Food News Today Transcripts for the week of August 6th, 2012

August 10, 2012

Scared Fat? Are robots the future for food and chefs, and what does obesity mean for our planet?

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

>It was predicted years ago that robots would be our future... but the future of making food? I'm not talking about the large machines that manufacture packaged goods- I'm talking individualized made to order foods. For instance, the sushi bot- which can make 3,600 pieces of sushi or 300 rolls in an hour! Now that's impressive, And here' a robot that makes Japanese savory pancakes check out his spatula hands and watch as it flips the pancake.

-Next up is the invention of New York University graduate student Marko Manriquez.  He developed a robot for his thesis project for the school's ITP program: A 3-D printer that assembles made-to-order burritos via a custom iPhone app. The project, dubbed Burritobot, is one of several 3D printers ‚ but is specialized and might just be part of food service in the future.

>A recent report from the British Medical Council looked at the effect of our ever-increasing waistlines on our world food energy demands.  Shockingly the report found that not only is obesity bad for our health, but the health of the planet as well - and all the extra pounds could require as much food energy as another half billion people.  The researchers used data on body mass index (BMI) and several other markers and found that in 2005, the global adult human biomass was about 287 million tons, 15 million of which can be traced to overweight, and 3.5 million to obesity.

Not all of this extra biomass is distributed equally. North America has just 6 percent of the planet's population, but 34 percent of its biomass comes from obesity. To put that into perspective, Asia has 61 percent of the world's population and just 13 percent of biomass from obesity.

Here's the scariest part: If every country had the same body mass index distribution as the US, it would equal the equivalent in mass of an extra 935 million people of average BMI, with energy requirements for an additional 473 million people.

The researchers conclude, "Tackling population fatness may be critical to world food security and ecological sustainability." After hearing the results of this study, I have to agree.


>Are we being Scared Fat? Scared out of buying produce because of fears around the safety of fruits and vegetables? That's the idea behind a report from, a website from The Alliance for Food and Farming - a non-profit organization that represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  

Sixty percent of consumers express a high concern about pesticide residues, much of which is based on misleading information, according to The Alliance for Food and Farming. Consumers were asked to rate which was the most important factor in purchasing fruits and vegetables - not unexpectedly, "safety from contamination or food borne illness‚" ranked first with 39 percent of the respondents listing this as either the first or second most important factor. The second highest rated factor was "the cost of the product" at 38 percent, and the third most important factor was "free from chemical pesticide residues" at 36 percent.

The experts concluded that there may be a growing public health threat caused by misinformation about food issues presented by the media. The greatest concern is the finding that almost a third of shoppers are buying less produce because of the fear that these foods may have pesticide residues. Moreover it's affecting our most vulnerable; after hearing about the "Dirty Dozen" list, almost 10 percent of low-income consumers stated that they would reduce their consumption of fruits and vegetables

What's not controversial is that one of the best things consumers can do is to eat more fruits and vegetables.

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