Melamine Toxic Tsunami

October 31, 2008 in melamine

Melamine (for blog)

I gave you an introduction to melamine in my post “Melamine, oh thy name is Legion” where I also hypothesized that, since melamine has been used as a fertilizer and pesticide in the past, that there may be a looming second wave of melamine crisis coming.

It didn’t take that long for others to make this connection.

Reuters has an article on its wire today (10/31/08) entitled “Hong Kong to test meat, vegetables for melamine” by Tan Ee Lyn that starts like this:

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong will soon begin testing meat, vegetables and processed food for melamine, a move that underlines concerns about environmental contamination and food safety, experts say.

And this gem:

It has since emerged that cyromazine, a derivative of melamine, is widely used in pesticides and animal feed in China, and experts say it is absorbed in plants as melamine and that the chemical is already in the human food chain.
“It’s possible there may be contamination from pesticides … and there is some concern about vegetables and animal feed,” Kwan Hoishan, a biologist at the Chinese University and member of a government-backed task force working on the melamine problem in Hong Kong, told Reuters.

The New York Times has a headline web story at this moment “China Widens Food Tests on Signs of New Contamination” by David Barboza where he reports:

SHANGHAI — Chinese regulators said Friday that they were widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that an industrial chemical called melamine had leeched into the nation’s animal feed supplies, posing even deeper health risks to consumers after the recent tainted milk scandal.
The cases are fueling global concerns about contaminated Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would be testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products.
But interviews Friday, and over the past year, with several chemical dealers who sell melamine suggests that melamine scrap, the substantially cheaper waste left over after producing melamine, has been added to animal and fish feed in China for years.

CBC news reported on toxic pesticide-tainted beans from china exported to Japan and how they were making people acutely ill in an article “Japan warns of high levels of pesticide in Chinese beans”

Japanese officials warned consumers on Wednesday not to eat a type of frozen green beans imported from China that contain extremely high levels of pesticide.

At least one woman was briefly hospitalized with vomiting and a numb mouth after eating the green beans imported by Nichirei Foods and sold in Ito-Yokado supermarkets, media reports said.


Tests showed one package of beans contained 34,000 times the permitted level of dichlorvos, a highly toxic insecticide, Japan’s Health Ministry said.

From the Wiki:

Dichlorvos (2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate), or DDVP is a highly volatile organophosphate, widely used as a fumigant to control household pests, in public health, and protecting stored product from insects.

Clearly, its not just melamine that we have to worry about when we are considering the toxic foods coming out of China.

Ask yourself: Are organic veggies BETTER than conventional?

August 25, 2008 in farm, Food Science, ingredient, issues, vegetable


(This is what you are really getting with conventional and Big Ag Organic food – depleted foods)

Who has not stood before a pile of organic vegetables or fruits and compared their price to the price of the conventionally grown ones next to it? Who has not asked, on some level, is there some real qualitative difference? You likely appreciate the lack of chemicals used to grow it – artificial fertilizers and pesticides made from petroleum.

This question – “Are organic vegetables BETTER than conventional ones?” can catch you because there are several assumptions that are meant to trip you up.

Our first broccoli, for supper tonight

Not all organic growers are the same, what the USDA means by Organic may not square with your idea of it, the USDA is known for letting certain things slide for Big Ag, and many other system issues that have been purposefully institutionalized.

You may also assume that “Organic Food” is more wholesome too.

Merriam Webster defines wholesome this way:

  • Pronunciation: \hōl-sÉ™m\
  • Function: adjective
  • Date: 13th century
  • 1: promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit
  • 2: promoting health of body
  • 3 a: sound in body, mind, or morals b: having the simple health or vigor of normal domesticity
  • 4 a: based on well-grounded fear : prudent -a wholesome respect for the law- b: safe (it wouldn’t be wholesome for you to go down there — Mark Twain)

Unless you are standing in a farmer’s market where the veggies or fruits are honestly sourced from a local small holding organic farm, the organic items in question – in the big box grocery store – are likely to have MUCH more in common with the conventional ones.

How is this possible?

Big Organic growers grow their plants with the same industrial model as Big Agriculture – huge carbon foot print and constant destruction of the soils.

Depleted Soils

Soil, or dirt as some may think of it, is not just powdery minerals. It is a complex mixture that includes those minerals from long eroded rocks but also organic residues from all the activity that has happened in the soil.

Those organic residues can include:

  • Living and degrading plant debris
  • Living and degrading insect and animal bodies
  • Living and degrading bacterial populations
  • Living and degrading mushrooms (mycelium –mushroom roots-, and mushroom fruiting bodies, even spores)

The activities of these living things lend structure to the soil (different zones of life, mineralization, compaction, oxygen levels, nitrogen levels, moisture levels) and also help by making certain compounds, elements, minerals, available, things like:

  • Plant-usable nitrogen (nitrogen fixation via bacterial-root-rhizome symbiosis)
  • Vitamin production
  • Plant-usable forms of elements like calcium, phosphates, and other more rare types.

Our first broccoli!

(Ready to scarf fresh picked veggies)

When soils are plowed, the structure is obliterated and whole communities of plants, mushrooms and bacteria and insects are disrupted, killed, inhibited. They can no longer transmute atmospheric nitrogen and soil-locked minerals and organic debris into nutrients for plants.

The good stuff in the soil is also exposed to the harsh sun, rains, winds – all depleting the soils even further.

Our present day industrial Big Agriculture requires MASSIVE amounts of oil, mechanical toil, and amendments (also dependent on oil for their very manufacture) to compensate for the damage that plowing does to the soils.

Consider these stats:

Raw Broccoli

  • From 1963 to 1999:
  • calcium went from 103 mg/100g sample down to 48 mg/100g sample
  • potassium went from 382 down to 325 mg/100g sample
  • Water content went from 89.1% up to 90.6%

Red Tomatoes

  • From 1963 to 1999:
  • calcium went from 13 mg/100g sample down to 5 mg/100g sample
  • magnesium went from 14 mg/100g sample down to 11 mg/100g sample
  • potassium went from 244 down to 33 mg/100g sample

Raw Carrots

  • From 1963 to 1999:
  • calcium went from 37 mg/100g sample down to 27 mg/100g sample
  • magnesium went from 23 mg/100g sample down to 15 mg/100g sample
  • potassium went from 341 down to 323 mg/100g sample

On top of this soil holocaust, you have genetically modified plants (via breeding and the lab) that have been optimized for the industrial method and which are able to grow in depleted soils.

What you get are vegetables which LOOK like a carrot, a cabbage, a head of broccoli, corn, cucumbers, etc but if you were to measure the mineral and vitamin contents you would find something closer to a wet soggy sponge.

Humble Garden: goliath broccoli

(Ready to eat!)

Let me repeat: Big Organic growers grow their plants with this same Big Ag industrial model – huge carbon foot print and destruction of the soils.

What this means to you at the store, is that when you buy Organic, you are buying a compromised promise of pesticide purity but not wholesomeness. You are buying simulations of vegetables.

Taking vitamins will not solve this problem because they are based on a false premise. Many vitamins are not absorbable by the human body unless they are embedded within the context of food (be it plant or flesh).

The only way to resolve this issue (and just how many diseases arise from our bodies being depleted almost from the moment of conception) is to buy veggies from small farms that are practicing permaculture and organic gardening methods.

Better yet, learn how to get your own permaculture and organic garden beds going so that you can eat REAL vegetables with actual vitamins and minerals.

What a concept

If you are interested in learning how, visit my garden blog at Humble Garden and also ask me in comments.

Humble Garden: goliath broccoli

(Pretty darn big head of organic homegrown broccoli)