 1, p. 688; “Archery,” Ibid., Vol. 1, Macropaedia, p. 1082 ff.)
The steppe pastoralists, long before the bronze age, developed “[d]aggers… of flint and bone, some as long as 56 cm, which were truly formidable weapons. Flint or quartzite blades were set into shafts of bone on two sides.” (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 354.)
With the development of carts, the tribes of the steppes spread out over the entire length of Asia, all the way to China. With the domestication of the camel around 3000 B.C.E., even the deserts of central Asia were inhabited or at least contested by one tribe or another. When droughts were severe, sheep and goats would die first, then cattle, and then horses. Pastoral tribes on horseback would be forced to move, to greener pastures.
An obvious problem arose as soon as the migrants reached the greener pastures: They were already occupied by some other tribe. Only a limited number of animals can graze on semiarid lands. Conflict was inevitable. One tribe would win and confiscate as many of the loser’s animals as possible. The defeated tribe would retreat with its few remaining animals, searching for other pastures to the south or west—into the Fertile Crescent and southeastern Europe.
Thus, it was around 5500 B.C.E. that Semitic, patriarchal shepherds on horseback invaded the Old Near East, forcing the walling of cities and initiating an era of generalized warfare. A similar Indo-European, Aryan patriarchal invasion reached southeastern Europe around 4300 B.C.E. What I will say below about Old Europe—which means Europe before the invasions of the Aryan patriarchs—will apply generally to the Old Near East, except that the transition occurred around a thousand years earlier in the Old Near East than in Old Europe.
By 5000 to 4000 B.C.E., North Africa, southern Europe, the Near East, and much of Asia were becoming much drier. The Sahara Forest and the Sahara Savanna, with their lakes and rivers, became the Sahara Desert, a process that was possibly hastened by animal herding.
INVASIONS OF THE COWBOYS, A PARADIGM OF DOMINATION
One summer evening around 4300 B.C.E., in a town in Old Europe, in what is now Romania, men and women were sitting at a sidewalk cafe enjoying dinner and conversation. The sky was clear, but there was an odd, low rumble, like thunder in the distance. It grew louder and louder, like a stampede of wild aurochs. Into town suddenly rode hundreds of cowboys on horseback. They were Kurgans from southern Russia, all men, dressed in leather and skins. Some were armed with bows and arrows, some with flint sabers. There was fear in every heart. There was no communicating with these men. Their language was completely different.
The Kurgans entered the jewelry workshop, the temple, the market, and the sidewalk cafe, and slew all the men, all the women, all the old people, and all the boys. Those who tried to flee were pursued on horseback and killed with arrows or saber blows to the back of the head. The Kurgans spared only the virgin girls: They were smaller and more manageable than the others, and they could be made into breeding slaves. The Kurgans became the grandfathers of Europe; the surviving virgins its grandmothers.
My reconstruction of how it might have happened cannot be too far off. Gimbutas excavated one site in western Germany which contained 34 skeletons of murdered men, women and children. There were wounds in their skulls, typically in the back and in the top, as if they had been running away. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 365.)
According to Eisler,
… [T]here now comes into play a new living war machine, the armed man on a horse—which in its time must have had the impact a tank or an airplane has among primitives in ours. And in the wake of the Kurgan devastation, we find their typical warrior-chieftain graves, with their human sacrifices of women and children, their animal sacrifices and their caches of weapons surrounding the dead chiefs. (The Chalice and the Blade, p. 49.)
The scene was repeated all across Old Europe by endless waves of invading tribes, through what is now Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, up the Danube, down the Elbe and the Rhine, across the English Channel and as far west as Ireland. This was the first time that the people of Old Europe had seen anyone ride on horseback. The Kurgans were good at herding and slaughtering animals; this and their constant raids on other tribes of the steppes had prepared them to be effective invaders. The old civilizations of Europe and Asia were defenseless against them. The remnants that survived did so only by adopting the violent ways of the invaders. The peaceful values of Old Europe came to an end. There followed 6,000 years of Aryan kings constantly fighting among each other, with the farming and working people exterminated or enslaved.
Compare the two groups: On the one hand were the settled, village and city-dwelling, relatively vegetarian, goddess worshiping, and literate agriculturalists. They spoke non-Indo-European languages. On the other hand were the highly mobile, largely carnivorous, illiterate, mounted herders who spoke Vedic or some similar, early Indo-European language. They took what they wanted. They despised gentleness. For them might was right. To them conquest was noble. Fighting was recreation. These two societies had almost nothing in common. No compromise was possible.
There were Semitic patriarchs who conquered the Old Near East the way the Kurgans conquered Old Europe. One such patriarchal tribe was the pre-Hebrews:
And Moses was angry with the officers. Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? [They had already killed all the adult males.] Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves… . Now the booty… was:… thirty-two thousand persons in all, women who had not known man by lying with him. (Numbers 31:13-18, 32-35.)
I would rather not believe that Moses, Egyptian scholar, probable follower of the monothiest Akhenaton, Hebrew law giver, and Judaism’s greatest prophet, would have ordered such ethnic cleansing, rape, and child abuse. I will point out below that Moses tried to reinstitute vegetarianism among the Israelites. Perhaps some earlier Semitic ancestor of the Hebrews had done such things years before, and perhaps later patriarchal editors attributed them to Moses. Bear in mind that the book of Numbers was compiled and edited long after the events reported in it. (The Clementine Homilies, Roberts and Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 3:47, p. 247.) This story of ethnic cleansing may have been wishful thinking on the part of later editors of the legends, ultranationalists who wanted rulers of their own day to exterminate or expel all non-Israelites from Palestine.
Although it may not be correct to attribute this incident to Moses, its presence in the Old Testament shows two things: that such behavior was a common practice in the Near East, and that there is at least some validity to my theory, discussed below, that the Hebrews represent a mixture of patriarchal and goddess cultures. Read the book of I Samuel, and you will see that King David practiced ethnic cleansing of the modern Bosnian type. What did “Moses” do with the 32,000 girls captured? His men took them as slave wives and had children with them.
There were relatively few Kurgan invaders, and they needed slaves to work for them, so sometimes they merely enslaved and did not kill the Old Europeans. According to Eisler, “[j]udging from the archaeological evidence, the beginning of slavery seems to be closely linked to these armed invasions.” (Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade—Our History, Our Future, p. 49.)
Some indigenous tribes were able to escape and survive in remote areas, but gradually the new rulers subjugated all the original Old Europeans, except for the Basques and Etruscans, who alone of all the original pre-Indo-European tribes were able to retain their language and culture. The Etruscans later were absorbed by the Romans, among the most vicious of the Aryans. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 389.) Gradually the Kurgans learned that sedentary life was a lot more comfortable than ceaseless migratory herding and pillaging. Most settled down, intermarried with their slaves, formed mixed societies, built fortifications, and enjoyed the fruits of Old Europe. They formed a fairly homogenous culture that later evolved into what we loosely refer to as Celtic, and it stretched from Eastern Europe all the way to the British Isles.
The Kurgans came in three major waves, first around 4300 B.C.E., then around 3500 B.C.E., and finally around 2900 B.C.E. The third wave was the most devastating, extending into the Adriatic and Greece, into western and northern Europe, and into Finland and Sweden. It represents the “… final Indo-Europeanization of Europe.” There were later waves, not of Kurgans coming out of the Caucasus, but of Kurgans already in Europe making further advances to the south, west, and north. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 384 ff., 390.)
Agricultural practices changed. “There was a considerable increase in husbandry over tillage.”… “Pastoralism and seminomadism increased and tillage decreased.” (Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 365, 400.) What had been a predominately plant-based diet became predominantly meat-based.
The world of Old Europe was turned upside down. Where there had been culture, education, literacy, medicine, equality, and the rule of law, there was now rule by the most skilled rider, archer, and swordsman. Artistic traditions were disrupted. Women, who had been the owners of property, themselves became property, slaves forced to rear the next generation of warriors. Priestess-midwives were systematically exterminated. (Exodus 22:18.) Legends were changed to celebrate the sun god and the bull storm god. The languages and cultures of Old Europe were destroyed. With them perished a history we need to know but probably never will.
Herbal medicine had been well developed in Old Europe. (Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, p. 134.) One of the symbols of the female goddess was the healing serpent coiled around a cross, today known as the caduceus. Moses once employed it as a healing symbol (Numbers 21:8, 2 Kings 18:4)—another piece of evidence which would support the theory that the Hebrew tribes were a blend of Goddess and patriarchal cultures, in which the dominant patriarchs selectively adopted ideas from the mother religion. The caduceus was later the symbol of Hippocrates, the Pythagorean, and it remains the symbol of physicians to this day.
According to Eisler and Gimbutas, the prevailing paradigm changed from one of partnership between men and women to one of domination by men over women and the strong over the weak. Such rule by force is the antithesis of law. In a society of laws a woman might rule despite her lesser stature, because law and not strength is the ultimate authority. The modern symbol of justice is a blindfolded woman holding the scales of justice. The word “law” is of feminine form in many languages—Latin, Italian, French, and Hebrew, although not in German, Hungarian, or Russian.
Our Indo-European grandfathers left no written history. Their legacy is slavery, child abuse, the sujugation of women, warfare, horseback riding, horse and cattle herding, the composite bow, and the composite flint-bone dagger. We can identify the areas of Europe and Asia they conquered simply by drawing a map of those huge areas where language is derived from Indo-European root languages. This area extends from India in the east to Ireland in the west.
Linguists offer various theories of masculine, feminine, and neuter noun forms as well as different verb forms. I propose there are different genders and conjugations because different languages merged, from patriarchal and matristic civilizations, with nouns and verbs from each language retaining their original declensions and conjugations.
Subsequent Aryan history has been one long, bloody succession of patriarchal wars, with aggressive and suspicious Aryan tribes or nations attacking each other: the Celts, the Dorians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Sythians, the Romans, the Huns, the Goths, the Vandals, the Visigoths, the Norse, the Rus, the Normans, the Danes, the French, the Spanish, the Angles, the Saxons, the British, the Russians, the Germans, the Unitedstatesians, and so on. All these are successors of the Aryans. Recent wars are echoes of the wars of the original Aryan invasions of over 6,000 years ago. The cycle of violence has thus far been impossible to stop.
Aryan history is covered well enough in the history books, and so I will skip to 1492, when Spanish conquistadors, descendants of the Aryan Visigoths invaded the New World and made genocidal war on its inhabitants. Columbus enslaved the Arawak tribe of Haiti and impressed native girls to be prostitutes for his sailors. In a few decades every last native of Haiti was dead. The Spanish were followed in the Americas and on other continents by the Aryan English, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Russians, and Italians. I am amazed that we continue to celebrate Columbus Day in the United States and that the Catholic Church has not changed the name of its Knights of Columbus fraternal organization.
However, times are changing. The most significant theme in modern history is the gradual demise of the dominator culture of the patriarchal invaders and the resurgence of a partnership culture where the rule of law prevails, where slavery is illegal, where women have equal rights with men, and were children have the right not to be abused.
We are gradually recovering the balance of Old Europe, however, this positive change takes place alongside population explosion, environmental devastation, a form of capitalism that seems to know no limits, reckless experimentation with new life forms, and the development of the technology of warfare to frightening proportions.
It remains to be seen which tendency will win out: Will Old Europe’s matristic tendency and the rule of law prevail over the patriarchal tendency towards rule by force? Will we will civilize the world before we destroy it?
A LOOK AT KURGAN CULTURE
Who were our Kurgan, Indo-European speaking, Aryan ancestors, and what motivated them to be so destructive? They were one of the most successful of the mounted, cattle- and horse-herding tribes of the steppes of south central Asia. Probably they moved west and south because droughts dried up their grazing lands. Probably their own overgrazing of the steppes contributed to the droughts and a permanent and generalized desertification of their lands.
If there is such a thing as a heretical religion, theirs was heretical. In one of their myths, the hero Trito, is assisted by the bull and storm god in his theft of the serpent’s cattle. Recall that the serpent was the healing symbol of the goddess peoples. The Kurgans believed that they had a religious obligation to reenact this myth, and so they went forth in all directions to steal all the cattle they could, along with the land to pasture them and the slaves to do the hard labor. The warriors stole the cattle. The priests had exclusive rights to sacrifice them, bless the ritual, and take their percentage. The Sanskrit word for battle, gavisti, means “desire for cattle.” (Bruce Lincoln, Priests, Warriors, and Cattle, p. 101, 131; Norman O. Brown, Hermes the Thief, the Evolution of a Myth, p. 5.)
The adversary in Kurgan myth, just as in the Hebrew Bible, was the serpent, one of the symbols of the woman-centered religion of the peaceful farmer folk of Old Europe and the Near East. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 342.) I speculate that the Kurgans had some deep-seated hatred for the people of the south. Perhaps the ancestors of the Kurgans had come from the south hundreds or thousands of years before. Perhaps their ancestors had been shepherds in the south, and had been forced to pasture their herds further and further away from cities and farming areas until they were forced out entirely. Perhaps this happened as sea levels rose after the end of the last Ice Age epoch. Perhaps the farmers of the south had considered them inferior. Perhaps the Kurgans remembered some such grievance at a deep level.
Henry Bailey Stevens suggested that animal were first domesticated in the south. First, dogs and cats were domesticated to protect the food supply from rodents and other animals. Later, he suggests, southerners kept a few grazing animals, doing so only on a small scale that was integrated with plant agriculture. The northerners had been hunting animals out on the steppes. Sometimes hunting was not good, and the northerners would have died out had they not learned herding from the southerners. For southerners animal husbandry remained small scale; for northerners it became the dominant life style. (Henry Bailey Stevens, The Recovery of Culture, p. 90.)
The way Kurgans buried their dead confirms their warrior orientation:
Their graves were almost exclusively for male burials, a distinct contrast to the even ratio of male-female burials in contemporary Old European cemeteries. In contrast to the simple pit graves of Old Europe, the Kurgan tombs were cairn- or earth-covered and were reserved for the warrior elite with their favorite war gear, the spear, bow and arrow, and flint dagger or long knife.
From graves that include both warrior and woman, Gimbutas concludes that the Kurgans practiced “suttee or sacrifice of the female consort or wife.” (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 361.) Gimbutas was the first to call this tribe “Kurgan.” She took the word from the Turkish and Russian word “kurgan,” which means “barrow,” which is a mound grave. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 352.)
Kurgans built their settlements on hill tops and then surrounded them with wooden palisades. They practiced animal, human, and child sacrifice. (Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 364, 373, 375.)
ARYAN INVASIONS OF PERSIA AND INDIA
After 2000 B.C.E., powerful Aryan tribes of semi-nomadic cattle herder-farmers, descendants of the Kurgans, invaded first Persia and later India. The Aryans established the religion of Ahura Mazda, which later became the Zoroastrian religion of Persia. Later they established the Brahman religion of India. These two religions are similar in many ways.
There was little recorded Indian history before Alexander the Great reached India in the 4th Century B.C.E. Alexander asked to meet the gymnosophoi, naked “sky-clad” philosophers, but they demanded he remove his armor first. They spoke fearlessly to him of the pointlessness of his conquests. Perhaps it was no coincidence that at this time Alexander’s men refused to fight and insisted on returning to Greece. Alexander died shortly thereafter.
There were two broad groups of Indians, first, the dark-skinned, indigenous Shramana or Dravidians, and second, the lighter skinned Aryan, Indo-European speaking Brahmans, who had invaded India and subjugated the Shramana. Out of the Shramana tradition developed the Jain religion and later Buddhism.
The Jains’ central teaching was and remains ahimsa, non-injury to all living creatures. They divided everything into life and nonlife and regarded all forms of life as equal. The devout are so strict that they wear scarves over their faces when there are insects in the air to avoid inhaling them. They sometimes use a broom to sweep the path ahead of them lest they step on them. They strain water before drinking it to avoid drinking tiny insects, and they do not eat after dark lest they accidentally eat the insects their lamps attract. They refuse to eat root vegetables because insects live in the ground around the roots. So as not to kill animal life, they avoid professions such as agriculture, and they instead have become prosperous merchants and professionals. Hindus expelled the Buddhists but allowed the Jains to stay and even intermarry with them. Even today, wealthy Jains maintain “retirement homes” for aged cattle and other animals.
