Dangers of Processed Food

There was a time when if you wanted something to eat, you had to get the ingredients to make it yourself.

Today’s modern conveniences of packaged pre-cooked dinners and drive-thru’s have meals ready to eat in minutes, however it comes with a price that has nothing to do with money. These foods contain chemical preservatives that were never intended to be ingested by people, and yet we are spending millions of dollars each year on TV dinners, canned meals, and fast food.

It’s no wonder that Americans suffer from a myriad of health problems if this is what we are continually putting into our bodies.

Mashed chicken bone and chemicals deep fried in oil

One recent case in Great Britain has hit the news and it shows a very vivid, if not typical, example of the damage processed foods can do. Stacey Irvine, a seventeen year old factory employee collapsed on the job and was unable to catch her breath. When she went to the hospital for examination, it was discovered that since the age of two, she had eaten an almost steady diet of Chicken McNuggets from the grand poobah of fast food chains – McDonalds.

That’s fifteen years of no fruits, no vegetables, and very little else other than nuggets of mashed chicken bone and chemicals deep fried in some oil!

Now of course we are all exclaiming over the choice of this girl’s mother to allow her daughter to eat this type of food constantly. But before we get our judgmental knickers in a knot, let’s take a look at some of the foods that are every bit as bad – and are consumed by us on a daily basis.

Think about how many times a week you open a can of spaghetti rather than taking the time to fry the hamburger, prepare the sauce and boil the pasta. Rather than make a call on someone else’s choice, we need to truly examine our own.

Chemicals In Processed Food

There are literally thousands of chemicals used in processed food!

The reasons that are put forth are that the food has a longer shelf life, has brighter colors, and more enhanced flavors and textures. All of it is put together in brightly colored packages that are put out prominently in the store or advertised at your local fast food restaurant. Many of these chemicals have uses that seem far from anything we would be putting into our bodies, and yet we do so daily even though they are printed on the label for us to see. That’s not to mention harmful chemicals such as acrylamides that are formed during the processing of these foods – and are NOT required to be mentioned on the labels.

Take a look at the names of some of these chemicals that go into our “convenience” foods – you will do good to pronounce them, let alone understand what they mean. However, simply looking up the names found on the food labels can yield much information about what is actually in there.

Here are some commonly found in food and drink products, along with their other uses.

methyl naphthyl ketone (used in perfumes and essential oils)

ethyl propionate (sometimes better known as propionic ether)

ethyl methylphenylglycidate (main ingredient in strawberry soaps, shampoos, and perfumes)

Amyl acetate (used to prepare penicillin as well as a paint solvent)

dipropyl ketone (also used as a solvent)

…and you have just read but a small portion of the ingredients for – a processed strawberry milkshake. Makes you want to go out and get one, doesn’t it? And that is only the tip of a very large iceberg of processed chemicals we allow ourselves and our children to eat each day.

Processed Food Worst Offenders

So much of what we see in the grocery stores is processed, that it is hard to zero in on just a few that are particularly bad. To sum it up, if it comes in a can, is frozen, or is in a box, it is processed and likely has a list of ingredients a mile long with names that it takes a bachelors in science to pronounce and understand. Fast food restaurants are filled with processed food choices, many of which are geared toward children. We will look at some of the worst offenders of the processed nightmare that has become American’s food choices.

Lunch kits (Lunchables, etc.): These plastic boxes contain crackers, processed cheese, processed lunchmeat, along with a packaged drink and either a candy bar or a cookie for dessert. There are other ones that even contain chicken nuggets and pizza which don’t require cooking. Very easy and convenient to pull out for the kids lunch, and one might even fool themselves into thinking that it’s halfway nutritious. However, the sodium and fat content for these lunches are more than what an adult needs let alone a child.

Mornings are often hectic,and grabbing a box of doughnuts or throwing some Pop-Tarts in the toaster sounds like an easy way to slide through the morning breakfast. However, a look at the fat, sugar, and preservative content shows that these foods are horrible ways to start the day.

Even worse are McDonald’s “Big Breakfast” meals with a whopping 1,920 mg of sodium. Keep in mind, the RDA of sodium is no higher than 2000 mg a day, and even that is higher than we need – but for one meal to contain nearly an entire days worth is as unhealthy as it gets.

Foods such as packaged bacon have a sodium content per serving of well over 2000 mg, and that is just for part of a meal.

What You Can Do

The first and most important thing you, as the consumer can do is to stop buying foods that have more ingredients you can’t pronounce than ones you can. This is easier said than done, but it is not as difficult as we have talked ourselves into thinking.

Buying food in the state that it was meant to be purchased in will not only make you healthier, it will actually taste better. These processed foods have salt and flavor enhancers to give the illusion of tasting better than they do. Try a vine ripened tomato or meat that has been prepared at home after being cut by hand by the butcher. Compare that to a processed can of spaghetti and meatballs and see what you think.

Taking the time to prepare meals in advance can save time throughout the week if the family has a busy schedule. There are containers and freezer bags available to where a large meal can be made on a day that is free and can be portioned into meals for the week. Make the snack foods that are healthy more readily available – because when it comes to kids they truly will eat what is there if they are hungry enough.

Don’t make the mistake of the mother whose daughter collapsed at work because of a steady diet of McNuggets. Kids learn very early how to get what they want and it is up to parents to be sure that they get what they need. Any minor battles about it in the beginning will wear down and your family’s health is worth it.

Many people have started growing their own food or frequenting farmer’s markets to have more control over what they are consuming. Whatever action you take, it is important to take that action now. These food companies and fast food corporations couldn’t care less about your health.

Start writing down the ingredients in these canned and boxed foods and then look up what they mean and what other uses they have. You may be alarmed, you may be shocked – but if you see it in black and white, you just may take action.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2012

Life and Money

Honest Information About Consumer Scams

As technology increases, we find ourselves with the world at our fingertips.

So much of what used to require at least a trip to the post office can now be done from our home or office computers.

This certainly eliminates some of the stress that our day to day routines can bring, with paying bills, shopping, and even work projects done online – however there is a drawback to the information highway.

It also makes it easier for scammers and thieves to rip us off.

Unfortunately, thousands of people fall victim to consumer scams each year, and the ‘computer age’ has only brought an increase to the amount of people that are exposed to frauds.

It’s not just the new age of technology that is to blame though. Some of these scams have been around for years and even continue once the right information is made public. A lot of that has to do with the fact that too many people take what they are told at face value without really researching the facts. Very often the truth is out there to be found, but it isn’t going to be readily available. Sometimes it requires filing a Freedom of Information Act form to get the truth while other hoaxes can be found a bit more easily. Regardless of any work that has to be done, it is worth it to find out what you are buying before you buy it.

Some of the more common scams will be discussed along with ones that you may be assuming you have the right information about. You don’t have to become a victim of a rip-off or learn the hard way if you just stop and ask a couple of questions before assuming that something is true. Be an active consumer and keep a doubting eye on anything that is asking for you to spend your money.

Be Aware of Scams

The age of the Internet has brought us a lot of access to information – and it has also brought those whose motives are less than honest access to our information. Email phishing scams are on the rise and it is important to be aware of what links you are clicking on.

The most important piece of information that you can take away from this is to NOT click on any link from your email box. Hackers will send out mass emails that are then forwarded to others and once you click on the link, all of your data becomes open season for identity theft.

Never under any circumstances send private information that is asked through an email. Other email scams involve a well publicized news story with a dangerous link that will leak your information and put you at risk for identity theft.

Another scam for homeowners to be aware of are ones involving any kind of fly-by-night companies installing alarm systems door to door. Chances are, if they are selling the product in this fashion, they are not registered and letting someone like this into your home to take note of spots where the house is vulnerable to breaking in will often lead to a later burglary.

The same goes for any person you allow in your home for service or maintenance – make sure you have double checked all credentials and never buy into door to door repairs.

By far, one of the biggest consumer scams going target people’s compassion. False charities pop up all of the time counting on the fact that people will feel sorry for anyone who has experienced a disaster or tragedy.

There are organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army that are equipped to handle charitable contributions and they can be contacted directly for donations rather than through someone ‘collecting’.

Also be aware that some of these scammers will offer investment opportunities in areas hit by natural disasters such as homes designed to withstand floods or earthquakes. Anything like this is a ploy to get your money and nothing more.

Misconceptions, False Advertising, And Fly By Night

There are many products that we buy every day that give an impression of being a higher quality product when in reality there is very little difference. Gasoline is such an example. People are often fooled into thinking that ‘premium’ gasoline is superior to ‘regular’ gasoline when the reality is – there is very little difference except premium is a slightly higher octane. All this means is that cars whose manuals suggest premium gasoline are higher performance cars whose engines may experience ‘knocking’ from using regular gasoline. This knocking, also known as ‘detonation’ is created when ignition occurs in the cylinders from the compression. This can cause regular gasoline to surge rather than burn slowly, which is the main reason premium is suggested with these types of cars.

Using premium in average cars simply takes away from your wallet and does nothing to improve the engine or keep it running longer.

Along the same subject, gas saving devices are also a consumer scam. These devices, which are built in a variety of different ways, are supposed to reduce the amount of fuel being used. After more than 100 were tested by the EPA, only a very few actually showed any signs of working or slightly reducing fuel consumption. The devices themselves are either designed to pump air in the carburetor, ionize the fuel or magnetize the gasoline itself. As with many things, it sounds complicated so it must work, right? Wrong – it’s simply another scam to get you to spend your money. If you want to cut down on fuel consumption, try walking or car-pooling.

Many people have cell phones now and unfortunately it has become another opportunity for scam artists. Always beware of pre-paid phone card offers as well as fly-by-night service companies. These companies, if they are legitimate at all, will switch your provider without warning as well as adding bogus phone charges. And lets not forget one of the most long running scams of all time… the ‘prize winning lottery’ that magically appears out of nowhere that declares you a winner if you simply fill out some forms – and pay a fee? Really, using common sense will show that you don’t have to pay for money they are giving you!

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Consumer Scams?

The best way to take action against consumer frauds and scams is to report every one possible. There are online agencies as well as the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau’s websites that have sections where scams can be reported. Try to have as much information to give as possible such as the business name, phone numbers, addresses, and any contact names obtained. In many cases the information you have is likely fraudulent as well, but anything you can give might add up to other reports filed. The important thing is to get the truth out there on any platform available.

By doing your own research, you can find lists of scams so you will know what particular ones are presently going around. These lists are updated constantly, and are dependent upon the consumers that report them to stay current. Keeping updated on these fraudulent products and offers goes a long way in preventing more people from being taken in.

No one likes to get ripped off, and the first thing many people want to know when they find out it has happened to them is what can be done.

There are some cases, such as false charities and lotteries that, if tracked down, can be prosecuted by the law for fraudulent practices.

In other cases, the best you can hope to do is get the name out there to make others aware of the company or product.

Unfortunately the ways to rip people off are getting easier and more widespread, but those same tactics can be used to get the right information out there.

The voice of the consumer can carry a lot of weight, but it takes speaking up for that voice to be heard.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2012


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Things You Should Know

Some History of ADHD Diagnosis

Many parents in this day and age are told that their child exhibits symptoms of ADHD or ‘attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder’. The term itself has only been coined within the last few decades, but there have been different names for children exhibiting an extreme difficulty in sitting still or paying attention for many years. Certainly in the 19th century, these symptoms likely showed themselves and were simply referred to as the ‘jitters’. However, as time went on, there became a popular belief that the condition was beyond a person’s control and was an actual medical issue.

As names such as “Post-Encephalitic Behavior Disorder.” began to make their appearance as early as 1922, there seemed to be the problem of what to do or how to treat this condition. These children, while usually very bright, were unable to get work done in a conventional environment. Their behaviors were disruptive, and the possibility that this was not something that could be helped urged the medical profession to find answers. In 1937, the first use of stimulants for treatment of these attention disorders was advocated by Dr. Charles Bradley. This was continued in 1956, when Ritalin became the drug of choice for treating this problem.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

It would be 1980 before the medical profession would coin the phrase Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder after observations indicated other symptoms that went along with difficulty in sitting still.

The inability to focus for any period of time or concentrate on studies and schoolwork has made Ritalin and Adderal two of the most prescribed drugs on the market today.

