A Box Full of Kids
If you read this blog regularly you know we have been struggling with a kid who couldn't stand when she was born. She is the black and white one on the right. Her name is Patty. It took us some time (and some suggestions from a few helpful readers) to pin down the problem. She had White Muscle Disease. That's a vitamin E/selenium deficiency. She seems to be doing pretty well now, but her sister (who appeared strong when she was born) died today. Her heart just stopped. (That is another effect of selenium/vitamin E deficiency.) As I looked more closely at the whole herd it became apparent that everyone was suffering some of the effects of this deficiency. I've dosed everyone up with cod liver oil, extra kelp meal, and a selenium rich mineral supplement. Should solve the problem for the goats.
So, you are probably wondering what this has to do with Real Food and the Real Food Challenge. Well, here are my thoughts for the day. What I discovered was the deficiency in my goats came from their feed. They have been on hay for a couple of months now, and confined to the barn for about a month (the snow is so deep there is nothing for them to nibble on and no reason for them to go out to pasture. It would be pointless for them and more work for me.) The 'organic' hay I bought this year is from a new source. They are new to the organic game, and their fields have just 'transitioned'. Before they changed the fields had been farmed traditionally. In researching White Muscle Disease and ways to deal with it I found that selenium was depressed in plants grown on soils with low pH and on soils subjected to chemical fertilizers. It had not been a problem in the US until after the wide spread use of chemical fertilizers began. Vitamin E deteriorates in plants that are stored for long periods of time. This year we used first cut hay from a farm where the fields had just recently switched to 'organic' practices. The food caused the problem.
These kinds of studies are readily available for animals and animal feed. BUT, no one talks about it in relation to human food and human health.
Today has made me rethink this challenge and what I'm doing. I'm a farmer. My business is food. Producing fresh, nutrient dense, balanced food for my family and my community is my responsibility. That's an idea I intend to explore more this month. The how and the why of Real Food.