Strawberries & an (un)healthy dose of methyl iodide?

straw1This weekend my family and I happily retrieved some fantastic local produce from our CSA with Fresh Fork Market.  I’m telling you, I’m like a little kid picking-up a bag of sweets at the candy store.  It’s just so exciting to share in the local and organic harvest, fresh from the farm!

This week’s bounty included some fabulous strawberries. Our kids were thrilled because they are bona fide strawberry junkies (and yes, these photos are the “actual” strawberries… yummy, yes?)

Well, if your family has strawberry junkies too, or if you EVER buy strawberries for that matter, this next issue should interest you… (especially since strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list and they retain a lot of pesticides!)

It seems the state of California, the nation’s largest agricultural producer, is close to approving a potent carcinogenic gas for use on strawberry fields and other food crops.  This chemical pesticide, methyl iodide, is a known neurotoxin that disrupts thyroid function, damages developing fetuses and has caused lung tumors in laboratory animals. Although California already classifies it as a human carcinogen, the EPA approved it for agricultural use in 2007 despite the objections of 50 prominent scientists.straw2

Really?  This just causes me to put my face in my hands and shake my head profusely.

I, for one, do NOT want this applied to anything meant for consumption, but I also shudder to think what this does to the air, water and PEOPLE that work these farms or live in close proximity.

If you agree, you can speak up and voice your disapproval.  CREDO is working hard to get the EPA to reverse this decision.  If you would like to sign the petition, simply go to this link so you can be counted.

In the meanwhile, we’ll be consuming these lovely, local, organic strawberries and hope that the EPA will rethink a decision as rotten as the tainted strawberries they are willing to feed us.

Simple food tip: read beyond the “organic” label…

horizn mlkOrganic foods are always a hot topic… everything from the controversy over the benefits of organic, to which fruits and veggies are organic ‘necessities’… the list goes on and on.

One thing I have been guilty of is putting organic products on a pedestal when they sometimes don’t deserve it. Now don’t get me wrong, I still recommend organics with my whole heart and soul, and will continue to buy organic produce and products, but my guilt comes from reading the word “organic” and making assumptions about the rest of the ingredients.

Case in point: While we were out-and-about, my kids asked for “a milk”.  I knew they were asking for a Horizon Organic Milk Box, so immediately my answer was, “Sure!”  I mean, why not?  It’s organic milk after all.  But then this caught my eye:

So, I looked closer at some of my other purchases and here is what I found:stnyfld peach yog

This extra sugar is something NONE of us needs, so my point is this… always look beyond the “organic” label.  It’s not necessarily the perfect product just because it has the “magical ‘o’-word!”  Sometimes it has what you want, but sometimes there is an “extra” that you don’t.

Be a label reader and read beyond “organic”…

(* To compute the number of teaspoons of sugar in any food product simply divide the number of sugar grams by 4!)

Using palm oil = harm and destruction (here’s why…)

palm plnttnUntil recently I had never really heard much about palm oil… but as soon as I did, everything changed.

More and more, palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid, however, there is also a great sacrifice being made through the acceptance of palm oil as our alternative to such things as hydrogenated oil…

… The sacrifice is vast amounts of rainforests and the animals that make the rainforest their home. These forests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil.  Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses.  The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations.  As you can imagine, the occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week.  At this rate, their existence is limited… and I find that absolutely heartbreaking and unnecessary.orang tans

It’s also important to realize that when this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.

Also keep in mind that, though the health effects of palm oil may be a BIT less with palm oil as a substitute, it is NOT a heart-healthy food or adequate hydrogenated oil substitute, like olive, soy or canola oils.  It is only a smoke-screen used by manufacturers because it is a cheap substitute and keeps the words “trans fat” off of the content label.

Sadly, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years… IF we continue to support the products that are using this oil as a “new” substitute.  This is NOT an option.

When you are shopping, DO NOT PURCHASE products containing palm oil.  By NOT buying, and selecting products without palm oil, it speaks loud and clear.  It means you will not support this product and the harm and destruction it is creating!

(* Note: the image above shows a palm oil plantation as it butts up to a rainforest that has been cleared for this crop.)

Meat protein with a side of junk food & antibiotics, anyone?

During the holidays we’ll all likely plan special meals along with doing our best to simply find ways to provide our families with daily nourishing meals… something that isn’t always easy, given the pace of life.  But what if I told you that, along with your healthy meals, you could be unknowingly serving up an unhealthy dose of “junk food and antibiotics” with it?

pink pggHow, you ask?  Well, my dear friend, Kev, just sent me some information about a practice happening in livestock farming that really, really infuriates me (right along with my disgust for genetically modified food).  It seems farmers have turned to feeding their non-organic animals (pigs and cattle for food sources) things like expired junk food, including “cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups”.  This is their inexpensive solution to the rising prices of REAL feed because local manufacturers will sell their cheap cast-offs and expired products to farmers by the truckload.  Can you even imagine how unhealthy these animals must be and all of the literal garbage that is being stored in the meat we consume?

This repulsive practice is just as bad as farmers feeding their cattle corn.  Sure, it doesn’t sound as bad, but these poor animals’ digestive systems aren’t made for corn… they’re made to eat grass.  But when fed corn they often become very sick and susceptible to many diseases.  They are then treated with huge amounts of antibiotics to keep them alive and you guessed it…. those antibiotics get passed right along to all of us too.  (This is only the start of the story, but you can read more here.)cow2

I just don’t even know where to begin with all of this.  I am on the verge of going vegan.  HOW can these practices be acceptable by the FDA?!?  But, sadly, they are.  And we all need to know it.  It is not regulated… at all. It’s also no wonder we have so many diseases, disorders and deficiencies in this country… our brains and our bodies are malnourished or fed with things we don’t even realize we’re eating.  Shameful.

I buy all organic meat, (a proposition that can be unbelievably expensive), but the more I learn, the more I realize that this is the only choice for my family.

We’ve always been told “you are what you eat”… well, let’s all remember, “you are {also} what you eat eatstoo…

(Fast) food for thought… you’ll be shocked… or maybe not!

I have a story that NEEDS to be shared…

I recently attended a local PTA Council meeting and went to a special session on “Health & Nutrition”.  I had no idea what would be discussed, but having two young children, I’m always interested in the topic and how I can improve upon our overall health.

What I learned nearly made me fall off my chair.

burgrThe presenter began by asking everyone to pass around a plate that held a McDonald’s hamburger and Burger King fries.  My stomach churned at the thought, because we really avoid fast food (especially these two chains!).

When I was the (un)lucky recipient of the plate my stomach churned even more than expected.  Everything looked dried out and completely unappetizing… as if they had been sitting in a low-heat oven for a few hours.  (Note: they looked nothing like these photos!)

After the plate made its rounds, the presenter asked for thoughts about the “age” of the food.  Guesses ranged from a few hours to a few days.friese

Guess what?  That burger & fries were four and a half years old… yes, I said YEARS!

They had never been frozen, never been refrigerated, never received special “treatment”… they just sit around in their original containers.

The point?  There was no mold, no decay, no visible bacteria, no growing “green fuzzies”.  Nothing.

And what does this tell us? Essentially, these foods are so processed, so preserved, so lacking in enzymes and usable nutrition, that not even bacteria, mold or microbes could locate enough nutrients to develop and grow.  Can you, therefore, imagine was it does (or doesn’t do) for our bodies?!?

Enough said. The next time you’re looking for a “fast food”, grab a banana!