Book Review: Composting Inside and Out–14 Methods to Fit Your Lifestyle

By Stephanie Davies, The Urban Worm Girl
(Pub. by Better Way Home, 2011)

Before reading Stephanie Davies’ book, I have to admit, I was not composting. Though I had often discussed composting with my husband; as an agronomist and biology teacher, this was his “turf” and he was not going to add one more responsibility to our busy schedule. I am sure his idea of a composting was from childhood—one of those big piles you had to turn in your backyard that was a huge eyesore. This would not work in our neighborhood and he simply was not interested in another job.

Wanting to participate as a steward of building good soil, I was excited to learn of this new book. From cover to cover, Stephanie makes it absolutely clear that there is a method of composting that will suit anyone in any living arrangement—including a high-rise apartment in downtown New York!  Simply put, composting is essential to healing our soil—the most basic nutrient of our planet and we need everyone to join in.

Outdoor composting ranges from traditional piles to bin systems, tumblers and specialty systems like the three-chamber composter, the hot composter and the digester. The beauty of enclosed outdoor composting is that it is discreet, efficient and can easily be done year round.

Composting in the city apartment? No problem! There are excellent indoor composting systems like the NatureMill and Bokashi. She explains, “The NatureMill automatic compost bin is essentially a standard kitchen appliance that composts. It’s low maintenance and no installation is required.” Unlike most outdoor systems, these indoor types accept all kitchen scraps including meat, fish and dairy.

Although most of us have conceived of the benefits of establishing healthy worm populations outdoors, I was thoroughly inspired by the many possibilities of creating an indoor worm bin as another method of maximizing our contribution to the soil.

Ms. Davies’ most unique contribution is her business, Urban Worm Girl, established in 2008, which has helped to install hundreds of residential worm bins throughout the country.  Among her accolades, she has been featured at the Green Festival in Chicago in 2009 and 2010 as well as in the Chicago Tribune, ABC7 in Chicago, Edible Chicago and Library Life TV. Stephanie presents interactive workshops on vermi-composting and other forms of composting, speaking regularly at schools, garden clubs, farmers markets and within private homes.

“As Urban Worm Girl, I educate the public about the wisdom of the red wiggler composting worm. I also sell worms by the pound and all the necessary worm bin equipment. Selling worms often feels like trafficking illegal substances. Weighing out the product, bagging it up and packing it in a nondescript bag for delivery seems questionable. Even to me, at times. I often make “the drop” where it will be convenient for my clients and in a way that minimizes the need for a third party, such as the postal service. Parking lots, city parks during kids’ baseball games, grocery stores on a Sunday afternoon, or the front or back porch of someone’s home has often been the scene of the “crime.”

Her book includes a wonderful section describing her many unusual experiences with helping people set up worm bins called, Real People, Real Worms: The Adventures of the Urban Worm Girl. As she states, “In the beginning, I was nervous to show up at a stranger’s house or in a random parking lot, but now I treasure these unique moments. Who will be on the other end of the deal? Usually it’s a very interesting individual with whom I share a very specific common interest: worms!

If you haven’t set up a composting system, this book will inspire you to do so. It details every aspect of this important principle and invites us to engage in the critical effort of soil revitalization—one of our planet’s most fundamental needs.  See for more information about vermicomposting education, worm bins, red wiggler worms, bedding and “know how.”

Review by Kathryne Pirtle

Stephanie Davies is one of the most gifted and sought-after occupational therapists in the Chicago area. She is a brilliant ally of top performing artists in orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony and the Lyric Opera Orchestra, helping many musicians heal from complicated, career-threatening injuries. She is also deeply involved with nutrition based on the work of Weston A. Price.

