Saturday, November 29, 2008

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Meds?

Marketing and advertising are evil genius. You've seen the ads: "Got Milk?", "High fructose corn syrup is fine in moderation", and "Tyson chickens are raised with no antibiotics". Many Americans didn't grow up on a farm. We haven't the slightest clue about what it takes to raise poultry, livestock, and crops in quantities large enough to feed our communities and be sustained financially when doing so. Ever wonder how it is possible that food manufacturers can grow to become billion-dollar corporations while the average independent farmer is struggling?

Consider the following article excerpt from The Farmer entitled "The Farm is the Engine of Our National Life" by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu'min Muhammad of Muhammad Farms in Georgia (

"Minister Farrakhan told me to tell you that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, "The farm is the engine of our national life." The engine of our nation is what pushes the nation forward. Without the farm we are lost. Without agriculture we have nothing. Because of the bad treatment under slavery and under the sharecropping system, our elders left the land seeking a better life in the cities. They left with a bad taste in their mouth, so that when schemes were fashioned to take the land from them, they did not put up a real fight. They took the little money and let the land go. The national life includes food, clothing and shelter. You can get all of these, if you have the land. However, most of the countries in Africa import their food from their former colonial or slave master. No nation can truly be free with its mouth in the kitchen of their former colonial masters. We need the land not only for economic development and wealth, but our very health depends on it. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us the "Economic Blueprint" in Message to the Black Man, and he gave us a pattern to sustain our lives in "How to Eat to Live". America has forced many of us off the land. America is now forcing many countries to destroy their seed and buy seed from American companies. Why? As the value of money goes down platinum, gold and silver go up. But these minerals are just a means of exchange. You can not eat, wear, live in or ride platinum, gold or silver. You must exchange these items for the land and the means of extracting and processing the raw materials from the land to make the items of necessity. Real value rests in land, seeds, clay and trees. Since our elders never got the real value for their work on the land, we have now lost respect for the land. Where will you work and live tomorrow? What are you doing to insure your future or do you still think that America will find a way for you?"

The point that I am making here is that our dependence on big business forces us to buy their products and trust that the quality will sustain our levels of nutrition and overall health. We have basically placed our lives in in the hands of businessmen whose goal is to MAKE MONEY. So, it should not surprise any of us that a few corners might be cut here and there to add a few more dollars to the bottom line. In the meantime, the independent farmer cannot compete price wise with mass-producers and are subject to greater losses due to drought, natural disasters, and the struggling economy. Why? Because they choose to grow foods and raise animals naturally "as Mother Nature intended".

Let's take a look at a story written by David Gutierrez about Tyson chicken and their claim that their chickens have no added antibiotics. This article can be found in its entirety at

"(NaturalNews) Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat processor and the second largest chicken producer in the United States, has admitted that it injects its chickens with antibiotics before they hatch, but labels them as raised without antibiotics anyway. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) told Tyson to stop using the antibiotic-free label. The company has sued over its right to keep using it. The controversy over Tyson's antibiotic-free label began in summer 2007, when the company began a massive advertising campaign to tout its chicken as "raised without antibiotics." Already, Tyson has spent tens of millions of dollars this year to date in continuing this campaign. Poultry farmers regularly treat chickens and other birds with antibiotics to prevent the development of intestinal infections that might reduce the weight (and profitability) of the birds. Yet scientists have become increasingly concerned that the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture may accelerate the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could lead to a pandemic or other health crisis."

Wow. And that's not all that is in your chicken. Dr. Joseph Mercola writes(

"If you really want to be sure your food is healthy and safe, you might want to try avoiding grocery stores altogether, as conventionally-raised livestock, including chickens, are not your best choice. And, adding insult to injury, about 30 percent of all fresh chickens sold in your supermarket have been pumped and plumped with as much as fifteen percent salt water, potential cancer-producing carrageenan, and other additives. This equates to cash strapped consumers paying about $2 billion a year for salt water! These chickens also contain about 800 percent more sodium per serving than expected. More and more people are buying food fresh off the farm from producers they personally know and trust, through CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), farmers’ markets, or other local food movements. When you can actually go visit the farm itself, you can see that it’s natural, fresh, and exactly as advertised."

Ok, so how do we find foods that are not manipulated to increase volume and profits at the expense of our health? Isn't it more expensive? Well, the long-term solution is to acquire some land, cultivate it, and produce your own food. We could start in our own backyards, window boxes, or even use flower pots. We could pool our resources and start a community garden. A great short-term solution is to support local farmers at farmers' markets or start and/or support your local co-ops. You can find one in your area at Buying direct will be much easier on your pocketbook. The motto of Muhammad Farms is "from the land to the man and no middle man". Here is a great article by Dr. Colleen Huber, NMD that breaks down the average costs of purchasing from big grocery chains versus your local co-op including weekly menus:

And lastly, for all of the fast food lovers, here are some video excerpts from Morgan Spurlock's movie "Super Size Me". Pay close attention to the end of the first video and the beginning of the second to learn about the "chicken" in Chicken McNuggets. Enjoy!

More next time...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Best Exercise of the Day: "Push-Aways"

(Thanksgiving Day marks the official kickoff of the holiday season and, for many, the start of a whole lot of eating. Food becomes the center of social interaction at family gatherings and at school and office parties. Cooking comfort foods and holiday desserts are parts of family traditions. There are many social and emotional reasons to eat. Even the most disciplined eaters can fall off the wagon. My hope is that today I can offer some perspective on overeating and unfavorable food choices. Here is some "food" for thought...)

Let's start by testing what you know about diet and digestion:

Digestion is the breaking down of chemicals in the body, into a form that can be absorbed. It is also the process by which the body breaks down chemicals into smaller components that can be absorbed by the blood stream. It takes an average of 12-24 hours to digest a meal depending on the types and quantities of food ingested. So, your breakfast eaten at 8 a.m. today won't be digested and passed from your body until at least 8 a.m. TOMORROW. TMI? Get this: Your body hasn't fully extracted and used the nutrients consumed from your first meal of the day by lunch time. In a 24 hour period, your body could be storing a minimum of three meals in your digestive system. This is a normal condition if you eat three balanced meals a day.

What happens when you overeat? A simple definition of overeating offered by Merriam-Webster is "eat(ing) to excess." There are many reasons why one might overeat: stress, going too long without eating, greed, sugar/carb addiction, depression, bulimia nervosa, and emotional reasons. Gorging yourself on sugar, high fat, and /or salt-laden foods creates a traffic jam in your digestive tract. Your blood sugar levels spike and if these sugars are not used up in physical activity, they are stored in your fat cells. Translation? You gain weight. The amount of time and energy required to lose these extra pounds is a whole lot more than the amount of time and energy it took to eat them.

So how do we keep it all in check? Indulge with balanced moderation. Here are some tips:

1) About an hour before you eat, drink a glass of water. Then, have some fresh fruit or dates. Wait a while for your appetite to return before filling your plate.
2) Fill up on the veggies first. Eat colorful salads, soups, and cooked vegetables. The fiber will start to fill you up which will prevent overeating.
3) Focus on proteins and carbs next. Ensure that you serving size is not greater than the amount of food that you can hold in the palm of your hand.
4) Now "push-away" from the table. Examine the spread and earmark the desserts that you would like to sample. Do not eat more than you can fit on one DESSERT plate.Wait an hour before you partake.
5) If you have food allergies, are on medication, are overweight, and/or have diabetes or another chronic condition, then do not use these occasions as an excuse to forgo your diet. You will pay for it later.

I hope this helps! More next time...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Inflammation and Obesity

There is a causal link between what you eat, how you feel, and how much you weigh. The more good foods that we put into our bodies, the better our health and the easier it is to manage our weight. Consuming processed foods causes a volatile reaction caused inflammation. It manifests itself as food allergies, swelling, sickness, and weight gain. This is the body's natural response to foreign substances via the immune system. According to an article entitled, "The Top Ten Inflammatory Foods" published on, Jack Challem writes:

"Chronic, low-grade inflammation almost always lurks beneath the surface of diabetes and excess weight. You can’t usually see or feel the damage, but this type of inflammation significantly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Low-grade inflammation has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor can measure it with the “high-sensitivity C-reactive protein,” or CRP, test."

The article goes on to discuss the effects of white sugar and refined starches on the body:

"Processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches increase inflammation, just as they raise blood sugar, according to an article in the March 2002 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and many other drugs reduce inflammation, but they pose a risk of side effects and no doctor’s going to suggest taking these drugs on a regular basis because your CRP is elevated. However, many foods have anti-inflammatory benefits, and the only side effects are other stellar health benefits."

Challem offers a list of the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods. Visit the site to read more about these foods:

1. Salmon
2. Green tea
3. Olive oil
4. Salads (Dark-green lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and other salad veggies
are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants)
5. Cruciferous vegetables
6. Cherries
7. Blueberries
8. Turmeric
9. Ginger
10. Garlic

I would like to offer a recipe for an immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory soup. It is easy to prepare and should be eaten several times a week year-round. Use fresh, organic vegetables whenever possible:

2 cups spinach leaves
3 medium sliced carrots
1 medium yellow or white onion diced
2 stalks chopped celery
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 bunch fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. Himalayan Sea Salt or Real Salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a pot and cover with distilled water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Enjoy!

Please send me your feedback!
More next time...