EU Proposal to Renew Glyphosate License Blocked!

Europe has become a battleground between environmental groups and big biotech companies. A French farmer won a case against Monsanto after suffering neurological problems due to inhaling their weedkiller, Lasso. By now, everyone has seen the study from the World Health Organization’s cancer agency calling glyphosate, the darling of Monsanto’s herbicides, probably carcinogenic. Instances like these and many others have left some European Nations wary of these chemicals, as evidence of their toxicity to humans is on the rise.

The Votes Are…Not In

And now we come to a crossroads. The European license for glyphosate is scheduled to expire on June 30. Previous meetings of nations of the European Union to renew the license for a 15-year span have ended in stalemates, as countries have refused to support that renewal in the face of growing scientific unrest and public opposition. The latest meeting took place Monday, with the executive body of the European Union, the European Commission (which is not affiliated with any specific country), proposing a 12- to 18-month extension for more scientific study. Malta was the only voice speaking against the extension, but the lack of votes from Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Portugal and Luxembourg kept the extension from being adopted.

The Results Are…Likely To Go One of Two Ways

So what happens now, with the glyphosate license expiring in less than a month? Option one would be an executive decision by the European Commission ignoring the lack of agreement from EU Nations and reauthorizing glyphosate. While possible, this scenario flies in the face of the Commission’s support of the democratic process that led to last year’s law allowing countries to make their own decisions regarding genetically modified crops. The leader of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has publicly proclaimed his unwillingness to act against the interests of the majority view. The proposal of an extension did receive support from many countries, though, and Monsanto could see losses of potentially up to $5 billion dollars, which could result in some serious corporate pressure on the Commission.

What’s behind door number two? The simple option: leave it be. If a new agreement is not in place by the 30th of June, the license  is expired and all glyphosate products need to be gone from European Union shelves in six months. Is this more likely to happen if there are only eight votes either blocking or missing in keeping glyphosate from the shiny new license it desires? It seems unlikely until you consider some of the countries that abstained: Germany, France, and Italy, aka, three of the most powerful countries in the EU. The more you look at it, the more prudent this option becomes, really. Glyphosate has been labeled as probably cancer-causing. A product with issues (dangerous malfunctions, allergens or food contamination) would be pulled the shelves immediately. Why is glyphosate any different?

The Whole World Should be Watching

Europe has been on the forefront of recent biotech regulations in agriculture, and the decision, in this case, will resonate throughout the world. Supporters of a renewed license have pointed to the fear and confusion this will cause with consumers, which consumers would be well within their rights to feel. A probable cancer-causing chemical that has previously been sprayed with wild abandon is pulled off of shelves until a scientific consensus can be reached. What exactly is there to fear again? The knowledge that safety takes a backseat to profits, perhaps.

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Following the Photo Trail: Truly Healthy Celebrities After 40

Let’s face it: the majority of celebrities have a leg up in the looks department. But being born beautiful doesn’t mean you stay that way. The damage the body accumulates over time from poor food choices and an excessive use of substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and/or drugs (both recreational and pharmaceutical) can only be disguised with special effects for so long.

Then there are those celebrities who seem to get better looking as they age, prompting countless people to ask, “How do they do it?” Some of Hollywood’s finest have realized that the only way to keep what your momma gave you is through regular exercise and, most importantly, an exemplary diet.

Meryl Streep

Meryl StreepInstantly recognizable, Meryl Streep has been appearing in plays, movies, and television since the 1970s. What’s not so well known is her advocacy for organic, local food. Meryl was the founder of a food co-op and CSA when she lived in Connecticut as well as Mothers and Others, a campaign calling for tougher pesticide residue standards. She is meticulous about reading labels and finding the food she eats from trusted sources. Though not a vegetarian, she makes tries to eat less meat and to find grass-fed, organic beef. Her formidable talent is the reason she’s a fixture in prestige pictures, but the fact that she has retained her looks with only a slight luminous softening can be attributed to the smart choices she makes in regards to the food she consumes. Maybe the ketogenic diet had something to do with it?

Lenny Kravitz

Oh, Lenny. A rock star, sex symbol, and renaissance man, he released his first album in 1989. The years since then are the only indication that Lenny is actually aging, as his face remains ever the same. But how? Working out is an important piece in every healthy lifestyle, but that alone doesn’t account for over 25 years of looking fantastic. His secret? Listening to his body.

