Is Going “BPA Free” Enough?

Bisphenol-A, or BPA, has been much demonized in recent years.

This chemical, banned in France, Canada and China, is used in plastic and aluminum containers with surprising regularity in the United States.  Part of the reasons there’s so much noise about the chemical these days is that the FDA refuses to ban it here.

bpa-free

Is “BPA-Free” good enough?

But some changes are on the way.  The FDA did, last year, finally ban BPA in certain baby products, including baby bottles).  And “BPA Free” stickers are popping up all over the place on water bottles and food packaging, two of the major sources of the chemical in our diets. Continue reading

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Lessons from 2012 – Animal Products

Having spent the past three years learning as much about food, diet, agriculture and health as I’ve been able, in connection with launching an organic food company, I’ve put my diet through some radical, and not-so-radical, changes.

Read enough about food, and the way it’s grown, processed and distributed today, and you’re bound to find some ugly facts about foods you’ve eaten for years.

whopper

The patty isn’t the worst thing for you in this picture. But it isn’t the best.

And many of these ugly facts will be about meat.  There are enough groups opposed to meat eating – ethical vegans, organizations protesting cruelty to animals, doctors who feel that meat is the origin of heart disease and cancer – that ugly facts about meat production and consumption tend to get out in front of the public eye very quickly.

And many of these facts are truly ugly.  But others aren’t as ugly as they may seem.  How to sift trough everything you hear and separate fact from fiction?  Here’s my best shot at it. Continue reading

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Lessons from 2012 – Gluten Free

I started on Saturday a series of post highlighting the biggest lessons I learned about food and health from reading, eating and living in 2012.  Today I’d like to continue that series with a new topic:

Gluten Free.  I started experimenting with a gluten free diet last year somewhat by chance.  I’d recently gone vegan (which I’ve since revised to being vegan when I’m not dining with others), and in order to make up for the meats and cheeses that had previously played a large role in my diet, I turned hard core to gluten.

ezekiel 4-9

I recommend this cereal. But don’t make it the only thing you eat.

Not because I wanted gluten itself, but because the first vegan foods I could think of that could satisfy my runner’s appetite without the use of animal products were loaded with the stuff: whole grain breakfast cereal and whole grain pasta.

Around this time, I’d noticed a profound fatigue early in the afternoon that I couldn’t shake.  Simultaneously, I came across an article about Novak Djokovic, who at the time was dominating tennis and crediting his gluten free diet.  I’d heard that gluten could make some people sluggish, and Djokovic claimed his diet gave him more mental energy. Continue reading

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What I Learned in 2012

I’d like to start off the new year by looking back at the old.  Here’s a little Cliff Notes to what I learned reading, living and experimenting with food and health in 2012.

Diet.  Read the papers, and you can find an article on pretty much any food stating that it’s good for you, and another stating that it’s bad.  What to do?  Simple.  I’ve tested pretty much all foods on my body over these past few years, and I find there’s a hierarchy of what foods are better for you.  I’ve based these on foods’ results on my weight, my regularity, the feeling in my stomach following a meal, and even on, if you believe me, eyesight.  I’ve also taken into consideration, albeit to a lesser degree, undisputed scientific consensuses (though there are very few of these) on foods’ effects on cancer, heart disease and happiness (yes, those studies are out there).

Your mother was right: Eat your fruits and vegetables.

Your mother was right: Eat your fruits and vegetables.

My conclusion is, the best foods you can eat are raw fruits and vegetables.  It doesn’t matter which ones.  Don’t worry about looking for particular vitamins or minerals, or “superfoods” or foods that promise to “improve digestion,” “foster heart health” or “support immunity.”  Just look for (1) a fruit or vegetable that’s (2) raw.

I think that if people recognized the true difference raw fruits and vegetables have on your body, they would be much less of a tough sell. Continue reading

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Talking to Your Kids About Happy Meals

With my wife and me increasingly interested in starting a family soon, my antennae are up for articles on childrearing.  Particularly those that deal with food.

The latest, from the Wall Street Journal, has lodged itself in my head.  The article details a father’s experience with young children who come home excited after hearing about McDonald’s Happy Meals for the first time.  Combine food with toys, and you have a powerful way to lure children to your fast food restaurant.

Happy Meal

Toys and cartoons. How can a plain old vegetable compete?

The article’s author and his wife had raised the kids away from fast food as a conscious choice about health and diet.  His wife’s initial reaction was to tell the kids McDonald’s is “poison” and that they should stay away at all costs.  His own reaction was only slightly less brash: bribing the kids to eat vegetables instead.

But psychiatrists, whom the author consulted while writing the article, advise against both approaches.  Singling out “forbidden foods” may only make the kids’ desire for those foods stronger – and their repulsion for the healthier alternatives foist upon them more powerful as well.  And bribery only reduces a child’s appetite for the foods they’re bribed to eat. Continue reading

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Another Warning on Baby Formula

With my wife and me trying to conceive, my ears perk up anytime I hear advice about raising children.

And as a food writer and entrepreneur, they perk up doubly when this advice pertains to food.

Similac

Is it only baby formula that falls short? Or all our heavily processed foods?

So a new study quickly caught my attention: infant formula not only produces more free fatty acids–known to damage cell membranes–when digested, but those free fatty acids kill of the cells that line the intestines and blood vessels, along with white blood cells that control inflammation caused by cell trauma.  In the same study, breast milk wreaked far less havoc.

Lest you’re worried, the study wasn’t conducted on babies, but on cells in a laboratory. Continue reading

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Turn Nutritional Advice on Its Head

Having spent three years now starting and running an organic food company and an organic food blog and, along the way, learning everything I could about food and nutrition, I have a hard time accepting the way we talk about food, health and nutrition.

Almost inevitably we talk about making sure we get “enough.”  Enough magnesium, enough calcium, enough omega-3, enough protein, enough fruits, enough vegetables.

Sneaky Pete's

Take fiber from oat and put in sugary beverage. Get health?

But I think we’re going about things horribly wrong.  Because after everything I’ve read, all the questions I’ve asked, all the studies, theories, articles and debates I’ve come across, it’s clear to me that getting proper nutrition isn’t a matter of being sure you get enough of all the nutrients we supposedly need to function.

It’s a matter of not eating foods that sabotage our nutrition.

What’s the difference? Continue reading

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