Archive for Eating Real Food

First Case of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in the United States

This startling story hit the wires on Sunday, December 27th of this week. Oswaldo Juarez, 19, of Peru came to the United States to study English. He became ill with a cough that wouldn’t go away, and then began to experience “rattling” lungs. The strain, XXDR, has never before been seen in the United States. It is so rare that less than a dozen people were thought to have contracted it.

The cause is none other than overuse of antibiotics in our medical communities and in the food system. If this is not proof of our industrial food system killing us, I don’t know what is.

This information is not new to the media or health communities. Doctors and health officials have been releasing information for years about drug-resistant diseases all over the globe from Malaria to MRSA, and from step to staph. We are literally inundated with bacteria that are predicted to become stronger and more resistant as time goes on. This particular case of TB was discovered back in June of this year, but until now was apparently kept “quiet” due to its insidious nature.

Approximately 75 percent of antibiotics used are found in the meat or dairy products of animals we consume. The majority of the meat and dairy eaten in the United States originates from CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations where many animals are crammed together in the most unnatural and unhealthy conditions.

Just yesterday, MSNBC also released this story about drug-resistant bacteria found in meat from factory farms yesterday.Animals and birds are administered antibiotics (among other toxic substances) to combat pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. E. coli and salmonella are common in the digestive tracts and on the hides and feathers of animals due to unsanitary conditions and the types of feed the animals consume. When livestock and poultry consume soy, corn, grains, silage, and other industrial feeds, virulent strains of bacteria are much more likely to develop as the digestive tracts of these animals is not intended to process these substances.

Arguments from pharmaceutical companies and farm groups say that antibiotic use keeps food costs down and animals healthy. But at what cost to the health industry, the environment, and the consumer?  Lobbyists from these groups and companies are well-known for repeatedly defeating proposed limits on antibiotic use in Congress. Drug-resistant infections have been responsible for killing approximately 65,000 people in 2009.

This problem is now coming to a head, but there is something we can do about it. Don’t buy meat and dairy products from conventional and industrial sources – buy your meat and dairy, and all your food local and from growers and producers who use sustainable methods! Talk to your farmers and food growers, and get to know their practices. Support your local economy and your environment and health will truly flourish!

Want more information about industrial meat and sustainable meat? Read the following articles:

Whole and healthy meat – does it really exist?

What do farms and antibiotic drugs have in common?

How well do you know your food? Find out!

Probiotics – the friendly bacteria that we need in our gut to keep bad bacteria away

My adventures in making yogurt – yogurt from sustainable milk contains friendly bacteria essential to health!

Leave a comment »

How to Interpret the Glycemic Index (GI)

Have you ever been to the store and noticed the phrase “glycemic index” on packages or signs? Glycemic Index (GI) refers to the ability of the food to raise glycemic levels in your blood. When you digest food, your liver and pancreas have a big job.  And that job is to properly break down the food you are eating so your body can use it to function and grow.

How does the glycemic index relate to nutrition? The higher the glycemic index, the harder those organs have to work to process the food. If your pancreas has to produce larger amounts of insulin to process the food you are eating, it can cause a spike in your blood sugar that is unhealthy. When it comes back down, you will start to feel the effects. Effects can include fatigue, inability to focus, hunger, irritability, headaches, heart palpitations, and many others. Over time, eating these types of foods contribute to weight gain, health problems, and degenerative disease.

Those who rely on the glycemic index to decide about healthy food choices might say that although white bread would cause a spike in blood sugar, eating a protein with it would balance it out. The biggest problem with this thought is that using the glycemic index may cause people to believe that as long as they eat some protein with their processed white bread, it is okay to eat it. The truth is, the white bread is still unhealthy to consume on many levels.

One example of a processed, high glycemic food might be a loaf of bread. If you have ever looked at the nutritional information on the wrapper of an average loaf of bread, you can easily see that grams of carbohydrates can range anywhere from 25 to 40 grams per serving.

The nutrition label to the left shows information for a loaf of Filone bread – a type of white Italian bread. This bread contains a whopping 33 grams per serving. It is also made with processed, white flour that has not been sprouted, soaked, or fermented.

By contrast, (see label shown on the  lower right) a loaf of sprouted grain bread such as Ezekiel (or another type of sprouted grain bread such as the kind you would make at home), contains less carbohydrates – approximately 15 to 20 grams per serving.

Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars by the body, transported in the blood, and then moved into the cells with the help of insulin. Carbohydrates give us energy to do the things we do every day. But if we have an unnaturally balanced amount of excess carbohydrates (such as those contained in processed breads), they can cause problems such as being stored in the body as fat which causes weight gain.

Natural, whole foods contain the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Processed, refined foods do not. If you are eating real, whole foods, there is no need to count calories, fat grams, or worry about the glycemic load in your food.

