More News About Glyphosate in Food

bowl of oatmeal My husband shared an article with me yesterday from our local ABC affiliate.  The article claimed that “unsafe” levels of a common weed killer, glyphosate, were found in a number of oat products like cereals, granola bars, and oatmeal.  (You can read the article here.)

While the basic gist of the article may not be surprising to those of us who’ve had our eye on the whole Roundup (glyphosate) issue, some interesting things jumped out at me immediately when I read through the piece.  First, and probably most shocking to me personally was the detectable amounts of Roundup that were found in “organic” products.  Tests were performed on 16 “organic” products, and 5 of them came back with Roundup contamination! How did this happen?

Most of us know about “Roundup-ready” corn and soybeans.  These are crops that are genetically engineered to grow despite being sprayed with glyphosate.  A number of folks don’t know, however, about Roundup’s use with non-GMO cereal crops.  Crops like wheat (and apparently barley and oats) are sprayed with Roundup just prior to harvest so that the plants die and dry at the same time.  This allows farmers to harvest their crops quicker thus earning more money over a growing season.

My assumption was, however, that “organic” foods should be free of glyphosate.  After all, organic practices don’t allow farmers to spray their crops with the stuff.  That isn’t how it has worked out in reality though apparently.  With so many farmers using Roundup, it is apparently pretty tough to avoid cross-contamination at processing plants, and since crops are grown in nature, we can’t eliminate the risk of Roundup being carried by the wind.

What does this mean for us? Well, it means that when we’re talking about cereal grains, buying organic doesn’t mean we’re buying glyphosate-free products.  So folks who think they’re being “healthy” by eating their oatmeal every day are getting a nice dose of weed killer with their food.  YUM!

Another part of the discussion involved glyphosate and cancer risk.  Personally, as much as I’d like to hate on Monsanto and Roundup, I haven’t decided what I think about glyphosate and cancer.  What I have decided is that it’s not good for me, and I don’t want to be eating it on a routine basis.  I’ve seen studies that link it to gut permeability issues, and that’s enough to give me concerns about something that’s supposedly safe enough to drink and eat.

Something else that also surprised me was the fact that the FDA has been testing foods for glyphosate levels for two years now, but they haven’t wanted to share the results.  Even when requests were made through the Freedom of Information Act, the most we got from the FDA was acknowledgement that “a fair amount” of glyphosate was found in their testing.  So helpful, right?

This article has definitely given me a reason to think about a few things though.  While I believe that grains of all kinds aren’t meant to be human food, this doesn’t change the fact that I need to buy grain.  I feed it to my livestock, and I pay a premium for transition grains from my feed mill.  This means that I’m buying grains that are farmed with “organic” practices, but they can’t yet be certified as organic because of waiting periods and the like.  Avoiding glyphosate is the number one reason that I’ve opted for the transition grains, but is that really what’s happening here? It’s hard to say.

Now, I won’t get all excited about glyphosate amounts that are 20 or 30 parts per billion because of cross-contamination, but I don’t like it, and it’d be nice if there were a way around it that wasn’t prohibitively expensive.  For now though, I’m just keeping in mind that knowledge is power, and hopefully there’ll be a point where my children can get food that isn’t contaminated by weed killer.

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Get Rid of Poison Ivy Naturally

If I told you that I knew how to get rid of poison ivy without spraying or digging, would you be interested? Would you believe that it really is as simple as giving the plant a “vinegar IV”? How’s that for “natural”? And it couldn’t be easier to do!

Last year, we had some wicked poison ivy growing on the north side of our house.  It had climbed the siding to the roof, and it had also managed to grow inside our enclosed front porch.  Yes, that’s right, we had poison ivy growing INSIDE!

My husband is pretty allergic to the stuff, and the prospect of manual removal wasn’t something he wanted to face.  And since this plant was so vast, we didn’t think spraying it would work, so he hatched an idea.  He decided to give the entire plant a vinegar IV.

He grabbed a 32-oz sports drink bottle and he drilled two holes in the lid.  Then he filled it with vinegar, put the cap back on, and took it outside.  After looking at the poison ivy for a minute or two, he cut the plant near the ground.  He shoved the root side stem end into one of the holes in the lid, and he shoved the plant end stem in the other hole.  Then, he used some low temp hot glue to seal around the holes in the lid, and he inverted the bottle.  It really was that simple!

Now, some folks might wonder why he worried about the part of the plant that he had severed from the root system.  Yes, it probably would have died on its own, but because we’re not very experienced with plants, we weren’t sure if new plant would propagate from the plant matter that had climbed our house and grown into the gutter and enclosed porch.  And since it didn’t really hurt anything to make that second hole, Fred figured he was giving us a little extra insurance.

In the end though, his idea was pure genius because over the next couple days, the entire plant died and it never came back!

The beauty of Fred’s idea was that we didn’t have to mix gallons of product to apply to the entirety of the plant with the hope that it might knock it back enough to kill it.  Obviously, we didn’t want to have to spray anything on the plant that was growing inside our porch, and past experience with natural sprays or big Big Ag herbicides proved mostly ineffective over the long haul.  Using the vinegar IV had no unintended consequences though as we directly targeted the plant that needed to go bye-bye.  It really was a beautiful thing!

Granted, this was an N=1 experiment.  We haven’t had the chance to try it on other plants around the property.  But its simplicity means that if we have a situation like that again, we can give the vinegar IV another try to collect more data points.  For that one plant though, Fred’s strategy worked where nothing else had.

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Product Review: K&H Poultry Waterer

The K&H 2.5 Gallon Poultry Waterer is definitely the best poultry waterer we’ve used to date here at the homestead! So far, it’s working beautifully in the brooder, and I predict many seasons of use from this product.

We’ve used a lot of poultry watering solutions on the homestead since we started keeping chickens back in 2012 or so.  We’ve used bowls, buckets, poultry fountains, nipples, and cups, and they’ve all worked to varying degrees of success.  This year though, we seem to have hit the jackpot when it comes to a watering solution for a lot of birds who seem bent on killing themselves in one way or another.

This is our first year raising guineas and turkeys.  I’d heard stories about guinea keets being fragile and turkey poults trying to kill themselves, but I thought I could stay ahead of their suicidal tendencies.

We started with some guinea keets and some chickens in the brooder.  The idea was to have some birds around that could teach the poults how to live.  We started with your standard poultry fountain waterer, and that seemed to work well.  When we added the turkey poults to the brooder though, disaster was unleashed! Within hours of those birds going into the brooder, we found ourselves drying birds who were trying to swim in the waterer.  Clearly, that wasn’t going to work for their long-term survival.

We had some pea gravel on hand, so we added that to the waterer and that solved our problem temporarily, but then I got to thinking.  How on Earth were we going to change out the water with all that gravel in there?

Fortunately, the small birds didn’t empty the waterer that first day, so I sent Fred to our local Rural King to grab some K&H Chick Saver Blocks and the waterer with which they were meant to be used.  I figured the chick saver blocks were going to make our life much easier, but I didn’t realize how awesome the waterer was too!

It was the chick saver blocks that drew me to the waterer in the first place.  They’re specially cut foam pieces that fit in the waterer so baby birds can’t try to go swimming in the waterer.  They serve the same purpose as the gravel, but my thinking was that they’d be a lot easier to remove.  Little did I know until Fred came home with the waterer though how easy it would truly be.

My favorite feature of the K&H poultry waterer is the removable ring that makes cleaning a breeze! The waterer features a ring that sits in the water trough.  If the messy little babies get bedding in the waterer, you simply lift the ring out of the trough, discard the bedding, and replace the ring.  You don’t have to try and scoop nasty bedding and poo out of the waterer, or even worse, you don’t have to waste water by dumping the entire contents so you can clean it.

Another feature that I love is the removable water tank.  The 2.5-gallon tank works like those bottles that folks use with water coolers.  It has a cap on the bottom that is water tight until you install the tank on the base.  It also means that minimal water is lost if you’re removing the tank for some reason while there’s water still inside it.

Even better, the top is designed with what they call a “no roost” top, and it appears to be working because there are no signs of either the chickens or the guineas roosting on it.

I haven’t dreaded dealing with watering chores, and what’s more, I’m looking forward to winter because K&H also makes a heated model — the K&H Thermo-Poultry Waterer.

There are a couple downsides worth mentioning.  I will likely have to get more waterers as the turkeys get bigger to ensure that the birds have sufficient water.  Also, this product works amazingly well in our homemade brooder, but it definitely takes up more space than most chick waterers.  I’m fine with that considering the heartache it saved me when the turkeys were trying to drown themselves, but it might be an issue for some folks.

Overall though, we’re extremely happy with our purchase and I look forward to using more of these around the homestead.

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The Best Cold Brew Coffee EVER!

I’ve been drinking coffee from my friend Nicole over at Holler Roast Coffee for months now, and it’s fantastic any way you fix it! Cold brew has been my preparation method of choice lately though, so I thought I’d do a quick blog post about it.

Cold brew coffee has been popular for a while now, and I can see why.  It’s less acidic, and to me, the flavor profile is more rounded without bitter or flat notes.  Now, if you’re starting with a fantastic coffee like Holler Roast, you wouldn’t think that you could make it better, but trust me, you can.

cold brew coffee steeping with a cup ready to enjoySo how do I make it? First, I gather my supplies.  I brew mine in a half-gallon Ball jar with a special filter that fits down inside the jar.  (Mine came from Aliexpress, so I don’t have an Amazon link for one with which I have experience.)

Next, I add one cup (about three ounces) of medium ground Holler Roast, and I fill the jar to the top with filtered water.  Then I put the lid on my jar, I put the jar on the counter, and I wait.

How long does it take to make good cold brew coffee? Well, I’ve had cold brew that I’ve consumed after about twelve hours of steeping, and I’ve had cold brew that’s steeped for closer to twenty-four hours.  The shorter you steep your coffee, the less concentrated the end product will be.  Personally, I usually let mine go for twenty to twenty-four hours, and that seems to be the sweet spot for us.

After the coffee is done steeping, I pull the filter out of the jar and stick the coffee in the fridge.  When I want some, I pour it over a cup of ice and I enjoy every last sip!

I love drinking my cold brew black.  Sometimes I’ll add a dash of sugar-free flavored syrup, and this morning, I tried it with a fresh sprig of chocolate mint from my “pot garden”.

Yes, you have to wait to try it the first time, but if you have two jars, you can have one jar steeping while you’re drinking the other jar.

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Going Keto: Update for 06/22/18

I’m guessing that those of you following my keto journey thought I’d fallen off the face of the planet — or fallen off the wagon at the very least. Admittedly, I have been struggling, but I’m not out of the fight.

Today marks 41 weeks since recommitting to a low-carb keto way of eating. The last two months or so have been a struggle, and I did it to myself. I know that. By sharing my experiences though, I’m hoping that I can help others or at least encourage folks.

At the end of April, I was preparing foods to take to a workshop in Tennessee. I made cinnamon rolls and homemade caramels. Neither of these items had been an issue for me previously in my keto journey, but this time, things were different. I managed to stay clear of the cinnamon rolls, but I ate a few caramels over the week of the workshop. Then, those caramels allowed me to justify other foods, and before I knew it, I was eating off plan at least once a week.

What made things worse was the fact that I was losing weight. I was so close to the 240 mark that I could taste it, so it was easy for me to allow myself to be less strict. I ate pizza, fried ice cream, nachos, and a few sandwiches with bread. For some, it might not sound like that big of a deal, but for me, it became a real problem. Over the last two weeks, I found myself having trouble making it through the day without eating at least one food that was off plan.

