News bites
Sound Consumer | August 2001


DHA and brain power?

illustration

A new report suggests that a diet rich in fish and other aquatic foods helped boost the brain power of early humans. According to the report from the National Academy of Sciences, there's evidence that humans 20,000 years ago were eating significant amounts of aquatic foods, including fish, mollusks, and birds. In contrast, the remains of European Neanderthal do not indicate a significant use of inland aquatic foods, but instead shows they obtained the majority of their protein from red meat. Aquatic foods are known to contain higher levels of DHA, a fatty acid proven to enhance brain and eye development.

Researchers led by Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, analyzed the levels of the carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones of early modern humans unearthed in the Czech Republic, Russia, and Great Britain. Those isotopes are thought to be the chemical signature for a diet rich in fish and waterfowl. Stephen Cunnane, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto, called the study "an important finding'' that supports a theory that the brainpower of early humans was boosted by a diet rich in seafood containing DHA. "I am delighted that other researchers are now finding supporting evidence,'' said Cunnane. "We know that DHA was important in the development of the larger brain." (Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences)


Fresh produce on wheels

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Some senior citizens who receive food from the Meals on Wheels program are getting a lift, fresh from the farm. This summer, Meals on Wheels is delivering fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to nearly 500 homebound seniors in King County.

Until now, the program delivered primarily frozen, microwavable food to home-bound seniors and has not included any kind of fresh produce. Officials say some recipients haven't had a piece of fruit in years. They say studies on seniors show that most have chronic diseases that may benefit from nutritional intervention, including a higher intake of vitamins A and C.

The new project is called the King County Senior Market Basket and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new King County program is modeled after the successful Pike Place Market Basket program, which links hundreds of Seattle-area consumers directly with farmers.

Participating farmers will get about 85 to 90 percent of retail prices, compared to about 40 to 50 percent from a wholesaler. (Seattle Times)


Food safety in restaurants

drawing of table

New measures in Ireland soon will allow consumers to choose restaurants and hotels on the basis of their food safety record as well as their menus.

Starting this summer, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland will publish a list of premises that have been served with closure orders and improvement orders. Officials say that consumers paid the tax bill and that they're entitled to this information.

In Canada, the results of some inspections are posted on the doors of restaurants. (The Irish Times)


GE sugar and candy

drawing of candy

Hershey Foods and the M&M/Mars companies have asked growers to avoid planting genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets because many consumers reject foods with GE ingredients.

According to Cropchoice News, the stand by these two companies to please consumers shows that the market for transgenic sugar is limited. The biotech firms who spent millions of dollars to produce GE sugar beet seed are finding it harder to sell their product. (Cropchoice News)

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