The Dirty Secret Behind Organic Strawberries: Starter Plants Are Fumigated With Pesticides!

Strawberry FieldsHave you been buying organic strawberries, like I have, to avoid the pesticides used on conventional strawberries?

I was surprised when I read reports about a recent study proposing a better solution to the problem of strawberry diseases because they mentioned that even organic strawberry “starts” were fumigated with pesticides.  What?  How could that be?

Yes, if you thought organic strawberries were never treated with conventional chemicals, think again!  Most of our mass-produced organic strawberries (California produces 90% of US strawberries) are grown from “starts” that were fumigated with many toxic pesticides.

Apparently all large California strawberry growers, including organic ones, use starter plants from commercial-scale conventional nurseries in northern California.

Due to an exception to the regulations for organic farming, these strawberry growers are allowed to buy “starts” from conventional nurseries if organic stock is not “commercially available.” With this loophole in place since 2002, large growers would not buy from the only organic nursery, and it finally went out of business in 2009.  Unless organic growers are required to buy organic starts, there will be no organic nurseries for strawberries.

For several years, I have bought only organic strawberries to avoid the pesticides used heavily on them, partly because The Environmental Working Group lists conventional strawberries among the dirtiest produce in its Shopper’s Guide (2014 Guide).  The EWG tests vegetables and fruits to determine those that are most and least contaminated.  Apples and strawberries top this year’s list of the “Dirty Dozen Plus” as having the most pesticide residues.  The 2014 report says that conventional strawberry samples were contaminated with 13 different pesticides.

Large Strawberry Fields in California

Photo: Sam Hodgson for CIR

Even with a conventional start, I do know that organic strawberries will be far less contaminated than conventional strawberries because at least after the final planting, those pesticides are not allowed.

The Pesticide Action Network lists 50 pesticides used on California strawberries, so, yes, I will continue to buy only organic strawberries, although maybe not as often as before.  Our best hope is that better methods of disease control can be found, as in the study which prompted my interest.

Wouldn’t it be better for all of us, especially our children, if we could buy real, truly organic strawberries?  I haven’t been able to find local, organic strawberries, but if you’re lucky enough to have access to them, they would be the best choice.  Fresh ripe strawberries are super delicious!


Even organic strawberries are grown with dangerous pesticides
Berry toxic: Decoding the organic strawberry debacle
Organic Strawberries? Not So Much
Even Organic Strawberries Are Grown With Toxic Fumigants
EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides In Produce
California poised to approve deadly pesticide for strawberry crop
California’s strawberry industry is hooked on dangerous pesticides
Pesticide Use on Strawberries in 2012
Study: Integrated soil-borne disease and weed management for organic strawberries using anaerobic soil disinfestation, broccoli residue incorporation and mustard cake application

Strawberry photo credit: Shutterstock

Posted in Health, Organic Food, Real Food, Research | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Have a Chronic Disease–Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer, Autism, and more? Glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup) just might be the cause!

Farmer spraying crops
Do you (or a family member or friend) have one or more of these chronic diseases?

Hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, senile dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, or cancer of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas kidney, and myeloid leukemia.

A new study has uncovered a very strong correlation between the increased use of the herbicide glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup) and the growing incidence of all of these diseases.  The correlation indicators or p-values (Pearson’s correlation coefficients) for all of the correlations of these diseases with glyphosate use are between .875 and .978.

What is a p-value?

The p-values calculated in this study are very significant!  I looked up the explanation of p-values because I wanted to be sure I understood what the correlation p-values mean in this study..

Here is how Wikipedia defines p-value:

“The correlation coefficient [p-value] ranges from −1 to 1. A value of 1 implies that a linear equation describes the relationship between X and Y perfectly, with all data points lying on a line for which Y increases as X increases. A value of −1 implies that all data points lie on a line for which Y decreases as X increases. A value of 0 implies that there is no linear correlation between the variables.” [source]

Since all of the p-values for these correlations are .875 and up (approaching the perfect correlation value of 1) the likelihood of correlation between glyphosate use and the incidence of the disease is very high.

Correlation of Diabetes and Use of Glyphosate

I’ve chosen just one of the many charts in the study to show you how phenomenal the correlations are.  This chart illustrates the strong correlation between the prevalence of diabetes in the US and the amount of glyphosate (in tons) applied to corn and soy.  I find two trends in the chart to be fascinating.  First, notice the slow but steady increase in incidence of diabetes between 1980 and 1994.  Then take a look at the dramatic and steep rise in the incidence of diabetes and the equally steep increase in percentage of GE (also called GMO) crops and application of glyphosate beginning in the mid 1990’s after GE crops were introduced.

Graph showing correlation between glyphosate use and incidence of diabetes

Figure 15. correlation between age-adjusted diabetes prevalence and glyphosate applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE. [chart source, Journal of Organic Systems, p. 22]

The study gathered GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data from US government databases and performed correlation analyses.

These data show very strong and highly significant correlations between the increasing use of glyphosate, GE crop growth and the increase in a multitude of diseases. Many of the graphs show sudden increases in the rates of diseases in the mid-1990s that coincide with the commercial production of GE crops. The large increase in glyphosate use in the US is mostly due to the increase in glyphosate-resistant GE crops.

Although glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) was introduced in 1974, its use began increasing dramatically when genetically engineered (GMO) crops were approved and planted, since many GMO crops are Roundup-Ready (engineered to be resistant to glyphosate-containing Roundup). [source]

As the researchers concluded, “Although correlation does not necessarily mean causation, when correlation coefficients of over 0.95 (with p-value significance levels less than 0.00001) are calculated for a list of diseases that can be directly linked to glyphosate, via its known biological effects, it would be imprudent not to consider causation as a plausible explanation.” [source] [emphasis added]

The authors allow that these diseases probably do not have a single cause “as there are many toxic substances and pathogens that can contribute to chronic disease.  However, no toxic substance has increased in ubiquity in the last 20 years as glyphosate has. The disruption by glyphosate of the detoxification pathways in the human body can intensify the effect of other toxic chemicals. . . . Another critical issue is that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and it has been argued that there are no safe levels of endocrine disruptors (Vandenberg et al., 2012; Bergman et al., 2013). This would imply that the current permitted residue levels in food could be causing multiple health problems that have been documented in the scientific literature to be caused by endocrine disrupting chemicals” [source] [emphasis added]

The number of studies that show the dangers of glyphosate is growing.  How long will it take before we say NO to glyphosate, Roundup, and the GE crops they are sprayed on?

