Categories
Packaged Food Sweets

TIL There’s A Healthy Alternative to Skittles

Not too long ago, Project 7 unveiled a line of gummies that were each inspired by a classic alcoholic cocktails. What set the snack brand apart was their dedication to keeping products all-natural. Well, those of you with a sweet tooth for candies such as Skittles now have a healthier option to choose from.

Project 7‘s new Gourmet Chewies are an all-natural answer to Skittles, for those looking to cut back on sugar and preservatives.

Like Skittles, they boast a crunchy exterior and a chewy interior. However, the candy chews are organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free of artificial colors, free of preservatives, and free of artificial flavors. Each 2-oz package contains about 34 grams of sugar, compared to Skittles’ 46 grams of sugar per 2.17 oz bag.

Flavors include Front Porch Lemonade, Fairytale Fruit, Coconut Lime, Birthday Cake, and Rainbow Ice.

As someone who subconsciously pampers his sweet tooth, especially on candies, these Gourmet Chewies are definitely something I’d want in front of me.

You can find Project 7 Gourmet Chewies at their online store, in 2-oz and 4-oz packages. Each bag contains about 60 candies.

Categories
Sweets

This Little Ice Cream Shop Offers The Most Whimsical Cones In Southern California

One of the best things about working at Foodbeast is keeping an eye on ice cream trends. Whether it be the Afters Ice Cream ‘Milky Bun,’ or the unique texture from charcoal cones, there are always interesting concepts that catch on in the ice cream game.

This will probably be the next trend.

Bumsan Milk Bar in Los Angeles is a little ice cream shop that prides itself on serving organic ice cream, and their new cereal-rimmed cones are creating a buzz in the ice cream world, incorporating some of our childhood favorites, such as Froot Loops, Oreo O’s, and even Cap’n Crunch.

Photo by Evan Lancaster

We went down to Koreatown to check out these bad boys, and were not disappointed.

The cereal is mixed with a gooey marshmallow sauce that sticks to the rim of their cones. After that, you can choose from some pretty unique ice cream flavors, such as dragonfruit lychee, taro milk tea, and even a true milk & matcha swirl.

The ice cream cones are $5.95, with an additional $1.95 for the cereal inclusion. You get a pretty healthy serving of ice cream on it, too.

Photo by Isai Rocha

It’s a modest little mom and pop with the option to add pizzazz to your cones, but at its core, the ice cream is the star, and will probably be the key to their future success in a city littered with trendy ice cream shops.

If you want to experience a flashback to your childhood breakfast, mixed with an appreciation for boba shop flavors, you’re going to want to try this place out.

Categories
News Science Technology

USDA Advisory Board Blocks Ban Against Using Hydroponics In Organic Farming

Hydroponics is one of the fastest-growing fields in agriculture today. By growing plants in water and “feeding” them solutions of nutrients they need, crops can grow at higher yields over a faster period of time while drastically reducing water consumption and land space. While it’s an amazing tool for the future of food, one question has been in the minds of several industry members: Can food grown via hydroponics be classified as USDA Organic?

hydroponics in organic farming

In a recent 8-7 ruling, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) ruled against a ban on hydroponics in organic farming. In doing so, the board, which makes recommendations to the USDA on rules for the organic industry, clears the way for organic, hydroponically grown produce to proliferate in supermarkets. The USDA does still have to receive an official recommendation and choose to act on it or not, however.

If they do so, it could be huge for hydroponics, but would harm organic soil farmers. Hydroponics, with its faster growth rate and decreased water and land use, is already taking a significant market share away from the soil farmers. Nowadays, most organic tomatoes are grown through hydroponics and similar methods, and organic farmer Dave Chapman voiced fears to NPR that even more space in supermarkets will be given to hydroponically-grown produce.

“What will happen, very quickly, is that virtually all of the certified organic tomatoes in supermarkets will be hydroponic. Virtually all of the peppers and cucumbers [will be hydroponically grown]. A great deal of the lettuce. And most of the berries.”

On the other hand, the innovative technology can be used to keep up with growing organic demand. It also is more sustainable than traditional farming since it doesn’t utilize as many natural resources, making it the ideal choice for environmentalists and scientists focused on preserving the planet.

At the center of the debate, though, is the true definition of what it means to be “organic.” Hydroponic farms claim that they are organic because they don’t use synthetic pesticides and can grow year-round at a cheaper price. Traditional farmers, however, argue that the true core of organic farming is nurturing and taking care of the soil itself, something that hydroponics doesn’t even involve.

When it comes to what it really means to be “organic,” for now, it seems that the NOSB is willing to include hydroponics within that definition based on their recent decision.

Categories
Drinks Health News Products

Walmart and Costco’s Organic Milk May Not Actually Be Organic, Here’s Why

If you’ve bought organic milk from Costco or Walmart’s house brands (ie. Kirkland Signature), it may not actually be organic milk.

The company that supplies these and other major retail brands, Aurora Organic Dairy, was the subject of a recent investigation by the Washington Post that revealed the milk and cattle handling practices of the giant dairy company were not adequate for federal standards of organic dairy.

The Post found an egregious number of errors in the raising of Aurora’s cattle for milk, including extremely sparse grazing periods and testing by Virginia Tech scientists that revealed the absence of key components found in milk from cattle on a grass-fed diet. These compounds include conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) and alpha-linolenic acid, both of which have been linked to optimal health and long-term weight management.

Since organic milk must come from cattle grazed at least during grazing season, you would expect an organic milk to be relatively high in these compounds. Aurora’s milk, when tested, had levels of both very similar to conventional milk, indicating a lack of organic practices at the firm.

This isn’t the first time Aurora has been found to be potentially violating rules. The Post reports that Aurora was found to have “willfully violated” organic standards by the USDA ten years ago, but the matter was settled out of court and the company was allowed to continue to operate.

Seems like Aurora just went back to business as usual by continuing to deceive its customers. Considering that organic milk can be almost double the price of conventional milk, that’s a huge scam the dairy firm is pulling off if the Post’s investigation is confirmed by outside sources.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss News Packaged Food

A Dead Bat Was Found Inside A Salad Bag At Walmart And Now We’re Done With Salads

We thought last year’s giant spider was the most terrifying thing you could find in a bag of pre-packaged salad. Turns out we were wrong.

Two customers discovered what is believed to be the decomposing corpse of a bat inside a bag of salad they purchased from a Florida Walmart.

According to the Guardian, the discovery has prompted a regional recall as well as an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the decayed mammal was sent to a CDC lab to see if it contained rabies, the state the corpse was in prevented conclusive results. Luckily, both the consumers showed no signs of rabies after receiving treatment.

The brand in question was identified as Organic Marketside Spring Mix. Fresh Express, the company that produces this brand of salad mix, issued a public recall to their item.

Details of the product are shown here:

Walmart has since removed all of the bags from their grocery aisle shelves. Though, bat or no bat, the CDC recommends anyone who ate from the bag of recalled salad should contact their health department just to be safe.

If you happened to purchase this item, you may want to throw it out immediately.

Categories
Fast Food What's New

Starbucks Announces They Will Start Selling Organic Soup

starbucks-organic-soup-cover

Today’s a pretty big day for Starbucks. The coffee chain just announced a partnership with Pokemon GO to create a line of Pokemon-inspired Frappuccinos as well as converted all United States locations to PokeStops.

At the their 2016 investor conference, Starbucks annouced that the coffee chain will also start selling organic soups sometime in the next year. The new food item will be an expansion of Starbucks’ Bistro Box selections.

According to Brand Eating, chicken and tomato soup will be two of the featured flavors. The chicken soup, pictured above, features both greens and quinoa to accompany the shredded poultry.

We still don’t know exactly which Starbucks locations will offer them, but expect to see them in select stores sometime by Spring 2017.

Photo: Starbucks

Categories
Culture Health Hit-Or-Miss

Here’s What Those Labels on Your Food Products Really Mean

The food industry absolutely loves to throw a ton of healthy buzzwords onto food labels. Most food products these days bombard consumers with a variety of words like “clean label,” “non-GMO,” “gluten-free,” “organic,” and several more that consumers want to see on food labels.

These all sound great to consumers, because to consumers, all of these words make the foods that carry them sound healthy. However, a lot of people don’t know what all of these words mean, as has been proven by Jimmy Kimmel on numerous occassions.

As a food scientist, it’s my job to know what these words mean so I know if companies I work for meet the label requirements. My aim is to use what I’ve learned to clarify to consumers, so that the next time you go grocery shopping, you have an idea of what actually goes into the meanings for all of these words.

 

Organic

usda-organic-food-label

Photo: The Plate

Organic is definitely one of the most complex labels out there. Food products that have varying percentages of organic ingredients are allowed to have different labels or say different things on their product packages, such as “Made with Organic Ingredients” or “100% Organic.” While consumers think that organic is great, a lot of people don’t understand what it means for something to be certified organic.

Organic labeling itself began in 1993, and was presented under a strict set of requirements. Organically grown food had to be free of specific chemicals that were established by the law (and the list continues to be modified even today), and the land it was grown on had to be free of these same chemicals for at least three years prior to growth. A whole host of other agricultural and farming practices are required for organic certification to be reached.

One of the biggest things to understand about organic that most people don’t, however, is that all organic products are also non-GMO by legal definition. So, if you purchase organic products, you don’t have to worry if GMOs exist in those products too, since they legally can’t be in there.

 

Non-GMO

non-gmo-logo

Photo: Food Scape Finds

While the federal government is just starting to get on board with non-GMO labeling, independent programs like the non-GMO project are sweeping across the nation. Having one of these verifications of non-GMO is just as important to consumers as the US requiring labeling of products containing GMOs will be.

While the US requirements are pretty simple to understand, the requirements for some of the independent verifiers are a little more tricky. The Non-GMO Project’s standards are broad, covering everything from traceability to the feed that livestock consume. It’s a big reason as to why their label is so coveted by a lot of food producers – as is the claim of non-GMO.

To be non-GMO requires the absence of any genetically engineered food ingredients or organisms in the production or growth of any product (Genetically modified is too loose of a word, since all living things’ genes are naturally modified over time). While there is no change in the actual nutritional content or toxicological risk of the food between GMO and non-GMO, ethics becomes the big question when choosing non-GMO products over GMO. There are good usages of GMOs, like in the reduction of food waste or scaling natural ingredients that couldn’t be grown in large amounts on their own. There are also bad uses, like we all saw with Monsanto in Food, Inc. Having the traceability to understand exactly what GMOs are in your product is key to understanding those ethics, though that could be a whole week of articles on its own.

 

Gluten-Free

mj-618_348_the-lowdown-on-food-labels-certified-gluten-free

Photo: Men’s Journal

Gluten-Free is pretty straightforward: No gluten can be found in the product (Technically, less than 20 ppm is okay). Any food not containing wheat, rye, barley, or any of their hybrids can also be labeled as gluten free.

For those unclear on what gluten is, it’s a protein network developed inside of wheat, rye, and barley when mixed with water. Two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, contribute to the development of gluten and give bread its stretchiness a – while being painful for those with Celiac disease.

 

Whole Grain

whole-grain-labeling_trix

Photo: Don’t Panic Mom

Various label claims for whole grain like the amount in a food or “100% whole grain” are permitted by the FDA. They’ve also required that for whole grain to be on the label, the entire grain (or matching compositions of a whole grain) must be in the product.

These whole grains include cereal grains like amaranth, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, millet, wheat, and corn.

 

No Added Sugars

tesco-no-added-sugar-stevia-milk-chocolate

Photo: Kev’s Snack Reviews

This is a trickier definition that was just defined recently by the FDA. With the new nutrition labels coming out requiring added sugars to be labeled, the FDA had to explain what added sugars are. In their words, added sugars are those added in during processing that are in excess of what could be found in natural ingredients added (ie. fruit juices).

No Added Sugars does NOT mean sugar-free, however. Sugars can still exist if it’s naturally in an added food ingredient (ie. fruit juice or milk), or comes from the breakdown of starches in food (by heat, fermentation, or grain sprouting). Keep that in mind as you shop for products and look at food labels.

 

All-Natural

all-natural-ingredients

Photo: One Green Planet

All-natural used to be one of the most popular claims on food labels, but has a taken a hit recently. That’s because people now understand that there is no real definition of natural from the FDA as of right now, and all-natural basically means all of the ingredients come from nature. While that includes things like strawberries and wheat, it also includes not-so-appealing natural ingredients like carmine (crushed bug extract used as a food coloring) or castoreum (a natural vanilla flavor derived from beaver secretions).

The good news is that the FDA is currently attempting to define “natural,” so hopefully it can be used meaningfully on food labels again in the near future.

 

Clean Label

cleanlabel

Photo: Ingredients Network

Much like “all-natural” above, there is no official legal definition for “clean label” food products, either. The FDA hasn’t begun to consider that definition yet, but it is a topic of hot debate. Nobody is quite clear on what the definition is, but some key ideals have surfaced. These include using simple, real ingredients, as well as the removal of a large number of additives – often nicknamed as the “No-No” List.

 

Several other healthy buzzwords are out there that you can find, but these are some of the more key – or controversial – buzzwords found on several food products. Hopefully, the explanations provided on what these mean gives you a better understanding of what they mean – and makes you look harder the next time you go shopping.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

The Term ‘Natural’ On Food Products Is Bulls*it [WATCH]

We seem to be very trusting of what we see on our food labels, after all, our food here in the US is regulated by numerous departments such as FDA, USDA and the FSIS.

There are still clever ways that marketers dupe us with fancy words, and one of those key words that gets abused on food products is “natural,” according to VOX.

What in the blue hell does natural mean? Well, for meat and poultry, it means that you can’t start adding things to the meat after it’s been killed.

In the packaged food world, though, there isn’t even a real definition for what’s considered to be natural, and the USDA sure as hell doesn’t regulate the use of that word. So companies use the word, freely, knowing that you probably think it means something, like, “organic,’ or “healthy.”

It doesn’t mean anything, other than we’re 100 percent natural suckers for falling for it.