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When Good Intentions Result in a Big Fat Lie…

My local grocery store, regional chain Roundys, has started offering organic, free range, vegetarian, chicken.  Which I’m all kinds of in favor of.  I like the choice to buy, for an elevated price, humanely raised, chemical and antibiotic free, chicken.  I have a major problem with it though.

“What could that possibly be?”  You ask, with a shocked look on your face I assume.

Let me tell you.  You can’t have truly “free range” and “vegetarian” chicken.

I know, free range is a marketing term that in reality means that the chicken spends some time outside of its cage.  This is a good thing because it means that the chicken gets some exercise and grows much slower.

“Why is that a good thing?”

Well, normal cage raised chickens, who are given growth hormones and antibiotics in order to fatten up really fast, usually grow so fast that their seldom used legs cannot support their weight.  The result is that when the birds try to stand, they break their legs.  This is not a humane way to raise chickens.  So chickens that are “free range” at least have a fighting chance at a better life.  That said, factory free ranging is little better than caging chickens.

Factory free range chickens are usually kept in barns.  And there can be thousands of chickens in that barn, crammed in wing to wing, barely able to move about.  Certainly not the bucolic picture of the chicken coop with the hens and chicks scratching in the dirt outside with the rooster standing watch on a fence post.

This is the reality of terms like “cage free” and “free range”

They really can’t move around all that much, but at least they can move.  They also won’t suffer from broken legs or being debeaked.  Don’t even get me started on that barbaric, inhumane, despicable practice.  Unfortunately in those close quarters, they also can’t give themselves dust baths, which help them prevent lice infestations, they’re prone to easily transmitting diseases, and violent behavior and cannibalism are prevalent.   What does that matter though, they’re free range and cage free.

The other term I’m opposed to is vegetarian.

Chickens are not vegetarians.

Let me repeat that.  CHICKENS ARE NOT VEGETARIANS!

Chickens are omnivores.  Just like humans.  In those bucolic pictures of chickens in the farm yard, scratching in the dirt, those chickens are doing a couple of things.

First, they’re scratching up grit to eat.  Grit is just what it sounds like, dirt and small stones.  A chicken’s stomach, gizzard, is not really well suited to grinding up its food for digestion.  Beaks are not really meant for much more than cracking things open and picking thing up, and chickens have no teeth so they can’t chew their food.  Grit works through the muscle action in and around the gizzard to grind the food so the chicken can extract the nutrients from what they eat.

Second, the chicken is scratching looking for bugs.  Yes chickens eat bugs, they’re especially fond of June bugs I’m told by my chicken raising friends.

So, a vegetarian chicken just isn’t one hundred percent natural.  And the only way you can ensure that a chicken gets only a vegetarian diet is to make sure that it never has access to the soil.  Barnyard soil has all sorts of bugs and small creatures in it that chickens will happily eat for you.  What they’re really telling you when they say that the chicken is vegetarian is that the farmer is not feeding it any animal byproducts.

“What kind of animal  byproducts could they be feeding chickens?”

Good questions.  Because chickens being fed a diet of corn, greens and seeds need extra calcium, a common practice is to add ground up egg shells and bone meal to the food.  Now bone meal is nothing more than what it says, ground up bones.  Those can be beef, pork or even chicken bones.  And to boost the protein in their food, they’ll also add in things like eggs, and meat byproducts.  Again, meat by products can come from any thing; beef, pork, chicken, etc.  What do chicken farmers have in abundance to make bone meal and meat byproducts from?  You got it, chickens.  So between the egg shell, albumin, bone meal, and meat byproducts, is it any wonder that that chickens in over crowded conditions become cannibalistic?  This is also one reason why caged chickens are debeaked, if they don’t the chicken will start eating itself.  Now there is nothing natural about that.  That is simply a sign of an animal in severe distress.  One of the big problems with animal byproducts in animal feed is that it isn’t always the highest quality nor cleanest, as a result things like arsenic are added to the feed to kill parasites. So vegetarian only means that the chicken isn’t being fed anything but vegetables and grit.

But a vegetarian diet is not the chicken’s natural diet.  Even if the chicken isn’t caged, it won’t be as healthy as a chicken allowed to eat bugs and scratch in the dirt.

Given all the above, what should we really be looking for in chicken.  If you’re willing to buy the organic, free range, vegetarian, chicken for a premium from the grocery store, take the extra step and go to a farmer’s market.  The chicken there is usually a little less expensive than the grocery store organic chicken, even if it is vegetarian.  But talk to the people selling chicken there.  Ask them how their chicken is raised and what its fed.  Specifically ask if the birds are pastured and allowed time outdoors in the sun and dirt.  If they are, the birds will do what comes naturally and eat the plants and bugs.  By the way, also ask your egg man these same questions.  The eggs will be so much more flavorful.  Did you know that a pastured, and properly fed, chicken’s egg will have a yoke that is almost orange rather than yellow.  It will also be naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids.  You know the stuff that’s good for your brain, heart and arteries.

 

I Can’t Say This Any Better…

March 21, 2012 Leave a comment

So I’ll just post the whole thing here. I’m sure they won’t mind me helping to get the word out.

 

The science is clear. BPA is dangerous. It’s time for FDA to stop allowing BPA to be used in our food packaging. Send a message to the FDA before its March 31st decision.

The FDA decides on March 31st if it will ban BPA in food packaging.
Dear Friend,

The toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) was recently banned in California from being used in baby bottles and sippy cups.

But thanks to the lobbying of the American Chemistry Council and other chemical manufacturers, BPA continues to be allowed in food and beverage packaging including the lining in most canned food and soup.

The FDA can put a stop to it. The agency will decide on March 31st whether or not to continue allowing bisphenol A (BPA) to be used in food packaging. It needs to stand up to industry pressure and protect us from this dangerous chemical.

Tell the FDA: No BPA in food packaging!
BPA is a hormone disruptor that has been linked to a long list of serious health issues, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty, miscarriages and brain and heart disorders.1

It’s so ubiquitous, it’s even used in things like store receipts and plastic bags, and it is estimated that BPA can be found in 90% of our bodies.2

FDA’s deadline comes in response to a formal petition filed in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defence Council. FDA failed to respond, and finally in December, a federal judge said it must make a final decision on BPA in food packaging by March 31st.3

Early last year, FDA admitted that BPA use raised “some concern,” reversing a long maintained position that BPA was safe in low doses, as evidence mounted rapidly of BPA’s health risks, which in addition to increased propensity for some diseases, include infertility and behavioral problems in children.

The science on BPA is clear, and its health impacts are far reaching, and deeply concerning. BPA isn’t safe to be used in food packaging and the FDA needs to take action to protect us from BPA:

Take Action Now

Thank you for fighting to keep us safe from toxic chemicals.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

New Research Every Day…

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

On a daily basis I read articles, see news stories, hear pundits, experts and crackpots, telling me what to eat.

Eat these five foods to prevent cancer.

Foods to eat now to jump start your weightloss.

End obesity now, eat this.

Prevent heart disease by eating more of this.

New foods high in antioxidants.

I’ve always believed that food is good medicine, but this is taking it way too far.  The way some of these read you would expect that the FDA to have them classified as drugs.  Some of them, if the claims are to be believed, should require a prescription.  Other ones you would think should be illegal, classified as a drug.  Wouldn’t be funny to see the police busting down doors and hauling people away for having an ounce of pomegranate seeds.

The biggest problem I see with all these kind of articles and stories is that they all seem to espouse the same thing.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Eat even more whole grain foods because these are the magic foods that will make you thin, live forever, and keep you from having any kind of cancer.  While I can get behind the eating of more vegetables, I can’t agree with eating more grain.

You see, the plagues of the modern age, heart disease, cancer, obesity, began long ago when man started farming and domesticated grains.  And its only gotten worse through genetic manipulation of grain plants, making the yield greater.   Dr. William Davis, discussed this in his book Wheat Belly.  He says that there is a certain physical shape, that of the belly being distended and bloated, that he sees in his practice that indicated a diet high in wheat and grain products.  Dr. Davis, is a cardiologist by the way.  His patients are predominantly over weight, heart disease sufferers.  I, like he, see the correlation between a diet high in grains, whole or otherwise, and obesity and heart disease.  Yet the USDA and FDA still push the company line that grain is good.

The best advise I can give for people wanting to lose weight, prevent heart disease, and all the problems of aging.  Don’t eat grains.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas…

December 24, 2011 6 comments

No need to bring us some figgy pudding.

This afternoon I made my own.

For those not familiar with this dessert, its the old English  pastry sung about in the song We Wish You A Merry Christmas.  By US standards, its not really a pudding.  Its more of a dense cake.

While the recipe was good, and produced an acceptable pudding/cake.  I wasn’t completely satisfied with the texture and flavor.  I would have liked something that kept the density of this one yet somehow seemed lighter in texture but richer in flavor.  I would also have liked to make it paleo friendly or at the very least gluten free.  This being my first attempt at it though I followed the recipe, there is time for tweeking before next Christmas.  I’ll have to see what I can do over the year.  Off hand, sugar can be replaced with honey and or maple syrup.  Its really the flour that will cause the most problems.  Nut flours don’t hold together as well, and coconut flour might be way too dense.  I’m going to have to experiment on different flour combinations.  I’m sure I’ll get it figured out for next year though.  So periodically I’ll post the test results.

There is NOTHING More DISGUSTING In This World…

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

 

What I’m going to talk about, and show here is nothing but purely disturbing.  Yes, even disgusting and inhumane.  This is definitely a food issue.  A cultural issue.  An ecological issue.

More than 73 million sharks are butchered, mutilated, tortured, and left to die for their fins.  Every kind of shark is put to this inhumane torture.  The small silky to the whale shark.  None of the species is safe.  If it can be caught in the waters from Baja Mexico to the northern shore of Chile, Taiwanese fisherman will travel across the Pacific to fish them.

I warn you, the videos I’ve linked to are disturbing and graphic.  Please do watch them though so you understand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0qkr2cIe5c

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fJZ4febpow&feature=related

Leland Yee, a senator from California calls it a racist issue when people call for the banning of sale, importation and use of shark fin.  Let alone the entire act of finning.  He says that its racist against the Chinese and culturally insensitive.  Well I say the hell with the Chinese feelings in this matter.  Just because this is a fish, people don’t think twice about torture and mutilation.

Here’s what happens, in case you didn’t watch the videos.  Fishermen put out long lines with hooks on them and pull up whatever happens to take the bait.  That could be “useful” fish like tuna.  It could maybe not even be a fish but a sea turtle.  Often its a shark.  When the bait is taken, they reel in the catch.  If its a shark, they haul it onto the deck and take a very large knife and start cutting off the fins while the shark is alive and thrashing around on the deck.  Once they have the fins and tail off, they drag the still live shark to the side of the boat and throw it overboard.  Without fins, the shark basically thrashes and spirals down to the bottom of the ocean, where it lies on the bottom suffocating and bleeding to death.

This is pure animal cruelty.  If someone where to say that kitten paw soup was the greatest cultural icon for some people, animal rights groups would be all over the place decrying the practice.  So, my question is why is there no public out cry over sharks?

Because kittens are considered cute and cuddly while sharks are scary, big and cold.

I’ll tell you though where I’m from, that kitten is ten times as deadly as any shark.  Granted, there are no sharks in the waters of Lake Michigan, but even if there were I’m more likely to be killed by that kitten than by a shark.  I’m deathly allergic to cats, and I respect sharks for what they are.

They are the ultimate predator in their environment.  And as such should be respected.

What would be the outcry if someone where to go out to the plains of Africa and cut the legs off of a lion and toss the still live torso into the grass?  At least if the poachers would just drug the rhinos and cut off the horns the horns would grow back.  But there is more outcry over the rhinos.  And I agree with the outcry, after all, killing rhinos is illegal, especially since they’re killed only for their horns.  Why shouldn’t sharks be afforded the same respect?

Rhinos are endangered, but the population is not currently on the verge of collapse.    The scalloped hammer head shark is on the verge of collapse.  In the past year, the shark population off the coast of Costa Rica has declined by 60 percent due to finning.  Rhinos can have a calf every 18 months, and can mate year round.  Sharks on the other hand lay eggs every 2 years and if they are one of the species that have live birth, they have one every 2 years.  The Rhino is watched over until it reaches an age where it can take care of itself.  Sharks on the other hand have no protection from elder fish.  They are on their own and vulnerable.

I urge you to sign the petition to end shark finning.

Let’s stop this.  Its not a racist issue.  Not a cultural issue.  Its not even an ecological issue.  This is animal cruelty, butchery and barbarism.

Stop the torture.

Stop finning.

Ban the sale, importation, and use of shark fins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viral Video… Another Killer Chemical We Haven’t Been Told About

July 21, 2011 3 comments

Where do I start?

Cute little kid who’s so obviously being used and scripted by an organic convert parent or grandparent?

Or killer chemical we’ve all ingested and have never been told about?

Ok, let’s start with the video.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is.

If you didn’t watch it, the idea of the video is this little girl and her grandmother did an experiment on how long it took  a sweet potato to sprout and grow vines.  First they bought a sweet potato at the grocery store and nothing happened.  Went back to the store and replaced the potato, again nothing.  Went back and talked to the produce guy who told them that the potato they buy in the store won’t sprout.  Its sprayed with a chemical with a trade name of Bud Nip that prevents sprouting.  He suggested one of their organic sweet potatoes.  They did and got some small scrawny sprouts.  Then they went to a real organic grocery store and got a truly organic potato.  Which sprouted in a week and when the video was shot the vines were 2 to 3 feet long. Then she talks about the Bud Nip and how bad it is for you.

First off, I applaud the child and grandmother doing experiments.  I’m all for that sort of thing.

Second, PARENTS how dare you exploit your child like that.  Shame on you and/or the grandparents for using your kid as a shill for your political agenda.  Listen, its a good message, but let your kid be a kid, not some sort of pawn in your game.  We all know that this little girl didn’t come up with this on her own.

So, done with the cute.

Bud Nip, or as its known in scientific circles, chlorpropham.  Using the fewest words, this is a preemergence growth inhibitor.  In simple terms, it keeps plants from sprouting.  If you spray it on your lawn in the spring just after the grass turns green, it will keep the weeds from sprouting and growing.  Spray it on a farm field a few weeks before planting and the weeds don’t come up but the seeds you plant will.  The reason you can plant shortly after using it is because its VERY soluble in water.  So when it rains, it washes through the soil and into the water table (problem number one).

That’s how its suppose to be used.  Unfortunately someone always finds a new use for those wonderful chemicals that make our modern lives livable.  Dupont’s tag line was, “Better living through chemistry.”  When they used it people thought it was a real positive thing.  Chemicals were going to make the world a better place.

Yeah…

So how are they using chlorpropham?  Well, like the little girl says, they’re spraying it on sweet potatoes.  They actually spray it on all root vegetables.  Those carrots, beets and potatoes have a nasty habit of sprouting and using all their stored energy and nutrients to make roots, stems and leaves.  Its not just root vegetables though.  Most of the produce we eat, especially fruits, legumes,  and seeds get treated with it too.  Because just like their root vegetable brethren seeds live to sprout.  About the only thing in the produce section that isn’t sprayed with this stuff are leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, and they have their own chemical dependency issues.

If they’re spraying it on, how can it be so bad?  This doesn’t just sit on the surface, no it soaks into the vegetable, permeating the cell walls all the way to the heart of the vegetable or fruit.  Remember, I said its highly water soluble, and fruits and vegetables have a lot of water in them.  So, it can’t be washed off (problem number two).

Ok, let’s get specific here.  This is a toxic substance.  Acute toxicity has been shown to cause permanent degenerative changes in the liver and kidneys of laboratory animals.  Not to mention deadly congestion of the brain, lungs, and other organs.  There’s a disease that kills thousands of people every year called congestive heart failure, its where the area around the heart fills with liquid and basically prevents the heart from beating fully if at all (problem number three).  This is the kind of congestion they’re talking about.  Acute toxicity is a case where you are exposed to a large dose of it all at once.  Unless you live or work on a farm where this stuff is being used acute exposure isn’t very likely.

So, if acute exposure isn’t likely then what does it matter.  Another side of the toxicity issue is chronic toxicity.  That’s where it builds up in your system over time, much like lead, mercury, or arsenic.  The chronic effects range from retarded growth to death.  The reproductive issues are just as bad with this chemical having the ability to cross the mother’s placenta to be introduced into the developing fetus.   Long term exposure has also been shown to cause cancer.  This stuff builds up in our food supply and therefor in us (problem number four).

Why then do they use this stuff?  Simple, economics.  If they spray this stuff on the vegetables, they don’t have to be as careful in temperature control.  It also means that the vegetables will keep longer in the store.  That means less waste that store has to write off, which means more profit for the stores.  Of course the flip side of that is that since the store won’t have to write off as much, they’ll lower the price of produce.

Yeah…

I had to try to write that last one a few times.  I couldn’t keep from laughing.  Yeah, the grocery store is going to lower its produce prices because they don’t have to throw as much away.

