We digest the news for you twice a week. Read something great? Send it our way at dig...@ethicurean.com.
Take it to the limit: Many consumers who buy organic food assume it is safer than conventional food. Some conflate the word with local, with humane treatment of livestock, and with fair pay for workers. But the certification doesn't actually encompass any of that - in other words, organic has limits. For some, the realization that the Peanut Corporation of America plant was certified organic has them rethinking the value of the label. ( New York Times)
Who audits the auditors? The next in the NYT food safety series looks at a common practice among food giants, including the Peanut Corporation of America, whose Salmonella recall has taken down over 2,000 products. They hire private auditors to conduct food safety inspections and bill it as an "extra layer of security." But as the PCA outbreak demonstrated, those private auditors can come up dangerously short. (New York Times)
Everything's fine in moderation?: A new study by Yale scientists has finally clarified the relationship between consumption of high fructose corn syrup and insulin resistance, which leads to type II diabetes. Conclusion: Fructose metabolizes to fat in the liver much faster than glucose does, and diets high in HFCS can result in fatty liver disease, which in turn leads to insulin resistance. (Eureka Alert - thanks, Jack!)
Chemical pop: Remember mercury in high fructose corn syrup? As it turns out, soda drinkers have yet another toxin to worry about. A sweeping new study by Canada's health ministry finds detectable levels of the chemical Bisphenol A in 84% of soft drinks the researchers tested. The highest levels of BPA were found in energy drinks. BPA is used to make the leak-proof linings of food and beverage containers and has been found to cause endocrine disruption in humans (including reproductive abnormalities - BPA is a synthetic hormone). South of the border, the FDA continues to insist that the chemical does not leach into products. (Globe and Mail)
Peeling away: Banana giant Chiquita - which, when it was the United Fruit Company, was implicated in the overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Guatemala - acknowledges that it paid Colombian right-wing paramilitary groups operating in the vicinity of its Colombian plant, but claims it had nothing to do with the massacres, drug sales, and arms smuggling the paramilitaries then carried out in the region. A wrongful death suit brought against Chiquita by 600 Colombians would be the largest claim of its kind in history if the plaintiffs won. Chiquita is seeking the case's dismissal. (Washington Post)
Concentrate on this: New York state Senator Darrel Aubertine introduces legislation that would "make milk a more attractive ingredient to dairy processors." Thought dairy was made from milk? So did we, but it turns out that many dairy processors have begun replacing the real stuff with something called Milk Protein Concentrates (MPCs), the dried left-overs from milk produced in other countries (and often from animals other than cows). It's super cheap, but Aubertine says it's the last thing we need right now, as U.S. dairymen and women struggle to stay afloat in a sea of milk they have no market for. We'd add that MPCs sound absolutely disgusting. (NY Senate Press Release; thanks, Jack!)
Urban 'homesteading' in the Plains: Urban gardeners and food preservers in Kansas City take up the skills of their forebears. (Kansas City Star)