Category Archives: Food

Is GMO labeling too much government?

Label-It

It’s rare that I don’t have a concrete opinion on an issue but I recently had a conversation with someone over whether or not GMO labeling is something that should come to Georgia. Whether you believe in the dangers of Genetically Modified food, it matters not in this case. There is a growing movement for ‘truth in food’ and labeling in states around the country and it’s only a matter of time before the conversation comes to Georgia. We should be prepared because the point of contention is the role of government in consumer information.

In a quality conversation, we should consider all sides of the legislative sphere and not just what benefits us. So let’s begin.

Currently, only Vermont, Maine and Connecticut have passed legislation requiring labeling and Colorado and Oregon put it on the ballot where it previously failed. The Center for Food Safety has a comprehensive list of states with pending initiatives, including Georgia as soon-to-be-Former State Rep. Josh Clark introduced legislation during the 2014 session.

Keep in mind that similar legislation applies only  to food grown or manufactured in that state. In considering the role of government, many would agree that this should be done at the state level (unless you’re viewing this the same way many view cigarette labeling). When considering effectiveness, one at least has to acknowledge that random states passing legislation could be disjointed and choppy. The responsibility of raising awareness would still fall on grassroots organizations and on informed consumers. In today’s America, that is a lot to ask.

So, some questions I have:

  • Would it drive food manufacturers out of Georgia? This obviously wouldn’t be an option for agriculture as their land is here but food companies who process manufactured food (food that isn’t from the earth and is made solely from…’other stuff’), would they simply up and leave the state?
  • What undue burden would this place on our farmers? By far one of the most important ones. Does it apply to produce stands? Is there a revenue bench mark? And if so, that then draws into question whether the law is just and applicable across the board.
  • What is the cost on businesses? How much will it cost them?
  • What does labeling entail? Sometimes it’s ingredients and sometimes it’s the process. If it’s simply the ingredients, that’s useless because companies will just change their process to skirt around compliance. That’s what they did with MSG in the early 2000’s.

There is already a movement called the Non-GMO Project with a lot of steam and zazz behind it. Many would say that projects such as this will weed out the -via the free market- those companies that have no desire to be transparent.
To their credit, there are a large number of companies backing labeling – currently over 650. Some of the organizations in favor of food labeling include: Odwalla, Chipolte, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, Eden Foods and Numi.
Some of the larger players against GMO food labeling include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Nestle USA, Hormel, Kellogg, Land O Lakes, and Du Pont.
The counter to that argument is two-fold: First, only organizations that are NON-GMO are labeling. Those are using GMO products are not indicating so. Secondly, sometimes it is indeed the role of the government to inform the uninformed so long as we are operating under the current system with the FDA and State Agriculture Commissioners.

As you can see, the possible ramifications are quite complicated and the grey area seems to muddy the black and white. Georgia doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being Liberty-minded when it comes to agriculture or food rights (see Delbert Bland’s Vidalia Onions and previous raw milks legislation) but I hope they can at least start the conversation. It would be to our benefit that this process be slow as the quick things they do generally don’t help We, The People. And I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me that wanted to stick it to big companies that are doing shady things with a lack of transparency….but that doesn’t make good policy and it still doesn’t answer the question of whether or not that is the role of government when consumers have a choice.

 

 

The Asinine-ness of Aspartame


Aspartame is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute. Here in the United States, aspartame is marketed as an additive that makes foods and drinks “sugar free”… but at what cost?

The FDA says that aspartame is one of the most thoroughly studied food additives the agency has ever approved but a 60 Minutes interview stated that “aspartame’s approval was one of the most contested in FDA history”. New Mexico introduced legislation to ban aspartame and Hawaii asked the FDA to rescind its use. Aspartame is banned in parts of the U.K. and several U.K.-based companies choose not to use it in their products. Retailers in South Africa also ceased use of aspartame and the Philippines and Indonesia have introduced their own legislation to ban the additive. Of the countries investigating the safety concerns of aspartame, the United States has the highest daily recommended intake at 50mg/kg and is still regulated and promoted by the FDA.

Not to get to scientific, but aspartame, when broken down, kills neurons in the brain through excitotoxins that stimulate the cells to death. It also breaks down the Blood Brain Barrier, or BBB, and 75% of cells are dead before any symptoms of chronic illnesses are detected.

Dr. Mercola, a highly respected medical doctor who often challenges mainstream health reports, listed roughly 90 side effects of aspartame including migraines, seizures, nausea, weight gain, memory loss, slurred speech, fatigue and depression, among others. Dr. Mercola also states that medical conditions such as brain rumors, MS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation and birth defects can all be triggered or worsened by aspartame intake.

Yet, aspartame is found in thousands of foods and marketed under multiple names like Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure. They’ve even begun to market it as a weight-loss tool! These days, over 6,000 foods contain aspartame. Some include:



  • Anything “sugar-free”

  • instant cocoa mix

  • Powdered soft drinks (lemonade, Crystal Light, etc)

  • Frozen Ice Cream

  • Chewing Gum

  • Flavored Water Products

  • “Diet” Soda’s

  • Flavored syrups for coffee

  • Yogurt


It would behoove people to do some research and reconsider several of the foods they eat on a daily basis. The diseases and illnesses we are suffering from are not sporadically existing. There is a reason why countries are attempting to ban the substance and why companies have found other alternatives. Many additives that are legally regulated into our foods contribute to the poor health we see around us and so much is preventable. It’s now a blessing to find a product that is ‘Made with Real Sugar’.


Below is a picture from New Zealand…

STAY OUT OF MY LUNCH BOX!!

It appears I should change the name of my blog to The Perspicacious Choices, not Conservative…because all I really argue about anymore is the right to make choices for myself. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, but a 4-year old’s lunch was sent home in North Carolina recently because a state inspector ruled it unhealthy. A turkey and cheese sandwich with a banana, potato chips and apple juice did not meet U.S. Agricultural guidelines.

Excuse me? What the hell are they talking about? That sounds like the lunch I ate everyday from age 5-18. Do you know what they replaced the child’s lunch with? Chicken fingers. I’m sure they were organic, unprocessed and free of any additives,right? We all know how healthy chicken nuggets are when purchased in bulk and frozen. AND they were charged for the cost of the school lunch!

Now, according to North Carolina CHILD CARE RULE .0901- Food from home- “When children bring their own food from home for meals or snacks to the center, if the food does not meet the nutritional requirements outlined in the Meal Patterns for Children in Child Care, the center must provide additional food necessary to meet those requirements.”. I’ll be darned if the school I send my children to will decide what they can and cannot eat….The state, with oversight from the federal government, WILL NOT dictate who eats what in my family.

The story brought back memories of 7th grade when I was called to the Principals Office for wearing a sleeveless turtleneck sweater with jeans. The Principal saw me in the hall in between classes and quickly established that my outfit was “too revealing”. (A turtleneck? Really?) The issue was soon put to rest when my mom showed up to school, livid and wearing the same sweater in another color. Yes, a professional, working woman wearing a sweater in the workplace but it was not appropriate for middle school. Mom sent me back to class as she battled with the Principal. The issue was never brought up again.

There is simply too much discretion and regulation in schools. Each child is different and who knows them better than their own parents? And who is obligated and rightfully the ones to make those decisions? Parents.

We, as a society, get to make fewer and fewer decisions for ourselves every day. Think of all the things that are regulated by discretion: the Internet, roads, schooling, zoning permits, architectural plans, dog shots & registrations, cars, food, clothing, real estate, alcohol…….

America….Land of the Free!!!!

Hope You Like That Candy, Cause It’s Bug Poop.

I recently read an article posted on a friends Facebook wall describing all the nasty ingredients that are included in foods without our knowledge. It reminded me of all the foods that I’ve given up over the last year because of the true ingredients or effects of those foods on the body. The things that are adding to our food are truly disturbing (in addition to being disgusting) which is why Tuesday’s will now be ‘Toxicology Tuesdays’. (But we’re kicking off on a Thursday!)

