Wise Traditions 2014 Conference

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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 WAPF-Houston.org.

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, www.ppnf.org

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

Yes, I am disturbed! Why is the USDA arming itself with submachine guns?

Armed raiderWhy would a regulatory agency like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) need submachine guns?

Although it doesn’t say why the guns are wanted, the USDA has issued this solicitation request:

Added: May 07, 2014 2:03 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical [sic] acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts [sic] trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe [sic] or folding, magazine – 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation. [source]

The USDA never says how many guns or how much ammo they want to buy, but they do say that “OIG Special Agents are authorized to make arrests, execute warrants, and carry firearms.” The first listed activity that they investigate is “fraud in farm programs.”  [source]  They need armed enforcers for that?

Why am I skeptical? Maybe I’ve heard about too many raids on farm families or elaborate investigations on raw dairy farmers.

Could it be that they expect to make more raids on family farms?

Farm Raids

MDARD Raid in Michigan

A recent example of unexplained (and unnecessary) raids was the confiscation and dumping of $5,000 worth of raw milk, butter, cream, and eggs from a Michigan co-op by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).  There were many other ways the MDARD could have handled this situation. “They could have given her [Jenny Samuelson, co-op owner] a citation, listed the charges against her, held a hearing where she and the owners of the food could have attempted to answer the charges, and then levied a fine if she was found to be in violation.”  But no, the MDARD gave no warning!  They just raided and “disposed of” thousands of dollars of fresh, healthy food, which had already been paid for by the herdshare and co-op members.  [source]  I do not know if the MDARD raiders were armed, but the trend seems to be for such raids to be conducted at gunpoint.

Destruction of 100 dozen eggs one by oneHere’s an interesting piece of the Michigan raid story–the MDARD required that each egg of the 100 dozen eggs be broken during the dumping. [source]  Wow, and as others have pointed out, this was all done within “one of the most economically depressed states in the union.”  [source]


I haven’t heard yet of any peaceful farmers shooting back when they were subjected to armed raids on their family farms, and small children were often witnesses to the raids.  (see Farmaggedon)  Is the danger during these raids greater for the raiders or for the farm families?

Pennsylvania Amish Farmer

Other raids include the FDA’s year-long sting and raid on Pennsylvania Amish dairy farmer Dan Alllgyer [read more] which included “U.S. marshals and a state police trooper.”  The FDA said it was just an “inspection”, not a raid.  If so, why did they need U.S. marshals and police troopers?

There have been other farm raids.  FARFA mentions the California raid on the Rawesome food co-op in 2010.  It was a private co-op for members only, and there had never been any complaint against them.

Dangers of Armed Regulatory Agents

FARFA explains some of the dangers that could result:

If agency officials face a situation in which armed backup is truly called for, they can go through the proper procedures to have support from the Department of Justice. Having in-house SWAT teams and armed personnel makes it too easy to turn a non-hazardous situation into an armed raid that abuses the rights of our citizens. Bureaucrats aren’t hired or properly trained for dangerous law enforcement situations. Moreover, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to provide weapons to each individual agency.  [emphasis added] [source]

Who Is Concerned?

one of the most economically depressed states in the union – See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3223/officials-raid-co-op-force-farmers-to-crack-eggs-one-by-one-dump-thousands-in-perfectly-good-food/#sthash.uWZb4WxK.dpuf
in one of the most economically depressed states in the union. – See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3223/officials-raid-co-op-force-farmers-to-crack-eggs-one-by-one-dump-thousands-in-perfectly-good-food/#sthash.uWZb4WxK.dpuf

in one of the most economically depressed states in the union. – See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3223/officials-raid-co-op-force-farmers-to-crack-eggs-one-by-one-dump-thousands-in-perfectly-good-food/#sthash.uWZb4WxK.dpuf

in one of the most economically depressed states in the union. – See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3223/officials-raid-co-op-force-farmers-to-crack-eggs-one-by-one-dump-thousands-in-perfectly-good-food/#sthash.uWZb4WxK.dpuf

Fortunately, I am not the only one who is concerned with the arming of our regulatory agencies.  The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) says that “While the actual number of armed raids has been low, the fear and distrust that they have created in the local foods community has been widespread and damaging. For example, the 2010 raid on a local food co-op in southern California, in which the FDA participated, is still reverberating through the raw milk community.”

What We Can Do

Even more important, there are Congressmen who also see the dangers and have introduced HR 4934, the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act.

The bill does three things:

  1. Repeals the arrest and firearm authority granted to Offices of Inspectors General in the 2002 Homeland Security Act.
  2. Prohibits federal agencies, other than those traditionally tasked with enforcing federal law — such as the FBI and U.S. Marshals — from purchasing machine guns, grenades, and other weaponry regulated under the National Firearms Act.
  3. Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to write a complete report detailing all federal agencies with specialized units that receive special tactical or military-style training and that respond to high-risk situations that fall outside the capabilities of regular law enforcement officers. [source]

We can help pass this bill by contacting our U.S. Representative (find out who) and urge him/her to support the bill.

You can support FARFA, an organization which is very active for our food rights and the protection of the family farm.

You can also join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  The Fund is active in the defense of our food rights, defends family farms and protects consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods. I am a member!

Click here to find out more about the bill and who the current co-sponsors are.

Read more about the farm raids and H.R. 4934 at FARFA’s website.

Photo credits:  the egg disposal photo is courtesy of High Hill Dairy, the raw milk farm that supplied the raw milk for the co-op.  The armed raider is courtesy of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

Posted in Access to Good Food, Access to Real Food, Co-ops, Dairy, Food Freedom, Food Rights, Health, Health Freedom, Raw Milk, Real Food | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learn About Dr. Weston A. Price’s Research and the Principles of Traditional Diets

Photo Copyright © Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation®, All Rights Reserved, www.ppnf.org

Photo Copyright © Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation®, All Rights Reserved, www.ppnf.org

I am happy to announce that the next meeting of Houston Real Food Nutrition on August 16th will be a discussion about the research of Dr. Weston A. Price and the Principles of Nourishing Traditional Diets.

Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist and nutrition researcher who studied and analyzed the diets of isolated groups of people who were still eating their traditional diets.  To find such groups was still possible in the 1930′s when he traveled but would probably not be done today.

The topic is An Overview of the Nutrition Research of Dr. Weston A. Price and The Principles of Nourishing Traditional Diets. Amy Robison and I will be leading the discussion. We are both co-leaders of the Houston-Galveston Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).

Sally Fallon Morrell, president of the WAPF, gave a much more extensive talk on this subject at the recent Houston Regional Wise Traditions Conference in March. If you missed her presentation or want to refresh your knowledge, please join us.  However, if you ever get a chance to hear her talk about traditional diets, don’t miss it.  She is an excellent speaker and her knowledge on the subject is phenomenal.

At our meeting we will show a short video about Dr. Price’s research followed by a slide show and discussion of the underlying characteristics of nourishing traditional diets.

Modern vs. Traditional Facial Structure

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

Here are some of the things you will learn about traditional diets which could improve your family’s health:

–The kinds of foods that are necessary for a nutrient-dense diet

–The kinds of foods that should be avoided for the best health

–Which nutrients are essential

–The benefits of cooked versus raw foods

–How to prepare foods to make them more nutritious

and much more. . .

There will be giveaways and plenty of time for questions and answers both during and after the presentation. The meeting should last about 1-1/2 to 2 hours depending on the number of questions.

Join us for a great time, win prizes, all while learning how you and your family can improve your health through better nutrition!

There will be handouts providing sources for more information about Dr. Price’s research and traditional diets.

For more information about the time and location of the meeting, please go to Houston Real Food Nutrition.  We appreciate your RSVP through the group so that we can know how many are planning to attend.

We hope to see you there!

Posted in Dr. Weston A. Price, Health, Houston Real Food Nutrition, Nutrition, Real Food, Research, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

On the Real Food News Front – 07-24-14

Houston Chronicle and mugGood morning! It’s Thursday news time at Real Food Houston. I’ve had my cup of homemade chicken broth and a banana cocoa smoothie for breakfast (today with raw milk and 2 egg yolks), followed by a cup of Dandy Blend with just a little raw milk and stevia.

Here’s what’s been happening on Real Food Houston. . .

CAFO CowsCheap food isn’t really cheap!  You can’t avoid the cost, it just gets transferred somewhere else.  Read my post about why the cost of food in the U.S. has dropped so much and the price we’re paying for it.

Whole pig saw 2Valerie Stegemoeller has written a guest post about a class she attended in hog butchering.  She’s a new homesteader at Stegesaurus Farm and also a co-leader of the Houston-Galveston Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Cutting up meat is an art we’ve almost lost but is essential to the small farm and homesteader.

Pot of pinto beans cooked with ham hockI love home cooked beans and have posted my version of Nourishing Traditions Basic Beans.  Beans, and other legumes, are not only nutritious, but they can also really help the food budget.  Just a little meat goes a long way in a big pot of beans.

They are also so versatile!  They can be served plain with some shredded cheese or made into refried beans to go with Mexican food or made into chili.  I keep some jars of beans in the freezer all the time.

Now for the news . . .

  • Don’t forget the fermentation workshop and demo this Saturday at The Last Organic Outpost. The workshop begins at Noon. Bring water and a chair. The weather man says it will be HOT this weekend!
  • In one of the most important but also most depressing news stories this week, “The Michigan Department of Agriculture . . . forced Joe and Brenda Golimbieski, the owners of Hill High Dairy and Jenny Samuelson, the owner of My Family Co-op, to dump out 248 gallons of milk, to break 100 dozen eggs, and to destroy an undisclosed amount of fresh cream, butter and cheese.” Although the farm is a co-op, the MDA insisted they were selling food without a license. Read more . . .
  • David Gumpert, author of The Complete Patient blog talks says about the MDA raid that “The government-sponsored dump of nearly $5,000 of milk, eggs, butter, and cream . . . carried a very clear and powerful political message to all Americans: We control your food and we don’t like you buying your food outside the corporate food system.”  Sad and disturbing too!.  Will we ultimately lose the right to choose our own food from healthy sources?  Will the government force us to eat processed junk food?
  • If you want to know who, besides local and federal governments, controls food, 10 food companies own almost all of our food.  The 10 are PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Associated British Foods, Mondēlez (formerly Kraft Foods), Mars, Danone, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestle.  There’s a link to a super graphic that shows the brands that these companies own.  For example, Nestle owns S. Pelligrino and Perrier waters and Coca Cola owns Dasani and Honest Tea.  Definitely eye-opening!
  • Alison Cook, food critic for the Houston Chronicle, tells us that a new Indian restaurant scheduled to open in September will use organic spices and avoid color additives. All that is certainly good news but what about the rest of the food? Will the meats be CAFO or pastured? Will the veggies and fruits be poisoned or organic? Isn’t it sad that such a small improvement in food quality is the best Houston restaurant news can offer! At least the article addresses food quality.  Usually restaurant critics and reviewers, including Alison Cook, only talk about the appearance, feel, and taste of food, never the quality of nutrition. (See my post Food writers – what they don’t talk about!)
  • We’ve heard a lot about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but now there’s also fungicide-resistant fungus.  New research from British and Dutch scientists show that the fungus Aspergillus, commonly found in soil and other organic material and which attacks the lungs, has apparently become resistant to fungicides like the triazoles, which are freely used in agriculture.  Breathing aspergillus is especially harmful to people with damaged lungs or weak immune systems such as from asthma or cystic fibrosis.
  • In nutrition news:
    • Although quinoa is not a traditional food in my part of the country, I want to give it a try after reading Authority Nutrition’s 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa (No. 1 is My Favorite).  It is high in protein (contains all the essential amino acids) and other nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, folate, and quercetin.  It is gluten-free and mild flavored.
    • The difference between folate and folic acid is important to women before and during pregnancy because it “helps to prevent neural tube defects in the growing fetus.”  “Folate is the naturally occurring version of vitamin B9, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form used in supplements. While both versions do help to prevent neural tube defects, only folate crosses the placenta.” [emphasis added]
    • Watermelon not only tastes super good and sweet, but it has health benefits not widely known. Read Dr. Mercola’s 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon.  Watermelon has more lycopene than tomato and contains citruline which may reduce blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
  • Organic foods are good for you!  A new study, a meta analysis of 323 peer-reviewed studies, found that “switching to organic food provides as many additional antioxidants as eating between one and two extra portions of fruits and vegetables per day.”  Read more . . . and more . . .   The Cornucopia Institute is concerned that the growing popularity of organic foods, the “Walmarting of organics,” will lower organic quality, weaken standards, and hurt small farms.
  • Real Food Forager has some good tips to avoid the poison fluoride that is often added to municipal water.  I had always wondered about how to prevent adding fluoride to backyard garden plants.  Her recommendation is to water the roots where there is less uptake of fluoride rather than the leaves plants where uptake is greater.  She also has suggestions for detoxifying fluoride.
  • Looking for high protein foods is currently “in” for over half of adults.  Cereal manufacturers are taking advantage of the fad to boost falling sales by adding GMO soy to their products.  For example, Cheerios Protein is labeled “high protein” which comes from added soy and lentils, and they are not organic.  To offset the unpleasant taste of the soy, there are 9 grams of added sugars under various names like “sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, carmelized syrup and something called “Refiner’s Syrup,” which is apparently a byproduct of cane sugar manufacture.”  [source] Instead get your protein from real foods like grassfed beef, eggs from pastured chickens, whole raw milk, and properly prepared whole grains.
  • Dr. Kelly Brogan is concerned about the risks of routine ultrasounds during pregnancy.  The last time the effects were tested the study used older, less powerful equipment.  Much is still unknown but animal tests have linked “altered learning, memory, and neuroanatomy of those mice.”
  • Low-carb diets shouldn’t be lumped into the “fad diet” category.  They have been recommended for weight loss for a hundred and fifty years.  Recent studies have confirmed their safety and effectiveness.  Authority Nutrition lists 6 Reasons to Stop Calling Low-Carb a Fad Diet.

Not all news is bad! Here are some interesting stories on the brighter/lighter side.

  • Fermented foods are a natural remedy for food poisoning. Cultured Food Life shares her family’s experience with food poisoning several years ago. She was up and feeling much better less than half an hour after drinking the juice from fermented veggies.
  • If you have a home garden, there are safer ways to get rid of pest rather than using poisons. DIY ingredients can include garlic pepper spray, baking soda, and milk. Read more about Gentle Gardening Arsenal.
  • If you use social media you will get a laugh from this hilarious musical video from Weird Al Yankovic–Word Crimes.

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

Healthy Corn DogsHealthy Corn Dog Recipe
If you really love corn dogs but have been avoiding them because they are unhealthy, here’s The Healthy Home Economist’s version that will allow you to add them back into your menu.

Ultimate paleo chocolate chip cookiesUltimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies [made with chestnut flour]
This is a new one on me.  I had not heard of using chestnut flour before.  The blogger says that it is gluten-free and has 96% less phytates than the almond flour commonly used in paleo and low-carb recipes.


Mango Coconut Ice CreamMango Coconut Ice Cream
Easy and quick.  If you like mangos try this simple ice cream recipe.  You can use either coconut milk or whole milk.


Second Ferment Your KefirSecond ferment your kefir
If you find homemade kefir just too sour to drink, try this method to mellow the flavor.  You can add fruits too.

Posted in Conferences, Diet, Ferments, Food Freedom, Food on a budget, Food Rights, GMOs, Health, Home Remedies, Local Farming, Nutrition, Raw Milk, Real Food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Simply Can’t Avoid the True Cost of Cheap Food!

