Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Topics Other Than Skin - Nature Valley Oats and Honey Bars

Yesterday morning I was invited to a breakfast meeting of sorts. Laying on the conference room table was a Nature Valley Crunchy Oats 'n Honey Granola bar. Curious I picked it up to read the label. As you can see listed above it read "whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, yellow corn flour, honey, soy,brown sugar syrup, salt, soy lecithin, baking soda and natural flavors'. While there a few too many sweeteners for my taste what sent up a red flag for me was CANOLA oil with my concerns for the source of corn flour, soy and oats running a tight second. (I will cover honey, bees and soy in future posts). Why Canola oil you may ask?

What is Canola Oil and Why Does It Matter?
Canola stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid and is derived from the rapeseed flower pictured above.
It's been a hot topic lately amongst the health conscious because our neighbor up north supplies the United States with a lot of it. 80% of the Canadian crop is now genetically modified.  Americans used 2.5 billion pounds in 2010. The repercussions of GMO Canola oil (or any GMO product for that matter)  on the food chain are staggering as it is used in feed for livestock, the flowers are a popular source of nectar for our pollinating friends bees, and the sterility  GMO foods causes in reproductive system of humans and other living creatures.
Natural Vs Organic There is a lot of confusion about what natural means as opposed to organic. Well folks I can tell you that "natural" ain't what is used to be. A manufacturer can claim that a product like these oat and honey bars are "all natural" without getting down to the nitty gritty and informing the shopper as to where the ingredients came from and how they were grown. Are there GMO  grains or oils used in the product? Were toxic pesticides and herbicides used? Is there a chance that eating could cause an adverse allergic reaction such as bloating or difficulty breathing? The answer to these questions are yes.  On further inspection I found no USDA Organic label anywhere on the product. And that concerns me.
What does certified organic or "USDA Organic" mean? 
The definition of it is as follows "Certified organic means the farmer or producer has undergone a regular inspection of its farm, facilities, ingredients, and practices by an independent third-party certifier, accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The producer has followed strict NOP regulations and maintained detailed records. Genetically engineered ingredients, synthetic pesticides, animal drugs, sewage sludge, irradiation, and chemical fertilizers are prohibited. Farm animals, soil, and crops have been managed organically. Food can be processed using only approved methods. Ingredients must be on the "allowed" list." (Source Natural News)

Coconut Oil Options
I have made the switch to Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for frying, sauteeing and adding a little flavor to my foods. Raved about by my foodie friends I decided to give it a try and have been delighted with the results. It imparts a wonderful flavor to food containing no trans fats.  I have even used it to make a delicious cake! As eating is a necessity that occurs daily (as many as three times for many of us) help out your neighbor, your bees and your farm animals by making wiser choices! Here in the United States our educated food choices have an incredible impact on the politics of growing food, the land, our water supplies, food chain and the future of our childrens health. As we like to think of ourselves a the leaders of the world let's get on it!  Be sure to check the label and find USDA on your foods and avoid health complications for you and your family while insuring the health of our planet. Join a CSA and shop local. Know your farmers and support those in your region who may be struggling.
Learn More on This Topic on Natural News
Check out NY Times Article on Coconut Oil by Melissa Clark
For Coconut Lore and History Look Here About.com
Genetically Modified Soy in the Huff Post

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