Category Archives: Culture & Trends

Docs in Aprons, Chefs in Scrubs

Food stepped back into fashion with farmers markets and smart chefs. Beguiled by scrumptious stalks and orange spice, we were seduced not scared.  But now we fear fatty cows. Food isn’t just a hot date anymore and we’re wondering where to turn.

Well, food as medicine is forging new alliances these days—savvy, healthy alliances—from medical schools and culinary institutes to local restaurants and global symposiums. Help is on its way.

Though a 2010 study from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that two-thirds of disease is preventable through healthy lifestyle choices, only about a quarter of medical schools had even a single course devoted to nutrition. That was then.

Today at least four major universities, including Tulane and Baylor College of Medicine, are putting med students in aprons and discussing topics once taboo—like cooking and cancer, yoga and prevention.

In March, celebrity chef David Bouley partnered with Wegman’s supermarkets to co-sponsor a New York City lecture by Dr. Thomas Campbell, T. Colin Campbell’s son and co-author of The China Study . The host was Bouley’s trendy Next Door restaurant which served up a healthy four-course meal.

And on the west coast, physicians, nutritionists and healthcare execs join world class chefs for an annual Napa Valley conference co-sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and The Culinary Institute of America.

Imagine four days of hot science peppered with cooking classes and lip-smacking healthy meals. What a feast!

 

 

 

Eggless in America

Would you like your plants poached or fried this morning?

That question may be up sooner than we think. Earlier this month I posted a blog about Hampton Creek, a San Francisco start up backed by Bill Gates and other luminaries that created Just Scramble, a plant based egg substitute.

This week, news of massive egg shortages in the fallout of avian flu has corporate food giants knocking down that company’s doors. As much as one third of U.S. egg production is broken down for use in thousands of products from hotdog buns to pancake mix.

At least a dozen companies, including McDonald’s and General Mills, are now seeking Hampton Creek’s products to meet their quotas. Ironically, they may include Unilever, the maker of Hellmans’ mayonnaise, who unsuccessfully sued Hampton Creek over their right to use the word “mayo” in Just Mayo – their first eggless product released last year.

According to a May 21st report in the New York Times, the flu is forcing farmers to kill more than 38 million infected birds, 33 million of which are laying hens.

Bill Gates knows a hot trend when he sees one, but no one could have predicted this massive flu, which is being tagged the biggest livestock crisis in U.S. history. More reasons—and more urgent reasons—for all of us to consider the benefits, short term and long, of a whole foods plant based diet.

 

Plant Based Egg Poaches Big Pots

The egg has been a controversial orb for decades. Should we eat them daily, eliminate the yolk, or never poach one again? Recent debate over the newest round of U.S. Dietary Guidelines has people rehashing breakfast again.

A small group of plant-based inventors on the West coast are sidestepping the issue entirely—but not without homage to a classic American meal. Dubbed Just Scramble, the product is a plant protein prototype created by three chefs under the umbrella of Hampton Creek, a small tech company who produced Just Mayo, an eggless alternative to Hellman’s and other popular brands.

The firm has raised nearly $30 million from investors who include Bill Gates, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and Asian entrepreneur Li Ka-shing. According to the Washington Post, “this eggless innovation is being designed to compete against and even outperform the humble egg.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Diet Overcooked

The Paleo lifestyle is hardly trending anymore. Between January and March of 2012, two medical panels and a number of articles have  pointed out shortcomings  in Paleo’s nutritional values and cast doubt on a society’s ability to replicate primitive diets in a contemporary world.

The U.S. News & World Report publishes annual rankings of various diets based on evaluations by a panel of doctors and health experts who assess a range of factors including weight loss, ease of adherence, and health risks. This year, Paleo ranked 34 out of 35, far behind the vegan diet at 19 and even various classics like Atkins, South Beach and the Zone.

At the same time, the federal committee advising the 2015 Dietary Guidelines panel is recommending that Americans take most red meat off the table. Some of their reasons are echoed in a review of pertinent research published in late April by a dietician in the Huffington Post. The author notes that even the best Paleo studies to date consider only short-term risk factors, leaving disease and death rates in question while ignoring some of the best data on the long term hazards of consuming red meat.

Glycemic Index Aside, this Doc Goes Vegan

Dr. David Jenkins is a Canada Research Chair in nutrition, metabolism and vascular biology, a professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, and scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. In addition, he is the first Canadian recipient of the Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.

Dr. Jenkins is a frequent subject of worldwide news, particularly in Canada, but recent reports have more to do with his change of mind than his list of accolades. Dr. Jenkins, who also happens to be the lead architect of the glycemic index, announced recently that his personal lifestyle of choice is plant-based. Though his research inspired some of the most famous diets in the U.S.—Atkins, The Zone and South Beach to name a few—he is now stepping into the arena himself, by proposing a global revolution in the way we eat.

For his reasons why, and an overview of Canadian perspectives on plant-based nutrition, check out this article from Toronto’s Globe and Mail.