The Farmer’s Market Organic Tomato, vs. the Grocery Tomato

Also, one traveled 1000+ miles to reach me, the other traveled 20 miles.

Hold onto this to send to people when they complain that organic is “too expensive.” This organic tomato looks like a bargain when you look at it this way, doesn’t it?

I know which one I want in my body, and which world I want to support with my purchase.
tomato regular vs farmer

Friendly Foods: Eat what your body knows

Friendly Food!

You know that feeling you get when you see fresh, local, in-season food at the farmer’s market? How it almost has an aura of life around it? That’s your body’s way of signaling that it knows that food, knows how to process it and get nutrients from it … and welcomes those “friendly foods.”

In contrast, most of the packaged foods of today contain piles of ingredients that your body can’t recognize and is unable to process. Scientists once considered these chemicals “inert” because they tended to leave the body intact, and didn’t bind with your cells and cause immediate damage. What they missed, however, is the impact of the consistent assault of unrecognizable substances would have on the body.

This would be similar to your boss piling 20 boxes of paper on your desk, but just two of them contained real work that you knew how to do. How much more “sluggish” would you be in completing your tasks, just because you had to process all the “non-work?” That’s what is happening in your body when it has to process all the non-food … and the physical result is our ugly friend, inflammation.

Instead, take a cue from your body’s natural response to the real, friendly food it sees, and give it a week, a month, or a lifetime to show you how spectacularly it can work for you when it doesn’t have to deal with the chemical assault of packaged non-foods!

Regrow Food from Scraps

16 Foods you can Regrow from Scraps

Various plants, below, that you can use to regrow food from what you already have! Great way to recycle and SAVE, right?

Use the links below for more info on each vegetable and fruit.

Apples

Avocado

Bok Choy

Cabbage: Same as celery

Carrot tops (this is a plant, the carrot itself will not re-grow)

Celery

Garlic

Ginger

Green Onions

Leeks: same as green onions

Lemongrass

Lentil Sprouts

Pineapple

Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes

Pumpkin

Romaine Lettuce: Same as celery

Tomatoes

Gardening – One great reason why … and three ways to keep it super-simple!

Why garden?

That’s one great reason to try gardening … and then there’s money savings, taste, nutrition, and I could go on and on! However, I struggle with it for years until I realized the three things that made it workable for me (a crazy busy mom with a career or two going on).

1. Forego digging … forever. The best thing I ever did was buy my handheld tiller (I use this super-simple Mantis), which gets me to the fun part, faster. When I used to have to face down hours with the shovel, and the resulting clods of dirt/clay (I live in GA), I tended to put off planting until it was too late. Oh, and your back will thank you, too.

2. Select a manageable number of plants, and stick to those few. When I bought “a little of everything,” and just stuck it in the ground and hoped for the best, about half of it failed. Now, we stick to the 5 (for me, that’s the magic number) foods that my family loves the most in the summer, and then plant greens around them for the fall. You can always trade with friends who are growing other things, and supplement at the farmer’s market.

3. Use soaker hoses. Buy enough non-toxic hoses (here’s why) – once – to lay them down your rows of plants, and leave them there the whole growing season. Dragging a hose all around your garden is a daily … drag. Setting them up once is an hour or so project. After that, all you have to do is turn on the hose for a bit, and then remember to turn it off (set a timer if you’re anything like me).

That’s what helped me – hope it helps you get gardening this season!

From Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

Strawberry Lies: What’s NOT in your food may surprise you!

quakerYour strawberry-loving kids had Quaker Strawberries and Cream oatmeal for breakfast, with Hershey’s Strawberry milk. Strawberry Fruit Gushers for dessert for lunch, and Straw-Banana-Rama Double Crush Cup Yogurt for an after-school snack. At practice, they drank Kiwi-Strawberry Vitaminwater, and then had Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups after dinner.

So how many strawberries did they eat, for goodness sake? EXACTLY NONE.

Confused?  Read on, and follow the links to credible sources for ingredients, if you want to check for yourself (and you should)!

I’m picking on strawberries, but this is by no means limited to them.

Crystal Light’s “Natural Lemonade” mix doesn’t even contain a single drop of lemon or lemonade (though it does include under 2% of “lemon juice solids, meaning solids extracted from lemons and then turned into a powder)!  Please tell me what’s “Natural” about that?

kraftguacamoleKraft sells a “guacamole dip” that contains less than 2% avocados.

Knorr “Pasta Sides” Chicken Broccoli Fettuccini has more corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, and salt than there is Chicken or Broccoli.

WHAAAAAAATTTTT?

These food marketers are counting on your being too busy (and trusting) to worry with reading the label.  They think that because they add fruit flavors or colors, you’ll be duped into buying their products and feeding them to your families.  And unfortunately, for many of us, they’re right.

If a blouse were marked as “silk” but then you found out later that it was imitation silk, you’d return it.  If you stopped for your morning “coffee” but then later learned it was made of a colored water that was flavored to taste like coffee (but didn’t have any of coffee’s physical or nutritional characteristics), you’d be up in arms.  So why are we giving food marketers so much leeway with chemical colors and flavors that help THEM save money, but dupe us every day?

How to Fight Back

1.  Read labels.  Don’t assume that because you see it on the label, it’s in the box.  Or that if it’s not on the label, it’s not in the box.  

2. Avoid buying packaged foods.  I know, it sounds extreme, but it’s actually easier than you think.  Stay away from the middle of the store – shop the periphery, where most non-processed food lives.  Buy strawberries rather than strawberry-flavored gook.  Make a game of it for a week, just to see how you do – you may be surprised at how simple and tasty your meals become!

3.  If you’re going to choose a packaged food, choose the simplest one the brand offers.  As an example, next time you’re in the grocery store, compare the ingredients in Triscuits (whole wheat, oil, and salt) to the ingredients in any other Triscuit flavor (too long to list here, and includes MSG, ugh).  Or compare regular Quaker Oatmeal to the “strawberries and cream” abomination mentioned above.

Here’s one more for the road:  Snyder’s of Hanover Eat Smart Veggie Crisps claim to be “A bountiful blend of potato, spinach, and tomato chips.”  However, they boast more potassium chloride than spinach.   Doesn’t sound very bountiful to me.

The Petition to Amend the Standard of Identity for Milk … and the REAL Reason it Matters

Glass of milk on tablecloth
Janine Chedid / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Confused about all that you’ve been hearing about aspartame and milk?  Me too … until I did a little digging.  Now I’m not confused, I’m furious.

Background/Status

In 2009, the National Milk Producer’s Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association jointly submitted a petition to the FDA (you can see the information here) to allow the use of “any safe and suitable” sweetener as a flavoring ingredient for milk and 17 other dairy products … without (and this is the key) having to include prominent front-label notices that the milk is “reduced calorie” or “reduced-sugar,” and “artificially sweetened.”  Note that manufacturers already can, and do, use the artificial sweeteners with the labeling.   Also, they can and do use the unmodified “milk” label on milk with added caloric sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as on unsweetened milk.

The FDA has just opened the petition “for public comment and data,” which is why you’re hearing about it now in the news.

Don’t be Fooled: What’s Actually at Stake

Presumably fueling the controversy is aspartame, which is surely one of the most well-known controversial ingredients around today … and I’ve written about that below.  But as is so often the case, what we’re arguing about (aspartame) is actually just a distraction to the real, FAR FAR FAR more troubling issue:  the dairy industry wants to add ingredients without clearly stating that they are there.  Following is a verbatim (bolding is mine) snippet from the Federal Register’s request for comments:

“However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as ‘reduced calorie’ are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims.”

REALLY??  But oh … it gets worse:

“Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can ‘more easily identify its overall nutritional value.'”

Let me try re-phrasing this:  ‘Consumers (particularly children) aren’t smart enough to know that flavored milk contains sugar.  It would just confuse them if we told them, and we don’t think they really want to know anyway, so we shouldn’t tell them.  Instead, we should just quietly replace it with fake sugar, which we think will be better for them.’

Apparently the Dairy Industry thinks we can’t handle the truth.

Next on this slippery slope:  ‘Consumers have an illogical fear of <rodent meat, insects, or anything else you can imagine>, unsupported by scientific evidence.  Rather than troubling them with the details, food manufacturers should be able to include this valuable protein source without calling attention to it.’

Let’s Spread the Word

How do YOU feel about this petition … about the IDFA and NMPF statements above?  PLEASE add your comments to this post, and share your thoughts with others.

Related Information

In include the following information because it is indeed related.   But please help spread the word that it’s the least of the problem with the petition currently under consideration.

The Aspartame Controversy

One side maintains that aspartame is an “excitotoxin” or “neurotoxin” that causes brain changes that lead to ADD/ADHD symptoms, impaired learning/memory, brain tumors, and worse.  I dug really hard, and while there is a lot of media noise around this, there are actually very few published reports that support this view.  Many on this side accuse the powerful food lobby of “hiding” research that shows the neurological and other ill effects.

The other side points out that despite heavy assault from internet memes and hoax emails, asparatame has consistently passed the scrutiny of scientific studies, including ones by the National Cancer Institute, and has been determined to be safe for human consumption.

Personal note:  For myself and my family, I’m sticking with molecules that have been around for long enough to understand long-term (and I mean generational) effects.  Aspartame, introduced in 1981, doesn’t make the cut.  Also, I’m negative on anything that supports further development of my sweet tooth – and at 200 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is a taste bud bomb I don’t need.

What is Phenylalanine and how does it relate to this issue? 

It has an awkward name, but it’s actually a naturally-occurring essential amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of protein).  It’s found in most animal products – meat, dairy, eggs, even human breast milk.  And it is one of the breakdown products of aspartame.

The reason you see warnings about it is that about 1 in 15,000 people have a condition called Phenylketonuria, which prevents them from metabolizing phenylalanine; it instead builds up in their bodies.  These warnings allow them to make safe food choices given their condition.

CNN: Study Finds That World Wastes Half its Food

This is one of the saddest articles I’ve read in a long time: The World Wastes Half its Food.  And much of it due to blemishes or imperfections that the healthiest, heritage, organically-grown food will be more prone to … while the snack cakes live on.

As consumers, we are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.  What we can do:

  • Teach the market not to throw away viable food : insist on organically grown fruits and vegetables, and accept the imperfections that come with that. The worm in the tip of the corn, the dark spot on a banana, or the overripe leaves on the outside of a cabbage are normal and easy to strip away.  Accepting this small investment of time will help teach producers and grocers not to throw away these items (and drive prices up to cover the waste).
  • Be deliberate in your own shopping choices: think of the effort and work that went behind the vegetables you are buying, and the lives invested in the meat items.  Refuse to squander this – buy only what you can eat or store, and if you wind up with a surplus, invite a friend to share dinner, or pass the ingredients to a local food bank before they spoil.
  • Does your CSA or garden sometimes overwhelm even your hungry family? Invest in freezer space and dehydrating tools and challenge yourself to live with as little waste as possible.  Fruits can be made into fruit leathers, veggies into great soups for office lunches, and more.

Have other ideas?  Please comment below and share them … let’s work together to reduce this terrible waste!

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food – TIME

The High Cost of Cheap

Data from a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Thought I’d start the New Year with a post that holds extraordinary meaning.

Three and a half years after it was written, this is still one of the most important articles ever written on food.  I would love your thoughts … and if you think it’s important, please share it.  Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food – TIME.

The graphic to the right was originally published in the Time Magazine version of the story, but is not included in the electronic version … and I thought it was important.