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Food Policy Grocery Health Packaged Food Sweets

Mexico’s New Junk Food Labels Face Fierce Opposition From U.S., Other World Powers

In October 2020, Mexico is poised to take a monumental step forward to combat junk food and obesity issues the country faces. Already, black octagon labels are showing up on the front packaging of food products that warn of foods with excessive calories, sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fat.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

These labels are designed to meet requirements the Mexican government will enforce starting in October: requirements that, apparently, the US and other world powers oppose.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

According to Reuters, a meeting minutes document from the World Trade Organization shows the US, Canada, the European Union, and Switzerland trying to persuade Mexico to delay their labeling enforcement for anywhere from 1-2 years.

The United States, for example, expressed support to combat obesity, but thinks the regulations are “more trade restrictive than necessary to meet Mexico’s legitimate health objectives,” arguing that “Mexico has chosen more stringent nutrient thresholds than the thresholds set by other countries.”

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

All of the countries supported a delay, with reasoning behind it being the impact of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry. A Mexican government official told Reuters that they objected to delaying the rules.

Laws that combat obesity and reveal high-calorie and junk foods are gaining more traction globally. Chile was one of the first to introduce such laws in 2016, and saw a reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks by 23%. Some American cities, including Berkeley, have also implemented sugar taxes in recent years that showed similar results. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also found that regulations such as these are instrumental in reducing obesity globally.

The United States itself has food labeling regulations that require added sugars to be marked in the Nutrition Facts, but the Trump Administration’s FDA has indefinitely delayed enforcement of the labels.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Lobbyist groups from both the United States and Canada have also put pressure on Mexico for these laws in the past. Mexico first passed the legislation in October of 2019, giving the industry a year to make the labeling changes.

Initial rules in the now-ratified US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would have prevented any front-of-packaging labeling of the sort to be issued. While this did not make it into the final agreement following media attention to the rules, the finalized version still has a clause that “technical regulations concerning labels… do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.”

The United States is a known bully when it comes to food packaging labeling, having challenged multiple countries over their laws in the past, claiming them to be a threat to US trade and business interests. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA officials criticized multiple countries for such regulations in their most recent National Trade Estimate report.

Canada, who has its own front-of-packaging law, is already facing such challenges from US and Canadian lobbyist groups over its rules.

Photo: Erick Schmal // MexicanElite on Instagram

Combatting junk food through labeling has already proven to have a significant effect in reducing obesity. Mexico is taking a stronger approach than most countries, including local trading partners like the US, with its new regulations, leading to such political pressure.

We’ll have to see if any more challenges come to Mexico’s legislation as the October enforcement of the labeling draws nearer.

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News

The U.S. Could Soon Be Seeing A Meat Shortage, Here’s What To Expect

You might very well see fewer meat options the next time you’re at the grocery store, as America may soon be facing a meat shortage in the not-too-distant future while the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe. This also means you might experience elevated meat costs, or limited selections while dining out. Yes, it sucks, but it’s reality right now.

Bloomberg reports that with slaughterhouses across the country closing down over workers falling ill to COVID-19, meat may be scarce in grocery stores in the months to come.

John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, Inc, said in a statement that even if plants and facilities were to shut down for only a few months, that would equate to the loss of millions of pounds of meat. Animals such as chicken, pigs, and cattle will face depopulation resulting from the closure of processing facilities.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson says.

This shortage has already been affecting the fast food industry as KTLA reported 18 percent of Wendy’s stores across the United States have already stopped serving hamburgers due to meat closures. Due to this, the chain has shifted to highlighting their chicken sandwiches.

Folks, even with meat becoming scarce for a while, be sure to practice safe habits when shopping and never buy more than you need. Otherwise, this pandemic just continues on.

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Health

Costco Now REQUIRES You To Wear A Mask Before Entering Their Warehouse

As more and more people flock to Costco to stock up  during this period of self isolation, the national warehouse club has been having to update their policies pretty frequently to ensure the safety of all its members and guests. The latest in these policies is a new requirement that everyone looking to enter their warehouse will be required to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Effective May 4, the company announced that all Costco members and guests will have to wear a mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times while inside their warehouses.

The only exceptions will be children under the age of two or individuals who can’t wear a face covering because of an existing medical condition.

Costco also stresses that this policy is definitely not a substitute for social distancing (which should always be practiced throughout this pandemic). Looks like if you’re planning to go to Costco next week, you better have a mask ready. Otherwise you’ll be waiting in that long line for nothing.

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Fruits & Vegetables

Avoid Grocery Store Lines With This A La Carte Produce Box Shipped Straight To Your Door

While everyone’s trying their best these days to stay inside, the dilemma of getting fresh fruits and vegetables presents itself for those looking to steer away from eating cans of corned beef hash and beans every other day. Trust me, canned food gets old QUICK.

Melissa’s Produce, is offering a sliding scale of amazing produce boxes that you can order and have shipped anywhere in the United States (though Southern California residents get free shipping).

You can order boxes of mixed fruits and vegetables depending on which type of produce you lean heavier towards.

If you lean heavy towards making vegetable-based dishes, perhaps a 70/30 box is something you need. If your diet is a little bit of both down them middle, consider the 50/50 box. Options also include a fruits only or vegetables only box for those who’d rather have one or the other. There’s even a box crafted towards making fresh juices.

If you’re looking for your produce fix without stepping foot outside the comfort of your own home, definitely check them out.

Categories
Fast Food

Chick-fil-A Just Announced They’re Installing Hand Wash Stations At Every Drive-Thru Nationwide

With restaurants around the world taking extreme precautions to futhur prevent the spread of COVID-19, fast food chains such as Chick-fil-A have taken the necessary steps to keep their employees hands as clean as possible.

The chicken sandwich chain just announced that they’ll be installing hand wash stations at every Chick-fil-A drive-thru and mall location nationwide beginning on April 11, reports NRN.

Employees working outside in the drive-thru will be required to wash their hands every 30 minutes and every time they interact with cold hard cash, on top of their already mandated disinfecting routines, to give themselves and customers that extra layer of protection against the virus.

Image Courtesy of Chick-Fil-A

The company is also encouraging customers to swipe their own cards during transactions to minimize foreign contact between employees. Some employees are even said to be wearing non-surgical face coverings while working in the restaurant.

As someone who’s been extra nervous about picking up food from restaurants, this extra precaution brings me some much-needed relief.

Categories
Food Trends Health Plant-Based Products Science Technology

This New Protein Made from Thin Air Might Just Save the Planet

Photo: Solarfoods.fi for Solar Foods

In what is perhaps one of the most interesting and oddly inventive ideas ever introduced to the world of food, Finnish based Solar Foods has created a protein made from thin air. Founded in 2017, Solar Foods is a food-tech company that specializes in innovative food production on a global scale. Their new creation is called Solein® and is dubbed a revolutionary bio-tech solution that enables natural protein production using renewable air and electricity. Naturally, these simple ingredients are utilized by a rather unique yet complex method called bioprocess. Bioprocess uses complete living cells or their components (e.g. bacteria, enzymes, chloroplasts) to obtain desired products. What that means in layman’s terms is that Solein® has the potential to be a new alternative to plant-based and animal-based protein that doesn’t rely on terrestrial resources. 

This is significant because the food industry has a massive impact on worldwide carbon emissions. It’s reported that livestock contribute 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions. Anthropogenic means man-made. That’s the equivalent of 7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. To get a sense of the scale, here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post, written by reporter Chris Mooney:

“In the International System of Units, the prefix “giga” means 109, or one billion (1,000,000,000). Hence terms like “gigawatt” or “gigahertz.” Thus, a gigaton is equivalent to a billion metric tons.

A male African elephant might weigh, at most, 6.8 metric tons, according to the San Diego Zoo. So a gigaton is well over a hundred million African elephants. As for sea life, the blue whale can weigh as much as 146 metric tons, according to NOAA. So a gigaton is more than 6 million blue whales.”

“We’ve set out to change humankind’s approach to food,” Pasi Vainikka, Solar Foods CEO says. Suffice to say, it requires thinking outside of the box to truly combat this cubicle of impending crisis. Using renewable air and electricity, Solar Foods’ believes Solein® will help create a new era of food diversity. Time will determine the effectiveness of this new protein. If the fate of the world interests you, further information about Solein® can be found here.

Photo: Solarfoods.fi for Solar Foods
Categories
Brand Culture Health Products Toasty

How Cannabis Can Enhance Wellness and Mindfulness

Yoga has been in my life for as long as I can remember, but the relationship I’ve had with my practice has changed drastically over the last couple years. The biggest change was in my outlook. Yoga once was just a form of exercise for me, but has become an integral part of my self-care routine, and necessary for remaining sane among the craziness of life.

If one were to look at a timeline, they’d notice this change coincidentally occurred when I moved from DC to California, transitioning from a land with strict limitations surrounding cannabis to the new frontier in the industry – I said goodbye to the days of having to text an unreliable “dealer” to replenish my stash, and hello to the concept of a med card and plenty of dispensaries within a 2-mile vicinity.

I would be lying if I said the ease of acquiring cannabis didn’t impact the frequency with which I consumed it. Who’d blame me? But I found these moments becoming less about “indulging” and the East Coast guilt surrounding it (yeah, I’m making that a thing), and more about mental health and getting in tune with myself.

I initiated a little case study as I first started out in the land of legal cannabis. Some days I’d take a hit or two before my yoga class, and some days I’d go without. I noticed a stark difference between the two: on days I’d consume, I got far deeper into my practice, was more regulated with my breathing, and less inhibited to try poses, even if they were typically out of my comfort zone. I felt alive during my practice instead of counting down the minutes until my workout was over.

Experiencing yoga in this way, without the barriers of hyper awareness and self doubt, gave me such a different experience that it was worth noting – and repeating. And now that recreational cannabis is legalized in the state of California for adults, there are tons of product options to incorporate into your routine. One of the most interesting brands I’ve come across is Dosist, which I found at Blüm Dispensary.

 

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Dosist calls themselves “the first complete solution in cannabis,” and I agree that they’ve made a revolutionary product. The brand has created a vape of sorts that gives out consistent “doses” each time. To be specific, the user inhales for about 4-5 seconds and then will feel a vibration from the pen, noting the completion of a dose. They have six different pens, with each eliciting a different vibe or feeling: bliss, sleep, calm, relief, arouse, and passion.

Dosist uses varying ratios of THC to CBD, along with culinary grade terpenes to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) inside each of us to achieve the “mood” associated with each pen. For example, the “Calm” pen is a 1:10 THC to CBD ratio, and contains terpenes like limonene, known to relieve stress and anxiety, and myrcene, known for its muscle relaxing properties. The “Relief” pen is a 10:1 THC to CBD ratio, and contains terpenes like terpinolene, known for its relaxing properties, and beta-caryophyllene, which is said to lower inflammation and reduce pain.

These effects are just a couple examples of the benefits cannabis has had on my yoga practice. Let’s be real – yoga is deeply rooted in flow and movement and some positions seem like part of a contortionist act, so it’s important for the body to be in a malleable state to achieve certain postures. Relieving the body of stress or inflammation can loosen your muscles, allowing you to get deeper into poses with less discomfort.

The usage of terpenes is also beneficial to us when in food, not just with cannabis. At a recent wellness event with Dosist at ESO Live Well, a nutritionist-curated menu featured build-your-own avocado toast, fresh berries, and egg frittatas. Avocados contain the terpene myrcene, and raspberries contain the terpene limonene, two terpenes also found in the Dosist “Calm” pen. Consuming terpene-rich foods can nourish the body and accentuate your practice, too, especially when in tandem with their counterparts found in cannabis.

Products like Dosist that blend together the plant medicine of cannabis with terpene “therapy” take the guesswork out of self care, and empower users seeking to control their mood and outlook. When trying a new product, consistency is key to understanding its effects and properly managing your dosing for next time. Keep track of how you feel in a journal to decide what the perfect dose for you might be and most importantly, have fun while doing it!

 

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Created in partnership with Blüm

  • This content was created in partnership with Blüm.
  • These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
  • The statements in this article are for informational and educational purposes only. This does not constitute an advertisement or offer to sell any marijuana or other cannabis-derived products. It is intended for persons over the age of 21.
  • Although Marijuana is recreationally legal in California and Nevada, you must be at least 21 years of age to buy, possess or consume cannabis products of any kind. It is illegal to sell or advertise cannabis-derived products to anyone under the age of 21 or in locations where persons under 21 are expected to be found.
  • Do not over consume any drug or controlled substance, even if it is legal to do so. Always use good judgment when consuming marijuana, and do so responsibly.
  • Marijuana can impair your judgment and the ability to operate kitchen appliances and engage in sports or other physical activities.
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Hit-Or-Miss News Tastemade/Snapchat

10 Sneaky Foods That Aren’t as Healthy as You Think

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or exclusively follow foodporn accounts on Instagram, you may have noticed the #fitspo lifestyle has completely taken over. 

From Fit Tea brand ambassadors to self-identified wellness models, ~healthy living~ has become a fad that’s showing no sign of slowing down.

And while you may think you’re ready to hop on this bandwagon, I’m here to warn you that many of your favorite “healthy” foods aren’t as healthy as you think.

So before you commit to a life of early morning workouts and sponsored micro-influencer posts, here are 10 foods you *think* are healthy, but are actually just as deceiving as the puppy Snapchat filter.

Dried Fruit

Photo: zeevveez on flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Dried fruit may be a more nutritional snack option than say a luscious piece of chocolate cake or microwaved nachos, but sadly that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Dried fruit contains large amounts of added sugar that makes it, nutrition wise, much more similar to candy than actual fruit.  

Dried fruit may be a more nutritional snack option than say a luscious piece of chocolate cake or microwaved nachos, but sadly that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Dried fruit contains large amounts of added sugar that makes it, nutrition wise, much more similar to candy than actual fruit.  

Veggie Chips

Photo: George Kelly on flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Though it seems like this should be illegal, just because something contains a variation of the word “vegetable” in its name doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Veggie chips are fried like normal potato chips and are high in sodium and fat. *Insert facepalm here*

Peanut Butter

Photo: Mike Mozart on flickr, CC BY 2.0

If you’ve ever fit the archetype of “broke college student” you’ve likely had many a meals that consisted of just a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. You may have considered this a healthy detour from your usual diet of pizza and microwaved mac & cheese, but truth is, that’s not quite the case. Peanut butter along with other nut butters have sugar added in the form of high fructose corn syrup making the “healthy” snack option really not.

Canned Soup

Photo: crayolarabbit on flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Consider this good news: You no longer need to eat a sad bowl of canned soup in the name of health. Turns out that cheap, canned grocery store soup is loaded with high amounts of sodium that is not only unhealthy, but can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic. If you genuinely enjoy eating soup, opt for homemade, it’s generally quite simple to prepare.

Trail Mix

Photo: Foodbeast

If you’re like the majority of society, when you eat trail mix you meticulously pick out the M&M’s and little mini chocolate peanut butter cups leaving the raisins, nuts and other ~less than~ ingredients aside. Not too surprisingly, this results in a sugary treat that lacks substantial nutritional value. For a healthier alternative, look for trail mixes made up of unsalted nuts, a little fruit and even perhaps a bit of dark chocolate.

Instant Oatmeal

Photo: Mike Mozart on flickr, CC BY 2.0

Extremely high in both carbohydrates and sugar, instant oatmeal may be quick and easy to make, but sure isn’t healthy. Try making your own if you’re craving the ooey gooey breakfast staple for a more nutritious option. Or ya know, just yolo eat a bacon, egg & cheese.

Flavored Yogurt

Photo: Rebecca Siegel on flickr, CC BY 2.0

If you dismally eat yogurt while your coworkers enjoy morning treats like bagels or breakfast burritos in the name of nutrition, put the plastic spoon down now. Flavored yogurts are are made sweet with loads of added sugar and are thus not as great for you as you might suspect. Unfortunately, plain yogurt is a much healthier choice, but feel free to throw some fresh fruit on top for a little bit of natural flavor.

Granola

Photo: rusvaplauke on flcikr, CC BY 2.0

Though granola often appears on the “lighter fare” section of brunch menus, it’s really not that much better for you than some of the more inherently tubby options. A serving size of granola is a lot smaller than you probably think, so filling an entire cereal bowl with the sweet breakfast treat isn’t doing your beach bod any favors. It contains a significant amount of sugar so it’s better enjoyed when lightly sprinkled on top of yogurt or fruit than consumed in mass by itself. 

Bran Muffins

Photo: judam6 on flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The sad but very real truth about any type of muffin is that they’re essentially cupcakes without frosting. Sure, some are slightly better than others, but even muffins’ most healthy iteration isn’t all that healthy. Yes, even bran muffins, despite their nutritional sounding name, are still filled with high amounts of sugar and fat. They also often contain more wheat flour than actual bran when purchased at a bakery or coffee shop.

Veggie Burgers 

Photo: Kathryn Wright on flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Though not all veggie burgers are created equal, some are pretty darn bad for you. Too often, store bought veggie burgers contain high amounts of sodium and not as many vegetables as you might think.  Most are made with rice, beans and are held together by a variety of oils and veggie proteins.