Veggie Libel Law

Over the past couple years I’ve heard an awful lot about a documentary called “Food Inc.” Many of my friends source it as a stimulant for changing their diet or becoming more selective about what  brands they support. I finally watched it this weekend and it was amazing. Terrifying, but amazing. If you haven’t seen it you definitely should check it out (I watched it off Documentary Addict). If anything, it’ll help you rethink your purchasing power as a consumer. The documentary covers so many topics I’ll probably reference it in other posts, but today I’m very much concerned with one thing: veggie libel laws.

What’s a veggie libel law?
More formally known as food disparagement laws, veggie libel laws give food producers the power to sue critics of its products for libel. They were passed in 13 states including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.

Why are these laws even a thing?
Food producers realized that sales significantly decreased when their products were mentioned to be unsafe or unhealthy or  [insert other negative descriptors here].

My sassy thought process: Wow! You mean negative feedback can affect your sales? Must be an entirely new concept very specific to the food industry. Hey, how about let’s take away freedom of speech so we can produce food that may or may not be up to health standards and no one can say anything about it. 

What would be considered “libel”?
Technically “libel” is a false statement that damages one’s reputation. There are a lot of gray areas about this, especially because sometimes opinions can come across as factual assertions in a certain context.

One of the most well-known cases of a veggie libel lawsuit is the lawsuit between Oprah and the meat industry. Oprah was sued by the meat industry after talking about her fears of eating hamburgers after learning about the practices of beef product producers and its connection to “Mad Cow Disease”. On the show Oprah said she was “stopped cold from eating another burger.” This episode apparently had a devastating impact on beef sales. Thankfully she won the case, but her legal fees amounted to more than one million dollars.

I’m baffled that these laws can even exist given that they limit the freedom of speech and create a chilling effect, which discourages people from exercising their natural rights out of fear. Further, it seems as though the laws are being invoked more for opinions than false disparagement of food products. If there’s any industry that should be open to criticism from its consumer population its the food industry because preservation of health should be top priority in all of our lives and to our government. It’s evident that these laws were created to squash the voice of the little guys and protect the big corporations. If you’d like to learn more about these laws, this video gives a pretty solid history and overview.

How do you feel about these laws? Do you think it’s right to limit our freedom of speech to stabilize food sales? Will you be more wary of what you say about meat and other food products?

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The Milk Myth

The other day my friend and I were talking about how easy it is to be misinformed about the nutritional quality of food if we accept media messaging at face value and don’t do research. For a very long time (i.e. until this year) I thought that milk and other dairy products were generalizable as healthy because they “provide calcium” and all that stuff.

I’ve never liked milk all that much. Growing up I drank milk only with my two golden foods: cereal and chocolate. If I felt ambitious I’d drink the remaining milk in my bowl. My entire family felt the same way about milk and we never understood how people could drink it with their dinner. Blech. Suddenly the summer after freshman year I began to enjoy a cold glass of milk by itself. My parents thought I went to the dark side. I thought I was being healthy. In my head: “look at me, getting all this calcium!” Oh, how wrong I was. The truth is that the commercial dairy industry has ingrained us with the idea that we must drink milk to have strong bones. There are multiple problems with this.

First, the human body wasn’t necessarily meant to digest pasteurized milk, especially milk from non-humans.  No other species consumes milk in adulthood and I highly doubt humans have a specific gene that requires we drink milk from other animals to grow. While primitive societies have thrived on milk for a while, there’s a distinct differences between raw milk from grass-fed cows to pasteurized milk from grain-fed cows. After pasteurization most of the nutritional benefits of milk that do exist are destroyed. We barely absorb the calcium.

Second, numerous  studies have found that there is no relation between high calcium intake and strong bones.

Third, recent research has suggested that drinking pasteurized milk actually increases calcium loss. Ingesting milk increases the acidity of the body’s PH level so the body takes action to neutralize the PH using one of the most effective acid neutralizers— calcium. The process of neutralizing actually takes more calcium than you’re consuming by drinking milk in the first place.

Knowing all of this, it’s amazing that the “Got Milk” campaign is so present in schools. It misinforms kids about the nutrients of food and disables them from making healthy, informed decisions about what they put into their bodies. At least tell them that calcium can be found in high quality among vegetables. The new nutrition slogan should be: “when in doubt, eat vegetables”. High-calcium alternatives to milk include dark green veggies (no surprise there), dry beans, sesame seeds and almonds, salmon, sardines, sunflower seeds, and okra. I’m sure there are many more. Shout out to vanilla almond milk! You sneaky nut you.

Did anyone else grow up with this misconception of milk? How did you learn about its true nutritional worth? Has this changed how often you drink it or what kind of milk you drink?

Sources:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/is-cows-milk-meant-for-human-consumption-part-1/

http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/

Vegan-friendly Halloween Candy

Whether you’re trick-or-treating, handing out candy, or stuffing your face as a distraction from homework, it’s important to have an idea of what candy is vegan-friendly even if you’re not yourself vegan. Here’s a guide to vegan candy that’s offered nationwide and also an online natural candy store.

