By now you know that Food Babe posted an article about the Starbucks PSL and it has pretty much gone viral over Facebook. I just want to offer some perspective. I did some further research this morning and came up with some of my own conclusions. I am by no means a food expert. I have a telecommunications background and project management training. I have doctors and nurses in my family who are much more qualified than me to give any kind of a nutritional advice. I just find this particular topic interesting.
Food Babe used some websites in her article and links to other articles in her website. She posted links to other blogs on her website and one link to Starbucks menu. She also posted a blurb from an email she claims she received but no date or time stamps or signature from the source. I can do the same thing but this does not make either one of us an expert. Neither one of us has a degree in medicine, nutrition, or chemistry.
The Food Babe also talked about transparency by Starbucks and that employees would not give information. Well this morning I walked into my local Starbucks and asked the barista to show me the pumpkin spice syrup bottle and the whole milk jug. This barista showed me right away, no questions asked.
Food Babe discusses the non -organic milk at Starbucks. So we all know what the definition of organic is and that the USDA has a certification program. The certification of organic is conducted by accredited agencies and not the USDA itself. These certifications cost money and while fees vary, it must be pretty hefty if the USDA can provide financial assistance. You can find more information about this here… http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOPFAQsHowCertified This morning I asked to see the gallon of whole milk that was used to make the lattes at Starbucks. The jug did say hormone free and antibiotic free milk. Which to me is more important when I am out at an establishment such as Starbucks. For my home I purchase organic hormone and antibiotic free milk but as I have said before, I understand that it’s expensive to buy organic milk and the cost of dairy in general is high and that it makes more business sense to go with not only what customers may want but what fits the budget to run a business. I suggest that people stick to whole milk anyway because based on what I have read whole milk is better and reduced fat milk is milk that has the fat taken out and then replaced by sugar and salt to give it taste. Here is an article discussing why low fat milk may not be as healthy as we think. There are several articles as well floating around out there.
Food Babe’s claim about Caramel Color. I asked for the bottle of pumpkin sauce. It does say caramel color e150d. Well she may be on to something here. There are lots of studies going on about Caramel Color and the different levels and the effects on people. Nothing seems to be concrete about Caramel Color and the level 4 being a carcinogenic. I found this information on the FDA Website that I found interesting.
I also found this article on webmd.com discussing caramel color and other food dyes from a different perspective. Stating that there has not been enough evidence to support claims about caramel color. We should all eat less processed foods and eat as organic and natural as possible. It is always best. But we know that as we are out in public going to places such as Starbucks that you are not going to get to eat and drink 100% natural.
As a side note, Annatto, which is in Starbucks Pumpkin sauce is a plant based food color. It is generally safe but if you have an allergy to it, you may experience reactions. I do not think this should be a warning that is any different than someone with a nut allergy should avoid foods with nuts or foods that are prepared in the same area as nuts. But that’s just my humble opinion.
Food babe asks “where is the pumpkin?” As I said before and commented on her website, the theme of the drink is Pumpkin Spice not Pumpkin Latte. They use a pumpkin pie spice mix that you would use at home to make pumpkin pie. No its not organic spice but it is a real spice mixture.
A high dose of sugar? Well, no one said this stuff was healthy or going to keep you trim! If you eat organic ice cream it has sugar. Wine has sugar. Alcohol has sugar. No matter what your vice is, all of these things should be consumed in moderation. If you drink more than 1 can of soda a day, and I know people who do, you are increasing your calorie consumption and sugar consumption and increasing your risk of weight gain and other issues associated with weight gain. If you drink a Starbucks milk based drink every day that has sugars you will increase your risk for weight gain. Back in my twenties I got a latte every day from Starbucks and gained 5lbs in 3 months. I had no idea at the time! Now I know that Starbucks lattes should be a considered a treat and not an everyday habit.
My next topic to discuss will be Starbucks not serving organic coffee. The Starbucks Company is a huge partner of Fairtrade coffee and gets all their coffee through them. The vast majority of Fair Trade coffee is grown organically but farms can't always afford the 20 grand certification stamp... please visit fairtradeusa.org and http://www.specialty-coffee-advisor.com/organic-coffee.html You can read more about Starbucks and how they get their coffee in the book “Pour Your Heart Into It and “It’s About The People”. You will also learn about other efforts this company makes to ensure people who are in business with them and work for them are treated fairly.
My last concern about Food Babe is why is she only going after Starbucks? Dunkin Donuts offers a Pumpkin Spiced drink as well. Has she investigated them? I just checked their website and the ingredients listed also include caramel color and preservatives. Is she only going after Starbucks because they are in the spotlight more often? I just think she is a consultant turned genius self-marketer who knows how to make herself more high profile by picking the right companies to target. Oh here is a link to Dunkin’s PSL http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/hotbeverages/specialitycoffee/latte.html
You can chose the pumpkin flavor and the ingredients will come right up for you to read.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what I think or what Food Babe runs around claiming is the gospel truth or what is toxic. We make our choices and should do so by getting information on our own. We should not go by what various bloggers have written and posted as news. And we should pay attention to the bloggers who delete comments on their sites that differ from their own. I would like to mention Food Babe’s team deleted all of my comments, the comments others made similar to mine, and blocked me from commenting on her Facebook page. This tells me that this particular blogger and public figure is not open to information other than what she provides. She is not interested in hearing from anyone who may have something to say that is opposite or could challenge her in anyway. That is not the kind of person I want to learn from, but hey, that's just me.
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