Archive For The “Health” Category

Studies Show “Dirty Dozen” Recommendations Unsupportable, Verify Produce Safety

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Since 1995, an activist group has released a so-called “dirty dozen” produce list.  However, peer reviewed studies show this list’s recommendations are not scientifically supportable while other studies show it may negatively impact consumers since it discourages purchasing of any produce – organic or conventional.

“There are many ways to promote organic produce without resorting to disparaging the more accessible forms of fruits and veggies that the science has repeatedly shown are safe,” says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), which represents organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables.  “For example, the AFF has awebpage at safefruitsandveggies.com with lots of positive information for consumers about organics,” she adds. 

“It is time to stop calling non-organic forms of healthy fruits and veggies ‘dirty’ and perpetuating unfounded safety fears that may negatively impact  consumers’ purchasing of both organic and conventional produce,”  Thorne says. 

Some key studies about produce safety and nutrition include:

  • A study specifically examined the risk/benefit of consuming a diet rich in conventionally grown produce and pesticide residue exposure.  That study determined that if half of all Americans increased their consumption of a fruit and vegetable by a single serving each day,20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.  The study authors concluded that the overwhelming difference between benefit and risk estimates provides confidence that consumers should not be concerned about cancer risks from consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Peer reviewed research has shown that the author’s “dirty dozen” list recommendation to substitute organic forms of produce for conventional forms did not result in a decrease in consumer risk, because residues are so low on conventionally grown produce, if present at all. 
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) residue sampling program both found that more than 99 percent of the produce sampled had residues far below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety levels, if present at all.  The USDA stated in their report summary:  “Based on the PDP data, consumers can feel confident about eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.”
  • An analysis conducted by toxicologists with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program found a child could eat hundreds to thousands of servingsof a fruit or vegetable in a day and still not have any health effects from residues.  For kale, a woman could eat 18,615 servings in a day and a child could consume 7,446 servings.

Thorne adds that there are decades of nutritional studies largely conducted using conventionally grown produce which conclude that a diet rich in fruits and veggies prevents diseases, improves health and increases lifespan.

“Sinceonly one in 10 Americanseat enough fruits and vegetables each day, it is important to promote consumption and support public health efforts to encourage healthier diets instead of creating unnecessary fears about eating non-organic fruits and vegetables, which are wholesome, safe and more affordable,” Thorne says.

For consumers who may still be concerned about residues, the FDA sayswashing your produceunder running tap water often removes or eliminates any residues on organic and conventionally grown produce that may be present.

To learn more about the safety of all fruits and vegetables visit safefruitsandveggies.com or our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information about the safety of fruits and vegetables. The Alliance does not engage in any lobbying activities, nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.
 
A gift from the Alliance for Food and Farming to the Illinois Institute of Technology, Center for Nutrition Research helped fund the research published in the peer review journal, Nutrition Today. However, the AFF was uninvolved in any facet of the study nor were we made aware of the study findings until after the paper was peer reviewed and accepted by the journal.

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Organic Produce Sales Total $5.6 Billion in 2018

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Organic fresh produce is booming despite total grocery store dollar growth may have climbed only two percent in the last year.

The Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Nielsen, have released new data showing organic produce sales have set new records, totaling $5.6 billion in 2018, far exceeding the status quo. And the year ended on a particularly high note as sales soared 13 percent the final week of the year.

The OPN notes it is particularly interesting is an impressive two-thirds of all produce commodity groups increased organic sales year-over-year which indicates this is not an isolated incident. At the same time, organic growth occurred in these three categories despite a decline in conventional sales.

According to a press release, fresh produce represented 26 percent of total store organic sales, and a growth rate of 8.6 percent was on par with total store organic, suggesting a continued movement toward mainstream demand across product consumption.

Many popular organic categories exceeded $20 million in sales in 2018—among them organic bananas, apples, and grapes

In terms of absolute dollars, blueberries saw the greatest increase followed by prepackaged salads. Many popular organic categories exceeded $20 million in dollar growth—among them organic bananas, apples, and grapes.

“Although organic accounted for 10.1 percent of total produce sales, it’s driving a disproportionate amount of growth within the produce department,” said Matt Lally, Associate Director at Nielsen. “In total, 43 percent of total produce growth occurred from organic items which equates to an additional $450 million sold.”

OPN noted in its press release, organic isn’t a given recipe for success. Products like strawberries and tomatoes experienced far greater growth in the conventional offering, but a closer look reveals how important pricing is for these categories. Prices varied widely—ranging from $1.97 to $3.38 per pound between conventional and organic tomatoes and $2.26 to $4.26 for conventional and organic strawberries.

According to new information released by the Organic Produce Network (OPN) and Nielsen, organic produce sales reached new heights, totaling $5.6 billion in 2018

“When you compare this difference with commodities that experience a high organic growth rate such as grapes, the difference is striking,” noted Lally “Conventional grapes rang in at $2.18 per conventional pound compared to $2.94 per organic pound. Clearly there’s a strong connection between the growth of organic and the price premium with its conventional counterpart.”

In addition to room for growth in the strawberry and tomato category, onions, bell peppers, watermelon, and mandarins are all disproportionately under-represented in organic sales compared to the total produce average. And OPN noted that making organics widely available during key periods like summer holidays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is a great way to reach more shoppers.

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Tests Show Low or No Pesticide Levels in Most California Produce

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(Sacramento) – Once again, tests showed that the vast majority of fresh produce collected by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) met national pesticide residue standards.  During its 2017 survey, DPR found 96 percent of all samples had no detectable pesticide residues or were below levels allowed by the U.S. EPA.  

The findings are included in DPR’s just released 2017 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report.

“DPR carries out extensive sampling of pesticides on fresh produce, and once again it shows that California consumers can be confident about eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Brian Leahy, Director of DPR. “California growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards.”

The 2017 report is based on year-round collection of 3695 samples of produce, from 28 different countries, including those labeled as “organic.”  DPR scientists sampled produce from various grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food distribution centers, and other outlets throughout California. The produce is tested for more than 400 types of pesticides using state of the art equipment operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets levels for the maximum amounts of pesticide residue that can be present on fruits and vegetables, called a “tolerance.” It is a violation if any residue exceeds the tolerance for the specific fruit or vegetable, or if a pesticide is detected for which no tolerance has been established.

California Specific Results

More than a third of the country’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2017 DPR found:

  • About 25 per cent of all produce samples tested were labeled as Californian-grown,
  • About 95 per cent of these samples had no residues on them or were within the legal levels,
  • About 5 per cent of California samples had illegal residues, including kale and snow peas. These are pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity.  However, none of those residues were at a level that would pose a health risk to consumers.

Other highlights from the 2017 report include:

  • 41 percent of all produce samples had no detectable residues at all,
  • 55 percent had residues detected within the legal level.
  • 4 percent of all the samples had pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity.

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Dietitians Cite Blueberries, Beets among top 2019 Superfoods

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Fresh produce takes four spots on a new top 10 list of superfoods.

Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian surveyed more than 1,300 registered dietitian nutritionists on which foods consumers will favor as healthiest in 2019.

Avocado, blueberries, beets and exotic fruit like acai and golden berries all made the cut, according to a news release. Other items on the list were fermented foods, seeds, ancient grains, nuts, coconut products and non-dairy milks.

Beets and blueberries were new to the list, while kale finished outside the top 10.

Those surveyed reported keto as the number one diet trend, followed by intermittent fasting.

“It’s clear from these predictions that consumers are on the hunt for a flat belly and will take extreme diet measures in their pursuit,” Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian wrote in the release.

The top diet trend reported for last year was clean eating, which dietitians point to as still relevant if not as wildly trendy as the other two.

“It’s not that ‘clean eating’ has declined in popularity,” Jenna Bell, senior vice president of Pollock Communications, said in the release. “We are still seeing the consumer push for cleaner labels and the industry continues their work to deliver it. But what’s different here is that millennial consumers are going beyond eliminating a food group, like cutting gluten, to making more drastic changes that require real lifestyle adjustments.

“It’s beyond food is medicine,” Bell said in the release. “Now food is the core of wellness.”

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Love Beets Campaigns for Loving Your “Heart-BEET”

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BALA CYNWYD, PA – Love Beets, the creators of everyone’s favorite ready-to-eat beets, will celebrate National Heart Health Month with their “Love Your Heart-BEET” campaign during the month of February.  The campaign will span both in-store efforts and digital activations across the Love Beets social platforms with the goal of educating consumers that beets are a great addition to a heart-healthy diet.

The brand will partner with Kroger stores nationwide to perform in-store demonstrations and distribute Love Beets samples to customers.  With every sample, each customer will also receive a recipe booklet with several beet-inspired recipes that have been certified heart-healthy by the American Heart Association.

“We’re so excited because having these recipes certified by the American Heart Association only adds to the integrity of our campaign,” said Natasha Lichty, Brand + Marketing Director at Love Beets, USA, LLC.   

“Promoting and inspiring a healthy lifestyle is a key part of our mission at Love Beets and we’ve made sure that these recipes are very approachable to show consumers that creating healthy meals doesn’t have to be complicated or too time-consuming,” said Lichty.

The heart-healthy certified recipes include a beet-citrus smoothie, a simple beet and feta salad, beet energy bites, beet hummus crudité platter, a golden beet salad, and a roasted cauliflower beet soup.  All of the recipes have ten or less simple and affordable ingredients, making them easy for consumers to replicate at home.  The recipes will also be available on Love Beets’ website.

Additionally, Love Beets will be partnering with Registered Dieticians on their social platforms throughout the campaign to post more heart-healthy recipes and tips, and to help explain why beets are a great heart-healthy food.

 “Beets are considered a good source of fiber, with nearly 4 grams per cup. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol to protect the heart,” said Sammi Haber Brondo, MS, RD, CDN.

Haber also explained that beets contain helpful compounds such as antioxidants and phytochemicals. Specifically, carotenoids and flavonoids in beets help to protect cells against damage from free radicals, reduce inflammation, and decrease risk of heart disease.

“One cup of beets also contains about 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for potassium.  Potassium flushes out sodium in the body to lower blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of heart disease,” said Haber Brondo.

The Registered Dieticians Love Beets will be partnering with during the campaign include @CaitsPlate, @VeggiesandChocolate, @EmilyKyleNutrition, @Bites by Mia, @DaisyBeet, and @DishingoutHealth.

Follow along on Love Beets Instagram (@lovebeets) throughout February for giveaways, recipes, and tips about maintaining a heart healthy diet and lifestyle! Use the hashtag #loveyourheartbeet to post and find beet-inspired, heart-healthy recipes.

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U.S. Food Supply is Among the Safest in the World

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 By USDA AMS

SWASHINGTON  – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published the 2017 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The Summary shows more than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2017, tests were conducted on fresh and processed foods including fruits and vegetables as well as honey, milk and bottled water. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on selected foods. For over 25 years, USDA has tested a variety of commodities including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products and water.

USDA tests a wide variety of domestic and imported foods, with a strong focus on foods that are consumed by infants and children. EPA relies on PDP data to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at levels that EPA has determined to be safe. USDA uses the data to help U.S. farmers improve agricultural practice and to enhance the department’s Integrated Pest Management Program.

The annual pesticide residue results are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA in monthly reports as testing takes place throughout the year. FDA and EPA are immediately notified if a PDP test discovers residue levels that could pose a public safety risk.

The 2017 data and summary can be found on the Pesticide Data Program page on the AMS website. Printed copies may be obtained by contacting the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Science and Technology Program, Monitoring Programs Division by e-mail at amsmpo.data@ams.usda.gov.

For more information about pesticides and food, please visit the EPA website and the FDA website.

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Imperfect Fruit is As Good As Grade 1 Avocados At Index Fresh

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bA30y Index Fresh

Riverside, C.A. — California-based avocado marketer, Index Fresh is talking about imperfect fruit, those less than perfect avocados. The ‘So Good – Grade 2 Avocado’ brand has a few blemishes on the outside, but taste just as good as a Grade 1 avocado.

There are a lot of reasons why an avocado may be deemed ‘imperfect’ and marked as Grade 2 fruit. An avocado with sun damage or other scarring on its skin doesn’t always mean blemishes or brown spots on the inside.

“The inside of an imperfect avocado will be the same as the inside of a fruit you buy at the grocery store,” said Bailey Diioia, Ventura Field Representative for Index Fresh.

For Index Fresh, Grade 2 avocados are as precious as any other. So, these are marketed to the food service sector keeping in mind that what’s on the inside matters the most. After the bins from the fields arrive at an Index Fresh facility, the team sorts through them and hand-grades the avocados before packing them up for customers.

The avocado company partnered with Vevian Vozmediano (@VevianVoz), Personal Chef and Lifestyle Coach, for easy and delicious recipes using the ‘less than perfect’ fruit. “Imperfect fruit is actually perfect for so many recipes and the mango salad with avocado dressing is an excellent example of how we can use these avocados,” she said.

About Index Fresh

Index Fresh is a worldwide marketer of avocados, sourcing from all major growing regions around the globe, including California, Mexico, Peru, and Chile. Through its dedication to quality, consistency, and innovation, Index Fresh continues to be a leader in the industry.

Headquartered in California, the company has facilities spread across Texas, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois. Early this year, Index Fresh also started operations at its new packing, bagging, and ripening facility in Pharr, TX.

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Strawberries Could Help Reduce Harmful Inflammation in the Colon

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A335by The American Chemical Society

BOSTON — Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a set of painful conditions that can cause severe diarrhea and fatigue. Treatments can include medications and surgery. But now researchers report that a simple dietary intervention could mitigate colonic inflammation and improve gut health. In this case, a strawberry — or rather, less than a cupful of strawberries — a day could help keep the doctor away.

The researchers are presenting their results recently at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“The sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits of many people in this country — high-sugar, high-animal-fat, but low-fiber diets — may promote colonic inflammation and increase the risk of IBD,” says Hang Xiao, Ph.D., who led the study.

In 2015, 3 million adults in the U.S. reported being diagnosed with IBD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IBD includes both Crohn’s disease, which can infect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the colon and rectum. People with IBD also have a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

The dietary consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with a lowered risk of IBD. To establish an effective and practical approach to decrease colonic inflammation in both IBD patients and the general population, Xiao and his team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst focused on strawberries due to their wide consumption. According to Yanhui Han, a Ph.D. student who conducted the study, most of the previous reports focused on the effects of purified compounds and extracts from strawberries. “But when you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can’t be extracted by solvents,” he says. He adds that it also makes sense to study the effects of whole berries because people mostly consume the whole fruits rather than their extracts.

In their experiment, Han and Xiao used four groups of mice — a group of healthy mice consuming a regular diet, and three groups of mice with IBD consuming a regular diet, a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or a diet with 5 percent whole strawberry powder. Xiao says they tried to feed the mice doses of strawberries that would be in line with what a human could reasonably consume.

The researchers found that dietary consumption of whole strawberries at a dose equivalent to as low as three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans significantly suppressed symptoms like body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD. Strawberry treatments also diminished inflammatory responses in the mice’s colonic tissue.

But decreased inflammation wasn’t the strawberry’s only conferred benefit during this study. Colonic inflammation adversely impacts the composition of microbiota in the gut. With IBD, the abundance of harmful bacteria increases, while levels of beneficial bacteria decrease in the colon. Following the dietary treatments of whole strawberries, the researchers observed a reversal of that unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice. Xiao’s team also obtained experimental data that indicated strawberries might impact abnormal metabolic pathways in the IBD mice, which in turn could lead to the decreased colonic inflammation they observed.

Next, the team will try to validate their findings in IBD patients. While eating three-quarters of a cup of strawberries a day could be beneficial for those looking to enhance their gut health, Xiao advises patients to consult with their doctors before changing their diets. He also suggests avoiding this type of nutritional intervention if one is allergic to the fruit.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the USDA.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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New Campaign Highlights the Performance-Boosting of Potatoes

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A32By Potatoes USA

DENVER — The Potato industry is making a strong statement about potatoes to demonstrate the performance-boosting benefits of America’s favorite vegetable.  Potatoes USA, the nation’s potato marketing and research organization, worked with its members to identify a nutrition-based lifestyle benefit that challenges consumers’ preconceived notions about potatoes.  Extensive research led to a strategy based on a key truth: Potatoes fuel performance.  Most people don’t consider the potato a performance food and are surprised to learn about all of the nutritional benefits. 

Potatoes provide the energy, potassium and complex carbohydrate people need to perform at their best. A medium-size, 5.2-ounce potato with the skin on has, 26 grams of carbohydrate, 620 mg of potassium, and is more energy packed than any other popular vegetable.  Potatoes also contain many other important nutrients that athletes seek such as 27 mg vitamin C, 2 g fiber and 3 g complete protein.1  

Adequate energy intake supports optimal body functions and carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles.2  And with the skin on potatoes have more potassium than a medium-size banana. Potassium is an important electrolyte that aids in muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function.

Potatoes USA is bringing its “performance” strategy to life in a new campaign that shows how potatoes fuel athletic performance and poses the question: “What are you eating?” The campaign is based on the idea that consistently beating your personal best isn’t just about how you train, it’s about what you eat.

“The potato undeniably works in the athlete’s favor,” says Blair Richardson, Potatoes USA President/CEO. “The message is clear: If potatoes can fuel elite athletes, they can fuel your active life, too.”

While the campaign features athletes it is not about marketing only to them. It is about showing the power of the potato through people who can influence consumers to think about potatoes differently.

The campaign is being executed through a variety of mechanisms including race sponsorships—including a year-long partnership with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, advertising, influencer marketing, social media and industry engagement.

About Potatoes USA
Potatoes USA is the nation’s potato marketing and research organization. Based in Denver, Colorado, Potatoes USA represents more than 2,500 potato growers and handlers across the country. Potatoes USA was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Today, as the largest vegetable commodity board, Potatoes USA is proud to be recognized as an innovator in the produce industry and dedicated to positioning potatoes as a nutrition powerhouse.  

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Build a Better Bowl of Mushrooms during September

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MushroomBy The Mushroom Council

Redwood Shores, CA – Big bowl. Small bowl. Rice bowl. Grain bowl. No matter the preferred bowl, you can always make it a better bowl with mushrooms.

For Mushroom Month, the Mushroom Council will be devoting September to reminding consumers and chefs about the health and taste benefits of making mushrooms the main ingredient in your favorite bowl build.

“Bowls are continuously ranking among the most trending foods among both foodservice and consumers, and there are plenty of reasons why,” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council. “For consumers, it’s the ultimate convergence of convenience and the globalization of cuisine. At foodservice, you couldn’t ask for a less expensive, more filling dish on the menu – after all, it’s mainly grains, veggies, and not a lot of meat.”

“When it comes to great bowls, mushrooms are the answer,” Minor added. “You need umami in a bowl build, and mushrooms will bring that meaty, satisfying umami flavor.”

Throughout Mushroom Month, the council’s “Build a Better Bowl with Mushrooms” campaign will engage with consumers, influencers and menu developers through a variety of activities, including:

  • “Build a Better Bowl” recipes and videos sharing simple ideas for crafting delicious bowls starring mushrooms recipes.
  • A September 26 Facebook Live session featuring Melissa d’Arabian demonstrating how to build a better bowl using mushrooms. Viewers who stay tuned throughout the whole segment will have a chance to answer a secret question to be entered to win special prizes.
  • The Council spotlighting its Top 5 Bowls at Restaurants Nationwide, with chefs sharing why mushrooms are a must in their bowls. Restaurants include Bubu’s Zen Bowl (Denver, CO), Radio Room’s Barley Buddha Bowl (Portland, OR), ediBOL’s Ginger Sesame Bowl (Los Angeles, CA), Nourish Café’s Golden Gate Bowl (San Francisco, CA), and Sweetfin Poké Miso Eggplant & Shimeji Mushroom Bowl (Santa Monica, CA).
  • Media outreach nationwide spotlighting favorite bowls.
  • Social media “bowl polls” allowing audiences to vote for their favorite bowl of the week. Audience members who vote will be entered to win weekly giveaways.

For more information, visit the Mushroom Council’s Build a Better Bowl with Mushrooms feature at MushroomCouncil.com.

About The Mushroom Council:

The Mushroom Council is composed of fresh market producers or importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually. The mushroom program is authorized by the Mushroom Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1990 and is administered by the Mushroom Council under the supervision of the Agricultural Marketing Service.

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