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Tag: eggs

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…

I was always more of a ketchup gal when it came the condiment of choice. I don’t think I ever had ranch dressing until middle school when one of my friends insisted I dip my In N’ Out fries in the white goop. For some reason, it was the thing to do amongst my friends and this trend kept up through high school. Green onion and cheddar potato skins, cream-cheese filled jalapeno poppers, piles of crispy Walla Walla onion rings, crusty mushroom and black olive pizza; they just kind of call out for this creamy concoction, don’t they? I had my suspicions, but after visiting numerous websites, I’ve confirmed that ranch dressing is now and has been the most popular salad dressing in the United States for almost 20 years.

When you think of ranch dressing, what it the first picture that comes to mind? For many it is probably this extremely popular bottle pictured left: Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing.  According to the Hidden Valley website, here is how they describe their premier product:

Our Original Ranch® recipes are made with wholesome ingredients and the perfect blend of herbs and spices. Enjoy the farm fresh taste of Hidden Valley® in our ranch dressing mixes, dips and salad toppings.

Okay, now, let’s compare that lovely description with the actual ingredient list:
Continue reading…

This video takes a look at the ORGANIC egg industry. Terms like cage free and free range become meaningless when you see how most chickens in industrial farms are raised. The video shows thousands of birds in a huge warehouses and their “outdoor access” is one tiny hole in the wall. 99% of the chicken’s wouldn’t even know the hole existed. So what is an organic egg? The USDA states that organic eggs must be fed with organic feed and use no antibiotics (contrary to popular belief, the USDA does not permit the use of hormones in poultry production. Terms like “hormone-free” are meaningless since no egg producing chickens are given hormones).

After seeing this interesting exposé from the Cornucopia Institute on the organic egg industry, I decided to take a look at their Organic Egg Scorecard where they rate egg producers across the US.  The scorecard rates egg farms based on a 22 different factors including, how much actual outdoor space the chickens have, what their indoor space is like, if they have natural light, chicken’s lifespan, and which agency certifies the farm organic. The farms with the highest scores received 5 eggs and the the lowest, 1 egg.

As many of you know, my family does much of our shopping at Trader Joe’s. Sometimes we buy eggs from farmer’s market, sometimes from Trader Joe’s (TJ’s brand Organic, Free Range Large Eggs). As I scanned the report for my eggs, I was shocked to see that they only received a 1 out of 5-egg score. The main reason for this? An unwillingness to share any information as to which farms the eggs come from and how the hens are raised. I understand that Trader Joe’s has an interest in keeping it’s private label brands private, but this is disheartening. I decided to make my concerns known and sent the following message to Trader Joe’s last week:

“We purchase TJ’s brand organic, free range eggs. I recently read the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Egg Scorecard and was surprised to see that TJ’s eggs received an extremely low score. I understand that it is difficult to disclose information when you have private label products, but it makes me wonder how “organic” the eggs really are. I would appreciate some sort of response to reassure me that your eggs are produced in the most ethical and best standards. Also, I would like information as to if the eggs are purchased from small farm cooperatives or industrial farms and what sort of access they have to the outdoors. If you are not able to provide any information to counteract the report I read, I will have to assume it is accurate. My family does 95% of our shopping at Trader Joe’s and absolutely love your stores. Thank you in advance. I look forward to your reply.”

message sent to Trader Joe’s via their website “Contact Us” form

I haven’t heard back yet, but I will let you all know what I find out. The moral of this story is to try to buy eggs from farms who are open and happy to discuss their farming practices. This may include getting eggs from a co-op, farmer’s market, or a local family who raises chickens. Another option is to raise chickens yourself. Someday I hope to be able to have fresh eggs from my very own backyard.

For a look at the full report from the Cornucopia Institute, click here: Scrambled Eggs – Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture

Sources:

Cornucopia Institute

USDA

Do you have an emergency dinner, something you prepare when you don’t have any other good ideas (cereal doesn’t count!)? Here is mine. We tend to have all these ingredients in the house, even when it gets close to shopping day. This meal is very popular with adults and kids. It has lots of protein and vegetables and is pretty quick to prepare. You can vary the recipe depending on what you have in the fridge (leftovers such as extra chicken or steak, steamed veggies, rice, etc.). It can be served anytime of day!

Dina’s Emergency Dinner

Egg, Bell Pepper & Black Bean Wraps

1-2 Tortillas per person (you can use either flour or corn)
1 can of Beans (black, kidney, pinto, or whatever you like)
1-2 Bell Peppers sliced into strips (red, yellow, or orange are sweetest)
1/2 or full medium-sized Onion cut into slices lengthwise (sweet onion if you have it)
1 Shallot cut into thin slices (optional)
Grated Cheese (any cheese will work, but I like medium cheddar)
1 Egg per person
Oil and/or Butter
Salt and Pepper
Optional toppings – sliced avocado or guacamole, diced tomato, leftover rice, sliced green onions, sweet corn, breakfast potatoes, cilantro
Condiments – salsa, ketchup, hot sauce, chili peppers, sour cream

Instructions:

Grate cheese and set aside. Prepare any of the toppings you are going to use and set aside. Crack eggs in a bowl, add salt and cracked pepper, whisk with fork, and set aside. Place beans in a small sauce pan and turn to lowest heat setting to simmer. If you have a toaster oven, turn on (bake setting/300/medium).  Heat oil in skillet and saute bell peppers over medium-high heat, tossing regularly to avoid browning. Once they begin to soften, add onions and continue to stir regularly. When the onions soften, add shallots.  Cook for a few more minutes until all veggies are tender, but still firm, and place into a bowl (cover with dish towel to keep warm). Add butter or more oil to the hot skillet and scramble the eggs. While eggs are cooking, place tortillas into toaster oven to warm (see below if you do not have a toaster oven). When eggs are done, place into a bowl. If you do not have a toaster oven but have a gas stove, place the tortillas over low flame to heat and soften. If you have neither, use the hot skillet to heat the tortillas individually.

Assembling the wraps:

Put plates on the counter and have all your ingredients ready. Place warmed tortilla on plate and fill with cheese, egg, bell pepper mixture and any toppings you are using. Serve immediately with an assortment of condiments on the table so people can top the wraps themselves. If you are feeling particularly tired, you can also put everything on the table and go at it taco style!

11 Random Egg Facts

1. Eggs last 4-5 weeks from the packing date (typically about 3 weeks after you buy them).

2. A large egg contains 70 calories.

3. The average chicken lays 250-300 eggs per year!

4. Contrary to the grassy picture on many cartons, “Cage-Free” does not mean that hens are kept outside. Cage-Free hens may roam in a building or room (located within a barn or poultry house) and have unlimited access to food and water.

5. There are 3 grades of eggs: AA, A and B. Grades are given based on external and internal quality including: shell texture, egg shape, albumen thickness, and the size of the air cell.

6. To be considered “organic,” hens are fed chicken feed without conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers. Organic designation does not mean the hens are cage free.

7. Both the upper and lower beaks of commercial hens are trimmed by a cauterizing machine to prevent them from pecking one another.

8. Hens which eat only vegetable foods and vegetarian feed are designated “vegetarian eggs.”

9. As a hen get older, her egg size increases.

10. Fresh eggs which are hard-boiled, are more difficult to peel

11. Since 1997, egg consumption is on the rise. In 2007, the average American consumes 259 eggs per year.

 

US Egg Consumption

Sources:
  1. Incredible Edible Egg
  2. Farm Animal Statistics: Dairy and Egg Consumption | The Humane Society of the United States
  3. American Egg Board