Archive for the ‘Healthy & Environmentally Sensitive Food Sources’ Category

A Fast Food Chain Leads

February 16, 2012

In reporting on the American food production system most of the news is bad particularly over the last few years with medical reports connecting red meat to cancer and heart disease and record sediment and nutrient contamination of Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico caused by overuse of fertilizer, short cuts in soil management and a glut of CAFO manure. It is therefore indeed good news reported by the Soil and Water Conservation Society in distributing the Chipotle animated tape featuring Willie Nelson which was aired last week at the Grammy awards showing farmers dismantling their food animal confinement operation. These so called factory farms and the corn feed that  drives them are the single largest source of pollution in the US and a fast food chain is leading the way to healthier food and a healthier environment as well. Kudos to Steve Ells and Chipotle.

Chipotle-Higher Quality Food

December 21, 2011

Chipotle Mexican Grille opened a new fast food restaurant in Easton, Maryland last week. We attempted to eat there on December 20th but the lines were too long. By using organic vegetables and pasture raised meat, locally raised if possible, Chipotle is setting a much higher standard of quality for all restaurants. Steve Ells the founder decided to use pasture raised animal products, after visiting Factory Farms (CAFO’s) in 1999. Another benefit of pasture raised animals is reduction in corn feed production which along with CAFO manure is primarily responsible for the nutrient contamination of every river and estuary East of the Rockies including the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay. Both of these estuaries had near record oxygen dead zones in the summer of 2011. Short cuts in soil management to produce corn have caused the U.S. Corn Belt to lose half its topsoil. Chesapeake Bay had record sediment intrusion in March of 2011. Long-term studies by Harvard University, the National Cancer Institute, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the World Cancer Research Fund cite overconsumption of red meat and process meat, mostly CAFO raised, along with high fructose corn sugar and refined grains as primarily responsible for our epidemics of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Why are lines so long in Easton as well as the restaurants on M street in Washington, DC and in Annapolis? Certainly it is not the ambiance. The tacos and burritos are served on paper plates with plastic utensils and it is bench seating with little or no privacy. Could it be that young people (most of the customers are in their 20’s) are interested in healthier food that is produced in a way that is sensitive to the welfare of animals and restoration of the environment? We went next door to Bob Evans which was half empty. I did have the opportunity to suggest to the manager that he tell ownership of this shift in demand for higher quality food.

The Bazaar Truth

October 29, 2011

Harpers Bazaar Magazine published by Hearst Magazines is a leading women’s fashion magazine. Since being thin is fashionable and compatible with the clothing that they advertise they often feature articles under the heading Bazaar Diet. The article in the November 2011 issue titled “Eat your Way Thin” included many foods to avoid. Foods to eat included: “Organic free range chicken, turkey, and eggs and grass fed beef, bison and lamb. For quality protein avoid mass produced meats. Factory farmed animals are kept in close quarters and fed things they aren’t supposed to eat like corn, soy and hormones. This fattens them up quickly but also makes them sick so they are given antibiotics. When you eat the meat you ingest what they eat” Wendy Schmid the author of the article got most of it right except that the “free range label does not preclude confinement production. A better term is pasture raised for chicken as well as beef and other red meat. She apparently is not aware of recently published long term epidemiology studies by Harvard University and the World Cancer Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research which concludes that many cancers, heart disease, obesity and diabetes are caused by over-consumption of factory farmed beef, pork and processed meat. She is apparently unaware of record oxygen dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay in 2011 caused by nutrient contamination of all Rivers East of the Rockies mostly from corn production and Factory-Farm manure. It is encouraging to see a major publication begin to understand the truth about our failed Industrial Food Production System.

Another Source of Healthy Food

June 19, 2011

The Candle Cafe in New York City announced that Whole Foods would begin marketing some of its frozen entrees in the month of June. These include their famous Seitan Piccata with lemon caper sauce, a ginger- miso stir fry, a spinach ravioli, and a delicious vegan mac and cheese. The Candle Cafe is recognized as one of the finest Vegan restaurants in the Country. Another vegan restaurant recommended by vegan chef Tal Ronan is Horizons in Philadelphia which we  have tried and also recommend.

TALBOT RESTAURANT WEEK

April 3, 2011

We decided to participate in Talbot Restaurant Week to judge not only the taste quality of the food but also whether the raw materials used by the restaurants met minimal health and environmental standards. We are concerned not just because of our health but because we along with these restaurants live in the Choptank watershed. The Choptank is the most nutrient and sediment polluted River in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and it has deteriorated 60% in the last 8 years. Most of the Chesapeake Bay pollution comes from corn based confinement meat and dairy production. We visited 7 restaurants in 7 days. We force rated these seven on the basis of (1) Tasty Food (2) health & environmental sensitive food. And (3) ambiance. The seven restaurants in alphabetical order are Bartlett Pear, Crab Claw, Martinis, Out of the Fire, Oxford Inn, Perry Cabin, and Scossa. We are concerned about pesticide sprays since greens and most vegetables are very vulnerable to these chemicals. Very few of the seven offered organic greens and vegetables. We particularly avoid confinement produced pork, beef, and lamb because of the considerable evidence linking red meat and processed meat to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Most epidemiologic studies point to the total fat, saturated fat and lack of CLA, and omega 3 fatty acids found in corn fed confinement products as the cause, We were very disappointed that none of the restaurants offered pasture raised animal products which most scientists agree minimize these major health and environmental issues. We also cannot discount the mass animal abuse inherent in the production of confinement products. We will not reveal our force rankings unless requested. However one restaurant not the highest ranked in terms of tasty food stood out as clearly more aware of healthy and environmentally sensitive food. Out of the Fire had at least 9 dishes made with organic produce, and antibiotic and hormone free meat ingredients. All seven of these  chefs are obviously very talented. It is a shame that for the most part they are using less than healthy and environmentally sensitive raw materials. Despite the Talbot week special our bills with gratuity averaged more than $75 for lunch and $95 for dinner. Shouldn’t we expect top-notch ingredients in addition to creatively prepared and presented food for these prices?

Healthy Fast Food-A new chain is trying

March 16, 2011

An article about LYFE KITCHEN by Emily Bryson York of the Chicago Tribune cites evidence such as the success of Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Subway as examples of a healthy eating trend. Panera’s focus is only on whole grains versus refined grains an important but of limited scope while Subway has a lot more bad red meat and processed meat than good bread and greens. They also cite the interest in healthy food books, T.V. programs, and hi-end restaurants. This chain has heavy management including MacDonald’s ex-CEO Mike Roberts as its CEO. They have included pasture-raised beef from Niman’s Ranch. They have also brought in a world famous Vegan Chef Tal Ronan to design meatless food. They have the support of Oprah Winfrey who is an important advocate. Their plan is to start in Palo Alto California in August 2011 and quickly become a National chain. We wish them luck. This article does not mention the environmental issues which healthy food begins to address and which along with reduced animal abuse would enhance their message.

 

The Conscious Cook-by Tal Ronnen

February 11, 2011

Tal Ronnen author of “the conscious cook” and most other vegan chefs who are perfecting meatless recipes get involved because of their abhorrence of cutting up animals for food. Most of them I am sure do not realize that modern industrial agriculture does much more than just abuse and ultimately kill animals, (See our animal abuse archive).Huge areas of the Countries land where slopes are not too steep or the land is not too wet have been turned into an ecological desert. The land has been ploughed hedgerow to hedgerow for decades if not centuries to grow corn mostly to feed food animals. It takes 14 times more land to plant corn to feed animals, and then eat the animals, as it does to consume plant food directly. The result is that wildlife cannot exist in vast areas of the Country. Also shortcuts in soil management have squandered our topsoil. Farmer and Soil Scientist Francis Thicke who operates a pastured dairy farm in Iowa estimates that Iowa has lost half its topsoil since industrial agriculture began. Excess fertilizer and tons of animal manure have been washed downstream destroying not only the Nations Rivers but also estuaries like the Gulf and Chesapeake Bay. Now we know that industrial methods used to fatten the animals in half the normal growing time creates a tender but extremely fat animal product. Testing at the U. of Colorado indicates that factory-produced hamburger has 7 times more saturated fat than pasture raised hamburger. In 2010 three cancer groups released studies that pointed to red meat (beef,pork,lamb,goat) and dairy as the primary cause of many cancers. Harvard University released studies that tied heart disease, diabetes and stroke to red meat consumption Tal Ronnen’s book “the conscious chef” in addition to its fine recipes also lists 8 upscale and 5 casual vegan restaurants. We are about to make our 3rd visit to Horizons in Philadelphia. We have had an evaluation “best in the west” of Millennium in SanFrancisco. We now know that Vegan food can be a superior eating experience much superior to conventional food. In addition the obvious health and environmental benefits make it our food of choice. We are now completely vegetarians but still eat eggs, and fish which makes us not quite vegan.

A LOOK BACK-Conclusions After 12 Years

February 8, 2011

I recently prepared a presentation for 2 scientists involved with land preservation. This gave me an opportunity to reflect on our overall effort since we started Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary (TLF&NS) in the late 1990’s. In 2000 we did a presentation of our then new Master Plan to a group of scientists and environmentalist at TLF&NS.  Our landscape Architect did a presentation in which he characterized the existing site as an ecological desert. His new plan proposed surrounding the farm fields with warm season grasses and trees, installing retention ponds, and creating sunny and shady walkways. This resulted in a site that had reduced farming area of about 70%. He also made the point that the site would be esthetically pleasing and would encourage neighbors to follow this example resulting in cleaner water for our Creek. A leading agronomist in attendance was upset by the Architect’s characterization of the existing land which obviously applies to most of the farming areas in the Country including the great mid-west. Later when we founded our website, the same agronomist also commented on our paper America’s Failed Food Production System and asked “How are we to feed a growing population if we returned to the agriculture practiced when I was a kid”? I must admit that I thought he had a point, which was reinforced by other agronomist including the head of agronomy at the University of Nebraska. The two sides of the argument seemed to be: ” do we feed a growing population or preserve our soil water and wildlife assets?” Certainly this presents a difficult choice.

Events and science have overtaken this argument and now the choice is completely different and very clear. We now know that it takes *14 times more land to plant grain to feed animals and then eat the animals than it does to eat the plant food directly. We have enough land to feed a growing population for centuries if the people ate mostly plant food plus a modest amount of pasture raised animals. Further we now know that most of the corn based factory produced meat particularly the beef, pork and lamb and also the dairy products are dangerous to our health and indeed are the primary cause of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. We also know that vegan chefs have been at work for years producing very exciting food without using animals and that the vast majority of Americans have not tasted this food. (see our posts on Horizons and Chopotle)

I must admit that I originally thought that our Architect went too far in the direction of support for environmental and esthetic concerns. His plan is now consistent with specific recommendations for a diet primarily of plant food recommended by the World Cancer Fund and reinforced by the Harvard studies on heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately he died of cancer before these studies were published.

*Get Healthy Now by Gary Null

America’s Largest Problems-State of the Union

January 25, 2011

Thoughts before the State of the Union address:

On the eve of the State of the Union address, it is time to focus on the biggest problems facing the Country. Certainly on the list is healthcare cost. But will it be  mentioned in context with the American red meat and sugar based diet. Certainly the President with access to the Countries knowledge base is familiar with the World Cancer Study and the Harvard Nurses Health study recently published which connect the American red meat diet to these diseases. Certainly the President and his wife are aware that sugar and obesity are connected. Certainly the President is aware that corn is the common denominator between these products. But the President is also aware that Iowa is not yet ready to renounce corn and that Francis Thicke’s new vision for Iowa agriculture lost the recent election for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. But Francis got a surprising 38% of the vote. Al Gore recently admitted that Corn Ethanol is a bad idea but that he had to support it to win in Iowa. We know that the President’s focus is on the 2012 elections and once again because  Iowa will be among those casting the first vote it will be very hard for him to face America’ largest problem, CORN. If he does he deserves our support.

Comments after the speech

I conclude that he doesn’t have a clue about our food system disaster. He has mentioned that  living in the White White House is like living in a bubble but he does have a Secretary of Health and Welfare. I wonder if she is as clueless?

 

 

Is Modern Chemical Agriculture Destroying Itself

January 22, 2011

Evidence presented by The Institute of Responsible Technology of prematurely dying corn and soybean crops during 2009 and 2010 indicate that this might be true. According to plant pathologist Don Huber who has studied Glyphosate a widely used chemical which is the heart of modern corn based agriculture, premature death of corn and soybean crops is increasing, resulting in dramatically lower yields. Monsanto and other Chemical companies have developed corn and soybean hybrids that can survive glyphosate spraying while weeds will not survive this spraying. The spraying can be seen when the corn is several feet high in early June when huge 90-foot sprayers take to the fields. Glyphosate ready crops were first introduced by Monsanto, who produces the glyphosate Roundup, in 1996 and have been the basis of Industrial agriculture Nationwide since that time. Monsanto is continuing to develop other Roundup ready crops. The latest is Roundup Ready Alfalpha, which organic farmers are fighting on the basis that the overspray is affecting all crops. There is also evidence that glyphosate is causing over 40 plant diseases and endangering human and animal health. As with any chemical widely introduced into the environment adverse effects will take decades to show up. The classic is the chemical DDT which destroyed fish hawk reproduction in the 70’s and while banned since the mid-70”s still shows up in aquifer water.