surgeon general

The Corn Ultimatum – A Trilogy

The following is a work of fiction.  Though much of the information is documented fact certain elements have been fictionalized.

Des Moines, IW

The year is 2007.  Illinois Senator Barrack Obama tells attendees of the Iowa Democratic Primary Debate, “. . . we can also improve the economic engines in a lot of these rural communities, and that is something that I’m absolutely committed to doing as President, but it’s going to require overcoming the excess influence of agribusiness lobbying.”

Campaigning on a platform of change and promising an end to business-as-usual politics Obama says, “I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.”  Based mainly on this promise Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States.

Before taking office, the President was sent a list of 12 highly qualified experts in food safety and/or conscientious farming by environmentalists and sustainable food activists.  They called them the Sustainable Dozen.

On December 17, 2008 President-elect Obama named former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as his nominee as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  As head of the USDA, Vilsak will be making policy that greatly effects the bottom line of Monsanto and other agribusinesses and their lobbyists.

Obama’s other candidates for USDA chief were Representative Collin Peterson (D – Minnesota) a conservative Democrat who has on occasion championed Monsanto and Representative Charlie Stenholm (D – Texas) another conservative Democrat who has, from time-to-time been a proponent of Monsanto.

So why did the President choose Vilsack?  Apparently because the other two were not pro-Monsanto enough.  While leading the state of Iowa, Vilsack was often ridiculed for betraying voters in favor of Big Ag companies and was even named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a GM seed lobby group.  For years Vilsack has traveled in a private jet “on loan” from Monsanto.

Vilsack’s appointment came as a slap in the face to the very people that elected the President.  Letters were written, favors cashed in and e-mails did whatever it is e-mails metaphorically do.  As a peace offering President Obama created the toothless position of Sustainable Foods Czar and appointed one of the Sustainable Dozen, Kathleen Merrigan to fill it.  The appointment means little except a salary and a nifty parking spot.  Clearly a waste of a talented and dedicated person.

However, President Obama wasn’t done.  He has added more Big Ag goons to the US Government than the past three Presidents combined:

  • Islam Siddiqui – vice president of CropLife America a PR firm representing Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and DuPont.  Siddiqui also was a Barrack financial contributor who donated the highest legal amount to the ’09 election.
  • Roger Beachy – a scientist who actually helped develop GM corn and recently questioned the safety of organic foods.  Beachy was another campaign contributor.
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm – vehement defender of food irradiation (the largely untested practice of dosing food with Gamma radiation).  His research facilities are financed by CFC Logistics – a maker of food irradiation equipment.
  • Dr. Regina Benjamin a “consultant” for  Burger King, was paid $10,000 by the fast food giant just prior to being named the nation’s latest Surgeon General.
  • And the most agredious appointment – July 7, 2009, Michael Taylor returns to DC as President Obama’s hand-picked “senior adviser” to the FDA.

Taylor, whose position is technically under that of FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, took it upon himself to create a new division of the FDA called the Office of Foods in August of 2009.  This new department will employee 350 people, none of whom have any real duties to perform.  Humorously, the FDA’s web site has a section entitled Meet Michael R. Taylor which spends an entire page detailing Taylor’s numerous token appointments and meaningless board of trustees seats but only dedicates one half of one sentence to his 30 plus years of service to Monsanto.

So now with a gaggle of Big Ag henchmen as part of his administration the President is set to attack the long list of problems assailing the country.  Surely he would address the nation’s dire unemployment numbers or prosecute the Wall Street executives who broke the law and as a result needed the American tax payers to save their industry.  At the very least he will attempt to wrangle the growing national debt.  No, instead he turns his full attention towards nationalizing the health care system.

The President and First Lady also begin a campaign against childhood obesity.  Obesity it would seem has been the primary cause of increasing health care costs.  The chief cause of obesity is GM products (food is too liberal a word) and the chemicals derived from them like HFCS.

On that point the First Lady plants an organic garden at the White House that will provide produce for the First Family and their guests to enjoy.  A staff is hired to maintain the garden for the Obamas.  They also suggest that schools plant similar gardens.  After all GM foods are poisonous and drive up health care costs.

