Archive for June, 2008
In response to our Good Morning America segment, Additives, Allergies and ADHD: Is There a Connection? (have you seen the great comments that you posted to the story? Click here to read more!), we would like to take this opportunity to address the most frequently asked questions.
1) What chemicals do I need to avoid?
The British study cited in the Good Morning America segment is from The Lancet, their equivalent of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The chemicals of concern are additives used to enhance the colors and flavors of foods. They include synthetic colors for yellow, red and blue (including yellow #5 which is found in our mac n cheese boxes here in the US!) as well as the preservative, sodium benzoate (used in carbonated drinks). These synthetic colors, additives and preservatives are made in laboratories using chemicals.
Due to British parents’ growing awareness and concern over the results of these studies, Kraft UK, Coca Cola UK and Wal-Mart’s division in the UK, Asda, all voluntarily agreed to remove these additives and preservatives from their products in the United Kingdom.
“Kraft Foods UK has no products aimed at children that contain the ingredients highlighted in the study. For example, with our recent Lunchables reformulation in the UK, we reduced fat and salt, as well as removed artificial colours and flavours.”
So, what’s an American mom to do?
2) What do you feed your family?!
Blue yogurt: Replace blue yogurt with WHITE yogurt and allow your kids to mix in any of the following: jelly, honey, chocolate chips, cheerios, even sprinkles (especially for those of you who have kids (like mine) who may not adjust well to this transition).
Fluorescent orange mac n cheese noodles: Replace the bright orange brand with the white cheddar brand (it really does help reduce your child’s unnecessary exposure to synthetic chemicals).
Or if your kids are like mine and freak out, then stick with the bright orange, only don’t use the ENTIRE packet of bright orange powder the next time you mix the box up – use ¾ of the pack of fluorescent orange powder mix, then slowly cut back to 70% of the pack, then 50% of the pack…..until they are less dependent on seeing that bright orange bowl of noodles!
The important thing is to remember not to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Cut the Colors
If the corporations aren’t going to voluntarily eliminate these colors from their boxes of cereals and mac n cheese here in the US, we can do it ourselves. As you try to reduce the amount of artificial colors that your kids are exposed to, they might (just maybe?!) have a bit of a conniption not getting blue yogurt, but you will feel so much better about the choice (and so will they!). So a great first step is to Cut the Colors.
Less is more
Your goal is to try to reduce your children’s exposure to processed foods that contain these chemical additives, colors, flavors and preservatives. In the meantime, look for the following:
- Ingredient lists with FEWER ingredients
- Ingredients with SHORTER names
- Ingredients that you can PRONOUNCE
- Ingredients that your GRANDMOTHER cooked with
Learn to Cook (this was scary to me!)
If you learn to cook, you will lose the chemicals.
Now I am no Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray or anyone even resembling a chef. I burnt everything from noodles to pancakes in the process of learning to cook, so I am sure that you will be more successful at this then I was! But you can do it!
The point is, in the US, prepackaged, processed meals are loaded with chemical and synthetic additives and preservatives to PRESERVE and ADD to their shelf life (in the stores or in the freezer). If you cook your own food, even just one night a week, you will win Mother of the Year for your efforts!
Cook it once, eat it twice
Given the amount of time that I now spend cooking, I want to stretch those meals as far as they can go! So, instead of nuggets, I put chicken breast in a frying pan with olive oil and water, sprinkled it with garlic, salt and pepper, put a lid on top of it and steam away. The kids have it for dinner, and then get it again in either tortilla wraps or as a sandwich for lunch the next day.
Oh, how we wish that organic food was affordable, because by law, organic food is not allowed to contain these synthetic chemicals!
Sadly, it is these very USDA laws that make organic food more expensive, since organic farmers must adhere to strict additional standards and regulations when it comes to ensuring the safety of their products.
In the meantime, if you can afford to choose ONE THING in your kitchen to convert to organic, consider choosing something that your children consume a lot of (in our case it was milk, in yours, it might be juice, in others it might be bread). Just making that one change will help reduce a huge heaping of chemicals in your kids diets!
NOTE: given that different children have different allergies and sensitivities, make sure to read ALL labels before feeding your children, especially as manufacturers often change their ingredients unannounced.
This is a slow and steady process. It will not happen overnight (even though you may want it to!), so if sprinkles HELP you to wean your children off of the colored yogurt, then that is great! Eventually, you will “run out” of sprinkles….won’t you?!
This post is dedicated to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, who has spent the last several decades educating America about our food supply. On behalf of mothers everywhere, we are extremely grateful for his courage, his work and his tenacity.
A University of Melbourne study funded by Nestle Corporation, the makers of Nestle’s Good Start Supreme Soy Formula, is highlighted in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and declares that “soy consumption is not a risk factor for peanut sensitization”.
Would you expect a study funded by a corporation that makes soy infant formula to say anything else?
According the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), ” funding for the initial development of the Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study was provided by Nestlé Australia”.
However, as highlighted in the JACI, results of the Melbourne study also state: “Children whose parents elected to introduce soy formula or soy milk into their children’s diet were more likely to be sensitized to peanuts at 2 years (odds ratio, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.04-3.92; P = .039 – which statistically means that 95 percent of the time, the children that were fed soy as infants were two times more likely to have developed a sensitivity to peanuts by the age of the age of two).”
AllergyKids encourages parents to review results in the New England Journal of Medicine, Factors Associated with the Development of Peanut Allergy in Childhood, which addresses the correlation between soy formula and peanut allergy in which Dr. Gideon Lack and his team conclude: “Peanut allergy was independently associated with the intake of soy milk or soy formula” (odds ratio, 2.6; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 5.2 – which statistically means that a child fed soy is 2.6 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy 95 percent of the time).
Therefore, in reviewing this Univeristy of Melbourne study funded by Nestle Corporation, AllergyKids urges caution before accepting the assertion of the 23 year old PhD student who states that “the good news for parents is that they can now feed their children on soy milk and not have to worry about getting peanut allergies.”
AllergyKids would like to suggest to the 23 year old PhD student who conducted this study that she consider the work of Dr. David Ludwig and his colleagues at Harvard University whose research addresses the “Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles“:
Conclusions: “Industry funding of nutrition-related scientific articles may bias conclusions in favor of sponsors’ products, with potentially significant implications for public health.”
Independently funded studies and research are critical when it comes to protecting the health of our children.
It’s not often that we highlight another blog, as a matter of fact, we never have! But this article by Sprout is so well written that we decided that there is a first time for everything. From our friends at Grow Healthy: http://growhealthywithsprout.com/…
So, sorry but this post is going to be a little bit academic, but bear with me, because some recent articles on the international food crisis got me wondering: are big, conventional agriculture companies like Monsanto using the world’s hunger crisis to push the sales of their genetically modified crops?
Now, I hate whacked-out conspiracy theories as much as the next guy with a government-implanted microchip, but follow me here:
Step One: According to the BBC, there are a few main causes for the recent upsurge in food prices:
1) Global population, which is expected to hit the ridiculous number of 9 billion in a few short decades. More people means more consumption of resources, scarcer fuels and land, and (obviously) more people eating food.
2) The fast-growing economies of places like India and China. As the article puts it so well:
“To put it bluntly, rich people eat more than poor people, and all this economic growth is generating a whole new tier of middle-class consumers who buy more meat and processed food.”
3) Environmental factors resulting from climate change. (Desertification in China and Africa, for instance)
4) Corn-based ethanol production, which is expected to eat up a third of US corn by 2010.
Now, let’s think about this real quick: when they talk about the “processed foods” in middle-class diets of India and China, what they mean are foods that are made with the ugly, disease-causing byproducts of soy and corn (partially hydrogenated whatchama-fats, hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, all that garbage) that were invented to find a use for the vast quantities of these crops that have been heaped upon us as a result of industrial agriculture and the genetic modification of crops. Meanwhile, the corn going into American ethanol production is this same industrialized, genetically modified, Monsanto-brand “corn”. So, 2 of the 4 reasons people are beginning to starve in vast numbers around the world, especially in Africa, (even people here in America are starting to have to struggle with food prices) come down to higher usage of Monsanto products, GM corn and soy, which contain novel proteins, allergens and toxins.
Hmm… Ok, could just be an unfortunate fact…
Step Two: At a recent United Nations emergency meeting on food shortages, the NY Times reports that the representatives there mostly just “complained about other [countries'] protectionism — and defended their own.” For example, “the United States’ agriculture secretary, Ed Schafer, talked about the benefits of biofuels and genetically modified crops.” That is, in front of an international audience gathered to discuss how best to solve the crisis of rising food costs, America’s representative argued that other countries need to start allowing imports of GM crops, while refusing to allow imports of Brazilian sugar cane-based ethanol (which America will not allow into its “free” market, right now).
So, we’re trying to push GM crops (a move that would benefit Monsanto) at the same time that we fight to lessen the economic power of sugar-cane based ethanol (a move that would benefit… Monsanto).
And we’re doing that while “most experts agree [that the only kind of food aid program that is going to work is] one that invests in developing agriculture in poor countries and that spends less money in shipping food halfway around the world to feed hungry people.” Meaning that exporting food, GM or otherwise, isn’t what’s going to solve the problem, and we know it.
Step Three: Meanwhile, perfectly timed to coincide with this debate, Monsanto announced it would “develop seeds that would double the yields of corn, soybeans and cotton by 2030 and would require 30 percent less water, land and energy to grow,” a P.R. move that “appears to be aimed at least in part at winning acceptance of genetically modified crops by showing that they can play a major role in feeding the world.”
And this despite the fact that experts are pretty dubious of the claim: “James E. Specht, a soybean genetics expert at the University of Nebraska said he doubted it could be done. ‘The hype-to-reality ratio of that one is essentially infinity,’ Mr. Specht said. ‘Seeing an exponential change in the yield curve is unlikely.’”
Moreover, “as part of its announcement Wednesday, Monsanto said it would work to improve the lives of small and poor farmers by sharing its technology. It recently announced a project with some other organizations to develop drought-tolerant corn for Africa, with Monsanto not charging royalties for use of its technology.” Oh, by the way, once modified genes enter a farming region, they are pretty much impossible to eradicate later. Since Monsanto owns patents to these genes, if they are introduced into these potential new markets they would have intellectual property rights over these African farmers’ crops (just like they already do over American farmers’ crops) for generations and generations into the future. Even if they hold off from charging royalties now, there’s no reason they couldn’t later decide to. They would have every right to; it’s their property.
Taking advantage of people’s poverty, starvation, and desperation to lock them into the irreversible decision to start growing genetically modified crops? Really, Monsanto? This sounds to me like the ultimate devil’s bargain: eat now, pay later… big time.
Original article posted by Adam at teamsprout