What can we do?

Our options are more limited in the US than in Europe and other parts of the world because we don’t label our foods so that we can know what poisons are in them.  We can avoid much of the glyphosate, and other toxins and poisons, by always buying organic foods or, even better, by knowing the sources of our food, by knowing our farmers, and through learning how the crops are grown.

My first choice is to know the people who grow or provide my food, and, in many cases I do.  I buy milk from Healthyway Dairy.  I buy grassfed beef from Law Ranch Cattle Company.  I buy vegetables, fruits, and yard eggs at my local farmers market.  What I can’t buy locally, I buy organic whenever possible, even if I have to order online, and I can find organic choices most of the time. See my resource page for online sources of healthy food, and, for Houston area sources, go to the Local Food & Milk page of the Houston-Galveston chapter of the WAPF.

There isn’t really any such thing as cheap food!  If you think there is, read We Simply Can’t Avoid the True Cost of Cheap Food!  We all will pay one way or the other–we can pay the price of good quality food now or we will pay the health care cost later (along with the pain and debilitation of poor health).


Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America, Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet, Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
Values of the Pearson Correlation

You might also want to read:

Glyphosate is already in our food, air, and water: What is it and why should we care?
Is Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) Used On Wheat?
What Does Genetically Engineered (or GMO) Mean?
Are We Sacrificing Our Children to Profits From Glyphosate (Roundup) and Roundup-Ready GE Crops?

Posted in Cancer, Diabetes, Food Rights, Food Safety, GMOs, Health, Organic Food, Pesticides, Poisons, Research | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Women Find It Harder to Lose Weight Than Men! What We Can Do About It!

Man-sized steak and veggiesWomen always seem to have more trouble losing weight than men!  I certainly find that to be true!  Several years ago, when I switched to a Real Food diet following the dietary guidelines of the Weston A. Price Foundation, I became much healthier.  I had more energy, didn’t get sick as often, and I just generally felt better!

However, I wasn’t so happy that, along with that better health, I also saw a slow weight gain.  I avoided junk food but I had gained almost 10 pounds.  That may not seem like much to some of you, but all those pounds were gained while eating a Real Food diet.  I thought that couldn’t happen!

The good news for me is that I have found a way that works to keep my weight where I want it and without harming my health.  What motivated me to write about it right now was a presentation I attended at the recent Wise Traditions Conference in Indianapolis.  It completely validated what I have done and helps me understand why it works.

Konstantin MonastyrskyKonstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace and of the website Gut Sense, presented “The Art of Eating without Harm”  at the conference, and a part of that topic was a superb discussion of “Why One Calorie For Her May be Half a Calorie for Him.”  For me, it answered the question of why women find it easier than men to gain weight and find it harder to lose it.

Why was this important to me?

Well, earlier this year, I got really tired of the amount of weight I had gained, ans was still gaining.  Even my larger size clothes were becoming uncomfortable, so I decided to try some new methods.  Notice that I didn’t say new diets!  I totally believe in my traditional, Real Food diet.  I eat the right foods.  They are healthy and nutritious and keep me well.  However, I had heard so many times that when eating only real foods, I didn’t need to count calories, or even count carbs!  But that wasn’t working for me.

At first, I tried reducing the period of daily eating to eight hours or less, similar to the intermittent fasting recommended by Dr. Mercola and Paul Jaminet of The Perfect Health Diet.  I didn’t make any other changes to my diet; I was eating about the same amount of food, real food, just during a reduced time window.

After a few weeks, I could tell it wasn’t working–I wasn’t losing weight.  By October, I decided I needed to do something else.  It occurred to me (why did it take so long since it’s just common sense?) that if I was eating a healthy diet and still gaining weight (or at least not losing weight) that I must be eating too much food!  So, although I didn’t start counting calories or eliminating types of foods, I did begin to watch my portion size.  I also continued with eating a minimal breakfast of bone broth and maybe herbal tea or decaf coffee with cream.

Specifically, I decided that I needed to eat only about half as much food as my husband does.  He is about 6 inches taller than I and much more active, where I am a postmenopausal woman who exercises daily but not strenuously and spends a lot of time at my computer writing posts like this one. I can’t need as much food as he does!

Have you noticed that restaurants never have different sizes of meals?  I always get served just as much food as my husband!  And that’s probably twice as much as I need. [See that man-sized steak and veggies, plus a big pile of mashed potatoes, in the photo!  It’s twice what I need at one meal.] Not just at restaurants, but at home too, I would use the same size plate as my husband.  Clearly, that wasn’t working.  I started using a smaller plate (or bowl), usually a salad size plate, to help define my meal portions.

It worked!  I began to lose the weight I had gradually gained over the years.  It’s common sense after all.  I don’t need as much food as my husband to maintain my proper body weight!  I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose.  I hadn’t been overweight before changing my diet and had gained weight slowly.  I have now lost the amount I had gained, about 8 to 10 pounds, and that is enough.  I don’t want to be too thin.  A little extra fat at my age provides a source of some additional female hormones.  For maintenance, I won’t return to eating as much as I did before, and I will monitor my weight occasionally to be sure I don’t continue to lose or begin to gain again.

The number of pounds I lost may not seem important compared to what many people experience with our obesity epidemic today, but the majority (not all) of truly obese people gain weight from eating the wrong foods not from eating too much food.  There are also other environmental causes for weight gain, such as BPA and hormone-laden meat and milk, but that’s too big a topic to include here.

I don’t think that eating less of the wrong foods would have worked at all!  What worked for me is eating a nutritious, Real Food diet with plenty of fat and protein to keep me from getting hungry before time for the next meal.  Hunger is one of our bodies’ warning systems.  It’s trying to tell us that our bodies need nutrients!  We shouldn’t ignore hunger.  We should try to figure out what we’re missing from our food.  It may not be amount of food, it may be specific nutrients.

WAPF Conference FoodIn early November, while I was looking forward to the conference in Indianapolis, I was somewhat worried that my new-found success would be sabotaged by the delicious food that is always served at a Wise Traditions conference.  However, my new guideline of watching portion size worked there just as well as at home.  Since most of the conference meals are buffet style, I stuck to filling only about half of my too-large plate so that I would not waste food.  I got some of almost everything, just not too much.  As I said earlier, I didn’t cut out any “types” of food, I just ate less Real Food.  I was glad I could enjoy the food without gaining any weight at the conference.  [The photo at right was taken at the Atlanta conference in 2013–it’s the way I used to fill my plate.]

Well, finally we get to the real nitty-gritty of this post.  Why is it so much harder for women to lose weight than men?

These are some of the reasons Konstantin Monastyrsky gave to answer why women have more problems with weight than men.  I can surely relate to many of them!  It’s both easier to gain weight and harder to lose it for women.

  • Women naturally have a higher fat mass than men.  It’s necessary for supporting them during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women gain weight faster on similar amounts of food.
  • Women usually have less muscle mass than men and need less glucose; however, low carb diets may not be appropriate for women, especially older women, because they can accelerate muscle wasting.
  • Then there’s the thermos effect.  Fat is insulation from cold.  Women often feel cold more than men do.
  • Women are usually shorter than men.  Smaller people don’t need as much fuel; therefore, they need to eat smaller portions.
  • There’s an innate response to reduced calorie input that can make eating less ineffective.  Especially, as I mentioned above, if the diet is nutrient-empty.
  • Monastyrsky said that low-carb diets are counter productive for women and can cause almost instant rebound and obesity.
  • Women and men often have widely differing energy requirements.  Lifestyle dictates requirements.
  • Older women (that’s me) tend to gain more weight to produce more female hormones after menopausal.  The tendency to gain weight can be hard to overcome.
  • There is one time when reducing carb intake can help women lost weight–when they are ovulating and menstruating.
  • Overeating junk food stimulates hunger and cravings more than eating real food. [Probably because they are empty of nutrients.]
  • Weight gain during pregnancy and breastfeeding is normal to prevent slowdown of the metabolic rate and to conserve energy.
  • There are also anthropological reasons why women gain weight. Women living in temperate climates tend to gain weight during warm periods to prepare for expected winter scarcity.  He said that our modern lifestyle of cool, air-conditioned homes and offices sends the signal to our bodies to gain weight as if preparing for winter.  Don’t overdo air conditioning.
  • When eating out, portions for women are the same size as for men. Ask the waiter to cut the serving in half or do it yourself and take the rest home. Monastyrsky said that asking for a smaller portion “isn’t embarrassing but rather a sign of class and wealth.”
  • Women tend to try many more diets than men which can lead to “Chronic Dieter Syndrome.” Each dieting cycle reduces the metabolic rate and increases fat stores. Incorrect dieting is counter productive. He also compared a diet to a course of antibiotics–we need the full course, the complete diet, otherwise we create diet-resistance.
  • Food preparation stimulates the appetite, and women are more likely to prepare the family’s food.

His reasons why women tend to gain weight more easily than men make a lot of sense to me, and they also give us clues about what we can do about it.

I think I’ve found my solution (time will tell)–eating smaller, more reasonable portions of nutritious, Real Foods.  If you have found a solution that works for you, let us know in the comments.  Your method might help someone else.

I certainly hope you find what works for you and without harming your health and well-being!

You might also want to read:

How to get started with a Traditional, Real Food diet
Why eating fat doesn’t make you fat!
Why I do what I do!

NOTE:  I am not a health professional.  Read my Disclaimer.

Photo credit: cobraphotography/Shutterstock

Posted in Diet, Health, Low Carbohydrate, Nutrition, Real Food, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) Used On Wheat?

ripe wheat stalks
Yesterday [November 13, 2014] I posted an article on Facebook that said many people’s issues with wheat digestion may be due to the poison sprayed on the crop rather than to true gluten intolerance.

The post got quite a few views very quickly.  It seems that many people are concerned about gluten intolerance and poisoned food crops.  The article’s claim is that glyphosate (an active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) is used on wheat crops and may be a cause of digestive issues mistakenly attributed to gluten intolerance.  Two of the comments to my Facebook post caught my attention and prompted me to take a more careful look at the article’s claims.  Is glyphosate actually used on wheat crops in the U.S. and could it be causing digestive problems?

One reader said: “Not sure where this info comes from, but I know of no farmers who do this and selling to farmers is our business..”

Another reader re-posted a longer comment (from the original article), of which I will quote only part: “Yes, we are finding this article to be very *interesting* as our family has been wheat/cattle ranchers for…generations. And we’ve never heard of anyone doing this and we ourselves sure don’t. . . .

These comments and others to the original article seem to imply that using glyphosate on wheat is an uncommon or nonexistent practice.  I thought the comments deserved to be investigated.  If I had posted an article that was incorrect, I wanted to know!

As usual, I did a Google search on the topic of glyphosate application to wheat crops.  I found lots of support for the fact that applying glyphosate to wheat is common and has been widely used for the last 15 to 20 years.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a professor at MIT, says in a quotation from the  [this is a long quotation, but it has useful information that explains how glyphosate used on wheat could cause digestive–and immune system–issues]:

The use of glyphosate on wheat crops has risen in tandem with the rise in celiac disease. In fact, it correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on corn and soy.

