Nutrition

Ep 17: Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Importance of Food Transparency – Aaron Lee, L.Ac

Aaron Lee, L.Ac teaches us about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the importance of knowing where our food comes from.

Aaron Lee is a California Board Licensed Acupuncturist. He is also pursuing his Post-Graduate Doctoral Degree at Five Branches University (FBU) where he obtained his Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is the owner of Box Acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medicine, a clinic located in San Jose, California. Aaron has a B.S. in Microbiology from UT Austin and he combined his love of fitness and food by also becoming a Certified Primal Health Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Personal Trainer. When he’s not treating his patients, Aaron stays active by working out at his local CrossFit Box or he’s in the kitchen meal-prepping or cooking a delicious meal for him and his friends. Aaron believes that the key to longevity is living a well-balanced life surrounded with friends, family, and loved ones.

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Olive Oil – Extra Virgin? Not Quite.

Ah, olive oil. It’s healthy, it’s delicious – just opening a bottle puts our cooking ability on par with that of a professional chef. Some people take shots of it every morning. Two women who lived to be over 120 years old both said drinking it was the key to a long life (along with wine and chocolate – now that’s some health advice I’m happy to take!). But if you’ve purchased olive oil from a grocery store, the chances are very high that you aren’t buying what you think you are. And certainly not the good stuff that could help you live longer.

In fact, consumers in the U.S. are so familiar with rancid, low-quality olive oil that they will pick it out of line during a taste test because it’s what they’re used to. Instead of a fresh, grassy, fragrant, buttery, or even peppery smell with hints of fruitiness, we are used to oils that are musty, greasy, and thin.

If you’re not sure you know what good olive oil tastes like, visit a specialty olive oil store. They often offer tastings of their products, and can show you what to look for. We’ll go into more depth later about what to look for in olive oils, since even some of these stores lack good, fresh options.

On a personal note, if you take away one thing from this article, I hope it’s to learn what olive oil is supposed to taste like and how to pick out a good bottle. Do it for me. I personally have shed a tear over a roommate using my fancy olive oil to season a pan, and I’m not ashamed… Okay, maybe I am a little. But I digress – please go find a specialty olive oil store near you and go taste some. Your life will never be the same.

Let’s start with some basics about olive oil.

Olives are picked and crushed into a paste by stones, or more commonly by steel blades. The paste is then stirred to release droplets of olive oil before being spun around at high speeds in a centrifuge to remove the oil and water from the olives. Finally, water is removed until just the oil remains.

If the end oil is unrefined, such as extra virgin and virgin oils, the process ends there and the oil is bottled and shipped. Only the best olives are used for unrefined oils. If the olives are of lesser quality, more processing is required. This oil is further refined using chemicals and heat to neutralize the taste of the oils, as lesser quality olives produce a more bitter and less desirable taste. These oils are often labeled as “Pure Olive Oil” or simply “olive oil.”

So if Pure Oil and Olive Oil mean it’s bad stuff, what about the good stuff? That’s from Italy, right?

It’s a common misconception that only good olive oil comes from Italy. The reality is that Italy is just the biggest importer and exporter of it. Both good and bad olive oils can come from Italy, and there’s also amazing oils that come from countries like Spain, Greece, Tunisia, and (my personal favorite) Australia. Italy just happens to bottle and ship the vast majority of it, which feeds the misconception.

The best and highest quality olive oils are labeled “extra virgin,” which means that they contain pure, cold-pressed olive oils instead of a blend of lower quality, processed oils. That’s why the taste of extra virgin olive oil is stronger and more pronounced than regular olive oil. It’s also the only label that requires any sort of inspection, and must pass lab analysis and testing conducted by the International Olive Council in Madrid.

Neat, so just look for “extra virgin” olive oil and I’m good to go?

Nope, sorry! Nothing can ever be simple when it comes to food. Unfortunately, seeing extra virgin on the label isn’t a guarantee of quality. According to a study in 2010, 69% of imported extra virgin olive oils that were tested failed to meet USDA standards. Often, companies pass off lower quality olive oil as extra virgin – and there’s plenty of room in the supply chain for mixups.

