Food News Today transcripts for September 7th, 2011

September 09, 2011

What’s changed in school lunches, pet food from the local butcher, and the new food foot soldiers, for September 7th 2011, this is Food News Today.

Good Morning. Immediately following today's broadcast will be our live chat - i hope you will join in. Feel free to type in your thoughts, and questions during the program. Also, don't forget to download our Smarter Shopping app…

Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.  

 >In this morning's nutrition segments we take a look at school lunches - in particular the beverages - and specifically - what's going on with milk. Earlier I interviewed Dr. Tanya Remer Altman, a leading medical authority, mom, a best-selling author, and parenting expert. Dr. Tanya is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and communicates complicated medical issues into easily understood concepts. Parents probably know what their kids are eating for breakfast and dinner, but do they know what their children are getting for lunch? Typically, kids get about half of their calories while at school.  And this year there are a lot of changes in school lunches - Dr. Tanya is here via Skype to share with us some of what parents can expect.

Thanks for joining us Tanya.

>A couple months ago we told you how the butcher is back, now the trend may be getting a bit out of hand. In Xtreme Retail today we take a look at how the local butcher is changing the pet food landscape. One of the latest trends in New York, both sustainable and local is, dog food from the local butcher shop.  Yes dog food, from the local butcher.  For some, premium dog food isn’t good enough and those willing to shell out some cash are opting for freshly made cuisine from high-end local butchers - who already supply the best cuts for upscale restaurants.

The doggie butchers insist that their products, from grass-fed and locally raised, is not just a gimmick, but instead another way to promote sustainability of small-scale local farming as well as optimal canine nutrition.  Jake Dickson, the owner of Dickson’s Farmstand in the Chelsea Market, told the NY Times that his “mission is to get as much out of the animal as possible.”Not sure if he is talking about the cow or pet...

Once a week, 6,000 pounds of meat arrives at Dickson’s from farms in the Hudson Valley. Most all of it for human consumption and the odds and ends, or pieces that have oxidized or other “cosmetic” concerns- make it into the dog food.  “The dog food is kind of taking it to the next step,” said Jake Dickson, who demonstrates the “nose to tail” sustainability aspect of Farm to Bowl, his new dog food operation. All of the pieces he used to throw away, are ground, roasted and then combined with produce, to make dog food.  The dog food is sold fresh in one-and-a-half-pound, $10 packages as dog food. At one meal per pouch for a medium-size dog, it is expensive! For comparison, a 34-pound package of Purina Puppy Chow can be purchased for around $23. Customers say their dogs have more energy, are more obedient and more healthy overall. We'll see just how long or how far this trend spreads.

>When it comes to Health & Wellness we all have a responsibility in the fight agains obesity, now a more organized and perhaps more effective program has launched - the Food Foot Soldiers are here.  The latest in the battle against obesity is what some are calling food’s foot soldiers, the FoodCorps, a national service program that aims to improve nutrition education for underprivileged children, develop school gardening projects, and improve what’s being served in school lunches.  At the core of the program are the service members, most of them in their 20s, who spend a year living in limited-resource communities where there is limited access to healthy food or high rates of childhood obesity.  Over 1,230 people applied for 50 service member positions, and many of the service members have firsthand experience with the communities they’re serving- which is great because they understand these challenges from the inside. They just went to work in 10 states at 41 sites, from Maine to Oregon to Mississippi.  The program is nearly a volunteer position - members will be paid $15,000 for the year, on which they need to find a place to live, and pay for food. Members without other sources of income are encouraged to apply for SNAP benefits so they’ll live like many of those they’re serving.  But none-the-less will be eligible for over $5,000 worth of scholarship money.  FoodCorps says they, “envision a bright future for our Service Members: young leaders who, having invested a year of public service creating healthy food environments for children, will go on to become farmers, chefs, educators and public health leaders. These visionaries, armed with the skills to improve school food, will improve all food.” FoodCorps expects around 60,000 kids to benefit from improved food education- gardens will be planted to get kids excited about fruits and vegetables; other food will be sourced from local farms.

>On to our chat - what's on your food mind this week?  

>For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next week’s stories will be in your Tuesday email.