Healthier Cold Cuts: Does ‘Low-Fat, Low-Sodium’ Make A Difference?

No matter how you slice it, one thing seems clear when taking a number at today’s supermarket deli counter. A half a pound of turkey is no longer just a half a pound of turkey. It’s a half a pound of Boar’s Head Hickory Smoked Black Forest Turkey Breast – 40 Percent Lower Sodium, cut thin but not too thin, please… But in the end, what is this stuff, really? If you blindfolded someone, could they really tell which ham was the Maple Glazed and which one was the Virginia Smoked variety? Are we really doing ourselves any favors by ordering the low-fat liverwurst, and the low-sodium bologna? Or are we fools being seduced by the ever-smiling deli man or woman in their white butcher’s coat and name badge, and terms like "hand crafted," "classic cut," "premium" or "46 percent sodium free?"… "Just like with all foods, there are some deli meats that are better for you than others," says Peggy Policastro, nutrition specialist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. "An oven-roasted turkey breast will be on the healthier side, versus something like salami, which contains byproducts of different foods, higher sodium, etc.," she says.

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Nutrition Professor Publishes Book on Mediterranean Diet Pioneers, Ancel and Margaret Keys

Joseph Dixon book coverJoseph Dixon, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, has self-published a new book, Genius and Partnership: Ancel and Margaret Keys and the Discovery of the Mediterranean Diet.

The book centers on physiologist Ancel Keys and his wife and co-researcher Margaret Keys, a biochemist, as they scour the world for clues to the causes of heart attacks that were killing American men at an alarming rate in the 1950s. Their journey leads to the start of the groundbreaking Seven Countries Study and contributions to the discovery of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It also led to their writing three New York Times best-selling cookbooks that promoted the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. [Read more…]

What Goes in the Fridge For Safety Reasons and Other Tales

Evidence and perception aren’t often congruent in the food safety world. There are lots of examples from the pages of the Internet: Dirty bathrooms are an indicator of sanitation in the kitchen; pathogens won’t transfer in less than five seconds when food hits the floor; and, yogurt is dangerous if consumed after the best-before date are just a few… K. Aleisha Fetters of Yahoo News connected with Donald Schaffner and I on the difference between refrigeration for safety and keeping stuff cool for spoilage and quality reasons… Fruits and vegetables: It depends. If you think about it, fruits and vegetables grow outside at temps far higher than room temperature. That’s why, when they are whole, they are safe on your counter. However, when you cut them (or in the case of lettuce, just tear their stems from the ground), you actually rip open the cells of the plant. This releases nutrients, water, and bacteria, and allows them to mingle with each other, says food microbiologist Donald W. Schaffner, PhD, distinguished professor at Rutgers University.

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Find Out How Big the Largest Tomato Contest Winner is at N.J. Fair

11-year-old Cody Wright is by far the youngest of the nine competitors at the Salem County Fair’s Largest Tomato Contest, but he has something the other competitors don’t have. He has a pedigree… The tomato contest has a loyal following – with a lot of the same faces competing each year. Cody took the third place trophy last year and, as he enrolls in the competition this year with his primo red tomato, he sizes up the other tomatoes… David Lee, Salem County agricultural agent for the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, runs the competition and weighs the tomatoes… "Everybody has their own secret and they don’t like to tell but some guys will stay up all night and put night lights on them and covers on them and grow them on straw and use special fertilizer," Lee said. "Everybody has their own thing."

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New Brunswick Community Farmers Market – “Community” is Our Middle Name

New Jersey FoodCorps member Thalya Reyes and New Brunswick pre-schooler Julio, savoring the fragrance of fresh basil at New Brunswick Community Farmers Market.

New Jersey FoodCorps member Thalya Reyes and New Brunswick pre-schooler Julio, savoring the fragrance of fresh basil at New Brunswick Community Farmers Market.

National Farmers Market Week (August 2–8, 2015) is a week-long celebration of our nation’s farmers markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible, and the communities that host them. This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week recognizing the important role that farmers markets play in our local food economies. A perfect example of a model farm market that really gives back to the community is the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, a project in partnership with the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and Johnson & Johnson.

For New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, “community” really is their middle name. Besides bringing New Jersey farm fresh produce into urban New Brunswick, the market hosts a number of ways for residents to grow their own and connect with fresh local food.

Senior Program Coordinator Sarah Dixon describes how the market enables residents to obtain fresh food. “The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market was started in 2009 to offer New Brunswick residents – especially those at risk for food insecurity – access to fresh, locally grown, affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate produce and other food products. Whenever you spend any kind of nutrition assistance dollars with us (such as WIC or SNAP) we give half back in Market Bucks to help stretch food budgets to include Jersey Fresh produce during the harvest season.” The market is more than a just vending location. Dixon continues, “Our home base on Jones Avenue started as a 36 raised-bed community garden, and has grown over the years to include a children’s garden, lots of additional growing spaces, hoop houses, a greenhouse, a chicken coop, beehives, and a vermicomposting bin. The gardens are grown and maintained by the community, with frequent volunteer support.”

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