Ants, Seaweed, Chocolate Beer And (Maybe) Less Meat: The Future Of Food – Barbara J. King August 31, 201712:46 PM ET

Amarita/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Over the millennia, our ancestors continuously developed new techniques and technologies that enabled them to find, eat, and cook meat and plants — and in coastal populations, marine resources, too.

At the same time, archaeologists tell us that our species has had at least a “9,000-year-old love affair with booze,” as National Geographic puts it, with ancient prowess in making wine and beer. (Some anthropologists suspect a much longer history of alcohol consumption in our primate ancestors, in the form of readily available fermented fruits.)

In what directions will humans’ signature innovation and versatility lead us in the future, regarding eating, drinking, and cooking?

This question is at the heart of British food writer and brewery owner Daniel Tapper‘s new series of blog posts for the magazine issued by London’s Borough Market — a market located near London Bridge with a 1,000-year-old history of its own.

I’m attracted to this mental exercise because — just like it’s always been throughout our evolution — it’s our ability for innovation that will help us cope with coming challenges in food security, sustainability, and ethics. Tossing around ideas and predictions is a way to jumpstart that process.

So what are people saying to Tapper about the future of food?

Norwegian chef and hygge mentions entomophagy: In 100 years, she says, we’ll think nothing of eating ants.

British chef and writer Florence Knight envisions a turn to “wild food,” that is, foraging for wild ingredients. And we’ll be eating much less fish: “The treatment of our seas is heart-breaking and I’m pretty certain that by the time my children grow up, seafood will be a rare delicacy.”

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Eating These Foods Makes Men More Attractive to Women – By Marta Zaraska | SA Mind January 2017 Issue

Women prefer the scent of men who eat diets rich in certain foods—including garlic!

Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to your love life, the impact of your diet could go beyond having a few extra pounds around the waist—what you eat may also influence how pleasing your body smells to members of the opposite sex. Scientists have long observed such a link in animal research—female salamanders are attracted to males that eat nutrient-rich diets, for example—and something similar may be true in humans, some preliminary studies suggest.

In a series of experiments published in 2016 in Appetite, 42 men snacked on raw garlic or swallowed garlic capsules, then wore cotton pads under their armpits for 12 hours. The same men also donated pads after wearing them on a garlic-free diet. The pungent samples were later evaluated by 14 women, who collectively rated the body odor of garlic eaters as more pleasant, attractive and masculine compared with that of men who did not ingest any garlic. The men needed to eat at least four cloves or one 1,000-milligram garlic-extract capsule to have a measurable effect. Because garlic enhances levels of antioxidants in the body and kills harmful bacteria, it could change the way our sweat smells, signaling healthiness to potential mates, the researchers hypothesize. “Women may also use cues in body odor to find a partner who can secure quality food,” says ethologist Jitka Fialová of Charles University in Prague, the study’s lead author.

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Americans Don’t Trust Scientists’ Take On Food Issues – DAN CHARLES December 2, 2016 “5:02 PM

Non-GMO labels, like this one at Whole Foods, may strengthen consumer perceptions that genetically modified foods may carry risks to health. ordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Non-GMO labels, like this one at Whole Foods, may strengthen consumer perceptions that genetically modified foods may carry risks to health.
ordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images`

Non-GMO labels, like this one at Whole Foods, may strengthen consumer perceptions that genetically modified foods may carry risks to health.

ordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

If you’re curious about what people really think about some of the hottest of hot-button food controversies, the Pew Research Center has just the thing for you: a survey of attitudes toward genetic modification, organic food and the importance of eating healthfully.

The survey results are published in a 99-page report that can keep you occupied for days. But if you’re pressed for time, here are some of the most interesting highlights that caught our eye.

1. A lot of Americans don’t care what scientists think about GMOs

For instance, 39 percent of the survey participants believe that genetically modified foods are worse for your health than non-GM food. However, there’s essentially no scientific evidence to support that belief — a conclusion confirmed most recently by a National Academy of Sciences report. Among the relatively small group who say they care about the issue of GM foods “a great deal” (16 percent of the public), three-quarters believe that GMOs are bad for your health.

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The One Thing President Obama Could Have Done to Fix Food—But Didn’t – TOM PHILPOTT OCT. 21, 2016 6:00 AM

Recipe wizard Mark Bittman dishes on how the next president could overhaul the system.


17 – Mark Bittman’s Recipe for the Next Presidency

00:00 /25:08

Like a huge plow roaring through a prairie, the 2016 presidential election has broken plenty of new ground. We’ve had a national conversation about a nonexistent sex tape involving a former Miss Universe; we’ve debated whether boasting of groping women’s genitals amounts to “locker room talk” or the admission of a crime; and we’ve entertained the idea that one of the major candidates might, if his campaign is successful, have the other one tossed in jail.

But like nearly every election before it, the current one has been nearly 100 percent free of any debate around the federal government’s massive role in shaping and regulating the food system. To get a grip on the vital food and farm issues we’re not hearing about, I interviewed Mark Bittman, the legendary home-cooking master and pundit. Back in 2015, Bittman stepped away from a four-year stint as an editorial columnist for the New York Times—a forum he used almost exclusively to weigh in on food and farm policy. He remains deeply involved with the topic, though, serving as a fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists Food & Environment Program.

Bittman’s political analysis is as direct and pungent as that classic “Minimalist” dish of his, fried chickpeas with chorizo and spinach. He offered a harsh analysis of how President Barack Obama dealt with food and farm issues, echoing a recent New York Times Magazine piece by Michael Pollan. The current president once “talked a fairly decent game on changing the food system,” Bittman said, “but did virtually nothing in eight years.”

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The Ominivore’s Guilt Trip Is there anything to buy in the market that isn’t bad for you, or bad for the world? – By Adam Platt July 10, 2016 9:00 p.m.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at Jul 11, 2016 3.51

Photograph by Bobby Doherty

There are still a few people around, I suppose, who remember when culinary fashions had an innocent, slightly carnivalesque feel. Menus were the size of mortar­boards. Many were inscribed with baroque French lettering instead of the urgent buzzwords of our relentlessly artisanal age (“line-caught,” “locally grown”). Members of the insular, eccentric food community spent their evenings discovering exotic new “delicacies” from as far abroad as possible ­(Hunan! Lyon!), and marveling at quaint inventions like engorged duck livers and translucent foams tipped with gold leaf. Gold leaf hasn’t appeared on stylish menus for years now, of course, and the stuff is probably toxic anyway. It’s been replaced by a whole universe of simpler but equally snobbish gourmet signifiers — the perfect asparagus, the perfect tomato. In this Slow Food era, the grandest, most self-important home chefs talk in grand, self-important tones about composting techniques, and food snobs are more likely to quote Michael Pollan on the perils of mass corn production than, say, Escoffier on the proper proportion of flour to milk in a béchamel. Even microwave-savvy junk-food cooks have begun looking for organic mac ’n’ cheese.

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Amazon to Expand Private-Label Offerings—From Food to Diapers – By GREG BENSINGER Updated May 15, 2016 8:03 p.m. ET

The first of the brands could appear on the company’s website in coming weeks

The first of Amazon’s new private-label brands could start appearing online in the coming weeks. Shown, a 1.1-million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Tampa, Fla.

The first of Amazon’s new private-label brands could start appearing online in the coming weeks. Shown, a 1.1-million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Tampa, Fla. —  Photo: Robert Galbraith/Reuters Inc. in the coming weeks is set to roll out new lines of private-label brands that will include its first broad push into perishable foods, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new brands with names like Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear will include nuts, spices, tea, coffee, baby food and vitamins, as well as household items such as diapers and laundry detergents, these people said.

The first of the brands could begin appearing on Amazon’s namesake site as soon as the end of the month or early June, said one of the people.

Amazon has been working to develop the new private-label lines for several years and had approached branding consultants and manufacturers including TreeHouse Foods Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported last year.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.

Consumers have warmed to private-label brands since the days of generically named products sold in plain white packaging. Today, retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Sephora to Dean & DeLuca sell a range of in-house brands that some may even view as higher quality.

Store brands reached $118.4 billion in U.S. sales last year, up about $2.2 billion from the prior year, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

Amazon’s latest lineup is aimed at winning sales in niches with generally higher profit margins, as well as giving the Seattle retailer a potential edge in crafting new products ahead of its own vendors.

“Amazon is ‘carpet-bombing’ the market with new products,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of brand consultancy Brick Meets Click. “Private label allows them to test out new prices and distinctive flavors with less risk.”

Mr. Bishop said private-label goods boast higher profit margins than name brands because companies save costs on marketing and brand development. And with Amazon’s rich trove of data, it may better predict which products will sell well to its customers.

Amazon only will offer the private-label products to members of its $99-per-year Prime membership, this person said, potentially giving the program a boost.

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Food companies distort nutrition science. Here’s how to stop them. – by Julia Belluz on March 3, 2016

About a year ago, Marion Nestle finally got sick of the rotten state of nutrition science.

Sarah Turbin/Vox

Everywhere she looked, she found glaring conflicts of interest. “Without any trouble, I could identify industry-funded nutrition studies by their titles,” says the New York University professor. “It was so obvious.”

Nestle kept seeing studies with very specific names, like, “Concord grape juice, cognitive function, and driving performance,” or, “Walnut ingestion in adults at risk for diabetes.” These papers were funded by the food industry — a grape juice maker, walnut growers — and nearly always reached glowing conclusions about the food in question. (Study: Concord grape juice can make you a better driver!)

