What organic foods I eat nowdays

I'm being more aware these days, very awfully picky about what I eat and what to avoid.

Going fully organic at the moment is not feasible, as I do eat out, and most places don't order organic produce. Its also a big blow on the budget. By putting the 'Organic' label on your foods, the food marts will markup up 3-10 times non-organic ones.

Its really stupid that by not polluting or poisoning your vegetables with pesticides and inorganic nitrite fertilizers will cost more than the poisoned ones we are getting in the supermarkets.

Whenever I can, I eat some organic fruits. I also try to eat more local green organic vegetables when available. My motto is, if the fruit or vegetable is unusually way too big than it should be, growth hormones are usually used. Fruits which are more susceptible
to pest like berries are usually more heavily sprayed. So Avoid!

These are the ones that are more heavily sprayed with pesticides (not in any order)

1. Peaches & Nectrines
2. Cherries
3. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
4. Bell Peppers, chillies
5. Lettuce
6. Grapes
7. Potatos
8. Carrots
9. Apples
10. Pears
11. Plums
12. Tomato
13. Passion Fruit
14. Pomegrantes

The fruits with growth hormones
1. Mango (jumbo ones we occassionally see in the markets)
2. Watermelon
3. Honeydew
4. Peaches

I need to know more non-meat eating friends!

The lack of non-meat eaters in my social circle is hampering my gradual progress to vegetarianism. Everyone I know who enjoys food are all big meat eaters and it is definately not helping! The vegetarians i know are not big foodist and not really into exploring new food joints!

How would you balance the foodist and non-foodist in your social circle?

Do vegetarians only have vegetarian friends?
How do they survive in the world of big meat eaters?

Article: Soy too Good to be True?

Ran through my Gerson Therapy archive and found this about Soy

Soy: Too Good to be True
By Brandon Finucan & Charlotte Gerson ,
Gerson Institute Newsletter Volume 14 #4

While even in 1966 there was considerable research on the harmful substances within soybeans, you'll be hard pressed to find articles today that claim soy is anything short of a miracle-food. As soy gains more and more popularity through industry advertising, we are moved once again to raise our voice of concern.

The Soybean Industry in America

In 1924 soybean production in the U.S. was only at 1.8 million acres harvested, but by 1954, the harvested acres grew to 18.9 million. Today, the soybean is America's third largest crop (harvesting 72 million acres in 1998), supplying more than 50 percent of the world's soybean demand.

Most of these beans are made into animal feed and are manufactured into soy oil for use as vegetable oil, margarine and shortening. Of the traditional uses for soy as a food, only soy sauce enjoys widespread consumption in the American diet. Tofu, measuring 90 percent of Asia's use of the soybean, has gained more popularity in the U.S., but soy is still nowhere near a measurable component of the average American diet - or is it?

For more than 20 years now, the soy industry has concentrated on finding alternative uses and new markets for soybeans and soy byproducts. At your local supermarket, soy can now be found disguised as everything from soy cheese, milk, burgers and hot dogs, to ice cream, yogurt, vegetable oil, baby formula and flour (to name just a few). These are often marketed as low-fat, dairy-free, or as a high-protein, meat substitute for vegetarians. But soy isn't always mentioned on the box cover. Today, an alarming 60% of the food on America's supermarket shelves contain soy derivatives (i.e. soy flour, textured vegetable protein, partially hydrogenated soy bean oil, soy protein isolate). When you look at the ingredients list, and really look at the contents of the "Average American Diet," from snack foods and fast foods to prepackaged frozen meals, soy plays a major role.

Where the soybean goes wrong?

Here at the Gerson Institute, we feel the positive aspects of the soybean are overshadowed by their potential for harm. Soybeans in fact contain a large number of dangerous substances. One among them is phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the body's uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high-phytate problem, soybeans are very resistant to phytate reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.

Soybeans also contain potent enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes that the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful "antinutrients," that can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.
Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body's tissues, and cannot help in maintaining good cardiac health. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both "growth depressant" substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does deactivate both trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin, precipitation and cooking do not. Even though these enzyme inhibitors are reduced in levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not altogether eliminated.

Only after a long period of fermentation (as in the creation of miso or tempeh) are the phytate and "antinutrient" levels of soybeans reduced, making their nourishment available to the human digestive system. The high levels of harmful substances remaining in precipitated soy products leave their nutritional value questionable at best, and in the least, potentially harmful.

What About the Studies?

In recent years, several studies have been made regarding the soybean's effect on human health. The results of those studies, largely underwritten by various factions of the soy industry, were of course overwhelmingly in favor of soy. The primary claims about soy's health benefits are based purely on bad science. Although primary arguments for cancer patients to use soy focus on statistics showing low rates of breast, colon and prostate cancer among Asian people, there are obvious facts being utterly ignored. While the studies boast that Asian women suffer far fewer cases of breast cancer than American women do, the hype neglects to point out that these Asian women eat a diet that is dramatically different than their American counterparts.

The standard traditional Asian diet consists of more natural products, far less fatty meat, greater amounts of vegetables and more fish. Their diets are also lower in chemicals and toxins, as they eat far fewer processed (canned, jarred, pickled, frozen) foods. It is likely these studies are influenced by the fact that cancer rates rise among Asian people who move to the U.S. and adopt American-ized diets. Of course, this change of diet goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic shift in lifestyle. Ignoring the remarkable diet and lifestyle changes, to assume only that reduced levels of soy in these Americanized Asian diets is a primary factor in greater cancer rates is poor judgment, and as stated above, bad science. The changes of dietand lifestyle must be considered to reach the correct conclusion.

A widely circulated article, written by Jane E. Allen, AP Science Writer, titled, "Scientists Suggest More Soy in Diet", cites in the course of a symposium, numerous speakers discussing the probable advantages of soy under the title, "Health Impact of Soy Protein." However, the article states that the $50,000 symposium "was underwritten by Protein Technologies International of St. Louis, a DuPont subsidiary that makes soy protein!" In the course of the same symposium, Thomas Clarkson, professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University, states "Current hormone replacement therapy has been a dismal failure from a public health point of view," not because PremarinÆ is known to cause uterine or other female organ cancers, but "because only 20 percent of the women who could benefit from it are taking it."

Other popular arguments in support of soy state that fermented products, like tempeh or natto, contain high levels of vitamin B-12.However, these supportive arguments fail to mention that soy's B-12 is an inactive B-12 analog, not utilized as a vitamin in the human body. Some researchers speculate this analog may actually serve to block the body's B-12 absorption. It has also been found that allergic reactions to soybeans are far more common than to all other legumes. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics admits that early exposure to soy through commercial infant formulas, may be a leading cause of soy allergies among older children and adults.

In his classic book, A Cancer Therapy - Results of 50 Cases (p.237), Dr. Gerson put "Soy and Soy Products" on the "FORBIDDEN" list of foods for Gerson Therapy patients. At the time, his greatest concerns were two items: the high oil content of soy and soy products,and the rather high rate of allergic reactions to soy. Soybeans can add as much as 9 grams of fat per serving, typically adding an average of 5 grams of fat per serving when part of an average American diet.

The Extraction Process

The processes which render the soybean "edible" are also the processes which render it "inedible." In fermenting soybeans, the process entails that the beans be purÈed and soaked in an alkaline solution. The pureed mixture is then heated to about 115ƒC (239ƒF) inside a pressure cooker. This heating and soaking process destroys most, but not all, of the anti-nutrients. At the same time, it has the unwelcome effect of denaturing the proteins of the beans so they become very difficult to digest and greatly reduced in effectiveness. Unfortunately, the alkaline solution also produces a carcinogen, lysinealine, while it reduces the already low cystine content within the soybean. Cystine plays an essential role in liver detoxification, allowing our bodies to filter and eliminate toxins. Without proper amounts of cystine, the protein complex of the soybean becomes useless, unless the diet is fortified with cystine-rich meat, egg, or dairy products - not an option for Gerson patients.

To the soybean's credit, they do contain large amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but these are particularly susceptible to rancidity when subjected to high pressures and temperatures. Unfortunately, high pressure and temperature are required to remove soybean oil from the soybean.

Before soybeans are sent to your table, they undergo a rigorous process to strip them of their oil. Hexane or other solvents are first applied to help separate the oil from the beans, leaving trace amounts of these toxins in the commercial product. Hexane by definition is; "any of five colorless, volatile, liquid hydrocarbons C6H14 of the paraffin series," and cannot be the least bit beneficial in anyone's diet. After the oil is extracted, the defatted flakes are used to form the three basic soy protein products. With the exception of full-fat soy flour, all soybean products contain trace amounts of carcinogenic solvents.

Personal Experiences

The following letter was received in November 1998: "I have used soy milk for 12 years with no problems. About 9 months ago, I started to have heart palpitations. I thought maybe that I was in menopause, but I wasn't. I added more potassium to my diet and magnesium and vitamin E. No change. I am already decaffeinated but I also took all sugar out of my diet. I lost 25 pounds and felt great except for the palpitations. I tried hawthorn and garlic but nothing was helping. Recently I came down with acute bronchitis and could only drink water because even the soy milk made me have horrendous bouts of coughing. I realized that after a few days my heart palpitations had stopped. I didn't think anything of it because it never occurred to me that soy was the culprit. As soon as I started drinking it again, my heart went crazy. I went off it for a week and then changed brands. Within 30 minutes of drinking only 4 ounces [of soy milk], my heart was all over the place. I've noticed that it takes about 24 to 36 hours for my heart to settle down. I wondered if your research turned up anything like this in regard to soy. I know it is not within the definition of an allergy, but something is definitely going on. I called the manufacturer of the soy milk, but they were of no help. I am very upset because I only drink soy milk and water. I also use the soy milk to make protein shakes (with what else but soy protein)."

In our November/December 1996 issue of the Gerson Healing Newsletter we described another case: a pregnant lady who looked very ill and was terribly deficient! She also described her son, age five, who had many allergies and infections - both were using a good deal of soy in their diet. I recommended that they discontinue the use of all soy products. At the time, I had only just run across this situation. However, a year later, I was in the same area for a lecture, and the lady invited me to dinner. She had cut out all soy products: her skin was now rosy, her face filled out, her sunken eyes normal, her black circles gone and her little boy, now six, was in greatly improved health.

Just last week, another interesting story came to our attention. A patient at the Gerson Certified Hospital in Mexico told us of her son, now 25, who has total lack of hair (Alopecia) with the exception of eyebrows and eyelashes. She added that this started when he was just three years old. Since the mother asked me about this situation, I considered the problem for a moment. Then, looking at the parents who both have normal hair, I figured that the boy's problem was most probably not genetic. So, I asked the mother if he used a lot of soy. She said, no. But then, after thinking about the question for a moment, she said that at about one year of age, the boy had many allergies, so she regularly fed him soy milk! I explained to her that the enzyme and nutrient blocking ability of soy and the likelihood of the soy milk being the cause of his condition starting at age three. Since we had just witnessed the case of a patient whose hair grew back on his bald pate, (See "Practitioner Training" article in this issue) after being bald for some 20 years, I cautiously suggested that a complete change of diet accompanied by intensive detoxification, may be able to overcome the problem.

Don't Believe the Hype!

The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is one of the leading manufacturers of soy products. They are seeking "GRAS" (generally recognized as safe) status from the FDA for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found in soy products. They have submitted a document entitled, " An information document reviewing the safety of soy isoflavones used in specific dietary applications."

Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, a biochemist and former Auckland University professor has carefully analyzed this material and presented his findings in an article entitled, "Soy Isoflavones: Panacea or Poison" published in the Journal of the Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation (vol. 22, no. 3). Dr. Fitzpatrick concluded that ADM's supporting document "contains factual errors, misrepresents cited authors and does not present the full body of scientific evidence."

ADM claims that "these isoflavones have been consumed by millions of humans for over two thousand years." In actuality, while they have been used in Asia for hundreds of years, they "did not form a significant part of [the Asian] diet." Furthermore, notes Fitzpatrick, "the traditional soybean was quite different from the soybean as we know it today ." The wild soybean, Glycine soja, "is the species that was consumed traditionally and is the ancestor of the modern cultivar, Glycine max, explains Fitzpatrick. The modern day species has been cultivated to breed much more protein than the traditional soybean.

The isoflavones serve as a "defense mechanism in response to pests. Increased disease resistance has been a consistent goal of soybean breeders and it is quite conceivable that this goal has served to increase the levels of isoflavones, and other naturally occurring toxins in the Glycine max." The levels of isoflavones in Glycine max vary considerably. "If this is so, then it is not implausible that the traditional Asian soybean, Glycine soja, contained quite low levels of isoflavones or perhaps none at all," states Fitzpatrick. Therefore, ADM's assertion that soybeans have been safely consumed for over two thousand years cannot be substantiated.

Soy and Infant Formula

What is particularly worrisome is the presence of soy in infant formulas. It is interesting to note that many infants cannot tolerate soy formulas, that they seem to be "allergic" to the soy.

Perhaps the body is instinctively rejecting the enzyme inhibitors found in the soy. In a letter addressed to Linda Kahl at the division of Product Policy of the Food and Drug Administration dated April 22, 1998, Daniel Sheehan, Ph.d and director of the Estrogen Base Program at the National Center for Toxicological Research wrote:"There is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones, including genistein and equal are toxicants... additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. In fact, infants consuming soy infant formula rich in isoflavones have about a two-fold risk of developing these diseases...While isoflavones may have beneficial effects at some ages or circumstances, this cannot be assumed to be true at all ages. Isoflavones are like other estrogens in that they are two-edged swords, conferring both benefits and risk.

Dr. Sheehan believes that "The addition of isoflavones to foods needs to be considered just as would the addition of estrogen to foods, which is a bad idea." Dr. Sheehan is very concerned about the high isoflavone content found in soy based formulas. He feels that infants fed these formulas have been placed at risk in a "large, uncontrolled, and basically unmonitored human infant experiment." Dr. Fitzpatrick raises another issue: he believes that soy may combine with other xenoestrogens (such as pesticides). Fitzpatrick writes that "because of the potential for synergistic effects, human exposure to all endocrine disrupters, such as the soy isoflavones urgently requires reduction."

Soy and the Western Diet

In part one of this article, we mentioned that assumptions have been made linking soy intake to the low incidence of certain cancers in Asia. "However, an epidemiological study in China has shown that high soy intake is not protective against breast cancer."1

The soy proponents have conveniently overlooked a study which has shown that high levels of genistein "may stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle" 2. These findings are "consistent with an earlier report by Petrakis et al. who expressed concern that women fed soy protein isolate have an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia."3

The U.K. government recently published their findings of the effects of soy in the diet, concluding that "there was almost no evidence linking health benefits from foods containing isoflavones to the isoflavones themselves."4

Another study concluded that "any benefits from soy products are not due to isoflavones specifically... [and] the combination of a high phytoestrogen intake with a western diet may not be beneficial.5

Adding to the natural trouble with soybeans, we are faced with a new Western phenomenon: genetically altered soy. Among other genetically altered, or transgenic foods like corn, apples, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, wheat and even walnuts (to name just a few), soy is one of the most controversial. MonsantoTM, the multi-million dollar biotechnology leader that brought us rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), has been fighting to put genetically altered foods on your table for several years. So far, they are winning. The truth is, unless you've been eating ONLY organic foods, it is likely you've been tasting Monsanto's handiwork.

Monsanto has gained millions in profits from sales of its popular herbicide, RoundupÆ, and in turn has produced several transgenic crops that resist it. Soy is of course among those Roundup-ReadyÆ crops. Being resistant to this powerful herbicide, farmers are able to spray more of it on their crops, resulting in higher levels of toxins in the harvested product. Recent studies have shown that sprayed soybean crops have an elevated estrogen level (much higher than the soybean's already high levels). As we mentioned earlier, the synergistic effect of these estrogens - especially on children ingesting soy based formula is unknown, but in a recent study reported in Pediatrics raised a few eyebrows. "

Investigators found that one percent of all girls now show signs of puberty, such as breast development or pubic hair before the age of THREE; by age eight 14.7 percent of Caucasian girls and a whopping 48.3 percent of African-American girls had one or both of these characteristics" states Sally Fallon in the Price-Pottinger article on soy. (For a natural alternative to soy and milk based formula, see Nourishing Traditions, available through PPNF at 619-574-7763).

These higher estrogen levels have proven to increase amounts of fat produced in the milk of cows fed the altered altered and sprayed beans. Together with the use of rBGH, the elevated estrogen levels bring into question whether cows milk can really be called milk.

The European Union has fought desperately to keep genetically altered crops from entering Europe's food chain, but this June, both France and Ireland will be planting the first altered crops to be grown on European soil. In the United States, there are very few (if any) regulations placed on the biotechnology industry.

Soy and Protein Intake

Soybeans are not the basis of measurement for whether or not a vegetarian diet is supplying you with the protein and nutrients your body needs. In fact, a diet completely devoid of soy or meat products, but varied in vegetables and fruits, can supply your body with all the protein and nutrients it needs. The important factor in determining whether or not your soy-free, vegetarian diet is good enough for you is not careful food combining, it is calories. As long as you ar eating enough leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, your body will be supplied with everything it needs. This is why the Gerson Therapy, with its well-balanced, plant-based (soy-free) diet, rich in vitamins and enzymes, is able to effectively heal even the most difficult of ailments.

Gerson Institute Newsletter Volume 14 #4

1. Yuan JM et al. Diet and breast cancer in Shanghai and Yianjin. Br J Cancer 71:1353-1358 (1995).
2. Dees C et al. Dietary estrogens stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle. Eviron Health Perspect 105 (Suppl 3): 633-636 (1997).
3. Petrakis NL et al. Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women. Cancer Epid Bio Prev 5: 785-794 (1996).
4. Assessment on phytoestrogens in the human diet. Institute for Environmental Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1997).
5. Adlecruetz H and Mazur W. Phytoestrogens and western diseases. Annals of Medicine 29: 95-120 (1997).

How the Soy Bean became good for you

Photo by flickr_10g

Currently, the family is going on the Gerson Therapy (GT) program and one of the forbidden food includes Glycine Max (biological name) commonly known as Soy Bean.

According to GT, soy contains high indigestable fat/protein content, high sodium, toxic inhibitive for nutrient absorption thus absolutely forbidden in the GT diet.

It went contradictory to the general claim that Soy is good for you.

It is actively promoted by Singapore's Health Promotion board as a healthy food. It is even given a big tick on those soy milk cartons labels you find in the supermarket.

I did some digging on the internet on how soy became such a miracle food.

In 1999, the FDA (american food and drug adminstration) approved the health claim that soy protein may reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. This claim was based New England Journal of Medicine publication report fromUniversity of Kentucky - 'Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein Intake on Serum Lipids.'(NEJM Vol. 333, No. 5, 1995 August).

The report was financed by the PTI division of DuPont , The Solae Co. St. Louis, Missouri, a soy producer and marketer which submitted the petition to FDA for the health claim approval.

It is also widely known that Glycine Max is a genetically modified (GM) food and might have some health risk.

Disclaimer : According to most scientific studies, GM food are not harmful to humans (although most studies are usually directly/indirectly funded by corporate interest groups.)

New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 333-276-282, No. 5, 1995 August
Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein Intake on Serum Lipids
James W. Anderson, M.D., Bryan M. Johnstone, Ph.D., and Margaret E. Cook-Newell, M.S., R.D.

Food and Drug Administration

Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. , HHS. Final rule.

FDA Report
Investigation of genetically modified soybean biosafety in the center of the origin and diversity of Russian Far East

Story about Food Fraud in China

Received an email about this story about the food industry in China. Apparently it has been circulating around the email circuit and it finally reached my mailbox one day. I have not way of verifying that this is true, it might just be a story.

Fake Food, Fake news?
It makes an interesting read, little draggy though.

Story of a Chef in China

I remember the host on a program about animal rights saying, "Please take care of our animals. It will be good for everyone." However, some Chinese don't think about the animals when eating meat. They dare to eat anything but aren't aware that what they are eating may actually be harmful to them.

Ah Chang, who has worked in the restaurant industry for many years in China, has witnessed the use of all kinds of tricks used to fool the public into buying inferior meat. The following is his experience as a kitchen helper in a restaurant in Guangdong Province.

Five years ago, I left Guangxi Province for the modernized Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province. With the help of a friend from my hometown, I was interviewed by restaurant owner Peng Da, and eventually hired as a kitchen helper. When the boss introduced me to the "Big Guy" - a popular name for a chef, I was shocked to see that the "Big Guy" was a female. Everyone called her Sister Rong. Sister Rong was in her 30s and was quite attractive. She
told me that my responsibilities included killing animals, cutting and chopping various meats and bones, and preparing the meat before it was cooked.

On my second day at the restaurant, Rong pulled me over and said, "Ah Chang, since you are new to this field I will teach you a lesson: How to "use" the weigh scale. Our scale is accurate, but the displayed weights are not. Four hundred grams will show as 500 grams. This is not trickery but rather a common practice in this profession. All restaurants are doing this."

Under Rong's guidance, I quickly learned to use the scale. According to Wu Tian, when there were customers watching us, we should be careful not to let them see us exchanging bigger pieces of meat with smaller ones; or after killing a fish, cutting a section from it. Generally speaking, it was an open secret in this profession. Only when serving our friends would we not
cheat, as our conscience's wouldn't allow it.

The Peng Da Restaurant was flourishing during the time I worked there. Every morning I had to kill many cats, sometimes five or six, and sometimes as many as ten. However, I didn't see the cat meat sold in the restaurant. What happened to the meat? After thinking about it for a long time, I still couldn't figure it out. Later, I paid more attention and found that some of
the cat meat was stewed with medicinal herbs, and sold as stewed leopard meat with medicinal herbs for 198 yuan (approximately US$24.25) per dish.

When Rong saw that I was confused, she said, "Leopard meat stewed with
medicinal herbs is the signature soup of our restaurant. Cats are very common, so only by advertising the meat as being from a wild animal would it be attractive to diners. After removing the heads and claws and soaking the cat bodies in the herbs, even the smartest diner can't discern that what
they are eating is cat meat. Cat meat cost us 20 yuan (approximately US$2.50) for each carcass, but leopard meat cost 138 yuan (approximately US$17.25) per kilogram."

With Rong's teaching and guidance, I was soon promoted to Cook's helper, and made responsible for arranging the food on the plates. One day, when Rong and I were on duty, someone ordered stewed deer meat. I was angry when I saw the order because I hadn't seen any deer meat after having been there for six months. Thus, I said to Xiao Hong, the floor director who took the
order, "We don't have any stewed deer meat." She replied, "Why was it on the menu?" Rong came over and said, "We have it. How could we not have it? The mountain tortoise meat was deer meat." "What?" I thought I had heard wrong.

The restaurant charged 68 yuan (approximately US$ 8.5) for 500 grams of tortoise meat, and 268 yuan (approximately US$ 33.5) for the same amount of deer meat. "Are you afraid?" Rong asked, "There is no deer meat in the whole city. I believe few people have eaten it, so how can they tell the difference? Don't worry about it. I will be responsible." After hearing what
she said, I had no choice but to serve the tortoise meat. Still, I worried about complaints from our customers. Despite my apprehension, nobody complained and the restaurant earned an extra 200 yuan (approximately US$ 25) every time they sold the dish.

On the second day, some guests ordered stewed tortoise and stewed deer at the same time. I became flustered and hurried to ask Rong what to do. She calmly said, "Tell the waiter that the tortoise meat has been sold out. Next time, in this kind of situation you should remember to provide customers with the dish that earns us the most money."

After following Sister Rong for a while, she told me some inside secrets about the food in restaurants. She told me not to eat white phoenix claws (chicken claws) cooked by our restaurant. Instead of using white rice vinegar to bleach the claws, the chicken claws were whitened by soaking them in Hydrogen Peroxide. Also, the white tripe we served was bleached using an unknown chemical. Rong also suggested that I not eat fried cookies because they all contain sodium borate that harms one's health.

At that time, local people enjoyed eating internal organs, especially tripe. Sometimes when business was slow, the tripes would dry out in the refrigerator and lose their firmness. Rong taught me to make the tripe look fresh again by soaking the tripe in some kind of chemical for an hour, and then put it in boiling water for a while. After washing the tripe with water for an hour, it would be firm again. Actually, the chemical used for soaking the tripe was a corrosive. I had used my bare hands to mix the tripe while it was soaking in the chemical and my hands actually turned brown. After doing this several times, my fingertips were damaged. Rong saw them and said, "Why are you so foolish. Why not use a spoon to stir?" She bought some medicine to treat my wounded hands. I asked her, "The chemical harmed my hands. Won't it hurt people's stomachs?" Rong said calmly, "Don't care so much. Now people pursue the taste, and you just need to know you shouldn't eat much tripe in the future."

Once I asked Rong, "Do all restaurants take inferiors as superiors and mix the spurious with the genuine?" She sighed and said, "People are the same all over the world. They all pursue profit. Furthermore, we just make the best use of everything. If we throw away those dead animals and bad quality food, who would compensate us for the loss even though we guaranteed the
quality? To tell the truth, I don't want to do this, but we receive wages from our employer so we should consider our employer when the opportunity to make money for the business arises. We neither stole nor grabbed [their money]. Our customers came to eat here of their own free will. They can complain if they are not satisfied. They are all intelligent people and know how to protect their rights. You should know that it is not easy to cheat them. Sometimes you really need to have some abilities to cheat people." I couldn't understand Rong's way of thinking very well. I felt that it was not absolutely correct to say that she didn't have professional ethics. No
matter whether I understood or not, the restaurant continued to prosper.

One day, a vendor showed us some very expensive herbs, called aweto, which he was selling for about 6,500 yuan per 500 grams (US$615 per pound). Rong and I went to the storage room to examine the herbs. I heard Rong question the salesperson, "Mr. Wang, are you kidding me? Bring me fresh herbs." I saw Wang walk away embarrassed without saying a word.

After Wang left, Rong spoke to me with an aweto in her hand, "These herbs used to be good, but now they are worthless because they've been cooked and lost their nutritional value." "How could you tell?" I asked curiously. Rong crushed some of the herb in her hand and said, "See, this herb is dry and has no flexibility. Because it's been cooked, it lost its natural color and
became hard. It's flavorless. The sellers cooked their food with the herbs before selling them. They're so unethical." I smiled bitterly and thought that some of the things we did in the restaurant were no better. Rong noticed my expression and continued, "Well, these herbs are really expensive. What we do is nothing compared to this. It's tough to be in the restaurant business nowadays."

Next day, a customer ordered shark fins. After examining the shark fins, Rong immediately told the delivery person to take the fins back. The seller wasn't happy and asked why.

Rong said, "You think I don't know anything?
These shark fins have been chemically processed. Once they are cooked, theywill shrink to one-fifth their original size. Are you trying to ruin our

The seller immediately slashed the price. As Rong was going to
reject the offer, the restaurant owner asked us to use them. Rong had no choice but to buy them at half price. After the seller and owner left, I asked Rong what was the chemical she had referred to.

Rong explained to me, "I only know it's a kind of chemical that can make shark fins grow from the size of a needle to the size of a bean sprout. It's dangerous and you can get sick from eating it." I was shocked and started to worry about those rich people who wanted to eat well to improve their health.

One day in April 2000, a wholesaler brought over some camel humps. Rong asked the wholesaler to cook it and let the kitchen staff taste it. Everyone said it had good texture and told Rong to try it. Rong hesitated and took one bite. I saw Rong secretly spit the meat into the sink drain. From then on, the camel humps became a hot dish in the restaurant. Many customers came back repeatedly and ordered the dish. I liked the texture and snacked on the dish from time to time using the excuse of tasting for flavor. Rong smiled and asked if I really liked the camel hump dish. The question came out of nowhere. I was confused and asked her what was wrong. She chuckled, "Those so-called camel humps are in fact breasts from female pigs." I was quite shocked by what she said and did not believe her. Rong smiled and told me that the wholesaler had admitted it to her. She had been keeping it a secret all this time.

The next day while I was slicing the 'camel humps', I paid close attention to the dark red flesh and found several holes spread out evenly. If they were real camel humps, why were there holes in them? The holes must be what were left after the nipples were removed. The smell of sour milk hit me and then I totally believed what Rong had told me. A few days later, I confirmed it with the wholesaler and he admitted it. I had to admire the thought they put in it. If they called it female pig breast, who would dare eat it? After giving the meat an exotic name its price went up tenfold and could thus be served in a high-end restaurant. I never again wanted to eat 'camel humps' after learning the truth; not even when the kitchen staff wanted me to taste it for flavor. It might sound weird but now every time after I cut the 'camel humps', I can smell the milk on my hands even after I washed them many times.

On a hot summer day in the year 2000, Rong went out and came back with about 100 dead fish. Each of them weighed only about 130 g (~0.3 lb). Rong asked me to check them over and throw away the smelly ones. It took three of us an entire afternoon to finish the job. Rong called Chef Ah Bing to take 30 of them and blanch them in boiling water. Then Ah Bing stir-fried them with ginger and garlic till they turned golden brown. Each fish was put in a small stewing cup and stewed with dried longan and some other Chinese herbs. Rong asked the assistant manager Xiaohong to strongly promote the fish-longan stew for 58 yuan (US$7.2) per cup.

Later, Rong told me that a friend of the restaurant owner ran a fish farm and these young fish had died because of the hot weather. The owner's friend didn't want to waste the fish and asked the restaurant owner and Rong whether they could use them. The owner, without even thinking about it, bought them at 3 yuan (US$0.4) each. According to the assistant manager, the fish-longan stew became extremely popular. One customer came three days in a row asking for the dish. Some people thought it was so good that they took extra servings home. I greatly admired Rong after this. She could turn the rotten into something desirable, and sell something worth 3 yuan for 58 yuan! It was indeed very profitable!

On December 10, 2001, Mr. Zhang, a
factory owner, ordered a dish called "Indian star tortoise stewed with aweto". It was said that he was looking for a cure for his ailment, and Indian star tortoise was said to be effective in treating certain diseases. Indian star tortoise is a nationally protected animal. If it is for sale, it is being sold illegally. Thus it is very rare and expensive. Even the cultivated ones are sold for 12,000 yuan (US$1, 498.35) per kilogram. Mr. Zhang had ordered one kilogram, for which our restaurant would charge him over 10,000 yuan (US$1,248.63). We also added on the cost of the precious aweto herbs.

After the Indian star tortoise was sent over, Rong called Mr. Zhang and asked him to come over and check it. Perhaps Mr. Zhang was reluctant to appear to be too picky, he hesitated. Rong urged, "Mr. Zhang, you have to come to give us some directions. Don't be so old-fashioned. Come and direct us." She flattered him as if he were a specialist. He arrived in high spirits. In order to set his mind at ease, Rong even weighed the tortoise while Mr. Zhang watched.

But the tortoise was not killed. Instead, it was sent back to the storeroom. Rong asked me not to leave after work. At 9:00 pm, after all the staff working in the kitchen had left, Rong asked me to lock the door of the kitchen. Then she took something out of the refrigerator and threw it on the floor. The thing was as hard as stone, and it made a loud thud when it hit the floor. I opened the package and found a dead tortoise inside. Rong laughed and said, "Ah Chang, this tortoise can earn you half a year's salary."

Thanks to Rong's help, my salary at that time had been raised to
1200 yuan (US$150) a month. Rong then threw the dead tortoise into a basin, turned on the tap and let the water wash over the tortoise. After about an hour the tortoise had softened. When I fished it out of the basin, a bad smell hit me. I asked Rong to come and have a look. She looked at the dead tortoise, smelled it and frowned, "Oh, Mr. Zhang is in bad luck. He has to eat this stinking tortoise now. But who will eat it if he doesn't? Our boss had asked three shops before he could get this 'inferior item'. After exchanging the good tortoise with this one, we will earn at least 7,000 to 8,000 yuan (approximately US$875 to 1000)."

I was a little frightened. This is a business worth more than 10,000 yuan (US$1250). If Mr. Zhang finds out and rejects the tortoise, who will pay for it? Since he has spent so much we shouldn't give him something which would harm his health. I murmured, "Sometimes we need to demonstrate that we have a conscience." Rong looked at me for a while. Then she sighed, "This is not the time to talk about conscience. Our boss asked us to do this, and we must do what he says. We just have to. Ah Chang, it is true that people should have a conscience, but it really depends on the situation. If Mr. Zhang went to other restaurants, he would eat similar kinds of things. Don't those who want to get rich fake things? We've already tried our best. We are at least better than those who sell fake medicine. It won't make much difference to Mr. Zhang's health whether he eats this tortoise or not." I had nothing to say. After all, we are only carrying out our boss's orders. Why should I worry?

I started washing the tortoise. Rong asked me to discard all of the flesh on it. I couldn't believe what I heard. What shall he eat if all the meat is eliminated? Rong laughed at me and said, "The meat has all decayed. We would be really harming him if we let him eat the meat. So we have to get rid of it. The efficacy of the tortoise lies in its shell anyway. The shell is very hard to cook. After 20 to 30 hours of cooking, the shell won't be dissolved. The reason why I asked Mr. Zhang to come and check the tortoise was to gain his trust. The meat of the tortoise won't last that long. After 20 to 30 hours of cooking, the flesh would have dissolved into the soup. So removing the meat will prevent the bad taste in the soup. Otherwise our deception will be discovered."

While she was talking, Rong had taken out some meat
from an ordinary tortoise from the refrigerator and put it under the tap to wash. She said, "The meat of the ordinary tortoise can make our dish flawless. Mr. Zhang is really lucky this time. He bought only one tortoise but he will eat two! Of course, when I become rich in the future, I would rather die than eat this kind of thing!" She said laughing loudly. After picking all the meat from the shell of the Indian star tortoise, she stir-fried the shell three times with ginger and shallots. After washing it
again, she tasted the shell to make sure there was no strange taste left. Then she put it into the pot to cook. After everything was done, she asked Uncle Chen who was on night duty to watch the tortoise soup and add in some water once in a while. It was 1:00 a.m. when we left.

At about 9:00 a.m. , the Indian star tortoise soup was sent to Mr. Zhang. Later, the cashier told me that Mr. Zhang was not a fool. He felt the soup was not as good as that served at the Tianshan restaurant. He also had loose bowels after he ate our dish. So he phoned our restaurant to complain, exclaiming that he wanted to be reimbursed 3,000 yuan. Our boss summoned Rong to find out what had happened. She came back looking very unhappy.

Four days later, I didn't see Chef Ah Bing. I asked around and was told that he had been fired the previous evening. It was said that a lot of customers had complained about our soups recently. I knew that the true problem was related to the tortoise soup. The boss didn't know that the soup was actually cooked by Rong and me, nor did Ah Bing know that his dismissal was
caused by a pot of soup that he had not cooked. So Ah Bing was a victim of our deviousness. No matter what, the restaurant still made a profit through selling this tortoise soup, even if it was less than expected.

I didn't dare tell anyone what we had done. I felt dreadful for continuing to work with Rong. I might end up being a scapegoat for her in the future. I wanted to get away from her. So I started to keep my distance, and often found faults with her, which Rong noticed.

I was subsequently fired.

How Cuba survived their Addiction to Oil

“The soil takes millions of years to form, and to destroy - it takes very little time.” -Miguel Salcines

Miguel Salcines is the garden administrator for the Organipónico de Alamar, a 0.7-hectare farm in a Havana suburb. It is one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba and is run by a worker’s collective.

Documentary : The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope.


Megan Quinn of The Community Solution discusses her visit to Cuba, and the movie "The Power of Community". This young woman sees Peak Oil as an opportunity to create the communities we want, but notes that we must reduce our consumption despite environmentalists' assurances that biofuels will save us.

The Documentary on You-Tube
Part 1 http://youtube.com/watch?v=rsnuTb4V9Qo

Part 2 http://youtube.com/watch?v=IwfTSKKThNs

Part 3 http://youtube.com/watch?v=AOnCiFT0x8I

Part 4 http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gt03SSLRXco

Part 5 http://youtube.com/watch?v=7mYEj0Zxi4A

Part 6 http://youtube.com/watch?v=r2ieJWdGZ08


Food Shortage or Not, We are still gonna kick White Farmers off the land!

(humans are fark up creatures, I rest my case)

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=

White farmers in court for growing crops

By Peta Thornycroft, in Johannesburg

Ten white farmers appeared in court in Zimbabwe yesterday accused of growing crops on their land — in a country where millions of people will need food aid within the next few months.The case in Chegutu district, 70 miles southwest of Harare, exposes the perversity of President Robert Mugabe's policies. Commerical agriculture was the mainstay of the economy in the days when Zimbabwe was a food exporter.Since 2000, when the government began seizing white-owned farms, many of them violently, the agricultural sector has collapsed and the economy has gone into freefall, with inflation now at 6,600 per cent, the highest in the world.

The World Food Programme estimates that it will be feeding 4.1 million Zimbabweans, one third of the population, by the end of the year.

But none of that has stopped the Zanu-PF regime.Now the Chegutu group is charged with violating the Consequential Provisions Act, which gave the few hundred remaining white farmers a final deadline of Sep 30 to leave their land and homes. The colonial-era Chegutu courtroom was packed by the so-called "war veterans" who are Mr Mugabe's staunch supporters, and "beneficiaries" who stand to be given the properties should the 10 be convicted.
Among them are Edna Madzongwe, the speaker of parliament, and Nathan Shamuyarira, a former information minister and one of President Robert Mugabe's closest aides.

The farmers, aged from 38 to 75, produce a variety of food from chickens to oranges and have already given two-thirds of their farms to the government for resettlement. All but one still work their remaining land intensively and say they intend to try to continue.
They were remanded on bail and their lawyer David Drury sought to have the case referred to the supreme court, which is due to rule on the constitutionality of the land law. They pleaded not guilty and face up to two years in prison if convicted.

"We have also said that no farmer has received any payment of any kind whatsoever and that the way compensation is decided means farmers would be paid nothing, given that Zimbabwe's inflation rate is over 6,000 per cent," he added.

But a prominent lawyer in Harare said the courts were blocking urgent applications over land cases. "The atmosphere in the courts has changed dramatically in the last week," he said.

Didymus Mutasa, the lands minister, has said that the few hundred remaining white farmers will be forced out, one way or another.

"The position is that food shortages or no food shortages, we are going ahead to remove the remaining whites," he said recently. "Too many blacks are still clamouring for land and we will resettle them on the remaining farms."

In fact many farms were given to members of the government and their cronies, and one minister has admitted that the new farmers have failed in their cultivation efforts.

Outside the court, the scruffy shops of Chegutu were empty of basic foods, and street vendors sold small, sour oranges.

They came from a once-prolific citrus farm in the district now devastated after it was seized by Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, earlier this year.

Gerson Therapy : Alternative Cancer Program


Cancer is a nasty word,

2 in 3 of the few people I know either have cancer or has a family member who has cancer or has a close family member who died from it. One of my very own family member has it. A very personal friend has died from it, another close friend is suffering from it.

Now I don't have that many friends, 2 out of 3 people i know is a LOT to handle!


People are dying from this growing number one killer. Can it be the food we eat, the environment, the pollution? What's going on here? Why are we getting cancer?

My country, Singapore is barely even coping with this dis-ease, our cancer centres are getting over-burdened by the increasing population suffering from it. The only legally recognised treatment is by bombing our bodies with radiation, pumping our bodies with radio-active material (Chemo-therapy) and cutting the bad bits out through surgery. How is that gonna help when the cure is even much dangerous than the dis-ease?

The family was looking for alternative therapy for one of my close family member who was diagnosed with it few months back. Somehow we were guided to Gerson Therapy, GT. It is not an easy program that requires a strict diet of organic produce, juicing throughout the day and eating only specific vegetables and no meats. I might share a little bit more on my experiences with GT in my future post.

I must stress that there are lotsa alternative treatments out there, so keep an open mind and find one that suits you.

The nice folks from the Gerson institute has finally uploaded their introductory DVD call the Gerson Miracle on You-Tube.

It's a little draggy, and has a very annoying and distracting background music, and often a very long-winded and somewhat irritatingly horrible narration, bad editing and direction with some boring parts. Its an one hour half long movie, and with the slow connection on You-tube, it might be a little longer. So pardon the whole boring bits, get through it and you be rewarded.

It does give a little information about what the therapy is all about and how people are cured from it. Just another alternative treatment without poisoning our bodies with radio-active chemicals or surgery in order to cure ourselves.

You can buy the latest book by Charlotte Gerson (daughter of the founded, Max Gerson), "Healing, the Gerson Way, defeating cancer and other illness",it's released just this year.


Here's the Movie, Gerson Miracle on You-Tube :

Chapter 1 Gerson Miracle
Chapter 2 The Discovery
Chapter 3 The Gerson Institute
Chapter 4 Poisoning Ourselves
Chapter 5 Detox, the Clinic, Patients
Chapter 6 Debbie and Stephanie, Patients
Chapter 7 Medication, and Organic Farming
Chapter 8 About our depleted food
Chapter 9 Lead and Poison
Chapter 10 Various Cancer and Diseases
Chapter 11 What Matters

If you wanna download the entire movie and watch it off-line, you can access it here

My Friend, Annie

Link source : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsack/159780793/in/photostream/

Today, I received an email informing that my good friend Annie had passed away in morning. It's quite a shock for me and with deepest regret that I have not been in touch with her since I moved to Singapore four odd years ago.

She made a huge difference in my life and took me into her home and treated me as family wholeheartedly. She supported me while I was discovering myself and allowed me to be self-centered without putting any demands or expectations through-out that rather difficult time in my life. It was because of her, I gradually awaken to who I was and assisted me in my own awareness.

Annie has been one of the very rare people who loves what she does, inspiring others, supporting others, making huge impact in people's lives for the better, creating a huge difference in mine and other people's lives. She helped created a huge space for us to grow and discover ourselves. When you hear her talk on stage, you can really feel her presence, her intention, her loving kindness. She is truly a very inspirational person that transforms you deeply.

Thank you Annie, for being in my life, for being a huge impact in my life, it has been my blessing to know you. With Greatest Love and Gratitude, you are in my heart!

To Marc and Will, you are in my deepest thoughts

When is Roasted Pig Skin not Pork?

Link source from http://www.flickr.com/photos/loupiote/97453730/

Its funny how people's (mammal eaters) perception of food is kinda logically twisted.

This happened to me, not once, but three times.

Given that I don't eat Mammals, that includes pig, one might actually realise that and stop offering me meat.

First time someone offered me Roasted Pork Skin was in Bali. Pork is huge in Bali. Its one of the rare places in Indonesia where eating the pig is allowed, so it was rather popular. The famous Balinese dish, Babi Guning (Roasted Piglet) was served everywhere. My nice Indonesian friend who treated us all to lunch ordered a Babi Guning for us to experience Balinese Cuisine. Of course i politely declined and mentioned I don't eat mammals.

She insisted and cajoled , 'I know you don't take Pork, but at least eat the skin, its well roasted and delicious'. Once again I declined, and still she continued,

'You should really eat the skin, it's not meat, taste a little.'

Second time, was the family who went to a pretty popular Cantonese Restaurant and along with the other traditional Roasted Cantonese meats promptly ordered Roasted Crispy Skin Pork (Siew York). The family insisted that I should try the pork. Once again they had forgotten that I didn't eat meat despite me reminding them constantly that I haven't been eating mammals for few years.

'Try the skin its very cripsy, don't take meat, just eat the skin'

Recently, I had a business function at a old Teochew Restaurant, Guan Hin which served rather good traditional Teochew dishes. The host had specially organised a roasted piglet for each table.

I politely declined citing I don't take red meat. The host decided that even thought I don't take mammals, I could still eat the skin. He proceeded to promptly slap a big fat portion of the pork slice and the extra skin on my plate.

'Come come, I know you don't take meat, just take the meat off and eat the skin, its not meat'

The logic of Mammal eaters, I don't get it.

No doubt "this skin is not meat issue" is gonna continue.

Here's a photo of the famous Babi Guning.

Link source: http://www.99bali.com

E. coli fears trigger large recall of ground beef

(Or how E Coli brings down a top meat processing company who doesn't practise safe manufacturing practices and not too overly concerned about where the source of meat they get from)

After Extensive Beef Recall, Topps Goes Out of Business

Published: October 6, 2007

Topps Meat Company could not recover after pulling back more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products in one of the largest meat recalls in recent years.

Workers leaving the Topps Meat plant in Elizabeth, N.J., on Friday. The company, which opened in 1940, went out of business shortly after it issued a recall that expanded to 21.7 million pounds of ground beef.

In a statement, Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, in Elizabeth, N.J., said that the company “cannot overcome the reality of a recall this large.”

He added, “This has been a shocking and sobering experience for everyone.”

Executives at Topps, which made frozen hamburgers and other meat products for supermarkets and mass merchandisers, declined to discuss how and why the company collapsed so quickly, or whether they could have taken steps earlier to protect consumers or to head off the plant’s closure.

But Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the United States Department of Agriculture, said yesterday that on Thursday the department had served Topps with a “notice of intended enforcement,” a move just short of suspending the rest of the company’s meat production. Topps had stopped producing ground meat as of Sept. 26, but had continued to produce meat products like steaks.

Ms. Eamich said the agency had taken the action because of “inadequate process controls” in the company’s non-ground meat production line.

Agriculture Department officials have acknowledged that they knew that meat from Topps was contaminated on Sept. 7, when the first positive test results for E. coli came back, but that they waited for confirming tests before ordering a recall 18 days later. On Sept. 8, the department informed Topps that its hamburgers were suspected in a case of E. coli poisoning in Florida and requested samples from the plant for testing, officials at the agency said.

The Topps recall came less than a year after Taco Bell was hit by an E. coli scare after diners in several states fell ill, and it has renewed concerns about the safety of the nation’s food supply. Topps is not the first meat company to close after a recall. A Hudson Foods plant in Nebraska shut down in August 1997 after an even larger recall, of 25 million pounds of ground beef, and agreed to be bought by Tyson Foods within a month.

The initial recall of 331,582 pounds of Topps’ frozen hamburger patties was announced on Sept. 25, by which time nearly 30 people had fallen ill in eight states. On Sept. 29, the company issued a much broader recall. Health officials say the first reported case of sickness linked to the O157:H7 strain of E. coli found in the Topps meat occurred on July 5, when an 18-year-old girl in central Pennsylvania fell ill. Three days later, a case was reported in New Jersey. Other cases were reported in Connecticut, Maine, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and New York.

Yesterday, health officials in Minnesota announced that four children had been sickened by E. coli in meat bought at Sam’s Club stores in August and September. Two of the children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kind of kidney failure, and were hospitalized.

The company said a few of its 87 employees would remain at its plant in Elizabeth to help the Agriculture Department investigate how the bacteria might have tainted the frozen hamburger patties made there.

Yesterday, garage doors at the company’s plant were shut, and the window blinds were pulled down. Some workers inside peeked out. Officials held a barbecue where Topps hamburgers were cooked well done, according to Evelyn Hidalgo, a human resources manager. The hamburgers were “delicious,” she said, adding that workers toasted the company as they munched on them.

Workers, who were told of the closing in the company’s boardroom, then trickled out of the plant.

“It was very emotional,” said Vivian Quinones, a customer service worker for two years. Hugging her co-worker Maria Frometa in the parking lot before leaving, Ms. Quinones said the news came “out of the blue. Everyone was somber.”

Elmer Suero left not long after. A member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342-50, Mr. Suero had moved with the company when it shut its factory on 38th Street in Manhattan and reopened in Elizabeth.

“The problem is the beef, not the company,” said Mr. Suero, wearing a white hard hat. “Topps has been in business a long time.”

Topps now must contend with at least one lawsuit, filed on Oct. 1 by Robert and Catherine McDonald of Colonie, N.Y., whose 8-year-old daughter, Emily, got stomach cramps, a fever and diarrhea after eating a hamburger made with Topps ground beef on Aug. 17. Tests later determined that E. coli was to blame. Their daughter spent three days in the hospital. The family is trying to recoup its medical expenses.

The company and a number of retailers have also been hit with a class action suit.

Even without the legal challenges, Topps would have faced a tough road back. Many of its customers are likely to seek other sources of beef. Unlike at more diversified food companies, meat processing was Topps’s main business, which means it had little revenue from other sources.

“It’s one of the problems for a single plant, small or large,” said John Nalivka, the president of Sterling Marketing, a consultant to the meat and livestock industry. “If you have a recall and that plant is down, your whole financial well-being suffers.”

The speed of the events also gave Topps little room to maneuver, particularly if it had to pay to recover its tainted beef from its customers, an expense that could take years to recoup from an insurance company.

“Recalls used to be rolling waves hitting the beach, and now they are tsunamis that choke off the oxygen,” said Gene Grabowski, who runs the crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications and has handled more than 120 recalls. “This is not a giant and not diversified, so when a tsunami hits, it doesn’t have much of a chance.”

Topps opened in 1940 in Manhattan. The founder, Benjamin Sachs, later sold the company to his son, Steven Sachs, according to Ann Sachs, the founder’s former daughter-in-law. A few years before the company moved to New Jersey, Joseph D’Urso became vice president.

After Mr. D’Urso died in 2003, the company was bought by Strategic Investment and Holdings, a large investment firm in Buffalo that has stakes in dozens of companies. The firm declined to answer any questions.

In 2005, an inspection report by the Agriculture Department found that the plant had received processed meat tainted with E. coli. Inspectors found that a supplier had sent 10 bins of the meat to Topps, which had started to process it before being notified about the contamination.

Also in 2005, Topps settled a $1.7 million case with a 59-year-old maintenance man whose arm was amputated in an industrial processor. The same year, a 9-year-old girl sued the company after she became ill from eating a Topps hamburger.

According to industry experts, the size of the Topps recall was probably related to the company’s practice of “carrying over” meat from one day’s production to the next, without giving the older meat a separate batch number. The practice is not in itself illegal or unsafe, the experts said, but in the event of a problem, like an identified case of E. coli, the mixing of several days’ production makes it harder for officials to know the extent of the contamination.

Michele Williams, a spokeswoman for Topps, declined to comment on whether Topps carries over meat without giving it a separate batch number. But Ms. Eamich, the Agriculture Department spokeswoman, said the company did carry over beef.

The Price of Sugar

Ever wonder where sugar comes from?

source : http://www.thepriceofsugar.com/priceofsugarpics

There has been a long history between sugar and slavery since the days where white trade corporations decimated poor Africans back in the early 1500s-late 1800s and sold them off to slave plantations in the United States and the Caribbean.

Yes folks, Sugar, 'the white gold' started the Slave trade back in the 1500s.

Sugar, Slavery and the Americas went hand in hand, like the Devil in a threesome.

Here's a new documentary, The Price of Sugar (to be released worldwide in Nov 2007), about the present state of slavery in our modern world. The documentary has been in the makings for a few years and was pretty much talked about in the torrent world since its gorgeous photo journalistic images were released.

What do you mean by slavery in our modern times? Extremely low wages(way below any min. wage level) , treated like dogs in bad working environment.

As with most of the documentaries out there, it's all about a White activist Spanish priest trying to help the black impoverished natives of Haiti. Consider it is quite ironical, since it was the Spanish Catholic priests back in the 1500s that encouraged the slave trade in the Americas.

A Catholic priest named Bartolomé de las Casas asked King Ferdinand of Spain to protect the Taino Indians of the Caribbean by importing African slaves instead, hence started the whole slave trade.)

It does bring out the issue, the corrupted globalised trade commodity corporations.

Does that make you wonder about the food source we eat? How they get produced, who produces them?

Well, do you even care? I don't think You really Care! You selfish bastard! WAKE UP!

Go watch the documentary!

From the website, http://www.thepriceofsugar.com/

"The Price of Sugar" follows a charismatic Spanish priest, Father Christopher Hartley, as he organizes some of this hemisphere's poorest people, challenging powerful interests profiting from their work. When he arrives in the Dominican Republic, he's warned against entering the sugar plantations where most of his parishioners live. Breaking a centuries old taboo, he discovers shocking examples of modern-day slavery intrinsic to the global sugar trade.

On an island known for tropical beauty, tourists flock to escape winter and relax with little knowledge that just a few miles away thousands of dispossessed Haitians are toiling away in unseen plantations harvesting sugarcane most of which ends up in the United States. Cutting cane by machete, they work 12 hour days, 7 days a week frequently without access to decent housing, electricity, clean water, education, healthcare and adequate nutrition. Often they are stateless, with neither Dominican nor Haitian identity and virtually invisible in the eyes of the law.

Methyl Iodide - Pesticide does not cause Cancer? Oh Really?

(yet again the EPA goes poisoning us for the sake of big profit of a few rich corporations)

EPA approves 1-year use of pesticide
By RITA BEAMISH, Associated Press Writer, Sat Oct 6, 7:01 AM ET

The Environmental Protection Agency gave the go-ahead for one-year use of a new agricultural pesticide Friday, saying its own scientific review overrides health concerns expressed by more than 50 chemists and other scientists.

Methyl iodide, also known as iodomethane, will be allowed to control soil pests "under highly restrictive provisions governing its use," the EPA said in a statement.

"When used according to EPA's strict procedures, iodomethane is not only an effective pesticide, but also meets the health and safety standards for registering pesticides," the agency said.

Methyl iodide was developed by Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corp. as an alternative to the widely used fumigant methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because it depletes the ozone layer. Like methyl bromide, the new product, to be sold under the name MIDAS, kills off weeds and soil pests before planting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The EPA said its decision was based on four years of risk assessment studies, constituting "one of the most thorough analyses ever completed by the agency for a pesticide registration action."

"The agency concluded that there are adequate safety margins and the registration of iodomethane does not pose unreasonable risks," the agency said. Last week, however, a group of 54 scientists, including six Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to EPA urging that the pesticide not be registered for use because of the potential danger to pregnant women and children, the elderly and farmworkers.

California's Department of Pesticide Regulation lists the chemical as a carcinogen and also had expressed objections. Officials have said that whatever EPA's action, use of the new product in California would not be possible before the state concludes its own review in a year or so.

The approval brought immediate reaction from critics. It "will put farmworkers, farmers and rural families at risk," Erik Nicholson of the United Farmworkers of America said in a statement with the Pesticide Action Network of North America. He said the EPA instead should "focus on alternatives that don't view us as disposable human beings who can risk cancer and miscarriages in the name of supposed economic gain."

Robert Bergman, a University of California chemistry professor who was the lead author on the scientists' letter, called the EPA's decision outrageous.

"I think its pretty clear these guys never had any intention of taking our concerns seriously," he said. "They have intended to approve this stuff from day one and we were just a bump in the road."

In a letter Friday to Bergman, EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford said the EPA's scientific analysis had taken into account their concerns and the agency concluded that its risk assessments "are realistic and demonstrate adequate protection for the most sensitive individuals."

Gulliford said the one-year registration will allow for re-evaluation of methyl iodide after new safety measures are put in place for other agricultural fumigants currently under review by the agency.

EPA scientists spoke this week by telephone with Bergman and two other signers of the letter, who repeated concerns about the lack of specific tests evaluating danger to the developing brains of fetuses and infants.

Conditions the EPA is imposing for use of the product include use of government-approved respirators for workers applying the fumigant, buffer zones around the fields to protect bystanders and five-day restriction on anyone entering the fields after the chemical is applied.

Friday's action came after the government postponed a decision last year and again held off last week after receiving the scientists' letter.

Farmers who grow crops such as strawberries, tomatoes and peppers have been struggling to find alternative products that work as well as the banned methyl bromide.

Critics said use of methyl iodide is complicated by its combination with chloropicrin, another soil fumigant that sickened some 125 farm workers who breathed it last week near Reno, Nev.