Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've written several posts about the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) leacheing from plastic baby bottles, but a new investigation by Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that BPA is also used to line nearly all infant formula cans. BPA levels found in liquid formula are likely to be far higher than those that leach from bottles under normal use.

EWG contacted company officials at Nestlé, Ross-Abbot (Similac), MeadJohnson (Enfamil), Hain-Celestial (Earth's Best), and PBM (sold under various names at Walmart, Kroger, Target and other stores). Each company's policy was documented a minimum of three times; twice through detailed phone interviews, and once by an e-mail questionnaire. The results reveal that all manufacturers use BPA to line the metal portions of all infant formula containers, including powdered varieties.

"There is mounting scientific evidence that BPA is toxic, especially to children," said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director with Environmental Defence. "Governments should be acting quickly, starting with a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers."

Previous formula testing by EWG and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has shown that BPA leaches from the plastic lining of metal cans into liquid formula, exposing formula-fed babies to potentially harmful concentrations that are higher than levels leaching from the bottles. BPA levels in powdered formula sold in the United States haven't been tested, but this formula is diluted with water before being fed to babies, and thus poses less risk to babies.
In light of these findings, EWG has created an online guide for parents to help them make the most informed decisions about how they feed their babies.http://www.ewg.org/babysafe

McDonalds advertising on report cards!

Last week, elementary school students in Seminole County, Florida received their report cards in envelopes adorned with Ronald McDonald promising a free Happy Meal to students in kindergarten through fifth grade with good grades, behavior, or attendance.

Targeting children directly with the message that doing well in school should be rewarded by a Happy Meal undermines parents’ efforts to encourage healthy eating. If parents want to reward their kids for getting good grades, they should be able to decide what is appropriate. They don't need any help from a corporation whose real concern is its bottom line.

Visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/t/4886/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=21959 and tell McDonald's to stop advertising on report cards.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

vegan holiday baking

There are two great new books out of scrumptious vegan desserts.

"The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has tons of great recipes for everything from cookies to cakes to pies and more. The Strawberry Cupcakes were amazing!. Check out my full review at http://www.vegfamily.com/book-reviews/joy-of-vegan-baking.htm

Another great book just off the press is:

"My Sweet Vegan" by Hannah Kaminsky

Not only are the recipes amazing but each dessert has a full color photograph. This is a beautiful book and would make a wonderful holiday gift (but be sure to get one for yourself as well!)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

More on GE sugar

A new article in the New York Times (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_8656.cfm ) calls attention to the pending controversy of unlabeled, under-tested, genetically engineered sugar being laced into breakfast cereals, chocolates, and a wide variety of non-organic processed foods and beverages next year. In September, OCA posted an alert to pressure major buyers of sugar beets to boycott Monsanto's latest herbicide-resistant crop. The American Crystal company, the #1 white sugar provider in the U.S., along with Kellogg, have publicly announced they will welcome the biotech sweetener in early 2008.

American Crystal's CEO responded to the deluge of consumer emails asking him to not to go GE by turning off his email. If American Crystal won't listen, perhaps some of its major customers will. Send a letter to Hershey's, Mars, and Kellogg demanding they keep their sugar additives GE-free. Here's a link with more info and email address for those companies: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=12700

And of course keep in mind that your only real protection against GE sugar or any Genetically Modified Organism is to buy organic.

Safe todder sippy cups

I've posted a lot of info about the dangers of drinking from plastic - here's a great link to reviews of BPA-free sippy cups for your toddler:


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Farm to School Programs

My article 'Fresh Food Nation' published in Mothering Magazine gives information about existing farm to school programs around the US and suggestions on how to start one at your school. It was just put online at http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/food/fresh-food-nation.html

Friday, November 16, 2007

USDA allowing Candadian meat with high risk of mad cow

Beginning Monday, November 19, the USDA will allow Canadian cattle born after 1999 to enter the U.S., where they can be slaughtered and sold to Americans for meat. Previously, USDA only allowed cattle up to 2.5 years old to enter the country. Older cattle are believed to be at higher risk for carrying mad cow disease, in fact, at least five cases of mad cow disease have been detected in Canadian cattle born after 1999 according to Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Food Safety for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. He adds that "these cattle have been detected in a relatively small test program that tests only about one percent of slaughtered or dead Canadian cattle. How many more are there that are escaping detection?" If an infected animal does come across the border, it is very unlikely that the extremely small U.S. testing program, which tests just a tenth of a percent of beef that die or are slaughtered, would detect it.

In addition to going into the food supply, a cow's remains (like that of most slaughtered cattle) would be rendered and converted into pet food and feed for pigs and chickens. Because the remains of slaughtered pigs and chickens can be fed back to cattle, it is possible that the infectious agent could find its way into U.S. born cattle in the future.

"Allowing these cows to enter into the U.S. food system is a foolhardy course," Hansen said. "According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of mad cow disease is 30 times higher in Canadian than in U.S. cattle. USDA's plan to reopen the border to cows born after March 1999 puts both consumers and the livestock industry at risk."

As of now, there is no labeling of country of orgin on meat so consumers would not know if they were eating beef from Canadian cows or not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed bill to label products from cloned animals

The California Legislation passed a bill (SB 63) introduced by Senator Migen to require that meat and dairy products from cloned animals be clearly labeled as such. Unfortunately, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

"Governor Schwarzenegger's veto is a slap in the face to a majority of consumers who say they want milk and meat from cloned to be labeled," said Elisa Odabashian, Consumers Union’s West Coast Director. "Without labeling, not only will consumers be unable to choose whether or not to buy cloned food, but government food safety agencies will be unable to track any long-term impacts of cloned food on human health."

According to a recent survey by Consumers Union, more than 89 percent of Americans want food from cloned animals to be labeled. At the federal level, the groups, along with, the Consumer Federation of America, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, and Union of Concerned Scientists, are also urging the inclusion of a recent amendment concerning food products from cloned animals in the 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419). Amendment No. 3524, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Specter, would ensure that the potential human health, animal health, and economic impacts associated with animal cloning that are missing from the FDA's risk assessment are fully analyzed before any products derived from clones are introduced into the food market. The organizations are deeply concerned over the FDA's issuance of an inadequate draft risk assessment that endorses the safety of milk and meat derived from cloned animals and their progeny.

Experts say milk, cheese and other dairy products from cloned animals will be the first such food products to reach California stores, and will make up the vast majority of the cloned food market.

According to the Center for Food Safety, they will continue to work with California Legislators to get a labeling bill passed. Write to Governor Schwarzenegger and let him know we have the right to know where our food is coming from.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas

The November issue of VegFamily Magazine is now up at http://www.vegfamily.com/. Get some good ideas and recipes for a vegan thanksgiving -- and don't forget to check out my column on what to do with sweet potatoes at http://www.vegfamily.com/whole-family/sweet-potatoes.htm.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Paying more for organic or local is "dumb" according to Collin Peterson

From an MSNBC.com Financial Times Oct. 17, 2007 Collin Peterson, chairman of the House of Representatives agricultural committee, says the farm sector that raises organic produce and grass-fed beef for local consumers needs little federal help. "It is growing, and it has nothing to do with the government, and that is good," he told the FT. "For whatever reason, people are willing to pay two or three times as much for something that says 'organic' or 'local'. Far be it from me to understand what that's about, but that's reality. And if people are dumb enough to pay that much then hallelujah."

"For whatever reason" huh! Hm, I can think of a few:

- we don't want food laced with pesticides and herbicides
- we care abour our health
- we care about our plantet
- we care about the health and safety of our children
- we want to support farmers who grow sustainably
- organically grown food contains more nutrients
- local grown food tastes better because it's not bred to be shipped and stored
- we want to help combat global warming
- we want food that has not been genetically modified

Shall I go on?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New pesticide known to cause tumors

Farmers are supposed to be phasing out methyl bromide, a fumigant used on strawberries and other crops, because of it's ozone depleting chemicals - though the government keeps pushing for exemptions so that the US can continue to use it because they hadn't found a replacement.

Rather than helping farmers shift to growing methods that don't require toxic and harmful chemicals, the EPA has approved methyl iodide for widespread use in the U.S., putting farmworkers, families and rural communities at risk. Methyl iodide vaporizes quickly, causing it to drift far distances. The state of California has categorized it as cancer causing, and the EPA admits it causes thyroid tumors. In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on September 25, 2007, the nation's leading chemists asked EPA not to approve methyl iodide without further scientific review. The chemical has been used to induce cancer in laboratory experiments and causes neurological and thyroid problems, as well as miscarriages in studies with laboratory animals.

Strawberries and other crops can be grown successfully without toxic chemicals - farmers all around the world are doing it. Go to this link to send an email to the EPA asking them to revoke this decision:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Santa Cruz

I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Santa Cruz, California. What a cool place - the downtown is packed with eco friendly stores, thrift shops, and vintage clothing stores. Best of all, we found two amazing vegetarian restaurants that I highly recommend.

C'est La Vie was an upscale cafe with a menu of cooked and raw vegetarian foods. We tried the "live appetizer combo" which was amazing - spring rolls filled with veggies and wrapped in zucchini with they wonderful 'yum yum sauce' for dipping. Raw tortillas topped with this amazing cashew cheese, and a garbanzo-less hummus. For entrees, we tried the veggie burger made from nuts and grains, a Yummy Bowl - quinoa with veggies, tempeh and more 'yum yum sauce'. The kids split a big plate of black bean nachos and a cheese pizza. I wasn't brave enough to try the live pizza but next time, I will try all the live dishes. Judging by the appetizers, I'm sure they'll all be amazing. We didn't have room for dessert but the vegan coconut cream cake, chocolate mouse pie, and vegan banana split sounded great.

On Sunday, we checked out the Saturn Cafe. They had amazing brunch entrees to choose from with a choice of organic eggs or tofu. I had the vegan breakfast of scrambled tofu, potatoes, local sourdough toast and organic jam. My husband loved the breakfast burrito. One of my daughters had this amazing stuffed french toast - not too sweet and oh so good. My other daughter chose from the lunch menu - brown rice and tofu. For lunch and dinner, they have an amazing selection of vegan burgers offered with fries, shakes and all the regular 50's diner type fixings. This was a fun place to take the kids.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

alternative to plastic bottles

If you read my earlier post about the dangers of plastics and now you want to switch from those plastic baby bottles or water bottles, check out this site that I just found out about: http://www.glassforhealth.com/

I'm still on the lookout for stainless steel water bottles THAT DON'T LEAK for my kids to take to school - I found some aluminum ones but I'm not crazy about aluminum either - though I'm not sure if it's just founds heated in alumimum that cause problems or if water stored in them is bad too. Anyone know?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Great vegan web site and blog

I just found this great web site called http://www.compasionatecooks.com/ . You can find recipes, take classes and download podcasts. The web site's founder and author of the new book, "The Joy of Vegan Baking" has a blog at: http://www.compassionatecooks.com/blog/index.html . Check out her thoughts about Michael Pollans, "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New articles in VegFamily Magazine

Wondering about starting your baby on solid food? Check out my article in VegFamily Magazine at: http://www.vegfamily.com/babies-and-toddlers/starting-solids.htm.

My 'Whole Family' column this month is Almond Joy at http://www.vegfamily.com/whole-family/almond-joy.htm.

Toxic Chemicals found in Air Fresheners

Your air freshener may contain toxic chemicals known to cause birth defects. NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) recently tested 14 different air fresheners and found that 12 contained chemicals called phthalates, chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Even air fresheners marketed as "all-natural" or "unscented" contained the hazardous chemicals. In addition to phthalates, air fresheners may contain allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.

The air fresheners NRDC tested included aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continuous scent, and a solid. Of the 14 products tested by NRDC, there was wide variation in the level of phthalates contained. Three of the 14 products had very high levels-more than 100 parts per million (ppm)-including products that ranged from 360 ppm to 7,307 ppm. Only two products, Febreze Air Effects and Renuzit Subtle Effects, contained no detectable levels of phthalates. (NRDC only tested one sample of each product, and more thorough testing is necessary to confirm the levels detected.)

Phthalates are found in a wide array of consumer products, including cosmetics and fragrances, pharmaceuticals, vinyl children's toys, automobiles and paints. Phthalates are known to interfere with production of testosterone and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities. Pregnant women and children should avoid products that contain phthalates but because there are no labeling requirements it is virtually impossible for consumers to know which products may pose a risk.

For complete information about the test, go to the NRDC web site at: http://www.nrdc.org/health/home/airfresheners/contents.asp .

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Genetically Engineered Sugar - Due in stores 2008

American Crystal, a large Wyoming-based sugar company and several other leading U.S. sugar providers have announced they will be sourcing their sugar from genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets beginning this year and arriving in stores in 2008. Like GE corn and GE soy, products containing GE sugar will not be labeled as such. These sugars, along with GE corn and soy, are found in many conventional food products, so consumers will be exposed to genetically engineered ingredients in just about every non-organic multiple-ingredient product they purchase.

The GE sugar beet is designed to withstand strong doses of Monsanto's controversial broad spectrum Roundup herbicide. Studies show that farmers planting "Roundup Ready" corn and soy spray large amounts of the herbicide, contaminating both soil and water. Farmers planting GE sugar beets are told they may be able to apply the herbicide up to five times per year. Sugar beets are grown on 1.4 million acres by 12,000 farmers in the U.S. from Oregon to Minnesota.

To let American Crystal know what you think about this, go to: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=12700

Monday, September 03, 2007

School Lunch Ideas

For ideas for lunches to pack for your kids, check out my article in VegFamily Magazine at http://www.vegfamily.com/whole-family/lunchbox.htm . Also in this issue, get tips for getting your kids to eat more veggies at http://www.vegfamily.com/marriage-family/eat-vegetables.htm .

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bagged Spinach Recall

Less than a year after the E. Coli spinach recall, a California company on Wednesday recalled more than 8,000 cartons of fresh spinach after a positive test for salmonella contamination. This just confirms my resolve to buy local, unpackaged produce from farmers I know and trust.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby Carrot Recall

Baby carrots from Los Angelos Salad Company are being recalled because they are contaminated with the bacteria Shigella. The product was sold under two different labels:

The first is "Los Angeles Salad Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots" distributed by King Soopers in Colorado; Ralphs in California; and Publix in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. These were sold in plastic bags in 7 and 8 oz. sizes, with Sell By Dates up to August 16, 2007.

The second label was "Trader Joe's Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots" distributed by Trader Joe's in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington in 7 oz. plastic bags with Sell By Dates up to August 8, 2007.

Infection by the bacteria Shigella can cause diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, with the illness usually lasting from four to 14 days. Infections can be passed from person to person.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More on plastic

I've been getting a lot of questions about plastic - why exactly is it bad; are any types safe. Here's some information:

Although the FDA has approved all plastics currently being used to package food, they might not all be safe - like the softer plastics, called thermoplastics, including polyester, polystryrene (styrofoam), nylon, teflon, and PVC. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is of the greatest concern because it is used for water pipes and many types of food packaging, including plastic cling wrap.

PVC's molecules are know carcinogens that affect the liver, have been linked to birth defects, and interfere with hormonal activity. Some researchers believe they're also linked to increased incidences of breast and prostate cancers.

Now if those molecules stayed in the packaging, there would be no problem - however, they leach from some types of plastics into our food and drinks. With heat or fat, even more chemicals are released.

There are seven types of plastics used in packaging and fortunately, there is a recycling number on the bottom of containers to identify which type is being used.


#3 PVC or vinyl: Used in plastic wraps, food containers, soft bottles, wrappings for meat and cheese. It is made with chlorine and releases dioxins which have been linked to cancer (including breast and prostate), hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune disease, weight problems, and chronic fatigue. Phthalates, which make the plastic flexible and used in products ranging from shampoo to floor coverings, have recently been cited in a study that linked their exposure to smaller genitals in infant boys and an increase in testicular cancer about adults.

#6 Polystyrene or styrofoam: Used as takeout containers, plastics cups, and cutlery. Its components leach into fatty foods and are believed to interfere with hormones.

#7 Misc. category that includes polycarbonate (PC): Used for most clear-plastic bottles, including 5-gallon water bottles and baby bottles. When heated, they release BPA, a hormone disrupter that imitates the femail hormone estradiol which may be linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The US Centers for Disesase Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of 95% of Americans tested.


#1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
#2 High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
#4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
#5 Polypropylene (PP)

But to play it really safe, go for non plastic options like glass or stainless steel as much as possible.

And if anyone discovers a stainless steel water bottle that DOES NOT LEAK - please let me know.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Danger of plastics

While scientists and environmental activists have been concerned about the dangerous effects of chemicals in plastic for some time, finally an official goverment agency may recommend action. According to an article in the August 9th LA Times, a federal panel of scientests concluded that an estrogen-like compound in plastic could be posing risks to the brain development of infants and children. BPA, a component of polycarbonate plastic, can leach from baby bottles and other hard plastic containers, food can linings, and other consumer products (including water bottles.)

The biggest risk, according to the panel, is for fetuses, pregnant women, infants, and children. Low doses of BPA cause structural changes in the brain that trigger learning deficits and hyperactivity. There is also some concern that it harms the prostate gland and causes premature puberty. Some studies found altered brain development, precancerous changes in prostates and mammary glands, low sperm counts, and damage to the uterus but Plastics industry reps say the experiments were flawed and inconclusive. Many animal studies that found reproductive effects were rejected because the animals were exposed through injections rather than diet.

Hopefully, the final report will trigger a review of BPA by California officials under Proposition 65, which requires warnings on consumer products that pose risk of cancer or reproductive harm.

In the meantime, avoid using plastic food containers as much as possible. Never put hot food in plastic or use plastic dishes in the microwave. I don't use plastic to store any liquids. I use glass or stainless steel - even for water bottles. I also try not to purchase any liquid food packaged in plastic but that continues to become harder and harder to do. Foods like juice, peanut butter, and ketchup are more and more frequently available only in plastic containers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The more I read about the watering down of organic standards, the more I’ve been rethinking my food choices. It seems that most organic food is being produced by huge corporate farms and megacorporations. Those are not the industries I want to support with my food dollars. In the last year, I’ve been buying as much as possible from local farmers who may not be certified organic but who grow their crops using organic and sustainable methods. I feel I’m getting a better quality food and supporting my own community – and hopefully contributing less to global warming since my food doesn’t have to travel miles to get to me.

So when I heard Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite authors) had a new book out and it was about eating locally, I knew I had to read it. And it did not disappoint.

Kingsolver and her family left their Arizona home to move to a farm in southern Appalachia. They no longer wanted to live in a state where virtually all the food and water was trucked in from somewhere else. They chose Virginia because (among other reasons) they wanted to live in a place that could feed them. A place “where rain falls, crops grow, and drinking water bubbles right up out of the ground.”

After nearly a year of settling in, fixing up the house, and planting their gardens, they embarked on their one-year mission to eat only food they grew themselves or what was raised in their own neighborhood. Kingsolver takes us through the work of raising a garden that would feed them throughout the year. We see the work involved in weeding and caring for the plants, harvesting, and preserving them. This book is a great lesson on when various foods are in season (hard to know if you shop at supermarkets).

The family also raises laying hens, as well as chickens and turkeys for meat. Kingsolver and her family have for many years eaten only non-factory farmed meat and felt good about raising their own animals. They would give their animals “freedom on an open pasture that’s unknown to conventionally raised poultry.” Kingsolver also responded to a Slow Food USA campaign to bring back heritage turkeys. Unlike the conventional Broad-Breasted White Turkey commonly raised in industrial settings, the heritage turkeys can actually support their own weight and reproduce naturally. In addition, these birds retain more of their wild ancestors’ sense about foraging, predator avoidance, and are more disease resistant.

Kingsolver’s husband Steven L. Hopp’s short essays provide information throughout the book on subjects such as the fossil fuel used to produce and ship our food, world hunger, genetically modified foods, family farms vs. industrial farms, industrial animal food production, paying the price for cheap, industrial-grown foods, the effectiveness of using pesticides and herbicides, mad cow disease, and much more. He provides resources to get more information as well as ways to take action. Kingsolver’s college-aged daughter, Camille provides recipes and anecdotes about the experience from a teenager’s point of view.

This book was inspiring. I was encouraging to hear about people who care about what they eat and how it’s produced. To find people who care about the environment and how our choices affect it and others. I don’t know if I’m ready to spend my summers hoeing, weeding and canning on a full time basis, but I will certainly take the time to seek out local farmers and support stores who carry local products.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Farm to School Programs

My article entitled "Fresh Food Nation" about farm to school programs is in the current (July/August) issue of Mothering Magazine. In the article, I profile a few schools that have sucessful farm to school programs and also give information about how to get a program started at your school.

Mothering is available at most large natural foods stores and books stores. For info on how to subscribe, go to http://www.mothering.com/.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Salads

For ideas for summer salads to bring to your picnic or barbeque, check out this article in VegFamily Magazine: http://www.vegfamily.com/whole-family/summer-salads.htm

BOOK REVIEW: Vegan Vittles Second Helpings

In this new expanded edition of the popular "Vegan Vittles," Stepaniak has broadened each section of the book to include many new recipes for alternatives to animal-based foods. With recipes for homemade veggie "meats" and "cheeses" to scrumptious egg and dairy substitutes, eating vegan is easier and yummier than ever. "Vegan Vittles Second Helpings" includes hearty breakfast fare like Phenomenal French Toast, Eggless Omelets, and Muffins That Taste Like Donuts (they really do!). For lunch, try the Boneless Chickenless Chicken Salad (made with tofu), Chickpea Tuna Salad, Radical Rueben, or a Sloppy Lenny (a lentil based version of a Sloppy Joe). There is even a recipe for Gooey Grilled Cheez which looks surprisingly like the real thing. It tastes rather unusual however—imagine tahini, lemon juice, ketchup, and nutritional yeast flakes mixed together. My husband and I found it tasty enough but the kids didn't care for it. Maybe more ketchup and less nutritional yeast flakes next time...My favorite section, Soups, Chowders, and Stews, offers easy, nourishing options like Sadie's Vitality Broth made with chickpeas and orzo pasta, Butternutty Chowder, and Elegant Broccoli Bisque. We especially loved the Cheez Please Soup made with potatoes, carrots, silken tofu, and soymilk, puréed into a thick cheesy tasting soup and garnished with steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (I learned my lesson and used less nutritional yeast flakes than called for and my children had 3 bowlfuls each!) We also loved the Creamy Potato Kale Soup.Main dishes include Sweet and Sour Tempeh, Southern-Fried Tofu, Classic Quiche, Macaroni and Cheez, Baked Stuffed Shells, Pot Roast and much more. We tried the Gardener's Pie (a tofu-based version of Shepherd's Pie) and it was wonderful. I served it with Savory Chickpea Gravy from the Sauces and Gravies section. A small selection of side-dishes includes Twice-Baked Potatoes, Garlicky Greens, and Coconut Rice. There are also recipes for salads and dressings like Warm Salad Nicoise, Fiesta Coleslaw, and Ceasar Salad.I tried a few of the tempting desserts offered in the Happy Endings section of the book. The Poppy Seed Cake was moist, tasty, and just sweet enough. The Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were crunchy and delicious. I still have many I want to make like the Ultra-Fudgey Fudge Brownies, Grandmother's Spice Cake, and the Peach Kuchen.The recipes in the book are clear and easy to follow. An ingredients guide explains foods that may be unfamiliar. Besides recipes, the book defines veganism, debunks common farm animal industry myths, and relates heartwarming rescue stories of animals now living happily at Farm Sanctuary. This cookbook would be inspiring and helpful to all vegan cooks.

Review as seen on http://www.vegfamily.com/

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


“Super Natural Cooking” by Heidi Swanson is an exciting and tasty introduction the world of whole foods. The book has an unusual arrangement. Rather than lumping appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, and desserts into sections – the book is rather arranged like a course on natural foods cooking. The book begins with instructions for building a natural foods pantry – what foods to include and what to avoid, including flours, oils, sweeteners, spices and seasonings.

Then she moves on to whole grains, beginning first with information about the different types of grains (helpful because many may be unfamiliar), she then moves on to recipes. There are baked goods like Seed-Crusted Amaranth Biscuits and Espresso Banana Muffins; soups like Toasted Wheat Germ Soup and Creamy Wild Rice Soup. The Spring Minestrone with Brown Rice made with fresh asparagus and snap peas has been a regular for us on Fridays when I get my box of produce from the local CSA. We also loved the Risotto-Style Barley made with crème fraiche and lemon zest.

Next, Swanson encourages us to “Cook by Color.” This section is all about fruits and vegetables – brimming with essential phytonutrients (don’t worry if you’re not sure what they are, it’s explained in the book.) Recipes include Baked Purple Hedgehog Potatoes (your kids will love these), Red Indian Carrot Soup, Curried Tofu Scramble, and Crema de Guacamole with Crunch Topopos.

If those foods weren’t healthy enough, the next section teaches you to “Know Your Superfoods:” alliums, cruciferous vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, sea vegetables, sprouts, tea, and yogurt. Dishes include Beluga Lentil Crostini, Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers, and Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts. My family absolutely loved the Creamy Cauliflower Soup.
Of course even natural foods eaters love their desserts and there a plenty of good ones here as Swanson presents a section on natural sweeteners. There are recipes for Thin Mint Cookies, Spiced Caramel Corn and Ginger-Amaranth Shortbread. The Dairyless Chocolate Mousse is so rich and decadent, no one will believe it was made with tofu. The biggest hit of the desserts for us – I’ve already made it several times – was the Raspberry Curd Swirl Cake. My gosh, it was good. I couldn’t find Raspberry Curd at Trader Joe’s so I used Lemon Curd and it was wonderful. Really, really great.

Whether you are already into natural foods like I am (but there were ingredients here I’ve never tried like wild rice flour, teff and farro) or completely lost in a natural foods store but want to know more, this book will work for you. The recipes are very “normal” and nonthreatening – like chocolate chip cookies with a bit of mesquite flour millet-fried “rice.” In other words, comfortable favorites with a little twist. Swanson does an excellent job of explaining the ingredients (and offering substitutions if you are unable to find some of the more uncommon ones). This books is vegetarian – many recipes use dairy products but there are some great vegan recipes as well.

If you’re into cookbooks, check out Swanson’s blog at http://www.101cookbooks.com/ .

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The high cost of cheap ingredients

I've already written about the contaminated gluten from China (which caused all the pet deaths) making it's way into food for humans - well some food suppliers are getting nervous about other food additives from China - and YOU SHOULD BE TOO.

According to an article in the May 18th LA Times, China has become the world's leading supplier of food flavorings, vitamins, and preservatives - in fact many food additivies are available in vast quantities only from China. China is now the most predominant maker of Vanillin (a vanilla flavoring), Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid, B vitamins (commonly added to processed flour goods), and Xylitol.

The problem is that China's overall food safety record is very poor. Use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticies is heavy; and fraud and corruption often thwart the lax controls that do exist. Also, many small companies don't register their products as nonfood items, thus avoiding supervision. Since many food additivies also have industrial applications (e.g. citric acid is also used as a cleaner), they can get away with this. In recent years, US officials have issued alerts about Chinese honey tainted with a harmful antibiotic, Chinese candy containing sulfites that can cause fatal allergic reactions, and infant forumula missing vital nutrients which left a dozen babies dead in 2004.

A further problem is that many US food manufacturers don't even know where all their ingredients originate. Most packaged foods contain dozens of items from around the word acquired though a complex network of traders and brokers. For example, a Hostess Twinkie contains 39 ingredients - including vitamin B compounds, sorbic acid, red and yellow colorings - most likely made in China according to Steve Ettlinger, author of the book "Twinkie, Deconstructed." He asserts that not only do food manufacturers not know the origin of all the ingredients in their products, they don't want to know. "The more you know, the pickier you get and the more it costs," he said.

So what can you do - stay away from processed foods would be the ideal. And (hope I'm not sounding like a broken record) - shop ORGANIC.

Otherwise, call or write the food manufacturers and tell them not to get ingredients from China. Mission Food Corp. and Tyson Foods, Inc. are bowing to consumer fears and have put out a directive to get no more ingredients from China - whether they'll be able to accomplish this is questionable but it's a start.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another sneaky attempt to weaken organic standards

The USDA has announced a proposal to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products bearing the "USDA Organic" seal. Most of the ingredients are food colorings derived from plants that they say are not "commercially available" in organic form. But at least three of the proposed ingredients, backed by beer giant Anheuser-Busch, pork and food processors, represent a serious threat to organic standards, and have raised the concerns of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as well as a number of smaller organic companies and organic certifiers. For example, they want to allow:
- Conventionally grown hops, produced with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, to be used in beers labeled as "USDA Organic"
- Conventionally raised factory-farmed animals' intestines (I'll spare you the gory details of what thes animals have been fed) as casing for sausages labeled as "organic."

Then the sneaky part - rather than the standard 30-60 days for public comment, the USDA has indicated they will only be accepting public comments for seven days.

If this concerns you, go to http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11401 for more information or to write to the USDA.

Monday, May 07, 2007

VegFamily Magazine is back!

VegFamily Magazine is up and running again under new management. Cynthia Mosher, web master extraordinaire for www.mothering.com, has now taken on VegFamily. Check out the cool new format and stay tuned for other exciting new changes she will make. Check out this month's issue at www.vegfamily.com - and be sure to check out my column: The Whole Family, where I highlight a different whole food every month with lots of cooking tips and recipes.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Unlabeled irradiated foods

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new federal regulations that will allow manufacturers and retailers to sell controversial irradiated foods without labeling them, as previously required by law. Consumers are justifiably wary of foods bombarded with nuclear waste or powerful x-rays or gamma rays--since irradiation destroys essential vitamins and nutrients, creates unique radiolytic chemical compounds never before consumed by humans, and generates carcinogenic byproducts such as formaldehyde and benzene. Although irradiation, except for spices, is banned in much of the world, and prohibited globally in organic production, U.S. corporate agribusiness and the meat industry desperately want to be able to secretly "nuke" foods in order to reduce the deadly bacterial contamination that is now routine in industrial agriculture and meat production.

The Organic Consumers Association and other public interest groups have repeatedly pointed out that the best way to reduce or eliminate America's 78 million cases of food poisoning every year would be to clean up the nation's filthy slaughterhouses and feedlots, stop contaminated runoff from intensive confinement feedlots from polluting adjacent farms (as in the recent spinach e-coli outbreak), and to stop feeding animals slaughterhouse waste and manure. Instead, FDA and corporate agribusiness have apparently decided, with the backing of the nuclear power and weapons industry, to take away consumers' rights to know if their food has been irradiated or not.

Let the FDA that you want to know how your food is processed. For more information and a link to the FDA, go to: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11102

No more raw almonds

Arg! This is so frustrating. Instead of demanding that big food processing facilities properly manage their operations so food is kept clean, the USDA wants to use pasterization and irradition to put a band-aid on the problem.

In response to 2 salmonella outbreaks within the last 10 years related to raw almonds, the USDA wants to now require all almonds to be pasturized using chemical and/or high temperature treatments. Not only will this expensive procedure force many small and family farms out of business, it is also upsetting to consumers (like me) who want raw, organic almonds free of chemicals and with all the nutrients and enzymes that would be killed by high heat intact. And even worse, these pastuerized nuts will still be labeled as "raw".

For more info and how to take action, go to: http://cornucopia.org/index.php/238

Contaminated Pet Food moving into Human Food Supply

The FDA and USDA, the federal agencies responsible for protecting the nation's food supply, said on Monday that contaminated wheat gluten from China was used in chicken feed on about 30 Indiana poultry farms and that all the broilers fed contaminated pet food have since been processed.

Imported rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten have been found to contain melamine, the USDA and the FDA said the byproducts from pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten imported from China were also used in chicken feed on eight breeder poultry farms in the state. Melamine is a cheap protein additive Chinese farmers use, and is blamed for a rash of deaths among pets in the United States. Just recently, several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans.

Investigators are tracking streams of the contaminated food through several states.
"Our sense is that the investigation will lead to additional farms where contaminated feed may have been fed to either animals or poultry," said Kenneth Petersen of the Agriculture Department Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Officials said the FDA has received 17,000 reports of pets that owners believe were sickened or killed by contaminated food. About 8,000 reports, roughly half of them involving animals that died, have been formally entered into the FDA's tracking system for further analysis.

And what other action are our government agencies taking to protect consumers from the contaminated meat? None. They say the risk to humans is "minimal" even though all these pets have been dying. However, this should be reassuring to know: "The USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation's food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed," the agencies said in a joint statement. "If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Independent Testing for Mad Cow Disease May Be Allowed

Remember last year when Creekstone Farms, a meatpacker in Kansas, wanted to test all of its cows for mad cow disease at its own expense. Then the Department of Agriculture, who currently administers the test to less than 1 percent of all slaughtered cows, threatened them with prosecution. It seems that larger meat companies were afraid that given the choice between tested beef and untested, the consumers might chose the safe beef.

Well, on Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the federal government must allow meatpackers to test their animals for mad cow disease if they so choose and does not have the authority to regulate the test. Robertson put his order on hold until the government can appeal. If the government does not appeal by June 1, he said the ruling would take effect.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain.There have been three cases of mad cow disease in the U.S. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a Texas-born cow. The third was confirmed last year in an Alabama cow. After the first case of mad cow disease heightened concern about the disease, the department increased its testing for the disease to about 1,000 tests each day. Last July, the department cut its testing by about 90 percent.

No more labeling of rBGH-free milk

Monsanto issued a press release asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to punish dairies that label their milk "rBGH-free." Monsanto has a history of trying to intimidate independent-minded dairies and bottlers who do not want use their growth hormones. Obviously, Monsanto feels threatened by increasing consumer demand for rBGH-free milk, the increasing number of dairies that label milk "rBGH-free", and the increasing number of farmer who have rejected rBGH, and is attempting to use the Federal Government as tool of intimidation.

Find out more information and sign a petition demanding that Monsanto:

- Stop intimidating small family farmers.
- Stop force-feeding untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods on consumers.
- Stop using billions of dollars of US taypayers' money to subsidize genetically engineered crops - cotton, soybeans, corn, and canola.

Go to: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm

Friday, March 30, 2007

Beef consumption during pregnancy may affect children

According to a study by Dr. Shanna H. Swan of the Universtiy of Rochester Medical Center, men whose mother’s ate a lot of beef during pregnancy had a sperm count about 25% below normal and three times the normal risk of fertility problems. They think it’s because of the hormones found in beef.

Six growth-promoting hormones (one of which are steroids) are routinely used in cattle production in the US and Canada and at the time of slaughter not all of them have been metabolized. Although the FDA limits the amount of hormone residue allowed, the limits may need to be reexamined based on this study.

In the meantime, if you eat beef – stick to grass-fed or organically-fed beef.

Mixing food and medicine

The USDA has given preliminary approval for Vetreia Bioscience to plant up to 3,200 acres of the modified rice in Geary County, Kansas. If the approval stands, Ventria will begin by planting 450 acres this spring. The GE rice contains immune proteins that have been shown to help children recover faster from severe diarrhea. It is seeking FDA approval to add the protein to foods such as yogurt and granola.

My first question is - why do we want to add this drug to a food? Why not just give the children who need the it the drug in medicine form? Those who are not sick would not want to (nor should they) consume this drug but once it is incorporated into a plant, the potential for contamination of other rices is practically assured.

Previously, Ventria had sought to grow the rice in Missouri, but Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. (the country's foremost rice buyer) threatened to boycott all rice from the state. Anheuser-Busch had the same concern as many critics of genetically engineered plants, which is that genes from engineered varieties may spread to and "genetically pollute" non-engineered or even wild relatives of the plants. In fact, the same day that the USDA gave the new rice the green light, it announced that rice seed in Arkansas had become contaminated by a different genetically engineered strain not approved for consumption. This was discovered while investigating the widespread contamination of rice in the U.S. with yet another genetically modified strain.

So what is the USDA thinking? In whose best interest was this decision made? Certainly not the farmer or the consumers.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Where's the fruit?

Here's an interesting study done by the Prevention Institute. They studied 37 products that pictured or referenced fruit on the packaging and found that the majority of products actually contained little or no fruit at all.

Think Strawberry Splash Yoplait Go-Gurt Yogurt sound like a healthy snack for your kids? Not only does it contain NO fruit, it is full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, and for you vegetarians - be warned - it contains gelatin. Other products found to have no fruit at all included: Trix Strawberry Kiwi Yogurt, Tang products, Berry Berry Kix, Froot Loops, Post Fruity Pebbles, Fruity Cheerios, Starbursts, and more. Juice drinks like Sunny Delight contain only 5% juice, Hi-C and Capri Sun Strawberry juice drinks contain only 10% juice.

Read the full study here: http://alerts.organicconsumers.org/trk/click?ref=zqtbkk3um_1-8ex3110x3327218&

Don't judge your meat by its color!

If you - like most consumers - think you can judge the freshness of your meat by its pink color, think again. Chances are your non-organic U.S. beef has been injected with carbon monoxide to make it appear fresh and pink. Carbon monoxide injection makes even rancid meats appear fresh. The FDA approved this process without any public comment period, ignoring overwhelming evidence that artificial meat coloring is blatantly misleading to consumers.

For more information, check out this short video: http://hightowerdownload.com/node/26

Monday, February 12, 2007

Book Review: Vegan Lunchbox

I expected this book to be good as I was already a big fan of the vegan lunchbox blog (www.veganlunchbox.com) but WOW! This cookbook is so much more than I expected, so much more than the title even suggests.

This book is now the first thing I turn to when I am looking for something for dinner - and if I'm lucky, there may be some leftovers for the lunchbox the next day. As I read through the book, I began marking pages of recipes I wanted to try but I soon stopped . . . because I found that I wanted to try just about every single one. I figured I'd just cook my way through the whole book. So far we've tried:

Back to School Chocolate Chip Cookies: Wonderful - chewy and tasty. I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup brown and 1/3 light sucanet and they were plenty sweet enough.
My family's rating: *****

Pumpkin Carob Chip Muffins: I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup and omitted the carob chips (since my kids don't like them). They were great. I stuck them in a freezer so they're easy to add to lunches whenever I want. Also, if you want to use a whole can of pumpkin so you're not stuck with 3/4 cup leftover, double all the ingredients and add 1/4 cup apple sauce. I also needed an additional 1/3 cup water as the batter was too dry.
My family's rating: *****

Chickpea Salad: An amazing mixture of flavors and textures. I added chopped green apples tossed in lemon juice and used sliced almonds instead of pecans. My family was not as enthralled as I was but I think it's because I overcooked the garbanzo beans when roasting them. I think next time, I won't bother with the roasting step. I liked the roasted garbanzo's fresh from the oven but they seemed to get rubbery when cooled.
My family's rating: ***

Sneaky Momma's Black Bean Soup: Yummy, yummy, quick and so easy. I recommend doubling this because there was only enough for three of us for a Saturday lunch.
My family's rating: *****

Blueberry Lemon Mini-Scones: Another big hit. I used all whole wheat pastry instead of part white flour and they were still light and yummy. Like all the baked recipes I tried, I needed more liquid than the recipe called for - closer to 3/4 cup soymilk. I also found that Trader Joe's frozen organic wild blueberries work great in this recipe (as well as blueberry pancakes) because they're small.
My family's rating: *****

Chili Con "Carne": This is great because you make it in the crock pot and it's ready for dinner. We ate it over corkscrew pasta- and leftovers went to school the next day. I omitted the TVP because I don't like to use soy isolates, so I reduced the water to 4 cups. I also did not have tomato paste so I used 1 cup tomato sauce. I also added a cup of frozen corn at the end. It was yummy. I think next time I would double this as it barely filled half my crock pot.
My family's rating: ****

Mini Pizzas: My daughter wanted pizza for her birthday dinner so we made these. The crust recipe was excellent - the cornmeal makes it crispy and the girls had a great time rolling out and topping their own pizzas. We did not, however, try the topping suggestions in the book - the girls wanted pineapple and black olives. Leftover slices made it to the lunchbox the next day and were devoured.
My family's rating: *****

Phyllo Triangles: Fun to make and delicious. We made these with tofu and spinach. My girls agreed with the footnote about the tester's daughter that said there was a bit too much crust. Next time, I will try the 'Phyllo Bundles" version or else just try using 2 sheets of phyllo dough rather than 3. We had these for dinner with soup and have plenty left for lunches.
My family's rating: ****

Aloo Samosas: These were just so good. They were first of all so much fun to make with the girls and we all just devoured them for a Sunday evening dinner. The girls both saved one for lunch the next day but could have easily eaten them. This would be another good recipe to double. Also, I used a large carrots instead of one of the potatoes and that made them really pretty and delicious.
My family's rating: *****+

Massur Dal and Carrot Soup: Yummy lentil and carrot soup with coconut milk. Everybody just loved it for dinner and there was just enough left for lunchboxes.
My family's rating: *****

I just love the way this book is written. McCann puts together entire lunch menus and for the items you don't make yourself, she gives suggestions of brands. Tidbits and stories are scattered throughout the book, such as: "How much to Pack," "Fitting In [for vegan kids]," "Let's Hear It for Legumes," and my favorite "And then, a miracle occurred . . . " about the momentous event of McCann's son eating his first salad. McCann has such an engaging way of writing that it's enjoyable just to read through this book.

This is really a great cookbook - and definitely not just for lunches. It's great whether or not you have children, whether or not you're vegan. The recipes are creative and delicious and very well tested. My only critism of the book (and this is really nitpicking) is that I would have liked a better index. If you don't know the exact name of the recipe, it's really hard to find it in the index. But that is just a minor detail and would not in the least deter me from whole heartedly recommending this truly excellent book. I have shelves and shelves full of cookbooks and this is the one I am turning to most.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Review: "Dairy Free Made Easy"

If you are trying to avoid dairy products in your diet, you may have found the excellent Web site: www.godairyfree.org. The site is constantly updated with product reviews, articles, announcements, discounts, etc. To make the information even more accessible, the sites founder, Alisa marie Fleming has put together a book entitled "Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living."

This well-researched book gives detailed information about dairy products - what they are, how they are processed, what is so special about dairy milk anyway, and answers questions about organic vs. conventional dairy products.

For those avoiding dairy products for health reasons, there is extensive information about allergies, lactose intolerance, whether dairy can help you to lose weight or to gain it, whether there is a link between consuming dairy products and certain cancers, acne, migraines, and other ailments. There is also great information about infant milk allergies and steps to prevent food allergies in babies. Fleming includes information about why breastfeeding is so important but she gives a comprehensive breakdown of infant formulas on the market with the pros and cons of the various choices.

Probably the most common concern of those giving up dairy products is where will they get their calcium. Fleming does an excellent job of dispelling the myth that dairy products are the best source of calcium (they're NOT!) and gives excellent advise for getting calcium from food and choosing a supplement if you feel you need one.

Fleming goes on to list non-dairy alternatives for milk, cream, cheese, etc., recommending products you can buy but also including easy ways to make the substitutions yourself. There is a small section of recipes with some yummy sounding dishes like "Easy Dairy-free Lasagna, Cream of Mushroom Soup (I can't wait to make that one!), 5-Star Ranch Dressing, Chocolate Tofu Ice Cream and Dairy-free Cheesecake.

Another really excellently done section is the chapter on dining out. Fleming goes through the various kinds of restaurants and lists dairy-free options for each, for example, she says that most dishes at Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese) are dairy-free though they may contain eggs. At Mexican restaurants, she suggests tacos, fahitas, tamales, and burritos - but tell them to hold the cheese and sour cream. More importantly (I think), she clues you into dishes that you might think are dairy-free but aren't, e.g. she tells you to "Skip the Tandoor and kabob entrees. Though they may appear dairy free, these specialities are typically meats and/or vegetables marinated in yogurt." For curries, Fleming recommends going to a Thai restaurant as Indian curries are usually made with cream.

Other helpful sections in the book tell how to decode food lables, lists of ingredients that really mean dairy (e.g. lactose, caseinate, whey), and foods that may contain dairy - some that even surprised me like tuna fish, chewing gum, chicken broth, and breath mints!

A large portion of the book is dedicated to profiling non-dairy products (over 2,000). A nice feature is that the products are ALL free of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. (YAY!) The foods are listed in a chart format that lets you know if the product is in stores on can be purchased online, if it's gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, processed on dairy-free equipment, and is kosher certified.

The book also lists resources for finding dairy-free products and cookbooks. Although this book is not vegan, it is an excellent resource for vegans and anyone avoiding dairy. If you suffer from severe dairy allergies, I would say this is a definite must-have.

One more thing - if you order the book through www.godairyfree.org, they'll send you a whole bunch of coupons for dairy-free products. Also, as an added bonus for my loyal blog readers, you can get a 10% discount by using the coupon code "DairyFree10" at checkout - or give them the coupon code if ordering by phone (and tell they you heard about the book from this blog). The book is also available at www.amazon.com.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

GE Wine

Another new genetically modified food is scheduled to come to market this year: wine made with genetically modified yeast. As with other genetically engineered food, there will be no labeling required on wines that contain gene-altered yeast. The FDA has carried out no studies of its own on the experimental yeast, and yet has approved it as "safe," based completely on data provided by the company selling the product. According to Dr. Joseph Cummins, emeritus genetics Professor at the University of Western Ontario, wine yeasts are unstable, and genetically altering them can lead to unexpected toxicity in the final product. He states that there is no evidence that the developer did any animal feeding studies to test for such toxicity and that there is no proof that the yeast and yeast DNA will not be present in the wine.

To further complicate the problem, since wines containing GM ingredients are not labeled, people wishing to avoid them may have to boycott all US wines - or buy only organic of which there is not a very wide selection (though I like Frey Wines and Well Red which are organic). The other - and more pressing I think - problem is that even if just a few wineries’ choose to use the GM yeast, it could contaminate native and traditional wine yeasts through the air, surface waste and water runoff.

I urge you to contact your local and favorite wineries and urge them not to use GM yeast.

For a good article about this in the Napa Valley Register, go to http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2006/12/12/opinion/commentary/doc457eba649e8e0569076997.t

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Meat and dairy from CLONED animals coming soon

Every person who eats processed foods and non-organic meat and dairy is ingesting gentically modified foods whether they know it or not. Soon, another untested and shaky technolgy will be infiltrated into our food stream - meat and milk from cloned animals. The FDA's decision to allow the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals is another example of the agency’s yielding to industry pressure and disregarding consumer safety.

With only a handful of studies and long-term evidence, the safety of eating milk and meat from cloned animals is far from proven. Concerns about the lack of data on eating food from cloned animals led the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 to state that “the paucity of evidence in the literature on this topic makes it impossible to provide scientific evidence to support this position [that the food from cloned animals should be approved].” Aside from human health concerns, many people have ethical objections about cloning animals. The low survival rate and high number of deformities, as well as health problems like organ manfunction, digestive problems, and weakened immune systems in cloned animals raise animal cruetly concerns - not to mention the health of the meat and milk coming from this sick animals. Yet, as with GMOs, the FDA is not planning to require labeling of products from cloned animals.

If you are concerned about this like I am, you can take action by writing to the FDA. Here is a link where you can send an email: