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Mainely Tipping Points

Archive for September 2011

Mainely Tipping Points 34: Part 1: THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE

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Like many of you, I suspect, until very recently I never questioned the safety of fluoridating the general water supply.  Fluoride makes teeth stronger, right?  The government and many health organizations–like the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association–have scientific studies showing fluoridation is safe, right?  We’ve been fluoridating water for sixty years now with no ill effects, right?

My awareness of the toxicity and danger of fluoride and of the practice of fluoridation came slowly.  In 2006 when I started seriously researching food and health issues, information about fluoride toxicity emerged slowly.  There were some disturbing assessments in the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) materials.  A local activist asked me to look deeper because she believed broken bones in children were much more common today due to fluoridation.  The fact that one of my grandchildren had already, at age two, fallen off the back of a sofa onto a thick carpet and broken his arm began to echo in my head.   I agreed fluoride was likely a problem, but I had other research and essays lined up to do first. 

In late June, I started getting ready for my family’s  annual summer visits by stockpiling food and household supplies.  Only, I couldn’t find a toothpaste for the children that didn’t contain fluoride.  Standing in the toothpaste aisles of various local stores, I remembered seeing recent email alerts concerning new information about fluoridation and brain damage in children. 

Because the FDA classifies fluoride as a drug, the FDA requires adult toothpastes to carry the following dire warning:  “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age.  If you swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a poison control center right away.”  A dose is the size of a pea.      

Toothpastes, including children’s toothpastes, warn users not to swallow.  Have you tried, lately, telling children who are two, three, and four years old not to swallow when the color is luscious and the flavor delicious?

About this time, Tim Boyd reviewed THE CASE AGAINST FLUORIDE:  HOW HAZARDOUS WASTE ENDED UP IN OUR DRINKING WATER AND THE BAD SCIENCE AND POWERFUL POLITICS THAT KEEP IT THERE, by Paul Connett, PhD, James Beck, MD, PhD, and H.S. Micklem, DPhil, in the spring 2011 WAPF’S journal, WISE TRADITIONS (59).  Boyd noted the authors’ statement that the pea-sized dab of toothpaste contains as much fluoride as one glass of fluoridated water.  Boyd asked if adults call the Poison Control Center after drinking the recommended eight glasses of water per day since they would have exceeded EPA’s daily safety dose for fluoride.

Connett et al explain that controlling the concentration of fluoride is not the same thing as controlling the dose of fluoride, which includes not just drinking fluoridated water but the total dose from other sources, like toothpaste, tea, wine, pesticide residues on food, mechanically deboned meat, and food and beverages processed with fluorideated water (207).  With water, the “dose gets larger the more water is drunk; and the larger the dose, the more likely it will cause harm” since fluoride “is…highly toxic” (8-9).  Further, the kidneys only excrete 50 percent of the fluoride ingested; the rest moves mostly into calcifying tissues like the bones and the brain’s pineal gland and concentrates in the kidneys (123).    

Since scientific credentials are hugely important in the debate about fluoridation, do Connett et al have the kind of knowledge needed to assess the toxicity of fluoride? Connett’s PhD is in chemistry from Dartmouth.  He specializes in environmental chemistry and toxicology.  Until his retirement in 2006, he was a full professor at St. Lawrence University.  Additionally, for twenty-five years he’s worked in waste management.  He currently directs the Fluoride Action Network, whose website is a source of valuable information. 

Beck holds two doctorates:  Medicine from the Washington University School of Medicine and Biophysics from the University of California.  He is currently professor emeritus of medical biophysics at the University of Calgary, Canada. 

Micklem’s doctorate is from the University of Oxford.  He publishes mainly in the fields of stem cell biology and immunology.  He is an emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK, and has held visiting research fellowships at l’Institut Pasteur in Paris, Stanford University, and New York University School of Medicine.   

Connett et al’s fluoridation history follows the pattern I’ve seen in my research where a handful of determined men with cultural and political power successfully institute a problematic health practice.  Among the most effective men in 1950, when the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) endorsed fluoridation, were Gerald Cox, a researcher at the Mellon Institute whose research was funded by Alcoa aluminum, and Harold Hodge, the chief toxicologist for the U.S. Army’s Manhattan Project, who supervised experiments where uranium and plutonium were injected into unsuspecting hospital patients (80-81).

Connett et al show that in 1950 there were many scientists with grave concerns about putting an untested drug into the public water supply.  From the 1930s onward there was “a considerable amount of scientific literature, particularly from Europe and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture,  that fluoride posed problems to the bone and to the thyroid (83).  These studies were ignored or dismissed. 

The PHS made its momentous decision to validate fluoridation based on two flawed studies, an article by Cox and Hodge, and two ongoing studies whose results were unpublished, so had not yet been subject to peer review (82-83).  It was a rigged process.          

So, once again, industry benefit is part of this history.   At first, the metal industry benefitted, and, now, the phosphate fertilizer industry benefits.  But also there were then and are now many people who believed/believe that fluoridation would help children, especially poor children, have better dental health and who trusted that the organizations to which they looked for scientific truth had actually researched fluoride objectively. 

Astonishingly, Connett et al report that no federal agency accepts responsibility for the safety of fluoridation.   

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved fluoride for ingestion and rates fluoride as an “unapproved drug”—which is why it can mandate the toothpaste warning.  Nor has the FDA subjected fluoride to rigorous randomized clinical trials for either its effectiveness or its long-term safety (270). 

At the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only the Oral Health Division (OHD) is involved with fluoridation, and the OHD is staffed largely by dental personnel.  In 2008, Connett et al note, not one of the 29 staff members had scientific degrees qualifying them to assess the toxicity of fluoride, yet this division aggressively promotes fluoridation throughout the United States (23-24). 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an indirect role in that it regulates safe standards for all “contaminants” in drinking water.  In 2002, as it is legally required to do every 10 years, the EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to review the current 4 ppm (parts per million) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) standard.  The NRC appointed a 12-member panel that, the authors state, was “the most balanced ever appointed in the United States to do any kind of review on fluoride” 137).  This panel issued its 507-page report in March 2006, in which it declared that the seemingly low-level 4 ppm maximum standard was not protective of health (25).

The ADA declared the NRC report irrelevant to water fluoridation on the day it was released—claiming erroneously that the panel only reviewed water fluoridation of 4 ppm.  The panel, in fact, “examined several studies that found adverse effects at levels less than 2 ppm” (138). 

The CDC followed six days later with the same conclusion.  To date, write the authors, the CDC has produced “no comprehensive analysis to support its claim.”  And “it’s hard to believe that in six days Oral Health Division personnel could have read and digested the report, let alone its over 1,100 references” (140).  

Ironically, in 1999, the CDC “finally conceded what many dental researchers had been reporting over the previous two decades:  Fluoride’s predominant mechanism of action was topical, not systemic.  In other words, if fluoride works at all, it does so via direct exposure to the outside of the tooth and not from inside the body” (13).  So, write Connett et al, to continue “the practice of forcing people to ingest fluoride has become even more absurd (269-270).

Part 2 will address fluoride’s specific toxicity in the body and claims of its efficacy.     








Turkey Tracks: Chicken Mischief

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Turkey Tracks:  September 21, 2011

Chicken Mischief

Yesterday as I walked to the garage–on my way to the car to do an errand–I saw that four of our eight chickens were happily perched on the edges of the blue baskets (where we grew potatoes all summer) and were eating the now-lush greens!

Why didn’t I anticipate this turn of events?

I hauled out chicken wire and spread it over the baskets and so far…so good.

But’s chickens are VERY inventive.

Written by louisaenright

September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Turkey Tracks: September Update

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Turkey Tracks:  September 19, 2011

September Update

The garden is winding down, and our nights have been really cool lately.  We’ve been sleeping under TWO extra coverings.

The dehydrator has been running for most of the month.  This year, as I’ve already written, I’ve been drying our Sun Gold cherry tomatoes–planted for just that reason.  But, I’ve also been drying extra cucumbers and zucchini, and that’s been a really great project.  In other years,extra cukes would have to be pickled or lost.  And, I grated and froze zucchini, which wasn’t ideal as the grated zukes get bitter and very limp.  I really LOVE these dried cuke and zuke slices.  They can be used like crackers with dip, and I think they might reconstitute in soups or, in the case if the cukes, in some garlic and mint-spiced yogurt.   Corinne loved them all when she was here.

Here’s what they look like:

I harvested the dried beans I planted this year.  I only planted about 10 seeds as I thought they would climb.  They didn’t; they were more like a bush bean.  I  did not get a lot of beans actually.  Here’s what they look like:

One would have to plant a LOT of seeds to make this effort worthwhile.  I don’t understand about the color variation–but the dark brown beans look perfectly healthy…???

I walked past the blue baskets where we grew potatoes all summer one day a few weeks back and wondered if I could reseed them with some fall greens.  I topped off each with some compost from our bins and reseeded with radish, summer lettuce, spinach, and winter lettuce .  I did the same with the cold frame, which we dragged out from its summer storage and put back into the garden–well away from the snowplow’s path.

Here’s what the blue baskets looked like about 10 days ago.  You should see how lush they are now, and the cold frame is even lusher:

I didn’t expect to get this double use out of this project, so this has been fun.  Also, if we get a really cold night, I can throw a tarp over these baskets.

We’ve had the house trim painted–after seven years, it was time.  (Can’t believe we’re living in our eighth year in Maine!)  We used Greg Black’s Accent Painting, from Lincolnville, and are really pleased with his work.  (Greg had some of Rose’s meat chickens, so we met him the day we slaughtered chickens in early summer.)  The trim is all sparkly white now, mold has been scraped off part of the house where we get more rain drainage, and the upper deck and lower porch ceiling have been painted.  While the crew painted, John replaced back deck step boards that were rotting.  Didn’t he do a nice job?

Now he’s trying to solve the front door rain protection problem.  That door sits beneath the upper deck, and unless you put something, like a plywood board, on the upper deck, when it rains you get soaked at our front door.  We’re looking into some sort of plexi-glass solution–hung from or attached to the bottom of the upper porch.

The light has changed up here.  This back deck doesn’t really get morning sun any more.  So, soon we’ll be putting the deck wicker away for the year.  And, all the pots are dying pack now.   It’s ok though, as I’m ready to move inside to quilt intensely.

I love the changing seasons in Maine.

Turkey Tracks: Our Winter Turkeys

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Turkey Tracks:  September 19, 2011

Our Winter Turkeys

Susan McBride Richmond and Chris Richmond live just up the hill from us, at Golden Brook Farm.  They have three children and are a source of ongoing inspiration.  Together they have put up three hoop houses, two of them large; have a large flock of chickens and sell eggs; and are presently raising some turkeys for winter eating.  We will get two of the turkeys around Thanksgiving.  Since we’ll be in Charleston, SC, for the holiday, we’ll have our turkeys for winter eating.

They are bronze-breasted heritage turkeys, and here’s what they look like now:

Turkeys are very social and will talk to you as long as you stand by a fence and speak to them:

This time will be the third that Susan and Chris have raised turkeys for us.  They have all been delicious!

And, last spring we got a lot of fresh wonderful greens from Susan’s second hoop house.   The third hoop house which is up and beginning to be planted will be icing on the cake for us since Susan will have greens this winter as well.  How cool is that!!

I wrote about Golden Brook Farm last fall when Susan and Chris hosted a potluck lunch and cider pressing.  This year they have purchased a cider press, and the event will be the weekend of Oct. 1st.  This year I’m bringing my camera!

Written by louisaenright

September 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information: Elderberries

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Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information:  September 19, 2011


When we first moved to Maine, we were fairly focused on keeping trees from growing in the rock wall that buttresses our hill–between the front yard and the tiny meadow below the house.  We kept cutting back this one tree, which had roots deep into the wall and refused to die.

Some years later, Margaret Rauenhorst told me how beneficial elderberries were.  She makes elderberry jam, tinctures, and wine from them.  One day early last spring she made a gorgeous pie with the berries she’d frozen last fall that she shared with us.  Margaret and Ronald have a lot of the bushes on their property and are planting more.   Other friends also set about collecting the berries in the fall, Steve and Barb Melchiskey for instance.

While with Margaret one day last fall, I bought an elderberry tree and planted it on the slope next to our driveway.  Elderberries like wet feet apparently.  It’s thriving, bloomed this spring, and I was able to get about 1 cup of berries from it this year.

Not long after, I realized–from seeing the leaves on our purchased elderberry–that the pesky tree on the wall was also an elderberry.  So, we left it alone I collected those berries as well.  Here they are in my kitchen sink–ready to be picked off their stems and frozen:

Here’s what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says about elderberries in GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME:

“Black elderberry is a small tree, which grows pretty much everywhere from cold to very warm climates.  In spring it bears clusters of tiny whitish flowers, which at the end of the summer turn into small juicy black berries.  Medicinal properties of this plant have been appreciated for centuries.  Its flowers, berries, leaves and bark were traditionally used for treating colds, pneumonia, flu, sore throat, hay fever, wounds, eye infections and many other ailments….Black elderberry has strong immune-stimulating properties and it is one of the most powerful anti-viral remedies known to man….You do not have to be an experienced herbalist to use this plant….From the end of summer/beginning of autumn make it your bedtime routine to take 1-2 tablespoons [for family of four] of berries out of the freezer and leave them at room temperature to defrost over night.  In the morning juice them together with pineapple, carrot or any other fruit and vegetables you planned to use.  If you do it every day or every other day throughout the cold season your family will not have any colds.”

