Farmed and Dangerous Part 4 – The Ends Meat

Welcome to the final installment of Farmed and Dangerous by Chipotle, a satire about the “outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture”. My favorite line: Industrial agriculture – improving nature as god intended us to! Watch and enjoy!

In case you missed them:

Part 1 can be found here: http://wp.me/p3RNDT-dO

Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p3RNDT-dV

Part 3 here: http://wp.me/p3RNDT-e4

I loved all of the food and health-related issues that were addressed in a sly and humorous way. The plot twist in the end about animoil providing cover for slipping oleyum into the human food supply (without evidence that it is safe) was masterful because that is how our corporate food supply is managed. Why prove that a new product is safe over the long haul if there is money to be made in the short term? The shot at the end of the obese family consuming several oleyum products was a sharp commentary about the effect of industrial junk food on our waistlines. Yes, there is an intimate relationship between what we put into our faces all day long and our health. Chipotle clearly gets it and for that I am appreciative.

So what did you think of Farmed and Dangerous?

F&D

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Farmed and Dangerous, Part 3 – Raising the Steaks

Welcome to the third installment of Farmed and Dangerous by Chipotle, a satire about the “outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture.” My favorite line from this episode was about the more powerful herbicide which was developed to deal with super pigweed – it had a dual purpose and was licensed to the U.S. military under codename Agent Banana. Yup – they said that. Watch and appreciate!

In case you missed them:

Part 1 can be found here: http://wp.me/p3RNDT-dO

Part 2 can be found here: http://wp.me/p3RNDT-dV

So what do you think? Will Sofia grow weary of the lies and deceit at I.F.I.B. and join Chip? I’ll post the final episode, in which all questions will be answered, on Monday!

F&D

Farmed and Dangerous, Part 2

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Farmed and Dangerous, Episode 1. Now, please enjoy Episode 2! My favorite line: “Are your medications making you more depressed? A NEW pill promises relief!”. Ba da bump!

I also include here a refresher about how to rethink your shopping habits to protect your family’s health, per Dr. Mercola:

I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you’re promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of “ethical meat.” The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:

  1. Local Harvest — This Web site will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  2. Farmers’ Markets — A national listing of farmers’ markets.
  3. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  4. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  5. FoodRoutes — The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

And that does it for today – thank you, again, Hulu, Chipotle, and Dr. Mercola. Stay tuned for episode 3 on Friday and 4 on Monday. Remember, only with knowledge can we eat well and prosper, so pass it on!

F&D

Farmed and Dangerous – Must-see online show by Chipotle

Welcome back! Last month, the restaurant chain Chipotle launched an online show on Hulu called Farmed and Dangerous, a four-part satire aimed at revealing the “outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture” by poking fun at it. I included the first episode here, and also commentary by Dr. Mercola, which can be found here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/08/chipotle-industrial-agriculture.aspx.

Each of the four episodes is being published by the Huffington Post. The first episode, featured above, ran on Monday, February 17.

“We’re most interested in using the series to launch conversations around pressing issues in our food system,” Huffington Post writes. “Is industrial agriculture the only answer to the planet’s food problem? Do you support the use of genetically-modified ingredients in our food? What do you think of Chipotle’s anti-industrial farming message and ‘values branding’ strategy?”

All important questions to consider these days… One of the main characters in Farmed and Dangerous is Chip Randolph, a young farmer-activist who goes up against a fictional industrial food corporation that has created petroleum-based cow feed, called “petro-pellets”—with devastating results.

While adding petroleum to the feed makes for cheaper food, it also makes the cows spontaneously combust into flames. Through the calamitous twists and turns that ensue, the series indirectly highlights a number of important issues currently facing the food industry.

This includes reliance on fossil fuels, the misuse of drugs in animal farming, and food libel laws that enable the food industry to silence critics. Perhaps one of the catchiest phrases uttered in this mini-series is “Those people died from eating; not starving. That’s progress.”

