The future of our farms…

Students at Stone Corral Elementary in Seville, Calif. The school budgets $100 to $500 a month for bottled water.


About a month ago, Verlyn Klinkenborg, the New York Times resident writer on farm life, penned a piece about crop rotation. In the pre-chemical, pre-factory-farm days, of course, rotation was the normal way of nourishing the soil. Now some Midwestern farmers are rediscovering its uses; as Klinkenborg noted, oats are one of the few crops that can actually grow in a field sprayed with toxic manure from a factory farm.

Chemical problems are everywhere on our farms. Ten days after the Klinkenborg article appeared, Patricia Leigh Brown reported on water contamination in California’s Central Valley, one of the country’s most fertile farming regions. The water here is, simply, undrinkable: “It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap.”

Two weeks later in the Nation, Elizabeth Royte published a investigative look at how the fracking industry is affecting our food supply. “Farmers need clean water, clean air and clean soil to produce healthful food,” she wrote. “But as the largest private landholders in shale areas across the nation, farmers are disproportionately being approached by energy companies eager to extract oil and gas from beneath their properties. Already, some are regretting it.” Sometimes farm animals exposed to fracking chemicals simply die; more often, their herd mates, who may appear healthy, are processed into meat as usual.

On the same day that Royte’s lengthy report appeared, Tom Philpott gave us an update on the problem of peak fertilizer, or the crisis that will hit when we run out of chemical sources for potassium and phosphorus. (Philpott has noted this agricultural doomsday before, in a series on nitrogen for Grist.) Basically, we’re running out of the stuff, and once it’s gone, we’ll have to radically rethink our industrial farm system:

I can think of few crucial issues as far from the center of public conversation than the phosphorus shortage. We’ve haven’t really begun to face the problem of climate change; our reliance on mined phosphorus doesn’t register at all. It’s easy to ignore crises whose most dire consequences loom decades away. But the next time someone facilely insists that the “industrial farms are the future,” ask what the plan is regarding phosphorus.

Start growing more oats, for one.

One Comment

A critically important documentary has just been released entitled: ‘The Great Culling: Water, Part I”. Part II will cover our foods and Part III, the air we breathe.

Fluoride is a hazardous waste byproduct of Phosphorous made for fertilizer.

When it became to costly due to stricter air requirements to dispose of this toxic waste by the chemical companies, they cleverly repackaged the waste into hydroflourosilicic, got teh EPA to sign off and some doctors to promote the health benefits, then got water municipalities across the nation to add to the community water supplies.

This provided a very ‘cost effective’ way for Big Ag (Cargill being by far the largest) to not only dispose of costly toxic waste, but turn a handsome profit as well and shareholder value, once again, climbed on Wall Street for the wealth of the very few at the great expense of us many.


“They call them “wet scrubbers” – the pollution control devices used by the phosphate industry to capture fluoride gases produced in the production of commercial fertilizer.

In the past, when the industry let these gases escape, vegetation became scorched, crops destroyed, and cattle crippled.

Today, with the development of sophisticated air-pollution control technology, less of the fluoride escapes into the atmosphere, and the type of pollution that threatened the survival of some communities in the 1950s and 60s, is but a thing of the past (at least in the US and other wealthy countries).

However, the impacts of the industry’s fluoride emissions are still being felt, although more subtly, by millions of people – people who, for the most part, do not live anywhere near a phosphate plant.

That’s because, after being captured in the scrubbers, the fluoride acid (hydrofluorosilicic acid), a classified hazardous waste, is barreled up and sold, unrefined, to communities across the country. Communities add hydrofluorosilicic acid to their water supplies as the primary fluoride chemical for water fluoridation.

Even if you don’t live in a community where fluoride is added to water, you’ll still be getting a dose of it through cereal, soda, juice, beer and any other processed food and drink manufactured with fluoridated water.”

This warning comes from the City of Ukiah 2005 Municipal Quality Water Supply Report”, which directly contradicts claims by the American Dental Association, FDA, et al. that fluoride is healthy to prevent tooth decay, especially in our children.

“Some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the federal MCL of 4
mg/L over many years may get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones.
Children who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the state MCL of 2 mg/L may get
mottled teeth.”

“Most developed nations do not fluoridate their water. In western Europe, for example, only 3% of the population consumes fluoridated water.
While 27 countries have water fluoridation programs, twelve of these countries have less than 20% of their population consuming fluoridated water: Argentina (19%), Guatemala (13%), Panama (15%), Paraguay (6%), Papa New Guinea (6%), Peru (2%), Poland (1%), Serbia (3%), Spain (11%), South Korea (6%), the United Kingdom (11%), and Vietnam (4%).
Only 11 countries in the world have more than 50% of their population drinking fluoridated water: Australia (80%), Brunei (95%); Chile (70%), Guyana (62%), Hong Kong (100%), the Irish Republic (73%), Israel (70%), Malaysia (75%), New Zealand (62%), Singapore (100%), and the United States (64%).

In total, 369,656,000 million people worldwide drink artificially fluoridated water. This represents 5% of the world’s population.
There are more people drinking fluoridated water in the United States than the rest of the world combined.
There is no difference in tooth decay between western nations that fluoridate their water and those that do not.”


A fascinating in depth history of fluoride:

“Recently declassified US Military documents such as Manhattan Project, shows how Fluoride is the key chemical in atomic bomb production and millions of tonnes of it were needed for the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium. Fluoride poisoning, not radiation poisoning, emerged as the leading chemical health hazard for both workers and nearby communities. A-bomb scientists were ordered to provide evidence useful for defense in litigation, so they began secretly testing fluoride on unsuspecting hospital patients and indignant, mentally retarded children.. “The August 1948 Journal of the American Dental Association shows that evidence of adverse effects from fluoride was censored by the US Atomic Energy Commission for reasons of “national security” (Griffiths 1998). The only report released stated that fluoride was safe for humans in small doses.

Currently the US government is continuing to introduce further fluoridation schemes throughout the country, including the Water Act passed in November 2003, which has made it impossible for water companies to undergo civil or criminal hearings as a result of adding fluoride to public water supplies.