Chef Kobe Wins The Internet
As the global food supply, restaurants, and everyday folks around the world adjust to pandemic catastrophes, a 1-year-old in the kitchen is helping to bring smiles to people’s faces. “Chef Kobe” has an infectious, outsized personality and his parents began sharing their cooking sessions on Instagram near the end February. While the pandemic dragged on, their account quickly amassed over a million followers. Kobe’s parents, Ashley and Kyle Wian, say they are “all about hands on learning,” and that cooking teaches basic skills. “He investigates new ingredients, feels new textures, learns practical skills like pouring, scooping and measuring,” says Ashley. “That is why this all started…He has fine tuned so many motor skills just by helping me.” The Wians are thrilled that Kobe’s explorations in the kitchen can help people all over the world smile during a time when it’s needed most.
Pitmaster Aaron Franklin Reveals How To Make Real-Deal BBQ At Home
Since Aaron Franklin began Franklin Barbecue with his wife in 2009, he has been devoted to making delicious barbecue, even manufacturing his own barbecue pits. To inspire others to make fantastic barbecue at home, Franklin shares these tips.
Source local wood. Franklin says that barbecue has been homogenized in many ways, and he encourages people of different regions to source wood locally. “…If it’s hickory or it’s mesquite or it’s pecan or if you have red oak or almond…that’s kind of what makes a regional specialty,” says Franklin. “That’s what barbecue used to be—you had different animals and different woods and that’s what made that style. You don’t have to get post oak from Texas, just use what you have.”
Avoid kiln-dried wood. Franklin points out that firewood has to be kiln-dried to legally cross state lines. “They have to heat it up to get rid of bugs and stuff that are in the wood, so that changes the structure,” he says. “That dries it out so much you don’t really get much smoke and everything burns so much faster.”
Use a solid rig. “I’ve been building cookers for about 10 years now and building backyard-size pits I’ve been working on for five years,” says Franklin. He recommends using a steel smoker that excels at holding heat and smoke. “Our smoker is a mini version of what we do here. It’s a six-foot-long, handmade offset barbecue pit with a semi-insulated fire box that fits three briskets. It’s all made out of 5/16-inch steel, so it’s intended to be the kind of thing that you pass down, generation to generation—like a cast-iron skillet.”
Skip the grass-fed beef. The award-winning pitmaster says he prefers not to use grass-fed beef for smoked brisket, claiming it doesn’t have enough fat and some of its gamier flavors don’t mix well with smoke. “I usually would go with Angus as a breed but you could order Wagyu online,” says Franklin. “I would get the fattiest thing from your local butcher. Really, Costco is a good place to go sometimes.”
Lavada Nahon Preserves African American Food History At New York Historic Site
Lavada Nahon is a culinary historian, interpreter, and scholar. She studies both the food of the Mid-Atlantic region and the enslaved cooks who cooked for the upper class. Twenty years ago, Nahon toured the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and fell in love with the home’s wide hearth, where cooking took place. “I cooked over fire in my house growing up, and was a Girl Scout, so that kind of cooking was not foreign to me,” says Nahon. “I wanted to learn how to cook a roast, which is one of the most difficult things about historic cooking. I wrote to the site director and said ‘I’ll volunteer for a year for private time on the hearth,’ and she agreed.”
During her time as a volunteer, Nahon learned that the Van Cortlandt family had enslaved African cooks. “It doesn’t take long to realize that all of these wealthy families owned slaves, and their cooks were enslaved as well,” says Nahon. “I wanted to know who these slaves were, and what were they doing.” Seeking an answer, Nahon found herself cooking and lecturing among many historical sites, while studying the lives of enslaved cooks. Old historical documents such as wills, cookbooks and journals all revealed answers to Nahon’s questions about the lives of enslaved people in the Mid-Atlantic region. Now, she has taken on a new role as the interpreter of African American history for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. “We know that people didn’t grow up on collard greens or sweet potatoes because they didn’t grow here,” says Nahon. “These cooks were making high English-style food, they’re cooking Dutch food. They’re cooking Jewish food and French food; they’re cooking what their owners want them to cook.”
Chef Rick Bayless Urges Voters To Pass New Restaurant Bill
In light of a new restaurant stabilization bill, which would consist of a $120 billion grant program called the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act, or simply, the Restaurants Act., well known chef Rick Bayless is urging voters to champion the cause and help get the bill passed.
The Restaurants Act is designed independent restaurants cope with long-term challenges facing the industry due to COVID-19, and would provide grants to cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues for 2020. “We’re not looking for a handout,” Bayless says. “We’re just asking for people everywhere to recognize us for who we are and what we contribute to Illinois communities. Let your legislators know that when they’re voting on the restaurant stimulus bill that you think we’re too important to let fail.”
James Beard Foundation Announces 2020 Media Award Winners
The James Beard Foundation announced its 2020 Media Award winners online this year. Although the annual in-person gala was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Foundation recognizes the positive impact that the James Beard Foundation Awards can have on the careers of winners in the book publishing, broadcast media, and journalism. Among this year’s highlights, Josh Niland’s book The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think won both Book of the Year and in the Restaurant and Professional category. In broadcast media, chef Roy Choi won Outstanding Personality/Host for his socially conscious video series Broken Bread, and Pati Jinich won in the Television Show in Studio or Fixed Location category for the second year in a row with her TV series Pati’s Mexican Table – A Local’s Tour of Culiacán.
Chain Restaurant Bankruptcies On The Rise
In 2020, ninety-eight bankruptcies were filed by companies with at least $50 million in liabilities year-to-date, the highest bankruptcy rate since 2009. The U.S. arm of Le Pain Quotidien bakery-cafes filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, intending to sell itself for $3 million. The Chapter 11 petition lets Le Pain Quotidien rework debts and execute a sale, with court approval, to Aurify Brands LLC. In late March, the chain closed all of its U.S. locations, and according to chief restructuring officer Steven Flemin, if it wasn’t for the sale, Le Pain Quotidien would have to liquidate its 98 U.S. stores.
Another corporation, FoodFirst Global Restaurants, parent company of the Brio Italian Mediterranean and Bravo Fresh Italian restaurant chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April. According to the company, 71 of its 92 restaurants temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ruby Tuesday, while not filing for bankruptcy, has also reportedly shuttered nearly 150 restaurants since January 2020. As states encourage restaurants to reopen, the pace and volume of sales will determine if those locations remain closed permanently. TGI Fridays has also announced that it will permanently close many of its locations, as the chain suffers its own sales declines related to COVID-19. Toward the start of the crisis, TGI Fridays sales fell quickly, by roughly 80 percent, according to CEO Ray Blanchette. Revenue somewhat recovered after the transition to pickup and delivery. However, revenue is still down about 50%. Most likely, up to 20% of TFI Fridays 386 U.S. locations will be forced to permanently close, according to Blanchette. .
L.A. Dining Rooms Can Reopen – Here’s Why Many Won’t
More than 10 weeks after being closed, restaurants in Los Angeles County have been permitted to open up again. Many are rushing to reopen as soon as possible to generate revenue and avoid closing permanently. Chef-owner Josiah Citrin said he will reopen Charcoal Venice partly because the money he received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program loan is almost gone.
However, while some restaurateurs struggle to reopen safely, many say they will not reopen yet because it’s too soon. Reconfiguring dining rooms, regrouping furloughed employees, and implementing new safety protocols has left them with more questions than answers. “It’s irresponsible of the county to drop this on everyone and not have concise guidelines on how we are supposed to keep everyone safe,” said Ari Kolender, chef and co-owner of Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
Some chefs says it’s also too soon for guests to feel comfortable and safe in restaurants. “I can’t talk my wife into going out to eat, no way,” said Jon Shook, who owns several acclaimed L.A. restaurants, including Animal and Son of a Gun, with Vinny Dotolo. “Vinny and me have been out on the front lines, so to speak, bringing meals to people in need, but even I can’t say I’m going to feel 100% safe and comfortable sitting down to eat with my mask off.”
Cities Close Streets To Help Restaurants Recover With Outdoor Seating
Social distancing requirements have prompted many cities to close public roads and allow both residents and restaurants to use the streets for business and recreation. In Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced last week that the city will permit restaurants to set up tables in public streets and parking spaces and on sidewalks after filling out a simple application. The city also plans to close some streets to ease pedestrian travel.
Authorities in Oakland, California, have also been closing some streets to through-traffic. “The streets are 25 to 30 percent of any city’s land,” said Ryan Russo, Oakland’s director of transportation. “We need to manage the public realm in a way that meets people’s needs in this moment and in the future.” Similarly, in Tampa, Florida, Mayor Jane Castor has advocated for a “Lift Up Local” campaign that would permit restaurants to set up tables in certain public streets.
With Minneapolis Ablaze, One Restaurateur Says “Let My Building Burn”
Minneapolis protestors took to the streets last week to demand justice for George Floyd, a local black man unlawfully killed while in custody by police last week. In cities around the country, Mr. Floyd’s death has sparked similar protests, many of which have resulted in violent clashes between police, civilians, and journalists. In Minneapolis, rioting has continued for nearly a week straight, damaging several popular restaurants, including Addis Ababa, Gandhi Mahal and El Nuevo Rodeo. Restaurateurs are already facing steep financial losses due to forced closures during the pandemic, but some believe strongly that even the total loss of their business pales in comparison to the value of racial justice. Ruhel Islam, the owner of Gandhi Mahal, said “let my building burn.” In a Facebook post, Islam’s daughter Hafsa wrote, “We won’t loose hope though, I am so grateful for our neighbors who did their best to stand guard and protect Gandhi Mahal, Youre efforts won’t go unrecognized. Don’t worry about us, we will rebuild and we will recover.” She added, “As I am sitting next to my dad watching the news, I hear him say on the phone; ‘let my building burn, Justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail.’ Gandhi Mahal may have felt the flames last night, but our firey drive to help protect and stand with our community will never die! Peace be with everyone. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #BLM.”
For more on how restaurants around the country have supported the BlackLivesMatter movement, see Nation’s Restaurant News here, or see Restaurant Hospitality here, or Food & Winehere.
How To Dine Out Safely In Reopened Restaurants
According to Eater, more than 30 states have reopened their dining rooms with a patchwork of guidance from state leaders and federal organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Most recommendations includes operating at reduced capacity, providing at least six feet between tables, wearing face masks, and frequent sanitizing and hand-washing. Robyn Gershon, occupational and environmental health and safety researcher and clinical professor of epidemiology at New York University, points to five key ways that restaurants can reduce risk of COVID-19 for diners: minimizing highly trafficked surfaces, eliminating shared condiments and utensils, improving sanitation, improving shared air supply, and minimizing both staff and diner interactions. For diners, Gershon recommends reducing risk by choosing outside seating, wearing a face mask, maintain a safe distance from other diners, sanitizing surfaces when in doubt, frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and asking for disposable utensils and single-use condiments.
Consumers Buy More Booze, But Alcohol Sales Drop Globally
Alcohol sales from U.S. stores grew 26.5% between mid-March and mid-May compared to the same time last year, according to market research firm Nielsen. Yet while e-commerce sales are growing, analysts say that losses from closed restaurants, bars, festivals, and sporting arenas are quickly eclipsing those gains. Global alcohol sales will drop 12% this year, according to IWSR, a firm that tracks international alcohol sales. The $10 billion travel retail industry has also been hit severely due to travel restrictions. Mark Meek, CEO of IWSR, says 2019 was the “last ‘normal’ year” for the industry for awhile. The firm expects it will take until at least until 2024 to reach pre-pandemic alcohol sales levels.
Argentinian Winemakers Revamp Malbec For Fresher Flavors
Most malbec wine from Argentina bears the signature flavors of dark raisins and blackberry jam. As that dark flavor profile falls out of favor, the country’s winemakers have been shifting away from so-called “fruit bombs” toward leaner, fresher, more food-friendly wines. While traditional Argentinian malbec hovers around 15.5% ABV, new wave malbecs have a lower ABV of 13 to 13.5%.
In Mendoza, at Traslapiedra winery, Juan Facundo Suarez follows the advice of his great-grandfather and tries to avoid “over-ripeness,” striving instead to bottle wines that are low in alcohol and oak, yet high in freshness. At Familia Zuccardi, Sebastián Zuccardi also aims for easy-drinking malbec by aging in concrete instead of oak barrels. Likewise, most of the wines under the Michelini Bros. label balance acidity, texture, and floral aromas with little to no oak. Many of today’s winemakers in Argentina favor shorter aging and less intense extraction to produce lighter malbecs with more snap and zest. And they are well worth seeking out.
The Price Of Fizz Rises As Travel Declines
The bubbles in beer and soft drinks come from added carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of making ethanol. Ethanol is mixed into gasoline by federal mandate, but with drastically decreased air and ground travel due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the demand for gasoline has been low, forcing many ethanol plants to close. As a result, carbon dioxide production has fallen by about 30% compared to last year’s levels, according to the Compressed Gas Association. That has caused the price of carbon dioxide to go up.
A spokeswoman for the Coca-Cola Company reports that the decrease in carbon-dioxide production has been offset by decreased demand for soft drinks in restaurants and stadiums, most of which are still closed. “We do not foresee any concerns about supply at this time,” she said. However, brewing companies are already feeling the pinch. Since April, Vinnie Cilurzo, owner of Russian River Brewing, has been paying 25% more for the carbon dioxide that goes into his company’s beer. Bob Pease, president of the Brewers Association trade group, says that brewers may soon begin passing cost increases on to customers as restaurants and stadiums begin to reopen.
Alcohol Sales Are Up, But Not For Craft Distilleries
According to market research firm Nielsen, alcoholic beverage sales increased 55 percent in the week ending March 2, one of the first weeks of lockdown. Drizly, an alcohol delivery app, also reports sales increases of 485 percent through mid-April. However, inexpensive beer and wine account for most sales increases, according to data analysis firm inMarket. Over the past two months, Anheuser-Busch’s Busch Light sales saw a 44 percent increase. At craft distilleries, the opposite story has been playing out. Craft distilleries rely heavily on tasting rooms, restaurants, and in-person sales, and those companies have experienced widespread sales declines and layoffs, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the American Distilling Institute.
For example, before the pandemic, Virginia’s Catoctin Creek Distilling sold 60 percent of its product to liquor stores and 40 percent to restaurants and bars, according to co-owner Scott Harris. But in April, Catoctin Creek did not sell to a single restaurant or bar. In fact, restaurants returned 80 cases of whiskey to the company. Sales also vanished from tasting rooms, which normally account for 20 to 25 percent of the company’s revenue, according to Harris. While Catoctin had planned to sell 100,000 bottles of craft distilled liquor this year, Harris said he would be lucky to repeat last year’s sales of 60,000 bottles. Some industry experts predict that financial losses and shifting consumer buying habits will cause many craft distilleries to close permanently.
Fire At Fisherman’s Wharf Devastates San Francisco Seafood Industry
Flames higher than 100 feet destroyed a processing and storage warehouse at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend. The fire occurred in Shed C of Pier 45, a storage facility that had 30 tenants. Many tenants allowed other fishers to store gear there, and the facility was home to at least 7,000 crab traps, each priced between $250 to $300. Another 2,000 shrimp traps and 1,000 black cod traps were also lost, according to Larry Collins, who runs the San Francisco Community Fishing Association.
According to fishing industry professionals, millions of dollars worth of fishing equipment were lost in the fire. The losses will hit the Dungeness crab industry especially hard hit as the industry was already struggling to recover from a slow start to the season that began several months ago. In a good year, the Dungeness crab industry can generate over $95 million. However, the industry lost millions in recent years due to whale entanglements and the crabs’ high levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin poisonous to humans. Domoic acid levels tend to increase as climates change and ocean waters rise in temperature. To help offset losses from the fire, San Francisco fishers have begun a GoFundMe campaign to replace their gear.
China Starts Buying More U.S. Agricultural Products
China has begun increasing its imports of key agricultural commodities from the U.S. as part of the trade deal signed in January that aims to end an 18-month trade war. Even though imports are up, China is nowhere near the sales targets proposed under the deal.
The target for phase-one agricultural sales is expected to hit $36.6 billion this year with overall exports increasing to as much as $200 billion over the next two years. So far, China has approved 2,085 U.S. beef, pork, poultry, seafood, dairy and infant formula facilities for exports, the most in history. Pork shipments, in particular, are up 57% since last year at this time, according to USDA data. Soybean sales are up 9% compared to last year and wheat sales have risen dramatically to 225,000 metric tons for this year and 455,000 metric tons committed for next year. China has also approved additional imports of blueberries, avocados, and various barley and hay products.
But these higher sales volumes mask the fact that commodity prices have dropped for most major agricultural products. Targets for the phase-one deal are based on dollar values, so despite increased shipments, China is still falling short of reaching goals for U.S. imports under the trade agreement.
“Miracle” Berries Take Center Stage At Flavor-Tripping Parties
Originating in tropical West Africa, miracle berries from the _ Synsepalum dulcificum _ plant have a peculiar sensory effect: They make sour flavors taste sweet. In 1968, scientists identified the miraculous protein in the berries that causes the effect, dubbing it miraculin. Miracle berries themselves are low in sugar, but miraculin binds to sweet receptors on our taste buds and activates them in the presence of sourness. The sweetening effect lasts until the protein is rinsed away by saliva, up to 30 minutes. Heat and refrigeration denature the miraculin protein so the berries must be eaten fresh to get the effect.
Fresh miracle berries can be found online, and gastronauts have been experimenting with them in combination with various foods at so-called “flavor-tripping” parties. Participants typically chew the fresh fruit, discarding the seed, then taste wine, beer, vinegar, hot sauce, strong cheese or other sour-tasting foods. Some say that hot sauce ends up tasting like spicy doughnut glaze, and goat cheese can taste like cheesecake.
In the 1970s, the FDA labeled miracle berries a “food additive,” permitting them to be grown on U.S. soil but not used in food commercially. Nonetheless, miraculin allows diabetics to taste sweetness without consuming sugar and allows cancer patients affected by chemotherapy to taste a wider range of flavors.
Justice Department Investigates Soaring Beef Prices
Grocery-store shoppers paid 26 cents more per pound for fresh beef in April than they paid in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But ranchers were paid an average of less than $100 per 100 pound for their steers, well below the five-year average of $135 per hundred pounds, according to the USDA. This combination of high consumer price and low payouts to ranchers has the Department of Justice suspicious. In April, Republican senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa along with 19 other senators and 11 states attorneys general, called for an investigation into the price fluctuations. “Something’s not right in the industry,” Grassley said.
This situation is not without precedent. One hundred years ago, the five biggest meat packers controlled 82% of the beef market. The Justice Department intervened, and by 1980 the top four meat packers controlled 36% of the market. But a wave of mergers kneecapped the increased market competition, and by 1988, four companies again controlled 70% of the fresh beef market.
While the dynamics of the fresh beef market precede the pandemic, slaughterhouse closures and increased illness among workers have magnified questions about recent price increases (as of May 15, there were 14,271 reported COVID-19 illnesses among meatpacking employees). According to Kansas State University agricultural economist Ted Schroeder, higher consumer prices are merely a result of supply and demand. Plants are running at about 50% capacity, says Schroeder, and the “bottleneck” of steers ready for slaughter but unable to be processed due to the limited workforce has decreased supply, increased demand, and lead to higher prices.
Nonetheless, ranchers filed an antitrust suit in Minneapolis federal court last year, alleging that the four biggest meatpackers (Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef) are colluding to set prices. Bill Bullard, CEO of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, which represents ranchers now being paid less for their steers, claims the four companies acted “with intent to reduce prices across the board.” The Justice Department is investigating whether the companies communicated to coordinate prices or if they were simply responding independently to each other’s actions in the marketplace.
Japanese Whisky Faces Scrutiny In Absence of Regulations
One of Japan’s leading whisky experts, Mamoru Tsuchiya, says a large amount of Japanese whisky is not actually made in Japan. It’s a disconcerting revelation, considering that Japanese whisky is in high demand around the world with rare whiskies such as Yamazaki 18 Year Old commanding prices upwards of $500 a bottle. Surprisingly, Japan has few rules to define “Japanese whisky.” Japanese companies may purchase spirits in bulk from abroad, label it “Japanese whisky,” then ship it abroad again. Companies may also export aged shochu distilled from various grains to sell in America as whisky. Some “distilleries” even import whisky in bulk then bottle it under various labels.
Since the early 2000s, Japanese whisky has had an increasingly good reputation as brands like Hibiki and Yamazaki have received widespread praise. To meet demand, many distilleries were in need of additional fully aged product and began buying product in bulk abroad, leaving whisky connoisseurs scratching their heads. In response, some distilleries have begun using the term “world blend” to indicate that what’s in the bottle includes a mix of imported and domestic products. To clarify terms, Mr. Tsuchiya’s Japan Whisky Research Centre has proposed a set of rules defining “Japanese whisky.” Under the rules, distilleries using the term would be required to use only grain in their mash, ferment it with yeast, distill it in Japan, then let it age in a wood cask for at least two years.
FDA Rolls Back Ingredient Labeling Requirements During Pandemic
On May 22nd, the Food and Drug Administration announced it would allow food manufacturers to make “minor” substitutions and omissions in food and beverage product labels. This practice would, under normal circumstances, be considered adulteration. However, as the coronavirus crisis has caused “unforeseen shortages or supply chain disruptions”, the FDA does not intend to object to slightly inaccurate food labels.
Substituted ingredients may not include common allergens such as eggs, milk, nuts, buckwheat, and sesame. Nonetheless, consumers and allergy awareness advocates are concerned about potential allergens being included in food and beverage products but not listed on the label. “FDA’s guidance casts doubt on whether those with food allergies can safely and confidently purchase food if labels will not provide necessary information regarding ingredients,” the non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) group wrote in a statement. Get the full story here at The Counter, or here at Miami Herald.
Upcycled Food Association Organizes To Reduce U.S. Food Waste
Upcycling has become a common method of reducing food waste by repurposing food and byproducts otherwise destined for landfills. The Denver-based Upcycled Food Association (UFA) has about 70 member companies that produce roughly 400 upcycled food products. For months, a UFA task force including researchers from Harvard University, Drexel University, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the World Wildlife Fund, and other nonprofit organizations has been working to define “upcycled foods.” On May 19, the UFA issued its final definition: “Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment.“
The global economy loses more than $940 billion a year due to food loss and waste, according to a study by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Now a single definition for “upcycled food” allows the development of new product categories in the food industry to reduce waste. Upcycling advocates say upcycled foods could cut over 70 billion tons of greenhouse gases generated by food loss and waste as well as create new jobs.
MIND Diet Shows Promise In Helping Ward Off Dementia
Currently, 5.8 millions Americans live with some form of dementia, a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss and an inability to perform certain tasks. While anecdotal and “soft” evidence has shown a correlation between diet and lifestyle and dementia, scientific studies have not yet established a link. Now, two new studies are investigating the connection between diet and lifestyle choices and the mitigation of dementia’s effects.
The first study centers on the MIND diet, a mashup of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Developed by the late Martha Clair Miller of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, the MIND diet prioritizes leafy greens over other vegetables, antioxidant-rich strawberries and blueberries over other fruits, and olive oil over butter or margarine while minimizing sweets and fast food. In 2015, Miller published a study showing that adults who followed the MIND diet were cognitively 7.5 years younger than their non-MIND diet peers. The new study will last three years, and participants will be tested to see if there is similar correlation between the MIND diet and cognitive function.
The second study, called U.S. POINTER, follows a Finnish study called FINGER. This trial focuses on lifestyle changes: Researchers will study the mental health effects of not only diet but also exercise, social stimulation, and management of risk factors for heart and vascular disease. This study, funded in part by the Alzheimer’s Association, is expected to release results by the end of 2022 or early 2023, and like the MIND diet study, could provide a blueprint for dementia mitigation programs.
Millions of American Children Still In Need As Hunger Program Stalls
Pandemic-EBT, an emergency hunger program Congress created two months ago, has only assisted a small fraction of the 30 million children it planned to help. The program issues electronic payment cards for families to buy groceries in the absence of school meals they once relied on but are no longer being provided. Collecting lunch lists from thousands of school districts and transferring them to state computers, often-outdated, has proved to be a big challenge, stalling the Pandemic-EBT program.
Congress initiated the program in mid-March as part of the Families First act. Roughly 30 million children qualified for benefits, but by May 15 only about 4.4 million or 15 percent of them had received benefits. If the program overcomes its distribution challengers, families in need could receive as much as $10 billion. Congress has yet to approve an extension of the program through the summer. The House included an extension in a $3 trillion aid package, but it was rejected by Republican leaders in the Senate. Supporters says the cards could be a solution to the summer hunger that afflicts children every year in the absence of school meals. .
How To Stay Safe With Takeout And Delivery
Restaurants across the U.S. have begun to reopen with outdoor and/or indoor seating, but for those who don’t want to cook at home, takeout and delivery remain the most widely accessible options. Are takeout and delivery safe? Public health experts generally say “yes,” and weigh in with specific advice.
Which is safer, takeout or delivery? “The safest choice is going to be the one that avoids contact with the most people,” according to Donald Schaffner, an extension specialist in food science at Rutgers University. For that reason, delivery remains the safest option, especially since online ordering is a contactless transaction. To minimize risk with takeout, pay in advance if possible, maintain a safe distance from other patrons, and ask restaurant staff to place food down before you pick it up.
What about packaging? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that although the coronavirus can survive and spread on surfaces, the risk is relatively low. “Even if an infected person did touch a package,” says John Williams, chief of pediatric diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh, “the risk of transmission is slim.”
Takeout utensils also pose a low risk, but if you are concerned, you can use your own utensils at home. Experts also say it’s not worth worrying about what food to order. There is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmissible via food. It transmits from person to person, so the bigger concern is the safety of restaurant workers. If you are concerned when ordering, ask the restaurant what measures it is taking to keep workers safe, such as wearing masks and gloves and maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Food Insecurity To Affect 54 Million Americans, Analysts Say
Record numbers of Americans face hunger this year, as economic setbacks in the wake of COVID-19 leave tens of millions unable to afford adequate food to feed their families. An estimated 1 in 4 children could need food aid this year, a 63% increase compared to 2018. In total, approximately 54 million Americans may lack access to affordable and nutritious food this year, according to an analysis by the national food bank network Feeding America. “If the numbers stay like this, no way food banks can cope, it’s beyond our capabilities, a lot will depend on how long federal help lasts,” said Michael Flood, president of the Los Angeles Food Bank, which has distributed an average of 80% more groceries since the pandemic began.
Parental Restrictions Lead To Picky Eating, Study Says
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics followed over 300 parent-and-child pairs for five years and found that restricting food or demanding that a child eat was associated with the most picky eating behaviors in children. Less picky eating was associated with fewer parental food restrictions and fewer demands that a child eats.
Families who participated in the study were eligible for the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program, according to the study’s senior author Dr. Megan Pesch, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. This means the families were living at or below the poverty level for a family of four. In the study, children were categorized by levels of pickiness, including low, medium, and high pickiness. Roughly 15% of the children in the study belonged to the “high” picky eater group, meaning the children were nervous about new foods and frequently would not eat vegetables.
Parents responded to questionnaires when their children reached the ages of 4, 5, 8 and 9. In the study, picky eating was clear by age 4 and continued through the five years of the study. Child health experts say the best time to introduce new foods to a baby is at six months, when the baby starts eating solid foods, adding that a variety of foods should be offered through the formative toddler years. The study showed that picky eating was associated with lower body mass index, confirming the findings of previous studies that picky eating does not cause weight gain. “Picky eaters do generally tend to eat high-carb, high-fat, hyper-palatable processed foods more,” said Dr. Pesch. “Yet studies have really shown that in developed countries, like the United States, we don’t see many — if any — micro-nutrient deficiencies in picky eaters.”