Kelly Clarkson is making the media rounds to brag about her latest weight loss success.
The first winner of American Idol is super happy because she totally didn’t have to exercise at all to lose weight. In fact, Clarkson told Extra that she managed to lose weight by following the book The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry. Clarkson said, “It’s basically about how we cook our food, non-GMO, no pesticides, eating really organic.”
I’m not sure how Clarkson defines “cooking,” but I have never sauteed vegetables in pesticides or added GMOs as seasonings.
I asked Dr. Jen Gunter, a San Francisco Bay area OB/GYN, her thoughts about Clarkson’s statements and she was also a bit skeptical. “I’m not aware of any data that links organic foods or GMOs with weight loss,” she explained. “What you eat matters much more than whether you eat conventional or organic.”
If Clarkson really got her information from Steven Gundry’s book, that probably explains why her message doesn’t make any sense. Turns out Dr. Gundry’s claims don’t exactly hold up to scrutiny, and are actually the opposite of healthy. The Plant Paradox is just another book of bad information giving people bad advice.
As she admitted in the interview, Clarkson also has a thyroid issue that was not being properly treated when she gained weight. Once she started therapy for her thyroid levels, and all of her test numbers went back to normal, she started to lose weight. As Lisa Andrews, RD & owner of Sound Bites Nutrition LLC explained to me, treatment for Clarkson’s thyroid level is probably the real reason she managed to slim down.
“While I think it’s great that Kelly Clarkson has lost weight and has her thyroid condition under control, suggesting that clean eating and organic food helped her lose weight is misleading,” Andrews said. “Avoiding foods containing lectins (per The Plant Paradox diet she followed) has not been proven. Non-organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are safe to eat and should be included as part of a healthy diet. Ms Clarkson likely lost weight due to her initial thyroid medication kicking in and the reduction in calories from restricting various foods from her diet.”
“Kelly Clarkson is one of my favorite performers and I admire how she has turned adversity in her personal life into professional success,” commented Leah McGrath, RD LDN of Ingles Market. “That being said, I would hope people with issues with their thyroid would seek medical care from board certified physicians and get assistance on their eating habits from registered dietitians rather than follow advice from a celebrity.”
But what about that exercise bit? Clarkson seems pretty excited about not having to exercise! Kim Melton, RD of Nutrition ProConsulting wasn’t so impressed.
“I’m sorry to hear she isn’t exercising and chose to slim down through her diet alone,” she answered. “Although I don’t think a person should exercise for weight loss, the benefits of doing so are numerous. Better sleep, stress relief, relaxation, enjoyment, disease prevention, increased strength, stamina and flexibility as well as keeping your heart healthy are just a few of the reasons why exercise is necessary…it’s not always about weight loss.”
Unfortunately, Clarkson’s casual and careless remarks can have a really negative impact on people looking to lose weight. Surely Clarkson knows what she’s talking about because she managed to lose weight and looks great; right? But no. Instead of encouraging people to make meaningful, healthy choices, Clarkson has done the opposite.
Clarkson has a platform. When she speaks, people are listening. It’s disappointing to see she didn’t take that responsibility seriously.
“The bottom line is we each need to do what works for us and is sustainable,” Melton told me. “Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be expensive or exclusive. Making wise choices with moderation is key. Food is meant to be enjoyed!”
The yogurt brand FAGE has a new television commercial airing in the United States, and it aims to please Millennials with its brand new non-GMO verification.
The commercial (which you can view here) features a young woman enjoying her yogurt on the couch. An unidentified voice tells her that FAGE is now verified by The Non-GMO Project. The woman guesses the company did it to appeal to Millennials, but the voice corrects her by saying: “we did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Hey FAGE, I’m a Millennial and I’m not impressed. Nor is sourcing non-GMO ingredients the right thing to do.
Disappointed in the @FAGEUSA commercial about non-GMO verification. You didn’t impress this #Millennial and I won’t be buying your products.
We want food that has a good story behind it. GMOs make a great story – the latest technology being used in a way to support the rich history of family farms across our country, and help solve some of our toughest problems. Family farmers choose to grow GMOs because they increase yields, increase efficiency, and increase profits. They’re also better for the environment and use less resources. They help us be good stewards of the land so we can pass it on to the next generation. Genetically modified foods put green technology to use for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and our world.
