Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

February has been a pretty important month in the world of food news. I’ve always found the living/health/food section of the news to be the most interesting, which is especially nice when Brian and I are splitting a newspaper and he’s willing to take on the other boring sections (business, finance and sports).

These are the top three foodie articles that caught my attention this month,

The Good: Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke

The findings of the first major clinical trial to measure diet’s effect on heart risks were released. The study formed subjects into three groups, two of the groups ate different varieties of a Mediterranean diet and the other group ended up following the Standard American Diet. The subjects following the Mediterranean diets were found to have reduced incidence of “major cardiovascular events.”

I don’t only classify this study as “the good” because science has clearly identified a way to reduce your risk of heart disease, but also because the diet involves eating four tablespoons of olive oil per day!

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
  • exercise
  • plant-based foods
  • olive and canola oils (to replace butter)
  • herbs and spices (to replace salt)
  • eating poultry and fish (especially fatty fish like tuna and salmon)
  • limited quantities of red meat
  • moderate consumption of red wine

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Yes, I will have some more of that, thank you.

The Bad: America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2013

The Daily Meal recently released their list for the 50 people who have the most influence over how Americans eat. The only reason I didn’t consider this “the ugly” is because I’m happy about those sitting in the #1 spot. The #1 spot is claimed by teams at Zagat (restaurant reviews) and Google. I love to think that people aren’t mindlessly eating, they're doing some research and making conscious decisions about what they're putting in their bodies. Other highlights include the founder and CEO of Pinterest (fun!), Jose Andres, DC’s most well known restaurateur (the brains behind Jaleo) and Michael Pollan, the author behind the wise phrase, “Eat Food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

Unfortunately, the list gives high-ranking spots to Pepsi, McDonalds, Nestle and other massive food producers. Sadly, the number one influencer behind what I eat is at the very bottom of the list. The Family Farmer. Boo. 

The UGLY: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

This article is insanely long, but in summary it describes a meeting between America’s largest food companies, and the scheming that has gone into the development of the foods they sell. It’s kind of disturbing, but I can’t say I’m surprised. So then, why is it so ugly? Because of the sales! Gazillions of dollars in profits.

I always like to “vote with my dollars.” I'm really uncomfortable with buying foods from companies that practice things that conflict with my values (think: factory farming/ handling of farm animals, advertising food products to children, adding unnecessary mystery ingredients to food). This is why I like to shop at farmer’s markets! Every decision you make about where (or, where not) to spend your money counts. It is a little more expensive, but I hope eventually consumer demand for quality products will drive the market!

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I can't believe March begins TOMORROW. Apparently DC's best shot at snow for the season is coming up next week. Great! Now when I've finally given up on snow and am counting down until Spring, here it comes :)

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