Study: Organic Produce Has Fewer Pesticides, More Antioxidants

Organic produce
Getty Images

New research comes down on the side of organic food, but doesn't make any claims about health effects

Organically-grown fruits, vegetables and grains have substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides than conventionally-grown produce, according to a comprehensive review of earlier studies on the matter.

Organic crops contain 17 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops, according to the study, to be published next week in the British Journal of Nutrition.

“It shows very clearly how you grow your food has an impact,” Carlo Leifert, a professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University in England who led the research, told the New York Times. “If you buy organic fruits and vegetables, you can be sure you have, on average, a higher amount of antioxidants at the same calorie level.”

The findings contradict a similar analysis published two years ago by Stanford scientists, who found that there are only minor differences in the nutritional content of organic and conventionally-grown foods.

However, the new study does not claim eating organic food leads to better health. However, many studies have suggested that antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases.

Organic food purchases accounted for just over four percent of the total food market in the United States last year, or $32.3 billion.



Crumbs Might Not Crumble After All

A tray of cupcakes is pictured at a Crumbs Bake Shop, which specializes in over 50 varieties of cupcakes, in Hollywood, California
A tray of cupcakes is pictured at a Crumbs Bake Shop in Hollywood, June 29, 2011. Fred Prouser—Reuters

A bankruptcy filing could be Crumbs' lifesaver, as investors move to take a bite out of the cupcake company

Cupcake chain Crumbs filed for bankruptcy Friday evening, with plans to sell to a large investor group and reopen for business after abruptly shuttering its dozens of stores earlier this week.

A financier group that includes CNBC host Marcus Lemonis and Dippin’ Dots owner Fischer Enterprises plans to finance Crumbs during the bankruptcy process and intends to reopen Crumbs stores, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Cupcakes will continue to be central to Crumbs’ menu.

“Crumbs is known for its high-quality cupcakes, which will remain a mainstay in the new company but will be supplemented by a much improved product mix to broaden its appeal to a larger customer base,” Scott Fischer, the chief operating officer of Fischer Enterprises, said in a statement.

Crumbs has listed assets and liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million each, according to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing made Friday. The company defaulted on a $9.3 million loan shortly before closings its stores.

Crumbs began in 2003 as a shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan run by a husband-and-wife team, Jason and Mia Bauer. It then went public in 2011 as part of a boutique cupcake craze. But the company has been hemorrhaging money in the past two years, losing $18.2 million last year, and posting a $10.3 million loss in 2012 as customers’ desire for the sweet pastries seems to have faded.

The Chapter 11 reorganization will shoot some life into the teetering company, said the company’s new investors.

“Our goal is to create a viable business model by making Crumbs the nation’s ‘sweet and snack’ destination,” financier Lemonis said in a statement.


TIME Food & Drink

The Ultimate Bacon Guide

Karin Swann

Travel + Leisure dishes on where to satisfy your craving for all things bacon, from the best BLT to the best bacon-infused cocktail

Talk about pigs: Americans ate 1.1 billion bacon servings during the 12-month period ending April 2014, about 6 percent more than the previous year, according to market research firm the NPD Group.

We’re not just eating more bacon, we’re also making better bacon (consider the proliferation of artisanal bacons and chefs curing their own bacon in house) and finding creative ways to enjoy it. There’s bacon butter, bacon soda, bacon-infused booze, and bacon ice cream, to name a few inspired iterations.

All-Bacon Meal: Sage General Store, Queens, NY

Bacon is always on the menu at this new American café in Long Island City, but diehards show up for the three-course bacon brunch. It kicks off with a trio of bacons: Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, Dewig’s slab bacon, and Ham I Am! peppered bacon. Diners have their choice of mains like grilled bacon-and-cheese, mac-and-cheese-and-bacon casserole, and Wisconsin breakfast pizza with caramelized onions, ricotta cheese, crème fraîche, and (naturally) bacon. A sweet-and-savory bacon brownie finishes the meal off.

Bacon Happy Hour: Bad Decisions, Baltimore

Chef-owner John Reusing describes his Fells Point spot as a bar with a bacon addiction. The low-key neighborhood joint is known for its monthly bacon nights, when offerings might include bacon-wrapped Vidalia onions with bacon onion dip, baconsatays, and bacon Bloody Marys. Even the non-bacon drinks are quirky; the Bee Sting is mixed with mead and cider.

Bacon on Wheels: Bacon Bacon, San Francisco

This food truck doles out bacon-accented comfort foods like bacon burgers; bacon fried chicken; and bacon, belly, and butt tacos, plus sweet treats like chocolate-covered bacon and bacon caramel corn. No wonder its Bay Area–wide reach stretches as far north as Larkspur and as far south as Sunnyvale.

