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Founded in 2008, The Erie Wire is a communications organization where dedicated citizens bring productive substance-based information for the improvement of Erie County, Ohio.

The Erie Wire upholds the definition of a Land Ethic, proposed in 1948 by Aldo Leopold, as a standard to collect and analyze information.

“[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively: the land.

A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.

It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Local agriculture is The Erie Wire engine. It is the backbone principle of Erie County’s culture. Through documentaries and investigative reporting, we aim to encourage the transformation of the local agrochemical farming industry into chemical-free organic agriculture, or permaculture in order to preserve our resources. We also aim to expose the “corporate lie” in order to stop hegemonic islands from owning Erie County’s capitol circulation.

Preserving architectural integrity is a cornerstone The Erie Wire wishes to uncover from the corporate shroud. Architecture does, in fact, play a vital role to the well-being of an individual. With downtown Sandusky home to many historical buildings, it should be used when centralizing the local economy. These significant structural designs can produce significant individuals.

We work towards removing the ‘bottom line’ as the initiative to succeed; to get past self-indulgence and into self-sufficiency.

We are here to organize information that will support, improve, and encourage the development of creative, imaginative, ‘innovative’ individuals and their potential to provide ethical services to our community.

We inform those who demand a higher standard of living. By producing innovative cultural, commercial, industrial, agricultural, environmental, nutritional and scientific communication we can one day hope to improve the reciprocity of the community within Erie County.

The Erie Wire will reference these divisions of society as they develop an ideology of cultural products manifested in a cooperative of local resources.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Arts & Culture - Poetry - Teak, Ohio by Christof Scheele

Ohio has racoons & no more
courage than a milk snake or the new 
cow's mottled udder, swelling half-in, half-
out of the steaming helpless pail. 

They say I lived there once. There could be more 
I don't know. It was dark, a shadow 
lightly palmed the curbside trash, no 
angel came to suckle me, I ran. 

They must be right. They must know more 
or less as much as me. I had one timid 
hook. I fished all day. The place fell 
off their maps. I taught the gods your name.

Christof Scheele teaches composition at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and Hayden's Ferry Review. In 2003 he received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Environment - Science - Health: The Health Costs of an Industrial Diet

"In the matter of fats, we truly are what we eat and what we eat truly matters." 
- Susan Allport, from The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3's Were Removed From The Western Diet and What We Can Do To Replace Them 

The 20th and 21st century industrial food system changed the way all of us eat food. Cows, who once roamed the prairies feeding on Omega-3 rich grasses, were reduced to Omega-6 rich grains. Chickens, pigs, and even fish have undergone this change in their diets. Yet food companies have assured people that these new forms of meat are safer and healthier. Though, all of us continue to suffer greater risks to diseases and cancers. We pay more for food in the age of cheap food production. We continue to give the FDA and privately funded research our trust ( who are made to give positive results to private profits). The pattern is obvious; our food is determining our health. Pharmaceutical Companies want us to pay for supplements we should be getting from nutrients in locally grown food. We lose to industrially sourced foods who have stripped nutrients and put in additives to increase shelf-life. These patterns may not be as simple as Omega-3's versus Omega-6's. But my logic shows that if a fish from the wild in Lake Erie is full of Omega-3's while a fish from a farm in Alaska is full of Omega-6's, and an Omega-3/Omega-6 balanced diet promotes a healthy body in contrast to an Omega-6 one, I'm throwing back the farmed fish. 

The research concludes: individuals of a western industrial food diet have higher intakes of Omega-6's, and very low intakes of Omega-3's. This high concentration of Omega-6's in our diets is said to be the cause of Heart Disease, certain types of Cancer, Type-2 Diabetes and stronger inflammations. Susan Allport and leading nutritional scientists believe a balance of Omega-6's to Omega-3's in a 2.3:1 ratio is ideal for preventing, and in some cases curing, these century old problems of the american industrial food diet.  

Omega-3's function--"to permit animals to think and see... enable nerve cells to send their rapid signals", says Allport, which further allows succinct cellular communication. Plant seeds, the "edible oil",  have high concentrations of Omega-6's, but convert this into Omega-3's upon germination and during photosynthesis. The western industrial food diet relies heavily on extraction of seed oils for foods.    

Newborn diets from an industrial model of over-processed seed-based oil formulas will likely have high concentrations of Omega-6's, which is said by research to decrease brain development and vision acuity. Michael Crawford, a biochemist who currently heads The Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at the London Metropolitan University, flew to FDA conferences in the 1980's & 90's and argued, "It's no longer up to the scientific community to justify why DHA should be in infant formula. It's up to the infant formula company to justify why it isn't."  DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a principle metabolite in the Omega-3 fatty acid chain and is found in the breast milk of mother's with a balanced Omega-3 and 6 diet. 

So, why does a company choose Omega-6's over Omega-3's? The answer is: Shelf Life. Omega-6's are found to take longer for oxidization, the process by which foods break down and become spoiled. Yet again, we find a company is willing to risk the shelf-life of a person to the shelf life of a product. In this case, Susan Allport had a telephone interview with Bob Brown of Frito-Lay who said linolenic acid (Omega-3) "is ten times less stable than linoleic acid", or Omega-6. The USDA agrees with this position, but reality has shown our bodies do not. 

Susan Allport's book found pharmaceutical companies answering, "There's no way to make money from nutrition". Food companies replied to a hired consultant--William Lands--like passive observers at a food crisis they had no control over -- "Bill, we sell foods that people ask for... We don't tell the people what to eat. If you convince the public that our food should have a different balance, we'll change it." This reasoning, using the 'personal responsibility' of a consumer versus the billions spent in advertising, is a companies tactic to externalizing the health costs of their foods onto the public. It is the common tactic to keeping a cost of business low enough, so that the profits out perform any legal liability a company may have to pay for its products deficiency. Reformulations just cost too much.   

Common sense goes a long way in deciding on what to eat in favor of an Omega-3 intake. In the instance of chicken eggs, Artemis Simopoulos's research shows eggs from chickens who feed on plants and insects will have rich increases in Omega-3 fatty acids, while factory raised chickens, fed primarily corn, have a tenth of  the Omega-3's than its counterpart. "For Simopoulos (replying to why Industry hasn't acted in these facts), 'It's a question of economics. The edible oil industry is a very powerful lobby and soybeans and corn are some of our major commodities.'" 

Scientist, Tony Hubert remarks on the situation:"People are going to look back on this time--when we've flooded our food supply with Omega-6's--like they do the Irish potato famine... as the unforeseen of too heavy an emphasis on a single type of food." Simopoulos sees it as, "a human experiment of enormous proportions." 

The FDA doesn't distinguish between the two fatty acids, but clumps them into one polyunsaturated fat. This may be reason enough to call into question our governments interests. Are they unqualified or without the funds to make substantial claims about fatty acids, or is it simply not economical for them to do so? The financial meltdown did not see it economical for government to let the economy run its course to experience the fall of corrupted major investment banks acting to make money off of immoral policies set to deceive mortgage loans. Letting the economy reformulate on food issues would, simply, be too costly for businesses. And, it may result on people looking closer to home for food. It may, cause large groups of people to source diversified foods from a local Farmer and less from the local retailer. Some may already be doing this! 

Cooking and Salad Oils - Ratio of Omega-6's to Omega-3's 

Flaxseed or linseed                                             0.2:1

Canola                                                                   2:1

Canola (for light frying)                                     3:1

Walnut                                                                  5:1

Soybean                                                                7:1

Wheat germ                                                         8:1

Butter                                                                    9:1

Lard                                                                       10:1

Olive                                                                      12:1

Hydrogenated Soybean                                      13:1

High Oleic Sunflower                                         19:1

Corn                                                                      46:1

Palm                                                                      46:1

Sesame                                                                  137:1

Less than 60% linoleic Sunflower                    200:1

Cottonseed                                                           259:1
Source: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Found within "The Queen of Fats".

Copyright © 2008 The Erie Wire, Inc.



"The Queen of Fats"  (University of California Press in September of 2006) by Susan Allport 

Questions to the Author 

On Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 7:44 AM, The Erie Wire <> wrote:

Dear Susan Allport,

I have a few questions regarding your fantastic book, "The Queen of Fats".

Q: Is an over-consumption of Omega-3's a possibility? Was this addressed by any of the scientists you consulted with?

Q: If butter and lard are sourced from grain fed animals, (besides crisco) what other alternatives exist for cooking?

In Good Soil

Hi Joshua, Yes, I think that omega-3s can be overconsumed and that an individual's metabolism can go into overdrive. This isn't often considered since it would be unlikely in today's food culture -- but it is possible. Remember: moderation in everything (including moderation).
Besides butter and lard from grass fed animals, canola and olive oil are great choices for cooking. Olive oil doesn't contain many omega-3s but neither does it contain many omega-6s. So it's a neutral framework for a diet rich in other sources of 3s, as was the traditional Mediterranean diet.  
Thanks for the questions, Susan

Susan Allport Howell
333 Hook Rd.
Katonah, NY 10536


Agriculture: Pollen + GE + Seed = Transgenic Food Communities

This article is the first in a series that The Erie Wire will publish to address genetically engineered foods.

