Americans are obsessed with protein. We buy high-protein bars, high-protein cereals, protein-fortified drinks, and eat meat, eggs or dairy at nearly every meal. In fact, we eat more meat per capita (mostly pork, poultry, and beef) than any country in the world, more than 175 pounds per person per year. But why? Read more
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Throughout human history, if you wanted to make a dish taste like strawberry, you had no choice but to add a strawberry. But in the 19th century, scientists began to understand how to synthesize flavor chemicals, whether from plants or from byproducts of coal processing, to evoke familiar flavors. While the technology to evaluate the flavor molecules of a particular food have become increasingly sophisticated in the past century, the basic concept of synthetic flavor has remained unchanged. Until now. In this episode of Gastropod, molecular biologists explain how they’re designing yeasts to ferment the tastes of the future. Read more
The Paleo diet has been promoted as the optimal diet, offering the eater a plethora of benefits including weight loss, disease prevention, and improved health. It is designed to mimic what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate and includes grass-fed meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and some oils. Foods to avoid on the diet include all grains, cereals, dairy, beans, and potatoes, as well as processed foods, sugar, salt, and refined oils. Read more
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported on a new collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and Kraft Foods. According to the article, Kraft Singles will soon begin carrying a nutrition seal that reads “Kids Eat Right” from AND on its packaging. While Kraft told the Times that the Academy had endorsed the product, the Academy “emphatically denied” the endorsement, saying instead that it was using the seal “drive broader visibility to KidsEatRight.org,” a website the organization created to be “a trusted educational resource for consumers.” Read more
In the Bell Hill neighborhood of Worcester, Massachusetts, Ana Rodriguez walks door-to-door, inviting residents to host a backyard garden plot or volunteer in one nearby, and share in a bounty of local produce at the end of the season. But Rodriguez doesn’t work for an urban farming nonprofit; she represents a nearby hospital. Read more
When it comes to changing the food system, Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) might be the most outspoken member of Congress yet. Now in his sixth term, Ryan is the author of Real Food Revolution, Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the American Family Farm. Former President Bill Clinton describes the book as “a straightforward and much-needed prescription to help transform our country’s food systems and improve our well-being.” Read more
When people talk to Anthony Fassio about his new role as CEO at Manhattan’s Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI), he tends to field the same question: “Isn’t that the vegan school?”
A few years back, that might have been closer to the case. Although NGI didn’t traditionally offer a vegan cooking education, but rather one focused on macrobiotic food, which espouses grains, local vegetables, and limited animal products. Read more
Every year farmers plant corn on close to 80 million acres of land throughout the United States. This much-critiqued staple of American agriculture is incredibly resource intensive. To produce 200 bushels, an acre of corn requires 160 pounds of nitrogen and 600,000 gallons of water. And these “inputs,” as they are called, have consequences. Read more
Scan the fine print on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredients—often oils and fats—from separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.
Now, a new study released today in the journal Nature suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, known as “gut microbio.” Read more
Eastern Washington is commodity wheat country; over 2 million acres of the grain grow in the state each year. Although researchers and farmers continue to explore alternative crops, today’s soft white wheat is remarkably easy and cheap to grow in this arid region.
Over a decade ago, however, two small Washington farms began embracing diverse varieties of wheat, growing hulled ancestors including spelt, emmer, and einkorn, collectively called farro. It’s often difficult to create demand for an unfamiliar crop—and these two farms took different, yet equally successful, approaches. Read more