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What Every Dinner Should Be

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Tonight, dinner started with a glass of old vine zinfandel from the Cline winery’s vineyards in the East Bay. This was followed by barbecued organic, grass fed tri-tip. We made a salad of red romaine lettuce from our organic garden. And the main side dish was zucchini from the garden, tomatoes from the store (too early for tomatoes here), onion from the garden, all organic, sauteed in olive oil until tender, topped with shaved Vermont cheddar cheese, and passed under the broiler for 45 seconds to bubble the cheese brown. And we each had the season’s first ear of organic corn grown in California—too early for it to be really good, but what the heck. Instead of pouring butter over it and sprinkling it with salt, we just drizzled a little Apollo ‘Sierra’ extra virgin olive oil on the hot ear.

What? You haven’t heard of Apollo olive oil? Well, did you know that Apollo is one of the top 10 olive oils in the world? And it comes from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, them thar very hills that there’s gold in. The gold turns out to be Apollo. I have no financial interest in this place, except that great olive oil is a passion of mine. This oil has the three main characteristics of quality: it’s bitter, it’s pungent, and it’s fruity. And Apollo’s oils ring the bell in all three categories.

It’s worth knowing about this olive oil. This is from its web site (apollooliveoil.com):

“Since Apollo Olive Oil started 14 years ago, our oils have won 32 gold medals, 23 silver medals, 7 best in class, and 6 best in show. We have been chosen one of the top 10 olive oil producers in the world, the best organic olive oil in the US, and the best olive oil on the internet. We are proud to offer you the healthiest gourmet organic extra virgin olive oil available, made entirely in California.”

Here are a few testimonials:

“Best olive oil I’ve ever tasted – and that’s saying something because I’ve tasted a whole lot. This oil is green, spicy, pungent, and invigorating. Be sure to pick up the Sierra one. I tried the Mistral as well, but Sierra is the one to go for. Worth every cent. Appreciate it straight, on its own, before you decide what else you might do with it.”-–from Heidi Swanson, www.101cookbooks.com.

“Using Apollo Olive Oil is like starting with a great wine. It invites you to organize the whole meal around it. It will never be just an ingredient. Its freshness, its complexity and its aromas-–what aromas!–-take recipes to a different, unexpected level.” -–from
Lynne Sanders, Bistro Aix (voted best French restaurant in London).

“I recently learned that most olive oil in the US is not true olive oil. I was completely shocked by this, and began wondering what I was actually consuming all these years when I purchased what I thought was ‘olive oil.’ I made the decision to never purchase store-bought olive oil again, and began researching where I could buy some authentic organic extra virgin olive oil. After a lot of consideration, I chose to purchase the Mistral Organic olive oil from your company. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with my purchase! I am pretty sure, after tasting your product, that I have never had real olive oil before. It is very tasty-–I want to put it on everything! Thank you for making a wonderful (and authentic) product-–I will definitely be ordering from you again!” –from Jennifer P., Joplin, MO.

So why am I going on about Apollo olive oil? Because it’s not only organic, it is incredibly healthy for you. The health-giving properties in olive oil are chiefly in its polyphenols—antioxidant substances that have a range of health benefits for the human body. Apollo extracts its oil under nitrogen gas in special equipment developed in Tuscany. This keeps oxygen that destroys polyphenols away from the mashed olives and oil during processing. The result is that it has three times the polyphenols of most other extra virgin oils. You can instantly taste the difference.

Besides using this oil on the corn, a splash of this oil and a squeeze of juice from one of our Meyer lemons on the lemon tree out back make a perfect, wine-friendly salad dressing.

And for dessert?

The first picking of cherries from my cherry tree. I shouldn’t say “my” tree, since it’s its own tree, a friend planted it for us as a gift, and my wife and son also work on it.

The birds think of the cherries as their own, too, but I don’t let them anywhere near the fruit. We keep the tree pruned to about 10 feet so we can easily cover it with plastic bird netting when the cherries start to develop. Otherwise, the birds will take them all.

The cherries don’t ripen exactly all at once, so we get about three pickings as they turn a dark oxblood color, showing they are plump, sweet, and fully ripe. There’s a final picking, but for that, we take off the netting and let the birds have their fill.

The cherries were accompanied by a small bowl of Straus Family organic vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge.

And a second glass of that old vine zin. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!



Green America, a national nonprofit organization working to create a green economy, issued the following statement in response to Abbott offering non-GMO versions of Similac:

“Abbott’s announcement that they are removing genetically engineered ingredients from a version of Similac Advance, followed by a non-GMO version of Similac Sensitive, is an important step forward for the company and an important advance for infant health. Parents are rightly concerned about the presence of GMOs in infant formula, and tens of thousands of parents took action with GMO Inside to ask Abbott to remove GMOs. In addition, Facebook posts on the GMO Inside Facebook page urging Similac to remove GMOs reached several million more people. Consumer pressure was joined by concern from investors working with As You Sow, which highlighted the risk to Abbott of not offering non-GMO formula to parents.

“In addition to concerns about the health impacts of GMOs, evidence shows that GMOs are increasing the use of toxic herbicides due to the development of herbicide-resistant weeds. Most recently, glyphosate, which is commonly used on GMO crops, was deemed a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Parents deserve better for their children’s health and want their children to grow up in a healthier environment as well. We urge Abbott to make all of its infant formula non-GMO, and call on its competitors to do the same.”



Monsanto recently made a bid to take over European agrichemical giant Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website. The $45 billion bid was rejected, but there’s still a chance for a merger between these two chemical technology giants.

Monsanto is reportedly considering raising the offer, and as noted by Mother Jones, “combined, the two companies would form a singular agribusiness behemoth, a company that controls a third of both the globe’s seed and pesticides markets.”

