Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
- "Unhealthy Vegetable Oils? Does the Food Industry Ignore Science Regarding Polyunsaturated Oils? Implications for Cancer, Heart Disease" by CJ Puotinen
- Vegetable margarines claiming they're hydrogenation-free have a new little trick up their sleeve. Allow Frank Cooper to introduce you to "Interesterification - The Dangerous Replacement for Trans Fats"
- The brilliant Gary Taubes writer for "Science" and independent investigative journalist on "The Soft Science of Dietary Fats"
- The equally brilliant, Mr. Stephan Guyenet, neurobiologist and all-around genius blogger with a Butter vs. Margarine Showdown
- Dr. Kurt Harris weighs in on "Fats and Oils"
- What's wrong with polyunsaturated fats? Let me count the ways..
Monday, October 26, 2009
Take a look at the bar of organic chocolate in your desk drawer or the carton of organic ice cream in your freezer, and you'll likely see a little-known but very common food ingredient: lecithin.
Unless the ingredients list specifically states "organic soy lecithin," the lecithin was processed from hexane-extracted soybeans, which are also likely to have been genetically engineered and sprayed with pesticides in the fields-in organic food.
Currently, food manufacturers can legally add conventional soy lecithin to organic foods.
To be labeled "ORGANIC," and to carry the USDA organic seal, food has to be made up of 95% organic ingredients. The only non-organic ingredients are ones that are unavailable organically and cannot make up more than 5% of the product.
When the organic standards were developed in 1995, organic soy lecithin was not commercially available. To encourage the growth of the budding organic industry, the organic standards included a list of conventional substances/ingredients that were not available organically, and could be added to organic foods. Organic soy lecithin was not available, so lecithin made it on the list. But times have changed.
Over the years, one pioneering organic company has not only developed a truly organic soy lecithin, but has invested in the ability to supply the organic version to every food manufacturer that needs it. Organic soy lecithin is not extracted with the use of hexane, a neurotoxic and polluting solvent prohibited in organic production. And the organic version always comes from organically grown, non-GMO soybeans (genetically engineered ingredients are also banned in organics).
Now that organic lecithin is commercially available, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the expert citizen panel that Congress set up to decide these issues, now needs to determine whether to recommend removing lecithin from this list of conventional substances that are allowed in organic foods. This is the first time in organic regulatory history that an ingredient has been petitioned to be removed from the National List.
The Cornucopia Institute urges members of the organic community to tell the NOSB members that you support the removal of lecithin from 205.605 and 205.606. If lecithin remains on the list, food manufacturers have no incentive to opt for the truly organic lecithin, and many will continue to put hexane-extracted, conventional lecithin in your organic foods-it's cheaper.
There is more at stake than simply the type of lecithin you can expect to find in your organic foods in the future. The regulations need to adapt, by removing lecithin from the list of allowed conventional substances. If the regulations do not change when companies innovate and develop new organic ingredients, why should anyone bother investing in the expensive research and development that gives rise to the availability of new organic ingredients?
We need to send a strong message to the NOSB members and the USDA that we stakeholders in the organic industry expect the regulations to change with the times. And change should be in the interest of organic consumers and innovative organic companies.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
- Pastured, organic egg
- Pastured, organic bacon
- Organic apple clafoutis
- Homemade, raw goat milk yoghurt
- Pastured eggs are the only type of egg shown to contain a superior nutrition profile to other eggs (even those organic, 'free-range' ones they charge a premium for in the grocery store). They're high in vitamin A and D, and omega 3 fatty acids - crucial for our health and sadly lacking in our diets. The eggs were cooked in pastured bison fat. Saturated fat is the only fat stable enough to use for cooking. And, of course, saturated fat from healthy animals is integral to our health.
- Pastured bacon brings you all the joy of bacon without the guilt of supporting industrial agribusiness confinement operations. Again, fat with vitamin A, and the overall heightened nutritional profile, from animals that have been raised on grass, in the sunshine.
- The apple clafoutis was a take on a recipe I found on Elana's Pantry. We don't eat grains so this is a nice tart, similar to a pancake without the flour to knock us into a sleepy coma. It's made with eggs, raw goat milk, vanilla, and maple syrup that we purchased from our friend who produces the most wondrous, local, maple syrup. If you try out Elana's recipe, skip the agave in favour of raw honey or maple syrup.
- The goat yoghurt is a tasty way to get some much needed probiotics into our guts. We aim to get some good bacteria in every meal, usually through kefir, different types of yoghurt, or fermented vegetables.
- Most of all, our meal was good, as in 'goooooood', because it tasted delicious and I shared it with my lovely family on a slow, rainy Saturday morning. It was one of those mornings with no agenda - nothing to do, but sit and chat, sipping warm tea while the rain pitter-pattered on our roof.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Well, we know where the 'outbreak' did indeed occur. It happened in one of the turkey confinement barns housing 3,500 turkeys. This particular facility is owned by "Hybrid", a breeding company in Kitchener, Ontario.
By Helen Branswell Medical Reporter (CP)
TORONTO — A turkey breeding operation in southern Ontario has been hit by the H1N1 virus, the province's chief human and animal health officials reported Tuesday. It is only the second time turkeys have been reported to have been infected with the pandemic virus.
The outbreak likely poses no immediate threat to human health, and in particular should not have an impact on the safety of the food chain, the officials said, noting influenza cannot be contracted from well-cooked meat.
But experts do worry about the possibility that mutations could occur if flu viruses jump from one species to another and back again. And some also expressed concern that news of the discovery could turn some consumers off turkey, even though in terms of flu transmission people probably pose a bigger risk to livestock right now than the other way around.
"From my perspective as a veterinarian, I see the danger being to the economic well-being of the animal industry that's involved, and in food security - having food," said Dr. David Halvorson, an avian influenza expert at the University of Minnesota.
The finding was announced by Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Deb Stark, the province's chief veterinarian, both of whom refused to identify the affected turkey operation.
But their efforts to shield the company turned out to be futile. An industry group, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, posted a news release on their website announcing the outbreak had been discovered on a farm near Kitchener owned by Hybrid Turkeys.
Later, the company confirmed the report. Dr. Helen Wojcinski, a veterinarian and Hybrid's manager of science and technology, said turkeys in one barn on one farm experienced a drop in egg production - the telltale symptom of influenza infection in turkeys.
The barn, which contained 3,500 turkeys, is under quarantine. Wojcinski said it is expected the outbreak should run its course in about two weeks, at which point a decision will be made about what to do with the turkeys.
The birds are not free-range, meaning they live indoors under high biosecurity conditions. Wojcinski said the most likely source of the infection was a person with access to the barn.
King said local health officials are interviewing 19 people who had contact with the operation, trying to determine who might have brought the infection in to the birds - and if anyone contracted it from them. So far one person has been identified as having had influenza-like illness, she said, though it's not yet known if the person actually had the pandemic virus. Nor is it clear whether the person's illness predated the outbreak among the turkeys or followed it.
King said the incident serves as a "clarion call" to poultry and other livestock workers that they should get vaccinated with both seasonal and pandemic flu shots in order to lower the risk of flu transmission to the animals with which they have contact.
"We want to limit the amount of circulation (of H1N1) in the human population for obvious reasons and we want to try to avoid or minimize the possibility of transmission between people and animals and back again," King said.
The finding was confirmed by the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases in Winnipeg, which compared amino acid sequences from three of the virus's genes to those of the pandemic virus, said Dr. Jim Clark, national manager of disease control for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's terrestrial animal health division.
Clark said the lab is currently trying to grow virus from samples taken from the turkeys to do a full comparison, but CFIA feels confident the virus that caused the outbreak is the pandemic H1N1.
The finding will be of keen interest internationally. While swine producers in a number of countries have reported finding the new H1N1 virus in pigs, the only other report of infected turkeys came from Chile, in August. Some experts have privately questioned whether that finding was real or the result of contamination of specimens.
Announcement of the outbreak comes just days after the publication of a study that suggested turkeys are not susceptible to the pandemic virus. The work, done by researchers in Italy, was published late last week in the online journal Eurosurveillance.
Well-known influenza researcher Dr. Ilaria Capua and colleagues at the OIE collaborating centre for infectious diseases at the human-animal interface in Venice tried to infect turkeys with the new H1N1 virus. The OIE is the acronym used by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.
Turkeys are generally very susceptible to influenza viruses and one would expect to see illness among birds if they became infected with a flu virus, Capua said in an interview Tuesday.
But while her team exposed turkeys to massive doses of H1N1 virus, they saw no evidence of infection in the birds. Nor did they find any evidence of virus in the lungs, blood or tissues of the turkeys. Capua said teams of researchers in Britain, Germany and the U.S. have also tried to experimentally infect turkeys, also without success.
She said a lot of questions need to be answered about the new discovery in Ontario, including whether the full genetic sequence of the virus matches the pandemic virus.
"Before we say that this virus can spill into turkeys or into birds, I would really make sure that it's the right virus. And that there's no possible concern about any human error or contamination and that all the internal genes have been sequenced," said Capua.
But unpublished work from Canada suggests turkeys can catch this virus. Clark said scientists at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases were able to infect turkeys with the pandemic virus.
"Since we know that the genetic makeup of the virus does have some avian components to it, it's not surprising to us that we have a poultry flock - a turkey flock - that is infected," he noted.
Halvorson, who said Minnesota has seen swine influenza outbreaks in turkey operations frequently over the last 20 years, said the new pandemic virus is posing real challenges for livestock producers.
While the female turkeys used for breeding purposes have shown themselves to be "exquisitely" sensitive to influenza viruses of both swine and avian origin, there's never before been evidence of the birds being infected with human flu viruses.
"We've never, ever found that or suspected it of happening. So this is kind of new, you know," he said. "For both the turkey industry and the swine industry, it's quite new. How do you protect your animals from a human infection?"
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- A head of green cabbage (keep it simple, make it all organic)
- A few carrots
- Fresh ginger, garlic and, if you like, some dried caraway and juniper berries
- Sea salt
Friday, October 16, 2009
If you are lucky enough to find a butcher who is skilled in charcuterie AND uses meat from animals raised organically on pasture, you are one lucky person, my friend. I have had the distinct, mind-blowing, pleasure of eating bacon cured in a small smokehouse by my ultra-skilled farmer-friend, Richard. Sweet Hallelujah!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
- A thorough, well documented report on the corporate take-over of organic milk production by Mark Alan Kastel, sponsored by the Cornucopia Institute
- The Stockman Grass Farmer reports on the futility of cage-free, organic, omega 3 or any other silly marketing name they attach to eggs. If the chicken are not outside, eating grass, you're wasting your money.
- Jo Robinson, of Eat Wild, weighs in on why grass is better than a "certified organic" label.