Happy Wednesday/Hump Day/April Fools Day!
This past Saturday, Annabelle and I attended the Future of Food and Nutrition Conference at the Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. It was basically a symposium for graduate students around the country to share current research and as well as panels and guest speakers about where the fields of nutrition and food are headed. It was a great conference, and much better than studying. These up and coming news stories are much more interesting to me than memorizing the protein requirements of premature infants (while I'm sure that will be applicable someday- I sure hope so!).
There were several presentations of note. Lorien Urban from Tufts spoke about under-reporting of calories in national chain resturants. The mean difference in actual and reported calories in 41 restaurant items and frozen meals was an 18%! Frightening, especially for those trying to lose weight. Moral of the story-if the calorie count seems too good to be true-it probably is. Solution-stay away from fast food and coporate chain restaurants, not just for that, but also for the lower quality and overal nutritional quality of their food.
Of course, the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) were represented. Alicia Harvie, also from Tufts showed that because of subsidies to allocated in the 1996 Farm Bill, corn wet millers saved 97 million dollars, subsequently increasing the amount of HFCS in our food. Today HFCS represents 40% of all caloric sweeteners, the majority of which is in sodas. Fortunately Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are shifting from HFCS to sugar-its amazing that in the US companies can make a "health claim" by adding white sugar to their product! Many believe that increased consumption of HFCS is closely related to our increasing obesity epidemic because high levels of fructose don't signal the production of leptin, leading you to believe that you are not yet satiated, and causing continued eating and eventual weight gain. Also there's the potential of Mercury contamination. Best to be Avoided. For more information I highly recommend these sites: The Science Behind Fructose in the Body : HFCS Free : Alicia's Publication HFCS increase Heart Disease in Women
There were many posters and students talking about the individual projects they are working on. It was really motivating. I love being in a field that is constantly changing, evolving, shifting. This also opened me up to the possibility of research in my future-we'll see!
The conference wrapped up with a dynamic panel of Robert Paarlberg, of the USDA, Susan Roberts, a RD, and speaker on food systems, and Mark Winne, executive director of Hartford Food System and author of "Closing the Food Gap" (which I highly recommend if you are interested in hunger in our land of plenty). Things got a little tense as Paarlberg and Roberts debated their opposing views on the most "sustainable" type of agriculture-the ol' GMO vs Organics debate. It was a very stimulating conversation and forum.
My hero Michael Pollan spoke at Tufts a week ago, and unfortunately tickets to non-students went like hot-cakes before I could snag one. They did have an overflow room I could have snuck into, but I figured I'd better not skip class when I could just see it all online. Sure enough, the entire lecture and Q&A is up here. I totally agree with what he says, and if you haven't already read them-put Omnivore's Delimma and In Defense of Food on the top of your reading list!!