I'm still angry. I was trying to find humor in this, but when farmers across America, (like the farm over the aquifer that supplies the water for a large portion of Oklahoma), are having raw human sewage applied by the ton to their land, there's nothing funny about it.
Let me put this into perspective for you. We could not legally put an old fashioned single hole outhouse in our woods, because it would be dangerous, and raw sewage could leak into the ground and our water supply. On the other hand, farmers are lining up to get "free" human waste dumped on their fields for them.
What kind of world do we live in? Where milking donkeys is weird, but dumping human waste and pharmaceutical toxic trash on our farm land is normal?
"Every time you flush your toilet or clean a paintbrush in your sink, you may be unwittingly adding toxins to fertilizer used to grow the food in your pantry. Beginning in the early 1990s, millions of tons of potentially toxic sewage sludge have been applied to millions of acres of America’s farmland as food crop fertilizer. Selling sewage sludge to farmers for use on cropland has been a favored government program for disposing of the unwanted byproducts from municipal wastewater treatment plants. However, sewage sludge is anything but the benign fertilizer the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is." (Center for Food Safety.org)
But, you say, I'm sure the farmer didn't know that it was toxic. I'm sure they didn't know that the stench would permeate the air for miles around, for weeks on end. I'm sure they didn't know that it would cause them to be a stench, literally, in their neighbors nostrils.
Or, that the grass their cattle would be grazing on for years would be fed on human waste, and medications, and heavy metals, and drugs, and hypodermic needles flushed down toilets.
"Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured, or dumped into our nation’s wastewater system – a vast, toxic stew of wastes collected from countless sources -- from homes to chemical industries to hospitals. The sludge being spread on our crop fields is a dangerous mix of heavy metals, industrial compounds, viruses, bacteria, drug residues and radioactive material. Hundreds of people have fallen ill after being exposed to sewage sludge fertilizer, suffering from respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, reproductive complications, cysts and tumors." centerforfoodsafety.org
Or, perhaps they did. Perhaps they met that crazy donkey milk momma one day in town. Perhaps this very subject came up in conversation, along with autoimmune disease and the health of our food. And, if that hypothetical conversation happened, it would have gone something like this.
N: "Oh, we're so excited! We've been on the wait list for Humanure for years and we're finally getting our fields done! It will save us soooo much money on fertilizer!"
C.D.M.M. (Crazy Donkey Milk Momma) "But, it smells awful, for weeks! And it will be right by your house!"
N: "Oh, noooo, they said they're treating it even more now, so it won't stink a bit!"
C.D.M.M. "But, aren't you worried about the health effects? I mean, everything that goes down peoples toilets, including pharmaceutical drugs, illegal drugs...not to mention the toxic junk people eat...that's all going on your fields, and your cattle eat that grass, and then you eat that beef..."
N: "Oh no, we don't eat our cows!"
C.D.M.M. "Oh, you don't? (I'm perplexed..maybe they keep cows as pets?) I thought you had beef cows? Are they dairy cows?"
N: (laughs) "WE don't eat our cows. They go to market! We only buy grass fed beef."
At this point my eyes may have rolled back into my head.
Please re-read that last sentence. WE DON'T EAT OUR OWN BEEF. We buy the good stuff. We sell our beef to everyone else.
I realize that with this blog, I may be ticking off the majority of the small town that I live in.
"Despite the danger of using sludge in food production, federal regulations are unsettlingly inadequate. The EPA monitors only 9 of the thousands of pathogens commonly found in sludge and rarely performs site inspections of sewage treatment plants or the farms that use sludge fertilizer. Regulations governing the use and disposal of sewage sludge have been criticized by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Research Council, as well as numerous medical professionals, engineers and activists.
Center for Food Safety seeks to end the use of sewage sludge as an agricultural fertilizer through an immediate moratorium on its application to croplands, and advocates for the launch an independent investigation into all specific claims that sludge has caused harm to people, animals and the environment." www.centerforfoodsafety.org
Or, perhaps it will wake them up. That when city slickers show up with a load of poop and tell them it smells like roses, maybe they'll realize they're getting sold a load of...poop.
Maybe they're literally unloading their crap on the idiot country bumpkins, ruining our land and our water supply, and we're lining up begging for it. Because it's FREE.
