Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.


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Bee Farmer’s Bee Hives Seized

English: Apiary of Langstroth hives in South C...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Terry Ingram’s bee hives were taken from his property by the state of Illinois. According to the Organic View,

“Terry Ingram is a well-educated farmer who holds degrees in physics and math, with minors in history, biology and education. He has been farming for over 50 years, has been a beekeeper, apiary instructor and bee researcher for over 56 years.”

Mr. Ingram had 15 years worth of research with his bees. He had worked hard  at cultivating a bee that was possibly resistant to Monsanto’s Round Up pesticide.  The department of Illinois Agriculture came to Mr. Ingram’s property when he was not present. They had no search warrant, and declared his bees had a disease called foulbrood.  Mr. Ingram was prepared to prove, in court, his bees did not have the foulbrood disease. About a month  before a court hearing, the Department of Agriculture came unannounced and seized most his bees. Of the bees that were removed from his property, they included the bees that were possibly resistant to Round Up. At first, Mr. Ingram thought the bees had been stolen, but while in court, Mr. Ingram asked a member of the Department of Agriculture if they had taken the bees. The Department of Agriculture agreed that they had taken the bees before their legal counsel could advise them not to answer the question. After admitting in court they took the bees, they claim they did not know what happened to them.

Honey Bee Happy Dance

(Photo credit: bob in swamp)

According to Mr. Ingram, during the court hearing, a member of the Department of Agriculture declared that a hive box that hadn’t contained bees in several years actually contained bees with the foulbrood disease. Mr. Ingram showed the court the hive box had been covered with vines, and the vines had not been removed from the hive box. No inspection had taken place of the empty hive box. You can see a full 16 minute interview with Mr. Ingram here.

Mr. Ingram thinks it is possible that the bees were turned over to the biotech giant, Monsanto for research.  It is odd that the Department of Agriculture’s practices are eerily similar to Monsanto’s practices of  searching farms for their genetically modified seeds. Which includes coming on to farmers property without notification,or search warrants, and taking samples of crops without farmers present. Monsanto has such a hold on our food supply. They continue to buy seed companies around the world. Lately, Monsanto has been under attack for the disappearance of the honey bee. Could it be that Monsanto who makes seeds that work with Round Up pesticide will now try to make bees to go with their seeds and pesticide?

Whether or not Monsanto is involved in Mr. Ingram’s case remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of oddities in this case. Beekeepers in Illinois are threatening to not register their hives as required by law for fear of what happened to Mr. Ingram. With damaging pesticides causing population of the honey bee to dwindle, intimidation of American bee farmers is not going to help revive the honey bee populace.

Questionable practices by the Department of Agriculture.

  •      Several unannounced visits to Mr. Ingram’s property.
  •      No search warrants ever presented to Mr. Ingram.
  •     Searches of beehives executed without Mr. Ingram present.
  •     Bees confiscated by Department of Agriculture without notification to Mr. Ingram.
  •     No accountability for the whereabouts of the bees.

Sources: Mercola, Global Research

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Monsanto, The Invisible Giant

English: Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on f...

English: Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on food crops.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monsanto is a giant biotech company that produces genetically modified crops that can be found in most of the foods we see in our grocery stores. They produce seeds that have been genetically modified to be resistant to their pesticide Round Up. Monsanto sells seeds that are genetically modified to be used in conjunction with Round Up pesticide. The result of using Round Up Ready seeds is supposed to be higher yielding crops. There is a debate on how effective these seeds really are. There have been concerns about weeds becoming resistant to the RoundUp pesticide, and as a result more pesticide must be used to produce the same result.

Some of the most popular Monsanto crops include soybeans, corn, sugar beets, and canola. Look at your food labels in the store. Most likely you will find at least one or more of these ingredients on the label.  Alfalfa, cottonseed and papaya are also genetically modified.  The percentage of these crops that are genetically modified may surprise you. Take a look at the percentages for these crops in the United States:

  •   Cottonseed-94
  •   Soy-93%
  •  Canola-90%
  •  Papaya-75%
  •   Sugar beets 54%

When GM crops first appeared in the early 90’s, the FDA did not require safety testing. Instead, the FDA claimed that there was no difference between traditionally grown food and genetically modified food.  However, The FDA’s own scientists strongly disagreed stating the differences between traditional crops and GM were profound, according to the Center for Food Safety. One of the concerns the  FDA scientist  had were about  the toxicity of GMO crops.

