The emergence of the plum pox virus is one reason scientists have created the genetically modified (GM) HoneySweet plum, making it one of only two USDA approved GM fruit trees.
The emergence of the plum pox virus is one reason scientists have created the genetically modified (GM) HoneySweet plum, making it one of only two USDA approved GM fruit trees.
Read More:USDA Decision Nears on Deregulation of Genetically Modified Plums
In a covert 2010 investigation titled “Operation Safe Seafood”, GotMercury.org, a non-profit advocacy group working to protect people and the environment from mercury, revealed startling levels of the toxin found in fish served in restaurants and grocery stores across California. The recently released report also noted negligent restaurants and retailers who did not post visible warning signs about mercury prone seafood, which is especially risky for pregnant women and children.Read More:Alarming Levels of Mercury Found in California Fish
There are two sides to every story.
I’d like to call your attention to a hot debate sparked by my blog post Corporate-Backed and Bogus: The Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. If you haven’t done so, read it now to check out the range of opinions and responses on this important topic.
Charlotte Vallaeys, Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute and her colleagues oppose The Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement as it stands.
Charlotte weighed in on comments from a supporter of The Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and member of the Western Growers Association, an organization that, according to its website, provides ‘quality services and programs that benefit and enhance the competitiveness of its members in the Arizona and California fresh produce industry.’
Check out the debate for yourself:
Western Growers Association: No one is guaranteeing the safety of anything; however, the program aims t o develop scientifically defensible, regionally-based growing, handling and manufacturing practices – developed by a coalition of stakeholders including government entities, academics and the industry. These practices have NOT been developed. This proposal sets up the infrastructure by which a coalition of stakeholders can come to the table and develop those practices. Indeed, there is currently no way of guaranteeing that fresh leafy greens are 100% safe as scientists do not yet have a clear understanding of food borne pathogens on leafy greens.
Cornucopia: Our main concern is with the “coalition of stakeholders” that would oversee the development and implementation of the rules. Most members on the committee (19 of 23) will be handlers and growers, and 17 of those 19 will likely represent the large-scale, corporate leafy greens industry. The committee members that are not growers or handlers will include a retail industry representative, a food service industry representative, a member of the public and an importer.
There will be a separate committee that will assist the Administrative Committee in developing the rules, which will indeed be required to include academics and government entities, including a National Resource Conservation Service representative and a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is very positive. But ultimately, it is the Administrative Committee that holds the power to make the rules (see section 970.49 of the proposal). Just to reiterate, this Committee will consist of industry representatives with no academics or government representatives.
Western Growers Association: The proposal, as is currently drafted would require that at least two “small” growers participate in the development of these practices.
Cornucopia: This is a token representation of “small” growers who will not have real power. A two-thirds majority will be needed on important votes, and with 23 members, the two “small” representatives will not be able to influence policy or the outcome of a vote.
Western Growers Association: The “seal” is to be used primarily on bills of lading. California and Arizona have had a similar program in place for multiple years now; has anyone seen a USDA-approved “seal” on any of the leafy greens in the market? No. The seal is used on bills of lading so retailers know that the product in question was handled and grown according to the practices outlined in those state’s agreements.
Cornucopia: There is currently nothing in the proposal that would prevent signatories from extending the use of this seal beyond bills of lading and manifests. There is no prohibition against using the seal on packaging visible to the consumer, and it will probably be only a matter of time before the seal is used as a marketing tool. It is, after all, a Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.
Western Growers Association: Regarding transparency, there was an open comment period on the need for USDA to pursue a marketing agreement about a year ago. There has been a Web site – www.nlgma.com – on-line for about a year calling for stakeholders to provide comments on the proposal. Many of those comments and suggestions have been added to the proposed agreement. Furthermore, the proposed NLGMA has been prominently covered on the USDA AMS site. There was a Webinar where proponents explained the proposal and answered every question offered up by the more than 200 attendees, nationwide (the Webinar along with those questions and answers are available at www.nlgma.com). A large group of regional, state and national proponents have been communicating this process with their respective constituents for more than a year. The proponents called for, and USDA granted, a series of public hearings, across the nation, (which are ongoing) to discuss the merits of the proposal. I am not sure how this process could be more transparent.