The controversies surrounding over-diagnosis and the unpleasant side effects of these stimulants on the body has many parents questioning exactly what ADHD is and if the medicines given are even doing any good.

Types And Possible Causes of ADHD

Not all cases of ADHD are the same, as each individual child will have symptoms that act out in different ways. However, there are three main types of Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder that most of those diagnosed fall into. These are:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

1.Predominantly inattentive
2.Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive
3.Predominantly inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive combined

Some are able to sit still but have a very short attention span, while others will veer towards impulsive and hyperactive behavior. The combined type, as its name suggests has aspects of both tendencies. These behaviors are not only disruptive in class, they can be a hindrance in education. Often these children are very smart, but with the behavior challenges, it becomes very difficult to focus long enough to learn.

Even though much research is being done into how this disorder happens in the first place, the actual causes are unknown.

Certain links have been found to such things as low birth weight, premature birth, the use of certain things during pregnancy such as alcohol, excessive caffeine, or cigarettes, and the very real possibility of certain environmental exposures.

Children exposed to lead are at a very high risk for behavior disorders because of its effects on the brain. For this reason, lead testing is routinely done with children under age 6.

Sugar snacks are likely to accelerate the hyperactivity, but there is not enough data to support this being an actual cause. However that is not to say that food isn’t something to be concerned about.

Certain Food Additives May Worsen Symptoms of ADHD

Several studies have been done since the 1970’s about the potential of certain food additives making symptoms of ADHD worse.

Food dyes such as Blue #1 and 2, Green #3, and Red # 3, and the preservative sodium benzoate are found in many of the popular snack and convenience foods that are marketed specifically for children and busy families.

If your child has been diagnosed with any type of ADHD, it is advised that an inventory of foods be taken and as many of these additives as possible eliminated from the diet.

ADHD and Food Additives The Honest Information

Treatments for ADHD

The use of stimulants to treat ADHD has much controversy, and many parents resist giving these drugs to their children. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of such stimulants as Ritalin and Adderall for ages 3 and over. While the numbers do show that there is an improvement in a child with ADHD and their behavior when taking these medications, there are also unpleasant side effects. These can include extreme difficulty in falling asleep, very vivid nightmares, and a significant decrease in appetite. These side effects usually subside, but it often requires several trips to the doctor to adjust dosages. Getting a child on a regiment of medication is a step that some parents would prefer to avoid and in turn, they will look for alternative treatments.

Medicine or Diet?

Dr. Ben Feingold (1899-1982), a California pediatric allergist, strongly believed there was a correlation with food additives and hyperactivity. In the seventies, he devised a plan to eliminate certain foods that contained salicylates (a food preservative) and anything else artificial. The diet has been argued by scientific study, which says there is no evidence proving it works. However, for parents and medical practitioners who deal with this on a daily basis, the Feingold diet has met with a lot of positive feedback.

Whether a parent chooses to go the route of medicine or changing diet (or a combination of both), the important thing to realize is that each child is different – and each case of ADHD is different. What is effective for one may not work with another. There doesn’t seem to be any absolutes when it comes to these behavior disorders, and when it comes down to it – a parent knows what works for their child.

“…Many parents have reported that certain foods seem to make the behavior and impulse control worse. There have been extensive studies done as to the effects of certain foods and especially food additives that may cause a child who is ADHD to have even more trouble paying attention and sitting still…”

From ADHD and Food Additives The Honest Information

Managing ADHD And The Family

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is something that affects the whole family. The impulsive behaviors and excessive energy are a challenge, and the whole situation can feel extremely unfair, especially to other siblings. Brothers and sisters of these children often have to take a back seat to dealing with the symptoms and feel they are expected to ‘help’. There is also guilt when the child acts up under their watch. It is very easy for a family to feel overwhelmed and frustrated unless action is taken to manage ADHD.

First and most important, take care of yourself. The only way a parent is going to be any good for their family is to put their health as a priority. Getting enough rest, making sure you eat right and keep up with your own medical care, and taking time to refocus energy are all crucial and in many cases, not always feasible. Check the local programs in the community, such as Easter Seals. They often have respite programs that allow for a “Parent’s Night Out” where there is child care and appropriate activities for both children with disabilities as well as their siblings. If these are not available, plan shifts for family to take turns so each one has some time to themselves as well. A little organization can go a long way in making life easier for everyone involved.

The most important thing to remember when managing ADHD is to acknowledge the child’s limitations in scheduling and completing projects. Until the child is able to develop these skills on his own, it must be done by the parent or caregiver. Consistent structure in the child’s day and keeping active at appropriate times will promote better sleep at night and the basis to develop these habits on their own.

There are many good resources on the web to check for advise or support groups. There are thousands of parents dealing with this issue, and many have found that comparing notes and offering an understanding point of view has helped more than any treatment. You, as well as your child are not alone.

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2012


Learn How to Read Food Labels

Reading and understanding food labels is essential if you want to maintain good health for you and your family. Most people look at food labels, and instead of making informed, reliable choices, they scratch their heads in befuddlement or consternation.

Placement of Nutrition Facts food labels on most food packaging has been legally mandated by the FDA since 1994. The Nutrition Facts are placed in close proximity to the ingredients list. People should look at packages and expect vertical, horizontal, or abbreviated orientations of the Nutrition Facts.

Master one section of the Nutrition Facts at a time, and it’s not so daunting. Then you’ll know precisely how to read food labels. Here’s a concise overview.

Serving Information

The serving information, positioned at the top of the label, is the precursor to understanding the nutrition facts underneath. What you’ll see are the serving size and the number of servings. The serving size is given in a common, familiar unit of measurement like a cup, tablespoon, or piece, followed by the equivalent metric quantity, i.e., 1 cup (228 grams)

The important thing to keep in mind is that the Nutrition Facts on a package are for a single serving of the food. It’s quite misleading because a person may think that the Nutrition Facts apply to the contents of the whole bag, when, in reality, it applies to only a serving of the food. That’s why it’s imperative to look at what constitutes a serving before looking into the Nutrition facts underneath. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the calories by the number of servings, and that is how much you’ll be getting.

Typical Food Label


Next, let’s peer into the strange, sometimes ominous, world of calories. Science has shown that too much caloric intake has been linked to weight gain and obesity. But how many calories do we really need? Calories are a measure of how much energy we get from food. Thus, nutritionists and weight loss experts have commended us to reduce energy intake (food) and expend more energy (exercise). Some foods actually cost more calories to digest than they give back to the body, i.e., apples and asparagus have negative calories. You can lose weight without doing anything. How many calories you need per day is dependent on your gender, height, energy expended per day, current weight, ideal weight, temperature and a host of other factors.

Online tools can help you reach an ideal weight by asking you these questions and then spitting out the answer of how many calories a day you should eat. If you’re using food labels to manage your weight loss program, avoid the empty calories present in sweets, soft drinks, white rice, margarine, shortening, pizza, tater tots, french fries, and other foods with plenty of energy potential but little or no body-building, cell-supporting nutrients.

Fat Free?

Furthermore, the recent fat-free food trend over the last 10 years has resulted in Americans becoming 33% fatter. Excess sugar is converted to fat, especially in people already overweight. So, in closing, multiply calories by the number of servings and gauge how much sugar there is.

A good answer to the dietary debacles of the modern age is to go back to a diet that made Americans the healthiest in world around the turn of the century. Various forms of this diet are out there, e.g., The Maker’s Diet, Nourishing Traditions, Weston A. Price, etc. and the best online learning library for intelligent nutritional information is at the Weston A Price Foundation website. You’ll never have to read food labels again!

Calories From Fat

So, you may be asking, what are calories from fat? Well, it’s no different from a protein calorie or carbohydrate calorie. They’re just units of energy. However, it’s important to know where calories originate because an excess of bad fats can have serious consequences in body. Most dietitians recommend that no more than 30% of your calories come from fat. That would mean that a 2,000 calorie diet would get 600 calories from fat per day. However, the Inuit of Alaska and Greenland have startlingly low levels of diabetes and heart disease despite a high-fat, high cholesterol diet. The paradox is explained in Sally Fallon’s ground-breaking nutrition treatise and cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.

