Every Wise Woman

Real Food, Real Health, Real Birth

Filtering by Tag: Real Food

Radically Natural Recipe: Winter Spice Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (plus Soaked Steel Cut Oats)

We usually end up with leftover cooked oats on the mornings we eat breakfast porridge.  This recipe (borrowed and tweaked from lifebyjeanie.com) combines leftover cooked oats with gluten free flours and warm wintery spices.  We eat them for breakfast, smeared in butter, but you can eat them as cookies anytime.  They are soft and filling.  Enjoy!

[Fun fact...when made with sunflower butter, your cookies will turn green.  This has happened to me, and I just learned that the odd hue is caused by the sunflowers' chlorophyll reacting with the baking soda.  Check this out.]

Winter Spice Breakfast Cookies

1 cup coconut oil OR 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cut butter OR 1 cup nut butter
3/4 cup raw coconut sugar OR 1/2 cup raw honey
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups gluten free flour mix (check out the video below)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tb cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each ginger, nutmeg, cloves (more to taste as desired)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
2 cups cooked soaked oatmeal (recipe below)
4 Tb raw milk OR yogurt

Combine the wet ingredients (not the oats or milk yet) and mix well.  Incorporate the dry ingredients (minus raisins and nibs), then add the milk and the cooked oatmeal.  Finally add the raisins and the cacao nibs.  Mix until well combined.  Spoon onto greased or lined (silpat, parchment) cookie sheets.  Bake at 375º for 12 to 15 minutes.  The cookies will not spread and they will be golden and soft when finished (though thoroughly cooked inside...should not be gummy).

Here is a helpful video tutorial on making your own gluten free flour mix (thanks for the link, Amy!).

Soaked Steel Cut Oats (with cooking shortcut)

I have seen varying NT-style methods for preparing oats.  Here is my method.  If you don't already know why you should soak your oats and other grains (in an acidic medium) before consumption, please read Nourishing Traditions and/or the many available articles on the topic (I'll post a few links below).

Because oats are nearly devoid of phytase, the enzyme activated by soaking that helps to break down phytic acid, it is important to add a small amount of a grain that does contain phytase during your oat soak.  I use buckwheat because it is a gluten-free grain (as are oats when not contaminated).  The ratio is 1 Tb. buckwheat groats to 1 cup oats.  I usually cook steel cut oats for improved nutrient and taste profile.

My current method of "quicker" steel cut oats for breakfast is as follows.  On any given morning, I begin the soaking process by putting my oats and buckwheat into my pot with a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of kefir or a few generous dashes of ACV.  I then fill the pot with nontoxic water, basically in a 2-1 water to grain ratio.  (The oats will expand.)  I allow the oats to soak all day (minimum 12 hours).  Before bed, I rinse the oats with fresh water (some people do, some people don't...), then return them to the pot and cover the oats with water to about one inch above the oats' level.  I turn on the stovetop to medium and bring the oats to a gentle boil.  At that point, I turn off the heat, cover the pot with its lid, and go to bed.  In the morning, the oats will be cooked, having slowly absorbed the liquid overnight, and will only need to be heated before consumption.  I serve with generous amounts of butter, cinnamon, some raisins and raw milk.  Leftover oats are baked into breakfast cookies.

[Some suggest that oats should be soaked for 24 hours.  This is not bad advice.  The longer the soak, the more nutrients become available.  To soak for 24 hours with my method, just start the soaking on Evening A, and rinse and "cook" on Evening B.]

The "Why" of Soaking Grains

What? No Bread with That Butter?

People who know me well know me as a butter pusher.  Fat (wonderful fat, nourishing fat, necessary fat, delicious fat, good fat) is the most essential human nutrient, and my favorite fat is pastured butter...homemade from raw grass-fed milk preferably, but hey, that's hard to keep up with 365 days a year...I buy butter, too!  Good butter is so beloved in my household that my younger son likes to give pounds of butter away to special people as gifts...you know he really thinks highly of you when he wants to send you home with some butter.

As my husband and I share with people how important good butter is in the diet and how essential it is to eat lots of it daily, we inevitably hear this question:  How do you eat butter when you don't eat bread?  Granted, we are beginning to eat some homemade sourdough breads of late, but it isn't a regular occurrence; and we were grain-free for two years on the GAPS healing regimen.  So the question remains...how do you eat lots of butter when you don't eat lots of grain-based foods?

I thought I'd enlist my kids to help spread the butter love and share how we eat our butter, hopefully inspiring others to eat more butter without thinking it has to be on bread.  The response I got was funny...my oldest son looked at me, head cocked, eyebrows raised and asked, "What do you mean, people don't know how to eat butter?  You just put it on everything."  I love it!  He is properly butter indoctrinated.

Basically, we just put butter on all our food.  Whatever the meal is that I've prepared, we just top it with butter.  Eggs for breakfast?  Butter them...and the pastured bacon that goes with them.  Steak?  Finish it with a pat of butter.  The accompanying roasted root veggies get buttered, too.  Salmon with carmelized onions and asparagus?  Butter, please!  Roast duck with butternut squash and pureed cauliflower?  How could you not drench with butter?!  We even put butter in our soups...it melts, and it's delicious.

We all know it's important to eat healthy vegetables with our main meals, so if you aren't doing a raw salad, try veggie sautes.  It's a regular standby here, and so easy, nutritious and delicious...just saute onions, garlic, carrots, fennel, summer or winter squash, kale or chard, whatever you have on hand!  When you plate the meal, just add butter!  Steamed veggies?  Of course they love butter.  Oh, how scrumptious veggies are with butter!  If you are eating any form of cooked vegetables, you have a butter vehicle just waiting to be adorned.

I make a lot of one-pot meals with meats (lamb, pork, beef) and veggies...I like fewer pots to clean.  So whether it's Shepherd's Pie or No-Noodle Lasagna or just plain old beef and veggie stir fry, top it off with a spoonful of butter!  Many cultures drizzle all their dishes with olive oil.  We do that, too.  And we also dollop with butter...same concept.

Baked winter squash, baked sweet potatoes, baked all-other-kind-of potatoes, absolutely beg for butter.  And pureed cauliflower spiked with lots of butter (aka GAPS mashed potatoes) is a surefire crowd pleaser.

My kids butter their cheese sometimes.  And when I bake cookies (gluten free at this point), we butter those, too.  My husband likes to eat pick-me-up spoonfuls of butter drizzled with raw honey.  The kids love "chocolate treats," basically butter/cacao mousse.

If you eat grains, all the better to add more butter...rice, quinoa, millet, morning oats...whether plain or pilaf, accompanying grains are always better topped with butter.  Tortillas?  Top with butter, cheese, avocado, salsa, what have you.  Crackers?  Butter them.  Organic popcorn?  Come on, that's an easy one!

So, how do we eat our butter?  Well, I think the better question is how do we not?  (We have yet to dip cold raw veggies in plain butter...though celery sticks with butter and raisins are good.)  The key in my mind is that we are creating meals with Real Food from scratch...and good food begs to be accompanied by good butter.  And olive oil, too...I certainly don't mean to discriminate.  My passion for butter doesn't blind me to the other good fats, we use them all...coconut, lard, duck fat...they all have their place in the kitchen, some for prep, some for finishing.  

But around here, butter reigns supreme.  So grab some grass-fed butter and drip, dollop, scoop, smother...you'll wonder how your meals ever made it to your stomach without butter.

Recipe: GAPS Mashed Potatoes...Pureed Cauliflower

(Super easy, super delicious.  After 6 months on the GAPS protocol, you can barely tell the difference in flavor between this and mashed potatoes...well, we couldn't.  And we took this recipe with us after GAPS, along with many others, because it is just so delicious and nutritious!  It's not really a "GAPS" recipe as much as it's just another way to eat great food.) 

Steam a head or two (depending on size) of cauliflower in water.  When fork tender, put the cauliflower and 1/2 cup of the cooking water into your blender.  Add 1/2 cup butter and some real salt to taste.  Blend until smooth.  You can adjust the amount of liquid to suit the consistency to your taste.

For post-GAPS folks, blend the cauliflower with raw grass-fed milk rather than the cooking liquid, and don't forget lots of butter!...this version is even creamier.  Yum!

Radically Natural POV: Avoiding GMOs Isn't Enough

I've noticed a little trend of late, at our local farmer's market and natural food store.  I'm hearing inklings of a new twist on the search for clean food.  "As long as it's non-GMO, you're OK...just avoid the GMOs."  I have been told that customers are less willing to pay for organic...they only care that the choices are non-GMO...a less expensive option.  It seems like in the careful consumer's search for "affordable" food, GMO avoidance has taken the spotlight and the chemical soup that we have been so ardent to avoid for so long has begun to fade from our fears.

Image from Wikipedia...Gives new meaning to "food safety," eh?
The GMO scare has become such a prominent focus in the Real Food realm that I wonder if we have lost sight of the bigger picture.  Of course we should avoid GMOs, of course they are not safe, of course they are not Real Food.  But the dangers of GMOs are only one part of the picture.  We can't let the GMO spectre overshadow the reality of toxic chemicals in our soil and our food supply.  The use of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) and synthetic fertilizers is the cornerstone of industrial farming.  These are the dangerous chemicals that health advocates warned us about so fervently in the past decades (how can we forget Silent Spring?), and we should not lessen our resolve to avoid them now.  Research continues to show that exposure to these chemicals can have serious and lasting health consequences for generations (with an emphasis on negative endocrine effects...ie infertility).

We used to have chickens and ducks.  We currently have goats and pigs.  We know firsthand the costs of organic inputs.  My husband's recent search to find local, less expensive, clean grains to feed the animals we raise for our food has been disheartening.  Most of the growers in our area are using the toxic Agent Orange component, 2,4-D, a carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting herbicide.  One farmer my husband spoke with was quick to claim that his grains were non-GMO, but he admitted he did use 2,4-D...the dangers of which he side-stepped with a bit of spin that sounded like a page out of the county extension agent's handbook.

The move to 2,4-D does not bode well for the future of food.  That herbicide is gaining popularity because it works when Roundup does not.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  We know how toxic Roundup is...but 2,4-D is apparently worse.  (And sold for "home" use as well...let us not forget the toxic lawns that American children play on regularly...2,4-D is one of the most popular lawn herbicides used.)  In fact, Dow and Monsanto have already been seeking governmental approval for their next wave of chemical brews to combat the ever-growing "weed" and pest resistance.  As they all do, this widely used herbicide will contribute to the proliferation of "super weeds," which will herald Big Ag's cry for even stronger poisons.  Where does it end?!

Image from heartlandbeat.com...BigAg food prep.
Perhaps I have an overactive imagination, but I can't help feeling that while the heretofore chemically cautious consumers are being distracted by the evil that is GMOs, the chemical companies are laughing all the way to the bank (as they continue to spread their ever-worsening poisons across America).  Of course, big chem and big biotech go hand in hand, as the increasing use of stronger chemicals is being touted by said industries as necessary for their GM crops.

We need to be wary of losing our original zeal for clean, organic, Real Food.  And because commercial (certified) Organic growers are allowed to use some pesticides (yes, even the synthetic kind), we need to be avid about finding clean food sources or growing our own.  If we become lulled into a false sense of security by focusing solely on GMOs, we will return ourselves to the days of eating poison and paying the piper with our physical demise and our children's compromised health future.  The costs of complacency are too high.  

Yes, truly organic food is more expensive, but what is your health worth?  Your children's health...their brain function, immune function, future fertility?  Why are we fooling ourselves into accepting the industry's chemical brews?  Perhaps we need a reminding nudge about what we are turning a blind eye to...maybe a "light read" of the many legal chemical pesticides available to food producers.  (Lists are published state by state...check out this one for New York).  We need to remind our friends, our families, our neighbors, ourselves that the chemical toxins in the food supply have serious and lasting deleterious health affects.  

Nontoxic food costs more to produce; it costs more to purchase.  But...Pay now or pay later.  Such is the reality of dealing with poisons in our food.

Revival of Highly Toxic Herbicide
Pesticide Action Network: Pesticides on Food
2,4-D Fact Sheet
Farmer Speaks Out Against 2,4-D
Big Ag Doesn't Want You to Care about Pesticides
Pesticide Exposure Linked to Adverse Affects Three Generations Later
Beyond Pesticides (Consumer Safety Organization)

Radically Natural Recipe: How to Butter a Biscuit

I made biscuits the other night for dinner, to accompany beef broccoli soup.  Our middle son, affectionately known as the butter fiend, demonstrated for us the proper way to apply butter to bread.  (Pardon the deficient photo, but I can assure you that all sides and the innards were coated.)  Note the tooth marks.  Dear Weston would be proud, I dare say? 

Soaked Sprouted Biscuits

3 1/2 cups sprouted grain (I used spelt)
2 cups raw kefir
4 T. melted butter/coconut oil/lard (I used coconut oil and butter)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. baking soda

  • Mix flour with kefir, add remaining ingredients and blend into smooth dough.
  • Allow to sit for a few hours if possible.
  • Roll out on floured surface, cut out with biscuit cutter or a glass.
  • Alternately take pieces of dough, roll balls in palm of hand and flatten on baking tray (these are less attractive, but get the job done).
  • Bake on buttered baking sheet or use liner (silpat or parchment paper), 350º for about 40 minutes.

Lather with butter and enjoy!

This was one of our "leaving GAPS" grain trials.  No one reacted badly to the biscuits except for me...but when the kids can tolerate a food, I cry success!  I am testing about three grain foods a week, making sure they are soaked and/or sprouted.  

Is Your Grass-Fed Butter Really Pastured?

As a butter lover (fiend...pusher), I cannot sing the praises loudly enough of pastured butter.   You know what I'm talking about, fellow fanatics...The golden goodness of the nutrient-rich fat that is born of sunshine, green grasses, and healthy cows.  And we also know how rare real pastured butter is...that free-ranging, grass-fed non-franken milk cows are not a dime a dozen.  I, like many of you, have had a bit of a love affair with Kerrygold butter...second only to New Zealand, I believe, Irish pastures are green nearly year-round (don't quote me on that, though).

How might you respond if you discovered that your pastured butter wasn't?  That the grass-fed milk cows producing your butter were were living in a huge barn, eating delivered grass?  That the pastures weren't receiving the benefit of nature's most natural, nutritious, free fertilizer?  Welcome to the "zero grazing" grass-fed method.  

