by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Techno-foods

Nov 27 2018

The latest in dietetic junk food

My colleagues who attended the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting and Expo brought back examples of what I love to call dietetic junk foods.

The big trends in such products are gluten-free and allergy-free—apparently without much regard for taste (at least by my standards).

Here is an example of a gluten-free product: 

Check the ingredient list:

Cane sugar, pea starch, potato starch,non-hydrogenated shortening (palm oil, modified palm oil), white rice flour, tapioca starch, water, tapioca syrup, pea protein, salt, pea fiber, natural flavor, modified cellulose, inulin, sodium bicarbonate, sunflower lecithin, beta-carotene (color).

And, in case you were worried, it’s “not a product of genetic engineering.”

To me they taste like chalk, but sweet.

Here’s an example of an allergy-free product:

It too has a long ingredient list:

Organic rolled oats, rice protein crisps (rice protein, rice starch), tapioca syrup, cocoa butter, pearled sorghum crisps, organic caramel (organic cane sugar, water), date paste, brown sugar, dried banana, roasted and salted sunflower seeds (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil, salt) safflower oil, white pearled sorghum flour, popped sorghum.

But this one is remarkable for what it does not contain:

I did not particularly like the texture or taste (off flavors) of this one.

Apparently, the Expo had loads of these.

Why?  Real (relatively unprocessed) foods are less profitable, alas.

Nov 1 2018

Brave new food world: Will you eat these things?

I’ve started taking note of foods and ingredients still in the research phase or soon to come to a supermarket near lucky you.

Some recent examples:

  • Fat replacer made from wood cellulose.  This is designed to be used to make mayonnaise, sauces, dressings, and ice cream, among other foods.  Why?  This won’t have much in the way of calories or saturated fatty acids.
  • Blue salad dressing made from SpirulinaWhy?  It’s “Instagrammable.”
  • Crickets for breakfastInvestigators fed muffins made with dried cricket powder to 20 courageous volunteers.  Why?  “These data suggest that eating crickets may improve gut health and reduce systemic inflammation.”  But note the disclaimer: “more research is needed to understand these effects and underlying mechanisms.”
  • Salmon skin chips.  “The skins are washed and boiled before cooking which rmoves any ‘overly fishy’ taste, and are available in three flavours: lightly salted; salt & vinegar and lime and vinegar.”
  • Insect-based protein supplements for athletes, vanilla flavoredWhy?  “Opportunities in sports nutrition, and particularly in bulk powders, are greater than those in bars right now—especially given existing competition in the insect bar space.”
  • Danish insect buffalo worm bar: Denmark-based Wholifoods has developed a buffalo worm energy bar rich in iron, zinc and magnesium to plug deficiencies and provide holistic sport nutrition stretching beyond protein which is ‘very hyped’, its co-founder says. Read more
  • Danish protein juice: crickets, coffee & mushrooms: Another month, another insect start-up? Maybe, but Danish firm Insekt KBH’s apple, ginger and cricket juice is different: it’s sustainable not only thanks to its ingredients but because it’s produced in Copenhagen’s self-sustaining urban food loop. Read more
  • Wilde Chicken Chips: Wilde Chicken Chips – thinly-sliced premium cuts of chicken tossed in tapioca flour, fried in coconut oil, and seasoned in various spices – reached nationwide availability at Whole Foods and Sprouts stores last month and will be debuting a new flavor early next year that founder Jason Wright believes will make chips a breakfast snack item. Read more
  • Walkers Chips flavored with brussels sprouts or Iceland chips flavored with pine needles:  “We know the sprout debate is one that divides the nation, so we wanted to offer product solutions for both sides of the debate, and ask people to decide whether they are a #SproutLover or #SproutHater,” said Andrew Hawkswell, marketing manager of brand owner PepsiCo.”

Yum.  Can’t wait.

Oct 30 2007

Chocolate is a health food! (well, maybe)

I am so happy to hear that the French chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, is marketing a probiotic chocolate–one packed with friendly bacteria like the kind in yogurt. Only the company claims that chocolate is a better source of probiotic bacteria than yogurt. And you only need to eat half an ounce a day! Chocoholics rejoice! Skeptics roll your eyes! Personally, I like my chocolate unfunctional. File this one under Techno-Foods.