Report: Poultry Antibiotic Use Pervasive

In the wake of the Foster Farms salmonella outbreak, which sickened more than 600 consumers this summer, Reuters set out to take a closer look at the American poultry industry. The news organization sought to determine whether chicken producers are still using massive amounts of antibiotics, and whether this practice is creating virulent superbugs like those found in many of the infected Foster Farms broilers.

The results of the investigation are in, and the news is not good. “Major U.S. poultry firms are administering antibiotics to their flocks far more pervasively than regulators realize, posing a potential risk to human health,” their report begins. “Internal records examined by Reuters reveal that some of the nation’s largest poultry producers routinely feed chickens an array of antibiotics — not just when sickness strikes, but as a standard practice over most of the birds’ lives.

“In every instance of antibiotic use identified by Reuters, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called superbugs, bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people. Some of the antibiotics belong to categories considered medically important to humans. …

“‘These are not targeted uses aimed at specific bugs for defined duration. They’re multiple, repeat shotgun blasts that will certainly kill off weaker bugs and promote the stronger, more resistant ones,’ said Keeve Nachman, director of the food production and public health program at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.”

The industry discovered long ago that antibiotics not only can prevent certain illnesses among the flocks, but also that medicated birds get plumper faster than birds without prescriptions. And time is important for producers, who let their chickens live an average of six weeks before leading them to the slaughterhouse.

As the report notes, “Each year, about 430,000 people in the United States become ill from food-borne bacteria that resist conventional antibiotics, according to a July report by the CDC. Overall, the CDC estimates that 2 million people are sickened in the United States annually with infections resistant to antibiotics. At least 23,000 people die.”

In the case of the Foster Farms outbreak, “When epidemiologists examined 68 of the Salmonella Heidelberg cases linked to Foster Farms, they found that two-thirds of the bacteria were resistant to at least one antibiotic, according to the CDC. Half of these superbugs were impervious to drugs in at least three different classes of antibiotics.”

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Annie’s: The Newest Acquired Taste

Berkeley, California has never taken kindly to generals. For years, a bestselling T-shirt paraded by locals and earnestly pressed on tourists demanded, “U.S. Out of Berkeley!”

Things have mellowed a bit over the decades, as once-shrill counterculturists set out to build a shining nanny state on a hill. Berkeley’s city council, for example, now busies itself with ordinances requiring free medical marijuana for the indigent while banning that obvious gateway drug, the e-cigarette.

But this summer, Berkeley again heard the familiar drumming. The sixties were suddenly back; and although time had transformed youthful yippies into Lipitor Leninists, they rose defiantly from Barcaloungers to take a stand, or plan a sit-in.

The cause for this alarm was the news that General Mills had captured Annie’s Homegrown, one of the city’s iconic brands. It had all happened on something called the open market, where General Mills essentially waterboarded Annie’s CEO John Foraker into accepting $820 million for the natural food company. It was enough to give anyone a military-industrial complex.

The rioting that followed on Twitter and Facebook wasn’t pretty. The Tweets were so discordant that Foraker issued a statement to fans: “We’ve spent 25 years building trust with consumers, one interaction at a time. We will continue to do that. Count on it. I always ask people to listen to what we say, but more importantly, watch what we do! We will not let you down!”

Perhaps tellingly, the words of Generals Mills’ COO were far less stirring. “Annie’s competes in a number of attractive food categories, with particular strength in convenient meals and snacks — two of General Mills’ priority platforms,” he observed, clinically. “We believe that combining the Annie’s product portfolio and go-to-market capabilities with General Mills’ supply chain, sales and marketing resources will accelerate the growth of our organic and natural foods business.”

Foraker also insisted that “our mission, culture, and values and the things we stand for will remain the same.” But would it really? The track record for such deals isn’t encouraging. For example, Fortune magazine writer Dan Mitchell notes that fourteen years ago “Kellogg acquired Kashi, the once-beloved company best known for its natural cereals, and, over time, managed the brand to disaster.”

The degree of independence that a corporate parent allows its acquisition is key to the success or failure of these kinds of deals, Mitchell contends: “The ‘organic and natural’ category is burgeoning, while many mainstream categories — like breakfast cereals — have slowed or stopped growing altogether. But for many consumers, a big part of the appeal (perceived or real) of organic and natural brands is the independence (perceived or real) of the producer. Big food companies that acquire such producers must walk a fine line to maintain that image while extracting the maximum value from it.

“They have had mixed success, and the successes have often resulted from allowing acquired companies to go it alone to the extent possible. For instance, while a lot of people know that Ben & Jerry’s is owned by the giant Unilever, the brand is still largely thought of as independent, because in many ways, it is. Ben & Jerry’s takes the opposite side from Unilever on a host of issues, including GMOs.

“Its marketing is separate and distinct from that of other Unilever brands. Some ‘synergies’ might be lost, but the long run success of Ben & Jerry’s … has depended on the brand’s distinctive image.”

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Black Hawk Dow: The Organic Air War

Organic farms are under attack: By land and seed, and now by air. Aerial and ground sprayers that douse agricultural land with toxins are bringing the fog of war to organic growing fields across North America.

“Smaller farms are often islands surrounded by a sea of conventionally grown crops that get sprayed with herbicides, insecticides and fungicides,” reports Steve Karnowski in an Associated Press dispatch.

Traditional defenses don’t always work with these stealth attacks. “Any organic farm next to a conventional farm is at risk, so farmers typically have buffer systems, said Nate Lewis, senior crop and livestock specialist with the Organic Trade Association. There are as many buffer strategies as there are farms, he said. An organic apple orchard in Washington state could sell fruit from its first three rows of trees as conventional or Midwest corn and soybean farmers might just mow down their first few rows of plants. …

“But it’s hard for crop dusters to avoid vulnerable farms if they don’t know where they are. Enter DriftWatch, which Purdue University launched in 2008. Producers can register their farms, while applicators can check the website’s interactive map and sign up for email notifications. Twelve states and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan are part of DriftWatch, while Iowa and some other states maintain their own registries.”

A reformulated herbicide, based on the infamous Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, portends a dangerous escalation, Karnowski reports: “Organic farmers also worry about a new Dow AgroSciences weed control system awaiting federal approval called Enlist — partly because it uses 2, 4-D, an old herbicide that’s been prone to drift. Pesticide Action Network organizer Linda Wells said 2, 4-D is ‘notoriously volatile’ and particularly harmful to grapes and tomatoes.”

The justification for arming pilots with this more potent weapon: “Enlist kills weeds that are becoming resistant to glyphosate, better known as Roundup.”

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Incredible Longevity Secret Pocketed

At last, a politician with a proven record of bringing longevity to the masses. A leader who knows how to slow aging, and do it at an affordable price.

He’s the party boss who brings a clown to every party, while promising a textured chicken in every pot. That pickled politician is none other than … the Honorable Mayor McCheese.

The proof that the Mayor has discovered a veritable free-refill fountain of youth comes from a McDonald’s customer by the name of David Whipple, who forgot all about a hamburger he stuffed in his coat pocket in 1999. Fourteen years and a millennium later, Mr. Whipple rediscovered the pocketed snack, and found it had hardly aged at all.

This single recorded link between fast food and longevity was featured on the daytime television show, The Doctors, and is one of a long list of incredible food facts chronicled by writer Renee Jacques. Among other distressing findings:

“Wendy’s claims their chili has an ‘award-winning taste.’ Maybe that’s because it has silicon dioxide in it. Also known as silica, silicon dioxide can be found in quartz or sand. It also serves as an ‘anti-caking agent,’ allowing the chili to stay looking fresh. …

“David DiSalvo, a writer at Forbes, decided to really look into the eggs in popular fast food breakfast sandwiches. What he discovered was that their ‘eggs’ are really a strange concoction that includes eggs and ‘premium egg blend.’ Some things that are in this special blend include glycerin, a solvent found in soap and shaving cream, dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone that can also be found in Silly Putty, and calcium silicate, a sealant used on roofs and concrete. The age of just cracking an egg and cooking it has long since passed.”

And one more example of the Mayor’s commitment to an ageless community, his Enduring Freedom Fries: “McDonald’s and KFC fries were sealed in jars in 2008. … A little more than three years later and the McDonald’s fries show[ed] few signs of aging. Marion Nestle, chairwoman of NYU’s food studies program, told Salon that you can thank heavy servings of preservatives for that ageless quality. She said McDonald’s would have to use ‘a lot of sodium propionate to prevent bacterial or mold growth.’”

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Recipe: Sprouted Spelt Brownies

Mondays can be tough, but these rich little chocolatey treats will hopefully make the week a little sweeter.

Sprouted Spelt Brownies

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground One Degree Organics flax + 6 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup non-dairy butter (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray 6-7 muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl combine the ground flax seeds and water and set aside to thicken for approximately 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, melt the non-dairy butter. Add the cane sugar, vanilla, flax eggs, baking powder, salt and cacao powder. Whisk until combined. Gently fold in the sprouted spelt flour until combined. Add optional add-ins like chocolate chips or walnuts.

Scoop batter into muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Be careful not to overcook or the brownies will get dry and crumbly.

Remove from oven and let cool approximately 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container to keep moist.

Hospital Cultivates Healing Power of Food

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates famously advised. Now doctors who have always taken the great sage’s oath seriously are rediscovering the wisdom of that maxim.

The most refreshing new example comes from St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, which has partnered with the Rodale Institute to provide organic fruits and vegetables to patients, employees and visitors. Rodale is growing the produce organically on land adjacent to the hospital’s main building, making the food not just healthy, but also extremely local.

“Numerous studies prove that organic fruits and vegetables offer many advantages over conventionally-grown foods, such as: increased amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which reduce incidence of heart disease and some cancers; and a lowered risk of common conditions such as cancer, heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children,” Dr. Bonnie Coyle, St. Luke’s Director of Community Health, announced in a Rodale news release.

St. Luke’s President Ed Nawrocki added: “Working with the Rodale Institute to develop an organic, working farm onsite will allow St. Luke’s to continue providing patients with a holistic health care experience that creates a positive atmosphere for health and healing. By providing patients with locally-grown organic produce, St. Luke’s is showing a commitment to the environment and promoting the health of its patients and the community.”

According to Lynn Trizna, an organic vegetable farmer who will oversee the program, “The farm will act as an evolving model for institutions across the country as well as for farmers who have the knowledge but lack the resources to start their own farm. St. Luke’s Anderson Campus and the Rodale Institute are ‘planting a seed’ in sustainable and local food production.”

The new healthy offerings will include lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, Swiss chard, kale, garlic, cabbage, beets, potatoes, dill, cilantro, basil, sage and thyme, all grown on five acres of land or in an on-campus greenhouse. Planting began in April.

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Recipe: Maple Cinnamon Oat Crisp Ice Cream Sandwiches

Every time we make a batch of these delicate little crisps they rarely make it until dessert but are devoured straight out of the oven. On these hot summer days we’ve been making them into little ice cream sandwiches by adding a scoop of our favorite coconut ice cream in between two cookies. It is absolute perfection.

Maple Cinnamon Oat Crisp Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yield: 10-12 cookies

1 cup One Degree Organics Quick Oats
3 tablespoons One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Real Salt
4 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix together the quick oats, sprouted spelt flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spoon the batter on to the prepared cookie sheet and use the back of your spoon to flatten out each cookie until thin. Each cookie should be about 2 inches wide once flattened.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges. When warm they will be soft and will become crispier as they cool. Once cooled, put a scoop of your favorite ice cream in-between two cookies and enjoy!

Note: If you wish to prepare these ahead of time, just assemble the ice cream sandwiches and place in the freezer. Remove a couple minutes before serving.

Pollinator 2: Rise of the Machines

It’s a story we’ve seen before. Scientist dreams of building a better mousetrap. Experiment goes horribly wrong. Amid the wreckage, moderately chastened scientist seeks funding for Plan B: Build a better mouse.

In the world of biotech, the script is a studio favorite. GMO scientists’ better mousetrap was supposed to be genetically reimagined plants that could resist weeds and bugs. Now superweeds, superbugs and layers of chemicals coat North America’s agricultural landscape. This time Plan B has been offered by the British firm Oxitec, which is developing technology to genetically modify the insects themselves. These better bugs will roll their eyes at leafy greens and instead dine on other bugs.

This same plot line has now reappeared in a bee movie sequel. Man’s chemical inventions and habitat destruction have imperiled honeybee populations worldwide. The phenomenon is known as Colony Collapse Disorder, and a scientific remedy has so far been elusive. In this case, Plan B reads like brilliant satire, rather than an actual research program at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Create a better bee.

The Harvard team calls its invention the “RoboBee,” and several prototypes have already taken flight. “Inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second, the tiny device not only represents the absolute cutting edge of micromanufacturing and control systems; it is an aspiration that has impelled innovation in these fields by dozens of researchers across Harvard for years,” the researchers announced.

Team leader Robert Wood explained to Scientific American: “In 2009 [we] began to seriously consider what it would take to create a robotic bee colony. We wondered if mechanical bees could replicate not just an individual’s behavior but the unique behavior that emerges out of interactions among thousands of bees. We have now created the first RoboBees — flying bee-size robots — and are working on methods to make thousands of them cooperate like a real hive.”

“Most agree that saving honeybees is vastly preferable to replacing them but an interesting alternative is coming out of Harvard,” enthused National Geographic. “While RoboBee is still connected to a thin cable for power and lacking the in-development brain capable of performing bee-like behavior, its aerial launch was significant. … RoboBee’s complex flight mechanisms had to fit within a tiny and lightweight body suitable for flying and potentially carrying pollination loads or other items like video cameras. …

“Its creators have pointed to RoboBees’ uses outside of agriculture, such as in search and rescue missions; 10,000 RoboBees flying nimbly over a broad area could locate victims much more efficiently than human power.”

Ten thousand search-and-rescue RoboBees might very well prompt the reinvention of the family picnic, or turn a cartoon bear’s lifelong quest for honey into an apocalyptic nightmare.

As this story unfolds, one thing is sure: When drones literally become drones, mankind is really going to miss the bees.

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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: