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  Genetically Modified Sugarbeets Coming Soon to a Store Near You
  Organic Really IS Better (as if we didn't know)

On Richmond Hill, Nov. 26, 2011
At the Saturday Village Market organic farmers market at the Toronto Waldorf School we like to create a warm friendly atmosphere. That's why we have tables where you can sit down and enjoy our wide selection of healthy ready to eat cafe foods, and listen to live acoustic music. We're always looking for new artists to perform, and this Saturday we look forward to the return of Sonja Frebold and her family. This photo is from the last time they played at the Market. Of course our fresh local organic greens and sprouts are another big reason to get up on a Saturday morning and come out to the Market. We're open 8:30 to 1:30, downstairs at the Toronto Waldorf School, 9100 Bathurst Street, one light south of Rutherford Rd.

Waldorf News, Nov. 24, 2011
The fall season from the start of school up until Christmas has traditionally been the strongest part of the Village Market year. It's the time when we've got the most vendors and the most customers. So now's the time to get that full strength Market buzz, not to mention local organic baby greens and local greenhouse sprouts, AND all the organic meats, storage vegetables, fruits and juices you can eat. Oh, and not to forget live music, and ready to eat meals that are healthier and (dare I say it?) probably better than most area restaurants.

On Richmond Hill, Nov. 19, 2011
The Village Market organic farmers market carries on all winter while seasonal markets close. Winter attractions include baby greens such as spinach (see picture). Amazingly farmer Jim Giffen is able to grow some of these greens in unheated greenhouses all winter long. Also special this Saturday is the Toronto Waldorf School's Arts and Crafts Fair (9 to 6). The Village Market is open 8:30 to 1:30 pm in the lower level of the school, which is at 9100 Bathurst Street, one light south of Rutherford Rd.

WW: Arts and Crafts Fair Saturday -- Nov. 19, 2011
This Saturday when many of you will be at the school for the Arts and Crafts fair, take a little detour down to the lower gym and check out the Village Market, before we close at 1:30 pm. We're there every Saturday of course, all year round, 8:30 to 1:30. Over the next few months farmer Jim Giffen's local organic baby greens will be the star attraction. But of course there are also several tasty AND healthy choices for lunch ranging from raw vegan to Carribean to omelettes and crepes. And there's live music as well, this time with Gaia's children Tao, Kahala and Zoe. For full details, see

On-Farm Open Houses -- June 14, 2011
Last Sunday new Village Market farmer Jim Giffen and his wife Maureen held an open house at their family farm near Minnesing. More than 400 people came out for the occasion, to tour the fields and greenhouses and admire the newborn baby animals. But if you missed it, all is not lost. Next month another Village Market farmer, Mike Lanigan, will be having an open house at his farm near Uxbridge. The date for that will be Sunday July 10th at 2 pm. This Saturday at the Market raw food chef Francesco Comito will be returning from a month's absence, and will be featuring his new line of ready to eat raw prepared foods.

Meeting the Neighbours -- June 6, 2011
Last Sunday the Village Market gave out free organic cookies at The Healthy Living Show at the North Thornhill Community Centre, located in the Thornhill Woods development immediately west of TWS. Throughout the day there was a steady flow of interested people, many of whom had seen the signs for the Village Market but had never ventured in. Many people enjoyed the 500 cookies we gave out, which were from baker Vitold Kreutzer, and were surprised to learn that they could only be obtained at the Village Market. All in all it was a worthwhile opportunity to make connections with our local audience. As famers’ markets proliferate across the GTA, it makes more sense for people to go to a Market that's nearby rather than drive half way across the city to come here

Note for On Richmond Hill -- May 24, 2011
It's bedding plant bonanza time at the Village Market. All through May and into the first couple weeks of June we expect to have a good selection of heritage and organic tomato, herb and lettuce transplants for your garden from two different vendors -- Linda Kapeleris, from Queensville and Urban Harvest, from Toronto. The Village Market is a year round organic farmers market open Saturdays only from 8:30 to 1:30. The Market is located in the lower level of the Toronto Waldorf School at 9100 Bathurst Street, on light south of Rutherford Rd. Weekly updates at

New Farmer at the Market -- May 26, 2011
We've got a new farmer at the Village Market and he's BIO-DYNAMIC. As you may know, Bio-Dynamic is to farming as Waldorf is to education. New farmer Henk Verhoeven hails from Grand Valley Ontario where he raises grass-fed beef and produce. He'll be at the Market this Saturday next to Daniel Steinbrenner's honey table. In other news, bedding plants continue to do boffo business at the Market in recent weeks. Don't forget to come by and get yours. We've got heritage and organic tomatoes, lettuces and herbs of all kinds from Linda Kapeleris (Queensville) and Urban Harvest (Toronto). For weekly updates, see:

Rain didn't keep people away -- May 17, 2011
Lots of people came out on a rainy day last Saturday to get bedding plants - tomato, herb and lettuce transplants - to take home and plant in their own gardens. Bedding plant bonanza will be on again this week at the Market and all through May and into June, so if you haven't been out yet to get yours, there's still time. Tried some buckwheat honey from new beekeeper Daniel Steinbrenner this week, after Mike Lanigan told me he had gone through a jar in one week, and yum, it's especially great tasting honey. BTW Mike has had two of his scheduled apprentices back out at the last moment so if you know of any young people who want to learn how to grow organic veggies this summer, Mike could sure use some help getting plants in the ground. More:

Bedding Plant Bonanza -- May 10, 2011
Last Saturday was the start of bedding plant bonanza at the Village Market with two, count 'em, two, growers of bedding transplants such as tomatoes, lettuce and herbs, in attendance, hawking their wares. The two farmers in question were Linda Kapeleris, who we mentioned in this space last week, AND Urban Harvest (from Toronto), back at the last moment, for a surprise return engagement. Both growers plan to be here all through May and into June. What more sign do you need that now is the time to plant that garden you've always dreamed of. Full vendor lineup:

Bedding Plants Mark the True Start of Spring -- May 7, 2011
Nothing marks the start of spring like the arrival of bedding plants, including heritage organic tomatoes and herbs, all ready to transplant into your garden at home. This Saturday May 7th will be the big day when farmer Linda Kapeleris brings her first truck load of bedding plants to sell at the Village Market. Linda has been doing this for many years now. Angelo Kapeleris, Linda's husband, is the guy who's almost always here selling olives, olive oil and feta cheese.

Children's wear, honey and wild leeks -- April 26, 2011
In recent weeks the Market has been featuring children's clothing from My Child My Self and European-style children's shoes from Magma Trade. Both these vendors are located upstairs in the TWS lobby. They generated a lot of interest at the Gateways weekend a couple of weeks ago. In other news, our beekeeper Daniel Steinbrenner continues to do well in the hallway across from baker, Vitold Kreutzer. Wild leeks made their debut last week at Sylis' juice table, and farmers Mike Lanigan and Jim Giffen will have more and more fresh greens as spring waxes warmer. Nutrition and gardening teacher Eva Cabaca will be at the Market this week with ready to eat foods, and Mrs. Abbas will be there too with her ready-to-eat Indian-style organic foods. More:

Looking forward to gardening -- April 19, 2011
In a couple of weeks the Village Market will be welcoming back Linda Kapeleris who will have bedding plants like tomatoes and herbs, all ready for transplanting into your own organic garden. Look forward to that. But in the meanwhile the Market farmers continue to keep us supplied with fresh greens from unheated greenhouses as well as a full range of local and imported veggies and fruit. And yes, this year we've even still got apple cider, which we didn't have last year at this time. For a full rundown of who's who among the market vendors this week, see:

Village Market a celebrity destination -- last Saturday famous actor Edward Norton was spotted getting an omelette and hanging out at the Village Market at the Toronto Waldorf School. The folks who noticed him didn't spread the word, and so he was able to enjoy his anonymity for the most part. A couple of years ago, it was Lord of the Rings actress Liv Tyler who made a splash at the market one summer day when she was in town for filming. It must say something about the Market that folks like these take the time and trouble to come all the way up here from downtown when there's so much else to see and do in the big city. But you don't have to be famous to shop for your organic greens, meats and lunches at the Village Market. We're open 8:30 to 1:30 Saturdays only in the Toronto Waldorf School at 9100 Bathurst St., one light south of Rutherford Rd. For a list of vendors see:

Garry Tibbo speaks -- April 2011
Learn about sustainable living from Garry Tibbo, a native expert on urban gardening and appropriate technologies for shelter, food growing, wild foraging, and food storage.Thursday evening April 21st at 7 pm in the Toronto Waldorf School music room. Sponsored by the Village Market. $20

What Sustainable Means -- April 14, 2011
Sustainable living means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Next Thursday evening at 7 pm in the music room, the Village Market presents a talk by Garry Tibbo, who is someone who has explored the subject in depth. The yard of Garry Etobicoke bungalow is one big urban garden. Garry grows and forages a big part of the food his family eats, so much so that his food bill for food he buys is around $25 a week year round. Garry has also researched and experimented with low-tech solutions to things like water filtration, greenhouse growing, and food storage. Come out and hear what Garry has to teach. $20. In early May the market will feature bedding plants for your garden, so Garry's talk will be just in time for the start of gardening season. For info on vendors this week at the Market, see:

Native Wisdom -- April 5, 2011
Native survival expert and Qi Gong master Garry Tibbo will give an evening lecture on Sustainable Living, April 21 at 7 pm in the music room, sponsored by the Village Market. For decades, Garry has been growing ridiculous amounts of food in his regular suburban yard in Etobicoke, using organic methods. He's also knowledgeable on the health benefits of common plants and trees and will also be sharing thatl in his talk on the 21st of April. Fee for the evening: $20. At the Market we have a new vendor, Franka, who makes savoury pies and other dishes to take home and eat -- with organic ingredients, of course. For our full slate of vendors this week see:

Eat your Spinach -- March 29, 2011
Farmers Mike Lanigan and Jim Giffen are supplying the Market with fresh local greenhouse spinach and other greens to keep us healthy through the long winter, not to mention Elisabeth Foers and her organic sprouts. But of course the best food of all is food that you grow yourself and on Thursday April 21, at 7 pm, the Market will be presenting an evening with Garry Tibbo on the topic of sustainable living. Garry has been an assiduous student of the subject for decades now and will draw on his native heritage as well as his practical experience and book learning, to share with us the current state of his thoughts on things like gardening, foraging, and appropriate technology. Fee for the evening $20. For more info on vendors at this week's market see

Here's the Beef -- March 12, 2011
This Saturday March 12th at the Village Market farmer Mike Lanigan will be selling all cuts of fresh beef, from what he's predicting will be a tender animal. Also special this week will be body ecology fermented foods from Olga Ullmann. The full complement of cafe vendors will be back too, so if you're looking for a healthy and inexpensive place to eat out for lunch on Sunday, you can't beat the Village Market, whether your preference is raw vegan, omelette with bacon, Indian-style, or Carribean, we've got them all. Full vendor line-up:

Unheated Greenhouses -- March 5, 2011
It's March and Village Market customers have been feasting all winter on local organic greenhouse greens, many of which grow in local UNHEATED greenhouses, amazing as that seems. Saturday mornings only, 8:30 to 1:30. Learn more:

Welcome Back -- Feb 26, 2011
This Saturday February 26th the Village Market welcomes back Steve and Cecille from their Carribean vacation. Steve and Cecille run a cafe table at the back of the purple carpet area featuring Carribean-style entrees and desserts. Also returning after a prolonged absence will be farmer Achim Mohssem-Beyk, from Prince Edward County. Achim has been visiting China since early January. Eva Cabaca will also be back at the Market this week after several weeks away, but as far as we know, she hadn't left the GTA. For a full listing of this week's vendors see:

Doors Open Vaughan for Village Market's 20th -- Feb 19, 2011
This coming October will mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Village Market in 1991. So it's fitting that on October 1st, 2011 the Village Market will be participating for the first time in Doors Open Vaughan. This should be an excellent opportunity for new people from our own neighbourhood and beyond, to discover the Village Market, and tour the many other participating initiatives on campus. For who's who at the Market this week, see:

The Hunny Tree -- Feb 12, 2011
The Village Market's new beekeeper, Daniel Steinbrenner, has been getting a strong response from customers, after having been here a mere three or four weeks. Daniel's family looks after some 600 hives near Hillsdale Ontario (north of Barrie). Farmer Mike Lanigan particularly enjoys their buckwheat honey, because of the the strong flavour. But they have other kinds too. And you can get it in pails or jars, whichever kind of hunny your particular "Pooh bear" prefers. Full details of this week's vendor line-up here:

Shoehorn this in -- Feb 5, 2011
The Village Market is pleased to welcome a few new vendors for 2011. Former TWS kindergarten teacher Heather Church of My Child My Self is at the Market most weeks selling Waldorf-style children's clothing, as well as toys and such from Hestia Global, Philippe and Karen's Waldorf toy store in Aurora. Also new in the children's clothing department is Pierre from Magma, who sells european style children's shoes -- now that's something we've never had at the Market before. For a full list of our vendor lineup for this open house weekend, see:

Fresh Organic Baby Greens -- January 29, 2011
Fresh local organic baby greens from new farmer Jim Giffen continue to be a major attraction at the Village Market this winter, along with fresh sprouts and wheat grass from Elizabeth Foers. Plus of course we've got organic meats, breads, eggs, vegetables and fruits, plus special ingredients for raw food diets, three cafe vendors, and live music, this week from Ben Tersigni. Full details here at:

Apprenticeship Opportunities -- January 22, 2011
The young man in the photo, standing in the jerusalem artichoke patch at Mike Lanigan's farm is Jaime Milne, one of farmer Mike Lanigan's apprentices from last summer. Before starting at Mike's, Jaime had just completed his Master's degree in Ecology at Waterloo and was looking for some hands on agricultural experience to round out his education. Jamie's partner Sasha, who was also one of Mike's apprentices last year, was just finishing her Master's in Plant Science at McGill.

But you don't need a university degree to apprentice at an organic farm. At the Village Market we have two organic farmers who are looking to take on apprentices for the 2011 growing season. Both farmers -- Mike Lanigan, and Jim Giffen -- are affiliated with the C.R.A.F.T. Ontario program, which provides a formal educational component to the apprenticeship with one-day-a-week get togethers at participating farms, at which the host farmer provides instruction on some aspect of farming or gardening that he or she is especially skilled at.

Talk to Mike or Jim if you know someone who might be interested in learning how to grow food. For more information on the C.R.A.F.T. program read this website:

New Farmers -- January 15, 2011
Last week started off 2011 with a bang, as record crowds (for January) descended on the Market, mostly looking for food. Also last week, new farmer (as of October) Jim Giffen introduced a new type of green to his selection of organic greenhouse greens. The new green is called Claytonia, also known as miners lettuce. According to Jim "it loves the cooler weather and looks practically dead all summer until about October when it starts to green up a bit and then really begins to grow during the cold winter months until about March and then it goes dormant again." Jim gave me some to try about ten o'clock. It was tasty, with a little more tang than the baby lettuce and spinach, but when I went back a couple hours later to buy some, it was all gone. Jim said he'd be back with a bigger supply next week, which of course is now this week. I don't know about you, but this Saturday I know I'm getting mine early! Also this Saturday we welcome new biodynamic beef farmer Henk Vanderheuven, as well as Daniel, a new beekeeper. Full details on vendors this week: May you eat well.

Welcome Back -- January 8th
After being closed for two Saturdays the Village Market reopens January 8th with a full slate of vendors. Farmer Achim Mohssem-Beyk will be there with meats and vegetables from his farm in Prince Edward county January 8th, but that's the last we'll see of him until March because he's going on holiday to China for two months. Oli Ullman will be there with body ecology fermented foods, and Mrs. Abbas will have a table to sell ready to eat Indian foods and chutneys and to promote her cooking classes which start January 15th. For a full list of vendors expected at the Market this week go to:

Even More Bedding Plants -- May 8th, 2010
Last week was one of the busiest Markets in recent memory. And this week promises to continue the trend as Urban Harvest joins Linda Kapeleris with bedding plants. Last week Linda had tomato transplants from her greenhouse in addition to the lettuce we've been seeing for some weeks. On the fresh local greens scene, Mike Lanigan has fresh picked spinach leaves and Elizabeth Foers has a wide array of fresh local sprouts. And this week Oli Ullmann will be at the Market with body ecology style fermented foods. See who else will be there:

Bedding Plants return -- May 1, 2010
Bedding plants return in a big way as local organic farmer Linda Kapeleris makes her spring of 2010 debut at the Market this week. And next week, May 8th, we're having a workshop on how to cut up a chicken into pieces... like drumsticks, breasts, wings and so on. Talk to Achim Mohssem-Beyk if you're interested. The cost is only $25 -- and that includes the chicken! For a full listing of vendors expected this week at the Market, check the "This Week" page at

Dining out in York Region -- April 24, 2010
When I think of excellent places to eat out in York Region I come up with a very short list -- because my number one criterion is organic ingredients. That's why going out for lunch Saturdays at the Village Market is my number one choice. And I'm there anyway shopping for my direct-from-the-farmer organic veggies. And I wouldn't be "biased" -- Richard Chomko, market manager. For a full list of who's who and who's there this week at the Village Market, see our website:

Spring Greens Already -- April 10, 2010
Farmer Mike Lanigan already has local greenhouse spinach leaves while Farmer Angelo Kapeleris is starting to bring bedding plants for your garden at home. In other farmer news, Deer Valley Farms venison is now "halal". Berkey water purifier guy Mike Klemerow is back with more Berkeys, plus something new -- ask him about it. I've been using my Berkey for over a year now! Mayda Baghboudrian will be back at the cafe after her vacation last week with her usual range of raw entrees. In recent years, the Village Market has becomeTHE place to eat raw in York Region -- Richard Chomko, manager
For a complete listing of who's here this week, check the "This Week" page of our website:

Introduction to the Market for Gateways Conference Participants -- March 3, 2010
The Village Market is an organic farmer's market located in the lower level of the Toronto Waldorf School on Saturday mornings. The market was founded in 1991 as a fund raising initiative for the school and currently contributes in excess of $20,000 a year towards the school's operations. While you're at the AWSNA conference, why not drop by the market to check out the scene. In addition to fresh local organic produce from area farmers, we feature live music and a sit-down cafe, with several raw, vegetarian, and Carribean style cafe vendors to choose from. See you there!

Liv Tyler Shops at Village Market

September 29th, 2007

“It's Liv Tyler, the girl from Lord of the Rings, she's here at the Market”, said Charlotte Hodgkins excitedly. At first I didn't catch the name and thought she was referring to the Toronto stage production, but Charlotte repeated it and eventually I clued in. And as I looked at the tall thin dark haired woman standing waiting for her crepe, I thought, yeah that could be Liv Tyler.

The young people working at the Market were all abuzz with the news. “I took money out of her hand” said Tamar, who works as a cashier for farmer Mike Lanigan. Austin McQuaite, who also works for Mike, concluded that since Liv Tyler shops here, “the Market now has street cred”. And Miles Lanigan, Mike's teenage son, declared that this was the coolest thing to happen at the Market since he caught a trout in the creek here several years back. Charlotte told Ed Crabtree, who was playing guitar at the Market to play some Aerosmith, because Liv's dad was the lead singer for that band.

As Barbara Ehrenreich wrote years ago in Mother Jones magazine “Knowledge of the stars is western culture”. So as a self-declared student of Cultural Studies I should really pay closer attention to those ever-changing constellations than I do, but at least I did know who Liv Tyler was. And although I saw Lord of the Rings, I don't especially connect her with that film. I associate her more with the movie Empire Records and the cover story in GQ magazine from many years back. In fact, Liv is one of the few movie stars I've really taken much of an interest in.

I was sitting at a table chatting with Austin's dad, as is my wont on Saturday mornings, while Liv was making her rounds, buying stuff from a lot of different vendors. Eventually I decided I should go and speak to her. She said she was in town filming the Incredible Hulk. She heard about the Market from a magazine. She politely declined my offer to sit down for a while and chat. Her child was out in the parking lot with the nanny, so she didn't want her shopping to take too long. I suggested that since she had a child she should know about Waldorf education. She knew that there was a Waldorf school in New York and that it was at the other end of town from where she lived. We talked some more before I let her get back to her shopping. Later I saw her back wandering around the Market with her child and heard from Gaille Lieberthal that she and her child had been out to the playground in the forest.

As Rebecca Wylie, another of Mike's teenage helpers said, “She's just like a regular person.”.



Ten years ago I asked Doctor Chris Hassel why he ate organic. He told me it was because "just about everything else out there is genetically modified". As the years roll by that observation is verified by news story after news story. Sugar Beets are the latest. Check out this story (below) that was brought to our attention by Village Market farmer and vendor Gaille Lieberthal. Thanks Gaille!

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SUGAR TO HIT STORES IN 2008 (scroll to the bottom of this page to take action) Background Information: American Crystal, a large Wyoming-based sugar company and several other leading U.S. sugar providers have announced they will be sourcing their sugar from genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets beginning this year and arriving in stores in 2008. Like GE corn and GE soy, products containing GE sugar will not be labeled as such.

Since half of the granulated sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, a move towards biotech beets marks a dramatic alteration of the U.S. food supply. These sugars, along with GE corn and soy, are found in many conventional food products, so consumers will be exposed to genetically engineered ingredients in just about every non-organic multiple-ingredient product they purchase.

The GE sugar beet is designed to withstand strong doses of Monsanto's controversial broad spectrum Roundup herbicide. Studies indicate farmers planting "Roundup Ready" corn and soy spray large amounts of the herbicide, contaminating both soil and water. Farmers planting GE sugar beets are told they may be able to apply the herbicide up to five times per year. Sugar beets are grown on 1.4 million acres by 12,000 farmers in the U.S. from Oregon to Minnesota.

Meanwhile candy companies like Hershey's are urging farmers not to plant GE sugar beets, noting that consumer surveys suggest resistance to the product. In addition the European Union has not approved GE sugar beets for human consumption.

To send a letter to the president of the American Crystal Sugar Company, click here:

  BREAKING NEWS: IT'S OFFICIAL: Organic really is better

THE biggest study into organic food has found it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help lengthen people's lives.

The evidence from the $27million four-year European Union-funded project should end years of debate and is likely to overturn official advice that eating organic food is a lifestyle choice and that there is no clear evidence that it is “more nutritious than other food”.

The study will be peer reviewed and published over the next 12 months. But already one conclusion is clear: organically produced crops and dairy milk usually contain more “beneficial compounds” - such as vitamins and antioxidants believed to help to combat disease.

Nutritionist and spokesperson for Australia’s largest organic body, the Biological Farmers of Australia, Shane Heaton, welcomed the study, saying, “This adds to the growing body of evidence from around the world that organic produce not only contains less of the things you don’t need, but also more of the things you do need in your diet.”

“Of course, organic consumers have known this for years,” Heaton adds. “This latest research should help everyone else, including some of our leading official advisory bodies, to be better informed and catch up with the organic movement.”

The study found that organic fruit and vegetables contained between 20 and 40 per cent more antioxidants, which scientists believe can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease, Australia's biggest killers. They also had higher levels of vitamin C and beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.

Carlo Leifert, co-ordinator of the EU-funded project, said the health benefits were so striking that moving to organic food was the equivalent of eating an extra portion of fruit and vegetables every day.

"If you have just 20 per cent more antioxidants in every portion of vegetables, then it's simply a question of maths - eating four portions of organic fruit and vegetables is the equivalent to eating five portions of traditional fruit and vegetables," he said.

Researchers grew fruit and vegetables and reared cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites on a 293ha farm at Newcastle University, plus other sites in Europe.

“Organic food isn’t a luxury,” says Heaton, “It’s how food is meant to be.”

Further details:
- The new study shows that organic milk has 60 to 80 per cent more nutrients in the summer than conventional milk, and 50 to 60 per cent more in the winter.
- Organic milk also has higher levels of vitamin E.
- Organic cheese can have up to twice as many nutrients than conventional varieties.
- Organic tomatoes, wheat, potatoes, cabbage, onions and wheat have 20 to 40 per cent more antioxidants than conventional fruit and vegetables.
- Organic spinach and cabbage have been found to have more minerals, including iron, copper and zinc.

Also visit:


Photo below: Fran Earle, founder of Molly B’s Gourmet Kitchen spreads the word on great tasting gluten-free organic food. Fran is a former stockbroker who is now investing in healthy futures (for people who eat her products). According to Fran, gluten intolerance is widespread, though many of the people who suffer from it have yet to be formally diagnosed.

  Note: The article below was published in the Summer 2006 issue of Human Spirit Magazine  
  Bread of Life and Death

What does it mean when common basic foods like wheat which have sustained humankind for eons are now being implicated in allergic and even anaphlactic reactions?

I should start by making it clear that I claim no professional health expertise, that my information comes from talking to people and backing it up with a bit of reading on the internet. I manage the Village Market at the Toronto Waldorf School and in the course of my work at that organic market I run into people who have taken many different “paths less travelled” in their quest for personal health, and survival. So I'm writing this as a kind of “heads up” to flag your interest. Don't take this as gospel, do your own research.

Fran Earle is one of the vendors at our market. She's often tells stories of doing demos at upscale food venues like Pusateri's and Whole Foods and of having such a rousing response among the customers that it inevitably awakens the store's management to the fact that there are a lot of people out there among their customers base for whom gluten intolerance is a huge issue.

And while the sad news is that so many people can no longer eat the traditional staples of life such as wheat and most breads, the consolation prize is that through her company Molly B's, Fran has used her culinary ingenuity to come up with a whole line of products which are totally gluten free and which also taste really good.

Which is really good news because from what I've so far heard and read, the only known “treatment” for gluten intolerance (a.k.a. Celiac disease) is a gluten-free diet. But thanks to Fran and Molly B's that need not mean tasteless gruel.

So how bad is it for the gluten intolerant?

The story I'm getting is that there's an inherited genetic component which is triggered or activated by a stress factor and that the condition is a type of auto-immune dysfuction. As for prevalence, the figure I've seen is 1 person in 133.

A person who is gluten intolerant will suffer damage to the villii of the small intestine when they eat foods containing gluten. As I understand it, the villii are tiny nutrient-absorbing finger-like protrusions on the inside wall of the small intestine.

The further result will be that the damaged villii will then be less able to absorb nutrients and the person will experience malnutrition. Although the classic outer form of this condition is an emaciated wasting-away kind of look, Fran Earle tells me there is also a “fat” type of gluten intolerant person, which is less commonly diagnosed because health professionals are less aware of this possibility.

Fran's awareness of her own condition began with a 2001 visit to New York City to ground zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Centre had been. By the time she got back to Toronto, her eyes had started burning and she stopped eating for two weeks. Then she started to crave bread. But when she ate the bread, she became violently ill. At one point she even stopped breathing (from what she later realized was anaphlactic shock) and might have died had her husband Michael not been able to give her a form of Shiatsu first aid. When, after these reactions, Michael first suggested that maybe she was gluten intolerant she couldn't accept the possibility. But later, when she did try going on a gluten free diet she not only felt a lot better and had more energy, but she also lost 40 or 50 lbs. So, the silver lining in all this is that not only has Fran learned how to keep herself healthy, she doesn't need expensive instruments to test for traces of gluten in food products. She can tell by her own body's reaction whether a food is contaminated with traces of gluten.

How do I know if I'm gluten intolerant?

Because the symptoms are so varied, gluten intolerance is not easy to diagnose. Often it is mistaken for other problems such as Crohn's Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Sometimes the symptions are attributed to hypochondria. One way of testing is to go on a gluten-free diet and see if you feel better.

Avoiding Gluten

It's not easy. Gluten is not only in wheat, but also in other grains like spelt and kamut. Wheat is also used as a stabilizing agent in a wide range of processed foods including ice cream, jam, milk products, flavourings and colourings. Even steaks in restaurants are sometimes dusted with wheat flour.

Contamination from being processed in the same facility as gluten-containing foods can make foods which in themselves do not contain gluten, harmful or dangerous to gluten-intolerant people. Gluten intolerance is often not well understood by those who do not have personal experence with the problem and thus products advertised as gluten free may not really be totally free of contamination.

Learn More

Obviously I can't cover all the relevant material in this brief article. If you'd like to learn more, check out the websites of the Gluten Intolerance Group ( and the Canadian Celiac Association ( for a start. If you'd like to try some gluten-free foods, Molly B's products (including things like crepe mix) are available at the Village Market, Saturdays from 8:30 to 1:30 ( The Village Market is primarily a year round organic farmers market featuring fresh organic produce. We are located in the Toronto Waldorf School at 9100 Bathurst St., Thornhill. Fran's website is:

Richard Chomko

  October 27th Market News  
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