Originally created 07/22/98

Small portions: News and notes from the world of food



Less nutritious

Don't bother looking for fruit in fruit-flavored yogurt. There is none, says Muscle & Fitness magazine. Citing a Wellness Report from the University of California at Berkeley, it says that fruit-flavored yogurt is made with jam, which is not a significant source of nutrients. In fact, because the jam reduces the actual amount of yogurt in the container, those flavors have less calcium, protein and other nutrients than plain yogurt, or flavors such as vanilla, lemon and coffee. And the jam adds the equivalent of 8 to 9 teaspoons of sugar per cup -- nearly as much as a can of soda. If you want fruit-flavored yogurt that is nutritious, Muscle & Fitness suggests adding fruit to plain yogurt.

Nuttin' to worry about

Good news for all of you nut nuts: Eating whole almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat, can significantly lower the risk of heart disease -- even with total fat consumption well above current dietary recommendations, researchers report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The study also found that the fat content of almonds does not necessarily result in weight gain. This adds to the rapidly growing body of evidence connecting almonds and other nuts with coronary health.

Vintage stampede

Many wine lovers are finding that even the least expensive French Bordeaux wines have gotten too expensive for their tastes. As a result, French winemakers say, consumers increasingly are switching to Cotes-du-Rhone, Roussillon, or wines from other countries. "The situation is becoming serious," said one Bordeaux wine trader. "Producers have to watch out that they can offer value for money. Consumers will not pay a lot extra just for the name. They will buy something else."

Tastes of home

Now, when you're away on vacation or a business trip, you can have all the comfort foods of home. Inter-Continental hotels have added pot roast, meat loaf, fried chicken and mashed potatoes to their room-service menu.

Farm-fresh taste

Does the abundance of fruit at your local farmers' market make you think jam? Or, maybe you dream of rows of glass jars filled with peeled tomatoes and sprigs of basil. Go straight to http://foodsafety.org/canhome.htm.

At this U.S. Department of Agriculture site, you'll find everything you need to know about preserving and canning. The CanHome site even has instructions for what to do when your jam doesn't jell.

Marketing at its best?

It appears that the latest trend in food marketing and advertising revolves around animals. Cute, talking, emotional, computer-assisted animals. For the moment, let's call this trend "animal food marketing."

Is there a consumer in America who doesn't look forward to the next Taco Bell TV spot featuring that now famous heartbreaking, lizard-catching Chihuahua?

The question is where this animal food marketing will take us and whether it will take us to the store to buy the brands they are pitching?

Remember all the hoopla with Dalmatians when Disney released the 101 Dalmatians movie? It seemed there were Dalmatians on every block. There now seem to be more Chihuahuas than ever, but where will they be in a few months? Probably waiting in the Screen Actors Guild unemployment line.

Animals and babies (let's not even discuss the proliferation of computer-enhanced babies in advertising) sell food. Or at least they have historically. Now that we can easily and cheaply get these two to talk, dance, wink, smile, sing, and to do just about anything an art director can imagine, will they lose their effectiveness?

For sure, a clever spokes-animal will attract attention. Only a few well thought out campaigns will actually get consumers to buy, no matter how clever that dog's smile is!