Featured Stories

Posted on 10th Apr, 2013by Joon Yun

Is Stress Edible?

Is Stress Edible?

The connection between food and stress may be stronger than you think.

The notion that food can affect our health has been around since antiquity, but fears about food have increased dramatically in recent times. The word “diet” means the sum of food eaten, but today that word is associated with not eating. Pejorative phrases like “junk food” entered our vocabulary in the 1970s. Since then, a new culprit—the latest food that we should blame and avoid—is identified every year. Many of the foods that have long been part of the human diet have suddenly become implicated in disease.

What’s going on?

The diseases most commonly attributed to food—heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, inflammation and obesity start the list—are without exception stress-related diseases. “Stress eating” is commonly understood to mean “eating during times of emotional stress.” But what if the food we eat contains a chemical echo of the stressful experience it recently suffered? In that case, we might be putting stress on a plate and calling it lunch.

Food writers and activists such as Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and others have drawn attention to the many harmful aspects of modern food production. Industrial cultivation and distribution put extreme stress on plants and animals that we eat. It seems that the stresses placed on food ingredients are coming back to us full circle in a perverse rendition of “you are what you eat.”

Take cholesterol, for example. Eating foods high in cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and other stress-mediated diseases. Stress increases cholesterol levels in both humans and industrially raised animals. When we consume a stressed animal’s high cholesterol, our cholesterol levels go up, and we may develop stress-related diseases, as if we had been the ones stressed in the first place.

Now examine salt. A high-salt diet increases the risk of hypertension and other stress-related diseases. Environmental stress causes both humans and food-source animals to retain salt. When we consume animal products that are high in salt, our salt levels go up and we may develop stress-related diseases, as if we had been the ones stressed in the first place.

Next, think about sugar. Too much sugar can increase the risk of diabetes and other stress-related diseases. We also know that stress tends to elevate blood sugar levels in the human body, which, again, contributes to diabetes. Stress also makes fruits sweeter through the plant’s natural stress hormone, ethylene. Ethylene helps fruit ripen, but ethylene is also triggered when the fruit is plucked, bruised during transport, or cut during processing. Furthermore, ethylene is often sprayed onto produce by grocers in order to ripen immature produce and to make it look more luscious. The net effect is that we put stress on fruits, and in turn their sugar levels go up. When we consume those sugars, our own sugar levels go up and we may develop stress-related diseases, as if we had been the ones stressed in the first place.

Consider omega-6 fatty acids. They increase the risk of obesity and other stress-related diseases. (By contrast, omega-3 fatty acids found in products such as extra-virgin olive oil and wild salmon generally decrease the risk of stress-related diseases.) When stressed plants release ethylene, the process also drives up their levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Heavily processed plants, such as refined corn, have higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids as a result. Animals don’t make omega-6 fatty acids and only acquire them through their diet. But when farmed animals and farmed fish are fed refined corn, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, the animals’ own omega-6 fatty acid levels go up. The net effect is that when we put stress on corn, the biochemical markers of that stress (omega-6 fatty acids) flow through the industrial food chain and end up our plate. Eating such foods contributes to stress-related diseases, as if we had been the ones stressed in the first place.

The use of a biochemical from one species as a hormone by another species is called “xenohormesis.” The ability to detect ecosystem stress through biochemical messengers in the food chain was a favored trait during evolution. If our prehistoric ancestors were eating foods that were high in sugar and fat, it was probably a sign that winter—a season with high stress—was coming. Storing reserves of fat for winter months was important for survival. Evolution favored animal species that were able to respond to the increasing availability of fat and sugar in their diet by converting calories to fat.

Thanks to the modern industrial food complex, however, excessively salty, sweet and fatty foods are available year-round today, and people eat such “stressed foods” all year long. As a result, the typical human body now looks like it is fattening up for an imaginary year-long, stressful winter—an earlier tool for survival has become a Darwinian maladaptation.

While the potential health risks of salt, cholesterol, sugar and omega-6 fatty acids are well publicized, other biochemical messengers of stress may also be lurking in our foods. For example, stressed hens tend to lay eggs with higher levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone that’s part of the same family as cortisol. Ingested corticosterone carries forward the hormonal effects within the animal that consumes it. Research has shown that humans who consume cortisol analogues for medical use over a long period of time will develop stress-related diseases.

Similarly, human consumption of the plant stress hormone ethylene warrants further investigation. Scientific data from the 1920s, when ethylene was used as an anesthetic agent, suggest that it has many biologic effects on humans, including hypertension, pain relief and water retention, which also happen to be some of the effects of cortisol. Factories make more than 100 million metric tons of ethylene each year for various industries, including the food industry—making it the most commercially-synthesized chemical on the planet.

The Low Stress Food Diet

A low-stress food (LSF) diet involves focusing on the quality or character of the food, regardless of what type of food you eat. Specifically, the food’s origin matters. When was it harvested? How was it treated? What was done to it? Eating an LSF diet means minimizing your exposure to foods that have been put through heavy stress—during cultivation to distribution to preparation—before arriving on your plate.

Think about what is least likely to cause stress to your food. Whole foods would be better than processed foods. Choose plants that were grown in the season and soil in which they evolved. Choose food animals that were raised in cage-free, free-range conditions. Animals raised on natural feed, such as grass instead of corn, would be preferred. Wild meats and fish would be better than farmed. Since freezing or cooking in high heat can cause oxidative stress on foods, raw foods might be better, too. Long transport times and distances also induce oxidative stress on foods.

Ideally, a LSF diet means eating thoughtfully raised, local products as close as possible to the vine or farm. Undeniably, that’s an ideal and there are challenges of geography, seasonality, expense and convenience. The foundations of our contemporary, factory-produced diet did not appear overnight. It will take time to replace the sources of harmful, high-stress foods with healthier, fresher alternatives. The good news is that healthy grocery stores and farmers markets are starting to spring up nationwide.

Consider making some of these dietary improvements:

Republished from Edible Silicon Valley

Photo by Rachel Saldana

Food, we love you.

Featured Stories

Posted on 26th Apr, 2015by Andrea Cutright

Getting To Know FOODILY

All About Foodily
Foodily is the world’s largest social recipe collection where you can discover, collect and track your favorite recipes — all for free.

Make some Food Friends

One of the best ways to discover great new recipes is by getting people with similar tastes and interests to share what they discover with you! Start by following some Foodily Tastemakers or savvy members whose tastes, interests, and cooking styles match your own. When you do – every recipe added, discovered, or recommended is immediately delivered straight to your Foodily Feed for you to review and you get a pulse of what recipes are hot on the web by people like you.

Find Anything

We pull recipes from around the web into one place and make it easy for you to decide if a recipe is right for you. You can see ingredients unlike a basic search engine, there’s a useful level of nutrition information, and we use Facebook Connect to show you how popular a recipe is. Easily narrow your search by adding ingredients you have on hand, or want to leave out, search by diet type or dish type, even search your own faves. Ready to cook? Foodily redirects you to the original blog or website where it came from to get started.

Build Your Recipe Collection

Once you’re finding all of the recipes that you want to make (or think about maybe someday possibly making) — keep track of them in one click. Foodily keeps every recipe you like, add and recommend all in your own profile. You can finally stop printing out, sorting through bookmarks, and know there’s one place to turn for those recipes you love. Share your profile URL when you want to give a recipe to a friend who loves that great recipe you’ve just made!

Made It and Easy Recommendations

Next time you make a great dish you want to make again, click on the “Recommend” button. What’s great is that those recipes are automatically shared with the people that follow you in their feed. You’ll see a recommended recipe appear with 3-stars to make it easy to identify great recommendations. Your recommended recipes are also kept in a separate tab on your profile called “Recommends”. Every recipe page also has a comments module where you can write a review or keep your own notes.

Add to Your Profile

You can add more to your profile on Foodily including your own recipes – simply click the Add Recipe button. You can also visit your Settings page to add links to your Twitter, Pinterest, or Blog pages. And don’t forget add or change your profile photo. Want to have a private account? You can make that change here too. Head over to the Settings page for all your controls in one dashboard.

Recipe Suggestions?

We’re constantly growing our recipe index so if you want to see recipes from your favorite site or perhaps your own recipe blog please reach out to us here. We love feedback on how we can continue to make Foodily better. Share your ideas with us on our user forum!

On the Go

Foodily is available on your iPhone, iPad, Android device and on the web.

Food, we love you.

Featured Stories

Posted on 19th Mar, 2015by Andrea Cutright

Popcart now serving Boston with Roche Bros

Popcart now serving Boston with Roche Bros.

We’ve recently partnered with Roche Bros, the crackerjack Boston grocer, to launch Popcart for Boston area customers. Popcart is the tool that lets you select any recipe online and, in one click, add the recipe ingredients directly to your Roche Bros cart.

Browsing recipes online for inspiration can be a joy – but moving from that recipe to the grocery store isn’t nearly as simple (or fun). Somehow, there’s always that one ingredient that doesn’t make it home.

With Popcart for Roche Bros, Boston area cooks now have a simple, easy to use button that converts favorite online recipes to products and lets you add those products to their Roche Bros cart. Grocery shopping for dinner has never been easier.

To use Popcart, download the Popcart bookmarklet or Chrome extension. Once you add the button to your browser, you can go to any recipe and click the “Pop it” button to add the ingredients directly into your Roche Bros cart.

Interested in only organic items? Click the “organic” toggle to always have available organic items come up first. Want to double a recipe for entertaining? Click “double it” to instantly change the order quantities. Happy cooking, Boston!

1. It’s free to use.
2. It works on any online recipe.
3. You can swap out products that you don’t like.
4. You can see the total price of a recipe. Finally!
5. Roche Bros has the highest quality products and customer service.

Food, we love you.

Featured Stories

Posted on 29th Aug, 2014by Andrea Cutright

GET POPCART! For the grocery shopper we always wanted to be

GET POPCART! For the grocery shopper we always wanted to be

Last week, Foodily launched POPCART for FreshDirect, the first ever bookmarklet that lets you instantly buy every ingredient you need from any recipe you find online. Popcart is our answer to making it easier for everyone to turn their recipe inspirations into real meals that they make at home.

What we’ve seen in the last week is how quickly that help can be embraced. POPCART has added close to 10,000 ingredients to FreshDirect grocery carts from thousands of different recipes. That’s a lot of instant shopping.

We discovered too that it’s not just important to eliminate the work of racing around a store buying all the ingredients for a recipe, but how solving that problem actually let’s us shop and eat the way we want to. How were people inspired last week? Take a gander:

Did you say vegetables? You did.

Vegetables were 50% of the top 50 ingredients. The top 5 vegetables this last week were cucumber, red onion, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and arugula. Those are seasonal items and also more cost efficient.

Go strong on flavor

Herbs were 5 of the 25 ingredients and show growing trend of adding more fresh flavor to our foods, especially in the summer. The #1 flavor addition was [organic] garlic.

Sure, there was chicken

Chicken was the top protein ordered last week. But while we’re eating more vegetables, we’re also exploring plenty of protein diversity. Chicken was followed by eggs, shrimp, ground beef, bacon, and salmon

Recipes bought on over 300 different sites

Where did people buy recipes? Everywhere! From magazine sites to blogs and even some other grocer and meal delivery sites. Just goes to show how broad our individual inspiration is and what we choose to eat on any given day.

What’s next for POPCART?

One thing we’ve heard from POPCART users today is how important it is to have this solution for our mobile devices so you can shop for recipes instantly while on the go. We look forward to many more improvements for POPCART for FreshDirect that make online recipe collections more useful and more actionable in real life!

Oh – and for your viewing pleasure – here are some of the top shopped recipes from the last week:

Cucumber Dill Salad by Cookie and Kate

Greek Chicken Kabobs by My Baking Addiction

Food, we love you.