Real Food

The Love of Chocolate

Excerpt from Our Journey with Food ©2015, 2018
Revised 2/2021


By Tammera Karr PhD

The cacao tree, aptly named Theobroma cacao, by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. The cacao tree only grows within twenty degrees of the equator in the tropics’ damp conditions. Once mature, the tree will produce small, white flowers that can only be pollinated by midges, a fly no larger than a pencil’s tip. When cacao pods are mature, they are harvested by hand using a machete. Each pod is broken open to expose the beans and white pulp and collected into a pile. The beans and pulp remain outside in the heat and high humidity to undergo fermentation.


What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs with microorganisms. Bacteria and yeast thrive in hot, moist climates, and the cacao pulp is an excellent nutrient source. In this case, the bacteria and yeast are needed to produce the precursor compounds necessary for chocolate’s characteristic flavor and aroma. Bacteria do this by eating some of the sugar and acid content, converting it into other molecules. Fermentation typically lasts for about a week. Once fermentation is complete, the farmers will separate the beans from the pulp, used as a nutrient source during fermentation. Next, the beans are left to dry in the sun.


A little history

In Greek, Theobroma translates to food of the gods.  Chocolate connoisseurs know there is more than a gustatory pleasure to be found in this food of the gods. In 1753, Carl von Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, thought cacao was so important he named the genus and species of tree Theobroma cacao, which means cacao, the food of the gods. This food dates back to prehistoric times and was extensively cultivated in Mexico, Central, and South America for centuries before Europeans’ arrived. 173  The Mayan Indians began cultivating cacao about 600 AD. The indigenous populations ate only the fruit, which contains numerous health benefits. The seed or cacao nib was set aside for a psychedelic brew, called ayahuasca, and for medicines.  According to Aztec myth, the cacao awakened power and wisdom. When the explorer Cortes brought cacao back to Spain in 1528, it was sequestered and enjoyed only by nobility and the wealthy.


The many uses of chocolate

In medieval times, chocolate was viewed as a luxury item and an indulgence. In modern times chocolate is used as gifts for mothers and sweethearts. It is made into cocktails, cold and hot drinks, candies, powders, wines, and lotions. The Spanish are widely responsible for the introduction and development of chocolate foods and beverages.


The making of chocolate foods

The most critical step is roasting. Roasting generates hundreds of the flavor compounds associate with chocolate. The beans are roasted at high temperatures for roughly one hour. There are many chemical reactions responsible for cacoa color, flavor, and aroma. Cacoa naturally has a strong, pungent/bitter taste, which comes from the flavonols. Without roasting, the cacao beans would never obtain the flavor profile we associate with modern chocolate. Cacoa nibs are crushed to form cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. There are several processing steps involved in reducing cacaos bitter taste. Cocoa liquor has a very concentrated, chocolatey flavor with a trace of bitterness and acidity. Other ingredients like sugar, milk solids, vanilla, and emulsifiers are added to the pure cocoa liquor. The addition of these ingredients to the liquor results in a coarse, heterogeneous mixture that still must be further processed. The more chocolate is processed (through fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost. 174


What science tells us about the health properties of chocolate

Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that offer specific health benefits. They are part of the polyphenol group (chemicals found in plants). Flavanols are a type of flavonoid found explicitly in cocoa and chocolate. More than 4,000 flavonoid compounds are found in various foods and beverages, such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea, and red wine. Most popular commercial chocolates are highly processed, providing little if any health benefits.

Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly eight times the amount found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help lower blood pressure nitric oxide production; they can also balance certain hormones. The fats in chocolate (1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid, and 1/3 palmitic acid) do not impact your cholesterol. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while preventing white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ walls. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. Scientists found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect. Research published in the March 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.

The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll have to make do with what nature has given us! 175, 177


Benefits of dark chocolate


Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, or other natural flavorings. To enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it.  Most studies used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories.

Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., one ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to consume other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions, and cranberries. Your best choices are dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars) and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).

Caution: According to the National Hazardous Substances Database: In large doses, theobromine may cause nausea and anorexia, and the daily intake of 50-100g cocoa (1.5 g theobromine) has been associated with sweating, trembling, and severe headache. Occasionally, people (mostly the elderly) have needed hospital treatment for a theobromine reaction.

