Toxic Waste....On Tap.

Greetings of the Season, everyone! I had grand visions in the weeks leading up to Christmas, of sharing recipes and tips for healthy finger food and desserts, but exams and essays got in the way.

But here's a next Christmas there will be a plethora of recipes and tips that you can use to create a healthy - but yummy - celebration meal.

In 2011, I plan to get more involved in several activist causes. One of those causes is fluoride in our drinking water.

A couple of months ago, I sent an email to members of my local parliament, raising concerns about the use of fluoride in our water supplies.

I got several fob-you-off letters (you know the kind? Polite but unmoved.). One minister helpfully informed me that our local government now uses fluorosilicic acid, because it is "safer for those handling it".


No mention of safety for the people drinking it...No mention either, that fluorosilicic acid is a waste product from the fertiliser industry, and if that industry were to dispose of it properly, it would cost them millions of dollars.

I wonder if she has ever read the Material Safety Data Sheet, which clearly states that it is a Schedule 7 poison.

(Schedule 7 poisons are "substances with a high potential for causing harm at low exposure and which require special precautions during manufacture, handling, storage or use".)

The Health Minister informed me it was their stance, that water fluoridation is the most "socially equitable" and efficient means of preventing dental caries across the community.

(Strangely, no-one made any mention of tackling one of the causes of the dental caries problem - high amounts of sugar in the diet. Guess that belongs in the too-hard basket.)

Personally, I fail to see anything socially equitable about forcing people to buy bottled water or expensive filters, in order to avoid a toxic waste in the tap water.

The other issue I have with fluoride is infant exposure due to powdered formula-feeding. Here are a few comments on the issue:

"If using a product that needs to be reconstituted, parents and caregivers should consider using water that has no or low levels of fluoride." (American Dental Association, 2006.)

"In Boston, for example, more than 60% of exclusively formula-fed babies exceed the safe dose of fluoride on any given day." (Environmental Working Group, 2006.)

"infant formulas should still be prepared using non-fluoridated water". (Clarkson JJ and McLoughlin J, International Dental Journal, 2000.)

Here's the thing. Of all the infant formulas I've looked at, none of them listed any instructions regarding fluoride on the label. It simply says to use cooled boiled water.

But boiling water does not remove fluoride...

Meanwhile, my busy Health Minister has been throwing fundraising barbeques for cancer and opening new hospital wards.

Which is rather ironic, since fluoride has been linked to cancer AND genetic damage, SIDS, Depression, Down's Syndrome, Thyroid Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, name just a few!!

So, my "representatives" can expect to hear more from me in 2011.

What's On My Lettuce?

Chlorine, it would seem...

Apparently pre-packaged salad greens are washed in chlorine, and then dried and packaged using Modified-Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), inside which oxygen is decreased and carbon dioxide is increased so that the lettuce appears fresh and perky for longer.

(Have you ever wondered how packaged salads manage to look so fresh and nice on the supermarket shelf, only to get it home, open it up, and within a day it's limp and soggy? Well, there's your answer.)

But, back to the chlorine.

I've written about chlorine on my website, and how it is directly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year.

According to the book "Not On The Label" by Felicity Lawrence, "The salad leaves are immersed in chlorine which is an oxidising disinfectant. The chlorine level is usually maintained at a minimum of 5omg per litre - twenty times higher than the average swimming pool."


The reason is that chlorine is supposed to kill any nasty bugs and bacteria that might be lurking, although salads have been the culprit in several outbreaks of salmonella, e.Coli and listeria, so one might question just how effective this practice is...

I have made several attempts at growing my own lettuce, but somehow it always tastes bitter, and invariably, I end up going back to the supermarket packets of mixed salad leaves with their mild taste.

Packaged lettuce accounts for billions of dollars in annual sales, so it would seem I am not alone here.

But I think I've just figured out why my lettuce has a slightly bitter flavour....Because it's meant to!!

A quote from an industry professional: "As well as disinfecting out the bugs, they disinfect out the taste of fresh leaves, as anyone who has eaten salad straight from the garden knows."

Aha! Lightbulb moment.

I think I'll persevere with growing my own lettuce, after all...

(P.S. In case you're wondering...lettuce is not the only kind of produce to be washed with chlorine. Apparently spinach, apples, tomatoes, melons, sprouts, and carrots are as well, to name just a few...)


Re-Discover Your Bliss...

Food manufacturers spend huge amounts of money, trying to find the consumer's "bliss point". You know the one?! That point where you take a bite...

And it tastes so good...

You just have to eat some more...

And some more....

And then some more...

And before you know it....Whoops!! You've eaten the whole packet!

Such a product represents huge sales for manufacturers. The trouble is, bliss points are requiring more and more flavours, flavour enhancers and sweeteners, as our taste buds grow accustomed to tastier/saltier/sweeter foods.

Monosodium Glutamate, a flavour enhancer, was introduced into our foods in the 1940's, and it's use has doubled every decade since, as consumers are expecting tastier and tastier products.

A product that is low in salt, flavours and sweeteners seems bland to our tastebuds, after they have grown accustomed to intensely flavoured products.

Our children are growing up with artificially high "bliss points" because they are being exposed to highly sugared and salty foods from a very young age.

The good news is that you can re-set your bliss point. When you revert to more natural foods, your tastebuds soon re-adjust, and then you find yourself with the opposite problem - when you eat highly flavoured foods, they seem overwhelming and far too salty or sweet.

I experienced this recently. I hadn't realised that my tastebuds had adjusted to my new eating habits....until I ate that meat pie!

My husband and I hadn't been back to our home-town for about five years.

For five whole years we had reminisced about the little bakery that made the best meat pies in the whole world!

When we returned for a visit, we had a "To-Do" list a mile long, and right up there near the top, was "Get a meat pie from our favourite bakery".

My husband bought the meat pies. I could barely contain my anticipation!! I took a bite. Then another. I ate the whole pie, but instead of the rich runny gravy that I remembered...all I could taste was a strange metallic taste.

I didn't enjoy it one little bit!

Afterwards I felt ill. (Probably from wondering what I'd just eaten...)

It was then that I realised, my tastebuds had adjusted to eating more natural foods, and the things that I'd once enjoyed were now overwhelming and didn't give half the enjoyment they used to.

Try it, and see for yourself. Really!

Make Your Own: Liquid Stock

Liquid stock is really easy to make and you avoid that nasty MSG that is found in virtually all commercial stock.

Next time you eat red meat, or chicken, save the bones...(I've never tried making fish stock, so I'm not sure this recipe works with fish.)

Remove as much meat from the bones, and place in a saucepan. Add water - enough to just cover the bones. Add a couple of generous grinds of pepper and (Himalayan) salt.

For extra flavour, you can add a chopped onion, or some minced garlic. Sometimes I even add washed vegetable scraps, such as broccoli stems, or carrot peel.

Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Let it simmer for at least an hour, but you may leave it for several hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavour and the more nutritious.

Let it cool, then strain and use in risottos, soups and stir-fries.

This stock is suitable for freezing. (I use empty butter containers, or ice-cube trays.)

What Have They Done To Our Milk?

Milk is marketed as a healthy, wholesome food that is good for our teeth and bones. We are encouraged to enjoy it as part of our daily diet.

The truth is that milk used to be a healthy, wholesome food...

Almost all of today's milk has been pasteurised, which involves heating the milk then rapidly cooling it, to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, it also kills the living enzymes that allow us to digest the milk, and absorb the calcium.

Pasteurisation also destroys vitamins and alters the proteins.

Contrary to the fancy advertising, pasteurised milk is actually a poor source of calcium. Our bodies simply cannot digest it properly.

Consider the two examples below:

In the 1930's, Dr. Francis M Pottinger conducted a 10-year study on the effects of pasteurised and raw (untreated) milk on 900 cats.

Both groups of cats were fed milk from the same source, but one lot was pasteurised the other was raw.

The cats fed raw milk remained healthy and active throughout their lives. Those fed pasteurised milk became confused and listless, and vulnerable to a host of degenerative diseases like heart disease, liver disease and kidney failure.

But wait. The first generation got off lightly. It was their children and grandchildren who REALLY suffered....

The second generation of cats fed pasteurised milk were all born with poor teeth, and small bones - signs of calcium deficiency.

The second generation of cats fed raw milk remained as healthy as their parents.

By the third generation, many of the babies of the pasteurised group were born stillborn, and of those that survived, ALL were infertile and unable to reproduce. The study ground to a halt, because, quite simply,  there was no fourth generation to continue the pasteurised part of the study.

The third generation of cats fed raw milk continued to thrive and reproduce indefinately...

The second example is not very scientific, but shows the differences in a very graphic way. One farmer conducted his own experiments using two calves. One fed raw mik, the other pasteurised milk. Read the results here - A Tale of Two Calves (Warning: The photos are quite graphic.)

Unfortunately, the powerful dairy lobbyists like the idea of pasteurisation, because it extends the shelf-life of milk, and means that growers do not have to be as scrupulous about the health and hygiene of their cattle. The sale of raw milk has been banned in many parts of the world.

