Buy ORGANIC strawberries
“If it’s not a pure extract, food chemists create their own proprietary natural flavors. Natural doesn’t mean that it fell off a tree. The flavorist will identify the “primary” chemical constituents in an essence and extract it from any plant or animal source, or any combination of these, of their choosing. In the case of vanilla, a source unrelated to the vanilla bean has been famously used. It’s on the GRAS list. It’s called castoreum. And it comes from a beaver’s ass.
Yes, you read correctly and yes, it’s really true. Castoreum is commonly found in the commercially approved foods you love, including vanilla ice cream. (To see a fairly recent study on the safety of castoreum, and just in case you didn’t believe me, check out the scientific study below.) According to FDA requirements, manufactures aren’t required to announce the presence of animal products in their natural flavors, a calamity to vegans and vegetarians, and the reason why it’s so vital to stay informed.”
I’d like beaver’s ass flavored ice cream, please! :-D
“What’s the Deal?
In one recent study, researchers recruited a small group of newbie meditators and trained them for six weeks in the art of breathing deeply, repeating mantras, and ignoring intrusive thoughts. At the end of the training, researchers drew blood before and 15 minutes after participants listened to a 20-minute guided meditation CD. What they found was remarkable: All the blood samples showed positive changes in gene expression (the process by which certain genes are turned “on” or “off”).
Specifically, genes linked to energy metabolism, mitochondria function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were activated, while genes associated with stress and inflammation were deactivated. Researchers also ran the same experiment on a group of more experienced meditators, and found that the pros’ blood samples showed even more significant, positive changes in gene expression.
Other recent research has yielded similar findings. Scientists have found that yoga induces changes in the expression of genes related to the immune system (in other words, yoga may boost immunity), and that practicing yoga and meditation can help the body heal faster from disease  .”
“The New York Times recently wrote on two new studies — with different methodologies — that illustrate the anti-performance effects of static stretching pre-workout  . The first study, conducted at Stephen F. Austin State University, showed significant strength impairment in individuals who practiced static stretching before lifting as opposed to those who performed dynamic warm-ups. (Even when a subjects performed both types of warm-up, static stretching seemed to negate the positive performance boost of dynamic moves like explosive lunges.)
The second study by researchers in Croatia looked at a total of 104 previous studies on stretching and athletic performance. Almost across the board — and regardless of age, sex, or fitness level — static stretching before a workout impaired explosive movement and strength performance . And while more research is needed to determine exaclty why static stretching hurts our performance so much, it’s likely that loosening muscles and tendons in the “traditional” manner leaves them less able to move quickly and on command come workout time.”
“A new report suggests that improved health care and significant reductions in drug costs might be attained by breaking up the age-old relationship between physicians and drug company representatives who promote the newest, more costly and often unnecessary prescription drugs.
This system, which has been in place for decades, at one time benefited doctors by keeping them up to date on new medications, and always provided generous amounts of “free” samples to get patients started on the newest drugs, as well as other supplies and gifts.
But it’s actually a powerful marketing process into which the pharmaceutical industry pours tens of billions of dollars a year, with more than 90,000 drug representatives providing gifts and advice. There is one drug representative for every eight doctors in the United States. This doesn’t necessarily serve the best interests of the patient in terms of economy, efficacy, safety or accuracy of information, experts say.”
America’s food industry is in the midst of a dramatic culture shift that’s challenging everything we’ve been taught about eating. Here’s how to take advantage of this exciting new movement and eat more healthfully than ever before.
The good news is it really doesn’t take much to lend your support to the positive trends in today’s food movement. And doing so will build a healthier, more soul-satisfying relationship with your food. Here are a few simple ways you can help revolutionize our food system for the better:
1. Do Your Homework
As organics take off and multinational food companies acquire small producers, consumer research becomes more important than ever. (For a graph displaying who owns what in the organic foods industry, visit www.msu.edu/~howardp/organicindustry.html.) Check out labels through nonindustry sources like the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) or Sustainable Table (www.sustainabletable.org) — they’ll explain which food producers uphold the highest standards of land management, labor practices and animal treatment. (See Web Extra! for more on the intricacies of the burgeoning organics industry.)
You can also take your pick of books like Kingsolver’s and Pollan’s, or Daniel Imhoff’s Food Fight: A Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill (University of California Press, 2007). Plus, two recent documentaries — King Corn (2007) and The Future of Food (2004) — will help you better understand the dangers of monoculture crops and genetically modified seeds. For a clever, but strongly positioned, lesson about factory-farmed eggs, milk and meat, check out the flash animation films at The Meatrix (www.themeatrix.com).
2. Get Involved
Find your local food co-op and become a member. (You can track down the nearest one at www.sustainabletable.org.) Start a weekend ritual of visiting a nearby farmers’ market. Buy a share in a CSA (find one at www.localharvest.org) and get weekly deliveries of fresh produce from a local farmer; some CSAs even offer fresh eggs and chicken. (For more on eating local, see “Closer to Home: 5 Steps Toward Eating Local” in the April 2008 archives.)
Get involved with urban farming or spend a day volunteering at a nearby farm, especially great activities to do with kids. See if you can get your school hooked up with a local farm for the lunch program. Or consider donating to good food causes, like the People’s Grocery in Oakland, Calif., or the folks at Urban Farming, who are working to increase urban food security by turning empty city lots into farms (www.urbanfarming.org).
Finally, don’t be intimidated by legislation — there are plenty of primers on the Farm Bill (see Imhoff’s Food Fight) that will get you up to speed on the basic issues. Call and write your legislators (www.congress.org) to press for a better “food bill” that supports a more sustainable food system. Meanwhile, you can continue to “vote with your fork” by shopping for local, sustainable whole foods.
3. Choose Your Battles
Here are a few modest changes that can make a big impact:
4. Follow the Foodies
When you find yourself too busy to hit the farmers’ market or weed the vegetable gardens at a CSA, you can still support a healthier food economy by choosing farm-to-table restaurants when you eat out. (The Eat Well Guide at www.eatwellguide.org will help you find them.)
Today’s food activists are helping bring our food systems and eating habits full circle: When we eat more local, seasonal, whole foods, we are eating much like our ancestors.
“In the history of European cooking, preparing local food was more of a necessity,” says Mike Phillips, head chef at the Minneapolis restaurant The Craftsman, one of hundreds nationwide that support local growers of whole foods. “There weren’t means to refrigerate or ship food thousands of miles, so traditional cooking and preserving techniques evolved out of using foods locally. There’s also a strong pride taken in regional foods — only wine grown in the Burgundy region can carry that name — and I want to support farmers who are developing those traditions of quality here.”
Indeed, there is pleasure and a sense of pride in knowing where our food comes from — and a deeper connection with our food is born out of appreciation for the labor that brought it to our plate. Familiarizing ourselves with what we eat and buying whole, local foods sustains our food culture and promotes dignity in food production and consumption.
This more mindful approach to food — and the food system at large — transforms an everyday act of consumption into an act of grace. And who doesn’t want a bigger serving of that?