Then the First Lady announces her new initiative,  Let’s Move.  The program’s goal is to, “give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.”  Mrs. Obama made her plans public on February 9, 2010 in a live broadcast that aired on WhiteHouse.gov.

At the First Lady’s side were Tom Vilsak (Secretary of the USDA and Monsanto lobbyist) and Dr. Regina Benjamin (US Surgeon General and Burger King employee) making the entire program appear little more than window dressing.  Also joining Mrs. Obama at the announcement was hypocrisy.  After all Vilsack has worked for decades for the company that invented the chemical responsible for the obesity epidemic, HFCS and Benjamin advices a company that puts  HFCS into virtually everything it sells.

Just as Monsanto had told President Carter in those smokey backrooms of the 1970’s, if their genetically modified corn turned out to be unhealthy then all is well.  It would likely cause a health crisis giving some future President ammunition to pass the long sought after state-run health care system.

The first President Bush left a crack in the door for Monsanto to plant a genetically modified seed of corruption.  President Clinton opened the door all the way, Bush Jr. took the door off the hinges and President Obama has unlocked the backdoor and smashed out all of the windows.

There is no savior for our food system.  There is no one in Washington DC we can trust.  The only thing DC politicians care about is fortifying their own coffers.

If this whole ordeal has shown us anything is that this issue is not about party affiliation.  Those who align themselves along party lines are fools.  Both Democrats and Republicans have betrayed the American people for the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.  From Bush Sr. to Obama all have put more stock into the desires of Monsanto than they do the voter.

Politicians will never change things unless it is profitable for them.  The only way we get out of this is by doing it ourselves.  Re-elect no one.  Impeachment is a tool the founding fathers gave us in case we were betrayed. Let’s use it; after all we’ve been betrayed.  Write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails, organize petitions and write “call to arms” blog posts just like this one.  Do something to save us from the Monsanto Revolving Door.

Make yourself heard.

Get caught up by reading The Corn Identity and The Corn Supremacy.

Democratic primary debate

Obamas Getting Tough On Obesity?

This week we learned, ”People who drank two or more soft drinks a week had an 87% increased risk — or nearly twice the risk — of pancreatic cancer compared to individuals consuming no soft drinks,” says Noel T. Mueller, MPH, lead research associate at the Cancer Control Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.  This from the recently published study in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention?

The study was done to test a theory that high glycemic beverages like soft drinks and commercial grade fruit juices are a major contributor to pancreatic cancer.  The study found that commercial grade juices, though extremely high on the glycemic scale, do not effect pancreatic cancer risk.  So what could be the difference?

Oh yeah, juice contains a natural sugar.  Soft drinks contain a synthetic one, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  Coincidence?

HFCS of course is the brainchild of one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, Monsanto.

This week we also learned that the Obama’s have announced a new child obesity initiative with cheflebrity Jamie Oliver, Let’s Move.  This would be exciting if it weren’t such an utter fraud.  While Oliver is genuine, Mrs. Obama made her announcement with USDA chief Tom Vilsak (legendary Monsanto lobbyist) and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (a Burger King consultant) at her side.

Also standing with the first lady was Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a career politician with absolutely no experience or training in social services or nutrition.  Ms. Sebelius has degrees in political science and public administration, the academic equivalents of basket weaving.

With a stroke of his mighty pen, President Obama signed an executive order that outlines the ever expanding federal government’s role in a problem that affects one-third of the school-age children in the country.  An issue that he claims as, “one of the most urgent health issues we face in this country,” with all of the sincerity of a fox offering to guard the hen house.

While proper exercise is another key factor in childhood obesity the chief cause is diet.  Between diet and exercise, diet is the most important.  If children enjoy a proper diet then the amount of exercise they receive in an average school day would suffice. But a diet of processed foods containing HFCS and hydrogenated oils requires much more exercise to negate the negative effects of that diet.

