Category Archives: Investigations

The Dirty Dozen PLUS

This article was originally published on Healthy Child Healthy World.

by Anh Nguyen, Communications & Programs Coordinator, Healthy Child Healthy World

No one will contest that a healthy diet must be rich in fruits and vegetables, but have you thought about the toxic pesticides you could be consuming with your fresh produce? According to a recent survey by the Environmental Working Group, 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues. So which crops are safe to eat, and which are best bought organic?

For the eighth year in a row, the Environmental Working Group has released their list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market as part of their 2012 Shoppers Guide. This year, they have expanded their Dirty Dozen list to 14, calling it the Dirty Dozen Plus. The two new crops, green beans and leafy greens (i.e. kale and collard greens) were found to be commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.

Apples were dubbed the most contaminated produce because 98% of have detectable levels of pesticides. Other significant findings include:

  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
  • Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.

The EWG does stress that “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” So if you cannot afford to buy organic all the time, just be extra conscious about carefully washing any produce on the Dirty Dozen Plus, or buy more of those that made it to their Clean Fifteen list.

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Photo Credit – Gretchen Tseng

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Filed under Education, Farming, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian

FOOD POISONING – Top 10 Sources

On April 28, 2011 the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute released information regarding the top 10 sources of food borne illnesses.  The hope is that those in charge of protecting us from such food borne illnesses will use the information to help prevent outbreaks.  Unfortunately to date their efforts have not been coordinated and thus are not as effective as they could be.

According to Michael Batz, who is the main author of the report, “Government agencies must work together to effectively target their efforts. If we don’t identify which pairs of foods and microbes present the greatest burden, we’ll waste time and resources and put even more people at risk.”

Currently the top 10 food pathogen combinations are responsible for economic losses of 8 billions dollars annually from lost work days, medical costs, and severe disabilities caused by illness.

Here are some of the highlights pulled directly from the report:

  • POULTRY contaminated with Camplylobacter bacteria topped the list, sickening more than 600,000 Americans at a cost of $1.3 billion per year.
  • Salmonella in POULTRY also ranks in the Top 10, with $700 million due to costs of illness.
  • Salmonella is the leading disease-causing bug overall, causing more than $3 billion in disease burden annually.
  • In addition to POULTRY, Salmonella-contaminated PRODUCEEGGS and multi-ingredient foods all rank in the Top 10.
  • Four combinations in the Top 10 – Listeria in deli MEATS and soft CHEESES, and Toxoplasma in PORK and BEEF – pose serious risks to pregnant women and developing fetuses, causing stillbirth or infants born with irreversible mental and physical disabilities.

While a vegan diet is not immune to food poisoning, I found it interesting that 8 out of the 9 foods mentioned were animal based foods with poultry mentioned 3 times…4 if you count eggs.  We can drastically reduce our exposure to these food borne illnesses by simply eliminating our consumption of animal based foods.

To read the results of the study directly from the University of Florida, click here. 

Salmonella image courtesy of ifood.tv

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Filed under Education, Food Borne Illness, General Vegan, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian

GRANDE STRAWBERRIES and CREME FRAPPUCCINO or 87 MEDIUM STRAWBERRIES

On occasion I will saunter into Starbucks for a Grande Decaf Soy Latte because they taste so darn good.  The last time my hubby and I had a date night we stopped in for a coffee between dinner and a movie.  I noticed their pamphlet, “Nutrition by the Cup” and grabbed it on my way out.  We arrived at the movie a bit early, so I pulled out the pamphlet and took a look.  My drink wasn’t awful weighing in at 170 calories, 4.5 grams fat, and 17 sugars (a bit high), but is definitely categorized as a treat.

I instinctively knew that a lot of their blended drinks were akin to milkshakes, however I was still SHOCKED by how much sugar they contain.  A Venti Green Tea Frappuccino Blended Crème (WITHOUT WHIPPED CREAM…and how many people do you see walking out of Starbucks WITHOUT the whipped cream???) weighs in at 440 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 86 grams of sugar!!!  Say what?!??!?!?!?

