Mar 29, 2011

New Arkansas Cottage Food Industry Law

My lettuce and greens are starting to come up in the backyard. A nice reminder that spring and the opening of our farmers’ markets are just around the corner. Due to the recently passed Arkansas Cottage Food law, we may find a few more “value-added” products at the markets this year.

What are “value-added” products? For farmers, this usually means a product that they grew and then took it to a kitchen and made it into something more valuable. Like blackberry jam or pickles. Not only can a farmer get additional money for such a product, but he/she can also “save” extra unsold products this way. For example, unsold blackberries could be made into jam or jelly that can be sold later, even during the winter, and unsold cucumbers can be pickled instead of going to the compost pile or to the chickens and pigs.

Previously all value-added products were required to be processed (baked, canned, etc.) in an inspected kitchen. The new regulations now allow for some products, like baked goods, jams and jellies, which are considered to be “low risk” to be made in a home kitchen.

Farmers are still required by the health department to use an inspected kitchen for canned products such as pickles. As you can imagine, this creates a bit of a logistics problem for many small farmers. A kitchen used for your family in your home can’t become an inspected kitchen. Not many small farmers have the funds to build an extra kitchen. This means that a place with an inspected kitchen, like a restaurant or church, has to be found which is willing to rent or loan it to you (when they aren’t using it). Of course, by the time you get all that arranged your left over cucumbers from Saturday’s market have rotted.

Kelly Carney of North Pulaski Farms tells me that as a fruit producer he is glad for the new regulations, but is hoping that a second phase will be implemented next year that will apply to his pickling cucumbers.

If you are a baker or jam and jelly maker, you might be wondering if this new law only applies to farmers. The answer is “no.” Not only can the farmers sell food made in their own kitchens, but now you and I can earn a little extra money with baked goods or jellies from our kitchens too. If you would like to start a cottage food industry, I suggest you read the law and check into it a bit for yourself. There are some labeling and other requirements that you will need to know to proceed. Here’s a copy of the new law.

I believe this is an encouraging step forward for real local food. I asked a representative of the Department of Agriculture this weekend if this means that my children can now legally bake and sell goods for fundraisers rather than selling candy bars. He said that he hadn’t thought about that, but he didn’t see why they couldn’t. Wouldn’t it be great to see our kids selling real food for a change?


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Mar 27, 2011

Reader's Question:: Organic Cinnamon?

A reader asks:
I am curious if you have any info on spices.....are they something that should be purchased organic?  Cinnamon is my main one I am curious about.  I did a quick google search and didn't find any info that popped out at me quickly.  I only had a few minutes.  Just wondering if you have any knowledge about such things. 

Julie says: I practice the 80/20 rule - and spices fall into the unimportant 20% for me (unless the price is near the same)  I figure I don't use that much ...

Erin says: Non-organic spices are irradiated.  You can google irradiation and see if it's something you are concerned about or not.  It's my understanding that irradiation can change the chemical structure so that you may not get the intended benefits (nutritional or medicinal) from the spices.

As far as cinnamon goes, you should know that there are 2 types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia.

A quote:
Often referred to as “real cinnamon” or “true cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon (C. zeylanicum or C. verum) is native to Sri Lanka. This cinnamon is lighter brown in color, papery and brittle and the bark coils into a single spiraled quill.
Ceylon cinnamon is rarely found in United States and has significantly less of the phenolic compound cinnamaldehyde, which imparts the spicy cinnamon flavor and aroma desired by American palates. Instead, this cinnamon has a more delicate and complex flavor, with citrus, floral and clove notes.

You may have seen cinnamon recommended to treat diabetes and other health conditions.  If it's medicinal value you want, then buy Ceylon cinnamon.  We bought some Ceylon cinnamon from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been very pleased.  It has a sweet flavor--so much so that I usually slightly reduce the amount of sugar in recipes that call for both.

If you like the spiciness of grocery store cinnamon and aren't concerned about medicinal benefits, then cassia cinnamon is a great choice.

Lisa says:  I don’t really know how pesticide-laden these items are.  They seem like a small addition, since you usually only add them in small amounts, but I use them generously in my cooking and with herbs they started as a much larger amount before being dried to remove the water (which I guess would concentrate the pesticides?).

I buy as many things organic as I can.  I save money by purchasing a lot of organic herbs and spices in 1lb. bags from Azure Standard and then keep them in my freezer, or seal them airtight with my food savor.

