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Articles from 2000 In September

Delicious Living

October 1, 2000

Cleaning & Storing Mushrooms

Most varieties of mushrooms are cleaned and stored in the same fashion: Store on a plate or tray, lightly covered with cloth, or in an open paper bag. Don't wrap them too tightly or they'll spoil quickly.

Fresh mushrooms need only be quickly and carefully rinsed immediately prior to cooking. They are extremely absorbent and take on a great deal of water if soaked, thereby diluting their flavors.

Dried mushrooms need to be well-rinsed, then rehydrated by soaking them in liquid such as water, broth or wine. Make sure to drain them well, avoiding the grit at the bottom of the soaking liquid, and use the broth in a sauce or stock. Trim all stems and save for stock.

Mushroom Varieties


Texture: Honeycombed and cone-shaped with a hollow stem. The texture is perfect for absorbing sauces.

Taste: Delicately wild, smoky mushroom and nut flavor, adapts to other ingredients. Perfect in sauces; for a decadent experience, simmer in cream until reduced and serve over pasta.


Texture: A variation of the common white mushroom, the texture is much the same. Portobellos are more dense due to slight drying through the open gills. These gills may be removed to avoid a dark color in any dish.

Taste: Criminis are slightly more intense in flavor than the common mushroom, while portobellos can be much richer. The portobello is sturdy and can be grilled or sautéed whole or in slices to create delectable entrees. They are perfect for stuffing.


Texture: The thin flesh of the trumpet-shaped chanterelle is lightly meaty and also delicate. Like most mushrooms, they vary in size.

Taste: Slightly spicy, mildly mushroomy with a hint of fruit. They are delicate and go well with other vegetables, eggs, chicken and fish.


Texture: This tiny mushroom has a slightly crunchy long stem and delicate small cap.

Taste: A hint of sweet with very delicate mushroom flavoring. Often used as garnish in salads or soups.


Texture: Velvety and slightly dense.

Taste: Strong mushroom taste with hints of the wild. Good solo or where a pronounced flavor is desired. Great grilled or smoked with plenty of garlic.


Texture: Soft and very tender.

Taste: Very delicate and mild. Good as a background texture and flavor. Beautiful ivory color.

No More Sleepless Nights

No More Sleepless Nights
by Vonalda M. Utterback, C.N.

Beat insomnia naturally with homeopathy, flower essences and herbs

Sleeping problems often come on slowly. A bad dream startles you awake and you have trouble drifting off again. Or perhaps you find yourself running through your to-do list for the next day while tossing and turning — long after you've said goodnight. When morning arrives you discover you may have only slept for a few hours. You're slow, tired and longing for a little shut-eye.

If you're experiencing insomnia, you're not alone. A 1999 survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that more than 60 percent of Americans experience sleeping difficulties at least several nights a week. The key is to recognize and deal with it early before it becomes chronic. But how do you do that in a gentle, natural way that really does relax and replenish you, rather than knock you out?

Body, Heal Thyself
Any number of factors can contribute to the lack of a good night's sleep. These include poor diet habits such as too much food, caffeine or alcohol consumption; exercise too close to bedtime; some prescription and over-the-counter medications; and the inability to let go of the stress or excitement of the day.

Fortunately, there are natural ways to treat insomnia without resorting to conventional drugs, which may cause a host of undesirable side effects. Two such methods, homeopathy and flower essences, work gently and safely to help the body restore itself.

Based on the principle of "like cures like," the medical system of homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., in the late 1700s. Homeopathic remedies consist of minute amounts of various substances that stimulate the body's own healing powers, says Dana Ullman, M.P.H., author of several books on homeopathy, including Homeopathy A to Z (Hayhouse). According to homeopathic philosophy, the closer you match the remedy to your symptoms, the more effective treatment will be.

Although any number of remedies may work for insomnia, depending on your specific symptoms, Ullman suggests the following cures for the most common symptoms:

Coffea cruda (raw coffee bean) often works for insomnia when you are mentally and physically hyperactive — usually due to a positive event.

Ignatia amara (St. Ignatius bean) helps if you are sleepless due to grief.

Nux vomica (poison nut) is ideal for overconsumption of food, coffee, drugs or alcohol.

Arsenicum album (bromide of arsenic) helps those with various fears or who are physically tired yet too anxiety-ridden to sleep or who wake up after midnight and have difficulty getting back to sleep.

