Industrial breeding has created chickens that grow up to three times faster than they did just 60 years ago. These crazy growth rates have very real consequences for the chickens AND the people who eat them. The ASPCA wants to tell you all about it and then convince the chicken industry that it needs to change. Check out their movement here.
Our own sustainable ratings program was recently featured in a Supermarket News article! As we roll out in an increasing number of grocery stores across the nation, we’re pleased to see this response from one of the industry’s primary publications. You can check out the article to learn more about the program and the benefits for the stores that use it.
For other press inquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One correction: The article implies that we have a formal partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council. While we do communicate with them and respect the work they do, the Council is not one of our formal partners at this time.
On Tuesday, November 5th, Bill de Blasio won the mayoral race in New York City. He beat out his opponent Joe Lhota to become the first democratic mayor for the city in twenty years. Mr. de Blasio is well known for his solidly liberal leanings: the ending of stop-and-frisk, more affordable public housing, higher taxes for universal pre-kindergarten. He appealed to voters of all racial, religious, ethnic and socio-economic background; indeed his inter-racial family and cozy life in Brooklyn made him a relatable candidate across New York.
de Blasio and family celebrate his win (Photo: AP photo/Kathy Willens)
Here at HowGood, we’re wondering how Mr. de Blasio’s election will impact the food system. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, was an advocate for healthier, sustainable eating- we all remember the soda ban. While Mr. de Blasio has clearly distanced himself from most of Mr. Bloomberg’s politics and policies, it seems the two have some similar thoughts on food. Mr. de Blasio has vowed to uphold Mr. Bloomberg’s soda ban, and intends to make it a reality. “We are losing the war on obesity,” he said, “it’s unacceptable. This is a case where we need to get aggressive.”
Bill de Blasio holds a press conference in front of a Burger King (Photo: Twitter/@deBlasioNYC)
There are of course some strict differences between the new mayor and Mr. Bloomberg. Mr. de Blasio is an ardent supporter of higher wages, particularly for fast food workers. At a recent press conference at a Burger King, he told cheering crowds that “These workers…deserve the right to unionization so they can have decent wages and benefits- and the companies involved pay what is appropriate, [so] people can feed their families…”
Mr. de Blasio also has a clear set of goals for protecting food security for low income New Yorkers. His initiatives include universal breakfast and lunch for school children, removing application barriers for SNAP enrollment, and improving healthy food options for New Yorkers enrolled in SNAP.
On Mr. de Blasio’s campaign website, he outlines his intention for a more sustainable and healthy New York. He plans to “promote a locally-grown, self-reliant food economy to ensure access to healthier foods” (although no word on exactly how he will do this).
This is an exciting time for our city, and we’re hoping that Mr. de Blasio will be able to pull through on these important campaign issues.
The last time I was on a boat in deep enough water that the shoreline was no longer visible, the sea was teeming with giant jellyfish. I was twelve, and felt very strongly that if, by some act of god, or my great-uncle’s shoddy navigational skills, I fell overboard, I would surely be stung to half-death and then finished off by the hundreds of aggressive seagulls that squawked overhead.
I am clearly not a sailor, but Ivan MacFadyen is, and ten years ago, the oceans he traveled across the Pacific were full of fish, and the sky was alive with migrating birds. It’s no secret that global warming, waste and dumping, overfishing, increased consumer demand and consumption, and commercial competition have begun to empty our oceans. As a reader, or even a consumer, though, it’s hard to understand what this means. After all, the ocean is pretty big and deep, and we’re used to having a limitless supply of anything we want (although it’s not always what you expect).
(Ian McFadyen aboard his Funnel Web)
Ian McFadyen knows, perhaps a bit too much. Here is a man who has dedicated his life to sailing the world and respecting its beauty. Here is his sadness:
“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead. We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening. I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”
You can read the rest of this poignant article here.
(Image from https://erikandrulis.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/the-ocean-is-broken/)
It’s been a good few weeks for pro-labeling folks.
Recently, Mexico has banned the planting and farming of genetically engineered corn, while in Hawaii, the island of Kauai has passed a law requiring farms to disclose the use of pesticides and/or GMOs. Over on the mainland, there’s a potential bombshell unfolding in Washington State- Initiative 552, which would mandate the labeling of GMOs.
We all remember what happened in California this time last year over Prop 37. Among other things, the anti-labeling side was backed by a lot of private company money including Monsanto, and their advertising dominated the airwaves. A similar influx of cash is poised to happen in Washington- although Ocean Robbins give us hope that this time will be different.
(Image from http://www.kcet.org/living/food/prop-37/mexico-bans-gmo-corn-best-corn-tortillas.html)
Nearly 1 in 3 children in the United States eats fast food every day. This consumption of cheap, addictive food products is a major factor in the rising rates of diabetes and other diet-related illnesses cropping up in kids in record numbers. In a time when adults are growing more aware of the consequences of their food choices, why are kids eating such large quantities of this stuff?
The $2 billion spent each year by multinational food corporations to influence the food children want certainly plays a role. Food Mythbusters recently delved into the way this money is spent in their video “The Myth of Choice: How Junk Food Marketers Target our Kids.” They explore the full scope of influence corporations have as they seek to turn kids into frequent fast food consumers through advertising, product placement, and appeals to biology. The companies in question use any access point they can find, including public schools.
Clearly, the tactics of these food giants are working, but we don’t necessarily have to sacrifice our children to the junk food behemoths. The most shocking part of the Food Mythbusters clip is that we, as average citizens, still have some cards left to play. Communities around the country are finding ways to reclaim their kids’ eating habits. Check out the video to see for yourself:
It’s a problem that farmers, scientists, politicians, capitalism, socialism, communism, the UN and your very self-righteous uncle have attempted to solve every since a collective responsibility to feed the world has been an issue. Technically, we have enough calories (2,700 per individual) to eradicate global hunger. Problem is, those calories aren’t going to hungry individuals- one third goes to feed animals, five percent are used to produce biofuels, and another third is wasted along the food chain. That leaves about a billion people across the world without enough food.
In Mark Bittman’s latest op-ed for the NYTimes, he brings a more recent problem to the topic. Not only are people hungry, but three billion people are not eating well, according to the UNFAO. Obese and overweight people are part of the struggle for a more effective and healthier food system. Bittman argues that our current “Big Ag” industry contribute and exacerbate to both demographics. His proposal: agroecology, or the peasant system.
Bittman points out that the peasant system (small landholders) is not only the longer standing agricultural model, but the more effective and productive one. The industrial food chain uses 70% of agricultural resources to provide 30% of the world’s food; the peasant system produces the remaining 70% using only 30% of the resources.
Small landholders tend to diversify crops, mix plants and animals, and plant trees. This allows them to produce more food with fewer resources and lower transportation costs- and that means greater food security and greater biodiversity. Bittman notes that furthermore, compared to industrial farming, small landholders are able to feed more people per area. Of course, the world has always been stacked against the peasant system: war, famine, drought, displacement, politics, and intentional land grabs, to name a few problems. Such issues push farmers into cities, where they can no longer grow food themselves, but are reliant on mass produced food.
“It’s a formula for making not only hunger but obesity: remove the ability to produce food, then remove the ability to pay for food, or replace it with only one choice: bad food,” writes Bittman. But by supporting traditional farming methods through investment and research, we can provide an alternative. Bittman also stresses the importance of reducing waste and overconsumption, although he is less clear on how this could work out, giving a growing middle-class and cultural tastes for meat and sugar.
As always, Bittman is a good source of food for thought. What do you think?
We’ve all had those encounters with the newly converted and rather emphatic; that friend who cured their recent cold by eating raw garlic, the co-worker who justifies his coffee consumption by touting the health benefits, and (most recently) those who feel that chia seeds have made them superhuman. On the one hand, looking critically at our diets to address health problems is generally a good tactic and one underutilized in a country that so often turns to pharmaceuticals to address our physical woes. But the questions remains: how many of the super foods we believe in actually have super powers?
Miriam Quick, Head Researcher at Information is Beautiful, sorted through scientific studies, analysis, and reviews to determine which of the so-called superfoods live up to their stellar reputations. The results, as seen in this compelling graphic, are fascinating. Some foods really do out-do themselves. Olive oil is linked to better heart health, honey can help your allergies, and dark chocolate can significantly lower high blood pressure. Sadly some super foods are just myths. Quinoa’s effects haven’t been proven in any studies and oysters are unlikely to influence your sex drive.
Whether you believe in the powers of these superfoods or not, closely examining the impact food has on us can be a powerful process. And now you’ll have the evidence to back up your own super habits!
We’ve got some very exciting news.
We’ve spent the past several months working round the clock on a HowGood kiosk. Our first kiosk is now available for use at GreenStar Co-op, an Ithaca food institution. As more stores start adopting our kiosk program, you’ll see them popping up around the country- maybe even at your local store!
The kiosks feature an interactive touch screen that houses a store’s entire database. That means all the products on the shelves can be found on the app, with detailed explanations for the scores of each product. You can search by rating, scan the barcode of products, create grocery lists, and read about HowGood’s background and research all while picking up your groceries for the week.
Have a store you’d like to see us in? Drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to bring you information on the most sustainable products.
HowGood co-founder Alexander Gillett and GreenStar General Manager Brandon Kane next to our kiosk
When I was younger, eating at McDonald’s was the height of coolness and deliciousness. My parents grew up outside of the US, and we mostly ate a traditional Mediterranean diet: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of olive oil, and fish. This will supposedly increase my life expectancy, but as a ten year-old, I only wanted one thing: chicken nuggets.
My parents indulged this a few times a year, mostly before leaving the country to visit family who lived in places woefully under-equipped with “real food.” So to McDonald’s we would go, where five pieces of chicken nuggets, half of them shaped like a Christmas stocking, would get drowned in barbecue sauce before being popped into my mouth.
Good to know I probably wasn’t eating chicken. In a recent piece by Reuters, we learn that chicken nuggets found in fast food restaurants around the country are only 50% chicken muscle tissue- meaning the breast or thigh most of us think of when we think nuggets. The rest of your nug could include fat, cartilage, blood vessels, pieces of bone and nerves.
"Chicken" nuggets being deep fried
Researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center inspected two chicken nuggets from two separate fast food restaurants (they chose not to disclose which restaurants). Certainly this is a small sample size, and the researchers stress that this project is meant to serve as a reminder to consumers that ”not everything that tastes good is good for you.”
Perhaps more troubling is that restaurants are not required to specify all the ingredients that go into a food product- after all, chicken bones and nerves technically are chicken. So next time you’re hungry for some fried chicken, remember that if you want 100% meat, you might be better off making it at home.