Saturday, September 27, 2008

Herb Day-September 27-2008

I'm bouncing back from an eye injury and allowed 10 minutes a day on the computer.

Soooo, in honor of all things herbal and natural, I'm promoting my good friend Anne Schrock and her most recent E-book. You can find it hear and meet Anne too.


Happy Herb Day to all my readers !
Today is also the 75th year of the Herb Society of America.
We have a very interesting history and I am inviting you to visit the headquarters and join us if you so desire.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Genetically Modified Food~

Do You Really Know What's On Your Dinner Plate?

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft "guidance" for producers of genetically engineered animals. The FDA will now begin accepting proposals to sell the animals as food. Just what does "genetically modified" mean? Let's start with plants, and the progression of breeding techniques that paved the way to last week's anouncement.

Creating New Varieties by Cross-Pollination

Humans have worked to produce better plants for hundreds of years, looking to improve traits such as hardiness, taste, adaptability, and beauty. Plant breeding was once as simple as cross-pollination: The pollen of a flower from one plant was transferred to the stigma of a flower from another plant. If pollination was successful, the flowers produced viable seeds, and if the breeders were lucky, one of the plants that grew from those seeds had the traits they were seeking. The plants had to be compatible for pollination to occur; usually, that meant they had to be the same species. Manual cross-pollination is still an important technique and it's the main way amateur plant breeders create new varieties.

Mutations, Natural and Induced

Natural mutations can also create unique plants. Something causes a spontaneous disruption of the normal inheritance process- perhaps a "mistake" in DNA replication and offspring display characteristics different from the parent plants. Observing how mutations can alter offspring, plant breeders began trying to induce mutations using irradiation and chemicals, hoping they'd eventually stumble upon mutations that resulted in beneficial changes. Scientists also developed "test-tube plants" using laboratory techniques to cross-breed plants that are incompatible in nature. But the plants still have to be at least somewhat compatible.

Genetically Modified Plants

Now lets move ahead to genetically engineered plants, in which genes of completely unrelated species are introduced. The unrelated species don't even have to be plants! Perhaps the most well-known genetically modified (GM) crop is Bt corn. Scientists incorporated Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria that produces a substance toxic to caterpillars) into the DNA of corn plants. The result? Corn plants that resist corn earworm and corn borers, two major pests, meaning the crops require fewer pesticide applications.

Next up were GM soybeans altered with DNA from a soil bacteria that rendered the soybeans tolerant of Roundup herbicide. Farmers could use the spray to kill weeds without damaging crop plants. And just this year farmers began planting herbicide-tolerant GM sugar beets -- the plant that provides about half the country's refined sugar.

Developers of GM crops figured they were doing a good thing by reducing pesticide use and improving crop yields. But the public outcry against genetic engineering was swift and strong. Something just didn't sit right about mixing the genes of entirely different organisms. Consumers were wary of "Frankenfoods." Organic growers worried that the pests would develop resistance to Bt, an important organic insecticide. Environmentalists and farmers feared the creation of "superweeds" when pollen from herbicide-tolerant crops transferred to wild plants. And farmers who grew non-GM crops under organic certification or for export into countries that ban GM foods worried that genetic drift would evenually contaminate their non-GM plantings. Crazy ramblings borne of hysteria?

There are now more than a dozen weeds showing herbicide resistance and thus requiring stronger or more toxic herbicides. Canada learned the hard way that it's impossible to segregate GM and non-GM crops; no organic canola is now produced in Canada because all stock has been contaminated with GM varieties. And Bt-resistant bollworms were found in cotton fields in Mississippi and Arkansas within seven years of the introduction of Bt cotton.

Yet it appears GM crops are here to stay. According to one estimate, GM corn starch and soybean lecithin are now found in 70 percent of our processed food supply. According to the USDA, in 2006 about 61 percent of the corn, 83 percent of the cotton, and 89 percent of the soybeans planted in the United States were "biotech" varieties. Perhaps most relevant, according to one poll, only 24 percent of Americans polled believe they ever ingested any GM foods.

