Food News Today Transcripts for the week of May 2nd, 2011

May 06, 2011

The fountain of youth in your supermarket, how emotions affect kids eating preferences and can agro-ecology save the planet while feeding the population, for the week of May 2nd, 2011. This is Food News Today

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Health & Wellness: Anti-Aging Foods

In health & wellness today we take a look at the fountain of youth - thru the supermarket aisles. It is becoming more and more obvious, and undeniable that we are what we eat- study after study demonstrating the link between a certain overall lifestyle or particular food and improved health are making headlines on a weekly basis. Foods that we eat today will have both an immediate and long term effect on our bodies and fortunately decisions regarding what we eat are individual. So the question that just about everyone wants the answer to, where is the fountain of youth? can actually be answered quite simply- in your local supermarket or farmers market. Here are some favorites:

Avocados, usually thought of as a vegetable are a fruit rich in monounsaturated fats that may help to reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. Avocados are rich in potassium which is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function as well as helping to lower blood pressure.

Dark leafy greens, such as collard greens, kale and spinach are all full of antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are vital in maintaining eye health and preventing macular degeneration. As well as vitamin K which allows for normal blood clotting, protects against osteoporosis and prevents oxidative cell damage.

Garlic, famous for its strong aroma and flavor produced by the presence of allicin, a sulfur containing compound that promotes antioxidant activity as well as acting as an antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Scientific studies have demonstrated garlic’s blood pressure lowering capabilities and its positive effects on cholesterol levels.

Herbs and Spices not only pack a flavorful punch, but are also rich in ‘anti-aging’ compounds. Parsley, oregano, basil, turmeric and cinnamon are only a few of the many that are great sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other bioactive compounds that keep our bodies functioning in tip top shape. The deeper the color and fresher the herbs and spices, the better. Studies have shown that on a per gram fresh weight basis, herbs rank even higher in antioxidant activity than many fruits and vegetables. 


Food Preference Study – Emotion 

Our consumer trends story this morning takes a look at preferences - why we eat what we eat. Ever wonder if seeing someone enjoying a certain food would affect your preference for that same food, or if a person’s weight status would affect your food choice? A study recently published in the journal Obesity demonstrates that both weight and emotion affect and influence our eating habits; moreover adults may influence children’s eating habits through their facial expressions and conveyed emotions. 

Previous research and this study demonstrated that adult’s desire to eat foods decreases in the presence of an overweight eater compared to a normal-weight eater. This study set out to understand influences on children’s eating desires. 

When the kids liked the foods presented, the eater’s weight status had no effect on their eating desire. They were more influenced by the eater’s facial expressions; an expression of pleasure increased the desire to eat the liked foods in the younger children, whereas an expression of disgust decreased it. The findings come at a time when about one-third of children are overweight or obese, which increases their risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and other health problems.

This study reminds us of the extreme impressionability of children and the importance of teaching them good habits through our actions. Adults, parents, and guardians should be mindful of the way they react towards certain foods, both those that are nutrient rich and nutrient poor. For example, when food shopping with kids, parents are advised to spend lots of time in the produce section choosing carefully and sharing the wonderful scents of the fruit and vegetables with their kids- as compared with time spent in front of the processed meat case or freezers full of ice cream and other desserts. The same goes for eating occasions – kids look up to their parents and adults and thus we need to be mindful in choosing foods as well as our negative reactions to healthy foods. So bottom line - when you are eating healthy foods be sure to smile!

Agro-Ecology: good for the environment and people

In our economy and spending story today we talk a look at a recent report from the United Nations that shows that food production in poor countries suffering from a historical lack of investment in agriculture could double in a decade if farms switched to ecological agriculture – also known as agro-ecology. The UN estimates that the world population will reach nine billion by 2050, making the task of feeding the world even more of a challenge. With food costs rising and supply diminishing, the time is now, to start growing green and utilizing agro-ecology before further unrest between the haves and the hungry erupts.

What is agro-ecology? While some people try to portray it as a return to middle-age agriculture, it’s actually the contrary. Agro-ecology is a modern science requiring a bridge between scientists and farmers. In simple terms, it enhances soil productivity and protects crops against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects. Mimicking nature is very different from copying industrial processes, which has been driving agriculture for a long time, says Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Reporter on the Right to Food and author of the report who goes on to say, “Agriculture, now part of the problem of climate change, should be made part of the solution.” His report shows that agro-ecological projects proved to be more resilient to extreme climate-related events, while substantially reducing the use of oil and oil-based pesticides and fertilizers.

Agro-ecology also has the potential to adapt to and to mitigate climate change. According to De Schutter, “modern” agriculture accounts for 14% of total annual emissions, with change in land-use- including deforestation for agricultural expansion, contributing another 19%.Climate change is also an issue, and in certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, yields are expected to fall by 50% by 2020 in comparison to 2000 levels.

Small and large-scale operations can apply the principles of agroecology. Large-scale operations are already applying the principles of agroecology in the U.K., France, Central America and in the Pacific Northwest in the US.

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.