Friday, August 24, 2012

Let us Decide! Honest Labeling of GE Foods

Greetings wellness lovers!

And happy Friday! :)

As you probably know... the debate re: Prop 37 (GMO labeling in California) is heating up. Approximately 92% of Americans are demanding honest labeling of genitically engineered foods, but many food companies (even those that sell 'natural' food) are spending $$$$$$ to fight it. 

Did you know that companies such as Kellogg's actually ship GMO-free products to Europe? However, in the US... they use GM ingredients in the same products and don't even want the consumer to know? (Kellogg's Facebook page is getting quite a lot of attention regarding this issue.)

In animal studies, genetically engineered foods have been shown to cause infertility, weight gain, severe allergies, and organ damage. And, there have not been any long-term studies analyzing the long-term effects of GE foods in humans.

Something else that is worth pondering... these are real quotes from the FDA and biotech company Monsanto pertaining to acceptance of responsibility concerning food safety.

The FDA says...

"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety" - FDA, "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties" (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229

And Monsanto has stated...

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.'s job" - Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

Wait... what? Who is actually supposed to be advocating on behalf of the consumer when it comes to food safety?

Something else worth looking into is the FDA's "revolving door policy." 

If honest labeling of food is important to you, and you haven't done so already... you can take action here.
I hope you are inspired to get involved! :)

Have an excellent day!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's boycott "natural" food companies who fight GMO labeling

... And support those who believe in the right to know if it's GMO!

by The Canary Party, August 20, 2012

This is the ultimate betrayal. A number of companies that we’ve all come to rely on for their organic and “natural” foods are in fact owned by “Big Food” companies that are spending millions of dollars on a disinformation campaign to defeat a bill that simply says we have a right to know which foods contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). The California bill is known as proposition 37, and its victory (or defeat) is sure to influence GMO food labeling in the other 49 states. This is an important and historic bill for everyone who believes they have a right to know if the DNA in the food they eat contains genes from foreign species (including viruses and bacteria).

Whether you rely on Muir Glen organic tomatoes for your spaghetti sauce, Cascadian Farms’ organic frozen fruit for your smoothies or Knudsen for your organic juice, you may want to rewrite your shopping list. The Canary Party joins Natural News in supporting a global boycott of the following brands (scroll down for e-mail forms):

• Kashi (owned by Kellogg, which has contributed $612,000 to defeat Proposition 37) - Kashi cereals contain GMOs!

• Silk soymilk (owned by the nation's largest dairy, Dean Foods, which has contributed $253,000 to the effort to kill Proposition 37)

• Larabar (owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• R.W. Knudsen juices (owned by Smucker, which has contributed $387,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Santa Cruz Organic apple sauce, juices (also owned by Smucker, which has contributed $387,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Cascadian Farm frozen produce (owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Muir Glen (also owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

Please let the companies whose products you’ve bought know why you’re boycotting them now. These feedback forms make it easy:

RW Knudsen:
Santa Cruz Organic:
Cascadian Farm:
Muir Glen:

Learn more about why the GMO industry doesn’t want you to know what you’re eating here:

And who are the good guys who are putting their businesses and money on the line to bring GMO labeling to California? Who are the ag and chemical giants funding the fight against having to tell people what they are eating? Check out the KCET report on who is funding each side of the Prop 37 war.

Victory is within our reach. Corporations know that if California Labels their products, Californians will stop buying them, and that will begin the rapid removal of GMOs from the market across the country, and then the world. Because it won't be a profitable business model any more. Let's help hurry that process along by buying from those who make and sell clean food.

Please share this on Facebook and other social networks, and spread the word to friends and family in e-mails.

Follow The Canary Party:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Exciting World of Tea!

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to give the spotlight to my sister, Alyssa! She has been excitedly upgrading her website Alyssa's Cooking Adventures, for weeks! It looks great... she's definitely a graphic/web designer who knows what she is doing!

Alyssa is also passionate about all things nutrition + wellness. And today, she has put together a piece for you... all about tea! More specifically, she will highlight some of the benefits of tea, how various types of tea differ, and how to steep tea correctly. Additionally, she has linked to some of her favorite tea-related links + resources.
The Primula Teapot
The Exciting World of Tea!

By Alyssa Craft, August 14, 2012, Alyssa's Cooking Adventures 

"My tea obsession started in December of 2010 when my significant other gave me blooming tea, a glass teapot, and cute little tea cups for Christmas. (Everything is better when it's cute, right?) This blooming tea intrigued me because you put an ugly ball into hot water and it turns into a beautiful flower that flavors the water. It was like magic to me, and it tasted heavenly! Immediately I asked him where he found these treasures and I went to the website to check out what other goodies they had, and my tea obsession was born!

Blooming tea in glass teacups
What's the deal with tea anyways? 

In a nutshell, tea contains many beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which provide a number of benefits to the body. For example, a common antioxidant in green, oolong and black tea is called epigallocatechin gallate compound (ECCG) which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, inhibit abnormal formations of blood clots and can lower LDL cholesterol. This is just the tip of the tea iceberg.
Now, there is an actual art to getting the most out of your tea. For starters, it is nice to steep and drink tea in a clear teapot or tea cups. In addition to smelling the aroma, you can see the color of the tea. I also encourage you to try loose leaf tea if you normally use tea bags. Previously, I was not a fan of tea, as it all tasted sour to me. I was known to chug a mug of green tea or two because I heard it was 'good for you' but I never enjoyed it. It turns out that tea bags typically contain smaller tea leaves which gives them a quicker brew, but it lacks the flavor and fullness of larger tea leaves in loose leaf tea. Tea bags can also release more tannins, giving a harsher flavor to the tea.

Tea also is picky with its temperature and steeping time. If the water is too hot or it is steeped for too long, it has the potential to be very sour. There are tables online (or even tea apps for smart phones!) with the different steeping times and temperature for your perfect cup of tea.

Now onto the fun part: an overview of tea types (with benefits) and my personal favorites/recommendations if you're looking for something new to try! 

*Please note: I do not receive any type of compensation from recommending these teas. :)

 Green tea:
  •  is rich in antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer cells
  • can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • inhibits abnormal formations of blood clots (which is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes)
  • has 5-10% of the caffeine content as a cup of coffee
  • is often mixed with flowers or fruits to create different flavors
Personal favorites:
 Black Tea
  • is made from fermented leaves and forms the basis for many other teas (and lots of instant teas)
  • has a relatively high caffeine content
Personal favorites:
Earl Grey Creme Black from Teavana
Cacao Mint Black from Teavana (This was my 'starter' tea... it's great to make a tea latte with!)
Cha Yen Thai Tea from Teavana (Thai iced tea anyone?)
White Tea
  • is uncured and unfermented (It's the least processed.)
  • is light in color, and very delicate in flavor
  • has a relatively low caffeine content
Personal favorite:
Oolong Tea
  • has 15% caffeine of a cup of coffee
  • is fermented
  • is generally considered the "weight loss tea"
  • may aid with metabolism and digestion
  • is best when it's "monkey picked" (Buddhist monks trained monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from the tops of the trees.)
Personal favorite:
 Herbal Infusions
  • are typically caffeine free
  • are an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins
  • consist of herbs, flowers, and fruit
  • is made from a South African red brush
  • is caffeine free
  • supports digestion
  • may support immune system
Personal favorite:
Blueberry Bliss by Teavana (It's even better when mixed with Strawberry Lemonade Herbal.)
  • is considered the 'coffee lover's' favorite tea
  • is made from the leaves of a yerba mate plant
  • contains many vitamins and antioxidants
  • has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee
Personal favorites:
 Blooming Teas
  • bloom as they steep
  • are hand-tied by tea artists and include favor and scent
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of different types of teas, and maybe are even excited to try something new! If you are not fortunate to have access to brick-and-mortar stores selling quality teas, these companies/websites are excellent resources:

Personally, I did not know all of this about tea! I hope you learned as much as I did. :) Have an excellent day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

McDonald's: The Breakfast of Champions?

Well, hello there! 

Today I wanted to share with you a very well-written article by a dear friend and peer, Sue Kemple the The Wellness Wordsmith. It investigates a topic that has been very controversial in the world of nutrition + wellness lately. I haven't personally been keeping up on the Olympics... however, I did happen to observe that McDonald's is one of the biggest sponsors, and this definitely piqued my curiosity
"McDonald's: The Breakfast of Champions"
by Sue Kemple, The Wellness Wordsmith

My first truly memorable Olympic moment is an epic one. Just a few years before the Cold War began to thaw, the Americans were skating their hearts out against the Soviets in arguably the most famous hockey match of all time. I was as tense as if I were watching a Giants game (and anyone who truly knows me knows I have only missed one Giants game since those Olympics, so you can imagine just how tense I was), crouching behind my mother’s rocking chair and peeking over the arm to see if we really could beat those big, bad Russians. When we did, and Al Michaels asked if I believed in miracles, I said it out loud. “Yes, I believe in miracles!”  And my brothers and sister and I jumped up and down as if the Giants had won the Super Bowl. (In our house, the Super Bowl is a much bigger deal than the Olympics. But I digress.)

The next time the Olympics rolled around, I was old enough to compete in them. Not that I was equipped in any other possible way to compete in them, but seeing the likes of Scott Johnson, Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar flying high in the gymnastics competitions inspired me to imagine that if they could do amazing things like flip four times in midair and land on their feet, well then, metaphorically at least, I could too.

The Olympics are intended to bring out the best in us, and especially in our young people. They cause us to take pride in our own nation while celebrating cultures from around the world. They inspire awe and an appreciation for discipline, beauty, and grace. They promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and give kids (and adults) fodder for dreams to achieve excellence. And they have always been a celebration of health and fitness, a model for our youth to appreciate and emulate. So how is it that the games’ major sponsors are some of the worst offenders when it comes to contributing to a decidedly unfit Western world? Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are two of the games’ biggest sponsors – McDonald’s is so big, in fact, that the only French fries you can purchase in the Olympic compound in London are the ones produced by the Golden Arches. (Fries which, as my Chick-Fil-A piece last week pointed out, are just stick-figure shadows of their former potato selves.) It’s not hard to figure out why these companies would choose to sponsor such a huge event. We all know that advertising, bottom line, is designed to get us to open our wallets and spend our money. And to be able to reach a captive audience of billions of people worldwide for the better part of a month is probably worth spending a mere $100 million.

Even better, though, is a platform that gets people to open their wallets again and again over the course of many decades.  You do this best by imprinting your message on impressionable young minds.
Get ‘em while they’re young. Watching the Olympics with our kids is a time honored tradition, because of all the noble and positive things about them. McDonald’s knows the kids will be watching, and it's the company that paved the way for the idea of marketing to children back in the 1960’s. Founder Ray Kroc said, “A child who loves our TV commercials and brings her grandparents to a McDonald’s gives us two more customers.”  Of course, the intent was not just to get the parents on board, but to develop brand loyalty in that child for life. This works best when you start with the children, because they are so easy to persuade. And because even when they are older and able to clearly separate fact from fiction, they are still prone to be driven by deep seated impulses planted many years before. (The Dollar Menu concept, you see, only works when you fork over many dollars, over many years.)

It’s very clear that hooking kids early and often is exactly what McDonald’s does. Ronald McDonald the clown is obviously not designed to bring adults in the door (although clearly, he does – because the adults who eat there were once children). The playgrounds are extremely inviting. The Happy Meal concept, pioneered by McDonald’s, offers toys connected with popular pop figures that appeal to children, often in sets that encourage them to return to collect all the pieces. Birthday parties are made easy at McDonald's, where you can even use their paper products and party goods. McDonald’s pays to have their products featured in children’s films, and on products used in schools, such as notebooks and crayons. This is all well documented, and discussed at great length elsewhere. And all this is bad enough. But when a corporate logo and presence become even more deeply embedded in our subconscious, and in a more subtle way, it can be worse than these sorts of in your face appeals.  I believe that the Olympic sponsorship (which has been going on for many Olympic games now) is really a way to create a very particular impression about the “real” cause of obesity in the minds of all of us, but especially in the minds of our children. And the impression is, "It's not McDonald's fault." Ever since Morgan Spurlock’s “SuperSize Me” debuted nearly ten years ago, McDonald’s has had to deal with the bad publicity surrounding the obvious negative effects that its food has on the human body. Marketing executives work overtime to create the spin that there is a place for this food in a healthy diet, that there are healthier options on the menu, and that McDonald’s really isn’t one of the primary causes of our society’s obesity crisis.

Even better than fighting back about the lack of quality in a product, though, is diverting our attention from it. Put McDonald’s products up there alongside Olympic athletes long and often enough, and okay… maybe as a thinking adult you are too smart to draw the ridiculous conclusion that eating a Big Mac will make you fit. But it just might be possible to have you believe that the solution to dropping those excess pounds doesn’t have anything to do with what you eat, but with the fact that you’re not exercising enough. Just exercise more, and you can eat whatever you want. I find it curious that many adults believe this is true. In fact, I used to be one of them. For most of my adult life, I was significantly overweight, if not obese. I bought into the lie that as long as one is active, it doesn’t matter what food we eat. And there was a long stretch of time when I ate a lot of McDonald’s products, telling myself I’d walk off the calories once I got home.

But that's not how it works at all. Fitness begins with what we eat. I’ve read quite a few articles profiling the breakfasts and other meals of our Olympic champions, and here’s a quick sample of some of the foods that go into the bodies of these remarkable athletes: coconut milk, goji berries, cacao powder, flax seed, acai berries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, spinach, kale, Greek yogurt, bee pollen, honey, grilled chicken, almond butter, raisins, ground flaxmeal, walnuts, kiwi, fish, eggs, steak, carrots, almond milk, edamame, quinoa, green beans, oatmeal, turkey sandwiches on whole grain bread, bagels, salsa, protein shakes, salads, and green smoothies.

The athletes don’t eat these kind of foods by accident. Food - real food - is fuel for our bodies. When we feed ourselves fake food, we don't have the proper fuel to make us want to exercise, or for any attempts at exercise to be particularly effective. It’s a vicious cycle. Exercise isn't supposed to be something we do to undo the bad we've done, like eating foods on the athletes’ “avoid” lists: refined sugars, mayonnaise, processed foods, packaged foods, and fast food. You know, basically everything you’d find at McDonald’s.  

Exercise is meant to be what our bodies want to do, when we feed them the right foods. While most of us adults consciously get the message that there is no clear connection between fast food and athletic success, subliminal messages are harder to quantify. It’s easy for otherwise very intelligent adults to make the inference that, well, THAT guy looks great, and he’s eating a Big Mac. If it doesn’t hurt him, maybe if I just go play some basketball, it won’t hurt me… much.And if adult brains can rationalize these things, imagine what havoc these images wreak on the brains of our children – especially a child under the age of 8, who isn’t able to make clear delineations between fact and fiction. He just may come away thinking that a French fry is a nutrient rich potato, a healthy carb that will help bring his dreams of Olympic glory to life. As long as he gets off the couch and works out, too.

Consciously, I can’t remember as a child viewing a McDonald’s ad with a positive image of Olympic greatness. But I’m certain that somewhere, mixed in with Mary Lou Retton’s gold medals and our Cold War victory, I was led to believe that it’s not what we eat, but rather how we move, that matters.
I can only hope our young people today somehow filter that part out, and focus instead on striving for excellence – in physical pursuits, mental pursuits, and what they choose to put in their bodies.

About Sue
Sue obtained her certification as a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has also studied at Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts and is the founder of the North Carolina Center for Arts in Education, an online think tank for educational revolution. The author of The Simple Path to a Vibrant Life, Five Principles That Make for Healthy Principals, and And We Danced; Lament for a Brother, Sue is currently working on several forthcoming books as co-author or ghostwriter. She and her family live a rich, happy, and healthy life in Raleigh, North Carolina.


I hope you have an excellent day!