Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Why I Didn’t Mind Turning 40

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I turned 40 two months ago in December! What has surprised me more than turning 40 has been other people’s interest with how I am “coping” with it.  Honestly, I would sum it up as feeling a sense of relief.

I understand some view the big 4-0 with dread and panic, but I am relieved because at the age of 40 I am happy with my choices, my quality of life, and my inner spiritual world. I am happy because I lead the life I want to live with a loving, supportive husband in a beautiful place, working for a health food business that I created. I love Prosperity! What is more fun and rewarding than promoting a great line of organic products that help people? Without comparison, I am far healthier, fitter, and happier than I was at 30.

This didn’t just fall in my lap. My husband and I are not financially independent. Eight years ago we came to grips with the long-term picture of our lives and how they were not working for us. You could practically hear the ripping sound of us removing ourselves from our lives in Seattle. When we first arrived in Idaho, I worked off our room and board on a horse ranch outside of Sun Valley until we could figure out how to get to a cost-efficient living situation in Sun Valley with enough work to at least make ends meet. I eventually cashed in my meager retirement savings to start Prosperity Organic Foods and help cover some of the bills.

It was stressful. I found myself breathing into a paper sack… on a regular basis. I was terrified of my choice to walk away from my career in Seattle, starting over, but there was no going back because the life we had there simply wasn’t working. My family unanimously thought I was crazy and were against our decision to move to Idaho and to start Prosperity Organic Foods. I worked 3 jobs to pay my share of the bills while figuring out how to build Prosperity Organic Foods on the side and get Melt® Organic into the market place.

Determination and vision pay off. Here we are eight years later; our lives are not perfect, mostly because there is no such thing. However, if you don’t reach out and grab what is authentic to you, how can you ever expect to be happy? Gutting it out for the big picture is worth it. Besides, if what you are doing isn’t working, what choice do you really have?

In all honesty, I view my 40s and 50s as the peak years of my life. Not only do I get to continue building my physical fitness and improving my health, I get to be the grounded, mature, and genuinely content person that I was not in my 20s and 30s. Oh yes, 40 is an age to celebrate. Here’s to many more wonderful years ahead of us all.

Is Melt® Organic Buttery Spread “Real Food?”

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Before answering that question, we need to first define “real food.”

The following information has been adapted from Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” where he explores the idea of real food.

To summarize, real food includes the plants, animals, and fungi people have been eating for generations versus the highly processed products (“edible food-like substances”) of modern food science and the food industry.

Mr. Pollan elaborates by suggesting you probably are not eating real food if the following general rules of thumb apply:

  • Your grandmother or great-grandmother would not recognize the ingredients as food.
  • It contains chemical additives and or corn and soy derivatives.
  • It contains additives that you would not cook with yourself or that you do not recognize (e.g., ethoxylated diglycerides, cellulose, xanthan gum, TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone)).
  • It contains high fructose corn syrup or it contains any sugar or sweetener listed in the top 3 ingredients (e.g., barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, corn sweetener, dextrin, fructo-oligosaccharides, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, sucrose, invert sugar, polydextrose, sucrose, turbinado sugar, organic sugar, raw cane sugar, etc). The same applies for artificial sweeteners since they do not lead to weight loss and may heighten cravings for more sweetness.
  • A third grader cannot pronounce all of the ingredients.
  • Food products contain the wordoid “lite” or terms “low-fat” or “non-fat” in their names. Many low-fat and non-fat foods are higher in refined carbohydrates (sugar). Excessive carbohydrate intake is more strongly associated with weight gain, obesity, and secondary illness that go with them than consuming fat. Eat the real thing in moderation.
  • It has a long list of ingredients (this is different from following a recipe).
  • It is an imitation product and or contains imitation ingredients instead of the real thing (e.g., edemame vs. soy mock meats; hydrogenated oils (fake fats) vs. virgin coconut oil, artificial sweeteners vs. honey).
  • It is advertised on TV.
  • You found it in the peripheries of the supermarket and not in the middle aisles of the store. Processed foods dominate the center aisles while cases of mostly fresh foods line the walls; exceptions include food products like yogurts flavored with high fructose corn syrup and margarines containing corn/ soy oils and hydrogenated fat.
  • It will not eventually rot.
  • You got it through the window of your car.

