For Food On The Go, Bars Are Eating Up The Competition

Dieter, beware: Weight-loss fads can be bad for your health

By Hamil R. Harris , E-mail the writer From the loading dock of the cavernous Capital Area Food Bank, Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri and members of the Divine Grace Mission loaded several carts of frozen meat and fresh vegetables that they would take back to the church and offer to those in need of food. Once at the church, Nwaneri said he would make sure that the meat and vegetables were distributed quickly after all, such precious food shouldnt go to waste. Video Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri of Divine Grace Mission discusses what it’s like to work closely with a food bank to feed those in need. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gerri Magruder, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights, is pictured at the Capitol Area Food Bank. We try to shop very close to the distribution day so the perishables would not spoil, said Nwaneri, who hands out food on the first Saturday of every month. The Maryland pastor is part of a network of more than 500partner agencies that distribute 45 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 people across the Washington area each year. And although the distribution includes bread, cereal and canned goods, there is increasing focus among church food banks to supply fresh vegetables and meat for the good health of those in need. Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage.

The government shutdown means 45 percent of FDA’s workers are furloughed, putting most of the agency’s routine food safety inspections on hold. Susan Walsh/AP/File Enlarge When it comes to the government shutdown, there are plenty of things to feel gloomy and alarmed over. One of the more attention-getting work stoppages so far has been at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where 45 percent of employees have been sent home and many of the agencys day-to-day activities, most notably food safety inspections, are on hold until the budget impasse is over. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition So, 91 percent of seafood that Americans consume, which the United States imports, is not being inspected, currently. The same goes for the nearly 50 percent of fruits and 20 percent of vegetables consumed in the US but imported from abroad. And though many of inspections here in the US are still being carried out through state and local agencies, reporting any problems encountered at the federal level could be difficult. Detection [of problems] wont be the issue,” says Neal Hooker, a professor of food policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University in Columbus.Management of, say, a product recall, and helping local public-health agencies work more effectively, those parts will be harder to do. The government shutdown has closed down a large part of the FDA, and its food monitoring activities in particular. FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities, reads a Health and Human Services memo detailing a contingency plan in the case of a government funding stoppage. FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs, and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making. RECOMMENDED: Government shutdown quiz The FDA will maintain certain emergency services during the shutdown, including managing high-risk food recalls and other critical public health issues, per the memo. But the lack of routine health inspections, and the management oversight of more routine food supply hiccups that the FDA deals with on a day-to-day basis begs two questions: Is the countrys food supply safe without the FDA, and will its temporary shuttering have any lasting effect beyond the government shutdown? Food-safety advocates worry that even a short-term lapse in the FDAs activities could be a notable setback for the agency. The FDA, in partnership with the states, inspects about 80 facilities a day, and theyre not sending people to do those routine inspections, says Caroline Smith DeWaal , the food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington. She notes that individual state agencies, which actually conduct a large portion of inspections, will continue operating, but its unclear how long they can go on without federal oversight and the fees the FDA pays such agencies to conduct inspections on its behalf. The inspections themselves arent the biggest issue, says Dr. Hooker.

World Food Prices Continue to Decline on Cheaper Cereal

So before you load up for the weekend, read the label. Easy doesn’t necessarily mean healthful. In many cases, Walters says, bars are fast food and not so different from the drive-through. What they can do is fit in a pocket or purse and last for a long time in the glove compartment. Long-distance runners can eat them on the course, and busy travelers can make a meal of them on the plane or subway. The popularity of bars “is a perfect reflection of where we are culturally,” says Mollie Katzen, who has been writing cookbooks since the counterculture days. Her latest, “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation,” is out this fall Bar makers are slicing the market to attract very specific customers: dieters on Medifast ; the socially responsible with This Bar Saves Lives (which donates to abate hunger); or athletes with Builder’s Max bar, which has 30 grams of protein, made by the 20-year-old company Clif. Many consumers are looking for protein sources that are cheaper than meat, so that’s one draw, but bars are not necessarily cheap; they can top $5. Whatever happened to packing a sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner, asks Katzen, who says her daughter, a young adult living in New York City, carries bars in her bag because they’re easy. Shane Emmett, chief executive of Health Warrior, which makes Chia Bars, gets that. The former college swimmer now has a baby, runs and even does push-ups in his Richmond, Va., office. “I wish I could make a giant pot of kale for lunch every day, but I’m too busy,” he says. “Americans genuinely aspire to be healthier, genuinely aspire to push back against the modern Western diet, but they are not going to sacrifice taste and convenience.” Many people are, however, willing to sacrifice a meal by substituting a bar.

Government shutdown halts FDA food inspections. Should you worry?

Search Real Time Economics1 October 3, 2013, 10:43 AM World Food Prices Continue to Decline on Cheaper Cereal Print By Neena Rai World food prices fell for the fifth consecutive month in September, driven by falling international prices for cereals, according to data from the United Nations on Thursday, and analysts believe they still have further to fall. Reuters The U.N.s Food and Agriculture Organizations food-price index measures the monthly change in the international prices of a basket of food commodities. While the most recent food price spike in 2011 was triggered by a lack of cereal supply, the recent declines in food prices are mainly due to higher expected supplies of corn this year. The FAO index averaged 199.1 points in September, 1% lower than in August and 5.4% lower since the start of the year. Global cereal production, which includes wheat and corn, is expected to be 8% higher over 2012s level, at 2.49 billion tons. The U.S., the worlds largest corn producer, is responsible for the bulk of the increase, expected to harvest a record crop of 348 million tonsthats 27% higher than the previous year. U.S. corn supplies have been tight since the size of last years harvest was hit by severe drought. But after high acreage seeded with corn this spring and largely favorable summer weather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts record U.S. corn output this year. That should push corn prices lower.