The Natural Products Expo West is right around the corner and I am thrilled to be part of this event! From March 7-11, 2018, the world's top food pioneers, healthy food innovators and up-and-coming natural product brands shaping the future of food will come together under one roof.Read More
“The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they nourish themselves.”-Brillat-Savarin
In case you’ve missed it, the food and nutrition landscape is in the midst of a massive recalibration right now. This is driven by many factors, but 2 in particular stand out at present: 1. A robust and growing body of evidence around climate change, and its current and future potential impact on human health and agriculture. 2. A newly emerging values framework around food whose calculus goes deeper than the Nutrition Facts panel or price.
As with most shifts of this magnitude, there are growing pains and plenty of disruptions. There’s spirited and valid debate. And a need for clear definitions around the fast-evolving language that’s framing these conversations.
But they are happening, and they are transforming the nutrition world in considerable ways, ushering in what I call “Food 3.0”. A few cases in point from recent weeks:
- A steady parade of food companies have announced they are dropping dozens of ingredients (such as artificial colors and flavors) their customers have said are unappetizing if they are deemed safe by the FDA. From General Mills to Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, ingredient lists are getting a major makeover to be more aligned with what eaters want-and don’t want-to see in their food.
What it means: While much of this category of Food 3.0 represents a tinkering at the margins (removing artificial colors from breakfast cereals doesn’t improve sugar content, for instance), it points to the widespread momentum and breadth of the movement for change.
- In recent months Walmart, Tyson, McDonalds and other influential companies have made public (albeit non-binding) pledges to curb antibiotic use in livestock attached to timelines. While certainly not perfect, it’s a positive first step. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, up to 70% of antibiotics important to human medicine sold in the US are administered to food animals. And evidence suggests this is a major factor in the surge of antibiotic resistance.
What it means: A new clarity is rapidly emerging on how deeply food production, human health, agricultural health, and the environment are interrelated. Thanks to a vigorous body of research and Big Data, a hallmark of Food 3.0 is that issues that were once viewed in silos are increasingly revealed to be interconnected; the more powerfully they ladder directly back to eaters own well being and safety (in this case, drug resistant bacteria), the more people feel a fresh urgency to find alternatives. I suspect that the rapidly growing field of nutrigenomics will illuminate these connections-and what’s at stake for us personally in terms of our genetic expression-even further.
- Perhaps most notable, the considerable dust-up happening right now as industry groups rebel against sustainability being included in 2015 Dietary Guidelines, getting a rider inserted in two Congressional bills that would all but gridlock the 2015 Dietary Guidelines from being released (check out these summaries by my colleagues Ashley Colpaart RD and Carrie Dennett MPH RD to see what’s at stake for the scientific process).
My take: This is perhaps the supreme example of the tensions- and high stakes involved- as Food 3.0 moves into the mainstream. (If you are a registered dietitian, please click here to take action and send a message to Congress.) But while we wait for the politics to play out, Americans at all points on the food system-from farmers and growers, to social entrepreneurs, to visionary food companies, to everyday eaters-continue to drive tremendous positive shifts in our food system that are ushering in something better. Something more resilient. And more transparent. With a fuller and fairer accounting of cost. When I see all of this, I am heartened to think that policy is but one tool we have to effect change in the food system.
- Lastly, there’s the Pope’s groundbreaking Encyclical calling for swift action on climate change and a new moral framework where environmental stewardship of our shared planet is a fundamental aspect in our role as human beings.
My take: At its core, this mindset is what Food 3.0 is really about. At the granular level, it remains to be seen whether politicians integrate this into ideologies and policies. But as Dr. David Katz summed up beautifully, no matter your personal religious or spiritual views, the Pope’s potential to shift thinking and behavior for billions of people around the world offers a glimmer of hope. To turn the tide. To make a difference. To preserve our planet, and a vibrant food system-for our children.
So back to Brillat-Savarin: As a nation, are we changing the way we nourish ourselves?
I believe we are. Food 3.0 is here.
What’s Food 1.0 and Food 2.0, you ask?
I’ll lay that out in my next blog.
Memorial Day - that unofficial kick-off to summer we’ve all been waiting for - means white pants, flip-flops, and breaking out some fun cocktail glasses. In my house, it also always means lots of food prep.
So as you head to the grocery store or farmers market to load up for weekend festivities, here are four surprising summertime foods that promise to optimize your health with some of the top nutritional value per penny while also delivering delicious taste in every bite. And, they are easier on the planet (and your budget) than grilling up a bunch of burgers and dogs. Add them to your next shopping list or look for them on your next trip to the farmers’ market this week to save big - and maybe even free up a little space in that budget for an extra Memorial Day cocktail.
Beans and Potatoes. When it comes to comparing the cost of fruits and vegetables, beans and potatoes come out on top. A recent study comparing nearly 100 fruits and vegetables found that beans and potatoes deliver the most nutrients per penny of the bunch. Beans and potatoes also boast impressive amounts of two nutrients the vast majority of Americans are falling well short of for radiant health– potassium and fiber.
Try smoky black beans this weekend in a soft grilled taco, a zesty homemade hummus made with chickpeas, garlic and fresh squeezed lemon or serve a side of black-eyed pea salad at your Memorial Day BBQ. And check out this bright and bold take on the traditional ho-hum Memorial Day Potato Salad Recipe from the US Potato Board (I have no financial relationship with them, just love this recipe): Potato Salad with Quick Preserved Lemon and Arugula.
Watermelon. The farmers’ market is the perfect place to find these ultra-hydrating, ultra-economical fruits at a bargain right now. Many supermarket chains also offer locally grown summer melons, so look there as well. One of the top fruits when it comes to the antioxidant lycopene, watermelon racks up even more nutrition points because it’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Two cups of watermelon is also a good source of potassium, a key nutrient when it comes to healthy blood pressure. As the name implies, watermelon is rich in water (about 92%), which is why they feel so heavy when you pick one up. It’s this high water content that makes it a fantastic summer food to nourish, refresh and hydrate at the same time. All this while helping you fit into that summer swimsuit, since one cup of diced watermelon has just 46 calories. Savor slices as a hydrating snack, cubed in a salad or as a refreshing dessert.
Mushrooms. Memorial day is the unofficial start to Grilling Season-and adding mushrooms to the mix can deliver major meat-lover appeal at a fraction of the calories and cost, while also slashing saturated fat and sodium. Mushrooms help you stretch your food dollar, since most mushroom varieties cost considerably less than meat per serving. Craving inspiration? Check out this ultra-tasty leaner greener burger (made by blending mushrooms and meat) the James Beard Foundation's new Better Burger Project is dishing up here. Or fire up this mouth-watering Grilled Mushroom Burger with White Bean Spread from Martha Stewart. And there are health benefits aplenty: whether viewed through a Western medicine, integrative medicine or functional medicine lens, mushrooms are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and are rich in a variety of nutrients, including B vitamins, the antioxidant selenium and Vitamin D.
When I was 22 I bought a one-way ticket to Italy. For one year, I worked in Florence as an assistant to the amazing Judy Witts at Divina Cucina. Not only was it the beginning of a long, deep, rich love affair with Italian ingredients and techniques in the kitchen, but it formed my touchstone for how I believe one should value food - in life and in the world. In the New Year, the new currency of food is about Values. Both consumers and some visionary companies are rewriting the values formula of our food system. The Italians, of course, have long held their food unapologetically to a higher standard than we have. There's no elitism or snobbery around it, rather a different vision - shared by seemingly everyone in that boot shaped paradise - all around what matters most. I distilled what I believe are the top four nutrition lessons from Italians - those that still drive my thinking and my messages today with MindBodyGreen.
And, I fished this photo out of a photo box (remember those?) from the very first day I spent in Florence over 20 years ago.
Read the full blog on MindBodyGreen, Nutrition Lessons We Can All Learn From The Italians!
No sooner had the last vestige of the Halloween candy left our house when my kids turned their sites on the holidays ahead. This weekend my daughter pulled out a calendar and wrung a firm commitment from me on exactly when we'd be baking Thanksgiving pies + Christmas cookie, as well as precisely what kinds of holiday goodness we’d be whipping up, baking and frosting. As a mom, I loved it-after all, I adore baking and I believe in using in real sugar when I do. Still, by the conversation’s end I could almost feel the surge of a sugar headache, and I think my pancreas went into a bit of a preemptive strike.
With that in mind, here are 3 topics I recently blogged about on the Dr. Oz Blog to provide you with healthy holiday baking tips: I’ve shared some straight talk on how to decipher the sticky business of “sugar free” labels (it’s not as easy as one would think), 4 incredibly delicious and healthy flours to add to your holiday pantry now, as well as the latest research around artificial sweeteners-which offers yet another reason why you shouldn’t reach for them in any form no matter what time of year it is.