Melt® Organic Buttery Spread easily qualifies as real food even though it is intended as a replacement for butter (and therefore could be considered an imitation food).

With that said, Melt® Organic Buttery Spread is a far cry from the margarines of our parent’s generation.

  • Melt is organic, non-GMO (!) and contains no hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients, synthetic preservatives or corn/ soy derivatives and it never will.
  • Melt is made with only wholesome ingredients like virgin coconut oil, flax oil, and others, providing you with a balanced combination of organic saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in a rich and creamy format that is a pleasure to eat.
  • Melt offers an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 2:1, which you simply do not and will not see matched by any other food product in this part of the grocery store.

We hope you enjoy Melt® Organic Buttery Spread’s goodness and look forward to seeing you in the grocery store!

Go to www.meltbutteryspread.com for more information.

 

ACTION ALERT: Is the 1%’s Super Committee Writing a Secret Farm Bill?

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Demand Cuts to Corporate Welfare – Not Hunger and Sustainable Ag Programs!

The Big Ag lobby suffered a shock when an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to cut farm subsidies to anyone with an average income of over $1 million cleared the Senate by a vote of 84-15. This proposal has yet to become law, but it is clear that the momentum is not in Big Ag’s favor. Congress is ready to vote for a fairer Farm Bill in 2012 when the current law expires. Knowing that, corporate lobbyists working for the 1% are trying to prevent any more votes like that one.

Big Ag’s current strategy is for Congress not to vote on a new Farm Bill at all. They’d rather have the Super Committee, set to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the federal debt in November, shape the bill behind closed doors. Their idea is for the Super Committee to cut $23 billion over 10 years, mostly from conservation and nutrition programs that help the hungry, family farmers, and sustainable agriculture, rather than save more money by adopting the White House proposal to save $50 billion over 10 years by ending all direct payments that go to mega farms growing crops for polluting factory farms and unhealthy junk food.

Ag Committee Chairmen and Super Committee members are currently working on a Secret Farm Bill that by all accounts will favor Big Ag over family-scale organic farmers and the swelling ranks of those who are relying on Food Stamps and school lunch programs to survive during the continuing economic crisis.

Tell Congress: Cut Corporate Welfare – Not Hunger and Sustainable Ag Programs!

Excerpt taken from the Organic Consumers Association newsletter. To take action, click here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_24260.cfm to enter your zip code for contacting your local congressmen.

ACTION ALERT: Could California Ballot Initiative Bring Down Monsanto and GMOs?

Monday, October 10th, 2011

By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Oct 7, 2011

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_24074.cfm

(Full article)

“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” – Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

Monsanto and Food Inc.’s stranglehold over the nation’s food and farming system is about to be challenged in a food fight that will largely determine the future of American agriculture. A growing corps of organic food and health activists in California – supported by consumers and farmers across the nation – are boldly standing up to Monsanto and its minions, taking the first steps to expose the widespread contamination of non-organic grocery store foods with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and moving to implement mandatory GMO labeling through a grassroots-powered Citizens Ballot Initiative process.

This month, lawyers representing a broad and unprecedented health, environmental, and consumer coalition, including the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, Center for Food Safety, Mercola.com, Nature’s Path, Natural News.com, LabelGMOs.org, Food Democracy Now, and the Institute for Responsible Technology, are filing papers with the California Attorney General’s office to place a Citizens Initiative on the Ballot in November 2012 that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients.  If California voters pass this ballot initiative in 2012, it will likely be the beginning of the end for Monsanto and genetically engineered food in the U.S.

