After my beloved dog Panda gained some weight (76 lbs when she should be 65!) and developed arthritis and mobility problems, (at only 5 years old, some days she could only walk a few blocks when we used to hike an hour a day) I decided I needed to radically change her diet. Something had to give other than my poor girl’s knees.
My vet recommended Hill’s Science Diet for mobility and metabolism; it had to be special ordered, and was about $40 for 9 lbs. Panda sniffed it and unenthusiastically ate it. It smelled like strongly salted beets. I researched the company and ingredients and was mortified at what I had been feeding her those few days – basically (in my opinion, I could be wrong and the vet had luck with the product) a lot of slaughterhouse, brewery and bakery floor sweepings and other cheap, GMO-laden filler; expensive literal garbage (again, in my opinion) that my dog didn’t even like–talk about insult to injury. I won’t detail the ingredients of that food and the negative reviews I read, (this is already going to be a long post) and I returned it for a refund and started researching better alternatives.
I decided to take the plunge and start making Panda’s food. NOTE (obvious warning is obvious): I am not a vet, but I have talked to my vet about this approach, and she approves, even though she initially recommended the Science Diet. Bioindividuality is as key to animals as it is to humans. What works for some dogs may not work for others due to individual tolerances, sensitivities, allergies, preferences and other factors and conditions. Some dogs can be immediately switched to raw from kibble, and some may be gradually transitioned. Though it isn’t advised to feed both in the same meal. I read some books and many online articles and forum threads and fed her this way for about six weeks, tweaking a few times a week before settling on this formula.
(There’s no delicate way to say this, but the proof is in the poop. If it is too soft and runny, you will need to add more fiber and calcium (or more meaty RAW (never cooked) bones.) If she is straining/constipated, ease up on the bones and calcium and make sure she is getting enough water and probiotics. Carefully monitor your dog for any adverse (or positive!) changes if you switch her food. You will be pleasantly surprised by much smaller and less stinky cleanup duties.)
The two books I found most helpful and highly recommend were Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dog by Carina Beth MacDonald and Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats.
I decided to feed my dog mostly raw because:
I wanted to improve her life and longevity;
Dogs are pretty much wolves and should eat a similar diet of actual food; they didn’t evolve to eat grains or other carbs that comprise most commercial dog food. They certainly didn’t evolve to thrive on a diet made only of bizarre little overly processed pellets;
Her teeth and jaws are designed to tear and chew meat. She has very strong stomach acids and a short digestive system that can easily handle the bacterial load of raw meat;
Her teeth are cleaner, her breath fresher, her coat is glossier, and she has more energy when she eats this way, and she has already lost 5 lbs!;
She LOVES meal time and literally drools on the floor while I am preparing her food and promptly “wolfs” it down;
Grains such as corn, wheat and soy are common allergens and contribute to canine obesity and other health problems (yeasty ears, flaky skin, etc.). And I don’t have to mention how I don’t support GMO products, do I?
Grains are filler and unnecessary. Kibble is cooked, made from low quality ingredients, (including low grade meat) with most of the nutrients, living enzymes and antioxidants cooked out and then replaced by cheap synthetic supplements, along with preservatives, excessive salt, fat stabilizers and artificial colorants. And they eat this every single meal; and
We are admonished that fresh wholesome, varied food is best for us, and that we need to avoid processed food, but then turn around and feed our best friends 100% processed foods for every single meal. Food that has had its living enzymes and many nutrients boiled out of it and replaced by synthetic or cooked ingredients. Food that hasn’t been fresh in months if not years, even if it’s the organic “premium” kibble. It’s still unnatural boiled and baked little dry cookies.
Generally, the concept of feeding raw is to “build a prey animal” for your dog to eat – lots of raw meat, some bones, some organ meat, vegetables and fruit pulverized to simulate partially digested stomach contents of prey animals, and add variety and supplements for a wider range of nutrients or to address your dog’s particular issues.
There are three main components to each meal: Meat or other protein with occasional organ meat and bones (70%), Veggie “soup” (25%) and supplement powder (Panda Powder) and other (5%). The general rule of thumb (depending on your dog’s size, metabolism and activity level) is to feed her 2-3% of her ideal weight per day. For example, Panda should be 65 lbs. 2% of that is 1.3 lbs, I round up to about 1.5 lbs (.75 lbs per meal.) I actually feed her a bit more than this, but her veggie soup and fiber are very low calorie, and I believe it makes her feel fuller for longer.
This process might seem laborious and overwhelming at first, but I promise you once you have all of the ingredients (and containers) and have the rhythm down, you are just assembling meals twice a week. And I certainly eased into it, gradually adding more glass storage containers and different supplements to my pantry as time and money allowed.
Step One: The Protein:
Some raw foodists advocate that 50% of each of your dog’s meals should be raw meaty bones (“RMB” such as chicken backs and wings) but for Panda, this was too much (the proof is in the poop . . .) and I give her RMB just a few times a week, and supplement with calcium to make up for it. Where I live, I can find organic ground chicken pet food and chicken livers in the freezer section. I rotate packages from the freezer to my fridge to thaw every few days. Organ meats like liver and kidney are very nutritious for dogs, but add sparingly as they are quite rich. They should comprise no more than about 5% of her total meal.
For her protein, I usually feed her ground meat and a little bit of organ meat, or occasionally I will substitute the ground meat with a can of salmon (never feed raw salmon) or some sardines, or some soft boiled eggs (including the shells). It is good to have tins of sardines on hand as a treat or backup, and the bones and fish oils are quite beneficial to your pup. You can save money by talking to your local butchers, looking on Craigslist, or hitting up any hunting and farming friends for leftovers and scraps. I buy organic or sustainable when I can.
Obviously, be safe in handling raw meat and use non-porous (stainless steel) bowls for feeding.
Step Two: the Veggie Soup
Dogs can’t directly digest raw vegetables or fruits. Cooking, puréeing and freezing them break down the cell walls to make these foods more bioavailable. Dogs can eat leafy greens, (including dandelion greens and beet and carrot tops) carrots, green beans, squash and sweet potato. Toss healthy trimmings in a freezer bag for your next batch. Avoid onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables and inflammatory nightshades (so no broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers or potatoes.) A little bit of fruit can be added (avoid grapes and raisins).
A cost effective (and low calorie) way to get these veggies into your dog’s food is to make a soup in bulk. I vary the recipe depending on what I have on hand but here is a basic recipe:
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 bag organic baby carrots
1 bag organic frozen cut green beans
1/8 bag organic frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons concentrated chicken broth (or you can make your own, but be mindful to avoid onions and excess salt)
3 quarts water
Put all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and let simmer until the carrots are softened, at least an hour. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup. (When I grow up I will get a Vitamix and just blend everything together without cooking and losing nutrients.) Ladle into mason jars or other containers and freeze most of them once cooled. I make this every 2 weeks or so, defrosting a jar a few days before the fridge jar is used up.
Carina Beth MacDonald’s recipe (she calls it “veggie glop”) includes 1-2 lbs of veggies blended with water, whole raw eggs with shells, a teaspoon of Vitamin C, a tablespoon of black strap molasses, 1/2 cup yogurt and a splash of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar for probiotics. Because I supplement with probiotics, Vitamin C, calcium and other items in my Panda Powder, I do not add these items to my soup. Some people add a little cooked white rice for filler also; this could just be added and boiled with the soup. Panda B (AKA “Sausage Dog” but much less so these days) doesn’t need the extra carbs, trust me.
Step Three: Panda Powder and Other
You can skip this step if you are confident your dog is getting enough nutrients through her varied diet, supplementing as above, in the soup. However, I make a Panda Powder every two weeks or so and add other ingredients to be on the safe side. (Alternatively, you can just start with Dr. Pitcairn’s basic Healthy Powder recipe, found at the bottom of this post.)
Panda Powder: about 3.5 tablespoons per meal/serving for a 65 lb dog
1 cup nutritional (not brewer’s) yeast – (1 TBS per serving)
1 cup dried pumpkin fiber (1 TBS per serving)
5 tablespoons calcium for dogs (1 tsp per lb of food)
5 tablespoons GMO-free lecithin (1 tsp per serving)
5 tablespoons turmeric (1 tsp per serving)
5 tablespoons spirulina or other dog safe green powder (1 tsp per serving)
2.5 tablespoons kelp (1/2 tsp per serving)
1 heaping tablespoon Vitamin C (calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate, not ascorbic acid (1/4 tsp per serving)
1 heaping tablespoon probiotics (1/4 tsp per serving)
Add to a mason jar and shake to mix up and store in the refrigerator.
Other additions: 1 tablespoon of fish oil or coconut oil, (1000 mg per 30 lbs) 1 teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, 200 IU Vitamin E, other supplements such as MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin if she has mobility issues.
(Dr. Pitcairn’s original Healthy Powder recipe: 2 c nutritional yeast, 1 c lecithin granules, 1/4 c kelp powder, 4 TBS Calcium (his book recommends bone meal, but he now recommends some alternatives like Animal Essentials brand and you can substitute with a good blend for dogs of calcium, phosphorus , Vitamin C – 2050-500 mg per 10 lbs (calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate, not ascorbic acid)
So that’s it! Other than making the powder and the soup every 2 weeks or so, (depending on the size of your dog(s) and you can always double up on this to make it a monthly chore) basically twice a week I make 3 days worth (plus the meal she is about to eat, in her bowl) and stack up the containers in the fridge. It just takes a few minutes to add the meat, soup, powder, fish oil and supplements to each container in the assembly line. I add hot water and mix it up right before serving so she has a yummy warm stew every meal without too much added work (or money) on my part!
Like biting into breakfast and love at the same time. Like a McMuffin without the Mc or Muffin. . . Fortuitously for me, my friend Cliff Etzel posted a picture of Paleo Scotch Eggs on his Facebook page the day before I was scrambling (pun intended) to think of something to bring to our next Bite Club event (Paleo Potluck). I pleaded for the recipe, he shared it, and not only was it easy to make, it was a sensation at the potluck! They didn’t last 10 minutes, with the biggest complaint being my not making enough for us to keep eating them. (I apologize for the pictures, I was in a rush to finish before the potluck, but they turned out so delicious, I hope you forgive me.)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage (I used Beeler’s brand)
To make them deviled: enough mayonnaise to mix with the cooked egg yolks, plus mustard, salt, diced pickles, paprika or whatever other spices you want to add. If you want to make homemade mayo (and why wouldn’t you?!) you will also need a lemon, an egg and a cup plus 1/4 cup of a mild oil (I use avocado oil) at room temperature, plus a mason jar and immersion blender.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make your hard boiled eggs and peel them.
Divide the ground sausage into equal portions.
Press out the sausage to a large thin disc onto a silicone baking mat or waxed paper.
Carefully lift the disc of sausage and wrap around each egg, molding and forming it around it and then pinching any thin areas closed until the egg is completely encased in the sausage.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes until sausage is cooked and golden brown. (This baking time is a perfect time to whip up your mayo.)
Cut them in half and you can just eat them like that!
Or, you can take it a step further. To devil the eggs, scoop out the yolks, and mix in mayo, mustard to taste, plus diced pickles or onions or celery for crunch and cayenne or other pepper for heat (optional) and refill the eggs with a spoon, sprinkle with paprika or dill and serve! And watch in awe as they are devoured almost immediately.
Do you love hard (or soft) boiled eggs but dread making them because they are too much of a hassle to peel? Worry no longer because here is THE FOOLPROOF WAY to cook them. The secret is in the steam, which permeates and loosens the shell, making them super easy to peel. And this is a teaser to a yummy Paleo Deviled Scotch egg recipe coming up next!
You will need a steamer basket and however many eggs you want to cook.
Fill your pan with enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer basket. I use a stock pot with steamer insert.
Heat water on high heat until boiling and you see steam.
Reduce heat to medium high and gently place eggs in a single layer in the steamer basket over the pot and cover.
Set your timer. 10 minutes for soft boiled, 12 for medium boiled, 15 for hard boiled. (I prefer 11 minutes for a bright and soft yolk but cook for 12-13 minutes for a deviled egg where I’m scooping out the insides. If your eggs are stacked on top of each other it may take longer. The timing may need some experimentation but personally 11 minutes results in perfect eggs for me.)
While the eggs are steaming, prepare a large bowl with ice water.
When the timer goes off, remove the steamed eggs with a slotted spoon directly into the ice bath to stop the cooking.
When sufficiently cooled after a few minutes, they are ready to peel. I just gently tap the egg all around its surface on the edge of the counter to create fractures all over the surface, then gently roll between my hands to loosen the shell, which then should easily release from the egg. Enjoy! These are great alone obviously, but are also fantastic mashed up with our delicious homemade mayo (with diced pickles or celery or onion) for some egg salad or deviled eggs!
(I think I originally came across this method at Simply Recipes by way of Google)
After a long absence, I’m ready to resume blogging about food! One of the reasons for my hiatus was a nine-month descent into the rabbit hole of genetically engineered crops, of all things. While this gestation helped birth a new awareness (and law) in my community, it left me with some post-partum blues. I felt empty, spent and suddenly without purpose after such an intense experience. I will do my best to articulate why this issue is so important to my community and me, and then move on.
For the sake of context for those who don’t know me: I’m a lawyer who has practiced in multiple jurisdictions for nearly 20 years. I hail from a curious (both inquisitive and strange) pro-science and technology family; I was raised and trained to use logic, analyze options and believe the most rational conclusions, while keeping an open mind to new evidence. I am somewhat cynical and regard benevolent claims from multinational corporations with the same skepticism I have towards anyone else trying to sell me something. (To be fair, I also raise my eyebrows at most religious and New Age metaphysical claims.)
And before anyone cries: “Ah-ha! She’s a lawyer, not a scientist! She must not understand the science behind GMOs and therefore can’t speak credibly about them!” — It’s true I’m no scientist; however, my primary concerns about GMOs do not pertain to the actual technology, but rather to the environmental, legal, political and economic impacts of that technology, particularly as applied to the cultivation of open air genetically engineered crops. And as a lawyer I DO have extensive training in critical thinking, research, and sniffing out bias and credibility issues.
Before the summer of 2013, I didn’t have much concern about genetically modified/engineered organisms (GMOs) and I certainly didn’t give them much thought. If asked about them, I might have shrugged and said something like: “I’m sure the scientists working on this technology are ensuring public safety and that there is a damn good reason for creating these crops, like feeding the world as our global population increases.”
But then Alice met some people and talked to some farmers and researched and then fell right down into that pesky rabbit hole. And became curiouser and curiouser.
I eventually came to realize that as pro-science and technology as I am, I cannot stand for the pervasive and reckless application of a relatively new and untested technology that has such potentially catastrophic consequences for our global food security and health.
For the record, I’m not “anti-GMO.” Or even a “GMFoe”, as cute as that name is. I don’t have an irrational or emotional or cognitive reaction to the technology of genetic engineering itself. It may well be that this technology can save the world.
I concede that there are members of the public who have given the matter little thought, and their full analysis may be summed up as: “GMO=Monsanto=Bad!” I have met some of these people and alas, their heads seem to be as soft as their dear well-meaning hearts.
However, I contend that there are also at least an equal number of people on the other side of the “debate,” (such that it is) who also don’t know much about the actual issues involved, and who have an equally ill-informed, emotional, myopic, knee-jerk reaction, only theirs is more akin to: “GMO=Science=Good!”
If one is truly pro-science, then one must keep an open mind and coolly observe the evidence and rigorously test and question assumptions and be willing to adapt theories based on new (or newly exposed) evidence, correct?
If you are in the “GMO=Science=Good!” camp, (and don’t worry, you’re in good company along with masses of other rational, science-loving people who have, unfortunately, been systematically duped) would you still be in that camp if you were presented with credible evidence that the whole unregulated push to develop and promote GMOs was based on political and economic considerations in the 1980s, was not science-based, and that corporate and government interests have colluded to suppress evidence refuting the safety of GMOs since then? And I know I look good in hats, but not tinfoil ones. I’m not persuaded by conspiracy theories that only exist in my mind or something I read on Natural News; the information (such as funding sources for studies, contributors to campaigns, FDA documents disclosed in lawsuits, etc.) is readily available with just a little digging.
Would you be willing to “follow the money” and track the origin of the majority of pro-GMO studies, articles and stories in the media? What would you think if shown credible evidence that PR companies for large chemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations hire hundreds of “trolls” to search for anti-GMO stories and sites and then relentlessly comment, ridicule, and try to “debunk” the articles? A Monsanto employee recently let slip that the company has an entire department dedicated to debunking. [I imagine it won’t be long before they sniff around here with fake accounts and “happen” to have handy a list of the same 10 talking points copied and pasted all over the Internet. Hi, trolls!] Would you keep an open mind and read a book like Steve Druker’s Altered Genes, Twisted Truth?
I would ask that the “GMO=Monsanto=Bad” camp also keep an equally open mind to the possible human benefits to genetic engineering, should such benefits one day objectively and independently proven.
As I stated, to the extent I gave it any thought at all, I was likely in the “GMO=Science=Good” camp until I actually learned about the real-world negative impacts of open-air cultivation of genetically engineered crops in my community.
From August 2013 until May 2014, I stood shoulder to shoulder with hippie farmers, conventional farmers, business owners, liberal activists, right-wing evangelical Christians, foodies, health practitioners, restaurateurs, parents and other community-minded citizens in Josephine and Jackson Counties in Southern Oregon. At issue were local campaigns to stop the growing of GMO crops in our valleys, with citizen initiatives on the May 2014 county ballots.
The catalyst spurring these local measures was Swiss chemical giant Syngenta planting dozens of secret test plots of their GMO sugar beets all over Southern Oregon, resulting in contamination of non-GMO crops–the light pollen can float for miles through our narrow valleys and cross-pollinate with related crops such as Swiss chard. (Fun fact – GMO crops are banned in Switzerland, so Syngenta must resort to testing and growing their crops in regions (such as the good ole U.S. of A.) lacking such annoying regulations.)
Organic farmers cannot knowingly sell (as “Organic” anyway) produce that has genetic engineering markers, and their consumers do not want to buy that produce. Moreover, because GMOs are patented, organic (along with conventional, non-GMO) farmers are threatened with patent infringement lawsuits if their crops are genetically contaminated. (Side note – am I the only one who finds it strange that chemical corporations are able to patent seeds because of their incredibly unique traits on the one hand, but on the other hand they don’t want foods made with those seeds to be labeled as GMO because they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GMO counterparts? Hmmmm.)
Anyway, during the campaigns in Southern Oregon last year, record amounts of money rolled in from multi-billion dollar, multinational chemical corporations (hiding behind such benevolent sounding PACs such as the “Good Neighbor Farmers”) to bankroll a barrage of print, radio, television and Internet advertising aimed to confuse and scare voters. Notwithstanding that outside corporate influence, both measures passed by a clear majority. (Some of those efforts are currently embroiled in litigation and controversy, but that is a story for another day.)
I will now articulate what GMOs are, what foods they are in, and why this issue was important enough to me to dedicate nine months (unpaid!) of my life to a campaign to stop the open-air growing of GMO crops in my region. [Note – some of the below research was conducted by members of Oregonians For Safe Farms and Families and GMO Free Josephine County volunteers during the campaign, and I have updated and double-checked the sources before publishing. I have made every attempt to verify the truth of what I assert and am open to challenge from objective sources and will update this post from time to time as new information is presented.]
What is a GMO and What Foods are They in?
In a nutshell, a genetically modified organism (“GMO”) is an organism (generally a plant) which has had its DNA directly manipulated in a laboratory environment. It is “genetically engineered” to create qualities not usually germane to the existing species. This can include forcing DNA from one species into another species that would never naturally breed in nature. Cross-species (“transgenic”) genetic manipulation examples include gene-splicing between species, like crossing a virus, bacteria, or even an animal, with a plant, such as combining fish DNA with tomato DNA to create frost-tolerant tomatoes.
