Category Archives: food

A Scientist’s Case Against GMO Labeling

Andrew Staehelin is a professor emeritus of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado here in Boulder. He wrote a guest commentary for our local newspaper titled, “GMO labels – a $500 food tax”. I think it would be wise for everyone to read it as it is as good as anything you’ll find on the subject and contains quite a few bits of information that I’ll bet you didn’t know before.

Here in Colorado we have an initiative on the ballot to label GMO products now that enough signatures were gathered for the vote. Many other states are also going this route. While I would love to see many parts of Ag policy change, I am not an advocate of GMO labeling, in part, because people can already buy GMO free if that’s what they really want. Also, I think “be careful what you wish for” applies here.

Here’s a link to the article which I do hope everyone will take the time to read and pass around.

Staehelin wrote another piece recently which I also strongly recommend concerning GMO rennet in cheeses. The article tells us that places like Whole Foods should be labeling most of their cheeses as having GMO content if they really want consumers to know which products contain GMO ingredients.

And, there is yet another important point (against the rationality of labeling) explained in this previous post:

Caution: GMO Labeling Regulations Could Soon Become Obsolete.

Sweet Potatoes are Gaining as Regular Potatoes are Losing Ground

U.S. sweet potato use per capita has increased significantly during the last decade and was estimated at nearly 7 pounds in 2012, up almost 50 percent over 2002 levels. People recognize the health benefits of fiber and many nutrients contained in sweet potatoes and, of course, sweet potato fries have become extremely popular.

According to the Univ. of Kentucky, “sweet potatoes gained some popularity as a ‘lower-carb potato’ in the early 2000’s, and high antioxidant levels in sweet potato skins and other health benefits contributed to consumption staying strong after the low-carb diet craze. Sweet potato consumption is highest among Americans over 60, and sweet potatoes may have special appeal to aging, health-conscious baby boomers.”


source: North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

U.S. Sweet Potato per capita consumption has been rising nicely:
4.2 pounds in 2000
5.2 pounds in 2009
6.3 pounds in 2010
7 pounds in 2012

As a comparison, American’s eat about 50 pounds per year of all types of potatoes, including processed and fresh baked.

Do you know where your sweet potatoes come from?

North Carolina has been the number one sweet producing state since 1971. According to NC Sweet Potatoes, “Its hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes, averaging at nearly 50% of the U.S. supply. According to the USDA, North Carolina harvested nearly 50,000 acres of sweet potatoes in 2010, the same amount produced by California, Louisiana and Mississippi combined – also top producing states.”

Sweet potatoes were formerly thought of as a poor man’s food, but now are realized to be a nutrient lovers food. I like to put cubed sweet potatoes in Indian cooking dishes with other vegetables such as cauliflower over rice, or, in pasta.

One lady is even reported to have done a sweet potato diet. She claims to have lost 90 pounds while eating one sweet potato per day topped with cinnamon, along with other healthy foods.


References:

1. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CDBREC/introsheets/sweetintro.pdf

2. http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/foodservice/Sweet-potato-consumption-on-the-rise-228037231.html

3. http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potato-industry/

4. http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-humble-potato-falls-from-grace-1407867055

Do you know the difference between Coconut Palms and Palm Oil Trees?

This seems like a reasonable question to ask, because there has been an explosion of coconut water for sale over the past few years. Do people know where the coconuts used to make their coconut water are coming from?

Thanks to dutchplantin.com, here are two definitions of oil palm vs. the coconut palm.

Oil palm
The oil palm is mass cultivated on large plantations. The largest production countries are Indonesia (6 million hectares) and Malaysia (4 million hectares). The only product obtained from the fruit of the tree (the palm stone) is palm oil, in a quantity worldwide of more than 48 million tons. The oil is used for, among other things, margarine, oil for frying, soap, biodiesel and to generate electricity.

Coconut palm
The coconut palm is mainly cultivated by local farmers in Indonesia (2.6 million hectares), the Philippines (2.3 million hectares) and India (1.9 million hectares). Due to the relatively small scale of cultivation and the involvement of the local population, this activity forms an intrinsic part of these societies. Numerous products are produced from the coconuts which grow on the trees – coconut milk, coconut oil (worldwide 3.3 million tons), coconut fibres (for rope, mats, brushes and mattresses) and cocopeat. Our coir pith is therefore essentially a by-product from the traditional fibre industry in Asia.

We all know about the huge land use destruction of rain forests for palm oil production which has been a problem in recent years. I hope that the growing use of coconuts from coconut trees has far less of an environmental impact. If small scale cultivation of coconut palms make up most of their sources, then, I am curious about the distribution and marketing operations and how that has been attained rather quickly of late. Anyone?

According to Michael Moss, of the NYTs, coconut water entered the American market 10 years ago and global sales now are $400 million a year. Customers believe that it contains numerous health benefits, but that claim is very doubtful.

As for me, I never drink canned or bottled beverages which contain sugar (and coconut water does), but I can’t help but notice all of the cans of coconut water in the stores and I am also noticing more recipes which call for coconut water and coconut milk as if it were a valuable and contributory ingredient. I’d call it a fad.

Can one Taste Help You Lose Weight? Perhaps.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is telling us the chemical glutamate in food is the taste that makes us feel “full”.

Foods which may satiate us better, then, include meat, parmesan cheese, shiitake mushrooms, and… you guessed it… Marmite.

This “fullness” flavor is named umami by the Japanese, and means deliciousness. Expect to hear that word a lot more as people reach for the next magical weight loss solution.


To learn more, read Scientists identify the flavour that helps us eat less.