What do you buy?

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Mar 23, 2011

Fluoride Dangers (part II)

Last week, Erin wrote an article on the dangers of fluoride and some of you asked great questions.  Here are her responses; they are helpful and we thought more people would want to read them.

Where can I get clean water?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration system.  The ones that install under your sink cost around $150 from Lowe's.  If you or hubby are handy, then you can probably install it yourselves.  Always double check the specs to make sure it removes fluoride (and any other contaminants you want removed).
Whole Foods - there's a water system/machine at the front of the store.  A gallon is $0.39 - bring your own container.
Walmart Supercenter – most have a Culligan water system (reverse osmosis plus carbon filter) at the back of the store near the bottled water.  It's $0.37 per gallon if you bring your own container, but they also have containers available for an additional fee.  I'm not sure I completely trust Walmart to properly maintain these machines. :)
Distilled water - you can purchase it at almost any grocery store.  I've seen conflicting information about the safety of drinking distilled water, so do your research.
Several brands of bottled water use reverse osmosis filtration.  Read labels.  I know Aquafina and Nestle's Pure Life use RO.  I personally avoid bottled water because of the chemicals in the plastic and the excess waste it creates.
Natural springs: will tell you if there is a natural spring in your area.  The benefit is that the water will contain naturally occurring minerals.

Keep in mind that reverse osmosis and distillation also remove all the helpful minerals from the water, so you might consider a supplement of some kind.

So why is fluoride the darling of the dental profession and various other entities?
This is a complicated question.

I always say, “follow the money.”  The aluminum and fertilizer companies are the first ones to benefit from it since they can sell their toxic waste for profit instead of using costly means to dispose of it properly.  I think the dental profession also stands a lot to lose if fluoride is exposed for what it is.  They will look very foolish at best and downright dishonest at worst.  Can anyone say “lawsuit?”

According to Paul Connett, PhD, “fluoridation provides a convenient cover for many of the interests which stand to profit from the public being misinformed about fluoride.” These include:

The failure of one of the richest countries in the world to provide decent dental care for poor people.
The failure of 80% of American dentists to treat children on Medicaid.
The failure of the public health community to fight the huge over consumption of sugary foods by our nation's children, even to the point of turning a blind eye to the wholesale introduction of soft drink machines into our schools. Their attitude seems to be if fluoride can stop dental decay why bother controlling sugar intake.

The following excerpts are from an open letter on fluoridation by dentist Debra Hopkins from Washington.  I think it is very helpful in clarifying the issue:

“Dentists that support water fluoridation do so based on information they have received from local and national dental organizations such as the Washington State Dental Association and the American Dental Association.  These dentists are unaware of the controversy surrounding the issue because the ADA says there is no controversy. These dentists are unaware of the opposing scientific views because the ADA says it is all "junk science". These dentists are also unaware that the chemical put in drinking water is not sodium fluoride but hydrofluorosilicic acid .”

“Indeed, the subject of tooth decay in poor children in Pierce County is an embarrassing one for the dental profession. But, instead of dealing with the real issues, dentists and our public health officials prefer to pour fluoride in the water. They pat themselves on the back and pretend they are doing something for poor children. At the same time, they have totally failed to fight the huge over-the-counter consumption of sugar containing foods by young children to the point of allowing the introduction of soda pop and candy machines into our public schools. Dentists make no attempt to educate poor families on the value of good nutrition. Over 80% of the dentists do not accept medical coupons, so the poor have almost no access to dental care. This is due to the fact that the State of Washington has an oppressive system for dentists that accept medical coupons and reimbursement for services is minimal. Paradoxically, it is the poor children that suffer the most from the adverse consequences of water fluoridation. And if you look at inner city children across our nation that have had fluoridation since birth, you will find there is absolutely no difference in their decay rate when compared with children in non-fluoridated cities. Poor children get more decay than children in higher income families. Lack of proper nutrition is the number one reason children get tooth decay, not lack of fluoride. ”

“Government officials have put so much of their credibility on the line in support of fluoridation, that it will be very difficult for them to do an about face and speak honestly and openly about this issue. It will be difficult for the dental associations such as the ADA to admit there are health risks because of the liability issues. ”

If you like a good conspiracy theory, check this out:
“Fluoride was the key chemical compound in the production of the atomic bomb, and extensive government information on the serious health risks of fluoride was kept secret both during and after World War II. This helps explain how the fluoride industries were able to get virtually total cooperation from government agencies in covering up industry's fluoride pollution.”

The above quote was taken from an article entitled, “How We Got Fluoridated.”  It has a very detailed chronology and makes for very interesting reading.

The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It ThereThe Fluoride DeceptionThe Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson and The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett also address the history of fluoride use.

Thanks, Erin!

Check out what others are saying on Real Food Wednesday.

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Mar 22, 2011

Tell FDA to Ban Harmful Artificial Coloring

Please take a couple of seconds to add your name to this petition to the FDA to ban food dyes which are linked to ADHD. The petition will be delivered tomorrow, so act quickly. This issue is important to me as a teacher of children with learning disabilities (and as an eater). Artificial coloring is so unnecessary. Honestly, it just makes me angry.

According to an e-mail I received from Fresh:

Food safety officials in Europe have moved much more quickly to protect children from artificial dyes. As a consequence, Kellogg, Kraft, McDonald's, and other American companies that do business in Europe use safe, natural colorings there-but harmful, synthetic petrochemicals here.

For more research and background information, check out "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks," a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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Mar 18, 2011

URGENT Support of Senate "Farmers' Market" Bill Needed

The following article was written by Kelly Carney of North Pulaski Farms. Several of our local farmers have contacted me asking for support for SB820. It seems the general concensus from local farmers I have spoken with is that, while there are problems this legislation may not resolve and a few it may create, overall it is a good piece of legislation. Our farmers who are actually growing their own produce should not have to unfairly compete at "farmer's markets" with those who are reselling cheap produce. Also as a consumer, I believe sellers should be require to disclose food sources (hint: if you see little stickers on the produce, the seller didn't grow it.)

Unfortunately, this morning I just got an update that this bill was pulled for an "interm study." Politics....sigh. In spite of this development, please still contact the Senators involved (see contact info below) and express your support for this legislation. Hopefully, if they hear our support the legislation will be revived. Our voices are important.
Every summer Saturday in Arkansas tens of thousands of dollars are spent on imported produce under the guise of “Farmers' Markets.” It is no wonder that legacy distribution providers and Arkansas’s big agriculture corporations are opposing SB820. (PDF found here.) They have hired lobbyists to work the system using old arguments in hopes of preserving the status quo. They are claiming that the law is too confusing and would hurt small farmers.

But this argument is without merit and nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, I don’t know what’s confusing about a law that requires all produce to be sold only by farmers at anything called "a Farmers' Market." The law does not prohibit crafts or other non-produce items from being sold there; it just says for the PRODUCE that is sold there to be sold only by farmers.

Another thing to note is that this does not add any more work than what most farmers are already doing. Most professional growers maintain a list of the crops they grow. In fact, North Pulaski Farm’s list is published on our website and is a key tool in marketing our crops. This information can then be used by the markets to help better supply the public. Markets can analyze the information and make recommendations to farmers with regard to projected supply. An example would be if everyone decided to grow tomatoes while no one was growing squash. The market could then make recommendations to its farmers accordingly. Farmers will be allowed to amend their list if they see an opportunity to fill a need.

SB820 requires each farmers' market to fill out a form and pay a small fee to get certified by the state. (Small markets will not have to pay the same fee as larger markets.) The Arkansas Department of Agriculture wants this process to be as EASY as possible.

Farmers growing and selling their produce will NOT have to buy a label gun. The farmer only has to identify the contents of the container from which the product is sold. This is already common practice.

The bill does NOT change the current tax rules. Today the ONLY people exempt from collecting sales taxes are farmers selling RAW produce directly to customers. In fact, this bill may actually increase sales tax revenue because the disclosure policy will force more accurate accounting of imported produce.

This bill will help small farms and increase food safety. As you know, food recalls frequently happen and will continue to happen. Knowing WHO grew a product and WHERE it was grown informs the public so it can make good food decisions. Additionally, more small farmers will have access to direct distribution channels to enable them to collect retail prices for their crops. A dollar spent with a small farmer recirculates in the economy more so than most any other dollar spent. And this bill will help create jobs because it helps small farms be sustainable from a business perspective.

