Tag Archives: food

Are Phytoestrogens in Soy Actually Bad for You?

Ocean Robbins 
April 27, 2022

For decades, some health influencers have waged what’s practically amounted to a PR campaign against soy products. Because soy contains phytoestrogens, which are structurally very similar to the estrogen produced by the human body, these influencers argue that soy is a dangerous food that can cause cancer and other diseases by upsetting our natural hormonal balance. Recent research, however, increasingly shows that phytoestrogens may actually be good for you. So what’s the truth about phytoestrogens? What foods, in addition to soy, contain them? And should you include or avoid them in a balanced, healthy diet?

The 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors starred Audrey II, a Venus flytrap that feasted on human flesh and incited a flower shop clerk to murder two people to satisfy its ravenous appetite.

And the roots of the idea (pun semi-intended) go back much further. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke penned “The Reluctant Orchid” in 1956, a story about a houseplant that tries to murder and consume its owner. H.G. Wells’ 1894 short story “The Flowering of the Strange Orchid” imagines a jungle plant that grows spider-like tentacles and emits an intoxicating fragrance that almost lures an adventuring orchid collector to his death.

In short, literature has sometimes convinced us that plants are out to get us.

Phytoestrogens as Antinutrients

And there has been no shortage of contemporary nutrition writers who have, in their own way, also advanced that narrative. They point to what they consider harmful compounds in the plants we eat, which they ominously term “antinutrients.” Phytateslectins, and oxalates often get such negative press.

But the reigning plant-derived nutritional villain, going back decades now, is phytoestrogens. While these compounds are in many plants, the main concern has always been about soy. From cancer to male feminization, nutrient deficiencies to female infertility, some would have us believe that the soybean and its phytoestrogens pose a grave threat to any population that embraces soy products as plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy.

But is it true that the phytoestrogens in soy are harmful? Is soy a real-life analog of Audrey II and the human-destroying orchids imagined by Clarke and Wells? Should you avoid phytoestrogens at all costs? Or is the hype overblown, and might phytoestrogens actually benefit your health as part of a balanced, whole-food-based diet?

What are Phytoestrogens?

estrogen and phytoestrogen
iStock.com/ttsz

Phytoestrogens — literally “estrogens from plants” — are a type of polyphenol found in plant-based foods. There are two main types: flavonoid and non-flavonoid. The difference, as I just discovered when I looked it up, is that non-flavonoids have one phenol ring while flavonoids have two. (I’ll see you on Jeopardy! — “I’ll take ‘mesomeric effect of hydroxyl groups’ for 200, Mayim!”)

Some of the more prevalent flavonoids include isoflavones, coumestans, and prenylflavonoids, among others. The non-flavonoids we tend to hear the most about include lignans and resveratrol. These and other phytoestrogens occur in over 300 different plant species.

Here’s the thing about all phytoestrogens — their structure is close to that of estrogens, a class of human hormones with myriad effects on male and female reproduction, and estradiol, in particular. Because of this similarity, the plant compounds can mimic or otherwise affect the action of estrogens in the body. Sometimes phytoestrogens act just like estrogen and at other times they can actually block estrogenic effects.

If that were the whole story, it’s easy to see why you might be wary of consuming foods high in phytoestrogens. But it turns out that plant estrogens are weaker than estrogens from other sources.

Xenoestrogens

In the interest of comprehensiveness, I’ll mention in passing that there’s another form of estrogens, in addition to the ones produced by the human body (by both women and men) and the ones you get from plants: xenoestrogens. They’re what you get when you add the Greek prefix for “foreign” — xeno.

Xenoestrogens are entirely synthetic chemicals that you can ingest from industrial chemicals such as solvents and lubricants, as well as their byproducts, including plastics, plasticizers, and flame retardants. You can also get exposed to xenoestrogens from pesticides and pharmaceutical agents.

The thing about xenoestrogens is, well, avoid them if you can. They don’t do a body good, and there’s a huge body of evidence that they can disrupt healthy functioning on many levels.

And now back to our regularly scheduled article about phytoestrogens.

Foods That Contain Phytoestrogens

Estrogen-Rich Foods, Menopause Diet
iStock.com/tbralnina

Here’s a not-so-fun article with tables showing the amount of phytoestrogens, in micrograms (abbreviated μg which means one-millionth of a gram), in various plant foods. When you study these tables, perhaps in preparation for your Jeopardy! appearance (“I’ll take ‘fascinating things you didn’t know about cabbage’ for 400, Ken”), you’ll quickly discover that while soy may be the poster child for phytoestrogens in food, it’s far from the only source.

Soy

Among plant foods, fermented and whole soybeans contain the highest concentrations of phytoestrogens, and those appear to be the healthiest ways to consume soy. Fermented soy products include miso and tempeh (the latter boasts whole soybeans). Edamame and tofu are also generally healthy ways for most people to enjoy soy. To avoid GMOs, choose organic soy products. (For more on why, read our article on GMOs.).

Legumes

In addition to soy, other legumes also tend to be high in phytoestrogens — especially garbanzos and green beans.

Sprouted Foods

You’ll also find phytoestrogens in many commonly sprouted plants, including alfalfa, clover, soybean (there it is again!), and mung bean sprouts.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are also foods with phytoestrogens. Pound for pound (or kilogram for kilogram, if you want to get all metric about it), flaxseeds are actually higher in phytoestrogens than soybeans. Also scoring high on the list of foods with phytoestrogens are pistachios, chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews.

Whole Grains

You can get phytoestrogens from some popular whole grains, including oats, wheat, barley, and rice.

Alliums

Representing the allium family, garlic and onion are no phytoestrogen slouches either.

Vegetables

That’s also true for winter squash, as well as the cruciferous family, including broccolicabbage, and many leafy greens.

Fruit

You can also find phytoestrogens in fresh fruit, including blueberries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and dried fruit such as dates and apricots.

Why Do People Think Phytoestrogens are Bad?

Estrogen word written on the book and hormones list.
iStock.com/designer491

So what’s going on here? I mean, that list of foods containing significant amounts of phytoestrogens is also a list of some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Are they good for us in spite of their phytoestrogen content? Or is it possible that the phytoestrogens in food may offer benefits? Let’s first explore the widespread idea that phytoestrogens are bad for us and we should avoid them whenever possible.

Estrogen vs Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are structurally similar to estradiol, the main form estrogen takes in the human body. As such, they can bind to estrogen receptors in our cells and thus have the potential to increase or block estrogenic activity.

Because of this, critics tell us that phytoestrogens disrupt endogenous hormones and keep them from working properly in the body. In particular, critics argue that people with hormonal cancers, and specifically estrogen-sensitive ones, should avoid the estrogen-boosting effects of phytoestrogens.

That’s one of the reasons soy has been singled out for demonization. Eating large quantities of soy-based veggie burgers or downing gallons of soy milk, the theory goes, can trigger breast cancer in women, and can cause men to grow breasts.

That would all be pretty alarming if it was true. But there’s almost no evidence to support it. 

In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

How can that be? Estrogen vs phytoestrogen studies show that while phytoestrogens do bind to estrogen receptors in the body, their estrogenic activity is much weaker than true estrogen, and they may actually block or even oppose the effects of estrogen in some tissues.

Think of a piece of gum fitting into a keyhole; as you cram it in, it takes on something of the shape of the key, but it doesn’t open the door. And it makes it harder for a real key to open the door, too. Phytoestrogens, which are about 1,000 times less potent than the estrogen your body produces, can bind with estrogen receptors and thereby prevent actual estrogen from exerting its effects.

Are There Any Health Benefits of Phytoestrogens?

Walnut is good for your heart and brain
iStock.com/CalypsoArt

In study after study, we find that the foods that are highest in phytoestrogens tend to also be good for heart health and brain health, help to fight obesity and cancer, and promote longevity.

Heart Disease and Phytoestrogens

It’s known that low estrogen levels are a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. Phytoestrogen consumption — particularly that of isoflavones — has been associated with lower CVD incidence in both Dutch and Japanese women.

Isoflavones appear to reduce CVD risk by, among other things, helping to dilate blood vessels and thereby lower blood pressure in hypertensive women. And soy and alfalfa extracts, combined with acerola cherry extract, can reduce the harmful effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Phytoestrogens and Cancer

While trials conducted in the 1990s focused on the question of whether phytoestrogens increased breast cancer risk, later studies reversed the hypothesis and began asking whether diets rich in soy could actually prevent the disease. A 2014 meta-analysis found that soy isoflavones lowered the risk of breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women. The twist was that the researchers found this effect only in Asian populations — women in Western countries did not appear to benefit. Whether this is due to the fact that Asian women eat a lot more soy than Western women is still an open question.

Breast cancer surgeon Kristi Funk, MD, is the author of Breasts: The Owner’s Manual. She examined the extensive research about soy consumption in humans and concluded: “Not only is soy safe, it literally drops breast cancer rates by 60% for soy consumers. And if you have breast cancer, it drops recurrence by 60%.”

Soy consumption has also been shown to suppress the development of prostate cancer. Two soy phytoestrogens, in particular, genistein and daidzein, are being studied for their effects on cancer development.

Other studies have found that consuming soy may also reduce your risk of developing lung, thyroid, ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer.

Alleviating Menopause Symptoms with Phytoestrogens

Some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause occur as a woman’s body decreases the production of estrogen. In addition to hot flashes and sweating, menopause is also linked to an increased risk of obesity and osteoporosis.

Because phytoestrogens can increase estrogenic activity, they have been shown to reduce symptoms of menopause, including decreases in bone density that can lead to osteoporosis. And they have the added benefit, unlike synthetic hormone replacement therapy, of not contributing to blood clots.

Weight Management and Phytoestrogens

There’s a robust body of evidence that phytoestrogens can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This is at least in part because phytoestrogens inhibit the life cycle of fat-storing adipocyte cells and can lower concentrations of adipose (fatty) tissue in the body. They can also help you lose weight by reducing the levels of the “starvation” hormone leptin in your body, so you can lose fat without triggering that “OMG I need a giant donut this very minute or something terrible is going to happen!” feeling. This conclusion was supported by a 2013 study that confirmed soy’s appetite-suppressing ability in estrogen-deficient female mice. (Our view on the use of animals in medical research is here.)

Phytoestrogen Impact on Skin Health

Phytoestrogens also appear to confer anti-aging benefits on the skin. They have been shown to increase the body’s production of collagen production and other compounds that are crucial to skin health. They also block some of the damaging effects of UVB radiation and increase blood flow to skin tissue. Clinical trials have shown that oral phytoestrogen supplementation increased both dermal (skin) thickness and collagen production in postmenopausal women.

Immune System Support

Science is just beginning to explore the role phytoestrogens might play in supporting immune function. Genistein, from soy, appears to keep hypersensitive immune systems from overreacting in unhelpful and potentially dangerous ways.

Phytoestrogen Impact on Cognitive Function and Alzheimer’s

The phytoestrogen resveratrol, found in abundance in red grapes, appears to protect against Alzheimer’s by triggering the destruction of certain proteins in the brain that can form plaques. It has also been shown, in mouse models, to inhibit the development of Parkinson’s Disease. And several observational studies of humans have found that consumption of lignans is associated with higher cognitive functioning.

Who Should Avoid or Limit Phytoestrogens?

Doctor making ultrasound of thyroid gland to woman patient in clinic
iStock.com/Ivan-Balvan

As I hope the above section makes clear, the bulk of evidence suggests that phytoestrogens in whole plant foods are beneficial for most people when eaten as part of a balanced diet. But there are still some situations where some people may want to limit their intake.

In the past, it was thought that people with estrogen-positive breast cancer should avoid phytoestrogen, but a growing body of research indicates that the opposite may be true. In fact, many studies show that soy isoflavones are protective against breast cancers because the phytoestrogens attach to the estrogen B cells, blocking the A cells that cause cancer.

Some researchers urge caution, however — especially about the consumption of processed soy protein products, as these have not been studied as extensively as the whole soy foods traditionally eaten in Asian cuisines. Additional unknowns include the cumulative effect of all the phytoestrogens a person has eaten over their lifetime, and how early these foods were introduced.

People with the rare lung disease LAM may also want to limit phytoestrogens, since the LAM cells have estrogen receptors on them, and may proliferate in the presence of high levels of the hormone and potentially of estrogen mimickers, as well.

Another group that may potentially be harmed by excess phytoestrogens is people who have iodine deficiency with hypothyroidism. While the impact of phytoestrogens may vary based on the person’s age, soy isoflavones, in particular, may negatively affect thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism in the absence of sufficient iodine. This is still largely theoretical, however. Small clinical trials haven’t produced a clear association.

Increasing and Decreasing Phytoestrogens in Food

In addition to eating more or fewer of the plant foods that contain phytoestrogens, you can ramp your consumption up or down depending on how those foods are processed.

Fermentation alters the chemical makeup of soy, which can significantly reduce the level of isoflavones. Prolonged cooking, simmering, or soaking can also reduce phytoestrogen content. Steaming causes less phytoestrogen loss than boiling or frying.

And on a different but related note, your gut microbiota play a key role in the bioactivity and bioavailability of phytoestrogens, as they are the entities that decide what to turn phytoestrogens into.

Recipes with Phytoestrogen Foods

Not only will you get plenty of phytonutrients from each of the dishes below, but you’ll also get lots of nutrition overall, like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Ocean’s Savory Oatmeal is super tasty and brimming with nutrition, including phytonutrients from the flax and pumpkin seeds. Crunchy Kale Slaw makes a fun, fresh, and crispy snack, condiment, or side and contains a huge amount of nutrition, including phytonutrients from the kale, cabbage, and tahini. And Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry is an absolutely delicious, phytonutrient-rich meal with its tofu, broccoli, and garlic. It may seem like lots of ingredients and steps, but each of the three sections is pretty simple to create!

1. Ocean’s Savory Oatmeal

A favorite of mine, and perhaps an about-to-be new favorite of yours, this savory oatmeal will leave you feeling satisfied, energized, and nourished. It’s filled with fiber, protein, and phytonutrients, including phytoestrogens in the flax and pumpkin seeds. It’s also a great way to use that Instant Pot! Don’t own an Instant Pot? No problem! Be sure to check out the stovetop directions in the Chef’s Notes.

2. Crunchy Kale Slaw

This crunchy and tasty slaw offers lots of nutrition in exchange for very little time since it requires only a little shredding and zero cooking. Kale, cabbage, and tahini are three plant-based foods that are rich in many nutrients including phytoestrogens. Enjoy this slaw solo as a crunchy snack, as a side dish to your main meal, or as a condiment on top of tacos and wraps.

3. Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry

This phytonutrient-rich recipe may look like lots of steps, but if you break up each component (tofu, sauce, and veggies) into individual sections, it will come together easy-peasy. First, prepare your tofu and place it in the oven. Next, prepare your sauce while the tofu is cooking (it only takes a few minutes!). Finally, make your veggies, also while the tofu is cooking. Once the tofu is ready, your meal will be ready for simple assembling! If you’re wondering, tofu, broccoli, and garlic are the phytonutrient superstars in this dish.

Say Yes to Plant-Based Phytoestrogenic Foods

Phytoestrogens are found in a number of plant foods. Sometimes they mimic estrogen activity in the body, and sometimes they suppress it, which makes for a lot of curious (and confused) scientists. Although there’s long been a question over whether phytoestrogens are bad for you — especially in regards to cancer — the research shows they are, in fact, beneficial in many ways. For most people, whole plant-based foods that may contain phytoestrogens are healthy when consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Tell us in the comments:

  • Do you eat soy-based foods? If so, which ones are your favorites?
  • Has this article cleared up any confusion in your mind about soy and other phytoestrogen-containing plant foods? What’s your new understanding?
  • What foods will you add more of to your diet to get the benefit of phytoestrogens?

5 Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Grow in Your Home Garden or Forage in Your Backyard

EDITORS NOTE: Our friends at Ascent Nutrition have an amazing mushroom blend in capsule form, check them out HERE

Having a home garden is a must for preppers, especially if your goal is to be more self-sufficient. If you want to grow medicinal mushrooms in your garden, read on to learn more. (h/t to TheOrganicPrepper.com)

Before you decide which mushrooms to grow, take note that they require more hard work to grow compared to regular fruits and vegetables. If you can’t grow them in your garden, you have the option to forage for mushrooms.

Garden giant mushrooms

According to a study, garden giant mushrooms contain antioxidants. Rat subjects that consumed the mushrooms also had lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Grow garden giant mushrooms broken shade with well-drained, moist soil. Mix mushroom mycelium with fresh hardwood chips or sawdust. Avoid chips or sawdust from fragrant woods such as cedar, eucalyptus, juniper, pine or redwood. If you don’t have wood chips, use fresh straw instead of hay.

Garden giants can produce from spring through fall. Cut them loose, snap them off or twist them off. Leave a few fruits in the patch for more mycelium production so you can keep harvesting.

Giant puffball

Research suggests that giant puffball mushrooms have cholesterol-lowering abilities. The mushrooms are also used to treat traumatic hemorrhage and oral bleeding.

Giant puffballs contain calvacin, a compound that is believed to be an anti-cancer agent.

Compared to garden giants, giant puffballs are more difficult to cultivate on purpose. Fortunately, you can forage for them if you know where to look.

You can find giant puffballs in timber areas and meadows, fields or even your own yard. Giant puffballs are widespread and fairly common in many areas throughout America.

Pick puffballs during their immature stage, which is when their flesh is perfect for eating. After that, puffballs begin to rot out and become inedible.There are different varieties of true puffballs, but the giant ones are the most popular. Once you take a puffball from the ground, it has an edible span of about two weeks.

Lion’s mane mushrooms

Lion’s mane mushrooms are well-known for what they can do for your nervous system. Studies show that lion’s mane mushrooms can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in those with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or dementia. In turn, this helps protect neurons and cognitive ability.

Data from a study on mice also revealed that lion’s mane mushrooms can help partially recover locomotor frailty and protect the cerebellum. This implies that any age-related decline in movement ability originating from the brain could potentially be slowed with lion’s mane mushrooms.

The mushrooms also contain erinacine and hericenones that can raise dopamine levels, increase dopamine receptors and help prevent depression.

The immune system also benefits from lion’s mane mushrooms because they can stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory substances from macrophages and cytokines. The mushrooms also help to protect the liver from injury caused by specific enzymes. (Related: Organic functional mushrooms: best immune-boosting medicine from Mother Nature.)

Lion’s mane mushrooms also offer benefits for gut health since they can help the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to colonize the intestines even better than they normally would.

There are different species of lion’s mane and they’re generally white in color. Sometimes, lion’s mane is tinged with yellow or pink.

When foraging for lion’s mane mushrooms, look for the tell-tale icicle-like “teeth” hanging from the central stalk. While they start off relatively short, these teeth can grow longer than one centimeter long or even longer.

If you split open a mature lion’s mane mushroom, you’ll see that there’s little body to speak of and a large cluster of icicle-like mushroom teeth. Lion’s mane mushrooms grow on beech trees and hardwood species like oak and maple.

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are often considered the easiest to grow. They are full of lovastatin, which can help lower one’s cholesterol levels. There are a wide variety of oyster mushrooms.

In one study that tested grey, pink and white oyster mushrooms, scientists reported that the grey-colored oyster mushrooms had the highest levels of lovastatin.

Shiitake mushrooms

Like oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms can help lower cholesterol.

Shiitake mushrooms are full of eritadenine, another chemical compound that also helps lower one’s cholesterol levels. The mushrooms are also rich in beta-glucans, which limits the gut’s ability to absorb cholesterol.

The compounds also help reduce inflammation within the body.

Beta-glucans are good for your body’s ability to produce white blood cells. The compounds also offer benefits for the immune system.

Shiitake mushrooms are also a good source of selenium.

However, some people have a sensitivity to eating too many shiitake mushrooms because of the chemical lentinan. The compound may cause a skin rash that can last for one to two weeks if you eat too many shiitake mushrooms.

Mushrooms are an amazing superfood, and you should grow them in your home garden if you can. Alternatively, you can learn how to identify them and forage for mushrooms in the wilderness or even in your backyard.

Watch the video below to know how mushrooms can boost your brain health.

Cancer Linked Glyphosate Discovered In All Tested Children’s Foods Made From Oats


ARJUN WALIA

APRIL 5, 2022

Significant levels of the weed killing chemical glyphosate have been found in all oat derived samples that were sampled by the Environmental Working Group (EGW), a public health organization.

The report, released in 2018, was published by Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D, Toxicologist. They explain,

Help Support Our FOIA Efforts: Our team is in a back and forth with our government to get access to specific COVID documents that may show government tried to hide treatment options in favor of vaccination campaigns. Help us with clerical and legal fees to obtain these documents by donating today. Click here to Donate.

“Major food companies like General Mills continue to sell popular children’s breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with troubling levels of glyphosate, the cancer-causing ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The weedkiller, produced by Bayer-Monsanto, was detected in all 21 oat-based cereal and snack products sampled in a new round of testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group.”

The tests detected glyphosate in all 28 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. All but two of the 28 samples had levels of glyphosate above EWG’s health benchmark of 160 parts per billion, or ppb.

According to EWG,

“Products tested by Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco include 10 samples of different types of General Mills’ Cheerios and 18 samples of different Quaker brand products from PepsiCo, including instant oatmeal, breakfast cereal and snack bars. The highest level of glyphosate found by the lab was 2,837 ppb in Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal, nearly 18 times higher than EWG’s children’s health benchmark.”

You can view the complete results of the tests and each product tested, here.

In April of 2018, internal emails obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that scientists found glyphosate on a wide range of commonly consumed food, to the point that they were finding it difficult to identify a food without the chemical on it.

Although Quaker and General Mills have said there is no cause for concern given their products meet the legal standards, there is a plethora of literature suggesting no amount of ingested glyphosate is safe.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides…Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.”

R Mesnage (et al., Biomedical Research International, 2014, article ID: 179691

These particular findings by EWG came after a landmark decision in a San Francisco court that ordered Monsanto (now Bayer) to pay $289 million in damages to Dewayne Johnson, who at the time was a 46 year old former school groundskeeper. The jury found that the Roundup weedkiller caused Johnson’s cancer and that it had failed to warn him about the health risks of exposure.

In 2020, the New York Times reported the that the company dished out $10 billion to cover approximately 95,000 cases.

This is why the EWG and other health conscious groups advocate for organic foods. Tests have consistently shown a significant reduction in harmful substances, like glyphosate, in organic food. In many cases, no traces of these substances can be found in organic food, but in some cases they are.

In 2019, a study published in the journal Environmental Research found that an organic diet significantly reduced the pesticide levels in children and adults. Their urine was used to measure pesticide levels and in just one week pesticide levels dropped 60 percent. Other studies have found a 90 percent reduction.

The most significant drops occurred in a class of nerve agent pesticides called organophosphates. This class includes chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic pesticide linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities and reduced IQ in children. Organophosphates are so harmful to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a full ban.

study published in the British Journal of Nutrition outlines a significant difference in nutritional content when it comes to organic food compared to non-organic food.

Many substances we now spray on our food were  initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare. They are linked to a wide variety of diseases, from cancer, to alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, liver diseases and several others.

This is why it’s not surprising that a eating organic foods free from pesticides is strongly correlated with a dramatic reduction in the risk of cancer, according to a study published in 2018 in an American Medical Association journal. The observational study led by a team of French government scientists tracked the diets of nearly 69,000 people. Four years later, those who consumed the most organic foods were 25 percent less likely to develop cancer. Of course, there are many limitations to the study and other factors that could play a role as to why the organic group experienced less instances of cancer.

There are so many examples of products approved for mass use that should not have been approved. There are countless examples of corruption and collusion between governments, federal health regulatory agencies and the companies that manufacture these products. Science that has called into question their safety has long been ignored, while industry science that claims these products are completely safe and harmless to human health as well as the environment as been used for their approval.

Over the years employees from health agencies, like the Centres For Disease Control (CDC), have been emphasizing this as well. For example, in 2016 group of more than a dozen senior scientists lodged an ethics complaint alleging the federal agency is being influenced by corporate and political interestsThey called themselves SPIDER. Scientists Preserving Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research.

They stated,

“We are a group of scientists at CDC that are very concerned about the current state of ethics at our agency. It appears that our mission is being influenced and shaped by outside parties and rogue interests. It seems that our mission and Congressional intent for our agency is being circumvented by some of our leaders. What concerns us most, is that it is becoming the norm and not the rare exception. Some senior management officials at CDC are clearly aware and even condone these behaviours. Others see it and turn the other way. Some staff are intimated and presse to do things they now are not right.

