The Ketchup Project – My Big Idea

I’ve been thinking about the state of our food supply and am honestly quite upset about it.

Monsanto, GMO‘s and big corporate entities are taking over and producing foods they think we should eat.

They are killing us!

The foods do not support good health or well-being. Now rather than just sit around complaining about it, I’ve come up with a plan.

Tell me what you think about it.

It’s called the Ketchup Project.

It’s about making our own condiments and not buying processed foods.

We would learn to make fresh ketchup, mustard, pickles and mayonnaise. We would get together in our communities to make these things and share with each other.

We would know what is in the food we are feeding our families.

We could establish community centers where you could get to know who is processing your food, If you don’t like to cook, there are other jobs to volunteer to do besides cooking. and still be able to share in the production.

At these centers you could get to know your butcher, your grower,who makes your cheese and dairy products, who makes your ketchup, and condiments you eat every day.

You could take “The Mayo Pledge” and learn to make your own. Imagine how much less mayonnaise you’d eat if you had to make it every time you wanted it! It’s easy to make but fresh mayo needs to be made nearly every other day unless you can use pasteurized egg yolks.

It is a step towards health, building community, supporting farms and food producers on a local basis. Best of all it’s a step away from Big Corporate and Processed Foods with so many chemicals and additives, that only simulate the real thing.

Want proof? Make ketchup and compare to what is in your fridge right now. Be sure to process it in a blender to produce the same smoothness.

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

I bet you’d be spoiled for ketchup for the rest of your life; and you might get a glimpse as to why President Regan counted ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches. (Unbelievable, but true).

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Gaining Control of Our Food – How to stand up to Big Corporate Food

The state of our food supply is in crisis and WE are the ones to do something about it.

This is the beginning of a mission. There is a way we can fight back against big food corporations.

Cassie Parsons is a local chef and farmer who has an on-fire passion about local and honest food. This past February she did a TEDx talk about her big idea. In her speech she declares

“Our food supply is broken.”

And she’s right. She’s spot on.

Cassie’s TEDx Talk is linked below, give it a listen, Please.

This is what I have to say about the state of our food.

“America has the worst food in the world.”

We have the most and the worst. Quantity does not make quality food. Quantity has never made quality in any industry. Still there are so many that go hungry;  that is another discussion for another day.

We are in a state of change and increasing awareness. There is no reason to feel helpless about our food supply unless you decide not to do anything or you think someone else will do it instead.

That’s what Big Food is counting on, good old American apathy.

We’re world champions in apathy, we’re apathetic champions off the freaking chart.

You know what?

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the time for change is here; it’s NOW and it’s up to us.

We can’t let this go.

I want to talk about what we can do to stop Big Corporate Food from developing, planting and growing GMO‘s and other food atrocities they have developed and forced on us. They think we don’t need to know; they think we don’t care.

Worst of all is they think they can get away with it.

Here is the biggest thing, We DO have a choice. We have to demand the truth as to what is in our food, how it is processed and how the animals are treated and what’s in it; we have to get involved with our food.

Two news reporters were fired for not watering down a report about Monsanto and recombinant bovine growth hormone  causing cancer in humans who drink milk from cows treated with rBGH. rBGH is injected into dairy cows every two weeks to increase milk production which increases profits at the expense of human health. Click the link above to read the article.

Have you heard of rBGH? Big Food feels you don’t need to know if the milk you drink and give to your children is from cows treated with rBGH. You only find it mentioned on milk without it.

You don’t need to know that commercially grown strawberries can have residue of up to 13 different pesticides on them.

You don’t need to know that in order to “water” the plants, workers need to wear hazardous  material suits “to protect them”.

From what?! Aren’t they supposed to be “watering”?

The bees are dying due to the use of GMO seeds for growing crops.

Monarch butterflies are affected by GMO corn crops. You can hardly find non-gmo corn  anymore, even then, I’d question it. Same with soy and soy products.

If you read food labels, you may have noticed high fructose corn syrup products appears in nearly all processed foods.

What about additives, preservatives, FD&C color dyes for food, drugs and cosmetics (FD&C means that it has been approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics) and who knows what else they put into products. How many of us read a label, see a list of 40 or so ingredients, glaze over it and buy the product anyway?

Those aren’t “cherries” on your cherry danish from that favorite fast food place, but a “cherry-like” substance with full cherry flavor. Read it.

Leave the products on the shelves! Drive by fast food, you and your family devserve better.

How can we make a change?

With our purchasing power and the decisions we make. Learn to make some of the “processed” food we buy at home; pickles, condiments, sauces, salad dressings, mayonnaise there are so many easy things to learn.

Photo: Let’s change the way we grocery shop

When we buy food that has come from a long distance from where we stand, we pay for that in more than money. When we buy those products, we no longer support our local economies. That money goes back to where the product came from or was produced.

