Sunday, May 1, 2011

health halos

My favorite thing about Saturday morning (besides sleeping in, duh) is visiting the farmers’ market. I used to go to Soulard in St. Louis every weekend, I love my hometown’s market, and I’m slowly getting to know Ann Arbor’s market, too.

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I was joined by about 60 billion other hipsters this morning. You will seriously not find a bigger conglomeration of skinny jeans, crossbody bags, and Tom’s shoes in one location (unless you live in Portland).

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I have my favorite vendors in my hometown, and I’m glad the vendors here also don’t mind when I ask them questions like, “how are your chickens raised?” or “do you use pesticides on your plants?”

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And there is just something fantastic about interacting with the people who grow the food you buy. Grocery stores are so intangible, and sometimes I just really enjoy the relational aspect of letting farmers know I appreciate them by buying their produce.

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I really wish that a) I was good at growing plants and b) I had somewhere to grow them. I’d love to at least get a herb garden going, so I can have fresh basil and cilantro whenever this summer.

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Roos Roast Coffee is really good. I tried the Cowboy Blend last time and picked up Lobster Butter Love at this visit. Plus, I think their artsy bags are pretty awesome.

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I read a pretty interesting press release from the American Society of Nutrition recently talking about health halos or labels/characteristics of certain foods that cause people to think they are more healthful. A graduate student from Cornell found that people were more likely to perceive foods with an organic label as significantly lower in calories, lower in fat, and higher in fiber. Organically-labeled chips and cookies were considered to be more nutritious than their “non-organic” counterparts.

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This seems to suggest that people are interested in organic products or know there is some potential benefit to them but don’t fully understand the labeling term. And then you have the whole debate of organic vs. local. The other day, I noticed my organic cucumber was from Mexico; I wonder how many nutrients were left by the time it got to the US (and also about the carbon footprint…yikes). It seems to me that more education is needed.

And even if it has less preservatives or additives, an organic cookie is still a cookie…thoughts?

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19 comments:

  1. Gotta love farmers markets and hipsters :)

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  2. I agree, there is an over appreciation about organic food. Like organic cookie, does it mean healthy food? Not for me if its high in fat and sugar. Education is the key, no doubt.

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  3. Nice post em! I like cookies. They are a necessary part of life. I say make your own everything all the time. I also like your subtle declaration of being a hipster.

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  4. i totally forgot that farmer's markets are starting back up again! thanks for the reminder. i'm sure that they've been going on for awhile but i've been busy being a lazy bum on my saturdays haha!

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  5. I agree, people don't really know what "organic" means. I hear a lot of people say they can't taste a difference, so they don't buy organic. First of all, I actually can taste a difference in some organic items, vs their regular counterparts, but second, it's not necessarily about taste but about what I'm putting into my body! I think when you're talking about pesticides on produce, because it's hard to see, feel and taste, people don't entirely get it or trust in it.

    I also have had a few people not understand the difference between "all natural" and organic as well!

    That's part of why I'm trying to do some education via my blog for those new into the food scene. It's intimidating if you don't really know what those labels mean!

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  6. I totally agree! When I first started learning about nutrition and buying more organic produce my in laws started buying everything organic, including these animal crackers that were made with white flour and sugar. That isn't good for you, why would you buy it if it's organic or not? Not to mention they don't even taste good. Not to say I never eat cookies, but I make them myself from ingredients that I've chosen - not just whatever's in the package. How hard is that?
    I cannot wait for our farmers market. It starts soon :D

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  7. the debate between organic and local is very interesting and gets political. personally, i support the local over 'organic' when it comes to produce and such. i like to know where my food came from and like to support the small farmers trying to earn a living for themselves

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  8. I love hipsters! I'm like a wannabe-but-plays-classical-violin-hipster. ;)

    Anyway, have you read "Stuff White People Like"? So, sooo funny and this post made me think of it!

    Also, I guess local AND organic is of the always possible. Ugh, I don't know how to resolve them.
    And organic vs. conventional cookies? The way I see it, a cookie is still a treat. Eat them once in a while, in addition to a nutrient-dense diet and enjoy them. Plus, if you're working out, you're going to need some extra calories. And then I'd rather eat something without artifical chemicals/flavors/colors in it.

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  9. i love lobster butter love from roos roast!!! i used to grow basil and mint by my windowsill when i was living in ann arbor :). ahhhh i used to wake up extra early just to go to kerrytown!!

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  10. Farmer's markets always brighten up my weekends too! Especially when they have awesome samples. Haha and I agree- "a cookie is a cookie." If I'm having a treat though, I'd rather feel slightly better about it and I suppose the whole organic label does that!

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  11. I think our farmers markets have started already, but I'm not sure. I work on Saturday mornings, which is such a bummer :( I know there is one on Wednesday evenings, but now I work until 7pn on Wednesdays!! Ugh.

    Regarding the "health halos", ugh, you know my feelings! I just posted about this...and I have to deal with people at the store everyday who try to explain to me that organic is healthier. I try to hold back my thoughts...marshmallow bars aren't any better because they are organic!

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  12. Yes! The sugar content in "healthy" foods drives me crazy. I still have a hard time finding unsweetened or naturally sweetened items at stores serving people trying to eat healthier. But I think it's an interesting journey.

    Beautiful shots of the market!

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  13. Haha, love the hipster comment. I hear this over and over from people too...that they think that "all natural" or "organic" cookies are healthier for them. I love Newman's O's by the way, but not because I think they are better for me :)

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  14. I definitely think anything can be labeled 'organic' and people will assume it's healthier! Sure, cookies aren't going to kill you in moderation, but I think it's funny that people think they're so much healthier if they're organic!

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  15. I love farmers' markets!

    I think it's too bad that many people confuse organic with "lower calorie." I do think organic cookies can be "healthier" if they contain fewer preservatives and "weird" ingredients, but they usually contain the same amount of calories, so obviously they are a treat.

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  16. I'm all about organic and local foods too and absolutely LOVE going to the farmers market!! Fortunately for me, mine opens up TOMORROW! YAYY!! (I know, we're crazy because we have market day on a tuesday!) and are those dog bones next to the bread in your one photo? that is too cool if they are!

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  17. organic junk food is still junk food; it just has chemical crap taken out (if you get my lingo)

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  18. I love this topic because this one gets my blood boiling. I had a mother swear her kid ate so healthy and upon review of the diet discovered they were obese because they were eating organic chicken nuggets, pizza, cookies, and other generally high fat foods. I love the term health halo and I think this is a big problem. I am much happier with local than I am with organic. It is possible that the local farmer is organic too, but doesn't get the labels on their product. I would rather wash my produce than know it travelled so far. However, i will say that from time to time I find it cool to get a pear, let's say from South Africa (because I did that the other day) because I just wanted to know what it tasted like. It was really good, but I don't need to buy produce from so far away because that is way more pollution from the exhaust than I care to think about. I love that I get local eggs and dairy here. Almost all meat is grass fed because they naturally put the cows out in the field and most is done by local farmers/butchers. I will miss the experience when we are gone, but I am thankful for it. I know Japan will have a lot to offer us to when we move this summer.

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  19. First, you should totally visit a Farmer's market in Minneapolis some time. Hipsters as far as the eye can see.

    Second, I'm always really irritated when I have the choice of conventional produce grown in the US vs. organic grown in South America. Our farmer's market is open, but there isn't a ton of local produce available yet. I end up buying a lot of it in stores until the end of May. Occasionally I just have to make piece with conventional food that didn't come from Peru and wait it out until the local food growers have what I need. :)

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