According to Dr. Seneff, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago. Interestingly enough, when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds. “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies,” Dr. Seneff explains. “At its last gasp, it releases the seed.”

This results in slightly greater yield, and the glyphosate also kills rye grass, a major weed problem for wheat growers that is resistant to many other herbicides. What they’re not taking into consideration is the fact that rye grass helps rebalance the soil, and from that perspective is a beneficial plant.

So, most of the non-organic wheat supply is now contaminated with glyphosate. A large percentage of processed foods are made from wheat, and this helps explain the explosion of celiac disease and other gut dysfunction.

What happens is that the villi in your gut get destroyed by the glyphosate, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Also, wheat contains gliadin, which is difficult to break down. Normally, a reaction takes place that builds connections between different proteins in the wheat.

But glyphosate gets right in the middle of that process too, resulting in wheat that is highly indigestible. Dr. Seneff and her co-researcher Dr. Anthony Samsel believe the glyphosate may attach to the gliadin as a consequence of a chemical reaction. The end result is that your body develops an immune reaction. [source] [study]

A long-time wheat farmer had this to say about glyphosate use:

Keith Lewis, a wheat farmer, left this insightful comment about modern wheat growing practices:

. . .

I have been a wheat farmer for 50 yrs and one wheat production practice that is very common is applying the herbicide Roundup (glyposate) [sic] just prior to harvest. Roundup is licensed for preharvest weed control. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup claims that application to plants at over 30% kernel moisture result in roundup uptake by the plant into the kernels. Farmers like this practice because Roundup kills the wheat plant allowing an earlier harvest.

A wheat field often ripens unevenly, thus applying Roundup preharvest evens up the greener parts of the field with the more mature. The result is on the less mature areas Roundup is translocated into the kernels and eventually harvested as such.

This practice is not licensed. Farmers mistakenly call it “dessication.” Consumers eating products made from wheat flour are undoubtedly consuming minute amounts of Roundup. [source]

The article “Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery,” says that “Glyphosate is used not only on Roundup Ready crops, but also on glyphosate-sensitive sugar cane and wheat shortly before harvest, when it acts as a dessicant. It’s also used as a dessicant on Roundup Ready sugar beets, canola, and cottonseed for oils, among others.”  That same article also reminds us that “Glyphosate is systemic in plants, so it cannot be washed off. If it’s used on a crop, it will be in the food produced from it. All the soy, sugar, cotton, and corn that ends up in packaged foods is carrying glyphosate into our bodies.”

The manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, recommends its use on wheat crops to reduce weeds and provides detailed guidelines on when and how to apply it.  Page 32 of the guide has a chart for application of Roundup to crops, including wheat.  Although Monsanto says that Roundup is not a “dessicant,” it does give instructions on how to gain “significant harvest management benefits” from the use of it.

This is the page (36) from Monsanto’s guidelines that defines the benefits of using Roundup on wheat as a harvest management technique: [source]  (click on the picture for a larger image)

Monsanto's Guide to Roundup Use on Wheat

You can do your own Google search and find much more information about using Roundup on wheat crops, but my research supports the claim that Roundup (glyphosate) is commonly used on wheat crops and not just on GMO Roundup Ready crops and that there is evidence that it adversely affects our digestive system.

I see two ways we can avoid glyphosate in wheat–eat only organic wheat and/or know the farmer (and his farming practices) that supplies your wheat.

Update May 17, 2015: I found this very interesting map depicting the distribution of glyphosate use in the US. Although it is not limited to wheat, the map does indicate where glyphosate is heavily used. [source: Source: USGS, Pesticide National Synthesis Project]

Glyphosate use in the US

You might also want to read these related posts:

Glyphosate is already in our food, air, and water: What is it and why should we care?
Are We Sacrificing Our Children to Profits From Glyphosate (Roundup) and Roundup-Ready GE Crops?
Study finds significant new evidence that GMOs can cause harm
What Does Genetically Engineered (or GMO) Mean?

Posted in Digestion, Food Safety, Gluten-free, GMOs, Health, Organic Food, Sustainable Farming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Back on Track–Recharged and Ready to Go After the 2014 Wise Traditions Conference

Sally Fallon Morell at the 2014 Wise Traditions ConferenceI just got back yesterday from the 2014 Wise Traditions Conference in Indianapolis, and I can’t begin to describe how encouraged and recharged I am.

Do your co-workers treat you as if you’re crazy because you want to eat healthy food?  Does your family pressure you to eat junk food by saying “one piece of cake won’t kill you?” It can be very difficult to ignore the pressure and stick to your healthy diet. My husband completely supports my choice of the nourishing food I want to prepare and eat, but many, maybe most people are not so lucky.

One of the qualities I enjoy most about a WAPF conference is that I know I’m among friends, family, and, as my husband says, it’s my tribe!  For the few days of the conference, we listen to talks; eat delicious, nutrient-dense meals; and meet new and old friends, I have the wonderful feeling of being completely accepted.  Almost everyone agrees with my health and nutrition principles.  I don’t have to apologize for (or explain) my weird diet!  And I never have to make excuses for refusing foods that are unhealthy!  In fact, those kinds of junk foods aren’t served at conference meals! They serve fermented veggies, pastured meats, sourdough bread, fresh veggies and fruits, and lots and lots of butter!

You know it’s a great conference when you can buy a cup of bone broth or kombucha from several vendors!  I didn’t miss a day having both!

Everyone at WAPF conferences understands!  Wow, what a comfort!  What a joy!

And, of course, I got my batteries recharged.  I’m now ready to get back to writing the stories I want to post and reach more people with the good news that many health problems can be overcome, or at least significantly improved, by adopting sensible, traditional dietary principles.

I learned so much that I will probably be writing for several weeks about the topics that I found so fascinating.

