The Green Gift Every Foodie is Talking About

At some point, even the most committed foodies reach their fine dining plateau or get sick of pinning Food Porn onto their Pinterest boards—eventually, they want more. While some take to the kitchen to dream up their own concoctions, others with farm-to-table ambitions want to take it one step further and grow their own ingredients. But even the most experienced chef can be intimidated by the prospect of becoming a gardening novice. Good news — the lover of all grub can ease into the process and quickly transform from beginner to green-thumbed god. The solution? The Water Garden.

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Back to the Roots co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez initially stumbled upon the idea of aquaponics while doing a farm visit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Awestruck by the magic of aquaponic farming (2x faster growth with 90% less water? Yes please!) the guys set out to find a way to share this experience with kids and families. After a year-long design process, the Water Garden launched on Kickstarter in November 2012 with a conservative goal of $100,000. To their surprise, there was enough interest around the self-cleaning, food-growing fish tank that they raised $248,000 in just 30 days!

Original Water Garden Video on Kickstarter (formerly the AquaFarm):

Today, there are over 100,000 Water Gardens in homes and classrooms nationwide growing their own organic food via aquaponics. The Water Garden continues to delight farmers of all ages, bringing a mini-ecosystem into the comfort of your own home and yielding organic sprouts and herbs all year long. People love it because it requires 1) no yard or outdoor space at all, 2) no water changes, and 3) comes with everything you need to get started . The only prerequisite is a little bit of light and, of course, a new pet fish (don’t worry – it comes with a coupon for one from Petco!).

This fish-powered garden comes fully loaded, including: 3-gallon fish tank, the aquarium gravel, organic herb seeds, grow stones, natural fertilizer, a silent submersible water pump, fish food, and a coupon for your betta fish. Put your fish in the tank, plant your seeds, and in 2-3 days you’ll have your first sprouts and your ecosystem will be growing away in happy harmony.

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5 Tips for Sustainable Gift-Giving This Holiday Season

Mindful gift-giving eliminates any feeling of dread that might be attached to concern that one’s own behavior is environmentally damaging. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year than any other time of year? It may be easy to avoid images of landfills loaded down with wrapping paper and forgotten gifts, but people still tend toward wastefulness.

Want to decrease your mark on the planet just a little bit? Give your holiday gifts mindfully and sustainably. Here’s how to do it:

1. Give Green-Oriented Gifts: Products that encourage interaction with the environment can send a message. Consider the Water Garden, a sustainable, self-cleaning fish tank that grows organic sprouts and herbs. Without any outdoor space required, it makes it a snap for people to literally grow some of their own food at home. Similarly, there’s the Mushroom Farm, a little box that grows delicious organic oyster mushrooms in just 10 days. Gifts like these remind people that it’s easy to take an active role in nurturing plant life and engaging with our natural environment. And you get to eat when you’re done!

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2. Buy Non-Packaged Gifts: Holiday waste results in an extra 25 million tons of garbage. Try giving something that can’t be thrown away, like classes or admission to an event? Cooking classes, a trip to an eco-farm, concert tickets, and even e-books are all great gifts that require absolutely no wrapping.

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3. Use Sustainable Wrapping Paper: Of course, it’s pretty fun to pick out colorful holiday wrapping paper, but what if your wrapping paper was more sustainable than something purchased from a major retailer? Instead of run-of-the-mill gift-wrap from Walmart this year, re-appropriate other paper as you see fit. The comics pages of a major newspaper are a classic standby, but you might also use old wallpaper or cut-up paper bags.

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4. Buy From Local/Small Businesses: Buying locally is an important component not only to the development of a local economy, but to reducing environmental harms. Products made in your community require less transportation to be sold to your community. By investing in local businesses, you also help to create more local jobs and a more economically robust neighborhood.

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5. Make Your Own Gifts: If you really don’t want to waste anything this year, why not make a gift yourself? Make one-of-a-kind holiday cards out of old magazines, newsletters, and envelopes. Bake lots and lots of cookies, or better yet, make meals for your loved ones using herbs and mushrooms you grew in your Water Garden and Mushroom Farm.

