Category: Food Industry Awareness

This is where I share quality information, and articles relating to the Food Industry and the importance of educating yourself when it comes to reading food labels, so that you can make better choices when it comes to your food.

Understanding Processed Foods and Why Eliminating Them Matters

-By Diana Tap – May 28, 2014

What Is Processed Foods:
Processed foods can vary slightly, but it usually refers to foods that are packaged in boxes, cans, bags or packages. These foods need to be processed extensively to be edible and are done so by adding additional ingredients that are usually unpronounceable. These additions then change the food from its original natural state.
You can determine whether a food is processed by looking at the ingredient list. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is likely to be. The more processing steps involved the more nutrients and vitamins are then lost. Processed foods are usually found in the center aisles of the grocery store and are more likely to contain ingredients that are unrecognizable such as preservatives, food dyes and chemicals. These are not real food ingredients that you would cook with at home.
Processing also refers to the structural change in some foods like crackers. These usually have Trans fats added to increase their shelf life. Trans fats are created when vegetable oils are overheated and the molecular structure of the fat changes. Trans fats are linked to serious diseases like heart and cancer and should be avoided. In other words, processing usually means removing nutrients, swapping good nutrients for bad, increasing calorie content and removing other valuable things like fibre.

Processed Food Facts:
Did you know that 90% of the food in grocery stores is processed? 70% of the average American’s diet is made up of processed foods. In 2007, I made the decision to eliminate the majority of processed foods from our diet and that percentage was 70% of what we were consuming.
Processing affects the taste and properties of the food. Food manufacturers will then add cheap or artificial ingredients such as sugars, salt, fats or additives to restore the lost flavor properties and improve the texture for appearance and to extend the shelf life of the food.
Did you know that 100 years ago, the leading cause of death in my grandparents generation was infectious diseases. They ate a lot more whole foods, with higher nutritional value. Obesity wasn’t a problem.

Why Foods Are Processed:
Convenience is the main drive for processed foods. Food travels long distances and it sits in supermarket shelves for long periods of time and so preservation and safety concerns regarding some foods are an issue. Processing is used to kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms in order to extend the shelf life.

The Trouble With Fat-Free:
• Fat-Free foods must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving
• Low-Fat foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving
• Reduced Fat foods must have at least 25% less fat than regular versions of those foods.
• Light foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat
Fat-Free also lacks in taste and flavor and to make up for that, food makers will add other ingredients like sugar, flour, thickeners and salt and this adds calories. The foods are usually not appealing and less satisfying and you end up consuming more of them.

Ingredients and Foods To Avoid Whenever Possible
• Canned foods that are high in sodium or fat.
• Flavored chips, crackers and snacks.
• Frozen dinners
• Sugary cereals
• Processed meats – Look for meat labeled, Minimally Processed.
• Most condiments including bottled sauces, dressings, marinades, pre-flavored packaged products and boxed foods.
• All soda/pop – regular contains sugar and diet contains Aspartame
• Any products that specifically list these ingredients on the label: MSG, Corn Syrup Solids, Yellow 5&6, Blue#1, Red40, artificial colors and sweeteners.

Take A Reasonable and Practical Approach (Baby Steps Here Or You Will Get Discouraged)!
It’s important to understand that you are not going to eliminate everything, but you can significantly reduce it! You have to take a practical approach and eliminate what you can, and then look for healthier alternative products. Incorporate the use of fresh ingredients, like fruits and vegetables. Cook more at home and look for healthy recipes that contain minimal ingredients. Plan ahead and prepare meals in advance. Eliminate Fast Food!! If this is the only thing you end up eliminating altogether, trust me when I say you will notice a huge difference in the way you feel and your body will thank you!

If you have any questions or you just need a little encouragement along the way….I’ll be there for you!
I’ve been through this myself and the most difficult step is going to be the first one. It does get easier and you will feel better and have more energy. Send me an email at [email protected] and let me know your progress. I’d love to hear from you!

Source: WebMD

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Something’s Fishy!


Many of you have asked us recently what types of fish do we eat and what products do we offer for seasoning fish? First, let’s talk about the types of fish and which one’s are healthy and which one’s to avoid. According to our friends at; they have compiled a list of the 6 best types of fish and seafood to eat and the top 6 in which to avoid. To make the list fish must have low levels of contaminants below 216 parts per billion (ppb) mercury and 11 ppb PCB’S, be high in health promoting omega -3 fats, and must come from a sustainable fishery. So which one’s made the top 6 healthiest fish?

1) Albacore Tuna (troll -or pole- caught) From The U.S. or British Columbia. These fish have a much lower mercury and contaminant ratings and those caught in colder Northern waters often have higher omega-3. Know how your fish is caught, it makes a difference. Look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco label.

2) Salmon (wild caught, Alaska) They contain 1,210 mg. of omega-3’s per 3 ounce serving and carry few contaminants.

3) Oysters (farmed) Over 300 mg. per 3 ounce serving of omega-3’s and they contain one third of the recommended daily values of iron.

4) Sardines, pacific (wild caught) It packs more omega-3’s 1,950 mg. per 3 ounce serving. They are also one of the few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D.

5) Rainbow Trout (farmed) Though lake trout are high in contaminants, nearly all the trout you will find in the market is farmed rainbow trout. In the U.S., rainbow trout are farmed primarily in freshwater ponds or “raceways” where they are more protected from contaminants.

6) Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.) Freshwater Coho Salmon is the first and only farmed salmon to get a Super Green rating. All other farmed salmon still falls on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “Avoid” list. This is because many farms use crowded pens where salmon are easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish.

Fish To Avoid:
This is just six examples chose to highlight. A good guideline to follow is to avoid any fish that carry higher levels of mercury and PCB’S due to toxic contaminants and environmental issues. Do your homework: Know how your fish is caught.

1) Bluefin Tuna
2) Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish)
3) Grouper
4) Monkfish
5) Orange Roughy
6) Salmon (farmed)

The Zesty Moose offers a diverse selection of seasoning blends for fish and shellfish.

Seasoning Blends include: Rack Ragin’ Cajun, or Willow of a dillo Dilly Blend.
Any of our Finishing Salts; Lemon Thyme, Chili Lime, Habanero Orange or Lavender Herb n’ Pepper. On the lighter side, try The Tuscan Herb & Garlic or Sundried Tomato Basil blended with olive oil. Create a light butter sauce by blending our Shallot Parsley or Garlic Basil Parmesan Finishing Butter and then adding wine, citrus or cream.
Available Soon…..Smoked Sea Salt Rubs…Alderwood, Applewood and Hickory!

Check out our website: for more ideas and recipes.

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Small Food Business Gives Recognition To The Zesty Moose And Featured In Entrepreneur Spotlight

Entrepreneur Spotlight – The Zesty Moose
by smallfoodbiz on February 10, 2012

I must admit, the moose is my favorite animal so when Diane Tap contacted me and told me that her small food company was called The Zesty Moose, I had to know more.

It turns out that the company’s name comes in part from Diane’s own affection for the large doe-eyed ungulate which can be found roaming the Rocky Mountain West region Diane calls home. As for the zesty part? That comes from the spices Diane uses to create the company’s handcrafted spice mixes, dips, and marinades.

Like many artisan entrepreneurs, Diane never thought she’d one day start a food company. “I started reading a lot of food labels on products and was totally blown away by how much stuff like fillers, preservatives, and MSG is in our food,” Diane explained during a telephone interview from her Grand Junction, Colorado home. “I didn’t start it as a business, I just made up some spice blends to give away as gifts and next thing I knew I was getting calls from people asking how they could order.”

At that time, Diane was working for an area winery as a tasting room manager and helping with their wine inventory. She was hesitant to leave her full-time job so despite the requests, she continued to work and dedicated her evenings and weekends to fine-tuning her recipes and developing new flavor combinations. It actually took Diane more than two years of testing and experimenting but in 2007 she and Brian, her business partner, launched The Zesty Moose with nine products in the company’s portfolio.

Though the company originally rented commercial kitchen space to produce their mixes, their presence at craft shows and holiday shows helped them quickly gain brand recognition in the area and sales picked up so much that in 2009 they decided to build out their own certified kitchen space. “I kept adding more products,” Diane says of a product line that now also includes things like handmade pasta and finishing butters, “and I just ran out of space. I was at the point where I needed my own space and I did not want to rent another place only to have to move out later down the road.”

The Zesty Moose products can now be found throughout Colorado and it’s in stores in neighboring Rocky Mountain states but Diane has her eye on growing the company even further. “This year we’re going to do a lot more bigger food shows,” she says. “We’re doing the National Fiery Foods Show in Albuquerque in March. The booth rental is a lot higher but we feel that the exposure will be better and get our information into people’s hands.”

Of course the potential issue with taking the company to a bigger show that draws merchandisers, buyers, and distributors from around the country means that Diane needs to be ready to increase production quickly when those orders start flooding in. “The worst thing that can happen is not being prepared to fill orders,” Diane explains. “When you get into these natural food stores you only have a certain amount of shelf space and if you can’t fill an order then you’re basically axed. I want to make sure I’m prepared to fill the demand for orders before I head to those bigger trade shows. We really do feel that we need to do these bigger shows though to get our name out there and get more exposure so people know what we’re about.”

One of the things that Diane and Brian did this year was purchase a commercial mixer that enables Diane to create larger quantities at one time and an automated filling machine since The Zesty Moose keeps all product production, from creating the product to filling the bottles, in-house. These purchases, which cost significantly more than basic kitchen goods, were carefully planned and budgeted for. “We have a certain amount of cash flow set aside that we earmarked for these larger equipment pieces,” Diane says. “I see this company growing and know that one day we’ll have a number of machines helping us but we need to work within our budget and if that means we purchase piece by piece then so be it.”

Diane is understandably proud of the fact that she and Brian have worked hard to keep their expenses as low as possible without compromising the products’ quality in order to help fund their own growth. Things like their website development, product photographs, and even the printing of their signs they keep in-house rather than outsourcing to a third party or contractor. This helps keep their expenses down and allows them to save money for those larger purchases. They also do all of their own marketing which includes a rather comprehensive blog that showcases recipes that The Zesty Moose products can be used in.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but for Diane, seeing the business grow and sales increase year over year is the best reward. “Don’t be afraid to start a business,” she advises aspiring food entrepreneurs, “don’t let things discourage you and get in your way. You have to have a vision and a direction of where you want to go and then you just have to go for it! It takes a lot of hard work and determination but if you believe in your product and the company you’re building it will pay off.”

The Zesty Moose products, all of which are handmade from natural ingredients, can be purchased in stores in Colorado and Wyoming or online.

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To salt or not to salt; that is the question?

There is this big controversy going on right now about salt. Is there really a difference between regular iodized table salt and sea salt, and should you use it or omit it totally from your diet? Some States are even talking about banning salt altogether. I agree with the fact that many people are exceeding the daily recommendation of sodium in their diet.
Now, did you catch what I said, “daily recommendation” Hmm, apparently the experts believe that a daily recommendation is necessary, and I believe it is.

Here’s the problem, most people have no idea what their daily sodium intake level is, so how do they know if they are exceeding it? You need to know this! The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1500mg/day1. I have spent numerous hours doing research on the internet regarding salt, and the information out there is very confusing, very conflicting on both sides, and very much opinion based. Having said that, I am going to express my opinion on this controversy.

I exercise daily, running between 4 or 5 miles a day, and my body sweats out the salt. I have to replenish it with salt, as your body does require it! So exercising and/or lack of exercising then becomes a factor in the amount of salt that your body will require. Secondly, Americans eat out 4-5 times a week. The average restaurant meal contains almost an entire day’s worth of calories, fat and sodium.2 So don’t eliminate eating out, just limit eating out, and you will probably reduce your sodium intake by half in doing so! The next thing you want to pay attention to is avoiding frozen foods, and processed foods as these usually contain high levels of sodium. Canned goods including soups; choose wisely.3 I use canned beans quite often, but I will always rinse and drain them, because they are packed in salt as it is often used as a preservative. This allows me to control the amount of salt that I will add to a dish later. Next, taste your food first to see if it needs any added salt. I’m always amazed when I see people going for the shaker and you see this snow of salt covering their plate! Eliminate diet pop altogether, there is nothing good about the stuff! This might be shocking to some of you, but the next thing to consider is prescription and over the counter drugs. If you are taking one or a combination of many, you will be increasing your sodium considerably. Many drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium are basically sodium based medications. Sodium is what allows the pill to be distributed through your body. Try to always use fresh ingredients, such as garlic, vegetables, and fruits. Grow your own if it is possible! The last thing I want to add is, try to cook more at home, that way you control what goes in it! Choose alternative products, seasonings and blends that are all natural and don’t contain MSG, Preservatives and Fillers. You can’t totally eliminate all the garbage unless you just stop eating altogether, but you can reduce it! Read the labels on everything you buy! You don’t have to sacrifice the flavor or the salt!

That is what The Zesty Moose is all about! All of our products do contain sea salt, and there is a big difference in iodized table salt vs. sea salt. There is a very concise paragraph on our website under Finishing Salts that will briefly explain the difference, and why we choose to use sea salt in our products. I also recommend that you go to the internet and look up information on sea salts and how they are harvested; as it is a very detailed process, but that is what makes it natural and better for you. Educate yourself so that you can make decisions on what you need to do; because it isn’t going to be the same for everyone. All of these things are important factors to consider when it comes to salt. Know your source; and in most cases you will have more than one source contributing to your sodium intake. Also, do what you can to reduce it. So my answer to this ongoing controversy, to salt or not to salt; in my opinion, go for the right salt in moderation!

1. American Heart Association
2. Fast Food or Fast Fat Article – Katie Bogue-Registered Dietitian
3. Do You Know The Daily Recommendation For Salt Article – Ashley Bond
(Published Jan. 14 ,2011).

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