A mound of heirloom tomatoes!
Here is a fun article on heirloom tomatoes.
I did find it interesting that it’s now trendy to buy heirloom tomatoes from Whole Foods, one of the most expensive grocery store chains in the U.S., when our grandparents and great-grandparents grew these tomatoes from stored seeds, likely passed down through generations, in the back yard garden because they couldn’t afford not to grow their own foods. Oh, how times have changed!
Remember, you can go to your local farmers market and find these tomatoes for likely a much better price. Better yet, order some seeds from an heirloom or open pollinated seed dealer, and grow these tomatoes yourself.
John Kitsteiner, MD
Home Extension Agent Canning Demonstration 1932
I just read an article at the Hobby Farms website, Grow Smart: Keep Food Safe. I was frustrated with it for a number of reasons, but the underlying theme of this article was that we should be scared to raise our own food. What better way to keep the food production in the hands of the big agricultural corporations than to instill fear in those of us that would challenge them? I would recommend reading this short article first (follow this link), and then come on back and see what I have to say about it.
The article documents an interview with Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources. The Extension Services were meant to disseminate information to local farmers and home producers to make their lives better. Unfortunately, it seems that they are becoming just another mouthpiece for Big Ag. Here are a few of his quotes and my issues with them:
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a commercial wholesale grower, hobby farmer, home gardener or direct marketer, the risk of food-borne illness is the same and the precautions that need to be taken are very similar.”
Really? Does he really believe that the risk of my eating a handful of blackberries I picked from the canes growing up the wall in my garden with nothing ever sprayed on them and never even being irrigated is the same as eating blackberries imported to the U.S., which were grown in Mexico, grown under who knows what conditions, sprayed with a variety of chemicals, and then shipped to the local grocer, stocked, and sat on the shelf for a few days before being bought? This fails the common sense test, and unfortunately, I think he really believes what he said.
“Most home gardeners are very cavalier about food-borne illness in the garden. People eat veggies right out of the field or rub off a tomato with a bird dropping on it and then eat it. Some who are at highest risk could even die from related illness.”
This bothers me for a few reasons. First, his comment about “people eating veggies right out of the field”… yeah, I do this. I have no issue with it. I know how I raised my plants. I know what is clean and not clean. Snapping off a floret of cauliflower from your heirloom variety and eating it a half second later is one of the joys of raising your own food. As a physician, I am dumbfounded how people think that the “modern” way of doing things is so vastly superior to how humans lived for thousands of years. I often ask, “Isn’t it amazing that the human species has survived so long without [insert modern item/technique here]?” It is depressing how often people don’t realize I am being sarcastic.
Second, he lumps eating “veggies right out of the field” with “Rub[bing] off a tomato with a bird dropping on it” and then eating it. These two are not the same thing. Eating bird feces is stupid. Eating a fresh, clean tomato just picked from under its shelter of leaves is delightful. To lump these together is to make the uninformed reader pair these practices in their mind. It causes a person to have just a tiny bit of doubt about the food they are raising. If they are not raising their own food, then it adds a gross factor to gardening. It discourages that person from ever starting a garden. It causes them to feel just a little more protected by the industrial food complex who must know more about keeping fruit and vegetables clean than they do, since they never really thought about it before in the first place. Subtle indoctrination is what I call it.
Third, he doesn’t stop at the subtle. Mr. Ballard then drops the “some who are at highest risk could even die from related illness” comment into the article. Here is the flat out fear-mongering approach to keep a person from starting a garden. Who is at highest risk? He doesn’t say. Is it me? You? Our kids? Gosh, I don’t know? Maybe we should just let the “professionals” raise our food for us and keep us safe! This is exactly what we should NOT do. We do not need to be relying on multi-million and multi-billion dollar agri-corporations who utilize and take advantage of anonymous farmers and farm workers from around the globe to keep us safe. If we want more food security, if we want more food safety, then we need to be growing our own food. We need to be buying locally from farmers we know and trust.
“Really think about all the places where microbes can contact your food all along the production, harvest and preparation process. That chain of quality, safety and cleanliness has to remain unbroken from start to finish.”
It’s not that I completely disagree with this statement, but coming on the heels of what was said previously, I need to point out that our food does not need to be sterile. We don’t need to spray all our vegetables with bleach, and then rinse all the bleach off with previously boiled water, and then cook our food until all the nutrients are destroyed, just to make sure we don’t accidentally ingest a few microbes. Our bodies are amazingly able to handle many of those dreaded microbes, and in fact, our bodies would not work as well without some of them. We need to fight the notion that all bacteria and fungi are bad for us. We need to fight the notion that modern science and medicine have it all figured out. One hundred years ago, who would have thought we would be giving bacteria pills (probiotics) to patients with gastrointestinal issues? Of course, they probably didn’t need them then, but the point is that we still have so much to learn about how the body functions. To push an idea (the unbroken “chain of quality, safety, and cleanliness”) that is probably needed (due to the large-scale, internationally shipped, food system) and discourages alternatives (locally grown or home grown food) is the height of arrogance and foolishness. We need to change this.
“Municipal is best, groundwater second-best and then surface water.”
This quote was in the discussion on irrigation water. There is no way we can accept such a generalized statement. There are too many variables. If your groundwater has contaminants, and we should be regularly testing our well/groundwater, then obviously we should avoid using it on our fruits and vegetables. Most municipal water is going to be treated with chlorine and fluoride and may contain residuals of hundreds of other chemicals that have been deemed to have a low enough concentration to be safe. That doesn’t sound like the best choice to me. However, I do agree that surface water is the last choice for irrigation of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ideally, fresh rain is the best irrigation source, followed by stored rain water that has an initial run-off redirection system in place to keep the stored water uncontaminated, then depending on local conditions either well/groundwater or municipal water. But I shouldn’t be the one needing to point this out.
In conclusion, I need to be fair and state that there are some good comments on contamination avoidance, but the article is so besot with fear and generalizations, that I cannot recommend it. Hobby Farms is a good magazine, but they should do better than print an article of this caliber.
John Kitsteiner, MD
Inside the cooling room at Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese
I recently read about a recall of over 14 tons of ground beef in Vermont. This got me thinking about a number of things.
First, this is a lot of meat. I wondered how many steers (or old dairy cows) it takes to make 14 tons of ground beef. This is not such a simple question to answer. Was the beef made from mostly old dairy cows, which would be used almost entirely for ground beef, or was the beef from large-breed, healthy steers, which would be used for steaks, roasts, and other cuts, with a much smaller portion going into ground beef production? Let’s for arguments sake pick a number somewhere in the middle of the two realms… 500 lbs. This would mean that it would take 56 animals to produce 14 tons of ground meat. I’m not anti-meat by any means, but this is an unnecessary waste of life. Unfortunately, this recall pales in comparison to the 71,500 tons of beef recalled in 2008. Using our math, that would be over 280,000 animals “wasted”. I can understand why people become vegetarians, not for health issues, but on moral ones.
I also thought about how these types of recalls are really a product of large scale agriculture. Is there anything inherently wrong with large scale agriculture? Well, I don’t know. I do know that there are a lot of problems that arise from the practices associated with it. I know that there is a lot of waste. I know that there is a lot of environmental damage. I know that the product being produced is typically far inferior in flavor and nutrition. I know that when a mistake is made, that mistake is proportionately as large as the corporation behind it. So, yeah, maybe there is something inherently wrong with large scale agriculture.
Now, I also had to admit that there can be contamination and illness issues from small, local producers. However, these issues are going to be significantly smaller. They will affect substantially less people. In addition, when it is a smaller operation, fewer mistakes are made. This is just logical. When you are only processing five animals from your farm, you will have much greater attention to detail. Your mind won’t start to drift and daydream because you are doing something new the whole time. You will not be lulled into autopilot as you do the same thing over and over again. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens on the factory floors of the large animal processing facilities. Of course I understand that the small scale beef producer rarely processes his own meat, but the point is that smaller is usually safer.
As my mind was running through these issues, I kept thinking about how important it is for us to get to know our local farmers and food producers. This is the key to preventing these atrocious food recalls. Getting to know your local farmer can be a bit difficult to accomplish if you have no experience doing it; however, it is possible if you are determined to do so. Our goal in creating AgriTrue is to make this process not only easy, but enjoyable.
