By Gwen Ranniger
The grocery store is a wonderful place: thousands of ingredients and products at your fingertips available to combine, cook, and eat. However, that choice can be overwhelming: while shoppers in the 1970s chose from a mere 9,000 products, shoppers today choose from more than 47,000.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Scott Faber
The staggering number of food and farm workers who have died from Covid-19 has laid bare the Trump administration's disastrous policies on food and farm issues.
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Danielle Nierenberg and Sabrina Endicott
On November 17th, Food Tank is co-hosting a panel with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center on COVID-19's impact on the restaurant and culinary industry and what is being done to help save restaurants. Panelists will include Camilla Marcus, Founder of Independent Restaurant Coalition and Co-founder of the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, Naama Tamir, Co-owner of Lighthouse and Lighthouse Outpost, JJ Johnson, Owner of FIELDTRIP, Tom Colicchio, Founder of Crafted Hospitality, Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, and Salil Metah, Chef and Owner of Laut Singapura Restaurant.
By Emily Payne
The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that diet-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension lead to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. As the pandemic wears on, eaters are preparing more food at home and focusing on healthier meals. Cooking and recipe website traffic surged at the start of quarantine, as did curiosity for meat alternatives.
1. Plant-Based Foods Cannot Provide Enough Protein<p>The <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/current-eating-patterns-in-the-united-states/" target="_blank">U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports</a> that about three-fourths of Americans are eating diets low in fruits and vegetables, while more than half are meeting or exceeding protein recommendations. Meat is often touted as an eater's most important source of protein, but protein is found in all foods—even whole-grain pasta, oats, or vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are just a few protein-packed plants. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, for example, compared to 22 grams in one serving of beef. By focusing on a diversity of whole foods, plant-forward eaters can consume more than enough protein each day.</p>
2. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Are Flavorless (and Have No Texture)<p>Tofu has long been a meat-alternative staple, but plant-based eating has much more to offer. Seitan, often called "wheat meat," is made by filtering the starch from wheat to create high-protein gluten with a similar texture to chicken. Tempeh is made by fermenting soy and can be marinated, fried, steamed, or eaten raw. It has a subtly nutty flavor, and companies like <a href="https://lightlife.com/our-food/?active_filter=tempeh" target="_blank">Lightlife</a>, the largest U.S. tempeh manufacturer, also offer flavors like three-grain, flax seed, smoky, and buffalo tempeh. Countless combinations of beans, chickpeas, lentils, herbs, spices, and grains can be made into flavorful plant-based burgers, meatballs, ground meat, and even bacon.</p>
3. Plant-Based Ingredient and Restaurant Options Are Limited<p>From restaurants to the grocery aisle, chefs and companies are responding to consumers' demand for plant-based options. In March 2020, The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association <a href="https://www.gfi.org/blog-spins-data-release-2020#:~:text=Plant%2DBased%20Food%20Retail%20Sales,Billion%20%2D%20The%20Good%20Food%20Institute&text=2019%20marked%20another%20impressive%20year,total%20U.S.%20retail%20food%20sales." target="_blank">calculated</a> that total plant-based retail sales reached US$5 billion in 2019, growing 11 percent over the previous year, a rate almost five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales. And <a href="https://restaurant.opentable.com/news/features/year-in-review/firmly-rooted-support-for-plant-based-dishes-on-the-rise/" target="_blank">OpenTable reported</a> that in 2019, plant-based reviews on its platform increased by 136 percent compared to 2017. From sliced bologna to ground Mexican beef, there's a plant-based option for virtually any meat craving.</p>
4. A Plant-Based Meal Won’t Be as Filling<p><strong></strong>Processed foods are high in refined starches and sugar that are easier to digest, meaning they're less filling. Whole foods are naturally high in dietary fiber that breaks down slowly, keeping the body feeling full longer. With both fiber and protein, some plant-based proteins can even be more filling than animal meat options. Incorporating healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconuts also lends to a more filling dish. As long as there are plenty of whole foods, a plant-forward diet can fuel sustained energy throughout the day—and with fewer cravings.</p>
5. Eating a Plant-Forward Diet Is Too Expensive<p>By focusing on minimally processed foods, shopping seasonally at farmers' markets when possible, and buying staples like nuts, beans, and legumes in bulk, many eaters save money by moving to a plant-forward diet. The rise in consumer demand for plant-based products also means more companies are joining the market and supermarkets are introducing their own private labels. With a more established supply chain, plant-based meat, cheese, yogurt, and egg alternatives can become more accessible to all budgets.</p>
6. It’s Difficult to Eat Complete Proteins on a Plant-Forward Diet<p>The idea that plant-based proteins must be combined in the same meal to provide a complete protein is a long-standing myth. The <a href="http://www.eatrightpro.org/~/media/eatrightpro%20files/practice/position%20and%20practice%20papers/position%20papers/vegetarian-diet.ashx" target="_blank">Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics</a> says that "the terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met." Even if consumed at different meals and times, the body will combine the essential amino acids it needs on its own.</p>
7. Plant-forward Diets Are Nutrient-Deficient<p>Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense food options available. Dark leafy greens and legumes, for example, are rich with calcium. Beans and lentils are high in protein and fiber, low in fats, and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Many plant-forward eaters cook with nutritional yeast, which contains B12, a nutrient primarily found in animal products. Focusing as much as possible on a variety of whole foods will supply more than enough nutrients. A good trick is to eat the rainbow: colorful foods contain many essential vitamins and antioxidants, and different colors ensure a variety of ingredients (and flavor!).</p>
8. Meat Alternatives Are Ultra-Processed and Unsustainable<p>As plant-forward eating becomes more popular, meat alternatives are appearing everywhere from baseball stadiums to fast-food chains. But many products labeled "plant-based" actually undergo the same amount of processing as typical junk foods, just without the use of animal products. With added processing comes a larger environmental footprint, as well. The best way to choose alternative meat is to check the ingredient label, opting for those with short ingredient lists of recognizable names. The <a href="https://lightlife.com/product/plant-based-burger/" target="_blank">Lightlife Plant-Based Burger</a>, for example, is made from only 11 ingredients with nothing synthetically processed, and the company has committed to <u>reducing its environmental footprint</u> by 50 percent by 2025.</p>
9. Children Shouldn’t Eat a Plant-Forward Diet<p>An article <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356233/" target="_blank">published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)</a> notes that plant-forward diets can meet the nutritional needs of not only children but pregnant mothers, breast-feeding mothers, and infants. And educators agree; Los Angeles public schools adopted meatless Mondays in their cafeterias in 2013, and New York City, the largest public-school system in the U.S., began meatless Mondays in 2019. As plant-forward eating gains popularity, more plant-based alternatives children's favorite classics like hotdogs and chicken nuggets are reaching grocery shelves.</p>
10. Plant-Based Products Are Always Healthier<p>Not all plant-based products are created equal. While french fries are derived from plants, they are also high in oil and salt. The plant-based Impossible Whopper may have fewer calories than the original Whopper, but it contains significantly more sodium. A frequent culprit of this is the veggie burger, deemed a health food but often full of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. The key to a healthy and nutritious diet is minimally processed whole foods. Look out for plant-based products with a small ingredient list (which often translates to a more environmentally sustainable choice, as well).</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/11/ten-myths-about-plant-forward-eating/" target="_blank">Food Tank</a>. </em></p>
By Carly Nairn
Climate change and global food demand could drive a startling loss of up to 23 percent of all natural habitat ranges in the next 80 years, according to new findings published in Nature Communications.
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Meal kit services offer pre-portioned recipes and a fun cooking experience. But what options are best for the earth-conscious family?
For those looking for a quick and convenient way to eat delicious, hearty meals with little to no hassle, there are plenty of meal delivery services to choose from. We've all seen the overwhelming number of meal kits promoted via Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms, but many consumers are left wondering if these delivery services are really worth the purchase. Despite all the hype, these programs can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including their environmental impact.
Purple Carrot<p>According to researchers, you could cut the <a href="https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/11/15/how-much-would-giving-up-meat-help-the-environment" target="_blank">carbon footprint of your diet by 60%</a> by eating plant-based meals for two-thirds of your diet.</p><p>Now, if sustainability is about achieving a balance between human consumption and the environments we impact, plant-based is the way to go. Purple Carrot offers all plant-based meal kits in a variety of tasty menu items. There's even a black bean burger if you want to prepare the vegan-skeptic member of your family a familiar plate. </p><p>Purple Carrot meal kits, in many ways, support the idea that many small, smart choices can add up to a big impact. </p><p><strong>Cost</strong>: Purple Carrot costs $11.99 price per serving for two people and $9.99 per serving for the four-plate plan. With introductory discounts the first week costs $50 to $60. </p>
Sun Basket<p>Sun Basket is our favorite organic meal kit brand. Sun Basket delivers a box of 100% organic produce, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, and farm fresh eggs. Their approach to sourcing wild seafood was named Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® Program.</p><p>Sun Basket aims to support farmers who push for sustainable water management and crop rotations, as well as ranchers and fisherman who treat the planet with respect. </p><strong>Cost</strong>: Three meals each week for two people costs $71.94 plus $7.99 shipping. That's $11.99 per serving.
Green Chef<p>Green Chef is a certified organic company with meal kit plans that include keto, paleo, and plant-based options. You can schedule a weekly delivery or stagger deliveries during the month, depending on your personal needs or how often you choose to cook. Green Chef has a wide variety of recipe options, and according to its website, <span style="background-color: initial;">"offsets 100% of its direct carbon emissions and plastic packaging" through its sustainability efforts.</span></p><p><strong>Cost</strong>: Price is based on the plan chosen, but costs are generally $11.49 per meal for the Keto + Paleo option, $10.49 per meal for the Balanced Living option, and $10.49 per meal for the Plant-powered option. Shipping and handling costs are additional.</p>
Freshly<p>Freshly is the only service we came across that offered corporate options. We liked the idea of a cost-efficient way to serve a large group a healthy meal. Freshly boxes in the office fridge would be a nice reprieve from the typical mid-day exodus to the nearest quick food option. All Freshly meals come in recyclable packaging and the single portions mean less food going to waste during preparation, which makes this a more sustainable option than many single-serving meal packages available in the freezer section of your local grocery store. </p><p><strong>Cost</strong>: Individual meals are $8.99 to $12.50 per serving with free shipping.</p>
Every Plate<p>If you're looking for organic ingredients, simple recipe cards, and a highly affordable option, Every Plate is for you. Every Plate uses less packaging than most other delivery services due to their simpler packages that contain fewer spice and sauce packets. Most Every Plate meals can be made in under 30 minutes, which makes this as close as you can come to fast and "cheap" meals with clean ingredients. </p><p><strong>Cost</strong>: Weekly boxes of two or four servings for as little as $4.99 per serving.</p>
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By Elena Seeley
In response to the 2020 election results, Food Tank and Table 81 hosted a panel to make sense of the election results and discuss what it means to the food system.
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T. C. Knight / Getty Images
By Chaoqun Lu
Stream gauge measurements show that the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) moving from Mississippi River Basin states to the Gulf of Mexico fluctuates dramatically from year to year. Heavy rainfalls can produce higher nitrogen levels. Modified from Lu et al., 2020, CC BY-ND
Percentage increases in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events) from 1958 to 2012. Globalchange.gov
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By Bill Sullivan
Black licorice may look and taste like an innocent treat, but this candy has a dark side. On Sept. 23, 2020, it was reported that black licorice was the culprit in the death of a 54-year-old man in Massachusetts. How could this be? Overdosing on licorice sounds more like a twisted tale than a plausible fact.
