Vegetarian Organic Living

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With Amira Elgan

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I will provide useful, practical and empowering information about health, nutrition and organic living that will put you in control of your own well-being.

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will give you the energy to live an active and productive lifestyle. Health is the foundation to a long and happy life.

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What You Need to Know About GMO

You've no doubt heard about the controversy over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which are also sometimes called transgenic, genetically altered, genetically modified, genetically engineered foods -- or even "Frankenfoods." Perhaps you've seen food in the stores with labels claiming the products contain no GMOs.

Genetic engineering is a field within biotechnology that involves intentional direct modification or transfer of genetic material or genes made up of DNA to another organism to produce a specific desirable trait.

For hundreds of years, farmers have been genetically altering crops from their original wild state using what might be called "artificial selection," selectively breeding them to come up with offspring that display desired traits.

Within the last three decades, scientists have found genetic engineering methods of speeding up the genetic modification process through biotechnology in laboratories. This refers to a genetic manipulation involving artificial gene transfer or modification. In agriculture, the results are new strains of plant crops that resist diseases, destruction by herbicides and insect pests.

The genetically engineered organism or the recipient of the transferred gene is called transgenic. This is a crop plant that carries a new gene in all of its cells that was artificially inserted (instead acquiring it through natural pollination). The transgene may have come from an unrelated plant or even from a completely different species. The genetically modified Bt corn, for example, contains a gene from a bacterium that enables it to produce its own insecticide (Bacillus thuringiensis) delta endotoxin.

Another product of biotech is strains of genetically engineered microorganism designed to produce increased amounts of substances that would normally occur in small amounts in nature (or not all) such as bovine somatotropin (BST). The Bovine growth hormone (BGH or BST) is produced by genetically engineered bacteria. It's used as a drug by livestock growers to treat meat animals to develop more meat and dairy animals to produce more milk while at the same time making them eat less. This synthetic growth hormone is supposed to be identical to the growth hormone produced naturally in the pituitary gland of the animal's brain.

Some 70 percent of the foods sold in mainstream grocery stores have at least some traces of transgenic or GM ingredients. There is no law that requires companies to identify genetically altered food on the label, so unsuspecting consumers buy and eat them without any knowledge of what they're putting in their bodies.

It's perfectly reasonable to have concerns about this direct genetic modification of food and the new protein these new transgenic organism produce as well as the effects these may have on people over the long term, especially when cancer is more prevalent than ever before.

It's also sensible to worry about the transmission of genetically modified DNA to other plants, producing "super weeds," for example, that can harm the environment and all the living things in it.

Many consumers fear possible and unpredictable health risks GMO will have on humans. The only way to avoid GMO is to buy organic foods.

For more information about vegetarianism and delicious recipes that are quick and easy.

Copyright© By Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.

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Amira Elgan is an experienced cook, who has created innovative, healthy recipes for more than 15 years. She teaches healthy cooking classes for Whole Foods Market’s Salud! Cooking & Lifestyle School and Sur La Table. Amira is a former top manager of some of the premier dining establishments in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, including the Mondrian, Bonaventure and Beverly Wilshire hotels. She is a devout yoga practitioner and healthy organic living and fitness expert with first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She is the author and publisher of the Vegetarian Organic Life e-mail newsletter and is currently writing a vegetarian organic cookbook. She is married and has two sons.


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