Next: GM Animals

With GM crops so widespread, could genetically engineered livestock be far behind? Right now, no GM animals are approved for commercial food production. However, last week's new guidelines could soon change that.

Rather than introducing specific new rules for GM food animals, the FDA is regulating GM animals under the "new animal drug" provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). In other words, the agency is treating the snippet of foreign genetic material being inserted into the animal's DNA the same as a medication. The FFDCA defines an animal drug as "an article (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of animals." So, because that snippet of genetic material is intended to do just that, it meets the definition of a new animal drug.

Proponents say the approval of GM animals will open up a world of possibilities to improve our quality of life. Skeptics argue that the new guidelines don't go far enough in protecting the public. They argue that altering the genetic structure of an animal by inserting foreign DNA is much different than giving the animal a new medication, and therefore it warrants new regulations. And they feel that consumers should know if they're eating GM foods; the FDA won't require food from GM animals to be labeled as coming from GM animals, just as it doesn't require that food from GM plants be labeled as such.

Several categories of GM animals are being developed. One category includes food animals that grow faster or resist troublesome diseases, as well as those that contain levels of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, not normally found in that species. Another type is "biopharm" animals that will produce substances, such as insulin, for pharmaceutical use. A third is GM "xenotransplant" animals that will be factories for producing tissues or organs that can be transplanted into humans.

The first product likely to be evaluated under the new rule is a GM Atlantic salmon. Genetic material from an eel-like fish was inserted into the genes of the salmon, causing them to reach full size in about 18 months, instead of 30. Other evaluations are likely to include goats that produce insulin in their milk, pigs whose meat contains as much omega-3 fatty acids as fish, and cows that produce human antibodies.

FDA Invites Public Comment
What do you think? The FDA is inviting public comment on these new guidelines until November 18, 2008. Speak up at:

Please take a stand, speak out against this unnatural way of tampering with our food supply.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Monday, September 22, 2008

Red Clover -Not Just A Weed.~

Red Clover Blocks Neurological Damage From MSG
by Barbara L. Minton

(NaturalNews) If you are into healthful eating, it can be tough when friends or family want to go out to the local restaurant to eat. You know most of the food there is laced with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and this knowledge can really spoil your fun. Now a new study has found that pre-treating yourself with a supplement of red clover before you go out can nullify the potential for brain damage from MSG.

The study

The June 5, 2008 edition of Phytomedicine reports a study based on an idea generated by the knowledge that estrogen has been shown to affect neuronal growth, differentiation and survival. Genistein, diadzein and other isoflavones have been shown to mimic the pharmacological actions of the steroid estrogen, due to their similarity of structure. So, researchers hypothesized that the natural mixture of phytoestrogenic isoflavones found in red clover could protect the brain from glutamate toxicity. They used a human cortical cell line to test the efficacy of the red clover. Neuronal viability was determined and neuronal membrane damage was quantitatively measured.

The results obtained indicated that exposure of the cell cultures to glutamate resulted in concentration-dependent decreases in neuron viability. Concentrations of glutamate ranging from 0.01 to 5 mm were toxic to the cultures. However, when the cells were pretreated with 0.5, 1 and 2 mug/ml of the isoflavone enriched fraction from red clover, there was a significantly increased cell survival and significantly decreased release of cellular lactate dehydrogenase, an indicator of cell damage. This indicates that the neurons treated with red clover isoflavones were protected from the cell death induced by glutamate exposure. In addition, the pretreatment with the isoflavone enriched fraction prevented the morphological disruption caused by glutamate as shown in microscopic inspection.

About MSG

MSG is a food additive found in almost all commercially prepared food. It supercharges the taste of food, but not in the way you would think. MSG fools your brain into thinking the food you're eating tastes really great. MSG is an excitotoxin to the brain. When we consume food containing MSG, it excites the brain into the mass production of dopamine, creating a drug rush that gives us a brief sensation of well being. And because MSG is highly addictive, we keep coming back for more and end up overeating. In the process, we end up destroying our brain cells.

Food processors love MSG because it makes cheap ingredients taste great. And because it comes from an amino acid, it can be added to foods labeled 'natural' or 'organic'. It's very hard to find any canned or packaged soup, dried soup mixes, prepared meals, fast food, junk food, or Chinese food that does not contain MSG. It's in prepared gravy, salad dressing, seasoning blends and mixes, canned beans, bullion cubes, broths, chili and stews. Stores that cater to the health conscious carry many of these MSG containing items.

Because the food buying public does not want to consume MSG, food processors have gone to extremes to be sure that you don't know it is in their products, and this has been allowed by the FDA. You will seldom see MSG listed on the label, because it is disguised. Here are the names of some of the disguises:

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured whey protein, natural flavor.

Most processed food for children also contains high levels of MSG, such as canned or packaged spaghetti, alphabet soup and chicken noodle soup, microwavable cups, packaged dinners and much more. A meal of this food can raise the blood level of excitotoxins to a value proven in primates to destroy brain cells. A child's brain is four times more sensitive to damage by excitotoxins than is the brain of an adult.

About Red Clover

Red clover is a wild perennial herb that grows in meadows throughout Europe and Asia, and is now naturalized in North America. It's a close relative of the clover you find in your front yard. The red flowers offer the therapeutic potential and are dried for use. They are sweet to eat.

Red clover is a valuable source of nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Its isoflavones are the source of the phytoestrogens in the above noted study, water soluble chemicals that act like estrogens in the body because of their ability to fit into estrogen receptors.

Isoflavones are a class of organic compounds and biomolecules with antioxidant properties. They are produced from a branch of the general phenylpropanoid pathway which produces all flavonoid compounds in higher order plants.

According to Phyllis and James Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing, the isoflavonoids in red clover fight infection, suppress appetite, and purify the blood. They have expectorant, antispasmodic, and relaxing effects, and are good for bacterial infection and inflamed lungs. They are also beneficial for inflammatory bowel disorders, kidney problems, liver disease, skin disorders, and a weakened immune system.

Red clover has been a traditional herbal treatment for cancer due to its ability to stimulate the immune system. Recent research has found evidence that it prevents the growth of cancer cells and is highly effective in treatment for prostate and liver health. Red clover is frequently prescribed by natural healers as a treatment and preventative for breast cancer because of its ability to fit into estrogen receptors in the breast.

Some studies have also suggested that the red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and perimenopausal women. It may protect against heart disease in several ways, and has been associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol in pre and postmenopausal women. One study found that menopausal women who took red clover supplements had more flexible and stronger arteries. Red clover may also have blood thinning properties which help prevent blood clots. It also appears to improve blood flow.

Supplementing with red clover

No serious side effects from red clover have been reported in humans. Infertility has been noted in grazing animals that consume large quantities.

Red clover is available as teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone content. It may also be prepared as an ointment for psoriasis, eczema, and rashes. Whole herb supplements are generally considered to be the most conservative way to supplement. Organic red clover supplements are available from the large online supplement stores and are highly affordable.

Article used by permission from:

Two highly charged Tisanes from Sage Hill Farms containing Red Clover are;
(BeWell and Rosey ReCharge.)

Visit our website and put something healthy and good in your teapot.

To your Spiritual September~

Bea Kunz

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Understanding Organic~

Organic is fast becoming a label and not a process.

The sites listed here will help one to understand the standards by which "organic" labeling is derived .

When purchasing organic foods, ask if it's 100% organic if it isn't labeled as such.
Ask for certification id's.

When foods are labeled or promoted as 100% organic they must meet these standards:

1) No growth hormones of any kind.
2) No chemical pesticides used for 3 years prior to the present years growing season.
3) No human waste or sewage sludge can be used as fertilizer.
4) No genetic modification of any kind.

US Standards
Canadian Standards
Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Organic Trade Association:

Bea Kunz

Friday, September 19, 2008

An Herbal Celebration~

September 27th is National Herb Day.

What are you planning in the way of celebration.

A work day, a party, an educational day perhaps.

Family, friends, your community leaders, neighbors, anyone who is interested in herbs and/or gardening, making the environment a better place to live, work, and play, is a candidate for the days activity.

I'll share our plans a little later.

Hope to hear about yours also.

