Worried about Salmonella poisoning? Got Kefir?

Food Prot. 2011 Jan;74(1):94-100.
Inhibitory activity of cheese whey fermented with kefir grains.
Londero A, Quinta R, Abraham AG, Sereno R, De Antoni G, Garrote GL.
Source

Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Criotecnología de Alimentos (CIDCA), Calle 47 y 116, 1900, La Plata, Argentina.
Abstract

We investigated the chemical and microbiological compositions of three types of whey to be used for kefir fermentation as well as the inhibitory capacity of their subsequent fermentation products against 100 Salmonella sp. and 100 Escherichia coli pathogenic isolates. All the wheys after fermentation with 10% (wt/vol) kefir grains showed inhibition against all 200 isolates. The content of lactic acid bacteria in fermented whey ranged from 1.04 × 10(7) to 1.17 × 10(7) CFU/ml and the level of yeasts from 2.05 × 10(6) to 4.23 × 10(6) CFU/ml. The main changes in the chemical composition during fermentation were a decrease in lactose content by 41 to 48% along with a corresponding lactic acid production to a final level of 0.84 to 1.20% of the total reaction products. The MIC was a 30% dilution of the fermentation products for most of the isolates, while the MBC varied between 40 and 70%, depending on the isolate. The pathogenic isolates Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis 2713 and E. coli 2710 in the fermented whey lost their viability after 2 to 7 h of incubation. When pathogens were deliberately inoculated into whey before fermentation, the CFU were reduced by 2 log cycles for E. coli and 4 log cycles for Salmonella sp. after 24 h of incubation. The inhibition was mainly related to lactic acid production. This work demonstrated the possibility of using kefir grains to ferment an industrial by-product in order to obtain a natural acidic preparation with strong bacterial inhibitory properties that also contains potentially probiotic microorganisms.

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What’s Really In Your Eggs?

What’s REALLY In Your Eggs?

Today there are many labels on an egg carton meant to steer one to the best, most nutritious choice. But do these labels accurately describe what’s really in your eggs?

“Free-Range” or “Cage-Free” is a popular term meant to connote chickens living off the land with ample space to move about, plenty of sunshine, and fresh air.

However, the USDA allows producers to use these terms as long as their fowl are not kept in small pens or battery cages (deplorably small metal spaces crammed with chickens). This means the birds are not necessarily roaming a pasture; it could very well mean they are not roaming at all. Kept in over-crowded factories devoid of fresh air and sunlight, often times these spaces do not have windows. This missing element is crucial as it supplies vitamin D to the chicken; no D to the chicken, no D to you!

“Organic” is another catch-phrase people look for when buying their eggs.

Sadly, organic as a good thing when it comes to “commercial organic” eggs is bunk! Jam-packed in tight spaces with more fowl than foot room, these birds are anything but healthy; they are not fed antibiotics yet live in a breeding ground for disease. (Hence the “farmers” who raise these chickens and procure these eggs often wear space-age, bacteria protecting, white suits when handling them.)

Due to these unclean conditions, the USDA has mandated that all organic eggs be bathed in cleaning agents and chlorine. And while many companies tout their cleansers to be organic, it is still bleach – not meant to be consumed nor used on consumables!

“Vegetarian” is yet another term people assume assures them a healthier egg choice.

Frankly, vegetarian diets and chickens don’t go together! Chickens are bug and worm eaters by nature; they are not meant to survive on veggie diets. To compensate for the protein not offered to them by free roaming, most farmers choose soy (a controversial ingredient) in feed for these chickens, meaning it goes right to you.

As well, corn is often used with the soy. Corn and soy are two of the most common genetically modified (GMO) products today. It is understood that if something is labeled “organic”, it does not contain GMOs. However, without third party checks and balances constantly in place, one has no way of knowing if the large, “commercial organic” farmers are feeding their chickens feed completely devoid of GMOs. I’m just saying – it’s not like you can meander over to their farm and check things out.

“Fertile” not only gets print space on cartons but commands a higher price point than non-fertile eggs.

Originating in folklore, it is believed that fertile eggs have more nutritional value than non-fertile eggs, but this theory has not been proven via any known tests.

“Omegas” are all the new rage, printed largely on egg cartons

Pastured chickens and hens feeding on bugs, worms, dirt, and the occasional compost thrown into the field by their farmers lay eggs rich in omega-3. High levels of omega-3 fatty acids lower our “bad cholesterol” and raise our “good cholesterol”. As well, omega-3 contains valuable nutrients and in turn helps build our immune systems. The grain-fed chickens and their eggs are high in omega-6. When we are oversupplied with omega-6, our “bad cholesterol” rises, and our “good cholesterol” stays low.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO KNOW?

The American diet is heavy with omega-6 and light with omega-3. In fact, our diets have been so high in omega-6 for so long, we really need to focus almost exclusively on eating omega-3 rich foods to balance the levels out.Chickens that are pastured get high rates of omega-3 just by being chickens living a chicken life, the way nature intended. These omegas are different than the omega-3 found in supplements like flax.

It should also be noted, according to the Maitoba Agricultural Department, that unless tests are performed consistently, there is no way to tell how much flax is being eaten and absorbed by the chicken. That said, because flax is highly estrogenic, “commercial organic” egg farmers pump up these chickens with this flax, disregarding the fact that omega-3 from animals are different than omega-3 from flax or fish.

So Should You Buy Non-Organic Eggs?

Aside from the many disturbing farming methods and sub-par attributes associated with non-organic, commercial eggs, the USDA’s approval of Roxarsone should be reason enough to avoid these eggs as an option. Roxarsone is an additive used in chicken feed and is the most common additive used to promote growth, kill parasites, and improve pigmentation of chicken meat.

