Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Soda Tax?

A few days ago, Elana of Elana's Pantry, posted her initial reactions about Mark Bittman's Op/Ed piece in the NYT about a potential junk food tax, which you can read here. Well, the passions have flared! Currently, there are 162 comments, and they fall along very predictable party lines. Some are very adamant about the government not being in their pantry and others are all for it.

Where do I stand? I think it's a great idea, personally. I tend to buy more expensive sodas anyway, without the HFCS, and honestly, I don't do it that often. I would be happy to pay a bit more, particularly if that tax money were to go to something useful. Aha! But there's the rub. What about subsidizing vegetables? In theory, I'd be okay with that, if it means that families like the one featured in Food, Inc.(you know the ones...the family that can only afford to eat fast food dollar menu items, can't afford fresh produce, and are obese and on tons of medications as a result? Yeah, them) can actually afford REAL FOOD.

I have to say, I'm really surprised by how violently people reacted to the post, on the anti-tax side. the government is not going shopping with them, slapping their hands away; they would still have the freedom to choose Coke or Pepsi, but they'd have to pay a little more to do so, just like if they were buying a bottle of wine or a pack of cigarrettes.

Do I think the government has the best food policies as others feared? No. Do I wish we could just get rid of the USDA and the FDA? No, because I think they play important roles. We do need food and drug regulation. We just need to not have big corporations making all the rules for the government. It's them who I really have a problem with, not the government. Our government just needs a real backbone.

And anyway, it's been shown before that if soda's more expensive, people will consume less of it. That can't be a bad thing for anyone, right?

Part of this week's Fight Back Friday from Food Renegade!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nutrition IQ, eh? Ugh.

I walked into a Star Market yesterday for a quick snack. I ended up grabbing a Larabar. I love how few ingredients they have! This one was Peanut Butter Cookie, made of only dates, peanuts, and salt. Yum!

But that's not the point of this post. The point comes from the flier I picked up on my way out of the store, entitled Nutrition IQ. This system, found here:, was put together by the Joslin Clinic, which specializes in Diabetes research and care. Okay, fine and good; I'm sure it's well intentioned, but a few things just don't sit right with me.

First thing on the list? Whole grains, of course. Yes, they have B vitamins and minerals, but so do a lot of other foods, like milk, eggs, meats, and liver. If you want vegetarian sources of B vitamins, try mushrooms, for example. If you want to avoid grains, like I try to do, really, there is no problem getting B vitamins at all. And I eat plenty of veggies, so I'm not missing out on fiber. And for those who would still like whole grains in their diet, so be it, but cereal is as nutritionally sound as cardboard. get good soaked and sprouted grains if you really want to maximize the nutritional value.

A second problem I have is with the Vitamin A listing. They give fruits and veggies, tomato paste, pasta sauce, and salsa as good sources of vitamin A. But it's a misnomer. They are good sources of Beta Carotene and other plant carotonids, which the body is supposed to convert into Vitamin A.But the conversion rate is not wonderful, 12 mg of beta-carotene to 1 mg of Vitamin A, and that's supposed to be typical. Not everyone does the conversion that well. It's much easier to use vitamin A from animal resources, eggs and milk being on that list (raw milk and pastured eggs of course being the BEST sources!) And even better, the more beta-carotene you consume, the worse you convert it! Oops!

Yeah, I know people freak out about Vitamin A being toxic, but there is some evidence to suggest that if you are up on your vitamin D (which didn't even MAKE the Nutrition IQ list-oy!) then higher levels of Vitamin A are okay. They work synergystically. Amazing! See here:

My final issue is the emphasis on having low saturated fats. It's last on the list, but here's what they put for foods there: Salad Dressing, Non-fat Sour Cream, Crackers, Seafood, Tortillas, Pasta Sauce, and Popcorn. Add these to the repeated drivel of Lean Meats, and you have one unhappy TF blogger! Okay, so seafood is fine, but I bet the crackers, tortilla chips, and popcorn are surely going to raise triglyceride levels and lower the "good" cholesterol, HDL, so where's the benefit here? And Non-fat sour cream? Yuck! Get the good stuff with the full fat, and it'll be so rich you won't need all that much if you're that worried about your calorie counts.

So yeah, this is what is being passed off by the "experts." I know it's well-intentioned and all, but seriously? If I ate like this, I'd feel poorly really quickly.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maine, Raw Milk, and Me

My family and I took an epic ten day vacation in Maine earlier this month. I stayed at my grandparents' cottage in Franklin, Maine, up the coast apiece past Ellsworth and Bar Harbor.

Two very wonderful things about this area are the John Edwards Market (no, not THAT John Edwards), which you can see here at, and that there are two farmer's markets in Ellsworth, one on Saturday in town, and one on Sunday at the Black House.

