You Are What You Eat

Last Updated on Monday, 17 December 2012 05:27 Written by Flax Monday, 17 December 2012 05:02

Judaism, perhaps more than any other religion, upholds the concept of “you are what you eat”.  Judaic law deals with even the most minute aspects of food production.  From sowing to reaping, from the egg in a nest, to ritual slaughter, these laws are all inclusive and meant to maintain the purity and sanctity of what we may eat.    While these ancient laws are maintained to the letter,  (sometimes even to the extreme) I question if the spirit of the law is still maintained.  Many of us are aware of  the revolting treatment of animals on the farms (ie. eggs laid by chickens that are not allowed to move for two years) and their inhumane treatment at the slaughter-house, (demonstrated by the recent instigation of the Tenuva, Adom-Adom, slaughter-house in Beit Shean), what many of us fail to consider is what is being done to our crops.

Insecticides and pesticides have long been considered to be necessary evils, these toxins are sprayed on our crops in order to increase production and lower costs. As the industrial revolution required the migration of workers to the city, small farmers sold their land to large corporations and we saw the development of the “mega-farm” or agribusiness.  These mega-farms focused on single crops, which caused disharmony to the ecosystem.  Agrochemical companies developed toxic sprays to manage the disproportionate number of pests and insects, something that had been unnecessary on the smaller multi-crop farm. Unfortunately for us, these toxic sprays were not enough for the chemical companies, beginning in 1994, a whole new realm of poison was introduced into our foods with the development of the genetically modified organism (GMO).  Foods that had once only been sprayed with poisons were now being genetically engineered and their DNA restructured to contain the poison within the plant itself!   Essentially, poisons which were external and could be removed with a good rinse were now permanent and the consumer was left with no choice.  Corn, soy, and canola, three of the most common crops, found in basically every processed food,  are some of the most common of the genetically altered foods that you will find.  These products exist not only in their own, easily recognizable form,  but are also being used in almost every processed product that you purchase.  This might be as a recognizable ingredient, ie. corn syrup, or in a less recognizable derivative, such as lecithin.  Additionally, cattle, both for the meat and dairy industry, as well as chickens are all being fed GMO crops.   While the FDA does not require the labeling of GMO based products, I challenge each and every one of you to find a solitary non-organic food item in your home that does not contain derivatives of soy, corn, or canola, and hence some form of GMO.

Based on the premise “you are what you eat”, then it is easy to understand the static which shows that raising toxicity levels in humans, both physically and mentally.  Chronic diseases which can be understood as a manifestation of toxins in the body are on the rise.   According to the WHO  (World Health Organization), there is a 17% increase in chronic disease over the past decade alone.  The rise is psychological illness is also astronomical.  One in five Americans is now categorized as suffering from some form of mental illness, and the WHO  estimates that by the year 2020, mental illness will be the second leading cause of death and disability.

One might correctly ask, “What does the FDA have to say about all this?”  Well, the FDA is quite silent on the matter, and one wonders if this might in any way be based on the fact that the top positions in the FDA are held by former executives of Monsanto (the largest of the GMO companies).  The FDA has even remained silent after the September release of data which gives alarming evidence of GMO-induced lethal health complications in rats.  The FDA not only chooses to ignore these studies, it has also chosen to ignore a campaign titled “Just Label It” with over 1,000,000 signatures which asks for GMO products to be labeled.  As of now, the only way to be sure that your food items are GMO-free is by buying produce that is labeled organic.  By law, organic products must retain the DNA provided by G-d and no other.

The rise mental illness and the violence in modern society is horrible. The slaughter of the innocent children at Sandy Hook elementary school was shocking and one in a too long series of school killings, starting with the Pearl, Mississippi slaughter in 1997.  While there are many voices out there screaming for better gun control laws, I see this the guns reflecting a symptom of the problem rather than the cause. To say that the killings happened because of genetically modified foods would be simplistic and offensive.  To say however, that what we eat influences our state of mind and our mental health would be true.

The correlation between the rise of disease, both physical and mental, since the introduction of GMO’s has been extensively documented.  While of course there are many causes behind any disease, I tend to analyze things from the perspective that I know best.  Food.  The rise in recent years of diseases, such as cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, ADD, ADHD, aspergers, and autism, just to name a few, needs to be addressed from a wider perspective. The de-naturing of foods needs to be recognized as what it is, a poisoning of the body and mind

It is our basic right to know what is in the foods that we eat.  It is time that the government recognizes our rights to know the origin of our foods.  While my signature might not influence the decisions of the FDA, consumer consumption can certainly make a difference.  Organic items, by law can not be GMO.  Make a decision to trust in  G-d, nature, and your own good health by purchasing clearly labeled organic products.

Here’s an easy breakfast idea to begin your day GMO free.

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic rice cakes
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Atlantic grey sea salt

Puree the avocado, mix in the juice from the lemon and flavor with salt.  Spread on the organic rice cakes.

Enjoy!

Learn More

Caviar d’Aubergines

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 03:13 Written by Flax Wednesday, 18 January 2012 01:28

Caviar d’Aubergines, or in simple English, Grilled Eggplant, is a rather uncomplicated and inexpensive dish.  None- the-less, it has received this rather bombastic title as a result of its delicate flavor and its elegant appearance.  When properly prepared, the white seeds glow with a luminescence that is reminiscent of caviar, and the smoky flavor brings to mind a variety of rather pricey delicacies.

The eggplant belong to a very special group of vegetables called the nightshades.  Nightshades vegetables belong to  a group of plants that flower at night.  Nightshade plants are primarily toxic, the exceptions being the potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper (other than the black pepper).  The nightshades as a group, especially the potato and the tomato,  are craved by Western society.  Perhaps the reason why the fast paced Westerner enjoys these foods so much is that they induce a feeling or relaxation and expansion (think of the term, “couch potato”, eating potatoes, perhaps even one coated in tomatoes,  makes you want to sit on the couch and relax).  Additionally, nightshade vegetables are also useful in providing a balance for a meat based diet as they help to clear the stagnancy of eating excess animal products.   While it is quite enjoyable to feel relaxed and expansive, this action can exacerbate certain health conditions.   It is recommended to avoid nightshade vegetables in instances of swelling or pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nerves.  Such conditions as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, neuritis, and sciatica are negatively affected by nightshades.  People who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis would also benefit from abstaining from nightshades.

To reflect upon their good nature, the nightshades as a group, and the eggplant specifically, possess many healing powers as well.  The eggplant is beneficial in clearing stagnant blood and it has a homostatic action which helps to reduce bleeding.  A pack of raw eggplant is useful in case of a scorpion bite, and grilled eggplant (see the recipe below) has the miraculous ability to heal bleeding hemorrhoids.  A word of caution however, pregnant women are advised not to over indulge in eggplant as they can cause miscarriage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 firm eggplant
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt

Use a high flame to grill the eggplant. The grilling can be done on an outdoor grill, a stove top, or in an oven.  If it is done on an open flame, the smoke will enhance the flavor of the eggplant.  As the skin of the eggplant blackens and cracks open, turn the eggplant so as to grill it on all sides.  To know when the eggplant is ready push down to feel if it is fully soft inside.

Remove from the flame, cut down the center and scoop out the insides.  Place the grilled eggplant meat into a bowl and immediately pour on the lemon juice.   Add the pressed garlic and salt.

Alternatives:  For a delicious creamy spread, add three tablespoons of tehina.

Serve as a first course, accompanied by bread.  Kept refrigerated this salad can be kept for up to a week.

Note:  To retain the white color of the eggplant, the lemon juice needs to be applied while the eggplant is still hot, freshly removed from the flame.

Learn More

Hints for an Easier Fast

Last Updated on Monday, 3 October 2011 01:33 Written by Flax Monday, 3 October 2011 01:33

Yom Kippur is approaching and we are preparing for this wonderous day through a process of spiritual awareness and cleansing.   On Yom Kippur itself our cleansing of the spirit extends even to the physical level, where we fast and deny ourselves the most mundane and basic needs of our material existense.   Not-withstanding our spiritual needs, I offer a few tips to prepare for Yom Kippur on a purely physical level:

  • Drink at least two liters (eight cups) of water on the days leading up to the fast.  Hunger is often confused with thirst and it is easy to dehydrate on a fast.  Making sure that we drink enough on the days before the fast can help minimize both our hunger and our thirst on the actual fast day. 
  • Eat whole grains before the fast. Whole grains provide us with more energy over longer periods of time.
  • Avoid sugar and fruits.  Sugar highs and lows can cause headaches and the body also requires extra fluid to remove the sugar from the system.
  • Eat a lot of vegetables.  Vegetables are a great source of both energy and fluid. 

Fasting is a way of cleansing, both physically and spiritually.  While fasting, we rise above the physical needs of this world and we are able to connect to G-d on a more spiritual level.  Our bodies are given a much deserved rest, and like our souls, they devote themselves to releasing stored toxins.  The purpose of the fast is renewal, where we start of the new year with a clean slate, or old misdeeds having been forgiven.  As with our souls that have been cleansed to a point where small transgressions cause us regret, likewise, eating badly or overeating after a fast can make us sick.

The best way to break a fast is to slowly rehydrate the body while allowing the digestive channels to open.  One of the best ways to do this is with a hot drink that requires small sips.  Dandelion tea or chamomile tea, (sweetened with stevia or raw honey) is a great way to help cleanse the body of stored toxins. 

While bagels, lox, and cream cheese are pretty much standard after the fast, try instead to open up  the meal with a light vegetable soup.  A great soup to eat after fasting is miso soup.  This is not only because Chinese tradition holds that miso promotes long life and good health, but also because miso is a live food that contains lactobacillus, (the same as in yogurt) which helps in the digestion and assimilation of food.  Another bonus to eating miso soup after the fast is that on the purely practical level, it is quick.  Prepare the vegetables before the fast and then just add the boiling water and miso after the fast is over.  The soup requires only two minutes of cooking time so it will be ready to serve by the time the men come home from shul.

Note:  The soup calls for kombu.  Kombu is a seaweed, that like all seaweeds, is high in vitamins and minerals.   Kombu is not an essential ingredient and the soup is tasty (some might say even more so) without it.  Look for miso and kombube either in health food stores or in the health food sections of your local market.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 small piece of kombu (optional)
  • 4 cups water or dashi (Japanese soup stock)
  • 2-3 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 scallions, sliced on angle, for garnish
  • soy sauce, to taste

Saute the vegetable, add the water/stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for two minutes.  Remove from the flame, cream the miso in a little bit of the broth and return to the soup.  Use the soy sauce to adjust the flavor, garnish with scallions and serve. 

Serves 4-6

Learn More
Copyright © 2009 Afterburner - Free GPL Template. All Rights Reserved.
WordPress is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.