Last month, Congress repealed the country-of-origin-labeling rule (COOL) on beef and pork after the World Trade Organization (WTO) insisted it was done, imposing 1 billion in tariffs against the US if it didn’t comply.
COOL used to mandate labels on packaging to indicate the country (or countries) where the meat animal was born, raised and slaughtered. On the plus side, though beef and pork will no longer have to comply with COOL rules, chicken and lamb must still be labeled.
Unfortunately, the US attempted to fight the change, but failed.
“Effective immediately, USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, adding that consumers should still feel safe knowing that “all imported and domestic meat will continue to be subject to rigorous inspections by USDA to ensure food safety.”
How does this affect our food?
Now that we will not know the country of origin of the meats, I decided to check out some local farms where I live in New Jersey to find out exactly what this means for our collective health.
Well, turns out that it means we are not going to know if the meat or chickens we buy in our grocery stores come from China, Europe or India.
But what about health standards? And what does this mean as far as organic food?
Our standards here in the United States can be much different then the standard in China.
This is a very scary thought for me as we don’t know what they are doing and how they are raising their animals.
Personally, I just felt that it would be much safer coming from the US.
But maybe not.
It turns out that I might have been wrong. You see, after I decided to start investigating local farms, some shocking truths were revealed.
Even though I do not eat meat, I really wanted to help my clients make better choices and start some relationships with the local farms. Well, I was in for a really big surprise! You won’t believe what I found.
This Shocking Secret Was Revealed When I Visited the Poultry Farms
Every poultry farm I visited, it turns out, is using GMO grains of corn and soy – and they are charging 3 times the price of even Organic-Certified chickens and turkeys from Whole Foods.
Who doesn’t love to snack? But if you’re not careful, doing so can cause big trouble for your diet. If you frequently eat between meals, those extra portions could have a big impact on your health – either positive or negative. They will definitely play an important role in helping you to manage your weight and take in all the nutrients your body needs.
So why do so many people find that when they snack throughout the day they’re actually heavier at the end of the week? Well, it’s quite simple, really – they’re eating more calories overall. Right?
Well…sorta. See, USDA studies show that many Americans who snack are taking in about one-third of our daily empty calories from those afternoon candy bars and late night refrigerator raids.
Do you know what that means??
That adds up to most of us are consuming two to four times the recommended limit in solid fats and added sugars. TWO to FOUR times!
It’s enough to turn your stomach (to flab!). So what are you gonna do about it?
The Mayo Clinic suggests keeping snacks below 100 calories. “Generous portions of fruits or vegetables can easily help fill you up while staying below that calorie count. All of the following servings have fewer than 100 calories:
Medium apple: 95 calories
Small banana: 90 calories
Two kiwis: 84 calories
20 medium baby carrots: 70 calories
20 grapes: 68 calories
Medium orange: 65 calories
20 cherry tomatoes: 61 calories
Medium peach: 58 calories
Medium red pepper: 37 calories
20 pea pods: 28 calories
For comparison, one reduced-fat cheese stick has about 60 calories to 100-calories, but it also has 4.5 grams of fat. While the protein and fat may help curb your appetite, a single cheese stick may not be as satisfying as, say, 20 baby carrots, which add up to nearly 10 times the weight of the cheese stick, and have 70 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.”
Blissfully Healthy Ways to Eat More and Still Lose Weight: The Magic of Snacking
I say we revolt! Let’s turn those numbers around! But how? Oh, don’t worry, as usual, I’ve got a plan for you. See, by learning how to choose smart snacks that are good for your health and well-being. Try these blissed-out tips to get started.
Blissed Out Eating – How to Make Better Food Choices
Focus on whole grains. Bake your own treats or look for packaged food that lists whole grains as the first ingredient. Whole wheat flour has more nutrients and fiber than white flour.
Take the sweet and the salty down a notch. Reduce sugar and sodium. Many junk foods are loaded with sugar and sodium. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.
Balance it out. Plan a balanced menu. Think of your snacks as miniature meals that need to include all three food groups. Along with complex carbohydrates, add in lean proteins and healthy fats.
Eat the WHOLE thing! Opt for whole foods. You may be tempted to simplify things by just grabbing an energy bar or buying cookies that are labeled low fat or low sugar. In fact, many convenience foods are less healthy than the label suggests. Buy natural foods like raw nuts and plain yogurt. (Then again, if it’s a matter of convenience, don’t beat yourself up if the energy bars work best for you. Do what you need to do, yo!)
Drink up. If you’re pressed for time, you can snack on healthy beverages. Tea contains antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients. Water will keep you hydrated and feeling full. For heartier fare, whip up smoothies in minutes with vegetables, natural peanut butter, or other goodies.
Eat more produce. On average, we’re eating 3 servings of fruits and vegetables compared to the recommendations for 7 to 13 servings. Snacks can help you fill in the gap.
Find substitutions. You probably have certain snacks that you crave the most. If they’re high in sugar or saturated fat, consider how to adjust them. Oven-baked fries are much slimmer than the fast food version. A square of dark chocolate is lighter than a doughnut.
Keep an eye on your portion sizes. It’s easy to consume as many calories as a full meal if you’re scarfing down potato chips or cheesecake. Measure out a single serving instead of eating out of the container. And if you’re good at eyeballing, check yourself every now and then, especially if you see something crazy happening on weigh-in day.
Don’t eat mindlessly. Stay in control by giving your full attention to your food while you eat it. Enjoy the process of cracking nuts and eating them one by one instead of wolfing down a whole package while watching TV. Spoon out leftovers onto a plate and pull up a chair rather than eating with the refrigerator door open.
Take it with ya. Pack a bag. Carry sensible treats around with you to avoid desperately searching for something wholesome in vending machines or gas stations. Pack a cooler with carrot sticks and yogurt drinks.
Don’t get hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Manage stress and boredom. Distinguish between true hunger and appetite. Do you eat for entertainment or to comfort yourself when you feel blue? Pick up a hobby or invite a friend out for a walk instead.
Keep a journal. If you need more help, a snacking journal can track how much you’re really eating. Spot the triggers that make you want to overindulge and develop strategies for dealing with them.
Choose healthy but yummy snacks that stabilize your blood sugar and give you the energy you need to cruise right on through your busy day. Good-for-you, whole foods and advance planning will help you to stay fit and healthy while you graze between meals.
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If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re probably old enough to remember the USDAfood pyramid. That colorful triangle divided into sections showed the recommended amounts for each food group, and guided generations of Americans through making healthier food choices.
Although it was eventually replaced by the new and improved MyPlate diagram, it can still teach you a lot about communications. Consider the pyramid when you’re trying to develop and share an important message.
Pyramid Lessons for Developing a Message
Use everyday examples. Any communication becomes more vivid and interesting if it’s tied to real life. Explain $10 to your child by telling them how much pizza it would buy.
Quantify your statements. While the figures sometimes changed over the years, the pyramid always gave a recommended number of servings for each food group. Numbers provide clarity and make any claims sound more convincing.
Divide items into categories.It’s easier to remember a long list of facts if they’re sorted into logical groups. Maybe your monthly department reports would look better if you added sub-headers to the format.
Draw pictures. Illustrations sometimes have greater impact than words. Make your correspondence livelier by including images that will grab people’s attention. Take your own photos or browse online for images in the public domain.
Simplify information. With complex subjects like nutrition, it’s easy to get lost in vast amounts of material. Pick out a few key points to focus on.
Offer additional details. Make it easy for people to learn more. Provide opportunities to ask questions and read further.
Try color coding. Streamline your presentation by conveying information through color choices. It can help you say more in fewer words.
Write lists. People joke about lists but they still read them. Turn some of your best content into Top 10 lineups.
Keep it brief. Package some content into short blurbs. Be ready with an elevator pitch and daily tips.
Pyramid Lessons for Sharing a Message
Encourage one change at time. Nutrition experts urged people to fill at least half their plate with vegetables and fruit before moving on to discussing other habits. Ask an employee to work on a single positive change rather than overwhelming them with multiple demands.
Create sub-messages. The pyramid was accompanied by different materials for everyone from preschoolers to health care professionals. Take your audience into account.
Consult experts. Physicians and farmers contributed to the food pyramid. When you’re coordinating your own projects, reach out for specialized knowledge and diverse views.
Recruit partners. Similarly, the government invited schools, community groups and other organizations to spread the word about making more nutritious food choices. Think about who you can work with to become more effective.
Expect good things to spread. You may be surprised to learn that even though the USDA food pyramid was the most famous of its kind, it was Sweden that came up with the concept. Promising ideas travel far.
Be open to improvements. As mentioned, the pyramid thrived for almost 20 years before getting upgraded into the new MyPlate. However successful a venture may be, something better may come along. Welcome changes that lead to even more outstanding communications.
Remember the food pyramid when you’re trying to persuade your boss about a new idea or encourage your kids to do their homework. It will come in handy when you have valuable information you want to share with others so they can apply it to their own lives.