Remember that Stanford study last year that claimed organic foods were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts? It made national headlines seeming to vindicate critics of organic farming practices and confirming to skeptics that organics are nothing more than a marketing scheme. I criticized that study when it appeared as did many others but it damaged the reputation of organic farming in the minds of many Americans. Read more
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a proposed ban on trans fats, decades after the science first implicated the artificial fat in causing arterial damage and increased risk for heart disease. Scientists first started sounding alarms about the dangers of trans fats in the 1980s, some 30 years after they were introduced to the American food supply. Read more
Forty-eight grams of sugar—that’s how much sweetener is in one medium sized Pumpkin Spiced Latte from McDonald’s. The ads for this Autumnal drink are everywhere lately, but what’s absent is any indication of what comprises this “seasonal treat.”
Most people could never guess just how much sugar it contains: 12 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar in an entire day and for men it’s nine. Those 12 teaspoons are more sugar than the average person should consume in a two-day period. Read more
While Congress battles it out over health care reform, the resulting government shutdown will have far-reaching impacts on food safety, environmental protections, food production, and farming. It also has serious implications for the health and nutrition of many Americans. Depending on the duration of the shut down, it could be nothing less than catastrophic for a great number of people. Read more
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made two moves in recent days that seemingly address consumer concerns on some hot button issues. First, it banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) based epoxy resins in coatings for baby formula packaging. Second, it proposed a limit on how much arsenic is allowed in apple juice. Looking more closely at these decisions, however, it seems that FDA is really more interested in appeasing industry, than doing its duty to protect the public. Read more
The Bloomberg administration is back in court three months after a state court judge barred New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to create a city-wide ban on sugary beverages over 16 ounces. Read more
If there is one topic that Americans are generally confused about it’s nutrition. Although the word simply means the materials necessary in the form of food to support life, our cultural understanding of it has shifted dramatically—with various industries co-opting the word and changing its meaning. Michael Pollan calls this “nutritionism” in his book In Defense of Food. “No idea could be more sympathetic to manufacturers of processed foods,” he writes. “Nutritionism supplies the ultimate justification for processing food by implying that with a judicious application of food science, fake foods can be made even more nutritious than the real thing.”
Convincing people of the healthfulness of these new foods—processed foods that have been refined, stripped, and altered, with synthetic vitamins, added whole grains, or antioxidants put back in—requires experts to help convey this message. In addition to the billions of dollars spent on advertising directly for food products, Big Food companies also recruit America’s nutrition professionals to spread their gospel. This is the topic of public health lawyer, Michele Simon’s new report which details “the food industry’s deep infiltration of the nation’s top nutrition organization.” Read more
Jane Brody, a long-time health columnist for The New York Times, has undoubtedly written great columns over the years, but her most recent one, published on December 31, 2012, was not one of them. In fact, this column, which claims to debunk health myths, is one of the most misinformed columns on health, nutrition and the environment to be published recently in the Times, filled with factual errors as well as outdated nutrition information. The piece warrants a detailed rebuttal, because so many people turn to the Times and to Brody for health advice and this time she was way off the mark. Read more
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a ban on the use of bisphenol A, or BPA, in baby bottles and children’s cups. BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been used in hard plastics, the linings of cans, food packaging, and dental fillings, even receipts–for which the Environmental Protection Agency is now investigating alternatives–for years. We’ve reported about the dangers of BPA on Civil Eats here, here, and here. This move essentially made official a practice that many manufacturers of baby bottles and cups already follow in response to growing pressure from consumers.
Questions of safety remain when it comes to the use of any plastic products that come in contact with our foods. The FDA ban is raising concern and creating headlines about what manufacturers will substitute in place of the BPA. A 2011 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that all plastics contain estrogenic activity (EA) and in some cases, those labeled “BPA free” leached more chemicals with EA than did BPA-containing products. The study’s authors write, “Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled—independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source—leached chemicals having reliably detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA free.”
Two days ago I wrote here on Civil Eats that it may not be long before the food industry will be proven wrong about their two favorite messages: All calories are created equal, and it’s all about personal responsibility. Well, it appears that science may be one step closer to proving at least half of that equation wrong and that in fact; all calories are not created equal. The latest study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week, found that when it came to weight loss and maintaining weight loss, those who ate a low carbohydrate, high fat diet kept more weight off than those who were on either a low glycemic diet or a low fat, high carbohydrate diet.
While all participants in the study ate the same number of calories, the types consumed varied. The low fat diet contained 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. The low glycemic diet contained 40 percent carbs, 40 percent fat, and 20 percent protein (with a focus on minimally processed foods). The low carb diet had 10 percent of calories from carbs, 60 percent from fat, and 30 percent from protein.
Compared to those on the low fat diet, those following the low carb diet burned 350 calories more per day and those on the low glycemic diet burned 150 calories more per day.
The most compelling part of this study is that it calls into question the long-held belief in the scientific and medical communities that all calories are created equal. Read more