Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If you don't eat your GRASS-FED meat, you can't have any Pudding!

Beef. It's what's for dinner. Whatever. What I want to know is, what was that beef's dinner before the slautering?


There are many arguments to address when discussing meat health. We must consider the well-being of the animal being raised and eaten. We must think of the impact that this meat has on our physical health. We MUST remember that all of our farming and eating practices have a direct impact on the environment.

1. Animal Well-Being: Animals who are raised on grass rather than corn, soy, wheat, etc. have a higher level of inflammation. Just as humans, other animals cannot digest these other forms of foodstuffs as well for they are mostly genetically modified. Their digestive systems become overwhelmed leading to acidosis and rumenitis. These leads to severe bloating, bacterial infections/abscesses and nutrient deficiencies. Thiamin (B1) deficiency leads to paralysis, for example. This cannot be a pleasant life for the animal.

Since all these complications can arise, many raisers pump their animals full of ANTIBIOTICS and ionophors to reduce these risks, not to mention GROWTH hormones. These medications decrease the vitality of the animal, causing decreased immunity and other side effects. This is animal abuse, they are hanging on for dear life. If they cannot be free to mow on grass all day, they probably aren't moving very much either.

Just think, if the food we eat is sick...

2. Human Well-Being: As mentioned, food that has been pumped full of antibiotics can be very harmful to our bodies. Just as pesticides are used in fruits and vegetables, we must use caution and eat as much organic as possible.

Grass-fed animals are leaner and healthier thus are lower in fat and calories. Lean animal fat is actually beneficial to the body in that it helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Lean meat is also known to be higher in Omega-3 fatty acids; omega-3s are important to brain, heart, digestive and skin health (everything really). They are vital fats that we tend to lack in our American diets. Naturopaths stress supplementing the diet with these fats in foods like walnuts, fresh WILD-caught fish, oils and seeds, but you can also get them from eating GRASS-FED meat and eggs!

Other benefits of grass-fed animals to human health: increased B vitamins, Beta carotene, Vitamin E, higher CLA (fights cancer) and minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium.

3. Environmental Health

Farm-raised animals cause more harm unto the environment than pasture-raised. When animals are able to graze the pastures, less fossil fuels are needed as they are harvesting their own food and organically fertiliizing the ground (and hence their own food) themselves. These fertilized pastures hold moisture and solar warmth, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and thus help to slow global warming. By allowing animals to take their natural course of feeding and exercise, crops such as GMO corn and soy are not needed. These crops are harmful to the animals as well as the environment due to the heavy pesticides and machines needed to harvest/process.

OKAY... SO....

When shopping for organic animal products, here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Be weary of the word "NATURAL." This term is not regulated by the FDA, or any group for that manner. Anything can be called natural. Organic standards, however, monitor all aspects of the animals life, death and processing.
  • EAT ONLY WILD-CAUGHT FISH. Do NOT eat farm-raised. Fish that are farmed are contained, contain high levels of Mercury (which is highly toxic to our brain and nervous system for example). People believe that farm-raised fish is lower in Mercury but in fact, they are wrong. The food served to these fish are pellets made from contaminated fish. A good way to avoid the biggest serving of mercury is to not eat the skin as it is stored in fat most efficiently. Farm raised also has higher levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)- no good. They also are pumped full of ANTIBIOTICS and PESTICIDES and synthetic pigments (so they LOOK healthier). GROSS!!
  • Chicken and Eggs are often available as "Cage Free/Free Range" or "Organic". Either is better than standard commercially farmed birds, but organic is ideal for they are fed organically without antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • DAIRY should also be organic. The milk which comes from animals is just as affected by their care and feeding practices as is the meat. I mean, would you want to breastfeed your child if you were smoking, sniffing Lysol, eating paint chips and crammed in a corner without the ability to move your whole life? No.
  • Get LOCAL- look up your local farms for beef, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy, etc. Not only could they use your help in these economic times, but they may be less allergenic to you as they are being raised in similar climates. Same with produce- ALWAYS shop local and organic.
As an ex-vegetarian of nearly 10 years, I still live the life of a primarily plant-based diet. I do not order meat unless I know it is local and organic. Granted, life as a true flexitarian manifests BALANCE, MODERATION and FLEXIBILITY when necessary:)

See this website for more information.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Good to Your Heart

HAWTHORNE: Crataegus laevigata

Hawthorne is my favorite tree (at least today it is). Not only does she grow beautifully with strong dancing branches, but she also produces a powerful medicine with the berries. Being a part of the Roseaceae family, Hawthorne adorns beautiful pink flowers in the spring. She is most reknowned as the heart herb, or cardiotonic.

Hawthorne is high in flavoniods, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins which have a stabilizing effect on capillaries/blood vessels. This makes it useful in hyper- and hypo-tension, elevated cholesterol, chest pain and arterioclerosis. She is a natural calcium channel blocker (ex. Verapamil) as well as ACE inhibitor (ex. Lisinopril) lowering blood pressure and strengthening heart muscle function. Hawthorne is also supplemented in circulatory disease, cardiac heart failure and dyspnea, inflammation of the heart and tachycardia.

Can you sense the theme? With all its affinity for the heart, Hawthorne is also used emotionally/spiritually for depression of the heart chakra. She is a big hug for a sad soul. Many people with anxiety, insomnia and heart-break find it soothing and uplifting.

The berries can be harvested when ripe in the early fall. They can be cooked or used raw or dry. Many people make strained jellies/jams from them. Hawthorne's flowers are harvested in the spring and make a delicious tea- infuse in hot water for a heart-warming diuretic (circulatory cleanser). The leaves are often picked and chewed for calming the stomach. Leaf-buds can also be stewed down and added to chilis or soups (tastes like lima bean).

Portland is lucky to have Hawthorne trees growing everywhere, hence the popular Hawthorne Street in Southeast. Even though we get a lot of rain, I am grateful for every drop. Trees, shrubs, flowers and food. The abundance of green makes it all worth it.

Thanks Chris Bucci!


Love your heart, and above all, just love.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Get Stung by Stinging Nettle

My favorite time of year! This week has brought signs of spring everywhere I go. Change is here, and it is welcomed!

A few exciting sightings:
  • Daffodils in bloom
  • Glorious, aromatic Daphne flowers
  • Camelias everywhere in all colors
  • Robins attacking a giant holly tree while at clinic (all the berries were gone within 8 hours!)
  • More pregnant women showin their baby bumps

I am a stinging nettle FREAK. Love it. I love seeing it, I love eating it, I love getting stung by it (well, not that much). It is a powerful, strong, abundant, nourishing herb.

Have you ever gotten stung by it while running through fields Laura Ingalls style? It's not that pleasant. These stinging hairs on the leaves serve as protection, gaurding the edibility and medicinal value. Just THINK. It must be an amazing herb if it can make you react so strongly (stinging sensation represents incredible vitality)!!!

Nettles are RICH in minerals (phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, iron), flavonoids and carotenoids. It is used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, diuretic and tonic. Many helpful uses include:

  1. Men with benign prostatic hypertrophy
  2. Diarrhea, making a strong syrup from the root
  3. Edema, Cardiac Heart Failure
  4. Migraines
  5. Colds, flus
  6. Allergies- reduces histamine-mediated allergic reactions!!!!
  7. Inflammation, swollen joints, ARTHRITIS
  8. Pain relief


What can you do with it?

  • Harvest (WITH GLOVES) in the spring before they flower for they have more fiber. Here is a great video to show you how.
  • Steam or saute with a little bit of grapeseed oil, add some garlic and onions and MMMM!
  • Hang and dry, Infuse in hot water for a nourishing tea
  • Great alternative to spinach or kale in stews, lasagna, soups, pesto, etc.
  • Grow in your garden with other herbs and veggies. They help boost the nutrients in the soil (the above minerals and nitrogen, and is low in phosphates, encouraging beneficial insects).
  • Visit a naturopathic physician in your area. They may prescribe it in a tincture, tea or capsule form.

Don't worry, the stingers are eliminated with light heat. You won't sting your mouth if you eat it after light cooking.

  • If you DO get stung by fresh Stinging Nettles either in harvesting or running through the fields- rub with Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves.

Happy Spring everyone!! (well, not fellow Sconnies- you have a bit to go yet...)