Tag Archives | Food

99 Percent Certainty Hormone-Altering Chemicals Cause Serious Health Problems

Avoiding the chemically treated foods produced by agribusiness may be well worth the Whole Paycheck premium, per this report from National Geographic, although the problems are not restricted to foods, spanning all sorts of plastics, flame retardants and even paper receipts:

Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a study published Thursday.

Crop spraying - geograph.org.uk - 274618

Chemicals that can mimic or block estrogen or other hormones are commonly found in thousands of products around the world, including plastics, pesticides, furniture, and cosmetics.

The new research estimated health care costs in Europe, where policymakers are debating whether to enact the world’s first regulations targeting endocrine disruptors. The European Union’s controversial strategy, if approved, would have a profound effect on industries and consumer products worldwide.

Linda Birnbaum, the leading environmental health official in the U.S.

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Are processed foods finally on their way out?

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Christina Sarich via Natural Society:

The public doesn’t trust manufacturers like Kellogg’s and Kraft anymore. Earnings are falling, and dozens of Big Food companies’ stocks are down. One of the biggest food companies in the world, ConAgra, is even slashing its 2015 earnings projections. Is Big Food really over?

ConAgra is changing management – is it because their 2015 earnings projections are way are down and stocks took a plunge recently? The food giant owns brands like Hunts, Swiss Miss, as well as Chef Boyardee, among others. Do people really want to eat cancer-causing chemicals in a can anymore?

Kraft, the maker of Oscar Mayer deli meats, Jell-O, Maxwell House coffee, and Velveeta cheese also recently shook up top management and reported sluggish sales.  Big Food company, Kellogg’s, has seen its sales plunge 5.4 percent over the past year.

Campbell’s Soup CEO has said:

“There’s a mounting distrust of so-called Big Food, the large food companies and legacy brands on which millions of consumers have relied on for so long.”

Do Americans finally realize what Yale medical researchers David Katz and Samuel Meller declared in a paper in 2013, that a “diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

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How Emulsifiers Are Messing with Our Guts (and Making us Fat)

Common food ingredients like polysorbate 80, lecithin, and carrageenan interfere with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, reports Elizabeth Grossman at Civil Eats:

Scan the fine print on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredientsoften oils and fatsfrom separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.

Light Mayo Ingredients

Now, a new study released today in the journal Nature suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, known as “gut microbio.”

This news may surprise consumers, given the fact that emulsifiers are approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and appear in many foods otherwise considered “healthy,” including some in which their presence helps to reduce transfats and gluten, and many labeled organic and non-GMO.

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Inside The Food Industry: The Surprising Truth About What You Eat

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Credit: AlejandroLinaresGarcia (CC)

Think you eat only healthy, unprocessed foods? Think again. The Guardian‘s Joanna Blythman went undercover and discovered that even your fruit salad is not what it seems:

…You might find it all too easy to resist the lure of a turkey drummer, a ready meal, a “fruit” drink or a pappy loaf of standard white bread. You might check labels for E numbers and strange-sounding ingredients, boycotting the most obvious forms of processed food. And yet you will still find it hard to avoid the 6,000 food additives – flavourings, glazing agents, improvers, bleaching agents and more – that are routinely employed behind the scenes of contemporary food manufacture. That upmarket cured ham and salami, that “artisan” sourdough loaf, that “traditional” extra-mature cheddar, those luxurious Belgian chocolates, those speciality coffees and miraculous probiotic drinks, those apparently inoffensive bottles of cooking oil: many have had a more intimate relationship with food manufacturing than we appreciate.

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Nestlé USA to Remove Artificial Flavors and Colors from Chocolate Candy

NesteCandyBarsIt’s good to see that on occasion mega food conglomerates actually pay attention to consumer demand for less toxic products (not that we’re endorsing Nestlé’s processed crap as healthy food – but one assumes it’s marginally better). From Nestlé USA‘s press release:

Nestlé USA announced today its commitment to removing artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, from all of its chocolate candy products. By the end of 2015, more than 250 products and 10 brands including NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®, CRUNCH® and BABY RUTH® will be free of artificial flavors and certified colors. Products will begin appearing on store shelves by mid-2015, and will be identified by a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” claim featured on-pack.

“Nestlé is the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company and our commitment to remove artificial flavors and certified colors in our chocolate candy brands is an important milestone,” said Doreen Ida, president, Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks.

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Consumer Self-Defense: 12 Ways to Drive GMOs and Roundup off the Market

'Although Monsanto, industry scientists and corporate agribusiness claim that GMO crops and foods, and the chemicals that accompany them, are perfectly safe and therefore need no labeling or independent safety-testing, hundreds of independent scientists, that is, those not on the payroll of Monsanto or its minions, cite literally hundreds of studies showing that GMOs and their companion chemicals, such as Roundup, are extremely toxic. ' (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

‘Although Monsanto, industry scientists and corporate agribusiness claim that GMO crops and foods, and the chemicals that accompany them, are perfectly safe and therefore need no labeling or independent safety-testing, hundreds of independent scientists, that is, those not on the payroll of Monsanto or its minions, cite literally hundreds of studies showing that GMOs and their companion chemicals, such as Roundup, are extremely toxic.’ (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Ronnie Cummins writes at Common Dreams:

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” – New York Times, Oct. 25, 1998

“[GMO] Labeling advocates say the issue is about transparency, not safety. Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It campaign, testified that consumers want to know what they are buying and how the food was produced.

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A ‘Lively’ Day at Monsanto Headquarters

Via Alexis Baden-Mayer at Organic Consumers Association

On January 30, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) joined Moms Across America (MAA), SumofUs, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Harrington Investments and GMO Free Midwest in a protest and confrontation at Monsanto’s annual shareholder meeting.

The meeting was held at Monsanto corporate headquarters outside St. Louis, Mo., in a town called Creve Coeur—which in French means Broken Heart.

It’s a fitting name for the location of a company that has caused so much heartache with its toxic chemicals.

OCA’s mission on January 30 was to let Monsanto know, in no uncertain terms, that its so-called science—bought and paid for with dirty corporate money—is no match for the research being conducted by honest, independent scientists. And that research is clear: Monsanto is making us sick.

OCA launched our “Monsanto Makes Us Sick” with speeches by medical doctors Jeff Ritterman and Norm Shealy who summed up the scientific case against Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup herbicide.

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The coming food disaster

David Schubert via CNN:

One would expect that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the best interests of the public in mind, but its recent decisions have cast serious doubt upon this assumption.

One in particular could have a dramatic impact on the safety of the U.S. food supply: It is the mandate of the EPA to regulate the use of agricultural chemicals like insecticides and herbicides, as well as to determine their allowable limits in food and drinking water.

Herbicides (weed killers) are mixtures of chemicals designed to spray on weeds, where they get inside the plants and inhibit enzymes required for the plant to live. The active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide is glyphosate, while some herbicides contain 2,4D. 2,4D is best known as a component of Agent Orange, a defoliant widely employed during the Vietnam War.

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We’ve Passed the Point of Peak Food

Doomsayers have gone awfully quiet on peak oil during what appears to be a global oil glut (and price crash), but according to Smithsonian Magazine we’ve gone past the point of peak food:

…[A]ccording to research recently published in Ecology and Society, production of the world’s most important food sources has maxed out and could begin dropping—even as the Earth’s human population continues to grow.

Agriculture in India tractor farming Punjab preparing field for a wheat crop without burning previous crop stalk

Ralf Seppelt, a scientist with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, and several colleagues looked at production rates for 27 renewable and nonrenewable resources. They used data collected from several international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and analyzed yield rates and totals over a period of time—from 1961 to about 2010 in most cases. For renewable resources like crops and livestock, the team identified peak production as the point when acceleration in gains maxed out and was followed by a clear deceleration.

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Pesticides just got a whole lot smaller. Is that a good thing?

Liz Core writes at Grist:

Nanoparticles are basically the X-Men of the molecular world, in that they are unpredictable, elusive, and come in a dizzying array of forms.

So it should come as no surprise that scientists are now researching a new type of nanotechnology that could revolutionize modern farming: nanopesticides. (Cue: Ooo, ahh) Recentstudies have suggested that the nano-scale pesticide droplets could offer a range of benefits including raising crop durability and persistence, while decreasing the amount of pesticide needed to cover the same amount of ground. But they’re also looking at the hefty potential for trouble: No one knows if the nanopesticide particles will seep into water systems, and, if they do, if they will harm non-pests like bees, fish, and even humans.

As we’ve written before, nanotechnology involves engineering particles that are tinier than the tiniest tiny. (More technically, we’re talking anything measured in billionths of a meter.) Scientists find this useful, since most substances behave much differently at that scale.

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