Monday, January 26, 2015

Even I have to say it this time, Chef Roy, WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

The British are such a wondrous nation, fantastic people, enchanting really. Their cuisine as a whole rivals that of every other nation on, oh criminy, even I can't say that with a straight face. Let's face it, with the exception of Stilton Cheese, fish and chips and real good tavern made spoiled beer vinegars, the English Islanders are not very well known for good food. It doesn't mean there aren't a few adventuresome spirits out there creating some exceptional comestibles, but for the most part these people eat overcooked vegetables, pork fat pudding with currants (Aptly named Spotted Dick) and roast beef. A full English Breakfast consists of soft boiled eggs, sausages and baked beans from a tin. Sigh, I truly believe that this is the reason the Brits left their tiny island and sought a decent cuisine across the pond in the new world. But then every human on Earth should at one time be subjected to the horrors of being presented mashed cooked peas for breakfast at least once in their life in order to appreciate what they have and were raised with, even if it's Cheerios and Coco Puffs which here now in this one place only will I ever admit to having eaten and enjoyed somewhat better than green pea mash.

So, let's see what we can do about making English food, well, tasty. I mean that after all, I am the weird guy, that Chef that does things a bit differently. And I have in the past made some odd, but delicious things, (the sushi ravioli were to die for) and I believe that I am up to the task. Once we get to experience traditional flavors that are altered into wondrous delights that are tasty, easy and nutritious then I am hopeful that everyone will begin to experiment with cooking their own foods at home and experience the fun and pleasure that can be derived by cooking your own healthy foods. Today, we are going for something fun. Toad in the Hole with Apple Onion Gravy, and the traditional Cauliflower and Pea side dish that won't scare you to death with the inherent blandness so typical of English veggie dishes.

Let's start with the gravy. This really is pretty traditional, I haven't altered it a lot. It is an old standby that has served the cause of adding moisture and flavor to dead dried out overcooked foods in Britain since time began. It works, it's easy, here's how to do it. Take an apple, peel it, cut it into small cubes. Take an onion and dice it. Melt a pat of butter in a heavy skillet and add the onions and apple, and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes. The onions should beginning to caramelize and brown. Many recipes add sugar, I don't think that's necessary. Add a bit of fresh thyme and about three tablespoons of AP flour with another couple pats of butter. Cook the flour and butter for another 3 or 4 minutes, then add a cup of chicken stock and a half cup of half and half. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Season with pepper, cayenne and salt if you must. Keep warm. Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is just weird. The English have for generations cooked the stuff until it is mushy then added peas to it and cooked it even more. I haven't figured out why. My version is pretty cool though, try it, you will love it.

Take a head of cauliflower and cut the stalks off the central core. Cut the big stalks in half, just slice them through from the central core up through the top. Set aside. In a big skillet with tight fitting lid melt a couple pats of butter in a tablespoon of olive oil. Coat the pan and then place as many of the cut cauls cut side down into the skillet. Push them tightly together and get as many as you can onto the bottom of the skillet. Season generously with fresh cracked pepper. Cover and turn the heat down to medium low. Let cook about 30 minutes, the cut sides should be crispy and browned. Now take a couple cups of sugar snap peas and toss into the pan, cover again and let steam for another 5 to 8 minutes. Toss in a few sliced mint leaves and keep warm.

Now, the Toad in the Hole. I just had to do something with this, and what I came up with is just pure genius. I have a Belgian Waffle maker and so I used that. I bought some of those little cocktail weenies because Matt had a coupon and wanted some so I got a few packs of them. I took one pack and opened it, rinsed them off and dried them. Then in a skillet I added a half a diced onion to some butter and cooked until well caramelized. Then I added a cup of Merlot and the sausages. I cooked them until the wine evaporated completely and the little weiners were glazed. Now, I made a standard whole wheat waffle batter and heated up the waffle iron. I threw a bunch of the sausages onto the iron, they sort of rolled around and didn't land on the actual squares where the holes are. Then I added some batter, closed the lid and five minutes later, I had a waffle with little cocktail weenies in it. Now, a Toad, some gravy and some decent cauliflower, that's English cooking like the English wish they could eat.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Iodine, Bromine, the connection, and the heartbreak of absolute sheer stupidity and greed.

There are of course, 92 naturally occurring elements here on Earth, although some might state that number up around 98 what with some of the higher atomic weight ones being recently found naturally in Uranium ore, but in reality, 92 elements. For the most part, they are mixed all around us in our environment in relatively the same proportions all over the world. For the most part. And of course, life itself we are led to believe, evolved with these elements in the environment. And for the most part, a large number of those elements have come to play an integral part of the structure of our very life itself. We need many of these elements to live, to be healthy and prosper. Things like iron, calcium, copper, and a whole host of the elements that we need in trace amounts to live. Iodine is one of those, we need it, we don't do so well without it. Too much is bad, but it's one of those elements that are necessary for good health. In fact one of the things that that the food processing industry did a hundred years ago was recognize a need in certain human populations to have more iodine and that's where "Iodized Salt" became popular. It still is a problem in many areas of the world, iodine deficiency can cause some rather nasty long term problems. It isn't just the Appalachian Goiter phenomena, it is a whole host of problems. The World Health Organization has a lengthy and quite boring description of many of the problems associated with what they have termed IDD or Iodine Deficiency Disorders and you can read about them here, beginning on page 14 (WHO IDD)  Let's just say that these are things that are not figments of the imagination of some weirdo writing a blog, these are all very real problems and humans that live in areas, generally landlocked with no access to ocean products, live, grow, breed and develop with a deficiency of iodine. Many of the problems that develop before goiters grow are retardation, reduced mental acuity, loss of motor skills, spastic conditions and a whole lot more less severe things like obesity, muscle weakness, cognitive development and there are specific links to increases in breast cancer. It isn't something to laugh off, it's real, it's a big part of our world, and it is preventable. Pretty much eating anything that grew in the ocean (NOT FARMED SALMON OR SHRIMP) will have iodine in it. Eating real natural sea products, especially seaweeds, will give you all the iodine you should need. Using that horrible metallic tasting iodized salt will also help, however eating a tin of tuna or sardines will do the same and be better for you in many ways.

Except,....

There is a bit of a problem with that. The problem goes back to those 92 elements. Chemists have been working with the elements for a long time now and a while back some of them figured out the Periodic Chart of the Elements which is a handy tool for those of us that know how to use it. It's set up so we can view "Families" of elements that all seem to have very similar properties. One of the closest pairs of elements in the Chart that share properties are the two elements Iodine and Bromine. They are very similar in how they react and how they "interact" with every other element. One is necessary for life, the other is a deadly poison. For the most part, bromine exists all over the world in the form of halide salts and are not absorbed by the human body when ingested. Modern man does things a little differently though, and greedy men have found ways to profit from the use of isolated bromine. And that's where the problems begin. 

When a human being ingests iodine and bromine there is a simple problem, the body needs iodine, but the fact is that when both are available, the body utilizes the bromine instead. This weird problem is called "The Bromine Dominance Effect"  Humans didn't evolve with free bromine in their diets, they evolved with iodine. And the body doesn't know what to do with the stuff. It just might be the cause of many of the Iodine Deficiency Disorders that are becoming so prevalent in our world to day. Whenever we humans consume what we might like to think of as an adequate diet, rich in nutrition and full of things that have the necessary iodine to maintain a healthy lifestyle; we might just get fooled by modern food processors that give us bromine. Bromine is everywhere. From the potassium bromate in commercially baked breads that are added to make the stuff softer to the flavor enhancer in Mountain Dew and other sodas that use brominated vegetable oils for mouthfeel and taste. And of course the worst offender is the use of bromine based insecticides particularly the use of methyl bromide in the production of commercially raised strawberries. And it's true, the USDA says that the use of methyl bromine is to be halted, with the single exception of strawberry cultivation, where it is allowed and no plans are there to stop its use. EVER. 

Does it make a difference? I don't know. there isn't any one out there that will spend the money to study stuff like this. We know bromine is toxic, the EPA lists all the facts about just how nasty the stuff is on their database and we can see how horrific it is. But the fact is, there are certain applications where the use of free bromine salts give a competitive advantage for agrichemical uses and in the manufacture of certain processed foods. The fact that the stuff is toxic is of no consequence to those making money. And make no mistake about it, if someone is making money doing it, then it will be pretty hard to stop it. This is America, where you have the right to make money at the expense of the health of the citizenry. It happens every day.

?

Friday, January 16, 2015

things that make no sense at all, yet are touted as gospel truths

Well, that one could encompass volumes of iconic trivialities such as why on Earth the Kardashians are famous when they aren't even remotely interesting to standing an egg on end during the equinox. That's a lot of stuff. I think there is a lot of such stuff out there for everyone, I mean, some people actually watch Kim, and her family whine for an hour about, well, trivialities, but that's my interpretation, the show, and well, the whole family, are a waste of time, and air. However it takes all kinds to make a world, those attempting to make an homogenous populace, either by eliminating those that didn't think or believe as they did, or by, well, shoot, that's it. Killing off those you don't like is the only thing those silly self absorbed dictators have done. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, massacres, holocausts, general carnage, well, whatever you want to call it, it sounds horrific getting there, and the end result would be rather boring I think. So, there are those that like the Kardashians, and there are people that have a life. We need both kinds of people here so that we have a diversity of ideas and concepts. And we all should think about what it is that we are supposed to believe in and accept as the absolute truth, but in reality, we each personally find, well, not quite right.

 Here are a few of mine -
1. Eating wheat products makes you FAT
  •  Nothing could be further from the truth. Americans eating a crappy diet packed with CAFO meats, huge amounts of HFCS and just an all around nutrient poor diet seem to gain weight, but the wheat has little to do with it. Many other cultures, Japanese and northern Chinese for example, as a whole consume 8 times more wheat than Americans and have 3 to 5% obesity rates. With USA being 60 to 68% overweight and 30% obese, it ain't the wheat we eat.
 2. Gliadin causes your intestinal lining to have holes leading to leaky gut syndrome as undigested food, germs and whatever in your intestines leaks into your bloodstream and is what is slowly killing you.
  • Wow. actually this is based on a report published on PubMed, part of the NCBI library that claims to have shown that "in vitro" intestinal cells increased permeability when exposed to free gliadin. Permeability is a whole lot different than leaky gut. In fact there are no medical diseases, symptoms, or anything that could be construed as "Leaky Gut" in any medical texts or lists of diagnosis possible. It only exists in the books and websites of pseudo experts wanting to sell you THEIR crap. Actually, if your intestinal fluid gets into your bloodstream, you generally die, and pretty quickly.
3.  Eating grains, even "Whole Grains" causes inflammation 
  • I'm not sure where this one started, but three fourths of the world population exists on a basic whole grain diet. For most of the world, meat is a very small part of the standard diet and sugar, processed grains, HFCS and pretty much anything in the Western diet; is unheard of. Study after study has found that consuming REAL whole grains (not Cheerios) promotes normal leptin and insulin functions. The only time that it doesn't is when someone wants to sell you something, and generally that's books, supplements and website weekly diet/recipe plans. 
4.  Wheat is poisonous because it is Genetically Modified and now has 42 chromosomes instead of wild wheat which only has 14
  • This one is complex and a bit hard to understand, but here goes a try at it. Wheat is Hexaploid, meaning that there are six copies of the seven chromosomes. Humans are Diploid, we have two copies of 23 chromosomes. The current cultivated varieties have been interbreed and crossed with other, closely related species of grasses for several thousand years to increase yield, hardiness and disease resistance. Some of the things that occur during cross breeding of simpler species of life forms, like wheat, is that during the process, instead of taking just the gametes, or the separate male/female chromosomes to make a new hybrid, the simpler structure of the genome allows for the crossed embryo to have both sets of chromosomes from the parent plants. You do this enough times, you get a larger number of chromosomes. It DOES NOT make the offspring hybrid inherently bad. Nature has naturally done this to many many species of plants, some mushrooms have over a thousand chromosomes. Current research at Cold Springs Harbor Labs who have taken on the task of mapping the genome of wheat, shows us that the genome is about five times more complex than humans, but that of the 17 Gb of nucleotide base pairs most are duplicates and it is a positive thing as it has allowed viability of the hybridization since so many hybrid programs on many plants end up in infertile offspring. For those internet salesmen attempting to get us to believe that multiple sets of chromosomes are bad, I think they should read a book on basic biology, a good sixty percent of the plant world has them.
5.  Doctors have shown that up to 49% of people have "Gluten Sensitivity" and should avoid all gluten.
  • This is a very similar diagnosis to "Leaky Gut Syndrome" in that it doesn't exist, and is a made up symptom of people wanting to sell you books, supplements and diet plans. Gluten Sensitivity testing involves not eating any gluten products for several weeks, then going out and having some fast food crap and if your stomach hurts, then you should never eat wheat products ever again. Wow, no one has ever questioned this logic before and I can't understand why. First off, to verify sensitivity to a particular food item, you need to eat a pure version of the food. And that does not include store bought commercial bread products and ESPECIALLY not anything from a fast food place. All that crap is packed with toxic preservatives, binders, bleaching agents and enhancers along with MSG in one form or another. How would you know if you were sensitive to gluten or crap? Secondly, well, it's just stupid.
6. This article is not about a variety of things I don't believe in, it's about gluten and wheat.
  • You would be right if you thought that