The argument for local foods systems is obvious: the greater the amount of local production, the better for local communities. Study after study confirms that even small percentage shifts in buying practices create huge economic impacts. It’s what Arkansans expect at a farmers' market. In 2009, the University of Arkansas surveyed farmers' markets in the state and found that 71% of farmers' market customers go to the market for local reasons.

At a recent meeting of The River Market, I talked to a small farmer who has been spending his Friday nights for the last three years waiting to obtain a spot from which to sell. Since he does not re-sell any products, his attendance is based on when his crops are ready and does not score as well as others who mainly re-sell produce. Is it not enough that he is working the land and is subject to all that Mother Nature has to offer? Must he continue to sleep in his truck because legacy providers don’t want to give up their cash cow?

Arkansas should treat its small farmers better...and this bill does exactly that.

There has never been a more critical time than now or a better law to help small farmers in Arkansas.

1. Call To Action!! Please contact the following state representatives currently serving on the Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee and urge them to support SB820.

Senator Gene Jeffress, 870-689-3537 ,

Senator Stephanie Flowers, 870-535-1032 ,

Senator Jimmy (Jim) Jeffress, 870-364-8291 ,

Senator Jim Luker, 870-238-8588 ,

Senator Mary Anne Salmon, 501-753-4521,

Senator Randy Laverty, 870-446-5005 ,

Senator David Wyatt, 870-613-3014 ,

Senator Mike Fletcher, 501-802-3114 ,

--Kelly Carney, North Pulaski Farms

Speaking as a local-buying, farmers' market-frequenter, I absolutely favor farmers' markets where the produce sold there is actually GROWN in Arkansas! The River Market Farmers' Market shamelessly allows food from all sorts of places, pushing out our small, local farmers. The whole idea of buying locally is so that our revenue stays HERE as our revenue. Besides, it's more environmentally-friendly and sustainable and puts the power back in the hands of the consumer. You want more squash? Ask for it. You want to know the methods by which that squash gets grown? Ask...and get a real and honest answer straight from the horse's mouth. Isn't that better than buying from people who didn't do the growing and who purchased the produce from two or threes states away and then trucked it in, passing it off as implied "local produce" at your local farmers' market?

The simple fix is to let Congress know we support this bill (SB820) and want to see farmers' markets certified by the Department of Agriculture, the most important requirement of which is that produce sold there must be grown in the state or within 150 miles of the market itself. We want our "local food" to actually be...ummm...LOCAL!


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Mar 15, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere...Nor Any Drop to Drink

by Erin
I spent a lot of time in the dentist's office as a child.  During many of these visits I cringed and cried.  The absolute most dreaded experience for me was the fluoride treatments.  It tasted nasty, kind of burned, and it seemed to take FOR.EV.ER.  The drool would build up, and I just knew some of that goo was going down my throat.  ICK!  Little did I know that my aversion was legitimate.  There is a growing amount of research data showing that there are dangerous consequences from ingesting fluoride.

In my research, I've seen medical literature linking fluoride to asthma, infertility, thyroid dysfunction, headaches, gastric distress, acne, bone fractures, osteoporosis, joint pain, ruptured tendons, kidney and liver damage, reduced IQ, decreased memory, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired glucose metabolism, cardiac dysfunction, bone cancer, calcification of the pineal gland, sperm damage, and lead poisoning.

There are only a few ways to remove fluoride from water including distillation, reverse osmosis filters, and activated alumina filters.  But avoiding fluoride isn't as easy as buying a filter for your house.  Beer, wine, fruit juices, infant formula, processed cereals, bottled water, soft drinks, tea, antibiotics, toothpaste, and pesticides can contain high amounts of fluoride (Source).  It is also found in mouthwash, teflon, and antidepressants like Prozac.

The truth about fluoride:

1. The fluoride added to our drinking water is NOT naturally occurring.  It is known as sodium fluorosilicate or fluorosilicic acid and is a by-product of the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries.  It cannot be released into the air (illegal--air pollutant) or dump it into streams (also illegal—water pollutant), but it can be sold to water treatment plants as an additive.  Some water utilities purchase these additives from industries in China as well as in the U.S.

2. Fluoride is the only chemical added to our water to treat humans.  The other chemicals are added to treat the water itself (e.g. chlorine)

3. Most European countries (around 98%) do not fluoridate their water.  Their rates of tooth decay are virtually the same as the U.S. 

4. Fluoride works topically when in contact with the outer surface of tooth enamel, not systemically when ingested.

5. Fluoride is not essential for our bodies to function.

6. Fluoride competes with iodine in our tissues, organs, and cells.  Iodine IS essential to virtually every process in our bodies.

7. Fluorine is the most electronegative and reactive element in the Periodic Table. As a result, fluorine is capable of forming complexes with many of the metals found in enzymes, therefore causing enzymatic impairment. Fluorine also reacts with the calcium ion to form calcium fluoride, causing hypocalcemia by binding the calcium thereby decreasing the amount available for other processes.

8. Sodium fluoride (hydrofluosilicic acid) is rated as more toxic than lead in chemistry indexes and only slightly less toxic than arsenic.  It is used in insecticides, roach killer, rat poison, and toothpaste.

9. Dental fluorosis (see link for pictures) can cause chalky white spots as well as brown spots.  After asking about some white spots on my teeth, I was told by my former dentist that fluorosis only causes brown spots.  Au contraire.

10. Fluoridated toothpaste contains this warning:
"WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”

According to my calculations, you should seek immediate medical attention after drinking one 10 oz. glass of Little Rock city water.

11. There is enough fluoride in a tube of toothpaste to kill a child if he ingested the contents in their entirety.

12. Central Arkansas Water uses sodium fluorosilicate as it's source of fluoride.  The current level in Little Rock is .80 mg/L.  (Source)

13. Children ingest more fluoride than adults and are more at risk for fluorosis.

14. The amount of fluoride in breastmilk is .004-.009 mg/L, regardless of the mother's fluoride intake.  Hmmmm.  I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that. :)

“Babies should not receive fluoride supplementation during the first six months of life, whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.”

     • Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for your Baby and Young Child, 2009 (as cited by

“If you add fluoridated water to your infant’s baby formula, you may be putting your child at risk of developing dental fluorosis…When formula concentrations need to be diluted, it is recommended parents use bottled water that is fluoride-free or low in fluoride water or tap water from a reverse osmosis home water filtration system, which removes most of the fluoride…”
• Academy of General Dentistry, Monitor Infant’s Fluoride Intake, 2007

Infants drinking formula made up with water containing 0.7 mg/L fluoride will receive approximately 175 times more fluoride than a breast-fed infant (and that's not even including the amount of fluoride already present in the formula itself).  Sure, filters are available, but what about low income families?  Can they afford alternatives?

I don't know about you, but I have a problem with mass medicating the population through our drinking water.   Placing medication in our drinking water is medical malpractice and unethical—it is not dosed according to the patient's medical history and is not evaluated on an individual basis for efficacy or side effects.

Just last week, I heard a very misleading “public service announcement” by the Arkansas Department of Health (Division of Oral Health) talking about the benefits of fluoridated water.  This same department is responsible for the recent fluoride legislation that was quickly pushed through the Senate and House with little public notice.  It is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Beebe.

So what can you do???  I'm so glad you asked!  Here are some ideas:

We can start by asking the water utilities to add a warning on their bills not to use fluoridated water for infants.  Here is a quote from the Fluoride Action Network:
Since 2006 the American Dental Association, dental researchers, and medical organizations throughout North America have recommended that infants not consume fluoridated water in an effort to reduce the risk of fluorosis.  While dentists have been warned by the ADA, little has been done to warn the general public or government officials.  We believe that if a community adds fluoride to the water, it has the responsibility to at least disclose it to customers, and act to protect the most vulnerable population--our children--by warning parents about the risk of fluorosis.
Ask Walmart and other grocery stores to stop selling fluoridated “Nursery Water” for infants.
Ask your local library/bookstore to carry The Fluoride Deception by Chris Bryson and The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett.
Tell your friends and family what you've learned about fluoride.  Share this article on Facebook. (See button at bottom of this post if you're reading from the web.  If you're reading in Google Reader or an email, there are little blue words "share on Facebook" at the bottom.)
Write a letter to your local newspaper.
Send an Online Message to Congress in support of the Professionals' Statement Calling for an End to Water Fluoridation and a new Congressional Hearing. To send your letter, click here.  If you're an Arkansan, contact Governor Beebe's office and ask him to veto the recent fluoride legislation.
Ask your local grocery store to provide a non-fluoride toothpaste alternative.

If you're convinced of the dangers of fluoride, print this article and take it to your next dental cleaning and kindly refuse the topical fluoride treatment.

There is a really great 28-minute video called “Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation” in which 15 prominent scientists explain why they are opposed to this practice. It can be accessed online here.


Be sure to read part II here.

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Mar 13, 2011

Pots, Pans, Dishes: Which Ones are Safe?

Here's a question from a Real Food in Little Rock reader and my (Lisa's) answer. We thought it might be beneficial to others. This is a difficult topic about which to get accurate information. We welcome input from others who have done some research in this area.

Hi Lisa & Julie,

Have you done any blog posts about pots and pans that are safe to use? I am doing a lot of reading about that right now, and it’s so hard to sort through what is safe – or safe enough and affordable. Do you have any thoughts you can share about what you’ve chosen to use for your own families?

That's a tough subject. I've done research, but still don't know for sure. This is what I've chosen for now.

Vision Cookware - made of glass. I use Vision pots on the stovetop. These pots are no longer manufactured because there were problems with them shattering when the temperature is changed too quickly. They can only be purchased used. I've had trouble with chipping and breaking mine, but I've not had any of them shatter or explode from temperature change. I heat them carefully and don't go straight from the refrigerator to high heat. Food burns easily to the bottom of these, so they are best for soups, liquids, vegetables...things that don't burn quickly. You can buy them on Ebay.

Cast iron skillets. I recently read some things about possible dangers of the preseasoned ones, but I don't really know anything about this. Mine were preseasoned, but I expect they've gotten enough use and re-seasoning by now that whatever that was is gone. I use a light coat of spetrum coconut spray on the skillet before pre-heating, then add any additional oil I want before putting the food in the pan. This works well to prevent sticking - even eggs. You can buy fitted potholders for the handles, like the red one in the picture, at Cracker Barrel.

Soapstone pot. I love my soapstone pot. It is heavy and was expensive, but they are supposed to last many lifetimes. It is great for cooking rice, beans, soups, oatmeal. I use it mostly on the stovetop, but sometimes in the oven, as well. It heats evenly and keeps food warm for a long time.

Hamilton Beach crockpot. Hamilton Beach claims there is no lead in their ceramic coating. I hope this is true. I have the version that has 3 interchangeable crocks of different sizes. The largest is a 6 quart which I use to make broth. I use my crockpot constantly.

I also have a large 7 quart Cook's enamel coated cast iron pot from Penny's which I use occassionally on the stovetop and in the oven. I have no idea if the coating is safe. I love the way they cook, but the coating isn't durable for someone who cooks as much as I do. I had a 3 quart pot which I used every day. After about 6 months the enamel had crack lines all through it and had chipped off in places. This motivated me to invest in the soapstone which I won't have to replace.

I use wooden spoons with all my cookware, not only because they are non-toxic, but also because they don't scratch. I purchased my wooden spoons from They are used constantly in my kitchen.

After researching lead in the glazes on dishes, I opted for cheap clear glassware from Bed Bath and Beyond and Garden Ridge. They sell it for weddings and stuff. 8 dishes for $8 - can't beat that. We break it frequently, but it's cheap to replace.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you discover anything really helpful in your research. I still have a lot of questions about cookware myself.

See what others are saying on Monday Mania with The Healthy Home Economist.

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Mar 11, 2011

(Christmas) Brunch Casserole

You've probably already got two questions just from reading the title.

1. Is it Christmas already?

2. Does this girl love breakfast or what?? (See this recipe and this recipe for a little taste (get it?) of my obsession.)

Well, no, it's not Christmas. (And my pocket book is thankful.) But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a holiday family tradition any ol' time! (Granted, it's MY family's holiday tradition; maybe not yours.)

But, yes. I do love me some breakfast.

In fact, I love breakfast so much I sometimes want it for supper! Talk about comfort food!!

You may already have this recipe or one similar. But I do mine "real food" style. It's one of those recipes that happens to be E-A-S-Y to alter to my family's standards. As you may know, that's not always the case. This one is simply a matter of quality of ingredients: raw milk, pastured eggs, raw cheese, sourdough bread, grass-fed breakfast sausage. The recipe itself is quick and easy. If you want it for breakfast, do the mixing the night before. If you want it for supper, do the mixing that morning.

1. Brown a pound of sausage over medium heat.

2. While the sausage is cooking, cube six slices of sourdough bread. I use sourdough over other breads because it absorbs the egg as well as white bread (which the original recipe calls for) and looks appetizing in the dish. (Whole wheat bread retains its brown color, so you end up with big brown chunks in your egg casserole. Not that that's extremely important, but...) Besides, some would argue sourdough bread is healthier because of the natural leavening process, as opposed to the use of commercial yeast in other breads. Not to mention the fact that it's a fermented food.

3. Next, lightly beat eight eggs in a large mixing bowl. (Can you guess which two hens didn't eat as many bugs??)

4. To the beaten eggs, add two cups milk, the cubed bread, the sausage (after draining), one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon dry mustard, and a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

5. Mix well and then pour into a well-greased 9x13" casserole.

6. Now the wait begins. Cover the casserole and place in the refrigerator overnight or approximately eight hours before you plan to cook and eat it.

7. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I usually set my casserole out on the counter for a while prior to and during the preheating of the oven so it can come more to room temperature before baking. Bake for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 10. Goes great with a fruit salad at dinner or with the "full spread" at a brunch.

Printable version:

Christmas Brunch Casserole

1 pound sausage, cooked (preferably grass-fed)
6 slices bread, cubed (preferably sourdough)
8 eggs, slightly beaten (preferably pastured)
2 cups milk (preferably raw)
1 cup shredded or grated cheddar cheese (preferably raw)
1 teaspoon salt (preferably Real Salt)
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

I am a Food RENEGADE!

Speaking of food...heehee...we tend to do that a lot around here...I've been posting my weekly menu plans (to help myself become more organized), as has Julie. I'm thinking of doing a sort of blog carnival each week. If some of you fellow foodies blog, perhaps you'll consider linking up with your own menu plans! Do it your own way. I plan all three meals on a weekly basis, Julie plans dinner only but for two weeks at a time. Anything goes! I would love to see several "real food" lovers share their menus with the rest of the world. Let me know if you're interested!!


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Mar 8, 2011

Creamy Tacos, y'all

Hey foodies, HB here.

If you've lived in the south for any number of years, you've likely heard of creamy tacos. I was first introduced to them during college and later found a recipe for them in the cookbook my childhood church compiled. Heaven help, they are dang good, but so full of some seriously random and processed ingredients. So, like any food-loving fool, I came up with a way to make them on my own, sans brick chili and Velveeta (i.e. my first love).

I must warn you that creamy tacos are not what they seem. They are basically nachos/taco salad/divine. Read the recipe, buy the goods and make someone happy. I wish I had a picture of the completed masterpiece. This boring old recipe will have to do. :)

Creamy Tacos, unprocessed, unrefined, full of gas-giving life
3 pounds ground beef
3 cans rotel
3 cans ranch style beans (you could make 'em from scratch, recipe here, I encourage you to be like me and punish your inner perfectionist by buying them in the can) .
2 blocks cream cheese
3 cups shredded cheddar
1 quart heavy cream
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1-2 tablespoons onion powder
1-2 teaspoons red pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2-3 tablespoons cumin

So, get your meat in a huge pot and start it to browning. Then, cover the meat in all those delish spices while it's browning. Start on the low end of quantity with the spices, bc you can always amp it up at the end. Once the meat is browned, push meat to the side of the pan and scoop out most of the fat as it collects on the other side (tip your pan to the side without meat). Then, add the cream cheese and cheddar, stir till they melt and are blended well. Throw in the rotel, beans and gradually add the cream. Heat the mixture slowly and taste and correct seasoning as you like. Heat all this yummy goodness and serve it over lettuce and tortilla chips, top with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, whatever floats your boat. Enjoy! This will serve roughly 100 people. Just kidding, more like 15.

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Mar 3, 2011

Linky Love

- Read if you dare: Krispy Kreme Deconstructed - What are all those 50+ Ingredients?

- Soaking grains verses sprouting grains: which is best?

What does your skin eat?

- Cultures for Health: How to Videos - Yogurt, Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Sourdough and more.

- Julie's favorite: Kelly the Kitchen Kop's interview with Sally Fallon Morell.  Sally is the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat Loose Fat.  The interview is about how WAPF was started.

My favorite quote:

Sally: [ oldest son] said, “Mom we figured out that you’re really weird.” I said, “You know what Nick, I’m the only mom you’ve got! So you’re just going to have to live with that.”

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