Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankfulness and Winter Goddess on the Radio.

Hello everyone!   With the end of the Summer Market season and the advent of the Craft Show/Holiday season, Terry and I have been pretty busy balancing production, managing products, demos and direct sales, with my two surgeries, rest and rehab.  As challenging as this has been, we have seen it through without too much strain or pressure.  In the meantime, a number of wonderful occurrences have taken place, which have caused us to be very thankful for what we have.  We recognize that especially with the wrong mindset, it is very easy to lose what you have; even through no fault of your own.  This holds true not just for material belongings, but for relationships, family and our own health and well-being.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the living of life, that we forget to appreciate
what we already have.  And while there is certainly nothing wrong with desiring, buying and having nice things, when the pursuit of material gain becomes the be all and end all of living, this behavior results in being unappreciative and even ungrateful for what we have already been given.  Unfortunately the way our world has been heading nowadays, we have many (and even daily) examples of lives lived in an unthankful manner which leads to dissatisfaction, selfishness and ultimately needless suffering.

Living a life of thankfulness is not hard. It just requires a change in mindset. It is appreciating the things that we DO have, rather than focusing on all the things we DON'T have. Being thankful on a daily basis makes life happier and more fulfilling.

With Thanksgiving Day almost here, I'm offering you a friendly challenge.  Take a few minutes before your family gathering, holiday meal or football game, and think about all of the things you have to be thankful for.  You will be surprised at just how "rich" you are.

OK.  End of soapbox here.

Last Saturday morning, Terry and I had the privilege to be on AM 950's Wake Up Call show, talking to Laurie Beth Fitz (our host) about Winter Goddess Foods, our business philosophy, and about our newest good fortune; namely the addition of our newest wholesale partner Lakewinds Food Co-op, and the expansion to a second store for Oxendale's Market, another of our wholesale partners.  It was a lot of fun talking about our labor of love, and having the chance to discuss subjects that we are passionate about.  If you are interested in hearing the show in it's entirety, please click the link below and check us out!

Until next time, Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What has gone before

Blessings and hello everyone!  I am happy to be back again with the blog, and I wanted to let you know what's being happening with us over the last few months.  I apologize for the long absence, but it was necessary for a variety of reasons.  Without going into a lot of details, I was involved in a serious car accident in February where I suffered an multitude of injuries including a head trauma.  While the healing continues, I am happy to report that I am much better now, and have a better handle on what I need to do to emerge onto the other side of better health.  I appreciate everyone who has offered support and encouragement to me over the last nine months.  Your expression of love has truly been a gift to me.

Farmers Market

Terry and I have concluded the final weeks of Farmers Market season.  As always, we enjoy our time with the wonderful vendors and shoppers at both the Midtown Farmers Market, and our newest location, at the Prior Lake Farmers Market.  Not only has there been an increase in traffic at both locations, but with the increasing attention being paid to organic foods and sustainable living, there have been numerous opportunities for teaching and learning as well.   Being sensitive to our "Peeps," we are always open to new suggestions for products to benefit our customers.  As a result, this year we have added several new baked good selections tailored specifically to the Farmers Markets, including Terry's Cranberry/White Chocolate scones, and her delicious Organic Wild Rice Bread, made with Native American ceremonially harvested wild rice.  The bread in particular has been so popular that it disappears by the end of the first hour of the market day.  Since everything we make is made fresh, only a limited supply of it can be made currently.  As time resources become more available, we hope to one day be able to increase production enough to satisfy the demand for this wonderful product.

This year we have added our wonderful friend Mary Ellen as valued part of the
Winter Goddess family.  Her assistance at the market and elsewhere has been a great boon for our business, and to me personally.  I would have been hard pressed to get things done in my current condition without her hard work, dedication and valuable insight.  She is truly a blessing to our lives!

Business opportunities have opened our way as well, and we have added Fine Acres Market in St. Croix Falls WI. as our newest wholesale partner.  With our newest out of state addition, we have officially gone regional!

Minnesota State Fair

While many of you already know this, I believe it is worth repeating for our blog followers who have yet to receive the news.  Terry has scored her second ribbon from the Minnesota State Fair for her organic baked goods!  Last year she received the yellow ribbon (5th place) for her zucchini bread.  In August, she received a blue ribbon (First Place) for her oatmeal muffins.  I am extremely proud of her accomplishments, and she is very happy to receive this endorsement of her baking prowess.   As I have told her time and again, she has "mad skills."

