A Chicken Named Dog

Adventures with a Flock Family

Month: March 2016

The Value of Maggots: Eating Dead Skin Is Good For Us

I will admit that maggots have a gross factor that even I am not immune to, having in fact had maggots crawling all over my arms and hands at one point made me nauseous for a solid week. We had found that our little hen, Lucky, had sustained an injury at some point, and within a few days, her wound was crawling with maggots.We don’t know how Lucky had gotten injured, and we had been out of town for a day or two, but Lucky has a way of finding the tiniest spaces, the most efficient means of escaping, and sometimes she has gotten hurt.  Lucky had an infection, and I feared the maggots were only a sign of fatality, that surely my little hen couldn’t survive this assault.

We called our vet who, thankfully, had a vet on staff who didn’t know the most humane way to euthanize a chicken with that level of injury, and I decided that if Lucky wanted to fight, I would do my level best to help her. My daughter and I brought her home wrapped in a towel, maggots and all, and I decided the first thing to do was to bathe Lucky. Into the washtub we placed the bird and began to rinse the area with saline. At the first rinse, maggots swarmed out of Lucky’s wound and onto my hands. They begged to escape by crawling my arms, my hands, and trying to make their way into my sleeves.

I had no dead skin on me, so there was no food source for them, but feeling maggots crawling everywhere certainly was a unique scientific experience that I had never before experienced. I was thinking maggots=death.  Poor little Lucky. We would hold her, keep her at the house, which she actually dearly loves, and let her ease down peacefully. Lucky had no ideas of peace about her and began to fight my cleaning ministrations. I had no hands free to get the maggots off myself, and tried to just keep rinsing and silent. Added emotional drama didn’t seem to be helpful, so I focused on trying to determine the life cycle of the maggots rinsing down the drain and into my arms, young maggots and old maggots. Lucky had had the injury for a few days.

When I cleaned Lucky off, I found that she had sustained a puncture injury, perhaps from a rooster’s mating attempt, perhaps from jumping off her perch, or from some means I hadn’t imagined. Her puncture injury was right near the cloaca, and egg-laying must have been extraordinarily painful. My first response was to place Lucky in lowered light levels to stop her from laying, signaling to her body that it needed to rest. I turned down the lights, continued rinsing, and when I had finished flushing the wound with sterile saline to remove all the dirt (when injured, chickens will dust bathe, which does serve a purpose, but that is another story about Brownie, who dust bathed and stopped  hemorrhage).

I applied antibiotic ointment. Lucky hated it. She kept trying to straighten her feathers, and she didn’t like the way the oils stuck to them. I rinsed the maggots down the drain. And, put Lucky in the dog crate we keep for purposes like this, with water mixed with a good amount of yarrow and sage (both help stop bleeding and “weeping” or moist infections) and a little oxytetracycline, but only a small amount of the antibiotic. Lucky, as with most of our birds, hates drinking water with any additive except herbs. She will avoid any medicated water, waiting until she gets fresh water to drink anything. Since she was already stressed, I merely put herbs in her water, turned down the lights, told her we loved her, petted her gently, made her a soft nest and headed out of the room. Lucky turned away from us unhappily in the darkness and proceeded to try to groom the ointment out of her feathers. It’s always a good sign when a bird grooms themselves, because it shows that they are well enough to try to order their feathers and keep themselves clean, much like when you know you have recovered from the flu when you want to brush your hair and shower finally.

I woke up the next morning trying to steel myself for the inevitable silence I felt for sure would greet me. I told myself that we did the best we could, we had loved her, we had cared for her, we must let her go if it was her time. I came downstairs and I heard pecking, and an inquisitive chirp that Lucky does so well when she is curious. Lucky was up and eating and drinking. Her breathing was still relatively rapid, a sign of stress, and her surrounding infected area was still very warm and read to the touch. The puncture wound in the light of the day was sobering. It was the size of an egg, perhaps that area having been stretched by egg laying, had blackened tissue around the edges, and there was a deep, deep scab that seemed to hang heavily from her delicate skin near the cloaca. It looked painful. Maggots were still crawling, but not as plentiful.

I was disturbed by the blackness, the dead skin, and I flashed back to debridment of wounds, how to care for burns and deep wounds, which to the uninitiated, means scraping off the dead tissue to release live tissue underneath to prevent the infection from festering. Inevitably this is painful because by scraping off dead tissue, the live tissue underneath gets pulled off in the process. I had no idea how to do this with such a deep wound and no desire to inflict that on my precious little hen. Then I thought of the maggots. The night before the maggots had been plentiful, but there hadn’t been so much dead tissue, and the fact of the matter was, the maggots had been cleaning the wound of dead skin, probably painlessly because Lucky didn’t pick the maggots off and eat them the way most chickens grab worms. She left them in place for a reason, and looking at that blackened skin, I vowed to do the same. I could not find a way to remove the dead skin to let the wound drain more effectively than the maggots had.

Lest you think this is a crazy idea, maggots have been used in medical settings to remove dead skin. Maggots actually help a wound heal, and it works in people, is considered a valid medical treatment for infected wounds. Science Daily just covered scientifically “improved” maggots bred for wound debridement:

Sterile, lab-raised green bottle fly larvae are used for maggot debridement therapy (MDT), in which maggots are applied to non-healing wounds, especially diabetic foot ulcers, to promote healing. Maggots clean the wound, remove dead tissue and secrete anti-microbial factors. The treatment is cost-effective and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, there is no evidence from randomized clinical trials that MDT shortens wound healing times.

With the goal of making a strain of maggots with enhanced wound-healing activity, NC State researchers genetically engineered maggots to produce and then secrete human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), which is known to aid the healing process by stimulating cell growth and survival.

What?? Maggots help us? Nature created something crawly that serves a purpose? It sure did for Lucky. I let the smaller maggots continue to clean the wound, and by that evening, the black tissue around the wound was gone, Lucky was moving more, and the scab started to show signs of loosening around the edges. I continued with the herbs in the water, provided fresh greens, lowered light to stop her laying, and provided small items of interest for her to dig out of her food dish, sunflower seeds, lettuce leaves, a piece of bread (which she didn’t really eat but dearly loved to shred), and Lucky continued to recover. I also continued to give her small doses of antibiotics in her water, and I changed it three times a day, added a separate container of electrolytes, and within a few days, the wound was healing and the maggots were gone. I didn’t kill them. I don’t know where they went.

We brought Lucky back to the garden for a few hours everyday, and at one point when I picked her up, the scab on her loosened at the edge a yellowish-lymph and pus-filled liquid ran from the wound and onto my hands. It was thin and had lots of clear fluid in the mix, and while I struggled to determine what industrial strength cleaner I would need to wash my hands, I did compress the area a bit more, and the wound drained on it’s own. Within a day or two after that, the big scab fell off completely, and there was only healthy pink tissue showing.

A large, pink organ showed beneath the skin, and when I looked it up in Nature, I found that a chicken has an immune organ called a bursa, and this swells when a chicken fights infection. Turns out that scientists have been studying chicken immune systems for the last 60 years to determine where cancers in humans originate, and the bursa in chickens is similar to our bone marrow producing immune cells (think of human dysfunction with this as it manifests in leukemia–fascinating research on the ways animals inform our understanding of ourselves, if you wan to read it).

As Lucky continued to heal, the swelling in her bursa went down, the infection never resurfaced, and within two weeks, after that Lucky’s wound healed over completely. It seemed as if magic was visited upon us, and everyday I went to the garden and rejoiced in Lucky’s persistent attempts to escape her pen to chase off the other hens from her favorite digging place.

Maggots. Who would have believed that maggots could be so healing? Who would have believed that maggots can do what modern medicine cannot, clean a wound of dead tissue so easily and capably that a seemingly fatal wound and infection heal without a trace. We live in an amazing world. I had stumbled on what battlefield surgeons noticed years ago: maggots help heal wounds and clear infections.

