Archive for June, 2009

Naked Pot Pie

One night recently when I was unable to cook because I wasn’t feeling well, my husband cooked this meal up with ingredients we already had in the house. It was incredibly delicious! Who says pot pie has to have a crust? This one certainly didn’t, and you won’t miss it with all the wonderful, comforting flavors included in it. Perfect meal for the whole family. You can also serve it with some nice, warm homemade bread and a salad.

Rue ingredients for sauce:

  • 1/2 a cup real butter
  • Organic, sprouted flour of your choice (whole wheat, buckwheat, or spelt, for example)
  • 1/2 cup unpasteurized milk
  • 1/2 cup whole or home made yogurt

Pie ingredients:

  • Cooked pasture-raised, organic chicken or other type of meat – ham or turkey for instance, diced or cut into pieces of size you prefer.
  • Organic carrots
  • Organic celery (1 – 2 stalks)
  • Organic Peas
  • 1 large organic potato of your choice (we used a red potato)
  • Organic broccoli (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika

Amounts for meat and vegetables are based on your own preference. We seldom measure those things out when we cook. This recipe should make enough for 3-4 people.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the sauce (a rue):

On low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter in a small sauce pan. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is the consistency of glue.  Slowly stir in milk and yogurt until mixture is blended and warm. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Keep on low and stir occasionally. Optional – you can add a teaspoon of arrowroot to thicken sauce.

Pie ingredients:

  1. In a frying pan that is suitable for oven cooking (we use stainless steel All-Clad), melt a 1/4 cup butter on medium-low heat.
  2. Start adding meat, potatoes, diced carrots, peas, celery, onions, broccoli (optional), salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add 1/4 teaspoon of paprika. Cook until vegetables are sauteed, but not overdone. Make certain the potatoes are cooked well.
  4. Pour sauce evenly over meat and vegetables.
  5. Put a layer of parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until the top of your pie is bubbly and slightly brown.
  7. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

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Want to Lose Weight? DETOX!

Are you constantly trying to manage your weight and feel as though you can never get rid of excess pounds? The battle you are fighting might just have more to do with toxins in your body than being “fat” or the amount of exercise you are getting.  It’s time to take a good look at the chemical load you are placing on your body each and every day, and its impact on your weight.

Everything in our environment plays a critical role on our weight, believe it or not – and not just the food we eat and the amount of exercise we get – the air we breathe, the products we use in our homes and places of business, the water we drink, the water we use for washing and bathing, and everything in our environment can affect our weight. Something has to convince our population that our collective weight problem is not because of saturated fat and lack of enough exercise – it’s from all the toxins we continually dump into our bodies and all the toxins around us in the environment. What we are eating is mostly garbage – from our meat and dairy supply to our fruits and vegetables – full of chemicals and toxins. Our food isn’t food anymore!

What about saturated fat?

If the problem were as a result of eating too much saturated fat – there would be an abundance of evidence – but everywhere you look medical and health professionals advise people to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, eat low-fat foods, load up on “healthy” polyunsaturated fats – and the products available in the stores are marketed to that end, and people are buying them. So let’s ask a very important question – if saturated fat is the enemy, and we’re all avoiding it as we’ve been told, why do we have the epic obesity problem we do? Our real problem lies in what  foods we are eating – industrially-produced, food-like substances that contain no real nutrients or minerals, fat, protein, or calories. The reality is, saturated fat from healthy sources is and always will be an essential building block of health. We cannot live (very well) without it!

Getting enough fiber?

We have other problems too, such as that we are receiving far less fiber than we need and are consuming massive amounts of sugar in our daily diets in the form of various sweeteners, grain products, refined flours, and the saturated fat and protein foods we are eating are the wrong kinds (from pollluted, factory farms) – and of course the portions are staggeringly large. If people ate healthy, saturated fats and proteins, their bodies would feel full at appropriate levels. But with factory farm food, your body never feels full (big surprise, because it’s not real food!) so you keep eating and eating.

Then there’s the fact that we are told to eat low-carbohydrate foods – so we do this, and it puts a tremendous strain on our digestive tract – liver, colon, gallbladder, and pancreas. Even though you may come across people who claim to have lost weight on low-carb plans, in the long run, the repercussions of such diets on health are extremely harmful at best.

What’s the solution?

Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Fast Track Detox Diet, believes the connection between weight and toxicity is critical – “The more toxic your body becomes, the more difficulty you’ll have losing weight.” We pollute ourselves everyday with all the things around us – and that these substances are stored as fat in our cells. In her book, Gittleman goes in-depth about all the different toxins in our world and how they affect our health and our weight – from the foods we eat to the water we drink to the products we use in our homes and places of business.

Many people who are considered obese or overweight are not really suffering from simply being fat – they are suffering from toxin overload in their cells. More than sixty different diseases are tied to being overweight. The United States has some of the highest obesity rates in the world. Over 60 percent are overweight and at least 30 percent of adults are obese. Nearly 20 million children are also in that category.

A well-known author and one of the country’s most respected nutritionists, Gittleman offers a treatment of detoxification that is thorough and easy to understand. Using whole, traditional foods, she will expertly guide you through a straight-forward detoxification that includes a healthy diet designed to support your nutritional and health needs before, during, and after the detox. The plan she has created involves an 11-day regimen where only one of those days requires fasting. Fasting is an ancient and timeless practice used by peoples all around the planet as a means to encourage the body to purge unwanted substances and return to a state of health. The remaining days include a diet replete with real, whole foods to boost your metabolism and continue the process of removing dangerous toxins from your body that are ruining your health.

How does detoxing work?

One of the basic premises of detoxing is giving up certain foods and beverages in your diet in order to allow your body to purge the unhealthy substances it is holding onto – and with the intent  that you will not just abandon these foods for the detox, but that you will embrace this new way of eating, a lifestyle we will call it, for the remainder of your earthly days. After all, leaving these foods behind only for the purposes of detoxing defeats the purpose of the important work you will do for your body. It would only undermine your efforts and cause you to have to start over. What a waste of time, money, and health! Instead of the unhealthy choices, then, you replace (hopefully for good) the food you’ve been eating with nutrient dense, organic, whole, traditional foods.

What foods do you have to give up? Processed,  industrially-produced, nutritionally-empty foods including, but not limited to:

  • processed grain products like pasta, crackers, most breads, packaged cereals
  • food bars
  • bottled dressings and sauces
  • sugary beverages (including juice)
  • processed dairy including milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt
  • industrially-produced factory meats, fish, poultry, and eggs
  • conventionally-grown produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • any other food that is processed or contains chemicals or toxins (read labels and avoid foods in packages, cans, or boxes)

If this sounds difficult to do, consider the alternative which is living a life filled with health issues and disease. Which would you choose?

Colon health support is important

Make sure you are getting enough fiber Fiber supports the function your colon was intended to doThere are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble fiber carries out toxins with it (fecal matter) when it goes. Here are some good insoluble fiber sources: whole grains, vegetables, seeds, lignans, cellulose, and bran.

Soluble fiber is softer and can be dissolved in water. This type of fiber boosts our supply of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, helping our system maintain proper digestion and immune function. Good sources for soluble fiber include: fruits, legumes and oats (soaked overnight in purified water and whey, kefir, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice), and some raw nuts and seeds (soaked and dehydrated). Fiber is important because it helps the body to slow down our metabolization of food which in turn balances our blood sugar. Fiber also insures the food goes through our digestive tract at a rate fast enough to prevent  food from rotting and building up toxins. If you have ever doubted, do not now – adequate fiber prevents heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and many other health problems.

If you believe the health of your colon doesn’t affect your overall health, consider the rising number of incidences of digestive diseases such as IBS, celiac disorder, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel, not to mention colon cancer. Colon cancer in people under 50 is actually on the increase – despite the recommendation by physicians for patients to receive colon screenings and tests. And remember that when doctors do find cancer in colon screenings, the solution offered is usually drugs or surgery. Drugs and surgery are not going to solve the inherent problem that is causing the cancer – they will only temporarily diffuse those issues, and in most cases, make problems worse by destroying the immune system.

Rarely is much emphasis placed on a truly healthy diet and lifestyle. It should be obvious that if you have a blocked colon (and most people in developed countries do), your health cannot function optimally. As a result, if you do not take care in what you eat, you will suffer from these illnesses.

Liver support is critical too

Your liver is the largest organ in your body, and must conduct an enormous amount of filtering of toxins to keep your body healthy. If you have a clogged colon, your liver will have to deal with more toxins that are absorbed into your bloodstream because your colon cannot adequately perform its own function. This is when the liver becomes overloaded and health issues take over.  And this is also where weight gain can occur.

What types of foods support liver function? Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli sprouts. Then there’s the green leafies like chard, kale, parsley, beet greens, collard greens, escarole, dandelion and mustard greens. Citrus fruits are important too – lemons, oranges, and limes. You also need foods containing sulfur such as onions, raw garlic, daikon radish, and eggs. Finally, you need to include other foods like artichoke, celery, asparagus, beets, whey, dandelion root tea, and nutritional yeast flakes.

So how do you lose toxins, maintain health, and also lose weight?

  • You must be willing to detox yourself and rid your body of the harmful chemicals that are keeping you from health and your optimal weight.
  • You must be willing to give up processed foods, and learn about and eat healthier choices – grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry, organically produced fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, unpasteurized raw dairy products from a safe source, and naturally fermented foods with probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables.
  • You must be willing to look at getting healthy as a holistic activity – that everything you do affects your body and your weight. If you are only willing to cut out a couple of things and keep everything else the same, your chances of success will be low.
  • You must be willing to commit yourself to a lifestyle change after detox. The detox is just the beginning, not a one-time activity you engage in and then return to old habits. For most people, one detox is not going to do the trick, either. A lifetime of poor eating habits and bad nutrition pollute our bodies to such an extent that we need a great deal of detoxing. Health maintenance and support relies on your promise to your body and yourself to make permanent changes necessary to maintain health that will bring about wellness you never realized could be possible.

This is why in any lifestyle change plan, your goal should not be to lose weight – it should be to remove toxins and become healthier. As a result of doing this, you will lose weight if your body needs to do so – and it will be a natural by-product of elminating all the toxic chemicals residing in your tissues and cells causing you illness, disease, and yes, inability to maintain your natural weight. If you continue to engage in fad diets to lose weight, you will constantly be battling health problems and you will never be able to really lose the weight you want.

For more information on toxins and chemical loads in the body and our environment, read Your Toxic Load: How Does it Affect Your Health?

For more information on cleansing and detoxification, read How Cleansing Positively Affects Your Health

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What Do Farms and Antibiotic Drugs Have in Common?

It may seem like an odd connection, but farms and drugs are closer than you think. Just how much do we use antibiotics to treat and prevent illness? Of the many people who have taken antibiotics during their lifetime as prescribed from a doctor, how many have never had any? It’s pretty certain that number would be exceedingly low. The use of antibiotics for everything from strep to staph infections to the common cold has become proliferate in modern society. It is not uncommon for a person to take antibiotic drugs 3 – 5 times per year.

From Medical News Today, a November 2008 article released the following information:

“in 35 hospitals studied in 2006, about 63.5% of discharged patients (492,721 of 775,731) received an antibacterial drug. Data from five years in 22 hospitals revealed that between 2002 and 2006, the average total antibacterial use increased from 798 days of therapy per every 1,000 patient-days to 855 per 1,000 patient-days”.

According to a recent article in Infectious Disease News:

The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey was used in 1992 to assess antibiotic prescribing practices for children given a diagnosis of common cold, upper respiratory tract infection, or bronchitis (Nyquist et al, JAMA). This study found that antibiotics were prescribed to 44% of children with common colds, 46% with upper respiratory tract infections, and 75% with bronchitis. The same study reported that an estimated 53 percent of children ages 3 -17 who presented with sore throats and tested positive for step bacteria were administered antibiotics.

Antibiotics on the farm

Besides the doctor’s office and hospital, much of the meat and dairy products we eat contain antibiotics. According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, approximately 70 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. are now fed to animals raised for human consumption.  For decades farmers have administered antibiotics to animals to keep them from getting sick – and the sickness rate is high in a factory farm environment where animals are crammed together in close quarters, standing in their own feces and unable to move to cleaner areas, and are fed the wrong kinds of foods – genetically-modified grains, corns, and soy – which make ruminants sick (that’s cattle), who are intended to eat and digest grasses, clover, and alfalfa.

Animals receive antibiotics such as tetracyclines, Penicillins, sulfonamidesin, and macrolides, directly in their feed and/or water, and this low-grade dosing continues throughout most of their short lives. The practice of treating all animals – even those who aren’t sick – encourages the growth and mutation of virulent strains of bacteria that can and do spread to humans.

“Antibiotic medicines are losing effectiveness on humans due to their increased use in animal feed,” said Margaret Mellon, Ph.D, JD, director of the food and environment program for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Animals raised in natural environments rarely require the use of antibiotics. Americans who choose meat produced this way are making conscious decisions to ensure that  antibiotics will still be working when they or their family need them.”

Here are some startling statistics (from Orville Schell, “The Reliance on Drugs in the U.S. Meat Industry) :

  • In 1979, U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers marketed $243.7 million worth of antibiotics for animal use. Since 1960, the annual consumption rate has risen almost ten-fold. In 1978, the FDA estimated that over six million pounds of antibiotics ended up in animals, much of it in meat producing animals for human consumption.
  • Since 1949, when anti-microbial feed additives were first discovered to promote weight gain as well as control disease, more than one billion head of cattle have been raised with them. In the U.S., almost all chickens and turkeys, 85 percent of all hogs, 75 percent of all cattle and 50 percent of all sheep are now fed low daily doses of antibiotics for prolonged periods of time.

What happens when we consume meat full of antibiotics?

The continued consumption of antibiotic-containing meat increases the rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. According to information released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, food-borne illnesses are becoming more difficult to treat due to the increase in antibiotic-resistant strains and the decreased effectiveness of antibiotics used as a first-line defense.

Food-borne bacteria are caused largely as a result of repeated antibiotic use. More dangerous even than their antibiotic-resistant counterparts, food-borne bacteria are more difficult to treat and may require multiple dosing of antibiotics, lengthier hospital stays, and various other interventions before being destroyed.

This resistant bacteria has been the cause of an additional burden on our health care system to the tune of 4 to 5 billion dollars annually. Of roughly 2.4 million Campylobacter infections in the U.S., nearly half of these have been found to be resistant to at least one antibiotic. Nearly 14 percent of these are resistant to at least two or more drugs.

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD., C.N.S. (author of Nutrition With A Mission and The Fast Track Detox Diet) says that when you eat a large amount of protein and cheese from conventionally-raised animals, you are taking into your body secondhand antibiotics from those animals – and that those drugs basically kill off your body’s store of friendly bacteria (stored in your digestive tract which houses your immune system), making you vulnerable to disease and illness. Without these good bacteria, you cannot digest vitamins, eliminate toxins, nor absorb fiber. When your body is depleted of this flora, you are at risk for developing diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, candida, irritable bowel, and many others.

The vegetarian argument against eating meat

Vegetarians and vegans alike will site the presence of antibiotics in meat as a good reason to avoid eating it. There are a variety of other reasons vegetarians offer against meat eating as well. But the rationale behind avoiding  meat fails to take into account the fact that good, naturally-raised meats are available which do not have these health risks and should be eaten in order to maintain health. If all you are eating is factory-raised meat, then there are certainly many reasons why that variety is harmful to health and should be avoided.

For more information about healthy meat, read:

Why Meat Gets the Heat

Whole and Healthy Meat…Does it Really Exist?

Fruits and vegetables are not exempt

Conventionally produced produce is can also be exposed to antibiotics. When farmers use fertilizer from animals that are administered antibiotics, those substances are transferred to the growing fruits and vegetables.

The Journal of Environmental Quality released a report in 2005 ( published in New Standard News) that three test crops – corn, green onions and cabbage were found to absorb chlortetracycline through the soil in which they are grown. “The drug, which is part of the tetracycline class of antibiotics, is often administered to pigs and other farmed animals as part of their food. Since the animals cannot process all of the drug, it is passed along in feces, which are then packaged and sold for use as fertilizer.

Earlier studies examining the use of antibiotics in animal feed found that their presence can kill or stunt plant growth. The overuse of antibiotics can also contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and germ strains”.

What can you do to avoid antibiotics?

Maintain a healthy diet: avoid ALL conventionally-raised meats, dairy products, and produce! Here is a list of things to eat:

  • Organic, grass-fed meats (beef, lamb, pork, and game) and pasture-raised poultry, eggs from pasture-raised poultry
  • Organic, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Organically-sourced, healthy fats like extra virgin coconut and olive oil, palm oils, flax seed oil, real dairy products – milk butter, cheese, and cream – from pasture-raised cows
  • Organic raw nuts and seeds
  • True whole, organic grains that are sprouted and soaked
  • Home-made fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables

If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and find yourself becoming sick, try natural treatments first before rushing to out for prescription drugs and other medications. Be willing to try several things before going on to pharmaceutical intervention – each person’s body is individual, and a one-size-fits all treatment plan simply won’t work for everyone.

Here is a short list of useful and powerful treatments for various ailments: colloidal silver, oil of oregano, raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, aloe vera juice or gel, and a variety of many different herbs and plants. Seek the guidance of a  knowledgeable health care practioner who can guide you through treatment to maximize your dollar and minimize time you spend getting well.

This article is posted on Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please take a look at all the other great real food articles posted there!

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Being a Food Activist in a World Driven by Tradition, Control, & Profit

Do you wonder about where your food comes from? Are you frustrated by the current system managing our food supply? Do you find that obtaining food from a reputable, healthy source seems difficult and you desire to make a change? Do you believe everyone has a right to safe food from clean sources? If you answered yes to these questions, you might be a food activist.

Lately, food has become very political and having an opinion on food can actually lead to a great deal of dissension in relationships with other people, groups, and organizations. But through activism, persistence, and education, we really can make a difference and change the way our food is produced for the common good. Being a food activist is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s why:

What is a food activist?

A food activist is someone who cares about where our food comes from and who makes a conscientious effort to support local and sustainable agriculture whether it be to become an actual sustainable farmer or food producer, or to be a consumer of sustainable products. A food activist also becomes involved in some way with education and dissemination of information about sustainable living and food to the public and wider communities.

Why should we care where our food comes from, and what difference does it make being a food activist?

The loss of local food production has been devastating.  Diminished food production causes the necessity for our food to travel lengthy distances over many days or weeks to reach your dinner table. The result of this travel and toxin exposure is the loss of nutritional density and flavor. Distance traveled by our food also contributes to wastes of energy that can only be maintained by government subsidies and the acquisition of cheaper oil which is dictated by foreign policy. The Worldwatch Institute reports “in the United States, refrigerating, transporting, and storing food uses eight times as much energy as is provided by the food itself.”

Indeed, industrial farming has had widespread implications:

  • The presence of this type of toxic farming has not only led to the destruction of our soil, but also our water, and air.
  • Pesticides sprayed on commercial crops are then fed to animals. This causes health problems for the animals and you when you eat the meat and other products from these animals.
  • The use of medications and antibiotics in animal production is heavy and has contributed to resistant-strain bacteria. We are also finding that increasing amounts of our foods contain chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers, and toxins which cause further damage to our health and the environment.
  • Factory farms also contribute greatly to the overall human-caused component of climate change occurring.
  • The economic impact of industrial farming is also substantial, and it should be noted that the far-reaching implications of all factors mentioned here only add to the weighty economic burden in which our nation now finds itself.

Who stands to gain from all of this?

None other than agribusiness giants, food manufacturers, processors, and related corporations, lobbyists, special interest groups, and the government. All are pushing and making legal unethical ideals, practices, regulations, and laws in exchange for power and profit.

Who loses in the conventional, industrial food system?

The environment due to the input of massive toxic chemicals, mismanagement of resources, and the accumulation of concentrated animal wastes. Since 1960, half of our topsoil has disappeared. We are currently experiencing the loss of topsoil 17 times faster than it can be replaced.

Farmers industrial farming only pays the farmer 7 cents per food dollar. The majority is paid to marketers, processors, and input suppliers. The result is a dramatic concentration of factory and industrial farmland as well as the loss of smaller, family farms. The region of western North Carolina alone has experienced a loss of 70% of farmland in the last 50 years.

The consumer because the food we consume is now developed and grown for transportation and shelf life rather than for nutrition or taste, we lose control of how food is produced because we no longer have a relationship with the farmers who produce our food. We have experienced a loss of countryside, forests, and of farms. Most significant of all, our health is profoundly impacted by the mechanism of factory, for-profit, and industrial farming. Our life spans are longer, but we are now experiencing degenerative and chronic diseases at a larger and more frequent rate than ever before in history. Our children are also now developing these disorders at younger ages than the previous generation.

The animals in industrial farming, animals are treated in the most inhumane manner and live in ghastly conditions. They are not allowed to behave normally, are exposed to filthy environments, are often subjected to gross abuse and neglect, and by these standards are unable to live happy lives (and sometimes they don’t even get exposed to sunlight). There’s only one question to ask here – Do you really want to support business that makes money in this manner and consume meat coming from animals in these conditions?

What can YOU do to help our food system?

Eat local food! The biggest criticism people have about sustainable and organic food is that there is no feasible way to feed organic, healthy food to everyone. But if each community started supporting their own local agriculture, food growers, and merchants, we’d find that assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. The whole point of supporting local efforts to grow and produce food is just that – when you support it, it thrives and feeds its community.

It’s really quite simple,  but has become complicated by arcane laws and regulations that were originally put into place to feed massive amounts of people for the cheapest price – and allowing the almighty dollar to be the prevailing factor – which has now completely overtaken our health care and food systems like never before in history. When you place profit over health and well-being, there will always be consequences.

Do research online to locate local, sustainable farmers and food producers. EVERY community has them. Many communities now have weekly farmer’s markets where farmers and merchants come together in one convenient location to offer the best of your community.

Don’t be discouraged by the mantra you may hear from some people who say that eating healthier is more expensive. Eating healthy can cost more up front, but it doesn’t always have to be incredibly expensive. You can also find economical buys and deals within your local community because the food doesn’t have to travel (remember, food costs more if it has to travel from somewhere else).

Learn to do everything from scratch at home soak or sprout your own grains, sprout, ferment, make yogurt, make lacto-fermented vegetables with whey from your raw milk or home made yogurt, etc. If you don’t know how, do a search online – there is a wealth of information available at your fingertips for free.

Don’t forget the hidden costs of eating industrial food environment, economic impact, taxes, the health care system, your own health, etc. These are all costs that must be accounted for – and even if it’s not now, a day will come , whether it is in the near or distant future, when the cost must be paid by YOU.

Join organizations and spread the word! Learn about local and national that place an emphasis on fighting for safe, sustainable food:

Start a garden or join a community garden group. Try the American Community Garden web site. Visit the Backyard Gardener site for a wealth of information about getting started and maintaining your own garden.

Start a blog, write articles, or write a book. There is always more room in the world for good writers who can convey their thoughts to others and motivate people through the written word.

Read books, watch films, and educate yourself on the issues. Some great places to start are The Ominvore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Also look for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Edible Action: Food Activism and Alternative Economics by Sally Miller and The End of Food by Paul Roberts. Great films include Food, Inc., King Corn, SuperSize Me, Fresh, Fast Food Nation, Fat Head, and The Oiling of America.

Learn about the laws and regulations governing our food, sign petitions (Just Food: Food & Farm Issues and Food Democracy Now ) and contact your congressmen, local legislature, and the President. Visit the USDA and FDA web sites and contact these agencies with questions and concerns.

This article is featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please go visit Kristen’s site and have a look at all the other great real food posts there.

Do you have experiences with food activism that you’d like to share? How have your efforts made a difference? We want to hear from you!

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Do You Eat Right for Your Blood Type? Find Out?!

It’s no secret that for many years I ate processed foods and my health suffered for it.  At one point in my search for answers to my failing health, I came across a book called Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type written by naturopathic physician Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo.  Over the years we’ve  seen many “diets”, “plans”, and “fads” come and go in eating and health communities – The South Beach diet, Atkins, fat-free and low-fat diets, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, grapefruit…and the list goes on. In my opinion, any diet which instructs the user to eat fake foods or processed foods or avoid perfectly good, real, whole foods like red meat (which many of these diet plans most certainly do) is a recipe for destruction of the human body. It just makes sense that if it’s natural and organic, you should eat it – including butter, eggs, and meat.

www.mypicshares.com

The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type diet is unique in that unlike fad diets, it is not a diet so much as a lifestyle change that suggests modifications in your current diet to specific foods that compliment your blood type. The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type diet refers the individual to real, whole, traditional foods – it does not recommend avoiding fats and carbohydrates and advocate eating artificially-produced, processed food items. This book is so wise in its pedagogy, I felt it certainly needed inclusion in some reading recommendations for people interested in following the traditional, whole foods approach to health and diet.

The premise of this book is that  there is but one genetic bio-marker that can depict how we digest and absorb food, what are our predisposition toward specific diseases, and  the best way to keep your body healthy and strong, and maintain energy: our blood types. It takes into account that we do have certain tendencies based on our genetic background, but that what we eat and put into our bodies also has a profound effect on our physiology and health.

My blood type is O. There are certain characteristics of my blood type that undeniably follow those listed in the book. The Type O of ancient history was an aggressive predator when it came to survival and locating food. Type O of modern day will have the following characteristics that remain from that original biochemistry – leadership, extroversion, energy, and ability to focus. Although Type Os can be powerful and productive, stress and lack of food can cause a deterioration in these traits and the Type Os countenance can descend into hyperactivity, anger, and impulsiveness. When unhealthy diet habits are kept and exercise levels go down, Type Os are vulnerable to the following health issues – insulin resistance, thyroid problems, and weight gain. I had insulin resistance for a number of years as well as low thyroid.

Diet recommendations are as follows:

“To avoid becoming overstressed, Dr. D’Adamo recommends following the Type O diet, which focuses on lean, organic meats, vegetables and fruits and avoid wheat and dairy which can be triggers for digestive and health issues in Type O. Additionally, he suggests that Type O’s avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine can be particularly harmful because of its tendency to raise adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are already high for Type O’s”. (from the Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type web site).

When I originally read the diet recommendations in this book for Type Os, I was daunted by the idea of eliminating wheat and dairy, as these were staples in my diet. I didn’t eat a lot of red meat because I had been taught by everything and everyone around me that red meat was unhealthy to consume. When one of the health practitioners I had been seeing suggested I eliminate wheat from my diet, I didn’t think I could do it. But I finally decided I had to if I wanted any chance of getting well. Months later, after revamping my diet and removing all the elements that were causing my health issues, I started realizing that these recommendations fell right in line with the book.

What about vegetarians and vegans?

Although I believe vegetarian and vegan diets are unhealthy, this book does take into account some people’s inability to consume a lot of protein and fat, and it has recommendations for blood types that fall into a higher carbohydrate category than someone like me, a Type O who salivates over meat and protein and simply cannot get enough. I actually do know some people who seem to thrive on lower amounts of protein and fat, and eat a great deal more carbohydrates.

The main issue I have with these habits is that most people I know who avoid meat and meat proteins tend to eat a rash of processed, toxic grain, nut, and soy products to make up for the missing protein in their diets. I haven’t figured out yet why a vegetarian would eat so few vegetables and so much processed foods, but I’ve watched it happen over and over again with puzzled wonderment. To those I know who are vegetarian, I always recommend that if you absolutely insist that you will NOT eat meat, you should at the very least be eating lots of coconut oil, cod liver oil, whole, organic, raw dairy products like milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt and lacto-fermented vegetables and other preparations.

I believe in my heart of hearts, knowing what I now do about nutrition, that if vegetarians and vegans began incorporation of healthy fats and proteins from meat and dairy products into their diets, they would begin to realize a feeling of wellness and health benefits never before imagined.

Real grains and dairy

Now, some of the things that are not mentioned in the book are the benefits of sprouting and soaking grains and consuming raw dairy. I have found that when I consume grains prepared properly – through soaking and sprouting, and eat dairy products in their raw forms, I have no trouble with these foods at all. Still, I maintain my grain consumption at a moderate level because I had trouble with carbohydrates and grains for so many years.

It is important to recognize this distinction – that Dr. D’Adamo is likely referring to the processed, toxic varieties of dairy and wheat, especially since most people don’t seek out whole grains to sprout and soak, and do not buy unprocessed, raw dairy products. Repeatedly I hear success stories of people who weren’t previously able to eat grains and dairy, and who changed their dietary habits to soaking and sprouting grains, and eating raw dairy – and experienced astounding results. I believe that if everyone stopped eating all the processed wheat and dairy and started eating real, whole, soaked and sprouted grains and raw dairy, we’d see a profound change in the health of all citizens in developed countries. If the only thing you have access to is processed, toxic wheat and dairy, I’d say it’s best to avoid it altogether.

I’m not saying this book is the cure for everyone’s health ailments – only that it was something I encountered early on in my quest for health, and originally rejected because I believed it to be just another health fad book, only to find that years later I was actually following the recommendations in this book for my blood type all along once I figured out what was right for me. It is my hope that others may have the same experience if they are struggling with health issues and having trouble getting their health back on track. And I believe the book is a solid foundation for health because it follows many of the tenets and principles of the paleo diet and traditional, whole foods wisdom.

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Your Voice Can Make a Difference in the Way Children Eat School Lunch

Obesity. Diabetes. Heart Disease. High Blood Pressure. Auto-immune disorders. Allergies. Food intolerances. Are you familiar with any of these illnesses? Chances are, you know someone who is suffering with one of these problems. Maybe silently. Maybe it’s you!

We hear statistics everyday in the media about these health issues and how they are on the rise for people living in developed countries. It’s now affecting our children, and we need to do something definitive about it. Here are the statistics:

  • According to one survey (a report published by The US Department of Health and Human Services), 14% of adolescents in the United States are overweight. In the last 20 years, this number has nearly tripled.
  • Among overweight children and teens between the ages of 2 and 19, 36.7% state that they have been told by a health care practitioner that they were overweight (for children between the ages of 2 and 5, this percentage was 17.4%)
  • Children are now not expected to outlive their parents. This should be unacceptable!

These problems are occurring for a variety of reasons – because our food is no longer food, and corporate interests and profit are taking precedent over human health like never before in recorded history. It is unfortunate that issues like these don’t seem to get the airtime and promotion they deserve until someone famous becomes an activist. Here is the Public Service Announcement which calls for action from citizens for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (this is an effort that is in conjunction with the film Food, Inc.)

I’m here to urge everyone to help save our children’s lives – children (and adults, for that matter) all across America eat toxic, unhealthy foods right in their own school lunch rooms. It’s time we took a stand, as lawmakers, taxpayers, parents, grandparents, politicians, lobbyists, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and citizens to demand that our children are served healthy food to give them a fighting chance at growth, development, academics, and health. Real food should not be a luxury item that people can’t afford.

Our constitution states:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

When we talk about establishing justice and promoting the general welfare, does allowing the manufacturing, selling, and feeding of toxic food to our children and citizens seem like a breach of these tenets? It should!

We are not showing patriotism, ethics,  integrity,  morals, nor justice when we allow something as broken and trampled upon as our health care and food systems to remain in the condition they are in. It is time to stop letting the authorities that be – the USDA, the FDA , government lobbyists, special interest groups, and bloated corporations controlling most of our food supply dictate these critical factors of everyday life and well-being – our health and our food.

As part of the film Food, Inc., this petition is available on the web site to ask Congress to change the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to make it mandatory that real food be available in the school lunch environment to nourish our children. Place your name on it and let your voice be heard.

It’s time for us to insist our children to be served healthy food, and to demand that schools stop serving hormone-filled milk from factory farms, industrially-produced meat, starchy, trans-fat containing, refined carbohydrates that are devoid of nutrients and that cause toxin build up, weight gain, and poor health. Sign the petition to give our children the chance and future they deserve. Please don’t delay in being an activist in one of the most important causes you could ever be involved in.

What else can you do?

  • Buy local foods from organic, sustainable farms where you know how your food is produced.
  • Boycott processed foods of all kinds – you’ll save money in your bank account now and on health care costs later on down the road.
  • Grow your own food chemical and toxin free.
  • Become an activist and let your voice be heard – tell others, maintain a blog, sign petitions, attend rallies in your community, see the film Food, Inc. and other important films about food, have discussions to help others who are less informed, and join committees and groups where making safe food a priority is the theme

For more information on school lunch initiatives:

Hormones in the Milk – Do You Know What Your Kids Are Drinking?

Changing the Face of School Lunches – There’s Still a Lot of Work to Do

You Decide: Is Junk Food GOOD for Children?

Disturbed About What Your Kids are Eating in School?

Meals for Children – Restaurants and School Lunches are Lacking in Nutrition

Also check out these important resources:

Visit Chef Ann Cooper, Renegade Lunch Lady and a revolutinary who is making changes all over the nation

Better School Food – Dr. Susan Rubin

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Grass-Fed Beef Tacos

There’s nothing better than a grass-fed beef taco.  As I am a Mexican food fanatic, I can eat tacos anytime, but especially when they are this delicious, healthy, and made with fresh ingredients.

History of tortillas and tacos

Tortillas are believed to date back as far as 10,000 B.C. Mayan legend says that in ancient times a peasant created them for his king. In 1521 the acquisition of Mexico was taken by Spain, headed up by explorer Cortez. They were looking for fortune and opportunity and found a myriad of new foods such as squash, avocados, chocolate, beans, vanilla, peanuts, and corn.  Cortez was received warmly at first by Montezuma, the ruler of the Aztec civilization. But over time, many battles ensued and eventually Cortez overtook the capitol and claimed it as the property of Spain. Although they replaced many of the Aztec buildings and institutions with their own, the culture was never fully removed and many customs and traditions came through such as the eating of stone-ground corn cakes with many other foods.

One of the most integral part of the diet in Mexican eating is the tortilla, made from corn.  To remove the husk, corn kernels are cooked with lime and then ground on a stone slab with a grinding stone. The resulting dough (masa) can be formed into little round balls and then hand patted out into thin round cakes. The cake is then fried on both sides in a pan. This cake can also be wrapped in a corn husk (the tamale) which is filled with meat. This handmade wrapper is extremely versatile and its uses are endless.

Tortillas can be used for many foods such as enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, and tamales. Tortillas are often used as eating utensils, such as a plate as in a tostada or taco salad (even Mexican pizza). The tortilla has become popular in the United States and can be found in many places – and not just Mexican restaurants –  due in part to the increase of the Hispanic population.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • grated raw cheese, I use Organic Valley Raw Monterey Jack
  • organic romaine lettuce, shredded or sliced
  • organic onions, diced
  • organic cilantro, stems removed
  • non-irradiated, organic chili powder
  • organic cumin
  • organic paprika
  • organic oregano
  • sea salt
  • non-irradiated pepper
  • home-made pico de gallo (see recipe below)
  • organic, sprouted corn tortillas (we used Ezekiel brand organic, sprouted corn tortillas – a traditionally prepared food)
  • garnish with organic avocados (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground beef in a stainless steel pan with onions (optional).
  2. Begin adding in sea salt, pepper, and spices – chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika.You can add a bit of water to your mixture to help set in the spices.
  3. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. Cook beef and onions until beef is browned and onions are sauteed.
  4. About five minutes before the beef is done simmering, turn the oven on to warm and place your tortillas on a piece of foil to heat for 2 – 3 minutes. The longer you leave your tortillas in the oven, the more crispy they will become. Some people prefer them this way, I like mine softer.
  5. When the tortillas are ready, take them out of the oven. Place on a plate and fill with ground beef. Top with cheese, cilantro, romaine, onions, and pico de gallo.

Recipe for pico de gallo:

  • finely chopped organic tomatoes (3 – 4 medium sized)
  • finely chopped organic onions (1 medium)
  • diced organic green onions (one stalk, optional)
  • organic cilantro, stems removed, chopped (your own preference of amount)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • organic chili powder (to taste – some people like spicy, some prefer mild)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, adjust amounts according to your own taste. Serve over tacos.

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