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12 Fresh Foods You Should Never Store Together

Your cart is bursting with colorful fruits and veggies, but days later, it’s all wilted and sad. Use these smart storage rules to keep foods fresher longer.

Cucumbers stand alone
Many fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, and melons, produce ethylene gas, a ripening agent that speeds up spoilage. Cucumbers are super sensitive to this ethylene gas, so they need their own place or they’ll spoil faster. They’re actually more suited to hanging out on the counter than in the crisper drawer with off-gassing fruits, but if you want cold cucumbers, you can store them for a few days in the fridge (away from fruits). If you need to use them up fast, try this refreshing cold cucumber soup.

Treat herbs like fresh flowers
If you’re trying to cut back on salt or just add more flavor to your food, fresh herbs fit the bill, but don’t just toss them in the fridge. “Store fresh herbs just as you would fresh cut flowers,” says Dana Tomlin, Fresh Manager at Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin, Texas. First, make sure the leaves are completely dry. Next, snip off the ends and place the herbs, stem down in a cup or mason jar with water. Most herbs do well when stored this way in the fridge. Basil, however likes to hang out at room temperature. You’ll still want to place it in a jar with water though. When the water gets yucky, drain and add fresh water. Most herbs stored this way are good for up to two weeks. Start your own herb garden to save money and get super-fresh sprigs.

Squash and pumpkins don’t go with apples and pears
Squash and pumpkins are well known for having a long shelf life but apples, another fall favorite (along with pears and other ripening fruit) shouldn’t be stored with them. According to Oregon State University Extension Service, it will cause the squash to yellow and go bad. Squash and pumpkins keep well at temps between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooler than room temperature but not as chilly as the fridge. Larger pumpkins and larger squash will last up to six months, but keep an eye on the smaller ones, as they usually last about three months. See what nutritionists do with pumpkin puree.

Bag your root veggies
Root vegetables such as carrots, yams, kohlrabi, beets, and onions are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies we can eat, since they absorb nutrients from the soil. To retain those good nutrients, store root vegetables in a cool, dark, and humid place. A root cellar is ideal, but most of us don’t have one. The next best option, according to ohmyveggies.com, is to place the veggies in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper. If you just toss them in the fridge—even in the crisper, they’ll soften and rot a lot quicker.

Give your berries a bath
Berries are delightfully sweet and easy to eat. The problem is, they can get moldy quickly if not stored properly. The culprit is tiny mold spores that want to make the little nooks and crannies of the berry skin their home. Tomlin says the first rule is to avoid washing them until you’re ready to eat them because moisture equals mold. What if you just brought home a Costco-size carton of berries and won’t be able to eat them all right away? You can extend their life by a few days by taking a few minutes to give the berries a bath in a solution of one cup vinegar to three cups of water. Let them soak briefly; then gently rinse in a colander. The vinegar will hinder the mold growth. Since berries don’t do well sitting wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly—lay them out on a paper towel and gently blot (or put a few paper towels in your salad spinner and dry them that way. Store the berries loosely in a container that is ventilated, or leave the lid partially opened.


Separate your apples and oranges
Sometimes, we can’t just all get along. That’s the case with apples and oranges—trusted fruit bowl staples in still life paintings but frenemies in fridge life. Fruits give off a gas called ethylene, the ripening agent that will lead to faster spoilage of the produce around it, says author and chef, Matthew Robinson of The Culinary Exchange. Store apples in the fridge if you want to extend their shelf life. Oranges stored in the fridge (away from apples) should be placed in a mesh bag so that air can circulate around them. Plastic bags will only make oranges moldy.

Break up your bananas
Banana hooks may show off bananas in their best light but the problem is, they will all ripen the same time, which means you’re either eating bananas for two days straight or tossing the rotting ones. Here’s a solution: Break up the bunch. Keep some in the fruit bowl on the counter to ripen and store others bananas in the fridge to delay the ripening process. If you missed your chance and you’ve got a glut of spotted bananas, use them in banana bread or toss them in the freezer to make banana “ice cream.” Bananas are good for your health—inside and out. Another idea: Try mashing them up to make a homemade face mask.

