Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Spoonful of Local Honey Keeps the Allergies Away

Local Honey helps with Seasonal AllergiesEvery year it seems that seasonal allergies (especially cedar, right now) get worse in people. Some try to blame the trees while others seem to think they're 'just the way it is.' I've never actually had cedar allergies (coincidence that I eat primarily organic and local foods?) so I can't speak from experience, but I've also heard many people tell me their cures.

While not a complete cure, many people say that a daily regimen of local honey significantly reduces the severity of their allergies. The theory is that ingesting the pollen (assimilated into honey by bees) helps your body recognize it as food and not a foreign protein so you don't react as such. Now, there's something very important to this remedy - pollen count. Some tests have been run on all local honeys and Round Rock Honey has by far the most diverse pollen profile and the most local pollens of any of the honeys. One tablespoon a day of this yummy goodness and in a couple of weeks you may notice pollen allergies subsiding.

I hear stories of acupuncture being effective for some and not for others (maybe depends on the practitioner?), but one treatment that has worked for everyone who has tried it is The Love Cleanse. A guided cleanse by Kim Love, she helps you identify underlying food allergies (which are present in 90% of seasonal allergy sufferers) and balances your body chemistry to better handle all environmental toxins. Her program works.

I do not believe allergies are simply a way of life in Texas. They're a symptom of an underlying issue in the body. Until you find and treat the issue, nasal sprays and pills for the symptoms are just an expensive way to put off dealing with it. And just in case you're getting confused - I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Just my opinion, that's all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New GMO Study Out - Well, It's Actually Not New

This is the second part of my series on Genetically Modified foods (GMOs). I want to preface that I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and am as much a fan of science as I am of the environment. And I believe the evidence is overwhelming that GMOs do not belong in our food system yet (if ever). They do not help us feed the world (no greater yields than organics) and they leave a path of ecosystem & health destruction wherever they go. I see possible uses for GMOs...just not in my salad, please.

A recent press release by Food Freedom on a study analysis by the International Journal of Biological Sciences confirmed that varieties of Monsanto's GM corn created liver and kidney damage in mammals.

Now here's where it gets interesting - this study is actually based off of Monsanto's own data from 2002. Monsanto's study showed these effects. What Monsanto did, however, was only take the first 90 days of the study and they threw out the evidence of damage in these first 90 days so they could call the GM corn safe. How they were allowed to do this AND keep the results confidential for 4 years goes to a core fault of industry-funded research. Their reasoning included the fact that results were different for male and female mammals. They say this nullifies the results, when in reality differences like this are incredibly common because male and female organ function is different. Also, most chronic toxicity problems do not surface in 90 days. Our organs are incredibly resilient and can even process poisons....for a while.

The study also found material pesticide residue on all GMO samples, by the way. There will be brand new, long-term studies on multiple animals surfacing in the coming year (as long as Monsanto doesn't squash them or sue the scientists into oblivion - their application of libel laws is amazing). Remember that non-organic foods, unless labeled GMO-free, most likely are GMO! 90% of corn (corn chips at Mexican restaurants, HFCS in sodas, dressings & thousands more) and soy are GMO. Check out the guide for avoiding GM foods here and know that Greenling is a GMO-free zone!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Give Thanks For Organics

Say No to GMOs

Right now, the only way to completely avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is to buy Organic. We're working with our local vendors who aren't yet certified to ensure all their ingredients are GMO-free. That's actually quite a task considering 90% of non-organic corn and 80% of non-organic soy is genetically modified. What's wrong with GMOs you may ask? Tons! So much I'm going to do a whole series on them. First I want to highlight that The Future of Food is available on Hulu!

Take a little time and watch this one. It's primarily about the politics of GMOs and what Monsanto's really up to (they are not Sustainable Ag as their ads claim). Here's a review of the movie if you're on the fence. Also, here's a document to help you understand more about GMOs, where they're found, and how to avoid them. The doc says 60% of corn, but at a recent conference I heard the number was up to 90%. Next time I'll share all the latest research linking GMOs to allergies, digestive disorders, and so much more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Kind of Fundraiser

Tim Hayden made a very astute observation in a recent talk - he says that while most people think the internet and social media are reducing human interaction, it's actually doing the opposite. It's so much easier to organize offline gatherings through online tools that many, many more are being organized.

On another track, with a tight economy and ever-evolving philathropic scene, it seems like fund-raising events have been trying to keep up with the Jones' and there's pressure to make each one bigger and better than the last and the others. It's major competition to raise money for non-profits these days. And ironically some non-profits are finding these huge events don't net any more than the smaller ones of yesteryear.

