Edible Examiner XL


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Americans Are Too Stupid for GMO Labeling, Congressional Panel Says – Michael McAuliff

It’s pretty rare that members of Congress and all the witnesses they’ve called will declare out loud that Americans are just too ignorant to be given a piece of information, but that was a key conclusion of a session of the House Agriculture Committee this week. The issue was genetically modified organisms, or GMOs as they’re often known in the food industry. And members of the subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, as well as their four experts, agreed that the genetic engineering of food crops has been a thorough success responsible for feeding the hungry, improving nutrition and reducing the use of pesticides. People who oppose GMOs or want them labeled so that consumers can know what they’re eating are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance, the panel agreed. Labeling GMO foods would only stoke those fears, and harm a beneficial thing, so it should not be allowed, the lawmakers and witnesses agreed. Certainly, there is misinformation about GMOs, as highlighted in a New York Times feature on a Hawaiian ban of most GMOs. But entirely missing from the hearing was any suggestion that there are real concerns about the impact of genetically engineered food, such as the growth of pesticide-resistant “super weeds,” over-reliance on a single-crop factory farming, decreased biodiversity, and a lack of a consistent approval process. The issue may soon gain fresh relevance on Capitol Hill, where a measure backed by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) to stop states from requiring GMO labeling could get marked up as early as September. The bill also would allow genetically engineered food to be labeled “100 percent natural.”

 

The children are our future (in tea), says Packaged Facts – Maggie Hennessy

Tea isn’t just for grown-ups anymore, as instant and ready to drink (RTD) teas are paving the way for strong positioning among families, children and teens, according to a recent report by market research firm Packaged Facts. According to the report titled “Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S.”, household penetration of tea is at about 77% and growing—up 1.9% between 2008 and 2013. RTD iced tea usage penetration among US adults has grown 5% during 2009 to 2013, reaching 47%–but among those with children age 6-11 and 12-17 in the home, usage penetration has risen more strongly and overall usage penetration is higher, suggesting the influence kids have on their parents’ purchasing decisions, Packaged Facts found. Two-thirds of grocery shoppers with children agree that their kids’ preferences influence which groceries they buy, according to Packaged Facts’ February/March 2013 Food Shopper Insights Survey. To win over the kids, RTD tea varieties are key to leveraging convenience. Currently, Packaged Facts says teas aimed specifically at kids and teens are underrepresented. Despite its formidable size, the kids food and beverage market is a tricky one. For tea marketers this means leveraging tea’s healthful properties to promote it as a healthy alternative to sugary beverages, while appealing to the Millennial penchant for social responsibility. Tea marketers must also harness the internet, social media and the blogosphere when specifically seeking to connect with Millennial moms. One startup manufacturer, Little Me Tea, has positioned itself in the kids’ market as an alternative to sugary juice boxes with its organic, caffeine-free tea sweetened with fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar. The product is set to roll out nationwide.

 

Artichoke water CEO: How many different types of coconut water can you have? We’re delivering disruptive innovation – Elaine Watson

Plant waters are all the rage—at least that’s what trend watchers keep telling us—but can artichoke water emulate the meteoric success of coconut water? Or is Arty Water—an intriguing mix of artichokes, mint and pandanus leaf sweetened with monk fruit and blue agave—too niche to be a hit in the ultra-competitive beverages aisle? Not surprisingly, its founder and CEO Dr. Howard Ketelson—who has a PhD in chemistry—reckons he is onto a winner with Arty Water, although he acknowledges that overcoming the initial “yuck” factor some consumers associate with a vegetable water will be a challenge. What makes Arty Water special is a patent-pending process of grabbing the good bits from whole artichokes that retains their fiber, antioxidants, vitamins (A, E, C, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9), sodium potassium, calcium, iron and electrolytes and a host of phytonutrients including quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin. From a nutritional perspective, artichokes have been linked to myriad health benefits spanning everything from digestive health to tackling inflammation. Because the unique process does not use an extract, getting the manufacturing infrastructure in place was a challenge. Partnering with a company that produces salsa, a custom-made manufacturing line for Arty Water was built, which has taken manufacturing capabilities from 2,000 bottles a month to 12,000 a day.

 

LED tech being developed to grow food on Mars – Ryan Whitwam

We will face considerable technological hurdles designing any sort of manned mission to Mars and beyond, but simply building a ship that can convey astronauts to the outer solar system is only one part of the problem. Making sure they have enough food to eat during the journey is almost as daunting a challenge. A team of researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario is working on LED technology that could allow astronauts to grow food in space at maximum efficiency. The team is working with LEDs because you get a lot of photons for relatively little power and an LED can also be made to produce a very specific wavelength of light for targeting just what a plant needs. The lab is using lettuce as the test crop because it’s easy to grow and it grows quickly. What they learn from lettuce will be used to improve the growth of more nutritionally rich plants like cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

 

Oxford scientist taps jet engine tech to build super-efficient pots and pans – Lee Matthews

Have you ever boiled water using jet engine technology? Probably not, but you may very soon thanks to the work of an Oxford professor and his team of master’s students and their Flare pan. The trademark fins on the outside of Flare pots and pans makes them different. Their purpose is to grab onto heat supplied by the burner on your stove and pull it up the sides. With traditional pots and pans, most of the usable heat remains in or very near the bottom. The fins allow for much more efficient cooking and can reduce energy use by as much as 44% over average cookware. The even heat distribution should also make it easier to whip up your carefully concocted culinary creations with less worry about things burning on the bottom or boiling over the sides.

 

5 Reasons To Drink Coffee Before Your Workout – Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Half of Americans start their day with coffee, and, according to a recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. If you’ve always thought of coffee as a vice—one you’re simply not willing to give up—you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually a secret superfood. Here are five more reasons to enjoy it as part of an active lifestyle, along with suggestions for getting your fix healthfully.

  1. Improved Circulation. Recent Japanese research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Those who downed caffeinated coffee experienced a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to those who drank the decaf version. Better circulation, better workout.
  2. Less Pain. Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of two to three cups of coffee one hour before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. The conclusion: caffeine may help you push just a little bit harder during strength-training workouts.
  3. Better Memory. A study published this year from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed. This brain boost may be a real boon during workouts, especially when they entail needing to recall specific exercises or routines.
  4. Muscle Preservation. In an animal study, sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. Caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries.
  5. More Muscle Fuel. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a little caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day.

This doesn’t mean you should down as much coffee as possible. Don’t overdo it. The maximum amount of caffeine recommended for enhancing performance with minimal side effects is the equivalent of about 16 ounces of coffee for a 150-pound woman. Also be consistent with your intake so your body can adjust. Keep drinking good old water as your main beverage of choice.

 

5 Label Tricks That Make You Think You’re Eating Healthy – Crystal Collins

Everyday shoppers want to get healthier, so they pick up something from the store that is expensive, but no healthier than what they’ve been purchasing in the past. It’s called clever marketing. If you’re looking to get a little healthier without getting manipulated, here are some labels to watch out for:

  1. “All Natural”. Just because a product says “all natural” does not necessarily mean that it is good for you. “All Natural” labels can still contain a multitude of additives, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, antibiotics, pesticides and more. Look for the “100% USDA Organic” seal or purchase more raw, whole foods.
  2. Green Colors. Thanks to the “green movement”, brands will mix green colors with words and phrases like healthy, natural, good for you, simple, etc. Look at actual certifications, not just the color of the packaging.
  3. “Organic” or “Made with Organic Ingredients”. Unless the product is 100% certified USDA organic, there could be all kinds of stuff in that food. 70-95% of it will be organic, but the rest could be anything.
  4. “Whole Grain” or “Multigrain”. This is one of the most widely used labels on products. There isn’t really a unified standard definition and regulation of what “whole grain” actually is. Many items that contain this label tend to have higher amounts of sugars and calories than foods that don’t have the label. Look for the “100% Whole Grain” stamp or make your own breads at home.
  5. “Free Range” or “Grass-Fed”. These items aren’t regulated, so this label cannot be trusted. Know the company practices of the brand you are buying, and/or purchase from local farmers.

 

5 Things You Might Not Know About San Marzano Tomatoes – Chantal Martineau

If the crust of a pizza is its backbone, the cheese and toppings its face, then the sauce is its lifeblood. Too often overlooked, the right sauce is key to a great pie. Any pizzaiolo worth his salt will tell you the sauce should be made with San Marzano tomatoes. This variety of plum tomato grows in the rich volcanic soil of the Sarno River valley, near Mount Vesuvius, resulting in a sweet flesh with low acidity. Its thick skin makes it easy to peel, plus it’s meatier than Romas and other plums, and has fewer seeds: all good things for making sauce. But some things you might have heard about these world-famous tomatoes aren’t true. So we’re setting the record straight:

  1. No, they don’t grow in Brooklyn. Like French Champagne, San Marzano tomatoes are grown under strict rules designed to protect and promote regional agricultural products. In Italy, D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) rules ensure that only growers within a defined area adhering to specific farming and canning methods can sell tomatoes labeled San Marzano. So while you can grow the San Marzano variety in your backyard, they won’t taste the same as the real McCoy. And you won’t be able to stamp them as D.O.P San Marzanos to sell at your local farmers’ market.
  2. Yes, some San Marzanos are fakes. Official D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, peeled whole or cut in half. If your tomatoes come in a jar or are pureed, chopped, diced or even organic, they aren’t the real thing.
  3. Yes, you can make Neapolitan Pizza without them. In Italy, Neapolitans have an official body that governs how pizza must be made before it can be called “real Neapolitan pizza.” While San Marzanos are the preferred tomato, they aren’t the only ones allowed.
  4. No, San Maranos can’t kill you. OK, so maybe this one was debunked a long time ago. When tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Andes, they were thought to be poisonous. That’s likely because of the plant’s similarity to the deadly nightshade, or belladonna. Gradually, tomatoes went from a purported poison to a supposed aphrodisiac (In France) to simply good eats.
  5. No, San Marzanos don’t come from royalty. Another myth holds that the first San Marzano seeds were a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the King of Naples in 1770. It’s probably untrue considering that the plant was still widely feared in Europe at the time.

 

What’s The Difference Between Cherry and Grape Tomatoes? – Linnea Covington

Despite the abundance of grape tomatoes in the grocery store, the verdict is out: cherry tomatoes trump their oblong brethren. After talking to numerous chefs and farmers, they mostly agree that for a real dose of bright, tomato flavor, go for a cherry. But if cherry tomatoes remain the darling of chefs, why does it appear grape tomatoes have taken over the market? The answer lies in durability. The hardier skins of the grape variety help it travel better. When talking about these two tomatoes, here are a few nuances to keep in mind:

  • Physical Differences. Grape tomatoes have an oblong shape and cherries, which are larger, usually form a perfect orb. You can find cherries in bright shades of yellow and orange, whereas most grape tomatoes exude shades of red. The skins offer a distinct difference. Many chefs prefer the thick-skinned grapes which work better in a sauce, and the delicate cherry either raw or lightly cooked.
  • Growing the Tomatoes. The grow cycle for both these varietals is about the same, though how they produce the fruit varies. Cherry tomatoes come early and in growth spurts throughout the summer. Grape tomatoes come in clusters, a fact that benefits larger growers who are looking for a big yield.
  • Cooking the two. Cherry tomatoes have a better, sweeter taste. They make a light, fresh sauce, which is a great accompaniment to fish. Grapes have thicker skin and are not as sweet. Some chefs say grape tomatoes work better as a garnish for a burger or in a quick, thick sauce on top of pasta.

In truth, it’s how you use the tomato that counts.

 

Square Watermelons Sell For $200 In Vancouver – Huffington Post

Urban Fare in Vancouver Canada is once again featuring square watermelons at the ridiculous price of $199.99 (up from $99.99 10 years ago). The square watermelons are grown in Japan in tempered glass boxes and checked several times a day. They were designed to stack more easily. Because of he labor-intensive process, only a few hundred are produced in Japan annually. Contrary to popular belief, they are not genetically modified. Urban Fare usually sells about 100 square watermelons each year. But here’s the kicker: square watermelons are actually bitter and taste terrible because they’re harvested before they’re ripe.

 

The Crumbs cupcake empire has been iced, but the cupcake rolls on. – Sarah Kaplan

The death of the cupcake? – Maggie Hennessy

Crumbs: From Neighborhood Cupcakery to Failed Chain – Paula Forbes

Divided America Comes Together To Agree A $3 Cupcake Is Ridiculous – Emily Swanson

Crumbs Cupcakes Could Be Saved By Reality TV Host – Kevin Short

The Cupcake Chain Crumbs Will Reopen – Khushbu Shah

After the announcement this month that cupcake chain Crumbs Bake Shop was unceremoniously closing all of its locations, it’s hard to believe they were ever once considered a success story. And yet, at their peak, there were 70 Crumbs locations globally. They were the first publicly traded cupcake company. But rapid expansion and waning interest in the cupcake fad of the early 2000s have brought hard times to Crumbs. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted on the heels of this closing 66% of Americans said the most they’d be willing to pay for one excellent cupcake is $2 or less. Nineteen percent were willing to pay $3, 9 percent were willing to pay $4, and 7 percent said they’d pay $5 or more. According to Crumbs website their cupcakes were about $4.50 each. The poll also revealed that Americans aren’t that into cupcakes now. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said cupcakes are “somewhere in the middle” of the dessert rankings. Not only are Americans not clamoring to pay for gourmet cupcakes, they also would prefer that new dessert shops sell something different. Crumbs was also fighting market saturation, an issue particularly for shops which depend on one product. Crumbs did make a concerted push into premium coffee beverages and other baked products such as cookies, brownies and muffins, but it appeared to be too little too late, as they had already been established in the consumer mindset as a cupcake shop. Crumbs also couldn’t compete with supermarket price points. As more and more retailers got into the cupcake space, supermarkets entered the fray with significantly lower price points.

Fear not, cupcake fans: Crumbs Bake Shop could live to see another day. According to a press release published late Friday (7/11/14) night, Marcus Lemonis, the owner of Dippin’ Dots and host of CNBC reality show “The Profit”, and Fischer Enterprises L.L.C. formed a joint venture, Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Company, which plans to acquire the shops. Crumbs will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the Chicago Tribune. Lemonis hopes “to get the stores reopened and people rehired.”

 

Self-Serve Beer Machines Are Here – Khushbu Shah

Minnesota Twins Decide to Allow Fans to Pour Own Beers – Aaron Goldfarb

Sports stadiums are constantly working on new innovations to help you get your beer to you quicker. After all, they only have so much time to get your business before the seventh inning. We are actually in a golden age for stadium beer-serving innovation. Two years ago, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium was the first to outfit their roaming beer hawkers with Boulevard Wheat-filled beer keg backpacks. Last year saw the release of several smartphone apps to help get beer (and sometimes loaded nachos) to your seat ASAP so you won’t miss any action. Likewise, Dodger Stadium concessionaires now offer frozen beer foam to keep your suds ice-cold.  Earlier this year, Wrigley Field unveiled the Bottoms Up Beer Dispenser, a new technology, which fills beer cups faster by starting at the bottom (the secret: magnets!).

Most recently Minnesota Twins Target Field is the first major-league stadium to feature a new set of self-serve beer machines. According to the Star Tribune, patrons go to a cashier to have their age verified. They are then allowed to purchase “a vending card with either $10 or $20 on it for use” at the Draft Serv machines. Beer can be purchased by the ounce and customers can dispense up to 48 ounces every 15 minutes. A manager told the paper that they sold 200 cards on their first day. To prevent customers from becoming overly intoxicated there is an employee at each station to double check IDs and to make sure the drinker doesn’t appear to have surpassed their limits. Now if only these sports teams could figure out a way to reduce those stadium bathroom lines.