Interesting Information: Honey Laundering

Interesting Information:  March 22, 2012

Honey Laundering

With the new Ipod, I was listening to NPR the other day–the Kojo Nnamdi show on March 15, 2012–when Kojo did about a 20 minute story on honey laundering.

I was shocked!  Who knew that there is massive corruption in the honey business?  (Google Kojo Nnamdi, NPR, and “honey laundering” to turn up this episode and the others Kojo has done.)

I knew that most commercial honey was a waste of money since it’s been so heated that all its nutrients have been killed.  But, I didn’t know that it’s been cut with fake syrup that is chemically concocted to taste like honey.  This dead, adulturated honey is little better than high fructose corn syrup.  More than 3/4 of the honey sold in the US isn’t what bees produce.  What’s missing is the pollen that makes the honey…honey.  The lack of pollen means also that one can’t determine where the honey came from.

There are four culprits involved:  the Chinese, our own honey middlemen, our retailers who carry this honey, and the FDA.   And if you want to read the whole sorry tale with all it’s details AND a list of many worthless honey brands, go to Food Safety News:’t-honey/.  I suppose we should add clueless consumers to this list of culprits–so now that you know…

The Chinese use an ultra-filtering procedure where, as Food Safety News describes, “honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the geographical source of the honey.”  This procedure has allowed the Chinese to illegally dump “tons of their honey–some containing illegal antibiotics–on the U.S. market for years.”  Of course, this fake honey is ridiculously cheap.

In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a stiff import tariff on Chinese honey.  The Chinese just sent the honey to other countries and sent it to the US from those countries–after changing the color of the shipping drums, the documents and the labels.  This process is why this honey is called “laundered” honey.

Food Safety News notes that the US imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months–60% of which came from Asian countries which are traditional laundering points for honey.  India, alone, sent in 45 million pounds of honey.

Our own honey middlemen also use this ultra-filtering procedure on US honey because it extends shelf life and because customers have been conditioned to want “clean” honey that is crystal clear.  No one knows if some of these middlemen are cutting the honey they have killed with syrup…  But let’s be very clear about this cleanliness thing:  Real honey with all its medicinal and health properties is NOT crystal clear.  It can be very clean looking when extracted in a centrifuge and, then, strained through a mesh, but it might have tiny bits of wax and/or pollen intact.  That’s the GOOD stuff in the honey.

And, our retailers must know what they are selling isn’t real honey.  As do companies like Sara Lee and J. M. Smuckers, who use this imported honey in their products.

As for the FDA, it has refused to “define” what honey is for years now.  Defining honey would be pretty simple according to John Ambrose, a professor and entomologist at North Carolina State University and apiculturist, or bee expert.  The honey definition should say that honey comes from bees and that nothing has been added or removed.  (Some industrial types evaporate the moisture out of honey.)

Since the FDA has refused to act, American beekeepers are working to get individual states to pass laws that define what honey should be.  So far, Florida, California, Wisconsin, and North Carolina have passed laws.  Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Texas, Kansas, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia are among the states working to pass honey-definition laws.

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 “jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia” and had Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and “one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey,” test each one.  Bryant found that 76% of the samples had all the pollen removed.  These samples came from stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant, Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop, and King Soopers.  Bryant found that grocery brands labeled “organic” stood a better chance of still containing pollen.  All of the organic honey Bryant tested came from Brazil.

Here’s more of what Bryant found:

100 % of honey from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmace had no pollen

77% of honey from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had no pollen

100 % of honey packed in small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had no pollen

But, EVERY ONE of the samples from farmers markets, co-ops, and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the “full, anticipated amount of pollen.”

Why is it so important to retain the pollen in honey?  It’s where the healing possibilities are located–maybe in some combination with ingredients in the honey that we don’t even know.  Dr. Josept Mercola’s web site has a number of articles on the healing properties of honey.  Real honey with all its pollen can heal wounds and can heal infections like MRSA.  Two articles to look for are “The Sweet Golden Treat That Can Help Wipe Out Deadly MRSA” and “The Honey You Should Never Buy–It May Be Tainted with Lead and Antibiotics.”  See

DO NOT USE dead honey to treat wounds; it can make them worse.

BUY LOCAL HONEY.  We buy almost 100 pounds of local honey a year.

