Thursday, December 29, 2011

GMO vs Nature... Everyone Loses!

So when I saw this headline in today's news: Bugs may be resistant to GMO corn, I had to at the very least make mention of it.

When will people stop and realize that GMO's (genetically modified organisms) are BAD news. Despite what Monsanto, the leading most powerful player in the biogenetics field, and our government who is greatly influenced politically, bureaucratically, and monetarily by this bio-agri mega conglomerate would like us to believe, that GMO's will save the worlds starving nations, such meddling in natures work can only lead to one thing... death and destruction!

The simple fact of the matter is why should the maker of Round-up, a toxic pesticide that's sole purpose is to kill living things, have so much influence in shaping (controlling) the current and future paths of agricultural and medical fields?

Putting aside for a moment the factory farming notion that the industrial and manufacturing approach to agriculture, where the animal (pig, cow, chicken) is the widget, CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations) are the assembly lines, and government subsidized GMO monocrops (corn and soybeans) are the cheap labor (in this case food)... putting aside, just for a moment, that any of this is a good idea benefiting anyone other than the few greedy mega-corporations sitting at the top of this manure pile of a mess. Ask yourself this, who stands to gain from all of this? It's surely not you or me...

The truth is giving grains to animals as their primary (and only) food source is not only deadly to the animal, in the case of ruminant, and not only to humans, in the form of chronic inflammatory diseases, but also to the planet! The annual monocrop approach to agriculture, especially on such a global scale, promotes destruction. It drains the soil of any and all nutrients rendering the land infertile. It requires the use of chemical fertilizers in order for crops to grow in these man-made deserts we call the "fruited plains". It requires pesticides to ward off insects that thrive on such nutrient lacking immune deficient plants that would otherwise have a thriving chance in a more natural perennial polyculture approach.

And all of this leads to our current state of agriculture. One where life be it human or grain is manipulated at its very core (DNA) and patented. One where these GMO seeds produce their own chemical pesticide and or seeds that won't grow without being sprayed (with pesticides), pesticide produced by the very company that patented the seed of course (Monsanto). And this greed and power driven nightmare has even led to suicide seeds that won't germinate and therefore cannot reproduce. One where genes that would otherwise cause a tortured animal (say a chicken or pig) to become distressed and aggressive in nature, to instead be indifferent to its immediate environment.

If all of this sounds as appalling to you as it does to me, then do something about it! Buy all your meets, eggs, and dairy products from local organic sustainable grass fed farms! Befriend your local farmers! Know where your food comes from! Demand change!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you support pharming or farming?

When you read phrases such as "free-range" and "cage free" or "raised without antibiotics" or "no antibiotics or hormones added" you would assume as anyone would that these meant just that, but unfortunately we live in a world where words and phrases can be (and are) manipulated as easily and as often as the very food these phrases are associated with.

Free range and cage free to someone who cares about their health, that of the animals, and for that matter the world around them, stands for the animal FREE to be itself and do as it would without man's intervention or should I say oppression. Or as someone like Joel Salatin the man at the forefront of beyond organic sustainable farming might say, "to allow the animal to fully express its physiological distinctiveness."

To the world of industrialized farming, words like free-range are nothing more than a way to profit on the public's growing "want" for organic products. To them it means access to the outside. It does not have to be more than a small opening nor does it mean that any of the birds will ever find their way out there, especially since they are raised indoors in crowded buildings on cold hard floors with minimal if any lighting; oh does this sound familiar (CAFO). The truth is even if the few birds that are closest to this opening to the outside manage to venture out, there does not have to be any viable grass for which they can, well, be chickens!

To the world of CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) the words cage-free means something like 200 birds shoved into an enclosure, instead of one bird to a cage... sounds like freedom to me!

To the naive yet ignorant consumer who wants to "eat healthier" without having to put much personal effort into the cause might expect "raised without antibiotics" or "no antibiotics or hormones added" to simply mean just that, but unfortunately in a world where the grain industry (animal feed) owns the most real estate in our corrupted misguided food pyramid, such phrases are more misleading then the "exit this way" signs in an Ikea store. When companies like Tyson or Purdue have found ways to inject eggs with antibiotics before the chick ever hatches, I think it's time to rethink your grocery store food selection.

So what does this mean to you the consumer? Everything actually!

In a world where nearly everything on the food pyramid (meats, dairy, eggs, grains, and junk food) are tied directly to one or both of the two largest monocrops in the world (corn and soy), and with nearly all these grains (and legumes) produced being GMO's and heavily sprayed and nutrient deficient, we need to now more than ever rethink our food choices. We need to start taking the notion that we are what we eat, literally! And living by it! We need to see beyond that notion, and into "we are what our food eats"!

We need to understand that when we (mankind) feel we're justified without consequence to manipulate all plants and animals for our own selfish needs and as far as current biotechnology will allow, feeding the ever hungry agricultural machine that is factory farming, we create a world dependent upon pharming (not farming). A world where the lines between farming and science & engineering have become increasingly blurred and nonexistent.

This is not the world I want to live in, and so I choose to eat food... real food! Locally grown organic sustainably farmed food! And in turn I get rewarded with a healthy lifestyle and healthy conscience!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Hurtles to a Healthy Lifestyle

The path to a healthy lifestyle can be a tough journey with many obstacles in the way, but these hurtles we must overcome are often mentally more difficult than physically. In fact I would say that it's at the very least a 90% mental struggle, making it tougher and tougher to swallow the deeper you dig into what you thought you knew about our food industry.

I will call this challenging road to a healthier you a Double Obstacle Course, and I have to thank my cousin for putting it this way based on his own journey.

  1. The first obstacle is the obvious "I want to stop poisoning myself" hurtle that usually results in replacing all non-organic foods with organic. This of course could be broken down further, into the "replacing a heavy processed food based diet with more fresh fruits and veggies" step, inevitably followed by the "replacing the fruits and veggies and existing processed packaged foods with the organic variety" step, but for the sake of this post we will just lump it all together into "moving from non-organic to organic". The mental issue with this step is twofold; the first is wrestling with the dilemma "does everything really have to be organic?" After you finally come to the realization that non-organic foods are poisoning you with cancer causing chemicals, be it the heavily sprayed (pesticides) foods or those that get inundated with chemicals during processing and packaging or simply from the start either as a GMO or a test-tube concoction made to taste like real food, and only after you wrap your mind around that must you then wrestle with the cost... unfortunately an unhealthy diet is far cheaper (at checkout) then a healthy one, but that of course is where the savings stops. With the insane unfathomable amount of money the average American pays into health care, I think it becomes clear quickly that cheap at checkout equals paying for it for the rest of your life...
  2. The second hurtle in the obstacle course is the "I want the food I'm eating to actually have some health benefits", and this is a much higher mental hurtle. Because it's this obstacle that makes you question the integrity of everything; our food industry as a whole, the greedy corporations that control it, the corrupt "watch dogs" that are supposed to protect us from this sort of thing (FDA), and unfortunately the abuse of such words as "organic", "free-range", "FDA approved". Just when you think you're eating healthy because the store bought chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and milk are organic and or free-rang you find out that these products are simply not doing you any favors. Unless you have been to the farm and met the farmers and see the animals walking eating and lounging in their natural state (outside in grassy fields), the use of the words organic and or free-range meets, eggs, and dairy are still the result of factory farming (grain fed). As we should all know by now grains, man made (domesticated) annual monocrops, are not the appropriate sole-source or even primary source of dietary intake for any domesticated farm animal that ultimately evolved to graze and forage. Once you've wrapped your head around this basic principle, you have to be ready willing and able to ask what is the damage this causes, who lets this happen, and why?

Our food industry is broken, badly, and corrupt from the top down, but the average person doesn't see any of this because they are so disconnected from the food they eat that so long as the grocery store's shelves are stocked with their favorite meal who cares what it's actually made of or how it got there... it's this ignorance that makes that second hurtle such a doozy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grains, a double edged sword

Grains have been a staple for any and all agricultural based societies, and in the last 40 years or so the push for "whole grains" has gone from primarily breads to sugary overly processed junk foods. So what makes this intense push for whole grain consumption so dangerous? The agonizing side effects that are drastically on the rise... grain allergies!

Grains contain lectins (sugar binding proteins) and they don't break down very easily. They do a very good job resisting even the most extreme environment of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, even when they've been soaked and cooked prior to consumption. In fact more than half of these lectins consumed can remain "immunologically" intact within the digestive tract, and as with all partially undigested foods this can lead to serious damage. As those with food allergies know all too well, when any concentration of undigested food particles enters the intestines the intestinal wall becomes compromised allowing some particles to pass through. Once in the bloodstream these foreign proteins wreak havoc on the body, and in response the body's natural defense is for the immune system to wage an all-out attack. This natural inflammatory response is the allergic reaction that allergy sufferers are all too familiar with. But here is where things get a bit more "cloak and dagger"...

"The profound destruction that lectins are capable of lies in the autoimmune response they can trigger. The protein sequence in some lectins is almost identical to tissues in the human body. Once the lectins pass through the compromised tight junctions and into the bloodstream, they cause tremendous and tragic damage in a process called molecular mimicry." The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith page 150-151

They can resemble or even mimic protein sequences in other grains which can cause those with a gluten allergy to be allergic to gluten free grains or vise versa. Perhaps even more dangerous though is their ability to mimic protein sequences within the body itself, such as joint cartilage or the sheaths that cover nerves. Others mimic sequences found in various organs like the kidneys and pancreas. This basically results in the body attacking itself.

So what does all this mean? From the author of "The Vegetarian Myth" Lierre Keith's point of view, we (humans) are meat eaters and are not designed by nature to consume grains, especially not to the extreme that we as a society do. From my point of view... I don't know if I have a definitive opinion yet, but being as driven as I am to achieve optimal health without the aid of modern medicine I am surly open to new theories; so long as their not backed by greedy corrupt mega corporations.

I will say though that knowing this (possible truth about grains) makes me very happy and proud of my freezer full of local organic grass-fed meats!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Go Bare... foot that is!

A recent article "Barefoot running: bad or beneficial" has prompted me to write about a nonfood topic that I feel I have enough personal experience to comment on. When it comes to feet there are two sides of the fence; those that believe the over abundance of cushioning and support in modern day shoes and sneakers are crucial for maintaining healthy feet, and those that feel all of the cushioning and so called support in today's footwear simply restricts natural movement, obstructs muscle activation, and prevents natural gate corrections by driving 2+ inches of rubber between your foot and the ever changing environment beneath it.

I stand walk and run on this more nontraditional side of the fence, and I have the best kind of data and facts to back it up... my own recovery from painful foot injuries that was only made possible from the motivation and desperation that came to me as I limped out of the podiatrist's office disgusted disappointed and fed up for the last time.

It was about 4 years ago when I was diagnosed with severe tendonitis in me feet, which started in one and eventually affected both, and would plague me for 2 years. In that time, especially in the beginning I followed the more traditional path of primary care doctor, pain meds, specialist (Podiatrist), more pain meds, a few noninvasive procedures some costly and not covered by insurance, lots of rehab, and molded orthotics which in turn lead to many more disappointing visits to the podiatrist's office. That's when I stepped out of traditional shoes and into a radical belief that today's modern day foot problems are caused by the very shoes and sneakers that were supposed to protect them.

The foot and ankle consist of more than 26 bones 33 joints and over 100 muscles tendons and ligaments and together they make up this very complex anatomical structure that allows us to stand walk and run upright. Unfortunately when we walk and run shod in today's over restrictive and overpriced footwear we prevent their natural movement and severely limit muscle activation that leads to muscle atrophy and will eventually lead to injury affecting either the feet, the ankle, the knee, and or the back. Our bodies were designed to walk on softer uneven surfaces causing the muscles in our feet to constantly flex and contract with our toes working almost as fingers slightly cupping the ground beneath them; none of this is possible in a pair of traditional running or walking shoes, heck you can't even feel the ground let alone any subtle changes in the landscape. It has also been observed that when running (unlike walking) we should strike the ground with the padded forefoot first and then come down with the heel as apposed to the heel first approach used by shod runners. And the former makes more sense, it is the most padded part of your foot and your weight is already forward by nature.

To get back to my story though, I went from the useless crutch the medical community calls an "orthotic" to bare feet when I walk (or run) on natural surfaces and MBT's when I walk on manmade surfaces. If you've never seen or heard of these shoes they are sort of half moon shaped on the bottom forcing your foot to travel a further more complete distance while activating the muscles that are traditionally not used with classic shoes or sneakers. I prefer these over barefoot on manmade surfaces because they do give some padding and shock absorption when walking over surfaces that are hard and flat (unnatural).

I have since been able to do something the podiatrist told me I never would... walk without orthotics!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And With This Seed You Will Rule The World

It seems more "Hollywood horror" than reality to think there could exist a handful of companies some privately owned with so much power, wealth, and political influence that they could run, better yet manipulate this countries... the world's food industry for their own financial gain, but it's true!

Cargil is the largest privately held corporation on the planet and they account for much of the global grain trade. They are one of about 6 companies that control nearly 75% of the grain handling facilities; they flood the market, they manipulate price, and they profit. The U.S. produces tens of billions of bushels of corn a year, half of which is exported and most of which is used for animal feed (cows, chickens, pigs, fish, etc.), and Cargil is one of maybe 3 companies that control over %80 of the corn being exporting. But their rule doesn't stop there, they are one of about 4 companies that control over 80% of the beef packing industry. Add to that ties into pharmaceutical and chemical companies as well as the oil industry, and it's easy to see that they are an agri-conglomerate with world domination on their minds.

Together with the likes of Monsanto, ConAgra, ADM and our government they will continue to dominate global control over what is produced, how it's produced, and how it's used, all for their own profit gain and our loss.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Local is Local?

I have been asked this question, in one form or another, numerous times when talking about the food that my wife and I eat; how local is local?

When it comes to food my wife and I always choose local organic when possible, but for many foods the definition of local changes slightly with the changing of the seasons. This means during the vegetable growing season as per your geographical location you should buy all your produce grown as close to home as possible; for the North East that means late spring (May) through early-mid fall (October-November). My wife and I are lucky enough to have a wonderful organic farm stand less than 5 min from our house, as well as a farmers market every weekend that hosts many organic farms from within our state. I also believe that during these bountiful seasons it is best to buy what is 'in season' for any particular month, that means spring veggies in the spring, summer veggies in the summer, and fall veggies in the fall. Unfortunately as with any growing season the end is inevitable and that's when we broaden our idea of local. During these "off season" months we keep produce purchases from within the U.S. How fresh can that organic produce actually be if it comes from the other side of the world? This also means some vegetables will have to be passed over until the next growing season since even California does not grow all products all year round. And even some of the ones they do are just not the same; that means no fresh tomatoes in December!

Just on a side note I try to make sure only to buy 'loose produce', nothing packaged in wrappers or plastic boxes, because even with organically grown products of this type when shipped from across the country (or world) they can still use small amounts of pesticides in packaging in order to prevent the item from becoming spoiled or eaten prior to sale.

Meats and eggs are the extreme exception to this rule; my wife and I ALWAYS buy our meats (beef, pork, chicken, and lamb) from local organic grass fed farms. I think this is very important and is the only way to ensure that you are indeed eating exactly what is advertised, and that is healthy meat from an animal that was raised in a healthy sustainable way. Yes you can buy 'all natural' or 'organic' or 'free-range or grass fed' meets from your local grocery store, it's where my journey started all those years ago, but they are not what is advertised and in my opinion do not taste very good. Why? Because these marketing terms like "all natural" or "free range" are skillfully manipulated and under regulated. Although I am not sure what actually constitutes "all natural" it most likely means that some of its ingredients originated from natural sources... so do most all pharmaceuticals but how natural are they? 'Organic' is another term that can be very misleading when it comes to the sale of meats. Organic beef for instance means the cow was fed organic corn and a grain-fed cow is NOT a healthy cow (see an earlier post on this subject). Another term often abused is 'free range'. To qualify for free range status the government says the animal only needs access to the outside, and says nothing about whether there is any viable grass for the animal or even whether the animal ever goes outside. This is why buying this type of meat from the grocery store often equals tough tasteless meat.

So do some investigating and find a local organic sustainable farm near you. I mean even a two hour drive once a weekend is local compared to the 12hr flight that exotic fruit traveled just to enter the U.S.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss

My blog is my soapbox, the outlet I choose to use when "preaching" about a way of life that I feel so passionately about... One where our food is obtained locally from organic sustainable farms. One where there is absolute transparency in our food industry from farm to table; you've visited the farms, you know the farmers, and you've seen the animals. In this scenario there is nothing to hide!

A healthy lifestyle is a choice you must make, but first you must be willing and ready to know the cruel unhealthy truth about the food you eat. And I'm not only talking about the obvious unhealthy diet of fast foods, junk food, sodas, etc., but also the non-organic produce and processed foods that make up more than 90% of your local grocery store. Most if not all of these so called healthy foods be it fresh produce or packaged goods are GMO's that contain enough cancer causing chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, waxes, food colorings, fillers and binders, preservatives) to alarm even the most naive shopper. And let's not forget about the handful of cancer causing chemicals our government allows "in trace amounts" in packaged foods that DO NOT have to be listed in the ingredients!

The truth is what you don't know can hurt you, and you can bet it already is!

Do the research and learn about the food you are eating.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Put Down That Protein Bar!

Being an ex-gym rat, a slave to the dumbbells and treadmills, I have consumed my fair share of energy/protein bars and shakes in a quest to reach my bodies "utmost potential". And it's that stigma, the one that says going to a gym and eating this garbage must go hand in hand, is why I feel many gym goers are unknowingly followers of a misguided and ironically enough unhealthy cult. Driven by the urge to supplement the typical American's unhealthy lifestyle of minimal activity and poor nutritional intake, these food manufacturers (if food is what you want to call it) have drilled it into our heads that in order to be strong and fit, and dare I say healthy, you must consume ungodly amounts of protein. Heck they even have so called nutritionist working at gyms along with trainers pushing these poor unhealthy eating habits.

And who says we need all this protein?

I hate to admit this since I am one myself, but Humans (as a whole) in today's society are by far the laziest species on the planet, and far lazier than our hunter-gatherer ancestors were. When is the last time we walked countless miles a day hunting and gathering our food? When is the last time we spent countless hours building shelter to protect us from the elements or making fire to keep us warm and safe? I mean if anyone needed tons of protein it was our ancestors! And lets be honest, since the gathering part of their lifestyle consumed less energy and was often more successful than the hunting part, it would have been a prime market for such protein infused products.

The truth is we have been dubbed a starving nation but not by quantity, not when you can super-size just about anything, instead we are starving due to the quality of our food. The average American's diet lacks nutrients in EVERY way, but the one thing it does not lack is protein. When is the last time you saw a restaurant or fast food joint advertising their new and improved more petite burger... No, protein is by no means a luxury anymore. It is there for the taking, cheap and super-sized for your eating pleasure. And I believe these unhealthy fad diets that ban carbohydrates of any kind have only fueled this blind quest for more protein.

Have you ever taken a second to examine what is in these protein bars that you so willingly consume? Let's take a look at the popular power bar, and remember none of these ingredients are organic or come from an organic sustainable source, and nearly all have been manipulated so many times in a lab that they don't even resemble in taste shape or color the food source they came from. This is why they must be chock full of sugar and flavoring... Note the 4 occurrences of sugar, 4 of the first 5 ingredient to be exact.


There is a healthier way to eat, it's called real food. Know and care about where your food comes from and you will be on your way to the healthier you.

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