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Friday, November 30, 2012

Recap of November 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting and Review of the 2012 Wise Traditions Conference


The Pasadena CA Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation
with Sally Fallon Morell at the 2012 Wise Traditions Conference
Back Row:  Jen Hawley, volunteer; Ramanuj Basu, Chapter
Communications and Raw Milk Institute Board of Directors;
Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation;
Karen Voelkening-Behegan, Pasadena CA Chapter Leader;
Elaina Luther, Culture Club 101 and Raw Milk Institute Board of Directors;
Monica Ford, Real Food Devotee and Wise Entrepreneurs
speaker at the 2012 Wise Traditions conference;
Jamil Avdiyev, High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods.
Front Row:  Jeannette Wu, volunteer;  Aaron Zober, host of
The Appropriate Omnivore radio show;
Joy Stefoni Fisher, WAPF-Pasadena mom-to-be!
by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

November 2012 was a big month for the Pasadena CA Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Not only did the annual Wise Traditions conference come to California, but 17 of us from our chapter attended. On the right is our chapter photo at the conference with Sally Fallon Morell, President, Treasurer and Co-Founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, author of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and editor of the Wise Traditions journal.  Out of the 17 of us who attended the conference, not everyone made it to the photo opportunity, but at least 7 contributed to a group 
presentation about the conference
at our November potluck dinner
meeting.  
Sally Fallon Morell with Jolie Assina
at the Coconut Cow Exhibit
at the 2012 Wise Traditions Conference

At the chapter meeting, after announcements were made, Chapter Leader Karen Voelkening-Behegan started off the evening with a story about her encounter with fellow chapter member and conference exhibitor Jolie Assina of Coconut Cow, and Sally Fallon.   At the Coconut Cow exhibit at the conference, Sally Fallon showed great interest in Jolie's upcoming talk at our chapter meeting in January about the health benefits and politics of tropical oils.

Three of our members who attended the conference, Ram Basu, Jenn Hawley, and Elaina Luther, helped host the exhibit for the Raw Milk Institute (RawMI) at the conference, and gave us an update on the status of RawMI at our potluck dinner meeting.  As RawMI Board Members Ram and Elaina explained, The Raw Milk Institute now has its first farmer member with several more in line to join, many out of the state of Oregon.  Some benefits of joining the Institute include:  improvements in the quality and safety of raw milk, more consumer interest in the product, and better insurance rates for farmers who produce raw milk, to name a few.
Sally Fallon Morell with Gladys Batan

One of our newer members, Gladys Batan, made us a Power Point presentation of lessons learned from the conference, including some innovative slides illustrating how food in this country is primarily a financial commodity, grown without any mind to nutrition.  She then went over some of the main points from Sally Fallon's all-day lectures about traditional diets and how they enhance our health and well-being.  Gladys also showed us some photos from the "Native Ways" track of the conference, including highlights from the "Acorn Lady" who demonstrated how native Californians prepared foods from locally-gathered acorns.

Next, Monica Ford, aka Real Food Devote, gave us a nice overview of her time at the conference, including some photos of her debut as a Conference Presenter. Congrats to Monica on a job well done addressing a full audience on how to start and run a real food business!  Monica hopes that soon we will all be able to travel anywhere in the USA and find wholesome, healthy, traditionally-prepared foods wherever we go.  Monica also shared some beautiful photos of her trip to Chaffin Family Orchards.

Aaron Zober, host of the local radio show "The Appropriate Omnivore" spoke next and shared his photos of many of the exhibitors and presenters at the conference, including several that he interviewed for his show.  To top off the evening, Aaron followed up with some mouth-watering images of the meals served at the conference, with enticing descriptions of the beautifully prepared foods made with fresh, locally and sustainably grown ingredients.