“FDA was well aware of the “genetic instability” problem prior to establishing their no-testing policy.  FDA scientists warned that this problem could create dangerous toxins in food and was a significant health risk.  The scientists specifically warned that the genetic engineering of foods could result in “increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants, [and] increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g., pesticides or heavy metals).”  These same FDA scientists recommended that long-term topological tests be required prior to the marketing of GE foods.  FDA officials also were aware that safety testing on the first genetically engineered food, the Calgene Flavr Savr tomato, had shown that consumption of this product resulted in stomach lesions in laboratory rats.

FDA’s response to the potential toxicity problem with genetically engineered foods was to ignore it.”

More often than not it seems as though the FDA is not looking out for us.  Toxicity is not the only concern of GMO crops. Cancer is also a concern. In 1993 the FDA approved the genetically engineered Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), produced by Monsanto, to be used on dairy cows. This hormone increases milk production in cows. The FDA said it was safe because Monsanto said it was safe……that’s right! Monsanto did their own safety testing on 30 lab rats for 90 days, and told the FDA their product was safe. The study was never published and the FDA took their word for it that rBGH was safe. The FDA does not require third-party testing for safety. They put the responsibility of testing on the producer. It is only years later we are finding out that rBGH is linked to colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Allergies, immune suppression, and loss of nutrition are also problems with genetically modified food.  The FDA still continues to allow GMO’s even with these concerns. One last concern with GMO’s is antibiotic resistance. According to the Center for Food Safety

“Another hidden risk of GE foods is that they could make disease-causing bacteria resistant to current antibiotics, resulting in a significant increase in the spread of infections and diseases in the human population.  Virtually all genetically engineered foods contain “antibiotic resistance markers” which help the producers identify whether the new genetic material has actually been transferred into the host food.  FDA’s large-scale introduction of these antibiotic marker genes into the food supply could render important antibiotics useless in fighting human diseases.  For example, a genetically engineered maize plant from Novartis includes an ampicillin-resistance gene.  Ampicillin is a valuable antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections in people and animals.  A number of European countries, including Britain, refused to permit the Novartis Bt corn to be grown, due to health concerns that the ampicillin resistance gene could move from the corn into bacteria in the food chain, making ampicillin far less effective in fighting a wide range of bacterial infections.

Again, FDA officials have ignored their own scientists’ concerns over the antibiotic resistance problem.  Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) addressed this problem in its own study of GE foods.  The BMA’s conclusion was unequivocal: “There should be a ban on the use of antibiotic resistance marker genes in GM food, as the risk to human health from antibiotic resistance developing in microorganisms is one of the major public health threats that will be faced in the 21st century.”

Monsanto is a biotech giant that has its toxic greedy hands in the food chain all across the world, and yet to many people, Monsanto is invisible. There are too many of us that don’t know what’s in our food or where it comes from. However, I don’t believe that will be the case for much longer, little by little word of mouth and grass-roots movements will shine the light on this invisible giant for all the world to see.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Take Action with the Center for Food safety by clicking here.
  • Learn more about how GMO are made by reading my post here.
  • Share this post with social media sites like Facebook to let other people know about Monsanto.
  • Purchase local organic food to keep your diet as free from GMO’s as possible.

Sources:

Sustainable Table, Center for Food Safety, Healthy Child Healthy World


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Starchology, It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Kitchen Anymore….

Vintage or Retro Kitchen

(Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri)

Starchology…doesn’t that sound like a made up word? It isn’t. In fact, it is the latest in food technology. I don’t know about you, but technology and food science are just two terms I am not comfortable with.  Starchology provides new food technology with the goal of helping food producers use cleaner simpler labels. That doesn’t mean the food is cleaner or simpler, it just means they can now label it that way.  The company, Ingredion, possesses the food technology to modify starch to create perfect textures “dial in texture” and appearances and still get away with calling it, “starch” on the ingredients list.

Ingredion is the name the company responsible for many starchology products like Novation. Here is what  Ingredion’s website has to say about their product Novation:

 “Our Ingredion NOVATION® product line helps you create satisfying, wholesome foods with clean ingredients labels. NOVATION®​ starches deliver modified starch performance without compromise and with a simple “starch” label.”

“Today, the NOVATION®​ family of functional native starches includes waxy maize, tapioca, rice and potato bases, along with organic varieties and the PRIMA line for added freeze/thaw and cold storage stability. The result: You now have the option to make a “natural,” “organic” or “wholesome” claim without compromising end-product quality or sacrificing in-process performance.”

“No matter what kind of sauce you’re making, your ready meals can have the kind of clean label consumers are looking for with dependable stability and shelf life.”

The kind of clean labels consumers are looking for….. This is the latest and greatest attempt to pull the wool over our eyes as consumers. People are becoming more aware and concerned about knowing what’s in their food. Food producers are becoming more aware that we are starting to read food labels and ingredient list. So now they will use food science to further alter our food and claim, in writing, on the package that the ingredients are simple….Geee…thanks.

Ingredion is working to make a more functional flour. Again, from their own website, this is what they have to say about the new flour they are creating to be used in our foods.

“Chefs appreciate flour for its contribution to taste, appearance, texture and overall consumer appeal. But flour can cause problems due to an inability to withstand rigorous food processing conditions and extended storage requirements. That’s why we partnered with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients to create theHOMECRAFT® family of functional flours.”

” They give a natural and luxurious appearance, smooth texture, creamy mouthfeel and authentic flavor to prepared foods. HOMECRAFT®​ functional flours reduce process and end-product variability and improve processing times and batch-to-batch consistency.”

This stuff screams modification, alteration, abomination, and highly processed all at the same time. It is outrageous that they can simply call this “flour” or “starch” on an ingredient list. The wording in this makes my stomach turn. ” They give a natural and luxurious appearance.”  It doesn’t mean that they are natural…they will just look that way.

How about this quote, ” They improve processing times and batch-to-batch consistency.”  So they have formulated the flour to cook faster, and formulated to ensure that each time its used the final product comes out the same.  I think we are becoming a nation that has forgotten what is like to have Grandma make a cake in her kitchen. It took time to make homemade goodies, and they came out tasting great, but each time it they were slightly different…because it was real food made with real ingredients.

It seems as though reading our ingredients, and knowing what is in our food just got harder.

Sources: Food Innovation, Pandora’s Lunch Box


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Feather Meal Fed to Chickens Contains, Antibiotics, Prozac, Tylenol, and Benadryl

Chicken, Served.

(Photo credit: DaveOnFlickr)

Grilled chicken lightly seasoned with some of your favorite fresh vegetables sounds like a nice dinner, doesn’ t it?  It may not sound so appealing once you find out  what the chicken’s diet consisted of. According to a recent study by John’s Hopkins  Bloomberg School of Public Health, feather meal that is fed to chickens (yes, feathers from other chickens fed to living chickens…gross) is contaminated with a  pharmaceutical soup that contains antibiotics known as  fluoroquinolones.

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac)

Fluoxetine HCl 20mg Capsules (Prozac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics that used to treat serious bacterial infections in people who do not respond to first line of defense antibiotics.  29.9 billion pounds of antibiotics were consumed by livestock in 2011. …that is a LOT of antibiotics. We continue to find strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The large amount of antibiotics consumed by the livestock that we eat is the suspected reason for this. Farm animals eat the antibiotics, we eat the farm animals. Fluroquinolones we banned in the use of poultry in 2005 by the FDA, but yet those antibiotics are still showing up in feather meal.

Fluroquinolones are not the only disturbing thing found in the feather meal.

“In conducting the study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University analyzed commercially available feather meal samples, acquired from six U.S. states and China, for a suite of 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products. All 12 samples tested had between 2 and 10 antibiotic residues. In addition to antimicrobials, 7 other personal care products, including the pain reliever acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), the antihistamine diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) and the antidepressant fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac), were detected.

Researchers also found caffeine in 10 of 12 feather meal samples. “This study reveals yet another pathway of unwanted human exposure to a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” noted study co-author Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, Co-Director of the Center for Health Information & Research and Associate Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University.”

In addition to the drugs that were found, there were also several strains of E coli in the feather feed.

 Doesn’t the FDA monitor what goes into animal feed?

In a word, no. The FDA request voluntary action of testing from the industry….now, how likely is that going to happen? The FDA does not have guidelines or requirements for testing the feed. They simply trust that the feed companies will do what’s right. In the same regard, they trust biotech companies like, Monsanto, to test for safety of GMO products. No third-party involved to ensure integrity.

You can read the full report from John Hopkins here.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Purchase organic chicken
  • Purchase chicken from a local farm where you can know the person the farms your food.

Sources:  John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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Gerber Graduates

Gerbaer Graduates Lil' Entrees Chicken and Pasta Wheel Pickups in Sauce with Peas.

Gerber Graduates

Not too long ago, my adult son pointed out these Gerber Graduate meals for toddlers. The first thing  I see on the box is ” made with farm grown vegetables’ …uhhh.. where else are vegetables grown? The second claim I see is,” no preservatives”.  According to the package, Gerber pressure cooks the food so there is no need for preservatives.

Now for a look at the ingredients:

IMG_3026

Hidden forms of MSG -Modified Corn Starch, Maltodexterin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract,

Most likely GMO- Soy Lecithin. You can read my other post about GMO’s here.

Salt- Salt, Potassium Chloride (Salt Substitute)

Sugar-Sugar

Starch- Tapioca Starch, Modified Corn Starch

Natural Preservatives -Soy Lecithin, Lemon, Salt, Sugar

Natural Flavor- The origin from where this is obtained can be disgusting. You can read my post on natural flavoring here.

There are vitamins that have been added to this product. These are artificially added vitamins:

  • Thiamin mononitrate
  • Riboflavin

Starch is mentioned 4 times in the ingredients list.

I called Gerber to ask about their plastic container marked recycling code #7.  Plastics that have the #7 could contain BPA if they don’t have the letters PLA or a leaf symbol on them. The leaf symbol and PLA let you know the  plastic is from plant sources and doesn’t contain

Plastic recycle logo Other

Plastic recycle logo Other (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BPA. There is no PLA or leaf symbol on the container that Gerber supplies. The outside package says that it plastic doesn’t contain BPA. I called Gerber to ask if they do quality control checks on their plastic to ensure ongoing safety and that they do not contain BPA. This was a brutal call. I spoke with a supervisor named Diane who was not happy about my questions regarding quality control. I simply wanted to hear that Gerber does their own testing for BPA and possibly had a third-party tester as well.  She insisted on dodging my questions, and asked me at one point, ” I don’t know what it is that you don’t understand?”  I kept my cool during the whole entire time, but what I didn’t understand was why she insisted on avoiding my question. Finally she relented and contacted quality control for me and had Carla call me back from the quality control department. Carla assured me they did their own testing for BPA at Gerber and they had compliance requirements from the plastic manufacture as well. She couldn’t go into detail as to what they were due to confidentiality reasons. I am not sure why Diane couldn’t tell me that in the first place …

One other note, Diane, in an attempt to impress me, told me that regarding their vegetables, they test the soil, tell the farmer what kind of seeds they can use and what kind of pesticides they can use. This is the layout for factory farming and GMO crops. I wasn’t impressed at all.

I was curious about the,” no preservatives claim” on the box. So I bought a package of these and left them out in the open to see how long it would take to grow mold on the food. It took right at 4 full days. Pressure cooking and natural preservatives like, salt, sugar , lemon, soy lecithin are what Gerber use to keep this product on the shelf without refrigeration…..gross. Pressure cooking involves cooking food at high temperatures. This is my guess of why they had to add in some artificial vitamins to account for what was lost in cooking (or perhaps what was never there to begin with).

Gerber Food Day One

Gerber Food Day One

Gerber Day Four

Gerber Day Four

Sham Award

This is a box that basically contains MSG, GMO, starch, sugar, and salt along with some artificial vitamins.

Gerber needs to graduate to producing real food for toddlers, and not boxes full of  sugar, salt, starch, MSG & GMO’s to our younger generation.

Sources: Live Strong, Gerber, Inrfood.com


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Styrene/ Styrofoam is a Carcinogen

A styrofoam food container.

Everyday I see styrofoam containers in the form of  fast food containers, restaurant take out, and coffee cups. Styrofoam containers are a favorite among people and restaurant owners. Let’s face it, they do a great job of keeping food hot or cold. But do they also do a great job of promoting cancer and leukemia?

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Environmental Protection Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

According to the EPA styrene , a chemical component of styrofoam, causes cancer in animals. While the EPA wants to do more testing to see if it causes cancer in humans,  Philip Landrigan, M.D. , from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, prefers to error on the side of caution by telling  people that they should be cautious while the data is completed.  As a pediatrician, he urges pregnant women and children to refrain from using styrofoam containers.

The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), 1983 stated that the chemical styrene could migrate into food from styrofoam containers. If this is true, just imagine all of the chemicals that we eat when our hot food is placed in a styrofoam take out container, or when our piping hot coffee is contained in a styrofoam cup.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently listed styrene as a potential carcinogen.

It seems as though every government agency is willing to all, but call styrene a carcinogen. Who knows how many more years it will take the government to reach its final conclusion that styrene is harmful to our health. The companies that make styrofoam are fighting back by calling the science unfounded. They don’t believe that styrene is a carcinogen. These companies have a lot to lose if the government declares styrene to be a carcinogen. You can bet they will pull out all the stops to delay the outcome of government testing.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Avoid styrofoam containers.
  • If your favorite restaurant uses styrofoam, call them and ask them to provide an alternative. Post the request on their Facebook page, or other social media, if they have one.
  • Do not microwave coffee, tea, or foods in styrofoam containers, not even for a few seconds.
  • Contact your representative and encourage them to ban the use of styrofoam containers. Don’t know who your representative is? Click here to find out.

Sources: IPCS, EPA, Abc News.


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Honey Bees Are Not Just About Honey

Description unavailable

(Photo credit: Mike_tn)

The honey bee is responsible for 1/3 of the food we eat. These beautiful buzzing creatures pollinate many of the foods we eat such as apples, alfalfa, blueberries, cucumbers, kiwifruit, pears, plums, some citrus fruits, broccoli, onions, lettuce and a several others.

Since 2005 the honey bee has been in gradual decline all around the world. Some bee keepers are losing up to 55% of their bees each year. The normal bee loss is considered to be between 5-10% per year.  While there are debates about what is causing the decline of the honey bee, the focus has been narrowed down to the use of pesticides in crops.  In particular the use of neonicotinoids.  Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that live within the plant for the duration of the plant’s life. Bayer is a company that produces a large amount of neonicotinoid pesticides.  The chemical in neonicotinoids that has been keepers most concerned is clothianidin.

Honey bee on Dandylion

Honey bee on Dandylion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to James Frazier, PhD., professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences,

 “Among the neonicotinoids, clothianidin is among those most toxic for honey bees; and this combined with its systemic movement in plants has produced a troubling mix of scientific results pointing to its potential risk for honey bees through current agricultural practices. Our own research indicates that systemic pesticides occur in pollen and nectar in much greater quantities than has been previously thought, and that interactions among pesticides occurs often and should be of wide concern.”

In an article for the New York Times, Eric Mussen, an apiculturist at the University of California, Davis, said analysts had documented about 150 chemical residues in pollen and wax gathered from beehives.

“Where do you start?” Dr. Mussen said. “When you have all these chemicals at a sublethal level, how do they react with each other? What are the consequences?”

Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care Systemic Pesticide

Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care

It may seem like the systemic pesticides are in the hands of big agriculture, but they can be found in our own backyards. Bayer makes this systemic pesticide for rose care. This pesticide is a systemic pesticide that is active in the roots, stems, pedals, and pollen for up to 6 weeks with one application. I used this product several years ago in my own yard. It works like a charm for keeping your roses bug free and fertilized at the same time. I have stopped using it due the concern of systemic pesticide may have on honey bees. It was only last year that I saw a bee in my back yard. It makes me wonder if the effects of these systemic products last much longer than 6 weeks.

Bee and Shadow with Sunflower

Bee and Shadow with Sunflower (Photo credit: cobalt123)

What You Can Do to Make Difference:

  • Call your state representative and ask them to ban systemic pesticides.
  • Refrain from using systemic pesticides in your own yard.
  • Use organic pesticides and fertilizers in your yard.
  • Plant flowers that are bee friendly in your yard.
  • Learn more about honey bees by watching the film, Vanishing of the Bees.

Sources: pesticide Action Network (PAN), New York Times, California Country Magazine