As reported by Bloomberg, the possibility of Monsanto taking over Syngenta raises a number of concerns; a top one being loss of crop diversity.

“…[A] larger company would eventually mean fewer varieties of seeds available to farmers, say opponents, such as science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, Bill Freese.

“Another is that the combined company could spur increased use of herbicides by combining Syngenta’s stable of weed killers with Monsanto’s marketing heft and crop development expertise.

‘’’Two really big seed companies becoming one big seed company means even less choice for farmers,’ said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a policy group in Washington.

“‘From a public health and environmental perspective this is a complete disaster,’ said Bill Freese. ‘The more I look at this, the more it worries me and the more it needs to be opposed.’”

I think there’s another reason that Monsanto wants to buy Syngenta, besides the increasing power that the merger would create and the increasing profits the merger would generate. And that’s that Monsanto might follow Burger King’s lead in transferring its headquarters to a foreign country, thus avoiding U.S. taxes. Syngenta is headquartered in Europe, and if Monsanto owned it, it could claim its headquarters were also in Europe and thus not subject to U.S. taxes.

By trying to acquire Syngenta, Monsanto also contradicts years of rhetoric about how its ultimate goal with biotech is to wean farmers off agrichemicals. A laughable policy statement, given that that’s Monsanto’s (and Syngenta’s) core business.

It’s quite clear Monsanto has no desire or plans to help farmers reduce the use of crop chemicals. On the contrary, it has and continues to push for the increased use of its flagship product, Roundup.

Not only has Monsanto created a line of GMO Roundup-ready seeds, it also promotes the use of Roundup on conventional crops, pre-harvest, as described in its Pre-Harvest Staging Guide.

Applying herbicide directly before harvesting helps dry the crop, boosts the release of seed, and is said to promote long-term control of certain weeds, it claims.

The practice is known as desiccation, and according to researchers Samsel and Seneff, the desiccation of conventionally grown wheat appears to be linked to the rapid and concurrent rise in celiac disease.

Applying glyphosate, which was recently classified as a Class 2A probable human carcinogen, on crops directly before harvest is one of the worst things we could do to our foods, yet Monsanto wholeheartedly supports and promotes it.

Speaking of reputation, Syngenta is hardly a poster child for sustainability and right action, either. Not only is it the main supplier of the “gender-bending” herbicide atrazine in the US, it also makes neonicotinoids—a class of insecticide linked to the mass die-offs of bees and other pollinators

Both of these chemicals have come under increasing scrutiny as researchers have learned more about their environmental and human health impacts, and both are banned in Europe while still widely in use in the US.



Health magazine is the mouthpiece of the industrial health industry. The subplot here is put together by the powerful and incredibly wealthy Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America. The message seems to be that taking food supplements not only threatens your health, but taking large doses of them leads to cancer and other life-threatening conditions. The implied message is that you should do what your doctor tells you and take your chemical pills.

Kind of like organic food is dangerous and can kill you. Just eat your pesticide-contaminated food and shut up. Remember that campaign a few years ago from the Avery people?

Well, I’ve got news for everyone. Don’t listen to those hucksters. They’re just out to make megabucks. I’ve done the research and here’s what I do and take every morning, first thing out of bed.

1. Four minutes of planking. Is it hard to do? You bet. I’m glad when it’s over, but I’m glad I’ve done it. It tones the core.
2. A glass of home-made kefir. Takes about three minutes to make my kefir in the morning and boy is it worth it. For how to do it, see my book, “The Essential Book of Fermentation.”
3. A glass of home-made organic Valencia orange juice—real orange juice, not the processed stuff at the market. Used to wash down the vitamins and supplements.
4. A multi-vitamin. I take Whole Foods Complete. Vitamins and minerals.
5. Grapefruit pectin. Pectin is fiber that not only cleans your system, it feeds the good guys in your intestinal flora.
6. Turmeric Supreme. Keeps the cancer away. Read up on turmeric. You’ll see why it’s good to take it.
7. Potassium. One little charge of potassium is way healthier than eating bananas and keeps night leg cramps away.
8. PQQ. This stuff rebuilds the mitochondria in your cells that dissipate with age. Mitochondria are the energy factories that make you feel full of vim and vigor.
9. CoQ-10 Q Absorb—As you age, the enzyme CoQ-10 also dissipates. But it’s necessary for heart health. This supplement replenishes it. Works synergistically with PQQ.
10. NAC—N-Acetyl Cysteine–a sulfur-based protein involved in countless health-building activities in the body.
11. Milk Thistle. This natural plant supplement supports liver health. For someone who drinks, it’s worth supplementing. I like my wine.
12. Bilberry. This is an antioxidant made from bilberries, a sort of European tiny blueberry relative that’s a packed superfood.
13. Vitamin K2—needed if you’re taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.
14. Vitamin D3—I take 2000 IUs a day, the new recommended amount for positive results.
15. Saw palmetto—supports prostate health. Hey, I’m not getting any younger.
16. Alpha Lipoic Acid—a powerful antioxidant that cleans up free radicals that cause inflammatory disease.
17. A probiotic called Lactobacillus reuteri that works from within to promote hair growth and give skin a “glow of health.”

So that’s my daily routine. What’s yours?



Sri Lanka’s newly elected President, Maithripala Sirisena, announced Friday that the importation of the world’s most used herbicide, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, will be banned with immediate effect. The release of already imported stocks has also been stopped.

Sirisena, a farmer and ex Health Minister, stated that glyphosate is responsible for the increasing number of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients in Sri Lanka and added that the move would protect the Sri Lankan farming community. In Sri Lanka, CKD now afflicts 15 percent of people of working age in the northern part of the country; a total of 400,000 patients with an estimated death toll of around 20,000.

Watch the videos “Mystery in the Fields” and “Cycle of Death,” five-minute documentaries providing additional background information on afflicted areas around the world.

Sri Lanka’s ban comes after two scientific studies showed that drinking water from abandoned wells, where the concentrations of glyphosate and metals are high, as well as spraying glyphosate, increased the risk of the deadly chronic kidney disease by up to five-fold.

It also follows the recent World Health Organization announcement that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.

Sri Lanka did ban the sale of glyphosate herbicides in March, 2014, but this decision was overturned in May, 2014, after a review. The decision by Sri Lanka’s new President, however, has huge significance following the latest WHO report on glyphosate.

Sri Lanka now becomes the second country to fully ban the sale of glyphosate herbicides following El Salvador’s decision in 2013, also taken due to the fatal CKD disease. Bermuda has also put a temporary ban on glyphosate imports and is holding a review.



If those Texas floods were happening in almost any other state (especially California), Texas evangelical pastors would have an easy call: same sex marriage, and even same-sex sex, displeases God, who sends storms to wash away the sin and blight. Or maybe it’s the angels weeping at the sight of two guys holding hands. In any case, it’s divine retribution.

But it’s happening in Texas. How can God be doing this to the Lone Star state? He’s supposed to be in cahoots with those who wear manly footwear, deny climate change, open carry weapons, and have a hankering for strict discipline. Something ain’t right.

There’s only one answer. God would not be displeased with the faithful churchgoers and good Christians. It must be that he’s displeased with those liberals in Austin, with their music venues, medical marijuana, tolerant views, and their organic food. Smoothies, indeed.

He’s so mad, in fact, that his retribution spilled out of Austin all over the place. His fury touched off a contact fury with those 200-plus bikers who staged a firefight in the parking lot outside a gin mill last week. That’s the real Texas spirit, boys. Give ‘em hell.


If Monsanto Were a Person

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When Mitt Romney in 2012 said that “corporations are people,” a lot of people thought he was just spouting more right-wing nuttiness. But no, he’s enough of a lawyer to know that corporate personhood is a valid American legal concept, supported by several Supreme Court decisions.

A corporation, as a group of people, is legally recognized as having some of the same legal rights and responsibilities as an individual.

So let’s examine Monsanto.

What if I, as an individual person, created a poison so toxic that it caused serious harm, even cancer, even death, and that I spread it over millions and millions of acres around the world? What would I be called?

What if I was able to open up the control panel of life—the DNA and genetic structure of plants and animals—and started swapping genes, creating chimeras and Frankenstein’s monsters shown to sicken other life forms? Would I be called a mad scientist?

What if my activities caused human autoimmune diseases and terrible, painful illnesses like Crohn’s Disease, leaky gut syndrome, celiac disease, lupus, autism, inflammatory disease, arterial sclerosis, heart disease, and stroke? Would the cops come and take me away?

What if I genetically modified seeds of human foodstuffs like corn and soybeans so that I could patent them, and then sued farmers if they tried to save seed from my seeds’ offspring to plant in their next season? What would I be called?

What if the plants from my genetically altered seeds produced pesticides in every cell of their being, and were bred to resist the very poisons that I make to destroy their weed competition—a practice that only leads to resistant pests and superweeds? What kind of bad guy would I then become?

What if people didn’t want my poisons and wanted their food labeled if it contains them? And what if I and my buddies spent $100 million to make sure no one could know whether their food contained my poisons? What would I then be called?

What if I had hundreds of people devoted to lying about my activities and denying the harm I do, and presenting a false front to the world proclaiming that I have everyone’s best interests at heart? What if this propaganda was just a pack of lies? What would they call me then?

If I did all these things (and many more), the townspeople and peasants would come to my castle with torches and pitchforks, right?

Well, tomorrow—May 23, 2015—the peasants are turning out for Monsanto, the “person” who actually is doing these things, in 9,000 venues around the world, bearing their symbolic torches and pitchforks. In my opinion, I wouldn’t mind seeing some real torches and pitchforks.

One of these “Marches against Monsanto” will be in my home city of Santa Rosa, California. I’ll be there. Wherever you are, I hope you’ll be at wherever your March against Monsanto is taking place.



High Fructose Corn Syrup Manufacturers are trying to trick consumers into thinking that HFCS is like sugar by changing its name to fructose.

According to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), there’s been a name change. The term ‘fructose’ is now being used to denote a product that was previously known as HFCS-90, meaning it is 90 percent pure fructose. Compare this to what is termed ‘regular’ HFCS, which contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose, and you will know why General Mills is so eager to keep you in the dark.

CRA explains:

“A third product, HFCS-90, is sometimes used in natural and ‘light’ foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90 percent fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label [anymore], they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup’.”

For example, on the front of the Vanilla Chex box from General Mills, it says that the product contains “no high fructose corn syrup.” But in the ingredient list, it is hidden under the new name of fructose.

High fructose corn syrup and fructose are not the same. Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar. High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product. It’s not a naturally occurring substance. The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. .

High Fructose Corn Syrup health dangers include:
•Metabolic syndrome.
•Damage to your immune system.
•Speeded-up aging process.
•Mercury poisoning.

Since HFCS is in virtually everything today that is packaged and processed, you really have to become a label reader and check everything you buy. For years I liked Thomas’s English Muffins—until recently, when I checked the ingredients list and found high fructose corn syrup.

And you know that the corn referred to is GMO. GMO corn is now so ubiquitous that when I go to a mom-and-pop taqueria, I don’t eat the corn chips and I order flour tortillas, even though I prefer the authentic flavor of corn tortillas. Thanks Monsanto.



