Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GMO Rice Won't Fix a Broken World

After witnessing first hand the evidences of a frail and collapsing food system in parts of Asia, my ears perked up at the mention of another GMO rice debate. Anna Lappé shared the video below in her Facebook feed yesterday, and I couldn't help but watch (skip to 3:36 for the GMO rice exchange):

It's refreshing to hear a fourteen year old armed with a bit of knowledge intelligently counter the feel-good, save-the-world-with-technology arguments from GMO proponents...
"Let's say you weren't as lucky as you are, you were born in an Asian country, you're 14 years old, your only food was rice that had no Vitamin A in it, you're going blind and then you died," O'Leary said. "Five-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people your age die that way every year. And a company like Monsanto could come along and offer you a genetically-modified rice that includes Vitamin A that could save your eyesight and your life."

Parent was unfazed.

"Golden rice was scrapped because it didn't work. And in order for the average 11-year-old boy to get enough Vitamin A from rice he would have to eat 27 bowls of rice per day," she said. "The reason there is blindness isn't because there is a lack of Vitamin A in the rice, it's because their diets are simply rice."

"Rachel Parent Debates Kevin O'Leary About GMOs" - Huffington Post Canada 

I'm offended when I hear how easily people brandish "save the starving" arguments in the same breath as praises for genetically modified foods.

Let's be honest: bypassing holistic solutions is better for big business' bottom line.

Let's market foods fortified with artificially increased levels of nutrients so that we won't have to solve the bigger picture of a broken food web.

Let's capture developing nations' farmers in a net of loans, seed contracts, and indebtedness to the Monsanto-moneymakers of the world so that we won't have to come alongside and help them truly break cycles of poverty and oppression.

Let's let our technology to save us. If we can pay scientists to alter the fundamental genetics of a plant and then patent and sell that source of salvation, why not pocket a few extra million and wear a shiny halo of pseudo-philanthropy?

Fishermen of the Tonlé Sap:
"The inland fisheries supported by the Tonle Sap Lake system
form the backbone of Cambodian food security,
however the people of the Tonle Sap Area experience
the highest incidence of poverty in the country…" -Read More
Traditional Rice Noodles
Fresh Cambodian Market Produce

My blood pressure's up.

It's time for me to re-listen to Deconstructing Dinner's "Biotechnology Myths."

More Information:

Kevin O'Leary - Canadian Businessman
Rachel Parent - Founder of Kids Right to Know Club

Can GMOs Help End World Hunger?
...I also found it interesting that Monsanto and cohorts spent $50 million on the golden rice ad campaign. That’s more than they spent on developing the rice in the first place. Imagine if that money had been spent on irrigation projects in sub-saharan Africa. Or given as microloans to start-up farmers in Southeast Asia. At the end of the day, Monsanto’s main objective isn’t solving world hunger. It’s making money. They invest millions of dollars in developing GM crops so they can patent them and recoup their investment. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire. It’s the goal of any business... But don’t let a snazzy PR campaign fool you. “Despite the PR, Monsanto’s goal is not to make hunger history. It’s to control the staple crops that feed the world.”

The Golden Rice: An Exercise in How Not to Do Science
...In conclusion, the ‘golden rice’ project was a useless application, a drain on public finance and a threat to health and biodiversity. It is being promoted in order to salvage a morally as well as financially bankrupt agricultural biotech industry, and is obstructing the essential shift to sustainable agriculture that can truly improve the health and nutrition especially of the poor in the Third World. This project should be terminated immediately before further damage is done. 
Mama Natural: How to Avoid GMOs (For Real)
A quick guide to sourcing non-GMO foods (including "On A Budget" recommendations).

No, Really. Listen to Deconstructing Dinner's "Biotechnology Myths" podcast.

Lastly, a few (semi-)related stories from my time in Southeast Asia:
Visiting the Floating Villages of Cambodia
Frogs and Eels and Pig Heads

All for now.
Enough drama for one day.
xx Bethany

Monday, July 15, 2013

A New Online Home for the PDX Food Swap

Hello friends ~ I hope this note finds you well!

A little heads up to let you know the new home of the PDX Food Swap is up and running:

Spreading Food Swap Love Since 2010!
twitter: @pdxswappers
instagram: #pdxfoodswap

Update your bookmarks (wait, who uses bookmarks anymore?). 

If you're game, try my new personal favorite and add the new site to your Feedly account.

A Few Other Feedly Favorites:

( you can catch the very random updates when they happen to go live...)

(for recipes + photos from my PDX Food Swap counterpart!)

(just because Sarah's food is so fun to follow...)

(thanks, Beka Pike, for pointing me toward Alana's blog)

(I've followed Shanna on Twitter for a long while and enjoyed her journey)

(simply lovely.)

Looking forward to seeing you at the next PDX Food Swap, and perhaps at the next informal Sustainable Food for Thought Food Group get together?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Raw Milk Baby + Babes at Champoeg Creamery

My husband Ted earned all sorts of brownie points last weekend.

First, he sent my seven-months-pregnant self to go chill out in the air conditioned bedroom and proceeded to clean the entire (slight-disaster-of-a-)kitchen. Then he packed the half gallon mason jars and cooler in the back of the car and took charge of the multi-stop road trip that included our bi-weekly visit to Champoeg Creamery. And once we stopped in at the farm, he managed to snap a (dare I say cute?) picture of my baby-belly + the new calf...and captioned his image "Babes."

I mean, really? The cuteness of new life? Unstoppable.

Seriously, we celebrated our seventh anniversary a few weeks ago, and I still think Ted's the best, and I love sharing this crazy life together...

On a more serious note, I'd like to mention that my little Peach (growing more every day - due September 18th!) is a raw milk baby, and I'm so grateful for a trustworthy dairy farmer who holds herself to impeccable standards and makes it possible for me to make the educated choice to drink raw milk during pregnancy.

...Both raw and pasteurized milk harbor bacteria but the bacteria in raw milk is the healthy bacteria of lactic-acid fermentation while the bacteria in pasteurized milk is the bacteria of spoilage. And the overall bacteria count of milk produced under clean conditions is much lower than that of pasteurized milk. Both raw and pasteurized milk contain E. coli, normally a benign microorganism. The most likely source of the new strains of virulent E. coli is genetically engineered soy, fed to cows in large commercial dairies. If there is any type of milk likely to harbor these virulent breeds, it is commercial pasteurized milk.

Back in the days when scientists at our universities did real research, they compared the health of children fed raw or pasteurized milk. Children fed raw milk have more resistance to TB, scurvy, flu, diphtheria, pneumonia, asthma, allergic skin problems and tooth decay. In addition, their growth and calcium absorption was superior.
-Is Raw Milk Safe for Babies? | Sally Fallon Morell

Everywhere I turned for research and information about the safety of raw milk during pregnancy was negative...
CDC Data: Raw Milk Safe During Pregnancy | The Healthy Home Economist

If you’re going to drink raw milk, then knowing the diet and living conditions of the animals it came from is crucial. This is the reason the FDA and big dairy companies don’t want you to know that clean raw milk is actually safe – it requires healthy animals and sanitary dairies. I don’t know about you, but clean milk from healthy animals is the only milk I want to drink...
Why I Drink Raw Milk | Eat Naked Now

If you're only just beginning to toy with the idea of raw milk, check this quick comparison on the difference between Conventional, USDA Organic, and RAW USA Certified Milk, and if you're interested in learning more about real food during pregnancy, let me suggest Nina Planck's Real Food for Mother and Baby. I gave a copy to my Sustainable Food for Thought partner in crime, Emily, when she was expecting her first child, and I was so glad to give it another read when I became pregnant...

Local Raw Milk Tidbits:

price raw milk sustainable

My raw milk farmer (and first-cousin-once-removed), Charlotte Smith of Champoeg Creamery, is now running a project to educate and train high-quality raw milk dairy farmers and responsible customers. Her messages are important, and I wholeheartedly believe in what she's doing.

Are you a raw milk producer in Oregon? (Or anywhere, for that matter?)

Are you a raw milk customer?

Do you desire to participate in a more
holistically sustainable
food system? 

I'd encourage you to check out Charlotte's most recent video and engage in the fascinating conversation in her comments section.

Lastly, speaking of brownie points...if your summertime garden is overflowing with zucchini and your chocolate craving levels are high, let me leave you with the flashback to the Yogurt, Honey, and Whole Wheat Brownies that we enjoyed along with our early glasses of raw milk...


Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Life Looks Like This Spring...

Hugs and a happy, happy springtime to you, wherever in the world you are! It's been many sunrises and sunsets since I've shared updates in this here's a quick peek into recent months:

Oregon sunshine and lunch in the field...

These days, life escapes the computer.

On-the-ground, in-the-kitchen, are only sometimes snapped.

Mental scribbles for future posts get sticky-noted to the sidewalls of my brain...and they grow a little old, a little dusty, then the adhesive gives out and the imaginary yellow squares flutter away...

So it is, home from the great world beyond.

Learning how to settle again.

Learning how to grow a new life, in more ways than one


After five months spent sharing life and meals and kitchen duties with my family in the rural countryside (waking to views of agricultural fields spread wide beneath Mount Hood), Ted and I found a home back in our favorite Portland neighborhood (Montavilla!), and just a week and a half ago, we regained possession of our first permanent address in 18 months.

Home, sweet home.

This also means: first permanent kitchen in a year and a half!

We're unpacking bins and boxes. Pulling out the cookware that hasn't seen daylight since Thanksgiving of 2011...

I'm reassembling staples: flours, beans, those little bulk bags of ground cumin and turmeric and paprika... (Of course I was giddy when Marissa from Food in Jars invited me to pin on her new Herb & Spice Storage board; I've got serious kitchen nesting to do and I need all the inspiration I can get.)

I'm all ears, following developments of the Montavilla Food Co-op and getting ready to jump back into the Montavilla Food Buying Club.

Lindsay (from the lovely and I have been working on a new series of PDX Food Swaps and hope to have a new site and set of resources rolled out soon...

Vestal Community Garden Plot

I'm grateful to be once again tending my Vestal Community Garden plot.

Many thanks to my friend Allison for taking the helm during 2012 and returning the plot to me with even better soil and even bigger herbs! Just last month, kiddos from the school came out and harvested volunteer raspberries that hopped the path and sprung up in my territory... The little patch of land keeps giving and giving.

Pregnant with Baby Oregonian!

New home, new kitchen, new little life squirming and dancing in my belly.
 Same garden, same city, same love for all things local and nourishing.
Balancing online and offline living...

If you're in Portland, come say hello at the next Food Swap...or maaaybe the next Food Group? Who knows? With a new living room, I may just be able to open my doors and invite you over to my place sometime soon :)


A note: My cousin Charlotte at Champoeg Creamery is hosting a terrific Farm Camp this summer for 6-12 year olds who are ready to spend a week learning about the honest-to-goodness roots of real food.

If your kiddos are interested in milking cows, making cheese and ice cream, learning about raising turkeys and chickens and gathering eggs, getting their hands dirty planting plants in Oregon soil, quizzing bees, and learning to brush, saddle, lead, and ride horses, then visit Charlotte's blog for details:

**As of 5/28/2013, there are only three spots left for the July 15-18 session.**

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PDX Food Swap: April 14th, 2013

Registration is Now Open for the PDX Food Swap!

SUNDAY,  APRIL 14th (4-6 pm) 
Hosted by Rosemarried & Sustainable Food for Thought at The Art Institute of Portland
 Invite Friends & Spread the Word:

Hello, swappers! We've missed you! We are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for our April swap. Please note that this swap will be held at a new location: Sharp, the restaurant at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland. Sharp is located on the corner of NW Couch and 8th.

For those of you who've attended our swaps previously, please feel free to scroll down to the registration form at the bottom. If you're new to the PDX Food Swap - hello and welcome! See below for details, and please don't hesitate to ask questions. We hope to see you all on April 14th!

What: A Food Swap is part silent auction/part village marketplace/part open house where your homemade creations (breads, preserves, infusions, canned goods, etc.) become your own personal currency for use in swapping with other participants. What better way to diversify your pantry and meet a few new food-minded friends?

When: Sunday, April 14th, 4-6pm

Where: Please note the new location!!! Sharp, the restaurant of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland. Sharp is located at the corner of NW Couch and 8th in downtown Portland.

What: Bring an assortment of your homemade edible specialties (and even a few non-edibles, such as: lip balm, soaps, etc.) to exchange for other handcrafted delights. We will provide swapping cards, name tags, and organization for the event. You will be given the opportunity to offer trades in a silent-auction type format, and you will be free to choose which trades to accept for your products. Bring as much or as little as you like; there are no caps or minimums.

Who: Pacific Northwesterners {aka the Willamette Valley, the Portland Metro Area, and our Neighbors to the North}. Please note, we are unable to provide childcare for this event.

Cost: Swap participants will be given free entry; a donation jar will be available to help cover the cost of supplies. (Or, better yet, donate one of your hand crafted goods!)


a) RSVP below with your name, contact info, & description of items you plan to trade.

Make sure to register early! Due to limited space, we are capping the number of swappers at 30 and will maintain a waiting list. The last few swaps have filled up quickly, so make sure to fill out the registration form as soon as possible.

b) On Sunday the 14th, please bring your hand crafted good. Please arrive promptly at 4pm and be ready to swap shortly thereafter (we generally start on time and things move quickly!). Please do not arrive early, as there are other events happening in the space that day. Lastly, feel free to bring samples of your goods for others to try.

c) It's as simple as that! We’re excited as always to meet one another and celebrate the bounty of the seasons and the fruits of our labor. If you have any questions about the swap, please refer to this handy list of FAQs.

Registration is now open for the April 2013 Food Swap. Please fill out the form below if you would like to attend. We will send out a confirmation email within a week of your registration.


(If you have any questions, please contact

Thank you! - Lindsay,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On the Benefits of Pastured Chicken Eggs

Today's bounty from the henhouse
Along with raw milk and fermented dairy products, eggs from pastured chickens are one of the most nourishing foods on the planet.  Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride compares raw egg yolk to human breast milk because it can be absorbed almost 100% without needing digestion.  Egg yolks will provide you with the most essential amino acids, many vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, A, D, biotin), essential fatty acids, zinc magnesium and numerous other nutrients. 

We have a whole batch of young chickens hatched late spring here on the farm that just started laying and we once again have eggs for sale in the milk fridge.  You can tell from their vivid yellow-orange yolks that the chickens are eating their traditional diet of bugs, slugs, worms, even the occasional mouse or frog, supplemented with organic feed that is soy and corn free.  All these nutrients translate to a rich store of health enhancing carotenes.  The more carotenes, the darker, deeper orange color the yolk—and the higher the levels of fat-soluble vitamins as well. Eggs from pastured chickens also provide all eight essential protein building amino acids.

Our girls are out on green grass year round
For us parents, soft-boiled egg yolks are a great first food for baby.  Egg yolks, rich in choline, cholesterol and other brain-nourishing substances, can be added to your baby's diet as early as four months. (If baby reacts poorly to egg yolk at that age, discontinue and try again one month later.) Cholesterol is vital for the insulation of the nerves in the brain and the entire central nervous system. Since the brain is so dependent on cholesterol, it is especially vital during this time when brain growth is in hyper-speed.  Choline is another critical nutrient for brain development.

Store bought eggs on the left, eggs from our pastured chickens right
Why just the yolk for babies? The white is the portion that most often causes allergic reactions, so wait to give egg whites until after your child turns one.

In years past eggs have gotten a bad rap and if you listen to mainstream media you probably were scared to eat more than a couple eggs a week.  There is a great body of scientific evidence explaining how the body produces cholesterol as it's needed, to make up for what your diet doesn't supply.  Eating foods rich in cholesterol takes some of the work load off your body and even if you religiously follow a completely cholesterol-free diet, you will still have a lot of cholesterol in your body.  Your body has mechanisms in place to balance the cholesterol levels in your blood, whether you get it from food or it's produced by your body. Some people's natural, healthy cholesterol level is higher than others and a healthy body will balance this. 

Best idea yet - try to keep a few of your own hens in your yard so you always have an abundant source of nutrient dense eggs to eat or barter, or find a friend willing to house chickens for both of you. 

Truly pastured chicken eggs are hard to find but worth every effort to attain them! 

Charlotte Smith
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which also teem with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3, a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator, and sits on the Executive Advisory Council for the Raw Milk Institute.


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