Nutrition News: Commercial Egg Shortage, Labels and Local Foods, and a Way to Eat Fat and Stay Lean
Worried about the commercial egg supply crisis brought on by the rapid spread of deadly bird flu across U.S. farms? Rightly so. The H5N2 virus has stricken and in many cases killed nearly 47 million birds, most of them hens who provided eggs for processed foods or bakeries. In only weeks, a third of the commercial egg supply has vanished, leaving bakers scrambling. The good news is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has approved the importation of egg products from the Netherlands to help relieve the pressure, and seven countries are now approved to import shell eggs for use by bakeries and food processors: Chile, Argentina, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Even though the flu will likely abate when temperatures rise, the effects on egg supply may linger for years. Meanwhile, the price of eggs for consumers has skyrocketed more than 120 percent, prompting some shoppers to buy less-affected cage-free and organic eggs, which haven’t seen as great a price surge.
Imagine being able to eat a diet rich in fat and high in calories and not gain any weight. (Perhaps it is not the first time you have imagined this.) Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center have identified an enzyme in mice that is linked to obesity, as well as to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. And they found that when they turned off the enzyme, called Kit, the mice could scarf down a high-calorie, high-fat diet without packing on extra weight — or developing diabetes or metabolic issues. There is as of yet no evidence that the same mechanism will hold true for humans, but hey, there's no harm in dreaming.
A little information can go a long way. A new Cornell University study of food labels in dining halls found that when people are informed about the calories and fat content in the foods they are being offered, they tend to choose healthier foods and to reduce their fat and calorie intake overall. "The consumer needs all the help they can get to resist the temptations that the food industry uses to have us increase consumption," said study co-author David Levitsky. "Insisting that food labels be visible on the foods we purchase may be the kind of help people need to resist the epidemic of obesity."
Something locavores (and the rest of us) can celebrate: Even as Americans eat more food made by big companies and less sourced from nearby farms, a new study has found that the potential to source our food locally may be greater than we realized. In fact, according to researchers at the University of California, as much as 90 percent of Americans could eat food grown within 100 miles of their home, and more than 80 percent of us could rely on food grown within 50 miles. Author Michael Pollan has commended the researchers for bringing “hard data” to the table.
Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .