Dairies in Hawaii

17 Feb

I’ve taken a hiatus as I’m expecting another baby, but I have some research that I just have to share.

Recently, I’ve been a bit more interested in learning about the dairy industry in Hawaii. This all started from a little idea I had to make homemade butter and sell it at the farmers’ market. I asked myself–”is there an organic milk supplier in the state?”

Now, I’m not a farmer–I’m a just a mom. So I did a quick little internet search to answer my question. Most of the local milk produced at dairy farms in Hawaii is sold to dairy processing plants, like Meadow Gold on Oahu. So, I knew I had to look up dairy farms specifically.

Well, in my little search just to see if there was an organic dairy in our state, I was sadly surprised to hear that there are only two dairy farms left in the entire state!

Both Hawaii dairy farms are on the Big Island, and both are not organic. Clover Leaf Dairy is in Hawi while Big Island Dairy is in Ookala. I did another little search to learn about each one, and guess what??

Big Island Dairy is growing GMO corn on their land, going against the of the local Hamakua Agriculture Plan!

Ok, well if I can’t get quality milk from a local dairy farm, can I get it from a local farmer? NOPE!

Last year, I wrote about how raw milk is illegal in the state of Hawaii. So, not only can you NOT buy milk from a local farm legally, but you cannot buy ANY local organic milk. This wasn’t always the case.

In the 1980′s almost 100% of Hawaii dairy products were local. Now, almost 80% of the dairy in the entire state is imported from the mainland, and the 20% that is local is includes some milk produced by cows fed GMO feed.

Bummer.

Anyone want to start an organic dairy farm?

For more info, check out:

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/news/local-news/gmo-corn-grower-spurs-protest.html

http://www.hawaiiforvisitors.com/about/dairy-farming.htm

Cast Iron Cookware– A Healthy Choice

20 Aug



We made a new purchase recently– a couple of cast iron cookware pieces.  We didn’t get a whole set, but hopefully one day we will.  The motivation behind buying the cast iron pan is for the health benefits.  Cooking in cast iron is a great way to get iron in your diet–something that many women (especially vegetarians) may need to supplement.  This is my natural supplement!

 

One Small Step Toward Success–Sinaloa Tortillas

12 Aug

Oh, I can’t believe I waited so long to post about my conversation with Sinaloa Tortillas!!

If you remember, last year I wrote about how Sinaloa was a local company, but used BHT :(

In February, I received an email from the company (which was not a very nice email, but considering the fact that I did not recommend their product, I was not surprised) stating that my claims about GMOs in Sinaloa Tortillas were false.  They wrote about GMOs  that:

” I can show and post on my site the same certifications. Claiming how we also do not buy and do not buy GMO crops , yet nothing is guaranteed. If the crop I by from, is pollinated from another which isn’t, ?…

Thus, we are non GMO company, we have the same certifications these others guys claim, but I don’t post. Why?

Because nothing is guaranteed. And as such , these other companies shouldn’t be saying things that they cannot 100% back up. Whereas Sinaloa will never make such naive claims.”

I was impressed with their knowledge of cross pollination, and high standards.  I wrote back to let them know that my true concern was with the BHT, and received an email response as follows:

“In response to your concern about BHT , I am happy to say that chemical(s) is no longer found in our tortillas. It has not been there for sometime. We changed our shortening about 5 years ago. I did not realize that it was still listed on our ingredient bag. Unfortunately I have 6-12 months supply of bags I need to use . Of course when we re-order it will no longer be listed. Here is a quote from my chemist :
 
‘Looks like they took it out of the shortening.  That is where it was coming from.  I think it would be safe to remove from your label if this is the only shortening you are using.  I hope that is helpful.  Let me know if you need some more assistance.
 
Cheers,
Daniel J. Brooker, M.S.
Food Lab, Inc. | dba Brooker Laboratories
 
This gentleman is highly respected. 
 
I also wanted to point out , that our corn tortillas ( which is the equivalent ) of the LTF (La Tortilla Factory)  you blogged about are much healthier. They do not have ANY gluten unlike the LTF (La Tortilla Factory) counterpart. Nor the preservatives. They just are corn , water and lime.”

Wait, you changed the shortening and there are only corn, water and lime as ingredients? Maybe we need to talk about if we are talking corn or flour tortillas here…

While the corn still makes me uneasy (due to cross-pollination issues), that is something out of this company’s hands.  Although, I would THRILLED to see an organic line that I could brag about on my blog…

It is really great to see such a stand up company, especially one that is local!! I am was happy to hear from them and that they do NOT use GMO or BHT anymore.

 

Lead the Way California–YES on 37, No to GMO!!

12 Aug

I am  proud to say that I was born and raised in California when I see that the ballot this year will include Prop 37, an initiative that requires GMO food labeling.

Of course, large corporations–even those who produce organic food and market a healthy lifestyle–are pouring money into a large campaign so the bill doesn’t pass.  I wrote about those big businesses last month.

Many parent companies of popular organic brands are strongly opposed to GMO labeling and Prop 37. In fact, this article from the Organic Consumer’s Association is very telling.

In short, here are the big companies, the organic food they sell, and how much money they have spent trying to resist GMO labeling from Prop 37:

 

COMPANY DONATION ORGANIC/NATURAL BRANDS
Pepsi-Co $90,220.06
  • Tostito’s Organic
  • Tropicana Organic
  • Naked Juice
Coca-Cola $61,208.60
  • Odwalla
  • Honest Tea
ConAgra $56,598.50
  • Orville Redenbacher’s Organic
  • Hunt’s Organic
  • Alexia Foods
  • Lightlife
Kellogg’s $33,248.40
  • Keebler Organic
  • Kellogg’s Organic
  • Bear Naked
  • Kashi
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Wholesome & Hearty
J.M Smucker $20, 395.80
  • Santa Cruz Organics
  • Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter
  • R.W. Knudsen
  • Natural Brew
  • Tenderleaf Tea
Hormel Foods $19,657.70
  • Natural Choice
General Mills $19,400.28
  • Cascadian Farm
  • Muir Glen
  • Gold Medal Organic
Bimbo Bakeries* $17,783.30
  • Earth Grains
DelMonte $14,400.28
  • DelMonte brand organic pickles
  • DelMonte brand organic canned tomato products
  • Fruit Naturals
Hershey $8,440.28
  • Dagoba
Cargill $5424.94
  • White Wave/Silk
  • Horizon
  • Organic Cow of Vermont
Campbell Soup Co. $5,340.56
  • V8 Organic
  • Prego Organic
  • Swanson’s Organic
  • Pace Organic
  • Campbell’s Organic
  • Bolthouse Farms
McCormick $5,302.10
  • McCormick Organic Spices

To be honest, I was surprised by many of the brands parent companies.  I just bought an Honest Tea the other day, but now I don’t know how honest that brand is.  Call me naive, but I thought that those producing organic products would support Prop 37.  Big business has proven me wrong again.

Here’s my advice and plan, which many others are doing as well:

Don’t buy any of these brands.

The Best Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes

22 Jul

Okay, I’m going to call this a recipe. But in reality, it is so simple that it does not quite meet recipe status.

What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes? It’s super easy!! Sweet potatoes are already so delicious that they really take little work.

Just bake the sweet potatoes in the oven!

BAKED SWEET POTATOES RECIPE

Simple steps (for those of you learning to cook as I am):

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Rinse the sweet potatoes and slice an inch slit in each one
  3. Wrap the sweet potatoes individually in foil
  4. Cook for about an hour, or until the potatoes feel soft
  5. Open them up, put some butter on them and enjoy!

Sorry there are no pictures, but next time I will add some to this post.  Enjoy nature’s perfectly sweet potatoes (and mash them up for baby!)

Organic Sweet Potatoes

21 Jul

Earlier I shared about how much more amazing organic potatoes tasted.  Our family got some organic sweet potatoes recently and noticed that they did also taste great.   We also noticed how they looked different as well.

Every sweet potato I had ever eaten was orange, but my first organic one was white. It was odd, but I didn’t look into it too much.

Then I ran across this absolutely wonderful, and simple, video of a little girl’s experiment:

 

This young girl made so many important discoveries. I just had to share!

