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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Recipe for the Morning After

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 10:28 Written by Flax Wednesday, 7 March 2012 10:28

Kongnamulguk, or sprout soup as we say in English, is one of Korea’s national dishes.  It is a  a very healthy and nutritious soup that is really more of a meal than a first course.  Besides being a great cure for a cold, this soup is touted for it’s hangover curing abilities.  Sprouts, the main ingredient in this soup, contain aspartic acid, shown to be useful in curing a hangover.

This dish is very simple, it takes about five minutes of preparation time and another thirty minutes of cooking time.  The soup is served  accompanied by brown rice and kimchee (spicy Korean pickles).  If  you are not a food perfectionist, you can replace the kimchee with sauerkraut or any pickled vegetables.  Just spice up whatever pickles you already have in the house by adding some chilli peppers and ginger and call it kimchee.

Ingredients:

  • sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 package mung bean sprouts
  • 1 large piece of kombu (seaweed)
  • 3 scallions, sliced on an angle into small pieces
  • soy sauce
  • hot chilli flakes
  • 11/2 cups cooked brown rice

Saute the garlic, onion, and chilli pepper in the sesame oil.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for five minutes.  Add the sprouts and simmer for fifteen minutes more.  Add the scallions and remove from the flame.

Place the rice, soy sauce, kimchee (pickles) and chilli pepper on the table.  Ladle the soup into bowls and add the remaining ingredients at the table.

Serves 6.

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Crockpot Minestrone

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44 Written by Flax Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44

I really do love using my crockpot in the winter.  Not only do I come home to a warm nourishing meal, I also come home to a house that smells great.  Crockpot cooking is also a much safer way to cook large beans as you don’t have to leave the stove on for long periods of time.  (Maybe it’s my own anxiety, but I’m always afraid that I will forget that the stove is on and accidentally burn down the house.)  Smaller beans, such as the adzuki beans and the mung bean are wonderful summer beans as they require under an hour cooking time.  Larger beans such as the kidney  bean, garbanzo bean,  and of course the fava bean require much longer cooking times and are much more appropriate for the winter where it is appropriate to keep a dish simmering for even an entire day.

Crockpot cooking also happens to provide an excellent solution for “working mom’s” who are sometimes the last ones to walk through the door.  Either prepare the food in the morning before leaving, or if your morning are just too busy, prepare all of the ingredients the night before and then just plug-in the crockpot the following morning.  It’s like magic!  Your family has a  healthy nourishing meal without your even being home!

The recipe below is for minestrone.  Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup which is essentially a whole meal.  The soup has red kidney beans which are a wonderful winter food as they nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.  Please note how the recipe includes, white, orange, and  green vegetables.  When all  three colors of  vegetables are in a dish, you can be sure that the dishl will be balanced, both with regard to nutrition, as well as with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), diced
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/8 cup brown rice
  • turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

To prepare the soup, place all of the soup ingredients, other than the salt, in a crockpot.  Set the crockpot to  low and allow to cook for 8-12 hours.

Prepare the pesto by pureeing all of the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a smooth paste .  Set aside.

Add the salt and the pesto to the soup a few minutes before serving.

Serve hot.  Serves 6-8.

Note:  When beans are cooked with salt the skin doesn’t soften and they remain hard.  It is preferable to add the salt only after they are at least slightly cooked.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and teaches Healthy Cooking Classes.

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