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Shedding Light on the Food Industry


As I write in my book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, I am an unlikely crusader for cleaning up our food supply.  You may be, too.  But when I learned that chemicals and additives were recently introduced into the American food supply that are either banned or labeled from children's foods around the world, I felt compelled to do something.  Fortunately, there is a lot that we can do about it. 

Today, the American population suffers from a list of chronic health conditions and a growing number of cancers. Every rung of our socio-economic ladder has been touched by these diseases and the emotional and financial tolls that they take on a family while countries around the world barely seem to sniffle.   Have you ever wondered why?

“In the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have.   Robyn O’Brien’s courageous pursuit of THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH is an example of how we can all do our parts to protect the health of our families." —Erin Brockovich

As I highlight in The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, the deregulation of the American food system created a boon for industry. As governments around the world tightened regulations over chemicals added to their food supplies, we loosened ours in order to enhance industry profitability…to the detriment of our nation of 300 million eaters.

Did you know that American corporations formulate their products differently in other countries?  They don't use the cheaper, chemical and synthetic additives that they use in food products here; they use different ingredients - especially in children's products in response to changing consumer demand. 

Together, we can make our voices heard here.  So if you are one of the 300 million eaters who suffers from a chronic health condition and the rising costs of healthcare, then I am so glad that you are here.  Fortunately, there are things that we can do to take control of what seems like an out of control situation. If you want to SHARE YOUR STORY, I would love to hear from you. If you want to eliminate chemicals from your family's diet, then download some helpful hints. If you are inclined to DO ONE THING , do it.

Together, just as citizens around the world have done already, we have an incredible ability to leverage our collective talents, improve our food system and affect remarkable change, for our health and the health of our children. 

Taxpayers Face $450,000 Manure Bill

Taxpayers face $405,000 manure bill

By SETH SLABAUGH •  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • May 9, 2009

EATON -- The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is removing 4.5 million gallons of manure from a hog farm that went out of business after being prosecuted for environmental crimes.IDEM staff assessed conditions of the lagoon and barns, and determined that immediate action was necessary to prevent the potential for a spill," said IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed.

Muncie Sow Unit LLC was scheduled to be sentenced this week for pleading guilty to recklessly, knowingly or intentionally failing to maintain at least two feet of freeboard in its 12-million gallon manure lagoon, a felony. Freeboard is the distance before the lagoon overflows.

Judi Calhoun, a deputy county prosecutor, said the sentencing of the corporation was postponed until June 3. When the corporation pleaded guilty last October, the prosecution dismissed three felony environmental charges against the defunct corporation's owner, Jacobus John Tielen, 40, formerly of Eaton.

It will cost IDEM 9 cents a gallon to have the manure trucked to the Belmont Wastewater Treatment Plant that serves Indianapolis, or $405,000 for 4.5 million gallons.

However, it will cost only 2 cents a gallon if IDEM can land apply the manure as fertilizer.

But land application might not be possible.

"IDEM will continue to bring the manure to Indianapolis until the ground is dry enough to allow land application," Sneed said. "At that point we will land apply as much as we can."

A soggy spring has made it difficult for producers to get their manure applications done, experts at Purdue University say. Allowing nutrients to run off of fields pollutes the environment and is wasteful.

Local wastewater treatment plants declined to take the manure.

"We contacted the wastewater treatment facilities in the area, and they either did not want to take the waste or the ammonia and nitrogen content was too high for them," Sneed said. "Taking it would have caused an upset in their system."

IDEM is emptying two manure pits in barns and lowering the lagoon to a safer level.

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Since 1999, Tielen has been fined more than $21,000 for spilling manure, failing to report manure spills, killing fish and other violations. In 2002, one of Tielen's ex-employees told The Star Press he was fired for blowing the whistle on one of the manure spills. Tielen, a Dutch immigrant, reportedly told the worker that American environmental inspectors were "dumb." Tielen called the worker's story ridiculous and said he was fired for lack of attendance and poor job performance.


"It is evident that IDEM was not able to provide the oversight and regulation needed to make this swine CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) in compliance," said Julie Alexander, a retired educational administrator and member of Indiana CAFO Watch. "Now, the taxpayers will again be burdened with the cost of cleaning up this swine CAFO."

The intense nature of such industrial livestock facilities raises health concerns for those living in the surrounding area, Alexander said.

The cost of the cleanup can be recovered, according to Sneed.

"The responsible party is John and Becky Moriarity," he said. "They purchased the property sometime last year. IDEM will continue to work with them to address the situation."

The couple couldn't be reached by The Star Press for comment.

IDEM is paying a contractor named Wheeling Brothers to do the cleanup.


This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Seth Slabaugh.  The link to the page on the web to add your comments is  http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20090509/NEWS01/905090338