The Only Hope For Mankind

No, this isn’t hyperbole, and I’ll tell – or rather, show – you why in just a moment.  But first:

It’s no secret that I eat meat; some might suggest I eat far too much of it.  It’s no secret that I’ve bettered and even eliminated a great many health problems by eating meat that has been raised in keeping with its biology and by curtailing or eliminating my consumption of certain non-animal foods.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe monocrop agriculture has done far more to harm our environment than the proper raising of food animals.

I don’t get much argument on that last point here; I don’t know if it’s because the vast majority of the people who come here are just looking for a good recipe and don’t want to get caught up in a debate about how the food they’ll be cooking came to be, or if it’s because most of my regular readers agree with me, or if it’s because those who don’t necessarily agree are being respectful of my opinion.  It’s likely all three.

My Facebook page is a different matter, probably because I actively promote it and there are a LOT of people on Facebook.  But whatever the reason, I get a fair amount of nasty comments on my recipe posts – particularly those that feature meat (with a nice, big, color photograph).  A couple have been about the quality of my photography (I’ll be the first to admit I am no professional), but most have been about, well, the meat.  For some reason, vegans have this driving need to tell me that my recipes, especially the photos, gross them out.

(My favorite comment so far was on yesterday’s venison post – which has gotten more likes, and more derogatory comments, than any to date – “I just threw up in my mouth.”  Since I try very hard not to feed the trolls, I refrained from suggesting that some nice, rare venison might solve that digestive issue.  But I digress.)

Vegans have many reasons for being vegan, and one that is almost universal among them is that livestock A) is one of the major causes of “climate change” and 2) will never be able to feed our rapidly growing numbers worldwide.

The video below is a TED lecture given by Allan Savory, a biologist and environmentalist who used to agree.  He has since come to believe – no, prove – that this is absolutely incorrect.  His lecture runs 22 minutes, but it is so fascinating you’ll never be aware of the time that’s gone by.  I won’t go over everything he says, but the title of this post is a direct quote from the lecture:  the holistic management of large numbers of livestock is the only hope for mankind.  It’s the only way we’ll reverse global warming and the only way we’ll be able to feed the 10 billion people that will populate this earth in just a few short years.

Plant-based diets aren’t the answer.  You can not deny the science.

Fight Back Friday

Posted in participation of Fight Back Friday

Moo Juice

MilkBecause I don’t think you can call it “milk” any more, especially if the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have their way.  You see, these two organizations are petitioning the FDA to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added to milk and other dairy products without a label.

Without going into the debacle that is food labeling (that’s a whole ‘nother post), why on earth would anyone want to add artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, to milk?  Well, according to IDFA and NMPF, “aspartame and other artificial sweeteners would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.”

Just let that sink in for a minute.



Good for school children.

Despite the claims of both the manufacturer of aspartame (would it surprise you to learn that between 1985 and 2000, that honor went to Monsanto?) and the Food and Drug Administration that the “non-nutritive sweetener” is harmless, there is a huge body of anecdotal evidence that says otherwise (something the FDA doesn’t deny).

There are over 92 different side effects associated with aspartame consumption, which can lead to a number of health problems.  Among these are:

– Blindness

– Loss of hearing

– Seizures

– Migraines

– Numbness of the extremeties

– Anxiety

– Insomnia

– Heart palpitations

– Nausea

– Diarrhea

– Hives

– Hair Loss

Those are just the mild effects; there have been claims of brain damage, birth defects, and even death.  And now these organizations are petitioning the government “to amend the standard of identification for milk, cream, and 17 other dairy products like yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and others to provide for the use of any ‘safe and suitable sweetener’ on the market” because it “would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.”

Did you know the European Common Market has banned aspartame in children’s product due to concerns about it’s safety?  But here industrial dairy producers and distributors are lobbying to have it added to all milk and milk-based products, without any sort of label indicating it’s there, because by golly, if you make something sweet enough, Americans will swill it down without question.

Normally, I wouldn’t be upset about this; I don’t necessarily agree with labeling, but even if I did I rarely consume anything that has a label.  What really peeves me about this is that if this is passed, all the milk kids are served outside of their home, including day care facilities and schools (even private schools often have to adhere to government regulations regarding the food that is served), will contain an ingredient that is A) toxic and B) potentially addictive.  School children that are already suffering from attention disorders and autism in rapidly increasing numbers every year.

I’ve got an idea for you, International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation:  if you want to encourage the consumption of your products, especially by children, stop taking the fat out of it.  You’d be amazed at what it does for the palatability:

Me to The Young One’s Friend:  Want some milk?

Friend:  Nah, I don’t really like milk.

Me:  What kind of milk does your mother buy?  Skim?

Friend:  Yeah.

Me (pouring a glass of non-homogenized, vat-pasteurized, full fat milk):  Well, here – try this.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it.

Friend (tasting, then gulping down the entire glass):  That was wonderful!  What have I been missing?

Me:  Real food.