I thank you all for your patience with me as I continue on the road to recovery.  I look forward to posting on this site on a more regular basis as the days go by.  Be well and be happy!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

A wonderful email from the great outdoors

Yesterday we received a wonderful email and photo from John Thomas Rose concerning our Tranquility Chai, which we'd like to share with you.



You may or may not remember me. I came by your stand at the farmers market a few weeks ago in Minneapolis. You sold me your Chai because "it was good for camping" and I was about to go on a backpacking trip in Northern California. So I bought it to put your word to the test and see if it was any good for camping.

I think you\'re wrong, it's not good at all, it's fantastic. The word "good" doesn't underscore how much it can add to a camping trip. Upon the first sip me and my buddy were totally swept up in the experience of being miles away from civilization while enjoying this delightful drink, a luxury on any occasion no doubt. Not to mention the earthy flavor of the chai really helped us connect with the environment. After a swim in the lake below a mountain the chai was blissful. I may sound like I'm being overly dramatic here but I want you to understand that your tea punctuated an amazing trip and was an unexpected surprise for my friend Ian.

You see, Ian is a Wilderness Forest Ranger stationed in Klamath National Forest right now. He maintains hundreds of miles of trails in the backcountry of California State Parks as well as trains people in forestry. He\'s quite the mountain man, and spends 5 days a week in the backcountry. So this was a refreshing change for a man who doesn't get to see coffee houses on a regular basis, and Ian loooooves his coffee and tea. After our trip I stuck what was left of your chai tea in his pack so he could have some for later. That's the other thing, there's a lot in that bag! We must've gotten 5 or 6 cups and still had some left over.

So I'm a photographer, and this was a photo adventure to a place called Trail Gulch Lake, CA. It was amazing and I really can't stress enough how much we liked your tea. I liked it so much that I took a picture of your tea in the wilderness...

Thanks again for getting me to pick up that chai. It was perfect for the trip.

John Rose

Terry and I are humbled, and so thankful that we can produce a product that brings enjoyment and a bit of happiness into people's lives.  Thank you John, for sharing your thoughts with us.

Nehemiah and Terry

Where do YOU enjoy Winter Goddess Foods' Tranquility Chai?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Vacation, sort of.

Hello everyone!

Things have been cooking pretty well for our business, (No pun intended) as Farmers Market time is in full gear, and there has been an increase in demand for our wonderful organic products.  Unfortunately with increasing demand by both our Farmers Market Peeps and our great wholesale partners, there must be increased production, which means less time devoted to other things.  In Lieu of that, I have decide to put the blog on hiatus through the summer.

Occasionally I will post links to stories of interest, or especially pertinent articles for your enjoyment.  Those post will be infrequent however.  But rest assured, we're not going away for good, and the blog will resume in its full glory in the Fall.  Until then, Happy Fourth of July, and enjoy the Summer!



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A little break, and Apple Cider Vinegar

Hello folks!  Due to several health issues I will be taking a little time off from the blog this week.  However, I have come across a great article regarding the health benefits of Apple cider vinegar which I found to be quite interesting and beneficial.    If you remember, I wrote a previous blog entry regarding the benefits of vinegar in general.  The article below is a bit more specific, and offers a more balanced and practical approach on incorporating apple cider vinegar in your own life.

Click here, and enjoy!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fresh? You know it instinctively

Today, I'm gonna get fresh with you!

No, not like that.  I mean fresh as in fresh produce.

Years before Terry and I started Winter Goddess Foods, and became more health conscious with our eating choices, I remembered one year where the produce at our local supermarket was terrible.  The cherries tasted rubbery, the apples were spongy, and melons had no flavor at all.  The vegetables weren't any better. Asparagus tasted woody, the potatoes all seemed to have bad spots permeating the entire spud, and carrots lacked snap and sweetness.

In short, the entire produce section sucked!

Unfortunately we found out quickly that this phenomenon was not limited to the
"prism colored" store where we normally shopped. 
Things were just as bad at the "baby animal" market across the street.  Bins of polished, uniform produce lined their shelves as well, but the selections didn't taste any better, no matter how many spritz of water they doused them with to make them appear fresh.  I remember asking Terry about it, who being a farm kid, tended to have more of a pulse on produce than I did.

"Baby, what's wrong with the fruit and the vegetables lately?"
"What do you mean?"
"They never seem to have any flavor to them anymore.  It's like someone sucked the soul right out of them."
"You're right.  I noticed that too..."

