Category Archives: Take Action

A Heart for Feeding the Hungry

On March 25th, 2014, Congress erected a statue in honor of Norman Borlaug, the creator of a hybrid dwarf strain of wheat that grows in poor conditions, is disease resistant and high yielding. He was motivated by the desire to end world hunger and is credited with saving the lives of over 1 billion people.  Crop modifications and GMO technology were his solutions, he was always looking for new and different ways to use technology to feed people. Feeding the world is absolutely an honorable goal, but Mr. Borlaug’s solutions have created new and different problems because of the methods he chose. His hybrid dwarf wheat is so different from ancient wheat they aren’t even the same grains anymore.

Rather than seeking only solutions that involve highly altered foods and heavy dependence on chemical fertilizers and herbicides, there are others who also have hearts for the hungry whose methods are creating sustainable food sources while also healing the land and giving work to the communities.  I would like to recognize those people here and thank them for their contributions to make their world a better place. I know my list is incomplete; I welcome your suggestions in the comment section below!

Allan SavoryAllan Savory – growing up in southern Africa, Allan witnessed firsthand the precious lands around his home becoming deserts – a process called desertification – and its effects on humans and wildlife as both went hungry. He developed a system called Holistic Management and for over 30 years now he has been teaching people throughout Africa and around the world how to heal the land, provide food, and support life through the use of correctly managed livestock herds. Savory used nature as his model, learning how to use the livestock to fertilize and till the land until it regained the ability to hold precious water, restore fertility and become usable for both crops and grazing. The Savory Institute has as its goal to heal 1 billion new hectares of grasslands around the world by 2025. With Allan Savory’s method desertified land can be re-greened and used to grow crops as well as livestock for meat, milk, and eggs all while creating healthier ecosystems and cleaner water.

Mel Bartholomew Mel Bartholomew – You know Mel from his books and tv shows all about the Square Foot Garden.  What you may not know is that Mel has a heart for feeding the hungry. He established his Square Foot Foundation to take gardening education to the poor and hungry around the world. His motive is much like the old saying “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach him to fish and feed him for life”.  Mel’s foundation has sent teachers to Malawi, Kenya, Peru, and Ecuador to educate communities on Square Foot Gardening methods helping people grow their own food in smaller spaces using less water, learn composting and even create cottage businesses with garden markets. He also provides curriculum to schools to educate children in the US how to grow fresh, healthy food for themselves.

Will AllenWill Allen – Will’s rags-to-riches-to-food story is inspirational. Born the son of a sharecropper, he became a professional basketball player with a desire to give back to his community. His vision is to help people grow safe, healthy, affordable food; to develop a healthy food system even within inner city locations. To this end Will founded Growing Power which is now a model farm and community food center in inner city Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His company has also started food communities in other areas including Chicago, Masachusetts, Georgia and Kentucky. All of Growing Power’s urban farms are sustainable using compost, vermicompost and organic techniques. In addition to fresh produce many of these farms raise livestock for meat, eggs, milk and bees for honey. They also create jobs for the community and feed the hungry.

Joel SalatinJoel Salatin – possibly America’s most famous farmer, Joel is an ambassador for grassbased farming, real food, and historical normalcy.  He’s also a prolific author, speaker and sometimes even a movie star.  Joel’s Polyface Farm has been featured in books like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and movies like Food, Inc.  Joel’s farm is a living model for sustainable multi-generational family farming. His farm intern program teaches dozens of wannabe farmers each year how to make a real living through farming while healing the land and maintaining respect for the animals raised. Joel’s books reach even more people helping them turn their dream of owning their own Eden into reality. He speaks to agriculture conventions around the world sharing the good news of grass farming.

Who do you think has made a difference in this world and deserves some special recognition? Let us hear from you in the comment section!

This blog is part of the Sunday Social Blog Hop

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Some links may be monetized. This blog is for informational purposes only. 

Hybrid vs. GMO – What is the Difference?

I’ve been hearing lately that people are confused about what it means exactly to be GMO and how that is different from being hybridized. I’m posting this in hopes of clearing up that confusion. Please let me know in the comments if you still have questions.

Think back to elementary school science class about how we classify all living things. We start with the very broadest of categories, called Kingdoms, and then get narrower and narrower, until we reach one single living thing. For example here’s the classification for a cow:   Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla, Family Bovidae, Genus Bos, Species Bos taurus or Cow

cows

Bos taurus or Cow

In nature things cannot reproduce with other things that are not closely related. Usually this means they have to at least be the same Species or the same Genus. So even if two things are in the same Kingdom, Phylum, or Class they cannot breed together. This is why we don’t have Minotaurs, Centaurs or Hippogriffs roaming around.

 

 

Hybrid

cockapoo

Cockapoo

 

A Toyota Prius is a hybrid car. It combines features from gas and electric cars to create a new kind of car that can use both fuels. A hybrid living thing is a lot like the Prius. Two different, but closely-related, organisms reproduce to make a new offspring. This happens in nature when a Blue-winged warbler mates with a Gold-winged warbler and they have little baby Lawrence warbler chicks, hybrids between the Blue and Gold. People can facilitate hybrids like when a Cocker Spaniel is bred with a poodle to make designer puppies called Cockapoos. In each case, whether bird or dog, the organisms are close enough that they can reproduce without surgical or technological help. Hybridizing techniques have been used for centuries to make more beautiful roses, hardier tomatoes, and fluffier sheep, and a whole lot more.

 

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)

A Genetically Modified Organism is a living thing, whether plant, bacteria, insect or animal, whose genetic material has been altered using technology through genetic engineering techniques. Perhaps a better name more clearly expressing this combination of genetically unrelated things would be trans-genic . This biotech process produces a completely new living organism with novel genetic material. These completely modern organisms cannot happen without technological intervention because they combine two unrelated things.

hippogriff

hippogriff

 

Like the mythological Hippogriff that combined lion and eagle to create something entirely its own new being, the biotechnology that combines genetically unrelated organisms has created a new population of seemingly mythical creatures. So far GMO technology has produced combinations of such unrelated organisms as corn with jellyfish, sugarcane with human, corn with hepatitis virus, soybean with soil bacteria, canola with bay tree, spiders with goats, fish with strawberries, corn with bacteria, and pigs with jellyfish.

When foreign DNA invades your body, as when a cold virus tries to live in your nose, you automatically launch an attack to get rid of it. The watery eyes, the runny nose, all that mucus – that’s your body trying to evict the invaders. The genes of all living things naturally guard against foreign DNA. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, unless two things are closely related, their DNA does not willingly combine. In order to create trans-genic GMO it requires outside intervention, special technology; and truthfully this technology isn’t all that precise.

To insert foreign DNA into a non-compliant organism requires drastic measures. We use gene guns with DNA-coated ammunition and shoot them at cells; we use electric shocks to tear holes into cells to stick in the new DNA; we use viruses to “infect” cells with new DNA. Out of thousands of bombarded cells only a few get successfully re-engineered.

We are still learning about genetic expression and the environment’s effect on our genes. The field of epigenetics is in its infancy. We do know every living thing is connected by the vast web of life. Not only are there unknown consequences to altering living things by tampering with their genes, but the natural environment is also at risk.  A trans-genic plant produces pollen that blows on the wind; insects chew these plants and are then eaten by other animals; small animals live in the fields and nest among the roots of these plants. A GMO fish swims away with its new genetic material sharing it with other fish as it mates, and sharing it with the animal that eats it for supper.

We already know that pollen from GMO corn carried by the wind has landed on milkweed plants killing off monarch butterfly larvae who were eating the pollen-coated milkweed. The monarch butterfly already has “Near Threatened” status. This surely won’t help its recovery.

When plants and animals used as food are genetically modified, it can also change their nutritional profile.  It can give them too much or too little of certain nutrients, or even create new kinds of proteins that have never been in our food supply. This affects the animals and people that eat them. Safety testing has been left up to the companies that produce these GMO foods. The FDA does not do independent testing. Some in the scientific community are now taking it on themselves to test GMOs and are finding toxins, allergens and nutritional problems to be just the tip of the iceberg.

For more about GMOs go here or here or here. This blog is being posted on the Sunday Social Blog Hop.

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Inspiration to Make a Difference

Tallahassee meeting welcome to Florida

Last week I took my kids to Tallahassee for the annual FPEA (Florida Parent Educators Association) Day at the Capitol.  We’ve been learning about America’s government and the Constitution, and I thought this would make a great field trip – to see our state government in action. Although FPEA had some events scheduled they encouraged everyone to make time to see Representatives and Senators from their local districts just to say “Hi” and maybe talk about some of the issues about which we’re concerned. So a week or so before the trip I sent some emails, made a few phone calls and managed to get a few appointments with some lawmakers I knew were working to make laws near and dear to my heart. Yep, the battle to label GMOs is coming to Florida!

Tallahassee meeting with Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

meeting with Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda about GMO labeling

Thanks to the super-nice Teri Cariota we were able to squeeze in a meeting with Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D – Leon County) who is the sponsor of HB1, the House bill to label GMOs.  Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda is a petite mother of two who has been in the Florida House for about six years. She has done her homework on genetic engineering and feels it is important that we all have open access to what goes into our food. Her bill calls for mandatory labeling of raw ingredients and processed foods that are made with genetically engineered items. The bill has been filed and has now gone to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where it sits until it gets put on the committee agenda.  It must be heard in committee before anything else can happen, and so far it hasn’t made it onto the agenda. The committee Chairman is Matt Caldwell (R – Lehigh Acres).  He was the next person we went to talk to.

When we found Representative Caldwell’s office he was not there. We had 5 teenagers and 5 parents in our group and I think we surprised the office staff, but his assistant, Charlotte Gammie, took down our message along with my contact info. She was probably the least responsive person we came in contact with all day. I have not heard back from Representative Caldwell yet. I hope he got our message that we’d really like his committee to discuss HB1 sometime soon.

Tallahassee meeting the Rep Michelle and group

Five teens and five parents and one lawmaker concerned about GMOs

Next we had an appointment over on the Senate side of the Capitol.  We were hoping to see Senator Jeremy Ring (D – Broward County), the sponsor of the GMO legislation in the Senate, SB558. Unfortunately we did not see him either, in spite of our appointment the Senator was delayed after his last meeting. But we did talk to his aide who took us into the Senator’s office, sat us all down (all 10 of us), listened to what we had to say and took notes. According to what the aide told us, the Senate bill is in much the same situation as the House bill. It is filed and gone to the Senate Agriculture Committee waiting to be put on the agenda. It looks like the committee is a bit apprehensive about putting this bill up for discussion which is understandable since this is a hot topic all over the U.S.  But to me this is all the more reason we need to tackle the issue, not let it languish under red tape, because it’s not going away. Too many people care about this now, and we are reaching a tipping point in this country. Senator Ring’s aide encouraged us to drop by the committee chair’s office. So that’s where we went next.

The Senate Chair for the Agriculture Committee is Senator Bill Montford (D – Apalachicola). Once again we found the Senator absent but his office aides present. These aides were friendly and attentive. They found us an empty conference room and sat us all down around the conference table. We spoke to Marcia Mathis, Legislative Assistant, who had great people skills and seemed impressed with the fact that we had teenagers who were listening, interested and engaged with what was going on. At this point just about everyone in our group knew where we wanted the conversation to go and they all chimed in with why GMO labeling was important to them. Ms. Mathis gave us at least 20 minutes of her time that afternoon and I hope she left the meeting more informed about why GMO labeling is so controversial and how the residents of Florida will benefit from SB558.

We ended that day feeling like we’d made some kind of a difference in our home state. And now it’s your turn to keep this conversation moving.  We need everyone to contact the committee chairs for the House and the Senate and urge them to put the GMO labeling bills onto the committees’ agendas. I’ve given links to the websites where you can find their email addresses to the names of each person above. It only takes a minute to fill out the form and send your thoughts. We also need to contact Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Adam Putnam, who also sits on Florida’s Cabinet. Commissioner Putnam needs to know how we feel, and he also needs to hear from small family farmers who stand to lose the most if GMO labeling fails.