Bacon Challenge: Paddy Long’s, Chicago

Five pounds of ground sausage, pork, and beef wrapped in brown sugar bacon and slow cooked, the bomb is intended to serve a table of six to eight—unless you’re after bragging rights. If you can eat the entire thing in 45 minutes or less, the glory of a Paddy Long’s T-shirt, a place on the wall of fame, and a free meal (the bomb) are yours. Warning: many (89) have tried; only six have succeeded.

Bacon Cocktail: Grange Restaurant & Bar, Sacramento, CA

Ryan Seng, the adventurous barman at the Citizen Hotel’s Grange, loves to get crafty with his seasonally driven cocktail menu. A crowd favorite? Tusk, a twist on a Boulevardier that pairs bacon-infused vermouth, Angostura bitters, and Buffalo Trace bourbon with a garnish of candied bacon.


More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Diet/Nutrition

People Still Don’t Know the Difference Between “Organic” and “Local”

Food Prices Expected To Rise Significantly In 2014
Fresh produce is displayed at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on March 27, 2014 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

'Organic' vs 'local', the saga continues

It’s no secret that the organic food market is ever-growing. Organic food hit $28.4 billion in sales last year, and the Nutrition Business Journal reports that organic food products will reach and estimated $35 billion in 2014. Yet despite the popularity of “local” and “organic,” Americans are still very confused about what those words mean, according to a recent study published in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review.

A team of researchers surveyed consumers across the U.S. and Canada and discovered that 17% of the people they spoke with incorrectly believed that foods labelled “organic” were also grown locally. Another 23% falsely believe that local produce is grown organically. Researches also found that 40% of consumers think “organic” food is more nutritious than conventional food, while 29% believe that “local” products are more nutritious than their imported equivalents.

But when you scrutinize the laws governing what food companies can and cannot say on labels, it becomes obvious why consumers are so confused. Words like “all natural” and even “free range” are not easily (or often) policed, and many words used on so-called health foods have no legal definition enforceable by the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Trade Commission.

So, what’s organic?

“Organic” is more straightforward, from a legal perspective, but most consumers likely do not know that. To be labelled organic, a producer must abide by a stringent set of government standards. The USDA qualifies produce as organic if no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMO) are used. Pest control and crop nutrients must be managed through natural physical, mechanical and biological controls. And when producing organic meat, eggs and dairy, for instance, farmers must provide non-GMO livestock with year-round outdoor access. They are also prohibited from using growth hormones or antibiotics. The U.S. and Canada follow fairly similar organic guidelines, said the study.

And what’s local?

“Local,” meanwhile, is murky. A 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that “though ‘local’ has a geographic connotation, there is no consensus on a definition in terms of the distance between production and consumption.” This despite a provision in the 2008 Farm Act, that stated, in part, that any food labeled “local” must be produced in the “locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product.”

To put the distance in perspective, a drive from Washington, D.C., to Boston is about 400 miles, which means “local” is not necessarily close-by. Many states have limited “local” to mean produced within the state, and some retailers and restaurants have their own definitions. Many farm-to-table restaurants, for example, only serve food from within a 100-mile radius.

And are they healthier?

For the health-conscious, organic food is probably better for you—but not necessarily because of traditional nutrition measures. A 2012 study conducted by Stanford’s Center for Health Policy concluded that organic produce is not more nutrition-dense than its generic counterparts. However, the research was widely panned for taking a narrow view of nutrition. Counterarguments insisted that food grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides—which is to say organic—are by definition healthier choices.

As for the 29% of consumer who believe local food is more nutritious, they may be right. Most nutrients begin to degrade the moment a fresh piece of produce is picked, so the sooner it gets to you the better. Many studies have shown that a peach or berry picked closer to ripeness is more nutritious than a fruit—organic or not—picked before or after its peak of ripeness.

The bottom line

Both organic and local are good healthy options, but knowing the difference is important—especially when you consider the cost that can be attached to both.

TIME Business

A Eulogy for Crumbs, But Not Cupcakes, America’s Most Perfect Cake

Store Operations At Crumbs, Largest U.S. Retailer Of Cupcakes
A sign advertises hand-baked cupcakes at a Crumbs cupcake store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

They may have peaked as a food trend, but it's still a cake you can hold in your hand and eat without a fork.

The demise of the cupcake bakery chain Crumbs was hardly a surprise to anyone with even scant knowledge of the company. Since it’s ill-fated IPO in 2010, the Crumbs stock price was meteoric, in the sense that its brief glimpse of initial sparkle heralded a rapid, fiery descent to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere of mismanagement, speculation and over-leverage along the way. Over the past year, Crumbs stores resembled ghost towns, and the recent launch of a Cronut copycat, with the Scrooge-like name Crumbnut, only made their decline that much more apparent.

But Tuesday, as America woke to news of Crumbs’ death knell and the closure of its 50-odd stores, the end of the world’s largest cupcake chain arrived in my inbox with the burning question: is this the end of cupcakes? Some wrote me with genuine concern and curiosity, but the majority did so with barely hidden glee, praying that the insolvency of Crumbs would be the equivalent for the cupcake food trend’s fate that Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers’ own demise signaled for the financial bubble Crumbs grew fat on. “Please let this be the end of cupcakes,” one friend, a fellow food writer, wrote in an email.

I wouldn’t bet on it.

The cupcake Cassandras have been predicting buttercream-frosted doom for some time, almost a decade in several cases, and each time cupcakes have proven resilient. The small handheld cakes, decorated in everything from simple frosting smears to elaborate 3D fondant figures, stuffed with creamy fillings, and even paired with booze, have retained their position as the defining food trend of the 21st century for good reason.

Cupcakes are not a new food, unlike last summer’s trendy pastry, the Cronut. They have been around for well over a century, and most North Americans have fond memories of cupcakes at birthday parties, or coming out of an Easy Bake oven to be topped by chocolate frosting and sprinkles. The modern cupcake trend began in New York City in 1996, when the original owners of the small Magnolia Bakery made a batch of cupcakes out of leftover cake batter. Though other bakeries, such as the Cupcake Café, made cupcakes in New York, not to mention other cities, these seemed to hit a chord with the neighborhood and a demand for the cupcakes steadily grew. Though lines for Magnolia’s cupcakes soon formed, cupcake fever didn’t truly take off until the early 2000s, fed by three factors.

First, the cupcakes at Magnolia garnered a brief, but highly influential cameo in one scene of Sex and the City, which instantly changed the image of the cupcake from a child’s treat to an adult indulgence that was the butter and sugar equivalent of $500 Jimmy Choo pumps. Second, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the subsequent recession sent Americans searching for comforting, familiar foods (think mac n’ cheese or gourmet burgers), and the cupcake proved to be the perfect edible safety blanket. Finally, the rise of cupcakes coincided with the Internet age, first with broadband and blogs, and later the social networks, which made sharing stories, recipes and photos of each and every cupcake a breeze.

Cupcakes were no longer confined as a food trend by geography. Someone in Paraguay could read about the early success of a company like Crumbs, browse hundreds of photos of their elaborate decorations, and replicate that in their own business in Asunción. The cupcake became the first viral food trend of the Internet age. Every bakery, every design, every new variation on this one simple cake (mini cupcakes, giant cupcakes, vegan cupcakes!) were written about and debated with the energy we once devoted to war correspondence.

But as the press, foodies and the public tired of hearing about cupcakes, they begged for the end of the cupcake story. They didn’t want to read about cupcakes anymore. The novelty had worn off.

This is the natural fate of all food trends. They’re symptoms of our collective appetite–cultural shifts in what food we value and desire–and the energy at their heart can expand to only so many places, for so long. All food trends have their peak, their moment when they’re at the center of the zeitgeist, and cupcakes passed theirs some time ago.

But that doesn’t mean the cupcake is dead. Far from it. After nearly two decades as the reigning dessert trend in America, and increasingly the world, the cupcake will not go away. It will be there at birthdays, graduations and office parties. It will still elicit palpitations of excitement on sight, even from those who cursed its constant attention, because fundamentally the cupcake’s enduring strength is its very essence: a cake you can hold in your hand and eat without a fork. A cake you can eat in the car. America’s perfect cake.

And tomorrow, while Crumbs’ shareholders will be counting their losses, and their baking equipment is auctioned off to other cupcake makers, someone in your community will still be making cupcakes, and others will buy them. Because as much as people say they hate the cupcake trend, what kind of a human being would truly want to live in a world without cupcakes?

David Sax is a freelance writer specializing in business and food. He is the author of The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

TIME Sports

Crepes vs. Bratwurst: World Cup Matches Reimagined With Food

Soccer has never looked so delicious

The World Cup isn’t just about soccer or athleticism — it’s about bringing people together and taking pride in one’s country and culture, right? To emphasize that part of the event, artist George Zisiadis decided to focus on one key part of culture: food.

He chose one popular dish from several different nations — mussels and fries for Belgium, acarajé for Brazil, and so on — and then combined them.

“Rather than focus on its adversarial nature, I wanted to playfully re-imagine the World Cup and celebrate how it brings cultures together,” Zisiadis told Mashable. “Just like futbol, food also represents nationalities and brings people together.”

George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis
George Zisiadis

Head over to Zisiadis’s website to see more World Cup food pairings.

TIME Exercise

It’s Lack of Exercise—Not Calories—That Make Us Fat, Study Says

Low section of woman exercising on treadmill
Low section of woman exercising on treadmill Maskot/Getty Images

One study says American diets have remained the same for the last 20 years

A new study published yesterday in the American Journal of Medicine reported over the last 20 years there has been a sharp drop in Americans’ physical exercise, and an increase in average body mass index (BMI), but that average caloric intake has remained the same.

The Stanford University researchers looked at NHANES data over the last 20 years, and found that the number of U.S. women who reported doing no physical activity went from 19.1% in 1994 to 51.7% in 2010. For men, the number increased from 11.4% in 1994 to 43.5% in 2010. During the same time frame, the average BMI of men and women also went up.

“At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference,” said lead study author Dr. Uri Ladabaum, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in a statement.

The drop in physical activity is worrying, but it’s worth taking a closer look at the reseach. The dataset in this study did not show that Americans were consuming more calories over the 20 year period—but it should be noted that USDA data shows that Americans are consuming about 500 calories per day more than they did in the 1970 and 800 calories more than Americans in the 1950s.

It’s certainly true that Americans are more sedentary than they used to be, but when it comes down to it, calories are a major component when it comes to weight gain. And though the researchers report that calorie intake hardly changed, they did not look at the makeup of the participants’ diets. Therefore, they have no idea where people were getting their calories—home cooked meals, fast food, processed food?

It’s true that we’ve started relying too much on calories, and the simple advice of eat less exercise more isn’t always the answer. Well-respected researchers in the nutrition community argue what’s more important is avoiding the refined carbohydrates like white bread and sugary processed foods which have become staples in our diets. Instead, we should focus on better food quality, and of course, getting more physical activity.

The obesity epidemic is caused by many factors, and it’s solution will have to incorporate many different strategies. At this point, we know that, and pulling out one cause ultimately isn’t productive—or accurate.

What we should take away from this new study is that Americans are moving less and less—and that’s bad news.

TIME Companies

Crumbs Bake Shop to Close All Stores

The cupcake craze is on its way out


Crumbs Bake Shop, the country’s largest specialty cupcake chain, told employees on Monday that the New York–based company would be shutting down all of its stores at the end of the business day.

“Regrettably Crumbs has been forced to cease operations and is immediately attending to the dislocation of its devoted employees while it evaluates its limited remaining options,” the company announced in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. A spokeswoman told the paper those “options” include filing for bankruptcy.

Though the 48-store company had shut down three stores in 2013 and six stores in 2014 with more closures reportedly on the way, the news came as a surprise to employees.

“I come into work today, I’m happy, I’m skipping to work, and suddenly I don’t have a job,” a Brooklyn Crumbs store manager named Kareem Wegman told the Journal.

The company began being publicly traded in 2011 when the appetite for the cupcake craze was still strong, but on July 1 the Nasdaq Stock Market suspended trading, saying the company did not have the either mandatory shareholder equity nor had it met required benchmarks for market cap and net annual profit.



Internet Raises Over $11,500 For Some Guy to Make Potato Salad

And the money keeps coming in

Folks, when a regular guy tries to crowd-fund his potato salad and ends up with an unexpected windfall of $11,500, you know the American Dream is alive and well.

A Kickstarter created by Zack “Danger” Brown of Columbus, Ohio asked the Internet for a mere $10 to make a potato salad. But the Internet heard his call for help, and he found himself with over $11,500 of potato salad funding, and the money keeps rolling in.

Brown posted that if he reached $3,000, he would rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to eat potato salad. But no updates have indicated what he’ll do with this much money. How long does $11,500 worth of potato salad keep in the refrigerator?

Not to be deterred, another would-be chef in the UK has asked Kickstarter for £10 to make coleslaw. At the time of writing, he was up to £12.50.


TIME Culture

WATCH: The Delicious History of the Hot Dog

The history of tubular meat goes way back.


Red hots, dogs, brats, frankfurters, wieners, sausages — whatever you call them, you’re probably getting ready to scarf down some hot dogs on the Fourth of July.

Before they were on your picnic table, hot dogs graced the fires of ancient Greece, the beer houses of Germany and the White City of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Whether accompanied with sauerkraut, slathered in mustard or just nestled in a bun, no food represents America’s melting pot better than the well-traveled, immigrant hot dog.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser