Food News Today transcripts for April 27th, 2011

April 29, 2011

What the SupermarketGuru consumer panel had to say about home gardening, what’s wrong with marketing to the pint-sized consumer & all about alternative grains, for the week of April 25th 2011. This is Food News Today.

Good Morning.  Immediately following Food News Today, we continue with a live discussion in our chat room below. Please sign in and join us. Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news. 

 >Last week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law an ordinance that will expand urban agriculture in the city – (changing the city's planning code) to allow for the sale and pickup of fresh food grown on-site.  To which urban gardeners who have wished to sell their goods rejoice!  San Francisco may be the first city to dissolve agricultural zoning codes, which previously restricted home growers and somewhat larger operations to sell their goods to local restaurants and markets if not “in the zone” – but zoning restrictions haven’t stopped home growers to put up gardens across the country.  We turned to the SupermarketGuru consumer panel to find out about home gardening practices.

79% said they grow vegetables and 78% said they grow herbs at home. And 39% grow fruit.

Why is gardening important to American shoppers these days? Could it be the increased focus on sustainability and protecting our environment? Are consumers more concerned about pesticides or the nutritional value of their foods? Is the recession leaving some families, particularly those in food deserts, with no choice but to start growing their own fruits and vegetables? The answer to all of these questions is YES.  In our consumer poll we asked "Why do consumers garden?" 74% said they garden as a hobby, 69% feel their homegrown foods taste better, 62% maintain a home garden as a source for food, 60% feel their homegrown foods are more nutritious, 57% feel their garden saves them money, 43% feel their garden allows them to take part in conserving energy and taking care of the environment, and 43% use gardening as a fun learning activity for their children.  END With gardening as such a popular hobby and important source of tasty, nutritious foods - and now in San Francisco a source of income for some gardeners - it's time we all get on board and realize the importance of home gardening.


>Gluten free and wheat free are gaining some real legs in the supermarket.  Breads, crackers and cookies, are notoriously ‘wheaty’ and gluten containing foods. So if these products do not contain wheat as their main ingredient, what do they contain and is this wheat free fad going to stick? 

Research suggests that about .1 percent of the population has a wheat allergy.  Approximately 3 million Americans (1 percent) have celiac disease, while up to six percent may have a gluten sensitivity. However, the majority of gluten-free consumers- that is about 15 percent– are eating gluten free foods for other reasons. So when these consumers are looking for gluten free, wheat alternatives in grains and seeds what are they actually using? Here are a few of the most nutrient dense selections:

-Quinoa an “ancient grain” (it’s actually a seed) was originally cultivated thousands of years ago in the South American Andes and known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains.” 

-Sorghum is America’s third leading cereal crop, and in many parts of the world sorghum has traditionally been used in porridge, unleavened bread, cookies, cakes, and couscous – now it’s making its way into the gluten free aisle.

-Amaranth also dates back hundreds of years (similar to quinoa) to the Aztecs in Mexico. 

-You may not have heard of teff, but teff is an ancient North African cereal grass- said to be the smallest grain in the world - about 100 grains are the size of one kernel of wheat. 

-Buckwheat is another fabulous ancient seed, and is not in fact related to wheat at all! It has a mild flavor, but roasted or toasted, the flavor intensifies.

-Millet is also considered an ancient grain, possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. Millet is considered to be one of the least allergenic and easily digestible grains available.

By no means does this list include all of the gluten free substitutions – but does contain some of the most popular. Corn, rice, almond, potato and tapioca flour are also popular gluten free substitutions. END Educating consumers about wheat alternatives is definitely worth your while as the gluten free market is here to stay.  For more information about the nutritional values of these grains click the information link to the left, or visit


>Consumers come in strollers these days. Yup, marketers are turning kids into pint-size consumers, most often against their parents’ desires.  Never before have parents found themselves up against such a difficult opponent: a $17 billion children's product industry that focuses entirely on captivating the attention of their children. And while children may not have much money, they can be incredibly influential (scream, beg, cry and tantrum their way into getting what they want) when it comes to their parent’s spending habits.  Earlier in the week I interviewed Adam Hanft, a regular blogger for CNN, Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast. He is also the co-author of Dictionary of the Future and is founder and CEO of the marketing and branding firm, Hanft Projects, working with such brands as AT&T Wireless, Scotts, Reuters, Viacom, AOL Time Warner and Hertz.  Here’s what he had to say about pint sized consumers:



For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us.