The Jains claim that from time immemorial their Shramana predecessors had been vegetarians. Mahavira, the founder of the modern Jain religion in the Sixth Century, B.C.E., is said to have been the 24th incarnation of their Tirthankara. The 23rd Tirthankara was Parshwa, who lived in the Ninth Century B.C.E. and was probably a historical person and not mere legend. Perhaps most of the other Tirthankara were legendary, however, the legend at least emphasizes the Jain conviction that the Shramana custom not to harm any animal life or eat meat was ancient. (“Jainism,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1979 ed., Macropaedia, 10:8; Rynn Berry, Famous Vegetarians and their Favorite Recipes, p. 21-27.)
The goddess tradition has always been strong in India:
In the Indian religious tradition from the very beginning the divine reality is conceived of as both Man and Woman… . The divine essence is both Father and Mother, namely, the two Universal Parents who vitalise each other and become the progenitors of all living beings and the universe. (Vasudera S. Agrawala, The Glorification of the Great Goddess, p. i.)
There is archeological evidence that the indigenous people of India hunted and domesticated animals. There are animal bones in their town dumps, so presumably they ate animals. However, it appears that in Kashmir, cattle were not domesticated. (“History of the Indian Subcontinent,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1979 ed., Macropaedia, 9, p. 338.) Perhaps some of the indigenous people of Kashmir and other parts of India were vegetarian.
The Aryan Brahman invaders initially sacrificed and ate meat on a grand scale, and this appears in the Rg Veda, their oldest holy book. Like the Hebrew Levites and the Celtic Druids, the Brahmans held a monopoly on the sacrificing of animals. Probably they donated or sold meat to the peasants. The Brahman caste of priests was supreme over the other three classes and was served by them—the Kshatria caste of warriors, the Vaisya caste of tradesmen, and the Sudra caste of farmers and laborers. Below the Sudras were the untouchables, who were not even regarded as a caste. The first three castes were of Aryan descent, while the Sudras and the untouchables were made up of the conquered, indigenous populations.
Population growth was rapid following the Aryan invasions. Forests were cut down, and arable land was usurped for cattle ranching. Indigenous peasants were left with ever smaller farms. They could not afford to kill and eat their few cattle, which were much too valuable for pulling plows and producing milk, butter, and manure. The peasants rejected eating cattle.
In response to the Buddhists and the Jains, the Brahmans renounced the eating of all meats in the 6th Century B.C.E. The other castes renounced beef eating, but continued to eat the meat of other animals. (Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, p. 214.)
Indian peasants were confined in a rigid caste system that offered them no escape. Once poor people married and had children, they were trapped in a life of constant labor and poverty and could only offer the same to their descendants. One option that Brahmanism did allow was the path of asceticism and celibacy. This became a way out of poverty and at the same time a way of slowing the Indian population explosion.
Gautama Buddha (557-477 B.C.E.) was a contemporary of Mahavira. They were from the same part of India and they both spoke the Magdhi language. Perhaps they met at some point. The Buddha followed the Jain path for many years. However, after fasting to the point where he was skin and bones, he decided the Jain path was too rigorous, and he created a “middle way,” which was still vegetarian and still a path of meditation, renunciation, and asceticism, but which dispensed with ultra-strict Jain rules, for example, those which called for severe fasting and rigorously avoiding harming insects.
Most historians say that Buddhism and Jainism grew out of Brahmanism, however, my theory is that Buddhism grew out of Jainism, while Jainism grew out of the indigenous Shramana tradition. This is true despite the fact that both Buddha and Mahavira were of the Hindu Kshatria or warrior caste, the caste immediately below Brahman, and thus were of Aryan descent. They were intellectual but not biological descendants of the original Dravidian Shramana.
Buddhism grew rapidly after King Asoka in 256 B.C.E. made it the state religion. Buddhism championed equality and opposed the class system. It taught nonviolence and pacifism, reincarnation, respect for women, renunciation of materialism, separation of church and state, and an optional celibacy. Asoka sent missionaries west as far as Greece, Egypt, and Israel and as far east as Southeast Asia and China.
If the Buddha wrote, his writings did not survive, and his followers split into two broad division, the Theravada who followed the tradition of the Shramana and refused to eat meat, and the Mahayana, who held that one could eat meat if someone else killed the animal and if the one eating the meat believed that the meat came from an animal that was not killed specially to provide him a meal.
Buddhist scholars of the Theravada tradition contend that Gautama Buddha followed Shramana tradition and held to a strict vegetarianism. They point out that he spoke and perhaps wrote in the Magdhi language, whereas the oldest Mahayana writings in which the Gautama allegedly authorized the eating of meat—if someone else had killed the animal, and if it was not killed specifically to provide him a meal—were written in the Pali language of the early Mahayana sect. (Roshi Philip Kapleau, To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist Case for Becoming Vegetarian, p. 29 ff.)
Buddhists are not vegetarians for health reasons but for ethical reasons, for reasons of taboo, and because of their belief in reincarnation.
The Brahmans, faced with the growing popularity of Buddhism and Jainism, adopted some of their principles. The resulting synthesis was what we know today as Hinduism. Brahmanic literature extols the sacrificing of animals and the eating of meat, because the predecessors of today’s Brahmans were serious beef eaters, while today’s Brahman sect of Hinduism is strictly lacto-vegetarian.
While the caste system of Brahmanism survived in Hinduism, including its ruthless oppression of women, Hinduism did become more environmentally sound. In Hindu culture the cow and ox (a neutered bull) are revered and worshiped as humanity’s best friend, plowing, and clearing weeds and stubble. They provide dung which is useful as fertilizer and fuel. Cows are a source of milk and butter. When they die a natural death, their bodies are taken away to rendering plants and turned into leather and other goods. There are tens of millions of gaunt cattle roaming the streets and fields of India. (Martin A. Larson, The Religion of the Occident, 107 ff.; Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, 211 ff.; and Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef, 30-39.)
While observant Brahman Hindus are strictly lacto-vegetarian, Hindus of lower castes eat mostly vegetables but will eat any kind of flesh they can afford except for beef. They reject beef because there is a strong Hindu taboo against eating the meat of their friend the cow. However, respect for cattle is not complete; some Hindus will starve cattle to death once they are old and useless, and some will sell their cattle to Moslems or Christians, who in turn will sell them to the slaughter house.
Mohandas Gandhi was a strict lacto-vegetarian. He taught ahimsa and influenced millions of Indians to give up the eating of all meats. Later in life he said he deeply regretted that he had not eschewed the consumption of milk. Gandhi encouraged cultivation of flax, saying that wherever it grew, people were healthier and more prosperous. Flax not only contains essential fatty acids, it is also good for making clothing, paint, and lubricating oils.
The stories of Genesis are symbolic and allegorical. For one who is not afraid to interpret them in a non-literal way, there is much history to be found there. Scholars such as J.J. Bachofen and A.M. Hocart believed in the “historicity of myth.” (J.J. Bachofen, Myth, Religion, and Mother Right; p. 75.) Greek historians such as Herodotus and Strabo acknowledged the ancient Greek stories to be mere legends and distilled history out of them. Those who insist that Genesis or any other book of the Bible be taken completely literally are, ironically, the only ones who are unable to identify the real historical facts they contain. Judaism regards the creation story as part of “esoteric lore.” (Encyclopedia Judaica, “Creation,” 1997 CD edition.) Judaism never accepted the Christian theory of Adam’s fall as constituting an original sin which affects all humanity. This theology first appears in the Christian 2 Esdras 3:10. Genesis belonged to the Jews first, and their interpretation of it should prevail over the Christian interpretation. The first chapters of Genesis and Ezekiel formed the core of the highly symbolic kabbalah. (“Cabala,” www.JewishEncyclopedia.com.)
There was peace in Eden as there was peace in Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. and in the Old Near East before 5500 B.C.E. All that changed when Semitic patriarchs stormed into the Old Near East and Aryan Kurgans invaded Old Europe. Genesis tells of the loss of peace and the descent into constant warfare. One aspect of the peace was that animals were treated peaceably. There is a legend referred to in the Talmud and the Bible that from the time of Adam to the Deluge, Adam’s descendants did not eat meat. According to Sanhedrin 59b: “Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of eating.”
According to Genesis: And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” (Genesis 1:29 f.)
And to Adam he said, “…[T]horns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (Genesis 3:17 ff.)
Note that even the animals eat only plant-based foods.
The reason why early humans were forbidden meat to eat, according to 13th Century Jewish scholar Nachmanides, was
… because living creatures possess a moving soul and a certain spiritual superiority which in this respect make them similar to those who possess intellect (people) and they have the power of affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and death. (Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism, p. 2; quoting from Rabbi Alfred Cohen, “Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective,” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Vol. I, No. II, (Fall, 1981), p. 45; see www.all-creatures.org/articles/jvrsfaq.html.)
The Jewish literature on vegetarianism is enormous, fascinating, and a door to many other aspects of Judaism and ancient history in general. Schwartz’ book and web site are a good place to start.
The life spans of the legendary patriarchs who lived before the Deluge were very long, Methuselah living to be 969 (Genesis 5:21), and the reason for this, according to Jewish scholar Nachmanides, was their vegetarianism. (I.B. Levinson, The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 12, p. 405; cited by Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism, p. 3.)
“Adam” may derive from the Hebrew word adamah, a feminine noun which means “earth.” I hypothesize that there had been a matristic version of this legend, before the patriarchal invasions, in which the hero of the story was Adamah, a woman. I hypothesize that the patriarchal editors put Adamah through a historical “sex change operation.” According to Theodore Reik, the predecessors of the Hebrews worshiped a female goddess. (Pagan Rites in Judaism, p. 100.)
Another role reversal involved the vilification of the serpent. The serpent had been the symbol of the goddess religion and a symbol of healing. Moses employed the Caduceus, a serpent coiled around a cross, as a healing symbol (Numbers 21:8, 2 Kings 18:4), and this harkened back to the matristic era. The Pythagorean and vegetarian physician Hippocrates—supposed author of the Hippocratic Oath—used it as a symbol of healing, and it is still the symbol of physicians today. Nevertheless, the patriarchal redactors of Genesis 3 presented the seducer of Adam and Eve as a serpent.
Scholars are generally mystified as to the meaning of the Genesis legend of the ‘sons of God” and the Nephilim:
[T]he sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…?. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. (Genesis 6: 1-9.)
I find my own theory the most convincing: The “sons of God” in this story represent the patriarchal Semitic invaders of the Old Middle East. The Semitic patriarchs conquered the old pre-Hebrew matristic, partnership culture, in many cases killing off all the men, women, and boys, sparing only the virgin girls, and taking them as wives or concubines, referred to in this story as “the daughters of men.” The Nephilim were their offspring. (See Ronald S. Hendel, “When the Sons of God Cavorted With the Daughters of Men,” ed. Hershel Shanks, Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review, p. 167 ff.; Cf. Numbers 13:28, 33; Deuteronomy 9:2; Joshua 15:13.) The term “Nephilim” itself is a reference to some kind of angel, however, their behavior was not at all angelic, and the application of the term to them was probably made at a later date in the development of the myth. This is perhaps a story of a holocaust, as revised and recorded in a garbled form by later patriarchal editors. It was not a holocaust of water but of invasion, murder, rape, child abuse, and enslavement.
The patriarchs, referred to in Genesis 6 as the “sons of God,” conquered the pre-Hebrew partnership cultures, but they were outnumbered by those they conquered, and they may have brought few women with them. So they married or took as concubines enormous harems of those pre-Hebrew virgin girls who survived the holocaust. (Compare Numbers 13:28, 33, quoted on page 44.) The girls became the mothers of the second generation, the Nephilim. I suggest that the virgins knew their goddess traditions well and were able to pass them on to their children. The patriarchal culture allowed only the boys to become priests, unlike the partnership culture which preceded it, in which it appears that both boys and girls could aspire to the priesthood.
In the long history of the pre-Hebrews this is the narrow middle of the hour glass. I speculate that much of the sand of tradition never flowed through and was lost forever. But enough of the tradition did flow through to make it possible for us to reassemble the pieces. I suggest that the warlike, masculinist religion of the invaders was blended with the matristic, partnership religion to produce an initially warlike, pre-Hebrew religion which killed off entire tribes and introduced animal sacrifice.
On the mother side of the pre-Hebrew religion, god may have been female or may have had a feminine side, the ruach, or spirit of god. Judaism today considers god to be both male and female. This combined maleness and femaleness of god can be seen in the Jewish mystical tradition known as kabbalah, in which the feminine side of god is called the shekinah. (Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 112.)
The original root of the pre-Hebrew religion was very strong on the mother side, and as time passed the partnership paradigm was reasserted, with the invader religion surviving as a thin veneer: While men continued to control the leadership of the Hebrew religion, the core of the religion reverted to many aspects of the pre-invasion-holocaust partnership paradigm.
By the time of Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah, after 500 B.C.E., feminine themes—justice, ending the violence to fellow humans, and ending the killing and sacrificing of animals—worked their way into the consciousness of such prophetic leaders. In most other ancient patriarchal religions such as Brahmanism and Zoroastrianism, the feminine root was expunged much more completely. Druidism, the religion of the European Celts, was likewise a merger of the masculine dominator and feminine partnership religions; among the Celts, some feminine themes survived, and women could own property and divorce.
My hypothesis is that the old teachings from the matristic, partnership era survived by being grafted into legends from the father side. The religion of mostly priestesses and some priests was replaced by a religion of priests only. The gender of god was changed from female to male, from a goddess of ethics, law, and medicine into a god of war, conquest, and ethnic cleansing. Stories were revised by the invader religion; matriarchs became patriarchs.
I suggest, however, that the goddess side of the pre-Hebrew religion survived and gradually reasserted itself in Judaism, which by the time of the Prophets had become a progressive, philosophical religion that stressed high ethical standards. Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism allow women to become rabbis, and Orthodox Judaism is now ordaining a few women as rabbis. Women have never been barred from studying the tradition. Both the feminine side of god and the ancient teachings from the mother side are stronger in Judaism than in the other major patriarchal religions—Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism.
In the Cain and Abel story as we have it (Genesis 4), Cain sacrificed grain and vegetables, and his sacrifice was not pleasing to god. Able sacrificed animals, and his sacrifice was pleasing to god. According to my theory, Cain and Abel were reversed by meat eating patriarchs who rewrote the story. I suggest that in the original pre-patriarchal story, Able offered a vegetable sacrifice that was pleasing to god, while Cain offered an animal sacrifice, which was not pleasing. I suggest the story was changed to make meat the preferred sacrifice in order to validate the customs of the conquering patriarchs.
That this reversal has taken place in Genesis 4 is quite plausible because Adam’s progeny—in the original matristic vegetarian version of pre-Hebrew history—did not eat meat from Genesis 1 thorough Genesis 9. Abel was one of Adam’s pre-Hebrew progeny, and it is unlikely he would have offered an animal sacrifice if he did not eat meat. It was generally food items that were sacrificed, vegetables, grain, meat, and wine—although incense was sacrificed too. In sacrifices in the Bible, only a few animals were burned entirely, leaving nothing to eat—referred to as “burnt offerings” or “whole burnt offerings.” Of the majority of sacrifices, only a part was burned. The remainder was distributed to the priests and those who brought the animal to be sacrificed. The priests kept all the leather. My point is that sacrifices were primarily made of things that were eaten, and if animals were not being sacrificed, they probably were not being eaten; conversely, if animals were not being eaten, they were probably not being sacrificed, and the meat sacrifice of Cain would have been displeasing to god.
However, there is another interpretation of this strange story, and it comes from Henry Bailey Stevens. Eden was a place where the tree was central. God had a special relationship with the trees, as would be appropriate in a time when trees where worshiped. Cain offered as fertilizer to the trees a mulch of only plant matter. They grew well enough. However, Abel poured the blood, bones, and manure of animals around the trees, giving them a large dose of nitrogen and minerals. They grew better and produced more fruit. In this way the god of the trees preferred Abel’s sacrifice. (The Recovery of Culture, pp. 64-67. This is on my list of must-read books.)
THE QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL EDEN
Can we prove there were vegetarian societies in prehistoric times? I know of no archeologist who has reported finding village dumps from 5000 B.C.E. in which there are no animal bones. Would a village dump containing no bones completely biodegrade and be harder to find? I would think that broken pottery and cutting tools would still survive.
Did a vegetarian Eden ever exist? Were there tribes that gathered but did not hunt? The tentative proof is threefold: First, there is historical documentation of the existence of Pythagorean vegetarian societies in southern Italy in the Sixth Century B.C.E. and in Palestine and Egy