Livestock and Human Health at Full Circle Farming Seminar

In February of this year I attended the Full Circle Farming Seminar in Bloomfield Iowa. The event was held on Monday evening of the 21st and all day on Tuesday the 22nd. The presenters this year were Jerry Brunetti and Will Winter. Monday evening there were two talks on human health, and Tuesday consisted of a full day of talks on livestock health, with a major focus on ruminant animals.

I was there both to attend the event and to record it. I presently have both MP3 files and CDs available, but currently am not setup to take online orders. In the meantime if anyone is interested, they can contact me and let me know. I will have some samples and shortened versions available for free on this site. I did capture a little bit of video with a small hand held camera, and some of those are posted below. I have one more of Jerry to post later.

Jerry Brunetti is the co-founder of Agri-Dynamics, a company dedicated to holistic health of livestock, horses and pets. He studied Animal Science at North Carolina State University. Jerry was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma 12 years ago. He was told he had six months to maybe two years to live, unless he took aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He chose not to go that route, and instead went with a natural approach, using his experience in holistic animal health and biological farming. I can tell you for sure that he is indeed alive still, as I have met him and seen him and heard him speak on numerous occasions the past several years. He has served on various councils and boards, including being Regional Dairy Director of the National Farmers Organization in the Northeast for five years. He has formulated many natural animal care and nutrition products and been consulting on animal health and land use since 1979. You can check out his bio on his company website under “About Jerry” at www.Agri-Dynamics.com for more information about him and his company.

Will Winter received his veterinary degree in 1975 from Kansas State University, also has a degree in Animal Nutrition, and has done scientific research in veterinary toxicology. He founded one of the biggest and most successful holistic veterinary practices in the US. Will is the co-founder of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and has recently founded the American Holistic Livestock Association. He is the author of the book “The Holistic Veterinary Handbook’. He currently raises pastured pigs, and is also involved in a sizable grass-fed beef operation. In his days of practicing animal medicine he also successfully employed the use of homeopathy. He works with Jerry very closely and has been a valuable asset to the organic and biological farming community for the last 30 years. A wealth of information and a great speaker, Will has done a tremendous amount of service to those in small farming and sustainable agriculture. See his bio and website for more information at www.WillWinter.com.

It seems the real take home message here is that holistic health of both people and farm animals is not only doable, but ideal in many ways. It was pretty clear to me that this is how the whole thing is designed to work. Modern agriculture, along with the modern commodity food system, both of which are highly productive and efficient, have not served us as well as it could have. We have more health problems than ever before, in this and in other modernized countries, some of which are in epidemic proportions. Food is the foundation of all health. But food that is developed more for production and low cost does not make it food that is very nutritious. Such food does not promotes health as it was meant to be.

The topics at this event were as follows:

- The De-Evolution of Ancient Wheat & It’s Affect on Human Health
- Diet, The Immune System & Cancer
- Minerals for Livestock Health
- Funny Protein & Forage Energy
- Parasites & Minerals, Natural Parasite Control
- Health From The Hedgerow
- Will’s Pastured Pork

Here are few of the video clips from this event.

Will Winter’s Introduction to “The De-evolution of Ancient Wheat and It’s Effects on Health”

Jerry on Healthy Ruminant Digestion and Methane Output of Grass-fed Cows

Jerry on Plant Secondary Metabolites in “Health From the Hedgerow”

Will Discussing Randleigh Farms

Attendees Visiting With Will and Jerry

Will Winter on Pastured Berkshires

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A Closer Look At Nutrient Density

There’s a few different ways that are being used to measure the nutrient density of food. Basically we can compare apples to oranges, as in the ANDI method. Or we can compare apples to apples, being the exact same variety, using the Brix method. There are a few other systems out there. Recently on Examiner.com in my capacity as the Indianapolis Foods Examiner I wrote a piece laying out the basic differences.

For now I am just going to share that article. Later on on this site we will take a closer look at this subject, and delve more into Brix, it’s practices and practitioners. Please feel free to comment on the Examiner article page. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

A Closer Look at Nutrient Density

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An Impromtu Discussion About Sustainable Agriculture

Yesterday afternoon I gave a short talk on sustainable agriculture at a local Indianapolis event. The event, the first annual, was called Food Independence Day, and featured several local individuals discussing local food and personal food production. I was there to record the event, and ended up giving an impromptu talk.

Sustainable Agriculture Talk
Click to play audio.

The main focus of my discussion was to make the audience aware of what’s going in the world of sustainable agriculture, and how it’s more than just organic agriculture or local food production. Also referred to as eco-agriculture or biological farming, this movement is growing rapidly and is a combination of traditional methods, science, and technology. And I made it clear that these farmers really care about our health.

One key point that I wanted to make was that when purchasing from local producers, a person wants to get to know as much as they can about how their farmers actually grow their food. By knowing a little more about sustainable agricultural practices and how they affect the nutritional value of the food, they can then relate on this level with the farmers. Those farmers that have this type of focus will be happy to share it with their customers. These are the ones that will be producing the best foods. And the more we talk it up at the markets and elsewhere with our farmers, the more demand we create for the best possible nutritional quality.

The other major point I made had to do with producing food at home. In learning more about how sustainable farming is done, one can apply the same information and ideas to their own home gardens and raising of animals.

I brought up a few major concepts, methods and techniques, including:

- The health of the soil, soil biology, and why it’s important to feed the soil that feeds the plants, and not feeding plants with fertilizers. Healthy soil produces healthy plants and animals, and doing so goes beyond just adding nutrients.

- The measurement of nutrient density by using Brix meters. Farmers that understand this and work at increasing their Brix readings produce more nutritious food. And higher Brix plants means healthier plants that are more resistant to insects and disease.

- The concept that sustainable agriculture is about developing a farm ecosystem. Biological farmers seek to mimic nature and work with it, and not try to master it.

At one point someone asked about no-till farming. I said that that is being done in biological farming, and mentioned the work of Jeff Moyer and the Rodale Institute. Then another person suggested that there are a lot of clay soils in Indiana, and wondered how that works with no-till, since the soils are so hard. I did respond that some soils need to be worked with for a while, and that it takes some time to build them into what you need. What I did not say is that cover crops, or ‘green manure’, can be used. Things like tillage radish, a type of daikon radish, is very good and poking holes in the soil and creating space. Of course, other cover crops and various types of materials can be looked at. The overall point I missed is that these are very effective methods that can be used on our clay soils here in Indiana. Then no-till organic farming becomes very viable.

Also in relation to the idea of plowing soils, we discussed how that there is a delicate balance of biological life in the upper layer of the soil, and that it is very important to respect that and to try not do anything to disrupt it.

This reminded me of the interviews I did at the 2011 MOSES conference with Gary Zimmer of Midwestern Bio-Ag, and Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute. These gentlemen summed this up pretty well. I caught Gary Zimmer on the first day of the conference in the lobby area. A few days later I stopped by Rodale Institute’s booth and talked with Jeff Moyer. You can see these brief interviews at the following link – MOSES 2011 Interviews – Gary Zimmer and Jeff Moyer

I was glad for the opportunity to make this little presentation. This was basically a scaled down version of something that I’m working on for other public speaking engagements, complete with Powerpoint slides and all sorts of useful information. The general purpose of such a presentation is to introduce more people to sustainable agriculture and it’s methodologies, and to help people understand that this is not only a trendy thing, but a very important development that supports the health and well being of everyone.

Special thanks to The Earth House Collective and their staff, and to Cara Dafforn of U-Relish Farm for having me there in the first place.

Links to resources mentioned in the article:

Rodale Institute
Midwestern Bio-Ag
Earth House Collective
U-Relish Farm

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Young Farmer Interviews – MOSES 2011 Part 1 – Ethan Proksch & Joe Sholze

It’s been fantastic to see so many young people getting into farming lately. I’m talking about people producing real quality food! Every event I’ve been to since last summer, and especially the four conferences I’ve been to this past winter, has been attended by many young people. Lot’s of twenty and thirty somethings, and quite a few teenagers, too. But this is not the conventional view of a young person working the family farm.

These are the next generations of men and women who will be growing high quality food for people around the world. I see them soaking up all kinds of information, learning from others who’ve gone before. And I hear how they are out there on the farm giving it their all. I’ll cover more about this encouraging trend later. For now, let me introduce you to a few of them that I met at the 2011 MOSES Organic Farming Conference.

Ethan Proksch is a 20 year old from Genoa Wisconsin. He raises dairy goats and is getting into meat goats. Plain and simple, he gets it. He tells us a little about his operation, why going organic is important to him, and what his plans are going forward.

I also met Joe Sholze of Holmen Wisconsin. He has his own operation, Chosen Valley Organics, doing pork for 4 years now, and moving into dairy soon. He is currently 27 years old. We discussed the conference, his farm, marketing and more. He is in this to stay. We are grateful to him for his commitment.

I want to wish these young men, and all of the other young responsible farmers like them, all the best. Let’s support them all in any way that we possibly can. They truly are in inspiration for future generations who want to produce healthy food and live a quality lifestyle!

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MOSES 2011 Interviews – Gary Zimmer and Jeff Moyer

Cover crops, soil building, no-till organic farming, soil biology! These things and more were covered in several interviews I had with two of the big time presenters at the 2011 MOSES Organic Farming Conference. Both Gary Zimmer of Midwestern Bio-Ag, and Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, were there presenting several sessions, and exhibiting for their respective organizations. You don’t want to miss these informative conversations I had with them!

Gary Zimmer has been in the organic farming industry for 40 years, 25 of them in his own consulting company, Midwestern Bio-Ag. Gary is the author of two books, and a much sought after speaker, with a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm. I’ve heard him speak several times this winter, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. I also have his books, which you can hear about in the video clip.

I had a chance to ask him a few questions when I saw him on the first day of the main conference. I wanted to get his advice on what a new farmer, or one transitioning to organic practices, should be thinking about.

On the last day of the conference I stopped by the Rodale Institute’s booth and spoke to Jeff Moyer, who is Rodale’s Director of Farm Operations. He’s been researching organic farming and gardening for a long time, having done many trials, including those that compare conventional chemical based to traditional organics based agriculture. For more than 30 years Jeff has been helping many farmers make the transition from conventional to organic.

He’s quite the expert on cover crops. He also has a wealth of experience in many other aspects of organic farming. Cover crops have been a major focus of the Rodale Institute, and Jeff Moyer is the man that is an integral part of that effort. He is also the author of the book “Organic No-Till Farming”, which we talk about in the interview. We start out with a little introduction of who Jeff is, and then I get to the interview I had with him about cover crops, which is great information for anyone wanting to get familiar with this very important practice.

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Editing Video from OEFFA and MOSES This Week

Now that I’m settled in from my recent travels, I’ve had some time to setup some video editing software and I’ve been identifying all of the things I’ve captured from OEFFA and MOSES. There’s also a few clips from the Southern SAWG conference.

I’m working out a menu and page structure to categorize things. I’ll post a few as features in blog posts as well.

Here’s a rundown of the highlights:

- Interviews with Gary Zimmer of Midwest Bio-AG and Jeff Moyer of The Rodale Institute.

- Interviews with three young, twenty something farmers at MOSES. And clips of various young farmers in attendance.

- OEFFA and MOSES clips of the trade show. Several vendor highlights as well.

- MOSES shots of several sessions showing the huge turnout. There was 2,975 that attended, by the way.

- And more, including some of the music and nightly entertainment.

So, lot’s of work to do. But it’s all great stuff. Stay tuned!

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I’m at MOSES’ Organic Farming Conference This Week!

So far this is a great conference. Over 60 workshop session today and tomorrow (Thur. & Fri.), and 9 full day Organic University classes took place yesterday. I’m getting some interviews, including author Gary Zimmer of Midwest Bio Ag yesterday, and some young, early twenty something farmers. More good ones are lined up.

If you found out about this website at MOSES, drop me a line. And feel free to comment below. I’d love to get your feedback on the conference. Please be patient, content is coming to the site soon.


If you think you might have something you want to contribute, know some great resources, or perhaps want your farm’s website listed, then let me know. If we can help others to understand whole food and nutrition, and how sustainable and organic farming is important to that mission, then let’s get some great information together to share.

You can e-mail me at chris@farmfoodandhealth.com if you want to get in touch or talk about being part of the effort here. Thanks!

Chris Sullivan

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OEFFA Was Fantastic!

Quick OEFFA Report

When I get done traveling (still on the road tonight, heading northwest) and settled for a day or two, I’ll start posting more on the conference, including some video I captured. A little later, when I get back from my next trip, I’m putting together a full report with a video montage of things from the conference.

If you are a farmer that I talked to about listing your farm on this site, send me an e-mail with your basic info. I’ll follow-up with you for more as we move forward. I’ll have an Ohio resources section developed in March, and I’ll get you listed there. And I’ll give you some pointers on getting found online.

Site Update and Direction

So, about the site. E-mail sign-up will be added soon. Come back and sign-up when it is, because there will be a special free audio available for everyone who subscribes. You’ll like this one, promise!

Several interviews have been arranged. Some audio and some video. I expect to get an interview this week at MOSES in Wisconsin. And I’ll have a welcome video introducing the site and it’s mission. We want to see this be a resource for consumers interested in learning about real foods and their health benefits, and about the farmers who produce them, including the why and the how.

There will also be some content and information for producers that are either getting started, or making the switch to sustainable farming. There’s some great stuff going on, and I want to help people find it.

I can’t wait to tell you more about the OEFFA conference and some of the new insights I learned there. And about some of the fantastic folks I met there, and the work they are doing.

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Attending OEFFA Conference This Weekend

Another great conference is going on this weekend in historic Granville Ohio. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is having their annual conference. This Saturday and Sunday, February 19th and 20th, the main conference starts, with up to 14 concurrent sessions. Today was a pre-conference workshop on starting a CSA called “The ABCs of CSAs”.

There will be two keynote addresses. Joan Dye Gussow, author of “This Organic Life; The Feeding Web”, and “Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce and Agriculture: Who Will Produce Tomorrow’s Food?”, will give a talk entitled “Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?” The other keynote will be given by Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, who made the change from conventional to organic farming in 1993. They currently are producing on around 1400 acres, raising organic grains and meats. They will give an address called “Living Upstream: Decision-Making on an Organic Farm.”

These sessions, the keynotes and the workshop on CSA are all being recorded by Organic Voices, owned and operated by Barry and Judy George, themselves sustainable small produce farmers from Wisconsin. I am actually here working with them. Every recording will be available for sale at a very reasonable price, either individually, or as a package deal. I’ll give more details on Organic Voices later.

I encourage you to checkout OEFFAs website and information about the conference. Lot’s of good things happen when people connect at these events. This one will be no exception. I look forward to posting more on the conference when it is over.

www.oeffa.org.

I hope you all have a great weekend. I know that I will!

Chris

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Articles About Sustainable Foods in Indy on Examiner.com

I am now writing short articles two to three times per week on Examiner.com, as the Indianapolis Sustainable Foods Examiner. Though there is a local slant toward sustainable and whole foods in the Indianapolis area, the articles will have plenty of good general information.

Here’s the link to the main page where my articles are listed –
Indianapolis Sustainable Foods Examiner

Because of how brief each article is, up to 400 words, they tend to be more like overviews. But there is a comments section where the conversation can continue on a specific topic, and there will be plenty of opportunity to write more in depth on things that are mentioned in other articles. Some articles will also link to here and other sites for more on a subject.

It is my hope that people will become regular readers, ‘Like’ the articles, subscribe via RSS or e-mail, and otherwise become active participants. And it should draw others to this site, as my bio does have a link to here.

If you have any thoughts on what should be brought to the attention of the reading public, especially for central Indiana residents, please let me know.

Chris

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