The Science Behind Grilling the Perfect Steak

Summer has arrived, and it’s time to fire up the backyard grill. Though many of us are trying to eat less beef for environmental reasons, it’s hard to resist indulging in an occasional steak — and you’ll want to make the most of the experience.

So, what’s the best way to grill that steak? Science has some answers. Meat scientists (many of them, unsurprisingly, in Texas) have spent whole careers studying how to produce the tenderest, most flavorful beef possible. Much of what they’ve learned holds lessons only for cattle producers and processors, but a few of their findings can guide backyard grillmasters in their choice of meat and details of the grilling process.

Let’s start with the choice of meat. Every experienced cook knows that the lightly used muscles of the loin, along the backbone, have less connective tissue and thus give tenderer results than the hard-working muscles of the leg. And they know to look for steaks with lots of marbling, the fat deposits between muscle fibers that are a sign of high-quality meat. “If you have more marbling, the meat will be tenderer, juicier, and it will have richer flavor,” says Sulaiman Matarneh, a meat scientist at Utah State University who wrote about muscle biology and meat quality in the 2021 Annual Review of Animal Biosciences.

From a flavor perspective, in fact, the differences between one steak and the next are mostly a matter of fat content: the amount of marbling and the composition of the fatty acid subunits of the fat molecules. Premium cuts like ribeye have more marbling and are also richer in oleic acid, an especially tasty fatty acid — “the one fatty acid that frequently correlates with positive eating experience,” says Jerrad Legako, a meat scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Sirloin, in contrast, has less oleic acid and more fatty acid types that can yield less appealing, fishy flavor hints during cooking.

That fatty acid difference also plays out in a big decision that consumers make when they buy a steak: grain-fed or grass-fed beef? Grain-fed cattle — animals that live their final months in a feedlot eating a diet rich in corn and soybeans — have meat that’s higher in oleic acid. Animals that spend their whole life grazing on pasture have a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids that break down into smaller molecules with fishy and gamy flavors. Many consumers prefer to buy grass-fed beef anyway, either to avoid the ethical issues of feedlots or because they like that gamy flavor and leaner meat.

The biggest influence on the final flavor of that steak, though, is how you cook it. Flavorwise, cooking meat accomplishes two things. First, the heat of the grill breaks the meat’s fatty acids into smaller molecules that are more volatile — that is, more likely to become airborne. These volatiles are responsible for the steak’s aroma, which accounts for the majority of its flavor. Molecules called aldehydes, ketones and alcohols among that breakdown mix are what we perceive as distinctively beefy.

The second way that cooking builds flavor is through browning, a process that chemists call the Maillard reaction. This is a fantastically complex process in which amino acids and traces of sugars in the meat react at high temperatures to kick off a cascade of chemical changes that result in many different volatile end products.

Most important of these are molecules called pyrazines and furans, which contribute the roasty, nutty flavors that steak aficionados crave. The longer and hotter the cooking, the deeper into the Maillard reaction you go and the more of these desirable end products you get — until eventually, the meat starts to char, producing undesirable bitter, burnt flavors.

The challenge for the grillmaster is to achieve the ideal level of Maillard products at the moment the meat reaches the desired degree of doneness. Here, there are three variables to play with: temperature, time and the thickness of the steak.

Thin steaks cook through more quickly, so they need a hot grill to generate enough browning in the short time available, says Chris Kerth, a meat scientist at Texas A&M University. Kerth and his colleagues have studied this process in the lab, searing steaks to precise specifications and feeding the results into a gas chromatograph, which measures the amount of each volatile chemical produced.

Kerth found, as expected, that thin, half-inch steaks cooked at relatively low temperatures have mostly the beefy flavors characteristic of fatty acid breakdown, while higher temperatures also produce a lot of the roasty pyrazines that result from the Maillard reaction. So if your steak is thin, crank up that grill — and leave the lid open so that the meat cooks through a little more slowly. That will give you time to build a complex, beefy-roasty flavor.

And to get the best sear on both sides, flip the meat about a third of the way through the expected cook time, not halfway — that’s because as the first side cooks, the contracting muscle fibers drive water to the uncooked side. After you flip, this water cools the second side so it takes longer to brown, Kerth’s team found.

When the scientists tested thicker, 1.5-inch steaks, the opposite problem happened: The exterior would burn unpleasantly before the middle finished cooking. For these steaks, a moderate grill temperature gave the best mix of volatiles. And sure enough, when Kerth’s team tested their steaks on actual people, they found that diners gave lower ratings to thick steaks grilled hot and fast. Diners rated the other temperatures and cooking times as all similar to each other, but thick steaks cooked at moderate temperatures won out by a nose.

That might seem odd, given that steakhouses often boast of their thick slabs of prime beef and the intense heat of their grills — exactly the combination Kerth’s study found least desirable. It works because the steakhouses use a two-step cooking process: First, they sear the meat on the hot grill, and then they finish cooking in a moderate oven. “That way, they get the degree of doneness to match the sear that they want,” says Kerth. Home cooks can do the same by popping their seared meat into a 350°F oven until it reaches their desired doneness.

The best degree of doneness, of course, is largely a matter of personal preference — but science has something to say here, too. Meat left rare, says Kerth, doesn’t receive enough heat to break down its fatty acids to generate beefy flavors. And once you go past medium, you lose some of the “bloody” flavors that come with lightly cooked meat. “A lot of people, myself included, like a little bit of bloody note with the brown pyrazines and Maillard compounds,” says Kerth. “It has a bigger flavor.” For those reasons, he advises, “I wouldn’t go any lower than medium rare or certainly any higher than medium. Then you just start losing a lot of the flavor.”

Kerth has one more piece of advice for home cooks: Watch the meat closely when it’s on the grill! “When you’re at those temperatures, a lot happens in a short period of time,” he says. “You start getting a lot of chemical reactions happening very, very quickly.” That’s the scientific basis for what every experienced griller has learned from (literally) bitter experience: It’s easy to burn the meat if you’re not paying attention.

Happy scientifically informed grilling!

Source: The Science Behind Grilling the Perfect Steak | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine

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Critics:

Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side. Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat and vegetables quickly. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill (an open wire grid such as a gridiron with a heat source above or below), using a cast iron/frying pan, or a grill pan (similar to a frying pan, but with raised ridges to mimic the wires of an open grill).

Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily through thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. In the United States, when the heat source for grilling comes from above, grilling is called broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is through thermal radiation.

Direct heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma and flavor from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).

Studies have shown that cooking beef, pork, poultry, and fish at high temperatures can lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines, benzopyrenes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are carcinogens. Marination may reduce the formation of these compounds. Grilling is often presented as a healthy alternative to cooking with oils, although the fat and juices lost by grilling can contribute to drier food.

References:

  • AngryBBQ. Not sure what about barbecue makes Mike and Jannah Haas angry, but they have a nice little blog.
  • Barbecue Master. Based in NC barbecue country, Cyndi Allison has been writing about barbecue and teaching it for more than a decade. Check out the links to her other websites and blogs.
  • Barbecues & Grilling at about.com. Derrick Riches is a self taught cook who has learned a lot and he passes it along in this large and deep reference.
  • Barbecuen. Articles and ideas on everything from grills to cooking elk.
  • BroBBQ. A blog of recipes, product testing, fun by Jack Thompson.
  • BBQDryRubs. The site is a nice hobby site from David Somerville covering more than rubs. He focuses on Weber gear and the sausage section is good.
  • BBQ FAQ. An astonishing compilation of wisdom from scores of serious cue’ers. The only problem is that the mailing list of participants has been dissolved so you can no longer sign up. Also, a lot of the links are broken. Still, the knowledge there is timeless.
  • BBQ Sauce Reviews. He likes sauce. Some better than others. See if you fave is on his 5-star list.
  • Braai 4 Heritage. In South Africa they call it braai, and everyone barbecues. They even have a National Braai Day!
  • BBQ Specialties. A nice little blog with recipes.
  • Cooking Outdoors. Gary House is fearless as he cooks everything on his grills, even pies and bread. There are sections on barbecue, cast iron cooking, Dutch oven, fire pit, and foil cooking. Lots of recipes well illustrated with photos.
  • Food Fire Friends. Mark Jenner’s site explores many aspects of outdoor cooking, including recipes, techniques, and product guides, as he works his way toward mastering cooking with live
    fire.
  • GrateTV. This frequent video show stars Jack Waiboer, a talented BBQ cook and competitor based in SC, and co-host Bill West (above). They teach tips, technique, tools, toys, secret ingredients, beer drinking, and answer viewer email questions. They know their stuff, and teach it with a smile. That’s them above, and one of the gadgets they feature.
  • GrillGirl. Robyn Medlin Lindars knows how to cook, and she can do it outdoors. She blogs about her adventures and recipes. Her specialty is making barbecue fun for women. She also cooks on her sailboat! Fun stuff!
  • A Hamburger Today. Gently patted together by Robyn Lee, this site is made of prime restaurant commentary, stuffed with burger lore, topped with good humor, and held together with beautiful drippy photographs. She is aided by a handful of burgerphiles who know their stuff.
  • Home BBQ. Message boards that discuss just about anything barbecue.
  • The Ingredient Store.com. Home of the FAB injections and marinades. FAB is the stuff most of the brisket champs inject (into the meat, not themselves).
  • Live Fire Online. Curt McAdams can cook and takes nice pix in Ohio. He focuses on barbecuing and grilling, but often digresses on local foods, markets, baking, and dining.
  • Mark Stevens. I met Mark in one of the online message boards and have learned a thing or two from him and his tips. You can too. His home made website has great links, and some good recipes and tips.
  • Naked Whiz. This may be the most inaccurate and inappropriate name for a website on the net, but don’t let it deter you. This is the go-to site if you have any questions about charcoal, how it is made, and what is the best.
  • Nibble Me This. Chris Grove is in Knoxville and he works his Big Green Egg and other cookers hard. He has also written a book about kamados.
  • Grillocracy. Our lead writer Clint Cantwell’s personal BBQ and grilling blog.
  • Patio Daddio BBQ. John Dawson brings his analytical IT mind to the patio and tests new techniques, equipment, and recipes with an unusual thoroughness and sharp sense of humor. He also competes. This is one of my faves.
  • Postcards from Scotsylvania. Scot Murphy is a very smart, witty, fella, and a pretty good cook too. His blog covers barbecue, gardening, politics, comics, and “ruminations about the universe, occasional whining, snarkiness, stuff like that.”
  • Real Truck. Accessories and gear for your truck.
  • She Smoke. Julie Reinhardt is the author of the book She-Smoke, a Backyard Barbecue Book, and co-owner of Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ in Seattle. This blog is an extension of the book, the restaurant, and how she rolls with two kids in tow.

The Invisible Addiction: Is It Time To Give Up Caffeine?

After years of starting the day with a tall morning coffee, followed by several glasses of green tea at intervals, and the occasional cappuccino after lunch, I quit caffeine, cold turkey. It was not something that I particularly wanted to do, but I had come to the reluctant conclusion that the story I was writing demanded it. Several of the experts I was interviewing had suggested that I really couldn’t understand the role of caffeine in my life – its invisible yet pervasive power – without getting off it and then, presumably, getting back on.

Roland Griffiths, one of the world’s leading researchers of mood-altering drugs, and the man most responsible for getting the diagnosis of “caffeine withdrawal” included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the bible of psychiatric diagnoses, told me he hadn’t begun to understand his own relationship with caffeine until he stopped using it and conducted a series of self-experiments. He urged me to do the same.

For most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness. Something like 90% of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, and the only one we routinely give to children (commonly in the form of fizzy drinks). Few of us even think of it as a drug, much less our daily use of it as an addiction. It’s so pervasive that it’s easy to overlook the fact that to be caffeinated is not baseline consciousness but, in fact, an altered state. It just happens to be a state that virtually all of us share, rendering it invisible.

The scientists have spelled out, and I had duly noted, the predictable symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: headache, fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, decreased motivation, irritability, intense distress, loss of confidence and dysphoria. But beneath that deceptively mild rubric of “difficulty concentrating” hides nothing short of an existential threat to the work of the writer. How can you possibly expect to write anything when you can’t concentrate?

I postponed it as long as I could, but finally the dark day arrived. According to the researchers I’d interviewed, the process of withdrawal had actually begun overnight, while I was sleeping, during the “trough” in the graph of caffeine’s diurnal effects. The day’s first cup of tea or coffee acquires most of its power – its joy! – not so much from its euphoric and stimulating properties than from the fact that it is suppressing the emerging symptoms of withdrawal.

This is part of the insidiousness of caffeine. Its mode of action, or “pharmacodynamics”, mesh so perfectly with the rhythms of the human body that the morning cup of coffee arrives just in time to head off the looming mental distress set in motion by yesterday’s cup of coffee. Daily, caffeine proposes itself as the optimal solution to the problem caffeine creates.

At the coffee shop, instead of my usual “half caff”, I ordered a cup of mint tea. And on this morning, that lovely dispersal of the mental fog that the first hit of caffeine ushers into consciousness never arrived. The fog settled over me and would not budge. It’s not that I felt terrible – I never got a serious headache – but all day long I felt a certain muzziness, as if a veil had descended in the space between me and reality, a kind of filter that absorbed certain wavelengths of light and sound.

I was able to do some work, but distractedly. “I feel like an unsharpened pencil,” I wrote in my notebook. “Things on the periphery intrude, and won’t be ignored. I can’t focus for more than a minute.”

Over the course of the next few days, I began to feel better, the veil lifted, yet I was still not quite myself, and neither, quite, was the world. In this new normal, the world seemed duller to me. I seemed duller, too. Mornings were the worst. I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep. That reconsolidation of self took much longer than usual, and never quite felt complete.


Humanity’s acquaintance with caffeine is surprisingly recent. But it is hardly an exaggeration to say that this molecule remade the world. The changes wrought by coffee and tea occurred at a fundamental level – the level of the human mind. Coffee and tea ushered in a shift in the mental weather, sharpening minds that had been fogged by alcohol, freeing people from the natural rhythms of the body and the sun, thus making possible whole new kinds of work and, arguably, new kinds of thought, too.

By the 15th century, coffee was being cultivated in east Africa and traded across the Arabian peninsula. Initially, the new drink was regarded as an aide to concentration and used by Sufis in Yemen to keep them from dozing off during their religious observances. (Tea, too, started out as a little helper for Buddhist monks striving to stay awake through long stretches of meditation.) Within a century, coffeehouses had sprung up in cities across the Arab world. In 1570 there were more than 600 of them in Constantinople alone, and they spread north and west with the Ottoman empire.

The Islamic world at this time was in many respects more advanced than Europe, in science and technology, and in learning. Whether this mental flourishing had anything to do with the prevalence of coffee (and prohibition of alcohol) is difficult to prove, but as the German historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch has argued, the beverage “seemed to be tailor-​made for a culture that forbade alcohol consumption and gave birth to modern mathematics”.

In 1629 the first coffeehouses in Europe, styled on Arab and Turkish models, popped up in Venice, and the first such establishment in England was opened in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish immigrant. They arrived in London shortly thereafter, and proliferated: within a few decades there were thousands of coffeehouses in London; at their peak, one for every 200 Londoners.

To call the English coffeehouse a new kind of public space doesn’t quite do it justice. You paid a penny for the coffee, but the information – in the form of newspapers, books, magazines and conversation – was free. (Coffeehouses were often referred to as “penny universities”.) After visiting London coffeehouses, a French writer named Maximilien Misson wrote, “You have all Manner of News there; You have a good fire, which you may sit by as long as you please: You have a Dish of Coffee; you meet your Friends for the Transaction of Business, and all for a Penny, if you don’t care to spend more.”

London’s coffeehouses were distinguished one from another by the professional or intellectual interests of their patrons, which eventually gave them specific institutional identities. So, for example, merchants and men with interests in shipping gathered at Lloyd’s Coffee House. Here you could learn what ships were arriving and departing, and buy an insurance policy on your cargo. Lloyd’s Coffee House eventually became the insurance brokerage Lloyd’s of London. Learned types and scientists – known then as “natural philosophers” – gathered at the Grecian, which became closely associated with the Royal Society; Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley debated physics and mathematics here, and supposedly once dissected a dolphin on the premises.

The conversation in London’s coffee houses frequently turned to politics, in vigorous exercises of free speech that drew the ire of the government, especially after the monarchy was restored in 1660. Charles II, worried that plots were being hatched in coffeehouses, decided that the places were dangerous fomenters of rebellion that the crown needed to suppress. In 1675 the king moved to close down the coffeehouses, on the grounds that the “false, malicious and scandalous Reports” emanating therefrom were a “Disturbance of the Quiet and Peace of the Realm”. Like so many other compounds that change the qualities of consciousness in individuals, caffeine was regarded as a threat to institutional power, which moved to suppress it, in a foreshadowing of the wars against drugs to come.

But the king’s war against coffee lasted only 11 days. Charles discovered that it was too late to turn back the tide of caffeine. By then the coffeehouse was such a fixture of English culture and daily life – and so many eminent Londoners had become addicted to caffeine – that everyone simply ignored the king’s order and blithely went on drinking coffee. Afraid to test his authority and find it lacking, the king quietly backed down, issuing a second proclamation rolling back the first “out of princely consideration and royal compassion”.

It’s hard to imagine that the sort of political, cultural and intellectual ferment that bubbled up in the coffeehouses of both France and England in the 17th century would ever have developed in a tavern. The kind of magical thinking that alcohol sponsored in the medieval mind began to yield to a new spirit of rationalism and, a bit later, Enlightenment thinking.

French historian Jules Michelet wrote: “Coffee, the sober drink, the mighty nourishment of the brain, which unlike other spirits, heightens purity and lucidity; coffee, which clears the clouds of the imagination and their gloomy weight; which illumines the reality of things suddenly with the flash of truth.”

To see, lucidly, “the reality of things”: this was, in a nutshell, the rationalist project. Coffee became, along with the microscope, telescope and the pen, one of its indispensable tools.


After a few weeks, the mental impairments of withdrawal had subsided, and I could once again think in a straight line, hold an abstraction in my head for more than two minutes, and shut peripheral thoughts out of my field of attention. Yet I continued to feel as though I was mentally just slightly behind the curve, especially when in the company of drinkers of coffee and tea, which, of course, was all the time and everywhere.

Here’s what I was missing: I missed the way caffeine and its rituals used to order my day, especially in the morning. Herbal teas – which are barely, if at all, psychoactive – lack the power of coffee and tea to organize the day into a rhythm of energetic peaks and valleys, as the mental tide of caffeine ebbs and flows. The morning surge is a blessing, obviously, but there is also something comforting in the ebb tide of afternoon, which a cup of tea can gently reverse.

At some point I began to wonder if perhaps it was all in my head, this sense that I had lost a mental step since getting off coffee and tea. So I decided to look at the science, to learn what, if any, cognitive enhancement can actually be attributed to caffeine. I found numerous studies conducted over the years reporting that caffeine improves performance on a range of cognitive measures – of memory, focus, alertness, vigilance, attention and learning.

An experiment done in the 1930s found that chess players on caffeine performed significantly better than players who abstained. In another study, caffeine users completed a variety of mental tasks more quickly, though they made more errors; as one paper put it in its title, people on caffeine are “faster, but not smarter”. In a 2014 experiment, subjects given caffeine immediately after learning new material remembered it better than subjects who received a placebo. Tests of psychomotor abilities also suggest that caffeine gives us an edge: in simulated driving exercises, caffeine improves performance, especially when the subject is tired. It also enhances physical performance on such metrics as time trials, muscle strength and endurance.

True, there is reason to take these findings with a pinch of salt, if only because this kind of research is difficult to do well. The problem is finding a good control group in a society in which virtually everyone is addicted to caffeine. But the consensus seems to be that caffeine does improve mental (and physical) performance to some degree.

Whether caffeine also enhances creativity is a different question, however, and there’s some reason to doubt that it does. Caffeine improves our focus and ability to concentrate, which surely enhances linear and abstract thinking, but creativity works very differently. It may depend on the loss of a certain kind of focus, and the freedom to let the mind off the leash of linear thought.

Cognitive psychologists sometimes talk in terms of two distinct types of consciousness: spotlight consciousness, which illuminates a single focal point of attention, making it very good for reasoning, and lantern consciousness, in which attention is less focused yet illuminates a broader field of attention. Young children tend to exhibit lantern consciousness; so do many people on psychedelics.

This more diffuse form of attention lends itself to mind wandering, free association, and the making of novel connections – all of which can nourish creativity. By comparison, caffeine’s big contribution to human progress has been to intensify spotlight consciousness – the focused, linear, abstract and efficient cognitive processing more closely associated with mental work than play. This, more than anything else, is what made caffeine the perfect drug not only for the age of reason and the Enlightenment, but for the rise of capitalism, too.

The power of caffeine to keep us awake and alert, to stem the natural tide of exhaustion, freed us from the circadian rhythms of our biology and so, along with the advent of artificial light, opened the frontier of night to the possibilities of work.

What coffee did for clerks and intellectuals, tea would soon do for the English working class. Indeed, it was tea from the East Indies – heavily sweetened with sugar from the West Indies – that fuelled the Industrial Revolution. We think of England as a tea culture, but coffee, initially the cheaper beverage by far, dominated at first.

Soon after the British East India Company began trading with China, cheap tea flooded England. A beverage that only the well-to-do could afford to drink in 1700 was by 1800 consumed by virtually everyone, from the society matron to the factory worker.

To supply this demand required an imperialist enterprise of enormous scale and brutality, especially after the British decided it would be more profitable to turn India, its colony, into a tea producer, than to buy tea from the Chinese. This required first stealing the secrets of tea production from the Chinese (a mission accomplished by the renowned Scots botanist and plant explorer Robert Fortune, disguised as a mandarin); seizing land from peasant farmers in Assam (where tea grew wild), and then forcing the farmers into servitude, picking tea leaves from dawn to dusk.

The introduction of tea to the west was all about exploitation – the extraction of surplus value from labor, not only in its production in India, but in its consumption by the British as well. Tea allowed the British working class to endure long shifts, brutal working conditions and more or less constant hunger; the caffeine helped quiet the hunger pangs, and the sugar in it became a crucial source of calories. (From a strictly nutritional standpoint, workers would have been better off sticking with beer.) The caffeine in tea helped create a new kind of worker, one better adapted to the rule of the machine. It is difficult to imagine an Industrial Revolution without it.


So how exactly does coffee, and caffeine more generally, make us more energetic, efficient and faster? How could this little molecule possibly supply the human body energy without calories? Could caffeine be the proverbial free lunch, or do we pay a price for the mental and physical energy – the alertness, focus and stamina – that caffeine gives us?

Alas, there is no free lunch. It turns out that caffeine only appears to give us energy. Caffeine works by blocking the action of adenosine, a molecule that gradually accumulates in the brain over the course of the day, preparing the body to rest. Caffeine molecules interfere with this process, keeping adenosine from doing its job – and keeping us feeling alert. But adenosine levels continue to rise, so that when the caffeine is eventually metabolized, the adenosine floods the body’s receptors and tiredness returns. So the energy that caffeine gives us is borrowed, in effect, and eventually the debt must be paid back.

For as long as people have been drinking coffee and tea, medical authorities have warned about the dangers of caffeine. But until now, caffeine has been cleared of the most serious charges against it. The current scientific consensus is more than reassuring – in fact, the research suggests that coffee and tea, far from being deleterious to our health, may offer some important benefits, as long as they aren’t consumed to excess.

Regular coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of several cancers (including breast, prostate, colorectal and endometrial), cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and possibly depression and suicide. (Though high doses can produce nervousness and anxiety, and rates of suicide climb among those who drink eight or more cups a day.)

My review of the medical literature on coffee and tea made me wonder if my abstention might be compromising not only my mental function but my physical health, as well. However, that was before I spoke to Matt Walker.

An English neuroscientist on the faculty at University of California, Berkeley, Walker, author of Why We Sleep, is single-minded in his mission: to alert the world to an invisible public-health crisis, which is that we are not getting nearly enough sleep, the sleep we are getting is of poor quality, and a principal culprit in this crime against body and mind is caffeine. Caffeine itself might not be bad for you, but the sleep it’s stealing from you may have a price.

According to Walker, research suggests that insufficient sleep may be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, stroke, heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide and obesity. “The shorter you sleep,” he bluntly concludes, “the shorter your lifespan.”

Walker grew up in England drinking copious amounts of black tea, morning, noon and night. He no longer consumes caffeine, save for the small amounts in his occasional cup of decaf. In fact, none of the sleep researchers or experts on circadian rhythms I interviewed for this story use caffeine.

Walker explained that, for most people, the “quarter life” of caffeine is usually about 12 hours, meaning that 25% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee consumed at noon is still circulating in your brain when you go to bed at midnight. That could well be enough to completely wreck your deep sleep.

I thought of myself as a pretty good sleeper before I met Walker. At lunch he probed me about my sleep habits. I told him I usually get a solid seven hours, fall asleep easily, dream most nights. “How many times a night do you wake up?” he asked. I’m up three or four times a night (usually to pee), but I almost always fall right back to sleep.

He nodded gravely. “That’s really not good, all those interruptions. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity.” The interruptions were undermining the amount of “deep” or “slow wave” sleep I was getting, something above and beyond the REM sleep I had always thought was the measure of a good night’s rest. But it seems that deep sleep is just as important to our health, and the amount we get tends to decline with age.

Caffeine is not the sole cause of our sleep crisis; screens, alcohol (which is as hard on REM sleep as caffeine is on deep sleep), pharmaceuticals, work schedules, noise and light pollution, and anxiety can all play a role in undermining both the duration and quality of our sleep. But here’s what’s uniquely insidious about caffeine: the drug is not only a leading cause of our sleep deprivation; it is also the principal tool we rely on to remedy the problem. Most of the caffeine consumed today is being used to compensate for the lousy sleep that caffeine causes – which means that caffeine is helping to hide from our awareness the very problem that caffeine creates.


The time came to wrap up my experiment in caffeine deprivation. I was eager to see what a body that had been innocent of caffeine for three months would experience when subjected to a couple of shots of espresso. I had thought long and hard about what kind of coffee I would get, and where. I opted for a “special”, my local coffee shop’s term for a double-​shot espresso made with less steamed milk than a typical cappuccino; it’s more commonly known as a flat white.

My special was unbelievably good, a ringing reminder of what a poor counterfeit decaf is; here were whole dimensions and depths of flavour that I had completely forgotten about. Everything in my visual field seemed pleasantly italicised, filmic, and I wondered if all these people with their cardboard-sleeve-swaddled cups had any idea what a powerful drug they were sipping. But how could they?

They had long ago become habituated to caffeine, and were now using it for another purpose entirely. Baseline maintenance, that is, plus a welcome little lift. I felt lucky that this more powerful experience was available to me. This – along with the stellar sleeps – was the wonderful dividend of my investment in abstention.

And yet in a few days’ time I would be them, caffeine-tolerant and addicted all over again. I wondered: was there any way to preserve the power of this drug? Could I devise a new relationship with caffeine? Maybe treat it more like a psychedelic – say, something to be taken only on occasion, and with a greater degree of ceremony and intention. Maybe just drink coffee on Saturdays? Just the one.

When I got home I tackled my to-do list with unaccustomed fervour, harnessing the surge of energy – of focus! – coursing through me, and put it to good use. I compulsively cleared and decluttered – on the computer, in my closet, in the garden and the shed. I raked, I weeded, I put things in order, as if I were possessed. Whatever I focused on, I focused on zealously and single-mindedly.

Around noon, my compulsiveness began to subside, and I felt ready for a change of scene. I had yanked a few plants out of the vegetable garden that were not pulling their weight, and decided to go to the garden centre to buy some replacements. It was during the drive that I realised the true reason I was heading to this particular garden centre: it had this Airstream trailer parked out front that served really good espresso.

This article was amended on 8 July 2021 to include mention of the Turkish influence on early European coffeehouses.

This is an edited extract from This Is Your Mind on Plants: Opium-Caffeine-Mescaline by Michael Pollan, published by Allen Lane on 8 July and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk

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Source: The invisible addiction: is it time to give up caffeine? | Coffee | The Guardian

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Critics:

Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. There are several known mechanisms of action to explain the effects of caffeine. The most prominent is that it reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptors and consequently prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine. Caffeine also stimulates certain portions of the autonomic nervous system.

Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline purine, a methylxanthine alkaloid, and is chemically related to the adenine and guanine bases of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). It is found in the seeds, fruits, nuts, or leaves of a number of plants native to Africa, East Asia and South America, and helps to protect them against herbivores and from competition by preventing the germination of nearby seeds, as well as encouraging consumption by select animals such as honey bees. The best-known source of caffeine is the coffee bean, the seed of the Coffea plant.

Caffeine is used in:

  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants for both prevention and treatment. It may improve weight gain during therapy and reduce the incidence of cerebral palsy as well as reduce language and cognitive delay. On the other hand, subtle long-term side effects are possible.
  • Apnea of prematurity as a primary treatment, but not prevention.
  • Orthostatic hypotension treatment.
  • Some people use caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee or tea to try to treat their asthma. Evidence to support this practice, however, is poor. It appears that caffeine in low doses improves airway function in people with asthma, increasing forced expiratory volume (FEV1) by 5% to 18%, with this effect lasting for up to four hours.
  • The addition of caffeine (100–130 mg) to commonly prescribed pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen modestly improves the proportion of people who achieve pain relief

Your Weird Pandemic Meals Are Probably Fine

woman eating

For the first 34 years of my life, I always ate three meals a day. I never thought much about it—the routine was satisfying, it fit easily into my life, and eating three meals a day is just what Americans generally do. By the end of last summer, though, those decades of habit had begun to erode. The time-blindness of working from home and having no social plans left me with no real reason to plod over to my refrigerator at any specific hour of the day. To cope, I did what many Americans have done over the past year: I quasi-purposefully fumbled around for a new routine, and eventually I came up with some weird but workable results—and with Big Meal.

Big Meal is exactly what it sounds like: a meal that is large. It’s also untethered from linear time. Big Meal is not breakfast, lunch, or dinner—social constructs that no longer exist as such in my home—although it could theoretically occur at the traditional time for any of them. Big Meal comes when you’re ready to have it, which is a moment that only you can identify. For me, this is typically in the late afternoon, but sometimes it’s at breakfast. Generally, Big Meal happens once a day.

