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Southern Food Adventures

March 23rd, 2011

I just finished a one week road trip to the south, visiting Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville (AKA Nash Vegas), New Orleans, Orange Beach, Alabama, and Como, Mississippi. Apart from the confederate flags, giant trucks, and southern hospitality, one of the most striking observations was the size of the people. As it turns out, my trip went through the heart of the most obese states in the country:

This scary chart (from calorielab) is only the obese people, with a BMI of 30 or greater. When you take into account those that are overweight as well, the statistics are quite overwhelming:

70% of Mississippi Residents are overweight! Taking a glimpse at the food I ate may offer some insights into this phenomenon.

Baby back ribs with barbecue sauce, french fries, sugary baked beans, and garlic bread. It was so delicious.

Fried chicken was EVERYWHERE.

This was in a Wal-Mart in North Carolina. Never seen so much sugar in my life.


Alligator stew – very tasty

With the beer, sweat tea, soda, breaded and fried everything, barbeque sauce and sugar coated baked beans it is no surprise that these southerners may have some trouble with their weight. Food that is great for a week vacation, yet terrible when eaten for an entire lifetime.

Nutrition and Weight Loss, Restaurants

Breast Milk Ice Cream!?!? A hit in London

February 28th, 2011

Cow milk is so 1990s...

Yes you heard correctly. Breast milk ice cream. Lactation has never been so in….at least in the U.K. An eccentric ice cream shop in the London called the Ice Creamists started serving ice cream made with human breast milk, calling it “Baby Gaga”.
Strange? Yes. Waste of breast milk that could have prevented vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition in the Donor-mothers’ babies? Maybe. But disgusting it is not, at least according to store founder Matt O’Connor:

How could anyone POSSIBLY say this is disgusting. If it is good enough for our kids, it’s good enough for anyone else.

Mr. O’Connor went on to say, “it’s pure, it’s natural, it’s organic, and it’s free range — and if it’s good enough for our kids, it’s good enough to use in our ice cream.”

The Ice Creamists shop is not exactly your typical ice cream shop, with a parental advisory on their website and scantily clad, lady-gaga look-a-likes wearing Madonna cone bras serving you ice cream made from human body fluids:



Maybe it tastes great, but is it safe? And is it any healthier then regular cow’s milk, as some may claim?

The nutrition in 1 cup of whole milk as calculated by PhotoCalorie:

And 1 cup of human breast milk, according to the USDA’s Nutrient Database:

Calories: 172
Total Fat: 10.7 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 34 mg
Sodium: 42 mg
Carbohydrates: 16.95 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 2.53 g
Sugar: 16.95 g

They are quite similar. Human milk has slightly more calories and fat, but surprisingly much less protein. But what if the donor was sick, like with HIV for example? The FDA cautions against donor breast milk, saying:

If you are considering feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you should know that there are possible health and safety risks for the baby. Risks for the baby include exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened. In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.

According to the Ice Creamists, the milk came from women found on an Internet advertisement, and their milk was screened in line with hospital/blood donor requirements. Sadly the city of London is not convinced, removing the ice cream from the shop, amid concerns that it is unsafe.

Unfortunately Mr.O’Connor will have to come up with a new type of ice cream, hopefully not including any other body fluids…

Founder Matt O'Connor

Food Marketing, Nutrition and Weight Loss, Restaurants

Taco Bell Beef – Perfect for the 64% Vegetarian!

February 2nd, 2011

As you may have heard, there has been some controversy over how beefy Taco Bell’s Beef actually is. At first, I was confused as to why this story was getting so much buzz. Is it really that surprising that Taco Bell’s ingredients aren’t locally grown and farm fresh?

The issue lies in the fact that Taco Bell calls its meat Beef to begin with. According to the USDA, you can’t call your food Beef unless it contains the following:

Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

Here is the ingredient list from Taco Bell’s “Beef”, from the gizmodo blog:

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

The complaint was filed by a consumer that tested the meat and found it to contain only 36% beef, and 64% other stuff. They believe Taco Bell should change the name of their “Beef” to “Meat Taco Filling”, defined by the USDA as at least 40% fresh meat. Unfortunately, Taco Bell’s “Beef” is only 36% according to this complaint.

Taco Bell’s Australian president thinks otherwise. He says their meat is “88% beef” plus water and flavors:



They have also posted a statement online entitled “Thank you for suing us,” falsifying the claim and threatening to counter-sue.

So who’s lying here? It’s tough to tell so far. As far as I can tell, the USDA has not released any statements confirming or negating these claims.

EIther way, I think it’s a non-issue. People who really care about the quality of their beef probably don’t eat at Taco Bell in the first place. On the upside, vegetarians can eat Taco Bell Beef tacos and not feel terribly bad about it!

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Food Marketing, Restaurants