By Dr. Mercola
There are many reasons to switch to grass-fed beef.1 For example, I've discussed the nutritional differences between organic pastured beef2 and that from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on many occasions.
Here, I will focus more on the current farming model, which is what makes CAFO beef such an inferior product in the first place, and the regulatory restrictions that sometimes make grass-fed meats hard to come by in the US.
Our food system is in dire need of change in order to protect human health, but it's a system that is difficult to change. It's not impossible, but it will require more people to change their shopping habits in order to drive up demand, and hence the industry's resolve to address the shortcomings.
Multi-Faceted Problems Stemming from Industrial Farming Practices
Industrial-scale farming has wide-ranging problems. Typically, the focus is on deteriorating food quality and safety. Certainly, the factory farm model directly contributes to Americans' increasing reliance on processed junk foods; the very same foods that are making us obese and riddled with chronic disease.
Emerging diseases in livestock, wildlife, and humans are also traceable to industrial farming practices. This includes antibiotic-resistant diseases, mad cow disease in cows, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.
Infectious proteins causing mad cow and CWD have also been implicated in Alzheimer's disease in humans—the only differentiating factor being the time it takes for symptoms and death to occur.
According to one estimate, up to 13 percent of all Alzheimer's victims may actually have mad cow infection, acquired from eating contaminated CAFO meat.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also attribute nearly 133,000 illnesses each year to contaminated chicken parts. The agency has set a goal to reduce illness by 34 percent.
As for salmonellosis cases, the USDA estimates contaminated chicken and turkey cause about 200,000 illnesses a year. FSIS' goal is to reduce that number by at least 25 percent by 2020. Factory farmed chicken is by far the greatest culprit when it comes to food poisoning.
Beef is also frequently tainted, and a USDA rule requiring labeling of mechanically tenderized beef has been under consideration for six years already, for the fact that the procedure compresses pathogens from the surface down into the meat, where it can more easily thrive and survive cooking. Mechanically tenderized beef has been blamed for at least five E.Coli outbreaks between 2003 and 2009.
But like a multi-headed hydra, the adverse effects of industrial farming sprout in many other directions as well. For example, large-scale factory farming is also responsible for:
- Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams, and ground water (which contributes to "dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones")
- Agricultural pesticides also contaminate streams, ground water, and wells, raising safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
- A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content
- Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
- Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application, and excessive fertilization
Industrial Farming Is Destroying Food Quality
"How do you alert people to the problems of industrial-scale farming?" a recent article in National Geographic3 asks.
"The issues are urgent, but they are also difficult to confront: The indifference to animal welfare, the strip-mining of poor countries' resources to feed the rich, the environmental damage and antibiotic overuse can be so hard to face that many people just turn away."
Philip Lymbery, an animal-welfare activist and author of the book Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, notes that one of the techniques used to perpetuate factory farming is secrecy. For example, in Europe, eggs from caged hens are marked "battery eggs," whereas in the US, those same eggs are labeled as "farm fresh" or "country fresh."
If you don't know there's a problem, you won't root for change, and that is exactly why the food industry is fighting tooth and nail to prevent labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the US, as well as legislation that would prevent them from fraudulently labeling GMOs as "Natural."
It is imperative for the food and chemical technology industries that currently monopolize agriculture to keep you in the dark about how your food is produced.
They've even lobbied for gag laws that make it a felony to video tape animal cruelty or other heinous activities occurring on factory farms, lest sympathy start upsetting the proverbial apple cart... When asked if he's opposed to animal farming for food altogether, Lymbery replies:4
"This is not, in any way, a call to vegetarianism. This is a call to put animals back on the farm. Pasture is one of the most ubiquitous habitats on the planet, covering 25 percent of the ice-free land surface.
This is about using that ubiquitous habitat to produce great food in a way which is environmentally friendly and kinder to animals, leaving much-scarcer arable to grow crops directly for people...
Three times a day, through our meal choices, we have an opportunity to change our lives and thereby help change the world.
It's as simple as buying free-range eggs, pasture-raised beef and chicken, and looking for milk that has come from cows that have been able to graze... We'll start to support family farms, will help to support a better environment, and will help to feed the world in a more humane and efficient way."
The US Meat Racket
Most all conventional meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) is raised in CAFOs. It's a corporate-controlled system characterized by large-scale, centralized, low profit-margin production, processing, and distribution systems.
This is the cheapest way to raise meat, for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and ethical treatment of animals and plant workers alike.
A series of recent articles, listed on NewAmerica.org,5 delve into the various aspects of the monopoly that is America's meat market. In one, titled "The Meat Racket," Christopher Leonard reveals how the US meat industry has been seized by a mere handful of companies, and how this tightly controlled monopoly drives small livestock farmers out of business.
Other articles detail the drugs used in CAFO farming, and the risks this drug based farming poses to human health. One side effect is the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which I've addressed on numerous occasions.
Martha Rosenberg also recently highlighted a USDA Inspector General Report,6 which revealed that beef sold to the public have been found to be contaminated with a staggering 211 different drug residues, as well as heavy metals.7, 8
Hazardous growth-promoting drugs like Zilmax and Ractopamine are also routinely used in American CAFOs, and as much as 20 percent of the drug administered may remain in the meat you buy. Their use is disturbing when you consider that side effects in cattle include brain lesions, lameness, heart failure, and sudden death. Salon Magazine also recently ran an article9 on the subject of factory farming, penned by Lindsay Abrams, in which she discusses journalist Ted Genoways' new book, The Chain—an expose of the American pork industry. She writes in part:
"What journalist Christopher Leonard recently did for Tyson and the chicken industry, Genoways... does for pork, recounting the history of Hormel Foods... as it evolved from humble beginnings to an industrial giant with a nearly myopic focus on expansion and acceleration, regardless of the costs.
And boy, are there costs... a mysterious neurological disorder linked to a machine that has workers breathing in a fine mist of pork brains... abuse suffered by the animals on whom workers' frustrations are instead taken out; and a decline in food safety that, unbelievably, is set to become the new industry standard."
Genoways book reveals how societal issues "fan out in all directions," as he puts it, from the way our pork is produced. Sure, there are many disturbing safety issues, but it doesn't end there. According to Genoways, another hidden issue is that many of the health hazards that affect plant workers affect already exploited immigrant workers to a disproportionate degree.
Agricultural Subsidies Fleece American Taxpayers to Keep Meat Monopoly Going
As detailed in a previous article by Food Revolution,10 CAFOs and the products they produce are largely sustained by American taxpayers. In essence, we're being shrewdly fleeced to keep this flawed and unhealthy system going. Taxpayer-subsidized grain prices, for example, save CAFOs billions of dollars each year. Grass-fed cattle operations, on the other hand, receive no benefit at all from such agricultural subsidies, and hence the price of grass-fed beef is markedly higher. But that's not the end of that story either. As the article explains:
"Federal policies also give CAFOs billions of dollars to address their pollution problems, which arise because they confine so many animals, often tens of thousands, in a small area. Small farmers raising cattle on pasture do not have this problem in the first place.
