Tag Archives: food

Is school lunch good for your kid?

16 Mar

Kids spend most of their day at school. They often eat both breakfast and lunch. My first year teaching I had to supervise the breakfast routine. I was totally appalled. Sitting on the desk at the front of the room was a cooler full of fruit DRINK (not juice, but an artificially flavored and sweetened drink) and a box of fruit rollups. The school was so proud of it’s breakfast program because they were helping to feed these poor kids who often had to come to school hungry because they came from families to poor to buy food.

I don’t know about you, but a fruit rollup and sugar drink doesn’t help me think through the day. I’ve talked before about the effects of diet on learning. But until we are ready to make some real changes we are going to continue to have obesity problems, behavior problems, health problems, and more.

I remember as a child my first year back in the country. My brother and I had our lunch boxes in hand (I had the metal Snoopy lunch box. How cool is that!) But we got to school and we were two out of a handful of kids who packed our own lunch. In the entire school! How embarrassing. We were like the lunch outcasts. We sooooo wanted to buy our lunches just like everyone else. We begged… and begged… to get to buy our lunch. But our parents couldn’t afford it.

Then the next year, our parents found out they qualified for the free lunch program. YES! We got our wish. We got to buy our lunch just like everyone else. There I was, a little girl, holding my tray waiting in line for this delectable mystery. It just had to be so good.

Boy, what a disappointment. I went home and BEGGED to be able to take my own lunch to school the next day. No luck. My parents didn’t budget for packing lunch because we were getting free lunch at school.

That was the last and only year we bought our school lunch. As I got older I started making my own lunch – and boy, were they good. I often had to make extra to share with my friends. They all had lunch envy.

Ann Cooper is known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady”. She is working out in Berkley, California and has implemented fresh, locally grown, and organic foods for the lunch program. And it is making a big difference.

Now, keep in mind that she is working within the system. She is working on changing how public schools feed children. That is why she  advocates for government spending and oversight in this arena. If you are going to depend on the government to educate and feed your child, you better make darn sure that they are doing it right.

My personal opinion is that the whole public school system should be scrapped. But that is not going to happen anytime in the near future – for many reasons. Be that as it may, public schools are a large part of most family’s lives. And as such, you, as a parent need to be aware of the costs (not just in dollars, but health, academics, and life) of school lunches.

Kids and chores – the never ending battle to get things done

11 Dec

three-year old sweeping

When is a child too young to start helping out around the house?

sit... stay... go get it... good girl

sit... stay... go get it... good girl

four-year old measuring pet food

Well, naturally, that depends on the child. But my observation is, if they are old enough to ask if they can help, they are old enough for you to let them help. The key here is that you, as the parent, need to LET them. Oftentimes, we would rather just get it done. It takes too long to watch them struggle through it, we don’t like having to clean up the mess that follows in the wake of their “cleaning”, and they might break something.

fourteen-year old washing dishes

seven-year old shredding cheese

After having four kids the amount of housekeeping required to sustain even the barest minimum of cleanliness consumed almost all of my time. That’s four kids, one husband, myself, and numerous pets (at the moment, one dog and one cat, but we have had as many as two dogs, two cats, and a pair of birds all at the same time).  And why should I be the only one cleaning up after the masses, afterall, I’m not the only one making a mess. So the new regime began – even for the youngest.

three-year old cleaning lint trap

three-year old helping with the laundry

One could make the argument that learning such menial tasks as laundry, cleaning, and washing is counter productive to successful living. This could be hired-out work. Most wealthy and successful people rarely spend their time on housekeeping but hire someone else instead so that their own time and energy can be focused elsewhere. But I firmly believe that everyone should have a basic understand of how to do such menial tasks. At the very least it fosters respect for the work entailed (would you belittle and abuse your housekeeper if you truly understood how difficult the work was). And if you are in dire straights, at least you now how to keep your shirt clean. Taking care of chores is also a great way to foster independence, strengthen self-confidence, and encourage pride in a job well done.

youngest "supervising" the seven-year old cleaning the litter

master "chef" in training

The nice thing about starting out early is that eventually the kids reach a level of proficiency that requires very little oversight and correction. Plus, with so many of them, they help each other out and teach each other.

