Real Halloween Horror
By Bernadina Lucia

You sit here reading, thinking 'please not the Halloween candy, don't ruin that for us.' And I won't. This week. You already know it's bad for you.

No, this time I attack the costumes.

'But, it's cloth. CLOTH.'

Ahaha, not just so. And even if it were just cloth, most cloth is actually treated to help it last on the shelf. You read that right. Clothes are treated to 'extend' their 'shelf life', especially both designer clothes and seasonal products like this. These chemicals are often very dangerous, some are untested, and some come into contact with others and interact together in ways we don't yet know.

So back to the costumes themselves: many are highly flammable. Especially glisteny or shiny ones. There are others which contain toxic chemicals such as lead, chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic) and arsenic. One toddler Batman costume had 120 parts per million (PPM) of lead in the mask's lining.

In one study testing hundreds of children's Halloween costumes, 39% of vinyl costume parts had organotin, which is an endocrine system disruptor, which can lead to damaged immune systems and issues with brain development.

Check out this website, and keep your little ones safe.

We're Back
By Bernadina Lucia

Resilience Farm moved to Alaska. Now I'm living on the Kenai Peninsula, which is quite a different experience. The sun does a lot of neat tricks up here. When I first got here, at the beginning of June, it's favorite trick, the only one it did, was to not go down until one in the morning. And then come back up at four in the morning. Still, more time to build coops, and plant gardens. Now, at the start of August, we're getting something more akin to a regular day, with 17 hours of daylight. We lose more each day, and by the end of the month, we'll have 14 hours of daylight.

This isn't the only thing that's different. The wildlife is different, too. There are Bald Eagles, the symbol of our nation. Though large, Bald Eagles are primarily scavengers. I've seen the 'freedom chickens' on the beach eating halibut carcasses, and being chased around by seagulls ('beach chickens') and crows or ravens ('annoying goth chickens'). There are also moose up here. They're pretty much an angry cow on stilts. And now that most lady moose have babies, they get even more aggressive. They've even been known to kill dogs on leashes because they look like wolves. We haven't seen any bears yet. What a relief.

The ground is different, too. For those of you not familiar with muskeg, picture wet memory foam. Except the memory foam is an unknown thickness and has spiky plants growing out of it. Sometimes machinery and vehicles get swallowed by the muskeg. There are literally tons of heavy machines an unknown depth under the muskeg form when the Alcan highway was built.

Obviously there are a lot of different laws, but overall, I didn't find it very hard to adapt.

One of the biggest changes, and one of my least favorite, would be the letting go of the original cast of Henz. There's no way I would have been able to bring any of them, not even the beloved and tiny Silverbronze. They've all gone to loving homes, so fear not. I was lonely for the only three weeks during my life when I had no chickens. But I have a flock of twenty now! That sure didn't take long.

I'm going to miss Quincy, I'll miss all my friends, including but definitely not limited to the whole Farm Guild, especially Laura and Ann and Emily, and countless others who made Quincy feel like home. Good luck to all my friends, and to the whole town and surrounding area.

Food Preservatives
By Bernadina Lucia

You go to your fridge, you pull out some ham for a sandwich. You're hungry, food is food, no harm done. Right?

Maybe, maybe not. When you eat your lunch meat, you may be consuming nitrates or nitrites. Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are preservatives, usually found in meats. They are also some of the worst of the preservatives out there. They're used to prevent discoloration, oxidization, and bacterial growth in mean. However, they carcinogenic, and if you don't know by now, that means they cause cancer. Yep, coffin nail can now be applied to hotdogs as well as cigarettes. Okay, don't get me wrong, they aren't nearly as bad as tobacco, but they have been linked to many different forms of cancer, such as leukemia, brain tumors and nasopharyngeal tumors. They've also been linked to diabetes, and respiratory infections in kids.

Okay, you've just found out about how bad your lunch meat meal is. So, you drink a glass of wine to take the edge off, after all, grapes are good for you and a little wine is okay according to doctors (you can get the same benifites from just grape juice, and the plus side of grape juice is if you get carried away you don't end up in bed with your shady neighbor). But really, how bad can it be? Not too bad, unless you're sensitive to sulphites. Yep, if you're allergic to sulphites, you'll get rashes, swelling, and hives. Yay! However, unlike nitirates and nitrites, sulphites are generally recognized as safe and won't cause harm to those who aren't allergic.

