Archive for February, 2010

Advantages of organic food

In the last several years we have seen the organic food industry grow and grow, as more and more people become aware and educated with regards not only to their health, but also with regard to just how their food is produced, where it comes from and even, with regard to meat produce, how it is raised and what it is fed. People want to feel that they are more in control of what they consume, and more and more information is becoming available.

Organic food has become more popular, and up to 70% of people in America buy organic food on at least an occasional basis. But why has organic food become so popular? One of the main reasons, as stated, is for better health. Organic produce, in order to qualify for organic certification, must not be farmed or cultivated with pesticides, insecticides or any synthetic methods or chemicals. As a result of this, far fewer pesticides leak and drain into the soil, leading to richer, more nutritious soil and ultimately, more nutritious crops for people to consume. The crops are able to increase their production of antioxidants and vitamins which have the effect of improving the plants’ resistance to weed infestation and pests. This will also lead to greater crop yields and healthier crops. As an example of how health can be impacted, non-organically produced apples are generally sprayed 16 times with 36 different chemicals, meaning that even a thorough washing of the apple will leave a certain amount of chemical residue.

A lack of pesticides in organic foods is also good in terms of the prevention of certain health conditions. For example, conventionally-produced foodstuffs that use pesticides in their farming and cultivation are linked to increased instances of health conditions such as headaches, certain types of cancer as well as posing potential dangers for growing fetuses, young children and pregnant women. This is largely due to the effect that the pesticides have on the developing immune systems of young children and fetuses, as well as straining the already stressed organs of pregnant women.

Also on the plus side, organic processed foods contain no hydrogenated fats, which is the opposite to processed noon-organic food. In health terms, high levels of hydrogenated fats in the diet have been implicated in increased incidents of heart disease, so organic produce can help with a more heart-healthy diet and lifestyle. Organic farming and production methods also help to support biodiversity, allowing for a much wider variety of plant and animal life, so organic consumers can feel happy that they are helping to conserve the planet also! Such organic farming methods also help to keep the diet of the animals entirely natural, and the animals are also raised in a free-range environment. Organic crops are also free of GM, for those with concerns about the possible demerits of genetically modified foods.


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Eco Freezer keeps your beverages chilled, provides illumination

The Eco Freezer by industrial designer Ruben Iglesias is a concept portable freezer that is ideal for picnics and camping tours. The cover of the freezer features two LED lamps which are equipped with photovoltaic cells.

Generating solar energy, these lamps keep the contents of the freezer chilled and also provide illumination in times of an emergency. The lamps dispense current via magnetic induction. If the freezer is not completely full, the user can opt to use one of the lamps for the purpose of cooling, while the other lamp provides illumination.

After the picnic when the freezer is completely empty, both the lamps can be used for illumination in three different modes, including: completely on mode, SOS mode and flicker. However, if the sun isn’t shining that well, the freezer doubles as a thermal box, keeping the contents cold for a long time.

Yanko Design

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Whole Foods returns focus to healthy eating

Recently, Mary Olivar got a call from a frantic mother.

The woman had just learned that her daughter had celiac disease, a digestive disorder that is triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in bread, pasta and other foods made from certain grains. The mother had no idea what to feed her daughter.

“It was kind of like talking her off a ledge, a little bit,” Olivar recalled. “I was like, ‘OK, let’s talk about what it actually is; let’s talk about what it isn’t.'”

Olivar has been receiving a lot of such calls, especially about diets, as she’s taken on the new job of healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market Inc.’s flagship store downtown.

Olivar is one of the most visible aspects of Whole Foods’ new healthy eating program, “Health Starts Here,” a wide-ranging education initiative that includes outreach efforts to customers, Whole Foods’ own employees and the broader community.

Store employees have marked the most nutritious foods in the aisles with signs that indicate which foods have the highest nutritional value. Employees can sign up for full-immersion healthy eating boot camps. And employees like Olivar are holding in-store cooking demonstrations and classes, as well as participating in community events such as health fairs.

The campaign might almost seem redundant at the natural and organic foods grocer, given that Whole Foods has perhaps done more than any other retailer to bring such foods into the mainstream consciousness.

But the program represents a new outreach and a rededication to what Whole Foods’ officials see as their fundamental mission. To that end, the company has added an item to its list of corporate core values: “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.”

The end goal, Olivar said, is to empower people. She sees her job as a “demystifier of food,” talking with customers about her own strategies, such as how she gets her kids to eat more vegetables.

“It’s a huge hunger for guidance,” Olivar said.

For Whole Foods, the move is a deliberate shift back toward a focus on healthy eating after years as a darling of the foodie brigade.

In an interview last month , CEO John Mackey talked about how his company is in a unique position to direct national attention toward the need for Americans to change their diets.

“People do pay a lot of attention to us — and more importantly, people copy us,” he said. “So as we do this, our healthy eating education, and as we do our studies and we publicize it … I expect to get a lot of imitators. So I do think it’s possible to do a revolution in health in America.”

Signs of the new program have popped up in Whole Foods’ downtown store. Using a program developed by physician Joel Fuhrman , certain foods are now given scores based on a food’s nutrient density. Kale and collard greens get the highest score of 1,000. The lowest? Cola, with a score of 0.6.

Stores will feature recipes, in-store lectures and support groups. They are also selling educational books and cookbooks. Whole Foods is also promoting two third-party programs: Fuhrman’s nutrient-rich “Eat Right America” plan and “The Engine 2 Diet,” a plant-based diet developed by athlete and former Austin firefighter Rip Esselstyn.

And officials say that many Whole Foods stores will have a specialist like Olivar available to answer customer questions and give guidance.

Company officials are quick to say that the program isn’t a temporary promotion.

“This is a permanent fixture,” said Margaret Wittenberg , Whole Foods’ global vice president of quality standards. Company officials credit Wittenberg with leading the team that developed the company’s approach to balanced eating.

“We want to get back to what we do best, and that’s healthy eating education,” she said.

The program is a great way for Whole Foods to benefit from being the “knowledge leader in that space,” said Al Meyers, senior vice president of Retail Forward, a consulting and market research firm.

“It sort of positions them as a health and wellness headquarters,” he said.

It also helps Whole Foods stand out in an increasingly crowded organic and natural foods marketplace, he said: “To be able to provide more assistance, more education to folks, is perfectly in line with their brand strategy and will serve to differentiate them.”

Whole Foods officials say they’re starting to see more community interest, as well. Parents and teachers regularly ask for tours of Whole Foods stores, said Elizabeth Leader Smith , Whole Foods’ community relations coordinator.

Lately, Smith said, she’s noticed that their requests are evolving.

Now they ask for healthy eating tours. Or a quick demo. Or tastings of various healthy foods.

“We’re just like, ‘Yes! Yes, yes and yes!'” Smith said.


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Cereplast hikes distribution of bioplastic resin in Europe

Cereplast, Inc., a manufacturer of proprietary bio-based, sustainable plastics, announced that it has extended its distribution agreement with A. Schulman, Inc. (Schulman) to include all of Europe. Schulman is a supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins used as raw materials in a variety of markets.Cereplast’s variety of bioplastic resins will enable Schulman to launch a new offering composed of bio-based materials to customers interested in more environmentally-friendly solutions. Under the agreement, Schulman will distribute Cereplast Compostables® and Hybrids Resins® throughout Europe.According to the European Bioplastic Market report by Frost & Sullivan, the bioplastics market in Europe has experienced an exponential growth and demand has outstripped supply, as converters and end-users are rushing to take advantage of this resurgent technology.urrently, bioplastics account for less than one percent of the European plastics market. All Cereplast resins replace a significant percentage of petroleum-based additives with starches made out of corn, wheat, tapioca and potatoes, allowing bioplastics to return back to nature within 180 days.


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