We want food we can feel good about purchasing. GMOs are the feel good food of this generation. Arctic Apples don’t brown when they’re cut, which means they can be cut and prepared ahead of time and cut down on food waste. Crops with the Bt trait are protected from some of the most destructive insects, so farmers don’t have to apply insecticide. Round-Up Ready crops allow farmers to utilize more soil-friendly production methods, like no-till and cover crops, which also works to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We’re able to grow more affordable food, so that we can meet food demands and keep pace with a growing population. These are the stories that will speak to Millennials.
The same GMOs that reduce food waste and help us grow more food affordably speak to Millennials who value convenience.
Above all else, we also know that GMOs are safe for human consumption. There is no difference between a GMO and its non-GMO counterpart. Putting the little butterfly on your yogurt makes no actual difference to the product itself. Instead, it signifies that your yogurt is being made while foregoing the benefits that biotechnology gives us.
That isn’t right; that’s really, really bad!
That decision is bad for the environment, bad for science, bad for farmers, bad for the future, and bad for consumers. In all honesty, you should be embarrassed that you’ve made this decision. You should be embarrassed that you’re trying to bamboozle Millennials (or any consumers) into believing you’re making a better yogurt, when you aren’t. You should be ashamed that you’ve bought into a marketing concept that preys on fears and misinformation, instead of relying on potential for the future.
That little butterfly on your yogurt cups now means I will no longer purchase them. I have no interest in turning my back on science and agriculture and sustainability. I will encourage others to do the same, and I hope you will reconsider this path.
[Note: Interestingly, FAGE has disabled comments on their YouTube channel for this commercial. However, I think they need to know how consumers feel about their decision. Consider leaving a comment on their Facebook page or their Twitter account.]
Non-dairy milks have certainly become trendy. The sector has grown by 61% since 2012 alone, and new options like almond and oat milk are more widely available. The plant-based alternative have become a staple in the dairy section of the grocery store, with the price of non-dairy milks quite competitive with dairy milk.
So, why are the plant-based milk options so popular and why are people making the switch?
According to a survey taken by Food Navigator, consumers decided to purchase non-dairy milks for flavor (48%), price (37%), source of ingredients (33%), and being all-natural (30%). Over a third (36%) of consumers purchased the milk alternatives for perceived health benefits. While it makes sense for consumers to choose non-dairy products for flavor and price, what about the other options?
Turns out, milk is one of the most nutrient dense foods available! A glass of cow’s milk is loaded with protein, calcium, and potassium – all things we as human beings need in our diet. In fact, a glass of milk averages 8 grams of protein, which is more than a hard boiled egg! The only sugars in milk come from lactose, which is naturally occurring. Milk also comes in varying levels of fat content so consumers can customize their drink to fit their specific dietary needs.
To the contrary, many of the plant-based milk alternatives have varying amounts of nutrients, and might even have lots of added sugar. Soy milk generally has 6 grams of added sugars to help mask the soybean taste. Cashew milk can come with half a teaspoon of cane sugar per serving. Coconut and almond milks barely have any natural protein per serving, unless it is added later during processing. These alternatives can have quite a mixed bag, so checking the label is crucial, especially if you are trying to replace dairy milk entirely.
For those worried about the source of ingredients, dairy milk is generally quite local to the area. With this tool, consumers can find out exactly which dairy produced the milk in their neighborhood store. Because 98% of farms in the United States are family farms, consumers can also be confident that the milk probably came from cows cared for by a local family farm. Once off the farm, milk normally goes through some testing and pasteurization, homogenization, separation and further processing for safety and quality control. Otherwise, it is a very natural product!
If consumers switched to non-dairy alternatives because they are lactose-intolerant, prefer the taste, or price, then the move makes sense. However, for consumers that are just looking for a drink that is “healthier,” milk might be the better option. While none of the alternatives are necessarily unhealthy, they could be lacking in key areas. Again, reading the label and understanding what exactly comes with your plant-based milk is important.
I was feeling a little bit cocky because life was going so well. I’m gearing up for a new job. I’m buying a new house. I had a glowing report from the doctor. Of course, I had to do the dumbest thing possible and tweet about the good fortune.
My life is going too well right now. I’m starting to get paranoid that something really big and bad is about to happen.
