The New Era of Food Politics

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

Food for Life distributes food on an international level.

Most of us have heard a great deal about food lately.

Michael Pollan‘s book Omnivore’s Dilemma caused the agribusiness conglomerates to refer to the millions of his fans as having been, “Pollan-ated”. Food Inc. grossed over $4 million worldwide and was nominated for an Oscar, making it one of the highest viewed documentaries of all time. And recently Michelle Obama just announced the USDA’s program to educate us about proper nutrition by replacing the decades old Food Pyramid.

Multiple factors are fueling this focus on food and nutrition;

  1. Health Care today is eroding American‘s ability to pay for their own health insurance
  2. Food security is breaking down with numerous outbreaks of federal recalls of meat and produce
  3. Increased information about antioxidants and the importance of eating fruits and vegetables
  4. Food prices have soared worldwide, powering a surge in urban farming
  5. The aging Babby-Boomers are demanding better nutrition through food and food supplements

Millions of Americans are now more concerned than ever about what goes in their bodies. Many different definitions have been used to describe people’s choices of what they eat. Vegetarian refers to those who do not eat meat or anything with eyes. Lacto-ovo vegetarians add milk products and eggs to their diets.

Mycena Interrupta is one of many organisms that belong to detritivores.

Unfamiliar to most are the lesser known terms such as “vegcurious”, referring to those that do not identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian but are curious about reducing the amount of meat and dairy in their diet. “Flexitarians”are people who occasionally eat meat, fish and dairy, but stick to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle.

There are also “pescetarians”, who eat fish and seafood to supplement their vegetarian diet. Then there are the “freegans,” who eat only free food, particularly food about to be tossed in the dumpster. This group is out to make a political statement while acting as the human equivalent of the detritivore.

Whatever group you fall into, there is one overwhelming conclusion – we are becoming aware not only of the personal benefits to a more healthy diet, but of the impact our decisions about food have on our planet. We are approaching a time of awakening for human kind (akin to the Age of Enlightenment) where we take a fresh look at the effects of all food related systems that affect our health and our environment.

World Population Chart

This new perspective will be a critical element to our ability to create sustainable agricultural systems that build economic stability, improve quality of agricultural lands and insure the viability of a world population that is on track to reach 10 billion by the year 2040.


Healthy Living Starts In Your Back Yard – Juicing

Juicing fruits and vegetables has enjoyed a renaissance over the past few years. People have been discovering the health benefits of drinking freshly made juice as the population ages and the Baby Boomer generation reaches their twilight years. Many of us, young and old, are looking for ways to stave off disease and increase our vitality. But, do we go to the supermarket to buy our fruits and veggies that will go into our juicer?

We can, but we would miss out on a great opportunity to get these vital nutrients and minerals from our own backyard. For many of you who already grow lettuce and tomatoes as staples, adding carrots, beets and celery may not be a big stretch. If you don’t already have a garden set up, there’s some start-up work involved, however the benefits are enormous.

Carrots and apples are the foundation of most juicing concoctions, and for good reason. Carrot juice is one of the richest sources of  A, D, E, G, K and B complex vitamins and includes calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulfur, and iron (1)

Vitamin A is an important nutrient that is responsible for the proper functioning of the eyes. A diet lacking in vitamin A causes the eyes to loose their ability to focus, especially in low light environments (1)

As adults we need approximately 5,000 IUs of vitamin A per day (although the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin do store vitamin A) and an 8 ounce glass of fresh squeezed carrot juice has nearly 50,000 IUs! The deeper orange colored carrots contain the most carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the liver. And if you are pregnant then you’ll need even more – 6,000; if you’re breast feeding, 8,000.

Vitamin E has been linked to the prevention of cancer cells replicating in the body. It is also a vital nutrient for the proper growth of healthy skin cells in the body.

Apples too are packed with cancer-fighting compounds. Polyphenols and pectin in apples have an anti-carcinogenic effect on the stomach, preventing development of cancerous tumors (American Research Center US Apple Association). Apple juice also makes our bones and joints stronger, which is especially useful for women during menopause (3).

Thomas B. Shea from Center for Cellular Neurobiology in Neurodegeneration Research University of Massachusetts and his research team conducted a series of laboratory studies in 2009. Mice receiving a dose equivalent to 2 cups of apple juice a day for 1 month showed reduced production of protein fragments called beta amyloid, which is responsible for the formation of “senile plaques” found in brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (3).

Apples help the body prevent anemia, stomach and intestinal disorders, gout, rheumatism, arteriosclerosis, avitaminosis, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, circulatory system, kidney and liver diseases, chronic colitis, prevents formation of uric acid in the body. Additionally, apple juice has anti-microbial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Carrots have an abundance of carbohydrates, which convert to sugars in the body. Care must be taken if one is diabetic or on a particular diet when mixing with apples that contain very high levels of natural sugar or fructose (17g/138g apple). The juicing process itself removes the pulp of the fruits and vegetables. The pulp contains fiber which helps to regulate the body’s absorption of sugar.

One option of decreasing your sugar intake is to use green apples, which contain very low amounts of sugar. Reducing portion size is also helpful in controlling calorie intake from sugar.

Interestingly, combining both apples and carrots together in your juicing routine compounds their health benefits. Anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and micro-nutrients are enhanced when taken together. Mixing vegetables with fruits when juicing is encouraged, as the sugar content of fruits tends to be higher. Mixing your fruits and vegetables is fun, delicious and the possibilities are endless.

Try various combinations that suit your particular tastes and nutritional needs. Carrots and apples are surefire building blocks to your juicing recipes. Taken together in 4:1 or 3:1 ratios, is a simple and easy to prepare juice that is delicious to drink. Kids and picky eaters will love it because of the natural sugar content and wholesome flavor.

Adding one ingredient at a time is a sensible way to add variety and nutritional value to your new juice blends. Try adding a dozen sprigs of parsley or cilantro for an extra nutritional kick . Parsley is extremely high in vitamins A and C as well as in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulphur (5). Ginger, known also as the “Man Root” is a good source of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Adding just a tiny amount can spice up a juice, so go easy at first. Celery, fennel and cucumbers are good additions to the above as they are good choices for those just starting out with a juicing regimen. Other juicing ideas include a combination of tomatoes, beets, cabbage and spinach (6).

And finally, all of these can be grown by you – in your own back yard. The freshest possible produce is locally grown. If you already have an apple tree than your half of the way there. I bet if you look closely, one of your neighbors has one and they just drop on the ground come summertime. Carrots are quite easy to grow in most climates and children love to pull them out of the ground and eat them right away. Parsley, cilantro, mint and other herbs can be grown in window sills and on porches when back yards are not available.

Enjoy the fun and health benefits of juicing your own vegetables and fruits; growing, harvesting, juicing and then drinking – a locavore’s delight!


1. The Wonders of Carrot Juice by John B. Lust

2. Sugar Content of Apples by

3. Apple Juice Benefits by Woman’

4. Help With Cooking

5. Health Benefits of Parsley by

6. Delicious Juicing Recipes by

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