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Archive for December, 2011

Top Articles of 2011

by kennymatic via Flickr

15 months ago we launched the Be Food Smart website. Our goal was to become the trusted source for ingredient information and your partner in making smarter food choices. Our website has grown tremendously and we are thankful for each and every one of you who visit our site, follow us on Twitter, and Like Us on Facebook. Keep the clicks, comments, and shares coming!

2011 was a busy year for food. It brought us Schweddy Balls ice cream, SkinnyGirl drama, Lunchables unwrapped and a food additive made from beaver anal glands. Below are the top articles, videos, and infographics from 2011. We wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season.
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Here are a few recent headlines that caught my eye:

‘Organic Water’ is a Thing Now

In rather comical news, a German bottled water company, BioKristall, has gotten the official approval to market itself as organic water. Yes, you read that correctly, organic water. Read Grist’s comical take on this news.

Twinkies for Breakfast? Kids’ Cereals Fail Industry’s own Lame Nutrition Guidelines

The Environmental Working Group, most known for their sunscreen reports and the Dirty Dozen list, just put out a report on the amount of sugar in many popular breakfast cereals. In this blog post, Michele Simon writes, “Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, won the top prize,  packing more sugar (20 grams per cup) than a Hostess Twinkie.” Is it really any wonder our kids have a weight problem? Parents, please read this article and realize that MOST breakfast cereals should be treated like dessert. Read the full story on Appetite for Profit.

The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide

There has been a bit of a brouhaha over olive oil as of late. Put this one down on the if it is good for me, food producers will come in and create a crappy version of it to make more money and confuse consumers page. Olive oil has consistently been touted as the ultimate healthy oil and the demand for the oil has created a slew of sub-par products. Governments in the US and Europe are trying to create/reform olive oil standards, but with mixed success. Nutritionist and food activist, Andy Bellatti, tries to set the record straight and educates consumers so we can all shop EVOO smart. Read the full story on Small Bites. 

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Freshly strained Greek-style yogurt

You’ve probably been hearing about Greek yogurt. Maybe you’ve tried it. Perhaps you are addicted to it like I am. Save money and make your own Greek-style yogurt at home.

You can use any plain yogurt, but I prefer a whole-milk (full-fat) version. Buy a large container of it. To make Greek-style yogurt, you just need to strain the yogurt through some sort of material. I used 2 paper coffee filters since I had some buried in a drawer, but you can also use cheesecloth which is more traditional. Another benefit of cheesecloth is it is easy to find in most grocery stores and can be reused over and over (do not put in the washing machine, hand wash with a little dish soap and air dry). I created a little straining system using things I already had in my kitchen. Here is what you’ll need:
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If you follow this blog, you may have noticed a slight obsession with Greek yogurt lately. Well, the obsession has not subsided; in fact, I’m now straining my own yogurt. It was one cold evening (okay, it was about 50 degrees, don’t shoot me) and I was seriously craving dessert. I knew there was nothing in the kitchen and the idea of leaving my Snuggie for the store was inconceivable. At some point I remembered I had a little Fage in the fridge and was determined to find a way to dress it up. With a bag of frozen raspberries, I created one very simple, but divine snack that I now enjoy on a regular basis. Before you dismiss it as another tried and true yogurt combo, trust me that it’s the heat that turns this into an absolutely lip-smacking treat.  Another bonus? It only has 3 ingredients, tons of protein, and takes only 5 minutes to make.
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I’m guessing you know that Americans consume a ton of a calories. You may also have heard that we spend less of our income on food than other countries. But to actually see on a world map how we compare, yields a quite shocking realization of how wide the disparity is.

A visualization of the 20 highest and lowest calorie consuming countries compared with those same countries’ percent of income spent on food. Built by Food Service Warehouse.

Source: Food Service Warehouse

Visualizing the World’s Food Consumption takes 40 countries and compares two important data points: daily calories consumed and percent of income spent on food (average per person). The findings are striking. The countries at the low-end of calorie consumption spend almost half their income on food, whereas the high calorie countries generally spend less than 25%. That’s all fine and dandy until you see that Americans consume an average of 3,770 calories per day but spend only 6.9% of our income on food. No, that’s not a typo: 50% vs. 6.9%. Angolans? They are eating only 1,950 calories per day but spend a whopping 80% on food.

A few other highlights noted in the study:

  • 14 of the 20 lowest-consumption countries are located in Africa
  • Romania is a big outlier for the high-consumption countries, spending almost 35% on food
  • Not one of the lowest-consumption countries is located in Europe

The fact that Americans are consuming an average of 3,770 calories a day is just crazy. I know we have a weight problem, but seeing the issue outlined in one simple stat really brings it home.

There are numerous reasons for the differences between food consumption and food spending, and the deeper you dig, the more complicated the issue becomes. But know this: The next time you find yourself complaining that the price of cheese has risen dramatically, count your blessings because it could be way worse. Click on the image above to launch the interactive infographic (hover over the numbers to see the stats).


Note: I was confused as to why some continents were so poorly represented (Asia anyone?) in the infographic. After checking out the accompanying info, the source notes that they wanted to “…create an interactive display of daily calorie consumption for the extreme 20 countries in the world…” Apparently, India, Brazil, or China for that matter, didn’t factor on the ‘extreme’ meter.