Archive for the 'Food Safety' Category

Coffee Whiteners

When I ask patients what they put in their coffee, they almost always say “cream.”  So I say, “Like from a cow?”  And they usually say no.

What do they mean by “cream” then?  They mean coffee whiteners.   “Cremora Rich ‘n Creamy!”, “Coffee-mate Lite The  Original,” “International Delights Coffee House Interpretations Vanilla Latte,” “Spoon ‘N’ Stir Non-Dairy Creamer,” and so on.  They mean corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Translation?  Sugar and trans fat.  Some of my patients even have a favorite flavor, now that the folks who make and market coffee whiteners have identified and exploited the consumer’s insatiable desire for variety.

Coffee whiteners are everywhere.  They’re at the office, at meetings, at the workshop I attended last week, and at parties given by folks otherwise committed to fresh food, backyard gardens, and the like.  Like some kind of stealth bomber, they slip in under everybody’s radar.  Coffee whiteners are Trojan horses filled with diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, and strokes.

Raw Milk-Why Mess With Udder Perfection?

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Milk may be the single most historically important food to human health. Not just any milk, mind you, but raw milk from healthy, free-to-roam, grass-fed cows. The difference between the milk you buy in the store, and the milk your great-great grandparents enjoyed is, unfortunately, enormous. If we lived in a country where raw milk from healthy, pastured cows were still a legal product and available as readily as, say, soda or a handgun, we’d all be taller and healthier, and I’d see fewer elderly patients with hunched backs and broken hips. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state where raw milk is available in stores and you don’t buy it, you are passing up a huge opportunity to improve your health immediately. If you have kids, raw milk will not only help them grow, but will also boost their immune systems so they get sick less often. And, since the cream in raw milk is an important source of brain-building fats, whole milk and other raw dairy products will also help them to learn.

Yid.Dish: Homemade Yogurt and Buttermilk

“That’s disgusting.”

“But how can you be sure it’s safe”

“I guess I won’t be eating that from now on.”

I’ve received all of these reactions and more from friends when they’ve heard me explain that my wife and I make our own sourdough bread, yogurt and buttermilk. The products aren’t so distressing, but the processes, which are fundamentally the same, go against some deeply ingrained habits of thought: if germs are so bad, who in their right mind would deliberately cultivate germs and then eat the culturing medium?

Postville, Procter & Gamble, And The Problem With Pareve Margarine

The raid on the kosher meat-processing plant in Postville, Iowa, threw us a bone in the shape of a vigorous new debateon whether it is fitting and proper to designate as “kosher” products made without regard for animal welfare, fair wages,and the environment. To these I would add human health. What does it mean to approve the manufacture and distribution of products that are known to compromise the health of those who consume them? Is there a distinction to be made between contaminantsthat do their work quickly, like salmonella, and those whose destructive effects are slow and cumulative, like trans fats?

Look Before You Don’t Eat: Who is Questioning Your Food Safety?

Let me be the first to say that Im all for fighting for justice the little guy and when necessary, boycotting the big evil corporations of the world. But because we live in the age of astroturfing, Tea Parties, and Birthers there is plenty of false, misleading and sometimes offensive information presented in the guise of educational materials or concerned citizenship. Needless to say, Ive grown cynical enough not just to swallow every bit of Michael-Moore-like corporate bashing I come across.

Take for example a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute a Wisconsin-based think tank that according to their website is a group seeking economic justice for the family-scale farming community. It wasnt their mission that caused me pause as much as their vehement attacks on certain brands of soy products readily found in most grocery stores.

Getting Off The Bottle

This week, as Earth Day came and went and I attended a fair here or an Earth celebration there, it also donned on me that Spring is here!

So, beyond my environmental excursions, I also attended of variety of events held on my very own Columbia University. Yet, what I found was an inability to fully appreciate some of the events due to the ubiquity of plastic water bottles. Some may laugh, but I find myself becoming more and more annoyed with these obnoxious bottles that I suddenly see everywhere. As I have previously written about bottled water, my awakening began when seeing the movie “Blue Gold: World Water War’s” on instant play on Netflix. Then, I really became irked when seeing “The Story of Bottled Water,” which I posted on this blog.

Watch Food, Inc. for free on PBS


If you haven’t had a chance to see Food, Inc., carpe diem! PBS recently aired it on POV, television’s oldest showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV has also put the entire film on their site for free viewing for a limited time. It’s only up until April 28, so check it out today!

On Soy

soy image

I have long harbored misgivings about soy.  It is highly estrogenic. It’s associated with many environmental concerns (fields are clear cut internationally to support it, most of the crop goes toward feeding animals on feedlots, etc.) It’s highly processed (and a non whole food) as milk, frozen entrees, and other products.  And honestly, and this is just my perspective, I don’t enjoy the taste. But I have always respected the fact that many people do not agree with me on all these points, and enjoy soy as a deliberate and integral part of their diet.  Most of these folks have countered my concerns with the fact that it is a healthy, non-animal protein that provides efficient calories at a low cost. 

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear GE Alfalfa Case

United States Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a first-time case about the risks of genetically engineered crops. Named Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the case before the high court will be yet another step in an ongoing battle waged by the Center for Food Safety to protect consumers and the environment from potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

USDA Set to Again Approve GE Alfalfa – Comment! Speak Up for Organic Farmers

It’s been sometime since I wrote on JCarrot, but I have some big news and I’m asking for your help!

In 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. USDA failed to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) before deregulating the crop. An EIS is a rigorous analysis of the potential significant impacts of a federal decision. The federal courts sided with CFS and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the GE plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in an EIS.

Monsanto Tries To Update Its Image

pesticide photo

Recently, while sitting in a waiting room, I casually flipped through Audubon magazine.  Suddenly, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.  What?!  A Monsanto advertisement in an environmental magazine?

Audubon’s mission statement says: “Audubon magazine provides a place where nature enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and socially conscious consumers can discover, connect with, and be inspired by the natural world’s extraordinary beauty and diversity.”  Monsanto—of Agent Orange,  farmer-suing, seed-patenting , genome-tinkering , and crop-spraying fame—is hardly a logical bed fellow.

You can see the ad for yourself, here.  What’s truly infuriating about seeing the ad in Audubon magazine is that Monsanto is clearly targeting the environmental and food justice crowd.  Buzz words like “a changing climate,” “conserve more,” “use…fewer resources,” and “sustainable agriculture” give the illusion that Monsanto is on our side.  They are anything but.

Never one to bite my tongue, I sent Audubon an e-mail:

I was horrified to see a print ad for Monsanto in your magazine.  Monsanto is a foe of the environment, and their advertisement was nothing but propaganda.  Your magazine stands for environmental protection and advancement; Monsanto stands for big business at the expense of farmers, the environment, and health.  The vast majority of Monsanto’s attempts at genetic engineering ultimately increases pollution and endangers the public with unknown health risks.  I urge you to sever your business dealings with Monsanto.

The publisher of Audubon magazine promptly wrote me back:

Win 1 of 5 copies — Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals is not for the faint of heart. His recent article in the New York Times (excerpted from the first chapter) includes stories of his grand-mother, a holocaust survivor, which he uses to define himself as well as frame his book. The Jew and The Carrot’s Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus wrote a nice post about it, including:

“But I what I found most moving was the way he connected his own ethical commitment to vegetarianism to his grandmother’s commitment to kashrut, even under the most extreme circumstances. She gets the last word in the dialogue he recalls,

*FRESH* at Green Screens @ Lincoln Center this Tuesday

The other day my boyfriend and I were enjoying a Sunday walk in Brooklyn when we ran into his friend Ana, her partner and their adorable new baby.  Among the introductions and pleasantries she mentioned that she was distributing her film FRESH.  “Here, tell me what you think of it,” she said handing me a copy, knowing I was a food writer.

So, one night a while later my boyfriend and I tucked into the sofa and watched FRESH, the new film by Ana Sofia Joanes.  As someone who has seen Food Inc and has read a lot of Michael Pollan, the material was not new to me, however I found the material’s presentation (forgive the pun) fresh.  I had found Food Inc to be a good film, but heavy on the propaganda.  I felt that FRESH got its message across in a far more even-handed way.  The film invoked a pretty good discussion, and I was happy to see on their website they had some additional educational materials and even a call for recipes.  But you don’t have to be a Jew and the Carrot writer or have chance encounters with the director to see this film.  If you live in the New York area there will be a screening this Tuesday.

Court rejects GMO sugar beets!

In another important case against Monsanto and the USDA, the Center for Food Safety has again prevailed, demonstrating that GMOs pose serious risk of harm to organic farmers and consumers, and that the USDA is failing to sufficiently protect us from the contamination that can result from the planting of these crops – this time in Sugar beets! As lead counsel for CFS on this case, I’m excited to share the news with you!

A Federal Court ruled yesterday that the Bush USDA’s approval of genetically engineered (GE) “RoundUp Ready” sugar beets was unlawful. The Court ordered the USDA to conduct a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the crop on farmers and the environment.