• Debunking GMOs: 5 Major Issues

    On September 23, 2016 Jesse Schwartz, the founder of Living Tree Community Foods, interviewed Professor Raymond Seidler clarifying issues surrounding GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Professor Raymond Seidler is a Professor of Microbiology & retired Senior Research Scientist of the EPA:

    ISSUE 1: Usually, articles about GMOs say that everything humans eat is genetically modified. For example, sweet corn, potatoes, plums, tomatoes and so on were all made by selection. That’s the same as what’s done with the super salmon, where a gene from an eel is spliced with a gene from a salmon. This is a common claim that is written about in articles in respected publications such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

    Professor’s clarifications: When natural selection was made by humans, we were seeking size, color, texture, fragrance, which evolved naturally by the process biologists call “natural selection” that results in a beautiful diversity. This was a result of sexual reproduction in the plants, animals, etc. In “natural selection,” the entire genetic makeup (all of the chromosomes in virtually all of the genes) of the female meets the entire genetic makeup of the male and then produces offspring which contains aspects of both parents. Genetic Engineering (GE), however, is not natural. GE is done in a laboratory. 2 to 5 genes are typically mechanically inserted in an artificial, asexual process in a “hit and miss system” into some organism in order to try to improve a characteristic of that organism. “It’s not natural. It’s not the same as the processes involved in the evolution of life on the planet.” GE might take 1 or 2 genes from a bacteria and mechanically shoot it into the genetic material of a plant to create a plant capable of producing a chemical narrowly associated with a bacteria - like a bacteria resistant to a weed killer, which is very commonly done. The genes are injected in order to endow that plant with one characteristic. Not all of the capabilities that are endowed in that plant/ bacteria, but for one purpose. So when we consume the plant, we’re also ingesting some of the genetic makeup of a bacteria. That’s not a natural process and they are not the same. The GE is also highly patented because of the processes involved in producing them. But the natural selection that occurs all the time and has been occurring for so many generations is not a patented event. “They are qualitatively, fundamentally different,” sums up Jesse Schwartz.

    ISSUE 2: There’s no evidence to date that GMOs are not safe, according to respected publications such as the WSJ. Nothing’s been demonstrated to show that they have negative effects on human’s health. As a scientist, Professor Seidler says, there have been articles in Peer Reviewed Journals around the world that clearly demonstrate and state that that is simply not the case. Often we hear that some 2,000 papers have demonstrated the safety of Genetically Engineered Organisms. But they don’t mention that the vast majority of those papers claimed to address the safety have results that are not agreed upon by many scientists & leading researchers around the world. Additionally, there’s approximately 1,800 papers, he says with a chuckle, published in Peer Reviewed Journals that demonstrate some issues with GMOs i.e. health issues, chronic disease, ecological, non-target & beneficial organisms effects, and so on. The 2,000 papers referred to often speak of yields, benefits, controlling weeds or pests, and do not directly deal with health effects at all ! So, the professor says, he is “really disappointed” that this type of information continues to be published by one of the nation’s leading newspapers. Either there is undue influence from industry, the authors have not thoroughly reviewed these publications, or both.

    ISSUE 3: How is it that the FDA so rapidly agreed to GMOs being as safe as any other food? One would think that this “disruption” to the normal development of food would require extended and extensive scrutiny. How were they so quick to proclaim the doctrine of “substantial equivalence”? According to the Professor, the response was not based on science, rather on politics. In the mid to late 1980s and 1990s, when GE crops went from nil to millions of acres, “we knew very, very little from a scientific perspective about the consequences of releasing those kinds of products…” The studies showing the chemical effects of these organisms, discussed earlier, were discovered after that political statement made by Dan Quayle, former Vice President of the U.S.

    ISSUE 4: Let’s discuss a specific example of a GMO. There’s an apple, the “Arctic Apple,” that was released this harvest season to markets which does not brown. You can cut it open and leave it out and it will not get brown. Fast food national chains have declared they won’t be buyers, so those apples will likely go into apple sauces or wind up in general markets around the U.S. Their claim is that the shelf life is extended. But the browning reaction we’ve all likely seen is, biologically speaking, a natural response by apples (usually within 5-15 minutes) that says, “ouch! I’ve been injured. This is my natural healing process to keep away pathogens from my seeds.” When we expose inner surfaces of food items, apples in particular, we open it to the atmosphere. Though these Arctic Apples may remain white, that doesn’t allow them to remain free from mold/ bacterial contamination. When they’re on the shelf, they can become colonized by microorganisms that can cause sickness or disease to humans/ animals. “We don’t hear about this conversation enough these days, but in my research days we discovered that plants in general harbor many potential human pathogens on their surfaces, on their roots, and when exposed, they become rapidly colonized because they’re a great source of food, not only for [us humans] but for other microbes.” The Professor’s concern is to watch out for the shelf life of green apples that are not turning brown within a few hours; they’re likely to become colonized. Sadly, you won’t even know that they are Genetically Modified since GMOs are not labeled in this country. “Buyer Beware.”

    ISSUE 5: On the OpEd pages of the WSJ and other major publications, it is often spoken about “with utmost piety” that GMOs are necessary to feed the hungry masses and alleviate world hunger. Professor Seider agrees that this has been a mantra from industry, but now, in 2016, there are so many studies published from all over the world that show “beyond any reasonable doubt” that there is no mathematically significant difference in the yields between GM crops and not. “There are no yield-enhancing genes that are genetically engineered into commercially engineered products.” So, why would we expect more? Farmers may say that they’re controlling weeds thereby giving them more yield. But, “my answer is: come back and let’s have this conversation after three years. Are you still controlling your pests? Are you still controlling your weeds with Glyphosate? Ohh, you have to use Glyphosate and another weed-killer now? Oh, did you know that there are now crops that are resistant to 3 weed killers? Try that and see how your costs compare to someone who might have incredibly clean fields without increased technology costs to the seed producers.”

    Jesse Schwartz concludes the interview with a quote that “Mankind never sets itself a problem that it cannot solve,” so: “let’s conclude on a hopeful note.”

  • 7 Valuable Chia Seed Benefits That’ll Make You Insanely Healthy

    Chia seeds may be ridiculously tiny, but they’re also quite mighty. Originating from the desert-growing Salvia plant in Central America and found to be a common food source among the Aztecs and Mayans who lived centuries ago, chia seed benefits are touted by nutrition experts and health conscious individuals all over the world today.

    While there are lots of different types of seeds out there that offer great nutritional value, chia seeds offer more of what some other seeds don’t. Here’s why you may want to serious consider adding this powerful little seed to your diet.

    Chia Seeds Benefits

    1) Omega Fatty Acids – Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids — providing about 9 grams of total fat. You get 5 grams of omega-3s for every two tablespoons of chia seeds, which is even more than what flax seeds have to offer. That healthy dose of omega-3s brings along a range of proven health benefits, including protection from heart disease, reduced inflammation, and cognitive enhancements.

    2) Weight Loss – “Chia seeds are promoted as a weight loss aid and are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, probably because of the fiber and omega-3 fatty acid content,” says nutritionist Shereen Lehman. At 138 calories per ounce (about two tablespoons), chia seeds have nearly 10 grams of fiber, which may help you feel fuller and satisfied for longer by slowing down the absorption process of sugars in the intestine. But in another study conducted in 2009, researchers found that chia seeds didn’t provide any weight loss benefits or reduction in disease risk in overweight adult participants. According to Ms. Lehman, “chia seeds can be part of a healthy diet, but there isn’t enough evidence to use them to treat or prevent any health conditions.”

    3) Hydration – If you’ve ever mixed water with chia seeds, then you know just how powerful they are at soaking up liquid. Because they’re so high in soluble fiber, chia seeds can actually soak up about 10 times their weight in water, even in your stomach and when eaten raw. Mixing the seeds with water to create a gel-like substance can be used as a nutritious and hydrating drink for athletes.

    4) Protein – In addition to that healthy helping of fiber, a 1-oz serving of chia seeds offers 4 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of plant-based protein.

    5) Blood Sugar Levels – Despite the dense nutritional content chia seeds have, science hasn’t exactly proven much of what it can help treat. According to a 2007 study involving chia seeds, researchers looked at how its consumption might benefit diabetics. They found some positive impacts on cardiovascular disease risk and blood sugar levels, but the addition of the chia seeds to the diabetics’ diets led them to eat less carbohydrates and more fat, presenting the question of whether the health benefits were caused by the chia seeds or the reduction in carb consumption.

  • Why is sourdough bread so much better than the regular bread on the market?

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions we always get;

    What is sourdough bread?
    Is it healthier then regular bread?
    How can any bread be so good if it has gluten?
    does sourdough bread taste sour?
    So lets get some answers.
    Sourdough bread is the only way our ancestors new how to make bread for thousands of years. it is made only using Wheat, water, natural bacteria and airborne wild yeast.
    The Natural bacteria is present on the actual kernel of the wheat and when stone grounded ( i am intending to a cold method of milling ) the Natural bacteria will start to ferment and remove many of its anti-nutrients such as Phytic acid and Lectins. in addition, study have shown that the reduction in Gluten has dramatically reduced to nearly 80% less than regular bread.
    Now that we have a bread with out any anti-nutrients  and significantly lower gluten, this bread has become very easily digestible for our digestive system.
    But thats not all, all the vitamins that we see in the nutritional facts section are now bio available to us, not only because the anti nutrients are not in the way, but because the bacteria has broken the cell barrier to those minerals.
    For the final toping i would like just mention that there is only 3 ingredients to our sourdough bread, Wheat ,Water and salt, which is so incomparable to any commercial bread that has over 10 ingredients that are mostly unpronounceable to say the least.
    So for simple, bio available, great taste, healthy and  wholesome bread , sourdough is the only rival.
    and no sourdough doesn’t always taste sour unless it ferments for a longer amount of time.

    Why does sourdough bread taste better?

    Using a sourdough starter when making bread will reduce the amount of yeast to a minimum. You’ll also notice the taste of the grains and the flour much better, as their flavors will be emphasized by the sourdough technique. And you won’t just get tastier bread. A sourdough will leave you feeling more satisfied, and you won’t have that after effect of bloating that many feel when eating bread.

    However, it is not enough to simply reduce the amount of yeast. You also need to let the dough rest longer in order to gain a good fermentation.

    The sourdough starter is the real secret to getting a good fermentation going. Essentially your sourdough starter is old dough, which has already pre-fermented and contains Lactobacillus culture. Lactobacillus culture has a sour taste and is an active culture that lives off natural yeast spores from the air. Sometimes it can be difficult for you to get good sourdough starter going if your kitchen is too clean!

    Adding a sourdough starter when baking bread is rather like feeding the sourdough, and it will contribute to a quicker fermentation of the dough. A natural fermentation will always take longer and normally dough with a sourdough starter needs to rest for a minimum of 8 hours. But again, it depends on how good the starter is, the room temperature and how clean the environment is.

  • Why Organic?

    Naturally Green, Organically Clean:  The Benefits of Going Organic
    Walk into almost any supermarket and as your browse the aisles you  will more than likely come across several sections labeled “Organic.”  These displays may be larger in some stores and smaller in others, but if you are anything like me, you have probably found yourself wondering what benefits if any organic foods offer and are they really worth the extra cost.


    Answering that question involves taking a step back and understanding what organic foods are really all about.  When you see the label “organic,” that designation refers to the way a particular item is produced.    The United States Department of Agriculture defines organic foods as items that are grown or processed according to federal guidelines which relate to several factors including soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control and the use of additives.  All organic produce must  be grown on soil that has been free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for three years prior to harvest with similar regulations in place for organic meat production.  In order to be designated organic, animals have to be raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors and be given a diet that is exclusively organic, with administered antibiotics and hormones also prohibited in order for an animal to qualify as  organic.    As of January, 2015 the USDA estimated the organic retail market to be a $35 billion business, with more than 25,000 farmers, ranchers and businesses bearing the agency’s coveted organic certification.


    Because organic foods contain no chemicals or additives, theyare free of potentially harmful substances, making organic foods a wise choice, both for consumers and for the environment. Years of adding antibiotics to animal feed has given rise to tremendous problems, as people have been inadvertently ingesting the drugs given to the animals that they are now consuming, a phenomenon that has given rise to drug-resistant bacteria, which pose serious threats to human health. Additionally, it goes without saying that there is virtually no one who has a preference for eating food that has been treated with pesticides and preservatives, so going organic puts the consumer at a much lower risk of exposure to potentially harmful and even toxic substances.


    What are you really getting when you buy organic produce?  Fruits and vegetables that are grown with natural fertilizers such as manure or compost, in fields where weeds are controlled by hand weeding, mulching, tilling and crop rotation, with natural techniques, including birds, good insects and traps, employed to prevent insect infestation.  Best of all, organic produce is free of the unwelcome additions found in conventionally grown produce including fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, substances that frequently remain even after thorough washings, according to HelpGuide.org. The worst offenders, with the highest levels of pesticides? Apples, bell peppers, grapes, cherry tomatoes, celery, potatoes, kale, peaches, spinach, squash, strawberries, hot peppers and cucumbers.


    When it comes to meat and dairy products, an organic designation is an assurance that animals have been fed an all organic diet and have not been given any antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and GMOs, but have been raised using natural methods, including clean housing, rotational grazing and a healthy diet, all of which have been shown to prevent diseases.  Organic chickens must have outside access, fresh air, direct sunlight and freedom of movement, while livestock and milking cows are provided with access to grazing pastures for at least four months out of the year.


    Take all of the aforementioned factors into consideration and you are left with foods that are not only free of dangerous substances but may very well contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.    A review by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine  examined over 40 published studies comparing the nutritional content of conventionally grown produce and grains versus their organic counterparts and found that the organic items were nutritionist superstars.  Organic items were found to provide 21.1 percent more iron, 27 percent more vitamin C, 29.3 percent more magnesium and 13.6 more phosphorus and that consuming five servings daily of certain organic vegetables provided the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
    The added health benefits of organic food do come at a  higher cost.  The elimination of conveniences such as pesticides and chemicals make food production more labor intensive and organic animal feed comes at a higher cost as well.  Unfortunately, most organic food producers are not large enough to qualify for government subsidies and smaller farms typically do not benefit from the economies of scale that larger facilities enjoy.   Yet despite the additional cost, choosing organic foods is still a wise decision that will likely yield tremendous health benefits.  Thankfully there are ways for the savvy shopper there to minimize the price differential between organic and conventional items including buying in season and comparison shopping and it is important to remember that sometimes it is worth paying a premium for a superior product. Yes, buying organic may  cost more in the short term, but looking at the bigger picture, buying organic is a smart move that provides numerous health benefits which may, in the long run, end up saving you money.


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