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!

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Stuffed Trout with Pomegranate Seeds for Rosh Hashanah

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 01:09 Written by Flax Monday, 5 September 2011 11:20

I love the holidays.  Yes, they are a tremendous amount of work, but they are also a wonderful time to refresh, to count our blessings, and to connect to G-d, ourselves, and to our families.  The special traditions and foods associated with the holidays always serve to remind me of my childhood and connect me to my roots.  Yet, I am no longer a child and I no longer live in the same way that I did as a child.  I live in a different country, far from where I grew up, my husband’s traditions are different from those of my father, and my children are sabras–along with everything that entails.  Like all families do, we have blended and merged and now we have new traditions that sit alongside the familiar old ones.  This is a dish which has become a tradition in our family and a way of combining both the old and the new.  Here I retain the idea of serving a stuffed fish (gefilte fish), but I no longer stuff  carp with carp but rather trout with pomegranates.  The flavor of this dish is Oriental. The spice that I use in this recipe is cardamom, the same spice commonly used in Turkish coffee and one which I naturally associate with Israel.  Thus this recipe symbolizes to me the fusion of the old and the new, where I came from as well as where I am now.  I am using the same symbols as my parents (ad meah ve’esrim) use,  but in a completely different fashion.

This dish uses two of the Rosh Hashanah symbols, the pomegranate and the fish.  The fish is a symbol of luck as well as of fertility. We serve a fish head  on Rosh Hashanah and ask to be larosh veloh lazanav (to be the head and not the tail).  Pomegranates are  eaten with the blessing sheneheye melaim mitzvot karimon (that our good deeds should be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate).  Another ingredient in this recipe is pine nuts.  Some Ashkenazic Jews don’t eat any nuts on Rosh Hashanah because the hebrew numeric value for nut (egoz) is the same as the numeric value of  misdeed (chet).  Others hold that the prohibition against nuts applies only to walnuts.  If your tradition excludes all nuts then pumpkin seeds are a good alternative.

As a nutritional counselor as well as cooking instructor I always look at the health benefits of a dish as well as at the flavor. The nature of a holiday is one of excess.  Holidays are a time when we strive to reach beyond the ordinary, to set ourselves new goals, and to appreciate all that is special and holy in our lives.  While I am a big believer in reducing the amount of animal products that we eat, I think that holidays are the time to eat it.   The richness of the animal products corresponds to the general holiday atmosphere and emphasizes our celebration.  When asked to choose between animal products, fish is of course the healthiest.  Fish is the animal product that is lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol and also a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Pomegranates are a great health choice as well. They are high in the Vitamins A, C, and E and contain folic acid, niacin and potassium.  They are rich in anti-oxidants, beneficial in healing breast and prostate cancer, help prevent hardening of the arteries and help to lower blood pressure.  They are used in remedies for bladder disturbances and are also used to strengthen gums as well as soothe ulcers of the mouth and throat.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 2 fresh trout
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Scoop out the seeds of the pomegranate and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the onions with the salt, pepper, and cardamom.
  4. Clean the fish and set on a lightly oiled ovenproof dish.
  5. Mix the fried onions with the remaining ingredients and use it to stuff the fish.  If necessary, use a toothpick to keep the trout closed.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Serve on bed of lettuce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Note:  To make for easier eating, ask your fish-seller if he will fillet the fish for you without removing the head.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She is also a cooking instructor and a nutritional counselor.

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Nutrition Class #6

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 June 2011 12:15 Written by Flax Thursday, 30 June 2011 12:06

Lungs

Lungs correspond to:

  • metal
  • white
  • bitter flavor

Food enters the stomach descends to the kidneys and back up to the spleen and the lungs where it forms protective Qi.

The health of lung Qi is seen in the skin, hair and general health.

Foods that disperse damp lung qi include:

  • flax seed (soaked in water or ground)
  • flax oil
  • lemon
  • radish
  • onion family
  • white vegetables
  • bitter flavor
  • pungent flavor

Foods that cool the lungs (red face, loud voice) include:

  • watercress
  • cantaloupe
  • apple
  • peach
  • pear
  • seaweeds
  • mushroom
  • radish
  • carrot
  • kuzu
  • cabbage
  • bokchoy
  • cauliflower
  • rice congee

Deficient lung qi (fatigue, weak voice, coughing, shortness of breath)

  • rice
  • oats
  • carrots
  • sweet potato
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • rice syrup
  • barley malt
  • spikenard and licorice root
  • seaweed and micro-algae
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