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Kitchen Science for Kids: Sourdough Starter

While I wholeheartedly believe kids need to play outside in nature, they can also learn about entire ecosystems right in their kitchens, using only basic ingredients. This lesson covers sourdough starter. If you and your student want to later bake bread, you can find the recipe here.

sourdough starter jar
Mature sourdough starter. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau. 


Bacterium (plural bacteria): Microscopic, single-celled organism that lives in soil and water and on plants, animals and other matter. Its purpose in life is to reproduce.

Ecosystem: All the living things in a given area. All things that live in an ecosystem are dependent on one another.

Microbes: Tiny living things that can be seen only through a microscope, such as bacteria and yeast.

Symbiosis: A mutually beneficial and dependent relationship between two groups.

Yeast: Another class of microscopic, single-celled organisms which, like bacteria, live everywhere.

Lesson Plan

Time requirement

The starter should be ready for baking within a couple of weeks, with very little active work done to it.


  • Kitchen scale (optional)
  • Thermometer (optional)
  • Two glass measuring cups or small glass or ceramic bowls
  • Measuring spoons
  • Fork
  • Small breathable cotton or linen cloth
  • Flour
  • Water

What Is a Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter contains living bacteria and yeast that transform flour and water into a leavening agent. Filled with gas bubbles, a leavening agent makes bread dough rise during baking. A sourdough starter also adds flavor and aroma to bread. It most commonly consists of only flour and water. This living thing needs regular feeding to keep it alive. When well cared for, sourdough starters can live for hundreds of years. The starter that King Arthur Flour sells dates to the late 1700s.

sourdough loaves
Sourdough bread fresh from the oven. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.


About 6,000 years ago in Egypt, someone baked the first loaf of bread. They likely noticed a neglected mixture of flour and water that had sprung to life, bubbling away in a corner somewhere. That accidental starter would have made the first loaf rise. For thousands of years, all bread was made with a sourdough starter.

In 1857, Louis Pasteur first identified yeast under his microscope. Not long after his discovery, around 1880, industry developed commercial yeast, which contains only one strain of bacterium, Saccharomyes cerevisiae. Commercial yeast produces consistent loaves of bread quickly, which meant bakeries could bake more loaves, more quickly, with fewer workers, resulting in higher profits.

However, bread made the old-fashioned way has never completely disappeared. People bake sourdough bread all over the world. San Francisco’s sourdough bread is so famous that scientists named the main bacterium found in sourdough Lactobacillus sanfrancisensis. They later discovered that this bacterium lives in sourdough bread cultures around the world, but no one has ever found this bacterium anywhere else on the planet except for in a sourdough culture.


1. In a glass or ceramic container, mix 50ml warm water (about 110 degrees) with 50 grams flour (approximately 1/3 cup if you don’t have a scale). Your mixture will resemble thick pancake batter. Cover your container securely with a breathable cloth. Leave your container out on the kitchen counter.

2. Stir your starter several times a day. Depending on your kitchen environment, the starter should start to bubble within 3 to 7 days. At this point, begin to feed it daily.

3. To feed your starter, in a separate container, mix together another 50ml warm water with 50 grams flour. Stir in 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of the bubbling starter after you have stirred it down. This new mixture is your new starter. The previous one is discard. TIP: Store your discard in the refrigerator until ready to use for making crackers, pancakes or waffles.

4. Continue to feed the starter daily. After 5 days of feedings, it should begin to double in size after feeding and fall back to its original size. This process will take several hours. It will also smell yeasty, slightly fruity and slightly acidic. The starter is now ready to leaven bread dough.

5. At this point, either leave the starter out on the counter and feed it daily or store it in the refrigerator and take it out once a week to feed it.

The Science Behind Sourdough

Yeast and bacteria are present in the air, in the flour and on your hands. You may want to use your clean hands to mix the ingredients to inject them with more microbes. As the microbes begin to reproduce in the starter, the bread-friendly ones take over and crowd out any unfriendly ones.

Lactobacilli bacteria convert sugars in the flour to lactic acid and acetic acid. These acids give sourdough its distinctive sour flavor. Acid-tolerant yeasts thrive in the starter also. They convert sugar into carbon dioxide and ethanol. The carbon dioxide creates bubbles that make the bread rise. Each microbe eats different sugars and so they do not compete with each another for food.

The principal yeast in the starter is Candida milleri. This acid-tolerant yeast doesn’t consume maltose, a sugar in flour starch. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, the bacteria found only in sourdough cultures, can't survive without the maltose they eat. Of course, microbes do die eventually, but not before they produce their replacements. When yeasts die, they break down into compounds that the lactobacilli eat. This mutually beneficial relationship between two organisms is called symbiosis. (If only all relationships went this well…)


Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan

The Biology of Sourdough,” Discover

Invite a Rock Star to School Lunch

Lunch is an essential meal, but one I find hard to keep interesting. The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple slices, and water sounds delicious, right? Unless it’s on the menu five days a week. That’s when my kids begin to moan. Why? Because no gazes light up around them at the lunch table as they open their bags. No one peeks over their shoulder asking what they brought today. They already know. It’s the same PB & J and apple they bring every day. Boring. Absolutely boring. Worst of all? No one wants to trade with them.

Granted, I don’t approve of food trading at lunchtime, but invariably I find children like to swap snacks. Seems they’re uninterested in their lunch totes, too. This is a tough pickle for any “cool” parent to swallow. “Me? No fun? No way!”

Garden Harvest for Lunch

If want to create the “wow” factor for your kids at lunch time, try packing a freshly-harvested carrot from the garden, including the greens. If your kiddos are fussy like mine, you’ll shave the tough outer skin off before you slip it into their bag. Once at school, surrounded by their classmates, your child will pull out their prize amid shrieks of delight.

“What’s that?”

“Where did it come from?”

“How did you get it?”

Unless they grow carrots themselves, most children don’t realize what they look like in their natural state. Makes sense. They only know the manicured versions they see on the market shelves. But they love the way home-harvested carrots look, marveling at the long, tapered bodies, the feathery green leaves, beholding the treasures as if a miracle had been performed.


The first day my kids came home from school after revealing a whole carrot for lunch, they were proud as peacocks. “Everyone thought my lunch was great!”

My favorite part? It tasted great, and carrots are nutritional rock stars. Win-win!

Healthy Dips for Snacks

As an accompaniment for those carrots, try engaging your child in the process of making homemade peanut butter or humus. They’re super as dipping sauces for carrots and celery adding even more nutritional value to the meal. Without preservatives. And peanuts are easy to grow. Does it get any better?


To make peanut butter, place 2 cups of peanuts in a high-speed blender or food processor, add a 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the mix and grind at the highest setting. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. The process should only take about two minutes. You can store your peanut butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will keep for several months. Flavorings like salt and honey are optional, but delicious!


Hummus is just as easy to prepare by nearly the same process. Combine 2 cups of fresh chickpeas (cooked), or 1 – 15 oz. can chickpeas, 1/4 cup tahini, the juice from 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, blending until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping the sides as necessary. You can use the entire lemon, peel and all (without seeds), though the result will be a strong lemony flavor. Your choice.

Other great flavors to add to the mix are roasted peppers, garlic, hot pepper, cumin and salt. My kids love the roasted pepper version, but hummus lends itself well to just about any flavoring. It also stores well in an air tight container in your refrigerator. Best of all, your child can claim ownership at the lunch table. “I made this!”


On most plates, herbs like parsley, basil, and rosemary take center stage. However, your child will thrill in the thought of eating stevia, or what I refer to as the “sugar” herb. Stevia is commonly found in commercial sweeteners labeled as “all natural,” but what’s more natural than eating the leaves plucked right from the plant?


Not a thing. The kids and I add garden stevia to soups and beverages for a delicate sweetening, but eating the greens is way more fun. Especially when they munch them for lunch in front of their friends.

“You’re eating leaves?

“Like a caterpillar!"

“Do they taste good?”

Fellow students will want to steal a taste, but no need. Stevia is super easy to grow, and will inspire a new wave of young gardeners—perhaps even a school garden. And why not? A “green” wave has hit the country with gardens sprouting up across the landscapes of our schools. In fact, kids in Alachua County, Florida, are growing greens for their school lunches just outside the cafeteria doors. Why not in your neighborhood?

Award-winning author and blogger D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, fictional stories bursting with the real-life adventures of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside and get digging.

My Ayurveda Kitchen: Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie Recipe

Turmeric is the healthy spice that has been advised to take on daily basis. It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. It has a group of compounds called curcuminoids, among which curcumin is the most important. 

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, so it helps to consume black pepper along with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin. 

Turmeric is used in Ayurveda to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, though in excess, it can aggravate pitta and vata. It also nourishes the rasa and raktha dhatu (circulatory system). It's bitter, astringent, and pungent in taste and is known for its antimicrobial properties. Ancient Ayurveda used turmeric for wound healing and in inflammatory conditions. Also, turmeric is used in respiratory tract diseases. 

Ginger is considered as an Ayurveda superfood as it improves digestion and assimilation.

ginger turmeric smoothie with fresh veggies
Photo by Adobe Stock/beataaldridge

Healthy Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie Recipe


• 1-1/2 Cups unsweetened coconut milk
• 1 tsp turmeric
• A pinch of Black pepper
• 1/2 tsp grated Ginger
• 1 tsp coconut oil
• 2 tsp honey


Mix all the ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth. 

Variations: You can include your choice of vegetables like carrots, beets, spinach, or fruits along with this recipe.

10 Foods to Help You Study and Stimulate Memory

Food for your brain must not be only nourishing. To make it graceful and work without glitches, your brain has to be fed with tasty and useful food. Check out these 10 foods for the brain that will help you set up a proper diet.

seafood platter

Thank You, Sea!

As we know, a brain consists of billions of neurons. If the cholesterol level in an organism is high, they start breaking down brain activity. In order to avoid it, you have to consume omega-3 fatty acids, which are contained in fish. Doctors claim that the most useful fish are salmon and tuna. Other seafood can do much, as well.

Oysters, mussels, and shrimp are rich with B vitamins and iron, which lay positive influence upon memory and other mental processes. Regular consumption may prevent the appearance of cancer.

Berry Cocktail

Almost all berries are essential for the brain. Many of them contain flavonoids guaranteeing good memory and slowing the aging processes. They are rich with antioxidants that stimulate brain activity. Gooseberry hardens vessels and helps with the brain’s oxygen supplies. This berry also helps to fight aftereffects of stroke and lower risk of its occurrence or recurrence.

Yolk Is Full of Secrets

When we become older, brain cells die from time to time. Eggs are the best to fight this unwanted process. The yolk is full of choline, the so-called building material for brain cells. Another useful substance is lutein, which lowers the chance of strokes and infarcts. Also, eggs are rich in lecithin, which helps fight free radicals and slows aging processes. A couple of eggs per day supply the brain with all the necessary elements and will help you withstand complicated mind challenges.

Healthy Heart = Healthy Brain

Glucose is one of the most essential elements of nutrition for our bodies and minds. Its deficit leads to brain exhaustion, tiredness, stress, and various nervous disorders. First, it concerns diet lovers. Dried fruits are the best sources of glucose. Also, they are rich in iron and Vitamin C. Dried fruits may help with clots, lower cholesterol levels, and minimize infarction appearance.

Smart Grains

It is not a secret that whole grains are the best allies for those who want to be slim. But not everybody knows that they are big friends with brains. Because of folic acid, they are considered to be foods that make you smarter. They stimulate the blood supply flowing to the brain, giving it more oxygen and microelements. Besides that, vitamin B1 makes your memory better. That is why whole grains are so useful for elderly people; but eating them is pretty useful at any age.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Nuts for Your Head

Include meals with nuts into your diet or eat them as snacks between meals. Peanuts and almonds are true treasures of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E, B6 and folic acid. This is the best present for the brain, as these substances keep it fit. Many nuts contain magnesium and thiamin which supply the brain with energy. Seeds are good in this arena, as well. They are ingredients for some really simple meals.

Cabbage Set

Don’t forget about it:

Brussels cabbage contains diindolylmethane which protects neurons from destruction and frees the organism from free radicals.

Seaweed is rich in iodine. Its lack is dangerous not only for the thyroid gland but for the nervous system as well: it leads to insomnia and depression

Red cabbage is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants. Anthocyanin makes vessels harder and more flexible, which affects the brain positively.

Cabbages are useful both raw and cooked.

Vitamin Champion

Unpleasant spinach leaves contain a lot of useful substances. Vitamins B6 and B12 along with folic acid—this is one of the best healthy foods for your brain. It will help train a perfect memory. Regular consumption of this green vegetable will prevent cell aging and will become good prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Drink for the Smartest

Sour chocolate with a great number of cacao beans is the best delight for your brain. One-third of a chocolate bar will whip up your brain as well. Flavonoids will maintain the blood supply, and magnesium will take care of memory. Lovers of hot chocolate are less vulnerable to seasonal depression.

Tea Wisdom

A cup of green tea every morning is not only a healthy alternative to coffee but a good portion of catechin. These powerful antioxidants help fight a feeling of exhaustion and laziness. All in all, this is a perfect energy supply at any time of a day.

Take care of your brain every day. Enrich your diet with anything listed here, and you will see fast and positive results.

Alyssa is a talented writer and blogger who is fond of various tips that help with education. As she works for a truly British coursework writing service, she knows what’s the best for you and how to make it interesting.

7 Foods to Make Not Buy

I follow three simple rules in my kitchen: no packaging, nothing processed, no waste. I should add a fourth: no effort. I do love cooking but I also love easy. I understand that not everyone will want to bake their own bread (it tastes SO much better than store-bought though!) but the following foods take less time to make than to buy and schlep home from the store. And if you can find your ingredients in bulk, these money-saving homemade versions have little to no wasteful packaging.

1. Vanilla Extract

Pour 1 cup of vodka, bourbon, rum, brandy or single-malt whiskey over 3 split vanilla pods you’ve placed in a mason jar. Shake jar once a week or whenever you remember to. Wait two months or longer to use. You’ll find more details for vanilla extract here

vanilla extract copy
Homemade vanilla extract, day 1. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

2. Bread Crumbs

You can make bread crumbs in several different ways. I cube stale bread, whir the cubes in my blender with a bit of salt and herbs and then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet in the oven at 300°F for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned.

3. Nut Butters

I grew up on Kraft Peanut Butter. I couldn’t find its ingredients online. I did, however, found the ingredients online for Jif Creamy Peanut Butter:


Please do not eat this.

Instead, buy some bulk nuts in a reusable cloth bag, toss them in a food processor with a bit of salt give it a whir. You could make peanut butter, almond butter or a combo like pecan–peanut butter.

If your grocery store has nut grinding machines and allows you to bring your own containers to fill with nut butter, you can buy it that way and save time cleaning up. Otherwise, homemade couldn’t be easier.

4. Beans

Not only do beans you cook yourself taste better than canned, you also cut your exposure to the BPA in the plastic that lines most cans. Scientists have linked BPA, a synthetic estrogen, to a variety of health problems, including breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems and heart disease. I cook my beans in a pressure cooker (here’s how to use one). A slow cooker also works well.

pressure cooker garbanzos
Garbanzo beans cooked to perfection in a pressure cooker. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

5. Chocolate Syrup

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup contains:


Good to know that it adds only a negligible amount of fat because I wouldn’t want to consume anything controversial (I eat fat.)

If the food-like ingredients in this syrup aren’t themselves bad enough, the plastic packaging may leach estrogenic chemicals into them. And that plastic packaging never breaks down. Ever.

You can make chocolate syrup very easily. Combine 1/4 cup cocoa with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the cocoa dissolves. Add 3/4 cup sugar and pinch of salt and whisk until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Read more here.

6. Sour Cream

This wins the easiest-recipe-to-make-in-this-post prize. Combine 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk with 1 cup half & half (~12% milk fat), let sit covered at room temperature for 24 hours and refrigerate. It will thicken up in the refrigerator. I’m lucky I can buy dairy in returnable glass bottles. You must use cultured buttermilk for this to work, not merely flavored buttermilk. Go here for four more homemade 2-ingredient dairy staples.

7. Booze

Okay, unless you’re a teetotaler, you probably will buy alcohol again but do you realize how easily you can make it? To make mead—honey wine—you combine raw honey and water, stir and wait. The good bacteria and yeast in the raw honey will ferment your concoction. Find a more detailed recipe here.

new brew and ready to drink mead copy
Ready-to-drink mead (left) and a new batch brewing (right). Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

The Best Snacks to Pack for Playtime

Children can be bottomless pits — until it comes time for dinner and they don't want to eat that steamed broccoli, no matter how tasty you say it is. Snacks can be a terrific way to make sure your little ones are getting all their nutrients and have enough food to keep them moving and growing. If your kids are getting bored of the same snacks, here are a few quick and easy recipes to help you change things up a little bit!


Start Simple

Prepping a ton of snacks is probably the last thing you want to do before you head out to the park or a playdate, so keeping your pantry, fridge or freezer stocked with easy to grab snacks is a great idea. Keep things like:

  • Bananas: You've got to love a snack that comes in its own neat package. Throw a couple of bananas in your bag, and you’re good to go.
  • Frozen Grapes: Wash and freeze a bag of grapes for a quick, refreshing snack that is perfect on any hot afternoon.
  • Nuts: A handful of nuts is packed with good protein and healthy fats to keep your little ones going. If allergies are a concern, avoid peanuts — which are actually legumes, not nuts! — and opt for almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios.
  • String Cheese: You'll want to bring a cooler for these, but they’re the perfect quick snack that your children will love.

If you’d prefer to go with something a bit more elaborate, here are five recipes to get you started.

No-Bake Chocolate Banana Energy Balls

These super tasty treats are easy to make and packed with healthy fiber for long-lasting energy. The fact that they taste like chocolate chip banana bread is just a bonus.

These energy balls are packed full of oatmeal, flax seed, chia seed and coconut flakes for fiber, and held together with bananas, peanut butter and Truvia Nectar – though if you would prefer, you can replace the Truvia with honey. Again, if allergies are a concern, replace the peanut butter with your favorite nut butter for the same tasty treat.

They are also super simple to make — just mix, refrigerate, shape and eat! Enjoy these delicious energy balls without turning on the oven – which no one wants to do during these warmer months anyway!

Pear Donuts

Donuts don’t have to be unhealthy, and nutritious donuts don’t have to taste bad. These fun little concoctions only require two main ingredients: ripe pears and vanilla Greek yogurt.

All you have to do to prepare these is to slice your pears into rounds, core them and ‘frost’ them with your yogurt. Then, the fun begins — adding the toppings.

You can top these little treats with just about anything, from sprinkles to sliced fruit or crushed nuts — whatever your little ones will enjoy.

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Healthy snacks are great, but getting your kids to sit down long enough to enjoy them is sometimes akin to herding cats. That’s one reason why these blueberry banana muffins are so good — they're easy to hold, so your little ones can enjoy them on the go. The last thing we want to do is to interrupt whatever important play-related task that they’re working on, after all!

These are super simple muffins, too.  All you have to do is toss all your ingredients in your food processor — except for the blueberries — and blend until it forms a smooth batter. Then, fold in your blueberries, pour it into your muffin tins and bake! They’re amazing warm, but they also store well, so you can take them to all your playdates with you!

Cookies and Cream Frozen Yogurt Dots

Children love hearing the siren’s song that is the ice cream truck, but if you’re trying to eat a little healthier, it isn’t a good thing to hear. Instead of shelling out obscene amounts of money for deformed-looking cartoon character popsicles, why not make your own frozen treats and bring them to the park with you?

They’re super simple to make, too — all you need is some chocolate sandwich cookies and some Greek yogurt. Crush your cookies into a powder — this is easier in a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin — and mix them into the Greek yogurt. Pipe onto a baking sheet and freeze until solid!

Once they’re frozen, you can toss them all into one bag or cooler and take them with you to the park or any other playdate you have planned.

Asparagus Fries

Many of our suggestions on this list so far have been sweet, so let’s leave you with something savory to snack on, too. Asparagus fries turn fresh asparagus spears into a tasty and healthy snack.

All you need to do is heat your oil on your stovetop, bread your asparagus spears and fry them until golden brown — usually two to three minutes. Once they’re cool enough to pick up, dip them in your favorite sauce and enjoy!

If you’re trying to avoid fried foods, you can make them in the oven, too. Just bake them at 425 degree F for seven to 13 minutes until golden brown.

Healthy snacks don’t have to give you a headache. Try a few of these recipes for your little ones, and you might be surprised at the results.

Know What You're Eating: The Differences Among Organic, Free Range and Everything in Between

Some may remember their mother or grandmother preparing chicken from scratch — meaning butchering a live chicken on the property. Today, “from scratch” is more along the lines of going to the supermarket, picking up a fresh cut, and shaking it in cornmeal and spices for baking. It could also mean opening a box, microwaving the food, and doctoring the meal up with dried herbs. What’s on a label varies in interpretation as much as what’s made from scratch in modern terms.

Do you read the labels as you pick out your meat? Do you know what they mean? You choose beef hot dogs over the mixed meat kind — definitely don’t want the mystery meat goo. More people want labels to be straightforward so they can make informed choices.

What’s the difference between organic and free-range or grass-fed versus pasture-raised? Ah, the days where you long for mystery meat goo where you at least know the difference between cow, chicken, and pig — or those animals that go moo, cluck, and oink.

Deciphering Meat Labels Is Less Mind-Boggling Than Heiroglyphs — Maybe

Do you know or care about where what you eat comes from? It’s all on the label, and that label indicates what conditions an animal might be raised in to produce your cut of meat.

Going to the supermarket creates a disconnect and keeps you distanced from what goes on behind the scenes. For human and animal health reasons, more people want improved conditions and care for the livestock they consume.

Photo by Pexels

One study surveyed 2,038 people about their choices, motivations, and feelings regarding humanely raised food. Respondents knew organic meant a government standard for foods grown naturally, generally antibiotic- and pesticide-free and with environmentally friendly practices. Organic food must also be 95 percent organically produced, with the other 5 percent deriving from a USDA-approved national list.

Respondents also knew free range meant livestock is kept in natural conditions with freedom to move about, but it can also mean those hens lay their eggs in clucker prison and get recreation when the farmer-guards say so. In the end, 69 percent knew what organic was while 72 percent understood what grass-fed meant.

However, the people have spoken — they care about humanely raised food. It’s just deciphering the labeling that presents a challenge. This stuff is more mind-boggling than cuneiform.

What about grass-fed and pasture-raised? Does that mean the livestock eat grass, but some don’t live in a pasture? Where do they live — on a terraformed moon? Does that mean the label would read terraformed grass-fed? You’d have to check the fine print for where.

Grass-fed technically means grass makes up the main part of a livestock animal’s diet. Pasture-raised animals graze at some point in the day, and they also get grain from the farmer. Among the total respondents, only about 30 percent got that right. Hey, those animals are technically in a barn on a pasture, right? Everyone wins.

Ready for some more? The list ain’t over until it’s over. Don’t get tired yet. Do it for the animals.

Here you go, a twist on “Would you rather …?” How about farm-to-table versus locally sourced food? The terms are similar, so you can have that validation — but they don’t mean the same thing. Not all locally produced food comes from a farm. The keyword is sourced, and locally sourced food means what’s grown and processed must be sold in the same geographical area. Farm-to-table is the most direct of all — what’s produced on the farm ends up on your table, or on that of a restaurant that likes the farm-fresh guarantee.

Natural is another good one. According to the USDA, that means the food doesn’t contain preservatives or artificial ingredients, but the product may contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other similar types of chemicals. If you see all-natural on a label, it’s not any different than natural.

The Call for Improved Labeling and Minding Your Reading

Mind your reading, folks. Instead of getting distracted by social media — oops — turn your attention to Google to conduct your latest “What the heck does this mean?” search.

Organic, free range, and other labels haven’t been revised in terms of labeling, but food labels have received other FDA-approved changes because of increasing demand for transparency. Now, added sugars are required on the nutrition list. These are explained by the FDA as added during food processing or packaged as such — potentially containing syrups, honey, or concentrated sugars from vegetables or fruit. Ingredients are typically listed by their common names, and the heaviest ingredient goes first — so that’s a little more helpful.

The FDA also made the calories section bigger, which is easier on the eyes but not necessarily on the waist, huh? It’s nice to know the FDA responds to public concerns — when they get big enough — and to changing scientific research.

Mind your reading and keep up the call. Meanwhile, keep practicing the art of memorization and Googling.

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