So this morning, I got back on the scale. In two weeks, I had gained over seven pounds, and I was dancing dangerously close to the 250 mark again. I haven’t been in the 250s since March, and because it is so hard for me to make the scale move down, I had a stern talk with myself.

This seems to be a pattern for me. When I get to the point where I’ve lost 40 to 50 pounds, I hit a plateau and I get discouraged. Then I start tweaking things and I usually start to make bad choices. It always starts out as, “Just this once. I’ve lost 45 pounds and my blood work is amazing, so…” In the end though, it never goes well. And since I’m bound and determined for this to be the last time that I lose this weight, I have to get a handle on things posthaste.

For me, I guess it’s more of a psychological game than anything else. It’s a matter of setting boundaries and not going past them. I know what to do with my food; I just have to wrap my head around making those choices for the rest of my life. I can do this. I will do this. What I do matters!

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Turkey Tales: Poults at the Homestead

turkey poults & guinea keets in brooderFor years now, we’ve been wanting to raise turkeys at the homestead. We didn’t have the infrastructure, so we kept putting it off. After a fantastic work weekend with a friend from Tennessee though, we had ourselves a hoop coop, and we were ready!

I ordered 25 white turkey poults from Hoover’s Hatchery, and they arrived at my post office two days after they shipped. I’ve never had birds shipped from a hatchery before, so this was a new experience for me. And given my troubles with my post office, I was expecting challenges. Surprisingly enough though, everything went smoothly and we brought home a cardboard box filled with 25 noisy, hungry babies.

We have no experience with turkey poults, so this whole thing is a little anxiety provoking for me. I’ve heard all these tales about how turkeys are suicidal and they find the dumbest ways to kill themselves, so I’m prepared for losses. So far, so good though.

Because of a suggestion I got from Facebook, I had planned to brood the turkeys alongside some meat chickens. For now though, the poults are in a brooder with guinea keets that are probably a week old at this point. At the moment, that arrangement seems to be working out OK.

I know we have so much to learn, and I think we’re all looking forward to the experience. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more turkey tales to come!

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My N=1 Fasting Experiment: Day 2

Day two of my extended fasting experiment was a lot more challenging than I expected.  It wasn’t horrible.  It wasn’t even bad.  It certainly was challenging though.

Before this experiment, I had two extended fasts under my belt.  One fast lasted for about 55 hours and the second lasted right at 48 hours.  This means that I’ve been through day two three times now, and the third time was definitely the most challenging for me.  Maybe it was because I consumed nothing but peppermint water this time where in the past, I consumed Bulletproof Coffee as needed.  Or maybe it was because my last “meal” before the fast wasn’t that substantial.  Either way, yesterday, I found myself experiencing a lot more hunger and food focus.

I did notice something interesting though.  My daughter cooked an amazing keto meal of eggs with cheese and homemade guacamole.  It smelled so appealing.  Later though when my boys baked brownies, I wasn’t triggered at all.  They didn’t smell good to me, and they didn’t trigger any food focus.  I guess I’ve been keto for so long now that my body knows the difference between food and carbage.

On the morning of day two, my stats looked like this:

  • Weight: 250.6
  • Blood Pressure: 128/85
  • Pulse: 86
  • Blood Glucose: 81 mg/dL
  • Blood Ketones: 3.1 mmol/L

I was happy to see my blood sugar come down yesterday.  My blood pressure was a little higher than usual, but I’m pretty sure I forgot to take my blood pressure meds the previous day.  (I take 5mg of lisinopril daily, and my hope is that once I get my weight down, I’ll be able to do away with that all together.)

I’m very excited to see what day three holds for me!

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My N=1 Fasting Experiment: Day 1

For over 27 weeks, I’ve been on a transformation journey of weight loss and health gains using a low-carb, ketogenic diet.  Thanks to Jimmy Moore, Dr. Jason Fung, and the support of many others in various online communities, I’ve taken my journey to the next level with fasting.  Experiencing amazing results, I decided to jump on board with an extended fast, and this series of blog posts will chronicle my experiences.

Jimmy Moore put a call out on social media that encouraged folks to join him in a seven-day fast where participants would consume nothing but water and salt.  He also suggested that folks make it “stress free” by taking no biometrics — no weight, no blood tests, no measurements of any kind.  While I like the concept in theory, that’s not how I’ll be proceeding with my fast.

I finished my supper on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 9:00pm.  I’m counting March 20th as “day 1”.

On the morning of day one, my stats looked like this:

  • Weight: 251.8
  • Blood Pressure: 113/76
  • Pulse: 86
  • Blood Glucose: 107 mg/dL
  • Blood Ketones: 2.1 mmol/L

Then, yesterday evening, I had my daughter take measurements and progress photos.

  • Hips: 54″
  • Waist: 45″
  • Bust: 48″

progress photo of Sarah standing in front of doorprofile photo of Sarah facing left

So how did day one go overall? Well, I was definitely hungrier than I’ve been in the past on day one of an extended fast.  I attribute that to the fact that I didn’t feast before starting my fast because I was having all sorts of gut distress (which is part of what prompted this fast.) I did use some butter and MCT oil in coffee yesterday, but I’m perfectly OK with that “crutch” as some people call it.

I also had some reflux at the end of day one.  Reflux isn’t usual for me when I’m eating keto, but as I said earlier, something triggered GI issues (even though I didn’t eat anything that I haven’t eaten many times before.) I really think fasting will give my digestive system a well-deserved break.  That’s the hope, anyway.

I’m definitely excited to share my progress.  I’m looking forward to feeling better for sure!

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Episdoe 13: Going Keto Update for Week 25

This episode of The Claiming Liberty Podcast is a great one! I share my success in my keto journey after shaking things up with fasting!

Download the episode now!

Although I have lost weight and gained health since starting my journey back in September of 2017, my progress seemed to hit a stall point.  I had been bouncing around the same five or six pounds for weeks and weeks, and the tape measure hadn’t really moved either.  Rather than giving up, I started thinking about new strategies.

I talked with some folks on one of the Facebook support groups of which I’m a member, and I heard stories that seemed just like mine.  Two stories in particular stuck out to me.  Both folks got things moving again with intermittent fasting (IF), and I thought it was worth a shot.

I won’t spoil anything from the podcast, but needless to say, the strategy was successful for this week anyway.  It’s definitely something that I’ll continue in the future!

Also, for those of you who’re interested, I took some progress pictures this week.  We didn’t do measurements, but I did get the pictures nonetheless.

Sarah standing in front of a door wearing shorts and a tank topprofile of Sarah facing left while standing in front of a door

Also, I forgot to mention it on the podcast, but I’ll share it here.  The podcast is now on Stitcher! I’m going to get some sighted help to crack the nut that is iTunes, but at least it’s on Stitcher!

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Episode 12: Early Spring, Sprouts (Again) and LED Bulbs

public domain image of a butterflySpring seems to have arrived early at the Wittekind homestead and much of Episode 12 of The Claiming Liberty Podcast focuses on that fact.  The warm weather inspired me to grow something, so I started some black oil sunflower seed sprouts and I purchased some LED bulb replacements.  A grow rack is definitely in my future.

Also, I share some thoughts on an absolutely wonderful day that I shared with my husband yesterday.  His company being bought means that he has a different holiday schedule, and yes, he didn’t have to go to work on President’s Day.  Agree with it or not, I had one of the best days I’ve had in a long time yesterday, and it was all the little things that made it grand!

Download and listen to Episode 12 of The Claiming Liberty Podcast now!

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