Are You Eating Bioengineered Food?

JoAnn's food bites bioengineered foodIn the United States, I feel I have a right to know what is in our food supply and how our food is grown.

Global food policy research conducted by the Center for Food Safety confirms that 64 countries, including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey and South Africa require standards of mandatory GE food labeling. The United States is NOT included on the list of governments providing open, accurate information on the source of foods on grocery shelves.

Hence, why I am such a supporter of GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling.

GMO labeling laws

As the spread of commercialized genetically engineered food products increase, the number of people exposed to GE foods globally has grown. Labeling of GE food ingredients has become increasingly fundamental to preserving consumer choice and protecting personal health.

Possible Bioengineered Labeling?

On May 4, the United States Department of Agriculture issued its proposed rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), the GMO-labeling law passed by Congress in July 2016. Under the NBFDS, the USDA was given until July 2019 to finalize a rule that would implement the labeling requirements.

The USDA is seeking public comments about the proposed until July 3, 2018.

The current proposal would require food manufacturers and other entities which label foods for retail sale, to disclose information about bioengineered food and bioengineered food ingredient content, with exceptions.

Food is defined as “intended for human consumption.”

The proposal defines bioengineered (with respect to food as)…

  • (A) food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and
  • (B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.”

The proposal is still vague on whether or not  “highly refined foods,” which may contain material from genetically modified plants, will be included. (such as oils, candy, and soda.)

These “bioengineered” foods have long been coined as GMO’s (genetically modified organisms); why is the government avoiding GMO terminology?

And why do the proposed labels look so “healthy?”


Proposed labels to be placed on food

Non-GMO labeling JoAnn's Food Bites

Hunt’s VOLUNTARILY put these “non-GMO” labels on their products










What does the proposal NOT include?

Scott Faber, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the EWG, Environmental Working Group explains;  the proposal is much too vague and does not provide practical solutions for our food labeling dilemma.

He concludes:

  1. The draft rule does not say whether or not companies will have to disclose genetically engineered sugars and oils, or ingredients that have been created through new technologies such as gene-editing.  This could exclude over 70% of GMO ingredients.
  2. The draft rule might also exempt foods from the disclosure requirements of the new law when 5 percent or less of the ingredients, by weight, are genetically engineered.  Even if a product has 1% GMO, I want to know!
  3.  If companies choose to make an on-package GMO disclosure, the draft rule would require companies to use the words “bioengineered” or “bioengineered food ingredient,” not the widely known phrases “genetically modified” or “genetically engineered.”                                                                                                                                       So, Hunts, who VOLUNTEERLY placed “non-GMO” labels on their products, would have to change the labeling – despite helping consumers with their clear labeling.
  4. The draft rule provides few rules for companies that choose to disclose GMOs digitally through a QR code, creating the possibility that smartphones won’t read the digital codes consistently.                                                                                                                     What if you don’t have a smartphone?  What if you do not have cell service inside the supermarket?
Information found at Scott Faber’s blog post for AgMag

In other global, civilized countries, food labeling is not as ambiguous.

Countries who require food labeling laws.

Food labeling laws JoAnn's Food Bites

Salad dressing label from The Netherlands.

Call to Action

I urge you to think about this issue!  It is my personal opinion, the rise in cancer rates in the United States correlate, to some degree with our dietary habits.

A study, just released in February 2018 was conducted in France and Brazil which concluded ultra-processed foods carry an extra risk of cancer, above and beyond being nutritionally bad for you.

The foods associated with extra cancer risk include:

  • mass produced packaged breads and baked goods
  • sodas and sweetened drinks
  • instant noodles and soups
  • sweet or savory packaged snacks
  • industrialized confectionery and desserts
  • meat balls, chicken and fish nuggets
  • other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites)
  • frozen or shelf-stable ready meals
  • Other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats

No need to lecture here – but read my post about processed foods, HERE – PLEASE!


Less-processed foods such as cheese, pasta, and canned vegetables did not raise cancer risks.    Link to the study HERE.

Make your opinion matter and contact to leave a comment about the proposed “bio-engineered labeling standard.”




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Iron Hill Brewery Pouring Craft Beer in Greenville

The craft beer scene is booming in Greenville and Iron Hill Brewery has decided to open their first location, outside the mid-Atlantic area, to the Upstate.

