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All about fat

At times, the media tells us tall tales. It's not as reliable a source of information as we may like to think; in fact, when it comes to nutrition and health, the media can misinform in its effort to educate. Case in point: fat.

Back in the low-fat heyday (which is unfortunately dragging into today), we were taught that fat is unhealthy and that low-fat is our friend; hence the onslaught of low-fat packaged products. Forget the steak, butter and avocado! Ironically, the push for low-fat food meant a loss of natural flavour, which was compensated for with the addition of sugar. Nine times out of 10, products labeled "low fat" are synonymous with "high sugar," and low-fat alternatives (like margarine) are packed with toxic substitutes (like vegetable oils).

In the case of margarine, you may think that a product made with vegetable oils is inherently healthy. You may even pretend it's contributing to your daily consumption of veggies. However, vegetable oils can't be extracted via the natural process of pressing; they can only be extracted with chemicals and/or heat. Processing with heat destroys the chemical stability of the oils, rendering both processes toxic to our bodies. If we just ate fat in its natural state, we would be healthier and happier.

We'd like to change fat's rep. Fat is your friend. If it's a healthy fat and eaten in the context of a healthy diet, fat will work miracles on your skin, hair, general health  and weight! Folks may argue that fat makes you fat. In fact, fat is filling, which means it satiates your hunger. On the other hand, ingesting sugar and grains can cause hunger and cravings that can't always be quelled. The next time your stomach is growling for carbs, try fat in its place; you'll sidestep the carb coma, managing your energy and your waistline.

So, what's a healthy fat, you ask? Animal fats are healthy. You can eat red meat. You can also try organ meats if you're feeling courageous (or outrageous?!) Saturated fat is also healthy*; in fact, it is the building block of our bones and brain, as water is the building block of our plasma. It would make sense then that, like drinking water, we should eat saturated fats to support our physical health. And yes, sources of saturated fat generally go hand-in-hand with sources of cholesterol, but cholesterol has been mislabelled, too. It is as essential to our bodies and our livelihood as oxygen. So eating an egg yolk is not only a source of healthy saturated fat, it will not cause your LDL ("bad") cholesterol to dance. (But those rotten vegetable oils will!)

One of our favourite fats is coconut for its light, sweet flavour and because it partners perfectly in baking or cooking. In fact, its high flash point makes it one of the best oils for frying. Raw, it makes for a delectable dessert. If you're not a fan of fat, or if you're vegan and don't like the thought of animal fat, warm up to fat in your diet with our Toasted Coconut TeaPop. Your tastebuds will thank us!

*Trans fat is not healthy. The media got that one right.

All about kombucha

Tea is our favourite beverage. Hot, iced, or frozen in a TeaPop, you brew it, we'll drink it. Lately we've taken to researching kombucha at the DeeBee's offices.

Kombucha is fermented tea. We know: if a food is fermenting, you're probably more comfortable composting it than ingesting it; but fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut are not only safe to eat, they're packed with probiotics that support digestion  and they're tasty, too! While some folks think Kombucha is a new health trend, it is in an ancestral food that's been brewing for thousands of years, now making a comeback in mainstream media.

Here's how kombucha works: it begins with a sweetened tea. Now, if you're like us, and you aren't a fan of refined sugar, you can sweeten your tea with honey or a 100% juice, which also imparts flavour. Whatever the sweetener you add, it's for the culture to eat, not you; sugar is only added because it's the easiest ingredient for the culture to ferment. Without sugar, there is no fermentation; and without fermentation, there are no probiotics! After fermentation, the brew contains virtually no sugar (think 12 grams per eight ounces).

So, what's the culture, you ask? The tea is fermented with what's known as the "SCOBY." The SCOBY (which actually stands for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast") looks a little like phlegm (ew, we know!), but it transforms your everyday tea into a fizzy, tart, delightful (and healthful!) drink. The fermentation takes about 710 days, but you can save yourself the intricacies of fermenting your own kombucha and try flavours from your local grocer. But watch for sugars and juices added after the fermentation, or you could be in for an insulin high!

The health benefits of kombucha are endless. First and foremost, it is a probiotic, which supports digestion and, ahem, regularity. Kombucha also supports detoxification. While fermented tea isn't scientifically supported with the dozens of studies written about other health foods, everyday kombucha drinkers claim increased immunity and decreased sugar cravings, too. So why not be courageous and try something new in the world of tea today? You just may be courageous enough to drink the SCOBY, too.

All about caffeine

Ah, caffeine. The war wages on: healthy stimulant or damaging toxin? Different schools of thought teach different uses for caffeine; some say it's okay to drink caffeine everyday, while some say it should be avoided like a GMO.

In general, the DeeBee's team likes to think caffeine is healthy in moderation  if it is not being used to regulate your body like, for example, drinking it to wake up in the morning (of which many of us are guilty, we know). Of course, our favourite source of caffeine is tea. That said, from our experience, TeaPop fans prefer an herbal, caffeine-free tea. They worry non-herbal teas are as high in caffeine as coffee. Lucky for you, dear readers, non-herbal teas (like black and green tea) are a naturally lower source of caffeine.

For every eight ounces of coffee (that's about a mug's worth), you're swallowing about 90 mg of caffeine. Compare that to about 45 mg of caffeine in eight ounces of black tea. Now, measuring caffeine content is a sticky business because it varies with the world's varying coffee beans and tea leaves, as well as the market's varying brands. For example, a study published by the Journal of Food Science showed Stash's Dragonwell green tea brewed 47.8 mg of caffeine, whereas a Celestial Seasonings' green tea brewed 12.0 mg. The strength of the caffeine in your cup is also dependent on the length of time you brew your favourite beverage  the longer you brew, the higher the caffeine, and vice versa.

While herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, dedicated coffee drinkers may seek out a decaffeinated drip for their morning fix. What decaf fans may not know is:

  1. Decaffeinated coffees and teas may still contain caffeine, anywhere from one to 20 per cent, typically around the 1015 mg mark.
  2. What's more, the process of decaffeinating a coffee bean can include chemical solvents like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to strip the caffeine molecules from the green coffee beans. So, while you may be ingesting less caffeine, you’re ingesting more toxins.

Our happy medium is tea  herbal, white, black, naturally caffeine-free or with a little caffeine, you name it, we'll drink it!

All about gluten

Today, we've all heard of gluten and the gluten-free craze. Some folks are gluten-free of necessity; exposure to gluten as a diagnosed Celiac would be detrimental to your health. But what about our gluten-free-by-choice friends? We can be quick to call their choice to not eat carb-rich decadent desserts like fresh-baked croissant crazy  but is it? It begs the questions: what is gluten, and what is the argument against eating it?

Here's the 101:

Gluten is a protein. It exists in grains like barley, rye and wheat. Unlike the wheat of yesteryear, which stood four feet tall and billowed in the wind, today's wheat is the product of decades of, shall we say, "research and development." It has been designed to increase yield, and it stands about half its ancestral size.

Some experts argue that we haven't evolved to eat modified wheat or gluten and that everyone is affected by gluten intake. What we know to be fact is that gluten can hide in our foods in unexpected places like broths, luncheon meats, spices and even vitamins and medications. And, like hidden gluten, the side effects of gluten can be undetectable. You may not have digestive discomfort when you eat gluten, but that doesn't mean your digestive tract or body isn't affected by it. In fact, intestinal permeability, aptly nicknamed "leaky gut syndrome" (because your intestines literally leak digesting foods and foreign bodies into your bloodstream!), is attributed to gluten intake  as is high blood sugar (afternoon sleepies, anyone?), depression, memory loss and malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. The offending symptoms can be undetected or misdiagnosed.

DeeBee's loves our customers whether or not they eat gluten. But given the wealth of information about gluten's nature to hurt us, we've made our TeaPops gluten-free, Celiac-friendly, and fitting for the self-proclaimed gluten-free. We aren't here to judge or preach, but to educate and heighten your health and vitalitea.

The best offence is a good defence

Last week, Deebee's founder, Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, appeared on CTV Vancouver to offer some useful tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season. Read on to learn about immune-boosting foods, natural cold remedies and a few myth-busters that might leave you surprised.

1. Tea

How could we not? But we're only biased because this superfood has proven itself time and again with research-based evidence. In particular, rooibos tea boasting 10x the antioxidants of black teas is a great choice for the whole family, as its naturally caffeine-free composition and mildly sweet flavour are safe for children. Drink at least a cup a day to boost your immune system's cold-fighting capabilities. Or, brew it, chill it and use it in place of juice in your morning smoothie or shake.

2. Honeysuckle

It's been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and recent studies out of Asia point to honeysuckle's promising powers as an antiviral therapy. Buy honeysuckle tea and drink some every day (mix it with your rooibos if you like) to fend off or fight flu symptoms.

3. Honey

Natural cold remedies just got sweeter. Many parents find themselves stuck when little ones come down with nighttime coughs, reluctant to use pharmaceutical remedies often not advised for small children. Dionne recommends giving a teaspoon of honey just before bedtime to calm a cough. Suitable for children at least 12 months of age.

4. Apples

It's true, they do keep the doctor away…but only if you leave the peels on! Apple peels are high in antioxidants. Another plus: affordability. Unlike exotic fruits and berries from far and wide, apples are one of the most economical "superfoods." So stock up!

5. Vitamin C  myth!

It's hype. Yes, it really is. Although Vitamin C is helpful and necessary for the human body, research does not support its efficacy in preventing or treating colds and flu. So skip the powders and pills and enjoy a fresh orange instead  it might not help that cold, but it certainly won't do you any harm!

6. Yogurt or Kefir with Wheat Germ

Probiotics abound in organic yogurt and kefir (a fermented grain and milk product similar to yogurt). Sprinkle either with a spoonful of wheat germ  a great source of zinc  to kickstart your morning.

7. Garlic

You might want to save this tip for the end of the day, but garlic might keep illness at bay. Limited studies have linked garlic one clove per day with stronger immune system responses. Hey, it can't hurt to try… unless you're a vampire.

8. Get your 5 and 5!

Never underestimate the power of simple, healthy eating. It's easy to get our required daily servings of fruit and veggies during the summer months, when fresh produce abounds. But in the winter, as prices creep up and selection dwindles, we tend to fall off the wagon. Dionne recommends shopping the frozen foods aisle for reasonably priced veggies and fruits that retain their nutritional value.

9. Wash your hands

It never gets old because it works. Wash your hands whenever you arrive home and anytime in between where you've been around people.

10. Get a little exercise

Moderate daily exercise is important for keeping stress levels down and is part of a healthy lifestyle. Low stress = lower risk of getting sick.

Certification Crash Course: Kosher

The Hebrew word kosher means "fit," and kosher laws define the foods that are fit for consumption for those Jewish people who keep kosher and follow kosher laws. If you're not Jewish, you may have a basic knowledge of the kosher laws: no pork, no shellfish, no mixing meat and dairy. For the general public, we likely take fleeting notice of the 'K' stamp on our packaged foods, but for those who are Jewish and keep kosher, these certifications ⎯ and what they represent  can make the difference between "yes" and "no" at the grocery store. The kosher market is approximately 10 million strong, two million of which are Jewish while the remaining eight million eat kosher for religious (Muslims), idealistic (vegans and vegetarians) or health reasons.

Kosher food falls under three kosher categories: meat, dairy or parve (pareve). To put it simply, kosher meat is meat which is deemed clean, has been slaughtered according to Jewish tradition using specific tools and processed/prepared in a blessed facility or kitchen with dedicated utensils. Meat is never to be eaten with milk products.

Kosher dairy means the product was produced in a kosher facility where dairy products are either present in the product itself or handled at the same facility. If the product itself contains dairy (TeaPops are dairy-free!) the dairy came from a blessed animal. All kosher dairy ingredients are free of meat derivatives. For example, some foods like hard cheese, which may contain rennet, or yogurt, which contains gelatine, would not be considered kosher because they contain animal-derived ingredients. Kosher dairy products have been approved by a Jewish certifying body and can be eaten with a dairy or parve meal that does not contain any meat (see below).

Finally, parve food can be considered "neutral." A certified parve product has not come into contact with meat dairy and has been handled in an approved kosher facility. So, you can have a parve food with a meat meal or a dairy meal.

DeeBe'’s recent recertification from K Dairy to K Parve is great news for Kosher families. Now, TeaPops can be savoured any time of the day, after any meal without a waiting period (depending on the tradition, one may wait anywhere from 16 hours after consuming meat before eating something that was prepared where dairy is also handled). This is one more step DeeBee's has taken to ensure our delicious TeaPops can be enjoyed by anyone, anytime!

References:
Chabad. http://www.chabad.org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/113426/jewish/Why-Kosher.htm
Kosher Directory: Exploring Kosher. www.kosher-directory.com/index.htm

Certification Crash Course: Organic

"Organic." We've all heard of it, most of us know we should care about it. But is "eating organic" really that important, or has it just become a buzz word used to justify higher prices and a "healthier" lifestyle?

When you cut through the hype, there really are a lot of reasons why buying organically is the best choice for you and your family ⎯ especially your children. First of all, let's define what makes a product like TeaPops "certified organic."

It's not just about pesticides although that's a big part of it. Each and every ingredient that goes into a certified organic product must be background-checked and thoroughly vetted to ensure that the crops were not sprayed with synthetic pesticides or fertilized with chemical products. Additionally, ingredients must not be preserved artificially and must be handled in facilities that meet rigorous standards for cross-contamination. Pro-Cert, the governing body used to certify DeeBee's TeaPops, has a lengthy list of additional criteria, including:

  • No hormones or antibiotics
  • No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
  • Humane treatment of animals where applicable (TeaPops, however, are vegan!)
  • Preservation of ecological integrity (no exploiting the environment or land)

Certifying bodies like Pro-Cert also want to know what kind of products companies use inside their production facilities, from packaging to cleaning chemicals and pest management.

Now that we know what you're getting when you buy certified organic, what are you getting when you don't? Well, it's anybody's guess. Pesticides? Antibiotics? Hormones? Genetically modified ingredients? Maybe. Probably. These toxins can threaten our health as adults, and our children (whose bodies are more susceptible to toxins) are at an increased risk of experiencing potentially negative effects.

The good news is that the organic movement ⎯ once on the fringes of food culture now has major industry buy-in thanks to growing consumer demand. It's easier than ever to choose organic (unless you were buying groceries in the 1920s, that is). The recently established National Organic Week is an annual celebration featuring organic growers, producers, chefs, schools and companies across Canada. Throughout this week (September 2028), events are being hosted across the country to celebrate the return to organic agriculture and its positive impacts on communities, health and the environment. It's events like these that makes us at Deebee's proud of our dedication to using 100% organic ingredients and sustainable practices throughout our product line. To learn more about Organic Week and how you can take part, check out Organic Week's website.

News: Canada on GMO labeling

Last week, we gave a call to action for everyone to take the Health Canada survey to demand that GMOs be labelled on our foods and health products. Beginning in 2014, countries around the world have worked to ban, restrict or at least label foods made with GMO ingredients. [1] Despite the actions of these countries, Canada has chosen not to follow suit ⎯ yet. What does this mean for us and the food we eat?

The use of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) has been a topic of debate since they were introduced 15 years ago in canola, corn, soy and sugar beets. [2]  Rachel Parent, an anti-GMO activist, stated in her article that "more than 70% of the products you purchase at your local grocery store contain genetically modified ingredients." [3] There have been arguments both for and against the use of genetically modified ingredients in the foods we eat. The pro side argues that the benefits of GMOs include increased disease resistance, more nutritional benefits and better overall taste. [4] The opposition argues that risks include increased environmental damage, no economic value and a growth in allergic reactions in the general population. [5] Again, there is considerable controversy in determining whether GMOs are the next stage of development for the foods we eat or a poison that will work into our bodies and alter our genetic make-up.  With opposing sides on the use and consumption of GMOs, there is one critical question that needs to be answered: Why aren't GMOs part of Canada's food labelling system?

In early 2014, our Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, asked Canadians what they would like to see on the country's new food labels. [6] Here are a few of the many suggestions that were made, found in Rachel's article:

  • Enforcing food labelling rules and applying policies consistently and transparently, especially with more training for inspectors
  • More complete country-of-origin information
  • Clearly labeling genetically engineered or genetically modified ingredients in food products
  • Declaring the presence or use of pesticides, agricultural chemicals, antibiotics or growth hormones [7]

Despite the suggestions for labelling and declaring the use of GMOs in the foods we eat, Health Canada mentioned nothing about these suggestions in their latest report. It is only through public pressure that we will effect change.

If Canada is working towards transparency regarding how and where our products are made, why is are GMOs still being hidden from us? Help create better transparency by visiting Rachel's website and signing the petition for Rona Ambrose to visit with Rachel and work toward better transparency in food labeling and GMOs.

Please note: the deadline is September 11.

For more information about this topic, check out the following links!

[1] Parent, Rachel. "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels." Huffington Post. 21 August 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rachel-parent/canadas-gmo-labels_b_5696847.html (29 August 2014).

[2] Kelly, Margie. "Top 7 Genetically Modified Crops" Huffington Post. 12 October 2012.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margie-kelly/genetically-modified-food_b_2039455.html  (29 August 2014).

[3] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."

[4] "Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods." Health Research Funding. 4 December 2013. http://healthresearchfunding.org/pros-cons-genetically-modified-foods/ (29 August 2014).

[5] "Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods."

[6] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."

[7] Parent, "Canada's New Nutrition Labels Are Still Missing GMO Labels."

DeeBeeology: TeaPops v. Ice Cream Sandwiches

There's been a lot of buzz lately about the ice cream sandwich that doesn't melt in the sun. We were curious to see how our TeaPops measured up in our warm weather office. Well, after half an hour, all that remained on the plate was a pool of fruit puree, tea, our compostable TeaPop stick ⎯ and the ice cream sandwich in its frozen, solid state! One of the driving forces at DeeBee's is clean eating. Our ingredients are all natural, which is why they melt (as they should!)

How does a frozen food last out of the freezer for over an hour? What ingredients in said food would maintain its frozen, solid state at room temperature? The truth is: hundreds and thousands of products with questionable, unnatural ingredients exist in the marketplace ⎯ and in our kitchens. Knowing what ingredients are in the food we eat is becoming more and more of a priority to consumers, and our ice cream sandwich experiment reinforces the importance of this knowledge. As the awareness of ingredients increases and label-reading becomes the norm, these products will become less attractive. And as several recent nutrition articles have been suggesting, this negative press will likely affect ice cream sandwich sales.

Watch the video. Look at the photo. See for yourself. Heck, try the experiment yourself! We hope that by adding more noise to the subject, you may question why our foods even need ingredients like these (spoiler alert: they don't).

All about food allergies

Our TeaPops were recently featured in the summer issue of Allergic Living. This brought on an allergy discussion in our DeeBee's office. Who on the DeeBee's team has food allergies? What happens when they come into contact with what their allergen(s)? What do other members of the team need to know in the event of an allergic reaction? Food allergies can range in severity, and with the number of individuals living with allergies on the rise, there is a higher probability that someone in your office has one too. If you have a severe allergy, have you shared it with the people you work with so they are prepared in the case of an emergency?

With more and more people developing food allergies and sensitivities each year, it is important that products are available in the market that are allergen-free. TeaPops are an excellent option as they are free of gluten, nuts and dairy. To some of us, a peanut is a tasty treat, but to others this little nut can do a lot of damage to their systems.

According to FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education, "The job of the body's immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein ⎯ an allergen as a threat and attacks it. Unlike other types of food disorders, such as intolerances, food allergies are 'IgE mediated.' This means that your immune system produces abnormally large amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E IgE for short. IgE antibodies fight the 'enemy' food allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals, which trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction."

Health Canada identifies peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, seafood, wheat, eggs, milk, mustard and sulphites as the top 10 allergens that cause allergic reactions. The severity of an allergic reaction varies among varying individuals, and different allergens can result in multiple combinations of symptoms.

Mild symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Hives (reddish, swollen, itchy areas on the skin)
  • Eczema (a persistent dry, itchy rash)
  • Redness of the skin or around the eyes
  • Itchy mouth or ear canal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Slight, dry cough
  • Odd taste in mouth
  • Uterine contractions

Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Turning blue
  • Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • A weak or "thread" pulse
  • Sense of "impending doom"

It is also important to know that reactions can occur even without an individual consuming the substance. Contact to skin and even the smell of a substance can trigger an allergic reaction.

This clip from The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explains food allergies and offers tips on how to manage the condition.

References

"About Food Allergies." foodallergy.org. nd. (August 7, 2014.) http://www.foodallergy.org/about-food-allergies

"Food Allergies." hc-sc.gc.ca. Dec 24, 2013. (August 7, 2014.) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/fa-aa/index-eng.php

"Understanding Food Allergies." The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. August 6, 2013. (August 7,2014.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKVjKC3u9hk

All about polyphenols

Products and services the world over claim to make you healthier, but the act of eating is the most natural and effective route to health ⎯ especially if you include polyphenols in your diet.

Polyphenols are naturally occurring substances found in many fruits and vegetables that, when consumed, have been shown to benefit human health and to counter the threats of numerous chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers. We have heard it all our lives ⎯ "Eat your fruits and vegetables!" ⎯ and it truly is the simplest approach to heightened nutrition and health, especially when they're hidden in luscious bites like raspberries, cherries and chocolate.

The three most common polyphenols in the human diet are phenolic acid, flavonoids and tannins. These compounds are found in the intense, even bitter flavours you may taste when you bite into a grape or a stalk of celery. The variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and beverages that contain polyphenols makes it easier to add them to your diet, benefitting your body with their high antioxidants content.

There has been considerable amount of research conducted on polyphenols in the last 15 years. In the early 1990s, their properties were largely unknown and their health benefits largely unstudied. Most of the antioxidant research up to that time concerned vitamins and minerals, but the past decade in scientific nutritional research has featured polyphenols more and more as we strive to discover all the benefits of these compounds. There is still much to learn about polyphenols.

Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that fall into either the high- or low-end of the polyphenol spectrum.That said, just because a fruit or vegetable is listed in the low-end of the list doesn't mean it is not good for you! For example: fresh tomatoes are low in polyphenols, but they are an excellent source of lycopene, which has been found to help protect our skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

As with everything you eat, always try to source it in its most natural state. Processed and concentrated fruits and juices contain significantly less nutritional value than their whole counterparts. Have a matcha cherry smoothie today and reap all the benefits of polyphenols!

Checkout where your fruits and vegetables rank!

News: Food waste campaign

As the DeeBee's team has been settling into our new offices, we have been discussin how we can achieve a zero-waste status. Researching the subject, we discovered that a significant amount of food is wasted before we even take home our groceries. According to David Suzuki, "Over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don't even make it onto store shelves because they're not pretty enough for picky consumers."

We found a story on Huffington Post about how Intermarché, France's third largest supermarket chain, was able to start changing perceptions on food beauty:

Inglorious Fruits And Vegetables Campaign Is A Work Of Delicious Genius

We hope you will think about your grocery shopping habits and not allow the pretty produce to distract you from the value within every fruit and vegetable.   Waste reduction starts with the healthy decisions we make; beginning, as always, in the produce section.

References

"Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables Campaign Is A Work of Delicious Genius." Huffingtonpost.ca. July 18, 2014. (July 24, 2014.) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/07/18/inglorious-fruits-and-veg_n_5598994.html

"Help end food waste." DavidSuzuki.org. nd. (July 24, 2014.) http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/help-end-food-waste/

All about rooibos

Rooibos (roy-bos) herbal tea is the product of the aspalathus linearis plant. Native to the Cederberg region in South Africa, this broom-like plant has been used for its medicinal qualities for several centuries. It is naturally caffeine-free, rich in vitamin C and contains several minerals and compounds that are beneficial to our health. The ascension of this popular beverage on the global market began in the mid-twentieth century. However, since then, rooibos tells a tale of how a century-old product is perceived as new in today's health market.

The Plant

The Rooibos plant (aspalathus linearis) grows in the sandy soils of Cederberg and the surrounding mountainous region of South Africa. It is a full and short bush that typically grows to four feet in height. The tea is the product of the short green needle-like leaves that grow from the branches in clusters. Small yellow flowers grow from the ends of the branches, and the fruit is a pod, distinctively lance-shaped, that produces a couple of small, hard seeds. In the past, the seeds proved to be difficult to collect as they are released from the pod as soon as it opens. Subsequent measures have been taken to ensure the collection of the seeds is more efficient and allows for more cultivation of the plants.

The Tea

The green rooibos leaves are harvested in the hot summer months of December through May. There are two varieties of rooibos herbal tea common to the market: green and red. Green rooibos is harvested and left to dry without processing. When brewed, the drinkable tea is light green in colour and has a slight malty taste to it.

Red rooibos involves more (natural) processing, which changes the colour and taste of the tea. The leaves are picked and gathered in the same manner as green rooibos, but they are cut into smaller pieces and left to ferment. Much like an exposed apple, the rooibos leaves turn a bright auburn colour once they have oxidized, or fermented. After the red rooibos tea has been brewed, it produces a clear, earthy-coloured beverage withs a clean, nutty taste.

The Benefits

Rooibos is naturally non-caffeinated and is rich in vitamin C. It has a strong mineral profile, containing iron, potassium, copper, fluoride, zinc and magnesium and has a very healthy dose of antioxidants and alpha-hydroxy acid.

The research literature available on the health benefits of Rooibos is deep, although the majority of the studies have been conducted on animals. The need for health studies on humans is widely acknowledged.

One of the main health features of this tea is that it is suitable for pregnant women as well as children. It is known for calming colicky babies.

The presence of antioxidants in rooibos makes it a healthy tea for general cell health. It has great benefits for oral health, too, as it provides the teeth and mouth with nutrients immediately upon consumption. Studies show it can even help with vascular diseases and weight control.

While rooibos requires more academic and scientific research, evidence suggests it is a largely health-promoting beverage.

The History

Rooibos is an Afrikaans word meaning "red bush." This is a recent name for the herbal tea, resulting from the Dutch colonization of this part of the African continent. Information prior to this largely unknown.

The documented use of rooibos in the Cape Horn regions of South Africa is limited, making the history of this popular beverage difficult to establish. The cultures of the Khoi and San peoples, who traditionally consumed this beverage, were oral in nature. They passed their history along through stories and song, thus making the investigation of the origins of rooibos challenging.

Mention of the beverage was first made by the 18th century Swedish explorer Carl van Thurnberg. However, it was during World War II that Rooibos established a global presence. During the war there was no import or export of any commodities with Asia, thus making ceylon and all other black teas virtually inaccessible. In the absence of black teas, rooibos was offered as an alternative and, in some markets, it established a strong foothold.

It is more recent that the health benefits have made rooibos a viable and popular option for many seeking a healthy alternative to today's sugar-laden beverages.

One of the drawbacks of this rapidly growing market is the young foundation that the rooibos tea growers have to produce for such an increased demand. The threat of global warming and inconsistent weather patterns may also prove to have a significant effect on the crops of rooibos than we can predict.

Conclusion

The presence of rooibos in the world tea market is relatively new compared to that if it's tea counterparts, but while it may be new, it has a great deal to offer its drinkers. As a commodity that came into popularity during a time of need for tea, it has proved its staying power. With all of its health benefits, it will likely stick around for wider consumption. But, as with all teas, make sure that when you're drinking your rooibos, you are drinking the best possible tea to maximize its health benefits and avoid the leaching of pesticides and chemicals into your cup.

References

Joubert, Elizabeth and Dalene de Beer. "Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) Beyond the Farm Gate: From Herbal Tea to Potential Phytopharmaceutical." South African Journal of Botany 77 (2011): 869-886.

"Phenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of Rooibos Food Ingredient Extracts." Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 27 (2012): 45-51.

Mazibuko, S.E., C.J.F. Muller, E. Joubert, D. de Beer, R. Johnson, A.R. Opoku and J. Louw. "Amelioration of Palmitate-Induced Insulin Resistance in C2C12 Muscle Cells by Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)." Phytomedicine 20 (2013): 813-819.

Raynolds, Laura T. and Siphelo Unathi Ngcwangu. "Fair Trade Rooibos Tea: Connecting South African Producers and American Consumer Markets." Geoforum 41, 1 (January 2010): 74-83.

Sanderson, Micheline, Sithandiwe E. Mazibuko, Elizabeth Joubert, Dalene de Beer, Rabia Johnson, Carmen Pheiffer, Johan Louw and Christo J.F. Muller. "Effects of Fermented Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on apidocyte differentiation." Phytomedicine 21 (2104): 109-117.

Troskie, Dirk and Estelle Biénabe. "Institutional Building and Local Industry Dynamics: Lessons from the Rooibos GI Initiative." In Developing Geographical Indications in the South – The South African Experience. Eds., Cerkia Bramley, Estelle Biénabe and Johann Kirsten. (New York: Springer Press, 2013): 95-122. 

All about coconut sugar

Coconut palm sugar is the dehydrated product of the blooming flower nectar of the cocos nucifera tree. Recently, it has become popular in the food industry for its favourable sweet taste, unrefined composition and lower glycemic properties. This post outlines the health advantages and disadvantages of formulating all of DeeBee's frozen novelties with coconut palm sugar, as well as what this trend may mean for producers.

The Plant

The tree we so often associate with the tropics is known to the people of the Philippines as the "tree of life" for the myriad products it offers. [1] The coconut palm, or cocos nucifera, is a member of the arecaceae (palm) family and the only member of the cocos species. They can grow to a height of 30 metres with leaves up to 6 metres in length. [2]

Each tree produces both male and female flowers, the male flowers being more numerous and the female flowers being much larger. Once the female flower is fertilised it develops a fruit we call a coconut. Typically, it takes ten months for a coconut to fully develop. At maturity, a coconut has a thick band of white flesh and a small amount of water. Younger coconuts have more water and less flesh.

Coconut palms prefer sandy, dry soil and have a high tolerance for salinity, meaning they thrive on tropical coastlines. [3]  They are a hearty and slow-growing tree that can produce between 30 and 70 fruits per year.

In order to produce coconut palm sugar, the flowers are harvested, and their reproductive nectar is dried in the sun.

The Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is a relatively new product to the North American market. It is the product of evaporated coconut flower nectar. It has a dense, sweet taste with a slight caramel quality to it. Less is required to sweeten foods than its cane sugar competitor.

Because of its natural drying methods, coconut palm sugar granules are not uniform and consistent, and there are typically pieces of the plant included in the sugar. [4]

The primary makeup of the sugar is sucrose, and it includes high levels of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron and also has amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. [5]

The Benefits

The antioxidant and nutrient levels in coconut palm sugar are higher than other sugars. [6] Typically, processed sugars do not have any nutritional value, but because coconut palm sugar is nectar reduced to crystals, it undergoes a lower degree of processing. In addition, the nectar and its reproductive quality necessary to create a coconut significantly contributes to the presence of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in coconut palm sugar.

After its intense sweetness, one of coconut palm sugar's biggest claims to fame is its benefits for the diabetic community. However, many of the claims regarding its lower glycemic index have not yet been validated by peer-reviewed academic study.

As an alternative sweetener to sugar, coconut palm sugar is one of the best available. Artificially produced sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have a long, troublesome history, backed by claims made against them. [7] With the drive to find natural sweeteners, other sources have been located, but their safety is now highly in question. The most extreme example of this is the high levels of arsenic found in Organic Brown Rice Syrup, which is largely used in toddler formula, protein bars and cereal bars. [8] Agave syrup is another natural sweetener that was introduced and quickly adopted into diets without much academic study. There has been a recent backlash against agave syrup and its use because of the naturally occurring high levels of fructose.

More research will need to be conducted on coconut sugar in order to ascertain whether it is a sustainable and beneficial natural sweetener.

The Concerns

One of the most significant concerns regarding the increasing use and production of coconut palm sugar is the deterioration of coconuts and coconut-derived products.

As the flowers of the coconut palm are tapped and their nectar is extracted, it is not possible for the flower to produce a coconut, as the nutritive nectar has been removed from the ovum and cannot provide the nutrients for a fruit to grow. [9] Therefore, if a tree is used for the production of sugar, it cannot yield any coconuts for fruit, flour, milk, oil, husks, charcoal or any of the numerous products that local communities have derived from the coconut.

Studies have been conducted to determine what happens to the nut yield of a coconut tree if the use of the flowers alternates between tapping for nectar and nut production. [10] After the tree was switched from one method/product to another, the decrease in nut yield was 50%. This indicates that it is not feasible to switch the tree from one product to another. Rather, that there should be dedicated trees for each in order to maintain resources for the high demand of coconuts and coconut products.

The Market

If coconut products are to remain a viable option for consumers, attention will need to be paid to the organization of the farms and farmers that produce them. Some suggest that the smaller local farmers suffer from market exposure because of the lacking resources available to them in Asian-Pacific countries (Indonesia, the Philippines and India, in particular). [11]

Recent attention in North America and Europe regarding the effects of natural and artificial sweeteners and the overall consumption of sugar in a daily diet has been the impetus for more products on the market and the near instant reaction to adopt "new things". Artificial sweeteners no longer appear to be a viable option for consumption. [12] A recent study has located the longstanding presence of artificial sweeteners in water plants. [13] After human consumption and excretion, the sweeteners remained largely in-tact and found their way through water systems and into the cellular structure of water plants. What must they be doing to human tissue?

The scientific studies have shown that if sugar must be used, the natural ones are the best for human consumption. In order to develop and maintain a sustainable system of production and distribution for the market, investment into smaller producers will reap many benefits. Many of the local farmers producing coconut palm sugar have the knowledge of a community and familial experience for generations. Establishing a strong and sustainable system of natural sweetener products would better the health of the people who consume them and the financial health of those who grow and process them.

Conclusions

As a relatively new product to the North American natural sweetener market, coconut palm sugar is an excellent alternative to cane sugar and much less harmful than other sweeteners available in the market. It tastes great, and its intense sweetness means that less can be used for the desired taste. It has higher nutritive values than other sweeteners given its natural, unprocessed composition.

There are concerns with the production of the sugar and whether its recent popularity will diminish the availability of coconuts and other coconut products.

Further study needs to be conducted on the nutritive values of coconut palm sugar concerning its glycemic value in comparison to other sweeteners.

References

Jackson, Brian P., Vivien F. Taylor, Margaret R. Kargas, Tracy Pushon and Kathryn L. Cottingham. "Arsenic, Organic Foods and Brown Rice Syrup." Environmental Health Perspectives 120, 5 (May 2012): 623-626.

Kinghorn, A. Douglas, Norito Kaneda, Nam-In Baek, Edward J. Kennelly and Djaja Doel Soejarto. "Noncariogenic Intense Natural Sweeteners." Medicinal Research Reviews 18, 5 (1998): 347-360.

Korir, M.W., F.N. Wachira, J.K. Wanyoko, R.M. Ngure and R. Khalid. "The Fortification of Tea with Sweeteners and Milk and its Effect on in vitro Antioxidant Potential of Tea Product and Glutathione levels in an Animal." Food Chemistry 145 (2014): 145-153.

Litz, Richard E. Biotechnology of Fruit and Nut Crops. Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing, 2005.

Marinovich, Marina, Corrado L. Galli, Cristina Bosetti, Silvano Gallus and Carlo La Vecchia. "Aspartame, Low Calorie Sweeteners and Disease: Regulatory Safety and Epidemiological Issues." Food and Chemical Toxicology 60 (2013): 109-115.

Maravilla, J.N. and S.S. Magat. ‘Sequential Coconut Toddy (Sap) and Nut Production (SCTNP) in Laguna Tall Variety and Hybrid Coconuts." Philippine Journal of Crop Science, 18, 3 (1993): 143-152.

Ohler, J.G. Modern Coconut Management. Palm Cultivation and Products. London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1999.

Sia, Jocelyn, Hong-Ben Yee, José H. Santos and M. Khairul Anwar Abdurrahman. "Cyclic Voltammetric Analysis of Antioxidant Activity in Cane Sugars and Palm Sugars from Southeast Asia." Food Chemistry 118 (2010): 840-846.

Stolte, Stefan, Stephanie Steudte, Nils Helge Schebb, Ina Willenberg and Pitor Stepnowski. ‘Ecotoxicity of Artificial Sweeteners.’ Environmental International 60 (2013): 123-127.

Suliyanto, Agus Suroso and Dian Purnomo Jati. "Potential and Problems of Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Coconut-Sugar: Case Study in Banyumas Regency, Central Java Indonesia." International Journal of Business and Management 8, 3 (2013): 18-26

[1] J.G.Ohler, Modern Coconut Management. Palm Cultivation and Products (London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1999), 7.

[2] Ohler, Modern Coconut Management, 9.

[3] Ohler, Modern Coconut Management, 8.

[4]J.N. Maravilla and S.S. Magat. "Sequential Coconut Toddy (Sap) and Nut Production (SCTNP) in Laguna Tall Variety and Hybrid Coconuts," Philippine Journal of Crop Science, 18, 3 (1993): 145.

[5] Jocelyn Sia, Hong-Ben Yee, José H. Santos and M. Khairul Anwar Abdurrahman, "Cyclic Voltammetric Analysis of Antioxidant Activity in Cane Sugars and Palm Sugars from Southeast Asia," Food Chemistry 118 (2010): 842.

[6] Jocelyn Sia, et.al, "Cyclic Voltammetric Analysis of Antioxidant Activity in Cane Sugars and Palm Sugars from Southeast Asia": 843.

[7] Marina Marinovich, Corrado L. Galli, Cristina Bosetti, Silvano Gallus and Carlo La Vecchia, "Aspartame, Low Calorie Sweeteners and Disease: Regulatory Safety and Epidemiological Issues," Food and Chemical Toxicology 60 (2013): 110.

[8] Brian P. Jackson, Vivien F. Taylor, Margaret R. Kargas, Tracy Pushon and Kathryn L. Cottingham, "Arsenic, Organic Foods and Brown Rice Syrup," Environmental Health Perspectives 120, 5 (May 2012): 625.

[9] Ohler, Modern Coconut Management, 42.

[10] Agus Suliyanto, Suroso and Dian Purnomo Jati, "Potential and Problems of Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Coconut-Sugar: Case Study in Banyumas Regency, Central Java Indonesia," International Journal of Business and Management 8, 3 (2013): 23.

[11] Sulivanto, et. al, "Potential and Probelms," 21.

[12] A. Douglas Kinghorn, Norito Kaneda, Nam-In Baek, Edward J. Kennelly and Djaja Doel Soejarto, "Noncariogenic Intense Natural Sweeteners," Medicinal Research Reviews 18, 5 (1998): 349.

[13]Stefan Stolte, Stephanie Steudte, Nils Helge Schebb, Ina Willenberg and Pitor Stepnowski, "Ecotoxicity of Artificial Sweeteners," Environmental International 60 (2013): 124.

News: Our Best Buddies in the south

At DeeBee's, we have a little love affair with California. For some of us (including our CEO, Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker), it's because of family connections throughout the Golden State, while for others, it's a love for the weather, scenery, food and wine. This week, our company has the honour and pleasure to share our DeeBee's goodness at an exclusive event in support of Best Buddies International. This non-profit organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for employment and leadership training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It gets better. Award-winning journalist, Maria Shriver, is a long-time supporter of Best Buddies International since her brother Anthony Shriver established the organization in 1989. This year, DeeBee's will partner up with Maria to support the Best Buddies Challenge, which takes place in four cities across the United States, including the scenic ride, run or walk along the California Central Coast. We'll be at the 4th Annual Team Maria Benefit sharing our TeaPops with the people who support and make this event a success each year.

As a company, we believe that love makes the world go around. We are grateful to be sharing our love with individuals who need it and with people, like Maria, who are dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone.

Certification Crash Course: Non-GMO

We hear the term "non-GMO" on a daily basis, but do we really know what it means to be GMO-free and why it is so important to our health and future? Here is our quick and dirty guide to non-GMOs with a big shout out to the Non-GMO Project for their leadership and initiative.

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Many North Americans are becoming increasingly interested in the food they eat and how it is sourced. In more than 60 countries throughout the world, GMOs are labeled or banned; however, in North America they are unlabeled and found in more than 80% of processed food.

So, why shouldn't we eat GMOs? Foreign genetic materials in a host can cause other genetic material in said host to behave erratically. In short, we simply don't know the long-term effects of eating GMOs because they haven't existed long enough for comprehensive research. However, research that has been done shows that GMOs can negatively affect humans. They may be responsible for allergies, resistance to antibiotics and cancers.

The mission of the Non-GMO Project is to preserve and build the non-GMO food supply, and give eaters an informed choice. They believe consumers have the right to clearly labeled non-GMO food and products. Look for the Non-GMO Project symbol on foods and packaging in your local grocer.

News: DeeBee's goes international

Our Canadian-based DeeBee's has gone stateside! Now folks are enjoying TeaPops in the Midwest, North Atlantic and throughout Florida. What has this leap meant for our founder Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, and how does she still find time to volunteer at her kids' school? Good question.

When she created and began marketing TeaPops two years ago, ultra-busy mom and business woman Dionne had a goal: she wanted to launch TeaPops at Whole Foods, her family's favourite grocery chain and a company she felt mirrored DeeBee's values. Picture her thrill when she met the buyers for Whole Foods and they believed in her and her product enough to bring TeaPops into Whole Foods stores throughout British Columbia and the United States. TeaPops recently went south of the border where they are selling at Whole Foods ⎯ and fast, especially in sunny Florida. Stores throughout North America have caught onto TeaPops, and a bustling multi-national company has emerged from an idea Dionne and her sons conceived in their family kitchen only a year ago.

DeeBee's success has had a significant impact on Dionne's life and the lives of her friends and family. Her days are filled with business decisions from sunrise to sunset, a demanding combination of marketing, operations, finances and human resources. She works long hours and has had to be creative in order to fit everything in.

"I try to schedule my day around my kids as much as possible," says the mother of Joshua, 12, and David, 10. "Both my sons and my husband have traveled with me on business trips, and we try to focus on being a family first."

It's not easy, but this entrepreneur feels like she is living her dream of creating a company that sets the right examples for her family and shows that you can achieve what you set your heart on ⎯ and have fun doing it!

Welcome to the DeeBee's blog!

The purpose of our company and this blog is to explore a healthier, happier way of living. We will post about tea and its health benefits, organic and non-GMO foods and products, child health and the challenges and triumphs of being a mom entrepreneur (a "mompreneur!") Our intention for the words that will fill this space is to address topics that are important to our company and its people. Our products are fun, and they represent some of the best things the world has to offer ⎯ tea, whole foods and treats that promote health and wellness.

There is also a serious side to what we do, which is the reason DeeBee's ever originated. Our founder and CEO, Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, has spent years studying the effects that drugs, chemicals and environmental toxins have on our bodies  first during her Master's research in oncology at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto where she shared many intimate experiences with families going through cancer treatment and later during her PhD in maternal-fetal toxicology. Dionne's research and first-hand experience made her determined to develop TeaPops and create a healthier families and a healthier planet.

In part, DeeBee's was created so the Bakers could show their young sons that each of us has a chance to impact the world in a positive way. At DeeBee's, we want to work together to impact the world in a fun, fulfilling way. We believe the best is yet to come, and we will use this blog as a platform for sharing our scientific research, knowledge and products to help better the world we live in. We hope you will do the same!