Category Archives: dairy


Who Put Beer In My Ice Cream?

Screenshot 2015-10-25 13.34.59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben & Jerry’s is concerned about climate change.  So they’ve created a new flavor in partnership with New Belgium Brewing.   Ice cream and beer.  They’re both called Salted Caramel Brown-ie (Brownie) Ale.  Profits from the sales of these products will go to Protect Our Winters, a climate advocacy group in support of winter sports.

While I certainly support the idea of supporting efforts to educate people about climate change and to create positive ways to reverse it I’m not sure what beer and ice cream have to do with it.  Just being honest on that point right up front.

Because these are a products with a social message I imagine they’ll sell pretty well.  Truthfully it sounds like an interesting flavor and Ben & Jerry’s is known for good ice cream.  I don’t drink beer so I can’t speak about the ale.  Ben & Jerry’s has a great mission statement that supports GMO labeling, they do not use rBGH in their dairy products, and they are proponents of Fair Trade ingredients.  New Belgium Brewing also believes in non-GMO sourcing for their products.   All good things.

The Ingredients

So what’s the one major thing that will keep me from eating this ice cream? *  Carrageenan.  This red seaweed has been linked with gastrointestinal inflammation, colon cancer, and it is very damaging to those with gastrointestinal disorders.  There is also a study, partially funded by the American Diabetes Association, looking at the relationship between consuming carrageenan and it’s impact on diabetes.  Because carrageenan appears in so many products (primarily dairy, alternative dairy, and frozen confections) the amount of exposure can be significant.  Eating organic foods is no escape as carrageenan is approved for use in those foods as well.  Which serves as an important reminder that just because something is organic doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Many people who have bloating and digestive issues often find their symptoms significantly diminished or removed when they stop eating this ingredient.  While low level inflammation and gastrointestinal distress are not always significant enough to be noticed (as opposed to conditions such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, or crohn’s), when removing this ingredient from their diet for a period of time many people notice a difference.  The science behind the negative impact of carrageenan is increasing.  The Cornucopia Institute has petitioned the FDA to remove carrageenan from the approved list (and is seeking input from consumers who have noticed changes to their health after eliminating carrageenan from their diet).  The response of the FDA’s Select Committee On GRAS Substances (SCOGS) from February of 2015 concludes, “uncertainties exist requiring that additional studies should be conducted.”

There’s also the matter of the “natural flavors.”  We don’t really know what they are and there are a lot of things that can fall under that “natural” label that are less than desirable.

Surprisingly there is lactase in the ice cream.  Not a negative, just interesting.  This is the digestive enzyme that specifically helps to break down milk sugar.  I haven’t bought ice cream in a while so I haven’t been looking at the label.  This is something that could be a good idea to help digest the dairy products.   However please note that for those who are lactose intolerant this enzyme addition is not sufficient for them to be able to consume the ice cream without also taking some additional enzyme support.  It will be fascinating to start reading ice cream labels and seeing if other manufacturers are following suit.

Screenshot 2015-10-25 13.35.06 Screenshot 2015-10-25 13.35.15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s important to remember that no matter how good the social mission, no matter how well sourced some of the ingredients are, if there’s something in a food that you can’t eat, you simply shouldn’t eat it.  Remember to always read the label and eat well to be well.

*We’re leaving out the fact that this does contain gluten (beer/malted barley, wheat flour, and malted barley flour)

Food Storage Tips

There’s nothing worse than having to throw out food because it’s gone fuzzy or mushy. It’s even worse when it’s something that you purchased organic because that means you paid an even higher price for it.  With proper food storage habits you can make sure that your food lasts as long as possible.

It’s easy to wind up with an abundance of fresh produce for a number of reasons:

  • it was on sale
  • you’ve just visited the farmer’s market and it looked inviting
  • you have a CSA share and have limited control over how many tomatoes they give you (when tomatoes are in season of course)
  • you have a home garden and discovered the awesome power of a single zucchini seed.  

Whatever the reason for having a bountiful supply of fresh food (or even dairy, eggs, and foods of that nature which can also spoil), it’s important to know how long it can be stored for.  It’s also a great idea to understand proper food storage.   After all, knowing which things go in the refrigerator, what has to be wrapped, and the best way to wrap it, can be the difference between eating what you paid for or creating expensive compost.