On the Dr. Oz Blog: Healthy Holiday Baking Tips
What are your favorite holiday treats that are made from clean ingredients and minimally processed whole foods? I’d love to hear from you!
What types of grain products are you tossing in your shopping cart? For most of us, our carts are overly heavy with highly refined ready-to-eat cereals, crackers, breads, pasta, and maybe a cookie or two. The latest data tells us that vast majority of Americans fall well short of consuming enough whole grains for optimal health: while the USDA recommendation is to “make at least half your grains whole” (which for the Average American would mean about 3 whole grain servings a day), most of us get a scant <1 serving of whole grain daily. More rigorous plans, such as the Harvard School of Public Health's Healthy Eating Plate say the evidence is even stronger that we should choose “not just any grains”, but make whole grains an absolute eating must. I happen to agree.
The challenge is, the abundance of what I call “low quality” carbohydrates most of us are eating is proving to be one of the biggest drivers of chronic disease and sluggish energy: decades of research tells us that eating too many refined and highly processed grain products can spike blood glucose levels, promote inflammation, drive metabolic changes that lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and can cause wide swings in your hunger and energy levels, making it hard to lose weight. Making it more confusing for us all, many of these foods try to position themselves as healthy, proclaiming things like “Made with whole grain” or “good source of fiber” on the label. Unfortunately, this serves to confuse, rather than clarify, for the consumer.
But it can actually be made quite simple. To help you clean up your carbs and shift your metabolism in favor of lasting leanness and deep health, there’s a whole new crop of ancient grains that have gone mainstream, making it easier–and affordable–than ever to find them at your local grocery store. Boasting a superior nutrition package (read on to see how), I think they are a perfect fix for modern lives–and modern grocery carts.
I had a great time sharing some of my favorite “super whole grains” with Katie Couric on today’s show. Cultivated by humans for thousands of years, these 5 ancient grains provide some of the highest quality carbohydrates on the planet. They are cleaner and more sustainable to produce than all of those refined and ultra-processed grains that make up most of Americans carbohydrate consumption. And bite for bite they deliver more nutrients than conventional wheat – including more fiber, protein, B vitamins, minerals like iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, and antioxidants. In short – they provide the highest quality information that your cells need to thrive. And because they are intact whole grains, they have a lower glycemic load – meaning they don’t raise your blood sugar nearly as quickly as many of the refined grain products (even some that contain whole grain) you see in your grocery store.
Best of all? They couldn't be simpler to prepare. With summer here, I simply make 1 large batch, then draw from it to make sweet or savory dishes as I want for the next several days.
(Tip: by soaking them the night before, you can cut the cooking time in about half, and may find that they are easier to digest).
1. Bulgur Mentioned as a food staple in the Bible, bulgur is a quick cooking form of whole wheat well known throughout the Mediterranean. Because it has already been parboiled, all you need to do is simply soak for one hour (use 2 parts water for 1 part bulgur) – and it’s ready to go. Try in savory salads like tabouleh, or go with a sweet breakfast option with nuts and fried fruit. In addition to being low in calories and high in fiber (a 1/2 cup serving cooked has 75 calories and 4 grams of fiber), whole grains like bulgur are a rich source of prebiotics – the food the friendly bacteria in your gut needs to thrive. Try this summer tossed in a tabouleh salad – with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas and fresh mint.
2. Teff Look for this ultra-nutritious – and tiny – grain to hit Superfood lists in 2015. At about 1/150th the size of a kernel of wheat, this Ethiopian supergrain looks like poppy seeds – but don’t be fooled by their small size: they are a rich source of protein, fiber, zinc, iron, manganese, calcium and even vitamin C. And it’s sweet, molasses like color and flavor make it ideal for baking. Try it as a delicious swap for your regular hot breakfast cereal or polenta – you can also swap teff for some of the regular flour called for in ginger snaps – using teff can pump up the nutrition considerably.
3. Farro This chewy, nutty whole wheat grain is what fueled the Roman legions – and was even used as a form of currency in ancient Rome. With its low glycemic index, farro helps keep your blood sugar more stable, reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its high fiber-protein punch help you stay satisfied and energized long after you leave the table. Check out my Fall Farro Salad.
4. Kamut™ Sometimes called “King Tut’s Wheat”, many people think Kamut™ hails from Egypt, but in reality it is likely from the Fertile Crescent. Containing 20-40% more protein than regular modern wheat, Kamut™ is also rich in fiber, zinc and magnesium, a study last year in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found swapping Kamut™ products for traditional “modern wheat” varieties helped improve metabolic health and cardiovascular risk factors, and even increased serum potassium and magnesium. Try this delicious looking recipe just in time for 4th of July: Grilled Corn Slaw with Kamut™ Wheat Berries.
5. Freekeh Have you heard of Freekeh? In Arabic Freekeh literally means “to rub” –and refers to how it is made: it is young, green cracked wheat that adds a hearty, chewy flavor to salads, soups and side dishes. Here is perhaps the biggest reason you should add it to your shopping list: it is chock full of fiber. One of the secrets to having a healthy waist-to-hip ratio and slimming down while still feeling satisfied is to pack your meals and snacks with fiber: one serving of Freekeh has more than twice the fiber (and double the protein) of brown rice. You can find Freekeh at many mainstream grocery stores – simply follow the directions on the package and swap in any meals where you currently use couscous or rice.
Which ancient grains have you tried lately? And how are you using them for summer? I'd love to hear from you!
In 10-20 years?That’s the question I spent the last 3 days grappling with at the 2014 Menus of Change Summit, a ground-breaking conference that sought to tackle the most critical issues sitting at the intersection of human health and environmental sustainability (disclosure: I was given a free Media pass to attend).
A joint venture between the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, Menus of Change is trying to lay out a new vision for what two-time James Beard Foundation award winning chef Michel Nischan called “our brittle food system”. Seeking to de-silo the worlds nutrition, foodservice, culinary and tech, the ultimate goal is threefold: to forge a new dynamic, viable roadmap for serving food that’s utterly craveable and compelling to customers, in a way that is attractive to investors and business, but that’s also sustainable and driven by health and nutrition. In other words, to really plumb the often preached...but less often practiced triple bottom line of “People, Planet, Profits.” And to attach hard, measurable metrics rather than soft, feel good language.
It’s a tall order, to be sure. And it was apparent that some of the companies present were more tied to the teat of the current status quo than others (for example externalizing costs associated with cheap livestock production that enables a $1 burger or soda). But to have the honest conversations, even if tense at times, was refreshing.
5 Must Have Items On A Sustainable Menu
To usher in the New Face of Food, to truly drive meaningful change and not just tinker at the margins, the group sought to identify targets that are focused, clearly defined and transparent. In the ultra distill version, conference organizers challenged the audience to adopt the following 5 specific metrics in their Report:
- Add 10% more produce every year (year over year) for the next 5 years. This will not only increase customers’ access to vegetables and fruits, it will likely reduce sodium levels.
- Reduce meat portions in half of your menu items. Introduce recipes and concepts where meat plays a supporting role-leverage strategies from seasonal/local flavors to regional cuisines.
- Always offer a 50 to 100% whole grain option with rice, pasta, potato, side dish and bread choices.
- Tell your beverage suppliers that you want more innovative, natural, and less sweet beverage options-or better yet, craft them yourself.
- Raise your standards for protein sourcing, including supporting producers who don’t administer antibiotics to healthy animals and doubling the different kinds of fish and seafood you offer, sourced from sustainably managed fisheries.
A Taste of What’s to Come: Higher Quality Protein. More Produce + Whole Grains. Less Sugar.
You can read the CIA-Harvard 2014 Menus Of Change Report here . A blend of East Coast effeteness and West Coast innovation, it highlights the hot button issues at the crossroads of health, sustainability, and the business of food-including top nutrition concerns including sugars, whole grains, and the protein problem, which I've blogged about here. For a quick snapshot, check out the Principles Infographic here.
Memo from Millenials: “Share Not Just My Palate, But My Values” Millenial preferences are disrupting the landscape of corporate concepts and legacy brand. The quest for shared values is one of the top drivers of the mighty Millenials purchasing decisions (they will soon overtake Boomers in their buying power). And millenials have moved the consumer from being reactive to proactive: with today’s instantaneous access to information and social connection, brands need to be especially cautious-these values can’t be green washed and simply slapped on a label, they must be authentic, verifiable, and true to the brand’s core. Or Millenials will sniff them out, and fast.
To meet growing consumer expectations on cleaner, greener, leaner food-check out this a specific list of step by step principles developed by Menus of Change.
At the closing comments, Arlin Wasserman of Changing Tastes said simply: "Unlike many industries facing today's new world of resource constraints, climate uncertainty and economic risks, our solutions don't require massive investments in new capital or political legislation. We have only to change our menu."
You can check out all the conference discussion on Twitter at #CIAMOC.
Does your breakfast pass the protein test? Here’s why you should check: Researchers are increasingly zeroing in on protein’s ability to keep hunger at bay when compared to lower-protein breakfasts that have similar calories, fat and fiber. Read more...
What’s next in natural and organic foods for you and your family from Expo West?
What trends from Expo West did YOU love? I'd love to hear from you!
Protein is hot hot hot. Not only because growing evidence tells us it's linked to a slimmer waistline, greater satiety and better blood glucose control, but because globally speaking, protein production is one of the single biggest drivers of climate change-so getting it right is key. But not all protein is created equal-not only does the nutrition package differ among types of proteins, but the potential exposure to environmental toxins varies dramatically as well. Because I find myself prattling on about protein so often with clients and in the media, I decided to blog about it. Here are 12 of my favorite Ultra-Clean Proteins (meaning good for you, good for the planet) to eat now.
1. Super Seeds: Quinoa and Amaranth.
Even if you are a fan of the current anti-grain push on blogs and in the press, don't overlook quinoa and amaranth. These are two super seeds that pack an impressive wallop of protein, but can also do double duty of helping you get the benefits of whole grains in your diet (A recent study from Reuters Health confirmed that most US children and adults are not getting enough whole grains in their diets, which are linked with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and a smaller waist). One cup of cooked quinoa packs 8 grams of high quality protein ( meaning that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids), while a cup of cooked amaranth packs 9 grams, making these seeds ultra clean protein additions to your diet. Amaranth and quinoa are also rich in must-have minerals, such as calcium, iron, selenium and magnesium. Try adding amaranth to pancakes, as a swap for pasta, as a hot breakfast cereal, or even enjoy it popped as a fun alternative to traditional popcorn (I showed Dr. Oz how to do that once on a segment a few years ago). Quinoa makes a perfect substitute for rice, or is great in salads, soups and stews. Both can be whipped into delicious savory "patties" using an egg and a smidge of flour and herbs. Or my current fave-toast a few teaspoons of red or black quinoa in a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle on top of butternut squash or carrot soup-the perfect crunchy finish.
2. Protein Powders: Pea and Hemp.
Picking a protein powder can be overwhelming for many of us-some of them feel like they require a PhD in amino acid speak. And if you don't want to go with dairy or soy (wither because you have an allergy or an aversion), in the past you may have felt limited. Luckily, several companies have stepped up to the plate to deliver new lines of clean, vegetarian-friendly, soy-free proteins –and of the bunch, pea and hemp protein powders top my list. Nutty and sweet, hemp protein powders delivers high quality protein (they vary among brands, but many pack 10-11 grams of protein per 30 gram scoop), and boasts an impressive amount of the hard to get omega-3 fats. In fact, hemp's ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids helps decrease the risk of heart disease, depression and systemic inflammation. Pea protein is another of the next generation greener protein options, with highly digestible protein that comes in an almost "fluffy" texture. Like hemp, protein content will vary across brands, especially as different varietals of pea may be used, but plan on 24-25 grams of protein per 33 gram scoop. Some companies are even combining the two to create an ultra-clean protein powerhouse-check out Vega One , which makes a great blend of the two and comes in a variety of flavors.
3. Meet the Meatless: Seitan and Tempeh.
While it's well known that cutting back on meat can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint, for many of us, giving up our favorite meat-centric recipes and flavors can be hard. Really, really hard. Which is why I love today's impressive seitan and tempeh options. Whether you're embracing Meatless Mondays, eating like a vegan until 6, or simply following the lead of Jay-Z and Beyonce and living more "plant based", these meat like alternatives can help. Unlike some of the rubbery, bland versions of yore, many companies today are delivering incredible products that deliver delicious flavor and mouthfeel when you want to go meatless. With their firm texture and ability to easily absorb flavor, both are healthy, clean meat alternatives that can help you stay lean and green (as they deliver protein while cutting back on calories and saturated fat). A cousin of tofu, tempeh is made from whole soybeans and packs almost 20 grams of protein per 4 oz. serving. Seitan (often dubbed “wheat meat”) is made by rinsing away the starch in wheat to leave behind only the gluten: a mere 1/3 cup of seitan has in impressive 21 grams of protein. Enjoy in stir fries, try it seasoned and grilled on the barbe, or in to pump up the protein of soups, salads or chili.
4. Energizing Snacks: Chickpeas and Nuts.
When it comes to a clean, protein-rich snack, beans are one of the best options around. Period. Hummus still ranks as one one of my ultimate faves, with a whole new generations of options shaking up this category (such as wasabi edamame, white bean, lentil, and more). Made from blended chickpeas, not only is hummus rich in fiber and protein, is boasts folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. Crave crunch? Check out Saffron Road’s Bombay Spice Crunchy Chickpeas, or try roasting your own at home with this Spicy Spanish Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas recipe. One-half cup of chickpeas has 7 grams of protein, while 1/2 cup of hummus has 4 grams. Raw nuts, of course, are another easy, tasty, and quick win when it comes to ultra-clean plant-proteins. Roast them or eat them raw: their combo of protein, heart healthy fats and minerals make them the perfect, planet friendly on-the-go snack. One ounce of almonds, for instance, has 6 grams of protein.
5. From the Farm: Organic Poultry and Eggs.
Looking for the most eco-friendly animal proteins? Look no further than poultry and eggs: In addition to having dramatically smaller carbon and water footprints than pork, lamb, beef or dairy products, multiple lines of evidence tell us that poultry and eggs can be part of a diet for optimum health and healing. And eggs are one of the most economical proteins you can buy at the grocery store (1 large egg has 6 grams of protein). To really make these ultra clean, choosing organic -it minimizes your risk of exposure to things like antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, GMOs and more. Be sure to also look for the Certified Humane Raised & Handled seal - it ensures that animals are raised in a humane manner, without hormones or antibiotics (read more about this seal here).
6. By Sea: Anchovy, Cobia or Barramundi.
Looking to shake up your seafood? Anchovy, cobia, and barramundi are some of my top choices when it comes to sustainable seafood choices. And along with ultra-clean, lean protein, these fish are packed with an array of other benefits – from omega-3 fatty acids to selenium to vitamins D. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program praises U.S. farmed cobia and barramundi as “Best Choices,” due to their low environmental impact, and wild anchovies received the “Good Alternative” seal. Unfamiliar with these fish? Cobia is touted to have the familiar deliciousness of sea bass, while barramundi’s delicate texture has been likened to striped bass, red snapper, or other premium white fish. On average, a 3 oz. serving of fish has 15-20 grams of protein.
What are your favorite clean proteins of 2014? I'd love to hear from you!
What's Next in Nutrition for 2014?
What’s next up in 2014 for food? Here were four of the big trends that seemed to be everywhere at the most recent annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, that are poised to play out in the year ahead... Read More...
General Mills sent shocks through the food world earlier this month when it announced that its flagship Cheerios cereal will be made without GMOs. At first blush it sounds like a victory for activists and consumer groups, who have been turning up the heat on many food companies lately around “natural” claims for food products that contain GMOs (such as Chobani) and supporting state by state legislation for mandatory GMO labeling. But like anything, the devil is in the details. First, the Facts
What do you need to know? Here are the 5 facts that I believe are worth knowing:
- Only the original Cheerios will be made without GMOs . All other 11 versions of Cheerios will still contain GMOs.
- Rather than touting “the more common “GMO-free”, the labeling will state “Not made with Genetically Modified Ingredients”, because Cheerios are made in facilities that also manufacture GMO foods.
- The oats used in all of the Cheerios brands have never contained GMOs, but General Mills swapped 2 other ingredients to non-GMO sources: corn starch and cane sugar (instead of conventional beet sugar) to achieve the change.
- Cheerios - every single version - is already GMO-free in Europe.
- General Mills, the parent company, was a major contributor to defeating the high stakes GMO labeling legislation in Washington state.
Trying to Have it Both Ways?
So does this represent a major victory for the GMO movement, or an attempt to have it both ways that is only adding to consumer confusion and marketing clutter? Or perhaps something in the middle - say, a laudable first step for a cereal juggernaut to test consumer response, shore up new supply chains, and then move to more wholly to GMO-free products if the marketplace speaks loudly enough?
Personally, I am willing to wait and see on this one.
I have to question the intentions of a company that on one hand is touting their GMO-free brand while at the same time funding anti-GMO labeling legislation. I have read their reasoning here, but crave trust and transparency in my food. And a company that gushes about how great a non-GMO choice is for consumers while simultaneously promoting the safety and benefits of GMOs raises significant doubts for me about both trust and transparency. As Marion Nestle noted in a recent post on the topic:
“...by pouring money into fighting labeling, the biotech industry looks like it’s got plenty to hide.”
