If you’ve been following along on Facebook, you know that I was in NYC earlier this week to film an investigative report… well, now it is out! Inside Edition interviewed me as a food expert, regarding the “baby carrot controversy“ sweeping the web.
Watch the full story here:
For the record: I love carrots, I eat them or juice them almost everyday, but personally I do not buy baby carrots, because I prefer the taste of larger, non-ready to eat carrots better.
Also, if you know me, you know this – I want the least amount of environmental chemicals to enter my body. I filter my water at home (to remove chlorine and other chemicals) and wash my vegetables with filtered water before consuming them.
The most important decision you can make at the grocery store regarding carrots is not whether they come in a bag or not but rather if they are organic or conventional.
According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, conventional carrots can have up to 26 different pesticides on them (16 of them are hormone disruptors, 8 are carcinogens, 7 are reproductive toxins, and 3 are neurotoxins). My recommendation for everyone is to choose organic carrots for this reason.
Here are some behind the scenes photos from the shoot. I had an absolute blast chatting with Paul Boyd from Inside Edition – he’s quite the comic! We even taste tested the carrots. Baby carrots are grown from a sweeter variety and you can definitely tell the difference in taste!
Sugar is one of the most dangerous ingredients on the market. It’s addictive, added to almost every processed food, and will make you overweight, depressed and sick if you eat too much. In fact, Americans eat close to 130 pounds of the stuff per person per year (4 times more than the recommended daily allowance), likely because it is so addictive. That’s why it’s exciting to know there are alternative sweeteners made in nature, like “stevia,” that don’t wreak havoc on your health – or do they? That’s what I went on a quest to find out. Here’s what happened…
What Is Stevia?
For those of you that are hearing about stevia for the first time, it is a plant that is typically grown in South America, and while it’s extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, it does not raise blood insulin levels. That’s what makes it so popular. However in 1991 the FDA refused to approve this substance for use due to pressure from makers of artificial sweeteners like Sweet n’ Low and Equal (a one billion dollar industry). But in 2008, the FDA approved the use of rebaudioside compounds that were derived from the stevia plant by Coca-Cola (Cargill) and PepsiCo – hmmm doesn’t that sound suspicious? Not until a major food company got involved did stevia become legal, and only after it had been highly processed using a patentable chemical-laden process…so processed that Truvia (Coca-Cola’s branded product) goes through about 40 steps to process the extract from the leaf, relying on chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), and none of those ingredients sound like real food, do they?
The whole leaf stevia that you can grow in your backyard (and has been used for centuries in countries like Brazil and Paraguay) remains a non-approved food additive by the FDA. However, rebaudioside A (the stevia extract) that was approved by the FDA has not been used for centuries and long term human health impacts have not been studied and are still unknown. The sweetener/sugar industry wields powerful influence over what is ultimately approved at the FDA, and this is just another example where they are influencing decisions that don’t make sense. How can a chemically derived extract be deemed safe in processed food and a plant from mother nature not?
Jason’s Deli is one of the places my family loves to eat. When I would come home from college to visit, we would go there all the time. We’d have sandwiches, soup, salad, those little free mini corn and gingerbread muffins and free ice cream at the end of every visit. The prices were economical which suited my Dad’s frugality and the location was super convenient. But as soon as I started figuring out what was in restaurant food, my trips to Jason’s Deli stopped. I didn’t really have a specific reason other than the fact that home prepared meals tasted better and made me feel great – much better than the days I would go out to eat.
Jason’s Deli is a very popular choice for a lot of people out there, not just my family, so I thought it would be crucial to investigate their food. Besides, many of you have asked for this specific investigation on facebook for quite some time now… so with no further delay, here’s what I found out. Continue reading →
On my birthday last Friday, I received an AMAZING present. It was an email from Chris Arnold, the Communications Director at Chipotle, that read “Tadah!” in the subject line and had a link attached to the body of the email.
Back in August of last year, I did an investigation on 100DaysofRealFood that ultimately left me frustrated with the company. When inquiring about the ingredients – I was met with significant challenge and had to work my way around the corporate headquarters to actually find out the ingredients.
Here’s an excerpt and infographic from my investigation that sums up my experience quite nicely -
When I emailed Chipotle asking for the ingredients in certain products they downright refused. They in turn asked if I was concerned about a specific ingredient or had an allergy. Really? Why do I have to be concerned about a specific ingredient or have an allergy to want to know what I am eating and what’s in my food? When I tried to call them, there was no way for me to leave a message or get a person on the phone to answer my questions. Email responses were S-L-O-W. I had to ask very specific questions to get the data I needed to write this – specific questions that most consumers would likely not ask. Thank goodness for the genuinely accommodating employee who shared some of the ingredients with me (behind his Manager’s back) so I could give you the full story.
A few weeks after my investigation, Chris from Chipotle contacted me and asked me to meet with him, so I could better understand their challenges with posting their ingredient list. I’ve been in contact with him ever since – asking for periodic updates and making sure he knew I wasn’t going to let Chipotle off the hook. To keep the pressure on, some folks were so inspired by the investigation, that they created a petition on my behalf, where 2400+ people shared their voice in concern. Continue reading →
Since Kraft did not show up to The Dr. Oz Show, we’ve contacted Kraft directly via email (now twice) and left a voicemail. We received an automatic reply that the head of the Mac & Cheese division is out of the office. This probably isn’t the best time for her to be out, don’t you think?
We are patiently awaiting a response… until then, we plan to get this message out as much as possible.
I hope you enjoy the media clips below – 3 of them are from the last 24 hours. All of these interviews with Lisa and me are so different – I’d love to know which one you liked the best. See you in the comments!