Review: What About Immunizations? Exposing the Vaccine Philosophy

Review: What About Immunizations? Exposing the Vaccine Philosophy
by Cynthia Cournoyer (Pub. 2010, Better Books Publishing)

Many people spend more time researching what color paint to put on their walls, what brand of car to buy, or what vacation package they should choose compared to studying what issues surround vaccination policy and the possible dangers vaccinations pose to the health of their child. Many are not aware that the number of children suffering vaccine damage is escalating exponentially alongside the increase in the vaccination schedule. Most also do not consider that a vaccine will inject foreign DNA and toxins into their child’s body, which can play havoc on their sensitive immune system. Yet, while other medicines and products on the market are held accountable to safety standards, because of the “vaccine philosophy,” a term coined by the author, vaccines do not receive this same scrutiny and are believed safe and effective with the benefits outweighing the risks. It is this philosophy that promotes vaccines blindly and prevents honest inquiry into the possible harmful effects of vaccine policies.

Consequently when people are told by their doctors that they must follow the vaccination schedule, open disclosure of the risks is not forthcoming. Additionally, schools have become the check point of vaccination compliance, and unless the parent knows that they can sign a religious or philosophical exemption, that child will not be allowed to attend school. Therefore it has been entirely up to parents and independent researchers to do their own inquiry into vaccines. What About Immunizations? Exposing the Vaccine Philosophy is a thorough guide to the history, efficacy, research practices, policy protocol and political issues surrounding vaccines.

Fortunately, our society is questioning the entire medical paradigm. Cournoyer points to two opposing health approaches that will lead to completely different practices of health care. When Dr. Weston A. Price studied healthy populations worldwide, he found that their immunity to all disease was due to the nutrient-density of their diets. This is completely in line with the research of French physiologist, Claude Bernard who found that germs and disease would only proliferate if the immune system was weakened—that the general condition of the body was the underlying reason for disease. In conjunction, French biologist, Antoine Bechamp discovered that microorganisms are constantly developing into bacteria. If the tissue is healthy, they will provide life support for the cells. However, if the cells are weakened, they will produce diseased microorganisms, which may evolve into a pathogenic state. Likewise, Hannah Allen, author of Don’t Get Stuck: The Case Against Vaccinations and Injections, argued that diseased microbes are a product of the level of health of the host.

To the contrary, Louis Pasteur believed that germs caused the disease. Yet, on his deathbed, he admitted that “Bernard was right. The seed is nothing, the soil is everything.” Hannah Allen comments, “But like the third automobile, which was the proximate cause of the collision but proceeded on its way with impunity, Pasteur envisioned the truth in the 1880s and abandoned the germ theory, leaving the early immature and erroneous theory to be developed, fostered, and perpetuated by others, the ultimate irony. The mischief, medical misunderstanding and error continue to this day, and the price is incalculable.”

Cournoyer shows us how vaccines were developed in support of Pasteur’s principles. She points however to the poor track record they have had in preventing disease. First, the aspect that vaccines create true immunity to a disease has never been accurately proven. Historically, epidemics have come and gone naturally, often due to societal changes in sanitation and true herd immunity—immunity created over time, by large groups of people recovering from cases of the actual disease. This was true with diseases like small pox, polio and diphtheria. These diseases declined in unvaccinated populations as fast as in highly vaccinated countries. Yet, vaccines were given the credit. In fact, many diseases made a resurgence when the vaccine was implemented.

Vaccines were embraced because of the knowledge that having a moderate form of the disease would procure life-long immunity. However, this permanent kind of immunity and that from receiving a vaccination do not yield the same result. A vaccination injects a weakened form of the disease in the body to provoke an immune response. Thus, the reason why vaccines are reported to work is that they have the ability to raise antibody levels, and this is acknowledged as an indication of protection from the disease. Cournoyer counters this and explains that research proves that this type of immune response may give a false immunity and be permanently weakening the body’s immune system, especially considering the increase in the number of recommended vaccines. This is blatantly evident when you study vaccine efficacy records, which reveal that there is a proportion of people that become ill with diseases for which they have been vaccinated. Additionally there are more children who have chronic illness of all kinds than ever before in history. Given that vaccines challenge immune function, are we creating a population of children susceptible to lifelong illness?

The book further analyzes that we are vaccinating people for diseases for which there is little danger. In countries where there are fewer vaccines, there is no higher incidence of the diseases for which they do not vaccinate against.

Not only is vaccine efficacy dubious, today, the risk for vaccine damage has significantly increased. While more vaccines are added to the mandated schedule every year, reports of vaccine side effects and injury such as fever, rash, drowsiness, fretfulness, vomiting, persistent crying, pallor, coldness, hyporesponsiveness, malaise, convulsions, heart or kidney disorders, erythema, arthralgias, encephalitis or even death are becoming more frequent.

Encephalitis is the primary cause of autism and autism is affecting one in 105 children in our country today! Yet the FDA, medical authorities and the media attempts to convince us that vaccines have not played a role in this epidemic. Cournoyer states that “The primary cause of encephalitis in the United States and other industrialized countries is the childhood vaccination program. Sometimes studies will claim that a vaccine is safe because recipients are not subject to any more encephalitis than the general population. That statement is troubling because our general population is up to 100% vaccinated upon school entry. You cannot compare a vaccinated population with a vaccinated control group and hope to find scientific data.” One must ask, can any widespread medical intervention be considered for “the greater good” when the risk for injury is ever increasing and the track record of effectiveness so poor?

The vaccination policy in other countries has become quite disturbing and makes one question the real motives behind the push for the development of more vaccines. In July, 2011, the  Malawi Voice reported that a “group of families who took their children out of the country, to Mozambique, to avoid the free measles vaccine that was being distributed, were rounded up by police and vaccinated at gunpoint upon returning to the country.

“The vaccine safety/choice community has been hearing reports of this happening in Africa for more than a year now, but this is the first official story that I have heard thus far and thus been able to report. In this case the District Health Officer himself, Dr. Matchaya, freely admitted to the newspaper that this was done.

“According to Dr. Medison Matchaya District Health Officer for Nsanje, medics went to vaccinate the children in Nsanje under police escort.

“We were alerted that some children who were hiding in Mozambique were back in the country and we asked police to escort the health officials in order to vaccinate them and we have managed to vaccinate about 131 children,” said Matchaya.

Ginger Taylor, contributing author of the book Vaccine Epidemic commented on this story in her blog, Adventures in Autism, saying:

Wanna know the difference between my vaccine injured son and let’s say, a child in a small African village who suffers a vaccine encephalopathy? In our house we have doors with locks on them to keep him safe inside, and school systems that are legally obligated to serve him. Take a moment and imagine what it would be like to try to keep your neurologically impaired child alive in rural Africa for a month or two. Just watched a short documentary about a new neurological illness befalling children in one African village. Parents have to tie their children to the side of their homes with a rope to prevent them from walking away and dying. That is how they live their entire lives.

Cournoyer reports that vaccine policy is riddled with corruption and conflicts of interest. The vaccine program must therefore be brought to test by independent investigation.  By all indications, protecting health is not its true guiding principle.

The author persuades each person to carefully engage in the issues regarding vaccines. Parents are the most knowledgeable advocate for the health of their own children and must trust their instincts in knowing what is best. If vaccines are not proving to be the answer to preventing disease and may in fact be causing more harm than good, can we afford the repercussions of a society of severely ill people?

Harry Truman’s statement, “A nation is only as healthy as its children,” is a chilling prediction. We as a nation must heed this wisdom and prepare to make changes in our perception of what truly will build the health of our children.

It is time to look at strategies that have a track record of building health. It is therefore appropriate for the Germ Theory that has fostered vaccination development, to take a back seat. If we heed the wisdom of Dr. Weston A. Price, Claude Bernard, Antoine Bechamp and Hannah Allen, building the immune system with excellent nutrition can provide us with the underlying principles necessary for reestablishing the health of our society.

By Kathryne Pirtle

About Cynthia Cournoyer:

Newly revised and updated seventh edition, Cynthia has been writing about the vaccine controversy for nearly 30 years. This guide to the vaccination decision was released in December of 2010. It is available on Amazon and through her website,

Injury Prevention and Healing with Structural Symmetry Work

My book, Performance without Pain, focuses on nutrient-dense nutrition that can heal and prevent inflammation and build optimal health. Although superior nutrition is the cornerstone of injury prevention, working on structural symmetry is essential to pain-free movement.

Some people are more likely to have trouble with pain caused from asymmetry. Musicians and athletes often need to perform their work with repetitive asymmetrical motions. Many people do daily activities that require a constant uneven use of the muscles in the body.

Interestingly, females are more susceptible to asymmetrical structural changes because of  the tremendous amount of flexibility in the tendons and ligaments of the pelvic floor which allow for childbirth. After a woman has children, she may experience a structural alteration that over time will cause pain.

While many people work with holistic practitioners such as chiropractors and massage therapists to alleviate pain, unless an underlying asymmetrical structural problem is addressed, the discomfort will immediately return. It is therefore critical to be aware that when you have  a constant return of a particular pain, it would be wise to seek a different approach to your treatment regimen.

As a clear example, 8 years ago, after having two children, I developed a pain in my left hip when walking. I knew it was caused by a muscular tightening and not inflammation, because I had no injury and my diet was completely anti-inflammatory. Over the course of a few years I tried many common treatments such as chiropractic, muscle activation, exercises like squatting and massage therapy. These approaches seemed to help but the pain kept returning. Additionally,  for three years in a row, I sprained muscles on only the right side of my body–my sacroiliac joint, the last rib of my rib cage and this year, my abdominal muscles while playing the clarinet! Had I continued  playing my instrument and spraining the muscles of my abdominal wall, I knew I may become seriously injured.

I knew this was not normal. Sprained muscles on only the right side? Spraining abdominal muscles while playing the clarinet? What was wrong?

I decided to work with a trainer who did corrective exercise and work on symmetry. Unfortunately, while asymmetry was the problem, he did not understand the extent of my issue either.

Fortunately, my colleagues suggested I work with Stephanie Davies at SD Rehab in Chicago. She is superior occupational therapist who successfully treats high level musicians in the Chicago Symphony and the Lyric Opera. She also helps people with many other complicated physical therapy issues.

Through working with Stephanie, we concluded that my spine was twisting caused from a change in the pelvic floor after childbirth. Thus I had developed a diagonal support in my body structure. The tell tale sign was that my left foot was turned out when I lay flat because my entire leg had turned out from a structural alteration after childbirth and carrying children in my right arm. Therefore my left hip hurt and eventually as my spine twisted more and more, my rib cage was asymmetrical and the ribs on the left side of my body stopped moving properly. When I exhaled, the right side of my ribs moved unequally to the left side and created a strain to the muscles on my right abdominal wall, eventually causing a muscle sprain. Additionally, as I twisted more, my left collar bone was pressing on the nerves in my left arm, making it feel weak.

Stephanie opened a textbook detailing this disorder which exhibited a red path outlining a strained muscle pattern starting from the left foot, running up the outside of the left leg and hip and crossing over to the right torso area. As you can imagine, finding the underlying cause to this issue was a huge relief! The treatment will take some time however. First, the muscles in my left leg had to be restructured to allow my foot to step straight forward while walking. Then the muscles in my left rib cage had to be activated. I then had to work on getting my left rib cage moving for every exhale equally with the right which initially caused me to twist back to the right as if undoing a knot! Lastly I have a whole series of exercises that will strengthen the correct structure and alignment of the pelvic wall.

A twisting spine is a form of scoliosis and is not only common for women after childbirth, but also for violinists and violists who often twist their body to play their instrument. In fact,  a close colleague of mine who was a child prodigy violinist can no longer play without pain because of this issue and must do constant physical therapy as his spine was twisting at a formative age and it has been much more difficult to achieve a permanent correction.

From this experience, I feel it is critical to seek a highly skilled physical or occupational therapist if you have a muscular pain that persists that is not totally solved by nutrient-dense nutrition and your current treatment choices. It could mean the difference of  progression of the disorder or finding the underlying cause and permanently correcting the problem.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.