Let me know if anything needs to be added or removed:

AirHeads Taffy
Blue Raspberry
Cherry
Green Apple 
Sours
Blue Raspberry 
Sours
Cherry
Sours
Green Apple
Strawberry
Watermelon
White Mystery

Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks
Organic Tropical Treat Bunny Fruit Snacks
Organic Berry Patch Bunny Fruit Snacks
Organic Sunny Citrus Bunny Fruit Snacks
Organic Summer Strawberry Bunny Fruit Snacks
Organic Grapes Galore Bunny Fruit Snacks
Organic Pink Lemonade Bunny Fruit Snacks

Biona Organic Tutti Frutti Wine Gums

BoomChocoBoom
Ricemilk Chocolate
Ricemilk Crunch
Dark Chocolate

Brachs Fruit Slices

Charms Blow Pops
Black Cherry
Blue Razz
Cherry
Cherry Ice
Grape
Kiwi Berry
Lemonade
Orange
Sour Apple
Strawberry
Tangerine Mango
Watermelon

Atkinson’s Chick-o-Stick

Chuao Chocolatier
Caracas Dark Chocolate Bar Set
ChocoPod Spicy Maya Caddy
ChocoPod Coco Caddy
ChocoPod Coffee and Anise Caddy
Coco Bar Set
Coffee and Anise Bar Set
Dark Chocolate Seashells
Gingerettes
Orangettes
Origins Chocolate Bar
Classic Panko Bar Set
Spicy Maya Chocolate Bar Set

Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit

Crispy Cat Candy Bars
Mint Coconut
Toasted Almond

Cracker Jack Original Caramel Coated Popcorn and Peanuts

Dots

Dum-Dums

Endangered Species
Organic Dark Chocolate Bug Bites
Organic Dark Chocolate Chimp Mints

Feel Good Inc.
Macarons

Ginger People
Gin Gins Double Strength Hard Ginger Candy
Gin Gins Hot Coffee Chewy Ginger Candy
Gin Gins Original Chewy Ginger Candy
Gin Gins Peanut Chewy Ginger Candy
Gin Gins Spicy Apple Chewy Ginger Candy
Gin Gins Super Strength Ginger Caramel Candy
Ginger Spice Drops

Go Max Go Foods
Buccaneer
Cleo’s Peanut Butter Cups
Jokerz
Mahalo
Snap!
Twilight

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Original Dark

Goody Good Stuff
Cola Breeze
Sour Fruit Salad
Sour Mix ‘n’ Match
Summer Peaches

Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum

Jolly Rancher Hard Candy

Let’s Do…Organic
Classic Fruiti Bears Gummies
Jelly Fruiti Bears Gummies
Sour Fruiti Bears Gummies

Mamba Fruit Chews

Mary Janes

Newman’s Own Licorice Twists

Now and Later

Panda
Blueberry
Licorice
Candy-Coated Licorice
Cherry Licorice
Raspberry Licorice
Soft Licorice

Pez Candy

Premium Chocolatiers

Pure Organic
Fruit Snacks

Saf-T-Pops

Seitenbacher Gummi Fruit

Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates

Skittles
Blenders
Crazy Cores
Original Fruit
Riddles
Tropical
Wild Berry
Sour

Smarties

Sour Patch
Original Sour Patch Kids
Sour Patch Blue Raspberry
Sour Patch Cherry
Sour Patch Extreme
Sour Patch Fruits
Sour Patch Peach
Sour Patch Watermelon

Stockley’s Cinder Toffee

Surf Sweets
Fruity Bears
Gummy Swirls
Sour Worms
Sour Berry Bears
Fruity Hearts

Swedish Fish

Sweet & Sara
Cinnamon Pecan Marshmallows
Mini Marshmallows
Mini S’mores
Original S’mores
Peanut Butter S’mores
Rice Crispy Treats
Rocky Road Bark
Strawberry Marshmallows
Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
Vanilla Marshmallows
Organic Macaroons

Twizzlers (no more gelatin!)
Strawberry
Chocolate
Cherry
Strawberry Rainbow
Black Licorice
Sweet and Sour Filled

VerMints

Whizzers Chocolate Beans

YummyEarth
Lollipops
Sour Beans

References (I did not include all the candy in the lists provided below, as some are “mistakes” and not actually vegan):
websites of distributors

http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4487&catId=2

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852621

Veganism Myths

Myths often exist because of a lack of knowledge. Ethical Ocean, an online marketplace for ethical products & service in North America,  created this handy-dandy infographic to dispel some common misconceptions about the vegan lifestyle.

(Note: please disregard the unnecessary sex differentiation of protein intake. I acknowledge that adequate protein varies per person according to physical activity, size, and other factors that aren’t essentially sex-related). 

Veganism Myths Debunked

via Ethical Ocean – eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.