Posts Tagged ‘whole foods’

Food Manufacturers Confess They Have No Idea if Their Food is Safe

By Janelle Sorensen
(Thanks to Janelle for her permission to re-post this article.)

I, like many others, have lost track of all the food recalls that have happened in the last 18 months. Pot pies, pizzas, peanuts, tomatoes, egg rolls, spices, flour, and more. The number of illnesses and the amount of food thrown away is staggering.

Fortunately, none of the tainted foods have impacted my kitchen. Our culinary choices thus far have been safe. But, my faith in the FDA, who I once relied on as an invisible guardian watching over my plate, has been shattered. My optimistically naïve belief that food, of all things, should be safe, has gone the way of childhood beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny. And, I’m not just being dramatic – here’s why:

According to an article in the New York Times, “increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients…companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers…”

They don’t know where the ingredients are coming from? Seriously??

Commence paranoia.

Not only are many major manufacturers openly admitting that they’re pretty clueless about what’s in their food, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they’re placing the burden for safety on the consumer. We are now responsible for what’s called “the kill step,” and it’s not clear what that entails. Some companies are resorting to detailed diagrams and “food safety” guides outlining how to heat foods in a microwave and then check the temperature in several locations with a food thermometer. Others advise against using a microwave altogether. Frozen convenience foods suddenly seem very inconvenient.

Even if simply educating people to warm food to an adequate temperature was a reasonable solution, which it’s not, it wouldn’t address non-pathogenic contaminants like the arsenic found in a huge variety of processed foods around the globe a few months back.

What’s a mother to do? I’ve been a loud proponent for whole foods, local and organic when possible, for many years now, but I still have some processed foods in my pantry. I mean, who really makes things like crackers and cereal from scratch? I also buy a lot of frozen veggies – and I’ve never checked to see if I’ve warmed them to 165 degrees.

Clearly, we have problem on our hands. What do you think should be done? Do you think food safety is up to the consumer? Do you think it’s up to the government? What if safer food meant it cost a bit more? Are you willing to pay?

Find more from Janelle Sorensen at Healthy Child Healthy World, WebMD, MomsRising, and on Twitter (@greenandhealthy).

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How to save money at Whole Foods

With food prices skyrocketing, Whole Foods has become known to some as “Whole Paycheck.” The upscale chain has been hit by the slow economy and has seen its profits drop as consumers shop elsewhere.

Not wanting to lose its customers, Whole Foods has come up with a solution. They have “value gurus” who will take customers on a tour of the store and teach them how to save money shopping at Whole Foods – they highlight their own 365 brand, which I personally purchase and for the most part, it’s very good. They have also launch a website called The Whole Deal where customers share their stories.

Some interesting things I did not know about are:
• You get a 10% discount when buying 10 pounds or more of meat and/or fish
• They accept coupons from other stores

Certainly it is not “the” answer, but there are helpful tips nonetheless. Many just say the extra price is worth it (which supports their higher prices, not how to save).

Some comments are customers have a piece of mind knowing they can shop with confidence. This is true for nearly all of the store, but if you shop the body care section, I would encourage you to read labels there. I am avoiding PEG-ingredients when at all possible (and it IS possible) as well as fragrance, dioxanes, phthalates and other things that are still commonly found even in natural and organic products.

But overall, good job Whole Foods for sharing tricks for saving $$ in your stores and allowing customers to share their experience in saving money as well.

Grass-fed beef is healthier

Beef has typically been flagged as unhealthy with high saturated fat and total fat content, not to mention high amounts of cholesterol. But grass-fed beef devotees claim it is as low in fat as skinless chicken breasts and even contains the same omega-3 compounds as fish.

Health experts tend to agree. 

“A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2006 found that compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is lower in both saturated and total fat, has higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, and “sometimes” higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.

According to the study, “The three omega-3 fatty acids — the so-called beneficial fatty acids — have been shown in many studies to improve health and prevent disease in humans.”

“It has 100 percent the same health benefits as salmon,” Castonguay said.”

Today, most cattle are grain fed and even some grass-fed cattle are given grain in the weeks before slaughtering.


Not only is grass-fed cattle better for human health compared to grain-fed cattle, it’s also better for the environment. Typically the grain is treated with pesticides, which we ingest through the beef and through drinking water as pesticides run off the fields and into our water ways.


Additionally, grass-fed cattle are not typically given antibiotics. Animals grassing in the pasture rarely get sick, while grain-fed cattle that spend their days in confined and crowded feed lots, often do get sick.


This also brings up the point that grass-fed cattle are more likely to be raised and live in more humane and healthy conditions.


Grass-fed beef is not much more expensive than grain-fed beef, and it’s naturally leaner. In my area, the difference is roughly 50 cents per pound. If you take into consideration grass-fed is naturally leaner, then comparing that way, there is very little difference in price.


We have been eating grass-fed beef for over a year, and now I am glad we made the switch when we did.


