Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grass-fed beef is more nutrient dense than poultry

                                 Photo from

As our customers are aware, you can purchase grass-fed, grass-finished beef from Dexter cattle at our stand at the Toronto Evergreen Brickworks on Saturday mornings. While the market runs year-round, we will be taking a winter break in January and February, back in March 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 by Dr. David Jockers
( For over 60 years, red meat has been vilified for its heart clogging saturated fat & cholesterol content. Poultry products have been marketed as the healthiest animal protein due to their low-fat content. New understandings of health and inflammation now reveal that grass-fed beef is significantly more nutrient dense than poultry.

Saturated fat and cholesterol have been blamed for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Research indicates that saturated fats and cholesterol are necessary for overall cellular health. They play an extremely important role in regulating neurological, cognitive and hormone function. A diet low in these important fats causes lowered immunity, sex hormone function and accelerated aging and brain degeneration.

Red meat could be one of the best foods in an individual's diet or one of the worst. The key factor is what the animal is eating. Naturally, cows eat a near 100% green diet of grass, flowers, shrubs and other wild vegetation. Grain feeding is genetically incongruent for these animals and leads to excessive weight gain and fat accumulation.

Fatty Acid Ratios

The typical grain-feed is made up of corn and soy due to the low cost associated with government subsidies. Grain-fed cows are extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids. The average ratio for a cow on a grain-fed diet is roughly 25:1 (omega 6:3).

Humans should naturally have an omega 6:3 ratio around 4:1 or 2:1. When these ratios become skewed, they trigger cellular inflammation and accelerated cellular degeneration. This environment causes an individual to become highly inflamed and to build degenerative disease.

The more grass an animal eats the greater their omega 3 content and the lower their omega 6 levels. A 100% green-fed diet, which is genetically congruent for a cow would provide an omega 6:3 ratio of 2:1. This is ideal for the animal's long-term health and is highly anti-inflammatory for human consumption. The omega 3 fatty acids present in this meat are primarily the all-important long-chain variety EPA and DHA.

Chicken and turkeys cannot live on grass alone. They lack the highly specialized digestive tract that allows them to convert grass and roughage into a quality meal. They need some addition to grass and the vast majority of farmers choose to feed them a mixture of soy and corn. Chickens can get about 25% of their calories from grass while ducks can go up to about 50%. The higher the level of grass, the higher the anti-oxidant and omega 3 content of the meat and eggs.

Grass-fed mammals contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is considered to be one of the most potent anti-carcinogenic nutrients. Finnish researchers have found that the greater the amount of CLA in a woman's diet, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Women who consumed the largest amount of CLA had a 60% lower risk for breast cancer.

Grass-fed mammals are also extremely rich in carnitine and carnosine. Carnitine helps the cellular mitochondria drive energy efficiently from fat metabolism. Carnitine is the critical gate-keeper that allows fatty acids to pass into the mitochondrial furnace effectively. Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that improves muscle, brain & cardiovascular function. It functions to reduce the effects of stress by protecting the proteins of the body which aid in tissue healing and repair.

Poultry has significantly less CLA, carnitine and carnosine than grass-fed beef. Beef also contains a lot more branched chain amino acids. This includes the crucial muscle building amino acid leucine. Grass-fed beef has an enormous edge over free-range poultry when one compares the fatty acids, proteins, fat-soluble anti-oxidants and minerals such as zinc.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Put the Fat Cats on a Diet: Stop Buying Tainted Food From Billion Dollar Corporations

 In recent years there has been much progress in education about the corporate-controlled industrial food system. Documentaries such as Food Inc, Our Daily Bread, The World according to Monsanto, Supersize Me, Fresh – the Movie, Food Matters all help in our understanding of what is at stake, and that is our health and personal freedoms. Here, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association adds his strong voice to ways we can all contribute in bringing about positive change, and not just in the United States.

By Ronnie Cummins
December 7, 2011

"I have not spoken to one farmer who doesn't understand the message of Occupy Wall Street, the message that so many people keep saying is nebulous. It's very clear. Because of business and corporate participation in agriculture, farmers are losing their livelihoods   And if it goes on like this, all we're going to have to eat in this country is unregulated, imported, genetically modified produce. That's not a healthy food system." - Jim Gerritsen, a Maine organic farmer.

For the first time since the late-1960s, the American elite and their indentured politicians are losing legitimacy, part of a deepening global crisis that is simultaneously political, economic, and ecological. In the powerful wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, the European Summer of the indignados (the indignant ones), and the Occupy Wall Street movement, rebellion is in the air. As protestors in New York put it "The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."

Across the U.S. and planet, the corporate elite is under attack. An emerging army of indignados are starting to act on the premise that minor policy adjustments in corporate boardrooms, or a cosmetic reshuffling of faces in Washington, are not enough. What the Earth and the 99% underclass need, including consumers and farmers, is a grassroots revolution - a fundamental transfer of power from the corporatocracy to the people. What is required in the face of economic meltdown, deteriorating public health, and climate disaster is a full-scale mutiny on the USA Titanic, a radical change of course before the 21st Century suicide economy of Wall Street and Corporate America puts an end to the human species and life on Earth.

Perhaps the first order of business on the USA Titanic is to stop stuffing money in the pockets of the greedy 1% who are steering us toward disaster. This is why a million consumers, and thousands of community organizations, unions, and churches, have started to strike back against the "banksters," staging sit-ins and protests and moving billions of dollars out of Wall Street and the big banks into community credit unions and local banks. As the internet campaign proclaims, it's time to "invest in Main Street, not Wall Street, and to lend a hand to local businesses."

Following a similar trajectory a debtors' campaign is gathering steam among students and ex-students to stop paying their onerous student loans, which now total one trillion dollars, and demand the implementation of a federal program of free college tuition and jobs for youth and the unemployed.  Approximately 11% of student loans in the U.S. are already in arrears. Similarly, millions of Americans are turning away from Big Pharma's drug pushers and embracing holistic, preventive medicine.

The time has come for America's 300 million food consumers to join the mutiny. Our trillion dollar food and farming System has been corrupted and manipulated by Wall Street, Corporate Agribusiness, and Big Food Inc. into what can only be described as a weapon of mass destruction, severely damaging public health, the environment, and the climate; torturing animals in filthy, disease-ridden factory farms; exploiting immigrant farm workers and food industry workers; and destroying the livelihoods of small farmers and rural communities.

As the first official Declaration of Occupy Wall Street explained on September 29: "They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization."

Food Democracy or Corporatocracy?

Did you ever vote to allow corporate agribusiness to spray a billion pounds of toxic pesticides, and dump 24 billion pounds of climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers on U.S. crops and farmlands every year? Did you give the OK for factory farms, so-called Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), to feed billions of hapless creatures massive amounts of genetically engineered grain, antibiotics, hormones, steroids, blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste? Did you give Monsanto, Dow, and Dupont permission to "modify" so-called "conventional" supermarket, school cafeteria, and restaurant food with genetically engineered bacteria, viruses, foreign DNA, and antibiotic-resistant genes? Did you sign a permission slip for the USDA or your local school system to feed students, including your children, greasy, fatty, unhealthy, chemical food in the cafeteria?

If we intend to break the stranglehold of the corporatocracy over the economy, including what and how American farmers grow and what most people eat, it's time to stand up. If we believe that a healthy, organic, and equitable system of food and farming are essential to our health and the health of the planet, we need to think twice before we pull out our wallets at the supermarket or sit down for a meal in a restaurant or a fast food joint. Do you want to be supersized by Monsanto, Wal-Mart, or McDonald's, and allow biotechnocrats, factory farms, and chemical food manufacturers to dictate your food choices?

It's time to vote with our food dollars at the grocery check-out aisle. It's time to rein in elected public officials who take money from corporate agribusiness and Monsanto in the voting booth. It's time for the Great Boycott of Big Food Inc., and a culinary strike against all of their chemical, genetically engineered, sugar, and fat-laden processed foods and beverages. It's time to put the fat cats on a diet, shrink the profits of Wall Street, and drastically reduce the collateral damage of chemical agribusiness, Big Box food stores, and billion dollar junk food restaurants. It's time to Occupy our food chains, kitchens, lunchrooms, and school cafeterias, and transform our $30 billion local and organic food and farming system from being the niche alternative to being the norm in the nation's trillion dollar food economy.

The good news is that most people already know that chemical food is bad for them, bad for their children, and bad for the environment. No one wants to eat Big Ag or Big Biotech's pesticide residues, antibiotics, hormones, or feces-tainted meat. No one is enthusiastic about food that has been irradiated, genetically engineered, or grown with municipal sewage sludge. A recent national poll found that 54% of Americans prefer organic food, especially locally-produced organic food. Millions say they'd buy more organic products if only they had a decent paying job, or less mortgage, medical, or school loan debt. That's partly why millions of us are becoming backyard organic gardeners, or small "market farmers" growing our own. That's why a new generation of food lovers and health addicts are swearing off corporate food and marching to the kitchen, cooking from scratch and celebrating the joys of home-cooked fare with our friends and our families.

Millions of us are starting to break the chains of corporate control in our lives, by supporting organic, fair made, and locally produced products and businesses.

Tired of the quality and range of our daily essentials being dictated and degraded by a powerful network of Brand Name Bullies and Big Box chains? Tired of profit-at-any cost, Wall Street-traded corporations "outsourcing" from sweatshops in the factories and fields, cutting corners on public health and the environment, and sucking up billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies? " Basta," enough already.

Make your pledge today to put the fat cats on a diet. Buy organic and fair made/fair trade products, preferably locally produced. Boycott factory farmed meat and animal products. Eat more raw food, dairy, and vegetables. And if you can, start growing some of your own, even if for now, your "garden" only consists of potted herbs or tomatoes on your window sill or a sprout-making machine in your kitchen. And finally, keep in mind that where you buy a healthy, sustainable product has a very large impact on the economy, the environment, and climate stability. Do you really want to buy your organic food or your fair trade coffee from a multi-billion dollar corporation like Wal-Mart, Safeway, Starbucks, or even Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes?
Ronnie Cummins is the co-founder and National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.