Thursday, November 29, 2012

Industrial Twinkies, Ding Dongs Won't Be Gone Long, But Why Care?

Twinkies won't be gone long from U.S. grocery shelves. Neither will Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Suzy O's, Honey Buns, chocolate Cup Cakes with white squiggles, "fruit" and pudding pies, donettes, or my childhood favorite, Sno Balls (chocolate cakes filled with vanilla cream, covered with marshmallow, sprinkled with "coconut").

Purity-white, near-texture-free Wonder Bread won't be  missing long from American homes, either. 

After two bankruptcies in nine years, Hostess has closed its doors. And shut off the spigot of its industrial bakery snacks, even though nearly 36 million packages of Twinkies were sold in 2011

I guarantee that some clever entrepreneur will swiftly snap-up rights to the brand names, trademarks, and formulas for these industrial food products.  
The gooey, chemical-oozing goodies will be remarketed as nostalgia products, and marked up to radically higher retail prices... as is wont for all baby-boomer memorabilia. 

No, consumers won 't have to hanker long for their next Twinkie fix. Mark my words. 

Until then, why not try a better version of Hostess industrial snacks? Bakery goods created with real food ingredients such as:

  • fresh milk and cream, 
  • real eggs and butter, 
  • organic flours, and 
  • natural ingredients such as vanilla bean, fresh fruits, and fine chocolates.
Lusher delicacies made without preservatives, chemicals, additives, fillers, and artificial flavors and colors. 

Local bakeries around the country are delighting in offering better versions of Hostess products, including Cake Monkey Bakery here in Los Angeles, which offers online ordering for its (unbelievably!) scrumptious concoctions. (Click HERE for Cake Monkey ordering info.)

And recipes abound to bake or customize your own Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and other snacks. 

After all, consider the industrial alternative. Hostess-manufactured Twinkies contain 37 ingredients, including: 

"High Fructose Corn Cyrup, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate." 
The Twinkies ingredients list gets grotesquely worse with closer scrutiny. If you can stomach the grisly industrial food truth, I suggest you read Looking Inside the Twinkie at the New York Times. 

So no, Twinkies won't be gone long from U.S. grocery shelves. Neither will Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Suzy O's, Honey Buns, chocolate Cup Cakes with white squiggles, "fruit" and pudding pies, donettes, or Sno Balls. 

But why in the world would you miss them?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Los Angeles Ignores Meat Lobbyists, Urges Meatless Mondays

The City of Angels gifted us with yet another reason to hum Randy Newman's catchy tune, "I love  L.A." when the City Council recently passed a remarkable resolution urging residents to observe "Meatless Mondays."  

Los Angeles is the largest U.S. city, to date, to officially nudge residents toward this simple solution that will improve public health and boost the environment.

Earlier this year, the USDA briefly advocated  Meatless Mondays for all U.S. families... until the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and their favorite politicians screamed "Treason!" and huffed "Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers." The Los Angeles City Council ignored profit-greedy pleas of the powerful meat industry. 

If Angelenos join other cities, school districts, colleges, and universities across the nation by putting this cost-free idea into action, the improvements could be amazing. The health benefits alone are huge:

Limit Cancer Risk - Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.

Reduce Heart Disease - Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (meat, full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (olive oil, nuts, seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%.

Fight Diabetes - Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The effects on the environment of reducing meat consumption would be dramatic. Few Americans realize that the U.S. beef industry is a top contributor to global warming:

Your Carbon Footprint: - The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.

Exorbitant Water Usage - The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into producing a single pound of beef

High Fossil Fuel Dependence - On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

Factor in environment impacts exacted by the pork, lamb, and poultry industries, and the positive results of eliminating meat one day a week become obvious. (Above-listed statements fact-checked at

But the Los Angeles City Council's innovative 15-point resolution gave additional, compassionate reasons for Meatless Monday, including:

  • WHEREAS, more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese in Los Angeles
    County. Statistics show that low-income areas in Los Angeles are at higher risk for preventable diseases linked to obesity, including, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and even cancer.
  • WHEREAS, poorer communities around Los Angeles have less access to healthy foods.
  • WHEREAS, health disparities exist in various groups, with African-Americans and Hispanics
    at a higher risk of diseases linked to poor nutrition habits.
  • WHEREAS, in 2008, Californians overwhelmingly supported Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which banned some of the cruelest forms of farmed animal confinement.
Need some delicious suggestions for Meatless Monday meals in your own home? Find hundreds of imaginative, satisfying dishes HERE at   

Dining out? Try one of celebrity chef Mario Batali's 14 restaurants, where he and  partner, famed Italian-cookbook writer Lidia Bastianich, pledge to serve at least two extraordinary vegetarian entrees each Monday. 

Meanwhile, I'm back to once again humming along with my ipod about my hometown, "I love L.A..... "

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricanes, Earthquakes: Stocking Delicious Real Foods, Not Fake Foods

Planning for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, forces us to focus on real foods, not fake foods. Nonperishable foods that will satisfy and nourish us and our loved ones, sometimes for seven days or longer. 

But what real foods should we buy that will strengthen us, not spoil, and yet not taste like over-priced sawdust or freeze-dried shoe leather?

 Here are suggestions for easily-found staples to get your family through the worst of days without power or transportation:

Beverages- Stock-up on bottled water. Two cases, maybe three. And how about extra for a neighbor? Also individual boxed fruit and veggie juices.

Canned beans - A terrific source of protein, fiber, other nutrients, and most don't taste half-bad. Think kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, and black beans. Caution: avoid salt-drenched pork-and-beans and chili beans in sauce. Salty foods induce extra thirst, creating an unpleasant cycle in confined conditions.

Canned meats - Tuna in either oil or water. Other canned meats or fish, to taste, but most are highly processed and often ghastly. 

Peanut butter and jelly - Yummy anytime, but a real treat in power-free times. Enjoy on crackers, preferably low-salt. Buy jellies in smaller containers or those little restaurant servings. 

Canned fruits - In their own juices rather than heavy syrup. The healthier, the better. You'll feel better. Save sugar highs for an occasional candy bar. 

Canned veggies - Some aren't detestable. Look again at the market, and you'll see what I mean. Buy low-salt canned veggies for all times, not just for earthquakes and hurricanes. 

Nuts, granolas, and nut/granola bars - These are never detestable, but one can't live on semi-candy bars and high-carb granolas forever. Or even for seven days. But such goodies do make time go by faster. And nuts galore... high protein, good taste. What's not to like? Low-salt, though, or unsalted if you can bear it.

Dried fruits - Apricots, raisins, cranberries, banana chips, pineapple spears, mango slices. Take a stroll down Trader Joe's dried fruit aisle. But remember to save them for emergencies. 

If you have several days notice before a natural disaster, indulge your household with:

Fresh fruits - Apples, oranges, tangerines, pomegranates, other delicious fruits unlikely to spoil after a week without refrigeration.

Breads - Breadsticks, too. I'm not a believer in breads laden with preservatives. But shelf-life takes precedent over taste, texture, and aesthetics in emergency conditions. 

Others - Stock canned milk for those who require dairy on a daily basis, and pre-mixed formula for babies.  Don't forget salt, pepper, sugars, cinnamon, and other spices and herbs.  

And yes, tuck-away surprise treats to bring smiles to sullen faces... jelly beans, M & Ms, favorite candy bars, and bags of kettle corn. 

Then again, you could simply store what a former boss of mine kept in his desk drawer should an earthquake have trapped him in our downtown Los Angeles high-rise for three days: a bottle of whiskey, a deck of cards, and poker chips.