Nature’s Corn Returns to the Heartland

In a place that has become the global capital of GMO monoculture — with 97 percent of soybeans and 95 percent of corn grown from genetically modified seeds — farmers are rediscovering the virtues of a plant variety whose most compelling “trait” is its natural purity.

Across the American heartland, “the burgeoning interest in non-GMO foods has increased how much [farmers] get paid to grow crops in fields once populated exclusively with genetically modified corns and soybeans,” reports the Des Moines Register. “The revenue hike is a welcome benefit at a time when lower commodity prices are pushing farm income down to what’s expected to be the lowest level in six years. …

“Tim Daley, an agronomist at Stonebridge Ltd., said the Cedar Falls company is getting flooded with calls from income-hungry farmers all over the Midwest looking for crops such as non-GMOs that could pay them a premium for their corn and soybeans.

“Recently, a farmer growing a non-GMO soybean crop could get as much as $2 a bushel for soybeans and $0.35 a bushel for corn over the market price. Daley estimated growers could save $150 for each bag of corn seed they buy that lacks the traits embedded in genetically modified crops, a difference that could help a farmer reach profitability.”

As one Iowa farmer told the paper: “We never really thought we would go back to [non-GMO corn]. But the consumer, in my opinion, has sent a clear message that a certain percentage of our customers are willing to pay more for the non-GMO lines. This non-GMO thing has seemed to take hold and gain a lot of traction.”

Despite greater interest among farmers, demand is outstripping supply. Earlier this month Bloomberg News reported: “A growing demand for organics, and the near-total reliance by U.S. farmers on genetically modified corn and soybeans, is driving a surge in imports from other nations where crops largely are free of bioengineering.

“Imports such as corn from Romania and soybeans from India are booming, according to an analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Penn State University.”

Coffee is the number one imported organic food item. “Soybeans are the second-biggest U.S. organic import, with $184 million shipped last year. India is the No. 1 source, followed by China. For corn, with overall sales of $35.7 million in 2014, Romania is the biggest seller to the U.S., followed by Turkey, the Netherlands and Canada.”

Discover more here: http://dmreg.co/1cIIH1b

Next: Generic GMOs

Global agriculture is about to be transformed by a new type of GMO — generic varieties that are no longer owned by the conglomerates that created them.

Over the next few years, patent protection will end for some of the earliest GMO seed inventions. The first GMO emancipation happened just last month, as genetically modified soy exited the Monsanto corporate dungeon, where scientists and doctors of jurisprudence had kept it under jealous guard for two decades.

Just as generic medicines ultimately drive down costs and ignite greater consumption in the market, generic GMOs can be expected to proliferate across agricultural landscapes, putting new pressure on organic farms.

In a piece for the Global Literacy Project, journalist Rebecca Randall notes that biotech giants have “gone to great lengths to assert their intellectual property right, earning them a notorious reputation. Monsanto has sued 140 farmers for saving Round-Up Ready soybeans. … It is this kind of the concentration of corporate power in the food system that activists decry. So, now that the first GM seed is off patent, what does that indicate for the future? …

“Ramez Naam, a computer scientists and futurist, wrote rather positively about the potential for open source biotechnology as GM traits go off-patent: ‘I believe this is the beginning of a new era in genetically modified crops, one of much more diversity as the cost of research drops, as more work is done by non-profits, and as more and more patents expire.’ He predicts a biotechnology revolution that hinges not on monopoly but on open competition that will help spur more and more GM foods.”

Although the dawn of generic GMO seeds is stirring talk of new open-source varieties that could be replanted at will by farmers, a more likely outcome is the growth of mini-Monsantos, smaller R&D operations that use the expiring patent technology to market cheaper GMO seeds that are coated with their own hardened legal protections.

“Open source still has a chance with vegetables, but our window is only as long as the bottleneck at the patent office,” University of Wisconsin geneticist Irwin Goldman told the author. “It could be a matter of less than a decade before what has happened with corn happens with crops like carrots and onions.”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1OaUyG7

Recipe: Sprouted Khorasan Banana Chia Bread

 

This bread is loaded with chia seeds and the rich flavor of bananas. It makes a wonderful healthy breakfast treat! Eating only one slice is almost impossible!

 

SPROUTED KHORASAN BANANA CHIA BREAD

Yield: 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups One Degree Organics Sprouted Khorasan Flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

2 large, ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon

3/4 cup almond milk

1/3 cup chia seeds

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sprouted khorasan flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, mashed bananas, and almond milk.

Slowly add the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently fold in the chia seeds. Add more almond milk, a tablespoon at a time if needed.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Let cool before removing from pan and slicing.

Enjoy!

 

Whole Grains: Food for Thought in MIND Diet

Whole grains star in a new diet that researchers say may offer powerful protection against Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the March issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, an epidemiological team led by Dr. Martha Clare Morris of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center describes how its brain-healthy food pyramid cut Alzheimer’s risk dramatically — “as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well,” according to Science Daily.

Dr. Morris calls this age-defying regimen the MIND diet. As an acronym within an acronym, the name itself is a formidable test of cognitive skill: Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

“The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke,” Science Daily reports. “Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.

“In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.”

Whole grains are a vital part of the recommended menu: “The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 ‘brain-healthy food groups’ — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil … and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

“With the MIND diet, a person eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day … snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. However, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD.

“Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. ‘Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,’ Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.”

The benefits of following MIND are based on growing evidence that “what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t,” according to Dr. Morris. In addition, “it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD. … As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said, ‘You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.’”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1Ovsafu

Interpol Fights Global Wave of Fake Food

Investment bankers fleeing in gilded yachts at full throttle have been there. Revolutionaries, drug kingpins and gunrunners have dreamt of a top spot. Interpol’s most-wanted list, also known as the “red notices,” is the place to be for master criminals aspiring to international legend, or bejeweled con artists hoping to stay one step ahead of collapsing Ponzi schemes.

Now the storied police agency is fighting to contain a new and increasingly sophisticated challenge to the global order — the trafficking in fake food, and the clear danger it presents to consumer safety. Earlier this year, Interpol launched coordinated worldwide raids that resulted in the seizure of 2,500 tons of counterfeit food in 47 countries.

The criminal activity ranged from low-level graft to mass-production of incredibly toxic grocery products masquerading as recognizable brands. “At an Italian cheese factory, officers found expired dairy and chemicals used to make old cheese seem fresh,” Time magazine reported. “They also found that mozzarella was being smoked in the back of a van with burning trash as a heat source.”

Interpol described another Italian raid that netted 31 tons of dated seafood that was marketed as fresh “but which had been frozen before being doused with a chemical substance containing citric acid, phosphate and hydrogen peroxide to make the catch appear freshly caught.”

In Britain, one discovery left some chronically horizontal drinkers shaken and stirred: “Of the nearly 275,000 litres of drinks recovered across all regions, counterfeit alcohol was among the most seized product, including in the UK, where a plant making fake brand-name vodka was raided,” Interpol revealed. “Officers discovered more than 20,000 empty bottles ready for filling, hundreds of empty five-litre antifreeze containers which had been used to make the counterfeit alcohol, as well as a reverse osmosis unit used to remove the chemical’s colour and smell.”

Michael Ellis, a career Scotland Yard detective who now heads the agency’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit, put the issue in stark terms during a recent interview with Britain’s Business Reporter: “There are people out there who do not care, they have no concern at all for the impacts further down the chain — all they want is that money. … There are hugely organised elements to this criminal activity, which generate huge funds for organised crime gangs and politically subversive groups. …

“You and I could go into a shop and buy fake alcohol without knowing it. If you are lucky you will go blind. If you are lucky you will get kidney failure. If you are unlucky you will die.”

Discover more here: http://ti.me/1vD8daY

Food Safety the Focus of World Health Day

Globalization has created some intriguing new commercial realities. Your luxury American sedan may have been assembled in Mexico, that Swedish bookcase with its cryptic instruction booklet and single bronze-age tool was crafted in Malaysia, and the cod you remember from yesterday’s meal swam carefree in the Atlantic one morning, only to be diced into a can at a Chinese processing plant by evening.

This week, the World Health Organization reminds us that a variety of pathogens, chemicals and mystery contaminants travel these same international supply routes, importing themselves wherever greed compels it, and lax enforcement allows it. The organization has dedicated this year’s April World Health Day to the issue of food safety. “From farm to plate, make food safe,” urges a WHO news release.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan observes: “Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals. A local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency. Investigation of an outbreak of foodborne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries.”

“New data on the harm caused by foodborne illnesses underscore the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain,” says WHO.

In particular, research compiled by the organization shows that “there were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne enteric diseases and 351,000 associated deaths” worldwide in 2010. “The enteric disease agents responsible for most deaths were Salmonella Typhi (52,000 deaths), enteropathogenic E. coli (37,000) and norovirus (35,000).” Significantly, “over 40% of people suffering from enteric diseases caused by contaminated food were children aged under 5 years.”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1NDyMFr

Organic Benefit: Lower Cadmium, Longer Life

Scientists sifting through the data generated by last year’s landmark organic food study have found an unexpected health benefit from consumption of produce grown without chemical fertilizers: lower mortality linked to reduced exposure to cadmium.

“For years, nutritionists and consumers have struggled with the question, ‘is organic really better?’” notes Dr. James J. DiNicolantonio, research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. “What analysis of this research reveals is that, due to the serious health impacts of cadmium exposure and the markedly lower levels of cadmium in organically grown foods, the long-term consumption of such foods is likely to be notably protective with respect to a wide range of common pathologies.”

Dr. DiNicolantonio contributed his analysis to the British Journal of Nutrition, the periodical that published the 2014 Newcastle University study that demonstrated organic fruits and vegetables are richer in antioxidants and carry far fewer traces of pesticides and other toxins than conventionally-grown produce.

Cadmium is one of those toxins identified in the original study, and the fact that organic produce was found to contain just half the cadmium of conventional vegetables and grains is significant, according to DiNicolantonio and co-author Mark F. McCarty.

“Scientists have long recognized the dangers of cadmium (Cd) exposure to the human body,” DiNicolantonio writes. “This heavy metal is emerging as a major cause of vascular disorders, common cancers, osteoporosis, and kidney disease, and can also cause damage to the body’s reproductive and neurological systems. While tobacco smoke can be a significant source of exposure for smokers, the primary source of cadmium exposure for nonsmokers is through consumption of contaminated plant-based foods.”

According to a British Journal of Nutrition news release: “Citing previous studies, DiNicolantonio and McCarty suggest that Cd contamination of chemical fertilizers may be primarily responsible for the higher Cd content of conventionally grown foods. … By surveying recent epidemiological findings correlating body Cd levels with mortality risk, DiNicolantonio and McCarty estimate that consistent use of organic foods could result in a 20 percent reduction in total mortality.”

Organic produce provides a double vascular benefit, according to the Journal. Not only are cadmium levels substantially lower, but levels of protective antioxidants are higher: “The recent meta-analysis of organic foods also found that such foods tend to be about 30 percent higher in antioxidant phytochemicals, likely because many of these phytochemicals function to protect plants from pests; crops treated with pesticides may have less need for this protection. DiNicolantonio and McCarty point to research suggesting that higher dietary intake of polyphenolic antioxidants such as flavonoids may provide some protection to the vascular system.”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1Fhf4ee

Study Finds Virtues in a ‘Pro-Vegetarian Diet’

“A pro-vegetarian diet — one that has a higher proportion of plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods — is linked to lower risks of dying from heart disease and stroke,” the American Heart Association announced last month, reacting to the news that a large European study had reaffirmed the profound health benefits of plant-rich diets.

Researchers at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health followed the dietary practices of nearly a half million participants in 10 countries for more than 12 years. Those whose food sources were more than 70 percent plant-based were classified as “pro-vegetarian.” This group “had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who were the least pro-vegetarian,” the AHA reported.

According to study lead author Dr. Camille Lassale, “A pro-vegetarian diet doesn’t make absolute recommendations about specific nutrients. It focuses on increasing the proportion of plant based foods relative to animal-based foods, which results in an improved nutritionally balance diet.”

“Researchers scored participants based on the types of foods they ate,” the AHA noted. “Points were given for eating foods from seven plant food groups: vegetables, fruit, beans, cereal, potatoes, nuts and olive oil. Points were subtracted for five animal food groups: meats, animal fats, eggs, fish, and other seafood or dairy products.” Participants whose diets were less than 45 percent plant-based were assigned to the statistically unfortunate category of “least pro-vegetarian.”

The AHA concluded: “These findings are in line with the wealth of evidence on benefits of eating plant foods to prevent [cardiovascular disease]. The American Heart Association recommends following a heart-healthy diet, which could also be described as a pro-vegetarian diet. It is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, and nuts, low-fat dairy, beans, skinless poultry, and fish. It encourages eating foods low in saturated and trans fats and sodium, and limiting added sugars and red meats.”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1Do2PS7

WHO Shows Why to Avoid Glyphosate

The World Health Organization added its prestige to the debate over glyphosate this month, and in the process renewed fears that the widespread agricultural use of Monsanto’s GMO-tailored herbicide Roundup is a clear and present danger to public health.

“An international committee of cancer experts shocked the agribusiness world … when it announced that two widely used pesticides are ‘probably carcinogenic to humans,’” National Public Radio reported. “[WHO’s] well-respected International Agency for Research on Cancer published a brief explanation of its conclusions in The Lancet and plans to issue a book-length version later this year. The announcement set off a wave of feverish reaction, because one of these chemicals, glyphosate, is a pillar of large-scale farming.”

According to the panel’s summary, “The herbicide glyphosate and the insecticides malathion and diazinon were classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. The insecticides tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. …

“For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals. … Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.”

The report carefully defines the term “probably carcinogenic to humans”: “This category is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (called chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out. This category is also used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and strong data on how the agent causes cancer.”

The scientists took note of the connection between rising glyphosate use and the introduction of GMO crops. “Glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides. … The agricultural use of glyphosate has increased sharply since the development of crops that have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate.”

Monsanto, of course, is the biotech corporation that makes both Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate, and various genetically modified plants that can tolerate massive spraying of Roundup on fields.

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1x9hNIN

Recipe: Gluten Free Sprouted Brown Rice Carrot Cupcakes with “Cream Cheese” Lemon Frosting

The moist, sweet, and rich flavor of these cupcakes is highly addictive. Best enjoyed fresh and generously frosted!

GLUTEN FREE SPROUTED BROWN RICE CARROT CUPCAKES WITH “CREAM CHEESE” LEMON FROSTING

YIELD: 12 CUPCAKES

CUPCAKES

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (see below)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of clove

1 cup carrots, finely shredded

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup almond milk

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons One Degree Organics Flax Seeds, ground + 5 tablespoons water)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or lightly grease. Prepare the flax egg in a small bowl and let rest for approximately 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together the shredded carrots, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, almond milk and prepared flax egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix to combine. Fold in the walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 18 minutes, until fluffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest in the muffin tin for 15 minutes before removing from the tin to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before unwrapping or frosting.

FROSTING

1 1/2 cups vegan butter, chilled

2 cups organic powdered sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

5-6 teaspoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl and use a hand mixer. Mix until smooth and fluffy.

Add more powdered sugar to thicken, if needed.

GLUTEN FREE FLOUR BLEND

1 3/4 cup One Degree Organics Sprouted Brown Rice Flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour