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Every county and congressional district in the United States experienced some level of food insecurity in 2020, according to Feeding America’s annual Map the Gap report. The rate of food insecurity ranges from 3% in Bowman County, N.D., to 46% in Presidio County, Texas.
While the overall national food insecurity rate was its lowest since the Great Recession at 10.9% in 2019, the rate increased to 11.8% in 2020. This represents 38.3 million individuals living in a food-insecure household.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Feeding America releases its Map the Gap report annually to help identify areas of need in food security.
According to the report, eight of the 10 counties with the highest levels of food insecurity are located in the South. The states with the most insecure counties include Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Additionally, food insecurity rates are higher among Black/Latinx individuals than among white individuals in 99% of counties, and child food insecurity rates are as high as 40% in some counties.
The report explains that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food equality problems in the United States. Feeding America goes on to give policy recommendations based on the report, including strengthening federal food programs and bolstering child nutrition programs, especially in the summer months.
When it comes to ice cream, U.S. consumers favor the familiar, a new survey from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) shows.
IDFA polled ice cream makers and scoop shops as well as consumers and found that chocolate, vanilla, and cookies and cream remain in the top five for both groups, similar to results of a 2017 survey. Strawberry and chocolate chip were new additions to the top five lists.
“America’s love for ice cream knows no bounds,” said Michael Dykes, IDFA president and CEO, in a press release. “Comforting and satisfying as an indulgent treat, ice cream production and consumption grew throughout the COVID pandemic, and sales continue to set a blazing pace at grocery stores, scoop shops, and corner stores.
The survey not only showed the favorite flavors of ice cream, but also how consumers like to eat their ice cream. For example, waffle cones are more popular than sugar cones, but 37% of consumers prefer to eat ice cream out of a bowl. Chocolate and caramel were the most popular sauce-based toppings, while nuts and sprinkles were the most popular dry toppings.
Top 5 Flavors: Ice Cream Manufacturers/Scoop Shops
Top 5 Flavors: Consumers
The Halloumi cheese market is expected to grow by more than 12% over the current decade, with an estimated value of $900 million by 2030, according to Fact.MR.
Traditionally found in Cyprus, Halloumi cheese is made from a combination of goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk. The cheese has a high melting point and a “squeaky” texture, so it can be easily grilled or fried. Halloumi is seen as a high-protein alternative to meat and is high in calcium.
According to Fact.MR’s report, the Middle East and Europe are expected to share more than 70% of the global Halloumi market within the next decade. Additionally, recent government approval to import dairy products into China is expected to push growth in Asia and the surrounding Pacific regions.
The report notes several factors for Halloumi’s increasing popularity, including a growing affinity for Mediterranean foods among millennials and an increase in retail opportunities for the product. For example, McDonald’s UK launched Halloumi fries in June 2022, and Violife’s plant-based Halloumi became available in Sprouts locations in December 2021.
Cyprus remains the top manufacturer and exporter of Halloumi cheese. The name “Halloumi” is now a registered trademark in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, and Jordan.
With shifting snacking habits and increased consumer interest, Halloumi is poised to have a big impact on the dairy industry in coming years.
Psilocybin is growing in popularity among consumers, and it may be beneficial to one’s mental health, according to a recent research study. Researchers at the University of British Columbia studied the effect of microdosing psilocybin on mood and mental health and observed positive results.
Microdosing is the regular self-administration of a psychedelic substance in small enough doses that normal cognitive function is not impaired. Psilocybin is the most common substance used in microdosing practices and is commonly combined with dried lion’s mane mushrooms.
The study included 1,113 participants, 953 of whom were practicing microdosers and 180 who were not. Participants performed a baseline assessment of their mood, depression, anxiety, and stress at the beginning of the study. Microdosers then self-administered small amounts of psilocybin (with or without the lion’s mane mushroom) three to five times a week. A follow-up assessment was conducted 22–35 days later.
According to the results of the study, microdosers experienced greater improvements in their depression, anxiety, and stress on their follow-up assessment than non-microdosers. Additionally, microdosers experienced a greater increase in a positive mood than non-microdosers. These results stayed consistent across gender and age.
With this study, the researchers hope to expand the discussion of microdosing and allow for more studies into its practices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently added sorghum to its Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs.
The USDA’s Food Buying Guide, or FBG, is a primary resource for school nutrition programs to ensure that menus comply with the USDA guidelines. It assists foodservice providers with purchasing the correct amount of food for child nutrition programs and assessing the meal pattern requirements of the program.
According to a press release, the USDA implemented a new requirement on July 1, 2022, mandating that at least 80% of the grains in school breakfast and lunch menus be whole-grain rich. Sorghum is seen as a solution for school foodservice providers for the coming school year.
Sorghum is a high-protein, nutrient-rich, gluten-free ancient grain found primarily in Australia, Asia, and Africa. It is growing in popularity in North America, and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) believes that this addition to the FBG will help grow consumer awareness.
“The inclusion of sorghum in the Food Buying Guide is a monumental win for sorghum producers as we continue to develop new markets for our crop,” said USCP Executive Director Norma Ritz Johnson in a press release. “Sorghum’s inclusion in the guide is pivotal in our efforts to increase its visibility and ease of use among foodservice professionals, as well as the students they serve, and the industry is excited to deliver this nutritious whole grain to the plates of America’s schoolchildren.”
IFT member Rachel Mitacek has joined MGP Ingredients as a senior scientist supporting Ingredient Solutions R&D. She brings research experience in traditional meat and plant proteins, including work with novel plant protein ingredients used as dairy and meat substitutes.
Mitacek is studying for her PhD in food science at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research in the university’s Plant Protein Innovation Center includes protein extraction optimization, as well as structural and functional characterization for a variety of emerging plant protein ingredients. Mitacek also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science from Oklahoma State University. She was a second place winner in the IFT Protein Division Oral Research Competition in July 2021.
IFT member Max Pombert has been promoted to director of process development and commercialization with Sokol Custom Food Ingredients.
Pombert has held several positions at Sokol, most recently as Sokol’s director of R&D. He has also held positions in food science and product development at companies such as Baldwin Richardson Foods and Tone Products. He earned a master of food science degree from the University of Illinois and a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics from Northern Illinois University.