Episode 19 - Couples Cooking Together - March 9th, 2011

Couples cooking together - and what that means for the supermarket and society, A look at nutrition facts panels through the eyes of a graphic designer, why mindful eating - or slowing down while you eat - is important, and a new vending machine that makes pizza right before your eyes, for the week of March 7th, 2011.

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Show Transcript

Good morning. 

Immediately following Food News Today, we continue with a live discussion in our chat room below. I hope you will join in the discussion.

Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.

Hot Topics: Couples Cooking Together 

So, is it true that couples that cook together stay together? Well I don't think there are many scientific studies on the topic but according to the Centers for Disease Control almost half of all marriages end in divorce, so cooking with your spouse or partner is definitely worth a shot – it’s a great way to bond, and learn new cooking skills – but it also teaches us teamwork, problem solving, and can increase communication as well as uncovering you and your spouses strengths and weaknesses. 

This is exactly the idea of Chef Michael Feker who is on a mission, as I am, to get people back in the kitchen cooking. Chef Michael does this both from his restaurant, IL MITO Enoteca, to his state-of-the-art cooking school, CMF's School of Culinary Magic- where he strives to make healthy cooking accessible to everyone. He recently announced that he was going to focus on getting couples cooking, because those that “Cook Together Stay Together” He wants to ignite a new passion in his guests – it’s a terrific concept and we urge supermarkets to offer couple classes and recipes to be written as such, dividing the tasks between both cooks.

Nutrition Facts Panels – a new eye for design

Nutrition education is everywhere, we are getting tidbits of food related information from just about every angle, on TV, newspaper ads, our friends, kids, co-workers, dieticians; but is this information actually leading to better choices or giving us the practical tools to decide for ourselves if the product is right for us? Well it doesn’t quite seem so – as 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese and the handful of confusing front of package labeling schemes continue to confuse consumers. 

Today I would like to introduce you to Audree Lapierre, a graphic designer with the firm Function, who developed a conceptual redesign of the nutrition facts label with the goal to make it more descriptive,  easy to understand and would empower shoppers to make better choices.

Perhaps it IS time to start with a blank sheet of paper and design nutrition information that aligns with the way all of us learn – the 2011 way.

Health & Wellness: Mindful Eating

Hey there! Slow down! You’re eating way to fast! Sound familiar? Or you’re so into browsing the web, catching up on emails, or your favorite TV series while scarfing down breakfast, lunch or dinner… that you realize that you didn’t even pay attention to the food you were eating and may even be hungry for more. 

According to researchers at Harvard, a small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe even steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices.

Dubbed “mindful eating,” paying attention to our meals even if we haven’t fully prepared them ourselves, could be the one of the tools in our toolbox for battling the obesity crisis. Based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment, these techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic GI difficulties.

Our brain has a direct connection to our gut; digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system. Researchers also believe that eating while distracted (by activities like driving or typing) may slow or even stop digestion- similar to the bodies fight or flight response. Poor digestion reduces our body’s ability to extract nutrients from our food leading to malnutrition. 

So it is time for us to recommend to shoppers that when they sit down to eat, notice the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of foods; chew slowly; and turn of the TV, put away the book and certainly step away from the computer screen- learn to appreciate your meals – they most likely will feel fuller sooner putting that overeating habit to rest. 

Harvard researchers suggest setting a kitchen timer to 20 minutes, taking that time to eat a normal-sized meal. Also something I enjoy doing, use chopsticks if you don't normally use them – it will definitely take you longer to finish your meal. 

So as you prepare for your next meal after today’s Food News Today, step away from the computer, first ask your self if your even hungry and you are, enjoy your meal mindfully. 

In our technology story today – a pizza Vending Machine

If you love delivery pizza your world may be about to change.  The Italians have the solution – Vending machine pizza- made fresh and custom, just for you!

I'm not sure how this will hold up to all of the pizza connoisseurs out there, especially in New York City and Brooklyn – where the famed water takes all the credit for the particularly amazing taste of the dough.The machine uses infrared rays and dispensers tomato sauce and cheese and other toppings if you choose – and it takes just 2.5 minutes for a fresh custom pizza. The machine is scheduled to roll out on the streets of Italy in the next few weeks and if it tests well, the company hopes to expand to all of Europe and then on to the streets of the US. 

And by the way – my favorite pizza joint? The Star Tavern in Orange NJ. What’s yours? It’s time for our weekly chat – so log in and lets start the discussion.

 

For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to foodnewstoday.com to sign up. Next weeks stories will be in your Tuesday email.