  1. The Science behind Chocolate by Abbey Thiel:
  2. (Based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.)
  3. The Poisonous Chemistry of Chocolate –
  4. Is Chocolate a Healthy Choice for Valentine’s Day? That Depends on Which Kind, Wall Street Journal,
  5.  chocolate-1518100791

Hope Fuels an Appreciation

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

We are within hours of what could be the end of the most devastating year of the 21st century. Interestingly these may be the same thoughts of those who passed through the 1918 Spanish Influenza or the black plague of the 14th century as the new year approached. With twenty-twenty hind-site, we know the plague was followed by many events that devastated families, cities, nations, and the world. These events also reshaped countries, and society opening the door to insight, invention, art, and shaping our current world. Through it all, humanity has kept striving forward, washing the grit from faces and unpacking the boxes of hope, goals, and dreams.

Humans seem to have a spark that may be dimmed at times but never wholly extinguished; that spark is hope, and it fuels the placing of one foot in front of the other, moving forward step by step even when exhausted. On October 9, 1854, Elizabeth Austin wrote in her journal, “Today I took things out of the wagon….” Tired, dusty, and dirty from almost a year of traveling the Oregon Trail and countless disappointments and losses, the Austin family had reached their destination in western Washington. Taking their few belongings from the wagon and washing their grimy clothes marked the end of a difficult journey, yet there was more to be endured. This same sentence was repeated in almost every journal of the time, the relief palpable that the journey was at long last over, that some sense of normalcy could be established and hope fanned the flame brighter.

As 2020 comes to a close, we to feel exhausted, grimy, and relieved the passage of the COVID year has reached its end. Like those who have come before us, we light the fire of celebration, remember those who have been lost, and put on our boots to give 2020 a good kick in the ass out the door.

When the fire of celebration dies down and the first glimmer of the new year dawns, we will once more look about us and begin the job of clean up and building the future. The challenges of 2020 will not be gone. There will still be hardships, struggle, and hard work, just like that faced by the pioneers of 1854. That first year in the west was scarcely any different from the days on the trail; meals were often cooked outdoors with limited supplies, shelter from the elements nominal at best, as barns and cabins were built, land cleared, gardens and fruit trees planted. Each passing day and task accomplished added to a sense of accomplishment and permanency. The planting of trees means anticipation of years to come. Security, abundance, growth, and prosperity …. These words are just as important to us today.  This past year has reminded many of how to …. be alone with one’s thoughts, make bread, cook from recipes instead of boxes, self motivate, re-join with family, communicate, connect with nature, and evaluate what is essential.

With each passing day into the new year of 2021, we will move closer to further goals that were dreams before, accept those things we have no control over, and work for those we do. Now we may be more aware of gratitude. We have developed an appreciation for the simple and extraordinary in our lives that had been overlooked before.  The cup of tea, a bowl of homemade soup, smell of fresh bread, the ability to work from home, and so much more give us a moment of pause and thanksgiving. There are many lessons of 2020 that will make us stronger in the end, more resilient, and determined too. These relearned tools will be vital in the years ahead, and they will be the tools that help us build and discover the next century.

“And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.” ~ Robert Burns 1759-1796


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The Nutrient Power of Beets

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP

In my home, we had canned and pickled sugar beets with a side of greens. For me, the beet greens were (and sometimes still are) the only edible part of the plant, but many people love beets in all their forms.

The first significant benefit of beets is that they are vasodilators. This is because they contain nitric oxide, which acts on the blood vessels to widen them. Imagine your veins and your arteries becoming wider.

While that might sound a little scary, what it means is that blood and oxygen are more easily able to get around the body. This then means that you get more energy to the parts of the body that need it and beets area considered incredibly useful for athletes. Another benefit of nitric oxide is that it encourages blood flow to the brain. This is important because it can help to boost attention, memory, and mood.

Betalain red-colored pigments are found in other foods like the stems of chard and rhubarb, but the peel and flesh of beets offer an unusually high concentration. An estimated 10-15 percent of U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts. While this phenomenon is not harmful, it may indicate problems with iron metabolism. Individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or particular issues with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism.

Beets have been shown to help lower the amount of glucose in the blood as a result of the soluble fiber called inulin.

A little history

Like many fresh vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. In the 19th-century, it gained significant commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. The Amalgamated Sugar Company was founded in 1897 in Logan, Utah, and is now located in Boise, Idaho. The company markets its sugar under the White Satin brand. By the 1950s, White Satin sugar was in every grocery store in the Pacific Northwest.

Beets are in the same family as chard and spinach, and both the leaves and root can be eaten. The leaves have a bitter taste, whereas the round root is sweet. Beets come in a variety of colors, including white and creamy yellow.

How and What

Beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Beets are exceptionally healthy, especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a splendid source of fiber, manganese, and potassium. Beets help the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals from the body. The greens can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach. A unique source of phytonutrients called betalains are found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains found in beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.

Inulin is a dietary fiber that may benefit gut health.

Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in beets and is a fructan. Like other fructans, it is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules. The molecules link together in a way that the small intestine cannot break down. Instead, they travel to the lower gut, where they feed beneficial gut bacteria.

The gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits. Plants containing inulin have been around for thousands of years, and some early humans consumed much more inulin than we do today.

The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gut. This community is highly complex and contains both good and bad bacteria. Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping the gut healthy and protect the body from disease. Inulin can help promote this balance. Studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Increasing the amounts of healthful bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity, and overall health.

Here is to real foods that build our health.

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Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!


by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP

So often we forget about the nutrients that have been around for decades. Zinc is one of those minerals that have a multifaceted nature.  Forty years ago the essential nature of zinc and human health was first reported in the Middle East. It is required for cellular enzyme function, the formation of hormones, and it provides the immune system with a unique skill – zinc is used by the immune system to strengthen the T-helper cells. The current estimate is that over 2,000 transcription factors may be zinc-dependent.

Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system.  Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. The ability of zinc to function as an anti-oxidant and stabilize membranes suggests that it has a role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.

The role of zinc in modulating oxidative stress has recently been recognized. Oxidative stress is an important contributing factor in several chronic human diseases, such as atherosclerosis and related vascular diseases, mutagenesis and cancer, neurodegeneration, immunologic disorders, and the aging process.

In studies of zinc deficiency, researchers found when zinc intake was insufficient it resulted in; decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. It appears that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the developing world and as many as two billion subjects may be growth retarded due to zinc deficiency. Besides growth retardation and immune dysfunctions, cognitive impairment due to zinc deficiency also has been reported recently. Our studies in the cell culture models showed that the activation of many zinc-dependent enzymes and transcription factors were adversely affected due to zinc deficiency.

For viruses to anchor to cells, we have to have a week immune system, which is a result of poor diet, sleep and heightened stress. Zinc is pivotal in the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug function being used for COVID-19, and it is responsible for loss or off-taste and smell being reported by those who have recovered from COVID-19.

A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness, along with increased risk for macular degeneration and infertility. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”

According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells). T cells help the body in two ways: controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells

Zinc is responsible for a number of functions in the human body, and it helps stimulate the activity of at least 100 different enzymes. Only a small intake of zinc is necessary to reap the benefits. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.

Vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more than the recommended intake of zinc because of the low bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods.

Foods withOur Journey With Food Online Education Course the highest reported zinc content are:

raw oysters (Pacific),

beef, lean chuck roast

baked beans, canned

King Alaskan crab,

ground beef, lean


pork loin

wild rice


yogurt, plain




Zinc supplements are also available in the form of capsules and tablets. However, the tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams for males and females over 18 years. It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from whole food. First, focus on obtaining your daily zinc requirement from foods, then use supplements as a backup if necessary.

To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency



Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells.” Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 14,5-6 (2008): 353-7. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad

Foods for Health

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CGP, CNW

Cultures throughout the ages have celebrated the return of spring after a long, harsh winter by eating the first new greens available. Native Americans took advantage of fresh, wild plants to supplement their winter diets of dried foods; foraging in woodlands or near streams could bring in an entire meal of crisp flavorful and restorative greens.

Mushrooms often sprouted with the renewed moisture of spring; experts had to hunt for this very nutritious, but dangerous food. Women hunted dandelions, wild onions and leeks, ramps, chickweed, poke, and wild mustard (or a related plant called “creasy greens”) as soon as possible since many of these plants get more bitter as they grow older. Even young, tender leaves and shoots can be bitter, but these wild plants are very nutritious and have long been considered a tonic to wake up the liver and kidneys after a long winter diet of dried starches (like beans and pumpkin) and meat.

