Merry Christmas! See you all in 2010.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Merry Christmas! See you all in 2010.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As opposed to this, rendering animal fat is an incredibly easy process. All you need is a healthy, grass-fed source of animal fat and a big pot. Cut the fat into cubes, place them in the pot, and place over a low temperature. You can use the oven on a very low setting as well (for our oven, that's about 180). Stir it up every 30 minutes or so. When the fat has sufficiently rendered, pour into glass jars. Store in the fridge.
Why would you want to render animal fat? Well, for one, it's the only stable fat to cook with. Vegetable oils are very unstable and hence quickly oxidize making them a poor choice for cooking (some would say they're already oxidized by the time they're put on the grocery store shelves). For a multitude of other reasons to include saturated fats in your diet, check out the links below.
- The brilliance that is Dr. Stephan Guyenet: Stephan's entire blog is a treasure-trove of information. "The Dirty Little Secret of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis" is a grand place to start.
- Weston A Price's primer on fats. It's a good place to start if you're still convinced that vegetable oils are a healthy choice.
- The Daily Lipid. All of it.
- Lard is making a comeback.
- "Lard, the New Health Food" by Food & Wine.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.):
Over the last couple decades, grocery store supermarkets have been facing growing competition for the food dollar. More and more time-pressed people are eating out on a regular basis or buying takeout meals. Also, a greater variety of stores are selling groceries, with warehouse club stores and supercenters becoming some of the biggest food sellers. To compete with restaurants, fast food outlets, and club and supercenter stores, grocery stores have been selling more general merchandise items and providing a greater variety of services to cater to the one-stop shopper. They are also selling more prepared foods, deli items, and food to go. Some provide tables for eating in the store.
Grocery stores are getting out of the food selling business and aiming their sites at where the real money is, getting consumers in there to pick up a quick, microwaveable meal or a bag of lettuce they can eat with their rotisserie chicken. We are losing our connection to food at an astronomical rate. We have been convinced that an industry can do it better, that we don't have time, that it's the same thing to buy that bottle of whatever as it is to make it with your own hands. Only, none of that is true.
I always do this mental deconstruction when I look at these packaged foods. For instance, when I look at salad dressing, I visually break it down to all of its raw ingredients and then review how many steps in manufacturing it took to bring that product to fruition. An orange juice company would like you to look at that tetra pack of orange juice and think about oranges and how nutritious they are. The manufacturer wants you to think that the juice in that foiled box is kissed by mother nature herself. If you ever make your own juice, you know that it doesn't last for more than a few hours. So, where's the magic here?
The magic is really just an illusion:
- Picked oranges arrive at the manufacturing plant where they are sorted, washed with detergents, cut and squeezed by mechanical instruments.
- Juice to be concentrated undergoes high-pressure steam to heat the juice which then evaporates the water.
- The pulp is separated from the juice using ultra-filtration and extreme heat pasteurization.
- The clarified juice is concentrated using heat and reverse osmosis.
- The concentrate and pulp are recombined.
- The juice is stored in large metal vats until it is ready for packaging or for use in other food materials.
- Before using, "flavor packs" are added to the orange juice as much of its flavor and freshness has been lost in processing and storage. And, no, these flavoring agents are not listed, and by law, do not have to be.
What the consumer ends up with, whether it's orange juice, apple juice, mayonnaise, salad dressing, whatever it is, is the same thing: a container filled with some denatured substance trying to convince your taste buds that all is well.
And that's just orange juice. 100% industrialized juice. Here's what Anders Olson, marketing director for Tetra Pak UK recently said when discussing a, then, newly launched 'smoothie' product aimed at children, called, "Happy Monkey":
“The kids market can be one of the toughest to crack, however the fully brandable surface of cartons makes them a good choice for brands wishing to target kids and parents alike. Happy Monkey does a good job of this, with its funky, ‘just for kids’ branding, and parent-pleasing nutritional values.”"Pleasing nutritional values". Right.
O.k., enough heaviness.. yeesh! Any ideas on what convenience food I should tackle first? I'd love to hear it!
- Speaking of orange juice, Alissa Hamilton, author of, "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice", has a great little interview over at the Boston Globe. Send it to all of your juice-loving friends.
- Factory farms and their link to human health.
- The Economist on "the fad for functional foods"
- Bad chicken, bad, bad, bad!
- Mmm... flattened cheese product wrapped in plastic. Delish!
- Gamma irradiation? Fumigation? Zero-bacteria emulsions? No, it's not the making of a sci-fi flick, it's the employed technologies in manufacturing commercial spices and salad dressings.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I happened upon a vending machine, the other day, with plastic bottles filled with flavoured milk. Gross. There were all sorts of crazy flavours, meant to make the milk look fun and exciting. In an attempt to make their product more palatable to a generation used to highly sweetened and flavoured products, the manufacturer loaded up their ultra-pasteurized (read: ultra-dead) milk with sugars, preservatives, and chemical flavour enhancers. What's left? Definitely nothing of nutritional value.
Years ago, in an attempt to get in some good quality protein (as the fitness industry reminds us we must do), I opted for shake after shake of whey protein. To be sure, I bought the good stuff, high quality with no sweeteners or flavouring, but I still ended up developing intolerances to the stuff. In retrospect, I see the folly of ingesting an extract of a whole food. Today, we stick with whole sources of protein, complete with the entire nutritional profile inherent in that food. I want all of it: the vitamins, the minerals, the fat, and the high quality protein. Everything serves a purpose.
Our oldest daughter, a competitive rower, makes herself a protein shake every morning, after her workouts. Her immunity remains high, even when under stress from her demanding training schedule and her fitness level continues to improve at a phenomenal rate. Most of all, she recovers very quickly from intense training. She has been able to significantly increase her lean, muscle mass while remaining very lean. I don't attribute all of this to her post-workout shake, what she does with her diet for the remainder of the day is just as important, but the shake is a significant boon to her recovery, giving her body just what it needs while in a depleted state.
It's so easy to make and far superior to any product touting some miracle result. The key is to find local producers that are able to provide you with nutritionally dense products from healthy animals. I would never consume raw eggs from a grocery store, nor do I think that all raw milk is safe. Just another reason to get out there and meet your local farmers!
Your farmer is waiting:
- Local Harvest
- CSA Farms Canada
- Eat Well Guide
- Eat Wild
- Simply 'Google' local farms/biodynamic/grass-fed/organic +farms +your local region. Contact the farmers and ask if they would have you out to see what they're up to. Most farmers are happy to show consumers what they are raising and producing on their land. Some of my most cherished relationships are ones that started out with a simple farm visit.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
- Environmental Working Group: PCBs in Farmed Salmon
- Desire Fish Company: About farmed fish
- David Suzuki Foundation: Open net cage fish farming
- Chicago Tribune: Organic definition for fish flounders
- New York Times: A seafood snob ponders the future of fish
- Enterprise News: Naturally, a new meaning of organic smells fishy
- InjuryBoard.com: Fish food fight - can salmon be organic?
- InjuryBoard.com: Proposed "organic" standards for fish fail consumer expectations
- The David Suzuki foundation also offers free, downloadable reports on the status of wild salmon in Canada. You can find these reports here, just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
If you're looking for raw, enzymatically-alive nuts, I'd recommend looking for almonds grown in Spain. Alternatively, you may be able to find a California almond producer that will sell almonds directly to you, unpasteurized.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Then, I caught a glimpse of my beloved on the book shelf - my worn out, dog-eared copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories". I realized how long it had been since I had me a good dose of the ingenius, Monsieur Gary Taubes. It's been far too long.
So, with a cuppa' tea in hand, I sat down to listen to a debate between Gary (we're on a first name basis in my imagination) and Dr. Ronald Krauss. This is an oldie, but a goodie. If you haven't heard this little ditty before, I guarantee it's worth thirty minutes of your time. It's a great introduction to the problems with carbohydrates and the erred demonization of fat. Gary Taubes for President!
Don't eat your veggies with butter or your berries with cream? Sorry, no happy heart for you. Eating low fat? Sorry, that doesn't work either. Um, vegetable fat? Nope, it has to be full-fat, creamy deliciousness, animal products. Wow, how often do studies actually show that we shouldn't deprive ourselves?
Those fat soluble vitamins and nutrients need fat to be absorbed by the body. So, there you have it. Smother that broccoli in butter. Drizzle ghee on your cauliflower. Dollop some raw, creme fraiche on your berries. Or, you could just take my youngest daughter's lead and use ghee as a dip for your cheese. Yes, even I shudder at that one.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
NEWCASTLE, England, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Half of British women lack vitamin A due to a genetic variation, scientists found.
Researchers at Newcastle University in England, led by Dr. Georg Lietz, found 47 percent of volunteer group of 62 women carried a genetic variation that prevented their bodies from effectively converting beta-carotene into vitamin A.
The findings suggest beta carotene may not be an effective substitute for vitamin A for women whose bodies are not able to make the conversion, Lietz said. Beta carotene has been suggested for pregnant women since a 1987 study linked too much vitamin A with certain birth defects.
"Worryingly, younger women are at particular risk," Lietz said in a statement. "The older generations tend to eat more eggs, milk and liver which are naturally rich in vitamin A, whereas the health-conscious youngsters on low-fat diets are relying heavily on the beta-carotene form of the nutrient."
The study findings were published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal and were presented at the Hohenheim Nutrition Conference in Stuttgart, Germany.Deep, yellow fat on pasture raised animals indicative of high vitamin a content and overall health resulting from the animal eating what it's supposed to eat: grass and living where it's supposed to live: outside in the sunshine.Further reading on Vitamin A. Why you need it. Where to get it.
- Vitamin A Saga
- Some good information on the many roles vitamin a plays in our bodies.
- The Pioneering Reasearch of Dr. Weston A. Price: The Whole, Natural Food Diet
- Looking for sources of the good stuff? There's a lot of vitamin a in pastured beef liver. A lot.