Food Safety

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EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce 2014

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Every year, the Environmental Working Group publishes its rating of conventional foods with the most and least pesticide residues.

To see the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for 2014, visit EWG.org.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2014 – the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues – are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

A few highlights:

Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.

The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.

A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
 
Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.

Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.

Leafy greens – kale and collard greens – and hot peppers do not meet traditional Dirty Dozen ranking criteria but were frequently contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. EWG recommends that people who eat a lot of these foods buy organic instead.

Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

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One Multinational Grocery Retailer Just Made a Moral Decision to Put Health Before Profits

Watchdog rules Tesco ad misleading

Something revolutionary happened last week and you probably didn’t hear about it. Tesco, a multinational grocery retailer — the second largest in the world — made a moral decision to protect its customers that guaranteed it would lose money. A supermarket behemoth with over six thousand stores, Tesco made an across the board business decision to move all the candy from its checkout counters. Wow.

“We all know how easy it is to be tempted by sugary snacks at the checkout, and we want to help our customers lead healthier lives,” said chief exec Philip Clarke. “We’re doing this now because our customers have told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts will help them make healthier choices.”

While consumers have been lulled into something of a food fog, junk food and beverage companies have a very clear agenda. They’re on a decades long mission to fill your every site line with addictive, sugary products because their market research shows that just seeing these items will trigger a response in your brain that will result in a impulse purchase. As Dr. David Kessler describes in the new film FED UP, these items “literally hijack your brain.” More poignantly, twelve year-old Wesley from FED UP tells us, “you see it, you want it.”

The candy and junk food lining the register is making us sick, it’s undermining the health of the entire country. Its rendering young adults unfit for military service, it’s clogging our hospitals, it’s infecting children with serious adult diseases.

Which brings us back to companies like Tesco and Canada’s Indigo Books – both of which are changing their business models to protect the health of their customers. Heather Reisman, the owner of Indigo Books served as an executive producer on FED UP and after watching several cuts, she made an executive decision to remove all the confections from the cash registers of her 300 bookstores. Tesco and Indigo acknowledge a responsibility to their customer that goes beyond the one transaction. CVS, America’s largest drugstore chain seemed to be thinking along these lines too when it announced it would stop selling cigarettes citing its commitment to public health. That plan was rightfully praised, but a stroll through any CVS will reveal the much larger health threat is the massive amount of candy, chips and soda prominently displayed down every aisle of its drugstores.

Not all calories are created equal and the calories at the cash register are some of the worst. Dr. David S. Ludwig, Professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and a Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health published a report just two weeks ago in the peer respected journal, JAMA, making the strongest scientific argument yet for why all calories are not equal, which is the foundational argument of FED UP. Arguing that all calories are the same has become a mantra for food and beverage companies. Coke spent millions last year on TV commercials selling the idea: “A calorie is a calorie, so make some of yours a coke!” That was their heartfelt contribution to helping solve America’s obesity epidemic.

As Tesco and Indigo Books lead the way, it’s a bold challenge to all the CEOs of retail businesses everywhere that carry candy, chips and other junk at their cash register, to consider your responsibility to the customer, to children, and weigh your conscious against your quarterly profits. Don’t be the last company to do the right thing. The world needs leadership in the fight against obesity, and your leadership can save lives.

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Changing the Way You Look at Food

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Pam Banks of ChopChop praises the new documentary “Fed Up” for opening her eyes about the food we eat:

“The film has changed the way I look at food and has positively changed the way I eat. Previously, my family and I were eating a lot of sugar, much of which was hidden in the food we were consuming, without realizing it. I have committed to cutting sugar out of my diet as much as possible. … I see FED UP as an important educational tool and hope everyone goes out to see it.”

Read “How FED UP Changed the Way I Look at Food”.

If you haven’t yet seen “Fed Up,” please go see it this holiday weekend with your family. Check theater listings here.

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More Sugar in Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

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National Public Health Week Kicks Off with Focus on Children’s Health

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Monday, April 7th marks the beginning of the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) National Public Health Week. This year, the APHA will encourage its 50,000 members and many organizational partners to take a close look at a few key areas of public health via daily themes, starting with child health.

Monday’s theme is “Be Healthy from the Start.” Because good nutrition is so essential to child development and the prevention of childhood obesity, the APHA has recommended that public health professionals take the opportunity to encourage parents and childcare providers to engage children in healthy eating behaviors.

The Monday Campaigns’ Kids Cook Monday, founded on the concept that healthy eating behaviors start with learning basic nutrition knowledge and cooking skills in the home, is lending support by offering a new resource, the Family Dinner Date newsletter.

Each Family Dinner Date newsletter will package a family-friendly recipe and educational items such as how-to cooking videos, fun facts about the recipe’s cuisine, and informative nutrition worksheets for kids. Parents will receive the recipe package on Fridays to allow for time to shop for ingredients over the weekend and start building excitement about their upcoming Monday night experience.

For more, visit TheKidsCookMonday.org.

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