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Solar Crêpes Blog

Category : GMO

In recent months there has been an explosion of symposia, t.v. series, documentaries, and films about sustainable food.  All of them share the same important themes:

  • Sustainably grown food can drastically improve the health of individuals, the planet, and the local economy.
  • WE NEED YOU!!  In order for sustainable food systems to survive and thrive they need support from the local community.
  • “Democracy is NOT a spectator sport!” Tell the judiciary and local and federal leaders that regulations should protect local food systems — THE LITTLE GUY — NOT — the big companies that pay for elections and bias regulations.

The Future of Food

In May, Georgetown University and Washington Post Live co-hosted a symposium called “The Future of Food” which brought lawmakers, chefs, farmers, researchers, policy makers, nutritionists, and activists together.  The symposium was a series of small panel discussions that covered a wide range of topics pertaining to food.  The discussion was lively, thought provoking, and at sometimes, pointed.  The highlight of the event was the keynote address given by HRH The Prince of Wales.  The Prince has been an outspoken advocate for organic farming for over 20 years — before “sustainability” was synonymous with “chic”.  His remarks highlighted the symbiotic relationship between sustainable farming and climate change.  Visit the “Future of Food” website to watch video highlights of the conference.


Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales, HARMONY captures him on film in a way we’ve never seen him before, an authentic leader on critical global issues…Harmony looks at the root causes of the global problems we face and offers solutions. HARMONY paints a picture of an awareness that is arising in people around the globe across boundaries of geography, race religion and socio-economic status. At a moment when we hear daily about challenges on an unprecedented planetary scale, Harmony proposes a way forward and provides the audience with a new perspective on the need to change our relationship with the planet. Harmony is a global call to action.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver, that crazy British chef, is my idol!  And, the producer of American Idol, Ryan Seacrest, apparently agrees.

Recognizing Jamie’s star power and the need to shine a star’s light on the alarming state of the food system in America’s schools, Seacrest has produced two seasons of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC.  In 2010 he took on Huntington, West Virginia, and in this past season, the Los Angeles United School District.  Over seven years ago, Jamie’s School Lunches aired on TLC, chronicling his quest to improve the British school lunch program.  If you think that it’s outrageous that more money is spent on food to feed prison inmates than is spent on American children, this program is for you!  Jamie’s believes that the answer to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare from obesity-related illnesses cannot be found in the halls of Congress; rather we need look no further than our own kitchens. Check out Jamie’s inspiring TED lecture.


I saw the movie a few weeks ago for a private screening for chefs with the film’s director, Kristin Canty, a mom and first-time film maker, whose struggle to provide raw milk for her son — the only thing keeping his debilitating asthma at bay — inspired her to create a film.  Farmageddon highlights the government’s harassment of farmer/producers and consumers of raw milk.  It is difficult to understand why a substance with so many healing properties has been deemed unfit for human consumption.  I must admit that I am having a hard time convincing my own husband of the health benefits of raw milk, but regardless of your personal preferences, it’s hard to understand how it’s legal for the government to prevent a group of four families who co-own a cow from drinking its milk in whatever form they choose.  Afterall, it’s not illegal to smoke or drink alcohol when your pregnant, why can’t you drink cow’s milk raw if you wish?  The scenes of the government seizing property, animals and destroying livelihoods was something that I though only happened during the collectivization of farms in the Soviet Union.

Click here if you’re interested in hosting a viewing of the Farmageddon.  What a great way to get involved!

American Meat

This new documentary just premiered in Staunton and Waynesboro, Virginia in honor of Polyface Farm’s Family Field day.  Joel Salatin and his famed Polyface farm are featured in the documentary that examines the feasability of feeding the world from small pasture farms and debunks the myth that this time-honored method of farming cannot be financially successful.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t wait to!

The People Who Feed Us

Staci Strauss and Craig McCord (Slow Films Woodstock) apply the skills they acquired in the television commercial business to tell the stories of the great work being done by farmers, ranchers, bee-keepers, chefs, butchers, food writers, chocolatiers, cookbook authors, wine makers, distillers, seed-savers, cheese makers, fishers, foragers, and, well . . . you get the picture. They live in Woodstock, New York.

By Debbie Schmidt, RD 

What’s a PLU code?  These are the price-look-up codes found on small round stickers on the produce (ie bananas have a PLU code of 4011), or printed on the bag of the produce (broccoli crowns 4549). 

While the codes provide the digits that make grocery store check-out much easier, they do more than get you the price:  they reveal how the food was grown—conventionally, with pesticides and chemical fertilizers;  genetically modified; or organic, which signifies it was made without pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones, sewage sludge, bioengineering, or irradiation.  

How will the code help you?

It depends on how many digits.  If four, it is conventionally grown.  If five digits, it is either genetically modified or organic.  It depends on the FIRST digit.

 Use a banana as an example:

4011CONVENTIONALLY grown produce will always be a 4-digit number, like 4011 for bananas.  Remember, this signifies conventional farming with added chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These can be toxic to children and anyone who consumes them on a regular basis so clearly these are a concern. 

Are you familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide that lists the top 12 dirtiest foods?  I was surprised at the number one dirtiest food.  Check out the list at  or a summary blog  

Dirty foods may be used in baby foods, as part of frozen dinners, soups, restaurant fare, etc which means foods may be contaminated with unacceptable pesticides/carcinogens.

For example, the EWG found that of the baby foods tested, 53% were found to be contaminated with at least one pesticide.  The worst baby foods? Plums and peaches.  And what was found in the baby food?  According to the EWG’s press release, Iprodione (Rovral), classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA, was found more often than any other pesticide with eight detections, followed by thiabendazole with seven detections, botran with six, and permethrin with five.” Plums and peaches contained Rovral.  For more info go to

 84011—that same number with an “8” in front would be from GE or GMO seed and is GENETICALLY modified. A GMO banana would have the “8” before the 4011 as would any produce.  Since this is not a mandatory labeling system, rarely are GMO foods identified.

94011—If you are looking for ORGANICALLY grown produce, the important number is a 9 that precedes the four digits.   When possible, but especially if you are choosing between a dirty dozen contender and an organic one, select the organic food.  Reports suggest you will obtain one-third fewer pesticides than conventional.  There are additional benefits listed below.  In most cases, cost is justified, but when it comes to the clean 15 (the cleanest produce by EWG), I would stick with conventionally grown.

 Organics’ benefits:

1.   Organic milk has significantly higher quantities of vitamin E – a key component that contributes to the shelf-life of milk – than its conventional equivalent, say Danish researchers, who suggest that this is due to the difference in the feed of the animal. 2004

2.  Organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops..  International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2003

3.  More vitamin E, vitamin A, and carotene in eggs. Mother Earth News reports (8/05): “Tests of eggs from four free-range flocks found that, compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for eggs from confinement production systems, the eggs from chickens raised on free range were much more nutritious – up to twice as rich in vitamin E, up to six times richer in beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) and four times richer in essential omega-3 fatty acids. And, the free-range eggs averaged only half as much cholesterol as the USDA data indicates for confinement-system eggs.”

4. More lycopene in organic ketchup.Testing 13 commercial ketchup sources – organic and different colored varieties – scientists at the US department of agriculture found that the organic versions excelled, with one brand containing 183 micrograms of lycopene per gram of ketchup, about five times as much per weight as a tomato, reports the New Scientist. 2005

5.   There are more antioxidants in organic apples than conventionally grown apples  (