Monday, June 30, 2014

OOooh Look, Pretty. Science, forever relying on shiny baubles to go forth. Now, weedkiller. OOooh, pretty!

Science pretty much has always relied on the natural tendency of humans to be attracted to pretty baubles and shiny new objects.  That is pretty much what science is all about, from explanations of natural phenomena to powered flight to the first vaccines to actual insertion of new DNA into living beings creating entirely new species with specific desired characteristics to the creation of superweeds resistant to all weedkillers.  Ooops, actually that last one was sort of an unintentional byproduct.  A rather unfortunate byproduct, one that was predicted by scientists and has come to pass with terrible consequences for agriculture.  And for the humans attempting to exist in a world where scientists believe themselves to be above the law and able to play god, they do both rather poorly.

The introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms was the huge shiny new bauble for the world to behold back in the nineties.  Look, pretty.  Crops that were able to withstand herbicides and actually grew their own insecticides within their very structure.  How could the world not be excited by them.  GM crops, along with the master money maker Roundup, were the recipe for monetary success for the agrigiant Monsanto.  And later, a whole slew of up and coming pioneers in the business.  The problems were many, and although many scientists predicted what would happen, the shiny new baubles were the shiniest ever seen.  The gilded path to milk and honey, every mid-size farmer and CEO of giant agricultural conglomerates were just wetting their pants to get these new GM crops.  Monsanto promised higher yields, less spraying of herbicides and insecticides, and above all else, higher profits.

In reality, the GM model worked for a few years, according to the USDA the use of herbicides and insecticides went down in the years after 1996 when these new crops became available for commercial use.  However, the truth is that it only worked for a short while. As it turns out though, the scientists and CEOs of these new genetic companies are in fact trying to play god, and like so many shortsighted humans out there, that belief in god doesn't allow for them to consider the reality of nature and the simple fact that organisms evolve.  If you read my blog at all, you saw a couple days ago that science measures the ability to kill an organism using complicated risk assessment and the measurement of how much of a chemical it takes to kill 50% of a given population.  (my info on it)  It is used on mammals, insects, and weeds.  The reality here is that scientists can in fact make chemicals that have a death rate of 100%, it's just that they are so toxic, so dangerous, that they cannot be allowed into the environment, the result would be devastating.  That is sort of the reason that VF Nerve gas is under such total security, if released, thousands, maybe millions would be killed.  There is no LD50 for nerve gas.  But we do have one for things like Bt Toxin and Roundup.  The simple demonstration of the scientific principle of evolution tells us that if an insect or weed is not killed by the application of Roundup, or having eaten a plant that has Bt toxin in its cell structure, then those weeds and bugs that survived will reproduce and the resulting offspring will pass to their progeny that resistance to the toxins.  As the weeds with resistance reproduce and spread, humans do that which is most natural, they spray ever greater quantities of Roundup on their crops to combat the encroachment of now resistant weeds into their farmland.  The same with Bt toxin, once the insects that could eat corn with the toxin in its structure and survive and breed others with resistance, then farmers had to resort to spraying ever more toxic pesticides onto their farms. The result of that, honeybees all over the world are dying.

Those that believe themselves to be infallible, and godlike, seem to believe that this process, evolution, does not exist and cannot happen.  However they do seem to have at the ready, ever more toxic pesticides and herbicides available to sell to farmers to control the problem.  I think I should name this phenomena, I will call it, Agnostigodicism.  They think they are God, but just in case they are found not to be, they are ready to make money either way. 

The entire process in fact is all about profit for those holding the shiny new baubles.  (Whole enchilada)  This link takes you to info about GM crops specifically.  But for right now, let's not talk about how the manufacturers have never done any long term feeding studies to see if GM crops are safe, let's not look at how the scientists in Brazil have discovered that the Bt toxin in every GM crop is in fact toxic to humans, and not just insects; and let's not look at how Roundup residues on GM crops has been raised at the request of Monsanto in response to the need to spray ever more amounts to try and kill the superweeds and that the chemical has been shown to be extremely mutagenic and detrimental to human systems in spite of the assurances by Monsanto that those scientists claiming such are wrong, and their researchers are right and it is harmless.  Let's not look at all that stuff, let's just look at how Monsanto wants to introduce a new generation of GM crops that are resistant to Agent Orange, 2,4-D.  Agent Orange is far far more insidious than Roundup.  There are so many problems with the stuff, not just the horrific effects on humans that we are still dealing with from the Vietnam war, but just the fact that 2,4-D has a very HIGH propensity to drift up to a week after being sprayed on a crop and may drift in high winds up to THIRTY miles from the target field.  Can you imagine the scenario in this Des Moines Register article (DM Register) where some enterprising farmer spends about 10,000 dollars an acre to put in a hundred acres of grapes for wine making and some soy farmer sprays Agent Orange on his crop twenty miles away and it kills all of his grapes.  The very real possibility of this happening becomes ever more apparent when we realize that EVEN Agent Orange doesn't kill all the weeds, there is still that LD50 rate level that farmers are supposed to use.  And the same thing will happen as happened with Roundup resistant weeds.  Agent Orange resistant weeds will grow and spread, and farmers will spray ever more of the stuff on their fields just as they have been doing for the last ten or twelve years in response to weeds evolving into SUPERWEEDS.

Agnostigodicism, the belief that you, and all you do is inerrant and without fault.  But just in case you're wrong, then you are prepared for that, it isn't your fault either.  And you can make money the whole time.   How perfectly sublime the path to money is for some. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Ferment Your Bread

There have been a few questions asked of me about when I mention fermented bread products.  I guess they must mean the stuff that I make as I have not really seen anything about this process on the internet before.  There are of course lots of recipes for sourdough, but that is an entirely different process.  Generally sourdoughs are made using either wild yeasts or a purchased commercial starter culture which is then added to flour and water and allowed to grow.  This mix provides a true sour flavor to the finished product and also provides the leavening agent to give the bread the typical airiness and crumb texture we expect of bread.  This gives us a nice flavor, a firmer texture than non-sour breads, but does not actually give us what we really need, the neutralization of the lectins and phytates that are in wheat flour.  If we can get rid of those, then we are getting the nutrition available in good whole wheat without the anti-nutrient properties that the lectins and phytates possess. 

Fermented bread.  Start the night before you want to make the bread.  Grind your wheat into flour, or if you must purchase pre ground flour, then buy a variety packed in nitrogen such as King Arthur.  This allows greater nutrient density and less chance of the wheat germ having turned rancid from exposure to oxygen.  Now, take a 500 mg tablet of Vitamin C and crush it, dissolve it in 2 cups of water.  Add a half cup of plain Greek yogurt or Kefir.  Either one will give us the necessary bacteria to get our ferment going.  Now, add a half teaspoon of sea salt and turn on the mixer and add just enough flour to make a thick paste.  Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and then let it sit overnight, or at least 3 or 4 hours.  After having sat, then take a packet of regular yeast and dissolve it in a third cup of warm water.  Allow to sit a few minutes or until bubbly.  Dump it into the mixer along with a stick of butter or you can also use a half cup of olive oil.  Turn the mixer on slow and allow to mix until all is integrated.  If it is very thick and won't stay in the mixer bowl, add a bit of water.  If too thin, add just enough flour to where the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl.  Knead on low for ten minutes and then allow to rest.  Of course this so far did not have any added sugars, if you want honey added, do that the night before, but honey is only good if you are making a sweeter bread or cinnamon rolls.  No sweetener, and it does have a vaguely sour taste to it.  After an hour, the dough should be rising quite nicely.  Turn the mixer on again and now is the time to add dried herbs, cheese, olives or whatever.  Allow to rise again covered until double, then mix again and form loaves or rolls or roll it out flat to make cinnamon rolls or pizza.  The option to add all three above makes for a fantastic herbed olive cheese bread that is spectacular.  But just as easily you can dice some drained jarred jalapenos and some diced cheddar.  Or rosemary, cranberries and sunflower seeds.  Or oatmeal, and when the loaves or rolls are formed, brush with beaten egg and top with more rolled oats.  Or sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and lots of garlic and oregano.  Or, well, make something up. 

This is the basics, a quick recipe that in reality takes about thirty minutes of actual time, a few minutes the night before, then ten or so minutes each time doing the mixing, shaping and baking, all spaced out over a couple hours that you can do other things while it rests, rises and bakes.  I wrote a series of articles about making healthy foods, like wheat, healthier.  Here is the first in the series, the other five are here on the blog all in mid May.  (Healthy to Healthier

Sometime try reading the label on the bread you buy, then look up the things you can't pronounce.  You will be shocked.  Most of that stuff is toxic.  Bon apetite'

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Humans are pretty resilient, and difficult to poison, despite the FDA trying to kill us all off!!!

It takes a lot to kill someone.  Not just the psychological implications, but the actual process of taking a toxic substance, delivering a dosage of significant quantity and then allowing the human body to process the toxin, and expire.  It takes a lot, humans can withstand pretty significant doses of some pretty strong poisons before death.  Things that we know are poisonous, like lead, arsenic, mercury are pretty well resisted by the human body.  There are a lot of defensive mechanisms going on in the human body that help to prevent death.  Sure there are nasty things out there, serin gas, nerve gas, stuff that was specifically made by scientists to just out and out kill people, but today this little essay is about less exotic toxins, stuff we find every day in our environment, and worse, things that are added to our food supply.  And there are a lot of things added to our food supply. 

One of the ways that toxicologists measure how effective a chemical is at killing is the laboratory measurement of what is called the "LD50".  This is the specific dosage required to kill one half of a population within a given time frame.  One of the things that our government does is figure out how toxic some of the stuff we deal with daily can damage us.  That's done by the ATSDR which is part of the CDC, which is a small division of the Federal government.  (ATSDR Toxins)  If you go to this site, you can then go to individual toxins or to the human systems that are damaged by particular toxins.  At each of these pages, you can go to specifics about individual toxins and find all the pertinent info on how much it takes to kill 50% of various mammals, including humans, as well as what bodily systems are affected, and the big ones, the half life of the toxin within the body at specific doses.  That means how long a dose of toxin stays in the body using the half life formula, meaning after so many days the body neutralizes half of the toxin.  Interesting stuff, especially when you read that ethyl mercury, the kind that is used in vaccines has a half life of over a year and up to six times more of the ethyl (the kind manufacturers of vaccines claim is safe) ends up in the brain tissues of monkeys over the inorganic methyl mercury, which is the stuff you get from tuna and other seafood.  But that's another story, as we all are led to believe from the AMA, vaccines are not harmful.  This story, is about toxins in food. 

The most interesting thing about the ATDSR site is the relatively small size of the list of toxins that are there.  Not very many of them.  If you look at the FDA list of EAFUS, or the Everything Added to Food in the US list, which has over 10,000 entries, few are on ATDSR.  but then if you go to the EPA site, and look up those same chemicals, you will find that over 700 of them are listed with the EPA as Class II carcinogens.  I haven't done it, the EPA actually removed the individual chemical list detailing which are carcinogens from the web a few years ago, however they do still offer the complete list as a paper copy.  I don't have that kind of money, so I am just relying on what others have found with the EAFUS having 700 chemicals that are on the EPA as carcinogens.  Although Rutgers has a pdf of the older EPA list here (Rutgers)  Anyway, let's look at a  something, just for the fun of it all.  One of the reasons that I grind my own wheat and bake my own bread, (and have done so for the last forty years) is because of the huge list of toxic chemicals that have been added to the commercial bread to make it lighter, fluffier, whiter, and to mask the taste of other chemicals.  One of the newer toxins added to bread is Azodicarbonamide.  This stuff is an industrial plasticizer, it makes plastics used to make shoes, rubber mats and similar stuff, softer.  It does the same to bread, it makes it softer.  It is illegal to use in human food products in every other country in the world.  In the US, the FDA says it is okay to use.  However, the EPA has this to say about it.
This is kind of an anomaly, one division of the Federal Government telling us that one particular chemical is not approved for food use, and yet another giving the go ahead to food manufacturers to use it because it gives them an edge on the competitors by making their products lighter and fluffier. The scary part though is that the FDA does not even acknowledge the stuff is used in food production. Right there in the EAFUS, azodicarbonamide is defined as NIL, which the FDA defines as

NILAlthough listed as a added to food, there is no current reported use of the substance, and, therefore, although toxicology information may be available in PAFA, it is not being updated. 

I haven't figured that part out yet. It is listed as an ingredient on about 70% of commercially available bread products in stores. You can see the FDA designation here (FDA EAFUS)
So, what we have is the LD50 of azodicarbonamide as being > 6400 micrograms per kilogram of body weight.  (LD50 info)  And we also see that only about 70% of that which is ingested is excreted, this is from the (The National Toxicology Program)  And if we then go to see what the standard ingredient formulation for manufacture of bread, we see that using up to .0045% by weight as determined by the FDA (FDA on maximum usage)((any greater concentration will result in a metallic taste))((YUCK)) and if we then take the standard simple math and we go with a human male weighing about 180 lbs or about 81.6 Kilos that would then give us an LD50 for our average male of about 522,240 micrograms, or about .018 of an ounce.  If our very average male eats two slices of commercially made bread in the form of toast for breakfast, and has a sandwich for lunch; then that would be about 38 grams per slice, or around 152 grams, or about 5.4 ounces.  Of this, per manufacturers guidelines, and .0045% of that 5.4 ounces is azodicarboanmide would then be, .00024 ounces. If our average man is in fact average, he will excrete 70% of the chemical thus leaving behind in his system .000072 ounces.  If he eats that same amount of bread everyday for a year, he will have approximately .026 ounces in his body.  Now we know that the LD50 for azodicarbonamide is just .018 ounces.  Our average man on average, has over a fifty percent chance of being dead.  Scientifically speaking.  
Sure, there are a lot of variables, the rats they used for the feeding studies only had their urine and feces measured for two weeks to get the figure they derived of 70% excreted.  There is a very strong possibility that humans may excrete more over time, and we don't know exactly where the body stores the excess.  I mean other than the kidneys of rats blowing up with tumors in the studies.  And it is true that commercial bread where I got the weight information of 38 grams per slice (Sara Lee 12 grain) could be off by a lot, since bread isn't just flour, it is also some moisture, High Fructose Corn Syrup, sugar, yeast extracts, potassium sorbate, and well, you get the picture, you can read the label on your bread at home.  So if we just say that we cut the amount in half, that's still just slightly less than the LD50.And just because I truly believe that the human body is a miracle and works in ways that can't be explained, it is possible that a lot more than the 70% is excreted.  Some might be broken down slowly, and purged when our average man drinks to much and gets a bad case of the squirts.  Or who knows what else happens, but let's just say that our figures are too high by another 50%.  That leaves us .0065 ounces in his body after a year.  That's still 30% of a lethal dose for 50% of the subjects.  And if our average man is in fact average, azodicarbonamide is not the only toxic chemical that he is ingesting in his travels through the world of fast and processed food.

So maybe, just maybe, out average man out there is having some health issues, and no doctor can give him any worthwhile prognosis as to why. (Sheesh, that happened TO ME!!!!)  The thing is, that not very many doctors are trained that food is the root of most of the problems with the human body.  You see the human body is very resilient, and even though we poison it every single day with FDA approved toxins, we do hang on.  Remember that the measure of toxicity is LD50, the poison only kills 50% of the test subjects.  The rest hang on with a variety of failing systems and maladies. 

It is your life, how you live it, and what you choose to eat, is your decision.  The federal government allows food manufacturers to put poison in our food, but they don't make us eat it.  Yet.

Friday, June 20, 2014

More about Truvia, Nectresse, Ace-K, Aspartame, and all the other Toxins

One of the hardest things for the populace in this country to understand is the simple fact that the government whose sworn duty is to protect the citizens, no longer does so. We have seen that the major corporations pretty much decide policy for not just the FDA and the USDA, but the big guys pretty much all have their hands into decisions by most of the rest of the entities that make the rules determining our lives.  (See why I say this) And as we have seen, the decisions of the big guys generally are made for their particular branch of the government as to allow themselves to make more money.  It isn't a conspiracy as you might think, it is simply one business entity buying the favors of regulators with the intent to better their position in the marketplace with respect to their competition.  And there are a lot one businesses out there with a lot of cash to pave the way to higher profits.  With that said, let's look at fake stuff.

To begin, this is what the FDA says about the use of the word natural in labeling, "FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives" from (ACTUAL FDA site)  I've spent some time at the store looking at ingredient lists and so far I have not found one single product with the words "All Natural" on the label that I would buy.  So this leads me to my first set of sweeteners to avoid and the reasons to avoid them. 

Truvia, Nectresse and any of the sugar alcoholsSugar alcohols are the group of compounds that generally are made from genetically modified corn and are fermented using specific strains of bacteria to give the desired end product.  These include Erythritol, Maltitol, Xylitol, Sorbitol and a whole host of them that have various combinations of carbon groups.  Weird, but event Ethylene Glycol, a base form of radiator coolant, is a sugar alcohol.  And that one is pretty toxic, the worst of the bunch.  However, long term studies on rats show that ingestion of sugar alcohols over time in fact lead to lesions and degradation of the kidneys.  Contrary to the claims of the manufacturers, only about 60% of the compound is excreted as is.  They claim the reason the stuff is a good sugar substitute is because 98% is excreted.  (Tell me it isn't so)  Oh, and yeah, wood alcohol, the stuff that makes you go blind, is a sugar alcohol.  But even though they are all made from GM corn, processed out the ying yang, the feds don't give a rat's patootey that they call the stuff "All Natural".  What does that have to do with Truvia and Nectresse?  Look at the package, the main ingredient in both, and pretty much most of the new "All Natural" sweeteners on the market; is a sugar alcohol.  Plus the actual Coke patent for their stevia product uses a 40+ step process to refine the stevia using some very nasty chemicals to achieve their end product.  Which to me, doesn't resemble real stevia.  And the product Nectresse?  The same. If it was all monkfruit, it would cost an arm and a leg and not be very profitable for them.

