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As the seasons change it’s always a good time to hit the “reset button” on our diets.

Summer’s barbecues, picnics and county fairs (and the food choices they offer) give way to more hearty foods like apples, squashes, deep greens and sweet potatoes – all ripe and delicious just as autumn leaves begin to display their showy colors. 

Join me on September 24 and October 1 to prepare and carry out a 7-day detox to treat your body to an opportunity to release toxins and to ready itself for a new season!  Details and registration form follow. Please reserve your space before September 17!

INVITATION

 Register today for the 7-day detox: 

Once you fill in this form, I will be in touch with you regarding payment and how to prepare for our first meeting on Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 pm. 

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It’s always surprising to see the places my foods have been! If only plants could write their history…earth-437670_1280

 

This winter, when I shopped for some of my kitchen staples, I paid attention to how far food travels to get to my kitchen. The lemons, garlic, mushrooms, avocado, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, and assorted frozen berries now in my kitchen are renowned world travelers — visiting my home from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, oh and yes, unknown states in the USA.

While I do like to have many of these particular foods on hand for nutritional and gustatory reasons, there are many downsides to this long-distance relationship with the foods I love.

Photo by Lisa Missenda

Photo by Lisa Missenda

First, quality: To be packaged for shipping, many times these vegetables and fruits and picked before they are ripe. This is particularly true of tomatoes. At some point along the route to my table they might be sprayed with a little ethylene gas to make them appear riper. Truth is, in spite of shippers; best efforts, many fruits and vegetables do not continue to ripen once taken off the vine, out of the ground or once they stray too far away from the sun’s reach. So, when they get to my kitchen counter, they may look ripe, but they just don’t have the fresh taste of the ones I can get at the farmers’ market.

Second safety: The more food travels and the more hands it passes to get to my table – the more risk there is of food borne illness. Over the past 10 years the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has rejected numerous shipments of plant foods like green beans and mushrooms due to illegal pesticide violations, excessive filth and unsanitary conditions of the products. Luckily, the FDA is looking out for us.

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Strawberry Harvest Pixaby photo – Public Domain

Third – labor standards: I am never sure what the working conditions might be in the country of origin. Where children skipping out on an education to work in the fields and harvest my berries? Did a woman give birth in that same field because she was not allowed to take a day off? Where workers exposed to dangerous pesticides and fertilizers that we would not use in the USA?

While ultimately, I would love to be a locovore, eating only foods in my bioregion, I am happy these labels exist; they can be found at almost any grocery store. Consumers and non-profit groups like Food and Water Watch and National Family Farm Coalition fought hard to make the 2008 rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), for meat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and several kinds of nuts. While the law is not perfect, at least I do know more, and have a choice when I reach for lemon and start my day. Learn more about the foods you eat using Food and Water Watch’s interactive shopping cart.

We all have a right to food, and to know exactly what’s in our food, but sometimes polices, practices and perceptions get in our way of actually being able to put safe, nutritious and enough of it on our tables. LaDonna Redmond, long-time community activist and senior program associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Justice program lays out what these issues are in this TEDx talk….

Enjoy!

When you walk through the aisles of any supermarket you’ll see a lot of different packages carrying messages to tell you how wonderfully nutritious the food is inside of them. One of the most popular of these is the “sugar free” label. I am sure you’ve seen it on countless occasions – especially on foods you know are not all that great for you. So what do these labels actually mean?

First off – these kinds of labels are called nutrient content claims that either directly describe or imply how much nutrient content is in a food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates what these labels can or cannot say. And according to the rules there is a bit of wiggle room – so when something says it’s sugar free – what it actually means is that

It’s important to know that when something says “transfat free” it is not actually required to have 0 trans fats; rather, the amount of trans fats it contains is such a small percentage that the FDA deems it “free.” For the common adjectives that you will see on labels see how they are defined by the FDA below:

Free “Free” can also by indicated in other words such as: “Zero,”  “No,”/ “Without,” “Trivial,” “Source of,” “Negligible Source of,” “Dietarily Insignificant Source of.”Key to this labeling is that the food or meal does not have to be free of a substance (such as calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium) if it contains trivial amounts (usually .05 g per labeled serving). This may also come with a disclosure statement – required as part of the claim – with phrasing like: “See nutrition information for fat content” that exceed the prescribed levels). So:Calorie Free = Less than 5 calories labeled serving.

Fat free (total fat) = Less than 0.5 g per labeled serving.

Saturated fat-free = Less than 0.5g saturated fat/trans fatty acids per labeled serving.

Cholesterol free: = Less than 2 mg of cholesterol per labeled serving, and could include “trivial or no amount of Cholesterol.”

Sodium free: = Less than 5 mg of sodium per labeled serving – foods labeled “salt free” must meet criterion for “sodium free.”

Sugar free = Less than 0.5 g sugars per labeled serving.

Low Otherwise stated as “Low,” “Little,” “Few” (for Calories), “Contains a Small Amount of,” “Low Source of,” and refers to a meal or dish that contains varying amounts of calories or substances – see the definitions below:Low Calorie = meals that contain 120 calories or less per 100 g.Note: a “Light” or “Lite” meal or main meets definition for a “Low Calorie” or “Low Fat” meal – and the labeling will reflect which definition is met by the contents of the meal. And for dietary supplements, Calorie claims can only be made when the reference product is greater than 40 calories per serving.

Low Fat = Meals and main dishes that contain 3 g of fat or less per 100 g and not more than 30% of calories from fat.

Low Saturated Fat = Meals/main dishes should contain 1 g saturated fat or less per 100 g and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.

Low Cholesterol = Meals/main dishes should have 20 mg or less cholesterol per 100 g.

Low Sodium = Meals and main dishes that have 40 mg or less sodium per 100g; and “Very Low Sodium” should have 35 mg or less sodium per 100g

Low Sugar = Not Defined. May not be used.

Reduced/ Less “Reduced,” “Less,” “Lower,” “Fewer” (for Calories), and “Modified” may be used to indicate Low or reduced. Definitions for meals and main dishes are same as for individual foods on a per 100 g basis.Reduced Calories = At least 25% fewer calories per 100 g.  Reference food may not be “Low Calorie”Uses term “Fewer” rather than “Less”

Reduced Fat = At least 25% less fat per 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Fat”

Reduced Saturated Fat = At least 25% less saturated fat per 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Saturated Fat”

Reduced Cholesterol = At least 25% less cholesterol 100g; Reference food may not be “Low Cholesterol”

Reduced Sodium = At least 25% less sodium 100g. Reference food may not be “Low Sodium”

Reduced Sugar = At least 25% less sugars per 100g. May not use this claim on dietary supplements of vitamins and minerals

 

So, based on these above definitions some popular nutrient claims mean something slightly different than you might think… Informed choices are the best choices. Enjoy!

This summer at the DC Fringe Festival, a friend of mine, John Feffer performed a one man drama that he had written. This amazing piece of work looks at a man’s fascination with dining and his search for “the perfect meal.” More than that, John develops three very distinct characters who share their own passions for research and perfection. It is food that brings all three characters together and reveals the touching way in which John works out one of his own tragic life struggles.

If you are in the DC area you can still catch John’s show. Edible Rex will be performed 5 more times at The Warehouse (1019 7th St., NW — across form the Convention Center). Show times are 8 p.m. on September 24 and 25 and October 1 and 2. John will also do a matinee on October 3 at 3 p.m. So, if you missed the show during the Fringe Festival, I urge you to go by and see it at the same great price of $15. I laughed and cried and absolutely savored this performance. Click here for ticket information.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

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