We have representatives from across the agency that witness this unacceptable behaviour. It occurs at all levels and in all of our respective units. These questionable and unethical practices threaten to undermine our credibility and reputation as a trusted leader in public health.”

It’s good to see that glyphosate is now being banned in multiple countries and cities. For example, as of Jan. 1, 2022, the sale and domestic use of 39 pesticides, for a total of more than 100 separate products, have been illegal in the city of Montreal. This includes products that contain glyphosate.

In 2021, Bayer announced that they will stop selling Roundup for residential use in 2023 in the U.S. Home and Garden Market.

It’s unfortunate that we had to wait decades for these initiatives for something that has been seemingly obvious for a long time. How many other products out there can you think of that are clearly harmful for human and environmental health that have been approved by governments? Billions of pounds of glyphosate have been sprayed across our planet. What type of intelligent species would do such a thing?

What Is Sesame? Explore the Benefits & Uses of Sesame Seeds and Tahini

Ocean Robbins 
March 30, 2022 

Medically reviewed by Laurie Marbas, MD

Comedian Mitch Hedberg wondered about sesame seeds a lot. Primarily, he was concerned about how they stick to hamburger buns. Do they have adhesive backing on just one side? And who has the time to peel and stick all those tiny seeds to the buns?

Hedberg’s musings about sesame seeds were limited to their relationship to buns because he’d probably never seen them in any other context. Had he grown up in the Middle East or East Asia, though, his sesame set would have featured jokes about foods like tahini, halvah, sushi, and sukiyaki. In recent decades, the tiny and tasty seeds have grown in global popularity and versatility as their cuisines of origin have jumped borders and gone international.

While an individual sesame seed may be small, don’t underestimate the nutritional value of a bunch of them. And if you haven’t experienced the wonders of sesame beyond a bun or an everything bagel, you may enjoy getting to know the much bigger and more delicious world of sesame seeds and sesame products.

In this article, we’ll say “open sesame” to the mystery of the “Queen of Oilseeds.” We’ll explore their health benefits, find out about potential downsides, and brainstorm delicious and creative ways to include sesame seeds and sesame products in your diet.

Ready? With all due respect to Big Bird and Grover (insert Sesame Street theme song music here), let me tell you how to get, how to get to sesame seed.

What Is Sesame?

sesame field
iStock.com/jxfzsy

Archeological evidence suggests that sesame is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. The oldest sesame seeds found in an archeological context come from the Indus Valley site at Harappa, now in Pakistan, which dates back 4,000–4,600 years. (I can only imagine how hard it would be to find a seed that old in a giant mound of earth. Hopefully one of the diggers didn’t just drop one from between their teeth after lunch.)

Sesame seeds come from the Sesame or Sesamum indicum L. plant, an oilseed crop of the family Pedaliaceae, which to my surprise did not include unicycle ferns or penny-farthing thistles. A prolific producer, one sesame seedpod can produce hundreds of seeds. Botanists think the plant originated in what is now India or Africa; and considering that it still grows wild in Africa, that’s probably a solid guess.

Sesame was likely domesticated somewhere on the Indian subcontinent and probably spread from there to Mesopotamia around 2000 BCE (that’s a lot of sesame spread!) The Babylonians used the seeds to make the only kind of oil they cooked with, and news of the innovation got to Egypt around 500 years later. By 200 BCE, the Chinese had been growing sesame long enough to make it a common staple crop.

To this day, in some cultures, sesame is regarded as the “Queen of Oilseeds” due to its ability to stay fresh and tasty for a long time, resisting oxidation and rancidity.

Hulled vs Unhulled Sesame Seeds

sesame on wood spoon
iStock.com/Charboon_photo

When you buy sesame seeds, you can get them either hulled or unhulled. The hulls are the shells, or outer coverings, of the seed. Hulled sesame seeds have had this covering removed, and unhulled sesame seeds have an intact outer shell.

When shopping for sesame seeds, you might see them characterized as black, brown, or white. Black and brown sesame seeds are the unhulled version (the outer coating is actually kind of golden brown) of seeds, while white sesame seeds are the hulled ones.

Black and brown sesame seeds boast a nutty taste and slightly sweet flavor and aroma that you can enhance by toasting. White seeds — the ones you’ll typically find in a Western grocery store — have a milder flavor.

Black sesame seeds show up often in Asian cuisine. These have a stronger, earthier, and sometimes bitter flavor, along with a crunchier texture.

Other Sesame Seed Products

Cultures around the world have turned raw or roasted sesame seeds into flavorful and versatile ingredients, as well as cherished items of various cuisines.

Tahini

Homemade tahini paste from ground sesame seeds
iStock.com/NelliSyr

The Middle East gave us tahini, a condiment or sauce used in Middle Eastern cooking. Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, either raw or roasted. Tahini is also considered a type of seed butter and is vegan.

There are many uses for tahini, but if you’re a traditionalist, you can drizzle tahini over falafel. You can also include it as a whole-foods fat source in dressings, sauces, and dips. Classic hummus consists of two main ingredients — chickpeas and tahini — along with flavorings like garlic and an acid like lemon juice.

You can buy a bottle of tahini at your leisure, as it’s shelf-stable until opened, for at least a year or two. Once opened, keep your tahini refrigerated so the oil doesn’t separate, and use it within 3–6 months (our recipes below will ensure that it doesn’t last that long). If you’re not sure if your tahini is still viable, check for a rancid odor, or mold forming on the inside of the jar or lid. Homemade tahini may go bad faster; you can slow this down by storing it in an airtight container. And make it in small batches so you can use it up before it turns towards sesame seed heaven, or wherever it is that sesame seeds go when their edible life is drawing to a close.

Sesame Paste

An Asian take on tahini (or is tahini a Middle Eastern take on sesame paste?), sesame paste comes from toasted, unhulled sesame seeds. Sesame paste uses abound in Chinese and other Asian cuisines — use it in soups, as well as noodle and rice dishes.

Sesame paste is typically darker in color than tahini and has roughly the same consistency. But you can also store it like tahini: you can keep sesame paste in its original airtight jar for up to two years, and once opened, refrigerate it and use it within six months.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is a staple cooking oil and condiment ingredient in many Asian cuisines. If you use oil, you can use light sesame oil as a neutral cooking oil, and reserve toasted sesame oil as a flavoring for sauces, soups, and other dishes. With sesame oil, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.

Both types of sesame oil are highly stable and resist oxidation. You can store light sesame oil for up to a year at room temperature. Toasted sesame oil has a slightly shorter shelf life, but will still last for many months if you keep it refrigerated.

If you choose to use sesame oil, do so in moderation, as it’s very high in omega-6 fatty acids. While both omega-6s and omega-3s are essential nutrients, most people consume way more omega-6s than omega-3s, and it’s important to even out the ratio.

Halvah

half
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Halvah is a Middle Eastern dessert that traditionally consists of ground sesame seeds, sugar, and other sweeteners and flavorings, such as honey, pistachios, and chocolate. The texture is solid, almost like a block of fudge, but when you break or bite into it, you’ll find it somewhat crumbly and chalky.

You don’t have to refrigerate halvah, but many people do because the cold keeps it firmer. Unrefrigerated, it will last up to six months, but realistically, if you like it you’ll find it hard not to gobble it up well before then.

Note that some halvah brands use refined sweeteners and natural flavorings, so make sure to read the ingredients before purchasing.

Sesame Flour

Sesame flour is a gluten-free baking flour made from raw, unhulled, and ground sesame seeds. You can use it just like almond flour in gluten-free crackers, breads, batters, and various baked goods.

Some varieties are labeled “defatted,” which just means the seeds are cold-pressed to remove the oil before they’re ground. Sesame flour, defatted or whole, lasts about 6–12 months at room temperature.

Sesame Seed Nutrition

All sesame seeds are good sources of protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Unhulled seeds contain more calcium, iron, potassium, and other minerals, while hulled seeds are slightly higher in folate and have a higher fat concentration and higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and E.

All types of sesame seeds are high in phytochemicals, including the lignans sesamin and sesamolin (“S is for sesamolin, that’s good enough for me”) that act like antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and reducing inflammation. If you really want to get your antioxidants on, go for the black sesame seeds, which are often studied for their potent health benefits thanks to their stronger antioxidant activity.

Sesame Nutrition Facts

You can see a comparison of the different kinds of sesame products’ nutrition below:

  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, whole, dried: 51.6 calories, 1.59g protein, 4.5g fat, 2.1g total carbohydrates, 1.06 fiber (Source: USDA)
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini: 190 calories, 5g protein, 16g fat, 6g carbohydrates, 3g fiber (Source: USDA)
  • 1 ounce of halvah: 159 calories, 6g protein, 8g fat, 13g carbohydrates, 2g fiber (Source: USDA)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil: 120 calories, 0g protein, 13.6g fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g fiber (Source: USDA)
  • 1 ounce of sesame flour: 94 calories, 14.2g protein, .5g fat, 10g carbohydrates, 0g fiber (Source: USDA)

Benefits of Sesame Seeds

Tahini avocado making of - sesame seed, close-up
iStock.com/Drbouz

Science is catching up on centuries of folk wisdom regarding the health benefits of sesame seeds.

Anti-Arthritic Benefits

2019 study out of Iran found that supplementation with sesamin reduced inflammatory biomarkers in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Those in the sesamin group also reported less pain than those given a placebo.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits

A 2021 meta-analysis of seven studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of sesame consumption showed that eating sesame seeds reduced some inflammatory biomarkers. It’s not clear whether these effects will be more pronounced and widespread through the consumption of seeds, oil, or supplements; like almost every nutrition study ever written, the paper ends with a call for further research.

Sesame seeds also seem to be protective of the heart. The lignan sesamin apparently does a lot of the heavy lifting here. As one study put it, there’s evidence that the compound is “anti-hypertensive, anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity,” which I’d pay good money to hear Big Bird and Elmo sing as a duet, with Zoe translating for the rest of us: “against high blood pressure, against injuries to blood vessel walls, against dangerous blood clots, against diabetes, and against gaining too much weight.”

Lowering LDL Cholesterol

A small 2014 study of men suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee found that 40 grams per day of sesame seeds lowered their total cholesterol, and more significantly, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Sesame oil also passed that test, decreasing LDL levels while maintaining the “good” HDL cholesterol levels in humans and laboratory rats, mice, and rabbits. (Our view on the use of animals in medical research is here.)

Anticancer Benefits

Sesame seeds may also fight cancer, thanks partly to the potent antioxidant lignans sesamin and sesamol. And sesamol’s big brother sesamolin has been shown to induce apoptosis (a process whereby damaged cells essentially self-destruct for the good of the organism; something that stops working in cancerous cells) in leukemia, lymphoma, and colon cancer cells.

Good for Athletic Performance

Sesame seeds can improve athletic performance, according to a 2017 study conducted with 20 ​teenage Brazilian football players (you may know the game as soccer). Half the players consumed two tablespoons of sesame seeds a day during 28 days of hard training, and the other half received a placebo.

How do you create a placebo that will fool people into thinking they’re eating sesame seeds when they’re not? I’m glad you asked — I had the same question. The trick, according to the study, was to grind the actual sesame seeds into a paste and sweeten them with honey. The placebo then consisted of honey, maltodextrin, cow’s milk, and artificial caramel food coloring. There — now you can open a restaurant called Placebo Sesame Cafe.

The young athletes who consumed the actual sesame seeds experienced less muscle damage, less oxidative stress, less systemic inflammation, and improved aerobic performance.

Brain Benefits

Sesame seeds may be good for your brain and nervous system. Black sesame seeds appear to contain a compound that interferes with amyloid plaque formation in the brain, the very process associated with the ravages of Alzheimer’s. In 2020, a team of Japanese researchers showed that sesaminol prevented cellular changes associated with Parkinson’s disease in test tube studies.

Another team out of Japan found that 12 weeks of supplementation with sesamin and another compound, astaxanthin, improved cognitive function in people aged 50–79 who exhibited symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Specifically, those taking the active supplements gained in psychomotor and processing speeds compared to placebo controls.