Remember how Italy imports, bottles, and exports most of the olive oil? In November of 2015, seven of Italy’s best-known olive oil companies (does the name Bertolli ring a bell?) were investigated for passing off low quality oils from other countries as extra virgin Italian olive oil. This multi-million dollar systemic fraud case was busted by an investigation codenamed (no joke) Operation “Mamma Mia.” There are even ties to mafia involvement within the Italian olive oil industry. The price tag for extra virgin olive oil rings up at around 30-40% more than the cost of regular oil, which is more than enough for fraudsters to want a taste.

Okay, so sometimes olive oil isn’t totally pure and extra virgin. Kinda crummy, but not exactly unsafe. Why should I care?

In the best cases, “fake” olive oil is labeled incorrectly as extra virgin, or has been mixed with oils that have been sitting around from the previous years’ harvest (or longer). This is totally legal, but completely defeats the main purpose of buying olive oil – that it’s healthy. When mixed with old and often rancid oil, by the time the oil reaches the consumer it’s often lost a good chunk of its health benefits.

In the worst cases, the oil has been illegally diluted (or “cut”) with other, cheaper oils. One way to do this is to add chemically refined, low-quality olive oils. Other popular diluters are sunflower, soybean, and canola oils.  Which, if you have food allergies, is VERY bad news.

That sounds not great. So how do I make sure I’m buying good olive oil?

If you can, hit up a specialty olive oil store – they’re popping up more frequently in the U.S. and often pride themselves on letting you test their products. If it tastes good, it’s probably good.

Don’t trust labels. (This seems to be a recurring theme – check out our guides to eggs and coffee certifications and why transparency could be the solution.)

Don’t fall for terms like “natural,” “pure,” “premium,” “virgin,”or “light.” They are all marketing terms for oil that is heavily processed and lacking in the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil – though they are fine for baking or other kitchen needs where flavor doesn’t matter. And as I’m sure you learned above, even “made in Italy” doesn’t mean much. Even the bottled by dates aren’t good to go by – oil can sit in a tank for a year before it’s bottled.

So if olive oil labels aren’t any good, what do I look for?
Check for a stamp of approval.

There’s a council called the California Olive Oil Council, or COOC, that verifies, tests, and analyzes olive oils to meet high standards. If you see their seal, it means that oil has met their criteria – here’s a list of the brands they’ve approved.

Additionally, the USDA has a voluntary quality monitoring program for olive oils, though only two companies participate. If you see the USDA seal, it means the oil meets these standards.

You can also check for the European Union’s Protected of Designated Origin or Italy’s DOP.

Brush up on your geography.

If you have nothing to go off of besides the country of origin, choose Chile or Australia. These two countries scored the highest average qualities on the U.S. International Trade Commission report on conditions of major olive oil imports in the U.S.

Additionally, Australia has the best testing systems and the highest standards of all olive-oil producing countries. Both Chile and Australia have never been found to mix oils from old harvests.

Know your seasons.

Buy olive oils from regions where olives are in season. This means don’t buy from the Northern Hemisphere in the fall and winter, and don’t buy from places like Chile, Australia, or South Africa during the spring and summer.

Go dark.

Olive oil’s worst enemies are light, heat, and oxygen – they cause oil to deteriorate rapidly. Stay away from oils that are kept in clear bottles or near windows. Good olive oil is often kept in a dark tinted bottle or in a can to prevent degradation of quality. If you can’t see the color, that’s fine! High quality olive oils can come in all colors, from buttery yellow to dark green to nearly clear.

Awesome! Now I have a great bottle of oil – what do I do with it?

Store it in a dark place that’s temperature-stable and not too hot. An unopened bottle can be kept in a cool, dark place for a year or two, but after it’s open make sure to use it within a few months before oxidation causes it to go rancid.

But don’t worry too much – once you have a fragrant, grassy, buttery olive oil at your cooking disposal, it probably won’t make it more than a few months before it’s all gone!

 

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Ep 15: Stress and its Impact on the Body – Alex Uding, PT, DPT, PN1

Co-Host Alex Uding and Host Kari Ginger discuss the effect of stress on the body and why knowing the sourcing of your food is so important for reducing stress and improving gut health.

Bio:
Alex works with healthy and injured individuals alike, across the lifespan. She has special interest in orthopedic and sports rehab, women’s health, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and development of the female athlete. She is passionate about bridging the gap between rehabilitation and optimizing performance to promote a lifestyle of health and wellness through compassionate, person-centered care.

Alex has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy, is Precision Nutrition Certified, and is a Strength and Performance Coach. She works as a Physical Therapist and Performance Coach at Momentum Physical Therapy in Milford, MA.

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Ep 9: Julie Cutler, MSN RN – Lactation Consultant

Kari Ginger sits down with Julie Cutler, a registered nurse licensed in both Iowa and Illinois and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for over 30 years. This mother-daughter pair discuss breastfeeding, baby friendly hospitals, nutrition, and Bytable Foods. Julie Cutler, MSN RN IBCLC RLC is a registered nurse licensed in both Iowa and Illinois and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for over 30 years. She possesses expertise in caring for obstetrical patients and premature infants. Her career has also included working as a visiting nurse, clinical instructor, university instructor, and researcher while working full-time at her local hospital. Recently, Julie was the project manager for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative at Genesis Medical Center and Genesis received the Baby Friendly Hospital designation in February 2018. Her passion is to assist new families to get off to a good start in breastfeeding and to continue to support them.
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Ep 8: Jarek Bakken and Dr. Alex Arguello, D.C. – Restoring Human

Jarek Bakken and Dr. Alex Arguello DC join Kari to discuss nutrition, fitness and their podcast Restoring Human.

The two hosts believe humans were designed to flourish and are helping people make intentional lifestyle decisions to return to an optimal state of health.

Jarek Bakken:
Jarek is a self experimenter when it comes to health. He was introduced to CrossFit and the Paleo diet in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. After losing 60 pounds he has found a passion for helping sick and hurting people realize that change can in the realm of health just like it did for him. He is now a CrossFit Level 1 trainer and host of the Restoring Human podcast with Dr. Alex Arguello DC. The two believe humans were designed to flourish and are helping people make intentional lifestyle decisions to return to an optimal state of health.

Dr. Alex Arguello:
Dr. Alex Arguello, D.C., has a passion for helping people like you to live a high quality of life and feel your best at all times. Being a family man himself, he’s greatest passion is to see entire families be healthy together. Since 2011, Dr. Alex Arguello has helped hundreds of patients and their families get well from a wide variety of health issues, ranging from allergies to ADHD to migraine headaches to low back disc problems.

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Ep 7: Madie Hart – Fitness, Nutrition and Marketing

Kari sits down with Madie Hart and discuss nutrition, fitness, marketing, and starting new careers. In Februrary 2018, Madie launched Social Butterflies, a Facebook page dedicated to teaching other female entrepreneurs how to ignite their business using social media marketing. She is also Bytable Foods‘ social media consultant.

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Ep 5: Krista DeGeest – Professional Volleyball Player by Know Better Live Best

Kari Ginger discusses nutrition, athletics and life lessons with Professional Volleyball Player, Krista DeGeest

Krista DeGeest is an All-American volleyball player from the University of Northern Iowa who has gone on to play professionally since graduating in 2013 with a marketing and management degree. She has competed in the Swedish, Romanian, and German leagues over her past 5 years as a professional athlete and will return to Germany at the end of August for her 6th season. During her summer months in the USA, Krista runs her own multi-aged volleyball camps for various high schools in the Midwest and conducts private lessons for local players. It is her mission to share her passion for the sport through her enthusiasm and drive, both on and off the court. She loves to travel and explore and strives to live each day to its fullest, with a smile on her face.

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Ep 4: Cultivating Food Literacy in Children with Raintree School by Know Better Live Best

Kari sits down with chefs Katie Brown and Andrea Hediger at Raintree School.

Katie Brown was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She cooked in a variety of restaurants and food-focused non-profit organizations for 8 years and studied Nutrition and Dietetics at St. Louis University before becoming head chef at Raintree School. She has been at Raintree for five years. While feeding students scratchmade lunches, she hopes to also foster in them a passion for food, where it comes from, and ways to enjoy it. When not in the kitchen she loves yoga, painting, gardening, and traveling.

Andrea Hediger’s love for cooking orignated from spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen at a young age. It was there where she learned the basics of cooking. To further her knowledge, she moved from her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri to Seattle, Washington and studied Nutrition and Culinary Arts at Bastyr University. While in the Pacific Northwest, she gained experiences in various kitchen settings and organic gardens. One year ago she became sous chef at Raintree where she gets to practice her passion by feeding young eaters. Her favorite thing about her job is witnessing the excitement that the children have about food.

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Food Transparency – A Call to Action and What It Means to You

The good news – Americans are becoming more interested and aware of the food we consume and why informed nutrition is important.

The bad news – The road to informed nutrition and food literacy is confusing and intricate. 
There is a lot of information on the type of foods we should eat, the quantities we should consume, the next big trending diet, eating to manage illnesses, and how to eat well to live a long and disease-free life. These topics are important, complex, and often heavily debated. However, this article isn’t about that.

Today, we are going to focus on the basics: food and where it comes from. At Know Better Live Best, we could spend hours talking about just this (and often do!) and we will dive deeper into some of these issues in the future. But for now, let’s keep it at the basics.

What is food transparency?

Access to knowledge about where food comes from – this includes origins of the seeds, the farm the food came from and its procedures,, environmental conditions, worker conditions, sustainability practices, packaging, production, and sale. Like every system, each step along the way is important and influences the next. Food often is not simply brought from the farm to the store where you purchase it. Our food system is incredibly intricate and complex, and much can get lost along the way – making true food transparency an extraordinarily difficult feat.

According to the 2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study, the majority of people want transparency in the food system. There is a growing demand to improve our system and better the health of our society. Of the 1,500 consumers surveyed in the study mentioned above, 94% of respondents reported it is important to them that the brands and manufacturers they buy from are transparent about what is in their food and how it is made. The good news is, consumer demand for transparency is sparking a change in the food industry. And with new technology, a transparent food supply chain is within our reach.

Which brings us to our excitement about our partnership Bytable Foods.

Bytable Foods uses blockchain and IoT technologies to trace where food is coming from. They’re tracking how food was grown, processed, distributed, and how it ended up at your local store. And they’re making this information available to consumers like you – by scanning a QR code on the food package, you can see the entire journey of your food from the farm to your table, certification information, packaging dates, and the practices of the producer.

We believe that food transparency built on trustworthy information is the key to transforming our food system into one that works better for everyone in it. And we are so excited to see Bytable Foods making it happen.

Food transparency data can be used for many other things that benefit our society overall. By building traceability and transparency into our food system food outbreaks can be contained sooner,eating to prevent and manage illness can become easier, choosing what we use to fuel performance can improve,labels will be easier to read, and nutrition quality will be held to a higher standard.

Because when consumers are given the information and power to choose where their money goes, they can give back to their local communities, support companies that align with their values, and vote with their dollars and voices for a better and more sustainable food system.

“Food transparency,” is a buzzword these days – but we hope this article has helped you understand the hype. When our food system supports transparency, you can have a say in the food you consume and the companies you support. Bytable Foods and Know Better, Live Best are here to help you live your best life. We will continue to dive into the world of nutrition and food industry as we go, but we first wanted to introduce you to our passion.

What is your passion? How can living well help you achieve it? And how can we help?

1.https://www.labelinsight.com/hubfs/Label_Insight-Food-Revolution-Study.pdf?hsCtaTracking=fc71fa82-7e0b-4b05-b2b4-de1ade992d33%7C95a8befc-d0cc-4b8b-8102-529d937eb427

2. https://www.bytablefoods.com/

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