Whole Foods recalls beef after customers get sick

Whole Foods recalled all fresh ground beef sold between June 2 and Aug. 6 at its stores in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Whole Foods realizes there was a system breakdown and it taking means to ensure this will not happen again. Read the NY Times article.

This is troubling. I expect more out of Whole Foods. Their private label 365 brand canned food is lined with BPA, their 365 brand body care line contains dioxanes (a carcinogen) and they do not mention this on their packaging and have no plans to make a change. On the latter, they are involved in a law suit in California, where its required to have proper package labeling for products containing dioxanes.    

So disappointing, Whole Foods. I am seriously rethinking my loyalty now. I want to be able to go to a store where I do not have to worry about pesticides, dioxanes, e-coli, etc. Even now, I still need to research and read product labels before picking anything up off the shelves no matter where I shop. I did feel safer with WF’s produce and meat, but that system has an obvious breakdown. Sure no one is perfect, but WF has certainly had it’s fair share of negatives in the very recent past. I hope they clean up their act and live up to consumer expectations.


Is your organic food really organic?

“When you buy food with a “USDA organic” label, do you know what you’re getting? Now is a good time to ask such a question, as the USDA just announced Monday it was putting 15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers they audited on probation, allowing them 12 months to make corrections or lose their accreditation. At the heart of the audit for several certifiers were imported foods and ingredients from other countries, including China.” Read the entire article here.

Well, that comes as no surprise – Chinese imports are not up to standards. The main problem here is China does not allow foreign inspectors, and since they have already proven they cannot be trusted to made toys without lead, why in the world would we trust them to meet, or preferably exceed, USDA standards for organic food.

The article states the best way to get truly organic food is from a local farmer where you can visit the farm yourself. Either way, purchasing from the local farmers market is a good thing. You support local agriculture and reduce the amount of pollution that goes into the air when this produce needs to be transported across the country. Many local farmers also go beyond produce and offer a variety of meats, milk and eggs.

While I shop at Whole Foods each week, I am definitely going to start being more serious about going to the local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Plus, the ones in my city go beyond produce stands and have entertainment, stands with other homemade goods and more. So I am certain my 2 year old will also have fun and something we will be able to enjoy as a family.

I am also going to sign us up (well hope to) for the farm co-op. I have been wanting to do this for some time, but was concerned if we would be able to eat everything before it went bad. And with the rising cost of food, now would be a good time to sign on up.

We have also planted a small garden, so I KNOW that will be organic, but I can’t grow everything!

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Canned food without bisphenol A

While this artile is probably not exclusive of all canned food manufacturers, it does list a few who realize the dangers of BPA and have opted for alternatives. Companies such as Eden Foods, an organic company, have cans that are BPA-free. The cans only cost them a little more than 2 cents more per can over the BPA-tainted ones. Granted their canned food is expensive, at about $3.50 per can at my local Whole Foods.

I personally am avoiding canned foods as much as absolutely possible. I prefer frozen veggies anyway and fresh fruit, so other than the occassional refried beans to marry with our tacos, I have found I do not even miss using canned food. While fresh fruit takes a little more work to prepare, the taste is certainly worth it. And frozen veggies are just as easy as canned (and the organic versions are very affordable).

But should you still want canned versions that are BPA-free, check out this article for the few options available.


BPA in Mott’s applesauce containers

Flip over one of Mott’s single-serve applesauce containers and you may find the dreaded #7. I just called Mott’s and they confirmed they do use #7 polycarbonate for some applesauce containers including those in the organic line, but that #1 is also used. #7 of course is polycarbonate, containing bisphenol-a or BPA, a toxic substance known to cause cancer and other serious health problems (see below under “What is Bisphenol A?”.

Mott’s maintains the FDA says #7 is safe, but we know better, don’t we! So, my advice is to either avoid Mott’s (and possibly all single serve applesauce and fruit) or check the bottom each and every time you make a purchase to make sure you are not selecting a #7 container. Sure is frustrating, but hopefully the FDA will come to their senses soon and ban this toxic substance.

I have seen Whole Foods Kids single-serve applesauce in #5 and #7 containers, so it’s an issue apparently not limited to Mott’s. Earth’s Best may also pose the same dilemma.

What is Bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A is a harmful chemical found in polycarbonate plastic which is used to make many popular baby bottles and sippy cups, among other things. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that mimics the action of the human hormone estrogen, which alters our body’s natural pattern. BPA can leach from polycarbonate plastic, usually a hard, clear plastic that is common of many products we use everyday. Effects at even low BPA exposure include prostate cancer, breast cancer, early puberty onset, alterations in gender-specific behavior, decreased sperm count, affects on fertility, behavioral effects including hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, impaired learning and other changes in behavior, and other problems.

Many companies use this chemical in their packaging including cans, soda cans, and plastic food containers. There is a risk of absorbing this chemical through the use of containing foods and liquids but can also leech into our water systems through landfills.

Many leading experts argue that the use of Bisphenol is safe to the human public but research may begin to further prove otherwise. No level of BPA has been deemed as safe by independent research.

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