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
My hubby used to joke that he looked forward to having a child so he could order food for himself off the kids menu. Why? They are loaded with junk at a reduced price.
Here is a typical kids menu:
Pasta with Butter or Marinara Sauce
Grilled Cheese & French Fries
Chicken Fingers & Fries
Macaroni & Cheese
Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.
Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
Growing up, I remember more than one occasion being told not to play with my food. Of course, I think I was moving things around my plate to avoid eating them and then squishing them to diddle away the time at the table. Now that I am a Mom of two young girls, things are different in my household. I am all for playing with our food, because the end result is, we all have a laugh and the food really does get eaten.
My kids are much more into veggies than I ever was. My youngest daughter, 9, makes some of the most creative and adorable little cucumber, carrot, spinach creatures and cars I have ever seen. And then she gobbles them up. Letting her play and get her creative juices flowing allows her some time to have some fun at the dinner table and then devour her creations afterwards. I am usually heard saying, “That car/wagon/cow or whatever that thing is looks delicious!”
While scrolling through my wall today, I stumbled upon this infographic from visualeconomics that Dr. La Puma posted on his Facebook page. I love checking out food related infographics and found this particular one interesting. Let’s see, we eat more fats & oils than chicken, more sugar & corn sweeteners than red meat, and crazy amounts of dairy (631 lbs per year if you combine cheese & dairy). The total amount of fruits and vegetables (688 lbs) looks decent, although I wish I could see a stat on what percentage of that number is fresh vs. heavily processed (aka. Campbell’s canned vegetable soup and the 29 lbs of potatoes in our french fries). I’m not entirely sure what “beverage milks” means. Does it include chocolate milk or is it just non-dairy “milks” such as almond, hemp, soy, etc., or all of the above?
What really caught by eye, though, was the section down below that shows the average American consumes 24 POUNDS of artificial sweeteners per year. 24 pounds? That’s about what my daughter weighed when she was 2 years old (and coincidentally, the size of the average giraffe heart…fun fact). If you think you’re not consuming artificial sweeteners, think again. They are hiding everywhere. It’s the saccharin in your iced tea, the aspartame in your diet soda, and the sucralose in that ice cream bar. Even your chewing gum has been infiltrated as it’s virtually impossible to walk into a grocery store and buy a pack without artificial sweeteners. These innocuous powders also lurk in diet foods, products marketed to diabetics, and all sorts of no-sugar treats. Even Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf uses artificial sweeteners in their “no sugar” beverages (I honestly thought that they were made without any sweetener until I actually asked). If you want to reduce your intake, start by reading labels. Once you spot these guys, make the commitment to try a new brand that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, make it yourself, or better yet, give it up altogether. Can’t quit yet? Yes, you over there drinking your Diet Coke. Start by reducing your intake until you can break the habit altogether.
Check out the infographic down below for details and tell us what you find significant.
Source: Visual Economics
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.
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.