There are only a few crops that are genetically engineered, namely alfalfa, corn, soy, sugar, (from sugar beets) canola, papaya, and cotton. However, a staggering 88% – 99% of these few crops grown in the U.S. are GMO. Some zucchini and yellow squash are also GMO, with new crops in the queue for introduction, such as the Simplot potato.
85-95% of processed, packaged foods in the U.S. contain GMO ingredients, mostly in the form of corn, (corn oil, starch, sugar, syrup etc.) soy, sugar and canola. If these ingredients are listed, and are not organic or non-GMO verified, they are almost certainly GMO. For example, if a non-organic ingredient listed on a package just says “sugar” it is likely from GMO sugar beets. “Cane sugar” is not GMO.
You want to go out for Mexican food? 9.8 times out of 10, the chips and tortillas at your neighborhood restaurant are made from GMO corn. They are fried in GMO canola oil. Your margarita is made with mixer containing GMO sugar. And the [GMO sugar] beet goes on . . .
In the U.S., unlike in about 64 other developed countries, GMO ingredients are not required to be labeled, and statewide labeling efforts have thus far failed because of the heavily financed relentless ad campaigns paid for by agribusiness interests.
But humans have been altering plant and animal DNA from time immemorial! Cross-breeding and hybridization, much?
Plants that have been cross-pollinated (traditional hybridization) and animals that have been traditionally bred to achieve specific characteristics are NOT GMO as I am defining it here (genetically engineered in a lab). These untested creations are NOT what our ancestors did, or what responsible farmers do, namely cross-pollinate different varieties of the same plant to help naturally bring forth desirable characteristics. Farmer-tested cross-breeding is not the issue here and anyone bringing this up is trotting out a tired, stale red herring. (Hi again, trolls!)
Why is it so important to have regions where GMO crops are banned?
Refugia describes a region with unique geographic characteristics that can serve as a refuge for habitat and species or is critical for food security. For example, the long narrow fertile valleys surrounded by mountains such as occur in Southwest Oregon serves as one of the last remaining significant regions that can serve as refugia for non-GMO food crops.
Caution dictates that if GMO crops prove to be unsafe, shouldn’t we have regions left on Earth that have not been contaminated with GMO crops and other genetically engineered organisms?
Southwest Oregon is one of the last U.S. regions where crops aren’t widely genetically contaminated. We lead the country in organic and heirloom seed production. Non-genetically engineered, non-pesticide farms and food consumption are increasing here. Why squander our precious heritage for foreign corporate profits, when protecting our heritage costs us nothing?
Farmer, permaculture expert and organic seed exporter Don Tipping eloquently sums up the idea of Refugia, the realities of air-pollinated crops and why we should prioritize the rights of local small-scale family farms over foreign corporate interests – (if you don’t want to read the rest of this post, please take a few minutes and watch this compelling video instead!) here:
Why don’t more regions exercise local control of their agricultural practices?
As local counties and communities nationwide attempt to ban or phase out GMO crops, powerful lobbying forces push through preemptive state legislation, effectively prohibiting local control. We recently witnessed this when Oregon, despite large public outcry, passed Senate Bill 863 as an “emergency” law. The equivalent of a state “Monsanto Protection Act,” that law now prohibits counties and cities within the state from locally banning or regulating GMOs.
This rush to enact preemptive legislation is happening nationwide (and also globally, such as with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)). For example, after a recent rash of earthquakes in Oklahoma, which the state admits were most likely due to natural gas hydraulic fracturing, (“fracking”) the state (instead of rushing to regulate the earthquake-causing fracking) immediately acted to pass statewide preemption legislation stating that local communities are now banned from regulating fracking.
However, citizens nationwide are pushing back and working on community rights efforts.
Come, on, can’t we co-exist? All farmers need to do is stagger their planting time and create enough distance to avoid contamination by cross-pollination, right?
Genetically engineered crops threaten to put local organic farmers out of business. Pollen from genetically engineered crops can and will cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered crops of farms and gardens and genetically contaminate them, resulting in huge economic losses. Companies such as Syngenta have refused to sit down with other farmers to negotiate a pinning system for possible co-existance, and there is no legal requirement that they do so. Moreover, obviously, the wind, pollen and our pollinators such as bees and birds do not recognize property or county lines. Co-existence is not a viable option.
(Putting on tinfoil hat for this paragraph only) – It seems to me that one of the reasons Syngenta, Monsanto and others push for co-existence is that they know that genetic contamination is inevitable in such a system, and how insidious would that be? When GMO and non-GMO crops are grown side-by-side, then, due to holding the patents on the genetically engineered seed (and pollen) this would result in those corporations virtually owning the contaminated crops and controlling the global food supply. Not to mention that such a reality would effectively end the GMO debate as moot. Oops, all crops are now GMOs? #sorrynotsorry. MWAHAHAHAHA. If you haven’t watched the video above of Don speaking about co-existence, again, I highly recommend it.
I’ve heard that the “science is out” on whether genetically engineered foods pose health safety risks, is that true?
Although my opposition to GMOs is mainly based on economic and environmental impacts, not direct health impacts of consuming these products, genetically engineered foods have never been proven safe. The FDA requires no pre-market health safety studies, and the only long term peer-reviewed animal study conducted involving GMO corn sprayed with Monsanto’s Round Up herbicide, found massive tumors, organ failure and premature death in rats. In addition, a growing body of peer-reviewed animal studies have linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, birth defects, high infant mortality rates, fertility problems, and sterility.
The World Health Organization has recently issued a report (based on a Lancet-reported study) declaring glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up, as a “probable carcinogen.” “Round Up Ready” crops are created to endure (and sell) increasing levels of this probable carcinogen. Additionally, some farmers are encouraged to use Round Up to dry out crops (such as wheat) for harvesting. Not to mention the itty bitty fact that consumers can buy and spray Round Up just about ANYWHERE.
Clearly, more independent, long term studies are warranted. Crops engineered to withstand heavy applications of toxic herbicides contain chemical residues that research shows are even more harmful to children that adults.
The United Nations/World Health Organization food standards group has called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods, a standard the U.S. fails to meet. A National Academy of Sciences report states that products of genetic engineering technology “carry the potential for introducing unintended compositional changes that may have adverse effects on human health.”
EVEN IF GMOs are safe for human and animal consumption (which contention I dispute) – what we do know is that this method of agriculture contaminates our local farms and gardens and jeopardizes our soil, water, food and crop integrity. Even if you don’t care about human health or environmental concerns, U.S. GMO crops are increasingly being rejected in world markets, with our farmers footing the bill. These crops don’t make sense in terms of global economic sustainability.
What environmental impacts do GMO crops pose?
Pollen from genetically engineered plants contaminate not only crops, but also wild plants. Experimental bentgrass escaped its test plot and has now invaded natural fields several states away. The implications of this type of uncontrolled alteration of the genome are unknown, but statistically, it is likely to cause severe damage to ecosystems over time.
The agricultural practices required for GE crop production demand high levels of pesticides. GE seeds are coated with neonicotinoids. This insecticide is thought to be responsible for our rapidly declining bee populations and its use is restricted or banned in some Oregon counties. Genetically engineered agriculture damages the soil, compromises pollinators and their habitat, and pollutes water supplies.
Besides polluting the environment with herbicides and pesticides, genetically engineered crops are leading to biodiversity loss and the emergence of “super bugs” and “super weeds” that are threatening millions of acres of farmland, requiring the need for even more dangerous and toxic herbicides.
Genetically engineered crops, and the increasingly heavy load of toxic pesticides they are designed to endure, are endangering numerous critical species, including the honey bee, frogs, birds, fish and the Monarch Butterfly.
And don’t forget our air and water. The island of Molokai in Hawaii has had its air and water quality destroyed by Monsanto’s almost-2000-acre test facility. The same is true worldwide, with many areas around GMO farms reporting horrific bloody skin rashes, an uptick in asthma and toxic pesticides that leach into the groundwater.
Don’t we need GMOs to feed the world? Don’t we need to embrace this modern technology because it is superior to conventional farming methods?
Studies have proven that genetically engineered crops do not lead to greater crop yields. In fact, just the opposite is true. A 2009 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that genetically engineered crops fail to produce higher yields. And a recently released, peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability found that conventional plant breeding, not genetic engineering, is responsible for yield increases in major U.S. crops.
Even a recent report by the US Department of Agriculture states that genetically engineered crops have not increased yields. In fact, in some cases yields for these crops were lower than for their non-genetically engineered counterparts.
The United Nations states emphatically that only small, local, non-genetically engineered farms can feed the world.
EVEN IF there might be occasional higher yields with some genetically engineered crops, I contend we cannot afford the risks to the health of our soil, water, food and crop integrity that accompany this method of agriculture.
And Golden Rice? A person can obtain the same amount (and better quality) Vitamin A from eating one nutrient-dense sweet potato as he or she can get from eating kilos of nutrient poor GMO rice. Without the yearly patent contracts and heavy pesticide and herbicide load accompanying GMO crops. Again, only small, local, non-GMO farms can best feed the world. But local sustainable family farms don’t generate billions of dollars for Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, Simplot, etc. so of course they must be inferior. Right . . .
But don’t genetically engineered crops actually reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides?
Nope. GE crops have dramatically increased the use of herbicides and pesticides. According to a new study by Food and Water Watch, the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest genetically engineered crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased 10-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012” with the overall pesticide use rising by 26 percent from 2001 to 2010.
The report follows another such study by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook recently that found that overall pesticide use increased by 404 million pounds, or about 7%, from 1996 and 2011. The use of genetically engineered crops is now driving up the volume of toxic herbicides needed each year by about 25 percent.
Why else should I be concerned about GMOs?
Some GMO varieties of corn and other crops are engineered to produce their own pesticides and/or to be herbicide-resistant. No amount of soap and water can wash the built-in pesticides off. These crops can cross-pollinate to create chemical-resistant weeds and pests. When we ingest these plants and their derivatives, we are ingesting their pesticide and herbicide-resistant DNA, which is foreign to our body’s digestive and immune systems.
No human health or safety testing has been done on these genetically altered foods.
In May 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine urged all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for everyone and explained that animal studies show that GM food is linked to infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, organ damage, and gastrointestinal problems. They called for a moratorium on GMOs, and mandatory labeling.
Unfortunately, many of the ingredients used in most restaurants are genetically modified. 30,000 different GMOs exist on grocery store shelves (again, mostly because of how many processed foods contain soy, corn, beet sugar and canola derivatives).
What can I do to reduce or eliminate GMOs in my diet and in my community?
Buy Organic. Certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients. Buy products labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients” and avoid at-risk ingredients. Look for the Non GMO Project Verified logo.
GET INFORMED AND INVOLVED! Insist on having a voice and local control of matters impacting your community!
I think that about sums up my concerns about GMOs and why we worked to establish a GMO-free refugia and to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in our region.
This is a food blog, and GMOs impact every aspect of our food supply. And now I finally have a link to refer people to whenever they question my rejection of the assumption that “GMO=Science=Good!”
I have dozens of posts, drafted and photographed (a 4 way mash-up competition to replace mashed potatoes! Awesome pub burger with portabella mushroom caps! Shepherd’s Pie! Bangers and Mash!) but alas, I need to set down the blog until March because I’m studying for the Oregon bar exam. I’d much rather be blogging! Catch you on the other side, my friends 🙂 And wish me luck!
Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter time means comport food time. Time to cozy up to a fire at your local pub (or at home) with a pint and some warm hearty food. You can recreate your favorite pub food recipes with a clean, whole food, Paleo twist. Just a few easy substitutions, a bit of creativity, and . . . Bob’s your uncle. We are starting our Paleo Pub Crawl series with these yummy garlic fries, made with sweet potatoes, which are more nutritious and easier on your blood sugar than regular potatoes. This is an EXCELLENT accompaniment to our Paleo Pub Burger, coming up next.
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into large wedges
2 tablespoons bacon fat or coconut oil, meltedSea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more or less, to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
4 – 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the sweet potatoes into uniform large wedges, then toss with the melted fat, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, until the wedges are evenly coated.
Spread the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet. (If they are too crowded, they might get a bit soggy.)
Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning a few times during baking, until the wedges are done and slightly crispy.
While the wedges are baking, mix together the chopped parsley, minced garlic, and olive oil.
Once the wedges are out of the oven, toss them with the garlic mixture and serve while hot.
Every Thanksgiving, I make cranberry sauce, refining and improving the recipe over the years. But I think I can stop trying to improve it, because I honestly don’t think it gets any better than this! This sauce is tart, sweet (but not overly) and is an amazingly fresh, bright complement to an otherwise heavy meal. Time, sugar and cooking candy the orange peel to take out most of its bite. It is best to make the day before serving, to allow the flavors to blend and mellow.
1 lb organic cranberries, picked over
1/2 cup water
2 oranges – 1 washed, unpeeled, seeded and cut into chunks, 1 for juice and zest3/4 cup coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey (or more, to taste. I ended up using about a cup.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
Cook the cranberries, water, coconut sugar, spices, unpeeled orange chunks and juice from the second orange uncovered over medium heat until most of the berries pop and the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat when it is cooked down and looks like this:
Blend with an immersion blender, right in the pan (or remove to food processor or blender – the goal is keeping it chunky.) Remove and discard any remaining larger orange peel pieces.
Add orange zest and pomegranate seeds and chill in refrigerator at least several hours up to two days before serving. Enjoy!
This is a delicious hearty, smooth soup that is a variation on my Carrot Habanero soup. Perfect for warming you up on a cold evening. The sweetness and tartness of the apple and orange complement the creamy coconut milk and squash beautifully. For folks who don’t like spicy, I have made this soup without the peppers and it is still amazing. It doesn’t last long in my house either way. I love the fried sage garnish described in the wonderful Practical Paleo cookbook. It adds a nice crunchy herbal accent to the soup.
A note about habanero peppers – many people are comfortable handling, cutting and deseeding them, but I like the technique of piercing them several times with a knife to infuse the heat into the soup without the intense burning. Increasing the number of peppers and time cooked will increase the heat. You can start with just one, and scoop it out after it has cooked a fraction of the time, and gradually increase your comfort zone in the future with handling the peppers if they are new to you but you want to experiment with this spicy food. I pierced 3 large habanero peppers for this last batch, sauteed them with the rest of the vegetables, then let them simmer in the slow cooker for about 6 hours with the rest of the soup and I have to tell you it was pretty hot. As in if I had it to do over again, I would have used maybe two and scooped them out after 2 hours. We still gobbled the soup up and took seconds in between sweating a bit and blowing our noses.
You can prepare this in a slow cooker or a Dutch oven or soup pot (if using a slow cooker, just scrape/ladle the veggies into the slow cooker after the deglazing stage, then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.) If you use the slow cooker method, add 2 cups of water as it gets pretty thick. This yields about 6 large servings.
1.5 tablespoon fat (coconut oil, ghee, bacon grease or pasture butter (I used 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/2 tablespoon butter) plus about 1 tablespoon of fat to fry optional sage leaves for garnish
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large, washed, white and pale green parts only)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chopped peeled carrots (about 2 medium)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2-3 stalks)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-3 whole habanero peppers, depending on desired heat (see above note)
1/4 cup dry white wine*
4 cups free range chicken broth (preferably home made)
Juice of one orange
1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounces) reserving a few tablespoons for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves, plus a few leaves extra per serving for frying later for garnish (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
Add leek, butternut squash, carrots, celery, apples and garlic, and sauté 7-10 minutes or until tender and browning.
Stir in the wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. (This is called deglazing the pan. See below for alcohol-free options.)
Pierce the habaneros several times with a knife and add to the pot. (Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker if you are using that.)
Add the chicken stock, orange juice (and if juicing the orange, zest some of the peel) and coconut milk, then add spices, and stir to combine the ingredients.and bring to a boil.
Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes. (Or add 2 cups of water and cook for 6-8 hours on low if using a slow cooker.)
Remove and discard habaneros (see note above).
Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) until smooth.
Ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved coconut milk and fried sage if desired.
* If you are avoiding all alcohol for any reason, (Whole30, anyone?) you can use almost any liquid to deglaze the pan, such as stock and lemon juice or vinegar diluted in water. There are a lot of good alternatives discussed here.
I offered to do a food demo at GMO Free Josephine County Food Integrity Project kickoff event/gala tonight. (Side note – how cool is it that they are celebrating 10 local eateries that are offering GMO Free menu items? Not concerned about GMOs? RESEARCH THAT SHIT, SON! Watch Genetic Roulette and then we’ll talk :D) I figured I would do zucchini “noodles” and cauliflower “rice” because they are such healthy substitutes for the original starchy grains.
But then I panicked – what sauce to use for my zoodles?? A foodie friend came to the rescue and suggested creamy slow roasted tomato sauce with coconut milk. That sounded delicious and guess what? It was! Slow roasting tomatoes with herbs, onions and garlic concentrates the flavors so beautifully. I topped the noodles with the sauce and added some pan fried alpaca sausage a friend gave me from the local Siskiyou Alpaca. Yes they are adorable but also so so tasty! (This recipe was inspired by She Cooks, She Cleans slow roasted tomatoes and vodka sauce.)
2-3 medium zucchinis
8-10 medium tomatoes
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 onion, cut into large chunks
1 bunch fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano and parsley for the roasting, then added fresh basil right before serving
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (13-15 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 pound of sausage (alpaca optional)
1 tablespoon pasture butter or ghee
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (you can cook them lower and slower)
Wash and core the top of the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters and put in a nonreactive dish (glass or stainless steel works well, 10 tomatoes can fill up 2 dishes – you want them in a single layer.)
Peel the garlic cloves, cut the onion and herbs, and toss them with the tomatoes and olive oil until everything is evenly coated in the oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 hours. I cooked for 2 hours, then lowered the temperature to 200 degrees and kept cooking them for another 40 minutes or so. Your house is going to smell fantastic!
Scrape the gooey tomato garlic onion herb mixture into a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and stir until heated. Either put the sauce in a blender or (my preferred method) use an immersion blender right in the pot to make it smooth and creamy.
Make your zucchinis into noodles using a Spiralizer, mandoline or vegetable peeler, and saute them with a bit of the butter, salt and pepper.
Pan fry your sausage in the butter, cut up and serve it on top of the noodles and sauce!
I make this variation of Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) Perfect Roast Chicken recipe all the time, it is so tasty! Mmmmm comfort food. And the best part is how many meals this makes, particularly because once all the meat is off the bones, you will want to throw the carcass (appetizing word, no?) in a slow cooker with about 8 cups of water, the herbs from the roasted chicken, some garlic, onions and carrots and cook on low 6-8 hours. Strain into some big mason jars and you have yourself some free range chicken stock as a base for more meals. Eating Paleo and organic is expensive, y’all; you gotta stretch those dollars!!
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 large bunch fresh sage
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons ghee (or 1/4 stick butter), softened or melted
1 large or 2 small yellow onion, thickly sliced
About a dozen mushrooms, (I used baby bellas) halved
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks (you can also use carrots)
2 tablespoons Coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the onions, mushrooms and sweet potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, coconut oil, and 1/2 of the bunches each of the thyme, sage and rosemary until the vegetables are evenly coated with the oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan.
Remove the chicken giblets and rinse the chicken inside and out. Cut off any excess fat and make sure all pin feathers are off. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the remaining herbs, both halves of the lemon, and all of the garlic. Brush or rub the outside of the chicken with the ghee or butter, and sprinkle again with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables or on a roasting rack above them. (Ina says to tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken . . . I can never find my twine and the chicken is too slippery to handle so whatevs; it still turns out amazing.)
Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes to let the meat rest. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables. Then make your chicken stock! 🙂