Friday, February 26, 2010

Mom's Diet During Pregnancy May Alter Infant's Allergies

Mom's Diet During Pregnancy May Alter Infant's Allergies

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 19 - Eating lots of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy may lower the chance of having a baby with certain allergies, hint study findings from Japan.

Greater intake of green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruit, and veggies and fruits high in beta carotene may lessen the risk of having a baby with eczema, Dr. Yoshihiro Miyake at Fukuoka University and colleagues found.

Foods high in vitamin E similarly may lessen the risk of having a wheezy infant, they reported online January 22nd in Allergy.

Beta carotene and vitamin E are two of many antioxidants thought to benefit health. But prior investigations of maternal antioxidant intake and childhood allergies offered conflicting findings. This area of research "is still developing," Dr. Miyake noted in an email to Reuters Health.

In the current study, Dr. Miyake's team evaluated vegetable and fruit intake during pregnancy in 763 women, as well as eczema or allergic wheeze in their infants.

The women were 30 years old on average and about 17 weeks pregnant at enrollment.. When their babies were between 16 and 24 months old, the women provided birth and breastfeeding history, number of older siblings, and exposure to smoke.

The team found that 21% of the youngsters wheezed or had a "whistling in the chest in the last 12 months," and fewer than 19% had eczema.

According to the investigators, mothers who ate greater amounts of green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruits, or beta carotene while pregnant were less apt to have an infant with eczema.

For example, after allowing for other eczema risk factors, eczema was more common among infants whose mothers ate the least versus the most green and yellow vegetables - 54 and 32 infants, respectively.

Likewise, higher intake of vitamin E during pregnancy was associated a reduced likelihood of having a wheezy infant -- a finding that supports previous investigations from the U.S. and U.K.

Boosting intake of green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruits, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin E among pregnant women "deserves further investigation as measures that would possibly be effective in the prevention of allergic disorders in the offspring," the researchers conclude.

Reuters Health Information © 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010


“Who brought their own wheelbarrow?” Rob Jones asked the group of 20-somethings gathered on a muddy North Carolina farm on a chilly January Sunday. Hands shot up and wheelbarrows were pulled from pickups sporting Led Zeppelin and biodiesel bumper stickers, then parked next to a mountain of soil. “We need to get that dirt into those beds over there in the greenhouse,” he said, nodding toward a plastic-roofed structure a few hundred feet away. “The rest of you can come with me to move trees and clear brush to make room for more pasture. Watch out for poison ivy.”

Bobby Tucker, the 28-year-old co-owner of Okfuskee Farm in rural Silk Hope, looked eagerly at the 50-plus volunteers bundled in all manner of flannel and hand-knits. In five hours, these pop-up farmers would do more on his fledgling farm than he and his three interns could accomplish in months. “It’s immeasurable,” he said of the gift of same-day infrastructure.

It’s the beauty of being Crop Mobbed.

The Crop Mob, a monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon, has taken its traveling work party to 15 small, sustainable farms. Together, volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 person-hours, doing tasks like mulching, building greenhouses and pulling rocks out of fields.

“The more tedious the work we have, the better,” Jones said, smiling. “Because part of Crop Mob is about community and camaraderie, you find there’s nothing like picking rocks out of fields to bring people together.”

The affable, articulate Jones, 27, is part of the group’s grass-roots core, organizing events and keeping them moving. The Mob was formed during a meeting about issues facing young farmers, during which an intern declared that better relationships are built working side by side than by sitting around a table. So one day, 19 people went to Piedmont Biofarm and harvested, sorted and boxed 1,600 pounds of sweet potatoes in two and a half hours. A year later, the Crop Mob e-mail list has nearly 400 subscribers, and the farm fests now draw 40 to 50 volunteers.

The Crop Mob works well partly because the area around Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham is so rich in small-scale, sustainable farms, and the sustainable-agriculture program at Central Carolina Community College draws students from across the nation who stay put after graduation.

One of the biggest issues facing sustainable agriculture is that it’s “way, way, way more labor-intensive than industrial agriculture,” Jones said. “It’s not sustainable physically, and it’s not sustainable for people personally: they’re working all the time and don’t have an opportunity to have a social life. So I think Crop Mob brings that celebration to the work, so that you get that sense of community that people are looking for, and you get a lot of work done. And we have a lot of fun.”

“It’s good to get off the farm you’re farming,” said Jennie Rasmussen, a 25-year-old Indiana native who traded an office job for community gardening before moving to the area to farm. “It’s great to meet other people who have the same challenges and just network and build community.”

“Networking” and “building community” popped up in almost every conversation I had that day, and it never came across as slick or earnest. Both have real context here, as these mostly farmless farmers hear about internships, learn about affordable land and find potential dates. For those who don’t farm, it’s a way to explore getting their fingernails dirty. One woman, who recently moved to the area from New Jersey after losing her job in the financial-services industry, was eager to plug in to the vibrant local food scene. “I’m trying not to hinder the effort,” she said with a laugh as she distributed twigs on a h├╝gelkultur bed made from dead trees.

The farmer Trace Ramsey, who is part of the Mob core as well as its documentarian, has watched the young-farmer phenomenon explode. “People are interested in authentic work,” he said. “I think they’re tired of what they’ve been told they should accomplish in their life, and they’re starting to realize that it’s not all that exciting or beneficial from a community perspective or an individual perspective.” At 36, Ramsey joked that he’s the old man of the project — remarkable considering the average American farmer is 57. But as people of all ages become involved, he said, “what started as a young-farmer movement is just becoming a farmer movement.”

By the end of the afternoon, the transformation was remarkable. The towering piles of soil and mulch had dwindled to child’s height. The greenhouse beds were filled and the walls framed out by older volunteers who knew what to do with the table saw. The Tamworth pigs had a new fenced-in grazing area to uproot. Thickets and trees were removed from the edge of a field, a bonfire built from the haul. Garden rows were tidied while someone sang. And the h├╝gelkultur beds were handsomely finished. The dreary mess of winter had been cleared to make way for a well-ordered spring.

There was even time for a pecan-tree-planting demo before the buffet lunch. (Farmers are required only to feed the workers; no money is exchanged.) Tucker, bleary from exhaustion, thanked the smiling gang. The group then threw around ideas for which farm should be Mobbed next. When it was agreed that a volunteer’s employer would win the reciprocal-labor lottery, she hopped around in excitement.

The idea is catching on, Jones said. Requests for advice on starting mini-Mobs have come in from around the state. Two Crop Mobbers are traveling to Spain to talk to farmers. In cities, Jones added, there’s no reason that backyard and community gardeners can’t mob, too. Because anywhere there’s dirt, a community can grow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mia and Grace ~~ Great Restaurant in Muskegon

Just wanted to let everyone know that Mia & Grace will start serving dinners on March 3rd, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. If you haven't heard of Mia & Grace you need to check them out. They are located in downtown Muskegon on Third Street. They purchase from local food sources as much as they can.

Let them know you saw this on our blog!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CSA Update soon!

We will get our CSA info up on the blog soon. Seeds are purchased and I'm getting the early things planted. We have a lot of plans, just haven't finalized anything yet.

Greenhouse work

I planted 144 cells of celery and 288 cells of celeriac today. Whoohoo! Lots of tiny tiny seeds, 1 per cell. It was hard to do even with my reading glasses on. They take about 3 weeks to sprout, and have to grow for 10-12 weeks before transplanting outdoors.

Onions are sprouted and growing well. And a few lettuces and other greens are growing. I have a lot more to plant in the next week.


A band of radicals

Along with their usual rations of grain and prepared feed, factory-farmed hogs and chickens in the United States also dine on a steady diet of antibiotics. The animals are given the drugs, not to prevent or cure illness, but simply because low-level doses of antibiotics stimulate them to grow faster than untreated animals. This may be good for agribusiness’s bottom lines, but an increasing body of research shows that it might be very bad for public health.

Several scientific examinations of pork and poultry operations in this country have shown that anti-microbial-resistant “superbugs” such as flesh-eating methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and certain tough-to-kill strains of E. coli are showing up, not only in farm animals, but in the humans who tend them—and even in members of their families who don’t work on the farms.

Now, a group of researchers at Boston University has discovered a mechanism that causes these superbugs to develop. It could mean that the problem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria is even worse than previously imagined. Their results are reported in the current issue of the journal Molecular Cell.

In earlier studies, the scientists had found that drugs which kill bacteria do so in part by stimulating the production of free radicals in those bacteria—not unlike the ones in humans that contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other maladies. However, when antibiotics are administered to the bacteria at low levels, as they are on factory farms, instead of killing the bugs, the free radicals cause genetic mutations—far more than would normally occur. Some of those mutations lead to new strains of bacteria that can survive what were once-lethal doses of drugs.

“Our work indicates that it is much more dangerous than previously thought,” said Jim Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering and one of the paper’s authors. “The low-level antibiotics are boosting up the mutation rate and not killing off the bacteria. As result, you have created a zoo of mutants.”

Before the Boston study, scientists generally viewed the mutations that led to resistance as chance events. “A mutation would emerge randomly in a bacterial population, and the antibiotic would kill off everybody but that guy, and that guy would breed, creating a resistant strain,” Collins said. “We now know that the antibiotics are acting as mutagens themselves.”

But it even gets scarier. The brave new bugs that result from these mutations can carry resistance not only to the antibiotic that had been administered, but to others as well and even to multiple antibiotics. “You could have antibiotic A being delivered to the bacteria and have a mutant bug arise that could still be killed by high levels of antibiotic A, but now has mutations that give it resistance to antibiotic B, antibiotic C, and antibiotic D,” said Collins.

There is a simple solution to agriculture’s contribution to this problem: Outlaw the use of subtherapeutic antibiotics on farm animals. The European Union did it in 2006. Somehow they still manage to produce hogs and chickens there. So a ban here is hardly what I’d call a radical idea.

This is from this blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Local Harvest Listing

Please check out our listing at Local Harvest and add a review of our farm and products. Thank you! Click here

Friday, February 5, 2010

New calf!

Now how did that happen?? How did the bull get with that heifer 9 months ago??
Ah well. It's nice that Mike and Bill cleaned out the grey barn yesterday. They made a huge compost pile and then bedded down the barn with fresh straw. The smart Mama had a nice dry place out of the wind to have her first calf. We don't think the rest are due to start being born till March.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beef for sale by the quarter

We have beef quarters for sale. Email or call us for more info.

We do a mixed half so you get a variety of cuts - steaks bone in or out, short ribs, ground beef, roasts, cubed or round steak, stew beef, organ meats if desired.

The quarters we have available now are $384, $389, and $450 depending on size. It is all vacuum packed and frozen. That price is picked up at the Market or our Farm.

Check out Ebels Market . They are a great family-run business and appreciate serving you all and us.