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Archive for April, 2011

Have you ever sat down and watched a half hour of children’s programming? How many ads do you see marketed specifically towards children? Between Ronald McDonald, the Keebler Elves, Captain Crunch and Tony the Tiger, there is no shortage of cartoon mascots tantalizing our children with visions of sugary and colorful delights.

According to a newly formed inter-agency Working Group (FTC, FDA, CDC, USDA), the food industry spends more than $1.6 BILLION each year to promote junk foods to our kids (foods high in calories, low in nutrition). They find every possible way to reach your kids using TV, the internet, video games, social media, movies, and even marketing in schools. Here is a shocking statistic:

Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

Since when are french fries and chips vegetables? It’s no wonder that one in three children will be overweight or obese putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases.

Yesterday, this Working Group released a set of proposed principles for the food industry to use when marketing food to children. The proposal is designed to “encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and contain limited amounts of nutrients that have a negative impact on health or weight…”

Overview of the Proposal:

The basic premise is our government is trying to get the food industry to market healthy foods to kids instead of junk food.

  • Applies to children ages 2-11 and adolescents 12-17
  • Defines what  “food marketing targeted to children” means
  • Sets separate guidelines for individual foods, main dishes and meals.
  • Gives the food industry 5 years to be in compliance with guidelines (by 2016)
    Continue reading…

Watch this well-spoken, charismatic 11-year-old kid take on the industrial food system in this TEDx video.  Birke Baehr is a homeschooler who began learning and taking notice of how food actually gets to the table. He wants all kids to know that food animals do not live on the picturesque farms he had always imagined and outlines his case for why we need to localize and clean up our food production. Pretty remarkable and inspiring message from someone who has only been on this planet for 11 years.

Birke Baehr: What’s wrong with our food system

At age 9, while traveling with his family and being “roadschooled,” Birke Baehr began studying sustainable and organic farming practices such as composting, vermiculture, canning and food preservation. Soon he discovered his other passion: educating others — especially his peers — about the destructiveness of the industrialized food system, and the alternatives. He spoke at TEDxNextGenerationAsheville in 2010. Birke Baehr wants us to know how our food is made, where it comes from, and what’s in it. At age 11, he’s planning a career as an organic farmer.

Source and image:

TED.com


Gerri French recently joined Be Food Smart as a Special Advisor. She comes to us with over 30 years of experience as Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (see Gerri’s full bio here). I sat down with Gerri last week to ask her a few questions. Here are some highlights from our chat.

Are there any popular/major diets that you like? For example, Paleo, South Beach, Zone, blood type, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, etc.  Are there any you would recommend?

No one diet works for everyone. As a dietitian I listen to my patients to learn their needs and concerns while assessing their lifestyle, laboratory data and medical history; a very personalized approach.  A general diet book does not take the individual person into consideration.  There are many healthy people out there eating a variety of diets. Mediterranean and Asian people who follow diets taught by their ancestors tend to be healthiest and the research supports it. I am happy to see people returning to enjoying earthy seasonal local foods, heirloom grains and beans and also fermented foods.
Continue reading…

We are excited to announce that Gerri French has joined Be Food Smart as a Special Advisor. In her new role, Gerri is helping Be Food Smart grow and expand. She is assisting with marketing, national outreach, and building high-quality informative content for the site. This amazing woman has been a fixture in the Santa Barbara, California community for years and we are thrilled to have her on our team.

Gerri French, M.S., R.D., CDE

Gerri has been a clinical nutritionist, educator and cooking instructor for the past 30 years. In addition to her new role with Be Food Smart, she currently serves as:

  • Nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Santa Barbara Sansum Clinic
  • Nutrition instructor for the Culinary Arts Program at Santa Barbara City College
  • Adult Education Instructor for Santa Barbara City College, Adult Education program.
  • Founder of Santa Barbara Food & Farm Adventures, a local group that meets at farms, markets, restaurants and wineries to learn more about local foods.

Gerri is the former Food & Nutrition Editor for Diabetes Health magazine and continues to work with diabetic patients as a Certified Diabetes Educator.  When she describes her specialty, she says, “I specialize in translating the latest scientific findings into practical information. I love helping people purchase and prepare local and organic foods, or as I call it, Earth Friendly Cuisine.” Gerri earned both her Masters of Science & Bachelor’s of Science at California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo.

Be Food Smart Co-Founder, Dina Clapinski, recently sat down with Gerri to learn a little more about her. Here are a few questions from the interview (remainder of interview will be posted on the blog tomorrow).
Continue reading…

On a recent trip, a friend brought out these individual servings of Mott’s Original Applesauce for all the kids. My daughter loves applesauce and eagerly waited for me to open it. We always purchase applesauce with no sugar added and I forgot that many brands contain added sweeteners. When I glanced at the label, I noticed that this particular brand had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) listed as the second ingredient. This is a perfect example of an unnecessary additive.

I don’t know about you, but I find apples plenty sweet on their own. Instead of enjoying the natural sweetness of nature’s bounty, kids get used to artificially sweetened food and start to “need” their food to be ultra-sweetened. Luckily, my friend had also purchased Mott’s Granny Smith Applesauce for the moms and, surprise, it contained NO added sugar or HFCS. There are many brands of applesauce that only contain apples and vitamin C (prevents the applesauce from browning). They taste great and kids will be spared the added sugars and empty calories. You can also make your own applesauce; check out these recipes from Devine Health and The Salad Girl.

Exercise:

Look in your fridge and pantry and start reading labels. Search for foods containing added sweeteners (especially HFCS and chemical sweeteners). Next time you go shopping, try switching out your normal brand with a version that does not contain added sweeteners. There are thousands of foods with added sweeteners, but here are some common ones to start with: applesauce, fruit juice, jam/jelly, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, yogurt, syrup (only buy real maple syrup), canned fruit, and pasta sauce. While you’re looking to make the switch, consider a certified organic variety too! You’ll get the added benefit of no pesticides or genetically modified ingredients.

Note: Beware of “sugar-free” products. This means that the product does not contain cane or beet sugar, but instead, likely contains a chemical sweetener such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or saccharin. Be Food Smart does NOT recommend consuming any of these artificial sweeteners.

A new research review shows that a diet of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans leads to organ problems in rats and mice. Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and his research team reviewed data from 19 different animal studies with results indicating liver and kidney organ disruption as “GMO diet effects.” The kidneys were more affected in males and the liver was more specifically disrupted in females. Here is the end of the published conclusion:

“We can conclude, from the regulatory tests performed today, that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species…”

Current industry trials limit studies to 90-days. This is shocking considering how long it may take the human body to show the effects of any diet.
Continue reading…

LEDs for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

I’ve become an early adopter of LED light bulbs and won’t buy another CFL for the rest of my life. Here’s why: One day my wife knocked over the table lamp in our bedroom and, unbeknownst to her, broke the bulb. Since she didn’t know, my wife simply picked the lamp back up. It wasn’t until two days later I tried to turn on the light and it was dead. Then I saw the broken bulb, which normally wouldn’t be much of a problem except with was a CFL which contain mercury, so now my wife and I were sleeping for two nights in a room with particles of mercury. Did we get sick? No, but just the feeling of mercury in the air never sat right with me. Thankfully LED bulbs have come to the rescue and offer so many benefits:

  • Efficiency – Far more efficient than CFLs
  • Insane Longevity – you get 25,000 – 50,000 hours from one bulb. That will last you over 10 years at 6 hours a day!
  • Durability – you can drop them onto a concrete floor and they won’t break since there’s no glass
  • Safety – there is no mercury in them

So, what’s the catch? Well, they are expensive but prices are dropping fast. I bought 2 last year at $37 a piece, and just today I found EarthLED has an Earth Day sale on their Zetalux 2 LED bulbs today only for $9.89 a piece. I bought 8 of them. Keep in mind they are 40 watt replacements so they won’t be quite as bright as a 60 watt bulb. As you replace your bulbs for your home and kitchen, consider using LEDs instead of CFLs as a more earth-friendly option.

Do you use LED bulbs? Tell us about your experience and where to get them in your comment.