Buying organic

As you go through this infographic below keep in mind that there are a significant number of items which need to be purchased organically.

  • The Dirty Dozen:those 12 fruits and vegetables which need to be purchased organically in order to avoid pesticide residues) – This list changes annually, be sure to revisit it every year  
  • Dairy products: All dairy should be organic in order to avoid the artificial hormones (rBGH), antibiotics, and pesticide and GMO-laden feed that is part of conventional dairy  
  • Eggs:  Whenever possible eggs should be sourced from someone who has free range or pastured hens, in order to produce the healthiest egg.  Farmer’s markets can be a great source for this, or ask around.  Many more people are beginning to raise chickens at home for the eggs.  When it’s prime season, at one egg per chicken per day, they may have extras to sell

Storage

One final note, I really don’t like to wrap food in plastic.  Plastics, containers and wraps, are comprised of chemical compounds that are hormone disrupting.  For more information about why plastic, and especially BPA, are harmful for you watch my interview with Lara Adler.  For storage if you must wrap use plastic, place wax paper over the food first and then wrap over that.  If at all possible try using glass or steel containers. 


Source: Fix.com

Coconut Milk — Not As Healthy As You’d Think

Screenshot 2015-02-05 22.48.50

Big news!  Yesterday, Wednesday, February 4 2015, Starbucks announced that they would start offering coconut milk as a non-dairy option. It’s scheduled to appear at a Starbucks near you beginning on February 17, 2105. Normally that would be a great option, especially for someone like me who is currently dealing with food sensitivities and needs to avoid dairy.  It’s also potentially better than their current non-dairy option, soymilk, which is quite possibly genetically modified.

While I don’t drink coffee I do like an occasional green tea latte.  However, on closer inspection it turns out this isn’t going to be an option for me either.  The ingredients panel shows several items that I can’t consume and a couple more that I choose not to.

Let’s start with carrageenan.  It’s a red seaweed which has been shown to be problematic for those with digestive issues.   Not just those who have serious bowel health issues such as crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, carrageenan can also affect those who struggle with bloating or gas issue.  Many of them find that they do much better when they avoid carrageenan.  For more information check out this report by the Cornucopia Institute.  In fact many people who struggle with carrageenan also have issues with excessive amounts of gums in food products.  This coconut milk also contains gellan gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum.

For ingredients I choose not to consume, and which I advocate others avoid as well, we see “natural” flavors [quotes are mine] which could mean anything and sometimes is a code for monosodium glutamate.  There’s also corn dextrin which, because it doesn’t specifically say organic, could be genetically modified.  While coconut milk itself isn’t genetically modified, corn is one of the most highly GMO crops we have and conventional corn products should be avoided as much as possible.   The vitamin A palmitate is most likely a synthetic form of palmitic acid; it’s used to fortify dairy products.

There are coconut milks that do not contain these products however some of them contain a gum, usually guar gum, to help with thickening the coconut milk.  Be sure to read the label to avoid ingredients you don’t want to eat.

———-

Update:  A reader wrote in and told me that Starbucks was aligned with Monsanto and supported opposition to GMO labeling.  Research shows that Starbucks is not directly affiliated with Monsanto other than that they both belong to the Grocery Manufacturers Association which is vigorously opposed to GMO labeling.   Starbucks claims to be an “affiliate” member and in a direct quote from Starbuck’s website:

Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign. And Starbucks is not aligned with Monsanto to stop food labeling or block Vermont State law.

The petition claiming that Starbucks is part of this litigation is completely false and we have asked the petitioners to correct their description of our position. 

Starbucks has not taken a position on the issue of GMO labeling. As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution.

 

Nordic Diet

There’s a new diet trend that appears set to take the world by storm, the Nordic Diet. It appears to be a Scandinavian take on the concepts of the Mediterranean Diet. According to a study published in The Journal of Internal Medicine it lowered cholesterol and inflammation among study participants who followed the plan for 18 weeks.  Without a doubt there will shortly be a book, a cookbook, several websites with recipes, and a new crowd of enthusiasts.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it may not be the right thing for everyone.

The diet does allow for whole grains, primarily rye, barley, and oats, as well as low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, game meats (like moose), fruits, berries, vegetables, and canola oil. While new diet plans always garner a lot of excitement it’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all diet. We are bio-individual creatures and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. If someone is gluten intolerant they need to avoid the rye and barley (and source gluten free oats) allowed in this nutritional plan. Just because it’s part of the diet doesn’t mean it’s the right choice if your body can’t handle it.

I do have a couple of thoughts about this diet and about food trends in general:

  • The Nordic Diet calls for canola oil. In the United States this is not a good choice as the vast majority of it is contaminated by GMO. Some estimates of contamination and cross-contamination are so high that there are those who believe there is no unmodified canola to be found in the U.S.
  • The diet calls for low-fat dairy. This is not a healthy option. Starting with the fact that dairy is one of our few food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (meaning it needs to be consumed with fat in order for the body to properly utilize it). Vitamin D is also important to help the body properly make use of calcium. When it comes to the old notion that high fat diets cause obesity, recent studies have shown that the opposite is true. In measured studies, those who consumed whole-milk dairy products had reduced risk for obesity.
  • The diet does not, as far as I’ve been able to find, specifically talk about sourcing of food.  While game meat is unlikely to be adulterated with added hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, poultry and fish need to be sustainably sourced.   It’s interesting to note that game meat in general may be gaining some prominence as people seek to avoid meat from animals raised in confined operations.
  • Vegetables and fruits still need to be sourced without pesticide residue and GMO contamination.
  • I imagine that there will be more of a call for root vegetables.  This is a good thing as root vegetables are high vitamins, beta-carotene, and fiber.  [side thought: I’m always surprised when I buy parsnips at the grocery store and the checkout clerk wants to know  what the “white carrots” are.]

With food trends in general I expect we’ll face a year ahead with more, New, BETTER (read tongue in cheek) superfoods that convey all sorts of health benefits.  I’m not a huge fan of seeking those out and quite frankly we have superfoods that are local and easily accessible, there’s no need to keep chasing the latest super ones.

I imagine there will still be some sort of push to get bugs onto the menu and into the grocery stores.  They’re cheap and easy to raise, a quick, convenient source of protein.  I’m not a fan but that’s a personal preference.  I also don’t eat things like squid or eels that doesn’t mean I think they’re dangerous or bad for you.  With anything that we eat we have to look at how it’s raised.  Remember, you are what you eat includes whatever the animal you’re eating ate.

I still believe there’s not enough focus on fermented foods.  These are in a category referred to as functional foods, they have a specific health benefit.  In the case of fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented vegetables they add beneficial probiotics to our intestinal tract, helping us to break down our food, boost our immune system and stay healthy.  While I see more and more evidence of some fermented foods I believe we would all benefit from eating more of them.  Ideally we’d learn how to make them at home.

I’d like to believe we’ll continue to see a growing influence of tip-to-tail consumption that will encourage us to eat more fully from the whole animal.  Learning to eat organ meats again, consuming more bone broths, getting away from the white-meat-only-chicken-breast diet that so many of us have become accustomed to.

Whatever nutrition plan lies ahead let’s remember that we need to eat according to the needs of our bio-individual bodies.  Our dietary needs change over time.  We don’t eat the same in our 40’s as we did when we were a toddler or an adolescent.  But however we choose to eat, whatever we’re eating, let’s focus on clean, healthy, sustainably sourced foods rather than jumping from one popular diet plan to another.

photo: PL Przemek

Cheese Or Not Cheese?

RTL Cheese2

Reading the label often starts with the front of the package. In the case of this product it allows you to skip the need to read the label altogether.  As the graphic indicates, it’s a cheese “product”, not really cheese.  Sometimes you will see “cheese food” on the package.  What’s the difference?  It turns out that to be declared a cheese food a product must be at least 51% cheese.  If it is less than 51% cheese then it is classified as a cheese product.  In both cases, cheese food and cheese product do not, in my book. qualify as cheese.

An important note, when purchasing cheese, or any other dairy product, you also want to avoid added hormones.  This can be done by purchasing either organic dairy (the organic label does not allow for the use of artificial hormones in dairy production) or dairy products which are at least rBGH or rBST free.  You can look it up or you can look on the label.  Sometimes you will see the following statement on a dairy product

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology there are a number of companies that have pledged not to use this artificial hormone in their dairy products.

This is a positive step forward.  As more consumers purchase milk that is free of added hormones, the more food producers and retailers will reject the use of this harmful additive.   The hope is that eventually the United States will join  countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Argentina, and all of the countries in the European Union.