One thing I must point out that she did not are considering the implications for future farming if organic produce was not available…look at the “regular” sweet potato–it didn’t even sprout! Red flag? I think so…

Organic Papaya Seeds

21 Jul

Ever since my sad discovery of my favorite salad dressing containing GMO papaya, I have been desperately seeking a replacement.  While I have experimented with a few decent alternatives, I still miss my papaya seed dressing.  It has come to the point where I need to begin making my own.

I found some great papaya from our local health food store, and can use that for now.  The ingredients on my former favorite seem simple enough to replicate, so I will give it a few chances and post my perfected recipe up here.

I am happy to report that I have also found a source for organic papaya seeds–amazon.com. I was visiting Rare Seeds to find them, but they were always sold out when I checked! Feel free to stop over at my store–I shared the link there so you could purchase some as well.  I have to say I really didn’t expect them to carry it, but I am happy that they do! I did seek numerous avenues of locating a local source for the seeds but failed to make any connections (but if you have one, please hook me up!)

With all my papaya research, I found some other interesting facts that I have to share about the production of GMOs and the GMO papaya. My 15 month old daughter LOVES papaya so my need to find an organic source is heightened for her health.  However, Hawaii seems to be infested with GMO papaya.  I was quite disturbed to see that the creator of the GMO papaya seed is a Kamehemeha schools and UH Manoa graduate. He also now works as a director at the USDA.  There is a lot of political controversy with GMOs that I could go into, but that’s really not my point here on natural food mama.

I just want to eat healthy, but again, I feel like I am asking so much for such a simple thing!

 

De-Mystifying Food

16 Jul

Yesterday I told my husband that I finally understand why people appreciate “home-cooking.”  I never could understand why someone would want to eat at home instead of eating from a restaurant.   Nowadays, I like knowing what I’m eating, where it’s from and that is going to taste really great.

However, I still know many people who would prefer to go out–and say that food always tastes better in a restaurant.

I think we are at a unique point in our history as humans when it comes to our relationship with food.

Before beginning my quest to understand natural food, I just ate whatever tasted good.  I didn’t know where  it came from, what was it in. Then, I started getting these strange allergies and realized that it had to be some reaction to my food.  I slowly realized that there are certain foods that I cannot eat unless I want to feel my throat swell (when I was younger, it was an itchy throat–but I never knew that was something to be concerned about).  After that, I realized how certain food made me feel bad, even if my throat didn’t swell.

I see something really funny about the fact that I had no idea where many of the foods that I love eating came from, let alone how they were made.  Cheese? Refried beans? Chocolate? Bread? Most people would answer: from a can, a bag, a big company far, far away.

I now read all ingredients on all labels–for my own health and knowledge. I know where they come from and what they’re made with.

Doing more research, I am even more amazed at home easy it is to just make these foods, AND how much better it tastes.  So how did people go from making their foods with ingredients that they knew to buying cans and bags of processed foods?

Convenience and marketing, perhaps?

On the quest, I have achieved more than better health and more delicious food.  I now understand that I can pretty much make all of foods that I love by myself in my own kitchen.  I also have an appreciation for fresh and natural food.

I love bread, but I LOVE homemade bread.  Know what I mean?

 

What is raw milk? And why is raw milk illegal?

14 Jul

I ran across the term raw milk a couple days ago, and I started to wonder–what is raw milk? I have spent a little time reading about it on the internet to understand raw milk, and where I could find it in my local area.

I personally don’t drink milk (my husband does), but I really wanted to make my own cheese this summer. As I began to look into making cheese and butter, I really was pursuing the production for the health benefits. Naturally, I assumed I would start my cheesemaking adventure with organic milk. But after learning about raw milk, I wonder if that’s a better option…

Milk 001.JPG

So ideally, the healthiest milk would come from one cow, who was grass fed, treated humanely without hormones or antibiotics. Doesn’t sound like alot to ask for, but apparently it is.

Yes, I said ONE COW.  Conventional milk (that you buy from the store, even organic) could come from hundreds, if not thousands of different cows.   It also has been exposed to either pasteurization, irradiation or other processes that kill all of the “bad” bacteria. If it’s not organic, it probably has hormones and antibiotics (not so fun fact:70% of drugs in the US go for livestock). I’ll do some research on raw milk and probiotics later….but here’s a little more about pasteurization if you’re curious.

If you own a cow, or live in a rural area, you may have  already had raw milk.  However, “back in the 20s, Americans could buy fresh raw whole milk, real clabber and buttermilk, luscious naturally yellow butter, fresh farm cheeses and cream in various colors and thicknesses.”

It’s a pretty simple concept, actually. Raw milk is milk that has not been processed. And yes, in case you didn’t know it (like I didn’t) all milk is processed if you paid for it.

That’s right, if you paid for it. What do you mean? Well, sale or purchase of raw milk is actually illegal in my state (Hawaii). Check if raw milk is illegal where you live. I’m not talking about illegal in the sense that its one of those silly, outdated law that are taken lightly. There are actually farmers who have been prosecuted for breaking the law–a cease and desist letter was  delivered to one of the two farms in the state of Hawaii, which scared the owner enough into no longer offering raw milk.

If you think all milk is created equal, think again…

So if it’s illegal in some states it must be bad–there has to be some reason why it is illegal, right? Well, from what I’ve read, the FDA thinks so–check out their identified “dangers” as of June 20.  But, to be honest, the FDA is stacked with those holding inside corporate interest, and I don’t really trust them.

The irony in the law is the fact that raw milk is actually really healthy.  Actually raw milk is consumed in many countries in Asia and Europe.  The French actually consider it high grade for cheese consumption. But the FDA makes it scary! Don’t get me wrong –there are always risks, but most of those risks really have to do with proper food handling.  For example, you can get eColi from meat or vegetables like sprouts (we did in March, actually), but raw sprouts aren’t illegal.

What are some benefits of raw milk? Here’s what I found:

  1. lactobacillus acidolphilus present (great for digestive health)
  2. more vitamins and enzymes
  3. not subject to pasteurization
  4. no hormones or anti-biotics
  5. lactose intolerant people can drink it without problems
  6. fresh and natural

You can read more about raw milk in these sources as well.

So as the saying goes “if you can get the milk without the cow” (I couldn’t resist)….it’s probably not as high quality of milk.  Will I be trying raw milk soon? Maybe–but I know that I can’t buy it.

Now how do I go about putting a cow in my small backyard….

 

Mini Non-GMO Shopping Guide–Applies to Products, NOT Brands

7 Jul

A few days ago, I was devastated to find out that my favorite chocolate from Endangered Species is not GMO-free unless it is labeled organic.  I literally felt like I was going to throw up, from both shock of the news and disgust that I was eating it thinking it was GMO-free.

I read the label on their new packaging (and perhaps reformulated product, I’m not sure?) The red flag went off when I saw that their sugar came from beet sugar, a common GMO.  But, I swear, it wasn’t always this way. I tweeted the company, and they responded that only their organics line is GMO-free (duh), but the they’re “working on” getting their naturals to be GMO-free and to give them a call.

When I have the time to, I will call.  But this is seriously inconvenient and I do feel deceived as a consumer.  Until they figure out how to make their product GMO-free, I will not be buying anymore chocolate from Endangered Species Chocolate while actively seeking a chocolate replacement.

It’s too bad, because their chocolate was awesome AND went to a great cause.  Oh well.

I thought–but how could this be, they are in the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.  I even double checked.

The other day I was thrilled to see literature about the danger of GMOs included in the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at our local health food store.  It is great that this information is getting out there.  Later, I’ll use that literature (along with others) to share just how harmful GMO food is.

?However, I just have one beef with the Non-GMO Shopping Guide: they include brands who have enrolled with the Non-GMO project in the little guide that I found at my store–BUT not all of the products from all of these brands are GMO free! 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me a year to figure out that out–the hard way.  I thought this was supposed to make the process easier–but again, it is still confusing!

In short, the mini Non-GMO Shopping Guide is good for information about GMOs, but don’t buy based on brand.  For the full information (to check on each and every product that is not listed as organic), use the full Non-GMO Shopping Guide or download their app.

I think the mini publication Non-GMO Shopping Guide should really just include brands that are completely GMO free, which does simplify the process of buying GMO-free.  Otherwise, it is just promoting products that aren’t GMO free and potentially raising sales for companies that have some GMO and some non- GMO products.

I sure do miss my chocolate fix :( –it sure is hard to find some quality, “healthy” sweets.