Maggots are efficient consumers of dead tissue. They munch on rotting flesh, leaving healthy tissue practically unscathed. Physicians in Napoleon’s army used the larvae to clean wounds. In World War I, American surgeon William Baer noticed that soldiers with maggot-infested gashes didn’t have the expected infection or swelling seen in other patients. The rise of penicillin in the 1940s made clinical maggots less useful, but they bounced back in the 1990s when antibiotic-resistant bacteria created a new demand for alternative treatments. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved maggot therapy as a prescription treatment.

Although anecdotal reports suggested that maggots curb inflammation, no one had scientifically tested the idea. So a team led by surgical resident Gwendolyn Cazander of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands siphoned samples of maggot secretions from disinfected maggots in the lab and added them to donated blood samples from four healthy adults. The researchers then measured the levels of so-called complement proteins, which are involved in the body’s inflammatory response.

Every blood sample treated with maggot secretions showed lower levels of complement proteins than did control samples—99.9% less in the best case, the team reports in the current issue of Wound Repair and Regeneration. Looking closer, the researchers found the broken-down remnants of two complement proteins—C3 and C4—in the secretion-treated samples, suggesting that the secretions had ripped the proteins apart. When the team tested blood samples from postoperative patients, whose wounded bodies were already scrambling to heal, they found that maggot secretions reduced the levels of complement proteins by 19% to 55%.

School Gardens: SocioEconomic Equality And Play

When people talk about school gardens, they often look for metrics, metrics that they hope will “prove” that having gardens at school causally increases grades.  In a testing-centered curriculum, metrics of increased test scores are the gold standard for implementing an educational program. Do school gardens improve test scores? The short answer is : yes. The National Science Teacher’s Association found that students scored significantly higher on test scores when they were part of a school garden program, regardless of gender or other social factors.

If school gardens help raise test scores for students, and test scores are used to measure educational progress, why doesn’t every school have a school garden? Or more than one garden?

That question is tough to answer, and emerging social dynamics in the field of educational resources and funding seem to play a role. In short, though, the presence of school gardens and their included curriculum might be more of a signifier of socioeconomic factors and school district functionality rather than test scores or funding.

One columnist writing about school gardens in 2010 claims that because gardening is experimental, it’s not appropriate for schools:

The need for better research on the impact of garden-based learning is at the heart of criticism of the movement. In a scathing article in The Atlantic in 2010, Caitlin Flanagan described the trend as “a giant experiment, one that is predicated on a set of assumptions that are largely unproved, even unexamined.”

“That no one is calling foul on this is only one manifestation of the way the new Food Hysteria has come to dominate and diminish our shared cultural life,” Flanagan contended.

Aside from the fact that laboratories and experiments are generally considered a part of schooling and a normal facet of human exploration, critics of the school gardening movement miss the point if they are looking solely to see if having a garden at a school raises grades.  Why is it so unimportant for children to taste good, fresh food at school? Why would experimentation with growing be suddenly considered a form of non-academia? The columnist goes on to comment that it’s teacher work-load that prevents teachers from actively providing lessons outdoors that relate to mandated curricula.

Another challenge that skeptics point to is that teachers are already so overwhelmed with demands on their time — thanks to a number of factors, including standardized testing and educational standards outlined by Common Core and Next Generation — that it becomes difficult to implement garden-based learning in a meaningful way.

Meaningful way? Gardening must be meaningful from a math perspective, or it’s not useful? If there is no science lesson accompanying the garden space, then the garden space is useless? That’s like saying that all children live in a vacuum and have no interaction or knowledge of their natural world unless their teacher tells them what they can look for.  Children are natural observers, and teachers don’t necessarily have to work to make a math lesson out of gardening–it comes, well, naturally.

How much soil do we need to buy to fill a raised bed with dirt? (If you buy soil as opposed to making it with compost, as some schools do with lunchroom waste.) Perimeter is the amount of fencing needed. Surface area is the planting surface, and cubic feet is the manner in which soil is measured and sold in bags in stores. Math application in “real life” is not difficult, and, in fact, many people are searching for that link between their instruction and life’s applications. (I am reminded of my mother-in-law who said that maybe if she had ever learned that “solving for x” meant telling her how much interest she could earn with savings or pay when taking out a loan, she might have paid more attention in math class. She never knew it applied to her life.) I have also taught children how to measure angles to figure out the length of wood needed to build small nesting boxes, basic geometry, and how to figure out how much produce their garden bed produced over a season based on space.

