If you use social media, you have probably seen the new mini-film from Chipotle entitled ‘The Scarecrow’. If not, you should watch it now above. 

‘The Scarecrow’ – which is actually a commercial for Chipotle’s new agribusiness-fighting iPhone game – is a haunting commentary on the state of our agricultural system and it accurately depicts the troubles stemming from our dumbed-down corporate fast food machine. The mini-film references animal cruelty, secretive practices, misleading advertising (“all natural”) and more. Since Chipotle is, at its most basic level, a fast food corporation, it is refreshing to see them using their popularity to raise awareness and advocate for more sustainable and ethical food. 

Do they have a constant supply of pasture-fed meat that is humanely slaughtered? Are all of the veggies and beans in your burrito purchased from a local farmer? Not even close. But for a fast food chain like Chipotle to be conscious of their impacts (Chipotle is also aiming to be the first GMO-free chain in the US) and be working towards changing their practices is huge. The video has also started an important conversation across the country, educating Chipotle fans and critics alike. 

While a quick glance at Chipotle’s ingredients statement shows plenty of room for improvement – and a burrito at Chipotle can easily amount to 1,000 calories plus half of the recommended daily sodium intake – I think we can all get on board with the hope of feeling better about our food, especially when it’s coming from a fast food company.

Global food waste accounts for more emissions than most countries

image

It is a well-known fact that people around the world are malnourished and hungry every day. Simultaneously, food waste around the world has increased drastically.

According to a new United Nations report, this wasted food is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any country, except the United States and China. Almost a third of the food produced for humans - 1.3 billion tons - is thrown away. This means the massive amount of farmland (much of it cleared wilderness), water, and fossil fuels put into this food are completely wasted. 

These resources, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, have a carbon footprint of 3.3 billions tons of carbon dioxide every year.

How can we help? Solutions in developed nations include decreasing portion sizes, developing organic waste alternatives like composting, and giving leftover food from restaurants to charities. For the developing world, better storage and distribution techniques are necessary.

Besides being a heavy contributor to greenhouse gases, food waste puts pressure on a system already struggling to feed the world’s population. To be more careful with our food supply today means not only helping the planet, but helping its inhabitants as well.

Food for thought - and sight.
Most articles on genetically modified foods take an extreme stance - either GMOs are going to decimate our food and health or they are the best thing to happen to food since the Agricultural Revolution itself.
This eye-opening article in the New York Times on the benefits of rice modified to produce beta carotene - a vitamin A source - is informative and thoughtful. If GMOs can improve nutritional outcomes across the world without falling to the power of big biotechnology companies, are they still the enemy that so many see them as? Or could they be lifesaving tools?

Food for thought - and sight.

Most articles on genetically modified foods take an extreme stance - either GMOs are going to decimate our food and health or they are the best thing to happen to food since the Agricultural Revolution itself.

This eye-opening article in the New York Times on the benefits of rice modified to produce beta carotene - a vitamin A source - is informative and thoughtful. If GMOs can improve nutritional outcomes across the world without falling to the power of big biotechnology companies, are they still the enemy that so many see them as? Or could they be lifesaving tools?

Here’s a friendly reminder for your weekend grocery shopping - choose organic produce whenever possible, especially from the dirty dozen.

Here’s a friendly reminder for your weekend grocery shopping - choose organic produce whenever possible, especially from the dirty dozen.

The new Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program launched at two NYC hospitals this week. Under this new initiative, overweight or obese patients can be prescribed Health Bucks along with nutritional counseling. These Health Bucks, which accrue at $1 per day per family member over a four month period, are redeemable only at NYC farmers markets.

The use of Health Bucks allows for increased access to locally grown fresh food, leading to improved health outcomes for individuals while bringing lasting changes to the local economy.

Patients from the pilot program have already seen dramatic weight loss and other positive changes for themselves and their children. Could this be the default nutritional therapy of the future?

New Yorkers have been seeing calorie counts on menus since 2009. But has anyone stopped to consider how effective this law has been on influencing consumer choice?
A new study by the American Journal of Public Health shows that providing McDonald’s customers with flyers about how many calories they should eat in a meal or day when calorie counts were available on the menu made no significant difference in what they ordered. Women ordered meals with 27% more calories than recommended, while men ate 11% more - regardless of whether or not they received a flyer.
What does this tell us? Maybe the issue is simply their location - fast food chains have not done much in the last decade to improve their offerings. But perhaps it would be better to look at calories as the problem. Menus offering exercise times instead of calories have been shown to be more effective in reducing calorie intake, although they are far less exact. 
Do you pay attention to calorie counts when you go out to eat? How can this system be improved? Sound off in the comments!

New Yorkers have been seeing calorie counts on menus since 2009. But has anyone stopped to consider how effective this law has been on influencing consumer choice?

A new study by the American Journal of Public Health shows that providing McDonald’s customers with flyers about how many calories they should eat in a meal or day when calorie counts were available on the menu made no significant difference in what they ordered. Women ordered meals with 27% more calories than recommended, while men ate 11% more - regardless of whether or not they received a flyer.

What does this tell us? Maybe the issue is simply their location - fast food chains have not done much in the last decade to improve their offerings. But perhaps it would be better to look at calories as the problem. Menus offering exercise times instead of calories have been shown to be more effective in reducing calorie intake, although they are far less exact. 

Do you pay attention to calorie counts when you go out to eat? How can this system be improved? Sound off in the comments!

We all know about the concept of counting calories - but have you ever really thought about what that means?

In this quick video by ASAP Science, the difference in quantity and quality of 200 calories worth of various foods is explored. More than anything, this visual shows how counting calories is not the end all be all to a healthy diet. Instead, a balanced diet made up of foods containing the most nutrients per calorie is the way to go.

Check out the video above!

Obesity: It’s officially a disease.
Now that obesity has officially been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association, changes in the way doctors and insurance companies treat patients may be on the horizon. This decision could also affect public policy moves, the food industry, and the outlook of the American people. Currently almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

Obesity: It’s officially a disease.

Now that obesity has officially been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association, changes in the way doctors and insurance companies treat patients may be on the horizon. This decision could also affect public policy moves, the food industry, and the outlook of the American people. Currently almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

The idea of medicine as food has existed for centuries. But throughout those centuries, the human race has been altering ancient, wild plants for our food consumption. As we have selected for sweeter and larger crops, we have dramatically reduced the cancer-fighting phytonutrients in them. For example, native Peruvian purple potatoes have 28 times more phytonutrients than the common potatoes we consume. The wild ancestors of apples have “a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious” variety.

What does this mean for our food supply and our health? As companies such as Monsanto as well as the US Department of Agriculture develop disease-resistant and quick-growing varieties of our crops, does this mean even more nutrient loss will occur? Time can only tell. In the mean time, be sure to use food as medicine by including more herbs, greens, and colorful vegetables in a varied diet.

As meat consumption around the world increases, so do the concerns over the sustainability and efficiency of meat production. Raising livestock is extremely inefficient - think 100 grams of vegetable protein in order to raise 15 grams of meat on average - and uses up valuable agricultural land and water resources while contributing to climate change.
Dutch scientist Mark Post has been working on a new way to grow meat - in a laboratory. He has successfully grown the world’s first “test tube burger" from billions of cow stem cells. While time-consuming and expensive, Post believes the production could eventually be expedited, allowing artificial meat products to become more common.
The test tube burger will be revealed and tasted in the upcoming weeks in London. Could this be the sustainable meat of the future?

As meat consumption around the world increases, so do the concerns over the sustainability and efficiency of meat production. Raising livestock is extremely inefficient - think 100 grams of vegetable protein in order to raise 15 grams of meat on average - and uses up valuable agricultural land and water resources while contributing to climate change.

Dutch scientist Mark Post has been working on a new way to grow meat - in a laboratory. He has successfully grown the world’s first “test tube burger" from billions of cow stem cells. While time-consuming and expensive, Post believes the production could eventually be expedited, allowing artificial meat products to become more common.

The test tube burger will be revealed and tasted in the upcoming weeks in London. Could this be the sustainable meat of the future?