Chis Masterjohn Talks About the MaasaiSome of the subjects I will write about are why it is so important to Go Organic, the need for sulfur in the diet, the prevalent magnesium deficiency, why we need to do our own health research, do we need to drink a gallon or two of water a day, the importance of fiber to health, the glyphosate plague, unnatural GMOs, vegetarianism, sustainable farming, what the Maasai really ate, and much, more.

Keep watching for new posts.  Did you go to the conference?  What did you like (or not) about it?

Posts about the 2014 Wise Traditions Conference:

Why Women Find It Harder to Lose Weight Than Men!

You might also want to read my post about how I came to join the WAPF, start a chapter, and begin my blog, Real Food Houston, Why I do what I do!

Posted in Access to Real Food, Conferences, Diet, Dr. Weston A. Price, Events, Health, Healthy Fats, Nutrition, Real Food, Traditional Food, WAPF Conference | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nourishing Our Children – Learn How to Help Your Family to be Healthier and Better Nourished

Houston Real Food Nutrition will present the Nourishing Our Children video series on October 18th at 3 pm.  There will be refreshments about midway through the series and plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Let’s help our children (and ourselves) to be healthier!  Come to the meeting to learn to distinguish between Real Food and food-like substances.  Join us for an enjoyable and educational session.


The series includes 12 sections plus an introduction.

1.   Dr. Price’s Research
2.   Malnourished
3.   Nutritional Principles
4.   Vitamins A and D
5.   Traditional Fats an Oils
6.   Milk
7.   The Ploy of Soy
8.   Water
9.   Excitotoxins and Extrusion
10. Healthy Meals
11. Motivation and First Steps
12. Community Resources

For location, directions, and to RSVP, go to Houston Real Food Nutrition, Nourishing Our Children.

Houston WAPF chapter leaders Carolyn Biggerstaff, Brice Biggerstaff, and Gina Malewicz are hosting this presentation.

Posted in Babies, Dairy, Diet, Dr. Weston A. Price, Eggs, Fats, Fluoride, Health, Houston Real Food Nutrition, Nutrition, Raw Milk, Real Food, Soy, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the number one superfood? Can the NuVal nutrition score help us find healthy foods?

Liver with onionsWouldn’t it be great if we could glance at a food on the grocery shelves and know how nutritious it was?  We could then spend our food budget on those foods that would give us the most benefit.  There is a new system that claims to help us do just that, but does it?

Recently @NuValTexas followed @RealFoodHouston on Twitter.  I hadn’t heard of NuVal before, but I was curious because their Twitter site claimed it was “dedicated to building a better #Texas.”  When someone new follows you don’t you look to see who they are and what they are saying?

NuVal, which calls itself Easy Texas Nutrition on Twitter, says “With NuVal nutrition scores, you can quickly, easily compare brands as you shop and buy better nutrition choices.”  Sounds great, doesn’t it!  We all know that most people need help determining which foods are more nutritious to get better value for their food dollar.

I wanted to know If NuVal delivers on its promise.

According to NuVal’s website, their system “scores food on a scale of 1-100. The higher the NuVal Score, the better the nutrition.”  They use a “sophisticated scientific algorithm” to calculate the socres. [source]

Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it!  How convenient!  How helpful!  They plan to have the NuVal nutrition score posted on grocery store shelves by each item.  Kroger, as a pilot project, is the only name I recognize on their list of grocery chains that use the NuVal system, but they say more will be added in the next year.

How does NuVal calculate its ratings?  The website says that their system considers “30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol). And then it boils it down into a simple, easy-to-use number; a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds.”  [source]

The first significant clue that NuVal’s rating system may not be accurate is their including cholesterol in a list of “not-so-good” factors.  We know, and now science backs it up, that cholesterol is very good for us, in fact essential for our health! It doesn’t cause heart disease, and it is especially necessary for brain function. [source]  For more information about the benefits of cholesterol, you can read articles and books by Chris Masterjohn PhD, Mary Enig PhD, or Uffe Ravnskov MD.  Look at Real Food Houston’s recommended reading list for some of their books.

What foods should we find at the top of a list of nutrient-dense foods?  Foods are nutrient-dense when they contain lots of fat soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, plus protein and minerals.  My first choice for a nutrient-dense food would probably be liver, followed by eggs and whole milk.

Why choose liver as the number one superfood?  Look how liver stacks up against apples, carrots, and even red meat:

Nutrients in LiverThe only nutrient not higher in liver than all the others is zinc, which is slightly higher in red meat, but in every other nutrient listed, liver is way ahead.  Red meat is much higher in all nutrients than apples and carrots, but it can’t touch the amount of nutrition in liver.  One of the best sources on the nutrition in liver is Chris Masterjohn’s article on liver and cod liver oil.   But you can read more here and here and here about the nutrition in liver.

Now let’s look at what foods get a 100 score from NuVal.  Here’s a sample chart:

NuVal Nutrition ScoresI don’t see see liver anywhere.   For more NuVal scores, look here – no liver though.  Top scores are awarded to farmed fish (93 – Atlantic salmon) and soymilk (91 – Silk Soymilk).  Soymilk is not a healthy, nutritious food!  Read Soy Alert to learn about the problems with soy. Although broccoli, blueberries, and spinach are good plant foods, they can’t possibly be more nutritious than liver!

But look what we do find with a NuVal score of 100–skim milk!  Now, there is NO WAY that skim milk should be rated as 100, a perfect nutritious food.  Skim milk is a heavily processed product that has had all its fat (and, therefore, all of its fat soluble vitamins) removed.  Plus skim milk is almost always doctored with additives to make it look and taste better.  Real skim milk is somewhat bluish and watery looking and doesn’t taste very good. Read here and here about problems with skim milk.  Skim milk has also been associated with excessive weight gain in children.

