Author Archives: mason

GMO Series cont. – The Dangers of GMO’s in Food

I started to write about the dangers of GMOs in food and quickly got overwhelmed. There is so much happening in the world about which we have no idea. I broke the dangers down to 3 major victims – Environment, Humans, and Economies and one philosophical.

Environment – First, the primary GMO foods were created to withstand herbicide and pesticide applications. Naturally, or rather, completely unnaturally, this has led to the application of 318 million additional pounds of toxic chemicals onto our land than would have been even possible before GMOs. Most of these chemicals are known carcinogens, known persistent environmental pollutants, and known to wreak havoc on ecosystems. These GMO plants are showing up in the wild, eaten by animals, and work their way up the food chain with no idea their effect. Well, some idea of their effect because studies prove them to create ulcers in pigs and hair on hamster tongues. Also, over-application of pesticides has led to super-weeds and super-pests. They have to put down stronger and more toxic chemicals (creating new GMOs to resist them) and some don’t die at all. Last major point is GMOs and the associated chemical applications reduce bio-diversity in all eco-systems.

Humans – The obvious danger is the increased exposure to herbicides/pesticides – both the workers with acute exposure, and to everyone else who eats the foods. It’s indisputable that these herbicides/pesticides end up in the food. Environmental Working Group tests produce every year and publishes how many/which pesticides/herbicides show up in our food. Beyond that, studies are piling up showing that our bodies don’t recognize these GMOs as food and try to reject them. Evidence is mounting that this plays some role in the explosion of food allergies. There are also studies showing direct damage to organs (including studies done by Monsanto, the maker of the GMOs).

Economies – Monsanto won’t let you save seeds from GMO crops. You have to buy them every year. For rural farmers this is a huge burden. But that’s just the beginning. They can’t stop GMOs from spreading naturally in the wild. But if they find it on your land they sue you. The Future of Food is a great movie about this and how it has decimated farming communities.

Lastly, Humanity – The ultimate victim. Monsanto was the first company to OWN LIFE. They can’t control it or stop it from evolving on its own, but they OWN it. If life is not sacred, the implications are quite profound. How long before they own you? Next week I will address the false propaganda about the benefits of GMOs in food. We have received negative feedback to these articles citing supposed world-saving benefits, but nobody has responded to my challenge to produce evidence of the benefits. We’ll also chat about how to avoid GMOs.

By Mason Arnold, founder and Cookie Monster

Advertisements

Meet Jim & Kay Richardson, Farmer Hero and Local Turkey Extraordinaires

Jim and Kay Richardson of Richardson Farms know how to treat turkeys right (and cows, pigs, and chickens, and even a few ducks). The animals pursue happiness on the range, in mobile pens, and in as happy a circumstance as nature can provide on their 200-acre farm near Rockdale. That’s western Milam County about four miles west of the Williamson County line.

Richardson provides all of Greenling’s local turkeys for the holidays – and they are a hot item: they sell out by early November, and the difference between serving a happy, local, free-range bird opposed to a processed, shipped, frozen gobbler cannot be described until you have tasted the difference.

But Jim, a veterinarian that practiced in Bowie, Texas for 25 years, says the real difference is the quality of life the turkey enjoys. They’re raised in mobile pens, moved just about every day, fed alfalfa and other homegrown grasses, and they’re a perky bunch.

“These can fly about six feet off the ground and then they come back,” Jim says of the broad-breasted white turkeys that gather at the edge of one of their mobile pens, curious about a new visitor. Jim described the challenges of keeping the poultry safe in a free-range environment – challenges including skunks, hawks, coyotes, and the weather.

Richardson Farms also has free range chickens, many very large, what Jim calls “a big chicken.” In quality and size and taste, the chickens rival his turkeys.

“We grow the feed and grind it here,” Jim says as his grandson Logan shows off the eggmobile and his chicken coop. Logan has a serious dislike for the skunks and particularly likes the blue eggs from the Americana chickens.

“Blue is my favorite color,” Logan adds.

The turkeys live together in pens with both females and males. The males have distinctive markings, including snoods angling over their beaks and a mottled skin over their face and neck that changes color according to their mood.

The mobile turkey pens are arranged all across the farm, which is ringed by a line of trees – one of the elements that led Jim and Kay to buy the property in 2001. They planted row upon row of Live Oak, Red Oak, and Mexican White Oak back then, and he says he hasn’t lost a tree, despite the longest Texas drought on record. And it’s a straight-up, dry land farm – no irrigation. Richardson raises wheat for flour, zucchini, popcorn, corn, and other vegetables, but his main focus is the quality of life of his livestock.

As Jim peeled off some his own homegrown hay for his baby pigs to keep warm despite a coming cold front, he explained his philosophy about raising animals.

“They really want to be friends with you. They’re kind of like the turkey. The turkey wants to be your friend, too,” he says. “The dang chickens don’t have enough sense to be friends… You know, we never are ugly to them, and we try to just make them have the best day of their life every day.”

That kind of loving care is what makes Richardson Farms turkeys the best of the best.

by Cody Garrett, Ham Hustler

Meatless Monday: Gemelli w/ Yellow Squash & Peas

Try this one-pot meal for an easy dinner to start the week! The light, creamy sauce and touch of lemon really let the flavors of the veggies shine here. If you don’t have gemelli, any short pasta will work!