Sure enough, I got a phone call a few minutes later (literally, a few minutes) from my brother Michael saying, “Dad got hurt. He’s on the way home. We don’t know what happened, but be ready.” When Jeremy, my other brother, and dad pulled into the driveway, dad had a towel pressed to the top of his head and blood running down his face. He jumped in the car with mom and they rushed to the Emergency Room.
Turns out he was helping Jeremy load the corn planter with seed. We use a one ton truck (see below) for the job; it is stocked with seed bags and the fertilizer tank. The back of the truck has two swinging doors, which attach to bars at the top and bottom of the walls. Dad stepped on the planter and grabbed the top bar to pull himself up onto the back of the truck. Likely because he was distracted and not paying attention (he doesn’t usually step on the planter to get up there), he smashed the top of his head into the bar, which has a sharp ridge on the bottom side. The impact caused him to lose his grip and he tumbled backwards, falling onto the planter. He landed on his back and arm.
Jeremy saw what happened and ran to the pickup truck parked on the other side of the field. He drove it over to the one ton and grabbed something for dad’s head. The only thing available was a dirty old towel that they use to clean their hands after handling seed or chemicals. Dad put it on his head and applied pressure to the area. Crazy enough, Dad apparently wasn’t sure he really needed to go home, but Jeremy told him to get in the truck because he was going to the Emergency Room.
A visit at the Emergency Room revealed that he only (only!) had a deep gash on the top of his head – all the way across the top, down to his skull, and about a half inch wide. Doctors ran all the tests, but nothing else was amiss; no broken bones, no blood clots, and no swelling on the brain. He likely had a concussion. The gash required internal stitches to cover the lining over his skull (technical term?), and 13 staples on the outside to keep all of it together. The doctor also did extensive irrigating and prescribed antibiotics because the towel dad used in the field had questionable origins.
Thankfully, aside from the pain associated with the stitches and staples, dad was mostly pain-free and able to get back to work. While dad was in the ER, Jeremy removed the bar from the truck so it wouldn’t be in the way. A few days later, however, dad fell off the back of the truck again, this time because he went to grab the bar and it wasn’t there. He landed on his feet though, so no harm. He obviously just needs to be more careful!
Dad had the staples taken out about 10 days later. It didn’t hurt nearly as bad as when the doctor put them in. It took all of 5 minutes.
Obviously, we’re all thankful that dad is fine and recovering and nothing more serious happened in the accident. We’re so happy he wasn’t out in a field somewhere by himself, because who knows what would have happened then. The entire ordeal was a stark reminder that we all need to slow down and pay attention. It’s planting season and we have a lot to get done, but it won’t all be accomplished if we don’t survive until the end.
There is a common misconception that farmers are eager to “drown” or “douse” their crops in whatever pesticides available. It’s as if we go into the fields as often as we can to spray as much as we can. People somehow imagine this is how we squeeze out every penny we can out of a crop.
This could not be farther from the truth.
Pesticides are expensive! In addition to paying for the chemicals, it also takes time and money to actually apply it to the fields. We are also very aware of the environment when deciding whether to spray something. We have zero interest in poisoning our fields or polluting our water, because we want to use those fields and drink that water for years and years to come.
Before we apply any pesticides to a field, we do a cost benefit analysis to make sure that the cost of the application is going to be worth it in terms of how much pest damage is likely. If the amount of pest damage in a field is likely to cost less than the application, then we are not going to apply it. Farming is a business, too.
As for insecticides, we haven’t used them on corn since we adopted the Bt trait. Not a drop. That is precisely how farmers have been able to decrease insecticide use since 1972, when the amount peaked, so drastically – technology, science, and best practices.
What is even more impressive is that during this time of drastically reducing our insecticide use, we have also increased our production. In other words, as we have found ways to use less insecticide, we have also been growing and harvesting more and more food.
So, next time you hear someone complain about how much farmers spray to control for the bugs and insects, show them this statistic. It might just make them stop and think.
Mandatory disclosure of the presence of bioengineered ingredients in foods must be made through one of four means: 1) text label disclosure; 2) symbolic label disclosure using one of three proposed symbols; 3) electronic or digital link disclosure; or 4) text message disclosure.
The regulations exempt the following: food served in a restaurant; “very small” food producers; foods containing de minimis amounts of BE substance; foods made from animals that consumed BE feed; and food certified organic.
The regulations do not prohibit other claims regarding BE foods, provided that such claims are consistent with federal law.
The effective date is January 1, 2020 for most manufacturers.
There are a few things that I find very interesting, and even encouraging about the proposed rules.
First, the USDA has decided these foods will be called “bioengineered” instead of “GMOs.” Words matter and not only is bioengineered probably a more precise term, it also does not come with the negative connotations associated with “GMOs.” For years, activists have sold the message over and over again that “GMOs” are untested and dangerous. Not only was this false, but the constant drumbeat was meant to create a negative connotation. Remember: their goal for the labeling of GMOs was to eventually have them banned from cultivation entirely. Naturally then, those same people are now upset the USDA has made this switch; however, that is only because all of those negative campaigns were for nothing. There will be no negative association with the term “bioengineered” and that makes the goal of banning GMOs a little bit harder.
Second, the use of a symbol to designate that a product contains GMO ingredients is also an important change. Wouldn’t it be great if the USDA created a label that cast bioengineered foods in a positive light? Maybe they could come up with something that represents the environmental benefits for these crops? Friends, that is exactly what they did! Take a look at some of the proposed labels:
I am in love with all of them! If I had to choose just one, I would probably pick the smiling sun. At the end of the day, genetically modified crops are green crops and the symbol representing them should express it. While I’m sure anti-GMO activists are disappointed that the USDA didn’t chose a skull and crossbones, I think we can all agree this is so much better!
The next thing that really makes me happy is that products from animals fed bioengineered crops will not require a label. For example, milk from Dairy Cow Betsy, who eats a steady diet of GMO corn, will not require one of the BE labels. Why? Because her milk isn’t genetically modified in any way, shape, or form. She simply ate GMOs and, despite the claims of anti-GMO activists, eating a GMO does not make you a GMO.
My only regret with the draft rules is that non-GMO labels will be allowed to exist, provided they are consistent with other federal laws. I have long advocated for the type of law Canada has, which prohibits the non-GMO label if there is not a GMO crop available. Unfortunately, Canada does not seem to really enforce that law, and its regulatory agency recently found the Non-GMO Project Label does not violate it. Live to fight another day!
All in all, the USDA has really done a good job of putting together its labeling scheme for bioengineered crops. There are options for producers to make complying easy and efficient. The use of the symbol to represent BE crops is well done, creative, and positive. Violations are only a problem if done “knowingly,” and not simply by accident.
I fought hard against any law mandating a label for genetically modified crops. Fundamentally, I still believe such a labeling requirement is obnoxious and unnecessary. That being said, if such a law is going to exist, this is definitely the right way to do it.
Now, let’s make it the law! The USDA is accepting comments until July 3, 2018. You can share your support for this program with the USDA by following the instructions here!
A good business selling a quality product will strategically use marketing to convince consumers that product is superior to their competitor’s product. I want companies to be so proud of the product they’re selling that they just can’t wait to tell me how awesome it is. I want to know that what I’m buying is the best value for my hard earned cash. Unfortunately, companies tend to use marketing to tell you why it would be bad for you, dangerous even, to purchase a different brand’s product. “Don’t buy brand X, because they use toxic pesticides, GMOs, and chemicals!”
Remember how competitors used to duke it out over who was better? Detergent brands bragged about which one got your clothes cleaner. Pop brands ran taste tests to see which consumers preferred. Pain relievers insisted they kept your pain away better for longer.
The notion that a company would try to market its product by convincing people that its competitor’s product is literally going to hurt you is ridiculous.
A business that doesn’t make such a good product or that doesn’t have that much to brag about will use fear as a key component of its advertising. We so often see advertising boasting that the product is non-GMO. Well, who really cares? It makes absolutely no difference to the quality or value of the final product. It adds nothing to the safety or effectiveness of that product. In reality, that product is no better than anything else we can choose on the shelf. The same is true of so many advertising tactics that induce illogical fears.
That’s why a good company that produces a good product doesn’t resort to fear tactics to promote that product. If a company does take that road, what does it ultimately say about the product they want to you purchase?
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel and explore London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. I so enjoyed touring castles, palaces, and cathedrals. Of course, I was also interested in the cuisine of both countries. While I was not dumb brave enough to try haggis, I make sure to try some other local specialties.
The British do “comfort” food really, really well.
Our food adventure started at The Mitre, which just happens to be in the neighborhood where the Beckham’s reside. We were greeted with a traditional Sunday roast and hard apple cider. It consisted of slow cooked roast beef, fried potatoes, beets, and Yorkshire pudding (which, apparently, is a type of bread). It was the perfect dinner to welcome us to London!
While in Windsor we stopped by the Duchess of Cambridge pub. Yes, the pub is named after Catherine, and she has given her blessing! I tried the steak and ale pie – a very traditional British dish! It was amazing. The closest thing I’ve ever had in the United States was a pot pie, but this was so much richer than anything I have had before and barely deserves to be in that category. It was served with mashed potatoes, peas, broccoli, and smothered with gravy.
Of course, I had to try fish and chips….a couple times. The first go around was at the Tower of London’s cafe. Lunch was good, but it felt a bit to “touristy” to actually count. I later tried it at pub just to make sure it counted. The chips are actually thin french fries, not potato chips. It was certainly good and hit the spot. However, I’m not sure that it was necessarily better than a Friday night fish fry here in the U.S.
We also tried a place called Nando’s. While it isn’t necessarily associated with England, the restaurant is hugely popular chain. It specializes in chicken – boned or boneless – in varying levels of spiciness. It was actually pretty good, despite some initial reservations. Mine came with spicy, fried vegetables and french fries. Oh, and unlimited refills of Coke!
A Taste of Europe
One of the cool things about London is that it is so closely connected to the rest of Europe and its Commonwealth countries. Just taking a stroll through the city provides the opportunity to witness so much diversity, from clothing to languages. The diversity provides a real opportunity to sample more authentic food from the continent. When I wasn’t trying English food, I gave a few other types of food a chance, too.
French food was the most obvious choice, and there are plenty of French restaurants dotted throughout the city. Oddly, both times I chose seafood dishes, but both were a hit. Our fist stop was to Brasserie Zédel, an art deco restaurant nestled in the basement of a 1930’s building. Surprisingly, it was quite affordable. I tried the whole roasted trout with almonds. I was a bit surprised when the fish came out with its head still attached, but pleasantly surprised by how it tasted. Raspberry chocolate cake for dessert was absolutely divine.
Our second French experience was Côte Brasserie, located nearby London Bridge. (Fun fact: when you walk underneath London Bridge, the famous song is playing.) The weather was quite lovely so we sat outside overlooking the Thames River as the sun went down over the city. I tried the Seafood Linguine, which came with prawns, mussels, clams and squid sauteed in garlic, chilli, shallots, white wine, and lobster jus. It was also amazing!
While in Edinburgh, we took the opportunity to try Italian (yeah, a little out of place, but that’s what sounded good!). We popped into Zizzi, which is right off the Royal Mile. I tried the Pasta Della Casa, which is oven-baked casareccia pasta, roasted chicken, pancetta, baby spinach & riserva cheese, all in a creamy mushroom sauce. Once again, I was not disappointed. The noodles tasted homemade and fresh, so they were quite a treat.
We tried a couple American restaurants. Because, you know, sometimes you just need a cheeseburger! At one restaurant, a member of our group ordered a pulled pork sandwich. It came out with the pulled pork on top of a burger patty. When it was questioned, the waiter was confused – if you didn’t put the patty on the sandwich, how could you make it?
We also tried a Mexican restaurant. Let’s just say it wasn’t quite right. The menu was loaded up with sweet potatoes (because those scream Mexican food; right?). My quesadilla tasted like a salad on tortilla shell. My aunt did not like her tacos at all. It was definitely the London version of Mexican, and I would recommend skipping it!
We also had a small surprise when my aunt ordered cherry pie. She was thinking it would taste similar to what we’re used to in the United States; the filling would consist of cherries and a sweet gelatin. Instead, it tasted more like cherry jam. Not bad, just different.
The biggest difference was a lack of pop. My default when going to a restaurant is usually to get a Coke to go with my meal. It’s relatively cheap, hits the spot, and there are refills. However, that’s not the case in Europe. Pop isn’t always available, there usually are not refills, and it isn’t quite as sweet. Instead, the default drink is some type of alcoholic beverage. I certainly enjoyed that, but because I was somewhat dehydrated during most of the trip, alcohol was not really my first choice. Water, when severed, didn’t always come with ice.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and food adventure. I loved trying new things, even when they seemed so foreign.