The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog group, has harshly criticized the USDA for its failure to conduct an investigation of 14 legal complaints it filed last December. The complaints allege a systemic pattern of livestock management violations occurring on some of the nation’s biggest certified organic “factory farm” poultry and dairy operations.

In a brief letter to Cornucopia, the National Organic Program‘s (NOP) director of Compliance and Enforcement stated that the agency “has determined that an investigation is unwarranted.” Last December, after an investment of seven months and tens of thousands of dollars, Cornucopia filed 14 complaints with the NOP presented evidence primarily gathered through high resolution aerial photographs of industrial-scale certified organic dairies and poultry operations. The hundreds of images taken documented an overwhelming absence of dairy cows on pasture, and the exclusive confinement of hundreds of thousands of egg laying hens and meat birds inside buildings.

“The organic regulations are clear,” said Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at Cornucopia. “With minor and allowable ‘temporary’ exceptions, dairy cows should be out grazing on pasture and poultry should have access to the outdoors. These operations appear to have miserably failed to meet the criteria.”

Among its justifications for refusing to investigate the complaints, the NOP’s Matthew Michael said, was that the photographic evidence was “insufficient” and depicted only a “single moment in time.” He also said that the various operations indicated were “in good standing” with their organic certifiers.

“It must simply be an incredible and amazing coincidence that no birds – zero – were outdoors, and only a fraction of the tens of thousands of cows on the industrial-scale dairies were observed on grass. Most were confined to giant feedlots,” noted Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s Research Director.

“This simply does not pass the smell test,” Fantle added. “Who are you going to believe, the paperwork from the NOP and certifiers, or your own eyes?”

Last month, before the current allegations that the USDA is deferring to the interests of corporate organics, Cornucopia asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to remove NOP Staff Director Miles McEvoy due to ethical concerns regarding alleged bending or breaking of the law. This latest action is one more disappointment.

The Cornucopia Institute, thought to have more certified organic farmer members than any similar group, is preparing an appeal of the complaint’s dismissal as well as calling for an internal investigation of USDA’s oversight of the organic industry by the NOP, in a formal request to the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

In addition to the USDA’s National Organic Program dismissal of Cornucopia’s photographic evidence, the Organic Trade Association and two of its members that own operations targeted in Cornucopia’s complaints, Chino Valley Ranchers and Organic Valley, have concurred with the USDA. All of OTA’s damage-control statements either stated they saw nothing illegal illustrated in the photographs, or referenced that the images merely represented “a single moment in time.”

“There is a profound disconnect between this rhetoric and reality,” Kastel stated. “Cornucopia’s members contributed tens of thousands of dollars to document the activities on these factory livestock facilities and the USDA, and industry lobbyists, are suggesting that paperwork and annual inspections by certifiers trump this compelling evidence.”

Organic certification primarily depends on annual inspections by independent certifiers operating under the authority of the USDA. In almost all cases inspectors make an appointment with farm operators so they can have their paperwork in order, for auditing. Obviously, this also gives livestock operations the opportunity to make sure their animals appear to be managed correctly under the regulations.

Cornucopia contends these annual inspections also represent “a single moment in time,” although that moment has been prearranged with plenty of forewarning.

“The days when the flyovers occurred were determined by our aerial photography contractor,” Kastel clarified. “We had no control over their schedule. Furthermore, all of the aerial photography was done in good weather leaving no doubt that the animals should have been outdoors as the law requires.”

Kastel made this statement to eliminate one of the justifications that farm operators might use to legally and legitimately “temporarily” confine their livestock. The organic standards provide for temporary exemptions related to healthcare concerns or environmental factors.

“When these exemptions do not apply, farm operators are obligated to have their animals outdoors, and ruminants on pasture,” Kastel said. “It is clear that we have widespread, systemic problems in this industry. These abuses are competitively damaging ethical family-scale farmers and defrauding consumers of the nutrient rich food, produced by animals being treated respectfully, that they think they are purchasing.”



A new report finds that honeybee death rates spiked by 23 percent in the past year. Bees were already dying by the million, so this is truly frightening news. And what did Bayer, the world’s biggest producer of bee-killing pesticides, say about it? They called the increase in bee deaths “good news” — because the increase wasn’t as big as it might have been.


Monsanto, USDA Try to Pull a Fast One

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When asked, almost all Americans say they want their food label to say whether the food contains GMOs. So the other day, I’m listening to Marketplace, the business program on NPR, and the host says that Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, has announced a plan to label GMO foods. Wow, I think, that’s great. Finally.

But then the host gave the details.

First of all, labeling will be voluntary. So a food manufacturer won’t be required to label the product. Not only that, but to get the labels, the manufacturer will have to pay a hefty fee to the USDA. Further the labels will be negatively phrased; that is, they will say “This food does not contain genetically modified ingredients.”

There’s a lot wrong with this plan. So much so that I see the biotech industry’s hands all over it. If anything it proves to me that the USDA and companies like Monsanto are pretty darn near indistinguishable. Let’s take a closer look at the plan.

So those manufacturers who don’t want to use GMOs are being taxed, in effect, by having to pay for labels. This puts them at a competitive disadvantage, since the same package of crackers, for instance, without GMOs will cost more than one with GMOs because the manufacturer will pass the cost of the labels on to the customer. Seems designed to discourage manufacturers from buying the labels, doesn’t it?

So there probably will be some labeling, but not much. And what about all the rest of the food at the market? Can we tell if that food is GMO or not? No, because there won’t be a label that says “Contains GMOs. “ That kind of positive statement is the only kind that will let us know which foods are GMO and which aren’t.

Here’s what’s needed: a rule or law that makes it mandatory to label GMO foods. What’s being proposed by USDA is a fast one, sleight of hand, the opposite of what it purports to be.

To add insult to injury, the host of marketplace said labels probably aren’t needed anyway, since the “scientific consensus is that there’s no difference in safety between GMOs and regular foods.” That simply isn’t true. Just recently, hundreds of scientists from around the world signed a declaration saying there is no scientific consensus on GMO safety and that the media should stop lying about it.
Whatever happened to journalism? It wouldn’t have taken the writers at Marketplace more than a half hour to confirm what I’m saying here. But they bought Big Biotech’s Kool-Aid.

Too bad for us.


Monsanto Knew of Glyphosate-Cancer Link over 30 Years Ago

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According to evidence unearthed from the archives of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981.

Recently WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a statement in which glyphosate (the main component of Roundup herbicide) was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans and “sufficiently demonstrated” for toxicity in animals

This announcement was given vast coverage in the global media, causing Monsanto to move immediately into damage limitation mode. The corporation demanded the
retraction of the report, although it had not yet been published!

Research scientist Dr. Anthony Samsel says: “Both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the deleterious effects of this chemical in 1980 at the conclusion of their multiple long-term assessments, but the EPA hid the results of their findings as ‘trade secrets.’ Monsanto has been lying and covering up the truth about glyphosate’s harmful effects on public health and the environment for decades. The increases in multiple chronic diseases seen since its introduction into the food supply continue to rise in step with its use.

“Monsanto’s Roundup glyphosate based herbicides have a ubiquitous presence as residues in the food supply directly associated with its crop use. Nations must stand together against Monsanto and other chemical companies who continue to destroy the biosphere. We are all part of that biosphere and we are all connected. What affects one affects us all.”



The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) at its biannual meeting recently approved a proposal to increase the allowance of synthetic methionine in feed for broiler (meat) chickens.

In extensive comments to the Board, the Center for Food Safety challenged the need for the synthetic substitute, advocating instead for improved conditions, increased access to pasture, slower growing poultry breeds, and natural methionine sources.
With an 11-4 vote, NOSB allowed what was intended to be a temporary exception to linger. “Synthetic methionine has been allowed in organic for 12 years because the organic egg industry has been dragging its heels to find a suitable alternative and make other much needed improvements to organic poultry systems,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety. By accepting the new proposal, the five-year clock attached to synthetic inputs allowed in organic production will reset when the regulation is finalized. This means that the next opportunity to remove synthetic methionine from organic poultry production will likely be 2021 at the earliest.

As noted in The Washington Post, chickens are natural omnivores and traditionally access proteins from a variety of plant and animal sources. They consume bugs, small animals, and forages such as clover while out in pasture, and also receive meat and dairy scraps on diversified farms. Conditions for chicken-raising have changed dramatically, however, severely restricting access to pasture even in organic systems.

Such operations can crowd hundreds of thousands of chickens indoors with little access to soil or pasture. These producers also feed chickens a largely corn- or soy-based diet, neither of which is high in natural methionine. To supplement, producers have relied on synthetic methionine, temporarily allowed while organic alternatives are supposed to be developed.

“Synthetic methionine is a crutch that has unacceptably allowed conventional-style chicken and egg producers to become ‘organic’ in name. And, unfortunately, confined, factory-like conditions are increasingly becoming commonplace in organic production,” said Tomaselli.

The Center for Food Safety has concluded that the methionine eaten by chickens doesn’t need to be synthetic. Chickens can produce reliable and consistent quantities of meat and eggs in their natural, methionine-rich pasture environment where they feed on worms, insects, and high-protein forages. Corn gluten, potato meal and other natural alternatives are also possible sources of methionine for poultry. Insect production is a growing industry, and adding ground insect meal to feeds for protein is another option being explored by farmers.

The issue about whether to prohibit synthetic methionine gets at the heart of organic standards. During the temporary allowance, it is up to the organic chicken industry to seek out and implement alternatives. In this spirit, Center for Food Safety strongly believes that synthetic methionine should be permanently prohibited when it is scheduled to sunset in 2017. With an end date set, it would send a market signal to the organic poultry industry to step up its efforts to source feed without the synthetic additive.



A new study in mBio, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Society for Microbiology, suggests that the herbicides dicamba (Kamba), 2,4-D, and glyphosate (Roundup) induce antibiotic resistance in E. coli and Salmonella bacteria.

Researchers subjected bacteria to combinations of different herbicides and antibiotics commonly used to treat bacterial infections in humans such as ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, and tetracycline. The results demonstrated that E. coli and Salmonella exposed to low levels of Kamba, 2,4-D and glyphosate were more resistant to antibiotics than bacteria exposed only to antibiotics. Bacteria exposed to the commonly used herbicides activated proteins enabling them to rid themselves of toxic substances creating a defense against the antibiotics. The authors conclude that the common use of chemicals in agriculture, gardens, and public spaces can induce resistance to multiple antibiotics in bacteria harmful to humans. Furthermore, “The combination of high use of both herbicides and antibiotics in proximity to farm animals and important insects, such as honeybees, might also compromise their therapeutic effects and drive greater use of antibiotics.”



Dan Froomkin, reporting in The Intercept, says that emails and other digital communications once considered private can now become part of the government’s permanent record.

Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.

By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.

And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings, or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.

The USA Freedom Act — the surveillance reform bill that Congress is currently debating — doesn’t address the topic at all.

Civil liberty experts contacted by The Intercept said the NSA’s speech-to-text capabilities are a disturbing example of the privacy invasions that are becoming possible as our analog world transitions to a digital one.

“I think people don’t understand that the economics of surveillance have totally changed,” Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept.

“Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”

Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.

That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”

So—what’s the relevance to an organic food blog of this information about the NSA’s ability to transcribe your phone calls and search them for incriminating evidence that you are someone they don’t like?

