Author Archives: Dan

Joel Salatin On The Essence Of Chicken

Joel Salatin goes beyond organic in his farming practices. I’ve read articles about him in the Mother Earth News. I’ve seen him appear in documentaries such as Food Inc. I recently viewed this recording of a talk he gave at TED. I found it inspiring. It shows that he is not only good at farming, he is also good at marketing his product.


The cheapest eggs available may not be the healthiest. Do you really want to buy eggs from factory farms that stack chicken manure 8 feet tall (source)?

Seek out farm fresh eggs from a farmer’s market or road side stand. They may cost more per dozen but they are an excellent value for the money.

Three Noteworthy Home Education Posts

I would like to draw your attention to a few articles that I’ve been reading recently.

1. How To Draw Comments by Home School Dad

Picture of a troll under a bridge.

Trolls should stay under the bridge where they belong. Photo credit: photogirl7.1

The first post caught my attention with its unique title: Six Simple rules on How to get 50 or more comments on your post about home education. The more I thought about this post the more it reminded me of the phenemenon of the troll. My first experiences with trolls came back in the days of usenet.

As the old saying goes the more things change the more they stay the same. Trolls are sure to adapt to new platforms. Home School Dad provided and interesting post mortem on some misguided critics. Unfortunately, by giving them more attention, it broke the first rule of dealing with trolls:

Don’t Feed The Troll

2. Bent Leather From Sage Parnassus

This post from Sage Parnassus about being well read has an intriguing title as well: Bent Leather, Part 1. You’ll have to read the post to find out what bent leather refers to. Be sure to check out the follow up post as well: Bent Leather, Part 2.

3. John Taylor Gatto On Socialization From Parent At The Helm

Finally, Parent At The Helm posts an answer from John Taylor Gatto about socialization. John Taylor Gatto has been an inspiration. He demonstrates his skill as a writer in his response. Of course, socialization is a topic that comes up frequently in discussions about home education.

To Spray Or Not To Spray

Picture of a well manicured lawn.

This kind of professional grooming requires a lot of time and engergy. Photo credit: AdamKR

Imagine moving into your first house as a new home owner. The subject of lawn care comes up in one of your early conversations. The neighbor informs you that “your yard” is a mess due to the previous owner’s lax standards.

He then goes onto tell you in painstaking detail about how he started his lawn from sod of the finest Kentucky blue grass. He gleefully informs you about the service providers he employees to care for his lawn. One person to spray chemicals to kill weeds. Another person to mow his lawn once with the bagger off and a second time with the bagger on.

I found myself in this exact situation. As you might imagine, I take a much different approach to taking care of my lawn. I see it as a chore and my views are more in line with Paul Wheaton’s approach to lawn care.

Not Watering The Lawn Conserves Water

I never water my grass because I view it as a waste of water. Watering also makes the grass grow faster requiring more mowing. I take advantage of the mature trees on my property to provide shade and keep the lawn from burning.

Forage For Pollinators

Picture of clover in a lawn.

Opting out of herbicide encourages flowers in a lawn. Photo credit: woodleywonderworks

I enjoy seeing honey bees and other native pollinators visiting flowers such as dandelions that others consider weeds in my yard. Reduced variety of forage will have a negative impact on honey bee colony health.

When I had to reseed a section of my yard, I used a mix that included clover. The clover will attract rabbits and other wildlife. I have also found more than one four leaf clover in my yard.

Herbicides Introduce Toxic Chemicals Into The Environment

Have you ever gone to the garden section of a retailer during the spring and noticed that chemical smell in the air? That smell is coming from the off gassing of the bags of lawn chemicals being offered for sale. The smell is a warning sign that the chemicals are placing a heavy load on your liver in order to deal with the toxicity.

Have you ever noticed the sign on someone’s lawn after it has been hosed down with toxic chemicals warning you to stay off the lawn? I don’t think the aesthetic benefits of using herbicides on a lawn outweigh the addition of chemicals into the environment.


Consider your lawn care practices carefully. What is the purpose of the actions you take? Are you simply caving to peer pressure from your neighbors? If you use chemicals on your lawn, do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Why not opt out of spraying dangerous chemicals in your own back yard?

How I Lost Ten Pounds by Eliminating One Chemical From My Diet

Photo of cola

Cola Contains Large Amounts Of High Fructose Corn Syrup Photo Credit: carterse

I was using a dangerous chemical two times a day almost every day for years. My body was starting to show the effects. It seemed that I was regularly having to buy new pants with ever increasing waist bands to accommodate my expanding belly.

The chemical was and is being produced in large quantities in factories across the U.S. The purveyors make high profit margins selling the substance. The name of this chemical compound is high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS for short. I was ingesting it in the form of soda pop.

As I learned more about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, I decided I had to break my habit. I gradually began to drink unsweetened beverages with my meals. I found it hard to quit cold turkey. Slowly but surely, I reduced my intake. After a few weeks, I no longer felt an urge to drink sweetened cola, but chose water or iced tea instead.

By eliminating these empty calories from my diet, I noticed a reversal in the trend line of my weight. I gradually lost ten pounds and my waist line stabilized. As I found out, there are other very good reasons to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet.

These reasons have to do with the fact that despite marketing claims to the contrary, high fructose corn syrup is not like sugar. It is not natural. It occurs at a much lower concentration in natural foods such as fruits.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Metabolized by the Liver

“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Dr. Field, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.” source

The marketer’s claims do not stand up to scrutiny. High fructose corn syrup is different. It attacks your liver.

To make matters worse, when combined with copper deficiency, the ingestion of high fructose corn syrup can lead to infertility.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Made From Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

There have not been sufficient long term studies to prove the safety of GMO crops. It is prudent to avoid GMO food and reduce the amount consumed where possible. Corn is one of the most widely genetically modified crops being grown today. When you ingest HFCS, you are also consuming GMOs.


High fructose corn syrup can lead to excessive weight gain, damage your liver, lead to infertility and introduce the risks of eating GMO food. It is best to avoid it by eliminating it from your diet. Incorporating liver into your diet can boost your copper levels thereby increasing your fertility.

Do you think high fructose corn syrup is the same as any other sugar? Or do you take steps to avoid it? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

The Misunderstood Metal That Can Help You Leave a Lasting Legacy

Gold is a commodity just like any other commodity.

Picture of a proof American Gold Eagle.

The American Gold Eagle is the most popular gold coin in the US.

If you’ve ever talked to a retail level financial advisor that was recommending stocks or mutual funds you’ve probably heard this exact position on gold. There is a mountain of mainstream media propaganda that reinforces this position as it attempts to convince you to tie up all your assets in tax deferred retirement accounts. I’ve read a lot of it myself.

Gold is money and nothing else. -JP Morgan source.

If you’ve ever seriously considered gold as an investment you’ve probably come across this quote from a famous banker. Many advocates of gold say similar things. Yet we know gold is not money. We no longer buy groceries or cars with gold coins.

The truth is that gold is not like any other commodity. Gary North’s recent article explains some of the misstatements surrounding gold made by those interested in trading US dollars for gold.

Gold Has An Almost Permanent Durability

Gold stands the test of time. It doesn’t rust and it doesn’t deteriorate. Coins found at the bottom of the ocean submerged for hundreds of years are just as marketable as recently mined gold.

Is there any other tangible good or commodity that can be stored indefinitely? What if you wanted to purchase a year’s supply of gasoline at today’s prices? How would you store it?

Gold Has A Long History Of Value

Have you ever heard that a thing is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it? North explains this in economic terms by stating that people impute value to an object. People have valued gold for thousands of years. A two thousand year old one ounce gold coin could be traded for roughly $1400 worth of goods and services today. What other physical object could last that long and still be used to purchase goods and services? Gold is something that could be passed on to future generations.

Action Plan

Whether you already own gold or have never considered it as an investment, read North’s article. If you are curious, find a local coin shop and go in to see what a 1/10th ounce Gold American Eagle looks like. You could also feel the weight of a 1 ounce Gold American Eagle while you are there.

Do you think gold is a barbarous relic or a valuable commodity? Let me know in the comments section.

How Large Corporations Are Damaging Our Food Supply

Picture of a freshly tilled farm filed in the spring.

Corporations are harming modern agriculture. Photo Credit: Evgeni Dinev

Imagine farming for your whole life. Each year planting a crop and saving seed to sow next year. Eventually developing a valuable local variety adapted to your local climate. Then one day a large multinational corporation sues you for infringing on their patent even though you have never used their products. To make matters worse the supreme court in your country finds in favor of the large corporation. This is exactly what happened to Percy Schmeiser.

Corporations Patent Life

How did this situation come about? The story is explained in the documentary film, The Corporation. Initially the U.S. patent office rejected attempts to patent life. Eventually corporations were granted the ability to patent living organisms paving the way for GMOs. The patents granted to Monsanto led to Schmeiser’s predicament.

You see, despite the corporation’s best efforts to control nature, ultimately nature takes its course. Many plants are open pollinated via the wind. Thus patented genes end up in a farmer’s field even though he has never used GMO seed.

Toxic Build Up

One of the most prevalent uses of GMO crops is to create herbicide resistance. This enables a farmer to broadcast spray a crop with an herbicide. The herbicide kills weeds and the herbicide resistant crop continues to grow. The spraying encourages the growth of herbicide resistant super weeds. The existence of these weeds leads to more spraying. Meanwhile the crop takes up the herbicide as it grows. If the crop is fed to livestock, the livestock accumulate the herbicide in their tissue. When the meat from these animals is consumed by people, they get a dose of chemical toxins included with their meal.

Terminator Gene

Picture of made scientist injecting a plant.

Mad scientists are creating frankenfood.

The Corporation also touches on the development of “terminator genes.” When a farmer contracts with a chemical company to use their GMO seeds he is forbidden to save his own seed. New seed must be purchased every year. Companies like Monsanto hire teams of investigators and lawyers to go after farmers suspected of saving their own seed.

Unfortunately, threatening their customers with lawsuits isn’t a good enough solution. Corporations have developed “terminator genes” that destroy the ability of the second generation of a crop to reproduce itself. This technological solution prevents farmers from saving seed. What could go wrong with such a scheme?

If terminator genes are released into the biosphere they could cross pollinate with existing crops leading to the eventual destruction of the crop.


It is best to avoid toxic foods by opting out of the industrial food supply. Don’t buy processed foods made with corn or high fructose corn syrup because they are tainted with GMO corn. Consider growing a portion of your own food. Shop at farmer’s markets where you can shake the hand of the person that grew the food.

Do you think GMOs are a problem? If you take action to avoid GMOs in the food you consume, please tell me about it in the comments section.

Wish You Could Interview John Saxon?

John Saxon created one of the most popular math curricula used by home schools. He is no longer with us today. However, Art Robinson did interview the author of the Saxon Math curriculum. He makes the recording available on his website for us to listen to.

In a home school, the curriculum can be chosen based solely on the results it is expected to produce. These results can best be predicted based on past results. John Saxon comes across as a results oriented individual. We can make data driven decisions about how to transmit math knowledge to our students.

I discovered this interview while researching curriculum. It provided worthwhile background on Saxon Math from the man who created it. The fundamentals of math have not changed much since Newton invented calculus and that there is no reason to buy brand new books if old ones in good condition can be found.

I’d love to hear your comments if you have time to listen to the interview. What math curriculum do you choose and why?