Organic fish and shellfish are closer to becoming reality in the U.S., but probably not in time for dinner tonight.
The USDA has announced that it will propose standards for organic farmed fish and shellfish products, but the process could take years before regulations and certifications are in place.
“Organic seafood would be welcome news for the increasing number of organic shoppers — and for retailers that have profited from their higher prices,” reports ABCNews. “It could also help the U.S. farmed fish industry find a premium as it struggles to compete against cheaper imports.”
A number of fish and shellfish varieties likely to fall under the organic fish labeling include salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams.
The European Union and Canada already have organic aquaculture programs in place; and are even exporting organic fish and shellfish products to the U.S. But retailers, including Whole Foods Market, say they’ll wait for the organic certification before labeling any seafood as organic.
“It's still unclear if U.S. standards can be successful,” reports ABC. “Many in the farmed fish industry say they expect that the requirements for fish feed may be so strict as to be financially prohibitive.”
Questions surround the diets fed to farmed fish labeled as organic and whether or not ocean cages known as net pens would be permissible. Since many fish eat other fish, creating an organic supply chain could prove to be challenging, if not impossible, for an organic fish industry.
Further conflating the issue, some environmental groups criticize the recommendations “for suggesting that at first a quarter of the fish feed could be from sustainably wild-caught — but not organic — fish,” reports ABC. “A fish can't be organic, they argue, if it doesn't eat 100 percent organic feed,” a similarly contentious issue with organic animal products.
For ocean-raised fish, the issue of contamination is a big concern. "What we're saying is this isn't organic," Lisa Bunin of the Center for Food Safety told the AP.
With the proper safeguards in place though, organic aquaculture could help consumers make safe seafood choices at a time when concern and confusion about seafood options is widespread.
Interest in organic foods continues to rise across the U.S. as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the growth of certified organic operations in the U.S. and around the world.
According to the USDA, the U.S. now boasts 19,474 certified organic operations and a total of 27,814 worldwide. That’s more than a five percent increase over the last year. “Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent,” the USDA notes on its website.
"As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "USDA tools and resources have created opportunities for organic farmers and more options for organic consumers. Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."
The USDA says its committed the organic community of growers and distributors with the proper resources to aid in further category growth. “Along with programs to support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and integrated pest management, USDA administers organic certification cost share programs to offset the costs of organic certification for U.S. producers and handlers nationwide,” the agency explained on its website. “Now, USDA is using funding from the 2014 Farm Bill to develop the Organic Integrity Database, a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis.”
According to the USDA, the upgraded system will make it easy for anyone to confirm the organic certification status of a product by using the online tools.
The Organic Integrity Database will launch in September.
If you haven’t fallen in love with kale chips yet, prepare to have this kale chips recipe change all that for good. Loaded with good-for-you ingredients (they’re kale chips after all!), this recipe gets a superfood burst with powdered organic greens.
This recipe uses our very own mustHave greens (which has dried kale in it!)but you can use any dried greens in this recipe, or leave them out entirely if you want a more traditional tasting cheesy kale chips recipe. But if you do want to make this snack as healthy as possible, we do recommend using the greens.
Makes about 6 servings
1 large bunch curly green kale
1 cup cashews soaked in water for at least 5 hours (save soak water)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon mustHave greens or other organic greens powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
*optional 1 teaspoon cayenne powder if you like spicy
If baking in oven, preheat to 275° F.
Wash and dry kale well. Chop into large 2 –inch pieces and set aside.
In a blender, combine all other ingredients except for the cashew soak water. Add water a little at a time until the mixture resembles a cheese sauce like consistency.
If baking, spread kale pieces onto lightly oiled baking sheet and spoon cheese sauce onto each “chip.” You can be generous here; a thick coating will hold up and bring a lot of flavor to your chips. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, flipping the chips about halfway through.
If using a dehydrator, assemble the kale onto the dehydrator trays and spoon the cheese sauce mixture over the kale as stated above. Dehydrate at 130° F for about 10-12 hours or until crispy.
Kale chips image via julesstonesoup
Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of GOOP, the upscale lifestyle website, has taken on the Food Bank NYC food stamps challenge presented to her by chef Mario Batali.
For one week, Paltrow will only eat what she can purchase with her food stamps equivalent in funds. It comes out to about $1.38 per meal ($29 for her for the whole week).
If it seems like a gimmick, it certainly is, but for an important cause: Paltrow, like Batali, aims to bring attention to the SNAP program, which millions of Americans rely on daily to not only feed themselves, but their families, too.
Paltrow has started documenting what she’s eating, which, not surprisingly, includes inexpensive foods such as eggs, beans, rice and a variety of vegetables and fruits including jalapeno peppers, romaine lettuce and limes.
Her efforts though have been criticized, mainly because the A-list actress is a multi-millionaire who can certainly afford to buy and eat whatever she wants (and will presumably do so after the challenge ends), but she can also afford to feed quite a few families as well, without it making a big dent in her bank account.
But is her move a slap in the face of SNAP subscribers or is it helping to deliver an important message to other Americans? Anyone, celebrity or not, can take the Food Bank NYC Challenge and live off of the $29 a week. According to the rules, you can use coupons when shopping, but you can’t eat food given to you by others or eat food you already have in the house before the challenge started.
“For one week, walk in someone else’s shoes,” chef Mario Batali said in the Food Bank challenge video. “Knowledge is power, and by truly understanding what our friends are going through, we will be better equipped to find solutions.”
Image via yausseur
Spring is here and that means stepping out from the dark, dusty den you holed up in over the winter and getting some fresh air. It also hopefully means being more active than you’ve been in a long while. But don’t reach for the coffee to boost your energy. Grab the green foods, especially those loaded with spirulina benefits.
Spirulina may sound like the name of a Disney princess, but it’s actually an algae. While that probably doesn't sound as glamorous as wearing ball gowns and crowns, it’s actually quite an exceptional food, worthy of royal treatment.
Per a three-gram serving, spirulina can contain 3900 percent more beta carotene than the same amount of carrots, 2300 percent more iron than spinach, 300 percent more calcium than whole milk and 375 percent more protein than tofu. All in a little green algae! No wonder it's one of the featured ingredients in our mustHave greens!
A serving of spirulina has more than 30 times the antioxidant potency of blueberries and more than 60 times the potency of spinach.
Granted, it’s not going to taste as yummy as a handful of fresh blueberries, but spirulina can actually taste pretty great. You can mix a serving of spirulina into a glass of juice, nondairy milk or even water, or blend it into your favorite smoothie recipe for a grassy, fresh taste. It’s also great in other recipes like raw brownies or energy bars.
Spirulina’s benefits and nutrient density makes it a perfect energy food without the crash of sugary or caffeinated food products.
According to Dr. Oz, spirulina boosts energy “by unlocking sugar from your cells so it does not get stored as fat.” So, not only does that make spirulina a healthy energizing food, it appears it’s also an excellent weight loss food as well! Dr. Oz recommends mixing one teaspoon of spirulina with 12 ounces fresh lime juice and freezing in ice cube trays. Then you can add the frozen energy cubes to juices, water or blend into smoothies.
Image via land_camera
Lowe’s is giving some much-needed love and respect to the nation’s honeybees. The home improvement retail giant says it’s going to phase out products that contain the controversial class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, known for being a threat to honeybees and other important pollinators.
Neonics have been linked to colony collapse disorder, a mysterious deadly condition that causes honeybees to abandon their hives. Billions of bees have died from the condition in recent years and scientists are scrambling to find ways to save these important pollinators. Several theories exist about the cause of colony collapse disorder, and one of the most convincing is the damage caused by pesticides, particularly neonics.
Lowe’s made the announcement after the EPA said it will refuse to issue new permits for use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The EU has already banned several types of neonic pesticides and recently released a report calling them more harmful to the environment than previously thought.
According to NBC News, Lowe's also said that it would work with growers to "eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants we sell." Home Depot made a similar announcement last summer that it would label plants that had been treated with neonicotinoids. It has not announced a similar plan to discontinue the sale of neonic products.
“We commend Lowe’s for taking a leadership position on this critical issue,” Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and Director of Corporate Engagement at Domini Social Investments, said in a statement. “Sales of neonic-containing products may be exacerbating a critical systemic risk – alarming declines in honeybees and wild pollinators that support our food systems. As investors and as human beings, we all depend upon pollinators. We believe Lowe’s actions will help protect an irreplaceable resource.”
Honeybees pollinate important food crops—about one in three bites of food come via honeybees. Without their important role in our food system, food prices could skyrocket and some foods could even become obsolete.
Exercise is critical to a healthy life. No one would argue that point, right? But just how much exercise we need is a point that always seems to be argued. And what’s more, the benefits of intense workouts have also been hot topics for debate recently. Well now, new research points to significant benefits to vigorous exercise.
According to the research, published in the recent issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that people who exercised “vigorously” for 30 percent of their workout time, had a nine percent decreased risk of early death, and people who exercised vigorously more than 30 percent of the time reduced their risk by as much as 13 percent.
Researcher out of James Cook University and the University of Sydney tracked the health of more than 200,000 subjects age 45 and older over the course of nearly seven years, controlling for a number of health and lifestyle factors.
“The benefits of vigorous activity applied to men and women of all ages, and were independent of the total amount of time spent being active,” lead author Klaus Gebel told Forbes. “The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity.”
While most fitness guidelines say the benefits of vigorous exercise don’t vary between one and two minutes, the research indicates that may need to be reassessed. “The current physical activity guidelines from the World Health Organization, and those for the US, UK, Australia and other countries,” says Gebel, “recommend that adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of both in which 1 minute of vigorous activity counts as much as 2 minutes of moderate activity. So these guidelines leave individuals to choose their activity patterns according to their preferences and abilities.”
Next time you go to France, don’t expect to sip your way through the nation's restaurants. At least, not sipping on unlimited soda refills.
That’s because the City of Light is putting the kibosh on soda refills, with a recent ban on them at restaurants and fast food chains across the nation. The move comes as an effort to help improve the nation’s health. Yes, it seems even France, the epicenter for real food, has a soda problem.
“The move, which is supported by Health Minister Marisol Touraine and needs to pass through the Senate before being put into action, targets fountain machines—such as those found at fast-food spots and burger joints—everywhere, including public places such as gas stations and malls in addition to restaurants,” reports Vice.
Arnaud Richard, a Parliament member from the UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents) and the author of the amendment, explained: “It is the role of the law to fix a framework to protect the population against commercial competition which aims to make something free to entice customers and encourage them to consume unhealthy products excessively.”
France, which also boasts one of the most comprehensive universal health care systems in the world, consumes about a quarter of the amount of soda and soft drinks as Americans, about 11 gallons per person per year.
A soda tax was implemented in Berkeley, Calif. last year, but attempts to ban large soda sales from establishments in New York city including restaurants, movie theaters and mini-markets was overturned by a federal judge. The Navajo Nation, the largest native community in the U.S., recently passed a junk food tax that it hopes will help to curb its obesity epidemic, afflicting about ten percent of the Indigenous community.
As for France, time will tell if the ban will make a difference in the nation’s waistline.
Image via Mr.TinDC
Chances are you probably think about it during your workout: a big juicy burger, greasy fries and an ice-cold Coca-Cola. You’re going to gobble them up as soon as you get off the treadmill, you tell yourself. But then, of course, you feel so totally amazing after your workout that you’re terrified to even put a carrot to your lips for fear of gaining back even a droplet of the sweat you just shed.
So here’s the ha-ha-joke’s-on-you reality: A study published in the recent issue of the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise, found that your body may recover just as well from junk food after a workout as it would from post-workout meals like sports drinks, energy bars and smoothies.
What kind of junk food? All that stuff mentioned earlier and then some: hotcakes, hash browns, hamburgers, fries, and Coke. Now, what the researchers were testing for wasn’t overall health, but rather for blood sugar levels and glycogen recovery rates, which indicates how well a muscle has recovered from an exercise activity.
The researchers noticed no difference in the muscle recovery results between junk food and Gatorade or energy bars. Granted, we’re just talking muscle fatigue here, not the colo-rectal cancer the hamburger may cause down the line.
And the researchers explained that it’s more indicative of an issue with foods marketed as ideal for “post-workout recovery” than it is an endorsement for pulling a Clinton and jogging all the way to the nearest burger joint.
At its heart though, the study results really point to one glaring truth: there are no food shortcuts. What if the study would have compared the long-term benefits of eating fresh food, like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables compared with those hotcakes, hash browns and sodas?
You don’t need a science degree to unravel this one. Eat whole foods, the kind that don’t market themselves as the ideal post-workout food because they don’t come with any labels in the first place.
You may have difficulty pronouncing it, but you should consider adding chlorella to your diet anyway. The health benefits of chlorella run the gamut from improved energy to reduced cholesterol, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This unassuming green powder has a number of incredibly good-for-you benefits that might make your jaw drop.
A blue-green algae native to Japan and Taiwan, chlorella is similar to spirulina, its popular green cousing, but boasts a different nutrition profile and benefits. It comes typically in powdered or capsule form. Chlorella is a key ingredient in our mustHave greens powder, and for good reason.
In just a one-ounce serving of pure chlorella, there are 16 grams of protein (that’s like eating three eggs!), 287 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, 71 percent of B2, 33 percent of B3, 200 percent of iron, 22 percent of magnesium and 133 percent of zinc.
While the presence of those naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are enough to make the health benefits of chlorella worth noting, there’s more. Its even been shown to support hormone function, cardiovascular health, balanced cholesterol levels and boost the body’s natural detoxification abilities.
Chlorella has also been shown to assist in more intense detoxification, such as removing heavy metals from the body, and assisting in recovery from radiation and chemotherapy. Those are big claims, but there is a modest amount of science to back it up.
Chlorella can also boost the body’s natural immune response, helping to thwart off potential threats including bacteria and viruses and keep you healthier during those cold and flu seasons.
It’s also been shown to help with weight loss, mainly through hormone balancing, not suppressing appetite. As a natural source of energy, it may also keep you feeling strong and focused, without the need for a sugary pick-me-up in the middle of the day.