by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Grains

Jul 23 2020

Exciting development in sustainable food: wheat fertilized with human urine

I cannot resist sharing this item from BakeryAndSnacks.com:

Waste not, want not: Bizaare [sic] ingredient adds nutritional and environmental benefits to our daily baguette:  French scientists claim that baking bread with wheat fertilized with human urine could slash nitrogen usage from artificial fertilizers, cut costs for farmers and boost yields, and retain nutrients often lost…. Read more

French scientists can’t bear the thought of wasting all the nitrogen excreted in urine, and have done a study showing its nutritional and ecological value.

Valoriser l’azote et le phosphore de l’urine pour une meilleur sécurité écologique et alimentaire. Pruvost-Bouvattier, M., Vialleix, M., Jovéniaux, A., Exculier, F., 2020. Note rapide de l’institut Paris région n°858.

I suppose we could all go out and pee on our gardens if it weren’t for those pesky pathogens we might be excreting.

Bizaare is not the name of the company eager to do this.

Well, it’s been a bizarre kind of week.

Stay healthy.

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Jul 9 2020

One way to help farmers: CSAs

While we are seeking ways to support farmers and feed hungry people, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a good model.  Civil Eats ran an especially interesting article about it.

CSAs are rooted in Black farmers in the South: In the 1960s and 70s, farmer and Tuskegee University professor Booker T. Whatley began advocating for what he called “Clientele Membership Clubs.” In the mid-1980s, two farms in New England started what has now become the model for today’s CSAs: small-scale farmers invested in agricultural stewardship, organic and other sustainable practices to build direct relationships with consumers. The idea is simple: members pay a small fee up front and commit to buy produce throughout a season…the CSA provides a sustainable financial model for farmers…In return, CSA members get regular boxes of fresh, local produce delivered to neighborhood pick-up spots…Today there are close to 13,000 CSAs across the country listed by USDA’s 2012 farm census data.

My partner and I belong to a bread CSA run by Stefan Senders’ Wide Awake Bakery.

Deliveries these days are in the middle of a parking lot for a mall that’s mostly closed.  The rule: masks and 6-food distancing.

Sometimes the lines are very long, but the bread is worth waiting for.

In addition to its world class bread, Wide Awake now provides sour dough starter, flour, and recipes, along with a how-to guide to dealing with this new member of your family.

The bakery uses grains grown locally.  So it is helping farmers.

CSAs aren’t for everyone.  Not everyone can afford to pay for food in advance.  But helping this bakery stay in business seems good for everyone, as do CSAs in general.

Jul 1 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: grains exonerated!

Perspective: Refined Grains and Health: Genuine Risk, or Guilt by Association? Glenn A Gaesser.  Adv Nutr. 2019 May 1;10(3):361-371.

Conclusion: This literature analysis illustrates a pitfall of attributing health risks to specific food groups based primarily on analysis of dietary patterns. With regard to refined grains, a large and consistent body of evidence from meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies suggests that the assumed health risks are largely a consequence of guilt by association with other foods within the Western dietary pattern, and not to refined grains per se.

Funding: Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by a grant from the Wheat Foods Council and Grain Foods Foundation. Author disclosure: GAG is a member of the scientific advisory boards of the Grain Foods Foundation, the Wheat Foods Council, and Ardent Mills.

Comment:  The author set out to counter a recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that to improve dietary quality, it’s better to replace most refined grains with whole grains.  Refining whole grains removes the great majority of their vitamins, minerals, and fiber (fortified flour replaces some of the nutrients, but not all).  Furthermore, refined grains are the main ingredients in many ultra-processed junk foods that promote overeating calories and raise risks for chronic disease.  Wheat per se may not be the problem, but what about the foods made from it?  I keep thinking: “grain-based desserts,” the number one contributor to calories in the American diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines.

Why do studies like this?  So the Texas Wheat Association can issue this headline: “New study exonerates refined grains.”

Want details and references on these contentions?  I provide them at length in Unsavory Truth.

Oct 11 2018

Annals of marketing: “Free from.” A Bakery & Snacks Special Edition.

From the daily industry newsletter, BakeryAndSnacks.com, I learned that “free from” is an entire marketing category.  Here is its collection of recent articles and videos on the topic.

Special Edition: The rise of free from

What is driving the free-from trend – grain-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, fat-free, and so forth – and will it have legs? Which businesses are already tapping demand for free-from snacks and bakery products? We look at the alternatives the traditional snack ingredients, and who supplies them. Also, a peak into the manufacturing challenges in creating snacks and baking in the free-from category.

Jul 31 2017

Bakery and Snacks Special Edition: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free

BakeryandSnacks.com is another industry newsletter I subscribe to for keeping me up to date on what’s happening with baked goods and snacks.

Special Edition: Is grain-free the new gluten-free?

Grain-free may still be niche but it’s gaining traction among consumers who perceive it as the next step to better health. ‘Going completely grainless’ is becoming increasingly popular among consumers who are moving away from processed foods and incorporating natural ingredients, such as nuts, legumes and pulses, into their diets that boost their intake of proteins and minerals. The grain-free trend is an extension of the gluten-free trend, which is predicted to reach $4.35b by 2013 in the US, according to MicroMarketMonitor.

And just for fun, I’m adding this fascinating one from the B&S daily feed:

Aug 1 2016

Food Navigator Special Edition: Pulses, seeds and grains

Food Navigator is an industry newsletter with articles about topics of interest to food companies.  This is one of its occasional collections of columns on a particular topic, in this case, beans, seeds, and grains.

Beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils are now appearing as added value ingredients in every part of the store, from chips and snacks to salads, soups, pastas, dips and baked goods. Non-GMO, gluten-free, high in protein, fiber and micronutrients, and low in fat, beans in particular are undergoing a PR renaissance among consumers, who have been eating them for years in tacos and burritos, but now see them as a more wholesome alternative to soy, rice, corn and potatoes in their snacks. So where will they go next, and who is driving innovation, both from a formulation, and branding perspective? We also take a look at ancient and ‘heirloom’ beans and grains.

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