Foods, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Chicken, Eggs, Raised, Organic or Not

chickkenandegg

When raised the way nature intended, both chickens and their eggs are healthy sources of high-quality nutrients that many are deficient in — especially high-quality protein and healthy fat.

 

Eggs contain complete proteins, meaning they provide the eight essential amino acids, essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your skin, internal organs, muscles, and more.

 

They also contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for good eyesight, and choline, which is needed for the normal development of memory, as well as betaine, tryptophan and tyrosine, all of which are important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

 

Cholesterol is also important for health, and contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol in eggs will not adversely affect your cholesterol levels.

 

However, to reap all the benefits chicken and eggs have to offer, it’s important to realize that not all chickens and eggs are the same. It all depends on how they were raised. I strongly advise sticking with free-range organic varieties.

 

Not only is the nutritional profile of eggs and chickens raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) inferior to their pastured, free-ranging counterparts, they’re also far more likely to be contaminated with salmonella.

 

Organic Egg Scorecard Cuts Through Confusion and Misleading Labels

 

While there’s no way to guarantee 100 percent safety all the time, the benefits of free-range poultry are becoming more well-recognized, and reduced disease risk is definitely part of that benefits package.

 

As reported by The Guardian, sale of cage-free and organic eggs is on the rise, and five U.S. states now ban caged hens. Unfortunately, loopholes abound, allowing CAFO-raised chickens and eggs to masquerade as “free-range” and “organic.”

 

Both consumers and corporate customers, such as McDonald’s, Nestle, and General Mills, are now demanding egg producers convert to cage-free methods. It’s worth noting that “cage-free” still does not mean the chickens were raised under ideal conditions.

 

They’re not raised in cages, but they may still not have access to the outdoors. So there are still significant differences even between “cage-free” and “free range” (or “pastured”) eggs. With so many loopholes and lack of transparency, it can be very confusing to sort through it all.

 

The Cornucopia Institute addressed these issues in a recent egg report. According to Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, there’s a factory farm takeover of the egg industry underway, with large CAFOs now controlling 80 percent of the organic egg market.

 

Yet less than 9 percent of hens raised in the U.S. are raised without cages.3 The organic label simply means the hens have been raised on organic feed. It is not an indication that they’ve been humanely or sustainably raised.

 

“For this report, we have visited or surveilled, via aerial photography/satellite imagery, a large percentage of certified egg production in the United States, and surveyed all name-brand and private-label industry marketers,” the Cornucopia Institute writes.

 

And, according to Mark A. Kastel, The Cornucopia Institute’s co-director and senior farm policy analyst: “It’s obvious that a high percentage of the organic eggs on the market are illegal and should, at best, be labeled ‘produced with organic feed,’ rather than bearing the USDA-certified organic logo.”

 

The Cornucopia Institute’s report and scorecard, which took six years to produce, ranks 136 egg producers according to 28 organic criteria. According to the Cornucopia Institute:

 

“‘Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture, will empower consumers and wholesale buyers who want to invest their food dollars to protect hard-working family farmers that are in danger of being forced off the land by a landslide of eggs from factory farms …

 

[As] consumers have become concerned about the humane treatment of animals, and are also seeking out eggs that are superior in flavor and nutrition, a number of national marketers have found success in distributing ‘pasture’-produced eggs.

 

‘There is a fair bit of overreach and the exploitation of this term is well covered in our report,’ Kastel explained. ‘The organic egg scorecard enables concerned consumers to select authentic brands delivering the very best quality eggs regardless of the hyperbole on the label’ …”

 

Should you find the organic egg brand you’ve been buying is a sham and feel betrayed, take action by putting the pressure on USDA Secretary Vilsack to replace the current management at The National Organic Program. You can do so by signing the Cornucopia Institute’s proxy letter.

 

 

 

CAFOs Are Hotbeds for Salmonella

 

As noted by Reveal News in their “Farm to Fork: Uncovering hazards in our food systems” series, Americans eat about 85 pounds of chicken per person each year, and about 25 percent of raw chicken sold in American supermarkets are contaminated with salmonella.

 

About 1 million Americans are sickened and some 380 die from salmonella infection each year, and contaminated chicken and eggs are among the most common sources of this foodborne illness.

 

Today, we also have antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella to contend with, which makes potential contamination even more worrisome. It’s important to realize that even chicken that passes all federal food safety requirements may still be hazardous to your health.

 

As reported by Reveal News:

 

“There’s no mandate to control [salmonella] on the farms or hatcheries that raise chickens for slaughter. Limited testing is required only at the final step: the slaughterhouse.

 

By that time, chickens already can be carrying the bacteria in their guts, its natural habitat. Or it can be on their feathers, feet or skin from their feces. It can spread from carcass to carcass during processing. While processors try to clean the bacteria off the skin and meat with chemicals, some often escapes removal …

 

Chickens can get salmonella from the breeding flocks that produce them. The chicks can pick it up at hatcheries, grow houses or pastures on farms where they fatten up. Any measures that producers take to control salmonella in those places are entirely voluntary.”

 

Beware: U.S. Rules Allow the Sale of Salmonella-Contaminated Chicken

 

Surprising as it may seem, it’s perfectly legal to sell salmonella-contaminated chicken meat. The federal salmonella standard allows 7.5 percent of whole chickens tested in the processing plant to be contaminated.

 

What’s more, the standards make no distinction between the more harmless strains of salmonella, and those that are the most dangerous, including drug-resistant strains. Essentially, the food safety rules include the general assumption that you will handle and cook it properly to kill off any and all harmful bacteria.

 

However, cross-contamination can easily occur while the raw chicken is prepared, spreading to other foods via contaminated cutting boards, countertops, or utensils, so caution is always recommended when handling raw chicken. You can find official guidance on the proper handling and cooking of raw chicken on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Website.

 

Keeping a designated cutting board for meats and one for other produce is a basic step that will help cut down on the risk of cross contamination. Also avoid washing your chicken, as this actually increases your risk of food poisoning by spreading bacteria around your kitchen sink and neighboring surfaces.

 

 

So Far, Efforts to Implement Stronger Salmonella Standards Have Failed

 

In 2015 legislation was introduced that would require meats contaminated with bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics to be recalled by the USDA. The Center for Science in the Public Interest also petitioned the USDA to declare four specific strains of antibiotic-resistant salmonella as “adulterants,” which would require the meat to be recalled when detected.

 

So far, nothing has come of these efforts, largely due to the strong opposition from the industry, which claims prices would have to be raised if salmonella were to be labeled an adulterant. According to Ashley Peterson, senior vice president for science and technology for the National Chicken Council, such a move might end up wiping out about one-third of the U.S. chicken supply. That tells you something about the scope of the salmonella problem!

 

Unfortunately, since salmonella regulations do not cover hatcheries and farms, buying local backyard chickens is not a guarantee of safety either. There are even instances of salmonella disease occurring from contact with live chickens.

 

For guidance on protecting yourself from illness from backyard poultry, see the Centers for Disease and Prevention’s (CDC) Website. One key is to be vigilant about hand washing. That said, free-ranging chickens and their eggs do tend to be safer than CAFO varieties.

 

For example, tests done in England found that more than 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, compared to just 4.4 percent in organic flocks, and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks. The highest prevalence of salmonella occurred in facilities holding 30,000 birds or more.

 

Backyard Chickens Gaining in Popularity

 

While factory farms may be fighting to monopolize the organic egg market, smaller backyard operations are also gaining a foothold. As noted in a recent article by Food Navigator-USA,10 the egg industry is undergoing a “renaissance” with many small-scale pasture-raised eggs now finding their way into mainstream grocery stores.

 

According to Betsy and Bryan Babcock, owners of Handsome Brook Farms, pasture-raised eggs are among the fastest growing segments in grocery dairy cases.

 

Superior taste is driving much of this growth. If you’ve ever tasted a fresh pasture-raised egg, with its creamy bright-orange egg yolk, you know exactly what I’m referring to. (Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sure sign you’re getting eggs form caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet.)

 

Pastured eggs are also more nutritious, according to tests performed by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 2010. Compared to CAFO eggs, pastured eggs had twice the amount of vitamin E and omega-3, a far better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and 38 percent more vitamin A.

 

The Bay Journal11 also recently wrote about the resurgence in backyard chicken farming, and the establishment of the “Animal Welfare Approved” label, which signals that the operation has documented high standards of care for both animals and environment.

 

 

 

Are You Ready to Try Your Hand at Raising Your Own Chickens?

 

 

 

Raising chickens in your backyard may be easier than you thought. If you are interested in the possibility of raising a few chickens yourself, a good place to begin is by asking yourself a few questions.

 

I also recommend visiting Joel’s Polyface Farm Website for more details on raising chickens. Also be sure to look through the CDC’s guidance on protecting yourself from illness from live poultry:

 

Can I dedicate some time each day? You can expect to devote about 10 minutes a day, an hour per month, and a few hours twice a year to the care and maintenance of your brood.

Do I have enough space? They will need a minimum of 10 square feet per bird to roam, preferably more. The more foraging they can do, the healthier and happier they’ll be and the better their eggs will be.

What are the chicken regulations in my town? You will want to research this before jumping in because some places have zoning restrictions and even noise regulations (which especially apply if you have a rooster).

Are my neighbors on board with the idea? It’s a good idea to see if they have any concerns early on. When they learn they might be the recipients of occasional farm-fresh eggs, they might be more agreeable.

Can I afford a flock? There are plenty of benefits to growing your own eggs, but saving money isn’t one of them. There are significant upfront costs to getting a coop set up, plus ongoing expenses for supplies.

Healthier and Safer Chicken and Egg Sources

 

Besides raising your own chickens and eggs, your next best option is to source them locally, either from an organic farm or farmers market. Fortunately, finding organic pastured eggs locally is far easier than finding raw milk, as virtually every rural area has individuals with chickens.

 

Farmers markets are a great way to meet the people who produce your food. With face-to-face contact, you can get your questions answered and know exactly what you’re buying. Better yet, visit the farm and ask for a tour.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-Well

 

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Health and Disease

A compelling Documentary about the Causes of Antibiotic Resistance, and How to Fix it

waterfall

A Compelling Documentary About the Causes of Antibiotic Resistance, and How to Fix It

Story at-a-glance

Antibiotic resistance has turned into a worldwide health threat of massive proportions

Two million American adults and children are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year; 23,000 die as a direct result

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Staphyloccus Aureus (SA) kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide

Solutions include improved infection prevention, more responsible use of antibiotics in human medicine, limiting use of antibiotics in agriculture, and finding innovative approaches to treat infections

Complete Story

Collectively, microorganisms outweigh the human population by 100 million times. They’re all around you, and inside you. Your gastrointestinal tract alone houses some 100 trillion bacteria.

The microorganisms in your gut, commonly referred to as your microbiome, are responsible for about 80 percent of your immune system function, and these gut bacteria outnumber your body’s cells by about 10 to one.

As noted in the featured Frontline documentary, The Trouble With Antibiotics,1 American farmers routinely use antibiotics to make their livestock grow bigger, faster (in addition to preventing disease caused by cramped, filthy quarter, and an unnatural diet). After decades of this practice, antibiotic-resistance in humans has risen substantially.

We’ve also come to realize that, scientifically, we’ve barely scratched the surface with regards to everything there is to know about bacteria; how they work, and why we might actually need them.

Far from being a scourge, bacteria of all kinds serve important roles in human health. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand we need bacteria; on the other, when our microbiome becomes unbalanced, it can kill us.

Microbes Rule…

For example, it is microbes in the soil that are largely responsible for plant growth and nutrient uptake. Adding plant nutrients without regard for nourishing these microbes is a recipe for crop failure in the long-term.

In recent years, we’ve also started to gain a greater understanding of the role gut microbes play in human health and disease—and it’s a very significant one.

We’re also seeing that indiscriminately killing bacteria in an effort to achieve cleanliness and health comes at a steep price. In fact, antibiotic resistance has quickly turned into a worldwide health threat of massive proportions.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2 (CDC), two million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result.

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, alone kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide.3

The victims include young, otherwise healthy people, raising suspicions that the MRSA infections originate from the food they eat. Drug-resistant tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, and gonorrhea are also on the rise.

As reported by Frontline, researchers have found that people living close to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also suffer drug-resistant infections at much higher rates than others, again suggesting that antibiotic-resistant bacteria originate from large-scale agriculture.

We’ve Wasted One of Medicine’s Most Important Tools

What we’re seeing is the evolution of bacteria—and we’ve catalyzed that evolution. As it turns out, the use of antibiotics in agriculture breeds these hardy bacteria very efficiently. Over time, microorganisms have learned to teach each other how to outsmart the best pharmaceutical drugs we have to offer, and they are winning the battle.

Many experts have issued strong warnings, saying that we are quickly reverting back to the pre-antibiotic age when some of the most important advances in modern medicine – intensive care, organ transplants, care for premature babies, and surgeries – will no longer be possible.

We’re already very close to the end of the road where ALL antibiotics fail, and once that happens, it will be the end of modern medicine as we know it. Common illnesses such as bronchitis or strep throat may turn into deadly sepsis.

Surgeries previously considered low risk or “routine,” such as hip replacements, might suddenly be too risky without antibiotics, and complex surgeries like organ transplants may not be survivable anymore.

One of the most prestigious research hospitals in the US recently struggled with an outbreak of a highly lethal antibiotic-resistant superbug called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)4—a bacterium that has developed resistance to multiple drugs. KPC is not alone in this feat.

A 2013 paper by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) titled “Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens,”5 report that between 1973 and 2011, there were 55 antibiotic-resistant foodborne outbreaks in the US, and more than half of them involved pathogens resistant to five or more antibiotics.

How Did This Epidemic of Antibiotic Resistance Occur?

Antibiotic overuse and inappropriate use in medicine is one factor. As much as half of all antibiotics used in clinics and hospitals are inappropriately used.6 But the routine use of antibiotics in agriculture is likely at the very heart of the matter.

First of all, agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US, so it’s really a primary source of antibiotic exposure. Second, it is the continuous use of low dose antibiotics that really allows the bacteria to survive and become increasingly hardy and drug resistant.

At present, 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are administered to livestock in the US every year for purposes other than treating disease, such as making the animals grow bigger faster. When eating meat from antibiotic-treated animals, you consume low dose antibiotics. For example, 80 different antibiotics are allowed in cows’ milk!

Treated animal products may also be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is in fact linked to food. In the words of associate director of the CDC Dr. Srinivasan:7

“The more you use an antibiotic, the more you expose a bacteria to an antibiotic, the greater the likelihood that resistance to that antibiotic is going to develop. So the more antibiotics we put into people, we put into the environment, we put into livestock, the more opportunities we create for these bacteria to become resistant.”

In the featured documentary, researchers using state of the art genome sequencing were able to compare E.coli samples found on supermarket meat with E.coli samples collected from patients with drug-resistant urinary tract infections. In this way, they were able to genetically link more than 100 urinary tract infections to tainted supermarket meat products…

Avoiding antibiotic-resistance is but one of several good reasons to avoid meats and animal products from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This is partly why grass-fed and grass-finished antibiotic- and hormone-free meat is the ONLY type of meat I recommend—again because it is repetitive low-dose exposure that allows bacteria to adapt and develop strong resistance. Most Americans eat meat several times a week, and that kind of exposure can add up.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, has known for more than 12 years that routine use of antibiotics in livestock is harmful to human health, yet it has taken no meaningful action. Promptings to voluntarily reduce usage has not resulted in positive change. On the contrary, the most recent FDA report shows that antibiotic usage actually increased by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, and nearly 70 percent of the antibiotics used are considered “medically important” for humans.8

Another contributing factor is the genetic engineering of our foods. As Jeffrey Smith explained at a recent GMO Summit, it’s possible that GMOs from food can transfer genetic material to your normal gut bacteria, conferring antibiotic resistance and turning them into superbugs. GMOs have been scientifically proven to activate and deactivate hundreds if not thousands of genes, and we have no idea about the risks associated with this, as no one has studied it.

What’s the Solution?

The impending superbug crisis has a four-prong solution:

  • Improved infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally. Avoiding sugars, processed foods, and grains is foundational for this. Adding in traditionally fermented and cultured foods is equally important, as this will help optimize your microflora
  • More responsible use of antibiotics in human medicine
  • Limiting use of antibiotics in livestock animals, along with a return to biodynamic farming and a complete overhaul of our food system
  • Innovative new approaches to the treatment of infections from all branches of science, natural as well as allopathic. Fortunately, Mother Nature gives us a cornucopia of botanicals with inherent antibiotic activity that does not promote resistance like antibiotic drugs do. Natural compounds with antimicrobial activity include:

Garlic Cinnamon Oregano extract Colloidal silver

Manuka honey (Clinical trials have found that Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including some resistant varieties, such as MRSA) Probiotics and fermented foods Echinacea Sunlight and vitamin D

What You Can Do Right Now to Avoid Promoting Antibiotic Resistance

When it comes to avoiding antibiotic-resistant disease, one major key is to keep your immune system healthy and strong. This is primarily done through lifestyle choices such as proper diet, sleep, stress management, and exercise. In terms of diet, remember to opt for whole organic foods, raised without antibiotics and preferably locally sourced.

Optimizing your own immune system function will help keep you safe from developing a potentially lethal infection in the first place. I also urge you to consider the following strategies, which will help curtail the spread of antibiotic resistance in general. While the problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be stemmed through public policy on a nationwide level, the more people who get involved on a personal level, the better.

Such strategies include:

  • Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. For example, antibiotics are typically unnecessary for most ear infections, and they do NOT work on viruses. They only work on bacterial infections, and even then, they’re best reserved for more serious infections.
  • Avoid antibacterial household products, such as antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, and wipes, etc., as these also promote antibiotic resistance by allowing the strongest bacteria to survive and thrive.
  • Properly wash your hands with warm water and plain soap, to prevent the spread of bacteria. Be particularly mindful of washing your hands and kitchen surfaces after handling raw meats, as about half of all meat sold in American grocery stores is likely to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Avoid antibiotic soaps that typically have dangerous chemicals like triclosan.
  • Take common-sense precautions in the kitchen: Kitchens are notorious breeding grounds for disease-causing bacteria, courtesy of contaminated meat products, including antibiotic-resistant strains of E-coli. To avoid cross-contamination between foods in your kitchen, I suggest adhering to the following recommendations:

◦Use a designated cutting board, preferably wood, not plastic, for raw meat and poultry, and never use this board for other food preparation, such as cutting up vegetables. Color coding your cutting boards is a simple way to distinguish between them

◦To sanitize your cutting board, be sure to use hot water and detergent. Simply wiping it off with a rag will not destroy the bacteria

◦For an inexpensive, safe, and effective kitchen counter and cutting board sanitizer, use 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Keep each liquid in a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one, followed by the other, and wipe off

◦Coconut oil can also be used to clean, treat, and sanitize your wooden cutting boards. It’s loaded with lauric acid that has potent antimicrobial actions. Olive oil is another alternative. The fats will also help condition the wood

  • Purchase organic, antibiotic-free meats and other foods. Reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a significant reason for making sure you’re only eating grass-fed, organically-raised meats and animal products. Besides growing and raising your own, buying your food from responsible, high-quality, sustainable sources is your best bet, and I strongly encourage you to support the small family farms in your area.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived Article

312-972-WELL  (9355)

Foods

More Sugar in Yogurt than a Twinkie

yogurtYogurt, made the traditional way, is one of nature’s many health foods. Milk from organic grass-fed cows, rich in calcium, protein, beneficial fats and other healthy nutrients, is fermented using live cultures, resulting in a wholesome, live food teeming with beneficial microorganisms.

Yet giant food corporations, led by General Mills (Yoplait) and Groupe Danone (Dannon), and now joined by others including Walmart and PepsiCo, have managed to turn this health food into junk food.

Many yogurt products on store shelves today are marketed as healthy, but a close inspection of the ingredients list and a look behind the scenes at how the ingredients are produced—the food’s “fine print”—paint a very different picture.  

Conventional yogurt is produced with milk from cows that are nearly always confined and unable to graze on pasture, and given a feed containing genetically engineered grains. During the making of yogurt, chemical defoamers can legally be added to conventional milk. And with the addition of artificial sweeteners or high doses of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, synthetic preservatives and the gut-wrenching thickener carrageenan, many yogurt products are essentially junk food masquerading as health food.

These products are marketed as healthy in part by displaying the “Live and Active Cultures” seal, which supposedly assures a high level of beneficial microorganisms, also known as probiotics.

The seal is found on nearly all conventional yogurt by popular brands owned by corporations such as General Mills and Groupe Danone. No organic yogurt uses the seal. However, testing by The Cornucopia Institute, performed by a food-processing center at a land grant university, revealed that many organic farmstead yogurt products without the Live and Active Cultures seal actually contained higher levels of probiotics than conventional yogurt with the seal.

Consumers tempted to choose products that display the Live and Active Cultures seal over products without it would be wise to reconsider that option.

Cornucopia’s analysis of yogurt also found that many conventional yogurt products on store shelves are not really yogurt at all. The FDA has a “standard of identity” for yogurt that specifies which types of ingredients can and cannot be added to a product labeled and sold as “yogurt.” Artificial sweeteners, preservatives and artificial nutrients other than vitamins A and D do not appear on this FDA list. It is puzzling how any product containing these ingredients can be marketed and sold as “yogurt.” This includes most of the Yoplait, Dannon and other conventional brands, as well as most store label brands, including Walmart’s Great Value.

The addition of these ingredients is not simply a question of legality; it also raises an important question about the healthfulness of the food. Many ingredients found in yogurt may cause adverse health impacts.

For example, research has linked the artificial sweetener aspartame to brain tumors and neurological disease in laboratory animals. Carrageenan, a food thickener, has been shown to promote colon tumors and cause inflammation and digestive disease in laboratory animals. Artificial colors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. These ingredients and others commonly found in yogurt have no place in a food marketed as healthy.

girl eating yogurt iStock_000017575748Large

Because it costs more to produce, organic yogurt must be pricier at the check-out, right? Not always. General Mills’ Yoplait Go-Gurt costs more per ounce than many organic brands, despite containing milk from conventional, confined cows fed GE corn and soybeans, rather than milk from grass-fed cows. Go-Gurt, a “fruity” drinkable yogurt in a tube marketed to children, has no actual fruit but tastes and looks like it does due to artificial flavors and colors that require a warning label in other countries. The sweet snack also contains carrageenan, a known gastrointestinal irritant, along with artificial preservatives and synthetic nutrients.

In another example, Chobani, a conventional “Greek” yogurt, was priced higher than five different organic brands at a Boston-area Whole Foods Market. (This was before Whole Foods dropped the brand reportedly for using milk from GE-grain-fed cows while marketing itself as “natural.”)

Yogurt is big business. Consumers spend $73 billion on this food staple globally and $6 billion in the U.S., where individuals eat an average of 13 pounds of the creamy stuff each year. No wonder Big Food dominates this market; corporate players include General Mills (Yoplait), Group Danone (Dannon, Brown Cow, 85% of Stonyfield Farm), PepsiCo (Muller), Dean Foods (Alta Dena, Berkeley Farms, Meadow Gold), WhiteWave (Horizon, Silk), and the Hain Celestial Group (The Greek Gods, Healthy Valley, Earth’s Best).Consult Cornucopia’s forthcoming Yogurt Scorecard to see how these corporate brands stack up against independents such as Nancy’s, Organic Valley, Kalona, Wallaby Organic and Clover Stornetta, and regional brands such as Butterworks Farm, Seven Stars, Straus, Hawthorne Valley Farm and Cedar Summit. (Teaser: Cedar Summit Farm, a 100% grass-fed dairy in Minnesota, produces yogurt with more omega-3 fatty acids and 20 times as much of the healthy fat CLA as Chobani, according to independent lab tests.)

Cornucopia’s forthcoming report outlines the various reasons why people should choose organic yogurt over conventional. The USDA Organic seal on a yogurt product is much more important, in terms of healthfulness, than the Live and Active Cultures seal, the “Greek” label or any other marketing claim or label. In essence, all that is required for making healthy yogurt is organic milk and live cultures.

The Cornucopia Institute encourages eaters and food retailers who buy yogurt to purchase minimally processed, organic brands. By doing so you will be supporting organic farmers, sound environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and good health for our families and communities.