While homeopathy lends itself well to the self-treatment of acute conditions — illnesses that are short in duration and resolve without significant aftereffects — Ullman cautions that when a condition becomes chronic, it's best to consult a professional homeopath.

Nipping it Naturally
Like homeopathy, flower essences are completely safe for all ages. They do, however, concentrate solely on one's emotional state. Edward Bach, M.D. (1897­1936), founder of this healing system, believed that physical illness was a manifestation of emotional imbalance.

"If you can't sleep, ask yourself why," says Stefan Ball, consultant and principal of the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation in Oxfordshire, England, and author of several books, including Principles of Bach Flower Remedies (Thorsons). "Then look at the list of remedies and select those that seem to most closely match how you feel."

Ball explains that of the 38 Bach floral essences, those used most frequently for insomnia are:

Red chestnut for those so concerned with others' welfare they can't sleep.

Agrimony for those worries that during the day are nonexistent, but appear at night and cause sleeplessness.

Mimulus for anxious worry and fear from known causes.

White chestnut for relief from obsessive, repetitive thoughts.

Above all, if you find that you're not sleeping well, experts suggest nipping the problem in the bud. A natural remedy may be just the nudge you need to once again slumber peacefully.

Clinical nutritionist Vonalda M. Utterback is a writer/editor based in Erie, Colo.

Photography by: Telegraph Colour/FPG

Backgrounder - Cyvex Nutrition

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Cyvex Nutrition was founded in 1984 by Gilbert Gluck, a noted food scientist with 30 years of experience in the food industry. From the beginning, the company established a culture which was later formalized into the company's mission statement:

"To continue to earn the trust of our customers by providing nutraceuticals of the best possible quality and value, and to do so with superbly responsive service."

Today, Cyvex Nutrition is recognized as an industry leader and noted for its innovative technological advances. Cyvex was a pioneer in the development of nutritional marine ingredients such as shark cartilage, green-lipped mussel and sea cucumber powders. In the 1990s, Cyvex introduced BioVin®, a full-spectrum French grape extract which has now grown into a broad line of grape extract ingredients. The 90's decade saw the compa¬ny expand its product offerings to include a full line of nutritional supplement ingredients.

As the 21st century unfolds, Cyvex continues to be at the forefront of nutraceutical prod¬uct development, supplying innovative ingredients to manufacturers of premier nutritional supplements. True to its mission statement, Cyvex has also been innovative in assuring the highest level of customer service. For example, product and manufacturing quality are assured to Cyvex customers because of two significant accomplishments in recent Cyvex history.

• NutriPrint™, a unique and innovative quality assurance certification system guaran¬tees the potency, purity and safety of all Cyvex products.
• ISO 9002 certification makes Cyvex Nutrition one of the few industry ingredient suppliers that operates under the internationally recognized ISO 9000 standards.

"We are convinced that our industry is about to experience a quality and stability revolu¬tion which will impact the way we do business," says Cyvex's Director of Science and Technology Michael Yatcilla, Ph.D. "There will be a time in the near future when price is not the primary factor which determines the ingredients in America's natural food prod¬ucts."

Cyvex has backed up Dr. Yatcilla's prediction by setting the standards for quality, potency and stability assurance in the 21st century.

Cyvex Nutrition Announces 2nd Year of IS09002 Status

IRVINE, Calif. September 21, 2000 - Cyvex Nutrition, a leading supplier of science-based nutraceutical ingredients, announces its second year of certification to ISO9002, the highest international standard of quality. Cyvex, who received its IS09002 registration in September of 1999, is audited bi-annually by Underwriters' Laboratories in Santa Clara, CA, known best for enforcing safety standards in the electronics industry. ISO, which stands for International Organization for Standardization, is a word rather than an acroynym, derived from the Greek word isos meaning "equal." Established in 1947 and located in Geneva, Switzerland, the ISO is a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the international trading process by setting ideal requirements for designing, manufacturing, shipping, or otherwise providing a superior product or service. Revised in 1994, ISO's quality assurance system has formalized procedures to ensure proper documentation, inventory, handling, and quality control of all materials that enter or exit a registered facility. In addition, the ISO standard requires management review of the system, continually improving work processes.

Continuous improvement is vital, believes Gilbert Gluck, president of Cyvex Nutrition, because, "The nutraceutical industry lacks government-imposed regulatory audits and standards. Therefore, the ISO standards and system of auditing benefit companies seeking to improve the quality of their products." Gluck adds, "The unexpected benefit to Cyvex is that by adopting the Standard, and practicing continual improvement of all of our procedures, we have substantially reduced our operating costs and can pass these savings on to our customers."

Founded in 1984, Cyvex Nutrition is recognized industry-wide as a trusted supplier of specialty ingredients including plant extracts and botanicals, marine nutraceuticals, fine chemicals, grape products and nootropics for memory and concentration.


Cyvex Uses High-Tech Method to Test Ingredients

Houston, Texas, September 15, 2000 - Manufacturers generally agree that testing nutraceutical ingredients for quality and purity is vital. However, some balk at the time-consuming process involving "wet chemistry."

Fortunately, an easier, more efficient method is now available, said Michael Yatcilla, Ph.D., in a presentation today to the International Conference and Exhibit on Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods. As Cyvex Nutrition's director of science and technology, Dr. Yatcilla tests a wide range of ingredients including: herbs, plant extracts such as grape seed, and animal-derived products such as chondroitin sulfate using a novel, rapid information-rich methodology.

"All these products have different chemical characteristics, and we needed a single robust method to analyze and gain good quality control information," Dr. Yatcilla explained to the group of public and private-sector scientists at the conference. "Fortunately, we found this with our FT-NIR (Fourier Transform Near Infrared) method, which is fast and completely noninvasive. Using the wet chemistry method can take two hours to do one sample. Using the FT-NIR method, one can test 100 samples in that same period of time.

"So, if you receive, say, 100 drums of material from the factory, you can open boxes, take the lids off, and for about 2 hours, you can test the contents of every single drum and know their identity and purity," continued Dr. Yatcilla. "Not only can you tell how good the batch or lot is, but you can also tell if there are any bad drums or any problems at any point in the process without ever exposing the contents to the atmosphere."

Cyvex uses the FT-NIR instrument in its Irvine, CA, research laboratory to facilitate the company's NutriPrint™ quality assurance system, expected to become the standard in the nutraceutical industry. The process involves conducting purity and identity tests on every batch of material, each time producing a unique chemical "fingerprint." The sample's "fingerprint" is compared to a reference library. "Our extensive library of thousands of samples permits us to rigorously determine realistic tolerance limits for variations inherent in natural products," explained Dr. Yatcilla. Such variations are especially important in chondroitin sulfate, which United States Pharmacopeia (USP) guidelines require to be 90% to 105% pure on a dry basis. "Cyvex's chondroitin sulfate has consistently high quality standards as a result of this testing," he said. "This is not always the case with chondroitin sulfate products, as we have found by evaluating many samples in our lab."

Dr. Yatcilla added that Cyvex's FT-NIR testing is validated by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) at independent laboratories. The FT-NIR equipment used by Cyvex is manufactured by Bran+Luebbe of Buffalo Grove, IL.

Cyvex Named Exclusive Distributor for Vinpocetine Manufactured by Gedeon Richter of Budapest, Hungary

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Irvine, California - For Immediate Release - Mr. Tibor Simon, President of Medimpex Northamerica Inc., Gedeon Richter's U.S. subsidiary, has announced the appointment of Cyvex Nutrition here as the exclusive North American distributor for vinpocetine sold under
the trademark Biovinca. Shipments will be made from inventories at Cyvex in Irvine, California.

Scientists at Gedeon Richter, the largest pharmaceutical company in Eastern Europe, discovered and patented vinpocetine 20 years ago. Vinpocetine is the most popular nootropic in Japan, France, and Russia, as well as in other Eastern European countries.

Known as the "Smart Drug," vinpocetine invigorates and enhances blood circulation to the brain and cerebral metabolism. The enhanced circulation is noticeable throughout the car¬diovascular system, but especially in the brain by increasing the availability of glucose and oxygen. It is noted as a powerful memory amplifier and is classified as an oxygenator and activator of the cerebral metabolism.

Biovinca is the only vinpocetine on the market manufactured in a pharmaceutical, FDA-approved GMP plant backed up by the most extensive quality control tests in the industry and the full support of Gedeon Richter scientists.

Cyvex Nutrition will be promoting this extraordinary nutraceutical ingredient at Nutritionals 2000 and Natural Products Exhibition, West. Founded in 1984, Cyvex is an acknowledged pioneer in the development of innovative nutraceuticals.

Delicious Living

GMOs: Future Foods Or Foul Play?

The Arctic flounder uniquely evolved through time to thrive in freezing waters. It's safe to say that, until recently, this fish has never had any contact with tomatoes. And tomatoes have never considered the flounder a partner in procreation. Yet biotechnology has integrated these two species in a way Mother Nature never intended. By inserting a flounder gene into tomato DNA, scientists have created a tomato that is less susceptible to freezing, has a longer shelf life and whose larger size may make it appear tastier. Flounder genes have also been inserted into strawberries for the same reasons. What's not to like?

  • Vegetarians might not like the idea of biting into a berry that contains fish blueprints.
  • Ecologists might wonder about genetic pollution and the wisdom of tinkering with Mother Nature.
  • Consumer-rights advocates might feel shoppers should be notified via product labels as to exactly what is in their food.
  • Natural-living types might be put off by the whole idea of eating something so ... well, unnatural.

But what about the promise of feeding the world with more nutritious foods and less pollution? Can biotech grow an edible silver bullet?

Let's back up a half-century to the birth of the agricultural-industrial complex. In the 1950s, America's crops and livestock began being sprayed, ground, canned, milled, stripped, reconstituted, adulterated, fortified, packaged and sold to the public. Processed cereal — Corn Pops (1950), Sugar Smacks (1953) and Alpha-Bits (1958) — was born. Nutritious and delicious, they said. These wonder foods build strong bodies 12 ways!

In 1962, U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Rachel Carson documented the effects of that foray into high-tech food processing in her seminal book, Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin). All over the country, DDT was being sprayed from airplanes to control mosquitoes. "Better living through chemistry" was a common phrase. As an unintended consequence, however, DDT also killed songbirds, poisoned animals throughout the food chain — some to near extinction — and, in 1969, the National Cancer Institute declared, it caused cancer in humans. The federal government banned DDT in 1972.

So here we are today, at the threshold of the next great leap forward in food-making — genetic engineering (GE). Should it strike us as ironic that the GE pioneers of today are some of yesteryear's chemical giants, including Monsanto and DuPont? Backers of this new technology believe the technology is much better this time around and can be trusted.

"At what point in history have we been required to know everything before we go forward?" asks Eric Ward, president of Novartis, a multinational biotech giant with U.S. headquarters in North Carolina. Mistakes can be improved upon, he says, "like a Microsoft upgrade."

Genes 1.0 — System Error
The Bill Gateses of biotech create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) first by identifying a gene with a desired trait from a plant, animal or bacterium. The gene is isolated and removed. Next, it is inserted into a bacterial cell that copies it millions of times over and ferries it into a target organism. Genes can also be directly injected into a target organism, without being multiplied, by using a particle gun. From there, it's up to nature to weave the protein string into a new strand of DNA.

The trouble is, it's not as exact a science as it sounds. When the target cell takes up the inserted gene, it's anybody's guess where it will end up. The gene may attach in the middle of another gene and interfere with the normal functioning of the cell. It might damage the DNA of the host, which can lead to foods that contain allergens or toxins. Engineered proteins from living things people have never consumed could end up on store shelves, with unknown health effects.

In 1996, researchers at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, found that people allergic to nuts became allergic to soybeans engineered to contain a nutritious protein from a Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa). Although the biotech company shelved the product before it hit retail stores, "the next case could be less ideal, and the public less fortunate," according to a companion editorial in the same issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (1996, vol. 334) that reported the case of the GE soybeans.

Natural foods advocates are also beginning to ask questions about unintended consequences of this most recent tinkering with our food supply. Most difficult is the patience required to gauge environmental effects that can take years to fully blossom. Once GMOs cross-pollinate with their wild counterparts and weeds, there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. And pollen dispersal from GE crops has been recorded at up to 3 kilometers by airflow and 4 kilometers by insects (The Soil Association Report, 2000).

"They're making fundamental and irreversible changes in the food supply," says Mike Liguori, communications coordinator for Citizens For Health, which is coordinating a GMO labeling campaign (see "What You Can Do," p.52). "The long-term effects are unprecedented and unknown, and there's no thought put into it."

In what has been called the smoking gun against the biotech industry, a now-famous laboratory study by Cornell University researchers found that pollen from genetically engineered corn can kill monarch butterfly larvae. Monarch caterpillars were fed milkweed leaves, their only natural food source, which had either no pollen, regular corn-pollen dust or pollen dusted with GE "Bt" pollen. After four days, 44 percent of those fed Bt corn pollen died, while all those fed the other milkweed leaves survived (Nature, 1999, vol. 399). The study was even more significant because half of the summer monarch population is concentrated in the U.S. corn belt — not to mention that this study took place after 25 million acres of Bt corn had already been planted (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 1998, vol. 95). In response, a consortium of biotech-backed scientists in November 1999 released six months of studies that took place in and around actual GE cornfields, as opposed to the strict confines of the lab. Conclusions varied; some studies found Bt corn does not release pollen, while other studies found close to 100 percent overlap. Ultimately, they concluded, monarchs are as much at risk from habitat destruction in Mexico, where they reside in winter, as from poisoned pollen (Natural Biotechnology, 1999, vol. 17).

In another study, researchers fed six rats potatoes genetically engineered to make their own lectins, which are a group of chemical proteins — including poisons — found in some bean varieties. Six other rats were fed potatoes injected with the protein. After 10 days, the rats eating the GE potatoes suffered greater atrophy in the small intestine and other organs. The researchers said this suggests that something in the modification process itself may contribute to organ damage (Lancet, 1999, vol. 354).

Just Good Business?
Despite marketing hype about how genetic engineering makes foods more nutritious, only one in five current GE foods is actually designed to improve product quality, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The rest are only beneficial for agribusiness entities concerned with cultivation and distribution; fully 28 percent are aimed at increasing crop tolerance to herbicides. Biotech's balancing act is predicated on seed sales to farmers, who save money if fewer pesticides are needed. The problem is, farmers then have to sell it to consumers. But the more consumers learn about GMOs, the more wary they become. Consequently, the biotech industry is scrambling to create a "better nutrition through genetically engineered foods" angle.

Researchers at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and the Center of Ethics and Toxics in Gualala, Calif., raised questions about better nutrition. They compared two varieties of GE soy to their conventional counterparts grown in similar conditions. In 12 of 21 analyses, the GE soy demonstrated a 12 to 14 percent reduction in genistein and daidzein, the two major soy isoflavones of benefit to menopausal women (Journal of Medicinal Foods, 1998, vol. 1).

As a rejoinder, much ado has been made of the recent unveiling of so-called "golden rice," engineered to contain the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene, a nutrient lacking in some diets. UNICEF research shows that 300,000 children in developing countries were saved in 1998 by vitamin A supplementation. With one consumer success finally under its belt, Big Biotech comes just a little clean about its checkered past.

"What if, when they invented electricity, the first two products were the electric chair and the cattle prod?" asks Novartis' Ward. "Would you say electricity is bad?"

Conspiracy theorists shrug off the golden rice news. "The timing of this is so clear," says Charlie Kronick, head of Britain's Greenpeace genetic engineering campaign. "[Proponents] are talking about the potential benefits of the second generation of GE crops when almost no questions raised by the first have been answered."

Plus, as former USDA scientist James Duke, Ph.D., says, people can get satisfactory vitamin A levels with rice without technological assistance: Simply eat the vitamin A-rich weeds that grow alongside rice. "We'll call them herbs or leafy veggies instead of weeds," says Duke. "A new mantra might be 'Eat your weedies!'"

This low-tech idea, however, begs the question: Can GMOs really feed the world? It might be nice to engineer a seed to withstand drought and poor soil. But it seems the real issues may be Third World affordability and distribution.

"There are 10 simple steps we could take right now to feed a billion hungry people," says Margaret Mellon, Ph.D., of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., "from building roads to encouraging people to grow their own gourds."

A recent poll of 1,800 U.S. households found 40 percent were concerned about GMOs, 11 percent were not and almost 50 percent had no opinion. Those fence-sitters are the object of biotech's affections: A group of biotech giants will spend $250 million during the next five years on a public relations campaign to win over the agnostics.

In the end, the success or failure of GMOs will likely be determined by consumer education and analysis. For now, here's food for thought: We've come to revere the technology on our computers; will we equally trust the technology on our plates?

Todd Runestad is associate editor for Nutrition Science News.


Delicious Living

Going GMO-Surfing?

Mothers for Natural Law

Citizens For Health

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

Union of Concerned Scientists

Organic Trade Association

USDA's Biotechnology Web Site

Council for Biotechnology Information (pro-biotech)

Friends of the Earth

California Right to Know Campaign