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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

At the beginning of the year, IFIC Foundation staff blogged about some of their resolutions for 2011. As the year comes to an end, we look back at how well (or poorly) we did.

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By: Eric Mittenthal   Date: 12/27/11

Last week, my colleagues and I had an opportunity to visit the “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam” exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC. “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam” looks at the government’s role in what Americans eat over the years. It’s a fascinating look at the history of our food in the U.S. and I was struck by the evolution of our food system, the differences in our food today, and the many similarities as well.

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By: Christine Bruhn, PhD   Date: 12/23/11

Too many people get the 24 hour flu during the holidays. Was it really the extra hugs and kisses, or did an unexpected intruder barge into the holiday meal? The holidays are a time when family and friends come together to visit and enjoy a delicious meal. Keep in mind that bacteria would love to grow on you delicious holiday foods. Foil them! Follow the basic food safety guidelines of clean, chill, cook and separate to keep you and your loved ones healthy!

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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD   Date: 12/22/11

Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions, but most people fail to turn those resolutions into results. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released USDA’s SuperTracker, a free online tool designed to help Americans make healthful food and physical activity choices - just in time to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions.

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By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, International Food Information Council Foundation   Date: 12/20/11

I love food . . . and, growing up in West Virginia, I especially love Southern food! This past weekend, I had an amazing opportunity to enjoy Southern cuisine at Bon Appétit magazine’s Best New Restaurant in America: Husk Restaurant, which is located in a beautiful historic house in Charleston, South Carolina.

Husk made me feel right at home when I noticed an appetizer of grilled crostinis with pimento cheese, country ham, and pickled West Virginia ramps on the menu. Noting some of my previous blog posts on “Understanding Our Food” and various Farm to Fork resources, there could not be a more perfect example of food processing using southern ingredients – including ramps – for this West Virginia girl! Needless to say, I had a most delicious meal.

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By: Dr. Christine Bruhn, University of California, Davis Date: 12/16/11

Note: Dr. Christine Bruhn is the Director of the Center for Consumer Research and Consumer Food Marketing Specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis. She has authored over one hundred forty professional papers on consumer attitudes toward food.

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By: Sarah Romotsky, RD Date: 12/14/11

We’ve all seen the tragic pictures of starving children in Africa or heard stories about hungry people around the world, but what about in America? Although it’s not a picture or story we are exposed to often in the media, hunger in America is more real than many of us realize.

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By: Eric Mittenthal   Date: 12/12/11

A couple of recent stories in the media brought a great deal of attention to food “addiction.” Is it possible that a cupcake could be as addicting as cocaine or other substances of abuse? While the stories implied that, the science does not support that conclusion.


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By: Ashley Chrisinger   Date: 12/9/11

On July 13th, 2011, I became a mother. That date also marks the day that I moved into the population of people who don’t have time to “work out.” I’ve never had to think about exercise from this mindset. In the past I enjoyed long runs, long bike rides, and racquetball tournaments at the gym with my husband. With baby in the picture, however, the money I would have otherwise spent on a gym membership goes instead towards the exorbitant cost of daycare. On top of that, my child’s daycare isn’t open long enough for me to fit in baby-free exercise before or after work.

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By: Emily Izer, University of Maryland Dietetic Intern Date: 12/7/11

As a dietetic intern, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webcast hosted by IFIC entitled “Getting to the Bottom of the Omega-6:Omega-3 Confusion.” The lecture was given by Dr. William Harris, a foremost fatty acid expert, to over 700 participants all wanting the scoop on the latest recommendations for omega-6 and omega-3. I was also looking to update my knowledge on this complex topic, and by the end of the presentation I was pleasantly surprised at the simplicity of Dr. Harris’ recommendations

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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD and Meghan Ames, Dietetic Intern, Johns Hopkins University Date: 12/5/11

With over two thirds of Americans struggling with being overweight or obese, it seems an appropriate time to not only talk about but take action to increase our physical activity levels. As health professionals who have counseled many different types of weight-loss clients, we have gained some insight into what works and what doesn’t. In reflecting on the fitness industry’s role in health, here are some thoughts for consideration…

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By: Tony Flood Date: 12/2/11

Arsenic is naturally occurring and is found throughout our environment. It’s in the ground, the soil, the water and in the air we breathe. Since arsenic can be found naturally in our environment, we shouldn’t’ be surprised to learn that arsenic can be found in our food supply in very small amounts. As with many naturally occurring compounds, they are normally part of the soil and water in which we grow and harvest our food.

So, why the big fuss about over arsenic?

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Note: This blog is part of our new series called "From the Pantry" which will take a historical look at the food we eat and the culture around food.

By: Liz Williams, Southern Food and Beverage Museum Date: 11/30/11

In my last blog I talked about some of the cultural habits that we have developed that contribute to overeating, mindless eating, and eating from boredom. The most important cultural habit that we should embrace before it vanishes with our busy lives is the family meal. It is good for the person who prepares the meals and good for the person who eats it.

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By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

Over the past two weeks, media coverage of America’s school lunches has – thankfully – gone from worse to wonderful. First, the pizza-as-veggie headlines erupted into ridiculousness after Congress voted on November 17th to make some changes in the proposed rule for new USDA school meal standards.

For the record,“Congress did not declare pizza as a vegetable.” Tomato paste did become one more topic for partisan political bickering In DC, as outlined by the St. Petersburg Times Truth-o-Meter on November 22nd.

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By: Betanya “Mimi” Alemu, University of Maryland Dietetic Intern   Date: 11/23/11

It’s November and Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s time to consider all the planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, serving and wrapping leftovers without being traumatized.

The Meal
Every year my family gathers at my older sister’s house. We all come with our appetites ready for the unveiling of the food, and when it’s ready, everyone’s excitement just suddenly appears, almost as if we were all secretly waiting for that single moment since we arrived.

Eating on Thanksgiving is like running a marathon you haven't prepared for," my step-father jokes. Every year we load up the plates full of every possible item, all the while thinking, "Of course I can eat all this." Halfway through the process, the realization hits us. "What were we thinking?"

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By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, International Food Information Council Foundation   Date: 11/22/11

On Saturday, I was in Atlanta with several hundred middle and high school student leaders, parents, and teachers as part of the 2011 National Cluster Meeting of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), a network of over 205,000 members in nearly 6,500 chapters in the 50 states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. We had a fun time talking about “Understanding Our Food” and the “9 Billion-People Question” and how they can be part of the solution.

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By: Katie Burns Date: 11/18/11

Yesterday, in anticipation and preparation for Thanksgiving, we at IFIC took to Twitter with our friends from the National Turkey Federation for our second annual #turkeychat. We covered a lot in the one-hour Twitter chat, from Thanksgiving preparation to what to do with leftovers; however, the most important message we covered is the importance of being food safe. Thanksgiving finds many first-time chefs who many not be familiar with the steps involved in preparing a delicious and safe meal. There are also many extended families who gather around the table, which may mean grandparents and grandchildren, both of whom are at an increased risk of foodborne illness. Read on to find out how you can be sure your meal is nutritious, safe and enjoyable!

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By: Tony Flood Date: 11/16/11

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and thanks – a time to be thankful for the bountiful blessings of life, family and home. It is especially memorable for the festivities and memorable celebrations where the meal is the special guest and is welcomed by family and friends.

If you’re like my family, Thanksgiving and all other large dinners are meant to be enjoyed and not to be feared. We’ve never been afraid of food. However, news of a recent report might cause some to ask questions and keep many from enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. A new report by the Breast Cancer Fund is yet another of the many generated to cause unnecessary concern for families who just want to enjoy a safe, nutritious and memorable dinner this Thanksgiving.

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By: Emily Yu, MS candidate at American University Date: 11/15/11

Did you know that, according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined? This November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Staggering research findings from the International Diabetes Federation estimates that someone dies from diabetes every 7 seconds. These numbers project that if we do not make a change, by 2050 as many as 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes!

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By: Terry Fleck, CAE, Executive Director, Center for Food Integrity Date: 11/9/11

Food Choices - Challenges – Realities was the theme for the Center for Food Integrity’s recent annual gathering in Chicago which was co-hosted by IFIC and the National Restaurant Association. It was our largest, most diverse group in the five year history of this event, possibly reflecting the growing challenges created by the public’s growing interest in what they eat and how it is produced.

We chose this theme because each of us is working to balance the choices, challenges and realities we face every day whether as a consumer or in our role in the food system. An outstanding lineup of speakers and panelists brought meaningful perspective on a wide array of issues.

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