Monday, April 30, 2007

Gary Moller takes aim at cliffdog...cliffdog ducks, weaves and strikes back! (All in jest of course!)

A colleague of mine noticed a reference to one of my articles at Gary Moller's Blog along with some comments about yours truly...:Natural therapies advice for high performance athletic conditioning, optimum nutrition, injury management and a long and active life - healthandlifestyle.co.nz
Check out the ensuing banter - all in good fun of course. One thing I love about this industry is that we all as practitioners have different views on various topics and many ways to say what are often similar things.
I also appreciate Gary publishing my reply to his comments about it. To be involved with rational and intelligent debate is for us and our industry very valuable and for both of our readers invaluable. Gary and I will have to disagree on a few topics it seems, but looking at his site there are many more (Vitamin D and sun exposure, stress etc etc) that we will I'm sure continue to agree on.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Grain feeding of cattle

Good morning all....a client just sent me an email this morning that reads:

"I just saw an item on ASB Business this morning about a farmer in the Manawatu.
He has found it more "efficient" to add an hour of feeding from a feedlot type situation twice a day before milking to boost the milk production. The dried feed, which he claimed gives the cows a more varied diet, has to be bought in, yet it was described as a sustainable venture because the effluent gets sprayed back onto the fields.
I find this quite disturbing!"

I find it disturbing too mate...
This email was entitled "The thin end of the wedge" and it certainly does seem to me to be.
A friend of mine works for a major farm supply company and has told me that more and mroe farmers are beginning to supplement their cattle's diet with grain and corn based feeds. What is the problem with this? You may well ask....
Well here are the problems:

- Grain and corn fed cattle have higher amounts of omega 6 fats in the tissue than grass fed cattle. Omega 6 fats in too great an amount have been shown to be cofactors in the development of heart diseas and most particularly cancer. In fact according to my research the biggest single nutritional factor associated with Breast cancer development is the increased incidence of Omega 6 fats in our modern diet.
- They also contain MUCH lower amounts of Omega 3 fats which we generally now eat far too little of and are considered healthful because they increase insulin sensitivity and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Did you know that scientists think we should eat about a 3:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats for good health?....we now eat a diet that is somewhere between 20:1 and 50:1!!!
Basically, what our food eats affects our health in a HUGE way.
Cattle have evolved to eat pasture grasses. When they eat grains and corn they are more likely to develop serious gastric upset and digestive imbalances that require intervention (medical, physical and surgical) and it is MUCH less pleasent for the animal.

Grass fed beef is also becoming more and more sought after - particularly in North America, because of it's health benefits and so we have a specific economic advantage in keeping our cattle grass fed!

So to recap it is:
Healthier for us, healthier for the animal and allows us to have a premiere, unique and higher value product by preserving grass fed and pasture raised beef and resisting the further introduction of cattle feeds.


What can I do?
- Buy only New Zealand beef (you'd be surprised that much of what we buy in Supermarkets now is imported! Ask at the supermarket service desk and ONLY ever buy NZ beef

- Support mandatory labelling of point of origin. Encourage your supermarket or butcher to label the country of origin.
- Sign my petition to ban grass and grain feeding of cattle in New Zealand here:BAN GRAIN FEEDING IN NEW ZEALAND

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Al Gore, eco-warriors and Global warming deniers

I skimmed over an article this morning in the New Zealand Herald, while draining a cup o' joe ('Jungle Coffee' of course...only the best!) about ol' Al Gore. The article had commentary about the recent revelation that Al Gore's famly household uses nearly as much energy in one day as an average US family in one month.
I am not here to either lambast Al Gore, nor defend him. It is just exceedingly interesting to me just how much debate there is around global warming right now.
And I think that most commentators and in fact most people have lost the point entirely....
There are convincing arguments that humans are causing global warming to some degree, and there are also convincing arguments that we are not.
BUT the issue for me is much more simple.
Regardless of whether we are causing global warming or not, is there any good reason to pollute, and is there any good reason to waist resources unecessarily? It would be a brave (and I think an incredibly arrogant and foolish one!) to answer in the affirmative to this question. There is no doubt that at some stage we are going to run out of fossil fuels....so why use more than we need? And what good reason could there possibly be to NOT look for renewable and sustainable fuels?

It is also plain to see that irrespective of whether we are causing global warming, we ARE increasing the amounts of the various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and it would be naive to think that there are no ill effects from this.
I am a nutritionist and naturopath and in my area of expertise (the human body) even the most minor changes to things like our blood PH, oxygen saturation, levels of ions etc etc can have MAJOR effects. There are of course checks and balances and we, like the planet are very resilient. But there comes a time when all systems, when overloaded, begin to break down.
The most important issue for me is our health. Our health in part comes from the food we eat (which is drastically altered by the health of the land on which it is raised and the environment in which it grows) and from our own environment.
Why would we choose to not preserve the quality of this environment?
There are so many things that we can do to reduce our energy usage, our use of other resources and our waste. And many of these require no additional time, money or energy. Simply recycling, turning off lights, not leaving cell phone chargers 'on' and in the wall socket and driving a tuned car, amongst other things, all help in a major way. The cumulative effect of more people doing little things can be huge.
Al Gore should maybe think about his own back yard...but like I said...I'm not here to beat the guy up!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Great Read...

I'm not sure why it took me so long to post about this book...It certainly was no reflection on it's quality!
It's a love-hate situation for me when I read a really good health or nutrition book. On the one hand I'm at once inspired and motivated but on the other I wish that I had written it!
Michael Pollan's 'Omnivores Dilemma' is just such a book. It is one of the most compelling books I have read recently. He manages to marry a wonderfully evocative journalistic style with non-fiction content - not always the easiest thing to do.
'The Omnivores Dilemma' takes a winding journey through the political, agricultural and ecological landscape of what we eat in the modern world. As a nutritionist (not to mention philosopher and raconteur!) it allied with many of my own feelings on the topics of sustainability, organics and agribusiness.

If you are interested to know that the modern American's body carries more identifiable isotopes from corn than a Mexican's (where the staple is corn) or that the American government indirectly subsidises the profits of not only Coca-Cola and McDonalds but nearly EVERY highly processed and refined food on the market then you will find plenty more interesting facts in this book. Of course if you simply want a good read in a Bryson-esque mould you can't go wrong either. I don't use stars, but if I did it would get 5 out of 5!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Timely advice from our mate; nutrition guru Dr John Berardi

Dr John Berardi; author of 'Precision Nutrition' says:
"Lately, I've come across this claim more and more...

"You would have to eat 40 servings of today's spinach in order to get the same nutrients as you would from one serving of spinach 50 years ago."

Often times the numbers (i.e. servings, how many years ago) and vegetables referenced change...but the message is the same.

So is there any truth to this claim?

Well, there is limited research in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and this research does show that there has been depletion of nutrients within selected produce over the last 25-50 years.

A broad range of vitamins and minerals have been found to be lower in our fruits and vegetables, including vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.

However, our fruits and veggies are still loaded with those all-important nutrients. And any claims suggesting that our veggies are worthless - or are 50x less potent - are often disingenuous.

In fact, with spinach in particular, vitamins C and A as well as calcium, potassium, and magnesium are lower by 45%, 17%, 6%, 18%, and 10% respectively. This means that, if anything, we’d need to eat 2x the amount of spinach to get the same amount of vitamin C vs. 50 years ago. And as far as the other nutrients, anywhere from 1.6x-1.18x the amount.

So it isn’t as bad as some are saying.

Yet our soil is getting depleted and this is becoming a problem. The real discussion that has to take place is in reference to the solution. Organic growing makes a difference so in terms of infrastructure, some things have to change.

However, on a more personal note the solution is simple.

First, eat more fruits and veggies (I recommend 10-15 servings/day). This will help ensure that even if the produce you’re choosing is lower in per serving vitamin and mineral content, you’re making up for this in an increase in total servings.

Second, if you’re not getting your 10-15 fruits and veggies, supplement with a green food product and/or a multi-vitamin. Even JAMA (The Journal of The American Medical Association) recommended the multi-vitamin thing."

Cliff's comment: JB and I are on the same page on this one. Whenever I hear baseless claims (which are often intended to sell more supplements) it really grinds my gears. There is no good reason to not eat more veggies, berries and fruits and if they are not quite as good as yesteryear it's a good reason to shoot for eating even more! Organic and permaculture fruit and veg are likely to have MUCH higher nutrient ratios as the soil is unable to be fed with chemical fertiliser to sustain yields and crop rotation and natural composting and manure fertilisation helps to retain soil quality. The bottom line is you need to eat more veggies and they should be organic!

More from Dr John here: SCIENCELINK