The glycemic index was created to provide people with yet one more way to justify eating unhealthy foods. If you rely on this scale for eating foods,  it is likely you will end up eating more processed foods – although you may be under the mistaken impression that you are making healthy choices. The only way to make healthy choices and keep blood sugars level is to eat foods that are the least processed and refined. Remember that even though a food may show a low glycemic index ranking, it may still be processed and unnatural.

Foods ranking low on the glycemic index take a longer period of time to digest. This gives the body a slow, steady stream of energy and provides a feeling of fullness and satisfaction for an extended period of time.  It prevents overeating, and promotes healthy cholesterol levels which lowers your risk of degenerative disease.

Many foods higher in glycemic load contain enough carbohydrates to spike your blood sugar unnaturally high. It takes much less time for your body to digest these foods, so it causes a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin levels.  This leads to frequent hunger, a a feeling of dissatisfaction, and the release of more stress hormones in the body. It’s those frequent irregularities in blood sugar that contribute to weight gain, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and so much more.

So when you see labels on food or signs in the store referring to “glycemic index”, remember that many foods with a higher glycemic index are more often than not produced unnaturally – in other words, they are processed or refined – and can create the unnatural high spike in your blood sugar that can cause health problems later on down the road.

Comments (2) »

Grocery Store Wars – May the Force – and Sustainability – Be With You!

This video adeptly uses the Star Wars mythology to illustrate the state of our food system.

What can YOU do to combat the resistance?

  • Buy sustainable
  • Buy local
  • Buy organic
  • Avoid processed, packaged, genetically-modified foods
  • Eat traditional foods
  • Eat whole foods

How well do you know your food? Find out!

Whole and healthy meat…does it really exist?

Are you addicted to healthy shopping?

Is reactive medicine cheaper than prevention?

Comments (4) »

To Mammogram…Or Not

Indeed, cancer is a scary thing. For as long as I can remember, women have been advised to start getting mammograms over the age of 40 as part of a preventative program for reducing the risk of breast cancer and/or detecting it early enough to be able to go on the appropriate program to be able to remove it should it be found (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation).

Most people, including health educators, doctors, and patients in health communities believe that a major component of cancer development comes down to lifestyle habits. Yet, very little emphasis is actually placed on education about traditional foods as a healing tool and critical component of healthy living. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that breast cancer is responsible for affecting 1 out of every 8 women.

This last week, some breaking information was released from the mainstream medical communities cautioning women to receive fewer mammograms before age 50 than was previously recommended. This bulletin is not in keeping with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.

As everyone knows, cancer is a complex disease and many factors are considered in the development of this disease, whether it be environmental, stress, genetic, diet, and other lifestyle habits. It is one of the most pervasive and deadly killers in the modern world.

There is an entire movement of health care professionals, patients, activists, and organizations working toward a “cure” for cancer. There are endless fundraisers and events centered around cancer prevention.   Billions upon billions of dollars are spent yearly on scientific research, drug development, and other activities – all in the name of curing cancer.

So why hasn’t a cure been found? Is it possible that a “cure” may not ever be found because we’ve been going about this at all the wrong angles?  Everything to do with cancer research is about removing it after it has already become a problem. And there’s a lot of money to be made in this realm.

What about preventing a problem before it happens? Sounds like a novel idea, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at what’s been happening on the mainstream medical fronts with cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports the following:

“The most common type of cancer on the list is non-melanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases expected in the United States in 2009. Non-melanoma skin cancers represent about half of all cancers diagnosed in this country.”

The skin cancer connection

Something many people aren’t aware of and doctors don’t certainly don’t emphasize is that most of these cancers are the benign variety – such as basal cell carcinoma, which is 99% treatable and slow-growing. My mother had one on her nose about 3 years ago, had it removed with outpatient surgery, and has not had a recurrence since.

Many people believe sun exposure causes skin cancer. So they slather on the sunscreen, blocking out the Vitamin D, which is, ironically, largely responsible for preventing cancer. And, it’s also strange that people who live in tropical locations experience the lowest rates of skin cancer in the world. Another fact that many people don’t know is that Melanoma – which is malignant – is most often found on parts of the body which receive the least amount of sun (National Library of Medicine).

New research suggests that a deficiency in Vitamin D is rampant in many countries and that lacking this important nutrient contributes to a myriad of diseases and conditions including Melanoma, Breast Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer’s. Over 40,000 Americans die annually as a result of  Vitamin D deficiency.  But we don’t hear the American Cancer Association talking about this. And, the risk of cancer actually lessens with more sun exposure – and no, we’re not talking about getting a severe sunburn, we’re talking about regular, repeated exposure to build up Vitamin D levels in the body.

Exposure to sun actually affects over 14 different types of cancer – including breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and digestive (source, Dr. William B. Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert and researcher on Vitamin D – SUNARC. Dr. Grant is the director director of SUNARC – the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, an organization which is involved in education, research, and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle).

What can YOU do?

In my opinion, we can drive ourselves crazy reading statistics from mainstream health sources, or we can actually do something proactive to prevent cancer. So what can we do? What sort of power do we have over this disease?

As usual, mainstream medical communities offer little to no practical advice about what people can do to prevent cancer and live proactively. General statements are often made about living a healthy lifestyle and getting “health screenings”- but no emphasis WHATSOEVER is placed on reducing the toxic load of the body and eating nourishing, traditional foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, this is how you should go about preventing cancer:

  • stay out of the sun
  • avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
  • eat “healthy” by limiting fat (with no mention about sustainable, organic foods or avoiding conventional or processed foods)
  • get immunized
  • avoid risky behaviors like drug use and unprotected sex
  • undergo screening procedures such as colonoscopies, pap tests, and mammograms

I believe people must take charge of their own health, and make definitive decisions about what kind of health they are going to have. As long as you leave the fate of your health in the hands of a medical doctor or any practitioner alone, you are risking your health.

Yes, I’m serious. And here’s why:

As a society, we have been made to feel powerless and helpless, and that we are unable to learn or know things for ourselves about our own bodies; and that we must rely upon some other expert to preserve our health.

My “cancer” scare

For the last five years, I’ve had a benign breast cyst. When I first discovered it, my lifestyle habits were pretty poor. Like most women, the discovery of a lump in my breast was terrifying. I read all I could about breast cancer and lumps in the breast before making an appointment to see a doctor. I spent about two weeks living in a panic as to whether I would be diagnosed with cancer. The stress of a situation like this alone can put the body under tremendous strain. In fact, stress directly contributes to disease. How many people have been in a similar situation –  waiting to hear from the doctor to receive a clean bill of health so you can “breathe a sigh of relief”?

My doctor was a GP, so he couldn’t give me a definitive answer. He ordered a mammogram. Until the procedure the following week at the hospital, I was a mess. My husband was unable to accompany me to the procedure, so I had to go alone. Sitting in that room waiting to have it done was awful. The procedure was long and painful (compression from the machine is not good for your breasts). After it was over and I got the result that the lump wasn’t cancerous, but only a fluid-filled cyst, I was relieved…but there was no information given about what could be done to reverse it or make it disappear. And that’s what I wanted.

Another year went by. The cyst got bigger and again I started to worry. I went back to the same doctor who ordered a second mammogram. Once again, I went to the hospital alone because my husband was unable to accompany me and endured one of the most stressful days of my life. This time, the lab technician performed an ultrasound as well as the mammogram. The results showed no cancerous findings.

The following year, the lump changed yet again, so I went back to the doctor. This time he referred me to a breast specialist and suggested yet another mammogram.  I had to wait about three weeks to see the specialist, but I decided against getting another mammogram.

The morning of my appointment, I was so worried I didn’t eat breakfast, and my stomach being empty only added to the growing sensation of nausea. This time, my husband came with me. I was asked all the usual questions by the nurse about my family history of breast cancer. She reviewed all the other items such as regular self-breast exams and checkups, etc. Then the doctor came in, checked the lump, and then reviewed the mammogram from the year before.  I was a shaking wreck as he did this, and wished more than anything that this moment in time would be gone and this would all go away.

His diagnosis was that he didn’t believe I had cancer, but that the finding was consistent with fibrocystic breast disease and I should have another mammogram. Keep in mind that at this point I was only 36 years old (age at which women are recommended to have annual mammograms is 40) with no history of breast cancer in my family, and had now received two mammograms showing no sign of cancer, yet this doctor was recommending that I go and have yet a third. So I explained my reasoning to him, along with my concerns about the exposure to radiation and compression of breast tissue in the x-ray device used for mammograms which could actually cause cancer.

All objections to the procedure were dismissed, and the the only response he could provide was that I had a responsibility to myself to perform this preventative measure. I had a responsibility? What about the doctors? Aren’t they responsible for providing the patient with reasonable answers and alternatives? The recommended “solution” didn’t solve my problem.  I pressed on, asking about environmental toxins and diet, and their effects on the development of cancer. His answer was brief and he insisted that there were just too many factors to solve for, and did not recommend any specific preventative measure…and that really it all boiled down to getting that mammogram.

By this time, I was crying and very angry. The nurse came back in as the doctor was leaving. She said she wanted to help me understand the importance of getting mammograms and prevention of problems before they occurred. She really believed what she was saying, but none of it made any sense to me. My husband even agreed that another mammogram seemed pretty pointless.

Although the nurse tried her best to be kind, and thought she was reassuring me that it was the right thing to do, I wasn’t buying it. She explained that she received mammograms each year because her mother died of breast cancer, and she had already had two lumps removed in her own breasts. To her, not getting another mammogram was like leaving the door open at night when criminals were out on the street. I came out and told her that I thought mammograms were dangerous and why. Of course, she thought I was insane.

Breast thermography

It really was just like talking to a wall. On the way out, she asked me to seriously reconsider the mammogram, and that she was going to give me a call in a week or two to see if I was willing to change my mind. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked her why doctors place so little effort or educational emphasis on real food and healthy diets, and about breast thermography.

By the year 2007, I was learning even more about diet and lifestyle as it related to cancer and health. I also learned about an exciting procedure -FDA approved and has been used in Europe for decades – thermography. It is less expensive than mammograms, and can detect cancer up to 10 years before a mammogram. Why is this technology not being talked about more in medical communities? Because it doesn’t present any incentives for the drug companies. It is safe, painless, doesn’t compress the breast tissue, and doesn’t use radiation. The device is sensitive to blood vessel changes and measures heat temperatures in the body – temperature changes that are so subtle, it can indicate a development of pre-cancerous tissue.

I’m still living with the cyst, but I’m always living a preventative lifestyle and performing detoxification to help my body eliminate it over time. Because of poor lifestyle choices I made over many years, helping my body to remove the cyst and keep it from becoming cancerous will also take time.

Here’s my cancer prevention program:

  • Eat a healthy diet – and by healthy, I am referring to the absence of processed foods and refined sugars. My diet includes plenty of real, traditional foods such sustainable-raised grass-fed meats, raw, organic dairy from a clean source, poultry, game, lamb, safe-source fish and seafood, organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, and fruits. I also occasionally eat sprouted/soaked, organic grains.
  • I receive as much sun exposure as possible, and I don’t wear sunscreen. I also take Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This fantastic natural food contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K. My family also takes this supplement. Visit the Weston A. Price web site for detailed information about dosages for Vitamin D and Vitamin A, as well as other natural sources for these nutrients.
  • I drink plenty of filtered water (not bottled water) and avoid tap water.
  • I take Iodoral, an iodine supplement daily. My family also takes this supplement. Most people in developed countries are deficient in iodine, and iodine deficiencies are directly connected to the development of cancer and many degenerative diseases.
  • I have been using Gesterone Cream by Premier Research Labs. Natural progesterone is something many women are deficient in – usually due to hormonal imbalances which can cause cancer, and this nutritional supplement is more potent than synthetic pharmaceutical drug varieties of progesterone. The skin absorbs up to 10 times more than the digestive tract.
  • I am by no means a skilled athlete, but I maintain a schedule of regular exercise including horseback riding, bicycle riding, walking, hiking, and gardening.
  • I try to maintain a reasonable sleep pattern.  This is an area I need work on, because like many people, I stay up too late a lot and then have to rise early the next day. I don’t usually find that I am fatigued much, though, and I attribute this to my healthy diet and lifestyle.
  • I use few personal care products and chemicals in my home – I don’t use anything on my hair except organic shampoo, which I use only once or twice a week (I have dreadlocks, so hair washing is fairly infrequent…and no, my husband doesn’t think I smell). I don’t use expensive creams and solutions on my body except for extra virgin, raw coconut oil or olive oil. We use organic soaps and cleaning solutions in our home – and much of what we clean with is apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and water. For more information about toxic load, read Your Toxic Load…How Does it Affect your Health?
  • We have completely eliminated plastic dishes and many other items from our home. We use as little plastic as possible in our refrigerator to store foods. Most of our kitchen dishes and materials are as follows: glass, pyrex, ceramic, cast iron, wood, stainless steel, wooden spoons, bamboo cutting boards, parchment paper for baking and wax paper and foil for storage.
  • We do not own a microwave oven. All of our food is prepared at home from scratch, unless we are heating up leftovers from food we have already made in our oven.
  • We do not use clock radios in our home. All clocks in our house are battery-operated with faces except for one digital readout we have on our oven in the kitchen. Clock radios, particularly close to your body for extended periods of time (as in, near your bed where you sleep) can emit continued, harmful amounts of radiation.

There are so many other sources of toxins, radiation, and other harmful substances which can lead to cancer. These items include but are not limited to: televisions, cell phones, land line-cordless phones, clock radios, wireless devices, and other electronic equipment, clothing, drapes and window treatments, bedding, furniture, toys, paint, and flooring in your home.

It’s true that we do have some of these items in our lives – in particular, cell phones, wireless devices, and computers because by profession my husband was in the computer science field for nearly 20 years. We have now switched gears and own a solar business, but find that the necessity for all of those devices has not gone away.  But I feel better knowing that as careful as we are in the other aspects of our lives, we are doing the most we can to reduce our toxic load and prevent cancer the best we can.

Have a story or advice you’d like to share that has been successful? I’m interested to hear everyone else’s tales about natural cancer treatments and prevention involving traditional foods and natural supplements that have assisted you on your journeys to better health.

Update! Breaking news about CT scans from the medical community – they are finally reporting that these procedures are linked to an increased risk in cancer.

This article is part of The Kathleen Show’s Prevention Not Prescriptions Carnival, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit these sites and read the informative posts featured there.

Comments (10) »

Whole Foods and Natural Solutions, Bolster Your Immune System this Winter

Looking for natural ways to avoid illness this season? Here are 14 ways to strengthen your body and keep yourself healthy during the winter months:

  1. Go organic!  Foods that come from the earth and are organic have a higher percentage across the board of nutrients per serving. Nutrients help your body stay in optimal condition, which makes staying healthy easier.
  2. Eliminate sugar.  Sugar is an immune depressant and can cause your immune system’s ability to lower its strength for 5 or more hours after you consume it.
  3. Eliminate processed foods, prepare from scratch and with real, whole ingredients as often as possible. For example, use real butter and healthy oils for cooking such as extra virgin, organic coconut, palm oil, and cold-pressed grapeseed oil (for good Omega 6s essential fatty acids). Avoid trans-fats and genetically-modified oils like canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, and butter substitutes. Use real organic extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil in home-made salad dressings with garlic, salt, pepper, and other seasonings, lemon juice, and vinegars like red wine, balsamic, and apple cider.
  4. Drink plenty of filtered water (8 eight-ounce glasses daily). Learn more about how how fluoridated water suppresses the immune system.
  5. Eat citrus fruits – lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits – at least one daily. If you prefer, you can squeeze the juice of 1/2 to a whole lemon or lime (or both) in cold water and add Stevia to taste. You can also add it to a cup of hot water in the morning and sip during morning activities and breakfast. Citrus fruits contain flavonoids and help your body perform natural detoxification.
  6. Get adequate rest. Retire by 10 p.m and rise between 6 and 7 a.m. daily to keep a regular schedule.
  7. Consume fermented cod liver oil. Vitamin D helps reduce the chance of developing many illnesses including colds, flus, and cancer.
  8. Eat fermented foods – yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables. Homemade varieties are superior because many store-bought brands are pasteurized and good bacterias are destroyed. The naturally occurring friendly bacteria in these foods gives your immune system a leg up during cold and flu season.
  9. If you are unable to obtain enough friendly bacteria in your diet, you can take a probiotic supplement. Best brands are Biotics Research (from a licensed, healthcare practitioner), Prescript-Assist, and Bio Kult.
  10. Eat plenty of healthy oil, fat, and cholesterol – grass-fed meats (dark and organ meats included), game meats, poultry, lamb, and pork; real butter and milk (raw is a plus!), coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil, lard and tallow from meat and poultry.
  11. Use herbal and natural remedies when you get sick – oil of oreganol (oil of oregano) grapefruit seed extract, colloidal silver, garlic and eucalyptus ear oil, homeopathic remedies, thieve’s oil (used during the Black Plague), Chinese Herbal Medicine and acupuncture, and naturopathic care. If you are taking care of yourself with proper diet and lifestyle habits, these remedies will not be needed often.
  12. Get out in the sun as much as possible to obtain natural Vitamin D. Sunlight is most potent between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and you should be getting about 20 minutes of exposure. Your diet should consist of the following to supplement for less available sunlight in the winter:  fermented cod liver oil, raw milk from pasture-grazing cows, eggs from pasture-raised hens, seafood like wild-caught salmon, makerel, anchovies, herring, tuna, oysters, shrimp, sardines, and sausage and bacon from pasture-raised hogs. These foods contain Vitamins A, D, E, and K – all important for fighting off disease and illness.
  13. Get up and move. You don’t have to be an exercise fanatic and spend 7 days at the gym to be active and healthy. Even though it’s difficult to get motivated to go out in the cold weather, bundle up and find something you enjoy doing outside. Walking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and bike riding can all be done throughout the winter, depending on the weather.  If you must be indoors, try a low-impact exercise video you do at home such as yoga, pilates, or warm-up ballet. Gyms are toxic places – from chlorine filled pools to the closed in environment that recirculates germ-filled air – that cause more health issues than they solve.
  14. Give up unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or drug use (including prescription). Many health issues can be solved by eliminating these from your life, and prescription drugs are often just a band-aid for the real problem which is to improve dietary habits and lifestyle.

Want more information about nutrition and changing your diet to affect real change in your health?

Nutrients you are probably lacking in your diet

Feed your children real food…don’t they deserve it?

Whole and healthy meat…does it really exist?

Know your food? Find out!

Comments (5) »

How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!

Food has become a complicated subject in modern times, and is now associated with political uprising and even causes heated debates among many different groups of people and organizations, including the left and the right political affiliations. Unfortunately, you can be chastised for your beliefs about food, even to the point that your own family might begin to question your sanity. You may even drive away people in your life because they disagree with you about food.

I’ve noticed that when I tell people I eat primarily whole and organic foods, they sometimes look back at me quizzically, as though I am speaking a foreign language. The situation gets stickier when I elaborate about grass-fed meats and raw dairy. There are some folks who honestly believe I am too particular and certainly a food snob; the reality is, I just want the best food for myself and my family – and I’ve bothered to educate myself about what exactly that means. I find that the average person lacks a basic understanding of what the types of foods available are – and what that ultimately means for health and the environment.

Two-hundred years ago, who would have ever guessed that people would have to start defending their right to eat real, healthy foods that were free of chemicals and toxins – a fact that all of humanity took for granted before the Industrial Revolution took place? If you are a person who cares about the food you eat and wants healthy choices, you know that finding and purchasing those foods is difficult at best because sources are not plentiful and the price tag is not cheap. Yet somehow our system is backward and is set up to sell unhealthy, toxic food in every place imaginable (grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, variety stores, the Internet!) which sport a lower price tag than real, whole foods which can only be yours for the most astronomical prices which the average person has trouble affording (and are going higher and higher every day).

It’s no longer simple just to go to the market and shop for food. There are many different types of foods and at times it seems as though real, whole foods are a dying breed – which is all too disturbing when you consider the endless variety of processed foods available on the market as compared with real food that has no chemicals or preservatives, and the negative effects posed to health as a result of consumption of processed foods: i.e., the most recent pandemic of Swine Flu. The following information elaborates about the different types of available foods, their definitions, and where those foods come from:

Whole Foods

  • Whole foods are foods from the earth that have not been processed or refined (changed) in some way. Example – whole grains that you buy in bulk from the store are whole foods, cereal and crackers are not.

  • Whole foods are the foundations of wellness, and have been eaten for thousand and thousands of years by humans. Many modern health problems we have today are as a result of poor nutrition – heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

Traditional Foods

Traditional foods are foods from nature that are eaten the way our ancestors ate them. It wasn’t until the mid 1850’s that people started to process and package foods in mass quantity, so people who are two or three generations behind us ate only traditional foods, and had never seen a package of prepared food in their lives.

As time went on, food changed more and more until a great deal of what you see in a grocery store is packaged or processed in some way. It’s really only the edges of the grocery store where you will find whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits, nuts, and meats. Almost everything else is processed in some way.

Both whole and traditional foods typically come from farms. Many types of farms produce food, but the best types of farms from which to obtain any food would be from the organic and sustainable varieties, discussed in the sections below.

Local Foods

  • Local foods are foods that are grown and produced in and around the area where you live.

  • Local foods are often better for health than foods brought in from miles away. Why? You can find out how your food is grown much easier if the place you are buying it from is nearby – you can visit the farm and talk to the owners/managers about growing and production methods, and if you are purchasing meat you can find out whether animals are raised humanely and fed naturally.

  • Because local foods travel less distance to get to your table, fewer resources (like gasoline) are used. Local food is generally sustainable. Although not all local food is produced in a healthful manner, it is really important to know about where your food comes from and how it is raised. Many farms and companies produce food that is unhealthy, so if you are able to learn about where and how your food is produced, you can make educated choices about what you eat.

Organic Foods

  • Organic food is grown and produced without the use of chemicals, pesticides, and is not genetically modified. Genetic changes in commercial foods are made by scientists to make the foods easier to grow and keep them from being susceptible to disease and illness, but eating foods that have been modified can be harmful to your health. That’s why organic is better, and studies have shown that organic foods contain higher levels of nutrients – vitamins and minerals – that are important for health.

  • Organic food is grown in a manner that is in keeping with methods friendly both to health and the environment. Farms that want to grow organic foods must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture before they can label their foods as “organic”.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are any food that is not in the condition which it would come from in nature. Most conventionally-grown and raised foods would fall into this category (although some are more processed than others) simply because they have unnatural chemicals, pesticides, and toxins added to them for the purposes of packaging and preservation. Ultimately, processed foods have a longer shelf life which allows the companies producing and distributing them a higher profit margin on those items than if they were not altered in some way. Processing allows storage and consumption of the food for an extended time after it is produced.

Although factory and conventional farms (discussed below) do not produce what most people would traditionally consider to be processed foods, the foods grown and raised in factory farm environments are not healthy foods; therefore they technically fall into the processed category because they are not naturally grown or produced, have a variety of chemicals and toxins added in, and farming methods used to produce food in factory farm environments damage health and the environment – they differ vastly from that produced in most organic and sustainable farm environments.

On the other side of the spectrum, many organic foods are turned into processed foods because companies have tapped into a market of creating organic “convenience” foods which are packaged and processed, and consumers have responded by purchasing these products because they are told by these companies that these foods are healthy to consume, when in fact many of them are no longer healthy, whole foods at all.

As an example, let’s look at packaged “organic” cereals. Those foods are just as processed as their conventional counterparts – they may contain organic ingredients, but those ingredients have undergone changes and are transformed from their former healthy state into extruded, formed chunks of grains that have various substances added to them – sugar, corn, soy, processed dairy, roasted nuts, vegetable oils like cottonseed, canola, or soybean oil, and others. What remains is a food high in carbohydrate content and probably calories, low in protein, and contains components which cause inflammation and immune system dysfunction in the body such as a proliferation of Omega 6s. These foods do not usually contain Omega 3s – essential fatty acids which are critical for health, but are grossly out of balance and are responsible for contributing to many degenerative diseases we are plagued with in developed nations.

Factory and Conventional Farms

  • Many animals that are raised for food for people in the U.S. such as cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, don’t live outdoors. They seldom see the sun, don’t feel grass underneath their feet, or play chase with their friends. They live in pens and cages in huge buildings called “factory farms. There are no windows in factory farms, so animals raised there have never seen a cloud, a tree or a flower.

  • All these animals know about the world is how the steel bars of their cages taste, how it feels to lay or stand on concrete floors and wire cages, and how it feels to be locked in a cage so small that they can hardly move. Factory farms are also dirty and crowded, which makes it easy for diseases to spread. Because of unsanitary, crowded conditions which are filled with disease, farmers must administer antibiotics to animals. The antibiotics in meat eaten by people cause our bodies to harbor bacteria that in turn become resistant to medications. Approximately 78 percent of antibiotic use in our country is done in factory farm environments.

  • When you eat meat, dairy, or eggs from a factory farm environment, you can harm your health because the unnatural conditions of these operations affect the quality of your food – meats, dairy products, and eggs are full of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones, and the animals are given feed that is unnatural for them to consume (grains, corn, soy) – and ultimately, your health.

  • Factory farms also harm the environment by the methods used for production and farming. Pollution and waste created in the factory farm environment enter our ecosystems – soil, water, and air, and make our world a more toxic place to live.

Sustainable Farms

  • Sustainable agriculture refers to those farms which produce indefinite amounts of food without incurring irreversible damage to the ecosystem or human health. Focus is on environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. Sustainable farming generally uses farming methods that are friendly to our health, the animal or plant’s health, and the environment – so generally the practices used by farmers include no pesticides or chemicals, no hormones or antibiotics, and nothing that would otherwise unnaturally change the end food product you will be eating.

  • Sustainable farming generally uses much less or does not use fossil fuels (gas) for transporting and growing and producing fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Meats, dairy products, and eggs produced from animals and birds that are able to roam about, eat grass and insects and worms are the best for health. These healthy foods contain the correct amounts of protein and fat, and low amounts of carbohydrates for health.

Healthy choices for food:

  • Grass-fed meats (beef, lamb, pork, elk) and pasture-raised poultry (chicken, turkey), and other meats grown naturally

  • Pasture-raised eggs

  • Organic fruits and vegetables, cooked or raw

  • Raw nuts and seeds

  • Unpasteurized or raw dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, cream) from certified, sustainable farming operations

  • Traditional fats such as whole butter, healthy animal fats from sustainable sources, expeller-pressed flax seed oil, and extra virgin olive, coconut, and palm oils

True or False?

  • Dairy products are good sources of calcium.

Pasteurized dairy products – which represent the bulk of what is available to the public – are not healthy sources of calcium because delicate fats and proteins are denatured in the processing and heating up to achieve pasteurization, and thereby render vital nutrients unavailable to the human body. Minerals like calcium and vitamins do not absorb properly in the human digestive tract, can actually cause leeching of nutrients from the bone, and contribute to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis when pasteurized dairy is consumed.

  • Whole grains can be found in packaged foods.

Not likely. Packaged foods often read “whole grains”, but simply reading the label will reveal whether you are actually getting a whole grain or not. Nine times out of ten the ingredients will reveal that the primary component in what you are getting is some kind of flour. Products made of flour go rancid very quickly, even whole wheat flour, and particularly after a product has sat on the shelf for months at a time (typical time period for a processed food). Most whole grains are found in the bulk section of the food store. These are normally healthy, whole foods. Be aware that you can also find ground up or floured versions of grains in the bulk section. These foods will lose their nutritional value very rapidly and go rancid soon after grinding.

  • Fruit juice is a healthy choice for a beverage.

Fruit juice is not a good substitute for a whole piece of fruit. Again, fruit juices are mostly a processed by-product of fruit, are almost always pasteurized (which removes vital, living nutrients), and is primarily comprised of sugar. You are better off drinking water and eating a whole piece of fruit.

  • Meat is unhealthy because it is contains fat and cholesterol.

Meat is a necessary part of the human diet because it contains protein, cholesterol, fat, and calories needed for proper health. Over the last five to six decades, meat has received a bad name due to the fact that most of the meat our population eats is from factory farms – obese meats which are laden with chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, high in calories and fat, and low in protein. All of these factors make meat an unhealthy food to consume. When you eat healthy, grass-fed, sustainably-raised meats in moderation, you will be contributing positively to your health.

  • Eating fat makes a person fat.

See the above paragraph. Human beings need fat for health, including healthy animal fat. It doesn’t matter whether it is red meat, milk, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, or avocados – all foods that are high in fat and calories – as long as it originates from a healthy environment and is grown properly (organic). Eating unhealthy fats from processed foods (many of which come from factory farms or other unhealthy farming environments) will cause health disorders, particularly because fat is a substance stored by the body.

  • A food with too many calories is a bad choice.

If you are eating a whole food, it doesn’t matter how many calories you consume. Whole foods from nature are naturally balanced to contain the correct amount of calories necessary for health. Modern culture has become unnaturally obsessed with counting calories – and false beliefs exist that if something is low in calories it is healthy to eat. Think again. Most processed foods are high in calories, and even if they claim not to be, they are most likely high in carbohydrates (again, read labels if you want to know the truth about food), which translates into sugar and calories in the body.

  • Food that does not contain hydrogenated fats is healthy.

Just because something reads “no trans fats” on the label does not make it healthy. Most of these types of foods are processed. Many foods claiming not to contain trans fats contain other substances that are unhealthy to consume – including vegetable oils such as canola, cottonseed, and soybean. In general, it is best to avoid processed foods.

  • Low-fat and non fat foods cause weight loss and improve your health.

Most foods that read “low-fat” or “non-fat” are processed, packaged foods. It is best to avoid processed foods as much as possible. A natural, healthy, organic, whole food should not cause health issues in the person consuming it – no matter how high in fat or calories it may be.

For more information on whole, traditional foods, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation.

For more information about sustainable agriculture, visit The Sustainable Table.

Comments (8) »

Corn-Fed Equals Corn-Bred

Do you believe the kind of feed your meat eats has an effect on your health? Indeed, it does. The majority of the meat, eggs, and milk available for sale in stores comes from animals raised in the most unnatural of environments – on feedlots, near waste lagoons, owned by farmers who administer antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids, and the animals are given some of the most unnatural feeds that they are not meant to consume; corn – among other substances, such as grains and soy.

So why do we really care if the meat we’re eating has been fed corn? An eye-opening expose of the agricultural, cattle, and dairy industries can be seen in the film ‘King Corn‘ and answers this very question. This awakening piece, originally aired on PBS’s Independent Lens, shows what happens when two curious friends decide to spend a year growing an acre of corn in Iowa because they want to find out why a good portion of our carbon make-up is comprised of corn. In the film’s beginning, the friends go to a University lab where a scientist takes their hair samples to analyze and determine the contents. The results are surprising: their DNA test reveals a carbon form comprised of corn. The film shows how over time the humble corn plant, which started as an import seed brought from southern lands, mutated into the genetically engineered, ubiquitous substance that fills nearly every food and drink sold in stores and restaurants across our land.

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Before farming and the industrialization of America, humans almost exclusively ate vegetation (fruits and vegetables) and animals that ate vegetation (wild game and fresh fish). Nuts were occasionally consumed and honey was sparsely consumed. Interestingly, current research has demonstrated that this pattern of eating is anti-inflammatory, disease-preventing, and therapeutic for various diseases depending on the level of progression”.

We have been told by medical sources and affiliate communities for years that lean, low-fat diets are the healthiest to eat. We have even been brain-washed into thinking that eating red meat is unhealthy and should be avoided. Americans consume more meat now than ever before in the past, and the demand continues to rise. Besides processed, junk foods which have become a prevalent part of the Western diet, much of this excess saturated fat which medical professionals refer to comes from sedentary animals on factory farms who are fed inappropriate diets. Meat and meat products are healthy and necessary to consume from animals who are raised sustainably and fed grass and hay. “Lean meat consumption can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve satiety levels, increase caloric expenditure, and improve insulin sensitivity,”as reported by Cordain L. O’Keefe JH Jr., the Mayo Clinic (2004). On the other hand, those who continually consume obese and fatty meats, which make up the majority of choice on the marketplace, will continue to have issues such as heart disease, obesity, and the feeling of always being hungry.

Grass-fed meat and meat products provide the proper amounts of high protein, low fat, low caloric and essential fatty acid balance for optimal human health. Anything besides that combination will eventually lead to a decline in health. It is important that when we refer to the negatives or the benefits of meat and meat products we are specific to naturally-raised meats fed grass diets or the industrial variety raised in artificial conditions – because eating one or the other will render quite opposite effects. Some reports convey that modern meat has become leaner by volume than in the past, and health professionals claim that eating meat is now considered more healthful than previously believed. But these reports fail to take into account that most meat comes from factory farms where the quality of meat technically qualifies as “obese” meat, or meat than causes health issues to occur when consumed.

If all the meat we consumed in our country came from clean, sustainable farms where animals were treated humanely and were fed the proper diet, we would see a monumental shift in environmental damage and health problems alike. The problem is, there are many individuals who believe that eating meat is harmful, and have not been able to grasp the entire picture of what has been occurring. The more factory meat we produce, the more we demand it. The meat lacks proper nutrition and protein, and contains far too many calories and fat, which translates into malnourished bodies that crave more and more carbohydrate content, leading to obesity. Eating truly sustainable meats from animals that are fed proper diets, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables promotes health, correct weight, and good environmental balance. We would eat less meat if our meats came from truly natural, healthy environments.

This over-consumption of obese meats and meat products is one of the driving forces behind our nation’s health ills. It takes education, perseverance, and action to reverse these problems. It’s time to lose our ignorance about this subject once and for all. To learn how you can do something about it and put and end to atrocities such as industrial farming, visit the following web sites:

World Animal Foundation

Farm Bill

Sign a petition to stop factory farming:

The Petition Online

Land Stewardship Project

WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)

Leave a comment »