Be sure and save the day in pictures and share those too.

Happy September weekend~

PS: It's time for hot herbal teas....yummy and so good for the body, mind, and spirit.

I've been enjoying "GingerZing" this week.

Ask me about it or visit our website to learn more.

Bea Kunz

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Colors Of September~

September is the beginning of my favorite seasons, autumn and winter.

I love colors of autumn, the rusty reds, bright oranges, deep and luscious yellows.
They all serve to remind me of comfort.

My old and comfortable quilt that has warmed 3 generations.
My mud boots that boast lady bugs in red and yellow.
My crazy hat that was once bright red and has faded to a really nice hue of orange.

The leaves on the trees that are turning golden shades of many colors.
Cornstalks that are dried to a sandy shade of brown, they will be beautiful mixed with a variety of marigolds, mums and asters.

And the shades of sage are too beautiful to describe.
From deep purple to many shades of green and yellows.

The sunflowers have given way to heavy seed heads and the birds are feasting from morning until night.

Even the birds are autumn colored...the Cardinal with their shades of blazing red and muted browns. The creamy yellow Finch with the little black bands make a striking combination at the feeders.

It was comforting to have so much beautiful color around me today, just thought I would share with my friends.

A website and book to share this guy and all he does.

Visit and say hello from Sage Hill Farms.

Be blessed~

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Reflecting on 9/11~A Day In History~Our History.

There are many people in our country who do not know the history behind our flag.
There are many who do not know and understand the election process.
They are not willing to give up a few hours of their time to research and learn, just what has happened-the suffering, lives lost, and the many triumphs that have taken place so we can call this "our country."

Why do so many think it is a right to enjoy and participate in all the freedoms and give nothing back.

The time has never been better to claim a cause for our own and make it a full time passion.
Many give their lives every day, can we not give a few hours and some good energy ?

Please visit this link and sigh this petition, it is a very small action on our part to help push for better accountability among power heads who think American lives are so dispensable.

I spent the early morning in my herb gardens, I feel close to God and the truth when I am there.

Have and share a Spiritual September~

Bea Kunz

Monday, September 08, 2008

Gardening For Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Songbirds

I recently read an article about the shortage of butterflies and hummingbirds in all the sections of the US. Now I can't speak for anyone place except Sage Hill Farms.
But, we certainly have not, a shortage. In fact just the opposite is true for us. The gardens, especially the herbs beds have been littered with all kinds of butterflies. BlackswallowTail, White Cabbage, Silvery Checkerspot, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, ( I've seen only 2 of these)and a few I haven't identified.

The hummingbirds are also plentiful. They are so small unless one is poised and watching carefully, they will come and go without being detected.

A few tips on what plants to grow for the attraction of butterflies and other beautiful creatures.

Hackberry trees, sunflowers, azalea, clover, alfalfa, thistle, daisy, spicebush, sassafras, and in the herb gardens, parsley, dill, and fennel.

Milkweed will draw the beautiful Monarch when it is migrating.

BlackEyed Susans will bring an abundance of butterflies of many species while keeping the ants away.

Perhaps, if you aren't seeing butterflies in your gardens, you may need to rethink what you are growing. After all, they visit our gardens to feast, the show they present is a bonus indeed.

To your Spiritual September~

Bea Kunz

Saturday, September 06, 2008

How to Collect a Soil Sample

Testing the soil in your herb and vegetable gardens will up your chances of efficiency and production.
A basic soil test will measure the phosphorus(P), potassium(K), and organic matter in the soil.
Additional nutrients and micro nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, sulphur, zinc, and iron, also can be measured.

Soil testing also identifies the soil's relative acidity or alkalinity, called soil pH. The pH level is important because it determines the availability of soil nutrients.

Your local county extension office can help you with most soil testing needs; Such as, how to take a soil test, containers to ship them to a lab for testing, and the proper lab to choose.

With all the time, effort, and expense it takes to plant and grow a productive crop, it just makes sense to make your soil the best it can be.

Soil testing can be done anytime of the year. I like doing it in the fall and early winter when the gardens are somewhat dormant.

Happy Autumn~