Friday, June 29, 2012

Eating Well Doesn't Have to Suffer When On the Run

Unfortunately, eating well doesn't happen magically. But if one knows how to cook and shop a little, great results can be had. Also, a little planning is necessary.

Yesterday, just around lunchtime, I had an appointment that, combined with travel to and from, precluded me from having lunch at home. Not eating was not an option, and, for me, grabbing something from a random place wouldn't be either.

The solution? I put together a quick sandwich in less than 10 minutes, using foods I had on hand.

The result? A hard-boiled egg/avocado/cheddar cheese/lettuce sandwich, with some raw carrots, radishes and snap peas on the side. I also took along some walnuts and dried figs.

No cooking (except warming the frozen Finnish Ruis bread) was involved. I had hard boiled some eggs the day before and prepping everything else entailed just cleaning and/or chopping.

Some may say, "Ten minutes? I don't have ten minutes!" But how long does it take to find a place to buy food, order it and pay for it?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mark Bittman: Not All Calories Are Equal (Amen!)

For all those nutritionists and dieticians still counseling people to count calories, it officially may be time to let go of the 1970s. (And losing the egg white omelet spiel would be nice as well.)

Mark Bittman, in his latest opinion piece ("Which Diet Works?") in The New York Times, addresses the flawed thinking behind counting calories and explains why avoiding processed—especially white—foods is, many now believe, much more essential to good health than the avoidance of calories (and fat and cholesterol).

Remember, it's the type of calorie and the type of fat and the type of cholesterol we are eating that matters. An omelet from nutrient-dense pastured eggs is an absolutely different animal than an omelet made from factory eggs devoid of any flavor and nutrition (and full of genetically engineered and pesticide-laden feed).

Here's the start of Bittman's article:
"One of the challenges of arguing that hyperprocessed carbohydrates are largely responsible for the obesity pandemic ('epidemic' is no longer a strong enough word, say many experts) is the notion that 'a calorie is a calorie.'

"Accept that, and you buy into the contention that consuming 100 calories’ worth of sugar water (like Coke or Gatorade), white bread or French fries is the same as eating 100 calories of broccoli or beans. And Big Food — which has little interest in selling broccoli or beans — would have you believe that if you expend enough energy to work off those 100 calories, it simply doesn’t matter.

"There’s an increasing body of evidence, however, that calories from highly processed carbohydrates like white flour (and of course sugar) provide calories that the body treats differently, spiking both blood sugar and insulin and causing us to retain fat instead of burning it off.

"In other words, all calories are not alike."
Click here to read the entire piece.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Quick Recipe for Pickles (Which I Haven't Tried Yet)

I was at the farmers' market earlier this morning and I bought some Kirby cucumbers, which are great for pickling. I offered two easy pickle recipes last fall, but here's one that's even simpler, which I will try now.

This is the first time I'm making this recipe, so I'll let you know how they turn out. I'll actually add some other flavorings (possibly garlic, mustard seed, coriander seed) and substitute parsley for the tarragon, which I don't have. I may also use more of the Kirbies, since I bought seven or eight.

4 Kirbies, quartered lengthwise or sliced in rounds
2-3 sprigs tarragon
1 ¾ cups distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoon salt (I'll use unrefined sea salt)

1. Place kirbies and tarragon in a jar.

2. Heat vinegar, sugar, crushed pepper flakes and salt in a saucepan, stirring until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into jar. Let cool completely, uncovered. Refrigerate overnight. Will stay for up to 6 weeks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Disparate Views on the Dangers of Pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released its annual shopper's guide to the safest and most dangerous fruits and vegetables in regard to pesticide exposure. Conversely, the Alliance for Food and Farming tells us that the pesticides used in the conventional farming of fruits and vegetables are innocuous.

Who to believe? Personally, I avoid foods grown with pesticides, but the Alliance thinks I'm crazy and wasting my money. And if you consult the group's pesticide residue calculator (click here, then hit "Calculate") you would think that pesticides are as harmless as a book burning.

Despite the Alliance's snazzy safefruitsandveggies website, I'll still make sure that the 571 servings of apples and 3,265 servings of kale I can eat in one day without suffering any effects (even if the apples and kale have the highest pesticide residue recorded for apples by the USDA) are organic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Meat Without Drugs Campaign Takes Flight

Following up on last Thursday's post about the burgeoning movement to rid our food supply of the antibiotics that are unnecessarily administered to our healthy livestock, we should all be aware of the Meat Without Drugs campaign, a concerted effort by a handful of consumer watchdogs (Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, et al.) which are trying to force real change.

The campaign has started a petition that asks Trader Joe's to sell meat raised without antibiotics:
"We’re calling on Trader Joe’s to only source their meat from animals raised without antibiotics. As one of the most progressive national retailers, Trader Joe’s has already demonstrated care for their customers’ health by saying no to GMOs, artificial colors and trans fats in the products they sell. Trader Joe’s can also be a leader by helping move the livestock industry in the right direction."
Click here to sign the petition.

(Currently, Whole Foods is the sole national food market that only carries meat from animals raised without antibiotics.)

The group also produced a video (below) that succinctly sums up the issue in 93 seconds. (If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

New York Times Op-Ed: "Let's Add a Little Dirt to Our Diet"

There is an interesting opinion piece in today's New York Times. Click here to read the entire article, but here are the first three paragraphs:
"Over 7,000 strong and growing, community farmers’ markets are being heralded as a panacea for what ails our sick nation. The smell of fresh, earthy goodness is the reason environmentalists approve of them, locavores can’t live without them, and the first lady has hitched her vegetable cart crusade to them. As health-giving as those bundles of mouthwatering leafy greens and crates of plump tomatoes are, the greatest social contribution of the farmers’ market may be its role as a delivery vehicle for putting dirt back into the American diet and in the process, reacquainting the human immune system with some “old friends.”

"Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. As nature’s blanket, the potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored co-evolutionary process that established “normal” background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies. This research suggests that reintroducing some of the organisms from the mud and water of our natural world would help avoid an overreaction of an otherwise healthy immune response that results in such chronic diseases as Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of allergic disorders.

"In a world of hand sanitizer and wet wipes (not to mention double tall skinny soy vanilla lattes), we can scarcely imagine the preindustrial lifestyle that resulted in the daily intake of trillions of helpful organisms. For nearly all of human history, this began with maternal transmission of beneficial microbes during passage through the birth canal — mother to child. However, the alarming increase in the rate of Caesarean section births means a potential loss of microbiota from one generation to the next. And for most of us in the industrialized world, the microbial cleansing continues throughout life. Nature’s dirt floor has been replaced by tile; our once soiled and sooted bodies and clothes are cleaned almost daily; our muddy water is filtered and treated; our rotting and fermenting food has been chilled; and the cowshed has been neatly tucked out of sight. While these improvements in hygiene and sanitation deserve applause, they have inadvertently given rise to a set of truly human-made diseases."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is This the Moment for Ridding Antibiotics from Our Food?

We never know what will be the next issue that receives widespread attention that forces drastic change, but a candidate surely has to be the administering of antibiotics to our healthy livestock.

As I've written previously, over 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy livestock (i.e. chickens, cattle and pigs) for the purposes of helping them get bigger faster and preventing disease in the insufferable conditions of commercial factory feedlots. Unfortunately, this use has fostered the growth of superbacteria resistant to the antibiotics that have served us so well for decades.

A boost for the movement to rid our food of antibiotics came earlier this week when Consumer Reports released a study, "Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” that has garnered quite a bit of publicity. Could this be the start of the groundswell?

Key findings from the study:
  • "A majority of respondents (86%) agreed that customers should be able to buy meat and poultry raised without antibiotics at their local supermarkets.
  • "Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that meat raised without antibiotics is available in the meat section where they usually shop. Of those who do not have it in their local meat section, 82% said they would buy it if it were available.
  • "Studies over the last decade have indicated that raising meat and poultry without antibiotics could be accomplished at minimal cost to the consumer—about 5 cents extra per pound for pork and less than a penny per pound extra for chicken. More than 60% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay at least five cents a pound more for meat raised without antibiotics. Over a third (37%) would pay a dollar or more extra per pound.
  • "The majority of respondents were extremely or very concerned about issues related to the use of antibiotics in animal feed, including the potential creation of 'superbugs' due to overuse of antibiotics, unsanitary and crowded conditions for livestock, human consumption of antibiotic residue, and environmental effects due to agricultural runoff containing antibiotics."
Concerned? Forward this to a friend. Tell family. Buy antibiotic-free meats, if possible. If the food market where you shop doesn't have antibiotic-free meat, tell the store manager you want it. I'm setting the over-under for the cessation of administering of antibiotics to healthy livestock at 2020. Anyone want to help the under come true?

Click here to read the report. It really is worth the couple minutes and it may change the way you think and shop.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bees Continue to Die Off; PAN Asks, "Does the EPA Care?"

Here's the latest action alert from Pesticide Action Network (PAN), dealing with the large-scale die-off of bees and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) probable weak response. Click here to send an email to Lisa Jackson, the EPA Administrator.
"It’s pollinator week, a made-up holiday focusing on a very real problem: bees are still dying off en masse, and without them, we’re in trouble. This week and next, EPA is deciding just how “real” a threat pesticides pose to our pollinators. We need to help them focus on what’s really at stake.

"Bee die-offs are an emergency. Period. » In March, PAN joined partners and beekeepers from around the country in filing a legal petition with EPA, calling on the agency to make use of its emergency powers to protect bees from Bayer's clothianidin.

"Sources tell us that in the next two weeks, EPA will decide whether or not bees dying off at unprecedented rates constitutes an 'imminent hazard.' Since the wholesale decline of bees and other pollinators is most certainly an imminent hazard requiring emergency intervention, we want to be sure that EPA knows we're watching.

“'Imminent hazard' is bureaucracy-speak from our notoriously weak federal pesticide law (FIFRA). It sets the condition under which EPA can actually take swift action to cancel the registration of a pesticide. They very rarely do so in part because they know the pesticide industry will keep that decision tied up in court. In other words, industry sues EPA when the agency does its job.

"EPA, use your power to protect bees now» If bees dying off en masse isn’t an 'imminent hazard' and an emergency, we don’t know what is."
Take action now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unexplored Universe: Millions of Grain Salads to be Discovered

A couple million, if not more.

That's how many variations of grain salads exist, with, I'm sure, a couple million more to be discovered.

There is no right or wrong; pick a grain (quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, barley, spelt, etc.), add raw or cooked vegetables (yes, whatever you just thought of works), some protein (beans, beef, chicken, etc.) if desired and a little flavoring (olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, unrefined sea salt, fresh ground pepper, etc.). Oh, you have some fresh (or dried) herbs handy? Add those as well.

Grain salads, which are a staple for me, can be made in bulk and make for a quick snack, lunch, dinner or meal when traveling. Pictured is a quinoa, (leftover) chicken thigh, kale and arugula salad.

Not comfortable throwing anything (or everything) you have in your refrigerator into a bowl and mixing? Go to a food market, see what is being offered in the prepared food department, get some flavor ideas and make your own for a third of the price (if not cheaper).

You want simple? How about quinoa, peas (frozen, that you've thawed), chopped carrot, parsley, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper? Wait, you have some asparagus from the farmers' market? Oh, and that telephone book from 2003? Chop that up and add as well.

To reiterate: use whatever you have!

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Thicken a Too-Watery Vegetable Soup, Using Potatoes

I made a zucchini (summer squash, really) soup the other day and followed the technique I use for most puréed vegetable soups, including the asparagus, carrot and potato-leek soups I've previously written about.

However, in this case, I messed up and added too much water to the pot after building the soup's base (sweated—not browned—onions, garlic and various types of zucchini). After 30 minutes of simmering and after using a hand-held immersion blender to purée the mixture, I was left with a watery mess that was less than palatable.

What to do to thicken the soup? I went to the market and bought a handful of small Yukon Gold potatoes, which I cut and boiled in water until they were soft. I added the potatoes to the zucchini soup and used the immersion blender again. As hoped, the cooked potatoes thickened the mixture as needed. (Thinking about it, I could have cooked the potatoes in the zucchini soup.)

Just to be safe, I think I'll always have potatoes on hand whenever I make a puréed vegetable soup. Either that or add the correct amount of water.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Sodas, Sports Drinks and Sweetened Juices This Weekend

OK, here's my call to action for the weekend:

Let's make the world a better place for the next two days by not drinking soda, sports drinks and sweetened fruit juices and teas.

I'm sort of like Michael Bloomberg, but without all the zeroes.

Have a nice (soda, sports drink, sweetened fruit juice and tea-less) weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Unfortunate Move Away from Nutrient-Dense Baby Foods

Our societal straying from the nutrient-dense foods that have been favored by cultures for centuries extends across the entire age spectrum. The contrived call over the past 35 years to sidestep fats, calories and cholesterol has foisted health troubles onto adults and children and is becoming more and more evident with every passing year. The same situation, I just realized, also holds true for babies.
I happened upon a book, "Super Nutrition for Babies," that advocates feeding babies nutrient-dense foods such as beef marrow, beef and chicken liver, soft-boiled egg yolks, fish roe, sauerkraut and tropical fruits (i.e. mango, papaya), all nutritional powerhouses that aid in development, health, intelligence and, many think, appearance. Hold your gasps; these foods have been eaten by babies for . . . ever. 

But, unfortunately, any parent wanting to provide the enzymes, fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals not available in commercial vegetable- and cereal-based baby food has to go it alone, since the days of finding organ parts and any meat other than beef and chicken in small glass jars are decades past. 

The book reproduces an ad from 1942 for Gerber's Baby Food that highlights liver, beef heart and lamb, foods that are now verboten because of their fat content or some other nonsensical reason. There's also a 1932 ad for Campbell's Soup, one that lists, among other varieties, clam chowder, mutton and ox tail. Obviously, there is no concern for shellfish allergies or babies not liking certain flavors. 

The more I think about it, the more I believe that our current health ills start in utero and are concretized with the very first foods we eat. Our predilection for nutrient-poor, bland foods doesn't seem so outlandish when looked at in this regard.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mark Bittman on the Plight of Food Workers: "The 20 Million"

I had another topic in mind for today's post until I read Mark Bittman's column, "The 20 Million," in today's online edition of The New York Times.

Bittman address a topic—the welfare of restaurant and food workers—that, personally, I had never thought about before. In addition to discussing the federal minimum wage for tipped workers ($2.13), Bittman provides these sobering facts:
"Around one in eight jobs in the food industry provides a wage greater than 150 percent of the regional poverty level. More than three-quarters of the workers surveyed don’t receive health insurance from their employers. (Fifty-eight percent don’t have it at all; national health care, anyone?) More than half have worked while sick or suffered injuries or health problems on the job, and more than a third reported some form of wage theft in the previous week. Not year: week.

"There are societal considerations as well as moral ones: Food workers use public assistance programs (including, ironically, SNAP or food stamps), at higher rates than the rest of the United States work force. And not surprisingly, more than a third of workers use the emergency room for primary care, and 80 percent of them were unable to pay for it. These are tabs we all pick up."
And for those of us who care so deeply about sustainability as it relates to our food, water and land, why not a similar concern for people?
"If you care about sustainability — the capacity to endure — it’s time to expand our definition to include workers. You can’t call food sustainable when it’s produced by people whose capacity to endure is challenged by poverty-level wages."
I don't eat out much, but the next time I do I may be inclined to leave a bigger tip.

Click here to read "The 20 Million" in its entirety.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Organic Food Production and Comsumption Rises in Bulgaria and Netherlands; Just the Start of the Food Revolution?

More and more shelf space in American supermarkets is being dedicated to organic food. The trend, though, is also happening globally as the number of people who understand the import of avoiding food grown with the aid of pesticides, genetic engineering, hormones and antibiotics grows daily.

First, news from Bulgaria, courtesy of the Sofia News Agency:
"The share of organic vs conventional production in Bulgaria registered a 30% annual increase in 2011, according to Tsvetan Dimitrov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food.

"Speaking Tuesday at the opening of a seminar on the benefits of organic products, he said that the control system indicated a total area of 26 622 hectares used for organic farming in 2011 due to the increased demand for such products on the European and global markets.

"Tuesday's seminar took place within a forum held in Grand Hotel Sofia to present information about the benefits of organic food products and their quality, as well as price trends in the sector.

"Bulgaria's Deputy Agriculture Minister explained that cereals were most popular among organic producers, with a 20% annual increase in cereal areas in 2011.

"He noted that wheat, corn, barley and rye had occupied the largest organic areas in 2011.

"Dimitrov announced that the areas used for growing organic vegetables had increased by 60% to 670 hectares in 2011 from 2010.

"He said that the areas used for growing perennial crops like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and chestnuts (also very popular among organic farmers), had registered an annual increase of over 60%, followed by plum trees with 40% and apricot and apple trees, according to data from the control system.

"He informed that olive trees and other unusual plants for Bulgaria had been introduced in the system for the first time.

"Dimitrov drew attention to the fact that organic livestock breeding had also increased significantly in 2011, with a total of 10 000 sheep and goats, 58 000 bee families and the first registered organic bison farm with 200 animals."
And, not the be outdone, this from Radio Netherlands Worldwide:
"The economic affairs ministry announced on Wednesday that turnover for the organic food sector had increased by about 30 percent compared to the year before for the second time in a row.

"The steady growth can largely be explained through a strong increase in the supply of organic meat. And in 2011 many supermarkets adjusted their range to include a larger selection of organic and fair-trade products.

"Sales of products carrying the popular EKO hallmark saw a 20.1 percent increase to a total turnover of 134.4 million euros, the biggest increase in 10 years. Turnover for the animal-friendly products carrying the Beter Leven (a better life) hallmark nearly doubled.

"Beter Leven is an initiative of the Dutch animal protection society intended to encourage farmers to change over to more humane production methods. The more sustainable and animal-friendly the product, the more stars – one, two or three –on the label.

"The total market share of organically produced food in 2011 grew from 3.5 to 4.5 percent."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Some Helpful Information on Understanding Ingredient Lists

A quick reminder on reading ingredient lists: Individual ingredients within a product are listed in their order of weight. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
"Listing ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last."
For much more information about understanding ingredient lists, click here to visit the ingredient list fact sheet on the FDA's website.

Also, some ingredients used in the production of meat, poultry and eggs do not have to be identified. Click here to read more about this.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mark Bittman: "What Is Food?"; Me: Pissed Off

In his column this week ("What Is Food?") in the online edition of The New York Times, Mark Bittman touches on the move by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restrict the sale of large-sized sodas, sports drinks and other heavily sweetened beverages.

Critics of Bloomberg's health initiatives (dealing with smoking, calories and transfats, as well) decry governmental overreach and an infringement of personal liberties. Bittman thinks those in this camp are flat-out wrong. I agree. Why? Bittman nails it when he writes:
"To (loosely) paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it. And just as we all pay for the ravages of smoking, we all pay for the harmful effects of Coke, Snapple and Gatorade."
Let's pause for a second and think about how the costs of just obesity-related health care ("$147 million and climbing" according to Bittman) are thinning your wallet and chipping away at services we have long taken for granted.

Anyone pay for health care out of his own pocket? I do and you don't want to know what it costs per month. Actually, I'm embarrassed to tell the number, especially because the government should be paying me for never visiting a doctor and never buying pills. Bottom line, I am subsidizing the consumption of Coke, Gatorade, white rice, Big Macs, low-fat mayonnaise and egg white omelets and it drives me mad.

Oh, you are lucky enough to have your insurance subsidized by your employer? If that's the case, think about why your household garbage is only collected once per week, why the local library is now closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, why the lights at the neighborhood park don't come on at dusk and why there are 26 other kids in your 7-year-old's classroom.

Obviously, the economic tradeoffs aren't as simple as I describe, but I trust you understand my point and share my frustration. For me, the attack on personal liberties is not the taxing or restricting of unhealthy junk but the stealing of my hard-earned dollars to pay for the consumption of these foodstuffs.

Click here to read "What Is Food?"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Easy Cooking 101: How to Make a Quick Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries are in season now. I eat them as is most of the time, but I also like to make a quick strawberry sauce that I spoon over yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

Making the sauce is simple; here's how:

Cut strawberries into small pieces. Put into a pot with a little water (just enough to coat the bottom of the pot). Cook over low heat, making sure to stir occasionally so the strawberries don't stick to the bottom of the pan. The strawberries will give off a bit of liquid, which, when combined with the water, will make a sauce. Cook until the strawberries are soft, about five minutes. Let cool and store in the refrigerator. The sauce will thicken further during storage.

Optional additions to help bring out flavor include a little fresh lemon juice and unrefined sea salt. If the strawberries are on the tart side and/or you have a sweet tooth, add a little sugar at the beginning of the cooking process.

The same technique can be used with blueberries, raspberries, cherries, etc. This sauce is just a rudimentary version of a jam, but without the long cooking time and the large quantities of water and sugar.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Disney to Limit Ads for Junk Foods on TV, Radio and Web

Did everyone see what Disney announced yesterday? The headline from the story in The New York Times says it all: "Promoting Nutrition, Disney to Restrict Junk-Food Ads."

Yes, it may be mostly self-serving (“This is not altruistic. This is about smart business,” said Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman), but we'll take it!

Here are the first two paragraphs of article; click here to read the entire story. By the way, Disney's new standards won't kick in until 2015 because of existing contracts.
"The Walt Disney Company, in an effort to address concerns about entertainment’s role in childhood obesity, announced on Tuesday that all products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites must comply with a strict new set of nutritional standards.

"The restrictions on ads extend to Saturday-morning cartoons on ABC stations owned by Disney. Under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals — both current Disney advertisers — along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gary Taubes: "Salt, We Misjudged You"

Fat is bad for us. Cholesterol will kill you. Avoid salt.

The drums pounding these ideas into our collective consciousness (and subconsciousness) are incessant and omnipresent. Yet, as the journalist Gary Taubes continues to expertly show, they are only hypotheses that—to the detriment of our well-being—have morphed into accepted government-sanctioned beliefs.

Taubes's latest undressing is of the "avoid salt" mantra. In "Salt, We Misjudged You," which appeared in Sunday's New York Times, Taubes does everything but simply regurgitate what doctors, nutritionists, politicians, grandmothers, newscasters and the guy behind the deli counter describe as fact.

According to Taubes, not only is salt necessary for our survival, but restricting its intake can have fatal results. Yet, fat is bad for us, cholesterol will kill you, avoid salt . . .

From "Salt, We Misjudged You," which everyone should read and pass on:
"Salt consumption is said to raise blood pressure, cause hypertension and increase the risk of premature death. This is why the Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines still consider salt Public Enemy No. 1, coming before fats, sugars and alcohol. It’s why the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that reducing salt consumption is as critical to long-term health as quitting cigarettes.

"And yet, this eat-less-salt argument has been surprisingly controversial — and difficult to defend. Not because the food industry opposes it, but because the actual evidence to support it has always been so weak."
"The idea that eating less salt can worsen health outcomes may sound bizarre, but it also has biological plausibility and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, too. A 1972 paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the less salt people ate, the higher their levels of a substance secreted by the kidneys, called renin, which set off a physiological cascade of events that seemed to end with an increased risk of heart disease. In this scenario: eat less salt, secrete more renin, get heart disease, die prematurely.

"With nearly everyone focused on the supposed benefits of salt restriction, little research was done to look at the potential dangers. But four years ago, Italian researchers began publishing the results from a series of clinical trials, all of which reported that, among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.

"Those trials have been followed by a slew of studies suggesting that reducing sodium to anything like what government policy refers to as a 'safe upper limit' is likely to do more harm than good."
Please, read the entire article.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today Is National "Read the Ingredient List" Day

I am officially decreeing today Read the Ingredient List Day. You'll be surprised what you'll find in your food upon closer inspection. Here's an example (if you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch the video):

Friday, June 1, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup Won't Get a New Name (Thankfully)

Wow! The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually got something right yesterday when it didn't kowtow to big industry and rejected a request from a trade group to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup to corn sugar.

Here's the story from the Well blog from The New York Times:
"The United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected a request from the Corn Refiners Association to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup.

"The association, which represents the companies that make the syrup, had petitioned the F.D.A. in September 2010 to begin calling the much-maligned sweetener 'corn sugar.' The request came on the heels of a national advertising campaign promoting the syrup as a natural ingredient made from corn.

"But in a letter, Michael M. Landa, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the F.D.A., denied the petition, saying that the term 'sugar' is used only for food 'that is solid, dried and crystallized.'

"'HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose,' the letter stated. 'Thus, the use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties.'

"In addition, the F.D.A. concluded that the term 'corn sugar' has been used to describe the sweetener dextrose and therefore should not be used to describe high-fructose corn syrup. The agency also said the term 'corn sugar' could pose a risk to consumers who have been advised to avoid fructose because of a hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption.

“'Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern,' the letter stated.

"In a statement, the Corn Refiners Association said that F.D.A. officials had rejected the petition on 'narrow, technical grounds.' 'They did not address or question the overwhelming scientific evidence that high-fructose corn syrup is a form of sugar and is nutritionally the same as other sugars,' the statement said."