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Posts tagged ‘organic’

What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance

This is a snippit of an article I read today, I can’t say it better:

“All Natural”

As businesses compete for eyeballs at the grocery store, they increasingly rely on aggressive marketing practices to entice shoppers to open their wallets. Food makers are especially prone to over-exaggerating nutritional benefits of their products for a simple reason — people are willing to shell out big bucks for it. The natural and organics food business brought in $81.3 billion in 2012, up 14% from the year before.

The problem is that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture actively polices “organic” claims on food labels, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t gotten around to clearly defining the term “natural.” As a result, food makers are free to slap the label on their products, but consumers can’t be sure the food is actually “from nature” as claimed. Arguably, any food, no matter what garden or local greenhouse it came from, is “processed” the minute it’s put in a box and shipped to stores.

It’s not that these foods are inherently unhealthy, but the fact that they’re often being sold at a premium and marketed as “better than” other alternatives is what irks regulators and consumers alike.

If you want truly natural foods, your best bet is to look for “100% organic” labels. By law, organic means foods weren’t made using pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients. But make sure to look for “100%” on the label — the USDA allows products to be labeled organic even if they aren’t entirely made using organic ingredients.

If you’re just worried about eating overly processed foods, the folks at EatRight.org have a nice set of guidelines on what ingredients to keep an eye out for on food labels.

“Weight loss fads”

The $61 billion weight-loss industry is also rife with opportunities for marketers to over-promote the “fat-blasting” power of certain products — from vitamins and supplements to exercise equipment and so-called “fitness-wear.” In January, the FTC fined a handful of health and beauty companies — including L’Occitane and Sensa — $34 million for allegedly making false weight-loss claims about products such as slimming body lotions and powdered food that was supposed to make people eat less.

If a weight-loss product promises it makes losing weight “quick, easy and effortless!” chances are it’s a sham. Anyone who’s ever killed themselves on the treadmill to shed a pound a week will tell you there are only two ingredients needed for weight loss: sweat and discipline, both of which are free.

The FTC cautions against trusting “before and after” photos in ads as well, as there’s no easy way to prove their legitimacy. See its guidance on “Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads” before buying into any weight loss product sales pitch. They also have a good Health & Fitness buying guides with tips on how to spot misleading advertising.

“Privacy”

For Snapchat, which has attracted millions of users based on its promise that the photo messages they send “disappear forever” and that their information wasn’t being collected, the FTC’s ruling is particularly jarring.

We could write volumes on the issue of consumer privacy in the age of Big Data (and we have). In a nutshell, we’d take any company’s promises to keep your personal data completely private with a large grain of salt.

If you carry a smartphone, chances are at least some of your apps are tracking you in some way. You should take time to adjust your privacy settings in each app by tapping into your phone’s privacy settings. The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, which allows them to tailor ads to you based on your browsing history, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself. To do so, tap your “settings” icon, scroll down to ‘privacy’ and find the tab labeled ‘advertising’. Turn ‘limit ad tracking’ on.

via What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance.

Natural and Healthy

Is natural healthy and vice versa?

I’m really bothered by almond milk, and milk substitutes in general. After reading up on almond milk, it bothers me less than it did, but it still seems silly. It is almonds ground with water, then strained. If you love milk and can’t drink it, why switch to a substitute, as there is lactose free milk? As far as lactose free not being natural, it’s no more unnatural than grinding nuts with added ingredients. Commercial almond milk has added calcium, vitamin a and vitamin d added to make it more compatible to cow’s milk, as well as carrageenan and sugar. Almond milk has little protein. One website claimed it was a good source, with 1 g of protein. Then bread is a fantastic source with 4-6 g! I used to drink soy milk, but all the concerns about the phyto estrogens, and the thought that it was every bit of a processed food as milk, I just take lactaid and drink low fat milk.

Are milk substitutes natural? What is natural? How much processing can still be natural? More importantly, should we care, as long as it’s healthy?

I just “processed” milk by making yogurt. I took the whey and “processed” grain with it by soaking it overnight. I did both to make healthier foods. My vegetables are cooked with added ingredients, even my homegrown kale is dried and ground for convenient storage, or blanched and frozen. Unless you are eating raw meat and fresh vegetables from your garden, you are eating processed food. The question is, what is that processing doing, and what role is that food fulfilling? We have to process foods to store them, otherwise they’ll rot.

james-herriot-2-all-things-bright-and-beautifulI’m not an organic fanatic by the same reasoning. I believe our modern interventions make for much healthier animals. I grew up reading James Herriots books, he was a vet around WWII, and he talks about how many animals died because they could do nothing to help them. When they discovered sulfa drugs, and later antibiotics, many animals were saved. Should we throw out the ability to save an animal’s life simply because we’ve gone overboard and given them on a daily basis? There has to be a happy medium between doing nothing and dumping chemicals on everything. I’ve seen pictures of what “fly strike” can do to sheep, and I wouldn’t stand by while the animal suffered that.

There are those who believe that there are “natural” solutions. Vinegar. Is that natural? Does vinegar occur in nature, at a consistent 5% acidity? If we extract the nicotine from the tobacco plant to kill bugs, is that “natural”? So is what we really mean “safer”? I think most people equate natural with safe, but I contend arsenic and cyanide are natural. So are snake venom and poisonous plants. I think we need to really think about things on an individual basis, rather than have blanket rules.

What do you think? What sort of lines do you draw? How hard is it to decide what to worry about?

Seriously? Organic isn’t better?

A study was published in the Annals of Internal medicine has everyone talking, since it purports to show that organic isn’t healthier. I found the original article here but it is only the study summary. One thing to note about summaries, is that they are the author’s conclusions. You can draw different conclusions from the same information. every article I’ve read has taken the authors conclusions to heart without any analysis.

rebuttal:

  1. Organic isn’t more nutritious- I never thought it was. All the arguments about “depleted soil” and “our food isn’t as nutritious as what are ancestors ate.” are bunk too. Most of the nutrients we get from plants are created by the plant from sunlight, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and trace amounts of minerals and chemicals in the soil.
  2. Organic isn’t significantly lower in pesticides- I’ll rebutt that in their own words:

Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small.

Less pesticides in your kids isn’t better???

What did they just say? They found less pesticides in the urine of children fed organic food. How is that not better? They found the risk of being contaminated with pesticide residue smaller in organic. However, on the bright side, even your pesticide user has no greater risk of exceeding the maximum allowed limit. So which is better? We have an allowed limit of pesticide contamination, and whether you eat organic or not, you don’t have a high risk of exceeding the allowed limit. If you show me two peaches, one has 5 parts per million of a chemical, and one has 25 parts, I’ll take the lower one, thank you. We also have a government set limit of rat feces in canned food. I’ll take the uncontaminated one, if you please. The government limits are set by politicians, who have to balance the risk to people with the economic needs of farmers and chemical companies. They have to compromise, you and I don’t.
3. Organic didn’t lower rates of allergy symptoms. – Is someone claiming it does?

4. Organic had lower rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria, although no better rate of avoiding bacterial contamination. -Not promoting antibiotic resistant bacteria isn’t a good goal?

Never say never.

I’m a realist, I’m not an ideologue. I may even use some chemicals, at some point, in my own garden. If a farmer is going to lose his whole crop to army caterpillars or some other pest, I can’t always say never, under any circumstances do anything. We have almost 10 billion people to feed, we need to consider that. However, I think avoiding chemicals whenever possible is a good thing. My overriding philosophy is the Law of Unintended Consequences, that we just don’t know the ramifications of everything we do until it is too late. We have been conducting a chemistry experiment on ourselves for the last 100 years, and we won’t know all the ramifications for the next 100. Why not err on the side of caution and proceed slowly? I’ve been hearing so much lately about the rise in autism, how do we know that isn’t a by product of this grand chemical cocktail we’ve been consuming?

spraying pesticides from the air.

It goes where the wind blows.

Not 100% pesticide free.

One last point- the study said that organic produce isn’t guaranteed to be pesticide free. True, If I spray pesticides, they aren’t just going to land in my field. Also, everyone isn’t always honest. However I still say we should at least try. Humans are heard animals- when a trend goes a certain direction, we all head that way. The organic and slow food movements are at least keeping the heard milling about, rather than stampeding towards an unknown future of chemically created foods. Lets think more than once before spraying substances that kill life and then eating those substances. We depend on our gut bacteria for our health and we are eating chemicals that could kill them, or change them into something that is not beneficial. Now there’s a scary thought!

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