WARNING: science-based nutrition will rock your world.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Byrdfeeder Has Moved to Facebook!

Dear Kind Reader,

You may have noticed the lack of new postings on my  blog. That's because I'm too lazy to figure out how to stop all the unpaid advertising that has attached itself like a blood-sucking parasite to this page. These ads have nothing to do with me or my topic of interest.

See, when you click on the ads, someone's getting paid and it's not me. When I tried to stop the ads, my computer was infected with a virus that, while not crashing it, caused it to seize up like a bad leg cramp.

Do not click on any of these advertisements! I don't know who's responsible for them, but if you are that person, I have two words for you: GET LOST.

To the rest of you, please follow The Byrdfeeder on Facebook. Like my page, leave a comment, and I promise I'll respond.

Thanks for visiting, and adios for now!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brussels Sprouts: Garden Ex-Patriate

Brussels sprouts were first cultivated in Belgium (hence the name "Brussels" sprouts) in the 1500s, and introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s. Odd, though; this delectable alien isn’t mentioned as a classic Belgium food in the culinary portion of the Brussels Travel Guide. Perhaps our dear sprouts grew tired of playing second fiddle to a stupid waffle, and upon voluntary exile from its native land, lost all rights and privileges of birth. Tant pis Belgium, I say.

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous veggies containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, plus 4 grams of dietary fiber. These luscious buds are also rich sources of phytochemicals (also know as plant food) which boosts cell repair and might just cause cancer cells to commit suicide. Plus, they promote supple skin, digestive health, and a myriad of other health benefits.
You! Stop being a Brussels sprouts hater and give this garden super star its props. As long as they're cooked with respect, they'll maintain their dignity, won't stink up the house, and you will love them. You will!
In The World’s Healthiest Foods cookbook, George Mateljan suggests trimming and cutting a pound of fresh Brussels sprouts in quarters, then steaming them for 5 minutes. Afterwards, dress them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 medium cloves of garlic, and sea salt and pepper to taste. And they are really, really good like this.
However, my little garden sprouts are too tender to steam that long! I trim and cut them in half, then, in a sauté pan, I add a few tablespoons of water with salt and quickly heat to boiling. Next, I toss all the sprouts in the sauté pan, add a pat (not a stick) of organic butter on top, and cover for one minute on medium high heat. Remove the cover, stir around to scrape any delicious carmelized bits off the bottom of the pan, add a little tamari if desired and romp on those goodies.

For an extra good treat, sauté some shallots in butter or olive oil and add to the sprout pan at the end, or just cook at the same time in the same pan. I simply prefer my shallots to be carmelized more.
Of course you can roast them for 40 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven after trimming and dressing with salt and olive oil, but why torture them? Yes, sprouts are delicious roasted, but I urge you to experiment with a shorter cooking time to maintain the nutrient integrity of the sprout. Not only that, but high heat changes the chemical structure of oil, and not for the better.
Rebellious vegetable, or limp waffle? Whose side are you on?
Tant pis is French for too bad. 40% of Belgium residents speak French; 60% speak Flemish.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Rhymes with Yuck? Today's Caca Award Winner

When I was a kid, I used to eat Chef Boyardee straight out of the can while devouring Saturday episodes of Sky King, My Friend Flicka, and Fury. There was nothing nutritious about the ravioli and spaghetti, but Chef never made health claims; he was a fat and happy icon, and his food was fun to eat.

Then one day, Corporate advertisers created an unprecedented level of deception when we weren't looking, and lying became an accepted and financially rewarding part of our culture.

This from Hormel:

"In our Principles Platform, a statement that reflects our approach to corporate responsibility, we lay out our commitment to making food safety, food quality, and health and wellness a focus of our products. This commitment is central to our mission of delivering wholesome, nutritious and great-tasting products to our customers and their families."

Really? How about Compleats Kids? Are consumers supposed to consider this stuff nutritious? "Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies, tell me lies, tell me tell me lies..."

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

People, the issue here is the false health claim.
To start, Compleats Kids lists three unnatural flavor enhancers and a listing for chicken flavoring. So while there may be no artificial colors added, ask yourself these questions: where do artificial and natural flavorings come from? Are they delivered by stork? Do they grow in the ground, or are they manufactured in a lab somewhere? What exactly are flavorings, and could my children be allergic to them?

Might flavorings be detrimental to one's health? Just so you know, hydrolyzed yeast and MSG are cousins. If you or your children are sensitive to MSG, you must also avoid hydrolyzed yeast. Go here for more information.

I called the Hormel Consumer Hotline not because I expected an answer about the safety of flavorings, but because I wanted to ask about the plastic microwavable container. The instructions direct the consumer to poke holes in the plastic film covering the food and then heat.

Hmmm...is Hormel plastic safe to eat?

Here's what I gleaned from the reluctant Hormel consumer hotline person I will refer to as "J": "Our plastic is BPA-free, and our research team determined there isn't a safety issue. If you're concerned about the plastic, just dump the food in a bowl and heat it that way." J was thrown off balance by my polite questioning; miffed, she hung up in the middle of my thank you and goodbye.

Final question: How can something with no preservatives added have an unrefrigerated shelf life of 16 months or more?

A big cheesy bowl of caca-filled ravioli to the USDA food team responsible for establishing the Healthy Food Guidelines which allow our children to be poisoned.

" Little Lies" Fleetwood Mac, 1987
Muck. Muck rhymes with yuck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Intrepid Spring!

Intrepid: fearless, unafraid, undaunted, unshrinking, courageous, brave, valiant, valorous, heroic, lionhearted, martial, doughty, spunky, gutsy, bold, daring, audacious, spirited, plucky, game, gallant, dashing, adventurous, venturesome, daredevil, steadfast, resolute, indomitable, stout, tough, hardy, gritty, stalwart, stouthearted.

Fearless and game strawberry blossom

Courageous, lionhearted Curly Red

Valiant, bold Kale seedlings

Spunky and gallant transplant trio

Gutsy and audacious Comfrey

Spirited and hardy China Choy

Steadfast, indomitable Chickweed

Undaunted, dashing garden mystery

My Small Town Activist Experience

Let's say you read the "Enough Dinking Around with My Food" post, and then copied the letter and hand-delivered it to your grocery store manager. How'd that work for you?

Here's how it worked for me:
  • The Food Lion grocery store manager was daunted by my request. Although he took the letter, he seemed beaten down by personal issues, like sadness and heartbreak. I think he lives at home with his mother.
  • The Ingles manager was rude and short; she had no time to read the letter and was not interested. I smiled, thanked her and left. Her store feels depressed and falsely presented.
  • The Harris Teeter manager was polite and attentive; he read the letter, and said he'd pass it on to headquarters. His store is filled with happy check-out women who share a good crazy tribal beat.
But I didn't stop with the grocery stores. I visited my small town's three "health food stores" and asked the owners to help, too. Simple request: read the letter, sign, place the letter in the attached envelop, and deliver it to the grocery store manager next time they shop. I also provided a few extra letters so their favorite customers could participate as well, if they, the store owner, would be so kind to ask.

Here's what happened
  • The first health store owner was coolly polite, and placed the letters on her check-out counter under some vendor brochures. She did not indicate if she would sign and deliver a letter. I have hopes. Her store is tall, deep and narrow.
  • The second owner glared at me, huffed and said, "This is too much work. But, leave them, I'll see what I can do." She wants me to consider opening an office beside her store, but I would be too much work for her. Her store is dark, deep and wide.
  • The third owner smiled, took the letters, and said, "Sure, I'll help. My customers will be interested in this." Her store is comfortable, and slightly-off kilter like an old rocking chair.
Well, guess what? Two negatives and one positive always create a positive charge! Do the math, you'll see. One out of three is good! That's a thirty-three percent success rate overall. One third creates a big shift!

But, here's my question: would things have worked out differently if another positive-thinking / feeling / acting person had gone into the stores with me? Could two people carrying a positive charge shift the negative charge of the store managers / owners? Maybe...yes?

At the very least, I would have left those stores in good company.

My activist friends, keep your chins up. Do your best. Be polite. Throw your hearts out there, and know the Universe has your backs, fronts, and your ups and downs.

Two negatives are positive
...negative and positive are negative...positive plus negative plus negative, wow...see? All is right with the world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old Brains, Old Gardens

I’ve always believed we are born knowing everything and become numb as we age. This theory was tested during the Organic Growers School’s first Ignite Agriculture rehearsal when 12-year-old TEDx speaker and Slow Food protégé Birk Baehr waltzed through his presentation with ease while I stumbled through every word of mine.

See, according to Nature and her cycles, late winter is a time when seeds stir in the earth, when we emerge from the dark womb of hibernation and journey into the unfolding plan of light. So I thought I’d make like a seed and get a jump on emergence by throwing myself onto center stage for the inaugural event. What better way to get on with the business of awakening, I thought, and maybe land a few speaking gigs, or even a job offer in the process.

But, my senior brain doesn’t appreciate being thrown. It likes to be awakened gently, coddled with a rubdown before a big stretch. Let me go on record right now: Ignite presentations are akin to fast pitch softball. You wind up, hum it on in there, zing the zone, and then repeat nineteen times. Your aim must be true.

As of Friday morning, I wasn’t sure my brain had game.

I tripped up the mountain anyway while listening to the Dalai Lama sing healing chants, then unpacked the truck, found a quiet place, and grounded myself with a short meditation. Seeds emerged, brooks ran free, and buds appeared; I wasn’t on a softball field after all! I was in a beautiful garden, growing. By Saturday night’s show time, my brain had been properly rubbed down, stretched and rooted firmly in the earth.

I’d have to scrape years of tartared misconceptions from the hallowed recesses of my cranial cavities to match Birk’s malleability. But, I’d lose memories of such sweetness that my knees buckle in gratitude just knowing they’re there, although I don’t remember all of them.

Old brains are the body equivalent of a well-loved garden full of glorious heirlooms and a few obnoxious weeds. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to set them afire.

OGS information is here.
Ignite yourself here.
Birk Baehr's stellar TEDx presentation is here.