So, as I close my bedroom window because the wind's blowing our direction and stench of their "cheap fertilizer" is infiltrating my house, and all the other houses for miles around, and I feel a headache coming on, and as I tell my daughters a bold faced lie, don't worry, I'm sure it couldn't be the farm over our water supply. I'm sure the water won't be contaminated with human feces and pharmaceuticals, don't worry dear children.
Don't worry, my child, who has an autoimmune system that was tanked by this toxic world before she reached the age of seven.
Don't worry. I'm sure the grown ups of this world value our children's health more than their bulging wallets.
Maybe I will tick off this town. Maybe I will lose friends over this. Maybe I will start a feud among neighbors.
Maybe I will change a few minds about cheap. Cheap food. Cheap "fertilizer". Cheap healthcare.
Cheap has a cost.
It may not cost you.
It may just cost your neighbor.
It may just cost your child.
Their ability to have children themselves one day (read about the part about the hormones, peeps.)
Or maybe just give them a tumor.
"Industrial chemical compounds such as PCBs and dioxins cannot be degraded and “persist” in the environment. They can bioaccumulate up the food chain as they are taken up by plants, which are in turn eaten by animals, which are in turn eaten by other animals. Many POPs are known to be carcinogens and have been implicated in endocrine, reproductive, and immune disorders."
But, if you're lucky, your community will bite their tongues and drink the poison and pretend it's ok. Or they just don't know any better.
If you're lucky, you won't live in the same county as a momma bear who has seen first hand the devastation of those "immune disorders."
"Some pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi survive sewage treatment and thrive in the nutrient-rich sludge. These can include salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, hepatitis, diarrhea-causing protozoa, and parasitic worms that can lead to neurological problems and nutritional deficiencies. Because of the antibiotic residues commonly found in waste, sewage sludge is the perfect way to select for extremely hardy and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can be deadly." centerforfoodsafety.org
As in, immune disorders that somehow cause strep to cross the blood brain barrier and wreak havoc on a child that was healthy the day before? PANDAS disease. PANS. Horrific "new" diseases in children caused by viruses, parasites, and pathogenic bacteria resistant to antibiotics?
But...surely that doesn't have anything to do with the rise in HUMAN WASTE spread across farmland in America since the 1990's???
But no one is protesting around here, because most of those neighboring farms are on the wait list for their truckload of free human sludge from the poop plant. Green with envy over your good fortune.
If you didn't read the article above, read it.
If you didn't understand the not so fictional conversation, re-read it.
This is the beef you're buying at the store. While the farmer who grows it buys grass fed beef for her own table with the profits she made from the sale of her beef fed on human waste.
.."This chemical soup, often full of toxic compounds, nanomaterials, hormones, and dangerous pathogens, are applied to the very food we eat. While certain sanitation processes do decrease some health risks, chemicals such as PCBs, flame retardants, heavy metals, and endocrine disrupters – many of which are carcinogens – are not filtered out. Instead, they accumulate in the soil and are taken up by crops, putting human health at risk." center for food safety.org
And when I go for a walk in my woods tomorrow, and contemplate wearing a mask, I'll remember why we can't have a Hee Haw for Health Event in the Spring, when Poop is in the Air. And the dirt. And the underground water supply for a lot of Oklahoma. (Because this is the very same aquifer that was so ecologically important that they supposedly re-routed an entire turnpike that was going to go over it...so they wouldn't disturb the water.)
"Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, molybdenum, cadmium, and thallium – a toxin hazardous to humans in very small doses – can be taken up by plants in neutral and basic soils and poison both animals and people"
Perhaps I'll send the farmers the bill for my new water filtration system. Or the city of Edmond. Subject: #thanksforthetoxicsludge
Yes, Berkey does make a filter for this. And we'll be buying one.
Oh, yeah, and vote for us. Your friends at the Donkey Dairy. You know, the sweet momma bear you thought had a sense of humor. She'll be back tomorrow, or when the wind changes. Today the grizzly took over the blog, the one who protects her cubs from attack. Even if it's in the form of poop next door. And her claws are a keyboard.
Vote and share every day. Because a water filtration system for our entire farm is going to cost a pretty penny. (And then come back and keep reading...there's more, and it's important.)
You should probably ask your grass fed beef farmer if they consider Human Waste an "organic fertilizer." They might be calling their grass fed beef "organic" and truly not have any idea what they're doing. In which case, send them this blog post.
For the record, we refuse to buy hay for our donkeys from any farmer that uses Human Manure as a fertilizer.
"There are no labeling or disclosure requirements for food grown in sewage sludge. However, some companies, such as Heinz and Del Monte, prohibit the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer for their products. In addition, USDA organic standards require that food cannot be grown in sewage sludge. Only by purchasing food with the certified organic seal can you be sure that your food was not grown in sewage sludge." www.centerforfoodsafety.org
I'm not blaming the farmer. Well. In this case, I am. But I don't want to.
I know most of them are barely scraping by. They're cutting corners because they have to in order to survive.
But the funny thing is, when I drive around this farming community, the fields with the Human Waste Dump aren't on poor farmers land.
They're on the rich hobby farmers land, the ones with the big house with the view of the lake, and the one who has cows for a fun retirement bonus.
They're buying grass fed and organic and selling their beef to Walmart and McDonalds. Because they don't eat their own beef.
But, we can't just blame them. We are all part of this problem. When we stop buying junk food and start buying organic, and take the time to get to know our local farmer and ask them these questions, and buy direct from the farmer, giving them a decent profit margin...then they will be able to afford to "JUST SAY NO TO HUMAN SLUDGE."
When parents come to me for donkey milk, with sick children in tow, and I tell them they need to switch their diet to organic, it's not because I'm being a snob. It's because many of our children do amazingly better when they have a clean diet. Maybe, there is a reason for this.
Maybe our food is a much bigger part of the problem than we originally thought.
Maybe that E.Coli outbreak from spinach was because it was intentionally grown in human feces.
Maybe this has something to do with the rise in pediatric autoimmune diseases and pediatric cancer and children with brain tumors?
So we skip the mall, and wear hand me downs. and red and pink do "go together", and we buy organic, and from local farmers we trust. Because. Human feces and food, folks.
One of these days, I'll do a blog post with links to amazing local farmers you should be supporting with your dollars. After the sweet momma bear comes out of hibernation and grizzly goes to bed. It's too late for that ya'all.
PS. Here's one more for those that want to continue down the Human Sludge Rabbit Hole. This company in Milwaukee actually has a patent for their poop, and sell it in pellets across the USA. Golf courses, city parks, you name it. They call it "Milorganite" a cleaver play on the word "Organic". But, interestingly, isn't approved for use on organic farms.
"Experiments showed that heat-dried activated sludge pellets "compared favorably with standard organic materials such as dried blood, tankage, fish scap, and cottonseed meal." (FYI: "Tankage" is a fertilizer or animal feed obtained from the residue from tanks in which animal carcasses have been rendered.)
"The EPA and others have shown that biosolids (human sludge) can contain measurable levels of synthetic organic compounds, radionuclides and heavy metals. USEPA has set numeric limits for arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, and zinc.
The presence of heavy metals is a source of concern. The facility reports that they have been substantially reduced over the last 20 years.
The EPA has not regulated levels of environmentally toxic manmade dioxins. Substantial levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a type of "persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic" (PBT) contaminant, were detected in biosolids in 2001. This finding came despite the EPA's previous assertion that all PBT organic pollutants of concern had been banned from production in the 1970s and hence these could be ignored in risk assessment. In 2007, toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in Milorganite, donated to the City of Milwaukee and subsequently applied on city parkland. The cost to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and tax payers was estimated as $4.7 million. PCBs were banned from commerce in the US in the mid-1970s. The source of the PCB contamination was later determined to be a shuttered die-casting facility. The PCBs made their way to the treatment plant via sewer lines years after the facility stopped operation." from : Wikipedia on Milorganite human sludge
A friend asked me why we don't just give the farmers around here our composted donkey manure. I told her it's too valuable. We know what's in our donkey poop. No hypodermic needles or birth control pills. That stuff is gold. We won't sell it to anyone, but we will give it away to our best friends. And use it on our own land.
And now I'm done. Really. Go vote for the Donkey Dairy. ;)
Until we get legislation to stop laying this crap on Oklahoma. Literally.