Does Kombucha Live Up to the Hype?

Let’s just say kombucha is an acquired taste. I would be lying by omission if I didn’t mention the slight vinegary flavor that sits beneath whatever sweeteners or flavor additions used to mask the less savory elements of kombucha’s flavor.

But the taste of kombucha is a taste that can be acquired when one considers the flavor as a whole, particularly when the flavor of the plain fermented tea is combined with other flavors, much in the way that kombucha drinks produced by brands like Health Ade and Humm are.

Brass Tacks: How Good For You is Kombucha?

Good for Your Gut

The primary known benefit (and the benefit that people most associate with kombucha) lies in the rich probiotic properties of the beverage. (The fermentation process that begets these bacterial strains also produces acetic acid, which is also found in vinegar and is the source of the slight vinegary taste in kombucha). The beneficial bacteria in kombucha have the power to kill bad gut bacteria like candida, which feeds on refined flour and causes the body to crave simple carbohydrates to satiate the bad bacteria’s bottomless hunger.

The good bacteria in kombucha consume these bad bacteria and also consume food, breaking down nutrients and playing a key role in the digestive system by processing food and excreting enzymes, vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin K.

Gut bacteria also causes the production of one of the brain’s most important neurotransmitters: serotonin. It is estimated that 90% of the brain’s serotonin is produced in the gut by the body’s helpful bacteria. That’s why whenever one consumes a beverage or food high in beneficial bacteria, one is prone to experiencing a warm feeling of happiness in brain and body. Serotonin is the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. But it also plays an important role in various mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. Research is being done into whether probiotics can help with such conditions; major conclusions have yet to be drawn.

Antioxidants Galore

Kombucha also contains a truckload of antioxidants, which are molecules that bind with and steal particles called free radicals, which cling to and oxidize (rust) the cells in our bodies.

According to a study published by Murugesan, et al, green tea kombucha has profound anti-toxic and antioxidant effects on the liver. Long term consumption of kombucha by rats reduced liver toxicity by 70%, according to the study.

Might Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

One study, published in 2012, revealed that, in laboratory rats, kombucha lowered bad cholesterol (LDL or low-density lipids) and raised good cholesterol (HDL or high-density lipids).

Potential Diabetes II Aide

A study of diabetic rats found that kombucha significantly slowed carb digestion, which prevented spikes in blood sugar characteristic of insulin-resistant diabetes.

A Word of Caution

Beware of home-brewed kombucha. If kombucha is not prepared properly, it could be dangerous due to pathological bacteria spreading instead of the good bacteria. That is why home kombucha brewing kits are something to potentially beware, as amateur mistakes can be made to disastrous effect.

That is why it is best to put one’s faith in brands like Health Ade, which processes its product in a way that is USDA compliant and certified safe.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is: kombucha is good for you. We listed above some of the benefits and, even though the only one of those benefits that has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt is the probiotic benefit, the other ones have some evidence to support their existence, and can enter into any reasonable discussion about the potential benefits of kombucha. This manner of speaking of kombucha is acceptable, so long as the caveat that the results of studies about these benefits are not yet conclusive is expressed as part and parcel of the discussion. So enjoy your kombucha and know that you’re doing a good thing for yourself by drinking it!



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Halo Top and Ice Creams Like It: Low Calorie Innovations or a Risky Proposition?

Is Halo Top an angel or a deceiver? There are many genuine advantages to low-calorie ice creams, namely the fact that there are fewer calories in them. Full stop. The ‘but’ to that statement is a surprise to be revealed later in this article.

Here we’ll look at 3 brands of low-calorie ice cream: Enlightened, Breyers, and Halo Top. We will compare the advantages and nutrition information of each and try to understand the benefits (and even the risks) of this dietary innovation.


Among the highest quality low-calorie ice creams is Enlightened. Enlightened not only tastes like the ice creams with lots of sugar and milkfat; most pint-sized containers hold only 320 calories worth of ice cream, or 80 calories per serving (though we all know how easy it is to clear half of one of those things at least!).

Many flavors (there are 30) have just over 70 calories worth of fat per container, and up to 10 grams of protein! One flavor, triple chocolate (among the most caloric of the flavors), has 18 grams of carbohydrates. While normally each gram of a carbohydrate contains around 4 calories, most low-calorie ice creams contain a sugar alcohol called erythritol, which only contains .24 calories per gram. Erythritol is the (open) secret ingredient in low-calorie ice cream, and we’ll discuss its safety later in this article. Two thumbs up for Enlightened, though, for crafting what essentially amounts to high tech ice cream.


Good ole’ Breyers. Breyers really comes through with their product, however much they seem like the establishment choice. The vanilla flavor has 260 calories per container and, like Enlightened, up to 10 grams of protein, depending on the flavor. Breyers also contains erythritol, as well as stevia for its sweetening properties. On top of it all, it’s good! Though you don’t get as many flavor choices (four).

Halo Top

The Vanilla Bean flavor of Halo Top contains just a little more fat than Breyers’ Vanilla Bean. But Halo Top contains 20 fewer calories because there are significantly fewer grams of carbohydrates that are not erythritol.

Halo Top is very much an originator of the trend of using erythritol in ice cream, and their OG status is reflective in the quality of the recipe. It tastes like one might mistakenly call “the real thing”. It tastes that way because it is the real thing. It’s good and, given the protein content and prebiotic blend, is, in some ways, good for you as well.

So What’s the Danger of Erythritol?

There are no proven risks of consuming erythritol. Enjoy your ice cream!


Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Chew Your Gosh Darn Food: How to Eat Mindfully

Have you ever had one bite-sized piece of a meal left, so you cut that one bite into several smaller bites and chewed really slowly? Have you ever tossed a handful of skittles into your mouth, knowing full well that when you only eat one at a time, the flavor still reaches every corner of your mouth anyways, just like the whole handful?

This begs the question: Why not just put one skittle in your mouth at a time? Why not take every bite as though it was your last? So often do people tend to shove food into their faces unthinkingly, only to reach the end of their meal not only far fuller than they would have been had they slowed down, but disappointed that the meal is over as well.

Among other things (such as mindfulness regarding ethical sourcing of food products), mindful eating involves allowing oneself to savor each bite of a meal, and being aware of what nutrients are in the food one is eating, and allowing oneself to experience an active awareness of the physical sensation of the act of refueling the body that eating constitutes. When eating mindfully, one ought to become more aware of the sensation of becoming fuller as one takes each bite and chews slowly (sometimes up to 25 times per bite!), reaching fullness alongside awareness.

The Three Main Addictive Flavor Profiles

Our brains are hardwired to seek out certain flavors of food, flavors which signal to our brains that the food contains nutrients and macronutrients that are beneficial to survival—namely fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. The three major addictive flavor profiles that are culprits in runaway weight gain are salty, fatty and sweet flavors. When one eats mindfully, one needs to eat and allow oneself to fully experience the sensations of the food and be aware of when salty, fatty, or sweet flavors are causing them to crave the next bite, which leads to faster eating and, ultimately, overeating.


Salt is prized by the brain’s reward system (basal ganglia) because of its role (along with other electrolytes) in contributing to the proper workings of muscles and nerves, among other functions. Through the miracle of evolution, our brains have decided that salt is good for us, therefore it makes salt taste good. Unfortunately, food today contains more sodium than nature had ever thought possible, therefore the salty flavor profile is often a sign of unhealthy food.


The next time you have a prime marbled steak with fat laced throughout the meat, take a moment after each bite to truly savor the meat and the fat. Allow yourself to feel the reward circuits in your brain go nuts for the fat, which is signaling to your brain that you will be able to survive until you kill your next prey. Eat the meat slowly enough, and you will likely eat less of it in a single sitting, meaning you won’t have done as much caloric damage and you’ll have leftovers!

Fat is stored fuel, so fatty foods contain a formerly living being’s stored fuel, which humans are able to use as their own. When eating fatty foods mindfully, say to yourself: “This is fuel” and become aware of the fuel integrating into the fabric of your body.

Sweet flavor

While fat is stored fuel, carbohydrates are readily available fuel sources that that the body uses faster than fat, but which turn into fat if they go unused. Carbs are contained in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes among other food categories. Carbs, and the varying levels of sweetness that come with them constitute an addictive flavor profile, particularly when candies pack up to 30 grams of sugar in a single regular sized bar.

Carbohydrates are fuel and necessary, but when the brain is hijacked by excessive amounts of a good thing, it can lead to overeating and weight gain.

What to do?

First, read the label of the food you are eating. Examine both the ingredients and nutrition facts. Try to learn as many typical food ingredients as you can (there are many)—from whole kernel corn to the myriad corn-derived food ingredients in most products on the supermarket shelf. Know which ingredients are contributing to which of the above addictive flavor profiles.

For example: You are free to enjoy a sugary soft drink. This is America, after all! But you should still read the label if you want to be mindful about the beverage and its contents.

You look at the ingredients and you see high fructose corn syrup listed second. Then you look at the nutrition facts and you see that the calorie count for the whole bottle is 310. You take the first sip. Feel the electricity of the sweetness from your tongue to your belly to your brain. Examine whatever physical sensations come with the taste and swallow the soda.

At this point you’re probably feeling sick to your stomach. Now feel free to put the soda back into the fridge where you might want to have it in case you get a sugar craving later! Just make sure you do everything outlined above again whenever you want more soda!

Where does this food come from?

A corollary element of mindful eating is being aware of where food comes from and knowing whether good practices are being used to cultivate all of the ingredients in the food you are eating. What grade meat are you eating? Is your steak cutter/utility meat or USDA Choice or Select, which is what you find in most grocery stores. The cutter meat is what they put in microwavable meals and McDonald’s hamburgers, prime is what you find in fine dining restaurants, and choice and select are the primary grades of meat available in grocery stores.

Other questions to consider include: is the food organic? How long a distance did the food have to travel? How was the food grown (fertilizer, soil type, etc.)? What kind of feed was used? Corn? Grass? Something else?

These are all additional things to be considered when choosing the food to use the above techniques on.

So next time you eat, take a moment to consider what you are putting into your body—what will become you. Observe the sensations of food becoming a part of you, and above all: enjoy. Eat, drink and be merry, but always go to great and mindful lengths to enjoy it.


Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

The Future of Food - Part 1: Gene Editing

Consider the tomato: When tomatoes become ripe, they fall to the ground and become bruised, or worse: rotten or eaten by worms and bugs. What if there was a means by which scientists could change the genetic coding that caused tomatoes to fall off the vine when ripe?

Enter CRISPR/Cas 9:

When one hears about what CRISPR does, which is edit genes, one would think that it would be some sort of machine. What it actually is is a naturally occurring family of DNA snippets that occurs in bacteria as a defense against DNA-altering viruses. CRISPRs actually “remember” DNA that is changed by viruses and triggers the reproduction of the original DNA.

This faculty is the characteristic of CRISPRs that allows scientists to manipulate DNA with them by cutting DNA at certain points and adding or subtracting to the existing strands.

CRISPRs at Work

Water-Efficient Crops

One of the chief projects being undertaken using CRISPR is the development of crops that don’t need to be watered as much. This is done by triggering the plant to close its stomata, which function as pores that essentially sweat water. Currently, tobacco is being used as the guinea pig plant because it is the most susceptible to genetic modifications, whether using CRISPR or through traditional methods like selective breeding. Plants that don’t need to be watered as much will (obviously) save water, but they can also be grown in greater abundance, making it easier to feed larger populations of people.

Heat-Resistant Cows

As the planet grows hotter, there is a need for heat resistant cows. CRISPR has allowed for scientists to splice genes, creating the “Brangus” cow, which is a combination of the Brahman and Angus cows. The Brahman cow is heat resistant and has an excellent immune defense from disease, while the Angus cow is widely known for producing top-grade beef.

Bigger goats and dogs for the third-world

Researchers in China have made use of CRISPR for the purposes of deleting the genes in goats and dogs (yes, dogs) to make them larger for the purposes of human consumption. One example of this is when they spliced the genes of a pit bull and a beagle, creating a dog with a pit bull body and a beagle head. Cute?

Bioethical Concerns

It’s imagery like this that really gets one to question whether gene editing is worth whatever risks may accompany it. It may be a bit narrow-minded to say that this is immoral based on the fact that it is unnatural or that human beings are “playing God”, but nature is complex beyond our ability to fully understand it. There may be hidden benefits to genetic traits that may pose challenges to us, and by altering genes, we may risk losing those benefits.

It is the risks that cause ethical complications, though, in the case of gene editing, the potential benefits generally outweigh the risks. The FDA views gene editing as being breeding, but exponentially faster, so federal regulations are minimal. A number of startups have taken root to tackle the problems CRISPR may be instrumental in solving, and tremendous progress is being made as researchers learn more about the capabilities of CRISPR every day. The more we learn about this technology, the more we can do with it and the more it can help people around the world.



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Out with the Old, In with the… Ancient?

It seems that many trends in organic food involve old traditions rendered into new products. Ancient grains are an apparent example of this. People have been consuming foods such as quinoa, spelt, bulgur, chia and buckwheat since well before human civilization’s agricultural revolution, and yet most of today’s Americans hadn’t heard of them before the dawn of this millennium.

Due to the foundation of a wave of new companies like Ancient Harvest, Canaan Fair Trade, or Tiny Hero (links), more people than ever are buying organic food. Companies like these sell everything from microwave-ready quinoa (Ancient Harvest) to Flame-Roasted Freekeh (Canaan Fair Trade) straight from the Levant. Companies like these are also part of the wave of people promoting the health food revolution, which, in so many ways, starts with the most ancient form of crop: the grain.

What is an ancient grain?

Consumers may recognize pseudocereals like quinoa and chia as being commonly referred to ancient grains, but there are many more species of ancient grains, such as spelt, bulgur, and buckwheat. These grains are different from more common grains and cereals such as wheat, corn and rice because they haven’t been selectively bred for certain traits, but, rather, are closer to the form they took when they were consumed by the nomadic people (or people of early civilizations like the Aztecs, Egyptians or Sumerians) who depended upon them for survival.

Various forms of these grains were used by these civilizations and their forebears before farming practices were developed, and many of them have health benefits that have since disappeared from starchy crops in more recent millennia.

A Few Kinds of Ancient Grains

Ancient grains come in many forms: wheats, pseudocereals, grains. We’ll look at 5 specific ancient grains here that are some of the more commonly found ones in the United States of America.


Quinoa is one of the most common ancient grains and can be found in a variety of grocery stores, produced by a variety of companies like Tiny Hero Foods, Canaan Food Group, or Ancient Harvest. Quinoa is of the amaranth family. What we eat when we eat quinoa is actually the seed of the plant, but it absorbs water, almost like couscous, but completely different.


Freekeh is a little more difficult to find. It is produced from young wheat, which is still green when harvested. It is then roasted and can be eaten plain or used like croutons in salad. Technically freekeh is the term describing the process of roasting durum wheat in this way, but the dish has been called freekeh for long enough where no one will give you the evil eye if you call it freekeh.


Also known as dinkel wheat, spelt has been grown by humans since 5000 BC. It is one of the earliest domesticated crops. Per hundred grams, spelt contains approximately 70grams of carbohydrates (including 11 grams of fiber), and 15 grams of protein! The crop is also rich in essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous, and contains B-vitamins in abundance. Put simply, spelt is high quality fuel, and has a low glycemic index level and a high concentration of beneficial nutrients and macronutrients.


A relative of rhubarb, and not even technically a grain, buckwheat is grown in places as remote as Bhutan and as familiar as France. It is considered a pseudocereal since it shares so many traits in common with wheats and grains such as water solubility and high concentration of complex carbohydrates. Despite growing demand, buckwheat remains a very minor crop in the United States, only accounting for approximately 25,000 acres grown annually.

So what are the health benefits of ancient grains?

The central benefits of ancient grains stem from the fact that they are more complex carbohydrates than modern starches like wheat. This means that they have a lower glycemic index level than modern starches, meaning they do not precipitate a spike in blood pressure in the way that white rice or corn do. The carbohydrates take longer to break down and therefore can be utilized more effectively so they aren’t stored as fat right away.

Regularly consuming food with a high glycemic index level can lead to diabetes, meaning replacing consumption of refined or processed carbohydrates with ancient grains may help reduce your risk of diabetes.

Yet another health benefit lies in the rich antioxidant properties of most ancient grains. Antioxidants are molecules that donate electrons to molecules called ‘free radicals’, which can cause mutations in DNA. By donating electrons to these free radicals, antioxidants neutralize the oxidizing (rusting) charge of the free radical and prevent it from doing any further harm.

Where can I buy ancient grains?

Stores from Wal-Mart to Whole Foods carry ancient grains, although some ancient grains are more common than others in certain locations. Quinoa and chia are the most common, although you can find grains like bulgur as ingredients in other foods in many stores. Brands such as Ancient Harvest or Tiny Hero can be found at stores such as Jewel Osco, Fareway or Jungle Jim’s.

More heavily populated areas will tend to have higher availability of ancient grains other than quinoa due to the diversity of palates that comes with higher population densities. Nevertheless, many Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs, even in relatively remote locations, sell ancient grains, just not the diversity that can be found in smaller health food stores in urban areas.

The future of ancient grains

The future looks bright for ancient grains as more people become aware of best practices in food consumption. The starches/carbohydrates in ancient grains are, generally speaking, more complex than even whole grain, and far more complex than refined wheat. The increased popularity of ancient grains is further evidence of a shift in the American palate as the public is educated about healthy habits and the right dietary choices, which are available to be made with every meal.



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

















Thinking Beyond the Landfill: Food Waste and Where It Should Go

Haste makes waste, and as we race through life we often neglect to make good choices with regard to our consumption. On a daily basis, we are confronted with such decisions: how many apples should I buy? Will I eat these leftovers or go out to eat? Will I bring this food home from this restaurant, or will I allow the server to throw it away?

Citizens of the world (primarily the western world) are confronted with these decisions every day, and so often does the choice result in food being thrown away. But how much food is being thrown away? And what kinds of food? What about all the waste that accompanies the food production process—from packaging to fuel used in transportation. Finally: where does food waste go and what can we do about all of this?

How much food do we waste?

As a species, we waste astronomical amounts of food on a yearly basis. Annually, those in the first world waste around $680 billion, while the third world collectively wastes around $310 billion worth of food. All told, that’s nearly $1 trillion worth of food wasted every year.

But you can’t eat a dollar, so to put it more descriptively: as a species, we waste one-third of the food we produce. We waste 4.3 billion TONS annually. In pounds, that number is 8.6 trillion, or, to be even more descriptive, around 25.8 trillion apples. Every year. In fact, produce is the most commonly wasted form of food at nearly 50% of waste. Cereals and grains account for 20% of waste, while meats account for 30% of food waste, according to the United Nations.

Other forms of waste in the food production process

Not only does food itself get wasted, but there are a number of byproducts of the food production process that are forms of waste in and of themselves. For example, 25% of the water Americans use goes toward wasted food, with 4% of gasoline going toward the same bitter end.

On top of that is all the packaging that goes to waste. PET plastic bottles break down and leak particulates into the water supply, plastic bags from grocery stores are used by the hundreds of billions per year worldwide. Even paper, which is more biodegradable, ends up in landfills, where a lack of oxygen prevents it from breaking down for perhaps decades, or in some cases, hundreds of years.

Another dangerous byproduct of the food production process is farm runoff, in which harmful varieties of fertilizer and other chemicals associated with factory farming wind up in local water supplies after rain carries them there. This can be toxic to residents near factory farms, and can spur growth of seaweed in lakes, which can then produce harmful forms of algae.

Finally, fossil fuels are used and wasted throughout the food production process, primarily on processing and transportation. According to CNN, “The average meal travels 1,500 miles before it gets to the diner’s plate.”

Where does it go in the end?

Landfills. Much of the food waste humans produce ends up in landfills inside of plastic garbage bags that can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade. Dumps are the cheapest way to dispose of waste, but they can have negative impacts on the environment, such as toxic waste leaking into the water or deadly methane gas leaking into the air.

A more effective way to dispose of food that effectively recycles the food is composting. According to, there are two main types of food recycling. The first is in-vessel composting, which “involves mixing food waste with garden waste—shredding it and then composting it in an enclosed system for around 2-4 weeks… The material is then left outside to mature for a further 1-3 months with regular turning and checks to ensure quality before going on to be used as soil conditioner.”

The second form of food recycling is anaerobic digestion, which “uses microorganisms to break down food waste, animal manure, slurries and energy crops in the absence of oxygen, inside an enclosed system. As it breaks down it gives off methane, which is collected and converted into biogas and used to generate electricity, heat or transport fuels. It also creates a nutrient-rich digestate that can be used as a fertilizer for agriculture and in land regeneration.”

These two forms of recycling are effective and safe and can be done at home, although ideally it should be done in specialized facilities, of which there should be more. Composting takes time that many people can’t afford to spend, and it also takes property space, so many people don’t have the capital to compost at home. That is why there need to be more facilities and composting needs to be done in the same way as trash.

What else can we do about the problem of waste?

The developing and developed world face two completely different sets of challenges in the realm of food waste. The developed world wastes food because of overproduction and individual overestimation of needs at meal-time and when shopping. The developing world, however faces monetary challenges in storing food, or in acquiring private capital to fund farm projects and make them more efficient—investments in a farm’s community.  The developed world’s waste happens at the end of the supply chain (at the table), while in the developing world, it happens at the beginning, before the food even leaves the farm.

Complicating the matter is that imports from farms in the third world are more wasteful in terms of transportation costs, which might affect sales as more we educate consumers.

The first solution to the food waste problem in the first world is as simple as it is a multi-faceted challenge: Education. A change in attitude. History shows that large populations of people can be taught new habits and behaviors (for better or for worse), and that campaigns to shape public perceptions, when effectively executed, have an impact.

Another very important and simple solution is for people to donate food from private cupboards and grocery store shelves that would otherwise be thrown away.

The more complex solution is for lawmakers to develop legislation to further guide behaviors with regard to food waste. This is complex not because the right policy decisions aren’t available to be made, but because of lawmakers’ affiliation with Big Food lobbying groups and their unwillingness to run afoul of these special interests. The problem is that many policies should be regarded as inconsequential, such as mandating composting and recycling at the federal level.

Knowledge is power, and educating the public and encouraging them to take action and put pressure on their public officials, while managing their consumption at home is the key. If we build the facilities to manage food waste as effectively as possible, people will want to use those facilities. Short of mandating people compost a certain amount of food each month, people will want to do the right thing if you provide some sort of encouragement, whether by building a composting facility, or by creating some sort of incentive program to nudge them in the direction of the behaviors of reducing food use and recycling wasted food.

Each of us must be the change we wish to see in the world. If we reduce waste and recycle food, we can ensure that our children and grandchildren can eat for generations to come.



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Water is Winning: The Shift from Soft Drinks to Bottled Water

Conventional wisdom tells us there is wisdom in the crowd. Could it be, then, that the enormous shift in sales from soda and other sugary beverages to plain old bottled water is a collective act of learning on the part of the masses of American consumers?


After all, there has been an enormous paradigm shift in consumers’ awareness of the foods they put in their bodies. Where soda sales would routinely top 50 gallons per capita in the 1990s to mid-2000s, today soda sells less by volume than water. In fact, while bottled water is consumed at 39.3 gallons per capita, carbonated soft drinks sit at 38.5 gallons.

So I guess one could argue that water is winning. This despite a concerted campaign on the part of large soft drink companies to promote their products to the youth and adults in the United States. They have attempted to advertise to the youth by putting sugary soft drinks in school vending machines and by allocating marketing and advertising dollars to the tune of nearly a billion dollars per year, with billions more spent on reaching adults.

These campaigns and the enormous expense that comes with them all seem to be falling short in some respects as the bottled water sector (in which The Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo are competitors as well) has blossomed and segmented into a wide variety of brands and products, many of which are brand new. Everything from alkaline water to water from aquifers is now available in many grocery stores.

Another likely reason for the boom in bottled water sales may involve the dramatic drop in tap water quality, as low oxygen and particulates from the sewer system and pipes, as well as pollution from lakes and streams and runoff from farms into local water supplies. Bottled water is generally filtered and drinkable in places with sub-par water quality. And for people who are extra vigilant about their water, bottled water is a simple solution.

The shift from soda to bottled water says one thing about human nature: the masses learn. Carbonated beverages are, generally speaking, bad for you, and it seems that Americans are, slowly but surely, collectively learning this—whether the hard way through experience, or by being taught by advertising campaigns and news reports and health classes being taught in school to minors.

It seems that water is poised to win out over soda in the long run, which makes sense, since it comprises more than half of the matter in our bodies. (Alternatively: since it comprises around 55% of women’s bodies and around 60% of men’s. It seems that Americans are ‘going with the flow’ of what their bodies are telling them: that it’s time to drink more water, and that their health depends on it.



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Organic Dairy vs. Plant-Based Milk

Perfecting the process of dairy production has been, to say the least, a lengthy process. And yet, in many ways, the revolution of organic dairy and plant-based milks is a return to old practices. People have been drinking cow’s milk and plant-based milk for many years, but only since the dawn of the era of ‘health food’ has research lent itself to determining which form of milk is actually the healthiest.

Here, we’ll look at 4 milks (cow’s milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk), and examine each option.

Risks and Benefits of Dairy

If you ask anyone on a paleo diet about the benefits of dairy, they will most likely scoff at you; but many body builders swear by that post-workout serving of chocolate milk to replenish not only glucose and glycogen, but protein as well. These are two very different perspectives on the same commodity. One says that it is unnatural and unhealthy to drink the milk of another animal, and the other has no problem with utilizing cow’s milk as a way of replenishing the three vital macronutrients: sugar, protein, and fat (although sugar is far more abundant in chocolate milk than plain).

Though milk has these macronutrients in abundance, it is also difficult to digest for many people around the world. It is believed that 40% of people have some sort of lactose intolerance, including 30 million people in the United States. Milk can also contribute to weight gain, even when consumed in relative moderation, as well as contributing to excess estrogen production. Fortunately, organic milk is free of the hormones rBST or rBGH, which can cause all manner of problems.

According to The American Cancer society, “Milk from rBGH-treated cows has higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone that normally helps some types of cells to grow. Several studies have found that IGF-1 levels at the high end of the normal range may influence the development of certain tumors. Some early studies found a relationship between blood levels of IGF-1 and the development of prostate, breast, colorectal, and other cancers.”

But if one consumes grass fed, organic milk, that risk is mitigated and one can enjoy the benefits of milk’s nutrition profile, while not worrying about cancer risks.

Risks and Benefits of Plant-Based ‘Milks’

Soy Milk: Soy has been a source of dietary controversy since the dawn of the health food era. It seems that there is not a clear consensus on whether you should eat soy. Embodying this controversy is the startling fact that while soy may lower one’s risk of colon cancer, it can potentially increase women’s risk of breast cancer by increasing isoflavone levels, which mimic estrogen and feed hormone-dependent cancers.

But soy milk is also a good source of both protein and calcium, making it a worthy milk replacement, primarily for those who are lactose intolerant.

Coconut Milk: While known for its health benefits, coconut milk should still be consumed in moderation (8-12 oz servings). While the fat in coconut is largely the good kind, the fact remains that there is a lot of it (40g per serving).

Another risk of coconut milk is that it is largely sold in cans, many of which contain the toxin BPA (Bisphenol A), which can cause physical deformities and hormone-dependent tumors. But as long as you buy coconut milk in non-metal containers and you drink it in moderation, coconut milk is a perfectly healthy beverage that is most assuredly advisable to drink.

Almond Milk: For those who don’t have nut allergies, almond milk may be the healthiest of these three plant-based milk options. Unlike the other three milks listed here, it has minimal calories (30-40 per 8 oz serving), with 1g. of protein, 1g. of fiber, and 3g. of fat. Almond milk also poses a minimal cancer risk compared to the other two, and can be consumed in greater volume than the other beverages examined here.

So what kind of milk should you drink?

You may be asking yourself: “Should I drink dairy or plant-based milks?” Or, “Which is healthiest: regular dairy, soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk?”

Basically, the answer is almond milk. It is the safest one for those who are not allergic to it, it has the fewest calories per serving, and what calories it does have come from high-quality fats and proteins (and that little bit of fiber doesn’t hurt either!).

But the other milks listed here (despite some drawbacks) also have some notable benefits: milk for its nutrition profile, soy milk for its suitability as a milk replacement for those who are lactose intolerant or who have a milk allergy, and coconut milk for the quality of its fatty acids, amino acids and sugars. So raise your glass (regardless of what milk might be in it) and toast to the many kinds of milk!



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.

Hungry Competition: The Crowded e-Food Space and Who May Win Out

From Amazon Pantry to Blue Apron to online delivery services offered by local grocery stores, consumers appear to be taking advantage of a newfound ability to purchase food online. While this has the potential to be quite lucrative, the newfound industry faces a host of challenges—from cultivating customer loyalty to keeping the food fresh.

Quality of the Food

Food quality, while only one aspect of the logistics dilemma facing internet food delivery, is of chief importance. A rotten tomato or spoiled milk will call the whole matter of internet food delivery into question for a consumer, making customer loyalty very difficult to cultivate.

Availability of Different Food Delivery Services

Further inhibiting customer loyalty is the sheer availability of food delivery apps and services. Amazon has “Amazon Pantry”, which allows customers to fill a box with food and other household items (primarily non-perishables). Amazon then charges a $5.00 fee to deliver the items in the box.

Then there are apps like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Peach Dish, and Plated (among others), which are engaged in a bitter fight with one another for dominance in this field. But even they are threatened by the oldest fighter in the ring: The grocery store.

In order for grocery stores to adjust, they must do what a select few of them have been doing for decades: deliver food. As more food delivery startups enter the e-commerce space, grocery stores must take advantage of the variety of products in their possession, as well as their proximity to the communities they serve.


One of the primary problems with online fresh food outlets like Blue Apron is that there is not a very large selection of food. At any given time, there is a limited number of ingredients as the site only offers a limited number of meals available for purchase as a package deal (they send you the ingredients, you cook the food).

A given grocery store has everything you need to prepare thousands upon thousands of recipes, and if a grocery store were to deliver it could be very lucrative because of the large number of unique items they have available to customers for purchase.

The Point Is:

If a customer wishes to prepare one of a limited number of meals at a price greater than the value of each of the ingredients combined, they should feel free to do so. But if they want the convenience of grocery delivery, they could probably get more variety from an actual grocery store near them that delivers. But to each their own. As long as everybody eats happy, we can all be happy!



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.