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Is There a Downside to the Organic and Local Food Movements?

By Matt Brignall
September 24, 2011
File under: Diet, Natural Health, Nutrition, Sustainable Food

A provocative new article in the magazine Foreign Policy suggests that the local foods and organic movements are hurting the world’s poorest populations through their misplaced fetishes (his word, not mine).

The argument behind the controversial thesis is multifaceted, and lumps together discussions that probably have no business in the same conversation - transportation costs, GMOs, and seasonal eating are all important discussions, and deserve a longer discussion than a paragraph each before being cursorily swept aside. So, I guess as a nutrition educator, I’m not a huge fan of the article. But there were a couple of things about it that really caught my eye.

First, I think this is another sign of a growing backlash against the natural foods movement. I’ve seen this coming for a while, but it’s really gathered steam over the past year or two. At first, this felt like a sort of natural response to the evangelical excesses of portions of the health food community. …read more of Is There a Downside to the Organic and Local Food Movements? here

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Saltwater Chicken?

By Matt Brignall
August 1, 2011
File under: Diet, Natural Health, Nutrition, Sustainable Food


Did you know that store-bought chicken breasts are likely to have been injected with salt-water solution to increase their weight? If not, the food industry has done their job of keeping this practice under the radar. Fortunately, that is about to change.

…read more of Saltwater Chicken? here

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A New Life For an Old Idea

By Matt Brignall
July 5, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition, Sustainable Food, Uncategorized


In the same way that a broken watch is right twice a day, every once in a while the nutrition beliefs of the natural health community and the academic community line up in unexpected ways. This is the case with the reanimated recommendation of Meatless Monday.

The concept of a Meatless Monday as a means of conserving scarce resources is nearly 100 years old. It was developed in response to food shortages during World War I, and was revived during World War II. But once peacetime rolled around, the programs were placed in the same mothballs as the Send Over Smokes program and the Liberty Bond.

In 2003, as part of the Healthy Monday series of campaigns, the guy responsible for the advertising catch-phrase “don’t squeeze the Charmin” revived the Meatless Monday program. …read more of A New Life For an Old Idea here

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Want to Make a Difference? Here’s Your Chance!

By Matt Brignall
May 3, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Nutrition, Sustainable Food


Yesterday, a working group comprised of representatives from four federal agencies released a call for commentary on a proposed new set of limitations on food advertising aimed at children aged 2 to 17. The group included representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This new guideline asks that foods marketed on to children meet two standards. The first is that foods should contain more than 50% by weight of one or more of the food groups (meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable). This may not sound like much – why only 50%? – but it will eliminate a number of pretty nutrient-free snacks and beverages.

The second standard establishes upper limits for content of saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugars in foods marketed toward children. These guidelines would make it difficult for most any fast food establishment, for instance, to meet without making some pretty significant recipe changes. …read more of Want to Make a Difference? Here’s Your Chance! here

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Do Environmental Chemicals Disturb Hormone Signaling in Women?

By Matt Brignall
April 1, 2011
File under: Diet, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Sustainable Food


Two new studies published in the past month suggest that ubiquitous environmental chemicals can disrupt important hormonal signaling in women. These two studies serve to reinforce a belief that estrogen-like chemicals in the food chain can have relevant effects to human health.

In the first of these two studies, the authors found higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in 71 women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) compared to women without the condition. Importantly, the researchers controlled for the effects of obesity in their research, as BPA can store in fat cells.

BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics, and human exposure is widespread. It can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, leading to a hormone-like effect. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this new research is …read more of Do Environmental Chemicals Disturb Hormone Signaling in Women? here

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Dietary Mercury Exposure Is Not a Risk for Heart Attack

By Matt Brignall
March 28, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Sustainable Food


According to a new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, people with higher levels of mercury in their body did not have an increased risk for heart attack, compared to people with lower mercury levels. This major study confirms the results of multiple smaller clinical trials.

In this new report, the authors compared the toenail concentrations of mercury of 3400 men and women who had a history of heart attack or other heart disease to 3400 similar people with no heart disease history. The samples were taken as part of two major surveys of American healthcare professionals. There was a moderate, but significant, trend toward lower cardiovascular disease risk as the mercury levels went up.

The authors clarify that they do not believe that their research found a previously unknown protective effect from mercury exposure. Instead, the lower risk seen at the highest levels of exposure is likely to be demonstrating the protective effect of dietary fish. …read more of Dietary Mercury Exposure Is Not a Risk for Heart Attack here

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