Amidst the roadside attractions of Erie County blooms a threat to our food security.

It is a plant, engineered to withstand chemical saturation and, soon, turn seeds sterile. In its blossom, a biotech mixture waits to pollinate a neighbor's biotech-free crop. Once pollinated, a new crop cycle develops a GE seed foreign to the land.

The following year the GE seed will germinate, the cycle will continue, and soon all biotech-free plants will begin to take on the features of a "Transgenic Food Community".

"Some 200 million acres of the world’s farms grew
biotech crops last year, with over 90 percent of those crops coming from genetically engineered seeds patented by U.S.-based Monsanto.", wrote Shawn Dell Joyce, reporting for
The Times-Herald NY. Monsanto, producer of the herbicide RoundUp, is the company who spearheaded the development of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The GE seed was made to resist the powerful herbicide, while weeds, and everything but the GE crop, die upon the application of RoundUp. Monsanto's patented GE seed brands, meant to withstand the herbicide, are known as "RoundUp Ready", and are available as soy, corn, canola and cotton.

In a Transgenic Food Community, GE crops "cannot be contained" nor coexist with non-GE crops, according to Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola Farmer fighting for the rights to save seeds from biotech contamination.

For centuries, Farmers have been cross pollinating different varieties of seeds in order to secure desirable traits in our food supply. Once a farmer produces a good crop he or she feels is strong enough to grow annually, seeds from that harvest are kept to plant the following year. Multigenerational farming families often will pass along the seed, giving it the nickname 'heritage' or 'heirloom' seed. In the modern day of agriculture, seed companies also use cross pollinating techniques to produce patented hybrids. The hybrids have strong first generation yields but poor second generation yields, meaning the seed from the first year's crop cannot be saved for the following years planting. This enables the companies to sell their seed year after year.

However, GE crops are cross-pollinating on their own using a dominant gene, injected from a bacterium, which is foreign to the evolutionary development of a GE-free crop's genome. A GE gene that pollinates a heritage seed, heirloom seed, or any seed will erase the work and research conducted by a farm to increase that seed's performance. The plant that grows from the next generation of this GE pollination will produce the patented GE seed and have a decrease in nutritional value (due to its irregular growth and harmful chemical dependence). This new GE seed becomes the right of the company who owns the patent. Therefore, all of the generated revenue from the new GE crop, that the Farmer unknowingly grows, can be stolen by that patent holder.

To the Farmer: no genetic drift insurance is available to a farm that is contaminated by a neighbor's crop.

GE crops are chemically dependent. Monsanto claims these two chemical herbicides to be safe for your health and the environment, when managed.

In 1945, the original Monsanto Co. began producing and marketing agricultural chemicals, including 2, 4-D. The 2, 4-D formula used on GE crops, by various companies to control herbicide resistant weeds, is 70% Agent Orange, according to Schmeiser. Agent Orange, also invented by Monsanto, was used to kill off the enemy's food supply and clear out land for battle during the Vietnam War. It's still known to be mutating Vietnamese newborns; citing, from the documentary "The Corporation", babies being born without eyes. The application of 2, 4-D occurs after traditional herbicides, such as RoundUp, fail to control weeds. Today, already eight Synthetic Auxin resistant weeds have adapted to 2, 4-D spraying. This begs the question, "What are these chemicals for?".

The infamous RoundUp spray is viewed by the general public to be safe for weed control.

RoundUp spray is not biodegradable. Monsanto lost in court twice to false advertisement suits because of the company's original claim, that RoundUp is a biodegradable product. The falsification of biodegradability caused RoundUp to become the most commonly used weed killer in the world. It's molecular structure is environmentally hazardous. It will soften eggs of birds and fish and affect other species reproduction, causing dysfunctions and mutations of the animals.

A study by professor Robert Belle, at the Oceanographic Observatory in Roscoff, France (a GE free country), found cell division is affected by RoundUp. When met with RoundUp, a cell begins to malfunction or dysfunction. This cellular disruption is part of the first stages to cancer; though cancer will take another 30 to 40 years before it fully develops. This time-span can be shortened when cellular division is hit with a high concentration of the mutagenic chemicals.

