Category Archives: Healthy Diet

Redefining healthy eating: it’s personal

healthy eatingWe’ve all been there.  One of your best friends just lost 10 pounds in one month on that new diet everyone’s been talking about.  So you  go on the same diet.  30 days later and you’ve lost … absolutely nothing.  You know you didn’t cheat, you followed the diet to the letter.  You know you were eating healthy food.  And you SHOULD HAVE lost weight.  Shouldn’t you have?  Maybe we should be redefining healthy eating.

If you’ve ever tried out the latest diet fad only to find yourself gaining weight and feeling awful and wondered what you were doing wrong, scientists now have an explanation for you.

Israeli researchers, writing in the journal Cell this week, have found that different people’s bodies respond to eating the same meal very differently — which means that a diet that may work wonders for your best friend may not have the same impact on you.

Lead authors Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science focused on one key component used in creating balanced diet plans like Atkins, Zone or South Beach. Known as the glycemic index or GI for short, it was developed decades ago as a measure of how certain foods impact blood sugar level and has been assumed to be a fixed number.

But it’s not. It turns out that it varies widely depending on the individual.

The researchers recruited 800 healthy and pre-diabetic volunteers ages 18 to 70 and collected data through health questionnaires, body measurements, blood tests, glucose monitoring and stool samples. They also had the participants input lifestyle and food intake information into a mobile app that ended up collecting information on a total of 46,898 meals they had.

Each person was asked to eat a standardized breakfast that included things like bread each morning.

They found that age and body mass index, as expected, appeared to impact blood glucose level after meals, but so did something else. Different individuals showed vastly different responses to the same food, even though their own responses remained the same day to day.

“There are profound differences between individuals — in some cases, individuals have opposite responses to one another,” Segal explained.

The researchers said the findings show that tailoring meal plans to individuals’ biology may be the future of dieting and the study yielded many surprises for individuals. One example involves a middle-aged woman who tried and failed with many diets. Tests showed that her blood sugar levels spiked after eating tomatoes — which the researchers said appeared to be a poor choice for her since high blood sugar has been associated with heart problems, obesity and diabetes — but since she didn’t know this, she was eating them as part of her healthy diet plans several times a week.
Elinav said the work “really enlightened us on how inaccurate we all were about one of the most basic concepts of our existence, which is how we eat and how we integrate nutrition into our daily life.”

To drill down even deeper into the question of why such vast differences exist, the researchers designed another experiment that involved personalized dietary interventions on 26 new volunteers. The goal was to reduce post-meal blood sugar levels. The clinicians designed two sets of specialized meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and up to two intermediate meals — for each person that were theorized to be a “good” diet or a “bad” diet. Every participant followed the diets for a full week. The good diets worked, and not only did they see their blood sugar levels going down, they found alterations in their gut microbiota. One interesting finding was that even though the diets were very personalized, several of the changes in the microbiota were similar for participants.

This appears to imply, the researcher said, that we’re “really conceptually wrong” in our thinking about the obesity and diabetes epidemic.

We think “we know how to treat these conditions, and it’s just that people are not listening and are eating out of control,” Segal said, “but maybe people are actually compliant and in many cases we were giving them the wrong advice.”

By using the information from the study, the researchers were able to come up with the holy grail of dieting: an algorithm that takes hundreds of factors about a person and turns them into a tailor-made meal plan. The results were pretty surprising to both the doctors and participants. “It wasn’t just salad every day,” Segal told The Atlantic. “Some people got alcohol, chocolate, and ice-cream, in moderation.”

Lua Wilkinson, a doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences at Cornell, said the study is interesting because it shows “the way people control their blood sugar involves more than just carb intake or glycemic index. However, she cautioned, “it said nothing about health effects or weight loss.” encourages everyone to explore their personal healthy eating style.  Experiment with the healthy food that will help you lose weight – or maintain the healthy weight you’ve worked so hard to attain.  Learn what foods work for you and stay committed to your healthy eating profile!




New food delivery options expand dining choices beyond fast food and traditional take out

door dashDon’t feel like cooking? Traditionally, unless you live in a large urban area, your options have been fairly limited. You can usually get delivery from a local diner (but not always), some fast casual chains might deliver or you can always visit any one of your local assortment of fast food locations. Ever-evolving technology is changing all of that for us. New food delivery options expand dining choices for everyone. is thrilled with the new wave of delivery services made possible by apps and e-commerce. While it’s certainly true that many of them are working with fast food, these services are opening up new and better ways for consumers to opt for better quality, fresher, healthier foods without cooking.

Years ago, Amazon hooked shoppers on cheap books delivered in days. Now, the e-commerce giant is blowing up the online marketplace again by reaching into the fast growing world of food delivery.

Amazon’s one-hour delivery arm, Prime Now, announced plans this week to provide Los Angeles-area residents with doorstep delivery of meals from local. The news comes as app-based food delivery services are growing at a rapid clip as consumers demand hassle-free, doorstep deliveries on everything from groceries to tacos to alcohol.

“These are people who don’t leave the house very much,” said Roland Foss, whose Mission Market convenience store in Fullerton delivers via ordering systems by DoorDash, Eat24 and GrubHub.

Many food companies, from Irvine-based Taco Bell to Foss’ mom-and-pop shop, are using third-party applications, which help increase sales with very little to lose in terms of capital investment.

The three services allow Foss to sell everything from microwavable meals to vaping products to customers who might never walk through his tiny storefronts in Fullerton and Anaheim.

“We are platform agnostic, and I don’t mind being on as many platforms as possible,” Foss said. “I’m just expanding the footprint of my potential customers and earnings.”

Since summer, Foss has been working with GrubHub and Yelp-owned Eat24 to provide mobile ordering to customers in the greater Fullerton area. Typical orders include sandwiches, cookies, chips and frozen foods. But there’s a catch: Those two services leave delivery up to the business.

In many cases, Foss is making the deliveries himself – which is not ideal, or efficient, he said. Sometimes it’s challenging to find homes in gated communities. One time, he couldn’t get into a secured apartment complex, so he left the person’s delivery outside the gate and sent the customer a message.

This month, Foss partnered with DoorDash, an Uber-like food delivery service that is spreading quickly across the country. The company provides an app-based ordering system, as well as the delivery drivers, called Dashers.

Even though the Bay area-based courier service takes a larger cut of overall sales, Foss said it’s worth it. The service takes care of delivery.

Here’s a look at the major food delivery players in Southern California:

Founded two years ago in a Stanford dorm room, DoorDash offers delivery of everything from tacos to toothbrushes. To date its primary partnerships have been with nationally known restaurants and food retailers such as Taco Bell, KFC and 7-Eleven.
Its network of independent contract “dashers” deliver meals in more than 250 cities across the U.S. DoorDash is available in all parts of Orange County except La Palma, Los Alamitos and Cypress.

Depending on the city, dashers can fetch everything from a bucket of fried chicken from KFC to an Iced Americano from Portola Coffee Lab for a delivery fee of $5.99. Fees vary and don’t include tipping, which is optional.

Delivery options depend on the city. Restaurants available for delivery also change depending on location. DoorDash provides an estimated time of delivery, which can take longer than an hour during peak days and hours.

Founded in 2011 in San Francisco, Postmates offers on-demand delivery of personal services, such as dry cleaning, as well as groceries and electronics and restaurant meals.

But its bread and butter, so far, is food delivery, which accounts for 80 percent of its business, said Sean Plaice, Postmates’ co-founder and chief technical officer.

“Food is to us like books were to Amazon,” said the former Orange County resident.

As a 4-year-old player in an emerging market, Postmates has set the bar for same-day delivery, he said.

The company’s fleet of couriers are in 40 metropolitan markets in the country, compared with 19 for DoorDash. Its couriers are available in most every city in Orange County. For as little as $4.99 (plus a 9 percent service fee), customers can use Postmates around the clock.

Citizen couriers or drivers, like Uber, roam the streets and “accept” requests based on the best match – typically someone who is closest to the location from which the order originates. Unlike DoorDash, orders can be customized. For example, you can order school supplies or bandages from retailers not necessarily showing up on the Postmates app.

“You can get anything delivered from anywhere,” said Plaice. “I’m proud to say we’re pioneers in this.”

In February, GrubHub expanded its foothold in the online food ordering sector by buying two restaurant delivery companies: Aliso Viejo-based Restaurants on the Run and Boston-based DiningIn.

The company curates online orders for more than 35,000 restaurant partners around the country. Since completing the acquisitions, GrubHub has created a delivery network to reach more than 30 markets, the company said.

Restaurants on the Run has a built-in delivery system for chains such as El Torito, BJ’s Restaurants and California Pizza Kitchen.

The company, founded in 1993, specializes in large corporate food deliveries. Individuals can make small orders, but some restaurants require a $20 minimum order on top of delivery fees.

To compete with delivery services that offer lower fees, GrubHub said it plans to “reduce fees over time.”

Amazon Prime Now
Amazon’s Prime Now and its one- or two-hour delivery service serves customers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, including the Orange County cities of Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Orange.

The service offers tens of thousands of items, including household goods, groceries and electronics.

The delivery service, which operates in 13 metro areas across the U.S., can only be accessed through its mobile app. Members can check delivery options by entering their ZIP code.

Needless to say, still thinks preparing your food at home in your own kitchen is the ideal way to go. But we know it’s not always possible and we do think that these innovative new food delivery options open the opportunity to consumers to eat substantially better when they’re not cooking at home than ever before. These services aren’t just contracting with your local pizzeria and convenience store. They’re working with restaurants that aren’t the usual take out places. Find out the services in your area and open a new door in your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle all the time!

Coffee drinkers enjoy life more

coffee potWhile coffee lovers everywhere might look at that headline and heartily agree – there may just be more to it than you’d think. Sure, drinking coffee might perk you up so you can be more present during your daily activities and interactions. And health benefits like decreased stroke risk and Type 2 diabetes risk could help you enjoy life more. But according to a new study, coffee drinkers enjoy life more because their coffee drinking might allow them to enjoy more life. Multiple cups of joe every day may help boost longevity.

“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Decaf drinkers also saw benefits.
The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits.

Now, of course, it’s possible to overdo it with caffeine. Research has shown that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create feelings of unease. And some of us are even more sensitive.

One study found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee) is an optimal amount to enhance cognitive function and mood among sleep-deprived people. But we don’t all metabolize caffeine the same way.

As we’ve reported, the caffeine amounts in coffee vary wildly. One analysis, conducted by Bruce Goldberger, found a 16-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks could contain anywhere from 250 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine.

“Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way,” says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He summarizes the benefits documented in this study as “small.”

He says this study does not prove cause and effect between drinking coffee and living longer. Rather, it points to an association. “There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy,” Maynard says.

Here’s a conversation from The Salt about the findings with study co-author Walter Willett, edited for length and clarity.

So, what do you think might explain this association? In the study, you point to compounds in coffee — such as lignans, quinides and magnesium — that may help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. Prior studieshave pointed to these as well.

We’re not sure exactly how coffee is [linked] to all these benefits. The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phytochemicals. And my guess is that they’re working together to have some of these benefits.

We [see] similar benefits from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. That’s important, because it suggests that caffeine is not responsible for [the benefit].

So this may be welcome news to people who drink decaf?

Yes, because too much [caffeinated] coffee can cause insomnia and loss of sleep, and that’s not a good thing!

The reduced risk of death was not seen among the coffee drinkers in your study who were smokers or former smokers.

Definitely. It’s extremely important to disentangle the effects of coffee from the effects of cigarette smoking.

So, what’s the take-home here? Is it that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle?

I think if people like coffee, it’s fine to include it [as part of your daily habit]. So, certainly, [people] should not feel guilty about moderate coffee consumption. It definitely can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
I wouldn’t suggest that someone who doesn’t like coffee go out and drink it.

Are you a coffee drinker? Are these findings likely to influence your own behaviors?

Well, I really like a good cup of coffee. But if I have more than two cups a day, I really don’t sleep as well. So, I’ve been switching more toward decaf or half decaf/half regular.

In this study, you also analyzed how coffee influenced the risk of specific diseases — or categories of diseases. What did you find?

We went beyond total mortality and looked at specific causes of death. And we found that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee have lower risk of [death] from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurologic disease [such as Parkinson's] and suicide.
Your findings come from data from two Nurses’ Health Studies, which included about 167,000 women. And it also looked at the 40,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
As you point out, the participants in these studies are about 95 percent white, largely middle-class and well-educated. Can you extrapolate to other populations?
Yes, I’m quite sure these findings would apply to other populations. This is a biological relationship. And we basically have a common biology. is always happy to see more good news associated with our favorite hot beverage. And while it’s always important for all of us to understand how much is too much, it certainly appears that there’s a lot more going on in that cup than just the caffeine!

Eat slowly to eat well.

eat strawberriesWe’ve all got the same goal in mind – healthy eating. Dietary habits can vary – some are vegetarian, others vegan, some adapt a Mediterranean-style diet, some opt for Paleo. No matter how different our dietary choices may be, we’re all looking for optimum health. At the same time, we’re also looking for an optimum eating experience. Decades ago, healthy eating meant sacrificing flavor for health. Today, we’re looking to enjoy the flavors of the fresh, whole foods we consume. We expect to eat well as well as eat healthy. New information suggests that one of the most important aspects of that experience is pretty simple. Eat slowly to eat well.

When it comes to enjoying the flavors in food, our tongues really aren’t that useful. They can detect just a few basic tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami, and maybe fat.

But real complexity comes from a food or drink’s aroma, and the main way we sense all the compounds isn’t from sniffing. Our bodies actually blast scents from the back of our mouths up into our nasal cavity where we can take in the difference between merlot and Chianti, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Of course, you can smell foods by holding them up to your face and huffing. But that’s not quite the same as taking in all the flavors of a food. “When we have food or drink in our mouths, [the flavor] has to be going from the back of the mouth up and into the noise – going backwards,” says Dr. Gordon Shepherd, a neuroscientist at Yale University.

To figure out how that works, Shepherd and a team of Yale engineers and neuroscientists built a model of the inside of a person’s mouth, throat and nasal cavities. Then they used the model to analyze how air flows through it. They found that molecules from food we smell, or food volatiles, pile up at the back of our mouths and throats as we breathe.

When we’re breathing in through the nose, as one might do while chewing, air whips down the nasal cavity and into the lungs, creating a kind of air curtain separating the throat and the mouth. “That air curtain prevents all food volatiles from entering the lungs,” says Rui Ni, a mechanical engineer at Penn State University and lead author on the study. When we exhale, air sweeps into the back of the mouth and throat where that heap of volatile compounds is and carries them up into the nose.

This all happens naturally, Ni says. “But you can only do this effectively when you breathe smoothly,” he says. If you’re stuffing food with abandon down your throat or gasping for breath or heaving, you start to disrupt that normal pattern of airflow. Food volatiles won’t store properly at the back of your mouth, and they could get sucked into your lungs and pass into the bloodstream.

The other problem, notes Laleh Golshahi, a mechanical engineer at Virginia Commonwealth University who was not involved with the study, is if you inhale too slowly while eating, that air curtain doesn’t form effectively. Food volatiles don’t get bounced out of the trachea and then could also be drawn into the lungs.
“[Breathing] not too fast and not too slow is the key,” she tells The Salt in an email. “Though the faster you exhale, you have a better chance to sweep food volatiles from the back of your throat toward the nasal cavity to smell.”

Ni agrees. And so the big takeaway from this study for us eaters is this: To get the best sensory experience from your food, eat slowly and breathe evenly as you do it.

The scientists behind the PNAS study only scanned the throat, nasal and oral cavities of one patient, Golshahi notes. So there could be variability among us that might make the situation different for each person. But best practices for anyone probably include relaxed eating and even breathing.

Savoring your food slowly seems to be the way to go for other reasons, too. One study found that when dieters ate slowly, it became easier to control their food intake. And kids who are forced to hurry down a meal in a few minutes ate less and threw out more food. knows that following this advice can sometimes be easier said than done. We’re all way too busy. Slowing down seems to be a thing of the past with few of us having the luxury of doing so. Fitting our quest for the healthiest possible diet into what’s already a packed schedule can seem daunting, leaving us in a “grab-and-go” situation more times than not. We’d like to commit to slowing things down a bit. Let’s leave ourselves time to savor our meals whenever we can. It’s more enjoyable. It’s better for us. And it’s an important choice to make for our healthy lifestyles.

Tremendous changes in consumer eating habits are all around us. Can food manufacturers keep up? has been advocating for changes in our eating habits since our inception. We’ve been alerting consumers to what’s really in their food for well over a decade and have built a strong and durable reputation as a consistent voice for healthy, clean eating. We’re pretty proud of that. But what we’re even more proud of is the emerging voice of consumers everywhere. It’s the voice that has clearly told food manufacturers what will and will not be accepted by today’s more educated, nutritionally aware food purchasers. Tremendous changes in consumer eating habits are all around us. Can food manufacturers keep up?

General Mills will drop all artificial colors and flavors from its cereals. Perdue, Tyson and Foster Farm have begun to limit the use of antibiotics in their chicken. Kraft declared it was dropping artificial dyes from its macaroni and cheese. Hershey’s will begin to move away from ingredients such as the emulsifier polyglycerol polyricinoleate to “simple and easy-to-understand ingredients” like “fresh milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar.”

Those announcements reflect a new reality: Consumers are walking away from America’s most iconic food brands. Big food manufacturers are reacting by cleaning up their ingredient labels, acquiring healthier brands and coming out with a prodigious array of new products. Last year, General Mills purchased the organic pasta maker Annie’s Homegrown for $820 million — a price that was over four times the company’s revenues, likening it to valuations more often seen in Silicon Valley. The company also introduced more than 200 new products, ranging from Cheerios Protein to Betty Crocker gluten-free cookie mix, to capitalize on the latest consumer fads.

Food companies are moving in the right direction, but it won’t be enough to save them. If they are to survive changes in eating habits, they need a fundamental shift in their approach.

The food movement over the past couple of decades has substantially altered consumer behavior and reshaped the competitive landscape. Chains like Sweetgreen, a salad purveyor, are grabbing market share from traditional fast food companies. Brands such as Amy’s Kitchen, with its organic products, and Kind bars are taking some of the space on shelves once consumed by Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine and Mars.

For the large established food companies, this is having disastrous consequences. Per capita soda sales are down 25 percent since 1998, mostly replaced by water. Orange juice, a drink once seen as an important part of a healthy breakfast, has seen per capita consumption drop 45 percent in the same period. It is now more correctly considered a serious carrier of free sugar, stripped of its natural fibers. Sales of packaged cereals, also heavily sugar-laden, are down over 25 percent since 2000, with yogurt and granola taking their place. Frozen dinner sales are down nearly 12 percent from 2007 to 2013. Sales per outlet at McDonald’s have been on a downward spiral for nearly three years, with no end in sight.

To survive, the food industry will need more than its current bag of tricks. There is a consumer shift at play that calls into question the reason packaged foods exist. There was a time when consumers used to walk through every aisle of the grocery store, but today much of their time is being spent in the perimeter of the store with its vast collection of fresh products — raw produce, meats, bakery items and fresh prepared foods. Sales of fresh prepared foods have grown nearly 30 percent since 2009, while sales of center-of-store packaged goods have started to fall. Sales of raw fruits and vegetables are also growing — among children and young adults, per capita consumption of vegetables is up 10 percent over the past five years.

The outlook for the center of the store is so glum that industry insiders have begun to refer to that space as the morgue. For consumers today, packaged goods conjure up the image of foods stripped of their nutrition and loaded with sugar. Also, decades of deceptive marketing, corporate-sponsored research and government lobbying have left large food companies with brands that are fast becoming liabilities. According to one recent survey, 42 percent of millennial consumers, ages 20 to 37, don’t trust large food companies, compared with 18 percent of non-millennial consumers who feel that way.

For legacy food companies to have any hope of survival, they will have to make bold changes in their core product offerings. Companies will have to drastically cut sugar; process less; go local and organic; use more fruits, vegetables and other whole foods; and develop fresh offerings. General Mills needs to do more than just drop the artificial ingredients from Trix. It needs to drop the sugar substantially, move to 100 percent whole grains, and increase ingredient diversity by expanding to other grains besides corn.

Instead of throwing good money after bad for its lagging frozen products, Nestlé, which is investing in a new $50 million frozen research and development facility, should introduce a range of healthy, fresh prepared meals for deli counters across the country.

McDonalds needs to do more than use antibiotic-free chicken. The back of the house for its 36,000 restaurants currently looks like a mini-factory serving fried frozen patties and french fries. It needs to look more like a kitchen serving freshly prepared meals with locally sourced vegetables and grains — and it still needs to taste great and be affordable.

The website has been on the pulse of these changes for years. Our site – and other websites, bloggers and organizations and associations – has been on the forefront of a transformation. We provide the information consumers need to become educated food purchasers – people who clearly know and understand what is and isn’t acceptable to them in their food. And now our new app, can help those consumers gather their information anywhere and everywhere:

Will the food manufacturers keep up? It’s anyone’s guess. But with the help of the app, consumers everywhere can make sure they’re avoiding the products that contain the ingredients they’ve said no to, thus holding those manufacturers accountable for everything they’re putting in their products. As we’ve continually seen, that is really making a difference with manufacturers after manufacturer making important changes based on consumer voices.

Over 40 Chipotle locations in the Seattle and Portland area close due to E. coli outbreak

chipotleIf you’re located in the Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon area and you’re out and about this election day, you may want to make a note to avoid Chipotle for a meal on the go. You may also find that avoiding Chipotle today has been made a little easier for you, as Chipotle locations in the Seattle and Portland area close due to E. Coli outbreaks.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is temporarily closing more than 40 restaurants in and around Seattle and Portland, Ore., as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak that has gotten at least 22 people sick.

“Since Oct. 14, three people in Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon, both in suburban Portland, have fallen ill, said Jonathan Modie, Oregon Health Authority spokesman. And 19 cases in Clark County, which contains Vancouver, Wash., just north of Portland; Cowlitz County, north of Vancouver; King County, where Seattle is the largest city; and Skagit County about 50 miles north of King County, also have been reported.

“About a third of the victims have been hospitalized, he said. No one has died from the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, the most common in food-borne outbreaks.

” ‘Many people affected with Shiga toxin E. coli may not seek health care, so the number of people made ill by this outbreak is likely more than identified,’ Modie said in a statement. ‘Health officials want people who have eaten at a Chipotle between Oct. 14 and 23 and become ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea to see their health-care provider and mention this outbreak.’ ”

In a statement provided to Reuters, Chipotle said it had received notice from health officials that some of the people who got sick ate at six of the chain’s restaurants. “Out of an abundance of caution,” the company said, it temporarily closed all its restaurants in the area — 43 locations in two states.

Reuters reports this is the third food-contamination outbreak to be linked to the restaurant chain since August. The wire service adds:

“Those earlier cases involved salmonella and the highly infectious virus norovirus.”

“The 1,700-outlet chain has grown quickly since it opened in 1993 with a single location, distinguishing itself from typical fast-food restaurants by touting its use of healthy and high-quality fresh ingredients in its menu of burritos, tacos and salads.”

NBC News reports that the investigation into the E. coli outbreak is still in the early stages, and that it’s likely they will find that the E. coli “came from a fresh food product delivered to Chipotle restaurants and other places.”

NBC News adds:
“The investigation started with talking to everyone diagnosed with E. coli and finding out what they ate and where. Test samples from those individuals will go to state labs in Washington and Oregon.

“Then samples of food from the restaurants will be tested at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratory to see if bacteria from the food matches the human cases.”

Chipotle’s prudent decision to temporarily close 43 locations in two states certainly illustrates for a tremendous commitment to the health and safety of the consumers who are loyal to the brand. We’ll keep you posted on developments as we’re updated.

Tips for fitting organic into your monthly food budget hears the lament often, “I’d love to eat organic, but it’s just too expensive.” While we certainly sympathize, we’re not the kind to sit back and forego all the benefits of organic foods without at least making a real effort to fit the current prices of organic into our budgets. We’ve looked around and we’ve come across an article from Huffington Post sharing some good tips for fitting organic into your monthly food budget that really make sense!

Many people who want to eat organic food think they can’t afford it. They know that organic food costs more than standard grocery store fare, so they assume that an organic diet is out of their price range. That’s what I used to think, but a recent experiment showed me that my family can eat a lot of organic food without spending more money.

Several months ago, we switched to a whole food, primarily organic, diet. Although our normal diet is fairly healthy, we had read about the anti-inflammatory benefits of a “clean” diet and wanted to see if it would reduce the arthritis pain in my husband’s hands. (It did.) We tried it out for a month, eating organic dairy, organic fruits and vegetables, high-quality meat and chicken (about half organic), organic grains, free-range eggs, nuts, coconut oil and olive oil. We eliminated white sugar and white flour and almost all wheat products. We ate no processed food, and we rarely ate out.

And we waited for our food budget to collapse.

But it didn’t happen. Our average monthly food bill (groceries + eating out) for that month was slightly lower than the previous month. Not much lower (less than 1%), but lower nonetheless. So we actually spent less but ate better. Here are 7 things we did that reduced the cost of eating organic and whole food:

• Get organized. Unless you have money to burn, you can’t wing it on a whole food diet – you need a plan. The first step is to make a menu and grocery list every week. Although I normally plan dinners, I found that I needed to plan breakfasts and lunches too, because we couldn’t fall back on a bagel or frozen meal in a pinch. Next, organize your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Get rid of foods you don’t want to eat. Take stock of the organic and whole foods you already have on hand and put them where you can find them quickly and easily. Then, keep those areas organized; take 10 minutes every weekend to keep your refrigerator, freezer and pantry under control.

• Use everything and don’t waste anything. I hate to waste food, but I sometimes lose track of what’s in the refrigerator and end up throwing things away. But I can’t afford to throw away organic food, and you probably can’t either. So keep track of what you have and don’t let anything go to waste. Put the date on leftovers so they don’t get too old to eat. If something needs to be eaten, incorporate it into your meal plan. If you can’t, freeze it. I could have kicked myself when I had to throw away delicious soup made from an organic chicken, simply because I didn’t use it or freeze it in time.

• Keep things simple. Don’t complicate your life with elaborate meals or stress your budget with prepared organic foods. Instead, stick with simple foods prepared well. Grilled chicken breasts, baked sweet potatoes and a tossed salad, for example, or London broil with roasted new potatoes and vegetables, make simple, delicious meals that save money, time and stress.

• Take advantage of low prices, sales and discounts. Discount stores carry some organic items, and stores like Costco and Aldi are increasing the number of organic foods they sell. I bought staples, including organic tomato sauce, flour, butter and milk, at Wal-mart. Farmer’s markets offer a wide array of fresh produce, often at very reasonable prices. Even the high-end grocery stores, which many people assume they can’t afford, run sales and offer discounts. So sign up for their text or email deals and install their apps on your phone. I rarely went to Earthfare without one of their “$10 off $70 purchase” discounts, and I stocked up on items there as they went on sale.

• Make some foods you would normally buy. We figured out early in this experiment that we needed to have more healthy snacks on hand. But most snack foods are pricey and contain ingredients we were trying to avoid. So we started making toasted walnuts, energy bars and granola every weekend. They satisfied our snack cravings and could fill in as an emergency breakfast if needed. I also made homemade salad dressings every week, and we started experimenting with making yogurt (because organic Greek yogurt is really expensive!).

• Cook extra whenever possible. Many meals can be doubled easily, with almost no extra work or mess. Cooking extra food saves time, but it also saves money. When you can turn leftover dinner into lunches to take to work, it reduces the likelihood that you’ll have to run out and grab something from a restaurant. And when you make a double batch of dinner and freeze half, you have a healthy and inexpensive “fast food” dinner on hand for a particularly hectic night, when you might otherwise pick up a fast food meal or go out to dinner.

• Cut way back on eating out. Making this change does two things. First, it helps you stick to your real food eating plan, because it’s difficult to eat clean in a restaurant. Second, it keeps food costs down because, let’s face it, eating out gets expensive.

A diet based on organic and whole foods isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank either. With a bit of planning, organization and effort, you can eat well and feed your family well without blowing your food budget.

These are great ideas. We especially like the advice of keeping meals simple. No prepared foods are necessary. No extra ingredients that might cost you more. Just excellent food that doesn’t take hours to prepare with costs that are kept under control. Leftovers are great things. In the first place, you won’t need to purchase lunch – and the lunch you’ll be taking from home will be healthier than anything you’d be buying that afternoon.

We all deserve the healthiest foods available. With a little planning and some experimenting you can incorporate organic food into your monthly budget and enjoy the advantages it will afford your health and well being.

Is the salmon on your dinner plate the same as the salmon you ordered for dinner? All about salmon fraud …

salmon-fraud-restaurants-600x380If you’re first response is, “Of course it is!” invites you to read further because this interesting study all about salmon fraud may really surprise you.

Would you be able to tell if the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you ordered for dinner was swapped out for a less expensive piece of farm-raised salmon?

For the observant, the color difference between the two would likely be the first give away. (Sockeye has a deeper red-orange hue.) Or maybe you’d notice the disparity in the thickness of fillet. (Sockeye is flatter and less steaky in appearance.)

But what if you ordered the most coveted of salmon species — king salmon? (It’s also known as Chinook.) Much like farmed Atlantic salmon, its light in color, thick in texture and similarly marbled with fat. It’s also significantly more expensive. And according to a new report released Wednesday by conservation group Oceana, it’s a fish where you’re more likely to get duped — especially if you order it from a restaurant during the winter.

In its latest attempt to uncover seafood fraud, Oceana collected and tested 82 salmon samples from restaurants and grocery stores in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York between December 2013 and March 2014. Results showed that 43 percent of salmon samples tested were mislabeled, and that far more of that mislabeling is occurring in restaurants than in large supermarkets.

The instances of salmon fraud were significantly higher than during an earlier 2013 nationwide study by the same group. That study included far more — 384 samples, which showed salmon fraud at only 7 percent. But the jump isn’t being attributed to a sudden increase in unabandoned label swapping, rampant menu hijinks or differences in sample size. This survey was designed to measure fraud during the winter months, when salmon was not in season, and the marketplace would be shorter on supply, says Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana who authored the new report.

“In D.C. in summer, I don’t think we had any salmon mislabeling. Same for Chicago,” says Warner.

To select samples for the newest study, Oceana searched online menus for restaurants touting “wild salmon” and sought out salmon labeled “wild” in grocery stores.

What the group found was that when wild salmon was out of season, the testing netted significantly different results. Diners were likely to get duped 67 percent of the time when ordering salmon in restaurants, compared with 20 percent of the time when buying in large grocery stores — which have to comply with country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations. And when diners were deceived, it was more likely to be an incident of farmed salmon being passed off as more expensive wild (69 percent of the time).

Erica Cline, an associate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, conducted a similar study published in 2012. Initially, she also found higher rates of farmed salmon being swapped for wild during winter months. But her ongoing testing in the years since has found that fraud tends to fluctuate regardless of season. Like Oceana’s report, “we still see substantially higher rates of substitution in restaurants than in [grocery] stores,” Cline says.

Oceana says this kind of fraud is a real economic problem: Salmon-loving consumers aren’t always getting what they’re paying for, and responsible American salmon fishermen are being forced to compete with fraudulent products “receiving less cash than they should be for their hard-won catch,” according to the report.

And Warner says it’s an environmental problem for those consumers who go the extra mile to consult seafood sustainability ratings like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which ranks seafood as “best choice,” “good alternative” or “avoid.”

Salmon fraud is a real concern for seafood consumers and as the winter months approach, it’s important for us to understand that we’re actually getting what we pay for. Let’s make sure that the salmon we’ve ordered at our favorite restaurant is the salmon that’s being served to us.

The world mourns an obsession. Bacon causes cancer

BaconAre you obsessed with bacon? Does the thought of it immediately bring a smile to your face? Does the smell of bacon mean that you immediately have to eat some? Is the new bacon-scented candle being marketed by the world’s most popular candle manufacturer sitting on top of your holiday gift list? If you are among the millions of people worldwide who are enthralled with bacon, the news you’ve seen all over the internet this week is not welcome in your world. Bacon causes cancer.

Pigging out will kill you, the World Health Organization said Monday — warning that bacon, sausage and other processed meats are now in the same category of cancer risk as smoking cigarettes and inhaling asbestos.

Hot dogs, ham, corned beef and almost every other salted, cured or smoked delicacy have been officially classified as “carcinogenic to humans” — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic” — based on a study by 22 scientists from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

Experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” said Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Program. “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

The experts scoured through more than 800 studies from several continents and found that red meat and processed meat — containing nitrites or other chemicals to help preserve it — can ultimately cause multiple forms of cancer, including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer, the WHO reported.

Their findings ultimately showed a 17 percent increased risk of cancer from eating 3.5 ounces per day of red meat and an 18 percent increase per 1.7 ounces per day of processed meat.

The report didn’t sit well with Big Apple bacon-lovers.

“I would die if I couldn’t eat bacon, it’s so delicious!” said Chris Chriswell, owner of Swine, a restaurant in Greenwich Village that has become a proverbial hog heaven among meat-crazed New Yorkers.

“We’re going to continue serving bacon,” he said, adding that one of their crowd favorites is a brunch dish called the Flying Pig, which comes with a flight of four different types of bacon, including lamb, jowl, applewood and maple-glazed smoked.

“Every few years the consensus seems to shift,” Chriswell explained. “If anything causes cancer, it’s up to people to listen to what science says and decide on their own. We aren’t going to force anybody to eat bacon.”

Swine exec chef Oriana Rivadeneira blasted the report as hogwash.

“I’ve never heard of someone dying because of bacon,” she quipped. “Everything always causes cancer all the time. My family are the biggest pork and meat eaters and my grandmother passed away at 101 years old. She lived for so long and she was the biggest pork eater.”

Jason Woolfolk, a general manager at Pork Slope, a roadhouse-inspired barbecue joint in Brooklyn, doesn’t think the WHO report will hurt business.

“We are definitely not going to stop serving bacon anytime soon,” he said. “This place is built for people’s cheat day. No one is going stop eating it, that’s for sure.”

Marc Perez, a butcher at Casablanca Meat Market in East Harlem who is also the son of longtime owner, Louis Perez, doesn’t think the WHO report will hurt business.

“Bacon is like gospel to people these days,” he said. “The average New Yorker who is the same person who goes out at night and has a few drinks, enjoy themselves, and then has to do a few extra miles on the treadmill, so I don’t think it will have an effect.” can hear the hearts of bacon lovers breaking all over the world. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint – the processed meat/cancer discussion seems to go back and forth over time. During one decade, bacon causes cancer; during another, it doesn’t. Sadly for bacon lovers, this happens to be a negative decade for their fondest food obsession. Whether or not it makes sense from a health perspective, we’re fairly confident that the world is not about to see any major negative impact on bacon consumption from this important news.

Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry by the end of 2016

140312152136-overtime-violations-subway-1024x576Subway has been one of the better fast food chains when it comes to listening to consumer demand and providing healthy improvements to their menu items. is happy to hear that once again, Subway is listening to their customers.  Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry — joining a list of fast food giants who are offering antibiotic free poultry to their customers.

The parade of fast-food companies promising to sell meat from animals that never received antibiotics just got significantly longer. Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich chain, is following the lead of Chipotle, Panera, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds, with its promise Tuesday that its meat suppliers gradually will go antibiotic-free.

In one respect, in fact, Subway is going further than McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, which have promised only to serve antibiotic-free poultry. Subway is laying out a timetable for its suppliers of beef and pork to go antibiotic-free as well.

Getting adequate supplies of such beef and pork, however, appears to be more difficult, and will take longer, than accomplishing the same task with poultry. According to Subway’s statement, the “transition to chicken raised without antibiotics will be completed by the end of 2016.” Beef and pork, however, will take until 2025.

The reason is simple. Antibiotic poultry production is now mainstream. Big poultry producers like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride are gradually getting rid of antibiotics that are used in human medicine. (The use of medically useful antibiotics in agriculture is controversial because it increases the chances that bacteria will become resistant to those drugs, rendering those drugs useless against some infections.)

Perdue Farms, which has led the poultry industry’s move away from antibiotics, says that 95 percent of its chickens already receive no human antibiotics, and more than half of its chickens receive no antibiotics at all.

Pork and beef, however, have been a different story. Most large-scale hog operations and feedlots still rely at least occasionally on the use of antibiotics.

Subway has been under fierce attack by some opponents of antibiotic use in agriculture, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe.

In a statement, NRDC’s Lena Brook praised the fast-food chain’s move, calling it “a strong plan that will help the company live up to the healthy image it has long-cultivated.”

So Subway isn’t simply following the path started by other fast food chains who are using only antibiotic free poultry – they’re going a step further and committing to antibiotic free beef and pork. We’re hopeful that those other chains commit to go the extra mile as well.