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    Archive for February, 2012

    Q&A Roundup #3

    Here are some more questions I have received from Small Bites readers over the past few weeks. Enjoy!

    If you would like to submit a question for these round-ups, you can do so via e-mail, Twitter, or the Small Bites’ Facebook page wall.

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    Come and Get Your Sea Vegetables

    I have often said that sea vegetables are criminally underrated. Like their terrestrial brethren, they offer significant nutrition, but sea vegetables also provide the same omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (where else do you think fish get their omega 3s from?).

    A few months ago, I came across SeaSnax, a roasted seaweed snack cooked in olive oil (most varieties contain sesame oil; while not a terrible oil, it lacks the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats of olive oil).

    Available in plain, onion, chipotle, and wasabi flavors, this is a delicious, crunchy, GMO-free snack (or a great addition to soups and salads) with a simple ingredient list.

    Since I love to share my must-have staples, here is your chance to win a case. One winner will get a choice of a dozen Grab & Go’s (any flavor) or 4 packs of full sheet singles (any flavor).

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    Mars, Inc.’s Deceptive & Self-Congratulatory “Downsizing”

    Candy bar manufacturer Mars, Inc. made news this week following an announcement that by the end of 2013, none of its candy bars would surpass the 250-calorie mark (a regular-sized Snickers bar currently clocks in at 280).

    The general response by many in the health and nutrition community was a positive one. Certainly, taking away a 540-calorie king-size Snickers as an option is a good thing (after all, why buy the “regular” size if, for just a few more cents, you could have one almost twice as large, right?).

    I, however, see this as nothing more than tried-and-true Big Food spin.

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    Big Dairy’s Latest Smear Tactic

    There was a time, not too long ago, when one’s milk options were relegated to different varieties of cow’s milk (i.e.: full-fat, reduced-fat, skim, lactose-free).

    Times have changed. Soy was the first plant milk to “go mainstream” in the mid 1990s, and now multiple varieties are on supermarket shelves, including almond, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice, and sunflower seed.

    Much like an only child who is the center of attention until a sibling comes along, Big Dairy has started to lash out. “Alternative milks” are no longer relegated to the vegan world; vegetarians and omnivores also purchase and consume plant-based milks. Bad news for Big Dairy (AKA The California Milk Processor Board).

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    The Handy Dandy Cooking Oil Comparison Chart

    A few weeks ago, Andrew Wilder of the Eating Rules blog asked me if I wanted to help build a cooking oil comparison chart that would help people make sense of the wide array of choices. The topic of cooking oils is one I am very passionate about, so I gladly jumped at the chance.

    The chart — a real visual treat! — can be downloaded here, but I encourage you to read this blog post first, as it explains the science behind the results (and contains some very important FYIs).

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    Q &A Roundup #2

    Another compilation of thoughtful questions courtesy of Small Bites readers. Enjoy!

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    Rise of the Healthwashed Vending Machines

    I’ve seen a glimpse of the future — and it frightens me. Behold “H.U.M.A.N healthy vending”machines. You know, H.U.M.A.N as in “Helping Unite Man And Nutrition”?

    The company, which has received praise from the likes of Forbes, bills itself as “a healthy vending company whose mission is to eradicate childhood obesity through education and healthy eating”.

    Their commitment? “To increase access to healthy and fresh vending snacks, foods, and drinks”. They also donate ten percent of their proceeds to unnamed charities that “fight obesity and malnutrition”.

    Progressive and paradigm-shifting? Far from it. This is tried-and-true healthwashing with a sprinkle of social conscience-washing.

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    Big Dairy’s Idea of Fun and Games

    Big Dairy – more specifically, the Milk Processors Education Program – has a hefty advertising budget. Roughly $70 million a year, to be quasi-exact.

    Most people are familiar with their “Got Milk?” campaign, but largely unaware of “Get The Glass”, their ‘advergaming’/'edutainment” online interactive adventure (which, from the looks of it, was certainly not produced on a shoestring budget).

    I came across the game this past weekend, but “Get The Glass” has been around since 2007. At the time, Steve James, Director of the California Milk Processing Board, explained:

    “We want people to imagine what it would be like if milk really was this scarce and how that would change the way we think about it.”

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