In the U.S. we spend less of our household budget on food than any other county in the world.  We only spend about 6.9% of our household income on food.  What do other countries spend on food?  Here are a few examples:  Canada spends almost 10%; Japan spends about 15%; and China spends about 35%.

We have become so accustomed to cheap food, that I’ve heard many people say “I can’t afford to buy organic food!” or “I can’t afford grassfed beef” and so on and so on.  I’m sure you’ve heard it too.  Even your own family members may say it.

I know that there are people who truly can’t afford to be choosy about what they eat, and I completely understand that any food is better than no food at all, but we’re not talking about those circumstances.  We’re talking about the people you see in the grocery stores and talk to at work and at school.

Most of the time I think people who say they can’t afford quality food just don’t really understand the true cost of their choices.  They aren’t homeless.  They aren’t on welfare.  They drive nice cars and wear good clothes–not resale!  If quality food were a priority, most of them could afford it.

So what gives?  What lies under this huge disconnect?  Why do so many people think they can’t afford real food?

Although I’ve thought about this problem for quite a while, the answer to the question was explained superbly by an article in the Summer 2014 issue of Wise Traditions published by the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Bill Hyde, a PhD  farmer, who can get to the heart of the issue and also has the ability to keep meticulous records of the cost of farming, wrote about his late-in-life farming experience in The Real Cost of Real Food.

When he was close to retirement, Bill Hyde, who had always wanted to be a farmer, decided to live his dream.  He and his wife bought some land on the outskirts of Denver and began Happy Farm.  They use farming practices that “promote healthy soil, plants, and animals.”

As he developed his farming skills, Bill Hyde kept detailed records of the cost of farming.  What he discovered prompted his writing about what he learned.

There is a huge disconnect between our food and food supply and what we need as healthy people, and it has all occurred in just the last half century. It is so alarming that I feel compelled to share my experience.

For example, he details the cost of raising chickens to lay eggs and calculates the cost for a dozen eggs at $11.52. Yes, that is just his cost with no profit added! He goes further to say that increasing the size of his farm from about 75 to 100 chickens to 1,000 would not lower the price by much, since more chickens means more expense.

Then why are grocery store eggs, and all the other foods, so much cheaper?

Grocery store eggs are cheaper because most of the true cost of producing them is not included in the price!

What are those other costs?

CAFO CowsFirst we need to take a brief look at how farming has changed over the last few decades.  As Bill Hyde points out, “production of food has largely been taken over by large corporations.”  When big business took over farming, less attention was paid to the quality of the food and more attention was given to profitability, shelf life and unnatural farming methods, such as feeding grain to animals meant to graze on grass and dosing them with antibiotics and GMO hormones.  Big agriculture cares only about profit, never about health, nutrition, and sustainability.

To explain further why corporation food is cheaper . . .

The greater affordability of food has come about in part due to these changes and because agribusinesses are not held responsible for soil, air, and water deterioration and pollution that their farming practices create. Neither do they pay for remedying the health problems of farm workers and consumers caused by eating and contacting these so-called foods. Tax policy, in many forms, also favors large agriculture-based corporations.

This food revolution has been successful in large part because the industry has worked hard at concealing its effects from the public. . .

To help understand the extent of agriculture’s change from farms to businesses, the vice president of the National Chicken Council says,  “Virtually all the chicken sold in America—more than 99 percent  . . . comes from factory-farm production similar to that used by Tyson Foods.” [emphasis added] [source]

As consumers, where do we pay for the true cost of our food?  And yes, we do always pay the true cost of our food, just not as a part of the price of our food. Bill Hyde’s chart illustrates where the cost of food has been transferred.

Percent of Budget for Food and Health

Yes, we all pay for our food, one way or another!  Eating food produced in unhealthy, unnatural conditions is a principal reason for the huge increase in health care costs.  Our bodies need nutritious foods to be healthy.  Our cells and organs cannot function properly without the necessary nutrients.  Nutrient-empty foods lead to sick bodies and weak immune systems.  The incidence of almost all chronic diseases has increased right along with the decrease in the price of our food.  We spend about the same amount in total for food and health now as we did forty years ago, but what we “save” on cheap food is made up with increased health costs.

On which side will you pay your total food and health costs?

For myself, I choose to pay up front on the food side for high quality food raised with practices that “promote healthy soil, plants, and animals.”  Buying real food supports our sustainable small farms and ensures our health along with that of the only earth we have today.

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Posted in Environment, Food on a budget, Health, Nutrition, Organic Food, Real Food, Sustainable Farming | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipe: Home Cooked Beans Can Boost Your Food Budget

Pinto beans with shredded cheddar cheeseI love beans, especially pinto beans, and home cooked beans are absolutely the best!  In fact, if you have only eaten canned or commercially cooked beans in the past, you are in for a real treat if you try these beans!  In addition to being delicious, they are very filling and satisfying.  I find that I don’t get hungry as quickly after eating beans.

The recipe below may seem time-consuming, but during most of those hours you don’t need to do anything.  The beans are just sitting in the pot either soaking or cooking for the most of the time required.  You must remember to start the soaking the day before you want to eat the beans, but, otherwise, all you have to do is put the pot on and go do whatever else you need to do.

Nutrients in Legumes

The legume family includes beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans [more on soybeans later]. They “are excellent sources of [plant] protein, low-glycemic index carbohydrates, essential micronutrients, and fiber.” [source]

According to Sally Fallon Morrell in Nourishing Traditions, legumes and pulses are a traditional food that have “nourished mankind for centuries.”  They have been the “poor man’s meat.”  When properly cooked at home, they are an excellent and low-cost source of many essential nutrients.  (Here’s a handy, printable chart of the nutrients in legumes.  For more detailed information about specific legumes, use the USDA’s Nutrient Database.)

Legumes are rich in minerals and B vitamins. The pinto beans–one of my favorite beans–in this recipe are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. They also contain smaller amounts of several other important minerals–iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium.  Pinto beans are a very good source of folate, a member of the B vitamin family,. Another bonus–both pinto and kidney beans are high in omega 3 fatty acids.

Legumes and Cancer Prevention

Although limited, research has indicated that legumes can reduce the risk for some cancers. [2009 study]

The American Institute for Cancer Research says

Foods containing folate help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer probably because of folate’s role in healthy cell division and repair of damaged cells.

Legumes contain other health-promoting substances that may also protect against cancer:

  • Lignans and saponins
  • Resistant starch, starch not digested in the small intestine, is used by healthful bacteria in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids, which seem to protect colon cells.
  • Antioxidants from a variety of phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols. [source]

Some people avoid beans and other legumes because of their phytic acid content and enzyme inhibitors; however, careful, traditional preparation can neutralize the anti-nutrients and break down the complex sugars making the beans more digestible.  [Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]


Soybeans are an exception to the traditional preparation I use for my pintos.  Soybeans are very high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are not deactivated by soaking and ordinary cooking.  To be safe, soybeans should only be eaten after they have been fermented according to traditional Asian methods that produce products like miso, tempeh, and natto.  Unless fermented, soybeans can “produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.”  For this reason, soy milk and most other soy products like tofu, soy proteins, and some soy sauces should be avoided. [Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]

Recipe: Homemade Pinto Beans


1 pound of organic dry pinto beans (this batch was Whole Foods organic dry pintos)
1 ham hock, preferably from pastured pigs (you can substitute bacon or a meaty ham bone)
1 organic onion, chopped, optional
1 strip of dried kombu, optional
2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste


First day

Pick over (remove stones and other foreign material) and rinse well.

Pot of pinto beans ready to cookPut beans in a large pot (at least 4 quart) and cover with filtered water by at least two inches.  Cover and let soak for 12 to 24 hours.  These beans soaked for about 21 hours.  Check the beans occasionally and add more water if necessary to keep the beans well covered.  Nourishing Traditions recommends using warm water.  I either start with water that’s been warmed or I just put the pot on a burner turned on low for two or three minutes.

Second day

After 12 to 24 hours, drain and rinse the beans.  Put them back in the rinsed pot (or another pot) and add filtered water to cover by at least an inch.  Add ham hock, bacon, or ham bone, and other optional ingredients.  Bring to a boil and skim any foam that forms on top.  Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 to 8 hours.  I cooked these beans for about six hours.  I didn’t add kombu to this pot of beans, but I often do.  It should increase digestibility and reduce gas formation.  Season to taste with salt and pepper toward the end of the cooking time.

Pot of pinto beans cooked with ham hockI always make a large pot of beans and freeze some for later use, but you can reduce the amounts in the recipe if you don’t need that many beans.

There are many super good ways to use home cooked pinto beans.  One of the simplest preps for a quick lunch or dinner is to top a bowl of hot beans with shredded sharp cheddar cheese (raw cheese if available) and jalapeno slices (see photo).  Sometimes I add some chopped tomato as I did in these photos.


Bowl of pintos with tomatoes and jalapenoBowl of pintos with shredded cheddar cheese

Leftover pinto beans are wonderful when mashed and refried with lard, goose fat, or other healthy fat.  I made refried beans for my Grassfed Beef Tostadas with Guacamole.  I usually season refried beans with some chili powder.


This recipe is based on the Basic Beans recipe in Nourishing Traditions, page 496 in my edition.

For sources of ingredients, go to my Resources page.



Posted in Food on a budget, Nutrition, Organic Food, Real Food, Recipes, Traditional Food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local Hog Butcher Class

[The following is a guest post by Valerie Stegemoeller, who, with her husband, has a small homestead northwest of Houston. You can follow their progress with farming at Stegesaurus Farm on Facebook. She is a co-leader of the Houston-Galveston Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.]

Butcher Class – The Barry Farm

BF Pig cuts 1

“The Barry Farm is a small family farm that focuses on pasture raised wholesome food. We strive to renew urban and suburban land and bring agriculture back into our daily lives. We currently offer Pastured Eggs, Pastured Poultry, Pastured Heritage Breed Red Wattle Pork and coming soon local Honey.”



My husband’s family used to do annual hog butchering until the 90s. Now that we started a small farm, and custom butchering for retail is VERY difficult to find (and more so wanting your animal to have as little stress as possible), my husband has been yearning to learn how to butcher animals on the farm. Chickens and rabbit were easy enough, but what about pork? Luckily, there was a small farm in Needville that hosts small classes for those who are interested in learning this lost art. Geoff and Renee are so friendly and always willing to share homesteading and farming tips for those interested in learning about food! Transparency is a major goal of their farming philosophy.

So when there was a class announced for June, I signed us up.

When we got there it was a very interesting group, with one central thing in common – we all were interested in BF Sheep 2humanely raised food. First, we went out to the area of pasture where the sheep had recently been moved. Like us, the Barry Farm is convinced of the benefit of rotationally grazing animals (for pest management and efficient grass management). As it was Houston and summer and mid-day, all the sheep were huddled together under their mobile shade with their guardian dog. One interested thing is the Barry Farm doesn’t have to castrate their ram lambs because they are freezer-bound well before they pose any significant challenge to the main breeding ram. And yes, these guys are 100% grass fed, well, except for Clarendon the livestock guardian dog.

Then, we got to visit the pigs, which was such a treat for us since our neighborhood doesn’t allow us to raise pork. They had plenty of shade and mud and they actually are trained to drink out of water nipples! The babies were very friendly but they liked to chew shoelaces! These hogs are Red Wattle, a breed known for their fabulous marbling (the fat develops IN the meat/muscle, not just around it, creating a unique flavor and tenderness). Additionally, the Barry Farm blends their own feed to optimize the flavor of their pork.

BF Mud 1BF Pig water 3

BF Piglets 3BF Piglets 4

Finally, we visited tBF Henshe garden and hens before going in to start the butcher class. The Barry Farm delivers eggs through a CSA program as well as supplies Fat Cat Creamery who uses the eggs for their small batch ice cream. (Probably a good reason they aren’t accepting any new egg customers at this time – I mean, it’s definitely ice cream season.) Also, the Barry Farm has bees on site who produce honey for harvesting, which they sell raw and unfiltered. I had some at the farm dinner days before this class and it was remarkable.

Time for learning how to break down a pig!

Whole pig saw 2During the demonstration, a Houston chef showed us how to turn a whole pig into cuts with four basic tools – a saw, and three knives, including a cleaver and a flexible knife (possibly a boning knife) for cutting meat off close to the bones. All of us that attended got a bag full of our portion of cuts from the pig with advice from the chef on various cooking methods. When it was all divided up, the chef prepared a meal of grilled pork tacos.

Whole pig 1BF Pig cuts 2

For more info on the Barry Farm, where to get their pork, lamb, eggs and honey and if you want to be notified of a future butcher class, please go to the website at http://thebarryfarm.com/. And be sure to follow them on Facebook also!


Posted in Real Food | 1 Comment

On the Real Food News Front – 7/17/14

Houston Chronicle and mugI know it’s not still morning, but while reading my newspaper today, I did have a cup of homemade chicken bone broth.  Chicken is my favorite broth, but I have made broths from beef, pork, chicken, duck, and goose bones.  Sometimes I mix the bones.  All are good and nutritious!  Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Nutty Granola with local, organic blueberries and Healthyway Dairy whole raw milk.  Oh sooo delicious!

Recent Real Food Houston posts include a look inside the ingredients in McDonald’s French fries plus a delicious new recipe.

Mcdonald's friesAn expose on Wired.com about McDonald’s restaurants prompted me to look into their French fries.  You may be surprised (maybe not if you are a regular reader) to learn just how they made them taste good after they switched from tasty, healthy beef tallow to vegetable oil in the 90′s.  Read more . . .

Slice of blueberry banana nut bread and butterAlso, if you like blueberries like I do, you will love my recipe for Blueberry Banana Nut Bread.  The combination of blueberries and banana just really works!


Now for the news . . .

  • First!  Learn how to ferment foods at a Fermentation Workshop and Demo hosted by The Last Organic Outpost. The co-hosts for the demo are Amy Robison and Ali Miller.  The demo will begin at Noon, Saturday, July 26th.  There is no charge to attend this event.  Read more . . .
  • The annual Houston Restaurant Weeks is coming up soon.  The 2014 Weeks will begin August 1 and run through September 1.  Local restaurants will feature special prix fixe meals with a portion of the price going to benefit the Houston Food Bank.  To find out which restaurants are participating go to HoustonRestaurantWeeks.com.
  • The trend to use local produce is a wonderful change that we should encourage.  At least six Houston restaurants are now growing at least some of the food they serve.  If you visit any of these restaurants tell them how much you like what they are doing.  They are Coltivare, Haven, The Grove, Osteria Mazzantini, Patrenella’s Italian Restaurant, Rainbow Lodge, and Zelko Bistro.
  • Do you really want to eat meat preserved this way?  Researchers (notice they are NOT cooks) have developed a new dissolving film to coat meat and protect it from spoilage.  The film is made of “pullulan – an edible, mostly tasteless, transparent polymer produced by the fungus reobasidium pulluns.”
  • This is sad news!  A pesticide in the neonicotinoid family that has been linked to bee colony collapse is now being blamed for a decline in bird populations.  The study published in the journal Nature found a correlation between pesticide concentrations in surface water and decreases in 14 bird species.  How much beauty would the world lose if the birds and butterflies disappeared?
  • Oh wow! There is such a lot of bad news about statins. It’s overwhelming.  When there are so few people who could be helped by taking statins, it is disturbing to learn of even more adverse side effects.  Why oh why do so many people who don’t need them take statins? Here are some of the latest findings:
    • In what I think may be the most alarming study, it was found that statins “may be causing significant and lasting damage to men’s testicles and sperm, and by implication, possibly the health of future generations.”  Link to study.
    • Another study found that statin use is particularly damaging to older people in the 70-90 age range.  the study has found a significantly greater decline in memory in those who take statins.
    • And a third large study shows that those who had high adherence to taking statins were more likely to get diabetes.
    • And still another study found that statin users are 13% more likely to contract common infections.
    • Here’s another one–statin use is found to increase the risk of osteoarthritis and joint pain by 26%.
  • Dallas might just stop adding fluoride to their water supply.  If so, it would be the largest city to remove this toxic industrial waste (usually sourced as a by-product of Chinese aluminum production) from their municipal water.  Apparently Dallas already has a fairly high natural fluoride content in their water at .5 ppm.  Adding more fluoride probably increases the incidence of fluorosis.
  • Does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? There is some evidence that wearing a tight-fitting bra may be harmful to health. In any case, it’s on the safe side to avoid wearing one as much as possible. I’ve stopped wearing one and wow, it’s sooo much more comfortable.
  • It helps to have nutrition researchers do a step-by-step debunking of common nutrition myths.  This week we have two knowledgeable sources with their top choices for nutrition information.  Authority Nutrition has compiled 15 Things That Everyone Needs to Know About Nutrition.  I especially like # 2, Everywhere The Western Diet Goes, Diseases Follow.  That echoes the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, whom he credits.  Dr. Mercola also has a great article about the Top 10 Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told.  Although I’m not sure I agree 100% with all of them (probably not with # 1), I do totally like the rest, including his # 2 nutrition lie–Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease.  Check out this “Honest Coca Cola Obesity Commercial” video that Dr. Mercola featured.  Real commercials are never this honest, but we might wish they were!

Not all news is bad! Here are some interesting stories on the brighter/lighter side.

  • An analysis of 323 studies has determined that organic foods are better for you.  They contain more antioxidants and less pesticide residue.  In addition, by buying organic food you support farmers who take better care of the land, and you avoid eating GMOs.  There are many good reasons to buy organic or beyond organic food.
  • Did you know.that there are easier ways to cut up foods?  Check out these videos that show you a better way to cut up 12 foods, including mangos, tomatoes, and avocados.  I will definitely try some of these.
  • Hilarious!  Have you seen all those beautiful photos of fancy foods on Pinterest?  Here are 24 attempts (and failures) to recreate those foods.  I’m not recommending eating these foods, but the photos are fun to look at.

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

Easy Peasy Cheese CrackersEasy Peasy Cheese Crackers If you are looking for a little crunch, try this easy peasy cheese cracker recipe. Only one ingredient–cheese slices.  You won’t be disappointed! From Healthy Living How To


Tomato Soup with only 2 ingredientsHealthy Tomato Soup Recipe With Only 2 Ingredients: Make healthy tomato soup with only two ingredients, diced tomatoes and coconut milk (or heavy cream). Popular condensed tomato soup from a can contains unhealthy stuff like high fructose corn syrup, wheat flour and flavoring. From Healthy Living How To

Low Carb Portuguese FocacciaLow Carb Portuguese Focaccia (Gluten-Free or Paleo). This focaccia recipe uses almond flour and sorghum flour and is low-carb and gluten-free.  To be totally grain-free, you can substitute arrowroot powder for the sorghum. From The Healthy Home Economist


Healthy Homemade NutellaHealthy Homemade Nutella If you have every gotten your hands on a jar of Nutella, you know that it does not last long. I start eating it by the spoonful and then it’s GAME OVER! But, this delicious indulgence is not very healthy. Even though the advertisements say that it is made from hazelnuts, cocoa and milk….that’s not really the case. from Real Food RN

Cheddar Jalapeno CrackersCheddar Jalapeno Crackers Grain-free crackers with the cheese already baked in, how perfect is that?  And it never hurts to kick up the flavor with a few hot peppers. from The Realistic Nutritionist



Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced PorkCANTONESE EGG CUSTARD WITH MINCED PORK A paleo version of this simple recipe for Cantonese-style savory egg custard with minced pork, asparagus, and mushrooms. from Nom Nom Paleo

Posted in Diabetes, Eggs, Ferments, Fluoride, Gluten-free, GMOs, Grain Free, Health, Nutrition, Organic Food, Paleo, Raw Milk, Real Food, Recipes, Research, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Reason McDonald’s French Fries Taste Good, and It’s Not Because They Use Real Food!

French friesIf you think McDonald’s French fries taste good because they are real food, take a look at these exposés from Wired.com, Care2, and Food Babe.  Today’s Wired.com article prompted me to do some research about those famous fries.  Although I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in many years, I still remember the fries as tasting much better than those at other fast food restaurants.  So what happened?

The story of McDonald’s fries takes a path similar to many of today’s processed and restaurant foods. Many of the Real Food ingredients have been replaced with factory-made, cheaper, more shelf stable substitutes so that calling the resulting products “food” is probably a stretch.  Certainly they are not Real Food!

Here’s what the McDonald’s website says is in their fries.

Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [Wheat and Milk Derivatives]*, Citric Acid
[Preservative]), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean
Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness), Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.
*Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients.

Let’s look at some of these ingredients.


The carefully selected, uniformly sized potatoes are par-cooked to remove excess sugars that cause uneven cooking. You will see later how they add back the sugar . . .

Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate

The potatoes are then treated with sodium acid pyrophosphate to retain color.  There don’t seem to be any major objections to this food additive, except you might take in excess phosphates if you eat a lot of processed foods, where it is a common additive.  In addition to maintaining color, it is also used to shorten (or lengthen) fermentation time in baked goods, increase shelf life, as “a buffering and chelating agent in canned and processed seafood,” and “as a scald agent in products made from potatoes and sugar syrups.”  [source]

Vegetable Oil and TBHQ

The taste of McDonald’s French fries “played a crucial role in the chain’s success — fries are much more profitable than hamburgers — and was long praised by customers, competitors, and even food critics.” Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, explains why McDonald’s French fries used to taste so good!

The taste of a french fry is largely determined by the cooking oil. For decades McDonald’s cooked its french fries in a mixture of about seven percent cottonseed oil and 93 percent beef tallow. The mixture gave the fries their unique flavor — and more saturated beef fat per ounce than a McDonald’s hamburger.  [Read much more about the original flavor of McDonald's fries.]

But, of course, the  misguided “saturated fat police” agitated for McDonald’s to switch to vegetable oil, which doesn’t taste nearly as good (nor is it as healthy either).  McDonald’s now uses a combination of “canola (about 8 percent saturated fat), soybean oil (16 percent), and hydrogenated soybean oil (94 percent)” in the factory, and “corn oil and an additive called TBHQ, or tertbutylhydroquinone” and citric acid for the second, in-store, frying.  [source]

For more information about why vegetable oils are so unhealthy, read here and here and here.


There’s no agreement about the safety of TBHQ although high doses have been linked to stomach tumors and DNA damage; however, no one can call TBHQ Real Food!  [read more about TBHQ here and here]

Citric Acid as a Preservative

Although McDonald’s doesn’t reveal its source for the citric acid preservative it uses in its fries, most commercial citric acid today is not the natural food you would expect from the name.  Instead of an extract of citrus fruits, it is derived from a process using corn that is probably GMO.

. . .the major industrial route to citric acid used today, cultures of A. niger [a fungus that causes black mold on certain fruits and vegetables] are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. The source of sugar is corn steep liquor, molasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions. After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid [source]


To replace the pleasant taste of potatoes fried in beef tallow, when they switched to vegetable oil, McDonald’s now doctor their fries with “‘Natural beef flavor,’ which contains hydrolyzed wheat and milk proteins.”  Hydrolyzed proteins are among many hidden sources of MSG.


Dimethylpolysiloxane has a wide range of uses from “contact lenses and medical devices to elastomers; it is also present in shampoos (as dimethicone makes hair shiny and slippery), food (antifoaming agent), caulking, lubricating oils, and heat-resistant tiles.” [source]  Here are some of the ways it is used in food.

Dimethylpolysiloxane is silicone based agent used as an anti-foaming, anti-caking agent, and emulsifier in processed foods. Dimethylpolysiloxane is found in many fast food restaurants to avoid deep frying oil from foaming increasing the life of the oil. Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used in soft drinks, instant coffees, chewing gum, vinegars, cooking oils, confectionary snacks, syrups and chocolates. Dimethylpolysiloxane is used in the manufacturing of skimmed milk and wine fermentation. It can also be found energy or electrolyte drinks. [source]

Although it is apparently not thought to be toxic, whatever it is, it is certainly not a traditional, Real Food!

Final Sugar Coating

To add back the naturally sweet taste of the potato which was removed by blanching at the factory, the fries are coated in a dextrose (corn-derived and probably GMO) solution after cooking.  [source]  Adding sugars is a common method of the processed food industry to make cheap, inferior foods taste better.

GMOs and Pesticides

On top of the unnatural ingredients and hidden MSG, the oils used are genetically modified and none of the ingredients are organic.  They probably contain traces of various herbicides and insecticides as extra unlisted ingredients.  Read more about GMOs here and here.

Are All These Ingredients and All That Processing Really Necessary?

Food Babe is super good at revealing the real story behind processed foods.  She learned that the French fries in McDonald’s in the United Kingdom aren’t prepared at all like those in the U.S.!  In the UK, McDonald’s fries have only four ingredients, plus salt, and one of the four–dextrose–is only added at the beginning of the season (maybe the potatoes aren’t as sweet then?)  Admittedly, the UK fries are cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils (canola/rapeseed and sunflower), but at least the oils aren’t hydrogenated.  If fries can be made with only four ingredients in the UK, why are ours so much more unhealthy?  Is it because McDonald’s can get away with it here?


I can’t talk about fried foods, especially potatoes, without mentioning the acrylamide that is formed during the high heat process.  Acrylamide was discovered by Swedish scientists in 2002. It is found in many foods but is especially common in starchy foods cooked at temperatures above 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  “Foods such as French fries and potato chips seem to have the highest levels of acrylamide, but it is also found in breads and other grain products. Acrylamide does not form (or forms at lower levels) in dairy, meat, and fish products.” [source] Some studies have shown adverse effects from high does of acrylamide, [source] so it is probably a good idea to eat starchy fried foods like potatoes only occasionally.

I’m glad I don’t eat at McDonald’s.  Do you?

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