Tell your local stores you want REAL honey and won’t buy fake honey.  Tell everyone you know NOT to think that this fake honey is good for them.  It isn’t.

Turkey Tracks: Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the Red Meat=Cancer Study

Turkey Tracks:  March 22, 2012

Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the Red Meat=Cancer Study

Son Michael sent me Robb Wolf’s Reaction to the red meat=cancer study recently released by Harvard.

Robb Wolf is a biochemist who decided to blend his knowledge of nutrition with healthy exercise.  I wrote about his book in my last Tipping Points Essay (No. 41) and will use his analysis to discuss the dangers of eating grains and legumes.  That information is in many reputable places now, so I’ll also include some of them.  But Robb does a really good job of simply explaining the issues.

What I like about Robb’s reaction is that he goes to some lengths to explain that it’s NOT ok to use badly crafted scientific studies that support your personal belief system.  He references some bad studies that support low-carb diets to illustrate and calls for a return to using solid science that searches for accuracy and, dare I say it, “truth.”

Here’s Robb’s reaction:

And, here’s Robb’s book:

Turkey Tracks: Canvas Etc.

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2012

Canvas Etc.

Russell and Joanne Spear recently returned to Maine.  They used to work for Moss tents up in Belfast.  They came back just in time to fill a need for folks like me who needed to have furniture refurbished.  Our local upholsterer retired some years back.

The Spears don’t upholster, but they do fabulous slipcovers.   And, Russell and Joanne are really, really nice.  Joanne is a hugger, like me.

I saw their work when they put a slipcovered chair into Quilt Divas in Rockland.  I could see right away what quality work they do.  I hadn’t even been thinking slipcovering until I saw their chair.  Thanks Debbie and Doris for supporting them.

The Spears work out of a small building on Route 90, just south of the intersection with 17.  Call first, 207-596-3285.  They have a good selection of fabric books, and we’re really happy with our choices.

They slipcovered a chair, a hassock, and a big sleep sofa for us–from our tv/craft room/den/spare bedroom room.  These pieces get a lot of wear over the course of a year.  The Spears’ price was fair, and they did all this work pretty fast, too.  Plus, they took the chair first, so we’d have a place to sit and watch tv, returned it, and then took the sofa and hassock.  And now we’re so enjoying having what feels like new pieces of furniture.

Look at this pretty chair!

This chair is Reynold’s favorite.  She lies across the back, so she’s up high, feels safe, and doesn’t miss anything.  Of course I’ve thrown a protective blanket over it.  BUT, if someone comes, we can disrobe this pretty chair in a flash.

Here comes the old sleep sofa back home, with its newly covered pillows piled in its belly.  That’s Russell in the back.

Russell and Joanne put the slipcover on the couch.  You can see that Penny has brought them a toy.

And here’s a pic (blurry as it is) of the Spears, the sofa, and the hassock:

Pretty nice, huh?

Turkey Tracks: My Absolute Favorite Tree

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2012

My Absolute Favorite Tree

For the past eight years, I’ve driven by this tree and wanted to stop and take a picture of it.

This week, on the way home from weekly Tuesday shopping in Belfast at the Coop, I pulled off the road and snapped away.  It’s just south of Lincolnville Beach center, on the right.

I think I love this tree–an old oak–best in the winter because you can really see the tree’s skeleton.  I’ll stop next summer and take a picture of this tree when it is all leafed out.  It’s spectacular then, too.

Here’s a view of the trunk:

The rock wall is typical up here in Maine.  This one is a beauty.


Turkey Tracks: March Means Spring

Turkey Tracks:  March 20, 2012

March Means Spring

Here’s what’s on my dining room table today–thanks to sister Sue:

March also  means my birthday–which comes right in the middle of the month.  The 17th.  St. Patricks Day.

When I was four, we lived in Savannah, GA, and back then, they used to have a HUGE St. Patrick’s Day parade.  I used to think it was for me, of course.  Now I’m finding my birthday just goes on for days and days, and this year has been particularly blessed with greetings from loved ones, local events with friends, the Ipod touch and the renewed love of music, lots of fabric for the various scrappy quilting projects, and a gorgeous sweater I’m about halfway through knitting.

