"Almost one-sixth of the entire US economy is devoted to "marketing,". Advertising is described by analysts and business literature as a process of fabricating wants – a campaign to drive people to the superficial things in life, like fashionable consumption, so that they will remain passive and obedient." -Noam Chomsky
Marketers have told us for years that we are too busy working, carting the kids around or for a multitude of other reasons, that by the time dinner rolls around we are too tired or have no time to prepare a home cooked meal. We are bombarded with commercials that sell us on the idea that we deserve a break, processed foods are mmm' mmm' good, and foods like packaged washed and cut lettuce or so much more convenient and worth the extra expense.
According to Wenonah Hauter just 20 companies produce most of the food eaten by Americans, including organic brands and only four companies own 80% of the beef market. These companies have the economic and political power to dictate food policy in many ways. They lobby for everything including laws on advertising junk food to children to manipulating nutrition standards, as well as, weakening federal pesticide regulations and blocking the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Company mergers mean these companies will get bigger leaving us with less choice in who we purchase our food from.
Storing fruit and vegetables properly is the key to keeping them fresh and maintaining the best possible flavor. Here is a guide for better tasting produce.
1/2 cup dried stevia leaves
Stevia Liquid Extract:
1/2 cup dried stevia leaves
1 cup water
Stevia Conversion Chart
Stevia, like other foods may cause allergic reactions in some people. According to the New Health Guide website people with pre-existing allergies to chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed or daisies are at greater risk of a stevia reaction. Symptoms may include: dizziness, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, general weakness or having a hard time swallowing shortly after consuming stevia. Other Side-Effects: aching and sore muscles or a feeling of numbness and dizziness when standing up or moving.
If you have wondered why unhealthy food is less expensive to buy than healthy food, look no further than the federal government. Federal subsidies of unhealthy food additives like corn sweeteners, corn starch, and soy oils have cost taxpayers $19.2 billion since 1995, while fruit and vegetables have received just $689 million in funding. (With apples receiving the majority of the money.) Beyond disproportionately favoring a select group of commodity crops, the current subsidies are also directed towards the biggest producers. Since 1995, the majority of the $292.5 billion spent on agricultural subsidies were given to just 3.8 percent of farms. These subsidized farms collected $178.5 billion while 62 percent of farms collected no subsidies at all.
These food additives have helped create the obesity epidemic in this country. We should be asking why the federal government continues to subsidize unhealthy products more than they subsidize fresh fruit and vegetables.
Corn becomes high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or corn starch—carbohydrates with virtually no nutritional value. Soy is separated into meal and oil—the meal becomes livestock feed and the oil becomes fat-based additives such as hydrogenated vegetable oil.
These empty-calorie additives find their way into the majority of junk foods and beverages in America. Products infused with corn and soy additives line our grocery and pantry shelves—breakfast cereals, baked goods, candy, frozen desserts, ketchup, dressings, and sauces are a few household favorites. Artificially sweetened and chockfull of calories, these products are high in taste, but low in nutritional value.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn syrup, and corn starch have become the fillers of choice, in part because of deliberate agricultural policy decisions to subsidize corn. Corn starch, a thickening agent and the base from which corn syrups are derived, comes from the endosperm of a corn kernel. It acts as a fat replacer to stabilize processed foods and creates the texture and ‘mouth-feel’ normally associated with creamy foods. It does not provide meaningful nutritional value. These sweeteners are widely available and cheaper than sugar.
Since 1995, the U.S. has produced 190.7 billion bushels of corn, 13.8 billion of which were churned into corn sweetener, while 4.6 billion bushels were converted into corn starch and used as a processed food stabilizer. Thus, of the total domestic corn produced, 9.6 percent ended up as sweeteners or thickeners. Translated into taxpayer dollars, $8.1 billion of the $84.4 billion spent on corn subsidies has financed the production of starch and sweeteners.
Subsidies for Soy Oils
Soy oil, commonly called “vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” on ingredient lists, accounts for 65 percent of all edible oils ingested by Americans. To produce soy oils, the liquid left over from the soybean separation process is hydrogenated, converting certain healthy fatty acids into unhealthy ones. This additive extends the shelf life of foods and creates oils which operate similarly to shortening, increasing risks of heart disease and elevating cholesterol levels.
Soy is so prevalent in the national diet that when Americans deep fry chicken, chomp on tortilla chips, or drizzle dressing on salad, they are most likely consuming soy oil. Soy’s ubiquity is no coincidence— soy subsidies since 1995 tally up to $27.8 billion—the fifth most-heavily subsidized crop on the federal list. Soy oil constitutes approximately 40 percent of a soybean’s value, meaning that since 1995, soy oils have consumed approximately $11.1 billion in taxpayer dollars. Americans consume more than 28 billion pounds of edible oils annually, and soybean oil accounts for about 65 percent of it. About half of it is hydrogenated, as soybean oil is too unstable otherwise to be used in food manufacturing. One of the primary reasons for hydrogenating oil is to prolong its shelf life. Raw butter, for example, is likely to go rancid far quicker than margarine.
The process also makes the oil more stable and raises its melting point, which allows it to be used in various types of food processing that uses high temperatures.
Hydrogenated oil is made by forcing hydrogen gas into the oil at high pressure. Virtually any oil can be hydrogenated. Margarine is a good example, in which nearly half of the fat content is trans fat. The process that creates partially hydrogenated oil alters the chemical composition of essential fatty acids, such as reducing or removing linolenic acid, a highly reactive triunsaturated fatty acid, transforming it into the far less reactive linoleic acid, thereby greatly preventing oxidative rancidity when used in cooking.
In the late 1990’s, researchers began realizing this chemical alteration might actually have adverse health effects. Since then, scientists have verified this to the point of no dispute.
To read the 2013 report by U.S. PRIG click here.
Here are a few more ways to save when shopping for groceries. One of the best tips is to read the price per unit tag on the product shelf. This is the easiest way to compare product prices.
The FDA is finally updating nutrition labels on food packaging. Nutrition labels were first required in the early 1990's. They were reflective of the eating habits from data taken between the 1970's to the 1980's. Since that time period portion sizes have increased making the labels confusing.
The serving size is based on a more accurate assessment of what a typical person would consume. The calories are displayed in a larger font making them easier to read. The biggest change is that there are now separate lines for naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Hopefully change this will propel food manufacturers to use less sugar in manufactured products.
For more information on serving size click here.
For more information on understanding dietary guidelines click here.
For more on sweeteners click here.
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, Michael Moss's new book is shaking up the processed food industry. It is titled Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. This very informative book shows how food manufacturers have used science to determine the exact formulation of salt, sugar and fat to hook us on food.
Food manufacturers like Kraft, General Foods and Nestle have used these scientific formulations to enhance their profit margins knowing full well that the food they produce is bad for our health.
Initially, pre-packaged foods were something eaten occasionally. They were "convenient" but lacked flavor so they weren't very popular. Eventually food manufacturers discovered the right formula to make their products both flavorful and addicting. This is why it's hard to eat a few chips, crackers or cookies. These "products" have few real food in them, this is why it is so difficult to get the exact flavor when making a homemade version. They use ingredients that are unpronounceable and we have no idea what they are.
It doesn't take much to change your taste buds to like foods with less salt, sugar and fat. If you do still feel the need to use "convenient" foods, use them in the spirit they were intended, eat them infrequently.
Click here to read an informative article in The New York Times.
Heirloom seeds are pure seed lines. There are many varieties to choose from, much more than what you can buy in the store or even at the farmer's markets. They produce the same fruit or vegetable year after year making them a real plus for people who want to save seeds and use them the following year to grow more crops.
Hybrid plants can occur naturally or intentionally by cross-breeding plants to get the desired characteristics.This is done by transferring the male (pollen) of one plant to the female organ of another. Cross breeding is limited to exchanges between the same or very closely related, characteristics of species. It can also take a long time to achieve desired results and frequently interest do not exist in any related species.
GMO's or Genetically Modified Foods take genes from very different organisms and combine them. This way omega-3 can be added to seeds like soybeans or seeds can be engineered to survive herbicide and pesticide use. Most of the fear stemming from GMO crops come from these concerns: not knowing the long term effects, fear of allergic reaction, hurting small farmers, harming the environment, and poor oversight and regulation.
Are GMO foods regulated by the government?
The regulation for genetically modified foods falls under three jurisdictions: The FDA, EPA, and USDA. This overlap creates a flawed regulation that allows companies to do their own testing on their products giving them As consumers we should demand that the FDA should be the one determining that our food is safe. We should not be relying on biotech companies like Monsanto to tell us if their food is safe. CSPI thinks that there should be a mandatory, premarket approval process by the FDA before biotech foods go on the market.
So why all the fuss about GMO food and labeling laws?
The USA does not require companies to label foods containing GMO's. Most people don't realize that Genetically Modified Foods are used in major food brands throughout the grocery store aisles. The most common GMO crops are corn, soybeans and canola oil. Examples of foods using these ingredients are: cereals, snack foods, cake and muffin mixes, soda and some baby foods. Since packaged foods already have labels and most companies are happy to change labeling when it is a perceived benefit; think low fat and heart healthy it doesn't make sense when companies say your food will cost more if GMO labels are added. According to the website, Just Label It there 64 countries around the world that use labels for GMO foods. Most European and Asian countries are included on the list along with some from Africa and South America.
What corporations are opposed to state GMO labeling laws?
Even if you are for GMO labeling your money may be helping defeat the measure. If you purchase any of the healthy and/or organic products owned by one of the companies below you are helping to defeat GMO labeling.
You should also be aware of any packaging changes from organic to natural. They do not mean the same thing.
This is a partial list of companies donating to defeat GMO labeling:
Cascadian Farms and Muir Glenn)
and of course Monsanto
For a full list of the 34 companies donating to the Grocery Manufacturers Association in opposition to GMO labeling click here.
For more information regarding GMO studies and food safety click here.
For an interesting website asking if we should grow GMO crops click here.
None of these meals contain, poultry, fish, seafood, beef, pork or anything else we consider to be meat. Some of them do contain, eggs, yogurt, cheese, honey or other animal products so they are not considered vegan. However, you can alter any of these recipes to fit a vegan diet.
Have you read the articles that 40% of food is wasted every year? The average family of four wastes between $1370-$2275 annually. Here are some tips that will help you save money and help you stop adding to the food waste problem. For more information on Food Waste click here.