Genetic Roulette

I want to share this with you guys and I hope that it will shed some light on a rather divided topic. Genetically Modified foods. I mentioned casually in a post about homemade toaster strudel that GM crops are bad for you but did not elaborate on that so I’ll do it now.

There is a lot of division on this topic because, well, there are doctors, scientists and consumers that are concerned with personal and public health and then there are biotech industry leaders, government and food producers that are concerned with profit.

Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey M. Smith is a book and now a movie  that exposes the FDA in knowingly allowing dangerous GM foods to be thrust into the marketplace and provides documented evidence to link GM foods with a myriad of common health problems today.

You can watch the movie for free here until September 22.

One of the things discussed in the film is the subject of BT Corn. Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) is a bacteria found (in small amounts) in soil worldwide. It produces cry proteins that are toxic to insects by bursting open the stomach. BT is organic and is used as a spray pesticide in organic farming. Because of it’s limitations, though, it has not been used widely in conventional farming until advancements in molecular biology allowed scientists to insert BT genes into the DNA of a plant. This was first done with corn in the mid 90’s enabling the plant itself to kill the pests without need for spraying. This is disturbing because while BT spray degrades rapidly under UV rays and is easily washed away…you can’t wash away DNA. In a February 2012 study it was found that human consumption of GM BT corn breaks open cells in the stomach likely causing gastrointestinal problems and who knows what else.

I definitely recommend both the book and the film if you are interested in learning more.

One of my big questions has always been…Does Organic mean non-GM?

The short answer to that is, yes.

BUT testing for GM organisms is NOT required for organic certification.

Well, isn’t that frustrating? Perhaps, one day it will be required. Until then, the best ways I know of to avoid GM foods is 1. Buy organic. You’re more likely to end up with a non-gm food by doing this. 2. Trust your source. If you’re buying from a local farmer that you’ve come to know and trust and he/she says they grow their food or raise their animals organically and with no GMOs (whether they’re certified or not) it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Genetically Modified Organisms are everywhere. Sometimes conspicuously but sometimes not.

Common foods that are or contain GMOs:

  • soy, cotton, canola and corn are most common in the US
  • zucchini and yellow squash sometimes
  • papaya and tobacco from Hawaii
  • dairy products and meats (it’s in their feed!)
  • honey and bee pollen
  • rennet (used to make cheese)
  • aspartame
  • xanthan gum
  • additives, processing agents, flavorings and enzymes found in processed foods and vitamins
  • oils – soy, cotton, canola and corn oils

Many people do not buy organic because it costs more. Before I learned about these things I, too, avoided organic because of the high price tag. I know that health is more important than money but this is simply too difficult a hurdle to jump if you have a limited budget. In many cases, food companies see that Certified Organic seal as an excuse to jack up the price but, sometimes the price is simply a reflection of exactly what you’re getting. This is certainly the case when you purchase fresh produce, dairy or meats from a more direct or local source such as a farmer’s market or a farm itself.

Think about this:

Organic farming requires more human interaction. With the absence of chemical fertilizers and pesticides it typically takes more work to produce a smaller yield compared to that of conventional growers which is less hands on work from humans and higher crop yields. As a consumer, the price of your product reflects that.

Whereas industrial agriculture has received government welfare in the way of subsidies for quite a while now, organic farming has only more recently been given that benefit. As with most government handouts, there are some pretty rigid rules to this program and it’s pretty clearly skewed towards big ag and not the little guy. This is a quick read by a respected farmer and author Gene Logsdon on the subject of the organic subsidy program.

Whether you buy organic or not, if you pay taxes then you pay for environmental clean-ups that are arguably often a direct result of irresponsible farming practice (CAFO anyone?). Check out Righteous Porkchop a book written by Nicolette Hahn Niman, former head attorney for Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s envrionmental organization’s Hog Campaign. Nicolette documents her investigation of hog manure pollution and much more. It’s eye-opening, for sure.

Consider joining an organic food cooperative (co-op) to save money on organics. Mine provides a twice a month share of seasonal organic fruits and vegetables (mostly from local farms) that saves me anywhere from $40-$80 per month. That’s huge! They also provide an opportunity to buy pantry staples like oils, rice, peanut butter, condiments etc. all organic. Try this website to find one in your area.

 

Any questions? Anyone else have info to add that I perhaps missed or didn’t touch on? Let’s discuss!

 

 

 

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The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible

This book has been invaluable to me. As a beginner in sewing, techniques like darts, french seams and linings were complicated aspects of commercially made clothing that I figured I would simply never be skilled enough to accomplish. Just as The Bible is sort of a ‘How to do everything in Life’ for Christians, The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible is just as comprehensive for the novice seamstress.

Information about essential tools, a guide to body shapes and fashion silhouettes, a glossary of terms and a fabric guide are all included. With easy to follow instructions that include pictures and illustrations you will learn about how to create sleeves, tucks, pleats, collars, embellishment and much more. In many cases, it is explained how to complete a technique by hand and with a machine. Even useful resources beyond the book including websites and magazines. If you’re a beginner or even intermediate sewer there is plenty of helpful information in this book. I definitely recommend it.

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

When will I learn that finishing a book at a reasonable pace is going to be out of the question at least until crafty baby is of school age (four more years…ugh)? I was able to finish it yesterday but had no time for this post. So, I give to you now my 2 day belated review of Holy Cows and Hog Heaven by Joel Salatin.

(Pardon the blurry picture. I am still learning my camera…)

First, let me tell you a bit about the author, Joel Salatin.

As a traditional and holistic farmer in Swoope, Virginia, Joel Salatin has become an advocate for local and, as he calls it, beyond organic food. He has written many books on the subject of farming and spends a significant amount of time giving lectures about his beliefs and farming techniques. He has been featured in documentaries such as Fresh, Food Inc., and Farmageddon. As an outspoken and unapologetic member of his community he has attracted plenty of praise and criticism. His writing style is easy to follow and peppered with his own unique sense of humor…and if you watch any of the docs I mentioned above you will agree that as serious a message he is trying to convey, he does so with unmatched humor and wit (it helps that he wears the biggest suspenders ever and simply put, looks exactly like  you would want a farmer to look).

Holy Cows & Hog Heaven The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food is just that, a point by point guide for the reader on how to release yourself from the dreadful food industry of today’s America. How to source local and ethically raised meat, poultry and dairy. How to find the tastiest and most nutritious produce by looking beyond the shelves of the big retailers and focusing a little closer to home. You will learn the true cost of cheap food. The personal, social, financial and environmental ramifications of the industrial food system. At one point Salatin lovingingly speaks of one of his cattle, her name is Number 10. I’ll describe it as somewhat of a monologue where he gives insight to just exactly how he feels about his animals.

I wanted to keep this short so I’ll just finish by saying that I didn’t just receive valuable information from this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. It makes me wish I lived close enough to do my own shopping at Polyface Farms. I also can’t wait to read Salatin’s other books! If any of you have read it or plan to please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

eco craft by Susan Wasinger

Susan Wasinger is my eco-hero! She has an amazing handmade solar home that was featured on HGTV and it’s full of trash…turned into treasures! This book is just a small tip of the iceberg of knowledge this woman possesses on the subject of DIY eco-friendly design. Though I had already been saving some of my trashy things lately (bottles, cans, bags) after reading this book, I’m finding it difficult to throw anything away! What an inspiration it is to see the beautiful things Susan created out of something that would otherwise sit in a landfill for the next 100 years. Here are some of my favorite projects from the book.

I’ll never throw out another milk jug…ever! These are gorgeous!
I now find myself choosing coffee based on the asthetics of the bag! I only need a couple more…
Love this!
This is the first one that I have done.
My version. I measured wrong and made it a bit short!

You can purchase this and other books written by Susan Wasinger here. All of these are on my wishlist!

Happy Crafting!