Today’s Special: Pink Slime

Pink Slime

 

The Scoop on the Slime

An estimated 70% of ground beef consumed in the U.S. contains something called pink slime.

Ammonium-hydroxide is an ingredient in the treatment used to kill bacteria in the slime which consists of beef by-products (intestines, tissues, etc.). Pink slime is found in hamburgers all across America’s school cafeterias and was, until recently, found in fast food chains such as McDonald’s.

The USDA’s recent statement to “The Daily” came under sharp criticism when it announced the purchase of seven million pounds of pink slime in order to support school lunches across the country. There’s even a petition you can sign online to put an end to the slime. With enough public outrage, even big corporations can make big changes (see: Ben and Jerry’s Taste the Lin-Sanity).

McDonald’s Takes Action

McDonald’s is one of the first to eliminate the use of pink slime. Ian Simpson of Rueters explains,

Fast-food chain McDonald’s stopped putting the USDA-approved ammonium-treated meat into its hamburgers in August after a number of food activists, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, drew attention to the additive.

It’s easier for corporations to make changes than the government.  When the USDA is involved, there’s also issues concerning finances. How much cheaper is it to use pink slime for beef in school cafeterias than 93% lean ground beef that you’d make for your own children for dinner? When the quality of any food goes up even a penny and the amount of children you need to serve is equal to seven million pounds, you better get ready to shell out your own money for increased taxes.

Concerned Citizens

Americans are showing their concern and disdain for the USDA’s actions, however a percentage of these complainers have children who are considered obese.  The CDC  reports approximately 17% or 12.5 million of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. What we have a nation of complainers who are really good at signing petitions and yelling at the government while they walk by their child who’s been sedentary since he/she came home from school. The pink slime is probably not the healthiest option, but one must consider what he/she is willing to sacrifice to improve the quality of food in schools or fast food restaurants. If it’s money out of their own pockets, then the USDA should determine the costs of bettering school lunches and pass this information on to the tax payers. Let them vote- that is our right, right?

Between health care, rising fuel costs and unemployment and the huge national debt crisis, it’s not looking to good for extra money laying around these days.

What do you think about this slimy mess? Leave your thoughts below!

Ben & Jerry’s “Taste the Lin-Sanity”

Ben and Jerry's Lin-Sanity Ice Cream

A tactic successful companies use is to find a way to connect with customers as a means to drive sales. It could be the Pope using Twitter to remind people about Lent (driving them to go to Church and keep the Faith), or creating a new ice cream named after a rising NBA star; either way they work quickly to capture the target audience using the tools at their disposal.

A special edition ice cream by Ben and Jerry’s called “Taste the Lin-Sanity” had been sold only at it’s Harvard Square location in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It contained vanilla yogurt and fortune cookies but unfortunately, the reaction from some wasn’t what the company had anticipated. Complaints about the fortune cookies signifying racism lead Ben & Jerry’s to immediately release a statement and stop production, changing the fortune cookie to a waffle cone. The company released a statement apologizing for the ingredient some found racially inappropriate:

We offer a heartfelt apology if anyone was offended by our handmade Lin-Sanity flavor

Ben and Jerry’s acted professional and made the right moves to avoid further scrutiny. Interestingly enough, there are other popular food products that many overlook every day that aren’t the most politically correct. Say, Eskimo pies, or wait a minute… who is Aunt Jemima again? About.com goes into depth about even Uncle Ben:

On packaging, Uncle Ben appeared to be a menial type, as suggested by his Pullman Porter-like attire. Moreover, the title “Uncle” likely derives from the practice of whites addressing elderly African Americans as “uncle” and “aunt” during segregation because the titles “Mr.” and “Mrs.” were deemed unsuitable for blacks, who were regarded as inferior.

In other news, french fries remain French and apple pie is still considered an all-American dessert. In conclusion, if you’re calling an an entire nation of people a food or if you’re ignorant enough not to know the history of a product, we’re all set.

Review: Gyu-Kaku

Review: Gyu-Kaku

Last week a Los Angeles native took me Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese BBQ restaurant. Lately, I’ve been in the mood to explore more of LA’s dining options, so this was certainly a new experience. My partner in crime swore that I’d love this food, but as usual I came into the dining experience with a critical and objective mind.

The atmosphere:

Between 7-10pm Gyu-Kaku was buzzing. We didn’t need reservations (however this may vary depending on the location). The lighting had been dimmed, but still bright enough to read the menu with ease. In the middle of the table is an open grill that allows parties to cook meats whether it be chicken or steaks, at their leisure. Impressed by the quality of the food, I decided to order some additional menu items such as the garlic noodles and rice to accompany the steaks and chicken.

The waitstaff:

Extremely attentive and caring which showed that this chain clearly values service and quality. Every time drinks ran below half full we were immediately served replacements. You won’t find a skeleton crew running at this restaurant as it gets packed even during the weekdays. As with any company, hiring the right people who take pride in their work translate into excellent service. Needless to say, Gyu-Kaku scored a perfect 10 in the service category.

The food:

Garlic noodles are quite popular– and for good reason. Thick and basted with garlic sauce leaves one with some bad breath but happy taste buds. The meats were all excellent, in this case I preferred all steaks over the chicken–a rarity for anyone who knows me. The fact we could cook the meats to our liking right on the table made for a fun and interactive dining experience.

The verdict:

Gyu-Kaku is the perfect setting for a night out with friends or a date. For business settings, I’d recommend that taking a new client/customer here may be a fun way to get to know them better while reducing any tension. The fun but elegant atmosphere provides for a topic of conversation in itself. The attire really depends on the person. Some people passed by in sweatshirts and jeans and others dressed up for a night out. I’d definitely take any visitors to the LA area here for a high quality meal, however according to the bill at the end, it’s a bit pricey. Even Yelp! gives it three dollar signs signaling don’t be prepared to catch a bargain here.

“Be Your Own Chef ” is Gyu-Kaku’s tagline. It fits perfectly with the theme /synergistic effect of a modern day Japanese BBQ.

 

Pizza is Vegetable. Congress is Confusion.

More pizza please!

Some Americans are unsure about the latest controversy in school lunches. The LA Times reported that the USDA released a proposal targeting the concerns in cafeteria lunches,

One concern was that schoolchildren weren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables in their lunches and that the variety was too limited.

Tomato sauce could be pizza’s savior when looking for positives about the greasy cheese laden food. As a tomato lover myself I frequently request extra sauce on all pizzas I order from Papa Johns or out in restaurants. One thing I never did: eat cafeteria pizza.

Cafeteria Pizza

If you’ve ever eaten pizza from the cafeteria at work, college or elementary school you know these pizza’s usually have one thing in common: A lack of sauce. Most pizzas come frozen and are heated in an oven that takes roughly 5-10 minutes. The sauce is dried up and the cheese is sparkling with grease. The day I see a cafeteria pizza look like that delicious vegetable pizza on whole grains is the day we’ve truly fixed the school cafeteria’s pizza crisis. The caloric content may be surprising. With roughly 530 calories and 21 grams of fat in the average serving of cafeteria style pizza, Congress should be less concerned about tomatoes and more focused on the bigger picture. Offering a whole wheat crust with less cheese and more sauce is the best way to a healthier offering for our children. In order for the plan to work there will have to be quality control efforts on the pizza that every school serves to students in order to comply with any USDA requirements. It must contain the recommended amount of tomato sauce on every slice otherwise it’s a complete and total failure.

Dana Hammond of the Pittsburgh Food Examiner writes,

Still others argue that making the changes that The Agricultural Department are proposing will cost more money than schools have and create far more waste as children would be throwing away more food than they currently are.

There’s no evidence that children would throw out a saucier pizza, however Hammond makes a valid point that schools don’t have the money to increase food costs. If they did, kids would be eating top quality foods and there wouldn’t be a lack of variety. Like at your annual work Christmas parties. Who will eat these costs if the program does go into effect? We don’t know but we can sure speculate. As taxpayers you still have a little control left.

Tell us your thoughts below!

5 Ways to Save Money on Food

Food prices are like Jack’s beanstalk. They just keep rising and there’s no end in sight. This year marks a time when unemployed, underemployed and even  employed are cutting back the frivolous spending and tightening the budgets. As the holiday season approaches, Reuters asked 1000 Americans how this Holiday season would affect their lifestyle, 

A total of 28.4 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed by Americas Research Group said that rising food costs would cause them to cut back on their Christmas shopping “somewhat,” while another 7.2 percent said that they would “most definitely” cut back.

Have you considered cutting back on gift-giving this holiday season? Roughly 1 in 4 sure have.

Regardless of your financial status, there are simple ways to cut back uncessary spending on food that will result in an extra $20, $40 or more in your wallet each month. Whether you decided to allocate that money on gifts for family and friends or into your 401K, taking these simple steps will give you the freedom to decide.

5 Ways to Save Money on Food

1. Leftovers are your friend. A package of meat can be made into four different meals throughout the week from meatballs to a meat based stew. Not sure about how long to keep food? One of my go-to resources is the Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart by the FDA. This chart shows you how long food can last in your fridge or freezer depending on the type and is also an excellent resource for food safety.

2. Expensive Desserts. Does the Cheesecake Factory come to mind? While dining out is a pleasure many of us enjoy there is no reason we must shell out $7 for a small sliver of cheesecake. It sure tastes great going down, but after going out once a week for 52 weeks, you’ve already spent $364 a year on one piece of cake considering you’re only paying for yourself! If your parents or loved one pays, think of the money they could save too!

3. Jamba Juice/Starbucks. An adage at this point. If you haven’t heard of David Bach’s “Latte Factor”, it’s as simple as it sounds. A latte a day costs on average $5. $5×365=$1,825. Okay, maybe you don’t drink one every day. The point is you could put that money to better use. Addicted to caffeine and need your boost? Make it at home for a fraction of the cost.

4. Multiple Uses for Bread. How many types of bread are in the grocery store? Rolls, bagels, slices, baguettes. I’ve seen people buy flat breads, garlic bread, and sliced bread all in one trip! If you buy one loaf of bread (for a single person) it can last you the entire week. Get creative! A piece of toast with breakfast, two slices for your sandwich and your burgers at night can be sandwiched between two slices put in the toaster oven. Why do you need to spend an extra $15 on bread that really serves a similar purpose? If you’re serious about savings, you will have to make cut-backs.

5. Don’t Save Everything. Buyer Beware: Too much saving and restriction may cause you to be unhappy, miss out from events with friends/family or worse, cause you to binge once you get a little cash in your pocket. By using the rational thought process you can safely determine whether to buy the sliced bread AND the bagels, or if you really just need one item that can act in different ways. Friends going to the Cheesecake Factory? If you’ve been saving money in other ways, give yourself a treat.

The only way to truly save money on food is to be disciplined. Clip coupons, read eFlyers, eat your leftovers and avoid throwing away $5 a day.

Let us know how you are handling your food budget below!

School Supervisor Makes Student Eat from Trash

School Cafeteria Lunch

People teach their pets lessons to help them learn where to relieve themselves. If the dog pees on the carpet maybe they yell “NO!” at the spot. If your child throws out his or her lunch, would you want a supervisor to force the child to eat the sandwich after it’s been sitting in the trash can?

I plead guilty, your reader.

I threw out my sandwich in elementary school too. My friends would buy lunch every day- it was the cool thing to do. Chicken nuggets, pizza, wings. I’d have a lame sandwich and some extra pocket change. What did I do? I threw away my sandwich by shooting three pointers into the garbage can. My friends would cheer and the lunch supervisors would shake their heads (sorry mom, I realize the value of your money now). One thing supervisors never told me to do was eat out of the garbage.

Educators and supervisors have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the safety and good health of their students. At times, it may be hard not to tip toe over the boundaries of parental responsibility, especially for emotional reasons. The LA Times writes,

The supervisor at Earl Warren Elementary School retrieved an uneaten sandwich, wrapped in plastic, from the garbage where the third-grader had tossed it and then made the girl eat it.

Lake Elsinore Unified School District Supt. Frank Passarella said it was a one-time mistake.

