Caryn Hartglass: Girl Scout Cookies & more

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

caryn-happy-bearthdayCaryn goes over the good and the not so good about Girl Scout Cookies; Trans-Pacific Partnership; Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans, Appeal to block Vermont’s first-in-the-nation law requiring the labeling of genetically modified food, New York Bill S59A-2015; Chef Ernesto Frozen Foods and Bareburger.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for being there, my friends, my new listeners, my old listeners –who are not old but are young, lovely, curious and interested in what’s going on with our crazy food system.

It’s a good week here in New York. Lots of interesting summer-like temperatures even though I think it’s still spring. Whatever happened to spring? It’s ninety degrees right now in New York, and I like it. But I do love spring, and I didn’t really quite get enough of it just yet. Let’s see what happens there. Will Caryn get she wants? We can’t ever depend on weather here in New York. One thing that is guaranteed is that it is consistently inconsistent.

Okay, lots of things to talk about today. The first thing that I want to tell you is that I scheduled Rowena Jayne to be on the program today. Thanks to Twitter and to me sending tweets and things to advertise the program, I discovered that Rowena –who is in Australia– got the times mixed up. It wasn’t her fault actually. So she’s not going to be on today. She’s going to be on in June, and we will talk about her book The Joy of Real Food in June.

And you know I love talking about real food. My non-profit’s called REAL (Responsible Eating And Living). The Joy of Real Food is a title that really resonates with me, and I look forward to talking to her next month. I’m also excited. I love talking to people all around the world and love to hear what is going on in other places like Australia.

Just one thing I want to mention before I move on about her book is: I learned it was illegal to consume hemp in Australia. Did you know that? I mean, we have our own crazy laws here in the United States. We haven’t been able to grow hemp, but we can eat it. Ha!

I remember talking to another Australian not too long ago and learning about sugar. Where all sugar in Australia is vegan. They don’t filter it through charred animal bones like they do here in the United States. Every country, every town, every city, every family: we’ve all got our kind of weird things that we do with food.

I’m going to bring up now a phrase from Marcel Proust, the French novelist, essayist, critic from the late 1800s, early 1900s. He eloquently expressed, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Now my partner Gary told me this quote just yesterday; it pertained to something that we were talking about. In reading Rowena Jayne’s book, she quotes this early on as well. I thought, “Okay, the universe is telling me to pay more attention to this.”

I’m going to read it again: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  Today, during this program, that’s what I’m going to try and do. Kind of demonstrate how important it is to have new eyes. Or at least look at things differently. Or maybe dig deep and not take things for face value, as they appear or as some folks want you to take them. Because there are always underlining, interesting things, not always good, that is not seen in the first look.

So we have to have new eyes. We have to look up and down, in and out, between the lines; you’ll know what I’m talking about in just a minute.

But first, since there are no guests today, it’s just me and you. I want to invite you if you’re listening live right –I know a lot of you listen not live, to the archive, to call in. The number is 1-(888) 874-4888. You got that? 1-(888) 874-4888. If you are listening live, just call and say hi! Let me know how you’re doing. It would be great to hear from you and connect. We can have some fun. I haven’t done that in a long time, and now I’m doing it.

The first thing I want to talk about is a subject near and dear to my heart, maybe yours. And that is Girl Scout Cookies. Now, I used to love Girl Scout Cookies. I was a Girl Scout, a Brownie and then a Junior. I loved going to Girl Scout camp. I was really into wearing the uniform. I don’t know why, but I was.

There was a small Girl Scout product, how can I call it? It was a store within a store selling all of the Girl Scout goodies: the shirt, the shorts, the hat, the handbags, all the little paraphernalia. I wanted all of it back then.

Of course, there were the cookies. Who didn’t love Girl Scout Cookies? Everybody loved Girl Scout Cookies. The story behind it is having the girls having an opportunity to raise money for their chapters, the word escapes me right now, their… tribe? Anyway, for their group. They also learned about selling something. It’s good real-life experience with math. So it’s kind of fun thing to do.

I wanna tell you right now. Here’s a great lesson for all of us. Ready? I want you to go when you have a chance –or you can maybe do it with me now because I’m going to highlight a few of them, at the GirlScouts.org page. If you click on the frequently asked questions, this is a lovely class in everything wrong in our food system. I wanted to go over some of them.

There’s this page on the Girl Scouts cookies. Oh, the reason why I bring this up is because it’s Girl Scout Cookie period. I just got a couple of boxes; I’ll get into that in a little bit. I haven’t bought Girl Scout Cookies in a really long time. My niece is a Girl Scout, and I want to support everything that she does. But the cookies haven’t been vegan. Well, now they have a vegan Thin Mint cookie. So we bought a couple of boxes. That brought me back to looking into what the Girl Scouts’ cookies are all about.

The first thing I want to mention about this frequently asked questions page. It is very clear to me, reading all of these questions, that the people who run the Girl Scouts know what’s going on. They know what people’s issues are; they know what people’s concerns are with food; they are aware. They cannot use the head in the sand or the “I didn’t know about it” card because it’s all here. All the questions, all the right questions, are here on the frequently asked questions page.

The thing I want to bring up is that the answers aren’t right. The answers are not the correct answers or the good answers in my humble opinion.

This is where we need to be looking and reading with new eyes and not taking all of this information for face value. Let’s go over some of the questions, shall we?

Okay, favorite question number one from the Girl Scouts’ frequently asked questions page: do Girl Scout Cookies have trans fat? Now, here’s their answer and then we’ll go into a little further.

“Girl Scouts of the USA is proud that all Girl Scot cookies have “zero trans fats” per serving with the same great taste that has made them one of America’s favorite treats over the years. All varieties contain less than,” now pay attention here, “0.5 grams trans fat per serving, which meets the FDA guidelines for the “zero trans fat” designation. Selected varieties can claim 100% trans fat free status meaning there’s not a speck of trans fat in the whole package.”

Now did you understand that? If you’re not really paying attention, then you might think, “Okay, this is great.” But it’s not great. There are some varieties of Girl Scout Cookies that have no trans fat. Absolutely no trans fats. But there are some that fall under this less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

You can tell because on the Thin Mints box that I got, I read the ingredients. We’re going to be going over some of these ingredients ’cause it’s fun to do. They’ve got partially hydrogenated palm, kernel and/or cottonseed oil, soybean and palm oil. We love partially hydrogenated oils, don’t we? Fans? We know what’s in partially hydrogenated oil: trans fat.

But when you say that the serving size is four cookies and four cookies has less than a half of gram of trans fat, then you can say it has zero trans fat!

I don’t know about you when you took math, but .5 grams doesn’t equal zero. If I have more than four cookies, which is easy to do, then all of sudden you get more than a half of gram of trans fat. You’re now above the FDA guidelines. Whoever said that the FDA guidelines were safe? But at least they have guidelines.

What concerns me is that they’re using hydrogenated oils period. People know that they don’t want hydrogenated oils in their food, but apparently it doesn’t seem to matter for the Girl Scout Cookies.

Now I just want to continue on the subject while we’re on the Thin Mints, which I’ve always loved. I’ve got to go slowly here: “crisp wafers covered in chocolaty coating made with natural oil of peppermint”; it really is a lovely, lovely concept.

Okay, let’s pick out some of my other favorite ingredients in here while we’re still on the subject of oil. If we talk about soybean oil and we don’t say that it’s not genetically modified, well, then it is. We’ll get to they’re genetically modified question in a moment. They also have cornstarch in this particular cookie. If it doesn’t say it’s not, it is genetically modified cornstarch. Soy lecithin is likely genetically modified.

So they have some delightfully genetically modified ingredients along with hydrogenated oil. Don’t you want some?

Now, the next question here in order: is high-fructose corn syrup used in Girl Scout Cookies? They know that people don’t want high-fructose corn syrup. It’s right here in the frequently asked questions. And their answer is (ding!):

“Our licensed bakers use a variety of ingredients in the production of Girl Scout Cookies, including, in some cookies, high-fructose corn syrup.”

Ha! I guess the answer is yes.

“Currently, Little Brown Bakers,” that’s one of their bakers, “does not use high-fructose corn syrup in any of its cookie varieties. We trust our bakers, who are industry leaders, to develop recipes using ingredients that will produce the best tasting and highest quality cookies while simultaneously addressing industry trends, scientific trends, and of course consumer preference.”

So one of their bakers doesn’t use high-fructose corn syrup. But the other baker that they use does! You can find high-fructose corn syrup in some of your Girl Scout Cookies.

They’re saying that they use ingredients that will produce the best tasting and highest quality cookies. Well, I’m going to argue with that one. Because I don’t think these are the best tasting or the highest quality. Hmm!

Let’s continue. Of course, they talk about that they use palm oil. Why is palm oil used in Girl Scout Cookies? I’m not as uptight about palm oil. I know there are a lot of issues behind palm oil and how we’re devastating the rain forests so that we can grow palms. There is a movement: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil; they’re working to make more sustainable palm. I know there’s some question on how efficient and effective they really are.

It is a serious problem. It’s not on the top of my list of serious problems. But it is something very serious. The thing is I think palm oil is used in so many other ingredients that we can be getting it out of that I don’t like to focus on. Like vegan food, for example, as an evil palm oil culprit.

We can talk about palm oil some other time, but there is palm oil in Girl Scout Cookies. Yes. Then they have the GreenPalm logo on the side of Girl Scout Cookie packaging. Is that brainwashing?

“The GreenPalm logo on Girl Scout Cookie package signifies a commitment by Girl Scouts and our licensed bakers to develop a worldwide supply of sustainable palm oil. And unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to assure a fully sustainable supply in the quantities required by our bakers.”

Okay, so that’s it with palm oil. But it gets better! Are there GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies? That’s what we were waiting for.

“Girl Scouts of the USA listens to our customers and we work with our trusted bakers, who are industry leaders, to develop recipes that will produce the best tasting and highest quality” –there we go again– ” the best tasting and highest quality cookies while simultaneously addressing industry trends, scientific trends, and of course consumer preference.”

We heard this line before. I continue:

“As an organization, we continue to defer the required federal guidelines as they relate to our products.”

Okay, this is where all the doublespeak goes.

“At the current time, there are genetically modified agricultural crops (GMOs) in Girl Scout Cookies.”

Yay!

“Our bakers determine whether to use GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies based on a range of market related factors” –now you have to read “cost” in there– “and depending on the specific cookie recipe. Girl Scouts recognize that many people have concerns regarding GMO ingredients, and we monitor member and consumer opinion on this matter. It is important to note that there is a worldwide scientific support for the safety of the currently commercialized ingredients derived from genetically modified agricultural crops.”

Do you agree with that one? Worldwide scientific support for the safety of the currently commercialized ingredients? It’s a lot to swallow, but I don’t think there is a worldwide scientific support. There are a lot of us screaming that we don’t want GMOs in our food.

All right. There we go on GMOs. There are GMOs, and you can find them in the soybean oil and the cornstarch.

The good news is that there are a couple gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies this year. To some extent, they are listening. Like I said, they do know what people’s concerns are. They know. But for some reason, they cannot go all the way. Or they can’t do the best possible.

So there are a couple gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies. Now they’re not vegan but gluten-free. One of them is called Toffee-tastic. I wanted to point out a couple of things in them.

Ha ha! They have butter. That’s what makes them not vegan. They’re a rice flour based cookie. They have corn syrup, which is likely GMO. Soy lecithin, which is likely GMO. And xanthan gum, which can be made free of GMOs. But, unless it’s organic and unless the company that manufactures the xanthan gum certifies that it isn’t, then it is GMO ingredients. Isn’t that nice? So there we have the GMO issue in the gluten-free cookie.

