West Virginia Feed to Achieve Program Aims to End Childhood Hunger

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Feed to Achieve (WVFTA), an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Children Nutrition, officially launched today during a special event on the Capitol lawn.

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano served as keynote speaker and addressed the importance of working together to end childhood hunger in West Virginia.

“Hunger among children has a major impact not only on health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy,” Martirano said. “Feed to Achieve will be a tremendous asset to our state. It will also help build the foundation for other states to develop and carry out similar programs for children.”

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is a nonprofit, donation-based program that aims to end childhood hunger in West Virginia by providing grants to programs that are feeding children outside of the school day such as backpack feeding programs, school-based food pantries, community-based food pantries, and church-based feeding programs.

“In West Virginia there are nearly 1 in 4 children that live in a household that does not have sufficient access to food,” said Samantha Snuffer-Reeves, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator. “Feed to Achieve’s main goal is to feed children when they’re most at risk: after school hours, holidays, weekends, snow days and during the summer months.”

The inspiration for WVFTA occurred when West Virginia Senator John Unger was visiting an elementary school in Martinsburg. He asked what students would change about their school and one boy said he would like to receive two lunches so there would be enough food left over for his parents and siblings. “That was a huge wakeup call for our department- something had to be done about childhood hunger in our state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Martirano said.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is solely dependent on donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. All donations received directly fund grants that are distributed to eligible social service organizations statewide twice a year.

Grant applications will be received in September in preparation for winter and in April 2017 in preparation for next summer. Funds will then be awarded in November 2016 and June 2017. The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Selection Committee will review grant applications and award funding. Funding amounts will be dependent on the amount of money in the state West Virginia Feed to Achieve fund.

Since West Virginia Feed to Achieve programs are strictly donation based, interested corporate or individual donors are encouraged to visit and make donations on the West Virginia Feed to Achieve website at

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Report: U.S. Should Use Fewer Antibiotics in Agriculture

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CHARLESTON, WV – A new report calls for banning or restricting the use of antibiotics in farm animals to curb the global spread of infections.

Cameron Harsh, senior manager for organic and animal policy for he Center for Food Safety, explains continuously dosing animals creates stronger strains of bacteria, which makes antibiotics less effective at fighting infections in people.

He says the report is a wake-up call for policymakers to reform common factory farming practices.

“Producers can crowd animals, have higher stocking densities, and they’re getting animals to grow faster on less feed,” he points out. “So, in the long run, these have been misused as a tool to raise more meat and poultry products faster and more cheaply.“

According to the report, from the Britain-based Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, some 700,000 people die each year worldwide from antibiotic-resistant infections, and that number could rise to 10 million per year by 2050.

Industry groups say they’re using antibiotics to keep animals healthy, and maintain the practice is necessary to keep costs down.

Doctors report for the first time in the U.S, a patient has come in to receive care infected with a bacteria that’s resistant to every known antibiotic. Harsh and others see it as a possible result of livestock antibiotic use. He notes that making sure animals have good feed, can access the outdoors and have enough space to lie down helps boost their natural immune systems. And he says an increasing number of people are willing to pay more for drug-free meat, dairy and eggs.

“You’re seeing a lot of companies make strong statements about antibiotic use in their supplies, and make strong commitments to reduce use,” he points out. “But transparency is going to be an important step moving forward, so that consumers can make informed food decisions in the marketplace.“

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has introduced guidelines that would require farmers to get antibiotics from licensed veterinarians, instead of over the counter at the local feed store, and has asked drug makers to voluntarily remove growth-promotion claims from labels.

Harsh maintains those moves don’t go far enough.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

G-OpEd™: Labels on Genetically Modified Foods? Not So Fast

The Free Press WV

States could no longer require labeling of genetically modified foods under legislation approved by a Senate panel.

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 14-6 Tuesday to prevent the labeling on packages of foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Vermont is set to require such labels this summer, and other states are considering similar laws.

Senators have said they want to find a compromise on the labeling issue before Vermont’s law kicks in. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the panel, said a patchwork of state laws would be a “wrecking ball” that could be costly for agriculture, food companies and ultimately consumers.

“Now is not the time for Congress to make food more expensive for anybody,“ Roberts said.

The bill would block Vermont’s law and create new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation is similar to a bill the House passed last year. The food industry has strongly backed both bills, saying GMOs are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard.

Passage won’t be as easy in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome a certain filibuster. Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have both strongly opposed efforts to block their state’s law.

Roberts and Stabenow have worked to find a compromise that can pass the Senate. But those negotiations broke down before the committee vote, and Roberts said the panel needed to move quickly ahead of the Vermont law. Both said they are still negotiating and hope to find agreement.

Stabenow said that for the legislation to receive broad enough support to pass the Senate, “it must contain a pathway to a national system of mandatory disclosure that provides consumers the information they need and want to make informed choices.“

Three Democrats voted for Roberts’ bill: North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.

The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

While the Food and Drug Administration says they are safe and there is little scientific concern about the safety of those GMOs on the market, advocates for labeling say not enough is known about their risks. Among supporters of labeling are many organic companies that are barred by law from using modified ingredients in their foods.

Those groups said they are holding out hope for a compromise on the Senate floor.

“We remain hopeful that the Senate will craft a national, mandatory GMO labeling system that provides consumers with basic factual information about their food,“ said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

National Nutrition Month

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For National Nutrition Month, Enjoy Food Traditions and Experiences to ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’

Bridgeport, WV –For National Nutrition Month® 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and United Hospital Center is encouraging everyone to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to your life.

“Your source of energy and nourishment is through the foods you consume; thereby, helping you to live and protect your body against diseases, said Sherry Spagnuolo, RD, LD, registered dietitian at UHC.  “Certainly food should be enjoyed. So the way you prepare and combine food is also important.”

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Enjoy Food Traditions and Social Experiences

There is an obvious social component to food. Whether a nightly family dinner, special holiday occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role.
“Getting back to the tradition of eating together as a family is significant in that it promotes the family bond and helps us to eat healthier too,” Spagnuolo said.  “It is certainly a ritual that we all need to practice.”

Appreciate Foods Pleasures and Flavors

Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, try following this tip to help you savor the flavor of your food: Eat slowly.

“Eat slowly to savor the flavors and textures of your food,” Spagnuolo says.  “This not only allows you to appreciate what you’re consuming, but it can also help you to eat less as your stomach will send a message to your brain that you are full.”

Develop a Mindful Eating Pattern

How, when, why and where you eat are just as important as what you eat. Being a mindful eater can help you reset both your body and your mind and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
“Avoid multitasking through you meals, “said Spagnuolo.  “Take time to mindfully eat so that you will feel fuller faster and be less likely to over eat.”

Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

“Making good food choices, based on your individual health and nutrient needs, and including healthy habits, like exercise,  can be essential in contributing to an overall healthy lifestyle,”  said Spagnuolo.

Possible School Lunch Improvements

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV - Members of the U.S. Senate are working on a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize child nutrition programs, including the national school lunch and breakfast programs for the next five years. Among the changes, the legislation includes funding for expanded kitchen equipment to enable staff to prepare fresh-cooked meals for students.

Claire DiMattina, executive director with the advocacy group Food Policy Action, says this comes after a trend of school districts centralizing food preparation and utilizing frozen meals and vegetables.

“Because we’re talking about serving fresh fruits and vegetables and heart-healthy meals and meals with less sodium and some of those things you just can’t serve if you don’t have a place to prepare them,“ says DiMattina.

The legislation also would require that 80 percent of grains served in schools are whole grain and it puts in place sodium-reduction requirements. Once lawmakers are back in session, the bill will have to be added to the calendar to be considered by the full Senate.

The bill also doubles funding for the Farm to School Grant Program, streamlines summer meal coordination and expands summer meal programs. DiMattina says if passed, the legislation would have a direct impact on children in the state.

“For a lot of those kids, these are one or two of the only healthy, nutritious and hopefully delicious meals they’re having every day,“ she says. “So, it’s important that we’re providing meals that are healthy, that they want to eat, that are providing the necessary nutrients.“

The former Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that went into effect in 2010 has been criticized for encouraging a menu with food many children won’t eat. This bill is the reauthorization of that legislation and includes some changes.

~~  Dan Heyman   ~~

Petty Wins Culinary Contest

The 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Contest sponsored by First Neighborhood Bank was held at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg on December 12, 2015.

Sixty houses were entered and displayed in the contest.

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There were seven divisions and $7,000 in awards.

Analysse “Annie” Petty placed first in the school division.

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Gabriel Devono (Gilmer County Schools Superintendent),
Analysse Petty, Chef Annette Benson (instructor)

A $200 check was awarded to Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center and her class will receive a pizza party to celebrate her accomplishment.

Annie attends the ProStart/Culinary Arts and Health Occupations programs at the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center.

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She is a TASC completer through the Option Pathway and will be a 2016 graduate of Gilmer County High School in May.

Annie is the niece of Danielle Cottrill of Rosedale Road, Normantown, WV.

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New Food Safety Rules: Something to be Thankful For?

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV -  The Food and Drug Administration is putting new food safety rules in place, and advocates of the change say that’s something to be thankful for.

The FDA is finalizing rules for three basic categories of groceries: produce, imports, and processed foods.

Sandra Eskin, director of the Safe Food Project for The Pew Charitable Trusts, says she’s going to take a moment at her Thanksgiving table to be grateful.

“We have a safe food supply in this country, but it can be safer,“ she says. “And it’s made safer by rules like these that are going to make the people who grow and import the food responsible for the safety of it.“

Some farm and food industry lobbying groups have chafed under federal rules in the past. Eskin points out the new regulations will be phased in starting with the big operations first.

She adds many of the rules will be enforceable, rather than voluntary, for the first time.

The rules also will require producers, growers and importers to ensure the food they produce or import has minimal contamination. That’s a change, for both produce and for imports.

“For the very first time, the entity that imports a food product regulated by FDA is responsible for the safety of that product,“ says Eskin.

Many people probably assume all the important food-safety rules were put in place a long time ago. But Eskin says that isn’t the case. She says every time there is a serious food-safety problem, regulators consider updating the rules. That was the case a few years ago, when a lot of people became ill after eating fast-food hamburgers.

“Looking at ground beef, looking at this particular horrible strain of E. coli, we have cut infections by 50 percent. And that is quite an achievement,“ she says.

For consumers, Eskin notes there is still a need to follow all the basic rules for safe food handling, storage and preparation at home. But she says they can also be thankful that their food will be safer and more sanitary before they get to it.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

DHHR Encourages Residents to Take Steps to Avoid Foodborne Illness

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health (BPH) is reminding residents of the importance of proper food preparation and food storage temperatures during the holiday season. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illness is a common, preventable public health problem. Each year, one in six Americans gets sick from contaminated foods or beverages. Foodborne illnesses commonly occur due to unclean hands, not separating raw meat from other foods, not cooking foods to the correct temperature and not refrigerating food properly.

“Foodborne illness sends more than 100,000 people in our nation to the hospital each year,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.  “Taking the time to ensure that proper food handling measures are taken around the holidays and throughout the year can go a long way in preventing an outbreak of illness such as norovirus, salmonella or E. coli.”

BPH offers the following tips for preventing foodborne illnesses:

• Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

• Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 155°F (68°C) as measured with a food thermometer.

• Cook all poultry and stuffed meats, poultry, fish and pasta to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C) as measured with a food thermometer.

• Foods should not be thawed at room temperature. Safe thawing methods include in the refrigerator, under cool running water, or in the microwave.  If food is thawed in running water or the microwave, it should be cooked immediately.  It is also important to allow sufficient time to thaw food.

• Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40°F (4.4°C) or below and the freezer at 0°F (-17.7°C) or below.

“Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food,” said Gupta. “Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food to avoid cross-contamination. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water.”

According to Dr. Gupta, it is important to discard any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours.  Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.  Make sure you use cooked leftovers within four days.

Venison Is An Excellent Low-Fat Alternative To Beef

The Free Press WV

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV - As West Virginia’s hunters take to the field, they gain more than just an enjoyable day with family and friends. Many will successfully harvest a deer and fill their freezer with an ample amount of “heart-healthy” venison (deer meat).

 “Venison is an excellent alternative to beef for those concerned with healthier choices in their diet,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section (DNR). “Venison is a good source of protein for many West Virginia families and has fewer calories and less fat than an equivalent serving of beef.”

 After the harvest, hunters can ensure their selected venison cuts will be the best quality and flavor if they take a few simple steps in caring for their game. Meat should not be exposed to excessive dirt or moisture and should be cooled as quickly as possible to avoid spoilage.

 Hunters are not the only West Virginians who benefit from deer harvested in the state. Over the past two decades, the DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program. Since its inception in 1992, generous hunters and financial contributors have enabled the processing of this highly nutritious meat which has provided more than 1.1 million meals for needy West Virginia families. Visit for information about Hunters Helping the Hungry.

 For more information about the HHH program or West Virginia’s various deer hunting seasons and regulations, consult the 2015-2016 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at all DNR offices and license agents or visit the DNR website at

Bon Appétit: Pumpkin Bread with Toasted Coconut

The Gilmer Free Press


Servings: Makes one 8½x4½“ loaf

  Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  ½ cup whole wheat flour
  2 teaspoons baking powder
  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1 teaspoon kosher salt
  ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  2 large eggs, room temperature
  1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  ½ cup virgin coconut oil, warmed, slightly cooled
  2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  1 tablespoon granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat an 8½x4½“ loaf pan with nonstick spray; line with parchment paper, leaving a 2” overhang on all sides. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, and oil in another large bowl until smooth. Mix in dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, coconut, and granulated sugar.

Bake bread until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let bread cool 30 minutes in pan. Turn out on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Do Ahead: Bread can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Bon Appétit: Skillet Roast Chicken with Fennel, Parsnips, and Scallions

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Servings: 6

  3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  1 3½–4-lb. chicken
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise ½” thick
  2 large parsnips, peeled, sliced ½” thick on the diagonal
  1 bunch scallions
  3 wide strips lemon zest
  Lemon wedges (for serving)


Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and cook, breast side down, until a beautiful golden brown. Use tongs to gently rotate chicken, being careful not to tear skin, and brown on all sides, 12–15 minutes total; transfer to a plate. Reserve skillet.

Toss fennel, parsnips, scallions, and lemon zest in skillet with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Place chicken, breast side up, on top of vegetables. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of chicken thigh registers 165°, 35–40 minutes. (You can also check doneness by cutting into thigh meat right at the joint. If the juices run clear, the bird is ready.) Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

Serve chicken and vegetables with pan juices for spooning over and lemon wedges.

Confused About Wheat and Gluten? Here Are 4 Facts That Will Surprise You

Is wheat a “perfect, chronic poison,“ in the words of Wheat Belly author William Davis, or an innocuous staple that has been demonized to promote a trendy line of gluten-free products? I dug into the issue of wheat and its discontents recently, and walked away with some informed conjectures, but also a sense that the science is deeply unsettled. Now, a group of Cornell researchers (joined by one from Thailand) have performed a great service: For a paper published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, they’ve rounded up and analyzed the recent science on wheat and the potential pitfalls of eating it. Here are the key takeaways:

Eating wheat may contribute to an array of health problems. When we eat wheat and other grains, we’re ingesting seeds—things that evolved to protect their nutrients against a variety of predators until they’re released by germination to fuel the growth of a seedling. So there’s no surprise that they contain “structures that are difficult for digestion to break down,“ as the paper puts it. Everyone knows about celiac disease—a genetic condition in which gluten, a wheat protein, triggers a severe autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. The authors note (as I did in my recent piece) that research suggests that celiac rates have risen by as much as a factor of four over the past half century—but it still only affects at most 2 percent of the population. Wheat allergy is another well-established condition involving gluten and other wheat proteins, but it’s even less common, affecting somewhere between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent of the population. The paper’s lead author, Lisa Kissing Kucek, told me she found no evidence of changes in wheat-allergy prevalence.

• But unless you have celiac or an allergy, gluten might be largely beside the point.According to the researchers, most of us can tolerate gluten. But we have more trouble with another component of wheat called fructans, assemblages of fructose molecules that typically behave like dietary fiber—they’re “generally beneficial for most individuals by promoting the growth of healthy gut probiotics, improving stool frequency, and adding fecal bulk,“ the authors note. But the authors point to emerging research suggesting that fructans are one of a group of carbs called FODMAPs (short for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols”) that for some people cause “unexplained bloating, belching, distension, gas, abdominal pain, or diarrhea,“ as a recent paper by Georgia Regents University researchers put it.

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The catch is that wheat is by no means the only foodstuff that contains fructans or FODMAPs. “Fructans are also found in 15 percent of all flowering plants, including artichoke, banana, broccoli, garlic, leek bulb, melon, onions, white peach, and rye,“ the authors report; while FODMAPs are found in beans, milk, stone fruit, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. And the food industry has seized upon a non-wheat-derived fructan called inulin as a food additive—it’s even used to “improve structure, color, taste, and fiber content in gluten-free breads,“ the authors note.

Irritable bowel syndrome, which affects between 11.5 percent and 14.1 percent of the population, is the most well-known condition linked to fructans and FODMAPs. Another one is a disorder I’d never heard of, fructose malabsorption, which could afflict as much as 38 percent of the population, though the authors note that no large-scale epidemiological studies have been done to firmly establish how common it is. People with fructose malabsorption can’t absorb the free fructose present in the digestive tract, and the “unabsorbed fructose undergoes bacterial fermentation and induces abdominal symptoms, such as pain, bloating, and altered bowel habit,“ the authors report. They note that irritable bowel syndrome, fructose malabsorption, and nonceliac wheat sensitivity “share a broad array of symptoms” and that “misdiagnosis is common” among them.

But since nonceliac wheat sensitivity affects less than 1 percent of people and the other two maladies appear to be much more common, it seems to me that wheat is taking the bulk of the blame for conditions linked to a much broader category of foods. The rise of fructose malabsorption, which is an emerging diagnosis and not fully understood, implicates another controversial foodstuff: high-fructose corn syrup. The authors note that overall fructose consumption has surged in the last 30 years, “largely due” to a 60.8 percent jump in high-fructose corn syrup sweetener availability since 1978.

• “Premodern” wheat varieties are not a panacea.A lot of anti-wheat sentiment targets modern breeding. The idea goes that wheat varieties developed before 1950 contain simpler proteins and are thus easier to digest than the strains that now dominate bread production. The authors found a grain (so to speak) of truth to back up this critique: Modern wheat does tend on average to contain slightly more celiac-triggering proteins than modern varieties, but not universally so; some old varieties are highly reactive and some new varieties have low reactivity. Overall, the scientific literature “does not support” the claim that “consuming ancient or heritage wheat prevents sensitivity,“ they found.

What’s more, some heritage wheat varieties also appear to contain higher levels of fructans, they found. “If you have a wheat sensitivity, it’s important to know what’s causing it” before you make dietary decisions, Kissing Kucek said. The ancient wheat variety einkorn, for example, is “particularly promising for producing fewer immunotoxic effects in celiac research studies,“ the authors conclude. But it also (based on limited data) seems to have higher fructan levels, meaning that it could trigger more discomfort among the fructan-sensitive than standard wheat.

• All of that said, gluten does matter, and here’s why.Let’s go back to the fact that celiac rates seem to have risen over the past half century. Kissing Kucek said that for the genetically susceptible, celiac can be a latent condition that is triggered after years of exposure to gluten. The paper highlights two factors that have increased people’s exposure to gluten over the past half century—both of which I focused on in my piece published online a few weeks ago. The first is the practice of adding isolated wheat gluten to a variety of products, including bread. A wheat-processing byproduct called vital wheat gluten is now “commonly” added to commercial whole wheat bread, and it’s also widely added to processed meats, reconstituted seafood (think imitation crab), and certain vegetarian meat substitutes. And that’s not all—the authors point to a 2010 Australian study finding gluten and other wheat byproducts in nearly a third of supermarket processed-food products (as a form of protein, gluten is cheaper than soy or whey, the authors found, making it an attractive protein booster).

Then there’s industrial bread-baking, with its rapid-rising doughs driven by isolated yeasts. The authors note (again, as I did in my piece), that longer rises with sourdough starters (which are a diverse community of yeasts and bacteria) reduces the reactive gluten in bread doughs. Importantly, the research team adds that while sourdough breads have less reactive gluten than industrial loaves, they certainly aren’t safe for people with celiac or wheat allergy. Their main advantage, Kissing Kucek told me, is that they can help stave off the onset of celiac in people who are genetically susceptible to it by reducing their exposure. As for fructans, the diverse microbial cultures in sourdough can “decrease, but not eliminate” them, too, she added.

My main takeaway from this exhaustive report on the still-unsettled science around wheat is this: The role of wheat in our health is a complex topic—one not well illuminated by marketing efforts like the ever-burgeoning “gluten-free” one. For the 98 percent or so of people not suffering from celiac or wheat allergy, it seems wise to stick to sourdough-style bread and avoid foods laden with additives like inulin, high-fructose corn syrup, and vital wheat gluten.

~~  Tom Philpott - Mother Jones ~~

The Sugar Industry’s Shameful Tricks to Hook You

The original anti-science spin doctors weren’t working for Big Tobacco.
They were representing sugar.

Where did Big Oil, Big Pharma and other industries learn to manipulate public policy to best serve their bottom line? The engaging new documentary “Merchants of Doubt” argues that they’re all following a battle plan borrowed from the tobacco industry.

As for the tobacco industry, they learned it from Big Sugar.

Researchers at UCSF analyzed 319 internal sugar industry documents from between 1959 and 1971 — a key time for public policy surrounding the problem of tooth decay. Theiranalysis, published in PLoS Medicine, reveals what they say appears to be the origin of the “Merchants of Doubt”-style P.R. strategy.

Sugar trade organizations had accepted that sugar damages teeth as early as 1950, the authors write, and they had also recognized that dentists’ favored method for preventing tooth decay was restricting sugar intake. The evidence was too strong to ignore, so the industry instead developed a plan to “deflect attention” from sugar-reduction policies: they funded costly, complicated (and ultimately failed) experiments aimed at reducing the harmful effects of sugar, and convinced a national research program to follow its lead.

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The nature of those experiments shows just how committed the industry was to promoting anything but the obvious (telling people to cut down on sugar). They included research into a tooth-decay vaccine and the development of an enzyme that could be added to food to lessen sugar’s impact on teeth. “Why should people be denied pleasure?” asked professor Bertram Cohen, who led these projects, in an article from the time describing the research. ”It would obviously be far better to eliminate the harmful effects.” That article, the study’s authors note, never mentioned that Cohen’s work was supported by the sugar, chocolate and confectionary industries.

The National Institute of Dental Research (now the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research), meanwhile, was working on a way to eliminate tooth decay, establishing a committee to come up with research strategies that happened to consist of nearly all the same people as the sugar industry’s expert panel. NIDR ended up adopting a full 78 percent of the committee’s recommendations for research proposals.

“One could say, on logical grounds and good evidence, that if we could eliminate the consumption of sucrose, we could eliminate the problem — because we would be denying these pathogens their primary source of nutrient,” noted NIDR science director Richard Greulich at a International Sugar Research Foundation (now the World Sugar Research Organization) symposium. But, being a “realist,” he added, “While it is theoretically possible to take this approach to demonstrate it, and it has been demonstrated certainly in animal models, it is not practical as a public health measure.”

The National Caries Program (NCP), launched in 1971 with the goal of eradicating cavities within a decade, ending up ignoring all strategies to limit sugar consumption and failing to develop tests that could help establish which foods are most harmful to teeth. The program was, unsurprisingly, a failure, and the authors note that tooth decay, while largely preventable, remains a leading chronic disease among U.S. children today.

This is all still extremely relevant today, the authors argue, given the sugar industry’sopposition to recent recommendations from the World Health Organization and theDietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to limit the amount of sugar in our diets to less than 10 percent of our daily calorie intake. The industry, they say, continues to hold the position that public health policies should focus on the reduction of sugar harm as opposed to the reduction of sugar itself.

“These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era,” co-author Stanton Glantz said in a statement — and the tobacco industry, he noted, is no longer allowed to participate in WHO policy discussions. “Our findings are a wake-up call for government officials charged with protecting the public health, as well as public health advocates, to understand that the sugar industry, like the tobacco industry, seeks to protect profits over public health.”

~~  Lindsay Abrams - Salon ~~

How Much Sugar Is in That? 7 Foods with Added Sugar

The Gilmer Free Press

Health officials say people should eat less sugar. But that’s easier said than done.

Anyone who has tried cutting down on sugar knows to avoid cookies, sodas and candy. But sugar can be hidden in lots of other common packaged foods.

The World Health Organization finalized guidelines Wednesday saying people should keep intake of added sugars to just 5 to 10% of overall calories, which translates to about 25 to 50 grams of sugar a day for most people. The guidelines don’t apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and milk, since they come with essential nutrients.

In the U.S., adults get about 11 to 15% of their calories from sugar; the figure for children tops that at about 16%. By comparison, sugar intakes ranges in Europe from about 7% in Hungary to nearly 25% in Portugal.

But many people aren’t aware of how much sugar they’re eating every day. In fact, that’s one reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing the first overhaul of nutrition labels in two decades. In addition to highlighting the number of calories per serving in a bigger, bolder font, the new proposed labels would also for the first time list sugars that are added by manufacturers.

In the meantime, though, companies don’t currently disclose how much of the sugar listed in the nutrition panels of their products are from added sugars rather than naturally occurring ones.

Here are seven examples of foods that might have added sugar or another sweetener like high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient:

SALAD DRESSING: Picking a salad over a ham sandwich seems like a virtuous choice. But the amount of sugar it comes with can vary depending on the dressing you put on top of it. Wish-Bone’s Deluxe French salad dressing, for instance, lists 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons).

SOUP: A cup of soup of soup is comforting thought, but even savory varieties can have sugar. A can of Progresso’s Rich & Hearty Beef Pot Roast has 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of sugar per serving, with a can containing two servings.

YOGURT: Another seemingly healthful choice that can come with lots of sugar. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring from the dairy, but companies add sweeteners too. A container of Chobani’s 0% fat Greek yogurt in black cherry flavor lists 17 grams (about 4 teaspoons) of sugar.

BREAD: That toast you’re about to smother with jam might’ve already been a little sweetened. A store brand of enriched white bread at the convenience store chain Duane Reade listed 2 grams (about half a teaspoon) of sugar for per serving (2 slices)

PEANUT BUTTER: It depends on the variety you pick, but peanut butter can come with added sugar too. Skippy’s Super Chunk variety lists 7 grams (almost 2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons).

CEREAL: Most people know that cereal has sugar, especially the varieties for kids. In some cases, you might be surprised that there isn’t much difference between options. Special K with Red Berries, for instance, has 9 grams (more than 2 teaspoons) per serving (1 cup), while Frosted Flakes has 10 grams (more than 2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving (3/4 cup).

FROZEN MEALS: In case it wasn’t clear by now, just because it’s not dessert doesn’t mean it doesn’t have added sugar. California Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken microwavable pizza has 7 grams (almost 2 teaspoons) of sugar in a single-serving pie.

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