Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Natural Flavors" Are Not Natural

Have you ever come across "natural flavors" on a food label? A can of soup, or a bottled sauce or dressing, or a dessert? Or perhaps a bottle of sparkling water?

"Natural"...sounds innocent enough, right?


Here's what the US Code of Federal Regulations says about "natural flavors":

the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

In English: Start with something only nominally edible (like bark), do pretty much whatever you want to it, and call it a "natural flavor".

I would claim that there's nothing natural about hydrolyzed soy protein, for instance. And I don't want it in my food.

Calling these things "natural flavors" is a deliberately misleading move on the part of food processing companies. It allows them to sell us cheap food, synthesized in a factory, not grown on a farm.

It's not always easy to make your own food from scratch, but it's always worth it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"I just killed a pig and a goat."

"I just killed a pig and a goat," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly said in a Facebook post on May 4.

Bravo, Mark.

He has said publicly that for 2011, he will only eat meat that he has killed, as part of his growing interest in where food comes from.

I have every hope that his exploration of food will continue. He is in a great position to help shape the public dialog about food sustainability, because of his fame, his position as a perceived thought leader in the technology space, and his serious financial power.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feds Versus Small Farmers In The Mainstream Media

No one has gotten sick. It's debatable whether laws have been broken. And yet the FDA has spent a year and a half's worth of time and taxpayers' money on an undercover operation to catch and prosecute Dan Allgyer, a small dairy farmer who has been providing fresh milk to co-owners of his herd of cows. US marshalls, federal agents, and state troopers were dispatched to his farm in a 5AM raid. There, they discovered "numerous portable coolers in the defendant's driveway that appeared to be milk," according to an injunction filed by the FDA.

They could have just asked him what he was doing, and he would have told them.

In the last few days, I've seen balanced pieces in both the SF Chronicle and the Boston Globe about this latest chapter in the FDA's war on raw milk and small farmers.

Unpasteurized milk is legal to buy and consume in all 50 states. It is legal to sell in some states, and illegal in others.

Is it the place of the federal government to ban the interstate sale and/or transportation of unpasteurized milk? Let's consider some goods that the feds regulate less strictly than raw milk: ground beef, raw fish and shellfish, alcohol, tobacco. Oh, and guns.

Even if such prohibitions exist, how much time, energy, and money should the feds put into enforcement? Are there more pressing issues today? Like the economy and jobs, war in Afghanistan, energy policy, hunger and poverty in the US and elsewhere, instability in Iraq and Iran, revolutions in the Arab world, Israeli borders…

Representative Ron Paul (R, Texas) has introduced a bill to legalize interstate commerce in raw milk. He believes that trade in raw milk should not be restricted by the federal government, and that "[i]f there are legitimate concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk, those concerns should be addressed at the state and local level."

I tend to agree.

(submitted as part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday)

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Raw Milk Spring" In Washington, DC

This past Monday, May 16, there was a demonstration for freedom of food choice on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

One of the motivations for the rally was outrage at an elaborate, expensive, year-and-a-half long sting operation mounted by the FDA against a peaceful Amish farmer who was distributing his milk to members of a private buying club.

Here's a video in which Adam Kokesh (talk show host) interviews Elizabeth Reitzig (rally organizer) and Mark McAfee (owner, Organic Pastures, the largest commercial raw milk dairy in the country, and outspoken raw milk activist):

The video is actually a great introduction to some of the issues surrounding raw milk, including the legal ridiculousness.

For information about how to get raw milk where you live, click here.

For more details about the rally, see here and here.

(This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday link carnival.)