Monthly Archives: April 2008

Walmart: Your First Choice for Organic Food???

Diets explained has moved!

Hey everyone,

I have recently decided to transfer the content of my fitness site ( and my diet/nutrition site ( to my new blog:

I was getting a lot of questions on topics other than diet and fitness training. With a more general health blog, I can focus on topics not specifically exercise or diet.

I hope everyone enjoys


p.s. This particular post is available here.


There was a time in the not so distant past, when organic food was a niche market. Organic products were bought and sold by the same ‘crunchy granola’ demographic.

Not any more.

In fact, since 1990, organic food sales in the United States and Canada have been growing at approximately 20% per year. In 2006, sales of organic food in the United States and Canada topped $18 billion.

These numbers have caught the attention of the mainstream agri-business industry.

As you can see in the chart below, the growth in organic food sales is being driven by mainstream supermarkets.

Over the past decade, the growth in organic food sales from natural food stores and the ‘direct to consumer’ route has been increasing at a moderate rate.

The same can’t be said for sales made at supermarkets. In 1998, organic food sales in supermarkets are half the size of the sales in natural food stores. However, in 2006, supermarket sales have grown to be neck and neck with the natural food stores.

There is money to be made. And big business is good at making big money.

The following charts illustrate how North America’s largest food processors have increased their share of the organic food market.

Organic Industry Structure: Top 30 Acquisitions – pdf

Organic Industry Structure: Top 30 Introductions – pdf

Organic Industry Structure: Significant Acquistions and Introductions – pdf

The following chart highlights the major independent organic food processors and their brands.

Organic Industry Structure: Major Independents and Their Brands – pdf

This chart illustrates the Private Label organic food brands available in North America

Organic Industry Structure: Private Label Brands – pdf

This chart presents a time line of the acquisitions and mergers of the 4 major organic food retailers.

Please note that on August 27, 2007, Whole Foods officially completed their buyout of Wild Oats.

Organic Industry Structure: Retail Acquisitions and Mergers – pdf

Organic Industry Structure: Whole Foods and Wild Oats Locations – pdf

This chart illustrates the concentration of the organic food market at the distribution level.

Organic Industry Structure: Distributor Acquisitions and Mergers – pdf

All of this data was originally organized by Dr. Philip Howard. I was introduced to it via this post from Lucas @ wwje.

The purpose of this post is not to disparage any of the players involved in growing, distributing or selling of organic food.

My goal is to raise awareness in consumers to the fact that as the organic food industry grew, it changed.

The whale swallowed the minnow. Organic is now a marketing term. And the practices that endeared organic food to the early adopters may becoming endangered.

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Filed under Diet - General, In the News

U.N., World Bank and IMF & their Food Riots

Over the last few days, representatives of the U.N. met with 27 international agency heads in the Swiss capital, Bern, to chart a solution to food price rises that have caused hunger, riots and hoarding in poor countries.

As reported by Reuters, the United Nations said today that “We consider that the dramatic escalation in food prices worldwide has evolved into an unprecedented challenge of global proportions.”

This group, consisting of the heads of U.N. agencies, funds and programs, the IMF and the World Bank under the leadership of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon , will set priorities for a plan of action and make sure it is carried out.

The recent surge in food prices is said to be due to several factors, including increased demand in developing countries, higher fuel costs, drought in Australia, the use of crops for bio-fuels, and speculation on global commodity markets.

The group is also urging countries not to use export bans as a tool to maintain the food supply of their own country.

So let me get this straight:

World leaders (business, gov’t, NGO) use the IMF/World Bank to encourage the governments of ‘developing nations’ to sell farm land to multi-national corporations. Farm land that used to sustain the native population is used to grow flowers and other export-only crops like coffee and cocoa.

Al Gore and the environmental-industrial complex creates an atmosphere of fear and political correctness throughout the world. The expansion of bio-fuels is one of the results of this fear.

The financial leaders of the world create another world wide panic over sub-prime mortgages and the related ABCP.

We are told that the world is running out of oil.

We are told that as China & India grow, oil supplies will become more scare due to increased industrial and automotive use.

Now we are told that the world is running out of food.

What the @**&%$#

Why do we give ‘these’ people control over our lives?

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Filed under In the News

Book Prize for the 100 Mile Diet

On April 21, I wrote a review of the 100 Mile Diet.

In today’s Vancouver Sun, Rebecca Wigod reports that The 100 Mile Diet has won a British Columbia book prize. The book won the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and was also a finalist for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

Congratulations to the authors, J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith.

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Filed under In the News

Test tube meat

PETA is offering a $1 million prize to the scientist who can MacGyver commercially viable meat in a laboratory.

Let that sink in. I will wait….

mmm mm mmm mmm mmm mm mm mmm mmm …theme from Jeopardy…

This has to be a joke, right?

As reported in this article, “the reward would go to the first scientist to produce enough test-tube chicken to be sold in 10 U.S. states by June 30, 2012, at a price competitive with prevailing chicken prices.”

Meat grown in a test tube. We are not talking about the mystery meat being produced today, but real, honest to God science fiction food.

