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Archive for NutriNibbles-Organic-Health

TREND: Organic Coffee

Sales of organic coffee are growing so fast these days, that most other categories can only be envious. U.S. retail sales of organic coffee increased 24% in 2006 to $110.36 million, impressively outpacing the 15% growth of organic foods in general, according to the 2007 Organic Manufacturer Survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). According to Caren Wilcox, OTA’s Executive Director, the dramatic increase in organic coffee sales also reflects consumers’ growing interest in organic products, awareness of their availability in venues ranging from small coffee shops to “Big Box” stores, and the ever-increasing quality of organic coffee. In fact, several organic coffees from farms in Nicaragua won the Cup of Excellence competition in that country, held in June. The prestigious award program, managed by the U.S.-based Alliance for Coffee Excellence, selects the best coffees produced in a particular country in a particular year.   Don Francisco’s, one of the top organic coffees in our review.
Don Francisco’s, one of the top organic coffees in our review.
Participants in the Organic Coffee Collaboration, a project of the Organic Trade Association, are driving much of the increase in retail sales. The companies provide much of the organic decaffeinated, caffeinated, flavored and instant coffees widely available at retail outlets nationwide and direct from roasters via the Internet. The companies include Café Bom Dia (marketer of the Marques De Paiva brand, and also certified as carbon-neutral, of Coral Gables, FL), Dallis Coffee (also Fair Trade Certified, of New York City), DaSilva Fine Brazilian Coffee (marketer of ultra premium single-estate coffee directly from Espírito Santo, Brazil, of Winston-Salem, NC), Elan Organic Coffee (marketer of socially responsible coffees it develops through partnerships with village co-ops, of San Diego, CA), Equal Exchange (worker-owned cooperative, Fair Trade Certified™ and one of largest U.S. organic coffee roasters, of West Bridgewater, MA), F. Gaviña & Sons (producer of Don Francisco’s Specialty Coffee brand, of Vernon, CA), Fresh Harvest Products (of New York City), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (of Waterbury, VT) and Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company (of Vancouver, BC, Canada). Try them! (You’ll find some of them reviewed in our article on organic coffees.) Organic coffee is grown in more than 30 countries, including the United States. It uses methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, replenishing and maintaining soil fertility, avoiding the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and building biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic farmers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Consumers who choose organic products do so for both the chemical-free factor and to support the environment.

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NEWS: “Real” Antioxidant Cocoa Debuts

Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder.
  Belgium-based Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, announces the launch of a unique new cocoa powder with true, measurable antioxidant benefits. ACTICOA cocoa powder contains a guaranteed minimum percentage of cocoa flavanols, making it a rich source of antioxidants. In addition to the health benefits, it’s also a delicious, full-flavored cocoa beverage (we haven’t tasted it yet, as the official word just came out, but we’re very familiar with the company’s products, and we’ll take it on faith until we get our cache for review).
Only two grams a day of the cocoa powder contain the amount of flavanols—the antioxidants in cacao—needed to have a positive antioxidant effect. Cacao flavanols are one of the most powerful antioxidants yet discovered. Though found in abundance in the raw cacao bean, most of the flavanols are destroyed during the conventional chocolate-making process. After years of research, Barry Callebaut has succeeded in preserving around 80% of the natural flavanol content of raw cacao in this new cocoa powder product. That’s good news for people who’d like to start and end their day with a nice cup of cocoa. Every time over the last few years that another chocolate bar (or fudge product) has touted its “antioxidant benefits,” THE NIBBLE has pointed out that such claims are a lot of marketing hype: that absent research on the label of exactly how many antioxidants were in the bar, it is a pretty vague claim, and that research is typically done on flavanol-enhanced cocoa, not on chocolate bars. We predicted that such a product would get to market sooner or later for those who truly wanted to get their antioxidants through cacao—and here it is! Next, as other companies do the same, we can anticipate, “Now, with more anxtioxidants than the other brand….”

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NEW ARTICLE: Ketchup Comparisons

What happens when you’re looking for the best ketchup in America? You taste 42 of them (including the Big Three), as Stephanie Zonis did, and find that five, boutique brands most people have never have heard of, really rock. The good news is that the sixth brand on our hit parade, Muir Glen, is organic, kosher, popularly-priced and available at many natural food stores and in organic departments at regular supermarkets nationwide. The other “winners” make great holiday gifts for ketchup lovers. Take A Fresh Look At Ketchup, which includes the history of ketchup to modern times. It includes such nuggets as, while the Reagan administration did not succeed in getting ketchup named a vegetable, the [first] Bush administration did.   Catsup A La Tomate
One our winners, from France, makes a nifty holiday gift for a ketchup lover.

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PRODUCT WATCH: The “Original” Energy Bar

When Native Americans and European immigrants hit the trail and needed energy, they carried the original energy bar, pemmican—a mixture of meat, fat and dried fruit.  

Tanka Bar

Now, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Company has gone back to its ancestral roots for a healthy, natural alternative to the energy bars now on the market: the Tanka Bar, made with South Dakota bison and Wisconsin cranberries. (If you remember “Dances With Wolves,” tanka means bison in the Lakota language.) The bar is a spinoff of a centuries-old Lakota food called wasna that sustained Great Plains Indians during long trips. Based on traditional wasna and pemmican, it combines high-protein, prairie-fed buffalo and tart-sweet cranberries that is slow-smoked to a jerky-like texture. If you’re a nomad on the go, try it next time you hit the trail. At TankaBar.com.

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TREND: Organic Growth

Verb Good Belly   Last week we attended the Natural Products Expo East (ExpoEast.com), the largest natural and organic products trade show and conference on the east coast (its sister show, Expo West in Anaheim, is even larger). Among the 25,000 other attendees and 1,790 exhibits, just 25% or so of the exhibitors are in the food industry, but much of the food there is healthy and exciting (the rest of the products are dietary supplements,
organic personal and household care products, clothing and home furnishings). According to The Natural Foods Merchandiser’s 2007 Market Overview, the natural and organic products industry is growing at 9.7%, with more than $56 billion in consumer sales (the food segment is growing at about 15%, and topped $15 billion in sales). What’s happening in natural foods? The energy bar was ubiquitous: So many bars, so little time! So many beverages, too: In one burgeoning category, fruit juices, it seemed as if the different brands of pomegranate and açaí juices could stretch from coast to coast. The organic baby food category has grown even more, too. This year, many more products targeted to older kids were evident, from Wild Waters vitamin-enhanced waters to Can Do Kids nutrition/energy bars. People with gluten allergies can eat better now too, thanks to a large variety of really delicious bread products made from flaxseed and other flours. While people with celiac disease can’t eat spelt, some people who have simpler wheat allergies can—and so can the rest of us. Spelt is truly delicious—the next time you see spelt bread or burger rolls, try them! What we love about this show is that we nibble from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and never get, well, ill, because all of the food is so good for you. Try that at any other food show—by noon you’re begging for mercy and by 2 p.m. you can’t eat another bite. The newest of new ideas was a probiotic juice from Next Foods called Verb: Good Belly. Get 20 million probiotic bacteria in every serving of organic fruit juice (VerbDaily.com). The patented probiotics are proven to help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You’ll read about what we loved in the November issue of THE NIBBLE, and we’ll be reviewing our favorites in our January “healthy gourmet” issue.

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