Archives for the month of: June, 2011

Often times when the topic of organic produce comes up, it is almost inevitable that price comes up as well. Many people think of organic as being an elitist food product and it is of course on the list of  “stuff white people like,” but it’s not all about the consumer, and it’s not even all about saving the planet. While organic may not be priced in a fiscally friendly way,  appearing snobby and not the poor man’s produce, ask any day worker who picked it  if they’d rather be picking strawberries in the beautiful fresh, clean air, or picking them surrounded by clouds of Methyl Iodide . They’d probably pick sunshine, right? So for those people who say organic is just for the rich, think again.

I bring up strawberries because the Safe Strawberry Campaign, founded by Californians for Pesticide Reform, Pesticide Watch Education Fund, Pesticide Action Network North America and the Center for Environmental Health, are calling Californians and all consumers to action, requesting that stores be held accountable for selling strawberries treated with Methyl Iodide. More than 80% of strawberries from California are sold throughout the county as consumers demand the berries both in and out of season makiing this both a local and national issue. The Safe Strawberry Campign explains:

Don’t let the pesticide industry override science. Pesticide methyl iodide causes cancer, late-term miscarriages, harms brain function and contaminates water. The country’s leading scientists have called it “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.” Methyl iodide will be used primarily on strawberries, and will have tragic consequences for farmworkers and rural communities. Despite warnings from government scientists and Nobel laureates regarding its hazards, methyl iodide was approved for agricultural use in the final moments of both the [President’s] Administration nationally, and the Schwarzenegger administration in California.

Environmentalists and animal activists, including myself, often overlook the people who are the hands behind the production. I have been brought up to be very conscious of who the farmer is that is behind the animal products I consume and have always supported local organic farmers who treat the earth and animals with respect. I, myself, am guilty, however, of being caught up in the blaming of big agriculture for the run off and mistreatment of feed lot, factory farmed animals, not even thinking about the health effects their chemicals and pesticides may have on those who are the labor on the bottom of the corporate food chain.

Last week when I posted the film The World According to Monsanto, one scene that particularly struck me, was Pedro, a young boy in Paraguay who’s health was deteriorating, starting with skin discoloration and dwindling appetite, just from walking through the feilds of Monsanto’s GMO Round Up Ready Soy Beans sprayed with Round Up. He had to walk through those fields to support his family by selling his mother’s tortillas. If that can be the effect of just walking through crops, how much worse can the effects be on workers who spray, pick, breathe, and walk all day in fields of pesticide treated fields? This got me wondering about how day laborors in the U.S. are treated.

It is unfair for big ag to present their scientific “findings” through a filter that sways the EPA to appove chemicals that have not been proven safe enough to eat and breathe without getting cancer and other illnesses. The Strawberry Campaign lists the effects of Methyl Iodide:

 Humans exposed to methyl iodide experience dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, diarrhea, slurred speech, lack of coordination, muscle convulsions — and in some cases, pulmonary edema. Listed as an EPA Hazardous Air Pollutant, methyl iodide also affects the the lungs, liver, and kidneys.

Currently the United Farm Workers of America is joining forces with the Safe Strawberry Campaign following the belief of  Cesar Chavez who said, “Why do we allow farm workers to carry the burden of pesticides on their shoulders?”

If we, the consumer, are not willing to spray it ourself or expose our loved ones, why should we expect anything less from the farm workers that keep our country fed? Especially when there are known and practiced pesticide free methods to produce beautiful, delicious strawberries.

Check out this  newscast for more info.

I just stumbled across a  documentary from 2008, “The World According to Monsanto” directed by Marie-Monique Robin. This two hour documentary is very eye opening and very disconcerting. This film may be the best illustration of Monsanto I have seen in all of the GMO documentaries I have seen on the subject of their lack of corporate responsibility. It covers Monsanto’s effects on not just the United States, but the global community as a whole. Check it out.

Being in your 20s, you may often find yourself bombarded with questions like: what do you want to do with your life? If you’re dating someone you may get the question: when are you getting married?

I get all of those questions, but one of the ones I got not too long ago kind of caught me off guard. I was asked by one of my mom’s friends, “Why aren’t you a member of Weston A. Price?” The question seemed simple. It was refreshing to get a question that wasn’t about making life decisions, but the question was then followed up, “We need more people your age to join so you can start eating right, and when you start having babies you can bring them up on healthy food and show people how it’s done.”