However, I know from my own work experience how incredibly difficult it can be for large companies - considering things like supply chain issues, labeling requirements, legal departments and manufacturing facilities - to pivot on a dime. While it’s incredibly easy in this age of social media saturation to quickly and ruthlessly point out what’s wrong with a particular company, if Cheerios’ move nudges other food makers to follow suit, it could truly change the food supply from the ground up - which is indeed good for us and good for the planet. Part of me wonders, does it matter if they phase it in in baby steps if we ultimately arrive at the same place? And I do have to give kudos to Cheerios for announcing this AFTER the changes have already been implemented. Far too often companies prefer to bask in the PR splash of a feel good announcement now, when a dig through the nitty gritty of specifics reveals said changes will actually be implemented further down the road (kind of like Congress).
So what do you think?
Will 2014 shape up to be the decisive year for GMO labeling? So far, so heated: earlier this week the FDA declined a request by the Grocery Manufacturers of America to adopt a definition of “natural” or to state whether ingredients derived from biotechnology - like GMOs - can be considered “natural”.
One thing is crystal clear: we vote with our wallets. And companies respond to consumer demand. Which means, that if you are really fired up about creating a more GMO-free supermarket, start by adding more organics (which are always GMO free) and certified GMO-free foods to your grocery cart.
Travel may have some great perks, but weight loss is seldom one of them. And it's pretty safe to say that during the holiday season when we're dashing from office parties to family celebrations, weight loss is definitely not a perk here either. So how do you keep up your energy while traveling and during the holidays?
Whether traveling for business or pleasure during this busiest month of the year, here are my 5 Top Travel Tips to keep you strong, slim and energized when you arrive at your destination.
1) Sip Smartly
Flying dramatically dehydrates us, so it's critical that you drink regularly in flight. In fact, a scant 1.5% dehydration (which can happen on even short flights) can zap our mood, energy level and focus. Drink plenty of water-still or sparkling- instead of sugar sweetened beverages or alcohol to stay hydrated without packing on the pounds (unless you feel like walking back and forth in flight for 30 minutes to burn off that soda you ordered?). Or bring along a green or herbal teabag or two and simply ask for a cup of hot water. Add a wedge of lemon or lime for extra vitamin C and flavor. I always carry a reusable BPA-free water bottle with me, so I don't have to wait for in flight service, or feel wasteful with all that plastic (check out my partner CamelBak's gorgeous options here). Many airports now have free filtered waters stations past TSA-so you can fill up before you fly.
2) Nosh on Nuts
While it’s tempting to reach for a gooey, sweet treat as a bright spot in a dull travel day, foods high in sugars, salt and fat can backfire, zapping your energy, intensifying your craving for more sweets and having you arrive at your destination ready to take a nap rather than hit the ground energized and with a fresh, clear mind. Not only are they free, and you don't have to prepack them, but nuts significantly more nutrient dense than pretzels. Need more convincing? Recent research our of Harvard University has shown that eating nuts may even help you live longer! The study showed that eating nuts may help reduce the risk of mortality, finding that those who ate nuts daily saw health benefits nearly double. Nuts' trifecta of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats also unlock sustained satiety and focus. Eating a 1-ounce package for every three hours in flight is a good rule of thumb. Don't like peanuts? Almonds and pistachios are delicious alternatives.
Stuck in the air for more than three hours? Make the most of your meal by sticking to this easy rule: You’ll likely be snoozing-or need to loosen a belt buckle if you eat a meal rich in low quality, highly refined carbohydrates (like a doughy sandwich). Think Protein + Produce as an energizing combo: in business class, choose that salad with chicken as your in-flight meal instead of the pasta. Pick up a hummus (Both Sabra and Hope Hummus make convenient portable humus packs), and bring along some whole grain crackers or snack-sized veggies from home. I also love Saffron Road's Crunchy Chickpeas, or my partner Kit's Organic Fruit and Nuts Bars. Or look for ready-made sushi in the airport. These are clean choices to stay energized to make the most of your flight time rather than snooze-and save your calories for better things, like your grandmother's cherished Chocolate Trifle with Rum.
4) Pack a Snack
It is essential that you have a backup plan in case you are stuck in your seat for longer than expected-which, of course, is something you can expect as throngs of Americans hit the skies in December. Try a mixture of dried fruits, nuts and seeds (I stash a mix of tart cherries, pumpkin seeds and almonds in my travel bag), a Greek-style yogurt or an organic string cheese, an apple or clementine with a PB&J pita, or dry roasted soybeans. In a rush to get to the airport? You can now find many of these items in the terminal before you board the plane.
5) Delayed? Do a Quick Walk
Virtually all of the clients I work with spend hours and hours each day sitting. Collectively, Americans are logging more hours sitting than ever before, and growing evidence suggests all this “sedentarism” may trigger negative changes in our muscle physiology and metabolism. As a general tip, walk by three gates for every minute a flight is delayed. This will energize you and help you from packing on the pounds, and have you landing at your destination refreshed and ready to go.
Want to know which organic foods provide the most organic bang for their buck? You’re not alone: in a time where every food dollar counts, many of us want to be sure we are investing wisely in foods that deliver a maximum benefit for the added cost that organic versions can sometimes have. So here are my Top 6 Organic Essentials - foods which science tells us deliver some of the most compelling, significant benefits for you, your family, and even our food system- when purchased organically. For my best tips on how to buy organics on a budget, check out my post here.
If you have ever stood in the sunshine nibbling warm, sweet snap peas directly from a farmer’s market box, if you have ever sampled a perfectly garnet strawberry and had a gush of fragrant berry juice trickle down your chin, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that one powerful food experience can shift your entire relationship to food.
“Of all the food systems innovation in the last 20 years”, says Richard McCarthy of Slow Food USA, "the resurgence of farmers markets may represent the best DIY expression of community involvement and reinvention.”
Farmers Markets offer us connections we crave, such as local food, sensuous eating pleasure and vibrant regional economies. And most importantly, they help us put a face to our food-something rather rare in today's global food economy.
- Visit your local farmers market. Summer is the most glorious time to eat produce at its peak ripeness, teeming with good-for-you nutrients in their fullest expression-nature’s whole package. The best part? When food is at it’s peak, very little needs to be done to it-Much of it can be eaten delicious RAW-fresh salads and fruit...saving you the time and energy of cooking.
- Host a GROW dinner. This new project from Oxfam is “the brand new way to feed your family in the 21st century”. It’s 5 Simple Steps offers a roadmap: cooking and buying food efficiently, reducing food waste, buying what’s in season and produced locally, reducing meat consumption (and adding more plants) and buying products that benefits small scale producers. With gorgeous seasonal recipes and easy videos to get you started.
- Get growing with your children. Check out my recent Earth’s Best article to discover the latest research on how to help your children cultivate a fresh, lasting connection to food by growing something themselves. And it’s based in something every child loves-dirt.
How often do you enjoy farmer's markets in the summer? I'd love to hear about your experiences...
See you at the market!
Wondering what to sip (or conversely, what NOT to sip) in 2013? Check out my latest post for The Oz Blog: 3 Surprising Truths About What to Drink in 2013. 3 Surprising Truths About What to Drink in 2013 For many of us, the New Year starts out with us telling ourselves all of the things we should start doing in 2013. But what about the things we’re already doing? What about the habits we have, the foods we are eating, or in this case, the things we are drinking? Start your 2013 with these three surprising truths... [Click Here to Read More]
1) Avocados need bees. Several beehives are located around the farm because bees play a key role in helping the trees pollinate and reproduce. Apparently, the local bears especially love this aspect of the farm, too. Hence the electric fencing.
2) Avocados have fewer pests than many other crops. This lets the farm use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that doesn’t rely as heavily on pesticides. Indeed, I love that avocados have one of the lowest pesticide residues of any produce, earning a coveted spot on the Environmental Working Group's Clean 15 . IPM also helps counteract superbugs and superweeds.
3) Avocados have a blissfully long growing season. Unlike crops like citrus or grapes, where fruit is harvested all at once when its ripe, avocado trees are harvested 3-4 times a year, with the largest fruits plucked each time (they are picked by hand, using special cutters to clip the stem). This (along with different growing regions) helps keep this healthy superfruit in the grocery store year round.
4) America’s biggest Avocado Eating Day of the Year is....This SUNDAY! That’s right- a whopping 79 million pounds of avocados are eaten on Superbowl Sunday, or about 5% of the total amount consumed annually. Just how much is that? Emiliano Escobido, executive director of the HASS avocado board, revealed that it's enough to fill a football field end zone to end zone a whopping 30 feet high.
If you set ONE goal for your family meals this month, please, please have it be this: turn off technology. That’s right, for 30 minutes, have everyone step away from the berries, pods, pads, games, gadgets, tv’s and tivos. This simple act will be far more powerful in creating better health than any “superfood” you might put on your (or your child’s) plate tonight.
- How (and when) will these kids learn to eat at the table, participate in conversation, have patience, and be social?