The most frequently asked question that I get is “how did I end up in the natural health industry?” This is a reasonable question since my previous business experiences have nothing to do with the natural and organic world. It’s actually a very easy question for me to answer. I suffered from an illness that the doctors and specialists could not diagnose or treat. I truly believed that is was possible that this illness could lead to my death. None of the symptoms made any sense to anyone. I turned to a friend that owns a wellness center in Palm Beach Florida for help. Within ten days of alternative treatments and a major change to a chemical free and vegetarian diet, I came home 90% well. Even my doctors were amazed at the transformation. From that day forward, the only thing I’ve wanted to do is help people avoid the health traps that I had fallen into. For me, this is my calling, the thing that I was born to do.
It’s hard for me to think back on those days without feeling overwhelmed and extremely grateful that I had the ability and resources to find the solution. As I was thinking about this experience today, I realized that there is another experience that I’ve wanted to share with you that specifically relates to our products. An amazing experience that I was able to witness first hand.
About three and a half years ago, my nephew Codye moved in with us. He was 20 years old at the time. He’s 6’2” tall and although he no doubt weighed more then he should have, he carried it well, mostly due to his height. After about 8 months or so, I realized that he truly was what many of us would refer to as a sickly child. I couldn’t figure it out what could be wrong with him because the symptoms varied. However, some were consistent such as he was always tired, congested and always had dark circles under his eyes even after sleeping 10-12 hours. I made recommendations such as taking supplements and getting his system into a more alkalized state. But I was always very busy and I make it a rule to allow people to make their own choices in life. I knew his diet was not good. He was eating a lot of fast food and whatever he could grab and eat on the go.
Approximately a year after Codye’s arrival, he was in an automobile accident and was suffering with severe back problems. I am a big fan of acupuncture and had been treated successfully several times myself. Prior to the “medical” route, I thought it would be best to at least try acupuncture first. I sent him to my acupuncturist Dr. Barbara Custer in Mill Valley California whom truly performed miracles on him. It was amazing. During his treatments, she also noticed the symptoms that I had noticed. She told him that she thinks he has a wheat allergy. WOW! How could it be that someone living under my roof had a wheat allergy that I didn’t diagnose?
Needless to say, we immediately removed any and all “modernized wheat” from his diet and started cooking for the entire family only using our spelt baked goods and flour. I would not allow him to change or remove any other food from his diet, so that we could know with certainty that he was dealing with a reaction to “modernized wheat.” Within 4 1/2 months he lost 60 pounds. Isn’t that amazing? I’ve never seen anything like it. He was eating grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, breadsticks, cookies and pasta all from our Heirloom Spelt and the weight just fell off of him. I’ve read testimonials like this, but to watch the transformation in his health and weight was incredible. Not only did he lose the extra weight, he radiates health. That was two years ago and he has kept the weight off.
This exact scenario is discussed in the book “Wheat Belly” written by William Davis, MD. He clearly discusses the differences between “modernized wheat” versus the wheat that our great grandparents ate. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. He clearly states what we’ve been saying for the last twenty years – Ancient Grains ROCK!
Our Heirloom Spelt grain is a protected variety and documented as “pure” spelt grain. It’s the REAL thing. In Europe, spelt is known as the weight loss grain and rightfully so.
Due to this experience, Codye and my son Nick have started their own business in the natural and organic industry. I am one proud Mom and Aunt. There are times when it’s hard to keep fighting a battle for something that you so strongly believe in and yet normally people are not overly receptive to the message until they or a loved one suffers with an illness. Being fortunate enough to watch people take control of their health, which in turn transforms their lives is beyond motivating. We realize that we aren’t just producing people’s daily bread, we are changing peoples lives. What could be more rewarding in life then that?
If you would like to pay it forward, share your testimonials with us and we will share them with others on our FB page. Please send them to Testimonials@BerlinNaturalBakery.com We love hearing your stories!
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Executive Director, Non GMO Project
Partner, Good Earth Natural Foods
On Thursday, Jan. 27th the USDA announced their decision to deregulate genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa. As much as it upset me, it really didn’t come as a huge surprise. I know the reality of how things work in our government. According to Food and Water Watch, biotech has spent more than half a billion dollars ($547 million) lobbying congress since 1999. Their lobby expenditures more than doubled during that time. In 2009 alone, they spent $71 Million. Last year they had more than 100 lobbying firms working for them, as well as their own in house lobbyists. Our industry can not compete with that.
