The Conversation We Need to Have {For the Sake of Our Children}

January 30, 2013 § 3 Comments

When I was growing up I didn’t know anyone with a food allergy.  There weren’t ‘nut-free’ schools, concerns over dairy or egg ingredients in birthday cakes,  and ‘gluten-free’ had not yet become  $4 billion industry.   As an adult, I started hearing different people mention that their kids were allergic to certain foods.  Friend’s talked about things they couldn’t include when packing lunches to send to school.  I wondered what had changed. Why were children now having reactions to the basic foods that had nourished humans for ages?  But the question was more of a passing curiosity than a pressing concern. 

I don’t remember when I first heard the term Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), but I can say that it wasn’t something that really concerned me.  Hadn’t humans been crossbreeding plants for centuries?  So this was a more targeted, scientific approach to that crossbreeding.  So what?  I thought the people getting their panties in a bunch over GMO’s were the type that never quite grew out of their teenage angst.  I thought they were the type who dislike something for the unfounded reason of it being “new-fangled”, the hippies on the fringe, the ones who were always looking for something to be upset about just because they couldn’t stand to not have drama in their life.  Besides, how many foods out there were GMO?  And doesn’t the FDA test our food supply anyway?  No, I didn’t have the time to concern myself with this type of thing. 

This past fall I started hearing about Prop 37, the ballot initiative in California that would require food companies to label products that contain GMO ingredients.   I found a link to the documentary Genetic Roulette.  Several non-GMO food companies had sponsored the film so it could be streamed for free on the web for a limited time period in an effort to get the word out about GM crops.  Since it was free, I decided to watch. 

I was shocked. 

Genetic Modification is not the benign crossbreeding I had assumed it to be.  And my question as to why children were becoming allergic to more and more foods suddenly seemed to have a plausible answer.  Genetic Modification had introduced previously unknown proteins into our food supply and our bodies did not know how to handle them.   Seeing the new proteins as invaders, our bodies were mounting attacks against these foreign substances, resulting in an immune system gone awry.

And what of my other questions: how much of our food supply is GM and doesn’t the FDA test this stuff anyway?  I soon learned that my confidence was misplaced. 

According to an article published in Forbes in November, 2012, ” 70% of items in American food stores contain genetically modified organisms”.   Apparently the issue is bigger than I thought.  The article also states that “the FDA has shied away from interfering with GM foods as much as possible, trusting food companies to watch out for public safety”.  Now, I have a degree in finance, I know that a company’s obligation is to increase shareholder value, not to watch out for public safety.  In this short TED talk, Robyn O’Brien {a former food industry analyst} explains why GMOs are such a good deal for business, but a bad deal for consumers. 

Another point the article makes but doesn’t expand upon is the pest-resistance factor of GMOs.  The article merely states “GM crops can be engineered to be naturally pest-resistant, undermining the need for pesticide chemicals”.  It doesn’t explain that this “natural” pest-resistance comes from inserting the pesticide into the plant DNA so that when insects eat the plant their stomachs explode.  This begs the question of a link between leaky-gut syndrome and GMOs.  The article also does not explain that some crops {called roundup ready crops} have been engineered to survive applications of the herbicide Roundup.  This means the need for chemicals is certainly not undermined.  Quite the contrary, roundup ready crops are marketed with the express intent of being able to withstand application of chemicals.  While the crops are not harmed, I wonder what harm is done to those who eat the roundup doused crops. 

The full Genetic Roulette documentary is again available to watch online today. 

I know you’re busy.  I know you have dinner to make, and traffic was a mess, and you’re late to sports practice.  I get it, I’m there too.  But later tonight, while you’re doing the dishes or folding the laundry, take advantage of the opportunity to watch Genetic Roulette for free.  For our children’s sake, this is the conversation we need to be having.  And it starts with parents like us educating ourselves.  This isn’t just for those on the fringes, because GMOs are not limited to the fringes of our food supply.  They are in almost every item on every grocery store shelf.  The food industry has done plenty of research to figure out how to get us to buy their products.   We owe it to our families to do our own research and find out exactly what it is they are selling.  We are the gatekeepers of what goes into our children’s bodies.  And we can demand better.

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Banana Chocolate Chip {Coconut Flour} Bread and My Introduction to Grain-Free Baking

January 27, 2013 § 6 Comments

Over the past several months,  as we’ve endeavored to transition our way of eating to a traditional foods diet, the bulk of my off hours have been spent in the kitchen.  Eating traditionally means that processed, convenince foods and eating out have, for the most part, not been included in our weekly menu.  Additionally, in mid October I made the decision to go completely grain free as a way to address some ongoing digestive issues.  We’ve been working with a wonderful nutrition coach, Gina Rieg of Simplistic Wholistic, who has been a great help to us on our real food journey.   One of the first recipes that Gina pointed me to when I cut out grains was this coconut flour bread recipe.  It quickly became a staple in our home and over the past couple months it has morphed into this delicious Banana Chocolate Chip Bread.

Banana Chocolate Chip {Coconut Flour} Bread

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter from grass fed cows

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder {aluminum free, non-GMO}

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 eggs from pastured hens

1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips {I like this brand as they don’t use soy lethicin}

Method:

1. Grease a loaf pan with coconut or palm oil.  Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to fit the pottom on the loaf pan and lay it in the preparred pan.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Be careful that the butter doesn’t start to bubble, foam or burn.

3. While the butter is melting, mix together the coconut flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.  Set aside

4. Mash the banana and, using a fork, wisk the mashed banana into the melted butter.  Add the honey and vanilla and wisk again with the fork.

5. In a separate bowl, beat the 6 eggs with a fork.  Add the butter mixture to the eggs and wisk well with a fork.  Add the chocolate chips and wisk lightly again.

6. Pour the egg-butter mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until the batter is smooth. 

7. Spoon the batter into the preparred loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edges are nicely golden. 

Once the bread is cool, I store it in the refridgerator and we eat off it all week for breakfasts or snacks.  It’s great spread with some yummy coconut oil!

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