Cornucopia: I don’t believe that lack of transparency is a concern listed in the blog post.
Western Growers Association: There are a handful of different “metrics” or standards out there, and many of them are very costly. The entire industry needs to work toward one set of practices, defensible by sound science, which can replace those “super metrics” being handed down by the buying community. The National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement would afford stakeholders that opportunity.
Cornucopia: The problem is that the proposed Marketing Agreement would put the power to develop the metrics in the hands of 23 people, most of whom will be representatives of large-scale handlers and growers. Food safety is a serious issue, and any government regulation for food safety should be done with the citizens’ safety in mind. Industry representatives will be serving two masters—citizens’ need for safe food, and their industry’s interests. The likelihood that the resulting standards will be self-serving to their industry, disregarding the needs of other stakeholders (such as small growers) are much higher than if government agencies, staffed by public servants, were charged with developing the rules.
Western Growers Association: Lastly, this program is voluntary. If producers do not want to participate, they do not have to.
Cornucopia: It is voluntary for handlers, but not for growers. If most handlers sign up, growers will be left to choose between following the metrics or not being able to sell their crops unless they find a handler who is not a signatory.
What do you think? Let us know and let’s keep the conversation going!Read More:Safer Foods, Great Debates and The Battle for Pure Leafy Greens
Sushi is a very sheik thing to eat. Celebrities love it. Today, sushi is synonymous with New York City and Los Angeles.
Bluefin tuna is nearing extinction. In a letter to Nobu, concerned celebrities asked Nobu to stop serving tuna. I guess it worked, because Nobu’s London restaurant agreed to put a note on the menu telling patrons tuna is endangered.
No one wants Charlie Tuna to disappear and here’s another reason to ditch the tuna. The Environmental Defense Fund calls bluefin tuna an eco-worst and recommends avoiding it, citing mercury and PCB contamination.
Via TreeHugger.Read More:Celebrities Want Tuna Out of Nobu Restaurants
Here’s another innovative Christmas tree alternative.
Yesterday we saw the space-saving, eco-conscious recycled cardboard tree. Sure, a great idea. But you can’t eat it!
That’s why the brussel tree rocks. As in, rocking around the Christmas tree!
And just think, after Christmas it makes the perfect guilt-free holiday snack, perfect for that New Year’s resolution.
Via SeriousEats.Read More:Oh, Brussel Tree…
February 25, 2008
Before we get to day 125, let me take a moment to comment on the recent footage of slaughterhouse mistreatment of downed cows and their continued presence in our beef supply. If you did not see it, words cannot suffice to describe how hard it is to watch. But watch it we must if we are to change the way the livestock industry continues to get away with abusive animal treatment and such blatant disregard for human health and our environment.
As a vegetarian, I am glad I do not have to worry about the potential consequences of consuming the flesh of sick “downer” cows, but I am concerned for others, for the cows and for our planet. According to Anna Lappé, “Among the nation’s top 10 worst polluters of our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, half are beef production facilities.” This is from her recent article from the Huffington Post, “143 Million Pounds of Beef Recalled — Will the Industry Finally Change?” http://www.alternet.org/stories/77659/?page=entire
I still maintain that the most radical thing anyone can do these days is to become a vegetarian and grow your own organic food. For more on that, read Michael Pollan’s, “In Defense of Food,” and “The Omnivore’s Dilema.”
October 5, 2006 – Day 125
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is I’m slim now, about the weight I should be; 122 pounds. Twenty-five pounds in 5 months. Yea, me! The bad news is that I’ve become bored with the foods I’ve eaten during this time, so am basically just … not eating. I’d rather starve than eat the non-food most Americans eat. It disgusts me. How horrible to put things in your body that disgust you! Think about the psycho-spiritual damage than can do to a person.
I know I want to continue eating this way—the benefits are too good. I feel happier than I have in years. Energy’s good. The question is how do I combat the dietary boredom? I just need some inspiration. Something similar to the film I watched that initially got me going on this path, “Go Further.” Funny little documentary I stumbled across at the library about Woody Harrelson and a bike tour he took with some of his hippie pals to promote all things green. He’s a raw foodist, so he brought his raw food chef along to fix their meals–in a bus powered by used fast food oil they got for free (how cool is that?).
What really inspired me was the transformation of one of Woody’s friends–a classic junk food junkie–who adopted a raw food lifestyle all due to coming along on this trip. This kid was a total comedian. Hilarious, actually. He was eating all these pure, raw foods made by the chef on the trip, so his detox experience was caught on film. That in itself was interesting. But man, did he catch the fire for raw! He was holding up signs on street corners, telling people about the USDA accepted pus and blood in cow’s milk. And doing it in a funny way.
Food preparation has always been an on again, off again thing for me. Sometimes I truly love making meals, but not right now. When I’d go through this culinary boredom before I began this raw food journey, I’d have relatively healthy, quick food available; frozen meals and the like (which I now consider non-food). Now, my “fast food” is whole fruit and veggies, and I’m sick of the ones I always get. The variety at grocery stores sucks!!
When I lived in Chicago and Seattle, the vegetarian/raw food choices were everywhere. Restaurants, grocery stores, street vendors – it was so cool. But here, in the greater Oklahoma City area, it isn’t so easy. The few healthy shopping choices are spread out to kingdom come. I pray that a Whole Foods store will finally come here…
So what to do? Woman does not live on sprouted pita bread and raw almond butter alone. That’s the kind of food I’ve been eating, other than juicing, which I am thankfully, pretty religious about. I guess what it boils down to is that I’m bored my food preparation – most definitely not with the food itself. So I’m joining a vegetarian group that meets monthly and checking out recipe books. I’m also going to do some searches for online raw foodie groups. That should be fun. Lastly, I will revive my early raw food habit of buying at least one new produce item I’ve never tried before every time I shop.
I love this way of eating, but it does take regular recommitment. I am willing. It’s worth it—my looks and health have booth improved so much in such a short time. Definitely worth it.
February, 12, 2008
A quick update before we get to day 96: I’ve been mostly raw now for over a year and a half–and I love it! I eat a mostly vegan diet, with no meat. Many of the physical problems I still struggled with on day 96 are completely gone now. I discovered Univera products last year, which gave me the gift of energy. I get so much done now! The raw food was critical to my healing, helped me shed the poundage, but I also needed supplementation to really gain a whole picture of radiant health. And the benefits continue to come. Rock on, raw foodies!
September 5, 2006,
Well, it’s been just over 3 months now on this new path. Most of the big changes I’ve put into effect have stuck. I’m still not 100 percent raw, but I am not worried about that. Shoot. Mainly, I’m just dang proud of myself!
The physical/emotional update: I’m done detoxing for the most part. My GERD (or reflux; previously known as heartburn–lol) has almost completely healed; no more terrible cramping or gas. Hallelujah. I think the friendly flora capsules have helped with that. I’ve lost 15 pounds (10 or 15 more to go). My skin looks better every day. Although it was a roller coaster ride there for a while, my moods are leveling out. Pretty durn good progress, I’d say.
Not everything physically going on with me is great yet, by any means. I continue to struggle with energy and difficulty breathing. It’s the mold in my lungs I’ve mentioned before, and the asthma it induced. I don’t know if my lungs will completely heal until I get treatment for the mold — and for my ancient house — or move out. But, I’m not coughing my guts out anymore. Man, if someone as sick as I was can do as well as I’m doing now in only 3 months, the average Joe (or Joetta) with no serious health complications is going to soar on this raw journey in no time!
Diet update: I’m eating mostly organic food – 70 to 80% raw. No “non-foods” or things from boxes (I just can’t imagine eating that crap again). I enjoy juicing greens (with a little added fruit) most mornings. I know there’s more I can do to feel better. I mean, I’m not a vegetarian yet. I cook meat about twice a week – always organic, free range chicken or wild-caught fish. As for dairy, I do goat cheese and eggs maybe twice a week, and on special occasions, sugarless, organic yogurt (I add Stevia and organic vanilla – ohmygod, is it good).
Sugar. Awww, sugar! (remember that song?). Well, it is no longer the cruel overlord in my life. I do occasionally imbibe, but I eat much less now. Usually, it’s a little honey here or dried fruit there. My taste buds really pick up the sweet in foods now. I don’t miss intense sugar hits at all. In fact, diet coke sucks for me now (thank you god for small miracles). I drink only water, fresh, raw juice and occasionally, organic tea. I really can’t believe it. All this from the person who calls discipline the “D” word!!
Here’s a wild one for me – I actually sprout my own alfalfa sprouts (they last a lot longer than store bought, tastier, too). Also, I’ve purchased a dehydrator, a mandoline, a small food processor, and some good knives (half price at Cooking.com). I still lust for a Vita-mix, though…
I spend more time preparing food,and I cook about once or twice a week. These are acts of self-love that I find truly fulfilling–most days. I prepare my son’s school lunches, too. I let him help me make choices, both in the health food store and while putting it together. That helps. We’ve marveled many times together about how organic foods taste so much better than their non-organic counterparts. The first day of school he came home with a “get to know you” assignment that had a blank for favorite food. He wrote, “orgnic.”
I must be doing something right.Read More:Raw Food Detox Journal – Day 96
Day 86 was written on:
August 26, 2006
I haven’t written in a while for three reasons: 1. I have been really sick, 2. I have not felt good about writing the truth that I’d been not eating well and I didn’t want to lie about it, and 3. I had lost my passion. I am sure that the latter two were caused by the first. I realize that this is not going to be a straight up line to perfect eating and health. And hell, my definition of eating poorly is a universe or two away from what it used to be–still, the parent in me is totally on my case.
Falling off the wagon now means eating sprouted, whole wheat pita spread with homemade almond butter, or packaged (already popped) organic popcorn with sea salt, or skipping my usual juicing routine in the a.m. because I’m sick of washing the damn machine.
The worst slip was eating two very big cookies from a local deli – in one day. Not organic, not whole grain. I got away with the cookies stomach-wise, but on my birthday I had a piece (okay, two pieces) of my mom’s homemade strawberry cake. However, I planned for it beforehand by juicing all day. And I paid for it afterwards – it made me sick as a dog. THE worst stomach cramping way into the night. Talk about self-sabotage.
Overall, for the past two and a half weeks of not writing, I did pretty well. I made an incredible gazpacho blender soup. So easy and tasty! Juicing more this past week is helping tremendously. Still not on target with meat. I’ve eaten fish and chicken about four times (not completely vegetarian yet). Trying to figure out protein substitutes is a hard one now. When I was a vegan for all those years I didn’t worry about it. I just ate at vegetarian restaurants in Chicago where I lived. But when I moved back to Oklahoma City there was only one veggie store/restaurant in town! Then I moved to Seattle and got sick. I went to a napropath who told me I “just wasn’t the type” that could be vegan. He told me to eat meat! So I did. Very reluctantly.
I remember that my return to consuming meat grossed me out so much I purposely numbed myself to it. I had to go into denial in order to eat animals again. I just turned off my moral compass. (I think that is what most people do.) Now, when I do eat flesh, I give thanks for the life and sacrifice of the animal I’m consuming. I know, that sounds completely new agey and nerdy, but I don’t care. I feel good about it. I’ve taught my son, Zack, to do the same.
I am easing back into the vegan lifestyle. I’m learning all kinds of new ways of thinking about and preparing food. I bought stuff to do my own sprouting. I also purchased a dehydrator. That was before I read in Cousen’s book, “Conscious Eating,” that I’m not the type that should eat dried out “wind” foods. Apparently, I’m a Vata, an Indian Dosha type, which is a way of categorizing individual constitutions. (Of course, Vatas are the most screwed up!) I still intend to use the dehydrator. I forked over the 118 bucks, and by god I’m usin’ it.
I’m reading the latest book by Ram Dass. I love how he writes about human foibles with so much heart and humor. Ram says you should give up a desire because the desire to give it up is stronger than the desire itself. But he also said that meditation and prayer are the methods to get that higher kind of desire. So, I’ve been meditating (of course, it’s more like, trying to meditate after so many years of not meditating). I think it’s helping.
The best news is that the gastric problems have cleared up. The aloe vera juice is what did it, primarily. I’ve just kept up with it. Drinking 4 to 20 ounces a day throughout the day. I have also still been taking the bioflora – healthy bioorganisms that help you digest food. No more reflux, as far as I can tell. I am sure that the enzymes and other good stuff from the greens I am juicing almost every day help as well. Cousens says that the body is capable of healing itself, if we give it the right ingredients to work with. I tend to agree.
On the road again.Read More:Raw Food Detox Diet – Day 86
January 3, 2008
Coming up is my entry chronicling the beginning of my third month of eating raw last year. I am now 16 months into this Raw Food Detox Journal, lifestyle. Quite honestly, I still have some days where I don’t eat as healthily as I’d like, but on the whole I remain about 70% raw. It works just fine for me. During winter months, my body wants grains, so I give it sprouted grains, which are incredibly satisfying. Right now, I’m into sprouting wheat berries. So tasty, so versatile, so crunchy–and easy to grow. I use them as a substitute for cereal (add blueberries, bananas and almond milk or any raw nut milk), on salads, and in rollups and smoothies.
Sprouts are considered a “Super Food,” they have so many benefits. They’re easy to digest, and packed with enzymes, proteins, complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and they’re economical. What’s not to love? My tummy is never happier than when it is digesting sprouts.
I order wheat berries from my co-op, grown locally and organically. But you can also get them online or at health food stores. Although you can also buy sprouting kits online, I just reuse old pickle jars and the like. You’ll need to poke holes in the lid. Simply soak the wheat berries for 24 hours in the jar and then drain and rinse them once to twice a day for two days. Be sure to leave the jar upside down at a 45 degree angle to properly drain, or they’ll develop nasty gooeyness.
If you want to learn more about sprouting, check out www.sproutman.com
Raw Food Detox Journal, Day 64
August 3, 2006
This was a sunshiny summer day. I just wish I would’ve been conscious for all of it. I had great energy after a peach and almond milk smoothie with raw hemp protein (the hemp protein is made by Nutiva—wonderful stuff). Got a lot done and wrote for several hours. But by 6pm I was dead asleep. I felt so tired I was actually nauseous. Was out for three hours. As I write, it’s 4am. I just don’t seem to have enough fuel to get through one day. I am so ready for the detox demons to give me a break.
‘Course, it might not be the detoxing at all. For me, sugar is at the top of my Do Not Go There list and I’ve been eating it every night in some form for 3 nights. Last night it was raw ice cream. I used raw coconut and fresh strawberries, with dates and ice. It ended up delicious. (Side note: you need a really good blender like a Vita-mix for making raw ice creams. I redecorated my kitchen with organic strawberries. At least it was a less gooey catastrophe than the last blender-inspired raw food attempt—guacamole. Still have a green tinge on my ceiling!)
Don’t get me wrong, the raw ice cream is fine for people who don’t have candida. But I am not one of them. I’ve also been eating raisins and dates with nuts. I can tell a difference already, being so sugar sensitive. The mucous is making a big comeback. It only needs a little fuel, apparently.
Goal for tomorrow: NO SUGAR!!Read More:Raw Food Detox Journal, Day 64