It's safe to say we live in an age where pretty much nothing is shocking.
Technological improvements, scientifi c discoveries, and consumer health reports have supplied us with enough groundbreaking revelations that we anxiously await and often cringe at the thought of what's next. The fact that scientists can inject genetic information into existing cells to create new DNA code is simply yesterday's news and today's meal. If you had a Depressionera reared grandmother like I did you know more than others about what honest, pure produce looks, feels, and tastes like. What you remember to be wholesome home-grown, seedy, plump tomatoes with a short shelf life have been replaced with today's seedless, massive varieties with a longevity nothing short of miraculous. In the mid-1980's, biotechnology giant Mansanto began genetically altering corn.
The idea was to create a powerful protein to withstand the herbicide Roundup and eradicate weeds but not crops. The other plague to the crop was an insect called the corn borer which this herbicide exterminated completely. In order to maintain the money making harvest and rid the fi eld of pesky interruptions, the company made small changes to the corn's genetic information which were expressed by the product as unnatural proteins. It is the alteration of the organic DNA that creates the foreign substance; an artifi cial protein that attacks the human immune system and makes the crop less authentic. Those changes have initiated such controversy that the independent farming world is beginning to act as a small but mighty force all its own.
After much time abroad, particularly time spent in Europe, I've noticed that food varieties across the pond are simpler and less altered by man. I'm going to talk about a subject that has nipped at my own guts for years now – gluten. I have a gluten intolerance, one that is so serious it sends me into horrible cramps and proctalgia fugax (more than you wanted to know about my insides, I'm sure) all after just one slice of pizza. More people are discovering that gluten is responsible for the stomach pains, cramps, and gas they have suffered over time. Awareness certainly brings the issue into perspective. The effects of modifi ed foods range from intestinal upset to attacks on the nervous system. First, lets talk about how serious something effecting your central nervous system (CNS) can be.
I recently read an article about a woman who had suffered excruciating and often crippling pain. For years she tried various medications, chalking it up to hormones and environmental allergies. After maxing out on allergists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, Lyme disease specialists, and nutritionists, she found a Doctor that pushed aside her thick medical fi le to personally examine her case. Paris Mansmann, MD of Maine was a Doctor that concluded her symptoms were the result of genetically modifi ed corn. Mansmann, a prodigy in the multisystemic disorders related to eosinophil overproduction listened patiently, swabbed her nose, and under the microscope determined what a slew of Doctors in the past had missed. Eosinophil overproduction is the body's natural reaction to foreign substance. The eosinophils are the white blood cell “damage control” agents of the body, mass producing to eliminate any virus, foreign substance, or parasite. Allergenic proteins, like those found in GMO products, can be mistaken for harmful substances to a healthy human body and send the consumers system into shock. Eosinophils can create major obstruction to the natural functions of the body by attacking the foreign material and overproducing to the point of damage. They leave the bloodstream and infi ltrate the lining of the esophagus, the GI tract, lungs and mucous membranes. To make things worse, they can affect the CNS via vasodilation and penetrate the fascial system – the connective tissue highway surrounding muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Once the damage reaches the CNS, it is a sure sign that an allergen has taken it's lengthy course and perpetuated systemic shock due to a lack of natural elimination. Most allergic reactions start in the intestinal tract. Stomach pain, some gas, a bit of bloating, perhaps a rash – but when you cannot uncripple your hands as though you were suffering severe rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms scream major impairment. Genetically modifi ed corn is the major culprit. Dr. Mansmann advises, “It's almost impossible to fi nd a corn source in the United States that doesn't have the protein in it. The US government started approving GMO corn and soybeans for sale in the mid 1990's, and today, 88% of corn and 93% of soybeans are the transgenic varieties. Due to cross pollination via winds, birds, and bees, there's no such thing anymore as a GMO free corn crop.” A scary thought, indeed. The genetic mutation of produce has spread across the board. Seedless tomatoes, watermelon, and grapes are now available while strawberries, blueberries, and citrus dominate supermarkets in larger, plumper sizes. Finding fruits and vegetables that are out of season on your grocer's shelves doesn't necessarily mean they were fl own in from a nearby tropical market, rather their structural code has been enhanced to withstand climate change along with pesticides. If you think the gauntlet stops at non protein substances, think again. The United States has proceeded forward with the public sale of genetically mutated salmon. The AquaAdvantage salmon grows twice as fast as normal salmon and has been subject to a contentious debate at the Food and Drug Administration agency. From the FDA's environmental assessment, "The fi sh will not have any signifi cant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States." Regulators concluded that the fi sh is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a subject over which environmental activists have expressed extreme concern. The company is moving forward with GM tilapia and trout as well.
Thankfully we are not residents of a land-locked town. Surrounded by fresh and salt water, we have the ability to catch and eat various species of fi sh. City Park is home to over 11 miles of fi shable lagoons. The well circulated water reduces the risk of high mercury levels normally found in stagnant waters. The park encourages anglers to catch and release, however if you'd like to make your catch of the day dinner you certainly could. All ages can try their hand at fi shing during the park's yearly Big Bass Fishing Rodeo and Fishtival event. Going strong for 67 years, live music, exhibits, and family friendly activities have been an avid part of this community festival.
I've often questioned if store bought bleached fl ours are even really fl our by the time they reach the consumer. So much processing to an already altered strain of wheat can't yield a quality product. At Chef Susan Spicer's Wild Flour Breads, wild yeast, whole wheat fl our, grains and seeds are main ingredients. Using traditional formulas and European baking methods, the bakery takes artisan craftsmanship seriously. Hands on mixing, shaping and baking reduces the use of machines.
Wholesome components and personal attention begets beautiful Egg and Onion, Pumpernickel, Ciabatta and Multi Grain breads to name a few.
Grated cheese and herbs festoon the Sun-dried Tomato bread and the Potato bread surprises with the taste of chopped scallions.
For those that can't enjoy bread look no further. Gluten-free, vegan, and dairy free baked goods can be had at the Peace Baker. Kelly Boffone is approaching 20 years of work in the pastry world. Being dairy-free herself and having a Sous Chef with Celiac Disease helps her maintain an allergen free work environment.
Goodies ranging from birthday cakes, savory galettes, cupcakes, tarts, and even biscuits fill the menu, and to top it off, everything is Kosher certifi ed.