The Weekly Menu #freefrom #menuplanning

Time for the weekly menu again!

This week I want to talk a little more about glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Round-Up) and GMOs.  There is a gene that produces the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthetase (EPSPS) in plants, fungi and bacteria but not in mammals.  This enzyme plays a critical role in the Shikimate pathway, which synthesizes the amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan.  Glyphosate targets and inhibits EPSPS leading to the eventual death of those organisms because these amino acids are no longer made available for biological function.

It has long been argued that glyphosate is safe for humans because it does not affect our biological pathways because we do not have the Shikimate pathway essential to making these amino acids.  But we now know that we have microbes in our gut, on our skin and in our environment that can assist us biochemically.

In one of the Monsanto patents, they have separated EPSPS into two classes.  Class I EPSPS is inhibited by glyphosate (meaning it kills the bacteria, fungi and plants).  They created and patented a Class II set of EPSPSs that are tolerant to glyphosate.  There are amino acids in certain portions of the Class II EPSPS that confer tolerance to glyphosate.

These types of resistant genes come from a few species of bacteria that actually mutated to survive excess glyphosate exposure in run-off pools and other concentrated exposures.  And those mutant genetic sequences that developed resistance were cloned and patented and transferred into corn or soy as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Then the plants were sprayed with Round-up and the only thing left living was the plant with the clone that still made EPSPS despite of the presence of glyphosate. And then eventually weeds that developed resistance.  But the point is that it is not only a herbicide but also kills microbes – an antimicrobial.

GMOs that don’t use poison as a selective pressure are actually pretty incredible, in my opinion.  Adding vitamins to rice or internally stopping viral infections in fruit is very useful.

And now glyphosate is being used on non-GMO plants, too.  Like wheat.

So for a long time, I have wondered if glyphosate in the environment and even in our food supply was killing off microorganisms in mass.  How similar or diverse is EPSPS among a wide variety of microbes?  Is glyphosate killing off the microbes in the soil?  Our gut?  Is everything contaminated with glyphosate now?

When I went back to school at JHU to learn more about genomics and took my phylogenetics class, it was absolutely clear that there is very little genetic difference among bacteria when it comes to the EPSPS gene.  Especially, between pathogens and beneficial bacteria.  The amino acids that are different in the resistant bugs that were cloned are very different.  So it seems like the answer it probably yes.

Although, I still am not sure how glyphosate is metabolized in our bodies.  Is it harmful not only to our gut bacteria but what else does it do?  Is it triggering people genetically predisposed to Celiac disease?  Other diseases? And at what dosage?  There are a few studies trying to understand this.  I really want to go back into the lab to study it myself.

Then there are questions like how much is actually in the food?  We shop for non-GMO foods to mainly avoid glyphosate but that label isn’t really an assurance.  Especially, as brands like Triscuit put the label on their wheat crackers.  Wheat isn’t a GMO, but are they free from glyphosate?  So I’m very excited about The Detox Project and testing products for glyphosate residues.  Then they will label glyphosate residue free.  It is a much clearer label.

Anyway, these are the things I think about.  And week by week, we try to keep it our food “free from” and as clean it as possible.  We are always learning and evolving.  Personally, I’ve noticed remarkable improvement in my health and reduced my inflammation significantly.  Since we also really love food, I try to make our weekly menus fun, too.  So here we go…

I’ve linked to older recipes and put updated notes here if anything has changed.

The Weekly Menu

It’s mostly non-GMO or organic, and totally “free from” gluten, dairy/casein (except goat cheese or Parmesan), xanthan gum, and more…

Meatless Monday –  Roasted Cauliflower tossed in Buffalo Sauce (Frank’s Red Hot sauce, ghee, vinegar, cayenne, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce),  Fried Artichoke Hearts (using crushed organic rice cereal as the breadcrumbs), Celery and Ranch Dressing (using Follow Your Heart vegan sour cream and organic spices)

Tuesday –  Chicken Tortilla Soup

Wednesday – Greek Salad

Thursday –  Spiced Roasted Chicken (we’ve started using organic air-chilled chicken) & Roasted Seasonal Organic Veggies

Friday – Dinner Out

Saturday –  Italian Turkey Meatballs (using Little Northern Bakehouse bread ends to make bread crumbs and locally sourced ground turkey) with Organic GF Pasta & Red Sauce

Sunday – Homemade Beef Stew

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Deana Larkin Evans

Hi! I'm Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I also create weekly menus to save time and money while reducing stress and food waste. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010 and dairy/casein-free (except for the occasional Parmesan or goat cheese) in 2014. I'm kind of a science nerd, too. In the '90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook 'em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course.

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