And look how far down the list NuVal rates eggs–a score of 56!  It looks like they still believe the myth that cholesterol causes heart disease and eggs should be avoided.  Putting 85% lean ground beef at 38 seems to be another victim of the cholesterol myth.  Read here about why eggs are among our healthiest foods.  Read here and here and here for the real truth about cholesterol.


NuVal will NOT help people choose the most nutritious foods and the best foods for their food budget.  It will almost certainly encourage some people to buy less healthy foods.  NuVal will not help much to improve people’s health.  NuVal is too far behind the research curve and is not using the latest information about nutrition.

After looking through NuVal’s website and nutrition rating system, I feel sure that they will not like many tweets from @RealFoodHouston.

Photo credit: Liver with Onions

Posted in Cholesterol, Dairy, Diet, Eggs, Food on a budget, Health, Nutrition, Pastured Eggs, Real Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We Need Better Bugs! The Importance of a Healthy Microbiome

A new study says that we take our microbiome wherever we go, from house to house, from hotel to hotel. Our personal microbiome can even be used to identify us, like fingerprints or DNA.

However, maybe the most important news in today’s Houston Chronicle (repeated in many other news sources) article about is a quotation from Dr. Lisa Helbling Chadwick of the National Institutes of Health. Although she was not involved with the study, she says that the results are important because it evaluated healthy people (sounds like Dr. Weston A. Price’s research, doesn’t it?) and begins to show “what’s normal in a regular home.” But here is the quotation I found so amazing:

Instead of relying on killing bugs to stop the spread of infection, maybe we need to cultivate better bugs. [emphasis added]

Wow! She proposes we “cultivate better bugs”! Mainstream health and government organizations (the FDA with its “kill step” for example) have consistently been recommending, even mandating, killing all bacteria. For decades, the medical industry has way overprescribed antibiotics that kill all bacteria, not just bad bacteria, and have recommended heavy use of sanitizers and sterilizers. Are these organizations finally waking up to the importance of encouraging healthy bacteria?

Mango ChutneyAlthough, if they admit the need at all, the medical industry will probably respond by recommending probiotic pills, they are not the best way to ensure a healthy personal microbiome.  A better way is to include beneficial bacteria in your diet by eating fermented vegetables and fruits, sourdough bread, cultured cheeses, kefir, yogurt, and other similarly prepared traditional foods.  All traditional cultures included fermented foods in their diets, even back to neolithic times. [source]  In fact, almost all foods can be fermented–vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, beans, grains, and beverages.  The jars in the photo are homemade lacto-fermented mango chutney.

Here’s how important our diet is to our microbiome: Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s research team tested fermented vegetables and found that “one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic! So clearly, you’re far better off using fermented foods.” [source]

For more information about healthy bacteria and fermented foods:

Fermented Foods Contain 100 TIMES More Probiotics than a Supplement
Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Posted in Antibiotics, Dr. Weston A. Price, Ferments, Health, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On the Real Food News Front – 8/8/14

Mug of bone broth and newspaperI haven’t had time to publish any new posts this week, but I didn’t want to skip writing about the latest news.  Breakfast today was a cup of bone broth (by now, you should not be surprised!) and a banana cocoa smoothie. Today’s smoothie was made with raw milk, frozen bananas, raw cacao, and egg yolks from local pastured hens.

We have another meeting of Houston Real Food Nutrition to announce!  I am so excited that interest in nutrition to improve health is growing so much here in Texas that we have had to add a second session about the topic Dr. Price’s research and principles of a nourishing traditional diet.

To help our members who don’t live in Houston, Amy Robison and I are going to Wharton to do an encore presentation on August 24th.  I’ve been told that people are coming to Wharton from Yoakum and San Antonio to hear that one.  Medina Farm is hosting the Wharton meeting and is offering some wonderful prizes for attendees–a dozen yard eggs, a quart of raw goat milk, and maybe some fresh feta cheese!  Medina Farm has created a Facebook event page for the meeting.

The first meeting about traditional diets is on August 16th. I hope you can come to one of them!

Also don’t forget on Sunday, August 10th, Grant Wilson of Gramen Farm will talk about raw milk and local organic produce at the grand opening of the MainStreet American farmers market.

You can check out and sign up for any future meetings at Houston Real Food Nutrition.

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund fundraiserAnother reminder–today, August 8th, is the last day to donate to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) and get a Donor Gift.

I am a member of the FTCLDF and urge all of you who care about healthy food, food rights, or the defense of our small family farms to join and also to donate to the fundraiser if you can.

For a $100 donation, you can choose one of these super gifts:

Any of these are great gifts!  Notice that Nourishing Broth (which I want for sure) is brand new, to be published in September.

Here’s some of what the FTCLDF does for us:

When you donate to the Farm-to-Consumer

 Legal Defense Fund, you will:

  • Protect your food rights because FTCLDF defends access to nutrient-dense foods from pasture-based farms.
  • Shoulder the heavy burden of expensive court cases for the few farmer members, like Christian Zook, who are unfortunate enough to get into legal battles.
  • Keep FTCLDF membership costs low and affordable–membership fees that haven’t budged since FTCLDF’s formation in 2007.
  • Protect private buying clubs
  • Protect backyard gardening rights

But to get one of those great donor gifts, you need to donate today!

Houston Food News! Check out the garden for growing food at the new Houston restaurant Coltivare (by the owners of Revival Market)!  You can also read about other city-supported gardens in food deserts.  [source]

You can get dinner and a movie this year for Houston Restaurant Weeks at the Alamo Drafthouse (probably not much Real Food though).  A $5 donation will go to the Houston Food Bank.

The Rise of IndependenceIn other Houston news (and no, it’s not related to food!) you might want to watch the shuttle Independence being lifted atop the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft August 14th at 8 am. The combined height of both aircraft will be about that of an eight-story building. The public is invited to attend, but if you can’t be there, you can watch The Rise of Independence live. I worked in the space program for many years and still find it exciting to know that we will be able to tour the inside of both the shuttle orbiter and the carrier when the exhibit is completed in 2015.

