Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

As an only child, animals were my best friends, and I spent most of my days in their company, especially the horses. We always seemed drawn to each other. Like moths to a flame, we were kindred spirits, friends, companions, teachers, mentors, protectors. As I grew older, any social situation would find me looking for the nearest critter for comfort and company. When I am with animals, the rest of the world is blocked out. We are in our own private little space with no slings or arrows, no lies, just communication on a level that surpasses words. A connection that is eternal and from the soul. No games. No words getting in the way. Just pure soul to soul communication…

It was a crisp morning. The kind that makes you shiver as you slide out of bed and hit the cold, hard floor. Tension was in the air as the riders, gathered from all over the world, got ready for the ride of their lives – the Western States Trail Ride, or Tevis.


The Western States Trail Ride, popularly called the Tevis Cup Ride, is the oldest modern day endurance ride, having been held annually since 1955. As such, it has been the inspiration and model for the most challenging endurance rides worldwide.

The ride was first organized by Wendell Robie, an Auburn businessman and devoted rider of the Sierra high country. Many people in the 50s doubted that any modern-day horse could cover the rugged trail from Lake Tahoe to Auburn in a single day. Wendell and a few of his friends proved them wrong in August of 1955. He continued to hold the ride annually thereafter and organized the Western States Trail Foundation to preserve the 100 mile trail and the Ride.

Barb and Tani 1991

I spent years conditioning myself and my horse to endure the most difficult endurance ride in the world – the Tevis, and when we finished, Tani’s tail was high in the air as she pranced around the vet check arena. I was exhausted but proud. We had done it. Years of study regarding nutrition, genetics, musculature, confirmation, digestive systems, nervous systems, skeletal systems, respiratory systems, and that was only for the horse, had reaped a sound mare at the end of the ride.

We won. Not because we came in first, because we didn’t. In fact, we came in right under the wire. But because we undertook an immense, seemingly impossible task and finished it together. We charted the course and stayed it.

I would like to say that we never lost sight of the finish line, but have to admit that there was a time during the last half of the ride at the bottom of the California Loop in the middle of a pitch black night with a 3000 ft drop on my left and a sheer mountain on the right, when I broke down crying, but out of nowhere, another rider appeared and we bucked up and tailed her right on out of there, to finish with nary a scratch. So we trotted around the finishing arena, I grabbed the nearest beer, loaded Tani and tack and left for the awards ceremony with my one man crew. No time to sleep, it was buckle time. A shiny reminder of a dream accomplished that day.

How was it done? Practice. Intense attention to detail. Knowledge of my horse, tack, and feed. I broke down my horse’s nutritional requirements and hand-mixed her feed to her exact needs. I mixed her electrolytes so that she would have adequate hydration without added chemicals.

With all this attention to detail about my horse’s feed and nutrition, how could I not have an intense interest in what goes into my own body? We were a team, and we worked together. If I wasn’t fit, it would affect my horse, and her health was top priority, so I made sure to keep myself in good condition by eating as healthy as I could. Eating healthy was easier back then.

That was before 1996 when we didn’t really have to worry about GMOs or nanotechnology…

From the peak of health to genetically modified hell and back

Then, a few years later, something changed. It took some time for the effects to accumulate and for my once healthy body to succumb, but it did.

In 2005, I experienced something that rocked my world. It started with an itch about halfway between my right knee and ankle, on the side of my leg. I inspected the area, and saw a couple of small bumps that looked like pimples. By the next day, the affected area had grown from just these few bumps to a dime-sized area filled with them. The itching increased. I sloughed it off to some sort of allergic reaction that would go away shortly. It didn’t. In fact, it grew to the point of keeping me awake at night.

When scratched, the bumps oozed clear liquid. I can best describe what this turned into as the worst case of poison oak rash that anyone has ever endured. This rash spread all the way up my leg to my shoulders, and included the other leg as well. There seemed to be no relief in sight. I got so desperate to ease the itching that I actually bathed in bleach. This DID NOT help. In fact, it only made things worse. Antibiotics did not work, fungicides did not work, steroid creams did not work. NOTHING worked. I was desperate.

What had changed? Why were the foods that I had been eating to keep me at optimum health not doing the job? Why was I sick?

GMSproutFlames FINALB copyI finally determined that the food I was eating must have something to do with it and stopped eating, drinking my pure well water only. The itching seemed to subside. Quite frankly, after making this connection, I was scared to eat! This couldn’t go on for long, so after hunger took over, I slowly started introducing foods into my diet, one item at a time.

It should be noted that during this time, I was told about genetically modified foods (GMOs) and started doing some research. I checked out the labels of all of the processed foods in my kitchen, and found that almost all of them contained known GM ingredients such as corn, soy, beet sugar, and milk containing rBGH hormone. Could this be the cause of my affliction?

Yup. Genetically engineered foods (GMO) soaked in Glyphosate. That was the difference between what I had been eating before and during the Tevis in 1991, and the food that I was eating since GMOs were produced for the open market in 1996 and declared generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. So, it was goodbye to GMOs.

The first foods I started eating were raw fruits and veggies, non-GMO. I had no reaction. So, I added fruit juices without sweetener, tea, and a little coffee. No reaction. I was on the right track. During this time, I lost almost 70 lbs., and looked like a refugee from Auschwitz. But I didn’t itch. And the rash was going away. When the rash got to the point of being bearable, I started experimenting. I tried items that I knew had a very high possibility of containing GMOs. I immediately started itching, and the rash got worse. Cause and effect. When I stopped eating the contaminated food, the itching subsided and the rash got better. I tried this with several foods, one at a time, and sure enough, each one that was most certainly GM, I had a reaction.

Since this discovery it has been a long road back to health using raw goat’s milk, homemade kefir, organic fruits and veggies, and coming to a strict understanding with those around me that no GMOs will cross these lips. This puts me at odds with those who do not understand the implications of a genetically modified world and its consequences on health and wellness. But that is okay, because I am ultimately responsible for what I do and say, not what they do and say. I cannot force change, I can only be the change that I want to see. One drop, dropping continuously, can work its way through rock, and one step at a time gets you through the ride.

It is much too easy to get overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable odds if all you see is the giant. I have banned GMOs from my diet, no matter what those around me do or say. It is a personal matter that takes place twixt the fork and the mouth. If we want to finish the ride, we have to get serious and start with our own cupboards. If it’s GMO, it’s history, labeled or not. Our health and wellbeing depend on it.

Crossing the finish line

When I did the Tevis I took it one step at a time. It took years of training, and I went through the ride paying attention to every detail and not straying from what I had learned. We completed it. When I say we, I mean my horse partner and me. It’s an experience that changes you fundamentally. Now I view each day as another mile on the trail to the finish.

I have no room for lies, half-truths or falsehoods, as they will not help me get through this life’s journey to the finish with my tail held high. It’s my life and my choice to be healthy, not the responsibility of any deceptive corporation with profit as its primary motive for existence. It is my choice alone to finish the ride, to do all that I can do to prepare and support that which is good, and if my experiences can help others, so be it.

My experience is that Glyphosate-soaked genetically engineered foods are killing us, and they need to be banned from the food supply. If I had been eating GMOs I would not have been healthy enough to complete the Tevis. I would not have made it to the finish line. The lies would have taken me down.

Now that I know what GMOs are and what they do, I intend to share my experience with as many as will listen, because it’s not just about food. It’s about freedom. It’s about the freedom to eat something that is not going to make us sick. It’s about the fortitude to take responsibility for our lives and just say no to the GMO pushers. They lie for a living. They sell untruth for profit and laugh all the way to the bank. But ultimately, they cannot win, because when we wade through the dark recesses of this life and finally reach the finish line, we will find that all untruths cease to exist as they were never real to begin with, and the winners will stand, head held high, knowing that they gave it all and that giving up and giving in was never an option.

It’s about drawing a line in the sand with each and every decision that is made. It’s about not compromising with those around you who do not have your best interests at heart, and staying the path because a journey filled with truth, rejecting the lie my friend, is the ultimate victory. You don’t have to come in first, you just have to finish with your tail in the air, prancing around the arena. And that requires being GMO-Free.

Just Ban It 2

©2014 Barbara H. Peterson

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3 Responses to “From the Tevis to GMO Hell and Back”

  1. Adelle du Plooy - 13246152 says:

    My mother checks labels now and it is astounding how many foods we eat that we consider to be a health food has GMO, soy (probably GMO) and additives that we can’t pronounce. I am a first year university student (BSc Agri Plant and Soil} and I hope that I can make a difference in my future consulting business bringing awareness of earth-friendly practices.

  2. Glenda says:

    Stay away from what they call table salt. What ever it has been treated with I have horrible reaction. The canning and pickling salt works just fine. Anything that is in the stores was once made at home. I do NOT buy anything that has been processed

  3. Michael Smith says:

    Awesome article and very inspiring. I’m on the same page about not eating GMOs: I only eat organic produce I buy from local farmer’s markets and vendors I have known for years and eat 100% grass fed lamb or bison (non-gmo) from ranches that I know the owners. (I do not even juice or eat any grains, nor do animals I eat.) I too do not have time for “lies, half-truths or falsehoods” or other “fairy tales” that are handed to us by the media / gov’t / education system.

    Sincere thanks for sticking to your guns and staying on course for the rest of us to follow. And thanks for all the great articles over the years. Keep it up!

    With much appreciation for what you do….

    Michael Smith