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MARION NESTLE WEIGHS IN ON “SQUEEZABLE FRUIT”

No, it’s not what you might think – we’re not talking about squeezing an avocado to tell how ripe it is, we’re talking about new products from Pepsico called Tropolis Squeezable Fruit.

Here is a passage from the company’s press release:

“With challenges in mind that moms and kids face when it comes to consuming enough fruits and vegetables, Tropicana worked with moms, kids and health experts including dietitians and pediatricians to develop this healthy, delicious, lunchbox and grab-and-go snack. Price, availability and convenience are the three main barriers for moms when it comes to squeezing fruits and vegetables into everyday routines, leaving Americans, including children, short on the five to 13 fruit and vegetable servings recommended for everyday consumption.”

We can agree that price, availability, and convenience are three main barriers for people when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption; however, like Nestle, we question the value of this new “drinkified snack” or “snackified beverage” (Note: I am not making these terms up, they come from the CEO of Pepsico herself).

This is how Nestle breaks it down:

There are 3 flavors: grape, cherry, and apple. The ingredients of each are below.

Grape World: apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, maltodextrin, grape juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor, and vitamin C.

Cherry World: apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, maltodextrin, apple juice concentrate, cherry juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor, and vitamin C.

Apple World: apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, maltodextrin, apple juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor, and vitamin C.

Notice any similarities?

Nestle concludes that this stuff is no more than watery apple and banana sauce, artificially thickened, sweetened with fruit sugars, flavored with additives, and with added vitamin C. We agree. These products appear to offer a lot of concentrated sugars with very little diversity of ingredients.

Hmm, you know what are also widely available at relatively low prices and are pretty convenient to carry and eat? Right, apples and bananas.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Welcome to 2011! A new year brings promise and hope, resolutions to change and improve ourselves and the world around us, and reflection on events that have occurred during the past year. One of my new year’s resolutions is to prepare more meals in my home. This resolution stems in part from a variety of scientific studies that were recently summaried by Jonah Leher, who is a contributing editor at Wired.

Basically, these studies point to three potential factors that encourage overeating.

1) The Ikea Effect – the idea that you tend to value something that you made yourself more than something that you did not make. Applied to food, you might have greater appreciation, satisfaction, and enjoyment for meals that you have prepared yourself.

2) The Rise of the Fry – before World War II, Americans consumed few French fries, at least in part because their preparation (peeling, cutting, cooking) required a fair amount of time and effort. However, with the increasing number of fast food venues selling French fries quickly and at low prices, our ability to consume them is much easier. According to Leher’s article, total potato consumption increased by about 30 percent from 1977 to 1995 and that increase was almost exclusively due to increased consumption of French fries and potato chips (as opposed to the baked, bolied, or mashed potatoes largely consumed prior to WWII).

3) Can’t Get No (at least as much) Satisfaction – Studies have shown that compulsive eating and obese individuals have reduced signalling in the “reward centers” of the brain – including in response to tasty treats like a chocolate milkshake. These studies have suggested that overeating is a result of a lack of satisfaction or feeling satiated after eating.

So, what do we take away from this? First, I’m gonna prepare more meals myself, even if every meal is not Top Chef material. Second, I’m going to try resist the temptation to consume less healthy foods that do not align with my long-term goals just because they are easier or cheaper. And third, I’m going to make sure to enjoy the fruits of my labor and savor all of the meals (homemade or not) that I do consume.

Happy New Year,

Larry

THOUGHTS FOR THE (HOLI) DAY

I came across this quote from Thomas Keller the other day:

“There is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose or striving toward perfection becomes clear:

To make people happy. That’s what cooking is all about.”

I like this quote because I am occasionally dismayed at how most of what we see regarding cooking and baking these days revolves around competition and whose food is best or whose “cuisine reigns supreme.” There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, but I hope that we as a society don’t start to think that food must be perfect to be worthwhile or that anyone less than a Michelin-starred chef shouldn’t bother spending some time in the kitchen. That’s why I like this quote from one of the most respected chefs in the land – there is no such thing as perfect food – cooking at it’s core is all about making people happy. Appropriate thoughts to bear in mind as we begin to prepare our holiday meals.

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