I forgot to mention that Morton's Moo in Ellsworth has FANTASTIC ice cream! I think we went just about every day. I *wsh* my local ice cream people had ice cream anywhere near as good.

Okay, now to the raw milk. At John Edwards, I could walk in, get a jug of raw milk from one of two farms, and pay for it. No questions asked. No paperwork to fill out. No video on the potential harm it could cause me (yeah, right). And oh my gods, is it good. My husband and daughter loved it! My husband even said that he didn't feel bad after drinking it, which is what happened even with the non-homogenized but pasteurized stuff. So raw milk from now on for our family. I wasn't chickening out before because I was afraid of getting sick. I was chickening out because I wanted to make sure we liked the stuff, especially if I'm going to pay $9 a gallon! So anyway, I'm glad I finally took the plunge because it's so worth it.

After we got home, I decided to take my family to our local source of raw milk, Eastleigh Farm. I had to fill out a waiver saying I understood the "dangers," and was taking personal responsibility if I get sick. I understand that they had to do that to satisfy the local government, but seriously? I think there are more dangers buying conventional spinach at the grocery store or a box of Twinkies. Now, I'm a big fan of government regulation-I am not a Libertarian, by any means-but because I think the government is focused on the wrong priorities when it comes to food, I can sympathize. And why is the government focused on the wrong things? because giant food corporations have a TON of money and powerful lobbyists. Real Food folks just don't have that kind of cash, and thus don't have the clout that they do. Sigh.

Where was I? Oh yes, raw milk is tasty, and is so much healthier for you than that dead stuff they sell in the supermarket. Don't believe me? Here's what Eastleigh farm has to say on all of the benefits, not just in terms of health:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When I get back from Maine....

I'll re-start this blog. In the meantime, I hope to eat lots of lobster with buttah. I cannot wait to get to the local farmer's market up there, and see what I find. I'll be sure to report.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

6 weeks coffee free! And a grain free cake recipe:D

So I made it to 6 weeks of being coffee free. And after the first couple of weeks where I felt less tummy distress, I thought that maybe I had found the answer. But I wanted to test what happened when I drank a cup of coffee to see if it was actually the cause of my woes. So last Saturday, I had a cup of some tasty Yirgacheffe, as it is less acidic than most. My dear husband tried some with me, even though he is not a coffee drinker in the least, just for solidarity.

And yeah, it did bother me, though not immediately like some yucky brews do, and certainly not as intensely as some. But it tasted so wonderful that I think that I will save it for special occasions. I will admit to having some leftover coffee on Sunday, but since then, I have not had any. Back to chai, tea, and hot chocolate for me. I've been skipping the Zevia sodas for now, as I read on the label that their caffeine comes from coffee. I'm trying not to risk the contamination. I have had some Mexican Coke that is being sold at my local Family Dollar, of all places.


I do love baking cakes and other pastries. I get it from my maternal grandfather, I think, who was a supermarket baker. So going gluten-free has been a challenge for me, but at the same time, it's a whole new world!

Tonight, as I will be having a guest for dinner, I'm making a sponge cake from the following recipe. I have never made it before, but my husband's grandmother has, and since she is also a pastry extraordinaire, I am taking it on good authority that it is delicious.
Potato Starch Sponge Cake

* 7 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups sugar, sifted
* 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
* 3/4 cup Manischewitz® Potato Starch, sifted
* Dash of salt


Separate six of the eggs. Beat the six yolks and the one whole egg until frothy. Gradually add sifted sugar, lemon juice and lemon rind; beating constantly and thoroughly. Then gradually add sifted potato starch, stirring constantly to ensure thorough blending. Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff but not dry. Fold gently but thoroughly into egg-yolk mixture. Place in ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) about 55 minutes or until cake springs back when touched gently with fingers. Invert pan and cool thoroughly before removing cake.

I am going to modify it with orange juice and orange rind, since that is what I have in the house. It should have the requisite acidity and great flavor, as I've made this sub before with other recipes. I'll post how well it worked after!

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesdays!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So much for grain free, but...

I have to admit defeat at staying grain-free. I just didn't have it in me to do it. I love corn and rice too much to do it, I guess. Maybe I will get back to that another time. I will say, however, that I have been very good at remaining gluten-free, and my tummy is thanking me for it.

However, I have managed to avoid a much bigger addiction: coffee. I have been free of coffee for almost a week and half now. I am not avoiding caffeine, mind you. Teas and chocolate are still a big part of my life, and I have to admit, Zevia sodas are, too. Just the coffee because I know that some do bother my system more than others. So this is a test, just for now, especially after I saw this article:

Honestly, I think avoiding the coffee has been great for me. I feel less bloated now, and my system is much calmer, so perhaps I do have a gluten cross-reaction with coffee.

I just hope I don't have to give anything else up...

What have your experiences been with food intolerances, and how do you handle it?