Organic Food Fraud

I recently came across this article and thought I would share it with my readers…yes, I have permission to do so.

There’s always somebody looking to make an easy buck.  Scams of all kinds are simple because honest people believe that other people are honest.  Not all of them are.  Let’s face it — we are truly at the mercy of the governmental agencies that regulate our food supply, including our organic food supply.

An orange is an orange.  You can’t look at two oranges and determine which one was produced using organic means and which was raised using traditional farming methods.  There is simply no way to tell by looking.  And yet, when the two oranges are displayed side by side if one is said to be organic, we will pay more for that orange.  The question is, however, is it REALLY organic?

We expect that when the organic label is on food products that we purchase, it means that the food was produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides (among other things).

There have been testing procedures available for years to test for pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables.  There are regulations regarding legal levels of pesticide residue even on foods that are not called “organic.”  Not every apple or every leaf of spinach is tested, of course, but there are quality control measures in place that give us a certain level of confidence that chemical pesticide was not used on fruits and vegetables that are labeled organic.

However, there has not been a similar test to determine if chemical fertilizers were used in the production of food that is labeled organic — until now. Science, it seems, always eventually catches up with advertising.  Now there is technology available to test fruits and vegetables to determine whether chemical fertilizers were used.  There isn’t widespread use of the technology yet, but there will be. This is one more step in the right direction!

When I read this article, I was reminded just how often we hear about fraud, in one form or another, which just gives another reason why growing your own organic fruits and vegetables is such a good idea.

Pruning is a Winter-time Activity

Winter is the perfect time to take care of any pruning that needs to be done on your trees and shrubbery, while the plants are either dormant or in a minimal growth mode.  If you haven’t yet taken care of this task, you still have time.

Pruning tips to keep in mind

If you haven’t already figured this out, I try to keep my tips and guidelines as simple as possible.  There is no benefit in making every gardening activity sound daunting or too difficult to attempt.  After all, gardening is supposed to be “relaxing”, isn’t it?

At any rate, here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind before grabbing your garden shears or lopers:

  • Never remove more than 1/4 of a tree’s crown at one time, the stress placed on the remaining tree may be more than it can handle, and the amount removed should be even less with mature trees.
  • Pruning young trees is the best way to get well-shaped mature trees, which then minimizes the amount of pruning or cutting back a mature tree will require.
  • Make your cuts clean and as close to the main branch as possible.
  • Remember, small wounds heal faster than large ones, thereby minimizing changes for infestation.

Making clean cuts

Making clean cuts while pruning is as simple as making sure your pruning shears are sharp.  For larger branches, a 3-step process will help prevent tears and bark peel-backs.

  1. Make a shallow cut on the underside using a small handsaw; this will prevent the bark from tearing or peeling away extra bark when the final cut is made and the branch falls.
  2. Your main cut should be made to the “outside” of your undercut.
  3. Your third and final cut should be made outside of, but as close to the branch-tree collar as possible.

Prices current as of 11/19/2012

This is completely off-topic, as far as organic gardening is concerned, but with healthcare on the minds of most of the country these days, people are beginning to focus more and more on their health.  And, people who are interested in organic gardening tend to fall into this category, so I thought I would share this site with all of my readers.

Do your very best to stay healthy!

It isn’t as hard as you may think to live a healthy lifestyle.  All it really takes is a little determination and a helpful guide to follow. With a proper diet and an exercise regiment within your realistic abilities, staying in shape is not hard to do.  Additionally, with your diet, if you follow it closely and get the recommended intake of daily vitamins, your immune system stays in tip-top shape and you rarely ever have to battle illnesses.  True, keeping anti-bacterial soap close at hand—in your car or even your pocketbook—is a great idea, but isn’t there so much MORE you could be doing?

Given all of that, do you know where to go for dieting and exercise advice?  Your doctor is a pretty good source of information since he gets paid to know what is healthy and unhealthy for you.  But, as we all know, doctor’s visits and consults can be pricy.  And who wants to go to a doctor unless you absolutely have to?!

Well how about getting some of the best advice and health tips from experts WITHOUT those annoying and expensive doctor’s visits? Believe it or not, you CAN get such a thing. And even better than THAT, you don’t have to look any further!

That’s right…all of your health related questions can be answered here!  We’ve got several amazing products that are going to not only help you get into healthier shape, but will KEEP you that way!  So check out these products right away!

Biozome added to your compost helps your garden grow!

In a recent post, I talked about adding Azomite to your organic garden to provide necessary micro-nutrients and minerals that most soils are sorely lacking or completely void of.  This post discusses yet another little known, but potentially helpful additive for the organic gardener, in particular, for anyone who is wanting to improve their soil condition with the use of compost.

You can consider Biozome to be a super compost booster.  Basically, it accelerates and improves the compost process by providing bacteria that help to release the nutrients.  It is considered to be a compost inoculant, which when added works by freeing up soil nutrients and making them more bio-available for plants to access or creating symbiotic relationships with the plants root systems.

What is Biozome?

This question is more easily answered by telling you what it is not, it is not a fertilizer, a pesticide, nor a genetically modified organism.

BioZome is a highly concentrated blend of natural microorganisms put together by Dr. Carl Oppenheimer after 40 years of research. It has been proven to triple the growth rate, decrease seed germination time, produce more flowers and increase crop yield. Plants grown using BioZome produce healthier roots and show increased disease and pest resistance. The micro-organisms are primitive “Archaea” collected from salt pans, hot springs, and volcanic regions all over the world.

“Archaea”, for the scientifically inclined, as defined by Wikipedia:  (/ɑrˈkiːə/ ( listen) ar-kee) are a group of single-celled microorganisms. A single individual or species from this domain is called an archaeon (sometimes spelled “archeon”). They have no cell nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelles within their cells. adds:  One in the three-domain system (the other are Bacteria and Eukaryota) which includes halophiles (microorganisms that may inhabit extremely salty environments), methanogens (microorganisms that produce methane), and thermophiles (microorganisms that can thrive extremely hot environments).

That’s the long answer.  The short answer is, I don’t know!  What’s more important is that:

  1. *its not harmful to you,
  2. it accelerates the composting process, and
  3. works to make your plants healthier and more productive when added to your garden soil.

And, by added, I’m referring to using the compost that you have souped-up by adding Biozome to.

BioZome is a great compost starter.  It works in your compost pile in several ways; it greatly accelerates the breakdown rate, it uses very little water, and it can work in very low oxygen situations.  And, remember, your compost material will be filled with these “archaea” organisms that will continue to do their work on your garden plants when you mix your compost in your garden.

And, its wallet friendly! There really isn’t any reason not to super charge your composting with Biozome, readily available as Jobe’s Organic Compost Starter 4-Pound Bag

Prices current as of 11/19/2012.


BioZome – an enzymatic mixture of active hydrocarbon oxidizing natural single celled organisms. The enzymes and cells are contained in an inert preparation of natural clay. The mixture has no chemical impact. The mixture should be handled with the normal precautions of a hydroscopic powder. In enclosed areas protective eye and mask covering is recommended. This mixture has been tested by human contact for over 20 years with no direct or indirect impact.

WarningThis clay product contains a small amount of crystalline silica which may cause delayed respiratory disease if inhaled over a prolonged and extended period of time. Avoid breathing the dust.


Azomite To Your Organic Garden

While most of the attention is given to the “big 3” of nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, plants also require trace minerals and micro-nutrients to thrive. Azomite – Organic Trace Mineral Soil Additive Fertilizer is a great way to supplement the feeding of your garden soil, whether you are growing organically or not. Odds are good that your soil is lacking, or in many cases, void of many of these trace elements that plants need to flourish.

What is Azomite?

Azomite is the name of a special rock in Utah. Early in the 20th century geological prospector Rollin Anderson found deposits of montmorillonite clay in a valley south of Salt Lake City. AZOMITE® is a registered trade mark and is an acronym for “A to Z of Minerals Including Trace Elements”. AZOMITE® contains more than 60 trace minerals which include many rare earth elements.

AZOMITE® is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production. It is simply mined, crushed and sold. It has a pH of 8.0 and does contain trace amounts of heavy metals and lead, but in lesser amounts than might be found in your typical soil sample. It does not contain sufficient amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium, so additional plant fertilizing is necessary from other sources for these macro-nutrients.

How much do you need?

Here are the application guidelines given at

“When preparing the soil, use AZOMITE® at the rate of 1 lb per 10 sq ft. If in rows, mix with the seed or starter plant and apply at the rate of 1 lb per 25 ft of row. If bed is established, sprinkle around each plant. AZOMITE® should be applied with compost, humus, manures, or other fertilizers to provide additional levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. AZOMITE® will not burn plants. For house plants, mix 1 teaspoon per 2 inch pot diameter with potting soil before planting. Give 1 teaspoon quarterly thereafter. For roses, apply 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. to the soil around each plant and lightly till into soil.”

Prices current as of 11/19/2012

*Note: The Azonite granular, pictured in the center above, comes in 4, 8, and 12-lb bags (4 lb bag shown). I believe the other two products are Azomite powder, which should not be spread with a spreader due to excess dust produced, but the granular product can be. Also note that the larger 44 lb. bag price does not include shipping, which will add approx. $26.50. So, you’re looking at roughly just under $2.00/lb.

While not the cheapest supplement to your garden, I also don’t think that its prohibitive when you consider the benefits received. The average garden might use 5-10 lbs, of course, if you have a larger garden, then you may want to consider getting the 44 lb. bag.  So, I would estimate that you’re looking at $20-25/year to add Azomite to your organic garden.

“Go Green” Halloween Costume for Kids

Want to get the kids dressed up for Halloween and promote going green at the same time?


The decision on how nanotechnology should be applied towards “organic foods” should be a simple, straight-forward one, which is that by its very definition, organic foods should NOT include ANY nanotechnology.   The following is the FDA News Release from June 9, 2011.  Comment period is still open and you can follow the link to the Draft Guidance for Industry, located at the end of the Press Release, for more information and to leave a comment for the FDA…Randy (Admin)


For Immediate Release: June 9, 2011
Media Inquiries: Jeffrey Ventura, 301-796-2807,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA 

FDA takes ‘first step’ toward greater regulatory certainty around nanotechnology.

Agency outlines roadmap for discussion on nanotechnology in regulated products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released draft guidance to provide regulated industries with greater certainty about the use of nanotechnology, which generally involves materials made up of particles that are one billionth of a meter in size. The guidance outlines the agency’s view on whether regulated products contain nanomaterials or involve the application of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology, the science involving manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale, is an emerging technology with a broad range of potential applications, such as increasing bioavailability of a drug, improving food packaging and in cosmetics.
The draft guidance, “Considering Whether an FDA-Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology,” is available online and open for public comment. It represents the first step toward providing regulatory clarity on the FDA’s approach to nanotechnology.
Specifically, the agency named certain characteristics – such as the size of nanomaterials used and the exhibited properties of those materials – that may be considered when attempting to identify applications of nanotechnology in regulated products.
“With this guidance, we are not announcing a regulatory definition of nanotechnology,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs. “However, as a first step, we want to narrow the discussion to these points and work with industry to determine if this focus is an appropriate starting place.”
For products subject to premarket review, the FDA intends to apply the points contained in the draft guidance, when finalized, to better understand the properties and behavior of engineered nanomaterials. For products not subject to premarket review, the FDA will urge manufacturers to consult with the agency early in the product development process so questions related to the regulatory status, safety, effectiveness or public health impact of these products can be adequately addressed.
In 2006, the FDA formed the Nanotechnology Task Force, charged with identifying and addressing ways to better enable the agency to evaluate possible adverse health effects from FDA-regulated nanotechnology products.
The agency issued a report by the task force in 2007 that recommended that the FDA issue additional guidance and take steps to address the potential risks and benefits of drugs, medical devices and other FDA-regulated products using nanotechnology.
FDA will develop additional guidance documents related to specific products or product categories in the future, as needed.
It is critical for FDA to understand how changes in physical, chemical or biological properties seen in nanomaterials affect the safety, effectiveness, performance or quality of a product that contains such materials.
The FDA has a robust regulatory science agenda to develop the tools, methods and expertise necessary to evaluate products that contain nanomaterials or otherwise involve the use of nanotechnology. The FDA’s regulatory science portfolio focuses on generating data needed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of products using nanomaterials, with an emphasis on products the use of which could present the greatest potential risk to public health.
FDA is releasing its document in coordination with the “Policy Principles for the U.S. Decision-Making Concerning Regulation and Oversight of Applications of Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials” issued on June 9, 2011, jointly by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, and the United States Trade Representative (

For more information:

To attract butterflies to your garden, you plan your plant selection around butterfly attracting plants and flowers.  Your family and visitors will love seeing your garden filled with beautiful butterflies, but be sure to create a safe habitat for them.  If you own cats rethink your plans, because it would be a shame to attract these lovely insects to their death.

Some things to consider when planning your butterfly garden are the size of your garden and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you, but make sure it contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract.

That means you must become familiar with the types of butterflies in your area, as well as which plants and flowers will attract those particular species.  Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen; like honeysuckle, milkweed, summer lilac, Valerian, daisies, Purple Coneflower, Yellow Sage, day lilies and lavender.

To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind.  Butterflies often congregate on wet sand and mud for drinking water and extracting minerals from damp puddles.  To create such an attractive spot, place coarse sand in a shallow pan and then insert the pan in the soil of your habitat…remember to keep the sand wet.

Another thing to keep in mind is to plant plants that butterfly caterpillars feed on.   This will help you maintain your butterflies by having everything they need through their entire life cycle.

While, butterflies are not concerned with the color combinations of your garden, but some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly garden plan to see what the finished product would look like.  Keeping in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy.  Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness.

By following these tips and guidelines, you should have no trouble planting plants to attract butterflies to your garden.

The USDA just released the 2009 Pesticide Data Program Report (PDP Report) for 2009!

What’s disturbing about this is that this report just came out on the 11th of May, 2011!   I realize that bureaucracy moves slowly, but what this delay also means is that if there was a problem with unacceptably high levels of residue, we would not have seen any action taken until almost 2-years after the fact!  There are some things that are necessarily more time sensitive than others.  I would think our food supply would be such an area.

Follow this link to the 2009 PDP Report from the USDA website.

The main point made, and you will find it on page 4 of this 194 page, pdf formatted  report, is that you should make sure you wash all produce prior to eating it.  A gentle wash under cold water for 10 seconds seems to be sufficient, because that’s what they did before running any residue tests.

Another obvious problem is that produce are very perishable, so unless testing has immediate results available, any product that has an excessive amount of residue will have already been consumed before any lab results are available.  ‘Tis the nature of the beast!  On a positive note, instances of excess levels of residue were very limited, averaging .3% of all samples tested.

The commodities that were tested included a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, catfish, and water…from both wells and municipalities.  The results of these tests are rather vague due to the relatively limited number of sites and sources tested.  Overall, the test results seem to indicate that contaminant levels are minimal, by USDA standards.

The point to keep in mind is that these standards are only required to be established every 15-years,  so the latest findings on what are and are not “safe levels” are not necessarily reflected in the standards used.  It is an imperfect and on-going process to say the least.

This seems like a good time to point out a few factors that may impact even your own efforts at organic gardening.  With all the flooding and land reclamation that we have endured, there is always a question as to what the condition of your own soil and water is.  One thing you can easily test for is the lead level present in your soil.  If lead levels are high, you will need to bring in clean soil to fill your garden or gardening containers.  To test for lead, you can contact your nearest USDA Extension Service and they can give you the name of the nearest testing center.

I will admit that it was quite tedious viewing the USDA PDP Report and I did not read every single line, chart, or appendix.   I do ask, if you are more thorough than I was and decide to go through the report, that you leave additional comments and feedback here for others to share.

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