The Root of the Problem<p>The unfortunate man who recently succumbed to excessive black licorice consumption is not alone. There are a smattering of similar case reports in medical journals, in which patients experience <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26380428/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hypertension crisis</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.5414/cn107011" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">muscle breakdown</a> or even death. Adverse reactions are most frequently seen in people over the age of 40 who are eating far more black licorice than the average person. In addition, they are usually consuming the product for prolonged periods of time. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In the most recent case</a>, the Massachusetts man had been eating a bag and a half of black licorice every day for three weeks.</p><p>Licorice is a flowering plant native to parts of Europe and Asia. Its scientific name, <em>Glycyrrhiza</em>, is derived from the Greek words "glykos" (sweet) and "rhiza" (root). The aromatic and sweet extract from its root has long been used as an herbal remedy for a wide variety of health maladies, from heartburn and stomach issues to sore throats and cough. However, there is <a href="https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/black-licorice-trick-or-treat" target="_blank">insufficient evidence to support that licorice is effective in treating any medical condition</a>.</p><p>Glycyrrhizin (also called glycyrrhizic acid) is the chemical in black licorice that gives the candy its signature flavor, but it also leads to its toxic effects.</p><p>Glycyrrhizin mimics the hormone <a href="https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/aldosterone/" target="_blank">aldosterone</a>, which is made by the adrenal glands when the body needs to retain sodium and excrete potassium. Sodium and potassium work together as a kind of cellular battery that drives communication between nerves and the contraction of muscles. Too much glycyrrhizin upsets the balance of these electrolytes, which can raise blood pressure and disturb the heart's rhythm. Other symptoms of excessive licorice intake include swelling, muscle pain, numbness and headache. Examination of the man who died from consuming too much licorice revealed that he had <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dangerously low levels of potassium, consistent with glycyrrhizin toxicity.</a></p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcpc2002420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>It should be noted that a number of licorice-based foods do not contain real licorice, but use a flavoring substitute called anise oil, which does not pose the dangers discussed here. In addition, despite its name, <a href="https://www.livestrong.com/article/537724-black-licorice-vs-red-licorice/" target="_blank">red licorice rarely contains licorice extract</a>. Instead, red licorice is infused with chemicals that impart its cherry or strawberry flavor.</p><p>Products that contain real licorice are usually labeled as such, and list licorice extract or glycyrrhizic acid among the ingredients. Be advised that some products, such as black jelly beans or Good & Plenty, are mixtures of different candies that contain both anise oil and licorice extract.</p>
Hidden Dangers That Increase Risk<p>Glycyrrhizin has the distinct licorice flavor and is <a href="https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Licorice" target="_blank">50 times sweeter than sugar</a> and has been used in other types of candy, soft drinks, tea, Belgian beers, throat lozenges and tobacco. This can make it challenging to keep track of how much glycyrrhizin has been consumed, and a combination of these products could trigger adverse effects.</p><p>Some people take dietary or health supplements that already contain licorice, which increases the risk of toxic effects from eating black licorice candy. Certain medications such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.5414/cn107011" target="_blank">hydrochlorothiazide</a> are diuretics that cause increased urination, which can lower potassium levels in the body. Glycyrrhizin also lowers potassium levels, further disrupting the balance of electrolytes, which can produce muscle cramps and irregular heart rhythms.</p><p>People with certain preexisting conditions are more susceptible to black licorice overdose.</p><p>For example, patients who already have low potassium levels (hypokalemia), high blood pressure or heart arrhythmia are likely to have greater sensitivity to the effects of excessive licorice. Those with liver or kidney deficiencies will also retain glycyrrhizin in their bloodstream for longer times, increasing their risk of experiencing its adverse effects.</p>
What to Do?<p>If you're a fan of black licorice, there is no need to ban it from your pantry. Eaten in small quantities from time to time, licorice poses no significant threat to otherwise healthy adults and children. But it is advisable to monitor your intake.</p><p>With Halloween approaching, be sure to remind your kids that candy is a "<a href="https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@global/documents/downloadable/ucm_305557.pdf" target="_blank">sometimes food</a>," especially the black licorice. The <a href="https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/black-licorice-trick-or-treat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FDA has issued warnings</a> about the rare but serious effects of too much black licorice, advising that people avoid eating more than two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks or longer. The agency states that if you have been eating a lot of black licorice and experience an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your health care provider.</p><p>Some scientists have further cautioned against the routine use of licorice in the form of a dietary supplement or tea for its alleged health benefits. A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2042018812454322" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">review article from 2012</a> warned that "the daily consumption of licorice is never justified because its benefits are minor compared to the adverse outcomes of chronic consumption."</p>
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