Trying to equate gardening in schools with increased test scores is a symptom of low socioeconomic educational systems who must struggle for test scores to the exclusion of all else, and then the inevitable conclusion is that if students are low performing, they don’t deserve time for something enjoyable or non-test related. School gardens, then, are the economic equalizer.

Even if school gardens provide only a place for unstructured play, students in low performing schools deserve to have a safe place to enjoy unstructured play as a necessary right of human development. Unstructured play is so important that even the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a public service announcement stating that unstructured play is necessary for children.  Failure to provide school gardens could, in that sense, then be considered a form of economic discrimination against low-performing and underfunded students, which are predominantly minority.

When we expound on the benefits of recess, and there are many (as backed most recently by a Stanford study, among many), why not include gardening ? Recess is not an academic subject but has been found to be important to students, so why assume that unless there is a direct academic course built around school gardens that students won’t benefit?

Realistically, school gardens, with a focus on exploration, experimentation and growing have the capacity to increase green space and safe spaces at schools. Green spaces are important to we humans, as we are animals, too. Green spaces convey a sense of value, of quality, and demonstrate pride in an environment, all elements that would certainly benefit schools. Studies of green spaces have been directly tied to economic benefits, much like the push try to equate school gardens with increased test scores, but the research is compelling:

Views of plants increase job satisfaction. Employees with an outside view of plants experience less job pressure and greater job satisfaction than workers viewing man-made objects or having no outside view. They also report fewer headaches and other ailments than workers without the view.11

Nature increases worker productivity. Psychologists have found that access to plants and green spaces provides a sense of rest and allows workers to be more productive.12

Landscaping renews business districts. Greening of business districts increases community pride and positive perception of an area, drawing customers to the businesses.13

Quality landscaping means quality goods. A recent study found that consumers would be willing to pay, on average, a 12% premium for goods purchased in retail establishments that are accompanied by quality landscaping.14

Why would these benefits not extend to schools and work ethics, pride, and quality?Simply put, there is a fear that if the gardens don’t raise test scores for low-performing students that the students don’t deserve to have anything else, and it’s a pervasive assignment for low-performing schools, usually in under privileged areas.

It’s not that school gardens have no impact on academics–they do, and in positive ways.

Some studies that have taken a closer look at the direct academic impact of school gardens have also had encouraging results. In 2013, Dilafruz Williams and P. Scott Dixon conducted a comprehensive review of 20 years of literature on programs of this nature. Of 22 studies included in the review, 93 percent reported improved student performance in science, 80 percent saw improvement in math and 72 percent noted improvement in language arts. Williams and Dixon’s analysis also noted, however, that more rigorous research on the topic would be beneficial.

It’s just that providing fresh food and unstructured play are human rights for children, not just an academic experiment, and school gardens can provide both. Gardening is rewarding for children, in any capacity, and the students who most need a safe place to play and experiment are often minorities and might only have that ability at school.

We are Nature’s creatures, after all. We can’t exist without Nature. In fact, recent studies have determined that children’s rates of vision problems are increasing because children don’t get access to enough sunlight. Our indoor lifestyle is literally causing our children to be nearsighted.  So when does the discussion move from “rewarding” our children with Nature  to recognizing that things like school gardens are a necessary form of an economic equalizer for our most precarious students and all students?



Salmonella In Eggs And Laying Hens: Should We Be Worried About Our Flocks?

I have family members that won’t eat the eggs from our backyard flocks. They say they don’t know how “clean” the eggs are, to which I might respond that all eggs come from a chicken’s butt, and I guess concepts of cleanliness thereafter can be debated. But the real fear when people mention “clean” is salmonella in family flocks, the concept that all eggs are infected with salmonella if they aren’t “clean” enough from home producers, as opposed to factory-farmed eggs, which most consumers assume are safer because of regulations.