I’ll tell you. From the first day of my association as a journalist with the organic movement in early 1970, it’s been obvious to me that organic people are the suspects, the targets, the outsiders, the aliens, the “other.” We don’t buy into the received ideas that American exceptionalism guarantees that our food is safe, our corporations benign, our childbirth is safe, our pastors Christlike, or any of it.

It’s been obvious to me that corporate Amjerica would like to squash the organic movement and move on to a world dominated by them, controlled by them, with all profit going to them.

Organic food means that its produce is non-toxic and wholesome. That implies that conventional food is something else, something other. Suspect. Toxic. Less than good. There has been a consistent campaign by conventional agriculture and the food industry, and now the biotech industry, to dismiss organic folks as kooks and worrywarts. I’ve watched it for 45 years.

The NSA is the security arm of this powerful, corporate, and military-industrial monster that has swallowed America the Beautiful and spit out America the disgusting, dangerous, and toxic.

This is not paranoia folks. Disgusting: junk food, obesity, profiting by poisoning people. Dangerous: the invasion of Iraq and the unleashing of the Islamic State; drone warfare. Toxic: the introduction of GMOs and the drenching of the world with toxic Roundup. To all this add the Orwellian ability of the government to monitor and now print out all our phone calls.

Is it time for a change? You bet. And the organic movement is the agricultural part of it.


New York Times Prints GMO Propaganda as ‘Opinion’

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In its op-ed section on April 24, The New York Times gave space to a GMO propagandist named Mark Lynas. Which is fine. This is a country with free speech, right? Lynas can say his piece. We can read it, assess it, and agree with it or not, as we see fit. Such dialogue is good, right?

Well, maybe not when it’s corporate propaganda masquerading as one person’s heartfelt opinion.

So Lynas’s essay is entitled, “How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food.” Here’s a bit of what he had to say.

“I, too, was once in that activist camp (anti-GMO). A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind.

“After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.”

(Why opposition to GMOs is called “anti-science” is beyond me. Isn’t science supposed to be open-minded? There’s a load of perfectly good scientific evidence that GMOs and the chemicals associated with them are harmful. Does being pro-science mean swallowing the biotech industry Koolaid without examination?)

“There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.”

(Ah—this is the straight Monsanto line here. As I reported before in this blog: “A few weeks ago, I spoke by phone with Cathleen Enright, executive vice president of the Biotech Industry Organization (BIO),” reports Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

“During the course of our conversation, when we touched on the subject of the science behind the debate over whether or not GMOs are ‘safe’ (me arguing that there’s no scientific consensus), Enright said, ‘Then you must not believe in climate change, either.’

“I glossed over that accusation, though it struck me as odd. And random. Until less than a week later, on March 9 (2015), an article appeared in the Guardian under this headline: ‘The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook.’

“That’s when I realized what I should have known. Enright’s comment wasn’t random at all. It’s just a new twist on an old talking point—from an industry on the verge of crumbling under the weight of an avalanche of new credible, scientific evidence exposing not only the dangers of GMO crops and the toxic chemicals used to grow them, but also the extent to which both Monsanto and U.S. government agencies like the EPA, FDA and USDA have covered up those dangers.”

So Lynas is parroting the BIO line almost word for word. Note to the NYT—opinion is one thing. Blatant propaganda is quite another. But back to Lynas’s “opinion piece.”)

“The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a greater gap between scientists and the public on G.M.O.s than on any other scientific controversy: While 88 percent of association scientists agreed it was safe to eat genetically modified foods, only 37 percent of the public did — a gap in perceptions of 51 points. (The gap on climate change was 37 points; on childhood vaccinations, 18 points.”

(So 88 percent of AAAS scientists agreed it was safe to eat GMO foods. And were these scientists all biomedical researchers? Maybe they were chemists beholden to the chemical industry, or astrophysicists who don’t know a damn thing about food safety. Maybe the 22 percent who thought GMO aren’t safe to eat are food and health scientists. One of them, Dr. Judy Carman, has said: “We believe that there is a lack of evidence that these GM crop varieties are safe to eat.” Why? She and other researchers looked at the studies done on GMO safety. They found flaws with all of the studies reviewed. For example, studies were not consistent or transparent in their methods, investigators didn’t define what they considered to be a toxic or pathological finding, or they were not transparent in what they found. Many of the studies contained several such faults. But back to Mr. Lynas.)

“On genetic engineering, environmentalists have been markedly more successful than climate change deniers or anti-vaccination campaigners in undermining public understanding of science. The scientific community is losing this battle.”

(Notice how Lynas lumps anti-GMO environmentalists in with climate change deniers and anti-vaccination lunkheads, and claims we are “undermining science.” And that the anti-GMO people are separate from and opposed to “the scientific community.” It’s just insulting and dead wrong. Does the NYT think that this kind of propaganda advances the discussion or tries to get to the reality of the situation? Isn’t there an editor at the Times with the sense to know that these are Big Biotech’s talking points?)

Lynas goes on to say: “At Cornell, I am working to amplify the voices of farmers and scientists in a more informed conversation about what biotechnology can bring to food security and environmental protection…We need this technology. We must not let the green movement stand in its way.”

Okay—so who is Mark Lynas? Lynas is a researcher at the Cornell Alliance for Science. And what is the Cornell Alliance for Science? Here’s what the Corporate Crime Reporter has to say:

“The Cornell Alliance for Science was launched last year with a $5.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ‘add a stronger voice for science and depolarize the charged debate around agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).’

(Translation: we’re out to defend GMOs on behalf of the agrichemical and food industries against all critics.)

Cornell decided last week to go after a newly created public interest group — U.S. Right to Know — which was created to “expose what the food industry doesn’t want you to know.” U.S. Right to Know is the brainchild of anti-GMO campaigner Gary Ruskin. And one of the group’s first campaigns is to identify professors at universities with ties to corporations backing GMOs. The Corporate Crime Reporter continued:

“Earlier this year, Ruskin’s group filed a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence and emails to and from professors at public universities who wrote for the agrichemical industry’s PR website — GMO Answers.

“The GMO Answers website was created by Ketchum, a corporate public relations firm.

“’We taxpayers deserve to know the details about when our taxpayer-paid employees front for private corporations and their slick PR firms,’ Ruskin said. ‘This is especially true when they do work for unsavory entities such as Ketchum, which has been implicated in espionage against nonprofit organizations.’

“The public records requests filed by U.S. Right to Know covered correspondence to and from professors who work for publicly-funded universities and agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, as well as to and from PR firms such as Ketchum or Fleishman Hillard, and to and from trade associations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information.

“The requests are not an effort to obtain any personal information or academic research involving the professors. The records request did not sit well with the corporate minded directors of the Cornell Alliance for Science. They are calling on the public to ‘stand with the Science 14’ against U.S. Right to Know’s record request.

“’It’s a tactic pulled straight from the climate change deniers’ playbook — and now an anti-science, agenda-driven organization is using it to bully another group of scientists,’ the Cornell Alliance for Science says.

“’All of these scientists have proactively engaged with the public to raise scientific awareness about agricultural innovation and contributed to the scientific consensus about the safety of GMOs. FOIA requests are a vital tool for a transparent democracy. However, this FOIA is clearly a last ditch witch-hunt by an anti-GMO group to mislead the public and keep scientists from doing their work.’

“’We’ve seen this anti-science bullying tactic before in Climategate, where academic discussion was taken out of context to mislead the public. Broad anti-science campaigns like this are hurting our society. Please join the fight for academic freedom by signing our letter to support the scientists under attack and urge them to stand strong in the face of anti-science bullying,’ the Alliance says.

(Why is wanting to see the emails of paid scientists to and from agribusiness and biotech corporations “bullying?” It’s only bullying if false accusations are being made. But no accusations at all are being made. Could it be that Cornell’s scientists—and others—feel squeamish about revealing their connections to Big Ag? For the debate on record requests aimed at scientists, see “Why Scientists Often Hate Record Requests” by Anna Clark, Columbia Journalism Review, February 25, 2015. The National Geographic magazine also recently fell into the trap of equating the consensus on global warming with the science on GMOs. The pro-GMO Center for Science in the Public Interest recently refused an offer to debate the issue of the labeling of GMO foods. See “CSPI Refuses to Debate Consumers Union on Labeling of GMO Foods” in the Corporate Crime Reporter, February 27, 2015.)

“Ruskin says the Cornell Alliance is just another arm of the corporate push for GMOs. ‘The agrichemical and biotech industries have a new PR shop at Cornell University, financed by the Gates Foundation,’ Ruskin said. ‘This is just the latest sorry example of the corporatization of the university in general, and Cornell University in particular.’

“’The agrichemical industry and the Gates Foundation have hired the good name of Cornell University to trash our efforts to uncover the details of the agrichemical industry’s $100 million campaign to defend GMOs.’

“The Cornell Alliance for Science says that they want to ‘depolarize’ the debate on GMOs. But really it seems like they just want to defeat public health, public interest, consumer and environmental advocates who are concerned about the health and environmental effects of genetically engineered food.”

Why is the Gates Foundation funding this attack on public health, public interest, and consumer and environmental advocates? And how can The New York Times go along with it? Should “opinion” be allowed in the pages of the Times when it is an obvious piece of industry PR boilerplate?



In mid-June of this year, Neil Young will release his next album, entitled, “The Monsanto Years.”

The Monsanto Years are here and we are living them. Monsanto is the poster-child for what is wrong with corporate controlled government in our world. “The Monsanto Years” encompasses several associated subjects that millions of people worldwide are concerned about and active in.

These subjects include: No One Owns the Sacred Seed. The Worldwide Solution to Climate Change. Sustainable Organic Agriculture. Separation of Corporation and State. Corporate Justice Applied. The Age of Extinction. Corporate Media and the Disinformation Business. World-Wide Water Shortages. Local Solutions. And more.

There is no end to my admiration of this artist.



Green America, a national nonprofit organization working to create a green economy, issued the following statement today in response to Chipotle’s announcement of removing GMOs from its foods:

“Chipotle’s announcement that they are removing genetically engineered ingredients is major step forward for the company and an important milestone in creating a safer and healthier food system for all Americans. Increasingly, it is clear that consumers want food without genetically engineered ingredients, and have already rewarded Chipotle with increased sales for its growing non-GMO commitments. Evidence shows that GMOs are increasing the use of toxic herbicide use due to the development of herbicide-resistant weeds. Most recently, Glyphosate, which is commonly used on GMO crops, was deemed a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impacts of GMOs on the environment and human health and it is time for the restaurant industry and other food companies to make a change. Chipotle has shown that it is possible for a large fast food chain to adopt a more sustainable food supply. It is time that all food companies follow suit and move beyond genetically engineered ingredients and towards a more sustainable food system that benefits people and the planet.”



Guess who thinks that Pope Francis’s impending encyclical on climate change is “unscientific” when it declares that wrecking the planet is immoral, if not suicidal. Why, conservatives at the Heartland Institute, Charles Koch’s right-wing “think” tank, that’s who.

“The Holy Father is being misled by unreliable and unscientific fearmongers,” the Koch Foundation funded organization says, painting the Pope as a doddering old fool being misled by the evil Wormtongues of the left.

The fact that the Koch brothers make billions upon billions of dollars by selling the stuff that’s causing climate change isn’t lost on most people. It’s only the fools at the Heartland Institute, doddering or not, who don’t understand…on purpose. Oh that’s right, the Kochs are paying their salaries.

Pope Francis must still believe that love makes the world go ‘round. The Kochs and their lackeys know that it’s really money that does that.



Following the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, Argentina’s union of doctors and health professionals, FESPROSA, has issued a statement throwing the support of its 30,000 members behind the decision:

“The organization (IARC) has just released the results of a study that overturns the agribusiness model. Thus the complaints that affected residents and scientists outside the orbit of corporations have been making for years have gained renewed momentum,” FESPROSA said in the statement.

FESPROSA explained:

“In our country glyphosate is applied on more than 28 million hectares. Each year, the soil is sprayed with more than 320 million litres, which means that 13 million people are at risk of being affected, according to the Physicians Network of Sprayed Peoples (RMPF). Soy is not the only crop addicted to glyphosate: the herbicide is also used for transgenic maize and other crops. Where glyphosate falls, only GMOs can grow. Everything else dies.

“Our trade union, the Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina (FESPROSA), which represents more than 30,000 doctors and health professionals in our country, includes the Social Health Collective of Andrés Carrasco. Andrés Carrasco was a researcher at the Argentine government research institute, CONICET, who died a year ago. He showed the damage caused by glyphosate to embryos. For disseminating his research, he was attacked by the industry and the authorities at CONICET. Today, WHO vindicates him.

“Glyphosate not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.

“Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”



An eye-opening investigation conducted by Canada’s only supplier of non-GMO corn seed has revealed that genetically modified “Frankencorn” is severely lacking in a number of vital nutrients, reports Natural News.

Compared to non-GMO corn varieties, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn contains only a small fraction of the amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and carbon normally found in natural corn.

Shattering the myth that there’s no substantial difference between GMO and non-GMO crops, the report by De Dell Seed Company of London, Ontario, shows that GMO corn is nutritionally deficient and wholly unfit for human consumption. In nearly every vitamin and mineral category tested, GMO corn was found to contain only trace amounts of many key nutrients necessary for life.

According to the report, corn ears were selected from two adjacent corn fields in Iowa — one growing Roundup Ready corn and the other growing non-GMO corn. The corn ears were selected from multiple locations in each field two weeks prior to harvest to get a proper sampling, and they were then shelled from the cob and sent to a laboratory for testing.

When the results came back, researchers found that the Roundup Ready corn contained 13 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The non-GMO corn, on the other hand, contained no glyphosate.

“The EPA standard for glyphosate in water in America is .7 ppm,” explains Moms Across America. “European tests showed organ damage to animals at .1 ppb (.0001 ppm) of glyphosate in water. Our water levels allow glyphosate 7,000 times higher than what has been shown to be toxic in animals. This corn has 13 ppm! That’s 130,000 times higher than what is toxic in water!”

Similarly, the GMO corn samples were found to have higher pH levels, higher sodium content and significantly less natural phosphate, potassium, calcium, and magnesium compared to the non-GMO corn.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/049515_GMO_corn_nutrient_content_glyphosate.html#ixzz3YrdhONgm



As the riots swirled around Baltimore, here’s what John Angelos, son of the owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, said after the club closed the stadium at Camden Yards to the public.

“My great source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

“The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”

He’s right, and his words strike at the core reasons why the African-American community in Baltimore exploded at the tragic death of Freddie Gray.

But to me, the core question is more personal—more one on one. Who do these violent, aggressive, murderous cops think they are? I’m not talking about good Officer Wright who saves your kid’s life. I’m talking about the beasts who destroyed Freddie Gray’s body and let him die. Or the cop who shot unarmed Michael Brown, or the Cleveland cop who pulled up to an unarmed 12 year old kid and offed him. Or even in my home town of Santa Rosa where a kid with a toy gun was murdered by a cop. Need I go on—because there are all kinds of other cases where police decide to murder people, especially black people? Like the privileged white guy who mistook his pistol for a taser and killed a guy. Well, it’s too depressing. All I can say is that black people in our country live under a cloud of fear that the uniformed, armed, militarized, and bigoted forces that are supposed to serve and protect them are actually looking for any good reason to beat the crap out of them, damage them, and maybe even kill them. Hey—it’s what’s happening. Rodney King was a tea party compared to what we’re seeing today.

Here’s what I think: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And there is no more absolute power than a gun in my holster and a license to kill, at my discretion, anyone who I think represents a threat to me or anyone else. I am judge and jury. I have the badge. If you stinking lowlifes think you can challenge me, I’ll let you taste hot lead. My anger fuels my adrenalin, and my adrenalin turns me from the nice guy into the Incredible Hulk. Disobey me and I will shoot you in the heart. Give me a challenge and it will be met with lethal force. And you know what? I will not be prosecuted. I will not even be arraigned. I will stay on the force with full pay and the protection of the institution and my fellow officers. I hold the gun, the cards, and the rights. If I want to kill you, I will. And there’s nothing, nothing you can do about it.

This is the reality our black citizens face every day. We white guys and gals—we don’t have to even think about stuff like this. But if I’m a black guy or woman, every morning when I get up and try to live a normal life, look in the mirror, and see a black face, I see a victim of racism. I see a running rabbit pursued by a system of racial injustice. I see a target of police violence. I see someone who is not worthy. I see someone who can be killed by the society I live in without consequence. I don’t matter.

So when Freddie Gray gets murdered, I can’t stand it anymore. I don’t care if it’s my neighborhood or your neighborhood or wherever. I’m going to burn and loot and destroy and tear down this murderous, unfair, infuriating, outrageous, bigoted, racist, humiliating system. Just try to understand.