by Amy Reiter in Food News, August 29, 2014
by Alia Akkam in Chefs and Restaurants, Trends, August 28, 2014
In this week’s news: The produce aisle takes a page from the junk food playbook; breakfast proponents get a wake-up call; and new thinking on salt shakes things up.
Hey, Kids: Do Try This At Home
Parents encouraging kids to reach for fruits and vegetables may frequently find their efforts undermined by a barrage of marketing that lures young eaters toward chips, candy, sugared cereals and other less-than-healthy snacks. But some marketers and grocers, including Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle, are now ramping up the appeal of healthier snacks by deploying colorful, kid-centric junk-food-style packaging and signage in the produce aisles. The CEO of Giant Eagle told NPR that when she first heard about the kid-oriented produce-section snack stations, she thought, “This is a win-win.” Apple slice, anyone? Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, August 25, 2014
They used to be the stuff that fueled childhood nightmares: forkfuls of overcooked broccoli or endless orbs of bitter Brussels sprouts that had to be endured in order to tackle, finally, the chocolate ice cream. But today’s renditions of green vegetables don’t require nose-holding or the camouflage of cheese in order to win over legions of fans. From the once-maligned spinach that only Popeye fancied to the leafy kale that went on to wildly successful oversaturation, here’s a passel of formerly shunned vegetables (and a few equally undesirable fruits) that chefs have helped give miraculous makeovers. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, August 22, 2014
You’re feeling hungry and hankering for some comfort food, so you slip into your local diner and scan the menu, looking for healthy options. You know they’re in there, hidden among the burgers and fries, shakes and floats, waffles and three-egg omelets loaded with cheese. A spinach salad? A fresh fruit plate? A low-cal veggie soup, not too heavy on the sodium? The trick is to find them.
by Sally Wadyka in Trends, August 11, 2014
In this week’s news: Cravings could be a gut thing (if not a good thing); the outdated BMI system gets a checkup; and the “all-natural” label is, well, kinda fake.
It’s Not You, It’s Your Microbiome
Don’t blame yourself if you can’t resist that cupcake. Blame your gut bacteria. A new study, published in the journal BioEssays, has found that the bacteria living within us, which are 100 times more numerous than our own cells, may affect the foods we crave as well as our moods. The tiny bacterial overlords, the theory goes, compel us to eat the foods they live best on — perhaps fat or sugar — overriding our healthy eating efforts and propelling us toward obesity. “Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” says study co-author Carlo Maley, PhD. “There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, August 8, 2014
There is certainly no shortage of trendy ways to hydrate yourself on a hot summer day: smoothies, energy drinks, kombucha teas, vitamin-infused waters and, lest we forget, the ubiquitous coconut waters. Not to mention the boring old plain water that comes out of your tap — free. But if you’re thirsty for yet another option, you’re in luck. The latest beverage to show up at the grocery store is maple water.
Not to be confused with sweet, sticky maple syrup, maple water is basically the thin (supposedly not sticky) sap that is tapped directly out of the tree. “It takes 40 gallons of maple water to boil down to one gallon of syrup,” explains Kate Weiler, Co-Founder of Drink Maple. “People think maple water is going to overly sweet but are pleasantly surprised by its refreshing quality.”
by Dana Angelo White in Food News, Gluten-Free, August 5, 2014
In this week’s news: School bake-sale restrictions spark a tempest in a muffin tin; homemade yogurt is whey better than the store-bought kind; and veganism gets a high-profile new cheerleader.
Bake-Sale Ban: Half-Baked?
Ah, the beauty of the school bake sale: Hoovering homemade cookies somehow seems virtuous when the money is going to a good cause. (“It’s all for the kids!”) What to make, then, of reports that federal restrictions aiming to curb childhood obesity have led to a “ban” on treat-peddling school fundraisers? “In dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars,” the Wall Street Journal warned. The Washington Post, however, was quick to point out that the states, not the federal government, will dictate the number of nutritionally questionable bake sales schools can have. Georgia, for instance, will allow 30 bake sales per year per school — which comes to 75,000 cupcake sprees state-wide annually.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, August 2, 2014
One year ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a plan to set guidelines for packaged foods claiming to be free of gluten. The FDA regulations, which are voluntary, take effect today and stipulate that any packaged food labeled “gluten-free” must contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten.
While companies cannot be forced outright to disclose whether a product contains gluten or not, the standard could help establish a uniform definition of “gluten-free” for consumers and also help hold accountable those food manufacturers that promote their products as gluten-free.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, July 26, 2014
In this week’s news: Nouveau fast-food franchises flaunt their healthy sides; coconut water claims get a reality check; rumors of kale’s demise turn out to be greatly exaggerated — and more.
Want That Salad Super-Sized?
Watch out Chipotle, a bevy of smaller fast food chains with a healthy bent may soon be nipping at your heels. Tender Greens, LYFE Kitchen, SweetGreen and Native Foods are all among this new crop of health-conscious regional restaurant franchises luring customers with words like “grass-fed,” “seasonal,’ “sustainable” and “organic.” All are reportedly flourishing, so much so that they’ve already garnered a nickname: “farm-to-counter” eateries. The vegan chain Veggie Grill, for example, hit No. 7 on Restaurant Business magazine’s yearly list of the fastest-growing small chains, while Tender Greens (which took in over $40 million in revenue from only 12 stores) came close behind, at No. 10. Also among those to watch may be LYFE (acronym for Love Your Food Every Day) Kitchen, founded by two former McDonald’s bigwigs. Each restaurant grows herbs, uses china instead of plastic and holds its entrees to a 600 calorie maximum.
by Toby Amidor in Food News, July 23, 2014
In this week’s news: School cafeteria workers have reason to high-five; scientists make milk — minus the cow; and umami is just the beginning of an avalanche of new tastes.
The Spork Set Surprises
Sure, most kids roll their eyes when they hear the phrase “healthy lunch.” (Certain grown-ups, too.) But a funny thing happened on the way to upgrading the nation’s cafeteria meals. Although elementary school students complained when they first tried lunches that met new government standards in 2012, by the end of the school year most actually liked them, according to a just-out survey from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The data, which polled administrators at over 500 primary schools, found that 70 percent agreed strongly that kids liked their new meals (richer in whole grains and produce, and containing less fat). The picture gets even brighter, too. Another study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that children’s intake of fruits and vegetables had gone up since the guidelines were implemented. That said, participation in school lunch programs has dropped 3.7 percent since 2010, a slip that some officials worry has to do with these new standards.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration released details of the proposed nutrition label makeover. Many experts have been weighing in on the new look, trying to determine if the changes will help consumers make better-informed decisions or simply add to widespread confusion about nutrition. Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine published two commentaries from health experts.
Added Sugars, Packaging Buzzwords
The first perspective was written by David A. Kessler, MD, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, author of The End of Overeating and a former FDA commissioner. Kessler believes that the FDA’s proposed changes could help nudge food buyers toward healthier decisions but argues that the new label does not go far enough.