Fight Back Friday

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

Edited to add:  This appears to only apply to sweetened milk products, such as flavored milks and yogurts (for now).  Nor does it mean that aspartame would not be included on the ingredient label, just not prominently.  However, it’s still a push to include something that is A) toxic and B) potentially addictive to products marketed to, and consumed in large quantities by, children.  And it’s still a bad idea.

What Are Processed Foods?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Steak Tartare, partly because it was delicious, but partly to make a point about processed foods – you can’t get much less processed than raw meat.

It seems someone took exception to that, because I got an anonymous comment about it – particularly, the condiments mixed in and served with the raw meat.

Beef: salted and aged
mustard: processed almost exactly like grains, then stored in a fermented substance (wine or vinegar)
Worcestershire sauce: nobody knows how it’s made, but it’s pretty certain that it involves several decades and at least five different cooking methods, to say nothing of the anchovies and brown sugar
capers: pickled
gherkins: pickled in both salt and vinegar
anchovies: cooked, pickled, canned
salt: purified from rocks or sea water to make sure no algae remains
black pepper: hulled (to remove fruit), washed, and ground, like a grain

Nope, no processing here at all.

Then, earlier this week I read a review of a children’s book, Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship, by Diana Hsieh at Modern Paleo. Now, Diana does not have children (and yes, I think that has a bearing on her review) and she didn’t like the book, calling it propaganda.  That’s fine – she gave a glowing review to Eat Like a Dinosaur, which I’ll review next week (and be a tad more critical), and that’s fine, too.  But I do take exception to these statements:

Farms can and do produce unhealthy SAD foods, and factories can produce healthy paleo foods. Similarly, “processed” foods are not inherently bad, as some people seem to think. All fermented foods — like kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut — are “processed” foods. Anything cooked is “processed.” That some food is processed — or even processed in large batches under strict conditions (i.e. industrially) — reveals little about its nutritional value.

Oh, come off it – you’re arguing semantics here, people.

While there’s no doubt whatsoever that fermenting, pickling and cooking are processing methods, no one really refers to food which undergo such procedures as “processed.”  All of the methods mentioned here help make the nutrients in food become more easily available to our bodies.  What we call processed foods – foods that are chemically extracted, refined, extruded and denatured – suffer exactly the opposite fate:  they strip foods of their nutrients, filling us, but not really nourishing us.  In the cases of some industrially processed foods, such as so-called “vegetable” oils, they even do us harm.

To my anonymous guest, our meat for our tartare may have been aged, but it was not salted.  The anchovies I used in the dish were smoked.  Worcestershire sauce is no big mystery.  Salt is an essential nutrient for our bodies; since I purchase Real Salt almost exclusively, algae isn’t a problem – but I really do prefer my salt without sand.  And there are so many differences between the harvesting and end products of black peppercorns, mustard seeds and wheat flour, I hesitate to even dignify your claim with a response.  You can pop a mustard seed in your mouth and eat it – you can not do so with a wheat berry.  It must be ground, then cooked with other ingredients, before it can be eaten (to say nothing of palatable).  And while just about any food can cause an allergic reaction, mustard included, the damage done to our bodies – AND the environment – by grains are unparalleled.  Whoever you are, you’re nit-picking.  Arguing for the sake of argument.

As for Ms. Hsieh, whose libertarian and objectivist sensibilities I admire, I agree:  farms can and do produce unhealthy foods.  And thanks to government subsidies, they produce a LOT of them.  These unhealthy foods – wheat, corn, and soy top the list – are the cornerstone of the products most of us are referring to when we speak of “processed.”  Products in brightly colored packages with a long shelf life, containing large amounts of sugar, salt and industrial seed oils to make them appealing, but with no real value as food.  Not only that, but because of those very government subsidies, these nutritionally void foodstuffs have been made artificially cheap, making them even more appealing.

Yes, factories can produce healthy foods; I, personally, would rather buy my organic, free trade coconut milk in BPA-free cans than take the time and effort to make it myself (it can be done).  When I run out of home-canned foods, I am appreciative of the fact that I can bop down to the grocery store and buy canned tomato sauce or green beans.  I like that, if the mood strikes me, I can buy frozen brussels sprouts out of season.  But those healthy foods produced in factories are incredibly outnumbered by the industrially processed non-foods we should all avoid.

And when was the last time you saw a massive marketing campaign attempting to convince you that a frozen brussels sprout is healthy?

For what it’s worth, I’d be very interested in hearing just how both of you feel we should differentiate between whole foods that have been pickled, fermented and cooked and those brightly colored packages containing industrially denatured non-foods.  For now, we refer to those non-foods as “processed”; until someone comes up with something more descriptive and manages to make it common lexicon, that’s what I’ll stick with.  Commonly accepted terms matter.

After all, do you tell people you’re “gay” when you’re happy?

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

No ‘Poo, No More

No, this is not about constipation.  It is about my hair, which happens to be the subject of this week’s Spin Cycle.

I have thick hair.  VERY thick hair, like enough for three people thick.  It’s thinned a bit as I’ve aged (yet another wonderful gift from the Perimenopause Fairy), but it’s still much thicker than your average head.  It is also very wavy, although not quite wavy enough to be curly, which is really inconvenient unless I keep it short, which Beloved hates.

Once I moved to Ohio, with its long, DRY winters, I discovered something else:  I can spend six months of the year looking like Christopher Lloyd in the Back to the Future films before Doc Brown went gray.  Or a mousy brown Ronald McDonald; take your pick.

Oh, with dandruff.  We must not forget my horrifically flaky scalp (although I’m sure you’d like to).

Thus began The Search For Non-Frizzy-Dandruff-Free Hair, which, until recently, has been A Miserable Failure.  No amount of product, blow-drying, flat-or-curling ironing could tame my terrible tresses, unless I was prepared to spend two hours and a small fortune every day doing something about my hair and I’m sorry – I haven’t been that concerned about my appearance since I was 16.

Once I’d moved north, I consulted a hair-stylist about what I could do to cut down on the frizz without putting so much crap on my head that it effectively turned my hair into a gleaming, rock-hard, non-moving helmet.  This wonderful woman (who has, alas, moved away) suggested I not wash my hair every day.  In fact, she suggested I only wash it every four days.  It would give the natural oils produced by my scalp a chance to do what they’re supposed to do – nourish my hair and keep it from drying out.

It worked, too – on the fourth day.  The problem was that no matter the brand of shampoo I used, it would strip my hair so badly that it would take 3 days for it to recover.  So I started going longer and longer between washings: first five days, then seven, then ten.  After awhile, I stopped rinsing my hair in the shower between washings, because even getting it wet was making it dry.

Then, about a year ago, I ran across Richard Nikoley’s post about his no soap and shampoo experiment.  After that, it seemed like blog posts and articles about doing away with shampoo popped up everywhere, and I read them all avidly.

As of this writing, I haven’t used shampoo for almost a year (Beloved hasn’t for about 8 months).  My hair, despite being in need of a trim, is simply gorgeous.  It is not dirty, or oily, or greasy or smelly – it is strong, shiny, sleek and healthy.  And my dandruff, while still present, is not nearly as severe.

Now, we do wash it; about once a month, I scrub my scalp with a paste made from water and baking soda, then rinse it with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which I am convinced is The Greatest Conditioner Known To Mankind.  (I also wash it if I do something that gets it visibly dirty or if I swim in chlorinated water, which is even worse for hair than shampoo.)  I also vigorously brush it every morning and every evening, to distribute the oils from my scalp down the the strands of hair, especially important now that my hair has grown past my shoulders.

I should also mention that we haven’t gone so far as to give up soap, although we no longer use harsh deodorant or antibacterial soaps.  It’s good old Ivory for us, unless I can get my hands on some old-fashioned, hand-made lye soap.  My use of deodorant has also decreased a great deal; I no longer apply it unless I forget my magnesium oil for several days in a row.  Marvelous stuff, that magnesium oil, although Beloved won’t use it because he says it burns his skin (and I have to be careful about how and where I apply it).

So there you have it.  If you’re questioning my sanity, I guess I can’t blame you – I’ve given up grains, dairy and “healthy” vegetable oils, I eat raw meat, and I no longer use shampoo.  But, you know, if I’ve gone off the deep end…well, I kinda like it down here.

Words of Wisdom

No, I still have not finished processing the photos of Patty.  But Jolly and The G Man are moving into their new townhouse this weekend and Beloved seems to be done with the traveling for the time being, so things should be going back to normal (for all of us).  Which will be nice, and hopefully allow me some time to do some of the things I need/want to do.

However, I do have a Fight Back Friday post for you.

I’ve been submitting photos to food photo sharing sites for some time now – Chowstalker, Dessertstalker, The Foodee, Foodgawker and Tastespotting are the main ones, although I occasionally submit to other sites.  Recently, I received an invitation to begin submitting to; like Chowstalker, Dessertstalker and The Foodee, Healthy Aperture only accepts photo where the food meets a certain nutritional criteria.  Unlike the others, though, Healthy Aperture is run by registered dietitians and nutritionists, and they set the criteria.

You see where this is going, don’t you.

Like Foodgawker and Tastespotting, many (if not most) of the photos on Healthy Aperture are for cookies and candies and muffins and cupcakes and the like, although the site owners make it clear that such dishes should be considered “treats only.”  So, earlier this week, I submitted my photo for the grain-and-dairy-free Chicken Fried Steak (a treat if there ever was one) – which was accepted by Chowstalker and Foodgawker, by the by.  I could tell you that I was surprised when the submission was declined, but that would be a lie.  Their reason?  “Nutrition criteria.”

In other words – I fried it in beef tallow.

I wonder if they’d taken it if I’d fried it in canola – it’s such a healthy oil, don’t you know. </sarcasm>

But don’t take my word for it – lets see what Julia Child, who died 2 days before her 92nd birthday, has to say about the whole animal fat/vegetable oil conundrum:

Have a lovely weekend, y’all.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday