Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Don't Fear the Microorganism.


Bacteria and microorganisms get a bad rep.  The super sterile consumerism we've been a part of has made us see these living things as the enemy.  Some surely can wreak havoc, but not all are bad.  I remember the first year a friend went to university and came home at Easter to talk about the teeny tiny microorganisms that live in and around our eyelashes.  Life grows ... it has no choice.  And even our bodies~inside and out~are like interconnected ecosystems on the edge of balance.  We can never ever sterilize our biologies of bacteria and microorganisms.  We have to balance the good and the bad.

The secret to balance is the "controlled setting".  We all have areas in our own homes that grow bacteria on a constant basis.  It's because of the size of the area that gives us the ability to keep it from taking over.  Take for instance, the bottom of your fridge where milk or blood may have dripped.  It's a small area, easy to control.  Now move those same products and those same microorganisms and bacterii to a milk or beef display fridge at your grocery store.  They have a much bigger job to do when it comes to maintaining a balance of sanitation.  It's all but impossible sometimes to rid a grocery display fridge of odour so therefore bacteria still resides.  Can you see how much of a bigger job this would be in a dairy facility or a slaughter house?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a germophobe at all.  In fact, I think germs are brilliant.  It's the most nutritious juices that woo the most bacteria after all.  And if given ample room, oxygen, and 'juices' they'll take over quickly in large areas.  This also happens in greenhouses where food is grown, and now where medicine is grown too.  I wonder if that was a consideration for the conclusion by the United Nations in their report that urges smaller scale gardening is the way of the future.

In Canada, we presently have fifteen factories growing medical Cannabis for the MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) program.  Several of them have had to recall grams upon grams of dried Cannabis buds because of test results that show that bacteria and/or contaminants are present. Growers of small scale gardens country-wide shake their heads at the hubris that makes any of them think they can ever control plant life indoors on that large a scale.  Not to mention the fact that many of the Licensed Producers are still growing in soil.

Tilray, a LP from British Columbia is the latest to recall certain strains for the presence of a bacteria named Enterobacter from a family that are primarily colonizers of the lower gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals.  Good thing it's still illegal to eat the cannabis ... and the only legal way to date to consume it is smoked or vaporized.  Or no, I guess it's still a grey area.  The Supreme Court of Canada is currently deciding on that  and may be in the deciding process for several months.

Yet my parents and every single one of their neighbors and millions of people worldwide grow, store, and eat food that they produce in their own gardens.  Why aren't people dying all over the undeveloped world if this bacteria is so dangerous?  People are able to balance sanitation with proper soil and/or plant bacteria by growing small scale.  I have friends who spend hours weeding and preening  their vegetable gardens, and who freeze or can the veggies to eat later.  The same is true for growing your medicine.  We can all grow a bit of our food and a bit of our medicine, if only the law allowed the latter.  The UN suggests this is the way to maintain diversity in seeds and crops, and as a way to minimize pesticide and harsh fertilizer use.  No longer can we be disillusioned with the idea that we need genetic modification to feed the masses.  More than half the masses can feed themselves!

In my opinion there are a few things going on here.  First off, as stated in this article about Tilray that "the law governing the production of medical marijuana says it must be manufactured to the same standards of any medicine", goes against everything a tree-hugging gardener knows.  To me, that sentence alone indicates that they don't understand the difference between medicinal plants and reverse-engineered chemicals.  To think that the same standards be used to generate medicine from a plant as is used to make medicine out of a powdered chemical mixture in the bottom of a beaker is illogical.  One is living, the other is man-made.  The whole thing is just more bureaucratic bullshit to profit big pharma and delay full legalization.  This is a new industry of using plants as medicine, new guidelines must be implemented that guide the balance of bacteria and sanitation.

The second thing I see is that as eluded to in the opening paragraph, the smaller the garden the easier it is to maintain.  For many years the designated growers provided Cannabis as medicine grown in basements, garages, or back yards.  No legal MMAR patients died from that cannabis nor did they get sick.  When grown within the guidelines, a designated grower was able to inspect every single plant on a daily basis.  Many grew in the utmost of "controlled settings", whereby no one else were even allowed inside the walls.  Many designated growers felt the magnitude of what it means to grow medicine for another human being.  It was therapy for them in many cases too.

Keeping track of and inspecting fifteen plants is much different than working in a sterile factory keeping track of a thousand plants.  That's how mold gets missed.  And it's a balance remember, because who knows that the mold doesn't assist the growth of the plant in some way?  Like the wee microorganisms that live in and around our eyelashes, the world of bacteria and microorganisms is interconnected more than we know.  But it has to be kept in check, in balance.

Small scale gardening is the only way of the future for this consumer, and that includes growing my own medicine.  How about you?