It was fun to relive the excitement of the conference, and hear about the parts we all missed.  The annual Wise Traditions conference has become so large now that it offers at least 4-5 different tracks at any given moment, every day.  Some of the tracks for this year's conference included:  Nourishing Traditional Diets, Gut & Psychology Syndrome, Nutrition & Behavior, the Science of Farming, Traditional Cooking, Native Ways, Wise Entrepreneurs, Wellness, and Nutrition.  The conference really explores all the connections between our foods, our environment, and our bodies; from growing the crops & raising the animals, to harvesting the food products, preparing and serving them, consuming them, and reaping their health benefits.  

Though we didn't have time to adequately discuss the conference's theme, "Nutrition and Behavior," rest assured that the message rang loud and clear throughout many of the scientific lectures at the conference.  Every theme-based lecture at the conference highlighted the importance of certain nutrients for their critical roles in mental health.  Not surprisingly, the declining state of mental health and happiness in the western world today can be directly traced to deficiencies in these nutrients, all of which are plentiful in traditional diets. Consistently we were shown that the foods we need to eat for good mental health include whole animals with the skin, bones, organs, and fats, raw dairy, fermented foods, sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains, and even tropical oils.  As Dr. Weston A. Price observed, the people he encountered consuming traditional diets were not only stronger and healthier in general, they also had brighter, calmer, and more cheerful dispositions,  Their babies didn't cry as much, and violent crimes and mental illness were unheard of.  In fact, in many of these cultures, there was no need to incarcerate anyone, so prisons simply did not exist.

Near the end of our chapter meeting, important mention was also given to the inspiring Closing Ceremony of the conference when Jeffery Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology highlighted how far we've come in the battle to label foods containing genetically modified organisms or GMOs.  Though Prop 37 in California didn't pass, it nearly passed, and even more importantly, it inspired many other states to start their own initiatives.  As far as Jeffrey is concerned, we may have lost this one battle, but we certainly are winning the war against GMOs, and all future generations of humans, plants, and animals will thank us for our efforts.  What an inspiring ending to a truly awesome conference!

As the leader of this chapter, I am proud to be part of such an active community that is truly embracing the lessons of Dr. Weston A. Price and the foundation in his name.   Clearly, participation in this movement is growing in the Pasadena area, as more and more people seek local and traditional foods, start businesses, and use traditional foods to improve their health.  If our growing attendance at the conferences is any measure, then we're surely on the right track to a healthier and more sustainable future.  In 2008, the last time the conference was held in California, our chapter was just an idea, with a few Pasadena area attendees who didn't know each other.  Last year at the conference in Dallas, maybe 5 of us attended and brought home some great experiences to share with our fellow members.  This year our attendance rose to 17, many of whom were active participants in the conference, volunteering, representing great organizations like the Raw Milk Institute, presenting, and exhibiting.  

In fact, by being active participants at the conference, we're also actively increasing our area's knowledge of this health-giving, science-based, ecologically-sustainable, and delicious lifestyle.  By supporting local farmers and traditional food businesses, we're increasing our area's demand for traditional foods and inspiring others to do the same.  Let's hope that by the next time the Wise Traditions conference comes to California, we'll be able to boast even more traditional farms and food businesses in our area, a greater knowledge base, and even better attendance!  ( … not to mention a healthier and happier community!)

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2012 Wise Traditions conference and supported the mission of the Weston A. Price Foundation this year!

~ Your Chapter Leader,  Karen


Friday, November 2, 2012

Recap of October 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods


by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Another one of our tasty and informative potluck dinner meetings took place at Nature Friends Clubhouse in October.  This time, our guest speaker was Jamil Avdiyev talking about High Brix nutrient-dense produce grown on nutrient-replenished soil.

In the past century, the nutrient content of our soils has been so depleted by poor agricultural practices that most of our foods, whether from plants or animals, have shown a steep decline in mineral density.  From 1930 to 1990, for example, the calcium content of our soil has decreased an average of 50-75%, while the trace mineral content of our soil has decreased an average of 50-90%, depending on the region.  Jamil explained that the mineral content of the soil carries over to the food we eat.  Both plants and animals absorb minerals, so the fewer minerals available in the soil, the poorer the soil ecosystem, and the lower the nutrient-density of both our produce and our animal products. 



But why are minerals so important?  Aren’t there other micro- and macronutrients to be gained from our foods?  Jamil gave us the answer:  Minerals build not only the tissues and structures of our foods, they also build the enzymes and vitamins we need to assimilate our foods.  So if the food is low in minerals, it will also be low in enzymes and vitamins too.  Minerals also keep our foods strong, healthy, and disease resistant, and pass those traits along to us.  In fact, the cultures with the most mineral-rich diets also show the least disease and the greatest longevity. 



Jamil’s slideshow presentation was loaded with charts and graphs and photos illustrating his point.  He also passed around a refractometer, a small instrument used to measure the the total dissolved solids in produce, including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and other phytochemicals.  To show us how it worked, Jamil simply squeezed some juice from a lemon into the device and then passed it around for each of us to view.  He proudly stated that in his produce, his aim is to get the nutrient-density to go off the charts!  Organics, move over!   Certified Organic foods are no competition for High-Brix nutrient dense foods.  Even highly-priced organic produce sold in health food stores will generally score very low in nutrient-density.  Though it may be free of toxins and grown without synthetic pesticides, as long as it comes from nutrient-depleted soil, organic produce is no more nutritious for you than standard grocery store fair.  Just buy a refractometer and test it for yourself!


To find the best and most health-promoting foods, make sure that your produce is grown on nutrient-rich soil and your animal products come from nutrient-rich pastures.  Your health and your palate will thank you.  The High Brix nutrient-dense blueberries Jamil shared at the meeting were delicious!   For those who are interested, he's taking orders and would be happy to deliver them at our monthly meetings.

If you search for this type of food online, just note that it goes by a variety of names including:  High Brix nutrient-dense farming, nutrient-dense farming, nutrition farming, bionutrient-rich farming, and even biological farming, to name a few.  Sometimes it's even referred to as bio-dynamic farming, though they're not the same thing.  But the main point is, you can always check your produce with a refractometer.  If you find that the produce you're buying is nutrient-deficient, then look for a farmer who sells High Brix nutrient-dense foods.  And if you're interested in growing your own nutrient-dense garden, Jamil recommends getting your supplies from the following website:  http://www.tandjenterprises.com/.    Then as you replenish your soil, you can watch the nutrient-density of your harvest rise as your health well-being improves. 

Thank you, Jamil for an excellent presentation, filled with great information that was professionally and delightfully delivered! 



To contact Jamil or to get more information about High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods, go to Jamil’s website at:  http://highbrixnutrientdensefoods.com/



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And don't forget, you have a right to know what's in your food, so Vote YES on Prop 37 on Tuesday, to get GMOs labeled once and for all!  For more information, go to:  http://www.carighttoknow.org/

Also, there's still time to register and attend the next Wise Traditions Conference coming up  next week in Santa Clara, CA.  For more info, go to:  http://westonaprice.org/2012-conference/2012-conference.  If you can't make it, then be sure to attend our next potluck dinner meeting on Wed 11/28/12 to hear all about the conference!

Lastly, please remember our East Coast neighbors, and if you can help them in their recovery efforts from Tropical Storm Sandy, you may want to check out a few reputable charities at:  http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/give-to-charity/hurricane-sandy-recovery.aspx#expert-rec

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Thank you!

Your Chapter Leader, 

~ Karen



Friday, September 28, 2012

Recap of September 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: Genetic Roulette

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

In September, our group got together at our regular spot at Nature Friends Clubhouse in Sierra Madre. Announcements and introductions were short, as we had a film on our agenda. In keeping with the politics of the day,15-20 of us enjoyed our potluck dinner upstairs while we watched Jeffrey Smith's new documentary, "Genetic Roulette." Based on his book of the same name, and produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology, this film provides all kinds of evidence for the detrimental effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

At the end of the film, I encouraged everyone to order a copy and show it to their friends.  If each of us show the film to just a few of our friends and associates, we could all make a difference in getting GMOs labeled once and for all.  With less than 2 months until the vote on Proposition 37, we need to get the word out.   

For more information about the film, or to order a copy, go to: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/.  

To read a couple positive reviews of the film, go to:
  
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LwbT1Rahci2zYW4CDBc_w6rz92_II7xlwf-BMyXBEDk/preview

http://www.naturalnews.com/037272_Genetic_Roulette_movie_GMO.htmlhttp://momsforsafefood.net/2012/09/09/genetic-roulette-movie-review/

And if you can find any negative reviews of the film that are not written by anyone affiliated with or influenced by Montsanto or any biotech companies, please let me know!  I highly doubt you'll find one!

Best wishes avoiding GMOs and spreading the word to everyone you know who plans to vote in the California elections this November.

~ Your Chapter Leader,  Karen



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Recap of August 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: The Pasadena Farmers Market


by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our August meeting took place at Nature Friends Clubhouse in Sierra Madre with about 15-20 folks braving the heat and traffic to participate.  After dinner, special guest Daphne Sterling from the Pasadena Farmers Markets gave us the inside scoop about how the markets are run.  Most of us learned the difference between "CA-certified" markets, "Ag-certified" vendors, and "Organically-certified" produce.  



Without going into the exact legal definitions of each term, we learned that "Ag Certification" refers to certification by the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures that the produce is free of pesticides.  This can actually be a step above organic certification because the "certified organic" label allows the use of some pesticides.  "CA Farmers Market Certification" simply means that the market is certified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to have the majority of its vendors selling produce they grow themselves in California.  In non-certified markets, the vendors may sell products from anywhere, but in the CA-certified Farmers Markets, the products must be home-grown.  Also the small proportion of vendors at the markets who do not meet the locally-grown standards must be located in their own separate section of the market.   In the case of the Pasadena Farmers Market at Victory Park, the non-certified vendors are located at the northwest wing of the market.  All other vendors at the market are local farmers selling locally-grown produce.



Thanks to Daphne, we now know that the Pasadena Farmers Markets are among the rare few that are not only "CA-certified" but also "Ag-certified!"  Inspectors from the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures keep both the farmers and market managers honest by dropping in regularly and unexpectedly, disguised as normal shoppers.  Everything they buy is tested for pesticides, and if any are found, the vendors lose their certifications.  But true to the integrity of the market, in spite years of undisclosed inspections, there has never been a violation of their pesticide-free standards.  And Daphne assured us, that the waiting list to get into the market is so long, that if any farmer was ever found to use pesticides, they would immediately be fired, and another farmer would be happy to take their space.  So if you're looking for produce that's sure to be both local and pesticide-free, then the CA-certified Pasadena Farmers Markets are the place to shop.  





Sometimes the produce may seem pricier than what you find in the supermarket, but we also learned from Daphne that supermarket produce has little to no profit margin, so stores are selling the stuff dirt cheap because they know they'll get profits from everything else they sell, like processed food, alcohol, cleaning supplies, and health & beauty products.  If the produce in supermarkets were as high quality as what you get from local CA-certified Farmers Markets with Ag-certified vendors, that might be a great deal.  But such low prices can not support healthy food.  For example, by Federal Law, any produce entering the US from another country must be irradiated.  That means that the exotic imported organic produce you buy at health food stores must have been irradiated!  And that's why it has no flavor and little to no nutritional value.  But even in regular grocery stores that sell US produce, any produce cheap enough to be sold at supermarket prices, though not necessarily irradiated, is usually industrially-grown, non-local, non-seasonal, and therefore also very low in both nutrients and flavor.   In other words, you get what you pay for!



So if you live in the Pasadena area, do yourself, your health, the environment, and our local economy a favor by shopping for all your produce at the CA-certified Pasadena Farmers Markets. Thank you, Daphne for enlightening us with the knowledge of how lucky we are to have such wonderful, ethical, and health-conscious Farmers Markets right in our own back yard.  Now let's get out, get shopping, and spread the word!


For more information about the CA-certified Pasadena Farmers Markets, go to: http://www.pasadenafarmersmarket.org/pasadena_farmers_market_about_us.html


PS - If you'd like to vote for the "Pasadena Farmers Market at Victory Park" in Pasadena Weekly's annual Best of Pasadena Poll, the last day to vote is today, September 1st.  To place your vote, go to: http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/index/.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Recap of July 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: East Asian Night!


by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

The theme of our July meeting was East Asian Night.   I was happy to host a group of about 30 of us at my home in Sierra Madre.  And as luck would have it, we received a surprise visit from special guest Sandrine Hahn, founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and creator of the Nourishing Our Children program.

This time we held the demonstrations right after introductions, mostly because the dishes being demonstrated were on the dinner menu.  First, Jaye Park showed us how to prepare a Korean buckwheat noodle salad made with plenty of fresh veggies and dashes of both fermented plum sauce and fermented pomegranate juice.  Then, Jeanette Wu lead a demo of a Chinese stir fried pork.  As she worked, she explained the art of stir frying and how important it is to lightly cook the meat first, remove it from the wok, and then add the veggies one by one, in order of the length of cooking time.  As tradition would have it, the vegetables in a stir fry all need to be sliced in the same shape and thickness, partially for cooking uniformity, and partially due to cultural preference:  either cubes or strips, but never both!  In the end, Jeanette added back the cooked marinated pork, and after a few taste tests and seasoning adjustments, the stir fry was done!  Everyone enjoyed both dishes amidst a vast collection of Asian flavors.  I was impressed to see how all of our guests stepped up to the challenge to contribute complementary dishes!  Every food at the potluck included Asian flavors, with plenty of sauces, rice, ginger, spring rolls, fermented fish, and some coconut and lychee deserts to top it all off!   We even had some ginger beer, white wine, and warm & cold sake to complement the meal.

After dinner, instead of holding the normal presentations, we opened the floor to announcements, and held some great discussions about the issues at hand, including: the GMO-labeling initiative (now known as Prop 37!); the latest developments with the Raw Milk Institute as reported by the newest member of its Board of Directors, fellow member Ram Basu (congrats, Ram!); a new buyer's group being founded by fellow member Sam Wu; and plans to bring a larger SoCal contingent to this year's upcoming Wise Traditions conference in Santa Clara, CA.  At the end of the announcement period, 5 friends of our chapter participated in a drawing for a free paid membership with the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Congratulations to the lucky winner, Sam Cooper!  And thanks to our chapter members for pitching in to help make this new membership possible.

After some great discussions, we ended the meeting with a Q&A session on the foods demonstrated earlier in the evening.  For Jaye, most questions involved the sauces and fermentations she used, where she got her ingredients, and how to make fermented pomegranate juice.  For Jeanette, questions were directed to hubby Sam who had procured the pastured pork.  Most questions for Sam involved the proper and traditional preparation of pork.  Reference was made to an article published in the Fall 2011 issue of Wise Traditions magazine which showed a healthier blood cell response to properly prepared pork over uncured pork (even pastured). The uncured pork caused red blood cells to coagulate or bunch up,  interrupting optimal blood flow for hours after consumption, whereas the properly prepared pork had no detrimental effect on blood flow or coagulation.  To see the article and get more information about the proper preparation of pork, go to:   http://www.westonaprice.org/cardiovascular-disease/how-does-pork-prepared-in-various-ways-affect-the-blood.  

The lesson of the evening:  Grandmother knows best!  There truly seems to be some great wisdom wrapped into the culinary traditions of our ancestors, which modern science is only beginning to understand.  Thanks to the Weston A. Price Foundation for continually bringing this to light.  All the more reason to practice traditional culinary techniques, whatever your ethnic background! 

All in all, the meeting flowed very nicely, and everyone seemed to enjoy the looser structure with more opportunity to talk.  Based on how well the meeting went, it's clear that a before-dinner demo followed by an after-dinner Q&A session is a winning formula for future Ethnic Nights.  Our group has so much to offer, and thoughtful discussions at our meetings are a wonderful opportunity to bring out the knowledge and experience of our members and friends.  

Thank you to everyone for going out of your way to contribute both fitting and flavorful dishes to enhance our East Asian Night.  And special thanks to our presenters Jaye Park and Sam and Jeanette Wu who shared their knowledge about and experience with traditional East Asian Foods.  Finally, Happy Travels to our friend from San Francisco and creator of the Nourishing Our Children program, Sandrine Hahn.  It was an honor to have Sandrine pay us a visit at our July meeting, and we look forward to seeing her again at the Wise Traditions conference in Santa Clara this fall!  

Until we meet again, get out and explore your culinary heritage!  Happy Traditions!

~ Your Chapter Leader, Karen Voelkening-Behegan


Monday, July 9, 2012

Recap of June 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: Farmageddon

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

This month, thanks go out to Elaina Luther of Culture Club 101 in Pasadena for hosting our June meeting, and to local WAPF member Ram Basu for setting up our online RSVP page for this event.  Thank you both, Elaina and Ram!  And thanks also to Theresa Cardinali for delivering an important message to the group about our Ethnic Nights.

As your chapter leader, I'm grateful to our active and enthusiastic community for keeping the fire burning when I have to be out of town.  The June 2012 meeting was the first I've ever missed, so if anyone has any news to report from the gathering, please let me know, and I'll post it.  

For others who were also unable to attend, the group enjoyed a potluck dinner followed by some important announcements.  The highlight of the evening was Elaina's showing of the film Farmaggedon.  If you missed it, you can see the movie trailer and get more information at: http://farmageddonmovie.com/.  

Thanks again to all who made our June meeting happen!  I'm looking forward to our next meeting on July 31st when we'll host our 4th in a series of Ethnic Nights.  See our Meeting Schedule for more information.  Until then, don't forget to check out these important WAPF events happening in July:

• The second annual Fermentation Festival on Sunday, July 15th in Santa Barbara, hosted by the Santa Barbara CA Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  For more info, go to their website at:  http://wapfsantabarbara.blogspot.com/.

• Sally Fallon's new online class about traditional diets, starting on Tuesday, July 10th.  For more information, or to register, go to: http://www.growingedgeinstitute.com/gei-courses/211-nourishing-traditions-diets.

Hope to see you at our next meeting!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recap of May 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: The California GMO Labeling Initiative


by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our May meeting was all about GMOs and the California GMO Labeling Initiative.  We got off to a slightly delayed start due to a pick-up truck we encountered, wedged against the wall at the narrow turn-around by the clubhouse.  The poor driver couldn't move her vehicle without serious damage, so when enough strong young men showed up for our meeting, they all lifted the truck around the corner, and she was off!  Luckily, even with a late start, the meeting finished in a timely manner, and all the presentations were done by 8:30!  
For those who haven't had the opportunity to participate in our potluck dinner, just know that this dinner, like all those before it was fabulous!  I feel so satisfied after eating all that delicious nutrient-dense food, that the next day I always feel great!  So if you haven't joined us yet, please consider participating.  You'll be glad you did!  If you'r unsure of what to make, just check out our guidelines and cookbook suggestions on the Meeting Guidelines page.

Since the topic of the month was the GMO Ballot Initiative, we were fortunate to have local signature gathering leader Kim Clymer Kelley update us on the status of our state and local GMO politics.  But before her political discussion began, my daughter, 11-year old 6th grader, Olivia did an informative presentation about GMOs while demonstrating how to make a GMO-free smoothie.  Olivia admitted she was a little nervous addressing all those "nutrition-nut" adults, but she definitely engaged the group.  Go to the Meeting Handouts page to read her notes.

After everyone got a taste of Olivia's smoothie, Kim Clymer Kelley began her talk.  Since the initiative successfully got on the ballot, thanks to the hard work of many volunteer signature gatherers, now we know that we will have the opportunity to vote Yes or No on GMO-labeling in California in the fall.  Specifically, Kim addressed the the forces against GMO labeling and how to respond to their expected propaganda!  

There are several common arguments against GMO labeling, which do not hold true when examined closely: 1) The taxpayers will have to pay to label GMOs; 2) We need GMOs to solve world hunger; 3) It's not a fair initiative because it excludes organics; and 4) We've been manipulating our crops since time immemorial.  

The quick & dirty response in to each of these is: 1) All labeling expenses fall on the producers of the goods in question, not the taxpayers;  2) The facts show that yields from GMO crops are not as high as expected, and in some cases yields are so poor that many farmers who invested in GMO crops have gone bankrupt, some even to the point of suicide!  3) Organics are excluded because by definition organics already have to be GMO-free, don't fit the description of the highly processed products being addressed in the initiative,  and don't need additional regulations to hinder their already expensive production costs; and 4) Selective breeding within a species is not the same as unnaturally blending traits across completely unrelated species which have no natural way of sharing genetic information.  

Kim's talk was inspiring to say the least.  Her greatest message came in the form of a warning:  The pro-GMO propaganda machine is ready for battle, and it's our job to properly educate the community with the truth about GMOs.   If we win this ballot in November, we could very well reach the tipping point to get GMOs off the map, first in California and then ultimately in the whole USA!   For more information about GMOs and the California GMO-labeling Initiative, google "Jeffrey Smith," our national leader in the Anti-GMO movement.

Thanks to all those who attended our May meeting.  Please join us for our next potluck dinner meeting in June when Elaina Luther of Culture Club 101 in Pasadena will be hosting our potluck dinner with a screening of "Farmaggedon."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recap of April 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: Tropical Night!

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

In April, we met at the Nature Friends Clubhouse in Sierra Madre for "Tropical NIght."  Our 3rd in a series of Ethnic Nights, we sampled traditional foods from El Salvador, lovingly prepared by Karen's good friend Mima.  Included among Mima's dishes were a succulent Carne Gisada prepared with grass-fed beef, tomatoes, onions, carrots, annatto, & garlic, some boiled & sea-salted yucca root sautéed crispy brown in fresh Amish lard, a large pot of freshly fried rice with sprouted Salvadoran red beans ("Casamiento"), and a salad of lettuce and garden vegetables seasoned with lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper. To complement the meal, participants contributed traditional favorites including sauerkraut, a tasty fermented protein drink made by Jaye Park, some fruity sangria, sliced pineapple & non-GMO papaya, and even some homemade fermented poi prepared by Mei Kwan.  To top it all off, Terri Cardinali made us a wonderful gluten-free homemade coconut cream pie.

After dinner, with spirited El Salvadoran music playing in the background, Mima and her daughter Jenny demonstrated how to prepare traditional Central American platanitos fritos.  The sweet, soft, ripe, fragrant Columbian plantains were fried to a crisp deep brown in organic coconut oil and enjoyed by all, both during and after dinner. 

Heartfelt thanks to Mima for a great Tropical Night with the tastes, smells, and sounds of El Salvador!  And Muchos Gracias to our enthusiastic group for stepping up to the challenge, and contributing additional complementary foods to accentuate to flavors of the evening!

Here's looking forward to our next Ethnic Night coming up on July 31st with a soon-to-be-announced Asian theme!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Recap of March 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: The Arroyo Food Coop and Cooking for Health


by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our March meeting took place at the Nature Friends Clubhouse in Sierra Madre, and it was nice to have daylight savings time to brighten up the place! This time we had 2 special guests: Patrick Reagan of the Arroyo Food Co-op and Gina Gonzales with Cooking for Health.


After our usual delectable meal, we had some community announcements followed by 2 presentations. First, Patrick Reagan gave us a brief synopsis of the latest news on the Arroyo Food Co-op. In the works since 2008, the Arroyo Food Co-op is gathering memberships and plans to open once they have 500 invested members. A couple years ago when Patrick first visited our group, the co-op had just under 300 members. Now, almost at the 500 mark, the co-op's goal is to open before the end of the year. In exchange for their support, co-op members will have access to special shopping privileges as well as a share in some of the profits of the co-op. The goal is to provide a wide variety of wholesome, local, organic (or pesticide-free), nutrient-dense foods at competitive prices while supporting local farmers. Members have a huge influence as to what will be offered at the store, and product research is well underway. Prices will be kept down by locating the store in an affordable rent district, and keeping a small and efficient management hierarchy. The only level above management will be the Board of Directors, which is strictly volunteer. The Pasadena Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation is working on cultivating a close relationship with the co-op so we can help them bring high quality foods to our area. Patrick will continue to be a regular guest at our meetings and give us updates at critical points during the co-op's development. We hope to see him again before the end of the year. To find out more about the Arroyo Food Co-op, or to become a member, go to: http://arroyofoodcoop.com/.
Next, Gina Gonzales gave a professional presentation about healthy food and cooking. Using a Salad Master food grater, she whipped up a delicious salad full of all kinds of raw organic fruits and vegetables including cabbage, apples, carrots, red cabbage, celery, mangos, and even some citrus and citrus zest for flavor. During the food preparation, aided by 2 assistants, Gina warmed up 4 different cooking pots filled with an inch of water and some baking soda. When the salad was done and the pots were finished simmering, we all got a lesson in cooking utensil toxicity. Each pot had a different composition, leaching different metals & other chemicals into the water. We all sampled a spoonful of water from each pot, and got to taste for ourselves the difference. Not surprisingly, the water from the Salad Master pot tasted the most like pure baking soda, while the water from a high grade stainless pot came in a close but slightly metallic second. The water from the other pots tasted unbelievably metallic and bitter by comparison. Besides the lack of leaching, another nice feature of Gina's cookware is a trademark warning mechanism which activates when the temperature gets to 187 degrees. This feature enables the cook to turn down the heat before the food reaches the boiling point, not only preserving many nutrients, but also shortening the cooking time by sealing the lid and raising the pressure inside the pot. For those of us who spend more money on higher quality food, watching Gina's presentation was a real education. To close, Gina offered a free full-course home-cooked dinner to anyone willing to host a more in-depth demonstration of the cookware in action. To get in touch with Gina, or find out more about Salad Master products, go to: http://cookingforhealthinc.com/index.html.

With another nice evening behind us, it's time to look forward to our next meeting in April when we will celebrate the 2nd anniversary of our first WAPF-Pasadena meeting that took place on Earth Day in 2010! Our special guest for the evening will be Jolie Assina who will host our 3rd Ethnic Night with the special topic: Equitorial Culinary Traditions!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recap of February 2012 Potluck Dinner Meeting: Weston A. Price and Biological Dentistry

by Ramanuj Basu

Our February meeting was on Leap Day, but what really made it special was our after dinner speaker, J. Bruce Johnson D.D.S. After a tasty and healthful potluck dinner (Thanks, everyone!) we moved upstairs as Dr. Johnson had a slide presentation to accompany his talk, "The Contribution of Weston A. Price to a Modern Paradigm for Dentistry and Health."

What followed was a bit of a surprise: a talk by a dentist with hardly a mention of cavities, fillings, or even teeth. Dr. Johnson considers his patients and their treatment from a whole-person perspective, with the understanding that the dental system has an intimate relationship with, and direct effect on, other systems in the body. He spoke about the differences between the traditional paradigm of treating symptoms and the holistic paradigm, which he practices in partnership with chiropractors and osteopaths, focusing on skeletal components first and teeth last.

The big take-away from the evening (at least for me) was this: airway, airway, airway! An open airway is essential to allow oxygen to flow into and throughout our body. If our airway is compromised (by improper jaw position leading to improper tongue position and constriction of the nasal passages), our whole body can be dramatically affected as the entire skeleton adjusts in an attempt to keep the airway as open as possible. Who would have thought that an overbite could cause improper posture which, in turn, can lead to bed-wetting, chronic sore throat and fatigue, migraines, and even reduced cognitive ability?!

Dr. Johnson's full presentation is available online here.