Our race was a success in that it was fun for everyone attended and it helped to get our name and mission out there. We made a little money, but we also got some volunteers and support.

So, thanks to the NC Arboretum for letting us use the facility, and helping us get set up.

Thanks to Mark Murray, who drove all the way from Fayetteville just to hand out water and move tables.

Thanks to Mission Hospitals for supplying us with bottled water.

Thanks to Kiss 99.9 FM for being a media sponsor.

Thanks to the Citizen-Times for running a free ad for us AND doing a beautiful story.

Thanks to Blake & Lesley at 880 AM, Local Edge Radio for having me on to talk about healh care policy and promote the race.

Thanks to the people who happened by ther registration table and left a couple dollars for our work.

And thanks to the people who came out to bike, run or hike for Mike.

It was a great time with beautiful weather and I enjoyed sharing it with all of you.

As it turns out, I ordered too many bandanas, and the date was printed on them.

Lesson learned: Don't print the date on anything you might be able to use for something else.

500 million. That's how many eggs are being recalled because of salmonella.

Salmonela isn't really problem among small-farm producers; it's only when you get to these humongous farms where chickens are kept in tiny cages and never see the light of day when you get into trouble.

All these eggs come from just two farms in Iowa.

Just two farms.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has no power to issue a mandatory recall of these eggs -- they have to wait for the producer to recall them voluntarily.

That's how big agri-business wants it. As long as the FDA is underfunded and powerless, they can produce eggs and meat and other products in the nastiest, most abhorrent conditions imaginable.

These corporate "farms" snip off chickens' beaks so they won't peck at each other. That's because the chickens are kept in tiny cages crammed together so close they never get to stand up and move about. They snip off the tails of piglets because they're in such close quarters and so stressed that they nip at each other's tails.

Have you ever followed a truck taking corporate-produced chickens to be slaughtered? It's a horrifying sight. Most of the chickens have few feathers and a lot of them look dead already. They don't move or make noise. It's no wonder people get sick from eating them and their eggs.

We had a poultry farm down the street when I was a kid. The chickens were out during the day and were kept in large coops at night. Compare that to the poultry farms of today and you  won't want to eat chicken or eggs anymore.

I buy my eggs from a local farmer. I know how the chickens are treated there. I pay a little more, but I don't run the risk of salmonella. The eggs are fresh -- they haven't been shipped from Iowa -- and they taste better.

Local is better. Small farms are small businesses and you can support them by buying local. In addition to supporting local small businesses, you're reducing your risk of getting food poisoning.

Another thing you can do is call your Senator in ask that he or she vote to pass S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which would force agri-business to comply with standards and give the FDA the teeth to deal harshly with producers who don't.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC has asked he state for an average 7 percent increase in premiums. Some comsumers, however, could see their rates increase by up to 30 percent, and a few will see a 50-percent hike. This comes just a week after the insurance company laid off 90 workers to cut costs.

The company is blaming it on health reform, but that's just not true. Most of the provisions don't even take effect until 2014. I don't know the annual compensation package for Brad Wilson, the new CEO of BCBS NC, but total compensation for his predecessor, Bob Greczyn, was $4.07 million last year. The  President and COO, James B. Wilson made $561,462 in salary and $1,237,921 in bonused.  CAO and General Counsel Maureen K. O’Connor made $493,269 in salary and $815,717 in bonuses.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield is, by law, a nonprofit. They also provide almost all the individual policies in NC and a huge chunk of employer health coverage, plus thet administer the state workers' plan. They are an effective monopoly here in North Carolina.

Wilson, in an interview with WFAE, an NPR station, said doctors are charging too much. But BCBS payscare providers a negitoated rate.

This happened a few years ago, but here's an example of what negotiations are like:

I was covering health both as an issue and as business when BCBS entered negotiations with Mission Hospitals (then Mission St. Joseph Health Care System). I got press releases every week with quotes from Greczyn about how inefficient Mission was and how they charged more than any other similar hospital in the state, possibly even in the Southeast. Mission spokespeople told me BCBS was trying to reduce the reimbursement rates, although spokespeople could not offer me specifics because of the ongoing talks. It looked for awhile as though Mission would not be in the BCBS network.

Finally, they settled and signed a contract. A couple of months later, Greczyn was in Asheville for an event at the Chamber of Commerce. I brought along a few of the press releases just in case he wanted to talk about Mission. During his remarks, he praised Mission for its efficiency and low costs. It was the exact opposite of what he had been saying during the negotiations. After he spoke, I brought the press releases over to him and asked what he thought had turned Mission around so quickly and so completely. I showed him the quotes in the press releases and he just walked away.

Again, this wasn't the current CEO; Greczyn has since retired. But this is the nature of the health insurance business. Perhaps if they had paid out less in lobbying fees to fight health care reform, they wouldn't have to lay people off and raise prices even before the provisions of this weak law take effect.





Little girls as young as 7 are entering puberty, leaving them vulnerable to depression, eating disorders, obesity, increased risk of breast cancer and other health problems.

Much of the problem is caused by our food supply. Milk and meats are laced with growth hormones, and our children ingest the hormones with the food. Burgers, milk, chicken, cheese, even ice cream and yogurt, contain the hormones, which make the animals grow faster so agribusiness can make more money with fewer animals and thereby increase their profits.

One study found that 15 percent of Latina girls, more than 10 percent of white girls, and 25 percent of black girls were beginning puberty at age 7. The study also found that by age 8, 10 percent of whites, 43 percent of Blacks and 31 percent of Latinas had entered puberty.

Another study found that girls with high exposure to plastics also tended to enter puberty earlier.Thirty years ago, my mother, a marine biologist, wrote and spoke about the damage false estrogens, which are found in many plastics, were causing damage to the striped bass population in the Chesapeake Bay. She warned that the substances would affect humans too, causing early puberty in girls and lower sperm counts in men.Our food supply is tainted by hormones, the plastics we use every day have false estrogens in them and we are being affected.

The solution? Only buy milk that says it is hormone-free on the carton. Organic is best. The same with meat. Look for labels that say no hormones or antibiotics have been added.Organic meat is more expensive, but most Americans eat far more meat than they should anyway. In fact, one study showed that the higher the content of meat in a girl's diet, the more likely she was to enter puberty early.We can control our diets better, and if big agribusiness sees it is losing share in the market, it will change its behavior eventually to stay in business. Meanwhile, eat local food whenever you can. That's what we humans were meant to do.
The three Boyd sisters. Robin, Faith and me, with Robin's husband, Tim and Faith's boyfriend, Alfred, showing off his snake-bit foot.
We celebrated Rob's 60th (thank God) birthday over the weekend with family and friends from here, New England and New Jersey and New York.

It really started Wednesday, when Faith and Alfred arrived. They were supposed to come on Thursday, but on Tuesday night, as they were camping in Deep Creek at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Alfred was bitten on the foot by a copperhead.

"I have a black-and-white image in my head of the snake's mouth open," Alfred said.

Alfred doesn't have insurance, not does he have a full-time job at the moment. He had been offered one that he was to start today, but he won't be able to start for at least a month, and I don't know if the job will still be there for him when he's back on his feet.

Even with reform, our system is very broken. Alfred repeatedly told hospital personnel that he's uninsured and everyone was very happy to work with him to try and keep costs down. He was released from the hospital early Wednesday evening with instructions to stay off the foot for four to six weeks, and they came here.

Alfred's good humor and willingness to tell the story over and over again all weekend actually made him the center of attention.

Thursday  was pretty much a day for the sisters, and we had a ball, laughing at Boyd sister inside jokes.

Friday was for the sisters and the group of friends Rob has known since he was in fourth grade, and his cousin and brother. We went out to eat and then to the drum circle...

Rob's childhood friend, Eric Tull, dances at the Asheville Friday night drum circle.
Saturday was for everyone and we had somewhere around 40 people here, eating, laughing, sitting around the campfire ... It was exactly the party Rob wanted.

Oh, and thank you to the people who contributed to Life o' Mike for Rob's birthday. We appreciate it more than you can imagine.