That’s why the Obama’s Let’s Move serves as little more than a diversion from the real issue.  The people the President has appointed to make the decisions about what is and is not healthy are not qualified to make these decisions.  People like Sebelius, Benjamin, Vilsak and many others do not base their policies on what is best for the country but what is best for their corporate masters.

If President Obama were genuine he would not have traded our children’s well-being for campaign contributions.  He likely did not chose his appointees because of careful examination of the facts but more likely to repay the people who financed the most expensive Presidential campaign in history. Clearly they where not chosen based on qualifications.  Holding a press conference vowing to end the obesity epidemic while surrounded by the very people championing the chemicals causing that epidemic is at best  hypocritical.

food revolution

White House Kitchen Garden a Facade?


The White House has certainly touted it’s Kitchen Garden, even going so far as to having it featured as the “theme ingredient” on a special Iron Chef:America. I am sure the first lady is passionate and devoted to the sustainable, local and/or organic lifestyle. Mrs. Obama certainly seems sincere in her concerns for the environment and in rescuing our children from the obesity epidemic created by agribusiness juggernauts like Monsanto and their foot soldiers, the fast food industry.

I do not, however, believe her husband cares about these issues. After all his actions suggest an ambivalence reminiscent of his predecessor. Supposedly, pandering to big business is the realm of Republicans but President Obama has dangerously littered the government with agribusiness pawns.

Despite being given a list of 12 qualified candidates (known as the sustainable dozen) for key positions in his administration, the President has made numerous suspect appointments to bureaus charged with protecting the public’s welfare. No, suspect is not the right word, nefarious is more accurate. The conflict of interest created by these appointments is borderline criminal, not unlike naming John Dillinger Secretary of the Treasury.

Take the President’s choice to head the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Vilsack has long been a champion of genetically modified (GM) corn and other grains. Genetically modifying corn to be more resistant to herbicides was a process developed by Monsanto in the 1970’s. But, as science has since proven, GM corn is the root cause of every e coli outbreak on record. Ever.

Vilsack has such a notorious reputation for being a puppet for agribusiness mega corporations that a satirical PSA was actually commissioned by environmentalists. That’s right, environmentalists are opposed to this Democrat. Here’s the video:

After being pummeled by his own supporters for selling out the USDA to Biotech, Obama did throw them a bone. The President named Kathleen Merrigan, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at Tufts University (and one of the sustainable dozen) as his Sustainable Foods Czar. Sure it is just a token gesture and the position is largely meaningless but it calmed the masses. At least for a while.

Another one of President Obama’s appointments was naming Michael Taylor as special assistant to the FDA Commissioner for food safety. Taylor will actually be making laws that affect the profitability of Monsanto, the primary client of his employer prior to joining the Obama administration. Before working for Monsanto, Taylor was part of the George H W Bush administration, again making policy for the FDA. Prior to that stint with the FDA, Taylor worked for Monsanto. His resume is the very definition of “conflict of interest.”

Green publication The Huffington Post has called Taylor, “The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history,” here’s what else they had to say:

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.

Now Barrack Obama is not the first President to turn the keys to the nation’s safety over to Monsanto. As mentioned above the first President Bush also employed Michael Taylor despite an obvious conflict of interest. President Bill Clinton had a troubling number of his advisers moving into lucrative positions with Monsanto once his term was over, like Marcia Hale an assistant to the President for intergovernmental relations. It’s certain that the so-called “Monsanto revolving door” is not one of Obama’s promised changes.

The President naming the head of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa Jackson, to lead the EPA has raised an eyebrow or two. Jackson does not have documented ties to big business like Taylor or Vilsack. At the same time she has shown an alarming familiarity with lobbyists even going so far as to hire corporate lobbyists like Nancy Wittenberg to work on her staff.

While most feel Jackson’s tenure with the NJDEP was marred in ineffective leadership and finger-pointing, some environmentalist groups insist that her lack of production was not her fault. Apparently the one thing that both sides agree on is that Jackson accomplished nothing during her term.

As his Surgeon General, President Obama has picked Alabama physician Regina Benjamin. Dr. Benjamin was given the assignment of helping Americans get healthier. Her work with rural, impoverished patients in the heart of Katrina country is quite noble. But the well documented fact that she accepted $10,000 from Burger King just before joining the Obama regime is understandably curious.

The money was purportedly for serving on a nutritional advisory panel with the fast food giant. There is something peculiar about the nation’s top doctor being on the payroll of a company that produces the Angry Whopper, a sandwich with 1120 calories (657 from fat), 175 mg of cholesterol, 73 grams of total fat, 25 of which are saturated, three are the heart disease causing trans fats. Oh, and let’s not forget that virtually everything Burger King sells incorporates Monsanto’s Frakencorn into it, the burgers, the buns, even the soft drinks.

Though the national media have tried to portray these appointments as positive moves, farm-to-table advocates do not share in the enthusiasm. Sure there are a handful of White House orchestrated blogs like Obama Foodorama whose job is to spin these Presidential missteps, but most have found the business-as-usual appointments disconcerting.

If the White House Kitchen Garden inspires others to plant their own then that is outstanding. Surely growing the vegetables that are used in the White House does slightly lower the burden on the over-taxed citizenry. The first lady is setting a wonderful example. And while it is a quaint idea, from the outside looking in it appears to be just another parlor trick. Clearly the President’s stance on the environment lacks transparency.

Cooking the Unthinkable: Squid Ink

Cooking the Unthinkable is a series that examines some of the more eccentric ingredients.  Whether you are a fan of the bizarre or are preparing for the eminent collapse of Western society this series will help you better stomach weird food.

When I told a friend of mine that I had purchased a kit for making Arroz con Calamares en su tinta (rice with squid in its own ink) he was perplexed.  An avid scuba diver he asked, “Isn’t the ink part of the squid’s natural defenses?” adding, “I’m not sure that’s something you should eat.”

With confidence I replied, “Sure, it’s fine.  The government wouldn’t let them sell it if it was dangerous.”

So what do I really know about squid ink?  Not much really aside from it’s popular use on Iron Chef where it’s flavor is always described as inky.  Inky?  What the hell does that mean?

I do not know where I can buy fresh squid ink in Mobile, Alabama so forgive me, my culinary brethren, for purchasing a meal-in-a-box from the international market. I followed the package directions, water boiling I emptied the bag of rice.  Nothing abnormal so far.  Then the can of squid in its own ink.

There it was!  There was the strange odor.  This was going to be different.  25 minutes later as I filled my plate I thought back to my friend’s words, “I’m not sure that’s something you should eat.”  Then my own arrogance echoed through my mind as the first forkful approached my mouth, “Sure, it’s fine.  The government wouldn’t let them sell it if it was dangerous.”  Would they?

Then I thought of Burger King.  There isn’t anything they sell that isn’t toxic to humans and the President just hired a Burger King employee as Surgeon General.  Maybe the government would let them sell something that is dangerous.  Why would squid ink be any different than tobacco or high fructose corn syrup of hydrogenated oils or farm-raised Asian shrimp?

Regardless I threw caution to the wind and took a bite.  Jinkies!  Alright, folks, you haven’t lived till you have tried squid ink.  Our whole lives we’ve been taught that there are two things that are edible, animals and plants.  Ink is neither.  Sure it is an animal-product not unlike blood or milk.  But blood and milk are different; they are life-bloods.  One figuratively the other literally.  Ink is just something animals use for self-defense, like nunchucks.  It doesn’t feed it’s young or transport oxygen to various organs.

It’s organic but neither animal nor vegetable.  And as if you needed anymore proof that we are supposed to eat animals this one comes with its own sauce.  Squid has built-in gravy.

The flavor was so rich, so earthy, so savory.  I have long known the Japanese term Umami (believed to be one of the basic tastes sensed by the human tongue).  I always thought I understood it but I didn’t.  Now, now I do.  Now I get it. I grok its fullness.

So what did it taste like?  In a word, Inky.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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