1/20/2015: Food Labeling


After interviewing Peter Laufer on his book, the Truth behind Food Labeling Caryn continues the conversation regarding food labeling.


All right. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. Let’s move on, shall we? Well, that was really something and a, you know, I put out a list a few weeks ago about my best of 2014 and I’m glad the paper book for this book is coming out and it’ll probably come out this year, so I can put that on my best of 2015 list if I didn’t read it before 2015, but this is a really important book and the stories, well, I love traveling and I love, a lot of people love reading and hearing about stories from other countries. A, there were stories in the book about Costa Rica, I love Costa Rica and I have some property there actually and I know many people that live there primarily for the food and to grow food ’cause things grow like crazy there, but just like anywhere there are regulations, there are other people trying to get away with things and you really can never be too sure unless you physically go to where the food comes from and talk to the people who are making it and that’s a really challenging thing um and if any people have the opportunity to do that and travel to different places, it would be great if we could share some of that information and I’m thinking um, we need to do some more activism here, a, there, I don’t buy, um, lots of things in Trader Joe’s , but just as we were talking about before, there, there are like, I think we, those of us who know the store, we have our own particular products that we’re particularly fond of and there, some of the things are really affordable, so, um it’s really hard to not shop there, I’m in quite a dilemma right now. What am I going to do about that and something that breaks my heart is um people that are growing food growing healthy food growing organic healthy food maybe in other countries, I don’t know what the right term is to call the not first world, the not developed world countries, um, but the people that aren’t making a livable wage to grow the food that we eat, this is heart breaking, it’s, so there’s so many levels behind the food that we eat, whether it’s grown organically or whether it’s grown contaminated with herbicides and pesticides and is there blood on it, are the people that are growing it or harvesting it are they treated well, can they send their children to school and it’s really hard to know this information and when the organic certification was coming out there were people that wanted to tie this element in to the certification and of course we don’t have that. They thought it would be important to leave that out and maybe have it be something else, so we have these fair trade certifications now and how do we get it all to be combined and work together so that we know that the food we have is healthy, it’s been grown in a sustainable way it’s been grown by people that are treated well. And a, it’s a, really quite a conflict. I’m probably going to go to Trader Joe’s. There’s some things that aren’t their products things that are in other stores that I probably can get there for a little less um so I might go there for that, um, and I’d like to think that I’m a smart shopper where I’m always looking for the best value and so where I was going before is I there are some foods that are expensive and maybe they’re expensive because they are offering the people that are creating the food a better wage or maybe they’re just highly marked up and it’s really hard to differentiate what the price is. Is it just a high mark up for a small group of people or is it because they’re really covering all the expenses that are involved to make that food. So when I’m thinking I’m a smart shopper and I’m looking for the best price, um, I’m looking at some standard brands like a few can foods. I don’t buy a lot of canned foods anymore because of all the BPA and the plastic linings and that’s a whole other problem, but I look for the best price of a brand that I can get in a number of places and I choose the place that has the lowest price, but that may not apply to all kinds of food it’s really hard so we do have some options for people that can get their produce for example from a CSA and that’s like an ideal way because you normally have the opportunity to talk with the farmers, visit them, visit their farm and see what they’re doing. You have a lot more opportunity to be a part of the enterprise itself that’s making your food and here in New York, we have a winter where it’s hard to grow anything but some things still grow actually especially if you’re doing it and you’re knowledgeable about food and doing it in a sustainable way but I just joined a winter share and it’s from November, December, January, February yeah, the last winter share is in February and this has been really fun because I’ve gotten tons of organic sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, all those root vegetables, carrots, and kale, my favorite food and kale can actually grow way into the winter which is a beautiful thing because those greens are so important so there are ways I wish that we would use our agricultural schools to study how to grow food organically, more efficiently, more healthfully, sustainably with the soil rather than concentrating on how to concentrate animals in factories and grow them efficiently for food. We have a lot of opportunity to get better at doing what’s good for the planet and we just have to insist on it which is a bit of a challenge, isn’t it? So, I was very inspired by this book, frustrated and inspired [laughter] and I really encourage you to read it if you have any stories local stories from farmers in your area or if you’ve traveled places and learned things about some food producers, I would love, really would love to hear, to hear about them, a, it’s always fascinating to me when I travel to different places to see how the food is grown that’s one of the things that interests me most and I love to see the passion of people that really believe in the earth and know it like it’s, like it has a soul and it’s said that we’ve gotten so far away from something that’s so important to our own lives. All right, I wanna believe this is gonna turn around and it is going to turn around. That’s why we’re talking about it. That’s why you’re listening and we want more truth behind our truth behind our food labeling. We need to be able to trace where these foods are coming from. We need more connection between the people who are making our foods, people who are distributing our food, people that are profiting from the sale of our food and us who are getting to eat it. A, and then, there are so many other layers, like I said before, there are so many layers that are involved in food. Once we figure out where our food is coming from and we trust what it is and what’s in it and how it was made and how it was distributed. What are we packaging in it? What are we packaging it with to travel from one place to another. Is it stored at an appropriate temperature so that it doesn’t go rancid or it doesn’t go bad, a, how are they being treated if you’re buying food from another country that’s brought in to this country, there’s all kinds of regulations about the fruit that’s allowed to be brought into this country and what needs to happen to it which is why I tend to stay away for the most part from imported fruit, tropical fruit and then there’s the packaging and I’m kind of in a panic these days, you’ve heard me talk about plastic before and we’re learning more and more about how devastating plastic can be and plastic these plastics that are used for packaging they are more problematic when they’re exposed to UV radiation and heat and these are things we don’t know until we’ve received a product. We don’t know where they’ve been, we don’t know how they’ve been handled, we don’t know what kind of life the plastics have experienced to know how they’ve degraded along the way. So, so many things to think about. It’s overwhelming and I don’t really want to get wrapped up in the fear or the scary part about it because it is kind of scary. I want to focus on the positive and inspire myself and everyone else to do something about it. When talking to Peter Laufer, he was saying he didn’t seem to think that letters to Trader Joe’s would matter and maybe they won’t, but if they’ve received 100,000 or 200,000 letters starting to complain about some of their tactics maybe, maybe they would listen. So, if you are motivated to talk to the managers of those stores or managers of any store that you buy from. I think it’s important to let the managers know, the owners know of the stores that you shop in what’s important to you. They should know. Sometimes they don’t know. Sometimes they don’t know as much as you do about food and you could be educating them and then educating everybody else. We’re continually looking for products in our local stores that just aren’t there. You have to tell them sometimes, “Hey, there’s a new product out. Can you get it?” and this way we can help support the products we believe in and the other can just go away. Go away. So, what do you think? Do you believe in organic food? Do you believe in the labeling? We’ve seen the nightmares involved with trying to get genetically modified foods labeled and we’re not even talking about that. We’re talking about the labels we already have and how to have confidence that they mean what they say they mean and [laughter] another item that was in the book that I was just wondering about is the, you know those little stickers?, that are on food and nobody likes those little stickers. Those little things that are stuck on your fruit that you have to peel off or on your vegetable and they say that they’re organic. What’s in the glue that’s in those stickers? How do we know that’s okay? It’s crazy. Crazy stuff. Alright, we just have gosh just a few more minutes and I wanted to talk before we go about a new study that came out that brought up a lot of ideas in my head so the Journal of American College of Cardiology just had a study where they reviewed people over 20 years and they’re reviewing a variety of people and what they were studying was something called healthy obesity. Now these two words, do they go together, do they not go together. What they studied was that, what they found out over 20 years and this is the first study that’s relatively long term. There weren’t a lot of people in the study, maybe, I think they started with about 2,500 people with 66 that were considered obese, but they discovered that healthy obese adults and healthy in the term of metabolic health, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose levels and insulin resistance. This is what they were measuring. They found that healthy obese adults were nearly eight times more likely to progress to an unhealthy obese state after 20 years then the healthy non-obese adults and there are many of us that believe that when you’re carrying extra weight for lots of different reasons, you are degrading your own health and this is one of the first studies that’s kind of demonstrating that this is indeed true, but there are many different ways to look at the results and one of the ways to look is to think of those obese adults who still were healthy after 20 years, still had good health assessment from cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose and insulin resistance and it shows us that the human body is incredible. It can withstand so much abuse, environmental abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse and nutritional abuse and it is so resilient and I find inspiration in that. You know, there are many people that say, “Oh, my God, that guy, I don’t believe in healthy eating or whatever because I know somebody who lived ‘til 100 or 110 and he smoked, he drank, he ate milk and meat and all this stuff. Yeah, there’s always a handful of people like that and again it demonstrates the amazing resiliency of the human body. So, what I take from all of that is this, if the body is so amazingly resilient, imagine if we treated it the best that we possibly could, fed it the most nutrient dense food and we did all of the good things to make us healthy, can you imagine what we could accomplish? How long we could live feeling great. It’s just really exciting to know what our possibilities are, a, the body is so tough and it can bounce back, too, and feel good and energized, so those folks who weren’t treating their bodies so well along the way, some healthy obese adults that became unhealthy, let’s say, or just some people that are just slightly overweight or those people that have relatively good weight, but inside they’re not healthy. Just switching, changing your diet and eating the right foods at any stage of your life. The body is so forgiving and can turn around and make you feel better and clean and energized and extend your life and improve the quality of life and I find that so inspirational and the way our society works is that we need to have studies and we need to have data even though there are some things that we know instinctually, I can’t talk today. I don’t know why any word over two syllables is just getting stuck. It could be because I am a little tired and didn’t get enough sleep because I was reading this wonderful book to be ready for today, The Truth Behind Food Labeling, but my point is of the body is so resilient and you know, if you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions and you want to improve your health or you’ve been trying for a long time and you’re still struggling, um, stick with it, you can do it. We can all do better and our bodies will just thank us for us and a, feel really good. That’s all I really want. I want everybody feeling good and the last thing I want to mention is I think I might have mentioned it last week, but I’m very excited, we have a brand new web series and we’ve launched the first episode and I hope you go to Responsibleeatingandliving.com and check it out. It’s a combination of a news program, a local business feature and a food show. It’s been really fun to make and I look forward to doing more in the future. I hope you like it. Please give it a look and let me know what you think at info@realmeals.org, info@realmeals.org. Well, thank you so much for listening. I hope you’ve enjoyed this program and please pick up a copy of Truth Behind Food Labeling. Maybe you want to wait for the paperback to come out by Peter Laufer, but it’s a very, very important book. I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week. Bye Bye.


Transcribed by Nanette Gadyi, 10/24/2016

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