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Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

Fair trade, organic diet – better?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I blogged about the health halo effect a while back using information from Brian Wansink’s studies at Subway and McDonald’s*. Bottom line: He asked diners at both fast food joints to guess how many calories were in their fare – the Subway group thought they ate fewer calories because they held the opinion that Subway is healthier (Jared’s doing). They didn’t factor in all the extras and add-in’s like mayo and cheese. And they ate WAY MORE than they thought.

Another recent study in NYC found that the addition of ‘trans-fat free crackers,’ that added 100 calories to the overall intake, led diners to guess that meal was lower by nearly 200 calories. It wasn’t.

Interesting to see in the Boston Globe today that people naturally assume fair trade chocolate (‘fair trade’ allowing us the comfort that the company treats its cocoa farmers well) is lower in calories and meant to be eaten often. Now, chocolate has it’s nutritional and health benefits but the words ‘fair trade’ have nothing to do with them.

Other foods of interest, that is, consumers eating more and more and more of these because of the halo effect are avocado, olive oil, nuts, wine, fruit juice and chocolate. All that have amazing and glorious health effects in moderation.

Notable Note:  Beware of the health halo effect. “Organic,” “fair trade,” “no trans-fat,” “light,” “fat-free,” “heart-healthy” are all terms that connote health and sometimes are true but not always. When the rubber meets the road, an organic jelly bean is, after all, just sugar. And if you bought fair trade coffee at your favorite coffee shop, it doesn’t mean if a little is good, a lot is way better. We can choose more wisely if we don’t place such a high value on marketing terms and perceived health.

*Brian Wansink PhD is Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Which yolk for you?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

If you’re like many consumers looking for better health through nutrition, you’re wondering about the hubbub of eating local. Is local fare really that much better tasting and healthier?  And the cost? Local eggs can be double, even triple, over store bought eggs (one local farm near me charges $6 a dozen and note, these chickens do not eat organic feed).

I did a test.  I broke 2 eggs into a bowl — one from a local Rhode Island organic egg farmer and the other from Organic Valley (bought at Whole Foods).

Take a guess.  Which egg yolk in the picture is from a local farm?  Which one is cage-free, organic?  If you guessed the one on the left is local, you’re right – you could probably tell from that brilliantly orange yolk and firm and tight white.  If you guessed the egg on the right is cage-free and organic, you’re right!

For me, fresh taste and good nutrition reign paramount.  Even if I have to pay a little bit more. After all, eggs are such a treat.



Dirty Dozen Updated – Organic or Bust!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesiticides, a free app for your iPhone, at http://www.ewg.org.

Here are the new Dirty Dozen and 15 foods that don’t have to be organic. (more…)

Nutrition – From the Ground Up

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

What the heck does Nutrition From the Ground Up, the theme for National Nutrition month 2010, mean really? Thinking cap on, light bulb flickering, aha!

Sustainable, whole, real, clean, green, organic, natural, fresh, simple, local, slow, functional, homemade, carbon footprint – these are a few words popping into my head when I think ‘ground up’ for food. And fun…..eating should be joyful with meals abundant in vital and energetic offerings.

Americans struggle to find balance and health in food. Most don’t meet the dietary guideline recommendations at all! To do so, for starters, we need to eat 80% more fruits and and 37% more vegetables (Agricultural Economics, 2007;37(2-3):249). Let’s get started there for ideas! (more…)

The Dirty Dozen

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Debates over organic supremacy reign strong among nutritionists and health care professionals. I, for one, approve the organic lifestyle – let’s just pretend that organic produce really isn’t healthier. Could the placebo effect be present here? If I THINK it’s healthier, is it?

Whether or not you make the buy-in, there is definite agreement that 12 fruits and veggies are best purchased organically because their skins are so think, pesticides and fertilizers seep into the flesh inside. Here’s the list:

ApplesFruits Organic
Grapes (imported)
Sweet bell peppers

Reduce the Risk:
Wash and scrub all fresh vegetables and fruits under running water. Using a veggie wash is not more effective than running water.
Peel fruits and veggies when possible – especially those peels you usually don’t eat.
Toss out outer leaves of green leafy plants.