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Want Your Food to Taste Better? Post it on Instagram

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Taking picture of food

Do You find the seemingly endless stream of food pictures posted on Instagram annoying? Well, you’re not alone in feeling that way about so-called food porn, and it’s a perfectly normal, especially when its pictures of delicious but downright unhealthy food that doctors and nutritionists forbid.

Shockingly, a series of studies has found that posting pictures of food on the popular social media platform may actually make food taste better!

Conducted by researchers from the University of San Diego and Saint Joseph University, the first of the studies involved 120 participants and tested their perception of taste with and without ‘Instagramming’. They used two kinds of food: an indulgent type in the form of red velvet cake and a healthy type in the form of a fruit salad.

They found that those who took the time to take a picture of the red velvet cake and posted ii on Instagram found it more delicious than those who eat it right away. With the healthier food (fruit salad), however, there was no difference in perception of taste both for those who Instagrammed it and those who didn’t.

A second study explored the difference between photographed healthy and indulgent foods. Giving the participants the same red velvet cake — this time, branded either as being indulgent or more healthful — and asking them to photograph it, the researchers found that the participants who were led to believe their cake was made with rich ingredients like decadent cream-cheese frosting rated it higher than those told the cake was made with relatively less appetizing items — applesauce, egg whites, low-fat frosting, etc.

It’s with the third study that the perceived difference between healthy and indulgent foods began to converge. Once the participants were made aware of the fact that others are also eating healthy foods, taking a picture of healthy food before eating it made them happier campers.

In other words, scanning through #cleaneating pictures of steamed broccoli and kale smoothies on Instagram and other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook could actually trick you into enjoying them more than you otherwise would. However, like everything in life, too much food porn is not necessarily good.

University of Toronto Women’s College Hospital Dr. Valerie Taylor explains that religiously taking pictures of each meal is not only annoying but also could signal a dieting problem. In an interview with The Huffington Post, she said when food becomes a central component of a person’s life, it potentially indicates an unhealthy preoccupation with food, which is generally linked to eating disorders and weight gain.

So the next time you find yourself about to react to the latest food posting, just remember that you might have some deep-seated food problems. Either that or you trying to trick your body into thinking that nasty but healthy food you’re avoiding is delicious.

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Diet & Health

Here’s What The Future Of Food Could Look Like

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Food Sensor Chip on Teeth

Devices like tooth sensors that measure sugar and alcohol intake, as well as monitor other health qualities, could revolutionize the food industry as we know it.

From new technologies detecting specific ingredients and allergens in food to the expansion of cell-cultured meat, the list of emerging technologies that help consumers understand what they are eating grows by the day.

According Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future’s Food Futures Lab, “the future is already here, and it’s about time the food industry faced it head first.

Elder believes that for Consumer packaged goods companies to prepare for new challenges, they will need to “work backwards” to come up with strategies for creating the industry they want.

Computer Circuit Chip Apple Fruit

The Future Of Food Technology

Too many of today’s packaged foods are filled with empty calories, and people are no longer able to rely on their five senses to get accurate information about what they’re eating. Products labels have traditionally been relied upon to provide said information, but they could be misleading and are often difficult to understand.

In fact, a 2018 study by the Center for Food Integrity also found that only 33% of survey respondents “strongly agree” that they are confident in the safety of the food they consume. Such a high level of distrust has prompted the development of a new suite of technologies that help consumers make better-informed decisions about their food, “radical” technologies that Elder says will likely be widespread over the next decade.

Examples of such devices include an ingestible sensor being by Carnegie Mellon University that monitors gastrointestinal health and a tiny tooth sensor from Tufts University that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake.

But before sensors in guts or on teeth become ubiquitous, Elder said they will likely be situated outside the body. Chinese search engine company Baidu, for instance, has developed smart chopsticks that can detect the freshness of cooking oil.

Those suffering from celiac disease will find Nima especially useful. Nima is a small portable machine that uses a sensor to test for trace amounts of gluten when crumbs are placed into it, and the namesake company behind its creation is developing variants of the technology for other allergens, including peanuts and shellfish.

While the food knowledge consumer can gain from such new technology could pose a challenge to food companies, but it is also an opportunity for brands to get more information on what eaters want and tailor their products, services and communication accordingly.

Slab of red meat

More Sustainable, Humane Meat

We can’t talk about the future of food without mention of the lab-grown meat industry, which has the potential to expand despite regulatory setbacks.

There has been a rapidly growing movement towards and major investment in exploring more cellular food systems, and while it’s too early to know if cultured meat is as healthy or nutritious as conventionally-produced meat, the segment could potentially be a major part of the food of the future.

According to Paul Shapiro Author of Clean Meat and former vice president for The Humane Society of the United States, clean meat is better for the environment than raising and slaughtering animals, whether conventional, grass-fed or free-range. Instead pouring tons of resources into raising an entire animal that won’t be eaten in its entirety — horns, eyeballs, hooves, brains, etc. all go to waste — growing meat in a lab only results in the parts and calories consumers need.

The lab-grown meat industry is still in its infancy and the market is small, meaning cell-cultured meat commands a price premium over conventional meat. However, if the industry can eventually achieve price parity, the only issue it will have to contend with is how comfortable consumers are with eating meat produced in a lab.

Traditional Farming

Meeting Environmental Values

There has been a growing demand for transparency in the food industry, and many consumers desire to know what is in their food and actively look for ecolabels that align to their values (Fair Trade, Non-GMO, etc.). An increasing number of individuals are also reading the label to look for names they recognize and trust before they make a purchase.

That’s to say companies will have to cater to consumer’s environmental values more so than ever but must do so with caution. Not fully understanding the environmental impact of new types of food production could lead to some companies making claims they may not be able to hold up.

Like everything in life, the food industry is undergoing a transformation, and most certainly for the better. The future looks promising for the health- and environmentally-conscious consumer.

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Food Research

Over 4 In 10 Americans Open To Trying Cannabis-Enhanced Foods

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Cannabis Edibles Foods

More than 40 percent of North American consumers are willing to try foods made with cannabis recreationally if available.

A survey of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians carried out by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney highlights the growing interest in cannabis-infused food and drinks.

In the survey, participants were asked which cannabis-containing products they or someone they know have tried in areas including food, smoking, vaping and beverages. Approximately 58% said yes for food, 12% for alcohol and 10% for nonalcoholic drinks such as juice, water, tea or coffee.

The results were echoed by an earlier study by Dalhousie University, which found that 46 per cent of Canadians said they would try cannabis-infused food products if they became available on the market. A 2017 Gallup poll showed that 64 per cent of Americans support legalization.

Over 85 percent of those surveyed said they would have an improved or neutral perception of their favorite brand if it were to launch a product containing cannabis, indicating that companies introducing products with cannabis ingredients would see an improvement in public perception.

Randy Burt, a partner in A.T. Kearney’s consumer and retail practice, stated:

“The survey clearly demonstrates the viability of the market for cannabis across multiple consumer segments – CPGs and retailers focused on health and wellness, snacking, functional food and beverage, and beverage alcohol need to have a perspective on how they will approach the cannabis opportunity.”

Interestingly, consumers expressed more willingness to try candy, chocolate snacks and packaged foods than non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks; yet, it’s the beverage sector, especially beer, that has been the most aggressive in investing and preparing for a cannabis future.

Concerns over more consumers turning to marijuana instead alcohol for relaxation is perhaps the driving force behind the push.

Canada legalized marijuana on October 17, 2018, while ten U.S. states have legalized the psychoactive drug for recreational use.

Judging by current trends, America might be at the tipping point on legalizing cannabis at the federal level, which could open up additional markets for marijuana-related products.

Like it or not, the future looks bright for the cannabis industry.

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Diet & Health

Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples

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Apple on tree

Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.

New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.

Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.

A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.

Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the ‎University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.

The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.

The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.

So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.

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