Thursday, January 15, 2015

How I eat my steak. Yeah, steak, deal with it.

Admittedly I rarely eat meat. And beef, well, that is just a big big no no in my book. Beef is just the most vile and disgusting product in the supermarket. I have written about it here on numerous occasions and none of that has changed in any way. But, there are some alternatives, mainly grass fed organic beef. And I just happen to know a guy that does it this way. Kenny. His company is called Kenny the Fishhugger. and he fishes for salmon in Alaska in the summer and his family raises steers on pasture in New Mexico and he sells both at the farmers markets. So anyway, last week my son was very ill, and on Sunday while at the market I decided to make something nice for him so I bought a steak. A pretty big one. I tried to get hold of someone to come over and eat my part of it all, but she was not answering my emails today so I broke down and ate a piece of it. It was, well, okay. I mean I have nothing to compare it to. It isn't like I was raised on steak, we never ate it growing up, and I didn't acquire a taste for it. So I think maybe, I've had 7 of them in my life. Matt said it was good, so I know he eats a lot of it, all contrary to the way he was raised, but, he's an adult, he can do so if desired.

Anyway, I fixed my baby potatoes. I took small reds and cut them in half and then cut a deep X in each flat side. Melted butter in olive oil and tossed the spuds in that, turned them onto their cut side and thoroughly peppered them and tossed in rosemary leaves. Covered and cooked on low for an hour and a half. They were delicious. The broccoli was overcooked, a timing error, Matt never told me it took an hour and twenty to cook the steak. He took the steak, dried it, covered it with sea salt and let it sit for an hour, then washed it off, dried it and placed on rack in freezer to dry even more. Then on very hot grill pan he seared it, then place shallots and butter along with rosemary and put it in the oven for thirty minutes at 300 until the steak was medium. We had Winter Lager and it was still all very good. Here's the pics







Friday, January 9, 2015

Yeah, weird, but ever so delicious. Chef Roy's Healthy Food Recipes, once again! Chicken and Waffles Cajun Style

Chicken and waffles? Well, to me, it sounds pretty gross, but that's only because the execution of the concept is normally done with such utter disregard for the health of those consuming the stuff. White flour, syrup that is all High Fructose Corn Syrup and then CAFO chicken fried in overheated used soy oil, or worse, canola oil. Not a single thing there that's in any way healthy or good for you. It can be done better, and it can be done with a different twist on the whole thing as well. That's me, doing things different. So here goes.

