Monthly Archives: July 2011

Meatless Mondays Better for the Environment?

meat likes to share a variety of food and nutrition-related topics with our followers. As of recently, we’ve been hearing more about “meatless Mondays”, along with a campaign to help promote this new trend. Here is some more information pertaining to this subject:

If every American skipped meat and cheese one day a week, environmentally it would be the same as the country driving 91 billion fewer miles a year. That’s the figure calculated by the Environmental Working Group, which in a report out today urges the nation to eat less meat and cheese, both for health and the environment.

The call joins a growing movement advocating once-a-week meat-free meals, from an International Meatless Monday campaign and a European Veggie Days movement to decisions by some Catholic bishops to suggest a return to the no-meat Fridays of old.

The EWG report is the most recent in a long list calculating the greenhouse gases emitted in food production.

Lamb, which makes up only 1% of the meat Americans consume, came in highest, at 39.2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per pound of meat. Beef was second, at 27.

Cheese was third, at 13.5. That’s much higher than milk, because “it takes about 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese,” says Kari Hamerschlag, who wrote the report.

Frank Mitloehner, who studies animal-environmental interactions at the University of California-Davis, disputes the numbers. Scientific life cycle assessments of meat production “haven’t been conducted,” he says.

The Environmental Protection Agency says only 3.4% of all greenhouse gases are the result of animal agriculture. “By changing the focus to eating habits, people think it doesn’t matter whether they drive a Hummer or a Prius, it’s whether they eat a burger or not.”

Hamerschlag says the group is not asking everyone to be vegetarians. “We’re just urging people to be more conscious about what they eat.”

Kay Johnson Smith of the Animal Agriculture Alliance in Arlington, Va., says there’s a “hidden animal-activist” agenda behind some of the groups.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, says dropping meat and cheese a day a week wouldn’t hurt: “I’m not a vegetarian myself, but people don’t need to eat as much meat as they’re eating.”

(By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY)

GMO Labeling

2011-001-26-tomato likes to provide followers with consistent updates on GMO production. We recently came across this article that we think will help educate those unfamiliar with genetic modification; and also update others on the labeling issue still going on.

Silk Soymilk and some of its other beverages recently completed the verification process of the Non-GMO Project. Why the careful wording? Given the ubiquity of genetically modified organisms in some U.S. commodity crops — 93 percent of soybeans grown in the United State are genetically modified according to Craig Shiesley of Silk — no product is able to call itself completely free of GMOs. However, Silk and some other companies, such as Whole Foods with its 365 products, have sought to do is to get as close as possible, using a certification process from the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which holds products to a standard of 99.1 percent GMO free.

Shiesley, general manager of the Silk business, says the verification process for the company’s soymilk, coconut milk and almond milk took 12 to 14 months, a surprise for the company, which had always sourced non-GMO ingredients.

“The reason (the verification process) elevates this to another level if that it goes from verifying the ingredient to verifying the entire process,” Shiesley says. “For example, (it verifies) that there’s no cross contamination in the dehullers.”
GMO in the food supply

Currently labeling for GMOs is not required in the United States, as it is in European Union countries and Japan. The percentage of U.S. processed foods that include at least one genetically engineered food is estimated at about 60 to 70 percent, according to a 2010 fact sheet from Colorado State University. Even foods labeled as natural, a term that has no legal meaning, may contain genetically engineered crops; however, USDA certified organic foods forbid GMOs.

Do GMOs matter?

The answer depends on whom you talk to. Companies such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer that supply genetically engineered seed, say the crops, often engineered to be resistant to herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup, are nutritionally identical to non-modified crops. The U.S Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration agree with this position. They say the engineering allows them to grow crops more efficiently and with fewer, less toxic pesticides.

Opponents say the effects on human health and the environment have not been fully tested. They fear genetic modification may be involved in an increase in food allergies and other problems, and they say weeds may become resistant to herbicides, requiring more toxic herbicides to kill them.


