About me...

Because this journey is intensely personal, there will be times when my posts will be about more than just rebuilding the physical aspects of my life. They may be random and sometimes I think they may not even make sense to some. But whatever I post here will be as honest as I can make it, no punches pulled, telling it like it it. I hope that I can share some insight with others who might be going through a similar transitory period in their own lives. With luck and perseverence I know I will eventually successful in my new life. I have very high hopes for all of this but then I had those when Dave was alive, too. I am naturally a pretty optomistic person, I think.

Self-indulgent post

How does a person cope with tragedy? How do you move with grace and dignity when you are so scared that you feel like you are coming apart at the seams? Where do you find the inner light to press forward when you feel like the entire world is dissolving before your very eyes?

How well meaning local food advocates killed organic

There has been a movement in this country to bring the concept of "local food" back to communities.
Organic vs. Non-organic Produce

Humans have been growing produce organically for thousands of years. Today, the USDA has strict regulations governing the production of organic produce. In general, the use of genetically engineered seeds and methods, chemicals or radiation as preservatives, and chemically based fertilizers and pesticides are not allowed. Organic agricultural methods are more ecologically proper, sustainable, less harmful to the environment and overall are more energy efficient.

Organic produce are richer in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements and other nutrients than the fruits and vegetables produced by chemical based methods. In a recent study, antioxidant levels found in organically grown vegetables were almost 30% higher than conventional chemically enhanced vegetables.

Perhaps the most important reason to consume organic produce is that the human bodies were not designed to be constantly bombarded with chemicals and biologically altered products on a long term basis. Many of the problems associated with the non-organic foods will take years if not generations to show clear "cause and effect" consequences on our health. What we do know is that the herbicides and the pesticides used in non-organic farming are all "toxic" because that is how they were created. Obviously, the intake of toxic foods is bad for our health. The long term physiological and neurological damages done to the human health by consuming non-organic foods are numerous and very complex.

Another major health concern with the consumption of non-organic foods is the industry's wide and heavy use of antibiotics and growth hormones as supplements in animal feed. These supplements are used primarily to make the animals grow faster, bigger and less disease prone, leading to higher production yields. Numerous studies indicate that traces of these supplements remain in the food chain. It is not unreasonable to assume that the infusion of these biological and chemical agents into the food chain may be partially responsible for human obesity and other serious and growing health problems such as diabetes, coronary illnesses, autism, etc., etc.

Organic produce and food products are becoming more and more mainstream.They are becoming more available in supermarkets. However, farmer's markets, smaller organic health food stores and community supported agriculture (CSA) are more reliable outlets for organic produce.
Farming has been around for many ages. At a point in time, this was what most people did, until other things developed such as the automobile industry and ushered in the industrial revolution. Farming also became industrialized. The old ways fell aside as this new non-organic farming evolved into the conventional methods we know today. Here are some of the things that conventional food farming has brought into our food supply.

First and foremost, pesticides and herbicides. For years, conventional farming used chemicals to shortcut conrol of pests and weeds. It was eventually discovered that foods began to have high levels of toxic chemical residues. Some of these were tested and found to be harmful to humans. Thought the FDA has already banned some of these chemicals from being used in the U. S., chemical companies could still manufacture and export them. Ergo, some imported foods bring these banned chemicals back into the U. S. and back into our food system.

The second is contaminated sewage sludge. The idea was to use human waste to fertilize non-organic crops. This wasn’t a bad idea but this is also mixed with chemical and industrial waste before being sent to the treatment plant. Tests have shown that large amounts of this in the human body may contribute to chronic illnesses.

The third is the use hormones, antibiotics and feeding food animals the remains of other animals. This is mostly found in eggs, meat and dairy products. Hormone usage can disrupt normal hormonal activity in the animal that consumes it.Overuse of antibiotics that find their way into the food chain have helped to create "superbugs" or organisms that have resistance to antibiotics prescribed medically. This resistance makes disease harder to treat.

The last is irradiation. Spices are exposed to radiation to kill bacteria or microorganisms that may be present. This also does more harm than good since it can lead to various diseases.
Recently, studies have shown a different view since the chemicals and other substances used are toxic which caused various illnesses and deaths. To alleviate this threat, the government has decided to make changes in the agricultural industry. It encourages farmer to shift from the old ways to something that is better and safer for everyone.

This is what organic farming is all about. This kind of farming aims to develop crops and livestock using the most environmental, humane, economic systems available to date. For this to work, 2 things are needed. First is fertile land that can be used to plant different crops. The other is people who will work on the land.

European countries are also veering away from the old approach and are practicing it. These countries call it ecological agriculture which relies heavily on taking care of the environment.

Organic farming works on the following things:
1. Making sure the soil can be used for a very long time without the use fertilizers that were used in non-organic farming.
2. Giving the crops proper care using soil organisms and not by using pesticides.
3. The recycling of livestock manures and organic materials which includes crop residues.
4. Controlling the growth of weeds and insect infestation through crop rotation. This means not using anything that science has used in the ways of non-organic farming.
5. The growth of farm animals by paying attention to the evolutionary adaptations and respect for the natural process. This means that genetic engineering is strictly prohibited.
6. Lastly, the effects of this method on the environment.

In terms of which is better, everyone can see that this new approach is safer and better than the old one. It no longer uses genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge which were the things used to make non-organic produce.

It is not easy though to stop non-organic produce to enter the market. This is because some products that are the demanded by the consumer have to be imported. Even if there efforts on the part of the government to ban the use of such substances, there are no regulations in the countries that export it to the United States.

Unless there is a regulation that is agreed by that country or the crops that are imported can be made locally in a major scale, this is something that cannot be eradicated. The best thing to do is to only buy organic foods that could substitute those that are not.

This requires more support from the consumer and tougher government legislation for the safety of the public. The number of organic farmers has more than doubled in the past 16 years. This will continue to grow as long people see the bigger picture.

Back to the Blog

I have been a blogslacker (I made that word up...) lately but I have a good excuse. I do our website myself and am an old dinosaur when it comes to writing the code for the site. It takes me forever because I don't use a program for it and I have to tweak every page until I like it and that can take me days just to finish one section. While our website is pretty "folksy" and homemade, it takes a lot of work to make it look that way. There is a new 300+ photo album that has pictures from our 10 years here. The other new page is the 2010 Crop List and you can go there from here . That page is the one that took forever because I had to look through about 1000 photos to find the right ones since it has pictures of each veggie, most of which were taken of stuff harvested here at the Farm. I had to use stock photos for a couple of things, but noted that by the pics, so there is no confusion. Don't want to mislead.

And speaking of misleading, I recently looked at a couple of "local produce buying club" websites that deliver in this area. I am sorry to be my usual cynical self, but if you are buying a basket of produce and it has avocados, bananas or oranges in it, it ain't "local", at least by my definition. I guess they mean that the buying club is local, not the produce, but that is misleading. Guess the argument could be made that any assumption made by the consumer is not the fault of the operator. Of course, I have canvassed grocery store produce managers about their definition of local and have come to the conclusion that to some people "local" means grown on Planet Earth. Personally, I try to keep my "local" sphere within a 50 miles range, just because there is a great dairy that I buy cheese from and it is just about 50 miles from me. Other than that, more than 20 miles away makes me twitch.


Support New Moon Farm Organics by participating in our

We have issued 100 "I SUPPORT NEW MOON FARM" discount cards,which will sell for $10 each.
The card will entitle the holder to a 10% discount on produce purchases for the entire 2010 market season
at the Davidson Farmer's market and/or
at any other farmer's market we attend in 2010.
The card can be used as a one time $20.00 discount toward
a 12 week membership in our

Why the fundraiser?
Dave and I are passionate organic farmers, although it isn't a profession that pays a whole lot. Of course, we don't do it just for the money. There is something deeper than I can't quite explain with mere words, that keeps us at this year after year. We consider it our "calling", a deep and spiritual need to express our caring for this world by doing something concrete to demonstrate that concern. For us, it has never been about money. Unfortunately, however, we live in a world where money rules.

With the tremendous amount of medical and other bills related to Dave's cancer, we have almost completely exhausted our savings. While we now have coverage for almost everything that Dave requires, for the first four months of his illness nothing was covered, because his cancer was a pre-existing condition. We have a mountain of medical bills to prove it.

We are presently in a situation where we simply need to ask our friends and neighbors for a little help. Like most very independent people, it is hard to ask for a handout and that is not the case now. We always budget for our off season months, including unplanned and emergency expenses. This year it was one unplanned expense after another and now our "emergency fund" is almost gone.

