Saturday, December 27, 2008

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Pie

Here's a yummy treat I made for our holiday dessert.

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Pie
If you can't find the Jo Joe's, use Newman's O's or other oreo-type cookie.

Cookie Crust:
18 Candy Cane Jo-Joe's Sandwich Cookies (from Trader Joe's), crushed
3 tablespoons melted butter or nonhydrogenated margarine, or vegetable oil
1 quart Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, slightly softened
1 candy cane, crushed

Mix the crushed cookies and oil. Press into a 9-inch pie pan. Place in freezer 15 minutes. Carefully spread the ice cream into the crust. Sprinkle with crushed candy cane pieces. Cover and freeze at least 3 hours, or until firm.
Makes 8 servings

- The crust is easy to make in the food processor. First crush the cookies. Then add the butter or oil and pulse until it starts to hold together.
- The candy cane can be crushed in the food processor -- or - just leave it in the wrapper and whack with a rolling pin until crushed (I enjoyed that method!)
- This can be made way ahead of time which is great. If the pie is frozen solid, leave out about 15 minutes before serving or in refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes.

Here's my vegan Peppermint Ice Cream recipe which will be in my new cookbook coming out this spring. To make a dairy version, just take any vanilla ice cream recipe and when almost done, mix in 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies.

Dairy-Free Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk

1 1/4 cups soymilk or other nondairy milk

1/2 cup natural granulated sugar or agave syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together until well combined. Cover the bowl and chill the ice cream base in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. About 5 minutes before the end of freezing time when ice cream is just about to the firmness you desire, add 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies. Process for 5 more minutes, or until the ice cream reaches the desired consistency.

Makes 1 quart


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The World According to Monsanto

I finally got to see the film The World According to Monsanto and WOW! It was very, very scary. The film shows how Monsanto, one of the world's biggest agrochemical/biotech company, has a history of lies and coverups and has caused many tragedies with its development of dangerous chemicals like Agent Orange, PCBs, and bovine growth hormones (rBGH). Now they are into genetically modified seeds and the coverups and pressure on the government to turn the other way continues. As Monsanto produces more and more GE seeds, the corporation is buying up seed companies so farmers have no choice but to buy Monsanto's GE seeds. Contrary to what Monsanto would have us believe, the seeds are not reducing chemical use nor increasing yields. Farmers are suffering and if they dare try to save seeds, they are slapped with law suits. Then there's the whole labeling of GE foods issue. Monsanto claims that their genetically modified foods are no different than the conventional versions so they don't need to go through a testing and approval process--but at the same time, they are patenting their product. How can you get a patent on something identical to nature.

There's so much more to this movie, but my mind is reeling. One thing that stands out strongly in my mind, however, is that in Mexico they can't find any native species of corn that haven't been contaminated by the GE varieties. In fact, mutant corn plants are showing up in fields that have been contaminated with GE. The GE gene is not getting into the cells, but into the plants and strange growths like multiple ears from one leaf are being found. I buy organic food but how can I be sure it hasn't been contaminated?

I highly recommend you watch this movie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Egg Nog Ice Cream

I thought I'd share a couple of my ice cream recipes that are perfect for the holidays.

Egg Nog Ice Cream
This is very rich and creamy and totally delicious. We put up our tree tonight and then treated ourselves to this ice cream as we admired it.

1 1/2 cups egg nog (I used Trader Joe's organic egg nog)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar (preferably unbleached and organic)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons rum or brandy (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions.

For those avoiding dairy, here's a recipe that will be in my new cookbook "Better Than Ice Cream" which will be coming out this spring.

Makes 1 quart

Banana Nog Ice Cream

1 3/4 cups soymilk (or other nondairy milk)
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 (12 ounce) package firm silken tofu
1 ripe banana, peeled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons rum or brandy (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Chill at least 2 hours. Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. If you are using the alcohol, this ice cream will be on the soft side. Put in the freezer for 2 hours before serving to allow it to harden – this also helps the flavor to ripen.

 Makes 1 quart


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Vegetarian Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich

We usually don't try to emulate the traditional Thanksgiving meal but we decided to try a Tofurkey this year-and it was surprisingly pretty darn good. it's a round roast of "meat" made from wheat gluten and organic soy filled with stuffing. I served it with mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted green beans and cranberry sauce. Everybody liked it--and I must say the leftovers made excellent sandwiches.  

Vegetarian Day after Thanksgiving Sandwich  

Spread mayo on two slices of whole grain bread. Place a slice of tofurkey on one side being sure to get tofurkey "meat" and stuffing. Spread cranberry sauce over the tofurkey. Add a slice of lettuce and the other slice of bread. DELICIOUS!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review: GO DAIRY FREE by Alisa Fleming

Whether you're avoiding dairy for health or ethical reasons, you will love this comprehensive book that is both a guide to dairy free living and a cookbook. 

GO DAIRY FREE begins with an explanation of what dairy is, including information about pasteurization, homogenization, lactose-free milk, kefir and milk from other mammals besides cows. She goes on to explain why some people avoid dairy--because of allergies, lactose intolerance, a vegan diet, autism, general health and more. She even addresses infant allergies--how to prevent and recognize them. 

Another section is devoted to the question that many people wonder about--how can you get enough calcium with drinking milk. Fleming dispels the myth that you need dairy in your diet, tells you how much calcium you really do need, and lists many calcium rich (nondairy) foods. Before heading on to recipes, the book addresses eating out, traveling, and shopping--giving the reader insight into avoiding dairy when not at home. 

