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Dec 28, 2016 04:12PM

It's all in Radish: Writer reflects on her years with the magazine

By Ann Ring
I'm one of the fortunate few who have written for Radish since its inception. For more than 10 years now, I've enjoyed the people I've met, the stories I've heard, the passion people have. Through the years, I have learned something new every month, just like many of its readers.

Reading and writing for Radish has changed me. It has set me on a course of reading food labels and being mindful about the food and snacks I buy for my dog. I adore every Radish Pet of the Year, and I still marvel at the March 2015 cover of little Henry Welvaert enjoying a healthy green drink made with spinach, which is an inspiration to me. And no matter how difficult it is for me to get to the gym, I'm not giving up my membership.

In my time with Radish, four assignments stand out. In 2006, I interviewed Keith and Lois Landis of Sterling, who were transitioning their dairy farm from traditional to organic. During the course of our visit, I remember the couple talking about how they already had noticed an improvement in their cows' health. There was less milk fever and fewer turned stomachs.

Lois believed the change was because of the cows' new grazing habit called rotational stocking, where livestock are moved among pastures frequently. I was impressed by the Landis' willingness to make such changes, a process that takes at least three years, and I remember Lois mentioning how much "happier" the cows were and so early in the process. Organic, huh? Happier cows? This interview gave me pause for thought.

In 2010, I interviewed Jim Helfter, founder and CEO of Advanced Biological Concepts and Helfter Feeds Inc., in Osco, Ill. Helfter was a genius, no doubt. Even though he since has passed, he left a legacy of feed products that are organic and GMO-free.

One could argue Helfter was a pioneer in his field. He long knew "superbugs" — resistant bacteria that can't be killed using multiple antibiotics — were going to develop, and his years of experience as an aerospace researcher taught him animal health problems are because of nutritional deficiencies from single-source diets and related environmental conditions, such as confinement, so he dedicated his work to the prevention of disease through nutrition.

Pam Taylor impressed me during our interview in 2012. She earned a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Ore., and practices naturopathic medicine in Moline.

She described quite an ordeal. While living in Arizona, she contracted a systemic infection from a chance scrape with a cactus. She was prescribed massive doses of erythromycin, which helped with the resulting musculoskeletal pain and periodic blindness, but at a price — erythromycin is toxic to the liver. Ultimately, it was a homeopathic treatment that helped Taylor remedy her side effects. The change for her was nearly as miraculous to me — it would do me good to pay attention to her experience and knowledge of naturopathic medicine.

Arguably one of the biggest influences in my time with Radish stems from a 2015 conversation with Chad Summers. He had developed a heavy case of psoriasis, and his doctor wanted to prescribe methotrexate, but liver damage is one of its most common side effects. To Summers, that was unacceptable.

He began reading a lot of books on gut flora, nutrition and the autoimmune system. After changing what he ate, namely switching to a plant-based diet, his psoriasis virtually cleared up. He has since opened Healthy Harvest Urban Farms and Organic Center in East Moline, and soon will open an organic grocery store in downtown Rock Island.

Sitting with Summers and his son, Nieko, gave me an aha moment that hasn't gone away. Food matters. What we eat matters, and our food sources matter. Both his and Pam's serious medical issues virtually changed after they changed their diets. If food has that much power, it would behoove me to pay attention to their experiences and follow suit.

Just as important, more scrutinizing is needed regarding our food sources, our agriculture practices and pesticide exposure.

Sometimes articles are for entertainment and light reading, but others can make a difference in our lives. So, thank you, Radish and its readers, for allowing me to participate as a writer, and just as importantly, a reader. Similar to my fellow readers, every month, I'm learning about healthy living from the ground up.
Ann Ring is a frequent Radish contributor.

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