Now That’s What I Call Free-Range…

A few weeks ago I spent the day at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a non-profit farm and education center located just 25 miles north of Manhattan.  It was their annual Harvest Day Festival and the grounds were covered with local food and drink purveyors, hayrides, a farmer’s market, live music, cooking demonstrations, and greenhouse tours.  I tasted the best arugula I’ve ever had, watched piglets sleeping, and dare I say played with chickens that were actually running around.  I must not get to  the country enough because I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw hundreds of farm animals in wide-open spaces, free to roam, play, eat and drink.  They were the very definition of free-range and cage-free.  Which got me thinking about all the labels we see on meat, especially those on chicken.  The options can make anyone’s head spin.  What’s better, organic, cage-free, free-range or certified-humane?

Here’s a breakdown of what those labels really mean…

Antibiotic-Free: The term “antibiotic-free” can only be used on poultry labels when the producer demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics has provided sufficient documentation. Continue reading

Guest Blog: The Natural Gourmet Institute

Check out the article I wrote on Food, Mood and Brain Function as a guest blogger for the Natural Gourmet Institute

Here’s an excerpt:

“Grapes Versus Twinkies” – that was the name of my 7th grade science fair project.  My hypothesis: students who ate a healthy, balanced breakfast would have a higher grade point average than those who did not.  It wasn’t overly scientific in its research methods, and the internet didn’t exist then.  I simply put together a one-week survey asking students to record what they ate for breakfast each day, their grades for that week, and their overall G.P.A.

My highly correlated results, full of confounding variables, did in fact corroborate a direct link between students who ate a healthy breakfast and higher grades as compared to the poorer grades of students who ate chocolate doughnuts, or didn’t eat breakfast at all.  I won an award and went on to the state science fair competition for this project.  There my “study” didn’t have a chance against the erupting volcanoes, ant farms and plant-filled terrariums

It didn’t matter to me because in my thirteen-year-old brain I knew all I needed to know: food affects not just the body but the mind as well.  That was just over 20 years ago, and I am still fascinated by the notion that certain foods can make us feel either energized or exhausted and have a measurable effect on the chemicals in our brain to make us feel that way…..

To read the article in its entirety click here.


Pomegranate Hoax?

When something sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it generally is.  At least that seems the case for POM Wonderful this week.  The ubiquitous curvy bottled pomegranate juice drink, which claims potential prevention and treatment of heart disease, reduction in the risk of prostate cancer and overcoming erectile dysfunction, is under fire by the Federal Trade CommissionThe FTC believes POM’s evidence doesn’t support their remarkable health claims. On Monday, they charged POM Wonderful and the company’s owners (philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick) with making misleading and unsubstantiated declarations about the abilities of their pomegranate solution.

The company alleges to have spent $34 million on pomegranate research, including 19 clinical trials and multiple studies published in peer-reviewed journals.  While the commission does not dispute that the company’s medical studies exist, they believe the advertising claims overstate the results and ignore Continue reading