There are so many questions here, and I haven’t even read half of them. I’ve only read the ones that pertained to ingredients. But when I read the answer, it doesn’t really give a warm, fuzzy, safe, trust, goodwill kind of feeling. That’s what I was talking about before. Looking at things but having new eyes.

This is such a missed opportunity, but maybe we can turn it around to a positive opportunity. So if any of you have girls –daughters, granddaughters, nieces, nephews, etc., friends that do love to sell Girl Scout Cookies, maybe there’s an opportunity for the girls to turn this around.

I know that there were some girls out there petitioning for different kinds of cookies. Might’ve been gluten-free, don’t remember right now what it was that they were petitioning for. Just like anything else, we don’t have change unless individuals make change. I would love to see a young girl movement saying, “We want cookies that only have wholesome ingredients.”

And when we talk about high quality and best tasting, I mean real food. Food that is not genetically modified. Food that isn’t manufactured to a point where you get high-fructose corn syrup or the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And so on. Of course, wouldn’t it be nice if it was organic?

What kind of lessons are people getting here? I think there are a lot of great lessons that could be had by learning about Girl Scout Cookies and somehow petitioning for change.

So what’s the good news? The good news is several years back, when I started to look at Girl Scout Cookies again, I made my own copycat Girl Scout Cookie recipes. Now, there are lots of copycat Girl Scout Cookies out there, and I highly recommend looking at them because, now this is my personal, you know me, I believe we should all find our kitchen and, as much as possible, make our food.

When it comes to treats, and this is a treat, it is not an everyday food. I think that it’s best that we make them at home. Because we’re kind of less likely to eat more of them and we recognize that it is a treat. We put energy, we put time, and love, whatever; quality ingredients to make them the way we like it.

If you go to Responsible Eating And Living.com and scroll down, you click on the recipe tab and the menu comes up. In the index, you can scroll down to the cookies… Where are the cookies? Oh, they’re under desserts and there will be cookies. And in there you will see the copycat Girl Scout Cookies. All my recipes are gluten-free.

I’ve made the Thin Mint kind of cookie, I love them; these are so good. We have the chocolate-covered peanut butter cream cookie, which is like the Tagalongs. They are amazing. You can make the basic shortbread cookie used in all the recipes or you can cut into cute, fun little shapes. Then there’s the Samoa, which are also called Coconut Delights. Those are cookies with chocolate and coconut on them. I have a recipe for that. And my favorite, the Do-si-dos, the peanut butter sandwich Girl Scout Cookie. I have a recipe for that.

One of the things that I’m working with my recipes –because we’re always learning new things and nothing’s ever perfect, right?– for my Girl Scout Cookies is that they’re rice flour based. I’m currently revisiting a lot of my recipes at Responsible Eating And Living.com in light of the knowledge that there’s a considerable amount of arsenic in rice foods. Rice flour foods don’t score very well. They’re kind of high in arsenic.

I love rice and I still eat rice. I choose to use those that have been tested to have a lower arsenic. Like California grown basmati rice, white or brown; they scored reasonably low for arsenic. So I eat that. We don’t eat rice as much as we used to.

But I do have a lot of rice flour based recipes and I’m going back one-by-one giving substitutions. If the recipe originally called for rice flour, I leave that there as an option but I also include a second flour mix. Which is typically like an all-purpose gluten-free flour that Bob’s Red Mill offers; its base is a mix of garbanzo beans, fava beans, sorghum flour and some starches. It’s a really easy to use flour.

Like I said, nothing’s ever perfect.  The more we learn, the more we discover some of the not-so-nice things.

Anyway, I love my Girl Scout Cookies. I’ve got my box of Thin Mints; I’m not happy about what’s in them but I’m still going to enjoy them.

My number one rule for food is that it has to be vegan. That’s for me because I don’t believe in killing animals, I don’t believe in causing them pain and suffering; that’s the bottom line for me. Occasionally, if some not-so-healthy things get in my body, I hope that my body lets them pass through. Visits and doesn’t stay very long.

So I’m trying them.  There we go. That’s the story on Girl Scout Cookies. Did you buy them? Did you get any Girl Scout Cookies this year? Let me know. What do you think of them? Does it matter to you that they’re not free of GMOs? That they have high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in them? Mmm-mmm-mmm.

You have to remember that any product that says that it’s free of trans fats, you need to read the fine print.  If it says hydrogenated oils, it’s not free of trans fats. It just has less than .5 grams per serving. That serving size may not actually be an actual serving size for you. Might be much smaller, and that’s the trick.

Whew! So I’m looking at something quick, quick, quick, quick… Speaking of GMOs, before we take a little break, there are all kinds of things going on around the country, around the world about legislation. The thing that we’re trying to get, at the very least if we cannot get rid of GMOs right now, is that we at least want to know where they are in our food supply. That requires labeling.

A variety of states so far have tried pretty unsuccessfully to get labeling required on their food. The companies that manufacture genetically-modified food pour in a lot of money to make sure the requirement for labeling doesn’t get passed. They make up all kinds of reasons; they tell the consumers it’s going to cost so much more to change their labels. It’s going to be so difficult and so burdensome. But they’re making it all up.

The news is you may have heard in Vermont that they actually passed the first in the nation law requiring the label of genetically-modified foods. That’s supposed to take effect next year in July 2016. The Groceries Manufacturers Association and other industry groups are now asking for a federal appeals court to overturn, a judge’s refusal to block this law. They recently filed in Burlington, Vermont. We’ll see what happens. The state finalized the GMO labeling rule last month.

Of course the excuse is that the law imposes “burdensome speech requirements” on food manufactures. Now, it’s interesting to me because this happened in Burlington, Vermont. I used to go up there on about a monthly basis ten years ago or more when I worked as a consulting engineer. I used to visit IBM a lot up there. I love visiting Burlington because it was a great place to find delicious food, vegan food. I met a vegan chef up there, back then when I didn’t know very many. He was actually working in the hotel that I stayed at and I was able to get these phenomenal meals.

So I have warm feelings about Burlington, Vermont. I really hope this first in the nation law requiring the labeling of genetically-modified foods does not get turned around.

All right, let’s take a quick break. And when we’re back, we’ll talk more about food. How about that?

Transcribed by HT, 2/9/2016

Break

Hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and we’re back. This is the second part of the show today and I just want to remind you if there’s anybody out there who would like to say hello, you can call in at 1-888-874-4888. It would be really nice to hear from you and if not, you can continue like you do, sending me emails at info@realmeals.org. All right, let’s move on to all the things I want to talk about. I missed last week because I was summoned to jury duty and one day perhaps I will serve on a jury. It hasn’t happened yet. I would like to do it. I think it’s a fascinating thing, I’ve watched enough television shows and movies with trials and juries and it’s something I would like to participate in. The few times I was actually summoned and interviewed by lawyers, they never wanted me to participate on the jury. Somehow I think they knew I was pretty opinionated and this time I wasn’t even interviewed so I went in and sat for a long time and I did get selected to be interviewed, but they never called on me. What I was surprised to find out is how many jury are required for car accidents and that’s what most people were being interviewed for, and just seemed rather sad that there are people suing. Maybe there are times when it isn’t obvious who is wrong or who was wronged but from some of the ones that I’ve heard, it just sounds like people are trying to take advantage of the system and our time. Our time is precious and the jury system, at least in my neighborhood in Queens NY, seems very inefficient. I always try and make the best out of things and I have my computer with me and I was able to do a bit of work. It was calm and quiet and another thing that I like is the opportunity to just casually talk to strangers. I rarely initiate conversations about food and I’m smiling as I say this but if I start talking to people I can’t help myself, but I always try and do it in a nonjudgmental, loving way. I did have an opportunity to talk to a number of people and plant some seeds about whole foods, plant foods, and what are going on with animal foods and all the other things that aren’t so right in our food system. So that’s what I got out of going to jury duty, talking to a few strangers and proselytizing.

Perhaps you participated in the Food Revolution Summit a few weeks ago. My friend John Robbins and his son Ocean Robbins have created the Food Revolution Network which is at foodrevolution.org and a couple weeks ago, they had their Food Revolution Summit, it was eight days long, about three hours a day, and I was really fortunate. I participated in providing a healthy recipe and tip each day and I got to listen to all of the interviews and respond to some of the comments and there were thousands and thousands of comments. It was a very inspiring event and I was really fortunate to be a part of it. One of the things I wanted to bring up, because in deciding what I wanted to talk about today, in terms of looking with our eyes in a new way, I thought about, perhaps you’ve heard in the news how the Food Babe Vani Hari and Dr. Oz have been called on for their “quackery” and misinformation. I learned, during the Food Revolution Summit, from John Robbins, that there’s much more behind what’s going on against Dr. Oz and against Vani Hari the Food Babe than meets the eye. I just wanted to cover that briefly because it’s the theme of today’s show: seeing things from another perspective with new eyes. Now I had the good fortune of being on the Dr. Oz show back in 2007 I think? I was a little frustrated on the program because I was talking about green juice and healthy diets and what saved me when I was going through cancer, and then he and Dr. David Katz started talking about all the healthy cancer food, anticancer food, and they were talking about salmon, and other animal foods that I really didn’t agree with. So, I have to say that I don’t agree with everything that Dr. Oz says and there were some things that are seemingly ridiculous and some are really really very good. What he’s trying to do is just put all kinds of things out there and show people how to think for themselves I think. It’s entertainment and I don’t think he’s really doing anything terrible, certainly not compared to what corporations can do in terms of their marketing and advertising. When I first heard about the Food Babe, I was kind of suspect to, and some of the things I read about her, but learning from the Food Revolution Summit, what I discovered was that of the negative we’re hearing about Vani Hari and Dr. Oz, are coming from the corporate world because these two advocates are against genetically modified food, they food genetically modified food labeling, and corporations don’t like that. Corporations don’t like the power that Vani Hari has had in getting artificial ingredients out of our foods and making companies make change. They don’t like that and so what they’re trying to do is make these people look like “quacks,” not credible, so that they disappear and go away. I don’t think that’s going to happen because there are too many of us who know the truth. Then when I was just kind of looking at what’s been said on Dr. Oz and Vani Hari, I came across a recent article from a couple weeks ago by Rick Berman in the Washington Times. His article was called Exposure of Food Babe, Dr. Oz and he talks just about what I was discussing. He underlines that Kraft foods had announced it was changing the formulation of its famous macaroni and cheese and removing food coloring because it was one of the latest targets from the Food Babe Vani Hari. I laughed because this enforced what I learned from the Food Revolution Summit from John Robbins because I know who Rick Berman is, do you? Rick Berman is a scary kind of guy. Rick Berman is a long time Washington D.C. public relations specialist whose consulting firm Berman and Company Inc. advocates for special interests and powerful industries. He wages deceptive campaigns against industry foes including labor unions, public health advocates, and consumer safety, animal welfare, and environmental groups. He’s linked to all kinds of non-profits that have really lovely sounding names, but when you dig deep and look at them with new eyes, you discover it’s all misinformation, trying to get you not to support the really important information uncovering what’s going on with our food system. How do I know this? He has a couple of websites. The Center for Consumer Freedom, which I stopped looking at a long time ago, it’s so super scary. It’s a front group for the food and beverage industries that attacks any government regulations or activist campaigns that would affect their profits. They spin all kinds of articles to tell you why the attacks on certain regulations are not good and why everything the food and beverage industries are doing are wonderful and it’s all about consumer choice, consumer freedom, that’s why they’re called the Center for Consumer Freedom. Well they have a sister site called activistcash.com and I haven’t looked at the back site for a long time, I looked at it ten years ago and I just looked at it today, and there’s a lot of old, false information including information on me, for example. They have organizations like that one I used to work for which was founded by John Robbins, Earth Save International. They list all these different people that are involved with the organization. They list that I’m secretary and I haven’t been secretary on the board in that organization for a very long time. I was Executive Director for much longer and they just list all kinds of false information, old information. This is the guy who is one of many who are supporting corporate concerns and trying to quiet and silence people like the Food Babe Vani Hari and Dr. Oz. That’s nice isn’t it? So I learned a lot from the Food Revolution Summit.

 

Now, I want to tell you a little bit more about foodrevolution.org before I move on to a few other subjects. That is that the latest project of the foodrevolution.org organization is doing is tonight, there will be a free one hour program, it’s at 8:30 eastern time, 5:39 pacific time. You can go to foodrevolution.org and register for it. It’s a power hour and we’re going to be talking about lots of different things related to food, and address concerns about health and food preparation, and I’m going to be involved. Probably around at the end of the program I will be available with John and Ocean for answering questions. The exciting thing is, in a few weeks, we’re going to be launching the second of a six week online program and I hope you will check it out because the last one we did in October was wonderful and I expect that this one that’s coming up at the end of May to June is going to be even better. There’s nothing like learning about healthy food from John Robbins. He adds so much. I always think he channels the universe and he really packages things in such a lovely and love filled way. It’s a class to help people learn how to eat healthy at home and on the go. In addition to this program that we’ll be offering towards the end of May, I will, as part of some of the program, you can also get me to work with you as a personal coach for three sessions. This is all through this foodrevolution.org program, so if you would like to do that, and I hope you will, I’m really looking forward to it, please go to foodrevolution.org and sign up for the power hour and then you’ll find out about everything else. How’s that sound? I think it sounds pretty good. A few more things in the news and then I’ll talk about some happier delicious things. How’s that?

You know there’s this trade agreement that the U.S. Government is working on and I remember campaigning against all the other trade agreements that have got past. There was NAFTA and CAFTA and now we have TPP, the Transpacific Trade Agreement and there was an interesting article in NPR that was talking about the Transpacific Partnership. The fact that they’re not talking about the impact of the law on health. This is all about trade and it’s all about trade for food, but there’s no consideration about the impact on people’s health. Here’s another example when I say look at things with having new eyes. This is another classic example of see no evil, have no evil, closing your ears, closing your eyes, closing your mouth, not looking at obvious issues. Some of the things that we’ve discovered form these trade agreements that we’ve established, the North American Trade Agreement, the impacts on Mexico and Canada and the United States and then CAFTA, Central America. All these trade agreements we’ve created, in my opinion, have not been beneficial and have not been beneficial to the small family farmers and they have not beneficial for our health. What they’re doing is making those processed foods highly processed foods, less expensive, and people end up eating them, and then they get sick. This is not a good thing and NPR has an article no one is talking about with specific trade deals, means for diets, and this is the conversation we need to be having. Apparently, according to Collin Schwartz, press secretary of the USDA, it says, “U.S. officials say they have no plans to explore the health impacts of the transpacific partnership. We do not see conclusive evidence that trade agreements themselves have a major impact on diet and health one way or another.” They don’t see it because they’re not looking and they need to have new eyes. What can we do, what can we do? There are some things we can do, but we have to know that we need to make noise.

We need to be aware and we need to be screaming at our representatives and to the best of our ability, buying products that don’t support the legislation that we don’t agree and buying locally grown as much as possible and organic. That’s really the best that we can do. We do benefit because we, here in the United States, for example, we get more avocados and watermelons and all kinds of products from Mexico that are now in more abundance than they used to be. I love avocados, but if I could connect the dots and I knew that different countries’ populations were suffering health wise because of a certain agreement that was advantageous to me, to have more variety in my life, I wouldn’t want to support that. I would rather wait for avocados to become in season in California and Florida rather than shift the balance in such a way that I got avocados from Mexico and Mexico ended up getting meat and feed corn for their livestock and so that they could eat more meat and ultimately eat more processed food. That’s not a good thing, not a good thing at all.

Now, speaking of which, there was another lovely little article that came out recently and I always laugh when I see these things and I read them and I go “Oh duh, really.” Apparently we have to do a lot of research on things that we already knew the answer to in order to make significant change. There was an article published last week, April 28th in Nature communications. The title was “Fat, fiber, and cancer risk in African Americans and Rural Africans,” and I’ll read some of the abstract. “Rates of colon cancer are much higher in African Americans, 65 out of 100,000, than in rural Africans, less than 5 in 100,000. The higher rates are associated with higher animal protein and fat and lower fiber consumption. Higher colonic secondary bile acids, lower colonic short chain fatty acid quantities and higher mucosal proliferate biomarkers of cancer risk in otherwise healthy, middle aged volunteers. What they did was they did a two-week food exchange. This was not a brilliant study, but basically they took

African Americans and they fed them a high fiber; low fat, African style diet and they took rural Africans and fed them a high fat, low fiber Western diet and what do you think happened? The food changes resulted in “remarkable reciprocal changes in the mucosal biomarkers of cancer risk and in aspects of micro biota and metabolome known to affect cancer risk.” This is just in two weeks and what’s amazing is in just two weeks, you can either clean up a lot of your body, or you can poison it, either way. The body is so forgiving. Anyone who has not been eating healthfully for a long time, as soon as you get the information, you can make the change for the better and clean up your health and live a more energetic, quality life, for longer. That’s fun. So I’m not surprised with these findings but always like to read stuff like that.

Now what about those animals, what about those animals? There’s something new in New York. There are bills; we’ve got introduced legislation in New York, S59 and A384, to put an end to extreme confinement in New York for pigs in gestation crates and extreme confinement of veal calves. This is good news, isn’t it? The bill S59A-2015 reads: “Pertains to confinement of certain animals for food producing purposes prohibits any person to tether or confine any pig during pregnancy or calf raised for veal for all or the majority of any day in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, and fully extending its limbs and turning around freely; establishes that commission of such a crime shall constitute a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a period not to exceed one year and/or fine not to exceed $1,000. The punishment, in my opinion, is not big enough, but it’s a start and just reading these words is getting me kind of emotional. The fact that we allow these horrors to continue is incredible. The sooner we can get better laws on the books, the better, so if you’re New Yorkers, let your representative know you support bill S59A and the corollary in the assembly which is A384. Pretty good.

This past week I’ve discovered a restaurant in my neighborhood called Bare Burger. It’s been here quite awhile, it’s a chain in the New York Metropolitan area, and I think it goes out to Ohio, New Jersey, and some other places. I always stayed away from it, it never looked very friendly. Occasionally I looked at the menu and I saw elk burgers, duck burgers, bison burgers, I wasn’t happy about it. But I dug a little deeper when I heard a meet up group was having a vegan event at a Bare Burger restaurant because they have three vegan burgers, and all of a sudden, I looked at Bare Burger with new eyes. I discovered some pretty wonderful things about them. They’re all organic, they don’t serve GMOs, and the animals that they do serve are not from factory farms. They have three vegan burgers and some vegan sides and I think this is really a positive move for the future, so you might want to check it out: Bare Burger. Gosh, we’ve pretty much come to the end of the program. I want to direct you to responsibleeatingandliving.com. You might want to get updated on my blog, What Vegans Eat, there’s some fun stuff there. If you look under my “recipe” category, there’s a thing called product review. I get samples of different foods from time to time, and I had the opportunity to sample a Chef Ernesto all natural high quality food and food wine. I had some good points and some not so good points to say and you might check that out, but these are very inexpensive vegetarian frozen foods. They’re not organic, they probably have some GMO ingredients in them, but three of them are vegan and they’re very very inexpensive. I kind of thought they might be fun for party food, so you can check out that review at responsibleeatingandliving.com. Hey, looks like we’ve come to another end of Its All About Food and I’m so glad you joined me and I want to hear from you at info@realmeals.org. Send me an email, send me a note, and tell me how you are and what you’re thinking. Meanwhile, have a delicious week!

Transcribed by Meichin 9/14/2015

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