Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Cons and Pros of Food Processing

 I saw this on food monki today and had to laugh.  I eat a diet that is meatless on weekdays...does this count at meatless? lol.  

As a joke, my husband brought it home once and I made it for my kids....go figure, they loved was the last time I made it though lol.


The Cons and Pros of Food Processing


Here is an interesting finding from a recent market study. 1500 consumers across all demographics in the US were surveyed by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and Artemis Strategy Group. The news:
43% of consumers have a negative attitude towards processed foods.
But what exactly is processed food?
And is a processed food bad for you by default?

What you need to know:
Food processing is a set of methods and techniques used to transform raw food ingredients into consumable food. Food processing can be as simple as cutting up some vegetables to prepare a salad, or as complex as manufacturing a Twinkie in multiple processing facility.
From the early days of food processing, the primary goal was to extend the life of a foodstuff, by acting as a preservative. This helped balance humans’ need to eat daily with nature’s trend to provide crops only during certain times of the year. To this day, extending shelf life is one of the most important reasons food manufacturers add so many weird sounding ingredients to products.
One of the first forms of food processing, dating back to BC, was the salting of meats as a means of preservation. Sugar was introduced much later as a preservative for fruit, and thus the jam was born. Keeping food cold, either underground, or by using ice, was an effective, if primitive method of preservation until the ascent of ice boxes and recently electrical refrigeration.
In the early 19th century a new technology was introduced to vacuum bottles of food for French troops. It would lead to the use of tin cans a decade later and thus the canning industry was born.
Pasteurization, another French invention from the mid 19th century, greatly improved the safety of milk and milk products, as well as increasing their shelf life. (Let’s not get into the raw milk debate in this post).
It was only in the industrialized 20th century, and more prominently after World War II, that a third and crucial factor became the driving force behind food processing – convenience. With legions of moms joining the work force, there was less time to toil in the kitchen, and a demand for quick, easy to prepare foods skyrocketed.
Additional benefits of food processing include lower prices to consumers due to the economies of scale of mass manufacturing, increased availability of a wide variety of foods, and a consistency in taste, texture, and mouth feel.
With so many advantages to food processing, one may ask why is almost every other American so bearish on processed foods?
Here are a few reasons:
The further a food product is from its natural form, the less it retains its healthful nutritional properties. Vitamins evaporate, minerals are leached, and fiber is long forgotten.
True, the decrease in nutrients has led to enrichment and fortification, but these add only a small number of nutrients back to a product, where hundreds of others are lost in translation from the original orange to the orange drink in a plastic bottle.
Increasing shelf life requires the use of preservatives, whether natural ones such as salt, or artificial chemicals that have more specific functions (mold inhibitors, bacteria killers, antioxidants, antimicrobial chemicals, etc…).  Some of these preservatives have adverse side affects on some or all human populations.
In order to make food more palatable and attractive, additives are used. Food colorings are a huge category of additives. The color of a food is an important psychological consideration. But in many cases, the color of the processed product is not as bold as expected by the consumer. Take strawberry yogurts. Almost all manufacturers add some sort of coloring, whether a natural red color such as beet juice, a natural but quirky bug juice, or artificial Red #40. Despite studies that have shown correlation between food colorings and cognitive problems in children, the food industry uses them because they are cheaper than natural sources.
And since cost has become a driving factor in consumer consideration, food companies are constantly on the lookout for cheaper manufacturing techniques and cheaper source ingredients. Anything that can be made in a lab is cheaper than a naturally sourced ingredient. Substituting quality ingredients with cheaper or inferior standbys is the only way to keep prices down. Don’t even ask what parts of animal carcasses go into your baloney.
Farm subsidies in the US have made corn and soy products very cheap. Guess what – soy oil and high fructose corn syrup are found in many processed items. They add the fat and sweet components that make so many junk foods tasty to us. Salt is natural and cheap, but excessive consumption causes hypertension and other health problems.
We haven’t talked about processing that takes place before the “ingredients” are harvested (GMO crops, hormones and antibiotics to for livestock, etc..), but these too are affecting the food we eat, in ways that science has yet to get a full grasp of.
What to do at the supermarket:
You know our position – the more you can do to prepare your food from scratch, the better service you’re providing to your family. Buying fresh or frozen produce and whipping up a soup, a salad, or a pasta sauce is not rocket science and does not require hours of kitchen work.
But hey, we’re pragmatists too. Try to find the balance that best works for you. But the nest time you complain about not having enough time to cook, consider how much time you spend watching TV and on Facebook.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balance an Egg on the Equinox

Balance an Egg on the Equinox

Link to site I found this on above

Balancing an egg on its end is a matter of  skill, not astronomy. (Steve Lewis, Getty Images)Saturday, March 20, 2010 is the vernal equinox, which marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Are you familiar with the urban legend that it's easier to balance an egg on end on the equinox than on other days of the year?

Test it and see!

This vernal equinox one of the two times during the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the spin axis of the Earth points 90 degrees away from the sun. Why should this affect your ability to balance an egg on end? The premise is that aligning the gravitational pull of the Sun with that from the center of the Earth should somehow make it easier to balance any object.

Test the Hypothesis Yourself

Take a carton of eggs and try balancing the eggs on end today. Can you stand any of them up (without resorting to tricks like putting salt under the eggs)? Can you stand eggs on their small ends as well as their large ends? Keep track of your results and repeat the process on the equinox. Do you note any differences? A simple hypothesis to test is: Eggs can only be balanced on-end on the equinox. If you can balance an egg today, you've disproven the hypothesis. It's that easy!

One thing I find neat about egg-balancing is that a balanced egg will hold its position until a vibration knocks it down. How long can you keep an egg standing?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Under cover School Lunch

I can't wait for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. A sneak showing of "Food Revolution" will air Sunday, March 21 at 10 p.m., right after a new "Desperate Housewives."

A teacher in Illinois is eating school lunches for a is her blog.|htmlws-main-n|dl3|link3|

She's fed up. An Illinois teacher is eating school lunches for a year in solidarity with students she believes aren't offered healthy options in the cafeteria.

Blogging anonymously at, the instructor has already suffered a few bellyaches in the name of her endeavor. She began eating -- and documenting with her cell phone camera -- the less-than-appetizing school lunches this January and quickly started gaining thousands of readers per day.

The teacher, who refers to herself as Mrs. Q, told AOL Health that even airplane meals taste better than the ones in the school cafeteria and that she is eating them to prove a point. The children at her school come from low socioeconomic brackets, and she estimates that 98 percent of them eat hot lunches, mostly for free or at low cost. The meals, she said in an e-mail, "are overly processed and contain very little 'real' food," such as fresh fruit.

"I am not a nutritionist. That being said, I became concerned about what the kids were eating because on the surface, the food doesn't appear to be very healthy.

"These are the kids who need the good nutrition," she added. "My students don't have good food models at home. These kids depend on the school for so much, including good nutrition. And if they don't get it, they will develop bad habits and increase our health-care costs in the future."

Nearly one fifth of U.S. children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and research has cautioned that those kids could have shorter life spans because they are too heavy. Moreover, the obesity epidemic is blamed for the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a disease historically seen mostly in adults.

rib-b-queFirst Lady Michelle Obama recently took on the issue of school meals as part of her new Let's Move campaign to curb childhood obesity. Some 31 million kids get federally funded lunches at school, and 11 million eat breakfast there, according to the Obama administration. With many kids getting about half their daily calories at school, a goal of the campaign is to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and fat in school meals, and to increase whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Under the proposed Child Nutrition Act, the federal government would allot an additional $1 billion a year for 10 years to help schools improve the nutrition of meals. The program currently costs about $15 billion annually, according to the PTA.

Mrs. Q said she is not affiliated with the Let's Move campaign and was keeping her identity a secret out of concern for her job.

"I'm worried about any possible backlash exposing the school lunches might have for me personally and professionally," she told AOL Health, after agreeing to answer questions anonymously. "I want to continue working and I also don't want to get anyone in trouble."

Mrs. Q has laments the short window kids at her school have to eat. She estimates they have 13 minutes at best, five at worst (after taking into account waiting in line, finding a seat and using the bathroom).

She also worried about the safety of the food -- especially after one inedible peanut butter and jelly graham cracker sandwich kept her in the bathroom all night.

"I'm having more stomachaches these days," she said. "It's not every day, but at least once a week I just don't feel very good."

She added that she has a history of irritable bowel syndrome and couldn't be sure the bellyaches were from the school meals.

"I can't place it," she said. "Keep in mind that I eat organic and healthy outside of work so it's not like I'm suffering. What is hard for me to think about are the kids who rely on the school for the best (or only) meal of the day and they get hot dogs, processed meat products, fruit cups with high-fructose corn syrup, etc."

chicken nuggetsOn her wish list: A salad bar, soups, casseroles, and stir fries, which she told AOL Health could be cost efficient if they're made in bulk. She said yogurt and cottage cheese could make for healthy side dishes, and she would nix tater tots in favor of roasted potatoes. She would also eliminate hot dogs, packaged foods and Styrofoam. On the plus side, she said most bread products at the school already appear to be whole wheat.

Mrs. Q appears to teach at an elementary school. While she described the students there as "pretty young" to AOL Health, she told the blog Small Bites that students eating the meals range from 4 to 11 years old. And though she is eating -- and blogging -- in their interest, the project is causing her some anxiety.

"I feel a lot of guilt and turmoil about what I'm doing here," she wrote on February 18. "I'm waiting for the moment I'm called to the principal's office and let go. I do believe it's a matter of 'when' not 'if' they find out and it's curtains for me and then of course the project.

"I want them to know that the project is not about individuals in one school but about a country full of children who need better food models."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homeschool Socialization

I read this article a few years ago and saved it in a word document. I just sent it to my sister who is going for her masters degree and is doing a presentation on homeschooling for a project.

Socialization: Homeschooling vs. Schools

By Michael F. Haverluck
May 2, 2007 - It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."

Many homeschoolers share this sentiment when it comes to public schools, believing that the moral relativism, violence, peer pressure, drugs and promiscuity found inside their gates provide an inadequate setting to properly socialize their children.

Yet 92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgmental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray .

What makes homeschool socialization such a hot topic?

With approximately 4 million children currently being homeschooled in the U.S., along with a 15- to 20-percent yearly growth rate, many professional educators and school boards are concerned that this exodus will keep funds from entering the public education system.

Many teachers also believe that successful home instruction by uncredentialed parents undermines their expertise and jeopardizes their jobs.

Questions about inadequate socialization are often brought up as a means to disqualify homeschooling as a viable alternative form of education, but are the arguments valid?

A look at the research on this socialization debate shines further light on the issue.

There's no place like home

Why is there such a dichotomy in the socialization experienced between homeschoolers and conventional students? It all has to do with the learning environment.

The National Home Education Research Institute disclosed that the 36 to 54 hours that students spend in school-related weekly activities make peers and adults outside of the home the primary influences in children's lives - not the parents.

Realizing the harm that this constant exposure can produce, especially if it's not countered by involved parenting, most homeschoolers are well aware of their children's need for close one-to-one contact throughout the education process.

Jesus understood the importance of continual intimate contact with His students, as He ate, slept and fellowshipped with His disciples 24 hours a day. It is unlikely that Jesus would have entrusted their training to strangers.

So how do these different settings affect children? Dr. Thomas Smedley believes that homeschoolers have superior socialization skills, and his research supports this claim. He conducted a study in which he administered the Vineyard Adaptive Behavior Scales test to identify mature and well-adapted behaviors in children. Home learners ranked in the 84th percentile, compared to publicly schooled students, who were drastically lower in the 23rd.

Welcome to the real world

Many school socialization advocates argue that homeschooling precludes children from experiencing real life.

Instead of being locked behind school gates in what some would consider an artificial setting characterized by bells, forced silence and age-segregation, homeschoolers frequently extend their everyday classroom to fire departments, hospitals, museums, repair shops, city halls, national parks, churches and colleges, where real community interaction and contacts are made.

Dismantling the stereotype that home learners spend their days isolated from society at kitchen tables with workbooks in hand, NHERI reports that they actually participate in approximately five different social activities outside the home on a regular basis.

Furthermore, researcher Dr. Linda Montgomery found that 78 percent of high school home learners were employed with paying jobs, while a majority engaged in volunteering and community service.

Research presented at the National Christian Home Educators Leadership Conference divulged that homeschool graduates far exceeded their public and private school counterparts in college by ranking the highest in 42 of 63 indicators of collegiate success. They were also ranked as being superior in four out of five achievement categories, including socialization, as they were assessed as being the most charismatic and influential.

Biblical or worldly socialization?

When most home educators and school administrators speak of successful socialization, are they referring to the same thing?

Education researcher Dr. Michael Mitchell found that being popular, aggressively competitive, materialistically driven and self-confident are traits promoted in conventional schools.

His study shows that these campus ideals are discouraged by Christian home educators in favor of building their children's character and dismantling selfish ambitions. Integrity, responsibility, respect for others, trust in God, biblical soundness and an amiable disposition topped the ideal social qualities they desired their youth to embody.

Many Christians who homeschool believe that the greatest socialization their children can have is to be trained to emulate Jesus, who is a servant of man. Home educators examined by Mitchell strive to dismantle any selfish ambitions and self-aggrandizement seen in their children, as opposed to cultivating them.

Getting ahead of one's peers is not consistent with Jesus' urging in Matthew 20:25b-28, which calls for Christians to seek a lowly and servile role to those around them. However, this does not mean that Christians are called to underachieve, as Colossians 3:23 exhorts readers to push for peak performance in every endeavor, but for the glory of God rather than for selfish ambition.

Pride is also promoted in the public schools. It is often repackaged as self-esteem in programs such as "Here's Looking at You, 2000," in which education researcher Dr. Amy Binder reports that students are instructed to believe that they are "the most important person in the world."

Many Christian home educators assert that the kind of pride being taught in the schools is discouraged throughout Scripture by Jesus and Paul, who preach against lifting oneself up or putting oneself first in favor of assuming a lowly position among others, as seen in Luke 14:10-11 and Romans 12:3.

They often contend that traditional students are driven to achieve high marks in order to attain lucrative and prestigious jobs that can lead to lives of self-indulgence, while the Bible calls man not to be overcome by material concerns.

Even though God enjoys prospering His children, He also warns us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Negative socialization

The mass socialization conducted within schools has brought about a proliferation of delinquent behavior within this nation's youth, reports education researcher, Dr. Michael Slavinski. He notes that student bodies are increasingly riddled with violence, drugs, promiscuity, emotional disorders, crime, contempt for authority, desperate behavior, illiteracy and peer dependency - just to name a few.

Today, parents are not as surprised to see reports of fifth-graders having sex in class; hear about school shootings; find drugs or condoms in backpacks; receive phone calls from the police and principals; or witness defiant, apathetic and unrecognizable tones in their children's voices.

"Live and let learn," say many parents. Most home educators are fine with this, as long as their children's learning comes from mature, seasoned and embracing adults who have the children's best interests at heart - above political or economic agendas. They believe that such training shouldn't come from peers either, which amounts to the blind leading the blind.

When the Direct Observation Form of the Child Behavior Checklist was administered by education researcher Dr. Larry Shyers to identify 97 problematic behaviors in two groups of children, traditionally schooled students exuded eight times as many antisocial traits than their homeschooled counterparts. This lies in direct contrast to claims by public school advocates that exposure to campus life leads to proper socialization.

Light of the world

Many Christian parents are concerned that homeschooling would not allow their children to fulfill the great commission of sharing the gospel with non-believers. They often site Matthew 5:14-16 about being the light of the world.

Some Christian homeschool parents argue that even though young believers are to reach out to the lost, they are not called to immerse themselves daily in a hostile setting that constantly works to influence them in the ways of the world. They recognize that those with strong Christian upbringings are still vulnerable to the ungodly climate of the schools.

In Proverbs 4:11-15, King Solomon realized the vulnerability of his son, proclaiming his responsibility to train him in godly teachings and keep him from stumbling over the vices of this world.

Just as parents know that children are not prepared for war, many Christians believe that youth are not equipped to fend for themselves in the spiritual warfare taking place within schools.

A nationwide survey conducted by The Barna Group shows that 80 percent of Christian families send their children to public schools where their faith is attacked. Based on the study's findings, it appears that their kids are the ones being "evangelized" by the religion of secular humanism. More than half of their Christian teens believe Jesus actually sinned and only nine percent hold to moral absolutes, while 83 percent of children from committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview, reports the group.

For more statistics on Christians in education, click on The Barna Group.

Consistent with these figures, Christian producer and occult expert Caryl Matrisciana reports that 75 percent of public-schooled American youth brought up in Christian households disown their Christian faith by the first year of college. NHERI finds that this is only true for less than four percent of homeschooled youth.

Most home educators would not trade the blessings that homeschooling brings their families and society for the world.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, The Barna Group, NHERI, Dr. Michael Slavinski, Dr. Brian Ray, Dr. Thomas C. Smedley, Dr. Larry E. Shyers, Dr. Michael Mitchell, Dr. Linda Montgomery, Dr. Rhonda A. Galloway, Dr. Amy Binder