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Archive for March, 2011

The FDA’s Food Advisory Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday (March 30-31, 2011) in Silver Spring, MD, to discuss whether there is a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse effects on behavior. This meeting is in part a response to a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on June 3, 2008.

The CSPI petitioned the FDA to:

  • Ban the use of Yellow 5 and other food dyes.
  • In the interim, require a warning on foods containing these dyes
  • Correct the information the FDA gives consumers on their website and other publications on the impact of these dyes on behavior of some children
  • Require neurotoxicity testing of new food additives and food colors

For years, the Feingold Association, CSPI, consumer groups, activists, and parents have been trying to prove the link between artificial food colorings and wide array of adverse effects including hyperactivity, ADHD, skin rashes, sleep disorders and exacerbated asthma. In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children.  In response to the study, the European Union now requires warning labels on foods containing specific dyes. To avoid the dreaded label, many European manufactures reformulated products with natural food colorings or removed dyes all together. In the US, artificial food dyes are found in hundreds and thousands of processed foods and it is extremely difficult for people to avoid. It will be very interesting to see what the Food Advisory Committee’s conclusion is and whether they will make any revised statements on food dyes or new requirements of food manufactures.

Sources:
FDA
CSPI
Lancet
Image: Jonas Dalidd

A link between food colorings and hyperactivity highlights the importance of educational website, Be Food Smart.

Easter is the second top-selling candy holiday and according to the National Confectioners Association, almost 90% of parents will create Easter baskets for their children. Filling those baskets will be Marshmallow Peeps, Cadbury Crème Eggs, jelly beans, and M&M’s, all of which contain artificial food colorings. So what’s the concern with artificial colorings? In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children. The European Union took action and now requires warning labels on foods containing specific dyes. To avoid the dreaded label, many European manufactures reformulated products with natural food colorings or removed dyes all together.
Continue reading…

This is Part 3 of a three-part series on raw milk.

Renata Osińska

Last week I attended a meeting given by the Santa Barbara chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) on raw milk. The guest speaker was Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures. If you are following this series on raw milk, you’ve already learned a bit about the differences between factory farmed milk and raw milk (click here for Part 1) and how raw milk relates to the all the good bacteria in your body (click here for Part 2).  This is Part 3 of the series.

Pasteurization Kills

In standard dairy pasteurization, raw milk is heated to 161 degrees F and kept there for 15 seconds. This process will generally kill harmful bacteria in the milk. However, like antibiotics, the pasteurization process does not discriminate and also kills the good bacteria too. Mark is not a fan of pasteurization and continued his session with a whole bunch of reasons why. As you read this list, some make obvious sense and others require a bit more explanation (I’ll do my best to relay Mark’s enthusiasm on the subject). In my opinion, some of these reasons are not directly a result of pasteurization, but more of an after-effect of the new dairy production world, post-pasteurization.

15 Things That Pasteurization Kills (click here for Mark’s slides):

Pasteurization was revolutionary because it allowed for a completely different way of raising cows. No longer did the dairy cows need to remain disease free or kept in clean and sanitary quarters because pasteurization would kill all the harmful bacteria.
Continue reading…

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on raw milk.

Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures CEO

Last week I attended a meeting given by the Santa Barbara chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) on raw milk. The guest speaker was Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures. If you are following this series on raw milk, you’ve already learned a bit about the differences between factory farmed milk and raw milk produced for direct consumption (click here for Part 1). This is Part 2 of the series.

Bacteriosapiens

We we are all bacteriosapiens. 80% of the human immune system is made from protective gut bacteria colonies. Once you discover what you are microbiologically, killing bacteria become “suicidal.”

- text from one of Mark McAfee’s slides

When Mark wanted his audience to understand the importance of good bacteria in the body, did he just tell us? No, instead he gave us the gift of fecal transplants. Curious? Ya, I was too. Mark used a story from the New York Times about a woman who suffered from a vicious gut infection, Clostridium difficile. Doctors tried an assortment of antibiotics, but nothing worked. She lost 60 pounds, wore diapers for her constant diarrhea, was wheelchair bound, and on her way to certain death. Dr. Alexander Khoruts tested the bacteria in her intestines and found that there was no healthy bacteria present. He decided to do something drastic and performed a little-known procedure called fecal transplantation. Yes, it’s what you think. He took the poop from her husband, mixed it with some saline, and put it in her colon. Within hours, her husband’s bacteria began doing its magic and her diarrhea vanished. Within 2 weeks it cured her disease! I find this article utterly fascinating as it so interestingly highlights the incredible importance of healthy intestinal flora. Touche Mark. Touche.
Continue reading…

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on raw milk.

Eric Brody, WAPF Chapter Leader

When the local chapter of The Weston A. Foundation (WAPF) announced their March topic, All About Raw Milk…Samples Will be Provided, I have to admit that I got a wee bit squeamish. I’m not really sure why since I like almost everything else raw. Maybe it stems from the fact that drinking a tall glass of milk with dinner was never part of my childhood. Mom breastfed all her kids until we self-weaned and did not “graduate” us to cow’s milk like most American parents. We consumed cow’s milk with cold cereal and in cooking (my mom makes a mean cream of cauliflower soup), but never to drink. I suppose it could have something to do with childhood, or maybe it’s all the fear surrounding raw milk. I receive virtually all food-related updates from the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) and “the dangers of raw milk” seems to be a very frequent topic. If you believe the hype, people must be sick and dying all the time because of this dangerous stuff. I pushed aside my squeamishness and I vowed to attend the meeting anyway (I figured I’d skip the plastic sample cup of raw milk and just go for the presentation).

I arrived at the Goleta Library a few minutes late and pasted my name tag onto my cardigan. The meeting room was packed with about 50 local people and I was directed to sit in the front row (don’t you love showing up late?). After a brief introduction to the WAPF by chapter leaders, Eric Brody and Katie Falbo, the CEO of Organic Pastures approached the podium. Mark McAfee is a big guy, both in stature and personality. The minute he started talking, I knew I wouldn’t be bored. The passion Mark has for raw milk seeps from his every pore.

Mark’s presentation was filled with powerfully memorable slides and you know he’s spoken these words a hundred times over.  There were three main intertwined themes:

(1) the differences between the two raw milks in America

(2) the ever-important bacteria in the human body

(3) the negative sides of dairy pasteurization.

Two Raw Milks

We started with the two raw milks; what do they have in common and what are the differences?
Continue reading…

Stonyfield has taken a page out of the Yeo Valley Organic playbook and created their own rap video. The song features Stonyfield CEO, Gary Hirshberg, and “The Stonyfield Moms.” While not quite as posh and polished, I must say it is a pretty catch tune. Even my 3-year old was walking around singing Eat Organic! this morning. If you visit JustEatOrganic.com, you can upload your own “Just Eat Organic” shout out video. I’m all in favor of creative and silly ways to get information out to consumers. I’m off to film my own shout out!

CHORUS: So if you love your body, love your children and you love your planet. There is hope for the future. So there’s no need to panic. The solution is a simple one, it’s easy to understand it. To protect your family, body, and earth. Just eat organic!


Many of our readers have been asking what brand of organic dairy they should be buying. In 2006, the Cornucopia Institute put out a Dairy Scorecard report on US dairy producers. While some things may be a bit different now since it’s a few years old, the report is still a great reference for consumers looking for a more objective and well-rounded look at organic dairy.

The report looks at a wide variety of factors including antibiotic use, hormone use, organic certification process, and acreage of pasture available. Dairy products covered: fluid milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, kefir, cheese, milk-based infant formula, and cream.

To see the scorecard, click here: Cornucopia Institute Dairy Scorecard

To read the full PDF report which includes interesting background information, history of the organic dairy, and a segment on the largest organic dairy producer, Horizon, click here: Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk, Showcasing Ethical Family Farm Producers, Exposing the Corporate Takeover – Factory Farm Production

Note that virtually all private label store brands in the report, receive a 1 or 0 (least desirable) rating since they refused to participate in the survey. This includes: Trader Joes, Costco Kirkland, and Safeway “O” brands.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that dairy from these brands are at the bottom of the pack, but since no information was provided to the Cornucopia Institute, there are no objective measures to compare. I’m a firm believer that if you have nothing to hide and are proud of your farm and business practices, you’d be a bit more happy to share.

Sources:
Cornucopia Institute
Image: Caroline Henri | Dreamstime.com