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Archive for the ‘Organic Food’ Category

Sustainable Farming Can Feed the World?

In Mindful Eating, Organic Food on February 7, 2013 at 11:35 am

Huh. Sustainable Farming Can Feed the World? – NYTimes.com.

If it hasn’t come clear yet, I’m kind of into organic. If I am what I eat, I’d rather not be a pile of pesticides and petrochemicals, you know? This NYT op-ed piece addresses the main (only?) argument against organic, that it’s only for the wealthy. Critics say that to feed the world we need all those chemicals and feedlots. Here’s hoping they’re wrong, for all our sakes.

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Doubt It!

In factory farms, Organic Food on January 16, 2012 at 11:46 am
Bad Ronald on doctorfoodtruth

Anybody else see the new McDonald’s commercial about the beef they serve?

I saw it during the Saturday playoff games and immediately said “Bull$h!t!”

This blog spells it out a little more bravely than I will and has a link to the commercial on YouTube if you missed it.

It leads anyone who doesn’t know better to think their beef cows live out their leisurely lives grazing open ranches in the wild west and then end up magically filling a Big Mac.

Ever heard of a feed lot?  That’s the truth of where fast food cows come from, knee-deep in their own waste, stuffed on food they can’t digest laced with antibiotics they shouldn’t have.

Google ‘feed lot’ and click the Images link. You’ll see the pictures McDonald’s doesn’t want you to think about.

Hopefully it’s as plain to you as it is to me: animals shouldn’t be treated like that.  If they are, you certainly shouldn’t eat them!  Choose better, skip the fast food/chain restaurants.  Find somewhere that serves grass-fed, locally raised beef or choose not to eat it at all.

Whatever you do, please don’t believe that clown!

A Vegetable is a Vegetable

In factory farms, Food and Health, Organic Food on November 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

Pizza on doctorfoodtruth

A vegetable is a vegetable, unless …
– you are an elected official
– you work for a Big Food company
– money means more to you than kids do

Today, a rant.

Wednesday, Twitter was ablaze with disappointment over Congress apparently deciding pizza is a vegetable.  In the multi-billion dollar battle for kids taste buds and waistbands, school food plays a nationwide role.

What lands on the lunch tray shapes kids and their future health in obvious ways.  Unfortunately, what lands on those same trays affects some big companies bottom lines too.

When those two needs meet in Congress, money wins.  Faced with the chance to move food choices and health consequences in a positive direction for millions of kids and their families, our beloved leaders are letting food industry lobbyists cast the vote for them.

Was it the Tomato lobby, those upstanding corporate citizens who keep modern slavery alive, who will swing the vote to allow pizza to “count” as a vegetable?  Maybe the Grain lobby, worried about profits now that weeds are winning the Roundup GMO war, are leading the enlightened way.

Who knows?  What I know is that this is way more embarrassing than a politician who can’t spell ‘potatoe’ (Dan Quayle, VP for you youngsters.)

Vice President Quayle made a simple spelling error; these crooks are making a calculated decision that will reverberate in our nation’s health for years to come.

Careful…

In Family Doctor, Food and Health, Junk Food, Organic Food on October 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm
Broccoli on doctorfoodtruth

“If you have to squint to read the ingredients you probably shouldn’t eat it.”

No piece of brocoli or potato or head of lettuce was ever required to have an ingredients label.  It’s only once a factory gets involved that you have to beware of what you might be eating.

That a factory is involved in something you are planning to fuel your body with seems like a pretty bad idea.

So my rule, and the one I suggest to my patients, is that if you have to squint to read the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Humans cook.  We have for as long as we’ve been civilized, maybe longer.   Cooking and eating are some of the greatest joys of life.  I’m not raw or vegan but once you get beyond 4, 5, maybe 6 ingredients, you probably have something going wrong.

When you get “food” that has microscopic print and words you’ve never even heard of on the label, I promise you don’t want to put that into your system.  All those chemicals become part of you and stick around for who knows how long – don’t even go there.

Simple foods, whether you make them yourself or buy them from companies that don’t go crazy with additives, can make you feel much better, much healthier, and even help you stay away from me.

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

This is Your Brain on Bugspray…

In Food and Health, Organic Food on September 22, 2011 at 11:49 am
Official seal of the National Organic Program on doctorfoodtruth

Last week more proof came out that pesticides in our food are harmful.  After a Harvard study in 2010 found a link between pesticides and ADHD, all the researchers would say is “Wash your veggies.”  Really?

The new study was done by Canadian scientists about American children.  Once again, strong evidence comes up that kids who have higher pesticide levels in their blood are more likely to have ADHD.

This time, you can finally hear some experts come out on the side of organic food and start to take this seriously.  These chemicals work by paralyzing the nerves of bugs; it seems like they might be bad for our nerves and brains, too.

Unfortunately, the kids that are already at the highest risk to get ADHD because of other life issues (poverty, too much TV watching, too many video games have all been found to add to kids’ risk) are from the families least able to find or afford organic food.

In a recent post Food on a Bus, I celebrated an amazing project underway in Chicago to bring organic produce to poor neighborhoods.  Grass-roots efforts like this could be powerful to not only combat obesity but ADHD as well.

Big thoughts like this are exciting but for the here-and-now, deciding to choose organic at the grocery and asking for it at your neighborhood restaurant can make a difference too.  The power of choice can have a huge effect on big companies that really don’t care about any of this.  Asking General Mills to stop buying pesticide-laced grain for their cereal is a sure path to disappointment.

Letting General Mills play catch-up to small, ethical companies like Kashi is a much better possibility.  It could happen because you, me and our neighbors say “Enough!” and change our buying habits.  Start the change today and vote with your wallet!

Change Your Buying Habits, Change Your Life!

Kudos to SBux

In Gluten-free, Junk Food, Mindful Eating, Organic Food on September 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Those that know me know I love my coffee, particularly Starbucks’ bold blends (except Gold Coast – lame.) What I haven’t loved about Starbucks is their food. I even lambaste them in Food Truths, Food Lies for empty calories in their cappuccino drinks and huge bakery portions.

Like a few other unusually responsible big companies, Starbucks has recently begun to display nutrition info and offer lower calorie (usually just much smaller) treats. Unfortunately, most of what they sell is just optional calories, the ones people never remember when they are mystified by their weight gain.

Last week I had a crazy day scheduled with a practical guarantee of no time to grab lunch, so I looked through the cold case at my favorite Starbucks (yeah, Noblesville West!) Eating fast and gluten-free can be a little daunting and I often resort to handfuls of nuts.

So I was happy to find the ‘protein’ box with only one bakery item and picked one up for later. Sure enough, my prediction about the day came true but I didn’t starve thanks to my Starbucks box. Simple contents, a readable ingredients list, and a ‘keep refrigerated’ label were all good signs of real food and I wasn’t disappointed.

Half of a very crisp sweet red apple, about an ounce of red seedless grapes, a boiled egg, an ounce of (? Swiss) bland white cheese, a packet of peanut butter with honey and the baked whatsit made a total of 380 calories. Other than the complete absence of anything green, a well-rounded lunch. Thankfully, it was also pretty satisfying.

I can only guess what it might cost Starbucks in food wastage to have a preservative-free boxed lunch with a 3-4 day cold case life. That they made the hard choice and placed it anyway is impressive. Make the contents organic and the egg free-range and I’ll truly be overwhelmed, Mr. Schultz! (Starbucks CEO, not Snoopy creator.)

All in all, an excellent fast food replacement. Kudos, SBux!

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

Food on a Bus

In Food and Health, Junk Food, Organic Food on August 29, 2011 at 11:52 am
Apple photo on doctorfoodtruth

I Tweeted about this last week but have been thinking about and discussing it since: Fresh Moves.  Know about it? Steve Casey, a big-hearted entrepreneur in Chicago, started Fresh Moves in 2006.

According to their website, Fresh Moves was founded in 2006 after Mr. Casey and Mr. Jeff Pinzino became aware that much of their city had been designated a ‘food desert.’  From their About page: “In the city of Chicago,… entire communities have severely limited access to fresh fruits and veggies, and therefore suffer from significant health issues related to poor diets.”

This realization was the start of something unique and powerful.  Today, their converted bus roves the streets of south side Chicago, offering organic produce to people who have literally no access to fresh vegetables and fruits.

I learned about Mr. Casey’s efforts from a blog I follow, healthbreaksloose.  A post from early August related a story of a 14-year-old boy tasting his first apple.

An apple!  At age 14… that breaks my heart.  I love apples and keep them at the office and at home for a quick, satisfying snack.  I’ve occasionally let them go bad from neglect and reluctantly thrown them away.  Hearing that a teenager less than 3 hours up the road from me had never even tasted an apple?  Gives a guy pause, you know?

What kind of economy have we made for ourselves when soda pop and McDonald’s are everywhere but eating a simple apple requires a hero in a bus to deliver?  Wow.  America, we have a problem.

Eating for 6

In factory farms, Food and Health, Organic Food on June 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm
photo of Earth on doctorfoodtruth

home

Sorry, not a post on quintuplets! The six I’m talking about is actually six billion. Food and nutrition are important topics to me that I try to make important for my patients too. As I’ve read and thought on nutrition, my attention keeps getting wider, though.

“I am what I eat” is as true as ever. My food and lifestyle choices will absolutely make the future me. I can choose to build and re-build my body with good food or bad, but I can count on being affected by those choices for years to come.

The choices I make aren’t all about me, though. John Donne said “No man is an island.” The more I see of the world, the more true this seems to me. The domino I flick when I choose an item or patronize a restaurant knocks over the next domino, and the next, and the next.

Every time I buy meat, milk, or eggs that are factory-farmed, I am voting with my money for more mistreatment of animals. When I buy fruit picked by migrant workers, I am actively asking these big companies to take advantage of more of my fellow human beings. Choosing bread and cereal made with “conventional” wheat shows my support for pesticides and fertilizers in someone else’s drinking water.

Everything matters. Everything connects. What I buy and eat matters for me and you and the whole world.

Change Your Food, Change the World!

Here’s the Beef

In factory farms, Food and Health, Organic Food on May 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Grazing at Sunset, doctorfoodtruth

This is not where Big Mac cows live

Cookout Weekend in the USA is here.  Memorial Day weekend always feels like the start of summer.  The public pools open this weekend here in Indiana, the Indy 500 runs on Sunday (100th time this year!) and men everywhere regress to caveman days and scorch meat over open flames.

I’ve found plenty of posts with great grilling ideas and recipes and even some tips on food safety.  I thought about writing on cholesterol and the carcinogens open-fire cooking causes in meat.  Then Dr. Mary kindly pointed out the hypocrisy, since I’ll be grunting and sweating over the open flames too.

Instead I want to talk about grilling and meat from the animal’s side.  Now don’t get me wrong, try as I might I’m no Vegan.  I have cut my meat consumption a lot, trying to stay off the cholesterol medications most of the rest of my family needs.  As an amateur tree-hugger, I know all too well about the environmental impact caused by the huge numbers of meat animals it takes to satisfy the American “meat tooth.”

Growing up on my family’s 70-acre ‘hobby farm,’ I learned first hand about animal husbandry and slaughter.  We would raise calves from bottle-feeding to open-range grazing and then finishing with our organic hay and grain.  We named them all and cared for them for years until they were ready for market.  We usually shed tears as they were individually loaded into our panel-truck and taken to the slaughterhouse 3 miles away.  One would come back to us as a side of beef to reload the freezer and the others would fetch top dollar as organic, grass-fed beef.

What a difference for the cow and for the human eating the meat compared to today’s Intensive Animal Operation aka factory farms.  The cows that end up as cheap commodity beef live their entire lives without walking in or eating grass.  From feeder calves to feed lots, the goal is to make them grow as fast as possible while burning off as few calories as possible and sell them at the highest profit possible.

These animals are kept in terrible conditions, wading in cow dung, eating corn meal laced with antibiotics and growth hormones.  Once slaughtered, the carcass is processed in a literal factory, often by mistreated illegal immigrants in unsafe working conditions.

The good news?  This is what makes McDonald’s and other chain restaurants cheap.  The bad news?  Eating this meat adds antibiotics and growth hormones to my plate.  Having it this cheap makes it likely I’ll eat it more often, getting fatter and unhealthier in the process.  Buying this meat rewards the huge companies that sell it, making sure they keep mistreating the animals, workers, and environment in a race for profit.

How can it be different, you ask?  Simple.  Make meat a luxury in your diet, not a staple.  This allows you to afford the ‘free-range, grass-fed’ variety.  Give your business to places that hold their food suppliers to high standards.  Stay away from restaurants that sell the cheap stuff.

It’s only cheap to me, not the overfed cows or the overworked meat processing workers.

It’s only cheap to me, not the neighbors of the feedlots – ever smell one?  Let me tell you, it’s ‘nose pollution.’

It’s only cheap to me, not the surrounding environment that has to cope with incredible amounts of waste.

So when I fire up the grill, I’m going to make sure the beef or chicken or pork I grill was raised humanely, fed the diet Nature intended, and slaughtered and handled safely.  You should try it too – it’s better for all of us!

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

Would you like some MRSA with that burger?

In factory farms, Organic Food on May 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Petri dish

MRSA in culture dish

What does MRSA have to do with meat?  Great question with a scary answer.  MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has been known to doctors for over 50 years.  It was one of the first bacteria to become immune to our commonly used antibiotics and it has been with us almost as long as we’ve had antibiotics.

Through most of this time, MRSA was found only in hospitals, linked to the patients and hospital wards where the most antibiotics were used.  More recently, a close cousin of every hospital’s worst nightmare got ‘loose’ and has spread like crazy through our schools, homes, and locker rooms.  Most doctors have come to know that skin infections aren’t nearly as easy to treat as they used to be and we’ve adjusted, changing tactics and medicines, trying to stay a step ahead of this ‘superbug.’

Well, while human medicine got a clue, veterinary medicine has not yet, at least at the feed-lot level.  The majority of animals raised in high-density farming operations as these feed-lots are called, get force fed antibiotics in their food to stave off infections caused by the severe overcrowding they face.

According to a recent article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Andrew Waters and colleagues found MSRA in 24% of the meat and poultry tested!  This wasn’t fancy stuff either; they went to regular grocery stores in five of our biggest cities and bought turkey, beef, pork, and chicken.  They ground it up and put it in Petri dishes, then stood back to see what they found.  Isn’t it pretty?

S. aureus in meat by type

We already know about enterohemorrhagic E. coli killing fast food eaters now and then, but now there’s MRSA too?

As long as we do factory farming, we should expect our food to be full of chemicals and contaminants.  Want to eat differently?  Great!  Shop local, buy organic and free-range, and go to restaurants that do the same.  It’s simple (not easy, just simple) and we can change our food one person at a time.  Don’t settle for chemical-filled, factory-farmed, half-fake food!