Sucralose, or Splenda.  This one is scary from the get go.  Sucralose is a chloro-carbon.  The makers take sucrose, simple table sugar and replace three oxygen hydrogen groups with chlorine atoms.  Not so bad most people think, until you find out that this new compound is just three atoms different from DDT.  In fact one of the cool things that you can do with Splenda is dust it in your shelves and on your garden plants, it kills insects.  Sucralose was approved by the FDA with nearly one hundred short term animal studies, and two human studies that show that 15% of the chemical is retained and broken down by the human body in complete and total opposition to their advertising claim that ALL of it is excreted in the urine.  Even with that info, the FDA approved the stuff.  It is now the number one selling fake sweetener.  A year ago, the CSPI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest downgraded sucralose from OKAY to USE WITH CAUTION!  Yikes.  The director of the FDA that approved sucralose was Jane Henney, who was given the post by good old Clinton and two years after approving sucralose as well as a whole host of drugs that are in dispute now, left to go work at the drug giant AstraZenaca.  This is just one example of the pattern of jobs selection that occurs between private industry and those that make the policies that govern our everyday lives. 

Ace-K, Acesulfame Potassium   The company website (Ace-K) states that over 90 studies have been done proving that this stuff is harmless. All the manufacturers of all this stuff make the same claims.  However in several independent studies there were far different findings, from large increases in cancers in male rats to moderate destruction of neurometabolic functions.  It has been discovered that the stuff also stimulates the excretion of insulin.  It has been found to pass through the placenta into unborn babies and is thought to influence human desire for sweets.  As well as that neurometabolic thing within any fetus. A whole host of possibilities open up there, and yet the manufacturer Hoechst,(now NutriNova) in all of its testing, did not in any way find anything wrong.  Here is info from the NCBI on their review (Ace K and NCBI) The stuff contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.  Again, more testing NEEDS to be done, but money is tight for protection of humanity, and pretty loose when it comes to buying the approval from regulators to use toxins to make more money. Frank E Young, the director that approved the stuff in 1988 was forced out because of corruption scandals at the FDA in 1989.  Eventually ending up at a pharmaceutical firm.  I for one am not at all surprised about this info.  Now, he's at a venture capital business.  But, no conflicts there.  

Aspartame - The absolute worst most toxic sweetener on the market (Aspartame)  There are 92 side effects listed by the FDA including death.  Yet is is still available for the manufacturers to make buttloads of money on.  92, with death in there as well.  (Side Effects)  In 1981 Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. the commissioner for the FDA approved Aspartame for use in human foods.  He then left the agency to work at the PR firm for Searle, the manufacturer of Aspartame, at a whopping one thousand dollars a day on a ten year contract.  His approval of the crap was done despite the fact that there was overwhelming evidence the stuff was carcinogenic and neurotoxic as well and that 70% of FDA staff researchers went on record as stating objections to any such approval.  Let's not make any bones about it, approval was all about MONEY!  Aspartame in theory is pretty cool, it is basically just two common amino acids held together with a methyl ester bond.  The problem is that methyl ester, it breaks down into methanol.  Which as we learned earlier, is an acute neurotoxin.  The manufacturer tells us that methanol in small amounts is harmless, that eating overripe fruit gives you methanol.  Most people don't consume overripe fruit as the main part of their diet as people do now that aspartame is in a huge percentage of processed foods.  And soda, of which many people drink cans and cans of the stuff daily. 

High Fructose Corn Syrup, HFCS  This stuff is just sugar.  According to the HFCS manufacturers, The Corn Refiners Association.  And they can't be wrong can they?  I don't want to get into that discussion, all I want to point out here is the problem (and it's a BIG problem) with Mercury contamination.  It's not just me, but the Washington post reported on the Mercury in January 2009 (The Post) The original research was done by a woman, Renee Dufault that in 2004 discovered that the method used to make caustic soda which is required to make HFCS, was made by most of the manufacturers using a rather interesting technique of passing salt through Mercury.  She and her team tested 18 samples of HFCS as well as 55 different products containing HFCS right off the shelves of stores.  They found Mercury in over half of both groups.  The Mercury contamination was so great that it was estimated that Americas, whose intake of HFCS accounts for 1 out of every 10 calories consumed, could be ingesting as much as 200 micrograms daily just from HFCS containing products.  That is three times the EPA deems as safe.  She brought this to the attention of her bosses at the FDA.  They instructed her to cease and desist any further research.  She decided it was too important to sweep under the mountains of money being made.  Her findings were published in the January 2005 issue of "Environmental Health".  And again she published further findings about the problem of Mercury in 2009 in the Behavioral and Brain Functions Journal.  Her info is here, (The Hero of our times) She is doing quite well, despite the backlash of controversy over her findings from the Corn Refiners Association and her employer, the Federal Government.  She retired, honorably, from the Feds.  Not sure what to make of that, they make a big deal of mentioning that word, honorably.  Here is the thing, the FDA was informed of the contamination, the FDA had the option, actually it was the FDA directive, to protect the populace from foods that are found to be toxic.  The FDA ignored her findings, they chose not to do their own testing to determine the accuracy of her initial findings.  Th FDA decided that a nationwide recall of products containing HFCS that might be contaminated with Mercury, would be too expensive to the food processing industry.  In fact, it would have been DEVASTATING.    But then again they also denied that it did not exist in the test samples done in 2004 by an extremely competent researcher.  But then again, in 2009 another private study found Mercury in 9 out of 20 commercial products on store shelves, including stuff from such well known brands as Quaker, Hunt's, Hershey's, Smuckers, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, Yoplait and Manwich.  But then again, didn't the Corn Refiners tell us in 2005 that the Mercury wasn't in their products?  Yeah, they did.  So to date, the only testing done of HFCS for Mercury has been done by the industry itself, and they have of course found no Mercury. And look at how much money they made by not recalling their products, and not updating the technology used to make the stuff. 

Honestly, I don't think it is a conspiracy.  People, want to make money.  They want an edge on the competition.  They do that by making their products the cheapest way possible while still achieving that most important thing in food production, the Bliss Point.  That point where the mixture of fat, salt and sweet make the food virtually irresistible.  Read about the Bliss here (The Bliss Point)  But to do that, to get a leg up on their competitors, they need cheap ingredients.  GM corn, soy and canola fit those criteria.  And to make stuff sweeter, cheaper, have longer shelf lives, and taste good requires the addition of additives that whose safety is questionable.  When new additives are found, the FDA is more than willing to approve them for use in our food, with the ever so innocuous belief that a little bit won't hurt you.  And if consumers eat a little bit in everything they buy that is processed or from fast food purveyors, then they are getting a little bit all the time. 

Read the ingredients, it is after all, your health. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Too Big for Their Britches, the FDA is getting pretty "cheesy"

We've all heard the old axiom about power, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" and the many variations of that.  And there are a few, some humorous, some not.  If I were my brother I would go into the perceived specific psychological reasoning as to WHY power corrupts.  And there are people that have done so. (Smithsonian on Power Corrupts)  But then some people have too much time on their hands.  I digress, the reality is that our lives are now ruled by the entity known as The Federal Government in ways that were never envisioned by the founding fathers.  I am pretty certain that the above statement will not receive any dissent from anyone, it is pretty much an accepted fact.  And not going into the craziness of those that are leading armed confrontations with the Feds, it is a wise idea for everyone out there to begin to understand what is taking place, and then decide for ourselves what can be done about it.

Today, I just want to touch on the FDA and what that particular entity has done, and is doing to destroy small businesses, further the monopolies of giant agribusinesses and insure large dividends and favors paid to the leaders of the agency.  This isn't just accusatory braggadocio, these are pretty much well documented activities that are all inclusively referred to as the "Monsanto Revolving Door".  (Monsanto) We think it began with old Dr. Hays being appointed FDA Director by Reagan and then he performed one function, he approved aspartame.  Then he retired and took a thousand dollar a day job for a ten year contract with the PR company for the manufacturer of the stuff.  And never worked a day again in his life. That was the visible start, but I am pretty well certain that it went on long before then.  Graft and corruption have been an integral part of the workings of governments and big industry since just after this country was formed.  Perhaps we should look at that Smithsonian article on power corrupting, might be some insight there. 

One of the things that the FDA will do for any industry is destroy your competitors.  It probably isn't on the FDA website as one of their solemn duties, but it happens.  And since congress passed the new Food Modernization Act in 2011, it has become easier for them.  We can see some of their previous work in the field at this little essay I wrote a while back, (Targeting small industries); however what is going on now is getting into smaller industries, with just as deadly results.  The latest victim of FDA control, cheese.  Not the little plastic wrapped slices of a milk product that barely resembles actual cheese, but the real stuff.  Artisanal cheeses made according to time honored methods.  Everyone eats cheese.  According to the feds themselves, about 93% of Americans eat cheese.  We eat about 32 pounds of cheese per person annually.  A lot of them eat those cheese-like products that are available at the local megamart and regular grocers as well as eating nachos at ball games and local purveyors of alcoholic beverages.  But according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, fully 36% of the grocery stores now have devoted shelf space to various specialty cheeses.  The problem for big agribusiness is pretty simple, cheese sales of all the standards has been pretty flat with no growth (an actual decline in 2011) since 2007.  Artisanal and specialty cheese sales are skyrocketing.  Double digit growth is rare in the food industry in long term measurements, and when it happens, the big guys take notice.  And they react.  When organic foods began their record breaking growth in the mid 2000's the big guys began to market "All Natural" labels on their crap, and many even began developing their own organic brands and products.  Some just went ahead and bought out their organic competitors thus adding that phenomenal growth to their own bottom line. 

Big business has seen the writing on the wall, and they have responded by developing their own lines of specialty cheeses.  A lot have been around for awhile, domestic Parmigiana (sad sad sad stuff) as well as domestic high tech low flavor versions of so many of the great cheeses out there.  And the stuff sells, if for no other reason than that's all that's available at the local megamart.  And of course, the inevitable outcome that the giants want is to remove the competition so that the only offerings available for consumers is the crap that they produce.  That's where the FDA comes in.  They're really good at making things difficult for the little guys to stay in business.  Last week the FDA announced new guidelines for the manufacturers of artisanal cheeses.  It seems simple, yet it's these little regulation changes that will kill small producers.  The change, cheeses can no longer be aged on wood boards.  The reason, bacteria grow on wood boards and can cause infections of Listeria and maybe other harmful bacteria.  Cheeses have, and are, aged on wooden boards all over the world.  As they have been for thousands of years.  Wood breathes a bit, adds certain particular nuances to the flavors, and are pretty cheap.  Let's repeat that.  WOOD BOARDS ARE USED ALL OVER THE WORLD.  Will it make a difference?  Yes, for small cheese makers the expense of buying thousands of square feet of stainless steel in which to replace the traditional wood will be the end of most of them.  This is a link to a great article about why it's a bad thing, I like the picture as well. (Cheese)  The problems are huge, and don't just cover American cheese makers, it will in all probability ban ALL cheeses imported into this country that were aged on wooden boards.  That is something that puts the competition in its place. 

So let me just talk about some of the things that might go the wayside and never ever be able to be enjoyed by consumers here in America ever again.  These are just some of my favorite things to do with cheese.
  1. Parmesan. the real thing, not the domestic stuff.  The rind and inside half inch has these incredible crunchy salt crystals that pop and explode flavor in your mouth.  Best thing to do with it, fork out chunks and drop some 25 year old balsamic on it and eat with red fully ripe strawberries sprinkled with freshly ground Telicherry black pepper
  2. Manchego, one of the great Spanish cheeses, made from sheep's milk and pressed into grass lined molds then aged for 4 to 6 months, with better ones up to 24 months.  Delicious with fig jam. Sadly, there are domestic imitations out there. Avoid them.  Eat as is, it is incredible.  
  3. Real Cheddars, sounds weird but most people think cheddar is yellow.  That is an American attempt to add flavor with the incorporation of annatto and chemicals.  Real cheddar has none of that crap and is great plain and aged or some great and incredible things are made by the artisans by adding things like Porter, caramelized onions, caraway and rye malt, cranberries, and,.... oh, my, I feel faint.
  4. Blue, This family of stinky cheeses are at the worst, a bit off-putting because the do stink a bit, and at their best, creamy, bursting with intense flavors and luscious notes that linger on your palate. Serve any blue with some fruit, or blanched walnuts.  Again, fig jam and small rye toast points are fantastic. First blue for a novice, Chiriboga.  Damn Krauts tend to piss into the wind and do little well with respect to food, but they make this bit of heaven.  And then go from there, many many domestic artisan blues are in better grocers like Whole Foods or AJ's here in Phoenix.  Then there is...
  5. Stilton.  There is no comparison to Stilton, it is now, always has been, CHEESE ONE.  This stuff will make a cheese fanatic of anyone, especially if you are fortunate enough to find unpasteurized Stilton.  Once, sigh, just once in my life.  Normally it is made with pasteurized milk as is required by law to be imported, but there is a black market for cheese out there.  Eat this with figs, dates, very ripe pears and with a glass of 20 year old Amontilado.  Oh, man, there truly is a heaven here on earth, and Stilton is the cause to seek it.
  6. Brie and Camembert, not my favorites for eating just cheese and fruit, but killer on a grilled whole wheat sandwich or as an add in to some great mac and heaven.  This is always a party stopper as well, dice a bunch of mushrooms and saute until all the moisture evaporates.  Add a half cup of good Madeira or other semisweet sherry and saute until dry.  Add a half cup minced shallots and cook another two minutes.  Lay out a large square of puff paste and put half the mushroom mix in the middle, then place the cheese in the middle and the remainder the mushrooms on top of that.  Now, try this, it is fantastic, spoon a couple heaping spoonfuls of fig jam around the top.  Fold up the puff paste and seal with beaten egg.  Wash the whole thing with the egg wash and bake at 425 until well browned and puffy.  This is the bomb.  
  7. Mimolette, this is a spectacular hard rind but semi-firm interior cheese that has flavor flavor flavor.  The rind is edible even though it looks like a cantalope.  The cheese is orange, and pairs incredibly with any fruit and great with any good beer. They are little rounds about 3 pounds each and worth whatever you pay as it will make you love great cheese.
  8. Feta, I know, it sounds weird, but feta is incredible.  Well, it has been a disappointment here in Phoenix, but in Austin there were places you can go and find as many as 8 different styles of feta.  I do so miss Austin.  Anyway, AJ's has a couple sheep's milk fetas and there is a middle eastern store at 35th and Greenway that has olives and a few fetas as well.  Don't get me started on olives.  Sheesh.
  9. Yuulong Lavender, this cheese is incredible.  From Australia, it is flavored with mountain lavender and is great as a dessert pairing with fruit and a great semi-sweet white wine.  And chocolate too!
  10. Gorgonzola, technically a blue, but this one is the Italian version and is one of my favorites for cooking with.  Take a half pound of the stuff and chop it.  Bring some water to boil for linguine.  Blanche a cup of walnuts in the water for a minute.  Drain.  In a large skillet melt some butter and saute some sliced shallots for a minute.  Add the blanched drained walnuts and the cooked linguine.  Add the cheese and a cup of half and half and stir until the cheese melts.  Garnish with a few crumbles and chopped Italian parsley and if you have it, a few leaves of oregano as well.
Okay some basic stuff for cheese.  If you only eat cheese on the burgers they serve you at the local burger barn or what comes pre-shredded or pre-sliced and wrapped in plastic, then this might be a bit much for you.  If you have tasted some good cheese and loved it and want more, here are a few ideas.  If you are like me, then you know, this is just the tip of the barrel of goodness that just might disappear in the near future because as always, money rules the business world and cheese is business, big business.

Monday, June 9, 2014

On Faith, Religion, and Hokum

This little essay is entirely opinion, mine.  Based on my earlier essay, (An Epiphany)

Faith - a belief that is not based on proof
Religion- a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe
Hokum- false or irrelevant material introduced to arouse interest, excitement or amusement

These three concepts play an integral part of much of the world today, not only in a religious sense, but pretty much in all other aspects of politics, war, the manufacturing of money and the drive toward economic power.  Those seeking power generally are in complete and total faith in their superiority, personal religion, and ability to confer hokum to the masses.  Today, I'm just clarifying some of the things about religion that have been introduced into my life through my blog here about the nature of religion, the bible, as well as the inference that my beliefs in no way constitute a moral code, a scientifically sound explanation of the universe, nor are even soundly and consciously possible. I have a relative that tells me that the book of his religion, the bible, is inerrant.  It is the true word of his god as told to mere mortals that were at one time witness to an interview with their god, given commands and stories about specific events of the world, and then these stories were told and retold, passed down through generations by word of mouth until one day they were written down, only to be eventually turned into a comprehensive book of the faith of the religion of christianity.  And there are no errors in this book, according to those that base their lives, their religion and their faiths upon on it.

Weird, but I actually believe the first part of that.  And here is where our paths of faith diverge.  When we look at the readings of Edgar Cayce, he lets us know that the Universal Consciousness, that which we can for future reference, refer to as god; has in fact from time to time presented itself unto mortals partaking in this particular plane of existence.  The reason was to bring forth messages to provide order to the chaos of humanity and give direction toward the Universal Consciousness that humanity needed to achieve Oneness.  Basically, prophets were sent.  Where our belief diverges here is that although I believe prophets have come and delivered these important messages, those that worship the bible tell us that is not possible.  Although prophets did once receive audiences with god, they could not ever do so again and anyone claiming such, was a false prophet.  Why?  In my opinion, it's because the bible itself claims that it is without error.  If anyone were to show that real live prophets have experienced an audience with god just as prophets did in biblical times, then the whole facade of inerrancy comes tumbling down.  And no one within the community wants that.  Those that lead, want the status quo to remain as it has for thousands of years.

Let's look at the nature of religion, and entertainment.  They go hand in hand.  Religion is in reality the exercise and enjoyment of one's faith.  Generally it has been exercised as a communal gathering of people that worship in a manner that is consistent with the conventions and modes of rituals of the time period.  In today's world it means dressing up, going to the local facility that sponsors such events, and listening to a specific individual or individuals give detailed accounts of how the writings of the bible relate to the every day existence of those attending.  And there is a community aggregation of socializing involved generally as well.  Conversely for many, there is the Television that gives the same thing in essence, with big stars like Joel Osteen, Billy Graham and others, some who have fallen from the good graces of stardom for transgressions against that which they preach. (just one of my problems with religion) The difference is just that there is no socialization present, at least not a physical aspect.  This particular scenario has taken place throughout the christian world for thousands of years.  Religion has primarily been the cornerstone of the populace for entertainment.  When traveling holy men walked out among the villages of farmers and spread the stories of creation, the lives of prophets and tales of what happens when those working and slaving away at back breaking labors to raise a few crops and chickens like to sit with others of their own kind and feel that it is all worth it in the end.  That there is a reward for work, living cleanly and furthering the human race.

Here is where it gets a little complicated.  Although I admit that prophets may have at one time communed with the Universal Consciousness, or god, and been given specific stories about our existence to spread in order to lead the populace to Oneness, human nature being what it is, those stories changed.  I don't for one second believe that holy men whose very existence depended on telling stories that enthralled their listeners would be simple retelling of the same old tired tales that the last holy men came by and told.  Just as we today have our Joels and Billys giving evermore fanciful interpretations and stories to entice viewers to send in their hard earned shekels, the holy men of pre-biblical times did what they did because they were the ultimate story tellers of their day.  The better the telling, the more the reward, handfuls of grain, bread and maybe a chicken to see them on their way to the next village and audience.  And let's face it, when they told and retold those tales, all that begetting and fornicating was the porn of the day, and everyone likes a little porn.  Tame by our standards, but it was entertainment for them.  This was all given to them under the auspices of learning the religion of the day, and about how life had rewards for those that lived a good life, worked hard, and above all else, donated food and provisions to those that told them about faith.

When the bible was finally compiled, (this is what I have been told) they took the best of these stories that had been handed down by word of mouth for generations before ever being transcribed to paper.   Or papyrus.  There is no possible thing that any religious scholar, layman, pope or well, anyone, that can tell me that during this entire thousand year process, a lot of hokum was not added to the stories.  It is human nature.  Scholars as I have been told, are diligently working to give specific interpretations to the writings that they have found that are purported to be the actual writings of the original document referred to as the bible.  There appear to be discrepancies in the bible, and those that make a living from religion, as explained before, can't allow the whole thing to tumble down around them just because human nature is what it is.  

I don't have all the answers.  I have a concept of the Universe as explained by an early 20th century prophet, I have things that I have learned from those that read and live their lives according to the Vedas, I have seen wisdom in the teachings of the Buddha and Confucius, and I have spent time with some of the Dineh, and learned about Mother Earth and Father Sky.  And I have taken Deeksha, and marveled at the simplicity of our existence after achieving Oneness.  I endure the ridicule and out and out hatred and damnation from some that claim to live good christian lives because of my beliefs and my willingness to share them on the internet.  I have unfortunately been very very close to death and have so far escaped that inevitable end, and yet I don't fear it.  I understand death, I don't wish for it, but I no longer fear it.  

Isn't that what a good system of beliefs, and ultimately religion, is supposed to do?

Anyway, this is all conjecture on my part, totally and completely my opinion as to the events that led to the writings known as the bible.  But in reality, it is human nature.  And we are all humans, some of us are just better humans than others.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Because They Can, Episode 6 -- And why they can't stop

for reference only, the first five
( Episode 5)  (Episode 4)  (Episode 3)   (Episode 2)   (Episode 1)

Previously we saw that the giant food manufacturing industry in America for the most part utilizes toxic chemical additives in their production of a very large portion of the food products that are available to the citizens and they do so knowing full well that they are toxic, cumulative contrary to health. They do so because they are simply isolated from liability by the fact that all the big guys do it, and in that commonality, there is immunity.

Today we learn why this is so.  Control.  Yikes, sounds like a conspiracy theory of epic and monumental proportions.  Every agency of the government, industry leaders, bankers and power brokers throughout the upper echelon of humanity within this country all banding together to perpetrate a conspiracy to control the very lives of every individual citizen in this country.  Right, that is not very realistic.  I'm not saying that it isn't possible, but in all likely hood, it is extremely improbable.  Sure it is true that the way the governments of the world control the populace are through military intervention and the total state of fear, or through the collective stomachs of the people.  And that last one might just be a byproduct of the first.  Certainly many of the countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, and pretty much at one time or another, everywhere else, the wars for power have left the food supply and transportation of what food is available in the hands of those wanting control, and therefore having it.  Control I mean.

Back in the Boer war in South Africa the British invented the concentration camp and figured out rapidly just how easily hunger could become a dominant force in warfare.  I suppose that it could be said that humanity knew about it way before then, what with siege warfare and all in the middle ages being real popular; but during the Boer war the Brits actually took the time to chart and record the effectiveness of the adventure.  The Nazis did the same thing, but I kind of think they did it just because for them it was fun. Modern warfare though is a lot less messy, and the control of the food supply is of prime importance for any government.  And the food supply here in America, depends pretty much on big business.  And the leaders of that industry are all quite aware that their continued control of their profits depends entirely on keeping control on the food supply itself.

The reality of it all is that corporate America is growing, merging.  The lines that defined individual businesses and industries have blurred as corporate leaders learned that control, begins at the beginning, and goes all the way to the end.  The beginning is the farm.  Small farmers are on the way out, farming is a corporate undertaking and as the agrigiants have the buying power, the ability to demand pricing, availability of cheap labor, and the power to keep the subsidy money flowing into their coffers, they will continue to gobble up the small and medium size farms.  This is the beginning, and corporate America now own more farmland, more chickens, cows, pigs and sheep than are in the hands of private farms.  They also own their own trucking firms, processing plants, food manufacturing, distribution and even many retail outlets.  Beginning to end.  Corporate ownership controls our food supply.  Well, they control a large portion of it.

In order to maintain control, the leaders of the corporate world understand that in order to KEEP that control, they must in fact deliver these things::
  1. Desire, this means advertising, creation of perceived need and/or desire
  2. Price, must be competitive with not just their competition, but they MUST make the price so low that consumers will choose THEIR products instead of plain basic foodstuffs that requite home processing.
  3. Achievement of the Bliss Point in the creation of the products. (Bliss Point)  
  4. The aggregate result of the above three items, creates total addiction, and thusly control.
Corporate America has learned how to do these things quite well.  And they have in fact, taken control of our food supply.  Not total, but should there be at any time in the future, a breakdown in any part of the current system, the small percentage of our food supply that is not under their control will fail itself, from the demands placed upon it by those that fear the consequences, hunger.