To this day, even though I no longer live in south-central Kentucky, I still consider Kenny Mattingly, a friend. Kenny is a dairy farmer and cheese-maker in Austin, Kentucky. I have travelled through and eaten in over two dozen countries on five continents, so I feel I am fairly objective when I say that he produces some of the world’s best cheese. His Old World, handmade method of cheese making is what sets Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese apart from the mass-produced dairy products found on most supermarket shelves.
Serving in the military has given me the opportunity to live overseas. I am currently stationed in the Azores. These small Portuguese islands rise up in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and by their very nature of being remote islands they have been forced to be sustainable in their food production. Just a few weeks after moving here, I was delighted to meet Telma (similar to the American name, Thelma). Her and her two sisters run a dairy and beef business. Their father was a dairyman, and the sisters realized that the quality of milk and meat were much lower than it could be. They wanted to change that. They set to work creating a sustainable, healthy agricultural system using only quality products. They now produce some of the only fresh milk for the island, which by the way is also healthier than most milk sold in the U.S., and they have created, and sell, a class of meat that in the U.S. would best be described as organic-grassfed.
These are just two examples of local food producers I have met over the years whose passion for and the quality of the food they produce make it all but impossible for me to buy at the local supermarket any more. Both of these people saw how things were being done and thought, “We could do better.” And they did. These are the people we need to get to know. This is the food we need to eat.
If we all started to do this across the country, maybe our grandchildren would only hear about food recalls in stories about the old days before they were born. Let’s do more than hope. Let’s do better. Let’s make it happen. Get to know your local farmers.
John Kitsteiner, MD
Riesling grapevines in Germany’s Mosel River Valley
A friend and I were talking the other day after a meal in a food court, and we realized how long it had been since we had eaten at this one specific fast food restaurant. I won’t name that eating establishment, since in reality, they are all so much alike it would be unfair to single one out. We both realized that the items just eaten were not really food. The best term we could come up with was “food-like”. Yeah, it was beef, but what parts and what else was added to it? Yeah, there was some bread-type stuff, but it didn’t really taste like anything our grandparents would have called bread. The vegetables were tasteless. The sauces over-powering. The meal ended with our stomachs feeling full, but our brains and tastebuds telling us that we had yet to eat anything real.
This brought to mind a fabulous French word, terroir. Terroir really has no other word in any language that is quite like it.
By definition, terroir is the combination of natural elements (geography, climate, soil type, topography, and other environmental factors that are beyond human control) that create the special characteristics of wines grown in different locations.
It has also been translated as “a sense of place“. Beautiful.
I don’t have as developed a palate to be able to distinguish the nuances of terroir in my wine, but I love the whole idea of identifying flavor with a sense of place.
While not following the strict definition of terroir, I would say that there have been three meals in my life that truly have given me a sense of place. Without being too flamboyant, they have let me taste the region I was in at the time. It is hard for me to put into words exactly what I mean, but when every component of a meal is produced from within a few miles of where you are eating, I think the meal comes together is a way few modern American meals ever do. They just feel and taste right.
An example of Feijoada
I think I first experienced this while eating in Guarapuava, Brazil. The meal was a simple black beans and rice dish with a dark, rich stew of beef and pork parts called Feijoada. To this day, I don’t know what parts I was eating. Maybe pork ear, maybe beef tongue, maybe rib meat, I don’t know, maybe all of them… seriously, those are common ingredients for this dish. This dish often takes days to make, and the rich, succulent meat with the earthy beans was simply amazing. It was a perfect pairing to the verdant Brazilian landscape with rich black soil.
Nigerian Goat Stew with Fufu
Not a great photo, but the only one I have of the final meal.
Loretta making fufu (pounded white yams)
I also experienced a sense of place while eating in Jos, Nigeria. I watched, and helped a little, as a new and great friend Loretta made us a goat (and fish) stew that was served with fufu (pounded white yams – a chewy, starchy tuber not anything like the “yams” in the U.S. – which are really sweet potatoes). All the ingredients were bought that morning in the local market and were grown or caught in the nearby fields and rivers. This was a basic, traditional meal that captured the flavors of the region. The meal was spicy and earthy just like the hot and dusty Nigerian summer.
An example of Wildschweinbraten.
The third meal was eaten in the Mosel River Valley in Beilstein, Germany. I had wildschweinbraten (slow roasted wild boar) with a creamy wine and wild mushroom sauce. A side of hot rotkohl (cooked red cabbage) and bratkartoffein (German fried potatoes). This was accompanied with a bottle of Riesling. Everything, and I mean everything, was locally procured. The boar and mushrooms were hunted in the woods at the top of the ridge. The cream was from a local dairy. The potatoes and cabbage were grown by a couple of elderly sisters who lived in the small town. And the wine… from grapes grown within view of the small patio on which I was dining and overlooking the slowly moving Mosel River. Never have I tasted food and wine that blended so perfectly together… as if they were grown specifically for that one meal. That may have been the best meal I have had in my life.
I highly recommend learning how to raise your own foods, but that is not an option for all of us for a variety of reasons. If you cannot, then finding local producers will help you find and capture your own sense of place. It will help you understand and taste our your own terroir.
John Kitsteiner, MD
Atrazine being sprayed. http://www.peoplesworld.org/assets/Uploads/Atrazine.jpg
Following is a great article from Mother Earth News on Atrazine, an herbicide that has been around for a long time and has been under fire for health risks. This type of double-speak from the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) is why we need more transparency in agriculture… it is why we need AgriTrue.
Ban Atrazine NOW!
By Top Philpott
Atrazine is the second most widely used pesticide in the United States. Farmers have been using it since its registration in 1958 to control weeds in fields of corn, grain sorghum and other crops, and it has pervasively contaminated our drinking water for years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticide use, has been operating under the assumption that atrazine (produced by Syngenta) is “not likely to be a human carcinogen.” But in 2009, the agency launched what it called a “comprehensive new evaluation of atrazine to determine its effects on humans.”
Please keep reading here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/ban-atrazine-zmgz12amzrog.aspx
First, some definitions:
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO): An organism (life form) whose DNA has been altered using genetic engineering.
Genetically Engineered Organism (GEO): Another name for GMOs.
Transgenic Organisms: A type of GMO that has DNA inserted from another species.
Jurassic Park? Yes. Fiction? No.
GMOs have been around for well over 30 years. What I want to do today is give some basic information using actual GMO life forms as examples.
Genentech, in 1978, created a bacteria that could produce human insulin. Before that time, people with insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus (a.k.a. Diabetes) had to use insulin from the pancreas of animals. Herbert Boyer took the genes from a human that produced human insulin, and he was able to insert them into a bacteria, E. coli. The bacteria produced mass quantities of human insulin that was easy to refine. Currently, almost all insulin used for diabetes is produced from GMO E. coli. To me, this is one example of the good that genetic engineering can do for humanity. While nothing is truly “safe”, this is about as safe an application as you can get, and the benefits, in my opinion, do outweigh the risks.
Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotech corporation, has created many types of GMO food plants. One of the most well known is the genetically modified Roundup-Ready Canola. Roundup is a very strong herbicide – a chemical used to kill plants. Canola is a cultivar (developed variety) of Rapeseed, and canola plants gives us canola oil. Monsanto makes Roundup, and a number of years ago they genetically engineered a type of canola to be resistant to Roundup. Farmers can plant Roundup-Ready Canola, and when the weeds start to interfere with the canola’s growth, the farmer can spray the fields with Roundup. Every plant in the field exposed to Roundup dies leaving the canola to keep growing unhindered. For years, the Roundup label stated that Roundup degrades over time, but interestingly, this was recently taken off the label.
Since 1990, Monsanto has sued 145 farmers for “patent infringement”. Monsanto claims that farmers are using their GMO plants without paying for them. Many of these lawsuits have involved farmers who saved a small portion of their seeds from one harvest and planted them the next growing season. Monsanto claimed that they owned any life form that contains their Roundup Ready genes. All these farmers lost the lawsuits. They lost a lot of money. Sometimes they lost their farms. One of these farmers who refused to destroy the seeds he saved spent eight months in prison.
Probably the most well known lawsuit involved Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer. The details are rather fuzzy, as usually happens in a long and drawn out court case, but the farmer claims not to have planted Monsanto canola in his field. His neighbors did. Monsanto obtained samples of Schmeiser’s canola, and they contained the genes that Monsanto had created in their labs. The farmer claims that his neighbor’s Roundup Ready Canola genes spread… as plant genes often do – it’s part of botanical sexual reproduction called pollination! The judge ruled in favor of Monsanto. This spurred a March 2011 lawsuit involving over 60 farmers in the U.S. and Canada. The farmers were pre-emptively suing Monsanto to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement just in case their land ever became contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, plants, or genes.
Monsanto’s GMO Corn has been linked to liver and kidney failure. Monsanto’s GMO corn has already been approved by the U.S. and Europe. The International Journal of Biological Sciences article author, Gilles-Eric Seralini, wrote in a response ”Our study contradicts Monsanto’s conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMOs, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data.” This is current and disturbing. Keep watching this to see where it goes.
How about “Malaria-Resistant Mosquitoes”? Sounds wonderful when you realize that almost a million people are killed each year by mosquitos. But what happens when these mosquitos develop a new strain of malaria? What if that strain in a “resistant” mosquito is now resistant to all the antibiotics that we use to treat malaria? Malaria consistently becomes resistant to our current antibiotics. I can’t imagine an antibiotic-resistant malaria… terrifying.
Universities and corporations have already created genetically engineered pigs (that produce less phosphorus), salmon (with a growth hormone to grow twice as fast), strawberries (that have fish genes to make them frost resistant; a.k.a. “fishberries”), cows (that produce human milk instead of cows milk). These animals, plants, or combinations of the two, actually exist right now. What happens if these genes “contaminate” wild populations of animals or plants? What are the consequences? The bottom line is that we just don’t know.
Arguments for GMOs
GMOs are just an extension of traditional breeding.
Not even close. As you can see from above, you could never traditionally develop a strawberry with fish genes!
GMO plants will feed the world.
Proudly touted by GMO corporations, but also false. A common fact understood by those in international humanitarian work is that there is plenty of food in the world to feed every human being. It is the governments and the wars and the tribes and the people who prevent the food from getting to the hungry. Hunger will not be solved by genes, but by people working together.
GMOs are safe. The FDA and USDA and EPA allow them.
I won’t go into a lengthy list of all the things that were previously allowed and then caused hundreds and thousands of deaths (asbestos and agent orange, anyone?). A government agency allowing something does not mean it is safe.
Unless you are growing all your own food or you are going out of your way to research and buy only non-GMO food, then you are likely eating some GM food. It is almost inevitable. Almost.
I am hopeful that AgriTrue will help make this entire subject of GMO’s in our food a lot more transparent and a lot easier to navigate.
John Kitsteiner, MD
“I really don’t want to eat food with chemicals all over (and in) them, but organic food is so expensive. Do I have to eat only organic food to be healthy?”
This is a common thought process for those of us concerned about the quality of our food. In my opinion we should do all we can to avoid any and all foods that have chemicals applied to them during any stage of a plant’s lifecycle. We can get tied down with semantics on the definition of chemicals, but I am going to use the term in the common vernacular… roughly meaning manmade chemicals used to enhance growth or production or applied to kill animal or plant pests. With any definition, we have little reliable, trustworthy data on the safety of chemicals in modern agriculture, and in many cases the data we do have shows these chemicals are definitely or potentially harmful to humans.
For me, in an ideal world, all my food would be produced naturally with no chemicals whatsoever. But we live in the real world, and it is tough, and usually expesive, to eat a “chemical free” diet all the time. This leads people to feel overwhelmed and obsessed trying to find “healthy” foods. They will often severely limit the variety in their diet due to lack of “chemical free” food products and sources, or they will spend increasingly more and more money to purchase these items from many far away locations. Unfortunately, many of these people eventually give up and choose to consciously ignore these concerns, because it is just easier to live life and eat food without these worries.
But is there a middle ground?
The answer is yes! Obviously, I think AgriTrue will be a valuable tool to find producers that raise food in a way that is important to us. I hope that one day we will be able to eat totally “chemical free” in a simple, local way for a reasonable price tag. But that is not the purpose of this article.
The growing concerns about chemical pesticide exposure in our food is exactly why the Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed its annual list of “clean” and “dirty” foods. From EWG’s website:
The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles. In 2002, we founded the EWG Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that advocates on Capitol Hill for health-protective and subsidy-shifting policies. EWG specializes in providing useful resources to consumers while simultaneously pushing for national policy change.
Their Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce. Here is their list:
The Dirty Dozen
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/Collard Greens
The Clean Fifteen
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet Potatoes
John Kitsteiner, M.D.
Grassfed is Best!
You can eat meat and be healthy! In fact, you can eat meat and get more healthy than you are now. I rarely say this seriously, but I will now… Trust me, I’m a doctor. If the answer is not obvious from the title of this post, then let me be more specific. The key to this “miracle” is in the pasture. The key is eating grassfed meat.
“Grassfed” is a word used to convey the idea that an animal is fed primarily or solely from pasture (typically a mix of species, primarily grass-type plants). Pretty simple in concept; however that is not what most of modern agriculture does. “Grassfed Animal Products” refer mainly to meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. Obviously, a lot of other animal products can be produced from animals on a grassfed diet, but these are the ones that are most researched.
Grass is best for most of our domesticated animals. Think about it. What do wild bison eat? Grass! Do wild sheep raise corn, wheat, and soybeans and then dine only on this? No! Then why do we feed our domestic animals these things? Effecient production. That is it. Modern agriculture has deemed it appropriate to break with thousands of years of natural animal-food cycles and force animals to eat what they are not designed to eat in order to maximize growth and production.
Besides the negative effects that modern feedlots have on animals’ health (which is outlined extremely well in the book, An Omnivore’s Dilema, by Michael Pollan), there are real health consequences in humans that eat animals that were raised this way.
Let me boldly say that I am against vegetarianism. There are a number of reasons for this that I hope to outline in a future post, but suffice it to say that humans eat meat. “Westernized” humans eat a lot of meat. While there is a whole bunch of medical information out there to say we should cut back on our meat consumption for health reasons, almost all of that information considers only meat produced using the modern agricultural method.
I will provide some basic facts about grassfed meat. I will provide some additional sources for more information at the end of this post. But the information I am about to provide is very legitimate. I tell my patients this, because I feel that the research done on this is solid.
- Grassfed meat is significantly lower in fat than grain-fed meat.
- Grassfed meat can lower LDL (low density lipoprotein… bad cholesterol).
- Grassfed meat has significantly less calories than grain-fed meat – about 15 calories per ounce (that is about 100 less calories for a 6 oz portion of steak).
- Grassfed meat has 2-6 times the Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat (which is good for your heart and brain as well as improving your odds against cancer).
- Pastured chickens can produce eggs that have up to 20 times the Omega-3 fatty acid as commercial eggs.
- Grassfed meat and milk can contain up to 5 times the amount of Conjegated Linoleic Acid (CLA) as grain-fed meat and milk (the preliminary research on CLA looks very promising on cancer prevention).
- Grassfed meat has up to 4 times the vitamin E than grain-fed meat (vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant… which is good for heart, brain, and cancer).
- Finally, Grassfed meat tastes really good! Because it has less fat, you need to cook it a bit different, but the taste is fantastic. I hope to give some more tips on cooking grassfed meat in the future.
For those that are more visually minded, here are a few charts that compare grassfed to grain-fed meat:
How much fat is in Grassfed Mead?
Another look at fat content in Grassfed Meat.
Comparing fat content of Wild Meat to Grassfed Meat.
Look how fast the healthy Omega-3's disappear after coming off a grass diet!
Vitamin E content in Grassfed Meat.
Here are some links to a couple of articles on Grassfed meat:
Time Magazine article on Grassfed Meat
Women’s Health article on Grassfed Meat
Once we get our site up and running, AgriTrue will be a great resource for finding producers of grassfed meat. Stay tuned!
Hello AgriTrue community!
My name is Tim Priebe and I am one of the partners in AgriTrue. We welcome you to our site and wanted to let you know of the progress that we are making here.
By way of a background, I am an attorney and very involved with this community. Part of my role here is to keep this community updated with new laws and cases that could effect the foods that we all consume daily. I will also be working with our producers to make sure that when you see the AgriTrue label that you can be assured that the food products will stand up to AgriTrue’s requirements.
First, why do we feel that AgriTrue is necessary?
I guess the best way to answer that is to ask- who do you want informing you of how the food that you consume is grown or raised, the market place itself or the government?
You see, as it exits now the government (through federal and state laws) sets the standards for when a product is “organic”. This can and does lead to many problems. For example, from the consumerunion.org (the publisher of Consumer Reports):
A recent court decision ruled that only natural ingredients should be allowed in foods labeled as “organic.” This ruling reinforces our current organic labeling law by keeping chemically-derived synthetic substances from being used in foods labeled as “organic”.
But industry groups are lobbying Congress to change the law so that artificial ingredients can be included in foods labeled “organic”! Specifically, food producers such as the Organic Trade Association, Kraft Foods and others seek to amend the Organic Foods Production Act (passed in 1990) so that synthetic substances can be used in food products labeled as “organic.” They claim that consumers do not care about their use in “organic” food and are trying to slip this change into the law without any public input.
When you have a situation where the producers (often large corporations) of a food item can pay to have their lobbyists change the existing law, then you are taking away from the true nature of what used to be known as organic. When I walk the isle of a supermarket today and see the label “organic”, I chuckle because I know how the word has been highjacked for the sake of the dollar.
It was from the disgust of seeing the word used only to market products to many well-meaning but ill-informed consumers that AgriTrue was born.
What is considered legally “organic” can be very consuming. For example, there are some products that do not have to abide by the federal law but do fall under certain state laws. There was recently a story regarding the cosmetic industry that highlights this issue.
From the www.fdalawblog.net website:
…”cosmetic products sold in California are subject to the California Organic Products Act of 2003 (“COPA”). Under this law, cosmetics labeled or represented as “organic” must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 110838(a). Cosmetics with “less than 70 percent organically produced ingredients, . . . may only identify the organic content” if each organic ingredient is identified in the ingredient statement as “organic” or if the “product’s percentage of organic contents” is indicated “on the information panel.” “
There is currently a lawsuit in California where 34 cosmetic companies are listed as defendants. The lawsuit claims that none of these companies is complying with the California law and are therefore mislabeling their products. The bottom line? 34 companies are alleged to be selling mislabeled products. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that the very law that allows something to be labeled as “organic” just needs to contain 70 percent of organically produced ingredients! What is the other 30 percent?!
With AgriTrue you will not have to wade through these types of issues. We will be supplying you with information upfront regarding the producers who will be using the AgriTrue label. You will be able to quickly and easily find out vital information about every producer so you can make the decision on whether to buy from them or not.
We are very excited to get Agritrue out to you. We are working hard to get this completed. We will keep you updated on our progress. Thanks for reading!
Timothy J. Priebe, Esq.
Farmers Markets are great places to find fresh foods.
Greetings, and welcome to AgriTrue. We are getting close to having our site go live, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about getting it up and running. I am the project manager for AgriTrue, and I have spent many hours working behind the scenes to make this idea a reality.
As a Family Medicine physician, I have seen how the food we consume can make us unhealthy. I have seen how the food we eat can literally kill us. Half of the battle for our health is deciding to make good choices in the food we eat. But once we have made that decision, we have to act on it.
But how can we make good food choices when we don’t even know what we are eating anymore? Where did that vegetable come from? Is it even from this continent? How long ago was it picked? What vitamins and phytonutrients have been lost in the transoceanic voyage it made? What chemical was sprayed on it, and is it still there in the plant’s cells ready to be consumed by us? It gets even more complicated when it comes to meat and dairy.
These questions cannot be answered by going to the local grocery store’s produce aisle.
Connecting the people who produce food with those who eat it. It’s a simple concept, but it is a concept that has been lacking for too long in the U.S. There are a growing number of farmer’s markets and there are more and more CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and cooperatives being created across the country every week. But what do you know about those vendors? How can you find out about the things that are important to you about your food?
You can go out and visit the farms. Talk to the people who produce your food. I highly recommend this, but it is very, very time consuming. Few of us will actually do this. So what are we left to do?
This is what AgriTrue is all about, and this is why I am so excited about it. AgriTrue is about information, and it is about relationships.
AgriTrue will provide a place where we can find out where our food comes from, who produced it, how they produced it, and why they produced it. AgriTrue will help us make informed decisions about our food.
I can hardly wait!
John Kitsteiner, M.D.