Is The Food You Eat Good For You?
What Is Transparency?
What Does Organic Mean?
How About Non-GMO?
What’s Monsanto Up To?
Who knew food would become a “sexy” topic?
Today, there are a lot of stimulating and even political conversations about food. And we’re not talking about where to eat, the latest superfood, or how to sneak greens into the diet.
No. Just like good lingerie, we’re talking about transparency. Transparency has become a byword in all things, not just food.
Siri Says: Food Is News. Eat Healthy – Be Healthy! Look Inside…
Transparency Is Synonymous With Our Right To Know.
With “Food News #1”, we begin a new series. Our plan is to publish “Food News” several times each year. This is because people like you, dear reader, are more interested in food per se than ever before.
Driving that interest is a need to know. We want to know where our food is coming from and, if it’s already prepared, what’s in it? Most of all we want to know: Is it good for us?
Right now, transparency is of major interest to many Americans. We talk more about that in our feature article: “Getting Clear”.
In addition, more info is delivered in our newly created “departments”. These are recurring subtopics where we discuss news about organic, non-GMO, and GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods. In “Monsanto Watch”, we keep an eye on the latest doings in the world of corporate food production.
We look more closely at food trends, and we delve into the “Future Of Food”. In that future, we discuss an exciting study using individual genetics in diet and nutrition. We close by listing some topics you can anticipate both in upcoming issues of “Food News” and in our regular Nutrition News.
We’d like to know your thoughts on “Food News”. If you want to share, you can write us at
Yours in good health,
P.S. Speaking of food, I just received a review book, Mindful Eating, recently updated by Jan Chozen Bays, MD. Interestingly, Chozen Bays is both a physician and co-abbot at a Zen monastery.
Within the last decade a general concern has evolved about our food. Is it safe? Is it nutritious? Where was it grown/produced/caught?
This latter question may also be a concern with our carbon foot print. Maybe we don’t want to eat meat butchered in China or out of season fruit shipped from South America.
As a culture, we find ourselves increasingly disconnected from the food we eat. A recent movement toward food growing by elementary school children is a reflection of this. Many are the tales of baskets of common fruits and vegetables that school children are unable to identify.
This is not to mention the complete mystery surrounding the production of eggs and the slaughtering of animals to provide meat and fish.
Here are some ways toward food transparency. First, Farm to Fork is nutritious whole food sustainably grown by you or grown as close to home as possible.
Then, a farmer or gardner whose growing methods and location are known to you.
Finally certified organic and non-GMO verified are excellent sources.
Commercially, some meat and fish can actually be traced to the specific farm or catch.
Another aspect of transparency is The Clean Label Movement.
From its roots in reducing the number of ingredients and opting for more “natural” alternatives, clean label has evolved to include transparency at every level—from sourcing and production methods to packaging and claims.
Clean Label, like natural, has no overarching legal precedent or official definition from the FDA or FTC. Rather, it is transforming the health food industry based solely on perceived consumer preference.
At Nutrition News, we see this growing consciousness about food as a healthy and hopeful Back-To-The-Earth movement in its 21st century guise.
Organic, Non-GMO, & GMO Foods
Is it possible that this growing desire for transparency has its roots in the revelation that our government introduced untested GMO food stuff into the food stream without our knowledge?
We were and are being used as guinea pigs by the feds and by the hugely wealthy developers of GMO foods.
The only testing these so-called foods are undergoing is the one in which millions of Americans are the unwitting participants. Speaking of our right to know…. Don’t get me started.
For several years, I was active in Label GMOs Inland Empire, a movement for labeling foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).1
During that time, the non-GMO certification was created. Also, Certified Organic foods began their tremendous and continuing climb to popularity.
In our efforts to educate people, my group hosted many public presentations.
One question which was asked with great frequency was: “Are organic foods non-GMO?” Or sometimes: “Do organic foods contain GMOs?”
Although we talk more about organic certification under “Organic News”, one thing you can be sure of when you buy organic foods is that they DO NOT contain GMOs.
That is probably the biggest reason that buying organic has become so popular. With few exceptions, organic meat, eggs, and produce are the best you can buy in the USA.
The only exceptions I am aware of are backyard honey, eggs, and produce.
My personal experience is that grow-it-yourself beats even farmers markets for taste. Most homegrown produce has never been sprayed nor treated with non-organic fertilizers or soil amendments. Backyard farmers and gardeners want clean food.
When you grow it, you know it.
1 Now GMO Free USA headed up by Pamm Larry, the woman who initiated the movement for GMO labeling by law in California.
As mentioned, food labeling is another area of concern for food-conscious Americans.
Right now, the most meaningful label on our food, in terms of upholding specific government requirements, is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal.
For a product to be certified organic, it’s required to meet specific standards. The following specifics of Organic Certification come from Food & Water Watch, one of our most trusted resources.
Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge.
Organic crops cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
[For organic meats, dairy products, and eggs]
Animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.
Animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) must have access to pasture.
Animals cannot be cloned.
If you cannot afford to buy any other organic certified foods, BE SURE ANY ANIMAL PRODUCTS YOU EAT ARE CERTIFIED ORGANIC.2
In addition, here is a list of fruits and veggies that are so often grown with undesirable sprays and fertilizers that it makes sense to buy organic.
Here is a list of produce that is worry free.
In no particular order, these 15 foods are:
Avocados Onions Eggplant
Pineapples Cabbage Sweet Peas
Asparagus Mangoes Papaya
Kiwi Honeydew Grapefruit
Cantaloupe Cauliflower Popcorn
That’s right, popcorn.
Popcorn is the only breed of corn that has not been and cannot be contaminated by GMO corn types.
When it comes to sweet corn (white and yellow), blue corn, ground corn, and tortillas, our best bet is to “Go Organic”.
In order from strawberries to cucumbers, here are the “Dirty Dozen”:
Strawberries Celery Tomatoes
Apples Grapes Sweet Bell Peppers
Nectarines Cherries Cherry Tomatoes
Peaches Spinach Cucumbers
2 Honey is an exception. With honey, it is best to know the bee keeper. Otherwise, buy raw and as close to home as possible. See Nutrition News, “Bee Healthy“.
Ever more consumers are seeking non-GMO foods.3 A recent survey by Mintel Reports found that 34% of Baby Boomers and 29% of Millennials actively avoid GM foods, looking for the Non-GMO Project Verified logo.
Another survey, this one conducted by the industry-funded International Food Information Council, found that of those surveyed 73% believe non-GMO foods are healthier, safer, or better for the environment while 20% responded that they are unsure about GMO foods.
Meanwhile, the trend toward augmenting brands with Non-GMO Project Verification continues.
Now, Nabisco’s famous Triscuits has signed on. Triscuits cracker boxes bearing the Non-GMO Project Verification logo rolled out to retailers nationwide in July.
The Organic & Non-GMO Report announces that Triscuits adds to the growing list of major food brands producing non-GMO food options.
Triscuits joins Dannon, Del Monte, Breyer’s Ice Cream, General Mills’ Cheerios, Post Grape Nuts, Hellmann’s mayo, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and Smucker’s natural jams, among others.
And you thought your voice didn’t make a difference….
3 All info in this section is documented through The Organic & Non-GMO Report, September 2017.
Something’s fishy in the GMO News. What is it? Five tons of unlabeled GM salmon has hit Canadian markets! The salmon (which is raised in Panama) is genetically modified to grow larger faster than natural salmon. This Frankenfood has never been tested to prove its safety for consumption.
Let’s hope that what Canadians don’t know won’t hurt them since at the time of this writing over 10,000 pounds have already been purchased. Currently, sales in the US are being successfully held up by Red Tape.
As you may know, Round-up weed killer is being unmasked for killing more than weeds. It is already known that glyphosate, its main ingredient, is affecting not only bee die-off and the environment, but (logically) human health.
Recently, documents were found suggesting collusion between the EPA and Monsanto to suppress negative research on glyphosate.
According to Carey Gillam at Huffington Post, when the documents became public, they revealed deceit and improper corporate influence over regulatory agencies.
This has resulted in threats to public and environmental health. These findings are also impacting ongoing cancer lawsuits against Monsanto.
Attorney Brent Wisner commented,
“[The documents] show that Monsanto has deliberately been stopping studies that look bad for them…engaging in a whole host of corporate malfeasance.… They have been telling everybody that these products are safe…but it turns out that Monsanto has been in bed with US regulators while misleading European regulators.”
No surprise, Monsanto has sought to keep most of the documents sealed.
Future Of Food
Could Our Genes Direct Our Dinner?
A new EU (European Union) funded project is investigating the potential for creating a diet based on our physical and genetic make-up.
We are all different, and it is becoming ever more clear that blanket dietary advice is not an effective way to improve public health.
Witness 35 years of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are responsible at least in part for the obesity and diabetes epidemics that we are facing here.
During this 4-year project, dubbed Food4Me, a renowned group of experts will examine the application of nutrigenomics (the effect of food on gene expression) to personalized nutrition.
The study is being coordinated by Mike Gibney, PhD, of the Institute of Food and Health, University College Dublin.
Interestingly, the results will be used to develop a business model for marketing personalized foods.
Similarly, members of the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) are investigating the use of food preference genes to “revolutionize diets and improve health”.
Thus far, the researchers have learned that using taste perception and food preferences can lead not only to weight loss but to improved health.
Italian researchers found that participants eating a diet based on their genetic profiles experienced a weight loss 33% greater than that of the control group whose diet plan was not personalized.
The researchers are interested in “unraveling” the genetic basis for certain food preferences. Over 4000 people have participated in these investigations.
So far, researchers have uncovered 17 independent genes related to liking certain foods, including artichokes, bacon, coffee, chicory, dark chocolate, blue cheese, ice cream, liver, orange juice, plain yogurt, white wine, mushrooms, and oil or butter on bread.
Surprisingly, none of the identified genes belongs to the category of taste or smell!
Here are some topics for upcoming issues of “Food News”:
Busting The Food Pyramid;
Food Rx (Food As Medicine), and
Topics for the monthly Nutrition News include “Wiser Sweeteners”, “Ancient Grains”, and “Up Your Energy”.