This week…foods with ingredients that you’d never eat alone but are considered “acceptable” by the FDA because it’s a ‘low ratio’. They claim that these ingredients are not hazardous to health and are perfectly acceptable for human consumption. It’s certainly not for those who have a weak stomach, but eye-opening information nonetheless.

Ingredient Name

What it actually is…

Found in…

Confectioners glazeResinous glaze Bug poo Shiny candy, chocolate, jelly beans, shiny apples, mascara, lipstick
Natural Red # 4
Cochineal
Carmine
‘natural color’
Ground up bugs Cherry icecreamStrawberry/cherry yogurt
Ammonium sulfate Fertilizer Breads & Subway products
Castoreum
‘natural flavor’
Beaver anal glands Raspberry candies
vanilla flavored icecream
L-cysteine
Cysteine
Human hair
duck feathers
Bread, dough conditioner
Allura Red AC Coal Tar Red candies, soda
Cellulose Wood pulp Foods with “dietary fiber”
bottled milkshakes, flour
shredded cheese
Lanolin, gum base Sheep secretions Bubble gum, shampoo/condit/soap
Silicon Dioxide Sand Wendy’s Chili, condensed milk, pudding, mustard, vinegar, American cheese
Rennet Calf stomach Cheeses
Shellac Beetle juice Cupcakes, shiny candies, sprinkles
Gelatin
collagen
Boiled bones, skin & connective tissues of cows, pigs & horses Jell-o
Barbacoa Cow face Tacos
Menudo ‘tripe’ or skin peeled off the cows stomach Mexican food
Worcestershire sauce Liquefied anchovies melted down in vinegar (bones & all)

Are you grossed out yet? Take a look at items listed in the FDA Defect Handbook. This is a list of food items that are permitted to have mold or insect parts based on their non-defect ratio. This is PUBLIC INFORMATION. Parts per million or not, I don’t want these things in my food.

Food

Amount of ‘additive’ allowed per packaging serving

Apple Butter Rodent hairs, 5+ whole/equivalent insect parts per 100g (excludes mites, aphids, thrips, scale insects)
Apricots (Canned) 2% damaged/infected with insects
Berries (frozen, black & raspberry) 4+ larvae per 100 grams
Asparagus (Canned, frozen) 10% damaged/infested with insects
Broccoli (Frozen) 60+ aphids/thrips/mites per 100 grams
Brussel sprouts (frozen) 30+ aphids/thrips/mites per 100 grams
Ground capsicum Average 50+ insect parts per 25 grams
6+ rodent hairs per 25 grams
Group paprika Average 95+ insect fragments per 25 grams
11+ rodent hairs per 25 grams
Ground cinnamon 400+ insect fragments per 50 grams
11+ rodent hairs per 50 grams
Cocoa Beans Avg 10+ mg of mammalian excreta per pound
4% damaged by insects
Canned Sweet corn 2 or more 3mm insect larvae
Cornmeal 1+ whole insects per 50 grams
1+ rodent hair per 25 grams
Cumin seed 9.5% allowed to be ash
Curry powder Avg 100+ insect fragments per 25 grams
Dates (sliced, chopped) 10+ dead insects
Figs 10% infested with insects
Macaroni/noodle products 225 insect fragments per 225 grams
(AKA 1 insect fragment per gram!)
Nutmeg (Whole) 10% infested by insects
Nutmeg (ground) 100+ insects per 10 grams
Black olives 10% infested by fruit flies
Oregano 1250 parts per 10 grams
Peanut Butter 30+ insect parts per 10 grams
Peas (black eyed) 10% infested by insects
Pepper (ground) Avg 475+ insect parts per 50grams
Raisins (gold) 35 Drosophilia eggs per 8 ounces
Sage (ground) 200+ insect fragments per 110 grams
Sauerkraut 50+ thrips per 100 grams
Thyme (ground) 925 insect fragments per 25 grams
Tomatoes (canned) 10+ fly eggs, 2+ maggots per 500 grams
Tomato puree 20+ fly eggs per 100 grams

Maybe you’ll think twice before you head to the grocery store, no? I can’t think of a better argument for local foods and homegrown products–Anything without a bar code. You can find a local market close to you here.