So farmers use it because if their products don’t sprout they look better for the buyers.  The buyers like it because it means they don’t have to be as careful getting it to the distributors.  The distributors like it because they don’t have to rush it to the markets and it can sit in warehouses longer.  Stores like it because produce lasts longer on the shelf.  All around, they all like it because it increases their profits.

Even at the expense of the health of the population…

Oh, and no one wants to talk about it because it taints the image of the good, wholesome produce section.  They are poisoning our food and water supply, as well as the dirt we grow our food in.  This is major corporations and our government waging a war on the public…

This is true terrorism.

It needs to be exposed.

School Food…

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

A heartfelt apology to anyone who ready my last post and was waiting for the post I promised for Monday night.  I hurt myself and just couldn’t concentrate through the pain.  Dang, the big toe really hurts when you smash it good.  On the other hand, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t because I would have missed adding my comments on the new season of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution which started Tuesday night.  That and this article about Chicago’s Little Village Academy.

By now, most everyone has heard that the Little Village Academy has banned brown bag lunches except for those students who have specific allergies.  As a parent of an elementary school child, I’m not so sure this would be the best thing.  A common lunch at my daughter’s school is pancakes and syrup, or french toast sticks and syrup along with tater tots, or if they’re lucky, cheese pizza.  Apparently a slice of cheese pizza meets the USDA’s guidelines for a complete lunch.  You see it has bread (crust), vegetables (sauce), protein (cheese), and dairy (cheese), which makes it a complete meal.  Pancakes, syrup and tater tots also seems to constitute a complete and balanced meal.  I’m not entirely sure being that there is no protein in this “meal” at all.  After talking with my daughter, fruit is in syrup in a plastic cup, vegetables are optional, and the salad bar is used only about 5 days of the month.  If Little Village Academy is anything like this, I can’t see that they offer better than a parent can pack for their child.  I suspect that they’re making this a requirement in order to be able to get the government funding they want.  You see, it really is all a numbers game.  If you don’t have enough students getting the school provided lunch, the government cuts funding to your school for lunches.  In addition, they sound like they’re one of the higher end public schools, like the STEM schools in my area, with a lower rate of subsidized lunches meaning fewer students who “need” lunches.  So if fewer low income students means less demand for lunches, that means less government grants for the lunch program.  How do you offset that?  Ban brown bag lunches and charge more for the required school provided lunch.  Currently, school lunches cost $1.80 per day at my daughter’s school, the Little Village Academy charges$2.25.  You may say, “Well that’s not that much different and they’re in a big city so the cost of living is higher.”  The USDA is saying that they give $2.72 per subsidized lunch, so the unsubsidized student should pay about the same.  A compromise for the 2011 – 2012 school year puts the price of an unsubsidized lunch per the USDA at $2.46.  Little Village is still lower than next years planned price, but that’s next year I’m sure the price will go up to match the USDA at least.

To put it bluntly, I think there’s more to Little Village’s ban on brown bag lunches than just the nutritional needs of the children.  I honestly think it’s more a fiscal matter than a way of helping the kids.  Of course if the kids do get better food for the effort it would be a good thing, but then you just ban certain foods from the school, not all personal foods.

Now, on to the Food Revolution.  Last season when Jamie announced his revolution, I was one of the very first to sign up and sign his petition to reform school lunches.  I fully support his efforts and as a result, have had my daughter taking her lunch to school every day.  I only wish that I had the time to go to the school, district and school board and demand that they make better choices for all students.  That said, after seeing last night’s premier of season 2, I’ll admit that the LA school lunches have to be the absolute worst crap you could serve a child.  I’m sure the California prison system gets better food than the students.  I know that the Wisconsin prisons get the same crap as the schools do because the same company, Sodexo,  provides “nutrition” for both.  If that doesn’t tell you something about the connection between nutrition and criminal behavior I don’t know how else to make that connection.

I’ve been following Jamie’s adventures in LA via Twitter for the past year, so nothing being shown is that much of a surprise for me, but seeing a school bus over filling with sugar from a week’s worth of school lunches was just shocking.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see a similar result if salt had been the example either since all that processed food is high in sodium.

Jamie, if you should somehow manage to see this, my promise to you is that when my daughter goes into middle school next year, I will find the time to go after the school and make sure that the lunch program is nutritionally supportive of the children’s learning.