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Friday, November 20, 2015

What You Need to Know About "Frankenfish" aka: GMO Salmon

A GMO salmon compared to an Atlantic salmon in size.
A GMO salmon from AquaBounty in the background,
alongside a non-GMO Atlantic salmon.
Image courtesy www.alaskafishradio.com
In a historic move by the FDA, the first-ever genetically engineered animal was approved safe for human consumption this week: the GMO salmon, which some people have unlovingly deemed "Frankenfish." #notnice. I've actually blogged about this before, and my feelings about GMO salmon, which are officially called AquAdvantage salmon, are the same. However, before we all get up in hackles about this scientific breakthrough that has been 20 years in the making, let's take a minute to review some common, proven knowledge about GMOs or genetically engineered foods.

Q: What is a GMO?
A: It stands for genetically modified organism, which is a common term for genetically engineered food.

Q: Ok - what is genetically engineered food?
A: These are organisms that have had genes altered to give the plant (and now salmon) an ability it didn't have before. For example, herbicide tolerance in soybeans. The GMO salmon have been altered so that the fish can continue to grow in colder months whereas non-GMO salmon shut down the growth process when the water gets cold.

Q: Why do we use GMOs?
A: Farmers are able to save time and inputs (i.e. insecticides and pesticides) by using GMO seeds. Farmers select GMO seeds to reduce yield loss or crop damage from weeds, diseases, insects and extreme weather conditions. Essentially, GMOs allow farmers to produce more food using fewer inputs or resources.

Q: Are GMOs safe?
A: Absolutely. Today's genetically engineered products are the most researched and tested agricultural products in history. On average, GMOs take 13 years and $130 million of research and development before they are introduced to the market. The regulatory process alone can take 5-7 years.

Q: What genetically engineered foods are on the market now?
A: There are currently nine crops commercially available in the U.S. - alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugarbeets. GMO apples have been approved and are coming to market soon. And of course, there is our newest GMO success story, the GMO salmon which will be coming to market at some point in the future.

Which brings me to the subject of genetically engineered salmon. There are many pros to genetically engineering fish and of course, there a potential cons. Here's an easy list to break it down:

  • The GMO salmon, also called AquAdvantage, has been modified for fast growth during colder temperatures. A wild salmon's growth cycle slows down when water is cold in the winter, however by using a promoter gene from an ocean pout, the salmon continue to grow. Larger fish, more quickly equals more food, quickly.
  • The GMO salmon requires no antibiotics, unlike non-GMO salmon.
  • AquAdvantage salmon reach adult size twice as fast and require 20% less feed than today's Atlantic salmon.
  • The food from GMO salmon is just as safe as food from any other Atlantic salmon.
  • The development and approval of GMO salmon will help address a food problem in the world.
  • Global demand of fish is expected to double by 2050 and farmed fish (GMO salmon and Atlantic salmon are both farmed) can help meet that need.
  • A big red flag to critics is the chance of GMO salmon interbreeding with wild salmon. However, the FDA has only allowed the fish to be raised in one penned-off lake in the Panamanian mountains. To escape, the salmon would have to get out of the lake, swim down river and then continue in to the ocean where they would swim thousands of miles to arrive in the North Pacific or North Atlantic. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. If by chance, the escape proved successful, there would still be the issue of interbreeding, which scientists have taken care of by making all of the fish female AND sterile
There you have it - the fast facts on GMO salmon. I can honestly say that I have no fear of my food in regards to genetically engineered organisms. If GMOs help us feed a hungry world, reduce our environmental impact and use fewer resources, I am all for them. Bravo to the FDA for approving this awesome GMO food that can help the world food problem. What's next?

To learn more about other GMO foods such as the arctic apple, visit GMOAnswers.com.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Love Story That Breaks Veggie Hearts

Food: A Love Story
Absolutely hilarious
I try to read a lot.  Sometimes I am successful and other times, I will let days slip by me without ever cracking a binding. So, while enduring a long layover in an airport recently (I honestly can't remember where I was) I spied Food: A Love Story on the shelf, which has been on my "to read" list for quite some time.

I'm not going to give a lengthy review here - I honestly laughed OUT LOUD about every other page of this book. Most of the time spent reading this book was on a plane, so just imagine me busting a gut next to some random stranger trying to sleep. Whoops! It was so outlandishly funny that I could pick it up and read it again, right now. Instead of a review, here are my favorite jokes, which mostly happen to bash vegetables.

- Why are we surprised when vegetables taste good? "Oh my God, this beet is delicious."
- Vegetables are sidekicks. The opening band you didn't come to see at the concert. The asparagus next to the steak. The expectation is that the entrée is so good you won't notice the mutant blades of grass.
- When you are at a party and see a tray of vegetables, aren't you a little surprised? I always think "Wow, that's a waste of money."

Honestly, I think my favorite part of the whole book is the page where he defines different vegetables.

- Brussels sprouts: Clearly some kind of cruel joke by God.
- Celery: Celery better get buffalo wings a great holiday present every year.
- Cauliflower: The unpainted broccoli imposter.
- Cucumber: The cucumber is just a pickle before it started drinking.

Again, these are just a few short excerpts from a book that is hilarious for a full 300 pages. I strongly suggest you read this book - you will crack up the entire time. Let me know if you loved it too!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

7 Things Leaders Can Learn From the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals -World Series Champs - Kansas City Star
World Series Champions - 2015 Royals
Photo courtesy: Kansas City Star
I am one of those sports fan who had, until this year, never had a team, college or professional, win a league-wide championship. I have enjoyed several seasons of KSU Big12 conference success (GO CATS!) and a few brief shining moments of Kansas City Chiefs football success. However, for 27 of the 29 years of my life, I had been a Royals fan waiting for something magical to happen. Lightning to strike. God to intervene.

Well, Kansas City Royals fans all over this nation are rejoicing at a World Series Championship 30 years in the making. On Sunday night, the Royals won Game 5 of the World Series and became the 111th World Series Champions in the 12th inning over the New York Mets. We have been crowned. A fandom rejuvenated. A dream come true.

There is a legion of reasons this team came back to win in 2015 after losing in the 7th game of the 2014 World Series. This is a team of many strengths, which are applicable in life, jobs and relationships, not just baseball. So I give you 7 Things Leaders Can Learn From the Kansas City Royals.

1. Expect to Win - The Royals go into their games expecting to win. Don't mistake this confidence for cockiness. They aren't loudly parading their talents for all to see or talking smack to other teams - but they are also aren't feebly going into games hanging their heads. They are going into every game mentally prepared to win.
Bottom line -- If you don't expect to win, are you expecting the alternative?

2. Set Goals -  From day one of spring training camp, the team's goal was to get back to the World Series and address their unfinished business. Their team goal wasn't to win the AL Central or to have seven players on the All-Star game AL roster. The goal was to get back to the World Series and win it all. Take the Crown. There is a plethora of research indicating that a source of motivation is the desire to reach a goal and if you aren't setting goals, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Bottom line -- You're more likely to be successful if you are setting measurable and attainable goals.

The Kansas City Royals celebrate their ALCS Championship on Oct 23 in Kauffman Stadium
The Royals celebrate their ALCS Championship on Oct 23 in Kauffman Stadium
3. Execute - The Royals' game plan is to keep the line moving. Get on base, push runners home. Don't make mistakes and be unbeatable defensively. Lots of teams have plans, but very few carry out those plans. True to form, the 2015 Royals made their dreams come true by sticking to the plan - get on base and play excellent defense. In the 2015 post season, the Royals made only three errors. The three teams the Royals played in the post season made a combined 16 errors (Astros - 2, Blue Jays - 5, Mets - 9). Talk about some damn good defense. Additionally, the Royals had an OBP (on-base percentage) of .322 in the postseason, which was higher than all three of their postseason opponents. They were #1 in postseason OBP and #11 in regular season. The Royals play as team, keep the line moving, get on base and don't make mistakes.
Bottom line -- Make a plan that culminates with success and put every ounce of energy into attaining that success. Take the steps needed to be successful.

4. Be Aggressive and Take Risks - One of the many strengths of the Royals is their aggressive base running. It's risky, yes, but they end up winning big because of big risks. In Game 5 of the World Series, Mets player David Wright threw from third base to first to get Salvador Perez out but he left just a nickel of time for Eric Hosmer to score. It was a risk on the part of Hosmer but one that paid off big with the tying run. 
Bottom line --  If you aren't aggressive and don't take risks, you miss out on some big rewards. Go for the unknown, swing for the fence and hang on for dear life.

5. Make the Most of The Situation - In 2010, Zach Greinke, the best player in the Royals franchise at the time, demanded to be traded to a team that had a chance at winning - so off he went to the Milwaukee Brewers. That trade brought in Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar who happen to be the 2014 and 2015 ALCS MVPs, respectively. Other teams would have hung their heads at losing their best player but the Royals rallied together and grew as a team.
Bottom line -- Work with what you have to improve your situation. You never know where the next diamond in the rough will come from.

6. Believe - The Royals believed that they would win. Wholeheartedly, they came to take the crown and bring a World Series Championship back to Kauffman Stadium. They firewalled the negative media saying that they couldn't return to the series and went about their business. They believed in themselves and got an entire fan base to believe in the dream. Look where it got them? Crowned.
Bottom line -- If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will either.

7. NEVER Quit - Lorenzo Cain said it best in his post game interview and it was a big theme during the World Series parade and pep rally - the Royals have a don't quit attitude. Even when you are down in the 8th or 9th inning, don't give up. The Royals scored 40 runs in the 8th or 9th inning during the 2015 post season. Forty runs. No other team had more than five. That's playing until to the last strike and staying focused on the goal. Additionally, this post season the Royals came from behind to win eight times and seven of those times were deficits of two runs. Even if you don't watch baseball, it's easy to wrap your mind around the magnitude of eight come-from-behind wins.
Bottom line -- Never give up. Never give in. Keep pushing, scratching and climbing to you get to the top.

View of Pep Raly in Kansas City for Royals
800,000+ Kansas City Royals fans converged in front of Union Station and along the World Series parade route to celebrate the newly crowned 2015 World Series Champs. I was not super close, as you can see, but I could see the stage and the parade from my bird's eye view!
If you are a Royals fan, and by now you should be, you can relive the 2015 season by reading these great stories. Also, get your World Series Champions gear - I'm going to spend a pretty penny to outfit myself in advance of the parade today and opening day in April!

Be Royal!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, October 26, 2015

Meaty Monday: Apple Spice Pork Chops

The Ninja's new colleague had supper with us one night a few weeks ago so I was looking for a recipe that had two things: 1) pork as the main ingredient and 2) some sort of fall implement. I am trying to beckon colder weather with fall aspects; home décor, apple pie etc. I may even drink a pumpkin spice latte.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it looked so easy and delicious I couldn't pass it up. The key thing to remember about this, and any pork chop recipe, is DON'T OVERCOOK YOUR PORK. You're doing yourself a disservice by cooking pork chops and roasts until they are dry as a bone. Pork is best served at 145 F and it is ok to have a little pink in there. Trust me - I'm married to a doctor ;)

I hope you enjoy this meal - if you try it and like it, shout it out below in the comments!

Necessary ingredients for apple spice pork chopsIngredients:
 - 4 or 5  pork chops (ours were about 1" thick)
 - 2 T vegetable oil
 - salt and pepper
 - 1 medium onion
 - 2 medium apples
 - 2 T butter
 - 1 T brown sugar
 - 1/2 t cinnamon
 -  1/4 tsp nutmeg
 - 1 t chicken bouillon
 - 1 cup water

Apples and onions sliced up
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, season chops with salt and pepper (I use heavy salt and pepper because we like spiced up food). Once the oil is hot, place the chops in the pan and let the bottoms get a nice brown crust (2-3 minutes). While the chops are browning slice up your onions and apples (you don't have to peel the apples). Flip the chops and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes, then remove them from the pan.

Browning pork chops
Give the chops a few minutes to get a good crust on one side; then flip and repeat with  the other.
Now put the apples, onions and butter in the pan so that they can soften (approximately 5 minutes), then add in the bouillon, water, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir everything together well and ensure that the apples and onions are softened, then add the chops back to the pan. Make sure there are apples and onions on the chops so that the flavors can collide.

Pork chops, apples and onion simmering
They taste better than they smell - and they smell DELICIOUS!

Simmer the whole mess until the sauce is reduced by half and the chops are 145 degrees F. Serve chops with apples and onions served on top, with your favorite starch or veggie.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did - fall weather is here and this is great recipe for those chilly nights! What are your favorite fall recipes?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~