The Silent Majority

By Allen Curnow, 1970.

I was the Silent Majority,
I never said a Word.
I listened to those in Authority,
Silently I concurred.
I followed my Leaders loyally,
My Silence let Them know
Whatever They said, wherever They led
Was the Way I meant to go.

I was the Silent Majority,
Hitler had my Vote, –
Never a careless Word, Sir,
Never a jarring Note.
Safer to keep my Mouth shut,
And let the Nazis yell, –
Only a fool would keep a Dog
And bark Himself as well.

I was the Silent Majority,
I never howled with the Mob,
I never cried, ‘Crucify Him!’
The Soldiers knew their Job.

I never provoked the Authorities,
Like HIM, the self-styled KING.
I never doubted that Pontius Pilate
Would do the Proper Thing.

I was the Silent Majority.
What else did I have to be?
I never spoke for Myself, Sir,
I let Them speak for Me.
Silent, I gave consent, Sir,
Knowing not What I gave, –
To the last Violence, the deepest Silence,
Of a War’s common Grave.

I was the Silent Majority,
Neither a Voice nor a Face,
I was Nobody multiplied by X,
As dumb as the Dust in Space.
I died in the last Atomic War, –
Following, following fast
Wherever They led, whatever They said,
And Silent, to the Last.

Originally published: New Zealand Herald, 9 May 1970
Biography: Allen Curnow: simply by sailing in a new direction: a biography / Terry Sturm.
Auckland University Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781869408527 Poem: The Silent Majority P.41

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Essential 2017 Christmas Gifts for Kids that will be loved forever

I recently watched the (now classic) youtube hit clip by Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff. In this world where a huge proportion of us can’t afford Christmas and the rest of us are trying to work out how to ‘manage’ all the stuff – I thought I would put together a list of ‘stuff you need’ that can help switch busy brains to start filling stockings in a more planet friendly way.

As a kid my father couldn’t afford much, I got essential things I needed anyway and I always felt a bit grumpy that I didn’t get the exact whizz bang gizmo the other children received. I now value this way of thinking. And – crazily, I was never any less happy 1/2 a day later. It taught me I didn’t need to have what everyone else had in order to be happy. What a lesson!

So, perhaps.. you could quite successfully transition to a point where a very small amount of the stocking is junk – it can be a fine line restructuring this Christmas season – but have a go anyway. The point is – opening presents is always awesome. Your kid will be happy when that essential tshirt that they needed is bought with their vibe in mind. Just because you knew you would have bought it anyway because they have doubled in size doesn’t lessen the experience.

These suggestions are aimed to be middle of the road – there will always be people way more extreme than this – it is aimed to help shifting cultures in families not preach to the converted!

Oh, and mindfulness – in those months leading up to Christmas, if you know your kid needs something you would have bought them anyway.. step back from the credit card. Put it off. Don’t buy the shoes if you can get by on one pair. Let them feel they really need something. Some kids are used to this (too many) – but some kids aren’t. Perhaps visit the opportunity or second hand shop if it is truly urgent – start them thinking that new is precious. If mindfulness sounds a bit weird and you find it hard to think about changing but want you kids to grow up strong and happy and resourceful – look up ‘idiot compassion’

What makes it harder for you: kids watching loads of TV so kids get fed stuff they must have; loads of magazines which mean ditto; loads of trips to the mall when you are bored so ditto; loads of junk in your mailbox… it’s a bit like weaning yourself off sugar.

The trick is you are turning them into a quality not quantity kid – and hopefully some of these ideas are so out of the box, that the child will be happy with what they received anyway. It does happen! The other kindness you are granting them is that they can then save their money and buy stuff on sale – which is slower for them to achieve and helps them learn the value of money. So maybe it might be valued more and last longer.

For growing kids and teens:

Pjyamas – winter or summer
Undies & Socks

Water bottle – this is a biggie – really important. The science now tells us that the other BPs – not just BPA – can be endocrine disrupting, hormone hacking excess oestrogen making (not good for boys or girls) – please stay away from all plastic and buy steel water bottles. BUT – check inside because they are frequently LINED WITH PLASTIC. Remember all the hot days those water bottles lie around – yuck.
Organic lollies/sweets/candy – because the sugar is not sprayed with Roundup, your kids are less likely to be allergic to them. I keep daily sugar low but, for heavens sake, kids need a bit of a treat – so choose a sweet that has less externalities, less pesticides, less gmos – and watch them utterly adore their out of the box treats. (Oh yes -because organics cost more, you buy way less – so you spend the same money you would have previously on quality not quantity).
A kindle – the ultimate screen as it benefits their imagination, their education, they seem to not need updating as much as all the other stuff, they mean less waste and you can take them anywhere – also you can buy second hand ones – they look as good wrapped in christmas paper! Put a label on it or etch it brand new with the childs name and voila it is personalised and special
A snuggly blanket that is made of wool or cotton in kids favourite colours – kids always love their own blanket – no plastic ingredients means no offgassing
A voucher to the coolest second hand shop you know – tweens and teens absolutely love a visit to a second hand store if they associate it with a cool vibe. We give these to mates for birthday presents and they are always loved!
A sleeping bag
A top quality sleeping pillow with no chemicals. Eg. Wool, natural latex. Note bamboo pillows may sound great but if it is memory foam it will likely contain polyurethane etc, that might offgas for years – and then they are treated with antimicrobials or fungicides for example patented name may contain likely carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. This is why a pillow like this could be considered a super special Christmas gift. It will last for years and is safe.
Groovy sun hat or cosy winter beanie
Cute sandles / jandals / thongs / shoes / slippers they need – with as little plastic involved as possible
A good quality plastic frisbee that will never break.
Funky bath towels
Playing cards or UNO the game because my family have been playing with the same pack of UNO cards for 30 years. 🙂
A present via a charity that helps someone else – eg. a goat, mosquito net, seeds and tools
Gardening equipment so they can start growing plants that you have to buy off them (start with parsley!)
A pocket knife for over 8s – and free sticks to whittle. Yep. You can.
Lego – this product has stood the test of time and it rarely gets chucked in the bin.

Older teens:

A high quality cooking knife with their name engraved on it
A cast iron frypan with lessons on oiling (teflon and its cousins have the same problem as BPA – new chemicals used instead of the old chemicals remain untested and frequently end up being similarly toxic)
Camping tent which can be used in future
Organic/low chemical moisturiser / makeup to help them not impulsively buy untrustworthy crappy chemical cosmetic junk
Essential oils – and almond oil, maybe coconut oil and get them to google making your own shampoo, moisturiser etc – it’s expensive to start doing this but you can provide a kit to get them going. It’s particularly great for teens with allergies, fatigue etc.
Expensive good quality multivitamins that they would never buy themselves. Young adults push it to the max and don’t nourish themselves – their brains are still developing. We also have massive anxiety in these guys and micronutrients have been demonstrated to reduce anxiety. It’s kind of like modern malnutrition because our food is grown so differently. Because of this and this and this
A present via a charity that helps someone else – eg. a goat, mosquito net, seeds and tools
A very cool, beautiful and snazzy cookbook that is low on sugar and white carbohydrates.
Luxurious good quality bath towels they will take with them and use forever.

And love them big time.
Because money can buy you comfort when life is tough and hard – but it cannot buy you happiness.

Present for people you love with sick children If you are trying to make changes to help children or teenagers recover from some of the complex chronic illnesses they are being hit with – skin problems, allergies, irritable bowel, constipation, neurodevelopmental challenges – the book, What’s Making Our Children Sick by practicing paediatrician Michelle Perro and USC academic Vincanne Adams (with case studies to make you realise it isn’t just your family), is riveting and detailed.

Interest statement: No money is made from recommending anything.

Posted in Health, Kids & Family, Philosophy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Quote from Dr Jeffrey Bland

‘Yes. Food does contain calories and it does contain protein, carbohydrate and fat, it does contain vitamins and minerals and fibre certainly that’s true. But it’s much more than that. Food is information. Food is information upon which your genes regulate their function.

Now when you think of that, it’s like, whoah, there is a lot more responsibility in eating, than I would have ever have suspected based upon the fact that our food is speaking to our genes in such a way that its actually creating an outcome called our ‘function.’

This has led to the development of a new field called nutrigenomics. So we have our nutrition and we have our genes and they used to be separate disciplines, now they are melded together. So if we understand unique aspects of our genetics we understand unique aspects of our need for specific nutrients for a specific food. So there is no one diet that’s perfect for everybody.’

Quote from Conversations that Matter

More information on Dr Jeffrey Bland can be found here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Desperation, curiosity & persistence – finding health & joy.

One day a French girl arrived to stay with us in New Zealand, she was a friend of a friend. As she stepped out of her car her long legs stretched forever, she was glowing, and she looked like the type of girl for whom everything was perfect, on whom the sun always shined. She gave me a kiss and a hug and became a friend for life. After time spent together, I begged her let me put her story online, for I know so many girls, and women that need to hear and understand that they too, can become radiant, and possess a glowing smile that is so full of love and giving and positive energy. All it takes is desperation, curiosity, and persistence.

“I grew up in a middle-class family where French culture was very present, we mainly ate cereals, vegetables and meat, just like everyone else. From my birth it was difficult for my mother as I cried incessantly.

According to our doctor, like many other children my problem was ‘intestinal fragility’ – what many doctors refer to as colic. Nothing very disturbing (as doctors see this problem frequently!), “it will pass,” he said.

A few years later, perhaps when I was eight or ten years old, towards the end of each meal, my stomach would start to get more and more ballooned, or swollen, and it would cramp up. I would be constipated. If I was fed a flavoured dairy dessert, I would vomit involuntarily. But it was insisted that I could not leave the table until I had finished my dessert.

I could not tolerate dairy very well, but at that time the media would discuss the benefits regarding the health of children, to consume at least one serving dairy per meal, so our family thought it was healthy.

My mother often had to massage my stomach so that I could sleep, it was horribly uncomfortable. Many times I have had such a huge stomach and painful cramps and we had to go to the hospital.

The doctors certified to my mother that it was appendicitis. However she refused the operation and demanded an ultrasound to know what was happening inside my belly. In reality my belly was filled with gas that could not escape. The ultrasound showed millions of compressed bubbles in the colon.

The doctors, not knowing what to do, simply advised us to wait, and when the cramping was happening take anti-pain medicines. Apparently, all this was due to stress. Now I know it was much more than that.

Roughly one year later at school, I was unhappy at school and extremely stressed, finding school a nightmare. The stress and my degraded immune system resulted in a shingles outbreak in the lower back, a terribly painful mycosis fungal infection in the mouth and throat, which prevented me from eating. As my immune system could not cope, I also became infected with acute paronychia on the edges of my nails.

I couldn’t sleep because of the pain of the shingles, and the horrible feeling of the shingles infection. I couldn’t eat because the fungal infection hurt my mouth, and it was horrible breathing because it badly affected my throat.

Throughout my childhood I had many courses of antibiotics. For perhaps ten years I would have tonsillitis twice a year, at the beginning and end of winter. Each time I would be prescribed antibiotics.

I was completely flat and dejected. My mother took me to a specialised hospital for the children, because otherwise they did not know what to do despite the medical analysis.

The doctors thought of a defect in the immune system but could not conclude anything without further analysis and prescribed antibiotics. Of course, when I was sick, the doctor was prescribing antibiotics, and my vaccines were all up to date.
I was constantly plagued by migraines.

Fortunately for a few years, we had been mainly eating fruits and vegetables. My mother was very interested in health and always did a lot of research. As years went on we were eating more and more BIO / Organic and we were constantly looking for new food supplements.

As I got older, in my teenage years I refused to take my vaccines and take antibiotics. My mother inquired about alternatives like the power of medicinal plants or even homeopathy and treated me with that.

At the age of 21, I left home. My diet changed dramatically. As I was working it was simpler to eat out and buy pre-prepared meals from the supermarket. I was studying as a commercial engineer, working every second week in an office. All meals for lunches were prepared dishes … I ate very little fresh produce and very rarely fruits and vegetables.

I was getting more and more tired, depressed, my memory and concentration was getting worse and worse, I was losing my balance and I was also doing less and less sports for lack of time (but I was also very fatigued, so it was hard to find the energy). As a child I had learnt ballet for 6 years – but now I found I could not even synchronise my limbs together.

I was very subject to the stress between Parisian life, my studies and my work. I was more and more exhausted and everything was appearing to be overwhelming and complicated. I felt like I was living like a robot that reverts to the same thing every day. I was not able to go to the bathroom for 7 days, constipation was part of my daily life. I also had gynaecological problems. I was seeing my health deteriorate day by day but I was unable to find the strength to change.

For six years I could not explain what I had. The doctors could not explain it either.

I came to the end of my studies, I had more than my last year of Master and I could not imagine continuing my life in this way. I felt as if I were travelling through life asleep. Each day became a nightmare, always the same rhythm (subway, work, sleep) and I felt increasingly sad and trapped inside myself and my life.

This permanent fog in my head kept me from thinking and finding a way out. How did this happen? Is this my life or is there another alternative? How can I change? What should be done? What is the priority? And the energy to take the first steps….. So many questions that remain without answers, until one day…

Three years ago my mother sent me videos about a man talking about the body and its functioning. I did not really pay attention to it, until I came across a video that described something I felt: “chronic fatigue”.

After more than an hour watching and listening to this gentleman speaking, I collapsed into tears … All the symptoms they discussed, I knew them so well. I lived them every day and I had suffered so much … I wept with joy, and I was so frightened. Change is hard, and because I was so foggy in my brain, it felt so daunting.

But I knew I had to change. I couldn’t ‘unlearn’ this knowledge. I had heard a truth.

How could I have lived this nightmare so long … why had I not seen this information before? It was powerful to understand that my symptoms were the same as other people. This problem was not just ‘in my head’. The video also talked about solutions and how to make changes. I knew it would take time but I had no choice. It was now that I had to act.

At the end of the video, I decided it was time to get out of fog and live my life. I had pretended I was fine for so long, to everyone around me. No-one wants a boring, sad friend.

But now, I just realized that my body was exhausted. The video explained the main causes and especially the fundamental relationship of the body this modern wheat, that ingest we so much of, every day. I decided to stop everything, gluten, milk, meat, sugar, processed food, table salt … immediately.

This was a very radical decision for my body, however I felt like I had found the key and knew that this was the path I had to follow to regain my health.

Because I even eating was hard when I started this journey, I was only 55kilograms. Then I lost 7 kilograms when I suddenly changed my diet. My family and friends were very worried, it was a radical change and I looked shocking. I was gaunt, my bones were sticking out, my skin was pale, I had no strength yet I ate better and better. My body was too weak to assimilate what it was receiving. The change had been too brutal, in hindsight I now realize the importance of taking time to allow time for the body to regenerate. I now know my immediate overnight change wasn’t a wise choice and I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. But I had been desperate.

I could not stand for long. It became impossible for me to go shopping or go out alone. For three months, after work and on weekends I would stay in my apartment and simply rest and prepare all my meals. I learned to cook healthily, finding ideas on the internet and lessons on YouTube. My meals consisted mainly of fruits and vegetables. Every night I drank a glass of fresh vegetable juice – it also helped with toileting and if I didn’t drink the juice I felt dehydrated.

I was always constipated and saw YouTube videos to understand about enemas. I started to use an enema each day to ensure the proper evacuation of the waste. If I didn’t do it, I would spend hours on the toilet. So many articles and papers discuss that when people are constipated the toxicity goes back into their system, it is reabsorbed. Now I could clean out my system.

My stomach would be so swollen, so tight, the waste was stuck in my descending colon. I would try to massage it down to help it get through, but it wouldn’t move. I would sit on the toilet and try and try, and would just end up bleeding from the pressure of trying.
How long had some of the blockage been there? I was so toxic. Life was so hard.

After 8 months of completely altering my lifestyle, the changes appeared. I found energy again.

I’m not just talking about the change from my diet. It goes beyond that, I’m talking about a change in lifestyle and thoughts. My diet became mainly organic, I only drank water filtered with clay, I no longer use industrial beauty products. I learnt to make everything myself using simple and natural products – deodorant, makeup remover, moisturiser, toothpaste (though I now buy fluoride free toothpaste and shampoo as chemical free as possible from organic/health shops). Vinegar for cleaning the bathroom, vinegar, lavender oil and black soap for house cleaning.

I am now much more selective regarding the information that I receive by different media. I no longer watch television endlessly at night.
I learnt to meditate, sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes one hour. Repeating a phrase helped me empty my brain for this time, keep thoughts and busy-ness away.

I read lots of books about personal development. I found the writings of Lise Bourbeau, Shakti Gawain, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Don Miguel Ruiz helped me. I learnt about, and applied myself to the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono. Everyone has their own path, their own way.

Over this time everything changed. I really couldn’t believe it. My nails became stronger and stopped flaking. My embarrassing body odours and menstrual pain had almost completely disappeared. My skin recovered to a beautiful colour. My pimples disappeared. My migraines stopped. My sleeping improved. I now wake up refreshed as I used to wake up exhausted.

What was exciting for me (and others out there will understand this), is that I was now going to the toilet frequently and normally. After years of anxiety, of knowing that when I ate food, it would have nowhere to go, of knowing that I would be sitting on the toilet for endless hours in quiet desperation.

I didn’t realise that this change had occurred – sometimes change is so subtle -until I went camping and couldn’t take my enema. Then it happened, I could toilet normally, without stress, like ‘everbody else.’ I was a revelation! It was unbelievable!
Years later, I still don’t take this for granted. There is a simple happiness as well as a health benefit from going to the toilet every day.

This huge part of my day, of my life, was now more. The relief.

My weight slowly returned to normal. Now I am 60 kilograms, the happiest and healthiest I have ever been.

Resuming sport and exercise helped my lymphatic system to evacuate the waste. I now have energy and resilience. Each week I happily go on a three hour walk, bounce on my favourite ‘Belicon’ trampoline – and I love it.

My lifestyle was radically different, I was more and more interested in health, I could spend hours researching, understanding, and testing on me. I learned a lot about my body and its acidity.

The most mind-blowing thing for me though, was that I now had clarity of mind. From living in a fog each day in my shrinking world, to now being able to process thoughts, plan ahead, and amazingly, to feel joy and happiness

I am awake.

I am not a spectator any more. I am an active participant in life. I can create my future.

At the end of a year after these changes I had finally regained a normal life. But I was a different person. How can you explain the joy and the liberation one can feel after all these years of suffering, to see my body functioning like it was meant to.
So now, what is normal, when I know so many other people out there are sick like I was?

It has been three years now since I have made all these changes in my life. My vision of life seems so different, I am now twenty six and feel alive as I have not been for a very long time.

The body is complex and yet it is so simple to allow it to regenerate and be in full health. Let’s go back to basic things.

This is my new normal.

Be happy, be free.

My recipe for my free, happy life:

Dairy and gluten free.
Eat mainly raw and green fruits and vegetables (lot of colours in your plate).
Fresh pressed vegetables juice each day (not a smoothie as at the start it had too much fibre) – carrots beetroot orange lemon ginger / Green vegetables (Spinach, fennel) lemon apple garlic.
Cook with organic products.
Mainly vegetarian with just a little naturally sourced (not farm raised) fish.
No red meat, pork or poultry.
Try to buy organic eggs, at a minimum free range.
Use good organic oil – coconut oil (for cooking), olive oil (as a dressing for raw salads) and good apple vinegar.
Lots of cooked onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and other spices in meals.
Drink good water – filtered with clay to avoid chemicals, medications in water.
Reduce sugar and try to only source sweet ingredients as organic honey.
Fermented food – sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha.
Research the sport and exercise that suits you – try to find a forest to walk in.
Positive thoughts, reading, meditation to help you on your journey.

Just begin – step by step – choose the best steps that are best for you

Note: This is my own journey, this is just advice. It is important to consult your doctor if you have any medical problems

Posted in Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shifting kids to a healthy meal plan – breakfast lunch and dinner

Please believe me that I had the trickiest kid ever – a slow eater that had suffered from massive colic (in hindsight I would now take that baby to a nutritionist straight away), that merged into super slow eating and anything too chunky or stringy would come straight up all over the dinner plate. He would have loved me to separate out foods, but to me that always felt like a recipe for disaster, leading to a slow process where tastes could become so simple that as he got older it would get harder. I preferred to plow on with a wider range of vegies (i.e. nutrition) in his meals. Of course a meat and three veggies meal would always be on the menu.

I’ve changed a lot since the early days, to bring concentration, and sleeping, and all the little things that make life better when bringing up a kid – I had to. Back then we did the sugar yoghurt, basic cereals, that haven’t been healthily produced, pasta and probably a little too much crackers. Change always happens little by little, there will always be someone better at all this and worse than you at all this. However, today we can’t afford to put our head in the sand – our kids gastric, mental, and physical health is related to what we stock in our pantry/kitchen. So many kids get one thing, then another and another. Frequent regimes of antibiotics contribute to make them sicker. We have to face the fact that while our current population is living older than populations before, we are getting sicker younger, and sickness is frequently miserable and life sapping.

This article is a super quick rundown of what works in my family. Because I don’t want the new normal: allergies, low immune system, can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, listlessness, frequent doctor visits and serial antibiotics prescriptions, runny poo/constipation, pale face, tired eyes.

Don’t blame yourself: Our food has changed, greater choice can be great, but it means your kids don’t necessarily eat things in season that are critical to health – wasn’t the case twenty years ago. Please understand, scientific understanding tells us that between 5-15% of illness is related to GENES! Genes don’t change quickly. What does change quickly are the influencers on our genes – our epigenetics (epigenetic means ‘above the gene’) and our epigenetics are influenced by all the chemical additives – environmental factors – that surround us. The greatest exposures for our families come through the mouth.

Cancer rates are still increasing, not plateauing (we are getting better at fixing many forms of cancer though), chronic disease increasing – until you have had any of this in your house, it is very easy to believe that it won’t happen to you or your loved ones. The data proves that in all likelihood, it will. And of course, most illness is accompanied by other illness – frequently depression or anxiety, perhaps skin conditions. Know that your body systems are not separate silo’s, everything relates to each other – take charge (even when your kids curse you with the venom of a hundred vampires) – because you are the parent. That’s why true healing can take a long time – but, happily, when people change diets (particularly if helped by a nutritionist) they frequently are freaked out by all the amazing things that can happen in only 6 weeks.

Let’s get onto food ideas.

Most important three things:
1. Cut out processed food
2. Double vegetables
3. Protein for breakfast

Sorry to tell you this, but vegetable oils can easily have 6 different applications of pesticides on them; cereals such as wheat, oats and barley can have 3 different pesticides on them today. Frequently oilseeds (and sometimes cereals) dried down for harvest with Roundup (not when we were growing up). Sugar is also dried down with Roundup. Getting soy, corn, sugar, wheat out of your diet improves health chances dramatically. Roundup is implicated in destroying the microbiome balance, neurological disorders, damaging organs at parts per trillion, probably causing cancer etc etc. We do not want this stuff on our food.

USE: naturally sourced (eg. Himalayan) salt. (Home cooking never uses as much salt as convenience/ junk food.)
BUY: herbs & spices cheaply from Asian/Indian stores. Bulk food from Gilmours.
AVOID: Anything processed with soy, canola, corn (likely GMO plus extra Roundup on it); sugar (dried down for harvest with Roundup). All these things organic at low levels are mostly’fine’.

Moving to a nutritious, lasting, brain feeding, protein heavy breakfast

Replace: wheatbix (or similar square wheat breakfast thing in your country) with gluten free wheatbix asap.
Move to: Homemade muesli – plain oats with 1/3 nuts and seeds; 1/3 dried fruit and a bit of dark chocolate thrown in to tempt. Half chopped piece fruit on top. Ultimate best for gut: Soak in plain yoghurt overnight. PUT ON a good youtube clip and make muesli – chop nuts to get more in. Brazil nuts all kids hate by themselves but in muesli – just give it nice texture. Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sultanas, apricots, prunes, coconut and dark CHOCOLATE!

Egg or baked beans for breaky: if kids hate texture of eggs – mix it like an omelette and serve loaded with tomato sauce – after a while reduce tomato sauce and see if they want their eggs cooked differently. Start with crap sugar supermarket baked beans and move to organic better tasting.

LUNCHBOXES: BAKE sugarfree once a week – or get KIDS to! Most baking – can take ½ sugar out & it still works! Cheaper than a biscuit at school.
Replace: soft drink/sugared drinks with cordial – move to chemical free cordial. Best time to have it – straight after school for hydration – later on move to water.
Wheat: once a day or less. Organic better wheat can be sprayed with lots of fungicides – not just gluten damages gut.(I have a breadmaker, it is half price and 3 minutes out of my day) So perhaps – sandwiches for lunch or pasta for dinner but only one lot of wheat per day. If your kid is frequently unwell for lots of little gastric or immune related conditions, possibly take all wheat and dairy out and SEE A NUTRITIONIST!!!!

WEEKENDS: Make soup, homemade baked beans (or organic tinned with a couple of big handfuls of parsley, spike with extra olive oil), pasta, massive salads (grow them big as they grow).

AFTER SCHOOL: If they are staring at the TV they will just… eat stuff! – chopped carrot, capsicum (never worked for me but you can try), almonds and other nuts, dried fruit, hommous and raw thinly sliced sweet potato to dip into it. (Yes!) Limit cheese to not too much so they are more likely to eat carrots. Baking would be gluten free (any recipe works, just add an extra egg, and you can halve the sugar usually without too much stress. I do buy organic sugar as Roundup herbicide is a common herbicide sprayed on sugarcane as a pre-harvest treatment.

The one time my kids would have sugar would be a weak cordial straight after school – so they would down it. Most kids are dehydrated but with so many distractions they stay distracted and don’t rehydrate. Today however, I go for smoothies, hot chocolate made from dark chocolate, chilli and a bit of honey, and ever now and then a cordial. I have a couple of afternoons a year making my own cordial while listening to podcasts, cheap and chemical free.

Hot chocolate? Buy dark chocolate – Heat up with a dessertspoon of honey an a pinch of chilli – reduce honey by half after kids have accepted it.

By the way, my recipe for basic rehydration is a 1/3 of a teaspoon of Himalayan salt in water (add a dash of cordial to get your kids switching from rubbish sports drinks to this version). Frequently kids with headaches are dehydrated. Recent studies show most kids are.


TOUGH KID LOVE: kids separating out food means they really reduce vegie content – this gets them sicker (ie. nutrient deficient) earlier – the trick is – chopping things really finely and small to start with – and slowly building up textures over time. But making sure lots good oil (olive or butter or coconut oil).

If you think your toddler is hard to get eating – wait until you try to change habits of a fourteen year old. I have to admit, I got my kids to mainly have a small serve of eg. greens/orange/purple vegies till they were 8. After 8 I came down on them a bit harder. We also stopped dessert except on weekends. But they can always have fruit if still hungry.

LISTEN: to fantastic and interesting stuff while you cook – make cooking part of your life not a little bit of something you whip up quickly. Biggest co-relation with chronic disease/mental health – is familial habits – NOT genes. You are a creative – this is inside you.

Replace: take non-organic chicken out of diet – replace with organic tofu – too many problems with chicken (it’s in the medical literature) – antibiotics, killing kids guts, cancer association etc. (Free range is fed same crap as non-free range so healthwise no better).

Replace: crap vegie oil (canola, soy as it’s sprayed with Roundup & heaps chems) with good oil (olive or butter or coconut oil). Rice bran oil is sort of OK…

Mash: Get out of the only potato habit – kumara or carrot & parsnip. Lots butter or olive oil and himalayan salt (nutmeg too for a bit of extra love)

STOP: Using pre-made supermarket sauces & flavourings. Keep ginger, chilli in your freezer. Use lots of garlic – ½ a bulb.

USE: stalks broccoli in soups/casserole, all of celery especially leaves.

COOK IN BULK EVERY TIME: minimum 3 meals – dinner + left overs + freezer

1. FRIED RICE/STIRFRIES: Brown rice. Move to brown rice by putting white and brown together – then just go all brown – hugely nutritious in comparison to white rice (gut slime). Make rice/noodles less than a 1/3 of the complete meal. Low carbs – high nutrition. Stack it with heaps of vegies, nuts, tamari sauce & fresh ginger.
1 cup brown rice – cooked earlier. 1 onion – chopped very finely, 6 garlic cloves (can buy minced garlic from Indian store); cup of meat (tinned tuna, fresh fish, bacon or organic tofu), tablespoon ginger (increase with tolerance), 2-3 carrots, diced, ½ PURPLE cabbage, cup frozen peas.
Saute onions, garlic, ginger, carrots – then add other stuff.

2. KUMARA LASAGNE: Replace pasta with thin kumara slices quickly grilled. Make MINCE DISHES stretch by adding dried beans (of course after soaking them while you sleep & then boiling).
Only buy Kiwi meat that hasn’t been in a CAFO Ie. Australian mince .. .
Melt a whole bunch of chopped parsley & whole bunch silver beet into lasagne or casserole dishes.
Cheese sauce – really thick but please grate your cheese – preservatives on grated cheese are BAD.

3. THAI CURRY – Boil vegies in coconut milk (carrot, broccoli, kumara, cabbage); add dash fish sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar – serve with rice. IF that is acceptable  then, next time:
1 onion, 3 garlic bulbs. Saute add coriander, cumin, – add stuff above – if that good – buy supermarket green curry paste – only start with a teaspoon. KIDS LOVE COCONUT MILK FOOD.
4. LENTIL SAUSAGE LOVE (add to this dish 4 sausages or ham hock):
Heaps olive oil, 2 onions, 8 cloves garlic, 2 cups lentils, big bunch parsley, big bunch silverbeet; big bunch celery (both chopped real fine), 4 carrots, 400g tin tomato paste, heaps oregano, himalayan salt, pepper – can choose to pre saute onion and garlic or just boil in water.

Source: bulk food – bulk organic food
Buy: good quality kitchen equipment
Stretch: meat dishes out with beans/lentils – makes them more affordable. Also build up slowly beans and lentils in your diet – vital to a broad and healthy gut microflora – just realise that when you have a big bean dish and do bottom burps – it is simply because you haven’t built up your gut microflora, little by little.

Be kind to yourselves, and if you don’t want your kids eating it, don’t buy it! Frequently kids can be seduced by real food instead. You can do this.

Posted in Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Illnesses affecting families today.

2016 header slim white
Talk: Why are we getting sicker, younger?
A Sustainable Backyards event.

When: 7.30pm Thursday, 24th March 2016
Where: Tauranga Boys College Graham Young Youth Theatre
Cost: $10 (please bring cash)

Do I need to book?: No bookings required, please just arrive at 7.20 for a 7.30 prompt start. If there are too many people we will repeat the talk – we live locally.

Illness takes many forms, from a diagnosed illness (or three) to lots of little problems – be they disturbed childhoods, where sleeping is a constant challenge and kids can’t settle; developmental disorders; or perhaps diarrhoea or reflux is a persistent nightmare; maybe fatigue, depression; a painful body and a constant mind-fog haunts you, or it affects the people you love. Is this the way we have to live? Is this how your future will play out?

This interesting and fact filled discussion will explore the critical links between food, your gut & modern day illnesses and challenges. Is it really “all in the genes?”
Why are health challenges different for this generation – why are we, as the World Health Organisation has confirmed – getting sicker – younger?

In this talk designed to appeal to both parents and teenagers, researcher and writer Jodie Bruning and nutritionist Rose Riley will attempt to unpick this complex story that science and modern research is still unravelling.

Boys and girls are affected in different ways by our environment and diets, boys may end up with higher likelihood of autism connected challenges, girls through hormonal and tummy problems. However frequently the 3 factors that tip all of us into most of the illness we see around us, are the same – gut health, nutrition and stress.

Topics this evening will attempt to address:

But it’s my genes? Recent understanding of how our genes are turned off or on by environmental triggers influences new understanding of health. Frequently, we don’t get sick until ‘something’ influences our genes. This new knowledge changes how we perceive many of the common inflammatory and immune related chronic diseases surrounding us today. Sickness is not necessarily ‘pre-destined’.

The new science around the microbiome, nutrition and stress. How the health of our gut wall and microbiome is associated with a surprisingly wide range of chronic (long term) inflammatory illnesses. Many illnesses not considered to be inflammatory and connected to gut health by scientists a decade ago are now considered to be part of this story. The science today linking this knowledge together is extremely fast moving and exciting.

Ingredients & chemicals – what’s up with numbers? Many health based practitioners are steering people away from convenience food and ingredients we have commonly assumed are safe. But are the ingredients really so bad? They’re safely assessed by our food regulators… right?

Now for the good news. Our bodies are created to heal. The connections science – and mothers – are making to regain health.

Habits and the psychology of change.
This is the hard bit – no matter what we hear, many of the foods we consume too much of, are highly addictive. Furthermore eating a shared meal or snack with the friends we love is a special part of many relationships. What happens when we change our dietary habits and they don’t? How do we manage this and move forward?

Media – bought and sold – or sceptically healthy? Here we discuss the media types that are selling you health. Information can vary dramatically, depending on the bottom line. Here we discuss how it’s best to be sceptical, how media can be your friend or foe. There is a wealth of information out there and well informed social media can effectively help you in your journey.

The talk will finish with recommendations and references and is part of New Zealand’s 2016 Bay of Plenty Sustainable Backyards programme.

Posted in Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tipping point – what’s with organic?

George Novak -photographer

George Novak -photographer

I can’t afford it. It’s too hard. Supermarket’s good enough for me.

What makes people change? For most people it is not an easy process. Going to the supermarket, whizzing around, piling up the car, now that’s convenient. So why would you go to all the bother? There’s got to be a tipping point. And it has to be for a variety of reasons, not just one. Change is always hard.

Here are my reasons:
1. Organic food is higher in nutrition

Why this is important.
Many illnesses are connected to lower nutrition – our grandparents got their nutrition from the soil, that’s always how humans did it. Effectively, I would prefer my kids to get more nutrition from a slightly more expensive natural food source that is better for them than from a capsule…and they digest it better.

2. Organic food is lower in chemicals.

Why this is important
Chemicals in your gut disrupt it. They work in different ways, mainly around reducing good bacteria (which then makes bad bacteria take over) and damaging – degrading your gut wall. Gut wall breakdown (permeablility, IBD etc) is the number one way you descend into ‘immune mediated illness’- which is connected to a whole range of illnesses we are seeing around us. Our grandparents had our genes – they just didn’t have our toxins. As a parent, you can choose to act preventatively, or you can try to make an already unwell family better. You’ll notice a lot of pharmaceutical organisations are investing money in developing medicine for the gut wall and talk is of medicine and probiotics to improve our microbiome. They know this is happening. Unfortunately there is not much talk about removing the toxins that lead to gut dysbiosis in the first place – so it’s a nice medical model if you have constant gut degradation. My point is – let’s stop the degradation in the first place. I could also discuss toxins as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, but gut dysbiosis is often the first step.

3. Don’t we only have to worry about the ‘dirty dozen’ – fruit and vegetables with the worst pesticides?

We wish it were so. Unfortunately science is finding out that the full formulation of pesticides (on our cereals, in dairy products, in corn and soy, on fruit and vegetables) are way more toxic than the ‘active ingredient’. If the full mix of a fungicide which is sprayed on wheat is 1000x more toxic to your cells (than the single ingredient our governments investigate) – then it means we should be investigating this. But this doesn’t happen. It’s a broken system that is very convenient for pesticides corporations.

4. But the government does toxicity testing to make sure our pesticides are safe?

Nup. Here are the facts:

The corporation that produces the pesticides or the genetically engineered food sends the NZ EPA the studies they select to prove safety of their own product. Therefore usually the studies are
a. Directly paid for by the company that made the product
b. Carefully selected by the company that made the product
c. Not available as a publicly released study to scientists and researchers for criticism and discussion

But at this stage, our NZ EPA doesn’t have enough funding/inclination/power to demand independent research, to look at the publicly released research and examine the facts. And as I said before, when it comes to pesticides (like Roundup), our NZ EPA never considers the full formulation, they only look at one part of the mix (eg. glyphosate). Can you imagine the cigarette industry only testing one ingredient in a cigarette and then providing you with the studies that say cigarettes are safe? It’s a broken system.

5. Realising that I can’t trust government assessments of the chemicals that go on my food is a bit weird.

Yup. Here’s another fact for you just to hammer it in. Permitted levels of Roundup on your cereals, wheat, oats and barley were increased 600% in 2006 internationally by Codex. NZ subscribes to Codex levels for imported food. However, also, traditionally NZ grown cereals have been higher in fungicides/insecticides/herbicides due to our slightly wetter growing climate. So we are in a bind. But the NZ government, in its Total Diet Survey, never tests Roundup in food including cereals. And many of the products sprayed on our cereals are ignored in the survey. It’s realising that this problem is across the food we eat. If you really want to get picky, the Codex levels aren’t really safe – they are worked out from old industry studies that say high levels on our food is just fine. For example, the ADI for Roundup (glyphosate) in the EU, Australia and NZ is .3mg/kg, but today scientists reckon it should be .025mg/kg, twelve times lower. Our governments aren’t looking at new science. And believe me, it is all about the science.

6. Seriously, this is doing my head in. I can’t afford it. Organic is expensive.

Maybe your family is as fit as a fiddle. No worries. But, if you find yourself at the doctor on a monthly basis, your children are sick on a monthly basis, you are on medication, you are home from work sick on a monthly basis, you are exhausted and fatigued, your kids are struggling with behaviour, toileting, they’re grizzly and can’t sleep or can’t concentrate, perhaps you could consider the set of costs you are dealing with right now. Medical procedures like ear infections and stents are expensive and related to degraded immune systems, intolerances and allergies are related directly to gut health. Translation – a sick gut equals a low immune system and less health. Our neurological functioning is also directly impacted by gut health, a whole new area of science that is just starting to be explored. The question becomes – what is too hard?

7. Yes but it’s overwhelming to even think like this?

a. Do not change all at once. Acknowledge that most people (like me) can’t afford a 100% organic diet. So for example, I still buy normal tomato sauce, spices, icing sugar, mayonnaise (but not canola based), dark chocolate. For a long time I still bought conventional dried fruit, nuts, tinned tomato.

b. Stop buying crap. Just stop. Crap is: anything that can has lots of ingredients on the label. Especially corn and soy (Check out the Food Babe for inspiration). Kids do not need chippies every day for lunch. Did you have them? Chips are party food. Sadly, the oils in chips have the highest Roundup pesticides levels in the world permitted, and if it is canola oil it is probably GM (unless it comes from Europe). Kids get used to it. They know you are caring for them. They feel better. And parties are more special. One day you’ll find yourself realising that instead of feeling guilty that you are denying your kids these ‘treats’ – you will realise that you are protecting them. Simple as that.

c. Breakfast cereal/carbohydrates. Gut health prevention. Buy a breadmaker for your partner (doesn’t he love tools?) – or get your friends or inlaws to chip in for your birthday. Takes 5 minutes to stick in the mixer. Each organic loaf costs under $2.
Cereals are relatively cheap so are easier to move onto. For example organic rice bubbles or cornflakes are roughly conventional price plus the cost of a coffee. What is a bit more healthy is eating meusli – organic oats cost between $3.60 – $5.50 a kilo. Hint – kids eat healthy beautiful muesli if you slip a few small dark chocolate chips through it. Wicked? Yes but look at the increased nutrition in their breakfast compared to rice puffs, weetbix or cornflakes.

d.Understand which food is vulnerable to higher residues. We need to understand that our farmers are feeding Roundup soaked pasture, forage and silage to livestock, that our government doesn’t discern the difference (as in check, test, manage or monitor) between imported soy/corn/lucerne/ddgs that is not GMO Vs GMO – farmers don’t have the choice because their feed inputs are not properly managed and labeled. 99% of GMO feed will be higher in Roundup and or a Bt toxin (page 219) that has been found to damage the gut wall and microbiome. Buy organic or know where your meat and milk is coming from. Which vegetables have Roundup or other chemicals sprayed on them to desiccate (dry out and get rid of) leafy matter?

e. Policy: One carbohydrate meal a day. It’s not just the gluten. It’s the stuff we can’t see. Think about a small kid having pasta for dinner. How much vegetables they actually put in their mouth. Then think about the vegie load if they eat a 100% NZ grown (grass fed) mince patty plus 3 veggies. There’s a massive difference in nutrition right there.
For breakfast, think about muesli, half a piece of fruit and a fried egg. No gluten, protein. Health.
Go for it with sandwiches for lunch, knowing they have nutrition on either side.

8.It’s how your grandparents did it – just 21st century style.

Grandparent fact no.1. : Grandparents spent a lot more of their weekly budget on food. We think we can buy cheap food and get away with it. Sickness levels tell us something is broken.
Grandparent fact no.2. : Grandparents grew a lot more food. Green veggies cost more – yet spinach, silverbeet, parsley and lettuce are easy to grow and don’t mind living in a normal flower bed. They won’t be offended I promise.
Grandparent fact no.3. : Grandparents had to eat preventatively – there was less medication back then acting like a safety net to help them. But what we are finding with today’s medication, is that we might end up on one thing, go onto another thing, and before we know it we have the same medication level as someone in their 80s and still feel like rubbish. Prevention is the best medicine.
Grandparent fact no.4. : There was simply not the same gut related illness levels in childhood and adulthood back them. We have the same genes as our grandparents but more stuff is going wrong. This is largely due to the environmental toxins & chemicals we are exposed to – that they weren’t.

9. Yes but we can’t get rid of all the toxins, that’s impossible!

We can reduce our load – our exposure – enormously. Researchers have tracked people going onto an organic diet and indicators of health have improved quickly and dramatically. By reducing our kids exposure they become more robust and can deal with the little things.

10. Wow – so many levels – cultural, ethical, environmental, and political.

Yes it’s a game shifter. You can’t do this and not think and reflect.

Our family culture does more to impact on what we eat than anything else. Our family culture therefore has more to do with health than anything else. We all have genes for illness, but we descend into a huge proportion of the illness presented to doctors today when we don’t have enough nutrition, and we have too many toxins in our diet. It’s as simple as that. Or put it like this, our genes contribute maybe 20% to our illness.

The ethical element is such a nice thing to reflect on. You start to meditate on the fact that you are treating yourself better. As a friend said to me after starting to eat organic, in a kind of shocked way ‘I feel more nourished’, she wasn’t used to thinking like that. Her vet partner has simply suggested the family go on an organic diet. But once you know you are treating yourself better, you understand that by paying true value for food, you are gentler on the earth, you are helping farmers nourish their soil (eg. Supermarket profits have increased 4% a year over the last decade while supplier profits have flatlined) and organic buyers have less power than supermarkets.

Environmental. Pesticides sprayed on our soil kills the microbiome. Like our own guts, the soil has a living microbiome that helps the soil nourish plants through lots of complex interactions that scientists are still finding out about. This is why organic products are higher in nutrients. Furthermore, there is less impact on waterways and drinking water sources.

Political. This is all about acknowledging that conventional food is not safe because our governments are not assessing and regulating genetically modified organisms or pesticides safely – because they are not independently looking at the public, independent studies. They have a big protective wall around them and the big agribusiness organisations. I am happy to talk with anyone that queries this. So by default, you become a political animal.

That is why it is so hard to change. But so important. Unfortunately it is the staple foods that have the highest residues.

It’s simple – like every generation before us we just have to proportionately spend a little more of our household budget on food than we previously did.

We will pay for our health one way or the other – either on toxin free, nutritious food, or in the pharmacy or at the doctors.

Spread the word.

Posted in Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zen Honeycutt & GMO food in New Zealand

Zen HoneycuttWay before I heard Zen Honeycutt was coming to New Zealand (Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga) I had read about her. She’s one chick that has really put it out there. Speaking up takes courage. You risk criticism, derision, and today in the world of social media – horrible internet trolls. And Zen is, well, incomparable. She has held rallies, walked into Monsanto shareholder meetings, met up with the US EPA, tested food and even breastmilk for pesticides and safety – all while bringing up 3 boys and staying married. I reckon she’s awesome. She’s done it with a team of other mums, who have also experienced the same stuff – sick kids that get better, they’ve posted testimonials, slowly and at times explosively built up a formidable information source

What happened to Zen to change her life? Sick kids. Simple as that. Here’s an extract from Zen’s story:

‘It was Thanksgiving and my five year old son sat across from me at the festive table. Though surrounded by eighteen cousins and jovial family members, he looked completely miserable. With a mouthful of savory stuffing, he should have been happy. Instead, within seconds his entire body was puffed up like a raspberry; red, and inflamed. His eyes glazed over and he drooped like a rag doll. We discovered that there were pecans in the stuffing. My son was on the verge of death. I scrambled to find the Epi Pen and my husband jabbed it into my son’s leg. I yanked it out and blood spurted from his leg. We rushed him to the hospital, both of us crying as my son moaned in the back seat. As he was hooked up to steroids and monitors, we prayed to God for his life.

I did not lose my son that day, but this happened more than once over the past five years, and happens thousands of times a year to American families. Our children could die from food. We did not have allergies like this when we were children. Something has changed and it’s not genetics. Neither my husband or I had food allergies.

My son went on to develop more allergies, including one to Carageenan, a seaweed food thickener, which can cause a slow growth of ulcers and stomach cancer. This was the last straw for me. No longer would I “put up” with allergies to food. When my son wished that his allergies would “go away”, instead of being resigned and doubtful, I wondered, “What if they could? What can we do about this?”

Just this week my son accidentally ate a walnut in some granola. Instead of puffing up, being stabbed with an EpiPen and nearly dying, he said “Mom, my tongue itches.” His stomach felt a little queasy. I called the doctor, gave him Benadryl and some Chinese herbs and he went to school two hours later. His allergy had been reduced from life threatening to mild. In addition, his allergic reactions to Carageenan are completely gone. What made the difference?

We found out about GMOs. We ate organic for the past year. He chose to drink an organic green drink every morning to heal his stomach. His gut and therefore his immune system, is growing stronger and his allergies are disappearing. His walnut allergy has gone from a 19 down to a .2. This is not a scientific study, this is our family’s reality. His healing is a triumph over toxic food and resignation. It is a triumph of the human spirit.’ (Original here.)

This is just one family’s story, but it becomes compelling when you hear the testimonials posted by mums that have other kids with different illnesses.

However, Like Pandora’s Box, this led Zen to inquiry into other stuff. Intimately tied to the 99% of GMOs authorised for human food (US and NZ) are the associated pesticides used with them (more on that below). Therefore, it is the overall toxicity of these products that concerns mothers like Zen.

What’s this got to do with New Zealand? We don’t have GMOs in our food here?

Think about contents of processed food and how much you see the words ‘corn’ or ‘soy.’ You might see the word ‘soy isolate.’ Then think about whether it is GM or not. If you are in a supermarket you will rarely find the words ‘contains genetically modified product.’ Does that mean we don’t have GMOs in our Kiwi food? We simply don’t know.

In New Zealand, food doesn’t have to be labelled genetically modified if
1. The GMO content is less than 1% or
2. The GMO DNA is stripped out of it
3. If there are no novel proteins. – so GMOs can’t harm us because the ‘bad’ stuff is gone. Right?

This means the food should be so processed that there is no GMO DNA in it. But no-one ever tests. Ever. Furthermore 99% of GMOs are higher in pesticides, as over 80% are ‘Roundup Ready’ and a Roundup application before harvest is the norm. But nowhere in the New Zealand government or EPA do they test for Roundup levels. Ever.

Let me repeat: There is simply no government testing of food in NZ to identify whether there is GM content in it or not. At all. It appears to be ‘self regulated’ by industry. An outlet only has to require labelling of products if it knows it has GM in it. If you don’t ask, don’t test, you don’t know. Perhaps there is no monitoring because if they find levels over 1% they will have to label. And that’s not good for PR. Nowhere in the world have people demanded, or wanted, GM product in their diet.

This is the three monkeys approach to regulatory safety of GMOs in New Zealand. Hear/speak/see no GMOs. And of course, unknown GMOs cannot be legally present at any level in our food. But there is never any testing for ‘unknown’ GMOs, whatever they may be…..

Why might we think New Zealand may have GM in its food? Increased incidence in inflammatory/immune related health are following US patterns

inflammatory pathogenesisWe know that New Zealand is seeing similar illness spikes in (now common) illnesses to the USA – that commonly begin with gut dysbiosis, or a permeable gut (where the gut wall has broken down). These illness levels have increased beyond traditional genetic tendency (consider how frequently our grandparents had allergies or celiac disease, for example).

Illness levels are increasing because because of external factors, known as environmental triggers.

Intestinal permeability &/or gut dysbiosis are correlated with (now) common disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut, Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease. But there are many more non-communicable illnesses with a co-factor of a ‘sick gut’ that aren’t commonly realised: allergies (including hay fever), bronchial asthma, autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, type 1 diabetes, obesity rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, CFS & ME, atopic eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, some cancers, metabolic and cardiovascular disturbances. It’s kind of, well, massive.

To clarify – for the above listed illnesses (not a complete list) you need three things:
1. Genetic predisposition
2. Environmental triggers (external factors like toxins)
3. Then the gut wall to break down – intestinal permeability

Zen started her research and work on GMOs. She didn’t know before this journey about intestinal permeability. She didn’t know about glyphosate’s effect on the digestive system. Or how GMOs could be harmful to the gut wall. She certainly didn’t dream Roundup would be in breastmilk. She just knew her kids got better toxin free and that GMOs were a part of it.

Zen’s kids health were her bottom line. Call that unscientific if you will. But it’s my bottom line too.

Question: Are GMOs safe?
Answer: No-one agrees (except people with industry connections)- but most people on the cautionary side believe there is absolutely not enough safe, transparent, publicly available long term research. (This is where, as a parent, logic and common sense may tempt you to agree).

Moms Across America (MAA) was established and started campaigning for labelling of GMOs. Testimonials were posted. Data was collected.

The big problems worldwide are conflicts of interest in the regulatory bodies, lack of transparency and funding for independent trials. But of course, Zen didn’t know this when she started her work. She was just thinking ‘sick kids get better on organic’. The labelling GMO debate has been a hugely controversial in the USA. This was where Zen and MAA initially focussed a significant proportion of their work. Unless you’ve been asleep for the past five years, the US has had attempt after attempt of citizens to implement labelling of GMO’s in various states. It’s been huge. The spend by the grocery manufacturers union, industry, and FMCG producers to stop labelling has been huge. $$Millions$$. Because somehow all those corporations have decided that the cost of labelling foods as ‘contains GMOs’ would be too expensive for the average American. Europe seems to have done it easily.

But it’s more than GMOs. Consider that wheat today is routinely sprayed with insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. Then consider that not one single regulatory agency in the world tests the full formulation of these products. Scientists have found that just the fungicide formulation along can be 1000x more toxic than the weaker active ingredient, the only part of the ‘mix’ they test. Then consider that the full formulation of all pesticides worldwide are never tested for toxicity, including Roundup. And then think of your kids gut (BTW they never make allowances for smaller kids size and vulnerability when they assess safety of pesticides). It’s not just the gluten, folks. It’s corruption.

Zen Honeycutt and the mothers of MAA are mothers who have watched the health of their children improve when purchasing organic food. This may seem too simple, and too good to be true (which is why you have to come and listen to her speak in person). But for these mums, the evidence is in front of them. Food matters.

Why is organic food is making a difference to family health?:
1. Reduced toxin levels – primary toxins in our children’s food today are GMOs and synthetic pesticides. There are also food colourings, preservatives, flavour enhancers and so on. These products are rarely in organic produced foods.
2. Organic food also has a scientifically proven higher nutritional content. These children are eating food that is similar to what their grandparents ate. It’s as simple as that.

Is organic food expensive? Not when you start visiting the doctor and pharmacy less, and start sleeping through the night. It’s a different set of costs. Many of these mothers don’t eat a 100% organic diet – many find an 80% diet works.

These mothers are reducing 2 of the 3 factors that scientists are starting to understand are needed to cause so many of these illnesses. They are taking out the environmental trigger, and they are restoring their children’s gut wall with healthy nutritional food that enables the gut wall to rebuild itself.

You can give a formal term to what Zen and Moms Across America are doing – they are providing in-field, epidemiological evidence. They’re compensating for the fact that after 14 years+ no diagnostic tools for any health professional to find out if GMO content in diet has a relationship to their illness. So we are kind of stuck – the only way we can ensure safety is by elimination.

GMO’s – Further Reading: It’s not just altered genes we need to be worried about – it’s gut-harming toxin/pesticide residue levels

Roundup is routinely sprayed on over 80% of GMOs. So most GM products will have higher levels of Roundup. If you are a practical Kiwi you will tell me, ‘Roundup is fine, you can drink it.’ What you may be interested in, if you are thinking of your kids health, is of how mainstream media is ignoring the barrage of publicly released science that is saying Roundup is unsafe. But don’t worry, the NZ EPA only uses science that the pesticide industry provides to prove safety of Roundup. And our EPA hasn’t looked at any new science since 2009 to understand the overwhelming picture that scientists (who are not paid by the pesticide industry) are pulling together of the toxic effects Roundup produces in our endocrine, gastroeintestinal and neurological systems. Massive data gaps.

Unfortunately, it’s not just GMO’s that can have Roundup sprayed on it. Therefore reading about Roundup will only be of interest to you if you eat wheat, oats, vegetable oil, potatoes, sugar, lupins and drink beer (barley). All these foods are approved to have Roundup sprayed on them up to 7 days before harvesting in to human food. Oh, also if you eat pork and chicken as these animals are primarily fed GM protein meal, of which the significant proportion is sprayed with Roundup. Our food is fundamentally different in its toxin load than the food our grandparents ate.

And those GMOs that don’t have Roundup sprayed on them? (Excepting the 1% of other stuff.) They contain a ‘Bt’ insecticide bacteria toxin. Naysayers will say the organic industry uses this in it’s pest management systems so it is totally fine. What the naysayers don’t mention is that a spray on our food is totally different from a bacterium injected into our food. That explodes insects guts. Nice. Today many GMOs have the Bt toxin inside them and also have Roundup sprayed on them. GMO’s have been crossed, or stacked. So today a GMO corn for example, is approved to go in New Zealand food and feed that can have Roundup and 2,4-D sprayed on it. What is pretty insane, is that our approval authority FSANZ approved this corn before they even knew the levels of 2,4-D that were going to be sprayed on it (2,4-D is neurotoxic amongst other things). FSANZ approved of 2,4-D tolerant corn years before America approved of it. We have varieties of potatoes, sugar beet, corn, cotton, rice canola and soybean that are approved to go in our food in New Zealand.

You can find all the GMO approvals for New Zealand here.

Another problem. Confrontingly, when new releases come through of a new GM product, they are released based on ‘available science’ – science is not specific to that product at time its approved. Scientists can wait years to determine whether decisions are correct. Meanwhile the product has been approved for release in that time. Furthermore the studies accompanying these new releases are almost always provided by the product developer rather than an independent third party. The product is under the developers proprietary control and unavailable for independent testing. So, in all likelihood there are zero scientific studies provided in the literature that is provided for assessment.

Another problem. There is also a new generation of GMOs moving through the system. Known as GM2.0, industry is busy attempting to make them resolutely ‘non-GMO’ so that they can avoid all that pesky regulation that has been such a nuisance for industry for the first generation. (And believe me, by declaring GMO’s as GRAS and as ‘substantially equivalent’ and avoiding having to submit any publicly released transparent long term feeding trials, industry actually did avoid a lot of hassle with the current crop. Non-industry scientist have spent the last 2 decades trying to unravel that nasty mess, and internationally there is still no consensus that GMOs are even safe, no matter what industry funded blogs tell you).

What do mums want? They want the same quality of food – high in nutrition – low in toxins – for their children that their grandparents ate.

Zen, we can’t wait to hear your story, and to hear how you are working with other mums to make American food safety agencies more transparent, helping people understand this story, and how you are making your own world and the people around you – healthier.

We have a new generation of activists that are campaigning for healthy kids. And they come from the most conservative backgrounds you can imagine.

How outrageous.

Posted in Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When it comes to kids with gut related illness – Make changes, but lose that guilt.

Michelle PerroOne of the most important things paediatrician Dr Michelle Perro can say to mums is ‘We didn’t know’. But we do know now.

This article is an abbreviated extract of an engaging and enlightening youtube interview with Molly Arthur. As Ms Arthur says, Dr Perro is a ‘clarion clear voice for issues around health.’

What changes have you seen in the last thirty years in children?

‘Molly it’s been an interesting journey and the unfortunate part is I’ve seen a decline in children’s health with a profound increase in very alarming health issues, and they encompass all types of health issues – be they respiratory, endocrine disorders such as diabetes, allergy; or involve premature puberty – big problem in children kids going into puberty at 8 or 10 for girls, 12 for boys – you can imagine what is happening in middle schools, it’s a disaster; and health issues around neurodevelopment regarding ADHD disorder, as well as autistic spectrum, and on and on. It’s a profound change in what paediatricians are treating now in children.

‘My practice has evolved. I was a paediatric emergency physician, and over the years I have changed what I do to embrace what I am seeing now… My practice involves integrative health – paediatric medicine, functional medicine, homeopathic medicine – because what I have learned is the previous methods of healing children no longer apply now.’

Because children are sicker today, different types of health issues are challenging professionals, which is the reason why Dr Perro has changed the way she treats her patients. She suggests major factors in the reason health is declining – ‘our food and increased food toxicity, environmental toxins and the influence of drugs on children’s systems and how we practice health and give healthcare’.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMost of what we are seeing is toxic-related. I spend a lot of time talking about nutrition in my practice. Sometimes I feel all I do is talk about food.’
Dr Perro believes that good food, rich in nutrition – which has always been the cornerstone for children’s health – is compromised today.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that children should only be eating non-processed, organic food because here is no amount of pesticides in food that is safe for children. There is a lot of good research on that.’

This is despite, and here Dr Perro sighs, ‘an EPA report on pesticides, I was scanning 250 pages and they talk about the state of our kids health. They had one small paragraph in there about glyphosate. In a class of pesticides called aromatase inhibitor, there is a lot of toxicity, not just for children. Just one paragraph did say there was a link with glyphosate and reproduction… It’s clear, glyphosate has been widely published in European studies of the health risks on animals. This particular pesticides. But there are lots of pesticide. This is just one…’

For example in the Central Valley in California, a big growing area, lots of organophosphates and clear studies linking organophosphates and increased rates of ADHD in children. They’ve studied why is this happening? What types of enzymes these kids lack? Why are the children unable to break down the pesticides?

So you think this ties into the increase in illness and quantity and depth of illness our children have now? ‘I do.’

You see a direct correlation with the environmental toxins? ‘I do…. We’ve had to become toxicologists as paediatricians…. Kids are more exposed, no doubt. ’

‘There are no studies on the multi effects of children showing how multiple chemical exposures, the cumulative effect of the toxins in our diets, effect children. What happens when you have plastic, heavy metals, mercury and lead… what happens when they are together, with genetically modified foods?

These are some of the things we are trying to untangle. We see sick children and parents are coming to us saying help us – what do we do?’

When asked by Ms Arthur to cite an example, Dr Perro works with patients, Dr Perro described this scenario.:
‘You take a child with severe school disruption. The child is unable to focus in class, child’s disruptive in class, the mother’s getting called into school. The child is impulsive, aggressive, disruptive. Just ADHD issues. They often have gut issues as well, these kids. Many of them also have sleep issues. They come home and can’t get to sleep. They’re wired. So mothers are getting calls from constantly from school, they need all sorts of special school support, the kids are aggressive, often impulsive, you can imagine what that’s like, they can’t sleep so half the family is up all night, then you have a sleep deprived family, and many of these kids have secondary health issues. They have asthma, allergies, and you have a mum like that who is managing 1, 2 or 3 kids and I have families with three children or more and each child has a health issue.If kids don’t have healthy guts The rest goes to pot…

So how do you clinically diagnose?

There are things now that are in my toolbag that I didn’t even have ten years ago. I wish I had these things, I have just been learning it as I have gone along. It depends on the child – but I look a lot at the gut. The gut is the largest immune organ – 70-90% of our immune system comes from the gut. If kids don’t have healthy guts? The rest goes to pot.

You need healthy flora many children have had multiple courses of antibiotics for recurrent ear infections. It alters their biome, and that causes disruptions in their immune system. The other thing I see a lot, is for example, leaky gut. Children who leak these different proteins, and develop secondary immune responses, and have food allergies.
How do you diagnose a leaky gut?

I can remove certain food group offenders and see how kids do. An elimination diet. That’s the easy way. I can test and look for food antibodies. These are not the typical antibodies, they’re not the typical tests some allergists may use, … but I have had fabulous results. Finding kids who have these lower grade, food antibodies and food issues. I adjust their diets and right there they get better without having to do anything else.

Do you have to get off gluten?

Getting kids off gluten is a big part of my practice. A lot of kids have gluten sensitivities. Gluten has a lot of deleterious effects on children…
Ms Perro believes that GMO food contributes to abnormal architecture in leaky gut, (she postulates, following results from animals studies). ‘Large gluten proteins are getting across the gut wall, which is supposed to have tight junctions, the immune system is on the other side picking it up, seeing it as a foreign invader, and making an immune response. I wonder what other toxins get across easily because that normal architecture is not intact.

But I do believe leaky gut can be fixed and kids get better.

What I do is organic, organic, organic, non-GMO diet. I say that all day. But critically, for this to work: ‘Somebody has to get into the kitchen. Cooking’s cool!’. This involves no processed food, only organic, no processed food, no chemicals in the food, non-GMO, healthy soil, farmers market when possible, no fast food.’

A lifestyle change.

Are we aware of the risks of GMOs? …

I don’t believe people realise how pervasive it is, and the health impact. I don’t think that’s understood. Because they are not hearing from their paediatrician, it’s not in the literature, it’s not in our newspapers. So when you improve kids health this is where we have to start.

But I have some families who say, ‘I do all that and my kids still have these issues, what’s going on?’ Kids are still sick, what’s happening? I say, look at the school, what chemicals are used there? For example a child had profound headaches – it ended up being new glue in the school carpet. It’s a big conversation. As mums, as families, there is so much toxic stuff around schools, cleaning products, pesticides, dust, glues and art supplies etc.

Children are closer to the ground, they put more in their mouth, metabolise and breathe faster. Children take up more toxic chemicals. …. I worry about heavy metals in seafood.

Can we heal our children?

And it’s very hard to get people to make change. Particularly around habits. I put food in the same category as addictive habits. Trying to come off gluten, it’s not so easy. Off sugar, off carbs – top addictions. When children get better, parents will make the change. Who does the cooking?trying to come off gluten

If you’re the cook, you’re in charge. You do it as a family. You can’t hide junk food in the closet like my husband did.

Eat real food. (Look at) personal care products. You don’t want to overwhelm a family – start with a small list. Sometimes I have mums take pictures of their pantries – let’s see, what have you got in there?!! Home economics isn’t there to educate people anymore. We need to help people…. We think locally, we change home. We model behaviour – to help unruly teenage sons to change as well. It’s not how we started – I’ve come along way.

I tell mums: Lose that guilt – we didn’t know. You have to leave that guilt behind. No self-flagellating! Kids can heal, with testing, with integrative health therapies to help them heal.

For me – what I tell my mums – every change they make – one change is a significant change. You don’t need to change everything in a day. Begin small so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Take baby steps. Some families are ready to do it. They’re there.

1. Use up your existing content in your cupboard.
2. Buy bulk organic – it’s affordable. Buy bulk, and make it.
3. Don’t buy processed foods, you’ll save on your budget.
4. Don’t cave to the kids. Have the snacks ready. Eg. Almonds, raisins and dark chocolate, a special treat.

I wouldn’t be sitting having this conversation with you if I didn’t think women could do this. Dads are involved too, but women have a special calling to keep their kids healthy.
I see them sick, and they get healthy. There’s a fierceness about mothers wanting to improve the world for their children.

If I piss off enough mums they get with the program.
They get it.

Molly Arthur: We can speak up, we can make a difference. We can speak up and have something strong to say. Thank you Dr Perro for being here with us today – for giving us advice for being the Dr Mom that is living the reality – we know we will make it better for our children
Abbreviated. Interview with Dr Perro for Healing from the Ground Up. Published Nov 5, 2014. Community Media Centre of Marin.

Posted in Environment, Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are the benefits of solar being presented accurately in the NZ media?

We are hearing the message that solar panels don’t save money and are not worth on the EECA web site. They refer to this consumer report: Sunny Money – Are grid-tied solar
photovoltaic systems a good investment?

If you’re considering solar you may want to mull over this piece that was emailed to me :

I know of at least one person who has been put off from installing solar PV because of this article. But you can’t blame politicians if they are quoting Consumer magazine.

I haven’t calculated our solar PV economics recently. Our system has been in place for over 2 years. Initially (first year) we were on a zero sum costing (1 for 1 payback, and we generated a cash surplus). But then Meridian changed the rules to the version described in the consumer article. As a result we have very slowly gone backwards for the last 1.5 years – i.e. our average monthly cost is slightly higher than our average production, but we have not yet worked off the credit that we built up with Meridian. So we have not yet paid any cash for electricity since the system was turned on. With an optimised use strategy in place (i.e. turn things on when generation is at max – usually middle of day) and an energy efficient retrofit of a house, solar PV should be operable at break even. That means the only cost is either cost of borrowing, or opportunity cost of alternative uses for the money spent. Consumer got its story wrong, because it did not take into account how people optimise their house efficiency and use of electricity when they install solar PV. However, it was right to point out that electricity companies can change the rules without consulting, and that affects the payback and value calculations.

Batteries are becoming much cheaper and the technology more reliable. As power companies change the rules to protect their cash flows, people with solar PV will be incentivised to instal batteries and withdraw from the power grid. The argument that installing solar PV on a micro scale simply shifts generation capacity – because solar PV installers still need electricity at night – is political hype. The main grid battery is water in the dams, and solar PV allows more of that water to be held back, reducing demand for the last-ditch requirement to turn on a gas generator. With enough installed solar capacity, the need for the gas generator will fade to zero. In fact, we already have much of that capacity available at Manapouri – suggesting that the best place to instal solar PV is Northland and AUckland. It is pretty much accepted that the alumium smelter is going to die, despite the taxpayer covering ever more of the costs of keeping it running.

Line charges, gst, etc all remain the same in our power bill, although all are charged on a kwh basis so are linked to the production vs use tradeoff. Our system has covered all of these costs succesfully, at an installation cost of $9500. The system is guaranteed, so there are no maintenance costs (I am not sure how long that deal lasts – we have had one minor breakdown that was almost certainly caused by power supply issues from the grid – it was not a fault with our system).

We have no swimming pool, spa pool, electric car or large freezer. These are big electricity users, and if we acquired any of them, we would have to up the size of our solar array to maintain our break-even status. They are a key cause of the average household use normally reported and on which Consumer based its calculations, of about 8000 kwh per year. The use by our big old house with 4 people is 3800 kwh per year (we use a wood fire for heating, and wood costs us about $240/year).

Dr Ian G. McLean

Thanks for the article Ian – it is food for thought.

Might just spark something in you.

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment