I live in a beautiful community, surrounded by mountains and Santa Monica Conservancy land that borders Malibu to the West and the Valley to the East. The community has its own lake and, aside from those of us who live there and the tribes of motorcyclists who ride through the area on weekends enjoying the curves of the highway and the views, it is a hidden gem.
The neighborhood is a Co-Op of land with about two hundred and fifty homes, managed by a few people who care for the acreage. When I read in the Board meeting minutes that one of the caretakers had been seen spraying weed killer around the lake, I panicked and wrote to the Board president. I told her my fears that, not only would this destroy the wildlife that live in and around the lake, but all of us would be affected.
As a doctor and lifetime gardener, I know how crucial the soil is for a healthy garden. The same is true for the human microbiome, our own inner garden found in the gut. The human microbiome is about one cell thick with a surface area the length of a football field; our immune cells live here, absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. Essentially, there is no difference between the soil in our gardens, the large agriculture systems that grow our food and the microbiome in our gut. They feed each other and are part of the same network; when there are changes in one, it affects all the rest.
“The most abused chemical that man has ever made…” Dr. Don Huber, expert on GMOs, soil born diseases, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University
I have always been a gardener; it gives me the most pleasure of anything I do. Yet, to be a gardener, you have to be smart and able to outwit the myriad of hungry animals and insects that want to feed on what you plant. Honestly, it’s WAR sometimes! Even after covering my raised vegetable beds with heavy wire, I am challenged by how to protect what is inside.
A wise friend and Naturopathic physician once told me that you can’t have an organic garden unless you start with organic seeds. I believe he was right and I would add to that: In a garden, soil is everything. If the soil is missing the right microbes and nutrients, no matter how many organic seeds you plant and how much sun and water they get, they either won’t grow or they won’t be healthy plants. Just like we now know the importance of our own gut microbiome, the seat of our immune health and nutrient absorption, the soil our food comes from has a direct link to our own health. If this soil isn’t healthy, we won’t be healthy either. Rather than spraying poisonous chemicals that stay in the environment, having repercussions for generations, how we protect our gardens must be non-toxic and considerate of the environment, or it isn’t Organic.
“Whenever you see stunning growth exponentially, like these Autism numbers, it is environmental, not genetic…” Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist, MIT
How did we get here? Dr. Zach Bush, triple board certified physician practicing in Virginia, gives a great explanation of the history of farming in this country from the 1880’s, to the present. After the mistakes of the Dust Bowl era, farmers stopped rotating their crops and instead, replaced stone grinding their wheat with steel blades to increase output. Whole grains became high glycemic refined flours and, to increase production even more, large companies like Monsanto began producing fertilizers with added Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. This makes plants greener, and at the same time, makes them weak and prone to pests and viruses. From here, Monsanto saw another opportunity and encouraged farmers to now use weed killers, like glyphosate.
That brings me to the current discussion of epidemics in chronic disease. Children on the Autism spectrum are increasing exponentially, and according to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, an MIT scientist studying these patterns, when you see this kind of growth, it’s not genetic; rather, it’s a problem in the environment. When she looked at the aluminum in childhood vaccinations, she discovered that, although aluminum is extremely toxic to humans, along with Mercury, this wasn’t what was causing the growth in Autism. It wasn’t until she attended a lecture where another renowned scientist, Don Huber, spoke on glyphosate, the chemical in the Monsanto weed killer Roundup, that she made the connection between Autism, glyphosate and our environment.
Here are some statistics: In 1975, the year after Roundup hit the market, 1/5000 children were diagnosed with Autism; today, the numbers are a stunning 1/36 children; this number is doubling every two years so that, in 2035, 1/2 children will be Autistic. There has also been linear growth in Parkinson’s disease in males, Alzheimer’s in females and cancerous tumors in both men and women.
“If given the choice, I would choose DDT over glyphosate…” Dr. Don Huber
Monsanto, the company that produces glyphosate, is now owned by Bayer, the largest drug company in the world. Known commercially as Roundup, the company calls this product a “weed killer”; actually, it is an antibiotic, reducing good bacteria, increasing and preserving bad bacteria, turning off the natural defense mechanisms of the plant and threatening the sustainability of our agriculture.
At present, Roundup’s consumer use - 4 1/2 billion pounds per year - is now greater than that used by farmers. The product blocks an important human pathway of essential amino acids and, being water soluble, 75% is in the air and rainfall, creating “leakiness” in the human gut microbiome and the blood brain barrier. It’s no surprise that Autistic children have terrible microbiome issues and damaged mitochondria (energy systems).
You’re only as healthy as your gut; food is only as healthy as the soil.
It’s true that there are traces of glyphosate everywhere, including organic food, however, consumers are in control. Europe has outlawed the chemical, making their food healthier than ours. According to the science, if just 16% of the population convert to buying organic food, Monsanto will be out of business (probably why they sold to Bayer). If we all buy organic now and Monsanto stops producing Roundup, within fifty years - half a century - glyphosate will be removed from our air, soil and human microbiome. Yes, it will take that long. Isn’t it worth starting today?
***A good resource is EWG.org: Environmental Working Group. They work tirelessly to list and grade food, personal care products and cleaning products, telling us which to use and which to stay away from. They created The Dirty Dozen list of foods to never eat unless they are organic and Shopping ListThe Clean Fifteen list of the cleanest and safest foods produced. These lists are important ones to carry with you.
****Next newsletter: Best ways to Detox. In the meantime, consider making dry brushing your skin every day a healthy habit.