Patreon, Age of Ultron, There and Back Again, and Supplement Reviews in Planning

Some quick news from the Green-Eyed Guide

I’ve started a Patreon site, calling all Patrons

This site helps me engage with my followers so I can provide more of the content you so heartily crave. This site also helps me work off the payments I made to my publisher for publishing my first book, Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely. You can read more about what happens when I reach my goals and your special prize for a $1/month contribution at the Patreon site –>

Patreon Patron GreenEyedGuide

Become a Patron for a buck!

Gymnastics vs Crossfit, Hobbit/Storywonk and Age of Ultron

My goal since starting college has always been to help people see products the way I do, hence “Green-Eyed Insight”. I’ve taken the insight normally devoted to energy drinks and food science to the gym, and I’ve started recording WorkoutWednesday videos. These videos feed my craving/nostalgia for gymnastics, and also help me respond the the atrocity that Crossfit calls a pull-up. #YoureDoingItWrong

You can catch the latest WorkoutWednesday video below. In this video, I show you how to make basic leg kicks more exciting, while rocking my Marvel T-shirt in excitement for Age of Ultron. The name of this video (and the ones to come over the next 2 weeks) is “Back and There Again” as a shout-out to the Storywonk “Dear Mr. Potter” series, and The Hobbit. It’s also because all these exercises are done in passes: one exercise there, another exercise (or the same one on your other leg) to get back.

Supplement Reviews to Come

Finally, I’ve gotten a few different requests for supplement reviews after posting an ingredient-by-ingredient review of Swish 4 Energy.

First of all, thanks for all the interest and support, and second, I am planning to get to all your suggestions. Some of the products on my To Review list include a VERY popular pre-exercise supplement. I also want to dedicate a post to reviewing and discussing a group of products that are trying to cross-over into new markets (it’s like when you’re reading a How To book and it suddenly feels more like an autobiography).

As always, thank you for all your views and support, your feedback, and even your constructive criticism.

Advice of the day: Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.

— Green-Eyed Guide

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Food Waste and the Fresh/Natural Fixation — Food Science in the News

For this edition of Food Science in the News, we look at one example where the fresh/natural fixation is creating food waste, and one example where the super-fruit fixation is reducing it.

There’s a delicate balance between wanting to reduce food waste, and wanting fresh, whole food. How do you keep food in acceptable condition when artificial ingredients are frowned upon, and even the oldest, most basic preservative (plain ol’ table salt) is on many Diet-Don’t lists?

First, a food waste primer

  • Approximately 40% of the annual food supply in the US becomes food waste, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) [1]
  • The US Department of Agriculture defines food waste as “the edible amount of food, post-harvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason”; this includes losses that occur due to spoilage, plate waste by consumers, food discarded by retailers for not meeting color/appearance standards, and even the natural losses from cooking (think of the food on the sides of the pot or mixing bowl) [2]
  • The top three food groups in terms of food loss at the retail and consumer level are dairy products, vegetables, and grain products [3]

When innovation leads to MORE food waste

The consumer has a louder voice now than during any time in history. Thanks to factors such as (but not limited to) social media, food bloggers, food trucks, and the uptick in online supplement sales, consumers have more choices, and more power. With this power, one fad or concern becomes a business mandate faster than you can say, “General Mills Gluten Free Cheerios”. Not all of the consumer-driven formulation changes are bad or scientifically-unfounded, but every re-formulation brings consequences.

Case-in-Point: Nestle and Hershey move toward simpler ingredients (and shorter shelf life)

Hershey Co and Nestle USA have announced plans to transition to ingredients that are easier to understand, according to Food Business News. While this plays into one of the trends that vexes me most, the “Don’t eat it if you can’t pronounce it” trend, I respect both companies for trying to make their confections better. Like many consumers , I try to limit the amount of artificial ingredients I put in my body. HOWEVER, like many food scientists, I’ve struggled with the challenge of developing an “artificial-ingredient free” product that lasts long enough to make it through the supply-chain to the consumer. Unlike chocolate candy bars, my product does not fly off the shelves [Read: Why Greenberry Shakeology is like Neville Longbottom].

By the time the consumer has received his or her order, half of the product’s one-year shelf life is gone. Since we only use natural flavors, there are times the flavor itself is half-way through its own one-year shelf-life before it’s even arrived at our manufacturing plant (though some flavor houses are over-cautious with their shelf-life claims). As a result, by committing to non-artificial ingredients and by relying on vitamins and salt alone to preserve our finished product, we run the risk that the consumer returns or tosses the product because it’s past at its optimal taste window. Of course, we evaluate this risk carefully through shelf-life and stability studies (as detailed here), but even due-diligence can’t completely remove all risk.

With their promises to remove artificial flavors and colors, Nestle USA and Hershey are going to face these same hurdles. In fact the challenges they face with their non-artificial commitments may be even worse since chocolate is so sensitive to temperature abuse during shipping and handling. The average consumer sees the white spots of chocolate bloom as mold, and won’t think twice before tossing the product. With other food companies making similar simple-ingredient pledges, I worry about the effects of these reformulations on the food waste dilemma.


When innovation leads to LESS food waste

Three areas of Food Waste Reduction innovation are (1) reducing waste before it occurs, (2) recovering food that would become waste, and (3) recycling/re-purposing food waste.

The first and second approaches seem the most feasible, as demonstrated by Buzzfeed’s article, “34 Ways to Waste Less Food”. Additionally, apps like StillTasty and FoodKeeper aim to provide guidance on when a food is past the point of being edible, and help consumers use food strategically before it spoils.  Yet perhaps the greatest opportunities lie with approach number three: with the increasing focus on “clean label friendly” ingredients, food science research is exploring ways to re-purpose food waste.

Case-in-Point: A new destiny for mango seeds

Mango seeds are a by-product of mango harvesting, and are generally considered agroindustrial waste. However, mango seeds are a potential replacement for cocoa butter, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (and translated into plain English in Confectionery News). This replacement offers several benefits. First of all, cocoa butter is used in both chocolate and pharmaceutical applications, but it’s expensive. Mango seeds are an inexpensive source since they’re normally discarded. Finally, mango butter and cocoa butter have similar fatty acid profiles, and have comparable properties in an emulsion gel form, according to this study. (Plus, every one can pronounce “mango butter”!)


There is nothing wrong with striving to limit consumption of artificial ingredients, and it’s encouraging when  food companies pay attention to their consumers’ interests and appetites. But there are consequences to every action, and as a food scientist I would like to see more food companies approaching this issue with honesty, not chemophobia. I would like to see food companies stand up and say, “We hear you, but in this case we can’t stop using ingredient X because…”

Embrace the science.


– – – Green-Eyed Guide

References Cited:

[1] NRDC. 2012. Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill. Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper, IP:12-06-B. (READ THE WHOLE PAPER FOR FREE)

[2] Golan, E., Buzby, J.C. 2015. Innovating to Meet the Challenges of Food Waste. Food Technology 69(1) January: 20-25.

[3] Buzby, J.C., Wells, H.F. and Hyman, J. 2014. The estimated amount, value, and calories of postharvest food losses at the retail and consumer levels in the United States. EIB-121, Feb. Economic Research Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Additional Resources and Recommended Reading:

Food Waste – A Story of Excess (YouTube – Visually)

There’s A New App That Wants To Fix America’s Food Waste Problem (Buzzfeed) 

FoodKeeper App Watch-outs: USDA FoodKeeper app intended to fight food waste, but it may just cause confusion



Energy Drink of the Month — April 2015

It’s not even fair to call this an energy drink, because it’s the purest, simplest, cleanest energy drink possible. It’s not fair because all the worry and legislation over the dangers of energy drinks can’t possibly apply to a product like this. This really shouldn’t be called an energy drink , and yet, this “energy drink in disguise” is exactly that.

With a nod to Earth Day (and the growing concern regarding California’s water crisis), the Energy Drink of the Month is flavored, caffeinated water by Avitae.

Avitae Caffeinated Flavored water

Tangy tangerine is my favorite.

Pronounced “ah-vee-tay”, Avitae’s line of caffeinated waters is perfect for consumers who want their caffeine without added sugars or artificial colors/flavors.

Last year, Avitae’s President and CEO was gracious enough to answer some quality and food science questions I had about the non-flavored products (read that Q&A here). This year, Mr Norman Snyder was gracious enough to again grant me an interview to discuss the new flavors.

5 MORE Questions with Norman E. Snyder, President & CEO of Avitae USA, LLC

GEG-1: Last time we talked, you said that the plan was to introduce new flavors before looking at a carbonated product. Can tell me what inspired the new flavors? How did you determine which flavors to pursue, and were there any that were close but didn’t make the cut?  

NS: The inspiration came directly from consumers.  We do many sampling events at retail locations, festivals and other events that we believe attract our consumers.  The first comment made by the majority was “it does taste like water.”  The second comment/question was “do you have flavors?”  It was pretty easy from that point.  We did research on flavors that are currently popular and tasted several.  We initially narrowed the field down to six that we thought were great recognizing that we could only introduce three or four.  We selected the four best internally then conducted third party taste panels.  Ironically the four that we selected were also selected by the taste panels.  The two that did not make the cut maybe used in future products.

GEG-2: How long did it take to bring these new flavors from concept to market, and what was the biggest challenge?  

NS: Approximately six months.  The biggest challenge was, as perfectionists, getting exactly what we wanted.  That usually requires  several iterations as we were not willing to compromise on any point.

[GEG Note – Avitae has several part-time employees but only 16 full-time employees, so launching four new flavors in six months is pretty impressive, in my opinion]

GEG-3: The unflavored Avitae comes in three caffeine amounts: Energy Kick – 45mg, Energy Boost – 90mg, and Energy Blast – 125mg. I love this variability because there’s something for those more sensitive to caffeine, and something for those who need something a little stronger. How was it determined how much caffeine the new flavored versions should contain?  

NS: We are basically going after three consumptions occasions/products:  diet soda, coffee and energy drinks.  Each different strength is targeted at the people that use those products.  As 90 mg is presently the best selling product, we believed that strength to be the best choice.  Again, we listened to our consumers.

GEG-4: As Avitae’s President and CEO, what are you most proud of and what keeps you up at night?  

NS: I am most proud of our overall corporate philosophy and product positioning, in that we provide the healthiest solution for people that want a boost but also seek an alternative to the artificial, high sugar, and otherwise less than healthy products that exist today.  Many things keep me up at night but right now it is keeping up with demand of our products and growth.

GEG-5: What is Avitae’s next big hurdle/goal?  

NS: Expansion.  We are moving into several new markets and adding additional production facilities.  I admit, it is a great problem to have to face.  We are also considering several new products.

[GEG Note – to find the nearest location selling Avitae, try their store locator: ]

Huge thanks to Mr. Snyder and the whole Avitae team — keep up the good work!

Learn more about Avitae!

Bottom Line and Points to Remember

Great for those seeking a simple delivery of caffeine that’s portable, resealable, and not as likely to go flat in a hot car, Avitae’s line of caffeinated waters are healthy and effective alternatives to the typical energy drink.

Remember, according to the 5 Levels of Fatigue, Level 1 is dehydration. To limit caffeine dependency and overuse, make sure to try plain water before relying on caffeine to perk you up. Healthy adults should not exceed 400 mg caffeine per day but minors, pregnant/nursing women and those sensitive to caffeine all have different recommendations for caffeine intake maximums. [See caffeine intake guidelines in previous post]

Read more about the 5 Levels of Fatigue and learn how Biological Sensitivity and Consumption Specifics impact the effects of caffeine – Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely (available through iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and more)

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