Is Your Farmer’s Market All Organic?

I have been traveling a great deal to Pasadena, California to take care of my mother this year.  She has been battling cancer which I am glad to report seems to be in remission!

 

While I have been there I discovered there was a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays near where she lived.  I was so delighted to find it since I am totally addicted to our Boulder Farmer’s Market and rarely miss a Saturday during season.  I did notice when I went to the one in Pasadena that they had a big sign saying the produce was local but didn’t mention organic.  Consequently I made note of which stands specifically mentioned organic or ‘not sprayed’ as in the case of one of the strawberry stands and purchased from them.  It made me appreciate the Boulder market even more as I assumed it was totally organic. 

This week my friend Rowan Rozanski from Jay Hill Farm, where I buy all my greens every week, sent out an email on the entire organic subject.  I was sad to learn that not all is as seems, even in our Boulder Farmer’s Market.  I have asked her to share the following with you so as to better educate you about your local farmer’s market.  I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!

From Rowan…

This last bit is… well… a rant.  Feel free to skip it, but I think this is something that applies to anyone who tries to buy local and organic.  🙂   

One of our long term customers, Christine, recently asked:  

“On a completely different note, I read an article this morning about California Farmers’ Markets where the vendors are supposed to be growing their produce organically— but do not.  There’s simply not enough oversight to ensure they are meeting organic standards.  How does the Boulder Farmer’s Market ensure that all vendors are selling organic produce?”

She was referring to this article, which ran in the Huffington Post last week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/california-organic-food-s_n_640654.html

She is not the first person to ask this question.  While the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, as my father and other early board members envisioned it, was to be an organic and local vendor’s dream, much of the dream has disappeared for the sake of plentiful vegetables and fruit.  While still local, there’s very little focus on Certified Organic growers.  Many of the new vendors over the last few years have in fact been the antithesis of what my family and I stand for.  

Please understand, this is not a rant about the market, it’s a problem of perception throughout many communities in America.  Farm stands around the country have been known to prevaricate as well.  “Family”, “Local”, “Home Grown” are all phrases that mean absolutely nothing. It is ILLEGAL to claim your produce is organic unless you are certified by the USDA and the state of Colorado or unless your yearly farm income is less than $5,000 a year. 

Many of the farms at BCFM are NOT organic.  ASK! When you hear a sentence like “we don’t spray”, that means absolutely nothing.  You don’t have to spray nitrogen, miracle grow, or any other substance to add it to the soil, ground water and produce.  Once of my biggest gripes with the market was that you can only use “Organic” on your sign if you’re certified, but nothing says you have to say “not organic”  Most people simply assume it’s all good, and go for the lower priced items that are not organic.  This is unfair and harmful to those of us who are certified. Yes, our prices are higher, but there’s a reason for that! 

The organic certification process is over 60 pages of documentation, almost $1000 a year, and requires a 3-5 hour inspection by a certifier once a year.  We buy organic seed (NEVER treated) when available at a high (sometimes more than double) premium, and make sure our compost and nutrients meet federal standards.  It’s a grueling, expensive process that is necessary, and worthwhile, for your peace of mind and ours.  *sigh* 

If you would like to see what farms in Colorado ARE certified, you can check at:

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1216022437979 (click on certified organic producers). 

Please understand that this rant is not to inveigle you into buying more produce from Jay Hill Farm.  Buy wherever you want! It’s so that folks understand the difficulties faced by those of us who give our word to you and your families that we are doing our best to grow locally, sustainably, and with as much care for the earth and our fellow man as we can. 

Thanks for your understanding and time! 

Cheers, 

Rowan

Agave Nectar Update

Agave Nectar

By Dan Butterfield

I received some interesting feedback from my article Agave-Health Food Fraud.  Some people were defensive or angry, others concerned or happy to be informed.  I stated that agave syrup was a chemically processed starch similar to the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made.  A number of people reported that Madhava’s agave syrup was not chemically processed.  Perhaps not.  The real issue is fructose, and what happens when it enters the body.  There continues to be more studies coming out implicating HFCS in heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and obesity. 

A recent human study compared two groups of people, one consuming glucose, the other fructose.  While both groups gained 3 pounds of weight, the fructose group also had elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and their extra weight was more abdominal fat than the glucose group.

When glucose is absorbed, it goes into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to bring glucose to the cells for energy.  Excess glucose is converted to fat.  When fructose is absorbed, it goes directly to the liver and does not raise blood sugar levels.  It is touted as a low glycemic sweetener for this reason.

In the liver, fructose is converted to triglycerides for storage as fat through a process called glycosolation.  This causes glycation, or sugar damage to the liver and other tissues.  Glycation and oxidation are the two main ways that our bodies age.

Fructose is processed in the liver similar to the way alcohol is processed, creating some of the same side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the beer belly and can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose also raises uric acid levels, a cause of gout and chronic inflammation.  It also leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, and elevated triglycerides.  It is similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.  This creates insulin resistance first in the liver, then throughout the body.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer.

While there are more and more studies on the negative effects of HFCS, there are no studies that I know of on agave syrup.  However, we do know the potential damage that fructose can cause.  HFCS is 45-55% fructose.  Agave syrup is 56-97% fructose, having almost twice the fructose as HFCS.

Nature may have made fructose fattening, rather than energy producing for good reason.  In temperate climates, almost all the fructose in the form of fruits ripen toward the end of the summer and fall, so that mammals that hibernate and humans and mammals that don’t, can increase their fat reserves to survive the winter.

Bottom Line: 

          –  Agave syrup, or nectar, is not a health food.

          –  It is not a safe sweetener.

          –  In small amounts occasionally, not daily, will likely do little harm.

          –  Companies that market agave pointedly note that

             overconsumption of any sugar is unhealthy.  So while they lay the

             blame on consumers for overconsumption of fructose, they

             continue to push agave syrup as safe.  Meanwhile,

             large amounts of agave are included in soft drinks, ice creams

             and other food products, and consumers are continually

             marketed that agave syrup is low glycemic, “gentle” or safe.

Vitamin D – Myth or Miracle?

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of publicity for several months now because of the significant amount of health benefits being associated with adequate levels.  What do you know about Vitamin D?  Are you getting adequate amounts? 

Listen to this podcast by Dan Butterfield.  He will cover what Vitamin D really is, the latest research on health findings, how to determine sufficient levels and much more!

In his podcast he mentions the following for your records:

The Vitamin D Council

Life Extension Foundation for testing.  Either call 800) 208-3444 or visit their website!

Read more about Dan Butterfield on Our Associates page or visit him at Butterfield Wellness.

Flu Season? Shots? Learn the Power of Vitamin D!

This article comes to you from Dan Butterfield of Butterfield Wellness. 

As we move into another flu season the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is strongly urging Americans to get flu shots.

There are a number of reasons to consider not getting a flu shot.

The November 2009 issue of Atlantic has a very good article titled “Does the Vaccine Matter?”  The article looks at all the flu vaccine studies and concludes that there is little, if any benefit from flu shots.

A study published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children against the flu had no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.  The researchers concluded that “significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for any season, age or setting examined.” 

Additionally a group health study found that flu shots do not protect elderly people against developing pneumonia – the primary cause of death resulting as a complication of the flu.  Flu shots among the elderly increased from 15% in 1980 to 65% now, but there is no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia.

There is some evidence that flu shots contribute to Alzheimer’s, most likely from combining mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde which are in flu shots.  Mercury in vaccines is a possible contributor or cause of autism for the same reasons.  There is up to 25 micrograms of mercury in a flu shot, making them unsafe for anyone under 550 pounds. 

Increased marketing of flu shots by the CDC and most physicians ignores the fact that a systematic review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 23 months to 6 years found flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo.

There is increasing evidence that influenza is a vitamin D deficiency.  It occurs as our vitamin D levels plunge as we go into winter.  Vitamin D releases our own antibiotics known as antimicrobial peptides.  A person with low vitamin D levels is more vulnerable to colds, influenza and other respiratory infections.

Vitamin D and Children

Dosing – according to Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council breast fed infants should receive l,000 IU’s daily, bottle-fed infants 600 IU’s as a starting point.  For older children and adults, 1,000 IU’s per 25 lbs of body weight each day appears to be a maintenance dose.  Individual requirements vary widely, so blood testing for Vitamin D levels is helpful in appropriate dosing.  Many doctors have not yet been informed of proper blood levels, usually measured in nanograms per milliliter of blood, or ng/ml.  The conventional notion is that anything under 30 ng/ml is a deficiency and anything over that is sufficiency.  However, as Dr. Cannell points out, we do not begin to receive cancer protection from vitamin D until 50 ng/ml and 70 to 90 ng/ml is an optimal level.  Toxicity has not been observed at levels under 200 ng/ml.

85%  of the population is Vitamin D deficient

99%  of African Americans are Vitamin D deficient

98%  of what we know about Vitamin D we’ve learned in the last 10 years.

We have 30,000 genes, Vitamin D regulates 2,000 of those genes.  Vitamin D has many uses in the body, we are still learning more.  It is vitally important for all of our organs and systems.

Dr. William Grant Ph.D found that 30% of all cancer deaths could be prevented by adequate D levels – above 30 ng/ml.  You can cut your risk of cancer in half by optimizing Vitamin D – between 50-90 ng/ml.

It is the one vitamin that will reduce your risk of death from all causes.

Vitamin D may be helpful in preventing or treating the following:

cardiovascular disease                

autism                        

muscle pain    

depression                                         

myopia                      

arthritis           

schizophrenia                                   

seizures                      

macular degeneration

psoriasis                                             

infertility                     

osteoporosis

eczema                                                 

pre-eclampsia             

asthma

hearing loss                                        

migraines

It prevents 17 cancers that we know of.

 

Sunshine is the best source, but we only make it in our skin when our shadow is shorter than we are.  This is mid-day, April until September.

We make up to 20,000 IU’s in 20-30 minutes of sun exposure.

Blood testing is the best way to guide oral dosing –

          Lab Corp through Life Extension  1-800-208-3444   $47

          Quest Labs & Mayo Clinic are inaccurate.  Their results must be divided by 3/4.

Oral dosing guidelines about 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight daily.

We probably use between 3,000 to 5,000 IU’s daily.

There is a 600% difference in absorption between people.  Obesity, illness, injury, and unidentified genetic factors may account for this wide range of absorption. 

Toxic levels of Vitamin D are very rare.

Elderly people have been given single doses of 600,000 IU’s with no side effects.  Healthy adults 40,000 IU’s daily for months with no toxicity.

Acute dosing at the onset of colds and flu – take 1,000 IU’s per pound of bodyweight for 3 days in a row.  For example, a 150 pound adult would take 150,000 IU for 3 days in a row.  This seems like a lot, but in the above study of a single dose of 600,000 IU had the effect of raising D levels to the optimum range, 50-90 ng/ml.  After another 30 days had passed those optimum levels had fallen into the insufficient range.

See The Vitamin D Council for more information.

To learn more about Dan read his bio here.  To contact Dan directly for questions or consultation, visit his website.