I was at the farmers market (I'm at a market three days a week selling my stuff) and I bought a pasture raised organic chicken.  Seventeen bucks, I thought wow, three times the cost of a supermarket CAFO chicken and twice what one cost when I lived in Austin, but hey, I want to start including some higher quality bone broth and some organic meat into my diet on occasion. I'm gettin' older. So, I started by boning the bird. Removed the carcass and boned the thighs. I put the breasts and thighs in the fridge and roasted the bones, legs and wings along with the neck. My son ate the legs and wings and I took all the bones and put in a big stockpot with water and a bunch of stuff from my trash bag in the freezer. You know, onion skins, ends and tops from celery, carrot peelings, tops from some fennel. I save all that stuff for stock, either vegetable or like now, to improve the flavor of the chicken stock. A bunch of herbs from my herb garden and let it simmer overnight. I drained it, strained it and put it into jars and into the fridge.

Now, for the waffles, I wanted something with flavor, protein and a wow factor. So I cooked some soaked garbanzo beans for 20 minutes in pressure cooker. I took one cup of those beans and put into a sauce pan and cooked an additional 20 minutes on the stove to make them very soft. These I put into the blender and blender until smooth. Then I added a cup of whole wheat flour, two eggs, a quarter cup of coconut oil, and some plain yogurt and whizzed until smooth and the consistency of thick pancake batter. Let it sit a few hours, or all day or overnight. This lets the wheat ferment and breaks down the phytates and lectins that make wheat (and ALL plant materials) somewhat toxic. (( My articles on these techniques)) An hour before you want to eat, take about two quarts of the chicken stock and put into a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce by two thirds to concentrate the flavors. I then like to take the chicken pieces and dip into a beaten egg and coat with good whole wheat breadcrumbs. Now, into a skillet, melt some coconut oil and add some EVOO and a bit of butter as well. Fry the chicken parts until well browned on each side. Set aside, use a digital thermometer to check temperature, it should be 165. Now, in the same pan, remove all but about three tablespoons of any remaining oil then add a half cup of fine diced onion, one of diced peppers and celery. The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking. Cook until well wilted and beginning to soften, then add some garlic. The amount is up to individual taste. Add about three tablespoons of unbleached flour and cook to make a roux. Add a half cup of good Cajun seasoning, then add the warm stock and bring to a boil and cook until thickened.

Now, back to the waffles, take the blender jar with your batter and check the consistency, add some water or milk to thin if needed, and now add a tablespoon baking powder and two of Cajun seasoning.  Heat up the waffle iron and cook your waffles like any normal plain waffle. Keep them warm. To serve, put a couple waffles on a plate, put a chicken piece on them and smother with the Cajun gravy. Yeah, you could use real maple syrup, but wow, try this first, savory vs. sweet, savory beats sweet every time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Terminology, Nomenclature, and the Phraseology of Intentional Deceit. All in the local grocery store shelves

Eggs. Pretty much a staple in most homes not just here in America, but throughout the world. Eggs, Everyone eats eggs, or most everyone does. The little things are just so so versatile. And wondrous things can be made from them. The bad thing about eggs is that most people in America and the rest of the industrialized world consume a product that is raised in questionable sanitary and humane conditions. As well as being fed some incredibly disgusting things. But then in America, how things get to the market is of little importance to most of the citizens, their concern is that the stuff is there. And that it is cheap.
And when Americans go to the market, this is pretty much what they look for when looking to purchase eggs.White, uniform, sterile looking wadges of insipid homogenous relatively tasteless protein in the form of a thin shell covering a pale image of what a real egg truly is. Sadly, that's how I was raised. One day I was treated to real eggs from a backyard farm and all that changed. The flavor of real eggs is immense, they just have this complexity, this zest within them that begs for mere mortals such as we to do our best, to create great luscious and tasty things with them. And above all else, to want more and more of them. And so off to the market, and once there, sadly, we are disappointed. Stores normally have a plethora of eggs, tons of them. All different sizes and a huge mix of, well, hard to say. The various brands all claim different styles of production methods and claims for health benefits. One would think that the regulatory agencies of our great and wondrous government in their zeal to control as much of our existence as possible would simplify all these claims on the cartons of a grocery store staple such as eggs. And have sort of done so. basically they have laid down the law and told producers of eggs to deal with it themselves. Uhhh, what? Surely that isn't correct, right? Well, actually it is, the terminology used in labeling, the nomenclature and the phrases designed to make consumers grab one carton over the competitors; is basically unregulated. The industry itself has a few rules, but they are overshadowed by the zeal for terminology used in labeling by all of the producers themselves. Let's see if I can shed some light onto what is out there for all to see. Perhaps with some information, we can all be better consumers and we can all begin to make better, smarter choices for ourselves and our families.


To start, let's look at some terms on the packaging that have absolutely no meaning whatsoever.
Farm Fresh, All Natural, Antibiotic Free, and Hormone Free.

None of these terms actually has anything to do with eggs. If any person actually thinks that buying eggs in their local supermarket labeled farm fresh means they were harvested the day before, or in reality, even within the previous two weeks, they are sadly living in a dream world. All Natural is meaningless, just like any product on store shelves with that label, there are no defining standards for its use, so it gets used A LOT! And in the US it is illegal for egg producers to feed their chickens antibiotics or hormones, so by law, all eggs are such. However, the laws does allow egg producers to feed their chickens arsenic to help stop infections. Most of the arsenic is excreted, a small amount remains in the chicken and a tiny amount gets into the eggs. Is it harmful? Well, we don't really know just how much accumulates, we do know though that over time it is a definite big Class I carcinogen. So that leads into the first real class of eggs.
ORGANIC. USDA Certified Organic means that the eggs are laid by chickens that are fed a diet of grains that are grown using organic methods. It also means the chickens can be fed supplements but not any that contain the ground up remnants of cow spines or any other possible source of prions. And of course, no arsenic. 

So far, we have no distinction as to how the chickens are raised. In America, 95% of all egg production is done in large crowded mass aviaries. Huge barns contain cages that house from 4 to 12 chickens with enough space that each individual bird gets 67 square inches to live. That's smaller than a sheet of paper. Wire floor, water to peck at and food squirted into the cage while eggs roll out to be collected. Barns with a hundred thousand chickens or so tend to have a distinctive odor and so are generally quite a ways from populated areas. And the quantities of waste are enormous. So, we then come to our first designation for the way chickens are raised, CAGE-FREE. This means that the huge barn where a hundred thousand chickens are raised has no individual cages. The birds generally have perches and nests of a sort, designed so the eggs that are lain in them roll out and are collected automatically. Still a nasty smelly stinky place though. But then we have the next designation, FREE RANGE. This means that the barn with that same hundred thousand chickens in it has a door in it that leads to the outside world, and even though the outside might be a cement slab, it's still there. So basically, not a lot of difference, but then we have the last designation for eggs, PASTURE RAISED. These chickens are living in Beverly Hills. They still might be stupid chickens and act like the Clampets on steroids at times, but they're living the dream life. Pasture raised birds generally have a relatively large area per bird in which to do natural chicken behaviors which is to peck and scratch for bugs and grubs, eat grass and weed seeds and crap where ever they want and not have to stand in it. The pasture normally has mobile coops where at night the chickens go to roost and to lay their eggs. In high production farms, the eggs are collected automatically. The advantages of this system for raising eggs are dramatic. No huge mounds of chicken waste piling up and stinking. The manure actually goes back to the land naturally and improves the soil. Insects, weeds, pests and problems are gone. There are no transportation costs associated with
trucking in huge amounts of grains grown on land fertilized with petrochemicals and sprayed with insecticides and herbicides. Plus, the big one, even though the price is higher, people pay that higher price because the quality of the product is far far greater than the insipid crappy industrial eggs listed above. The picture is of a box of eggs that some friends of mine in Austin started raising a few years ago. They do things right. Vital Farms, they are in all the Whole Foods in the country and I recommend them. However, here is a listing and rating of most of the better kinds of eggs available. (Egg Report Card)  The other alternative is to do what I do, which is go to the local farmers market and get to know the people there. All the markets have people that raise chickens and sell the eggs. Local farmers have found the advantages of raising chickens on their farms. The stupid things go out there and eat all the bugs and grubs and weed seeds and fertilize the ground. Hunh, ain't that something. And for doing all that for the farmer, they then give them a bunch of eggs that they laid. It's almost as if it's the natural cycle of things. Almost.

Lastly, just a word about the color of eggs. Brown eggs are not in anyway any indication as to the quality or wholesomeness of the eggs. Egg shell color is a function of the variety of the chicken that laid it. For decades the modern American shopper wanted clean white sterile looking eggs, and so producers used those hens that laid white eggs. But eggs come in white, brown, blue and green. All are good, and all depend on how they are raised and what they are fed as to what quality and ultimately how they taste.

Well, there's one more thing I want to talk about, and that's the unnatural side of eggs. Some one some where decided that since eggs are natural repositories for the beneficial
Omega 3 fatty acids that our bodies need; that it should be possible to artificially increase the amount in eggs by feeding the chickens chemicals. And so they did, and thus has begun an industry that claims to promote greater health, but in reality no such claims have ever been tested, nor the methods used been subjected to any sort of scrutiny. 

But then again, that's the way it is here in America


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scientific Research, differences in academic, pure science and commercial research

I loved academic life, I really did. So much cool equipment to play with, spending time making electron micrographs for truly important research. Well, and coeds, halter tops and shorty shorts, I was an American guy, of course I loved the academic life. But then reality overtook the fantasy world and marriage, home, family all became more important than impressing buxom coeds with statistical analysis of their, well, never mind that. And my life went in a different direction. Now, in the winter of my life, I find myself going back to those carefree days, not so much for the attraction of the opposite sex, but to learn as much as I can. The internet is an amazing thing, so much knowledge, so much research and so much information is out there, available for us to utilize with just a few quick keystrokes and in many instances (and for the very best info) membership in the elite consortium of humans that are rightfully allowed to place initials after their names. It's there that a major portion of published articles written by researchers, grad students and paid minions of the corporate world are available to be used as reference work and for the enlightenment of all. Well again, all that have initials after their name and the annual fee to allow access. It's here within these convocations of knowledge that we find the true plethora of information. We also find tons of stuff that makes us scratch our heads and go "What the Fuck?"

To begin, on September 17, Forbes magazine published an article that stated that the controversy over Genetically Modified Food is finally over and that there is a definitive report published in the Journal of Animal Science (Everything is wondrous report) that states that out of trillions of meals consisting of GM crops eaten by humans and production feed animals, no one anywhere has ever died or gotten sick from the Genetically Modified food. The conclusion, Genetically Modified Food is perfectly safe. That sort of thinking is very similar to the Dr. Seuss method of logic. However, there are other indicators that for many people the GM food controversy is over, the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP site) claims that there are over 2000 scientific studies done on Genetically Modified food crops and that GM foods are the most studied, most tested, most researched products in human history. 2000 studies, and every single one concludes that the technology behind the creation of new life forms is infallible. The Genetic Food industry pays them to tell us that. Plus just the mere fact that trillions of meals consisting of GM foods have been consumed without any deaths or serious illnesses by animals and humans proves conclusively that GM foods are safe. Let me just start the rebuttal with this quote,
"It is often claimed that “trillions of GM meals” have been eaten in the US with no ill effects. However, no epidemiological studies in human populations have been carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated with GM food consumption. As GM foods are not labelled in North America, a major producer and consumer of GM crops, it is scientifically impossible to trace, let alone study, patterns of consumption and their impacts. Therefore, claims that GM foods are safe for human health based on the experience of North American populations have no scientific basis."  Yeah, that's from the European Network of Scientists (ENSSER.org) It isn't proof, it is merely logic.