The supervisor may have endless reasons for thinking “this is s a great idea”. He/she may barely be able to afford food for the family or maybe he/she is simply  a grouchy trash supervisor who yells at kids all lunch period. If  the responsibility is to ensure and protect the safety and health of the children and someone throws out their lunch it may be a hazard for them to get it out and start munching down. Who knows what kinds of bacteria are in the can. The school says any actions taken against the supervisor are private.

If that had been my child I would have had a conversation with both the child and the supervisor. They both acted like kids.

What would have been the proper action taken by the supervisor? Do you think he/she should be punished for making a student eat from the garbage? Tell us your thoughts below!

Obesity in Poor Neighborhoods: Break the Chain

 

Obesity in Poor Neighborhoods

 

Waiting until something good happens to your body when you abuse it every day is like waiting to win the lottery when you keep using your credit card (and not paying it off). Chances are slim anything will change for the better at this rate.

The income level of a particular neighborhood can generally be a good indicator of the type of lifestyle people may live– but it’s not a tell-all. Just today, a poor rural school district made Yahoo! headlines for having top test scores. So no, not all poor kids suck at math and it’s not always true that poor people are overweight and have diabetes. There are factors to consider when making such bold statements. One factor is truth.

These are common misconceptions about people in poorer neighborhoods:

  1. All buy junk food
  2. All are less educated
  3. All are involved in crime/drugs/violence

These statements are all absolute (do you think this way?). By saying “all poor families buy junk food”  is incorrect. Almost any statement that’s absolute is incorrect. In fact, saying 5 is a prime number with 100% certainty is still foolish. We know math is based on theory, and until proven wrong we “go with it”. Let’s say that theory was found invalid, and 5 wasn’t a prime number. Now what?

In an article titled ” Moving out of high-poverty areas may lower obesity, diabetes risk” MacMillan, a writer for Health.com explores the nature of poor neighborhoods. And although poorer families tend to have higher risks of obesity, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it. Poor neighborhoods doesn’t equal obesity. With the proper education, motivation/passion, anyone can become physically fit.

Poor neighborhoods doesn’t equal obesity.

Yes, maybe the trend is such that, however there’s no theory that’s true because it can be changed. MacMillan reports,

Despite the study’s limitations, Ludwig and his colleagues conclude that public health programs that target obesity and diabetes in high-poverty neighborhoods “could generate substantial social benefits.” This message is important for policymakers and community organizers, but also for individuals living in these neighborhoods, Blanchard says.

After generations of poor eating behavior, it’s only natural that the next offspring develop the same habits. Can we change this? Yes. How? With the right people getting involved who are willing to spend the time to make a difference. Educators and parents, a child’s primary influencers have the power to break the chain.

Visit here for a beginner’s guide to breaking the chain.

Listeria: 21 Deaths From Cantaloupe and Counting

 

Several weeks ago Costco sent a message to club member’s cell phones. It went something like this:

“If you have purchased Rojo’s 6 Layer Bean Dip, please stop eating immediately”.

The message explained  listeria had been found in the factory where the dip was produced and there could be a chance of contamination in the bean dip. What a great system Costco uses, except it came too late. After looking in the fridge, all bean dip had been ingested and digested.

The recent outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe took 21 lives so far and consumers are fearful over the safeness of other fruits, vegetables, and…bean dips.

Huff Post Food reports the following:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported new deaths in Indiana and New York. The CDC also confirmed a death in Wyoming that state officials reported last week. CDC said 109 people have been sickened in the outbreak – including the 21 dead – in 23 states from California to the East Coast.

Since fruit gets shipped all around the country, there isn’t a specific geographical area that’s affected. What makes this situation even more difficult? If you didn’t purchase the fruit yourself to see the label and check what farms it originated from, you’re immediately at risk by eating sliced cantaloupe. The CDC is the most thorough and up-to-date resource available.

The CDC describes Listeria as,

…a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem in the United States. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected. The risk may be reduced by recommendations for safe food preparation, consumption, and storage.

The best way consumers can protect themselves is to stay up to date on disease outbreaks in food, properly washing all produce and thoroughly cooking products which must reach a high temperature to kill bacteria (think meats and eggs).

For more information about current Listeria outbreaks, visit here.

 

5 Year Olds Hospitalized for Eating Disorders in the U.K.

U.K. Battles Childhood Eating Disorders

Bulimia and anorexia shouldn’t be on a list of activities for anyone, let alone a five year old. Fox News reports that in Britain, this is a growing problem,

The number of kids under 9 years old needing hospitalization for the debilitating disorders has doubled in the past year with the nationwide trend being blamed partly on the “size zero” fashion craze.

National Health Service trusts have provided the statistics that are causing many to be concerned about their own children, and take a deeper dive into the reasons behind how a 5 year old could induce themselves to vomit after eating, or restrict their diets so much that they are considered anorexic. The media, such as advertising in print and television is blamed by some to be a culprit.

Parent Responsibility

  • Pay Attention: A child’s guardian has an inherent responsibility to protect and nurture their loved ones. It’s common for boys and girls to experience challenges with body image throughout the teenage years, but at age five? If the problem goes unresolved by the time he or she is 12 or 13 it may be too late. Parents and guardians no matter what country they’re living in must make time to evaluate their child’s health/eating habits.
  • Practice What You Preach: By stressing the importance of a well balanced diet and mirroring the activities of a healthy lifestyle—it will allow children to understand the importance of proper nutrition and reduce the risks of  unhealthy, drastic measures to stay thin.
  • Get Help:  Parents are busy with chores, work, and 101 other things. If you find yourself in a rut and unable to help your young child, there are counselors available to uncover and solve the issues behind childhood anorexia/bulimia.

Reading a story or two may not be enough to scare anyone with small children. But according to research conducted in 2000, Regina C. Casper writes,

…cases of prepubertal anorexia nervosa as early as age seven have been reliably documented for over a century

For over a century.  Regardless of the percentage of the population who experiences childhood anorexia/bulimia, take your child’s health seriously and if you suspect you child may have an eating disorder take action immediately. Every day is a step on the path to death.

 

 

Calorie Labeling: Are You Paying Attention?

Subway Diet Low Fat

Recognizing that obesity is a major health problem in the US, we’ve taken steps to give consumers the ability to make informed decisions on their food based on nutritional facts (in particular calories and fat in a given food item or meal). But the questions many are asking now are “how effective has this national effort been? Are people making healthier options when dining out?”

Jeannine Stein of the Los Angeles Times writes,

Researchers compared purchases and calories among fast food diners in New York City in 2007, a year before calorie labeling legislation started and in 2009, nine months after it became law.

In 2007, 7,309 customers were surveyed, and in 2009, 8,489 people took part. Researchers conducted the study among 168 randomly selected restaurants among the top 11 fast food chains in the city.

Overall calories didn’t decrease in the meals purchased during both years. However, the 15% of customers who used the calorie information bought food that contained, on average, 106 fewer calories than food purchased by people who didn’t see or use the information.

Stein reports that on average, people did consume roughly 100 less calories than before they were informed. What’s not mentioned is if the consumers were more health conscious as an effect of the calories being in plain sight, or for other reasons such as a larger focus in national media about obesity and the health concerns surrounding it.

Some fast food chains have seen people eating slightly better. Maybe they’re shying away from the large fries and getting the medium/small fries. Ironically enough, one fast food chain seems to have the opposite effect which Stein also reports:

At Subway restaurants, average calorie consumption went up 17.8% The irony wasn’t lost on the researchers, who noted that the chain heavily promotes some of its subs as being low in calories and fat. Apparently that wasn’t enough to stop customers from buying the highly advertised (and higher in calories) $5 foot-long subs.

If people aren’t reading the fine print (calories) in a foot long sub they may be thrown for a surprise. Subway uses two marketing techniques, $5 Foot longs, which signify a “deal” to the consumer and “low fat/calorie subs” to attract the health conscious. Unfortunately, these subs claiming low fat and calories are only for 6″. If you’re looking at a 500 calorie 6″, and get a foot long for the deal, you’ve officially lost out on one of the two best parts about going to subway.

Calorie counting or not, Stein brings up some information to ponder on your next trip to the fast food joint around the corner. Are you enticed by deals, low calorie claims, or are you there to eat what you want and think all this is an effort that’s wasted? Leave your thoughts below.