Congratulations Clean Water Portland!

224785_411306975599082_1146576897_aPortland Oregon has voted against fluoridating their water. I didn’t use to think the small amount of fluoride in water mattered until I read information on the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) site, and heard expert testimony by leading scientists and medical professionals. I don’t consider myself a social activist, as the only picket I’ve held is a spot of fence. But what I read on the FAN website concerned me enough to contact my elected representatives here in Minnesota. For example, I didn’t know that a Center for Disease Control study showed that 41% of kids in the US have fluorosis, up from 10% in the 1950s.

I encourage everyone to watch FAN’s “10 Facts” video. I won’t expound on them here, but it does apply to our food supply. I was very surprised to learn that Americans are likely taking in harmful levels of fluoride through diet and medicines. This includes public water, products made with public water, and products made with pesticides that are made with fluoride, not to mention many medicines such as Cipro listed by the Fluoride Toxicity Research Collaborative.

The public water issue made me see my garden differently. In addition to saving the good bugs in my compost from the chloramines, I should be concerned with fluoride from public water accumulating in our garden soil and then potentially being taken up in our edibles. Some plants apparently take up more fluoride than others as noted from a federal source here and the Fluoridealert list here. But, I wonder if the federal list used an average of levels taken up by plants in different types of soil? We know organic vegetables can take up more natural minerals if the soil they are grown in is rich in those minerals, so perhaps it’s the same with fluoride. And, if I am using amendments to the soil, such as bone meal, it could contribute high levels of fluoride if the animal source had digested fluoride through diet and water.

So, just when this started to feel a little overwhelming, I started thinking through solutions for our garden. These are some ideas to curb fluoride in our home-grown produce:

1. Rain barrels. I refuse to use roof water on edibles given a research study I’d seen on contaminants from shingles and animal waste. But avoiding fluoridated water in the garden motivated me to get some barrels -and devices to help funnel water into them.

2. Mulch. I’m determined to mulch a lot more. Less weeds, less water used. Win win.

3. Melting snow for seedlings. Last year I started seeds earlier, and we used tap water all the way until transplanting. This year I collected snow in food grade buckets and melted it for use on transplants indoors. The extra melted snow will go in the barrels or be used for houseplants. And yes, we do still have a little melted snow in pails left!

4. Look for fluoride free soil amendments. If a bone meal product worries me, I’ll dip into the crushed eggshell stash. Also, beware of compost with unknown toxins such as was uncovered here by Fluoride Free Austin: http://blog.fluoridefreeaustin.com/2010/02/03/wwwwwwww.aspx

5. Read labels of organic pesticides to make sure they do not have fluoride based ingredients, as some have been listed as acceptable meeting federal standards for organic produce: http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/flouride.cfm

6. Celebrate our grapevine that gets attacked by Japanese Beetles every year, and consider Neem.

This was a late start to blogging- nearly a month late for me. However, because spring started about a month late I didn’t feel I needed to rush. Thank you for visiting.

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