Martha Stewart’s Gemelli w/ Yellow Squash & Peas

Recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces gemelli or other short pasta
3 medium yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than al dente. Add squash and peas; cook until squash is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta mixture, and return to pot.

To mixture in pot, add butter, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. If needed, add enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Stir in basil, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan; serve immediately.

Meatless Monday: Basil Pesto Pasta w/ Zucchini & Mint

One of our favorite dinners to start off the week is pasta, because it often yields leftovers to take for lunch the rest of the week. Using fresh pesto for the sauce makes it deliciously simple too! Pine nuts can be expensive, so you can try substituting toasted walnuts or almonds and it will still be tasty.

This recipe from Real Simple can be prepared and on the table in under 30 minutes, plus we can utilize the hearty local summer squash from the Local Box. Enjoy and let us know what you think if you try it!

Basil Pesto Pasta w/ Zucchini & Mint

From RealSimple.com

Serves 4

Basil Pesto Pasta With Zucchini and Mint

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, place the garlic, pine nuts, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. While the machine is running, drizzle in 2/3 cup of the oil through the feed tube, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the mint.
  4. Divide the pasta among bowls and spoon the pesto and zucchini over the top.

By Sara Quessenberry,  May 2007

Customer Recipe: Cucumber Dill Soup

Here’s another great customer submitted recipe for a refreshing late summer soup. We love to share culinary inspiration, keep them coming!

Curah writes –

Had to pass on this recipe that I tried out last week when my girlfriends came over. We wanted to do a light dinner of cool salads and a summer soup .. so I decided to try my hand at a cool cucumber dill soup.  It was super EASY and very cool and refreshing.

Cucumber Dill Soup

4 large cucumbers — peeled, seeded and chopped. (reserve a small amount for garnish if desired)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
Juice of Half a Lemon (or lime)
2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp chopped parsley
Mint for garnish

Process cucumbers in blender or food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (minus mint) and pulse to combine. Chill soup about 1 hour. Serve in chilled bowls and garnish with mint sprigs and chopped cucumber (optional)

Thanks for sharing Curah!

Meet Farmer Hero Jeff Wylie

Jeff Wylie of Bar W Ranch

At the – W Ranch (pronounced Bar W) in Mullin, Texas, Jeff Wylie is putting in his fourth summer of growing fruits and vegetables. He’s tending several acres of summer squash, black-eyed peas, and cucumbers, and is preparing ground for winter squash, pumpkins, and more. Rows of fruit trees run along the perimeter, and a line of trees marks the creek — the force responsible for creating the deep, rich soil he’s farming.

“It’s like chocolate cake for like six feet down,” Wylie said as he drove along the creek. His dogs came running up after the truck, Bell, the beagle, a little late and a little wet, having stopped for a dip in the lake his grandfather built years ago.

Jeff’s grandfather, Ed Wylie, bought the ranch in the 1960’s and had the foresight to build in a gravity-fed irrigation system that guides the nutrient-rich bottom waters of the lake through to the lowlands by the creek, and Jeff operates a strict, drip-system irrigation to his thirsty plants.

Jeff’s father, Don Wylie, insisted that he fence off the area if he was serious about a vegetable farm, since anybody familiar with west Texas knows that the deer are the real proprietors (and since the rest of the 600-acre ranch is dedicated to cattle). Jeff spent a lot of time building tall fences, but it worked, and he says now he hopes his days as a fencer are over.

Clearly the effort paid off. Over six acres are fenced in and half of those are planted with vegetables in that chocolate-cake-soil. Jeff and a few employees have created a sustainable vegetable farm in the midst of cattle country.
“None of this was down here four years ago when I started,” he says.
Peach, pluot, apricot, and other fruit trees are reaching maturity in the field alongside row upon row of precious vegetables. In the fall, Jeff expects to harvest carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips, among other crops. We can’t wait to try them!

by Cody Garrett, Ham Hustler

Read more about Jeff in Edible Austin

Meatless Monday: Mixed Vegetable Curry

This simple veggie curry from Martha Stewart only requires 20 minutes prep time and is easy to double for leftovers for the week. The classic combo of okra and tomatoes gives it a great seasonal flavor. We’re going to try adding summer squash to make it even more hearty, and probably a veggie bouillon cube or 2 to enrich the flavor.

From MarthaStewart.com

Mixed Vegetable Curry
Serves 4

Martha says:
The vibrant spices in this vegetarian dish give it a great depth of flavor. If you like, serve the curry with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds total), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 pound okra, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, for serving

Directions

  1. In a food processor, puree ginger and garlic with 1/4 cup water until mostly smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add mustard seed and cumin seed and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ginger-garlic paste; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until beginning to break down, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and 3 1/2 cups water; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to high and boil until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Fold in cauliflower and okra, partially cover, and cook until tender, 9 to 10 minutes. Serve curry with rice.

Cook’s Note

To build the curry’s flavor, start by cooking the spices in oil to release their aroma. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook until dry and thickened.