Because farming is seasonal, we won't have any regular stream of funds coming in until late March or April and so we need to raise a bit of capital between now and then. To do so, we decided that a little fund raiser might be the solution to get us over this rough financial patch. The post at the beginning of this blog gives the simple details. Even though the button says "DONATE" this is actually more of a "special offer". Of course, any donation, however small, would be greatly appreciated.



Many of you have probably noticed that Farmer Dave, who is the soul of New Moon Farm, was conspiciously absent from the market scene in 2009. Many of you, however, may not know the reason for his absence.

In early 2005, Dave was diagnosed with a renal cell carcinoma in his right kidney. The kidney was removed at that time and he was pronounced cancer free. Because his surgery and recovery occurred during our off season, most of our customers never even knew he had had cancer. Three months after this original surgery, he was back to working the farm and we had a great growing season that year.

In October of 2008, he began to experience some fairly severe back pain, which we chalked up to too much hard farm work. What farmer hasn't had an aching back? As the pain began to become more intense, it became obvious that there was something more than just a pulled muscle involved. Our local physician began to treat Dave for what he assumed was a herniated lumbar disc but the treatment did not produce much result and the pain became debilitating.

When this treatment stopped having any effect on the pain, a CT scan revealed that there was a large tumor in the L2 vertebra that had begun to cause the bone to deteriorate, which in turn had pushed the disc out of place. Bone loss had basically eaten away the bone and created a compression fracture that was pressing dangerously close to the caudua quinine (bottom of the spinal chord) and emergency surgery was performed to repair the damage caused by the cancer, followed by radiation treatment.

Now it is has been just over a year to the day since the spinal surgery was performed. The kidney cancer has now metastisized to many bones, as well as several organs. Numerous agressive bone tumors are causing most of the problems at this point. Bone pain is not like other pain. It is excrutiating and it is extremely hard to relieve. These tumors also weaken the bones and make them susceptible to breakage, so falls are an issue. Walking and even sitting down have become Herculean efforts on some days. Working with his doctors, we continue to try to find that magic formula that will ease his pain. If there is any good news in all of this, it is that the tumors in the organs are very small and not growing as aggressively as those in the bones.

Even through this that trial he is suffering, Dave's dedication to what we do here at New Moon Farm has never waivered. It is too important to him. During the years since his original cancer diagnosis, he has remained committed to what we do here at New Moon Farm -- growing the best organic food possible on our little corner of the planet -- working through the pain when he had to and always "manning the helm" to guide the rest of us through.

This past summer, there were days when Dave was able to put in several good hours of work and other days when he didn't feel like much more than getting out of bed but serving our customers through the season was, and remains, a priority. The 2010 New Moon Farm season will be no exception. (And by the way, many thanks to the volunteers to did come out this year.Your caring and help was deeply appreciated, even if you were only able to come for an hour or two. Remember, we're gonna have out "work for food" program again this year, for those who are interested in that.)

We have issued 100 "I SUPPORT NEW MOON FARM" discount cards,which will sell for $10 each. The card will entitle the holder to a 10% discount on produce purchases for the entire 2010 market season at the Davidson Farmer's market and/or
at any other farmer's market we attend in 2010.
The card can be used as a one time $10.00 discount toward
a 12 week membership in our 2010 CSA.

If you have enjoyed the "fruits of our labors" over the last 10 years and/or just want to send a couple of dollars, you can use the button at the top of the page that says "DONATE" which is via PayPal (you don't have to have a PayPal account yourself). If you want to send via snail mail, our address is Dave Ballard, c/o New Moon Farm, 1420 Belk Road, Mount Ulla, NC 28125. Thanks.

This article is posted on one of my other blogs, but I thought it was a good topic for this one, too. The original post was sparked by an article I read about how Dean Foods "quietly removed" the word organic from the label of its line of Silk Soy products. I identified with the headline because I was a victim of exactly what the article was written about. (The link on this blog is listed at the menu on the right but it won't stay up forever so you can read the article at http://www.star-telegram.com/local/story/1746193.html for as long as it stays posted there. If it is removed, look at www.star-telegram.com for articles written by By BARRY SHLACHTER barry@star-telegram.com )

Because I try to stay 90-95% organic in my choices about food, cosmetics, etc. I try alot of products, always looking for quality and good value. I stay away from anything organic from China, sadly because I just don't trust them yet. Ditto for anything that is not labeled with what I consider to be a legitimate organic certifying body for foreign goods. There are a lot of non-domestic "organic" products finding their way onto our supermarket shelves because frankly, there is not enough organic agriculture, etc. in the U.S. to keep up with the demand. Even though conventional agriculture continually tries to discredit organics, it is still far and away, even counting in the cheaters, way safer and healthier food. Safer for not just people but for the whole planet.