Antidiabetic Benefits

To round out the research on sesame, it also appears to help prevent and manage diabetes due to its hypoglycemic effects. A 2021 meta-analysis of the eight randomized controlled trials of sesame compounds on blood glucose found that they significantly decreased fasting blood sugar. And a 2019 clinical trial out of Pakistan used white sesame oil not only to lower fasting blood sugar and A1C levels in type 2 diabetics but to improve their liver and kidney functions as well.

Sesame Risks

With sesame seeds, it’s not always a sunny day where the air is sweet.

Sesame Allergy

Sesame has become a major allergen over the past two decades, likely due to the increased use of sesame seed and oil-containing products in Europe and North America.

Sesame’s status as the ninth major food allergen was codified by the US government’s Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act on April 23, 2021. (I hope the position of US Acronymer Laureate pays well, it’s an important job —  “Food Allergy Research and Treatment — no, that won’t work…”) The required labeling of products that contain sesame or have been manufactured or packaged anywhere near sesame goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

In Israel, a country that takes its sesame seriously, only cow’s milk was found to be a more common cause of anaphylaxis (that’s an extreme allergic reaction that involves all sorts of unpleasant and potentially life-threatening symptoms, including facial swelling, heart palpitations, and inability to breath). Sesame’s place near the top of this list is probably due to near-universal early exposure and heavy consumption of sesame-containing foods in Israel.

Not every allergic reaction to sesame is so severe; sometimes all a sufferer might experience is a mild case of hives. But if you have a sesame allergy, it is recommended to keep an epinephrine injection device like an Epi-pen with you at all times, as epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis regardless of the trigger. And of course, avoid eating sesame seeds in any form.

Oxalates

Oxalates are compounds in certain foods that, consumed in very high amounts, could predispose you to calcium-oxalate kidney stones, which are what you should see pictured when you look up “No fun” in the dictionary. And sesame seeds contain a heck of a lot of oxalates: according to food science, almost 2,800 milligrams of oxalic acid per 100 grams of sesame seeds.

Arguably, this level of oxalate exposure becomes a problem if you’re consuming sesame seeds by the bucketful. But 100 grams is actually a lot of sesame seeds — around half a cup — and as most servings of sesame seeds tend to be a single tablespoon (15 grams) or less, using the seeds as a topping or condiment doesn’t really raise oxalate alarms.

And other sesame products contain much lower amounts of oxalate due to heating and processing, which destroys them. The good news is that because sesame seeds are also high in potassium, calcium, and phytochemicals, all of which moderate the effects of oxalates, they’re generally not a problem for most people.

See our article here for more on oxalates.

Phytoestrogens

Sesame seeds contain lignans, which are types of phytoestrogens. Estrogen is a hormone found in animal-derived foods, and phytoestrogens are plant compounds that look and act enough like true estrogen to be able to bind to estrogen receptors in your body.

The similarities have caused some food writers and bloggers to worry about the effects of these lignans and other phytoestrogens on our sex hormones.

The best-known phytoestrogen controversy is over soy and the development of “man boobs” — which turns out to have no real basis in fact. (For more on the truth about soy, see this article.)

There doesn’t appear to be an evidentiary basis for phytoestrogen concerns in sesame seeds, either. Studies show that while phytoestrogens do bind to estrogen receptors in the body, their estrogenic activity is much weaker than true estrogen, and they may actually block or even oppose the effects of estrogen in some tissues. Think of a piece of gum fitting into a keyhole; as you cram it in, it takes on something of the shape of the key, but it doesn’t open the door. And it makes it harder for a real key to open the door, too.

In addition to their potentially beneficial antiestrogenic effects on some tissues, phytoestrogens offer a number of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women, and reducing the risk of hormone associated cancers.

Acrylamide

Roasted sesame seeds and related products may contain acrylamide, a potential carcinogen that is formed in certain foods during cooking or processing at high temperatures.

Acrylamide formation may be a result of the Maillard reaction, which is browning from cooking or processing due to a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, and not the nasty look you get when you surprise a duck.

Roasted or toasted sesame products — which can include seeds, tahini, sesame paste, halvah, and sesame oil — have been found to contain varying amounts of acrylamide. A few are high enough that the state of California puts a Prop 65 warning on them, signifying that prolonged exposure may increase the risk of cancer.

The testing of sesame products in Turkey, however, found that traditional sesame foods like halvah and tahini have low levels of acrylamide, and that you’re more likely to be exposed to high levels from foods like french fries and baked goods.

You can take steps to limit your exposure to acrylamide. If you stir-fry with sesame oil, heat the pan at most to 170°C (338°F), and don’t use toasted sesame oil for frying. Even better, replace the oil in your stir-fries with water or broth. And add a small amount of cold sesame oil after the dish has been prepared if you want that rich and nutty sesame flavor with minimal acrylamide exposure.

The best way to avoid acrylamides from sesame seeds is to eat them raw, and use sesame products like raw tahini — either store-bought or homemade.

How to Store & Use Sesame Seeds

Sesame in small glass on white background
iStock.com/lantapix

Even though they resist rancidity better than most other seeds and nuts, sesame seeds aren’t fully immune to spoilage. Because of their high oil content, hulled sesame seeds are kept best refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container after opening. You can keep them for up to three months without refrigeration, up to six months in the fridge, and up to a year in the freezer.

Sesame seeds enhance both savory and sweet dishes. You can sprinkle them on just about anything — oatmeal, power bowls, stir-fries, noodle dishes, salads, appetizers, side dishes, and soups.

Would you like to get your mouth watering with all the great ways you can add sesame seeds to your menu? If so, let’s not waste any time — here are some sesame and tahini recipes that will nourish your body and delight your palate.

Sesame Recipes

Tahini is an essential ingredient in any plant-based kitchen because of its versatility — it can add creamy texture, nutty flavor, and essential nutrients to just about any dish. Sesame Sunflower Chia Bites incorporate nutrient-packed seeds with tahini, making them a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you energized and satisfied. Sesame seeds not only give the Asian Black Rice Salad a finishing touch of color, but add calcium and phytonutrients to boot, plus some fun crunch! Finally, the Turmeric Tahini Sauce gets its scrumptious flavor and creamy texture from dreamy tahini.

1. Sesame Sunflower Chia Bites

Sesame Sunflower Chia Bites boast nutrient-packed seeds, including pumpkin and sesame, making them a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you energized and satisfied. What’s more, sesame seeds are jam-packed with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The bites are sweetened with whole pitted dates that complement the nutty flavor of sesame and sunflower seeds perfectly.

2. Asian Black Rice Salad

Get ready to wow your guests at that summer picnic with the Asian Black Rice Salad. It’s bursting with color, flavor, and fun textures from the carrots, cabbage, and cashews. The addition of sesame seeds not only gives the Asian Black Rice Salad a finishing touch of color, but also adds calcium and phytonutrients, plus more fun crunch!

3. Turmeric Tahini Sauce

Turmeric Tahini Sauce is slightly nutty, very creamy, and packed with nutrition thanks to the tahini. The turmeric adds just a bit of earthiness along with anti-inflammatory compounds, and lemon adds some zest as well as vitamin C. This tahini recipe just might become your new favorite addition to drizzle on top of salads, grain bowls, and steamed veggies!

Sesame and Tahini Are Good for You!

Sesame seeds are a versatile food that offers considerable health benefits. While there are a few considerations when eating sesame seeds or sesame products, they’re safe and ultimately beneficial for most people. You can enjoy many types of sesame products as part of a wide variety of dishes and cuisines, in whole, paste, oil, or flour form. Sesame seeds can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a well-balanced diet.

New Study Shows Chemical Found in Green Leafy Vegetables Can Slow the Spread and Treat Illnesses Caused by COVID-19 and Other Common Cold Viruses

Jim Hoft
March 29, 2022

According to a study led by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a chemical that can be found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli could slow the spread and treat illnesses caused by Covid-19 and other common cold viruses.

Researchers at John Hopkins Children’s Center discovered from their lab experiments on mice that “sulforaphane, a plant-derived chemical, known as a phytochemical, already found to have anti-cancer effects, can inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and another human coronavirus in cells and mice.”

“While the results are promising, the researchers caution the public against rushing to buy sulforaphane supplements available online and in stores, noting that studies of sulforaphane in humans are necessary before the chemical is proven effective, and emphasizing the lack of regulation covering such supplements,” Hopkins Medicine stated.

Sulforaphane can be found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, both red and white varieties, bok choy, watercress, arugula, also known as rocket.

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“When the COVID-19 pandemic started, our multidisciplinary research teams switched our investigations of other viruses and bacteria to focus on a potential treatment for what was then a challenging new virus for us,” according to Children’s Center microbiologist and senior author of the paper Lori Jones-Brando, Ph.D.

“I was screening multiple compounds for anti-coronavirus activity and decided to try sulforaphane since it has shown modest activity against other microbial agents that we study,” she added.

According to Alvaro Ordonez, M.D., the first author of the paper and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, sulforaphane and remdesivir work better combined than alone is very encouraging.

“What we found is that sulforaphane is antiviral against HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses while also helping control the immune response,” Ordonez said.

“This multifunctional activity makes it an interesting compound to use against these viral infections, as well as those caused by other human coronaviruses,” he added.

Read the summary of their finding below:

The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has created the immediate need for effective therapeutics that can be rapidly translated to clinical use. Despite the introduction of vaccines, effective antiviral agents are still necessary, particularly considering the potential effects of viral variants. New oral antivirals targeting viral enzymes (e.g., molnupiravir and Paxlovid) have recently been approved or are in the process of review for emergency use approval by regulatory agencies, with many more currently under development.

However, this approach can be affected by the emergence of viral variants that change the affinity of the drug to the viral protein. An alternative approach is to target host mechanisms required by the virus to infect cells and replicate. Host-directed therapy is advantageous as it allows preexisting drugs to be repurposed, may provide broad-spectrum inhibition against multiple viruses, and is generally thought to be more refractory to viral escape mutations.

Following exploratory experiments using the in vitro CPE inhibition assay, SFN was identified as a promising candidate to target the host cellular response, given that it is orally bioavailable, commercially available at low cost, and has limited side effects. We observed that SFN has dual antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties against coronaviruses. We determined that SFN has potent antiviral activity against HCoV-OC43 and multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2, including Delta and Omicron, with limited toxicity in cell culture. The similar results observed between the coronaviruses evaluated suggest that SFN could have broad activity against coronaviruses, a feature that may prove invaluable as new strains of pathogenic coronaviruses enter the human population. Moreover, synergistic antiviral activity was observed in vitro between SFN and remdesivir against both types of coronaviruses tested; comparable synergism in vivo would be advantageous in clinical scenarios where remdesivir is currently being used. We demonstrated in vivo efficacy of prophylactic SFN treatment using the K18-hACE2 mouse model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Prophylactic SFN-treatment in animals reduced viral replication in the lungs by 1.5 orders of magnitude, similar to that reported for remdesivir in the same mouse model. By comparison, BALB/c mice infected with mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2 had a 1.4 log10 reduction in viral titers when treated with 300 mg/kg of nirmatrelvir 4 h after infection. As expected, SFN treatment also modulated the inflammatory response in SARS-CoV-2-infected mice, leading to decreased lung injury.

In summary, we documented that SFN can inhibit in vitro and in vivo replication of SARS-CoV-2 at pharmacologically and potentially therapeutically achievable concentrations. Further, it can modulate the inflammatory response, thereby decreasing the consequences of infection in mice when administered prior to infection. Given that SFN is orally bioavailable, commercially available, and has limited side effects, our results suggest it could be a promising approach for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as well as other coronavirus infections. Further studies are needed to address these possibilities.

Read more here and below.

Got Food Oil Poisoning? Physician, Author and Researcher Dr. Chris A. Knobbe Verifies Processed Oils Are at the Core of Nearly All Disease

Have you heard of food oil poisoning? It can wreck entire body systems and exacerbate any and all health issues you already have. It’s not like food poisoning where you get violently sick within 24 hours and vomit repeatedly. It’s a long-term health catastrophe, and it’s embedded in the food supply, and that’s why about 200 million Americans are suffering from chronic disease right now. Which oils and what are the signs? Let the food oil scholar explain it in great detail, then you can remedy your own situation, or pass this valuable knowledge along to your family, friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers. Dr. Chris Knobbe presented these shocking revelations at the 2021 Ancestral Health Symposium, entitled the “Omega-6 Apocalypse.”

Nearly all “Westernized” diseases come down to vegetable oils

You may have thought gluten, animal fat, and sugar were the human body’s worst enemies when it comes to food that causes long-term health decimation, but vegetable seed oils take the cake. Food oils may be the main culprit, in other words, for obesity, cancers, metabolic syndrome, malnutrition, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and dementia.

Dr. Knobbe walks us through 200 years of medical history with his in-depth research, and what we see is that the USA leads the way in weight gain, more than 25 percent above the global average. We continue to replace animal fats with vegetable oils, so it’s not really about the whole “cut your carbs” (carbohydrates) movement that was so popular for so long.

The entire diabetes epidemic (it should be termed) has been created in this country, mainly, over the past 85 years. Obesity was only a one percent factor a century ago; now every third American is overweight, and half of them are obese (about 30 or more pounds overweight).

In 1960 obesity affected only 13 percent of the American populace, now it’s 40 percent, and that’s four out of every ten people you see in the stores and restaurants are obese, buying and consuming processed food oils nearly every meal, every day. They’re toxic food addicts, and their health problems only get worse for them every year.

Shocker: Processed vegetable oils account for a sickening third of all food consumed by Americans

“Plant oils” have been a marketing scam, the doctor says, to make the oils sound healthy for you, but the health trade off for any nutrition is a whole rack of chronic problems, as he points out. Canola isn’t even a plant, but comes from a toxic, non-edible insecticide known as rapeseed oil. Over 90 percent of processed oils contain GMOs, furthering the health detriment of consumers who now also have pesticides destroying their good gut flora.

The worst of the vast array of toxic oils are the PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid oils), including canola (rapeseed diluted), corn, cottonseed, rice bran, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, and of course, soybean. As of late, there has been a massive increase of seed oil consumption in the USA.

Bottom line: Eliminate the seed oils from your diet and you eliminate multiple health issues you have now, are developing, or would otherwise develop in the not-so-distant future. Currently, 86 percent of added fats in foods are vegetable oils. Let that sink in for a minute (pardon the pun).

Egg Prices Soar As Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Spreads Ahead Of Easter

Add eggs to the growing list of food prices rising at grocery stores. The reason is a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) spreading across the US.

Bloomberg reports HPAI has been detected in commercial poultry operations, backyard farms, and wild flocks up and down the East Coast and across the Midwest since Jan. 26.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has monitored the spread rippling through the US. Standard procedures for farms where HPAI has been detected are cull infected flocks. Last week, APHIS said 2.8 million chickens and turkeys died in one month from the virus. At least one million birds were recently culled at a poultry farm in Iowa.

Karyn Rispoli, a poultry market analyst at commodity researcher Urner Barry, warns egg prices are beginning to rise due to lost production. She said peak demand for eggs is underway as Easter fast approaches, pushing prices even higher.

HPAI spreading to more farms, thus triggering more cullings, risks future supply disruptions. As wholesale prices increase, consumers are expected to notice rising egg prices, just as inflation soars to four-decade highs.

Urner Barry data shows wholesale eggs jumped 10 cents to $1.60 a dozen Wednesday, the most significant daily gain since the early days of the virus pandemic. The five-year average for wholesale eggs is around $1.44.

John Brunnquell, CEO of producer Egg Innovations, said prices would continue rising in the coming weeks, and consumers will notice.

“Bidding remains very strong among different egg companies, and so you’re going to see significantly higher” prices at grocery stores, Brunnquell said.

Since the HPAI spread is recent, there’s no telling if it will abate anytime soon. The last outbreak, in 2015, resulted in the culling of 50 million laying hens across 15 states, pushing retail Grade A Egg prices to nearly $3 a dozen.​​​​​​ Prices are currently at $2.

Retail prices are at the highest in five years for this time of year.

E-Course: Backyard Chickens for Eggs

The largest concern is the spread of HPAI as wild flocks migrate across the country. Even before the emergence of the virus, the 2015 culling has resulted in declines in egg-laying chickens.

“When you layer that on top of that what’s going on with avian influenza, and the precedent of 2015, the impact on the market could be material,” Stephens analyst Ben Bienvenu warned. 

Monocropping: A Disastrous Agricultural System

Ocean Robbins · 
March 18th, 2022

I’ll begin with a simple definition: monocropping is planting and growing one type of plant in the same place, year after year. It’s the type of planting that occurs under a type of agriculture called monoculture. If you’ve ever driven through large agricultural fields completely filled with — say, corn — as far as the eye can see, you’re in monoculture country. Monoculture is an agricultural system that involves the planting of a single crop, over and over.

That cornfield was a cornfield last year, and the year before, and it will be a cornfield next year, and into the foreseeable future. It’s a monoculture because corn holds a monopoly on that field — no other crops allowed. Because monocultures typically exist at large scale, and can accommodate both conventional and organic farming, the vast majority of the agricultural yield in industrialized countries comes from monocultures.

The question is, why? It’s obvious that nature doesn’t monocrop. You’ll never see an area untouched by humans that is completely dominated by a single species of plant. Nature abhors not just a vacuum, but sameness. Biodiversity is the signature of a natural system.

To understand the reasons behind the global shift to monocultures, and why the agricultural sector has embraced it so wholeheartedly, we have to look at the Green Revolution of the 1960s, and the hopes of the scientists, policy makers, and farmers who were struggling with the twin scourges of poverty and starvation.

How Did Monocropping Come About?

Harvesting a Field of Soybeans With a Combine Harvester.
iStock.com/JMichl

Monocropping was a cornerstone of a series of initiatives intended to address hunger throughout the world by increasing agricultural production. The plan was to develop a wide array of effective pesticides and herbicides, create and teach farmers to use new synthetic fertilizers, breed new and improved “high-yield varieties” (HYVs) of calorically dense crops, and mechanize farm equipment.

The thing that was going to make all of these innovations work was a shift in how agricultural land was used. Traditionally, subsistence farmers and smallholders planted a variety of crops, from grains to pulses to nuts to vegetables to fruits to herbs. But the new technologies and systems of mass production were only going to work, the thinking went, at a large scale.

The big machines were expensive and were designed to handle a specific crop. You don’t harvest wheat with the same equipment you use to harvest soybeans. Each crop required a custom application of biocides and fertilizers, as well. In order to get the most out of these technological advances, farming had to change from the workshop model to the factory model.

To replace biodiverse gardens and farms with industrial-sized agriculture, vast swaths of arable land were converted into single-crop use. That way, the farmers could use their new equipment and synthetic chemicals on new HYVs that were bred to tolerate the toxins and make the most of the fertilizers.

As a result, farms around the world increased in size, on average doubling the number of acres under cultivation, in order to produce more food with less labor. With a single farmer able to produce more food, the number of farmers and farm laborers decreased, as human inputs were replaced by machines and by chemicals, often delivered from the air. Over time, more and more farms relied solely on these high-yielding crops, in the form of monocropping, to increase yields and profits.

This logic led to vigorous efforts to bioengineer HYVs to produce heartier, faster-growing, and more resilient crops that define monoculture, rather than relying on trial and error or “natural” breeding.

Now, let’s look at some of the monoculture advantages and disadvantages for farmers.

Economic Advantages of Monocropping for Farmers

Farmer enjoying on his quality grain of corn production.
iStock.com/artistDNGphotography

At first, farmers thought they were on to a good thing. They could now produce more food, and opted to cultivate the one crop that had the greatest profit potential for their soil and climate.

Another monocropping benefit to farmers was the perceived simplicity that saved them time and money, at least in the short-term. Focusing solely on a single crop meant the costs for seeds, equipment, fertilizer, and so on, remained relatively consistent over time, and farmers didn’t have to keep looking for new suppliers.

GMOs and Monocropping

As bioengineered (BE) crops (formerly known as GMOs), such as Roundup Ready corn, soybeans, and sugar beets hit the market, the pairing process got even simpler. The farmer had a standing order of glyphosate (one of the active ingredients in Bayer’s — formerly Monsanto’s — weed killer Roundup) that accompanied every purchase of BE seeds.

Harvesting also got much simpler, as a single machine designed specifically for corn, wheat, or beets could do the work of hundreds of human laborers.

The Emergence of Factory Farms

And last, but certainly not least among the perceived benefits of monocultures, monocrops became inextricably interlinked with a massive expansion in factory farming (or what the industry calls Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs). Today, much of the world’s corn and soy are fed to livestock, not to humans. And CAFO-raised cows, pigs, and chickens represent an almost limitless market for these crops.

The overall result of monocropping, for the first couple of decades, appeared to be mostly positive — at least in terms of the goals of bringing the world more and cheaper calories and increasing the economic security of the farmers who provided it. But all those perceived savings came with hidden costs that added up over time.

Monocultures (and the Green Revolution in general) were promoted to increase the global food supply. While that’s happened, there have been several attendant negative consequences. (I’d say “unforeseen consequences” but I’m not sure that’s true. It didn’t take psychic powers to imagine the effects of a dietary pattern made up largely from factory farmed animal products and processed corn, soy, wheat, and palm oil replacing traditional diets.)

Economic Disadvantages of Monocropping for Farmers

Soybeans and Beetles
iStock.com/PrairieArtProject

The fundamental issue with monocropping is the “all the eggs in one basket” problem. Crop failure is an inevitable part of farming. For myriad reasons that farmers can’t control (most of them falling under the categories of weather, pests, and disease), not all plants thrive and produce a bountiful and profitable harvest every single year.

In a biodiverse ecosystem, a threat to one crop may not be a threat to others. An infestation of stem borers can destroy summer squash but may leave eggplant untouched. An unexpected hail may crush corn and not bother beets.

But when fields contain just one crop, from genetically identical stock, every single plant is equally vulnerable to threat. A pest population can jump easily from one plant to another, especially when there are no other species of plants in between and when crops are planted close together for efficiency.

Monocropping Through History

To see the devastating results when a monocrop comes under threat, check out the history of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, in which a single genetic variant of potatoes was wiped out by a water mold. The Irish people’s dependence on that variant for the majority of their calories meant that over a million people starved to death (an eighth of the entire Irish population), and millions more left the country as refugees.

The history books offer at least one more example of the dangers of relying on monocrops. The world’s most popular banana up until the 1950s was a variant known as Gros Michel. You can’t find a single one anymore, as the world’s supply was knocked out by a fungus that caused Panama disease, which led to banana wilt.

In response, banana producers turned to a less tasty variety, the Cavendish, which is the fruit we know today. Unfortunately, the banana industry didn’t learn its lesson, as the Cavendish comprises 99% of the world’s banana production, and is now under attack from a new variant of Panama disease called TR4. Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, predicted in an NPR interview that the Cavendish could become extinct in the next 10–30 years.

A Trap for Farmers

Monoculture farming can become a trap for the farmers, who often have no choice but to keep purchasing the same seeds and biocides from their agribusiness vendors. Since the seed and agrochemical market was consolidated through mergers and acquisitions into just four main global players, these firms can exert monopolistic power over the farmers who depend on them for seeds and chemical inputs.

The result is increased costs and eroded profit margins for farmers. For example, the price of corn seed rose from under $27 per planted acre of seed to over $90 from 1990 to 2019, far outstripping the rate of inflation. And because monocrop corn farmers have invested so heavily in machinery and infrastructure for growing and harvesting corn, they can’t easily exercise free choice and move to another crop or growing model.

The consolidation of seed and supply companies into just a few global companies isn’t the end of the “bigger is better” story. Farms themselves are growing larger, by buying up competitors’ land or squeezing family farmers out of business. Bigger farms that buy at large scale are rewarded with favorable pricing, which makes it much harder for smaller farms to compete fairly in the marketplace.

Many farmers are forced to buy Bayer seeds and pesticides even if they don’t want to. When neighboring farms spray so much of the weed killer dicamba that the air turns hazy, those toxic clouds can waft for two to three miles, killing any soybean plants that aren’t bioengineered with dicamba-resistant genes — which is to say, any soybeans not made by Bayer.

Government Subsidies and Monocultures

Not coincidentally, crops produced in a monoculture system are often the same ones that are subsidized by the government (at taxpayer expense, of course). Subsidization is generally delivered in the form of insurance for farmers, guaranteeing that they can sell their crop above a certain price, no matter how low the actual market value for that crop falls. The primary subsidized crops in the US are corn, soy, wheat, and rice.

One out of every five dollars earned by US farmers comes directly from government payouts. These subsidies now buffer farmers not just from the threat of a bad harvest or market crash, but from any marketplace fluctuation. Without subsidies, it would be economic insanity to grow just one or two crops. If the price of corn dropped sufficiently, a farm that relied entirely or mostly on corn for its income could get completely wiped out in a single season.

Finally, subsidies tend to favor large farms, as government payouts often disproportionately go to the biggest producers.

Monoculture’s Impacts on the Food Supply & Food Insecurity

Millet grinding hands
iStock.com/quickshooting

At a large scale, monocropping means that poor countries must compete with wealthy ones, in the open market, for a slice of the same global food supply. While traditionally a poor country might be able to grow its own food more cheaply, since wages were also lower, now the entire world bids for commodity crops, which places lower-income nations at a disadvantage.

Because the Green Revolution, in general, and monocropping, in particular, prioritizes efficiency over resilience, there’s very little slack in the system when anything goes wrong. And in agriculture, things often do go wrong. Shocks and uncertainties are part of the web of life, which is why nature builds redundancy and diversity into its design.

When humans decimate that diversity through monocropping, any event that leads to a diminished harvest has ripple effects, such as increasing food prices and bringing about greater food insecurity.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Monocropping

We’ve seen this play out during the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank, a long-time supporter of industrialized agriculture at scale, has admitted that even before the pandemic, monocropped agriculture was collapsing. Here’s a remarkable sentence from an article on the World Bank’s website“Even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors, including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.”

As the pandemic unfolded, the article continues, these already scarce resources became even more expensive, with the Agricultural Commodity Price Index increasing 25% from January 2021 to January 2022. Again, the global economically poor were getting priced out of access to food grown on their own lands, which replaced the diverse and healthful horticulture and subsistence practices that had fed their families for generations.

For example, monocropping has displaced regional staples, such as millet, sorghum, and cassava, all culturally and nutritionally important sources of calories throughout much of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and South America. These foods have been part of traditional healthy diets for hundreds of years, and their displacement threatens global crop diversity.

Monoculture’s Impacts on Human Health

Palm oil - production in Burundi
iStock.com/SeppFriedHuber

Human health also suffers when factory-farmed animal products and processed grains and oils replace traditional whole foods in our diets. Monocultures of corn and palm oil can produce more calories — but far less nutrition — per acre than many other crops. In a world of cheap calories from fractionated foods, malnutrition now refers as much to micronutrient deficiencies as to starvation.

A 2021 research paper on the effects of monocropping on the health of the economically poor highlights the scope of the problem in its first sentence: “Approximately 2 billion people globally are affected by micronutrient deficiencies; much of which is attributed to consuming a monotonous diet of nutrient-deficient staple crops.”

Researchers have also documented a relationship between the decrease in dietary diversity and a reduction in the diversity of the human microbiome, with accompanying health challenges. And once a particular strain of beneficial microbes goes extinct in a population, there’s a risk that it will never return.

Monocropping also makes it harder for farmworkers to lead lives of dignity, freedom, and security. As pests become resistant to pesticides, and weeds gain resistance to herbicides, agricultural chemical manufacturers have engaged in an arms race, increasing both the quantity and toxicity of chemical applications. While there’s some debate about how much exposure to these agents harms consumers, there’s no doubt that farmworker exposure to biocides is extremely hazardous.

Monoculture’s Impact on Children

farmer harvesting pearl millet outdoor in the field
iStock.com/pixelfusion3D

Children of mothers who work in pesticide-contaminated fields experience more neurological issues, cognitive impairment, and autism. Girls who grow up exposed to pesticides are at greater risk of infertility and breast cancer.

And throughout the world, children involved in monocropped agriculture, such as on oil palm plantations, are being exploited. Globally, millions of children and adults are essentially enslaved by their agricultural employers.

Environmental Impacts of Monocropping

Green Algae Washes Ashore
iStock.com/modesigns58

Humans aren’t the only species being harmed by monocropping. The practice is making the planet more susceptible to the ravages of climate change by eroding the land’s ability to retain soil and water.

2020 study published in the prestigious journal Nature reported that land used for agriculture or tree farms, which comprises 40% of all the non-ice-covered land on the planet, “… is less able to withstand fires, pests, and extreme weather events.” And since monocropping farmers lack the agility to shift their planting strategies in the face of climate change, they’re extremely vulnerable to these effects.

Pest and Weed Resistance

As we’ve seen, monocropping and pesticide use go hand in hand. But insects and weeds are rapidly developing resistance to the most widely used pesticides, which creates a vicious cycle — when bioengineered, pesticide-resistant crops fail, agribusiness has doubled down on the strategy by unleashing an “arms war” of increased and more diverse pesticide deployment.

This creates two additional problems. First, since the costs of losing the battle to a pest or pathogen can mean economic disaster for growers and consumers, there’s little appetite to risk alternative approaches to pest management that don’t involve all-out chemical warfare. Second, climate change means that new pests can now thrive in areas where they until recently had never been seen.

Effect on Pollinators

I’m sorry to say this, but it gets worse. According to a 2019 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), monocropping, and the pesticide use that accompanies it, now threatens not just plant diversity, but pollinator diversity as well. According to the FAO, over one million species of plants and animals are endangered, including many insect pollinators without whose hard work we would be in real trouble. Of the 20 fastest growing crops in the world, 16 require pollination from insects or other animals. And the danger is not evenly distributed — the most affected countries are the emerging and developing nations in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Disrupts Water Supply

Monocropping also compromises our precious water supply. Fertilizers add nitrates, nitrites, and phosphates to our drinking water, as well as to other bodies of water. Nutrients leach out of our food supply and into water — which not only don’t benefit the ecology of rivers, lakes, and ponds but can harm them by creating the conditions for algal blooms that starve aquatic creatures of oxygen.

And impoverished monocropped soil is less able to absorb rainwater, leading to more flooding and more dependency on irrigation.

Decreased Soil Biodiversity

Fertilizers, pesticides, and factory farm waste also harm the ability of soil to sustain life. Monocrops keep adding the same things and depleting the same things, leading to less biodiverse, resilient, and mineral-rich soil (and more dependence on external inputs such as chemical fertilizers).

Monocropping reduces organic matter in soil and can cause significant erosion. This decreases the diversity and abundance of bacterial communities in soil, which in turn undermines plant health and ultimately the health of the humans who eat the plants.

Sustainable Alternatives to Monocultures

Corn and Potato on Crop
iStock.com/enter89

As scary and sad as all this is, there’s some good news that’s also part of the story — we know how to grow food in ways that heal rather than harm the earth and ourselves.

Regenerative Agriculture

What’s known as regenerative agriculture, and millennia-old, indigenous growing ways, prioritize practices that mimic natural ecological processes and promote biodiversity. Shifting to regenerative agricultural processes is also one of the most powerful levers at our disposal to combat human-caused global climate chaos.

Regenerative farming focuses on the health of the soil as a top priority. Unlike monocropping, which sacrifices long-term soil health for the short-term production of marketable crops (did none of these scientists or policy makers encounter the story of “the Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg” as a child?), responsible land stewards treat the soil as their primary asset, which produces wealth in the form of food year after year.

Regenerative practices have been shown to enhance soil health, increase soil-based carbon stores (which is good for the climate as well as the plants growing in that soil), improve the physical structure of the soil so that it can hold more carbon, water, and oxygen, and boost soil biodiversity.

Intercrops, Cover Crops, and Polyculture

Other examples of sustainable growing include intercropping — planting more than one crop in a field — and polycultures, which means planting multiple crops together that all help each other grow better.

A well-known example of such a polyculture is the “3 Sisters” of South and Central America: corn, beans, and squash. Planted together, all three do much better than any one on its own. The squash puts out big leaves that outcompete weeds, but only after the corn and beans have grown taller than the squash leaves. The corn provides a frame upon which the beans can climb. And the beans, like all legumes, fix nitrogen in the soil for the other two sisters. The result is healthier plants and higher yields without the need for so many (or any) chemical fertilizers and herbicides.

Another technique, planting cover crops on part of the land to serve as “green manure” for other crops, adds nutrients and reduces the need to import fertility from outside the farm.

Integrated Pest Management

A sophisticated method of dealing with insects that eat crops, integrated pest management (IMP) also mimics nature, which doesn’t try to eliminate species entirely but keeps them in check through predation. Rather than killing life and reducing biodiversity, IMP takes the opposite approach, nurturing the presence of organisms that prey on the critters that prey on the crops.

Agroforestry

Nature, of course, doesn’t grow food in rows, but produces its bounty in meadows, orchards, glens, jungles, and forests. All these ecosystems are characterized by robust biodiversity that’s expressed in vertical layers, with roots, ground cover, shrubs, bushes, short trees, and tall trees all sharing the sun, soil, and rain to their collective benefit. Agroforestry is an approach to growing crops that mimics the design and function of a grove, with crops and trees interplanted.

While there is always more to learn, and there are many new breakthroughs to be had, this isn’t entirely new science. Indigenous farmers have been refining these techniques for millennia, to protect their crops from extreme weather events, maximize the resources that can be harvested from a single location (legumes and lettuce and lumber, oh my!), increase soil fertility, and store carbon.

Indigenous farmers also save and treasure many varieties of each crop, which increases the odds that any disease that attacks a particular strain won’t be able to destroy the entire crop. And the genetic variability also provides nutritional and usage variability, so the community can get far more from its arable land than a single crop would provide. This approach truly provides the farmers with land for life, rather than cash crops for a few seasons.

What Can You Do as a Consumer?

Vegetables on sale in Victoria, Australia
iStock.com/TobyHalligan

Given the urgency of our collective generational challenge — to produce food sustainably and ethically so that all may be fed — what can each of us do to participate in the shift from industrial monocropping to regenerative agriculture?

At a personal level, we can start by directing our hard-earned money towards foods that align with our values.

1. Eliminate Factory Farmed Meat and Dairy

A strategy with a particularly big impact is to steer clear of industrially produced animal products such as meat and dairy. That’s because much of the monocropped and bioengineered corn and soy grown around the world goes to feed livestock.

2. Cut Down on Processed Foods

You can also say no to monocropping by reducing your purchases of processed foods, especially those made with palm oil, non-organic corn, and soy by-products. This isn’t as simple as looking for “corn” or “soy” on a food label: corn by-products can hide behind words like maltodextrin, sorbitol, and fructose (here’s a primer on avoiding these substances in packaged foods), while soy can be found in mono- and diglycerides and monosodium glutamate, among many other sources.

3. Buy Sustainable and Ethically Sourced Food

If that’s what not to buy, what shopping strategies encourage more environmentally friendly and regenerative methods of growing food? As much as possible, buy a diversity of locally grown, non-BE, fair trade, and organic produce. The good news is, most of the world’s farms are still small and family-run, and typically don’t grow crops in monocultures. Smaller-scale farms are more likely to practice composting and other sustainable methods that reduce soil erosion and in some cases, even sequester carbon into the ground.

4. Shop Local and Small

To really increase your odds of supporting an environmentally responsible farm, frequent your local farmers market, support a nearby farm stand, or join a CSA (community supported agriculture) collective. It’s a great way to connect with small-scale folks who are more likely to practice crop rotation, companion planting, and other sustainable techniques. You can ask them how they grow their food and learn about what they are doing, too. A lot of thoughtful farmers love to be seen for, and to brag about, the good things they do. And by spending money within your local economy, you help your community become more abundant.

5. Go Organic

Buying organic can be another way to steer clear of monocrops, as organic farming methods are typically not compatible with monocropping. While some large-scale organic operations may adopt aspects of monocropping for certain crops, this is more often the exception than the rule.

The majority of organic farms are practicing polyculture and crop rotation, prioritizing soil health, and using cover crops. And by definition, they also can’t use most conventional pesticides or bioengineering, so overall their farming practices tend to be better for people and the environment.

6. Grow Your Own Food

You can also lead by example by growing some of your own food. It’s a great way to reduce or eliminate your reliance on industrial agriculture in all its problematic forms. You’ll also buffer yourself from future disruptions in the world’s food supply such as we saw during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have a lawn, you’re actually tending your own tiny monoculture of grass. You can show your neighbors (and yourself) what’s possible by turning that lawn into something more diverse and useful. You can grow food, or you might also plant a pollinator garden, grow food for birds, or sequester carbon by planting small trees. All of these options can improve the health of the soil and give a hand to your local wildlife.

Say No to Monocropping

Monocropping is an unsustainable farming system that has serious negative impacts on farmers, farmworkers, society, and the environment. What began as a proposed solution to world hunger turned into a race for ever-higher yields and short-term profits.

For humans and the environment to thrive, we need to shift to farming methods that are sustainable and even regenerative, putting more back into the soil than we extract.

And all of us can play an important part by not buying food produced using monocropping methods on large-scale industrial farms — instead supporting local, small-scale, and organically produced food.

SOURCE: Food Revolution Network

5 Common Mistakes Plant-Based Eaters Make and How to Avoid Them

A well-planned whole foods, plant-based lifestyle is a health-promoting, nutritionally smart, delicious, and enjoyable way to live and eat. Plus, it contributes to fewer animals living in abject misery in factory farms, far fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and to a safer and healthier world for future generations. So any and all steps taken toward a more plant-forward way of eating are worth celebrating in my book.

Yet, in my work with thousands of Plant-Powered & Thriving course participants and members of Food Revolution Network’s Whole Life Club, I’ve noticed five common missteps people take in the early days and weeks of plant-based eating.

This isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach when tranitioning to a vegan or plant-based diet. I don’t believe that there is only one “right” way to eat. Instead, I want to help people make the shift to plant-based in a way that truly works for you — and that’s both sustainable and nourishing, so you stick with it and feel great.

My wish for you is that your eating path serves your overall wellness and quality of life. So in this article, I want to help you figure out how to transition to a plant-based diet by avoiding the five most common mistakes people make when first adopting this way of eating.

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

Selection of healthy rich fiber sources vegan food for cooking
iStock.com/Aamulya

Since there’s a lot of confusion out there, let’s start with a definition. When I talk about a plant-based diet, I’m referring to one based predominantly on whole plant foods, that minimizes or excludes animal products and byproducts. So plant-based diets typically include an array of fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), grains, nuts, and seeds.

Eating a plant-based diet minimizes or excludes meat, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood, and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream made from animals’ milk. A whole foods, plant-based diet also minimizes or avoids processed, refined, and artificial ingredients, including added sugars.

5 Common Mistakes Plant-Based Eaters Make

You might think that going plant-based couldn’t be easier or more straightforward; it’s all there in the name. Get the vast majority of your calories from stuff that grows from the ground and don’t eat things that came from animals or were made in factories.

But as they say, easier said than done. From marketing to habit to availability to busyness, a lot of things can make transition to a vegan or plant-based diet harder. Once you identify what those things are, you can prepare yourself to succeed when they arise.

Some of these mistakes are the result of unnecessary urgency. Take the transition to a plant-based diet at your own pace, rather than out of a perceived need to be “perfect” today. While some folks can turn on a dime, most people don’t do well going cold “tofurky.”

So here goes: the five most common mistakes that get in the way when you shift to a more plant-based diet as well as steps you can take to avoid them. And at the end, you’ll get some delicious recipes to help healthy practice become a healthy habit.

Mistake #1: Relying on Processed Plant-Based Meat & Other Processed Foods

beyond burger and beyond beef packages
iStock.com/Sundry Photography

When I was a kid, a veggie burger was something you made in your kitchen out of oats or brown rice, beans or lentils, flax seeds, and veggies. You could see the cubed carrots, kernels of corn, and chopped kale right there on your plate. And it typically fell apart before it reached your mouth. These days, you can fool most meat eaters with a Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger, which looks and tastes so much like ground beef that die-hard meat eaters often can’t tell the difference.

The fact that there are so many meat-free prepared foods and packaged options today is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s never been more convenient and easy to steer clear of animal products, as there’s a plant-based or vegan substitute for just about everything you can imagine. In the past, you might have refrained from going plant-based because you just couldn’t imagine “giving up” some favorite animal product — bacon, scrambled eggs, deli meat, burgers, jerky, yogurt, milk, cheese — but now the vegan food industry has you covered. You can even find an array of vegan holiday centerpieces these days.

The problem is, these convenient and delicious options are often highly processed vegan foods. This is one of the key struggles some people face with plant-based and vegan diets: over-reliance on processed foods. Processed vegan dairy and meat substitutes may have a lot of added salt and sugar as well as saturated fat, and in some cases may even be contaminated with pesticides and GMOs — and contain unwanted additives and preservatives.

So beware the slick marketing that slaps the words “plant-based” or “vegan” on processed food to take advantage of the halo effect of these phrases. While meat and dairy analogs can help you transition at the beginning and can serve as occasional treats along the way, they don’t meet the definition of whole plant foods.

Success Step: Instead, prioritize planning a nutrient-dense, plant-based menu. What are some healthy plant foods you want to try? How can you do that? Many people find that meal planning and prepping for the week ahead takes away a lot of stress, and removes the need to make in-the-moment decisions when you’re hungry, tired, or stressed.

Mistake #2: Worrying About Protein When Transitioning to a Vegan or Plant-Based Diet

Food sources of plant based protein.
iStock.com/bit245

For as long as I can remember, here’s how the dialogue has gone when people talk about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet:

Person #1: “I’m vegetarian.”
Person #2: (Knits brow, assumes worried expression) “So where do you get your protein?”

The most common misconception around plant-based diets is that they are deficient in protein. This mistake has a long and complicated history, the gist of which is that in many people’s minds, “protein” has been synonymous with “meat,” and has been given the status of the “best” nutrient. Meanwhile fat and carbohydrates battle it out over which one is the “real” villain (spoiler alert: it’s neither).

The problem with this narrative is threefold. First, well-planned diets can provide sufficient plant-based protein to all, including the most extreme athletes. Second, the modern industrialized human eats way more protein than they need. And third, excess protein — in particular, animal protein — actually can be harmful and lead to disease and degeneration.

Plant-based amino acids provide more than enough protein for a human diet. Plant protein is not “inferior” to animal protein, nor should you think of it as an alternative protein source. Animal protein is not “complete,” and plant protein is not “incomplete.” That was an unfortunate myth that took hold in the 1960s and had anxious vegetarians obsessing over food-combining at every meal.

Plants contain all nine essential amino acids. It’s true that some plant foods are low in certain amino acids. For example, some grains are low in lysine while some legumes are low in methionine. Getting adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids isn’t difficult when you eat enough food, in general, and include a variety of plant-based foods. The risk of amino acid deficiency would mostly be an issue for someone who, for example, only ate rice every day or only ate beans every day, and nothing else.

Success Step: Swap beans (and more!) for beef. Excellent plant-based sources of protein include beanspeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy foods; certain grains and legume-based pastas; even fruits and vegetables contribute a small amount. So rather than fret over protein, simply eat a variety of different whole plant foods to cover all your amino acid needs.

Want to know more about protein, how much you need, and where to get it? Check out our article on plant-based protein, here.

Mistake #3: Believing you don’t need supplements for anything

Young smiling brunette woman doctor nutritionist plus size in white shirt working at laptop at modern bright office room. The doctor prescribes a prescription for medicines and vitamins at clinic
iStock.com/GalinaZhigalova

While a varied diet based on whole plant foods will cover most of your nutritional bases, there are a few nutrients that often need to be added via supplementation to prevent deficiencies.

And when shopping supplements, you may want to look for plant-based vitamins or vegan supplements, which aren’t made with animal products, and are disclosed on product packaging.

B12

Vitamin B12 is probably the most important supplement for plant-based eaters (and really for everyone else, too). It’s crucial for red blood formation, reproduction, neurological function, and DNA production.

So if plant-based diets are so great, how come we need to supplement them with B12? It’s at least in part because of changes in our food supply and environment over the past hundred years.

B12 is produced by single-celled microorganisms that live in soil, as well as in the intestines of animals and humans. Some humans appear to have bacteria in their gut that make enough for them, but many do not. And most of us can no longer meet our B12 needs from nature because of modern sterilization practices, chlorinated water, antimicrobial efforts, and industrialized farming practices. Studies estimate that 20–40% of people globally (including many meat-eaters) are B12-deficient.

So most of us — not just vegans — are at risk of B12 deficiency. We can get it from fortified foods, such as some brands of nutritional yeast and plant milks. But the safest way to ensure sufficient vitamin B12 is to take a supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another nutrient of concern, and again not just for those on plant-based diets. At least 50% of the global population doesn’t get enough of this nutrient, which is important for immunity and bone health. Vitamin D is also being studied for its ability to prevent and lessen the severity of COVID-19 infections.

Like with B12, it’s not necessarily the diet per se that’s the problem, but rather our modern existence. Technically, vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin because we can make it ourselves when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. It’s only the invention of “indoors” that keeps most people from producing enough vitamin D to meet their bodies’ needs.

Some animal-based foods do provide some vitamin D, including fatty fish and egg yolks. Plant-based eaters can get some vitamin D from fortified plant milks, as well as certain varieties of UV-treated mushrooms. But by far the most reliable way to meet your needs is through a daily vitamin D3 supplement, at least in the winter months if you don’t get much sun where you live, or as a year-round maintenance dose.

Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health, skin, and protection from neurodegenerative diseases. It’s easy to get the precursor form of omega-3, called ALA, from plants; the best sources of ALA are flax and chia seeds, and there are smaller amounts in walnuts, hemp seeds, and some leafy greens. We then convert ALA into other forms our bodies also need — principally EPA and DHA. The problem is, the conversion rate is low and varies significantly from person to person.

Fish and other seafood contain DHA + EPA, which they get by consuming algae. If you choose not to consume sea animals or supplements made from their oil, you can skip the middlefish and take a plant-based, algae-derived omega-3 supplement.

Iodine

There are a few other nutrients that you may want to supplement, depending on your needs and your diet. Iodine is a nutrient crucial to proper thyroid function. We get iodine from sea vegetables and iodized salt, but if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake, the best way to meet your iodine needs may be through supplementation. You can take a dedicated iodine supplement or a multivitamin that contains iodine.

Iron

The type of iron in plant foods (non-heme) is different from the type found in animal products (heme), and tends to be less readily absorbed in our bloodstream. Many people get too much iron, so lower bioavailability is often a good thing. But not for everyone.

The best plant sources of iron include legumes, dark leafy greens, seeds, and nuts. You can boost your iron absorption by eating vitamin C-rich foods at the same time. These include citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and many others.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 helps support bone and heart health when combined with vitamin D. There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. K1 is easy to source from leafy greens, but K2 is harder to find in plants, unless you’re a regular eater of a fermented dish called natto. If natto isn’t your thing, vitamin K2 may be found in other fermented foods. While the exact amount of K2 in fermented foods can vary, consuming some sort of fermented foods (like kimchi or sauerkraut) daily may help directly deliver K2 and it may also promote healthy bacteria, which could possibly lead to making K2 in your gut. Or to be sure, you can take a supplement.

Success Step: Find reliable plant-based supplements to support your diet, especially for the nutrients mentioned earlier in this article. And, in consultation with your healthcare provider, make them a regular part of your routine.

Editor’s note: Some friends of ours created Complement Plus to help meet the specific nutrient needs of plant-based eaters. It has a carefully chosen amount of important nutrients that even a healthy plant-based diet may be lacking — including DHA, EPA, B12, D3, Iodine, Selenium, Magnesium, K2, and Zinc. If you’re interested, find out more about this product here. Note: If you make a purchase, Complement will make a contribution in support of FRN’s mission. So you can support your health and healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all, at the same time!

Mistake #4: Limiting Your Menu

exploring recipes
iStock.com/humanmade

Thanks to Hollywood tropes linking healthy eating to ascetic and joyless lives, there’s a common misconception that to going plant-based means subsisting on leafy greens, with the occasional carrot thrown in for variety. And while I love a big bowl of leafy greens, this is far from the only thing on my menu or the menu of most plant-based eaters today.

One of the best parts of adopting a plant-based diet is the chance to experiment with an abundance of beautiful, colorful, versatile plant foods you may never have tried before.

Most people don’t know this, but each type of plant provides a unique type of fiber. And each type of microbe in our guts needs different types of fiber. So we need many, many different types of fiber in order to feed the diversity of microbes that we need to be healthy. That’s why you’ll thrive the best when eating a wide range of different veggies, legumes, whole grains, fruits, seeds and nuts, mushrooms, etc.

Success Step: Not sure where to start? Check out the recipes below, bookmark a few plant-based blogs (like FRN!) for inspiration, or crack open a plant-based cookbook. If you’re just getting into this way of eating, you might plan to try just one new recipe every week.

Mistake #5: Comparing Your Diet (& Yourself) to Others

friends together at home
iStock.com/South_Agency

When adopting a plant-based diet, remember that it’s a change you’re making for your own reasons. This means that you get to design your own diet, to meet your personal needs and preferences. The best whole foods, plant-based diet is the one that is optimal for you, your health, and your values. It doesn’t have to be identical to mine, your best friend’s, or anyone else’s.

Comparison is a thief of joy, whether we’re talking about our net worth, physique, ability to play the intro to “Purple Haze” on electric guitar, or our diet and lifestyle choices. And it can make it harder to stick to a specific way of eating if you’re constantly trying to measure up and achieve “the best diet.” Make plant-based eating work for you, and don’t worry about whether your version or anyone else’s is healthier, purer, or better.

Success Step: Rather than comparing or competing, connect with others who are also somewhere on the plant-powered path — sharing mutual support, encouragement, socialization, and inspiration. Potlucks, collective meals, and plant-based recipe swaps can help everyone up their healthy eating game — and have more fun in the process. And, if you want to be sure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs, then you might consider meeting with a plant-based dietitian.

Editor’s note: Want ongoing support to help you keep making progress towards your food and health goals? You might want to check out WHOLE Life Club, FRN’s membership community. You’ll get tons of plant-based recipes, action videos, a supportive community, expert interviews, and other invaluable resources to help you implement, sustain, and optimize your healthy lifestyle. Find out more here.

Best Foods for a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

As you’re transitioning to a plant-based diet, be sure to prioritize whole plant foods as much as possible. These provide you the most nutritional bang for your buck, plus they’re delicious — and they get better tasting over time as your taste buds and neural pathways adjust. You’ll learn countless ways to use new foods, even some you thought you didn’t like before. Here’s a quick list of the basics, and some creative ways to use them.

  • Beans and lentils
    • Homemade veggie burgers
    • In spaghetti sauce over pasta
    • Bean-based no-bake energy snack balls
    • Roasted chickpeas over salad or as a crunchy seasoned snack
    • Topped on nachos
    • Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and burrito bowls
  • Fruits
    • In smoothies
    • Toppers for oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal
    • Eaten on their own or with nut butter as a snack
    • Chopped and used in a grain or leafy green salad
    • Roasted/grilled peaches or baked apples
    • Avocado toast
  • Vegetables
    • Steamed, roasted, grilled, sauteed
    • On kabobs
    • Toppers for homemade pizza
    • On stir-fries and pasta dishes
    • In smoothies: leafy greens, peas
    • Blended to make tomato-based sauces
    • Vegetable and bean soups
    • Layered raw vegetable sandwiches
    • Served raw with hummus
    • Made into chips in an air fryer
  • Whole Grains
    • Cooked in water or stock and served with a yummy sauce
    • Quinoa, amaranth, millet, or oats as a breakfast cereal base
    • Experimenting with different whole grain flours in baking
    • Whole wheat noodles and breads
    • As flours for homemade pizza dough, pancakes, and waffles
    • Grain salads using farro, amaranth, millet, teff
    • Air-popped popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Make homemade nut or seed butters
    • Eat raw, unsalted as a snack or in trail mix with dried fruit
    • Chop and add to grain or leafy green salads
    • Use cashews to make cashew cream for soups or a plant-based cheese sauce
    • Add to smoothies
    • Spread on toast or in sandwiches, on pancakes and waffles

To experience plant-based ingredients in action, try some of the recipes below.

Recipes to Help You Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Choosing a variety of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods shouldn’t be difficult when there are over 20,000 edible plants in the world. Of course, not all 20,000 of these may be readily available to you, but many probably are!

The Harvest Grain Breakfast Bowl provides an array of nutrients through a variety of ingredients that also provide plenty of flavor and texture. Choose snacks wisely by picking those that contribute to your overall nutrient intake, like the simple-to-make Pumpkin Oat Bites. You can satisfy the entire family by giving them a taste of nourishing plant-based meals such as Jackfruit Taco Chili. Get a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients by making and assembling the Beet Burgers with Smashed Avocado and Pickled Red Onions. And give your plant-based meal plan daily reassurance by including the Vitality Smoothie Bowl each day as either breakfast or lunch, a snack, or an after-dinner treat.

1. Harvest Grain Breakfast Bowl

Start your day with a well-rounded, nutrient-dense breakfast. The Harvest Grain Breakfast Bowl is packed with a variety of good-for-you ingredients, flavors, and textures that will help you enjoy a plant-based diet. There’s zinc in the pumpkin, protein in the millet, and iron in the beets. It’s satisfying to both your belly and your body! P.S. If you’re not a savory breakfast person, this bowl also serves nicely as lunch or dinner!

2. Pumpkin Oat Bites

Having well-balanced snacks on hand that offer whole-grain carbohydrates, plant-based protein, healthy fat, and plenty of micronutrients will help you stay energized throughout the day. Protein is found in the oats (5 grams per ½ cup rolled oats!), almond butter, hemp seeds, and pecans. You’ll also get healthy omega-3 fats from the hemp seeds. These bite-sized snacks are also a good source of iron from oats, hemp seeds, and dates. Not to mention they’re mighty tasty!

3. Jackfruit Taco Chili

Jackfruit isn’t necessarily known for its protein content, although it does have a bit. It is known as a meat substitute, though, with its pulled pork-like texture. The protein in this dish comes from the beans which also bring iron, while vitamin C-rich tomatoes maximize iron absorption from those beans. If you choose to use salt, use iodized salt unless you’re taking a multivitamin that includes iodine. Add some mushrooms for a mini dose of vitamin D (but don’t forget to get a little sunshine too!).

4. Beet Burgers

This burger checks all the boxes — it’s simple to make, tastes delicious, is extremely satisfying, and is packed with nutrition. You’ll get iron from the beets and beans, omega-3 fatty acids from the flax, and prebiotic fiber from the oats and onions, which may help to synthesize vitamin K2 in your gut. Add some healthy bacteria to feed on the prebiotic fiber by adding a tablespoon of fermented kraut or kimchi to each burger!

5. Vitality Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies and smoothie bowls are a wonderful and tasty way to add a variety of nutrients that are sometimes a challenge to get on a plant-based diet. One way to include vitamin B12 and vitamin D is to choose a fortified plant-based milk if you use store-bought. (If you make your own plant milk, you may need to get your B12 and vitamin D from other fortified foods, supplements, or in the case of Vitamin D, the sun). Hemp seeds offer omega-3s, though you could get even more if you use chia or flax meal in their place. Spinach and cacao add iron. Add some berries, naturally rich in vitamin C, to maximize iron absorption. Finally, stir in some probiotic-rich and creamy plant-based yogurt to potentially stimulate gut synthesis of vitamin K2.

You Can Avoid These Plant-Based Diet Mistakes

Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be a wonderful thing, not just for your own health but for the health of the animals, the planet, and everyone around you. Plant based food benefits far outweigh any cons of following a vegan or vegetarian diet. And while whole foods, plant-based diets can meet the majority of your nutritional needs, it’s important to supplement appropriately and plan a well-rounded diet that incorporates an array of healthy foods. Make plant-based eating work for you by intentionally designing a plan that meets your needs and preferences. By doing so, you can avoid the most common plant-based eating mistakes and experience all of the wonderful things this diet has to offer.

The War In Ukraine Is Going To Trigger The Biggest Global Food Crisis That Any Of Us Have Ever Seen

By Michael Snyder
March 8th, 2022

By the end of 2022, we are going to witness very serious shortages of food in many parts of the globe.  In fact, World Bank President David Malpass is openly admitting that we are now facing “a huge supply shock” as a result of the war in Ukraine.  Of course, we were already moving into a global food crisis even before the war erupted.  According to the UN, worldwide food prices in February 2022 were 20.7 percent higher than they were in February 2021, fertilizer prices have gone absolutely nuts, crop production is down all over the planet due to crazy weather patterns, and supply chain problems caused by the pandemic continue to create ongoing headaches.  But now World War 3 has erupted, and that is going to push this rapidly growing global food crisis to a level that none of us have ever seen before.

Under normal conditions, Ukraine exports tremendous amounts of food and is considered to be one of the most important “breadbaskets” on the entire planet.

Unfortunately, everything has changed now, and this has pushed the global price of wheat up 55 percent since a week before the invasion happened…

Ukrainian farmers have been forced to neglect their fields as millions flee, fight or try to stay alive. Ports are shut down that send wheat and other food staples worldwide to be made into bread, noodles and animal feed. And there are worries Russia, another agricultural powerhouse, could have its grain exports upended by Western sanctions.

While there have not yet been global disruptions to wheat supplies, prices have surged 55% since a week before the invasion amid concerns about what could happen next. If the war is prolonged, countries that rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine could face shortages starting in July, International Grains Council director Arnaud Petit told The Associated Press.

I really don’t like that “shortages starting in July” part.

That definitely sounds rather ominous.

Right now, the global price of food is the highest that it has ever been, and Russia and Ukraine normally account for “nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports”.

Now that exports from Russia will be greatly reduced and exports from Ukraine will be virtually non-existent, some countries will almost immediately be facing extreme stress.

For example, just consider Lebanon.  The Lebanese normally get 60 percent of their wheat from Ukraine…

War-ravaged Syria recently announced it would cut spending and ration staples. In nearby Lebanon, where a massive explosion at the Beirut port in 2020 destroyed the country’s main grain silos, authorities are scrambling to make up for a predicted wheat shortage, with Ukraine providing 60% of its supply. They are in talks with the U.S., India and Canada to find other sources for a country already in financial meltdown.

Very high food prices caused (contributed to – Ed.) riots all over the Middle East in 2011, and now we are moving into a food crisis that will be far greater than anything that we experienced back then.

Things are going to be very challenging in Europe as well, because Ukraine normally provides almost 60 percent of the corn that Europeans use…

Ukraine supplies the EU with just under 60% of its corn and nearly half of a key component in the grains needed to feed livestock.

Meanwhile, crops all over the world are in surprisingly poor shape because weather conditions have been so strange.

Earlier today, I was stunned to learn that it is being projected that China’s winter wheat crop could be “the worst in history”

The condition of China’s winter wheat crop could be the “worst in history”, the agriculture minister said on Saturday, raising concerns about grain supplies in the world’s biggest wheat consumer.

And the USDA is reporting that a whopping 71 percent of all winter wheat in the United States has been affected by drought

A limited supply of soft white wheat, the primary type of wheat grown in the Inland Northwest, has helped lead to a six-year low for wheat exports from the United States. That’s according to the USDA wheat report for February. The report also states that 71 percent of U.S. winter wheat is being hit by drought in 2022.

We struggle to feed the entire world even in the best of years, and this definitely is not going to be one of the best of years.

Another factor that is going to drive up the cost of food is soaring energy prices.

On Sunday, the national average of a gallon of gasoline in the United States crossed the four dollar threshold

Gasoline prices surged to the highest level since 2008 on Sunday, as crude oil supply fears stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine increase the impact on consumers at the pump.

The national average for a gallon of gas hit $4.009 on Sunday, according to AAA, which is the highest since July 2008, not adjusted for inflation. Prices have been rising at a fast clip. Consumers are paying 40 cents more than a week ago, and 57 cents more than a month ago.

Of course the price of gasoline is much higher in some parts of the nation than in others.

For example, at one gas station in Los Angeles consumers are now paying about seven dollars a gallon to fill up their vehicles…

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose to $5.247 on Saturday, but some gas stations in the area have even higher prices.

The Shell gas station located at Olympic Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Mid-City was advertising regular unleaded at $6.99 a gallon. The price for premium was listed at $7.29 a gallon.

I suppose that I should stop warning about “seven dollars a gallon” for gasoline, because it is already here.  So many of the things that I have warned about have already happened, and things are only going to get worse from here.

In fact, I think that it won’t be too long before some Americans are paying ten dollars for a gallon of gasoline.

Would do you think that will do to our economy?

This war is going to end up deeply affecting every man, woman and child on the entire planet.

If you were waiting for things to “return to normal”, you can stop waiting, because a perfect storm has arrived and things are definitely not going to be “normal” for the foreseeable future.