According to Zuri Star, a Southern California field organizer for the Organic Consumers Association, “The California Ballot Initiative is perhaps our last chance to stop the Biotech Express, to overthrow Biotechnology’s dictatorial regime and build a safe and sustainable food and farming system based upon the ethical principles of consumer choice and BioDemocracy.”

Moving the Battleground 

After twenty years of biotech bullying and force-feeding unlabeled and hazardous genetically engineered (GE) foods to animals and humans, a critical mass of food and health activists have decided it’s time to move beyond small skirmishes and losing battles and go on the offensive. It’s time to move the food fight over labeling GE food from the unfavorable terrain of Washington D.C. and Capital Hill, where Monsanto and Food Inc. exercise near-dictatorial control, to California, the heartland of organic food and farming and anti-GMO sentiment, where 80-85% of the body politic, according to recent polls, support mandatory labeling.

The trillion-dollar biotech, supermarket, and food industry are acutely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of genetically engineered food. Consumers understand that you don’t want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical and biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, or DuPont – the same people who brought us toxic pesticides and industrial chemicals, Agent Orange, carcinogenic food additives, PCBs, and now global warming. Biotech, food, and grocery corporations are alarmed by the fact that every poll over the last 20 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods.

Europe Shows Labels Drive GMOs off the Market

Why are there basically no genetically engineered foods or crops anywhere in Europe, while 75% of U.S. supermarket foods – including many so-called “natural” foods – are GE-tainted? The answer is simple. In Europe genetically engineered foods and ingredients have to be labeled. In the U.S. they do not. Up until now, in North America, Monsanto and the Biotechnocrats have enjoyed free reign to secretly lace non-organic foods with gene-spliced viruses, bacteria, antibiotic-resistant marker genes, and foreign DNA-mutant “Frankenfoods” shown to severely damage the health of animals, plants, and other living organisms in numerous scientific studies.

Monsanto and their allies understand the threat that truth-in-labeling poses for GMOs. As soon as genetically engineered foods start to be labeled in the U.S., millions of consumers will start to read these labels and react. They’ll complain to grocery store managers and companies, they’ll talk to their family and friends. They’ll start switching to foods that are organic or at least GMO-free. Once enough consumers start complaining about GE foods and food ingredients; stores will eventually stop selling them; and farmers will stop planting them.

Genetically engineered foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from ever getting a public discussion, much less coming to a vote in Congress.  And this is why activists are launching the California Ballot Initiative. By moving the battle from the federal level to the state level, by employing one of the last remaining tools of direct grassroots democracy in the USA, the ballot initiative, concerned consumers can bypass Washington and regain their fundamental right to know what they are eating.

Passing mandatory GMO labeling in just one large state, California, where there is tremendous opposition to GE foods as well as a multi-billion dollar organic food industry, will ultimately have the same impact as a national labeling law.

If California food and health activists succeed in putting a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in 2012 and the voters pass it, the biotech and food industry will face an intractable dilemma. Will they dare put labels on their branded food products in just one state, California, admitting these products contain or may contain genetically engineered ingredients, while withholding this ingredient label information in the other states? Will they allow their organic and non-GMO competitors to drive down their GMO-tainted brand market share? The answer to both of these questions is likely no. What most of them will do is start to shift to organic and non-GMO ingredients, so as to avoid what the Monsanto executive 16 years ago aptly described as the “skull and crossbones” label.

California Label Laws Have National Impact: Proposition 65 

A clear indication of the impact of warning labels on consumer products was established in California in 1986 when voters passed, over the strenuous opposition of industry, a ballot initiative called Proposition 65, which required consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels. Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and they did this on a national scale, not just in California.

This same scenario will likely unfold again in California in 2012.  Can you imagine Kellogg’s selling its Corn Flakes breakfast cereal in California with a label that admits it contains or may contain genetically engineered corn? This would be the kiss of death for their iconic brand. How about Kraft Boca Burgers admitting that their soybean ingredients are genetically modified? How about the entire non-organic food industry (including many so-called “natural” brands) admitting that a large proportion of their products are GE-tainted?

Once food manufacturers and supermarkets are forced to come clean and label genetically engineered products, they will likely remove all GE ingredients, to avoid the “skull and crossbones” effect, just like the food industry in the EU has done. In the wake of this development American farmers will convert millions of acres of GE crops to non-GMO or organic varieties.

Finally consumers will be able to tell the difference between organic food (labeled as “organic” and thereby GMO-free); natural food (which will not have a GMO label), and bogus “natural” food (which will be required to display the label “contains or may contain GMOs”).

What Now? The Campaign Needs Volunteers and Money

Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are already gearing up to fight against the California Ballot Initiative. They will literally spend millions to spread lies and disinformation that GMO foods and crops are perfectly safe; and that we need more, not less GMO food and biofuel crops in this era of climate change and growing population, etc. As the campaign progresses, they will lie and say that GMO labels will be costly to the food industry and raise food prices. We’ll have to counter these lies of course, now and throughout the campaign, but first of all we must make sure that the 2012 GE Food Labeling  Initiative actually gets on the ballot.

When corporations like Monsanto decide to launch a ballot initiative in California, or other states, one of the first things they do is hand over a couple of million dollars to a professional petition gathering business. Since, unlike Monsanto, we don’t have a couple of million dollars to spare, we’re going to have to rely on an army of volunteers to gather signatures. These volunteers can be trained and coordinated by our small, but highly dedicated and experienced, paid campaign staff and consultants, but for the most part we must drive this campaign forward with volunteer labor.

In order to hit the ground running in December, gathering 500-700,000 petition signatures of registered voters to put this measure on the ballot, we need your help now. We need an army of thousands of volunteer petition gatherers to step forward in California. And we need money. OCA and our allied lobbying organization, the Organic Consumers Fund, estimate that we need to raise at least $60,000 over the next month in order to effectively play our part in the California Ballot Initiative Campaign, to pay our staff, consultants, and other campaign expenses.

If you want more information, or if you are willing to volunteer to collect petition signatures, or donate money to this campaign click here: http://www.organicconsumersfund.org/label/

It’s time to take back control over our food and farming system. It’s time to stand up to Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies. Join us!

USDA Farm Subsidies: Eliminate or Reform for Small- to Medium-Size, Local Organic Farms?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

For all of the bloviating over the Federal deficit and government spending, I would be interested in a healthy public debate on farm subsidies, especially when considering the vast majority of produce subsidized by the USDA ends up in junk food and factory farming.

What if organic produce, dairy, poultry, and beef grown by local small- and medium-size farms were as cheap by the pound as Big Macs, soft drinks, and Kraft Mac n Cheese? Mark Bittman of the NYT has repeatedly called for farm subsidy reform rather than its elimination in the hopes that the government will make it easier for Americans to afford healthy food: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/dont-end-agricultural-subsidies-fix-them/.

The report, “Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food” by CALPIRG and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, studies the interesting question of whether the nation’s problem with obesity is fueled by farm subsidies (for the executive summary, see: http://www.calpirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/health-care/health-care/apples-to-twinkies2). According to the study, the federal government spent $17 billion of the total $260 billion spent subsidizing agriculture on just four common food additives: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils. By comparison, the government spent only $261 million subsidizing apples, and far less supporting fruits and vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, and blueberries – which are reported to encourage better health. Corn and soy subsidies account for a whopping 40% (over $100 billion) of all agricultural produce subsidies. Consider these commodity crops are used to support livestock and poultry in factory farming (think “Food, Inc.”). (More reasons for Melt® to be organic, non-GMO, and soy-free!)

The Environmental Working Group has put together an interesting primer on farm subsidies, with fine-grained data on their allocation and the link is included here for your reference: (http://farm.ewg.org/region.php?fips=00000&progcode=total). It is interesting to note that 10 percent of all farmers collected 74 percent of all subsidies, amounting to $165.9 billion over 16 years.

