Musings and Morsels from An Allergic Foodie (8-1-14)

My family often shares what we read with one another. My husband emails links of articles and television news stories he’s come across while traveling for work. If you read the newspaper after me, you’ll likely get one full of holes.  As a nonfiction writer, I have boxes full of clippings (we’ve moved these four times). Even our boys share info they’ve discovered on Facebook and YouTube.

It makes me feel good when someone hands me an article they think I’ll be interested in. To me, this says,”I cared enough about you to take the time to clip this.” Well, unless it’s a story about dieting and losing weight–that’s just plain mean. I also don’t like articles about aging. Will you please stop sending me those, Mom?

I often come across something I know could benefit my food-allergic/celiac disease friends but just doesn’t fit into a post. Maybe it’s a peer-reviewed study you ought to know about, or a book I think you’d like, or I’ve just met someone at a conference I think you should meet. This blog is not a recipe blog or a product review blog, but I’ve often wanted to share a recipe or a product I’m particularly excited about. And, of course, I’ve often cut things out of the paper or seen something on TV I’ve wanted to discuss with you.

So this is the inaugural MUSINGS AND MORSELS.  Think of it as a smorgasbord of information–sink your teeth into whatever looks tasty.

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Have you seen the Maple Hill Creamery yogurts with the label “made from organic milk from 100% grass-fed cows?”

Grass-Fed Yogurt

An article this week in the Wall Street Journal says grass-fed dairy products are gaining in popularity by health-conscious consumers. Those allergic to soy, corn and gluten may benefit from milk that’s come from grass-fed-only cows. Though pricey–$6 for a gallon of grassmilk–the article reports that whole milk from grass-fed cows is Organic Valley’s best-selling item at Whole Foods. We’ll probably start seeing grassmilk cheeses and butter soon.

In case you’re wondering what the difference between “organic” and “grass-fed” milk is: the USDA requires cows to graze on a pasture for a minimum of 120 days during the year and get 30 percent or more of their diet from the pasture to be labeled “organic.” The rest of their food can come from a feed of grain, corn, soy, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients.  “Grass-fed” should mean the cow has eaten only on the pasture–no corn, soy or other grains.  But according to the WSJ article, “Some dairy brands labeled ‘grass-fed’ do allow their cows to eat grain if other food is scarce.”  There is no federal regulation of the term “grass-fed” for dairy products.

Here we go again with that deceiving labeling. If you missed my blog post about grass-fed beef and bison, here it is.

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Also in the news: Did you know Monsanto has recently created the Global Corporate Engagement Team to “debunk myths” surrounding the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicide? This was reported in the St. Louis Business Journal. They’ve actually hired a “director of millennial engagement” to help the public understand “the story behind Monsanto.” An online comment asks if Monsanto is debunking myths or covering up facts. What do you think?

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A blog you’ll like: Mary Kate and Denise at Surviving the Food Allergy Apocalypse  cook up some  awesome allergy-friendly recipes–not only for food but for soap and toothpaste too!

Also, if you haven’t discovered Freedible  yet, you are in for a treat. Freedible is a valuable tool for the “custom eater”–anyone who has a food restriction for any reason. You’ll find online support groups, recipes, blogs, and much more on Freedible.

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Kudos to  Tracy Grabowski of WheatFreely.com and certified by GREAT Kitchens and DineAware for writing an excellent article, Why Many Restaurants Should Not Offer Gluten-Free Menu Options . . . Yet, published in the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, Spring 2014. She writes that restaurants must be trained before offering gluten-free items: “The truth is that genuinely gluten-free dishes should be more than just replacing a bun, or using a corn or rice versions of pasta.”  She stresses restaurants need be educated and trained in cross-contamination issues and how to read labels for hidden ingredients.

And with that said, I leave you with a photo of a menu from Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub in Williston, Vermont.

Gluten Sensitive Menu

 

This menu does not say “gluten free” but “gluten sensitive.” If you have celiac disease as I do, would you feel safe ordering off this menu?

Musings and Morsels #1 originally appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Grass-Fed Beef Isn’t Always Best

I’ve been a big fan of grass-fed meat since developing multiple food allergies and celiac disease. After all, why would I want to eat meat from an animal that’s grazed on wheat, soy and corn–all three of which I’m allergic to. And with a sensitive stomach, I surely don’t want to eat meat from any animal that’s been given supplements, hormones and antibiotics.

Over the last six years I’ve noticed more and more “grass-fed” beef hitting the supermarket shelves. While almost always more expensive than the grain-fed brands, I figure my health is worth the added cost.

Then this week I was strolling though our local farmer’s market and came across Sangres Best Grass-Finished beef from a Colorado Ranch.

Grass-Fed Beef Isn't Always Best

Notice this beef from a Colorado ranch is “grass-finished”

I wondered what is the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished. Turns out not all grass-fed beef is created equal. If you think about it all cows can be called “grass-fed” as they all start out eating grass on a pasture. That’s how some brands can label their meats “grass-fed” even though they are finished on a diet of grains.  Sneaky, huh?

Grass-finished beef means the cow has never eaten a grain of grain. You can also look for “100 Percent Grass-Fed or “USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef.”  A stamp of approval from a third party, such as the American Grassfed Association, can also guarantee the grass-fed beef you are buying is the real thing. The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at labels on beef.

Here’s something else I learned this week: Not all bison is grass-fed. Since food allergies, I’ve often chosen bison over beef thinking all bison roam the range freely nibbling on grass. Wrong.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Always Best?

This package of ground bison from Great Range, which I bought this week at Costco, is finished with natural grains and hay. According to their website, “environmental variations on the high plains, coupled with changing market conditions, make supplemental feeding necessary to produce fresh, premium quality Bison year round.”  When in doubt, check the company website.

So where can you find true grass-fed beef?

Much of the 100-percent grass-fed beef in North America is produced on small farms and sold directly to consumers at such places as farmers’ markets, natural food stores, and specialty meat markets. These online directories can also help you locate grass-fed beef in your area:

American Grassfed Organization

Eat Well Guide 

Eat Wild

Local Harvest

U.S. Wellness Meats

Grass-fed Beef Isn’t Always Best first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie