Sunday, March 27, 2011

Power Up Your Brain - The Neuroscience of Enlightmenment

Book Review
I just finished reading the book "Power Up Your Brain The Neuroscience of Enlightmenment" by David Perlmutter MD and Alberto Villoldo PhD. I had heard David Perlmutter speak at the NW Naturopathic Convention in Portland, Oregon about 8-10 years ago. He gave an amazing presentation on his treatment for Parkinson's disease. He was pioneering a new treatment method using  IV glutathione for Parkinson's patients. He was getting fantastic results and the videos of his patients coming in for their first visit in wheel chairs or with canes and walkers and then leaving without their wheelchair or without their cane or walker was amazing and he received a standing ovation at the end of his lecture. (The only standing ovation I had seen at a medical conference before.) When I heard him on the radio show "Coast to Coast AM" recently talking about his new book, I knew I had to read the book. I was hoping it would be as amazing as his lecture had been.  The book is basically a manual that teaches you to live and eat in a way to provide your brain with the optimal fuel necessary to send you forward on the evolutionary spiral into the age of enlightenment. David Perlmutter believes the careful feeding of our prefrontal cortex with nutrients that support its function is one of the keys to enlightenment. He says "When our brain functions synergistically, our prefrontal cortex is fully awakened and we have the ability to develop the very highest form of intelligence and creativity and remain grounded and effective in the world. We understand who we are in relationship to our village and our history. Able to think originally, we recongize what holds us back from achieving a higher level of consciousness and what will help us to attain it. We recognize how we can survive and thrive." 

David does not say that our brain is the seat of consciousness necessarily but he does say that our brain and the prefrontal cortex especially "allows us to entertain the ancient notion of a web of life in which all creatures, and even inanimate matter, are interconnected as a part of a field of information and energy." It is his belief that we need to nourish and support this part of our brain if we are enjoy this experience. 

While David examines the role of mitochondria, free radicals and antioxidants, Alberto examines soul retrieval, chakras and how consciousness creates the brain. They share many personal stories from their own individual lives as well as patient case histories throughout the book. Ultimately toward the end of the book they give you an idea of how you can use a variety of nutritional dietary additions, shamanic exercises and fasting to support your prefrontal cortex, enhance your overall state of health and lead you towards enlightenment. They give very easy to understand, and well organized directions to do this. 

The book is a good book to give to someone who is very analytical and scientific minded and does not have any spiritual practices. If they are interested in expanding their idea of what the universe consists of this is the book that will guide them on a new journey. For those of you who already meditate and use some if not all of the shamanic practices in the book, I think you will still find the information on how to support your process of enlightenment with fasting and nutritional changes/additions very useful. 

The only thing I would have liked to see added in this book was more of an emphasis on food and herbs  rather than nutrients and phytochemicals from herbs used as nutritional supplements. I realize many people may want or need the supplements but I like people to be given the choice of the life giving foods and herbs as a method to achieve real lasting health. Supplements are increasingly becoming a problem as manufacturers are using genetically modified products and other objectionable additions in the capsules and tablets that people are taking. In addition some of the supplements suggested are really expensive. 

Here are some things I would have added as part of the dietary suggestions if I had written the book. 
He suggests taking DHA in his weekly list of dietary supplements.  Myself, I would get the DHA as a fish oil supplement rather than DHA . I use the liquid fish oil rather than a capsule as the capsules have their own problems and are not necessary. 

See this past blog for information on fish oil and capsules. You can find great fish oil from Nordic Naturals at Amazon Search for nordic naturals liquid  or go to the Nordic Naturals website at 

When he mentions using pterostilbene as a supplement I myself think of eating blueberries. I freeze 50 or more pounds of them each year to munch all year long right out of the freezer or in some of my favorite dishes. You can go to a local U-pick for organic blueberries and freeze them as a less expensive way to purchase them, or better yet, grow them as I do.  When mentioning sulforaphane as a supplement I think about eating broccoli sprouts which are high in sulforaphane. You can get organic boccoli sprouts here  Organic Broccoli Sprouting Seeds -2.5 Lbs- Organic- Edible Seed, Gardening, Hydroponics, Growing Salad Sprout & Food Storage- Brocolli Sprouts Contain Sulforaphane  When he suggests the use of curcumin, I think of consuming tumeric, the plant which curcumin is extracted from. For good tumeric you can get here at

When he advises folks to take green tea extract, I think about enjoying green tea as a drink during my day rather than an extract in pill form. Mountain Rose Herbs has a fantastic jasmine green tea that I love to drink. Just click on their link directly above or you can find various green teas in eery health food store.

As far as increasing glutathione which he discusses at various points, this is something that just about all of us could use to support our bodies, I consider the use of milk thistle seed which can increase glutathione by 30%. (I am still going to write a blog about milk thistle in the near future.)

All in all, this is a great book. I enjoyed it and suggest you read it. You can get it at Amazon by clicking below.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New GM Alfalfa Lawsuit Filed against FDA

The following is taken from a press release put out by the Center For Food Safety. You can see the full press release at:

March 18th, 2011, attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earth Justice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE), “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa was unlawful.  The GE crop is engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup.  USDA data show that 93% of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides.  With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year. GE alfalfa threatens the organic dairy industry, and will have farmers going back to Monsanto every year to buy its patented seed and Roundup.”

Information on GM alfalfa from prior blog:
There are 23 million acres of alfalfa.  15% of all crop land is planted in alfalfa. Until now 93% of alfalfa growing has not been sprayed with herbicides. Now with the alfalfa fields being planted with Round Up resistant seed they will be more likely to spray these fields with herbicide. This will increase the use of herbicides in the United States on this 15% of crop land and thereby increase the pollution of our land and water. It will increase the appearance of what is called super weeds.  Alfalfa puts out a lot of pollen so it will cross-pollinate all the fields near it and move Round Up Ready alfalfa seeds into organic fields. Since all the dairy cows and goats are usually fed alfalfa, there will be a complete invasion of GMO alfalfa into all alfalfa including organic alfalfa. This means all milk producing animals will be eating GMO’s eventually. This is bad news for those of us who consume milk.

OCA believes this is a premeditated act on Monsanto’s part to pollute all Alfalfa in an effort to force the organic community to weaken and allow GMO alfalfa into organics. This would then give them a door into organics that allows all GMO seeds to be allowed by the organic community in the future. Monsanto has been trying to get the organic certifying bodies to allow GMO food since the beginning of GMO seeds. It is their expectation that when their seed pollutes all the organic fields and there is only GMO alfalfa in existence that the organic farmers will not be able resist them. However, organic farmers will continue to resist GMO food. We need to be sure to do all we can to support farmers if we don’t want to continue the march of GMO food into our food chain. It is imperative that we get GMO food labeled immediately.
Full blog can be seen at: 
This is the second case challenging the legality of USDA’s handling of GE alfalfa.  In 2007, in another case brought by CFS, a federal court ruled that the USDA’s approval of the engineered crop violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa, the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased use of Roundup.  The case resulted in USDA undertaking a court-ordered four-year study of GE alfalfa’s impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Remarkably, it marked the first time USDA had ever undertaken such a study, known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in over 15 years of approving GE crops for commercial production.  While USDA worked on the EIS, GE alfalfa remained unlawful to plant or sell, a ban that remained in place despite Monsanto appealing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs include a diverse coalition of conventional and organic farmers, dairies and agricultural associations, and environmental and consumer groups: CFS, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, California Farmers Union, Dakota Resources Council, Geertson Seed Farms, National Family Farm Coalition, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Sierra Club, Trask Family Seeds and Western Organization of Resource Councils. 

“Approving the unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa is a blatant case of the USDA serving one form of agriculture at the expense of all others,” says plaintiff Ed Maltby, Executive Director of the Northeast Alliance of Organic Dairy Producers.  “If this decision is not remedied, the result will be lost livelihoods for organic dairy farmers, loss of choice for farmers and consumers, and no transparency about GE contamination of our foods.”

Because alfalfa is pollinated by bees that can fly and cross-pollinate between fields and feral sources many miles apart, the engineered crop will contaminate natural alfalfa varieties.  Roundup Ready alfalfa is the first engineered perennial crop, meaning it remains in the ground for 3-6 years and is widely prevalent in wild or feral form throughout America, further increasing the likelihood and extent of transgenic contamination.

Approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa will spur the glyphosate-resistant epidemic that is already regarded as one of the most serious challenges facing U.S. agriculture.  Weeds evolve resistance to glyphosate just as bacteria evolve immunity to overused antibiotics.  While other Roundup Ready crops spawned the epidemic, Roundup Ready alfalfa will exacerbate it by increasing the frequency and intensity of glyphosate use on millions of acres of cropland.  Farmers respond to resistant weeds by applying more and more herbicides, soil-eroding tillage operations, and even hand-weeding on hundreds of thousands of acres.  Such “superweeds” have expanded four-fold to infest over 10 million acres since just 2008, with some projecting 38 million acres by 2013.  Alfalfa, the fourth most prevalent crop in the U.S., is grown on over 20 million acres, spanning every state.

Genetically Modified Apples

Stop Genetically Engineered Apples!
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., Summerland, B.C., is seeking USDA and FDA approval for its Arctic Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples in which genes causing browning have been switched off.

The U.S. apple industry is asking USDA not to allow these genetically engineered, non-browning apples from Canada to be produced in the United States. The U.S. Apple Association voted unanimously at a March 12 board meeting to oppose the Okanagan Specialty Fruits application.

The Northwest Horticulture Council is also trying to stop GM apples. Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticulture Council sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Feb. 28 expressing the council's opposition to the Okanagan application. Schlect explained in the letter that the Northwest Horticulture Council "anticipate[s] severe adverse marketing issues to confront both organic and traditional apple growers should [GM apples] be allowed into the general marketplace."

The council explained its stance in the March edition of its newsletter:

"This policy decision was made by our trustees after a careful balance, taking into account potential customer concerns, of benefits and risks to the existing commercial apple industry of the Pacific Northwest," the newsletter states. "In the end, the projected benefits of the non-browning apples did not outweigh the marketing harm likely to occur to apple growers and marketers, whether traditional or organic." (THIS MEANS THE APPLE GROWERS KNOW WE DO NOT WANT GM FOOD AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF OUR REFUSAL TO BUY THIS TYPE OF APPLE WORRIES THEM. OUR OUTCRIES ARE BEING HEARD BY THE GROWERS. THIS IS WHAT WE HOPED FOR. IT IS STARTING!!!!)

Speaking with the Capital Ag Press, Schlect said the industry is concerned that negative public perception of genetically engineered products could hurt apple sales.

"It's purely an economic thing. The negatives outweigh the positives," he said.

In this case, he said, there are issues of product labeling, possible cross-contamination, potential export market barriers and general consumer concern.

The U.S. apple industry isn't opposed to genetic engineering, but they will oppose GMO apples as long as they believe that consumers will reject them. We must use this opportunity to send a strong message to President Obama, Sec. Vilsack and APHIS Aministrator Cindy Smith that consumers are against GMO apples.

Take Action here:

Anti-GMO Rallies this Saturday Across the U.S.

This Saturday, March 26th rallies are being organized by our friends at The Organic Consumers Association, Millions Against Monsanto campaign. Their events are designed to spread awareness of genetically modified foods and Monsanto’s increasing monopoly of our foods. The main rally will be at the White House, with others being held around the United States.

