Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Meat Dilemma

A recent article in National Geographic called "The Carnivore's Dilemma" goes into the upsides and the downsides of current industrial meat production compared to grassfed meat production. Really the article misses the whole point to why locally-sourced grassfed meat is superior. All they seem to emphasis is economic reasons.

First, people need to cut way back on their meat consumption. The consumption rate of meat like beef should have stayed how it was years ago when meat really was an expensive luxury. So grassfed meat actually is the best deal for your precious money. The current rate of meat consumption really is too high and does require massive feedlots like the one featured in the article located on the Texas panhandle to keep up with demand. They only featured a feedlot on the Texas panhandle, but I would venture to say most feedlots are not so well-kept.

Secondly, feedlots are immensely destructive to the environment and human health as they pollute groundwater with abnormally high amounts of agrichemicals, manure, nutrients, and pharmaceuticals. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are actually a major source of water pollution as manure leeks out of poorly built manure lagoons into groundwater. Its really no small problem either as these factory farms takeover rural America and use up valuable drinking water. Its not just water in danger but the use of pesticides on corn grown for cattle such as neonicotinoids are linked to Colony Collaspe Disorder affecting bees. Not too mention that pesticide use is linked to illnesses in humans like cancer and neurological disease. Has anyone calculated the cost that factory farms have on human health?

Third, the article fails to mention that in reality factory farms represent a major imbalance to the ecosystem such as the issue brought up with grazing cows releasing large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Thats a result of too many cows concentrated into a single area coupled with a loss of green fauna worldwide. The end result of high amounts of greenhouse gas released into the environment along with loss of biodiversity is probably the driver of climate change. Thousands upon thousands of cows should not be kept in one place and allowed to dominate the ecosystem, which will eventually lead to ecosystem collapse.

Fourth, the emphasis on economic advantage of feedlots ignores the many people and alternatives affected by the existence of feedlots. Industrial farming has taken over much of rural American. Whats the affect of this takeover? It creates monopolies in the food system and makes it difficult for people to find an alternative. It pushes out the small farmer growing a diverse bounty of crops and meat. Whats the alternative? Locally-produced grassfed meat. How do these major cattle feedlots dominate? They put exclusive emphasis on expansion and speed at the sacrifice of quality. All the outcomes of feedlots dominating the nation's food producing regions tend much more towards the negative. Now thats just capitalism for you, of course.

Maybe thats the real problem with the feedlot issue: capitalism. Maybe the vegetarians were right. Maybe the technocrats are cooking up their next "pseudo-solution". One thing is for sure though, industrial meat production requires massive inputs like agrichemicals produced by nonrenewable energy, GMOs to withstand these same agrichemicals, and the transport for all the shipped grain usually hundreds of miles and then the shipping out of beef all over the country. How long is this system really going to be able to go on?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Are Family Meals Really Stressful?

A recent study by the NCSU on the family meal shows that mothers with children between the ages of 2 and 8 often find it too stressful and difficult to prepare meals for the whole family.

First, as a disclaimer, I don't have a family to cook for. When I first saw this study I thought to myself "why do people have kids that their not able to take care of?" Of course, we need to address our society's lacking nutritional education and not even knowing how to cook or the fact that women have the burden of childrearing. Perhaps the mothers in this study do not know how to prepare and cook meals so they do find it difficult. Many younger people do for that reason. Then again society as a whole is addicted to the connivence and flavor of mac 'n cheese, ravioli, ramen noodles, hamburgers, pizza, cookies, and they'll maybe have a tiny side salad.

Theres already many blogs out there reporting on this NCSU study and using it as a backlash against the food movement. In some ways I can understand the reaction as I wouldn't want to cook for a family of four after coming home from working a 10-hour work shift (see first part of second paragraph again). It also depends on if the family is highly dysfunctional then I wouldn't want to sit down to a family meal either (or male members not doing their share of work). So its important to see all sides of the family dinner dynamics. Then again we need to address the various dynamics in society when it comes to peoples food choices such as setting priorities, meal planning, food budgeting, and food access.

What is the purpose of the food movement? Its purpose is to raise awareness that we should care about our food and the hazards of the industrial food system. We shouldn't simply pull into a fast food drive-thru without a care in the world where the food is coming from or how its produced. The hazards of factory farms  are invisible when a person relies on fast food alone (and those hazards are immense like filthy crowded conditions, sick animals, antibiotic overuse, use of hormones, wrong diet for animals, low quality nutrition). But preparing a meal at home makes us more aware of the food we consume. We might actually pay attention to its nutrient content or how the animals were raised. We might actually realize the environmental destruction wrought by loss of biodiversity and pollution.

Sure, theres many things that need to change in society, but a lot of that starts with paying attention to food. Its not always possible for everyone to enjoy a family meal. It is possible for everyone to give food more attention.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cabbage: Health and Cooking

The past late Summer I've been purchasing a ton of cabbage at the local produce place and experimenting with it in various recipes. Actually, my "recipes" are very simple and keep the original appeal of cabbage. Cabbage is a very versatile food though. Annual cabbage is a member of the diverse Brassicaceae plant family thats also includes mustard, broccoli, kale, and other popular vegetables. The cabbage originated from the Mediterranean cliffs where wild cabbage plant first grew.

In the garden, the cruciferous vegetable is a cool season crop that can be grown well into Winter. The cool season actually makes the taste come out even better. Cabbage is actually a type of flower as you can tell by cutting it in half and looking inside its like a bound up flower. Only this flower has spent centuries being selectively bred to produce todays familiar green head. If allowed to bloom the cabbage loses its flavor and tenderness. 

The important nutrients in cabbage are as follows:
  • Phyto-chemicals like sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which have anti-cancer functions
  • Glucosinolates have also shown anti-cancer properties
  • Di-indolyl-methane has an immune regulating function
  • Great fiber source along with many other green vegetables
  • Vitamin C in fresh cabbage, also contains folate and the vitamin B complex
  • Contains minerals such as manganese and potassium
The popular cabbage has been the subject of much anti-cancer research with sulforaphane and other compounds having most anticancer benefit. Indole-3-carbinol functions as a regulator of enzymes that eat up carcinogens. But how do these compounds found in cabbage really work? They turn on a nuclear transcription factor necessary for regulating proper cell function or in other words the compounds help numerous cell pathways. Afterall, inflammation is a precursor to chronic disease and anything that regulates the proper functioning of cells against inflammatory conditions is a wholesome food. However, cabbage should either be steamed lightly or kept raw to enjoy its health benefits as too much cooking can ruin the enzymes needed to convert glucosinolates to cancer preventive properties. The red cabbage contains even more nutrients than the green variety.

Heres a current favorite (simple) recipe of mine utilizing green cabbage:

3 cups of cabbage
1 cup of potatoes (or rice)
2 cups of yellow or orange peppers
1 cup of butternut squash (or kale)
1 garlic clove
2 TB curry powder (or seasoning of choice)

Place oil or butter on pan at medium heat and place food into the pan for about 30 minutes. Mix curry in really good. Its done when  potatoes are soft.

Dentistry Without Mercury

Theres a campaign taking place to create a dentistry without mercury by the Consumers For Dental Choice. Mercury is a 19th century metal toxin whos use should have been abandoned years ago when it was obvious that it does accumulate in the body and intentionally placing amalgams in the mouth leads to constant leaching out. Mercury doesn't have a place in todays medicalcare.

The constant exposure to heavy metals like mercury can lead to toxicity affects and mineral deficiency. Heavy metal ingestion leads to the displacement of important minerals like magnesium and sulfur. And this in conjunction with highly processed-foods that already lack in important minerals. The medical system usually ignores metal toxicity and places people on drugs for conditions actually caused by metal exposure.

Its up to consumers to take responsibility for their health. Join the campaign to get mercury out of medical dentistry.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Media War On Vitamins Again

In the ongoing war on vitamins, the media takes up supplement bashing once again in the form of the usual misrepresentations and outright lies by some senator and comedian. Its one more step towards implementing Codex in the US and putting unnecessary restrictions on supplements. The media seems to be self-projecting though (the same way a certain doctor awful does) without mentioning that the pharmaceutical-medical complex has far more wealth and vested interests in the government. The FDA is practically a revolving door for Big Pharma interests.

The media war started with Dr. Oz's weightloss supplements apparently. They fail to mention that the problem is not with the supplement industry as a whole, but with a few low-quality companies and their products. Theres a difference between vitamins and herbs and the fly-by-night weightloss/steroid industry and the government agencies should be competent enough to know the difference. Of course, they are totally ignorant about alternative health. I agree that most of the weightloss industry is a fraud as true weightloss is not found in "magical diet pills". The way to lasting weight reduction is changing your lifestyle and diet.

Its odd that the media takes aim at the supplement industry though as the pharmaceutical industry is full of fraud and corruption. They also have far more control over the US medical system unlike supplement industry. Of course, the medical establishment claims that their drugs are "scientifically-proven" despite the fact that 67% of medical journal retractions are due to fraud and misconduct and the numerous ways that drug studies are based on fraud (publication bias, ghostwritten studies). The FDA constantly threatens to shutdown the whole supplement industry simply based on a few low-quality products found to be contaminated or spiked (ironically the contamination often is a pharmaceutical ingredient).

I'd rather take supplements than take drugs anyways. No TV comedian is going to dissuade me, however, the general population with their ignorant and complacent attitude could end up being persuaded by a media agenda.