Iron Hill Brewery Greenville, South Carolina

Pictured from left to right: Iron Hill Greenville General Manager, Jim Gardner; Iron Hill Greenville Head Brewer, Eric Boice; Iron Hill Co-Founder, Mark Edelson; Iron Hill Co-Founder, Kevin Finn

In 1996, home brewers Kevin Finn, Mark Edelson and restaurateur Kevin Davies decided to open their first location in Newark, DE; penning the name after the historic Revolutionary War summit in Delaware, where General George Washington fought the British in the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge (aka Battle of Iron Hill).


After opening 12 other locations throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Deleware, Iron Hill Brewery owners have brought their “made-from-scratch” upscale menu and on-site brewhouse to the Haywood Mall area.

Wide Variety of Craft Beer

With 15 draft taps, Eric Boice brings his 13 years of experience to the Greenville location as the chief brew-master.Iron Hill Brewery Sampler

To celebrate the Grand Opening, Iron Hill Brewery created the Upstate Kolsh.  A full-bodied blonde ale with hints of pear.

Just in time for summer is the Iron Hill Light Lager.  It is smooth, crisp and bright.

One of the most popular is the Hipster IPA. Brewed with wheat and oats, it is like a traditional New England IPA.  But with hops added at the end of the brewing process, it has a pineapple, lemon, lighter feel.

My favorite would have to be the Pig Iron Porter. With hints of coffee, toffee, and chocolate, this well-balanced beer is smooth but slightly bitter at the end.

Although Iron Hill Brewery expects to make 900 barrels of craft beer in 2018, they also produced signature cocktails, using premium brands – such as…

  • Bourbon Blossom – with Four Roses Bourbon
  • Raspberry Lemonade – using Tito’s Vodka
  • Cucumber Raspberry Cooler – mixed with Hendrick’s Gin

Made From Scratch Menu

Besides the in-house brewery and cocktail lounge area, a 250-person capacity, 7,500 square foot restaurant, with a patio is available for lunch and dinner.

But don’t expect your garden variety pub food; Iron Hill Brewery has an upscale American menu, with so many choices, even the most “picky-eaters,” will find something delicious to try.

Two of my favorite items are the Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls and the Hand-Cut Belgian-Style Fries.

Iron Hill Brewery Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls

Iron Hill Brewery Belgian Fries

Nothing is “pre-made,” or “frozen.”  Everything is made from scratch, at the restaurant.  The Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls are rolled, in-house and fried up to order.  The fries are cut in-house and served with a creamy, delicious Siracha Mayonnaise.

Main Entrees include steak, fish, chicken, ribs, burgers, salads – even a Gluten-Friendly menu.

Iron Hill Brewery Brewski Burger

Cooked to order and served with lettuce, tomato, bacon, mushrooms, choice of sharp cheddar, American or Swiss cheese, on a toasted bun with fries. You can add sunny-side up egg

Iron Hill Brewery Rainbow Trout

With a moist, fluffy texture, the Rainbow Trout is served with garlicky broccolini, tri-colored pepper rice pilaf, Marcona almond romesco sauce and is a lighter choice for calorie counters.

Make sure to save room for dessert!

Iron Hill Brewery Triple Chocolate HillTriple Chocolate Hill is a mountain of vanilla ice cream layered with a double fudge brownie, topped with a peanut butter caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.

For each purchase of the tantalizing treat, 75¢ will be donated to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and an additional 75 cents will be donated to Greenville’s own Project Host. 

Project Host feeds our communities’ hungry and trains the unemployed.  I have already pledged to donate my summer excess vegetable crop to this worthy charity.

Brewery Buzz

Iron Hill is a vibrant, trendy Gastro Pub able to cater to various clientele.

  • Meeting girlfriends for a mid-afternoon cocktail?Iron Hill Brewery Greenville
  • Discussing a new project during a business lunch?
  • Having an elegant meal with your significant other on your anniversary?

The cocktail bar or the spacious restaurant suits all these scenarios.

Join the King of the Hill Rewards Club.  For a one-time fee, members receive access to all the perks for LIFE.  No renewal fees here!

Click for King of Hill Rewards Club details.

I look forward to many more visits to Iron Hill Brewery.

Located at 741 Haywood Rd. Greenville, SC 29607

Reservations can be made at the website:

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Trending Tacos in Greenville at Tin Lizzy’s

Greenville's Tin Lizzy trendy tacosThere’s no slowing down the craze for all things Latin American, but the taco trend has a life of its own.

Tacos are not just for lunch or dinner but are also showing up for breakfast and desserts across the country.  The versatile taco can be stuff with a variety of fillings and toppings, making them an inexpensive dining option.

Tin Lizzy’s Cantina is a trendy, casual dining spot with an incredible array of tacos, including The Grand Tinale, fried tortillas tossed in cinnamon and sugar.

History of Tin Lizzy Cantina


Tin Lizzy's Cantina First opened in an Atlanta suburb, Buckhead, four college friends strived for a friendly atmosphere, specializing in superb hospitality.

With numerous awards and accolades, Tin Lizzy has expanded to many franchise locations throughout Atlanta, and now in South Carolina, including Columbia and Greenville.

The relaxed, fun environment is great for a quick lunch or a light-hearted dinner celebration.   Music pumps through the bar and dining area but is not unbearable.  Several televisions are scattered throughout the restaurant, displaying sporting events.

Dining at the Greenville location, I found the high ceilings and bright colors supporting their vibrant, hip atmosphere.



Of course, the key to a great cantina is the cocktails; Tin Lizzy does not disappoint

A large selection of tequilas are available and choosing from their specialty margaritas was tough, but the TLC was probably the BEST restaurant margarita I have ever consumed!

Margarita's in Greenville Tin Lizzy

The TLC – house margarita with Lunazul blanco 100% blue agave tequila, Agavero orange liqueur and sour mix.

Light, citrusy and refreshing, without overbearing tartness; it was difficult to stop at just one – I was driving.

An impressive list of signature drinks and specialty shots are available, including an extra large margarita, mixed tableside and meant for more than one person ($30).

The beer selection was kinda limited, with most of the commercial beers and one micro-brewery available.


Let’s talk about the food!

Greenville's Tin Lizzy's Cantina Chicken TacosProbably the best tacos, I have eaten since on vacation in Mexico.

Diving into the Southwest Chicken Club tacos, I found crispy, but tender chicken strips with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, Monterrey Jack cheese and a smokey honey-chipotle sauce.

Great bacon flavor and the sauce was not spicy – two tacos were more than enough.

Your choice of corn, flour or wheat soft shells are available – and sold individually unless you order the “Trifecta,” a choice of three specialty tacos.

We ordered the shrimp, crispy lobster, and Philly Cheesesteak tacos.

The Philly Cheesesteak taco was amazing; along with the shrimp; however, the lobster taco was slightly over-cooked and rubbery.

I dislike black-beans, so I had trepidation about trying the black-bean and rice side cup, served with the Trifecta; however, I was pleasantly surprised.  The black-beans did not have a burnt taste, which I am frequently offended by.

Instead, they were creamy and flavorful.  A great accompaniment to the tacos.

Greenville's Tin Lizzy's Cantina TacosOf course, you can’t try a new taco joint without trying their Queso Blanco dip.

Served piping hot, with the jalapenos cooked in (you cannot order them separate), the dip was robust and creamy – perfect with their crispy, warm tortilla chips.

But tacos are not all they offer.

Salads, iron skillet rice mixtures and mouth-watering quesadillas are on the menu.

For a franchised restaurant, I was very impressed.

I will return again to try something different and for one of those TLC MARGARITAS again!

Tin Lizzy’s Cantina

1025 Woodruff Rd. Greenville, SC



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Try the NEW Firehouse Sub Pastrami Reuben and Support a Worthy Cause


Being the daughter of a retired Battalion Chief Firefighter,  first responders hold a special place in my heart, so I was excited to try a brand new menu item at Firehouse Subs.

Founded by brothers and firefighters, Chris and Robin Sorensen over 24 years ago; Firehouse Subs has expanded to over 1100 restaurants, throughout 44 states, while raising money for fire departments around the country.


Right now is a great time to stop in and support their Public Safety Foundation, while trying their REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN – available for only a limited time.

The true origin of the  New York City Reuben sandwich is under dispute, however, Firehouse Subs has created their own version, similar to the traditional Rachel Sandwich.

The REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN is served on toasted bread of your choice (white or wheat), loaded with USDA Choice Pastrami and Swiss cheese, topped with a creamy coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing and mayonnaise.  This savory sandwich is best when devoured warm – but it is available, non-toasted, if you prefer.


Absent is the typical sauerkraut, which was a relief for this taste tester.  Instead the creamy coleslaw added a richness to the sandwich, reminiscent of summertime, and complimented the warm meat very well.

What makes Firehouse Subs different and so delicious?

Their signature way of preparing your sandwich!

Firehouse slices all meat in house.  Your choice of bread is toasted separately from the meat.

The meat is steamed and the toppings, such as slaw, lettuce, mayo are added just before the sandwich is served.

This process allows you to experience the full meat flavor and deliciousness.

Other mouth-watering sandwiches

If you want to try something else, there are two sandwiches I highly recommend.

Hook & Ladder – Firehouse Subs most popular menu item and a more traditional option for picky eaters.  Includes smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack.

Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket – Prepared with USDA Choice beef brisket, melted cheddar cheese, mayo, and Sweet Baby Ray’s® BBQ Sauce was a revelation to this certified GBA Barbecue Judge.  The Brisket was very tender.  No vinegar based sauce here – the Sweet Baby Rays was the perfect accompaniment to this hot sandwich.

Firehouse Smokehouse Brisket and Cheddar

Simplicity allows the meat to shine…just classic barbecue with a sweet sauce.

Also on the menu are:

  • A variety of chopped salads
  • A “make your own sub” option
  • Kids menu
  • Chili

Firehouse Subs App



Firehouse can also cater your office party or special event.

Download the Firehouse App for your iOS device and you can order your sandwich online.




Firehouse Subs

During my recent visit to Firehouse Sub #1245, just outside of Greenville, I spoke with owner and 15-year Firehouse Subs veteran, Elliott Goldsmith.  He explained several ways Firehouse Subs works to build fundraising efforts, even in local communities.

Through such programs as simply raising your purchase to the nearest dollar, or purchasing one of their (food safe) pickle buckets can help provide life saving equipment to community fire stations.

While having lunch, you are supporting a worthy cause and perhaps helping to purchase equipment, which might save someone’s life.

Visit your local Firehouse Subs and try the NEW REINVENTED PASTRAMI REUBEN SANDWICH!

Remember, it is only available for a short time.

For the location nearest you CLICK HERE!

For more about Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, CLICK HERE!





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7 Types of Basil for Spring Gardening

Basil is one of the most fragrant and easiest of all the herbs to grow in your spring garden.

Introduced to England in the 16th century, it made its way to America in the 17th century.

It flourishes in the warmth of the Mediterranean countries, where it is so successfully combined with sun-ripened tomatoes.


The famous, basil pesto, was created in Genoa (northern Italy), usually consisting of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finally  blended with olive oil. {aka, Genoese Sauce}.

Used in many Italian dishes or to add spring time freshness to any culinary concoction, basil comes in many varieties, each with their own characteristics.

7 Types of Basil Plants

1. Genovese Basil

Genovese BasilThe most common variety – easily accessible from a local home improvement store. Also known as sweet basil.

Large leaves with intense flavor and a wonderful aroma.  Commonly used in the aforementioned, Genoese sauce.

Produces white flowers. By pinching out any flowering heads, the plant will continue to produce fragrant leaves until early Autumn.

2. Thai Basil

thai basil with blooming flowersHas a slightly spicier flavor with licorice undertones.

Works well in Asian dishes because it is native to Southeast Asia.

Produces narrow leaves, purple stems, and pink-purple flowers.


3. Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon Basis

Just as its variety name indicates, it tastes like standard basil laced with cinnamon.

Ideal for for ice cream and desserts.

Also known as Mexican Spice Basil. Difficult to find in the United States.

Beautiful ornamental annual because of its small, pink to purple flowers from July to September, in warm climates.

4. African Blue Basil

African Blue Basil

Photo courtesy of Jengod at English Wikipedia

A type which can be a perennial in year-round warm climates.

African blue basil starts out purple when young, only growing green as the leaves grow to full size, and even then retaining purple veins.

All parts of the plant are edible.  Popular to steep for tea.



5. Lemon Basil

Lemon BasilA hybrid grown primarily in northeastern Africa and southern Asia, enjoyed for its fragrant lemon scent.

It has white flowers in late summer to early fall and the leaves are slightly serrated.

Popular in Indonesian dishes, it can be used in any dish where lemon is a component.


6. Lettuce Leaf Basil

Lettuce Leaf BasilSome retail nurseries carry this variety.

It’s crinkly leaves are very aromatic and fresh tasting.

Great for wrapping fish; chopping into a salad; or freshening up a rice dish.


7. Micro Opal Basil

Micro Opal BasilIs a micro-green packing a powerful punch.

With hints of lemon and lime notes, it has a crunchy, velvety texture – great on salads.

Difficult to find except for specialty cultivators, specializing in micro-greens.

Growing Basil

Based on MY experience, Basil is relatively easy annual to grow.

I typically start from seedling (small, baby plant), planting in the spring, once the ground is warm.

Depending upon the variety, some can grow up to 24-inches tall, so plan accordingly.

