Category Archives: Leafy Greens

Cutting Produce Waste Gains Fans, At Farm and Store Levels

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There is a growing movement to reduce wastage of pre-store and store-level waste of produce that is just past its prime.

Perhaps the leader in the pre-store sector of the movement is Imperfect Produce, which sources from farms and delivers to householders through the San Francisco Bay area and, increasingly, in and around Los Angeles. Whole Foods Market introduced a program a year ago to sell “cosmetically challenged” fruits and vegetables that, despite Iooking less than perfect, are as fit for the table, lunchbox or ingredients-prepping table as their better-looking counterparts. In March of this year, Maine-based Hannaford Brothers   joined the increasing number of retailers who are offering, at discounted prices, what Hannaford calls “The Misfits – Beautifully delicious and Nutritious” but slightly over-ripe or less-than-ideally-shaped produce items.

Now, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has come out with a detailed primer advising shoppers and would-be eaters ways to make it more likely they will waste less of produce they buy with the best of intentions – to prepare/eat it in a timely fashion – and then don’t do so.

Whole Foods and Hannaford, no doubt like others, pull ‘misfit” produce from their own stock. Imperfect works with an assortment of farms, many of them family operated, around California. They buy what’s in season but a little “off,” cosmetically.’

Their website says, “The produce we source is rejected purely for cosmetic reasons, meaning that taste and nutrition aren’t affected. Common reasons for produce being classified as “ugly” are: too small, wrong color, misshapen. We only source the most delicious fruits and vegetables, and we have strict quality-control measures in place to ensure that what ends up on your doorstep is fresh, delicious, and nutritious. If we wouldn’t eat it, we won’t sell it. We’re redefining BEAUTY in produce, not taste!” They also have a “like it or don’t pay for it” policy in the event a client feels something in their weekly box – the program works on a subscription basis, with boxes of pre-selected sizes and mixes being delivered weekly – is too ugly, they get credit for it in their next shipment.

It is likely more such programs will be initiated in coming years, and well they should be, Anything to reduce the amount of produce being wasted is a good thing!

Preventing Food Waste Is Goal of Paris’s Freegan Restaurant

What can, by now, be called ‘a movement’ to reduce food waste – in one of the cleverest-possible ways, is what Paris’s Freegan Pony restaurant is all about. Chef Aladdin Charni feeds some 400 people daily on perfectly good food that, were it not for him, would have been discarded as ‘waste’ by merchants at Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market.

Why would all these vegetables – Freegan serves only vegetarian meals – be destined for destruction? Their ‘sell by’ dates had, or were on the verge of being, past.

What inspired Charni to establish his restaurant?

In order for us to prove the value and safety of food waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food waste is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings,” Charni told CNN.

He explained that while he sources from numerous places – including food banks, restaurants, cafes, food photographers, evens, and functions – perhaps his greatest, and most reliable source is the Rungis market. Because the wholesalers there are selling to a spectrum of resellers as well as restaurants, they want their produce to leave the market at, or approaching, its freshness peak. When something – even a case of something – gives a merchant reason to suspect it’s past one of those points, they don’t try to sell it. They can’t: The French are particular about their food, and the Rungis merchants are particular about their reputations.

An increasing number of U.S. supermarket operators are making similar efforts to avoid seeing produce that may not be quite ‘fit for prime time’ be tossed into the dumpster. Instead, many are using perfectly healthy but just-past-prime foods in their in-house prepared food operations. In worst case scenarios, where something more than a few days beyond prime, it can form the basis for a soup – one already in the kitchen’s repertoire, or a new, innovative one.

Savings from not throwing perfectly good food out can be substantial. Of course it’s a lot easier to monitor the age of produce in a store than in one’s home, where things often are stuck into plastic containers are placed, in no logical way, on shelves. The volume of food ‘lost’ in this way amounts, amazingly, to more than 10% of what is bought for home use.

Consumers can save themselves a great deal of money if they create systems for refrigerator-storing of food. Both uncooked items and leftovers too often get overlooked until they are unsalvageable.

Its recent report on the Freegan Pony restaurant, on Paris’s outskirts, described how chef Aladdin Charni feeds some 400 people daily on perfectly good food that, were it not for him, would have been discarded as ‘waste’ by merchants at Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market.

Why would all these vegetables – Freegan serves only vegetarian meals – be destined for destruction? Their ‘sell by’ dates had, or were on the verge of being, past.

What inspired Charni to establish his restaurant?

In order for us to prove the value and safety of food waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food waste is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings,” Charni told CNN.

He explained that while he sources from numerous places – including food banks, restaurants, cafes, food photographers, evens, and functions – perhaps his greatest, and most reliable source is the Rungis market. Because the wholesalers there are selling to a spectrum of resellers as well as restaurants, they want their produce to leave the market at, or approaching, its freshness peak. When something – even a case of something – gives a merchant reason to suspect it’s past one of those points, they don’t try to sell it. They can’t: The French are particular about their food, and the Rungis merchants are particular about their reputations.

An increasing number of U.S. supermarket operators are making similar efforts to avoid seeing produce that may not be quite ‘fit for prime time’ be tossed into the dumpster. Instead, many are using perfectly healthy but just-past-prime foods in their in-house prepared food operations. In worst case scenarios, where something more than a few days beyond prime, it can form the basis for a soup – one already in the kitchen’s repertoire, or a new, innovative one.

Savings from not throwing perfectly good food out can be substantial. Of course it’s a lot easier to monitor the age of produce in a store than in one’s home, where things often are stuck into plastic containers are placed, in no logical way, on shelves. The volume of food ‘lost’ in this way amounts, amazingly, to more than 10% of what is bought for home use.

Consumers can save themselves a great deal of money if they create systems for refrigerator-storing of food. Both uncooked items and leftovers too often get overlooked until they are unsalvageable.

Critics Slam McD’s Ad, Say They’re NOT Loving It

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It’s one thing – a nice thing, in fact – for McDonald’s to have eliminated artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets, but it’s quite something else, critics say, for the company to imply, as a current TV campaign does, that Mickey D focuses on serving, what “we all want – what’s best for our kids!”

Adding that line to a commercial selling McNuggets has some health advocates crying foul.

“That’s the defining line that sets up the whole ad,” says Emily Mardell, a registered dietitian in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. That and the whole concept of the ad, she says, “is incredibly misleading.”

Using even stronger language, the executive director of Ottawa (Canada)’s Centre for Health Science and Law calls that marketing approach “grossly misleading. Bill Jeffery argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets “simply aren’t a healthy choice for children,” according to a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) report. “What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable,” Jeffery declared.

Still, McDonald’s, says the company is very serious about its campaign to promote its preservative-free McNuggets, which already have no artificial flavors or colors.

The chain started offering its reformed finger food at U.S. and Canadian locations in August.

The move is part of a bigger mission to offer menu items that better “reflect the cares and concerns of the modern day guest,” McDonald’s Canada spokesman Adam Grachnik said in an email to CBC News.

“We are on a journey to be better.”

The journey includes dropping some reportedly questionable ingredients from McNuggets like TBHQ — a preservative used for vegetable oils.

Besides the line, “We all want what’s best for our kids,” the company also promotes the menu item online with the phrase, “Because your family matters.”

But health advocates say eliminating a preservative or two doesn’t change the overall health concerns with fast food.

“It’s not a categorical shift,” says Mardell.

“These are still foods that are high in fat, high in sodium. They’re not the types of foods that you want in the everyday or even in routine intake for children.”

According to McDonald’s own numbers, just four McNuggets contain nine grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium — one-quarter of the recommended daily sodium requirement for kids ages four to eight.

McDonald’s serves up its Chicken McNuggets with its own dipping sauces that contain preservatives. And the above-cited sodium numbers don’t include the accompanying dipping sauce, one of which, the barbecue, option has the highest sodium count at 300 milligrams — as much as four McNuggets.

And the fact the company’s commercials don’t mention that the dipping sauces still contain preservatives prompted the CEO of a major U.S. restaurant chain, Panera Bread, to also suggest McDonald’s is misleading customers.

“I was offended watching this commercial,” CEO Ron Shaich told Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!”

McDonald’s Grachnik also listed an improvement the company made last spring: adding leafy green vegetables like kale to its salads. But in February, CBC News revealed McDonald’s crispy chicken caesar kale salad entree with dressing has more calories, fat and sodium than a Double Big Mac. At 1,400 milligrams, the sodium amount nearly meets an adult’s daily recommended intake.

“Putting kale into the menu doesn’t mean you’re getting a healthy choice,” Toronto registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon told CBC News at the time.

When you add the accompanying dressing to the crispy chicken caesar salad with kale, it has more calories, salt and fat than a Double Big Mac.

mcdonald-s-burger-kale-salad

When you add the accompanying dressing to the crispy chicken caesar salad with kale, it has more calories, salt and fat than a Double Big Mac.

Bill Jeffery of the Centre for Health Science and Law says it’s nice to see a big company moving towards antibiotic-free chicken. But he still finds himself underwhelmed by McDonald’s changes.

“This isn’t about improving the health of their customers,” he concludes. “They’re just going to try to appeal to people’s emotions about health.”

Despite all the criticisms, McDonald’s is standing by its message of making positive changes to its menu. “We are proud of these big changes, even as we seek to do more and make the food people truly love to eat at McDonald’s even better,” said Grachnik.

No Locally-Available Fruits and Veggies Increases Risk of Early Heart Disease Signs

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The just-cancelled ‘Nightly Show’ starring Larry Wilmore had a segment last March about ‘food deserts.’ The show’s reporter interviewed Esther Fuchs, of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia. She commented on a report that “some 23 and a half million people in America, including some six and a half million children,” live in “food deserts” – places, often in major cities, where fresh fruits and vegetables simply aren’t available. Those people, Fuchs said, “live in areas more than one mile from a supermarket selling fruits and vegetables.”

To check this out, Reporter Jordan Carlos went to Camden, New Jersey, right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth-largest city in the U.S. He started walking in a poor-looking neighborhood, searching for a store selling fruits and vegetables. He had to travel five miles before he encountered one!

Given that part of his trek was along a rail line, you can assume his ‘finding’ was slightly exaggerated – but only slightly. I live in a far-from-poor small town, and I’m well over a mile from the nearest “supermarket selling fruits and vegetables”. There is a small food store roughly half a mile from me. But its produce selection is so poor it seems to be oriented toward the town’s least-discriminating food shoppers.

And that’s a shame, for several reasons. Key among them is the fact – as reported August 15 in the journal Circulation (paywall) – that people who can’t shop locally for fresh produce are more likely to have early signs of heart disease. Michigan-based researchers (from, among others, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Grand Valley State University) studied data from nearly 6,000 adults who had an initial heart CT scan and several follow-up scans over 12 years. The availability of fresh food near their homes was key to the condition of their arteries, their study declared.

“We found that healthy food stores within one mile of their home was the only significant factor that reduced or slowed the progression of calcium buildup in coronary arteries,” co-lead author Ella August said in a journal news release. She is a clinical assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“Our results point to a need for greater awareness of the potential health threat posed by the scarcity of healthy grocery options in certain neighborhoods,” August added.

Co-lead author Jeffrey Wing said, “The thought is that greater access to healthier foods may have promoted healthier diets and, in turn, less coronary plaque formation.” Wing is an assistant professor of public health at Grand Valley State University.

The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish. It also advises people to eat foods low in saturated and trans-fats and sodium, and to limit their intake of added sugars and red meats.

 

Kids Eating (More) Greens = Better Health, Lower Long-Term Health Care Costs

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A change several years ago by a Department of Agriculture program geared toward financially challenged families – mostly single women with young children – can be said to have more than paid for itself already by improving children’s eating habits, and their health.

Long known as WIC, for Women, Infants and Children, this program now is formally known as the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – long to be WIC to recipients and sponsors.

It was in 2009 that the USDA added more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk to the WIC program’s food voucher package – permitting, in other words, more of those foods to be bought at lower-than-retail cost, in supermarkets and participating food markets, enabling a WIC beneficiary’s cost-discounting credit voucher to stretch further than it ever had before.

WIC coupons – now actually presented as credits on a government-issued debit card – enable the beneficiary to receive their discounts without facing the potential embarrassment handing over coupons long did at a food store/stand checkout.

The addition of more proven-healthy foods to the available-items package actually is causing recipients – including parents of the roughly four million children benefiting from this program – to make ‘healthier choices’, resulting in their children being less prone to the obesity that, as recently as a few years ago, was affecting one in five children entering elementary school.

Evidence that this is happening was published on April 7 in the journal  Pediatrics, reporting on a study done recently by researchers at the University of California’s Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, UC San Francisco and the UC Agriculture and Natural ResourcesNutrition Policy Institute.

“Although the findings only showed significant improvement for consumption of greens and beans, the other areas for which WIC has put in important efforts – increased consumption of whole fruits rather than fruit juice, increased whole grains – all show trends in the right direction,” said lead author June Tester, a physician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, “and there is opportunity for further study in the future when more years have passed after this landmark change in the WIC package.”

This means, in the short and long term, that those children who are eating healthier are less likely to be obese, less likely to develop Type II diabetes, less likely to develop high blood pressure, or have strokes – or place huge burdens on the health care system throughout their lives. They’re also likely to live longer!

For the UC study, researchers analyzed the diets of 1,197 children, ages 2 to 4 years, from low-income households before and after the 2009 change in the food package. They used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to compare a nationally representative sample from 2003 to 2008 with diets in 2011 to 2012.

The researchers calculated the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010), which is a score with 100 possible points measuring adherence to dietary guidelines, from two recalls by parents of their children’s diets over the previous 24-hour period. For children in households using WIC, this score increased from 52.4 to 58.3 after the policy change. After adjusting for characteristics in the sample and trends in the comparison group, the researchers showed that there was an increase of 3.7 points that was attributable to the WIC package change. This represents important evidence of an improvement in the diets for these children in WIC households, according to a UC press release on the study.

“Vegetables are part of a healthful diet, but in general, children don’t eat enough of them,” said Dr. Tester, a pediatrician at Benioff Children’s Hospital. . Using the Healthy Eating Index, she and her colleagues calculated the Greens and Beans score, which counts dark green vegetables and includes any legumes, such as beans and peas, that were not already counted as protein foods on a different score.

I will be very appreciative if you will encourage your friends, family and colleagues to check out what my two blogs – Food TradeTrends.com and YouSayWhat.info – do in the interest of providing information you might, otherwise, never become aware of. You never know: Some of my research could prove useful, or possibly amusing, to you (and/or them).

 

More Leafy Greens Consumption Reduces Risks of Glaucoma: Study

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Regular consumption of leafy greens  such as lettuce, kale spinach and chard could reduce ones risk of developing open-angle glaucoma, according to results of a study published January 14 in JAMA Opthalmology. The lead researcher was Jae H. Kang, ScD, of Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

An analysis by Dr. Kang and her colleagues found nitrate-rich foods such as leafy greens can cut risks of regular glaucoma by 20-30% for most people and by as much as 40-50% for individuals with early paracentral (central) visual field loss.

Their study followed earlier research that indicated Nitric oxide (NO) is involved with both glaucoma and ocular blood circulation. Nearly 80% of NO is obtained by the body from leafy greens, the authors of this study declared.

Two groups were studied – 121,700 females in the Nurses’ Health Study, between 1984-2012, from when the women were 30-35 years of age, and 51,529 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which ran between 1986 and 2012, starting when the subjects were between 40-75 years of age. More than 85% of the participants were monitored every 2 to 4 years through mailed questionnaires that explored their health, diet and disease status. The women’s questionnaire consisted of 126 queries; The men’s contained 131.

In preparing to do the analysis, the researchers eliminated participants affected by diseases that could cause them to alter their diet, as well as individuals younger than 40 – the age at which one’s risk for developing glaucoma noticeably increases. The records of 63,893 women and 41,094 men were included in the analysis, which represented 1,678,713 person-years of follow-ups.

In the nearly 105,000 analysis subjects, 433 were found during the analysis to have early paracentral vision field loss, and 835 suffered from peripheral vision field loss.

Sub groups had consumer greater or lesser amounts of leafy greens, and the detailed break-down of the analysis indicated that “higher dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetable intake was associated with a lower POAG (primary open-angle glaucoma) risk, particularly with early paracentral vision field loss as a diagnosis.”