UC Food Blog
California leads the food revolution
Trendy food concepts like fusion cooking, farm-to-table, foraged menus, open kitchens and female chefs in leadership all began in California, says the KCET Food Rant. To find out why the Golden State is setting food trends, the reporter turned to Joyce Goldstein, author of "Inside the California Food Revolution." She attributes it to adventurous chefs, farmers and ranchers; open-minded diners; a long growing season; and available restaurant financing. KCET.org
Food prices defy computer models
A UC Davis study predicted small drought-related food price increases, but one newspaper food editor asks her readers whether they believe the report or their own grocery bills. Elaine Corn's research and sources revealed a 10 percent increase in the cost of food eaten at home over the past four years. "Even Hershey's is raising the price of all its chocolate bars." Sacramento Bee
Fast food giants take a cue from healthy chains
Well-off moms and Millennials are demanding healthy and sustainable food that's convenient, prompting entrepreneurs to launch trendy chains that offer grass-fed beef, salads with local vegetables, kale-banana smoothies and the like, reported the New York Times. Ever keen to stay competitive, mainstream chains are beginning to change their practices. ChikFil-A is phasing out meat raised with antibiotics and McDonald's is revisiting its beef procurement practices. The New York Times
FDA considering more detailed sugar labeling on food products
The FDA is reviewing public comments on a proposed new law that would require food manufacturers to list separately on labels "added sugar" and sugar that occurs naturally in ingredients like fruit. Campbell Soup Co. is indignant. "Sugar is sugar, regardless of the source," the company wrote in a letter to FDA. Health advocates say added sugar is different. Reuters
Ben & Jerry's supports GMO labeling
Ben & Jerry's support for GMO labeling is contrary to most major food companies, including its own corporate parent Unilever, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. Unilever's stance makes it “look stupid,” the magazine quoted Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics. Bloomberg Businessweek
Brown-bag lunches are nutrient deficient
A Tufts University study found that lunches brought from home by school children rarely meet standards set by the government for school lunch nutrition. "Most of the foods we saw were pre-packaged salty snack foods and sugary desserts - we saw much less fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy," an author told Reuters Health. Reuters
The face of hunger in America
Sunken eyes and hollow cheeks may have indicated food insecurity in the past, but in America today, the hungry are more likely to be overweight, reported National Geographic. "Hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin," said an executive at the Center for American Progress. For the nation's poor, macaroni-and-cheese mixes and other processed food bank giveaways are regular fare; fresh fruits and vegetables are eaten only in the first days after the SNAP payment arrives. National Geographic
California won't suffer from Russia's food import ban
UC's Dan Sumner said the No. 1 California export to Russia is almonds, and only 3 percent of the crop goes to that nation, reported KPCC's The Breakdown. "It's important to some exporters, but it's not a big deal," he said. Russia banned imports of all beef, pork, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from the E.U., the U.S., Canada, Australia and Norway in reprisal for trade sanctions imposed on Russia due to its involvement in Ukraine. "Russia misunderstands trade," wrote Forbes columnist Tim Worstall. "It's actually Russia that benefits from such imports." The Breakdown | New York Times | Forbes
Future food could be "printed" in a warzone
The Army is developing 3D printing technology that will allow soldiers to print food on demand and tailor it to their individual tastes and nutrition needs, reported Motherboard.com. "You would like a sandwich, where I would like ravioli. You would print what you want and eliminate wasted food," said an Army food technologist. 3D-printed food would be produced using ultrasonic agglomeration, which binds particles together by shooting ultrasonic waves at them. Motherboard
Inglorious fruits and vegetables
A French supermarket is reducing food waste by purchasing cosmetic culls, declaring them "inglorious fruits and vegetables" and selling them to customers at a 30 percent discount. The program was an immediate success and stirred a national conversation about food waste. ABC Australia
A compilation of news from the World Wide Web relevant to the UC Global Food Initiative, which aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.
Family nutrition educators from University of California CalFresh [UC CalFresh] and Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program [EFNEP], two federally funded nutrition education programs that provide free nutrition workshops to low-income families, have joined together to practice the lessons they teach to their participants in San Joaquin County, including exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.
“I wanted to exercise more regularly,” UC CalFresh nutrition educator Lorena Hoyos said. “But doing it alone wasn't working, so when the idea of working out as a group came about at training, it was the perfect opportunity. Exercising with others is a great motivator, they keep you active.”
Using home-brought exercise videos like T-25, The Firm, Hip Hop Abs and others, the nutrition staff have been sweating to the beat.
“I noticed that my endurance has gone up,” EFNEP nutrition educator Houa Lee said. “I have more confidence at work and in conducting the physical activity breaks at my classes.”
Prior to the videos, the nutrition staff, along with other San Joaquin County UC Cooperative Extension employees, were doing activities like walking around the block or going to the gym together after work. Some educators even participated in weekend races or rides, such as the Color Run, Hit the Street for Hunger Run, The Electric Run, Cinderella Bike Ride and others.
“I think it's important to show participants that we are not just preaching the goals, but living them,” said Raquel Fernandez, a program representative for the UC CalFresh and EFNEP programs. “This makes them seem a lot more attainable and helps us relate better to our participants. It also helps establish trust and credibility to our lessons.”
Participants have been asking for more physical activity,” EFNEP nutrition educator Monica Radrigan said. “It's the main reason they come and they love it! And as a result, we've noticed retention has been increasing too.”
The exercise sessions have also improved team-building efforts.
“I like to be able to come into workplace where we can support each other,” Community Nutrition Action Plan facilitator Tina Her said. “Not only in a work setting, but on a personal basis as well. This helps me connect with my coworkers better.”
UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Anna Martin said after-work exercise program is a win-win situation.
“I am proud that our staff has initiated activities that not only promote their own physical health, but improves their relationship as a team," Martin said.
Researchers investigated the growing and often confusing list of supplements added to the drinks. In most cases, they found, the beverages provide little or no health benefits, and might be dangerous.
"Despite the positive connotation surrounding energy and sports drinks, these products are essentially sodas without the carbonation," said Patricia Crawford, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at UC Berkeley.
The study looked at 21 popular drinks touted by manufacturers as "health and performance enhancing." In addition to sugar, caffeine, non-caloric sweeteners, sodium, vitamins and minerals, some drinks included the supplements guarana, ginseng, taurine, gingko biloba and ginger extract. Of the five herbal supplements, only ginger extract is classified as "likely safe" for children, Crawford said.
Because they contain caffeine, marketers promote the beverages as improving energy, concentration, endurance and performance. The study, however, documented harmful effects, such as increasing stress, nervousness, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, tremors, hallucinations and seizures.
"(Drink manufacturers') health marketing claims are the 21st Century equivalent of selling snake oil," said Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which commissioned the study.
The full report is at http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/healthhalo.html.
Editor's note: Today we launch a “Weekly food dispatch” in the UC Food Blog. It will appear every Friday. The dispatch is a compilation of news from the World Wide Web relevant to the UC Global Food Initiative. To suggest stories for next week, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kashkari points out that poverty persists
California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari posed as an out-of-work homeless man in Fresno last month to demonstrate that California's economic recovery hasn't reached everyone in the state. "It's been a week and I've found nothing. I've run out of money and had to turn to the homeless shelter for food," Kashkari said in a 10-minute video about his experience that is posted on his website. Fresno Bee
Botulism fear prompts food recall
Two cases of botulism infection may be tied to a California company's gourmet pine nut basil pesto, reported the state Department of Public Health. As a result, the manufacturer, VR Green Farms of San Clemente, is voluntarily recalling the pesto and other products packaged in Mason-style glass jars with screw-on metal lids, including Pickled Farm Mix, Old World Tomato Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Tuscan Grilling Sauce and Pasta Sauce. CDPH Press Release | Orange County Register
Karen Ross on trade mission in Mexico City
California agriculture secretary Karen Ross was in Mexico City this week as part of Gov. Brown's trade mission south of the border. The delegation included organizations representing California organic products, pistachios, tree fruit, wine and raisins, plus private farming and food companies interested in expanding trade and learning more about Mexico's market dynamics. Planting Seeds Blog
Cheap food is calories, not nutrition
New York Times columnist Mark Bittman sat down with the host of Vox.com Ezra Klein to talk about American food habits. In the U.S., food is cheap, Klein said. “The scary thing about that is we get clobbered on other costs,” Bittman said. “We have higher rates of obesity; we have higher rates of diabetes than any other country too.” Bittman said you can spend very little money on food, but you are buying calories, not nutrition. Vox.com
U.S. Senators decry FDA's food animal antibiotic policy
Three Democratic U.S. Senators, including Dianne Feinstein of California, sent a letter to the FDA commissioner that said the FDA's voluntary guidelines on antibiotic use in food animals “do not go far enough.” The guidelines, they said, “may not be sufficient to effectively curtail the routine use of dangerous low doses of antibiotics for the duration of an animal's life.” An op-ed in the New York Times called the policy “a blatant failure on food.” Wall Street Journal | New York Times
Americans are cutting back on soda
Americans have become increasingly wary of drinking soda in the last 12 years. In 2002, 41 percent said they actively tried to avoid soda. In a poll taken in July, 63 percent said they tried to avoid soda. A poll last year showed that caloric soda consumption is most popular among the young, people of color and those with a low income. Gallup.
Peanut industry seeks to start marker-assisted breeding
The peanut industry funded a five-year project to sequence the domestic peanut and many of its wild ancestors. Scientists will determine which genes confer desirable traits – such as disease resistance and higher yield – and then begin breeding peanuts assisted by genetic markers. As a result, the typical 15 years needed to breed new peanut varieties will be cut down to seven. Southwest Farm Press
Business model created for sustainable farming of edible insects
Mohammed Ashour and four fellow MBA students at McGill University believe palm weevils could cure world hunger. Insects have similar levels of protein as beef and higher levels of iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorous and several amino acids. The grad students developed a low-cost farming model that permits year-round insect farming in countries where insects are part of the food culture, but residents lack access to sufficient nutritious food. CNN.com
Australian farmer breeds mango with coconut flavor
Farmer Leo Skliros of Berry Springs, Australia, stumbled on coconut flavor notes in mango by chance. By crossbreeding, he developed a new cultivar he named “malibu.” The experiment was aimed to create a better tasting mango and a more practical variety for farmers. Mysteriously, ABC Rural reported he picked the name “malibu” because of the fruit's “coconuty” flavor, but Malibu is a beach in California where coconuts don't grow. ABC Rural
The University of California Global Food Initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.
The 2nd annual 4-H Cooking Throwdown at the California State Fair took place June 22 and 24. Youth ages 9 to 18 had one hour to create a three-course meal with each course containing the designated "secret ingredient." The theme was "Fair Food Done Healthy."
All of the dishes were judged on originality, taste and the USDA's MyPlate standards. Healthy living is a major component of the 4-H Youth Development Program and this contest was introduced to help teach youth to cook and learn portion sizes.
On June 22, three junior teams composed of 9- to 13-year-olds competed. In Round 1, the secret ingredient was a hot dog. The Fat and Furious Team made a mini corn dog, a "speedy" Italian sandwich and a funnel cake with homemade whip cream and candied hot dog. The Blond, Brunette and Ginger Team made hot dog nachos, seafood stir fry and cinnamon chips with fresh creme and strawberries. The fresh cream was infused with hot dog. The food was very original and very tasty. The Fat and Furious won the round.
Round 2 secret ingredient: zucchini
The Cuisine Queens Team made a berry zucchini crepe, chicken salad, and a berry zucchini smoothie.
In the final junior round the secret ingredient was watermelon. Fat and Furious Team made a watermelon mint goat cheese appetizer, a wasabi bread crumb pork chop with a watermelon reduction sauce and fried watermelon for dessert. The Cuisine Queens made a fruit salad, fruit and beef kabobs, and a baked funnel cake for dessert.
The Fat and Furious team were the junior champions.
July 24 was the senior competition of the State Fair 4-H Cooking Throwdown. Six teams competed for the champion title. The youth were between 14 and 18 years old.
The Cookin' Coyotes vs. The Culinary Ninjas
Secret ingredient: berries.
The Culinary Ninjas focused on the health aspect of the competition. They cooked a chorizo caramel apple appetizer, egg roll in a bowl as the main course and a mini churro for dessert. The Cookin' Coyotes made guacamole and chips for the appetizer, fish tacos with a fruit salad for the main course and a baked funnel cake with berry infused fresh cream. The Culinary Ninjas won the round.
Lamorinda Iron Chefs vs. Organic Fanatics vs. Clever Clover
Secret ingredient: broccoli
The Organic Fanatics made a sweet and tangy yogurt sauce for a kabob appetizer, a veggie stuffed burger on a lettuce bun, and a baked funnel cake. They focused on creating a healthy, well-balanced meal.
The Clever Clovers made baked potato chips, chicken and broccoli kabobs, and a dessert smoothie.
The Lamorinda Iron Chefs made zucchini and broccoli backed chips, a gyro with a broccoli sauce, and a chocolate, broccoli and avocado mousse. They focused on a tasty balanced meal.
The Lamorinda Iron Chefs won the round with the Organic Fanatics in 2nd and the Clever Clover earning 3rd place.
Lamorinda Iron Chefs vs. Culinary Ninjas
Secret ingredient: dried seaweed
The Lamorinda Iron Chefs made a seven-layer bean, salsa, seaweed, guacamole chip, chicken on a stick with a apple and onion slaw, and for a dessert a baked funnel cake with seaweed flakes in the batter and topped off with seaweed and strawberries.
The Culinary Ninjas made a zucchini chip with seaweed hummus, a baked vegetable and seaweed pizza and a berry mouse pretzel cookie.
Lamorinda Iron Chefs were the senior champions of the day. They are eligible to represent California at the Texas State Fair in the National 4-H Cooking Challenge. The contest will be held during the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, October 7 and 8, 2014. The National Food Challenge will not only include a contest, but an educational day as well. More information can be found here: http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/nfchallenge/table>