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Top 10 Gifts of 2016 for Teachers

Are you looking to honor your teacher with a seasonal holiday gift? Maybe your close friend just happens to teach for a living? You might give them a present that serves double-duty, one that not only commemorating your special relationship but also serving a purpose in their classroom. We have plenty of ideas for worthwhile teacher gifts. Let them know they are remembered while giving them a great classroom accessory at the same time.

1. Garden In-A-Can Set ($24.99): You don’t need an outdoor garden to grow your own herbs at home. Forget the yard entirely and go with the Garden-In-A-Can set. It comes with cans for growing four types of herbs: basil, cilantro, sage, and dill. Class activity: Split everyone into 4 groups in a “race” to see who can most successfully nurture their herb.

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2. School Supply Bouquet (price varies): Here’s a great homemade gift for those friends of yours in the education business. Buy a bunch of school supplies — glue, paper, staples, rulers, and the like — and place them into a stylish arrangement. Make use of a handsome container or other appealing presentation to lend a thoughtful air to your gift. It’s one that your teacher friend will use and benefit from.

school-supply-bouquet_nz3kmnPhoto credit: She Knows.

3. Water Garden ($99.99): Serving as both a fish tank and herb garden, this has got to be one of the coolest gifts ever. With a Water Garden in your foodie’s kitchen, they might pluck herbs and sprouts for use as garnish in daily dishes, all in the company of a new fish. The self-cleaning ecosystem adds a novel, low-maintenance vibe to any living space.

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4. Crystal Growing Kit ($19.95): In the name of teaching students about the natural world, this Crystal Growing Kit makes an awesome gift to a teacher who might want to put it on display in a classroom. As a crystal begins to form, students will learn lessons about geology. When it’s done, the kit contains all the materials needed to perform seven different crystal growth experiments.crystal5. A Memory-Filled Scrapbook ($35): Making a gift for a teacher will often be a wise course of action. A scrapbook filled with photographs, high-scoring tests, and other academic memories makes a wonderful present to let your educational leader know that you not only appreciate their effort, but that their significant effort will be remembered.

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6. Custom Tote Bag
(price varies): Give your teacher a place to stash their stuff as they migrate from home to classroom and back. You might deck out your gift tote bag with a photograph, some hand-painting, or perhaps even some custom embroidery. It’s a wide world of options when a tote bag is your blank canvas.screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-25-03-pm7. Mushroom Farm ($19.99): Kids love nothing more than a fast-moving spectacle. In just 10 days, you can show them how mushrooms grow to maturity out of a cardboard box. Open this boxed mushroom farm, spray its contents with water, and harvest your mushrooms a little over a week later.

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8. Amazon Gift Cards (your choice): Whether they need to buy something for the classroom or their personal lives, sometimes it’s best to just give someone the resources to treat themselves and the instructions to do so. Amazon sells a little bit of everything. If your teacher needs new books, new clothes, or a new DVD box set, you can’t go too wrong making more of Amazon available to them.screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-3-26-43-pm9. Worm Farm Composter ($139): With this composter, teachers have a way to introduce students to the ideas associated with composting and recycling. They’ll raise a small colony of earth-enriching worms that go to work to make healthy soil, and students will get to observe them doing so.

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10. Make a donation. Perhaps your teacher is a vocal supporter of some cause — pony up and let them know you’re lending support on their behalf. You might also contribute to an education- or child-related cause that makes a natural intersection with teaching. Consider Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, or Locks of Love.

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Top 10 Gifts of 2016 for Chefs & Foodies

The gift-giving season is upon us, and if you’re stumped on gift ideas for your foodie friends, then worry no more! There are a variety of exciting, engaging gifts you can give that they’re bound to love. Some may even deepen their relationship with food, perhaps as they grow a mushroom from scratch in a new mushroom farm and nurse them all the way to the dinner table.

After you’ve got your food-minded friend covered, make sure to treat yourself too!

1. Angurello Watermelon Slicer ($19.95): It’s time to redefine what we expect from everyone’s favorite vine-like flowering plant. When your chef or foodie friend wields this stainless steel utensil, their watermelon slices will come out in neat, perfect pieces, and their hands remain completely dry. Who knew that watermelon technology had yet to be perfected?

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2. Water Garden ($99.99): Serving as both a fish tank and herb garden, this has got to be one of the coolest gifts ever. With a Water Garden in your foodie’s kitchen, they might pluck herbs and sprouts for use as garnish in daily dishes, all in the company of a new fish. The self-cleaning ecosystem adds a novel, low-maintenance vibe to any living space.

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3. Tortilla Press ($120): If you don’t want to start with a good store-bought tortilla, you can of course make your own with help from this niche culinary gadget. By applying exactly the right amount of force to turn masa into a freshly pressed tortilla. With this gift given, you’ll forever change the nature of your food-minded friend’s relationship related to his or her relationship with tacos and burritos forever.

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4. Self-Watering Planter ($29.99): What are tortillas without salsa? With this self-watering planter, you can grow your own cherry tomatoes in low-maintenance fashion. It only requires water once a week, providing a low-fuss way to people to grow their own delicious, organic food.

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5. The Matcha Maker ($35): Know a matcha lover? This Matcha Maker is a match-a made in heaven. On the go foodie friends will enjoy their matcha wherever they please in a matter of seconds! Just add tea, hot water, then shake-n-sip!matcha-maker6. Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set ($36): If cold brew is a must-have in the morning, give it an eco-friendly twist with this reusable mason jar kit. Not only is it innovative, but all you have to do is add ground coffee to the filter, fill it up with cold water, and let it soak overnight! Best part about this gift? You can use the mason jar on the go and enjoy a complimentary aromatic blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee.

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7. Ceramic Compost Keeper
($24.95): Going back and forth to your compost bin every time you cook can be tiresome, not to mention the smell can get foul. Fear no more – this ceramic compost keeper will make any chef and foodie’s life easier by having it right on their kitchen counter, and give their composting lifestyle quicker and easier. With this simple, elegant design, it will also relieve any bad odors.compost

8. Mushroom Farm ($19.99): Did you know it only takes 10 days to grow your own delicious mushrooms out of a box? Your foodie friend will have everything it takes to turn the kitchen counter into an agricultural force to be reckoned with, as this mushroom farm yields delectable oyster mushrooms from the comfort of your home. It only requires that you open the box, mist it with water, and harvest it just 10 days later.

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9. Artisanal Salt Sampler ($35): The world of salt is diverse enough that you might consider buying this selection of six different kinds of sodium, which come with their own wooden display stand. Included in the selection are exotic-sounding salts like habanero, sweet onion, and black garlic. Your french fries will never be the same again.

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10. Better Baking: Wholesome Ingredients, Delicious Desserts ($19.68): We all fall for the sweet, savory desserts we like to indulge in to fulfill our sweet tooth – but it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for our health. Luckily, chef Genevieve Ko has created a collaboration of healthy recipes that are just as indulgent as that chocolate cake you’ve been craving. Which healthy dessert will you try first?

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The Fascinating History Of How a Tomato Turned From a Fruit to a Vegetable

By Matt Rozsa

It seems to be an American tradition: you refer to the tomato as a vegetable and someone is bound to chime in to clarify that it is in fact a fruit. After all, they’ll point out, a fruit is any edible plant that develops from the fertilized ovary of a flower. Indeed, by this logic tomatoes aren’t the only nominal vegetable that ought to be classified as a fruit —  the same thing can be said of cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, pea pods, peppers, eggplants, and even corn kernels.

Make no mistake about it, though: If Mr. or Ms. Smartypants insists on telling you that the tomato is a fruit, you can rebut them by pointing to no less of an authority than the United States Supreme Court. Back in 1886, an importer named John Nix set the botanical world afire when he insisted on not paying a foreign vegetable import tax on his stock of tomatoes, which he observed were scientifically classified as fruits. When the case finally arrived at the Supreme Court in 1893, however, Justice Horace Gray came down on the side of classifying them as vegetables, arguing that the colloquial uses of the terms “fruit” and “vegetable” were more economically germane than the scientific ones.

“Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of the vine,” Justice Gray explained. “Just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people… all these vegetables… are usually served at dinner, in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meat, which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits, generally as dessert.”

In the end, this all comes down to a question of literal truth versus cultural truth. If you want to understand the tomato as an organic structure part of the natural world, you need to talk about it as a fruit, because within that context that’s exactly what it is. When talking about dietary issues, however, it is disingenuous to refer to the tomato as a fruit, since it is almost always consumed as a vegetable — in salads, as a topping, as the basis for a condiment, etc.

The tomato’s proper classification may be a surprisingly complicated subject, but it’s still an important one, and we’re all better off being well-informed about it.

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This Statistic About What Defines “Whole Grain” Will Stun You

By Elena Sheppard

You’re probably not eating what you think you’re eating.

Here’s a wild statistic: The FDA defines whole grain “as food that contains 51 percent or more whole grain ingredient(s).” And even that 51% can be “reconstituted” — meaning it’s made up of pieces of wheat kernels from various farms being blended together – definitely not a whole grain.

The Western diet is packed with grains. While many of the grains we eat are refined, research proves that whole grains are really what we should be consuming. Unfortunately finding purely whole grain products is more difficult than one might assume. With the FDA statistic in mind, the best way to know the food you’re buying is whole grain, is to look for labels that say, “100% stoneground whole grain” or “100% stoneground wheat” or “100% stoneground whole wheat.”

That said, understanding why making the switch to whole grains is important requires a look at what exactly refined grains really are.

What are refined grains?

Grains, (refined grains,) are a pretty traditional staple of the American breakfast. Refined grains are in our morning toast, our cereal and oatmeal, in addition to rice, pasta and foods we usually indulge in during non-breakfast moments of the day. While grains, generally speaking, are good for us and loaded with complex carbohydrates, making the switch to whole grains is important if we want to be getting  all the nutrients we can and enjoying the most delicious flavors.

Refined grains are grains that have been milled, which is a process that removes their bran and germ and simultaneously lengthens their shelf life. Unfortunately, the milling process also rids the grains of many nutrients — including protein, fiber, and many other micronutrients.

When it comes to breakfast foods the switch from refined grains to whole grains is pretty easy to do. Swap your white toast for whole-grain bread, your regular cereal for 100% stone ground cereal, or your normal old pancakes to whole-grain buckwheat pancakes. The health benefits are hard to ignore.

Why are whole grains better for us?

The main reason: they’re loaded with more nutrients. In addition to having more fiber, whole wheat also has more magnesium, potassium, and selenium (which has antioxidant properties). More reasons why whole grains are good for you?

  • They’re digested slowly, which means they help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
  • They help prevent against Type 2 Diabetes.
  • They lower cholesterol levels
  • Whole grains also help prevent heart disease.
  • And they reduce risks of stroke, cancer, in addition to reducing blood pressure.

Of course, eating whole grains alone is not enough to turn an unhealthy diet into a healthy one. The truth is though, it’s all about making healthy choices. And making a choice as simple as switching your refined grains to whole grains is a pretty painless way to look after your health. Who wouldn’t want to start every morning by taking their health into their own hands?

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Here Are the Surprising Diets NFL Stars Swear By

By Dylan Love

Football season is upon us, and your favorite athletes have been prepping in ways beyond their intense physical training. They’ve been eating and eating and eating.

NFL diets used to be pretty casual to say the least. It was common for players to consume between 7,000-8,000 calories a day without a care as to what they were putting in their bodies. Supersized portions of “heavy” foods like grits, eggs, burgers, macaroni and cheese, steak, and fries were all fair game for players trying to maintain a competitive weight.

But according to Dr. Susan M. Kleiner, a nutrition consultant for the Seattle Seahawks and former full-time nutritionist for the Cleveland Browns, things have changed since she first started working with NFL teams in the early ‘90s.

Back then, she explains, the goal was just to gain weight by eating as many calories as possible. Then coaches and players started focusing more on body composition and healthy diets in order to reduce risk of heart disease and injury. This plan was ultimately better for the players’ health and well-being.

We see this mindset taking full form in the NFL today. Meal plans are individualized, based on each player’s’ position, size, and metabolism. Instead of consuming calories full of fats and starches to help gain weight, there’s an emphasis on consuming lean meats and vegetables to build strong muscle.

We did some investigating on how “eating clean” has taken shape in the NFL today, especially in some of your favorite players’ diets.

Rashad Jennings – New York Giants

First up is Rashad Jennings, a running back for the NYG and nutrition all-star. Over the years, Jennings has made a conscious effort to not only eliminate junk food from his diet, but also stop counting calories and focus on being “fuel-efficient.” This means he actively chooses foods that fuel him, rather than foods that require him to unnecessarily use up energy to break them down.

He eats between 3-4 full meals a day, but still enjoys snacking like any normal human. Jennings describes himself as a “whole food eater,” choosing snacks that function as “mini meals” in order to keep him going between full meals. Instead of a bag of chips, he goes for fruit, turkey meatballs, or hummus on toast with avocado and turkey bacon, which ensures that he gets plenty of fiber, protein, and necessary healthy fats.

Steve Weatherford – New York Giants

Here’s another Giants player who shines in the world of nutrition, though he might be lesser-known. Steve Weatherford is a punter, but he’s also said to be the Giants’ strongest player. With just 5.5 percent body fat and the ability to bench press almost 400 pounds, he’s absolutely ripped.

Protein is key to Weatherford’s diet. He eats about 200 grams of protein a day by consuming egg whites, bunless turkey burgers, lean ground beef lasagna, and of course, whey protein. For whatever it’s worth, the FDA’s daily recommendation is 50 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet.

David Carter – Chicago Bears

Carter is a defensive lineman, which means he’s regularly weighed — it’s a position where 250 pounds makes you look puny. But Carter is a whopping 300 pounds and he’s maintaining that weight with a vegan diet.

It started in 2014 when he was struggling to gain weight by eating unhealthy foods, as well as battling tendonitis and several other injuries. But within a month of going vegan, he was running better, lifting heavier, and starting to relieve the pain in his joints.

He eventually made it back up to 300 pounds, but that required lots and lots of eating on his part. Carter was consuming as much as 10,000 calories a day on his vegan diet. Specifically, he was eating five meals a day with four 20-ounce protein shakes between them. His total protein intake is 1.2 grams of protein per pound per day, which typically comes from brown rice and black or cannellini beans.

Matt Kalil – Minnesota Vikings

Kalil is an offensive tackle, so he’s in another position that requires a lot of weight maintenance. His target weight is 315 pounds, so he’s eating anywhere between 5,000-7,000 calories per day, and taking care to ensure he’s building up muscle, and not just fat.

This means Kalil is consuming three meals a day, consisting of lean meat, pasta, and sweet potatoes. Like most of his fellow NFL players, he tries to eat snacks between meals (typically peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). But his prime weight-gain comes from three high-calorie shakes per day, with 60 grams of protein in each.

Tom Brady – New England Patriots

According to Dr. Kleiner, quarterbacks like Tom Brady need a minimum of 4,000 calories a day, but up to 6,000 calories per day depending on training. That being said, Brady’s diet is pretty bizarre in comparison to his NFL counterparts.

It’s incredibly strict. His personal chef notes that Brady cannot have white sugar or flour, caffeine, dairy, coffee, and certain fruits. His chef has also restricted some veggies from his diet, including mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. Brady has also shared that he doesn’t cook with olive oil.

So what can he eat? Apparently, mostly vegetables (in fact, they make up 80 percent of his diet), but also: Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and beans, plus meats like grass-fed organic steak, duck, chicken, and wild salmon.

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Of course, these guys are professional athletes whose dietary needs are quite outside the norm. Until you need to pack on another 100-150 pounds of muscle yourself, it’s best to look at the NFL roster’s eating habits as a fun, informative oddity.

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10 Corporations Control Almost All the World’s Food

By Dylan Love

Almost everything you eat comes from the same collection of 10 food companies.

Let that sink in.

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This image — found on the social media site Reddit — shows just how far the big food companies tentacles stretch. Just ten food companies combine to produce a massive amount of the food and drink we all consume. For some consumers, these 10 companies reflect nearly the vast majority of daily calories consumed. The extent of big food’s corporate centralization is staggering, especially when you consider the essential staples. The industry’s vertical and horizontal integration has led to corporate control of an incredible array of food products. Nestlé, for example – best known for its chocolate –  also makes baby food. Soda company PepsiCo owns KFC. Cereal brand General Mills owns yogurt Yoplait.

Here’s a breakdown of the five biggest food producers:

 

Nestlé SA

Market Capitalization: $152.87 billion

Revenue: $90.3 billion

Profits: $9.1 billion

Employees: 335,000

Headquarters: Vevey, Switzerland

Originally a milk and baby food provider, Nestlé has broadened its operations to include a variety of popular food products. While Nestle has received high marks from Oxfam International for its commitments to socially responsible operations, it is still criticized for being complicit in grabbing land to muscle out small farmers.

 

PepsiCo Inc.

Market Capitalization: $179.35 billion

Revenue: $63.06 billion

Profits: $34.67 billion

Employees: 263,00

Headquarters: Purchase, New York

Longtime Coke competitor, Pepsi has surpassed its rival becoming the world’s second largest food and drink vendor. Indian-American CEO Indra Nooyi has earned praise for her leadership and vision of reform for the company.

 

The Coca-Cola Company

Market Capitalization: $179.35 billion

Revenue: $44.29 billion

Profits: $26.81 billion

Employees: 700,000

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

From a 19th-century soda drink, the Coca-Cola Company has evolved into a multinational beverage goliath. Its savvy advertising cemented the company as a global icon. Outside of its definitive brown drink, Coke also owns Fanta, Dasani, Minute Maid, Fresca, Simply Orange, and a variety of other drink brands.

 

General Mills

Market Capitalization: $36.8 billion

Revenue: $16.56 billion

Profits: $5.85 billion

Employees: 39,000

Headquarters: Golden Valley, Minnesota

A definitive multinational food business, General Mills’ products are completely ubiquitous: Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs, and Cheerios are all offshoots of the General Mills machine, just to name a few. The company has garnered its share of criticism for deceptive advertising on the health benefits of its cereals.

 

Mars

Market Capitalization: unknown

Revenue: $33 billion

Profits: unknown

Employees: unknown

Headquarters: McLean, Virginia

As a family-owned private company, Mars provides little financial information about itself. The producer of iconic snacks like M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, and Twix has made commitments to drop partnerships with suppliers of palm oil and cocoa that violate human rights, deforest sensitive land, and contribute to climate change. Because of its lackluster history in these areas, time will tell.

 

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It’s easy to feel like corporate tentacles have too closely wrapped themselves around our food supply. If you’re anxious knowing that money spent on food ultimately goes to just a handful of these companies, you can vote every day with your dollar. Buy more fresh produce and cook at home more often. And visit farmers markets and local food co-ops. The good news is though these 10 companies control most of what we eat, there are thousands of artisan and smaller producers and a burgeoning new food movement bringing new values and transparency into the food system.

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Here Are the Best Ways to Keep Your Fruits and Veggies Fresh When Storing Them

By Elena Sheppard

You buy delicious looking produce, bring it home, and before you know it your fruits are rotting and your salad fixings look limp. It’s a food storage fate that befalls us all but that doesn’t make it any less annoying (or any less of a waste of food and money). Well good news: spoiling can be avoided if the proper storing measures are taken. Keeping your food fresh does not have to be complicated, and here are some very easy-to-follow steps we recommend to keep your food fresh.  

Keep your fruits and veggies separate

Most of us buy produce, bring it home, and put it in one of the fridge drawers without worrying about what else is in there. Well, heads up: fruits and veggies shouldn’t really be hanging out. Fruit produces high levels of ethylene which causes vegetables to spoil more quickly. Quick tip: Keep fruits and vegetables apart.

Vegetables need to breath

Storing vegetables in air-tight plastic is a no-no. Vegetables need to breath, so before you store them poke some holes in the bag they’re in. They also need a little room around them, so don’t pack vegetables too tight or they’re likely to rot more quickly.

Don’t treat all fruit the same

Different fruits have very different demands. Non-cherry stone fruits — apples, mangos, pears etc. — can happily ripen on a counter for a few days. Other fruits, like grapes and citrus fruits, should go into the fridge. As for bananas, they ripen fast! When they reach a ripeness you like, try putting them in the fridge to slow the process.

Beware the moldy berry

When you look into your container of raspberries or blueberries you’ll likely see at least one rotten or moldy one: get rid of it. One moldy berry quickens the spread of mold to the whole bunch.

Don’t wash your food until you want to eat it

Dampness hastens bacteria growth, so you’re better off keeping your food dirty; at least until you’re ready to eat it.

Keep tomatoes and potatoes out of the fridge

Refrigerating tomatoes won’t hurt them, but it definitely won’t help their taste. A refrigerated tomato often loses its flavor, its aroma, and becomes mealy. You’re better off keeping tomatoes on the counter. As for potatoes, they like a cool, dark, dry place. The starch in potatoes turns to sugar when too cold, so the fridge is definitely not where they want to be.

Herbs are a little high maintenance

Herbs are tricky. Before you refrigerate herbs it’s good to wash them, dry them, cut of their ends and put them in a glass of water (as if they were flowers) and then stick them in the fridge. If that seems weird, you can do the washing/drying/cutting process and then put them in a ziploc bag with a dampened paper towel. You can also freeze herbs with water in ice cube trays. When it’s time to cook, just pop them out.

And lastly, lettuce

Wilted lettuce is a total downer. To avoid that from happening, put a paper towel over your lettuce (or wrapped around it) and then put it in a plastic bag. This will absorb the moisture and keep the lettuce crisp and fresh.

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What Do the 5 Healthiest Cities In America Eat?

By Matt Rozsa

What makes certain cities healthy and others unhealthy?

The healthiest eaters in America’s large cities are found in the metropolitan areas of:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland (CA)
  2. New York-Newark-Long Island (NY/NJ/CT)
  3. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville (CA)
  4. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (CA)
  5. Washington-Arlen-Alexandria (DC/VA/MD)

These cities all share one trend in their diets: they eat lots of fruits and veggies. On average, the residents in these metropolises eat 34 to 37 servings of fruits and vegetables each week, including 11 to 13 servings of fruit, 5 to 7 servings of green salad, 2 to 4 servings of carrots, and 13 to 15 servings of other vegetables.

By contrast, America’s most obese cities are notorious for their deep-fried cuisines. The three most obese cities in the country are all from the South: Memphis, Birmingham, and San Antonio. As the American Heart Journal has found, a “Southern” style diet is the worst possible choice for your cardiovascular health. 

More than anything, these statistics underscore the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet. For an intake of 2,000 calories each day, the average person will each day need to consume 6 to 8 servings of grains, 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 to 3 servings of low-or-no-fat dairy products, 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils, and 6 or fewer servings of lean meats, poultry and seafood. Sweets should generally be avoided to remain under 2,000 calories, although it is okay to have 5 or fewer each week; similarly, one shouldn’t have more than 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes on a weekly basis.

Because so much of our diet is based around cultural pressures, cities with culinary traditions that mesh with our body’s needs contain healthier citizens. On the other hand, a poor dietary culture — such as one that favors deep-fried dishes, as in the Southern United States — will result in a larger section of the population succumbing to obesity.

If we want to make the public healthier, we need to encourage awareness both of unhealthy cultural traditions that should be reevaluated (and perhaps even modified) and alleviate the financial burdens that prevent low-income individuals from making the healthiest possible eating choices. Sometimes the solution to national problems like the obesity epidemic involve little more than common sense.

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This Is the Real “Orange Flavor” You’ve Been Drinking in Orange Juice

By Matt Rozsa

It’s very easy to be duped by products that sound natural but aren’t. Take orange juice. As long as it’s “100% juice,” that means you’re safe, right? After all, the back of the package says that the main ingredient is “oranges.” How can that not be good for you?

The problem with this assumption is that it grossly misunderstands how orange juice is made, at least when produced on a mass scale. In order to prevent the squeezed juice from spilling, manufacturers heat it up using a process known as “deaeration.” While this helps preserve the liquid itself, it also removes almost all of its flavor… which means consumers at the markets won’t think it tastes or smells like “real juice.”

To get around this, orange juice companies add different “flavor packs.” Developed by perfume companies from oranges and their skins, each company has their own distinct formula that constitutes its individualized “taste.” In North America, this usually involves a high amount of ethyl butyrate; in Mexico and Brazil, the chemicals may be decanals or valencine. Regardless of what you choose, though, the chemicals that add the “orange juice” flavor to your orange juice have been so altered that they barely resemble real orange juice by the time you drink it.

Nevertheless, when you check that orange juice package, it probably won’t indicate that this is the case. According to the FDA’s logic, those flavor packs can be labeled as “oranges” because they initially contained ingredients derived from the actual orange fruit. Comforting, right?

This rule is hardly limited to orange juice. Although “natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient listed on food labels, it can refer to substances that contain anywhere from 50 to 100 additional ingredients. Anything from cereal and granola bars to apple juice and organic shakes can be adulterated in this way – an important consideration as you’re reading labels and gauging the nutritional and “natural” value of the product.

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Here’s What the Difference in Egg Yoke Color Means

By Dylan Love

Egg yolks have long been criticized as unhealthy in comparison to their counterpart, the beloved egg white. Until recently, the assessment was that their high cholesterol content was cause to eliminate eggs from one’s diet. But new research and dietary guidelines are challenging the perception that cholesterol contributes to heart disease. So say farewell to egg-white omelettes — the yolk is where the good stuff lives.

In your grocery store’s egg section, you’re confronted with a wall of cartons and adjectives. After picking white or brown, how do you choose between organic, free-range, pastured, grass-fed, farm-fresh, cage-free, and omega-3 eggs? Without these labels, could you even tell the difference?

The answer is yes, but you have to crack them open to do so.

Whether you prefer sunny-side up or scrambled, you probably want to see a perfectly golden-yellow yolk. Egg yolk colors are almost completely dependent on the diet of the hen that laid it (unlike shell color, which depends on the hen’s breed.)

Dark-orange yolk

Hens that produce deeply saturated orange yolks eat a natural diet that might resemble your own: kale, collard greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and more. These yolks are especially rich in xanthophylls and carotenoids like lutein, loaded with nutrients, and even antioxidants. While there’s no guarantee, you’re more likely to find these yolks in eggs produced by hens raised in a pasture or free-range, where they have more opportunities to eat pigmented foods.

Orange or golden-yellow yolk

When your yolk color resembles that of a clementine, you have carotenoids to thank. The hen’s diet was made up of yellow and orange plant material, like yellow corn and alfalfa meal, which contain nutritious xanthophylls pigments that are deposited in the yolk. Not only that — their color might contribute to your brain enjoying them more.

Pale or light-yellow yolk

Pale yolks result from a colorless diet. If a hen eats feed made from wheat, barley, or white cornmeal, they may produce yolks that are almost white. Natural yellow coloring may be added to this type of feed to enhancethe yolks, turning them lemon-colored.

Red or pink yolk

Blood-orange, red, or pink yolks can come from hens that eat a lot of red pepper, but they are found most often in South America, where chickens feed on annatto seeds. And if you find just a speck of red in a yolk, it doesn’t mean the egg was actually fertilized. It’s simply a blood vessel that ruptured during formation. If the egg whites are pink, however, you ought to beware: your egg is rotting.

Green yolk

You have cooked your eggs. When left to boil a little too long, your yolks turns green as a result of iron in the boiling water interacting with the sulfur in the eggs. The good news? Green, like other colors, has no implications on the health benefits of an egg — sulfur is just another healthy nutrient found in yolks.

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The crucial benefits of egg yolks are their macronutrients — like protein and healthy fats — which are relatively the same in all yolks, regardless of color. However, evidence is growing that pasture-raised hens produce healthier eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. So the next time you fry up an egg to start your day, look for a deep-orange yolk to really kick things off right!

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