In addition, they argue that a U.S. decision not to require products with GMOs to be labeled has kept consumers in the dark about how deeply genetically-engineered crops reach into the food chain. Surveys have shown that many consumers don’t know that they regularly consume genetically engineered foods. For retailers with a consciousness about food and how it’s produced, the lack of labeling means they have no way to verify GMOs in products unless the items are certified organic.
Mark Retzloff, president and chairman of Alfalfa’s, says the grocery has worked hard to verify that the canola and other oils in its bulk dispensers are not from made from genetically modified seed crops. The store has verified that the dairy products it stocks are from cows not dosed with hormones. However, unless the product is certified organic or has the new Non-GMO label, the store can’t verify if cows have been fed genetically-modifed grain. He is particularly concerned about genetically modified alfalfa, which the U.S. approved for use earlier this year. While certified organic milk producers won’t use it, the possibility of contamination through the cross-pollination of organic and GMO crops, as has happened with corn and soy is concerning, he says. In addition, as the genetically engineered seed becomes available, farmers may have a hard time buying non-GMO seed.

“From my own experience at Aurora Dairy, we buy about 40,000 to 50,000 tons of alfalfa hay. It’s all organic. If we start having trouble doing that, it restricts our ability to produce organic milk,” he says, adding that milk is a gateway product into organics for many consumers.

Whole Foods is currently putting its 365 brand products through Non-GMO verification. The products don’t currently carry the label. However, customers can go to Whole Food website and click to find Non-GMO certified products.

“It’s a significant focus of the company right now to work on verification,” says Ben Friedland, regional marketing coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Region.

Asked about the company’s position on GMOs, Friedland says: “We believe in farmers’ right to farm non-GMO crops and our customers’ right to choose whether they want GMOs. We work to provide opportunities for both our stakeholders,” Friedland says.

Shiesley of Silk says the Non-GMO verification is extremely valuable to his company. For the Silk products that are not organic — the company switched some of its Silk line from organic to natural in 2009, Shiesley says because the company wanted to source soybeans domestically — the non-GMO verification offers assurances.

Shiesley says he also believes the label will raise awareness.

“I hope we’re at a tipping point with consumer understanding toward Non-GMO,” he says. “Unlike organic labeling which went through legislation and took eight-plus years, the industry can self-regulate … I don’t think we can wait five years plus with this.”

He points to consumer awareness on trans-fat and many companies’ subsequent reformulations of their products as an example of how awareness can change push industry to make changes.

“We bring 40 million consumers along with us when we go to Non-GMO (labeling),” he says.

Carol Carlson, chair of Slow Food Boulder County approves of voluntary labeling, but would also like to see mandatory standards.

“I think GMO contamination is a huge concern for all of us,” she says. “Anything that can be done to bring awareness to what we’re eating and whether it contains GMOs is a very good thing.”

She also urges Boulder Countians who disapprove of GMOs to become involved in county policy on Boulder County Open Space agricultural land.


Farmers Sue Monsanto

cotton-from-usda-image-library-k5927-233 recently came across this article about farmers in India fighting against major agribusiness, Monsanto. What are your thoughts? Check it out.

In India, Bt Cotton has become one of India’s biggest cash crops, accounting for over 90% of their cotton production. If you are not familiar with Bt cotton, it stands for bacillus thuringiensis cotton. Basically, BT is a GMO gene that is placed in the cotton plant to act as a pesticide.

The problem is, it damages the soil over time and usually farmers are left fighting another insect that the Bt doesn’t repel.

One company managed to corner the market on these GMO Cotton seeds in India and, you guessed it, that company is Monsanto. The creators of Agent Orange, the deadly cancer-causing chemical that was used in Vietnam, now has an international monopoly on the GMO and seed business.

In 2005 a decision, it was announced that Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds would be allowed in India, after much lobbying by Monsanto. Since then, there has been an alarming suicide rate among farmers in India that is connected to the failure of the Monsanto GMO (genetically modified organism) cotton seeds.