Anyway, it is what I believe, it is my life and I am relentless in my search for quality products. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I own an organic farm and I actually grow most of my own food, make my own cosmetics and generally do not routinely shop at the supermarket for anything except for things I can't produce myself. Soy milk is one of those things. So, now for the reason for this information and how it relates to soy products.

I don't do dairy. I am allergic to milk - not lactose intolerant- but truly allergic, with hives, stomach upset, everything you'd expect with an allergy. I passed this allergy onto my kids, although mine is more severe. Bottom line is that soy and alternatives to milk products has been a way of life for us. Soy has always been my product of choice. I drink it, cook with it, put it on my cereal. I never developed a taste goat milk and while I have been known to make my own almond milk, by the time I made enough for our usage, it would cost me a fortune so I stick with soy.

In my search for product I liked, I settled on Silk Organic Soy Milk. It has passed all my taste tests and I just like the product line. I have been buying it for years. White Wave, the company who produces Silk, is owned by Dean Foods and they have about 3/4 of the market share of these products anyway but it is a superior product, in my opinion. Buying these products from this conglomerate is one of the compromises that I make in my food choices. I am not buying local, I am not buying from a small family company and that is a bit of a sticking point, I admit. My conscience also tells me that this corporate giant (Dean) is not to be totally trusted but since I know that going in, it is my free choice to buy their products. For some reason that makes me feel a little better, knowing that they are not screwing me over, without my knowledge. I am allowing them to do it and that I think is called consent.

Recently, however, they confirmed my belief in the "not to be trusted" scenario. They quietly deleted the word "ORGANIC" from the label of most their products. No change was made at all to the carton but the much reduced organic line (I have only seen 2 products) is now in completely new and different green cartons. So if stocked on the same shelves, the organic product would stand out and that was the good news.

The bad news, unfortunately,that is not what happened. What did happen is that they didn't bother to tell retailers about the changes, so the retailers, in turn, continued get the same products they had been getting. Kind of a grocery store version of "don't ask, don't tell", much like what is going on with the unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the grocer's shelves.

Supermarkets don't work like they did 10-15 years ago, when the section manager actually made the decisions about products. Now the vendors just come in, place product and whatever they deem to be selling is what ends up on your grocers shelves. That is why there is such a limited selection of organic products in many of our local markets. There is no one who really knows anything about these products making any decisions. Decisions are made based on numbers on a page, not on customer demand. The numbers are calculates on sales in the store but if the store has no product to sell, how can those numbers reflect what customers might actually want. And as complacent consumers, we just accept that as the way it is.

When someone has been buying the exact same product, week after week, for several years, it is human nature to stop reading the label. Because nothing else changed on the cartons of Silk Soy, only the removal of the word organic, I didn't even notice that it wasn't there, until I got home from the market one day. For some reason, I was looking at the back of the carton and I noticed that the green "CERTIFIED ORGANIC" label was missing. Imagine my chagrin, because I have no idea how long it had not been there. I was furious to say the least. AND not only was the word "ORGANIC" removed, there is no disclaimer anywhere on the latest carton I purchased that says that it is made from non-GMO soybeans, which only incited my ire further. (To be fair in this tirade, that issue has since been corrected and the cartons now say that Silk is made with non-GMO soybeans grown domestically).

I immediately got online and looked up Silk Soy and discovered several articles written by other people who were just as angry as myself. I did find information about the much reduced organic line now offered by Silk but that hardly assuages my disgust for this company and their tactics. While I realize that the onus of responsibility for knowing what I am purchasing falls on me and only me, but this company's obvious "sneak attack" on one of their own organic products is unconscionable in my universe. Yes, the new cartons are bright green, easily discernible from the non-organic products, IF they are stocked on the shelves. It was a sneaky bait and switch as far as I am concerned but I hate to admit that I was one of those people who was duped by all this.

I have not stopped buying the non-organic Silk Soy products, because I can't find anything from the organic line at any of my limited sources. A couple of the local markets have their own lines of organic soy products now and the label says they are domestically grown, certified organic (non-GMO), although they are not as good as Silk Soy. I guess, at least for now, I will have to trust that the National Organic Program is doing its job. The NOP has the strictest organic guidelines on the planet at this point in time, but with lobbyists and politicians having a say in what happens at the USDA, who knows how long that will stay true.

Tired of beating around the bush on this subject....

Genetically Altered, Genetically Enhanced, Genetically Engineered, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Today, I am feeling like one lonely soldier that the general sent in to take down the entire left flank of the ene
Just remembered that I haven't posted anything to this blog in quite a while. Of course, I haven't really had much to tell because there isn't much going on "farm wise" at the moment. Just snow, rain, ice, more rain, more snow, more rain, a little sun, cold, cold, cold, cold. So I have spent A LOT of time in the house lately. I have to drag myself out to feed and water the chickens when the weather is like this. Honestly, there are times that I think about just selling off the whole flock and not having to worry about them.

One bad thing about being cooped up in the house for days at a time is how much of a mess manages to accrue in a relatively short while. For example, I get involved in little "projects" around the house and before I know it, 3 hours have passed and I have made a bigger mess than I started with. Like cleaning out the closet. First I drag everything in the closet out, so I can see what I have to work with space wise. This is an OLD house and the closet space is minimal, so I have to make the best use I can.

Problem with my method for cleaning closets is that I have to stop and look at everything I pull out. Then I have to make a decision as to whether or not to keep it...have I used it in the last year, is it a specialty garment that I need for working, would it cost me more to replace it thanto dedicate closet space to it, stuff like that. And then there are the trips down memory lane...remember the last time I wore this, should I keep this because it was a gift, why am I unnaturally attached to this holey t-shirt. I experience everything that the organizational experts say you should NOT do when trying to get organized.

And then after I drag everything out, all that decision making and stuff wears me out (mentally...this is not hard work, believe me). So, I end up stuffing everything back in the closet because I am too worn out to finish the job and it doesn't look any different that it did 3 hours previously when I started. I must have some sort of weird housecleaning ADHD because when it comes to paperwork or farm work, I am whiz bang! at getting things done. Efficiently doing housework eludes me.

One good thing about being housebound is that I can spend time in the kitchen, puttering around and experimenting with and testing recipes. That is big fun for me and Dave is very encouraging when I am cooking up goodies, so everybody is happy. During this last round of inclement weather, I came up with a couple of new treats, as well as honing in on some new versions of old recipes we already liked pretty well and now we like even better.

Sometimes, when you have a favorite recipe and you make it frequently, you get into a rut, making it exactly the same way and not even trying to improve it. Usually, the reason for that is time. Trying to get a tasty dinner on the table for the family doesn't leave much room for creativity. Being stuck in the house with nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do can kind of free up one's inner Julia Child. Think about how many times on a snow day, you or your mom made brownies, cookies or a special dish, etc. See? Of course, much of that creativity might be attributed to trying to appease bored (possibly whiney) snowbound kids, but nonetheless, the result's the same.

We like Mexican food and I have become pretty proficient at cooking it. I make a pork burrito that will bring tears of joy to anyone who tries one and I made those last week. We used to go to a really good restaurant, run by a wonderful Mexican family here in our town, that has since gone under. It was like going to visit friends, every time you went there. The whole family was always there. Dad seated people and ran the register, their daughter waited tables and their son bussed them, Mom did all the cooking and the two little kids did their homework at the last table by the kitchen. I have never met nicer people and the food was to die for! Best I have ever had, and I have eaten Mexican food from this coast to the other and down into Mexico. Problems with the economy forced them out of business and I believe that they may have gone back to California, but we certainly miss them.

And speaking of Mexican food, this past Saturday, I made probably the best chili I have ever made. I also make several kinds of really, really good chili....two traditional with meat and one vegetarian. I feel like I need to clear up the Mexican food/chili reference here, though because chili does not exist in historical Mexican cuisine. It is not an indigenous food. According to Wikipedia, it was introduced to Mexico by a Spanish missionary who was showed the local Indians how to make a dish using venison, peppers and beans. Of course, there are many versions of that story if you look but they all agree that chili is not a traditional Mexican dish.

Anyway, enough with the food history lesson. Back to chili. I made one of the traditional meat chili recipes this past weekend and it was so good! I used entirely organic ingredients, from the beef to the veggies, to the fresh cilantro, sour cream and cheese that garnished the end product.
It was so good, we actually had it for breakfast Sunday morning. Iit was around 11am before we ate, so that isn't all that strange (I had refried black beans served to me as a breakfast side in Mexico once, which was strange. You do not want to see that at 7 a.m.)