Cassie explains this in her TEDx talk. I suggest when you are finished reading this post, go get a cup of coffee, glass of tea or whatever refreshing beverage you want, come back and watch Cassie Parsons talk. There’s a link at the end of this post and only about 18 minutes long. It will make you think.

It will empower you and implore you to do something too. When you process your own condiments and other food, you know your ingredients, you know what you are serving; you know ALL the ingredients and the quality used.

Yo wont find pink slime in your burgers if you grind your own meat, you won’t find bone scrapings and other left over bits if you learn to make your own fresh sausage.

If you do this right, you also know who raised the pig and get the casings from the same farmer.

If you make your own pickles, know the farmer who grew the cucumbers. There are farmers markets in nearly every city on nearly every day of the week. There is no reason not to find one and use them.

Beyond benefits of local foods, you gain the benefit of a stronger local economy, a stronger social community, which leads to great places to live and raise families. Why? Because you know who is growing your food, what they are growing and how. You share things, trade things, eat healthier, you build a better community.

Your health will be infinitely better. My grandfather used to tell me you can grow it yourself, pay the farmer, or pay the big grocery stores and then pay the hospital bills. He grew all his vegetables and raised a large family with fresh bread, fresh fish and good food.

If we decide to make our own processed foods (yes, there is a learning curve) we can have an impact on big food profit. If products sit on the shelves, if people stop buying them, it will have an impact on profits, which would get BCF attention.

Maybe then, Monsanto and other companies would listen to “Please No GMO!”

Watch this, out of the mouths of babes, the young people get it and it scares them.

If everyone learned just one thing they could make, make enough to share with neighbors, swap, make things together and share. This is not only about building our health, but community and quality of life.

We don’t have to feel helpless or voiceless in this food crisis. We have a choice. WE can do something, each and every one of us.

Buy local.

Ask questions about the food you buy.

Support local farmers.

Learn to make basic condiments, with a group and share.

Start a pickling group or whatever. Make food about people, health and community again; take the profit away from Big Corporate Food.

Stop the apathy and get involved, your health depends on it.

Here’s Cassie’s talk below

Awareness of Eating

“Never trust a skinny chef!” is how the old saying goes. But let’s examine that adage and explore the rearrangement of a common cliché.

As we become more aware of our diets, the effects food has on our bodies and how it makes us feel, there needs to be a basis of trust between the cook and the consumer.

English: White House chefs, directed by Execut...

English: White House chefs, directed by Executive Chef Henry Haller, prepare for a state dinner honoring Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. The chefs are working in the White House kitchen; the dinner occured in 1981, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the chef, the person responsible for creating the menu and training the kitchen staff on how to prepare the various dishes.

Since I have worked in kitchens, I know a lot more about how restaurant kitchens run than most. If the person creating my meal is on the heavy side, typically sauces and flavorings  would be full of butter, fats, salts and sugars.

“A heavy chef means they enjoy their food, so it must be good!”

Really? How many people who are overweight have a hard time identifying a proper portion size? Someone who struggles with weight will eat for the sake of eating.

Someone who has emotions (hopefully all of us) will eat sometimes for comfort. Think of chicken soup when you’re ill; but when you can’t stop eating weight becomes an issue.

Sometimes the food choices we make are simply because the food we choose is familiar, it is what we know. But what if that food is bad for us? What if people really don’t understand the processed food they are eating is bad?

Evidence the obesity crisis in the USA.

Jamie Oliver is doing an eating awareness program in West Virginia to address the problem of obesity. He goes into an elementary school and the children cannot identify fresh tomatoes on the vine, cauliflower or even potatoes.

The pile of pizza, corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, cakes and ice cream all over the table that represented what the family ate for a week was disturbing. Most disturbing of all is that the mom didn’t know the food was bad for them. They weren’t hungry and she thought that was good.

But she is killing her family. Her 10-year old son is already 350 pounds. Really, “Well we’re not hungry”?!

Shocking. How did it get so far?

I want a chef who is inventive but not at the expense of my health. I want someone preparing my food with the same attitude I have for health.

Obesity is a rampant problem in the USA. Identifying proper nutrients is a major issue. Processed foods, fast foods, restaurant foods loaded with fats, salts and sugars invade the diets of every day eating all around us.

The basic food environment in the USA is severely lacking in good solid nutritious fresh food.

Drive through any town, fast foods for everything from donuts, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian; fried and fast is what lines the streets. It isn’t easy to choose not to eat fast food, especially when you are hungry, the temptation is great to give in.

There are many of us who are aware of what we eat. Those on gluten-free diets are aware of nearly every product they eat. Thankfully, gluten-free is easier to find these days, but there is still the issue of all that fat, sugar and sodium.

When we eat out, we are at the mercy of the kitchen to actually know how to make food taste good without the added fat, salts and sugar.

Slapping butter, sugar and salt onto food is an easy way to make anything taste good. Cooking like that takes no skill at all.

Using salt is an important seasoning but so many far overdo the salt thing. Adding some salt to cooking water when boiling pasta, rice or potatoes is usually all you need.

I love salt! I adore all the different kinds of salt there are, yet I don’t overdo it either.

I am not looking for a chef who serves me a plate full of sauces and vegetables full of butter. I am looking for foods that are cooked correctly and seasoned to bring out the full of flavors.

People need to learn what a proper portion size looks like. Restaurants serve enough to 1 person to feed three and yet that one person still tries to eat as much as they can because that is what they are served.

Case in point: The Cheesecake Factory (Hint right there) offers a “Crispy Chicken Costoletta” which serve up a whopping 2610 calories, 89 grams of fat and 2720 milligrams of salt. Costolotta alright, cost a lotta health if you eat all that.  If you really have to eat that, then break it down into three meals at least. (Nutrition Action Healthletter, January/February 2012) Best of all, choose another place to eat.

Watch buffets; people load up their plates as if they only have one visit. All manner of foods get glopped together on a plate so it becomes a huge pile of goop melange. Why not go get some salad, talk, visit with your dining companions, eat, and return for entrée, then again for dessert. It seems more civil. Why are we rushing? Trying to beat the mental signal you are full?

But instead they try to slip that cherry cobbler right next to the fried chicken and coleslaw that sits on top of the ranch dressing salad with “Country Crocked” yeast rolls underneath.

Then they stuff it all in, make a second trip and wonder why they have bellies the size of VW Bug cars.

Burp.

Talking to Tyler the other day, he mentioned he was having his girlfriend over for dinner and he had to go set the table. I felt good knowing he was carrying on a family value: Setting a table and sitting there to eat dinner and talk to each other about the day.

An attractive dinner setting

An attractive dinner setting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something so small, yet it is so important. Our social and family bonds grow stronger with each meal gathering. Shouldn’t the food put in front of us be nourishing as well?

The movement to better health through eating well begins with each one of us making a choice.

If you don’t know how to cook or how to choose better nutrition, take a class and learn. Get your children involved with preparing meals; they are more likely to try new foods if they have a hand in making the dish.

Step away from the sugar bowl! Put down those sodas and juice boxes. Drink water, teas, non-fat milk. There are even flavored waters with bubbles if you simply must have a fizzy drink.

Try extra-virgin coconut and olive oils instead of butter. Your heart will thank you.

I started taking a Therapeutic Nutrition class a few weeks ago. My eyes have really been opened to how severe the obesity epidemic is and that we CAN do something about it.

That something is education and choice.

I hope you can join me in starting something is your neighborhood. The future depends on our kids, how can they carry on if they aren’t healthy?

First step ANYONE can take:

Don’t eat any food advertised on TV

Except eggs and milk, of course!

Sorry Jared, Subway needs a better way.

Make a sandwich from home. Learn to cook fresh foods and eliminate processed foods. It may take a while to actually accomplish this, but you will be rewarded with better health and more money in your pocket.

If each of us took one small step towards better eating and nutritious health, we could change a nation. We can start in our own homes.

The power of one can inspire another.

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Coconut Oil – Myth and Reality

Coconut oil has become the latest buzzword in healthy diets these days.

Healthy coconut oil? This goes against everything we have been told for the last 65 years.

English: This is a photo of one of my painting...

I must admit I held a lot of misconceptions about coconut oil until I started doing research and talking to people about using the oil.

If you want to know a very simple analysis of what I found read below.

How to use coconut oil in the kitchen is after the research. If you get bored by the technical stuff, drop down to the kitchen section.

“Coconut oil is high in fat and therefore bad for you.”

The fat found in coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid or triglyceride. Most vegetable and seed oils are composed of long-chain fatty acids. The medium-chain fatty acids are easily processed in the liver without insulin spikes. They are easy to break down therefore are used by the liver as energy rather than stored as fat cells like the long-chain fatty acids.

Coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, rarely found in nature, lauric acid is known as a ‘miracle’ element due to its ability to

Chemical structure of Lauric acid created with...

Chemical structure of Lauric acid created with ChemDraw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

promote health in the body. The body converts lauric acid into an anti-viral and anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa substance.

(Bacteria, viruses and parasites such as some protozoa, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, are major sources of food borne illnesses.)

“Coconut oil is a saturated fat. It can build up in your system and cause clogged arteries, obesity and heart disease.”

Actually the opposite is what is true.