Suggested Daily Requirements

Moving on, you’ll notice the measurements and recommended daily amounts (represented as a percentage) of fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Wise consumers avoid trans fats because of their devastating consequences for all bodily systems, and several political movements have erupted just to stop their use. Heart disease, cancers, high blood pressure, and stroke have been linked to over-consumption of the wrong fats, so, along with Sodium, these problem elements are prominently displayed. Sodium is not listed along with the other minerals below because most Americans eat way too much of it, and it exacerbates certain health problems.

As opposed to these nutrients you should limit and avoid, especially processed vegetable oil, you should look at the good nutrients on the label like dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Iron.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber slows the movement of sugar into the bloodstream and gives regular bowel movements.

Vitamins are organic micro-nutrients, or vital amines, that are essential in small quantities for the normal and healthy metabolism, growth, and repair of us humans!

Be sure to pay close attention to those food labels and what you eat and make sure you take in plenty enough fiber.

Artificial Vitamins and Minerals and a Connection to Cancer?

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Artificial vitamins and minerals have actually been shown to cause cancer in recent research so I recommend a completely food-based source of vitamins and minerals called PhytoMatrix. All of these nutrients are bioavailable because they’re in a form that we normally find in food.

This article is too succinct to describe the many benefits of individual vitamins, but a very important book on the subject is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a fascinating book that chronicles the life of a dentist as he traveled to isolated tribes all over the world and analyzed their eating habits and diet compared to the incidences of cavities (he was a dentist), diseases, and facial structure. Although the diets were different and a result of region, culture, and scarcity, they all had the same amounts of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, and they were all in excess of a modern European or American diet.

The suggested daily requirements at the bottom of the food label are a good indication of what a person needs with a 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet.

I hope this information has stimulated you to take control of your health, write your congressman, make websites, and spread the word about the insufficiency of food labels for determining proper nutrition!

Copyright 2007-2012 all rights reserved

Society and Culture

Against the Law to Grow Your Own Food?

Gardens of Crime: Does The Government Want To Punish Self-Sufficiency?

Vegetable gardens are something I always remember my grandparents having while I was growing up. Nothing tasted better than the tomatoes and bell peppers that were eaten fresh just moments after they were picked. Still warm from the sun, with all the flavor that nature intended. It is certainly much healthier than the stuff bought in the grocery store! And if you had told me then that there would be any cause for concern or legal ramifications for growing food on property, I would have said to go back to reading science fiction novels. However, some believe that the current laws in place regarding food production are leading this country into the hands of complete government control.

Some have been fined and even jailed for refusing to move their gardens in their own yards!

Home Grown Tomatoes

What on earth? This can’t be happening, this is America! However, while some of the hype is just that… hype… there are some real concerns now about having gardens at home. And of course, it is all done with the words ‘safety first’. Seems like the government likes to decide what is safe and what is not by hiding behind created laws that are based in some need to protect the American citizens from some kind of danger. The Patriot Act after September 11, 2001 was done for ‘our own safety’ and it has resulted in less requirements for search and seizure of properties and vehicles.

Along the same lines is the Food Modernization Act that was introduced two years ago and after a few changes, signed into law by President Obama in January of 2011. This was allegedly done in response to outbreaks of E-Coli that were related to the mishandling of food and food products. It was for our own safety.

All sounds good, doesn’t it? After all these years, we must know that if it sounds too good and it seems like the government cares too much – maybe we should be asking twice as many questions.

Food Safety Modernization Act

In 2009, a bill known as HR 875 was introduced to Congress. This bill, known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was originally proposed by the Democratic Representative of Connecticut, Rosa L. DeLauro in response to the large food poisoning outbreaks of salmonella and E coli that had taken place in recent years. It would require any food production facility to fall under more rigid standards before any product was consumed.

A Food Safety Administration would be implemented within the ranks of the Department of Health and devote its time to the research and prevention of food-borne illness as well as stringent requirements before food passed government inspection. The bill in its original wording did not pass into law, however two modified versions were presented in 2010.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (SB 510) was signed on January 4, 2011 into law – and this has had many who question the government’s motives extremely concerned for the future of self-sufficient gardening.

Do Companies Such as Monsanto Stand to Gain from Laws Geared Toward Not Allowing Home Gardens?