It is because of their height, I have found the best success by planting in a deep pot, such as 24″ deep, to allow for good roots.

Although I grow in a container, I still wait till the ground is warm – approximately two weeks after 40º nights.

Do not overcrowd the pot.  I only plant (2) seedlings per 18″ diameter pot.

Basil loves full sun; in well-drained soil because its roots cannot sit in water.

Semi-rich nutrient soil with a pH level of 6-7 is good.  Consider fertilizing once a month if you water frequently.  You do not want the soil to become dry and crumbly.

Because I live in zone 7, I usually water twice a week – if no rainfall.

Medicinal Uses for Basil

Because basil contains antispasmodic agents, a standard infusion of fresh basil leaves can help with indigestion and constipation, adding honey and lemon, it eases chest congestion and bronchitis.

According to John Lust’s, The Herb Book, steep 1 tsp of dried basil in 1/2 cup of water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups each day, a mouthful at a time.

I think I will just incorporate my vinaigrette recipe on my salad…

Creamy Basil Vinaigrette

This can also be used over grilled vegetables. Can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves = 1 ounce
  • 1/4 cup roasted garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Put basil, garlic, Parmesan and vinegar in a blender. Cover and blend till thoroughly combined.
  2. With the blender running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream through and open lid.
  3. Transfer to a small bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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GVL Today Recognizes JoAnn’s Food Bites

“10 Foodie Accounts You Should Definitely Follow”

Thank you to GVL Today for the recognition of JoAnn’s Food Bites.

Through my blog I share my passion for cooking and growing food at home.

We examine food from a historical, beneficial and agricultural prospective.


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Essential Tool for Garlic Adding Depth to Dishes

My absolute favorite aroma from the kitchen occurs when I am sauteing butter, onions and garlic – my
JoAnn's Food Bites


Garlic is one – if not – the most versatile seasoning agent in the food world!

A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots.

The edible bulb, or “head” grows below the ground.  The bulb consists of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchment like membrane.

Types of Garlic

In the United States, there are three major types of garlic;

JoAnn's Food bites garlic garlic press

white-skinned, strongly flavored American Garlic

Italian Mexican Garlic

Italian or Mexican garlic; both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor.

Elephant garlic

Elephant garlic, is not really garlic, but a relative of the LEEK, but has the most mild flavor of the aforementioned varieties.

Buying Garlic

Fresh garlic is available at your local supermarket year round.

Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins.  Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves.

Do NOT buy those tubes you see at the store in the refrigerator section.

Do NOT buy the pre-peeled garlic you see in the zip lock pouches, usually in the produce department – unless you want your entire refrigerator smelling like raw garlic, plus, it is just not as flavorful as freshly peeled garlic.

Refrigerated storage causes a decline in distinctively garlicky flavor and an increase in a more generic onion flavor.

Storing Garlic

Properly stored – see my video – unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, although, I use mine way before that deadline.

I never break cloves from the head, until I am ready to use them in a recipe.

Typically, crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.

Buy your own garlic press here:

Garlic Alternatives

Dehydrated garlic flakes, aka instant garlic, are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using.

When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder.

Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and an “anti-caking” agent.

Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves.  Although convenient, never use these in your home cooking, as they are a poor flavor substitute, especially when fresh garlic is so inexpensive.

Garlic breath is a chemical reaction, most intense between 6 and 18 hours after ingesting.  Experts agree, it can be minimized by eating a salad or an apple, which contain enzymes, alternating the molecules causing the “stinky breath.”  Mouthwashes that contain strong oxidizing agents, aka chloramine, are also effective.

Growing Garlic

The easiest method for growing garlic is to break a “head” or bulb into cloves, plant them out individually, and in about nine months, each one should have grown into a new head of its own.

Garlic likes full sun and well-drained soil.
Soil is too wet = bulb will rot
Soil is too heavy = small, flavorless bulb

Best sown in the fall for harvesting the following summer.  Garlic sown in the spring will grow, but probably not very large.

Cold growing conditions produce a more intense garlic flavor.

The only maintenance needed is to keep the weeds down and the soil moist.  Never over-water the plants.

You can harvest, as soon as the leaves turn yellow and fade.  For garlic planted in the fall, this will be late spring or early summer.

For spring-planted garlic, harvest between midsummer and early fall.

Recipes using garlic:

Elevate steak and potatoes for two

Simple Asian Pork and Rice Dinner for two

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Some research information was found in the Food Lover’s Companion.


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