Now for other nutrition and health news . . .

I read a great article about climate change that I want to share with you.  For some time, I have been convinced that the only way we can heal our earth is to stop poisoning it.  Instead we need to nurture our soil, our animals, as well as ourselves. We have been treating living animals, plants, and people as inanimate objects for too long.   Read more about We Can Reverse Climate Change by the Way We Grow Food.

Another study is showing that epigenetic changes in one generation can be passed down to future generations.  A study of rats found that stress during pregnancy influenced the outcome of pregnancies in the grandchildren even when the parent had not been stressed.  Environment does matter, and environment includes what we eat, what we breathe, what we absorb through the skin, and the stresses we live with.  Have you read Pottenger’s Cats?

An interesting article on GreenMedInfo tells about natural treatments for canker sores in the mouth.  I used to have those painful sores but rarely have them since I changed my diet and quit using toothpaste containing sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, both of which irritate the mouth.  If you are still troubled with canker sores (and more women than men have them, for unknown reasons), there are treatments with fewer side effects, including honey and vitamin B12,  than the antiseptics, corticosteroids, or antibiotics commonly prescribed.  Although the article also recommends avoiding dairy, I still drink raw milk and eat cheese.

The number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased 76% since 2008, [source] and the USDA has developed a database, USDA National Farmers Market Directory, to help you find one in your area.  To find farmers markets in the Houston area, go to the Farmers’ Markets page on

There’s good and bad news about GMOs–good:  India has put GMO crop trials on hold, but bad: it looks like the USDA will approve new varieties of GMO soybeans and corn that are engineered to resist a combination of poisons, glyphosate and dicamba.  The new soybeans will allow even more poisons to be sprayed on our food crops.

If you are trying to stay away from GMOs by buying organic foods, the growing popularity of organic foods (and higher prices and profit margins) has attracted Big Food.  Pressure is being applied to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to reduce restrictions and weakening the standards.  Will we lose the benefit of the NOSB?  [source]

For mental heath, you might want to garden more often.  There apparently is a microbe in the soil that influences serotonin production which will make us feel better.  [source]

More bad news about the side effects of statins:

According to a new study published in Clinical Endocrinology, women who use statins have a 43% increased risk of thyroid cancer.  Men have a 28% increased risk. [source]  The benefits for women for taking statins is very small, and they have not been found to prevent heart attack.  Read my post about women and statins, Warning! Women in danger of being overprescribed statins!

Another study found that taking statins increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 57%, and the risk increased the longer the patient took statins.  [source]

If you still think you need to lower your cholesterol level, read about this study that cholesterol levels are significantly low in kidney failure patients than in controls.  Those who died from kidney failure had even lower cholesterol levels (all types) than those who survived.  [source]  We need cholesterol to be healthy!

Now here is a selection of delicious, nutritious recipes from other Real Food bloggers to help keep you healthy and happy!

Cheesy Einkorn BiscuitsBaking with the Ancient Grain Einkorn
Einkorn is an ancient wheat that is a rich source of the beta carotene lutein and the forms of vitamin E–tocotrienols and tocopherols. Since it can need special handling to produce superior baked foods, here are some excellent tips.  The article has Einkorn recipes for Cheesy Biscuits, Coconut Vanilla Cookies, and Beer Cheese Bread.

Ruskty cast iron skilletsReclaim your rust pitted cast iron
This is not exactly a recipe, but if you have cast iron skillets, griddles, or pans that have rusted, you can save them.  Check out this method, which seems fairly simple.  If you try it, let us know if it worked.  And there’s another article on the potato cleaning tip.

No Bake Pumpkin Pie CookiesNo Bake Pumpkin Pie Cookies- No GMOs, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and No Refined Sugars
These pumpkin cookies require no cooking, are full of nutrients, and their sweetness comes from medjool dates.

Cauliflower Mac' and CheeseCauliflower Mac’ and Cheese
This Mac and Cheese is gluten-free, grain-free, and easy to fix.


Water Kefir or Kombucha Ice Cream FloatRefreshing Water Kefir (or Kombucha) Ice Cream Float
A substitute for soda and still delicious when used with Real Ice Cream

Posted in Access to Good Food, Access to Real Food, Books, Cholesterol, Dairy, Diet, Dr. Weston A. Price, Events, Farmers Markets, Food Freedom, Food Rights, Gluten-free, GMOs, Grain Free, Health, Houston Real Food Nutrition, Nutrition, Organic Food, Raw Milk, Real Food, Restaurants, Sustainable Farming, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Real Food News Front — 08-1-14

Mug of bone broth and newspaperI know it’s Friday, but this week I have been so busy with the activities of the Houston-Galveston chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation that I am a little behind with the news.  For breakfast this morning while drinking my cup of bone broth and reading my local newspaper, I had a cherry smoothie made with local goat milk kefir, egg yolks from pastured chickens, organic cherries, and a little stevia. Delicious, nourishing, and probiotic too.

Modern vs. Traditional Facial Structure Photo Copyright © Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation®, All Rights Reserved,

We have added some new events to our Meetup, Houston Real Food Nutrition.

The next meeting of our WAPF chapter will discuss the research of Weston A. Price and the Principles of a Nourishing Traditional Diet.  The photo at right shows the difference between the modern versus traditional facial structure. If you missed Sally Fallon Morrell’s talk at the recent Houston Regional Wise Traditions Conference or just want to refresh your memory and ask some questions, come join us.  We will also have some giveaways during the meeting.  I hope you will join our Meetup group, Houston Real Food Nutrition.  It doesn’t cost anything to join and you will be notified of all meetings and events.

Another event we’ve added to the schedule is the opening of the Farmers Market at MainStreet in Spring August 10th.  Grant Wilson of Gramen Farm will talk about the benefits of raw dairy and local organic produce.

Armed RegulatorsThe Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance issued an alert that was so disturbing that I did some research into the arming of the USDA (yes, that is the Department of Agriculture with the guns!) and the recent raids on family farms.   Read about what’s happening and what you can do . . .


Now for other nutrition and health news . . .

Houston Restaurant Weeks begins today and benefits the Houston Food Bank.  It’s a worthwhile effort even though I wish our food bank provided truly healthy fresh food instead of so much dead and processed food in cans and packages.  Read my post about how one food bank found a way to provide fresh produce for its customers, Food Banks CAN Provide Healthy and Nutritious Food!

The Haven closed yesterday! Chef Randy Evans had operated the award-winning farm-to-table restaurant for five years. The location is being sold to the owner of The Union Kitchen.  We are sad to have to remove it from our Real Food Restaurants list.

Raw milk news:  While the U.S. government raids our raw milk dairies, much of Europe can buy their nutritious raw milk from vending machines, and soon the U.K will be able to as well.  Their Food Standards Agency (FSA) is expected to approve the measure soon.

GMO news:

  • Although the U.S. government and industry have welcomed GMOs with regulations prohibiting their ban, the European Union is moving toward more strict controls of GMOs.  An EU proposal would allow member states to ban or restrict GMOs within their borders.
  • In the U.S., we can avoid GMO foods by choosing organic and apparently more and more families are making that choice.
  • One of the reasons GMO foods are not good for us is that the poison (glyphosate/Roundup) sprayed on many GMO crops kills beneficial bacteria in the gut while leaving the pathogenic bacteria (e.g., salmonella and botulism) unaffected.
  • In apparent desperation, Food and biotech companies spent $9 million lobbying Congress on issues that mentioned GMO labeling in the first quarter of this year, almost the amount spent in all of last year. [emphasis added] [source]

News about poisons and toxins:

Here’s the good news first:

  • The EPA has denied the emergency application of Texas farmers to use a toxic pesticide on 3 million acres of cotton. Allowing the spraying of propazine, which is highly water soluble, on so many acres of farm land would have greatly increased the risk of contamination of water supplies.
  • Also good, Federal wildlife refuges in the northwest will phase out the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to the decline of pollinating bees and wild birds.

Now for the bad news:

  • A study at Skinner Lab , Washington State University, found that exposure to the pesticide methoxychlor in one generation led to “adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity” in later generations even though exposure to the pesticide did not continue.  Methoxychlor was banned in the U.S. in 2003, but it is still used in other countries.
  • Pesticide residues have been found in almost 63% of bread samples in the UK. Most alarming is that the percentage was only 28% in 2001. Would there be less pesticide in our bread in the U.S.? I don’t think so.
  • A new study from the University of California in Davis has strengthened the link between prenatal pesticide exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. “Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay.”  The pesticides studied include “organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates.”

In environmental news:  A study has found that we need our grazing animals! Botanists at Trinity College in Dublin were surprised when a study found that allowing deer in forest ecosystems actually increased the biodiversity of the plant life.  It had been thought that removing the deer from the forests would help encourage plant survival.

News that can affect our health:

  • Research gives us evidence that our lifestyle or the environment we live in can switch off certain genes and trigger tumors, without mutating the DNA itself. The good news is that these changes may be reversible.  “All cells contain the same DNA, but individual genes in any cell can be switched on or off by the addition or subtraction of a methyl group – a process known as epigenetic methylation.”
  • The oligosaccharides in human milk were long thought to be useless since babies didn’t have the enzymes necessary to digest them; however, new research shows that these biomolecules nurture the good bacteria in the gut which helps protect the infant from infection and inflammation.
  • Environment has a strong influence on a baby’s health!  A team of researchers evaluated almost 40,000 live births and found that the mother’s access to green spaces—parks, community gardens or even cemeteries–was strongly associated with birth weight of the baby.  Mothers who lived in low-income areas with little green space gave birth to the lowest birth weights.
  • Researchers have found a link between eating meat from CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) animals and Alzheimer’s through an infectious protein called TDP-43.
  • The research is accumulating to overturn the myth that saturated fat is bad for you.  Dr. Mercola discusses the latest studies that find no correlation between eating saturated fats and heart disease.  It’s time to let the myth die peacefully.
  • Don’t stop taking your niacin just because of the recent news reports slamming it. The study has been misrepresented.  The study actually involved the drug laropiprant, itself a questionable drug, and the study results say little about the effectiveness or side effects from taking niacin.

Now for a selection of delicious, nutritious recipes from other Real Food bloggers to help keep you healthy and happy!

Whole-Grain, No-Knead Sourdough BreadOur Daily Bread: Whole-Grain, No-Knead Sourdough
Tips and hints to make nutritious sourdough bread with a minimum of effort. From the Nourished Kitchen


Vanilla Pudding Pops with Magic ShellVanilla Pudding Pops with Homemade Magic Shell
These pops are made with cream, milk, and egg yolks and are coated with a chocolate/coconut oil shell.  From Deliciously Organic


Summer Popsicles5 Nourishing Summertime Popsicles :: Great For Teething Babies, Busy Toddlers, & Kids of All Ages!
These summer pops are made with fruit, milk or coconut milk, gelatin, and egg yolks. Refreshing and nourishing!



Grain-free zucchini browniesRecipe: Grain Free Zucchini Walnut Brownie (GAPS, Paleo)
These GAPS and paleo brownies are made with almond flour and coconut flour.  The zucchini gives them moisture.  From Real Food Forager

Posted in Access to Good Food, Dairy, Diet, Dr. Weston A. Price, Events, Farmers Markets, Food Freedom, Food Rights, Health, Heart Disease, Houston Real Food Nutrition, Local Farming, Nutrition, Organic Food, Pastured Eggs, Pesticides, Poisons, Raw Milk, Real Food, Research, Restaurants, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment