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Archive for 'Fruits & Vegetables'

When I woke up yesterday and saw the headline, “Organic produce is no healthier or nutritious, finds study,” I was very curious. What exactly did this study look at and how did they come up with their conclusion? Turns out I wasn’t the only one who was interested. Our twitter page blew up with comments and articles on what the study missed. Mark Bittman showed a wee bit of frustration in his tweet:

Ridiculous Study Claims Organic Same as Conventional, irritates anyone capable of thought: http://buff.ly/NaNeKI

The Standford Study, as it is being referred, is a “meta-analysis” of a few hundred previously published research papers on the topic. The researchers reviewed the studies and and summarized the results in the journal, The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Purpose: To review evidence comparing the health effects of organic and conventional foods.

The Conclusion: The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

While this sounds compelling, there was a whole lot left out. For example, two glasses of milk might be identical when it comes to the amount of vitamin D or calcium, but vastly difference when you start comparing added hormone or antibiotic levels. Also, nutrition is not the only reason why people choose organic. In the last day, I’ve read numerous articles about the Standford Study. To further understand what the study actually did and did not include, I urge you to read these three compelling articles.

5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short
by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones

As an investigative journalist, Tom takes a deep dive on the study and points out the multitude of risks that pesticides both
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Want to learn about what’s wrong with the current Farm Bill in under 4 minutes? It’s a three-day weekend so sit back, relax and check out this creative cartoon from Food and Water Watch:

Learn more about the 2012 Farm Bill and how to get involved, visit Food and Water Watch

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a new infographic, Plant the Plate, this month. Their goal was to create a visual tool to help us understand what Americans are eating today and what we should be eating according to the USDA’s My Plate recommendations. Did you notice the very large section labeled, “Refined Grains?”

This is an interesting look at how much cropland is dedicated to fruits and veggies (which signify half of “My Plate”) and in contrast, how much money is spent on other crop subsidies. It’s a simple graphic that is easy to understand, yet begins to show the disparities of what is happening now and what needs to be done. Will anything change with the new 2012 Farm Bill? That is the question that we should all be pondering right now. Learn more about Farm Bill Basics in this paper by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:

We should eat more fruits and vegetables. Yet billions of taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize unhealthy, processed foods while fruit and vegetable farmers get little to no support. American farmers could grow the fruits and vegetables we need for a healthy diet but local food systems need increased public support to help make it happen. Our infographic, Plant the Plate, breaks it down.

Click on the image to see the full Infographic

On my last trip to Indonesia, I ate papaya every day for two weeks straight. This tropical fruit is typically served after dinner as it is not only sweet but also aids in digestion. The papaya is peeled and de-seeded, chopped into bite-sized chunks, and displayed with lime wedges and dainty forks. I can tell you that not once did I tire of this luscious and delectable treat.

Today, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sent out a press release announcing that the Government of Japan will now allow commercial import of genetically modified papaya to Japan. The approved variety is called Rainbow papaya and it is grown in the state of Hawaii. Below, the USDA explains how and why Rainbow papaya was created:
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Remember the new “My Plate” icon that the USDA put out a few months ago? Part of the new campaign is releasing specific marketing messages to the public. This is their first message:

Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables

This is borderline revolutionary. Can you imagine if every American filled HALF their plate with fresh fruits and veggies? And what if they did that at EVERY meal? I don’t care what’s on the other half of the plate – there is no doubt in my mind that we’d all be healthier (and likely less overweight). I applaud the government for such a straightforward and simple message. In my perfect world, the message would add the words “fresh” and “organic,” but hey, we have to start somewhere. Plus, if this motivates people to eat more produce, maybe they’ll start to experiment with new veggies and possibly even visit their local farmers market. Maybe they’ll start to understand how much better a tomato tastes in season. Maybe they’ll buy local and…I’m getting carried away. As you can see, I’m an optimist.

More of these USDA messages are coming soon. Here are a few you can look forward to:
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About 5 years ago, my hubby and I got serious about religiously shopping with our canvas bags. We’d get home, unpack the groceries and still be left with 5-7 plastic bags. Why you ask? Two words: fresh produce.

Virtually everywhere you can shop, be it the grocery store, mega-store, CSA, or farmer’s market, provides plastic produce bags or houses their fresh fare in plastic containers, plastic baskets, or plastic mesh. The plastic bags serve several purposes: (1) provides a vestibule for you to place your lettuce in (2) prevents oranges from rolling around your shopping cart or basket (3) allows the cashier to visually identify your apples and differentiate between the Pink Lady and the Gala (4) contains your peppers in a “weightless” material so they are easily and accurately weighed or counted.

A standard trip to our farmer’s market reveals an interesting irony. Almost everyone carries reusable shopping bags, handmade African baskets, or is pushing some sort of cart, but they all contain a mass of plastic bags with their individual purchases. That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
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Image: slave2thetea via Flickr

Remember the old Popeye cartoons? Popeye always ate his spinach when he needed super strength. The benefits of spinach are no cartoon story. This leafy star is often referred to as a “superfood” and has more demonstrated health benefits than almost any other food. It is amazingly high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making it a food you should be consuming regularly.

Spinach contains lutein, beta-carotene, glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, polyphenols, betaine, calcium and vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, & K to name a few.  Aside from all the individual nutrients, it is the combination and the way the nutrients work together that makes spinach so powerful. In studies, high spinach consumption has been shown to lower almost every type of cancer. Spinach is highly beneficial for eye health and prevention of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.  This heart-friendly vegetable is packed with carotenoids which help protect the artery walls.

Markets generally carry spinach year-round making it a perfect daily staple. There are three different varieties of spinach: Savoy (curly leaves), Semi-Savoy (slightly curly leaves), and Flat or Smooth Leaf (smooth leaves). One can purchase spinach fresh,
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