Friday, December 4, 2009

Vertical Farming

This was sent to me by a friends. It's interesting so I thought I would pass it along.

Monday, October 26, 2009

PLU Rhymes for You

It can become quite confusing when trying to buy organic foods from you regular chain grocery store, especially if the organic produce doesn't have it's own section. Here are some tips...

The IFPC (the International Federation for Produce Coding) is a world-wide coalition of fruit and vegetable associations that joined together in 2001 to introduce a global standard for the use of PLU numbers. PLU codes are not part of a regulatory system so there are no requirements that state grocery stores must use them. It is solely for their own convenience if they do. The PLU number is the 4-5 digit code usually found on a small sticker placed on each piece of produce individually.

Organic produce has a 5 digit number that starts with a 9. If you need a pneumonic to remember, how about, "9 is divine."

Conventional produce should have a 4 digit number starting with a 3 or 4. "4 on the floor" or "3, no siree."

Genetically Engineered (GE) produce is a 5 digit number starting with an 8. "8, not on my plate"

*In 1992 the FDA declared biotech foods to be the same as conventional foods. They assigned these foods with the number 8 thinking that consumers would prefer to buy the GE foods. Now the biotech companies are fighting to remove the special designation for their foods. The number 8 is appearing less and less.

Please post a comment if you come up with any better rhymes than I did.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whole Foods and Health Care

For those of you who let your $$ do the talking (or voting). Check this out...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Organic vs. Conventional

A very interesting article I wanted to pass on to all of you. I promise to be a more active blogger come autumn. Salud!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Milk. It Doesn't Do a Body So Good After All

Most ideas come to me from casual conversations I have with friends about food, eating and health. The subject of this blog is no different. This past weekend I was explaining to friends why I no longer drink cow's milk (although I must confess to still eating small amounts of cheese and yogurt). It sparked quite a debate and I wanted to share a more organized response.

My original reason for not drinking milk was due to the amount of hormones it contains. After reading some information on the internet, I may well be on my way to avoiding all dairy products.

1. Hormones = Cancer= Infected Milk - In 1994 the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), a genetically engineered hormone that increases milk production in cows. Milk from cows treated with rbST contains high levels of insulin-like growth factor -I (IGF-I) and increased levels have been found in the blood of individuals consuming dairy products on a regular basis. Recent studies have shown a strong association between IGF-I concentrations and prostate and breast cancers. Studies have shown a 7 fold increase in the risk of breast cancer in women with the highest IGF-I levels and a four fold increase in prostate cancer in men with the highest levels. Research has also shown that the dairy sugar galactose might be toxic to ovarian cells.

This hormone also affects the health of the cow, engorging the udder with an overproduction of milk. The engorged udder is more susceptible to infection thereby encouraging a use of antibiotic treatments.. The milk from rbST cows are found to have higher traces of these drugs, pus and bacteria, that you then drink. Gross.

2. Milk is not a cure for osteoporosis-Osteoporosis results from calcium loss, not insufficient calcium intake. In fact, milk and other dairy products might weaken bones and promote osteoporosis. It appears that high calcium intake before puberty, and especially in young childhood, may have some slight positive effect on bones, but this diet is not the answer. A balanced intake of all the bone minerals, along with adequate vitamin A, C, and D, is what is truly needed. A balanced intake of minerals cannot occur when the diet emphasizes dairy. Dairy's high calcium content causes relative deficiencies in magnesium and other bone-building minerals, and its high phosphorus and animal protein reduces calcium availability. The animal proteins of meat and dairy products cause calcium loss. The level of calcium needed in the diet depends greatly on the animal protein intake. For many of the high animal protein diets of Americans, it may not be possible to consume enough calcium in the diet to compensate for the amount lost to these high-acid proteins. The best answer to decrease your risk for osteoporosis? A diet low in sodium and animal protein. Increasing other calcium rich foods such as molasses, dark salad greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, cucumber, peas, soybeans, squash, most types of beans , kiwi; real maple syrup; brown sugar; and tomatoes. And exercise!

3. Milk and children don't mix-The American Academy of Pediatrics now discourages giving milk to children before their first birthday as it is leading cause of iron deficiency in infants. Milk has also been linked to colic in babies, and breast feeding mothers who drink cows milk have colicky babies. Milk consumption has also been shown to contribute to the development of Type-I diabetes in children. Certain milk proteins resemble molecules on the beta cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin. In some cases, the immune system will make antibodies to the milk protein that mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells. Finally, milk allergies are quite common in children and cause sinus problems, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Milk allergies are also linked to behavior problems in children and to the rise of childhood asthma .

The "Got Milk" campaign may be the most successful in marketing history. The suggestion that milk will make you healthy, beautiful and strong is misleading. It is best to eat a healthful diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fortified foods including cereals and juice.These nutrient rich foods will help you meet your calcium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin D requirements easily and without health concerns. Got Broccoli?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To Dry or Not to Dry

As we are in the heart of winter, I noticed I seem to be eating many more dried fruits as an alternative to buying out of season (and most likely shipped long distances) fruits. I started to wonder if the nutritional value was the same? Better? Worse? Here is a little of what I discovered.
Dried fruit is fruit that has been dried, either naturally or through use of a machine, such as a food dehydrator. Raisins, prunes and dates are examples of popular dried fruits. Other fruits that may be dried include apples, apricots, bananas, cranberries, figs, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes. Historically, drying fruit was a way to preserve the food and to enjoy out of season fruits throughout the year.

But is dried fruit good for you? When you dry fruits, you lose more than just water. You also lose nutrients. For example, when it comes to berries, much of their health benefits is derived from their phytonutrients. Flavonoids like peonidin, petunidin, malvidin, and many others found in berries are susceptible to damage from heat, light, oxygen, and time-since-harvest. While some drying processes are harsher than others, no drying process can leave the phytonutrient content of these berries significantly unchanged. The drying process also destroys most of the vitamin C found in fresh fruit. However, other research suggests that dried fruit provides good nutritional benefits. Dried fruits are high in fiber. They are also rich in vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B6, pantothenic acid) and dietary minerals such as, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese.

Since fruits lose water (and therefore volume) during the drying process, their calorie and sugar content becomes concentrated once they are dried. A handful of dried fruit contains many more calories than the same amount of fresh fruit. For example one cup of dried apricots contains 313 calories as opposed to the 74 calories in the same amount of fresh apricots. While fresh fruits are generally considered a moderate sugar food, dried fruits are considered a high sugar food, high in carbohydrates. It is usually recommended that you eat half the amount of dried fruit as fresh. (That means no more snacking on the entire bag of dried cranberries while I sit working at my desk).

It is also good to be aware that commercially dried fruits often have added ingredients. Commercially prepared dried fruit may contain added sulfur dioxide which can trigger asthma in sensitive individuals, though dried fruit without sulfur dioxide is also available, particularly in health stores. The sulfur is added to "fix" the color of the product. Organic dried fruit is produced without sulfur which results in dark fruit and the flavour is much more characteristic of the fresh fruit. Sweeteners are also typically added to dried fruit (Remember, dried fruit is typically found in the candy aisle). These are usually always added to dried cranberries (and often times other berries) since cranberries are very tart. It is suggested to look for dried cranberries sweetened with a natural sweetener such as apple juice concentrate rather than refined sugar or corn syrup. Dehydrating fruit at home is a simple way avoid these added ingredients. Home dehydrators tend to be less harsh than commercial ones.You may maintain more of the nutirents as a bonus to avoiding those “extra” ingredients.

So, fresh is almost always a better choice. But during the winter months when that isn’t an option, just remember a couple of key points. Portion control, portion control, portion control. A handful is much better than a bagful! Try diving that bag into smaller portions to decrease the temptation to eat more than you should. Also, buy organic or dehydrate at home to avoid the “bonus” ingredients.