Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Animal Protein - what not to eat and why

Conventional CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) animals are raised in crowded unnatural circumstances with no opportunity for exercise. Their meat is virtually devoid of beneficial omega-3, CLA, and vitamins A and E, it’s high in dangerous omega-6, and it’s loaded with antibiotics, e.Coli, GMOs, pesticides, and other chemicals. Even if you don't care about the appalling way the animals are treated, for your own health please buy pasture raised or wild.

RUMINANTS (beef, bison, lamb, goat):  Should be 100% pasture-raised and grass-fed.  
Hay is OK in winter but fresh grass is much better.  The healthiest meat is slaughtered in the fall after a summer on fresh grass. 

Some ‘grass-fed’ farms use DDGs (dried distiller grains) which are just as bad as conventional grains – avoid them!

Some slaughterhouses rinse the carcass with a corn-based lactic acid solution to prevent bacterial growth while aging.  Avoid these if you are avoiding corn.

PORK: Pigs should NOT be raised solely on grass – they need carbs and protein, like potatoes and acorns.
Pigs do not have a lymph system, which eliminates toxins, so any toxins they eat stay in the meat.  Buy pork that has not ingested toxins.

WILD GAME: Some “wild” game, like venison and ostrich is actually farmed.  If you buy ‘wild’ meat, make sure it’s really wild.


POULTRY and EGGS Must be 100% pasture raised and supplemented with organic feed.
Chickens are not vegetarians – they eat bugs and small rodents if left to forage.  Do not buy 'vegetarian fed' poultry or eggs.
Poultry also need seeds and grain but these must be SOY-FREE and CORN-FREE.  Even if the feed is organic, there will be measurable amounts of GMOs and glyphosate (Round-up) in it.  
Conventionally raised chicken is fed arsenic to combat disease and make the flesh pink.  Because arsenic is 'organic' it IS ALLOWED in 'organic' poultry feed, and...arsenic-laced poultry manure can be used to grow 'organic' vegetables and rice. 

FISH – Should be preferably from the Arctic, Atlantic, or southern hemisphere.  Fukushima is polluting the Pacific and it’s only a matter of time before the radiation reaches the rest of the world.
Must be wild caught.  Farmed fish is full of antibiotics, PCBs, and other chemicals.  Avoid the following unless wild caught:
1.  Salmon
2.  Tilapia
3.  Sea Bass
4.  Catfish
5.  Cod
6.  Shrimp
7.  I have seen some farmed Tuna for sale online
LIMIT HOW MUCH MERCURY YOU EAT:
Larger fish have a higher concentration of mercury but ALL fish has some.

Low in mercury – Eat these
1.  Haddock
2.  Hake
3.  Flounder, fluke, plaice, sand dabs
4.  Tilapia (wild only)

High in mercury - Avoid:
1.  Shark
2.  Swordfish
3.  King Mackerel
4.  Tilefish
             SMASH fish are generally 'safe': Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, Herring

Honestly, I would limit my consumption of fish that isn't line caught because some 'fishing' practices these days are decimating our oceans
This is not 'fishing' this is raping our oceans!


DAIRY: Pasteurized homogenized dairy has no nutrition (skim milk has even less).  Buy whole raw if possible.  Buy pasteurized but not homogenized if raw isn't available.  Don't buy skim or low-fat - all the nutrition in milk is in the fat.  Milk from pasture raised goats, sheep and cows is best, in that order.
www.realmilk.com lists raw diaries.  BUT...make sure the one you choose does not feed their cows conventional grain or antibiotics. 

One local (raw) dairy brags about how she gives unsalable antibiotic-laden milk to her chickens – who would buy those eggs???

Another admits they use MilkMaker which is full of GMO-soy.
Summer milk and butter from pasture raised cows is more nutritious than winter.  Organic Valley sells pasture butter made from summer milk

Jersey and Guernsey cows are most likely to be A2/A2, which is the healthiest. 
If you can't find A2 milk, butter and cream have much less of the dangerous A1 protein
Sheep and goats don't have this protein at all. 

Butter from southern Europe (France/Italy) is also A2/A2.
Try to buy butter wrapped in paper, not aluminum.





Friday, February 23, 2018

CSA - Community Supported Agriculture

If you're lucky enough to belong to one, you will get the freshest food available!
If it's biodynamic or organic, it will be healthy food, too.
(Sorry, conventionally grown food isn't healthy, even if it's from a CSA.)

If you'd like me to add a link to your CSA, please contact me

With most CSAs, you pledge a certain amount - either weekly, monthly, or yearly - they all have different requirements - and, in return, you get a share of their harvest.  

There are many CSA farms where we live, and at least three of them are BIODYNAMIC.
Local Harvest can help you find one where you live. 


I remember my first day as a farm member, being overwhelmed by the amount of produce available, "free" for the taking.  It's not really free - we pledge a certain amount every year to partake of this bounty - but the the cost of the membership and the value of the vegetables are not connected.  We pay the same regardless of how many vegetables we take.

Our CSA is unique in that you don't get a box, you take what you need of those products you like.  Don't like rutabaga?  Don't take any.  LOVE lettuce?  Take what you need.  If more CSAs followed this protocol they would have no problem getting people to sign up.  You need to live close to the CSA, though.  Our CSAs do not deliver.

There are some things that are allocated - we get a specified amount of garlic, and when the veggies make their first appearance of the year we're only allowed "a taste".  But when there is an abundance of something - like pickling cukes, spinach, broccoli, or tomatoes - we're allowed to take "up to a case" for processing.

During the summer, farm days can be stressful - deciding how much to take so that none goes to waste.  You need to keep in mind that the produce has not been washed and some things are full of dirt.  It's healthy biodynamic dirt, but it needs to be removed before you can use the produce, so preparing it takes a little longer.  If I put the produce in the fridge dirty it lasts longer, so I clean it right before I use it.   Yeah...my fridge is full of dirt!

Here's a picture of the bottom drawer of my fridge filled with dirty (healthy!) vegetables.


(To minimize cleanup, I line all my fridge shelves and drawers with paper towels)


The BEST thing about a CSA: the vegetables are harvested right before you get them so they are full of nutrients (in the summer).  You will NOT get produce this fresh in any supermarket!

In the fall, our CSAs offer storage vegetables - carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, potatoes, onions, and cabbage.  When root vegetables are planted and harvested according to the biodynamic calendar they last until the following summer! 

Here is a photo from Maria Thun's book showing onions in May from the previous year's September harvest.  The onions harvested on leaf days (AK) are rotting.  Those harvested on fruit and flower days (WK and LK) are sprouting.  Only those harvested on root days (EK) are still as firm as they were in September and remain so at least until the following August.  THIS is why I love biodynamic agriculture!.



One of our CSA farms has a little store where we can buy organic bread and cookies, biodynamic herbs, salves, and tonics, salt and maple syrup.  The bread is sourdough (aluminum and yeast free) and the cookies are made with aluminum-free baking powder.  Farm members get free milk, and we can purchase meat, eggs, yogurt, and cheese made with the farm's milk.  You really could survive eating only what you can get from this CSA.  We are extremely lucky to be members.

We also belong to another CSA, a newer and smaller one, but we find they're complimentary.  One CSA grows eggplant, corn, strawberries, apples, and peaches, the other doesn't; one grows greens in winter, the other doesn't.  This CSA also has a 'take-what-you-need' policy and allows for processing amounts in the fall.

We love them both and will never give up either one of them!



There is a third biodynamic farm nearby where we can get goat's milk products, preserves, and honey.

We are truly blessed.

If you would like me to add a link to your CSA, please send me a short description why, as well as the URL.


 




COOKWARE - what not to use and why

COOKTOP

The safest cookware you can use is properly seasoned cast iron.  It works on all cooking surfaces, including induction, and it's inexpensive.  Older pans, found on eBay and at garage sales, are thinner and lighter than new pans but most require serious cleaning and re-seasoning.  IMO it's a pain to create and maintain the seasoning so I don't use mine often.

Enamel is also safe.  It's inert, it doesn't leach, and it's stick resistant (NOT stick-free).  It does wear off over time so don't use metal utensils (I use wood) and don't scrub too hard when you clean it, let it soak first.  Le Creuset and Staub are enamel on cast iron and made in France.  Chantal Copper Fusion is enamel over tri-ply-steel, made in Germany.  These three are the brands I use.  Le Creuset is light colored enamel which I prefer as it's easier to see the color of foods browning, and when the enamel is wearing thin.   All three brands sell ceramic baking dishes that are made in China and are NOT SAFE.

Enamel wearing away on the bottom of my 20-year-old white Le Creuset (compare the bottom to the sides).  I hope to get another five years out of this pot...


NOTE: Cooks Illustrated just released a review praising the Cuisinart Enamel Dutch Oven:
"This model costs a third of what our favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performed almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing."

Some people claim that ceramic is the safest, but the most popular brand, Xtrema, has a red 'label' on the bottom that is very high in lead and will off-gas into the room when you use it.  It won't work on induction.  I wouldn't use it until they remove that label and the new label tests safe.

Glass is safe; but, like ceramic, it won't work on induction.

Titanium is safe but it's prohibitively expensive.  You can sometimes find used pieces on eBay.



The worst cookware you can use is bare aluminum.  It will leach into everything you cook.
If you have an aluminum pressure canner DO NOT USE IT FOR COOKING!


In between is everything else:

Stainless steel can leach nickel.  The higher the nickel percentage, the more 'stainless' the steel. 18/10 is high, 18/0 is low.
We use 18/10 and don't worry about the nickel content.


Anodized aluminum, like Calphalon, is supposedly safe but if the finish rubs off it will leach aluminum into your food.  I got rid of all of ours.

Copper reacts with acid.  It needs to be lined or toxic amounts of copper can leach into food.  It's usually lined with tin, which wears over time and needs to be replaced.  Some high-end brands are lined with stainless, which can leach nickel.  Copper also needs care to look good (i.e. it tarnishes easily).

A note about cooking surfaces

Gas cooktops MUST be vented.  

According to a study done by Lawrence Berkley Lab:

"The Berkeley researchers concluded that 62 percent of households using gas burners without venting are routinely exposed to excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde gases that can trigger respiratory problems and aggravate asthma and cardiovascular disease, especially in young children and older adults."

“If these pollution levels were outdoors, the state would be required by law to submit a plan for how to clean up the air,” Singer said. “But they are inside a home.”

Many people use gas because it's favored by restaurants and it makes them feel like a 'chef'.  Here is the best write up on why that reasoning is erroneous, and it's HILARIOUS.  Please read it.

I had gas cooktops most of my life. Then ... we moved to a house which had an electric Jenn Aire with a (useless) downdraft.  We intended to replace it with gas but the conversion was too expensive so I lived with it.  When the Jenn Aire finally died we put in a smooth top GE electric.  I hated that, too, so when we redid the kitchen we put in a Miele induction cooktop and ... I LOVED IT!  I will never cook on anything else, if I have a choice.   They are super responsive and a dream to clean.


BAKING

Most bakeware is non-stick.  DO NOT USE NON-STICK BAKEWARE! 

Some people say it's OK to use silicon bakeware, others disagree.

Clear Glass is OK (colored Pyrex is NOT OK).

Apilco and Pillivuyt plain white porcelain baking dishes are OK.  I would not use Chinese-made copies like HIC.  It might be OK - the Chinese invented high-heat-fired porcelain (which is why we call dishes 'china') - but why risk it?

Xtrema ceramic will be OK once they remove the red label.

I use aluminum jelly roll pans lined in either a silicon mat or parchment.  I cannot find a stainless jelly roll pan and that's the size I use the most!

I found three sizes of stainless roasting pans at Golda's Kitchen.  I've asked them to make jelly roll pans but it's been years and they haven't done it.

Lehman's makes a stainless cookie sheet but not a jelly roll pan.

If you know where I can get a stainless 11 x 16 jelly roll pan, please let me know!


CLEANING

Even though I hate - HATE - washing dishes, I wash all our dishes by hand, and always have.  Even if the manufacturer states the product is dishwasher-safe, using a dishwasher will reduce the life of the pan and having to replace cookware reduces the amount of money available to spend on healthy food.

I also will not put any pan or dish away until it is as clean as when it was new (or as close as I can get it).  Keeping my pans clean also extends their life.  When I gave away my 20-year-old All Clad set because it wasn't induction compatible, it looked new.  I am still using the 30-year-old enamel bakeware that came with our toaster oven.  (Yes, our toaster oven is 30 years old!  It was made by Delonghi but I don't know if their current line is as well made.)

These are the cleaning products I use:

Because we have so much salt in our water from the water softener I always dry our pans after I clean them so the salt doesn't leave a deposit or eat through the finish. 









TABLEWARE - what not to use and why

Are you wondering what tableware is doing on a healthy living blog?

It's been proven that many dishes contain heavy metals (lead, cadmium, etc...), those metals can leach into your food, and long-term ingestion can make you very sick. It can cause permanent irreversible brain damage in children.

California Proposition 65 (1986) is often cited as the benchmark by which all manufacturers base their lead-free claims.  This law limits the lead content in most products but critics say it doesn't go far enough because there is no safe level of lead.  When buying tableware, many manufacturers will claim their products 'meet Prop 65' standards; but, like everything else where manufacturer's profits are concerned, there are scofflaws.

William's Sonoma claims to test everything they sell.

In most cases, it's either the glaze or the decoration that contains the heavy metal, and red is the color most likely to be contaminated. Gold and silver also have high lead content (it's used to get the metal to adhere to the china/glass).

Lead glazes are stronger than lead-free glazes, and are typically used on soft paste low-heat-fired ceramics to make them more durable.  Vintage Fiestaware is notorious for contamination.

High-heat-fired porcelain like Apilco and Pillivuyt does not require a lead glaze to be durable.  Apilco and Pillivuyt are made in France.  They're expensive, but the set I bought over 30 years ago still looks new, and only one piece has chipped.

Hall, made in the USA, used to be high-heat-fired but they were purchased in 2010 by Homer Laughlin (they make Fiestaware) and I don't know if they're still safe.  Perhaps they are....

Some varieties of Corelle are lead free but I have heard that, if it breaks, it shatters into thousands of razor sharp shards.   I wouldn't use it.

I also would by wary of any tableware made in China.

Acidic foods, microwaving, and dishwashers increase leaching.




GLASS

Clear glass is likely to be lead-free UNLESS IT'S FLINT GLASS OR LEAD CRYSTAL, both of which DO contain lead, and the lead DOES leach, in some cases within 20 minutes.

Several lead crystal manufacturers suggest a 50/50 vinegar and water solution to soak in the decanter for 24 hours before using it.  The acidic vinegar can help leach out much of the lead that would otherwise enter your wine or liquor.

DO NOT STORE WINE OR WHISKEY in a lead crystal decanter.  You can pour it in right before serving but, if it's not consumed during that meal, pour it back into the original bottle.



Soda-lime glass and borosilicate glass don't contain lead but both contain aluminum and studies have proven that small amounts do leach out.  Exterior decorations, like the red markings on Pyrex measuring pitchers, do contain lead.  If you touch them and then touch your lips you're ingesting it.



Metals are used to create most colored glass.  If the color is ON the glass (flashed glass) please avoid it.  If the color is IN the glass, in some cases it's OK:  red color is made using gold, and pink is made using selenium.  Both of these are beneficial metals.  Yellow is made with uranium, milk/opal glass is made with arsenic, and blue is made with cobalt..  Green colors occur naturally and require magnesium to remove.

If the glass or china is scratched, it's leaching.  
Most vintage/antique tableware contains lead and it's leaching.    

If you aren't sure, you can have it tested.  
The two sets I had tested were astronomically high.  I got rid of them.


BOTTOM LINE FOR US:  We DO USE our lead crystal glasses and vintage fine china for special occasions.  We are healthy, and for those few times a year, we don't worry about it.  Ours has always been hand washed and is not chipped or scratched. For everyday, we use Apilco.  If our health was compromised, I'd find something else for special occasions.


So, if you love tableware, as I do,

how do you set I nice AND healthy table?



Let me show you....


It has been proven that food which looks good is perceived as tasting better than food which doesn't.  If food tastes better, it's more likely to be eaten (and healthy food needs all the help it can get!)


I LOVE the way a nicely set table looks.  It makes me take more care when I'm eating, and I enjoy the food more.  I understand that some (most?) people don't notice, and might even resent having to be careful when eating on a tablecloth.  If you're one of those people, just skip the rest of this post!


I have been collecting tableware since I was 16 and have several sets of dishes, both formal and casual.  Most of it has rarely been used and is scratch-free.  While I do sometimes like a table set with only one pattern, I prefer to mix and match them.  And, recently, when I'm serving friends with a compromised immune system who are happier eating on glass, I mix china with glass, and I LOVE the way it looks.

Here are the last two tables I set.

ART DECO BRUNCH, to illustrate etiquette principles.

I gave this 'lesson' to my friend's children to help them if they ever found themselves dining with the Queen of England or some other high-muckety-muck who might offer them a job, which is actually more likely than a visit with the Queen since one of them is studying to be an engineer and may end up working for the government.  If you don't already know, diplomatic protocol is so complex there are books written on it.



In the table setting above, the black and white chargers and the salad plates are Mikasa stoneware that I'm not sure are lead free.  I love the pattern so I intersperse them with glass.

The green luncheon plates are by Love and are 'safe' because the color is on the underside!  The topside, the side you eat on, is clear glass.  I love the pop of color these give to the table.

On top of the striped salad plate is a pressed glass cream soup bowl and underplate with a stripe design that coordinates with the black and white plates.   If you look closely, you can see the stripes.



When the soup course was removed, the salad course arrived on another glass plate, this one with an etched stripe pattern.

In the photo above, you can see that all the glasses are clear but have a black foot that ties them into the black-white theme.  The smallest glass, on the silver coaster, was filled with sherry to be poured into the soup (vichyssoise).  The coaster contains any drips and protects the tablecloth.  The largest glass is for water, and the champagne glass held a sparking rose when the main course was served.


The main course was served on the glass plates with the green underside.  The bread was served on the Mikasa bread plate because there was no liquid to release contaminants, if there are any, from the plate.

The small glass tea cups (in the first picture above) were used to serve tea with the dessert after the meal.  I don't have a photo.

The flatware is four different art deco-ish silverplate patterns that worked well together.


THANKSGIVING DINNER 2017:

We had 9 people: 1 celiac, 1 shellfish allergy, 2 ketogenic diet, 1 onion-garlic aversion, 1 mushroom aversion, 1 turkey-ham aversion.

We served three entrees, four gravies, and seven sides.


The china underplate is Lenox Eternal with a gold border.  I'm pretty sure the center of the plate is safe but I didn't want my guests to worry so I used amber glass luncheon plates on top of them and I think the table looked better with the amber than without it.

The large wine glasses have gold leaf INSIDE the glass!  They were made by  Tony Davlin and are no longer available but I'm sure you can find other, similar, glasses.

The 'champagne coupes' are martini glasses by Bombay Gin.  I bought them because I love the turquoise ball at the base of the bowl.  It adds color without compromising the liquid.  They say "Bombay" on the foot but it was hardly visible on top of the placemat. 

The antique red wine glasses have gold on the outside but it's far enough from the lip that, if you're careful, you can avoid it.  You could use these with a straw, if you wanted, or fill them with flowers and use them as decor.









Organic products I buy (in the USA)

I will be updating this page as necessary.

These are the organic products I buy on a regular basis, and why.  They are not biodynamic, mostly because I cannot find a biodynamic version; or, in cases like EVOO, it's so expensive I can't justify using it on a regular basis. There are a few non-food products listed, like clay soap and tree-free TP, because they qualify as 'healthy'.

List is not in any order.  I add to it as I think of things that need to be on it.

  1. Jackson's Honest Chips - these are the ONLY POTATO chips made without unhealthy oils!  They're cooked in coconut oil!  They offer both potato chips and corn chips, and they make each in several varieties (yellow, sweet, blue, red, etc...).  I love the sweet potato chips!  I buy ours at Lucky Vitamin.  Whole Foods also sells some varieties.
  2. Bariani EVOO - they practice organic methods but are not certified.  The olives are pressed no later than 24hrs after picking.  Their acidity level is one of the lowest I've found - 0.25, far below the 0.8 level for extra virgin olive oil classification  - and it's stored in stainless tanks (not plastic) until it's bottled in glass.  The Raw Food World has the best price I've found.  I stock up in the winter, right after the fall harvest, so it won't get hot in transit.
  3. California Heritage EVOO -  one of the healthiest EVOO you'll find, with 0.18 acidity, which means, "... we are offering an olive oil in its most pristine state – its benefits are coming to you with as few oxidants or free radicals as possible."  Formulated for health, not taste, it has a robust, sharp flavor.  Phenol content is 400-800ppm.  I use this in small amounts in salad dressing.
  4. Olea Blue HIGH-PHENOL EVOO - according to this excellent article on GimmeTheGoodStuff  higher phenol content = healthier oil. High phenols also mean a more peppery/spicy aftertaste which some people don't like....  Olea Blue EVOO contains 800-1500ppm and they test each batch!   I take a teaspoon of this every morning with my supplements.
  5. Grassfed Ghee by Pure Indian Foods - this ghee is made with summer milk.  I don't buy the cultured version because probiotics are killed by the ghee-making process and I'm not willing to pay more for something that isn't there.  If you buy it from the Pure Indian Foods website you get a discount if  you buy at least 6 jars. This is what I use when I don't make it myself from our farm's milk.
  6. Truly Wild Rice by Eden Foods - most 'wild' rice is now cultivated.  Even some 'wild harvested' rice is not contaminant free because it's harvested in motor boats that spew oil into the water.  Eden Wild Rice is hand harvested by the Minnesota Leech Lake band of Ojibwa, Native Americans, in canoes as required by law. (The brand I used to buy, North Bay Trading Co, also sells hand-harvested rice but they admitted to me that motor boats are allowed on the lake where it's harvested.)  Eden Foods can't guarantee motor boats aren't allowed on other parts of their lake, but the area where the rice is harvested is part of a reservation and is protected. I trust them and I like the idea of supporting Native Americans.  It's also the best wild rice I've ever eaten!
  7. Cistus Tea by Biopure - I drink this all summer long to make myself unattractive to ticks.  I also give it to our dog.  You can buy cistus on eBay but I don't know if the quality is as good as Biopure.  I've compared them and they look different.
  8. Chocolate Chips by Equal Exchange - I use these for everything, even eating out of hand, because they don't contain soy lecithin or vanillin, and they don't come wrapped in aluminum.  As soon as they arrive, I transfer them to glass jars. The best price I've found is at Vitacost.  Whole Foods also carries them.
  9. TresOmega GF Pasta - My husband eats gluten but I try to limit my intake so, when I make pasta, I use this brand.  It tastes almost as good as wheat pasta but it's made with rice, quinoa, and amaranth.  I am going to try making my own using those grains; but, in the meantime, TresOmega sell all the shapes I use except linguini.  I buy it in bulk using Amazon Subscribe and Save, but it's available elsewhere.  
  10. Rice Crackers by Edward & Sons - these have one ingredient: organic rice flour.  NO SALT because I prefer to use my own Himalayan Pink Salt.  We use these as scoopers for dip and also as support for cheese and other finger foods.  I buy them by the case using Amazon Subscribe and Save.  You can also get them at Vitacost and iHerb.
  11. Canned Beans by Eden Foods - these are sold in a BPA-free can. They are salt-free and contain a little bit of kombu which is supposed to help with digestion.  When I don't have time to soak and cook beans from scratch, this is my go-to brand. 
  12. Pain Des Fleurs Crispbread - These crackers are bigger than the rice crackers above (which is a disadvantage as they do not break cleanly) but they are a nice taste alternative.  They're available in Quinoa and Chestnut.  I get them on Amazon.
  13. Mary's Gone Crackers JALAPENO - most crackers contain some kind of refined oil, these don't.  We love their spicy flavor but they might be too spicy for some.  Best price I've found is Amazon Subscribe and Save.  Some of their other flavors contain tamari (soy) and other ingredients we don't eat.  This is the only flavor we buy.
  14. Seed Oils by Andreas - these are cold pressed from organic seeds grown in Canada. They are so stable they don't need to be refrigerated.  I use the flax oil to make Linomel, and I put the others in my salad.  
  15. Organic Raw Honey by Healthy Traditions - it's hard to find organic honey because the hives need to be at least 4 miles in every direction from any flowers that might be contaminated.  This one, from Healthy Traditions, is from Canada.  It has a mild flavor that won't interfere with most recipes.  I have not purchased this one, from Hawaii, but some of the flavors sound delicious!
  16. Soy-free, corn-free, and GMO-free chicken by Healthy Traditions - If you read the write-up in the link, even organic corn has gylphosate residue, thanks to drift.  It's hard enough to find soy-free chicken, much less soy and corn free, so this is a real find for me.  They're very expensive, so I don't buy them often, and since only whole birds are available (we don't like the dark meat) I buy them to make broth.  Chickens have the worst omega 3:6 ratios of all animals - 18:1 - so you shouldn't eat too much chicken meat anyway, even free range.
  17. Soy-free, corn-free, and GMO-free eggs by Healthy Traditions - If you read the write-up in the link, even organic corn has gylphosate residue, thanks to drift.  It's hard enough to find soy-free eggs, much less soy and corn free, so this is a real find for me.  Plus they're guaranteed glyphosate-free.   They're very expensive, but our health is worth it.  Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and we eat a lot of them. 
  18. Siliplant Silica - This is an important aluminum chelator that I also take for my hair, nails and skin.  I get it through The Raw Food World, but Dr. Cowan also sells it..
  19. Walnuts by Filmore Farms -  their walnuts are shelled right after the October harvest and then put into cold storage.  I buy them as I need them because I don't have room to store them in my fridge or freezer.  Most of the time I sprout them and then dehydrate with salt and New Mexico Chile powder.  I use these in salads, dips, pasta, rice, desserts, and just eating out of hand.  I have also dehydrated them without seasoning and then made them into walnut butter.
  20. Clay Soap by Zion - clay soap is detoxifying and not drying.  My skin stopped itching when I started using this soap.  Zion makes lots of different scents, all of which are healthy because they're made with Essential Oils, but the one I like the best is the unscented Moon Dance. I buy it in bulk from Zion Health but it's also available at Amazon and many other online retailers. 
  21. Mercola Shampoo - When I was younger I had a massive amount of hair - so much that most hair clips were too small.  As I got older, it got thinner and thinner, until I started using this shampoo.   My hair will never be as thick as it once was but it's back to normal now.
  22. Tree-free toilet tissue by Earth's Natural Alternative Tree-free toilet tissue by Who Gives a Crap! - recycled paper has a lot of BPA in it, due to cash register receipts, so you shouldn't use recycled paper products if they will touch any of your body's mucus membranes.  This product is made from bamboo.  It's not as thick and soft as Charmin but it's soft enough for us.  If it wasn't, I'd use Charmin before I bought a recycled paper product.  I buy this brand because it comes individually wrapped in paper (not plastic) which means I can leave a spare roll on the tank. I also buy Who Gives a Crap facial tissues.  Who Gives a Crap has now eliminated all plastic from all of their products and operations!!!
  23. Tree-free tissues by Caboo - I use tissues a LOT, not only for my nose, but for wiping the rims of jars, cleaning the strainer in the sink,  etc...  These are REALLY EXPENSIVE - $18 for 6 boxes (!) compared to $18 for 16 boxes of Quilted Northern (at the time of this writing) so I'm not sure if I can afford to switch.  But they don't leave that debris in the air which traditional tissues do, so it will be hard not to switch....BTW, all bamboo paper products are made in China which does concern me; but, since that's where most of the world's bamboo grows, I doubt I'll ever find a USA-made brand. 
  24. Barnana Plantain Chips - I found another healthy chip!!  These are organic, fried in coconut oil, and use himalayan pink salt!  Whole Foods also sells them and you'll get a 10% discount if you buy a case of 8.   
  25. GMO- and Glyphosate-free Corn Chips - Healthy Traditions has started selling healthy corn chips using corn sourced from central Mexico.  They're expensive so I buy in bulk when they go on sale. 




Biodynamic products I buy (in the USA)

    I intend to add to this as new products become available.
     
  1. Apple Cider Vinegar by Natural Nectar, available at Amazon and Whole Foods
  2. Almonds (steam pasteurized) by Marian Farms
  3. Balsamic Vinegar by Acetaia Guerzoni available on Amazon
  4. Brandy by Marian Farms
  5. Breakfast cereal by Back to the Roots
  6. Chocolate by Pacari (not all flavors are biodynamic)
  7. Coffee by Cafe Altura also available on Amazon
  8. Cranberries available at Whole Foods in the fall (freeze them for year-round use)
  9. Essential Oils by Borbonese on Amazon
  10. Essential Oils by Fushi on Amazon
  11. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) by Castillo de Canena
  12. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) by Grgich Hill
  13. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) by Preston
  14. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) by Tablas Creek
  15. Everything (if you live near LA, CA) by Apricot Lane Farms (they don't ship)
  16. Everything (if you live near Hudson, NY) by Cowberry Crossing
  17. Flour (emmer, einkorn, farro, hard wheat, and rye) by Bluebird Grains
  18. Fruit (apples, peachs, plums, pears, filberts) by Brook Farm in MA
  19. Fruit (citrus, guava, figs, persimmons) by La Vigne Fruits
  20. Herbal Tinctures by Oregon Wildcrafted
  21. Jam (blueberry, strawberry and apricot) by Crofters at Whole Foods, and Vitacost
  22. Juice (apple, cranberry, and pomegranate) by Lakewood at Whole Foods
  23. Lemons by Marian Farms and La Vigne Fruits
  24. Limes by La Vigne Fruits
  25. Maple Syrup by New Day Farms
  26. Mustard by Gathering Place
  27. Pasta by L'Origine at IGourmet they still make it, I'm looking for a US vendor
  28. Raisins by Marian Farms
  29. Rice (white sushi, and short grain brown) by Lundburg at Whole Foods
  30. Sugar by Wholesome at Whole Foods
  31. Tea by Hampstead on Amazon
  32. Tea (Idulgashanni and Makaibari) at Arbor Teas
  33. Tea (ginger and Darjeeling) by Republic of Tea at Whole Foods and Amazon
  34. Tomato products by Good Boy Yellow Barn at Whole Foods and Lucky Vitamin 
  35. Vegetable Powders by Dr. Cowan's Garden.
  36. Verjus by Montinore
  37. Wine:



Why BIODYNAMIC is better than organic

From a farming perspective, there are HUGE differences between ORGANIC and BIODYNAMIC, too many for me to describe in one post.  For details, please see this page, and the links provided at the end.

From a consumer's perspective, biodynamic is organic on steroids.

In general, Biodynamic Agriculture does not allow importation - everything the farm needs must be produced by the farm itself.  In other words, biodynamic farmers DO NOT USE imported chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or GMO seeds.


Organic agriculture standards are determined by the government's NOSB (National Organic Standards Board), and the standards are continually being eroded by agribusinesses that want a piece of the organic monetary pie but don't want to provide an organic product in return.  There are over 100 chemicals - many of them dangerous - which are approved for organic farming.  Originally, these were meant to be reviewed periodically, and eliminated if natural alternatives became available, but the standards board has removed the 'sunset' provision and they are now here to stay forever.

Organic products are also not 100% organic!  According to Organic Consumers Organization:
  1. Foods that are 100% organic can be labeled “100% organic" and bear the “USDA organic" seal. (Excluding salt and water, which are considered natural, although both can be contaminated.  See my note below on water.)
  2. Foods that are 95% organic can be labeled “organic" if the remaining 5% of ingredients cannot be found in an organic form. They too can bear the “USDA Organic" seal.
  3. Foods that are 70% organic can include the phrase “made with organic" to describe those organic ingredients.
  4. Foods containing less than 70% organic ingredients can have the word “organic" only in their lists of ingredients.
Sooooo, foods with "organic" on the label can contain up to 30% non-organic ingredients!  For instance, organic sausages are rarely made with organic casings.   

Don't get me wrong - organic is still MILES better than conventional which allows thousands of chemicals to be used - but there is a better option: BIODYNAMIC.


In addition to all of the things mentioned above, biodynamic farming improves the soil.  The longer biodynamic methods are used, the more productive the land becomes.  

Conversely, the longer one farms conventionally, the more the soil is depleted until nothing will grow in it. 

True organic agriculture (not the sham organic produced by agribusinesses) lies in between these two extremes. It doesn't work to improve the soil the way biodynamic agriculture does, but it does attempt to prevent the destruction of the soil. (Products labeled TruGanic strive to "Maintain and Surpass True, Actual, Hard-Core Organic Standards.)

Organic farming actually had its roots in Biodynamics 
but diverged from those roots when the demand for organic products exploded.
We MUST return to those roots!
(see this excellent article for details)



Fortunately, for us, there are several biodynamic farms in this area and we support them all. 
I buy other biodynamic products online



If you'd like to find a Biodynamic CSA near you, 
The Biodynamic Association should be able to help you.

You can learn more about Biodynamic certification here: DEMETER Association, Inc.  
(Demeter - pronounced DEM'-eh-ter - is the certifying body.)

PLEASE!  Support biodynamic agriculture (by purchasing biodynamic products)!
Look for the Demeter seal:


For more information, contact DEMETER Association, Inc
(Demeter's vision is Curbing Climate Change through Biodynamic Agriculture)

HERE is a list of biodynamic products for sale in the USA. 



Small farms that cannot afford certification but do farm biodynamically will often reference Rudolph Steiner on their websites and other promotional material.  Steiner's name is another way to find biodynamic products when you're shopping.  I will periodically do a Google search on 'biodynamic' or 'Steiner' to see if any new sources have emerged.

The three biodynamic CSAs in our area are not certified.   
If you know your farmer, certification is not necessary.   



NOTE: Unfortunately, if biodynamically raised meat is processed by a conventional butcher and made into sausage it, too, will not be in a biodynamic or organic casing for the same reason organic sausages aren't: most butchers aren't able to process intestines and those that are, aren't willing to process organic/biodynamic ones. 




Things I do to decrease our toxic load

Toxic load (sometimes also referred to as "body burden") is a huge stressor to the immune system, as well as all of your other bodily systems, and even your mental state. Learning to minimize your toxic load can greatly improve your health, and can be achieved through a number of simple steps, with fewer changes to your current lifestyle than you might think.

1. Water:   Our well water, which is cleaner than city water (it's low in arsenic and manganese) but has high levels of salt from the water softener, is passed through a REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER FILTER which removes everything including chlorine, fluoride (Fluoride has FINALLY been classified as a neurotoxin!), pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.  We use this water for drinking, cooking, watering the plants, and filling the humidifier.  Because RO also removes the minerals, for drinking and watering the plants I add minerals back in(The New England aquifer is high in arsenic and uranium, and studies show that exposure to arsenic in drinking water causes a higher risk of cancers of the bladder, kidney, lung, skin, colon and liver.)

2. Biodynamic, organic or wild: Most of our food (produce, eggs, meat and dairy) is produced biodynamically by the CSA farms we belong to, and from Internet sources.  The rest is either organic or wild*, and all flesh is either wild or pasture raised*Be careful with the 'wild' designation: some things like 'wild rice' are cultivated, some 'wild game' is farmed, and some 'wild' products grow close to highways and other toxic sites. Honey would be an example where location is important.  Non-GMO is not good enough - non-GMO products are full of chemicals!  
A Note on GMO: GMO products are laced with the chemicals they're designed to resist.  Please avoid them.  Many of them also contain allergens where you wouldn't expect them.  For instance, if they insert a wheat gene snippet into a tomato, celiacs will no longer be able to safely eat those tomatoes.
A Note on Dairy:  Goat's milk is the healthiest, followed by sheep's.  If your only option is cow dairy look for A2/A2 breeds such as Jersey, Guernsey, Normande, and water buffalo.  Failing that, limit your dairy to ghee, butter and cream because the A1 protein does not exist in the fat
Our farm's milk is raw, and I use it to make our yogurt and cream cheese.  We never use low-fat dairy and limit our use of pasteurized and homogenized products which are all harmful. 

3. Produce: If I must buy produce in a grocery, or eat it in a restaurant, I use EWG's Guide to Produce to determine what I can buy/eat conventional. In a restaurant I will only eat the Clean Fifteen.  If you can't afford to buy all your produce organic then, at a minimum, you should buy the Dirty Dozen organic.  Washing produce helps, but washing will not remove the chemicals INSIDE.  Studies have shown that consuming more organic produce results in a positive effect on pesticide levels in the body in a matter of DAYS! (This does not mean you should put it off, because those pesticides are harming you!  Remember, 'cide' mean 'kill'.)

4. Oils and fats: We use no refined oils or products that contain them.  Refined oils are rancid oils that have been "refined" (de-odorized) to remove color and odor molecules so you cannot smell the rancidity.  Rancid oils are one of the main causes of dangerous inflammation!  For mayonnaise I use Eden Foods Organic Unrefined Safflower Oil.  EVOO can be used for mayo/aioli but it should be made by hand as the blades of a processor can damage the oil and make it bitter.  The fats we do use are butter, ghee, lard, tallow, EVCO, EVOO, and cold-pressed seed oils like flax, nigella, pumpkin, and hemp.  Do not be afraid to eat fat - your body NEEDS fat.

5. Use only these fats for cooking:  The only fats we use for cooking are EVCO (extra virgin COCONUT oil), ghee, lard, and tallow.  Some people think it's OK to heat EVOO but I disagree .  If I want the olive flavor I add it once the heat is off.  Some people think it's OK to cook with avocado or macadamia  nut oil but I haven't found unrefined versions so I don't use them at all.  Unrefined sesame oil which has a smoke point of 350F can be used for medium-low heat cooking.  
COOKTOP TEMPERATURE CHART (Source: Smart Kitchen)


6. Salt: We use only Himalayan Pink Salt.  There is a huge debate raging on whether Celtic Sea Salt is better, or Himalayan Pink Salt is better.  The Celtic Sea Salt advocates claim that the sea where it is harvested has not been contaminated by all the pollutants humans have dumped into the oceans but I've looked at the maps of how  the ocean currents circulate and I don't believe it.  Both Himalayan Pink Salt, and Real Salt from Utah were formed before pollution existed.  I suspect that Real Salt is harvested by cleaner machinery, given that it's in the USA, but it tastes gritty - like I'm chewing sand - and I can't use it.  Common table salt is full of toxic contaminants.  (Not all pink salt is healthy.  Murray River salt comes from the contaminated Murray-Darling BasinPeruvian pink salt might be OK - I need to research it further.)

7. Avoid packaged goods: We buy very few packaged goods and the few that we do buy have only one or two ingredients - i.e. flour, pasta, rice, beans, cacao powder, and honey - are all without salt, preservatives and other chemicals.  I prefer to buy things without salt, like these rice crackers, since most companies don't use healthy salt. Eden Foods is one of the few companies I trust, but I don't buy their canned tomatoes as the cans still have BPA in the lining.  If you must buy canned tomatoes, buy them in glass.  I make most of what we eat 'from scratch', including all condiments.

8. Aluminum: Aluminum binds with glyphosate (Round-up) and prevents your body from eliminating it.  We don't let aluminum foil touch our food, and we don't use products containing aluminum, like baking powder and table salt.  This means we don't use products containing baking powder or table salt, like self-rising flour, which in turn means we don't buy baked goods or multi-ingredient packaged goods, which usually contain both.  Aluminum-free baking powder tastes better and creates better baked goods.  Sourdough bread does not contain baking powder (or yeast, another avoid).  The cookies sold in our CSA farm store are made with aluminum-free baking powder.  Yes, I asked the baker, and you can ask your bakery, too.  If more people ask, more bakeries will switch.

9. Storage:  We store everything in glass (GlassLock, Fido, Weck, and LeParfait are best, canning jars (Ball, etc...) will do in a pinch).  When I use a container that doesn't have a glass lid I put a sheet of Foil-backed Parchment between the food and the lid (parchment side down, touching the food).  If something has no fat in it, like vegetables, I will occasionally store them in BPA-free and BPS-free plastic bags for a short period.

10. Cookware: We cook on titanium, stainless, enameled, or cast iron.  We NEVER use non-stick cookware, EVER, no matter how it's marketed.  Press here for a more detailed explanation.

11.  Tableware: Our everyday dishes, serving ware, and bakeware are lead and cadmium free.  Undecorated high-fired porcelain and clear glass are what we use.  Apilco is white high-fired porcelain made in France.  It's expensive, but the set I bought over 30 years ago still looks new, and only one piece has chipped.   Pillivuyt is another similar brand.  There are many impersonators, all made in China, that are NOT safe.  Do your research.  Soda-lime and borosilicate glass are safe.  Press here for a more detailed explanation.

12. Personal and home care products: What you put ON your body is as important as what you put in it.  Anything you breathe in or that touches your skin goes right into your bloodstream, bypassing your digestive system's toxin removal process.  Whatever touches mucous membranes is mainlined in.  The sources below describe the ingredients you need to avoid, and many of them sell products without those ingredients.

13.  Air: Several years ago we moved to the country, where the air is cleaner (we hope), there is no noise pollution, very little traffic, and the night sky is dark and full of stars.  I realize that most people can't change where they live, but you can limit your exposure to toxic air:

14.  Sleep: Our bedroom has very few electrical devices (clock, phone & bed lamps) and we sleep on a Grounding Sheet to mitigate their effect.  Our pillows are organic buckwheat hulls, which naturally conform to the shape of your head, neck and spine to maximize comfort and support.  The room is very dark, which is best for sleeping, and has no mirrors which are bad feng shui.  We sleep really well in this room!

We are far from perfect....listed below are the things we're working on:
  • We eat too much sugar
  • I use too much glycation in cooking (browning food, which creates carcinogens
  • We don't get enough exercise 
  • We don't get enough exposure to sunlight (too many bugs in this area)
  • I don't know everything that's bad for us - I'm sure I've missed something! 

Here is an excerpt from an interesting article 
listing foods which people who work in that industry won't eat
1. The Endocrinologist Won't Eat: Canned Tomatoes
2. The Farmer Won't Eat: Corn-Fed Beef
3. The Toxicologist Won't Eat: Microwave Popcorn
4.
The Farm Director Won't Eat: Non-organic Potatoes
5. The Fisheries Expert Won't Eat: Farmed Salmon
6. The Cancer Researcher Won't Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones
7. The Organic-Foods Expert Won't Eat: Conventional Apples