Well, we're starting to see the first phenomenon mentioned combine with a sort of rebellion to the second. Check out this birthday party/fundraiser put on by Mindy Cooper -

She's reaching out to her friends and creating a small, intimate event to share something she cares about and raise some money. I think it's an awesome idea. She's taking a celebration centered around an individual and adding a greater cause. I don't know if she's read much on personal branding, but I think her party will do wonders for it. I also don't know her well, but I already like her for the creative way she's supporting good causes and reaching out to the community for support to make it more than just a birthday party - she's getting food and beverages donated by local companies, including Greenling. We're happy to support this! I'm guessing we'll start to see a lot more of these. I hope we do at least cause it obviously raises less than the larger events. But if just a few people host these events on a regular basis it could have a big effect for non-profits.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Versatility of Okra

Okra's Beautiful Bloom

Okra has one of the prettiest blooms in vegetable land. When you think of okra, this probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. This hearty vegetable from the hibiscus family has a lot more up its sleeve, too, and is making its first appearance in the Local Box and on our website this week.

Most people I meet either love okra or hate it. It's a polarizing food that can break up dinner tables. The hate usually stems from the gooey slime that can sometimes coat these 'lady fingers.' Well, I'm here to spread the word that it doesn't have to be that way! If you like it like that, more power to you! But if not, keep reading.

Any cooking that involves water (boiling or steaming) will increase sliminess and any dry cooking (baking or frying) will reduce sliminess. Also, overcooking increases slime. One paradoxical tip is to cut off the tips (but not piercing the inner-pod) and blanch the okra for just a minute. Then throw in some ice water, and dry. Keeping okra whole is the best guard against slime. If you must cut, cut lengthwise in as few slices as possible. The more you cut it when raw, the slimier it will get.

We're used to it being stewed in gumbos. But it can be fried a million ways, pickled, grilled, baked, sauteed, eaten raw, stuffed, and blanched. The seeds can be ground for coffee and the leaves can even be used to treat skin wounds!

Okra is also a nutritional powerhouse. It's high in fiber (2.5g per 6 pods), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Protein, Niacin, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, and Iron.

Seriously, folks. Rejoice in the amazing Okra! And enjoy it while it's here for the summer.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Eating for Sustainability, cont.

In Greenling's newsletter I included a few words on our Eating for Sustainability doc:


Agriculture uses 3 times as much potable water as all other forms of human consumption, COMBINED. A full 80% of the water we use in the US is for agriculture. Organic agriculture uses 30%-50% less water than conventional ag. Agriculture also consumes more oil than any other activity except for driving. 400 gallons of oil per year per citizen is consumed for our food. Only 20% of that is from seed to harvest. The rest is in transportation.

You really can make a huge difference for Sustainability just by what you eat. Here are 10 great ways to eat for Sustainability:


Someone emailed me about this article skeptical about the numbers I was quoting. You can fact check here, but his question was that if Organic ag was so much more water and energy efficient why was it more expensive? Great question.

So, the #1 contributing factor to higher Organic prices, according to market research by NMI, is supply and demand. There's simply not enough to go around. And supply can't respond quickly to demand because it takes 3 years for farmers to get certified Organic. Also I mentioned that most agriculture land gets special water rates so water savings are not substantial. Further, energy efficiency can easily be offset by increased labor costs. We still haven't figured out how to tell a machine to only pick weeds and not the crops.

But to me something to always keep in mind is that Organic farmers actually have agriculture expertise and knowledge which has been eroding from conventional farming. Just go see King Corn to see how a conventional commodities farmer lives. They plant and spray and wait. Maybe spray some more. Organic farmers have to constantly monitor their crops. They have to react quickly to pests and disease or risk losing their whole crop. Without easy chemical fixes, farming can be quite a daunting task. Organic farmers put up with it out of love for the planet and for us. Nothing sounds more fulfilling to me. I used to think I was way too lazy to be a farmer. Joel Salatin (of Polyface Farms and the hero of Ominvore's Dilema) came to speak to TOFGA this year and completely mesmerized me. He made me want to be a farmer and I hope someday I can be.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Local Food Restaurants

Local Food Restaurant Reviews

Returning to my local food adventures I've really been frequenting 2 places in south Austin - Thai Fresh and Somnio's. Both of these places say they support local and organic when they can and I gotta tell you - they both live up to this claim. Jam from thai fresh will go to the farmer's market and then incorporate whatever she finds there into her dishes. The Pad Sea Ew is probably my favorite and the green curry with chicken is my second favorite. The vegetables change with what's in season, but they're always tasty. She gets all of her meat locally and they even run cooking classes. Look for an upcoming Local Box workshop to happen there.

-Get more info here

Somnio's is another gem. It's on S 1st street next to a vintage store. The sides vary by what is available from farmers and they buy produce from Greenling. So it's the same veggies that come in your local box. I had a side dish of Swiss Chard for the first time in my life and it was awesome. I've enjoyed everything I've had there, but my favorite is probably the Richardson Farms 'crazy crunch' pork medallions.

-Get more info here