Earth Talk: Over-Fortified Processed Foods

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that much of our food—including cereals and snacks eaten by children—is actually over-fortified with excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals that can be dangerous to our health? – Diane S.

Added nutrients in the processed foods we eat could indeed be too much of a good thing, especially for kids. According to a report from non-profit health research and advocacy group Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly half of American kids aged eight and under “consume potentially harmful amounts of vitamin A, zinc and niacin because of excessive food fortification, outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing tactics used by food manufacturers.” EWG’s analysis for the “How Much Is Too Much?” report focused on two frequently fortified food categories: breakfast cereals and snack bars.

 

Of the 1,550 common cereals studied by EWG, 114 (including Total Raisin Bran, Wheaties Fuel, Cocoa Krispies, Krave and others) were fortified with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value for vitamin A, zinc and/or niacin. And 27 of 1,000 brands of snack bars studied (including Balance, Kind and Marathon bars) were fortified with 50 percent or more of the adult Daily Value for at least one of these nutrients. EWG researchers based their analysis on Nutrition Facts labels on the various food items’ packaging.

 

“Heavily fortified foods may sound like a good thing, but it when it comes to children and pregnant women, excessive exposure to high nutrient levels could actually cause short or long-term health problems,” says EWG research director Renee Sharp, who co-authored the report.  “Manufacturers use vitamin and mineral fortification to sell their products, adding amounts in excess of what people need and more than might be prudent for young children to consume.”

 

Sharp adds that excessive levels of vitamin A can lead to skeletal abnormalities, liver damage and hair loss, while high doses of zinc can impede copper absorption, compromise red and white blood cells and impair immune function. Also, too much vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to fetal developmental issues. And older adults who get too much vitamin A are at more risk for osteoporosis and hip fractures.

 

EWG suggests it’s time to overhaul our food labeling system to better account for how ingredients may affect children as well as adults. “In other words, when a parent picks up a box of cereal and sees that one serving provides 50 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A, he or she may think that it provides 50 percent of a child’s recommended intake,” says EWG researcher and report co-author Olga Naidenko. “But he or she would most likely be wrong, since the Daily Values are based on an adult’s dietary needs.”

 

EWG is working on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update its guidelines for Nutrition Facts to better reflect how foods affect children as well as adults. In the meantime, parents might want to consider scaling back on fortified foods for their kids in favor of so-called whole foods (unprocessed, unrefined fruits, vegetables and whole grains) that deliver the right amounts of nutrients naturally.

 

“Research consistently shows that the nutrient amounts and types found in whole foods provide optimal nutrition as well as least risk,” says Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian and a former ad executive for kid’s cereals and snack bars. “We owe it to parents and kids to make it easiest to choose better quality foods.”

 

CONTACT: EWG’s “How Much Is Too Much?” report, www.ewg.org/research/how-much-is-too-much.

 

 

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 



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Aug 21,2014: Co-Ed Flag Football on the Beach

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Aug 20,2014: Soulmedic

Reggae singer/songwriter Soulmedic hails from Northern California and the Big Island of Hawaii forwarding potent reggae and dancehall music. Soulmedic delivers vocal versatility and songs of inspiration rooted firm in truth and rights. Known for energetic stage shows, uplifting the massive with the message of love and unity, Soulmedic continues to progress musical limits with original styles and a powerful voice, inspiring positive living and social change. In recent years Soulmedic has released 3 albums, 1 demo, hosted 2 dj mix cds and has four featured singles on compilations.

In summer 2008 Soulmedic charted high on the CMJ radio charts with the release- “Soul Medication”. Medic is part of a crew of talented, established artists known as The Lion Camp including Ishi Dube, Jah Sun, Rocker T, Winstrong and more. Expect to see quality compilations, tours and future projects from this solid team of musical talent.

“Soul Medication” is Soulmedic’s current album with production and mixing overseen by Latin Grammy nominee, Big Chris of Moodswing Records. Thunderous dancehall tracks to modern roots classics, “Soul Medication”‘s quality production is credited to the 13 producers of the 20 heated tracks including Big Chris of Moodswing Records (part owned by Cedric the Entertainer), Dj Flash (producer for Ruthless Records, Dr Dre and Ice T), Itation Records (producer for Sizzla, Tony Rebel, Wayne Wonder), Higher Bound productions (producer for Midnite), Batch, Andrew “Bassie” Campbell and more. Soul Medication is a journey through musical style and life experience. Featured artists on “Soul Medication include Studio One great, General Smiley, Jahworks the Revolutionary, Ishence, Soulifted, and Ras Attitude.

Being the change you want to see in the world and strength of unity are some of Medic’s most echoed messages. As a father of 3 children, Soulmedic remains progressive and on the grind with “world wide musical healing as the goal”.

Soulmedic’s music is distributed by Ernie B’s Reggae, I.D.C., Super D and more and is available on the web at www.itunes.com, www.cdbaby.com/soulmedic3, and www.myspace.com/soulmedic. Check out www.myspace.com/soulmedic for music, videos, tour info, and more.



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Aug 19,2014: Beach Volleyball – Beginner – Beach Volleyball – Beginner

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Aug 18,2014: Art Adventure

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Aug 17,2014: Tim Moyer

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AmericanTown’s Heroes: The American Legion Helps Veterans Connect With Benefits

Just being able to speak with someone about their problems and issues brought satisfaction to some who came to The American Legion’s Veteran’s Crisis Center (VCCC) week-long event. The VCCC was set up specifically to help Veterans navigate the VA health care system and connect with reps from the VA who can get them started on their claims and set them up with appointments.

The Legion recently launched the new program and although the numbers of Veterans turning out at each location has not been huge, the need of those individuals has been great. At recents events in St. Louis, MO and Fort Collins, CO, the numbers were 178 and 119 respectively.

Read more The American Legion Helps Veterans Connect With Benefits.



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Rooftops Newsletter: The Paradox Between Hunger and Food Waste

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Earth Talk: Are Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Still a Viable Green Option?

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that fuel cell cars aren’t really any greener than conventional gas-powered internal combustion cars?                                           – Michelle A.

 

 

A decade ago cars powered by fuel cells seemed like the future of green automotive travel, but many analysts now think otherwise.

 

These futuristic cars run on hydrogen fuel and emit only heat and water vapor. Their engines mix hydrogen, stored on-board in fuel tanks much like gas tanks, with oxygen in the air to produce electricity that powers the drive train. Environmentalists love the idea of fuel cell cars given their lack of greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on a renewable fuel that can be produced domestically.

 

Despite these benefits, fuel cell cars have not caught on and skeptics wonder if they ever will. One big hurdle is that creating hydrogen fuel turns out to be highly inefficient compared to other readily available fuels. According to Richard Gilbert, co-author of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, the creation of hydrogen gas uses about half the energy it creates. Half of this resulting energy then goes to the conversion of hydrogen back into electricity within fuel cells. The result is that “only a quarter of the initially available energy reaches the electric motor.” In fact, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles’ efficiency varies between 18 and 20 percent, while battery electric vehicles have 77-80 percent efficiency.

 

Not only are fuel cells less efficient than internal combustion engines, their implementation on a wide scale would create enormous infrastructure costs. New infrastructure would be required from “wells to wheels.” Also, fuel cell motors wear out five times faster than internal combustion engines, thereby resulting in a shorter car life and more maintenance. Hydrogen’s small size and extreme reactivity results in brittle metal and engines prone to leaking, which reduces both environmental and practical benefits.

 

But many still consider fuel cell cars a viable option. “Hydrogen is the key to sustainable transportation because it can be produced in virtually unlimited quantities from renewable resources and because its use is nearly pollution-free,” says the non-profit INFORM. A significant financial commitment to hydrogen research, says the group, could result in a variety of vehicles fueled by hydrogen that perform as well or better than gasoline vehicles,  with a fraction of the environmental impact.

 

INFORM adds that transitioning to hydrogen could be achieved without new federal dollars if we reallocate funds within the national energy program from nuclear and fossil fuels. “The opportunities for innovation and economic growth in hydrogen energy are largely untapped, and many nations are working to establish an early position in this fledgling field.” According to INFORM, Germany and Japan are far ahead of the U.S. in hydrogen development. The group would like to see U.S. policymakers encourage more development of fuel cells so we have options open in a fast-transitioning energy future.

 

Meanwhile, sales of battery electric and hybrid vehicles continue to soar—rising 228 percent in 2013 alone. There are currently no new fuel cell vehicles for sale at American auto dealers, although Honda has hinted that it could have its FCX fuel cell engine ready for the mass market by 2018.

 

CONTACTS: INFORM, www.informinc.org/; Honda FCX, http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/.

 

 

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 



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Aug 16,2014: Hermosa Beach Farmers Market

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Location: 11th Street, 1035 Valley Dr., Hermosa Beach, 90254



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