In order to keep all the first three items in the list to continue, the current methods that they have created to manufacture our food need to remain in place and changes in any single part, will cause failure of the system.  Corporations cannot stop using petro chemical fertilizers in growing the foods, changing to sustainable farming takes time, and costs money.  They cannot stop growing GMO crops, and using related pesticides.  They cannot stop adding toxic chemical additives to foods during their processing from basics into boxed and ready convenience and fast foods.  And they cannot stop advertising your need to eat the stuff.  Try and change one thing, the the competition will smother them.  And their little piece of the pie will end.  And there are a lot of pieces of the pie being divided up all across the land of the free and the brave.  And the rich and ultrarich.  And you know I don't have a problem with corporations making money.  I know that there are a lot of new up and coming organic food processors out there that do SOME of the same things that the big guys are doing, but they do it better, healthier, more responsibly.  I choose to give my money to those companies.  And to local farmers at local markets.  And not to the big guys, I don't watch all that much
TV anyway, and when I do, I fast forward through the ads, so I don't need to pay for their advertising.

Life on this planet is a bit confusing, if you have read any of my entries here you know that our government doesn't really have the interests of the people within its framework of the current structure.  It sort of metamorphosed all on its own into a system of payoffs and kickbacks and individuals doing whatever they can to acquire as much wealth, power and influence as possible.  And there have been a lot of individuals doing just that.  It isn't a true conspiracy, it's just been all about making money, and doing whatever corporate leader thought needed to be done to get what they believed would give them an edge.  And the sword of our food supply has a lot of edges as it gets shoved down our throats in the quest for control.

Have fun everyone, remember it's your life.  You are what you eat.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nano-Chemicals! If it isn't too bad for humans as is, make it into superfine and just assume it's not too bad still.

Nanotechnologies.  Sort of the opposite of what we think about normally.  If a little bit is good, a whole lot, (and/or BIGGER) must be better.  I mean it seems reasonable, one shot of tequila makes you feel good, a whole lot of shots must make you feel real good. Not always accurate, but the general concept is rather widely accepted.  This decade though, the corporate business world has been swept with new technologies.  Nano tech is one of the newest.  Not the nanobots of scifi where little robots are injected into your bloodstream and perform miracles, or make for horrific movie fodder.  But the process of making things smaller is now going high tech and into the field of nano size.  It isn't just the scary aspect of what the nano technology can do, it is the other stuff that I found out about in my research on the FDA (gotta love those guys) and how they treat this new technology and their lack of, well, for a better term, caring.

Titanium dioxide.  This is something that has been around for a long time.  It is basically a relatively inert compound that has been found in the past to have very low toxicity.  It is a widely used compound in most sunblocks and cosmetics.  A few years ago, the scientists stepped in and found that they can make TiO2 (titanium dioxide) into a nano compound.  Regular off the shelf TiO2 has a particle size of about 800 to 1000 nanometers.  The nano stuff is in the <20 nanometers size.  Still the same chemical makeup it's just one titanium atom and two oxygen atoms.  So is there a difference in the effect in the human body.  Well, some of the research that has been done, and there has been very little, shows that TiO2 particles that size pass right through the cell walls of human skin cells when applied topically.  They then attach themselves to the ribosomes within the cells.  Nothing else seems to have been discovered.  Research costs money.  There is a formula out there in agricorporate America that uses that calculates the risk factor of using new unproven technology to make products more profitable while weighing those possible profits against lawsuits for death and other problems that might be cause by usage of that new technology.  And of course the BIG part of that equation is that as people croak or are disabled, how much profit can be realized before the causative factor is determined to be that very new technology that makes them money. 

I used to think that was unrealistic and that it would be hard to quantify total numbers of deaths for using something.  Men could not ever do something so dehumanizing.  It just could not be possible that businesses use human death figures to calculate profits.  Then I realized that humans do it all the time, especially in war and the pursuit of "peace".  They calculate total losses for actions, what retaliatory actions will be taken and losses from those, all in a complex formula that quantifies your life, as nothing more than a number on a list that either dies, or lives. If you think this is all BS, just look at the fines the FDA has levied against drug manufacturers in the last 12 years, over 30 billion dollars.  And all for making profits on drugs that in many cases were known to be harmful, and yet the profit potential was so great as to overcome not just the FDA fines, but the costs to settle lawsuits from the deceased customers. 

Now, yes, NOW comes the scary part.  When you take a few hours to look up TiO2 on the FDA Code of Federal Regulations and discover what I found.  TiO2 is on the EAFUS list and the GRAS list.  It is also on the list of food and cosmetic additives that manufacturers are NOT required to put on the ingredient list on the label.  It is nontoxic.  Well, BIG TiO2 was found to be nontoxic.  Nano TiO2 is not really tested for long term problems that being attached to the ribosomes structures of cells might cause.  We do know that ribosomes have one job in the cell, and that is to synthesis proteins used in basic cell division.  Wow, and no one at the FDA is concerned about that. 

Nano TiO2 is finding a huge place in the food industry and the use of it is growing exponentially.  It is in yogurt and soy and almond milk because it makes them whiter.  It's in chocolate, because it makes it shinier, it's in processed cheese.  It's in, over six hundred products now, and that's just in the last 3 years.  This link is to one site that shows some of the products that are known to contain TiO2 nano compounds. (Nano Good Money Maker)  I will say it again here, as I have written about it before on numerous occasions, BIG CORPORATIONS USE THESE CHEMICALS IN THEIR FOODS TO MAKE THEM MORE APPEALING, TO EXTEND THE SHELF LIFE, TO MAKE FOOD TASTE BETTER, OR TO MASK THE FLAVORS OF OTHER CHEMICALS; AND THEY DO IT BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!!

If all the corporations making money off these toxic substances put that crap in our food supply, then they are in fact insulating themselves from any prosecution since ALL THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS PUT THAT CRAP IN THEIR PRODUCTS. You can't single out one manufacturer to sue, they all do it. 
This link is more about it (Because They Can)