Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They've found GMO Rice now

The Arkansas Democratic Gazette is reporting about GMO rice being grown in the state. AN investigation is ongoing by the Arkansas Rice Growers Association due to the fact that the GMA rice being grown is being done in secret. The association is demanding to know the location of the GMO crops in order to insure their crops are not contaminated.
The do not want a repeat of the Canola cross pollination contamination problems encountered by farmers all over the north American continent.

Read more here

The rice is contaminating natural fields and endangering rice fields that have been planted for years. It is a huge mess and Bayer is not being held responsible. To quote from the article: "The Arkansas Plant Board reportedly found out about the planting by filing a Freedom of Information Act request after rumors about the planting began to circulate. Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety was quoted as saying “After all that’s happened, it’s unbelievable that the state would give Bayer another chance to contaminate Arkansas rice."

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Are you sure you don't want to know?

I have been writing about GMO foods and got little response in the way of comments. I understand the "if I don't know about it, it won't bother me so much" mentality. But it is time to change that thinking and begin to be proactive in your approach to food.

True food is reporting a story that send chills up the back of my neck. Because rice is a go to food for emerging nations, and it is transported all over the world to alleviate starving indigenous people all over the globe, food science is trying to make it a better product.

However, after and exhaustive study by the Center for Food Safety, genetically altered, pharmaceutical rice is not better or a cost effective alternative to the real thing. The USDA was evaluating the process and encouraged to allow a 3200 acre rice pattie to be planted in Junction City, Kansas this spring by Ventria Bioscience.

Developed by California-based Ventria Bioscience, the rice is engineered with modified human genes to serve as a “biofactory” for production of synthetic human milk proteins that have antimicrobial and other drug-like properties. Ventria has proposed using the rice-extracted protein drugs to treat infants with diarrhea, and as additives in infant formulas, yogurt, granola bars and sports drinks, among other uses.

Despite much opposition and reams of information on how it could possibly have an adverse effect on the environment, the USDA approved the plan and gave Ventria the go ahead. Even when 20,000 people signed a petition to block it.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monsanto - stay away from my milk!

Monsanto has now seen the need to get involved in the dairy industry. They are pressuring the government to limit their authority when it comes to labeling standards of milk. Everyone know that you should avoid rBGH in milk. However, Monsanto says consumers are confused at the labels that state the milk contains "no rBGH" and that the labeling should stop. Why?

Well, because major dairies are ceasing the use of the chemical and stating they no longer add it to their milk. It is known to harm cows and we have no idea of its effe t on the human body. However, Monsanto makes the growth hormone known to the industry as Prosilac. Hah. Now there's your reason. Sales are down. If you limit a dairy's ability to tell the public they no longer use it, maybe they'll go back to using. I guess that is what Monsanto is thinking. What they're saying is that the labeling, as it currently stands, is confusing to consumers. Have you been confused?

This is yet another attack on a consumer's right to know. It is time we all sent a message that the FDA represents the well being of the American people, not Monsanto.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002

Back when I was running the food production facility, we were presented with the new regulations put in place when the congress passed the above referenced act. It was a way the government proposed to ensure that the food being imported into the U.S. was safe and uncontaminated, free from disease and bio-hazards.

I could see the wisdom in the processes they were asking us to put in place. I just couldn't see where the people would come from to enforce this. And it seems, neither did the congress. Money is not available to hire a sufficient workforce to make the kinds of inspections that need to be done to really keep us safe.

Sure food facilities outside the U.S. had a ream of reports that needed to be submitted in advance of shipment, but who was going to process them and oversee the system. We attended conferences and were assured it would run like a well oiled machine.

Some of the things that needed to take place.

Prior notice. A form must be submitted describing the shipment must be filled out and submitted at least 10 days prior to the arrival of the shipment.

Paper trail. You have to keep a paper record of every person or entity that had control of the food priot to its reaching the port.

A complete description of the type of food being shipped. If it is meat, it falls under a certain rule, produce has its own rule. Canned goods, dried fruits etc etc etc.

If it reached the port prior to the notification being filed it was rejected. If it was coming through Mexico and you had a food facility in the U.S. too it had a different set of rules.

You get the picture. It is very convoluted system and had a steep curve for the port inspectors to follow. How, oh how will it get done?

Well, we are no seeing it is not. Food is getting through that is contaminated. Some foods are being delayed because of paperwork snafus. It is a mess.

Can we get a system we can all work with and keep our food safe? Please.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Run, Don't Walk

If you are a carnivore, run, don't walk to your neighborhood bookstore or magazine rack. The new issue of Saveur (came in the mail today) is an homage to steak. It is an excellent primer on what to look for when buying beef; how to spot a cut, the quality and the best of the best!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Cool Whip Redux

I saw an article in Wired a month or so ago. It de-constructed Cool Whip. Cool Whip was introduced in 1967. I have not ever been a fan of Cool Whip as it's taste is not that of whipped cream. There are others, obviously or it wouldn't still be on sale, who like it and what it does. Myself, I'd rather go with the real thing and add a bit of stabilizer (gelatin) to it for certain applications like that green pistachio salad at Thanksgiving.


Makes you want to go hmmmmmmm. Ingredients are listed in quantity levels, meaning that the largest ingredient is listed first and then down from there.

1. Water. Well we all know what water is so I'll leave that alone.
2. Corn Syrup. Sugar, but not just sugar, genetically altered sugar.
3. Hydrogenated Vegetable oil (coconut and palm kernel). Hydrogenated means that the oil has been converted with hydrogen at a rapid rate to assist in solidification. It also gives the oil a creamy mouth feel. The biggest advantage for large corporations who hydrogenate oils is that is allows the oil to be shelf stable for a very long time. Oils won't go rancid quickly after being hydrogenated. If done incorrectly the result is a trans-fat. Cool whip is not a trans fat. However, the process of hydrogenation turns an oil in to a type of cellulose which in other terms is called plastic. Do you really want to eat plastic?
4. High Fructose Corn syrup. This syrup is adulterated by combining enzymes such as amylase with the glucose. This allows it to be converted to fructose. Fructose is quickly turned to fat in your system.
5. Sodium Caseinate less than 2% (from Milk). Sodium Caseinate is a protein found in cows milk that assists the oil and water to mix together. (kind of like when you used the excuse "he's really a nice guy" when explaining to your parents why your dating what seemed to them to be the spawn of satan.) It is also an animal product for those of you avoiding them.
6. Natural and artificial flavorings. Pretty self explanatory on the natural flavorings front. Artificial flavorings are simply chemical mixtures to replace a natural flavor.
7. Xanthan and Guar gums. These babies are natural thickeners that work together really well. The guar gum helps avoid the creation of ice crystals which helps keep the cool whip creamy when frozen.
8.Polysorbate 60. Wow you should see the other 59! Just kidding. Polysorbate is basically an oil. That's what Kraft will tell you. What they don't tell you is that it is flammable. heh.
This product is a mixture of stearate and palmitate esters of Sorbitol and its anhydrides copolymerized with approximately 20 moles of Ethylene Oxide for each mole of Sorbitol and Sorbitol anhydrides. Wow easy for you to say. Just know the Ethylene Oxide is a common ingredient in detergents and anti-freeze. Sorbitol is a sweetener.
9. Sorbitan Monostearate. Its nickname is span 60. It is wax like and has a white creamy texture. It is an ester of Sorbital and Stearic acid. It is sometimes known as a synthetic wax.
10. Beta Carotene. Most people are familiar with Carotenes as the part of the carrot that makes it orange. Beta Carotene is converted to vitamin A in your system.

I am loathe to eat this stuff. There isn't a bit of anything that says food there. I know so many people that have never had fresh whipped cream. Do yourselves a favor: go buy a pint or even a half pint of heavy whipping cream. Pour it into a bowl, whip it to stiff peaks with your mixer. Add a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla whip it some more and then serve with fresh berries a pie or mix it with some pudding. You'll be amazed at the flavor and won't ever want to go back to the freezer case ever again for the other stuff.

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FDA Closing labs

This is rich! The FDA announced recently that they are planning on closing 7 of its 13 field offices. In a time of heightened security, they are making a decision to outsource inspections of imported goods.

The labs check for compliance with federal guidelines, protect consumers from unsafe, ineffective and mislabeled products, and help investigate public health threats such as product tampering, bio-terrorism, food-borne illnesses and contaminated blood supplies.

Several of the facilities helped investigate the recent pet food scare and E. coli and salmonella outbreaks in spinach and peanut butter. On the heels of these crises, the proposed lab closings have been met with strong suspicion.

Most of the building that will be closed are housed in older facilities whose leasing are expiring. The cost to renovate does not mske sense in these locations. An FDA spokesperson says that all employees can easily be transferred to existing facilities without further expansion. Not all employees are willing to transfer however. Their experience and tenure will be lost to the public sector.

This plan is being met with extreme suspicion. Consumer groups and congress alike are asking why the secrecy? Speculation abounds and many are saying this looks more like an effort to consoidate power at the FDA in DC.

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