Current events are listed below. New locations are being added, so please check the campaigns' Facebook page for updates in your area/location:

MAIN EVENT: Washington, D.C., 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, The White House Sidewalk (The White House Sidewalk is the sidewalk between East and West Executive Avenues on the South side of Pennsylvania Avenue NW) 11am- 3pm

Dates for ALL locations is Saturday March 26, 2011 and include (alphabetically):

Ann Arbor MI, Southeast corner of Catherine Street and N. 4th Avenue, just south of the A2 Farmers Market and Kerrytown Shops 12pm – 3pm
Albuquerque NM, UNM 12pm - 3pm
Atlanta GA, Around Centennial Olympic Park across from the CNN Bldg. 11am - 4pm
Austin TX, at The Capitol 12pm - 3pm
New York City, City Hall steps, between Broadway and Park Row 12pm - 1pm
Colorado Springs CO, Acacia Park 11am - 1:30pm
Hollywood FL, Open Air Bandshell Theatre on Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, 100 Johnson Street and North Ocean Drive/A1A 11am - 2pm
Indianapolis IN, 200 W. Washington Street #220 12pm - 2pm
Kansas City MO, The Plaza Downtown Kansas City 11am - 3pm
LA CA, Los Angeles (Westwood) Federal Bldg, 11000 Wilshire Blvd. 11am - 2pm
Maui HI, in front of Long's streetside on Ka'ahumanu Ave in Kahului  8am - 11am
Milwaukee WI, Water and Wisconsin 11am - 2pm
Montpelier VT, Outside CITY HALL 11am - 3pm
Nashville TN, Nashville Farmers Market, 900 Rosa Parks Boulevard (Eighth Avenue North) 10am - 1pm
Queen Creek AZ, Safeway Food Store, Queen Creek, Arizona East valley Power and Queen Creek road 12pm - 1pm
Saint Paul MN, Minnesota State Capitol Building - South Mall, 75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd 12pm - 2pm
Salem OR, 900 Court St. NE, Salem, Oregon 97301 12pm - 3pm
Seattle WA, Westlake Park 12pm - 2pm
Tampa Bay FL, Downtown 11am - 2pm

Friday, March 18, 2011

Radiation Concern Updated

With the increasing concern about radiation I have updated the antioxidant information below and included a couple more links.

Be ready if you are concerned but don’t start worrying about radioactive iodine, and ingesting iodine etc. until you are sure there is danger. Ingesting too much iodine is dangerous, so don't do it unless necessary and you know what you are doing. Seek health care guidance from a professional. I am not an expert on nuclear power plants or radiation, but here is some data to help keep you informed. 

We have a certain amount of radiation around us all the time, both natural and due to human creation. Therefore, the most prudent thing to do is stay as healthy as possible at all times. As far as protecting my thyroid with iodine, I personally eat kelp daily. All sea vegetables contain iodine and other minerals. (Some people are allergic to iodine and should not ingest iodine.) Kelp does not give you the CDC's recommended amount of iodine if your exposed to radioactive fallout. So if that does happen you will want to use the recommendation of the CDC below.

Herbs To Consider

The results obtained from in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that several herbs such as Ginkgo (Gingko biloba),  Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Amaranth (Amaranthus paniculatus), Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), Stonebreaker (Phyllanthus amarus,) Long pepper (Piper longum), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifoila,) Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Jambul (Syzygium cumini), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Billy goat weed (Ageratum conyzoides), Bengal quince (Aegle marmelos) and Pithraj tree (Aphanamixis polystachya) protect against radiation-induced lethality, lipid peroxidation and DNA damage. Radioprotective Potential of Plants and Herbs against the Effects of Ionizing Radiation, Ganesh C. Jagetia, Department of Radiobiology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal-576 104, India

I suggest you read this research article at this link:

Ginkgo may be protective against radiation-induced injuries as shown in the use of ginkgo following the Chernobyl disaster. Treatment of recovery workers from the Chernobyl accident site was found to be effective when an oral dose of 40 mg/day of G. biloba was given 3 times daily for 2 months

 Emerit I., Oganesian N., Sarkisian T., Arutyunyan R., Pogosian A., Asrian K., Levy A., Cernjavski L. Clastogenic factors in the plasma of Chernobyl recovery workers: Anticlastogenic effects of Ginkgo biloba extract. Radiat. Res. 1995;144:198–205.

It appears that Antioxidants are protective against radiation. Reduction of transient free radicals is one mechanism by which antioxidants influence the indirect action of radiation. The extent of danger to normal tissues in radiation therapy for cancer depends on the dose, tissue sensitivity and repair capacity, affected organs, and prevailing endogenous antioxidant defenses.  
Short- and long-term injury to healthy cells, including tissue damage and increased risk of oncogenic transformation, can be prevented by antioxidants, as seen experimentally. New findings that antioxidants induce apoptosis in cancer cells and protect patients from painful side effects of radiation treatment for cancer may prove these compounds useful in radiation from nuclear power plant accidents also. For more information like this go to

Many herbs are antioxidants. Here is a list of a few from "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth" You will notice some of them are also listed in the research above.

     •    Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
•    Chaparral (Larrea tridentata)
•    Fo ti (Polygonum multiflorum)
•    Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
•    Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
•    Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
•    Hawthorne (Crataegus spp.)
•    Ligustrum (Ligustrum lucidum)
•    Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
•    Propolis
•    Rhubarb (Rheum officinalis)
•    Sage root (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
•    Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
•    Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
•    Tumeric (Curcuma longa)

Antioxidants in Food

Of course we should acknowledged all the wonderful antioxidants we have in our fresh, organic foods and then there are tadditionally the nutritional supplements that can be used. 

A USDA study analyzed the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods. Researchers tested over 100 foods. Here is a ranked list of the top 20 fruits, vegetables and nuts:

   1. Small red bean (dried), 1/2 cup
   2. Wild blueberry, 1 cup
   3. Red kidney bean (dried), 1/2 cup[br[
   4. Pinto bean, 1/2 cup
   5. Blueberry (cultivated), 1 cup
   6. Cranberry, 1 cup (whole)
   7. Artichoke (cooked hearts), 1 cup
   8. Blackberry, 1 cup
   9. Prune, 1/2 cup
  10. Raspberry, 1 cup
  11. Strawberry, 1 cup
  12. Red delicious apple, 1
  13. Granny Smith apple, 1
  14. Pecan, 1 ounce
  15. Sweet cherry, 1 cup
  16. Black plum, 1
  17. Russet potato, 1 cooked
  18. Black bean (dried), 1/2 cup
  19. Plum, 1
  20. Gala apple, 1

For a comprehensive list of Nutrients ingested for their antioxidant effects go to:

Here is a link to information on eating miso soup for radiation protection:

People in Japan should be concerned, but what about folks worrying in the U.S. Why would the west coast USA be in danger  of Fallout from Japans nuclear plant if it has some sort of core melt-down? 

Everyone on the planet should be concerned. The Japanese reactors hold about 1,000 times more radiation than the bombs dropped over Hiroshima. As far as the United States: The prevailing jet stream winds are blowing from Japan directly across the Pacific ocean to the west coast of the United States. Any airborne radioactive Fallout would make its way across with the jet stream, reaching the U.S. in approximately 36 hours, depending on the actual speed of the jet air stream and how quickly the particles mixed in with the jet-stream. In the spring season, the jet stream moves eastward from Japan toward the United States. Heated isotopes, riding on a cushion of steam and oceanic updrafts, will rise to the west-east jet stream at altitude 20,000 feet or higher. Areas of radioactive fallout are difficult to predict since these depend on local wind currents, temperatures, rainfall and other factors. The jet stream will cross the following states: California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and possibly further depending on surface winds. Cesium can be expected to fall unevenly, so monitoring is vital to determine the long-term threat level.  (A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.)
Radiation can affect the body in a number of ways, and the adverse health effects of exposure may not be apparent for many years. These adverse health effects can range from mild effects, such as skin reddening, to serious effects such as cancer and death, depending on the amount of radiation absorbed by the body (the dose), the type of radiation, the route of exposure, and the length of time a person was exposed. Exposure to very large doses such as would happen if near a nuclear explosion may cause death within a few days or months. Exposure to lower doses of radiation may lead to an increased risk of developing cancer or other adverse health effects later in life. These lower doses are what people on the West Coast of the U.S. are worried about.

If you are around radioactive fall-out what should you do? Radiation can go through material depending on its density.

• Close all doors and windows.
• Turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside. Only use units to recirculate air that is already in the building.
• Close fireplace dampers.
• Bring pets inside.
• Move to an inner room or basement. The deeper in the earth or behind dense material such as concrete or metal, the better.

What radioisotopes should we be concerned about.

Lets look at Chernobyl: As of 2005, cesium-137 (C-137) is the principal source of radiation in the zone of alienation around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Together with cesium-134, iodine-131, and strontium-90, caesium-137 was among the isotopes with greatest health impact distributed by the reactor explosion.

It appears the main radioisotopes of current concern is Strontium-90 (s-90), Iodine-131 (I-131), and Cesium-134 and 137 (C-134&137). I-131 has a half life of 8.06 days.  It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested in food or water.

C-137 has a half-life of about 30.17 years, and decays by beta emission to a metastable nuclear isomer of barium-137.

 What does the CDC say?

C-134&137 Exposure:

There is not much you can do ahead of time for C-134 &137radiation. The FDA has determined that the 500 mg Prussian blue capsules,(Radiogardase) can be safe and effective for the treatment of known or suspected internal contamination with radioactive cesium, radioactive thallium, or non-radioactive thallium. This decision is based on a careful review of published literature articles containing reports, data, and experiences of people who were exposed to high levels of thallium or cesium-137 and were treated effectively with Prussian blue.
Prussian blue should be taken as soon as possible after exposure. However, even when treatment cannot be started right away, patients should be given Prussian blue as soon as it becomes available because it is still effective even after time has elapsed since exposure.
Prussian blue is available only by prescription and should be given only under the supervision of a physician after assessing your medical condition. It is only effective to treat contamination with radioactive cesium or thallium. The dose and duration of treatment depends on the amount of contamination a person is exposed to. Therefore, this drug should be given only when the physician has determined your need for it.

Strontium-90 Exposure:
I don’t know of any direct treatments for strontium-90 exposure.

I-131 Exposure:
External exposure to large amounts of I-131 can cause burns to the eyes and on the skin. Internal exposure can affect the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones and cannot distinguish between radioactive iodine and stable (nonradioactive) iodine. In addition, if dairy animals consume grass contaminated with I-131, the radioactive iodine will be incorporated into their milk. Consequently, people can receive internal exposure from drinking the milk or eating dairy products made from contaminated milk. Once inside the body, I-131 will be absorbed by the thyroid gland exposing it to radiation and potentially increasing the risk for thyroid cancer or other thyroid problems.

Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs. Radioactive iodine may also contaminate the local food supply and get into the body through food or through drink. When radioactive materials get into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking, we say that “internal contamination” has occurred. In the case of internal contamination with radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this chemical. Radioactive iodine absorbed by the thyroid can then injure the gland. 

Ingestion of Potassium iodide (KI)
Because ingestion of non-radioactive KI acts to block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland, it can help protect this gland from injury.

KI cannot prevent radioactive iodine from entering the body. KI can protect only the thyroid from radioactive iodine, not other parts of the body. KI cannot reverse the health effects caused by radioactive iodine once damage to the thyroid has occurred. KI cannot protect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine—if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective.

Iodine ingestion is undertaken to keep I-131 from binding to the thyroid tissues. Some people are allergic to iodine and should not take KI. Check with your doctor about any concerns you have about potassium iodide. Potassium iodide is the most common form of iodine available on the market.

Potassium iodide (also called KI) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine. Iodine needed by the body to make thyroid hormones. Most of the iodine in our bodies comes from the food we eat. KI is stable iodine in a medicine form.

KI works by blocking radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed by the thyroid. The thyroid gland becomes “full” and cannot absorb any more iodine—either stable or radioactive—for the next 24 hours.

Iodized table salt also contains iodine; iodized table salt contains enough iodine to keep most people healthy under normal conditions. However, table salt does not contain enough iodine to block radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland. You should not use table salt as a substitute for KI.

