Sunday, April 29, 2007

The perilous trip to the market

Did you know that over 60% of grocery store offerings contain genetically modified ingredients?

Did you know there was a farmer in Nebraska that gave his cows the option of eating GMO corn or regular corn? The cows wouldn't eat the GMO corn. Also see this report on a study done by Russian scientists about feeding GMO feed to animals. It has a negative impact.

Did you know the two biggest GMO products are soy or corn based?

I went to the FDA's site and found this published report from 2000:

The following processed foods tested positive for being genetically modified (September 1999). The tests were not "safety tests;" they were only to establish the presence of unlabeled genetically modified ingredients.

* Frito-Lay Corn Chips
* Bravo's Tortilla Chips
* Kellogg's Corn Flakes
* General Mills Total Corn Flakes Cereal
* Post Blueberry Morning Cereal
* Heinz 2 Baby Food
* Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula
* Similac Isomil Soy Formula
* Nestle Carnation Alsoy Infant Formula
* Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
* Nabisco Snackwell's Granola Bars
* Ball Park Franks
* Duncan Hines Cake Mix
* Quick Loaf Bread Mix
* Ultra Slim Fast
* Quaker Yellow Corn Meal
* Light Life Gimme Lean
* Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
* Alpo Dry Pet Food
* Gardenburger
* Boca Burger Chef Max's Favorite
* Morning Star Farms Better'n Burgers
* Green Giant Harvest Burgers (now called Morningstar Farms)
* McDonald's McVeggie Burgers
* Ovaltine Malt Powdered Beverage Mix
* Betty Crocker Bac-O's Bacon Flavor Bits
* Old El Paso Taco Shells
* Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

Additionally, the following whole foods have been genetically engineered and approved for commercial sales:

* Canola Oil
* Chicory, red hearted (Radicchio)
* Corn
* Cotton
* Papaya
* Potato
* Soybean
* Squash
* Tomato

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Handout 1: List of Possible Genetically Engineered Products

Example 1: Cake Mix

* A familiar and popular brand of cake mix
* Sold in supermarkets
* Used for many years by a broad mix of consumers
* Traditional ingredients, such as flour, that is now being made from wheat that has been genetically modified to tolerate a commercial herbicide.
* The genetically modified wheat makes it easier for farmers to control weeds, and thereby increase crop yields and lower consumer prices.

Example 2: Corn Oil

* A familiar and popular brand of cooking oil
* Sold in supermarkets
* Used for many years by a broad mix of consumers
* Made from corn that has been genetically modified to resist insect pests.
* Process that extracts the oil from the corn, which involves heat, destroys the corn's DNA so there is no DNA in the cooking oil.
* There is no way to tell whether the oil was made from genetically engineered corn or conventional corn.

Example 3: Canola Oil

* A new brand of cooking oil
* Sold in supermarkets
* Has a claims that it contains more lauric acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that is less likely to raise cholesterol, than other canola oils.
* It has more lauric acid because it is derived from genetically engineered plants.
* There is no protein or residual DNA in the cooking oil, but because it is nutritionally different from other canola oils, it must state on the label that it is "high lauric acid canola oil"

Example 4: Flavr SavrTM Tomato

* New strain of tomatoes produced by genetic engineering
* Sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket
* The genetic engineering inactivates an existing gene in tomatoes that makes them go bad after they ripen.
* These tomatoes can stay in the field to ripen longer before they are picked. They also stay fresh longer on the grocery shelf than other tomatoes.

Example 5: Vitamin A rice

* New strain of rice produced by genetic engineering
* Sold as a household staple and intended to be a significant part of the diet
* The genetic engineering takes a gene that produces Vitamin A from a harmless strain of bacteria and puts this Vitamin A gene into rice.
* The resulting rice can be a significant dietary source of Vitamin A and has the potential to reduce Vitamin A deficiencies cheaply and effectively.
* Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness, mental retardation and other diseases.

Example 6: Genetically modified salmon

* New strain of farm-raised salmon
* Sold in fresh fish counters of supermarkets, public fish markets and to restaurants
* Salmon engineered to grow faster to reach market size at an earlier age
* Modified a gene that regulates growth hormone levels. When it is sold, the salmon does not contain higher than usual levels of growth hormone in the meat.