While I never give our eggs to family members who won’t eat them, I do think it’s important to offer some education to people who believe that factory-farmed eggs are free from bacteria or “safer.”

  1. When chickens have a salmonella infection that would infect eggs, the chickens display clinical signs that are very noticeable: a blue comb or wattle (blue being a sign of decreased oxygen intake, much less blue lips in a person), watery diarrhea, lack of appetite, and finally, a reluctance to move. As as a chicken keeper whose birds rush the food dish every morning, whose combs are unmistakably red, and whose poop I have to clean off the perches everyday, I would not miss the symptoms of salmonella. Normal chicken droppings are easy to recognize and variations are an instant indicator if something is amiss. It’s easy to see when chickens are healthy, because they are normally energetic animals, interested in their surroundings, quick to investigate new food (no matter that they have seen it before), and quite interactive. A sick hen is instantly visible, and most family flock keepers would be terribly distressed when their bird doesn’t come running to them or eat from a food scoop. It’s not an infection that is easily missed. Family flock keepers most likely know their birds well enough to be able to separate, medicate and toss any eggs in the case that their bird could become sick.
  2. By comparison, the last large factory outbreak of salmonella occurred in a factory farm in Iowa that had multiple previous safety violations, and by 2010, the salmonella outbreak was just one of many by the same food manufacturer.
  3. There are no regulations for how long a factory farm can keep eggs before placing them in a carton to sell in a store, and there are no regulations for egg expiration dates set by the FDA. Eggs from the grocery store are just as much, if not more so, a case of buyer beware, because consumers have no way of knowing how old the eggs in a store really are.
  4. One blogger, a food and recipe tester for Slate, wrote about the chances of getting salmonella from an egg, and the stats are nothing to be worried about: “Still, speaking personally, the statistics haven’t scared me off unpasteurized eggs for good. If I continued consuming batter and dough containing about two raw eggs per month, I would likely encounter only one SE-contaminated egg over the course of 833 years. And if I remain generally healthy, I might not even get sick from that SE-contaminated egg. Of course, by the time I’m 860, my immune system will probably be weak enough that I’ll want to avoid unpasteurized eggs. In the meantime, though, I’ll take my chances on that cake batter.”
  5. Americans are some of the only people in the world who store their eggs in the fridge, and most experts suggest that this is because American eggs are essentially dirtier. The British are famous for not storing their eggs in the fridge, believing they have better salmonella-control procedures in place for their eggs than Americans, and consequently, the British store their eggs at room temperature. In fact British regulations prohibit storing eggs in the fridge before sale to consumers: “A fresh, free-range egg should last beautifully at room temperature for at least a week,” said Tim Hayward, presenter of the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 and restaurant columnist for the Financial Times. “The racks in the fridge door are the worst place to store eggs. The constant shaking thins the whites and the flavours of other foods can penetrate the shell.”Warm eggers stand their ground on the basis that supermarkets in continental Europe store their eggs at room temperature and not the fridge. In Europe, eggs are often sitting on an unrefrigerated shelf near the baking supplies. Eggs “should in general not be refrigerated before sale to the final consumer,” according to European Union (EU) law, Forbes reports. “Cold eggs left out at room temperature may become covered in condensation facilitating the growth of bacteria on the shell and probably their ingression into the egg,” reads the EU regulations.”
  6. Lab test results provided by the same labs that advise the U.K. food and drink industry tested room temperature eggs vs. refrigerated eggs, and the results showed unrefrigerated eggs, if fresh, were completely safe to eat. In fact, they harbored no more bacteria than refrigerated eggs:”One egg batch was kept at room temperature, generally between 68°F and 77°F, and the other was kept at typical fridge temperature at approximately 43°F. These samples were continuously tested for bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.The results of the study showed that both batches of eggs were equally bacteria-free from the initial start of the study all the way to the end of the study — a span of two weeks. “There is no advantage in keeping the eggs refrigerated as opposed to storing them at ambient room temperature,” said Jay Tolley, the operations and quality manager at FoodTest.”
  7. Hens in factory farmed egg manufacturing plants are generally so mistreated that it’s no surprise that they would be sick: “By the time they are sent to slaughter, roughly 29 percent of the hens are suffering from broken bones resulting from neglect and rough treatment. Their emaciated bodies are so damaged that their flesh can generally be used only for chicken noodle soup, companion animal food, or “canned, boned, and diced” meat, much of which goes to the National School Lunch Program.”

The bottom line is, eggs are safe to keep at room temperature for at least two weeks, if you have healthy hens. If your hens have salmonella, you would have very definite clinical signs, such as no egg production, lack of appetite, and lack of movement, not tough to miss.

The real test for us, as far as bacteria loads in eggs, has come from hatching. When eggs are hatched, they remain warm, moist, and well, incubated, conditions making bacterial growth ripe for explosion. In all the eggs we have hatched, we have had only one egg be contaminated with bacteria, years ago and that was after three weeks in the incubator, with lots of handling, when I found a crack in the shell. There had been no embryo development. That was one egg, with a cracked shell, three years ago, with the bacteria most likely entering through the crack as no other eggs in that same nest had any bacterial issues, having been incubated for three weeks in an incubator.

For us, the integrity of the shell is the most important means of protecting an egg from bacteria. I have had eggs that froze in the fridge, had a cracked shell, and then  have an off odor, but that is the extent of it. Our family did have an issue with eggs freezing this past winter, but it happened mainly in the fridge, when we set a bunch of eggs in the coldest part of the fridge, mistakenly believing that was the best place, and the eggs froze, shells cracked, and the texture of the yolks and whites changed. Note: maybe storing at room temperature would have been best, because accidentally freezing our eggs meant we had to throw out more than we could consume by thawing and putting in batters or doughs. Our family doesn’t really like the texture of frozen eggs.

That said, when the eggs froze, I had calls from both my brothers asking if the birds were sick. They were not, but I couldn’t figure out why they asked. Then I realized the eggs were frozen and the yolks and whites do not look the same when thawed. It’s possible that bacteria could have gotten into open egg shells from eggs sitting in the fridge, and while I am certain of the chickens’ health, I have had to recently toss produce that I had that was part of last recall for bagged salads containing Listeria recognized on January 31, 2016. The CDC notified us of that one, but since I had stored the eggs in the fridge with the possible Listeria-contaminated greens, I bleached everything nearby (not the eggs, but I did switch cartons). I did feel sick after eating the bagged salad. I found it ironic that people are in an uproar about eggs when it’s the salad making us sick.

For those of you who don’t care to read the whole post but wonder about the safety of eggs, bacteria, sell by dates and the like, eggs from healthy hens are fine to keep at room temperature for at least two weeks without growing bacteria (maybe longer, but the experiment only lasted two weeks). Hens that are ill enough to transmit high enough levels of bacteria in their eggs show clinical signs that would be tough to miss. If your birds are healthy and happy, eating and pooping normally, eggs have historically been safer to eat, even without refrigeration than salads.

How Old Are Eggs In The Grocery Store? NO Regulations On How Long Eggs Are Good

How old are the eggs? Are they safe to eat?

These eggs are two weeks old. Should we toss them?

Most grocery store eggs are about 30 days old from placement in a carton, not from laying. You can check for yourself. You may be eating eggs that are up to two months old, if you get them from the store. There is no regulation for eggs’ age until they are put into a carton for sale, and I couldn’t find any information from egg producers that stated how long eggs sat in a holding facility before they are placed in a carton. From carton placement, most eggs have a two-month expiration date, but there are no standards for how long a producer can wait before placing eggs in a carton.

There is no FDA regulation of “best by” dates for eggs. There is no FDA regulation of any egg expiration dates. The following quote is from the FDA itself on “use by” dates, and note that the information is entirely set by the manufacturer.

With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. FDA does not require food firms to place “expired by”, “use by” or “best before” dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.

In other words, there is no such thing as a date when eggs “go bad,” nor a standardized timeframe for how long eggs are “good.”

One of blogger writing on the subject of the age of edible eggs correctly points out that the FDA does not have a set standard for expiration dates. In other words, expiration dates are set by the manufacturer.

And it would seem this “Fresh Eggs Daily” page has a strong argument. After all, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all egg products are labeled with the following: product name, manufacturer’s name, official identification, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval number, ingredients statement, net
weight statement, and nutrition information. . Yet there is no rule regarding expiration dates.

Unfortunately, with the exception of baby formula, the FDA does not require food manufacturers to place “best before,” “expired by,” or “use by” dates on products—it’s solely up the individual company’s discretion. However, an expiration date could be required by individual states’ laws so you should definitely keep checking it.

Another voluntary label includes a number (1 through 365), marking which day of the year the eggs were placed in their carton. That being said, as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reports, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) clarifies that “you can still store fresh shell eggs in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond this date.”

Check your dates at your own local supermarket. Here is a diagram for the dates on which eggs are packaged. If you are still unsure how to tell how old your eggs are, there is a YouTube video below that has explained the whole process. The question of how long an egg remains safe to eat, just by “expiration” has never been answered.

Pesticides Increase Risk of Childhood Cancers: Why Choose Organic

I am often told, in my quest for organic chicken feed, that it is too expensive to be practical. There is always someone who says that they can find me feed for $8/bag, or that because it is vegetarian that it is the same as organic. Cost seems inextricably tied to practicality. Why would someone pay $30/bag for organic chicken feed? Is there a “reasonable” feed:egg conversion ratio? In other words, am I making money by selling my eggs for profit when I spend that much on chicken feed? I am, but perhaps not in the traditional cost model most people assign to farming. I pay for premium organic chicken feed because I am investing in the health of children, my child’s and the children who live on the farms that produce the chicken feed I buy.

Many people like to talk about “making a difference” with their spending habits, about how they would like to help support a children’s charity, how they donate money to childhood cancer research, or how they want to feed children who don’t have enough food. How about realizing that when we, as consumers, pay for farm products produced with pesticides, we could be contributing to childhood cancers in the children raised on those farms? It’s a tough truth to face, but increased pesticide and herbicide usage leads to more childhood cancers. When I am investing in premium organic chicken feed, which I swear my daughter bathes in as she scoops away for her birds, I am investing in my child’s health and in the health of the farmers’ children.

The study that found a link between indoor pesticide and a 47% INCREASE in childhood cancers didn’t focus on those chemicals being used out of doors, but isn’t introducing pesticides or herbicides into an enclosed chicken coop the equivalent of introducing those chemicals indoors, where our children play, feed their birds, and clean the dust, dirt and manure?

In the analysis, researchers looked at 16 studies examining the potential link between exposure to residential pesticides and childhood cancers. They found that children who had been exposed to indoor insecticides were 47 percent more likely to be diagnosed with childhood leukemia than those who had never been exposed. They were also 43 percent more likely to be diagnosed with childhood lymphoma.

“Remember that pesticides are designed and manufactured to kill organisms,” said study author Chensheng Lu, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Parents should avoid using these chemicals in the vicinity of their kids, and in places where the kids spend a lot of time, Lu told Live Science.

In the new analysis, the researchers looked at the children’s exposure to three types of pesticides: indoor insecticides, outdoor insecticides and herbicides. The largest of the studies included nearly 1,200 children with cancer.

The investigators also found that children who had been exposed to herbicides were also 26 percent more likely to be diagnosed with childhood leukemia than those who had never been exposed.

The environment in a chicken coop is even smaller than that inside of a house, and to me, a 47% increase in my child’s cancer risk isn’t worth the $20/bag difference in feed costs.

I raise chickens so my child can have organic eggs, eggs without antibiotics, to which she is deathly (literally) allergic, but isn’t it also important to note that we don’t need to take risks with pesticides if we know that there is almost a 50% increase in cancer risks for our children with their usage? To me, that “premium” organic feed is a bargain if it protects my child from known carcinogens. Suddenly, that bag of feed isn’t so expensive.

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