Nestle had been researching nutrition long enough to know that there’s rarely clear evidence that specific foods have such miraculous health effects. Healthy eating patterns can have a positive impact, yes. But independent researchers seldom discover that, say, a single food like walnuts can help stave off diabetes, as this study found.

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Sarah Turbin/Vox

Why (almost) everything you know about food is wrong – by Julia Belluz on January 2016


There was a time, in the distant past, when studying nutrition was a relatively simple science.

In 1747, a Scottish doctor named James Lind wanted to figure out why so many sailors got scurvy, a disease that leaves sufferers exhausted and anemic, with bloody gums and missing teeth. So Lind took 12 scurvy patients and ran the first modern clinical trial.

The sailors were divided into six groups, each given a different treatment. The men who ate oranges and lemons eventually recovered — a striking result that pointed to vitamin C deficiency as the culprit.

This sort of nutritional puzzle solving was common in the pre-industrial era. Many of troubling diseases of the day, such as scurvy, pellagra, anemia, and goiter, were due to some sort of deficiency in the diet. Doctors could develop hypotheses and run experiments until they figured out what was missing in people’s foods. Puzzle solved.

Unfortunately, studying nutrition is no longer that simple. By the 20th century, medicine had mostly fixed scurvy and goiter and other diseases of deficiency. In developed countries, these scourges are no longer an issue for most people.

Today, our greatest health problems relate to overeating. People are consuming too many calories and too much low-quality food, bringing on chronic diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Unlike scurvy, these illnesses are much harder to get a handle on. They don’t appear overnight; they develop over a lifetime. And fixing them isn’t just a question of adding an occasional orange to someone’s diet. It involves looking holistically at diets and other lifestyle behaviors, trying to tease out the risk factors that lead to illness.

Today’s nutrition science has to be a lot more imprecise. It’s filled with contradictory studies that are each rife with flaws and limitations. The messiness of this field is a big reason why nutrition advice can be confusing.

It’s also part of why researchers can’t seem to agree on whether tomatoes cause or protect against cancer, or whether alcohol is good for you or not, and so on, and why journalists so badly muck up reporting on food and health.

To get a sense for how difficult it is to study nutrition, I spoke to eight health researchers over the past several months. Here’s what they told me.

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Here’s a Diet That Actually Works—and Has the Science to Prove It – —By Tom Philpott | Mon Nov. 2, 2015 5:00 AM EST

Fat-free fro yo: maybe not the way forward. 

Low-fat dietary dogma—and, by extension, the plethora of processed junk the food industry conjured up to indulge it—has passed its sell-by date. But cutting down on sugary foods can trigger rapid health improvements.

Those are the messages of two studies released last week. For the fat one, a team of Harvard researchers scoured databases looking for randomized, controlled trials—the gold standard of dietary research—comparing the weight-loss effects of low-fat diets to other regimens like low-carb. They found 53 studies that met their criteria for rigor.

Lustig is a proponent of the idea that all calories aren’t created equal—specifically, that added sugars do more harm than fats, starches, and complex carbohydrates.

The result, published in the British journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: low-carbohydrate diets “led to significantly greater weight loss” than did low-fat ones. People assigned low-fat diets tended to lose a small amount of weight compared to no-change-in-diet control groups, but cutting carbs delivered better results than reducing dietary fat. “The science does not support low-fat diets as the optimal long-term weight loss strategy,” lead author Deirdre Tobias of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School said in a press release.

The study marks the latest indication that your fat-free fro-yo habit is not likely doing you any favors by cutting your fat intake. But its sugary jolt may be doing more harm than you already thought. That’s the suggestion of another new study, published in the journal Obesity, by a team led by longtime sugar critic Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist in at the University of California at San Francisco.

For 10 days, the kids ate catered meals with caloric amounts equivalent to their previous diets but with all foods with added sugars removed, replaced with starches. Their overall sugar intake went from 28 percent to 10 percent (representing naturally sweet foods like fruit). Lustig summarized the results in an op-ed:

Diastolic blood pressure decreased by five points. Blood fat levels dropped precipitously. Fasting glucose decreased by five points, glucose tolerance improved markedly, insulin levels fell by 50%. In other words we reversed their metabolic disease in just 10 days, even while eating processed food, by just removing the added sugar and substituting starch, and without changing calories or weight. Can you imagine how much healthier they would have been if we hadn’t given them the starch?

It’s important to note that the results are suggestive, not conclusive. Unlike the studies conglomerated in the low-fat paper, Lustig’s project did not include a control group.

But both the Harvard study and Lustig’s reinforce an emerging consensus that fat is not necessarily a dietary devil, while quaffing sugar at typical US levels might just be.

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