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May 2 2007

Dealing with Cereals

… You can appreciate why I so enjoy the cereal aisle. I like reading the health claims on the processed cereals and wondering what marketers will dream up next. The packages are, in their weird way, fun to look at. They represent the best thinking of marketers about how to get you to eat processed cereals, to believe that they are good for you, and to insist that nothing else will do for breakfast. (more…)

Apr 21 2007

Sugary cereals

The latest trend in kid’s cereals is to emphasize how many vitamins and minerals they have, but many of these are so high in sugar that they are really vitamin-enriched, low-fat cookies.

Apr 18 2007

Margarines

Most margarines are basically the same: mixtures of soybean oil and food additives. They are high in fats and calories.

I don’t eat margarine. Why would you want to put soybean oil on your bread? I’d much rather put olive oil or butter. A little goes a long way.

Apr 16 2007

The Color of Salmon

Wild salmon are a gorgeous salmon pink because the fish eat marine krill, tiny crustaceans loaded with pigments – mainly one called astaxanthin but also another called canthaxanthin. These get incorporated into the salmon’s flesh and can be identified by testing laboratories….

Farmed salmon, alas, are not fed krill. Instead they are fed pellets like the ones fed to cats or dogs. As a result, their flesh is an unattractive gray color. Research on the industry-important question of what best sells salmon demonstrates two things: the darker its pink color, the more likely you are to choose it over more lightly colored salmon; and if the salmon is gray, you will not buy it at all.

So salmon farmers resort to cosmetics.

Apr 16 2007

“Organic” Fish

I keep putting “organic” in quotation marks because it is hard to know what it would take to consider a fish organically raised or nurtured. The basis of organic food production is control over growing conditions. But big fish eat smaller fish and migrate thousands of miles over rivers and oceans. If they end up full of methylmercury and PCBs, how can they possibly be considered organic? Fish farming also seems anything but organic. Farm-raised fish are treated with pesticides to prevent lice, and they eat pellets containing artificial colors, parts of fish and other animals, and binders and thickeners made from soybeans that could be genetically modified. How, you might want to know, could any farmed fish be labeled organic?