Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


Eat At Your Own Risk

In a world where few people seem to take personal responsibility, in a world where it appears our government is no longer working in our best interest, in a world where conflict seems to be increasing, we have to change our ways. Each one of us.

The food found in American supermarkets has been full of chemicals for years.  Auto-immune diseases have been increasing. Correlation? You betcha.

So increasingly, shoppers have turned to organic foods but not only is it generally more costly, the group that defines what is organic and what is not has been diluting the value of that label.  So it is no longer the safety zone we first depended on.

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam



Today the news came out that despite Congressional voting and despite a majority of the people in the country arguing against the use of 2,4-D for use as an herbicide, it was approved for use and GMO crops will be resistant.  Why fight against it? Well, 2, 4-D is one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the chemical that was used extensively to defoliate VietNam during the war.  It has caused cancers and other illnesses and deformities in the Vietnamese population for several generations. And now, in order to deal with weeds that have adjusted to the prior chemicals, this will be sprayed on  OUR food.Vietname defoliated

Food you will eat. And so, 2, 4-D will move inside your body.  With unknown results….but we only need to look at VietNam to see what it can do.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening in VietNam.

The other recent news is not new but has been shared for several years. The increasing use of antibiotics in the normal feed of most meat animals means our own bodies are getting low doses when we eat supermarket meat.   Remember the little sticker on your pill bottle of antibiotics? It reminds you to take your entire dose. That is because if the bacteria is not killed, it will only weaken and then it adapts. That end result is that the antibiotic is no longer effective against that bacteria. We are quickly moving out of the magic age of antibiotics and back to a time when an infection can kill you.Antibiotic resistance_0The government asked the meat industry to voluntarily reduce the use of antibiotics. Yeah, right. When animals are crowded together in the ways they are in those factories, disease spreads so they feed antibiotics all the time, whether the animals are sick or not.

And you eat that meat. And so, small amounts of antibiotics move inside your body.


I have often written KNOW YOUR FARMER! What does that really mean? You get to know a farmer in your area who produces food in a way that will not expose you to these chemicals.  You do that because it is better to spend a bit more on healthy food now than to pay for medicine and health care later.know farmer

If you do not know how to find a farmer go to http://www.localharvest.org/ and put in your zip code. No excuses.  There are options to the supermarket near you!!! Value your health.  If not, you eat at your own risk.




So Much Anger! Check What You’re Eating!


People joke about the punchline…..easy, fast and sweet…..but it really is serious. What you eat feeds your body….or starves it.

Most of the time, when people use that phrase they are trying to push a good diet to LOOK good.  This time, I want you to consider how you FEEL.  Your emotions.  If you are quick to anger, if you have little tolerance for people, look at your diet as part of the cause.

Processed food full of chemicals causes people to be more irritable, quick to anger, and have difficulty listening to information.  I first heard this during the Presidential campaign time period a couple of years ago and thought maybe that is why people are so short tempered when someone says something that differs from what they hold dear.  I had not seen anything more posted, but you know how the press limits what we see.You_are_what_You_Eat__63930

So, seeing the same ugly behavior once again…or should I say, the high level of stupid ugly behavior once again, I thought I would do some online mining. Please remember I am not a scientist, but consider, as a premise, that since our food really started getting pumped full of chemical preservatives and we are ingesting herbicides through high agricultural use, the trend has been increased anger.

People carrying guns…and using them.  People ramming other people with their cars. People suing someone when they smash a car window to rescue a baby or a pet inside a car on a hot day.  People denying their responsibility. People lying.

People claiming God in their life but being so sure theirs is the ONLY right way that it is out of love they have to tell us what fools we are.

So, here are some studies I found.

(NaturalNews) The things you eat have a direct effect on your state of mind, and even have the power to drastically alter your behavioral patterns. These are the findings of a new study out of Oxford University in the U.K., which revealed that processed junk food consumption can lead to aggression, irritability, and even violent tendencies. http://www.naturalnews.com/039655_processed_food_irritability_research.html##ixzz3FP8l1eAo

Food is a basic ingredient in the formation of natural mood elevating brain chemicals like serotonin.  Serotonin deficiencies cause depression, anxiety, anger problems and eating disorders.  Neurons (brain cells) require food nutrients to make the chemical messengers that influence every system of the body.  Your emotions can instantly change depending on what you eat.  If you grab fast food, boxed, packaged, or processed food, you get a stimulating high from sugar, salt and fat.  Unfortunately a crash follows as your brain is starved of serotonin enhancing nutrients.  The crash causes food cravings that can lead to overeating, weight gain and irritability. http://www.manageangerdaily.com/2011/08/heal-your-angry-brain-part-2-of-5/#sthash.BbPuwTOC.dpuf

Food additives and poor diet could help explain poor school performance, criminal behavior, alcoholism, and the growing numbers of Alzheimer‘s patients. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, high sugar content and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which in turn leads to falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes the brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, panic attacks and an increase in suicide risk.  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/29/what-s-in-that-how-food-affects-your-behavior.aspx

Want more?You-Are-What-You-Eat

Aggression is a difficult and sometimes devastating symptom that occurs in children for varied reasons—some known and some unknown — both nature and nurture. It’s a difficult area to study/understand for many reasons, especially for children and adults with autism that cannot speak. Causes and triggers of aggression are difficult for any child to understand and describe (Autism or not). It was this very correlation (food and aggression) that initially intrigued me fourteen year ago, and sparked my career as nutrition researcher and clinician focused on ASD and beyond. http://nourishinghope.com/2014/01/can-aggression-be-related-to-food/

What we eat can not only affect the way we feel physically, it can greatly impact the way we feel and function mentally.  Eating a poor diet, rich in processed food and stimulants, can cause our bodies to swing in blood sugar and hunger, which can create imbalance for both body and mind. Certain additives can create physical discomfort and also cause feelings akin to many anxiety symptoms.  Equally the lack of vital nutrients in our diet can be responsible for exacerbating the symptoms of some pre-existing mental health conditions.   http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/lifestyle/mind-food/food-for-good-mental-health.html

There are more. Interesting that much of what is written is coming from the UK.  There is a lot of difficulty here in the US to research the relationship of food to health.  That does not mean the information we can read from overseas studies is not pertinent.  In fact, we can assume our food choices here in the US put us at risk more than in Europe where the concern abotu processed food has resulted in blocking GMOs.


nutrition (1)

Chose your food better….leave the anger behind.



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The Right To Know

Two states have tried to pass public referenda on the issue to label food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.  Both California and Washington State failed to pass their attempts at labeling, but the votes are getting closer and closer as fewer residents get confused by the big money thrown at them by the GMO proponents.  This November voters in both Oregon and Colorado will deciding if they want food available in the grocery store to be labeled if any ingredients have been genetically modified.top_ten_genetically_modified_foods

You may be unaware that much of the food you have been eating since the the late 1990s have genetic modifications. Some of those are to permit herbicides and pesticides to be sprayed on what you will eat without harming the food as it grows. There are health issues that have increased since that time and because testing is blocked, there is only circumstantial evidence that these new chemicals in our food are the cause.     The government has run no tests on these foods, saying the companies who produced the modifications to the original food should do it, but testing is not required.  Many countries around the world do not permit foods with genetic modifications to be sold.  GMO lab results

There is a huge group of companies that are fighting the referendum, saying everything is safe.The big players arguing against it are involved in the production of the seeds or the grocery store trade association.  They do not want the referendum in Oregon and Colorado to pass because it would mean they would need to label food with genetically enhanced ingredients and once they identify this, they are afraid of a loss of income.

They have begun to pour millions and millions of dollars into advertising to convince voters it is a bad idea. The main argument is that any change in labeling will cause the price of the food to increase “by hundreds of dollars a year.”  What they don’t say is how often they already change labels.

This is just one example of how a food company changes packaging with no change in pricing.

This is just one example of how a food company changes packaging with no change in pricing.

The side fighting the labeling is pouring millions of dollars into both Oregon and Colorado to try to block the referendum. They are concerned that the consumers’ right to know what they are eating will affect their profits.

No matter how you personally feel about GMOs in your food, labeling should not be a problem for you. The public’s need to know about chemicals in the food has been approved again and again for other items. The food labels just got revised again to make serving sizes easier to read, in the hopes people will stick to them. For health reasons, many people want to avoid this unproven technology.

What’s in YOUR dinner tonight?GMO LetMeDecide


Local Food

animal veg mirableWaking up to eating local food as much as possible happened when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of a year in her family’s life when they moved from Arizona to a family farm that had long been abandoned in southern Appalachia.   The family decided they would eat only what they raised or what could be traded with another local farmer, with the exception of only a few things, coffee and French wine among them.

This got me thinking and I asked Graham to read the book also. The idea of eating locally, in season, was a brand new concept compared to the way we grew up with supermarkets stocking all kinds of foods all the year. Yes, we could buy strawberries in time for my sister’s January birthday cake. Yes, we could get a can of pumpkin to make a pie in the summer.  But might they be more appreciated when they came into season right near where we lived?

This book and then continued reading and discussing with others made us realize how our eating habits were adding to increased use of fuel for transporting food from the southern hemisphere to us, and more important, we realized we really had never thought about who was raising the food we were relying on for nutrition.

fried fishFor the same reason we didn’t particularly eat seafood when living in landlocked West Virginia.  We very much enjoyed eating our fill of fresh fish and seafood when we traveled to either coast.  Some food just tastes so much better when it is fresh.  If you think about it, except for freshly caught trout and fresh water fish, almost all seafood served in the center of the country is fried, the better to mask a bit of age.  In fact, most people will swear they prefer fried fish, and again, that is because most of the ocean fish served in the landlocked states is NOT particularly fresh.Albacore_Tuna

So, speaking of loving fresh fish, when we moved here the first thing I learned to can with a pressure canner was tuna and it is that time of year again! My sister lives on the coast and has a friend whose husband fishes for tuna and she was able to get them at a really good price. 2014-08-17 08.37.19Today Graham started early, trimming 40 pounds of tuna.  After sterilizing all the jars we cut the tuna into chunks, packed the half pints2014-08-17 11.13.09 and then topped them off with a bit of salt, a spoon of lemon juice and some olive oil.

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

100 minutes later at 10 pounds of pressure we had our first 48 jars, and a second round brought us up to 99.  Canned outside thanks to my friend Jana who loaned us her propane stove and her much better pressure canner.2014-08-17 11.46.27My sister and one of her friends each took a quarter, with Graham and I keeping the rest.  We finished about six hours after we had started, but again, we had to process two batches, each taking 100 minutes. It was a full day and one we will enjoy all year long, when we savor our canned tuna.2014-08-17 14.30.18

So, you say, you can buy tuna fish. And so, back at you, I tell you that you would never eat your favorite, Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea ever again….not after you taste what fresh tuna canned at home tastes like!

Eat local is AMAZING!!!2014-08-17 11.13.35


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Food Purchasing for Locals

Although we did not get to visit a produce market on foot, we noticed lots from the bus.



Small shops offered fresh vegetables and fruit already in season.




We also saw small carts selling fresh produce. street scenecFresh chicken and a sign indicating other meat for sale

DSCF6552And a view of a roadside shop with live chickens and meat, probably goat, available for sale.

food-NancyaThis photo indicates why some travelers opt for a vegetarian diet while in India.



What now? And people think this is the answer?

One stop shopping. Pull into a big box mega superstore and buy your outdoor barbecue, the screened in gazebo you can put around the picnic table so the bugs won’t bother you, and the food to serve. Yup…they started popping up all over the United States and turned into a monster. Wal-Mart is THE place to shop in many towns and a competitor to regional supermarket chains almost everywhere.

And small town mom and pop stores, whether they were the green grocer that always had the freshest local tomatoes in the summer, or the small hardware store where the guy knew exactly where that weird screw was located that you needed, those started disappearing from our neighborhoods.

And now we have terms like food dessert in urban areas because the small corner markets are gone gone gone.

So, people have been complaining about the low wages that cause workers to get public programs to feed their families….but they still shop there. Do you?

So the latest thing: Wal-Mart, always looking to make money,  knows people “want organic food.” Why? Because more and more people are becoming aware that the food found in the supermarkets are full of chemicals and they believe organic is the answer….but is it?

Maybe not. Here’s the BIG reason it bothers me:  Where is the food coming from? To keep the prices very low, the way Wal-Mart is proposing, they will have to purchase it from….where? Out of the country? Probably. China? Maybe. Who is determining the food is raised in the certified organic way? Not the US Government! They just ask for a report. No inspection.

Why do I assume it is from out of the country? Because it costs a lot to raise organic food. Let’s start with the fact that farmers with organic certification do not qualify for subsidies the way conventional farmers in this country do. So right off, the food costs more to plant as a seed.  Because organic farmers do not use chemicals to control pests or weeds, there is more hands on labor for getting that food to maturity. Later, when it gets to the harvest and selling the product, there is no underlying program to cover costs with organic foods. If the farmer can not sell it high enough, no one will send him some money to cover the loss. So, after several years of that, s/he will go out of business.

You want the BEST answer for buying healthy food that is not expensive? Buy from your local farmers. The idea of a CSA may disturb you because farmers are asking for the weeks of food you will be receiving up front. This is so they have money to cover their operating expenses. In the more expensive areas of the country this comes to about $30 a week for 4 people.  If you are not spending that much for veggies you most likely are not eating the amount you should be for proper health and nutrition. buy local

Perhaps you don’t cook. Perhaps you do cook but want only a few kinds of veggies and don’t know how others taste. What? You are going to assume you dislike something before you eat it? That is so 5th grade.