Some of the concerns have been exaggerated, in particular the claim that DeLauro’s marriage to Stanley Greenberg, the CEO of Greenberg/Quinlan Research Inc. put her at odds with the nature of the bill. The speculation was that Monsanto, a huge food and agriculture corporation headquartered in Missouri, had business dealings with Greenberg and the ‘research facility’ was simply a smokescreen for direct dealings with Monsanto. This in turn leads to speculation that Monsanto has a vested interest in this bill to gain a food production monopoly. There is nothing that can conclusively prove this connection and all parties involved have denied having any business dealings for at least a decade. It has also been argued that there is no language in the bill that directly controls the production of organic and home gardening.

Or does it? Many believe that the law is the beginning of the end for the self-sufficient gardener. The fear is that the regulations on food production under this law will attempt to force people to buy only government approved produce. While some rumors of the law have been exaggerated, such as farmer’s market’s being forced to shut down due to impossible regulations (there is nothing whatsoever in the wording that refers to this), there are some legitimate concerns. Even more alarming is that since this law has introduced, real people having to face fines and prosecution.

Cases of Prosecution for Home Gardens

Michelle Obama (

In Oak Park, Michigan during July of 2011, a woman was charged for violating city ordinances by having a vegetable garden in her front yard. Now while many will argue that this is city issue, what was interesting is that in looking at the city ordinance laws, vegetable gardens, especially those neatly kept as this one was, are not in violation.

So are these minor city offenses going to be blown up out of proportion?

The case was dropped against this woman and she did not go to jail over her garden. She plans to continue growing her vegetables and truly believes that the public opinion swayed the DA’s office. People spoke up… because now they are realizing that the threat is not just the ramblings of the conspiracy theorists but rather a step to government control into how we take care of ourselves and our families.

After all, if Michelle Obama can plant vegetables in the front lawn of the White House to promote childhood health, why can’t everyone?

Another case in Georgia involved a man growing vegetables in his back yard. The city issued an ordinance violation, saying that his garden was ‘too large’. He was given a fine of $5,000 for the crime of growing his own food and selling the surplus. According to the ordinance, there is a ‘fine line’ between growing food commercially and growing for personal use. This happened in 2010, before the Food Safety Modernization Act became law, but during the time of the changes being made to the original legislation. Is it simply a coincidence that these cases are coming to light since its introduction?

The danger here is taking every case that is a city violation and stretching the circumstances to make it fit a conspiracy. But even more dangerous is simply putting our heads in the sand and saying that there is absolutely no connection and that the law does not have any real concern to self-sufficiency.

Anytime the government steps in for ‘our own good’, the guard should be up and we should question what is being done for our supposed protection.

Genuine Concerns About Growing Your Own Food

At this time, the only criminal charges for having a home garden have fallen under city ordinances that for some reason are being enforced now more than ever. The timing of that, if nothing else, has people in an uproar about the future of self-sufficiency. However, we must also be aware that there is more focus on those cases than there used to be because of this bill. And yes, it is very interesting that a highly publicized case of an attempt to prosecute a gardener came to light a mere six months after the bill had been signed into law, but if the law were not an issue – how far would the news have gotten? Are we looking too hard for examples?

The true concern with this law as it stands now is that the smaller farmer is going to be at a disadvantage financially. If only supplies and pesticides that are government approved are allowed for farming, what will happen to the organic farmer? Many of these food producers are not going to be in the same financial position to cover the costs and fees that will be in place to have an established government-approved farm. Some believe that this is simply a quiet, unassuming way to gain control and power over those who want to be as self sufficient as possible as well as putting the organic farmer out of business.

The voices from the government are whispering in our ears to ‘hush now – all is well and it is for your own good’. But how is a government agency being in that much power of food production a good thing?

Why are ordinances that have not been enforced in years suddenly a bigger priority?

And why does the safety of our country from foreign terrorists always factor in to the propaganda when it is hawked for approval?

Keeping rainwater in barrels is illegal in some states.

Saving seeds has come under intimidation. An example would be Monsanto not allowing the farmers in Missouri to save their soybean seeds, saying that it violated ‘seed privacy’.

And now a law that will only benefit large business food production while cracking down on the farmers who can’t pay to get around the loopholes.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2012

Improve Your Neighborhood! Plant a garden