Click The Link Below To Listen To The Interview With Megan and Mark Talk About The Recent Announcement and the Impact on our Industry (60 Minutes)
Thursday proved to be a walk in the park next to what Friday had in store. After reading an article written by Ronnie Cummins from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) “The Organic Elite Surrender to Monsanto, what now?”, I was left feeling completely defeated. I felt defeated because of the division that I knew this could potentially create amongst the organic and natural community. Reading the comments of people calling for a boycott of Whole Foods Markets, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms literally left me feeling helpless and disillusioned. A boycott of organizations that have been so dedicated and instrumental in protecting the interests of our entire community. How was this possible?
“A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand”
I love this industry. I love that what we do increases the overall well being of those we serve. I urge you to listen to this interview. The information shared by Megan and Mark will help to clarify the attacks made against these corporations and share how “UNITED” we can make a difference.
Why we joined the Non-GMO Project and what it means to you.
As most of you know by now, Berlin Natural Bakery products are Non-GMO Project “Verified”. We have heard from many of you over the past month asking what exactly “genetically modified” means and to please provide additional information. In this letter, it is my goal to give you a brief overview of what GMOs are and share with you why we are so passionately committed to producing products free from these types of ingredients.
As always we encourage you not just to take our word for it on any issue. The best way to determine what you believe is by doing your own research. The information below will explain why we believe this is the most important issue that our current food supply is facing, and hopefully illustrate to you why these specific types of ingredients could be even more dangerous for those suffering with food allergies.
Today it is estimated that over 80% of processed food found on your grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. When I first heard this statistic, I did not believe it and at the same time two specific questions came to mind.
Question #1 How is it possible for these ingredients to be in over 80% of our products without us having any knowledge of it or the potential dangers of these ingredients?
Question #2 Why isn’t this specific information listed on our food labels letting us as consumers know that GMO ingredients are in the products?
I know all of this may sound crazy but unfortunately the 80% GMO statistic is an undeniable fact. As you continue reading you’ll soon realize how this came to be.
After becoming Non-GMO Project Verified we Created This Video To Celebrate The Accomplishment
What is a GMO?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. This is a process that could not happen on its own in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods farmers have been using successfully and safely for hundreds of years.
For example, a gene from a Brazil nut was spliced into soybeans in an effort to increase the amino acids in the soybean which would create a more nutritious food for animals. The studies conducted by the biotech company on the soybean were done only on animals and they found the soybean to be safe. But thanks to the University of Nebraska’s findings, the production of this soybean was immediately halted. The University discovered that the soybean could induce potentially fatal allergic reactions in people that are sensitive to Brazil nuts. What Dr. Taylor at the University of Nebraska discovered prevented a potential public health disaster. This study also proves that allergens (proteins) are transferred in the process.
The U.S. Government’s position on the safety of genetically engineered crops relies on the findings from the biotech companies. If the biotech companies deem them as safe the U.S. government deems them as safe. This is the same philosophy that the U.S. government uses for off shore drilling. We all know how unreliable the safety measures were in the recent Gulf Coast oil spill. The biotech corporations are every bit as powerful as the oil corporations. The U.S. government does not believe that there is enough of a difference between GM crops and crops found in nature to be of concern.
I’m sure you will find it interesting that currently several of the most powerful positions in our government are being held by previous Monsanto employees. This includes a previous V.P./attorney to Monsanto who is now our newly appointed U.S. Food Safety Czar. He also is the same person that originally approved GM crops when he was in charge of the FDA.
The 3 greatest risks associated with GM foods are:
3) Antibiotic resistance
All three of these risks are important. But for today, we are going to focus on “allergens”.
No one would argue that food related allergies have been rising at epidemic proportions over the last ten to fifteen years. An allergic reaction to a specific type of food is the bodies overreaction to a protein that the immune system reads as foreign and dangerous. Isn’t it interesting that the huge rise in allergy related illnesses started happening at the same time these foods were introduced?
Does it not make sense that when you are injecting DNA (protein) from one species to another that a person could suddenly develop an allergic reaction from the newly created bioengineered food? Could these newly created foods also be introducing a whole new set of allergens? Could these new proteins create an allergic reaction because our bodies don’t recognize them and identify them as foreign? It makes all the sense in the world to me.
If you have a food related allergy, how do you know which foods are safe and which foods could have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous to your health?
The answer is simple…you don’t.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that 2% of adults and 8% of children are now suffering with some type of food allergy. According to the Consumer’s Union, medical polls show that 25% of American’s report that they or members of their family suffer from some type of food allergy or sensitivity.
More and more scientists are becoming concerned that new proteins spliced into genetically engineered foods could be allergenic. Dr. Rebecca Goldburg with the public interest group Environmental Defense states, “since genetic engineers mix genes from a wide variety of species, people who are allergic to one type of food may find that they are allergic to many more.” Proteins are what cause allergic reactions. Most all gene transfers in crops result in some protein production. New proteins will be found in crops from sources like peanuts, dairy and shellfish as well as from plants of all kinds, bacteria and viruses. The potential of these crops to create an allergic reaction is unknown.
If you want to avoid GMOs, eliminating these will greatly reduce your risk of exposure:
Beware of other sources that are processed versions of these foods:
*Oils from the above list of ingredients, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.
*Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals that have been fed GM feed. Most of the GM corn and soy grown is used for feed.
*Dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone)
*Food additives, enzymes, flavorings and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame and rennet used to make hard cheeses
*Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.
USDA Certified Organic does not guarantee GMO free:
When the certified organic laws were written, the standards included that they would be free of GMOs. Back then this was not a big issue because GM crops were just starting to be planted. Due to poor practices of ensuring seeds be kept separate, cross pollination and lack of government testing, today Certified Organic no longer is a guarantee that the products are GMO free.
All of my research over the last several years and going through the Non-GMO Verifying process has only created more of a desire inside of me to ensure that we have access to natural and organic foods free of GMOs. “We the people” have become the unsuspecting lab rats for the biotech companies and our government allows it. These corporations are masters at spinning their greedy motives into statements of “humanitarianisms” such as “we want to feed the world.” Yes, I am sure that they do want to feed the world. If they are successful in doing so, this would mean that our food supply (seeds) would all be owned by these biotech corporations. If you’ve seen the movie Food, Inc. you know how ruthless these corporations have acted in the past towards small independent farmers that are already seriously struggling to survive.
We realized from the beginning that taking a public stand against GMOs could lead to retaliation from various government agencies closely tied to these biotech companies. We announced our Non-GMO “Verified” status on Tues. October 4th, 2010 and on Tues. October 11th, 2010 we had a visit from the USDA to do an inspection for the FDA. The FDA had not visited our facility in over three years.
Is this just a coincidence?
Perhaps it is just a coincidence or perhaps the FDA is sending us a message that they are watching us. What harm could possibly come from us avoiding GMOs in our products? If twenty years down the road GMOs are tested and proven safe what harm have we caused by not allowing them in our products? Absolutely none! But what if twenty years down the road GMOs are tested and proven to create a whole host of health issues? What the outcome will be if that happens is that we have helped to secure sources of ingredients that will be safe and in their original state. If 80% of products on grocery store shelves contain GMOs and they are proven harmful down the road, we are in a lot of trouble.
We know that approximately 80% of our customers have at least one type and many have multiple allergies to foods. We take this very seriously and this is the #1 reason that we believe that labeling is an absolute necessity to ensure the health and well being of everyone. We believe it is no longer possible for manufacturers to make a non-gmo statement with total certainty unless there is a 3rd party “verifying” that claim.
The Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program (PVP) systematically provides for the evaluation of products, ingredients and manufacturing facilities to determine compliance with the Non-GMO Project standard. As North America’s only independent, third party verification program based on transparent, consensus-based standards, products that have been assessed through the PVP and found compliant are the best choice for consumers wishing to avoid GMOs.
When you see the Non-GMO Project “Verified” seal on packages, you should feel confident that they are in fact meeting the highest standards in the country to avoid GMOs. We could not be more proud to be part of this organization. We’ve always said, we do what’s right, even if it isn’t easy. Taking a stand and saying no to GMOs is not easy…but we most certainly believe that it is RIGHT!
As I stated in the beginning of this blog post we encourage you to do your own research on this issue and welcome your comments and concerns. nongmo[at]berlinnaturalbakery[dot]com.
*The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien – A MUST read if you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma, ADHD & autism.
*Seeds of Deception by Jeffery Smith
*Genetically Engineered Food: a Self Defense Guide for Consumers by
Ronnie Cummings, Ben Lilliston & Frances Moore Lappe
*The Future of Food
I constantly hear these same questions over and over and over again. I guess the fact that I own a bakery that produces products in the wheat alternative niche appears by some standards to make me a bit of an expert.
Unfortunately, I am not an expert when it comes to this dreaded condition. As far as I’m concerned, no one has really conquered the issue. I’ve never read an article or a research document that I thought “ghee, they finally figured it out…problem solved!” Instead I am left feeling quite the opposite. Every article I read just leads to more and more questions. It is so frustrating. I am sure you can all relate.
No one that knows me would argue the fact that I am a total research and information junkie. I have this never ending need to understand things and how they work together in the big picture. The thing that really bothers me about wheat related illnesses is that everyone is focusing on diagnosing and treatment. No doubt that’s hugely important. But I want to know more than how to diagnose it and treat it. I want to know what is causing it.
As far as testing for it goes, why is it so difficult? The last several months I’ve been hearing stories from people that are being tested positively for wheat allergies that have never even suffered any symptoms. What is that about? I believe it is being referred to as a false positive. Once you are finally properly diagnosed you have one option for treatment. Quit eating any foods that contain wheat. Oh, OK, that sounds easy enough…until you start reading ingredient labels. Now you realize that this is a much bigger problem then what you originally thought. For adults it’s tough enough, but for children it is downright heart breaking.
It’s very interesting to me that the diagnosis is always referred to in some way as “wheat” itself being the culprit. Even the new allergen labeling laws that were put into place to protect those with celiac disease from products that contain gluten, instead chose to have the words “contains wheat” on the label. Very interesting indeed.
Over the years the only real conclusion that I’ve been able to come up with and why this issue is so difficult…is because there are many contributing factors that must be taken into consideration. No doubt, avoiding any and all ”wheat” products solves all of them. It’s much easier to tell people to avoid wheat for life, then it is to try to educate them regarding the various growing, processing, storing, milling and baking techniques that could aggravate the condition…and perhaps even be the cause of it.
Over the next several weeks, I will be writing a series of articles that contain information that most companies don’t want you to know. Why? Because when you become educated you just might hold them to a higher standard.
These articles will be focusing on what I believe are the top contributing factors of the rapidly increasing food/wheat related illnesses and allergies America is facing.
What will make this series a bit unique is that they will be written from a manufacturers viewpoint. Initially the information was gathered while we were evaluating every step of production…from seed to sandwich. That was how it started…but it sure didn’t end there. Research and ongoing education are just a way of life for us now. Not just because we are manufacturers, but also because we are consumers…just like you.
Listed below are the articles that will be posted over the next several weeks.
1) Two slices of bread please: hold the bran and hold the germ. How we became a nation of white bread eaters.
2) What happens during the milling process of grains and how improper storage of grain and flour can negatively affect your health.
3) Genetically modified foods…what we don’t know, what we do know and why you need to care and get involved NOW.
4) Beware of additives, preservatives, chemicals, fads, trends and most importantly savvy marketing.
To ensure that you don’t miss any of these articles be sure to get blog updates by putting your e-mail address in the box in the top right corner of this blog and pushing the “Get Blog Updates” button. You will be sent each article as it is published from here on out after you confirm your subscription.
Also one more thing to share with you that will also help you…
In an effort to create a support group we have also set up a new page on Facebook called “Wheat Allergy Awareness“. We will post articles that are related to helping to improve the quality of peoples livesthat suffer from wheat related issues. We hope you become a fan and share your stories with the others in the group. The articles we post won’t just be our own and I’m sure some will be very controversial. We want all view points to be discussed freely. We believe that we can learn so much from you and hope you’ll take the time to join.
All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the authors, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. In addition, the information and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of every contributor of Berlin Natural Bakery. Berlin Natural Bakery acknowledges occasional differences in opinion and welcomes the exchange of different viewpoints. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.