Food researchers at the University of Floridas Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) have unveiled their food-related predictions for 2014. The focus next year will be on higher vegetable consumption, better fruit packaging and food waste reduction.
Here are a few of their food-related predictions:
- Home food preparers will be more sensitive to reducing food waste. One-third or 1.3 billion tons - of food produced is lost or wasted each year.
- Improvements on fruit flavor will continue. Researchers at the University of Florida and the University of California, Davis have conducted modified-atmosphere packaging for fruits such as tomatoes and berries. The packaging involves special polymers that interact with fruit respiration to decrease oxygen and increase carbon dioxide. This process allows tropical and sub-tropical fruits to be held at higher temperatures and avoid chilling that robs them of their flavor. Since the fruit also takes longer to go bad, handlers can wait longer to pick it.
- Better tasting tomatoes are on the way! Harry Kleeand and colleagues at the University of Florida have worked for years on consumer-pleasing tomato flavors and plan to release two taste-pleasing hybrid tomatoes suitable for non-commercial growers.
- Health benefits from garlic and mushrooms will continue. Sue Percival, chairman of the IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition department, along with her colleagues, report that human subjects that consumed an aged garlic extract every day witnessed modest changes in their immune responses during a six-month study. While the garlic did not prevent colds or flu, the symptoms were reduced 30 to 50 percent. In another study, shiitake mushrooms were given to two groups - the first group ate one daily serving the second group ate two daily servings of chopped and dried mushrooms. Both groups blood tests revealed remarkable beneficial changes in their immune-system regulating cytokines and immune function.
- Consumers will focus on more vegetable consumption for better health. While Food Safety Modernization Act requirements will help ensure safer produce, demand may outpace supply and costs will be boosted for growers, packers, grocers and consumers.
Promoting Fruit And Vegetable Consumption
A recent European study concluded that fruit and vegetable consumption reduces all-cause mortality especially cardiovascular disease mortality. The benefits published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that a combined fruit and vegetable consumption of more than 569 grams per day reduces the risk of mortality by 10 percent. It also delays the risk of mortality by 1.12 years compared to consumption of less than 249 grams per day. For every 200 gram increase in daily fruit and vegetable consumption, the risk falls by six percent.
There is now sufficient evidence of the beneficial effect of fruit and vegetable consumption in the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases, says research co-author Maria Jose Sanchez Per, director of the Andalusian School of Public Healths Granada Cancer Registry. For this reason, one of the most effective preventative measures is promoting their consumption in the population.