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Tag: fruit

This is a guest post by Traver H. Boehm. Be Food Smart showcases voices from all fronts of the food movement. Know of a blogger, farmer or passionate food writer who may be interested? Contact us or provide details in your comment.

 

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on The Paleo Diet. Click here to read Part 1.

Day 1 of our 30-day Paleo challenge is about to begin…and we have no idea what we’re in store for. What did this mean though, what were we actually allowed to and not allowed to consume? Here’s what we could eat: lean meat, fish, chicken, nuts and seeds (except cashews), vegetables (except legumes), and fruit. We could season our food with spices and that was it.
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I keep seeing articles claiming that many organics are a waste of money. Even health guru Dr. Mercola (whom I tend to agree with on most issues) wrote an article on it. The advice is to buy conventional (non-organic) for the EWG’s Clean 15 list or for fruits & veggies with thick skins/those you peel to save money. What this advice says is that the rate of pesticides found on produce should be the ONLY determining factor when deciding between organic and non-organic. While pesticide levels are extremely important, it is concerning that people may automatically choose conventional for the “cleaner” foods. The writers, many of whom are nutritionists, are failing to point out the OTHER reasons why organic makes sense.

Contemplating between organic and conventional?  Here are 6 OTHER reasons why organics make sense:

ONE:  More Vitamins & Minerals – There is evidence suggesting that conventionally grown produce may be less healthy than it once was due to the “dilution effect.” Why? Produce is grown with fertilizer for desirable traits (firmness, color, increased size, etc.) instead of optimal vitamin & mineral content. Essentially, produce is larger with more “dry matter,” but doesn’t proportionately contain as many nutrients. You have to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients.
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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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The “Potato Chip Study,” published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, found interesting links between certain foods and weight gain. Researches from Harvard University looked at the long-term effects of diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes in a study that included over 120,000 men and women.

4-year weight change was most strongly associated with these foods (average weight gain/loss is shown in parentheses):
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This morning the USDA unveiled the new food guide for America titled MyPlate. This plate diagram replaces the old food pyramid that we’ve seen for years (see image below). If you visit choosemyplate.gov, in addition to this diagram, you will also see these dietary recommendations:

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

MyPlate is an obvious improvement on the Food Pyramid which can be downright confusing at times. I also really like the bright, eye-catching colors and simplistic design. Here is my take on the diagram and accompanying recommendations:
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Depending on what survey you look at, anywhere from 70-96% of Americans want labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. In the absence of such labeling, how do you know if something has GE ingredients? Chances are if it contains soy, canola oil, corn or sugar beets, it has an extremely high likelihood of being GE. What about fresh produce? The only way to know for sure is to buy certified organic produce.
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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)
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