I finally drew up a little chore chart. But we rarely ever use it because they have already been trained on what needs to be done. The chore chart merely acts as a reminder so that they are able to double check their work.

chore chart

youngest “supervising” the seven-year old cleaning the litter

Fried Rice

19 Jan

When people find out that I know how to make fried rice they always want to know my “secret”. This always makes me laugh because fried rice was a “get rid of the left-overs” staple growing up. What most people don’t know is that you need to use old rice. You cannot make rice and then use it to make fried rice on the same day. It must sit in the fridge for a couple of days (3-5 days is best) and totally dry out. The rice is important. To me, “Japanese sticky rice” is rice. All other rice is then referred to specifically (i.e. long grain, wild, brown, jasmine, basamati, etc.) Once you get the rice down the rest is easy. Here’s a basic recipe:

leftover rice
(at least 3 days old. it is ready when it crumbles and is no longer sticky)
onions, chopped
celery, chopped
carrots, chopped
any other vegetable you may want to throw in (zucchini, bean sprouts, cabbage, green peppers, green beans, broccoli, peas, etc) everything should be cut to the same size.
leftover meat (chicken, beef, pork , shrimp)
scrambled eggs, optional (do not add salt)
black pepper, optional
red pepper, optional
cilantro, optional
soy sauce

In a wok heat a liberal amount of cooking oil (you will need enough oil to prevent the rice from sticking-probably more than you realize). Add vegetables and stir fry until tender. Add meat and heat through. Crumble rice and add to mixture. Add seasonings and scrambled egg. Mix thoroughly. Make a well in center of pan and pour in soy sauce. Allow soy sauce to bubble before mixing together. Rice should be a light brown and fragrant. Do not add too much soy.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and everybody loves it. We usually serve it with miso soup and edamame. If I’m feeling really generous I’ll even make egg rolls or gyoza.

To Eat or Not to Eat – That Is the Question

15 Jan

We are trying to eat more healthy foods. It hasn’t been that easy. We’ve never been big on buying prepackaged and heavily processed foods. But there is always room for improvement. We’ve recently started buying more organic foods. I know that a lot of magazines and “experts” say that organic produce is not necessary; but I have noticed a difference. I used to have subtle, but annoying reactions when I would eat certain foods (such as broccoli, cauliflower, apples, carrots, and potatoes). My ears and mouth would start to itch or I would start to sneeze. Well, it doesn’t happen when I eat the organic versions of those foods. So we are boldly forging ahead with our all-natural and organic adventure.

I’ve recently learned about pasteurizing. I grew up thinking that unpasteurized milk was bad for you. But I spent 4 years of my childhood in England drinking unpasteurized and unhomogenized milk.

Did you know that if you feed pasteurized cow’s milk to a calf, the calf will die.

And it’s not just milk. There is now a law to pasteurize almonds. I told my husband about it and he just brushed it off at first. “That just means they heat it to a certain temperature,” he retorted. Not so fast honey, it’s actually a chemical that gets sprayed onto the food.

Dr. Sears wrote in one of his newsletters about pasteurization that I will repeat here (including his footnotes).

The Untold Story of Pasteurization and Homogenization

During the early 1800s, Robert M. Hartley, an accomplished zoologist proclaimed in praise of cows, “It is scarcely necessary to say, that they supply us with the most truly precious of our earthly gifts. [Without cows], how different would be the social, commercial and political condition of the most civilized of the human race!” 1

Mr. Hartley had no idea how prophetic his enthusiastic statement was. As New York City and other major cites rapidly grew in the 1800s, city families were unable to keep a family cow for the dairy needs. As demand for milk was just as great, milk was sold in mass quantity through dairy farmers.

To deal with the problems of delivery and freshness, industrialists came up with new ways of processing milk. Unfortunately, processed milk can be dangerous for both the cow and the consumer. 2

Homogenization Leads to Chronic Disease

Whole milk most closely resembles actual cow’s milk after pasteurization. Skim milk is another story… Aside from having all of its natural nutrients destroyed during processing, nonfat dried milk is added as a protein and vitamin additive.

“Production of nonfat dried milk involves forcing skim milk out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressures, a process that not only destroys nutrients but also causes the production of nitrates-which are potent carcinogens. Furthermore, the process causes oxidation of the cholesterol in milk.” 3

What’s more, skim or fat-free milk is full of milk sugar (lactose). When you remove the fat, all you’re left with is sugar. So much so, farmers often feed their pigs fat-free milk in order to fatten them up.

