Monthly Archives: January 2015

No, you can’t get GMO seeds for your garden

Spring is getting closer, so of course bloggers the country over are planning their gardens. People on this diet or that debate relative safety/goodness of different foods, and if it will help you lose weight or strip your innards of good bacteria, poison you, or kill you. Tin foil hat people think it is a conspiracy between giant corporations and the government to control you. What is it? Anything you want to rail against.

Those things have a common overlap: anti-GMOness in all forms, explicitly and completely. Never mind that most people writing about GMOs don’t know what it is, what it does, and how it has an effect on your body. (And they can’t know what the effect will be…there are many different kinds of GMOs and they all do different things to the plants, and if they do in fact have an effect on your body, the effect of each will be different.)

I have read quite a few blogs that say to make sure you buy your seeds for your garden from specific seed houses so that you won’t inadvertently get GMO seed from “any other (bad) seed house!!!” that the blogger isn’t affiliated with. That is complete and utter bunk. Bullshit, if I can be brutally honest.

Let me tell you, Monsanto is very proud of their GMO technology. Very proud. They are so in control of their patents and seeds that when you buy field crop seeds that are Roundup Ready, you have to sign an agreement that you won’t keep the resultant crop, and you won’t sell it yourself for someone else to plant. The dealer you bought it from has to report to Monsanto your name, address, Monsanto ID (which you had to apply for before buying), quantity, date, invoice number, salesman name, and if you return it, they have to account for that too. For some products, you even have to give them the GPS coordinates of the field you are planting (!) Monsanto isn’t interested in giving their technology away. They are interested in making money off of their innovations, and sneaking it in somewhere to a gardener’s broccoli seeds doesn’t bring the dollars in.

Speaking of GMO broccoli…um, there isn’t any. Here is the complete list of GMO plants:
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Argentine Canola (Brassica napus)
Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)
Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Flax (Linum usitatissumum L.)
Maize (Zea mays L.)
Melon (Cucumis melo)
Papaya (Carica papaya)
Petunia (Petunia hybrida)
Plum (Prunus domestica)
Polish canola (Brassica rapa)
Poplar (Populus sp.)
Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.)
Rice (Oryza sativa L.)
Rose (Rosa hybrida)
Soybean (Glycine max L.)
Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris)
Sugarcane (Saccharum sp)
Sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.)
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)
Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

“Ah ha!” you triumphantly say. Beans, Eggplant, Melon, Plum, Potato, Squash, Beets, Sweet Peppers, Corn and Tomatoes grow in my garden! Yes, grasshopper, but look at the links. Beans = only available in Brazil. Eggplant = Bangladesh. Sweet Peppers = China.

These have authorization to be grown in the U.S.: Melon, Plum, Squash, Tomato, Potato. So, I challenge you: Find me some of those to plant. Find some so I can put them in my garden – especially a squash plant that repels squash bugs. You won’t be able to, because none of them are commercially available. There is literally no GMO seed available to plant for those 5 types for the home gardener.

Corn is another matter. BT corn and Roundup Ready corn is available, mostly field corn, but some sweet corn is now commercially available. I’ve been looking just to see if I could even buy some for my home garden, and came across this:

Stewardship Requirements
In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that Seminis® Performance Series™ sweet corn only be purchased by growers signing a grower license that contractually obligates compliance with the Insect Resistance Management (IRM) program and does not allow the sale of seed to small roadside or home growers.

Just as I thought…you have to sign an agreement with Monsanto. And it isn’t available to home growers.

Another side rant. There is no GMO wheat available to plant in the U.S. either. There just isn’t. It was approved for the U.S., but Monsanto stopped development on it. So if someone says they are avoiding wheat because of the chance of GMO contamination, well, they are idiots.

So why? Why is this such a common theme on garden blogs? Seed sellers? Health nuts? Because it is good marketing for the seed sellers. Like labeling bottled water “gluten free”. I think that most people don’t know what GMO means, how it is tested, and what is actually available as seed to put in the ground, and they are scared. So they buy the hype and look down their noses at rubes who don’t worry about it.

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Mongolian Beef and Broccoli over Cauliflower Rice

Always on the lookout for new Whole 30 recipes, I stumbled on this gem from thehealthfoodie.com today. I am allowing myself to use soy sauce, cause my little grocery store would scoff at me if I asked for coconut aminos. I can see the little old lady with the perpetual scowl who works there shaking her head with a grimace if I would ask. I also didn’t use the honey, and I used regular old table salt, not that fancy high faluting Himalayan salt. It was delicious.

I think the best thing out of this recipe, though, is the cauliflower rice! Oh boy, I’ve heard people say it was good, but dude. That was good. I can make that for many side dishes, not just this one. DH doesn’t particularly like spaghetti squash, which I try to use as a replacement for pasta, but he liked this. I didn’t tell him what it was, though, so he may have thought it was something like couscous or something. *shrug* But the important thing is that he liked it.

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli over Cauliflower Rice
adapted from thehealthfoodie.com

Cauliflower Rice
1 small head cauliflower, zinged into rice-like pieces in the food processor
1 T lard
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 T garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 T sesame seeds
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T roasted sesame oil

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli
2 T lard
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ cup soy sauce
2 T garlic
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and black pepper
1 T tapioca powder
1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced
½ bag frozen broccoli

First, make the cauliflower rice: Cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few quick times (about 10 to 15) until it resembles the texture of rice. You may have to do this in batches, because if you put too many in the bowl, the blade won’t touch the top pieces and the bottom ones will start to turn into mush.
Add the lard to a large skillet set over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add riced cauliflower, vinegar and sesame oil and continue cooking for an additional 5-8 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked but remains a tad crunchy.
Remove from heat.

Now, make the Mongolian beef: Heat the lard in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, tapioca powder and a pinch of salt and pepper to a glass measuring cup and whisk until well combined.
Pour that mixture in the pan with the onions and let it come to a boil. Continuously whisk until the mixture is thickened, about 2 minutes.
Dump the steak slices in the pan with the sauce. Cover and simmer the meat in the sauce for 4-5 minutes, or until no red meat is apparent.
When the meat is almost done, add the broccoli. Cook until heated through.

Delish. It was very, very good. A little salty, because of the soy sauce, and so I may take out the extra salt next time, but not enough of a problem to wreck the dish. I was surprised that it wasn’t too hot, because of the red pepper flakes, but it wasn’t. The meat was fork tender and very nicely flavored. We had enough for DH, Boobock and I, and enough for a really nice healthy meal for lunch on Friday. Some additions I thought of after the fact: bean sprouts, large rings of onion, sweet or jalapeño peppers (?) with the meat, peas and carrots in the cauliflower rice (after the whole 30 is over).

Here it is, before devouring.
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Also, a hint on finding a lid for a cast iron skillet. Use an upside down cast iron griddle pan! Works like a charm.
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Thank you, thehealthfoodie.com for the inspiration!

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No-Sugar Pear Mostarda

Scroll scroll scrolling through facebook today, I found an article by Such and Such Farms, a blog by a couple in Missouri that are trying their hand at organic farming and providing specialized fruits/vegetables/meat to high end restaurants around St. Louis. I find that so many blogs are based on the coast, and our climate is just so different than theirs (i.e., we have drying winds and drought while they are concerned about drainage) so when I find a more middle of the country blog, I try to follow them.

She mentioned that she had cooked rabbit with a cherry mostarda on the side. Cherry mostarda? What is that? Never heard of it. So, I started looking.

Mostarda di frutta (sometime also called only mostarda) is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup. Well, candied fruit is out, and so is any kind of syrup, cause I’m back on the Whole 30 diet, yo. But I do have a cabinet full of pears canned in water with no sugar. Surely I can find a use for those.

Googling around found me a couple recipes that had varying amounts of sugar, a few with sherry, a few with Apple Cider Vinegar, a few with bay leaves, other spices, some say to blend it up into a creamy condiment, some say eat the fruit in big chunks. I decided that I could try without the sugar, and ACV, and simple spices. Here is my version:

No-Sugar Pear Mostarda
1 pint Pears
1 tsp ground yellow mustard
1 tsp brown mustard seed
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Dump entire contents of pint into a sauce pan. Add both mustards, salt, pepper and vinegar. Simmer 20 minutes or so. I used a pastry cutter to cut it up into small chunks, but not a creamy consistency.
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OMG. I love it. I am eating it with a spoon. It will be great on the steaks coming off the grill in about 20 minutes. But a spoon is fine as well. No added sugar, but it is perfect for my taste buds. It was a shock to DH, but I think he is coming around. Oh well, if he doesn’t end up liking it, more for me!

I am thinking this could be canned in a water bath canner. Some extra spices, but 2T ACV to acidify it even more than the fruit itself does. Oh yeah, baby, I know where all the pears are going from now on. I did 14 quarts and 2 pints of pears this year…hope that is enough since I’ve found this recipe!