Dr. McBride goes on to say that for one person 1 teaspoon of the berries daily is a good dose.

Here in Maine we can buy Avena herbs elderberry tincture, and I always keep it on hand.  And, I keep an elderberry tea on hand as well.  At the first sign of anything going wrong, I start using the tincture and drinking the tea.  Knock on wood, but I can’t remember when I had a cold last.

Turkey Tracks: Ailey Brings Her Parents To Maine

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Turkey Tracks:  September 18, 2011

Ailey Brings Her Parents to Maine

At barely 10 months, Ailey got her parents organized for a September trip to her grandparents home in Camden, Maine–to celebrate her father’s birthday.  It was Ailey’s very first trip to Maine, if you don’t count last year when she came while still growing!

They all arrived on a rainy day that threw up a few possibilities of delay, but Ailey nixed those and they came in mostly on time:

After the 2-hour drive north with her parents and her Lovey, she right to Pop Pop, which pleased him enormously:

Ailey loved the two dogs around Pop Pop’s feet and belly laughed over and over in delight at their presence.  In fact, she is a happy baby who laughs a lot.

Ailey loved hiking and took her parents off to hike several times.  Here she is on the Rockerfeller property just above our house, property which they so graciously allow us to enjoy.

We loved Ailey’s purple hat!

Heading for the pond bridge:

And, into the woods without the hat:

Around the lower pond:

Ailey loved our chickens, and I think Bryan got some good shots.  If he sends me one or two, I’ll post them here.  Hint, hint.  Meanwhile, she’s got chickens on her pj’s:

Ailey came prepared for several kinds of activities.  Here are her dancing shoes:

Ailey wanted to see Hope’s Edge, the frogs there, the tire swing, and all the food.  She hadn’t expected to see Farmer Tom’s tractor:

Here she is with her parents at Hope Edge’s “front door.”

Ailey couldn’t quite take in the frogs in the little pond back of the shed.  And, Bryan’s weight on the tire swing made the limb groan with ominous cracking sounds.  So Ailey will have to grow into those pleasures at Hope’s Edge.  She did enjoy seeing all the animals (cows, sheep, chickens, horses, tiny ponies).  And she loved watching her mother cut and arrange some flowers from the cutting garden, which is fading away now.

Corinne with sluggish bees on the New Zealand zinnas:

Pop Pop, Bryan, and Ailey at the far end of the cutting rows.  Note the glitter shoes:

Corinne’s flower arrangement:

Pop Pop measuring out the copious amount of food we took home:

Here are out onions and garlic drying in the Hope’s Edge barn.  The onions are strung in layers up the rafters of the barn:

Here’s another view:

Ailey brought her parents to Maine, in part, to celebrate her Daddy’s birthday.  So we did just that!

Here’s his birthday dinner:

Baby lamb racks, La Ratte fingerling potaotes with baby white onions (our garden), green beans (Hope’s Edge), native golden chanterelle mushrooms (gift of Charlie and Joan Herrick of Northport), slow roasted saladette tomatoes, sweet/sour style (Hope’s Edge), dried French toast from breakfast, and fudgy, homemade chocolate cake made with local butter, our eggs, real cream, really good chocolate (Lovey).

All in all, we had a wonderful visit!

Written by louisaenright

September 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Turkey Tracks: Quilt in Progress, September 2011

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Turkey Tracks:  September 18, 2011

Quilt in Progress

September 2011

Here’s a peek at the quilt I’m working on these days:

And, here it is coming together on the design wall:

This quilt is such a happy quilt.  I’m so enjoying working with it–which hasn’t been often enough since I’ve been so busy processing harvest food.

The fabrics are all Kaffe Fasset prints, which I love.  And though it can seem jumbled a bit at this stage, I’ve seen it made up, and I really like it.  I bought the kit from Marge at Maine-ly Sewing in Nobleboro, Maine.  She sells online too:  http://mainelysewing.com/

It’s on Lucy the long-arm now, being quilted with lime green thread, which is looking quite pretty, and with a “sweet pea” pantograph.  The backing is a lime green print I got on sale at Quilt Diva’s in Rockland.  It has a linear print of leaves whose panels were QUITE hard to line up properly in order to get the right width.

I haven’t decided what to name it yet.  Happy Quilt isn’t quite right.  Layer cake isn’t either.  It will come to me…