Produce stickers identifying GMO products are shown in laboratory rats to cause tumors
plu codes show genetically modifed produce

Produce stickers identify GMO products that are shown in laboratory rats to cause tumors.  Those little produce stickers with numbers on them are Price Look-Up numbering codes or PLU codes.  They ensure that the correct price is paid by consumers at check out by identifying the product type, size, where it was grown and if it was grown conventionally, organically or genetically modified.  These codes are administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS), who maintain a list of five-digit codes (which are sometimes four digits, because leading zeroes are typically not displayed) that identify qualities associated with the product.

This is the numbering system at a glance:

Conventionally grown produce: 4 numbers

Genetically modified produce: 5 numbers starting with the number 8

Organically grown produce: 5 numbers starting with the number 9

plu avocado

 If you care about your health you will want to steer clear of genetically modified foods.  Food that is genetically modified means that the original DNA structure has been changed.  It was introduced as a way to make plants more resistant to herbicides.  This way, farmers could spray their fields with herbicides killing all the weeds without affecting the crops.

A French study published on September 19, 2012 in “Food and Chemical Toxicology” shows that mice who ate genetically modified corn sprayed with weed killer were more likely to develop tumors, organ damage and die early.

Tumors in rats fed GMO corn
Tumors in rats fed GMO corn

The two-year study, revealed that rats who were fed either a diet of Monsanto’s genetically modified maize sprayed with Roundup – the company’s brand of weed killer – or drank water with levels of Roundup similar to what is found in U.S. tap water were much more likely to die.  According to the USDA Economic Research Service, as of 2011, 76 to 96 percent of corn crops in the United States have had some sort of genetic modification, depending on which state they were grown.

The study involved 200 albino Sprague-Dawley rats – 100 hundred females, 100 males. The rats where then divided into groups of 10.  Six of the groups were fed varied diets with genetically modified products. Six groups – three male and three female – were fed Monsanto GM maize with Roundup weed killer consisting of 11 percent of their diet, 22 percent or 33 percent. Six other groups were given Monsanto GM maize in the same percentage amounts, but had no Roundup sprayed on them. Another six groups were given Roundup weed killer in their water similar to the levels found in U.S. tap water.

The remaining two groups acted as control groups and were fed non-genetically modified maize and water without Roundup weed killer.

The results showed that female rats were two to three times more likely to die than the control group. Fifty percent of the males and 70 percent of the females eating Monsanto GM maize died earlier compared to 30 percent of males and 20 percent of females not eating genetically modified products. Female rats seemed to be more negatively affected by genetically modified corn diets whether it was sprayed with Roundup or not.

Tumors were late-developing, large mammary tumors, and the affected rats suffered from severe liver and kidney damage. The tumors did not metastasize or spread to other body parts, but were so large they blocked organ function in the rats.

There is a new kind of genetically modified crop under the brand name of “Enlist”. It has opponents pushing U.S. regulators to scrutinize the product more closely and reject an application by Dow AgroSciences to roll out its herbicide-resistant seeds.

The corn has been genetically engineered to be immune to 2, 4-D, an ingredient used in Agent Orange that could pose a serious threat to human health. Approval by the United States Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency would allow farmers to spray it without damaging their crops, boosting profits to Dow AgroSciences.

The scientific community has sounded alarms about the dangers of 2, 4-D for decades.     “Numerous studies link 2, 4-D exposure to major health problems such as cancer, lowered sperm counts, liver toxicity and Parkinson’s disease. Lab studies show that 2, 4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression.”

Some farmers have argued that the new herbicide, a combination of 2, 4-D and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s bestselling Roundup weed killer, is necessary to combat weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate alone.  However, glyphosate is also under public scrutiny in the wake of scientific findings that demonstrate this chemical to cause birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals. Health professionals contend that 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4-D), an ingredient in the Vietnam War-era defoliant that’s been blamed for public health problems both during and after the war, poses its own risks.

So the next time you are shopping for produce, you might want to pay attention to those PLU codes on the little stickers.  Unfortunately the use of PLU codes is optional so many produce items don’t have them.  If genetically modified food suppliers think consumers won’t knowingly by their food, they can just eliminate the use of the sticker all together.

Purchase only items that are specifically labeled as “Organic” or SUDA certified as “100% organic” (which cannot by law be produced from GMOs) or with produce stickers starting with the number 9 to be sure you are avoiding genetically modified produce.


Birthday Celebrations

A loved ones birthday is always a special day. Have you ever thought about what makes birthdays so special?  When you think about it, they’re a great opportunity for friends and family to get together and celebrate the birth of those people who are near and dear to our hearts.  Add to that, a great meal to share with each other and you have a worthwhile gathering. Growing up, my Mother would ask me and my sisters every year what we wanted for our birthday dinner.  We would always request something that we relished, like lobster or steak.  Year after year she made us feel overwhelmingly special on our birthdays by carrying out this practice.

This week a good friend had a birthday.  Keeping with the tradition, I asked her what her favorite meal is.  “Steak” was her enthusiastic reply.  That is how this birthday meal began.  One by one, menu items were added to complete the perfect meal designed just for her.

2003 Dom Perignon

We got the party started with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon and a birthday toast.  For dinner, we started with the classic steak-house wedge salad with blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon.  Filet Mignon was the main attraction.  It was wrapped in bacon and cooked to a medium-rare temperature then topped with a gremolata (garlic, parsley and lemon) compound butter.

Compound Butter GremolataFrom:
Print Recipe
Gremolata is an Italian garnish of raw, finely chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest. It is usually sprinkled over slow-cooked braised meats, as in the Italian dish osso bucco, but it also makes a good garnish for grilled fish or chicken. Here, we are adding it to butter to make a compound butter for grilled steaks.
Servings Prep Time
4 5minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 5minutes
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Turn it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a tube about 1 inch in diameter. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use, slice off 1/2 inch piece and add to hot steaks while resting.
Recipe Notes

This compound butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.  Use it as needed to add flavor to steaks, fish, pork, chicken, or use it to cook omelettes.

© Galley Chef All Rights Reserved

great wine

The steak was paired with asparagus and creamy hollandaise sauce and a big bold 2004 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon.  For dessert, the cake was brought out, we sang “Happy Birthday” and  a wish was made.  The cake was a rich, dark chocolate sachertorte with raspberry filling and whipped almond cream flowers.

Print Recipe
Dark chocolate and raspberries come together to make this dense cake a sensational hit among chocolate fanatics.
Servings Prep Time
12 20minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
12 20minutes
Cook Time
Rasberry filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350n degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan. In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. In a mixer, using a wire whisk, whip the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in the chocolate mixture.
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 2/3 cups of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in the flour to the chocolate mixture and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into at a time until it's thoroughly incorporated. Pour into prepared cake pan.
  3. Bake for 35 miinutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife or toothpick in the center of the cake. It should come out dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
To make the raspberry filling
  1. Puree the raspberry preserves in a food processor and stir in the liquor.
  2. After the cake has cooled, slice it horizontally into 3 equal layers. S
  3. Spread half of the raspberry filling on the bottom layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread the remaining raspberry filling and top with the last layer of cake. Chill for an hour.
To make the frosting
  1. In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double-boiler. Bring the cream to a boil. Sitr into the melted chocolate. Cool until it reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around the cake. Chill for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Recipe Notes

Eduard Sacher completed his culinary training in Vienna with the Royal and Imperial Pastry Chef at the Demel bakery and chocolatier, during which time he perfected his father's sachertorte recipe. The cake was first served at the Demel and later at the Hotel Sacher, established by Eduard in 1876. Since then, the cake remains among the most famous of Vienna's culinary specialties.

© Galley Chef All Rights Reserved

Nancy showing appreciation

It is a privilege and an honor to be asked to celebrate a birthday with a friend.  This is one birthday celebration that will undoubtedly go down in my book as one of the most memorable.

Pork Bung or Calamari?

What are you really getting in a restaurant when you order Calamari?

Pork bung and its doppelganger calamari have been gaining notoriety all across the country.  Pork bung is used as imitation calamari.  Put them next to each other and eat them in a blind taste test, and most people would never be able to tell the difference between the two. Pork bung, also known as pork chitterlings, and familiar to many in China as a late night snack, is pig rectum or a pig’s large intestine.

pig intestines[1]

It has a pungent urine smell when it’s fresh, however, most wholesalers will have it cleaned and bleached before packaging it. It usually comes in a tube, uncut. Before cooking, you cut across so that it’s like little rings, just like calamari.

In restaurants everywhere, right this second, people are squeezing lemon wedges over crispy, golden, rings, dipping the rings into marinara sauce, and they’re eating hog rectum. Now they’re chewing — satisfied and deeply clueless. It’s payback for our blissful ignorance about where our food comes from and how it gets to us.

There have been rumors about a multi-state pork processing company selling pig rectum – referred to, by the industry, as “bung” – as imitation calamari. Dozens of experts could not shoot down the possibility that people are ordering squid and getting pork bung instead.  Dozens of Chefs have served plates of fried bung next to a plate of fried calamari. No one could tell the difference.

Seafood fraud is becoming more and more common.  A recent study by Oceana found the act of seafood fraud has been uncovered both in the United   States and abroad at levels ranging from 25 to more than 70 percent for commonly swapped species such as red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod. Oceana collected more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. DNA testing found that one-third (33 percent) of the 1,215 samples analyzed nationwide were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Samples sold as snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87 and 59 percent, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified by DNA analysis as something other than what was found on the label. Only seven of the 120 samples of red snapper purchased nationwide were actually red snapper. The other 113 samples were another fish. Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean sea bass were also mislabeled between 19 and 38 percent of the time, while salmon was mislabeled 7 percent of the time.

If you think you can tell the difference– or that you’re safe when visiting a reputable sushi or seafood joint – think again.

Oceana found that 44 percent of all the retail outlets visited sold mislabeled fish. Restaurants, grocery stores and sushi venues all sold mislabeled fish and chances of being swindled varied greatly depending on where the seafood was purchased.

“Our study identified strong national trends in seafood mislabeling levels among retail types, with sushi venues ranking the highest (74 percent), followed by restaurants (38 percent) and then grocery stores (18 percent). These same trends among retail outlets were generally observed at the regional level,” Oceana said in their summary report.


So the next time you are in the mood for calamari, try making it yourself, using fresh squid from your local fish monger, it’s easy.  See the “fried calamari” recipe in our GalleyChef blog.