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Recipes From a Box: The Price of Minute Rice September 22, 2009

Rice in sixty seconds?  You’ve got to be kidding – well, yes, really it takes fifteen minutes, but who’s really counting?  (Besides me apparently…)  But, still, who could complain about being able to whip up a serving or two of whole grain rice in anything less than 40 minutes? (Again, besides me…).  The truth is, rice that cooks so fast has been processed – sometimes the grain of the rice is even cut open, requiring a re-enrichment of the grain to make up for the loss of the fiber and mineral-rich outer “shell”.

Processed foods come with many hidden costs, those to the environment and our health being the most outstanding.  That being said, I would be incredibly remiss to not mention the most obvious, unhidden cost of processed foods: the added monetary costs.  Compared to a bag of plain brown rice, the cost of pre-cooked rice in a box (or in individual plastic bags, yikes!) is significant.  The recipe below is for a box of enriched rice, which is doubly effective at lightening your schedule and your billfold.

Where Your Processed Food Dollars Go

Where Your Processed Food Dollars Go

INGREDIENTS: Enriched Precooked Long Grain Rice [Rice, Niacin, Iron (Ferric Orthophosphate), Thiamin (Thiamin Mononitrate), Folic Acid]

PROCEDURE:

1. Process and De-Healthify Rice. Several brands of quick-cooking rice split the rice in order to make it cook faster, meaning all the “slow” parts of the rice – which are also most of the nutritious parts – are taken out.  Also, white rice is commonly used, which is also a less nutrient and mineral rich option, compared to whole brown rice.  The rice is cooked, then dehydrated, so that in essence when it is cooked again, it is really just a rehydration process.  This process is energy-intensive, and thus, costly.

2. Re-fortify the Rice. Lucky for all of us, the USDA has determined that these processed rice products still must retain a complete set of the required minerals… so they are processed back in.  So far, a simple, whole food, complete with its nutriontional integrity intact, has undergone two compositional modifications.  That’s not economical, or efficient, folks.

3. Box the Rice (with optional added flavoring). Of course, the packaging not only creates serious waste, it also costs more.  When you buy rice in bulk, it doesn’t have to be individually contained.  However, these rie boxes (and even more so when it’s already divided up into individual serving bags) add a significant expense to the final retail price of the product.

4. Convince People Cooking Rice is a hassle. In the United States, everyone knows that time is money.  This saying now applies to the kitchen:  saving yourself twenty minutes costs you a pretty penny.  Unfortunately, as you can see by looking at the divided dollar image above, the farmer is not the person collecting this extra penny: it’s the multi-billion dollar food processing industry.

5. Entertain yourself for 15 minutes while the rice rehydrates. I propose putting some pre-cut, pre-sauced vegetables found in the freezer into the microwave for the last three minutes, so you can have a complete meal.  Too bad the extra cost of the food cut into your wine budget…

EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX: Take the extra twenty minutes to cook brown rice and enjoy the benefits of a complete grain, and make some extra to try homemade minute rice (also great for camping!).

 

Recipes From a Box: The Secret in Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins September 14, 2009

Credit: media.photobucket.com

Credit: media.photobucket.com

Chocolate Chocolate Chip :  A pre-fix that sounds magical all on its own,  even without the usual endings – cake, cookies, and my personal favorite, the muffins.  I mean, compared to regular old chocolate chip, it’s like, twice as good – right?  It’s simple mathematics, really – although I’d argue that twice the chocolate could even make them exponentially better, not just a basic doubling.  But really, that’s neither here nor there – the chocolate is good, twice the chocolate is even better – and since it’s mostly produced in other countries by people working for little more than slave wages, it’s not too expensive either.

The truth of the matter is, chocolate may taste delicious, but the industry that turns raw cacoa beans grown oceans away from the United States into the rich, butter chocolate bars we buy – and bake into muffins with chips – is little more than colonialism through trade policies, AKA: neoliberal free trade markets.  Countries with emerging economies that produce raw cocoa have been exploited for their products for centuries, while the colonizing Europeans made money hand over fist selling the finished chocolate products.  Unfortunately, as globalization has increased, these policies have only continued these economic disparities.
The muffin recipe below is loaded with chocolate (and unhealthy fats and calories to boot) brought to us through this unfair trade system:
INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Enriched Bleached Flour (Bleached Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Eggs, Soybean Oil, Water, Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin [an emulsifier], Vanilla), Food Starch – Modified. Contains 2% or less of the following: Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Soy Flour, Whey, Salt, Potassium Sorbate as a preservative, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Sulfate, Lecithin.
PROCEDURE:
1. Find a cacoa plantation. Cacao (or cocoa) plants are typically grown in large plantations, often displacing swaths of rain forests and smaller, traditional fields.  Soil erosion, nutrient loss, and rapid rates of deforestation are just a few side effects of the large scale cocoa production supported by conventional chocolate consumption.

2. Find labor. While in ‘developed’ countries kids commonly pull chocolate treats out of their lunchboxes, in ‘developing’ countries young children are often slaves in the cocoa fields – not that their parents or adults make much better wages.  Few cocoa farmers still own the land or plants they harvest, the industry is reliant on the industrial – and often foreign – management of large plantations worked by locals for very small wages picking the raw cacao beans.

Credit: treehugger.com

Credit: treehugger.com

3. Take the raw cacao oh so cheaply to process and sell. When transnational corporations purchase the raw cocoa beans, they pay incredibly low prices.  The price we pay for chocolate is hardly seen by the producers; instead, it is the food processors and packagers – often multibillion dollar corporations, including Nestle and Hershey’s – are pulling in the big bucks.

4. Bake into muffins with other gross stuff. While the secret story behind the creation of chocolate is tragic enough, this muffin recipe calls for a little more awful – with ingredients like modified food starch, enriched bleached flour, and a handful of artificial flavors.
EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX: Make your own secret chocolate chocolate chip muffins with half the fat and calories (shh! there are vegetables in them….). Plus, by using chocolate from fair trade cooperatives, you can avoid supporting neoliberal trade policies and your sweet tooth with one tasty treat.
 

Recipes From a Box: Cheesy Tetraziney September 9, 2009

Processed Sliced Cheese (Credit: www.answers.com)

Processed Sliced Cheese (Credit: http://www.answers.com)

When I was a younger, if you had told me cheese wasn’t supposed to be orange or yellow, I would have told you you were crazy.  All the cheese I knew – the kind that comes out of a long rectangle encased in foil, the kind that you open in single sheets between two thin layers of plastic, and the kind that comes powdered that you mix with milk to put on noodles – all of the cheese I knew was yellowish orange.  I’m sure I even refused to eat cheesy dishes that didn’t have the appropriate color, except of course that white parmesan powder I ate on my “puh-sgetti”.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that ooey-gooey layer in my grilled cheese “sammiches” didn’t always have the glow of an orange crayon.  Although food coloring has been done for centuries, now that food scientists in labs have isolated the compounds in plants, dirt, and even insects, artificial reproductions of natural coloring compounds are abundant in the food system.  The recipe below, for that plastic-wrapped American “cheese product” populating lunchboxes across the nation, includes three separate coloring agents to make a simple white cheese a more edible yellowy hue:

INGREDIENTS: [cheddar cheese, [milk]], whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, calcium phosphate, sodium citrate, whey protein concentrate, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid as a preservative, apocarotenal (color),annatto (color), enzymes, vitamin D3, cheese culture,yellow dye.

PROCEDURE:

1. It all starts with cultured milk. Most milk in processed products are the result of the conventional dairy industry, complete with antibiotics, feedlots, and artificial growth hormones.  This milk is cultured using a specific bacteria blend, to create any variety of cheese.  Today, American cheese no longer meets the FDA’s definition of a real cheese, and is therefore labeled as a “cheese product”.

2. Color me happy. Way back when nearly all farms were mixed grain and animal operations, farmers used to sell their excess milk and eggs alongside their wheat and corn.  Since their animals were all free range and grass-fed, the cow’s milk would look more golden during the summer months when they were munching on more fresh grass – which contain carotenes, like the beta carotene that makes carrots orange.  Most of this color would be skimmed off in the butter making process – as, like harsh chemicals and pesticides today, it is most concentrated in the milkfat – thus, savvy consumers would avoid a “skimmed”, and also whiter, cheese.  Farmers used a variety of natural plant dyes to make the cheese they sold retain a more goldeny color – so even from the start the dyes were used to deceive: today they are used to make product look fresher, play with our psychological tendency towards oranges and reds as food sources, and meet a consumer standard that was created by cheese marketers in recent decades.

Artificial Food Dyes (Credit: www.science-news.org)

Artificial Food Dyes (Credit: http://www.science-news.org)

3. A little more. Many of the dyes used in food products come from natural sources.  Annatto – an extract from the seeds of the Bixa Orella tree – was used by Native Americans to dye foods and clothing, and is now used to help color American cheese slices.  Similarly, apocarotenal is a member of the carotene family (again, think carrots), and has a natural source.  However, the compounds responsible for the color in these “natural” pigments has been isolated, replicated, and patented – on sale at a lab (or dairy aisle) near you.

4. And a little more. Of even more concern is the seemingly benign (and at least recognizable) ingredient “yellow food dye”.  The outbreak of inexplicable allergic reactions to a wide variety of foods – and even increases in behavioral disorders such as ADHD – led researchers to begin thinking about food additives as a source.  Sure enough, a link was found between artificial food colorings – especially a yellow dye (AKA: Tetrazine) – and increased food allergies, especially among young children.

5. Wrap it up. These rubbery, orange sheets are pressed between two layers of plastic, then wrapped in a colored plastic container, and shipped to stores around the globe.  If the preservatives won’t keep the cheese fresh long enough, the artificial colors will keep anyone from being able to tell.

EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX: Using one same simple start, learn how to make creamy homemade ricotta and a solid Indian paneer.

 

Recipes from a Box: Long-Distance ‘Maters September 2, 2009

As you walk into the grocery store, the vegetables and fruits from across the globe are waxed and shined to greet your shopping cart.  With apples from Fuji and tomatoes from Chile, the produce department can remain unchanged regardless of the season – time, temperature, and weather only determine the country of origin.

This food system is completely dependant on petroleum: it fertilizes and protects the produce from pests and weeds as it grows, it fuels the trucks, planes, and boats that bring the produce from all reaches of the globe to our tables, it refrigerates the produce as it is transported and as it sits on the shelves of the store until we set it in our baskets, and it likely is how we drive the food to our homes once we leave the store.  The long distances traversed by the produce we buy has its downsides – for the environment, for our health, and for our tastebuds.

One of the most obvious flavor and quality differences can be found in a simple red tomato.  Watery and tasteless, grocery store tomatoes are no match for the juicy, colorful tomatoes for sale at a local farmers’ market.  The following is the recipe for a standard grocery store tomato, bought in the winter off-season.

INGREDIENTS: Tomatoes, Methyl Bromide, Chloropicrin, Ethylene Gas.

PROCEDURE:

1. Grow massive fields of tomatoes. Tomatoes love heat, sun, and water – which, unfortunately, so do many pests and weeds.  In order to combat these less desirable competitors, a whole host of toxic fumigants are used to grow conventional tomatoes, including methyl bromide and chloropicrin.   These chemicals pollute nearby waterways and spread into the air, damaging the workers, neighboring communities, wildlife, and depleting the ozone.

Ripening Rooms

Ripening Rooms

2. Pick ‘em green – but not for frying. In order to make the long trek from the field to the store, tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe.  Tomatoes are treated with ethylene gas to mimic the natural ripening process, saving time and money but costing flavor and quality in the process.  One of the typical ripening rooms is shown to the left.

3. Sort and Package. Machines and conveyor belts – which cut the human labor costs of tomato production significantly – sort, box, wrap, and label the tomatoes.  They are packed into trucks, airplanes, and boats and sent around the world.

4. Bon Voyage! Trucks pull out from the distribution warehouses and travel around the country, leaving boxes of chemically-ripened tomatoes at the grocery stores as they go: the average tomato – and most food in general – travels around 1500 miles from the farm before it reaches a dinner table.

5. Take them home for a (watery) treat. Customers pick up the tomatoes at the grocery story, looking for a juicy

Tomato Sorter

Tomato Sorter

tomato with it’s high count of Vitamin C and the powerful antioxidant lycopene.  Unfortunately, these well-traveled tomatoes are likely not as nutrient-rich as the ones available from a local farmstand.

Eat outside the box!  Shop your local farmers’ market to find some unique heirloom tomato varieties not available in stores to make a Multi-Colored Heirloom Gazpacho soup!

 

Recipes From a Box: Hypertension Noodle Soup August 29, 2009

Don’t we all just love to cozy up on a cold winter’s day – or a crazy cool late August day here in Northeast Kansas (!) – with a warm bowl of soup?  Nothing else really hits the spot the way a bowl of chicken and noodles or cream and tomatoes can.  Even a sweet, televised snowman can’t resist the wafting fragrance, slurping down a warm bowl of broth to his own peril. Nowadays, canned soups make for a quick, light meal – and a dish in a microwave for 2 1/2 minutes won’t provide that wafting aroma that attracts melty, suicidal balls of walking snow to your doorstep.

Before you eagerly head out to grab a can of soup, you should consider one tiny little mineral that makes a big difference to your heart’s health: salt.  In the United States, processed foods account for three-quarters of our daily sodium intake, and often puts us well over our daily recommended amount.  Canned soup – and if you are using canned broths for recipes – often means that in a single serving, you are slurping down nearly 50% of your maximum salt allotment for an entire day.

Following is a recipe for a sodium-laden canned chicken broth, with salt ranking third on the ingredient list directly behind “chicken flavor”:

swanson brothINGREDIENTS: Chicken Stock, Chicken Flavor (Maltodextrin, Water, Dextrose, Salt, Chicken Flavor [Chicken Stock, Salt, Enzymes]Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Chicken Fat, Modified Food Starch, Ascorbic Acid, Sugar, Rosemary Extract)Salt, Dextrose, Spice Extract, Carrots, Celery, Flavoring, Onions. Water, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid.

PROCEDURE:

1. Raise, slaughter, and process millions of chickens without letting them see the sun once. The horrors of the modern, conventional chicken industry are too many to cover in this blog (but fear not, it will be discussed shortly!).  To make a long, gruesome story short (and PG), chickens these days are raised in long, sunless houses where they are packed so tightly they can hardly move.  Their short lives are spent eating grain (and nothing else, like tasty bugs or greens) and becoming morbidly obese before they are killed in a factory, processed into their parts, and packaged for sale across the country.  The creation of chicken stock is, never fear, a highly scientific process, where studies have been done to see what leftover parts of the chicken – after the more valuable pieces have been removed and processed – make a broth decent enough to sell.  In other words, the broth sold in cans is nothing more than a by-product that has been scientifically reduced in quality to the lowest tolerable point.

2. Add water and fake chicken flavor. This liquid by-product is then thinned with water to remain a cost-effective by-product, if not a tasty one.  The flavor of the broth really comes from the “chicken flavor” (which I thought chicken broth was supposed to be, by definition, but who am I to say?) which is primarily salt, sugar, and an assortment of artificial extracts that mimic the real chicken flavor the broth itself does not contain.

3. Add salt to cover up the fakeness. The third, and arguably most important, ingredient in this recipe is the salt.  Salt brings out flavors, and since this broth contains so few of them, it is imperative that a high level of sodium be maintained to keep the missing tastes of real chicken and vegetables from being noticed.  So important is salt to the processed food industry, the Salt Institute was created to lobby on behalf of the salt and processed food industries.  This group has played an important role in creating a so-called fog of confusion around the true health links between sodium intake, blood pressure levels, and risk of atherosclerosis.  A quick perusal of the Salt Institute’s website will make you feel as if eating more salt is the same as finding the Fountain of Youth.

4. Preserve the freshness of the fakeness. Salt is a natural preservative – and this broth contains a high enough concentration of sodium to be considered more of a brine than a broth – yet the standard list of corn and petroleum-based preservatives are added just to be safe…. for approximately twenty-odd years or so.

5.  Can it, label it, ship it, sell it. Canned soups have become a staple in many pantries, and canned broths can greatly reduce the amount of cooking time required for a (salty) gravy.  Plus, no one really has the natural fats from roasting a whole chicken to make gravy anymore – so instead the boneless white chicken breasts are baked and the by-product from their deboning is heated to create the sauce to put over them.  Mmm-mmm good.

EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX! Make your own homemade stock from leftover veggies and bones – the ultimate way to reduce your waste and you risk for heart disease with one easy recipe!

     

    Recipes From a Box: Trashy Granola Bars August 20, 2009

    As a young soccer player – you know, the age where the games are more like watching herds of children swarm after the elusive ball than a competition of one team against another – my favorite part of the game may well have been halftime.  The parents of my teammates all took turns bringing treats, so while I pretended to listen to my coach give us our strategic game plan (which, c’mon, how constructive could that have been for bunch of 4 year-olds?), I slurped my CapriSun and chowed down on some chocolate chip granola bars.  As the second half was about to begin, the whole team would venture to the trash can to toss out the plastic, chipboard, and aluminum that had encased our snacks.  Armed with a new game plan on how to more effectively chase the ball around the field and a full tummy, the amount of waste generated by our halftime routine was definitely not on my mind.

    In the United States, it’s easy not to think about trash: we put it into bins, then dump those into larger bins, then someone comes and makes it all go away.  According to the EPA, in 2006, ‘someone’ took away nearly 251 million tons of solid waste and put it in landfills across the country.  While recycling is important, the fact of the matter is that household waste only generates around 2% of those millions of tons, meaning that the other 98% is industrial and business waste: the trash made while the stuff we buy (and maybe recycle later) is being created, processed, and shipped to us. Food packaging waste is a big part of that 2% of municipal solid waste, and the waste created to process and send it to the grocery store is even more incredible.

    The recipe for a standard granola bar, individually packaged in an aluminum wrapper and packed 12 to a chipboard box, is as follows:

    INGREDIENTS: GRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, BROWN SUGAR, CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT], WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND COTTONSEED OILS* WITH TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL WITH NATURAL TOCOPHEROL ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS, DRIED COCONUT, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRY MILK), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA EXTRACT), CRISP RICE (RICE, SUGAR, SALT, BARLEY MALT), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL*, SORBITOL, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SALT, WATER, SOY LECITHIN, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, BHT (A PRESERVATIVE), CITRIC ACID.

    PROCEDURES:chewy-protein-pb-choc

    1. Bind oats with corn syrup and hydrogenated fats.  While the first ingredient specifies whole grain oats, the list quickly descends into a variety of processed fat and grain products.  Particularly of concern are the number of partially hydrogenated oils and corn-based fillers, sweeteners, and preservatives.  Sure, these bars are chewy, but do you really want to be chewing BHT and soy lecithin?

    2. Seal them in aluminum. Since these bars contain so many preservatives, you wouldn’t think that an individually-wrapped package would be necessary to preserve freshness.  Since so many breakfasts and snacks are eaten on the go – particularly in a car – the wrappers make living an on-the-go, what-does a-kitchen-table-look-like-i-forget-because-i-haven’t-seen-one-in-so-long lifestlye all the more convenient.  Plus, a significant portion of the cost of the food is actually going to this cute, shiny little wrapper.

    3. Pack them into chipboard. The individual bars are snugly – or not so snugly – fitted into chipboard boxes to make buying at least a dozen or so at a time your only option. That way, a kid can eat more than one bar on the way home, while looking at all the trees passing by the car window and – although it’s not likely – ponder how many of them it took to create the box holding the bars being eaten.

    4. Cover them with inks and health claims. Because whole rolled oats have been linked to cholesterol reduction, practically any food that has oats in their ingredient list now has a ‘heart healthy’ or ‘smart choice’ seal of approval – think of most breakfast cereals, oatmeal, and, of course, granola bars.  Despite the nine – count ’em, nine – sweeteners and three separate partially hydrogenated oils – proven to be very heart unhealthy – the low calorie count and inclusion of whole rolled oats makes these granola bars a “health food”.

    5. Send them around the globe. Thanks to their shelf stable packaging – these ones can sit on your shelves for at least six months and probably closer to ten years – cardboard boxes full of styrofoam shipping peanuts and chipboard boxed full of aluminum-wrapped processed fats and sugars can be halftime snacks for kids playing soccer games all around the globe.  Oh, joy!

    6. Eat at soccer games, or any other appropriate venue – although at this point, is there such a place?

    Eat outside the box: Prepare granola bars at home and save yourself from the packaging, not to mention the TBHQ (which is apparantly to scary to write out in words), partially hydrogenated oils (from at least 3 different plants), and various smattering of corn products (including your all-time favorites, high fructose corn syrup and modified corn solids).  Also included are tips on buying the ingredients in bulk, so you don’t replace one box and wrapper for another.

    Nestle, Marion. Food Politics. University of California Press, Berkely: 2007.

     

    Recipes From a Box: Yogurt on Drugs August 18, 2009

    Filed under: Recipes From a Box — Jennifer Kongs @ 10:14 pm
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Who doesn’t wish that all healthy foods were as easy to eat as yogurt in a plastic tube?  Sweetened and in a variety of

    fruit flavors, ads show how kids don’t even have to get off their skateboards to enjoy yogurt anymore.  Long touted as an exemplary healthy food – chock full of vitamins, minerals, and recommended fats –  yogurt is also “alive”.  Cultured with various probiotic strains, including Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus and bifidobacteria, yogurt is a good digestive boost and immune system enhancer.  Depending on the type of milk used to make the yogurt, however, there could be other not-so-great microscopic bits kids are sucking down on the go.

    It is not too much of a stretch to claim antibiotics are the backbone of Western medicine.  They are commonly used to treat serious infections, fungal outbreaks, and even the common cold.  Nowadays, you can dose up on antibiotics each time you eat dairy – including yogurt, such as the one described in the recipe below:

    INGREDIENTS: Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Milk, Sugar, Nonfat Milk, high Frustose Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Tricalcium Phosphate, potassium Sorbate (To Maintain Freshness), Carrageenan, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Colored with Carmine.

    PROCEDURE:

    1. Cram thousands of cows into a small space.  Conventional dairy cows live in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), meaning a minimum of 700 cows are living in an unvegetated area – either in or outdoors – for a minimum of 45 days.  These cows spend most of their lives sick, pregnant, and walking around in a sludge of their own manure – it’s no wonder most of us have never seen a dairy operation: who would drink milk anymore?

    2. Feed them corn until they’re sick. Cows normally eat grass, but there isn’t enough to go around in a standard CAFO.  Instead, cows are fed corn (cheap thanks to government subsidies) that often makes them sick.  Cows have also typically been given artificial growth hormones to increase milk production, resulting in severe cases of mastitis among other serious illnesses.

    3. Shoot ’em up with meds so they don’t look sick. Instead of abandoning the practices that make the cows sick in the first place, antibiotics are routinely added to the dairy cows feed and antimicrobial shots are commonly administered.  These meds end up in our milk supply, and have been linked to consumer allergic reactions as well as the increased growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  It’s not unfathomable to say that those antibiotics the doctor prescribes may not do any good one day soon, due in part to the overuse of them in our milk and meat production systems.

    Dairy cow with Mastitis (Credit: advocacy.britannica.com)

    Dairy cow with Mastitis (Credit: advocacy.britannica.com)

    4. Milk them – even if they’re sick.  Enough said.

    5. Replace the natural probiotics with sugar and preservatives. Legally, milk can only be sold in most states if it has been pasteurized, a process required to kill the harmful bacteria the CAFO system has made common in most milk.  Thus, the natural enzymes and probiotics that naturally occur within the yogurt-making process must be artificially added in.  In the case of the above ingredient list, however, this was not done.  In essence, the “yogurt” in a tube – marketed mainly to young children – is processed milk enhanced by sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavorings, and preservatives.  None of these additions offer the enhanced digestive and immune benefits of true yogurt (although the additional antibiotics may be a good marketing point as a means of preventing infection).

    6. Seal it up in a plastic tube.  Like Space Food. Although there is too much to say here for this blog, it is worth mentioning that the incredible amount of packaging is also a serious environmental issue, not to mention the cultural issues with a food that encourages kids to eat on the go and away from the family table, or even the ethical issue of such an unhealthy product being directly marketed to children.  (Ah, but mom, look how cool it is – I can eat it AND play Nintendo at the same time!)

    Eat outside the box:  Buy organic or locally produced milk that is free of artificial hormones and antibiotics – or better yet, find a good farm nearby and switch to fresh raw, grass-fed milk – and make your own yogurt.  This yogurt recipe is super easy to make at home – and if you’re interested, read about milking the (antibiotic-free) goats who provided the milk!