Floridians have the right to know what’s in their food – and so does the rest of the United States. Florida can lead the way by passing HB1 and SB558.

This blog is part of the Sunday Social Blog Hop.

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Sunday Social Blog Hop

There are Farmer’s Markets and then there are “Farmer’s” Markets

I live in a very urban area, the greater metropolitan Orlando area to be exact. Over the years I’ve worked hard to find sources for local food and cultivate relationships with local farmers. As a Weston A. Price Foundation chapter co-leader I keep an ever-growing list of as many of these resources as I can find so I can share them with our members. My best advice is usually “Go to your local farmer’s market, look around, and start talking to people. Ask questions, be courteous, and eventually you will make your own local food connections.”  That is usually good advice – except last Saturday I found the exception to the rule.

I had to take my daughter downtown to a Shakespeare workshop that morning which put me within a mile or two of one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the whole Central Florida area, same location for over 35 years. It was a beautiful day, I had extra time on my hands and so I headed to Winter Park. The parking was as crazy as I remembered it from the last time I’d gone about 15 years ago. The market sits next to the railroad tracks and spreads out on the grounds of the old train depot – very picturesque with brick pavers and wrought iron fencing. I wasn’t in any hurry, I just wanted a relaxing activity that would culminate with me eating something superfresh, local and healthy for my lunch later on. Slowly I canvassed the entire market area taking in all the people and the full tables under big tents. As I inspected each stand it began to dawn on me…there isn’t anything here that actually grew here! All the produce was beautifully displayed, but it all had PLU code stickers on it. There were baskets of apples and bags of pecans, neither of which grow in Central Florida and definitely not this time of year. There were at least a dozen stands selling other items like fancy greenhouse potted flowers, imported pasta, coffee from Washington State or Hawaii, landscaping shrubs, facial care products from a multi-level marketing company, commercially canned pickles. The stands selling produce had exorbitant prices for non-organic plain old grocery store goods.

winter park farmers market 1 winter park farmers market 2

I could get strawberries from Plant City, FL and pay $6 for one basket, or I could get back in the car, drive to Publix and get those same Plant City strawberries at 2/$5. The potted plants were the same thing you could get at any Home Depot garden center, except if you bought them here at the market you could pay double or triple price; none of the plants for sale were actually planted or grown by the people selling them. Eventually I found a little tent with a sign that said “Waterkist Farms Sanford FL” selling hydroponic heirloom tomatoes. I bought four nearly-ripe ones so I could make some fermented salsa later this week. Then I decided to ask them a question. “Are you all the only actual farmers here?”  The man glanced around as if someone might overhear, then looked at his wife; they both started to grin a little – “No ma’am, if you look across the market over to the other side up by the building you can see a little white-haired lady and her son with some flowers. They grow their own, too.” I said “Thank you – and thank you all for being local farmers!” They both gave me big smiles and I crossed over to see the little white-haired lady. She didn’t have much either, just a couple buckets of long-stemmed sunflowers, several bags of sunflower sprouts, and some baskets of tiny white turnips. I bought $6 worth of sprouts and turnips and they were so kind and so thankful for my business!  After that there was nothing to do but leave!

hydroponic tomatoes, sunflower sprouts and turnips

hydroponic tomatoes, sunflower sprouts and turnips

farmers market purchases lake mary

sage, peppers, backyard eggs, cukes and kale

I was so frustrated by that experience that I drove the 15 miles north up I-4 to Lake Mary, FL, exited and headed to the Lake Mary Farmer’s Market where I knew there was a good chance I’d find more than one actual farmer. I was rewarded for my efforts and brought home a dozen local eggs, two kinds of kale, several sweet peppers and some very fresh cucumbers – oh and a nice pot of fresh sage. At that point my cash had run out, but things were looking up for my lunch!

So what can you do to be sure you are getting locally grown food and supporting local farmers when you shop at farmer’s markets? First off you can find out whether your market has any rules about the source of items sold at their market. For example to be a vendor at the Franklin, TN, market you have to “make it, bake it, raise it or grow it” in order to sell it there. Secondly, a big tip-off that you aren’t buying directly from the grower is the presence of PLU code stickers. Those stickers are used to track inventory by retailers. A farmer selling his onions direct-to-consumer would not need to add stickers. Stickers are a sign that the produce you see went through at least one middleman wholesaler before it got there. Third, know what grows in your area at what time of year. The Florida Dept. of Ag website keeps a chart of everything that grows in FL during each month of the year. Most states have something similar. Cherries and table grapes don’t grow in the US in February, or in FL at all! Finally, just ask the person selling the vegetables if they grew them. Simply say something like “Tell me what you grew, I’d like to buy something seasonal and local.” Then you can also ask them whether they spray with pesticides, and what kind of weed control they use. Be sure to be polite!

When I finally got home Saturday I was happy to discover two little Purple Cherokee tomatoes in my own garden were ripe and ready! They were the perfect finishing touch for my superfresh-and-local salad for lunch.

farmer's market salad with homegrown tomatoes

farmer’s market salad with homegrown tomatoes

I’m Proud of You Moms!

My friend Julie made a loaf of homemade bread this weekend! I was so excited for her! She was happy, too – she texted me a picture of the finished loaf and it was nicely staged with a cloth and flowers 🙂  She sliced it and tasted it and texted again that it tasted great too!  Her husband was at work and didn’t know what she’d been up to, and when I saw them both later that night she and I were talking about her accomplishment and he said “Wait! There’s fresh bread? Do I get some?” He was all happy too – and planning on getting “some of that Irish butter” to put on it when he got home.

five minute artisan bread by Julie Dees 1I’m so proud of my friend and what she accomplished!  She is making positive changes in her family’s diet and learning so many new things in the process. I want to encourage her as well as all of the other moms I know who are making the commitment and taking the time to learn ways to bless their family’s health just like the Proverbs 31 woman!  I used to look at that Proverbs 31 woman and think “Wow! I could NEVER do all of that! I’m such a failure!” until I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans where she explained that Proverbs 31 was NOT a “to do” list or a way to criticize someone, but rather it was a list of examples of ways women were already blessing their families and to give those families a chance to recognize all the things moms do, little and big, because we love our families. In Rachel Evans’ book she gives a big shout out to several “Women of Valor” who are doing special things to make their little corner of the world a little brighter.  So I want to do that today…

“It has become a Jewish custom for men to recite this hymn at the end of the week, and thus to think about and be thankful for all his wife has done for him and their family throughout the past week. – From Judaism.about.com

Eshet chayil mi yimtza v’rachok mip’ninim michrah
An accomplished woman, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls.”

Here’s to a few more “Eshet Chayil” or accomplished women! My friend Andrea grew her own kombucha scoby and started brewing kombucha, and now she gives away her extra scobys and teaches other how to make it too. My friend Brenda learned how to make real, nourishing, homemade bone broth from scratch and makes it regularly for her husband and family. My friend Lynne bought a nanny goat, learned how to milk it, and now milks fresh raw goat milk for herself and her family. My friend Sara – when she discovered her son didn’t have asthma but rather a soy allergy she didn’t just throw up her hands in despair – instead she learned to make bread because you can’t find store bread without soy in it, and now her son is better and her family gets homemade bread. My friend (and Amy’s too) Cindy researched dietary strategies for treating ADD and was able, through changing what her boys ate, to get rid of the prescription meds and now they are excelling in school instead of dreading it. Zishan and Kasey are each in charge of mommy-preschoolers groups and they have each found ways to educate their members about real food, GMOs, healthy fats and feeding healthy kids by bringing in speakers and showing movies like Food, Inc. during meetings. My friend Sherri wasn’t happy with her local grocery store’s lack of organic produce so she started her own co-op and now she helps over 200 families eat better every month. I could keep going on and on about all the terrific moms out there who are making a difference in so many ways!

How about you? Whether you are just starting out with baby steps here and there or are ready, like my friend Amanda and her husband, to buy a little homestead farm, you are making a difference and blessing your family! I’m proud of you!  Do you have someone you’d like to give a shout out to? List them here in the comments and tell everyone how proud you are of them!

Piha patchah v’chochma v’torat chesed al l’shonah
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the lesson of kindness is on her tongue.

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Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Coming Soon to a Town Near You

Last week I was asked to be a guest and local food representative for the Peace & Justice Initiatives Conversations Week at Valencia College in Orlando.  The college spent the week discussing various hot topics related to Justice including local food and sustainability. I set up a table full of free information and answered questions about the Weston A Price Foundation and our local chapter’s activities. They had several movies showing throughout the day including Genetic Roulette and Food, Inc. After the evening showing of Food, Inc. there was a panel discussion with five of us from the local food community. In the middle of our discussion we had the good fortune to be joined by Genetic Roulette’s author, Jeffrey Smith, via Skype.  Jeffrey was in the Florida Keys working with the local government and concerned citizens debating whether or not they should allow Oxitec, a British biotech company, to release millions of experimental genetically engineered mosquitoes into the Florida Keys.

Jeffrey Smith was there to testify in front of a control board. The GE mosquitoes have already been released in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil. The purpose behind the experiment was to reduce Dengue Fever, a virus spread by mosquito bites that results in painful joints, rash and other symptoms but is rarely fatal.  According to a TED Talk video from Oxitech’s website the company is concerned about their product’s effect on the environment and they “don’t want to do anything we can’t undo.”  They really should have called Jeffrey Smith BEFORE the experiments were done and before the initial release into the environment. He had quite a list of concerns to ask Oxitec, some of which they had not yet considered.

mosquitoThe genetically engineered (GE) mosquito is supposed to be only male and carries a special genetically modified DNA strand in its genes that causes all the offspring to die. In theory the GE males mate with the wild females who then lay their eggs which hatch and then promptly die. When it works, the Dengue Fever-carrying mosquito population can be reduced up to 80%. As you can guess, however, it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. It turns out the GE gene is stable in the lab, but once released many mosquitoes are living instead of dying. It just so happens that exposure to the antibiotic tetracycline causes the GE gene to fail and the offspring to survive instead of die off. Thanks to the industrial animal feeding industry, tetracycline can be found just about anywhere there are factory-farmed chickens, including in bowls of dog food (made from chicken) left outside in the neighborhoods where GE mosquitoes have been released. In addition, not all of the mosquitoes are male. In reality one or two in every thousand are females fully capable of reproducing offspring with who knows what kind of altered DNA.

When the scientists at the University of Florida asked to review Oxitec’s data and run their own tests before the bugs were released, Oxitec said “no” because it was patented material. No transparency in something as serious as this and I think I would complain too, just like the UF scientists are doing!  Not only will they not let outside tests be run, they are only just now checking to see if the GE protein is transmitted in the saliva of the GE bugs. When a mosquito bites someone the saliva is the transmitter for the various diseases, and saliva is made up of protein.  The altered proteins in the DNA of the GE mosquito are also of concern to Smith. There is a slight chance that this altered DNA could cause other portions of the mosquito DNA to change possibly releasing some heretofore unknown virus or disease that, given the right circumstances, could have a devastating effect on humans.

All of this is so crazy, it sounds like something out of Jurassic Park, but unfortunately it is real and it is happening right on our doorstep! Companies have been altering organisms in laboratories for years hoping for biotech solutions to the world’s problems. To quote fellow panel member Richard Kann, “Franken-Science is a very dangerous thing. We have no idea what the results of this type of genetic engineering might produce.”  Please support Jeffrey Smith’s work at the Institute for Responsible Technology, stay informed, and write or call your local politicians.

Smartphone Apps for Foodies

shopping guide appThere are thousands of apps out there for smartphone users. Games, social media, tools, light sabers – but I really like the apps that help me be a smarter shopper, be a better steward of my resources, or make healthier choices for my family. I’ve compiled a list of food and health-related apps to get the discussion rolling. To download one just type the app name into your phone’s app store search box.  If you have one you particularly like please add it to the comments section below!