If feedlots and other CAFOs were required to pay the price of handling the animal waste in an environmentally health manner, if they were made to pay to prevent or to clean up the pollution they create, they wouldn't be dominating the US meat industry the way they are today. But instead we have had farm policies that require the taxpayers to foot the bill. Such policies have made feedlots and other CAFOs feasible..." [Emphasis mine]
Why Is Most Grass-Fed Beef Sold in the US Imported?
This is a Flash-based audio and may not be viewable on mobile devices.
Did you know that most of the grass-fed beef sold in the US is actually imported from Australia and New Zealand?11 One estimate, which is based off of the USDA's import/export data,12,13,14 suggests as much as 85 percent of grass-fed beef sold in the US may be imported, although it's virtually impossible to ascertain a definite number. Some grass-fed beef is also sourced from countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Uruguay.15
To many, that will probably come as a big surprise. According to National Journal,16 the restaurant franchise Chipotle is one of the latest companies to turn to Australian ranchers to meet demand for grass-fed beef, as American suppliers are falling short, and/or cannot compete with Australia's lower prices. In a Huffington Post op-ed published earlier this summer, Chipotle founder Steve Ells said:17
"Over the years, we have had great success serving the premium beef we call Responsibly Raised... Nevertheless, sometimes the existing supply of the premium meats we serve is unable to meet our growing demand... Rather than serve conventionally raised steak, we recently began sourcing some steak from ranches in Southern Australia, which is among the very best places in the world for raising beef cattle entirely on grass.
The meat produced by these ranchers is 'grass-fed' in the truest sense of the term: The cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pastures or rangelands, eating only grass or forages... In the short-run, the grass-fed beef purchased from Australia will continue to supplement the premium Responsibly Raised beef we have long purchased from across the U.S. But over time, we hope that our demand for grass-fed beef will help pave the way for more American ranchers to adopt a grass-fed program, and in doing so turn grass-fed beef from a niche to a mainstream product."
Some of the reasons driving the import of grass-fed beef include the fact that Australia and New Zealand have a climate that permits grazing year-round. You also need a lot of land to allow herds to graze, and grasslands are plentiful Down Under. In fact, 70 percent of all Australian cattle are pasture-raised and finished, and many of the grass-fed cattle operations are massive. Volume makes it cheaper, so Australians can sell their meat for less than American grass-fed cattle ranchers can.18
The question is, is it really "impossible" for American ranchers to produce enough grass-fed beef? Probably not. Neither climate nor lack of grasslands is a factor in certain states. However, there is one factor that severely hobbles American cattle ranchers, and that is slaughterhouse shortage...
USDA's Stranglehold on American Cattle Ranchers
All farmers must use USDA-approved slaughterhouses, and laws place special restrictions on grass-fed slaughtering. If a grass-fed rancher doesn't have access to a slaughterhouse, he cannot stay in business. This is yet another shrewd if not perverse strategy that effectively maintains the status quo of CAFOs. Large slaughterhouses can also refuse smaller jobs, as they—just like CAFOs—operate on economy of scale. As explained by The Carnivore's Dilemma:19
"At harvest time, small family farmers are forced to transport their animals to the nearest legal 'processing plant' that will accept their animals. These plants often do not conform to the high standards farmers have for their animals' welfare, but the farmers have no choice. Humane certification requires humane slaughter, which only some slaughterhouses do. From an animal welfare standpoint, how animals die is as important as how they live. So unless the farmer is lucky enough to have access to an outstanding small slaughterhouse with transparent policies, they can't get the certification, even if they did the right thing every day of the animals' lives."
Basically, there may be plenty of demand for grass-fed beef, and plenty of supply, but USDA rules and regulations prevent the American-bred supply from ever reaching the customer... Across the US, smaller slaughterhouses catering to grass-fed ranchers have been closing up shop, pushed out by larger processors, adding to the shortage of processing facilities to choose from. A recent article in the Nutrition Business Journal20 addresses the question of: why are there so few meat processors in the US?
The answer is complex. Part of the problem is that once refrigeration came into play in the 1950s, slaughterhouses started moving from the downtown areas of bigger cities to more rural areas, from where the meat was then distributed to consumers. Again, economy of scale made this the less expensive option, once meats could safely be chilled and boxed. And, since rural slaughterhouses were no longer constrained by limited amounts of space, they grew increasingly larger. Eventually, they began to consolidate into fewer companies.
Today, the market is consolidated in the extreme. Just FOUR companies, Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packaging Co, control more than 80 percent of all cattle slaughtered in the US. As noted in the cited article:21 "The Big Four's grip on the market make everything—from slaughter to distribution to face-time with stretched-too-thin USDA inspectors—more problematic for small operations."
Small processing facilities are more costly to run across the board, compared to large-scale slaughterhouses. They cut everything by hand, which takes longer, and requires workers with a high degree of specialized skill. The seasonality of grass-fed beef is another hurdle. Grass-fed beef is typically slaughtered in the fall, after a full summer of grazing, whereas CAFO beef doesn't follow that same seasonal pattern. For a slaughterhouse to stay in business, it needs business year-round.
Small slaughterhouses also struggle to meet USDA's strict, and costly, regulations—many of which are geared toward mechanized plants and not a small-scale hands-on butchery. Adding to the list of complications are restrictive zoning and eco-impact regulations. Again, change is needed on many fronts, but I am hopeful that change will be forced to occur once public demand becomes too overwhelming to ignore.
Greenwashing Meat Industry Standards
A Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (GRSB) recently presented new "sustainability principles and criteria" for beef production. The proposal has been vehemently rejected by nearly two dozen consumer, animal welfare, worker, public health, and environmental groups. The initiative has the potential to shape the definition of sustainable beef production around the world. As reported by Common Dreams:22
"In a letter23 to the Roundtable's Executive Committee, 23 groups...criticized the principles and criteria, stating: 'We—and no doubt many other organizations like us—must overwhelmingly reject the Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef. Unless the GRSB addresses the fundamental flaws outlined in our letter, the document will represent nothing more than an industry-led attempt to greenwash conventional beef production at a time when real, measurable, and verifiable change is so desperately needed.'"
For starters, the GRSB fails to address the overuse of antibiotics in farming. Nor does it adequately address workers' rights, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, waste management systems, or the establishment of a solid verification system. The latter leaves the door wide open for greenwashing beef products that are anything but sustainable. According to Andrew Gunther, Program Director at Animal Welfare Approved:
"We urgently need to change the way we farm and feed ourselves, yet the GRSB's Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef promises nothing more than 'business as usual' beef. The collective failure of GRSB members to acknowledge—let alone address—some of the fundamental faults of modern intensive beef production reveals a staggering lack of accountability and foresight at the very heart of the beef industry, particularly when we know public trust in beef is already at an all-time low."
Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family's Health
Part of the problem is that the current model is focused on growth; not steady profit, and certainly not sustainability. I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. Many grocery chains are now responding to customer demand, and will provide at least a small assortment of grass-fed meats.
If your local grocer still doesn't carry any, go ahead and ask the purchasing manager to consider adding it. Some stores, like Publix, will even stock specialty items requested by a single customer... The least expensive way to obtain authentic grass-fed beef though is to find a local rancher you can trust, and buy it directly from the farm. Alternatively, you can now purchase grass-fed beef from organic ranchers online, if you don't have access to a local source. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Eat Wild: With more than 1,400 pasture-based farms, Eat Wild's Directory of Farms is one of the most comprehensive sources for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
Grass-Fed Meat: The "Golden Beef" that Contains 3 to 5 Times More of This Cancer-Fighting Substance
The Ominous Beef Cover Up: The Hidden Truth Behind the Meat on Your Plate
By Dr. Mercola
Starbucks has an image of being a socially responsible, environmentally friendly company. In 2013, 95 percent of their coffee was ethically sourced, and their goal is to reach 100 percent by 2015.1
Other goals include reducing water consumption by 25 percent in their company-operated stores by 20152 and mobilizing their employees and customers to contribute 1 million hours of community service per year.3
They even removed all the high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats, flavors, and dyes from their entire menu… so the news that this forward-thinking company might be supporting Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds, in their bid to block a GMO labeling bill in Vermont might seem strange.
Is Starbucks really in cahoots with Monsanto? Are they really trying to keep you in the dark about what kinds of genetically modified ingredients are in your food and beverages? Absolutely, albeit by proxy.
It Started with Vermont's Historic GMO Labeling Bill…
On April 16, 2014, the Vermont Senate passed the first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill (H.112) by an overwhelming margin—28-2. The bill sailed through a House/Senate conference committee and was approved by the House of Representatives on April 23.
On May 8, Governor Peter Shumlin signed the historic bill into law, which will require any genetically modified food sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016.4 Foods containing GM ingredients would also not be allowed to be labeled "natural."
Though the bill was passed in Vermont, it has wide-reaching implications for GMOs in the US. As noted by Ronnie Cummins in the Huffington Post:5
"Strictly speaking, Vermont's H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law.
Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically engineered, and deceptively labeled as 'natural' or 'all natural' while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets.
As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, 'If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.'"
Monsanto and GMA Sued Vermont to Overturn GMO-Labeling Bill
Long before the bill passed through the legislative branches, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) had openly threatened to sue, should Vermont pass such a law.
As promised, GMA (along with the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers) filed the lawsuit in federal court on June 13, trying to challenge the law's constitutionality.
To date, 60 other countries have either banned GMOs or require mandatory labeling on foods that contain them, but the GMA is upset that US consumers might soon be able to distinguish between the foods that contain GM ingredients and those that do not.
Vermont estimated that eight out of ten foods at grocery stores would be affected by the new labeling requirement.6 As Cummins said, the lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate other states considering similar GMO labeling laws.
The GMA is also pushing a bill in Congress that would preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws -- the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014," dubbed "DARK" (Denying Americans the right to know) Act. Cummins told the Burlington Free Press:7
"Every U.S. citizen should be concerned when a multi-billion dollar corporate lobbying group sues in federal court to overturn a state's right to govern for the health and safety of its citizens."
Starbucks Is a Member of the GMA
If you're wondering what all of this has to do with Starbucks, here's the rub: Starbucks is a member of the GMA, right along with Monsanto. So they are, in essence, teaming up with Monsanto to keep you in the dark about the ingredients in your food.
Once word gets out, Starbucks' image will be tarnished, so let's hope the pressure from their customers will help them make positive change. As SumOfUs reported:
"Monsanto might not care what we think -- but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does. If we can generate enough attention, we can push Starbucks to withdraw its support for the lawsuit, and then pressure other companies to do the same."
To get involved, you can sign this petition from the Organic Consumers Association, which calls for Starbucks to withdraw its membership in the GMA, and in so doing also its support for the lawsuit against Vermont's food-labeling law.
The revelation of Starbucks' meddling with the GMA has already drawn ire from many of its fans. Among them, musician Neil Young recently announced that he is boycotting the coffee chain after learning of their dealings with Monsanto and their involvement to sue Vermont. According to Rolling Stone, Young wrote on his website:8
"'I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one,' Young wrote. 'Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling.'"
As members of the GMA organization—as in any organization—no single member can decide actions on behalf of the group. Similarly, no single member is individually responsible for what the group as a whole decides.
So, Monsanto and Starbucks are correct in saying that neither is individually part of the lawsuit. However, in reality they are part of it by virtue of their membership in GMA.
Additionally, since neither Starbucks nor Monsanto currently has representation on the GMA Board of Directors—which makes decisions for the group—both can technically say their individual companies didn’t participate in the decision to sue Vermont.
What all this adds up to is semantics—word play that Starbucks and Monsanto legally can use to deflect finger-pointing from them individually. It really doesn’t make any difference whether they’re involved directly or not – the parent organization is still trying to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food.
What Else You Should Know About the GMA
The GMA, whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is pushing a Congressional bill called the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014."
As mentioned, the bill, dubbed the "DARK" (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would actually preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws.
It would also bar states from enacting laws that make it illegal for food companies to misrepresent their products by labeling GE ingredients as "natural." Last but not least, the DARK Act would also limit the FDA's power to force food companies to disclose GE ingredients.
And that's not all. By suing Vermont, this is the second time in mere months that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is suing a state for the right to pull the wool over your eyes. During the Washington labeling campaign, the GMA got caught in a money-laundering scheme aimed at protecting the identity (and hence the reputation) of members who donated funds to the anti-labeling campaign.
The GMA was forced to reveal the donors to the aggressive anti-labeling campaign, but shortly thereafter it sued the state of Washington, arguing they should be allowed to hide their donors—which is a direct violation of state campaign disclosure laws—in order to "speak with one voice" for the interests of the food industry. Clearly, there's a concerted effort to hide who is behind this radical front group.
Earlier this year, I named the GMA "the most evil corporation on the planet," considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk-food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights—just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.
The primary GM crops grown in the US are corn, soy, and sugar beets, and the primary ingredients in processed food are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats), and refined sugar. Add in all the pesticides and hazardous fertilizers used in this chemical agriculture system, and you have the perfect formula for environmental destruction, disease and premature death.
This is the business model the GMA is protecting, and labeling GM foods will surely severely cripple it. This is why the GMA is willing to resort to everything, from illegal money-laundering schemes to irrational and wholly ludicrous lawsuits arguing for "the right" to violate disclosure laws. Your health, your rights to make your own decisions, and your financial wellbeing have absolutely nothing to do with the GMAs objections to GMO labeling. They're not protecting you from confusion, unnecessary complexities, or higher prices. They're protecting their own profits, and those profits depend on widespread consumer ignorance.
The Great Boycott Is Here
The insanity has gone far enough. It's time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to vote with your wallet and boycott every single product owned by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights.
This is just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo. This includes both natural and organic brands. You can start by using the list in the table below. The recent GM labeling victory in Vermont clearly shows that we have the power to incite great change. In this case, you can help change the food system by taking decisive action with your food dollars.
"We flood their Facebook pages, tarnish their brand names. We pressure financial institutions, pension funds and mutual funds to divest from Monsanto and the other GMA companies. Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don't buy them. Don't sell them. Don't grow them. And don't let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them," Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) writes.9
"As soon as the GMA files a lawsuit against Vermont, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by a growing coalition of public interest groups, will launch a boycott and divestment campaign directed against all of the 300 GMA companies and their thousands of brand name products—including foods, beverages, seeds, home and garden supplies, pet food, herbicides and pesticides."
So far, between 2012 and 2014, Monsanto and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million! These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, processed food industries… and Starbucks! Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:
"Until now the GMA colossus has ruled, not only in Washington DC, but in all 50 states. But now that Vermont has passed a trigger-free GMO labeling law, and Oregon is poised to do the same in November, the balance of power has shifted. Monsanto, the GMA and their allies are in panic mode. Because they know that when companies are forced to label or remove GMOs, and also are forced to drop the fraudulent practice of labeling GE-tainted foods as 'natural' or 'all natural,' in one state, they will have to do it in every state. Just as they've been forced to do in Europe, where mandatory GMO labeling has been in effect since 1997."
Are You Supporting Those Who Have Repeatedly Taken a Stand Against Your Health and Right to Know?
To defeat the GMA lawsuit against Vermont, money must be raised for legal assistance to the state. We must also intensify any and all efforts to educate others and put pressure on the marketplace to quell the GMAs radical power grabs. To this end, please make a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund today.
Other equally if not even more important ways you can help is by refusing to invest in GMA member companies—even if indirectly through retirement and mutual funds. With enough pressure, we can pressure institutional investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, and State Street to dump the stocks they have in these companies. Moreover, we need to boycott ALL of the 300 companies who are still members of the GMA. Combined, they produce more than 6,000 brand name products, and all of these products are on the boycott list. This includes:
Foods Beverages Seeds Home and garden supplies Pet foods Herbicides and pesticides for home and professional use
This may seem as a monstrously difficult task... but if we work together and individually make an effort, collectively we can do it. There are 316 million that live in the US, and each person makes multiple purchasing and investment decisions each and every day of the year. Every action you take from here on counts. Pro-organic consumer groups will also launch programs placing emphasis on boycotting "Traitor Brands," meaning natural and organic brands that are actually owned by members of the pro-GMO GMA. As noted by Cummins:
"Health-conscious and green-minded consumers often inadvertently support the GMA when they buy brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Odwalla and others whose parent companies, all members of the GMA, have donated millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522)."
As a sign of solidarity, please sign the Boycott Pledge now.
While I cannot list all of them here, some of the 50 "natural" and/or organic Traitor Brands targeted by this boycott include those listed below. The reason for not focusing the boycott on the conventional parent companies is because pro-organic health-conscious consumers rarely buy Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi, or sugary breakfast cereals to begin with. The only way to really put pressure on these parent companies is by avoiding the brands they market to organic consumers; the brands you actually typically buy.
"Let's be clear. Junk Food and beverage companies who are members of the GMA are gobbling up organic and 'natural' brands because they recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their brands, they know there's a good chance we'll find alternative brands. And we might never look back," Cummins writes.
Natural/Organic Traitor Brand Owned By/Parent company IZZE PepsiCo Naked Juice PepsiCo Simply Frito-Lay PepsiCo Starbucks Frappuccino PepsiCo Honest Tea Coca-Cola Odwalla Coca-Cola Gerber Organic Nestle Sweet Leaf tea Nestle Boca Burgers Kraft/Mondelez Green and Black's Kraft/Mondelez Cascadian Farm General Mills Larabar General Mills Muir Glen General Mills Alexia ConAgra Pam organic cooking sprays ConAgra Bear Naked Kelloggs Gardenburger Kelloggs Kashi Kelloggs Morningstar Farms Kelloggs Plum Organics Campbells Wolfgang Puck organic soups Campbells RW Knudsen Smuckers Santa Cruz Organic Smuckers Smuckers Organic Smuckers Dagoba Hersheys Earthgrain bread Bimbo Bakeries Simply Asia McCormick Thai Kitchen McCormick
Nine Additional Ways to Take Your Power Back
In addition to not buying Traitor Brand foods or beverages (even if they're certified organic), here are nine ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that make up the Grocery Manufacturers Association:
- Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocadoes, organic pastured meat, dairy and eggs, and raw nuts
- Buy most of your foods from your local farmer's market and/or organic farm
- Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
- Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods made by GMA members for their meals
- Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
- Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are "OMRI Approved," which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they're using OMRI Approved products as well
- Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don't buy it
- Download the Buycott app for your smartphone, which allows you to scan products to find out if they're part of the boycott before you buy them
- Join the Organic Consumers Association's new campaign, "Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know"
To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont.
Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal and coffee-shop stop, matters. It makes a huge difference. By boycotting GMA member Traitor Brands, you can help level the playing field, and help take back control of our food supply. And as always, continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and share what you've learned with family and friends.
New Report Shreds Claims that GE Crops Reduce Pesticide Use
Experimental GMO Drug-Making Crops Grown with Little Oversight
By Dr. Mercola
Salads are most people’s first encounter with raw foods. Quick and easy to make, they are an easy and delicious way to get live, biodynamic foods into your diet. Mistakes abound however, that could turn an otherwise healthy meal into something less than ideal.
As noted by nutrition editor Cynthia Sass in a recent article for Time Magazine,1 “imbalances can either prevent a salad from being slimming, or lead to missing out on key nutrients.”
She points out five common salad mistakes that many people make. These are certainly valuable pointers. Here, I will address a couple of them, and make some additional recommendations of my own.
- Too little or too much protein
- Insufficient variety in your choice of greens
- Too little or too much fat
- Skipping starch
- Insufficient seasoning
Whenever Possible, Opt for Organic Produce
Fresh organic vegetables are generally both healthier and tastier. In terms of nutrition, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the nutrient levels themselves, which do tend to be higher in organically grown foods, it’s also about what they don’t contain, namely pesticides.
Most of us significantly underestimate the amount and variety of chemicals sprayed onto the produce we eat. Tests, however, suggest most people are exposed to hundreds of them, and they accumulate in your body over time.
They can also easily be transferred to your unborn child during pregnancy. In 2009, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a study that found 232 chemicals in the placental cord blood of American newborns!
Organophosphate pesticides, which are commonly used on conventionally-grown produce, are well known for their hazards to human health. Prenatal exposure has been linked to delayed brain development, reduced IQ, and attention deficits.
I’ve also pointed out the compelling links between agricultural chemicals and autism, and new research (known as the CHARGE study2, 3) shows that living within a mile of pesticide-treated crops increases your chances of bearing children with autism.
The recently published CHAMACOS Study, which followed hundreds of pregnant women living in the agricultural mecca of Salinas Valley, California, also found that exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children, among other health effects.
Glyphosate, another prevalent herbicide used both on conventional and genetically engineered crops at about one billion pounds a year, may be one of the most important factors in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies. The more of it you can avoid, the better.
Homegrown Sprouts Can Maximize the Nutrition of Your Salad
One of the simplest and most effective strategies to avoid harmful chemicals is to eat organic food. Another option is to grow your own. Among the easiest foods to grow at home are sprouts. As luck would have it, they’re also among the most nutritious, and they’re an excellent addition to a fresh salad.
Some of the most commonly sprouted beans, nuts, seeds, and grains are listed below. My personal favorites are pea and sunflower sprouts, which have the added benefit of providing some of the highest-quality protein you can eat.
Homegrown sprouts have radically improved the nutrition of my own primary meal, which is a salad at lunch. They’re also a perfect complement to fermented vegetables. It is hard to imagine a healthier combination that provides the essentials of nutrition, and at a very low cost.
Broccoli: known to have anti-cancer properties, courtesy of the enzyme "sulforaphane" Alfalfa: a significant dietary source of phytoestrogens. Also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K Wheat grass: high in vitamins B, C, E, and many minerals Mung bean: good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins C and A Clover: significant source of isoflavones Lentil sprouts: contain 26 percent protein, and can be eaten without cooking Sunflower: contains minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber, and phytosterols. It's also one of the highest in protein Pea shoots: good source of vitamins A and C and folic acid and one of the highest in protein
Most Commercial Salad Dressings Will Do More Harm Than Good...
Perhaps the most common mistake people make with their salads is their choice of salad dressing. The vast majority of commercial salad dressings are far from healthy, as they’re chockfull of high fructose corn syrup and highly processed omega-6 GMO oils full of toxic herbicides like glyphosate.
Low-fat dressings also need to be avoided. When fat is removed from a food product, it’s usually replaced by sugar/fructose in order to taste good, and this is a recipe for poor health. Excess fructose in your diet drives insulin and leptin resistance, which are at the heart of not only diabetes but most other chronic diseases as well.
So what constitutes “healthy fat,” and why do you need to add it to your salad? For starters, fats help your body absorb important minerals and vitamins, including vitamins A, D, and E. If you don’t have enough fat with your meal, your body may not be able to properly absorb these, and other, fat-soluble nutrients.
Adding healthy fat to your salad will also make it more filling, as fats are among the most satiating. In fact, many do not realize this, but frequent hunger may be a major clue that you're not eating enough fat.
I personally do not use any salad dressings. Instead I use several ounces of fermented vegetables made with our Kinetic Starter Culture, so not only am I getting the lactic acid vinegar like flavor but trillions of beneficial microbes and a very significant dose of vitamin K2.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fats
The featured article notes that full-fat dressing increases absorption of valuable antioxidants compared to reduced-fat versions, but fails to make any distinction between healthy and unhealthy types of fat.
First, it’s important to realize that the use of processed omega-6 fats have increased 1,000 times in the last century, which disturbs the vital omega 6-3 ratio. If you eat any processed foods you are getting too much omega-6 fats and need to avoid any processed omega-6 oils like corn and soy and any generically branded “vegetable” oils.
Also, as revealed by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz,4 author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, while the food industry has reduced the use of harmful trans fats, they’ve reverted back to using regular vegetable oils, and this is far from an ideal replacement.
Especially when heated, vegetable oils like peanut, corn, and soy oil degrade into highly toxic oxidation products that appear to be even worse than trans fats! One category of these byproducts, called aldehydes, are of particular concern. In animals, even low levels of aldehydes oxidize LDL cholesterol and cause high levels of inflammation, which is associated with heart disease.
Cyclic aldehydes have also been shown to cause toxic shock in animals through gastric damage, and this seems consistent with the rise in immune problems and gastrointestinal-related diseases in the human population. Even when used cold, such as in salad dressing, processed vegetable oils are best avoided. If you order salad with a house vinaigrette in a restaurant, be sure to ask what kind of oil it contains. Olive oil is ideal. If they use any other kind of vegetable oil, you may be better off skipping it. Other sources of healthy fats to include liberally in your salad include:
Olives Shredded coconut Raw nuts, such as macadamia or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass-fed meat, but limited to protein level below
Adding Too Much Protein to Your Salad May Be Counterproductive
Your body needs protein. It’s a main component of your body, including muscles, bones, and many hormones. However, most Americans tend to eat far too much low-quality protein for optimal health. I believe few people really need more than one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. When it comes to protein from animal sources, you also want to make sure it’s been raised on pasture, to avoid exposure to pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones, antibiotics, and other potentially harmful drugs and chemicals.
To determine your lean body mass, find out your percent body fat and subtract from 100. This means that if you have 20 percent body fat, you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. Those that are aggressively exercising or competing and pregnant women typically need about 25 percent more, but most people rarely need more than 40-70 grams of protein a day.
The rationale behind limiting your protein this: when you consume protein in levels higher than recommended above, you tend to activate the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can help you get large muscles but may also increase your risk of cancer. There is research suggesting that the "mTOR gene" is a significant regulator of the aging process, and suppressing this gene may be linked to longer life. Generally speaking, as far as eating for optimal health goes, most people are simply consuming a combination of too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat.
Translating Ideal Protein Requirements Into Foods
Substantial amounts of protein can be found in: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. As noted earlier, pea and sunflower sprouts also provide some of the highest quality protein available. To determine whether you’re getting an appropriate amount of protein, calculate your lean body mass as described above, then calculate the amount of protein you’re getting from all sources.
Again, your daily requirement is likely to be around one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. This places most average people in the range of 40 to 70 grams of protein per day. To determine the grams of protein in each food, you can refer to the chart below or simply Google the food in question.
Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6-9 grams of protein per ounce.
An ideal amount for most people would be a 3-ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9- or 12-ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18-27 grams of protein
Eggs contain about 6-8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12-16 grams of protein.
If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese)
Seeds and nuts contain on average 4-8 grams of protein per quarter cup Cooked beans average about 7-8 grams per half cup Cooked grains average 5-7 grams per cup Most vegetables contain about 1-2 grams of protein per ounce
Ramp Up Your Nutrition with Herbs
Adding fresh herbs to your salad can also go a long way toward improving your nutrition, as many are densely packed with vitamins and various phytonutrients. Because of their nutrient density, they're also thermogenic, meaning they naturally increase your metabolism. Herbs are also easy to grow at home, and many have medicinal properties to boot. A recent article in Prevent Disease5 lists seven staple herbs that belong in every kitchen, and make a great addition to any salad—either mixed in fresh, or added to homemade oil and vinegar dressing. These include:
Parsley Cilantro Oregano Thyme Sweet Italian basil Rosemary Dill
Your Food Choices Play a Key Role in Disease Prevention and Health
I believe that food can be “medicine.” It’s certainly the best preventive strategy I can think of, and getting more raw organic food in your diet is a key point. Besides eating more salads, juicing is another great way to get more vegetables into your diet. However, as noted in a recent article in The Atlantic,6 which details the trials and triumphs of Luke Saunders, a 28-year old entrepreneur and owner of Farmer’s Fridge, even when fresh salad is available as an option, many simply won’t make that choice...
If you fall into this category, I urge you to reconsider. Remember, if you’re avoiding salad because it doesn’t “fill you up,” it’s probably because you’re not adding enough healthy fat to it. That said, making fresh produce more readily available, especially in low-income areas, is part of the solution to many Americans chronic health problems, and Farmer’s Fridge is leading the charge:
“Saunders is confronting any number of challenges. Among them is a question that has stumped many of America’s top food-policy experts for decades: If healthy food were more convenient, would more people eat it?...
This month, Farmer’s Fridge is rolling out two more machines. If its efforts pay off, it will eventually expand to dozens of locations all over Chicago, and possibly in other cities after that. One of Saunders’ dreams... is to install machines in more low-income neighborhoods, at prices locals can afford.
He hopes that, eventually, the dual threats of poor nutrition and obesity can be treated with fresh produce, rather than with pharmaceuticals. Efforts like Saunders’ won't improve public health single-handedly, and he knows it. But his business does seem like one potential answer to a long-standing concern in the food-policy world: That there’s not enough cheap, healthy food in low-income areas...”
Leafy Greens Essential for Immune Regulation and Tumor Resolution
Salad Shocker: Do You Think All Salads Are Healthy?
By Dr. Mercola
If you want to increase your energy, boost your mood, lose weight, and lower your risk of chronic disease, there's no doubt that tending to your diet should be a priority. But figuring out what to eat to be healthy may seem overwhelming.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. Your age, health, gender, and lifestyle all play a role in determining how much protein, healthy fat, and carbs you need, for instance. In addition, it's important that your diet is one you find satisfying and can stick with.
The best eating plan is one that encompasses a variety of foods. This keeps your meals interesting and also increases your ability to get the nutrients you need, at appropriate levels, from your food. My nutrition plan describes this type of "diet." What you'll notice is that it's not a diet at all, but rather a way of life.
What you'll also notice, if you browse through the plan, is that allows you the freedom to customize your meals to your individual likes and dislikes, while guiding you toward truly healthy food. The fact is, even though there's no diet that's right for everyone… there are certain foods that come close.
The 7 foods that follow are my top examples. These foods are universally healthy and, in the vast majority of cases, should be part of your meals on a frequent basis.
The 7 Best Foods
1. Grass-Fed Beef and Beef Liver
Factory farming both agriculturally and for animals has seriously perverted not only the health of the animals but secondarily the health of those that eat them.
Ditching your grain-fed CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) beef in favor of grass-fed beef will result in far better nutrition (and less exposure to antibiotics and pathogenic bacteria).
A joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Clemson University researchers determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed is better than grain-fed beef for human health.1 In a side-by-side comparison, they determined that grass-fed beef was:
Lower in total fat Higher in beta-carotene Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium Higher in total omega-3s A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84) Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
As for organ meat, it is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other compounds vital to your health – and in which many Americans are deficient.
Liver in particular is packed with nutrients, which is why predatory animals eat it first and why it has been so highly prized throughout history. The most significant nutrients in liver are outlined in the following table:2
High-quality protein B complex, including B12 and folate (folic acid) Minerals, including a highly bioavailable form of iron Fats (especially omega-3 fats) Choline (another B vitamin, important for cell membranes, brain and nerve function, heart health, and prevention of birth defects) Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, and chromium Cholesterol CoQ10 (essential for energy production and cardiac function; potent antioxidant; animal hearts offer the highest levels of coQ10) Vitamin D Vitamin E (circulation, tissue repair, healing, deactivation of free radicals, and slowing aging) Pre-formed vitamin A (retinol) An unidentified "anti-fatigue factor" Purines (nitrogen-containing compounds serving as precursors to DNA and RNA) Vitamin K2 Amino acids
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Consuming a variety of fresh organic greens is one of the best things you can do for your body. Topping the list in terms of nutrient density are watercress, chard, beet greens, and spinach—but adding other gorgeous leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, collards, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, and escarole will just add to your overall nutrient infusion.
Greens like spinach and kale are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane. Spinach provides folate, which research shows can dramatically improve your short-term memory.
Eating folate-rich foods may also lower your risk for heart disease and cancer by slowing down wear and tear on your DNA. Some leafy greens, including collards and spinach, contain vitamin K1, which is good for your veins and arteries.
Beet greens are even higher in iron than spinach and strengthen your immune system by stimulating your body's production of antibodies and white blood cells, while protecting your brain and bones.
When preparing your veggies, use quick, gentle cooking methods (only cooking to a tender-crisp, not mushy texture) to preserve the most nutrients. Also try to eat a good portion of them raw, which will allow you to receive beneficial biophotons. Two of the best ways to get more raw vegetables into your diet include:
- Juicing: Juicing allows you to absorb all the nutrients from vegetables, allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner, and makes it easy to add a variety of vegetables to your diet.
- Sprouts: The sprouting process increases nutrient content and bioavailability of nutrients. Sprouts also contain valuable enzymes that allow your body to absorb and use the nutrients of all other foods you eat. They're very easy to grow at home and a powerful low-cost strategy to improve your health.
3. Pastured Eggs
True free-range eggs, now increasingly referred to as "pasture-raised," are from hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. Testing3 has confirmed that true pastured eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs.
The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens. In an egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains the following:4
2/3 more vitamin A 3 times more vitamin E 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids 7 times more beta-carotene
Eggs are also a valuable source of high-quality protein and fat—nutrients that many are deficient in. And I believe eggs are a nearly ideal fuel source for most of us. In addition to high-quality proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, eggs contain two amino acids with potent antioxidant properties -- tryptophan and tyrosine. Egg yolks are also a rich source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to the class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls. These two are powerful prevention elements of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness.
Ideally, you'll want to eat your eggs as close to raw as possible. Keep in mind that the closer to raw you eat them, the more important it is to make sure the eggs are truly organic and pasture-raised, as CAFO-raised eggs are far more prone to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella. As long as you're getting fresh pastured eggs, your risk of getting ill from a raw egg is quite slim. If you choose not to eat your egg yolks raw, poached or soft-boiled would be the next best option. Scrambled or fried eggs are the worst, as this oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk.
4. Fermented Foods
Fermenting is one of the best ways to turn ordinary vegetables into superfoods. The fermenting process (also known as culturing) produces copious quantities of beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health, as they help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity. When fermenting vegetables, you can either use a starter culture or simply allow the natural enzymes, and good bacteria in and on the vegetables, to do the work. This is called "wild fermentation."