Maybe you'll encounter benzonic acid, AKA sodium benzoate. This one can also give you an allergic reaction, and if mixed with vitamin C, can pose a teensy cancer risk, specifically for leukemia. Also if consumed in enough quantity, benzonic acid can build up in large quantities in your liver, heart, kidneys brain, lungs, and adrenal glands. However, it's very very unlikely anyone will ever consume that much.

You probably haven't heard of these last preservatives. Propyl gallate and tert-butylhydroquinone are used to prevent oils of oxidizing and going rancid. More testing is needed to see exactly how bad for you they are, but they may both be carcinogenic, as seen from studies in mice and rats. We're being fed them now, though, despite not knowing exactly how bad they are.

Stay hungry, readers!

By Bernadina Lucia

Now, I like cornflakes. I really really like them, I even have a rooster named 'Cornflake' (he is mommy's handsome baby, yes he is!).

First, a bit of history on the flakes of gold. It was invented in 1894, or rather, Granose, it's wheat predecessor. It was invented by William and John Kellogg. John as a doctor who ran an Advent sanitarium. He practiced 'biological living', which included a diet of no fun stuff (booze, meat, tobacco, spices, and minimal dairy and eggs). He, his brother, and his wife Ella, began to experament with cereals and granolas, and Granose was created. By accident. Basically, it was left out overnight, got funky, and flaked, so they cooked it.

Initially, they just served their flaked cereals (the first of their kind) to the patients, and then they sold it mail-order to ex-patients. Eventually, they formed a company and began marketing it to the general population. They made 3 million dollars in 1900. Then six years later William split and formed his own company. The brothers fought for years over the Kellogg name. William won, despite the legal battles going from 1906 to 1921.

But how is it made today? The history is all well and good, but how are the flakes we eat today made?

Well, first the grains are ground, pulped, and mixed into a vat with whatever flavorings, preservatives, or minerals are added. Then the paste is either dried and rolled and flaked and then sent through a drum where they are sprayed with more additives and dries them, or the paste is moved to a cooker-extruder where it is mixed with the water and other additives, and cooked and agitated at high heat. Then it's shaped, packaged, and sold.

Now, the healthiness of the cereal in question depends on what was added, because much of the original integrity is destroyed by the heat.

It's by far not the worst food I've ever covered here. There are more healthful alternatives, but they likely won't be quite as tasty because they lack the sugar, which is the main reason why people like cereals.

How much land to feed a person?

By Bernadina Lucia

I've heard that you only need one acre to grow enough food for one person for one year. Let's break this down: calorie requirement vary among people depending on their biological sex, their age, their size, and how much energy they expend on average. Females require fewer calories than men because they are on average slightly smaller and tend to store fat slightly better. So if you are a sedentary (not active) male you need about 2,000 calories per day, and 1,600 for females, keep in mind these are low-end estimates for people who aren't physically active such as someone who has an office job and doesn't exercise much.

For a moderately active man 2,200 calories per day is recommended, and 1,800 for women. Again, lower end estimates for someone who had a job with light physical activity, or who exercises a little.

For active men, 2,400 calories, and for active women, 2,000. If you are going to be self reliant and produce all of your own food, trust me, you'll be pretty damned active. The higher end estimate for active men's and women's caloric needs is 3,000 and 2,400 respectively.

We aren't even into protein or essential vitamins yet.

So, off of low end estimates, for one year we need 876,000 calories for one active man, and 730,000 for an active woman. The higher end estimates are 1,095,000 (male) and 876,000 (female). How many calories (again, we're not even into protein yet) can one get from an acre? Well, in one pound of whole wheat flour, there are 1,538 calories. In potatoes there are 358 calories per pound, and in one pound of millet there are 1712 calories.

A male who is about 30 years old, is the average height of 5'11, and is a healthy weight of 170 and is very active, needs 62 grams of protein per day. A female who is about 30, the average height of 5'4, and is a healthy weight of 130, needs 47 grams of protein per day. A pound of millet has 49 grams of protein. A pound of whole wheat flour has 62 grams, and a pound of potatoes has 9.7 grams. So far it seems millet and wheat are neck and neck. But how many pounds of either can we grow in an acre?

At least according to my research, the average amount of wheat grown per acre in the bread basket states are 55 bushels per acre per year, which translates to 3300 lb of wheat per one acre. In terms of calories thats 3300 pounds multiplied by 1538 calories is 5,075,400. That sounds pretty good, but this is industrial wheat farming, before grinding the wheat grains into flour. It's also in the riches soil in the U.S.

You can yield a similar fifty bushels of millet per acre, grossing 5,136,000. Millet also grows to maturity in 60-90 days. Wheat takes 120 days.

These numbers are nice and tidy. They also exclude the possibility of bad weather, fire, and pests. It also excludes the toll this takes on the land, and I'm willing to bet your acres isn't quite as prime as the American Bread Basket. So while you could hypothetically grow enough millet or wheat on an acre to live for a year, it's best to invest in two or more acres and a variety of crops.

Emergency preparedness
By Bernadina DeVita

We're seeing many natural disasters and a lot of tradgety this year.  We thought 2016 was bad with the killer clown.  No, we're facing a real crisis now.  It seems to me, people are panicking nationwide less about the literal fires and floods we're facing than they were over pranksters in clown makeup.
So, here's some information for what you should put into an emergency pack, at the very least. 

In your emergency stash, you should have water.  This, I think, is the most important thing you can have on hand, especially if you are facing flooding.  Though there will be water everywhere,  much of it will be foul.   An adult male needs 13 cups of water per day, a woman needs 9 cups.  This is on average.  Pregnant or breastfeeding women need  13 cups of water per day.  There are 15 cups per gallon.  A gallon weighs 7 pounds, so a three day supply of water for one person will be a little under three gallons.  21 lb might seem like a lot, but your thrist will be much, much heavier.
Food: people can last a fair while without food. But it would be better to have dry or canned food on hand.  Have at least three days of food and water on hand, at a minimum. 

If you have to evacuate, which you may if you are stricken by fire like the westcoast, you need to have your important papers and medication handy.  It can be risky to have your important papers like wills and deeds right out in the open, but you need to know where they are, and they need to be accessable.  You may need to know where your: will, birth certificate, immunization records, any deeds or vehicle titles you own, drivers or pilots lisences, and other important identification or government issued papers are. 
So, everyone, remember, be it a volcano, a flood, a fire, an earthquake, or, if you like, Killer Klownz, you need to be a little prepared.

Poisoned Candy
By Bernadina Lucia

Your Halloween candy is bad for you. We know this. From hydrogenated oils to high fructose corn syrup, everything about it is bad.

But is it poisoned or otherwise tampered with? Everyone's favorite Halloween Candy legend resurfaces once more as parents worry: is my child going to be given candy with razor blades in it? Just the idea of it makes you cringe, a a joyful child in a jocular outfit is munching through their candy at a face rate, only to bite into a chocolate bar and spit it out, screaming. Blood pouring from the mouth, because they bit into a piece of candy with a rusted blade which cut a huge, ragged gash out of the inside of the poor little child's mouth. Who knows what could be on this blade. Tetanus? HIV? Poison?

Aside from a bit of metal or another foreign object getting into the candy during manufacturing or packaging process, is your child likely to find a needle in their candy? Obviously not unless someone put it there. There have been plenty of hoaxes, either the kid or a family member or friend put it there as a prank.

There have been a few cases where someone actually DID hand out candy with sharps in it, but no injuries came of it.

Just to be safe, don't accept unwrapped candy, and don't let your child eat candy if it has a damaged wrapper.

Halloween: the one day a year that you can accept candy from strangers.

How much land part 2
By Bernadina DeVita

So, what to plant? Potatoes, though cold hardy, are the least nutritious of the three starches I discussed last week. Millet and wheat were pretty close. After some more research, what I found was that millet is more nutritious than wheat, and it grows much faster, is more disease resistant, and requires less water. It can even grow in skeletal soils.

The one problem I found with millet is that it contains goitergens. What are goitergens? Well, they effect how the thyroid processes iodine, and they cause goiters.

This sounds terrible, surely nobody can eat my wonder-grain now! Actually, millet is a goitergen just like cabbage and broccoli. It requires consuming a large amount of millet over a long time to even detect the effects. In fact, if you have an overactive thyroid, it's suggested you eat goitergen containing foods.

As for everyone else, cook it. Goitergens are damaged when you cook them. It's not like you were going to eat most of you millet raw, anyway. No, you'd grind it up and make it into bread or boil it and mush it up.

But there could be another contender for the Resilience Farm Favorite: buckwheat.

Okay, buckwheat is not related to wheat. It contains no gluten, just like millet. Actually, it isn't even a grass.

It has 1440 calories per pound, whereas millet has 1712 calories per pound. Wheat has 1,538 calories per pound. But buckwheat has 56 grams of protein per pound as opposed to millet's 48, and wheat's 62. So far it does seem to be a competitor. When grown commercially, between 800 and 1,200 pounds per acre can be harvested. That means, low end estimate, 1,152,000 calories per acres, and 44800 grams of protein can be had per acre. Compared to millet's five million calories per acre, and wheat's five million calories per acre. But that's just the low end estimates. If you had a perfect year and got 1,200 lb of buckwheat, that makes 1,728,000 calories harvested. It isn't quite as sustaining as millet or wheat, but it is pretty cold hardy, and is a short season crop. One slight problem with it is a person who eats a primarily buckwheat diet is at risk for fagopyrin poisoning, which causes skin inflammation in sun-exposed areas, cold sensitivity, and tingling or numbness in the hands. Unlike goitergens, fagopyrin is not damaged by cooking. You're at more risk for fagopryin poisoning if you consume a lot of tea made from buckwheat flowers or sprouts.

Eat well, friends. Remember, variety and moderation are key. Plant two acres.

Winter cover crops
By Bernadina Lucia

Winter is a time when you can build soil. How? With winter cover crops! Usually grasses and legumes, such as millet or clover, they break up the soil, and when they are knocked down by snow or finish growing and die, the plants will rot and fertilize the soil.

What kind of crops can you plant?

Well, there are two types: winter killed, and winter hardy. Winter killed grow quickly or are planted in the fall and they die when it freezes.
Winter hardy can handle the cold, and grow out their lives through the winter.

Winter killed:
Field pea

Winter hardy:
Winter rye
winter wheat
Hairy vetch
Austrian winter peas,
crimson clover

You don't have to plan a winter cover crop, but it is beneficial for your fields.

Cereal Killer
By Bernadina Lucia

-Trader Joe's O's
- Mom's Best Cereals
- Cheerios
- General Mills
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Golden Grahams
- Honeycomb
- Lucky Charms
- Wheat Squares Cereals
- Trix
- Cocoa Puffs
- Triple Berry Toasted
- Wheat chex
- Cookie Crisp
- Party Mix
- Tasteeos
- Reese's Puffs
- Heart Healthy Cereal
- Kix
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Froot loops
- Meijer Honey Nut Toasted Oats
- Oatmeal Crisp Cereal
- Nestle Nesquik Cereal
- Cookie Crisp Cereal
- Magic Stars Cereal
- Nestle Oats & More Raisin
- Quaker
- Kellogg’s Corn Pops

Do you eat one or more of these cereals? You might think that, other than being cereal, they have nothing in common. The brands are different, some are super sugary, others are whole grain. Well, they all have one thing in common: Tri-soduim phosphate. Some people have no idea what this is. Others know it's a cleaning chemical and ingredient in paint thinner than you can't even buy in California. Obviously, we'd all be dead if they used the same concentration of TSP in cereal as is used in cleaning. There are certain levels of TSP allowed by the FDA, but I haven't been able to find out exactly what these levels are. I also put another nail in the Snopes coffin. Their article on TSP compares Trisodium phosphate with bicarbinate of soda, or baking soda, claiming that because both are basic on the Ph scale, and both are used in cleaning. This is a very flimsy way of trying to tone down how scary TSP seems. Well, here's the break down. They have different molecular structures. If I mix a spoon of baking soda with water and drink it, my stomach will calm down. If I mix a spoonful of TSP with a glass of water and drink it, I will have to get my stomach pumped or else I'll die. Again: different molecular structures, TSP is dangerous, baking soda isn't. The article went on to say that if you eat an excess of baking soda it's dangerous. Eating anything in a huge amount is dangerous. Baking soda contains a lot of sodium, so overconsumption is dangerous for people who are low on potassium or who are on sodium restricting diets.

So why the hell is TSP in cereal anyway? Pretty much, it's a base so it's useful in levaning, or making things rise. Know what else does that? Baking soda.

TSP is also in:

-Processed meat products

-Processed cheeses

-Many canned soups

-Acts as a leavening agent in many commercial cakes and baked goods


-Whitening Toothpaste

-Baby Toothpaste


-Hair coloring and bleaching agents

Good luck, readers.

Agent Orange Juice
By Bernadina Lucia

You're probably thinking, what can possibly be wrong with orange juice? Is she going after artificially flavored orange drinks like koolaid? No. We already know that koolaid is garbage and should really only be used as hair dye. Today we're going to talk about 'natural' orange juice. You know the stuff, Tropicana, MinuteMaid, and the like. But, surely it can't be that bad? It's not from concentrate, and it's all natural.

The thing to know about orange juice is that if it is in its natural state, it has a super short shelf life. So they remove the oxygen from it. Not as bad as loading it with preservatives, but it actually removes all of the orange flavor. Technically it's still '100% natural' because the flavor added back in is made from orange byproducts. The flavor is basically like a hotdog, made from all the rinds and spare bits of the orange. But the good news is, if you can't afford that new Dior or Chanel scent, just dab a bit of '100% natural orange juice' on your neck. The flavor packets that are added back in are designed and made by the same labs that work for major perfume companies.

This isn't as bad as most of my topics, but still. Oh, and the worst thing about it, is the sugar. A 12-oz glass of O.J has as much sugar as a 12-oz can of Coke. Tropicana, by the way, is owned by PepsiCo.

Thirsty much, readers?

The Pebble Mine
By Bernadina Lucia

This week we're doing something different. I'm not going to be attakcing a product you know and love with facts. This time I'm going to be talking about the Pebble Mine.

The Pebble Mine is a 'mineral exploration site' taking place in some of the upper watersheds of Bristol Bay, which is across the inlet from the peninsula I live on, and near Lake Illiamna. This doesn't sound like it has a lot of consequence for the majority of my readers, but it's a huge project that will have an impact on the wildlife in and around Bristol Bay, and the people who rely on them. The people who rely on Bristol Bay are large in number, since it has some of the largest and last of the salmon fisheries. It's the salmon powerhouse of Alaska

The minerals that The Northern Dynasty Partnership, which is a Canadian subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals, Limited, are going after are gold, copper, and molybdenum. Molybdenum is typically used in plating and alloys, if you didn't know.

The Pebble Mine was first explored in 1987, back when salmon was far more common. It was being fought even then. The project changed hands many times since, and there hasn't been any full-scale mining. Yet.

The pros: it will increase industry in Alaska, which is currently in a recession. It will bring in money, create jobs, and hopefully reduce dependence (for an estimated 30-60 years) on foreign sources of the three minerals I mentioned. It will create an estimated 2,000 jobs at first, which will drop to 1,000 long-term jobs for the expected life of the mine, which is, as I said, 30-60 years. Alaska has a very low population compared to all the other states, less than one million people. As of 2016, it had just over 741,000 people. Many of these people are reliant on industries like mining, and as I mentioned, Alaska is in a recession.

The cons: first we'll look at the economic cons, because the environmental ones are huge. First off, the mine will be controlled by foreign interests, Canadian and Japanese. Second, it won't pay huge taxes to the state. Taxes on mining in Alaska are only 1.5%. The potential earnings on the mine are unknown.

Environmental costs: 40% of headwaters in the U.S have been contaminated by mining activity. Fish in the watershed, fish which there is already a large industry based off of, rely on the the watershed where the mining will take place. The fishing industry will no doubt be hurt by accidental heavy metal run off and other water contamination. The likelyhood of earthquakes in the area is unknown, and this area of Alaska is very highly quake prone. The mine would likely be damaged and pollute the waters.

We've heard this story a thousand times in different places in the world.

For more information, go here:

Be Thankful

By Bernadina Lucia

This Thanksgiving, please take a moment to think about all of the people who are less fortunate.  We become so wrapped up in our little worlds, a world built by consumerism and the idea of relative deprivation.  I'm talking about the Black Friday rush.  It's absurd.  How much do you need whatever you're rushing to buy?  Between very effective marketing, the cultural mindset of consumerism, and the idea that all of your peers will me running around getting new shiny things, you have been brainwashed into buying a bunch of things you don't need.

It won't bring you joy.  At best, it'll give you an endorphine rush while it's new, and then it may make some part of your existance a little more convenient.

But think about the things that DO bring you joy, think about the things you already have.  Your family, your friends, your community, your pets, your health, if you have any left.

What are you actually thankful for?  What is it you really want?