FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Organic Foods: A Continuing Debate

Conventional food producers often declare that organic farmers use more pesticides than most people think and that some are relatively toxic. Organic farmers deny this claim; as a result, there are obvious biases on both sides of the debate.

Organic foods do not appear to be healthier than their conventional counterparts; however they are gaining in popularity with consumers primarily due to food safety and environmental issues. In my opinion, choosing organic food is a personal choice.

Here is what we know. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, antibiotics, or growth hormones. The USDA’s National Organic Program has developed standards such as what or what not the food product contains. For  example, an organic food may not include ingredients that are treated with irradiation,  produced by genetic modification, or grown using sewage sludge. Certain natural pesticides and some manufactured agents are permitted. Farming and processing operations that produce and handle foods labeled as organic must be certified by the USDA.  Three definitions have been established:

  • 100 % organic = 100% organically produced  raw or processed ingredients
  • Organic = contains at least 95% organically produced raw or processed ingredients
  • Made with organic ingredients = contains at least 70% organically produced ingredients

The following article attempts to further clarify how pesticide use in the organic food industry is regulated.

CLICK HERE.

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Have a Food Allergy? Food for Thought?

Ever since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906, have we had so much food adulteration occurring in our food supply.  Here is the current problem:

  • Food allergies are on the rise that began about 2007. Many allergic reactions can cause a serious health crisis (i.e. anaphylaxis) which can be fatal.
  • This anomaly occurs primarily in the U.S. and is less common in most other countries in the world.
  • Despite the widely known fact that correlation does not equal causation, research suggests a causative factor may be something in the U.S. environment (food supply).
  • The food supply currently has many new ingredients that did not exist in the past; some or one of these may be triggering subtle reactions of our immune system since its primary function is to recognize foreign proteins.
  • GMO ingredients are just one of these relatively recent additions and critics suggest a connection with allergic reactions.   Another possibility is that intentional food additives have been added without proper safety testing such as emulsifiers, artificial colors or flavors, for example. One unintentional additive includes the explosive use of glyphosate on food crops, and is a widely used herbicide. The World Health Organization suggests it may be carcinogenic although this has not yet been officially established.
  • Food allergies are contributing to burgeoning health care costs as well as affecting our health, especially our children.

What can we do?  Recent surveys indicate that consumers want GMO labeling and have expressed a growing interest in fewer ingredients and more organic choices. The problem is enhanced by the fact that some of these ingredients are controversial as to their toxicity potential. More clarification is certainly needed.

CLICK HERE

FYI: A proposal to label GMO foods was on the 2012 ballot in California and designated as Prop 37. By the way, the legislation did not pass.  For a previous post, CLICK HERE.


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The Impossible Burger-Still Going Strong?

 

The sales of meatless burgers continues to rise. The Impossible Burger appears to be popular with those who have tried them. The taste of any  type of these meat substitutes will be the key to their acceptance.  Still, food industry continues  to invest in their production.  For a previous post, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE


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Fabulous Fiber

The debate over the benefits of dietary fiber has lingered for many decades.  By itself, it doesn’t provide any vitamins and minerals and is not broken down or absorbed in the digestive tract as are  other nutrients.  However, fiber is found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans (legumes) and grains that do provide us with the essential nutrients we need. So it rides along with these nutrients.

Fiber is classified as soluble and insoluble  but most foods contain a mixture of both types.

Good sources of soluble fiber: legumes, prunes,  apricots, raisins, oranges, bananas, oats, apples, eggplant, flax seed

Good sources of insoluble fiber: wheat bran, whole-wheat bread, broccoli, corn, eggplant, apple skins, nuts and seeds

How much do we need?  For young men the recommendation is 38 grams/day and for young women, 25 grams a day. Consider this example:

“Eating a bowl of Raisin Bran with a 1/2 cup of strawberries for breakfast, a sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes and an apple for lunch, eggplant Parmesan for dinner, and popcorn for a snack will provide about 25 grams.” Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition, Science and Applications, Third Edition.

Based on diet analyses I have seen, the average daily intake is only about 9-11 grams a day.

So you can see that it is not easy to get enough fiber that is best explained in the linked article below.

What does it actually do for us?

CLICK HERE.


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Fighting Back the Food Industry

It’s about time there are serious attempts to prevent the food industry from its persistent tactics to try to influence the Dietary Guidelines, the consumer and our children’s health. Read what Chile did to try to combat the advertising tactics that often are directed at children by company brands.

The article has many important implications on changing the toxic food environment – which in my opinion is at the heart of the obesity/diabetes crisis. If consumers do not demand positive changes,  we may never begin  to turn around this crisis  that decidedly affects our health and the resulting health care costs. It’s a long read but carries an important message. The Comments are also very supportive of these kinds of initiatives. Kudos to Chile.

CLICK HERE.