Anyway, the days are longer now.  The grass is greening up.  Our weather this week has been spectacular.  I had to go rummaging in my stored summer clothes in an under-the-eaves dry storage compartment to find some cooler tops and pants and a cotton sweater yesterday.  I sat in the sun OUTSIDE yesterday and had lunch with friends down in Damariscotta–after visiting Alewives quilting.

John is raking the yards, sweeping the drive, raking back the pathway rocks the snowplow pushed into the garden, and cleaning out the garage.  Soon we’ll unwrap the chickens’ coop cage and clean out the winter bedding.  The raspberries LOVE that bedding.  The chickens are all laying like crazy.  Soon we’ll fence off the garden so the hens can’t get at the peas we’ll plant and the emerging asparagras.  That bed will be four or five years old this year–I forget which–but we’re are anticipating a good harvest this spring.

Normally, the surrounding hills would be draining off melting snow–forming so many waterfalls that the hills look like they are draped with lace.  But, it’s been a very dry and warm winter.  We’ve already gotten two ticks off of Penny dog.  They are the strangest milky color–even when engorged.

The loss of our local paper is a very sad note.  I will continue to write the essays for this blog, however.  I promise.  And I’ll get back to the essay series on the Paleo diet in the next few days.  I promise that too.

Interesting Information: New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

Interesting Information:  March 17, 2012

New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

I was quilting and listening to NPR news the other day when I heard a story about there being a “new” study that linked red meat and cancer.

Information about the type of study came late in the story, and I’d be willing to bet that what most people heard was “Harvard” and “red meat causes cancer.”

Before emoting on this blog, I poked around a bit and found out more information.  Here’s the press release from Harvard:

And, here’s a story from Business Week:


Now, before you panic about your grass-fed red meat consumption, let’s do a bit of thinking together…

First of all, the study uses QUESTIONNAIRES to determine what people are eating.  This kind of methodology is famously inaccurate and, thus, unscientific.  You can poll 121,342 people, as this study did, and it’s still unscientific because it is always already inaccurate.  People lie for their own reasons or don’t remember exactly.

Second, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.  One famous example of this kind of thinking–leaping from a perceived association to hard fact–would be the very wrong connection between high cholesterol counts and heart attacks.  Do you know how many people have been seriously maimed by taking statins?  I don’t know, but I’ve written a Tipping Points essay on how they waste muscles in the body.  Since Big Pharma and our docs have made a fortune making statins and/or dispensing them, you can bet a LOT of people have been harmed.

Third, the so-called “killer” red meats here are PROCESSED red meats (hot dogs), bacon (not a red meat and made with nitrates), and FAST FOOD hamburgers (notoriously poor quality hamburger, which is probably full of pink slime).  This study is NOT covering high quality red meats, like grass-fed beef, which is free of disease and which is chock full of high-density nutrients.  The distinctions between types of red meat are NOT made in the study’s announcement.  Rather, all red meat is just lumped together and damned.

So, you can bet that if folks are eating a lot of hot dogs and fast food hamburgers, they are also drinking SODAS (full of sugar) and ordering FRENCH FRIES.  How many people eating a fast food hot dog or hamburger are going to order water with a slice of lemon???  Or, NOT order some french fries?

By the way, it’s not all that hard to find good quality–as in nitrate free–bacon and hot dogs.  And to find hot dogs not padded with soy.  And grass-fed beef is getting real traction in the market now.  Yes, it costs more.  It takes longer to bring the cow to market.  So, savor this beef  fully and cook with ALL the beef parts, not just the hamburger and the steaks.

Here’s a quote from the “Business Week” article, by Betsy Booren, the director of scientific affiars for the American Meat Institute Foundation:

All of these studies struggle to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat and admit that they can’t do it well enough to use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits….What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.

Fourth, don’t be fooled by slippery math.  I’m beginning to think of this kind of math exercise as “medical math.”  The study’s writers claim that their analysis showed that people who ate red meat–excuse me, who ate processed hot dogs, bacon, fast-food hamburgers, sodas, and french fries–had an increased risk of 16 percent risk of getting cancer.  Well, the study included 121,342 people, and 9464 people died from cancer.  That’s 8 % of the total.

Here’s more math.  That 16% is part of an unnamed total risk of cancer.  If that total risk is 8%, then you have to take 16% of the 8%, which increases the 8% by 1.28%, which makes the total 9.28%.  That’s a whole lot less that 16%.

Fifth, the study recommends eating more plant-based foods and other forms of protein.  Yet, plants are NOT nutrient dense.  And, they add in a lot of fiber and a lot of sugar (fruits, grains!) which we don’t handle well.  In short, we can’t digest cellulose.  We do not have the enzymes to process cellulose, and too much of it puts a lot of stress on our bodies.  As I’ve discussed in many of my essays now–see the essays on Gary Taubes’ WHY WE GET FAT, for instance–we can get every single nutrient we need, including all 8 essential fatty acids, from meat.  We could stop eating all carbohydrates and thrive.  That’s not junk science; that’s real science with MANY quantifiable test results behind it.

Are there micronutrients in vegetables and fruits that support health?  Probably.  Go slow with fruits, however.  They have a lot of sugar.  So, that’s why I really like the Paleo diet, as it mixes high-quality meat with veggies and fruits.  The Paleo diet drops grains, legumes (a poor source of protein and a problem to digest), and dairy.  I have access to high-quality raw dairy, and I do include it.  Do take a look at the Dr. Terry Wahls video posted earlier on this blog.

The suggested protein alternatives each have problems.  Fish is full of mercury in, increasingly, levels that are not healthy.  We’ve cut our fish consumption down considerably.  It’s now a real treat.  Commercial chicken, besides being utterly tasteless, is full of arsenic and has been fed a lot of GMO soy and corn.  We avoid commercial poultry and buy organic if we’re forced to buy commercial chicken.  We’re lucky here in Maine to have access to pastured chickens for meat.  But, if you find your local farmers and ask, you can probably find some free-range meat chickens.  As for nuts–give me a break.  Nuts are NOT protein dense.

Sixth, here’s another scientific fact for you:  only red meat contains sufficient quantities of vitamin B12 in forms your body can use.  If you lack B12, or no longer can process it from your foods, you’ll get dementia.

So, I agree with Rob Wolf, THE PALEO SOLUTION, about this kind of “science.”  It’s junk.  It’s a waste of time, money, and energy.  It has no core principles at its heart.  It’s why people are so confused about what to eat.

Shame on you, Frank Wu!!!

Damn junk food for the problem it is, yes.  But don’t participate in the correlation in place of causation problem.  And don’t lump grass-fed beef into this study and say so clearly.  Grass-fed red meat is totally different from commercial pink-slimed meat produced in CAFO lots.  Don’t confuse people like this.

And, shame on NPR for even reporting on this story.  It amounts to advertising “facts” that anything but.

Turkey Tracks: Giovanna’s Red Shawl

Turkey Tracks:  March 17, 2012

Giovanna’s Red Shawl

A few weeks back, Giovanna McCarthy invited me to her workroom to wind my skeins of Romney Ridge yarn into balls.   Look what was hanging over her computer chair.

I didn’t get a good picture of it until she brought it to our last Coastal Quilters’ meeting.

Here’s a close-up of the work of some of the work of this spectacular knitter.

You can see a little in these pictures that what’s very nice about this shawl, other than the beautiful red color and the gorgeous pattern, is the large “u-shaped” neckline.  This shawl just “cozies” up to your body.



Interesting Information: Apple Ipod Touch Replaces Sirius/XM Satellite Radio

Interesting Information:  March 11, 2012

Apple Ipod Touch Replaces Sirius/XM Satellite Radio

I am a talk radio junkie.

And, when we moved to Maine eight years ago, I discovered that the local NPR channel did not carry Diane Rhem.  AND, that the local NPR channel carried CLASSICAL MUSIC all morning.

Mercy!  What was I going to do!

The solution at that time was getting a subscription to Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, which had multiple NPR channels and all kinds of other political and news channels.  I found that I rarely listened to anything but NPR, however, so the hundreds of channels were pretty much wasted on me, especially as I did not like the music on the Sirius/XM’s music channels either.

After hooking up the Sirius radio and stringing the receiver through my underground quilt room window, I spent many hours trying to find the sweet spot where I could get uninterrupted reception.  That actually took months as it was totally counterintuitive that the spot would be at the back of the house which, itself, backs up to a steep hill and forest.

After only a few years, the speakers in the portable radio blew out.  But, I soldiered on.  Buying a new radio was around $200.  And, the yearly bill for Sirius/XM runs about $170, once you add in their tacked on “music royalty” fee.

Then, last month, Sirius/XM DROPPED one NPR channel and stopped all the A-level programs, like Diane Rehm, on the other.  What remained was so NOT what I wanted to hear.

I was furious!

I realized Sirius/XM was probably in serious financial trouble.

What was I going to do?

Giovanna McCarthy came to the rescue.  Get an “internet” radio.  Better yet, she wrote after doing some research on my behalf, get an IPod Touch, and you can put your music on that as well.

Let’s back up to the music thing.  Back in the 1980s, I made a whole lot of tapes with music that I dearly love.  Tapes, folks, not CDs.  These tapes are now brittle, worn, have bad sound, and so forth.  But, not long ago–while peeling all the garlic actually–I popped in one of these tapes, turned it all the way up, and sang my way through a tedious job.

I realized I wanted my music back.  And I knew that I’d be able to hear fine with ear phones.  (I have VERY serious hearing aids and VERY serious hearing loss–as does my middle sister.  We think it may have been drugs taken as children or some chemical contamination on various Air Force bases.)

The Ipod Touch, with it’s Cloud feature and it’s Itunes, would let me get the music back and store it reasonable.

AND, it downloads CDs you already own, too!

I ordered it.  And, ordered a portable speaker with a docking station for the quilt room.

I had a frustrating few days as I tried to climb over the technical hurdles.  After all, I’m several generations behind all this new technology.  But, I have the system up and running, and I’m listening to Diane Rehm and all of NPR, and so much more.  I can even listen whenever I want–not just on the broadcasting schedule!  It even carries Facebook and my email.  I’m sure I have only “touched” the surface of what all it will do.

I’m slowly finding, on Itunes, my lost music.  Most of it, anyway.  So far I’ve only replaced one tape.  There are some old songs that have not made it into CD form that are now lost to me except on Utube:  Lacy J. Dalton’s “China Doll,” “Golden Memories,” and “Ain’t Nobody Who Could Do It Like My Daddy Could”; Tom T. Hall’s “Over the Rainbow,” and David Frizzel and Shelly West’s “Two Sides.”  Lost, in this age of archiving everything…

But, this morning, I downloaded and stored three of my favorite CDs–which I never listen to since the player is upstairs and I am, often, downstairs in the quilt room.

A whole new world has opened up!

Oh happy day!

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: My Read Piles, March 2012

Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  March 2012

My Read Piles, March 2012

Here’s what’s in my read pile, NONFICTION:

Here’s my FICTION read pile:

THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS has what appears to be some good recipes.  But, of course, it’s all about sugar and white flour.  There are, however, a few recipes that use buckwheat flour.  Buckwheat, strictly speaking is not a grain.  It’s a kind of fruit.  I have a mix from our CSA, Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen, that is a chocolate cake made with buckwheat.  I will try that…

I enjoyed the cultural discussions of how different the French are from Americans.  My Cultural Studies studies demonstrated quite clearly that “we are NOT all alike under the sun.”  In fact, different population groups are radically different in many ways.  So, it was fun to read about these cultural difference.

I’m reading LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN now.  It’s beautifully written.  I’m about half way through, but am only reading a few pages at night as I’ve been going to bed late, and I’m tired.  My daytime reading is mostly nonfiction–so I can keep up with the essays and “interesting information” for this blog.


Interesting Information: Dr. Terry Wahls

Interesting Information:  March 11, 2012

Dr. Terry Wahls

I pulled out this paragraph from Tipping Points 41:  Part I, The Paleo Diet.

I wanted to highlight how Dr. Terry Wahls has used the Paleo diet to stop the degenerative nature of her MS and to heal her body.

The video embedded in this paragraph is a “must see.”  It’s about 19 minutes.  Please take the time to watch it.

Dr. Terry Wahls, MINDING MY MITOCHONDRIA:  HOW I OVERCAME SECONDARY PROGRESSIVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) AND GOT OUT OF MY WHEELCHAIR, is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine.  In 2003 she was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and soon became wheel-chair bound.  When mainstream medicine could not slow her disease, she started to research how nutrition could help the mitochondria in her brain.  Within eight months of starting a hunter-gatherer diet, she could walk again with a cane.  Today, she rides her bike, rides horses, and lectures worldwide on what she has learned.  Take a look at her short, informative lecture at a November 2011 TED (The Technology Entertainment and Design) conference,