A vegetarian for 15 years, he then transitioned eating grass-fed, organic meat after he felt his body needed it. Now he focuses on fish (especially as he lives in the Bahamas for much of the year) and vegetables, often from his own organic farm. To round that out, Lenny never goes anywhere without his juicer. He might enjoy a decadent, outrageous cheat every once in awhile, but he knows that staying and looking healthy is about focusing on quality, organic food, especially vegetables.

Jared Leto

Jared LetoActor Jared Leto is a well-known vegan (or “cheagan”) who’s transformed his body for various roles over the years, a practice that’s given him a unique perspective on how food affects the body. While his Oscar-winning role required him to whittle down to under 120 pounds, another of his jobs required him to gain 67 pounds, which he accomplished through binge-eating foods like giant pizzas. Years of eating well left his body unprepared to deal with the weight, and he experienced problems with his feet and was at one point even using a wheelchair. The experience left Jared more committed to a healthy, active lifestyle, and it’s the reason why the changes to his face between now and the mid-1990s have been so minimal.

Susan Sarandon

Susan SarandonWe’ve been seeing more of Susan Sarandon in the news lately, whether celebrating the 25th anniversary of her film Thelma and Louise or professing her unabashed love for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. A woman unafraid to speak her mind, she’s also a fantastic advertisement for the benefits of taking care of yourself. She’s credits her exemplary outsides to her insides. A vegetarian for a period of time, she now prefers to eat a diet of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables while limiting red meat, carbs, and refined grains. Susan found that avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol while focusing on eating well, exercising regularly, and practicing deep breathing and visualization has translated to her looking and feeling her best. Yes, the outside reflects the in. It’s no wonder she looks better than ever.

Lucy Liu

Lucy LiuDetermining Lucy Liu’s age through photos alone is impossible. While she takes advantage of moisturizers, oils, and plants like aloe vera to protect her skin, she also credits what she eats for the longevity of her looks. Drinking lots of water and eating lots fresh fruits and vegetables is the easiest way to take care of your skin. Gluten-free for a while, Lucy takes a common sense approach to her health, with occasional treats but a focus on eating fresh foods balanced with an exercise regimen and meditation. She makes smart choices when it comes to her health as well as her career. You never know where she’ll show up next…but she will look gorgeous.

Jennifer Lopez

She’s been a fly girl, a dancer, singer, and an actress (among other things), and she’s looked damn good the entire time. People who work with Jennifer Lopez, from directors to peers to trainers, all eventually mention one thing: this woman is disciplined. That same discipline is evident in her diet. She snacks on fruits and vegetables, focuses on eating lean meats and nutrient dense foods, and avoids processed foods, fueling her body with the best quality, organic food she can find. Jennifer has always been active, from sports in high school to her years as a dancer to her current commitment to working out. She pairs that activity with an eating regimen that includes salads, other veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. Her lifestyle has allowed her to stay fit and glowing since her first movie role in 1986. It’s easy for Jenny from the Block to remember where she came from when her face in the mirror hasn’t really changed.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda SwintonAn artsy, oddball chameleon capable of disappearing into a role, Tilda Swinton’s distinctive looks render her immediately recognizable no matter her hairstyle or age. She does things on her own terms, and she credits good genes, luck of the draw, and her lifestyle in the Scottish highlands. While the first two are definitely factors, her life in Scotland has her cooking vegetables she grows herself and eating eggs from her own chickens. She’s not forthcoming with the details of her diet, but then she wouldn’t be the mysterious Tilda we know and love if she revealed too many details. All we know is that she likes to keep it simple. It’s clear from looking at the numerous photos of her from her collaborations over the years, that her choices and easy-going lifestyle have left her radiant.

Angela Bassett

Angela BassettStella got her groove back 18 years ago, but it’s plain to see Angela Bassett never really lost hers. Since her career got going in the nineties, Angela has always maintained that diet is more important than exercise in keeping herself in top shape. Her diet is similar to the Paleo program, with organic lean protein and non-starchy vegetables. She also stays away from processed foods, grain, and sugar. That doesn’t mean she’s willing to sacrifice taste though. Angela tries to keep it interesting by choosing flavorful and passionate food. She especially emphasizes eating non-starchy veggies, and you can tell that she’s willing to put in the work to be as healthy and happy as she can be.

