Food News Today Transcripts for May 5th, 2012

May 11, 2012

Burger King’s big move, Brazil’s land use initiative, and why ethnic foods are popular in schools, for May 9th, 2012, this is Food News Today.

 Today I'm broadcasting from the FMI conference in Dallas Texas.  Stay tuned for next week's May 16th episode, where I will touch on some of the exciting events and happenings fro the conference.

As America’s schools welcome students from a wider range of cultural backgrounds, school cafeterias have introduced new ethnic dishes that cater to students’ diversity and allow kids to sample nutritious foods from around the world. I spoke with Carol Chong, Director of Food and Menu Management for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and here’s what she had to say about catering to the many cultures in our schools.


Thanks Carol. As well as Italian and Asian foods, and of course the good old peanut butter and jelly, Carol’s schools do it all!  For more check out the School Nutrition Association’s The State of School Nutrition 2011 survey which found that 99% of school districts are serving Mexican dishes, 84% offer Asian foods, and more!

>Now we’ll hear from Rebecca Fisher on the land use initiative in Brazil that is attempting to increase agriculture while preserving rainforest – Rebecca what is going on in Brazil?

REBECCA: The question of how to provide enough food for our ever-increasing global population has been on the minds of many agro-ecologists for quite some time. The pressure to clear-cut national forests  is mounting as commodity demand for food and biofuels picks up. Ultimately, we need to decouple agricultural expansion with deforestation. An initiative known as Roundtable-REDD, being launched at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development  in Brazil this June seeks to do just that. The program will invest in agribusiness around the world to adopt minimum environmental standards for major food commodities, such as sugar, soya, and palm oil. Landowners who adopt the standards will be eligible to apply for subsidized government loans for soil improvement, intensification, or reclaiming degraded fields. While these initiatives are imperative to preserving the world’s biodiversity, it begs the question: if we aren’t going to cut down our rainforests, where do we intend to harvest enough food to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050? To see if we can find an answer to this question, stay tuned to the proceedings at UN negotiations this summer.

 PHIL: Thanks Rebecca!

>It’s not news any more that Burger King will switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs with in five years (2017), as well as eliminating gestation crates from its US pork supply.  This move strategically satisfies the growing consumer demand for humanely produced food and may trigger a domino effect in the industry. But can the industry bear such a huge change; cage-free production currently represents about 5 percent of the US egg market.

Burger King’s decision could be game-changing in the supply business, as a huge market parts for humanely raised animals. Currently nine percent of BK's eggs and 20 percent of the pork served at its 7,200 restaurants are cage-free. In the EU, all eggs are already cage-free. Broiler (chicken meat) industry has ~ 9 billion chickens None are in cages.

The Associated Press paints the picture of what cage free actually means, “hens would still be housed in a barn, but they have room to roam and perches and nesting boxes. Sows are also held indoors, but they would not be confined in the cramped crates while they are pregnant.” Private equity group 3G Capital, took Burger King private in October 2010, and will soon release the company public. Positive publicity, and fair treatment of animals certainly places BK in a positive light.