Knowing that KI may not give a person 100% protection against radioactive iodine is important. How well KI blocks radioactive iodine depends on

•  how much time passes between contamination with radioactive iodine and the taking of KI (the sooner a person takes KI, the better), how fast KI is absorbed into the blood, and

the total amount of radioactive iodine to which a person is exposed.

In Radiation Exposure, who should take KI according to the CDC & How Much?

This is taken from the CDC. Here is the lnk:

The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

Infants (including breast-fed infants): Infants need to be given the recommended dosage of KI for babies. The amount of KI that gets into breast milk is not enough to protect breast-fed infants from exposure to radioactive iodine. The proper dose of KI given to a nursing infant will help protect it from radioactive iodine that it breathes in or drinks in breast milk. Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children. Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.

Children: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI, unless they have known allergies to iodine. Children from newborn to 18 years of age are the most sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of radioactive iodine. Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.

Young Adults: The FDA recommends that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 40 years) internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take the recommended dose of KI. Young adults are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than are children.

Pregnant Women: Because all forms of iodine cross the placenta, pregnant women should take KI to protect the growing fetus. However, pregnant women should take only one dose of KI following internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine.
Breastfeeding Women: Women who are breastfeeding should take only one dose of KI if they have been internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine. Because radioactive iodine quickly gets into breast milk, CDC recommends that women internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine stop breastfeeding and feed their child baby formula or other food if it is available. If breast milk is the only food available for an infant, nursing should continue. Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.

Adults: Adults older than 40 years should not take KI unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected. Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine. They also have a greater chance of having allergic reactions to KI. Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).

How much KI should I take?
The FDA has approved two different forms of KI—tablets and liquid—that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency. Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (mL) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI.

According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

How often should I take KI?
A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at the levels recommended in this fact sheet is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine might be in the environment for more than 24 hours. If that happens, local emergency management or public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days. You should do this only on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants. Those individuals may need to be evacuated until levels of radioactive iodine in the environment fall.

Taking a higher dose of KI, or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

Medical conditions that may make it harmful to take KI
Taking KI may be harmful for some people because of the high levels of iodine in this medicine. You should not take KI if

• you know you are allergic to iodine (If you are unsure about this, consult your doctor.) or

• you have certain skin disorders (such as dermatitis herpetiformis or urticaria vasculitis).

People with thyroid disease (for example, multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, or autoimmune thyroiditis) may be treated with KI. This should happen under careful supervision of a doctor, especially if dosing lasts for more than a few days.

In all cases, talk to your doctor if you are not sure whether to take KI.

What are the possible risks and side effects of KI?
When public health or emergency management officials tell the public to take KI following a radiologic or nuclear event, the benefits of taking this drug outweigh the risks. This is true for all age groups. Some general side effects caused by KI may include intestinal upset, allergic reactions (possibly severe), rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands.

When taken as recommended, KI causes only rare adverse health effects that specifically involve the thyroid gland. In general, you are more likely to have an adverse health effect involving the thyroid gland if you
    * take a higher than recommended dose of KI,
    * take the drug for several days, or
    * have pre-existing thyroid disease.

Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI are at particular risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage. Infants who receive KI should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor. Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.
Once again, this is taken from the CDC. Here is the lnk:

Monday, March 14, 2011

New United Nations Report on Honey Bees

The United Nations just put out a news release on the world-wide decline of our honey bees.

On March 10, 2011 the United Nations wrote “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century,” UN Environment Program.  Executive Director Achim Steiner said , “The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.”

The report – Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators – cites more than a dozen potential factors of the pollinator loss ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of memory-damaging insecticides to the worldwide spread of pests and air pollution. It encourages countries to offer farmers incentives to restore pollinator-friendly habitats such as flowering plants next to crop-producing fields. 

Some 20,000 flowering plant species upon which many bee species depend for food could be lost over the coming decades without greater conservation efforts. An Anglo-Dutch study has found that since the 1980s, there has been a 70 per cent drop in key wildflowers among them the mint, pea and perennial herb families. We can all help the honey bees and other pollinators by planting their favorite plants in our gardens and on our farms. I will include a list at the end of this blog.

Meanwhile the increasing use of chemicals in agriculture is being found to damage bees, weakening their immune systems, with laboratory studies showing that some insecticides and fungicides can act together to be 1,000 times more toxic to bees. They can also affect the sense of direction, memory and brain metabolism, and herbicides and pesticides may reduce the availability of plants bees need for food and for the larval stages of some pollinators.

Air pollution,  may be interfering with the ability of bees to find flowering plants and thus food, with scents that could travel over 800 meters in the 1800s now reaching less than 200 meters from a plant. Electromagnetic fields from sources such as power lines might also be changing the behavior of bees who are sensitive as they have small abdominal crystals that contain lead.

Another factor concerns parasites and pests, such as the Varroa mite, and tracheal mite that feed on the bees, as well as the small hive beetle, which damages honeycombs, stored honey and pollen.

At Rio+20, the meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year marking the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, they seek to ramp up international efforts for a green economy and sustainable development, Mr. Steiner called for investment and re-investment in nature-based services, from forests and fresh waters to flower meadows and coral reefs.

Many Bee Keepers Use Chemicals on the Hives
I would add to the UN's list of problems, the fact that bee keepers themselves are using chemicals on their bees to try and keep them alive. In an effort to combat mites and other bee pests, non-organic bee keepers have used a variety of chemicals on hives. Many are starting to realize this is adding to the problem. Organic bee keepers have been using essential oils with good results for many years now. This is also the reason many people will not eat any honey, pollen or other bee products that is from the general market. There is a concern it is laced with chemicals used on the hives. We of course must be concerned about all the pesticides the bees pick up when foraging too. This is something organic bee keepers must deal with unless they are far from non-organic farmers and gardeners.

An Additional Concern About Feeding Bees Sugar Water
I am also concerned about the practice of feeding sugar water to bees. This is done for a variety of reasons and in many cases is not necessary unless they are starving and there is no honey to feed them.  However it is a common practice. Sugar is not the healthiest thing to feed the bees and in my mind it has become even more suspect since GMO sugar has arrived on the scene. The sugar beets are genetically modified so that they are immune to the Roundup herbicide, which is made from glyphosate.  This allows farmers to spray Roundup to their hearts content on their fields. Genetically modified sugar beets accounted for roughly 90% of all sugar beets grown in the United States in 2010.  Sugar beets are the source of fifty-four percent of American produced sugar.  85% of the sugar on the United States market is produced domestically. I am concerned about the bees being fed this sugar that has had a lot of Round Up sprayed on it while it was growing. Since bees are so sensitive to small amounts of pesticides, they may also be sensitive to small amounts of herbicides. Bee Keepers may unknowingly be poisoning their bees themselves by feeding GMO sugar to their bees. (Just an additional thought to consider.)

Original UN Press Release here:

Download report: Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators

List of Plants that honey bees prefer. Plant a variety of these to help the honey bees in your area. I have included Latin names in parenthesis. Use the older heirloom varieties rather than the hybridized varieties.

Borage (Borago officinalis), Blueberries and other Vacciuniums (Vaccium spp.), Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Catnep (Nepeta cataria), Dandelions (Yes, they like dandelions so let some grow - especially helpful in the early spring), Echium (Echium vulgare), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifloia), All Asters, All mints (Mentha spp.), Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum),  Barberry/Oregon grape (Berberis spp.), All clovers, Bachelors Button (Centaurea cyanus), Echinacea (echinacea spp.) Elderberry (Sambucus spp.), Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), Hawthorne (Crataegus spp.), Hazelnut (Corylus spp.), Heather (Erica spp.), All lavenders (Lavandula spp.), Linden (Tillia spp.), Maple tree (Acer spp), Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca), Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), Wild Roses (Rosa spp.), Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), Thyme (Thymus spp.), Valerian (Valeriana spp.), Veronica (Veronica officinalis (Willow Salix spp.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bill To Save The Bees

We need to tell our federal and state representatives they need to submit a bill to ban neonicotinoids to save our honey bees. We can get them to do this by writing letters/emails to them. I am sharing a recent letter I sent out to my U.S. congressman, U.S. senators and my state senator and representative in Oregon. I am working both on the federal and state level to get bills passed. If we are unable to get our federal representatives to submit a bill perhaps we can at least get a state bill passed. (For details on why this is important, go to

Below is the actual letter I sent to Congressman Peter DeFazio.  Please copy and use this letter to send to your representatives. It helps to add your personal point of view. You can also write an entirely new letter. It is always more powerful to use your own words. However, if you don't have time, please copy and send this one, but change the representatives name and sign your name on the bottom. I am including a link here that will allow you to easily look up your federal and state representatives names and contact address/email/phone numbers.

 Actual Letter  

Peter DeFazio 
405 East 8th Ave. #2030
Eugene, OR 97401

Re: Solution to Honey Bee Die Off

Dear Congressman DeFazio,

Our honey bees are going extinct and Bee keepers finally know why. We just need to do something about it. You have the ability to introduce a bill that will save the honey bees. Albert Einstein said “If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.”

You can save our honey bees and the one out of every three foods they alone are responsible for pollinating. Without the honey bees 1/3 of our food crops would not be pollinated and our diet would become severely restricted. Additionally we need the honey bees, and leaf cutting bees to pollinate alfalfa. There are 23 million acres of alfalfa in the United States. Alfalfa is fed to most dairy animals and some beef animals. Alfalfa is integral to milk production. Lactating animals need a lot of energy to keep up the milk production. Alfalfa is the primary source of energy for these animals on most dairy farms. The dairy industry needs the honey bees.

Until now, beekeepers did not know what was killing the bees. However, recent research points to the use of a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The manufacturers have been trying to implicate disease as the causative factor, but research now proves that it is these insecticides that are the main culprit. Neonicotinoids have already been banned in Italy, France and Germany. Italy has recently announced that one year after their ban the bees are back again!

No one has yet proposed a bill to ban neonicotinoids in our country. I am hoping you will be the one to do this.

I have attached additional information regarding this urgent matter below. Please take a look at the following short document to get a better understanding of the situation. I have also included the name and phone number of an OSU researcher who can give you additional data.

The Honey Bee Problem

Each year United States beekeepers lose 30-40% of their hives. This can't keep up. Some of them are going out of business. One large U.S. beekeeper named David Hackenberg who has been keeping bees for almost half a century, has recently reported a 70% loss of bees. Who will pollinate our food if not for the honey bees? Although there are other pollinators, the honey bees are alone responsible for pollinating 1/3 of all the fruits and vegetables we eat. Do we want to lose 1/3 of our food supply? We must save the bees for their own sake as well as ours. This drastic decrease in worldwide bee numbers is indicative of an environmental disaster. Many beekeepers are convinced this disaster is due to insecticides being used on orchards and farmland that the bees pollinate. This massive demise in our bees seems to have started with the introduction of one specific type of insecticide group called the neonicotinoids.

Brand Names of various chemical neonicotinoids:
Clothianidin: Poncho, Titan, Clutch, Belay, Arena.
Imidacloprid: Admire, Advantage, Confidor, Gaucho, Marathon, Merit, Premeir, Provado, Bayer Advanced, Rose Defense, Kohinor,  Hachikusan, Premise, Prothor, Legend and Winner. 
Thiamethoxam: Actara, Crusier, Platinum, Helix, Centric, Adage, Meridian and Flagship
Acetamiprid: Assail, Intruder, Adjust
Thiacloprid: Calypso

Some Countries Ban Neonicotinoids to Save the Bees
Some countries have put various bans on the use of neonicotinoids. These countries include France, Germany, Slovenia and Italy.  It has recently been noted that one year after placing bans on neonicotinoids in Italy, the bees came back. We want our bees back in the U.S. We must ban these neonicotinoids.

Research Confirms Bee Death Due To Neonicotinoids
Research by Dr Jeffrey Pettis and his team at the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory has shown that very low levels of imidacloprid (even microscopic doses) make the honey bees more vulnerable to infections.

Pettis exposed two groups of bees to the well-known bee disease agent Nosema. One of the groups was also fed tiny doses of the neonnicotinoid imidacloprid. There was a higher uptake of infection in the bees fed the insecticide, even though the insecticide could not subsequently be detected, which raises the possibility that such a phenomenon occurring in the wild might be simply undetectable.

Although the US study has not been published, French researchers at the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon have independently carried out similar research and published their study in the journal Environmental Microbiology. They stated “We demonstrated that the interaction between nosema and a neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) significantly weakened honey bees.”

Professor Vincenzo Girolami from the University of Padua published research in the J. Econ. Entomol. 102 (5): 1808-1815 (2009) that examined the bee neonicotinoid affect by looking at corn grown from seed that was coated in neonicotinoids and how it effects the bees.  The research showed that the neonicotinoid coated seed grew corn that was deadly to the bees. It shows that bees drinking the poisoned guttation drops (kind of like dew drops but something the plant exudes) dropped dead within a few minutes.  Professor Girolami grew plants from neonicotinoid-coated maize seeds and observed that the concentration of these active substances in the guttation exudate from the corn leaves  is comparable with the pesticide solutions that are used to treat orchards. Bees are basically sucking concentrated poison. This effect would obviously persist even if the industry found a way of enclosing maize seeds within a smooth, biodegradable plastic coating, which would at least eliminate dispersion during sowing, though. (During dispersion of these coated seeds they kick up a dust from the coated seeds that also kills the bees if they fly through it.)

Why are Honey Bees Susceptible:
Through mapping of the bee genome it became apparent that bees have a significantly reduced capacity to detoxify chemicals when compare with other insects. They are susceptible to sub-lethal exposures of pesticides. In respect to the neonicotinoids, it has been found that the honey bees have a  higher number of neurological receptors that are targeted by neonicotinoids than other insects. Many of the bees behaviors such as building honeycomb, the “waggle dance” that they communicate with and other behaviors are complex and necessitate a fully functioning nervous system. It is thought that the disruption of the neurological signaling by neonicotinoids causes them to become disoriented and impairs their ability fly, to forage, communicate with each other, discriminate smells (very important to the bee), effects their learning and weakens their immune system.

More Details Available
You can get more detailed information from Dr. Ramesh Sagili who is a researcher in the Department of Horticulture at the Oregon State University. His primary focus at OSU is honeybee health, nutrition and pollination.

Dr. Ramesh Sagili
Department of Horticulture
4017 Ag. and Life Sciences Bldg.
Corvallis, Oregon 97331-7304
Phone: 541-737-5460
Fax: 541-737-3479

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this ecologically/economically serious matter. Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing back from your office and hope you will be introducing a bill to save the honey bees in the near future.

Respectfully Yours,

Dr. Sharol Tilgner

Garden Blog Series: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are warm weather loving plants. As a Northern gardener near the 45th parallel in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, I need to get a head start on these plants in the late winter to be sure to get the ripened fruit I am hoping for. You can simply grow shorter season variety tomatoes if living in the North but I like varieties that are longer season tomatoes, which requires that I get started early. Some people in my area simply purchase local grown greenhouse tomato plants and don’t bother to start their own. That is certainly another option. Since I start my own tomatoes it means I plant seeds late February in the greenhouse or in my house depending on the weather. If I had a heated greenhouse I would always plant them in the greenhouse but in February it is often too cold in the greenhouse to start them in there. Once they start growing they will need to be in a heated greenhouse or in some type of environment you have created to keep them warm but still give them plenty of light.  Putting them on a greenhouse heating bed is helpful to both germinate them and keep them warm if the weather is not warm enough in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame. They need to have the soil temperature at 60-70 degrees for germination and they like air temperature of 70-75 degrees when growing. They like the night temperature to go down to 55 degrees. However, they can get unhappy if the temperature is less than 50 degrees and it will slow their growth down and you may get damage. Even so, once mine are germinated, I keep them in the greenhouse that is often around 40 at night, with dips occasionally lower and they still do OK as long as the days warm up. They would just do better if it was 50 at night.

When deciding which tomatoes to grow you want to think about how you will use them. Do you want sauce tomatoes, drying tomatoes, or fresh eating tomatoes? Also consider if you want determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.

The determinate or “bush” tomatoes will grow to a compact height of about 4 feet while the indeterminate or vine type varieties will reach heights of 6-12 feet, although 6 feet is more the norm.

The determinate variety stops growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud. They ripen their crop over a short period of time and then die. This is handy for someone who wants to freeze or can the tomatoes all at one time.  Determinate varieties are best as container plants. You do not want to prune determinate type tomatoes. This will decrease the amount of tomatoes you harvest. You may end up with little to no fruit from pruning determinate tomatoes.

The indeterminate type will grow and produce fruit until frost kills them. They will be blooming, setting fruit and ripen fruit all throughout the growing season. Indeterminate tomatoes produce a higher fruit yield per square foot compared to the determinate tomatoes. They will require caging or staking to support them. Pruning and sucker removal is helpful with the indeterminate type.

Using your own seed: Tomato seeds have a jelly like substance on them when taken out of the tomato. This jelly substance contains constituents within it that keep the seeds from germinating. This is removed via a fermentation process usually and we will discuss that later in the year when I go over collection of seeds from your plants. Some of the chemicals may still be on the seed and decrease its ability to germinate. Soaking the seed in water overnight will help remove some of it and help the seed to soak up water to help it germinate. This is not necessary; it just helps increase the percent of seeds that germinate. (We will discuss seed collection of various seeds later in the year.)

I plant my tomatoes in seed trays. One seed per each tray cell. A general rule for planting seeds is that they should be placed as deep in the soil as they are wide. This is not very deep for tomatoes. However, tomato seeds will not germinate as well if light gets to them, so make sure you get them well covered with about ¼ inch deep soil. Push the soil lightly down on top of the seed and it is ready to water. They should germinate in 5-14 days. Here is a great germination table for various plants.

Once they have sprouted, you should move the plants to a greenhouse or other well sunlit area that remains relatively warm. If necessary you can temporarily grow them in a window that has non “low UV panes” and an additional UV light will help immensely.  The closer they are to the window, the better they will do. You will notice the plants in tray cells closer to the window will be stronger and less spindly than those farther from the window. A UV light hung over the tray will help strengthen all the plants. If they are in a greenhouse you won’t need the extra UV light of course. Remember if the plants are indoors, they prefer to have cooler nights than days. Keep them in the 70’s in the daytime if possible and 50’s at night. Attempt to get a temperature close to this any way. Remember from the Onion Blog that the length of time our plants have light on them will affect our plants. If we give them light at night it will extend the day length for them. What this does to tomato plants is cause them to mature late and you get less fruits from the plants. So turn off their UV light and all other lights in the room at the end of the day or you need to cover them so your house light does not reach them.

Once your tomatoes start to grow, they will soon need to be transplanted into a 4-inch pot. Set them into the soil of the 4-inch pot so the lower leaves are just above the soil. Tomatoes will grow roots out of all parts of the stem that you bury in the soil. Not all plants do this, so don’t try it will others or you may damage the plant. Usually you replant a plant into a bigger pot with the soil coming to the exact same height on the plant as it had been in the smaller container. Tomatoes are different. You can plant the lower part of their stem and it will start growing roots out of the stem.  This is helpful if your tomato plant has not had enough light and has become a bit leggy. Just plant the lower leggy part and it will increase the rooting area. I pinch off any leaves on this leggy part before putting the stem in the soil. It helps to pinch them off a few days ahead of time so they have time to heal the wound. It is best not to have the freshly wounded area in the soil due to disease growth. You will want to get the tomatoes out into a cold frame as soon as possible in your area. Depending on the weather in your area, you may need to pot up to a larger pot one more time before planting in the garden. Remember it is best for them to have night temperatures above 50 degrees in whatever enclosure you have them. If you do put them out in your garden when the nights are chilly, at least put some sort of protection around them.When the risk of frost is over, you can plant them out into the garden.

When planting a tomato you need to think about how you will support it and if you will prune your tomato plants. This will make a difference as to how close you plant them. There are as many ways to grow a tomato plant as there seem to be gardeners. If I am caging an indeterminate tomato, I give them about 3 feet on center to plant them as they will grow wide and quite tall. They will even cascade over the large cage.  I will usually prune the indeterminate tomatoes to fit my cage better. No pruning necessary on the determinate tomatoes. When I am staking an indeterminate tomato I can plant them fairly close to each other as they will be vining up a stake and not be growing outward so much due to my pruning them. The small ready made cages sold in stores are generally worthless as far as I am concerned. I make cages for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes from field fencing that is sold at animal feed stores.  This fencing is  3’ high or taller and I can make it as wide as I want by simply encircling it around itself and cutting the wire the width I want. I usually make the cage about 2.5-3 feet in diameter. I keep reusing the same cages every year. My current cages have been in use for eleven years. I use recycled re-bar that I shove into the woven fence on each side to keep the cage from falling over later when the plant is heavy with fruit and starts to push on the cage.

The indeterminate plants must have support or they will be running all over the ground. I either use a cage or I stake them. Using a cage and not pruning them can work as long as they get good air flow but if fungal growth is a concern or if you want to get larger tomatoes, I suggest staking and pruning your indeterminate plant. This usually is the best way to go. Where I live I have to use a cage or stake the indeterminate tomato plants, as there is a lot of humidity and tomato plants lying on the ground often leads to tomato plants with fungus. Plus the dense mass of leaves reduces the plants ability to get sun on all the leaves. This leads to smaller, later and less fruit. They really do best with support.  Here are a couple great videos on pruning staked indeterminate tomatoes:

Regarding the soil that a tomato likes: Tomatoes like a ph between 6 and 6.8. They like compost that is fully composted. They require moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. If your leaves are turning purple, they lack phosphorus. Too much nitrogen will give you a healthy, leafy tomato plant but you will get more leaves and less tomatoes. They also like moderate to high levels and potassium and calcium. If you don't have enough calcium in your soil you are more likely to get blossom-end rot. Don't plant a tomato in soil where another tomato, potato, eggplant, or pepper has been planted within the last three years. They all share diseases in this Solanaceae  or nightshade family and replanting one of these members of the family in the same spot successive years will increase your chance of a diseased plant. While speaking of disease, I will also mention tobacco mosaic virus. This virus can often be found on tobacco and on the hands of people who smoke. Don't let a smoker touch your tomato plants and if you smoke, wash your hands well before handling your tomatoes.

One interesting thing people grow tomatoes in is un-composted food. YouTube has some entertaining videos made by gardeners growing tomatoes in "garbage" or what I would simply call un-composted food. 

Tomatoes are thought to be self pollinating. However, in reality they need a little wind on them to ensure pollination.  The honey bees don't seem too thrilled with tomatoes but the bumble bees seem to like them. Even without anything but the wind they will pollinate themselves. The wind causes the pollen from the anthers to drift onto the stigma and fertilize the ovary. However, if they are in a greenhouse where there is no wind, they must be shaken slightly or some method of air movement needs to be used to make sure they get pollinated.

Tomato blossoms sometimes fall off. What causes this? They need to be fertilized within 50 hours of opening for the fruit to successfully set.  The embryo formed at fertilization produces auxin which helps the flowers to set.  The correct amount of auxin is necessary or the flower will fall off. Low temperatures below 55 degrees fahrenheit slows down availability of the auxin and the flower falls off. Temperatures higher than 74 F at night or 100 during the day will also make flowers fall off. 

It is important to let your tomato ripen on the vine. The last stage of ripening is when the sugars and vitamin C give the tomato its flavor. Immature tomatoes can be picked, ripened off the vine and eaten but they don't taste like those vine ripened tomatoes.

When watering tomatoes make sure you keep their leaves dry. This is very important as wet leaves lead to fungal disease. For this reason they do best with drip irrigation.