Category Archives: Food Safety

Take Action Against Genetically Engineered Alfalfa!

The USDA is about to approve Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa. One of the biggest concerns is contamination of other crops, including organic alfalfa, which is used by most organic dairy farms.

Food & Water Watch further explains that “if the U.S. Department of Agriculture decides to allow GE alfalfa to be planted, it sets a bad precedent for future decisions about GE crops and puts organic farmers at risk of widespread GE contamination. Rather than rushing through this process, the agency needs to slow down and do a real assessment of the harm that GE alfalfa could do.”

So far they’ve had over 23,000 supporters email President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging them to slow this approval down but they still need our help. Please take a few seconds to take action by clicking here!!

GT’s Raw Kombucha is Back!

After months of research & reformulation to address alcohol content issues, GT is back with a new interpretation of their original kombucha formula called GT Enlightened Synergy Kombucha.

Although packaging looks the same (for now), these new kombuchas have a lighter and smoother taste. They are still raw – GT bottles everything straight from the batch without any pasteurization, filtration, or dilution – and they offer the same high nutritional value that you have come to expect from GT’s Kombucha. However, the company did change the probiotic ratio of the product and shortened the shelf life to ensure the inherent alcohol levels do not raise above the legal limit.

We currently have six flavors of GT’s New “Enlightened Synergy” Kombuchas in our Grab n Go coolers at both stores. Choose from Cranberry, Gingerade, Gingerberry, Multi-Green, Original and Trilogy.

GT does plan to re-launch their original formula in the near future, but due to recent concerns, it may have to be sold as an “over 21” product.

Help Us Stop the FDA Approval of GE Salmon!

If approved, GE salmon would be the first “transgenic” animal allowed into our food supply. It’s also unlikely that it would have to be labeled, so you might not even know you’re eating it.  – Food & Water Watch

 10 Reasons to Reject a Suspicious Fish from FoodandWaterWatch.org:

 1.    The FDA’s data is one-sided. Critical studies that were given “primary deference,” according to the FDA, were conducted by AquaBounty Technologies or their contractors. No independent studies have been conducted, nor has the FDA conducted their own research.

2.    The FDA continues to fail us when it comes to food safety. We need a safe food system more than we need genetically engineered food, particularly in the wake of one of the largest food recalls in history. The FDA should commit its already slim resources to ensuring the safety of our current food system.

3.    AquaBounty’s claims are misleading and contradictory. AquaBounty states that GE salmon could never interact with wild salmon populations — an occurrence that would endanger wild fish populations and a claim that would be impossible to ensure since salmon escapes are typical in open ocean aquaculture. AquaBounty contradicts this claim in their own environmental assessment by acknowledging, “No single containment measure can be assured of 100% effectiveness.” The FDA has sited that these claims are “potentially misleading.”

4.    Consumers don’t want it. More than 60 percent of consumers polled by Consumer Reports National Research Center said they would not buy meat or milk products from GE animals. Nearly 80 percent of consumers from a recent Washington Post user poll said they would not eat GE salmon due to potential health and environmental risks.

5.    FDA is treating GE salmon as a drug, not food. FDA plans to regulate GE salmon as a veterinary drug, not food. If GE salmon is being treated like a drug, than it is obviously not exactly the same as wild salmon, as the FDA claims.

6.    Lack of transparency. Treating GE salmon like a drug is a loophole that enables the FDA to effectively approve it in secret since approval of new drugs requires confidentiality. This lack of transparency regarding a controversial food product should make consumers wary.

7.    If GE salmon is approved, the gates immediately open for other GE foods and clones. All eyes are on AquaBounty right now, but there are many more companies like them waiting to see if GE salmon gets the go-ahead — companies that are trying to approve GE pigs and cloned animals for the marketplace.

8.    15 years of closed research, yet the public only has a few weeks to weigh in. The FDA has spent 15 years working with AquaBounty to create a regulatory process for genetically engineered animals behind closed doors. They expect the public to read and process their data in just a couple of weeks before the approval process moves forward. If they have truly conducted thorough research, they should provide more time for the public sector to weigh in.

9.    GE salmon threatens the environment. Up to five percent of AquaBounty’s GE salmon eggs could potentially be fertile. If GE salmon mate with wild fish or compete with natural populations, the results could be devastating.

10.   Inconclusive studies. The FDA doesn’t truly know if GE salmon is safe for human consumption. They do not have the capacity to determine its safety and the testing that has been conducted has not included potential impacts and risks on human health or the environment.

If there is any doubt in our minds concerning the potentially negative impact GE salmon could have on our health and environment, it is our responsibility to do something about it now. This is a critical issue that deserves attention from a well-informed public. Until we have enough information, we need to stop the FDA from approving GE salmon.

The Truth About Agave Nectar

Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave, a plant native to Central Mexico. It is a versatile sweetener with a low glycemic index (32) perfect for coffee, smoothies, tea and more. It has 1.4 times the sweetness of white sugar but less viscosity than honey. While there is no such thing as a “healthy” sweetener – we recommend everything in moderation – this is a great natural alternative.

Above are flavored varieties of Madhava Agave Nectar, it also comes in Light & Amber.

A recent article by Dr. Mercola, an online alternative-health personality, suggests the use of agave as a sweetener is somehow harmful. This statement is based on half truths and to prove it we’re taking you right to the source – OUR source – for real, all-natural agave nectar: Madhava.

From Madhava’s Agave Mythbuster website:

“Dr. Mercola is mistaken as regards agave nectar. Agave’s rise in popularity is due to its quality and appeal which have led to widespread demand for it by consumers worldwide. Dr. Mercola though insinuates that agave’s success is simply the result of clever marketing, and this is far from the truth. His presentation of this article and unsubstantiated opinions is to us a real example of negative marketing as he clearly uses fear in lieu of fact to promote his agenda. Dr. Mercola appears to be leading the reader down a biased path to a negative conclusion. He has used fear tactics to propagandize against agave nectar and Madhava feels that this is outrageous and must be answered.

Click here to read an article released [March 23], based on scientific research, and right in Mercola’s field as an osteopathic physician, [this] is an example of actual research he chooses not to reveal to his readers in his attempt to bias them. He has been selective in the information he disseminates and this severely limits his credibility on the subject of agave.

This is disheartening, because so many people rely upon Dr. Mercola for their alternative health information. People are being led to believe that use of agave to sweeten is somehow harmful and this is not the case. There is hard evidence to the contrary, and only negative associations and suppositions to form the attack.

To address Dr. Mercola’s claims:

1. Poor Quality Control. There are very few quality controls in place to monitor the production of agave syrup. Nearly all agave sold in the U.S. comes from Mexico. Industry insiders are concerned that agave producers are using lesser, even toxic, agave plants due to a shortage of blue agave.

This is an outright fabrication. Madhava’s Quality Control representatives routinely visit and inspect all our suppliers’ facilities in Mexico. The suppliers are Organically Certified and 3rd party audited or in the process of being so. Each has an in house laboratory for analysis and quality control. In addition our facility in Colorado is USDA Organic Certified and we are routinely inspected as well. Mercola makes it sound like these are poorly run, low budget operations in Mexico, and this could not be further from the truth. These are immaculate facilities that are conducted extremely professionally, run by highly intelligent individuals with high standards that easily meet international levels. Madhava is quite fortunate to be working with such reputable companies. And, it has been well documented in newspapers both in Mexico and the US that there has been an overabundance of supply of agave plants, not a shortage in any way. Madhava staff has personally witnessed fields left to go to seed after eight years invested due to the current surplus. Dr. Mercola fabricated his statement to shamefully suggest “toxic” plants could be used and create more unwarranted doubt. If he had facts he would not need to resort to fear.

2. Pesticides. There are also concerns that some distributors are cutting agave syrup with corn syrup — how often and to what extent is anyone’s guess. In addition, the FDA has refused shipments of agave syrup due to excessive pesticide residues.

Any concerns are due only to rumors such as this. Madhava’s Agave Nectar is 100% pure from the agave plant with no additives whatsoever. We package the agave nectar at our own facility by the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Madhava would be very interested in his source of information about the FDA refusing shipments. We know without a doubt that none of our shipments have ever been refused and turned back, and know of no others that have been either. We believe Dr Mercola would post a fact or cite an example if he had one.

3. Saponins. Agave is known to contain large amounts of saponins. Saponins are toxic steroid derivatives, capable of disrupting red blood cells and producing diarrhea and vomiting. There is also a possible link between saponins and miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to the uterus, so if you’re pregnant, you should definitely avoid agave products.

This is clearly a cruel scare tactic. The fact is that saponins are in a lot of foods we eat. There are many varieties just as there are over 200 varieties of the agave plant. Most beans and legumes, soya beans, onions, paprika, alfalfa – these all contain saponins. Saponins are phytosterol compounds that occur naturally in some plants. Saponins have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, along with anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. As for agave syrup, there is no evidence to cause concern, there has never been a report of agave nectar linked to a miscarriage, and there is a long history of use. From the prehispanic times, the only sweet treat available to Indians in Mexico was the cooked leaves of the agave plant. They are still in markets all over Mexico. If there would be any kind of dangerous substance, this would be the absolute extreme case of exposure to it; not a single case of any problem has ever been documented, this goes back over seven centuries. Agave Nectar in its present form has been sold for over 12 years all over the world, including western Europe, Japan and the U.S.. The product has a proven record of safety and is deemed safe by the FDA and all regulatory bodies all over the world.

4. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). Some agave syrups contain a contaminant called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF, also called 5-hydroxymethyl furfural), an organic heat-formed compound that arises in the processing of fructose — in both agave syrup and HFCS. HMF has potential toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects[iv]. HMF is EXTREMELY toxic to honey bees, which is a problem since commercial beekeepers feed HFCS to the bees to stimulate honey production when field-gathered nectar sources are scarce[v].

Some agave is thermally processed. They can have a resulting HMF content of 5-7 milligrams per kilogram. To put this into perspective we are talking about 5 parts per million. Raw agave may be a bit higher due to longer periods of heating at the lower temperatures, but still negligible and presents no health concern. Agave produced enzymatically will be HMF free. HMF is also commonly found to a much greater degree in wine.

5. Nutrient Void. Agave syrup is not a whole food — it is fractionated and processed, devoid of the nutrients contained in the original, whole plant.

But, you can’t use the whole plant to sweeten your foods. There is no sweetener that is a whole food, that is the nature of them. His charge is meaningless in reference to sweeteners. Sugars are not consumed as a meal, they are ingredients and an important part of a balanced diet.

6. Enzymes. Agave syrup is not a live food. The natural enzymes are removed to prevent agave syrup from fermenting and turning into tequila in your food pantry or cabinet.

Actually, tequila is distilled so you unfortunately will not be able to produce it in your pantry. Digestion though is accomplished by enzymes, to break food down into a simple form which can easily be absorbed. Like honey, agave is already in its simple form and does not require digestion, enzymes nor exertion for our system to utilize them.

7. Addictiveness. Agave is, for all intents and purposes, highly concentrated sugar. Sugar and sweeteners wreak havoc on your health and are highly addictive.

Sugar and sweeteners are an important part of one’s diet. People enjoy them and will use them. The important message is to moderate the overall consumption of sweeteners and calories in general. In the context of a normal everyday balanced diet, Mercola’s views are not substantiated.”
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As always, we research every product in our stores and stand behind Madhava’s response. However we do agree with Mercola on one thing – his website states “You are wise to question whom you can trust when it comes to maintaining, enhancing or rebuilding your health . . . It is essential to ask, ‘What is their real motivation?’” We leave it up to you to review his website (and online store of his own private-label products) and decide for yourself who you should trust.

Contact Your Congressman Today to Save Supplements & Organic Dairy

Right now there are two issues in the Florida Senate that we think you should be concerned about – the Financial Services Reform Act and the Ban on Genetically Modified Alfalfa.

Save Your Supplements – Oppose the FTC Power Provision

From the Natural Products Association website:

The Financial Services Reform Act (S.3217) has passed the Senate. While expansion of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) powers was kept out of the Senate Bill, now the House and Senate must work out the differences between the chambers’ versions. The expansions being discussed could have a dire impact on the natural products industry.
 
Should these additional powers be granted to the FTC, you can expect to see the following:

- The FTC creating advertising guidelines that are inconsistent with what is allowed under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) and the FDA

- The FTC acting as a legislative body, creating “rules” for industries like ours in areas in which it has no expertise

- The FTC levying fines against businesses for practices it deems illegal without allowing the business to change its policies

- The FTC levying fines against companies for “aiding and abetting” wrongdoing even when the companies did not know a violation was occurring

- The FTC making, approving, and policing rules with virtually no oversight

So many Americans rely on supplements for day to day heath and major health issues. CLICK HERE to Take Action and send a message to your members of Congress, urging them to OPPOSE the FTC provision.

Save Organic Dairy – Ban GE Alfalfa

From the Organic Trade Association website:

This is a Supreme Court case about the release of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa.  After USDA originally approved the genetically engineered crop, the Center for Food Safety sued on behalf of farmers and allied organizations. In 2007, the court agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered more analysis on the crop’s impacts. In the interim, the court halted any further planting. The main impact the court ordered USDA go back and analyze was the harm to conventional and organic farmers from transgenic contamination: the likelihood of cross-pollination between fields and feral sources by wild and managed bees, the mixing of seeds and other means. It was because of this loss to farmers from unwanted transgenic contamination of their ability to sow the crop of their choice (and potential lost markets such as organic or exports) that the Court also halted the planting. The court of appeals twice affirmed the district court’s decision in 2008 and 2009. In January of this year, despite even the government’s opposition, Monsanto was able to get the Supreme Court to take the case.

This is the first time ever a court has recognized a farmer’s right to choose in this legal context. It is the first time a court has held transgenic contamination as an injury with legal consequences in this context and issued an injunction. The court concluded that the threat of irreparable harm to conventional and organic alfalfa farmers of the loss of the ability to grow non-GE alfalfa outweighed the solely economic harm to Monsanto. The Supreme Court could reverse all of those legal conclusions. It could rule that contamination harm is not enough to gain an injunction, or that the balance of the equities should have favored Monsanto and its allied partners.  It could rule that even if a crop is ruled illegally approved, as in this case, that a court could not halt the planting until proper analysis of its impact is done.

Alfalfa is a major food source for livestock and if GE alfalfa was release into the environment it would mean the end of the organic dairy industry, a $1.4 billion industry, as we know it.

Email Your Florida Senator Bill Nelson and ask him to sign the letter being circulated by Representative DeFazio (D-OR4) and Senator Leahy (D-VT) asking the USDA to maintain the ban on genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed.

Thank you!

NEW! Gluten-Free Bakery at Native Sun

We have a large segment of customers who shop at Native Sun because they must follow a special diet for their health and cannot find the products they need at a conventional grocery store. We have always given special diets special attention from the variety of products we stock to our unique color coded shelf tagging system that easily identifies gluten-free, casein-free, no peanut added and low sodium products. That is why we are so excited to announce the official opening of the Native Sun Gluten-Free Bakery!

While we have been using no-gluten added recipes in the Native Sun Bakery since April 2009, we now have trained staff, a dedicated area and quality control procedures in place to run a completely contained gluten-free bakery. In addition, bakery items are also periodically tested to assure product safety. 

This effort was led by our Food Education Coordinator Ginny Nehring, whose son Brad is on a gluten-free diet for the treatment of Celiac Disease. Ginny has also authored a gluten-free cookbook called Brad’s Basics and offers free store tours for customers new to shopping for gluten-free, casein-free and other special diet needs.

Look for the items below in-store now & new recipes coming soon!

GF Oatmeal Creme Pies
GF Chocolate Chip Cake
GF Chocolate Brownies
GF Apple Cake
GF Carrot Cake
GF Pound Cake
GF Muffins And More

Individual items are sold by the Juice Bar and Deli at both locations. Large quantity orders or full cakes for birthdays, weddings or other special occasions are available by pre-order.

We hope our new Gluten-Free Bakery will allow children & adults with Celiac Disease and other GF special diets to enjoy cakes, desserts, muffins and other scrumptious goodies that they would otherwise have to pass on or make from scratch. We also want to assure our non gluten-free dieters that these treats are as delicious as any “regular” recipe. The proof is in the pound cake!

Expanding HVP Recall for Possible Salmonella

BE AWARE! HVP stands for hydrolyzed vegetable protein, a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products. It seems a main supplier out of Las Vegas may be contaminated with Salmonella, thus endangering hundreds of products across the United States. Consumption of products containing Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly persons and others with weakened immune systems.

At this time we do not carry any of the affected products, but will stay on top of this issue for your safety. While many of these recalls are voluntary, they still pose a risk and we urge you to choose your meals with caution until this issue is resolved.

From FDA.GOV:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is actively investigating findings of Salmonella Tennessee in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, Inc., in Las Vegas, NV. HVP is a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings. It is often blended with other spices to make seasonings that are used in or on foods.”

At this time, no illnesses associated with this contamination have been reported to the FDA.

 

Items Recalled as of March 8, 2010:

Johnny’s Fine Foods French Dip Powdered Au Jus

T. Marzetti Southwest Ranch Veggie Dip

T. Marzetti Fat Free Southwest Ranch Veggie Dip

T. Marzetti Spinach Veggie Dip

Oak Lake Farms French Onion Chip Dip

Great ValueRanch Chip Dip

CastellaChicken Soup Base

Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips – Sweet Maui Onion

Hawaiian Sweet Maui Onion Rings

Homemade Gourmet Tortilla Soup Mix

Follow Your Heart BBQ Braised Tofu

Follow Your Heart Cheezy Garlic Pasta

Follow Your Heart Curried Tofu

Follow Your Heart Curried Tofu with Rice 

Follow Your Heart Heartsmart Burger

Follow Your Heart Kung Pao Tofu

Follow Your Heart Kung Pao Tofu with Rice

Follow Your Heart Savory Tofu Saute

Follow Your Heart Smoked “Chicken” Pasta

Follow Your Heart Sweet & Sour Tofu

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Tofu

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Tofu Wrap

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Braised Tofu

Follow Your Heart Texas Tofu

Follow Your Heart Veggie Burrito with Cheese

Follow Your Heart Low Fat Veggie Burrito

Follow Your Heart Beef Al Jus

Follow Your Heart Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing

Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing & Dip

Reser’s Ranch House Dressing

Reser’s Creamy Ranch Dip

Reser’s Clam Dip

Reser’s French Onion Dip

Reser’s Cheese and Bacon Dip

Reser’s Redskin Potato Safeway

Reser’s Potato RedSkin Walmart

Reser’s Redskin Potato

Reser’s Ranch Dip

Herbox  Beef Bouillon

Herbox  Chicken Bouillon

Herbox  Vegetable Bouillon

Concord Foods  Foods Vegetable Dip Seasoning – Homestyle

McCormick French Onion Dip Mix

McCormick Vegetable Dip Mix

McCormick Onion Gravy Mix

McCormick Corn Bread Stuffing

Delicioso Spinach Dip

De la Casa Spinach Dip

Rojo’s Garden Fresh Spinach Dip

Fresh Food Concepts Garden Fresh Spinach Dip

Fresh Food Concepts Spinach Dip with Real Yogurt

HK Anderson Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites

CVS Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites

President’s Choice Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Bite

Safeway Honey Mustard Onion Nugget

Sunflower Markets Honey Mustard Nugget

National Pretzel Company Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Pieces

National Pretzel Company Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Bites

National Pretzel Company Whole Grain Honey Mustard Nuggets

Great Nut Supply Honey Mustard Pretzels

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Honey Mustard Pretzels

Great Nut Supply Bar Mix

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Bar Mix

Rouses Louisiana’s Best Bar Mix

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Honey Cheddar Mix

 

Items Recalled as of March 11, 2010:

Publix Mushroom Gravy Mix                               

Publix Meatloaf Seasoning                                          

Publix Beef Flavored Stew Mix                            

Publix Au Jus Gravy Mix

Dean’s Creamy Taco Dip

Dean’s Green Onion Dip

Dean’s Ranch Dip

Dean’s Guacamole Dip

Dean’s Zesty Guacamole Dip

Dean’s French Onion Dip

Dean’s French Onion w/Bacon Dip

Quaker Snack Mix Baked Cheddar

 

For Updates:

Click here for a PDF of all the recalled products.

Click here to check for any updates on the recall list.