Thursday, May 7, 2015

Below are two more healthy recipes for you to try out! These two are dinner meals but can be easily refrigerated and eaten as for lunch the next day as well.

Chicken, Rice, Vegetable Salad

2 cups chopped/shredded chicken [cooked in chicken or vegetable broth]
1 ½ cups brown rice [also cooked in broth]
2 ears white corn on cob [sliced off]
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions chopped
12-16 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 jalapeno, diced fine
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

3 T. balsamic or cider vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1-2 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime


Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix vinaigrette ingredients separately and then pour over salad. Refrigerate.

Couscous Salad

   • 3 (6 ounce) packages garlic and herb [or parmesan] couscous mix
   • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
   • 1 (5 ounce) jar pitted kalamata olives, halved
   • 1 cup mixed bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange), diced
   • 1 cucumber, sliced and then halved
   • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
   • 1 (8 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
   • 1/2 cup Greek vinaigrette salad dressing


1.     Cook couscous according to package directions. Transfer to a large serving bowl to cool. Stir to break up clusters of couscous.
2.     When the couscous has cooled to room temperature, mix in tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, cucumber, parsley, and feta. Gradually stir vinaigrette into couscous until you arrive at desired moistness.

Both recipes were delicious and satisfying, I highly recommend them. (The couscous salad was my favorite!).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Local Honey: Does it REALLY Prevent Allergies??

The debate on whether eating local honey helps with seasonal allergies is one that is debated about many people, both by professionals and those who honey lovers. Some professionals believe that eating local honey does not help build up immunity to seasonal pollen because pollen is a dust that irritates the nose rather than something we ingest. However, people who practice eating honey to prevent allergies says otherwise. Honey contains a variety of the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence. Since the concentration of pollen spores found in honey is low -- compared to, say, sniffing a flower directly -- then the production of antibodies shouldn't trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. Ideally, the honey-eater won't have any reaction at all. But of course, eating honey as a remedy for allergies has it's drawbacks. The honey can cause allergic reactions depending on the dose, or depending on how an individual's immune system reacts.

If a regimen is undertaken, however, local honey is generally accepted as the best variety to use. Local honey is produced by bees usually within a few miles of where the person eating the honey lives. There's no real rule of thumb on how local the honey has to be, but users suggest the closer, the better.

Read more on the opposition.
Read more on the movement.

Listeria Outbreak 2015

In the past few weeks, there have been numerous cases of listeria within Blue Bell products. This has caused a huge scare especially to people who have been buying Blue Bell products for years. However, according to the CDC, the listeria contamination dates back to 2010. According to statistics, there have been 23 states infected with this disease. Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections among young children and elderly people who have weak immune systems. As of current, there have been three deaths in Kansas directly linked to the outbreak. Unfortunately, the origin of the outbreak of the disease remains unknown. Blue Bell CEO President Paul Kruse has promised to not sell any products that are unsafe to the population.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


        For years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided strict rules on what can and cannot be used in the production of organic food. The national list was created by the USDA, with the help of the National Organic Standards Board(NOSB). It states all of the substances that may or may not be used. To view the official list, click here. Every five years, the "sunset process" occurs. During this time, all of the substances are reviewed to see if any changes should be made based on new research that has taken place over the years. Another way to add or remove and item is if an organization or individual petitions for a change. All suggestions are reviewed by the NOSB, who can then make recommendations to the USDA if necessary.

        According to fifteen farmer, consumer, environmental, and certification groups, the USDA illegally changed one of their standards, so the groups filed a lawsuit. The USDA decided to allow certain chemicals in organic food. The only way to get this changed is if a citizen board chooses to step and vote these chemicals off the national list. The groups are frustrated and it seems as if no food is safe. Those who regularly buy organic products are being mislead. They are paying a lot and do not even know the USDA's regulations. Consumers deserve to be protected from all chemicals and should have no hesitations when buying organic. To learn more about the ongoing case visit here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Evaluating Grocery Stores:
According to our poll on this blog, the majority of you said you prefer Publix. In reference to food and health, this is the more moderate choice. We visited Whole Foods and Walmart, and they are seen as the two extreme ends of the supermarket spectrum. As obesity has become a more serious issue in the United States over the past two decades, grocery stores have received greater attention because they link the consumer and the products they eat. Grocery stores have the potential to improve the health of Americans. Although many Americans say that they are interested in healthy options in food stores, the priorities of shoppers are quality, taste, and price. The marketing of products has affected the way consumed purchase foods. Products, price, placement, and promotion are the four “mix marketing” categories that are taken into account in marketing in grocery stores. Product packaging and size affect the purchase and consumption of a product. Food prices can differ because of the elasticity of prices, or the increase in sales from manipulating a factor. For the placements of foods in grocery stores, products on facing-aisle and end -of-aisle displays have an increase in purchase. In Jane E. Brody’s review on Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manuel,” Brody restates Pollan’s claim to shop on the periphery of the store because the center aisles have the more unhealthy and processed food choices. Food promotions are linked to trade deals, featured advertising, displays, and point-of-purchase information.
In our investigative adventure featured in the video, we visited Walmart and Whole Foods. We found that while Whole Foods has healthier and better quality options, it is far more expensive than Walmart. Appealing to the mix marketing categories, the Walmart aisle displays show cheap and unhealthy foods that consumers would be attracted to. At Whole Foods there was a wider selection of foods on the periphery of the store than at Walmart. In both stores the fresh foods and produce were right by the entrance in order to appeal to the consumer who prefers healthier food options. Due to the consumer’s interest in local and healthier food options, Walmart advertises their locally grown produce. Grocery stores have many strategies in order to attract consumers that are not well known. Increasing our awareness of these strategies can help consumers make smarter and safer purchases.

Helpful tips for spending less and eating healthier at a grocery store:
Make a list beforehand to not make any unplanned purchases
Do not shop at the grocery store on an empty stomach
Shop the periphery of the supermarket
Avoid foods advertised on television

For more information check out:

Is It Local?:
McDonalds is one of the leading fast food industries on the planet. It has more than 36,000 restaurants that serves about 69 million people and over 100 countries a day. These astronomically high numbers are almost hard to comprehend but what is even more shocking is that McDonalds only used four suppliers. Only four suppliers are needed to feed 69 million people around the world. Gavina Gourmet Coffee, Lopez Foods, Keystones Foods, and 100 Circle Farms is all that necessary to feed McDonalds millions of customers. This mass production of food is only possible with mechanical and scientific enhancements to completely alter our food. These suppliers are placed all around the world from Latin America to all across the the U.S. This shows us how far in fact that our fast food travels. We used to not wonder where our food was actually coming from but now we are forced to ask is it local? or did this burger travel millions of miles to find its way to my plate?

Cameron and I decided to evaluate grocery stores and restaurants to ask the question Is it local? We found the answer is mostly no. We traveled from Walmart to Whole Foods and Farm Burger to McDonalds. We choose these certain grocery stores and restaurants to showcase their similarities and differences.

Fun Fact: According to Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal studies have shown McDonald's' iconic golden arches are recognized by more people than the cross.

For More Information Look at:

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Eating healthy can be overwhelming. The trouble is often: where to start? The answer: at the store. When I originally went to buy the ingredients necessary to create a delicious and healthy meal I found that Kroger and Publix lack the essentials. The next stop was Whole Foods, where I was able to easily complete my grocery list.

Below are two quick recipes that can help you start eating healthy today!

The first recipe I tried was a simple smoothie.

<5 minutes

2 cups of spinach
One banana
One orange
1 1/2 cups of Organic Greek Yogurt

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth! (Yes it's that easy)

When I completed this breakfast or snack smoothie I was concerned about the taste due to its green hue, however when I tasted it I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. This recipe is a must try.

The second recipe I tried is a perfect (and easy) lunch or dinner meal, a Tri-Color Pasta Salad with Tuna.

15 minutes

1/4 cup tri-color brown rice fusilli or rotini pasta
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed)
1 tsp olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 oz BPA-free unsalted canned tuna, in water
1/4 cup mixed baby greens
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 loosely packed cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
optional Mason Jar

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and spread pasta on a small baking sheet to cool.
Prepare dressing: In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, Italian seasoning and 2 tsp water and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat immediately and add sun-dried tomatoes.
Whisk in oil and salt and pepper.
Set aside to cool slightly.
Build salad: Add dressing to bottom of a Mason Jar. Layer tuna, pasta, greens, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, if desired.
Eat up or cover with lid and refrigerate.

This dish is both tasty and filling. Another must try, it is extremely easy to create but tastes like an hour of work.

I hope the recipes above are informative and helpful in your endeavors to eat healthy!

Below are two links to websites with a multitude of similarly easy but healthy and delicious recipes for you to try:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Organic vs. Natural

What is Organic?
In order for products to be classified as organic, they must meet specific criteria set by the USDA. When you purchase organic, you are guaranteed that there was no use of toxic persistent pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, sludge, or irradiation in the process of making your food. Other requirements include conditions on animal welfare, allowable materials, inspections, and records on how the product is transferred from a farm to your table. All of these restrictions are set to keep the public healthy. Although some aspects are not proven to be dangerous, like GMOs, the risk is still there. Pesticides present a large possibility of health problems. The list below contains the top 12 fruits and vegetable thats on average, contain the highest pesticide levels. Just to be safe, buy organic!
To learn more visit:

What is Natural?
According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, around 60% of people claimed that while shopping at the grocery store, they looked for food labeled "natural". Out of these 1,000 people, most of them are probably unaware of what the label really means. To read more about this study, click here. The FDA has not yet developed strict rules on what can and cannot be considered "natural". Pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, sludge, and irradiation are all allowed in natural products. When you see the word natural, all it implies is that there are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Animal welfare and pollution have no effect on whether or not something is labeled natural. To learn more, visit here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eat. Buy. Be Local.

What is Eating Local?
Eating local means the consumer eats products that is grown or produced within a certain area, but how big that area is, is up to the consumer. Local food is grown and harvested at farms closer to the intended customers, and it is distributed over much shorter distances. Being local does not necessarily mean be organic, but many local farmers tend to be organic or at least concise of what they do to their food.

Read More.

What are the Benefits of Eating Local?
Eating local has a multitude of benefits, but there are 12 main reasons to become a "locavore."

  1. Freshness- Local food doesn't have to travel as far, so the time between harvest and purchase are much shorter.
  2. Taste- Local produce is picked at the peak time, instead of earlier as many in grocery stores are, meaning when you eat it is still ripe. Plus, food picked at the right time tastes better. 
  3. Nutrition- The less time between harvest and purchase, the more complete the nutritional value of the food is.
  4. Purity- Many local farmers either use no pesticides and fungicides, but if they do, many farmers try to use more natural options. Locally grown foods lessen the likelihood of food-born pathogens by keeping the path between grower and consumer short.
  5. Regional Economic Health- Buying locally keeps the money in the community.
  6. Variety- Due to the smaller time between harvest and purchase, farmers are allowed to grow more varieties of food. Non-local farmers are limited to what they can grow because only a few types will last long enough between  harvest and purchase. 
  7. Soil Stewardship- Conventional farming practices are rapidly depleting topsoil fertility. Local farmers, especially organic, take care of the soil while farming 
  8. Energy Conservation- Closer to their consumers, farmers have to use less fuel to transport their goods.
  9. Environmental Protection- Less contamination soil, air, and water.
  10. Cost- Local foods eliminate shipping costs and some other "hidden" costs that conventional food traditionally have. 
  11. A Step Toward Regional Self-Reliance- Relying on food that is grown far away brings risks that many don't consider. If the region we rely on has a supply disruption then we will be left with nothing. Being local means we have the ability to keep the food at hand, providing job opportunities, and enabling us to say how we want our food grown. 
  12. Passing on the Stewardship Ethic- Every time you buy local or tell someone about being local, you raise awareness of the options available, and you raise conciseness about what we eat.
Read More.  More>>

Local Food vs. Conventional Food
In today's food market, the conventional food system is centralized, industrialized, and complex almost to the point of absurdity. Food has  to go from the farmer, travel a few hundred or thousand miles to get to the processing plant, be processed, then be packed and loaded onto the shipping containers, then be transported to a distributing center, then finally, arrive at the grocery store. On average, "produce in the conventional system, a national network using semitrailer trucks to haul food to large grocery stores, traveled an average of 1,518 miles."

Local foods on the other hand goes from the farmer, then travel at most a 100 miles to market. On average, "locally sourced food traveled an average of just 44.6 miles."

Distance between farm to plate is not the only reason why one would find local foods better than conventional. With conventional foods, the customer would have to jump through so many hoops to find where their food comes from. On the other hand, local foods tell you where they are from, or they are sold by the farmer them self. Most local farmers or businesses don't mind you giving them a call to ask them about their products because most love the fact that you have taken interest in what is in you food. That's one thing that's really great about local food,  you can actually know your farmer and know what they're doing to your food.

Read more on the argument here.

How to Eat Local?
There are 10 ways to eat locally:

  1. Learn What's in Season- Local foods aren't always going to be in season, so finding out what is available can push you to try new things. 
  2. Shop at Farmer's Markets- Farmer's Markets label where their food is from, so it is easy to figure out where your food is coming from.
  3. Join a Community Supported Agriculture- This means you buy a share in a farm or a group of farms, and in return, the farm will send you the best produce they have to offer. 
  4. Shop at Stores that Label Food Origins- Grocery stores are increasingly beginning to label where their meat and seafood is coming from. If your store doesn't have labels, you can ask for them. 
  5. Shop the Perimeter of Grocery Stores- Shopping the perimeter of grocery stores means your avoid most of the processed food. You will find produce, meat, seafood, and dairy on the perimeter.
  6. Plant a Garden- Plating a garden is the easiest way to eat locally. In your garden you know what you are growing, what you are putting into your garden and on your food, and gardening only takes a little time and space.  
  7. Visit U-Picks and Farm Stands- U-Picks are farms that allow you to come and pick your own produce. Farm stands may be hard to find in the city, but if you ever pass one, stop and buy produce that is freshly picked.
  8. Chose Restaurants that Source Locally- Going to restaurants that source locally will provide support to your local farmers. 
  9. Frequent Locally-Owned Food Producers- Buying from artisans and local food producers shows and provides support. These places also usually have access to things that can't be grown at home. 
  10. Buy Family Farmed or Fair Trade Products when Local Food is Unavailable- Eating local can be hard sometimes, but if you shop smart and buy products that were made in ethical ways, you are supporting a good cause. 
Read More.

Eating Locally in Atlanta, Georgia
When the states are ranked from best to worst states to eat local in, Georgia doesn't do to well. With Vermont in 1st place and Texas in last, Georgia falls at 44th place. This means Georgia is not very proactive in being a local food community. Despite that ranking, it is not impossible or even that hard to eat locally in Atlanta. There are plenty of neighborhood farmers markets, like Brookhaven or Grant Park, that occur in the warmer months, usually March to October. There are also farmers markets across Atlanta that provide groceries with local food options.

  • State Rankings here

You can also learn from and visit sites owned by the Atlanta Local Food Initiative. It was created in 2005 with the goal of "Building a local food system that enhances human health, promotes environmental renewal, fosters local economies, and links rural and urban communities." 

From Google Maps- All farmers markets in Atlanta

-Isabelle L.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

FDA Mandates

Since its establishment on June 6th 1906, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been the longest standing regulatory consumer program in America. Although the responsibilities of the FDA have evolved over the years, the program’s mission has remained steadfast: public safety through implemented mandates. However, the FDA has been the center of severe, bipartisan criticism due to its waning adherence to principles that have been intact for over 100 years. The purpose of this post is to bring light to the issues of the FDA and explore how they have impacted American society.
Read more about the history of the FDA here.  

FDA Chief: Who’s in Charge?
On February 5th 2015, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced that after 6 years, she would be stepping down from leader of the agency. Some of her accomplishments include but are not limited to: modernizing food safety, improving the review process for medical drugs and strengthening anti-tobacco efforts. The FDA’s former chief scientist Stephen Ostroff is now the head commissioner. Hamburg explained confidently, “While there is still work ahead (and there always will be), I know that I am leaving the agency well-positioned to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public with great success." We hope Stephen Ostroff can leave the same legacy that Hamburg did as he takes on his new position in American society.

Image link.               Image link.
Read the full CNN report on Hamburg here.  

Food Scares and FDA Inspections:
The FDA food safety inspections plummeted 47% between 2003-2006 according to the Associated Press. In 2007, the FDA was conducting half the amount of food inspections it had been three years earlier. Additional reports included:

-There are 12 percent fewer FDA employees in field offices who concentrate on food issues.
-Safety tests for U.S.-produced food have dropped nearly 75 percent, from 9,748 in 2003 to 2,455 last year, according to the agency's own statistics.
-After the Sept. 11 attacks, the FDA, at the urging of Congress, increased the number of food inspectors and inspections amid fears that the nation's food system was vulnerable to terrorists. Inspectors and inspections spiked in 2003, but now both have fallen enough to erase the gains.
Reports from the Associated Press. Full report.  

There have been countless recalls and scares due to faulty FDA regulations. These include salmonella in peanut butter, E-Coli in spinach, and many more. In April of 2015, there was a listeria outbreak in the popular ice cream brand, Blue Bell. Contaminated Blue Bell products have been linked to eight listeria illnesses in Kansas and Texas and in which 3 people have died. In addition to the recall of Blue Bell products, the hummus brand Sabra, has recalled some of its products after a product sample in Michigan tested positive for listeria. Fortunately, there have been no illnesses connected to the Sabra products. While it is not known for certain, investigators believe that contamination may have been caused by dirty equipment or unsanitary plant conditions.

Read full article about the listeria outbreak here. 

Fix the FDA:

The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) is an agency based on the protection of American foods. Watch the short video above which features Senior Scientist Sarah Janssen MD, PhD, MPH, who discusses reforms needed within the FDA in order to ensure better safety among all Americans.

The NRDC prides itself on educating Americans about what is in the food they are consuming. Released in November 2014, the NRDC comprised an article called Raising Resistance, in which the use of antibiotics in livestock and its direct link to human health is explored. This article includes charts about the increasing use of antibiotics, alternatives to antibiotics, and the effects on human health if the trend continues.
Read Raising Resistance here. Read more about the NRDC here.

Future of the FDA:
In January of 2011, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in response to the slew of consecutive FDA blunders which have resulted in the CDC’s estimate of 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths. Economically, it is estimated that the industrial losses, especially farmers, amount to over 75 billion per year.
The FSMA rules which regulate food safety practices reach:
-Commercial Food Handlers
-Government Partners
In 2015, the agency obtained an additional $27.5 million in budget authority. Furthermore, President Obama has requested an additional $109.5 million of new budget in his FY 2016 Budget Request.
Read the FSMA Mandate and Background.

Conspiracy Theory:
In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle announced a new policy regarding the use of GMO’s in America’s food supply. It has since been the cause of over 80% of food contamination in United State’s grocery stores. There has been speculation that this began what is known as Agenda 21, an action plan designed at a United Nations summit with a goal to regulate the world’s population. Read more here, and here.
GMO Announcement (May 1992)