In the dieting (excuse me, biohacking) trend known as intermittent fasting, people compress their calories into a limited window of hours. But that’s not what Big Meal is at all. It’s not a diet. I snack whenever I feel like it—Triscuits with slices of pepper jack, leftover hummus from the Turkish takeout place that sometimes provides Big Meal, a glob of smooth peanut butter on a spoon. The phrase started as a joke about my inability to explain to a friend why I was making risotto in the middle of the afternoon, or why I didn’t have an answer to “What’s for dinner?” at 6 p.m. beyond “Uh, well, I ate a giant burrito at 11 a.m. and grazed all afternoon, so I think I’m done for the day.” Now I simply say, “It’s time for Big Meal,” or “I already had Big Meal.”

This curious change in my own eating was just the beginning. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of daily life, but the effects on how people eat have been particularly acute. Dining closures and weekend boredom have pushed a country of reticent cooks to prepare more of its own meals. Delivery-app middlemen have tightened their grip on the takeout market. Supply shortages have made flour, beans, pasta, and yeast hot commodities. Viral recipes have proliferated—can I interest anyone in sourdough, banana bread, shallot pasta, baked feta, or a truly excellent cast-iron-pan pizza?

Even for people who have had a relatively stable existence over the past year, pandemic mealtime changes have been chaotic. Which isn’t to say that they’ve been uniformly negative. Big shifts in daily life have a way of forcing people into new habits—and forcing them to figure out what they actually want to eat.

If you pore over the food-business news from the past year, there’s little question that lots of people have changed their habits in one way or another. For instance, many people are buying more snacks—in January, Frito-Lay said that some of its marquee brands, such as Tostitos and Lay’s, had finished the year with sales increases of roughly 30 to 40 percent. The entire “fruit snack” category has more than doubled its sales, according to one market analysis. Frozen-food sales are up more than 20 percent, and online orders of packaged foods as varied as chewing gum and wine have also seen a marked increase.

But sales numbers and trend reports tell only part of the story. Underneath them are people trying to mold their individual circumstances to survivability, or maybe even pleasure, however they can, and the biggest unifying factor is that “normal” hardly exists anymore. For millions of people who have lost income during the pandemic, just getting groceries is often a hard-fought victory. Among the wealthy, constant Caviar deliveries and access to private, pandemic-safe dining bubbles at fine restaurants have kept things novel. Households in the middle have scrambled to form new, idiosyncratic routines all their own.

Wendy Robinson, a community-college administrator in St. Paul, Minnesota, told me that working from home most of the week has had the opposite effect on her than it did on me: It added more meals to her life. Before the pandemic, “a lot of my eating was really convenience-driven, and I didn’t have a dedicated lunchtime, because I just was so busy,” she said. Food came erratically—from a co-worker’s desk, from the campus cafeteria, from Starbucks, picked up on the way home after a late night at work. Now she eats a real lunch most days, and she cooks more—a hobby she has always enjoyed—because she can do it while she’s on conference calls and during what used to be her commute.

Kids have necessitated their own set of pandemic adaptations. Robinson and her husband, who also works from home most of the time, have two kids who attend school remotely. Despite a rough first few months and plenty of ongoing stresses, Robinson says the at-home life has also given her more opportunity to cook with her kids and teach them the basics. Lately, her 12-year-old son has begun to enthusiastically pitch in during the family’s meals. “He makes a legit great omelet and delicious scrambled eggs, and he makes himself grilled cheese,” Robinson said. “Sometimes, when I am really busy, he will make me lunch now.”

With younger kids, things can be a little trickier. Scott Hines’s sons, 4 and 5, aren’t yet old enough to manage many cooking tasks for themselves, but they are old enough to seek out munchies. “I swear there are days where they’ve eaten snacks and no meals,” Hines, an architect based in Louisville, Kentucky, told me. “The days that they’re doing online learning, it’s impossible to control that, just because they’re bored.” On the upside, Hines, an enthusiastic cook who runs a newsletter for sharing his favorite recipes, said that working from home for part of the week has allowed him to try more types of cooking projects this year. Before, he often relied on foods that could be microwaved or otherwise prepared quickly. Now, he said, “I can make a soup; I can make something that goes in the pressure cooker or sits in the Dutch oven for hours, because I can start it at lunchtime.”

For people without kids, and especially those who live alone, the pandemic’s impact works out a little differently in the kitchen. When it’s just you, there’s no bugging your partner to wash the dishes or trading off cooking duties with a roommate or letting a budding teen chef chop the vegetables. It’s all you, every time you’re hungry. “The amount of effort is immense,” Ashley Cornall, a 30-year-old project manager in San Francisco, told me. “It’s spending my entire life washing dishes, or in my kitchen, prepping something.”

Before the pandemic, many of Cornall’s meals were social occasions, or something quick picked up from the zillions of restaurants built to feed the Bay Area’s office workers in their offices. She still orders takeout occasionally, but often feels bad about asking a delivery person to ferry food to her. Because constant Zoom meetings during the day make it hard to slip out to pick something up, she tends to find herself cobbling together a meal out of snacks.

Even so, Cornall told me she has grown to enjoy cooking when she does have the time for it. “There is something kind of nice about putting on music and cooking a meal in the evening and having half a glass of wine, taking a moment to enjoy it,” she said. Having more control over what’s in her food has also helped her get closer to a longtime goal of switching to vegetarianism; she’s not totally there yet, but she eats a lot less meat than she used to.

Splintering the three-meals-a-day norm might at first feel unnatural, but in the long arc of human history, that eating schedule is both extremely recent and born almost entirely of social convenience. According to Amy Bentley, a food historian at NYU, eating three meals a day is not something we do because of nutritional science or a natural human inclination. Instead, it’s largely a consequence of industrialization, which formalized the workday and drew much of the population away from home on a regular basis.

Preindustrial America was more rural and agrarian, and people worked during daylight hours, pausing midmorning and later in the afternoon. “It was more like a two-meal kind of schedule that was based on outdoor physical labor and farm labor, and those meals tended to be quite big,” Bentley told me.

Over time, more and more Americans were drawn into daily life outside the home—more kids were sent to school, and housewives and domestic workers, whose presence was once common in middle-class American homes, joined the formal labor market. Industrialized food processing began to provide an array of products marketed as quick-and-easy breakfast foods—products that had never previously existed but whose ubiquity accelerated after World War II. Industrialized breakfasts such as cornflakes and instant oatmeal make for meals that are generally small and nutritionally hollow, which meant that people then needed to eat again during the day before commuting home for a later dinner, which was—and often still is—important for its role in family social life.

You can probably see the fault lines already. Of course vanishing commutes, remote schooling, and the flexibility to make a sandwich during a conference call would change how people eat. The three-meal-a-day axiom was created to bend human life around the necessity of leaving the home to work elsewhere for the whole day, and now people are bending once again, around a whole new set of challenges. Our old eating schedules are no more natural than sitting in a cubicle for 10 hours a day.

But food is a fraught emotional topic, and people often worry that changes in their behavior—even those that feel natural—are somehow unhealthy. Rachel Larkey, a registered dietitian in Yonkers, New York, who specializes in treating eating disorders among her mostly low-income clients, has heard this worry frequently over the past year. “Folks are feeling like their routines are kind of nebulous now, and they don’t have a lot of structure in their day,” she told me. “If we have a routine, our body starts to say, Okay, it’s noon; it’s my lunchtime. I’m hungry now.” Without that expectation, people notice their hunger at hours of the day that aren’t necessarily mealtimes, or find themselves without much of an appetite when they think they’re supposed to eat.

These challenges hit everybody differently. Adapting to your own shifting needs is easier if you have money to buy kitchen equipment and food, or if eating isn’t a stressful, emotional minefield for you. But Larkey said that much of the scaremongering about the “quarantine 15” is silly. People naturally gain and lose weight as the conditions of their life change, and extreme reactions to gaining a few pounds right now can compound the harm of the pandemic’s other stresses on physical and mental health. What matters, Larkey told me, is whether the changes in your eating habits make you feel good and healthy—whether they fit your current life and your needs better than what you were doing before.Screenshot_2021-01-27-www-bevtraders-com-25-1-1-2-1-2-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

New or worsening food compulsions, such as eating far more or far less than you used to, are cause for alarm. But what’s not cause for alarm, Larkey said, is adjusted eating patterns or mealtimes that are more useful or satisfying in the weird, stressful conditions people are now living in. “We’re really not taught that we can trust our body’s cues,” she told me. “It can feel so destabilizing to have to think about them for maybe the first time ever.”

In some of the new routines created to make the past year a little less onerous, it’s not hard to see how life after the pandemic might be made a little more flexible—more humane—for tasks as essential as cooking and eating. For now, though, go ahead and do whatever feels right. There’s no reason to keep choking down your morning Greek yogurt if you’re not hungry until lunch, or to force yourself to cook when you’re bone tired and would be just as happy with cheese and crackers. You might not make it all the way to Big Meal, but you don’t have to be stuck at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

By: Amanda Mull

Source: Your Weird Pandemic Meals Are Probably Fine – The Atlantic

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So with this Covid-19 AKA The Coronavirus has swept across the world and sent a lot of people into a panic, and the shops are empty of non perishable goods, which is Pasta, Rice and most tinned goods. But if you have these things then you can take part in the Pandemic Meals lol. So we have Pasta, Cream of Mushroom Soup(Heinze) Salt, Pepper and Mixed Herbs. #COVID19 #coronavirus #pandemic #teamctb #christhebutcher #virus
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It Has Cost Me 14 Teeth: Readers On Soft Drink Addiction & How To Beat It

Fizzy, caffeinated drinks are on sale everywhere, and for many people it can become difficult to function without them. Is cold turkey the only way out?

Sirin Kale wrote about her 27-year addiction to fizzy drinks this week. When we asked readers to tell us about their own experiences of soft drink addiction, there was a huge response – here are some of the replies

‘It’s normal for me to drink Diet Coke at the start of a 6am shift’

Working in a Coca-Cola factory means that most Coke brands are freely available to employees. I’m on my feet a lot and work up quite a thirst. The fridges on site are stocked up with everything from Fanta and Sprite to Coke and its many variants. It is totally normal for me to grab a bottle of Diet Coke at the start of a 6am shift. On a hot day I could get through five or six 500ml bottles. Lately, I’ve tried hard to replace Diet Coke with water, but I just find it so boring! Lockdown was a big help: since I’ve been shielding at home I don’t have easy access to such a large supply. Nowadays I’ll get through a couple of two-litre bottles a week. The caffeine in Diet Coke started to badly affect my stress and anxiety levels. I’ve since switched to caffeine-free Diet Coke and feel a lot better. Anonymous, Coca-Cola factory worker, London

‘The shock when I couldn’t buy Ribena was overwhelming’

We always had cheap cordials when I was growing up, as Ribena was so expensive. When I left home, I started treating myself to Ribena. I would get through the large bottles of it within a few days and refused to drink anything else. I don’t think I realised how bad my addiction was until the young people in the youth centre where I work hid it and it caused me so much anxiety – I couldn’t leave the centre until I found it. I no longer drink Ribena – the only way I could stop was to go cold turkey. I travelled to New Zealand and naively thought I’d be able to get it over there – the shock when I couldn’t was overwhelming. I had no choice, I had to drink something else. Nina, youth worker, Bristol

‘I don’t drink tea, coffee or alcohol and Diet Coke gives me a boost’

I started with Tab – the forerunner of Diet Coke, which I then moved on to when it became available. I don’t drink tea, coffee or alcohol and it gives me a boost. I have known I am addicted for as long as I can remember. As far as I can tell, the only side-effect has been the impact on my teeth. However, I have wondered about donating my body to medical science so that a lifetime of Diet Coke addiction can be assessed! I like to say that this addiction is the only thing I have in common with Donald Trump. Occasionally I have managed to go without Diet Coke but can only do it on non-working days as I get a headache and become irritable. It also makes me prone to falling asleep whenever I sit down. But nothing healthier really appeals as a replacement, so it is hard to abstain indefinitely. Anonymous, healthcare worker, London

‘Weaning myself off caffeine has been a very slow process’

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In my early 20s, I could drink six to eight cans of Red Bull a day. When I got pregnant at 30, I stopped; but when my daughter was born she never slept, so I started drinking it again. About five years later, I managed to stop again but instead drank two to three bottles of Lucozade a day. When I started getting palpitations, I decided to switch to Coca-Cola; now my daughter is seven and I just drink one can of Diet Coke a day.

It has been a long journey and a very slow process of weaning myself off caffeine. I don’t drink tea or coffee, so felt I needed to get that pick-me-up from somewhere. At my worst, I would get about three hours sleep a night, drink fizzy drinks all day, then struggle to sleep again at night. Michelle, receptionist, Mansfield

‘I’d often walk miles to a 24-hour supermarket just to buy Pepsi Max’

I remember drinking cans of Coke and Lilt often as a child, but by age 12 I was drinking about a litre of Coke every day. At 14, I switched to Pepsi Max because of tooth decay caused by the sugar. From 16 onwards, I was drinking at least two litres of Pepsi Max a day, with slower tooth erosion but still some decay. Altogether, it has cost me 14 teeth. I realised the amount I was drinking was excessive a long time ago. From the age of 20 onwards, I was drinking two to six litres a day. I’d often get out of bed in the middle of the night due to cravings and walk miles to the nearest 24-hour supermarket just to buy some. The uncomfortable bloating, concerns over possible bone loss, and considerable expense (£6 a day is a lot on low income) finally got me to stop. I quit six months ago after going cold turkey. The cravings and the headaches were strong and every time I had a meal it would trigger the craving. Every time I walked past a drinks chiller I’d be so close to saying sod it, but I knew one sip would inevitably become a can, and then a bottle. Now I no longer crave Pepsi Max at all. Barry, carer, Dundee

‘The craving for a fizzy drink at meal times never leaves me’

I grew up in the 70s when people were not so aware of how bad sugar and fizzy drinks are for one’s health. The tropical weather in the country where I grew up also contributed to consumption of cold drinks, mainly Coke. I got into the habit of drinking a fizzy drink with every meal and, even after moving to England more than 20 years ago, it’s very hard for me to get rid of this habit. There was a time when I drank two cans of Diet Coke a day and believed it to be fine because they don’t contain sugar. For 10 years, I’ve been trying to avoid any sort of fizzy drink, diet or not. Sometimes I succeed and may go a few months replacing them with coconut water, but the craving, especially at meal times, never leaves me. Irene, health professional, London

‘They changed the formula in response to the sugar tax – rendering it far less appealing’

In the moment, you never consider whether an extra can is one too many. I don’t think I realised the amount of Irn-Bru I was drinking was excessive until I stopped. I have now managed to quit altogether. This was due to the drinks maker AG Barr’s response to the sugar tax; the company changed the formula and taste of the drink – rendering it far less appealing and with an odd aftertaste. Now Fanta is my soft drink of choice. Michael, student, Glasgow

‘Diet Coke is the first thing I drink in the morning and the last thing at night’

I have always been a big fan of Diet Coke – when the beast from the east hit and I only had a few cans left in the fridge, I was panicking! While others were desperate to stock up on bread and milk, I went straight for the Diet Coke aisle. I can’t go anywhere without a bottle or a can – if I go somewhere for dinner and they say: ‘We have Diet Pepsi, will that do?’ I think, no, sorry, that won’t do! Nothing tastes the same.

I drink about two litres a day and have tried to quit several times. The only times I have been successful was when I was pregnant. I actually don’t know how to get it out of my life – it’s the first thing I drink in the morning and last thing I drink at night. It makes me anxious if I’m running low. The long-term effects can’t be good and, as a nurse, I should know better. Lindsay Young, nurse, Renfrewshire

‘I was spending lots on coffee, and thought Coke Zero would be a cheaper alternative’

My addiction to Coke Zero developed during my undergraduate studies when I needed a pick-me-up but was spending too much money on coffee. I thought it would be a slightly cheaper alternative. But I ended up drinking more Coke Zero than I ever did coffee, so it was pointless. I have tried cutting down but struggle as I feel groggy if I don’t have any. I have to make sure I don’t drink it too late in the day or I struggle sleeping. Anonymous, Glasgow

“We visited World of Coca-Cola for my birthday and my kitchen is decorated in Coca-Cola colours”

I started drinking full-fat Coke in sixth form because I was too busy with extracurricular responsibilities and lessons to eat properly. The caffeine and sugar kept me going. When I tried to wean myself off it, I switched to Diet Coke. I’ve always hated still or sparkling water and I found that any sweetener other than aspartame tastes horrid – most diet drinks use sucralose. A few years ago I gave up drinking Diet Coke for February as a charity fundraiser, but since then my intake has increased and I drink between six and eight cans a day. I make special trips to buy them in bulk as it works out cheaper. I can tell when a can is getting near its best-before date as the taste changes and I can also tell the difference between Coke and Diet Coke just by smell. We visited World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta for my 29th birthday and my kitchen is decorated in Coca-Cola colours. Is it addictive? I wouldn’t say so. It’s just a preference. The difficulty is retraining your palate to enjoy different flavours, and finding another drink that has the same ease of access. Frances, teacher, Surrey

‘Everything tastes awful after catching Covid – so I’ve been able to quit Dr Pepper’

My family are avid Dr Pepper drinkers so there was always soda in the house but I didn’t really drink a worrying amount until sophomore year of high school, when I started taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and working 30 hours a week. I did not like coffee or tea, but did not have enough energy to do everything I needed to and felt crushed by pressure. I probably drank an average of six cans a day – and it worked! I graduated top of my class from high school and maintained good grades at the University of Oklahoma while working 35 to 45 hours a week. I’m not healthy, mind you – in particular, my acne is pretty bad and although I have tried to quit numerous times, it was not until about a week ago that I went cold turkey. I was diagnosed with Covid and have been able to utilise the fact that everything tastes awful to implement my own personal Garcia effect (AKA, conditioned taste aversion) on Dr Pepper. Anonymous, student, Oklahoma City

‘When I quit, my skin would change colour very slightly’

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As a child, I was allowed one glass of Coke on Sundays, as a treat. By the time we were teenagers, my brother and I had persuaded our parents to add Coke (or Tab Clear) to our grocery list. At some stage it was decided that calorie-free Diet Coke was the better way to go. Fast forward 20 years and I would drink four to six cans a day. I knew it was excessive because everyone told me so. On a couple of occasions when I quit, my skin would change colour very slightly (I am quite pale but the Coke gave me a bit of a yellow-brown undertone). I quit Diet Coke entirely at the beginning of 2020 but replaced it with Fever Tree tonic, which has sugar in it. So I quit Fever Tree at the beginning of 2021. One month in and I’m now addicted to Red Bull. Fresh drinking water is available so I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Anonymous, data analyst, Dorset

‘I can easily have a Coke with every meal’

I have loved drinking Coke since I was young, probably aged 11. Once I got through university, I realised I was gaining weight so I switched to Coke Zero. I can easily have a Coke with every meal and go through two to three litres a day. I realise it’s not the best, but I don’t drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs, so it feels like a relatively harmless vice.

Before lockdown, I had some success in cutting down – I stopped drinking Coke Zero for breakfast and switched to juice, then forced myself to drink more water during the day but I struggle to eat a full meal with just water to drink. Coke somehow “washes down” certain foods quite nicely. Sebastian Groth, auditor, London

‘I’ve become known as the Monster boy to my friends’

When I was 14 or 15, I spent my lunch money on Coca-Cola but I couldn’t tell you why it became so excessive. I remember there was a deal at the time: two 500ml bottles for £1.70. That would lead me to drink six bottles on some days. Six! I remember once forgetting to bring money for lunch and so I went without my caffeine fix all day, and threw up by the time I got home. That’s when I knew it was out of control. Yet Coke was just a gateway to Monster – I drank up to three cans a day at university. I had a bit of a ritual: I would have a Monster by my bed waiting for me, then I would wake up, drink it in the shower, get the train to uni and drink another one before I went to the library. At the beginning of 2020, I vowed to give it up – then the pandemic hit and buying cans of Monster became a weekly ritual.
I still drink Monster today, although a lot less. I’ll have one can a day, sometimes two if I have a lot to do. Advertisement

I’ve become known as the Monster boy to my friends. Someone got me a Monster beanie for Secret Santa and, for my lockdown birthday, my friends all drank cans of Monster with me over Zoom to celebrate. I know that people are really disgusted by my habit. I do not like to drink it in public. I feel like I’ll be judged. William, London

‘I’ve probably spent more than £1,200 on Lucozade’

Doing my food shop one day, I just picked up Pink Lucozade Zero – and became instantly hooked. It was on Valentine’s Day last year that I realised how excessive my habit had become: my boyfriend bought me nine bottles (one litre each), and in the space of about two days I had finished them. My addiction was also highlighted during the first lockdown as I used my daily exercise to walk to the shop to pick up a litre bottle of Lucozade. Even if it was pouring with rain, I’d still go. I spent about £400 a year on my addiction, meaning that in total I’ve probably spent more than £1,200 on Lucozade. Change came during the summer when, sitting at the table with my boyfriend’s family, they all had glasses of water and I had a one-litre bottle of Lucozade – it was embarrassing. Over the past two months, I’ve managed to quit completely. Kayley Cornelius, student, Manchester

By: Guardian Readers

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World’s Largest Insect Protein Farm Signals Future Of Food Supply

The frontier of the agriculture industry is about to take a big step closer to going mainstream. 

Chicago-based food processing company Archer Daniels Midland ADM +0.4% (ADM) and InnovaFeed, a French firm that makes insect protein for animal feed, plan to begin building what will be the world’s largest insect protein facility in 2021 in the city of Decatur in central Illinois. 

The partnership between ADM, a $28 billion giant, and the startup InnovaFeed amounts to a vote of confidence in a nascent industry that could one day play a key role in the global agriculture sector. 

“I’m in awe. If they can pull this off, it will be magnificent,” said Jeffrey Tomberlin, a professor and entomologist at Texas A&M University who has done pioneering research on insect protein. “This facility will be several times bigger than anything else in the world,” Tomberlin said. 

ADM and InnovaFeed plan to grow and harvest billions of an extraordinary insect called black soldier fly, whose larvae consume prodigious quantities of organic material and convert it into nutrient-rich protein that can then be sold as animal feed. ADM and InnovaFeed aim to produce up to 60,000 metric tons of animal feed protein per year, plus 20,000 metric tons of oils for poultry and swine rations and 400,000 tons of fertilizer.

Black soldier fly larvae will eat just about anything — including non-compostable food waste bound for landfills — and produce hundreds of times more protein per acre than traditional animal feed sources. The new plant will give ADM and InnovaFeed a foothold in the burgeoning market for sustainably sourced food at a time when consumers’ environmental awareness is growing.

The plant would be a major step toward mainstreaming the insect protein industry, which aims to feed farm animals and aquaculture not corn, soybeans or fishmeal — common types of animal feed — but instead black soldier fly larvae and other grubs. If widely scaled-up, this would mean vastly reducing the carbon footprint and land requirements of farm animals, especially those raised for slaughter. For every kilogram of meat they produce, cows and sheep require around eight kilograms of grains, pigs require about four kilograms and chickens need 1.6 kilograms, according to one estimate. Growing that much grain requires intensive use of land and water.

The process for efficiently cultivating black soldier flies wasn’t well understood until the early 2000s — a big reason why the insect protein industry today remains small, consisting almost entirely of startups, including many in Europe, according to Tomberlin, the Texas A&M professor. InnovaFeed, itself only a few years old, runs the current world’s largest facility, in Nesle, France. The new Decatur facility will produce around four times as much animal feed per year. 

Early backers see great potential as demand for sustainably sourced food continues to grow. More than half of U.S. consumers say they want sustainable food, according to a 2019 survey by the International Food Information Council, a nonprofit. Three out of five people in the U.K. are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly food options, according to a survey of 1,000 people by professional services firm GHD released in November. 

The success of plant-based meat companies this year, such as Impossible Foods, has raised hopes of shrinking the agriculture sector’s carbon footprint: the food industry is responsible for one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

The black soldier flies at the new facility, which will be run by InnovaFeed, will gorge themselves on various corn products that ADM already produces at its Decatur facilities. Normally, these corn products would undergo several rounds of additional processing before finally being transported to an end customer, explained Sapna Sanders, InnovaFeed’s Project Director for North America, in an interview. 

“We’re able to avoid all those energy-intensive steps,” Sanders said. 

The arrangement suits both. ADM gets to avoid the expense and hassle of further processing its corn products. InnovaFeed gets to produce and sell its animal feed, oils and fertilizer to a range of customers. One of its contracts is with the food and drink behemoth Cargill, the second-largest private company in America. 

In the future, black soldier fly larvae inside commercial facilities might be doing even more environmental heavy lifting — by eating up the mountains of food scraps and other human food leftovers otherwise headed for landfills. 

Roughly one-third of all the food produced in the world for human consumption each year, 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted, according to the U.N. Much of that ends up in landfills, where it can’t naturally biodegrade and ends up belching methane, a greenhouse gas dozens of times stronger than CO2. 

Part of the reason so much food winds up in landfills is that there aren’t any convenient alternatives, especially for waste that isn’t compostable. But black soldier flies would be happy to eat up all this landfill-bound waste: researchers have found they gladly eat even foods that can’t be composted. (They appear to be uninterested in hair and bones, however.) 

Bringing down the costs

The biggest obstacle to scaling the insect protein industry up further is cost. Insect protein is still more expensive as an animal feed product than, for example, fishmeal, or the parts of fish caught by commercial fishing companies that are not consumed by humans (such as offal or bones). Tomberlin has estimated that it will take five or so more years for insect protein to be cost-competitive with traditional animal feed sources, although the industry is still too young to know how far and quickly costs will fall.

The U.S. may not be the first to get there. Compared to Europe, the U.S. government has shown relatively little interest in helping the nascent industry get a leg up, Tomberlin said. Yet even more than Europe, China appears most interested in getting the insect protein industry to commercial scale, he said. It already has some of the largest and most efficient black soldier fly facilities in the world and is intensively innovating, according to Tomberlin. 

Nevertheless, that one of America’s largest food companies sees commercial value in insect protein is perhaps a sign that a widespread role for it at the heart of the agriculture sector is perhaps not too far away.

Correction: An earlier photo that accompanied this story pictured another type of larvae, not black soldier fly larvae, as captioned. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn

Scott Carpenter

Scott Carpenter

I cover the energy industry, with a focus on fossil fuels. Formerly I covered oil markets in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Mideast Gulf for commodities publication Argus Media in London. I graduated from the London School of Economics with a masters degree in 2017. Contact me at scott.carpenter.freelance@gmail.com.

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CGTN Europe

The world’s largest insect farm is to be built in northern France as a company seeks to meet the growing demand for food. French firm Ynsect has raised $224 million from investors to build a farm in the French city of Amiens due to open in early 2022. Amid a growing demand for protein, the farm will produce 100,000 tonnes of insect products such as flour and oil per year as well as creating 500 new jobs. Read more 👉 https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-… 🔴 Subscribe to CGTN Europe Youtube channel for all the latest on Business, Technology, Environment and Current Affairs 🔴 Follow CGTN Europe on social media 👇🏼 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cgtneuropeof… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cgtneurope/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGTNEurope

Health Benefits of Juicing

There is much discussion online regarding the benefits of juicing. Some are for, while others are against. As part of a balanced diet, juicing can be an effective tool to promote optimal health. However, not all juicing methods are equal. Store-bought 100% fruit juice affects the body quite differently compared to fresh cold-pressed low-glycemic-index vegetable juice high in live enzymes, nutrients, and antioxidants.

Advantages and benefits of adding cold-pressed juice to the diet include prevention or management of chronic diseases as well as numerous other benefits, as discussed below. For the best cold press juice we recommend using the Naturopress cold press juicer which extracts more live enzymes, nutrients and antioxidents compared to centrifugal juicers. You can now buy the Naturopress cold press juicer using afterpay or zippay for interest free installments.

Benefits of Juicing #1: Juicing is a low-calorie, high-nutrient powerhouse.

It’s no secret that drinking freshly-extracted cold-pressed juice provides your body with a myriad of valuable vitamins and minerals. However, calories start to add up quickly when fruit juice is incorporated. By adding just a small quantity of fruit juice to naturally low-calorie vegetable juice, the end product retains its sweetness and still packs an impressive nutritional punch, all while minimizing calorie intake.

Benefits of Juicing #2: Some types of juice may help to lower high blood pressure.

Although not every type of juice affects blood pressure, clinical research has shown promising results linking decreased blood pressure in people with hypertension. By lowering high blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular disease is also reduced, especially in people who are obese, diabetic, or those with ischemic diseases.

Beetroot juice: One double-blind, randomized controlled study examined the effect of beetroot juice on hypertension. The researchers concluded that 250 mL beetroot juice per day for 4 weeks lowered high blood pressure about 7 points (mm Hg) compared to the control group receiving a nitrate-free placebo juice. This effect was attributed to the nitrates naturally present in beetroot. Nitrate, converted by the body to nitric oxide, improves blood flow and prompts dilation of blood vessels, thereby decreasing blood pressure.

Berry juices: Juices of several types of berries have also been shown to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension or “high normal” pressure, an effect attributed to polyphenols, unique functional compounds found in plants. One 12-week trial of middle-aged hypertensive participants noted a decrease in blood pressure ranging from 6.8 to 7.3 mm Hg in the group receiving a berry juice blend high in polyphenols, compared to a decrease of approximately 1.5 mm Hg in the placebo group.

Pomegranate juice: A 2017 systematic review concluded that pomegranate juice has antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-atherosclerotic (heart disease) properties. Since a systematic review pools and rigorously analyzes the data of multiple studies to arrive at a conclusion, this type of study represents the highest level of scientific evidence. Analysis of data from eight different randomized controlled trials supported the role of pomegranate juice in significantly decreased systolic, diastolic, and overall blood pressure.

Benefits of Juicing #3: Juice can help in the prevention and management of chronic inflammatory diseases and even cancer.

Chronic inflammatory diseases include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), psoriasis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Individuals with chronic inflammatory diseases often present with excessive amounts of inflammatory cells in the areas affected by their disease, as well as exhibiting dysfunctional inflammatory responses. Studies utilizing pomegranate juice have shown promise as a treatment for IBD. It is believed this anti-inflammatory effect is due to the presence of ellagitannins and ellagic acid, two types of polyphenols commonly found in many types of seeds, nuts, and fruits.

Punicalagin, a type of ellagitannin, is abundant in pomegranate juice. Similar compounds found in raspberries and strawberries have indicated the potential for cancer prevention. Decreased levels of inflammation have even been seen in diabetic individuals and those undergoing hemodialysis for kidney disease. While more research is certainly needed on these compounds, the implications for the use of juice in future disease prevention and health promotion are numerous.

Benefits of Juicing #4: Low-glycemic-index juices are effective for management or prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Many people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes can successfully avoid developing the disease by following a low-glycemic-index (low-GI) diet. A randomized controlled crossover study investigated the effect of pomegranate polyphenols on blood glucose levels following ingestion of high-GI bread in healthy subjects. This study utilized both pomegranate juice and supplemental pomegranate extract in pill form. It was concluded that the pomegranate juice reduced the effect of the high-GI bread on blood glucose levels, compared to both the control and experimental pomegranate extract groups. This research represents an exciting development for diabetes prevention and management using a dietary intervention rather than medications or procedures.

Benefits of Juicing #5: Juice contains high levels of antioxidants,  protecting against chronic disease.

Many of the top causes of death have been linked to inflammation and oxidative stress, including cancer and heart disease. It is widely accepted that fruit and vegetable intake can improve antioxidant status, lowering the risk of chronic disease development. Can juice have the same effect? Recent research supports this theory. A study investigating the use of bilberry (similar to blueberry) juice in otherwise healthy individuals at increased risk for heart disease concluded that the antioxidants present in the juice were capable of combating inflammatory processes that could otherwise lead to chronic disease development. These antioxidants, including polyphenols, anthocyanins, quercetin, resveratrol, and epicatechin, are believed to be key factors in promoting health and preventing disease.

Benefits of Juicing #6: Juice can enhance athletic performance.

Fresh juice is not only beneficial for health – it can also improve performance in sports and exercise. Beetroot juice in particular is one of only five dietary supplements categorized as Class A by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), indicating the highest level of scientific evidence to support its use. Beetroot juice, providing a dietary source of nitrate, is converted to nitrous oxide when oxygen levels are low (such as during strenuous exercise). Nitrous oxide has a variety of effects on the cellular level, including decreased VO2 max (better endurance) during cardiovascular exercise, increased muscular strength during resistance training activities, and decreased muscular fatigue. Beetroot juice represents an impressive ergogenic aid that can be helpful for elite athletes as well as the average gym-goer.

Benefits of Juicing #7: Some types of juice may also improve recovery after exercise.

Many athletes swear by tart cherries or tart cherry juice to avoid a phenomenon known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which occurs approximately 48 hours after intense or prolonged exercise. One study investigated the use of tart cherry juice in runners, examining biomarkers of muscle damage, inflammation, antioxidant status, and oxidative stress before and after running a marathon.

Compared to the control group, participants receiving tart cherry juice exhibited higher antioxidant status, lower oxidative stress, and significantly faster recovery of isometric strength. Even if you’re not a marathon runner, juice containing tart cherries can allow you to recover faster from exercise and experience less muscle soreness. Simply adding a small amount of tart cherry juice to fresh cold-pressed vegetable juice is certainly more delicious than taking anti-inflammatory medications, and it comes with none of the side effects.

Benefits of Juicing #7: Juicing allows for easier nutrient absorption.

Compared to consuming whole fruits and vegetables, nutrients in freshly extracted cold-pressed juice are more readily available for absorption. Although most of our bodies are capable of efficient absorption, juicing represents a helpful alternative for people with digestive disorders, nutrient deficiencies, altered absorption due to gastric surgery, or medical conditions that require limiting dietary fiber intake.

Benefits of Juicing #8: Certain kinds of juice can even help improve your mental health.

Clinical depression affects millions of individuals and often also negatively impacts their physical health. Antidepressant medications can be life-saving and help those suffering from depression to reclaim a “normal” life. However, many of these medications come with a long list of potential side effects, and many people have treatment-resistant depression that may be due to inflammatory processes rather than neurotransmitter abnormalities. What if a dietary change could have the same effect or even complement the use of antidepressants?

New research on plant-derived products supports this possibility, especially using a bioactive dietary polyphenol preparation (BDPP) containing Concord grape juice, trans-resveratrol, and grape seed extract. This formulation has been deemed safe for the liver and kidneys, and it appears to promote the development of two substances that protect against stress by resisting inflammation. Not only does this BDPP have the potential to combat depression on its own, it has been proven to work in conjunction with antidepressant medication therapy. Since BDPP targets different factors than antidepressants, it can be used with medication without the fear of side effects. This represents an exciting development in mental health as people become more interested in natural remedies to clinical conditions.

Benefits of Juicing #9:Juicing is a convenient option to meet your dietary goals.

Life moves fast in today’s society, and fast food is often too easy and affordable to pass up. So, how do you strike a healthy balance between convenience and health? Juicing is a quick and simple way to obtain sustainable amounts of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables as part of an otherwise less-than-perfect diet.

Benefits of Juicing #10: The average person would rather drink their vegetables than eat them.

Let’s face it – most people have a few types of vegetables they dislike, and perhaps a few others that they will eat but typically don’t prepare for themselves. Consider this scenario… would you rather eat a huge steaming plate of cabbage and broccoli, or drink fresh cold-pressed juice containing cabbage, broccoli, apple, and lemon? Naturally, most people would opt for the juice, especially when considering the added flavor and sweetness provided by the small amount of fruit. By incorporating fresh cold-pressed juice in your daily routine, you truly can have your vegetables and drink them too.

Of course, we aren’t advocating removing fresh fruits and vegetables from your diet. Consuming whole fruits and vegetables is extremely beneficial, and juicing cannot provide adequate dietary fiber, so intake of healthful whole foods should be maintained. However, low-calorie, high-nutrient juicing can be an effective addition to a well-planned diet containing a variety of fiber-containing foods. Drink up, and enjoy the benefits of freshly extract cold press juice!

Important notice: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat disease. Readers should consult their relevant healthcare providers in relation to their health and well-being.

References

Danesi, F., & Ferguson, L. R. (2017). Could pomegranate juice help in the control of inflammatory diseases? Nutrients, 9(9): E958. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28867799

Domínguez, R., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., Cuenca, E., García-Fernández, P., Mata-Ordoñez, F., Lozano-Estevan, M. C., Veiga-Herreros, P., … Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2018). Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(2): 1-12. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29311764

Howatson, G., McHugh, M. P., Hill, J.A., Brouner, J., Jewell, A. P., Van Someren, K. A., … Howatson, S. A. (2010). Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20(6): 843-852. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
pubmed/19883392

Kapil, V., Khambata, R., Robertson, A., Caulfield, M. & Ahluwalia, A. (2014). Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: A randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Hypertension, 65(2), 320-327. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
pmc/articles/PMC4288952/

Karlsen, A., Paur, I., Bøhn, S. K., Sakhi, A., K., Borge, G. I., Serafini, M., … Blomhoff, R. (2010). Bilberry juice modulates plasma concentration of NF-kappaB related inflammatory markers in subjects at increased risk of CVD. European Journal of Nutrition, 49(6): 345-355. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20119859

Kerimi, A., Nyambe-Silavwe, H., Gauer, J. S., Tomás-Barberán, F. A., & Williamson, G. (2017). Pomegranate juice, but not an extract, confers a lower glycemic response on a high-glycemic index food: Randomized, crossover, controlled trials in healthy subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106(6): 1384-1393. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29021286

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, October 17). Bilberry. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/bilberry

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2018, February 2). Study identifies two substances derived from plants that may have the potential to treat depression. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/phytochemicals-for-depression

Sahebkar, A., Ferri, C., Giorgini, P., Bo, S., Nachtigal, P., & Grassi, D. (2017). Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological Research, 115: 149-161. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/
article/abs/pii/S1043661816307848

Tjelle, T. E., Holtung, L., Bøhn, S. K., Aaby, K., Thoresen, M., Wilk, S. Å., … Blomhoff, R. (2015). Polyphenol-rich juices reduce blood pressure measures in a randomised controlled trial in high normal and hypertensive volunteers. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(7): 1054-1063. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26227795

Source: https://naturopress.com

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Nestlé Health Science Acquires Vital Proteins

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Nestlé Health Science (NHSc), a global leader in the field of nutritional science, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Vital Proteins, America’s top-selling collagen brand. This is the first major acquisition of a collagen-based wellness company to date. Vital Proteins was founded in 2013 by Kurt Seidensticker based on the belief that whole-food-based collagen nutrition is fundamental to maintaining overall health and longevity. Since launching, Vital Proteins has become the leading collagen brand in America, growing their annual sales above $100 million within the span of four years. The company’s brand’s portfolio includes over 150 collagen-based supplements, vitamins and food and beverage products.

Vital Proteins will continue to operate as a standalone business, “remaining committed to its founding mission of helping people live healthier lives through high quality, sustainably-sourced collagen nutrition,” according to a company statement. Seidensticker said that becoming a part of the NHSc portfolio will equip Vital Proteins with a variety of resources to scale the company’s reach and innovation. “I spent a lot of time having conversations with people I respected in the CPG space, in addition to leadership from companies that could eventually be a future partner. Through those conversations it became clear that NHSc was really aligned with our brand values, our mission and purpose to empower healthier lives,” he said.

“I’ve always envisioned Nestlé as the ideal partner and have enjoyed getting to know their team, their vision and their values. I also spent time talking to the founders of another like-minded wellness company whom I respect, to see who they thought was a good fit for their organization, and they felt Nestlé was the ideal partner as well. With Nestlé’s support, we will be able to leverage new resources, scale and capabilities, moving towards a future with an expanded global offering of high-quality nutrition products. The possibilities with Nestlé have reignited my imagination of all that Vital can be.”

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Vital Proteins complements NHSc’s other vitamin, mineral, supplement and wellness brands, including Atrium Innovations, Garden of Life, Pure Encapsulations and Persona. “This is an exciting opportunity for Nestlé Health Science to enter a growing area of nutrition with a successful brand,” said Greg Behar, CEO of NHSc. “The collagen nutrition market is growing, and Vital Proteins has shown its strength by becoming a full lifestyle brand which will perfectly complement our other vitamin, mineral and supplement brands.”

Board member and investor Brett Thomas, cofounder and managing partner of CAVU Venture Partners, credits much of the company’s success to Seidensticker’s leadership. “Kurt was a visionary founder who set out not only to create a category but to define a lifestyle—and we were believers,” said Thomas. “It was this passion, paired with his exceptional leadership skills and clear ability to execute that ultimately drove the brand’s success.” Seidensticker will remain in his role as Vital Proteins CEO, based out of the company’s headquarters in Chicago, IL.

“It speaks volumes about Vital Proteins as a wellness platform and moreover Kurt as a leader that such a great strategic partnership was formed amidst all the uncertainty in the world,” added Thomas. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Vital Proteins has seen a more than 50% increase in demand for their products. “Consumers are now even more focused on their health and well-being in the midst of this pandemic. The appetite for authentic wellness brands that are rooted in science should remain high, particularly ones which know how to effectively communicate with Millennials and Gen-Z,” explained Romitha Mally, Vice Chairman at UBS who helped orchestrate this deal, as well as Dollar Shave Club and Sundial Brands/SheaMoisture’s sales to Unilever, Bai’s sale to Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and Primal Kitchen’s acquisition by Kraft Heinz.

To support the growth of the business, Nestlé plans to explore geographic and product expansion while maintaining the elements of the Vital Proteins brand that make it popular among consumers. Vital Proteins’ 150 unique products (representing a total of 250 variants of those products) are sold across 35,000 retail doors in North America and Europe, including Whole Foods, Costco, Target, Walgreens and Kroger.

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Writer of all things and host of ‘I Suck At Life‘ podcast.

Source: http://www.forbes.com

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France’s Burger ‘King’ Asks For Help To Avoid Ecosystem Collapse

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Olivier Bertrand, one of France’s biggest restaurant owners has asked the government for assistance to ensure the sector doesn’t collapse. Bertrand owns over 850 eateries across France, ranging from Burger King to high-class brasseries such as Bofinger and Lipp in Paris.

In an interview with BFM TV, Bertrand said that if French restaurants had to reopen tomorrow it would lead to the collapse of the sector and the entire food ecosystem that supports it. He added that customers aren’t looking for a culinary experience which has a waitress in a safety visor and plexiglass between each table.

Bertrand has called on the government to introduce a package to help the industry, similar to the recent €18 package introduced to help the tourist sector. He has asked for four things:

Brasserie Lipp in Saint-Germain-des-Pres Square, Paris.

  1. That restaurants shouldn’t have to pay rent and property charges while they are closed.
  2. That as restaurants open, they should begin paying rent and charges on an incremental basis until they are operating at full capacity.
  3. That the government should keep its system of chomage partiel in place until the end of 2020 (where the government supplements up to 84% of normal incomes for people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic).
  4. That VAT should be reduced from 10% to 5.5%.

Bloomberg reported that the French restaurant industry currently counts more than 1 million people unemployed with the shutdown causing a loss of 13 billion euros ($14 billion) in sales. Bertrand said that the impact is being felt by big and small players and across the agriculture, animal raising and fishing sectors.

While France has emerged from lockdown, citizens cannot travel further than 100 km (62 miles) except for specific exceptions and restaurants, cafés and bars remain closed (although many are operating take away and delivery services). The government will take a decision on May 25 to see if they can reopen on 2 June.

I have lived in Provence ever since I exchanged my London city life for the charms of the south of France. I have a background in research, business and finance.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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McDonald’s Expands Its Canadian Plant-Based Burger Test, And Cuts The Price

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Last fall, McDonald’s gingerly joined its competition in the plant-based burger race, rolling out the P.L.T. in a small region in Canada.

Now, McDonald’s is nearly doubling the number of outlets where the faux meat burger is available. And, it is cutting the price, perhaps heeding complaints that the sandwich was a tad too expensive.

McDonald’s Canada said Wednesday that the P.L.T. — short for plant-based, lettuce and tomato — now will be available in 52 locations in Southwestern Ontario, up from an original 28.

The locations still skirt Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, and Windsor, across from Detroit, two major locations where the P.L.T. would get significant media scrutiny and, presumably, draw more buyers than McDonald’s could easily serve.

But the expansion shows the company is willing to keep trying with a plant-based product, especially given its popularity at other fast food outlets.

“The initial test of the P.L.T. allowed us to learn more about guest demand and how to integrate this new menu item into restaurant kitchen operations, while delivering the P.L.T. to our guests with the level of quality and craveability they know and love from McDonald’s,” Jeff Anderson, the chef of McDonald’s Canada, said in a statement.

Image result for mcdonald big size gif advertisements“As a test and learn company, the McDonald’s expansion of the P.L.T. into more restaurants in the Southwestern Ontario region will help us learn more about our guests’ tastes while continuing to provide variety within our menu.”

The P.L.T. test began September 30, and marked McDonald’s effort to enter a market where Burger King, White Castle and Del Taco had already gone, along with numerous independent restaurants.

But, where Burger King offers a plant-based patty on its existing Whopper, and White Castle is offering plant-based sliders, McDonald’s decided to create an entirely new sandwich.

The P.L.T. is constructed with a faux-meat patty, made by Beyond Meat, plus lettuce and tomato, a slice of cheese, onions, pickles, catsup, mustard and mayo. Diners can opt to add bacon.

Photos of the P.L.T. displayed in the St. Thomas, Ontario McDonald’s that I visited last fall made the sandwich look as large as a quarter-pounder.

But I found the patty was only the size of a conventional McDonald’s cheeseburger, and nowhere near the girth of one of its premium sandwiches, and wondered if McDonald’s hadn’t set the price too high.

Originally, the P.L.T. on its own cost $6.49 Canadian ($4.90 in U.S. dollars), or in a combo with fries and a drink for $9.89 Canadian ($7.46 USD).

Others must have spoken up, because on Monday, McDonald’s said the P.L.T. will now cost $5.99 Canadian as of January 14, or $4.60 USD. It said prices could vary by outlet.

“We gathered a lot of feedback in the initial test about what people like about the P.L.T.,” Michaela Charette, head of consumer insights at McDonald’s Canada, said in the news release.

“As we expand the test, we’re continuing to listen to our guests across Southwestern Ontario and assess the appetite for a plant-based alternative within the McDonald’s menu.”

By testing the P.L.T. in Canada, McDonald’s has escaped the spotlight that might have shone on the company had it chosen an American city.

It has gotten to see how its supply lines handle deliveries of the ingredients for the burger, and the time it takes McDonald’s outlets there to prepare and serve one.

Image result for amazon big size gif advertisementsAlso on Monday, Impossible Foods told Reuters that is no longer trying to land a contract to supply McDonald’s with plant-based patties, saying it can’t provide a big enough supply.

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told Reuters in an interview that “it would be stupid for us to be vying for them right now … Having more big customers right now doesn’t do us any good until we scale up production.”

So, if McDonald’s decides to blanket Canada with P.L.T.s, or bring the sandwich to the States, it’s likely to partner with Beyond Meat, or find another company to produce its patties.

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I’m an alumni of the New York Times and NPR. I learned to cook from my mom, and studied with Patricia Wells and at Le Cordon Bleu. E: mamayn@aol.com T: @mickimaynard I: @michelinemaynard Sorry, I don’t honor embargoes.

Source: McDonald’s Expands Its Canadian Plant-Based Burger Test, And Cuts The Price

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A Beverage Behemoth Awakens As Coke Adds Energy Drinks To Its Portfolio

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It’s still the real thing. But Coca-Cola hasn’t been shy about change over the decades. The company that launched in 1886 has gone through dozens of taglines to convey its brand, from “Drink Coca-Cola” to “Life Tastes Good,” “Taste the Feeling” and many more. Now it’s going beyond spin and slogans to stay relevant with today’s customers, launching a new portfolio of products—possibly its biggest ever —led by energy drinks.

The company made headlines at the National Association of Convenience Stores Expo in Atlanta in October when it said it is debuting energy drinks in the United States next January. But that’s only part of the story.

Coca-Cola’s also launching a baker’s dozen of other drinks and many more flavors, a major change for a company that until not long ago focused on classics and continuity. At a time when soda sales overall are flat (or declining), Coke’s looking for growth in new areas.

The company, in addition to being a giant in the carbonated beverage category, lately has been trying to enter and dominate other nonalcoholic beverage categories, such as coffee and energy drinks. Coke’s seeking to harness its brands, resources, distribution and marketing. It’s focusing on growing and expanding into new sectors, which could lead to a bigger company and, if things work out, other growing brands.

The company, based in Atlanta where the show took place, doesn’t only want to take over shelf space. It wants to eliminate the competition. The goal is to become a leader in each of the categories. The mission is to improve profitability for shareholders, grow market share, enter new markets, leverage brands and ride the tides of taste, while growing top and bottom line. Coke’s second-quarter revenues and margins rose—a double punch. At least for now, Coca-Cola is growing, even as soda is under fire.

The behemoth awakens? With a 60% market share in nonalcoholic beverages, it’s about time that Coca-Cola jumped on board with the trends. There is, nevertheless, room for growth. Simply deciding to debut Coca-Cola Energy in the U.S. already took a bite out of Monster’s stock. Expect the same with Monster’s sales. Coke is also making waves from coffee to vitamin water to energy drinks to fruit juices, smoothies and on. It’s going after nearly anything without alcohol, adding energy to the business—and not just as a drink.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey talks about a “strategy to transform as a total beverage company” in the nonalcoholic beverage space. He isn’t kidding. The company already has more than 500 brands (from Minute Maid to Powerade and beyond) in more than 200 countries and territories. What’s another dozen more? These are often in new categories.

When Coca-Cola paid $5.1 billion to buy Costa Coffee, it was betting big. Coke launched Costa Coffee ready-to-drink chilled product in Great Britain. The company wants to own the morning, building on other big brands with Dunkin’ Cold Brew Coffee. Expect Coca-Cola to try to try to stir up coffee sales with more debuts. You couldn’t be a “total beverage” company without tea. Coke’s expanding Peace Tea with three new flavors next March.

It’s rolling out Coca-Cola Cherry Vanilla and Cherry Vanilla Zero after debuting Coke Orange Vanilla this year as the first new flavor added to the Coca-Cola brand in over a decade. The company this year also rolled out Sprite Lymonade. It’s trying to cash in on the holidays with Coca-Cola Cinnamon and Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry.

Coke even filed a number of patents in 2019 to expand its range, including a way to buy food and beverages from vending machines with cell phones. Add to that methods to produce potable water from otherwise undrinkable sources. A classic company is innovating.

It’s always nice to be number one. When Coke puts its marketing and distribution muscle behind products, magic can happen. The behemoth has woken. Let’s see where it goes now that it’s awake.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am the national leader of Marcum’s Food and Beverage Services group. I’ve been an entrepreneurial leader in accounting for over 40 years, and am a frequent lecturer and published author on various financial and business topics. My expert advice has appeared in both national and local publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Long Island and New Jersey Business News, Supermarket News, and Food Dive. I also founded a series of best practice forums for food and beverage companies, which attract nearly 500 senior executives annually, as well as an annual food and beverage survey.

Source: A Beverage Behemoth Awakens As Coke Adds Energy Drinks To Its Portfolio

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