To put things in perspective, the PIRG study states that if the government had given taxpayers the subsidies instead of the farmers, each taxpayer would have been given $7.36 to spend on junk food and just 11 cents to spend on apples per year. This does not include taxpayer dollars used to subsidize corn and soy used for factory farming and by extension the fast food, beef, and poultry industries, which is probably a far larger number. This is a key factor that makes junk food cheaper than healthy food, which contributes to greater obesity rates in the United States.

 

“Food, Inc”: Vote with Your Checkbook and Revolutionize the Food Industry

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I justified taking three years to finally watch “Food, Inc” – a well produced documentary on the meat, poultry, soy, and corn industries – because I changed how I sourced meat in my diet years ago, eating only organic, grass-fed meat. I wish I could call out the 4-5 companies this movie highlights, but I risk legal action because of some odd pro-industry laws that do not protect individuals. You would think I am protected by my right to free speech, but remember when Oprah was sued for sharing her views on hamburgers? If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it as it is quite an eye-opener.

Ultimately, “Food, Inc” is not about the disturbing dominance of GMO soy and corn, poorly raised and abused animals in unimaginable conditions, and unacceptable slaughtering and processing environments. “Food, Inc” at its core is about a lack of respect – possibly contempt – these companies have for the animals, the planet, the farmers, the workers who process the meat, and the consumers who eat this “food”. When you buy organic products like Melt®, made with EcoSocial and Fair Trade ingredients, organic meat and poultry, and or locally grown food, you are voting for respect, which translates into health and wellness. By the way, I am quite pleased to announce Melt® is now soy-free!

There was a time when I believed the highest road for combating the unethical and unhealthy beef and poultry industries was to become vegetarian. In fact, I was vegetarian for 7 years, long enough to find the smell of cooking meat to be revolting. Not only did vegetarianism not work for me nutritionally, as it turns out, I was also supporting the very companies I did not want to support through the purchase of food products containing non-organic soy and corn (and its derivatives).  I wasn’t just losing a source of protein, iron, minerals, and vitamin B-12, I was replacing meat with nutritionally inferior foods, specifically soy-based foods.  I was amazed at how much better I felt – almost immediately – when I began eating meat again (organic, grass-fed meat only) and practically eliminating the consumption of soy from my diet.

I respect that some feel vegetarianism and veganism are important political and economic statements against the industrialized beef and poultry sectors. However, I would argue that vegetarianism and veganism are choices that may only opt out of the discussion and are potentially very unhealthy. Purchasing sustainably and humanely raised and processed beef and chicken is far more efficient in changing a broken industry by creating demand; on the other hand, excluding meat and animal products from one’s diet is potentially passive and ineffective for initiating measurable change. I welcome you to share your views.

 

For the Love of Baking

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

The topic of baking sticks has not always put a bee in my bonnet. Did you know that every butter substitute baking stick in the grocery store has partially hydrogenated oils? Look and see for yourself – even brands like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, who have removed partially hydrogenated oils from their table spread/ tub version, still have them in their baking stick products. Why do I care? Consumption of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (a synthetic, “lab fat”) have been linked to numerous, preventable diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes type II, digestive disorders, ADHD in children, and so on. Ingestion of small amounts of partially hydrogenated oils matter: according to Hu et al. (N. Eng. J. Med. 1997, 337:1491-1499), for each 1% increase in fat intake, trans fats (i.e., hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) increase the risk of coronary heart disease approximately 46% versus only 3% for equivalent amount of saturated fat. When the front of any food package says “No Trans Fats”, yet lists partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient deck, it is because the FDA allows a “No Trans Fat” statement when there is less than 0.5g per serving of trans fat (i.e., industry “loophole”). Baking sticks… who knew?!

(Close) (Don't Show Again) Recipes and Coupons for You!
Don't Show Again