Thursday, January 21, 2010

Victory! Michael Schmidt Found Not Guilty!

I have just returned home from Newmarket, Ontario where my daughters and I sat in on the court ruling for Michael Schmidt.  I am elated to report that Michael, biodynamic farmer, raw milk advocate extraordinaire was found not guilty!

Way to go, Michael!  Thank you for holding strong to your convictions and doing what was right, even in the face of great adversity.  What an example you are.  I know that what we witnessed in that courtroom today taught my daughters and I a profound lesson.  I can only imagine the ripple effect your courage will produce.  Michael, we raise our glasses of raw milk to you, in honour of your tireless efforts and your steadfast convictions, we thank you.  Cheers!

Today is a very good day, indeed. WooooHooooo!

CP:  Ontario Farmer Found Not Guilty of Charges Related to Selling Raw Milk
NP:  Michael Schmidt Acquitted in Raw Milk Case
Globe&Mail: Dairy Farmer Wins Battle Over Raw Milk

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Canadian Court Ruling on Raw Milk

If you're anywhere near Newmarket, Ontario on January 21st.  Please come out and join us in supporting Michael Schmidt.  If you would like to participate in the rally or view the court proceedings, more information can be found below.

Plan to promote connections between natural farmers and dairies and families who want fresh, wholesome and healthy natural food choices
Alliance for Raw Milk Launched in U.S. and Canada ally Scheduled for Date of Schmidt Verdict
 By Online  Saturday, January 16, 2010
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA –  In response to the increasing government offensive against raw dairy farms, U.S. and Canadian Alliances for Raw Milk (ARMs) were launched this month. These Alliances for Raw Milk (US ARM and Canadian ARM) and Family Farm and Food Freedom plan to promote connections between natural farmers and dairies and families who want fresh, wholesome and healthy natural food choices, based on their nutritional education and food traditions.
The ARMs and their members have declared they have the right and freedom to choose the foods they deem to maintain and restore their health and the right to farm their own land and trade/share the produce with others. The Alliances also come at a time of unwarranted and rapidly increasing legal, regulatory and enforcement actions by state, provincial and federal agencies against small natural, sustainable and organic farms and food operations, especially in the dairy arena.
The Canadian ARM is already organized in Ontario and British Columbia. In these two provinces raw dairy cow boarding programs are beset with regulatory harassment. These private agistment or cow boarding arrangements by their very nature are outside of the retail marketing system. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, works to defend the rights of these private contracts, with their built in transparency and accountability, to unregulated free trade.
Ontario farmer, Michael Schmidt, of Glencolton Farms, last year, sued the Canadian government for interfering with his right to farm, the judge’s decision in the case is due on January 21.  British Columbia farmer Alice Jongerden of Home on the Range Farm, has recently had her milk accused of high bacteria counts in the press by health officials. A California dairyman, Mark McAfee, who himself has suffered losses due to regulatory abuse, claims that Health Canda’s findings show disregard for established lab standards, old fermented milk, and show the presence of good bacteria and not bad bacteria.
In the U.S. the states of Wisconsin, California, and Ohio ARM’s are well underway with thousands of members and more states are pending. Sources in major U.S. raw milk groups say there is strong interest for the EU and Australia and India to join forces in the Alliance.
Michael Schmidt, internationally known farmer and co-director of Canadian ARM, said:
“Forming local state, federal and international alliances of concerned individuals is of utmost importance. What has to be burning in our soul, is the urge to be free and the determination not to be returned to a modern form of slavery. Blinded by wealth, comfort and convenience we are in grave danger of unconsciously consenting to the takeover of our well being by Government. This battle about raw milk is a battle about food freedom and our individual rights. This is not an isolated battle, this is a global issue beyond our imagination.”
Michael Schmidt, a degreed Canadian biodynamic dairy farmer and teacher has become a well-known North American icon in the food freedom battle. The first joint event of the ARMs will be held the day of the verdict in his case is handed down.

Alliance for Raw Milk Rally
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Time: 12:00 noon - 3:30pm
Location: 465 Davis Drive Old Tannery, Newmarket Ontario
For more details see event posting.
US Alliance for Raw Milk
Canada Alliance for Raw Milk

Monday, January 18, 2010

Neolithic Paleolithic

It's yummy, yes, but raw honey is still sugar in the body.  Fructose, actually. Lots of fructose.

I find myself doing it again and again. A little here, a bit there and before you know it, I find myself craving all sorts of something-sweety-please. Eating a paleo style diet is, by its very definition, simple: grass fed meats, some wild caught seafood, healthy fats, some cultured veg and you got yourself a stellar meal.

The problems start when I decide to make a little 'treat'.  Of course, I pacify myself by only using a little raw, organic honey, raw butter, a little almond or coconut flour instead of grains.  Unfortunately, my rationalization doesn't translate to reality in my body.  Those healthy, primal-style muffins I'm swallowing are chased with a glug of cravings-for-more.

I see it in my kids, too. What old Slavic gene of mine requires me to make them these little 'treats'? They all know the difference between a white flour pancake and our alternative, but, really, why have that alternative? Is it not just a vehicle to get some sort of sugar into the body? And when I say sugar I mean something sweet. Doesn't making these substitutes just maintain the desire for these neolithic foods?

Dr. Kurt Harris' recent post, "Smoking Candy Cigartettes" is a wickedly smart and insightful commentary on this little mind game we play with ourselves.  Dr. Harris also comments on that oft-faced dilemma of what to do when social etiquette suggests we should stuff some grossness into our gullet, all in the spirit of keeping the peace.

Smoking Candy Cigarettes

Some of you are no doubt too young to remember them.
They came in two forms when I was a kid in the late 60’s. The first was a hard white candy stick the same length as a standard filtered cigarette but just a bit thinner. No particular flavor, unless “sucrose” is a flavor. There was a red, actually pink, smudge painted onto one end to simulate the ember of a real smoke.
The other kind was the one I preferred. It was actually a stick of pink bubblegum. Nude, this faux cancer-stick was not too realistic and certainly did not make you look tough, as it was pink, but if you could resist the urge to chew it right away, the dimensions were closer to a real cigarette and it had a white paper wrapper, the mouthward inch or so embossed with a printed pattern that made it look like a filter.
At least one of these – I know for sure the hard candy ones and I believe the gum ones as well - had a coating of fine confectioner’s sugar that, with a sharp puff outward, you could imagine for about two puffs that you were part of the sophisticated world of those who fit in – the smokers.
After those two puffs, you could become a regular gum-chewing or candy crunching kid, or you could go for another “smoke”.
The idea that a 9 year-old kid feigning a bad habit is more likely to take up the real and very deadly one it is modeled on makes a good libertarian roll his eyes- now what, even candy cigarettes are bad?
But there may be something to the idea. It turns out that no tobacco company has ever sued a candy company for using their brand names on candy cigarettes. It seems obvious that candy companies counted on Junior’s emulation of Dad and Big Tobacco allowed trademark infringement to enable candy companies to socialize the new recruits. 
Does this remind you of anything?
When you go to the birthday party for your neighbor’s kid, and you eat the birthday cake, what message does that send?
You show up looking trim and fit. You pride yourself on being a nice person. You are happy with your progress and pleased if people ask you how you lost weight, maybe more when they seem to look at you funny – a little jealous, maybe even suspicious. After eating this way for a few years, though, you are perhaps most comfortable if no one says anything at all.
You are weary of the reactions -the incredulity, the mockery, the eye-rolling. Pushing 50, you’ve tried pulling up your shirt to point at your gentle washboard, but you’ve learned that the segue to explaining why you are not just cultivating an attractive corpse due to all that arterycloggingsaturatedfat that you live on is tedious and it gets you nowhere.
So, not having been clinically diagnosed as having celiac disease, when the rectangular slab of Hy-Vee or Piggly Wiggly birthday cake – frosted 3/8” thick and a stratum of oily granular sugar running through the middle to boot – is proferred, you say “thank you”, flash a non-Duchenne smile that only a trained psychologist would question, and accept it, holding the flimsy paper plate and plastic fork with both hands to keep it from tumbling onto the ground.
You repair to some corner of the party where you can nibble at the cake, maybe spill a few crumbs, and eventually hide the paper plate, now soggy with vegetable oil absorbed from the corpus of the cake.
Who are the agents of acculturation here?
Even if you are not Philip Morris, are you the candy company?
What do the kids think? Well, they probably think nothing at all. It’s a birthday party after all and presents and sugar buzzes and juice and soda and treats are the sea they swim in.
All the time.
They will have no opportunity to say to you, “How come you don’t want cake?” or to their parents – “how come that skinny man doesn’t eat cake?”.
OK, young children probably wouldn’t notice one way or another, but what if you said, “No, thanks” to the cake offer? What if mom is serving, and asks “Why not?”.
Is there not a small but finite probability that you could give an answer that might lead to a discussion – a discussion that might change someone’s life, even if it’s not the questioner’s.
Maybe an image conscious teenage girl notices an adult male who from the neck down looks fitter than all the boys at her school who don’t play sports, and some of the ones that do. Maybe she hears you talk about your lack of hunger and maybe, being a teenager, after all, she is attracted to the transgressive notions you hint at – carnivory, saturated fat -that obviously horrify her parents.
How can this scenario, however unlikely, ever occur if we all keep pretending that we eat agricultural food like everyone else. Food that is constructed or manufactured instead of killed, food that is not real, food that everyone thinks is just fine for people to eat, as long as it goes easy on the “fat”.
Maybe your response to me is “Hey, lighten up, man. I do my part. I preach paleonutrition and the virtue of real food and animal fats on a selective basis.  I can’t be expected to ruin everyone’s day all the time.”
OK, you wear the Real Food Uniform often enough to do some good. No one expects you to get fired over diet advocacy at the office picnic.
If you nibble the cake to be neighborly, maybe the only damage you’ve done is some minimal aiding and abetting – The minions of Ancel Keys and the harpies of Ornish and Campbell have a little less work to do.
You’ve helped them just a little with your vignette of The Thin and Fit Old Guy Who Proves It’s Fine To Eat a Bunch of Sugar.
But what happens when you go home?
Do you doff the uniform of the Real Food Army and join Keys’ agricultural army reserve? Do you train yourself to crave the manufactured food of the dominant paradigm? Do you make and eat food with the modifier “paleo” in front of it?
Food that is designed to look and taste like signal dishes of 19th and 20th century industrially-inspired and manufactured food?
Paleo pancakes?
Paleo cupcakes?
Try a google search of neolithic treats with the prefix “paleo-” stuck on.
Here’s one:

You can make pancakes without flour? Yes! Recipe from xxxxxxxxx:
1. Beat/Mix:
1-2 eggs
1-2 table spoons of crushed almonds (or nut butter ... no peanut butter though .... peanuts are beans, not nuts)
cinnamon to taste
2. Fry the batter as you would a pancake on greased pan.
3. Top with fresh fruit. I usually heat up frozen mixed berries from Costco. When you heat them up they get all juicy and act as a syrup. I also like to add a little bit of honey even though this is not true paleo because of it's likeness to sugar.

Crushed nuts mixed with eggs? Who thinks this is not just a vehicle for sugar?
“Frozen mixed berries……get all juicy and act as syrup”
You bet they do!
Honey has a likeness to sugar ….well I suppose if likeness means “is”.
Here is another:
Paleo Pancakes Ingredients:
         1 1/2 Cups Pecan Flour (or almond flour)
         1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
         4 Eggs
         1/4 Cup Butter, melted
         1/8 Cup Agave Nectar
         1 tsp. Vanilla
         1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Cook pancakes in a non-stick skillet.
Serve with natural fruit spread or pumpkin butter.
2 tablespoons of Agave nectar would give 18-27 grams of fructose, plus whatever is in the arbitrary quantity of “natural” fruit or sugar-laden pumpkin butter you put on it. A small pack of M&Ms candy has 12 g fructose.
1 ½ cups of almond flour is about 6 or 7 ounces. Almonds are about 17% PUFA, nearly all n-6 linoleic acid, probably well-oxidized after frying in a skillet hot enough to give the “pancake” that golden hue we all like.
That seems like a pretty big oxidized linoleic acid dose to just to manufacture a sugar vehicle.
Does anyone agree that “paleo pancakes” taste like complete shite unless absolutely smothered in hepatotoxic sucrose/ and or butter?
Why not just have 4 eggs fried in butter, cream in your coffee, and a few ounces of unfried almonds?
Why mash it together into a “pancake” if it’s not about the sugar?
If it’s because your kids will scream without a sugar vehicle (we all know 4-year-olds are more physically powerful than crossfitters and are messed with at your peril!), what will your kids do the first morning at University in the breakfast line when there is pile of all-you-can eat pancakes? Will they know there’s wheat flour in place of the ground-up almonds you’ve been conditioning them with?
Would it not be better to train your kids, and yourself, to avoid Neolithic food by the simplest expedient there is? So simple a child could manage it?
Something as simple as a simple rule.
A rule like:
Don’t eat anything that looks like Neolithic food, especially Neolithic food.

What is the point of all this? I just don’t get it, and I don’t think it is because I am just too lazy to make this stuff. 
It’s easy to make fun of commercial junk in a box like “low carb” pasta, zone and atkins bars, etc. All stuff that may be gluten free or have sawdust in place of of high GI starch, but whose real reason for existence is just to appropriate what should properly be freestanding, honest, real food back into the maw of corporate big-agra commercial interests.
How about this:

I am not making this up.  A “Paleo” chocolate cake loaded with Stevia, price $45 US. Note the high-end Barbara Barry tile in the background. I suppose that explains the price.
I am on record as stating that eating anything sweet should be totally avoided if you do not want to have difficulty avoiding sweets. I cannot prove it, but it seems plausible that eating and drinking artificial sweeteners is a physiologic version of “smoking candy cigarettes”. There is likely to be some neuro-hormonal conditioning along with three diet sodas a day. Is there any way a diet soda habit makes it easier to avoid the hyper-ubiquitous sweets we are surrounded by?
I think “cheat days” make just as much sense as a weekly Marlboro red for ex-smokers or lines of coke once in a while after you have left Hazelden. But I admit that is a mere common sense observation, and if it “works” for you to go hyperglycemic or have an extra BM once a week, go for it.
But this “paleo food” thing is bogus. If your food needs a prefix, it is not “paleo” in either the historical or the metabolic sense, and it is, more emphatically, not paleo in the sense that it is helping to keep alive the reigning agricultural paradigm – the one that wants our food to look like agricultural food so that we still crave agricultural food.
Manufacturing simulacra of grandma’s comfort food in your kitchen is either:
1)   Pointless work to make something awful tasting
2)   A veiled excuse to make a sugar vehicle
3)   An unconscious exercise in the service of Ancel Keys’ Neolithic Food Army Reserve. Keep that big-agra-supplied uniform pressed and hanging in the closet, waiting for the call-up. For the day when the paleo-pancake is not doing the trick, and hell, why not have just one real pancake?
If you’re not as evil as the tobacco company or as cynical as the candy company, are you still unconsciously the kid at school sharing cigarette –shaped treats with his playmates at recess?
Are you nurturing the seed of the dominant agriculture-based dietary paradigm, an unconscious conscript in Ancel Keys’ sugar-is-innocent reserve army?
If you are a vector for cultural change, which way is the arrow pointing?
Wear your Real Food Uniform.
Active Duty.
Fly your freak-flag high.
Say no to the cake.

Top photo by Sally Mann - Candy Cigarette - 1989 - reproduced under fair use doctrine

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tales from Europa

Ah yes, here we be, fresh off the gigantic KLM plane that delivered us safely home from our wonderful trip to Europe.  I learned a few things while I was there.  On a personal level, I learned that there's a reason why I don't eat gluten.  My body doesn't like it and my brain doesn't work on it.  Still, a croissant in Paris may just be worth some fleeting pain.

Here's some food stuff I was surprised by:
  • The cost of organic meat and raw, organic cheese!  We feasted on raw cheeses, and all sorts of organic, biodynamic cultured goodies (Germany had all sorts of cultured dairy products that I'd never even heard of).  I paid about 60-75% less for real food there compared to what I would pay here, in Canada.
  • It's easy to eat healthy in the parts of Europe we visited.  A trip to the grocery store bought our family of five an impressive meal for less than 20 Euros.
  • Raw butter is ridiculously good and even more ridiculously inexpensive in Paris.  We were looking for things to put it on.  After a while, we gave up and just ate it sliced, like cheese.  It was that good.
  • Glass!  I actually bought my cultured dairy products in glass while in France. I avoid plastic, especially with enzymatically-alive foods, but I had no problem finding plastic-free stuff. And, wow, the yoghurt there is to die for.
  • Raw, biodynamic honey is 80% cheaper than what we pay here. Why?  Same thing with organic coffee and raw, organic nuts. 
The trip was wonderful and it was such a happy surprise to learn that eating well was actually going to be easy for us there. If I was paying those prices here, our grocery budget would easily be cut in half (at least).

Other things I learned is that it's easy for me to have a couple Belgian chocolates here, and then something delectable from a bakery there.  It's not so easy on my body though.  I have some work to do on squashing my sweet cravings and getting my routines up and running.

In the meantime, here's a great little idea that Health Canada is presently pondering:  how to negate the toxic consequences of cooking starches at high heat (acrylamides, anyone?).  Well, let's logic this one out, shall we?  Acrylamides are cancer forming.  People like their acrylamide-rich foods.  Heck, let's just put the chemotherapy drug right into the food and then munch away happily!  Chemotherapy fries! Bloody brilliant!

Cancer-fighting additive weighed for junk food
By CBC News
Canada is investigating whether to approve the use of a cancer-fighting additive in junk food, but Health Canada wants consumers to weigh in on the idea first.
The concern surrounds a chemical byproduct called acrylamide that is produced when carbohydrates such as bread or potatoes are cooked at high temperatures.
Studies in mice suggest acrylamide may cause cancer. There is less evidence in humans, but the suggestion that it might has governments and food manufacturers looking for ways to reduce the potential.
That's where the additive comes in. It's an enzyme used in some chemotherapy agents to treat leukemia. Food manufacturers say adding it could bring down levels of acrylamide in heated foods since the enzyme breaks down the acrylamide.
Health Canada's safety assessment of the enzyme, which is called asparaginase, didn't turn up any health or safety concerns.
Asparaginase had not been used in food until the discovery of acrylamide, said Varoujan Yaylayan, a food science professor at McGill University in Montreal.
'At some stage, we need to take responsibility for our own good health.'?Liz Head
Use of the enzyme is approved by regulators in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, and has been given a green light by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, Health Canada said.
The Canadian regulator is seeking public comments on the proposal until Feb. 21.
There are easier ways to deal with acrylamide, said dietitianJennifer House of Calgary.
"It makes common sense to just stop eating these foods when we know they're not good for us."
The Canadian Cancer Society takes the same position.
The proposal has already generated a lot of opinions from consumers.
"I thought Health Canada was supposed to encourage healthy eating habits," Judith Ryan told CBC News. "If the additive is used, people will think junk food is safe and eat more. The result will be more obesity, more diabetes and more heart disease, and eventually more costs to the health-care system. How smart is this?"
Liz Head called the proposal "rubbish."
"When are we going to learn that to be healthy human beings we need to change our eating habits? The best way to prevent cancer is to eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and some protein.
"At some stage, we need to take responsibility for our own good health and I know those changes are hard to make. Just put some sour cream and onion chips in front of me!"

Further Reading:
For those wanting to let Health Canada know how they feel about this brilliant plan, this is the place to find more information, including email and mailing addresses.