Traditional (Algonquin) Green Salad: One-part wild onions or leeks, chopped, and one and a half parts dandelion leaves, to four parts watercress. Add a small amount of sheep or wood sorrel, and then flavor to taste. Add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, or use other traditional flavorings like salt, along with enough oil to coat the leaves.

Spring Food locally available: Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Broccoli, Cabbages, Curly Kale, Rhubarb, Leeks, Spring Greens, rabbit, lamb, Wild Salmon, steelhead, Crab, Oysters, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Cockles, Cod, Hake, Parsley, Mint, Spring Onions. Lettuces, Radishes, Spring Greens, Sea Kale, Watercress, Morel Mushrooms, Wild Garlic, Sorrel, Rhubarb, New Potatoes, Halibut, Sea Bass, Lemon Sole, Spinach.

All and many more of the foods listed here are available in our local farmer’s markets. Eating seasonally provides us with an opportunity to rebalance our immune systems, restore vital nutrients, control blood sugars and weight, reduce heart disease and cancer risks, and improve digestion and cognition.

The Science for Seasonally Eating

According to research studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. For example, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food in London, England researchers found that nutrient content was different in milk harvested in the summer versus winter. Because of the change in the cow’s diet to less fresh plants in the summer, these cows produced nutritionally different kinds of milk.  Japanese researchers also found tremendous differences in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter.

A Stanford study backs seasonal eating for healthy Microbiome; published in the Science journal; researchers found that the microbes in the members of the Hadza tribe in Tanzania change dramatically with each season, in sync with seasonal changes made to their diet.

The study showed that certain gut microbes that reside within the gut in one season may almost disappear in the next – suggesting there are dramatic changes taking place in the microbiome from one season to the next. The researchers concluded that the Hadza tribe’s gut microbes and their digestion is cyclical, and in sync with the precise bio-rhythm of nature.

A study published by the University of Missouri confirmed the availability of local food as a key to improving food security. This is so very important for the low income of every community which is made up in large part by elderly and children. Most strategies to assist the hungry, including food banks, and providing food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are short-term, emergency solutions. Those who rely on these programs face daily shortages of fresh and healthy foods, which lead to poor diet choices, nutritional deficiencies, and health problems. An expert at the University of Missouri says the production of sustainable, locally grown foods is key to providing long-term food security for communities.


To local foods and our health.

Change How You Think About Change

Published January 30th, 2020 in HN4U Blog

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

Every year I have clients tell me they made a New Years’ resolution to eat better, lose weight, and exercise more. And like clockwork, there’s, and my resolutions are so far down on the priority list by February that there is no motivation to drag them to the top again.  Why does this happen – is it we are weak in caricature, deficient, bad people?

It turns out we have been trying to initiate change in our lives under a faulty premise. I have said for years the best way to help a client is “To Not set them up for failure” by asking them to change too much at once. The Stanford Behavioral Health Lab had to work with 40,000 clients to learn the same thing.

Healing Power of Foods and HerbsThink back on all the things you have learned and accomplished in your life. You didn’t learn or do it all at once; some things took practice, familiarity, and confidence others you wonder how in the world did I get through that? We often time hear the phrase “take baby steps.”

The Stanford University Behavior Research Lab has found a painful gap between the changes people want and what they actually do. For the most part, we tend to blame ourselves for not being willing to work hard enough to adopt new habits. Behavior research shows, to be effective, change doesn’t have to be hard at all—and shouldn’t be. Tiny adjustments that come easily and make us happy are the ones that work best. It’s our approach to self-improvement that needs to change.

According to behavior researcher BJ Fogg, PhD., “It turns out that there is a formula for any successful shift in behavior. This applies to everything from flossing your teeth to running a marathon. To instill a habit, the first thing you need is motivation: Pick a behavior that you want to do rather than one you merely feel obligated to do. Second, you need to be able to do it: Make the change simple and small at first. Third, you need a personal prompt: Identify a way to reliably trigger the behavior. Finally, you need to celebrate your new habit, so that your brain associates it with positive feelings”.


First, don’t think you have to create motivation. Choose habits that you already are eager to adopt.

Second, go tiny. Why? Small is successful and sustainable because it is simpler.

Third, design a prompt.


We respond almost automatically to hundreds of behavior prompts each day (for instance, when you feel a few drops of rain on your arm, you open your umbrella); no behavior happens without some kind of prompt.

Here is an example: I was talking to a client about their InstaPot. For two years, it had been in a box on the counter – never opened. The whole idea of a pressure pot, something they had no experience with, created anxiety and procrastination. This client with a high-stress job in healthcare had to change from the regular pot or pan to using this appliance in small steps; they had no frame of reference for using a pressure pot, or canning, these where different tools with a foreign language. It wasn’t about motivation. It was the uncertainty over doing something for the first time that made the roadblock.

 “It isn’t primarily repetition over a long period that creates habits; it’s the emotion that you attach to them from the start.”


So, while we were on the phone, with my experience with pressure canning, she opened the box and put it to work. Was it a complete success? No, but it wasn’t a failure either. The InstaPot was no longer a boogie man waiting to blow up; it was easy to operate, clean and convenient. Now she is willing to try again and keep trying until her comfort level becomes second nature. Because I was on the phone with her, she felt like she had help, and we made it fun, less stressful. We celebrate her tiny victory by treating the next step like a detective story, reading researching and watching videos while comparing notes.

To making tiny sustainable proactive changes for our health.



On the Journey to New Habits, Take Tiny Steps: New Year’s resolutions fail because people aim too high and get discouraged quickly. Instead, celebrate small accomplishments. –

“Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything,” by BJ Fogg, Ph.D. 2020, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rhetoric and Food

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

For those of us who have lived around agriculture, we know the problems with the modern food system is not with the farm or the volume being produced. The waste, cruelty, and denaturing of our food happens after the farm when it enters the mega-industrial machine of Big Food. Sustainability is a multifaceted process that begins with the soil or a lifestyle; it is the impact of aggressive industrial methods or unhealthy choices, which net a result of food waste and pollution. We do not need more food; it is quite the reverse; what we desperately need is more nutrition.  There is no nutrition in a calorie; it is a measure of heat, energy output. Nutrition is the building blocks for health, growth, repair, cognitive elasticity, and longevity. Without the incorporation in food of vitamins, minerals, co-factors, sugars, enzymes, and amino acids, there would be no life; we cannot live a sustainable life on calories alone.

Just as the faulty use of calories as a measure of food quality is flawed, so is the popular rhetoric on Farmers Feeding the World. We do not need more food produced; we have tons wasted every day, what we need is far simpler, a return to diverse and sustainable practices that do not feed off the empty calories of subsidies and farm policies driven by the multinational food and drug industry. The intention of subsidies was to reduce the risk farmers endure from the weather, commodities brokers, and disruptions in demand. Due to the complexity of subsidies, only large producers can take advantage of them.[1]

There are only five crops subsidized by the federal government; corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice; raised in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, and Illinois. In 2017, these five states received 38.5% of the $7.2 billion distributed. Producers of meat, fruits, and vegetables can only benefit from crop insurance and disaster relief. Between 1995 and 2017, $369.7 billion was paid out.[2]

According to the USDA, the total US corn crop for 2018-19 was projected at 14 billion bushels. Food, seed, and industrial use was projected to increase 75 million bushels, reaching 7.1 billion; an increase associated with ethanol production.[3], [4] California produces the most food by value; almonds, wine, dairy, walnuts, and pistachios; these crops aren’t subsidized. [5]

Subsidies act like a regressive tax that helps high-income businesses, not rural farmers. Between 1995 and 2017, the top 10% of recipients received 77% of the $205.4 billion. The top 1% received 26% of the payments. That averages out to $1.7 million per company. Fifty people on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans received farm subsidies. On the other hand, 62% of U.S. farms did not receive any subsidies.

Since 2013, America’s farmers and ranchers have weathered a 45 percent drop in net farm income, the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great Depression. This wrongdoing is the result of policies designed to enrich corporations at the expense of farmers and ranchers.[6]

In 1996, Via Campesina coined the phrase food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is defined as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” [7], [8]

When big business leads government down the rosy path, it always results in a loss of freedom for someone. When the media grabs a hold of a marketing slogan like “Farmers Feed the World,” it means we the consumers are being manipulated for the profit of multinational corporations, not farmers.

To locally supported Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities.


[1] Farm Subsidies with Pros, Cons, and Impact;

[2] Commodity subsidies in the United States totaled $7.2 billion in 2017;

[3] WASDE: Corn use for ethanol up in 2018-’19;

[4] Land usage attributed to corn ethanol production in the United States: sensitivity to technological advances in corn grain yield, ethanol conversion, and co-product utilization;

[5] Five Facts You Need to Know About the US Farming Industry;

[6] A Looming Crisis on American Farms by Alicia Harvie;

[7] Feeding the World Intelligently by John Ikerd: Prepared for presentation at the Tennessee Local Food Summit, organized by the Barefoot Farmer, hosted by Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN, December, 1-3, 2017.

[8] American Farmers Say They Feed The World, But Do They? By Dan Charles s3

Box of Crayons

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD  

Nature is filled with color, and as I watch the vibrant changed to trees and plants, my thought turn to crayons, which lead to making choices. Do you remember when you got that first box of crayons? The first box of crayons came out in 1903 and contained eight colors, by 1935, a kaleidoscope of sixteen colors, 1949 the number increase to forty-eight. [1] This creative inspiration has gone from eight crayons to a bucket containing 200 colors in 116 years. How in the world is a five-year-old to make a choice? I can’t even make up my mind.

This isn’t the only area in our lives where the volume of choices abound; we have so many decisions to make over small things that it is actually increasing stress, anxiety, depression, and health challenges. The overwhelming number of choices in a bucket of 200 crayons can result in children and adults freezing with uncertainty, life just became hard, and just setting or ignoring the choice before us is more manageable than making the wrong selection.

As adults, it is easier to mindlessly surf the net, then decide on what brand of pasta to buy; organic, GMO-free, low carb, gluten-free, and so on.  This is referred to by psychologists as the “paradox of choice,” the fact that we have so many options, tends to make us feel “less” happy, not more. Researchers are finding that when consumers are given a smaller selection of jam, for example, to choose from, they end up more content with the flavor they picked. When given extensive selections, the reverse was true; consumers were less likely to be happy with their choice and questioned if they had made the right selection. [2]

Just like when we were kids, once you opened a box of 120 crayons, you were never satisfied with forty-eight again; the same is true when we are faced with thousands of selections in the grocery store.

When the Piggly Wiggly opened in Tennesee 1916 [3] and later the King Kullen in New York in 1930, they contained around 200 items in their inventory. The average small grocery store of the 21st century contains over 4000 food items, and megastores can easily hold over 50,000. That is a massive increase for consumers to wade through when looking for foundational nutritious foods. [4]

Our sense of what we need has increased with all the choices before us, and we do not know how to ask for less. [5] This distortion of need is played out every day in restaurants, the need for smaller potions sizes for our health falls by the wayside when our meal arrives. Our resolve fades as we look upon a plate requiring sideboards to contain the contents.

Research has found that by reducing our food intake volume by 300-500 calories a day, it has a positive effect on hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular health, type II diabetes, sleep, sexual function, chronic pain, cognitive elasticity, gall bladder, and pancreas health. There is NO single medication available that can have comparable results on your health. [6], [7]

When I took a look at what consisted of 300 calories, I was surprised at how small of a portion we were looking at. Here are a few examples of 300 calories and how dropping just one of these snack items a day can meet the target without deprivation. Your hardest choice will be which of the thousands of snack foods to cut.

One Snack Size Bag or Container of, Cheetos Simply, Doritos, Oreos, Bagel Bites, Starbucks Moca Lata, granola bars, Kind Bars, pretzels, candy, soda, Icecream bar, energy drinks – I could go on like this for another paragraph and still not list all the “snacks” and ultra-processed items available for you to drop. Here is the important part, by losing two of these kinds of snacks, you can eat half a medium watermelon, or six medium potatoes, or nine apples, or three large heads of broccoli and only consume 300 calories.

When we had fewer choices in the stores, it was easier to eat better, and feel content or even happy with our selections. Each trip to the market doesn’t have to be a battle of wills and indecision if we keep our focus on our goal of 300 and how that can mean more, not less.


To Real Foods, Tradition, and Fewer Choices.


[1] The Way We Eat Now, 2019, Bee Wilson
[2] The Paradox of Choice, May 17, 2016, by Barry Schwartz
[3] Photo Credit
[4] “Eataly World and the Future of Food,” 2017
[5] Angela Palm, 2017 Hierarchy of Needs,
[6] Impact of Lifestyle on Health,



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