When you look at the chart below, it all becomes clear:

While I have reported to you in the past that cholesterol in food poses no danger, “oxidized cholesterol has been shown to initiate the process of injury and pathological plaque build-up in the arteries.” 4

Thus the unknowing consumer who drinks reduced-fat milk in order to prevent heart disease and cancer may actually increase his risk of chronic disease.5

Health Ailments Associated with Pasteurized Milk6

*Symptoms/Minor Ailments: Diarrhea, Cramps, Bloating, Gas, Gastrointestinal bleeding, Iron-deficiency anemia, Colic in infants, Allergies, Skin rashes, Increased tooth decay, Recurrent ear infections in children, Acne, Infertility, Growth problems in children

*Life Threatening or Altering Diseases: Arthritis, Atherosclerosis, Autism, Cancer, Heart Disease, Leukemia, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes

Nature’s Healthiest Option: Raw Milk

Raw Milk has a creamier texture and is full of essential nutrients and vitamins unadulterated by the processing that brings commercial milk to your grocery store. It is without a doubt your healthiest option.

Most farmers drink raw milk because of taste and the knowledge that it is healthier for you. There is not a huge market for raw milk and in some states it is illegal to sell raw milk. Raw milk sales average around 20 percent for those who are able to sell it. More typically, the farmer drinks the raw milk and sells processed milk. But you have the power to change this.

You too can enjoy nutrient rich raw milk. It may not be readily available at your grocery store, but your local dairy farmer and some natural food markets do provide this choice. If you live in an area that this is not possible, read on as I will tell you how to work around this government roadblock.

Raw Milk: Fact vs. Fiction

FICTION: Raw milk has too much harmful bacteria to safely drink

FACT: If bottled correctly and safely, risk for infection is almost zero.

FICTION: Raw milk is too fattening and high in cholesterol for human consumption

FACT: Nonsense. Raw milk is an excellent source of CLA* and good fat. Your body responds better to unadulterated fat with healthier skin, hair, nails, digestion among other critical organ functions.

FICTION: Raw milk causes heart disease.

FACT: No Way. Pasteurization and homogenization are the contributing culprits of heart disease.

FICTION: Pasteurization makes milk safe to drink

FACT: Wrong again. While pasteurization minimizes bacteria contamination it does not ensure it.

FICTION: Raw Milk causes allergies

FACT: Pasteurized milk is the culprit. Many lactose intolerant or allergic drinkers are able to enjoy raw milk even years after abstaining from pasteurized milk.

[*CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) a heart healthy and beneficial fatty acid.7

“Milk from grass-fed cows has a beneficial fatty acid known as CLA, short for Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Countless studies have shown that CLA has many potential health benefits. For comparison, grain-fed cows have as little as one fifth the CLA in their milk as grass-fed.”8]

Where to Find Raw Milk

While raw milk is not readily available at your chain supermarket it can be found at natural food supermarkets and through your local dairy farmer. In the event that it is illegal to purchase raw milk in your state there are some clever options available to sidestep this law. One of which is to buy part ownership of a cow with your local dairy farmer in order to “purchase” raw milk. It may be the cheapest away to “own” a dairy cow.

The best source for information on where to purchase raw milk and how to get around governmental restrictions is Real Milk

1. Schmid, Ron. ND. “The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy Foods, New Trends Publishing, Inc. Washington DC, 2003: p. 228-229, 2003.
2. Ibid.
3. http://www.realmilk.com
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Mercola, Joseph, MD. “The Real Reasons Raw Milk is becoming more popular” http://www.mercola.com/2004/apr/24/raw_milk.htm, April, 24, 2004.
7. http://www.raw-milk-milk-facts.com/About_Raw_Milk.html
8. Ibid.

Unfortunately, here in Illinois and most of the country, you cannot easily (or in some cases legally) get raw milk. Each state has slightly different laws, but all states are ultimately trying to restrict your freedom of choice. If I want to buy raw milk, I have to find an organic farmer willing to sell to me directly. I think I may even have to supply my own bottles.

Dr. Mercola is another raw milk advocate. He is calling for all supporters to take action in California. One of the few states that still allows people to purchase raw milk in stores. But that may soon change if the government has it’s way.

Mercola responds to an article in San Francisco Chronicle

AB1735 is a front that would make it nearly impossible for raw milk to continue to be sold freely in California (one of only a handful of states where raw milk can be purchased conveniently in stores).But there is very good news.

According to Organic Pastures, a new law is set to be introduced tomorrow by Assemblywoman Nichole Parra that would reverse AB1735 (keep reading to find out how you can voice your opinion at this hearing!). Reportedly, an investigation of certain California Department of Food and Agriculture employees found that they advised staff members to place “eight special anti-raw milk words” into the law.

Further, the law, which was supposed to be reviewed by the governor’s office, was reportedly passed “rapidly and secretly” without discussion or open debate. A note on Organic Pastures’ Web site says that “Assemblymen and State Senators who voted for AB 1735 are now very upset that they were misled, and support immediate repeal on procedural grounds.”

How did these changes come about? From support from people like you who care about the future of their food supply and who spoke out loudly against this unfair legislation.

But the fight is far from over.

Raw milk is still hard to get for many people in the United States, as in most areas it must be purchased through cow-share programs, direct from a farm. Many are traveling several hours to get their hands on this wonderful food source, which should be widely available to everyone and anyone who wants it.

Yet it seems the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), too, has its sights set on restricting your access to raw milk. They have made an unwise move that could threaten your ability to purchase raw-milk cheese, and they’ve added a prominent section to their Web site citing the supposed dangers of raw milk.

Well, you could take this one of two ways. Either the FDA has got some extra time on its hands, or they are getting worried that the truth is out. As increasing numbers of people demand access to this healthy food source, citing real science about its health properties and superiority over pasteurized milk, they will need to work harder to protect the interests of their real partners: the mega-food factories that profit big-time from selling pasteurized milk.

Why Drink Raw Milk?

If you are new to the raw-milk scene, you may be wondering what all of the hype is about. Well, raw milk is an entirely different food from pasteurized milk, which I don’t recommend drinking.

* Raw milk still contains all of the valuable enzymes that are destroyed during pasteurization. Without them, milk is very difficult to digest. So if you have lactose intolerance, it may very well disappear once you start consuming raw dairy products.

* Raw milk is an outstanding source of healthy, “good” bacteria and micronutrients, including lactobacillus, acidophilus, and vitamins, which are virtually eliminated by the pasteurization process of commercial milk. It is an outstanding nutrient to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine.

* Raw milk still contains natural butterfat, which is homogenized or removed in pasteurized milk. Without butterfat, it becomes very difficult for your body to absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in the water fraction of the milk. Butterfat is also your best source of preformed vitamin A, and contains re-arranged acids with strong anti-carcinogenic properties.

* Raw milk does not contain synthetic vitamin D, which is known to be toxic to your liver, yet is still added to most commercial milk.

* Raw milk contains healthy unoxidized cholesterol.

* Raw milk from grass-fed cows contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and may help reduce your body fat.

Pasteurizing milk, on the other hand, destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and promotes pathogens. In my opinion, there’s no reason to drink pasteurized milk, ever.

Join the Cause and Support Raw Milk

As I said earlier, tomorrow Assemblywoman Nichole Parra is poised to introduce legislation that would amend AB1735. If you live in California, please consider showing your support for raw milk by attending this important hearing:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Capitol Building
Sacramento, California

The more people who attend in support of raw milk, the better!

If you’re unable to attend or do not live near Sacramento, you can also show your support through the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). This is the official non-profit organization handling the legal defense and consumer revolt against AB1735. Gary Cox is the lawyer handling the case. They are a legal 501 (C)(4) organization connected to the Weston A. Price Foundation.

You can donate directly at FTCLDF, or you can donate to the “Save California Raw Milk Political Action Fund.” These funds are being used by Organic Pastures and Claravale Dairy to offset the $10,000 per month costs to fight AB1735. Their goal is to raise $60,000 by May 2008. To donate, go to http://www.organicpatures.com and read the right-hand banner to “Help Us Save Raw Milk!”

Remember, whether you live in California or not, this bill will set a precedent that may eventually eliminate raw milk everywhere … and together, we can make a difference!

You don’t have to agree that raw milk is good for you. But I hope that you realize that people should have the freedom to choose. This is what is especially disturbing to me. Yet another loss of liberty.