So,…what is the big hub-bub about chemical spraying of bugs and weeds? Aren’t we supposed to be weed and bug free, so we can live
in sterile and pristine environments? What are all these bright yellow, purple and white ‘weeds’ invading our lawns for?
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Genesis 9:3
Historically, lawns, or launde, (as the French labeled an expanse of meadow, glade or clearing), were fashionable in medieval times as a defensive perimeter around a castle to see enemies coming from a distance. It was kept clear by grazing livestock, or razed by peasants wielding a scythe. Not so bad for the cows and goats, however not the easiest work for the humans. However, servants and livestock, plus a clear view from afar, which all indicated wealth and power.
Hopefully, you get the idea: Perfect lawns equal wealth and power,…poor kept yards equal poverty and low social status.
That is the short cut version, and you should read more of the history in America’s development for this taste in affluent appearances, by clicking the link to the article “The Surprising History of Grass Lawns”, in Grunge magazine, https://www.grunge.com/846877/the-surprising-history-of-grass-lawns.
Now, I do enjoy a nice looking yard, and strive to keep mine appealing to passer-by. However, you will not find a single blade of cultured grass. My husband and I zero-scaped the majority of the front with pebble rock many years ago, then placed raised planting beds, containers and a greenhouse in front of the house. This is all facing the street,…so all passerby can see our growing veggies, herbs and medicinal ‘native plants’ (locally labeled as weeds).
Some neighbors love it, commenting on the lush plant growth, the beauty and color of the herbs (technically more weeds), and even say they were inspired by our efforts to start a garden of their own.
Other neighbors scowl at the 6 foot high wire fencing that creates a boundary to deter deer, with the remaining 10 feet to the street consisting of dried-out dirt and scrub brush. My husband alternately mows, or torches this,…depending on his mood. (Still keeping a clear area to watch for invaders,…old habits die hard.) And yes, everyone else has green lawns in their front yard. A couple of nearby home owners even sport three-foot high white picket fencing, trying for the cover of Country Living. Absolutely worthless in an environment of 4 foot snow falls and trafficked regularly by deer, coyote and moose.
So, besides needing to consider growing your own food in these interesting times of potential supply shortages, drought and drama,…why else should lawns and how they are maintained, be any issue at all?
Remember that today, not too many home owners have livestock grazing their front yards, or servants to mow it regularly, so this has lead to a progression in chemical products being manufactured. Unfortunately, these products are deadly to not only weeds, but insects, microorganisms needed for soil health, our pets and to human beings. Most do not break down very quickly and some are water soluble, entering our aquifers, lakes, as well as evaporated into the air to rain back down on us later.
The overall effect is poison in our food, our water and our air that can now be consistently found around the world. The most pervasive of these chemicals is Glyphosate, the main ingredient in products like Round-up. Many people have heard that there seems to be a few problems with the decades of use in weed control. Heavy use in large agricultural business, farms, to the every day home owner that consider dandelions and other natural medicinal plants,…yes, medicinal plants…, as noxious weeds. Because that is what the controlling entities like Home Owner’s Associations, plus companies that make the killing chemicals and Big Pharma, want you to believe.
Poisoning our food and water creates a cycle of dependency, health decline and illness that is big money to some corporations. This includes the epidemic of obesity, that is now impacting our children, because it is an antibiotic, that destroys our healthy gut flora. This dangerously impacts all nutrient absorption.
Naturally, to fix this problem, the scientists then decided to genetically modify food (GMO) to stop absorbing the glyphosate, however GMOs are connected to the afore mentioned obesity, plus diabetes and gluten intolerance. We eat more and more, because our body recognizes our food is less nutritious and what we do eat is absorbed less and less, creating actual malnutrition. Now, our body lacks the necessary requirements to make healthy cells. The more cells die off without new replacements, the faster we age, create cancers and have organ failure.
Glyphosate and its metabolites persist in food, water, and dust, often for a very long time after initial application. It has been found in over 70% of all water sources around the World, and in the internal organs of farmers who have been regularly exposed to large doses. Also consider, it cannot be destroyed by cooking methods like baking.
“It’s been detected in everything from meat, dairy, to fish, to fruits and vegetables, to grains, and even in baby formula. And studies have shown an increase in the proportion of individuals that have detectable glyphosate in their urine over the past several years.” Stated Chris Kresser, in a wonderful article he wrote titled, The Harmful Effects of Glyphosate—and How to Reduce Them (https://chriskresser.com/the-harmful-effects-of-glyphosate-and-how-to-reduce-them/).
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live.” Numbers 35:33
So, how did we come to this toxic scenario, where everything we eat and drink and breathe, is having potentially harmful impact to our health? The short version runs like this:
Ancient Roman times up to 1940- Crushed olive pits (amurea) ,Sulfur, heavy metals and salt.
Medieval Times to Victorian Era - chemicals began to be extracted from their botanical sources and were purified in laboratories. It was at this time that nicotine compounds were purified from tobacco, pyrethrums were extracted from flowers, and rotenone isolated from roots. In addition, cyanides, found in the pits of some fruits, were recognized as toxic compounds and added to the list of poisons for pest control.
Victorian Era to 1940’s - Organochloride compounds, such as BHC and DDT, were first synthesized in the 1800s, but their properties as insecticides were not fully discovered and exploited until the late 1940’s.
1940’s to present- Organophosphates (Parathion, Malathion, Azinophos Methyl), phenoxyacetic acids (2,4-D, MCPA, 2,4,5-T), Captan, Carbamates (Aldicarb, Carbofuran, Oxamyl, Methomyl), dioxin (Agent Orange), neonicotinoids (Imidacloprid, Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Nitenpyram), and Glysophates are manufactured and begin widespread use.
Note: The most toxic pesticide in the world today Imidacloprid, is especially deadly for honey bees (genus Apis) and is also the most commonly used insecticide in the world.
Remember how not too long ago everyone became shocked to find honey bees mysteriously dying everywhere? Is it really a mystery as we see how the ingenuity of Man to solve a problem, (insects and ‘weeds’), can lead us into another problem, (health decline and disease)?
We forget that bees, plus essentially all insects, and birds, have a role to play in plant pollination and productivity. What we call weeds, actually are soil conditioners, removing and balancing elements from otherwise inhospitable soil, which then allows other plants to flourish.
Whew! What a mess, right?!
So, what can we do to regain our health, our normal gut flora and diminish exposure to these poisons that are everywhere? First of all, get your reading glasses on! :
1. STOP all use of toxic chemicals in your yard. Carefully read the ingredients of anything that claims to be organically certified, as that pertains to only 70% of the ingredients by definition.
2. Study what grows in your yard that is considered a ‘weed’ and learn to identify the edible and medicinal ones. “The Sautee it, Don’t Spray It!”, part of this blog! There are probably actual food and medicine sources growing in your yard already!
With the available information on the internet, you can virtually identify any plant.
Or, take it to your local university extension program, gardening store, or a Master Gardener, to identify. Take as much as you can, even the roots if there is enough growing, to assist in the identification.
And there are plenty of great reference books to buy. One of my favorites is,
“The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies”, by Nicole Apelian, PhD & Claude Davis, which you can find on Nicole’s website: https://www.bookofremedies.org
3. Grow your own herbs, vegetables and fruit, even with the understanding that it may take up to 3 years to let your soil fully heal after herbicide and pesticide use.
4. Buy fresh, organic gardening soil that has natural bacteria and fungi enrichment added, and start growing food in containers. Or, clear out tainted soil in a large space of your ground to re-fill before planting.
5. Let water sit 24 hours in open buckets to evaporate chlorine and other chemicals found in regular tap water, before watering your plants-yes, a labor of love if you have a large garden like I did this last year. ( I haven’t researched garden hose filters that may be available. They may be out there! I will keep you updated!)
6. Until you grow some food of your own, read all labels of food and buy only organic, Non-GMO certified, as minimally processed, as able. Eat fresh fruit and veggies, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. You will note that these foods actually taste better and you are satisfied with less, plus have fewer digestive issues to boot!!
Helpful links to reading labels:
7 Best Organic Insecticides for Your Garden in 2022 https://seedsandgrain.com/organic-insecticides
Natural Home Pesticides: Organic Garden Pest Control
All of these things take time and self-education. That is why this blog is being posted before we get close to Spring.
Use this Winter Season to really understand what it going on with your health,...plus, your food and your home, then make some realistic goals to turn this downward spiral around.
Plan now to make changes in your Spring yard care…and start making wiser choices by taking your reading glasses shopping with you to read all the fine print on the labels. Do not just look at the pretty picture and big letters on the front that are advertising how healthy their product is...READ THE ACTUAL INGREDIENTS LIST! The manufacturers have not made it easy to read all the fine print for a reason!
This “Sautee it, Don’t Spray It!” Blog series will be continuing, so check out my site regularly as I expand further on each recommendation listed above. This will include other tips, resources and recipes to use your nutritious ‘weeds’ in, plus links to great information!
Best Wishes in Health!
Karen A. Shupp, PT, Biologist, Modern Day Medicine Woman