While modern agriculture has yet to develop feed that makes cows literally explode, the phrase is still hauntingly relevant when we’re talking about factory farming. People are indeed being harmed by the food they eat these days.

Is Your Food Supporting or Harming Your Health?

Virtually all of the meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) found in your local grocery store comes from animals raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). If it wasn’t raised in a factory farm, it will typically bear a clear label stating it’s “grass-fed” or “USDA 100% organic.”

Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, thereby allowing for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there’s a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and the ethical treatment of animals.

Far from being what most people would consider “a farm,” these massive operations are more like industrial warehouses, stocked to the hilt with animals that are quite literally crammed together. Due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions in these livestock factories, most of the animals end up getting sick. And whether they’re ill or not, they’re still routinely given antibiotics and artificial hormones to promote growth.

The natural diet of a cow is plain grass, but CAFO-raised cows are fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts instead. Not only does this upset their digestive systems and alter the nutritional makeup of their meat, all of the feed additives also get transferred to you when you eat that meat. The routine use of antibiotics in particular has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now threaten human life.

The factory farm model also directly contributes to Americans’ increasing reliance on processed junk foods, which in turn drives the rise in obesity and chronic disease. For the past several decades, the focus has been on creating ever-cheaper foods. Well, you cannot achieve top quality and rock-bottom prices at the same time. Something has to give, and quality nutrition definitely fell by the wayside as technology overtook the food and agricultural industry…

Tainted Meat – Another Health Hazard of the Factory Farm Model

Research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store. But it may be even worse than that. Last year, using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011. EWG nutritionist and the report’s lead researcher, Dawn Undurraga, issued the following warning to the public:

“Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets… These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective.”

This is no minor concern! According to a landmark “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report” published by the CDC, two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications.

Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family’s Heath

I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you’re promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of “ethical meat.” The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:

  1. Local Harvest — This Web site will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  2. Farmers’ Markets — A national listing of farmers’ markets.
  3. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  4. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  5. FoodRoutes — The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

And that does it for today – thank you Hulu, Chipotle, and Dr. Mercola. Stay tuned for more episodes and spread the word to those who may not be aware of how compromised our food supply has become. Only with knowledge can we eat well and prosper, my friends!

F&D

What’s the best cooking oil?

cooking-oil

Welcome back! Last week, I reblogged a post from nutritionist Anne Baker about canola oil and why it should be avoided (see http://wp.me/p3RNDT-bW). It received a great deal of interest. One question, in particular, that came up was which oils were best for medium and high temperature cooking. I’d therefore like to reblog Anne’s recent post on just this subject which can be found on her website http://nourishholisticnutrition.com/choosing-the-right-cooking-oil/:

Sauteeing, stir frying, pan frying, baking, grilling…..each type of cooking subjects foods to different degrees of heat. Using the wrong oil for the job can change a healthful meal and into one that’s toxic.  This is because heat damages oils and can make them unstable. Knowing the smoke point of each type of cooking oil is important because heating oil to the point where the oil begins to smoke produces toxic fumes and harmful free radicals. Knowing how the oil is extracted and processed is another aspect to consider.

What we lose when we heat delicate cooking oils

According to Udo Erasmus, author of Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, all nut and seed oils (which most people use to cook with) are at their peak of nutrition in their raw state, so if we really want to obtain their full benefit we should never heat them at all. This is important because heat destroys the oil’s beneficial polyphenols [1] and there are some oils that are so delicate they should never be heated. There are others that are fine used for medium heat and only a couple that are suitable for healthful higher temperatures. In general high heating such as pan frying (don’t even think of deep fried!) requires an oil that is stable at high heat.

How the oil is extracted matters

Selecting the right healthy oil begins with how the oil is processed. There are two main ways oil is extracted from its source. Expeller (cold pressed), also known as mechanically pressed, or chemically extracted oils.

Expeller pressing is a chemical-free mechanical process that extracts oil from seeds and nuts. This method of oil extraction is an alternative to the hexane-extraction method used for many conventional oils. The temperature reached during pressing depends on the hardness of the nut or seed. The harder the nut or seed, the more pressure required to extract the oil, which in turn creates more friction and higher heat. There is no external heat applied during the expeller pressing. [2]

Cold Pressed oils are expeller pressed in a heat-controlled environment to keep temperatures below 120 degrees F. It’s important to  note that while Europe has standards prohibiting temperatures above 140 ° the US does not mandate specific temperatures and many products sold as cold pressed are extracted at temperatures up to as high as 470°.

Chemical extraction is done for most mass market cheap oils such as corn, canola and soybean oils (these are inferior oils).  This process typically  involves extraction with toxic solvents such as hexane. These oils then undergo harsh treatment to remove the solvent. More chemicals, very high heat, and straining are used to deodorize and bleach the oils — rendering them inferior in taste, fragrance, appearance and especially nutritional quality.[3]

With this knowledge, it behooves us all to pay attention to how the cooking oils are processed and stick to cold pressed or expeller extracted.

Cooking temperatures

Since cooking oil charts all indicate temperature ranges instead of the cook top settings low, medium low, medium, medium high and high this can also cause confusion. The chart below shows the oven temperature to cook top conversions – which I find very helpful.

Gas Mark     Fahrenheit   Celsius         Description

1/4                   225                  110                  Very cool/very slow

1/2                   250                  130                  —

1                      275                  140                  cool

2                      300                  150                  —

3                      325                  170                  very moderate

4                      350                  180                  moderate

5                      375                  190                  —

6                      400                  200                  moderately hot

7                      425                  220                  hot

8                      450                  230                  —

9                      475                  240                  very hot

This chart should be accurate enough for all your cooking needs, though keep in mind the temperatures will vary between different types, brands, sizes of ovens, in addition to your locations altitude, temperature, humidity, etc. [4]

What about cooking with coconut oil, butter/ghee and even lard?

Extra Virgin Coconut oil can be expeller pressed and this is a higher quality oil and healthier since it’s not extracted using chemicals.

High heat cooking oils should be selected based on how resistant to oxidation they are.  This is because when oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that you definitely don’t want to be consuming.

Saturated fats have only single bonds in the fatty acid molecules, monounsaturated fats have one double bond and polyunsaturated fats have two or more. It is these double bonds that are chemically reactive. Therefore, saturated fats, with no double bonds, are by far the most stable.

Coconut oil and ghee are good for high heat cooking.

Coconut oil is 92 percent saturated fat, which is higher than butter.  Coconut oil is a plant-based food and therefore does not contain cholesterol. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola “50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth!”

Ghee is made by slowly melting butter over a low heat. This  separates the milk solid proteins that are skimmed off leaving a deep golden colored saturated butterfat. Ghee or clarified butter contains conjugated linolenic acid, which is known to aid the body in weight loss and helps to lubricate the body’s connective tissues. Because it is so rich in antioxidants and lacking in milk solids, ghee does not have to be refrigerated. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this oil the best choice for high temperature cooking.

While many people do cook with olive oil in researching this post I found that now many experts are advising against cooking with extra virgin olive oil and some even feel olive oil (not EVOO) oxidizes too much when heated – even in low to medium heat. The reason for this is that olive oil is a monounsaturated fat vs. highly saturated fat oils such as virgin coconut oil and ghee. If you want to use olive oil don’t use extra virgin and only use on low to medium heat.

Lard and tallow from grass fed animals are high in mono and unsaturated fats; which makes them good for high heat cooking. I prefer to use coconut oil or ghee because I do not eat these foods.

Nut and seed oils

Contrary to popular belief, peanut oil is high in polyunsaturated fat and that means unstable for high heat cooking. Macadamia nut oil is high in monounsaturated fat so this is a good oil for medium heat cooking.

I found conflicting advice on many of the seed oils; sunflower, safflower, sesame seed, grape seed oils as to whether these are safe and healthy for high heat cooking.  The determine factor in terms of healthfulness is weather the oil is predominately polyunsaturated. Grape seed oil is 71% polyunsaturated.

Remember the best oils (most stable at high heats) are saturated and monounsaturated oils. Polyunsaturated oils are not stable and therefor not good for high heat cooking. The other concern with these types of oils is that is that many are processed using hexane extraction which makes them unhealthy. [5]

Here’s a chart to help you decide which oil is best of low, medium and high heat cooking:

http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/05/heart-healthy-cooking-oils-101/

And there you have it – Thanks Anne! I hope this was helpful. Chime in and let us know if you agree with these recommendations.

Food-for-Thought topic for today: Soy…is it healthy or not?

Soybean_USDA

Greetings All! Today we are pondering the subject of soy in an attempt to determine if we should consume it, how much, and which types are best. The reason we are focusing on this today is because during a Forum discussion about canola oil (which is bad!), the subject of soy came up, and there were several opinions about its health benefits, or lack thereof. Someone then suggested that we start a discussion string on the topic of soy specifically. I will therefore report on information that I found and also that Leslie Olsen, a fellow member of the Health and Wellness Networking Group, provided. Okay, here we go…

First, let’s consider recommendations from the AHA. This editorial summarizes the recent American Heart Association (AHA) Science Advisory on soy protein and isoflavones (phytoestrogens) published in the February 21, 2006, issue of Circulation: http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/26/8/1689.full. I recommend you read the entire article; in summary the authors conclude the following:

– Earlier research indicating that soy protein compared with other proteins has clinically important favorable effects on LDL cholesterol and other cardiovascular disease risk factors has not enjoyed confirmation from many studies reported during the past 10 years.

– No benefit is evident on HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein(a), or blood pressure. Thus, the direct cardiovascular health benefit of soy protein or of isoflavone supplements is minimal at best.

– Soy protein or isoflavones have not been shown to improve vasomotor symptoms of menopause, and results are mixed regarding slowing of postmenopausal bone loss.

– The efficacy and safety of soy isoflavones for preventing or treating cancer of the breast, endometrium, and prostate are not established; evidence from clinical trials is meager and cautionary as regards a possible adverse effect.

So the net is that they were not able to identify a significant benefit of soy on CVD, menopause symptoms, or cancers and indicated a possible adverse effect on cancers. Let’s keep going…

Next, consider the 2006 article “The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?” by science writer Julia R. Barrett: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480510/. This article provides good background information on soy, and she concludes by stating that most researchers do agree on is that we are only just beginning to truly understand the nature of soy, and that much more research is needed before it is possible to make firm health recommendations.

Okay, that was informative but did not provide any concrete recommendations. Moving on…

Now, consider the viewpoint from the Harvard School of Public Health: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/protein-full-story/. Again I recommend reading the section on soy (I don’t necessarily agree with their sentiments on saturated fat in the other sections); in summary they recommend eating soy in moderation. They state that soybeans, tofu, and other soy-based foods are an excellent alternative to red meat, as in some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple. They caution that if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to go overboard: Two to 4 servings a week is a good target; eating more than that likely won’t offer any health benefits and we can’t be sure that there is no harm.

So eating it in moderation is ok, but may not offer any health benefits, and may have adverse effects. I’d still like a more meaty (so to speak) explanation, so let’s keep looking…

Let’s check in with Dr Oz. His article is entitled “The Two Faces of Soy – Does it Harm or Help”, which sums up the confusion around this food pretty well: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/two-faces-soy-does-it-harm-or-help. He notes the following:

“It’s not clear why researchers are having trouble getting dependable findings. It could be inherent in the study; diet research is notoriously difficult to conduct and control. Or the fact that soy comes in many forms with varying components. Or the study population muddies the findings because people around the world have different personal and ethnic physiology.”

He does a nice job going through the currently understood effects of soy on various health conditions and provides recommendations that may be subject to change based upon more learning:

– Limit soy to one serving a day (no more than 30 milligrams of isoflavones)

– Choose good quality soy such as tofu, tempeh and miso

– Skip the “frankensoy” processed soyfoods

– Avoid soy supplements made from isolated soy components such as isoflavones like genistein and daidzein

He also recommends moderation and avoiding the highly processed soyfoods. This is a good start, but he does not mention anything about avoiding GMO soy, which I believe should be included in any recommendation concerning soy. Let’s make one more stop…

Time to check in with trusty Dr. Hyman, who is not afraid to call it as he sees it: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/06/how-soy-can-kill-you-and-save-your-life/. Here also the title captures the duplicitous nature of soy. This is a great article which I suggest you read in its entirety. I appreciate his detailed review of the literature and recommendations the most. Here they are:

– The dangers of soy are overstated (and the benefits may be, too).

– We eat far too much processed soy (and processed foods in general). Stay away from those in your diet including soy protein concentrates or isolates, hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein, hydrogenated soy bean oil, non-organic sources of soy, and soy junk food like soy cheese and ice cream. Don’t eat them.

– Whole soy foods can be a source of good quality protein and plant compounds that help promote health.

– Eat only organic soy. Stay away from genetically modified versions. (There it is!!)

– Replace soy oil with olive oil, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.

– Breastfeed your child. I prefer that no one feed dairy or soy formula to their babies, but if you have to, try not to worry about it. (Little skeptical about this one, and note that it must be organic, and not, GMO soy!)

– Don’t worry about soy’s effect on breast cancer if you eat it in the forms and amounts I recommend. It has even been shown to protect against breast cancer if you start eating it at a young age. (This is presumably from the Shanghai Study, see reference [1])

– The effects on the thyroid are not significant or relevant unless you are deficient in iodine (which you can easily get from eating fish, seaweed or sea vegetables, or iodized salt).

His recommendations are consistent with the other references included in this post, and stress moderation and whole ORGANIC soy foods. The only thing I would add is to lean towards fermented soy products because they are easier to digest due to the presence of probiotics. In light of the uncertainty regarding soy, I think this is the best we are going to do.

Thanks for joining us! I’d love to hear other viewpoints because this is an interesting subject. Is the information in this article consistent with your knowledge and experience?

[1] Abstract of Shanghai study: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/6/1920.abstract

TEDxManhattan!

TEDx

Welcome to a new week! I’d like to rave about TEDxManhattan in today’s Weekend Wrap. It was an awesome event that occurred on Saturday and I encourage you to check out all of the talks here: http://new.livestream.com/tedx/manhattan2014. I’ve chosen a few to highlight because they were especially thought-provoking and enlightening.

First, consider ground cricket powder as a protein source:

http://new.livestream.com/tedx/manhattan2014/videos/43853036

Crazy? Maybe not. The speaker, Megan Miller, makes the valid point that our current meat production system will not be scalable for billions of people. Already the amount of land, including cleared rainforests, dedicated to feed and animal production is staggering, whereas her approach is much more sustainable. I’d try it!

Next, if you are feeling overwhelmed about which food products to choose, don’t despair because the Environmental Working Group is coming to our rescue with their food database. It turns out they already have a great database for body-care products, called Skin Deep, and one is in the works for food. Learn more from Ken Cook here:

http://new.livestream.com/tedx/manhattan2014/videos/43893574

They already used the food database to determine that azodicarbonamide is in 500 foods! Check out the EWG link to learn more.

Finally, Top Chef judge, restaurateur, and real-food advocate Tom Colicchio is working on building and energizing a Food Movement. Check out his compelling talk here – it may inspire you to get more involved:

http://new.livestream.com/tedx/manhattan2014/videos/43895795

I hope you learned as much as I did from these talks. Kudos to Diane Hatz, Founder and ED for Change Food, and the organizer of this wonderful event! (Go Girl!)