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This week in food choices – Mar 13 2011 – Lent and feeding the world

Lent started this week, and a number of articles discussed ways to avoid meat on Fridays and to come up with ethical alternatives.  As the world’s population continues to increase and food prices go up, there were some discussions on how to feed more people – will this affect food choices? A new tomato allergen was discussed, California may ban shark’s fins (which many people already won’t eat for cultural or ethical reasons), hospitals are trying to improve their food, and the beef industry is fighting back against meatless trends.

Lent – Seafood and veganism

Lenten season at quick-service restaurants Mar-9-11 QSRWeb
Quick-service restaurants are ramping up their seafood promotions in an effort to reel in faithful customers during the Lenten season, which runs through April 23. This is the busiest time of the year for seafood consumption in the U.S.

Creative meatless dishes for Lent Mar-9-11 Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass), reported in ProChef SmartBrief
Meatless Fridays are a good time to taste creative fish, pasta and vegetarian dishes

Sustainable seafood for lent Mar-9-11 Slash/Food
Sustainability measures include carbon “fish-print,” local foods, line-caught, and non-standard fish.

Going vegan for lent Mar-11-11 New York Times – Tara Parker-Pope
This week marks the beginning of Lent, when many of us choose to abstain from meat or dairy products — making this the perfect time to try new vegan dishes.

Meeting the world’s food needs

Organic-ish agriculture and sustainability Mar-8-11 New York Times – Mark Bittman
Increasing numbers of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic — perhaps best called “sustainable” — can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm.

Small-scale farming to double the world’s food production Mar-8-11 Slash/Food
A U.N. study suggests that small-scale farmers can double food production in 10-years by using simple farming methods.

Allergies and intolerances – testing, tomatoes, dairy-free, and gluten-free

Learning about your allergies Mar-10-11 Drug Store News, reported in FMI dailyLead
This weekend, Sam’s Club is offering free allergy health screenings in select locations across the country. As well as environmental allergies, the following food allergies will be tested for:  milk, egg whites and wheat. Additionally, all participants will receive MyAllergyPlan, a personalized plan that will provide educational information on the offending allergens, as well as consumer care organizations that relate to specific allergies.

Study identifies new tomato allergen Mar-9-11 Food Navigator-USA
A previously unknown allergen found in the peel of tomatoes has been identified by a team of Spanish researchers.

Sugar-free and dairy-free chocolate Mar-9-11 FoodBusinessNews
Barry Callebaut North America now produces a no-added-sugar chocolate with stevia extracts. The company also now offers 100% dairy-free chocolate that offers the same color and taste of milk chocolate, according to the company.

Gluten-free still hot – products and education Mar-7-11 New Hope 360
Expo West has a lot of GF products and educational sessions.

Gluten-free pizza offered by more pizza companies Mar-7-11 Pizza Marketplace
Several pizza companies have tapped into the gluten-free market, including Uno Chicago Grill, Mellow Mushroom, Naked Pizza and Garlic Jim’s, offering alternative options for those who suffer from celiac disease and diet subscribers alike.

Reducing calories, fat, sodium

Big Mac on a diet in Australia Mar-7-11 QSRWeb
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, McDonald’s is considering a light version of the Big Mac. For example, a Big Mac Light could include a low-fat sauce and maybe a whole grain bun.

Low-calorie cocktails Mar-10-11 Yahoo! Finance
The Cheesecake Factory has taken its five most popular cocktails, and developed five new recipes using a proprietary blend of both sugar substitute and natural sweeteners that make new Skinny-Style Cocktails taste as good as their originals, with about half the calories.

All generations consuming too much sodium Mar-8-11 NDP
Seniors, born before 1946, and older Boomers, born 1946-1955, are on average consuming 2912mg and 3199 mg of sodium daily, respectively. Younger Boomers, born 1956-1964, consume 3280 mg of sodium daily. Millennials, adults primarily in their 20s, consume on average 3485mg of sodium per day. The USDA suggests a daily sodium intake of 2300 milligrams for the average person, and 1500 milligrams for ages 50+.

EC Set to Allow ‘No Salt’ Claims Mar-7-11 Prepared Foods Network
Under the new proposals products would be exempt provided they did not naturally exceed 0.12g per 100g or 100ml.

Other – Shark’s fins, hospital food, cancer, and more

California may ban shark’s fins Mar-5-11 New York Times
The bill seeks to curtail shark finning, a brutal, bloody practice of the global trade in which the fins are typically hacked off a live shark, leaving it to die slowly as it sinks to the bottom of the sea.

Sugars (including honey and brown sugar) and nutrition Mar-5-11 Detroit Free Press, reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists
Experts say all sugars, including honey and brown sugar, add calories without nutrition.

Highest rates of diabetics in the USA in 15 mostly southern states Mar-7-11 WebMD
The CDC says the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. are in a “diabetes belt” in 15 mostly Southern states. Nearly a third of the difference in diabetes prevalence between the diabetes belt and the rest of the U.S. is associated with sedentary lifestyles and obesity.

Eating disorders in teens are common Mar-7-11 WebMD
For lifetime prevalence, the researchers found: For anorexia, about 0.3% of the teens were affected (55,000). For bulimia, about 0.9% (170,000). For binge eating, about 1.6% (300,000). 12-month prevalences were lower: 0.2% of teens affected with anorexia, 0.6% for bulimia and 0.9% for binge eating. About 3.3% of the teens had ”subthreshold” anorexia or binge eating.

Beef industry fights back against meatless trends Mar-7-11 Wall Street Journal
Their goal: convince skeptical consumers that the shrink-wrapped sirloin tips in the supermarket aren’t artery-clogging commodities mass-produced on factory farms, but wholesome meals turned out with great care by hard-working families.

Nutritional labeling for alcoholic drinks Mar-8-11 Slash/Food
Current labeling regulations are complex. Wine, beer and liquor producers are not required to list actual ingredients on the label, but must list items like sulfites or FD&C Yellow No. 5 for consumers who are sensitive. Whether or not nutritional information like calories, carbohydrates and serving size should be added to labels is up for discussion.

Hospitals try cooking up better food for patients Mar-10-11 SunHerald (Biloxi-Gulfport and South Mississippi), reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists
A growing number hospitals are crafting meals that resemble restaurant fare or are stressing local and organic ingredients. Or both. And they are recognizing the challenges of serving people with severe dietary restrictions.

Reduced pesticides in greenhouse-grown foods Mar-10-11 The Packer
A lot of growth in demand has to do with consumers’ increasing need to know the origin of their food, and knowledge that their vegetables are grown in a controlled environment where pesticide use is low and food safety standards are high.

Cancer prevention through diet Mar-10-11 NutraIngredients
The National Cancer Institute’s Nutritional Science Research Group has issued a Request for Information to help plan human studies designed to reveal the relationship between genotype and diet-related cancer prevention.

Recycled packaging withdrawn Mar-11-11 Food and Drink Digital
Kellogg’s has plans to eliminate cereal boxes made from recycled cardboard after scientists found old ink in the packaging is linked to cancer.

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