However, Roxarsone is an arsenic-based additive. Yep. Arsenic! Apparently, in its original form, Roxarsone is relatively benign. But under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens and on farmland, the compound is converted into more toxic forms of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, skin, kidney, and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead to partial paralysis and diabetes. Apparently, Roxarsone was banned in Europe but not in the US. Nice.

Did you know that pastured chicken eggs have five times as many nutrients as commercial organic eggs? Do your homework to choose safe and nutritious non-commercial organic and pastured eggs for your breakfast!

“Pastured” Versus “Commercial Organic”

Pastured chicken eggs, meaning from actual free roaming, bug/worm/compost/grass/dirt pecking hens and chickens have five times the nutrient value of commercial organic eggs. Below are the latest findings from MotherEarth News.

Pastured to Commercial Eggs Have:

  • 5 times more vitamin D
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta-carotene

The MotherEarth News wasn’t the only one doing research on this. Check out the many other studies they cite:

  • In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50% more folic acid and 70% more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.
  • In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
  • A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.
  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat and found it to have 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 50% more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220% more vitamin E, and 62% more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
  • The 2005 study MotherEarth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50% more vitamin E, and three times more beta-carotene.

SO WHAT’S AN EGG LOVER TO DO?

If you are hankering for a chicken or hen egg (hen eggs are denser in nutrients), the hierarchy goes like this:

  • PREMIUM GOLD STANDARD: Eggs from chickens in your own backyard raised on biodynamic soil. Biodynamic soil is the most nutrient dense and yields the most worms, as well as gets richer in nutrients over time. Biodynamic eggs have a deep yellow (sometimes almost orange) color and are very rich. You may find one egg of this variety lasts you through the day and fills you in a way unparalleled to commercial organic eggs.
  • GOLD STANDARD #A: Eggs from chickens in your own backyard feeding on your organic compost, worms, bugs, and grass while getting plenty of sunlight and clean air.
  • GOLD STANDARD #B: Biodynamic eggs from a farmer you TRUST.
  • SILVER: Pastured eggs from a farmer you TRUST! Assure the birds are pastured/bug/ worm/dirt/grass pecking and get lots of fresh air and sunlight.
*Please note, while there are theories on how to tell if your eggs are truly pastured and produced by a bug/worm fed chicken, the best way is to know your farmer!

*Keep in mind: If you have true pastured, high-quality-pecking chickens, the eggs are best not refrigerated. Eggs come with a protective coating on the outside of the shell that keeps bacteria out and helps seal in nutrients. Nutritionists have said they see better results with clients who eat eggs kept at room temperature. This coating is broken when refrigerated or washed.

If you’re having difficulty finding a farmer in your area, ask around at your local farmer’s market. (Farmers do not always put their eggs on the table, and most cannot produce quantities vast enough to command a booth for eggs alone – another good sign that these eggs are on the up and up. Be wary of the “pastured chicken farmer”, who can produce large quantities and sell at multiple farmers’ markets. Space and nutrient dense dirt for lots of chickens is not easy to come by and is expensive. Be double wary if the large quantity egg farmer is selling the eggs at a low price point.)

Non-commercial “organic” or “pastured” eggs may not be celebrity perfect but are beautiful in their organic irregularity: varying sizes, shapes, texture, and even color! You may discover during certain times of the year that their yolks are deeper yellow than others and super rich. You may also find less of these nutrient-dense eggs are needed to satiate your protein fix.

While these eggs may not come in fancy packaging or bear long-winded descriptions, they will be just what they say they are – and that is the real deal!

WHAT TO REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:

Since when did buying eggs become so confusing? There are countless specialty labels on egg cartons to choose from, but it is important to understand each label clearly to find out what is really in your eggs. Even the popular egg terms of cage-free and free-range may be misleading since the USDA allows these egg producers to label their eggs as such as long as the chickens are not kept in small battery cages. Still, this does not mean that cage-free eggs come from chickens roaming a pasture; the chickens could still be in undesirable conditions without sunlight so that your eggs are severely lacking in vitamin D. The best choice by far to get the nutrition you need from your daily egg is to look for non-commercial organic or pastured eggs for a healthy dose of protein and a nutritious boost to your breakfast!

http://bodyecology.com/archive/whats-really-in-your-eggs.php

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AN EGG IS AN EGG IS AN EGG…. OR IS IT? (entertaining version of the above facts-based article)

*Disclaimer:  All dishing aside (for the sake of quips and blog structure), I ♥ LA and have met many authentic people here who are not afraid to live their dream!

When I first came to LA, I worked in the film industry, commuting summers from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Upon arrival, I was immediately placed in the edit bay on a film about a young man who comes to Hollywood seeking fame and concluding with the message that you can pretend to be anything in LA because LA is all “Esse Non Verdi” (to be and not to seem).

Well actually, it was about a guy looking for love but the b-story had something to do with being anything you want to be in LA just by claiming it to be.   This was apropos for me, as the Executive Producer on the film told me to act like I knew what I was doing though I’d never before stepped foot in an edit bay; something the editor must have discovered rather quickly as I went from dealing with film reels to fetching coffee by the second day.

The movie took a piss at all the eccentricities and trends of LA at the time, a time when “organic free-range, cage-free, vegetarian, yadda yadda” had just hit the elitists’ vernacular and was all the rage in fancy restaurants.  The film made fun of this by attaching the litany of these qualities to everything from fish to watercress.

I vividly recall watching over and over again, a clip where a snooty waiter muttered these newfangled classifications regarding the eggs used in a schmancy omelet to this unsuspecting chump who was “F.O.B. (fresh off the bus)” from the Midwest.  I identified with this chump, having just rolled into town myself not two weeks prior and suddenly swept into the frenetic whirl of the entertainment industry; this was the land of smoke and mirrors, of make-believe and misrepresentation…. I just didn’t know then how deep this falsity ran.

LET’S FREEZE FRAME THE SET UP AND TAKE A GANDER SHALL WE:

The chump in the film looked up to the waiter and in an attempt to not appear green, feigned laissez-faire familiarity with these terms yet clearly was lost.

The well-fed hoity-toity waiter was probably eating-hand-to-mouth as a day player.

The glamorous restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills? Read: A failing diner in the Valley willing to rent out its space to a film crew.

And then there was me… I, like the chump in the film, pretending to be a qualified editor’s assistant while really a student of philosophy, was seduced by the idea that to be “in the know” I should eat these “cage free, range-free” eggs or at least dine where they were offered.

AH HOLLYWOOD!

I had no idea back then what these terms actually meant of course.  Paradoxically, I was always considered a “health nut” even by crunchy Santa Fe standards.  Yes, I ate organic but I didn’t eat eggs much at the time.  And when I did they were usually incorporated into some kind of baked good.  Now, with this new exposure, I determined only to buy eggs with this nomenclature on their cartoons as I switched to a more white protein diet (the then fad intended to give you that beach-toned body LA was so famous for…when in Rome!)

What I didn’t know and wouldn’t come to fully understand until nearly two decades later, two decades!  Is that the so-called organic, free-range, cage free, vegetarian fed chickens were also impostors.  Yes, the old “Esse Non Videri”.  These ”healthy” eggs were a mirage.  The truth is…well, hard to stomach…like so many truths I uncovered in the city of litter and glitter over the decades.

So, here’s the documentary version of the faux “healthy” egg fiction that now dominates the organic marketplace.  Chicken and egg eaters, hold your forks…

Fact:  “Free-Range” or “cage-free” does not mean the chickens are necessarily roaming a pasture.  It could mean they are not roaming in a very crowded factory, a large open space packed with chickens and devoid of fresh air and sunlight.  Often times these spaces do not have windows.  This missing element is crucial as it supplies vitamin D to the chicken.  No D to the chicken, no D to you!

Fact:  Organic as a good-thing, when it comes to “commercial organic” eggs, is bunk! Crammed in tight spaces with more fowl than foot room, these birds are anything but healthy; they are not fed antibiotics yet live in a breeding ground for disease, (hence the “farmers” who raise these chickens and procure these eggs often wear space-age, bacteria protecting, white suits when handling them).  Due to these unclean conditions, the USDA has mandated that all organic eggs be bathed in cleaning agents and chlorine.  And while many companies tout their cleansers to be organic, it’s still bleach; not meant to be consumed nor used on consumables!

Fact:  Vegetarian diets and chickens don’t go!  Chickens are bug and worm eaters by nature; they are not meant to survive on veggie diets.  To compensate for the protein not offered to them by free roaming, most farmers choose soy (a controversial ingredient) in feed for these chickens, meaning it goes right to you.  As well, corn is often used with the soy.  Corn and soy are two of the most common genetically modified (GMO) products today.  It is understood that if something is labeled “organic” it does not contain GMOS.  However, without third party checks and balances constantly in place, one has no way of knowing if the large, “commercial organic” farmers are feeding their chickens feed completely devoid of GMOs…I’m just saying…it’s not like you can meander over to their farm and check things out.

Fact:  Pastured chickens and hens that feed on bugs, worms, dirt and the occasional compost thrown into the field by their farmers lay eggs rich in omega-3.  High levels of omega-3 fatty acids lower one’s “bad cholesterol” and raise one’s “good cholesterol.  As well, omega-3 contains valuable nutrients and in turn helps build one’s immune system.  Grain-fed chickens and their eggs are high in omega-6.  When we are oversupplied with omega-6, one’s “bad cholesterol” rises, and one’s “good cholesterol” stays low.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO KNOW?

The American diet is heavy with omega-6 and light with omega-3. In fact, our diets have been so high in omega-6 for so long, we really need to focus almost exclusively on eating omega-3 rich foods to balance the levels out.

Fact: While the following pertains to commercial chicken and eggs, I feel the need to list it here because it’s just unfathomable that the USDA would approve this.  Roxarsone is an additive used in chicken feed, it’s the most common additive used to promote growth, kill parasites and improve pigmentation of chicken meat.  Oh did I mention it’s an arsenic-based additive?  Yep.  Arsenic!  Apparently, in its original form, Roxarsone is relatively benign. But under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens and on farmland, the compound is converted into more toxic forms of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, skin, kidney and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead to partial paralysis and diabetes.  Apparently Roxarsone was banned in Europe but not in the US.  Nice.

Fact:  Pastured chicken eggs, meaning actual free roaming, bug/worm/compost/dirt/grass (high in beta carotene) pecking hens and chickens have five times the nutrient value of commercial organic eggs.  Below are the latest findings from MotherEarth News.

Pastured to Commercial eggs have:

  • 5 times more vitamin D
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta-carotene

The MotherEarth News wasn’t the only one doing research on this. Check out all these other studies they cite (thank you Cheeseslave.com):

  • In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.
  • In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
  • A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.
  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
  • The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.

SO WHAT’S AN EGG LOVER TO DO?

If you’re hankering for a chicken or hen egg (hens are denser in nutrients) the hierarchy goes like this:

PREMIUM GOLD STANDARD: Eggs from chickens in your own backyard raised on biodynamic soil.  Biodynamic soil is the most nutrient dense and yields the most worms as well as gets richer in nutrients over time.   Biodynamic eggs have a deep yellow (sometimes almost orange) color and are very rich.  You may find one egg of this variety lasts you through the day and fills you in a way unparalleled to commercial organic eggs.

GOLD STANDARD #A: Eggs from chickens in your own backyard feeding on your organic compost, worms, bugs and grass while getting plenty of sunlight and clean air.

*Please note, if you live in cold climates or where seasonal temperatures change greatly, you may find you need to supplement with organic soy-free feed during winter months.  At this time bugs and worms may not be plentiful or snow may render milling about less feasible.  Assure your feed, or the feed your local farmer uses, is organic.

GOLD STANDARD #B:  Biodynamic eggs from a farmer you TRUST!

SILVER: Pastured eggs from a local farmer you TRUST! (see above).  Assure the birds are pastured/bug, worm/grass/dirt pecking and get lots of fresh air and sunlight.

*See above about organic feed supplementation.

*Please note, the “Essi non Verdi” theme applies here as I have experienced two farmers whose integrity was called to question when it was suspected that one was repackaging commercial eggs and selling them as pastured and another was feeding his chickens corn-based feed, (organic or commercial unknown) but saying they were fed only compost, bugs and worms.

* Keep in mind: if you have true pastured, high-quality-pecking chickens, the eggs are best not refrigerated.  Eggs come with a protective coating on the outside of the shell that keeps bacteria out and helps seal in nutrients.  Some nutritionists say they see better results with clients who eat eggs kept at room temperature.  This coating is broken when refrigerated or washed.

If you’re having difficulty finding a farmer in your area ask around at your local farmer’s markets (farmers don’t always put their eggs on the table and most can’t produce quantities vast enough to command a booth for eggs alone—another good sign these eggs are on the up and up.  Be wary of the “pastured chicken farmer” who can produce large quantities and sell at multiple farmers’ markets.  Space and nutrient dense dirt for lots of chickens is not easy to come by and is expensive.  Be double wary if the large quantity egg farmer is selling the eggs at a low price point).

Finally, you can contact the westonaprice.org foundation for listings.

ESSE QUAM VIDERI (TO BE, RATHER THAN TO SEEM TO BE)

Non-commercial “organic” or “pastured” eggs may not be celebrity perfect but I find them beautiful in their organic irregularity: varying sizes, shapes, and texture, even color!  You may discover during certain times of year, their yolks are deeper yellow than others and super rich.  You may also find less of these nutrient dense eggs are needed to satiate your protein fix.

While these eggs may not come in fancy packaging or bear long-winded descriptions,  they’ll be just what they say they are and that is the real deal!

*Discussion of fertile versus non-fertile eggs to follow…And here it is, short and sweet:

Originating in folklore it’s believed that fertile eggs have more nutritional value than non-fertile eggs but this theory has not been proven via any known tests.

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Got (A2, grass-fed, raw, kefir cow’s) Milk?

Got (A2, grass-fed, raw, kefir cow’s) Milk?

Breaking Down The Milk Quandary

Perhaps, one of the most controversial dietary topics amongst whole foodies today, aside from grain, is cow’s milk. On one hand, there are the die-heart supporters, the Weston Price, Sally Fallon, Tom Cowan followers who consider Raw Milk a curative for a host of ailments from allergies to heart disease.  On the other, there are those that say milk, regardless of it being raw, is not meant for human consumption.  These folks point out that human beings are the only mammals that still consume milk after infancy and the digestive characteristics of a calf are very different than that of a human’s, hence not an appropriate fit.

Those who advocate drinking raw milk are also in contention with supporters of pasteurization.  Within pasteurized varieties one finds consumers of both commercial and commercial organic milk.  And more recently, a debate is growing amongst the raw milk community over A1 and A2 cows.   Then there are those that prefer to drink only kefir milk.

The following article will give a brief overview and dissemination of what these various milk identities are and some of the pros and cons attributed to them:

Commercial Milk:

Cows fed GMO grain, pumped up with antibiotics and hormones and kept in subpar, inhumane conditions produce commercial milk that is by far the easiest variety to consider unhealthful and unbeneficial for consumption.   That this milk is devoid of nutrients is one factor, however many whole food activists and nutritionists consider it actually to be harmful to one’s health.   What’s more it lacks any of its original, fresh creamy taste that was the stamp of cows milk when it first was discovered as a consumable and some, accustomed to fresh farmed raw milk, say they can even taste the chemicals in commercial milk.   Finally, the milk is put through the controversial processes of pasteurization and often, homogenization.

With little taste, nutrient value and imbued with unhealthy additives, one might readily avoid this variety, let alone question the very point of consuming it.

Harming attributes attributed to commercial milk include:

  1. Unknown but suspected and far reaching negative effects of ingesting growth hormones and antibiotics given to the cow and transferred to the milk.
  2. Pesticide content
  3. Changes in composition of the fats, especially the CLA (conjugated linoleic acids) content due to a grain, as opposed to the nature-intended, grass diet
  4. Pasteurization * see below
  5. Homogenization * see below

Organic Milk:

Organic milk may include cows fed primarily on a grass-fed diet (please see BodyEcology newsletter, “What’s really In Your Eggs” for the importance of Omega 3 found in grass fed animal products), pastured with plenty of space to exercise.  However, the stamp “organic” does not insure it’s a product of sustainability or environmentally sound practices.  John Robbins (The Food Revolution) was one of the first to voice concern about organic milk producers that weren’t living up to this image.  He stated that Horizon Dairy keeps their cows in dry feedlots where there is little if any grass.  This was supported in a sense, when a concerned consumer wrote to Horizon questioning the conditions of their farm and Horizon responded by saying that “Although we do not include ‘outside grass’ as a standard part of their diets, the cows certainly may graze on grasses while outside.”  According to Robbins, this is misleading, as there is hardly grass on the feedlots from which they can graze.  Much like the egg industry, while “organic” may include happy pastured cows it is not the prerequisite to obtaining “organic” status.  On large farms like Horizon, the cows are separated from their calves and then milked 3-4 times daily to obtain the milk meant for their babies and thus taken to sale.  In this sense, the ethics of large-scale milk production, organic or not, are questionable.

It is important to note that some organic milk producers supplement their cows’ diets with grain, hay, corn, silage and water, particularly in colder months.  It is assumed the feed is organic, the hay and grass devoid of pesticides and the water from a clean source.  What’s more, organic cows’ milk comes from cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics.  While these aspects make commercial organic milk a more attractive option to commercial milk, there is still the issue of pasteurization.

Oh, dear Louis Pasteur, did you ever think…

Pasteurization:

While pasteurization kills harmful bacteria it also renders milk a processed food.  Some will go so far as to say a “dead” food.  According to one study, “Pasteurization was also found to affect the hematogenic and growth-promoting properties of the special milk (raw milk from specially fed cows, whose milk did not produce nutritional anemia–whereas commercially pasteurized milk did)…” -Krauss, W. E., Erb, J.H. and Washburn, R. G., Studies on the nutritive value of milk II. The effect of pasteurization on some of the nutritive properties of milk,” Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 518, page 11, January, 1933.

Here are some facts about pasteurized milk:

  1. Completely changes the structure of the milk proteins (denaturization) into something far less than healthy
  2. Alters milk’s amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available
  3. Alters milk’s mineral components such as calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur as well as many trace minerals, making them less available
  4. Promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins

–Destroys part of the vitamin C found in Raw Milk, often by 50%

–Additional vitamin loss usually up to 80%

  1. Alters milk’s mineral components such as calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur as well as many trace minerals, making them less available
  2. Some evidence that pasteurization alters lactose, making it more readily absorbable. This, and the fact that pasteurized milk puts an unnecessary strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes, may explain why milk consumption in civilized societies has been linked with diabetes
  3. Destroys the Wulzen or anti-stiffness factor which is found to protect against calcification of the joints–degenerative arthritis–as well as hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland.
  4. Pasteurization does not guarantee cleanliness, (outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated Pasteurized Milk have been reported in recent decades)
  5. Pasteurization leaves milk devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply
  6. Lacking beneficial bacteria, in time Pasteurized Milk will putrefy while Raw Milk turns sour yet some consider tasteful
  7. Encourages growth of harmful bacteria,
  8. Turns the sugar of milk, known as lactose, into beta-lactose.  This is far more soluble and therefore more rapidly absorbed in the system, rendering the milk drinker hungry sooner
  9. Renders the major part of calcium found in raw milk insoluble, frequently leading to rickets, bad teeth, and nervous troubles

(*As Tom Cowan states in his article on Pasteurized Milk versus Raw:  Sufficient calcium content is vital to children; and with the loss of phosphorus also associated with calcium, bone and brain formation suffer serious setbacks.)

  1. Destroys all the enzymes in milk
  2. Produces nutritional anemia
  3. Destroys 20% of the iodine found in raw milk
  4. Chemicals may be added to suppress odor and restore taste. Synthetic vitamin D2 or D3 is added — the former is toxic and has been linked to heart disease while the latter is difficult to absorb
  5. Causes constipation
  6. Robs milk of its most vital qualities
  7. Robs milk of its natural, rich, creamy taste
  8. Robs milk of it’s nutrient dense creamy top
  9. Adopts the flavor of it’s cardboard casing

Homogenization:

Both commercial non-organic and organic milk offer a homogenized variety.  Homogenization denatures the natural fat in milk. There is no nutritional value in this process and in fact it has been linked to heart disease.  You might then ask, “So, why is it done?”  The reason is purely for aesthetics.  Naturally, fat rises to the top of fresh raw milk.  Homogenization forces the milk, by extreme pressure, through tiny holes that breaks up the normally large fat molecules into tiny ones.  In this denatured state the fat molecules stay suspended in the milk. Unfortunately, this unnatural fat is easily absorbed into the blood stream, carrying with it the xanthine oxidase. In un-homogenized milk the xanthine oxidase and large fat molecules are normally passed through the digestive track, unabsorbed.

Raw Milk

Perhaps nothing is more food-fashionable today than the topic of raw milk.  Whether you’re discussing the many benefits of the drink or are outraged by the recent FBI raids and arrests of raw milk farmers, raw milk is the It Girl of the Foodie World right now.

So what’s the deal?  Is it dangerous?  Are the benefits worth the risks?  What’s the fat on raw milk?

Statistically, there is no known data to support raw milk as being more dangerous to drink than pasteurized milk and in fact, some might say statistics point to raw milk as being safer than pasteurized.  The crucial components that assure the safety of your milk are the condition of the animal and that of the farm.  The milk should not only be safe but resistant to disease if the cow is healthy and the conditions sanitary.  What’s more, those who drink raw milk consistently build up a stronger immunity to pathogens.

A study on natural antiseptics in milk cites:   “Human or cow milk added to an equal volume of agar did not support the growth or allowed only slight growth of B. diphtheriae Staph. aureus, B. coli, B. prodigiosus, B. pyocyaneus, B. anthracis, streptococci, and unidentified wild yeast. The factors in human milk inhibiting bacterial growth (‘inhibins’) were inactivated by heating at 56 degrees C. (pasteurization temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees C.) for 30 minutes or by standing 12 to 24 days at 5 degrees C., but not by repeated freezing and thawing. The ‘inhibins’ in cow’s milk were not inactivated by heating at 80 degrees C. for seven minutes but were destroyed by heating at 85 degrees C. for seven minutes. Attempts have not been made to identify the natural antiseptics.”

-Dold, H., Wizaman, E., and Kleiner, C., Z. Hyt. Inf., “Antiseptic in milk,” The Drug and Cosmetic Industry, 43,1:109, July 1938.

For a more in-depth look at this topic, I suggest reading The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmidt.

Supposing you conclude it’s a safe bet to drink raw milk, what are the benefits?

According to raw milk champions, Sally Fallon and Tom Cowan, prior to heating, milk is a living food rich in colloidal minerals and enzymes. “Milk proteins…carry vitamins and minerals through the gut into the blood stream; they enhance the immune system and protect against disease.” Says Fallon.   All of these qualities are destroyed during pasteurization. “Once heated, milk becomes rotten, with precipitated minerals that can’t be absorbed (hence osteoporosis), with sugars that can’t be digested (hence allergies), and with fats that are toxic.  Feeding cows high protein feed made from soybeans and other inappropriate foodstuffs can also adulterate milk; rarely is anyone truly allergic to grass-fed cow’s milk.”

Here are some of the benefits attributed to raw milk:

 

–Stronger immune systems in children who drink raw milk with stronger immunity to asthma and eczema compared to those who are fed ordinary milk

–Phosphatase that allows the body to absorb the calcium from the milk

–Lactase that allows for the digestion of lactose

— Lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens

–Raw butterfat (raw milk left to sour) has a cortisone-like factor that is heat sensitive (destroyed by heat) that prevents stiffness in the joints. These enzymes help the body assimilate all bodybuilding factors, including calcium. (That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer, nevertheless, from osteoporosis.)

–Lipase in raw milk helps the body digest and utilize butterfat

–Contains beneficial bacteria as well as lactic acids that allow these beneficial bacteria to implant in the intestines.

–A study found resistance to tuberculosis increased in children fed raw milk instead of pasteurized

–Used as a therapy in folk medicine (and in the Mayo Clinic) for centuries

–Used in the pre-insulin days to treat diabetes, eczema, intestinal worms, allergies, and arthritis (contains cortisone-like factor for allergies and eczema)

Keifer Milk

Some people chose to keifer their milk, and BodyEcology Keifer grains are a good option for this.  While the benefits of kiefer milk are many, primarily the grains eat up the milk sugars (lactose) and make it easier to digest.  What’s more, the bacteria in the kefir raw milk is very good for rehabbing the gut lining and restoring digestion.  For those who fear they are lactose intolerant, kefir should not be a problem as the lactose is consumed.  This also lessens the sugar content for those who feel non-keifer milk contributes to weight gain.

A1 versus A2

Okay, so you’re pretty sure you want to drink raw milk, not commercial or commercial organic milk.  But wait, there’s more!

Welcome to the A1 versus A2 cow debate.  In brief, Dr. Tom Cowan, the “go-to” authority on raw milk and co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation backs Sally Fallon’s (Nourishing Traditions) statement that, quite frankly, “American’s are breeding the wrong kind of cow for milk consumption.”

Cowan states: “The black and white cows — Holsteins and Friesians — generally give milk that contains a small but significant amount of beta-casein type A1, which behaves like an opiate and which epidemiological studies have implicated in heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia.”  He goes onto explain that there is an amino acid called BCM 7 causing the opiate effect to both cows and humans.  BCM7 is released in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink A1 cow milk, and it is found in the blood and urine of these animals.  In short, people who drink milk from A1 cows can be exposed to BCM7.  Please note, a respondent to Dr. Cowan’s intro, identifying himself as the editor for Woodford’s book added that A1 milk can be procured from any herd though less common in non-Holstein or Friesian herds.  Another respondent suggested that while Jerseys produce more A2 than Holsteins, they might also produce A1 milk.  Ultimately, the milk would need to be tested to determine its variety.  This is a problem not only for raw milk but pasteurized as well. (*Ultra-pasteurization or any heat process increases the release of BCM7 from A1 milk. – Linda DeFever, Know Your Milk)

BCM 7 has been shown in research outlined in Cowan’s intro to Dr. Keith Woodford’s book, The Devil In The Milk, to cause neurological impairment in animals and people exposed to it, especially autistic and schizophrenic changes. BCM 7 interferes with the immune response.  As well, Dr. Cowan states, “BCM 7 selectively binds to the epithelial cells in the mucus membranes (i.e. the nose) and stimulates mucus secretion.”   He goes on to state; “…basically all American dairy cows have this mutated beta-casein and are predominantly A1 cows.” And that, “When you take A1 cow milk away, and stimulate one’s own endorphins instead of the toxic opiate of BCM 7, some amazing health benefits ensue.”

The good news is that the absorption of BCM 7 is much less in people with a healthy GI tract.  Keep in mind, some people obviously tolerate it and feel they benefit from drinking raw milk.  What’s more, BCM 7 is not found in goat’s or sheep’s milk.

