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You cannot fake blueberries or can you?

Just got this in from Natural News:  Mike Adams, an investigative journalist exposed the deceptive chemical ingredients and dishonest marketing of “blueberry” products from very well-known brands of food and cereal companies.  It turns out companies are faking blueberries in cereals, muffins, bagels and other food products!  Can you believe this?!  And I’m not only talking about those generic brands that no one knows about or even heard of; this is hands down big companies like General Mills which makes the Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal, which does not have even a drop of anything that has to do with a real blueberry or pomegranate.  What it does have mimicking the blueberries is artificial colors red #40, blue #2, other artificial colors, and sucralose (an artificial sweetener).  

Other deceivers include Kellogg’s Blueberry Pop Tarts and Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats,

Betty Crocker‘s Fiber One Blueberry muffin mix, and Special K Blueberry Fruit Crisps for which they actually state on their website that they “are filled with blueberries…”!

To my pleasant surprise Fox News was the first news outlet to actually cover this story.   When they contacted Kellogg’s, the company said that “the term ‘Blueberry Muffin’ is used to describe the flavor of some products” and their “products are labeled in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.”  Sad isn’t it, that consumers cannot rely on every piece of information on a food product they buy?

The law firm of Finkenstein Thompson LLP began an investigation into this issue and now calls on anyone who purchased a product marketed as if it had real blueberries even though it did not to contact them (See the contact information below).

So what can we do to combat this issue?

(1) For those of you who already don’t, please please PLEASE get into the habit of reading the ingredients on all food items!  This is essential as more and more companies lobby our government officials who then choose what and how to regulate.

(2) Boycott the companies who practice this kind of labeling.  My husband always laughs at me when I tell him that I will not purchase something from a store or a certain brand that does not reach my expectations, since “one person cannot change anything”; but I don’t care.  As the internet and truth becomes more and more available to all people, we can all have the luxury to support one product over another based on its qualities.  If a piece of negative information on some product has merit and each informed person boycotts that brand, then trust me, it WILL make a difference.  Plus, it is also a matter of principle.

(3) Contact the Finkenstein Thompson LLP law firm that I mentioned above by calling (877) 800-1450 or email them at contact@finkelsteinthompson.com and let them know about your concerns.

(4) Finally, you can contact Food and Drug Administration directly and demand for the regulations to be changed.  Make sure you sound rational and thoughtful to make your message heard.  Here is where you can find out all the information on how to attempt to influence a regulation.

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When I read about this issue, I was appalled.  Can you believe that companies actually fake blueberries?  I thought that the awareness that the GMO battle and the revelation on organic apples brought would somehow push the companies to be a bit more trustworthy.  Boy, was I wrong!  So don’t stop your awareness, be more mindful!

wikipedia.org

In the meantime, here is my favorite blueberry pie recipe that I want to recommend to you; we make it every summer after collecting a few buckets of blueberries on a farm.  

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Hello wonderful people!

This is just a quick post about an amazing mushroom festival that will be happening in Baltimore, MD in October this year.  Specifically, it is an educational two-day festival exploring the Mushroom as an organism, focusing on it’s impact on our environment, culture, art, and technology.  The art part is what really makes me curious (well, now that I think about it everything about mushrooms makes me curious, but art is pretty up there!).  They will have sculptures, paintings, films, performances, and music inspired by mushrooms with hands-on workshops and educational discussions.

Ahh, these are the type of events that really make my day!  I hope to see you there; let me know if you will be going.  I’ll try to do a little photo recap of the wonderful things that happen at the festival, so stay tuned!

What:   Mushroom City Art Festival

When:  October 6th & 7th
12-7 Saturday, Party 8-12:30
1-5 Sunday

Where:  3510 Ash Street
Baltimore, MD 21211

Why:     Because humans are more genetically related to mushrooms than they are to plants. Ha!

Also, everyone has an opportunity to submit art and although the deadline is September 1, you can still whip something up.

Finally, how can I leave without showing you a few wonderful mushroom moments..?

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Angie Scarr

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Jim Ehle

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Linda

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Svetlana Serdyukova

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carlfbagge

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Helen

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Yury Popov

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about a necklace

I’m working on a big topic now for this blog, which is taking me longer than I thought.  I recently read somewhere that great ideas and insights usually come late at night when you release your concentration and let your mind sink into total ambivalence.  The logic to this is that when you let go and reevaluate, you start looking at a problem “outside the box”.  The step essential in this process is letting go.

Sometimes it’s difficult to let go.  As humans, we instinctively prefer familiar rather than strange because the latter suggests danger, whether it’d be emotional or physical; we like to predict the future.  And this instinct for familiarity is contradictory to personal evolution – how can a person grow without taking chances and being impulsive?  I once heard a story on RadioLab about a man who had a brain tumor removed, inadvertently causing him to lose his ability to make impulsive decisions.  This condition ultimately caused him to spend hours in a supermarket trying to decide which cereal to buy.  My point is that impulsion does wonders in small doses.  Just think about it, you primarily make rational decisions in your life by eating, going to work, crossing the road on a green light, watering your plants, servicing your car, etc, etc.  But sometimes we only lack the smallest raindrop of courage that can change our whole life.  Courage is evolution.

I had a big epiphany a few months ago, when my husband and I visited a bonsai tree farm.  The owner of the farm was a quiet man in his sixties who was an enlightened artist and a bonsai lover.  He inherited many of his trees from old friends and he exulted at the ages of his favorite specimens.  Our stop at his farm was totally impromptu and we were walking around it a few minutes before Jay came out of his house and greeted us with a warm and content smile.  He patiently began touring us around his garden, showing his prized possessions.  I really wanted to buy a tree as a souvenir of our impulsive and rewarding decision to turn around into the parking lot that plainly said “Bonsai Trees”.  As we were walking around the garden, we stopped by a miniature ivy and I knew she was the one.  Her stem curled into a 7 and she had the tiniest little leaves that followed the branches like paws.  And then Jay told me something that really made me reevaluate everything that I know; he told me that the secret of a bonsai is training.  So aside from manipulating the branches to form pleasant shapes, a grower must also train the leaves.  This is done by cutting those that grow too big and leaving the tiny ones.  That way after a few years of discipline, the bonsai tree will only grow small leaves.  He concluded by saying that although some house plants love the sun, many of them die when taken out of the house for the first time after winter.  This is because their leaves are very tender from the sunless room it lived in during the winter and they need time to adapt to direct sunlight; they should be taken out gradually with shade first, direct sunlight last.  I was in awe.  I never knew that plants adapted to their surroundings, just like people.  I realized also that a person can be trained to do anything, just like the plants.  There is a Russian tradition called “zakalyanie”, which means to gradually train the body, whether it is become insensitive to germs or to function in cold temperatures.  The latter is more exciting though – people train by running naked in the snow and swimming in ice-cold water.  This helps a person not be sensitive to cold winters and remain in good health throughout the year.  So People, get out there, train yourself to do something that you thought was impossible.  It is possible.  Everything is.

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I was going to write about one idea, but ended up with a whole necklace!  Speaking of necklaces, during my “letting it go” time, I finally completed a forgotten project of mine.  I made this wonderful crocheted necklace  from two very thin strands of cotton thread and, of course, a little bit of love.

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My first garden

I have been planning to grow herbs and berries all year now.  I even ordered a gooseberry bush last autumn and because the growers don’t want you to ruin the plant on your first planting, ahem!, they send it to you at the time designated for that plant to be planted.  Whew!  That was a lot of “plant” in one sentence!  Well, my peppers arrived a while ago and were just hanging on a pin, waiting for the right time to be seeded, while my gooseberry bush only arrived today!  I took that as a sign to begin gardening on the balcony.

Since this is my first time seeding the herbs, I decided not to waste a ton of money on potting supplies.  I made this box out of a cardboard box for cloth diapers and used the extras to make the dividers for each type of seed that I will be planting.  So far, I have many free squares, so as I buy more seeds I will eventually fill all of them up.

Then I planted the rooted branch from the gooseberry bush that I received today.  I forgot how the plant itself is very thorny, so I ended up with a few pricks and scratches.  But in the end, it was quite beautiful!  Even my dog, Benya, liked it 🙂

At last, I used the leftover organic fertilizer to water my plants that needed a little “pick-me-up” from the dry, sunless, winter that exists in my house.  But don’t worry, they are now fully revived!

And this is a jasmine tree that my husband and I received as a wedding present.  It smells great in the summer, but in the winter it becomes pretty sad.  I was happy to give it some life 🙂

Well, it turned out to be a very productive day considering my due date has passed.  It was a great way to keep my mind off of it…