Recent reads about food, farming, and health

Local Foods: From Fad To Force And What It Means For The Food Industry

“The trend has gone viral, as consumers are voting ‘local’ with their dollars and having a profound influence on the nation’s food systems. Their enthusiasm has led suppliers, grocers and restaurants to change and adapt by adding locally produced goods to their offerings year-round.”

What you need to know about P90X, Insanity, Weight Watchers, Shakeology, Cleanses, and Nutrisystem

A quick comparison of the trendy quick-fix diet/fitness products–what works and what doesn’t.

Local to the extreme: This project puts the farm right in the grocery store

“Three days a week in downtown Raleigh, N.C., fans of fresh fruits and veggies can pick up their local tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, potatoes, squash, and blackberries inside a 200-square-foot shipping container… In the 8,000-square-foot, scaled-up version, Greene imagines an open bottom floor that would hold the main grocery and a café for selling drinks and deli meats. Above that, eight shipping containers supported by beams and equipped with side panels for growing herbs and greens, nourished by what Greene calls the “Living River Growing System” — a raceway tank that looks and acts like a stream, filtering and channeling nutrient-filled water to the seven-foot-high growing panels. On top of all this would sit a greenhouse roof.”

These maps show where all the world’s cattle, chickens, and pigs are

“The Earth currently has 19.6 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, and 980 million pigs. If you added up all the world’s livestock, they’d weigh more than humans and all other wild animals combined….These maps are useful for tracking the environmental impact of ever-expanding livestock production as well as keeping tabs on the potential spread of disease like avian flu.”

Widespread impacts of neonicotinoids ‘impossible to deny’

“The scientists say the threat to nature is the same as that once posed by the notorious chemical DDT.” Neonicotinoids could be poisoning bees, and aquatic invertebrates, which are the basis of many food chains. Their use in a prophylactic way is compared to antibiotics abuse in farm animals.

Why the locavore movement’s next big move is seafood

“Something like 86 percent of America’s seafood intake is imported (most of that is farmed), while we send away most of our own wild-caught fish.”

“We eat more shrimp than almost the next two most popular seafoods combined (salmon and canned tuna)”

“[Alaska] by far produces more seafood than any other state, probably by an order of magnitude.”

“I was trying to figure out if there was a Michael Pollan-esque line like ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ The best I could come up with was: ‘Eat American seafood, a much wider variety than we currently do, mostly filter feeders.'”

16 Things That Affect Your Gut Bacteria

Foods (red wine! dark chocolate!), sunshine, exercise, antibiotics, probiotics, Roundup (in GMO soy and corn and CAFO animal products), smoking, time, dirt

What exactly is deli meat?

The fact that “real turkey breast” is a selling point that needs to be advertised gave me pause: what is turkey breast usually made from, if it’s not real turkey? What about other deli meats?

According to an MSNBC article on deli meats, there are three types: whole animal sections that are cooked and then sliced (examples: roast beef, corned beef, turkey breast), sectioned and formed products (example: ham), and processed products (example: bologna).

The first category of meat, whole cuts, is just meat–often with added salt or sugar, and preservatives, as the large surface area needs more protection from bacteria. This type of cold cut is presumably what the cafe above is advertising.

From here the water gets murkier. The second category of deli meats, sectioned and formed, is made from chunks of meat bonded together with proteins, meat emulsions, or non-meat additives, then molded and cooked to shaped it into its new form.

But most cold cuts fall into the third category: processed meats. The technique is similar to that for section and formed meats, but more extreme: the meat is essentially turned into a mush, mixed with additives (sometimes including possible carcinogens, such as nitrates; non-meat animal parts, such as lips, tripe, stomachs and hearts; or MSG), squeezed into a casing ala sausage, and cooked into shape.

The MSNBC article lists and defines many cold cut additives. Yum.

This article lists 15 things you should know about lunch meat.

So, to summarize, and perhaps you’ve heard me say this before: know where (and what!) your food comes from! Read labels and eat real food.