This woman, all be it my mother’s friend, does not fall into the baby boomers category. She is a tall, beautiful, blond haired, blue eyed 30 something mother of 2 equally beautiful toddlers. She is (hopefully) me in 10 years.

Most 20 somethings are trying not to get pregnant right now. Most women my age are on the pill (which has many harmful risks!) and doing everything in their power to not get pregnant! Having babies just doesn’t fit into the schedule or financial picture at this point in most of our lives. But it happens.

It’s crazy to think, but women who have the potential to have children anytime in the near future, need to be thinking about what they put in their bodies! Pregnant women need to think about their diets, and they do! Pregnant women are constantly agonizing over which cheese is okay to eat, they only order decaf, and often change their eating habits completely! Having a detoxified body during pregnancy, however, can only do so much. From the moment the egg is formed (before you’re pregnant), that’s when we need to be thinking about what is going in our bodies!

If you don’t like babies and are determined to never create little monsters or are an amazing environmentalist who doesn’t want to add to the ever increasing global population that puts stress on our ever dwindling resources, fine. Eat what you want and retox to your heart’s content. But for those of us who hope to one day experience the life of an incubator and push a little sea monkey out, we have some responsibility to keep our body clean.

So, whether or not you actually join Weston A. Price and accept their tradition based diet, think about moving towards a cleaner diet filled with whole foods, lots of raw veggies and fruits, and maybe even adding green smoothies into your daily routine. Even if you don’t have a baby any time soon, I’m sure you will feel 100% healthier and more energetic, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

There has been some press this week about people in Wisconsin and Michigan getting sick from rare bacteria that is rarely found in raw milk. I want to stress that raw milk does have benefits, and the people who are consuming raw milk are doing so consciously. There is always a risk, yes, but the benefits out weigh the potential risks almost all of the time. Please remember, too, that most milk that is being pasteurized is filthy milk that has to be pasteurized. So would you prefer dirty, processed milk, or clean, healthy milk that has a very low risk factor?

Here’s a video with Mark McAfee, from Organic Pastures dairy in California, talking about why he produces and sells raw milk. It’s because the consumer wants it. At any price. And the results have the potential to be life changing.

The new USDA "my plate" is replacing the food pyramid

For the first time in years (or so it seems) the government is moving towards a more accurate representation of what Americans’ dinner plates should look like! The increase in vegetables over grains is the most apparent beneficial change. However, www.choosemyplate.gov, still has a way to go before it is no longer representing the marketing ploys of big dairy and food processors in the U.S.

Under “Foods to Increase” the USDA states, “Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.”  This goes against research that shows that it is important to have fats in the diet! Good fats are what makes our hearts, brains, and bodies healthy! Remember, fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does!

Dr. Mercola’s article addressing the lack of animal fat represented in this new nutritional guideline says:

[Animal fats] act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes. To get these healthy saturated fats in your diet, you need to eat animal foods like butter and other full-fat raw dairy products and eggs, but these foods are still demonized by the establishment.

So, when you have unprocessed products, everything is there! Raw milk doesn’t need to be fortified like most pasteurized store brands because it’s already in there!

“My Plate” also says, “Make at least half your grains whole grains.” If every single chef, personal trainer, and mom out there is telling us, “Don’t eat processed food (i.e. junk food),” so why is the USDA telling us it’s okay? Why isn’t the entire serving of grains supposed to be whole grains? A mention of sprouted grains would be even better! Someone once told me their trainer said, “If God made it, it’s okay to eat. If man changed it, we need to look into it first.” The same should always go for your grains!

Another fact to be wary of is the amount of sugar found in fruits. Fruits are wonderful, especially raw. They are delicious, most have high water content, live active enzymes when raw, and antioxidants to boot, but they are also mother nature’s candy. Fruits have lots of fructose! Naturally sweetened, yes, but they are still high in fructose which is one of the leading causes of obesity, cancer and other diet related epidemics in the U.S. So, if fruit is the only source of fructose you’re consuming, great! But if you like your daily Frappuccino, try making them a rare treat (check out the sugar on the nutritional info! Yowza!) and make sure you’re replacing those fruits with veggies!

That being said, please, please, please buy local, organic produce! When veggies and fruits are increased in your diet, so is the potential threat to increase your pesticide consumption!  Almost everywhere has a farmer’s market near by during the warmer seasons. These are a great place to try new things, meet new people, and that is part of what makes the food taste so darn yummy! When you eat out, you don’t always have the option to eat organic, but if you do your research you can find awesome restaurants that do support the Slow Food movement and offer delicious creations! Local is also important since buying produce from half a world away requires fossil fuel to get it to your local supermarket. It’s all about decreasing your eco-footprint!

Eat consciously, eat healthy, eat happily, eat wholesomely!

GMOs are a huuge deal in the US right now. We, as consumers, have little to no idea of what is GMO. Companies don’t need to put it on the ingredients label. You can also believe that any conventional, non-organic milk has GMOs, too!

Cows did not evolve to eat corn, but today’s feed lot and factory farming set-ups, feed cows corn, making them sick. Do you really want to drink milk from a sick cow?

Check out this video, get smart, and find a rally near you this fall!

Here is a link to the Weston A. Price’s coverage of Mark Nolt’s case. It has a lot of information, but it shows how the Pennsylvania laws are making it more and more difficult for small farmers, even those whose families have been farming and selling privately for years.

Imagine the position of Mrs. Nolt, enduring the sight of her husband carried away in the back seat of a police cruiser. The officers refused to tell her where they were taking him. Then she and her ten children had to stand by once again while the officers went through their cheese shop and store, taking food meant to feed many families, including their own. Fortunately, Mark was released after the hearing, and he returned to the farm on foot rather than accept a ride in a police car. (Weston A. Price)

Luckily, Mark knows his rights and will be seeing to it that those rights are upheld. He also has the support of many of his customers and raw milk activists who are giving PA milk regulators an ear full!

Mark and friends standing outside the court house

 

Here is the trailor for new documentary by Kristin Canty called “Farmageddon.” It is currently being screened in selected theatres before hitting the big screen this fall. It is a great representation of what is going on out there, especially in the raw milk movement. I have even had the pleasure of meeting Mark Nolt, the brave Meninite farmer in Pennsylvania who has been raided and terrorized on many occasions. I hope you enjoy the trailor and get a chance to see the full documentary soon!

Hello.

Everyone has their food wars. Some parents fight to have their kids eat their veggies. Some people fight their sugar cravings. Some people have to fight for information about ingredients to make sure that they won’t break out in hives. My family has become part of the fight against strict government regulations of small farmers, just for the right to buy the food that we want.

I grew up in a household that was pretty “normal.” We ate Cheerios, my dad always had Pepsi in the house, and Dove was my mom’s favorite candy bar. But after Cheerios reported a pesticide scare and my mom, after hours on hold and talking to supervisors,  couldn’t get the information on whether or not my box was contaminated, there was a change in the pantry. No more General Mills. Then, after 3 years abroad for work, my family realized the food here in the U.S. didn’t taste as good. It was much more processed. My mom started shopping at Fresh Fields (now Whole Foods) and organic became a requirement to make it on our pantry and refrigerator shelves.

Soon, in highschool, my mom joined The Weston A. Price Foundation and discovered the beneficial qualities of raw milk.

The short version here is: When milk goes through the pasteurization process, both the bad and GOOD bacteria are killed off. The good bacteria is what makes it easy for our bodies to breakdown nutrients and digest milk in a beneficial way and the good definitely out weighs the miniscule chance of there being bad bacteria. So raw milk from clean facilities is super healthy and puts less stress on your digestive system.

My mom’s milk source in Maryland was shut down (it is illegal to buy, sell, or distribute raw milk in the state of Maryland). It also happens to be illegal to bring raw milk into Maryland over state lines. So the only option my mom saw was to become a milk smuggler and she has been ever since.

Our  fight has since grown from just raw milk and is now also grass-fed, free range animals, and getting away from unlabled GMOs. These are all healthy, happy, conscious foods. Why our government wants to make it harder and more expensive for us to purchase these items, I don’t understand, but hopefully as the movement grows and Americans become for concerned with what they are actually putting in their bodies, we will see a change in small business agriculture.