The Science Behind Why You Should Never Store These Foods Together

By Dylan Love

There’s a science to storing your food for maximum freshness.

All foods are different and have specific storage needs to prevent spoilage. There are some common sense basics around what can or can’t be stored in your fridge, on your countertop, or even in your bread basket. But there’s also a science lurking under the surface, requiring you to be mindful of what you store together

Ethylene gas, or “the ripening hormone,” is the star of the show here. It’s a colorless, odorless, hydrocarbon gas that is almost exclusively produced by your favorite fruit items. Apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, kiwifruits, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and plantains are some examples of foods that are said to be ethylene-producing. Ethylene is essentially a natural plant hormone in gas form, encouraging food cells to degrade and the food itself to ripen. It makes food softer and sweeter, causes leaves to droop, and sprouts to occur.  

While some foods produce this gas, others react to it. When the two neighbor each other, they can interact. For the most part, it is vegetables that are classified as ethylene-sensitive, and it’s a pretty long list: arugula, asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green onion, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and spinach.

By storing your apples and fresh greens in the same refrigerator drawer, you’re actually making the greens spoil faster — the ethylene gas emitted by the apples is tricking the greens into ripening ahead of time. It speeds up the process, so your vegetables turn to rot more quickly when they are exposed to ripe or overripe fruits.

The solution is simple. To avoid untimely spoilage of your fresh produce, don’t store fruits and vegetables together. Keep them in separate drawers and away from each other.

You may have heard that you can’t store potatoes and onions together either. This rule applies for the same reason as fruits and vegetables. Onions are ethylene producers and potatoes are ethylene-sensitive. If you keep them near each other, the ethylene will cause your potatoes to start sprouting little green buds, which you don’t really want to eat.

The release of ethylene gas can actually be used to your advantage in some cases. Sometimes you want to accelerate the ripening of certain foods, which is perfectly cool. The key to doing so effectively is in your storage strategy.

For example, let’s say you just purchased a bunch of tomatoes, and they’re not quite as ripe as you’d like them to be. In order to get them to ripen quickly, place them in a paper bag. Tomatoes are ethylene producers, so they’ll actually speed up the process of their own ripening since you’re trapping the gas in the bag with them. A quick note that this only works with a paper bag — don’t use a plastic bag, because that will trap moisture and actually cause your tomatoes to rot.

These are simple methods for keeping your kitchen produce at its freshest. Consider this list of ethylene-sensitive and ethylene-producing foods when you’re next stocking your shelves. But know the general rule is easy: keep your fruits and vegetables away from each other!

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Here Are the Seasons That Specific Fruits and Veggies Taste the Absolute Best

By Dylan Love

The season of the year and the freshness of your produce are inextricably linked.

You may be unsure of what “in season” means, but the truth is, produce in your grocery store should be reflecting the seasonal harvest. Fruits and vegetables taste better and fresher at certain times of the year when they’re being picked from the fields — yet, your grocery store probably offers the same produce selection everyday.

While fruits and vegetables are available in our grocery stores year-round, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fresh. You can truly taste the difference between a freshly picked apple and one that’s been sprayed with chemicals and preservatives to maintain the appearance of freshness. Would you willingly put the latter in your body if you had the option to eat more cleanly?

Eating seasonally, locally, and organically has become a common lifestyle choice and with plenty of reason — there are multiple benefits to eating what’s in season beyond just doing what’s better for your body. Not only does your wallet benefit in the long run, but buying in season also stimulates the local economy. Though the improved taste alone would probably be enough to sway you.

Here’s a couple of seasonal produce highlights to help guide you through the next year:


Autumn, with its crisp and cool weather, makes us think of pumpkin flavors and warm, hearty meals. Unsurprisingly, pumpkins are a seasonal fall food. Winter squash also hits its prime during September and carries on through early March. Apples are another classic. They’re best harvested between September and November, but you can get them in your grocery store year-round. Other produce items in season include: beets, broccoli, grapes, mushrooms, garlic, fennel, figs, green onions, and potatoes.


Things get a little interesting around December, January, and February. You’d think that there’s no produce in-season during months where the ground seems to be dead and barren, but some fruits and veggies actually taste better when they’re harvested in cooler months. Broccoli, cabbage, artichokes and some citrus fruits all benefit from harvesting at this time. Such harvests are said to be “frost-kissed.”

Winter is the best time to pick up some citrus fruits: oranges, tangerines, kumquats, pears, kiwifruit, lemons, and persimmons are great choices. They’ll keep you full of vitamins through the cold, dark months. Cranberries are also very much in season during this time and deliciously sweet when cooked thoroughly. Other produce in season during the colder months include beets, potatoes, kale, celery, fennel, and other greens.  


Spring brings plenty of new fruits and veggies to the table. Spring means that tasty apricots, honeydew melons, and mangos are great additions to your daily fruit intake. They make for great healthy snacks during a spring afternoon. It’s also the season for carrots, which are available in the spring and through the early summer (be sure to buy local and steer clear of the grocery store version of “baby carrots). Other fruits and veggies that thrive during March, April, and May include asparagus, cherries, arugula, mint, fava beans, lettuce, peas, and strawberries (which peak from April through June).


June, July, and August typically mean lazy days grilling out with friends and family — there are plenty of seasonal items to be had during these months. Watermelon and corn are both seasonal summer produce items that make a great addition to any backyard barbecue. Tomatoes are in season once June hits, but they’re good well through August. Not a bad time to pick some up and slice them for your burgers. Other tasty summer produce includes avocados, okra, cucumbers, berries, peppers, and summer squash.

Happy eating!

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These Ancient Remedies Were Used For Generations Instead of Pharmaceuticals

By Matt Rozsa

When we think of medicines today, our minds tend to wander toward pills composed of synthetic substances and concocted in sterile laboratories. Yet natural substances have a wide range of medicinal properties that have been utilized. These four even date back to ancient Roman times! 


Poppy is one of the oldest natural medicines, with its use being traced back to Sumerian drug recipes, ancient Roman texts, military manuals, and medieval medical schools. When the pharmacological revolution occurred in the early 19th century, one of its first milestones was the discovery and isolation of alkaloids from poppy plants in 1806. Extracts have been used as muscle relaxants (particularly to treat diarrhea and abdominal cramping), sedatives, and to create morphine (from the opium poppy).


The ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nung wrote a book 4500 years ago, “Pen T’Sao,” which includes ginseng among the 365 medicinal plants worthy of being regularly used. Studies have found possible benefits to the immune system, blood sugar levels, concentration and learning, physical endurance, and mood. In addition to this mixture of possible physical and psychological boosts, though, ginseng has side effects that range from the mild (nervousness and insomnia) to the more serious (depression or allergic reactions). As a result, experts suggest that it not be taken for more than three months at a time without a doctor’s recommendation and that it be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.


Ancient Egyptian and Roman sources mention medical uses for aloe, and it was well known to be used by medieval Arabs. Its applications range from treating diabetes, hepatitis, arthritis, and inflammation (in the case of aloe gel) to serving as laxatives (in the case of aloe latex). It has also been reported to treat skin conditions like acne, baby rash, and psoriasis, as well as helping heal wounds by improving blood circulation and preventing cell death. That said, it does carry the risk of causing dependency (if used as a laxative) and has enough potential side effects, particularly for individuals who are already sick or are taking medication, that it’s smart to consult one’s doctor before using it for purposes other than applying it to the skin to reduce pain or inflammation or treat diseases and injuries.


Like aloe, honey has been used to treat wounds since the days of the ancient Romans. Because honey contains enzymes that release hydrogen peroxide, it can help accelerate healing and prevent infection.

These are only a few of the plants and other natural substances that are commonly used as medicine today. Others include St. John’s wort, Ginkgo biloba, garlic, saw palmetto, chamomile, and ginger.

Special thanks to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Collective Evolution, The Week,, WebMD, University of Maryland Medical Center, and The Mayo Clinic for the information contained in this article.

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These 3 Common Food Additives Are Being Linked to Food Allergies

By Matt Rozsa

If you experience an allergic reaction to certain foods, it may not be because of the foods themselves. Scientific studies have found that food additives — substances which are added to foods to improve their taste or appearance — can cause these allergic reactions. Although most food additives are harmless, some of them can have a harmful effect on the people who eat them, especially when they aren’t aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. 

The most recent additive found to stimulate allergic reactions is (1) tBHQ (or tert-butylhydroquinone), which is commonly found in cooking oils, breads, crackers, waffles, and nuts. As a scientist at Michigan State University discovered, this preservative can also cause allergic reactions to foods like milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, and shell fish. Another additive that has been reported to stimulate allergic relations in a small number of patients (2) are sulphites. These have been used as anti-browning agents during the manufacturing process for many foods, as well as preservatives, and appear in everything from dried fruit and white vegetables to alcoholic beverages like wine and beer and seafood. Certain people with asthma can be hypersensitive to sulphites, and there have been reports of sulphites triggering skin reactions as well.

Sulphites aren’t the only preservatives that have been linked to these kinds of problems. (3) Benzoates and Parabens (which are added to medicines and beverages like sugar free Coke) may cause urticaria, asthma, and angioedema, while antioxidants that are added to prevent spoiling can trigger asthma, rhinitis, and urticaria. Similarly, additives that exist to enhance a food’s flavor can lead to allergic responses, such as the sweetener aspartame (which can cause urticaria, itchy hives, and swelling) and monosodium glutamate (MSG), commonly found in restaurant Chinese food, which can lead to headaches, burning, and a tight sensation in the face, neck, and chest.

It is important to point out that not all people will have allergic reactions to food additives. Indeed, the reactions that have been reported in the past have only occurred in a small number of people. That said, when people eat their favorite foods, they rarely imagine that there are foreign substances completely unrelated to what would naturally occur within that product. This is the risk that one takes when purchasing non-organic materials — namely, that your bread or beer or Chinese food contains more than what you’d naturally assume is there.

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Why Mushrooms Are Just So Darn Good For Us

By Elena Sheppard

Let’s talk about mushrooms, not “magic” mushrooms, or “special” mushrooms, just good old fashioned put them on your hamburger, or in your salad, or on the grill, mushrooms. Mushrooms are packed with health benefits and are easy to incorporate into just about any meal (breakfast omelettes, anyone?). Let’s discuss.

So why exactly are mushrooms so good for us? Let’s break it down. First of all, mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D and are one of the only fruits or vegetables (to be fair, mushrooms are actually fungi) to contain this highly necessary vitamin. Just like us humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. As a result, mushrooms can provide important amounts of vitamin D to the human diet.

There is also evidence that mushrooms help to boost the immune system. Shiitake mushrooms, Reishi mushrooms, and Maitake mushrooms are all known to have health advantages. Shiitake mushrooms in particular are great for regulating gut health; in addition to helping out the general immune system, Reishi mushrooms have also been found to combat cancerous tumors; meanwhile, Maitake mushrooms are used to combat a variety of ailments.

Other mushroom super powers? They help promote skin and nervous system health. They’re also rich in potassium and selenium — a mineral known for its antioxidant properties and known for helping to prevent bladder cancer — as well as vitamin B which helps support a healthy metabolism. In fact, the type of B12 found in mushrooms is the same as what is found in meat, making mushrooms a great meat substitute for all the vegetarians out there. With so many health benefits, some are even taking to calling mushrooms the “hidden superfood.”

As for where to get the very best mushrooms, shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market is always an option, but growing your own mushrooms isn’t so hard either, as long as you stick to all the necessary health guidelines. All that mushrooms really require to flourish is a cool dark spot to grow (under a sink or in a basement works). Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds, and while that may make it sound like things are a bit more complicated, they really aren’t especially if you take on your homegrown mushroom project with a kit. Back to the Roots has our very own mushroom growing kit, in case you want to start home harvesting this “hidden superfood.”

Whatever your mushroom persuasion, know the health odds are in your favor. Chowing down on some mushrooms is straight up good for you. The hallucinogenic kinds…well that’s not for us to say!

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Is Organic Alcohol Actually Better For You?

By Elena Sheppard

You may already be eating organic, but are you drinking organic too? A lot of us are extremely careful about the food we consume, but we let our guards down a bit when it comes to drinking. The truth is, the same rules that apply to organic food, apply to organic alcohol and by in large the same health benefits are true too. Internationally, people are starting to get that memo and organic alcohol is on the uptick — in Australia, production of organic wine went up 120% between 2011-2014 — but here in the U.S. there is still a little ways to go before it becomes popular. That said, if you’re dedicated to eating organic and eating your best, it’s important to know how to drink your best too.

So, what is organic alcohol? Organic alcohol is alcohol made from ingredients grown on organic farms, which is then processed in very specific distilleries. That is all to say, that when you’re drinking organic alcohol you can be sure that the product and its ingredients are free of harmful pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals. With the lack of all these components, organic alcohol is also better for the environment.

What kinds of organic alcohols are out there? You can find an organic version of most types of alcohol: Beer, wine, vodka, rum, tequila, the list goes on. Going organic does not mean having to sacrifice your favorite drink.

How about the taste? For the most part it tastes the same! Some people even think that when it comes to liquor, the organic versions go down more smoothly.

And, what about hangover intensity? While the official verdict is still out on this one, there are those who claim the purity of the organic alcohol spells less hangovers and those who claim it’s the same old hangover bag. While more research is needed to be sure, there is some indication that less chemicals in organic alcohol means a more tolerable morning after.

There is still a lot to learn about organic alcohol, but feel pretty confident saying we’ll be seeing more organic spirits on the shelves in the year’s to come. Better for us, better for the planet, goes down smooth? Sign us up. Now, we’ll just have to start working on that once-and-for-all hangover cure.  

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6 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating More Turmeric

By Elena Sheppard

If you’re a lover of curries, then odds are turmeric is already a part of your diet. But delicious flavoring and beautiful yellow color aside, studies show (and the history of Ayurvedic medicine indicates) that turmeric is loaded with health benefits. Much of these perks are thanks to the compound curcumin. Found in turmeric, curcumin is considered an anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant, and is also packed with other health perks. Here are just a few healthy reasons why adding more turmeric into your diet might lead to a healthier life.

1. Turmeric helps prevent blood clots

While many of the studies about turmeric are still works in progress, one thing we do know for sure is that the spice helps to prevent blood clots. While there is no indication that consuming turmeric helps to dissolve existing clots, studies do indicate that consumption does help to slow the formation of new clots.

2. It promotes healthy digestion

According to research out of the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric seems to help indigestion, and keep ulcerative colitis in remission. The curcumin within turmeric encourages the gallbladder to produce bile, which in turn seems to lead to indigestion relief.

3. It’s a great anti-inflammatory

Studies prove that turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. One study even indicated that turmeric exacts the same results on joint pain as ibuprofen.

4. Turmeric also helps prevent heart disease

In keeping with the blood clot prevention findings, research also indicates that turmeric helps prevent plaque buildup in arteries which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

5. And it can even prevent cancer

While studies on humans are still in their very early days, research does show that the compounds in curcumin do have anti-cancer effects. In brief, curcumin seems to work as cancer prevention as well as killing active cancer cells. According to Cancer Research UK, curcumin shows the best results on breast cancer, stomach cancer, bowel cancer, and skin cancer.

6. It’s good for your brain

Aromatic turmerone, another compound in turmeric, seems to do great things for the brain. Studies show that the compound repairs stem cells in the brain, which in turn leads to recovery in certain neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.

Some final notes on turmeric

Of course, as with all things, turmeric should be consumed in moderation and with respect for underlying health issues. (You can read more about that here.) Additionally, if you’re deciding whether or not to add turmeric to your life in the form of a supplement, you should speak with your doctor. But adding more turmeric into your cooking and eating habits is a pretty good way to treat your body well. Did we mention, it is also delicious?

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4 Simple Ways Americans Can Stop Wasting So Much Food

By Dylan Love

Earlier this year, France became the first country to ban supermarkets from disposing of unsold food. Italy recently enacted tax breaks incentivizing businesses to donate unused food to charities that provide meals to those who need them. The international community’s tone is clear: let’s clean our plates.

In the U.S., where 49.1 million Americans don’t have dependable access to food, a whopping 40% of food is just thrown away. The Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency are trying to catch up to the rest of the world: they aim to cut food loss in half by 2030. Make it your goal to help — reducing food waste is better for your personal budget, the environment and society.

Tired of opening up your fridge to spoiled milk and rotten produce? It doesn’t take much to change your act. Follow these simple steps to reduce your food waste.

1. Ignore expiration dates.

Date labels can be helpful when shopping, but they’re also basically meaningless. No, really: expiration and sell-by dates aren’t standardized, and few are government regulated. Moreover, expirations “aren’t based on science.” Sell-by dates merely indicate food quality and taste as decided by the manufacturer (which is why they sometimes read “enjoy by”). But they don’t mean anything about food safety.

Forget searching for the barely-legible sell-by stamp. Just use your better judgment, your tastebuds, and Google to determine if food is still good.

2. Eat ugly.

When grocery shopping, do you skip over misshapen produce and dented cereal boxes? Picked-over fruits, disfigured veggies, and overlooked packaged items are often perfectly good to eat — but get disposed of by the dumpsterful because they don’t look good.

The EU deemed 2014 the “Year to End Food Waste,” and thus the Ugly Food Movement was born. The Ugly Food Movement fights against misconceptions that disfigured or discolored food is inedible and unappealing. The campaigns celebrate ugly fruits and veggies, 6 billion pounds of which is unharvested or unsold annually — enough to feed 2 billion people. And that’s just produce.

How can you help? If damage is mostly superficial (and the seals on packaged items aren’t broken) then you’re safe to assume food is edible. Next time you’re shopping, take pity on those imperfect peaches and lightly-bruised bananas.

3. Be a conscientious consumer.

26% of food waste occurs before products are even delivered to stores. Cosmetic standards imposed by big grocery retailers cause farmers to throw away between 20 and 40% of their harvests. Looks and sell-by dates don’t matter, which means one shopper’s trash is another shopper’s treasure.

Check out Imperfect Produce, Hungry Harvest or discount grocery stores and outlets to get ugly food and slightly-expired goods on the cheap. If those aren’t options, consider buying direct from the source at your local farmer’s market or roadside stand.

4. Make “too much” into two meals

When dining out, take your leftovers to go instead of overstuffing on large restaurant portions. Use that half a chicken breast in a fresh salad, or reheat your french toast from brunch for a midnight snack. At home, take the same approach. Instead of cooking the perfectly-sized meal and putting half your ingredients back, (are you really gonna use them tomorrow?) — go all out and make a double batch.

Pack leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, and keep freezer-friendly tupperware on hand. Next time you don’t feel like cooking, defrost a dinner instead. You’ll be grateful to your past self for looking out when the microwave is all that stands between you and a tasty meal.

Still have too much to spare? Invite friends over for a collaborative cooking session, and ask them to bring whatever they need to use up from their fridge and get creative. Make your potluck “no contribution necessary,” so friends who are low on groceries can enjoy a free home-cooked meal.

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The Surprising Diets Used By Many Olympic Athletes This Summer in Rio

By Dylan Love

The Olympic Games in Rio are over. While that’s sad news for us sports lovers, it’s good news for most of these Olympic athletes — not only did they have to extensively train their bodies and minds for years, they also had to supplement their workouts with solid dietary regimes. Now that the Games are ending, they’re free to eat in a way that we might more readily identify as “normal,” even if it does include burgers at 9 a.m.  

According to the National Health Service (NHS), the average person in the U.S. should eat between 2,200 and 2,700 calories in a day. Compare that to champions like Michael Phelps who were eating as much as 4,000 calories per day and up to 12,000 calories in a single week training for the Beijing Olympics. Diets like these are less common nowadays — athletes are more aware of what they put into their bodies and just how much they do.

We delved into some of these Olympian diet regimes to see if we could handle the discipline and eating habits they take on. Are you up for the challenge?


This U.S. women’s gymnastics powerhouse is almost exclusively made of muscle, so you know she’s packing on the protein. But you may be surprised to know that her diet isn’t as strict as her practice schedule.

According to Biles’ longtime coach and trainer, Aimee Boorman, she has never monitored the gymnast’s diet. Instead, Biles’ eating regime was created out of a strict practice routine and her own self-discipline to keep it going.

She told Women’s Health that her breakfast usually consists of either Kellogg’s Red Berries or egg whites. After a three-hour morning practice, she comes back home to eat a protein-packed lunch consisting of chicken or fish. Between practices, Biles can be found snacking on bananas or peanut butter. Then, three more hours of practice and some additional routine rehearsals later, she’s back home consuming her final meal of the day: fish (usually salmon), rice and carrots.

But Biles’ schedule doesn’t keep her from indulging every now and then. She has disclosed that she eats a full pepperoni pizza after every meet, regardless of if she wins or not. Talk about a champion.


It has been revealed that Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s track superstar and the fastest man alive, would eat 100 Chicken McNuggets a day during the Beijing Olympics.  

Bolt is a sucker for fast food, claiming that his body needs the chicken for protein, but he’s changing his ways lately — according to a GQ interview in November 2015, Bolt explained that he has a personal cook to keep track of his meals.

Sprinters like Bolt need intense bursts of energy to complete their rigorous events. While their dietary needs are relatively low compared to those of an endurance runner, sprinters also need to be cautious of keeping their body fat levels low. It’s recommended that 60 percent of a sprinter’s daily calorie intake come from lean protein and carbs; 30 percent from nutrient-dense foods; 10 percent from fat.

The key, Bolt says, is for him to eat at the proper times. In the morning, he eats a small breakfast of an egg sandwich, and for lunch he eats pasta and corned beef — both meals that give him just enough nutrients to get through training and digest fast enough. But the bulk of his calorie intake (which includes veggies, meats, yams, and Jamaican dumplings) is consumed at night before he goes to bed, so he stocks up on energy from veggies and proteins before a full practice schedule the next day.


This five-time Olympic swimming medalist from Australia didn’t have to eat like Phelps to win — in fact, she did quite the opposite.

Wright has revealed that both her training and diet plans for the Olympics were very strict and didn’t leave much room for cheating. She explained that she would frequently throw up during intense training sessions. Olympic swimmers can burn between 3,000-10,000 calories a day by working out, so it’s important for them to eat right, and to eat a lot. Instead of simply loading up on calories like Phelps, Wright would discipline herself to eat healthy and take in plenty of protein.

Wright’s dietary regime consisted of two breakfasts — a pre-morning training meal of whole-grain toast, Vegemite, and a banana, and a post-morning training meal of six to eight eggs. Lunch was made up of meat and a salad wrap, with more protein before and after her midday training. At the end of the day, dinner was mostly meat and vegetables with yet another protein shake before bed. On Sundays, Wright would reward herself with a slice of pizza or a chocolate bar — before going at it all over again the next week.

Wright announced her retirement from swimming just before the Games in Rio, and who can blame her? A schedule that tight can definitely wear on an athlete year after year.

It certainly would on any one of us non-Olympians.

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4 American Foods Known As Poisons Around the World

By Dylan Love

Do you read ingredients? Do you read them closely enough to notice your favorite snack might actually be a real bummer?

It’s increasingly difficult to be health-conscious nowadays. There are major differences in how the American food industry operates versus other countries, differences of attitude in what is an acceptable ingredient and how much is too much. It’s well-illustrated by this 2013 list of eight ingredients that appear in our food on the regular that are banned overseas.

Read on — if you dare — to learn about what you probably didn’t know your food is doing to you.

1. Wraps, rolls, flatbread, bagel chips, etc.

Those carbs that are “good” for you are actually sporting an additive called potassium bromate. It strengthens the dough in such a way that it takes less time to bake, a nifty little food-hack that lowers the cost of producing and distributing your pita chips on a significant scale.

But potassium bromate has been connected to kidney and nervous system disorders and gastrointestinal discomfort. It has also been identified as a potential carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The additive hasn’t been banned in the U.S. yet, but the FDA has issued a curiously worded request of bakers to “voluntarily choose other additives.”

Meanwhile Canada, China, Brazil and all of Europe have officially banned use of the chemical in food products.

2. Fat-free potato chips.

If you think fat-free potato chips are a better snack decision than original or flavored chips, consider this: “light” chips are made with a chemical called olestra — also called Olean — a fat substitute that “makes you real fat,” according to a study by Purdue University. It robs you of your fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, eliminates some important micronutrients, and will actually land you on the toilet for hours. It can induce a lot of unpleasant side effects in humans, like oily anal leakage, stomach cramps, and dissolving compounds in your intestines.

Canada and the United Kingdom have banned this ingredient completely, but some Americans consume it daily, thinking they’re making a healthy decision.

3. Frozen dinners.

In Singapore, you can pay a $500,000 fine and serve 15 years in prison if your food company uses azodicarbonamide, a chemical that bleaches the flour in frozen dinners, breads, pasta mixes, and other packaged baked goods. It’s also found in foamy plastic products like yoga mats and sneaker soles, and has been linked to asthma issues.

It remains a legal food ingredient in the United States, but has been officially banned in Australia, the U.K. and most European countries. Food companies in these places make do without azodicarbonamide by waiting for their flour to whiten naturally. Hmmm.

4. Apples (non-organic).

Despite the brilliant grassroots marketing that one of these a day keeps the doctor away, most American apples are treated with a registered pesticide called diphenylamine (DPA)  to give them their sheer, glossy coat. DPA prevents them from going bad during long months in storage and is part of the chemistry that lets apples be sold in our grocery stores year-round. This chemical is entirely banned in Europe since 2012 because its makers couldn’t prove that it didn’t harm humans; eating an unwashed non-organic apple means you’re putting DPA in your body. So eat an apple a day, but make sure it’s organic!


Keep an eye out for these chemicals on your labels so you can keep on snacking happy!

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Served Up: Your Presidential Candidate’s Stance on Food

Guest Post by Jerry James Stone


Let’s face it—this presidential election has been quite the three ring circus. From building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to Trump’s tiny little man-hands, I’ve enjoyed the whole show along with a bucket of buttery popcorn. Speaking of popcorn, that’s the one topic this election cycle has skipped. No, not popcorn. Food! For the most part, every presidential hopeful has stated where they stand on such issues as GMOs and labeling, but their views haven’t gained the attention of mainstream media as others have. Well, I’ve noticed and here they are served up.

Donald Trump

Speaking of circuses, the GOP frontrunner declared he would stop attending Ringling Brother’s shows because they are phasing out the use of elephants due to animal rights. Plus he also wants to dismantle most government agencies (like the EPA) and even made up ones. It appears that he is anti-GMO, but a lot of his remarks on the technology have been made over Twitter. It’s hard to tell in only 140 characters. The one thing we know for sure about Donald Trump, when it comes to the future of food, is that no one really knows. Not even him.

Ted Cruz

The Texas Senator is a big supporter of GMOs and has gone on record against GMO labeling. “I don’t think the federal government should be mandating labeling that’s not driven by the sciences,” said Cruz during an interview last year. In fact, Cruz is against most regulation of any sort. He has outwardly opposed OSHA, the EPA and its Clean Water Act. He’s even been quoted as referring to the 2014 Farm Bill as the Food Stamps Bill. Chances are, if Senator Ted Cruz is elected president, we won’t know what’s in our food, where or how it was grown, or who even grew it.

Hillary Clinton

During Clinton’s final years as the Senator of New York, she received a decent score from the Humane Society for her animal advocacy. Unfortunately, the candidate also supports GMOs and has some deep ties to Monsanto. However, her stance on labeling is murky. She was part of the Eggplant Caucus that fought to expand farm bill benefits beyond traditionally backed crops. If elected, she wants more funding for beginning farmers and even farmers markets. She also wants to provide increased benefits to farmers who conserve and improve their own farm’s natural resources.  

Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders has cosponsored several bills on animal welfare with regards to agriculture, and is a strong advocate for their rights, especially when it comes to the treatment of chickens. “It is unacceptable that the top 10% of farms collect 75% of farm subsidies, while the bottom 62% do not receive any subsidies,” says Sanders. But his rural policy is light on details for changing this. He’s not anti-GMO but is a huge supporter of labelling. If elected, I look forward to seeing how the Vermont Senator pulls it all off.

Of course, this is not the first election where the future of food has been grossly ignored. But we are hopeful that once both parties have selected a nominee, food will make its way into the conversation.


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Herbs & Spices: What’s the Difference?

herbs spices difference between


The main distinction between herbs and spices is the part of the plant that they come from. Herbs come from the leaves of plants, specifically herbaceous ones. Herbaceous plants do not have woody stems. (Learn more about herbaceous plants in our plant curriculum!).

Examples: mint, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, cilantro*, tarragon

basil plant herb difference between spices

Spices come from the roots, fruits, bark, and seeds of plants (or anything that is not a leaf).

Examples: coriander*, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, saffron

Herbs can be eaten fresh or dry. You can have fresh basil in your pasta sauce, or you can substitute it with dried basil. When cooking, use less of a dried herb than you would a fresh herb – dried herbs are pretty flavorful.

spices cloves cardamom difference between herbs

Spices are dry and pack a lot of punch. Use only a small amount for flavor initially and increase as needed.

*Some plants produce both herbs and spices. Cilantro comes from the leaves of the cilantro plant and coriander comes from its seeds.

What’s up with salt & pepper?

Any guesses? Black pepper is a spice but salt isn’t an herb or spice – it’s actually a mineral!

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