Gardening · Homesteading

The Tin Foil Hat Farmer: Maybe We Are Not Crazy

About a year ago I wrote a post on food allergies here, and for it I received a lot of hate back from a few who saw the post on social media. This year I spent this weekend at an annual conference for food allergies and social media, and came back angered from comments I read online, and heard, while I was there concerning the connection between Big Ag and health issues – and these people denying any connection. But that isn’t a bad thing, rather it left me feeling fired up. And honestly, that is where a lot of what I do comes from. Take the ignorance and shine light on it. Asking people to question conventional thinking.

I am firmly a tin foil hat farmer.

I have no shame in my game. Much of what we do in our lives, we do for our youngest son, Alistaire. I get very fired up when I talk about how much farming has changed our lives, and my intense hatred of large agricultural chemical companies. I will bore you with why we organic farm. I will get snippy if you tell me that organic food isn’t worth it (as in grown regionally, whole food, not processed foods).

While at the conference I was approached by at least a dozen people who asked about our homesteading/farm. That we had made the jump, and how they want to do what we are doing. These people get it. They look at their urban lives and realize it is unhealthy to them, and how do they make that jump to the beyond. For that, I could talk all day, with passion. I will tell you how to start, what to grow, how to harvest rainwater, to get electricity from the sky. I’ll tell you how to bake bread, how to use essential oil. What I was asked was how did we make that leap, why did we do it? Some are awoke and want to the jump as well.

But then I sit and listen to those who have never farmed a day in their lives (or even gardened) dismiss the connection between how our food is grown, and auto immune/GI issues. And that is when the tin foil hat slips on. If you are suffering from symptoms, diseases and disorders, you have already spent so much money, time, and hope on being healed – with no answers – but then you mock those who talk publicly about how they feel the heavy use of lab engineered broad spectrum herbicides and fungicides could be part of the issue? Why would you not at least give it credence and study why these people feel that way? When nothing else has helped, sometimes you must ask the larger questions.

I firmly believe that the rise in food allergies, asthma, GI issues, eczema and Celiac is due to how the food supply is handled by Big Ag, rather than the food itself. And that by becoming self-sufficient, we can become healthier. You have to be willing to open your eyes, and face the very scary reality that Big Ag cares nothing about YOU. They are there only to optimize profits for shareholders. Ask yourself “Should I be eating fresh grapes in December from Chile?” Or how is it that some allergy suffers can consume naturally grown allergens with no reaction? For example, our son can eat fresh peas with no issue, that we grow. Yet, commercially grown peas used in pea protein react like peanuts in him. However, in a recent read I found out that most pea protein contains both the peas AND the shells. And the shell is where most of the residue hangs out (hence why removing peels is so important in fruit and vegetables that are standard grown).But…if you grow it yourself, your shells are edible and clean. Another issue is the rampant use of fungicides. Many people have what feels like an oral allergy when eating fresh strawberries and raspberries. The issue is multiple problems: Under ripe fruit. Out of season. And heavy fungicides. However, when they consume locally grown, in season and raised without any fungicides (even commercially grown organic strawberries use fungicides in their production), those berries cause no issues. It isn’t the dirt on produce you should fear – it is what has been used on it.

Adjusting my foil hat a bit I will say it: I feel peanut allergies have grown due to peanuts being so dirty. Fungicides are used heavily in commercial crops. (Google “Fungicides and peanuts” and see what comes back…it’s all agricultural) Fungicides are used to control aflatoxins, which show up in peanuts, maize, grains, soybeans and tree nuts in particular. The problem is, the fungicides do help with these crops – to be commercially viable and “safe” to sell. However, what are the side effects to yet be uncovered? When we eat these staple crops, like corn, wheat, soy and nuts in large quantities, how much of those fungicides are building up in the GI tract, causing inflammation that spreads across the body?

Consider this: 

Ten companies control the majority of the food we eat in the world. Your “choices” you see in grocery stores are not actually choices, but rather those companies using you and your emotional state. In the past decade these companies have gone on major buying sprees, buying up small food companies, particularly in the organic, natural and specialty diets. This chart was done 3 to 4 years ago, and now even more companies are under the wings. I just read this morning another gluten-free bread company was bought. And of course “nothing will change”. But it will. It has to, to be more efficient. Besides this chart, see here for one on natural and organic companies (from 2013, so it isn’t up to date).

Because the harsh reality is most people in Western countries have quaint ideas what farms look like. It’s a messy rural place, right? With old timey weathered barns, chickens, and a rusty tractor cutting the land. Add in some morning fog with the sun cutting through…..It’s where you go in October to ride hay rides and pick pumpkins.

When it isn’t. It is thousands of acres of land, done on timed schedules, operated by college educated business people, where the seeds are patented, the chickens belonging to Big Ag, and the farmers are legally contracted to raise the crops and animals exactly how they are told to – and use what chemicals and feed they are contractually told to use. Because of the cost of the tractors and machines, they are highly in debt and have to seek out these contracts. In many cases the farms own the tractors but cannot remove or change the computer as it is owned by the manufacturer (it being a reason we don’t own a green tractor….)

Those who can afford it, they can eat slightly healthier choices (for them and the planet) from these 10 companies, but even then they are still consuming so many agricultural byproducts, wether or not it is organic. Big Ag is why grocery stores exist, and why we can exist and eat food we “cook” but actually just follow a set of steps, pulling processed food together.

Truth is:

If you want food that is clean, that could reverse health issues, you must learn to grow it yourself. You don’t have to grow all your food, but start with at least something. Let it consume you. For you will know where it came from and what went into it. The second step is saving seeds, so that you can be even more free.

At minimum you must find food growers who are not cutting corners.

Source out the independents that are holding on. The wheat grower who is raising heritage wheat and sells it online – and who is happy to have you visit their farm. Or the farm that is growing with organic practices but isn’t certified, but is happy to show you how they do it – support their CSA and eat in season. Research all brands you consume to see who owns them. You will find you buy less and less at the grocery store. Ask the farmers you buy from who do they buy their bulk unprocessed foods from?

And you might feel better, over time. It won’t be instant. And I cannot guarantee it will make any difference. But it might. And when you have no answers and no doctors helping you, what do you have to lose? For years our co-pays were horrible, going from specialist to specialist with him. When a pediatric nutritionist looks at his chart and tells you they have nothing to recommend and PAYING for that visit. The GI doctor who looks for medical issues to diagnose (Celiac, etc) but there isn’t any in him – making a 5-year-old child go through unneeded x-rays, blood work, invasive procedures. Yet, the “safe foods” were still making him sick in his GI tract. Instead, how about inflammation due to the chemicals on the food? Crazy. Yet….now I wonder more every day. I am not the only one. There are many of us asking that question. When I slip and use easy products the problems come back.

And that is why we moved. Why one day we jumped in a leap of faith and bought our land. We couldn’t get any answers, and he was developing new food allergies every year. Now, we are at 2 years out from any new ones, his numbers have gone down on all of them. His skin is even healthier and his asthma is on the low-end. So can I prove it scientifically? Of course I cannot. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Because for me it does exist. And soon it will be fully there.