Jason Mraz

Jason MrazHe isn’t quite over 40, and he’s only been in the public eye for 15 years or so. But when it comes to eating well and making smart, healthy choices, Jason Mraz is doing some pretty cool stuff. He eats locally whenever possible, travels with his Vita-mix for green smoothies, uses soap and vinegar to manage pests on his avocado farm, and sells the fruits of his labor to Chipotle while donating leftover avocados to local food banks. Mostly vegan after supporting a bandmate with diabetes in trying a vegetarian and raw diet, he makes an exception for eggs from the chickens that provide the fertilizer for his farm. He’s also a big fan of yoga. Hippie much? Yup! Jason is the perfect example of someone who saw what a difference eating well and being healthy can do and took control of his food chain to ensure that he’s eating is the best quality. The proof is in the chocolate avocado pudding (grown on your own avocado farm, of course).

Who Else Is Out There?

We’re never going to know exactly what celebrities eat. Most of the interviews about diet, especially for actresses, talk about how they only eat this or that…but then they mention they still indulge in some particular treat once in awhile in a somewhat vague attempt at relatability. We’re definitely not getting the whole story. For every interview that claims he or she is eating salmon and quinoa salad, there are most likely a hundred different things happening healthwise behind the scenes.

Obviously, genetics play a role here. Some actors are so humble that’s all they will ever attribute their good looks too. But that humility minimizes the importance of  diet is and how the choices they make help maintain their appearance. We are biologically wired to find healthy people more attractive. Makeup and plastic surgery can only hide so many unhealthy choices. Good food means healthy skin, eyes, teeth, and nails, and it gives a person an indefinable aura.

These celebrities are by no means the only celebrities who choose to eat properly, but they are some of the rich and famous who’ve surpassed expectations through the years of being in the public eye. When you see someone on the screen who looks years younger than they actually are, there are probably some serious health stories behind it. Who’s your favorite?

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Is Diabetes Caused by Sugar or Bad Genetics?

To put it simplistically, sugar feeds the worst of our gut flora, including parasites, non-beneficial bacteria, and Candida. This opens the doors to all sorts of disease. People whose calorie intake is 25% sugar or more are three times more likely to die of heart disease. Fructose, one type of sugar we’ve recently started consuming in much larger quantities, even has the power to alter our genes and increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, ADHD, or other brain issues, though this author suspects that all food has the power to alter our genes one way or another, hence the importance of a healthy diet.

We tell kids that too much sugar isn’t good for them. We tell them this all of the time, and we heard it all the time, but that message often dies off once we reach adulthood. The rotten teeth, mood swings, and hyperactivity that we warn the little ones about are problems many adults deal with due to consuming too much sugar! Unless you’re overweight or developing diabetes, conventional medicine is content to pay lip service to the dangers of sugar.

Why Quality Matters

It’s difficult to find definitive information regarding sugar. Arguments over how bad sugar really is tend to end up with someone claiming, “Even fruit has sugar,” followed by “Everything must have sugar to survive,” followed by a general throwing up of the hands and a return to previous eating habits out of confusion and frustration.

Or was it just the justification we wanted?

If I’m going to eat sugar anyway, why not eat what I want?

But that’s a reductive and damaging argument that we know on some level is wrong. We ask children to eat an apple instead of drinking a soda. If health is the objective, it’s time we adults heed the same advice.

Fruit contains fructose, yes. But it also contains antioxidants,  vitamins, and the fiber needed to slow down the actual absorption of the fructose. Incidentally, whole raw foods generally have the nutrition that our beneficial flora prefer. Synthetic or refined forms of fructose don’t have any of these benefits, or any health benefits, as it’s derived from corn starch or sucrose (table sugar, basically) and devoid of any actual nutrients. Comparing the synthetic or refined fructose to the sugar that’s in an apple is like handing someone that apple and a piece of paper and claiming they’re the same thing since they both come from trees. Refined, processed sugar isn’t good for you, and not all sugars are equal.

Sugar Is All Around You

So, it seems easy to move forward here. No sugar in the morning cup of tea, lay off the desserts, and stop using… vegetable broth? Say no to granola?

Sugar is not just an after meal treat. Once you decide to limit your sugar intake, you will find that most of the food people regularly consume, processed foods, are products containing sugar to deliberately mask the taste of nutrient-void, bland, preservative-laden ingredients. People have become accustomed to sugar being slipped into everything. We know sugar is incredibly addictive.

The FDA claims to be trying to get labels changed in an effort to better indicate hidden sweeteners, but there are only two options right now. Learn your sugars (from glucose to stevia to xylitol to corn syrup), read labels, and cook more of your own food at home from scratch.

But…But, It’s Genetic!

While it’s absolutely true that some people are predisposed to certain conditions through their genes, science is learning that what you eat actually changes your genes. Fructose, according to a recently released UCLA study, is the difference between knowing your mother has diabetes and actually developing diabetes yourself. The majority of genes that can be altered by the consumption of too much fructose are associated with inflammation, cell communication, and metabolism regulation. It’s no surprise, then, that possible conditions from consuming enough fructose to alter the brain’s genes include Alzheimer’s, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, and depression, to name a few.

Nature has a way of balancing things though; the right foods can play a role in rebuilding you and making you stronger. People who eat the best diets deserve the best DNA, right? Be sure to check out Healthy Sugar Alternatives & More to get to know your sweeteners.

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The Weird Sustainable Foods We Could All Be Eating Soon

Sustainable is big buzzword with the brightest minds of today looking for ways to feed an ever growing population in the face of an increasingly unstable and degrading Earth. People ignoring the environmental factor of the sustainable equation claim that GMOs are the answer to feeding the world’s people, but if you believe where people live is as important as what they live on, there has to be another answer.

Those bright minds have to be good for something; they are presenting some unusual, innovative, thought-provoking solutions. There’s evidence that conventionally icky stuff like bugs, pond scum, and strange fish offer a new notion of edible while also opening up a potentially bountiful source of needed nutrients.

Edible Creepy Crawlers

The idea of eating bugs is not unusual. Bugs are popular street snacks in Asia, and bugs like crickets have long been an important protein source for farmers in Africa. In North America and Europe, the idea of eating bugs remains squirm-inducing. But can we see past the ick factor to the nutritional and sustainable possibilities?

Grasshoppers and crickets are a commonly eaten in many parts of the world thanks to their ability to live everywhere, their ease of capture, and their neutral taste. Mealworms are also very popular, and in some countries eating ants and cockroaches isn’t uncommoin. As the gateway bugs of choice in the U.S., crickets are showing up as protein powders, supplemental flours, and at an adventurous fast food chain that is introducing milkshakes with cricket powder. Crickets and grasshoppers are a great source of protein (including essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan that are hard to find in conventional protein sources) and are recognized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as a good source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. While chicken, pork, and beef might have more protein, they also require more space to grow and are responsible for egregious environmental degradation through increased methane gases, deforestation, and massive amounts of toxic animal waste.

In contrast, growing edible insects are far more efficient. To raise one kilogram of beef, you need eight kilograms of food, and you usually only eat about 40% of the cow. Crickets are 80% edible and only need 1.7 kilograms of feed to arrive at one kilogram of food. If you consider that someone somewhere is going to come up with the idea feeding bugs the 40% of food we waste in the U.S., it’s a sustainable slam dunk.

Strange Seafood

lionfish

Our oceans are in crisis mode as more and more species die off. Soon the yellowfin tuna and the king crab we’re accustomed to seeing on our plate at seafood restaurants will be gone due to overfishing, fluctuating water temperatures, and increasing pollution. We’ll have to learn to adapt… and eat the food that already have adapted.

While the fish populations we’ve become accustomed to eating are dwindling, other invasive yet edible creatures are thriving in spite of the environment changes. Asian shore crabs, Asian carp, blue catfish, and lionfish are all experiencing growth as they displace native species.

In an effort to focus on managing an unbalanced fish population, some restaurants are adding these invasive fish to their menu. Even grocery giant Whole Foods is getting in on the action, announcing plans to make lionfish available to their customers over the next six months. With its venomous spines, lionfish doesn’t look too appealing, though it is popular in other regions of the world like the Caribbean. But with female lionfish laying 30,000 eggs every four days and a population so voracious it’s eating itself, this fish is a prime example of a new, sustainable seafood.

Starting at the Bottom of the Food Chain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Algae is a huge group of organisms that, odds are, are already available at your nearest grocery store. Sheets of dried seaweed abound in the ethnic aisles of the grocery store and at sushi restaurants, kelp is aking off amongst the health enthusiasts, and nearly every green nutritional powder has spirulina and/or chlorella in it. The health benefits of those two particular algae are impressive. Not only do they detox heavy metals and toxins from the body, and they contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids,antioxidants, and all of the essential amino acids which makes them complete proteins.

Seaweed is also a fantastically sustainable food. It can grow at a rate of almost six inches a day, and it doesn’t require any other resources other than the ones readily available to it. It also leaves the environment cleaner than it was before the it grew. People who understand the benefits of crop rotation will also appreciate the idea of farming seaweed opposite of shellfish season, which pairs two of the only farmed products that leave their environment cleaner than they found it. With its rapid growth, abundant nutrients, and cleaning habits, seaweed is a uniquely sustainable food.

It Will Become The Norm

Bugs are gross. Most people would sooner smash them under their foot than put them in a skillet. The green sludge found in ponds or the weird spiny fish that looks like a zebra pincushion don’t seem any better. But in the next fifteen years, we’ll have an estimated 8.5 billion people living on a planet that virtually everyone agrees we’re in the process of destroying. The “weird” and the “gross” are just foods we’re not used to yet, and these foods can provide for so many while slowing our negative impact on the environment. It’s time to get creative and do what we can to present sustainable options for everyone that might be little out of the ordinary. Here’s a good start, check out Total Nutrition – Make your own Homemade Multivitamin and Mineral Formula and How To Grow Spirulina at Home.

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Trends Point to Declining U.S. GMO Sales

For the first time since their introduction in 1996, the number of acres with planted GMO crops and the value of GMO seeds has declined. Down to 444 million acres in 2015 from 448.5 million in 2014, the overall acreage declined by a rate of about 1%. That’s not a huge percentage change, but the reasons behind the decline bode well for the current push to label, minimize, and ideally eliminate genetically modified crops. It’s good news for those opposed to GMOs and here’s why.

There are three nations growing about 75% of GMOs. The U.S. grows the largest portion of GMOs in the world with over 175 million acres dedicated to modified corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, and other crops. But they’re also responsible for the biggest decline –  5.4 million acres.  In contrast, Argentina and Brazil, the other nations responsible for the bulk of GMOs, actually experienced a growth in the number of acres planted, more than five million acres between them.

For those looking to keep the U.S. decline going, the big question is why. Organizations monitoring these numbers cite a saturated market and a decrease in the value and price for commodity crops like corn and soybeans. While that’s a stock answer, digging a little deeper reveals a landscape changing for the better in the U.S. Vermont has passed a labeling law. Massive food companies like Campbell’s and General Mills have committed to labeling to their products in stores, and newly developed GM apples and potatoes have been unable to gain traction with large corporate customers like McDonald’s and Wendy’s. In addition, sales of processed foods are down overall, indicating a population that wants to be healthier.

For everyone who claims that labeling GMOs won’t be an issue for sales as consumers know they’re safe thanks to science (spoiler alert: no, not on your life), it doesn’t matter. Whether or not people purposefully reject GM foods, choosing fewer processed foods accomplishes the same thing as rejecting genetically modified crops, as an estimated 70% of processed foods contain GMOs.

When You Can No Longer Stuff 5 Pounds of Poop in a 10 Pound Bag

Another reason for the decline of GMO acreage? The lack of acreage left to expand to. The notion that acreage expansion is becoming less feasible for bio-tech crops due to them already being everywhere is a bittersweet one. No more GMOs? Great! No more room for anything? Alarming. There is only so much usable farmland over the world, and the nearly two decades of growth has taken much of that.

Unfortunately, that land can never be returned to its previous condition due in large part to wholesale pesticide use that has drastically reduced beneficial microbes in the soil and the degraded quality of topsoil. Still, there is a silver lining. More countries are banning or limiting the amount of GMOs grown within their borders. While it might still be too late, these measures can do something to preserve the resources we have left in the face of an increasingly uncertain future.

Keep the Momentum Going

Bio-tech companies are introducing more strains of GM plants as a way to diversify and expand their market, including new strains of cowpeas aimed at reducing hunger in Africa. But is this diversification a good thing? In reality, the decline in GMO acreage has more benefits than detriments, as the agricultural business itself is the one that needs to diversify (and not just offer a non-bruising apple). Supporting a system that spends a massive amount of money on commodity crops that produce little actual nutrition is causing damage that we’re not sure we can fix. There isn’t enough evidence to support the claim that GMOs can or will end world hunger, certainly not enough to counteract the environmental devastation and probable health risks.

The effects of saying no to GMO food are both charitable and selfish. Fewer GMOs means less processed food, which makes you feel better. Fewer GMOs also means room for  greater crop diversity, less power in the pockets of big agriculture, and fewer small farmers stuck in a cycle of paying for seeds prior to each planting and increasing their use of increasingly ineffective herbicides and pesticides. The win is there. Let’s keep spreading the love around.

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The Case for Carob – This Chocolate Alternative Has A Lot to Offer

Cacao growers are facing climate fluctuations along with a growing list of diseases and pests that attack their crops. While the Foundation for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy is on the case (breeding new varieties of cacao and looking for locations that will still be able to sustain cacao production, in say, twenty years), no one knows if they’ll be able to meet the world’s ever expanding demand. What’s going to happen when we run out of chocolate? Will we replace chocolate with carob?

Carob Is Sustainable

Humankind’s long, exciting history with chocolate makes carob seem like the quiet, reliable but less dangerous, less sexy option. It is, but it is also a sustainable one.

Carob also beats chocolate on human rights.

Carob is a hardy legume originating in the Mediterranean that can stand temperatures as low as 20°F. Unlike chocolate, carob doesn’t contain caffeine or theobromine. There are few pests that affect it, so it is not likely to be treated with pesticides. Though carob does need to be dried, unlike chocolate, it doesn’t need to be fermented, which further limits its contact with animals and insects.

Perhaps the most important feature of the carob plant is its drought-resistance. Cacao is a water-hungry plant that needs nearly eighty inches of rainfall a year. Regions close to the equator where cacao grows are experiencing drier conditions as climate change evolves, making cacao a less sustainable crop as water resources decline. In contrast, carob requires roughly 20 inches of rain a year, and that’s only to produce fruit. A mature tree can survive drought conditions for years. Multiple signs are pointing to water being the most precious resource in the near future. Shifting our dependence to crops that are less water-intensive is critical.

Carab farm

It Doesn’t Have All of Those Pesky Human Rights Issues

Carob also beats chocolate on human rights. Recent investigations into chocolate production on the Ivory Coast found evidence of continued human rights abuse with 12,000 children smuggled in and made victims of modern slavery. The average carob product is much less labor intensive and more frequently farmed in countries with better-regulated labor laws. It is always more likely to be fair-trade.

Nutrition

Sugar is energy, and we’re biologically wired to want it. But all forms of sugar are not equal, and too much of it and many of the modern forms of it combine to feed Candida and cause other damage. Carob pulp is about 50 percent sugars and while gorging yourself on it isn’t recommended, the naturally occurring sugars benefit greatly from carob’s fiber content, which slows down the absorption of said sugars. This sugar content also has the side benefit of lowering the amount of added sugar needed to make carob palatable.

Carob contains a rich array of nutrients. Like chocolate, carob has significant antioxidant activity, but carob has three times more calcium. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals like iron and manganese. It also serves as a protein source.

In natural medicine, carob’s levels of pectin and tannin help stop serious cases of diarrhea. Its antioxidant profile has also been effective in helping lower cholesterol, and some studies suggest carob is capable of attacking cervical cancer cells.

carob pods seeds and chips

So Why We Aren’t Clamoring for Carob?

Short Answer? It’s not chocolate.

Carob’s natural sweetness actually plays against it in the taste category, as the bitterness found in chocolate gives it a stronger and more varied flavor profile. Chocolate also contains more fat, another food stuff we find hard to resist.

While linking carob with chocolate does garner some positive press, it also creates carob’s biggest obstacle. Carob and chocolate are most often a sweet treat, they are combined with like ingredients, they are usually the same color, and they do have a similar taste.  However, anyone biting into carob expecting it to taste just like chocolate will be disappointed and forever think of it as an inadequate substitute. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Reframe the Situation

Carob CoconutSo, it’s not chocolate. If you’re able to separate carob from chocolate, carob can be a satisfying treat. It’s great in homemade energy bites, desserts, and even smoothies. Keep an open mind and try it. You just might have a new favorite sweet snack. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

Carob Coconut Rough Slice

Makes 16-20 single-serve squares

This recipe, Carob Coconut Rough Slice, from Be Good Organics, is used with permission. All of the items listed for the recipe can be purchased from their site.  Always use certified organic ingredients whenever possible.

Base Ingredients

  • 1c almonds (soaked 8 hrs or overnight, rinsed and well drained)
  • 1/2c raw carob powder
  • 1c dates (soaked for a few hours then drained – save the water to use as sweetener in your hot drinks or in a smoothie)
  • 2c desiccated coconut
  • 3/4c virgin coconut oil, melted but cool
  • pinch organic sea salt

Chewy Topping

  • 1/2c cashews
  • 1/3c raw carob powder
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4c virgin coconut oil, melted but cool
  • c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon

Instructions

  1. Add almonds to a high-speed food processor or blender, and blend until fine.
  2. Add the carob powder and salt and blend again.
  3. Now add the dates one by one while the machine is running (through the hole in the top), until fully combined.
  4. Remove from the processor into a bowl, then mix in the coconut.
  5. Finally mix in the coconut oil until well combined.
  6. Pour into a glass or metal tin lined with a square of baking paper and press down until really firmly packed – then place in the freezer to set.
  7. Now for the topping, add the cashews to your food processor and blend until they become a fine powder. Add the carob powder until mixed, then one by one while the motor is running add your medjool dates.
  8. Make sure your second measure of coconut oil is melted but well cooled (not warm, or it will separate). Add to the processor until the mixture becomes one big gooey ball.
  9. Take the base out of the freezer, press the topping down on top of the base and smooth over. Place back in the freezer for about an hour until set, then remove, slice, and store in the freezer or fridge.

This will last a couple of weeks in the fridge. If you want it to last longer (or you have limited self-control), it will also keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Raw Vegan Carob Brownie

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The FDA Announces They Will Now Test For Glyphosates

Glyphosate, the extra secret ingredient in the majority of our food supply, will now have a harder time going incognito. After the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a criticism of the FDA and the USDA’s current herbicide monitoring practices, the FDA, the highest food safety administration in the land, announced they have finally developed a “streamlined method” designed for testing foods like corn and soy for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup.

Roundup use has been on the rise since its introduction in 1974, and the amount of glyphosate residue considered “safe” has ballooned by a factor of 17. The EPA allows fifty times more glyphosate to be sprayed on corn now than they allowed in 1995. Continued claims that Roundup is safe, though it was recently labeled a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and claims that residue levels are of no concern, though the FDA wasn’t even testing glyphosate residue levels on crops, has further tarnished the reputations of the EPA, the USDA, and the FDA. 

Reasons or Excuses?

It’s kind of crazy that the FDA, the organization tasked with monitoring herbicides, has not been testing for the world’s most used herbicide. It’s like getting an STD test at a clinic and not testing for syphilis. The FDA cites the cost of testing as the reason for excluding glyphosate from their testing. Adding glyphosate testing to six of the FDA’s facilities has an estimated cost of 5 million. Monsanto makes 5 billion dollars a year in revenue from glyphosate while also supplying the FDA with some of the highest ranking individuals working there. Is it too far of a stretch to wonder if neglecting to test for Roundup residue was really an issue of cost?  Or was it an excuse to allow one of the largest corporations to keep selling massive amounts of a substance increasingly recognized as detrimental to human health?

Living in the Now

The study by the WHO that identified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” has been a game changer. It’s possible we wouldn’t know about the lack of reliable glyphosate testing without that study, as the GAO report criticizing the FDA’s lax practices was actually released in 2014. While that timeline definitely fits, there are also other factors prompting this announcement from the FDA.

Independent testing companies like Abraxis and MIcrobe have seen an uptick in requests for glyphosate testing after the WHO study was published. Small companies, advocate groups, and doctors are among the customers asking for this information more than ever before. Test requests at some labs have increased from a few a year to a few a week, indicating that food transparency is a rising interest. Test results showed glyphosate residues in a variety of products from honey to soy sauce to infant formula.

Keep the Ball Rolling

Here’s the good news: public pressure can produce results. We still don’t know the extent to which herbicides like glyphosate can affect our health,  but we’ll never know without proper study of all available information. The push for food transparency is on its way to making a big difference in our health and our quality of life.

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