Personally, I prefer a starter culture, because you have more control over the microbial species and can optimize it to produce higher levels of vitamin K2 (certain probiotic strains can produce more K2 than others). For the last two years, we've been making two to three gallons of fermented vegetables every week or two in our Chicago office for our staff to enjoy.
Just one quarter to one half cup of fermented food, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. The culturing process produces hundreds if not thousands of times more of the beneficial bacteria found in typical probiotics, which are extremely important for human health.
Yogurt and kefir made from grass-fed raw milk are two additional examples of fermented foods. Kefir is a traditionally fermented food that is chockfull of healthy bacteria (probiotics). Far from simply helping your body to better digest and assimilate your food (which they do very well), probiotics influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.
Friendly bacteria also train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies. Probiotics can even help to normalize your weight, and lack of beneficial bacteria in your gut may play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, depression, and other mood disorders, and may even contribute to autism and vaccine-induced damage. In addition to beneficial probiotics, traditionally fermented kefir also contains:
Beneficial yeast Minerals, such as magnesium Essential amino acids (such as tryptophan, which is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system) Complete proteins Calcium Vitamins B1, B2, and biotin (B7) Vitamin K Phosphorus
Please beware that pasteurized products will NOT provide you with these health benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys most of the precious enzymes, bacteria and other nutrients. This is why it's important to make your own kefir or yogurt at home. As mentioned, you can get many of the same (and likely superior) benefits, by making fermented vegetables as well. For a very small investment (five or six medium-sized cabbages and other veggies to taste, celery juice for brine and, if you like, starter culture that produces high levels of vitamin K2), you can easily make up to 14 quart jars of fermented vegetables, which are an ultimate superfood. You can use these six steps to make fermented vegetables at home.
5. Grass-Fed or Pastured (Not Pasteurized) Raw Butter
Good old-fashioned butter, when made from grass-fed cows, is rich in a substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is not only known to help fight cancer and diabetes, it may even help you to lose weight, which cannot be said for its trans-fat substitutes (i.e. margarine). Butter is a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A (needed for a wide range of functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the endocrine system in top shape) and all the other fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, and K2), which are often lacking in the modern industrial diet.
Butter is rich in important trace minerals, including manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium (a powerful antioxidant). One Swedish study also found that fat levels in your blood are lower after eating a meal rich in butter than after eating one rich in olive oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil.5 The scientists' main explanation is that about 20 percent of butterfat consists of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are used right away for quick energy and therefore don't contribute to fat levels in your blood. Therefore, a significant portion of the butter you consume is used immediately for energy.
The very best-quality butter is raw (unpasteurized) from grass-fed cows, preferably certified organic. (One option is to make your own butter from raw grass-fed milk.) The next best is pasteurized butter from grass-fed or pastured organic cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets. Even the latter two are healthier choices by orders of magnitude than margarines or spreads. Beware of "Monsanto Butter," meaning butter that comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered grains.6 This includes Land O'Lakes and Alta Dena.
6. Wild Alaskan Salmon
Research suggests that eating oily fish like Alaskan salmon once or twice a week may increase your lifespan by more than two years, and reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 35 percent.7 This is because such fish is an excellent source of animal-based omega-3 fats. Compared to those in the lowest percentiles, those with omega-3 blood levels in the highest 20 percent were 27 percent less likely to die of any cause, 40 percent less likely to die of coronary heart disease, and 48 percent less likely to die of an arrhythmia.8 To maximize the health benefits from fish, steer clear of farmed fish, including farmed salmon.
Levels of omega-3 fats are reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to wild salmon, due to the use of grain and legume feed. High levels of contaminants are also common in farmed salmon, which is why I recommend wild Alaskan salmon. Seafood labeled "Alaskan" cannot be farmed. Alaska does an incredible job at protecting their brand integrity when it comes to seafood, in addition to ensuring quality and sustainability. If you don't see the "Alaska" label or a logo from the Marine Stewardship Council, the seafood you are buying is likely farmed. If you're not a fan of salmon, you can get many of the same health benefits by eating anchovies or sardines.
About 100 species are being studied for their health-promoting benefits, and about a half dozen really stand out for their ability to deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system. In fact, some of the most potent immunosupportive agents come from mushrooms, and this is one reason why they're so beneficial for both preventing and treating cancer. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.
In one study, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.9 Mushrooms are not only capable of bolstering immune function and potentially fighting cancer. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants. They contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a "master antioxidant."
I highly recommend adding a variety of mushrooms to your diet, including shitake, maitake and reishi. As a caveat, do make sure they're organically grown in order to avoid harmful contaminants that mushrooms may absorb and concentrate from soil, air and water. Also, avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you're picking. There are a number of toxic mushrooms (all mushrooms are edible, but some of them just once—a mushroom joke), and it's easy to get them confused unless you have a lot of experience and know what to look for. Growing your own is an excellent option and a far safer alternative to picking wild mushrooms.
A Step-by-Step Plan for Dietary Success
A full 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from a healthy lifestyle can be attributed to your diet, with the remaining 20 percent coming from exercise. The challenge is that dietary advice can be a bit of a moving target. It needs to be regularly revised based on new research and wisdom from personal explorations of applying this research.
My free comprehensive nutrition plan, helps you benefit from the information that has taken me more than 30 years to compile The plan is updated with recommendations such as the addition of fermented vegetables as a source of healthy probiotics and using intermittent fasting and high-intensity exercise to really optimize your health. I encourage you to go through it from the beginning, as this plan is one of the most powerful tools to truly allow you and your family to not only optimize your diet but also to take control of your health.
My Top Five Superfoods
Reasons to Switch to Grass-Fed Beef and Dairy
By Dr. Mercola
Bone broth has a long history of medicinal use. It's known to be warm, soothing, and nourishing for body, mind, and soul...19
Physicians harkening as far back as Hippocrates have associated bone broth with gut healing. And while the importance of gut health is just now starting to fill our medical journals, this knowledge is far from new.
In fact, you could say modern medicine is just now rediscovering how the gut influences health and disease.
Many of our modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, courtesy of a diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria.
Digestive problems and joint problems, in particular, can be successfully addressed using bone broth. But as noted by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and coauthor (with Sally Fallon Morell) of the book, Nourishing Broth, bone broth is a foundational component of a healing diet regardless of what ails you.
How Broth Has Been Used Through the Ages
While our ancestors used to have a pot of soup continuously puttering over the hearth, this changed with the advent of the industrial revolution, at which point many poor people simply couldn't afford the fuel to keep the fire going.
Bouillons and broth powders got their start at that time, as the need for more portable soups arose. A major turning event was when Napoleon put out a call for portable soup to feed his army.
The winner of Napoleon's competition was Nicolas Appert1 (1749-1841), whose canning process paved the way for the modern day canned goods. Later, John T. Dorrance came up with a process to create condensed soup, which led to the empire now known as Campbell's Soups.
In the early 1900s, Campbell Soup was a decent product, boasting the best ingredients, including lots of butter, and recipes from the most famous chefs of the era. As noted by Dr. Daniel, it was a very different product from what we find in grocery stores today.
Today, if you want truly high-quality bone broth or soup, your best bet is to make it yourself. Fortunately, it's easy. The trickiest part is usually going to be finding organic bones.
Bone broth, Dr. Daniel says, is actually a fast food. It just requires a little planning. One efficient way to create your broth is to use a slow-cooker or crockpot.
This will allow you to put a few basic ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on low heat, and by the time you get home in the evening it's done.
Besides being convenient and efficient, it's also safe, as you won't have to worry about leaving a pot puttering on the stove, which could pose a fire hazard if left unattended. "It's an old-fashioned remedy for the modern world," Dr. Daniel says.
Benefits of Bone Broth
Leaky gut is the root of many health problems, especially allergies, autoimmune disorders, and many neurological disorders. The collagen found in bone broth acts like a soothing balm to heal and seal your gut lining, and broth is a foundational component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, developed by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The GAPS diet is often used to treat children with autism and other disorders rooted in gut dysfunction, but just about anyone with suboptimal gut health can benefit from it.
Bone broth is also a staple remedy for acute illnesses such as cold and flu. While there aren't many studies done on soup, one study did find that chicken soup opened up the airways better than hot water.
Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth. If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper.
The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to expel. Bone broth contains a variety of valuable nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb and use. This includes but is not limited to:
Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals Components of collagen and cartilage Silicon and other trace minerals Components of bone and bone marrow Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate The "conditionally essential" amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine
These nutrients account for many of the healing benefits of bone broth, which include the following:
- Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage and collagen.
- Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses etc.
Indeed, Dr. Daniel reports2 chicken soup — known as "Jewish penicillin"—has been revered for its medicinal qualities at least since Moses Maimonides in the 12th century. Recent studies on cartilage, which is found abundantly in homemade broth, show it supports the immune system in a variety of ways; it's a potent normalizer, true biological response modifier, activator of macrophages, activator of Natural Killer (NK) cells, rouser of B lymphocytes and releaser of Colony Stimulating Factor.
- Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis3 (whole-body inflammation). Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
- Promotes strong, healthy bones: Dr. Daniel reports bone broth contains surprisingly low amounts of calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals, but she says "it plays an important role in healthy bone formation because of its abundant collagen. Collagen fibrils provide the latticework for mineral deposition and are the keys to the building of strong and flexible bones."
- Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth. Dr. Daniel reports that by feeding collagen fibrils, broth can even eliminate cellulite too.
How to Make the Most Nourishing Broth
The more gelatinous the broth, the more nourishing it will tend to be. Indeed, the collagen that leaches out of the bones when slow-cooked is one of the key ingredients that make broth so healing. According to Dr. Daniel, if the broth gets jiggly after being refrigerated, it's a sign that it's a well-made broth. To make it as gelatinous as possible, she recommends adding chicken feet, pig's feet, and/or joint bones.
All of these contain high amounts of collagen and cartilage. Shank or leg bones, on the other hand, will provide lots of bone marrow. Marrow also provides valuable health benefits, so ideally, you'll want to use a mixture of bones. You can make bone broth using whole organic chicken, whole fish or fish bones (including the fish head), pork, or beef bones. Vary your menu as the many types offer different flavors and nutritional benefits.
If you're using chicken, you can place the entire chicken, raw, into a pot and cover with water. Add a small amount of vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones. Alternatively, you can use the carcass bones from a roasted chicken after the meat has been removed. To ensure the broth is really gelatinous, Dr. Daniel suggests adding some chicken feet when you use the carcass of a roasted chicken, as some of the collagen will have been leached out already during the roasting process. You can also add vegetables of your choice into the pot.
The most important aspect of the broth-making process is to make sure you're getting as high-quality bones as you can. Ideally, you'll want to use organically raised animal bones. It's worth noting that chickens raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce chicken stock that doesn't gel, so you'll be missing out on some of the most nourishing ingredients if you use non-organic chicken bones. If you can't find a local source for organic bones, you may need to order them. A great place to start is your local Weston A. Price chapter leader,4 who will be able to guide you to local sources.
You can also connect with farmers at local farmers markets. Keep in mind that many small farmers will raise their livestock according to organic principles even if their farm is not USDA certified organic, as the certification is quite costly. So it pays to talk to them. Most will be more than happy to give you the details of how they run their operation.
Sample Beef Broth Recipe
Below is a classic beef stock recipe excerpted from Nourishing Broth, as well as lamb and venison variations. For more nourishing broth recipes, I highly recommend Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett's new GAPS cookbook, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet.
CLASSIC BEEF STOCK. Excerpted from the book NOURISHING BROTH by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. © 2014 by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
Makes 4-5 quarts
Good beef stock requires several sorts of bones: knuckle bones and feet impart large quantities of gelatin to the broth; marrow bones impart flavor and the particular nutrients of bone marrow; and meaty ribs and shanks add color and flavor. We have found that grass-fed beef bones work best--the cartilage melts more quickly, and the smell and flavor is delicious.
- About 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
- 1 calf, beef, or pig foot, preferably cut into pieces
- 3 pounds meaty bones such as short ribs and beef shanks
- 1 small can or jar tomato paste (optional)
- 4 or more quarts cold filtered water
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 3 onions, ends removed and coarsely chopped (skin may be left on)
- 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bouquet garni made with parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf, tied together
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, or green or white peppercorns, crushed
- Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot, toss with vinegar and cover with cold water. Let stand for 1/2 to 1 hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a stainless steel roasting pan. For a particularly aromatic stock, brush the bones with tomato paste. Brown at 350 degrees in the oven, about ½ hour. When well browned, add these bones to the pot. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold filtered water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a simmer and carefully skim any scum that comes to the top. After you have skimmed, add the vegetables, bouquet garni, and peppercorns.
- Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 24 hours.
- Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl or several 2-quart Pyrex measuring cups. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.
Note: The marrow may be removed from the marrow bones a couple of hours into the cooking, and spread on whole grain sourdough bread. If left in the pan for the entire cooking period, the marrow will melt into the broth, resulting in a broth that is cloudy but highly nutritious.
Variation: Lamb Stock
Use lamb bones, especially lamb neck bones and riblets. Ideally, use all the bones left after butchering the lamb. Be sure to add the feet if you have them. This makes a delicious stock.
Variation: Venison Stock
Use venison meat and bones. Be sure to use the feet of the deer and a section of antler if possible. Add 1 cup dried wild mushrooms if desired.
Bone Broth—A Medicinal 'Soul Food'
Slow-simmering bones for a day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Making bone broth also allows you to make use of a wide variety of leftovers, making it very economical. Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.
"I would like to urge people to make as much broth as possible," Dr. Daniel says in closing. "Keep that crockpot going; eat a variety of soups, and enjoy them thoroughly."
Making Bone Broth a Staple in Your Diet May Be the Key to Improving Your Health
Bone Broth Recipe