Then, my favorite part: the recipes! And what great recipes they are. Perfectly Pear Muffins, Grilled Vegetable Strudel, Better Than Ice Cream, Vanilla Pudding, Lemon Struesel Squares and lots, lots more. My kids love the 5-Star Ranch Dressing more than the stuff I buy! A really nice feature is the chart that lists all of the recipes and notes which common allergens they do or do not contain, as well as whether the recipes are vegan. 

I highly recommend this cookbook--it would make a wonderful gift as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Commercial-Free Holidays

With the economy the way it is, many people are tightening their belts this holiday season. Rather than looking at it as ruining our holidays because we can't buy lots of stuff--why not look at it as an opportunity to get some of the commercial-ness out of the holidays.

Our family started several years ago making gifts for family and friends rather than buying. We get items at yard sales and thrift shops (fabric, picture frames, jars, bottles, fabric, etc.), plus find things around the house--cans, jars, toilet paper rolls, boxes--and make things from them. Not only do we have fun planning and making the gifts, the presents are so much more meaningful to the recipient. Even the smallest child can draw a picture or glue magazine cut outs or put stickers on a jar to make a vase or pencil holder. Older kids can make books, sew little pillows or purses, make jewelry, maybe even knit a simple scarf. My children always amaze me every year with their creativeness. Edible gifts are always fun to make and give: cookies, pies, truffles and almond bark, granola, etc. are great options.

Check out the CCFC Guide to Commerical Free Holidays for more ideas.

Natural toothpaste

I've recently discovered this toothpaste line called "The Natural Dentist." Actually, I've been using their mouthwash for quite a while since my dental hygienist told me that brushing with mouthwash could help to prevent tartar buildup. She recommended Listerine but I didn't like the ingredients so I started using The Natural Dentist mouthwash instead. 

Since then, I found their toothpastes. They are great as well with ingredients I can feel good about but what really sold me is their kids line, namely the Sparkle Berry Blast. Finally, a toothpaste my daughter likes!

All of their products are made with:

- All natural ingredients (herbal extracts and natural flavors
- No Alcohol
- No SLS (a detergent that can cause mouth irritation)
- The glycerin and xylitol are produced in the US (not from China)
- Naturally-occurring fluorite to make the fluoride (also fluoride-free options are available)
- Use green packaging (soy ink, recylcable bottles, and toothpaste is sold with a box to reduce packaging)
- PETA certified cruelty-free

For more info or to download a $2.00 off coupon, go to their Web site.

Also, the first five people to email me at will receive a free sample package. Please put TOOTHPASTE in the subject line.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

I have gotten really soured on Thanksgiving as it seems to be all about the slaughter of millions and millions of turkeys--and much less focus on the thanks part of the holiday. Every time I hear someone call "Happy Turkey Day" I think about how totally wrong that is.

I recently saw this PETA footage about abuse of turkeys at Aviagen Turkeys, Inc.--the self-proclaimed "world's leading poultry breeding company." Here are a few of the documented offenses:

- Employees stomped on turkey's heads, punched turkeys, hit them on the head with a can of spray paint and pliers, struck turkey's heads against metal scaffolding.
- Men shoved feces and feed into turkeys' mouths and help turkeys' heads under water. Another bragged about jamming a broom stick 2 feet down a turkey's throat.
- Workers killed 450 turkeys with 2-by-4's.
and more.

This Thanksgiving, why not skip the turkey so as not to support this cruelty and abuse--and really make it a 'happy turkey day'. If you must have turkey, look for a supplier that raises and slaughters turkey humanely. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GM Corn shown to negatively affect fertility

A new Austrian study is causing quite a stir because it confirms that GM corn has a damaging effect on the reproductive health in mice. The Monsanto maize line MON863 has already been shown -- in the company's own experiments designed to mask health effects -- to damage the internal organs of animals in feeding trials.  This new evidence, from an EU government-sponsored study, shows that the standard mantra that "GM does not damage health" is shown to be a lie.  GM food and feed DOES damage health in a number of ways, as this and other reliable studies have shown over the past decade, beginning with Arpad Pusztai in 1998.

It will be really interesting to see what happens as a result of this study.

For the full article with references to the study and others, go to:

Help for eating local

For those of us wanting to eat more locally and sustainably, I found this helpful guide at You can search by zip code or city/state, etc. to find restaurants, farmers' markets, caterers, etc. that serve local and/or organic foods. They have trip planning guides, recipes and more. Right now on their blog, they're challenging people to have at least one local, organic dish this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

VegFamily Magazine has some great info to make your vegetarian Thanksgiving great.

Check out my article on vegan lasagnas:

Everyyear, I pore through the thanksgiving book display at the library looking for books where no one is eating a turkey. Here is a list of children's books that promote a meatless thanksgiving:

Also, check out my book review of "In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruit." It's not vegetarian, but has some wonderful recipes:

Also, check out these Thanksgiving suggestions from one of my past blogs:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hormel pork supplier charged

An Iowa Sherriff has announced that 22 charges of livestock neglect and abuse have been filed against six current and former employees of the Hormel supplier that PETA recently investigated. For more than three months, PETA went undercover at an Iowa pig factory farm, which supplies piglets who are raised and killed for Hormel products. They found rampant cruelty to animals committed by workers and supervisors. Abuse and neglect were widespread during the entire investigation.

These are just some of the abuses that were documented:

- A supervisor shoved a cane into a sow's vagina, struck her on the back about 17 times, and then struck another sow.
- Multiple pigs were beaten with metal gate rods, and lacerations were found on more than 30 sows, which is probably evidence of more abuse.
- A worker hit a young pig in the face four times with the edge of a herding board, and investigators witnessed dozens of similar incidents involving this worker and 11 other workers.
- Two men, including a supervisor, were witnessed jabbing clothespins into pigs' eyes and faces. - A supervisor also poked two animals in the eyes with his fingers.
- A supervisor kicked a young pig in the face, abdomen, and genitals to make her move and told PETA's investigator, "You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry."

To learn more about the investigation and charges, go to:

And btw, findings on this Iowa pig farm, however, were not limited to cruelty to animals. PETA also documented an apparent violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Animals who were to be killed for human consumption were sprayed with a substance that contains gentian violet (a chemical that is linked to certain cancers) thereby making their flesh "adulterated" under federal law.

By purchasing pigs bred and born on this farm and then grown elsewhere before being slaughtered for Hormel products, Hormel is financially supporting an operation whose employees abuse animals. If you eat meat, look for local, humanely raised and slaughtered animals and if you live in California, vote 'yes' on proposition 2 to protect farm animals from abuse.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Study shows that organic farming can combat global warming

Data from the Rodale Institute’s long-running comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems confirms that organic methods are far more effective at removing the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere and fixing it as beneficial organic matter in the soil. In fact, if organic farming methods were practiced on all the planet's food-growing land, it would be like taking more than 1.5 billion cars off the road. Even if we just converted the U.S.’s 160 million corn and soybean acres to organic production, it would sequester enough carbon to satisfy 73 percent of the Kyoto targets for CO2 reduction in the U.S. See the full story here:

Need more reasons to buy organic? According to the Organic Consumers Association:

- You can increase your antioxidant intake by 30 percent by choosing organic.
- The average child in America is exposed to five pesticides daily in their food and drinking water.
- The U.S. water system is regularly contaminated above safe limits immediately following chemical fertilizer applications to farm fields.
- Farms in developing countries that use organic techniques produce an average of 79% more than farms that don't.

What can you do?

Let your grocer know you want organically grown foods and buy organic products as much as possible. Visit local farms and farmers' markets and talk to the farmers. Even if they are not certified organic, they may be growing using organic practices.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Food Politics in the New York Times

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense Of Food, has a great article in the New York Times ( ).

In the form of a letter to the president-elect, Pollan outlines why the president should be working on food policies, since it directly affects global warming (farming is the second largest user of fossil fuels after cars), the economy (food is not so cheap anymore), and health care (1 of 3 children born in 2000 are expected to develop type 2 diabetes).

Pollan explains how we got to where we are today and gives some excellent detailed advice for how a new food system could work, where the government:

- encourages and reward those that do "sun farming" rather than farms relying on fossil fuels
- builds an infrastructure that supports diversified farming rather than monocrops
- allows foods stamps and issues WIC coupons to be used at farmers markets which woulds also help attract farmers markets to urban areas
- makes sure all schools have gardens, kitchens and workers trained to cook real food
- sets an example by hiring a white house chef active in the local and organic food movement

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Saving the earth . . . one pizza at a time

Despite the ongoing economic recession, consumers are increasing their purchases of green or sustainably produced foods. One Florida-based chain, Pizza Fusion, delivers locally grown, family-farmed foods in hybrid vehicles. The chain now boasts 75 franchises in 15 states, all of which are built from recycled materials. Check it out at:

Farmers and Restaurants Collaborate

This is so cool--a union of 42,000 North Dakota farmers have pooled their resources and invested more than $6 million to build green restaurants in Washington D.C. to showcase food from family farms. One of the "farm-to-table" establishments is walking distance from the Capitol and the White House, maybe it will serve as a reminder to U.S. policy-makers that this nation was built on the backbone of the family farmer.

Get the full story here:

Friday, October 03, 2008

An apple a day

Check out my Whole Family column on VegFamily Magzine this month -- lots of yummy apple recipes . . . .

Eco Lunch Boxes!

As much as I love my kids laptop lunch boxes, I hate that they're plastic--even though they are not the kind of plastic with lead or phylatales . . . . Anyway, here is a new lunchbox on the scene. Stainless steel lunch box with stainless steel water bottle. It doesn't have those nice compartments like the laptops, but it does come with a nontoxic reusuable plastic sandwish wrapper.

Check it out at:

Friday, September 19, 2008

from GE plants to GE animals

Here's a statement just out from the Consumers' Union (nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports)

For Immediate Release: September 18, 2008Contact:Jean Halloran, 914.378.2457Dr. Michael Hansen, 917.774.3801

Statement of Consumers Union

Consumers Union finds it "incomprehensible" that the FDA will not require labeling of genetically engineered animals that are sold as food. Genetically engineered animals may contain genetic material from entirely different species. For example mouse genes have been put into pigs to help them metabolize phosphorous more efficiently, and spider genes have been put into goats so that they produce spider silk in their milk. FDA proposed today that they will only review genetically engineered animals for their safety as food, and will not require any labeling.

"It is incomprehensible to us that FDA does not view these animals as different from their conventional counterparts, and therefore something that under law is required to be labeled," stated Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "In our view, consumers have a right to know if the ham, bacon or pork shops they are buying come from pigs that have been engineered with mouse genes."

Consumers Union is also concerned that cows engineered to produce antibiotics in their milk, which can help the cow avoid udder infections, also will not be labeled. "Unlike conventional antibiotics, which must be cleared from the cow before it can be used to produce milk or meat, the antibiotic that is genetically engineered into the animal will always be present. We are concerned both about the potential safety and lack of labeling on such food products," stated Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at Consumers Union.

My comments:

So just like plant food containing genes from other plant or animal species, these GE animals are not considered different from the original animal and don't need to be tested? If they are the same, why do the biotech companies take out patents on their version? And engineering anitibiotics into animals so they can continue to raise them in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. We are already having problems with germs becoming resistant because of overuse of anitbiotics. This could have major implications.

We need these foods to be labeled so consumers have a choice!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Junk Food, GE corn and soy, and rats

This is a VERY interesting article about an experiment done by Appleton, Wisconson high school students. As well as some interesting information about animals and GE foods, written by Jeffrey M. Smith, author of "Seeds of Deception".

Monday, September 08, 2008

Support local companies and the environment

This is really cool and a way to make positive changes:

Carrotmob Makes It Rain

Everyone needs to buy things. But we tend not to spend our money in a socially organized way. So Carrotmob, a new environmental advocacy group, had an idea: what if those seeking the same kind of product got together, pooled their dollars, and used them to collectively support local companies that were also doing the most for the environment? Watch what happened when Carrotmob pulled a big crowd together to spend a lot of money at the local liquor store with the strongest environmental commitment. If we live our values, business can--and does--listen.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Organic vs. conventionally grown produce

I always recommend avoiding fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides--especially for children. Studies have linked the consumption of produce treated with pesticides to birth defects, neuroblastoma (an increasingly common brain cancer), leukemia in children, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, among other health problems. Children are especially susceptible because they eat 2 to 4 times more produce than adults relative to their body weight and exposure occurs as their organs and bones are still growing.

Organic produce is better nutritionally as well. Studies published by the Organic Center ( found higher antioxidant levels in organic produce and some research suggests that they maybe higher in vitamins A and E as well.

Many people feel they can't afford to buy all organic food. If you have to pick and choose, check out the lists put out by the Environmental Working Group ( They have a list of the "dirty dozen" (conventional crops with the highest pesticide levels). These are the ones to be sure to buy organic. They also provide a list of "consistenly clean" produce--foods with the lowest pesticide levels that don't necessarily have to buy organic.

Dirty Dozen

Sweet bell peppers
Grapes (imported)

Consistently Clean

Sweet corn (frozen)
Sweet peas (frozen)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Cost of Steak

Check out this great commentary in the LA Times called "The Cost of Steak: Factory farms produce cheap meat, until you consider the reivers of sewage, the contaminants and the superbugs" by Paul Roberts, author of the book "The End of Food."

View it at :,0,1032529.story

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stevia-sweetened diet soda

For those of you familiar with my blog and writing, I don't recommend the use of artificial sweeteners (more info here). Well, for those of you who really want a diet soda, Virgils has just come out with a stevia-sweetened diet cola. It has 6 calories and no artifical sweeteners. I tried it and it tastes pretty much like the diet soda I remember from my soda drinking days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Help eating more fruits and veggies

Check out this web site: . There are ideas for getting your kids to eat more fruits and veggies plus fun recipes to make with kids. Also, recipes for locavores (those trying to eat local produce) - plus some good links.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Official!

I just signed a contract with Book Publishing Company to publish my new nondairy,vegan ice cream cookbook. The plan is to have it out in time to make ice cream in summer, 2009! I'm very excited about this book--it's a comprehensive book of ice creams, sherbets, sorbets plus lots of yummy ice cream cakes, pies, bars, sandwiches, popsicles, sauces, toppings, and mix-ins--all completely dairy-free!

Is cow's milk necessary for kids?

Though I differ with many dieticians, I don't believe kids need milk after they're weaned. My two daughters drink only water and they are strong healthy girls. We get our calcium from almonds/almond butter, kale and other leafy greens, brocolli, blackstrap molasses, beans and legumes, tofu, sea vegetables, and lots of other plant sources.

Here's a good article about cow's milk and calcium:

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cultured Foods

Naturally cultured or lacto-fermented foods contain enzymes and bacteria that help digest food and eliminate wastes. They also build up friendly bacteria in the intestines that aids digestion, supports your immune system, and increases the propagation of vitamin B12.

For more info on these nutritious foods like yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles, check out this article in VegFamily Magazine:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Help protect farmers from Monsanto harassment

AB 541 is close to becoming California's first state law protecting farmers from the hazards of genetically engineered crops. Having already passed the Assembly, it has since cleared the Senate Agriculture and Judiciary committees and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 4th and then the full Senate. It has the support of Community Alliance with Family Farmers, the California Farmers Union, California Certified Organic Farmers, the California Farm Bureau, and many food safety and environmental organizations.

AB 541:

- Establishes the right of farmers and landowners to compensation for economic losses due to genetic contamination of their crops
- Protects farmers from being sued by a GE manufacturer if their crop is contaminated by that company's GE product.
- Establishes a county-level GE crop notification process so that farmers can trace contamination to the GE manufacturer.
- Protects the food supply by prohibiting the open-field cultivation of genetically engineered food crops used to produce drugs and biologics such as hormones and antibiotics.

AB 541 will enact protections for California farmers against frivolous lawsuits that intimidate and harass those who have not been able to prevent the inevitable - the drift of GE pollen or seed. It will level the playing field for farmers accused by agricultural biotechnology companies and other patent holders of contract violations, and discourage the practice of biotech companies sampling crops without explicit permission from farmers and prosecuting based on unverifiable testing results.

If you want to let legislators know you support this, go to this link:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kellogg plans to use genentically engineered sugar

Sugar from GE sugar beets will soon hit the market and Kellogg plans to use it - at least in the US (European's wouldn't stand for it). The Organic Consumer's Organization asked them to reconsider this position or face a boycott and Kellogg did not back down. (See letters from OCA and Kellogg's reply here) .

Since half of the granulated sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, a move towards biotech beets means a dramatic alteration of the U.S. food supply. 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. At least with high-fructose corn syrup, there was a specific ingredient to avoid - but now we have to avoid anything with sugar to be safe.

The GE sugar beet is designed to withstand strong doses of Monsanto's controversial broad spectrum Roundup herbicide. Studies indicate 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. These GE Crops do NOT reduce the use of herbicide used - they INCREASE it!

I urge you to boycott Kellogg and other companies using or planning to use GE sugar. Monsanto's GE sugar beets will expose millions of consumers to untested and unlabeled so-called food that threaten human heath, the environment and farmers' rights everywhere.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tainted tomatoes

The recent outbreak of salmonella-infected tomatoes has put more than 25 people in the hospital and sickened hundreds, but really it is just the latest in a long line of sickness and recalls. In just the last few years we've had salmonella in tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce, eColi in peanut butter, beef from downer cows. Whether it's because of staffing and budget cuts, factory and giant agribusiness farms or a combination - something is seriously wrong with our food growing and distribution system.

The CDC reports that food-borne illnesses increased more than tenfold between 1970 and 1999 and 76 million people have been infected annually. While the FDA simultaneously insists that our food supply is the "safest in the world", it daily struggles to handle fundamental food safety in the face of a crippling lack of resources. Two weeks ago salmonella-infected tomatoes quickly made their way to more than 16 states with documented outbreaks. Last week, with 28 states reporting cases, the magnitude of the problem became quickly evident: the FDA had failed us yet again.

This type of contamination is well understood and avoidable. Salmonella- and eColi-poisoned produce is created indirectly by our nation's "animal factories," where inhumane and overly crowded conditions produce tainted manure that can contaminate agricultural water sources and make its way to farm fields as fertilizer.

You can still eat tomatoes however - locally grown tomatoes can be a safe alternative. Go to the farmers market this weekend, talk to the farmer that grew the tomatoes and buy a few pounds without a worry in the world. Unlike the salmonella tomatoes which have been shipped all over the country and grown on large, industrial, mechanized farms, small-scale local farms are run by farmers who know their land, what they put in it, and what comes out of it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

testing for mad cow

Here's a press release I received today with a few comments from me at the end:

Consumers Union
Nonprofit Publisher of Consumer Reports

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Jennifer Fuson (202) 462-6262
June 10, 2008
USDA Opposition to Mad Cow Testing Is Anti-Consumer, Anti-Competitive;
Tests Could Resolve Korea Beef Trade Dispute

Washington, DC—Consumers Union calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reverse itself and allow a Kansas based meatpacking company, Creekstone Farms, to test their slaughtered cows for mad cow disease. Last year, Creekstone won its suit against the agency for the right to test and label its meat as “tested for BSE”. USDA appealed the ruling, arguing the same rapid test kits used by the agency to screen for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow, are “worthless” when used by a private company. The U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule shortly.

“The best thing USDA could do would be to drop its anticompetitive, anti-consumer ban on voluntarily testing for mad cow disease and also allow meat from tested animals to be labeled as ‘tested for BSE’ so that consumers have a choice and free markets can function,” said Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union. “It is hurting our trade with other countries and consumer confidence in our beef supply at home,” added Hansen.

Currently, the USDA tests only a tenth of a percent of all slaughtered or dead American beef cattle, while Japan tests every cow put into the food system. This discrepancy led to a protracted trade dispute with Japan.

South Korea currently bans all U.S. beef, and tens of thousands of people demonstrated Tuesday against lifting import restrictions there. Creekstone Farms had built a lab to screen all their slaughtered beef using the same tests used by USDA, in order to compete in the overseas beef market. USDA prohibited the testing, calling it “worthless”.

The “rapid test” kits used by USDA to detect mad cow are not infallible, but according to Consumers Union are not “worthless,” as the agency argued in their appeal of the lower Court ruling. These tests can miss a case of mad cow disease if it is in an early stage of incubation, but they can catch the disease in later stages, before the animal is showing symptoms. In fact, the European Union uses the same test on healthy-appearing cattle and turned up over 1,100 cases of BSE between 2001 and 2006, preventing over a thousand infected cattle from reaching European supermarkets.

In late April, Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced that he had made a deal to open up the Korean market to U.S. beef, triggering massive street demonstrations. Candlelight vigils have been held daily for over a month, and major demonstrations have been held in Seoul against importing U.S. beef since last Friday.

“USDA should not wait for the Court's decision, but rather should drop their appeal and allow the sale and use of USDA-validated rapid test kits for the detection of mad cow disease,” added Hansen, who has done extensive media in South Korea on U.S. beef testing and mad cow disease. “If U.S. companies were allowed to test for BSE, then these heavy export restrictions would probably decline or disappear. Indeed, the reason that Creekstone brought the case against USDA was to regain lost income from exports to South Korea and Japan,” said Hansen. “A reevaluation of our beef testing policy is essential to remain competitive in the world beef market and ensure the safety of consumers both home and abroad.”

For more information on USDA’s position on mad cow and developments in Creekstone’s court battle see .

My comment:

Many people think the USDA was formed to protect the consumer when in reality, it was created to promote agriculture products - and this is another example of putting the consumer last. Is it really necessary to prevent a farmer from guaranteeing a safe product to its customers. Just like with the GE labeling, Bovine Growth Hormone, everyone's afraid that having someone provide a guaranteed safe product - consumers will no longer buy the ones that might potenially not be safe. Why don't they spend their time and energy providing safe food for everybody.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Food Dyes

The FDA is being asked to ban eight common food dyes because several studies suggest they cause behavior problems in kids. See this CBS News Video:

FDA and manufacturers say food dyes are safe - however, they are removing them in foods sold overseas. Kraft is already getting rid of some of the controversial dyes in Great Britain, where regulators are pressuring the entire food industry to switch to safer natural colorings. But in the United States, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Jell-O, Lunchables, and countless other products still use Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, and these other petrochemical-based food dyes. If they can do it for Europe, they can do it for us. If you want to take action, call Kraft at 847-646-2000 and urge them to switch to safer, natural colorings.

According to Trader Joes, none of their products have the dyes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BPA-free cans

Many cans are lined with plastic containing BPA. Since I buy a lot of canned beans and tomatoes, I asked at Trader Joe's today whether their cans were BPA free. The rep there told me that the cans are not lined and are BPA-free. Products packaged in plastic may not be however - though they are currently looking for alternative packaging.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

10 ways to a healthier weight for your children and you

I've been presenting a new workshop that has been getting really good feedback from parents and kids on how to make informed food and lifestyle choices. I came up with this class to try to combat the increasing number of children and adults who are overweight. This article came out of that class:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

World According to Monsanto

Has anyone seen the movie: The World According to Monsanto ?

This was the write up I found:

On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural tv channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto - a documentary that Americans won't ever see.The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years. You can view it here:

For more info on Monsanto and lots of articles about Monsanto, go to:

Marian Nestle

I had the pleasure of hearing Marian Nestle (author of numerous books on Food Politics) speak at Cal Poly University last night.

She gave a really good overview of some of the reasons we're having such a problem with obesity. One reason she said is that food manufacturers are under pressure to sell more food and grow their profits - which means getting us to eat more. Americans are now eating about double the calories they were in the 1980's. Here are some tricks the food manufactuers use:

- bigger portion sizes (charge more for smaller portions, i.e. soda is almost 5 time as much per ounce for a can as for a 2-liter bottle)
- encourage mindless eating (e.g. in front of the tv)
- keep food in your proximity (cafes in book stores, vending machines in schools)
- low prices (At McDonalds - $5.00 will buy you 5 burgers or 1 salad!)
- use sugar to add value (and make foods more addictive)
- use nutrition and health claims to sell food (Do you think eating Cheerios will really lower your cholesterol?)
- marketing to kids

So when you go to the supermarket, this is what she says NOT to buy:

- Anything from the center aisles (most heavily processed and junk foods)
- anything with more than 5 ingredients
- anything with an ingredient you can't pronounce
- anything with artificial ingredients
- anything with health claims
- anything with a cartoon on the package

There's so much more great info about what to eat in her book, aptly titled, What To Eat. For more info, check out her web site at:

Grassfed beef and plastic water bottles

Check out the latest issue of Hopedance Magazine to see my article about grassfed beef and Hearst Ranch in San Simeon, CA. Also my article on plastic water bottles - what's wrong with them and what are the alternatives.

Check out these articles and more here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Burger King promoting violent movie to children

Last September, as part of its commitment as a member of the Council of Better Business Bureau’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, Burger King pledged to not “approve, pay for, or actively seek the placement of BURGER KING® food or beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium in the United States primarily directed to children under 12 years old.”

But now they've gone back on their word by planning promotions of kids meals (which are aimied at children 3 years and up) for the PG-13 movie "Iron Man" which contains violence inappropriate for young children.

For more information, check out the press release at:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An entire village growing its own food!

This is so cool - the people in Martin (a village in England) have come up with a project for "weaning" villagers off of supermarkets. They're working together to grow their own food and raise their own livestock for meat and eggs. Of the 164 families who live in Martin, 101 have signed up as members of Future Farms for an annual fee. Read the article here:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Walmart Brand Milk soon to be BGH Free!

Walmart and Sam's Club brand milk will soon be free of bovine growth hormones. This change is due to customer demands. Looks like Monstanto's BGH hormone will soon be off the market.

Read the full article here:

slave labor in U.S. fields

I just read the book Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy by John Bowe. I had no idea slave labor could be happening the in US - the land of the FREE! Many tomato and citrus pickers are are paid poverty wages that have barely changed in 30 years; forced to work long hours without overtime; subjected to physical abuse by supervisors, denied benefits such as sick days, paid leave, and health insurance, and are punished for organizing. Some of these workers are also forced to endure modern-day slavery. There have been six successful federal prosecutions of farm labor operations for servitude in Florida over the past decade, and a seventh was just initiated.

Some food companaies like Yum!Brands, Taco Bell, and McDonalds have been working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to improve farm labor conditions -- but Burger King and others still have not signed on. If they would agree to pay just 1 cent more per pound, they could make a huge difference in the lives of these workers.

To sign a petition, go to:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Are you an Angry Mom?

Are you fed up with the offerings for school meals in your district? I know for me, I would love not to have to pack my kids a lunch every day - but as long as our school continues to feature processed, frozen and reheated foods high in sodium, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup (not to mention chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides), I don't feel I have a choice. I am on the wellness committee for my district but change is painfully slow.

There are places where things are happening however. If you haven't seen the excellent movie Two Angry Moms which is shaking up the public school lunch community, I highly recommend it -- I've already seen twice! These moms traveled around the US to find schools radically changing their lunch programs. For more info, go to .

On March 24, the producers will be featured on The Rachael Ray Show - go to their web site for more info: and the movie will be shown on March 30 at the Kent Film Festival in Connecticut, for times go to: .

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Demand for raw milk on the rise

There's an interesting article in the Boston Globe ( about more dairies selling raw milk.

It says that demand for raw milk is growing in the United States. In Massachusetts, the number of dairies licensed to sell raw milk has grown from 12 to 23 in the past two years. Also, according to the Northeast Organic Farming Association, dairies are selling more raw milk than they were just five years ago, and consumers call in every week looking for advice on where to find it.

Raw milk advocates say raw milk is healthy because it contains good bacteria, enzymes and raw fats that help to boost your immune system and aid digestion. Anecdotal and scientific reports support the health benefits. For instance, a study by researchers at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Basel in Switzerland found that children who drank raw milk had a lower risk of asthma and allergies.

The FDA warns that raw milk can carry disease-causing bacteria and says that drinking it is "like playing Russian roulette with your health." That's probably true if you drank raw milk from factory farmed cows living in filthy dry lots, but milk from pasture-fed cows on clean, well-run farms is full of things that your body will thrive on, like good bacteria, raw fat, cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and much more.

Raw milk can be sold for human consumption in 28 states, but only eight states allow it to be sold in stores. As a result, many people have begun to form buying clubs that buy raw milk directly from the dairy.

To find a source for raw dairy in your area, go to

Friday, March 14, 2008

This is scary . . . cancer causing ingredients in organic products

A newly released study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group overseen by environmental health consumer advocate David Steinman (author of The Safe Shopper's Bible), analyzed leading "natural" and "organic" brand shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care products for the presence of the undisclosed carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane.

Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer" under proposition 65, and has no place in "natural" or "organic" branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant.

Previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, but this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading "natural" and "organic" branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program. The products/brands tested are listed on the attached page with the level of 1,4-Dioxane detected, if any, along with ethoxylated ingredients listed on the label.
Some of the Leading Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:

JASON Pure Natural & Organic
Giovanni Organic Cosmetics
Kiss My Face - YIKES, that's what I use!
Nature's Gate Organics.

For full listing, go to this page:

Brands Found not to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:

All USDA Certified brands tested in this study were 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
- Dr. Bronner's
- Sensibility Soaps (Nourish)
- Terressentials
All German Natural "BDIH" Certified brands tested were found to be 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
- Aubrey Organics
- Dr. Hauschka

To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, check ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation like: "myreth," "oleth," "laureth," "ceteareth," any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or "oxynol," in ingredient names. In general, avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Leather Free Shoes

There are several reaons to avoid leather. First because of the animals - conditions are hideous in overseas slaughterhouses where leather comes from (primarily India and China, reports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). There are environmental and health reasons as well —turning animal skin to leather requires a large amount of energy and a toxic mix of chemicals including formaldehyde, coal tar and some cyanide-containing finishes. The tanning process is just as pollutant-laced, and both leave chemicals in the water supply and on the hands (and in the lungs) of workers.

Animal-free vegan shoes, however, can be hard to find - especially for children, though Crocs are very popular. Here are a few resources:

There are adult vegan shoes at,,, and

For kids, try From the soft-soled adorably designed Isabooties made with synthetic Ultrasuede, to flexible pleather uppers for first-time walkers to slip-on hemp shoes in a rainbow of earth tones with recycled tire soles, the shoes seem ideal for toddlers just learning to balance who need a good deal of flexibility and “feelability” in their shoes. The site was started by a mom tired of having to hunt and pick through various websites to find a full spectrum of natural, vegan baby products. For parents of budding dancers, a vegan alternative ballet slipper can be had from the Cynthia King Dance Studio in Brooklyn, New York. The dance instructor and studio owner approached a local shoemaker when she couldn’t find an affordable outlet for vegan slippers, and now provides them to the world at

Interesting information about beef recall

There is a great article with lots of information about the recall and beef in general - plus a video of what was done to the cows at Hallmark/Westland Meat.

Does anyone else find it appalling that Hallmark/Westland Meat was named the school lunch program's "Supplier of the Year" ? If they are the best of the bunch, how bad are the other suppliers!

The article also explains that small farmers are not allowed to slaughter their beef even though the could do it in a more humane, clean way but must ship their cattle to federall inspected slaughterhouses - supposedly for the consumers safety . . .

Also, read about the link between downer cows and mad cow disease and how it is virtually impossible to trace the meat causing mad cow disease because it can take up to 30 years to show up.

Also, it reiterates what I've said before - if you choose to eat meat, go grassfed and local if possible.

Here's the link:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Does fluoride belong in our tap water?

Here's a great Web site about the effects of fluoride in tap water.

Meat from cloned animals already in our food supply

It was all over the news about a month ago - meat from cloned animals was approved but since the technology was so expensive, we didn't need to worry that it was in our food supply . . . and the story died out because if we didn't have to worry we were eating it, who cared.

Well . . . according to a Kansas cattle producer, offspring of cloned animals have already entered the food supply. Donald Coover, a cattleman and veterinarian, says that he has sold semen from prize-winning clones to many US meat producers in the past few years, and that others may be doing the same.

"This is a fairy tale that this technology is not being used and is not already in the food chain. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn't know what they're talking about, or they're not being honest. I have sold offspring of cloned animals into feedlots, and they are in the food chain," Coover told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday.

And of course there is no label to tell you whether meat is from cloned animals or not. Organic meat however can not be from cloned animals.

For more info, go to

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

vaccine safety

If you're wondering whether or not to vaccinate your children or get a flu shot, you might want to read this article.

artificial sweeteners again linked to weight gain

Foods and beverages containing artificial sweeteners seem to ruin your ability to control food intake and body weight, according to new research by psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center.In their study, when compared with rats that ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar), rats that ate yogurt sweetened with the zero-calorie artificial sweetener saccharin:

- Consumed more calories (and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later)
- Gained more weight
- Put on more body fat

It seems that consuming artificial sweeteners doesn't trigger the same biological response as food with sugar leading the rats (and humans) to overeat.

Find more info at

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pesticides found in urine of children

Government promises to rid the nation's food supply of brain-damaging pesticides aren't doing the job, according to the results of a yearlong study that carefully monitored the diets of a group of local children.The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.

When the same children ate organic fruits, vegetables and juices, signs of pesticides were not found. After eight to 36 hours of the children switching to organic food, the pesticides were no longer detected.

The study has not yet linked the pesticide levels to specific foods, but other studies have shown peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries and cherries are among those that most frequently have detectable levels of pesticides. Broccoli, on the other hand, is usually found with lower pesticide levels.

Chuck Benbrook, chief scientist of the Organic Center, a nationwide, nonprofit, food research organization said that the pesticide limits that EPA permits are far, far too high to say they're safe. And,there's been a steady increase in pesticide-contaminated imported foods, which are capturing a growing share of the market." The study found that pesticide levels in urine were higher in the winter months when more produce is imported.

Your best bet is to buy from local farmers that grow organically or minimize their pesticide use.

For more info, go to:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

non-plastic water bottle reviews

For The Whole Family column for VegFamily this month, I tested and reviewed several non-plastic water bottles for kids and adults. Check it out at:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Safety of Aspartame

If you're eating foods containing the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, diet drinks, etc.), you need to watch the documentary "Sweet Misery." Aspartame was approved for widespread use in the U.S. in July of 1983. Within six months, brain tumor rates climbed 10%, diabetes went up 30% and brain lymphoma tumors skyrocketed 60%. Learn how this toxic chemical was scandalously approved by the FDA and is now one of the most widespread food additives in the U.S.

The video can be downloaded at

Meat from sick animals served at schools

The USDA is investigating Chino, CA company Hallmark after release of a video showing workers using illegal practices on sick cows to get them into the slaughterhouse. Federal and California law prohibits the slaughter of "downer" cattle - cows that cannot stand or walk - to protect the human food supply from eating the meat of unhealthy animals. Several studies have shown a correlation between meat from downer cows and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly know as Mad Cow Disease.

Employees at Hallmark were shown using forklifts to pick up and roll animals too weak to stand and, much worse, shooting high pressure water sprays into the nostrils of cows and repeatedly shocking them with electricity so they could get the animals to get up and walk past the inspector assigned to monitor that only healthy cows were slaughtered.

Beef from the Hallmark slaughterhouse is distributed by Westland Meat Co. (also of Chino). According to the USDA, Westland sold 27 million pounds of meat last year to federal food and nutrition programs including school lunches and meals for the poor and elderly.

For more info, check out the article in the LA Times at,1,7693001.story?ctrack=3&cset=true

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What happens to your body within 1 hour of drinking a soda

The average American drinks more than 60 gallons of soft drinks each year, but before you grab that next can of soda, consider this: one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites. Not to mention the fact that it’s also your largest source of dangerous high-fructose corn syrup.

After drinking a can of soda, this is how your body is affected within the first hour:

Within the first 10 minutes, 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake, and the only reason you don’t vomit as a result of the overwhelming sweetness is because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor.

Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.

Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.

Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a sugar crash.

For more info, check out Dr. Mercola's Web site at:

Friday, January 04, 2008

Safety of Splenda

I am frequently asked about the safety of the articial sweetener Splenda. After all, they claim it's made from sugar so what could be the harm. Well . . . . .

They are now being sued in federal court. The accusation is that Splenda, a Johnson & Johnson company, is falsely advertising to consumers with its marketing slogan "Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar". Splenda is the synthetic compound sucralose, discovered in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. The artificial sweetener is made by replacing hydroxyl groups in the sugar molecule with chlorine. So, no sucralose or Splenda is not the same as sugar at all.

There are no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans. The manufacturer's own short-term studies showed that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands and enlarged livers and kidneys in rodents. But the FDA (always looking out for our best interests) decided that because these studies weren't based on human test animals, they were not conclusive. I wonder why given these results, further tests weren't made? Hm . . .

I recommend against using artifiical sweeters. No study has ever shown that using articifical sweeteners helps weight loss - in fact, the opposite has been found. Drinking diet soda can actually double your obesity risks (

Artificial sweeteners acutally can:

- Stimulate your appetite
- Increase carbohydrate cravings
- Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

Not to mention the possible risks to your health.

So what's safe to drink and good for you too????

WATER! (though not in plastic bottles - but that's another post.)