Don’t let onions and potatoes mingle
Fried potatoes and onions are a delish combo but don’t store them together before you cook them, as the onions will cause the potatoes to go bad. “It’s best to store items like potatoes and squash in an open-air wicker basket in a cool, dark place to preserve freshness,” says Tomlin. “You can store them in a paper bag, but just make sure they’re in a container where moisture or condensation can’t build up, which would make them soften and go bad faster.” A friendly neighbor for onions is garlic. They can be stored near each other without ripening or spoiling. Just store them in a well ventilated space, and keep the paper-like skin of the garlic intact until use.

Ripen avocados next to bananas
According to the 2017 survey conducted by Pollock Communications and the trade publication Today’s Dietitian avocado is number two on the list of the Top 10 Super Foods for 2017. Since avocados can be pricey, it’s important to store them correctly. “If your avocados are under-ripe, store them next to bananas. The gasses released from the bananas promote ripening,” says Tomlin. “If you need to extend the life of an avocado, store it in the refrigerator. It will slow the ripening process significantly.” For times you get a hankerin’ for a little sliced avocado on a sammie but can’t eat the whole thing, Tomlin suggests storing the cut avocado with the seed intact in an airtight container along with a sliver of a onion.

Tomatoes hate the fridge
Or is the fridge that hates tomatoes? A freshly picked garden tomato is undeniably delicious, but too much time in the fridge can make it mushy and bland-tasting. According to eatright.org, tomatoes can be stored in the fridge for two or three days but once you cut into it any unused tomato or any fruit and veggie should be placed back in the fridge to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria. But tomatoes kept at room temperature have more flavor. So, if you can, store them on the countertop. See the other foods you’re spoiling by putting them in the fridge.

Let carrots, celery, and, asparagus take a dip
Peanut butter on a crunchy stalk of celery is a snack that has stood the test of time (especially if you put raisins atop the peanut butter), but limp celery—not so much. Storing it in plastic is a no-no. The ethylene gas it produces has no where to go. Wrap the celery tightly in foil and after each use, re-wrap it snug. Or if you want grab-n-go celery, cut it up into sticks and submerge them in water in an airtight container. The same water bath works for cut-up carrot sticks and asparagus. Keep the rubber bands around the stems and cut off the fibrous ends. They are pretty tough and not tasty anyway. Place them in a tall drinking glass with enough water to cover an inch of asparagus. Find 30 more delicious snack ideas.

Let sweet corn chill—but not too much
The best way to enjoy this sweetheart of summer is to eat it fresh for maximum sweetness. If you must store it for a short time, you can place it in the fridge. “Keep ears cool in your refrigerator with the husks on to keep in moisture,” says Tomlin. Don’t wrap the corn in a plastic or paper bag. If possible, store them toward the front of fridge where it’s slightly warmer. “Corn will dry out and get starchy if it’s kept too cold because there’s not enough humidity to keep the kernel plumb,” says Tomlin. Keep the husks on for grilling corn on the cob.

source: www.rd.com

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March Against Monsanto Coming to a City Near You

Brandi, selected from Diets in Review   May 18, 2013
Those angered by the recent signing of the Monsanto Protection Act will have a chance to air their frustrations next Saturday, May 25. The March Against Monsanto is taking place in cities all over the world to protest the company and the act that many feel was signed to give it power over the law.

The March Against Monsanto website shows 44 countries taking part in the March. Most Marches are being held in the United States, taking place in 38 different states and Puerto Rico. These Marches have been organized just two months after the bill was signed into law by President Obama. Though spurred on by the signing of the Monsanto Protection Act, the March Against Monsanto is being held to also protest other aspects of the company. The website states the purposes of the March are:

Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.

In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GM products.

Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.

For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.

Monsanto’s GM seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world’s bee population.

It is hoped that the March will unite those against Monsanto in their cause to eradicate genetically modified foods. The promotion of small and organic farms is also a rallying point, with many of the Marches being held taking place in or around farmer’s markets. The people behind the March Against Monsanto are also asking their followers buy organic and boycott Monsanto owned companies that use GMOs in their products. To find a March near you, visit the official March Against Monsanto website, www.march-against-monsanto.com

source: care2.com

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Stevia is sweet – but is it safe?

The Globe and Mail

Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 16 2011

Forget sugar. And aspartame. And sucralose. Although it’s not yet authorized for use as an additive in food, a low-calorie, all-natural sweetener is making its way into Canadian products, with environmentally-themed marketing strategies that could change the way consumers view alternatives to sugar.
The sweetener is derived from a plant called stevia, which grows in Paraguay and Brazil and has been used for centuries in South America. It’s already available in Canadian natural-food stores as a tabletop sweetener. But now companies such as Cargill Ltd. and Merisant Worldwide Inc. are extracting rebaudioside A, one of the components that makes the plant sweet, and turning it into a zero-calorie, natural rival to artificial sweeteners like Splenda.
Cargill’s stevia product is known as Truvia, while Merisant – owner of other sweetener brands such as Equal – markets its as PureVia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last December it would allow stevia and its extracts to be added to food and beverages as a sweetener, which means the products are now being sold south of the border in grocery stores and being added to products.
U.S. ads for Truvia feature women tasting the crystals or sprinkling them in coffee in between images of a bright green leaf dripping with water. Truvia is described as “nature’s ultimate guilt-free indulgence” that won’t end up “on your conscience or your thighs.”
Ads created for Merisant’s PureVia feature U.S. volleyball player Gabrielle Reece in the nude, strategically covered by leafy green vines.
The marketing push appears to be working: Consumer research firm Mintel estimates the market for products made with stevia could reach $2-billion (U.S.) by the end of 2011.
Health Canada doesn’t allow stevia or its extracts to be used as a food additive in this country because of insufficient evidence to support its safety. The department is “currently reviewing its position on stevia extracts as an acceptable food additive,” Health Canada spokesman Philippe Laroche wrote in an e-mail this week.
But last month, the department released updated rules that allow stevia and its extracts to be added as a non-medicinal ingredient to natural health products, which has opened the door to allowing food and beverage makers to expand the use of stevia in their products.
For instance, PepsiCo Beverages Canada has just launched a new vitamin-infused Aquafina water beverage sweetened with PureVia. The company has submitted an application to Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate to have the water approved as a natural health product. Currently, the government isn’t taking action against low-risk natural health products that are sold before receiving approval.
“As consumers become ever more health-conscious, they continue to look for lower-calorie beverages and importantly all-natural beverages,” said Stacy Reichert, president of PepsiCo Beverages Canada.
Coca-Cola Canada is planning to introduce beverages made with Truvia in this country, but public-affairs manager Leigha Cotton wouldn’t disclose a timeline.
But not everyone is enthusiastic about stevia moving into the mainstream. Although it has a long history of use, there are fears that introducing stevia and its extracts in a wide variety of products could lead to potential health problems.
For instance, some studies have suggested it can lead to male reproductive problems, interfere with metabolism and cause genetic mutations.
“There are a lot of risks and none of the big players seem to care,” said Curtis Eckhert, professor in the environmental health sciences and molecular toxicology department at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Dr. Eckhert helped prepare a report last year for the U.S.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest that urged more testing on stevia extracts before it is widely introduced into the population.
He said evidence of possible genetic mutations in animals caused by stevia extracts is alarming and that companies should launch rigorous studies on the effects in humans to determine the potential risk.
“We thought the risk was high enough because of the data that’s out there, this study should be done before [stevia]is added in such a wide variety of products,” Dr. Eckhert said.
Executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest Michael Jacobson said he believes stevia is probably much safer than artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, but that more rigorous studies should be done.
“It would be reassuring to see more evidence of safety,” Mr. Jacobson said.
At PepsiCo, Ms. Reichert said the company believes there is “an extensive database” on the safety of rebaudioside A and that its long history of use provides strong evidence it won’t cause harm to consumers.
The sweet lowdown
Even the best artificial sweeteners may come with a health-related caveat. A breakdown of some of the best-known sugar alternatives:
What is it? A low-calorie artificial sweetener that has been approved for use in Canada since 1981. It is added to many products, including diet pop, yogurt, cereal and chewing gum.
Status: Sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet and is added to food and beverages by manufacturers.
What’s the catch? Numerous studies have suggested aspartame may be linked to the development of a variety of cancers. In 2005, a European study found rats fed aspartame at comparable levels per body weight to humans had a higher risk of developing brain tumours, lymphoma and leukemia.
What is it? An artificial sweetener that’s added to packaged foods and sold in packets or granulated form.
Status: Marketed under the name Splenda for use in baking.
What’s the catch? Some studies have suggested sucralose may promote weight gain and have a harmful effect on beneficial gut bacteria.
What is it? One of the oldest artificial sweeteners, discovered in the 1870s and used in products such as chewing gum, pop and breath mints.
Status: Banned for use as a food additive in Canada since the 1970s.
What’s the catch? Saccharin was banned after studies linked the sweetener to cancer in rats. However, it can be sold to consumers as a sweetener, but only at pharmacies.
What is it? An artificial sweetener that can often come in forms known as sodium cyclamate and calcium cyclamate.
Status: Banned for use as a food additive in Canada. But can be sold directly to consumers with a warning label (usually placed near the ingredient list) that it should only be used on advice of a physician. Sweet ‘N Low is one artificial sweetener in Canada that contains cyclamate.
What’s the catch? Cyclamate was banned as a food additive after numerous studies linked it to cancer in animals, as well as possible male reproductive problems.
Carly Weeks

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What’s really scary about Halloween: Crossing street, not tainted candy

By Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press October 17, 2012  

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Hey, mom and dad: Halloween’s not really all that scary — except when it comes to traffic safety.

Despite warnings about tainted candy, candle fires and even child abductions, real Halloween headlines are rarely about any of those things. Instead, tragedies related to the holiday typically involve trick-or-treaters hit by cars. Fortunately even those accidents are relatively few in number.

And here’s something that might surprise you. A study published in 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the most emergency room visits involving children around Halloween are related to sports.

The report stated nearly 18 per cent of injuries on Halloween were to the finger and hand, and a third of those were lacerations, with some likely resulting from pumpkin-carving. But the report added that “a much higher proportion of injuries that occurred on Halloween were associated with sports, including football and basketball, than with knives.”

Which is not to say parents should spend Oct. 31 relaxing. (Are parents ever allowed to relax?) Obviously, you need to know where kids are, monitor candy hauls, and make sure they can see out of their masks and won’t trip on their costumes. But here are some statistics to provide a reality check on what’s really scary about Halloween.

Of course you should examine goodies and make sure kids avoid treats that aren’t sealed.
But know this: “There isn’t any case of a child killed or injured from a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick or treating,” according to Joel Best, a professor at the University of Delaware who has extensively researched the subject.

Best says there have been more than 100 reports of tainted treats going back to 1958, but they include a father who poisoned his child to collect insurance money, incidents where someone gave out booby-trapped goodies but nobody was injured, and cases where kids had food allergies.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, in four out of six years between 2006 and 2010, more pedestrians under the age of 21 were killed by cars on Oct. 31 than on Oct. 30 or Nov. 1.

The numbers are small: A total of 16 deaths took place on Oct. 31 during those five years, compared to 11 on Oct. 30 and 10 on Nov. 1.

But a quick survey of news stories from 2011 suggests that traffic safety on Halloween is one area where parental vigilance is warranted. Last year, children and teenagers trick-or-treating or heading to Halloween parties were injured or killed in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Egg Harbor Township, N.J., Port Bolivar, Texas, Lower Allen Township, Pa., and Colorado Springs, Colo. Most cases involved pedestrians hit while crossing streets or walking along roads; one case resulted in a drunk driving arrest. In another case, parents were injured along with their child.

One way to increase pedestrian visibility on Halloween: Have kids carry a flashlight or glowstick, or add glow-in-the-dark necklaces or reflective tape to costumes.

Statistically it’s rare for children to be kidnapped by strangers, but it seems like there’s always a case in the news. In the last few weeks, a girl was found murdered in Colorado and another child was abducted, then found, in Wyoming. So it’s understandable that Halloween makes parents nervous, with kids out after dark, sometimes unaccompanied by parents, often approaching strangers to ask for candy.

Obviously parents should keep track of kids, stay in touch by cellphone with teens, and make sure younger children have adult supervision.

But perhaps you’ll find this reassuring: There is no data to suggest an increase in reports of missing children on Halloween, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Candles are often used for spooky decor and to light pumpkins. Be mindful if kids in billowy costumes are nearby.

But the fact is, according to Dr. John Hall, division director of the National Fire Protection Association, “there is no localized spike in reported fire injuries around Halloween.”

In past years, there has been a phenomenon called “Devil’s Night,” especially in the Detroit area, of arson at abandoned properties. A 2005 report from the U.S. Fire Administration noted that “on Halloween, and the night before, incendiary and suspicious structure fires are about 60 per cent more frequent than on an average day.” But the number of fires has been decreasing thanks to community and police patrols and other efforts. In 1984, more than 800 fires were started in Detroit during the Halloween period, compared to 169 in 2010 and 94 last year.

source: timescolonist.com

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‘Best Before’ confusion leading to needless food waste

Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca Staff

Date: Monday Dec. 26, 2011 7:14 PM ET

You’ve opened up your fridge to find a tub of unopened yogurt with a Best Before date that says it expired three days ago. Would you toss it out? Most of us would. After all, “when it doubt, throw it out,” we’ve all been told.

In fact, though, you would likely be throwing away perfectly good food. As long as that yogurt had been stored properly since being bought, it would still be good a few days after its Best Before date. The same is true with milk, cheeses and countless other foods.

And yet every year, thousands of kilograms of food are needlessly thrown away simply because consumers misunderstand what the Best Before date means.

Most of us see them as expiration dates, when they’re often anything but. In fact, a Best Before date says nothing about the safety of a food.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency points out that Best Before dates are only an indicator of the “quality” of the product — meaning how long it will maintain its optimum taste and texture. The dates don’t guarantee that the food is safe before that date, and they don’t necessarily mean that the food is unsafe after that date.

“You can buy and eat foods after the ‘best before’ date has passed,” the CFIA says on its website. “However, when this date has passed, the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or its texture may have changed.”

In other words, Best Before dates are merely suggestions about how long a food will taste “fresh,” not whether it’s safe.

The only foods that the government insists must have expiration dates are infant formula, meal replacements and nutritional supplements. These must come with an “expiration date” because the vitamins in these foods can deteriorate, rendering them useless.

What might also surprise many shoppers: while the government requires Best Before dates on foods that will keep fresh for less than 90 days, it’s left up to food makers to pick those dates; there is little oversight from the government.

Another surprise: Those canned and packaged items in your cupboard? These don’t need to have a Best Before date at all. Not that it stops manufacturers from adding dates to such products anyway.

Check the labels of cookies, crackers, pasta mixes, canned tuna and beans and most come with Best Before dates. But none of these dates have anything to do with food safety; in fact, these foods are typically safe to eat long after their Best Before dates have passed. (Of course, that’s assuming the can isn’t bulging or leaking. It’s never safe to eat from those cans.)

Even soft drinks often come with “best if used by” dates, though their manufacturers insist there is no danger from drinking the products beyond those dates.

How do food makers decide when a food is past its “optimal freshness” on the shelf? That’s unclear. It seems it’s really up to them to decide because there aren’t government regulations on such decisions. That’s prompted some, including The Telegraph food writer Rose Prince, to suggest that food makers set the dates deliberately early, so that consumers toss the foods out sooner and buy more.

“The dates are decided by the manufacturers after testing and some would certainly have an interest in setting these dates at conservative levels. After all, the more we throw away, the more we buy,” she wrote earlier this year.

The problem is that when consumers become confused by these labels, and mistake Best Before dates as expiry dates, they toss out products as soon as the dates have passed, resulting in thousands of kilograms of needless food waste every year.

(It’s important to note that all these rules about Best Before dates apply only to foods that haven’t been opened. Once opened, most foods need to be consumed quickly, though the rules vary.)

The issue of food waste has been a hot topic in the U.K. in the last few years — and not only because food prices around the world have been rising. Much of it stems from a 2008 report from the U.K.-government group called WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The government-funded group published a report three years ago entitled “The food we waste,” in which they carefully studied the food disposing habits of Britons, actually auditing the household garbage of thousands of them.

What they found was fascinating — and disturbing.

The most sobering fact: on average, every Briton throws away 70 kilograms (150 lbs) of “avoidable” food waste a year — the weight of an average person.

By “avoidable” food waste, they meant food that could have been eaten if it had been managed better by buying the right amount, storing it correctly and eating it up quickly.

Yes, there’s unavoidable waste, such as vegetable peelings, meat bones and coffee grounds. But the audit found that more than 60 per cent of food that was being wasted each year in Britain was avoidable.

The audits also found that over a quarter of avoidable food waste was thrown away whole or still in its packaging. This included stale bakery items, overripe fruits and packaged food such as yogurts that had passed their Best Before dates.

WRAP estimated that a full 20 per cent of food waste is linked to date labeling confusion.

Though these are British figures, there’s no reason to believe the situation is much better in Canada. In fact, it might even be worse, since there are plenty more oversized refrigerators — where foods get pushed to the back and forgotten — in North America than Britain.

In a bid to cut down on some of this waste, the British government brought in new guidelines last September to clarify freshness dating and to educate the public on what Best Before dates mean and don’t mean.

The government would like food makers to stop using Sell-By or Display Until dates, which they found were really just meant for stock control reasons. WRAP found that consumers were reading the labels and becoming confused about what they meant, leading to some of the unnecessary waste.

The British government would like food to be labelled with one date only — either a Use By date or a Best Before date. Use By labels would only apply to foods that could become unsafe to eat after the specified date. It will go on such foods as soft cheeses, meat, fish, eggs and ready meals. Best Before dates, on the other hand, will indicate only that the product is no longer at its best, though it would still be safe to consume.

In Canada, most consumers don’t see Sell By dates as much as they do in the U.S. and the U.K. But it’s likely most Canadian consumers share the same confusion over Best Before and Use By dates.

In the U.K., WRAP is working with the food industry to roll out public education programs to reinforce to consumers how Best Before dates work. Here in Canada, the messaging hasn’t been as clear, though there are a few websites that offer help. The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education is a good start and offers a chart for how long it’s safe to keep unopened and opened foods in the fridge.

Still Tasty.com is another site that offers tips on the shelf life of foods. You can look up just about any food and it will tell you how long that food will stay fresh for and when it’s best to toss it. Their advice on that barely-expired yogurt?

“Yogurt that has been properly stored will generally remain safe for at least 7 to 10 days after the ‘sell-by’ date on the package,” the site says.

source: CTV.CA