In other words:
  • RoundUp Ready spray is potentially a cancer health risk.
  • The use of GE crops requires RoundUp Ready spray to grow, with an increase of 3 to 5 times as many chemical applications.
  • GE patents prevent farmers from being able to own and generate their own seed production.
  • The use of GE patented seeds will dominate a gene pool of neighboring crops ("domination", in this sense, is more associated with the domination of growth in cancer cells, than with any positive side-effects).
  • The result, is the "Transgenic Food Community": a production of food and food related products which cannot be controlled or operated independently of the company who manufacture their existence, forcing farmers and consumers to be completely dependent on a product that knowingly increases health risks and removes profits from a Farmers salary. A place where the farmer does not own the rights to seeds.
It's worth mentioning that now in the United States there are nine Glycine Resistant weeds. These plants have adapted a resistance to RoundUp's active ingredient, glyphosate. Plants evolve and adapt to survive, and science tells us more of these resistant weeds are efflorescing. These patterns translate to stronger chemicals, further genetic modifications and higher costs for the Farmers.

Why worry? This video -- The World According to Monsanto -- reveals the position Monsanto is developing.

Why worry? This video -- GMO Trilogy - Hidden Dangers In Kids Meals: Genetically Engineered Foods (1 of 3) -- reveals the public health threats to GE production.

As a small community we have the opportunity to respond to transgenic developments. Using our size we can effectively communicate a way to resist transgenic crop production, and keep our soil free from the bottom line of corporate contamination. Organic farming; is one alternative thats practiced by area Farms, which demand is rapidly rising for in the retail market. Heirloom agriculture; can be an effective tool to preserve generational seed developments. This, again, is a successful practice among area Farms. Though, the real solution will come from demand; from a conscientious change in the power of purchase.

A Message to the Public: Erie County, Ohio -- is backboned by agriculture. In a Transgenic Food Community agricultural integrity takes a backseat to shareholder profits, and seed savers lose out to be cross-pollinated by the ever-invasive GE patents. Does this mean Erie County will lose its agricultural history due to the profit of one company? Or, can consumers begin to see the demise of purchasing genetically altered foods and begin talking to local farms for a different setting? To voice your concerns we ask you to contact our local farmers, and begin returning the voice about healthy foods to those with their hands in the soil.

Copyright © 2008 The Erie Wire, Inc.


Is Your Picnic Filled With 'Franken-Foods'?

by Shawn Dell Joyce

Some 200 million acres of the world's farms grew biotech crops last year, with over 90 percent of those crops coming from genetically engineered seeds patented by U.S.-based Monsanto.0713 04 1

Scientists have taken genetic material from one organism (like a soil bacterium), along with an antibiotic resistant marker gene, and spliced both into a food crop (like corn) to create a genetically modified crop that resists specific diseases and pests.

There has been no long-term, independent testing on the effects of these "Franken-foods" on the ecosystem or human health.

In the early 1990's when biotechs were being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, several key FDA scientists warned that GE crops could cause negative health effects. These scientists were ignored and blanket approvals of GE crops were passed.

It would be difficult to avoid eating genetically modified organisms in our country because they are so pervasive in the food system and unlabeled in the grocery stores.

Part of the reason for this is biotech giants fought to keep GMO foods unlabeled.

Most recently, the growth hormones from GE organisms known as rBGH, which is given to cows to make them produce more milk, were banned in Europe and Canada after authorities learned about the health risks of drinking milk from cows treated with rBGH hormones.

American milk producers started labeling their milk "rBGH and rBST free." Monsanto, which sells bovine growth hormones under the brand name Posilac, has successfully sued dairy producers to force them to stop labeling their milk.

In addition to most milk products, GMOs can be found in commercially farmed meats and processed foods on store shelves. In our country, 89 percent of all soy, 61 percent of all corn, and 75 percent of all canola are genetically altered.

Other foods, like commercially grown papaya, zucchini, tomatoes, several fish species, and food additives like enzymes, flavorings and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame and rennet used to make hard cheeses, also contain GMOs, according to Greenpeace.

To complicate matters, GMOs move around in the ecosystem through pollen, wind and natural cross-fertilization. The Union of Concerned Scientists conducted two independent laboratory tests on non-GM seeds "representing a substantial proportion of the traditional seed supply" for corn, soy and oilseed.

The test found that at "the most conservative expression," half the corn and soy were contaminated with GM genes, eight years after the modified varieties were first grown on a large scale in the U.S.

The reports states that "heedlessly allowing the contamination of traditional plant varieties with genetically engineered sequences amounts to a huge wager on our ability to understand a complicated technology that manipulates life at the most elemental level."

* * *

What can you do to avoid GMO's?