It is now more important than ever that you read labels and commit to memory the list above to avoid eating experimental foods. I am not saying that they will harm you, however, if they are not good for animals, how good are they for you?

The FDA does not require labeling of GMO foods for consumers unless they pose a health risk. Everywhere else in the world GMO ingredients must be labeled. Is Monsanto in charge of the FDA? We need to be able to determine for ourselves if we want to consume experimental foods. If they are not disclosed on a label, how can we know for certain what we are eating? When you begin reading labels, you will notice some companies have elected to tell you that the ingredients they are using are non-GMO ingredients. We need to convince the FDA that the lebeling is necessary on all food.

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Some Good News

The FDA has heard our plea! They have extended the deadline for consumer commenting to June 25, 2007. Please tell everyone you know to go here: Don't Mess with Our Chocolate!

This is a grass roots effort. We need you and everyone you know to contact the FDA and let them know not to change chocolate. I cannot imagine what vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter would even taste like! Yuck!

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate

Chocolate, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Go over to my other place and find out why I'm drowning my sorrows in this.


I'm making something good with this. Tomorrow I'll post finished pictures.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

This is one of my favorite lunches. A spinach salad. It has green apple slices, candied pecans, bacon a bit of sliced chicken and a blue cheese dressing. It is the best. My companion had a bowl of chowder, we shared the crab cakes.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

It's really time to stop the FDA

In a Washington Post article today we find this.

Can we all agree they are not working for us anymore. Their excuse is that they didn't have enough money to execute their jobs correctly. Evidently we will be hearing from the FDA that they need their budget increased. Hopefully, but not likely, congress will tell them sorry, no money for you! Only a government agency could do a job as bad as this and still be in business. If the private sector poorly presents their product to the public, the public speaks and they're out of business. Not a government agency. We just give them more taxpayer dollars!

Please read the article. Please contact your government representatives. Please urge them to stop the FDA! TODAY! They're having a meeting tomorrow to discuss the recall situation.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's Earth Day Baby

October 25, 1969: Cartoonist Ron Cobb designed the ecology symbol and published it in the Los Angeles Free Press. In December, Hunter reproduced the symbol in his Vancouver Sun column. It became a symbol for our generation. I was a freshman in high school. It was a new concept, embraced by all of us. A good friend decided at that point to become an ecologist. We embraced the "love mother earth" program whole-heartedly.

It is one of the reasons I am so confused when I read what giant corporations are doing to food. These corporate heads were part of that generation. What has happened to them. Is their greed so strong that they think genetically altering plants, patenting them, and "owning" those patents can replace nature? It is that greed that we must fight. How?

I was taught the phrase "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" as a child. It is the foundation of my life. It is my "necessity is the mother of invention" mantra. There is always something more that can be done with something before it is committed to the bin.

It now is evident that we must do the same with plants that become food. How? We begin by growing our own food. Plant a garden. Just the mere act of growing a garden keep us out of our cars and on the street looking for a bargain. You haven't tasted a tomato until you've grown your own. Purchase seeds from non-gmo companies. This list provides links to an enormous amount of seed companies dedicated to organic and non-gmo seeds.

Once your garden is planted go to the next step: save seeds from that garden. This page is written for elementary age children. But it is not so fundamental that we can't all learn something about collecting and saving seed for our gardens each year. Please take a look at it.

If you cannot grow your own garden, visit local farmer's markets. Purchase from local growers in your area. Eat fruits and vegetables in their season and learn to can for times when they aren't. Canning isn't difficult, but it is always more fun with a few friends to help. Co-op the cost of fruits or vegetables and take a day where everyone gets together to can and share the result. If you can on a regular basis, teach someone else how to can.

Once you've eaten the food, wasting little, then compost it. I know this is a difficult task for those city dwellers out there. However, there are small composting information available all over the net. A good one is Barb Finnin video pod talking about composting in your apartment or small homes. Go watch it, it is full of good information.

These are just a few ideas on how to "love your mother" and give a bit back to the earth.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

MINI cookies

MINI cookies, originally uploaded by 89AKurt.

I stumbled upon this photo from a friend in AZ. He's got a great little red MINI. He is also an architect and does some very creative things in his off hours. He designed this cookie cutter in 05 and I still haven't convinced him to give it to me!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

This is real chocolate

I picked this up at a Whole Foods in Charlottesville, Virginia. Yes, I had to go all the way there to find the El Rey brand. It is the finest Venezuela brand with which I am familiar. I picked up a small sample of each, and brought them home. Then I sliced the up and ate them.

The milk chocolate was the Caoba milk. It had a real fruity flavor. Almost as if it had been infused with prunes or very ripe raisins. I enjoyed it, it was not too sweet. The Caoba is 41% cocoa butter. It is made with dried or skim milk solids. That helps me understand the lack of creaminess for me. Still, I enjoyed the chocolate. It was chocolate!

The semi-sweet was their Bucare. It was a 58% cocoa butter dark. It wasn't my favorite dark, but I wouldn't turn it away. All in all both were worthy of a second purchase.

The El Rey was at a disadvantage in the tasting realm. I also had purchased some of the new Lindt 70% chocolate infused with Pear. Wowzer. That one will be a regular on my shelf!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What can you do?

I get emails and comments about okay, you have my attention but what can I really do? Many people believe it is useless to get fired up about changing something we don't feel is right. They believe that the government is going to do what it is going to do and we are such small pieces of it that you just frustrate yourself trying. I say baloney.

I am a taxpayer. My voice must be heard. If I say nothing, the powers that be will think I am okay with what is happening. So where do I go, what do I do?

Begin with the internet. Use the resources available to you to do some research. Find out what is really happening. Is the FDA and the chocolate industry really trying to change chocolate? Holy smokes! They really are! But, the FDA wants to hear from me and my friends before they make up their minds.

I go to their site make my comments and then I tell my friends. Please. Go do the same thing. But does it stop there? No. I now move on to my legislators.

Who are they? How do I find out who represents me? You can go here and it will tell you who your representative in your district is for the House of Representatives. Then you can go here to find out about your congressmen are. Now that you know who they are, begin writing letters.

Write letters, emails or simple messages to them voicing your concerns. Keep them short simple and to the point. Address only one issue at a time. Ask them for some feedback and you'll actually get some. I wrote to my congress person, even though I know they don't agree with me on an issue, and let her know I expect her to keep me in mind when deciding on how to vote.

When you and your congress person don't agree is when you really have to represent yourself by mail or email well. Letters that show you are informed and educated on an issue will get you farther than a ranting letter demanding action. Be kind, it'll get you more attention. You do not want to be labeled as the loon in your town.

Next you can dig a bit and go through a few bills waiting to be made laws. Yes, it is tedious, but it is also enlightening. If you know your subject, but not a bill number or who is introducing it, try googling the subject matter. Try something like: cloning bill introduced in congress. You'll get all kinds of leads. Click on a few until you have what you're looking for. There is also a great place to start if you don't want to try google. This site is a favorite of mine. It is the glossary for congressional bills. You start here and there are all kinds of information and click able links for your education on bills before congress.

Once you are satisfied with your search, and letter writing, then take action. You've become schooled in the topic of choice. Tell your family and friends, ask them to lend support.When you're standing in line at the grocery store, strike up a conversation with a stranger and tell them what you've learned. Talk about it whenever you have the opportunity. People will begin to look to you for guidance and then you too will become an advocate.

One person I know is on a first name basis with her legislators. Lisa has been thrust into this world of speaking about subjects she knew very little about a few years ago. She has taken the necessary steps to become involved and educated about subjects that are important to her. She is now looked to as a person to take action and speak when the need arises. She has become a leader in her community.

You too can become a person of change. Try it, you may just walk the halls of congress yourself someday as an advocate for an important cause or two.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thinking Bloggers

I was paid quite a compliment by Melissa of Book Nut fame. She hand picked me in her post about thinking bloggers. I have to say thank you! I'm glad someone out there (quite a few someone's thank you!) finds me to be a critical thinker at times.

Evidently there are those out there who are trying to define the thinking bloggers in the blogosphere. I have been chosen to represent the food bloggers. Yay. I am not a regular food blogger. I guess it's because of my place in the industry. I spend my time behind the scenes getting myself grimy and leave all the fun posts about what dinner or an outing was serving for others. Don't get me wrong those are the fun blogs! Those people actually have a followership to speak of. On the other hand, if I get you to think about the how and why of food I've made a friend and made a difference. Posts have been sporadic lately, but that is going to improve, I promise.

I do love reading thinking bloggers and yes, Melissa, I would count you as one! Your book reviews have led to me the library on more than one occasion.

Thinkers don't always look like thinkers though. Sometimes those erudites that like to think they're thinkers are just wolves in sheep's clothing. They spout off about this or that and don't really make a case for reading them. I like thinkers that are also human beings. Those people who think deeply, yet live everyday lives just trying to pay the bills and make it to the end of the month with money. Yep those kinds.

One of my favorites just passed away in fact. Cathy Seipp has been blogging forever. I've been reading her for 4 years or more. She was a right wing blogger who also wrote for the National Review Online. Her column "From the Left Coast" was a favorite of mine. Mostly because she was from Los Angeles, but also because she was a conservative woman living in LA and was wild and crazy too! I loved her style. She just passed away on the 21st of March from Lung Cancer. She was not a smoker. And from her travail with cancer I learned some things I didn't know before. I learned that half of the people that die from lung cancer never smoked. I also learned that lung cancer kills more people than any other form of cancer. What I learned most though, is that life is meant to be lived. That in the face of intense fear you can still live, make a difference and love. Cathy leaves her daughter, a freshman at UCSD this year, and her mother and a myriad of friends behind. I will miss her writing. She was a thinking blogger for certain.

Other thinking bloggers would include S'mee. She doesn't think of herself as a thinking blogger, but she thinks about the good stuff. How life's injustices affect us, and why thinking about the hard questions is an important thing to do. In fact, I think this post should be sent to every family court judge nationwide.

Then there's Stephen. Stephen writes in a way that allows each of us to think. He takes you places you don't especially want to go sometimes, but it is always worth the effort.

Other thinkers I enjoy are Tony, Mike, and Kirsty. I know plenty of other of you that think, think, think all the time. If you want to be included, just add yourself to the list and let us know. Also if you've been tagged they've got a button to add to your sidebar.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

And if I can't get you with chocolate

I'll stoop to this, it wasn't hard though the FDA helped! The pet food debacle can be laid at their feet. Pets have been dying since December. They waited until March to announce a recall. Today it was extended to dry pet foods. They say, and when I say they I mean the FDA, that it is an insignificant amount of pet food that will be recalled. That there is plenty of good food still out there to buy. That it affect only 1-2% of the pet population. They only admit that about 20 animals have died. They must be gathering information from squirrels! I know 20 people right here whose pets have been adversely affected. Call your vet and see how many patients he has seen in past few months. Newman's Own is one pet food that is called safe to purchase.

I never thought I'd be more trusting of a liberal actor than my government.

Now that was the dumbest thing I've ever said.

We need to do something about the FDA. Now.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh My Goodness! The FDA is at it again!

This time with my love of all loves! When I went to DC last month I looked and looked for the big building that housed them and I did not locate them. They are lucky I tell you!

Big corporations need to be collared! Once again they are trying to change things we love and adulterate them to make them more cost effective. It'll be easier to manufacture a product if we can cheaply make it. What are they trying to change?

Chocolate. Yes, the very best in life. They want to make a vegetable oil processed amalgam, nothing like real chocolate at all.

The U.S. Chocolate Industry, through its Chocolate Manufacturers of America (CMA), and in collaboration with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have petitioned the Food and Drug Association (FDA) to change the current requirements for chocolate.

What they want to do is replace cocoa butter with vegetable oil and real milk with milk solids. Nice. It's bad enough the percentages are already at the lowest level of any civilised country in the approved use of cocoa butters, but now they want to completely eliminate any at all. It is criminal! If you want an unsolicited comparison see the post at Not Martha post. She compares Cadbury eggs purchased in Canada to those purchased in the U.S. There is definitely a difference and the U.S. does not win the comparison test by any stretch of the imagination.

And of course the FDA is considering it because they have not heard from consumers. We aren't even aware that the negotiations are taking place! If you are at all a consumer of chocolate please click on the link below and take action.

It seems strange that we continually have to police the policing agency we pay taxes to protect us!

Don't Mess with Our Chocolate!

The window for commenting ends on April 27th. Don't wait, do something now!

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