That was when Terry decided to introduce me to (and reacquaint herself with) the Farmers Market.  She dug out her old market basket in preparation, and that Saturday morning, we woke up early and made our way to the venue.  As we entered the grounds and walked past each grower's stall, the first thing that struck me was the fact that you could actually smell the fruits and vegetables!  While they didn't have quite the uniformity of the produce in the supermarket, they more than made up for it in taste from the offerings that they growers sampled to us.  I remember the salad she fixed for us that night, made from the items of our haul. There was no amalgamation of flavors here.  Instead with eat bite, the vegetables seemed to shout out their names as present in this culinary role call;  "Jicama here!" "Spinach present!" "Cucumber, yo!"  My taste buds noted each vegetable in turn, as I relished every bite.  I honestly could not remember ever having a salad that tasted so good.

In today's world of corporate farms and Big AG, it is unfortunate that the emphasis
on growing crops has turned to increasing their yield and uniformity, with taste being sacrificed on the altar of profit and greed.  To misdirect us from what's really happening, we are bombarded by slick ad campaigns telling us what we really want.  Commercials fill the air waves with perfect nuclear families of fresh faced children and wide eyed fathers, all impressed by the savvy and wisdom of the supermodel wife and mother who chooses a bag or box of name brand flash frozen fruits or vegetables because she wants to serve the best most "natural" food to her family.  

After beating this drum year after year, convenience foods have replaced what we used to know as real, while frozen fruits and vegetables have become the new "fresh" food. Bland flavor, and the mouth-feel of wet pulp and moist cardboard have become the standard for the new taste of fresh produce.

Gee, thanks mom.

Our eyes and ears might become mesmerized by Big Ag's Madison Avenue hype train, but thankfully our taste buds have not.   Fortunately, all it takes is a bite of a just picked apple, or newly harvested stalk of celery to cause reality to come flooding back to our minds through our mouths.  After all, once you have experienced it, how can you forget the crunch? The sweetness?  The juicy goodness that bursts through your lips and dribbles down the side of your chin like the fingertip caress of a loved one?  Imagine the aroma of strawberries that actually smell like strawberries, or melons that smell like melons.  These perceptions invoke and almost visceral response of rightness within the core of
our being.

I believe we inherently know how to select what is good for us.  We just need to retrain ourselves to lean on our own good judgment, and to put less stock in what the advertisers say.  When you rely on your senses to pick out the best fruit for example, you quickly learn that if you can't smell it, the quality is lacking and you should pass it up.

As Terry and I stepped up our own food education, we learned that there were far better places out there to shop for our produce needs besides the sterile big name supermarkets.   
In addition to the local Farmers Markets, Co-ops and Country Market stores have great selections of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Farm stores in rural areas can fill the bill as well.  

Heck, even the offerings from a roadside stand put chain store produce to shame.  Farm direct, local and organic fruits and vegetables just plain taste better.  Don't believe me?  Try it for yourself by doing your own taste test with a pint of organic strawberries and a pint of their supermarket counterparts.  Or use bananas.  I assure you, you will notice a big difference!

With summer upon us, this is the perfect time to break free from food in a box or bag, and experience once again what produce is meant to taste like.  While it might take a little effort to seek out these points of sale, the flavor and taste of the real deal are well worth it.  Summer is the perfect time to redefine our definition of what constitutes fresh and natural.  We wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a try.

Here's a little word of advice: "If food has to be advertised on TV to get you to buy it, it probably isn't worth eating."

Check out the video here on how advertisers try to manipulate our definition of the word "fresh."



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sunflower Seeds: Major League Nutrition

As I spend time doing research on healthy eating, I am as constantly amazed by the number of health benefits derived from foods, as I am of their sheer diversity and variety.  One of my favorites since the age of childhood is the humble Sunflower seed.  I clearly remember hanging out with the fellas, sitting in the shade on someone's stoop during the heat of the day while chomping on these bad boys during the dog days of summer.  As kids we didn't have much money back then, but they were the perfect inexpensive snack to get at the corner store with the small amount of cash we earned from cutting grass or doing odd jobs.   The stoop would become littered by mountains of shells that we thoughtlessly spit out as we turned our concerns to the usual things kids talked about, until we got caught by somebody's mother, and made to clean them up.  The salt ravaged our cheeks from the handfuls of sunflower seeds we poured into our mouths, until it was soothed away by copious amounts of ice cold root beer or a can of Tahitian Treat.   Ahhh, the memories!

The Sunflower has an interesting history. First domesticated in the Americas almost 5000 years ago, it was worshiped by the ancient Aztecs and Incas because of the flower's resemblance to the sun. Native American tribes ground or pounded the seeds into flour for cakes, mush or bread. There is evidence that they were the first to squeeze the oil from the seed, using the oil in making bread, for medicinal uses, and as a treatment for skin and hair.

Spanish explorers in 1510 brought Sunflower plants back home where they eventually spread throughout Europe and to the world at large, eventually become an important staple crop to many countries, including Hungary, Turkey and China.  In 2012, over 37 metric tons of Sunflower seeds were produced throughout the world.  Interestingly enough, the largest amounts were produced in the former Soviet Union, with Ukraine and Russia producing 8.39 and 7.99 metric tons respectively.  Back in the 18th Century, due to the fasting requirements of Russian Orthodoxy, Sunflower oil was one of the few oils that are permitted to be used during Lent, which increased its popularity and importance.  It had become so important in fact, that over time, Ukraine has made the Sunflower its national flower.

The simple beauty of the flower itself led to become a subject for many artists including Vandyke and Van Gogh.  Here in the United States, where the sunflower is grown predominantly in the Midwest, it has become the ubiquitous symbol of idyllic country life, and natural living.  Kansas has even adopted it as its state flower.

Clustered within the "heart" of the actual sunflower itself, sunflower seeds are not seeds in the traditional sense but rather the fruit of the plant, with the core nestled within a hard outer hull called an achene.  The edible part inside is referred to as the kernel or "nut."  Sunflower seeds are commercially divided according to color, with the all black or "black oil" seeds pressed to make sunflower oil, and the striped seeds or "confectionery seeds" used for food products.  Both types are a main source of polyunsaturated oil.

While people in this country enjoyed sunflower seeds as a snack, its popularity soared in 1968 when baseball legend Reggie Jackson began eating them in the dugout during games.  Players began to use them as a healthy alternative to chewing tobacco which was becoming a more distasteful part of the baseball tradition.  College and Little league players emulating their favorite major league stars, took to chewing on them as well, and the rest is history.  Today sunflower seeds are almost synonymous with the game of baseball itself.

Though some people view sunflower seeds as either "bird food" or the feed doled out to domesticated rodents, they are pound for pound one of the healthiest and most satisfying foods you can eat.    Available year round, just a handful of these little powerhouses can satisfy your hunger and provide the body with important nutrients at the same time. Sunflower oil not only offers a healthier alternative to typical vegetable oils, but is also used in the cosmetic industry. and as a carrier oil for massage, due to its beneficial properties on the skin.  After the oil is processed, the remaining protein rich "cake" is used in livestock feed.

As seen in the table below, just a quarter cup or less than a handful of sunflower seeds is packed with vitamins, providing the body with much needed nutrition and support.  In addition to being a great source of dietary fiber, Sunflower seeds sport high levels of protein, amino acids and minerals.

Here are some nutritional stats on the nutritional value of 0.25 cup (35 grams) of sunflower seeds:
  • Calories:  204 calories.
The also contain the following based on Daily Recommended Intake:
  • Vitamin E = 82%
  • Copper = 70%
  • Vitamin B1 = 43.3%
  • Manganese = 34%
  • Slenium = 33.7%
  • Phosphorus = 33%
  • Magnesium = 28.4%
  • Vitamin B6 = 27.6%
  • Folate = 19.8%
  • Vitamin B3 = 18.2%
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, and coupled with the seed's high phytosterol content assist in lowering bad cholesterol and heightening immune system response.

Sunflower seeds are also a good source of copper which helps the body produce melanin, a pigment protein that helps give your skin and hair their color. Melanin molecules absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting you from tissue damage as a result of sun exposure. Copper also supports your metabolism to help your cells produce energy.

Sunflower seeds provide the body with much needed magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Magnesium is also necessary for healthy bones and energy production...and the list goes on and on.

Another good thing to know is that sunflowers are considered to be "weeds" by grain and produce farmers. Because of this and the high proliferation of wild sunflowers, genetic engineering of sunflowers is considered unprofitable by private bio-engineering companies. No GMO's make enjoying the fruits of the sunflower worry free!

Sunflower seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of ways besides eating them right out of the bag. You can add them to your favorite tuna, chicken or turkey salad recipe, use them as a garnish in a mixed green salad, you can add them to dough to make a hearty bread, or sprinkle them onto hot and cold cereals.  The possibilities are endless.  As a personal suggestion, I highly recommend that you try making popcorn with sunflower oil.  It adds a light nutty flavor that is oh, so good!

Do your body a favor and reach for the snack that is a "hit" with health conscious folks and ball players around the world.  Help keep your body "safe" and knock hunger and bad cholesterol right out of the park.  Sunflower seeds are truly Major League Nutrition!

More more information on anything and everything regarding the sunflower, please click the link here  and be enlightened.



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Great info

Hey folks!  In my quest to continue my own education regarding food, what serves the body well, and what does not, I have come across another informative article (with links) that I thought you would appreciate.  There is a dietary school of thought out there called Paleo which revolves around eating the foods that our ancestors ate back in antiquity.  It is a simple approach to eating which eliminates all processed food, additives and artificial ingredients.  The premise behind this approach is very appealing to us here at Winter Goddess Foods, and seems to be quite sound.  However, human beings, because of who we are, have a tendency to complicate the simple by developing an ideology behind it.  As a result we prefer and promote a rigid standard and impose it on others, and promote it as the right/best/proper way to live.  Food is no different.  (I look forward to addressing the topic of food, ideology and "Nutriligion" in a future article.)

Depending on ideology, the Paleo eliminates foods that can be very beneficial for the vast majority of people who attempt to live by it.  The article below attempts to establish that moderation and gearing towards what each individual needs is actually the better way to go. Besides, why should good tasting and beneficial foods be eliminated?  Check out the link right here for the skinny!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"What a mind job!"

While doing a little online research, I came across an article that just blew my mind.  With all the questions about what foods are good for us, and what foods are bad, the findings in this article are a clarion call about how much we are lied to when it comes to the food we eat and feed our children.  This article by Nina Teicholz who has written a book on the subject, talks about the fact that after many years of misinformation fed to us by the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Heart Association regarding saturated fats causing heart disease, a recent study study concluded that this is not true.  How could this be?  This seems to be contrary to the basic tenets of dietary science, and everything we have been taught almost since birth.  This article reminded me of quote from the movie The Matrix.  Cypher tells Neo, "What a mind job!"  Continue on, dear reader, and get your mind blown just like I did.



"Saturated fat does not cause heart disease"—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study's conclusion shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.

This idea fell on receptive ears because, at the time, Americans faced a fast-growing epidemic. Heart disease, a rarity only three decades earlier, had quickly become the nation's No. 1 killer. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955. Researchers were desperate for answers.

As the director of the largest nutrition study to date, Dr. Keys was in an excellent position to promote his idea. The "Seven Countries" study that he conducted on nearly 13,000 men in the U.S., Japan and Europe ostensibly demonstrated that heart disease wasn't the inevitable result of aging but could be linked to poor nutrition.

Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study. For one, he didn't choose countries randomly but instead selected only those likely to prove his beliefs, including Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. Excluded were France, land of the famously healthy omelet eater, as well as other countries where people consumed a lot of fat yet didn't suffer from high rates of heart disease, such as Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany. The study's star subjects—upon whom much of our current understanding of the Mediterranean diet is based—were peasants from Crete, islanders who tilled their fields well into old age and who appeared to eat very little meat or cheese.

As it turns out, Dr. Keys visited Crete during an unrepresentative period of extreme hardship after World War II. Furthermore, he made the mistake of measuring the islanders' diet partly during Lent, when they were forgoing meat and cheese. Dr. Keys therefore undercounted their consumption of saturated fat. Also, due to problems with the surveys, he ended up relying on data from just a few dozen men—far from the representative sample of 655 that he had initially selected. These flaws weren't revealed until much later, in a 2002 paper by scientists investigating the work on Crete—but by then, the misimpression left by his erroneous data had become international dogma.

In 1961, Dr. Keys sealed saturated fat's fate by landing a position on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, whose dietary guidelines are considered the gold standard. Although the committee had originally been skeptical of his hypothesis, it issued, in that year, the country's first-ever guidelines targeting saturated fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture followed in 1980.

Other studies ensued. A half-dozen large, important trials pitted a diet high in vegetable oil—usually corn or soybean, but not olive oil—against one with more animal fats. But these trials, mainly from the 1970s, also had serious methodological problems. Some didn't control for smoking, for instance, or allowed men to wander in and out of the research group over the course of the experiment. The results were unreliable at best.

But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys's hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys's diet for the entire nation, the question wasn't whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? "None can be identified," he said.

In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet's potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass.

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970's. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we're eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn't make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.

The second big unintended consequence of our shift away from animal fats is that we're now consuming more vegetable oils. Butter and lard had long been staples of the American pantry until Crisco, introduced in 1911, became the first vegetable-based fat to win wide acceptance in U.S. kitchens. Then came margarines made from vegetable oil and then just plain vegetable oil in bottles.
All of these got a boost from the American Heart Association—which Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crisco oil, coincidentally helped launch as a national organization. In 1948, P&G made the AHA the beneficiary of the popular 
"Walking Man" radio contest, which the company sponsored. The show raised $1.7 million for the group and transformed it (according to the AHA's official history) from a small, underfunded professional society into the powerhouse that it remains today.

After the AHA advised the public to eat less saturated fat and switch to vegetable oils for a "healthy heart" in 1961, Americans changed their diets. Now these oils represent 7% to 8% of all calories in our diet, up from nearly zero in 1900, the biggest increase in consumption of any type of food over the past century.

This shift seemed like a good idea at the time, but it brought many potential health problems in its wake. In those early clinical trials, people on diets high in vegetable oil were found to suffer higher rates not only of cancer but also of gallstones. And, strikingly, they were more likely to die from violent accidents and suicides. Alarmed by these findings, the National Institutes of Health convened researchers several times in the early 1980s to try to explain these "side effects," but they couldn't. (Experts now speculate that certain psychological problems might be related to changes in brain chemistry caused by diet, such as fatty-acid imbalances or the depletion of cholesterol.)

We've also known since the 1940's that when heated, vegetable oils create oxidation products that, in experiments on animals, lead to cirrhosis of the liver and early death. For these reasons, some mid-century chemists warned against the consumption of these oils, but their concerns were allayed by a chemical fix: Oils could be rendered more stable through a process called hydrogenation, which used
a catalyst to turn them from oils into solids.

From the 1950's on, these hardened oils became the backbone of the entire food industry, used in cakes, cookies, chips, breads, frosting, fillings, and frozen and fried food. Unfortunately, hydrogenation also produced trans fats, which since the 1970's have been suspected of interfering with basic cellular functioning and were recently condemned by the Food and Drug Administration for their ability to raise our levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Yet paradoxically, the drive to get rid of trans fats has led some restaurants and food manufacturers to return to using regular liquid oils—with the same long-standing oxidation problems. These dangers are especially acute in restaurant fryers, where the oils are heated to high temperatures over long periods.
The past decade of research on these oxidation products has produced a sizable body of evidence showing their dramatic inflammatory and oxidative effects, which implicates them in heart disease and other illnesses such as Alzheimer's. Other newly discovered potential toxins in vegetable oils, called monochloropropane diols and glycidol esters, are now causing concern among health authorities in Europe.  In short, the track record of vegetable oils is highly worrisome—and not remotely what Americans bargained for when they gave up butter and lard.

Cutting back on saturated fat has had especially harmful consequences for women, who, due to hormonal differences, contract heart disease later in life and in a way that is distinct from men. If anything, high total cholesterol levels in women over 50 were found early on to be associated with longer life. This counter-intuitive result was first discovered by the famous Framingham study on heart-disease risk factors in 1971 and has since been confirmed by other research.

Since women under 50 rarely get heart disease, the implication is that women of all ages have been worrying about their cholesterol levels needlessly. Yet the Framingham study's findings on women were omitted from the study's conclusions. And less than a decade later, government health officials pushed their advice about fat and cholesterol on all Americans over age 2—based exclusively on data from middle-aged men.

Sticking to these guidelines has meant ignoring growing evidence that women on diets low in saturated fat actually increase their risk of having a heart attack. The "good" HDL cholesterol drops precipitously for women on this diet (it drops for men too, but less so). The sad irony is that women have been especially rigorous about ramping up on their fruits, vegetables and grains, but they now suffer from higher obesity rates than men, and their death rates from heart disease have reached parity.

Seeing the U.S. population grow sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position. Recently, the response of many researchers has been to blame "Big Food" for bombarding Americans with sugar-laden products. No doubt these are bad for us, but it is also fair to say that the food industry has simply been responding to the dietary guidelines issued by the AHA and USDA, which have encouraged high-carbohydrate diets and until quite recently said next to nothing about the need to limit sugar.  Indeed, up until 1999, the AHA was still advising Americans to reach for "soft drinks," and in 2001, the group was still recommending snacks of "gum-drops" and "hard candies made primarily with sugar" to avoid fatty foods.

Our half-century effort to cut back on the consumption of meat, eggs and whole-fat dairy has a tragic quality. More than a billion dollars have been spent trying to prove Ancel Keys's hypothesis, but evidence of its benefits has never been produced. It is time to put the saturated-fat hypothesis to bed and to move on to test other possible culprits for our nation's health woes.

Ms. Teicholz has been researching dietary fat and disease for nearly a decade. Her book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," is published by Simon & Schuster.  For more information, click here.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My aching head!

Hello folks!  Due to health care concerns, I will not have my normal article this week.  However, I came across an article last week and I want to share the link with you.  One of the issues I am going through relates to a severe headache, and after seeing this article, I plan on using a number of the methods to beat it naturally.  If you are having issues with headaches, or know someone who does, and is interested in taking a natural approach, I invite you to click the link below.

Till next time,



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Featured Wholesale Partner: Oxendale's Market

We are beginning a new series on our blog, where every so often we will be highlighting one of our valued "Wholesale Partners" who feature Winter Goddess Foods products in their store or shop.  We are proud to introduce these wonderful folks who support our business, and provide you with a little insight about the way they operate within our world.


No doubt you have heard the phrase "Local boy makes good."  While this is largely known as an American expression, everyone around the world can relate to it, and can point to someone in their community who has come up from humble beginnings to make a difference in their own  neighborhood.  Neil Oxendale is one such person.

Nestled within the quiet Nokomis neighborhood sits what the local folks refer to as "the best kept secret of South Minneapolis."  At first glance, Oxendale's Market may look a bit like your typical neighborhood supermarket, but there is definitely more here than meets the eye.  Oxendale's is a full service market that lacks the "big box" feel.  The idea behind it is very much intentional, in that this store reflects Neil's vision of a grocery that is responsive to the desires and needs of the people who shop there.

Neil Oxendale
"You cannot set up shop in a place and then tell people, 'this is what we are offering you, take it or leave it.'  You ask your people, 'what is it you want?'  Then you listen to what they have to say."

This idea of being receptive to the needs of customers has been a part of this quiet, unassuming man's mindset from a young age, when he began working at this same location at age fifteen.  Things were a lot different back then, when the store that existed there was run strictly for immediate profit, and was not a nice place to shop.  Neil started working for them in the produce department, and eventually rose to the night manager position.  At that time, customers would come to him with suggestions of products that they could carry, or even improvements to the store itself.  Unfortunately when he passed the suggestions on to the owners, they fell upon deaf ears.  Eventually the store fell into disarray, and finally closed its doors.

In 2007, after scrimping, saving and much sacrifice, Neil Oxendale purchased his former place of employment, with a mind to develop a market that actually served the community and made food shopping a pleasure.  It was an uphill battle during the first four years, and things weren't always easy.  During the economic downturn, Neil brought in his family to help, which turned into the first of his two great  moves.  Not only did the store survive, but it began to thrive.  His second great move was his discovery and decision to carry locally made products in the store.

Initially Neil carried all of the typical name brand items that every grocery store was supposed to carry, but he was looking for something more to offer his customers.  He attended the requisite food shows geared to buyers like himself, but found them to be boring and uninspiring.  Then one day he attended a show and met Brian Ames, a local honey producer, and everything changed.  Ames informed him about Co-op Partners, a distributor of local organic produce and products, and Neil discovered a whole new world.

"I found out that there was this whole new subculture, local producers who were not only in business for themselves, but who actually cared about their products and the people who bought them, and passionate when talking about them.  It was that enthusiasm which struck a chord in me."

After his fateful meeting with Ames, Neil Oxendale began to seek out more and more local producers, and incorporated their products on his shelves.  Initially there was a little resistance from some of his customers when things at the store began to change.  He would hear cries of, "I don't want that organic stuff.  You don't know what they put in it!" The irony that the fresher local organic products that he was bringing into the market were far better than the products he currently held on the shelves isn't lost on him.  So in his own quiet bit of food activism, Neil used a strategy of "equal placement" while stocking his shelves, by placing a local or organic product next to an established name brand, to give his customers a choice in what they can buy.

Neil saw a trend developing where people are beginning to ask questions about

the food they eat, and demanding better, fresher products for their family. So little by little, he began to slowly educate his patrons on the benefits of local and organic products, by inviting the local producers to the store to sample and talk about what makes their products so good.  Because of his growing belief that supporting local was the right thing to do, he began incorporating the products of more and more local vendors into his store, until rather than having to seek them out, these producers began to come to him.

He spoke about why he prefers small producers over large food corporations.

"Seven years ago, I was given a chance," he says.  "I want to do the same for others.  My focus is on having all the local guys in my store.  There are a lot of good local products out there that need to be brought out into the forefront.  In my view, I would much rather take a chance on an independent who has a bit of a following."

Nokomis Block Party, 2013

In another effort to give back to the community, Neil Oxendale partnered up five years ago with the pastor of a local church, to revive the old Nokomis Days tradition, by hosting the Nokomis Block Party; a neighborhood celebration of community, music, food and fun held on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  The sounds of local musicians and the aroma of cooking from the food trucks fill the air, as local artists, and artisans display their crafts and products for all to see.  In an effort to help his producers gain more exposure, Neil invites local vendors with products in the store to set up a booth, and sell their goods during the event at no charge.  Proceeds from the event gained from their annual corn roast, and other activities, support the Lake Nokomis Community fund, which in turn helps local schools and the local PTA.

This giving back mindset has really paid off as more and more people are shopping at Oxendale's, looking specifically for local and organic products that are available right in the neighborhood.  Through word of mouth, the word is spreading to folks not only in South Minneapolis, but to the Twin Cities Metro as well.  Pretty good for a guy who was stocking shelves as a fifteen year old.

"Local boy makes good" sums it up quite nicely!

Ray, Adam, and Neil Oxendale

Oxendale's Market is located at:
5025 S 34th Ave, in South Minneapolis.  
Their phone number is (612) 724-4474.  

You can also find them on their website at and on Facebook.
More information about the Nokomis Block Party can be found here.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Prior Lake Farmers Market. Good vibes abound!

During the long cold winter, Terry and I had the privilege of being vendors at the Prior Lake Winter Market.  This new endeavor provided local residents with an opportunity to experience the summer Farmers Market feel on a smaller, more intimate scale.  Winter Goddess Foods was so well received by the community and the vendors that we were invited to be a part of this year's summer market as well.  While this is a major undertaking for our small company, forcing us to divide our resources, the positive energy and good vibes exhibited by the community make it well worth it.  So as of next weekend, Winter Goddess Foods will be featured at two farmers markets!

Allow me to bring you a little insight on this flourishing, and vital market.

It began 13 years ago with a woman with a vision. Her dream was to have a market with a primary focus on vendors who not only offer organic and high quality products, but have care and concern about what they bring to the marketplace.  Karla Haugen, a veteran vendor of farmers markets and indoor shows all around the Twin Cities Metro made a fateful decision, "We need this in Prior Lake."

With that vision, the Prior Lake Farmers Market was born.

She began by seeking out and recruiting 12 of the best vendors she had worked with in the past.  She was able to procure a small place to hold the market; the parking lot of the old Brewberry Coffee Shop. She and the other vendors set up shop and waited for the traffic to begin.  She never dreamed that the response from the residence would be so high that the local police had to come to the site and direct traffic.

After the initial success, she took a grassroots approach to grow this new market, even recruiting her own children to pass out fliers and go door to door to let everyone know that Prior Lake now had a new market to call their own.  As interest grew, Karla continued to add more and more vendors who were of like mind.  People who bring a good feeling and a positive exchange of energy.

"This is not about people focusing on making money," says Karla.  "This is about community coming together."

And indeed the Prior Lake community has come together in support of this wonderful market.  Now in its 13th year, the Prior Lake Farmers Market has become the place to be, not only for the locals, but for folks all over the Twin Cities as well.  Through Karla's drive, persistence and hard work, the market has become part of the local Chamber of Commerce, and enjoys the support of local business, including the Downtown Business Association.  Responding to the request of local members of the community, the market has added more producers of fresh produce into its lineup of vendors, as well as new vendors with unique product offerings. But make no mistake, the market in not interested in becoming over large for the sake of growth, but rather, it strives to give residents the best that can be offered.

"I'm more interested in quality than quantity," Karla pointed out.  "And great positive energy."

In addition to fresh plants, flowers, food and product merchants, the Prior Lake Farmers Market also features visiting artists from many disciplines displaying everything from pottery and iron work to woven crafts and literary authors.  The strains of a variety of music will fill the air as musicians weave their magic to catch the ears of market attendees.  A welcoming atmosphere will again fill Main Street as neighbors and strangers come together to enjoy this signal of the return of Spring.

A unique aspect of this market, is what's called the "Market Basket," where donations of products and money are collected from vendors and shoppers, and delivered to residents of the community in times of need.  The market has sponsored families who have suffered a job loss, folks who are struggling with a debilitating disease, residents who are hospitalized, or those going through the trauma of the death of a loved one.  This care and concern for others is readily evident in the attitude of market participants.

Karla reflects, "Our Farmers market is really in line with how I want the world to be.  A place where good, healthy food is readily available, and where people come together and treat each other right."

How can anyone say no to that?

This year, the market has started an email list, where subscribers can get information on market happenings, as well as take advantage of vendor specials offered to insiders only.  Sign up information can be found on their website.

The market begins this Saturday, May 10th and runs through October.  The hours are from 8 am to noon each Saturday, and it is located in downtown Prior Lake on Main Street, just off Highway 13 and County Road 21.  If you're searching for a great place to hang out and shop, I highly recommend that you come on down, grab a cup of coffee or chai, and enjoy this great feel-good market.