Studies show vitamins aren’t so reliable

Vitamins are an essential part of disease prevention and overall health for the human body. And while, the most sure and adequate way to get our vitamins is in the foods when eat, millions of people choose to take supplemental vitamins to make sure their getting what they need. Although consumers don’t seem to want to give up their supplements, many scientific studies keep producing evidence that they are not a reliable source. Here are some studies that have discounted the benefits of supplements. Most recently, a large clinical trial of almost 15,000 male doctors taking vitamins E and C for a decade. The study showed no meaningful effect on cancer rates. And another recent study found no benefit of vitamins E and C for heart disease. A Johns Hopkins School of Medicine review of 19 vitamin E clinical trials of more than 135,000 people showed high doses of vitamin E (greater than 400 IUs) increased a person’s risk for dying during the study period by 4 percent. Taking vitamin E with other vitamins and minerals resulted in a 6 percent higher risk of dying. A later study of daily vitamin E showed vitamin E takers had a 13 percent higher risk for heart failure.

Dec 01, 2008 Read More

Is it time to rethink trade promotion strategies?

There’s one ‘forever’ element of shopping that’s been left out of today’s dire spending forecasts, and it is one that continues to give CPG and retailers quiet hope going forward: the absolute pleasure of an unexpected find on a store visit. That find might be a compelling value, solution or innovation that triggers a purchase. It’s the shoppers’ reward for vigilance in the aisles. As time- and money-crunched as people are today, it would be a grave error if stores and manufacturers became less attentive to in-store displays to try to save labor or merchandising expense, or act on their fears that shoppers would wheel past them in search of essentials anyway.

Dec 01, 2008 Read More

Farmers’ Fields of Gold Tarnish

For much of the past two years, America’s farmers were basking in their fields of gold. Prices of wheat, corn and other commodities were kept aloft by an oil price panic which set off harvesting strategies to produce ethanol instead of food products. But prices that reached $12 a bushel for wheat, for example, were unsustainable. Farmers who didn’t sell their crops early got whipsawed once it became clear that food price inflation was headed to the sky, and oil prices were about to fall from their peak of $147 per barrel. Those fields of gold grew muddied and tarnished. Instead of tending their crops to a Sting melody, our nation’s growers were stung. They still feel the economic pain today of market forces they have historically been poor at forecasting. Wheat, for example, is back to $5 a bushel—that’s $1 less than it costs in fuel, seed and fertilizer to plant the crop (land rents excluded), according to a New York Times report. Corn sold for more than $7 a bushel, but is now closer to $3. The land investors who were populous at the peak have gone home now.

Nov 30, 2008 Read More

Thanksgiving in Moderation

Here's to a Happy, Healthy and Delicious Thanksgiving! The holiday doesn't have to be one of those gatherings where you feel (and look) ashamed afterwards. Neither is it something you "survive." This Thanksgiving, we'll equip you with basic caloric information on some holiday favorites and healthy eating tips. It's up to you to choose and portion it out smartly so that you don't end up looking at your belt notch in shame. Remember, Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion and that one overindulgent meal won't be the one that makes you gain ... it is the many large meals in a row that will do you in. Here are some tips to help:

Nov 26, 2008 Read More

The Black Friday race is on

Fueled by their Thanksgiving feasts, shoppers will be setting their alarm clocks early for one more annual ritual: shopping before daybreak to score some of the hottest deals of the holiday season. This year their resourcefulness on Black Friday could well determine the ultimate length of their gift lists. It’s a toss-up who needs this day more: retailers starved for sales in this dire economic period, or shoppers desperate for savings. Fleet feet and sharp elbows will carry the day on the selling floor. Speed aside, the most successful shoppers will likely be those who plan well. One kind of tool, which retailers generally don’t like much, are websites that disclose their circular specials for Black Friday days or weeks in advance, with varying degrees of accuracy.

Nov 26, 2008 Read More

Natural and local food choices gain ground on organics

America’s consumers who’d been flocking to organics—witness their product penetration in most supermarket aisles—suddenly wondered this year whether their food-buying decisions were harming the food system. Were their organic fruits from Chile burning up jet fuel unnecessarily? Could conventionally grown produce from their own states compare well by taste and nutrients? Would people be better off trusting cows or chemists to produce their food, to borrow a phrase from Columbia University nutrition professor Joan Dye Gussow? Even better if those cows were close by. This shift of consciousness to locally grown and natural foods was already underway when a 2007 Time magazine article, Eating Better Than Organic, helped move people to reach a similar conclusion. One only has to look at the results of Whole Foods to see how quickly times have changed. The bellwether of the organic movement has suffered from the convergence of three trends: less household spending on organics in tough times, widespread consumer consideration of less expensive healthful alternatives, and high economic barriers for farmers to become and remain organic.

Nov 25, 2008 Read More

Growing Vegetables and Fruit - A Beginner's Guide

Over the next few weeks I hope to be able to enthuse you into getting started on growing some of your own vegetables and salads next summer...

Nov 24, 2008 Read More

This Thanksgiving: Cranberry Cocktails

Cranberries are making an appearance this year at the bar as well as on the Thanksgiving table, next to the turkey…

Nov 24, 2008 Read More

Sustainability Series: Ukrop's

Since its founding as a small, family-run market in 1937, Ukrop’s Super Markets, Inc. has grown to include 28 retail food stores throughout Central Virginia. Ukrop’s began to bale and recycle its paper and cardboard long before “going green” was a trendy corporate concept – more than 35 years ago. Today, through their community outreach efforts, Ukrop’s customers are now recycling more than 55,000 mesh and paper bags weekly. We talked to President and CEO Bobby Ukrop about the large impact a small company can have on the environment. How does your business define sustainability? We don’t really have a company definition, per se. We think about how we can be helpful. We’re a smaller company, so are able to listen to our customers more intimately. We look around for both the big and small things we can do. If we see things that we can recycle or reuse, we do that. If there are bigger tasks we can tackle, we do that too. We also understand the important connection between customers and their supermarket. When people go to the market, they can learn about a variety of new things, including sustainability. They can pick up good habits from the store and apply those habits to their daily lives. It is through this connection that we can have an impact on our neighbors and inspire them to make changes. We are striving to be the kind of market that helps encourage customers to emulate our practices.

Nov 24, 2008 Read More

Raisins can reach for produce-style celebrity

Are raisins about to have another celebratory day in the sun? Two decades after animated dancing raisins raised the fruit’s profile in a fun way, there’s a more serious health bent to today’s marketing efforts that speak to consumers’ concerns. If I Heard It Through The Grapevine was their anthem in 1988, their song today might be track nine, Sweet, Delicious and Marvelous from their eponymous album back then. By going medical in its marketing, the California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) looks to be aiming high—to imbue a packaged dried fruit sold in center-store with the same kind of good-for-you appeals as blueberries and other produce stars. Could the effort translate? As long as other elements line up right, there’s little to prevent raisins from once again capturing the fascination of Americans who remember the earlier campaign with affection. One measure of their past success: the merchandising gross from California Raisins licensed products in the peak year of 1988 reportedly topped what the state’s farmers made selling raisins that year, noted Wikipedia. That’s consumer response!

Nov 24, 2008 Read More

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