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Activism Green Living Healthy Living Real Food Toxin Alert!

The Egg Recall and Why Local Isn't Necessarily Better

www.mypicshares.com

I’ve already written about food recalls a number of times, but the point about finding sustainable food is one that I find must be revisited often…because there are so many misconceptions going around about why simply avoiding one brand over another is not enough.

And I’ll also tell you why it’s really important to know your farmer and what practices he or she uses to raise the chickens that lay the eggs you are going to eat.

Read the conversation that convinced me to write this post:

Last week, someone in my family (who shall go nameless to keep the peace, and he never reads my blog anyway) called and asked me about eggs. He wanted to know where I buy my eggs. I replied that I buy them from the Capital City Public Market (in downtown Boise, ID) farmer’s market from a farmer from Payette, ID (it’s about 60 miles away from where I live in Boise). The farm is Matthew’s All Natural Meats.

Then he asked about another egg supplier, a company that’s been around since I was a child, or maybe longer. I have a distinct recollection of going there and seeing closed-in hen houses where the chickens were confined, and the odor I noticed from this business when I got out of the car was definitely strong of excrement. I replied that I wouldn’t buy my eggs there, and I asked him if he wanted to know why.

His reply: “no, this place is local and that’s good enough for me and my wife.”

To clarify, I asked, “so you don’t care if the chickens at this local hatchery are raised in the same way as the ones in the recall?”

“No.” He said.

So while it’s true: all these eggs are sourced back to Iowa farms Wright County Egg and from Hillandale Farms, owned by Austin DeCoster (who is, by the way, a known offender of safety and environmental regulations), you might be thinking:

“But I don’t live anywhere near Iowa, and the eggs I buy are from another source entirely. How could I get sick from eating those eggs?”

Just because you are buying eggs from some other supplier that wasn’t mentioned on the recall list or even buying foods locally, it does not mean you are going to be assured of a safe, healthy product that won’t make you sick.

Those eggs from the recent recall were recalled because of the farming practices used on those chicken farms – chickens crammed together in close quarters, pooping all over each other, getting diseases and being administered antibiotics, feed  covered in chemicals and pesticides (and from genetically-modified sources). That’s where salmonella contamination comes from. Those birds are not allowed to roam around out in the open and eat bugs, worms, and have access to the outdoors and sunshine.

Buying eggs from farmers who raise their chickens sustainably will guarantee you will not have eggs from diseased and sick birds. It’s always a good idea to know the farmer or call him or her at the very least, and ask about the practices they use.

What does sustainable really mean?

Are the birds out in the open, on grass, eating bugs and dirt, and being exposed to sunshine? That’s what chickens are supposed to do, by the way. It’s what nature intended. Are the chickens free from antibiotics, chemicals, and other toxic substances? Chances are, a smaller operation and farm will be much more likely to care about the relationships they have with customers and to make sure their birds are raised in healthy and sanitary conditions. Most small-time operations have a reputation to protect, and they are not going to put it on the line by not keeping their practices clean. Plus, many of those small farmers believe in the principles of animal and bird stewardship and want to produce a healthy and sustainable product.

And you might pay more for a dozen eggs from a local, sustainable farm. But compare that to the cost of getting sick from salmonella and having to miss work or school, and a trip to the E.R. It’s also the case that eggs from healthy hens on pasture have more nutrients in them because unlike their conventional counterparts, healthy birds on pasture and out in the open are exposed to the sunshine and outdoors (think Vitamin A, D, E, and K), a better balance of Omega 3s to 6s, and up to five times the amount of conjugated linoleic acid – a known antioxidant and nutrient important for many aspects of health including the cardiovascular system. Now that makes financial sense.

There is something else you need to be aware of: the media, food safety officials, nor mainstream health or medical sources will never tell you this information because to do so would compromise the safety regulations and laws that are already in place, and it would uncover a vast number of other farms guilty of the same violations. That would make government entities and businesses look bad. It might also, just maybe, alert the public to what’s been going on in the food industry for decades and decades, start a revolt, and cause those companies to have to change their practices or be shut down. But then again, I think I might just be living in a dream world.

Those companies are huge, profitable, and POWERFUL. They’ll stop at nothing to maintain that status, and everyone in those industries and government positions knows each other, works together, and protects each other. Is it starting to make sense now as to why these operations are allowed to continue on their merry way of selling toxic food and food products to the public? Most of the time, those companies get a slap on the hand at the very worst – a fine, or something of that nature, which is easily absorbed by a big corporation.

And the safety standards? Well, it might be interesting to know that those farms who produced the recalled eggs were only required to adhere to them on a “voluntary” basis. So much for following “the law”.  And guess what? Most of the eggs on the market come from premises like these. So even though the carton your eggs come in might say, “cage-free” or “all-natural”, those eggs are still likely from unhealthy chickens in confinement. Marketing terms and lingo are very tricky that way, and lead consumers to believe they are getting something good, when in fact, they probably are not.

The same goes for any food item on a recall list. More and more you will see these recalls happening, and more and more it is going to be critical for consumers to be aware of why these foods are being recalled…despite food safety regulation laws, despite government laws being stepped up and protocols becoming more strict. Creating more laws and stricter regulations simply won’t prevent what has been occurring from occurring again in the future.

Consumer and farmer habits can change the future

The only thing that will change this onslaught of low-quality foods being mass produced and continuing to be recalled is awareness and activism on the part of farmers and consumers to produce sustainable foods and to buy them and support only those farmers and food growers adhering to those strict standards. It may sound strange or even impossible, but it’s the whole truth. If you think most food recalls aren’t from industrial and conventional sources, just look up any food recall and see where it’s sourced. If nothing else, that alone should convince you.

Here are just a few of the recalls in the recent past (and note, ALL sources are conventional and industrial):

Although not all of these companies are as large as companies like Tyson and Cargill (note, both of these companies are included in these recall articles), they all have something in commonindustrial farming practices are used in growing their food. And therein lies the problem.

So, please, please, please, don’t just keep buying the same foods (Heaven forbid!), or go over to some other brand that you know nothing about. Because chances are, you’ll just end up buying another carton of eggs, or another package of meat, or another bag of produce from a conventional source where the food is produced or raised in a similar way to the Iowa farm eggs – in closed in hen houses and in the most filthy, abominable conditions possible. In the case of produce, most of these foods are being contaminated by run-off water and other similar situations from factory farms where E.coli or salmonella are an issue (again, confinement facilities for animals) .Make it a point to learn about where your food comes from, know your farmer, and by all means, do support local – just make sure it’s sustainable.

More reasons to buy sustainable?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Fortified and processed foods: are label claims about nutrition true?

Huge FDA recall of 10,000 products – another wakeup call to avoid processed foods!

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Recipes

Roasted Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce and Vegetables

www.mypicshares.com
Last week, I wanted to make something with chicken that was a little out of the ordinary; something special. We prepare a roast chicken sometimes once a week (budget allowing) and use the meat for at least two meals, and then cook the carcass for broth and soup. This time, I happened to have a whole breast instead of an entire bird from the farm where I buy chicken.

All I could think about was Italian. I started asking my son if he wanted Mexican or Italian, and described how I might prepare it if I went Italian. He definitely wanted Italian too. So I made up my mind I’d make a tomato cream sauce to go with it.

The bouquet of tomatoes and garlic with basil sauteeing in olive oil is intoxicating, and it becomes even more so when your preparation becomes soft and can be added to the cream sauce mixture. The delicate aromas of cream and tomato go exquisitely together with the pungent, yet savory smell of garlic and basil.

My husband is a great cook, and he and I prepared the cream sauce together so it would turn out perfect. :)  Everything we made was pretty much impromptu. I’m not one for planning or getting things done ahead of time. I put the chicken in the oven and set the timer for one hour. Then we waited until about a half an hour before the chicken would be finished to start the cream sauce. The results were fantastic and it was easy!

Ingredients, cream sauce:

  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 2 tablespoons cream or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • chopped tomatoes – 2 – 3 depending on the size and how much tomato taste you want
  • chopped fresh basil – we used about 10 leaves

Roasting chicken:

  • roasted chicken – you can use a whole chicken or parts; we used a whole breast with bones and skin (don’t forget to save the carcass for broth and chicken fat for other cooking projects when your chicken is done cooking!)
  • rosemary, dried – 1/2 teaspoon
  • oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
  • basil – 1/2 teaspoon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut oil, two tablespoons or more if desired – melted and poured over the chicken to bake
  • rice pasta (optional), or you could use rice

Vegetables:

  • Your choice – we used diced zucchini and green beans
  • butter or ghee for vegetables

Directions for preparing the chicken:

  1. Gently melt coconut oil on the stove.
  2. Prepare your chicken for baking – use a baking dish that is the appropriate size for your chicken. If you are baking a whole chicken, you can use a baking dish, dutch oven, or piece of parchment paper spread over a cookie sheet. This is how we roast our chicken. I normally bake my chicken on 350 degrees in the oven.
  3. Pour coconut oil on the chicken and then sprinkle your seasonings on top. Place your chicken in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour if you have large pieces such as a whole breast. If you have a whole chicken, bake approximately 20 minutes per pound. You can cover your chicken toward the end if the top starts to become too brown.

Directions for cream sauce (with rue):

  1. When your chicken is approximately 1/2 hour from being finished cooking, start the cream sauce and cut up your vegetables for steaming. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan up to medium heat (just before smoking). Begin to sautee minced garlic, tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle salt and pepper while cooking. Sautee until your mixture has become a mush (sauce). Turn to low heat.
  2. Now you are ready for the rue. In a small pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-low heat. Gently stir in sprouted flour until you have a paste, the same consistency of pancake batter. Gently add in a cup of chicken stock, and keep stirring until mixed well.  Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Gently stir in a half a cup of whole milk. Keep stirring until milk has warmed. Gently stir in two tablespoons of fresh sour cream until warm.
  4. Gently stir in olive oil, tomatoes, and basil mixture with the rue ingredients. Keep on medium low. Bring it to the point where it is just barely steaming while stirring constantly but slowly. Do not allow it to settle or burn. You might see a bubble or two of milk – this is when you want to bring the heat down, and leave the pan uncovered. Allow it to sit this way on low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until serving and keep on low heat.

Vegetables:

Depending on what you use, you can steam or sautee your vegetables, or prepare them in some other way. We steamed our vegetables for this recipe and added butter at the end. I chopped up a whole small zucchini squash ahead of time and set aside. When I was ready to cook the vegetables (about 10 minutes before the chicken was finished), I used a small pot with a steamer and boiled some water. Then I added some frozen green beans from a local farm and the chopped zucchini. I steamed them for about 7 minutes and then added butter at the end.

Directions for pasta or rice:

If you choose to prepare pasta or rice, you will want to start these items ahead of your other meal items.

Rice:

You will need 40-50 minutes of cooking time on the stove after you bring the water to a boil. I use approximately 2 cups water to 1 cup rice. Brown rice needs longer cooking time than white, and we always use brown rice. I add a bit of sea salt and a slice of real butter to my rice water for flavor and to keep the rice from sticking together.

Pasta:

  1. Prepare about 15 minutes before chicken and sauce are finished.
  2. Fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  5. Add pasta – anywhere from 10 – 16 ounces, depending on how many people you are serving.
  6. Stir and separate pasta quickly to avoid it sticking together.
  7. Allow pasta to boil for a minute and then turn it down to low. Cover.
  8. Stir occasionally while simmering for about 10 minutes.
  9. Test pasta to make sure it is at the right consistency and then drain water promptly. If pasta is left in the water even a few seconds too long, it can become soggy.

When all your food items are ready, serve chicken and vegetables on plates and pour the luscious tomato cream sauce on top. Garnish with basil leaves and shredded parmesan or asiago cheese if desired (it’s so good that way!).
This post is part of GNOWFGLINS Tuesday Twister Carnival and A Moderate Life’s Two for Tuesdays Recipe Carnival. Please visit Wardeh’s and Alex’s sites and see the other great recipes listed there.