Food News: From Weed Burgers to the Caveman Diet

The Lempert Report
December 31, 2014

Headlines from the Food World

Not Even Cavemen ate the "Cavemen" Diet! 
You might want to think twice if you're a fan of the Paleo Diet! This fad eating regime which cuts out carbs and focuses on meats and veggies, supposedly mimics how ancient humans ate and stayed trim.  But a new study on ancient humans finds that cavemen would, ironically, not have eaten the diet they are named after. According to a CBS News Report, the study, published in the Quarterly Review of Biology, states that cavemen ate a wide variety of foods based on where they were living and what was available to them. And would have included things like grains and legumes that would have violated the strict "Paleo" diet. The bottom line? Stay away from fad diets! 
Could Climate Change Cause a Drop in Food Production? 
According to a new study, global warming could cause an 18 percent drop in world food production by 2050.  But, the study, published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters has positive take aways. Such as, investments in irrigation and infrastructure, and moving food output to different regions, could reduce the loss. Where they should be expanded is difficult to model because of competing scenarios on how rainfall will change, so the majority of irrigation investments should be made after 2030, the study said. And globally, irrigation systems should be expanded by more than 25 percent to cope with changing rainfall patterns.  The study's  message is that careful planning of where to spend resources is key to cope with future changes. And indeed if climate change is managed correctly, food production could even rise 3 percent by 2050
The Dutch Weed Burger! 
Some entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are pushing a unique burger they hope will promote a new style of sustainable agriculture, seagriculture! The burger called the Dutch Weed Burger is made marijuana, but dutch grown seaweed. The patty is made with kombu seaweed with roasted, textured soy to give it a meat feel. The bun is filled with micro-algae, another good source of protein and other nutrients. The vegan "weed sauce" for the patty is made with Dutch sea lettuce. Mark Kulsdom, cofounder of the Dutch Weed Burger was quoted in FastCoExist dot com: "We can easily grow a nutrient-dense, protein rich food in the sea. To do that on land is becoming more of a problem. With raising animals, now we've reached a certain level where it's not sustainable anymore. We can't sustain the environment, and the environment can't sustain this industry." 
Why Cafeteria Food is Still Winning

A concern for many parents is how best to feed their child during school hours. Several recents studies still maintain that home packed lunched are less nutritious than the meals offered in schools which follow current nutrition guidelines for the National School Lunch Program.  For example, one study, conducted in 12 elementary and intermediate schools in Houston, showed that lunches brought from home contained far less fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk than the national program mandates. A  second study for pre-K and kindergarten children in four schools in rural Virginia, found that home packed lunches had far higher calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar and far less protein, fiber and calcium.  The current National School Lunch Program requires ½ to 1 cup of fruits, ¾ to 1 cup of vegetables, 1 cup of 1 percent or fat-free milk (if sweetened, fat-free only), 1 to 2 ounces of grains (half of which are whole grains, to a maximum of 9 to 12 ounces a week), and 1 to 2 ounces of meat or a meat alternative (to a maximum of 10 to 12 ounces a week). A variety of vegetables — not just potatoes — must be served, and children must select at least three of these options each day, including at least one fruit or vegetable.

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