So read the front of the label, if it’s not real cheese don’t buy it.  It if appears to be cheese, look at the rest of the label and make sure there are no added hormones.

milk - food allergies

Got Milked?

The Got Milk Campaign

Developed for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993, Got Milk? was a campaign to help sell more milk.  It was apparently successful in California but not so much in the rest of the country.  It was a cute campaign with a lot of celebrities painted in milk mustaches among other visuals. It appeared both as magazine ads and television commercials.

Allergic to dairy?

The concept of “got milk?” takes on a different connotation when you can’t have milk or dairy products.  Similar to those who can’t have gluten and have significant health problems when they get “glutened,” for those who are sensitive to dairy or any of its parts consumption can be very dangerous. 

Lactose intolerance

There are different issues related to consuming dairy products. One is Lactose intolerance. This is where the body does not produce enough of a particular digestive enzyme, lactase, to break down the lactose (milk sugar). Most people lose their ability to produce lactose in early childhood. That leaves a lot of people who struggle with the symptoms of lactose intolerance when they eat yogurt, milk, cheese, ice cream, or any other dairy product. Symptoms can include

  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • farting
  • gas
  • stomach cramping or upset

Milk protein allergy

Another issue with dairy consumption is the protein in the milk. There are two different types of protein, whey and casein.  Whey is made by removing the milk protein solids. It’s often found in protein beverages or athletic recovery formulas and may be listed as either whey protein, whey protein concentrate, or whey protein isolate. Whey is rapidly absorbed into the system. Depending on how lactose intolerant you are, when consuming whey you may also have lactose intolerance issues going on as there is a small amount of lactose in whey.

The other protein, casein, is also sometimes found in protein beverages. The body responds more slowly to casein and because of this slower breakdown tends to promote fullness longer. Some people are allergic to either casein or whey, some people are allergic to both.   

Some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy are the same. However, over time the milk protein allergy can worsen. For those who are allergic to whey or casein, it can even be fatal.  Because these allergies can pose significant health problems it is important to work with an allergist for testing and support if you suspect there is a problem. Allergy symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Behavioral health changes
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hives or rash
  • Joint Pain
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

Know your dairy ingredients

It’s important to note that just because a product is labeled lactose free that does not mean that it is dairy-free.  When there’s an allergy it is a matter of concern about whether or not there is dairy in what you are eating.  On packaged food labels there are a lot of ingredients to watch out for that are derived from milk. If there is a lactose intolerance or a milk protein allergy, these need to be avoided:

  • milk
  • butter
  • casein
  • casinate
  • cheese
  • cream
  • curds
  • whey
  • lactalbumin
  • lactoferrin
  • lactose
  • lactulose
  • yogurt

Surprising places for dairy

In addition to these ingredients, there are a number of surprising items that are derived from dairy or that may contain dairy.  It’s not always clear and you may not be aware of what to watch out for:

  • artificial sweeteners
  • baked goods (many of these are unlabeled)
  • bath products
  • breath mints
  • candy
  • canned tuna fish (may contain hydrolyzed caseinate)
  • caramel
  • chewing gum (may contain milk protein)
  • medications (if this is a concern talk with your pharmacist)
  • hot dogs
  • lunch meat (cross-contamination may also be an issue)
  • margarine (while these are not butter, they may not be dairy-free)
  • potato chips
  • soy cheese (some of them still include dairy)
  • spice mixes (may contain whey powder)
  • whipped topping (these are marketed as “non-dairy” but often contain casein)

Food allergy labeling

While that’s a lot to keep track of, for those who have a significant, life-threatening allergy to dairy it is critical that they are aware of what’s in what they are eating.  Because dairy is one of the seven top allergens in this country it does need to appear on the label as an allergy statement like the example below where the allergens are listed in bold

Food allergy label

 

 

 

 

 

Another labeling example is when foods do not necessarily have dairy (or other top food allergen) products in them but are made in a facility that also processes a food allergen such as the example below. This statement is also in bold type.

Food label allergen

 

 

 

 

Eating away from home

While labeling might show if there’s dairy in packaged foods, this all goes out the window when eating out at a restaurant or at someone else’s home.  

It is possible to ask if there’s dairy in a product and be told no but to discover that it’s finished with butter. Or to have someone not be aware of what’s in a dish.

Even for those who are not allergic but have a food intolerance or delayed hypersensitivity, accidental exposure may cause a heightened reaction as the body reacts more strongly to the substance it’s trying to clear.

For those with life-threatening allergies to dairy any exposure poses a dangerous situation.  Be aware of your setting and the possibility of exposure.  It’s important to ask if your food allergen is in the meal that you are being served.  It can also be helpful to use a Food Allergy Buddy Card (available for free download).

What’s Really In Your Food

As you know I spend a lot of time at the grocery store and in people’s pantries looking at labels.  The other day I was at a grocery store for a book signing.  I was there for two days.  While I obviously couldn’t see every person in the grocery store I was sitting in an area where I had a pretty good field of vision for quite a few aisles.  It took until halfway through the second day before I saw someone actually look at a label.  I was so excited that this woman actually read the label that I ran over and told her so.  Most people either simply selected their favorites or only looked at the front of the package to compare products.

Unfortunately when we shop on autopilot we don’t realize what’s in our food.  Reading the label is the only way to know what you’re really eating.

Below is a list of ingredients that belongs to a very common item found in many homes.  It’s also especially popular with children so they consume quite a bit of it:

 Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors (Soy), Spices. Less than 1% of Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate.

So what is it?

Ranch dressing.  Specifically Hidden Valley Ranch.  I’m not focusing on them, I simply had to pick a bottle and a label.

So let’s break this label down and understand what we’re looking at:

Genetically modified – the soybean oil and quite possibly the modified food starch which often comes from corn.

Sugar – added sugars in the diet increase inflammation, lower the immune system response, and, in things like dressing, are, in my opinion, not necessary.

rBGH – the buttermilk almost certainly contains this hormone which was given to the cows to make them produce more milk.  Linked to an increase in IGF-1 which is linked to diabetes it’s not something you want in your food.

MSG – flat out, right on the label.  This ingredient may make things taste better but it can cause a wide range of symptoms from headaches, rashes, and flushing to muscle weakness and fatigue.

Artificial flavors – why would you want to eat anything fake?

Unknown ingredients – do you really know what Phosphoric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate are?  If you don’t know what it is you shouldn’t eat it.  Just as a brief example of some of the health risks, phosphoric acid may be linked to lowered bone density, and calcium disodium EDTA is a preservative which has the potential to cause kidney damage.

I cannot recommend strongly enough how important it is to know what’s in your food and to read the label.

Looking for an alternative to packaged ranch dressing?  Try making your own, simple to make, fresh tasting, tangy and the flavors can be modified to be exactly to your personal preference.

homemade ranch dressing

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup organic whole milk*
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons organic sour cream
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Pour apple cider vinegar into milk and let sit
In a separate, wide mouth bowl place garlic and salt
Mash together with a fork until garlic turns into a paste
Add chopped herbs, mayonnaise, sour cream, and black pepper
Blend this mixture with milk, combine well
Best served immediately, however leftovers store well in the fridge for up to a week

This is delicious not only on vegetables but as an addition to mashed potatoes, as a dressing for pasta salads, and is the perfect dipping sauce for homemade wings.

*Note:  there was a typo in the original which called for 1 cup of milk.  That will make a very thin ranch dressing.  I prefer mine a little creamier and so have amended it to reflect my initial recipe.

photo: Diádoco

On My Mind Monday 03.11.13

on my mind -- what's in the news
It’s never the same two weeks in a row. A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Aspartame in Milk – Those of you who follow along on my Facebook page have already heard about this issues and how upset I am. Bad enough that they want to use aspartame in milk. The horror of this newest petition to the FDA is that the organizations involved want the FDA to remove the requirement to label the presence of aspartame in the dairy products. It does currently appear in a number of dairy items but it’s presence must be disclosed. If the request is successful it potentially could mean that you might be consuming dairy with this health-harming product in it. Not a good thing. If you’re as upset as I am, the FDA is seeking public comment and you can tell them how you feel.

Did Your Grandmother’s Smoking Habit Give You Asthma? – This is epigenetics at work. Genetic switches turned on and off by exposures. Although far from definitive it appears that there is a strong possibility that a grandmother who smoked cigarettes can have a genetic impact on her grandchildren even if her own children did not smoke. Hopefully this news will help more people decide to quit smoking.

Pink Slime Mfr Seeking $1.2 BILLION – Apparently if consumers find out what’s really in their food and decide not to eat it rather than accepting that the new paradigm is for the manufacturers to sue those who reported on the issue. Not the person or organization who came up with the term “pink slime” (that would be a scientist at the USDA btw) but the news media because they have deeper pockets. How about instead of trying to feed people food that was made from left-over bits and ammonia they just used real food? Hmmmm…now there’s a thought for you.

What’s Mira reading: I just finished the final revisions on The Pantry Principle and am eagerly awaiting the print proof copy. I think I’ll take a break from reading for a week or so as I’ve read/proofed/edited my own book to the exclusion of almost anything else for weeks.

Video of the Week: Not sure what to think about this, apparently a new(ish) food fraud scandal in China is selling concrete filled walnut shells. The story was originally reported a year ago but has just now surfaced in food news.

photo: Alvimann

On My Mind Monday 11.5.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Jump rope for health – With the colder weather coming it may not be as comfortable to exercise outdoors.  If you’ve got a good clear space in your home consider trying jumping rope.  I’m impressed by how much exercise you get in just a short period of time (believe me, it’s a workout).  This video showed me a couple of new steps which was pretty cool.

Cows making human milk – this is one of the most disturbing GMO developments I think I’ve seen yet.  Cows that have been genetically engineered to produce human milk.  If you can’t drink cow’s milk, don’t drink it.  Let’s not try to cash in on the dairy industry by making cows give human milk.  One of the disturbing things is that the baby cow who has been created from this experiment has no tail.  Scientists are claiming that this is unrelated to their genetic manipulation but I’m not convinced.  I fervently hope that this experiment is shut down.

New Season’s CEO leaving to create a chain of healthy convenience stores – this is an idea that has been needed for a long time.  Huge numbers of people are looking for this sort of option, especially when they are on the go with errands or if they are traveling.  The biggest issue, as I see it, will be getting all those people who say they want this to actually utilize it once it happens.  I’m excited about this idea and hope it grows.

Chipotle signs fair food agreement – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the environmentally-friendly-chemically-clean-non-gmo-organic food issues that we forget to think about the human cost, the ethical side of food.  Some of this was highlighted in the book Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook, but mostly, as consumers, we never see this side of our food.  This agreement is only a small part of what is needed, but it is a step in the right direction.

Unreal Candy – I’m not a big candy person, although I admit to liking some as a treat now and then.  Most candy is loaded with garbage (artificial colors, preservatives, GMOs, etc) which goes a long way toward keeping me away from it.  Now it appears there’s a company that’s created a candy bar which is a little bit better for you in that it has no garbage ingredients.  They do use agave nectar which, admittedly, I’m not a fan of, but overall their ingredient list is pretty amazing.  If you plan to try it keep in mind it’s still sugar and still something that needs to be a treat, eaten in moderation.

As long-time readers know, I am a huge proponent of finding ways to cut down on food waste.  This video is a reminder about just how much we throw out in this country with a lot of thoughtful commentary on how we can reduce our food waste.

But I Need Milk For Calcium, Don’t I?

I have some clients who need to avoid dairy products.  Invariably when they find this out their first question is “Don’t I have to drink milk to get calcium?” or “But how will I get my calcium?”

Calcium is important in the diet, not only for healthy bones and teeth, but also to support nerve and muscle health as well as for blood clotting.  However it doesn’t just come from cows (or goats or sheep or camels or any other milk giving mammal).

Most people think calcium is synonymous with milk.  They’ve been so sold by the Milk Producers Federation that they feel they’ve gotta “get milk.”  However, milk, and other dairy products, are not the only way to add calcium to the diet.

For those who can’t drink milk there are alternatives such as almond, soy, oat, hemp, and rice.  And while the calcium and protein content of alternative milks vary (and is mostly added) it’s important to remember that there are ways to get calcium without drinking milk, eating other dairy products, or drinking alternative milks.

As a means of comparison, whole milk provides 110 mg of calcium per 100 gram serving.

Other sources of calcium include:

sesame seeds – 989 mg per 100 g
sardines – 382 mg per 100 g
almonds – 266 mg per 100 g
flax seeds – 255 mg per 100 g
turnip greens – 190 mg per 100 g
brazil nuts – 160 mg per 100 g
collard greens – 140 mg per 100 g
spinach – 99 mg per 100 g

photo: Stefan Kühn