To me, the fact that it is PETA offering their version of the Xprize is irrelevant. PETA is just attempting to dovetail the ongoing research into this engineered food-type product with their campaign to save animal life (deprive humans of a juicy steak). PETA president, Ingrid Newkirk was quoted as saying that “humans don’t need to eat meat at all,” and that since many people “refuse to kick their meat addictions, PETA is willing to help them gain access to flesh that doesn’t cause suffering and death.”

What is relevant is the shift from real food from real farmers for real people to meat from a laboratory.

And wait for it; people will be buying this stuff. For decades, we have been buying processed foods that are not good for us.

We already purchase food made from genetically modified seeds. We eat food (see Quorn) processed in a lab, made from the filamentous fungus Fusarium venenatum strain PTA-2684. We eat foods designed to survive a nuclear winter (see Twinkie).

In today’s world, test tube meat may, in fact, be the ultimate foodstuff.

Think about it. It’s the ultimate feel good food.

sarcasm alert

By purchasing “bio-meat”, you are saving the environment. You are preventing human starvation. You are saving the animals. You will be saving yourself from heart disease.

Wow. Maybe this stuff isn’t so bad.

Just imagine when the marketing gurus get a hold of this stuff.

You WILL buy our new and improved “bio-meat”.

Resistance is futile.

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Filed under In the News

Re-name the Bagel-ful

While I am sure that Kraft spent a bazillion dollars coming up with the perfect name for this engineered food-type product, I think I can do better.

How about you?

Here is what I came up with:

Bagel-ful-of-artificial cheese product
Bagel-ful-of-chemicals & preservatives
Bagel-ful-of-impaired insulin sensitivity

(pardonnez moi mon francais)

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Filed under In the News

The 100 Mile Diet

The 100 Mile Diet is not really a diet in the modern sense (a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce ones weight).

It is truer to the ancient Greek definition diaita, which means literally, manner of living.

The 100 Mile Diet is a practice of deprivation; it is a manner of living or lifestyle.

Originally coined by James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith , the 100 Mile Diet refers to the practice of consuming food that has been grown, manufactured or produced within a 100 mile radius of the person consuming the food.

On the first day of spring in 2005, James and Alisa chose to confront the fact that when the average North American sits down to a meal, they are sitting down to foods that have travelled over 1500 miles.

In an attempt to confront and bring attention to this practice, they decided to only consume food and drink that was produced within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles—Alisa & James call it “the SUV diet.” On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa and James chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Soon after they began to chronicle their experiment on their blog at, the blogosphere and ultimately the mainstream media became aware of their 100 Mile Diet. With this unexpected attention, came the creation of a grassroots 100 Mile community.

People all across North America began to look at the food they ate in a new way. What am I eating? Where did it come from? What goes into it? What are the repercussions of consuming this food?

There is also a connection between this diet and the proponents of this diet (known as locavores) to the concept of sustainability. And while the terms, locavore and sustainability may be relatively new, the concept is not.

The connection between food and ethics has been explored in literary form in the books:

Diet for a New America

Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Fast Food Nation

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

While future posts will focus on diets that follow the modern definition of diet, I welcome any questions/concerns about this posting.

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Filed under Diets - explained

Breaking News! Heart Disease & Stroke linked to Diet

An article in today’s Telegraph, details startling new research that claims that “the leading cause of heart disease and stroke has been linked for the first time to a person’s diet and chemicals in the urine”.

Wow! A link between diet & health.

The study is apparently the first to link blood pressure to a person’s metabolic fingerprint.

Metabolic fingerprint is a catchy way of describing the the unique metabolites that are left behind by specific cellular processes. In this case, the scientists were looking at the metabolites (small molecules) found in urine, which reveal the way food is broken down in the body.

Getting to the point…

Western diets (rich in meat, high in alcohol and low in fibre) are bad.

People who eat a diet high in animal protein (indicated by the metabolite alanine being present in urine) have higher blood pressure, eat more calories, have higher cholesterol and body mass indexes.

People who eat diets higher in starches such as rice (indicated by the metabolite formate) have lower blood pressure and ingest fewer calories.

People who have healthy levels of gut flora (reduced by antibiotic use, increased by prebiotics and probiotics and indicated by the presence of hippurate in the urine) also have lower blood pressure. Hippurate is also present in the urine of individuals with low levels of alcohol intake and higher levels of dietary fibre.

While comparing the metabolic fingerprints of study participants in the U.K., United States, China and Japan, the scientists concluded that test subjects from the U.K. and the U.S.A. have similar genetic and metabolic profiles. In contrast, while the Chinese and Japanese participants had similar genetic profiles, they had different metabolic fingerprints.

What was most interesting was the comparison of the native Japanese participants with those Japanese individuals living in the U.S.A..

Japanese-Americans displayed a typical American metabolic fingerprint; indicating that lifestyle has a stronger effect on blood pressure & heart disease than genetics.

To summarize:

Eat more fruits & vegetables.

Thus endeth the lesson.

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Filed under In the News