June 11th – Happy National Corn on the Cob Day

It’s here again.  National Corn on the Cob Day.  Aren’t you excited?

Corn.  It’s the Nation’s favorite ingredient.  It’s a vegetable, grain, sweetener, fabric, beverage, fuel, plastic, personal hygiene product, perfume, vitamin/supplement, adhesive, and so much more.  Corn.  It makes all things just a little bit better, that’s why they put it into everything.  Corn.  It’s perfect.  …after all, no one can be allergic to corn.

I’ve collected images concerning corn and/or GE foods throughout the year.  I think right now is a perfect time to share them with you all.

What images have you seen across internet land?

June 11th – National Corn on the Cob Day

June 11th is National Corn on the Cob Day.  I honestly didn’t realize there was a national holiday for corn on the cob but I shouldn’t be surprised.  Corn is the most wonderful and versatile vegetable in the world (corn is a grain, by the way).  In honor of National Corn on the Cob Day, I would like to share some of the images I’ve found across the internet for corn.  Here’s to super corn; it can be anything!  Enjoy the images!

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My Quest for Safe Organic Casings

This blog post will be replete with theories and ramblings.  Stop reading now if you can’t handle it.

My quest for hot dog casings ended when I read and then reread this document.  I was mainly looking for organic beef or lamb casings, though using any of these casings would still be a gamble.  In two years we’ve only been able to safely tolerate lamb and beef from one source despite trailing multiple sources.  The organic casings might have a similar outcome, if only they existed.

The processing of natural casings must be started as soon as possible after slaughter, as bacterial spoilage of the intestines tissues sets in rapidly. For ease of processing it is recommended to start the operation while the intestines are still warm.

The remaining strong-elastic tissue is a layer composed mainly of connective tissues (“submucous membrane”) (Fig. 315 II, Fig. 316, Fig. 318, step 6, b2). This connective tissue membrane forms the edible sheep casing. Sheep casings are not reversed (turned inside out) during their processing. For completion of the processing, the casings are inflated for grading, flushed with salted water, stripped for water removal, dry salted (Fig. 318, step 7) and stored in a cool place, preferably in the chiller. In this form they can be stored for three months, preferably under storage temperatures not exceeding +15°C. By no means should natural casings be frozen, as they would lose their elasticity and firmness.

Sheep casings, as well as other natural casings are soaked in water before filling the sausage mix. This treatment removes part of the salt and the casing walls become more elastic, as their collagen fibers absorb water. Addition of organic acids, in particular lactic acid (2% to the water), also assists in this process.

The article left me unsettled and it was the detailed pictured for the processing of the intestines.  I’ve had to learn a lot about food processing with my allergies and I can handle just about anything now.  It was the use of salt, lactic acid, and the fact that organic, grass fed animals are rarely used that is deterring me from using casings.  The type of salt used in processing would need to be questioned.  Does the salt have added dextrose as an declumping agent?  If so, the dextrose is probably derived from corn.  Are the organic acids and/or lactic acid derived from corn?  Most lactic acid and other organic acids used to process meat in the United States are derived from corn.  It is almost impossible to find organic casings, most casing sold in the US is only labeled as natural, not organic. (Follow that link and read that article…yes, that was an order).

If an organic pig provides meat for an organic sausage, shouldn’t it also provide the organic sausage casings?

Not according to the Department of Agriculture, which allows a “USDA Organic” sticker to be slapped on the nonorganic casing of an organic sausage.

Natural sausage casings — that is, the cleaned intestines of pigs, sheep and other animals — are one of 38 ingredients on a USDA list that would be allowed in foods that are otherwise made up of organic ingredients.

The organic movement started as a reaction to the industrialized nature of the food system. It spurned chemical pesticides and fertilizers, emphasized composting and other methods to bolster the health of soil and natural disease-fighting nutrients in plants, and smiled on small-scale local production.

The USDA’s 2002 organic labeling program codified the movement, setting a series of national standards that regulated organic foods. It set four basic rules for using the word “organic” on foods.

  1. Foods that are 100% organic can be labeled “100% organic” and bear the “USDA organic” seal.
  2. Foods that are 95% organic can be labeled “organic” if the remaining 5% of ingredients cannot be found in an organic form. They too can bear the “USDA Organic” seal.
  3. Foods that are 70% organic can include the phrase “made with organic” to describe those organic ingredients.
  4. Foods containing less than 70% organic ingredients can have the word “organic” only in their lists of ingredients.

The current controversy centers on the 5% of nonorganic ingredients allowed in foods labeled “organic.”

Until a lawsuit prompted the USDA to publicly list those exempt ingredients, certifying agents had free reign to allow the labeling of “organic” foods if they were satisfied the 5% of ingredients were unavailable in organic form. The USDA took petitions from food producers and manufacturers about which nonorganic ingredients it should allow, and whittled the list from 600 to 38.

The publication of the list in June revealed to organic food consumers that the seaweed in their organic miso soup, the hops in their organic beer and the chipotle chile peppers in their organic chile were not organic. Most of the other ingredients are relatively obscure colorings, flavorings and ingredients that may make the likes of yogurt look and feel right, but aren’t recognizable to most consumers.

Like several of the other ingredients, the listing of natural sausage casings seems counterintuitive. If a pig is raised on organic feed, slaughtered in a certified organic plant, and made into sausage, shouldn’t the same pig provide natural casings for that sausage?

As with several of the other ingredients, however, the realities of the modern farming and food production system prove even more counterintuitive. “Harvesting” intestines for sausage casings, it turns out, is a specialty that many slaughterhouses don’t offer, and none of the small-scale hog farmers or processors interviewed by The Daily Green could fathom a certified organic slaughterhouse getting into the business.

“I’m not aware of them being available anywhere,” said Mike Lorentz, CFO of Lorentz Meats, a growing business based in Minnesota that does every part of the organic meat processing process from slaughter to packaging.

Natural doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.  The word is simply a marketing ploy to mislead the consumer.  Don’t be fooled.  Corn syrup can also be considered natural, after all it comes from nature; however it is a chemical experiment.  Not food.

I have found one UK company that supposedly sells organic casings and I’ve sent them an email.  I did not ask about processing, I only asked if they were available in the states.  More questions will follow if the product is available.  Stay tuned.

All of this reading led me back to my reactions to Applegate Farms and their “casing free” hot dogs and also to the Shelton hot dogs.  Now, for the record, I don’t eat these hot dogs.  I tried them almost two years ago and reacted.  I have multiple allergens and intolernces and assumed my reaction was to something other than hidden corn; now I think the reactions might have been compounded.  There has been chatter of recent reactions, especially to the AF hot dogs, and everyone is trying to pinpoint the reactions.  Has anyone questioned the casings?  I am aware that Applegate Farms removes the casings before packaging the hot dogs, however they cook the hot dogs inside the casings.  The casings are cellulose (not animal derived) and are made from wood pulp and cotton.  I have found cotton to be one of the most pesticide rich crops in this country.  I can only handle and use organically grown, pesticide/herbicide free cotton.  Perhaps the reactions are coming from the residual pesticides from the use of cellulose derived from non-organic cotton?  Just a theory.  According AF the casings are allergen free.  Now where is my grain of salt…

I would love to make hot dogs and perhaps I still can figure it out sans the casings.  I found one recipe that looks promising.  I will need to completely revamp the recipe, as it stands now, I can only use the garlic, mustard, and salt.  I will try to reformulate the recipe and will let you all know how it turns out!

Quick Post: Grain Free Flour #2

This is a great recipe for muffins and possibly cakes (I haven’t tried a cake yet).  I needed a less buckwheat-y flour.  This fits the bill.  I make this flour fresh every time, it is not stored in the refrigerator like my other Grain Free Flour.  The coconut cream would become hard as a rock in the refrigerator.

  • 1/2 cup besan
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot
  • 2 tbsp buckwheat
  • 4 tbsp coconut cream