Free range eggs – Consumer pressure works

Our focus for January is free range eggs, boxed and as ingredients.

It is amazing how such a small thing can make sure a huge difference. Hellman’s using about 331 million eggs annually. Chickens lay around 1 egg per day, therefore this has changed the lives of around 331 million chickens a year. Remember check all labels if it doesn’t say free range it isn’t. See what you find and add info via comments.

In a groundbreaking move, Hellmann’s UK and now USA have gone free-range on all mayonnaise.

Responding to growing media attention and consumer concern for chickens, a Hellmann’s spokesperson said: “By July 2008, all Hellmann’s Mayonnaise on the supermarket shelves will have been made using free-range eggs.

“Hellmann’s UK has proactively chosen to make this change and work started on this project back in 2006. It has taken some time because it was important that Hellmann’s could ensure continuity of supply when dealing with such large volumes. Increased production of free-range eggs has now enabled Hellmann’s to move supply.”

Compassion in World Farming Food Business Manager, Rowen West-Henzell, said: “We are delighted by this move, which demonstrates that Hellmann’s is serious about farm animal welfare. Its decision will help nearly two hundred thousand laying hens out of cages every year.

“Not only that, Hellmann’s UK is showing tremendous leadership in an area that often goes unnoticed – egg product. Many consumers buy free-range whole eggs but forget to do the same with other products that contain egg, like cakes and mayonnaise. By going completely free-range in the UK, Hellmann’s is really helping British consumers make clear ethical choices.”

The announcement came after sustained media attention on the welfare of chickens in food production. Compassion in World Farming has met with Hellmann’s previously in relation to their sourcing policies and will continue our dialogue with their team. The move won Hellmann’s UK a Good Egg Award, which they are celebrating in a major advertising campaign across the UK – sample poster above.

If you want to help hens remember to buy free-range egg products as well as free-range shell eggs. Look out for free-range cakes, biscuits and, of course, mayonnaise.

And since 2017 – Hellman’s Mayonnaise is now made with 100 percent cage-free eggs in the United States, Hellman’s parent company Unilever announced Monday. The announcement was made a full three years ahead of schedule, after Hellman’s pledged in 2010 to be cage-free by 2020.

“They are one of the largest egg buyers to reach the point of exclusively using cage-free eggs, and they were also one of the first companies to announce that they were going to do it,” says Josh Balk, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “I think that maybe at this point, in terms of the very large, national brands, it might be solely Unilever and Whole Foods.”

“Hellmann’s and Unilever have proven yet again that doing well goes hand-in-hand with doing good,” said Matthew Prescott, Senior Food Policy Director for The Humane Society of the United States, in a press release. “People want animal welfare assurances when it comes to the food they buy, and Hellmann’s move shows just how in synch the company is with its customers.”

According to Russel Lilly, Marketing Director at Hellman’s, the company had to completely rebuild its supply chain to achieve this goal, which was facilitated by the market shift that occurred in the U.S. after an increased demand for cage-free eggs, particularly amongst large egg buyers.

Hellman’s original pledge was made when only two percent of egg-laying hens in the United States were cage-free. Today, that number has reached about ten percent.

“We are moving fast,” says Balk. “If you look at the trajectory, by 2025 in the United States, it’s likely going to be very difficult to find an egg from a caged chicken anywhere in the country.”

The speed at which Hellman’s was able to achieve this goal is, Balk says, a testament to Unilever’s commitment to animal welfare.

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The protein myth

Where does protein come from? We have to eat meat and dairy for protein, don’t we? Protein has played a huge part in the marketing and promotion of meat, dairy and eggs. Ask anyone (except me) where protein comes from and I bet they will all say meat, dairy and eggs.

Proteins comes from plants!!! That is where the animals get it from and so can you.

Just ask the (vegetarian + the occasional termite eating) hairy grey dude pictured below. Anyone that had doubts about the quality of plant based v animal based protein watch this short video, it explains it all https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-protein-combining-myth and for more inspiration visit http://www.greatveganathletes.com

 

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Why don’t we love pigs?

We are a nation of animal lovers. Dogs are a mans best friend. A clip of a fox on a trampoline gets 500,000 FB likes, so where did it go so wrong for pigs?

Pigs can often outsmart dogs and are on about the same intellectual level as our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, according to a new paper. The research project, described in a paper published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8sx4s79c aims to put a face on animals that are traditionally just viewed as sources of meat.

“We have shown that pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans,” neuroscientist Lori Marino of Emory University and The Nonhuman Rights Project said in a press release. “There is good scientific evidence to suggest we need to rethink our overall relationship to them.”

They found that pigs:

  1. Have excellent long-term memories
  2. Are excellent with mazes and other tests requiring location of objects
  3. Can comprehend a simple symbolic language and can learn complex combinations of symbols for actions and objects
  4. Love to play and engage in mock fighting with each other, similar to play in dogs and other mammals
  5. live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and learn from one another
  6. Cooperate with one another
  7. Can manipulate a joystick to move an on-screen cursor, a capacity they share with chimpanzees
  8. Can use a mirror to find hidden food
  9. Exhibit a form of empathy when witnessing the same emotion in another individual

No animal deserves to be treated inhumanely but considering the way pigs are treated with respect to their mental capacity, it seems inconceivable that we allow this to happen. Pigs, specifically breeding sows take my number one spot for worse off animal in factory farming systems (there are close contenders). What they endure would be considered mental and physical torture were it applied to humans. I would challenge any person with even a shred of empathy to learn how pigs are treated in intensive systems and see this any other way. You are welcome to learn more via: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/pigs/pig-welfare or simply make the change to buy ethically raised pork. See the Compassion (CIWF) buying guide https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/meat-poultry/pork-and-bacon

The key message is to buy pork with extreme caution. A lot of pork is intensively farmed, 60%+ in the UK and higher in the EU. Read the labels, there are a lot of good pork producers, so look for organic, free range, outdoor bred or reared. Buy UK pork – UK laws are tighter and better regulated than the EU.

I will also publish posts with ideas to replace pork products as I know a bacon sandwich is hard to give up!

P.S. Remember pork means – Pork and all pork products (bacon, sausages, ham, salami etc.)

Oink Oink!! The Ethical Omnivore

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Good steak should never be chewy!!

One of the best dishes going is Steak and chips. It is a treat we eat very occasionally, one of my favourites and something I am very passionate about. It breaks my heart to see people sawing away at meat, chewing to the point they wear their teeth down. Hearing comments about steak being tough or tasteless. It should never be that way. Sadly we buy steak (from the supermarket?) over and over again and put up with this. People don’t realise what we are missing out on. As part of my quest to only eat the best quality meats I decided to try to find out why good steak was so hard to find.

So what’s the difference? Well as far as I have gleaned there are two main issues;

  1. Not all beef is from cattle breed to produce quality meat. A lot of beef is a byproduct of the dairy industry (either young male dairy calves or culled ex service dairy cows), breeds that have been developed for high milk yields but not for their meat quality.
  2. As with a lot of modern farming the faster and bigger they can grow it the cheaper they can make it whilst keeping the profit. Farmers are under pressure to fatten cattle and get them to slaughter as quickly as possible. Meaning the cattle are taken off pasture, keep in barns, feed grain and slaughter before the meat is mature. As young as 9 mths but typically 12 mths (http://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/slaughtering-beef-animals-at-12-months-is-most-profitable.htm)

The best meat comes from cattle that is a specific meat breed e.g. Angus, English Longhorn, Dexter, Sussex Red, has been naturally raised and slow grown. Pasture feed, ideally organic and allowed to mature at a natural rate. I understand this to be around 2+ years but I’ve eaten 8 yrs old beef and it was truly amazing.

The next element that is essential is how long the meat is hung for. Even good meat that is not well hung can loose quality. But hanging meat costs money, the meat loses weight as it drys, extra storage costs and time passes. It is ironic that the industry boasts ’21 days hung’ as a selling feature, when that is the industry standard and in my view inadequate. Look for 30+ days hung, you will notice the difference.

And finally the cooking. Cook an average piece of meat correctly and it might pass as a meal, cook a great piece of steak correctly and you make an exceptional meal. How to cook great steak – First I ensure the meat is at room temperature (take it out of the fridge hours in advance – make sure the dog can’t reach it!), then oil the meat and season with salt. Great the pan really hot, I used a cast iron skillet, then add the steak, (don’t over fill the pan otherwise you will loose temperature, get moisture and there is a risk of stewing the meat.) Let the meat do it’s thing and get well browned (known as sealing) before you turn it over. There is a great tick I use to determine how well cooked the meat is without cutting into it, especially important for thick steaks. On the same hand touch a finger to your thumb (just so the tips touch) don’t squeeze, just connect. The fat part of your thumb (even thin people have them) is the same consistency as the different types of cooked steak. First finger = rare, second = mid rare, third = medium, and forth = well. Gently press your thumb and then press the meat (with a knife or fork) you’ll see what I mean. I always cook meat a like less than I want it then take it off the heat and let if rest in the pan e.g. 10 mins. It will carry on cooking which is why I undercook it slightly. I slice the meat and serve in the middle to people to pick/fight over – crispy fries, creamed spinach, mushrooms, onions, salad (if you want green), horseradish or creamy Bernaise – Yummy!

So I know you are all desperate to talk about cost. It sounds so expensive, how can organic meat raised for 2+yrs, hung for 5 weeks be affordable. Why here’s is the great news, because it is a great steak you don’t need sirloin or fillet, you can go for rump, skirt, feather steak it is all good. Also there is no waste as there is not gristle to cut off. We go for rump every time as it is better than any shop bought fillet, sirloin, ribeye I have tested. We buy directly from the farmer which also means we get maximum value. Also with reduced meat consumption the concept is you buy less but better quality meat. See https://www.longhornbeef.co.uk/our-beef as an example, the meat is the same price as supermarket finest meat, but this really is the finest!

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Beans beans good for your heart…

We can’t talk about a plant based diet and beans without taking about wind, farts, flatulence. A lot of people are talk to have a great fear of beans and their supposed ability to blow a hole in their designer jeans. Below is a great article I have reposted from Michael Greger site https://nutritionfacts.org explaining the facts.I can personally vouch to the finding, it does take time for your body to adjust (to the correct amount of fibre) and it is essential to prepare and cook beans correctly to deal with undigestible sugars but the good news is you can eat beans without the fear of bending over in public.

Beans & Gas: Clearing the Air

More than a decade ago, the Quarterly Journal of Medicine published a review entitled: “Vegetarian Diet: Panacea for modern lifestyle disease?” The answer was in the affirmative, noting those eating vegetarian appear to have less obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancers, kidney disease, maybe less stroke, less age-related vision loss, less diverticulosis, fewer gallstone and of course, less constipation. But after going through the laundry list of benefits, the researchers did identify two drawbacks of a plant-based diet: 1) the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which I’ve covered previously, and 2) increased intestinal gas production. So on one hand, we have half of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, and on the other, flatulence.

Let me start off by saying that intestinal gas is normal and healthy. When patients present to physicians complaining of too much gas, they are typically instructed to go home and keep track for a week. “Although this may sound complicated,” wrote researchers in a gastroenterology journal, “we have found that patients rather enjoy keeping such a record.”

Americans report passing gas an average of 14 times a day, with the normal range extending up to a frequency of 22 times daily. Many people who think they have too much gas fall well within the normal range, concludes famed flatologist Michael Levitt, M.D., “and they simply have to be informed of their ‘normality.’”

Wondering who funded this research? You may be surprised that the real ground-breaking work in this area was done by NASA in the 1950s—our grandparents’ tax dollars hard at work. NASA was genuinely concerned that astronauts might suffocate, or some spark would ignite the methane. So papers with names like “Recent Advances in Flatology” represent space age research! As one NASA research scientist recommended, “it may prove advantageous to select astronauts…who do not normally produce large quantities of flatus.”

I’ll never forget the first time I lectured on the subject. I asked if anyone in the auditorium cared to venture a guess as to how many times a day the average person passes gas. I was expecting the students would posit maybe 5 or 10 and then I could wow them with the fact that no, the norm is more like once every waking hour, up to 22 times a day. But the first guess? 200. OK, so maybe some people do have too much gas! For those wanting to cut down on emissions, here are some tips (I’ll try not to be too long-winded :).

Flatulence come from two places: swallowed air, and fermentation in the bowel. Things that can cause you to swallow extra air include gum chewing, ill-fitting dentures, sucking on hard candies, drinking through a straw, eating too fast, talking while you eat, and cigarette smoking. So if the fear of lung cancer doesn’t get you to quit smoking, maybe fear of flatulence will.

The main source of gas, though, is the normal bacterial fermentation in our colon of undigested sugars. Dairy products are a leading cause of excessive flatulence, due to poor digestion of the milk sugar lactose, though even people who are lactose tolerant may suffer from dairy. One of the most flatulent patients ever reported in the medical literature was effectively cured once dairy products were removed from his diet. The case, reported in the New England Journal of Medicineand submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records, involved a guy who, after consuming dairy, experienced “70 passages in one four-hour period.” Cutting the cheese, indeed.

Other poorly digested sugars include sorbitol and xylitol in sugar-free candies. The fizziness in soda is carbon dioxide, which gets absorbed by our gut, but the high fructose in the soda’s corn syrup may be another culprit. Cruciferous vegetables may also contribute (kale-force winds?). Some grains can do it—the word pumpernickel stems from Middle German and means, roughly, “goblin that breaks wind.”

Beans have been christened the musical fruit, but could it just be a lot of hot air? A randomized controlled crossover study published last week, “Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies,” concluded “People’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated.”

Noting that “An increasing body of research and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports the benefits of a plant-based diet, and legumes specifically, in the reduction of chronic disease risks,” they started people on pinto beans, black-eyed peas, or vegetarian baked (navy) beans. During the first week, 35% reported increased flatulence but that fell to 15% by week three, 5% by week five, and 3% by week eight. Much of the bad rap for beans grew out of short-term studies in the 60’s that didn’t account for our body’s ability to adapt.

Long-term, most people bulking up on high-fiber foods do not appear to have significantly increased problems with gas. In the beginning, though, “A little bit of extra flatulence,” reads the Harvard Health Letter, “could be an indication that you’re eating the way you should!” The buoyancy of floating stools from trapped gasses can in fact be seen as a sign of adequate fiber intake. The indigestible sugars in beans that make it down to our colon may even function as prebiotics to feed our good bacteria and make for a healthier colon.

Even if at first they make us gassy, beans are so health-promoting that we should experiment with ways to keep them in our diet at all costs. Lentils, split peas and canned beans tend to be less gas-producing. Tofu usually isn’t an offender. Repeated soakings of dried beans and tossing the cooking water may help if you boil your own. Worse comes to worst, there are cheap supplements that contain alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme shown to break up the bean sugars and take the sail out of your wind.

Odor is a separate issue. The smell appears to come primarily from the digestion of sulfur-rich foods, so to cut down on the stench, experts have recommended cutting back on foods such as meat and eggs (hydrogen sulfide is called “rotten egg gas” for a reason). In “Contribution of Dietary Protein to Sulfide Production in the Large Intestine” researchers found that meat-eaters generated as much as 15 times the sulfides as those eating vegetarian.

There are healthy sulfur-rich foods, such as garlic and cauliflower. If you’re about to embark on a long trip in a confined space after a big meal of aloo gobi, Pepto-Bismol® and generic equivalents can act as a windbreaker by binding up the sulfur in your gut to eliminate odors, but should be used only as a short term solution due to the potential for bismuth toxicity with chronic use.

Then there are the high tech solutions, such as carbon fiber odor-eating underwear (cost: $65),  which were put to the test in an American Journal of Gastroenterology study that included such gems as “Utilising gas-tight Mylar pantaloons, the ability of a charcoal lined cushion to adsorb sulphur-containing gases instilled at the anus of eight subjects was assessed.” Assessed, that is, by a panel of fart-sniffing judges. And the name of the charcoal lined cushion? The “Toot Trapper.”

To reiterate, though, intestinal gas is normal and healthy. No less than Hippocrates himself was quoted as saying “passing gas is necessary to well-being.” As one chair of gastroenterology wrote in a review of degassing drugs and devices (and yes, Dr. Fardy is a real name), “Perhaps increased tolerance of flatus would be a better solution, for we tamper with harmless natural phenomena at our peril.”

 – Michael Greger, M.D.

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