Health Tech / December 4, 2012

Guide to Interesting Internet and E-mail Resources

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Detective’s Guide to Interesting Internet and E-mail Resources

SmartBrief for Nutritionists (
What a great resource – you get a daily e-mail that alerts you to the latest food trends, research, recipes and more. The editors don’t create the content. Instead they act as your personal assistant, handpicking useful dietary news and insights from thousands of sources.

Farmers Market Search (
The USDA has a fantastic search engine with more than 4,000 farmers markets.
The site allows you to search anywhere in the country to find the farmers markets in your area. It also lets you search by specifics, such as products (e.g., baked goods, cheese and/or dairy products, fish and/or seafood, fresh fruit, nuts, plants, honeys, jams and preserves, soaps, etc.) and even by payment methods accepted.

Food Environment Atlas (
The USDA Economic Research Service has created and maintains a Food Environment Atlas that currently includes 168 indicators of the food environment around the country. Some of the variables include store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and assistance programs and community characteristics.

BBC Online Food Glossary (
The BBC has a pretty nice food site that includes definitions for many ingredients and food-preparation terms ­ from acidulated water (“Water that has been made slightly acidic by the addition of an acid substance such as lemon juice”) to zest (“The term used to describe the grated outer rind of citrus fruit containing aromatic essential oils.”). The ingredients guide also offers plenty of recipes from BBC food shows.

The Food Lover’s Companion: Epicurious Food Dictionary ( has most of the content of the famous book The Food Lover’s Companion.
The database of more than 4,000 food terms is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in food.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Reports by Single Nutrients (
Although the name is complicated, this directory contains reports on selected food items and nutrients. The interesting thing about these reports is that they sort the foods in descending order by nutrient content. So, for instance, if you wanted to know which food has the highest level of fat (i.e., Pie crust, standard-type, prepared from recipe, baked, 62.28g per serving), which food has the most total sugar (i.e., Milk, canned, condensed, sweetened, 166.46g per serving) or which food has the most fiber (i.e., Barley, pearled, raw 31.2g per serving), you can find it here. Note: When you get to the website page, click on the “W” to sort by nutrient content. An Adobe Acrobat PDF of the report will open up.

The “Bad Bug Book” ( )
If you want to learn about possible foodborne diseases, this is the resource for you.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (
The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce helps you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are, therefore, the most important ones to buy organic. The guide lists 53 fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads, highlighting the worst offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional produce with its “Clean 15” list.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) National Drinking Water Database (
Do you want to know what’s in your water? You probably should. The EWG has compiled almost 20 million records obtained from state water officials and covering 48,000 communities in 45 states and the District of Columbia. According to EWG, “Throughout the country, we have found 316 chemicals in tap water. … More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount. The federal government does have health guidelines for others, but 49 of these contaminants have been found in one place or another at levels above those guidelines, polluting the tap water for 53.6 million Americans. The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001.”

USDA National Agricultural Library’s Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) News ( )
Get a daily e-mail or RSS feed from news sources on all food- and nutrition-related information from external news sources.

The Merck Manual (
The Merck Manual has approximately 300 expert contributors and is an incredibly reliable resource for medical information. There are several different versions, including the Home Health Handbook for Patients and Caregivers and The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. These tremendous online resources explain various medical disorders, who is likely to get them, their symptoms, how they’re diagnosed, how they might be prevented, and how they can be treated. They also provide information about prognosis.

National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s Herbs at a Glance (
It’s not easy to find helpful and scientifically sound advice on herbs or botanicals. Herbs at a Glance is produced and maintained by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the prestigious National Institutes of Health) and is a series of fact sheets that provide important information about a wide variety of herbs and botanicals, including common names, uses, potential side effects and much more.

County Health Rankings (
How healthy is your county? Check out the County Health Rankings, created and maintained by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The website ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation by looking at a variety of measures that affect health (i.e., the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, access to healthier foods, air pollution levels, income and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births), then compares and contrasts this information to that of other counties.

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