This pamphlet provided for great conversation with my husband.  We zeroed in on the Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème.  In his infinite wisdom my husband suggested I compare the nutrition of real strawberries with the Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème drinks.  How many strawberries would it take to meet the sugar equivalent of a Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème

GRANDE STRAWBERRIES & CREME FRAPPUCCINO BLENDED CRÈME

Calories Fat (g) Sugars (g) Fiber (g)
250 2 52 1

NUTRITION INFORMATION FOR 1 MEDIUM (1 ¼” across) STRAWBERRY

Calories Fat (g) Sugars (g) Fiber (g)
4 <0.1 0.6 O.2

Based on this information, for the same sugars amount of sugar in the Starbucks drink I can eat 87 strawberries!!!  If I were to eat those 87 strawberries I would have given my body countless phytonutrients and over 17 grams of fiber.  Yes, I would have eaten 348 strawberry calories vs. the 250 Frappuccino calories, but studies have also shown that your body burns up to 50% more calories when eating WHOLE versus processed foods due to the extra workload created when breaking them down.  If this is true, the net calories you are truly consuming are 174…76 calories LESS than the Frappuccino.  I personally would much rather consume real strawberries or make my own blended Frappuccino at home with vegan vanilla protein powder and real strawberries.  Yikes!

image of Starbucks courtesy of simonleong.com

image of Strawberry Frappuccino courtesy of sugarscape.com

image of strawberry sign courtesy of artcanyon.com

Nutritional information for strawberries from Calorie King.

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Filed under Education, Investigations, Junk Food, Product Reviews, Specific Food, Sugar, Vegan, Vegetarian

MEAT – WITH A SIDE OF STAPH

 

 

Posted by Made Just Right on Apr 26, 2011

Almost half of the meat and poultry in U.S. grocery stores – 47 percent –  is contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria, according to a new study from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).  

The study also found that 52 percent of those bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.

“For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial,” said Lance B. Price, the study’s senior author and head of TGen’s Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health.

Staph is a dangerous bacteria linked to skin infections, pneumonia, sepsis, endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), blood poisoning and sometimes fatal infections. It is killed when the meat is properly cooked but the fact that it is present on so much meat and poultry raises concerns about handling and cross-contamination. The USDA surveys meat for four types of drug resistant bacteria but Staph is not one of them.

The research involved 136 samples out of 80 brands of beef, turkey pork and chicken, collected from 26 grocery stores in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Flagstaff.

“The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today,” Dr. Price said.

In industrial and factory farm situations, animals are routinely fed antibiotics to combat the rampant spread of disease caused by overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. When animals are slaughtered for consumption, they still contain residues of antibiotics that humans become exposed to when they eat animal products. This has contributed to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, Staph being one of them.

“Skipping meat is perhaps the best way to reduce your risk of exposure to these bugs,” said Mindy Pennbacker in the Huffington Post.

Even if you are 100 percent vegan, there’s a still a chance you can come into contact with dangerous bacteria, so take care to wash everything – counter surfaces, utensils, cutting boards, produce – with hot water and soap and buy organic whenever possible.

Are you concerned about bacteria, pesticides and other harmful chemicals in your food? How do you avoid ingesting harmful substances or keep your food safe?

Photo Courtesy of Wonderlane on Flickr

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Filed under Education, General Vegan, Investigations, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

VegNews CONTROVERSY

I had plans to post a recipe from a Guest Blogger today, but sometimes the news must take precident.  Our Guest Blog from Allyson of Manifest Vegan will now run on Monday…it’s a good one.

Many of you may or may not be aware of the photo controversy concerning VegNews Magazine.  When I first heard about it I was shocked and saddened (Read the article below from Quarry Girl for further information on the issue).

VegNews has issued a response to quarrygirl.com’s investigation.  To read VegNews’s response to the controversy click here.  It is always important to hear both sides of the story.

While I understand why people are upset, I will remain a reader of VegNews.  I understand the financial constraints that they are working under and I see how hard they have worked to help further veganism, for which I am very appreciative.  I truly think that their hearts are in the right place and I believe their justification for using stock photos on occasion.  According to VegNews. it is their future goal to use exclusively vegan photos as soon as it is financially feasible. 

I want to thank quarrygirl.com for bringing this issue to light.

Please read the article below by quarrygirl.com as well as the response from VegNews (click here) and then share your views in the comment section of my post.  I’d love to know what you think.

~Gretchen

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RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Investigation and Article by quarrygirl.com (To learn more about quarrygirl.com click here)

April 13th, 2011

Do you like looking at pictures of meat? How about a juicy beef burger, covered in egg mayonnaise with cow fat dripping off? Perhaps some soft, meaty chunks of chicken breast in chicken stock and cream? What about a pork sausage, oozing in pig fat, fresh from the slaughterhouse? OK, let’s tone it down a little. Perhaps you like to look at egg mayonnaise potato salad, made with eggs from those poor battery hens that are dead basically from the moment they are born. How about creamy mac and cheese made with real cow’s milk, pulled painfully from their sore and tender udders, infused with antibiotics, pain and anguish?

If so, you can find all this in the nation’s premier print and online vegan magazine, VegNews. Surprised? Shocked? Read on…

 vegribs RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

real meat ribs have bones removed with photoshop to appear vegan

We’ve always been fans of VegNews, since back in the mid-2000s when we’d wait with bated breath for the US Mail to deliver our copy. We’d eagerly flip through, reading all about the latest veg stuff, salivating over the amazing pictures, trying out a vegan recipe, and maybe even discovering a restaurant in our home town through one of their reviews.

it’s sad, then, that the pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT! Veg News has written tens (possibly hundreds) of articles extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle, while purchasing rock-bottom priced stock photos of MEAT, EGGS, DAIRY and other completely non-vegan things. You doubt this? See below:

 vegnews realribs RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

stock photo of real meat ribs. a doctored photo of this appears on veg news.

We started searching for more examples of Veg News using meat photos next to “drool-worthy vegan recipes,” and the results were disturbing…

The vegan burger?

 vegnews burger RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Not vegan at all!

 veg RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

a real meat burger on a stock photo site, as seen on vegnews.com

The soul satisfying seitan stew?

 vegnews seitan RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Veg News “seitan stew”

It’s actually a picture of “chicken breast soup”!

 vegnews chicken 570x379 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Get your barf bags ready!

Oh, and it’s not just the website! We spot checked some photos from the magazine, and every single one was made from real animal products…

 vegnews mac RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Real mac and cheese

 vegnews dog 570x404 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

According to istock, this hotdog is real meat! Flipping the photo doesn’t fool us!

 vegnews potatosalad 570x488 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

“Veganize it!” (very apt)

So, we’ve established that there are many, many pictures of MEAT in both the VegNews print magazine, and online. Why does this matter? After all, a picture is just a picture, right? Unfortunately, this situation exposes a clear issue with the editorial integrity of Veg News. They are KNOWINGLY publishing misleading pictures of MEAT dishes, and passing them off as vegan. If they will stoop that low (and appear to have been doing so for years) what else can we not trust about this formerly erstwhile publication?

Let’s look at the events of today that we think implicate a much deeper editorial issue, and in our opinion discredit not only everything Veg News is doing, but everything they have done. Here’s how it went down:

One of our readers emailed to say that he had noticed a photograph on the home page of VegNews.com that was from istockphoto.com, an inexpensive royalty-free photography vendor. He recognized the photo as being a real MEAT beef burger and immediately, emailed them and left a comment on the post saying that the burger was meat rather than vegan, expecting to be thanked for doing them a favor.

Minutes later, his comment mysteriously disappeared. So he left another, which was also deleted. He emailed again, and got this response:

“Thank you for your interest in VegNews. However, your inappropriate and mean-spirited commenting has violated the policy of VegNews, and we have and will continue to remove any future comments. Please know that we welcome constructive criticism from all viewpoints, and rarely unpublish comments from readers.

Should you have any constructive feedback, feel free to email me directly. I’d love to hear from you.”

We investigated the “policy” from a link on the home page, and were directed here. We didn’t see any reference to comments that called out meat pictures, so we left a very nice comment: “just want to let you know that this burger is not vegan. It’s a stock photo of a real beef burger” on the same post. Twenty minutes later, this comment was also deleted.

Our conclusion, therefore, is that VegNews has serious editorial integrity issues, and cannot be trusted. Indeed, we’re mailing back our award tomorrow. This is a very sad day.

Finally, how does this harm animals? Well, not directly – I mean, cows, pigs, chickens and who knows what else were clearly killed as part of the chain of events that led to the photo, but the laziness and outright lack of respect from Veg News toward animals and vegans undermines everything we stand for.

Animal suffering is prolonged and made worse enough by hypocritical meat eaters who never want to see inside the slaughterhouse just as it is by people in our community who deceive and lie. The devil within is much worse than the devil outside.

** UPDATE: Many of you are asking us how you can cancel your Veg News subscription. If you’re sure you want to do this, the “policies” page above gives the following information. Feel free to cancel, as we did.

….if you are dissatisfied with VegNews for any reason, you are welcome to a subscription refund at any time. Simply call us at 760-291-1546, or send us an email at vegnews@pcspublink.com.

Images courtesy of quarrygirl.com

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Filed under Education, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian