November 26, 2013
I love this article about happiness.
10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science
All the things we hear repeatedly about how to keep ourselves, or get ourselves, healthy turn out make us happy too! Exercise, sleep, being in nature, meditation, smiling, gratitude (and a few surprises), all add up to a happier person. Of course after reading this I want to go deeper—what does it actually mean to be “happy?” Is it feeling balanced? Joyful? Calm? Hopeful? I wonder how we all define happiness. I suspect that being healthy—having no “dis-ease”—and being “happy” can actually describe similar states of being. We all have good days and bad days—days when we are upset, scared, or sad; times when we would hardly describe ourselves as happy. I think of health and happiness as being our true nature and that, like bad weather, negative emotions or illness block out the clear sky like clouds or a rainstorm. Behind the “bad weather” the sun and the moon and stars are still shining, but we can’t always see them. How quickly those storms leave, or how able we are to remember that the sun and the moon are still there even when we can’t see them, I believe is an indicator of how “happy” we are.
And I know that when the body is out of balance and the brain is fogged up by too much junk—sugar, alcohol, refined foods, excess computer time, excess work time, etc.—we are not able to feel really good and really happy.
As a healer and now a food manufacturer, I have been on a quest for much of my life to understand and learn about what health and happiness truly are. I am VERY grateful to all the teachers I have had along the way: people who have helped me to understand my body and my psyche and get clarity on what works best for me. Lately, I am most grateful to my yoga teachers and to myself for getting myself to yoga class. I am always full of gratitude at some point during class when I start to feel SO good, and am so happy that I have taken the time to give myself that gift.
And I am also very grateful to all the fans of Mary’s Gone Crackers—what a gift we all get every day from all of you. I hope you find lots to be grateful for this holiday season. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
In good health,
September 20, 2013
I was thinking about some of my favorite things that I’m making on a regular basis these days and how they came about “accidentally.” I meet and then cook for so many people who have special food needs, including myself, of course. For one person it’s no nuts, for another it’s no dairy, for someone else it’s no egg yolks. The permutations and combinations of food issues can be endless.
For one dinner I wanted to make pesto — but with no walnuts or parmesan cheese. So I used toasted pumpkin seeds in place of the walnuts and to spice it up a little bit more. But then there was one day that I didn’t have seeds so I made the following vegan pesto recipe, which is now my standard:
- 1 large bunch of fresh basil, washed, stems removed
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro (or parsley, if you don’t like cilantro) washed, stems removed
- ½ ripe avocado
- 1 clove garlic, or to taste, finely chopped or pressed
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup organic delicious olive oil or more
In a food processor, add basil and cilantro or parsley. Process until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With processor on, slowly pour olive oil into the bowl until well blended. It should be pretty creamy; add more oil as needed. Chop up garlic and avocado and add to bowl, blend until thoroughly mixed. This will lighten the green and really integrate everything. Scrape down sides of bowl and blend again. Add lemon juice and salt to taste, mix one more time. Enjoy!
I’m not sure how I decided to add the avocado, but it really works when there is no other fat source. The combination of basil and cilantro is wonderful as well. I love this recipe on gluten free pasta or salmon or stir fry and quinoa.
August 14, 2013
We’ve been naturally genetically modifying our food for hundreds of years, so what’s the big deal, right?
This sort of ignorance in the discussion of GMOs makes me cringe because it shows that Monsanto and their ilk have successfully spread dis-information to further their corporate cause. There is a huge difference between the natural genetic modification we have practiced for hundreds of years and the bio-chemical genetic modification pushed on us by the genetic engineering industry today.
In a recent article “Why GMOs Can Never Be Safe,” Dr. Mercola States:
“Compared with natural genetic modification, artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, while enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been exchanged otherwise.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Dr. Mercola
Claiming that GMOs aren’t harmful is like claiming that global warming isn’t happening; all evidence contradicts the denial, no matter how hard corporate giants like Monsanto lobby to shut down our curiosity.
Natural genetic modification
Also known as selective breeding or artificial selection, natural genetic modification has been practiced by farmers and livestock owners for centuries. Plants with the most desirable traits are carefully reproduced until those positive traits are ubiquitous. The resulting breeds are called varieties or cultivars, and combining two varieties results in a hybrid. Thus, when you buy a certain variety of tomato seeds, you’re investing in a naturally modified plant that has been carefully crafted to yield the tastiest, reddest, juiciest fruit, which may also stand up to bugs the best — or whatever other traits have been chosen to enhance.
This agricultural method originated with Charles Darwin and his seminal book Origin of Species. By manipulating natural selection, the human race has been able to produce food to our liking for centuries. This practice traces all the way back to the ancient Romans. Because it happens in the natural environment over time, natural genetic modification is a fairly innocuous practice that allows organisms and their environment to adjust holistically.
“…while artificial genetic engineering is uncontrollable, random and unpredictable, natural genetic engineering is quite precise and repeatable because it is regulated by the organism as a whole. This regulatory system has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Under steady state conditions, proof-reading, DNA-repair and other mechanisms ensure that the DNA remains constant and stable.” — Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society and Department of Biological Sciences
Artificial genetic modification
Artificial genetic modification, or genetic engineering, is not just a lab-controlled version of natural selection. It’s a far more sinister process. Natural breeding practices take place only between like species: tomatoes with other tomatoes, for instance. Combining two different tomato varieties to create a redder hybrid with fewer seeds is certainly possible with natural genetic modification.
But when it comes to artificial genetic modification, sophisticated manipulation of plant genes is enacted in a lab, moving genes from one organism to another instantly, and combining genes in new ways that might not even be possible with natural selection. You can’t get a banana-shaped tomato from splicing other tomatoes together in nature. In a lab, however, you could force a tomato into a banana shape by artificially inserting the “shape” gene from the banana into a tomato. You’d indeed get a banana-shaped tomato. But at what cost?
“The genetic engineering and associated tissue culture processes are imprecise and highly mutagenic, leading to unpredictable changes in the DNA, proteins, and biochemical decomposition of the resulting GM crop that can lead to unexpected toxic or allergenic effects and nutritional disturbances.” — GMO Myths and Truths, an examination published by Earth Open Source
One of the most disturbing effects of GMO crops on our ecology is the drastic decline in the world’s bee population. Multiple studies (including this Purdue study) have now confirmed that bee die-off is most likely due to the use of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, prevalently used on US corn and other crops. Bees rely on our country’s vast corn crops as a primary protein source, particularly in the Midwest, and of the 92 million acres of corn planted in 2012, 94 percent were treated with neonicotinoids. What do pesticides have to do with GMO? Well, the short story is that Monsanto, in an effort to provide corn farmers with “magic corn” that would automatically resist the corn pests that rose up in the ’90s, now controls the market with corn hybrids pre-treated with neonicotinoids. And because Monsanto owns the market on corn, these are the GMO seeds that the great majority of farmers in the US are forced to use.
Bees are essential crop pollinators, so their die-off can and will have major negative consequences for many of our beloved national crops such as apples, cherries, strawberries, and almonds. But GMO crops aren’t just affecting our bees. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has recorded that feeding lab animals GMO foods results in issues that span the spectrum from infertility to immune problems to accelerated aging to major damage to internal organs. In fact, according to the Iowa Source, many animals, when given a choice, will instinctively choose non-GMO foods. We should follow the lead of superior animal instincts when it comes to what we choose to ingest.
Despite the precision required to alter genes in a lab, artificial genetic modification is considered to be a very imprecise process in a holistic view of agriculture, because this process is devoid of the influence of nature and time. In the “real world,” the plant’s environment would affect its growth, and vice versa. When manipulated by man in a lab, there’s no way to know how the plant’s altered DNA will eventually affect the environment and those of us living in it.
And as the use of GMO crops continues over the decades, we’re starting to see that even the original goals of the insidious GMO industry are not working out as well as companies like Monsanto had hoped. For instance, while GMO corn has been genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (aka “Roundup Ready”) and to produce its own insecticides (Bt toxin) — and therefore never need additional pesticide application while growing — the very opposite is turning out to be true. Over time, we’re seeing that GMO crops actually require more pesticides than natural crops ever have.
Ultimately, GMO pushers can’t control or predict how the DNA of altered plants will affect the humans and animals ingesting them, so when you eat a GMO food item, you’re playing Russian roulette with your very DNA. In this way, genetic modification is actually quite the opposite of natural selection.
So remember that when someone casually mentions that GMO crops are the same as it’s been for hundreds of years! Nope! And here’s a great link for ways to make sure that you and your family are avoiding GMO ingredients:
In good health,
August 6, 2013
Mary’s Gone Crackers is pleased to hear that the FDA has (finally!) announced the safety standard for labeling products gluten free in the United States. Establishing the U.S. standard as less than 20 parts per million (ppm) is consistent with the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s labeling guidelines set by the World Health Organization and is followed in some other countries, including the European Union and Canada. (Learn about the history of food labeling and other countries’ standards here.)
We are happy to say that Mary’s Gone Crackers’ gluten free products have consistently exceeded the 20 ppm standard and we are certified gluten free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).
While responsible and knowledgeable companies will certainly comply (and everyone must comply by August 2014), those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance should continue to read food labels and question manufacturers if you have doubts. Not everyone understands all the places that gluten can be found in ingredients, or the many ways that a product could be contaminated with gluten, even if it doesn’t contain gluten through its ingredients list. Certification through third-party testing, like Mary’s Gone Crackers has through GIG, offers more assurance that the standard for safety has been met.
Since launching our company in 2004, awareness of “all things gluten” has skyrocketed in the U.S. This decision by the FDA will support continued awareness and for that we are grateful.
In good health,
July 17, 2013
I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks and the final leg of my journey home includes a small propeller plane ride from San Francisco airport to the little Chico airport. Flying at only 19,000 feet, we get a great view of Northern California—from the Pacific Ocean east to the agricultural splendor of what the locals call the North Valley—the large swath of checkerboard fields fed by the Sacramento River. From the plane it’s easy to distinguish the bright green rice fields from the darker, more textured almond and walnut orchards. California grows more than 70% of the world’s almonds and is the second largest rice growing state in the US. Rice is the largest crop here in the Sacramento Valley and Mary’s Gone Crackers buys all of our organic brown rice (over 3 million pounds!) from a family farm less than 50 miles from our own dedicated gluten-free manufacturing facility.
Another of our unique and super-local ingredients is the prune extract that we use in our love Cookies. A neighboring organic prune plum farmer makes this syrup and introduced me to it several years ago. It adds the perfect moisture and flavor to our yummy vegan cookies.
I personally love knowing the people who grow our ingredients and I am especially pleased that many of our ingredients are grown here in the US. All of our products are manufactured in California and we employ over 200 people now in our very busy production facility. “From the redwood forests, to the gulf stream waters…” or in this case, to the rice fields of northern California…what a rich, abundant country we live in!
In good health,
May 1, 2013
Image Credit: © 2013 NPR.org – Gluten Goodbye: One-Third of Americans Say They’re Trying to Shun It
I’ve been eating gluten free for 19 years now and as I like to say, I’m a different person than I was before. I had been struggling with fatigue, regular bouts of digestive pain, low level depression (and more) without even knowing because it was just normal for me. I began to realize that something was wrong in my late 20s and started on my healing path. I was 43 before I found the answer.
Many doctors and alternative healers later, the answer came from my chiropractor! I would’ve never had the energy and effort that it’s taken to shape and grow Mary’s Gone Crackers before going gluten free. I’m younger and healthier and happier the older I get! I have certainly found my fountain of youth.
When I see the “fad” or gluten free trend these days, (something I could never have imagined 19 years ago) I feel gratitude on some level for the incredible increase in awareness that has happened in our country. I watch and read the media’s response and see how once in a while they get it right, but not most of the time unfortunately. An important lesson when reading other stories in the media — if they’re getting so much wrong about gluten free, what are they missing about Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMOs) or environmental degradation or Afghanistan?
I’m saddened for the people who are jumping on the gluten free bandwagon without understanding or purpose; People assume they’ll lose weight, feel better, and be cooler and trendy. The reality is they’re probably unknowingly eating gluten in a sauce or another product and not changing their dietary habits at all. Others simply replace gluten-filled
foods with other unhealthy items or gluten free junk food — may be an improvement if gluten is an issue, but not really on a healthful path.
However, I also know that there are lots of people on a journey like I was — people who’ve been sick for a while, whose doctors have not been able to help, and who read, listen and think that maybe gluten might just be their problem. They research more and take the plunge. I meet lots of those people and they’ve been transformed. “This inflamed, itchy, flaky scalp I’ve had for 20 years — GONE! Body aches and brain fog — GONE!” Chronic diarrhea, migraine headaches, psoriasis, liver problems, anemia, thyroid disease, osteoporosis…. the list is endless really. How wonderful is it that more people will be able to discover the source of their pain and eliminate it from their lifestyle? It’s wonderful that increased awareness about what we eat is often the source for most (if not all) of our health issues!
I know that for many, their journey will end there, but my real hope is that this increased awareness will take us on a deeper exploration to discover the real problems and real dangers in our food — factory farming, GMOs, highly refined and processed ingredients, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers — all the POISONS in our food and water! I’m imagining that this trend to say “goodbye to gluten” is just the first step in a deeper awakening and remembering how we are supposed to be eating. How our grandparents and great-grandparents ate not that long ago. Everything was organic. Most was local. Food was safe and nutritious and nourishing — not part of our entertainment, not something to stuff in our mouths while we are busy doing something else. Food was something we enjoyed with others, something we prepared ourselves; we took time to attend to it because it’s important, life affirming and it’s about love.
So look out all you gluten free-ers! You’re on your way to being the leaders of the new Conscious Eating® movement in America!
March 27, 2013
As spring starts to make itself apparent all over the country (whether that’s a “warm” 40 degrees in Burlington, VT or a warm 72 degrees here in Northern California) our planet is bursting into song —bunches of flowers exploding everywhere, green and red leaves emerging from seemingly dead branches, sweet fragrances floating on the breezes. When we take a moment to look around, stepping away from our daily routine to appreciate the bounty that is bursting forth all around us, it’s hard not to notice the abundance that is our earth.
Conscious Eating® helps us to remember that we are creatures of and on this earth, as dependent on the delicate balance of life as all other beings. Like all animals, we eat what grows on the earth to stay alive. It may be hard nowadays to recognize that the food we are eating was once a living plant or animal from the earth. Read the labels of what you are eating and drinking and see if you can identify their sources. If the list of chemicals is longer than the actual food ingredients, or if you have to work hard to even figure out what the origin of the “food” is, you might want to make different choices. Look for food that is as close to the sources as possible — whole, ancient grains, fresh plants, unprocessed meats. Take a break from meat and dairy for one meal, or one day. Play with new ingredients — we’d love to offer suggestions as to what to do with those unfamiliar vegetables! Post your questions on my blog or our Facebook Page!
This Earth Day, remember that your real home isn’t a house, city, state, or country, but a PLANET! Little steps towards reclaiming your true nature as a human being will make a big difference in the quality of your life!
January 15, 2013
It’s clichéd but true—New Year’s is a time of reflection and commitment, or re-commitment if our path has strayed from where we’d like to be. My personal dedication to “Conscious Eating,” took a deeper turn in 2012 as I’ve been working with a healer who temporarily took me off certain foods in order to more deeply heal various systems in my body. The hardest withdrawal for me by far has been to eliminate ALL fruit, vinegars and sweeteners—honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, palm sugar—truly ALL sweeteners. I have not been perfect, but even going weeks at a time without eating these foods has made a huge difference, and I’ve been surprised by how much my taste buds have re-awakened. Like salt, sugar masks the flavors in whole, natural foods. This new diet has forced me to be creative with what I call sweet; for instance, fresh snap peas were my “dessert” for a while. Artichokes also became a “sweet” for me. I’m allowed to have blueberries and blackberries now (oh joy!) and have gotten really creative with spices to see what enhances their flavor without any sugar.
Another huge benefit for me has been the elimination of cravings and more clarity of mind. Sugar is so pervasive in our diet—probably even more so than gluten. It is far from the “special treat” that it used to be in our culture not that long ago. I imagine most people in the U.S. eat sugar every day, if not all day long. It’s in everything from sweetened drinks to cereals, catsup and spaghetti sauce, snack crackers, breads—the list is endless. Take a look in your cupboards to see where sugar is hidden in your food, and give your body a break and go sugar-free for a day! I’d love to hear where your “Conscious Eating” journey is taking you this year, and I’m glad that Mary’s Gone Crackers is part of your path.
In good health,