Tag Archives: food

The Bottom Line

Photo courtesy of Morguefiles

Last night I read an article online about the 10 best tasting hot dogs in America.  My favorite brand, Coleman hot dogs (no added hormones or antibiotics-ever), was on the list. Number one was Hebrew National Franks.

Now I am always looking for a good new hot dog, but because of my recent bout with breast cancer, I like to make sure they only contain beef that has never had added hormones or antibiotics.

I checked out the Hebrew National site. If they’re Kosher, does that mean no added hormones or antibiotics? No information was on the site, so I wrote to the company, Conagra, that makes the Hebrew National line.

“Are your beef products made using beef that does not contain any added hormones or antibiotics?” I asked.

Here is the company’s response:

“Thank you for your email concerning our Hebrew National Franks.

The animals are tested to assure there is no presence of antibiotics. This is a requirement of the USDA that livestock and poultry flocks be tested for residual antibiotic after the specified withdrawal time.

It is prudent to assume that if a beef product is not marketed as “contains no growth hormones”, that it may contain growth hormones.

There are no regulations that require the disclosure of any use of growth hormones to be indicated by a beef supplier.

The USDA is a great resource as well for this information:

Your comments are extremely valuable, and they help us make the food you love even better.

Thanks again for your feedback. We’re listening!”

It’s a very pleasant email. It’s polite and addresses my concerns. So why the hell did it piss me off so much?

It’s a bit like coating poison in honey. Someone who wasn’t paying attention, who didn’t notice an off taste or smell, might ingest the full dose and drop dead.

Take a look at the first sentence, addressing my question as to whether the beef contained antibiotics. Notice how they reassure me that there is no presence of antibiotics in the beef and then end the sentence with “after the specified withdrawal time.” In other words, yes, the cattle WERE fed antibiotics and the beef did (and possibly still does since every steer and every ounce of beef cannot be tested) contain antibiotics, but that information is downplayed by the very positive, “The animals are tested to assure there is no presence of antibiotics.”

Note their response to my question as to whether the beef contains added hormones. They don’t deny that it does, but then they brush over that fact by reassuring me that there are no “regulations that require the disclosure of any use of growth hormones to be indicated by a beef supplier.”

Well, I feel better now because we all know that the regulators, the FDA and USDA, would regulate something that was dangerous to humans right? They wouldn’t allow a substance in the food supply that was suspected of increasing the insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which in turn is suspected of increasing the rates of colon, breast and other cancers, would they (Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), Oregon Chapter)?

So why have almost all industrialized countries, except the U.S., banned the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in beef and dairy (Dairies Nix Artificial Hormone)?

Could it be that other industrialized nations care more about the welfare of their people and the quality of their food production than the bottom line?

No, it couldn’t be, right? The FDA is on our side. After all they didn’t let red dye 2, which caused cancer (REGULATION: Death of a Dye), into consumer products, did they?

So it must be ok to eat Hebrew National franks.

Thanks, FDA and Conagra, for caring.

For those of you who are concerned about consuming beef and dairy that contain rBGH, here is a resource for finding rBGH-free products:

rBGH (rBST) Free Dairy Processors: Top 100 List (as of 9/15/10)


Picture Gallery- Tamales from Start to Finish

I spent the day making traditional Mexican tamales. It took four hours of preparation and 2 hours of cooking. I now have delicious tamales to eat.


Perfect Poet Award for Week 34

Thanks Jingle for the award! In celebration, I offer a poem:

A Love Poem

Your softness sends shivers up my spine.

You promise me fulfillment

and sweet memories for days to come.

I anticipate you with every waking breath.

I ache with undying desire.

You are my love

and my dream,

oh coconut cream


Haha! What did you think I was talking about love between a man and a woman? Nah, I’m not that kind of poet. 🙂

For Week 35, I nominate Fyodor Lewis

Rally on!

Ice Cream- A Lover’s Perspective

Flickr photo by jd.inaz

A smooth, round scoop of creamy vanilla delight nestled between its strawberry and chocolate cousins, a drizzle of hot, thick fudge, a sprinkle of nuts, and a dollop of whipped cream. The cold of the first bite sends ripples of pleasure through my tongue and goosebumps down my arms. I slide my spoon into the cream that tops the sundae and slowly lick it off, savoring its rich flavor. Next the fudge, I mix a bit of it with the nuts and ice cream- pure ecstasy. I explore the soft center of this creation, blending a bit of all its luscious components. The flavors meld in my mouth, pure harmony. There is nothing better on a hot day than an ice cream sundae.

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com

Picky Me

I read a post today on Shine from Yahoo that said the American Psychological Association is considering classifying picky eating as an eating disorder. I wanted to print the post, frame it, and hang it in the kitchen for all to see. I am, you see, the quintessential picky eater. Oh how nice it would be to blame it on a disorder! The article went on to say that unlike other eating disorders, picky eating is not life threatening. I had to laugh. The author obviously never considered the danger picky eaters face from parents who want to strangle them at every meal. I know my mother probably needed years of therapy once I was done with her. I was/am so obsessed with my food presentation that I actually developed a set of eating rules that I follow to this day. So now, for those of you who struggle to categorize your picky-ness, I have compiled a helpful list:

No! Milk is never a beverage! See Rule #1.

Rule #1: Ok, folks, write this down: milk is never drunk! It is not and never will be a beverage. Never, never, never! You may cook with it, bake with it, or add it to your cereal. But when you finish eating the cereal, the extra milk gets dumped. This is very important to remember. This rule may never be broken.

Rule #2: Cheese can only be eaten if it tastes like butter or pizza. When you order a pizza, though, always ask for extra sauce and less cheese so your taste buds don’t get offended by that yucky white stuff. This, of course, limits the types of cheeses you can eat, but who cares? Think about it, cheese is made using the enzymes from a cow’s or goat’s stomach. Eww! And then there’s that whole mold issue…moving on.

Rule #3: Yogurt is avoided at all costs (see note on goat stomachs in Rule #2).

Rule #4: Eggs must be thoroughly cooked, no runny yolks. This rule was instituted after I accidentally collected a chicken’s nest when I was a kid. Mom cracked open an egg over the fry pan, and out popped this mucous-y, stinky embryo. I still get flashbacks when I see an undercooked egg.

Rule #5: Real butter is good. Use lots of it. Eat it plain if the urge strikes you.

Rule #6:Don’t let the elitists sway you- ketchup is good on steak, provided that the steak is not accompanied by any other sauce, which brings me to…

Rule #7: Sauces can’t mix. If you have more than one item with a sauce, they must be served on separate plates. Also, foods with sauces, in general, cannot touch foods without sauces. There are some exceptions, but when in doubt, serve on separate plates. That way, if you aren’t sure, you can dip a little teeny weeny edge of the dry food into the sauce to see if they are compatible.

Rule #8: Wet foods may not touch dry foods or foods cooked in oil. For example boiled cabbage cannot be on the same plate as say fried chicken or sauteed asparagus. The water might run across the plate and touch the chicken and asparagus. Bread should not touch anything that is wet lest it becomes soggy.

Rule #9: It is fine for foods prepared in the same manner to touch. So if you have grilled some summer squash, and it touches grilled chicken, it will be ok.

Rule #10: Barbeque sauce may never touch anything except what it is barbecuing. I don’t want to see barbeque sauce on my corn, my salad, my bread, or anything else it was never intended for.

These are all good items for a salad.

Rule #11: Cole slaw must always be served separately. It is not allowed to touch anything.

Rule #12:Salads are also always served separately. Plus, except for croutons or bacon bits (but see below for bacon bits rule), salads should only have greens and other salad vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots…and maybe some jicama. Bacon bits must be real bacon and they can only be used with certain salad dressings, like 1000 Island. Also, salad dressings should be used in moderation. Why eat a salad if you’re really only interested in the flavor of the dressing? Just skip the greens and eat the dressing straight if you have to.

Rule #13: Desserts, of course, are always served on a clean, separate plate. Sweet does not get mixed with salty- and don’t throw the bacon and maple syrup argument at me. That’s just gross. What a way to ruin perfectly good bacon!

Well, I think that’s it. This should provide you with all the guidance you need when you are dining. I find that the rules are most easily implemented if you have either really big plates or lots of small ones. I hope this helps. Buen provecho!

A properly presented plate. Notice the clean margins around each food item.

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com

Part III: Taking Control

The surgery was successful. There was no cancer in the surrounding tissues or in the lymph nodes. I rest on Saturday and Sunday, then get up on Monday to go to work. I get up on Tuesday and Wednesday and go to work. On Thursday, I cannot get up. I am sick in every corner of my body. I call my boss, who tells me that she was about to tell me to stay home, but she knew I needed to come to that conclusion myself. I call the nurse who tells me in a firm, angry voice that I should not have been going to work, that I could cause all kinds of complications. The sharp tone of her words cuts through me like a knife and I struggle not to cry. She is just doing her job, but if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

A week passes, an entire week in bed. I don’t have too much pain, and I am not as tired as I was the first week. I begin to resume normal activities. I go to the doctor for follow-up after surgery. I am surprised when another doctor- male and cute- enters the room. He is the resident that will be assisting my doctor today on her rounds.

No, no, no! Not again! I mean what is this? Did the powers that be have a conference and decide that this semester, since I would be having breast cancer treatment, all of the cute, male residents would be doing their rounds in the world of boobs? Where are all the female residents?

The resident has a look of confusion on his face. He looks at me, then looks at his chart. He comments that they don’t usually see patients as young as me. He seems to have difficulty looking me in the eye as he interviews me on my progress since the surgery. I watch in amusement as he talks to me. His eyes are glued to my chest until they flit away to look at some other part of the room before coming to rest on my breasts again. For now, at least, they are still covered. He finishes with his routine questions, then leaves to get the doctor. He returns a few minutes later, shadowing my doctor. As the doctor pulls back my gown, the resident eagerly looks at my incision and my breast but still does not look me in the eye.


Two guys have seen the goods, and I haven’t even gotten dinner or a movie. I have a feeling that my future holds a lot more of this. I am about ready to just take a picture of myself and paste it on a local billboard. Get it over with and out of the way.

It turns out cancer is not as cut and dried as I thought. The next step is to send the tumor to pathology so that they can map the genes in the tumor. This will take about two weeks. Based on which genes are switched on and which are switched off, the pathologist can determine my risk of recurrence. If it is very likely that the cancer will return, I will need chemotherapy. Meanwhile, I am being referred to a radiation oncologist and a general oncologist for more treatment. I am waiting to hear from them to set up appointments. I think of those who have money and can get everything done at once. They have answers right away. I have to wait. It does not seem fair that I have to deal with the cancer and the months of waiting too, but I have no other options.

While I wait, I decide to make some changes. I decide to limit myself to an average of two drinks per week since, according to the latest studies, women who drink more than that have a higher recurrence of breast cancer. Since my diet, weight, and level of exercise are all fine, I do research to try and see what other factors might have contributed to me getting cancer. I suspect that even though I cook at home, food processing may be a factor. I am now very skeptical of the hormones and antibiotics they feed cows, pigs, and chickens to make them produce more milk and meat in a shorter period of time.

I am trying to go organic as much as possible to limit my exposure to toxins. Of course, this is more expensive. But my health is worth it. You literally are what you eat. I have nothing to lose if I am wrong here. I am eating healthier. When I bring this up to my doctors, they all say the same thing: “I think that’s a very good idea. It’s a shame that people have to pay more money to eat healthy.” My doctor also tells me to drink more green tea. I tell her that I am already drinking it because I like it and it’s free at work.

To try to limit the expense of the food, I look for some alternatives. I join a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). For $20 a week, a local, organic farm delivers to my door a half bushel of fresh produce from their fields. I buy fresh eggs at Hallmark! Ha ha! The owner of the Hallmark up the street has a local hobby farm with some chickens (one who is named Mabel). He brings in eggs from the farm every day to sell. You pay cash, since it isn’t part of Hallmark, and they are absolutely delicious. They remind me of the eggs we used to get from the chickens I raised as a kid- hard shells, rich, brightly colored yolks, flavorful.

I need to feel some control.

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com

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