“Cooking” by Portable Knowledge – available for iPhone and Android FREE:  no recipes here, just lots of useful information for cooking. This app gives you measurement conversions like how many teaspoons are in a Tablespoon or how many cups in a pint. It also gives amounts such as how many banana slices in one cup, and ingredient substitutions in case you find you’re out of buttermilk but still want to make those muffins. It also gives definitions for common cooking terms and ingredients.

“Meal Planning & Grocery List” by Food on the Table                                                                              – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app helps you make a weekly menu and build your grocery list using recipes from websites or your favorites. It is linked to major grocery chains and allows you to shop based on sales in your area.

“Healthy Out” by HealthyOut – available for iPhone. FREE:  this app helps you find local dining out choices according to your nutrition and dietary needs. You can search low-carb, gluten-free and vegetarian as well as Paleo-friendly restaurants. Of course there’s the usual searches for Italian or other cuisines, and also a nutrition information section for popular restaurant dishes.

“Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide” by Non-GMO Project – available for iPhone and android. FREE: this app is a searchable database of all products receiving Non-GMO verified certification. There is also a listing of common crops and common food ingredients containing GMO contamination, and some history and background information on the non-GMO movement.

“ShopNoGMO” by Jeffrey Smith – available for iPhone. FREE: this app is more than just a database; it allows you to personalize with lists of your favorite non-GMO brands. There’s an FAQ section plus tips for avoiding GMOs while dining out. Find hidden sources of GMO in the ingredient database and learn ways to talk to friends and family about the dangers of GMO.

“Find Real Food” by Real Food Mobile, LLC – available for iPhone (android coming later this year) FREE: this app is the electronic version of the annual Shopping Guide for the Weston A Price Foundation. The paper version has grown so large over the years that an electronic version was needed to keep it portable. Using a “good-better-best” scale, this shopping guide lists recommended items in 30 searchable categories including eggs, dairy, seafood, meats, vegetables, nuts, fats and oils, cultured foods and breads. Use this app to make good choices at the grocery store and to find online or mail-order sources of nutrient dense real food. There’s a place to add your own suggestions. The database will be updated frequently. It also allows you to share favorite brands on Facebook and add your own comments and ratings to products you buy and enjoy.

“Fooducate” by Fooducate, Ltd. – available for iPhone and Android. FREE for the basic version but $14.99/year for the “pro” and “gluten & allergies” versions:  this app allows you to scan the barcode on a product and receive an analysis of the nutrition information and ingredients. It also give you a rating from A+ to D-.  The FREE basic version alerts you to things like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and additives & preservatives. The premium versions also include GMO information.  (I’m disappointed with Fooducate because the GMO info used to be part of the basic, now they are charging extra for it rather than helping the non-GMO movement by keeping that info more easily available to everyone.) Other premium versions can also alert you to specific allergens such as gluten, soy or lactose.

“Seafood Watch” by Monterey Bay Aquarium – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app allows you to make educated seafood choices at the grocery store and dining out. Sort by “best choice”, “good alternative” and “avoid” categories, you can use the GPS function to find regional guides for your location. Use this app to purchase sustainably caught seafood of all kinds. Add your own discoveries to the database when you find shops or restaurants selling sustainable seafood.

“Skin Deep” by Environmental Working Group – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app isn’t about food, but it is about keeping you healthy.  Use Skin Deep at the store to scan barcodes on your personal care products and receive green/yellow/red hazard ratings as well as ingredient lists.  Using this app can help you avoid toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and make safer choices for yourself and your family. Everything from shampoo and toothpaste to make-up and deodorant can be found in this often-updated app.

Use the comment section below to add your favorite food or health-related app. I’d love to hear from you and how you use your smartphone to make shopping easier. I’m not receiving anything from any of these app producers – I’m just interested in learning more!                             seafood watch app

Wise Traditions 2013 Day Three Synopsis

My apologies for taking so long to get this last blog up. As soon as the final session was over on Sunday we had to jump in the car and head home. For me that was two days of car travel,supergold kvass zukay but then once back home I turned right back around and started on another trip out west to visit more family. I’m writing this now from a hotel room in Tulsa. It’s kind of crazy to go from a weekend of fabulously healthy, farm fresh food for three meals a day straight into the food deserts of the airports and life on the road. I’m thankful to have found Zukay Live Foods Super Gold spicy beet kvass at the Tulsa Whole Foods yesterday. Dr. Mercola said one serving of fermented vegetables (this kvass qualifies for that!) is equal to a whole bottle of probiotic supplements.  Ok, on to my synopsis of the final day’s sessions….

I began the morning in a packed house to hear Dr. Joe Mercola. As usual, he was engaging and funny and had lots of good ideas. His loosely-organized talk on the failed drug system of conventional medicine was really an overview of his own recipe to take control of your own health. He had 12 bullet points with accompanying power point photo illustrations. I’ll list them here, but if you’ve spent any time on his website you are probably familiar with many already. The title of the talk could also be “Optimize Your Gut Flora”.  1. No sugar (you knew this was important!) 2. Reduce grains (or for the bold, eliminate grains entirely) 3. Eat lots of good vegetables and sprouts 4. Eat fermented vegetables, learn to ferment your own vegetables and fruits. We surprised Joe on this one…he said for anyone who had ever made their own fermented vegetables to raise their hand. Pretty much the whole room held hands high, and he was blown away. Said he’d never talked to an audience where the vast majority were fermenters much less even knew about it. This is when he told us that a 2-3oz serving of fermented vegetables has 100 trillion beneficial bacteria and is equal to an entire bottle of probiotic supplements. 6. Grow and eat your own sprouts. He recommends sprouting in soil rather than just in a sprouting dish. Sprouts have 30x the nutrients as the mature vegetable with sunflower seed sprouts being the highest. There are directions on his website on how to sprout using trays of soil. Takes about 5 days from start to finish. 7. Drink pure water. He said this was a good “gateway” first step for anyone wanting to begin the journey to health. 8. Eat a HIGH FAT diet. Especially for anyone who is currently insulin or leptin resistant he recommends using intermittent fasting techniques and converting to a fat-adapted diet rather than a glucose-burning diet. On the topic of fat-burning and eating high fat (good fats like coconut oil, butter) that insulin and leptin resistance lead to heart disease and cancer. Another moment of surprise for Dr. Mercola came when he asked anyone who has had a heart attack to raise their hand. In the packed auditorium of several hundred people only one person raised their hand – Mercola was stunned saying he attributed the low heart attack count to our healthy WAPF diets. 9. Exercise was next. Cardio, sitting killshe says, is not the most efficient. Better exercise is one that activates fast twitch muscles such as the Peak 8 training program. Great photo from this segment was a picture of a comfy chair with the caption “sitting kills”. 10. Grounding or Earthing – going barefoot on the earth or ocean activating a free flow of electrons to replicate natural principles to help naturally thin your blood. 11. Keep cell phones off and away from your body. 12. Small initiatives can make a big differences: say no to GMOs, Fluoride removal from city water supplies, ban mercury in dentistry, and the National Vaccine Information Center.

From Mercola I went upstairs to a more intimate classroom area to hear Dr. Deborah Gordon speak about Preventing Breast Cancer. This class was packed full of information, so much so that I want to do a more in-depth blog just on this topic. So what I give you here is just the surface of the deep pool.  First of all it is important to know that Prevention does not equal  Detection. 68% of women actually think mammograms prevent breast cancer. The industry claims they are the only way, but in reality there are many things you can do to help prevent breast cancer (and all cancers).  Prevention can come both before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important to know your personal risk factor. The Cancer.gov website has a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool you can use to start with. Don’t stop there. Know about all the risk factors. Things like family history, age, race, age of menstruation/menopause, age of first full-term pregnancy, and breastfeeding all play a role. We have all heard of BRCA genes and while genetics themselves are fixed the epigenetics are modifiable. This means the environment we live in and the lifestyle we live. Exposure to radiation, carcinogens, toxic hormone modifiers and other substances are all risk factors we can lower or eliminate by lifestyle choices. Biggest is with food, personal care products, our homes and our lives. Keep cell phones away from your body and NEVER carry them in your bra! Choose organic foods and non-toxic cosmetics and cleaners. Parabens in deodorants are big cancer offenders. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep website to find good products. Never put anything on your skin you can’t safely eat. Sleep in a completely dark room, exercise – especially intense exercise for better hormone/metabolism/insulin. Have a little red wine – One 6oz serving per day at most. Manage your stress! Stress hormones kept low allow all your other glands to operate optimally! Eliminate sugar – many cancers are dependent on sugar, but humans are not. Vitamin D, probiotics, fermented foods, iodine, selenium, turmeric are all good. Statins double the risk of breast cancer.

Third up was a lecture called “Failed Promises-Flawed Science” from retired Col. Dr. Huber, Professor Emeritus Purdue University. Dr. Huber’s research into GMOs is legendary and stretches back 20 years or more to the inception of the biotech industry. This was another lecture that deserves its own blog post (or two or three). For this lecture he focused mainly on the herbicide glyphosate, brand name “Round Up”, used in GMO agriculture. Setting aside the actual GMO plants we learned that glyphosate on its own was a huge problem. It is a chelator of all cations, inhibits enzymes, shuts down the shikimate pathway (which I wrote about here), is a strong antibiotic (glyphosate was first marketed as an antibiotic before being used as an herbicide), and accumulates in shoot, root and reproductive tissues, accumulates in the soils, is toxic to beneficial soil organisms and just all-around nasty. Because of widespread glyphosate usage we are now seeing re-emergence of old diseases as well as brand new ones. Things like Corynespora Root Rot, Goss’ Wilt of Corn, Take-All of Wheat and Sudden Death Syndrome are all plaguing farmers now. It only takes 1/2 oz per ACRE of glyphosate to damage crops with low vigor, lower yields, and lower mineral values. Even after 30 years the glyphosate is still present in fields – it doesn’t go away. Now on to the crops themselves….There is a reduction in the nutrients from 13%-52% in RoundUp Ready (RR) crops. It takes extra fertilizer and micronutrients just to get these crops out of the ground. Animals fed GMO feed struggle due to nutrient deficiencies directly as a result of deficient feed plants. RR plants have a high amount of formaldehyde and contain at least 13% glyphosate within the plant itself. Mice and squirrels will ignore GMO feed corn due to the formaldehyde content. 80% of the beef livers from commercially raised and slaughtered cows have to be thrown away directly due to the premature aging from the GMO feed. 20% of all pregnancies in commercially raised dairy cattle are lost due to insufficiencies in the feed.  Erosion of the stomach and intestines from GMO soy and corn reproduce symptoms of autism in herds of animals eating GMO feed. When the GMO feed is removed the symptoms go away. Glyphosate presents long-term toxicity to liver, kidney and tissues and is a long-term carcinogen. Refining oils from GMO crops (soy, canola) concentrates this effect. We even have a new disease called Morgellan’s disease linked to GMOs.

buchi kombucha

buchi was a sponsor for Wise Traditions

The last session of the day was Kombucha and Cancer Therapies – Historic and Modern from Kombucha Kamp found Hannah Crum. Hannah’s bubbly personality spilled out like effervescent kombucha bringing a joyful tone to the serious topic of cancer.  Something I knew but forgot was that kombucha is not a lacto-fermented beverage like kefir or kvass. Instead it is an acetic acid ferment similar to apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid while kombucha is a more drinkable 1%.  Hannah repeated what Deborah Gordon said about cancer being caused by environmental factors such as diet, toxins, lack of exercise and radiation.  Much of the research done on kombucha is from other countries where kombucha consumption is more the norm than it is in the US.  Stalin urged research on kombucha in the 1800s because he feared getting cancer. His scientists discovered a population in Russia living near an asbestos mine that should have been sick but instead the people were healthy – they drank kombucha. Dr. Rudolf Sklenar in Germany used kombucha to prevent cancer as well as treat and cure it using daily protocols of probiotics and kombucha. More recent research shows promise using kombucha to help heal diabetes, to repair kidneys from exposure to toxins such as carcinogenic solvents, to lower levels of radiation poisoning and to reduce human cancer cell activity. Hannah gave an in depth look at all the good things in kombucha from polyphenols to healing acids, and talked about how kombucha is a “gateway ferment”. People who are new to fermented foods often like kombucha just because it’s fizzy and it tastes good, but they keep drinking it because it makes them feel good.

 

Next year Wise Traditions 2014 will be in Indianapolis – I hope you can attend!

 

 

Wise Traditions 2013 Day Two

Wise Traditions 2013 Day Two  I’m just doing a synopsis of everything instead of in-depth on one thing today:

First talk was by Chris Masterjohn: Fat-soluble vitamins in the prevention of heart disease

He gave a lengthy description of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D & K and talked about how they are best absorbed from true fully-formed sources that are found only in animal foods including fatty fish, butter, eggs and the fat of animals living out of doors. K2 is also found in fermented foods.  Then he described how blood clots form and how arteries get clogged (It’s not what you think – best quote of the talk “Arteries are nothing like pipes!” Plaque occurs underneath the lining of the blood vessel and pushes the artery wall out and backward (not narrower) until it eventually ruptures. The rupture then fills with more plaque and only after successive ruptures does the artery become distorted and narrow. Most of the plaque is made from damaged polyunsaturated fats that were captured and capped off to prevent oxidative damage until the body could successfully eliminate them. Trouble is unhealthy people can’t eliminate damaged fats so they continue to pile up and pile up eventually rupturing the artery.

The fat-soluble vitamins protect by allowing special proteins to bind with calcium and direct it out of the blood and soft tissues and into the bones and teeth where it belongs. Vitamins A&D are both important. One without the other can become toxic, they work together. Vitamin K is supported by A&D. They all work to keep us healthy.

Second session was Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, who has written a new book on bone broth which will be out next year. Kaayla gave a long history of gelatin and canned soups and eventually got down to explaining about the good things in broth which include the following: Gelatin, collagen, cartilage, marrow, proteoglycans (a new word for me that means essential sugars). Broth is useful in forming healthy bone matrix, keeping healthy joints, speeding wound healing, curing some forms of cancer, and curing infections.

Kate Rheaume bleue

Kate Rheaume-Bleue

Kate Rheaume-Bleue was the third presenter I heard today. She has a wonderful new book called Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.  She explained the new research showing those who take calcium supplements are dying of calcified arteries, heart attack and stroke. “Research being done is raising questions that can’t be answered by the research being done.”  Turns out we are calcifying ourselves to death because we are deficient in the fat-soluble vitamin K2. This vitamin is essential – meaning we have to eat it because we cannot manufacture it. But industrial farming and CAFOs have depleted it from our food supply, we eat far less fermented foods than before, and trans fats block K2 activity making a ‘demented’ form of K2 we can’t use.  In factcrowded teeth are almost entirely caused by K2 deficiency during growth years. Women who eat more cheese while they are pregnant (cheese is a good source of K2) will have children with better teeth. K2 takes calcium and puts it where it belongs – in the bones, not in the soft tissues. K2 also counteracts the effects of menopause, heals varicose veins and works as an anti-wrinkle substance. Good food sources of K2 are natto, goose liver, gouda and brie cheese, egg yolk, butter, chicken liver, chicken meat, ground beef, bacon, calf liver, sauerkraut, raw milk, salmon, fish eggs, butter oil and ghee (all animal sources need to be grassfed for optimal K2).

Finally I heard a heartfelt presentation from Kim Schuette of Biodynamic Wellness on the Recovery from Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy and Type 1 Diabetes. Kim explained how the Affordable Healthcare Act was depending on healthy young people to sign up in order to offset the expense of caring for the aging patients. However the government did not take into account the rocketing rise in the rate of mental health issues afflicting our younger population. 150,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed daily, type 1 diabetes rates have risen 23% from 2001 to 2009.  Strong mental health begins with a strong and healthy gut flora population. But many things damage the gut including improperly prepared grains, pasteurized dairy, sugar, toxic metals and chemicals, antibiotics and chlorinated water. Damaged gut wall eventually results in leaky gut, immune system overload and eventually allergies. The only way to heal is to eliminate the offending items, nourish the body with real food, detox from the ordeal and repair the gut. Nourishing foods include fats as the foundation of all healthy hormones and cell membranes, minerals that act as catalysts to assist the body in utilizing the vitamins, detoxing our bodies and assisting the liver to clean it out, exercising to stimulate the lymph system and repairing with more healthy fats.  Early intervention is always best. The GAPS diet is helpful in doing all of these steps to recovery. Kim then went on to relate four different case studies from her own patients. One teenage girl had bipolar at age 9 and was considered a hopeless case by her doctor. She is now completely healed and living a normal life. Another young boy at age 2 had seizures and went blind and his parents were told to institutionalize him. He is now on the path to wellness, has regained his sight and is able to talk and interact with his family. One young lady was cured of her type 1 diabetes and is now completely off her insulin.

I love hearing the amazing stories of healing and hope given by the wonderful presenters. Tomorrow is the final day. More exciting information to come!

Wise Traditions 2013 Radical Nutrition with Louisa Williams session 1

louisa williams

Louisa Williams, Radical Medicine

Today was Day One of the 2013 Wise Traditions conference of the Weston A Price Foundation in Atlanta, GA.  I spent the whole day, from 10a.m. to 5p.m., listening to Louisa Williams, author of Radical Nutrition.  I have tons of notes and lecture handouts, but I just want to put things down in writing here to help cement in my brain everything that she said. So I’m afraid this won’t be very organized, just going to stream out what I have down and hope it will be of help to you too.

Louisa Williams’ topic today was Removing the Obstacles to Cure.  You can go to her website, radicalmedicine.com to learn more about her and her medical practice. Her book, Radical Medicine, is an in-depth look at curing acute and chronic illness from a holistic and homeopathic viewpoint.

Here goes….The 20th century was a time of radical change, both for the good and for the bad.  Good things include the advancements made in hygiene and sanitation such as indoor plumbing, running water, daily baths and showers; also other areas of sanitation in daily living; and the invention of refrigeration including home refrigerators to keep food fresh.

The list of bad things that came out of the 20th century make up a list that Dr. Williams calls “7 Major Toxic Insults”.

1. The invention and subsequent widespread use of petrochemicals such as insecticides that have found their way into the water, air and soil.

2. Mercury amalgam fillings in every baby boomer’s mouth. Mercury fillings were developed to fill a need for ‘cheap, easy and fast’ ways to fill the ever increasing amounts of cavities in the general population.

3. Widespread mandatory injections of vaccines. In 1950 a total of 7 vaccines per child were required. Now by the time a child reaches college they will receive 69 vaccines. Dr. Sabin, the co-inventor of the polio vaccine, spoke out against vaccines saying “they are a failure”. Tim O’Shea states “vaccination is not immunization” there have been no double-blind tests done on vaccines.

4. Pervasive EMF stress through wifi, electric cars, and smart meters on houses.

5. Widspread use of GMOs – carcinogenic Bt crops.  There is a website now hoping to catalog all of the restaurants in the U.S. that pledge to be GMO-free.  http://www.nongmoorganicrestaurants.com

6. Direct-to-consumer advertising, which first began in 1997, to have celebrity endorsements and advertising of prescription drugs directly to the general public rather than to the medical community.

7. Overuse of antibiotics

A healthy lifestyle is no longer enough to achieve good health in the face of the 7 Toxic Insults. We must use natural healing according to the wise traditions of our ancestors.

When you remove the toxic obstacles to healing then your amazing Weston A Price diet will work.

Allopathic medicine – “other than or against” the disease. Treat disease by using medicine antagonists and suppressors to disease symptoms, such as antihistamins, antitussives anti-inflammatory, antibiotic

Naturopathic – support body’s immune system to heal itself.

Pesticide use: in 1950 10% of cornfields were sprayed, In 1993 99% of cornfields were sprayed, In 1929 the Swann Chemical company (later incorporated by Monsanto) made the first PCBs which were subsequently banned in 1976, but PCBs are still found all over the globe.

Read Stolen Future by Theo Colborn

Environmental Working Group study in 2002 “Body Burden” – average baby as 200 toxic chemicals in their cord blood at birth – placenta does not protect. The mother must avoid these chemicals if the baby is to stay unexposed.  So how do we change? How do we protect ourselves?  CHANGE PERSONAL CARE AND CLEANING PRODUCTS! This is one of the most simple and important ways to detox – change your cosmetics and soaps!  Read the labels!

Don’t buy/use isopropyl alcohol – use natural alcohols from a health food store.  Avoid parabens! They’re BAD! Cause CANCER!

Dr. Philippa Darbre, Oncologist, found parabens inside the tumors of 18 out of 20 women with breast cancer. The parabens came from skin application such as deodorants, lotions, etc.)

EPIGENETICS! We turn on our genetic tendency to cancer when we bathe and use cosmetics with toxic chemicals.  People have “gene myopia” – we think genes control our destiny.

Read Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution: the Lamarchian Dimension by Jean Baptiste Lamarch

The cosmetic industry in Europe highly regulates their ingredients. The FDA does none. Regulation is given to the industry itself. Even companies with holistic reputation use bad ingredients. Solvents used to extract ingredients are not required to be listed at all in spite of residue remaining in the product.

EPA study in 1991 found toxic solvents in 100% of all perfumes. 95% of all perfumes contained other toxic chemicals.

We need to replace our personal care products with non-toxic versions. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep  www.ewg.org/skindeep and www.radicalmeddicine.com lists of products.

Detoxification support can be enhanced with “Russian Algae” from Biosuperfood  F1. It is strong enough to detox radiation poisoning and heavy metal poisoning. Binds toxic metals and chemicals to eliminate them. www.bioage.com This supplement also functions as a multi-vitamin.

Back pain is hardly ever just back pain. It is inflammation of vital organs manifesting elsewhere in the body.

MRT – matrix reflext test a kind of kinesiology testing used to determine healing strategies

“The harmless aspect of the familiar…” – Rachel CarsoJust because your friends use these products they are not ok. Cancer and disease is silent and relentless.

Remove the toxins from your home: cleaning products, non-toxic bedding, don’t buy brand new homes (or else deliberately allow them to off gas all the toxins before you move in). Visit Mary Cordaro’s website www.marycordaro.com an expert in the field of homes and furninshings.  Read Natural Home Magazine.  Don’t buy new cars.  Ann Arbor, MichiganEcologyCenter rates cars – most and least toxic.  Least toxic car 2012 Honda Civic (Prius most toxic)

www.beyondpesticides.org and www.panna.org

Supplements are not always good either. Many are synthetic vitamin isolates, inorganic minerals and toxic excipients.  Read Empty Harvest by Dr. Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson.  Even back in 1936 99% of Americans were deficient in minerals.  Beware of the “other” ingredients in your supplements. Stearates are hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Magnesium stearate reduces the absorption of the actual supplement.  >>a good vitamin C is Pure Radiance C from www.thesynergycompany.com

Time-release medicines are coated in phthalates.  U.S. is most highly medicated and vaccinated country and yet we rank 29th in life expectancy.

Dr. Barbara Starfield in JAMA 2000 reported allopathic medicine itself was the 3rd leading cause of death in hospitals.  Google Death By Medicine – Dr. Gary Null

1 in 4 people over age 45 are on statin drugs.  Read The Great Cholesterol Con,   Watch Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-up DVD

Pesticides interfere with vitamin A pathways. Eating organic foods provides immediate protection from toxic chemicals.

We must remove the obstacles to cure found in our personal care products, cleaners, cars and supplements.  International College of Applied Kinesiology can recommend practitioners and dentists.  Also check www.Primaldocs.com

That was the end for session 1. There are 2 more sessions but it is late and I will stop here.