Cooking and Food Farm Life Health

Please Pass the Organic Chicken Meat!

chicks09This news in! Organically fed chickens develop different and superior genes than conventionally fed chickens.

Why is this exciting to me? Well, our spring broilers arrived last Wednesday which means my freezer will be 25 chickens richer in about 7 weeks, Lord willing. Makes this organic, grass-fed effort to raise quality meat for my family much more satisfying.

Get this: Two groups of chickens from two generations were fed exactly the same things, except one group was fed organic feed, and the other, conventional feed. When all was said and done, scientists evaluated RNA (Ribonucleic acid–similar to DNA but different) samples from both groups’ intestines to check out their differences in gene expression. They were unprepared for the amazing results! For more info, check out this article at Organic Chickens are Genetically Different from Conventional Chickens.

My immediate thought is this: what does this say about us? If the different cultivation methods of chicken feeds can cause such changes in a chicken’s gene pool, then what does eating conventionally raised veggies and fruits as opposed to eating organically grown veggies and fruits cause in my own personal gene make-up?

Another thing–this study was done in the Netherlands. The conventionally fed chickens were NOT being fed feed containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), ie: “Frankenstien foods”, as they are known in Europe. Farmer John, my organic CSA farm neighbor, tells me that currently, most all corn grown commercially in the USA contains GMO’s, so it would be interesting frightening (!) to see a study comparing GMO grain fed chickens with their organically fed counterparts.

A 2006 Consumer Reports study urges that chicken is among the top products to purchase organic. It does not contain the toxic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides that conventionally raised poultry do. This report even suggests that low levels of artificial hormones can increase one’s risk of developing cancer. Traces of toxic heavy metals have even been uncovered in commercially grown chickens. For a list of more chemically laden foods to avoid, go here.

Not only that, when you raise your animals on pasture and feed them organic feeds, you reap a huge bang for your buck. Why? Omega-3 fatty acids are created in the leaves of green plants, where they are vital to photosynthesis. When my chickens graze fresh green grass every day, they are accumulating more of these essential fatty acids. When I eat my chicken, I’m eating its Omega-3’s–and that’s just one of many nutrient benefits.

So…how about that? We really are what we eat, or er…what our animals eat.

Cooking and Food Health

Toxic Peanut Butter

Peanuts in a BowlCancer causing toxins in peanut butter…what next? They are more correctly called: aflatoxins. Peanuts, and certain other crops such as corn contain the highest risks of aflatoxin contamination, because they attract the molds Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Aflatoxins are the most toxic, naturally occuring carcinogens known. Yikes!

FYI–“Afla”toxin takes its name from the short hand of  its causative agent, the mold  A. flavus, A. fla.

A little side trip

I have always wondered why so many people had peanut sensitivities. But I reasoned my doubts away, thinking peanuts were just highly allergic, like milk. After all, there are so many lactose intolerant people out there, right?

Well, a few months ago, we were introduced to the wonders and health benefits of drinking raw milk, and educated by Mark McAfee on why lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk without any reactions whatsoever. It’s as simple as this: in raw milk, the lactase enzyme hasn’t been killed in the pasteurization process. This enzyme is necessary for many people to be able to break down the milk sugars they drink. Very exciting for certain members of our extended family who haven’t been able to drink store milk for decades! Believe me, they are cured and can drink raw milk all day long now with no adverse reactions.

So I revisited my questions on the peanut butter problem. See, God stuck me with this “inquiring mind” that just won’t stop. I can’t help it. And here’s what I  found out. The question is…

Do you really want to know?

Lest you think I’m basing this on internet drivel–please verify it all at the Cornell University website where you will learn wa-ay more than I have room for in this post!

The FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization, estimates that 25% of the world’s crops are affected by mycotoxins, of which aflatoxins are the most notorious.

Aflatoxins are sometimes detected in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices, and animal feeds . Milk, eggs, and meat products are occasionally contaminated because of the animal consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

Most people agree that aflatoxins should be considered very dangerous, and not at all allowable in food, if detectable. However, the United States FDA has set the allowable concentration for aflatoxins in human foods at 20 ppb (parts per billion). Foreign markets let far less get past them, allowing only 4-15 ppb. Animal feed can contain up to 100 ppb, which as we saw previously, sometimes allows for contamination of our dairy products and eggs. Because these molds are colorless, and don’t break down in cooking, it’s difficult to know if our foods are contaminated in these ways. And who knows what slow and steady exposure to aflatoxins will lead to over many years time?

SHOCKER: Evidence exists that Iraq used aflatoxins in their biological weapons–specifically in bombs and warheads! Agh!They evidently think that aflatoxins pose somewhat of a danger to humans!

But back to peanut butter…

Supposedly humans have a high tolerance for aflatoxin exposure, but I’m not willing to take that risk, when the lab results have shown such carcinogenic effects on animals. And not when the experts are also saying that children are  at risk from chronic exposure (pb&j anyone?), with such side effects as stunted growth and delayed development.

So you might want to check these things out for yourself.

Personally, our family loves sunbutter made from sunflower seeds. Almond and cashew butters are some other delicious nut butters, great with apple slices, in smoothies, or spread on romaine lettuce leaves and then drizzled with a bit of raw honey! Mmm! We haven’t yet tried to substitute these for peanut butter in cookies…but it’s on our can’t-wait-to-try-this list!

P.S. Since I brought up nut butters, it might be of interest to clarify that peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they are legumes… ;O)

Cooking and Food Health

Barley Biscuits

Manna from Heaven would be so lovely, in my opinion. We’ve had such a snow-laden winter, that the poor chickens haven’t wanted to free range much. Why bother when the ground is covered with cold, white stuff, right? Sometimes I walk through the drifting snowflakes to do my twice a day chores, and dream of manna. Yes. If those snowflakes were only manna, I’d never again have to pay organic feed prices for my flock!

I did have a manna experience this past week, when our Bible study friends came by and blessed us with their stash of organic grains, and even several bags of milled flour, kinds I’d always wanted to experiment with, but hadn’t yet! Hard red winter wheat, millet, rye, barley, spelt–which is one of our all time favorite grains!  Sadly, my friend is giving me these things because her young son has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes…and because of this awesome site’s life changing info: Living Without Type 1, she is finding great success in eliminating grains and dairy from their diet. I encourage you to check the site out yourselves, it’s amazing, people are dealing with Type 1 by changing their diets–eliminating grains, dairy, going raw and organic and as a result, no more insulin shots! This is the delight of  “food therapy”–as opposed to drug therapy, check it out!

So tonight we gave barley flour a try…and WOW! We are hooked…fly thee to thy nearest health food store, get some barley flour and hie thee home to bake these…

Barley Biscuits–makes 9-10 biscuits

1. Blend the following dry ingredients in a mixing bowl:

  • 2 cups barley milled from whole barley (or buy barley flour)
  • 4 tsp baking powder (I recommend low sodium and aluminum free)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (we love Farmer John’s “real salt”)

2. Blend together in separate bowl:

  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I keep powdered buttermilk on hand, as well as kefir which can be substituted for buttermilk)
  • 1 1/2 TB oil
  • 1 1/2 TB melted butter, unsalted

Or, instead of separating the last two ingredients, you could use 3 TB oil, or 3 TB melted butter–but it’s delicious half and half.

3. Blend liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until mixed. Dough will be quite soft, like batter, and very light.

4. Drop spoonfuls of batter on lightly greased cookie sheet or stoneware, and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden on the bottom.

These are the fluffiest, lightest, whole grain biscuits ever–with delicious taste that will appeal to the whole family!

(and while you eat them, pretend you’re one of the 5,000 being fed on five small barley loaves and two fish…)

Next thing I want to try…Ezekiel bread!