Recipe: Oat Waffles

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but usually ends up being the most hurried meal as we rush off to our busy day.

This is an easy waffle with only six ingredients, and has been a loved staple at my mother’s breakfast table for years. It is really just the base for many creative variations and toppings. Fresh fruit, maple syrup, apple sauce and cinnamon, a little sprinkle of coconut palm sugar or perhaps a drizzle of chocolate? A breakfast fit for a king.

Oat Waffles

2 cups One Degree Organic Foods Quick Oats
2 cups water
1/2 cup cashews (or nuts of choice such as walnuts, almonds, pecans)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Medjool dates

Preheat waffle iron. Place all ingredients in the blender and process until very smooth.

Once waffle iron is ready, coat with non-stick cooking spray if needed, and pour on about 1 cup of batter (the amount needed will vary depending on the size or shape of your waffle iron). The batter will thicken as it sits, so add a little more water if needed.

Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions and then remove and place on a baking rack.

Serve immediately with desired toppings, such as fresh fruit and maple syrup.

Store leftover waffles in a freezer-safe bag and reheat in the toaster for best results.


These waffles are excellent frozen and can be toasted up as needed. I like to split mine in half and heat in the toaster until warm.

Premiering Now: Memories of Maple Syrup

One Degree’s newest film begins in a peaceful Quebec maple grove, where each spring trees planted generations ago faithfully decant the purest organic maple syrup in the world.

In the village of St. Victor, the Bernard family has been collecting syrup from the majestic maple trees since the early 1800s. As nature’s chalk pastels color each charcoal-sketched landscape, sap begins to run within the ancient trunks. Responding to the movement of the trees’ internal clock, local farmers parade into the groves like figures in a diorama, ready to pierce the bark with taps that will collect the sap over a period of six weeks.

For the Bernards, syrup is a tradition so deep that maple trees and the family tree and completely intertwined. “If you come here you’ll see about 40 people working at the company and 20 are from the Bernard family,” Martin promises. He’s the grandson of the patriarch who first commercialized what had essentially been a family avocation. “We make sure to have a member of the family in each department to make sure everything is produced exactly. It’s a great pride for us. We really enjoy to do it — it’s not only a business for us, we have been born and raised to do this. It would be hard to live without maple syrup — it’s all our life.”

The family company, Les Industries Bernard & Fils Ltée (Bernard & Sons), has become world famous for the quality of the exquisitely slow nectar the trees create as they shiver through the blanching gusts of winter. The key to maintaining this high standard, says Martin, is a system that ensures the integrity of each unit sold: “If we produce one million bottles, the first bottle and the last bottle should be exactly the same in terms of taste and consistency.”

Choosing organic syrup is an important way for a consumer to know that the product contains none of the high fructose corn syrup, gums, artificial flavors and other questionable ingredients common in mass-market table syrup. Bernard & Sons’ pure organic syrup traces a direct route from maple forest to morning flapjack, rather than the opaque path through global chemical labs and warehouses favored by the industry’s familiar plastic matrons, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth.


“We focus on how it is made — it is almost handmade — no preservatives added, and we focus on the taste,” says Martin. “It’s probably the best sweetener you can use, the most natural one. And it’s a special taste you will only find with the real maple syrup.”

We invite you to spend some time in St. Victor, sharing in the peace of Quebec’s quiet maple groves. Begin your visit with the 30-second preview below. Then enjoy the full-length video on our Web site:

Grain Futures: The Coming Nutrient Crash

“Less nutritious grains may be in our future,” warns the headline of a recent National Public Radio story.

NPR’s Dan Charles explains: “In the future, Earth’s atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are reporting that some of the world’s most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.”

Future grains may be nutrient-poor, but the irony will be rich: Harvard researchers found that in environments with higher carbon dioxide concentrations, crops actually grow faster and yields increase by as much as 10 percent. But it is this accelerated growth that may account for a dilution of nutrients within a plant.

The study was led by the Harvard School of Public Health using so-called “free air carbon dioxide enrichment” (FACE) technology which involves the placement of “rings of carbon dioxide jets” in open fields. “These jets release just enough carbon dioxide to simulate the atmosphere that crops will almost certainly experience 40 to 60 years from now,” says NPR.