Here in Australia, raw milk is allowed to be sold "for cosmetic use only". (insert sly smile, here...)

And then there's homogenisation.

This process involves pumping the milk through small tubes under very high pressure to break up the fat globules. This process has nothing to do with the safety of the milk, it just means that the milk does not develop a layer of cream on top.

(We cannot entirely blame the manufacturers for doing this. If consumers happily bought milk with a layer of cream on top, manufacturers would, no doubt happily supply it...

The trouble is that consumers, in general, have become fussy. We don't want bits of "stuff" floating around in our juice, or cream on top of our milk, or residue gathered at the bottom of our oil.

And so...we are subjected to pasteurisation, homogenisation, hydrogenation, refining, bleaching, conditioning, emulsifying...)

It has been widely acknowledged that higher consumption of dairy products is linked to increased cancer rates.

I would propose that these rates are not linked to dairy products at all, but rather, the processing of dairy products. Our ancestors who enjoyed raw milk straight from the cow, certainly didn't suffer the kind of cancer rates we are seeing today...

If you live in America, and some other parts of the world, you need to also consider the use of Recombinant Growth Hormone (rBGH). According to Wikipedia, rBGH is produced from genetically engineered E.Coli bacteria...Apparently it makes cows produce more milk. (More tainted milk that is, but I guess that's just a minor inconvenience when there are massive profits to be made...)

The ONLY cow's milk I can possibly recommend in good conscience, is organic, unpasteurised, unhomogenised milk, (sometimes referred to as raw milk) - if you can possibly get hold of some.

A very distant second, is organic milk that has been pasteurised but not homogenised.

It is a terrible shame that something that once fed and nourished the population, has been meddled and tampered with, until it no longer resembles the wholesome product it once was.

The Truth About Peanut Butter

The next time you go near a jar of store-bought peanut butter, take a look at the ingredients list...

Chances are it will say something like: "Peanuts, Vegetable Oil...."

Now, hang on a minute.

Vegetable Oil?

Peanuts are rich in natural oils, why would they need to add vegetable oil?

Hmmmm. Lets MAY have something to do with extracting the peanut oil and selling it off elsewhere for higher profit margins, and then substituting it for some cheap (and nasty) vegetable oil, in the peanut butter.

Not only does it make good financial sense to the manufacturer, but vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated have better spreadability, allows a longer shelf life, and the oils don't separate.

(I'm assuming the vegetable oil has been hydrogenated, at least partially. Natural vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, not solid.)

If you see a jar of natural peanut butter, you will notice that the oils naturally separate and there is a layer of oil on the top. Don't let this turn you off. This layer of oil is easily stirred into the spread.

You can find these at good health food stores or whole food markets. They should contain no other ingredient, except  peanuts. (If allergies are not an issue, experiment with some of the other nut spreads. Cashew, almond, hazelnut and brazil nut spreads are all delicious.)

Several months ago, I quietly changed over from brand-name peanut butter to natural peanut butter.

My five year old still hasn't noticed...

Make Your Own: Mock Ice-Cream

This recipe is super quick, super easy, and goes down a treat for kids and adults alike...without the sugar overload of commercial ice-creams.

You need:

400g natural unflavoured yoghurt
400g frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or mixed berries
Stevia or Xylitol

Defrost berries for a couple of moments. Put yoghurt and berries and stevia/xylitol in a bowl. (I use a mixture of the two - roughly 1/4 tsp of stevia, and roughly 1 tsp of xylitol. The berries act as a natural sweetener so you don't need a lot.)

Blend well (I use a stick blender), then serve and enjoy!!

This recipe has been slightly amended from one that I found in the book Smart Food for Smart Kids: Easy Recipes to Boost Your Child's Health and IQ

My next project is to experiment with other flavours such as banana with cinnamon or mango with macadamia nuts. (Drool...)

Date and Almond Balls

Since blitzing through our diet earlier this year, and cleaning out the pantry of all nasties, our go-to snacks have been either fruit, or toasted sourdough bread with nut spread (ground cashews, or almonds etc).

But a couple of times per week, I like to make up something for a sugar-free "treat". In the beginning I made pikelets constantly (using a small amount of honey to sweeten), because I couldn't figure out what else to make.

Thankfully my repertoire has expanded somewhat since then, and I'm always on the lookout for healthy snacks that are easy to make.

Recently I saw Date and Almond Rolls at the market, but they were $12 for 400g, and I figured I could work out how to make them myself. And I did. I was rather cautious at first, because I'm not overly fond of dates (the food variety at least!), but I was pleasantly surprised, and my 5-year-old loved them.

The following recipe will make approx 20 - 25 small balls about 2cm in diameter.

You will need:

200g of almond meal (ground almonds)
350g of finely chopped dates
Coconut, to roll the balls in. (Preferably coconut without Sulphur Dioxide on it)

Mix almond meal and dates in a bowl. Add some water (about 5 - 10 tbsp) until it is moist and sticky. With wet hands, shape into balls and roll in coconut.

You can start eating straight away if you want, but the taste seems to deepen if you refridgerate them for an hour or so before eating.

Oh, McHappy Day®...

Because today is the day that Aussies flock to McDonalds to buy a Big Mac in the name of helping sick kids, I decided to do some poking around to find out what ingredients are in the famous Big Mac burger.

I mean, surely it can't be that bad? After all, McDonalds are only too keen to remind us that it's made from 100% beef, with a bit of salt and pepper added.

But wait 'til you hear what's in the bun, and the sauce. That bit certainly hasn't been publicised.

The bun has 26 ingredients, and includes bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, ethoxylated monoglycerides, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil (high in trans fats), and calcium peroxide.

If you are eating a Big Mac in America, your bun also contains azodicarbonamide (lucky you...), which is an additive already banned in the European Union, Australia, and the U.K.

The sauce has 32 ingredients, and it includes some more high fructose corn syrup, some more sugar, polysorbate 80 (can cause anaphalaxis, and caused infertility in animal studies), vegetable protein (which is a nice name for MSG), calcium disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, caramel colour, and propylene glycol alginate.

And would you like fries with that???

Just when you thought fries consisted of potatoes, oil and salt...

Here's what you can expect in McDonald's fries: Potatoes, vegetable oil (a mix of canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor (more MSG), and citric acid), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent (Apparently to make it safer for workers).

And then if you have a Coke, here's what else you're subjecting yourself to: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup (again), caramel color (again), phosphoric acid, natural flavors (WHAT natural flavours, though?), and caffeine.

Today, McDonald's aimed to raise $2.8 million for Ronald McDonald House charities, which supports sick kids and their families.

Perhaps McDonalds could prove their commitment to kids and their families by cleaning up the ingredients in their foods.

I'm just sayin'....

In Sickness and in Wealth...

, The following two companies are practically household names. But the vast majority of their customers are completely unaware that they've quietly got their fingers in a few different pies, and making a nice income out of it too, thank you very much.

1.) Eli Lilly are fairly well known for producing pharmaceutical drugs.

What many people don't know, is that Eli Lilly also sells rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which is a growth hormone injected into cattle to increase milk production. It is marketed under the name Posilac, and has been banned in Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union, but is still sold in many other parts of the world.

They acquired it from bio-tech giant, Monsanto in 2008, even though they knew that Monsanto's own studies showed cows treated with  rBGH produced milk with high levels of hormones linked to cancer.

I guess Eli Lilly isn't too concerned by this.

Because they also sell cancer drugs, such as Gemzar. In fact, their anti-cancer drugs raked in a handsome $2.6 billion in 2008.

Cows treated with rBGH also suffer more bouts of mastitis.

Never mind. Eli Lilly have that covered. They also sell antibiotics to treat mastitis.

If this information offends your sensibilities at all, please consider joining the Stop Milking Cancer campaign, run by Breast Cancer Action.

2.) And how about Johnson & Johnson...the family company. (Or should that be family OF companies?).

They are well-known for producing baby bath products like talcum powder, shampoos, lotions, and body washes for our little ones.

Now, lets take a closer look at one of their products, Johnson's Baby Bath Milk...         

It has the following ingredients, in the following order:

"Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Acrylates Copolymer, Tetrasodium EDTA, PEG-45M, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance"

Out of the above ingredients, 4 are known to be allergens or skin irritants, 3 have not been safety-tested for use in cosmetics, 3 caused cancer in animal studies, and 2 showed reproductive effects on animals, even at low doses.

But don't worry, because when your baby gets dry itchy skin, or suffers allergy symptoms, Johnson & Johnson will be only too happy to sell you some cortisone cream, some allergy medication, and if - God forbid - they were ever diagnosed with cancer, Johnson & Johnson will be able to supply some expensive oncology drugs.

That's right. Did you realise that Johnson & Johnson are also a pharmaceutical company, selling over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription medications?

Interesting, don't you think?

Is it possible that these companies are getting rich by causing the problem, and then providing the "solution" to the problem???
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