More Ice Cream Politics

Ice Cream Trump Impechmint
Since I covered “Bernie’s Yearning”, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor idea (see Ice Cream Social-ism), it’s only fair to announce their newest flavor, “Impeach-mint”.

I look to them to fabricate a glob of something orange, and I think they should add a heap of nuts.

I can hardly wait to try Impeach-mint! But, alas, ice cream is a dish best served cold.

Public Health? Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

ABA Close UpDe do do do, de da da da. Entering the Brooklyn subway on a sunny day. But what’s this? A public health message? Move in closer….img_1921

Okay, I see. Big Soda is paying the MTA to endear us to their products, disguised of healthful advice. This ad is sponsored by the group that represents Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. (I miss Mayor Bloomberg.)
Public Health Indeed!

That was fours days ago. Then. today I woke up to this article in the New York Times: Coke and Pepsi Give Millions to Public Health, Then Lobby Against it. Ah, the public health part.

But these articles, also ripped from today’s headlines, put another spin on “public health”:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“The Academy”), the professional organization of registered dietitians in which I once held leadership positions, accepts (a lot of) sponsorship from Big Food. That’s why I am no longer a member. They have sullied my name and so they must be renounced. My dietitian friends will tell you, the phrase “The Academy” always evokes the response, “I hate them.”

Personally, I favor a soda tax (and everything else that can be done to reform our sick brand Capitalism.) I neither drink soda nor eat processed food. (Bread is about as processed as it gets.) I’ve written about why I favor a soda tax in the blog posts listed below.

Your thoughts: How can we stop this?

Ice Cream Social-ism

Bernie_2My friend Barbara shared this news item with me and it’s too good not to pass on.

Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, has an idea for a new flavor. He calls it “Bernie’s Yearning” for his fellow resident of Vermont. The flavor is a plain “American cream” ice cream topped with a thin disc of chocolate.

Ben told the media outlets:
“The disc of chocolate represents all the wealth that’s gone to the top 1% of the population over the last ten years. And the way you eat it is you whack the chocolate into itty-bitty pieces with your spoon, and then mix it around to share the wealth. “The American Cream” ice cream is made from 1% milk for the 99%.

Of course, Ben & Jerry’s cannot produce “Bernie’s Yearning” because they lost the authority to make new flavors when they sold the company Unilever in 2000. Still, that doesn’t stop Ben from visualizing new flavors based on his political leanings. For Barack Obama, he created Yes Pecan! in 2009.

Watch Bernie Sanders Try His Ben & Jerry’s Flavor For The First Time

Tafathalo! Welcome to My Arabic Dinner

This year the Arab American Institute conducted their biyearly poll of American attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims. Favorable attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims are lacking to say the least: 68% of Americans are critical of Arabs and 73% dislike Muslims. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans admit they don’t know enough about Islam, Muslims, and Arab history and people. A narrow-minded bunch are we, which brings me around to my Christmas theme for 2014:

Jesus was an Arab.

He was born in the Middle East, he spoke Aramaic and he probably had dark skin. Look at the desert in the nativity scene. Arabic people can be Jewish because Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity. Furthermore, every Arab is not Muslim. 

To honor my theme, I hosted a pre-Christmas-eve Arabian dinner. My menu came from the Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos (Gulf States section, mostly.) I got the cloth-bound hard-covered edition from my local library. (Frugality is another one of my themes.)

The Arabic cuisine is mainly a combination of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian food. It has been affected by the mingling of Arab and non-Arabs over the centuries. European cultures such as the Spanish, Italian, French and Greek had impact on Arab cooking. Turkish cuisine impacts the entire Arab world, while Persian and Indian cuisine influences eastern Arabic countries.

Sharing a meal with others is an old honored tradition in the Arabic World and an expression of hospitality. “Tafathalo” means “Do me the honor”. It is an invitation to come to the table. This is what I served:

Starters
Hummus and Khoubiz (Flat Bread) from Sam’s Bakery in Fall River, Massachusetts
Endives with Oranges and Almonds (Spanish/Arabian influence, generously provided by a guest)

Soup
Shaurabat Adas (Red Lentil Soup)

Salad
Fattoush Salad

Entrees
Samak Quwarmah (Fish Curry)
Mushkoul (Rice with Onion)
Kebat Al Batatis Wal Burkul (Bulghul and Potato Cakes with Lamb and Apricot Filling) – (We thought this needed a yogurt sauce.)

Desserts / Beverages
“Sweet Sesame” (a Sam’s Bakery bread made with honey, sugar, cinnamon, and sesame seeds)
Dates
Candy (re-gifted by the teachers at the table)
Decaf coffee/Black tea
Wine
Arak (Now I know to water it down.)

Your thoughts: Do you eat Middle Eastern food? Do you know enough about Arabic culture?

Healthy Vending Machines Are Here to Stay

bettervendingmachinesAn important diet trend is unfolding. The food in vending machines is changing for the best.

You can’t believe how often people eat from vending machines. Teens get around one third of their calories from snack foods eaten away from home. At work, school and in public places, machines may be the only option. I ate from vending machines I worked in the cubes. 🙁 I used to buy two ounces of salted Planter’s Peanuts, full of calories but also nutrients, I was starving, and the other food was crap. I should have packed a snack.

Anyway, the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, (Michelle Obama’s) federal law that affects public school food, mandated that food sold in schools, including vending machines, meet the USDA’s “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards. In turn, several major cities, and now the State of California, mandated that vending machines on government property be healthy. That drove the market for suppliers and (surprise!) people liked the healthy food better (well not all.) Still, it looks like a healthy vending machine franchise is good financial bet.

To learn more, read my article, Healthier Vending Machines are a Win-Win for All Hungry Consumers, at DietsInReview.com.

Your thoughts: What do you buy from the vending machine?

Rethinking Soda at the Movies

soda at the MoviesSince I choose to do those things that amuse me most, I find myself in lots of crazy places. A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Brooklyn Independent Television’s show, Intersect, talking about Mayor Bloomberg’s sugary drink limit with host Brian Vines and fellow guest Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. At minute 23:05, I talk Brian Vine out of thinking big portions of soda at the movies are a bargain. Here is our conversation:

BV:   I was just at the movies two weeks ago and split a, what had to be a 60-ounce something, between the two of us. The thing was gone, and this was the debate we had afterwards, that if the mayor would have had his thing, we would’ve had to buy two drinks – and I believe in my health, but I more than that, I am cheaper than I am healthy – so we would have had to buy two different drinks to get the same thing, but we wouldn’t even be allowed to buy the thing if this law passed. So it hits you in the pocketbook because cheap food is usually bad food…
MH:   That’s not food. DON’T CALL THAT FOOD!
BV:   What is it then? It’s empty calorie things….
MH:   It’s empty calorie stuff. You cannot compare….
BV:   Cheap drinks. It’s enjoyment. It’s cheaper though….
MH: Well, for instance, I’m a fun gal, but one thing about me is I do not order anything at the movies. I have unhooked the idea that sitting in a movie means eating. Talk about cheap! I’m not going to that concession stand. I’m not buying any of that stuff!
BV: It’s relative. (laugh)
MH: So let’s get it all straightened out, okay, and that’s what the dialogue is about. It’s testing those ideas people have: “I need my soda!”  Well, why do you need your soda?
BV: Thank you for unhooking me, because it’s not cheap. Soda isn’t cheap at the movies.

Your thoughts: Will Brian Vine quit drinking soda at the movies?

You Are No Match for Big Food as Stephen Colbert Explains

So, by now, everybody knows that, at the 11th hour, a New York State Supreme Court Judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in New York City restaurants. Constitutionality aside, I think the judge didn’t want to wait in the long line at Dunkin’ Donuts. There will be appeals and the lawyers will get rich because the American Beverage Association spends millions and billions to fight soda taxes and laws like Bloomberg’s across the land every year. People don’t understand that we all pay for obesity in higher taxes to support Medicare, Medicare, disability benefits, etc.  And “personal responsibility” is no match against foods that are engineered and marketed to make us overeat. Stephen Colbert explains it better than I. Watch.

Confusion at the Coffee Counter

Dunkin' Donuts Flyer

Dunkin’ Donuts Flyer

Call me blogger in absentia. I’ve been busy freelancing for the public relations agency that represents Eggland’s Best eggs – the eggs that are superior in nutrition, with twice the vitamin D, ten times more vitamin E, more than double the omega-3s, 35% more lutein, and 25% less saturated fat – compared to ordinary eggs. It’s all about the chicken feed. I eat EB eggs. And that is public relations.

But I had to take a break to comment about this flyer that comes to you newly at the Dunkin’ Donuts check out counter in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of sugar beverages larger that 16-ounces goes into effect next week.Dunkin’ Donuts want to get ahead of the confusion, which shows that it’s easier to complain than it is to fix.

Here’s the deal: if your hot coffee is smaller than 16-ounces, Dunkin’ will add the sugar for you, but if your hot coffee is size large or X-large, then you’ll have to add the sugar yourself. For iced beverages, do-it-yourself sugar service starts with size medium because, for iced, medium is the large hot and large is the hot X-large. Got it? That ice has to go somewhere. For beverages that already come with added sugar, like hot chocolate or that oxymoron, frozen hot chocolate, you cannot buy a portion larger than medium – but you can buy two or more.

So, now, you will have to think twice before adding six sugar packets to your “Extra Extra.” Teeheehee. And it doesn’t stop there. Bloomberg is going after the Styrofoam cup next.

Your thoughts: Mayor Bloomberg: Yea or Nay?

Read about mayor’s public health campaigns in The New York Times:
City’s New Drink Rules Add Wrinkle to Coffee Orders
To Go: Plastic-Foam Containers, if the Mayor Gets His Way

A Postmortem for Prop 37

Prop 37, the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, was rejected by California voters. If passed, genetically engineered foods would have had to include an identifying label on the package and whole foods would need a sign on the shelf. But, alas, Californians gave up their right to know.

I thought it was reasonable to ask for transparency in food labeling. (See my blog, What You Should Know About Labeling Genetically Modified Food.) Fifty countries, including the European Union, Australia, Japan, Russia and China (China!), already label genetically modified foods.

Genetically modified foods are made in the lab by taking genes from one species and inserting them into the DNA of another species. The genes introduced produce proteins that have some a new effect. For instance, corn hybrids contain a Bt gene, a gene from a bacterium that produces an insecticidal protein, and the Roundup Ready gene makes plants resistant to the herbicide Roundup. In the United States, 70 to 80 percent of our processed food is made with genetically modified soybeans, corn, sugar beets, cottonseed oil, and other GMO ingredients.

Prop 37 supporters argued that the long-term health impacts of genetic manipulations are unclear. In humans, they fear allergic and immune system reactions, transfer of antibiotic resistant pathogens, and unexpected secondary effects. And because weeds are rapidly becoming resistant to GMO crops, more herbicides are being used.

But opponents argued louder and spent more money to defeat Prop 37.
Big Agra actually spent close to $46 million to lobby against the initiative. They claim that GMOs are tested and safe (even though safety testing is left up to the manufactures and long-term testing does not exist), and compliance would have cost voters $400 a year in handed-down costs of label changes and lawsuits.

In the end, the voters surrendered their right to know.  For now.

Your thoughts: Are you for or against Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food?

Breakfast (Cereal) With the Candidates

Choose between delicious Obama O’s and delectable Romney Flakes! Candidate Crunch, a limited edition breakfast cereal from Cerealize.com, is just plain fun. As much, or more, fun than binders full of women! I’m ordering a box of each.

Cerealize is a new company, in beta mode, that lets you create your own breakfast cereal and then they ship it to your home. The ordering is done online. I read about them in Food + Tech Connect, Breakfast with Obama and Romney, Courtesy of Cerealize.

Your thoughts: Would you buy custom-blended cereal?