A2 cows are found in Africa, Asia and Europe, and what is playfully being attributed to culinary snobbery, you should be safe eating raw cheese and dairy in France.  Long ago, the French complained that A1 milk “tasted lousy” and have remained exclusively loyal to an A2 cow population!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Sing The Body Electric!

I woke up this morning, 4AM to be exact, with the lyrics from an old, a very old, Buffalo Springfield song playing in my head: “There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear…” I don’t take a thing like this lightly.  I mean, I can’t recall when I last heard that song…1980, 1985?  I was what, a kid, at least by some standards anyway:)  Yet this refrain kept repeating like a loop, like a demonstrative mother insisting I sit up, take pause and consider its implications.  So I did just that…

The ah-hah moment came on like butta, creamy grass-fed, local, pastured, unpasteurized, (which interestingly enough is not recognized by my spell-check but then, neither is “butta”) butta, but I’m skipping ahead.  That is to say, it came to me lickity split because really, there is something happening “here” and by “here”, I mean on our good earth.  There is a rumbling, a movement, dare I say, a revolution but that word, for me, always brings with it uncomfortable baggage; I don’t look good in camo, I’m not a coup d’état kinda gal, I can’t even handle crowds at a mall opening on a Saturday night.

The definition for revolution according to wordnetweb:  “A drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving”, (and don’t get me started with what the thesaurus has to say) shares some principles with but not the properties of this “something”.  It’s the word drastic that throws me.  It’s also the long history connected to revolutions trailing the scent of upheaval, messy takeovers, and unhappy civilians.  No, this is not that kind of revolution.  There is not a violent revolt, not in the way of the 60’s and 70’s, for which the aforementioned Springfield song foretells.

Okay, to be fair, there have been guns and arrests and protestors…but I’ll get to that later.  For now, I want to focus on the other side of this, or as the great Canadian poet, Leonard Cohen puts it, there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. I’m seeing the guns and raids (to be discussed later) as the crack.  Let us focus on the light.

Because there is something inherently shiny and clarifying, far more attractive in its proactive stance as opposed to the reactionary incitements associated with most revolutions, far more relevant to how things are done in this info-savvy, techno-centric age.  And really it makes me want to sing in joyous rapture for the gift that is these venues bringing forth this “something” in such an immediate and enticing way.  I’m talking about the engrossing articles in Harpers, the New York Times and the Boston Globe to name a few prestigious rags available electronically, as well, the numerous—read plethora—of blog, Twitter, Utube and Facebook accounts all singing this “something” in unique and entertaining formats.  More and more, people seem to be quietly, and not so quietly, doing their own version of this something, the yummy naked chef, Jamie Oliver, the culinary pioneer, Alice Waters, The first lady, Michelle Obama, a group of crazy kids smack in the heartland, Kansas.  Even my girlfriend is implementing a program in her local schools in Santa Cruz, CA on the topic.  And what I notice, aside from the articulate, vibrant, attractive people of varying walks-of-life, age and citizenship whom offer pithy, empathic and sometimes heart-rending tales of how they got from where they were to where they are all in the name of this “something” is that there seems to be a shared magnetic gleam in their eyes, a knowing that teases; “come and get yours too if you want it”.  No, this movement, this “something” is not so much as a revolution (we’ve done that, been there) but instead, it’s a reclamation…yes, that’s the word.

But what?  What was lost that needs reclaiming and why and by whom?

Funny how sometimes it’s the very thing right under our noses that seems to slip away from us.  And by this, I mean, right under our noses and in our mouths or on the plate before us or on our dinner table or even in our cupboard.  If you haven’t pieced it together yet—and I have faith given the portals that got you here, you have–I’m talkin’ bout our food.

Which conjures another revolution song, this time Tracy Chapmans’ Talkin’ bout A Revolution that is actually more apropos then Springfeild’s in her choice of the word, whisper because really this reclamation may well be only a whisper on the horizon of the larger picture of the business of food.  But that again is the sign of a crack or, as Gil-Scott Heron so aptly sang in his song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, (and I promise this is the last revolution song I will reference but there’s no good reclamation song coming to mind): This revolution (read: reclamation) will be live.

I don’t think it’s exactly what Heron meant by the word live but what I mean by it is live food, actual nutrient dense, life-giving food that fortifies our bodies and replenishes our cells, that staves off infection, dis-ease and deterioration, that wakes us up to the idea that decay is not the natural process of aging but instead a manufactured response to eating dead or fractured foods over the course of a lifetime in quest of sustenance.   This is the stuff of nature, the stuff “nature intended” and it’s what I’ve been called to explore for most of my life and more and more in recent years, especially since becoming a mother.  I’m talking raw, un-man-tampered, organic, whole, enzymatically intact food.  I’m hearing a swell of operatic chorus here, do you?

Okay, I answered, cursory as it were, the “what” of my hypothesis and before I get to the why, I want to spend sometime on the “what”, because the “what” is where the juice is, it’s where the light really shines, it’s where the manna springs forth from, well, because the “what” is the manna.  And while the “why” may play a role in uncovering the ways of getting to the “what” the “what” in and of itself is a delicious celebration.  It’s an abundant and ever-replenishing bounty that’s truly available to all, should we decide to “come and get ours”.   And please, naysayers who challenge this in the name of over- population, food shortage or prohibiting costs trust I will address these common concerns in time.

The “what” excites me.  It brings me alive.  It simultaneously stimulates my mind and salivary glands.  It makes me hungry for more yet gives me the ultimate satisfaction from focusing on that which resonates with my deep-seated core knowing.   I can literally hear my cells rising in song, again singing in that operatic chorus, when I focus, and more importantly eat the “what”.  But this may be because I am high off the freshly excavated organic raw coconut water I just downed!

In all seriousness though, I am not dramatizing.  I find myself discussing the “what” at dinner parties and playgrounds, on lazy Sunday mornings at brunches in the homes of well-intentioned friends who either tolerate my enthusiasm for this topic or roll their eyes and look for an excuse to wash the dishes.  It’s caused heated debates in my marriage and garnered me more than a few nicknames by dear ones who try to embrace their quirky, exuberant friend that just has a thing, an almost obsessive-like thing for the topic of live or real food, or to be more exacting and to borrow a phrase, ‘the right to eat real food’.  And I couldn’t have said it better and would add, the right to know what it is you’re eating and what constitutes “real” as opposed to not so real, relative to food.  So I just can’t leave it as “live food” and go on to the “why”, not yet anyway because for me, the “what” is like the NOW of trendy new-age speak, the “what” is where the big Kahuna be.

Unlike many of the blogs and articles on the topic of “live food” I did not have a big turning point or cataclysmic transformation.  I am not a cancer survivor nor have I lost 200 pounds by which to illustrate the impact eating this way has had on my family and me.  No, rather, mine has been a quiet reclamation, a slowly building and recently accelerated journey into the light of health, vitality, well-being and alignment with the values that best suit me.  In this way, I will speak to the inevitable political aspects and education both of the macro- and micro-politics I’ve become aware of in making the choice to exercise my right to eat real as well as getting real about what I eat and the many gifts this has brought me and my family.

I confess in the past I’ve had bouts of fanaticism about the purity of the food I eat (my husband might say, “crazy fanaticism”).  I’ve felt venom for big agro and have been fear-based regarding certain companies that remain entrenched in the global politics of food.  However, ultimately, I’ve come to understand that this kind of imbalance is as much a contributor to poor health as complete nutritional neglect and that pushing against what is not wanted only fuels the flame to that end.  And so I’ve looked to empowerment to funnel my fervor; I’ve been known to do my share as a food activist, participating in no-gmo campaigns, even calling my favorite food producers to question the source of their ingredients or encourage them to choose organic.  What’s more, I’ve come to value my state-of-mind when eating, as much as I do the contents of my food.  I’ve learned to listen to my body for directive to what I need, always with an eye to the quality of life it offers.  In essence, I’ve lightened up while I lightened up and this might translate to less than a “real food” experience if it means dining with my friends in a pleasing environment.  But listening to my body and aligning with good feelings about what I eat and my body’s abilities to use foods in amazing ways also means I remain open and alert as my cellular channels of communication become clearer.

I am surprised to learn what my body truly desires, (as in really calls forth with an aim to optimal functioning rather than, as in, a donut with extra jimmies).  It is not always what I expect and is always evolving.  My body, our bodies are constantly communicating.  I have found the body is a highly intelligent mechanism and I’ve come to cherish self-advocacy and to take proactive responsibility for my diet, to really understand what I am eating and why.  As well, I respect the integrity of the self and realize what is right for me is not necessarily right for another.   I understand we do not all respond equally to the same foods and so I get it that my friend who has no objection to French fries will get more from it than I will with my many objections to its very concept.   This is in part my unique orientation as well as the lifeline that has helped me understand purity is not the objective rather balance is what I seek.

Yet, though we may not all share the same metabolism, what we do share is an inalienable right to choose for ourselves and I feel strongly that those choices should not be limited by factors outside the common desire for health and wellbeing.  But without the knowledge, without the options, without the resources to information necessary to making an informed decision, the ability to decipher what your body really needs is compromised.

You should know, in this blog, I will not attempt to scare you about choices you have made or choices being made for you nor do I desire to guilt-trip you into making choices other than you are currently making.  Rather I hope to uplift you with the reminder that we live in phenomenal times where people are coming to value food and health in a way I’ve never seen before—rising from having lost something we once did not even consider a win/lose venture to consciously reclaiming it and in this way, widening our awareness of the body/food connection.

I love the empowerment I get from making informed choices at the market, in the restaurant and in the voting booth and I look forward to shedding light on the “truth” behind the labels and the lobbyists who help to create them with an aim to inspire you to reclaim your right to eat real food.

And so, dear reader, I look forward to sharing my journey from there to here with you, my passion for this topic: essential, ‘home and hearth’ bearing, all.

Next week: The Whole Enchilada or How I Found Myself Standing Empty-Handed In The Middle Of A Ralphs.

Teaser:  Good sign, new song is playing in my head this morning: “Food glorious food” written by Lionel Bart.  Remember these lyrics from the musical, Oliver:  Is it worth the waiting for?  If we live ’til eighty four.  All we ever get is gru…el! Ev’ry day we say our prayer –Will they change the bill of fare?Still we get the same old gru…el!

Future blog idea titles:

*Other possible up and coming blog entry titles:

  1. Okay, I admit it, vanity had more than a little to do with it.
  2. My pediatrician isn’t making money off us and it’s partly his fault
  3. No I’m not hyperactive I’m alive!
  4. Is that a banana in your pocket or…
  5. Crunchy versus Couture, the chic of being a real foodie
  6. Alchemical machines, our ability to metabolize chemicals and finding ones’ balance
  7. I’m no doctor I’m just saying…
  8. To not eat the donut isn’t even a conversation anymore
  9. I couldn’t eat another egg
  10. “Mommy, what’s McDonalds?”
  11. Your kids eat what?
  12. I may not live to 190 but I’m gonna die trying
  13. You do realize doctors have a 100% fatality rate in their patients, let’s get over it!
  14. Meet James, my dealer
  15. My pharmacist is DWP
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