However, let's take this assumption a step further, and look at the health of Americans. I've been told that Americans live longer, and are healthier than ever before in the history of this country. And that probably is true, and it's also true that Americans eat more Genetically Modified food products and more meat produced via the method for meat production of feeding animals Genetically Modified food products than any other country. So with our high standard of living, why are Americans when compared to the rest of the world, only 35th in life expectancy? And why don't Americans have the lowest infant mortality in the world instead of being the 34th in infant mortality? There are no clear cut answers to those questions, and even I admit that no clear definitive conclusions can be drawn from those three facts, amount of consumption and rates of death for adults and infants. It is not clear, it is simply logic. Bright glaring logic.

So now we get back to those two thousand studies showing that GM foods are safe. There's a website you can go to, (GENERA) which was built for the express purpose of cataloguing all of the research done on Genetically Engineered Organisms, a sort of repository of triumphant bravado for those scientists performing the miracles of creating new life forms. And as a big publicity notch in the belt of the GM industry, anyone can go there, anyone can get the information. It's just a little hard to utilize their search format and there is no actual "LIST" per se for anyone to just look at, and count. So I went to the FASS list which gives us one thousand seven hundred and sixty research papers about Genetically Modified crops. Now comes the tough part, none of that research has anything to do with human health. It seems that 62% are all about environmental impacts. 37% are all about actual production data for the business side of using GM feed, meaning that the reports are all about how much milk dairy cows gave depending on the percentage of GM feed is one example. Literally, there are hundreds of research papers about how little difference there is in meat, milk and egg production when feeding GM feed as opposed to feeding non-GM feeds. The actual fact is that none of those animals used for production of those products live very long. And the animals that are raised strictly for meat, live even shorter lives. So, with that in mind, less than one percent (27) are about doing specific health related studies with histopathological investigations of subject animals to determine any detrimental effects of having a GM feed diet. The scary part of this information is that over half of this small group of studies were published, in one case nine years, after the USDA approval for the GM crop was given. The reality is that the USDA has given approval for commercial use of 47 different GM crops. Studies for nine of those crops can be found on the internet within these 27 studies. None of the feeding studies done by the corporations seeking approval of their newest creations are available to the public or to scientists anywhere in the world for any kind of systematic review. That is, if they were actually done, we don't know, we aren't allowed to see them. So what about those 27 studies, do they definitely prove one way or another the viability of using GM crops for food production or to actually feed to humans? No. But here is what some researchers for the Elsevier Ltd group wrote about 21 of the studies. (Elsevier) It's not pretty.

This is from their conclusions,"The majority of studies reviewed lacked a unified approach in their methodology and results making it impossible to properly review or repeat these studies. Furthermore such lack of detail makes it difficult to generate evidence based guidelines to aid in the delivery of an optimum safety assessment for GM crops for animal and human consumption."


I don't know, I like the Elsevier Group, somewhere back in the dark and dusty annals of their archives is a little read (and rarely purchased) copy of a thesis about mushroom substrate alkalinity for which the publishing of gave to one internet blogger whacko the ability to put two initials after his name. And access to a lot of information as well. But, that aside done, we need to address the statement from the beginning of this bit of drivel. What is the the basis for scientific research? There are three types of research, academic, like the stuff I did. Pure theoretical science, like the stuff those guys on The Big Bang Theory TV show do, although that might be classed as academic as well. And then there is Commercial research. This is stuff done at labs owned by corporations or contracted out to private labs by corporations and pretty much all of it is done for the express purpose of achieving regulatory approval for a specific thing, be it crops, drugs or food additives. Virtually all commercial research is done knowing what the results are going to be even before the research starts. Academic research is done generally with the intent to gain new knowledge. Both cost a lot of money.

What is the true basis of scientific research? Science, research, is all about getting money to pay the bills. Yeah, draw your own conclusions about that from the available data and what you personally believe people will do for money. Me, I believe in the reality of greed. This is a very different aspect of research, but the big drug companies have been in hot water with the FDA to the tune of 30 billion dollars in fines for falsifying data in their research just since 2000. I'm not really sure that sort of blatant greed is limited to the pharmacology industry. But ultimately it's up to each of us individually to believe what we feel is right for ourselves.