Food Documentaries

In order to supplement my plan I have been watching a food documentary whenever I have free time. So far I have seen Food Matters, Food Inc., Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat, The Beautiful Truth,The Future of Food, and King Corn. I give all of these documentaries a high rating. Food Matters shows the connection between food and illness and also the connection between food and healing. The documentary also educated me on how raw food is beneficial for a person’s everyday diet. I learned that when your body digests cooked food it is almost fighting it, but this is not so with a raw food. Genetically modified foods are discussed in this documentary and the health consequences of eating them. Food Inc. and all of its horror-film like music is a great movie to scare your average person out of eating fast food and conventional fruits and vegetables. I like the documentary overall and the scare-tactics that it uses. Yet scare-tactics do not work for everyone. My brother happily ate a McDonalds “Big Mac” after watching Food Inc. This is the most popular food film right now. Last year in my Environmental Science class we watched it while having an organic food tasting at the end of the year. It is a good choice for teachers to show their students to begin the education on genetically modified foods and factory farming. The Killer at Large documentary relates cancer to obesity. Many United States citizens are obese, and many of us have cancer, so this is a valid point. It even goes on to say that any terrorist attack is not as detrimental as the food business has been to United States citizens. Plastic surgery options are also explored in the film. A teen is documented getting plastic surgery once to rid her body of fat, and then another time after she gains the fat back. This proves that surgery is not the best solution. Healthy eating and exercise is the common sense approach.  The Beautiful Truth is a “heart-warming” documentary featuring a young teenage boy investigating the Gerson therapy. Brief talk of big companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta is featured in the film. The Gerson therapy is shown as monumental to all other cancer treatments. But it is severely criticized by many as a hoax. However, in the film many people speak out saying how it cured them of cancer. I enjoyed this documentary and after I watched it I watched “The Big C”. Last night’s episode actually briefly eludes to the Gerson therapy by talking about coffee enemas. The Future of Food is a documentary about the harms and controversies of genetically modified foods. I believe that it would be a beneficial film to be shown in schools to educate students about genetically modified foods, since the majority of us are oblivious to them. Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World is about the artificial sweetener aspartame, how it was approved by the FDA, and the illnesses that are caused by it. I found it horrifying, as is probably expected, and immediately told all of my friends and family about how diet drinks and chewing gum contain this harmful sweetener. King Corn is about two friends who plant an acre of corn in Iowa, the state which grows the most corn. They find out how much corn is in our bodies and the potential harms of all of this corn. The film goes through a year with them buying and growing the crop, and shows the very small amount of money that they make. Farmers do not make nearly enough money. I recommend all of these documentaries to anyone who would like to expand their knowledge of the FDA, our governments role in the food business, the evils in the food business, genetically modified foods, and chemicals in our food.

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Horizon Organic versus Natural By Nature

Horizon Organic, the largest organic dairy producer in the  United States has been receiving tough criticism. Horizon Organic is now owned by Dean Foods who’s motto is “Created by nature, delivered by Dean”. The company also owns Land O’ Lakes butter and other non-organic brands.Four years ago PCC Natural Markets stopped carrying the brand because their customers were not pleased with Horizon Organic’s practices. Horizon Organic farms have been investigated and when compared to other organic farms, they look more like feedlots. The picture below is of the Fagundes Bros Factory which produces milk to be shipped to Horizon Organic. When visiting the Horizon Organic website the background of the pages is of children running around and laughing… it is very strange. Where are the cows and green pastures? I suppose they are trying to give the image that their dairy products make children happy and healthy. The company uses wind power, which is great, but I want to know more about the integrity of the product. They now carry a “natural” line for mom’s and kids which is not organic.The Organic Consumer’s Association describes the unhappy cows on Horizon Organic’s farms “Jammed in crowded pens atop the hardpan of the Idaho desert… Only occasionally do they eat fresh grass”. This is not how organic should be. Horizon Organic received a big zero on The Cornucopia Institute’s rating system for dairy. The score states that this brand is ethically deficient and that no farms were open enough to participate in the study. Natural By Nature received a full score of five, or otherwise “excellent”. Natural By Nature seems to be the opposite of Horizon Organic. On their website they state that many of the farmers who produce milk for them are Amish. Supporting small farmers is very ethical of the brand, but they do have more to please. Antibiotics and reproductive hormones are never used on the cows, regardless of what age they are, and all dairies are regularly visited by staff. They do not purchase dairy ingredients from outside sources. Their site shows pictures of cows grazing in a green pasture with pretty flowers off to the side. The milk is from 100% grass-fed cows. What this means is that instead of eating organic grain, which some organic dairy farmers feed their cows, these cows instead are eating grass, like cows should eat. Yet it is stated that in the winter months, cows are fed from 10 to 15 percent grain in order to prevent energy deficiencies in the cows. Farms are located in southeastern Pennsylvania. There is even a video on their site about grass-fed organic milk and about small family farms. They have also disclosed a full report on the biodiversity on their farms. Above is a picture of a peaceful Natural By Nature farm in Pennsylvania. Both brands are hormone free. This means that the farmers do not use rBGH or rBST hormones when caring for cows. The negative impacts of these hormones are clear. They sicken cows, causing mastitis, digestive disorders, sores, lacerations, and foot and leg ailments. In humans these hormones have been said to cause breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

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Personal Progress

I have been eating all organic and exercising regularly since September 26. I have more energy, have yet to become sick with a seasonal cold like all of my other friends, and believe that I am truly a more healthy person. However, it is still a challenge for me to eat all organic .When I go into the school library I have to walk directly past Starbucks, where I see students buying delicious pastries and such. I have almost actually broken from my plan to get a cinnamon roll but when I walked into Starbucks they did not have any available that day. Exercising takes up time that I could be sitting around watching television or doing homework. But I look forward to more improvements and have been exercising every few days or whenever possible. I am going to continue moving forward with my plan, exploring different organic brands and exercising until I see the improvement that I wish for.

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Making Organic Brownies

Today I’m making organic brownies using Dr. Oetker’s mix. It states on the box that the ingredients in the mix are not genetically modified, produced using man made pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. The ingredients are also free of chemical processing also. This German company began making baking powder. They now have a range of non-organic and organic products and even luxury hotels. I have not been able to find any information of how they are environmentally friendly besides having an organic line. I contacted the company about this, asking if they take steps to be environmentally friendly. The response was “Dr. Oetker is committed to the core principle of protecting our environment in everything we do. Environmental awareness and responsibility is part of our quality commitment and assessment of the environmental impact is part of our processes.” They did not give me specifics on what exactly they do that makes them environmentally responsible.

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Tazo tea

This morning I tried Tazo brand organic chai black tea. It  was a decent chai, however I would not pay for it again. Online Tazo says to have partnered with Starbucks, a very reputable business as we all know…. and how they work with a program to help improve the lives of people living in Darjeeling, India. They have also begun using energy derived from windmills. It is possible for a “big brand” to retain socially conscious values depending on what the brand’s values are.  If the brand is dedicated to it’s customers, then they will use the large sums of money they make to invest in products and company values that will please the customer. However, if the brand is only producing for profit, then they are going to find the cheap way to please it’s customers. Two hundred years ago there were brands in existence. But virtually none of them were United States based brands. A brand is something with an identity that serves a purpose to consumers whether it be a hotel, food product, or pharmaceuticals.

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Cal-Organic Farms

Starting as a roadside stand, this company is now one of the largest organic producers.  Headquarters are located in California where I suppose the green onions I bought from their company come from. On the small piece of paper connected to my green onions is a statement saying what organic means to Cal-Organic. “Organic refers to the way our products are grown and processed. The operating philosophy of Cal-Organic is based on a system of farming that works to maintain and replenish soil fertility without the use of synthetic and toxic chemicals. Pests and weeds are managed using earth-friendly means such as beneficial insects and mechanical controls. Cal-Organic produce is never genetically engineered or modified and is never irradiated.” The fact that it is never irradiated is great, because some organics are. Irradiation improves a product’s shelf life.  Toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene are used in the process. Benzene has been linked to leukemia and reproductive harm. Exposure to toluene can cause nervous system and possible kidney damage. However it has not been linked to cancer. It has been proven that irradiation does no more for food safety than proper cooking does. Therefore I render it useless and harmful to society. I have not been able to find any “bad news” on this company. Although it is large it seems to have everything together. I found that wages for field workers on organic farms are often higher than wages on conventional farms.

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Panela Drink

Pannela is an organic panela drink containing water, organic panela, natural flavor and citric acid. It apparently is a good source of vitamin c (it has 15% of ones daily value), it is sodium and fat free and low in calories. But what is it exactly? Panela is another word for cane juice. Cane juice is practically sugar making this drink sugar water. It tastes similar to raw sugar. On their site they have a link to Wikipedia explaining how panela is an unrefined sugar product. It possibly is a healthy sugar substitute since it is unrefined. But a drink of this pure sugar can not be very health beneficial. Yet many internet sites claim that it is healthy and can even prevent rickets. Vitamin c is present in sugar cane, but it truly is not that much. Surely it is better than no vitamin c at all, but in my opinion there are better ways to get it than loading up on sugar. There is citric acid in the Pannela drink. It is the last on the list of ingredients… meaning that it is not very significant. But it possibly increases the vitamin c content in the beverage. Vitamin Water is desperately trying to give consumers an image of health and popularity. They use celebrities and atheletes on their bottles to draw consumers in. Unfortunately the vitamins in the water are artificial along with the colors and flavorings. The sugar in the water is processed. So the main difference in Vitamin water and Pannela is that Pannela at least is organic, and uses sugar that is not processed, while Vitamin Water is an artificial way to attain vitamins. If you notice, there is a small picture of sugar cane next to the fruit on the Pannela drink. I suppose they are trying to emphasize the fruit flavoring in the drink but really to me it tasted like pure sugar, minimal fruit taste. Conclusion: it is best to get vitamins from actual food than from a processed drink like Vitamin Water or a drink with really not that many vitamins but lots of sugar like Pannela. Go eat a pomegranate!

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