“The researchers tested the nutrient concentrations of the edible portions of wheat and rice (C3 grains), maize and sorghum (C4 grains), and soybeans and field peas (C3 legumes),” adds the Harvard Gazette. “The results showed a significant decrease in the concentrations of zinc, iron, and protein in C3 grains. For example, zinc, iron, and protein concentrations in wheat grains grown at the FACE sites were reduced by 9.3 percent, 5.1 percent, and 6.3 percent, respectively, compared with wheat grown at ambient CO2. Zinc and iron were also significantly reduced in legumes; protein was not.

“The finding that C3 grains and legumes lost iron and zinc at elevated CO2 is significant. [Lead author Samuel] Myers and his colleagues estimate that 2 billion to 3 billion people around the world receive 70 percent or more of their dietary zinc and/or iron from C3 crops, particularly in the developing world, where deficiency of zinc and iron is already a major health concern.”

Discover more here:

Runoff Breeds Lake Erie Toxins, Eerie Fish

Two stories in the news this month highlight the ecological dangers of non-veganic fertilizer, as agricultural runoff poisons the drinking water supply of one midwestern city while creating a new breed of “intersex” smallmouth bass in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Algae blooms in Lake Erie, fueled by phosphorus from conventional and organic farms, have introduced toxins into Toledo, Ohio’s water supply, leading to a complete ban on use of tap water. Not even boiling can make this contaminated water drinkable.

According to the Associated Press: “Researchers largely blame the algae’s resurgence on manure and chemical fertilizer from farms that wash into the lake along with sewage treatment plants. …

“Environmental groups and water researchers have been calling on Ohio and other states in the Great Lakes region to drastically reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing into the lake. Ohio lawmakers this past spring took a step toward tackling the algae problem when they enacted a law requiring most farmers to undergo training before they use commercial fertilizers on their fields. But they have stopped short of mandating restrictions on farmers.

“The International Joint Commission, an advisory agency made up of Canadian and U.S. officials, said last year urgent steps are needed to reduce phosphorus applied to fields, suggesting among other things that states ban the spread of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground.”

Meanwhile, on the East Coast similar agricultural runoff is giving smallmouth bass an identity crisis. As Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears describes it: “In the latest study, smallmouth bass and white sucker fish captured at 16 sites in the Delaware, Ohio and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania had crossed over into a category called intersex, an organism with two genders. …

“Since 2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have discovered male smallmouth and largemouth bass with immature eggs in several areas of the Potomac River. … In the newest findings, at one polluted site in the Susquehanna near Hershey, Pa., 100 percent of male smallmouth bass that were sampled had eggs.”

USGS biologist Vicki Blazer told the author: “[With the intersex bass] we keep seeing … a correlation with the percent of agriculture in the watershed where we conduct a study.”

The Post story reveals: “The fish that were dissected and analyzed by researchers swam downstream from farms and animal feed operations, where rains wash manure filled with various chemicals and hormones into streams and rivers. … In rural areas, natural animal hormones, much of it estrogen, is excreted in manure, which is spread on fields and washed into water by rain.”

Ominously, Blazer noted: “If we find these things in wild organisms, there’s a good chance they’re also affecting people.”

Discover more here:

Chickens Risk Necks in Climate Fight

In decades of debate about climate change, there have been more than a few dire scenarios promoted: In the 1970s an august news magazine forecast a new ice age. Twenty years later, politicians with PowerPoints warned that temperatures would soon skyrocket, cresting right around the time the Y2K bug would end air conditioning as we know it. But no one ever predicted this: Chickens without neck feathers.

Some scientists believe that only poultry shorn of nature’s silky neckwear will have the resilience to survive in the sweltering days ahead. As the planet bakes, broilers will need to stay cool.

Enter a biotech team from the University of Delaware, who journeyed to Africa two years ago in search of the unfashionable “naked neck chicken.” The research has now progressed from chicken to egg, as the group busily maps the African entrée’s genome. The goal, according to the Los Angeles Times, is to breed the open-collar chicken’s heat-tolerant traits “into industrially farmed poultry to make flocks more resistant to climate change.”

Once, hot chickens were found mostly in paper buckets or tangy curries. But soon hot chickens will be everywhere, poultry climatologists say. And that is why science needs to build a better bird.

Carl Schmidt, leader of the Delaware research team, argues that the genetically stir-fried chicken of the future is really just part of a normal progression. For example, a contemporary supermarket broiler is about twice the size of what is now considered a “heritage” chicken from the 1950s. The gene mapping of today is simply a more efficient way to speed up the cross-breeding that farmers and the industry have long used to create hardier varieties, Schmidt contends. He predicts millions of bare-necked birds in North America within 15 years.

And yet, if by 2029 Time magazine has once again begun warning of a coming ice age, all bets will be off. Researchers may cross the tundra in search of that rarest of nature’s prizes: Chickens bundled in ultra-chic fleece mufflers.

See more here:

Kids Overdosing on Fortified Cereals

“When a consumer picks up a box of cereal covered in cartoon characters that is clearly marketed to children and sees that one serving provides 50 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A, she may think that it provides 50 percent of a child’s recommended intake,” reads a new report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “She would most likely be wrong. If the label has the signature small-print phrase, ‘Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet,’ that means that the nutrition label is based on the adult Daily Values.

“Moreover, for vitamin A, zinc and niacin, the numbers described by FDA as ‘Daily Value for adults and children 4 or more years of age’ actually exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for children 8 and younger.”

EWG’s comprehensive study of vitamin-fortified foods shows that pumped-up cereals and snack bars are putting kids’ health at risk. Excessive amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin A, zinc and niacin, can damage a child’s organs and internal systems. The concentrations of synthetic nutrients added to breakfast products are being formulated not for a child’s health needs, but rather for the needs and wants of the marketing department.

Large cereal manufacturers have learned the profitable lesson that putting health claims on a box will deflect a consumer’s attention from the sugary, artificial content within. “Any health or health-like claim on a food product — vitamins added, no trans fats, organic — makes people believe that the product has fewer calories and is a health food,” New York University professor of nutrition Marion Nestle explains in the report.

Citing results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, EWG notes that “with the exception of vitamins D and E and calcium, dietary deficiencies of vitamins and minerals are rare among children 8 and younger in the United States. For young children, the problem is the opposite — the risk of too much intake of some nutrients from fortified foods and supplements.

“One recent study by a joint research team of the National Institutes of Health and California Polytechnic State University found that children younger than 8 are at risk of consuming vitamin A, zinc and niacin at levels above the Institute of Medicine’s Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The study found that from food alone, including naturally occurring and fortified sources, 45 percent of 2-to-8-year-old children consume too much zinc, 13 percent get too much vitamin A and 8 percent consume too much niacin. …”

“A number of factors make children’s excessive intake of vitamin A, zinc and niacin a health concern: 1) These micronutrients are present naturally in food and are also added to many foods children and toddlers eat, including milk, meat, enriched bread and snacks. 2) Many cereals and snack bars are fortified at levels that the FDA considers high, exceeding the amounts children need and in some cases exceeding the safe upper limits for young children in a single serving. 3) Intentional or accidental fortification ‘overages’ by manufacturers can make actual exposures
greater than the amounts indicated on the nutrition label. 4) Many children eat more than a single serving at a sitting because the serving sizes listed on many packaged foods do not reflect the larger amounts people actually eat. 5) A third of all children, and as many as 45 percent of the younger age groups, take dietary supplements.”

EWG concludes: “Excessive exposure to fortified nutrients is the result of unscrupulous marketing, flawed nutrition labeling and outdated fortification policy. The current nutrition labeling system puts children’s health at risk and is in dire need of reform.”

Read the full report here:

Transparency: The Key to Organic Integrity

When journalist Peter Laufer discovered his packet of Trader Joe’s organic walnuts originated in Kazakhstan, he began wondering about the story behind his unexpectedly exotic snack.

Why did the supply chain need to reach across the globe to a former Soviet republic, one famous for a thriving black market and a bureaucracy that retains a sentimental preference for propaganda over candor? Where in Kazakhstan was the walnut grove, who was the farmer, and how were the trees cultivated?

So many questions, and the answers were nowhere to be found — at least, nowhere on the label.

Laufer’s search for an honest walnut led to a newly-published book, “Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling.” More significantly, it led to his conclusion that an organic label is not always a guarantee of wholesome food — transparency is the indispensable complementary element.

In an interview with’s Lindsay Abrams, Laufer even suggests that consumers should ask food companies directly where their ingredients are from: “If they say ‘I’m sorry’ — as so many of them say — ‘but this is proprietary information,’ then that should throw up the red flag pretty high, because what have they got to hide?”

Transparency is the antidote to “the frailties of the [organic] certification process,” Laufer argues. “What I found shocking during [my] investigation was the lack of transparency and the opaque manner in which the certification companies operate. … To be considered organic, a third-party certifier certifies that the operation that’s creating the product is doing so according to the standards of the USDA and of the U.S. government.  The rigor of those inspections differs case by case — that’s one problem.

“Another problem is that certification is a business. And so the potential for conflict of interest is huge, since the outfit being certified is paying for that certification in a competitive market. By definition, that puts the certifier in a position of being concerned about keeping the job.

“The third of three really big problems with the certification process is that so much food now is in the globalized food chain, so from a U.S. point of view, food is coming in certified organic from all over the world, and these certifiers, that are U.S.-based, rarely do that certification on-site. They shop it out to local certifiers. Definitions are different about what the regulations mean, and outside of the United States, unfortunately, the standards for honesty are not necessarily at the level that you and I may wish.”

Organic fraud is not simply an overseas phenomenon, however. Laufer cites an Oregon case in which a supplier labeled his conventional corn as organic: “He used fraudulent certificates, counterfeit certificates that he created from real ones, and it’s an example of how relatively easy it is for a crook to take advantage of the system. We don’t know how often it happens, in part because the inspection system is understaffed and we have something like $28 billion worth of organic food being traded annually at this point in the U.S. and about 28 employees in the National Organic Program to handle investigations of such certificates.”

Laufer discovered the truth that only transparency of information, coupled with a consumer’s actively inquisitive mind, can provide the proper level of reassurance that our food is safe, healthy and genuine. Or as a Supreme Court justice once observed: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Read more here:

Consumers Want to Believe “Natural” Labels

A new survey by Consumer Reports shows that consumers are incredible idealists in the grocery store, at least when charmed by the promise of “natural” on food labels.

Although “natural” is more of an ad agency term of art than a reflection of reality, buyers desperately want to believe the word stands for something. Fifty-nine percent seek out products that carry the “natural” label, most of them believing the food within has been produced in a healthy, conscientious and sustainable way.

Of those surveyed, more than 80 percent percent say “natural” should mean no pesticide use, no GMOs and no artificial ingredients of any kind. Huge majorities also indicate they believe the definition of “natural” should include supporting family farms, protecting the environment, reducing use of antibiotics in animals, and promoting fair conditions for workers.

The Consumer Reports survey demonstrates that consumers have an almost limitless appetite for honesty, fairness and transparency:

Fair Trade: “About 80 percent of consumers will pay more for fruits and vegetables produced by workers under fair wage and working conditions; and about one-third of consumers would even pay 50 cents or more per pound.”

Animal Welfare: “The majority of consumers think the humanely raised claim on eggs, dairy and meat should mean that the farm was inspected to verify this claim (92%), the animals had adequate living space (90%), the animals were slaughtered humanely (88%), and the animals went outdoors (79%). Currently, the ‘humanely raise’ label does not require that the farm was inspected, and there are no standards for ensuring animals had adequate living space, were able to go outdoors, or were slaughtered humanely.”

Antibiotics: “While nearly 7 out of 10 Americans (65%) correctly think the ‘raised without antibiotics’ means that no antibiotics were used; a sizable portion (31%) of consumers mistakenly think this label means no other drugs were used in addition to antibiotics. In addition, if an animal was routinely given antibiotics, the vast majority of consumers (83%) demand that the government require that this meat be labeled as ‘raised with antibiotics.’”

GMOs: “Nine out of 10 Americans think that before genetically engineered (GE) food is sold, it should be labeled accordingly (92%) and meet long-term safety standards set by the government (92%). Similarly, nine out of 10 of Americans specifically agree that the government should require that GE salmon be labeled before it is sold (92%). In addition, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers say that it is crucial for them to avoid GE ingredients when purchasing food.”

Organic: “Nine out of 10 consumers demand that the ‘organic’ label on packaged or processed foods should mean no toxic pesticides were used (91%), no artificial materials were used during processing (91%), no artificial ingredients were used (89%), and no GMOs were used (88%).”

Country of Origin: “Nine out of 10 Americans want food labels to reflect country or origin (92%) and want to know if their meat is from outside the U.S. (90%).”

More here:

Study Proves Organic Antioxidant Benefits

Organic fruits and vegetables are richer in antioxidants and carry far fewer traces of pesticides and other toxins than conventionally-grown produce, according to new research by scientists at Newcastle University.

The findings have agitated the agribusiness lobby, which claims antioxidant content is not very important, and that any differences in concentrations of polyphenolics and other antioxidant plant compounds are negligible.

The results will be hard to ignore, however. That’s because the study is the most comprehensive of its kind to date, based on analysis of data from 343 broadly-accepted related studies from around the world.

As Patrick Sawer reports in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper: “The international scientific team behind the research suggests that switching from regular to organic fruit and vegetables could provide the same nutritional benefits as adding one or two portions of the ‘five a day’ currently recommended. [The researchers] concluded that there are ‘statistically significant, meaningful’ differences between organic and conventional fruit and vegetables, with a range of antioxidants ‘substantially higher’ — between 19% and 69% — in organic.”

“The study, to be published next week in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition, also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops,” adds Tony Henderson, writing in northeastern England’s Journal paper. “Cadmium, which is one of only three metal contaminants along with lead and mercury for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels in food, was found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than those conventionally-grown.

“The study … also found that nitrogen concentrations were significantly lower in organic crops. Concentrations of total nitrogen were 10%, nitrate 30% and nitrite 87% lower in organic compared to conventional crops. The study also showed that pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in conventional crops than organic ones.

“Carlo Leifert, professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University who led the study, said: ‘The organic versus non-organic debate has rumbled on for decades now but the evidence from this study is overwhelming — that organic food is high in antioxidants and lower in toxic metals and pesticides. This demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals. … This study should just be a starting point. We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional crops, and now there is an urgent need to carry out well-controlled human dietary intervention and cohort studies specifically designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic food.’”

Reacting to the groundbreaking study, the head of Britain’s Soil Association told the Telegraph: “The crucially important thing about this research is that it shatters the myth that how we farm does not affect the quality of the food we eat.”

Discover more here:

Family Farms at Risk

The impulse to supersize farms is a worldwide phenomenon, according to a new report by the European nonprofit organization GRAIN. The trend has profound implications for the quantity, quality and character of the global food supply.

Data compiled by the United Nations show that 70 percent of the world’s food still comes from small family farms. But the number of such farms is in steep decline almost everywhere. Giant agribusinesses, wealthy plantation owners and oppressive elites are pushing small farmers onto slivers of land and seizing the richest soil for themselves. These family farmers, leading increasingly hardscrabble lives, now control less than a quarter of the world’s farmland.

As John Vidal explains in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper: “The [GRAIN] report suggests that the single most important factor in the drive to push small farmers onto ever smaller parcels of land is the worldwide expansion of industrial commodity crop farms. ‘The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing,’ it says. The land area occupied by just four crops — soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane — has quadrupled over the past 50 years. …

“The concentration of land ownership is seen on every continent. Argentina lost more than one-third of its farms in the two decades from 1988 to 2008. Between 1997 to 2007, Chile lost 15% of its farms with the biggest farms doubling their average size. … The United States has lost 30% of its farms in the last 50 years. …

“The report also found that small farmers are often twice as productive as large farms and are more environmentally sustainable. ‘Although big farms generally consume more resources, control the best lands, receive most of the irrigation water and infrastructure … they have lower technical efficiency and therefore lower overall productivity. Much of this has to do with low levels of employment used on big farms in order to maximize return on investment. … Beyond strict productivity measurements, small farms also are much better at producing and utilizing biodiversity, maintaining landscapes, contributing to local economies, providing work opportunities and promoting social cohesion, not to mention their real and potential contribution to reversing the climate crisis.’”

Read the full report here: