Energy Foods

01Mar10

The food science world is exploding with energy enhancing foods. Companies like Clif Bar, Power Bar, GU, and many more have been striving to create the perfect performance food. The demand for performance enhancing snacks used to be a specific target group of the super athletes that need energy boosts. The target group has broadened vastly and now fill isles of grocery stores with a multitude of products. The bars we eat mostly contain carbs, assorted vitamins and minerals, and sometimes the important addition of caffeine. In the past Powerbar has dominated the industry but slowly Clif bar is catching up. By analyzing the Clif/Power bar rivalry we can see the rise of the demand for natural foods. Clif Bar’s are made from 70% organic material while power bars are not. The major difference between the two is that Powerbar uses high fructose corn syrup to get their energy boost while Clif Bar uses brown rice syrup. Athletes need to monitor what they eat very closely and the fact that Clif Bar is catching up to power in the food science industry is evidence that natural is becoming analogous to better for you. Clif Bar proving that natural foods are actually better for one’s performance because many things in the highly processed bars, such as high fructose corn syrup, are actually a source of inefficient energy. High glucose products are an inefficienct source of enegry because there is often a crash associated with it. Clif Bar is successfully taking foods, such as almonds, and brown rice to make a natural energy bar that is actually a more effective bar. THe Clif Bar/Powerbar debate illustrates that in food, technology doesn’t necessarily bring better goods.

You can visibly see the individual nuts and real foods that are in the bar

Powerbars are highly processed with a mystery texture


A new book inspired by the documentary “Supersize Me” just was released about the everyday products that could potentially harm us. Two Canadian authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, tested everyday products then measured their blood level and attempted to describe the toxicity of each. They tested products that contained everything from pesticides to BPA to pthalates. Their results were shocking. Just by using daily chemicals, such as shampoo containing pthalates, their blood chemical level of said toxic substance rose anywhere from 8-20%. Now these chemicals are not dangerous in the short-term but can have huge health repercussions when a person has daily exposure. For example, the widely used pesticide, 2,4-D (which has currently replaced DDT as far as household pesticides go) has been found to lead to non-Hodgekin’s Lymphoma, neurological issues, asthma, and many other long-term health issues. In the experiements they preformed, in just 48 hours the author’s chemical levels were vastly higher in the person who used products with the chemical than the person who did not. The chemical levels were then restored to normal after use was discontinued, because the authors were exposed to the chemicals in such a brief time period. The point the authors were trying to make was to buy natural products, and that a consumer should know what chemicals are in their products and should try and limit your daily exposure.

For more information on the book here is a link to the npr article: Death by Rubber Duck

Upon hearing about this book my immediate and honest response was: “What can’t kill us these days?”. When does paranoia over take wanting a healthy lifestyle? The truth is that it’s a very fine line. It is clear that we must pay a price for our advanced lifestyle. With ease and availability, especially in our food system, comes danger to our environment and to our health. I choose to eat natural and organic whenever possible, but use Febreeze in my dorm room on occasion. Now some may call me a hypocrite, but it is true that almost every technological advancement comes at  price and we must choose when to give in and when to ask for change. I choose to eat organic because I feel that the benefits to my health and to the environment outweigh the higher cost of the goods. These posts are not to scare readers but allow them to make conscious choices about system they perpetuate, and to illustrate my concerns about our current use of technology in food.


Organics: The Food of the Future

In the class, Writing about the Future we read Minority Report by Philip K Dick. In the short story, Dick stated that, “The existence of a majority logically implies a corresponding minority” (Dick 242). This statement can be applied to almost any moneymaking industry in a capitalist system. In the case of food, the minority is the organic food market. Organic foods are foods made without any artificial pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and petroleum based fertilizer. Organic food is said to be healthier due to the absence of antibiotics and growth hormones. The system of food is, therefore, a more humane way to treat animals. Finally, in a study done at UC Davis, organic tomatoes were actually shown to have more nutrients than the tomatoes grown with hormones (Aubrey). Driven by customer’s desire for change, huge corporations such as Safeway, and now even Wal-Mart, are beginning to incorporate organic goods. In fifty years, therefore, we will see the reform of the corporate food system due to the rise of organics. By analyzing where our food system is now and how the same type of systems have failed in the past, I can conclude that in fifty years organic food will become a majority of the market, and prices will be driven down due to cost efficient farming established big natural farming corporations.

The current food production process in the U.S. has come to resemble our ongoing need for stronger, better, and faster. Our food distribution is in the hands of huge conglomerates, which are able to control every aspect of our food system. The documentary Food Inc outlined that over 80% of our meat is now farmed, packed, and distributed by only four major corporations, the biggest of which is Tyson foods (Food Inc). Driven by high demands for huge amounts of cheap meat, local farmers have been forced into being just another cog in the system. They no longer have a say in how they treat their own animals and are forced to meet the regulations of the corporate world. With high demand for white meat, Chickens are being modified to have bigger breasts. Chickens as well as cows are growing to twice the normal size in half the amount of time due to a widely used growth hormone, rBST (Food Inc). Now as consumers, we all realize the corporate world must sacrifice in some areas to bring us our food cheaply. The corporations, however, are sacrificing quality and safety of the food and, therefore, the health of the consumers. For example, due to animals kept in close quarters and massive slaughterhouses, manure is finding way into the meat, and salmonella and E-Coli cases have sky rocketed over the past 10 years (Food Inc).

We live in a new “Jungle” as described by Upton Sinclair in the 1906 novel (Food Inc). The meat industry has again become one of the most dangerous jobs in America. In an attempt to cut costs, giant slaughterhouses and factories are driving in workers from a thirty mile radius, many of which are illegal, in order to keep their wages low (Food Inc). In one plant, wages are now 30-40% lower than when the plant opened in 1961 (Gardner). In another study, around 29.3% of meatpackers suffered injury or illness from their job in comparison to 9.7% from the rest of manufacturing (Gardner). In 1906 when The Jungle was written, Theodore Roosevelt established the Pure Food and Drug Act, which vastly changed the system and by 1950 meatpacking was one of the most successful professions (Food Inc). Unlike the reform in 1906, change is most likely not going to come from the government level but rather from the consumers. This is because persons directly related to these big corporations hold many of the offices made to protect us. For example, the head of the FDA under president Bush used to be the chief lobbyist for Monsanto, one of the biggest grain producers in the U.S. (Food Inc). The final push to change the system will come from consumers learning about the issue and actively choosing to pay slightly more for a healthier choice: organic or free range food.

Big companies such as Whole Foods and Stonyfield have shown that selling natural organic food can be profitable and other corporations have, therefore, bought into the idea. Organic food sales have been growing by a massive 20% annually (Food Inc). This is not only because consumers want the goods, but it is also because big companies have shown that selling organic foods can be possible. For example, Whole Foods Market has been labeled the new Starbucks is planning to triple in size in the next three years just by selling natural and organic goods (Brush). Stonyfield has just broken in to the Wal-Mart market, and huge corporations such as Nestle and Kellogg are buying small organic departments such as Kashi (Food Inc). The fact that these huge companies are seeing the need for organic subsections, demonstrates the slow developing change that we are even seeing today. The organic system fifty years from may not look like a food radical’s ideal. An ideal of small independent farmers making the food that we eat. Instead, companies such as Whole Foods, Kashi, and other organic related companies will grow and take up more market share. Eventually, these big organic companies will begin to find a way to mass-produce organic foods efficiently and cheaply due mass demand. Organic food prices will then be forced down due to efficient farming, therefore, sending appeal skyrocketing. Names like Whole Foods Market, Kashi, Cascadian Farms will become ubiquitous. Moreover, the big conglomerates will be forced to change their practices with pressure FDA and more importantly consumers. Eventually the organic system will become the status quo.

By looking at the current system, we can see that pressure to change will come consumer knowledge and even by the big companies that see how profitable selling organics can be. The UC Davis dinning commons serves as a great example for how change will occur. It is true that being in an educated environment usually leads to rapid change; we can still look at it as a model for change in greater America. The UC Davis dinning commons are right now in limbo. The dinning commons preach locally and sustainably grown foods on many signs through the dinning hall. They even have switched to non-rBST milk. The DC, however, still has the organic milk tucked away in a small refrigerator and cooks with non-organic meat and vegetables. Five years ago, however, the dinning commons didn’t have any of those features. Change is in effect but the students have not asked for a complete revamp of the system. On many signs they correlate eating healthy with not only eating health foods, but also eating sustainably grown foods. It is clear that both the dinning commons and greater America are pursuing healthy food to try and stop the obesity problem. The difference is that we now see health food as not only low calorie, but also sustainable and natural. What this shows us is when America buys into this mentally the switch to an organic inevitable.

Works Cited

Aubrey, Allison. “Are Organic Tomatoes Better?” NPR. 28 May 2008. Web. 21 Feb. 2010. <http://www.npr.org/‌templates/‌story/‌story.php?storyId=90914182&gt;.

Brush, Michael. “Whole Foods: The next Starbucks.” MSN Money. Web. 21 Feb. 2010. <http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/‌Investing/‌CompanyFocus/‌WholeFoodsTheNextStarbucks.aspx&gt;.

Dick, Philip K. The Minority Report. Print.

Gardner, Timothy. “Working Conditions in American Slaughterhouses: Worse than You Thought.” http://www.organicconsumers.org. Web. 21 Feb. 2010. <http://www.organicconsumers.org/‌irrad/‌slaughterworkers.cfm&gt;.

Kenner, Robert. Food Inc. 2008. Film.


Technology and science are allowing massive corporations to dominate the food industry. Today 80% of our meat comes from four major meat packers, the biggest of which is tyson. Over hundreds of slaughter houses used to spread across America, now only 13 produce the majority of our meat. Each these slaughter houses may slaughter up to 400 animals an hour. An acre of land that used to produce 20 bushels of corn now can produce up to 200 easily. Finally one of the most stirring images of the documentary “Food Inc”, were of chicken farms. Do not let labels of the traditional red barn sitting alone on a field of green crops fool you. The process of growing a chicken has come down to a perfect science. Consumers demonstrated a liking for chicken breasts. The food industry, driven by massive corporations such as Tyson, have developed a chicken using antibiotics with larger breasts weighing over twice as much as a normal chicken should and grown in half the time. These chickens are then grown in dark long wind tunnels, with over 300,000 packed into one building. Most the chickens will never see light and can hardly walk two steps due to the massive weight  they have put on.

Another example of technology in our meats is the method of getting rid of the dangerous E-Coli bacteria. Cows are getting this bacteria due to the feed of corn. Cows are not meant to eat corn and the bacteria has mutated to become dangerous. With only 13 major slaughter houses killing 400 animals an hour, containing that bacteria once it has infected a cow is nearly impossible. Killing this virus could be easy. I cow fed with grass for only 5 days will naturally kill off the virus, grass is expensive and corporation will not cut costs. Another thing that kills bacteria is ammonia. One plant interviewed shows the ammonia treatment process and essentially tempered the spread of the E-coli bacteria. The head of the company was later interviewed and I quote “Our meat is now in 70% of the meat in America, hoping to be 100” (Food Inc).

Have we reached the future? Are we going to continue on this trend or does reform come next? The message of the Food Inc was that consumers vote everyday with their purchases. Can America switch from a dollar menu to a healthy choice menu? The only way to get back to a more humane approach to food is though buying organic products and free range products. Although they may be expensive now, if these products can become the majority the prices will plummet due to competition. If, however, we choose to by the cheapest quality food, the massive corporations will soon dominate the upstart small free range farms and processed food will be the food.

Works Cited:

Food Inc, 2008. Robert Kenner


The Dragon Roll

08Feb10

Ingredients

  • Unagi (cooked freshwater eel)
  • Shrimp Tempura
  • Crab
  • Avocado
  • Sushi rice, Nori sheets, and Tobiko

Reflections

One could say Mitama restaurant in Berkeley, CA was the birthplace for my love of food and more importantly this blog. Almost five years ago I was given a writing assignment called the isearch. In this assignment the only guidelines were to write about something you loved and to get professional interviews. I chose to write about food critics in which I had two interviewees. One was an old woman who walked with big limp and who had teeth that were straight out of england in the seventies. The other was the head chef from Mitama restaurant. The head chef is a middle age Japanese man, slightly balding, almost always a little sweaty, and who usually be seen darting in and out of the kitchen with the rest of the employees. When I arrived for the interview we went into  small back room near the window to talk about the food industry from the chefs side of an argument. We discussed everything from the pressures of opening a restaurant to the rise of the organic food movement. Of course on the way out I asked what he recommended the next time I stop by. He recommended the dragon roll.

The dragon roll is a sweet roll in which its flavor complements its many textures. The top layer of sweet avocado and eel almost melt away immediately in your mouth. What remains after the initial couple seconds is the crunchy inside layer of tempura shrimp complimented by cucumbers and crab.  The entire roll drips with the sweet sauce glaze, which counters the salty soy sauce and wasabi the customer can choose to add or not. The inside layer usually absorbs most of the soy sauce and wasabi, which half through the bite can be tasted in combo to the sweet top layer for a potent combo.


Bakesale Betty's Sandwich

The Mona Lisa

Ingredients:

1 Roll of Buttermilk Bread

4 Slices of fried chicken breast

Coleslaw- Cabbage, Red Onions, Sliced Jalapeno Peppers, Red Wine Vinegar, Parsley

Nutrition Facts: 1000 calories, 55 grams of protein, 58 grams of fat, and worth every bite.

Reflections:

Ah the Bakesale Betty’s sandwich. This is not just any sandwich. This sandwich is not only my favorite lunchtime meal but also the cornerstone of my senior year of high school. Every Tuesday me and a group of five friends would make the 10 minute trip over to Bakesale. Bakesale time was a time to sit out on our school patio, reminisce about the past week things to come, rave about how Betty could not make her sandwich any better, and ultimately make everyone within smelling distance of our food jealous. Even gone off to college I insist on getting bakesale upon every return trip home.

Bakesale Betty’s is located on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street in Berkeley, CA. To an outsider the restaurant is indistinguishable from the rows of shops that line Telegraph Ave. The only indicator that you have arrived is a simple black awning and a line of people anywhere from a half block to a block long. There is no seating in the restaurant itself. The only seating options at Bakesale Betty’s are multiple ironing boards that extend almost a half a block down the side walk. As you wait in a seemingly long line aromas from the restaurant waft out towards you and occasionally a scrambling employee will come out with free cookies or shortbread for the patrons waiting in line. After a maximum 10 minute wait you may finally be able to enter. The store has a glass counter piled with every sort of pastry or bakery product known to man. Now upon entering be prepared to order as within seconds an employee will fly up to the counter and ask for your order. At Bakesale Betty’s there are only two sandwiches, the fried chicken or the brisket, and they only have brisket a couple times in a week. A short order of “one to go” will send the employee yelling back to the packed assembly line of workers piping out what is over 800 sandwiches a day (yes, 800). A packed worked force of over 50 employees are assembled in a very disorganized assembly line with people scrambling everywhere in order to keep up with the influx of people. Echo’s of “One to go” pass down the line of employees to the sandwich makers which throw the pre-made chicken, slaw, and bread together in a brown bag. You pay a somewhat steep price of $8.50 and squeeze by the remaining customers trying to file in. One tip for the new comers: always remember to grab some tapatillo hot sauce on the way out.

Side Effects May Include:

  • Uncontrollable salivation
  • Inordinate influx of moochers
  • Depletion of wallet
  • Uncontrollable Cravings
  • Lunchtime shenanigans
  • Most likely will result in moderate to heavy food coma