Articles Posted in the Food category

Scientists prove that chocolate is good for you

September 26, 2008
Posted in Food

Italian scientists have found that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly reduces the risk of cardio-vascular disease – by as much as a third in women and a quarter in men. But only dark chocolate has this effect. The milk in milk chocolate has been shown to interfere with the absorption of polyphenols, according to one of the researchers. And when they say moderate amounts, they’re not kidding. The best effects are obtained from 6.7 grams of chocolate a day – which is one small square two or three times a week. And you can’t sneak a bit more because if do you, you’re likely to forfeit the beneficial effects. The amounts of chocolate consumed are critical, the researchers say. That means you can indulge in half a 100g slab a week – for health reasons – which is certainly better than nothing.

Via :: Science Daily

Something to make vegans feel smug

August 27, 2008
Posted in Food

South Africa is a meat-eating nation. Only in Cape Town will you get away with cooking a butternut or vegetable sosaties on a braai – anywhere else, if there’s isn’t at least chops and wors, you’ll offend your guests. But, sadly, our meat-loving ways are not environmentally friendly.

AFP reports on a German study that says:
– A diet that includes meat produces about double the amount of greenhouse gases as a vegetarian diet (over a period of 12 months it’s the same as driving a mid-sized car 4,758km versus 2,427km, they say).
– Going vegan, which means giving up meat and dairy products, would cut the emissions dramatically (to the equivalent of driving 629km).
– If you’re a vegan and your food’s organic, your food footprint is even smaller (the equivalent of driving 281km).

Via :: The Star

Monsanto to sell rBST unit

August 11, 2008
Posted in Business, Food

Monsanto has announced that it wants to sell its rBST business. rBST is an artificial hormone used to boost the milk output of cows. Use of the hormones is banned in many countries and in “organic” milk. There has been a growing trend among consumers to reject milk from cows treated with the hormone. In South Africa in recent years “rBST-free” labels have become increasingly common on the packaging of milk sold in supermarkets.

Monsanto officials said last week that the company wanted to focus on its key profit drivers of agricultural seeds and development of specific genetic traits for crops.
Sources: Daily Green, Reuters, New York Times

Why can’t GM foods be labelled?

August 4, 2008
Posted in Food


An article in the Sunday Times yesterday reported that many South Africans are unknowingly eating genetically modified maize.

The article listed the following products as testing positive for GM maize: “ProNutro original flavour (52.7 %), ProNutro Toddlers Instant apple and banana flavour (97.5%), Iwisa Maize Meal (27.2%), Tiger Brands Ace samp (53.7%) and Purity cream of maize baby soft porridge (24.9%).”

Pick n Pay No Name Brand cornflakes and Kellogg’s cornflakes were reported to be GM free.

I’m pretty sure I fed at least one of the baby foods listed above to my children when they were babies and I probably wouldn’t have if I’d known that they contained GM maize. My instinct is to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to my children. The government may say that GM maize is perfectly safe, but then evironmental groups like Greenpeace report otherwise.

I’d like to be able to choose whether or not my family eats GM food. Why can’t products with GM ingredients be labelled, anyway? They are in the EU. Would it really make that much of a difference to sales?

The Sunday Times article said that “labelling in South Africa applies only to GM foods that are ‘substantially different’ from non-GM foods or contain animal or human genes”. It quoted Andries Pretorius, of the department of health, as saying: “Currently in South Africa, GM foodstuffs on the shelves only contain inserted bacterial genes and proteins and these foodstuffs are considered substantially equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and therefore do not require to be labelled.”

I can’t say I understand what any of that means, but surely something has either had a “foreign” gene inserted into it or it hasn’t. If it has, then why not tell us?

More than half the maize crop in South Africa is genetically modified so completely GM-free maize is getting harder to find, the article says. Maybe, then, companies should label the products that are “GM free” – and be willing to have them independently tested.

South Africa’s hot potatoes

July 29, 2008
Posted in Food

In this year of the potato (so named by the United Nations General Assembly, believe it or not) the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) intends to apply to the government for permission to make genetically modified potatoes commercially available in South Africa.

The SpuntaG2 potato is resistant against potato tuber moth damage and, if permission is granted, it will join the GM maize, soyabeans and cotton that are already grown in this country.

The African Centre for Biodiversity, SafeAge, Biowatch South Africa and Urban Sprout have organised an online petition opposing the marketing and growing of the GM potatoes here and are “imploring” the South African GMO Council to reject the ARC’s application.

GM potatoes pose no benefit to consumers or African famers, the group argues. The petition states:

The developers claim that GM potatoes are better for our health & the environment because they reduce pesticide spraying, but this is not true. GM potatoes are engineered with an inbuilt pesticide to control the tuber moth, which is most destructive during storage. The pesticide is now inside the plant and farmers will still use a toxic cocktail of chemicals to combat all the other 99 pests, as well as viral, fungal & bacterial diseases, and weeds that plague potato farming in South Africa.

Furthermore because the Bt toxin is expressed 24 hours a day, it accumulates in the environment and throughout the food chain. The tuber moth will quickly develop resistance to the toxin, so this is a short-term and short-sighted solution to this problem.”

To go to the online petition, click here.

Interestingly, the GM potato petition is the first petition on, according to Urban Sprout. The site has been created to make armchair activism easier for us South Africans by enabling us to support multiple initiatives with a single click. While you’re there, check out the list of DVDs, there are some really interesting ones that you seem to be able to order from the site.

Nutty prebiotics

July 1, 2008
Posted in Food

Finely ground almonds have been found to increase the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria. The potential prebiotic properties of almonds were identified in a study by the Institute of Food Research published in  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Prebiotics are foods that help good bacteria that live in the colon to thrive. These good bacteria help to defend the body against harmful bacteria and develop the immune system.

Via :: Science Daily

Olive oil and other Mediterranean health secrets

June 3, 2008
Posted in Food

Like Italian food? Well, eat up, because it’s good for you. The traditional Mediterranean diet helps protect against the onset of Type II diabetes, according to a study published recently in the British Medical Journal. The diet is rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, veggies and fish, and low in meat dairy products and alcohol. The abundant use of virgin oil for cooking, frying, spreading on bread, and dressing salads, is a key element of the diet, the report says.

Via :: Science Daily

Organic milk is healthier, study finds

May 28, 2008
Posted in Food, Lifestyle

Need a good reason to convince you to buy organic milk? It’s just plain healthier, according a study by Newcastle University.

Cows on organic farms that are allowed to graze as nature intended are producing better quality milk that contains significantly higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than their conventional “high input” counterparts, says the university in a press release. During the summer months, when the cows are grazing on fresh grass in the fields one of the beneficial fats in particular – conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA9 – was found to be 60% higher.

“We have known for some time that what cows are fed has a big influence on milk quality,” said Gillian Butler of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University, who led the study in the release.

“What is different about this research is it clearly shows that on organic farms, letting cows graze naturally, using forage-based diet, is the most important reason for the differences in the composition between organic and conventional milk. Read more

Broccoli found to hold immunity-boosting chemical

March 11, 2008
Posted in Food

brocollinew.jpgResearchers think that a chemical in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbages and radishes, may hold a key to restoring the body’s immune system, which weakens as we get older. Scientists at UCLA found that sulforaphane, a chemical in broccoli, switches on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells in the body. These cells then combat the harmful effects of molecules known as free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease. So eat your brocolli! Read more at ScienceDaily

Beer made from melting ice caps

February 24, 2008
Posted in Food

Greenland icebergWe all know Greenland’s ice cap is melting and, as it covers an area of about 1,6-million square kilometres and is about 3,000 metres thick, if it all melted, the world’s sea levels could rise by as much as six metres. But Greenland Brewhouse seems to be making the best of the situation, by making beer with the pristine icecap water – it’s guaranteed to be at least 2,000 years old and free of pollutants.

Greenland Brewhouse brown aleThe company stresses that it only uses ice from icebergs, which have already broken off the main inland ice and are floating in the fjords, so they would have melted anyway. “We are very much aware of the global warming, and it is very important to us not to destroy or use the unique inland ice,” the brewery’s website says.

The beer is brewed by hand in a microbrewery in Narsaq, a town in southern Greenland. The small icebergs are said to be specially selected by local fishermen, who tow them to the brewery.

The brewery company was founded in December 2004 and produced its first beer in 2006. It makes two kinds of beer: brown ale, which was originally made by the Vikings, and pale ale, which originates in Britain. Unfortunately, it seems the beer is only available in Denmark.

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