What defines pastured?  Is a "zero grazing" grass-fed dairy operation producing pastured milk?  Will that milk be sufficiently rich in vitamin D (are barn skylights enough)?  Is this a nourishing and sustainable option?

I'm not making any accusations, any statements about any brands of butter.  I have no knowledge of which companies are purchasing whose milk.  But the following video makes me wary of the grass-fed dairy products I might be purchasing.  I don't think the grass is the only important component in Real Milk products.  I suppose this is another reason that being far from our food production means lack of accountability and real consumer-driven quality control.

Observe the feeding method of this Irish dairy.  Sure, it's clean enough ... the cows aren't knee-deep in feces like typical feedlots or commercial dairy operations.  But is this really pastured dairy?  (And note the breed...the highly manipulated Holstein, bred for unnaturally massive milk production rates, and carriers of the troublesome mutated A1 protein.)

Contrast with this video of my friend's property, where they raise a few Guernseys (an "old world" heritage breed that naturally produces A2 milk, more easily digestible and less problematic for humans).  Are the differences between the "zero grazing" grass-fed model and the genuine pastured model significant?  You decide.

Radically Natural POV: Real Food Matters

[On the heels of attending the regional WAPF conference in Portland last month, I had every intention of summarizing my notes and writing about the highlights.  However, life got in the way, as usual.  So until I can concoct radically new material, I wanted to revitalize some older material, injecting my conference enthusiasm into the message.  This week I've been cogitating on how and why Real Food matters so much, for every aspect of our health...mental and physical.  I hope you consider how these truths can be practiced in your lives, or how you might share the gift of nourishing knowledge with others.]

You are what you eat. Trite? Perhaps. True? Absolutely!

What you put into your bodies determines whether you are well or ill. If you want to know why you and your children are sick, examine what you're ingesting (or breathing, or injecting). To build and preserve real health (and create healthy children), you must eat Real Food...pure, natural, unadulterated, honest-to-goodness FOOD.

What our industrialized food system has created is neither good, nor pure, nor even real food. Food cannot be industrially mass-produced without being corrupted. Modern farming practices, such as monoculture planting, hybridization, genetic engineering, animal concentration camps, unnatural animal dietary practices, synthetic fertilizers and chemical herbicides/fungicides/pesticides, etc. have raped the ground; depleted soil and plant nutrients; produced poison milk, eggs, and meat that cannot nourish; and severely damaged our food supply and our collective health.

Our grocery stores are ripe with industrially produced edible foodstuffs...frankenfoods and dead foods created by profitable and powerful corporations. Food comes out of mineral-rich, poison-free ground and the sea, not from a laboratory. Just because you can chew, swallow, and even enjoy a certain "food" item does not make that item Food. And it certainly does not make it rich with the nutrients your body desperately needs to create and maintain health. Fake foods cause malnutrition and chronic illness.

You must become an informed consumer. You must learn how to cook. Read labels and learn what they mean. Better yet, buy only real food ingredients and make your meals from scratch...like great-grandma did. Understand that Real Food costs real money...and it should. Government subsidies of non-nourishing industrial food has created a false expectation of cheap food and has robbed clean food farmers of fair wages.

Become a student of food politics. Learn why corn and soy are destructive to our land, water, and our health. Accept the horrifying truths about genetically modified foods and the agendas behind them, such as sterilizing corn. Understand why wheat and high gluten grains are not recognized by the body as food (hint: it's not because our bodies were designed wrongly, it's because the grains have been so manipulated that they are no longer digestible...they are certainly not the ancient grains humans were made to consume). Understand gut dysbiosis and how to overcome it, so you can partake of Real Food and be relieved of autoimmune disorders, brain chemistry disorders and chronic illness.

Awaken to the reality that we have been sold a "bill of goods" by the food and medical industries...that the lipid hypothesis is a debunked lie shackling millions of Americans to a low-fat, cholesterol-lowering drug lifestyle that is depriving their brains and hormones of essential nutrients and causing rampant autoimmune disorders. Cholesterol is absolutely essential to good health! Fat is your friend! Learn why a Real Food fertility diet is so essential to your future children's proper development and good health. Study the optimal nourishing diet for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and why mom's nutritional stores must be constantly supported...for her future health and that of future children. Understand the significance of "second child syndrome" and how to avoid it.  Investigate our rising infertility rates.

Study and understand the difference between truly organic Real Food and everything else (like the commercial sellout companies comprising Big Organics...when organic companies married themselves to the USDA, they began the downward slide of compromise). Eschew packaged and processed foods. Eat simply...fall in love with cooking...become familiar with traditional food preparation techniques that magnify nutrient density and improve digestibility. Embrace fat as the essential human nutrient. Buy properly cultivated fruits, vegetables, grains and animal products and learn how to prepare them for optimal nutrition and enjoyment. Eventually, you, too, as you peruse the store aisles, will routinely hear yourself saying, "That's not Real Food!" Hopefully you will learn to avoid those store aisles altogether.

In addition to providing life-giving and health-building nourishment, Real Food tastes so good! You may soon become a food snob of the highest order and be constantly gratified with the gourmet meals you can prepare and savor at home! You may become a connoisseur of ethnic foods and a student of flavor blending. Real Food is more than nourishing fuel...it is gustatory delight.

The Nourishing Traditions lifestyle is the diet we should adopt to be well, to thrive, to ensure proper physical development, and to reverse the malfunctions we suffer from eating the Standard American Diet. The best thing you can do today to begin reversing your health maladies and protecting your future health (and your children) is to never again consume fake fats (trans fats, vegetable oils), and to avoid soy (except for small amounts of traditionally fermented soy) and GMO corn (which is in almost everything if you eat processed foods).

Due in large part to the popularity of Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and numerous Real Food bloggers, many people are becoming familiar with the important work of Weston Price. His vastly enlightening tome, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is a must-read for anyone desiring to understand why and how food creates and affects our health. The results of his research (compiled in the 1920s-1930s) are incredible! In a nutshell, Price travelled and studied native peoples’ diets worldwide. He compared their health, development and vitality on their traditional diets to that of their newly adopted “imported” diets (this was during the advent of U.S-produced processed/industrialized food).

Through years of interviews, research and examinations, Price discovered that when people consume industrialized, processed/refined foods, their health degenerates and their children’s physical development degrades. The generations reared on the traditional nourishing foods (including grass-fed animal meats and fats, including the offal, as well as whole seafoods for coastal peoples) possessed good bone structure, healthy teeth and vigorous immunity.  But the new generations being raised on imported processed foods had improperly developed facial bones, resulting in poor sinus and tooth palate development. The children had sinus malfunctions (stuffy nose syndrome, sinus infections, etc.) and their mouths couldn’t hold all their teeth, nor did the teeth develop properly. (Price was seeing the common modern dental problems we think are “normal” today). Also, the people on the “new” diet suffered from lowered immunity...another new development in their history. The children contracted illnesses they had never known before, such as tuberculosis. This is just the "tip" of the proverbial iceberg. Price's work is invaluable.

To learn more about the WAPF lifestyle, start with the following links:

A Message from Sally Fallon Morell
What's Wrong with Politically Correct Nutrition
Principles of Healthy Diets
Myths and Truths About Nutrition
Characteristics of Traditional Diets
The Weston Price Foundation Home Page

What we eat absolutely makes or breaks our health and our children’s proper development. And the quality of the plant foods, meat, eggs, and milk products that we consume is only as good as the diet given to the animal or the health of the ground. We can’t be properly nourished by animals who aren’t properly nourished or reared. Animals need to eat their natural diets and they need to live in natural environments. You won't get vitamin D from animal foods if the animals are confined inside all their lives. You won't get any vitamins or minerals or nutrients of significance if the animals don't consume them and the ground doesn't supply them. Dead soil and malnourished animals equals dead food. Supporting sustainable eco-agriculture and SOLE food (as much as possible) may seem like a tall order, but it is the only sane option in a world that offers synthetic "foods" that provide only malnourishment and disease.

To learn more about Real Food (what it is, why it is so essential, and how to prepare it), look at the reading recommendations on my Links and Library pages.  (This post is linked at Kelly's Real Food Wednesday carnival and FoodRenegade's Fight Back Friday.)

Radically Natural Recipe: Indulgent, Nourishing, Healing (GAPS-friendly) Cacao Bites (aka Chocolates!)

I have the best husband in the world.  I'm sure many of you ladies would say the same (that you have the best husband in the world, not that mine is, LOL), but I need to sing the praises of my man.  I happen to be 13 weeks pregnant.  I suffered a miscarriage in September, but to my shock found myself pregnant again soon after.  I have a history of infertility (my stint with veganism didn't help), miscarriages and rather uncomfortable pregnancies.  So while we are ecstatic about this newest child, we are being cautiously optimistic at this point.  My pregnancy this time is typical of my other successful pregnancies, though, meaning I'm sick, sick, sick (9 month stomach flu, anyone?)...but on the bright side, I'm keeping most of my food down, which is an improvement over past pregnancies (thanks to GAPS).  

Anyway, lllooOOOonnnngGGgg intro here, sorry...the point is that dear hubby asked last week what he could do to help lift my spirits amongst all my tummy misery.  I jokingly told him that if he could find me some raw cacao truffles made only with pure Real Food ingredients of cacao, honey, herbs, spices and salt, he'd be my hero.  Well, he already was, but the man never fails to amaze me.  My sweetie surprised me this week with a box of nothing less than the finest, most delicious, healthy, Real Food raw cacao truffles!

If you are in the mood to splurge, please check out Zorba's raw chocolates and order some nourishing cacao goodness for yourself!  Oregon chocolatier Todd Bjornson is as passionate about the health benefits of raw cacao as he is about crafting delicious, beautiful and nutritious Real Food chocolates.  The coconut and rose truffles are amazing.  I'm sure they are all fabulous, but those are the ones I nibbled and instantly fell in love with!

But if you're like me, and you want to be able to make your own Real Food chocolates, any time of the day or night, I've got a recipe for you.  OK, these are not soft-centered flavor-nuanced truffles, but they are pretty good little chocolate bites (if I do say so myself).  Similar recipes abound on the web, and the following is my version.

Who doesn't like chocolate, right? (OK, I'm sure you're out there, but don't rain on my parade, LOL.)  This simple recipe guarantees guilt-free, healthy, even medicinal chocolate that will delight the palette of any family member.  (If you are in the advanced stages of healing on the full GAPS diet, this recipe should work for you; test a small amount on yourself and see how you respond.)

Full of good fats, nutrient-rich raw cacao, potassium-rich raw honey, gut-friendly cinnamon and the optional healing/nutrient herb or berry powders, these homemade dark chocolates are indulgent and comforting, as well as rich...a little bit goes a long way!  Hubby and I have an affinity for "Mexican chocolate," hence the cinnamon and cayenne.  But, as always, I encourage you to experiment with this recipe and its ratios...make it your own!  

Raw Cacao Bites

[I use a digital scale to measure ounce ingredients]

5 oz. organic cacao butter 

3 oz. raw cacao powder 
2 tsp. organic cinnamon powder
1 tsp. organic vanilla extract (make your own)
2 Tb. + raw honey (add more to taste...I like fairly dark chocolate)

Flavor and nutrient options (add to above):

Coarse mineral rich salt (such as Alaea or pink Himalayan)
pinch (I'm not kidding) of high heat unit organic cayenne powder
1-2 Tb. butter (this adds a creamy carmel taste/texture...melt with cacao butter)

*The addition of an herbal powder will add botanical medicine and increased nutrients to your chocolates.  You can add more than the amount I suggested, but beware that the addition of too much powder will make your chocolates grainy.  Also, some herbal powders are quite bitter, so you may need to add more honey to taste.  I like to use camu camu for its vitamin C content, or bilberry for its vascular healing properties.  The choices are endless.  Check Mountain Rose Herbs or Live Superfoods for herbal powder ideas.  (Live Superfoods also carries raw cacao powder and cacao butter.)


Gently melt cacao butter over very low heat in double boiler.  Add powders, vanilla and honey, and whisk smooth.  When everything is well incorporated and liquefied, pour into silicone molds (at the bottom of which you have sprinkled a bit of the coarse salt), allow to cool at room temperature or place in refrigerator.  Do not place in freezer, as you will cause undesirable bloom to develop on your chocolates.  

When heating your ingredients, stay under 118º to keep it raw and maintain optimum nutrients (you can check with an instant thermometer).  Why raw cacao?  Well check out its nutrient profile: Raw cacao is high in magnesium, anti-oxidants(!!!), and wonderfully healing hormone enhancers.

Rather than cacao butter, you can use coconut oil, but I've tried both and prefer the cacao butter for taste and texture.  I find that my coconut oil is rich in coconut flavor, sometimes overwhelming the chocolate essence, and coconut oil does melt in your hands faster than cacao butter.  Coconut oil also has a slightly greasier, and less pleasant "toothsome" texture than does cacao butter.  But you can try either fat, or mix them...your preference.  I also don't use carob powder because it is a starchy legume (GAPS illegal), lacks the true flavor of chocolate, and is deficient in those powerful raw cacao anti-oxidants.

Yes, cacao contains theobromine, an alkaloid that has stimulating properties similar to but milder than caffeine.  But theobromine has beneficial effects, such as enhancing circulation, and does not contain the adrenal-draining and addictive properties of caffeine.  In my opinion, moderate amounts of raw cacao are nourishing and medicinally beneficial.  I don't let my kids overdo it, just as I limit their intake of raw honey.  These Real Foods are nutrient-rich, but can be stimulating and should be monitored as a minimal part of the diet.  But we all need a treat, and if we're going to treat ourselves we should do it with delicious, nutritious, body beneficial Real Foods!

[Linked at Kelly's Real Food Wednesday carnival...check out the other great posts!]

Winners of Deep Nutrition Giveaway and a Disclaimer

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Radical Reading Room Deep Nutrition giveaway.  The winners, Katy and Sarah, will receive their books soon.

Someone this week rightly pointed out to me that Sally Fallon, in the Fall 2012 issue of Wise Traditions, the WAPF journal, gave a reluctant thumbs down to Shanahan's book with a lengthy critique.  I've read Fallon's critique and I do agree with some of her concerns, but not all.  When I read Deep Nutrition, I certainly didn't agree with every point or assertion Shanahan made, but I don't agree with everything Fallon says, either.  Few of us will agree with 100% of what we read, no matter the source.  That's why we need to read many books on a topic to build a body of knowledge, rather than relying on one or two sources.  Overall, I think both WAPF and Shanahan (and other traditional nutrition authors) have wonderful information to share with the public about how to nourish ourselves and be well.

I do just want to address one flaw in Shanahan's book that Fallon points out...Shanahan recommends that if you cannot get raw grass-fed milk, it's OK to drink pasteurized commercial milk.  This is absolutely bad advice.  But then, even Fallon says in Nourishing Traditions that if you can't get raw grass-fed milk that it's OK to buy pasteurized milk for culturing or whole milk yogurt.  I can't agree with that wholeheartedly. (More on that below.)  If you do not have access to raw grass-fed milk, you should not drink any milk at all.  Commercial dairy is dangerous for health and development.  More than any other food, cow's milk is highly sensitizing and leads to autoimmune and hormonal disorders.  Industrial pasteurized milk is deleterious; aside from the major problems with its calcium and protein content, commercial milk sources will be coming from drugged, grain-fed cows and is full of synthetic vitamins (like liver toxin D2) and deodorizers; the milk fat is destroyed and rendered indigestible by homogenization.  Commercial dairy cows are not fed a healthy, natural diet, nor always treated humanely.  We should not in any way support the industry.  Commercial dairy, even Organic, is bad news and should be avoided. (Remember, most Organic milk comes from grain-fed confinement operations and is ultra-pasteurized, making it ultra-dead and ultra-indigestible.)

I also agree with Fallon that Shanahan shouldn't be including soy as part of a healthy diet, and that some of her nutrient information seems contradictory or incomplete.  I think Fallon's criticism of the images used in Shanahan's book is a bit too picky.  The pictures help to illustrate the points that are being made and I feel they do it well.  Not every photo was of a celebrity, and Shanahan is a young woman appealing to a crowd familiar with pop culture, so the choices didn't seem too odd.  Also, to the criticism that Shanahan should have used Price's photos to illustrate her points and mentioned Price and his work more, I want to offer a conjecture.  As a fellow writer, and I'm really just guessing here, I can imagine that Shanahan wanted to put a unique spin on the material...to make Deep Nutrition her own fresh work.  It seems to me that she does build upon Price's foundation and others who have helped to pioneer the truth about traditional nutrition, but she doesn't speak extensively about them, nor copy them.

I do not necessarily agree with Fallon's criticism of Shanahan's genetics assertions and her message that we can re-establish good health through traditional foods.  I have experienced and witnessed many instances of correcting chronic illness and autoimmune disorders through significant lifestyle and dietary changes.  I have personally experienced a mild version "second sibling syndrome" with my second child, but through a dedicated nourishing diet and toxin-free lifestyle, the trend was reversed with our third.  

I will never claim to know how much of our genetics we can change, how many alterations we can make in our children's anatomy and physiology, and how quickly it can be done.  But I am certain that none of us understands completely the potential of powerful traditional foods and herbs on our health and our future children's health.  The human body is a wonderfully designed organism that has incredible rejuvenating powers when treated correctly.  No scientist on earth understands all there is to know about our bodies.  The more we think we understand all the "science," the more we realize we have much to learn.  

No author, no scientist, no healer is perfect.  We are always learning and growing.  Perhaps Shanahan will rework her message and her advice in future writings.  But in the end, she is a staunch supporter of the traditional foods movement, as is Fallon, and I think we can all benefit from reading and studying and sifting all these materials.  Ultimately, we're on the same team and we need to work together.

Enough said, time to close.  I will be taking some time away from the blog as I work through some personal needs.  I may write sporadically or not at all for a little while.  I hope you all enjoy a healthy and happy winter.  It would be so nice to hibernate and awake to a world where truth was valued over PR and profit, where Monsanto was outlawed and people would stop believing the rubbish that GMOs are safe and needed to "feed the world," where vaccine pushers were jailed instead of raw milk sellers, and where armed thugs (aka government agents) no longer threaten good citizens with force (like Real Food farmers) yet tell the public we don't need the right to defend ourselves against aggression.  [If you haven't done so yet, please watch Farmageddon...it's a troubling eye opener.]

Well, a girl can dream.

Brief discussion on pasteurized yogurt and butter.  I know that my position on milk seems hardcore, and I understand that people feel they need to compromise at times.  Because I have repeatedly seen and studied the serious health detriments caused by commercial milk, I cannot emphasize enough that the milk you choose to drink and feed your children is the most important food decision you will make.  When it comes to drinking milk, only raw grass-fed should be chosen, as discussed above (with links).  

Butter and yogurt are a slightly different discussion, and deserve their own post, but not today, LOL.  

Eating pasteurized butter is not quite as dangerous as drinking pasteurized milk, but source matters.  Butter is almost entirely fat, which negates the problem of industrial milk proteins.  But beware commercial butter made from homogenized milk (call companies and ask about the process), which greatly reduces the nutrients in the fat and its digestibility.  If you cannot buy raw grass-fed butter (California residents can mail order from Organic Pastures), just be sure to purchase pastured butter (such as Kerrygold or Organic Valley pastured).  Kerrygold butter claims that it is not homogenized and is minimally pasteurized.  Organic Valley also sells non-homogenized products.  If you are eating typical grocery store butter that is pale to nearly white, you are not consuming nutrients and are probably not consuming good fats.  

Yogurt is another potential can of worms.  Again, source and process matters.  Storebought yogurts are notorious for being bereft of live active probiotic cultures.  Most brands pasteurize after "culturing" (and even that process is questionable as to its efficacy), killing any beneficial bacteria.  We cannot rely on commercial yogurts to contain viable probiotics.  Any "benefit" you hope to achieve from cultured flora that may lessen the deleterious effects of the adulterated milk is nil.  Your best bet is to culture your own yogurt, particularly using a non-heat method.  You can purchase cultures from Cultures for Health; I recommend the Villi culture for raw yogurt.  Again, using industrial milk to make your yogurt will subject you to all the same problems that exist with that milk, so be aware of the potential downsides.  If you choose to purchase yogurt, avoid the low fat variety, and try to contact the company to get information on their probiotic culture source and their yogurt culturing process; only live active cultures will do you any good.  Even if your purchased yogurt carries that claim, call the company and do some homework.  Also, never eat yogurt (or any food) that contains added flavorings and colors...that's not food at all.

Radically Natural Reading Room: Deep Nutrition Giveaway

My readers likely understand by now that I am not fond of the conventional allopathic medical system. My years of study and experience in these realms have convinced me that the modern medical system may have useful diagnostic tools, but their hopelessly limited and sometimes fraudulent paradigm (fed by conventional medical school training) do not provide MDs with the necessary tools for understanding causality and providing cure. 

But every so often I encounter an “outside the box” enlightened unconventional doctor whose work I appreciate and recommend to others. Cate Shanahan is one such doctor. It is obvious that she refused to remain inside the limited paradigm her medical education provided. In her entertaining and easily accessible book, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Shanahan explains, in layman’s terms, the science behind a truth I have been longing for our culture to accept: You can change your DNA. You are not the fatalistic victim of “set in stone” genetics as much as you are of the choices you make about what goes into your body. Shanahan shows how you “create and preserve genetic wealth.”

I believe Deep Nutrition is a basic primer on health, wellness, disease prevention and essential nutrition. Every American family should have a dogeared copy on the shelf. Because I am so encouraged by the wisdom and honest science that Shanahan has shared, I am giving away two copies (to two different readers) of Deep Nutrition in this month’s Reading Room installment. By way of introduction to Shanahan’s perspective on the medical industry and human wellness, I share an excerpt from her epilogue:

When I interviewed with the chief of family medicine at a large medical corporation on the West Coast he explained that, since he was part of a team of people who arranged for pharmaceutical companies to issue cash grants, he was in a position to offer me a particularly enticing salary.

“What are the grants for?” I asked.

“We have a quality improvement program that tracks physician prescribing patterns. We call it ‘quality’ but it’s really about money.”

And that’s all it’s about. It works like this. In his organization, any patient with LDL cholesterol over 100 is put on a cholesterol lowering medication. Any person with a blood pressure higher than 140/90 is put on a blood pressure medication. [my note: It’s important to understand that these “diagnostic” numbers have been lowered over the years so more prescriptions could be pushed. Read Selling Sickness.] Any person with “low bone density” is put on a bone-remodeling inhibitor. And so on. The doctors who prescribe the most get big bonuses. Those who prescribe the least get fired. With a hint of incredulousness in his voice he explained, “So far, every time we’ve asked for funding for our program, the drug companies give it to us.” If this is where healthcare is headed, then these hybrid physician/executives will instinctively turn their gaze to our children and invent more creative methods to bulldoze an entire generation into the bottomless pit of chronic disease.

Merck CEO Henry Gadsen’s 30-year-old dream was to make healthy people buy drugs they didn’t really need. But he was dreaming small. What I see happening now is more sinister, more profitable, and promises to have longer-lasting repercussions than merely creating diagnoses that lead to unnecessary prescriptions. What I see is a massive campaign of nutrition-related disinformation that has reordered our relationship with food and reprogrammed our physiologies. Industry has moved past selling sickness and learned how to create it. Whether by intent or simply fortuitous coincidence, today’s definition of a healthy diet enables corporations to sell us cheap, easily stored foods that will put more money in their pockets and more people in the hospital. By denying our bodies the foods of our ancestors and severing ourselves from our culinary traditions, we are changing our genes for the worse. Just as corporations have rewritten the genetic codes of fruits and vegetables to better suit their needs, they are now in effect doing the same things to us.

But there’s one thing they’ve overlooked. Fruits and vegetables can’t fight back. We can.

Exactly! Thank you Cate, for so succinctly and convincingly sharing your testimony of the truth about the fraudulent medical and food industries. I really enjoy reading a holistic-thinking MD with integrity! I hope Shanahan’s message will get through to the fence sitters who are still content to trust the conventional system.

Deep Nutrition covers a lot of excellent territory without overwhelming the reader. Shanahan explains the science of how your genes change (epigenetics) and she exposes the truth behind why we’ve ended up with distasteful genetic soup, and what we can do to alter it. Building on the pillar of traditional nourishing foods, Shanahan shows why good fat is your body’s best friend, why sugar is its enemy, and why calorie restriction is not the key to losing weight. She discusses nutrition and physical degeneration, skin and bone formation, and why our children are being robbed of healthy anatomical and physiological development. All moms should understand and embrace these truths, and will be fascinated and admonished by the facts of second sibling syndrome and more. Shanahan echoes the work of Price in his native physical degeneration studies, but her book is far more digestible for most readers. If you have desired to read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (a must-read) but have not been able to do so, start with Shanahan’s Deep Nutrition.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a copy of Deep Nutrition. Tell your friends. If I’ve set up the widget correctly, LOL, you’ll just need to answer a simple question. I will have Rafflecopter randomly select two winners at the end of the week. 

This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday Carnival.  Check it out!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If You Still Need a Visual to Understand the Factory Farm System...

I love this creative portrayal of life in a factory farm.  The video was produced for Animals Australia, a project hoping to end the factory farm system.  Maybe it's a bit "over-emotional," maybe it feeds into the vegan agenda (I absolutely agree animal cruelty is outrageous.  I believe farmers should practice honorable animal husbandry, treating animals with respect and giving them nourishing, happy lives.  But I'm convinced we need to eat animals to be fully healthy...sorry vegans, we part ways there).  

But the message is compelling and the truth is undeniable:  factory farms are NOT the place from where your food should come.  Choose SOLE food instead!  (Sustainable, organic, local, ETHICAL.)  Bravo to FSM and Animals Australia!

And if you need more convincing, consider the ugly example that most industrial pork is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.  Don't eat it if you care about your health.  Don't eat any industrial foods... animal or otherwise...if you care about your health.  Remember, Americans have access to and eat more "edible foodstuffs" than people anywhere else in the world, yet we suffer from more malnourishment, obesity and chronic illness than any other culture.  You are what you eat.  Garbage in, garbage out.  You don't have to suffer, and neither do the animals you eat.  Support small farms that produce Real Food...sustainably, healthily, humanely.

Animals Australia - Pigs fly. And sing. With chickens. from FSM on Vimeo.

Check Out Your "Organic" Milk Production...

The pictures say it all.  For anyone still convinced that Organic commercial milk is the way to go, take a look at the photo story of one of Horizon Farm's milk facilities.

The Cornucopia Institute Visits Horizon Family Farms in Idaho

The milk is coming from primarily confined, grain-fed cows living in less-than-pristine conditions.  It's no wonder the dairy industry and the CDC is so adamant that milk be uber-pasteurized and denatured...covering up the dirty dairy industry takes a lot of manipulations.  But the Organic dairy industry is far superior, right?  I'm not convinced...and I hope you aren't either.

Check out these dairy CAFO photos and then google some more.  As others have pointed out before me, USDA Organic dairy usually comes from "big dairy" factory farms.  

As shared in a blog post from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company:

In her wonderful book, "Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages," Anne Mendelson makes four points about organic milk: 
  1. The vast majority of organic milk comes from 3 or 4 large producers owned by vast agribusiness conglomerates.  Each one has several thousand cows.  The milk travels thousands of miles from these places to your supermarket.
  2. Most of these farms depend on the same breeding and feeding methods as their conventional counterparts- the cows are fed high energy rations to increase production, they are milked 3 times/day, and they are given as little grazing time as they can get away with.  
(Until now, the regulations referred vaguely to  "access to pasture" without spelling out how much or how little.  Recently, this regulation was clarified to require that the cows spend a minimum of 120 days outside during the growing season.  There is some question about if and how it will be enforced.)

  1. The milk is separated and homogenized the same way it is done in the other large companies-traveling through miles of pipes to have its fat molecules broken up into tiny pieces.
  2. Worst of all, most organic milk is ultra-pasteurized so it can be transported long distances without spoiling.  By the time it arrives at the store, it may be a week old.  (Of course, this hardly matters because there is virtually no good bacteria left in it to cause it to spoil.)
[Don't forget that ultra-pastuerized means ultra-dead (no enzymes), ultra-deficient (in nutrients) and ultra-indigestible.] 
The above post was written two years ago.  Do you think the dairy industry, including USDA Organic dairy has gotten cleaner since then?  Do the cows below look like grass-fed, clean, well-cared-for cows from which you will receive nutrient-rich Real Milk?

The government tells us that raw milk isn't safe.  Well, in part, that's true.  Raw milk from the conventional dairy industry is NOT safe.  They know it, regulators know it, and we should know it, too.  No one should drink raw milk coming from unnaturally raised, grain-fed cows confined in their own feces.  But the kind of family farm raw milk we Real Foodies recommend is not dairy industry milk.  When the CDC, FDA, USDA, et al. tell the public that raw milk is dangerous and should be illegal, they are lumping together all the known dirty milk from the dairy industry with the good, Real Food grass-fed raw milk from small, responsible producers.  And that, my friends, is cheating.  Isn't it interesting that the only farm crop more legislated than raw milk is marijuana?  Milk...marijuana...milk...marijuana.  Really?!  

The only safe, nourishing, Real Milk available is raw, grass-fed whole milk (yes, drink it with the cream) from small family farms.  If you can't get it, you really shouldn't be drinking milk.  The alternative is not going to do your body good.

Photo Courtesy of CARE, Washington State.
Photo by High Country News

Photo Courtesy of CARE, Washington State.

Skim Milk Is Not a Nourishing Food

The fraudulent "lipid hypothesis" that has given our culture (good) fat phobia since the 1950s...and done wonders for the food and drug industry...has perpetuated the myth that butter is bad and that skim milk is healthy.  Au contraire!  Skim milk is not a nourishing food.  If you aren't drinking whole (raw grass-fed) milk, you aren't doing your body good.

The essential nutrients in milk is in its fat.  Cream from grass-fed cows is rich in vitamins A, D3, and K2 (industrial pasteurized milk is "fortified" with synthetic vitamin D2, known to be toxic to the liver).  Real milk's vitamins (A, D, E, K) and its CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are fat-soluble, and are transmitted via the cream (they exist in the fat of the milk)...and they cannot be absorbed, nor utilized, without the fat.   Low-fat (commercial) milk is always supplemented with vitamins, because they are naturally missing after the milk's processing.

Saturated fat is an essential human nutrient.  It builds and strengthens multiple bodily systems, hormones and organs, including the brain and the heart.  Inefficient saturated fat intake is a major factor in the modern epidemic scourge of chronic disease and endocrine disruption in our culture.

I've had people tell me that they can't (won't) drink whole milk...they don't like "creamy" milk.  This is the ubiquitous adverse palette programming of two generations being raised on skim or reduced fat milk, the unfortunate result of the food industry's "fat is bad" mantra.  If you will not retrain your palette to consume whole milk, at least do not relegate your children to the same nutrient-deficient fate.

[In fact, one of the reasons I prefer goat's milk is its natural homogenization.  Not well suited for butter making, but excellent for drinking, goat milk is smooth, creamy, satisfying and sweet.  Yes, sweet...we've had people say our goat milk doesn't taste at all like "goat" milk.  I'm sure this factor varies depending on breed and feed, but we have found that keeping bucks away from the property helps immensely.  I've also heard you should not let your goat milk sit for more than 4 days in the fridge without consumption, as the fats will develop that "goaty" aroma.  We have not experienced that, though...we consume our milk rather quickly and make yogurt.]

So, if you want your kids to benefit from healthy brain development, strong bones, vital cardio systems, fully functioning hormones, thriving guts, well-developed collagen and cushioned joints, feed them good fats...lots of them!  Certainly, you want them to receive and absorb body-building essential vitamins and minerals.  So, Don't Skim the Milk!  (Unless you're making butter, in which case, you could pour the skim milk onto the earth in your garden for microbial benefit of the soil.)

Why Skim Milk Isn't as Healthy as You May Think

Rethinking Skim Milk

Secrets of Skim Milk

Fat Is Your Friend!

I have had so many titles for this long-in-the-works article swimming about in my brain...
  • Lean Meat: The Scourge of the American Diet
  • Embrace Fat: Cholesterol Is Not the Enemy
  • Real Fat: The Essential Human Nutrient
  • When Bad "Science" Won't Die: The Lipid Lie
  • Fabulous Fat: The Beautiful Truth about a Fabulous Nutrient, Starring Cholesterol, Your Hormones' Best Friend!
(That last one seemed just a tad long, LOL!)

I desire to say so many things about fat. I want to share highlights from every book I have on the topic, but I know I cannot, lest this article be 20 feet long.  So let's see where this takes us.  I dedicate this article to the numerous people who have been on the receiving end of my gushing, "I love fat...everything you have been told is a lie" raves.  And it's true...everything we have been told about fat since the 1950s IS a lie.  Many honorable nutritionists and scientists have worked to reverse our fear of fat indoctrination.  I am grateful for their tireless efforts.

 I know many people have neither the time nor the resources to read all the books I recommend, so I will borrow from a couple of my current favorites to expound upon this necessary topic (my comments, peppered throughout the quotes, will appear in purple).

Fat is your friend.  Once again, with a little spin...Real Fat (from clean food sources) is your Best Friend...your body's most essential nutrient. Every system of your body needs good fat, and lots of it...from your hormones to your brain, your skin and joints to your heart. Fat never has been and never will be bad for you. An absence of this essential nutrient, however, will cripple and kill.  The message that fat is dangerous and should be avoided is based neither on science, nor history.  In fact, saturated fat is vital to your body's development and functioning...to your overall vitality and quality of life.

At this time of year, especially, I become frustrated by the holiday recipes vilifying fat: the "how to make low-fat versions of your holiday favorites" messages make me cringe.  Low-fat cookbooks and nutritional advice make me want to pull out my hair.  It's all so senseless and never was based on good science.  Like a dog with a bone, the government and modern health "experts" just won't let go of the public-duping, dishonest "fat is bad" message.

Let’s begin by first taking a look at how fat got such a bad rap. Then we’ll examine fat as the most essential, beneficial human nutrient.

Some fat myths:
  • Eating (real) fat makes you fat.
  • A low-fat diet protects your heart and helps you lose weight.
  • Fat (and its partner, cholesterol) clogs your arteries and causes heart disease.
  • Saturated fat is bad for you.
  • "Vegetable" fats are real fats, and they are good for you.

Debunking the Lipid Hypothesis

“The diet-heart hypothesis is the greatest scientific deception of this century, perhaps of any century.”  -- George Mann, American physician and scientist 

Medical and food politics are the enemies of Real Medicine and legitimate health care.  
Numerous authors, scientists, nutritionists and honest doctors have for years raised their voices in protest of the flawed “diet-heart hypothesis” (also called the lipid hypothesis) first proposed in 1953 by Ancel Keys.  Simply put, the lipid hypothesis is junk science, and it has been debunked.  We must put the final nail in the coffin of this erroneous but profitable lipid legend.

In her book, Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, neurologist and creator of the GAPS healing protocol Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride writes:

“Everybody has heard about cholesterol and dietary fats “clogging up your arteries” and “causing heart disease.” Even children have been told that cholesterol and fats are “bad.” For decades we have been “educated” in that direction by the popular media, advertisements and labels on our food. Doctors are also convinced: the prescription of cholesterol-lowering medication has steadily grown by more than 20% every year in the UK. The pharmaceutical powers are now working very hard on an ultimate goal: to put everybody, including our children, on “preventative” cholesterol-lowering medication."

McBride then poses the obligatory question:  How did we get here?

The answer is the lipid hypothesis put forth by Keys, who set out to prove that dietary fats cause heart disease. To support his hypothesis, Keys designed a diagram, showing the correlation of fat consumption and heart disease mortality in only six countries, selected out of the 22 countries for which data existed at that time. Keys’ diagram showed that heart disease deaths rose with increased fat consumption.

McBride:  “However, when all the remaining countries are added back to the diagram this correlation disappears. In fact, the diagram now shows that there is no correlation between fat consumption and dying from heart disease. Using Ancel Keys’ method, one can prove anything one likes. … It is completely baffling as to why on earth the scientific community at the time accepted this kind of “scientific evidence!” For whatever reason, it did! That is how the diet-heart hypothesis started its long life--from a deception.”

Despite its deceptive “built on air” science, Ancel Keys’ hypothesis was seized eagerly by politicians and the medical industry, and the dollars followed.

McBride:  “Institutions and laboratories were set up around the diet-heart hypothesis, thousands of people were employed and scientific grants were awarded to “prove” the hypothesis. The popular media followed by trumpeting the new “breakthrough.” Once politicians and the public had bought the idea, the researchers had to come up with science to fit the bill. … no other medical hypothesis has been researched so much! Hundreds of studies have been conducted around the world to prove that dietary fat and cholesterol are the causes of heart disease. The Chinese have an old saying: “Cut the feet to fit the shoes.” Proponents used their data selectively: they ignored the data that did not support the hypothesis and inflated and advertised the data that did. [Welcome to the medical industry’s version of the scientific method.] In the meantime, for every study that attempted to support the idea, honest studies were coming in from different countries proving it to be wrong. However the political and commercial machine was in motion, and it was not prepared to stop. [The birth of the vegetable fat industry, including heavy hitters soy, corn and canola, along with the boom to the pharmaceutical industry, was just too profitable to allow truth to get in the way.] As all this was going on, many renowned doctors and honest scientists, who had the training to analyze the accumulated scientific data for themselves, opposed and criticized the diet-heart hypothesis and the “science” conducted to support it.”

These truth crusaders included (you all know I'm no fan of the elitist view of the "expert MD," and the conventional medical establishment, but I share this list as proof of professional peer opposition to the lipid hypothesis):
  • Dr. Raymond Reiser (retired biochemistry professor at Texas Univ.)
  • Professor George Mann (retired professor of medicine and biochemistry at Vanderbilt Univ.)
  • Dr. Paul Rosch (president of American Institute of Stress, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College)
  • Dr. Mary Enig (international expert in lipid biochemistry, president of Maryland Nutritionists Association, consulting editor to Journal of the American College of Nutrition)
  • Dr. William Stehbens (professor at Department of Pathology, Wellington School of Medicine and director of Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington, New Zealand)
  • Dr. Ray Rosenman (cardiologist, retired director of cardiovascular research in the Health Sciences Program at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA and associate chief of medicine at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco)
  • Dr. Russell Smith (American experimental psychologist, publisher of two reviews on scientific data of lipid hypothesis)
  • Professor Lars Werko (retired professor medicine at Sahlgren’s Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden and head of the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care)
  • Dr. Edward Pinckney (former co-editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and author of The Cholesterol Controversy)
  • Dr. Uffe Ravnskov (most comprehensive professional review of lipid hypothesis published in The Cholesterol Myths)

In her excellent treatise and cookbook, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, native Aussie chef Jennifer McLagan shares her perspective on the lipid hypothesis history:

"(In the 1950s) a theory was advanced suggesting that increased consumption of animal fat raised our cholesterol levels and resulted in heart disease. The link between cholesterol, saturated fat, and heart disease was only associative, not causal, and it did not account for the fact that some populations that eat diets high in animals fats don’t have high rates of heart disease. During the following two decades science failed to prove conclusively that there was any direct connection between eating saturated fats and developing heart disease, but the theory persisted. [Because it was PROFITABLE.] Then, in 1977, the theory gained widespread credence when the U.S. Congress endorsed it. Americans were urged by their government to reduce their fat intake...Thousands of years of human history showing the importance of animal fat in our diet were overlooked, and instead it was labeled the greasy killer. While many experts still promoted a diet including eggs, meat, and animal fat, their voices were drowned out by industry and science. “Low-fat” and “nonfat” became the new mantras...we obediently replaced the cholesterol-containing animal fats in our diet with new, manmade ones."

“oops! Everything I said about saturated fat was really about margarine.” — (Cate Shanahan) paraphrasing Ancel Keys

In her chapter on the lipid hypothesis (Good Fats and Bad: How the Cholesterol Theory Created a Sickness Epidemic), author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, (unconventional) Dr. Cate Shanahan shares her summary of the birth of Ancel Keys’ lipid hypothesis:

“The father of the “diet-heart hypothesis” was not a cardiologist or even an MD. [Not that MDs or cardiologists are the only ones who can possess nutritional and pathophysiological wisdom...but she’s building up to a good point.] Keys had earned his PhD in the 1930s studying salt-water eels. His nutritional credentialing originated in the fact that, during WWII, the military assigned him to create the ready-to-eat meal that could be stored for years and shipped to millions of soldiers. Dr. Keys named his pocket-sized meal the K-ration, after himself. [And we’re supposed to take food advice from the father of mega-processed freeze-dried food?!] When the war was over, the Minnesota public health department hired Keys to study the problem of rising rates of heart attacks. [Maybe it had something to do with the rising use of environmental chemicals during and post-WWII? Maybe it was the proliferation of processed foods...including all those soldiers’ freeze-dried meals?  In fact, the assumption of a growing epidemic of heart disease is itself subject to criticism.  Was coronary heart disease rare before the 1920s?  Or were doctors and public health officials simply observing heart disease more often due to improving diagnostic technology?]

“At his first scientific meeting, he presented the idea that, in countries where people ate more animal fat, people died of heart disease more often, suggesting a possible causal relationship. But his statistical work was so sloppy that he was lambasted by his peers. Rather than cleaning up his act, Keys vowed vengeance: “I’ll show those guys.” More than anything else, it seems, Keys wanted everyone to think he single-handedly discovered the cause of heart disease. And so did the country’s margarine producers, who now had the perfect spokesperson. Though Keys‘ work failed to convince professional scientists (at least for the first decade or two), the margarine industry knew he still had a shot at convincing the man on the street. If the public thought butter and other animal fats would “clog their arteries,” they might buy margarine instead.

"A few years after the embarrassing performance in front of an audience capable of sniffing out misleading statistics, Keys was on TV laying out those same misleading statistics to a trusting public. The American Heart Association, which depends on large donations from the vegetable oil industry, jumped on the bandwagon with Keys. They took his sloppy statistics and ran, eventually convincing most doctors that “steak is a heart attack on a plate” and that margarine made from hydrogenated vegetable oils (full of trans fat) was healthy. Within a decade, grocery store shelves were loaded with ready-to-eat foods, and Americans were buying.

“By 1961, under increasing scientific scrutiny, Keys began to waver in his support for his own (now publicly accepted) diet-heart hypothesis. Scientists had pointed out Dr. Keys’ misleading use of scientific terms. In public, he denounced animal fat as the culprit behind the rising rates of heart attacks. But in his laboratory and human experiments, he didn’t use animal fat. His subjects were fed margarine made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And what was in the margarine? Trans fat--a full 48%! To conclude from studies that used hydrogenated vegetable oil that animal fat causes heart disease is utterly nonsensical. Unfortunately, the public never heard the straight story."

And we are surprised?! So it goes…the never-ending story of how "scientists," the "medical" establishment, and the "food" industry amasses profits while shaping our food and health destinies. And the consequences of the perpetuation of the ridiculous lipid hypothesis?

Shanahan: “Prior to Keys’ campaign, people ate far more saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods than we do today, but heart attacks were so rare they were almost unheard of. Over the past century, as butter consumption dropped to less than one quarter of what it was, vegetable oil consumption went up five-fold. …. Natural fat consumption: down. Processed fat consumption: up. Heart disease: up — way up. … At the dawn of the second millennium, heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women. Forget for a moment what the “experts” are saying and ask yourself what these trends suggest to your inner statistician. [yes...we are being asked to think for ourselves!]… What’s been dropping us like flies is not any upsurge in saturated fat consumption, but an upsurge in consumption of two major categories of pro-inflammatory foods: vegetable oils (a.k.a unnatural fats) and sugar. Cutting both from your diet will not only protect your heart, it will help protect you from all chronic diseases.”

I heartily echo Shanahan’s message: Nature doesn’t make bad fats. Laboratories do.

In his heavily researched, detailed tome dissecting the controversial politics of fat, carbs, obesity and chronic disease, Good Calories, Bad Calories, science journalist Gary Taubes shares the enlightening tale of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his heart attacks.

"Eisenhower was assuredly among the best-chronicled heart attack survivors in history.  We know that he had no family history of heart disease, and no obvious risk factors after he quit smoking in 1949.  He exercised regularly; his weight remained close to the 172 pounds considered optimal for his height.  His blood pressure was only occasionally elevated.  His cholesterol was below normal: his last measurement before the attack...was 165 mg/dl, a level that heart-disease specialists today consider safe."

After his first heart attack, Eisenhower changed his diet...to a low-fat, low-cholesterol regimen.  His meals were cooked in soybean oil and margarine.  His weight began to creep up, so Eisenhower switched his breakfast fare from oatmeal and skim milk to melba toast and fruit.  Still frustrated with his weight, Eisenhower nixed breakfast and eschewed all fats, replacing them with corn oil.  His cholesterol continued to rise; Eisenhower's doctor regularly lied to him about his increasing cholesterol numbers.

Taubes:  "Eisenhower's cholesterol hit 259 just six days after University of Minnesota physiologist Ancel Keys made the cover of Time magazine, championing precisely the kind of supposedly heart-healthy diet on which Eisenhower had been losing his battle with cholesterol for five years.  It was two weeks later that the American Heart Association--prompted by Keys' force of will--published its first official endorsement of low-fat, low-cholesterol diets as a means to prevent heart disease. ... Eisenhower died of heart disease in 1969, age 78.  By then, he'd had another half-dozen heart attacks.

"From the inception of the diet-heart hypothesis in the early 1950s, those who argued that dietary fat caused heart disease accumulated the evidential equivalent of a mythology to support their belief.  These myths are still passed on faithfully to the present day."

However unjust, however detrimental the results to the generations that followed, fat was forever vilified by the lipid hypothesis: the flawed, falsified and debunked study that refuses to die. “Vegetable” oils and margarine (both fake foods linked to hormonal disruptions, obesity, heart disease and cancer) took the place of butter and saturated fat became a bogey man.

And we must ask and answer the crucial, yet simple question:  In the recent decades following the establishment of the lipid hypothesis, during a time when Americans eat less real fat than ever before...and more carbohydrates, are we healthier?  Are we experiencing significantly reduced rates of heart disease and other chronic maladies?  


Taubes: "Indeed, if the last few decades were considered a test of the fat-cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease, [which they of course should be, because that would be true science at work] the observation that the incidence of heart disease has not noticeably decreased could serve in any functioning scientific environment as compelling evidence that the hypothesis is wrong.  Throughout the world, on the other hand, the incidence of obesity and diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate."

Taubes' book is an intelligent, deeply researched study into the abuses of science that have created and perpetuated dietary myths, including the lipid hypothesis.  It is not an "easy" read, but it is a worthwhile one.  To get an overview of Taubes' work, listen to his conversations with Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk, a podcast produced by the Library of Economics and Liberty.

“And take you father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.”  Genesis 45:18

I love McLagan's Fat book.  In fact, I love her trio, which includes Fat; Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore; and Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal.  I fully intended last year to write a review of Fat, but (surprise, surprise) it never materialized.  I'll just work it in here, by sharing the highlights of her fabulous primer on fat.  Oh, and the recipes are wonderful, too!

McLagan's Fat chapters:

  • Butter: worth it
  • Pork fat: the king
  • Poultry fat: versatile and good for you
  • Beef and Lamb: overlooked but tasty

She covers each animal fat extensively, with instructions on how to make butter, render lard and duck fat, create confit and much more.  Her recipes cover the spectrum from sweet to savory, from biscuits to cassoulet.  No stone is left unturned.  The pages are lavish with beautiful photos and historical, culinary and nutritional tidbits.  

In her Introduction, A Matter of Fat, McLagan reminds us that:
  • All animal fats are not saturated.
  • Eating fat does not make us fat.
  • A low-fat diet is not good for us.
Types of fat

All fats are lipids (they don’t dissolve in water), and all fats are a combination of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Essential Fatty Acids (omega fatty acids) = not made by body, must be ingested
  • Saturated fatty acids = less vulnerable to heat and oxygen, don’t turn rancid easily
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids = softer than saturated fats at room temperature, almost as stable and slow to turn rancid. Most common MFA is oleic acid, found in pork and beef.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids = liquid at room temperature; very fragile, turn rancid quickly.
  • Trans fatty acids = except for naturally occurring conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), these are manmade solidified “fat,” created by adding hydrogen to polyunsaturated fat. CLA is a healthy nutrient that protects against cancer, heart disease, inflammation, high blood pressure, insulin resistance.  All other trans fats are manmade health scourges.
Cholesterol is NOT a fat; rather, it is a sterol (type of alcohol) found in animal protein. Our cell membranes and much of our brains are made of cholesterol. Cholesterol is the “mother hormone” and our vital organs need it to work; our bodies use cholesterol to repair themselves. Low cholesterol is linked with various diseases, depression, and increased risk of infection.  But we'll dig more into this wonderful sterol below.

McLagan:  “Every cell in our body needs fat, our brain and hormones rely on fat to function, and fat supports our immune system, fights disease, and protects our liver. Fat promotes good skin and healthy hair, and it regulates our digestive system and leaves us feeling sated. Yet after more than 30 years of reducing our intake of animal fats, we are not healthier, but only heavier. Diets low in fat leave people hungry, depressed, and prone to weight gain and illness. We reduced the animal fat in our diet but increased our intake of sugars and other refined carbohydrates, then were surprised when we got fat. We shouldn’t have been.”

Traditional, accepted wisdom was that fat and protein were satisfying, nourishing, filling foods and that starches and sugar made people fat. Animals are fattened by grain feeding...the same applies to humans.

McLagan:  “Fat is the body’s preferred fuel, providing us with more than twice the amount of energy as the same quantity of carbohydrates and protein. It helps the body to absorb nutrients, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat and protein are found together in nature because it’s the fat that helps us digest the protein, so it makes good sense to eat a well-marbled steak, or a roast chicken with crispy skin. Because fat is digested slowly, eating it leaves us feeling sated, and we’re less likely to snack between meals. Eat the right fats and you’ll probably lose weight! And, as we all know, fat tastes good.”

“For millennia people have known how to make their food. They have understood animals and what to do with them, have cooked with the seasons and had a farmer’s knowledge of the way the planet works. They have preserved traditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families. People don’t have this kind of knowledge today, even though it seems as fundamental as the earth.” -- Bill Buford, author and journalist

Fat is critical to the flavor of our food, because the flavor of meat is in the fat. As McLagan reminds us, “Many aromas and flavors are soluble only in fat, so unless you use fat in your cooking, they are not released.”  Without marbling, meat has little flavor and becomes dry and tough when cooked.  And, honestly, who doesn't adore slathering warm bread with real butter?  Mmmmmm.....

After the educational introduction, McLagan's book is broken down into four sections, regaling the qualities of and sharing recipes starring: butter, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef and lamb fat.

Aside from its wonderful flavor and delightfully creamy texture, butter is an incredibly healthy food. A saturated fat, butter is composed of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are easy to process by our body...they are not stored as fat (unlike long-chain fatty acids), but used for energy. Butter contains lauric and butyric acids, which boost immunity; stearic and palmitic acids, which lower LDL cholesterol; fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (especially in pastured butter), copper, zinc, chromium, selenium, iodine, and lecithin.  Butter’s complex flavor and its texture are influenced by the breed of cow, its diet, and the season. For pastured butter, spring and early summer will produce a deeper yellow butter (carotenes in the grass) that has a stronger flavor. Winter butter is paler and milder in taste because the cows are supplemented with silage.

Pork fat (including lard) is useful in the kitchen and incredibly nourishing. Pork fat, like all fats, is a mixture of saturated, polyunsatruated, and monounsaturated fatty acids. While the fat forms vary by breed and diet of the pig, the majority of pork fat is monounsaturated, specifically oleic acid in addition to palmitoleic fatty acid (which has antimicrobial properties).  Pork fat’s saturated fatty acids are stearic acid, which converts to oleic acid in our body, and palmitic acid...both lower “bad” cholesterol. Pork fat does not oxidize or become rancid easily, and remains stable when heated. Additionally, pastured lard is an excellent source of vitamin D.

McLagan similarly sings the praises of poultry fat and beef and lamb fat, which contain similar nutrient profiles to butter and lard. Foie gras, french for “fat liver,” is made from the enlarged liver of duck or geese. Well-prepared foie gras is smooth and silky, and contains the beneficial nutrients of liver: it is rich in B vitamins, copper, iron and iodine.  Grass-fed beef and lamb are particularly rich in both CLA and omega-3 fatty acids. Beef bone marrow is of particular nutritional interest, as it contains body-building collagen, iron, phosphorous, vitamin A, thiamin and niacin.

I highly recommend McLagan's book(s) and encourage you to add them, especially Fat, to your collection.

"If you're afraid of butter, use cream."  -- Julia Child, American culinary icon

Good fats vs. Bad fats

As a result of the diet-heart hypothesis takeover, people reduced their intake of animal fats and vastly increased their consumption of manmade fats, particularly hydrogenated trans fats. These substances are not easily processed by the body and are stored as fat, rather than used as energy. These manmade fats increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol, as well as interfere with insulin production.  There is no such thing as a safe manmade trans fat...nor a safe "vegetable" fat.

Polyunsaturated fats, another popular “anti-animal fat” option, are highly unstable, oxidizing quickly. Oxidized fat damages our DNA.  Polyunsaturated fats suppress our immune system, and severely imbalance our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, causing an excess of omega-6 in our bodies (which inhibits absorption of omega-3). High levels of omega-6 lead to cancer, heart disease, liver damage, brain chemistry disorders, weight gain, immune malfunction, digestive malfunction, and reproductive malfunction. Grain-fed animals are higher in omega-6, while pastured animals are a good source of omega-3.

Good fats are Real Fats, and they include all animal fat (especially saturated fats), nuts, and fruit oils:
  • Egg yolks
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Grass-fed, raw milk (with its cream)
  • Coconut
  • Palm
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Fatty fish (especially cold-water species like salmon and sardines)
  • Red meat
  • Pork (especially bacon)
  • Poultry (especially duck and goose)

Bad fats are everything else, which leaves "vegetable" fats...all the commercial, laboratory-produced, manmade fats, liquid or hydrogenated (especially corn, canola, and soy). These “fats” do not exist naturally; they are neither nutritious nor stable. They are chemically processed and easily oxidize and become rancid, producing ravaging, inflammatory, carcinogenic free radicals.

“Fat” that requires heavy technical processing is not good fat. “Fat” that is designed and created in a laboratory is not good fat (nor is it Real Food).

A diet deficient in the regular consumption of good fats, particularly animal fats, leads to:
  • Brain chemistry disorders (OCD, depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, memory loss, etc.)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (a disintegration of the myelin sheath, which requires fat/cholesterol)
  • Leaky gut syndrome (your intestinal lining requires fat for stability)
  • Malnourishment (from poor vitamin absorption)
  • Infertility (and other hormonal imbalance maladies)
  • Increased cancer risk (omega-3 can slow tumor and cancer cell growth)
  • Heart disease and high cholesterol (low-fat diets reduce HDL)
  • Etc.....
On the other hand, real fats (principally saturated fats):
  • Protect your heart (reduces lipoprotein, which increases heart attack risk)
  • Build your cell membranes
  • Build your hormones
  • Act as a carrier for vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Build your bones (calcium requires saturated fat to be incorporated into bone)
  • Protect your liver from toxins
  • Improve lung function (lung lining is composed of saturated fat)
  • Improve gut function (intestinal lining is composed of saturated fat)
  • Strengthen white blood cells

Cholesterol Is Not the Enemy
"The idea that too much animal fat and high cholesterol are dangerous to your heart and vessels is nothing but a myth."  -- Uffe Ravnskov

Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, in his ground-breaking comprehensive critique of the lipid hypothesis, The Cholesterol Myths, tears down the myriad myths produced by Keys’ outrageously popular bad science, including:
  • High-fat foods cause heart disease.
  • High cholesterol causes heart disease.
  • High-fat foods raise blood cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol blocks arteries.
  • Animal studies prove the diet-heart idea.
  • Lowering your cholesterol will lengthen your life.
  • Polyunsaturated oils are good for you.
  • The cholesterol campaign is based on good science.
  • All scientists support the diet-heart idea.

Alzheimer’s? Infertility? Heart disease? Auto-immune disorders? Immunity malfunctions? Brain chemistry disorders? You can thank your fear of fat and cholesterol-lowering diet and drugs. In fact, dreading and disparaging food sources of cholesterol is rather imprudent, considering that the body produces about 85% of its own blood cholesterol.

Not only is cholesterol NOT the villain we have been led to believe, it is a vital nutrient, essential to the proper and vibrant functioning of our bodies. Every cell of every organ in our bodies has cholesterol in its structure. Cholesterol is a vital part of cell membrane composition and it helps our cells communicate.

Our brains simply cannot develop or function properly without regular consumption of brain-building fats, including cholesterol (not technically a fat, but a sterol), lecithin, choline, and especially saturated fats. Our brain and nervous system is cholesterol-rich; 25% of our bodies’ cholesterol stores go to the brain. The fatty substance, myelin, which is a primary material in our brain and nervous system, is 20% cholesterol. The myelin sheath coats every nerve cell and nerve fiber. The breakdown of the myelin sheath results in the devastating illness, multiple sclerosis. Synapse formation in the brain, affecting brain cell communication and memory centers, depends heavily on cholesterol (memory loss is a side effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs). A developing baby’s brain and eyes require large amounts of cholesterol.

Our hormones will not function without cholesterol. Known as the “mother hormone,” cholesterol is crucial to the endocrine system...particularly our adrenals and sex glands, which produce our steroid hormones. All steroid hormones are made from cholesterol. Steroid hormones regulate vital bodily functions, including metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, brain, muscle and bone formation, fertility, and brain chemistry. Adrenal fatigue is a common problem in our modern, multitasking, over-stressed society. [A typical “side effect” for men on cholesterol-lowering drugs is decreased testosterone (and other steroid hormone) production.]

The human liver regulates blood cholesterol and uses cholesterol to create bile, which is the substance that allows us to digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Without good bile production, we cannot properly absorb and assimilate vitamins A, D, E, and K. In fact, cholesterol-rich foods and sunlight are our best sources of vitamin D. Because of our desperate need for this fat-soluble vitamin, we can thank cholesterol for helping us to build and maintain healthy bones, as well as protecting us from cancer, inflammatory disorders, brain chemistry imbalances, heart disease, osteoarthritis, auto-immune diseases, poor immunity, obesity, and diabetes.

So why do cholesterol levels vary from person to person and season or time of day? Why do cholesterol levels soar after surgery or when we have an infection? The answer is simple: cholesterol is one of the body’s healing agents. When healing needs to occur, the liver produces cholesterol and sends it to the site of damage.

Let’s look a bit at the myth that cholesterol cause arterial and heart disease. McBride explains by examining blood vessel structure and physiology. The inside of the vessel walls are covered by a layer of endothelium cells, which are attacked by any damaging agent to which we are exposed. 

McBride:  “Whether it is a toxic chemical, an infectious organism, a free radical or anting else, once it is in the blood, what is it going to attack first? The endothelium, of course. The endothelium immediately sends a message to the liver. Whenever our liver receives a signal that a wound has been inflicted upon the endothelium somewhere in our vascular system, it gets into gear and sends cholesterol to the site of the damage in a shuttle, called LDL (low-density lipoprotein). Because this cholesterol travels from the liver to the wound in the form of LDL, our “science, in its wisdom, called LDL a “bad” cholesterol. When the wound heals and the cholesterol is removed, it travels back to the liver in the form of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Because this cholesterol travels away from the artery back to the liver, our misguided “science” called it “good” cholesterol. This is like calling an ambulance traveling from the base to the patient, a “bad ambulance,” and the one traveling from the patient back to the base, a “good ambulance.

“Why does the liver send cholesterol to the site of the injury? Because the body cannot clear the infection, remove toxic elements or heal the wound without cholesterol and fats. Any healing involves the birth, growth and functioning of thousands of cells: immune cells, endothelial cells and many others. As these cells, to a considerable degree, are made out of cholesterol and fats, they cannot be born and grow without a good supply of these substances. … Scar tissue in the body contains good amounts of cholesterol. … Cholesterol acts as an antioxidant in the body, dealing with the free radical damage. … When we have surgery, our tissues are cut and many small arteries, veins and capillaries get damaged. The liver receives a very strong signal from this damage, so it floods the body with LDL cholesterol to clean and heal every little wound in our blood vessels. … After dental treatment, in addition to the damage to the tissues, a lot of bacteria from the tooth and the gums finish up in the blood, attacking the inside walls of our blood vessels. The liver gets a strong signal from that damage and produces lots of healing cholesterol to deal with it, so the blood cholesterol goes up. The same thing happens when we have an infection — LDL cholesterol goes up to deal with the bacterial or viral attack. Apart from the endothelium, our immune cells need cholesterol to function and to heal themselves after the fight with the infection. Our stress hormones are made out of cholesterol … Stressful situations increase our blood cholesterol levels because cholesterol is being sent to the adrenal glands for stress hormone production. In short, when we have a high blood cholesterol level it means that the body is dealing with some damage.”

Understanding the action of the cardiovascular endothelial cells and their relationship to cholesterol, as well as the functions and traveling route of LDL and HDL, begs the question: Why are some people suffering increased endothelial damage and therefore increased cholesterol activity? I think the answer is simple. Those people are introducing malevolent substances into their blood streams (such as chemical pollutants in the form of drugs or processed/industrial foods), causing the damage that spurs the healing cholesterol response. Instead of blaming LDL levels, the sufferers should stop abusing their bodies with the toxic substances ravaging their blood vessels. 

 Clearly, stress also plays a part in raising cholesterol levels, and should not be ignored as a significant culprit in health maladies.  Additionally, dehydration is a significant factor in heightened cholesterol levels. When the body becomes dehydrated, cells become dehydrated and begin to weaken. This signals the production of cholesterol to repair and hold the cell walls together. Lowering cholesterol can be as simple as increasing your daily water intake: aim for 1 oz. pure water for every pound you weigh.

In Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes reveals what I believe is a fascinating paradox.  Ancel Keys, the man who gave us the blight that is the lipid hypothesis, originally established that there was no link between cholesterol and heart disease.  As Taubes explains, "In 1937, two Columbia University biochemists, David Rittenberg and Rudolph Schoenheimer, demonstrated that the cholesterol we eat has very little effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood.  When Keys fed men for months at a time on diets either high or low in cholesterol, it made no difference to their cholesterol levels.  As a result, Keys insisted that dietary cholesterol had little relevance to heart disease."  Yet Keys would go forward in his attempt to substantiate his diet-heart hypothesis, fingering fat as the culprit in cardio ailments.

Taubes:  "Ironically, some of the most reliable facts about the diet-heart hypothesis have been consistently ignored by public-health authorities because they complicated the message, and the least reliable findings were adopted because they didn't.  Dietary cholesterol, for instance, has an insignificant effect on blood cholesterol. ... Nonetheless, the advice to eat less cholesterol--avoiding egg yolks, for instance--remains gospel."

A fuller understanding of the hows and whys of cholesterol production and functions does spur various cogitations. One begins to wonder, why all the fuss over “high” cholesterol? How high is too high? And why aren't doctors asking, how low is too low?

Studying the anti-lipid hypothesis evidence makes it clear that cholesterol is not the cardio killer that we’ve been led to believe. Ravnskov points out that the coronary artery studies hoping to prove that high cholesterol levels cause atherosclerosis actually showed an increase in sclerosis in patients with low cholesterol. Repeated studies confirmed that cholesterol levels were unimportant in determining increased atherosclerosis risk.

Ravnskov: “The fact that coronary atherosclerosis gets worse just as fast or faster when cholesterol goes down as when it goes up, the opposite of exposure-response, should have led scientists to question the whole diet-heart idea. But nobody did. … Isn’t it much more likely that something else causes atherosclerosis than cholesterol? Something that may vary between the arteries, such as blood pressure. … For instance, the tension of the coronary vessels, but not necessarily of other vessels, increases significantly when we are mentally stressed. … That people with low cholesterol become just as sclerotic as people with high cholesterol is, of course, a devastating blow to the diet-heart idea. But the names of Lande, Sperry, Paterson, and Mathur (researchers) are absent in the hundreds of papers and books that the proponents publish every year.”

"We've got a drug for that."  -- (me) paraphrasing the pharmaceutical and medical industry

The dangers of cholesterol are a myth, but the dangers of cholesterol-lowering (statin) drugs are very real and include:

  • Decreased hormone production
  • Impaired male sexual function (see above)
  • Depletion of CoQ10 (a necessary cardiovascular and muscular nutrient)
  • Muscle pain (see above)
  • Memory loss
  • Depression (likely related to decreased hormone production)
  • Anemia
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas)
  • Immune depression
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Neuropathy (pain resulting from nerve damage in peripheral nervous system)
  • Heart failure (can you say irony? This side effect related to depleted CoQ10)
Fat and cholesterol are more than good for you...they are crucial to your physical development and well-being. Fat consumption affects brain development, vibrancy and longevity, skin development and elasticity, heart health, joint health, hormone development and regulation, intestinal lining integrity, and more.

Good Fat Does Not Make You Fat

Obesity is a plague of modern living.  The blame fingers seem constantly to be moving, pointing one way and then another.  "Fad diets" have been part of our collective conscious for decades.  The prevalent desire to lose weight drives a profitable diet and exercise industry.  The medical and food industries have a stake in this game as well.  "Low fat" and "low calorie" foods have an incredible market share of the offerings on grocery store shelves.  So it should come as no surprise that weight-loss dietary advice that would undermine profits of companies touting "conventional wisdom" will be routinely lambasted and ridiculed.  An entire food industry has grown around the proliferation of "vegetable" oils and cereal grains.  Ergo, the food politics of dietary principles are highly controversial.

But how many Americans are aware that the low-carb, high-protein weight-loss regimen is centuries old?  From the mid-1800s, French doctors identified the solution to obesity as a diet restricted in sugars and starches.  By the time the Atkins revolution was introduced in America in the 1970s, the "low-carb to lose weight" concept had been tried and proven by practitioners and people who were willing to look to nature, history and evidence-based traditions for answers to the obesity puzzle.

Until the 1970s in America, it was conventional wisdom that starches and sugars led to weight gain. But coming on the heels of the AMA and AHA fully endorsing the lipid hypothesis and advocating a low-fat diet to combat heart disease, we saw the birth of the low-fat, high-carb diet to control weight.  Despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, the low-fat diet craze was born, gained momentum, and mushroomed.  We are living with the reality today that the low-fat myth is an idea that dies hard.

Taubes: "Despite the depth and certainty of our faith that saturated fat is the nutritional bane of our lives and that obesity is caused by overeating and sedentary behavior, there has always been copious evidence to suggest that those assumptions are incorrect, and that evidence is continuing to mount.

"It is possible that obesity, diabetes, and heart disease all share a single, underlying cause.  The surge in obesity and diabetes occurred as the population was being bombarded with the message that dietary fat is dangerous and that carbohydrates are good for the heart and for weight control. ... [William Harland, former associate director of the Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health] told me that public-health experts like himself assumed that if they advised all Americans to eat less fat, with its densely packed calories, weights would go down.  'What we see instead,' he said, 'is actually weights have gone up, the portion sizes have gone up, the amount we eat has gone up.' ... If 150 years of anecdotal evidence and observation suggest that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening, it would be unjustifiable scientifically to reject that hypothesis without compelling evidence to the contrary.  Such evidence does not exist."

In the vein of WAPF, Taubes shares that decades of evidence regarding chronic disease and obesity, collected by missionaries and doctors studying isolated populations living traditional lifestyles/diets, indicates that "diseases of civilization" were rare before the introduction of processed carbohydrates.  Taubes also points out that our society has fully accepted the non-evidence-based idea that dietary fat, calories, fiber and physical activity are the critical variables in obesity and disease.  Medical research, however, has revealed a "web of physiological mechanisms and phenomena involving the singular effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar and on insulin, and the effect of blood sugar and insulin, in turn, on cells, arteries, tissues, and other hormones."

So just to put the final nail in the "fear of fat" coffin, believe me when I tell you that consuming good fats will not make you fat; in fact, the opposite is true. Most people lose weight when increasing fat consumption (and consecutively decreasing sugar consumption).  Good fat is an excellent energy source: it is dense and easily converted by the body into energy.  

Remember pork fat (lard) and its oleic acid content?  Oleic acid is one of the reasons that fat doesn't make you fat.  Besides containing medium-chain fatty acids that are easily absorbed and converted into energy, oleic acid begins production of oleoylethanolamide (OEA), which gets absorbed into nerve endings.  Once there, the OEA tells your body that it is full.  This is one of the excellent side effects of fat consumption...satiety.  Oleic acid is found in other animal fats, as well as in olive and nut oils.

Omega-3 fatty acids assist in burning fat because they tell your body to more effectively use the hormone leptin.  Leptin helps to suppress your appetite, rev your metabolism (by increasing thyroid output), and tell your body to burn fat for energy.  Medium-chain triglycerides (a type of medium-chain fatty acid) are quickly broken down by the body and converted into energy.  Fewer MCTs are converted to fat than are long-chain fatty acids.

 An MCT, coconut oil is a particularly potent weight loss agent. Rich in those easily digested, "instant energy" medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil increases metabolism and encourages ketosis (the process that helps to burn glycogen stores).  Other MCTs are milk fat and palm oil.

Manmade fats (especially trans fats), however, can make you fat.  Your body cannot process these fake fats and they will accumulate as toxic deposits.  These bad fats become stored fat and produce inflammation (sometimes you aren't registering "fat" on the scale, but swelling).

How you consume your fats matters, too.  As Mark at Mark's Daily Apple remind us, "Fat is very satiating, especially when paired with low-carb eating. Dietary fat in the presence of large amounts of dietary carbohydrates can make it difficult to access fat for energy, while dietary fat in the presence of low levels of dietary carbohydrates makes it easier to access fat for energy. studies have shown that low-carb, high-fat diets not only reduce weight, they also retain or even increase lean mass. That means it’s fat that’s being lost (rather than the nebulous “weight”), which is what we’re ultimately after."

It is difficult to overeat fat. Because of its dense, filling effect, fat effectively signals your body’s satiation impulse. You are more likely to become ill before you can consume enough real fat calories to actually gain weight.  Healthy fats, including saturated animal fats, are easily processed and used for energy.

I will leave you with these important mantras to memorize:

  • Fat is the most essential human nutrient.
  • Good fats are great for you.
  • Cholesterol is not your enemy...it is a magnificent ally.
  • Real Fat doesn’t make you fat...sugar and fake fat does.
Now go and enjoy some brain-building, hormone-producing, heart-protecting, gut-healing, delicious fat!  And forget the fear, banish the guilt!  To your health!

For more information

Coconut oil burns fat

The myth of the low-fat diet

WAPF examines good vs. bad fats

Seven reasons to eat more saturated fat

Why a high-fat diet is healthy and safe

A holistic approach to cancer (your body needs more fat)

Pasta, not bacon, makes you fat

Myths and truths about nutrition

EconTalk podcast archive: Gary Taubes

The last days of the low-fat diet fad

Vegatable oils: The "refining" of our health

Toxic effects of vegetable oils

Why you should never eat vegetable oil

The truth about cholesterol

WAPF Truths and Myths about cholesterol

Cholesterol Con

Ravnskov's Cholesterol Myths

Low cholesterol is NOT good for you

Statin drug dangers

WAPF Dangers of Statin Drugs

Natural News Statin drug info

Check out this great graphic from Massive Health about how carbs are killing you.

Help Stop Monsanto-Friendly Bill Riders

Urgent action alert from WAPF:

Tell Congress to Dump the Monsanto Rider
Congress is back in session, and it has to address how to fund the government in the coming year.  The dangerous “Monsanto” rider is still on the table for the 2013 Appropriations bill, and we need to stop it!

Though cloaked in "farmer-friendly" language, this" farmer assurance provision" is simply a biotech industry ploy to continue to plant genetically modified (GMO) crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally. The provision undermines USDA's oversight of GMO crops and interferes with the U.S. judicial review process.  It is also completely unnecessary and offers "assurance" only to biotech companies like Monsanto, not farmers.

We need legislators who are willing to stand up and say no to this dangerous rider!  Representative Peter DeFazio (D- OR) has authored a "Dear Colleague" letter opposing the biotech rider and is urging his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to join him. Please tell your Representative to support the DeFazio Dear Colleague letter opposing the biotech rider!

In addition, Senator Inouye, as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is in a key position to stop this rider.  We need everyone to ask their Senators to urge Senator Inouye to stand firm against the rider.

There is only a short period of time for Congress to resolve the Appropriations Bill before the end of the lame duck session. Please take action today!


1)  Contact your US. Representative, and urge him or her to sign on to the DeFazio letter opposing the biotech rider in the 2013 Appropriations bill.  If you don't know who represents you, you can find out online at www.house.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

My name is ___, and I am a constituent.  I am calling to urge Representative ____ to strongly oppose the “farmer assurance provision,” section 733, currently included in the House Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  Congress must protect the few safeguards we have in place for genetically engineered crops, not eliminate them to appease a handful of chemical companies.  I urge my Representative to sign on to the letter by Representative DeFazio opposing the biotech rider.

2)  Contact both of your U.S.
Senators, and urge them to ask Senator Inouye to stand firm and not allow the biotech rider in the Senate version of the 2013 Appropriations bill.  If you don't know who represents you, you can find out online at www.senate.gov  or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
My name is ___, and I am a constituent.  I am calling to ask that Senator ____ to strongly oppose the “farmer assurance provision”, section 733, currently included in the House Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  I ask that my Senator urge Senate Appropriations Chairman Inouye to oppose this dangerous and non-germane rider.  Congress must protect the few safeguards we have in place for genetically engineered crops, not eliminate them to appease a handful of chemical companies.


Though wrapped in a "farmer-friendly" package, the biotech rider (section 733) is simply an industry ploy to continue to plant GMO crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally.

The provision is intended to force USDA to grant temporary permits and deregulations of GMO crops even if a Federal court rules that USDA hadn't adequately considered the environmental or economic risks to farmers. This would negate any meaningful judicial review of USDA's decisions to allow commercialization of GMO crops.

If a GMO crop approval was shown to violate the law and require further analysis of its harmful impacts (as several courts have concluded in recent years, for example with GMO alfalfa and GMO sugar beets) this provision would override any court-mandated caution and allow continued planting and commercialization while further review takes place.

The judicial review process is an essential element of U.S. law and serves as a vital check on any federal agency decision that may negatively impact human health, the environment, or livelihoods. Yet this rider seeks an end-run around such judicial review by preemptively deciding that industry can set its own conditions to continue to sell biotech seeds, even if a court may find them to have been wrongfully approved.

Further, it forces USDA to approve permits for such continued planting immediately, putting industry completely in charge by creating loophole approvals tailored to counter any "inconvenient" court decisions for the industry.  USDA’s duty is to protect the interests of all farmers and the environment, a duty that would be eliminated by this provision.
The provision is also completely unnecessary. No farmer has ever had his or her crops destroyed following such a court ruling. Every court to decide these issues has carefully weighed the interests of farmers, as is already required by law.

You can read the rider here: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-112hr-fc-ap-fy13-agriculture.pdf  (see page 86 of the pdf)

This rider effectively guts the few existing protections against the spread of dangerous GMO crops.  Please help us stop it!

You can also take action at the Alliance for Natural Health site and through SignOn.org.

Are We Losing the Food Fight?!

Lately, my stomach has begun to sink when I hear my husband reading the Acres USA magazine.  "Uh-oh," he'll say.  "That's not good."  Or, "You've GOT to be kidding me!"

"What is it now?"  I ask...wondering if I should query.  Do I really want more bad news?  (I'm still recovering from the assault on heritage hogs in Michigan.)

He replies with a scowl.  "You won't believe what's happening in Bellingham."

He's reading the November issue...the dilemma is described thus:
Traditional Rural Lifestyles Under Assault:  Despite the growing back-to-the-land movement, many legal and planning challenges continue to stymie smaller farms while favoring industrial-scale agriculture.
As I cringe at yet another attempted murder of Real Food, hubby gives me a glimpse of the latest onerous move against food freedom in a locale that is known for its clean food cravings.  This time it's Whatcom County regulations making it more difficult for small farms to raise and sell food.

A happy, pastured pig
And I can't help but wonder...what's happening?  We live in a day when the message of clean food, real health, and consumer rights is louder than ever (who hasn't seen Food, Inc.? who hasn't heard of Joel Salatin?  how many Real Food blogs does it take?  ...Ron Paul, anyone?).  Yet, it feels like we're losing the fight.

Just look at the recent stinging loss of Prop 37.  I feel like I have the credibility as a former Californian to say this...What happened people?  Prop 37 fails?  You can't be serious!  You don't want to know if you are eating GMOs?  Well, I don't believe it for a moment.  It is more likely that we are seeing the twisted system at work.  Can you say foul play?

Of course I expect Monsanto and cronies to use their deep pockets (and powerful friends in high places) to fight consumer rights and food freedoms, but I don't expect the voters to play into their hands.  Big frankenAg loves it when consumers are swayed by "studies" that organic food is no healthier than the alternative.  In its fight of Prop 37, Monsanto falsely quoted the FDA to mislead voters.  But none of that should matter, right?  Why would concerned and knowledgeable voters fall prey to false advertising and phony studies ("We're Stanford...if we say it it must be true")?  We're living in the information age.  Are we still trusting the FDA and robodocs? (good one, Sarah.)  Aren't we smarter than that?  We know that power corrupts.  We know how people will say anything for money...for control.  We know better...we care more...don't we?

That's right, I'm a grazing goat...and I give great milk!
California has traditionally led the nation in the food fight.  But the failure of Prop 37 plays right into the hands of Big Ag.  Any win for them is a deleterious loss for us, the people...for our future food and health choice freedoms.  

I recall some anti-Prop 37 rhetoric from the Libertarian camp in the months before the vote.  To my understanding, the Libertarians took umbrage at further government regulation in this arena.  They would prefer that consumers somehow induce companies to voluntarily label their foods.  I could be mistaken, but that's my take on the argument.  Without waxing too politically philosophical, I would like to share my (radical and perhaps contradictory?) view on that message.

I think it's a little bit of rubbish.

Don't get me wrong...I consider myself a Libertarian of sorts (if I allow myself to enter any classification at all politically).  Of course I agree that all levels of our government have metastasized, like a cancerous growth, far beyond the boundaries of their acceptable purposes.  I despise big government and over-regulation of our lives.  I would love to see government out of our business, and out of the marketplace (for the most part...hang on, I'll get there).  

But let's get real.  It isn't happening.  Legislators and government agents are not looking out for your best interests...they are held sway by corporate interests.  (Case in point, the on-going raw milk war.)  And at this crucial time in our nation's food fight, I do not believe the GMO labeling issue is the ground in which to stake the flag of "no more government regulation."  The government is already protecting the bad guys...is it too much to desire that our government (for the people, by the people, right?) requires Truth in Labeling?

At its core, I see Prop 37 as a truth in labeling law.  It would have required "food" corporations to enact full disclosure to consumers about what they are eating.  It seems to me that truth in labeling fits seamlessly with a Libertarian view of government's purpose.  Based on the simple yet wise historical tradition of common law, the role of government should be to protect citizens from encroachment, and to enforce contracts.  Common law says: Do all that you have promised to do, and Do not encroach on persons and their property.  Period.  If any peoples anywhere at any time desire to enact a government, those alone are the principles that should be upheld.  I see these principles at work in labeling laws.  Fair and just regulations would be those that disallow force and fraud in the market place.  Truth in labeling reduces fraud.

In addition to eliminating (or lessening) the perpetuation of fraud in the food market, labeling laws would reduce encroachment upon persons, in the form of protecting consumers from being physically harmed by Big Ag's offerings.  This is vitally important when we understand the truth that we are what we eat...that what we eat can damage our DNA.  You are made well or ill by what you put in your body.  (Fake) food corporations would no longer be able to hide behind their lack of disclosure.  People would be empowered to make educated choices about what substances they are feeding themselves and their children.  Ignorance is certainly not bliss when one is being poisoned against one's will.  

Unless you are an informed consumer, you can fall prey to poison.  Big Ag's lack of disclosure makes you a potential victim.  You have a fundamental, inalienable right to know what is in your food.  In my view, enacting truth in labeling laws fits within the Libertarian framework of dismantling fraud and enforcing the anti-encroachment rule.  I could be way off base here, I allow room for that possibility, LOL.  I'm all for dismantling government's hold on our food system altogether.  No fingers in the pot whatsoever.  Government's only role would be to punish companies for encroachment and contract violation (lying, cheating, stealing, polluting, poisoning...).  If that were to happen, the GMO monster might be significantly diminished.  Without shelter and enablement from Big Brother, maybe the frankenfood producers would skulk away.  One can dream...

Well, coming on the heels of the GMO labeling defeat, it seems California will no longer be a bastion of enlightenment in the Real Food fight...we'll need to begin looking elsewhere for our inspiration and national clean food leadership.  Perhaps we can follow the lead of San Juan County...at least, until Monsanto sues them and buys itself a win.

Now that's Real Food
So, what's the answer?  Can we trust that the "free market" will prevail and we will always be assured the choices we desire?  I'm not putting my eggs in that basket, considering that Monsanto and cronies desire not just part of market share, but to control the entire market.  They already have "good friends" in government positions and regulatory agencies.  I think our real hope lies in boycott and community self-sufficiency.  Corporate food avoidance is the best medicine.  If you want to be certain you are not ingesting GMOs, do not eat any processed foods, nor any crops/produce known to have GMO in production.  Purchase raw ingredients from farmers you trust; ask them about their seed sources.  Don't patronize farmers who buy seed from Monsanto et al. 

Currently, you may be able to avoid GMOs by purchasing Organic foods, but I have no hope that this will continue to be the safeguard we need.  The USDA certified Organic standards are already full of compromises...where is that bus headed?  With Big Ag at the wheel, I certainly do not trust the future integrity and purity of the Organic label.  Right now, you can still vote with your fork.  Consider any company unwilling to fully display the components of their ingredients not to be trusted.  Do not buy from such companies.

Freely ranging members of the egg brigade

My family just spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with dear friends.  We enjoyed organic pastured heritage breed turkey purchased from a farmer with whom we have developed a relationship.  We ate an organic pastured ham from one of the heritage breed pigs that my husband raised and butchered himself.  Among other lovely foods, we were blessed with an abundance of organic gourmet potatoes (multiple varieties) from a local farmer friend.  (For the nonGAPS eaters in the group.)  The meal was fabulous.  During our dinner, we shared with each other blessings for which we were thankful.  More than one person mentioned good food and good health.  My prayer for all of you...for all of us...is that we may continue to pursue our fundamental, inalienable food and health freedoms.  To do so may require a food fight of increased vigor.  Let's rise to the challenge.

Radical Reading Room: Book Giveaway

Welcome to my first giveaway...I'm excited and I hope you are, too.  I have no doubt most of you are familiar with how these rafflecopter giveaways work, but it's new to me...I'm a techno dummy!  (I'm just hoping I set this up properly, LOL.)

The prize for this contest is Ramiel Nigel's, Cure Tooth Decay.  In this excellent health DIY resource, Nigel describes the Traditional Foods that can fight and cure what ails our teeth.  This WAPF-inspired resource sits on my shelf, and I look forward to adding a copy to one of your shelves.

I thought it would be fun to make the giveaway a game, so for this contest, I'm asking you to do a little "legwork."  To be eligible to win the book (winners are selected by random from pool of entrants), you must correctly answer a question.  To find the answer, you must visit my sister site, EveryWiseWoman.  The site is still in its infancy, and will long be a work in progress, so the pages and articles are few.  I doubt you'll have little trouble with this task; the winner will be announced by the end of next week.  Happy hunting and thanks for playing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Olive Oil Fridge Test...Who Passed?

After reading multiple posts this summer about the Extra Virgin Olive Oil controversy, I decided to investigate my olive oils for authenticity.  Of course, we have no foolproof way to do so (I don't have access to a mass spectrometer, LOL), and there is no home test that can guarantee your bottle of EVOO is in fact pure, unadulterated olive oil.  But I felt that the refrigeration test was the best option.  If your olive oil crystallizes/solidifies it isn't a guarantee that no other oils are present, but if your olive oil does not at all crystallize, it tells you that there is no decent olive oil in that bottle.

I apologize for my brevity, but life is just beginning to become normal again after a miscarriage, so I am not my usual verbose self.  I'll just give you a quick rundown of my findings.  

[Background blurb:  Years ago, when we lived near Salt Lake City, we shopped at a boutique gourmet shop that carried high quality food imports and heirloom produce.  If you're ever in the city, check out Liberty Heights Fresh...it's worth the trip!  We used to purchase French, Italian, Spanish and Greek EVOOs there and they were excellent.  The shop owner often traveled to his producers and maintained relationships with many of them.  I believe he and they are to be trusted.  I know many articles say it is impossible for consumers to discern by taste whether their EVOO is adulterated, but I would disagree.  If you spend years eating nothing but the best authentic EVOO, you do develop a palette for it.  Since leaving the SLC area, and living in and leaving the SoCal area, we have purchased a wide variety of EVOOs from gourmet shops, online stores, Trader Joe's and health food stores.  I have been able to discern flavor differences that made me suspect the less expensive oils, as I will mention below.]

OK.  I only have a couple snapshots to demonstrate my experiment; I apologize.  I took samples from a few bottles of EVOO I had on the shelf and I refrigerated each of them for 24 hours.  The following are my results:

12 hours.  L: Bionaturae, R: Napa Valley, Top: Bariani
My sample of organic Spanish EVOO from Trader Joe's did NOT solidify at all, not even after 48 hours.  I gave up and forgot to take a photo.  I have purchased various TJ's oils over the years and have noticed the flavor to be bland.  I only had the Spanish bottle left in my pantry, so tested it.  I'm ruling it a fake and no longer buying it (and likely won't buy TJ's EVOOs at all.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for).
24 hours.  L: Napa Valley, R: Bionaturae, Top: Bariani

My samples of Napa Valley Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian blend) and Bariani Californian EVOO (I purchase at Live Superfoods) turned semi-solid within 12 hours.  My sample of Bionaturae Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian blend) was beginning to crystallize after 12 hours, but did not actually become semi-solid until spending 24 hours in the fridge.  

Of all the oils, the Bariani tasted the most authentic to me, with a strong peppery finish.  The Bionaturae oil's website describes the company's hand harvesting and same-day pressing process, and the information presented is appealing.  I cannot be assured completely that my three "winners" are indeed nothing but pure, uncut EVOO, but I'm hopeful that they are.  

Kirkland organic EVOO
The biggest disappointment was my Kirkland (Costco brand) organic EVOO.  This oil was one of many tested by UC Davis in July 2010; at that time it was determined to be pure.  I have bought this oil for a couple years to use in my medicinal herbal salves.  When I refrigerated the bottle for a week, there was hardly any crystallization at all, just slight cloudiness.  When I studied the refrigerated herbal oils I had prepared with Kirkland oil, I found that last year's oil was nearly solidified but my recent batches (with oil purchased this spring) were much more liquid.  If the refrigeration test can tell us anything about EVOO authenticity, I suspect a degradation of Kirkland EVOO quality since the 2010 testing.  Again, my experiment is not conclusive either way, but I am looking for some guideline to use in my future EVOO purchases.

Last year's Kirkland EVOO
This spring's Kirkland EVOO
Keep in mind that when purchasing from large vendors and companies that buy from middle men, EVOO qualities will change from season to season, even batch to batch.  Companies like Costco, who buy in vast quantities, are purchasing oils from multiple orchard sources.  Companies like Trader Joe's do the same...purchase vast quantities of oils from multiple suppliers and then repackage with their label.  So genuine EVOO quality could be hit and miss in these cases; it certainly won't be predictable and static.  Purchasing from smaller companies with traceable supply sources, or directly from an orchard or a vendor who works with single orchards, is a consumer's best option.

USDA Organic...The Label Doesn't Guarantee Clean Food

The term organic means something specific to consumers...purity, safety, absence of chemicals, pesticides, frankenfoods, adulteration.  But is your supermarket Organic food as clean as you'd like?  [In the following article, Organic with a capital "O" represents the corporate, government approved and regulated standard.]

In truth, the USDA Organic label is not a pure standard ensuring that consumers are purchasing and eating Real Clean Food.  The moment that government regulators became involved in the world of organic food production, the standards became adulterated, the lines blurred.  Years ago, clean food farmers warned their peers to avoid signing a deal with the USDA, but the warning was unheeded and (official) Organic food quality has been and will continue to be subject to regulation whims and corporate adulteration.

Rather than protecting consumers from conventionally grown food's harm, the USDA Organic standards provide lawfully tainted foods.  As Mercola reports:
There are currently almost 300 non-organic and synthetic compounds approved for use in organic farming or food production.  ...  In November, 2011, the USDA's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) held a meeting in Savannah, Georgia. During that meeting, two 12-billion-dollar corporations--Martek Biosciences (a division of the Dutch biotechnology giant DSM), and WhiteWave (a division of the dairy behemoth Dean Foods)—received approval for synthetic, genetically mutated DHA and ARA oils derived from algae and soil fungus, which are then grown in a medium of genetically engineered corn products and organics.
The allowed chemicals and substances in Organic production include chlorine (a potent toxin), chlorine dioxide (a dangerous endocrine disruptor and carcinogen), tetracycline and streptomycin (antibiotics), processed carrageenan (an inflammatory and potentially carcinogenic "stabilizer" derived from seaweed), and other questionable substances.  Additionally, corporations have been found sneaking synthetic preservatives into their Organic offerings.

We should be concerned about the USDA Organic label and its integrity, considering that the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, caved to Monsanto and approved GMO alfalfa and defends pink slime, and that the National Organics Standards Board is highly influenced by big business.  (Vilsack went so far as to say that the USDA wouldn't approve pink slime if it weren't safe.  Oh, I feel so much better now.  Another government agency known for cronyism says everything it approves is all A.O.K.  Whew!  We can all sleep better knowing the USDA is planning our meals for us.)  The NOSB has been appointing voting representatives from big food industry players, like General Mills, since the mid-1990s.  This should not sit well with organic consumers, and it doesn't sit well with certain organic producers, including Eden Foods' president, Michael Potter:
Chairman and President of Eden Foods, Inc., Michael Potter ... has witnessed, first-hand, the deteriorating standards of the NOSB. A deterioration so disturbing that despite the millions of dollars he stands to pocket by selling Eden Foods to one of the many large corporations who have offered to buy it, Mr. Potter stands strong in his refusal to compromise the values of a company he worked hard to build. In fact, he’s even trending carefully with regards to his children, making sure they understand values of Eden Foods. Each one of his four children “must earn any control of the family company” according to the New York Times.
As the NYTimes article reveals, even voters from Certified Organic companies make sell-out moves while acting on the NOSB:
During her tenure, Ms. Fulwider, Organic Valley’s animal-husbandry specialist, has voted almost in lock step with its corporate members, even though her vote may be supporting something Organic Valley does not allow its own members to do.  ...  Ms. Fulwider surprised many observers at a board meeting in May by voting in favor of keeping carrageenan on the organic list. Before that meeting, Organic Valley was saying that it planned to find an alternative to the additive, and there is a long and active list of consumer complaints on its web site about the cooperative’s use of it in things like heavy cream and chocolate milk.  Ms. Fuldwider has also voted to let organic egg producers give their chickens just two square feet of living space, when Cropp requires its own farmers to provide five.
The chart below demonstrates the food industry's corporate ownership of "Organic" brands:

The danger of these strange food bedfellows is already becoming apparent.  In addition to the concerns I mentioned above, organics watchdog group Cornucopia Institute regularly reports on the drawbacks associated with allowing big government and big business to influence organic food production.  For example, as the Institute recently reported, "Corporations Stab Organic Consumers in Back:"
Corporations owning some of the nation's most popular organic brands (Horizon, Silk, Kashi, Cascadian Farms, R.W. Knudsen's, etc.) have joined Monsanto and the biotechnology industry in fighting California citizen initiative, Proposition 37, that will mandate GMO labeling. And if we win in California, companies will then likely be forced to label GMOs nationwide.
In reality, this conundrum was inevitable.  When you allow the government to control and regulate food production (or anything, for that matter), you are asking for trouble.  The government took over, companies betrayed organic ideals, and Organic food offerings are now and will continue to be subject to whatever adulterations the NOSB, USDA and corporations deem appropriate.  Will we see an Organic future including factory farms and GMOs?  Really...what did we expect?  That a partnership with a government regulatory agency and its buddies wouldn't mean swallowing a bucket of compromises?  (Cautionary tale 101:  Beware making deals with the devil.)

The best way to guarantee you are feeding your family clean food, truly organic food, is to purchase food grown from farmers with whom you can build relationships...whose farms you can see...whose methods and practices you can question.  Their food need not be Certified Organic (approved by the infamous USDA) to be truly organic food.  In my experience, most food from local organic producers is cleaner than anything I can purchase in a store.  And the farmers care about their local reputation.  Often, to differentiate themselves from the Certified Organic crowd, farmers will call their offerings "beyond organic."  When they are genuine, the quality of their food exceeds what the USDA allows to pass as Organic.  To avoid the pitfalls of corporate Organics, buy from smaller producers who are accountable to you, their patrons.  

Sometimes we have no choice.  We all still must eat.  In that case, I recommend the supermarket USDA Organic foods over their conventionally produced cousins.  Certified Organic may not be perfect, may not be pure, may not be playing fair, but as far as we know now, it is less toxic than the non-Organic counterparts and is the healthier choice.

Certain problems associated with the "allowable" Organics standards affect processed food offerings.  If you are relying heavily on Organic processed and packaged foods, you should consider learning to prepare your own meals and snacks from scratch with Real Food components.  Blogs abound with recipes and instructions.  A steady diet of processed foods, even Organic, will not properly nourish you or your family.  The further you get from the genuine food article as it appears in nature, the less nutritious it is...and the more likely to be subject to additives, preservatives and ingredients that you cannot understand nor recognize, because they are not Real Food.  Nothing that is produced in a lab is Real Food...not even if the label says "natural."  Real Food grows out of the ground and from the animals that eat what grows out of the ground.  When we support the farmers who believe in and produce Real Food, we are supporting our health and our future well-being.

The USDA's Organic Deception

Discover What They're Hiding In Your Organic Food

Why One Organic Brand Is Refusing to Sell Out

Has Organic Been Oversized?

The Truth Behind Certified Organic

National List of Allowed Substances 

Pesticides and Chemicals Allowed in Organic Production

The Cornucopia Institute

Chlorine, Pollution and the Environment

Pandora's Poison:  Chlorine, Health and a New Environmental Strategy

My Raw Butter Comparison: Jersey vs. Guernsey

I have two local sources for grass-fed raw cow's cream.  One friend has a Guernsey cow, the other friends get Jersey milk from a local Real Food farmer.  We don't drink cow's milk, but adore and devour butter (because we're doing GAPS, the gut healing protocol, we only consume our goat milk in the form of naturally fermented yogurt...I love the villi starter from Cultures for Health).  I've been making raw butter with the cream for a while now, but it only occurred to me recently to compare my results with the two creams.  What I found was interesting, so I thought I'd share.

If you read about the differences between the Guernsey and Jersey breeds, you will see that Jersey's are known for their slightly higher butterfat content.  Guernsey milk, however, is higher in beta carotene, evidenced by its brighter golden color.  To my palette, which is fairly sensitive, the milks/creams are nearly indistinguishable.  I have read (see books below) that all unadulterated, grass-fed milks of cows, goats and sheep will taste pretty much the same (sweet and fresh, yum), and at this time, I concur.  Our browse-fed goats' milk tastes just as sweet and creamy as the grass-fed Jersey and Guernsey milks.

[Side trail:  The "goaty" flavor people say they don't like about goat milk products is the result of two things.  First, keeping a buck on the premises near the milking does taints the milk through the pheromone/hormone activity.  Second, goat's milk is naturally homogenized, making it oh-so-creamy, but when kept for more than a couple days, the fat will develop a "goaty" smell/flavor.  So, don't keep bucks, and don't keep your goat milk for more than two days before consuming or turning it into yogurt.  I have never had goaty milk; even after converting the milk into yogurt, it has not developed a goaty fragrance or taste.]

OK, back to butter.  I have done this experiment twice, with very similar results.  Drumroll, please......

I used the same amount of cream: 1/2 gallon.  I only measured the buttermilk from the initial pour off; I didn't weigh any of the "washing" liquid that removed the rest of the buttermilk from the butter.  See photos below for more details.  When I made the Jersey cream into butter, I ended up with more butter and less buttermilk than with the G cream.  The Guernsey cream produced less butter and more buttermilk than did the J cream.  The Guernsey butter is slightly more yellow.  I compared the final weights of the butters in bowls weighing the same and taring my scale.  The final photo is a comparison of the butters to some Kerrygold pasteurized butter.  The color variations are difficult to see in the photos, I apologize.  I can assure you that the Guernsey was a bit more yellow, not a lot, and both Jersey and Guernsey butters out-yellowed the Kerrygold.

Jersey butter and buttermilk

Jersey buttermilk at just over 20 oz.
Guernsey butter and buttermilk
Guernsey buttermilk at just over 24 oz.
Weighing Jersey butter: 14.3 oz.
Weighing Guernsey butter: 9.10 oz.

Color comparison. Top: Jersey, Left: Guernsey, Right: Kerrygold

So, for what it's worth, there's my little raw butter comparison experiment.  Of course, results will vary depending on your cream source and that cow's diet, the time of year, and other factors of which I'm probably ignorant, LOL.  In the end, I love all grass-fed raw butter and am thankful for the cream with which I make it.  I like testing out my own questions, like, "Does Jersey cream really give more butter than other breeds?"  In my analysis, the answer is yes.  Perfect "science?"  Probably not.  Do I care?  No.  Was it fun?  Absolutely!  I was able to question and compare, and we enjoyed eating the test subjects!  Try for yourself if you can.  

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