Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha' Gonna' Do When They Come For You

Batten down the hatches and throw those contraband chickens in the gully, the chicken police are looking for those rebel farmers selling crack cocaine eggs.
These are the "safe farms" the regulatory powers-that-be insist you to get your eggs from.

Small farm, pastured chickens. If there's more than 99, or the farmer tries to sell their eggs off the farm, they face steep penalties.

The Egg Police Crack Down on Local Grey Market Eggs
Sarah Elton, Globe and Mail 
To farmers’ markets across the country they flock, foodies in search of free-range eggs fresh from the farm.
But they must move quickly because demand far outstrips supply. The eggs – laid by hens that roam free, eat bugs and live an existence that is antithetical to the life of the caged battery fowl that produce for supermarkets – sell out quickly. That is, unless you know who to ask and where to find them. Or, in some cases, the secret password.
Dawn Woodward, owner of Evelyn's Crackers, an artisan baked-goods company in Toronto, will show up at the market at seven in the morning for farm-fresh eggs or drive an hour out of town to find them. When she's leaving the city, she phones ahead to place an order with one of the hundreds of small farms in the country that sell pastured eggs.
“The flavour is better,” she says. “They are fresher and richer. They're sweeter, a fuller flavour.” She prefers eggs laid by hens allowed to scratch and wander – when she can get them.This longing for farm eggs has pushed the price of a dozen to about $5, roughly the same price you pay for organic eggs at the supermarket. In California, where alternative eggs have reached cult status and where the farmers who raise them are stars – starmers – a carton can cost $8 (U.S.). The eggs offer smaller producers a good revenue source. But this growing market for a different kind of egg is creating tension between the small farms that raise them and the egg marketing board that has helped to develop the mainstream egg industry in Canada and its large chicken farms.
This tension now is putting the future supply of this sought-after product in question as what some call the “egg police” crack down on the grey market.
“It’s a huge issue,” says Tom Henry, a Vancouver Island farmer and editor of the magazine Small Farm Canada. “The right to sell eggs is the small-farm equivalent of the right to bear arms.”
Egg farming is governed by a supply management system in Canada, which means provincial egg marketing boards control the number of eggs produced. This quota system maintains a constant price, and proponents say it ensures that farmers make a living and consumers have a steady supply of eggs. But the eggs produced on farms that hold the quotas are not the eggs that foodies desire. It’s the small, often organic operator who is supplying the fresh eggs to farmers’ markets.
Any farmer is permitted to keep 99 laying hens without buying quota, which is worth thousands of dollars, and they can sell their eggs from the farm gate without grading them, a process that evaluates quality. But they are forbidden from selling them elsewhere unless they are graded, which, for the small farmer, is a tough regulation to meet because grading stations are often a long way from the farm and it is expensive to set one up.
This has created a grey market for eggs. If you know the password, you can buy a verboten dozen at an Ontario health food store. Often those popular eggs at the farmers’ markets are kept out of sight – for a reason. “It’s more like Prohibition,” Mr. Henry says, “with far more people ignoring the regulations and selling eggs.”
But the risk may be high. There is talk of the “egg police” that keep track of who’s doing what and rumours of farmers getting in trouble for breaking the rules. In 2008, a farmer was fined $3,000 (Canadian) for selling eggs to Ottawa-area restaurants. And in a notorious case in Eastern Ontario in 2006, the egg marketing board, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and police officers raided one farm and pressed charges including unlawful possession of laying hens because the farmer allegedly owned more than the permitted 99.
Many small-scale farmers would rather not draw attention to their operations.
“I’d prefer not to be on the radar screen, period,” says one Ontario farmer who raises slightly less than 100 birds and tries to follow the rules. “It’s a bit frustrating because I know there is demand out there for the eggs we can produce.”
It is not only the income that draws the small farmer to raise hens, says Karen Maitland of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. “They are part of the ecosystem when you look at a diversified farm,” she says, explaining that the birds add to a farm by producing fertilizer. Because quota is pricey, the system doesn't work for small farms who keep a few chickens, she says.
“We have to be careful because this is our system,” says Laurent Souligny, chair of the Egg Farmers of Canada, regarding the rational behind the rules. “We have to make sure there are enough eggs out there and we don’t to flood the system.” Supply management keeps prices fair for both farmers and consumers because it controls the amount of product for sale. His organization is worried that too many eggs on the market could disrupt this balance.
Mr. Henry sees it differently. He believes the egg marketing boards aren’t anxious to make room in the marketplace for these alternative eggs because they invite the consumer to compare and contrast the two different products. “There are a lot of tough questions being asked of conventional egg producers because of an increased awareness of how chickens are raised,” he says.
The solution, however, is not to get rid of supply management, says the small farmer in Ontario, but to figure out how to fit this kind of operation into the existing system. He would like to be able to sell his eggs without having to grade them, as has recently been allowed on Vancouver Island after the health authority instructed its inspectors not to distinguish between graded and ungraded eggs. You can now buy the sought-after eggs at the store and they can be used in restaurants and commercial kitchens.
“It’s ultimately going to be a political decision to change this,” the farmer says. “If consumers could taste the alternative, they’d want more.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Diet Overhaul and Moving My Jiggly Butt

Ew, my butt needs some squats.  Seriously. Too much information? Too bad, I need to scream it from the mountain tops to shame myself!

I have been a weight lifter for the last 13 years or so.  In the last year, things went a little haywire.  Training became sporadic and then, eventually, faded away into oblivion.  I'm pretty sure that all of my hard-earned muscle morphed into liquid that now sloshes about while I walk.  O.k., I'm exaggerating, but I really do feel lousy.
Striations in a butt.  Too ambitious?  That there would be my hubby. What was that about fat making you fat?  Ha! So, I don't want to look like that, but I wouldn't mind a fraction of the lean/hardness combo.

So, while our diet would be considered great by some standards, I see room for improvement.  For one, we need to get rid of all the sugars in our diet, including the raw honey (liquid sugar with a massive wallop of fructose to really give it to your fat cells) that finds it way into my tea every afternoon.  Speaking of tea, caffeine seems to have become a mainstay in my diet.  It's terrible for my sad little adrenal glands so it, too, has to go.  Bye bye organic coffee in the morning with my big dollop of lovely, raw cream.  I will remember you always.

And while I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with raw, organic cheese, I'm going to cut back on that.  I find that I have a pretty tough time really leaning out with cheese so I'm going to experiment a bit there.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So, that's what has to go.  Here's what I want to do more of:
  • Increase my consumption of raw animal products (eggs, meat, fermented raw dairy).  I eat a good amount of protein, but most of it is cooked to some degree.  I'd like to increase the raw foods for a while and see how it affects my energy and digestion.
  • Increase my fermented veggie consumption
  • Lift!!  I will start lifting weights again this week.  Heaven help me!  Nothing like the pain one has to pay for being a slacker for a few months.  
  • Maintain my level of healthy fat consumption for now.  I might play with that a little later.  For now, I'll leave it where it's at (meaning, plenty)
  • More bone broth soups.  I really notice a difference when I'm consuming these nourishing, mineral-rich broths.  Right now, we have broth a couple of times a week, I'd like to increase that.
  • I'm also going to switch out my raw butter for ghee in order to get rid of the remaining lactose in my diet.
  • HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training three times a week.  Sprints, hill runs, stair runs, all done for short duration, high intensity to rev my metabolism and preserve lean mass (the fat burning engine).
  • Longer duration walks in the woods, because it feeds my soul.
Now that I've put it out there, I'm committed.  Here's what I want to get out of the deal:
  • Firm up all my bits
  • Clear my brain
  • Improve my energy levels
  • Kick the caffeine habit
  • Improve circulation and liver health
  • Feel strong and powerful in body and mind
What about you?  Want to join me?  I'm looking for more energy, to feel good in my jeans, and to improve my digestion.  What do you want?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oprah: REthink KFC

Not new, but definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it before.

"This isn't about the milk.."

The Province of Ontario has decided to appeal the court's decision to acquit Michael Schmidt on all charges for providing his milk share customers with raw milk.  Premier McGuinty, and the rest of his posse, have clearly shown their inability to understand the basic freedoms we, the people of this country, are entitled to.  Nanny state, indeed.

Oh well, nothing like the threat of having our choices taken away from us to really get some momentum behind a movement.  Alright Ontario, bring it on!

Premier defends appeal of raw milk ruling

Updated: Tue Feb. 16 2010 3:13:15 PM

The Canadian Press
The province is right to appeal a verdict in favour of raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt because of ongoing public health concerns, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday, while the farmer called the move another example of a government intent on interfering with personal freedoms.
"My understanding is that there's still an overwhelming consensus among medical experts that raw milk presents a real risk to public health and we feel a responsibility to take this to a higher court and give the judge there an opportunity to speak to this," McGuinty said.
The government is appealing last month's decision by a justice of the peace to dismiss 19 charges against Schmidt of violating the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Schmidt and his supporters say the appeal amounts to persecuting a small group of individuals seeking the right to make choices without government interference.
"This raw milk debate is about basic rights, which we have lost and we are losing every time this government passes another regulation without considering the most important factors of liberty and individual rights," Schmidt said.
"People are starting to rebel against the nanny-state."
The Durham-based farmer and activist vows to fight the appeal, and isn't backing away from what he terms "the raw milk movement," despite receiving two death threats since his acquittal and being publicly assaulted.
He has formed Cow Share Canada to help establish cow-sharing guidelines, testing and inspection procedures, he said. Meanwhile, the Canadian Constitution Foundation has approached the new health minister about eventually legalizing raw milk.
The appeal, Schmidt adds, is a political rather than a scientific one.
"During the trial, they never presented any kind of research which actually proved their point ... they had no evidence to counter our claims that the milk we produce can be perfectly safe and actually has health benefits," Schmidt said.
"They take all their research based on milk which is designated for pasteurization, but never did any research on milk which is specifically produced for human consumption."
While raw milk is legal to drink, it's illegal to sell in Canada because it's considered a health hazard.
During Schmidt's trial, food scientists and health experts testified that mandatory pasteurization laws are needed to protect public health.
Schmidt argued that government officials and food scientists could not guarantee the safety of any food, and suggested informed consumers should be able to buy raw milk if they want.
The yearlong trial found Schmidt's innovative "cow-share" program for raw milk consumers -- which elicited a raid by the Ministry of Health in 2006 -- did not violate provincial laws.
Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation said she plans to re-open the constitutional issue at the appeal and ask whether the law in itself should be challenged.
Selick said she can't understand why the province would appeal the verdict, since the original justice of the peace gave a very careful decision and made clear his ruling applied only to Schmidt.
"The optics of this appeal are very bad and, frankly, it's going to stir up another hornets' nest that could have been left undisturbed," she said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't come back to bite the people who made the decision to appeal."
The appellate judge will have the option to dismiss the appeal, allow some part of it to go forward, allow a new trial, or proceed with a new trial in the appellate court, she said.
A decision isn't expected for some time.

Further reading:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering How to Play

Frank Forencich of Exuberant Animal believes that we can accomplish some pretty amazing things by living the way we were designed to. A strong contributer to disease, both physical and mental, is  stagnation.  We are simply not meant to be sedentary beings.

Frank, however, is not out there doling out the recommendation to jump on that treadmill or elliptical machine. Frank wants you to play!  Remember playing? That thing we did when we were young, but phased out when we 'matured'?  Frank, and many like him, believe that play is not reserved for the very young. We should all be out there playing and laughing!

Wouldn't it be something if doctors gave prescriptions to play rather than a bottle of antidepressants?  Check out another great article by Frank, "Just Don't Do It:  The Case Against Exercise".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Birthday Partay!

My seven year old daughter wants a birthday party complete with all sorts of things that will take me forever to morph into a healthy version of themselves.  It's not like anything has to taste like their original, overly sweet, fast food brethren because she's never even eaten anything, but my version.  So, pizza and sundaes it is!
What my sundaes will look nothing like. Gross. Honestly, Nesquick on a sundae?

How I'll do it:


Giant Caesar Salad made with our favourite, homemade dressing from Nourishing Traditions, some raw parmesan, and a good sprinkling of organic, pastured bacon crumbs.


  • Homemade ice-cream from raw cream (she loves ginger and vanilla) a la Nourishing Traditions
  • Crazy-yummy homemade caramel sauce (made with raw butter, maple syrup and sea salt)
  • Freshly roasted and salted pecans
  • Toasted coconut
  • Unsweetened, organic, 100% chocolate (I buy this and sweeten it myself so we can avoid the cane sugar in all of the sweetened organic chocolate). Cocoa Camino just came out with some bars that are organic and Free Trade, but for some reason, they aren't listed on their website yet.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sweet Misery

I'm a busy bee today, trying to catch up on my fermentation lab projects around the kitchen. I need to get some veggies chopped up and pounded down.  I also have jugs of raw dairy waiting for a transformation to something bubbly and rich in happy, little bacteria.

In the meantime, the full "Sweet Misery" video is now available for your viewing pleasure.  If you, or anyone you know, is still consuming artificial sweetener under the premise that it's safe, I suggest you sit down with a cup of tea and watch. Good stuff.

p.s. All this stuff about artificial sweeteners applies to that wad of gum you're chewing. Are you listening, my sweet children?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Suicide by Pesticide

Farmers in India are committing suicide at staggering rates. Big industry has moved in to India with promises of miracles and prosperity. Only, it's not the reality. Pesticides touted as the answer to poverty have indeed buried farmers deeper in debt. Since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many by drinking the same chemicals that brought them to ruin.

Check out "Seeds of Suicide, India's Desperate Farmers" on Frontline World Rough Cut. Frontline has also provided a full page of informative links on the farming situation in India.

1500 Indian farmers commit mass suicide due to crop failure. Genetically engineered crops drive the farmers deeper in debt as they lose the ability to harvest their own seed.

P.S.  You may have caught a glimpse of the brilliance that is Dr. Vandana Shiva on the above video. If you would like to learn more about this powerful woman, a woman who is making a real difference in this world, her blog is a good place to start. From there, you can find out what you can do to help.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Fiber Myth

Whole grain goodness or sugar on a mission to irritate? Hint: Pick the latter, pick the latter.

For decades, fiber has been touted as the holy grail to 'regularity'. If you were constipated, it was a lack of fiber and water. Back in 2005, the mainstream Journal of American Gastroenterology, published a study citing the futility in increasing fiber or water in hopes of increasing bowel transit time. In fact, the study debunks these myths entirely.

Out of the scope of the study is the consideration of what may be the solution. There's some interesting discussions happening over the importance of balanced gut flora playing a significant role in the health of our entire digestive systems. In regards to constipation in particular, probiotics appear to be essential in regular elimination.

I'm going to turn this one over to some sharper minds than mine. Please forgive my infrequent posts as of late. We've just moved to our new digs and I'm up to my eyeballs in boxes. A few more days and sleep will be mine!

Further Reading: