Category Archives: food

White House not happy with school lunch ads starring Obama girls

There were 14 ad banners at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on August 4 that the White House wanted to disappear. A young girl is featured asking, “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”
The White House may want the ads gone but they are within the right of free speech. While the administration has said that using the daughters of President Obama infringes on their private life, the ads only ask a legitimate question. ABC Blogs reports:

“We’ve been very clear I think from even before the administration started that their two girls would have a very private life, and we want to protect that private life and their privacy,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning when asked about the PCRM posters. “And we hope that others will be respectful, as many in the media have been, about not using the girls as a publicity stunt.”

No one though is speaking on behalf of the eight-year-old Jasmine Messiah of Miami-Dade who is featured in the ad asking a very real question of the government. Why do some children reap the benefits that all children deserve? The ads are from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) who are lobbying for healthy lunch programs within the nation’s school systems. CBS Blogs reports:

“The contrast is not with the daughters,” Dr. Neal Barnard says of the controversial poster, pointing out that Sasha and Malia’s names and pictures are not in the ad. “The contrast is with the school the president’s daughters are able to patronize. Sidwell Friends is able to offer health nutritious meal options.” Veggie burgers are offered alongside hamburgers, vegetarian chili is served next to meat chili with higher cholesterol, he says. “Go a mile away to any school in the district” and what options are there to a bologna-and-cheese sandwich? he asks. “What’s left? Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Little Jasmine brings her own lunch to school by the way in order to have fruits and vegetables. MSNBC quotes the young girl:

“Sometimes I bring in broccoli and carrots and my friends are like, ‘Ewww, this is disgusting,’ ” she told The Miami Herald. “But I think if they tried it more, they’d like it.”

Jasmine is wise. The United States is dealing with a nation of children that have unhealthy diets. At this point one in three will deal at some point in their lives with diabetes. Changing the diets of children in the school could lead to a healthier nation. The campaign by PCRM points out the fact that the average school is pushed to serve high-fat, high-cholesterol foods. This is in spite of the knowledge that a low fat, vegetarian diet helps prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The federal child nutrition legislation does not have provisions in place to support vegetarian meals in schools. News 8 reports that the ads will remain in place at Union Station until August 31.
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Women Eat Less When On a Date

Perhaps the best dieting tool for ladies is to eat out with single men. A study by Canada’s McMaster University shows women eat less calories when dining with men than alone or with other women.
Scientists have confirmed what men have known all along, women order a salad instead of a steak when they are on a date. The study was recently published in the international journal Appetite. When women are dining out with men, either alone or in a mixed-gender group they order smaller caloric meals than when they are dining with other women. The less men in the dining picture the more hearty a meal will be ordered by a lady. When dining with men in a group the average woman’s meal was 450 calories compared to the 700 to 750 calories when dining with other women. Canada.com reports:

“It seems to fit with our intuition. We always hear advice about going on a first date and only eating salad,” said Young, a PhD candidate with the university’s department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour. “Our hypothesis was that we use food to signal attractiveness: ‘We’re healthy. We’re in good shape. we’re pretty.”

Researchers observed 469 people dining alone, couples and larger groups over four weekdays during one week at three different large cafeterias in Hamilton, Ontario. The observers did scan sampling, observing the room and gathering the data that happens at that moment. The researchers recorded the food items in front of each person other than beverage choice. The teams then converted the caloric information of each meal using data from the dining management of each cafeteria. The researchers at McMaster University believe that this act is a subconscious way to attract a mate. Newslite reports:

“It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive,” says researcher Meredith Young.


Your weekly shopping bag could make you sick

Do you clean your reusable grocery bags each week before you put them away? If you don’t you could be setting your family up for a painful bout of food poisoning.
Using reusable bags for your marketing is a great idea for the environment but make sure you clean the bags after each use. Toronto-based Sporometrics research director Dr. Richard Summerbell warns of a food poisoning risk from contaminated bags as just one of several conditions. Other risks from a dirty bag include bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections.

The study conducted showed that 64% of the reusable bags tested were contaminated with some level of bacteria and close to 30% had elevated bacterial counts higher than what’s considered safe for drinking water.

One key containment was the presence of faecal intestinal bacteria. All meat should be individually wrapped before being put in your shopping bag.

Don’t use your shopping bags for anything other than shopping for safety sake. Shopping bags are not multi-taskers.

One tip I can offer is reusing the bags for collecting recycling at your house. We use the bags for this and they hold up well week after week. Because the bags are only used for recycling they are not taken out again for marketing trips. The bags that are have to be cleaned after each trip.


What You Order May Not Be What You Get At Toronto Sushi Places

When one orders sushi at their favorite Japanese restaurant they assume they are getting what they ordered. That thought would be wrong in many Toronto sushi spots according to an investigative report from the Toronto Star.
“It would be an extraordinary circumstance if they didn’t provide what was on the menu,” says Henry Postulart when asked if he expected red snapper when he ordered it from a sushi place. When he was informed that was not always the case, “I would expect it to cost less if it was tilipia.”

In Toronto according to a Toronto Star investigation not getting what you order seems to be a common practice. Collecting 12 red snapper sushi samples from across the city the newspaper had them tested in the lab. Of the 12 samples only one was actually red snapper. One of the sushi samples was from red seabream and the others were all tilipia. The fish samples were tested and matched using the renowned Barcode of Life DNA database at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph.

The reason is the price tag. Tilapia costs about one-fifth of the cost of red snapper.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency allows four species to be identified as red snapper and 24 as snapper. Not one of the allowed fish however are tilapia or seabream.

As a side note, crab meat is also often artificial crab. If a person has a milk allergy crab meat in sushi needs to be avoided.

While an experienced sushi chef would easily be able to tell the difference between snapper and tilapia most consumers haven’t a clue. So how do you insure that you’re enjoying red snapper sushi? The only way to be sure that your sushi is what you want is to make it yourself.

“The authentic way is to get a whole fish and fillet it yourself,” says Bruce Bu, owner and chef at Yuzu on Adelaide St. W. He lists two tais on his menu. One is described as “red snapper from Japan,” another as “snapper from Greece.” DNA tests showed the former is red seabream.


Obama May Have Just Started The Pizza Wars

President Barack Obama loves Chris Sommers’s way of making a pizza pie. So much so that the man was flown to the White House this week to whip a few pizzas up for the First Family. The news isn’t making those in Chicago that happy.
Sommers is from St. Louis. When President Obama was campaigning last year in his town he happened upon Pi’s Pizza in the Delmar Loop where the pies are made and loved them.

This week Sommers boarded a plane with 20 pounds of dough and three gallons of pizza sauce to cook his specialty at the White House kitchen. Sommers was serving up his pie to 140 guests Friday night.

The Sun quotes Sommers:

Chris was due to cook lunch at the White House yesterday, reported People.com. He said: “It’s surreal. It’s a huge honour.”

He made have made folks outside of Chicago happy but those in the windy city aren’t really sure about this ‘foreign policy.’ As Politico quotes Marc Malnati, owner of 30 Lou Malnati’s Pizzerias across the Chicago area.

“I like his economic policy — I think he’s going to get us out of trouble. I like his foreign policy — he’s making friends around the world. His pizza policy is going to have to change.”


It’s Time For Toronto’s Daily Bread’s Spring Food Drive

special for Digital Journal:

Toronto’s CityTv is kicking off it’s Spring Food Drive at a time when the Daily Bread Food Bank needs help more than ever.
On Wednesday the CityTV Spring Food Drive started collecting donations and offering people a chance to win 10,000 Airmiles and other prizes.

This morning at 6 a.m., Breakfast Television hosts Frank Ferragine and Jennifer Valentyne were at the Metro at 3003 Danforth Avenue to start receiving donations of non-perishable foods and monetary donations from the public. The early morning effort brought in $7,600 and more than 6,000 pounds of food.

Cash of course is always welcome but for those who would rather give food the most needed items are:

* peanut butter
* macaroni and cheese
* canned fruit and vegetables
* white or brown rice
* dried pasta and pasta sauce
* canned fish or meat
* baby food and formula

Those who want to contribute can do so by clicking on the Daily Bread Food Bank website or by calling 416-203-0050.

I spoke with Gabrielle Chackal, Communications & Marketing Officer of the GTA Daily Bread office, about the need for donations. Every month across the GTA The Daily Bread helps about 80,000 people have enough food to make it through the month. This spring the need for donations is even greater as the Daily Bread has started to see an increase at some locations in the GTA of up to twenty percent due to the recession.

Ms. Chackal said the charity is hoping that when people do their grocery shopping this weekend that they will take the time to plan out a few extras to drop in the collection boxes at most area grocery stores. Those who would prefer to make donations elsewhere can drop off food and money donations at their local fire hall.

While non-food items such as diapers and toothpaste are accepted the need at this time for healthy non-perishable food is greatest. Often commercial sponsors provide larger quantities of non-food products that are distributed to families in need.

“We tend to focus on food and financial donations,” Ms. Chackal said.

Those who are in need can call the Daily Bread at 416-203-0050 to get a referral for the Neighbourhood Food Bank closest to you.

You need to bring with you identification for all family members, proof of income and expenditures and proof of your current address. You will only need to bring this information with you the first time you visit a food bank and at times when updates are needed. You always will need to bring your ID with you. Once every six months to a year your information is updated.

The food banks can help you with a two to three day supply of food based on the number of people that are in your family.

Some of the monetary donations go into research. The Daily Bread is currently doing a survey of the amount of visitors to their food banks. Those results will be out in June.

“The Daily Bread works on the roots causes of poverty and hunger. They use statistics to help make change and to get to the root of the problems. Using the statistics the Daily Bread is able to educate the government on how to make realistic policy changes that can help rid the city of poverty and hunger,” Ms. Chackal told Digital Journal during a telephone interview.

The Daily Bread is a registered charitable organization. It’s registered charity number is:11888 1549 RR0001.


Poisonous Spiders Spotted On Store Bought Organic Grapes

When you are buying organic grapes at the grocery you may want to make sure that spiders aren’t attached to fruit. The spiders are not that nice guys either, their bite could kill.
While it may sound like an urban legend poisonous spiders have been spotted in store bought clusters of grapes in Ohio, Boston, South Africa, and the U.K.

As the demand for organic products grows so does the use of natural predators like spiders as a kind of biological pest control. The grapes aren’t harmed by the spiders who prey on insects.

Gourmet reports:

“IPM (integrated pest management) is very mainstream in the table-grape industry and has been for a while now,” Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, says. “It’s just a smart, logical way to grow grapes, and spiders are a beneficial part of that.”

In vineyards spiders account for 95 percent of predators used in IPM. Some of the vines have 10-50 spiders on them. Increasing percentages of black widows are being used. This is posing a serious problem though for the humans who love the grapes.

Not only do black widows thrive in organically farmed grape orchards where insects of all types abound, but they’re also thought to be resistant to many of the newer, less toxic insecticides and pesticides currently used by conventional growers.

Grapes aren’t the only fruit that carries spiders at times. Bananas have been known to have large brown spiders attached to. Last month a store manager at a Tulsa, Oklahoma Whole Foods found one of the spiders. It was feared that the furry beast was the Brazilian wandering spider which is one of the world’s more venomous spiders. It turned out to be a huntsman spider who just looks like a killer.

While most of the spiders are cleared from the fruit during the packing stage some do manage to take a free ride from the vineyard to a grocery story.

In Australia and New Zealand grapes are gassed before they are brought into the country.

“Organic growers don’t have a lot of proven options for controlling spiders,” Dr. Devin Carroll, an IPM consultant who has spent more than 20 years observing spiders in vineyards, says. “Care during packing is important, but it’s hard to avoid missing a few.”