Super foods, fermented foods, processed foods and more from the week-end readings

It has been well marketed by the “healthy” food industry (if such a thing exists) and highly recommended by a number of dieticians that quinoa and other exotic grains and edible plaints. However, slowly but surely, their fame is fading. It is not due to lack of their nutritional value – they are marvelous under certain circumstances. But because their consumption may not be right and just as once thought. An article from Mother Jones offers more details “Are Quinoa, Chia Seeds, and Other “Superfoods” a Scam?”

Fermented foods, vegetables in particular, which culturally may be much closer to the diet of many of us than delicious but exotic foods (as above), have shown to boost an immune system. More in the piece by Dr. Mercola Learn How to Make Cultured Veggies at Home to Boost Your Immune System.

From Food Day, this is a must to read, watch and show to children: Mr. Zee’s Apple Factory: A Children’s Story about Processed Food

This may be slightly of the topic but significant on the topic of prevention and providing equal access to treatments: Medicaid Expansion Denial Will Cost States Billions: Report.

Further, Sen. Bernie Sanders describes What Can We Learn From Denmark? about child care, raising families, education, healthcare, taxes, unemployment and security for elderly and disables.

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Reason to celebrate, GMO discovery, foods to avoid, chocolate and more from the week-end readings

Celebrate with Connecticut (CT) as a bill to label GMO food, based on a compromise between the original Senate bill and the version passed by House, has been unanimously voted by the Senate with a support from the House leadership and Gov. Malloy. YES!!!

However, on the GMO front, we still have a long way to go. Did you hear about or read the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicate the presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants? GMO wheat has NEVER been approved for sale in the US. Non-GMO Project has also begun their independent investigation. Japan and South Korea have frozen U.S. imports. A disturbing YouTube video from the UK shows a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese imported from the U.S. with a label declaring the product is “made from genetically modified wheat”. Are Americans eating GMO wheat without knowing it? Watch/read Imported U.S. Mac and Cheese Label: ‘Made from GM Wheat’.

What do you think are Top 5 worst “chemically altered” foods to avoid?

Germs – they support humans’ metabolism and immune system among other very beneficial roles. They are Some of [Our] Best Friends by Mark Bittman (NYT). So why are we destroying them?!

The pharmaceutical industry made Americans addicted to prescription drugs. However, one physician is fighting back. Meet the Doctor Big Pharma Can’t Shut Up.

Read about 3 Staple Foods that Big Ag Has Stripped of All Nutrients from AlterNet.

On one of my favorite topics, chocolate, one Chef Speaks Out for Fair Chocolate (Civil Eats). See my previous post related to the topic.

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And my newest recipe… Crepes with a Mexican accent!

2 servings
6 crepes or tortillas or any flat bread (like for wraps)
Note: usually made with leftover crepes from a previous day or freezer (defrost before using)
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
240 g (8 oz) white mushrooms
1 cup beans (butter beans used but any beans work) with juice if from the can
½ cup water if no liquid available from the bean can
2-3 tbsp ketchup
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp garlic granules (or powder)
½ tsp herb (or regular) salt
¼ tsp sweet paprika
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
30 g (1 oz) Gruyere cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
30 g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
Under cover, sauté onion for about 10 minutes or until brown on medium heat. Add mushrooms. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the liquid from the mushrooms is gone. Add the next 8 ingredients, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add Gruyere and cilantro. Let it cool slightly (enough to handle it.
Turn oven to 400 F. 
Divide filling among 6 crepes. Roll each crepe and place it in the lightly oiled, 9” square dish one at the time. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and the dish is hot.
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Personal care, Farm Bill, women, dandelions and more from the week-end readings

To learn what to avoid in personal care merchandises, read 9 Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products from Green America.

For updates on activities regarding 2013 Farm Bill, read The 2013 Farm Bill: What to Know, What to Do from OCA.

The Senate voted down the Farm Bill amendment to label GMOs on a state level. As pointed out by Natural Society in Senate Shoots Down GMO Labeling Bill, it is yet another “showing of their lack of concern towards the people who give them their jobs.”

To support organics and non-GMOS, visit Take Action to Protect Organic Food in the Very Important Farm Bill. There are still ways to save it.

April M. Short from AlterNet lists 5 Most Horrifying Things About Monsanto [and] -Why You Should Join the Global Movement and Protest on Saturday or at any time.

The Women Versus the Ted article by Gail Collins from NYT conveys a message – about women – too important to miss.

31st National Pesticide Forum in Albuquerque NM provides the public with invaluable messages – in-depth knowledge about pesticides and health. Watch the talks and share with others.

It may be difficult to accept but the yellow flowers that most of us so disliked and try to eliminate, can be an abundance of nutrients and beneficial. Read about it in Dandelion Benefits: Wild Edibles that Heal from Natural Society.

As Hippocrates proclaimed nearly 2,500 years ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” However, food must be nutritious and healthy. Neither genetically modified nor sprayed with synthetic chemicals. Not altered by governmental policies. LET IT BE FOOD as discussed in Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food from NYT.

Choosing fruit, vegetables and most other food (in real meaning of the word) will support in maintaining a healthy microbial environment of your guts and preventing Monsanto from destroying it all. Read about the catastrophic impact of Monsanto product on your health, health of the natural environment around us and the planet in Gut punch: Monsanto could be destroying your microbiome from Grist.

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Farm Bill, GMOS, big corporations, cooking magazine for children and more from the week-end readings

The Farm Bill is back on the agenda and it will be voted by the Senate. However, as Food and Water Watch describes in the article, Farm Bill 2013: The Bill Goes to the Senate Floor… Again, there are significant and some very worrisome differences between the Senate and the House versions. Dr. Marion Nettle finds the bill sarcastic, sober, troubling.

Food for thought on a New Study Links GMO Food To Leukemia.

More on GMOs and the price we are beginning to pay for using them can be found in the article by Tom Laskawy in Grist. In Frankenfoods: Good for Big Business, bad for the rest of us he concludes that “Corporations made billions on GMOs and all we got was ethanol and an unsustainable diet.”

In Kitchen Little, Mark Bittman talks about how “cooking went out of style for most Americans, and that a positive approach to it could help to change matters” and assist in developing healthier eating habits especially among children. He promotes ChopChop, a Boston-based cooking magazine for the whole family.

Bruce Friedrich from Huffington Post in Eating As Though the Environment Mattered presents how immense inefficiencies in the production of animal meat for human consumption cause environmental degradation of cathostrophic proportions. According to the article, Eating Meat Causes More Global Warming Than Everything Else Combined.”

On the topic of the natural environment, here are Five Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste from Civil Eats.

In a recent report, World Health Organization (WHO) warns that common, everyday chemicals may be causing cancer, asthma, birth defects and reduced fertility.

Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner report on how Your Body Is a Corporate Test Tube or “How Americans Became Exposed to Biohazards in the Greatest Uncontrolled Experiment Ever Launched.”

Did you know that U.S. Taxpayers (your tax money) are footing bill that promotes (or rather forces on) controversial biotech crops (GMOs) developed by Monsanto and other seed makers abroad?

Although there has been much progress, the use tobacco continues to be a significant health hazard. According to CDC, “Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.” Hence the question from Michele Simon, a feverish public health lawyer and advocate, as to When Will FDA Stand Up to Big Tobacco?

According to AlterNet, “Reliable sources in Washington D.C. have informed the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) that Monsanto has begun secretly lobbying its Congressional allies to attach one or more Monsanto Riders or amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill that would preempt or prohibit states from requiring labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods(GMOs). To read more about it, view How Monsanto Is Using Cronies in Congress to Take Away States’ Rights to Label Genetically Modified Foods?

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Dodgy food practices, children and chemicals, coconut oil and others from the week-end readings

Tom Philpott from Mother Jones enlightens us on 7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here (the US). (Warning: your hair will stand up)

Over 5000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems, according to reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).  The Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States just published a report revealing the chemicals.

Natural Society describes the many benefits of … see for yourself.

Jill Richardson in her article, The Price of Our Fertilizer Addiction, in Other Words, describes the benefits of organic farming and suggests that “Compared to the lifetime of grieving ahead for the people of West, Texas, a few years of reduced crop yields is a small price to pay for converting from “conventional” to organic farming.”

As written previously, studies in Europe, Russia, and other countries are showing that genetically modified food (GMOs) cause serious health problems in laboratory mice and rats. In Food Revolution Network, Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food. The article explains that “In 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium of GM foods, safety testing and labeling. Their review of the available literature at the time noted that animals show serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. Monsanto writes “There is no need to test the safety of GM foods”. So long as the engineered protein is safe, foods from GM crops are substantially equivalent and they cannot pose any health risks.” The US Food and Drug Administration waived all levels of safety testing in 1996 before approving the commercialization of these crops. Nothing more than voluntary research is necessary, and the FDA does not even want to see the results.” (see the whole article for the complete explanation)

It also mentions previously shared report from Earth Open Source, “GMO Myths and Truths.”

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Gardening, Guinea pigs, climate, bees and more from the week-end readings

In Highlands Today, Tracy Hodge lists the benefits of organic gardening.

It is no surprise that we are all Guinea pigs for big agrochemical and pharmaceutical companies. AlterNet’s You Are a Guinea Pig: What Happens to Your Body As It’s Bombarded by Toxic Chemicals in Your Home reiterate the issue by providing explanation and examples.

GMOs continue to be in the news as Washington State GMO labeling initiative to go to the voters in a November ballot. More from the GMOs world. Albeit an older article, from 2008, it eloquently and lucidly delineates the Potential Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods. Worth viewing! And if nothing else, Why GMO Supporters Should Embrace Labels.

It has become wildly acknowledged that factory farming in the US has greatly contributed to global warming (and the destruction of Southeastern, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut coastlines). OCS reminds about Climate Chaos: Boycott Genetically Engineered and Factory-Farmed Foods. As the article points out, “Traditionally conservative World Bank scientists estimated in 2009 that animal farming worldwide emits at least 51 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses every year.”

Bees – the very basic of life propagation – in the USA continue to suffer. While Europe Bans Bee-Harming Pesticides, US Keeps Spraying. And ‘Victory for bees’ as European Union bans neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for destroying bee population.

On a positive note, Illinoisans Firmly Reject Bill That Would Allow Fracking in Illinois as “the detrimental effects of fracking are numerous and well documented.”

Also, found in Kitchn, Two Terrific New Podcasts have just become available: Talking With My Mouth Full and Slate’s Table to Farm. And as mentioned in Kitchn (I concur) other good podcasts include Along Good Food, The Splendid Table, America’s Test Kitchen Radio, Spilled Milk, Joy the Baker/Homefries, and The Sporkful.

Beans are a marvel. Now more reasons to enjoy them as 3 Studies Link Beans to Cancer Prevention from Natural Society.

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Roundup, labels, optimal health, local food in school and more from the week-end readings

This should be considered the MOST important news of last week – Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows.

Last Wednesday, “U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.” I discussed the reasons for labeling GMOs on a number of occasions but the press release once again brings up the reasonable arguments for.

More on GMOs and reason for labeling (or rather reasons of not being frighten by labeling as big agribusiness are) comes from Pesticide Action Network North American’s article Don’t worry, GE labeling will not cause world hunger by Marcia Ishii-Eiteman.

Courtesy of Dr. Mercola, here are Top 12 Strategies for Optimizing Your Health.

Bringing local food to schools: a hard nut to crack but it sounds like school cafeterias in Connecticut are on a (slooow) path to receive more local food.  

If you would like your grocery produce to stay fresh two to three times longer than they usually last in your refrigerator or on the counter, see what Kavita Shukla invented.

This may not seem directly related to environment, health or food but that just at the first look. After good health, decent education can be a way to a successful life. The Coming Revolution in Public Education is certainly worth attention.

And finally, Tell Congress to Stop GE Salmon by going following the link from Center for Food Safety (CFS).

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Fruit flies and organics, chemicals, sugar and more from the weekend readings

An article How Monsanto Went From Selling Aspirin to Controlling Our Food Supply from AlterNet based on a report by Food and Water Watch describes how this agrochemical company evolved from producing toxic PBCs (“carcinogenic and harmful to the liver, endocrine system, immune system, reproductive system, developmental system, skin, eye, and brain”) in the 1930s thru manufacturing of the 2,4-D herbicide to production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and its enormous of the seed industry (read “own it”). Read about Monsanto’s tactics of oppressing and threatening farmers; pesticides that have been proven harmful to humans and the environment and much more here.

Human body may not compare to a fruit fly but research on fruit flies can open doors to solve some essential dilemma about today’s diet. New York Times (NYT) article explains how a fruit fly answers questions whether organic food is better than conventional. The articles states that “by nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.”

It is well known then many (in thousands if not more) chemicals on the market today have never been tested for safety. A NYT editorial, A Toothless Law on Toxic Chemicals, reports that “Senators Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat of New Jersey, and Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York, recently introduced a bill — the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 — that would modernize and reform the law, mostly by requiring manufacturers to prove that a chemical is safe before it can be sold.

Elizabeth Renterfrom Natural Society reminds us about the link between sugar and cancer. In her article, Revealing the Connection Between Sugar and Cancer… Again, she notes that “experts agree, sugar is a health destroyer.”

The Nation report enlightens on how franking effects our food supply in “Fracking Our Food Supply.” This is not news but on my list of sharing.

And finally – Michael Pollan has a new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. It is has just been released and I have not yet read but based on the reviews, it sounds terrific. He writes about why cooking is empowering and that “the key predictor of the healthfulness of our diet and the likelihood of whether we are struggling with obesity or chronic disease is who is cooking our food – a human or a corporation.”

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Chemicals, apples, germs, honey and more from the weekend readings

Plenty of interesting articles and editorials reiterate in a refreshing way issues and concerns regarding natural environment, food, health and other matters worth attention.

On chemicals that are part of our daily life – cosmetics, detergents and alike – New York Time (NYT) article, Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested?, enlightens us about no requirement for testing of those chemicals before they are supplied to your store. As the article states, “Unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides, industrial chemicals do not have to be tested before they are put on the market.”

It appears that after all an apple a day may keep the doctor away, and physicians are writing prescriptions for fresh fruit and vegetables. More details in An Apple a Day: Doctors and Organizations Writing a New Nutrition Rx.

A majority of us presumes that most germs in the kitchen are in the sponge, on microwave keypads or around a trash can. But that is not the case. Read Where Germs Hide in Your Kitchen? in NYT to learn about the most contaminated spots in your kitchen. You will be surprised!

It would be terrific if GMOs issues could generate more positive news. No such a thing for the time being. NYT article, Food Politics Crates Rift in Panel on Labeling, writes on a registered dietician, Carole Bartolotto, previously on the panel of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who has been removed from the committee for “pointing out that two of its members had ties to Monsanto, one of the biggest makers of genetically modified seeds” while working on creating policies on genetically modified foods (GMOs).

On the same subject of GMOs, Non-GMO Project is a great resource.

In Food Politics, Marion Nestle explains Why Regulate? Because it works.

A study out of Australia on childhood brain cancer warns that “PARENTS who have their homes professionally treated for termites are twice as likely to have a child with a brain tumor.

I consider chocolate to be one of the miracle of life. Forlornly, however, its future appears rather bleak. In The Future of Chocolate, Maryam Henein write about chocolate’s history, difficulties of growing it and points out that chocolate became a commodity and not a food in recent times. Hence, sustainable supply of chocolate is on the verge of collapse. Genetically modified chocolate is a very scary prospect although very much entertained by scientists from companies like Mars, Hershey, and Nestlé who diligently are working on developing such a product.

Last but not least, in the February 2013 edition of Wired UK, an article explains that, “A laser tool funded by the European Space Agency to measure carbon on Mars has been re-appropriated to detect fake honey.” The issue of honey laundering is not news. As the reports states, “According to a Food Safety News investigation, more than a third of honey consumed in the US has been smuggled from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. To make matters worse, some honey brokers create counterfeit honey using a small amount of real honey, bulked up with sugar, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery (a type of unrefined sugar) and other additives — known as honey laundering.”

There it is. Enough for this time around.

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Monsanto Protection Act

Last week President Obama signed into law a spending bill with a controversial rider (Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735 of HR 933) named the “Monsanto Protection Act” by the critics and activists.  It is important to notice that the provision was added to an essential spending bill without congressional hearings. It now protects Monsanto and its genetically modified creations/foods not only from the United States government including federal courts. The rider says the government must allow the planting of genetically modified crops even if courts rule they pose health risks.

Today, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, issued apologies to the public “stating that the legislation was buried deep within a government spending bill that was required to ‘prevent a government shutdown.” The question remains. Why did she not act sooner before the public fury? Let’s see what happens when the provision expires in six months. In a meantime, all need to voice their dissatisfaction with the bill thru contacting (calling, e-mailing, etc.) the president’s and the legislators’ offices.

For more information, view:

Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act Into Law After Promising GMO Labeling in 2007  by Natural Society

The Monsanto Protection Act? by Democracy Now

Monsanto Teams up with Congress to Shred the Constitution by Appetite for Profit

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Leading to labeling GMOs!

Connecticut may become the first state that mandates labeling of GM (Genetically Modified) Foods. People deserve to be informed and to make their own choices. So lets Just Label It.

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) have never been adequately tested for human consumption. Studies have shown that GMOs may not be as beneficial as originally thought. Research on rats and mice shows that the animals fed on diet using GMOs develop all kinds of pathological signs. Some of them include organs damage, lesions on stomach, disturbances in the functioning of the digestive system, disturbed liver, pancreas, kidneys and testes function, abnormalities in the cells and structures of the small intestine, acute aging, and changes in sex organs among others. These are just few examples; the list continues.

A number of countries all over the world, including China and Russia, require labeling of GMOs.

For excellent GMOs resources, visit GMO Myths and Truths. The report (if chosen to read) is lengthy but exceptionally resourceful and comprehensive. More information can be found by viewing GMO Inside organization, specifically the Resource page.

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Save money while saving planet – 8 ways

An article, “7 (Free!) Ways to Reduce and Reuse” from VegNews describes just that. Here is the list:

  • Eliminate junk mail
  • Sell your used books
  • Find places to recycle just about everything
  • Use pantry items to clean
  • Host a clothing or food swap
  • Reuse everyday items
  • Reuse your fruits and veggies

Adding COMPOSTING completes the list. A number of us live in suburbs in big houses with big yards. There must be somewhere a place to “store” any discardable leftovers.  Visit Eartheasy and read their article on composting, including options of Compost Tumblers. Two big ones stand in one corner of our garden. Additionally, a small container with a lid decorates my kitchen counter. That way I do not need to run to the garden every time I have some scraps. The compost can have several uses not the least enriching your lawn.

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Milk and bread

Speaking of eliminating as much waste as possible… You can make yourself the best breakfast out of stale bread (the most suitable is just ordinary white bread but others taste good as well) and milk (it does not have to fresh but make sure it is not spoiled).  You need:
– one or two slices from a loaf of bread (about 60-70 grams or a bit more than 2 oz) ripped into small pieces or cut into little cubes
– 1 cup of milk
– a pinch of salt (optional)
– a pinch of sugar (optional)

Place bread in a cereal bowl. Bring the milk to simmering on medium heat – watch out to prevent from boiling over. once ready, add to bread. let the bread soak for a couple of minutes. Eat very warm. It is superb!

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Wasted Food

Below is the executive summary of a paper by Dana Gunders from Natural Resources Defense Council. Nothing more needs to be added other than what do we do?

To read the entire paper, follow this link, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.

“Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where organic matter accounts for 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Nutrition is also lost in the mix—food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year 10 at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates. The paper examines the inefficiencies in the U.S. food system from the farm to the fork to the landfill. By identifying food losses at every level of the food supply chain, this report provides the latest recommendations and examples of emerging solutions, such as making “baby carrots” out of carrots too bent (or “curvy”) to meet retail standards. By increasing the efficiency of our food system, we can make better use of our natural resources, provide financial saving opportunities along the entire supply chain, and enhance our ability to meet food demand. The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. This means there was once a time when we wasted far less, and we can get back there again. Doing so will ultimately require a suite of coordinated solutions, including changes in supply-chain operation, enhanced market incentives, increased public awareness and adjustments in consumer behavior.”

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Chocolate is always a good idea

I have been eating chocolate for the longest time. There are many reasons for it. First and foremost, a pure pleasure! Health reasons are also in the picture. Numerous studies have shown that chocolate can help to preserve healthy mind and body. (Check out here, here and here) I consume enormous amounts of it and am always on a look-out to taste new brands, types and flavors. For the most part, it must be dark chocolate, generally a minimum of 70% cocoa solids and up, fair trade and mostly organic. Some of my absolutely favorite brands are:

Recommendations of some of best fancier, sophisticated chocolates can also be found in The Best in the Box in New York Times.

If interested, see also Chocolate to Avoid.

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