Now an agrarian crisis has hit Maharashtra itself thanks to the Monsanto program. Farmers are buying 11 packets of 450 gm per hectare as per the company’s guide for the recommended “population method” but the sudden demand and ill-managed Indian sub agents have brought the company big trouble as 50% of the Bt cotton seeds failed to germinate even after its second sowing.
The Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti farmer’s advocacy group has approached the local state Govt. of Maharashtra to arrange a high level probe of all complaints received from farmers of west Vidarbha where more than 10,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide since June 2005 after the introduction of the killer Bt cotton seeds in this region.

The Monsanto Bt cotton seed crisis heated up in early June when all Bt cotton seeds ordered by Maharashtra dealers sold out it to the adjourning Andhra farmers and there was no seed available to cater to the local market.

Monsanto sub-agents had failed to respond to a state govt. request, and then suddenly Bt cotton seeds were freely available in the market by the third week of June.

A source supply was immediately discovered and Yavatmal police raided the house of Nerendra Indurkar in the very small village of Munjala and reportedly caught him red handed packing local cotton seed in the pockets of branded Bt cotton. Police have sealed the advanced imported pocket packing machines and thousands of packets of Bt cotton seeds being sold on the premium.

However the alleged culprit, Nerendra Indurkar, was allowed to go without any interrogation. Officials at Monsanto were called and facts were shared but they denied any link with this bogus Bt cotton seed supply racket.

Now that the stage has been set and a timeline has been created, here enters the Monsanto official….

When news of a Monsanto senior official’s arrival from Mumbai reached the nearby village of Munjala, cotton farmers of the village Karanji, about 140 K.m. from Nagpur, located the Monsanto official and took him to their field where a complete failure of ‘Paras Sudarshan’ Bt cotton seed was shown to him.

When the Monsanto representative failed to admit the lapse, he was severely beaten up by the farmers. It was reported that even a local agriculture officer did not come to his rescue. This, from accounts in daily papers in Vidarbha and the Marathwada region of Maharashtra where more than 4 million hectares under Bt cotton cultivation are reporting the flood of bogus seed supplied local agents of American cotton seed MNC giant Monsanto.

At this point, although the situation was reported, the administration has failed to take any action of this serious issue. So, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prathiraj Chavan to order a judicial enquiry into the supply racket of bogus BT. cotton seed in Maharashtra, and also to start criminal action against the culprit, Tiwari added.

Monsanto has done a lot of horrible things without any remorse — the agent orange they made doesn’t just affect the person who comes into contact with it; it goes on to affect their children, and their children’s children. Many hard-working farmers have lost everything, including their lives, due to Monsanto.

I imagine many who read this will grin when they read what happened to the Monsanto official. Did some kind of justice get served by the Indian farmers out in that farm field? Well maybe, but violence is never the answer. Then again, try to explain that to the India farmers.


Campbell’s Soup just got salty… again.


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Do you recall the older winter-time commercial of a snowman dragging his feet into his home from a blizzard; and sitting down to a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup? As he took one sip the snow melted off and what was left was a little boy with a huge smile? That’s Campbell’s. They’re marketing and ads have proven to be successful for many years now, because they are the most popular soup can on store shelves. Why? It could be their advertising, their coupons and incentives, or it could be their salt-filled broth that most Americans have grown to adore.

Fact of the matter is that people-love-salt. Salt on pasta, salt on eggs, salt on mashed potatoes, salt on chicken, the list goes on and on. Campbell’s took notice of this a LONG time ago. They’ve been producing soups with high sodium levels since they first opened their factories in 1869. One 1/2 cup serving of their chicken noodle soup is 890mg of sodium. That’s almost HALF of your daily value of sodium for one day, in just HALF a cup. So basically, you consume one whole can, you’ve had your recommended sodium for the entire day in just 5 minutes, and maybe a little more.

Well, once the ball got rolling that our country and others are now facing huge numbers of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes; many people began to take initiative and eat healthier. Which, is great. Less people are buying Hungry-Man XXL frozen dinners, KFC fried chicken, Post Fruity Pebbles, etc. That’s when Kashi got more popular, Amy’s organic meals, and other products boasting natural ingredients, less sugar, and no cholesterol. Larger food companies, however, panicked. They’ve created products for years now, known for being tasty, fun and great, but are now all of a sudden detrimental to your health?