  • Know how your food is grown by buying directly from local farmers.
  • Support organic agriculture, and food producers who label their ingredients, particularly dairy farmers.
  • Eat pastured meat raised on organic feed. The only way to ensure this is to buy from someone you know.
  • Support farmers who are sued by biotech giants. Monsanto has set aside an annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting more than 150 farmers for a total of more than $15 million.
  • Demand labeling on all GMO-containing products.

Copyright © 2008 Hudson Valley Media Group

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Economy & Industry: Why White Flour?

With recent groundbreaking studies pointing to eating habits as the primary link to many types of health problems, people are becoming more conscious of what they put into their bodies. Because of concerns like trans-fats and empty calories, label reading becomes an important step while shopping for groceries. There are all sorts of health hazards in our favorite food products that we need to be aware of: high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, bleach...  bleach? Yes, bleach, as in whiter clothes, whiter bathroom, whiter teeth and for the last century, whiter food. 
The Power of Bleaching our Food
We use bleaching compounds domestically not only as stain-lifters but also as sanitizers. The bleach kills off microorganisms, oxidizing them by breaking down their cell walls and destroying the inner enzymes, structures and processes. Bleaching techniques in our households are usually performed with either peroxides or chlorine. However, in the food industry, they have been used since the early 1900s in the processing of wheat flour. This practice is meant to increase the shelf life of the flour, to make the flour appear whiter and more aesthetically pleasing and to increase the reaction of gluten within the grain in order to produce more volume when baking. During this part of flour processing, the bleaching agent oxidizes the grain (the same way it would oxidize bacteria and other germs), thus its nutritive value is eliminated. Also, when white flour is made, the wholesome bran and the germ are separated out, leaving only the endosperm, which is primarily starch. Millers will enrich the flour with iron and B vitamins in an attempt to make up for the lost nutrients. Unfortunately, the human body is unable to absorb these added nutrients the same way it would the natural nutrients if the whole grain was consumed. Also, the dietary fiber left in the endosperm of the wheat grain is broken down during oxidization, the bulk created by the excess gluten in the flour becomes harder to digest.
The food industry uses several different chemical compounds for bleaching flour. Chlorine dioxide is a common agent used for the process. It is also used in refining sugar, disinfecting drinking water and sanitizing produce. However, during its application of bleaching flour, the chlorine dioxide is known to react with natural properties within the grain to create a type 2 diabetes-causing chemical known as alloxan. Alloxan destroys beta cells in the pancreas, which damages the organ's ability to produce the metabolic hormone known as insulin. Without sufficient amounts of insulin, the body is unable to metabolize sugars and essential fats, and the body is unable to fight off the onset of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. 
According to a 2004 study commissioned by the Erie County Health Department, diabetes was the 5th leading cause of death within our county. Obesity, age and physical inactivity are all serious risk factors that contribute to the onset of diabetes. Also, if there is a family history of diabetes, then the danger of developing the disease significantly increases. While diabetes is commonly thought to be a condition that only develops later in life, it has been predicted that the recent epidemic of childhood obesity means the next generation will develop diabetes type 2 as young adults. They will have higher rates of complications and heart disease than older adults with type 2 diabetes. Children born to young women with type 2 diabetes will be at greater risk as well. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she will develop the devastating and life-threatening effects of the disease including heart disease, blindness, gangrene and kidney failure.   
If this danger isn't convincing enough to make a person think twice before eating products containing white flour or serving them to children, then consider the flour miller's use of potassium bromate as a treatment in the process.   This additive oxidizes the flour and is also meant to develop the gluten. The use of potassium bromate has recently been exposed as highly controversial due to its cancer-causing properties. The compound has been banned in Canada and the U.K.  for over a decade and California requires a label notifying the consumer if the flour is 'bromated'. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discourages flour millers from using it, potassium bromate is yet to be banned in the United States.
Flours treated with bleaching agents are usually labeled as any of the following: white, enriched, bleached, processed, or fortified.

The Replaceability of White Flour
If you want to avoid these harmful additives when consuming wheat flour, then using 100% whole grain wheat flour is your sufficiently more nutritious alternative.  Whole wheat flour is made from the whole kernel of the grain which includes the bran and wheat germ, the source of most of the grain's nutrients. When buying products that contain wheat flour, look to see whether or not it is made with 100% whole wheat flour. Breads made with 100% whole wheat flour are an excellent source of proteins, B vitamins, minerals, healthy carbohydrates and fiber and also contain less fats than enriched white bread. Wheat flour products can be purchased in most Erie County markets
It may be hard to break the habit of cooking with white flour as it is a staple of baking, giving pastries, cookies and cakes the extra fluff, making them so irresistible. But the fact is, replacing white flour is relatively easy and it will make these baked treats more nutritious and decrease negative health effects.