Category Archives: Health

World Food Day: Support Agricultural Cooperatives in the Fight against Hunger

Some one billion people belong to cooperatives in nearly 100 countries worldwide guarding consumers, producers, and workers against hunger, bankruptcy, and rights abuses. How does belonging to a cooperative fight against these things? Agricultural cooperatives help farmers get fair prices for their goods, and participate in local decision making. Today is World Food Day. If you buy from Nature’s Garden Express, you already support local businesses, farmers and the environment. Read on to find out how you can participate  in ending hunger.

Agricultural cooperatives are part of a larger movement to make food more environmentally and socially just and sustainable. Agroecological practices enrich soils, improve yields, increase incomes, and support the people, animals, plants, and entire ecosystems affected by agriculture.

An infographic released recently by the Christensen Fund highlights how industrial agricultural practices like meat from factory farms, the addition of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to fields, and shipping food to markets across the globe—-contributes to increased incidences of diseases and severe air and water pollution.

In contrast, the practice of buying local, preserving wildlife habitats and composting can build resilience to climate change, increase nutritional and biological diversity, and increase agricultural yields over the long term.

“Agricultural cooperatives and agroecological practices go hand-in-hand to support a more sustainable food system,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project. “By encouraging worker empowerment, farmer training, and consumer awareness, this year’s World Food Day theme is showcasing one of the most promising elements of a more sustainable food system.”

World Food Day is a global day of action against hunger. FAO suggests a variety of ways you can become involved. Here are some things you can do any day of the year to help end hunger.

  • Host a World Food Day meal: As part of its GROW Method, OxfamAmerica promotes 5 very simple actions to help create a better food system: save food, eat seasonally and locally, eat less meat and dairy, support small farmers, and cook smart (if you buy from us you already do most of these).
  • Join your local hunger coalition: The Alliance to End Hunger has created the Hunger Free Communities Network, an online platform for coalitions, campaigns, and individuals committed to ending hunger in their local communities.
  • Activate a school campus: Why Care? is a student-led campaign of Universities Fighting World Hunger to spark a global conversation about hunger and to build momentum to World Food Day campus events. The campaign offers several simple suggestions on how to spread the word about world hunger on a campus.
  • Arrange a food and fund drive: the World Food Day website can help you find your nearby food bank or pantry, and gives tips on donating food or funds to maximize your positive impact.

Genetically Engineered Foods: The Fight to NOT Labeling

Major players in the organic food market have been conspicuously silent in what has become the food fight of the decade. This November, voters in California will have the opportunity to approve a ballot initiative (Proposition 37) that would require the labeling of all food products containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, commonly called GMOs.

As expected, major agribusiness and biotechnology corporations, like Monsanto, and food manufacturers, like Pepsico, General Mills, Dean Foods, and Kellogg are spending tens of millions of dollars ($23.5 to be specific) in their effort to deny the consumer’s right-to-know what they are eating. Monsanto alone has donated $4.2 million, while food giants Pepsico and Coca-Cola have each donated more than $1 million.

“Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Hain-Celestial and Trader Joe’s are among the biggest manufacturers and retailers of organic food in the country, yet they have been AWOL during this epic food fight,” says Mark Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm and food policy research group. “These companies should be proud to stand with their health and food conscious customers and join their efforts for the right-to-know what we are putting in our mouths and feeding our children,” Kastel added.

“There’s been speculation that because some of these company’s leaders have close relationships with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a proponent of genetically engineered foods, and others in the Obama administration, that they are sitting on their hands” Kastel notes.

It is ironic that independantly owned businesses that supply organics have donated money in favor of labeling such products, but the large companies that sell their products like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have not. Mandatory labeling of GE food ingredients is required in the European Union and dozens of other countries across the globe. Where in place, it has led to broad consumer avoidance of foods made with inputs from the biotechnology industry. The most recent polling from California indicated that almost 70% of the population supports labeling of GE ingredients. This level of support will soon be tested by an impending flood of advertisements, financed by Monsanto and the giant food lobby, in opposition to Proposition 37.

With stock prices at all time highs for some of the organic food retailers, lack of funds can hardly be blamed for lack of support for this labeling. “Hiding the truth about our food is pervasive, unethical, and only done for money,” says Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, an organic food manufacturer that financially contributed to support Proposition 37. The bottom lines is consumers have a right to know what they are buying and ultimately putting in their mouths. Let’s do all we can to support the law that Genetically Engineered Foods get labeled.

McDonald’s Low Calorie Options

I was listening to Clark Howard last week as I often do. He’s extremely brilliant about saving money and offers invaluable tips for meeting your money saving goals. One thing he mentioned on his show was the fact that McDonald’s will be displaying their calorie content on their in-store menus. He applauded McDonald’s for the fact that many of their items are low-calorie and they are now evening coming out with more low calorie options.

He mentioned their Egg McMuffin and Filet-of-Fish where are both right around 300 calories. Not bad for fast food. Clark Howard even mentioned that McDonald’s would be coming out with an even lower calorie Egg McMuffin. This egg white only sandwich would be even lower in calories than the original.

While I admire Clark Howard, and do believe low calorie is a good idea in general, let’s remember that this is McDonald’s. Just because something is low calorie that doesn’t mean it is good for us. It would be interesting to see exactly what is put into these foods. Filler, extenders and sugars are probably added to make products taste better.

Of course, we aren’t just picking on McDonald’s. They, like other fast food establishments, are about making money. Just remember there is no substitute for eating fresh, produce and getting a large source of your daily caloric intake from fruits and vegetables rather than processed food. Hopefully McDonalds’ adding calorie counts on their in-store menus will help consumers to make better eating choices.

Dangerous Chemicals Added to ORGANIC Baby Food

Infant formula manufacturers are adding two synthetic preservatives to certified organic infant formula. According to the Organic Foods Production Act, this is banned. Critics argue that this is another case of the our government putting big corporations above the health of its people.

The preservatives are beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate, synthetics that are added to infant formula to prevent the oxidation and rancidity of ingredients such as the controversial patented supplements DHA and ARA, manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation and marketed as Life’sDHA®.

Opponents say, pharmaceutical companies and agribusinesses that manufacture infant formula, have quietly added to organic formula the same synthetic ingredients that they use in their conventional versions without first seeking the legally required approval for use.

According to The Cornucopia Institute, there have been more than a dozen unapproved synthetic ingredients that have been added to organic infant formula over the past five years. The public interest group has filed numerous legal complaints with the USDA, asking for removal of unapproved synthetic ingredients like the DHA algal oil and ARA fungal oils, manufactured by Martek.

While the USDA has admitted publicly that these synthetics were added to organics due to an erroneous interpretation by previous USDA leadership, the agency, after being pressured by industry, has refused to take enforcement action and pull the suspect products from store shelves. Take action and write your congressmen and politicians to ensure that this doesn’t continue to go on.