We have been told for the last 65 or so years, all saturated fats are bad for you. Consuming saturated fats can lead to health issues.

The health issue list includes obesity, heart disease, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, just to name a few.

Some saturated fats occur naturally and some are created, like margarine.

Bombarding  molecules with hydrogen to produce a thick sticky substance has no health benefits whatsoever. Yet this is what has been sold to us in the form of margarine and preached to us by the ad agencies as being “beneficial, healthy, and a better choice than butter. Witness the popularity of things like Country Crock, Parkay and I can’t believe it’s not Butter kind of products.

The created products are full of trans-fats, which we should avoid completely.

The marketing industry convinced us that because coconut oil was solid at room temperature, it should never be consumed. It was used in cosmetics to benefit the skin, but it was shunned as an ingredient in our diets.

Research has discovered these negative myths about coconut oil are not true. Studies have been done on cultures that thrive on coconut oil in their diets to show lower rates of obesity, no cardiovascular disease, and over all better general health than we have in the USA.

Coconut oil helps equalize cholesterol levels by promoting HDL in the blood which helps improve the HDL/LDL ratio. Additionally coconut oil helps promote healthy thyroid function thereby also assisting cholesterol and boosting energy and endurance. A boost to the thyroid can also pump up your metabolism, which is a great benefit!

Consumption of coconut oil helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. It helps blood sugar stabilize, it can help resist fungus and yeast and can improve how the body uses insulin.

Consuming 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily, in this 2009 study, demonstrated benefits. In this 12-week study, the women did not gain weight but actually lost stomach fat during the study. Reading this study made me decide to give coconut oil a try.

English: Coconut oil in solid state

Coconut Oil in the Kitchen

Selecting Coconut Oil:

You want extra-virgin, organic coconut oil. Read the labels!

Not all coconut oil is the same. Some is hydrogenated which is what you want to avoid.

Storing Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil has a low melting point (76°F) and a high smoke point (350°F). Store the oil in a cool dry place like a cabinet.

Do not store the coconut oil in the refrigerator.

Do not store it near the stove because it could cause it to melt.

Store it in a cool cabinet away from the stove. It should last about 2 years without going rancid.

But if you are using it, it shouldn’t last that long.

Using Coconut Oil:

Use Coconut Oil to saute or pan-fry your meals and snacks. Popcorn is wonderful popped in a bit of coconut oil.

Saute kale for an incredible flavor! The sweetness of the coconut oil really enhances and tames the bitterness of kale.

Use it to saute any vegetable, chicken, fish, or meat.

Use it just as you would any cooking oil. However because it is solid below 76°F, it is best not used in dressings or marinades. Use a quality grade of olive oil for these items instead.

Here is another use for coconut oil: replace butter or solid shortening (Crisco or margarine)with equal amounts of coconut oil in baking recipes. Your baked goods will be amazing and much healthier.

Does it make everything taste like coconut?

While the oil has the very mild scent of coconut, so far I cannot detect the flavor of coconut when I cook with it. Sometimes things may taste a bit “sweeter” but not like sweet as if you added sugar.

Just an enhancement of the natural sweetness that is already there.

Last night I marinated some chicken breasts in a spicy “Cockalacky” sauce which is made with sweet potatoes. After the marinade, the breasts were breaded in panko and pan-fried in coconut oil until done.

The oil really brought the flavor of the sweet potato used in the marinade, such a nice flavor surprise!

While I have added coconut oil to our diets, we still use other oils as well. I enjoy the flavors of various seed and nut oils in salad dressings. Additionally the various oils also have other health benefits.

This is not about giving up other oils but about making smarter choices, more informed choices.

The key thing to remember fat is fat.

Just because it is coconut oil does not mean you can consume mass quantities of it. As with all fats, use it in moderation.

For the next 12 weeks, I am going to get 2 tablespoons a day of coconut oil into my diet. I am looking forward to seeing the results. Hopefully my skin and hair will not suffer winter dryness, my tummy fat will start to disappear and I will feel great. I have a physical in soon so it will be interesting to compare the numbers from last year to this.

Summer 2013 Update

This summer I heard of using coconut oil instead of sunscreen. Personally, I think that’s taking it a bit too far. I love using coconut oil on my skin, it feels so good but instead of sunscreen? “They” may say that coconut is naturally SPF 30 but I think I’ll back it up with some SPF 50 just to be sure.

Before foregoing coconut oil for sunscreen, ask your dermatologist their professional opinion!

Skin cancer is no laughing matter and not worth a risk.

Use all fats in moderation, including coconut oil.

While I have lost 13 pounds so far, my goal is 10 more, it isn’t all because of coconut oil. It’s more about making better choices.

Do you use coconut oil? Why or why not?

Please share your thoughts and experiences so we can all learn something from each other.

Coconuts