Campbell’s took a huge leap a few years back, cutting sodium by nearly half in most of their soup products. They even started a new line of healthier soups, Select Harvest. They figured, this is what people want, so they’re going to buy it; and these new products are going to fly off the shelves. Well we don’t have the exact numbers, but we’re sure millions at least tried the sodium-reduced soups. However, when you cutout such a hefty portion of sodium, you have to realize the taste will be very different. Also, campbell’s didn’t slowly remove the salt, they ripped the band-aid and cut the amount by half all at once. For those who sought their products for taste rather than nutritional value, we’re assuming they didn’t like it. Sales steadily dropped over a period of time.

Campbell’s newly appointed CEO, Denise Morrison, announced that she had to bring sales and taste back to their product; with the return of salt. “For me it’s about stabilizing company sales first and then planning growth beyond that.” Morrison plans to continue selling the new sodium-pumped soups until they slowly begin to create healthier options again. However, sales and profit come first.

What’s the Deal with Soy?

soy_bean_sunscreen recognizes that there are a few certain topics that seem to always cause heavy debate. Undoubtedly GMO, organic, and natural foods usually initiate some heated discussions, but another heavy subject that seems to intrigue people is Soy.

Originally, soy was praised by many people; boasting anti-cancer effects, and even the ability to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, soy became most popular among women because it was believed it would help reduce the symptoms of menopause, and help fight osteoporosis. How? In the simplest terms:

- Women produce an estrogen hormone, estradiol, which helps to maintain bone density.
- When menopause occurs, estrogen levels severely reduce, increasing the risk for reduced bone density.
- This is when soy came into play, because it naturally contains phytoestrogens, genistein and daidzein, that act as estrogen during menopause.
- Women were commonly using soy products as hormone-replacement therapy to reduce their menopause symptoms and regain bone strength.

In more recent years, we’ve been seeing quite the opposite hype about soy. Now we commonly read research and stories of soy endangering our health, rather than empowering it. After many years of women consuming more than average amounts of soy, research found that incidence of breast, ovarian, and other cancers were noticeably increasing, along with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid cancers, and reproductive difficulties. However, many still argue that soy can be included into a balanced diet with no harmful effects.
Here are some research articles you may be interested in to learn more about the pros and cons of soy:

Metabolic effects of soy in post menopausal women. Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism. Kathleen Murphy. 22.3 (Fall 2010): p105(2).

A mild favorable effect of soy protein with isoflavones on body composition–a 6-month double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial among Chinese postmenopausal women. International Journal of Obesity. Liu, S.C. Ho, Y-m Chen and Y.P. Ho. 34.2 (Feb 2010): p309(10).

The significance of soy protein and soy bioactive compounds in the prophylaxis and treatment of osteoporosis. Journal of Osteoporosis. Sa’eed Bawa. (Annual 2010)

Investigating the optimal soy protein and isoflavone intakes for women: a perspective. Women’s Health. Mark Messina. 4.4 (July 2008): p337(20).

Heart-Healthy Seaweed

sushi-seaweed1801112581846867944 likes to stay current with the latest research pertaining to foods and nutrition. We think our followers would be interested in this article surrounding research that shows seaweed has heart-healthy benefits. Check it out!

ScienceDaily (July 21, 2011) — In an article that may bring smiles to the faces of vegetarians who consume no dairy products and vegans, who consume no animal-based foods, scientists have identified seaweed as a rich new potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients. Seaweed and other “macroalgae” could rival milk products as sources of these so-called “bioactive peptides,” they conclude in an article in ACS’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Maria Hayes and colleagues Ciarán Fitzgerald, Eimear Gallagher and Deniz Tasdemir note increased interest in using bioactive peptides, now obtained mainly from milk products, as ingredients in so-called functional foods. Those foods not only provide nutrition, but have a medicine-like effect in treating or preventing certain diseases. Seaweeds are a rich but neglected alternative source, they state, noting that people in East Asian and other cultures have eaten seaweed for centuries: Nori in Japan, dulse in coastal Europe, and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

Their review of almost 100 scientific studies concluded that that some seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure almost like the popular ACE inhibitor drugs. “The variety of macroalga species and the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalgae a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds, and more efforts are needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products,” Hayes and her colleagues conclude.

Are you Happier with the “New” Happy Meal?

gty_mcdonalds_hiring_day_jrs_110407_wg would like to report that McDonald’s president, Jan Fields, announced today that the major fast-food franchise will now be serving healthier happy meals for their younger customers.

Regardless of criticism, this is quite a big deal for many of the advocates of child nutrition. McDonald’s has been seen as a major antagonist against the fight to end childhood obesity for many years now. McDonald’s previous happy meal combinations ranged anywhere from 500-700 calories per serving, with sodium numbers going through the roof. The new happy meal will be approximately 470 calories, compared to the previous 570 calorie option. Also, saturated fat will now be reduced from 20 to 14 grams, which is still pretty high, but a good start. However, we assume these happy meals will still contain a decent amount of sugar. We’re not quite sure of the exact number yet, but the previous happy meal contained about 89 grams of sugar (or 22 teaspoons).

So what exactly are they changing? The soda is gone. Instead of kids getting a Coke or Sprite, they’ll be receiving low-fat milk. Also, apple dippers (slices) will be served, IN ADDITION to a smaller serving of french fries. The caramel dipping sauce normally associated with their apple slices will not be included. Also, parents may choose to scrap the fries all together and get 2 bags of apple dippers instead, which we’re sure some are likely to do.

We have not come across any information pertaining to a change in the chicken nuggets, or burgers. We assume these famous staples will remain untouched during this happy meal makeover.

We’re excited to hear the reactions and feedback from our followers on this announcement as to whether or not you feel this is just a ploy for press, or a step in the right direction for fast-food.

Monsanto loses two young employees

50412_19316422766_6565_n recently came across this tragic and devastating news story involving two young teenage girls, also employees of Monsanto, that were fatally electrocuted while detasseling GM corn fields.

Two detasselers are confirmed dead and eight more injured in an electrocution accident in a Whiteside County field.

Emergency crews were called to a corn field south of Tampico just before 9 a.m. Monday, July 25, 2011.

There they found four detasselers electrocuted and another six shocked.

Police say four detasselers who suffered the most-serious injuries were taken to an area hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Two were later confirmed dead, and one was flown to a Rockford hospital and listed in critical condition.

The other detasselers were first taken to a staging area at the Rock Falls Fire Department for evaluation. From there, they were either transported to an area hospital or released to a parent or guardian.

Chevy Conkling was among the 72 detasselers in the field Monday when four of their owner were electrocuted, killing 14-year-old Hannah Kendall and 14-year-old Jade Garza.

“We were just like detasseling and we heard screaming and all went down hill,” said Chevy Conkling.

Chevy, a first year detasseler himself, says he watched as Hannah, Jade and two other detasselers walked past an above ground irrigator.

“One of the girls was laying on ground and couldn’t feel her legs and she was screaming for help, then two were passed out on it,” said Conkling.

In the very early stages of the investigation, police along with Monsanto and OSHA representatives still don’t know how the teens came in contacted with the irrigator.

“Several other crew members in the area also reported feeling an electrical shock,” said Lt. Andy Henson of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department.

“I just looked at it, touched the thing to see what was happening and it shocked me,” said Conkling.

Ranging in age from as young as 13, the detasselers are subcontracted through Monsanto.

Representatives say their detasselers are told to walk around irrigators.

“We do fairly extensive training with our contractors including not only irrigation system but heat,” said Mark Cabenaile of Monsanto.

The Sterling community now remembering Hannah and Jade, inseparable best friends who died together all too young.

“This is a tragic situation and certainly our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends and those that knew them,” said Cabenaile.

Monsanto has suspended all operations, until the investigation is complete. Monsanto employs around 1,000 people.

(Quad City Times)

Mom vs. Dr. Pepper helps the general public to learn the facts about the foods we eat. We live in an era of genetically modified foods, chemical additives, and various types of food allergies. Due to this, we feel it’s best that everyone looks closely at nutrition labels and ingredients to make sure our health and well-being are top priorities.

We appreciate it when we receive stories from our followers regarding situations with certain foods; asking us to share it with the rest of our audience to protect other consumers. Recently, we received an e-mail from a concerned parent:

Kari has a young 3 yr. old daughter that was diagnosed with a nightshade allergy just a few months ago. (For those who may not be familiar with nightshade produce, they include: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.) Kari’s daughter attended a birthday party and took just one gulp of a Diet Dr. Pepper. What they noticed is that the little girl was experiencing a reaction thereafter, with her throat closing. Luckily, Kari is a smart mom and always carries medicine in case of a reaction, and her daughter was okay.
The next day, Kari called the Dr. Pepper Corporation to see if she could speak to anyone and get more information on the product. Knowing if nightshades are in the product would help Kari find out if this is just another product to avoid, or if there is possibly a new allergy they are unaware of. However, the Dr. Pepper Corp. was not very helpful. They told this concerned mother that before they could disclose any information, her story would have to be presented to a board to get approval. A little over a month after her story was “reviewed” by the board, Kari received the verdict that her situation is not reason enough to give her the information as to whether this product contains nightshades.

Side Note: No one knows the exact flavor of Dr. Pepper. It is apparently a blend of 23 top-secret artificial and natural flavors. This formula is apparently SO top-secret, that not even a life-threatening situation could allow the company to answer one single question in regards to a child’s health.

When we learned about Kari’s situation, we decided to call Dr. Pepper ourselves. After a few minutes of being on hold, we received the same information as Kari, that the Dr. Pepper recipe is proprietary and we are unlikely to receive any information in regards to the ingredients. They suggested that anyone with a food allergen may want to avoid the products.

What does this mean for Kari’s daughter? This small 3 yr. old now has to undergo more series of scratch tests and blood drawls just to figure out if she has a new allergy. This easily could have been avoided if Dr. Pepper would have simply given her the information she needed. She’s not asking for a recipe, just if the product may or may not contain nightshades.

** If anyone does have a nightshade allergen, be sure to watch out for a variety of colas. Paprika, a common nightshade, is normally used for flavor in many soda products. This may cause a potential reaction. **

Restaurants Misrepresent Calories on Menus – has partnered with to expose food and nutrition-related news and research. Check out this article below on restaurants misrepresenting calories on menus!


Restaurants Misrepresent Calories on Menus
By Theresa Delay at

Many restaurants and fast food restaurants have begun listing calorie counts on their menus, to comply with some state regulations and to help consumers get an accurate idea of what they’re eating. This information should be used by consumers to make educated and well thought-out decisions about their meals. It’s supposed to help curb the obesity trend by allowing the Americans to enjoy eating out without entirely giving up on their nutrition goals.

A new study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association that sheds light on the accuracy of this addition to menus across the country. According to CBS News, nearly 20 percent of restaurant menus contain inaccurate calorie counts. In most instances, the laboratory results revealed as little as 10 calorie difference. However, some menu items (also close to 20 percent) contained more than 100 calories over what the menu claimed. The dish with the highest discrepancy was found to have over 1,000 calories than the amount stated on the menu.
Overall, the fast food chains had more accurate calorie estimations than sit-down restaurants, perhaps because items that are packaged off-site are more uniformly prepared. Although highly processed and mass produced food typically less nutritious than fresh food, it does ensure an accurate reporting of calories. When food is freshly prepared in the kitchen, a there’s a larger margin or error because of inconsistency between chefs at different locations.

There are many reasons not to eat at fast food chains, calorie inaccuracies aside. It would be better to eat a healthy, reasonable diet (even with indulgences) rather than counting the calories in junk food. A McDonald’s burger or a Wendy’s frosty aren’t healthy either way. More importantly, this study reminds of the importance of knowing about the food you put in to your body. Knowing basic nutritional information, where the food comes from and how the dish is prepared, will help you make wise decisions in any situation.

When you chose to eat a meal out, whether it be drive-thru or sit-down, it’s probably better to overestimate the number of calories you’re consuming. Eat just a little bit less and focus more on quality over quantity because you can’t always count on the calorie estimation of a dish.

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