Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.
Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.
Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch. (more…)
- The USDA has agreed to let four Chinese chicken processing companies begin to ship meat to the United States, sparking debate about food safety.
- Just seven months ago, thousands of American dogs either died or became sick after eating jerky treats with chicken from Chinese food processing plants.
- China, a country that has had outbreaks of avian flu in recent years, has a nightmarish track record with food manufacturing. Animals are mistreated and processed in filthy conditions, and just this summer a Chinese poultry plant caught fire and killed 120 people.
- As of now, China will only be allowed to process cooked meat from birds that were raised in the U.S. How does that make sense from an efficiency standpoint? The birds will be raised and cooked in the US, sent to China for processing, only to be shipped back again.
- Chinese chicken will not be labeled, so the next time you have a nugget or frozen chicken finger, it very well could have been made in a sketchy Chinese factory. That’s fowl play. (more…)
We have a lot of drama surrounding our food more so now than ever before. The news is littered with talk of pink slime, GMOs, organic, hormone-free, and local. And this is just the start of all the details we get caught up in regarding what we eat.
While these are serious issues to consider, a little perspective makes me happy that these are my most common food concerns. In China, people deal with so many issues of contamination and unsanitary cooking conditions that they have gone so far as to raise McDonald’s on a pedestal. In fact, the Chinese see McDonald’s as a trusted, safe and healthy food option.
Shaun Rein is the founder of China Market Research, and recently spoke to NPR about this perspective contrast. In America, McDonald’s really gets a bad rap. We blame them on contributing to childhood and adult obesity. We accuse them of using highly processed “nearly meat” products. All around, Americans tend to believe McDonald’s is unhealthy. But that’s not the case in China; not at all. The Chinese trust the American and Western brands far more than their own and feel that they are safest. (more…)
Processed foods have been taken to an entirely new level in the Chinese town of Taiyuan. It seems that a mad scientist-like blend of potatoes and plastic resin is being used to create a synthetic rice. The fake rice is created by forming potatoes and sweet potatoes into the shape of a grain of rice and then covering it in industrial resins. Very Vietnam says, “eating three bowls of this fake rice would be like eating one plastic bag.” Just a few of the words that come to mind: inhumane, unjust, intolerable.
An investigation of the companies suspected of producing the fake rice is expected but until then, their profit margins are climbing higher and higher. Consumption of the fake rice may have highly dangerous effects but the cost is so tremendously low that it continues to sell.
Despite a burgeoning economy, food safety problems continue to plague Chinese markets. Dairy products, wine, bean curd, rice noodles, mushrooms and cooking oil have all recently presented problems, leading more and more Chinese consumers to join and start collective organic farms. These farms operate under the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model we are familiar with in the states, regularly delivering members fresh, seasonal produce.
Although the Chinese government has promised more transparency, better inspections and harsher penalties for violations, 70 percent of citizens still feel insecure about food safety. Even some government agencies have turned to growing their own food to avoid problems.
A typical 3-year-old weighs about 30 pounds. Xiao Hao, a three-year-old child from Guangzhou in South China, weighs 110 pounds more than that. He was recently expelled from several preschools because he is considered a hazard to the health of the other students.
Doctors are divided on the cause of Xiao Hao’s size. Many feel that he has a metabolic disorder, while others seem to think that he is a victim of so-called “Little Emperor” syndrome, an affect of the one child policy currently under law in China. They feel that the only child is a spoiled child and that Hao has been pampered, literally, almost to death. (more…)
Some people will go to great lengths to lose weight. Some, more than others. As in, to the other side of the planet!
Three American men made the unusual decision to move to China in an attempt to shed weight at a fat-reduction clinic. In the process, they have become surprise local celebrities.
“The reason why I think it works here is that China is away from everything, all the stuff that I’m familiar with,” said Alonzo Bland, 33. He and brothers Walt and David Anderson, 56 and 50, have lived in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin since the middle of this year. (more…)
We have been exporting jobs to the Far East for years, while importing many goods as well. Unfortunately for China, they are importing one of our bad habits: Obesity. As Eastern countries continue to shift their economies towards capitalist consumerist models, their waistlines are paying the price.
More than a quarter of the adult population in China is overweight or obese. Only Mexico is growing their waistlines faster among developing countries.
Researchers blame changes in the Chinese diet, which is now including more eggs and meat and fewer vegetables and carbohydrates, and a shift away from physically demanding farm jobs to the sedentary service work sector.
If it continues to get worse, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the government does. It could be heavy-handed, given their approach to limiting family sizes.