Food News Today Transcripts for the week of July 13th, 2011

July 15, 2011

Food becomes the highlight of the Amusement park, can sugar make us “mental” and an interview with a vegetarian turned butcher for July 13th 2011. This is Food News Today.

 Good Morning.  Today's broadcast is prerecorded - if you have any questions or comments about today's stories - please send me an email - and I will answer you within the next 24 hours. 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 retail trends, we put on our shorts and t-shirts and get a roll of quarters to head to the amusement park. Well, maybe not quarters anymore... especially when it comes to their food offerings.Amusement park food can be a highlight of a family vacation, since so many destinations offer both traditional (think funnel cake, saltwater taffy and hot dogs) and diverse options.  Amusement parks for many bring back a nostalgic feeling of what their care free childhood days were like, but now parks are not only expanding the range of available food options, they are upping the quality and even trade marking specific items like never before- making for even more memorable amusement vacations. For instance lets take a visit to Del Grosso Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, famous for their potato salad.  It is a popular choice for countless guests and it’s made fresh daily.  Next travel West to Disneyland for a pineapple whip float inside the enchanted tiki room; a classic destination right here in Southern California. Another Disney favorite is a restaurant located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Blue Bayou, where you can watch boats drift through an artificial cove, as you select from an impressive seasonal menu.  Almost as well know are the hot dogs at Six Flags Great Adventure in the Garden State, different from the usual because they are local - Nathan's hot dogs.  If you take a visit to Epcot’s World Showcast and you’ll be treated to some of the best international cuisine in theme park history! For example, Les Chefs de France, a somewhat Americanized pseudo french name for a restaurant, is one of Epcot's fine dining hotspots, with an authentic French menu and staff.  Perhaps as the parks up their quality and offerings we no longer have to worry about things like this:  

>The nation and food producers all seem to be focused on sugars - to reduce the amount we consume as a key to reversing obesity - in Nutrition News we look at a new study that offers yet another reason: Sugar & mental illness.  Eat too much sugary foods and you’ll go nuts - that's the message according to a cross-cultural analysis published in the British Journal of Psychiatry- which found a strong correlation between refined sugar consumption and mental illness. Researchers found that a high intake of refined sugar and dairy predicted a higher incidence and worse outcomes of schizophrenia and depression. To the contrary, researchers also found that consumption whole grains, beans and starchy root vegetables were linked to a lower prevalence of mental illnesses. This research and other similar studies are shedding light on the fact that diet plays a big role in both our mental and physical health. The mind body connection if you will.  Refined sugar consumption suppresses brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, an important growth hormone in the brain- involved in creating new connections between neurons crucial for memory function.  Low BDNF levels are associated with depression and schizophrenia and the consumption of refined sugar has the potential to exacerbate poor mental states by contributing to low BDNF levels.  Refined sugar is well known to cause an increased level of inflammation throughout the body. And chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers and more ailments. There are many foods on our supermarket shelves with  “hidden sugars” so read labels and ingredient lists carefully and look out for “hidden sugars” - with names like high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, to name just a few.

>Some say the butcher is back! And with more consumers showing interest in where their food comes from, there is much for the retailer and consumer to learn from these skilled meat artisans. We spoke with Bryan Butler an Austin, Texas master butcher with over fifteen years of experience. Formally trained at Texas State Technical College, he has worked as a butcher in a wide variety of settings. Bryan has been Austin’s neighborhood butcher for well over a decade, and spent six years as the butcher at Wheatsville Coop before joining Salt & Time in October 2010. He will also be competing this year in Cochon 555, a traveling culinary competition to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs.

 Thanks Brian...

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 weeks stories will be in your Tuesday email.