The Lempert Report LIVE

Food & Wine Cities, Eating in Spain, Environment Savings

April 26, 2022 Phil Lempert Episode 30
The Lempert Report LIVE
Food & Wine Cities, Eating in Spain, Environment Savings
Show Notes Transcript

Today we look at the best food cities rated by Food & Wine, the importance of our 5 senses, an update on SNAP, saving money & the environment, Facebook’s whistleblower is going after the Metaverse, and lots on sustainability.  Also, Sally is back with fun food stuff she found in Spain.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. Today, we're gonna take a look at the best food cities as rated by food and wine. The importance of our five senses, an update on SNAP, how we're saving money and the environment Facebook's whistleblowers going after the metaverse and lots on sustainability. But first Sally's back from vacation. Welcome back, Sally.

Sally:

Thank you , Phil .

Phil:

And she's here to tell us what you found in Spain and Morocco food wise .

Sally:

Yes. Well, my, my big takeaway was the , um, the food in Spain. The people of Spain really appreciate their food. Their food is fresh, it is beautifully presented. They take their time enjoying their food. One of my favorite things was the central market in Valencia, Spain, which we browsed for a very long time. And this is where you can go in this, a beautiful old building that is surrounded by a historic cathedral, and you can go and see a butcher. You can go get your pork, your poultry at different places, your bread, your cheeses, your fruits are in one place. Your vegetables are in another place. And on top of that, while you're shopping, you can grab a sandwich that's big enough for two people for about three euros, and you can even get a glass of wine or a beer to walk around and enjoy lunch while you're shopping. And it's just a really lovely experience. I, I also noticed that the people of Spain are very healthy and walking and they're biking everywhere. And there's just a great energy. It's very relaxed and they don't seem stressed out so that was one of my big takeaways. And then another thing I wanted to mention was the respect for recycling and we saw pretty much no plastic, especially when it came to food, no plastic packaging on food, no plastic bags . There were recycling bins for everything everywhere. I eat yogurt every morning for breakfast. And so I got my Danone yogurt and it was in a glass container and I really appreciated that. It was also just a really nice presentation of it.

Phil:

So if I remember properly you know, for dinner in Spain, people sit down around 10 o'clock at night for dinner. How was that for you?

Sally:

Yes, they do. In fact, a lot of the restaurants they close for a Siesta around 4:30 and then they don't open back up until 8:30. And then they stay open until midnight, one in the morning. And so , we were really grateful for that because we were on a little bit of a different, our bodies were on a different schedule coming from the United States. So we did enjoy eating late. But yeah, you've got that time period there where nobody's open.

Phil:

And what about the food itself?

Sally:

Amazing. We had such a great experience. We enjoyed , we enjoyed tapas, which is, is a really great way to enjoy people and enjoy food with other people ordering a few different things from the menu and sharing them so that you can try a lot of different things. I loved that part of it and really very reasonably priced too. You know, we ate in, we ate in in some really nice places and , it didn't, it didn't cost as much as it would in the United States to have a few different things and a glass of wine. It was, it was really lovely. And we also especially loved, we went to Valencia, which is the paella capital of the world. And so we ate in this really lovely restaurant on the beach where they served paella in the big Paella pans. And that was a real treat.

Phil:

Nice, nice, well, welcome home. And I can't wait to go to Spain. I've never been to Spain,of, of all the Cities.

Sally:

I think you w ill really enjoy it. Yeah.

Phil:

Yeah. Well, let's, let's talking about cities. Let's talk about food and wines. America next great food cities. It is a massive article. We don't have time to go through it all. But there's some interesting things, especially for those supermarkets that have grocers or thinking about grocers . The number one city that they talk about is Cincinnati, Ohio and Cincinnati's Finley market, which is a historic quarter centered around a mid 18 hundreds hall branding with fresh pick produce and energy of thousands of hungry locals. Sounds like, you know, what you, what you had there. The, one of the most famous dishes in Cincinnati is cinnamon laced, chili served over spaghetti. You know, it, the first time I went to Cincinnati, which was, you know, eons ago and I had this whole, you know, chili on top of spaghetti. I I'll never forget it, but I've never eaten it any place else. Where else should we be going?

Sally:

Well, Phil, what's interesting, you know, is some of the larger cities are on the, on the list like Boise, Idaho, Omaha, Nebraska, we've got Charlotte, North Carolina, but what else is interesting to me is the smaller cities. So as a result of the pandemic and the challenges , some entrepreneurs, food entrepreneurs and chefs have moved to smaller towns and really , right the level of the food scene in these, these little towns and some of those are Bozeman Montana , Charlottesville, Virginia Greenville, South Carolina, they've apparently have got really great food scenes going on. And one of the themes that I really saw throughout all of these was that a lot of these restaurants and chefs and people that are a part of the food scene are really champions for helping everyone have equal access to food and building communities.

Phil:

And the one thing that I learned from this and highly recommend that you go online, you check out this article from food and wine. Lots of really great ideas, especially as I said, for grocerants that really want to push the envelope forward. But the one thing that I didn't know, and we were always constantly learning , is where the Ruben came from, which is shocking to me, the Ruben sandwich, which I would've thought , was probably in New York or an LA based , you know, creation actually comes out of Omaha, Nebraska. Did you know that?

Sally:

I did not know that. And I read this and I, I read about how it was a popular sandwich for people to , to eat playing poker after work. And so I thought that was really interesting and I, I, would've never guessed that.

Phil:

So coming back from, from Spain and again, being surrounded by all kinds of wonderful foods , I'm sure that that the aromas of foods really played, you know, a big part.

Sally:

Absolutely. And you know, when you walk into that, that big market in Valencia, just the, the smells as you walk around are overwhelming. It's, it's really lovely and , and really makes you appreciate the food.

Phil:

So Bee Wilson wrote a fascinating story, how we lost our sensory connection with food and how to restore it in The Guardian. And one of, one of the things that she writes that I think is very important for us all to pay attention to is one of the most striking things she says about eating in the modern world is that we do so much as if it were sense blind . We switch off our senses when choosing what we eat, our noses can distinguish fresh milk from sour milk, but we prefer to look at the used by date rather than sniffing. So I guess the question, and we've, we've spoken a lot about how, you know, long COVID and, and COVID really reacts to the sense of smell about what she points out. It's not just about COVID certainly, you know, for some people that's a problem, but for most of us we've really relegated our sense of smell to our sense of sight.

Sally:

Yes. It seems that we, you know, we're , we're not interacting with our food the same way when you think about it. And, you know, we're , we're buying, we're going to the produce department, we're buying , uh, products that are pre sliced, prepackaged wrapped in plastic. So we're not touching the fruit for ripeness and smelling the fruit to see how, you know, if it's what we wanna buy. So there is a different, there is a different interaction with our food. And I think also, you know, buying things based on what we read on packages and buying processed foods, as opposed to more fresh foods and cooking, there's something lost there.

Phil:

Yeah, there is. And also what , what she points out is now on Facebook, there's a Facebook group for long COVID sufferers who talk about joy gets sucked out of food for those who can't smell. They lost their appetite while others had the opposite reaction, desperately eating more in attempt to compensate for the loss of pleasure. She goes on and on again, great article in the, in the guardian, highly recommend it. There's one point that I wanna make that's happened in England where , what they've, what they've done is they've actually added a course for , for young kids , to really talk about the sensory aspect of food and what they find is the kids that go through their course. It's part of the national food strategy , Henry Dimbly in 2021 called for sensory food education to be a basic part of every young child's education for nursery and reception classes. And what they found is a study from Finland , education of preschool children increased their willingness to eat a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and berries. And again, what be points out is try to know your food with your ears, nose, and hands, as well as with your eyes, smell it, touch it, look at it before you taste it . Great, great advice. Absolutely. Great advice. So what's going on with the SNAP program right now?

Sally:

Well, it's, it's looking like that. A lot of people that are using the snap benefits are unable to buy as much fruits and vegetables as they were, maybe they were before. The consumer price index for fruits and vegetables is two per 2.3% higher in February. And that's the largest monthly increase since March, 2010. So we're seeing some of this pandemic relief go away. And actually the benefits are going to be dropping by at least $95 a month or more in the coming months for people that are on, on SNAP benefits.

Phil:

And again, you know, major, major part of the population, 42 million Americans are on SNAP. So this is a huge problem that we've got. Also in 2021 USDA report showed that 88% of snap participants are facing barriers, a healthy eating 61% cited affordability as the main barrier to achieving a healthy diet. So, you know what , what's the solution to all this?

Sally:

Well, I thought one of the interesting points in this article was, was about retailers learning what their community, what is popular to eat within their community and helping them by offering recipes that are affordable, that they can make with those ingredients that they already like to buy.

Phil:

And that's one of the things that we heard loud and clear from the RDBA virtual experience is it's really combining health and nutrition, along with creativity for a recipe along with affordability. So I think that's the magic formula right now that every supermarket is gonna have to follow. If in fact, they're gonna be able to meet the needs of shoppers. Talking about saving money what we find there's a company called Quench. They've been predicting food and beverage trends for more than a decade. And what they find is here are the trends for this year for 2022 saving the environment, saving money, upcycled diets, regenerative agriculture flex at 10 kids beyond carbon neutral Franken meat, adaptive mushrooms, adaptogenic mushroom, sorry, and buzz-free spirits. So which of these trends do you think are probably the most important that we should be paying attention to?

Sally:

Well, I think the flexitarian can kids is a really important one because, you know, we, we know that we have a health crisis with diet in this country. And this report shows that 67% of households are using more fruits and vegetables in snacks in their children's diets. And that is something I think, that we should pay close attention to and continue you to encourage while people are showing interest in that.

Phil:

Yeah. And the report also goes on to say 60% of kids based households are adding plant based options and more than 80% are offering those options to their kids. So, so clearly something that's really important. Adaptogenic mushrooms, I think is also something that we should be watching. It currently generates 8 billion in sales and expected to grow to 19 billion by 2030 mushrooms are hot , there's 2000 different varieties of mushrooms, but only 15 are actually recognized for functional benefits. And, you know, we talk a lot about the metaverse here, and we're gonna continue to do that. In fact, in just a few weeks in May 25th, along within context , we are doing a metaverse , um, webcast. So I want you to be part of that. We've got some major retailers, major brands we're gonna post the link on SupermarketGuru .com . So make sure you join us. Attendance is at no cost . We want you to understand where the metaverse is going, what can be done today? What is realistic? What's just fantasy that's out there. But Francis Hagen , that Facebook whistleblower, who went to Congress now has turned her focus to the metaverse. And what she's saying is , is that Facebook's version of the metaverse is gonna repeat all of its past mistakes. What's that about Sally?

Sally:

Yes. I think that she's saying that there is a huge concern for privacy and Facebook monetizing the data that they collect from other people and with these, with these new devices that we're using in our homes and how much time we're spending on that, it, it does seem probable that it's an opportunity for Facebook to gather more of our information.

Phil:

Yeah. And what she goes on to say is 70% of people don't trust Facebook, Meta the company to handle privacy properly. That's not about the metaverse. And, and I think what's gonna be important for us in the coming months and years is to separate the company, Meta Facebook from the Metaverse itself because we're gonna see a lot of other worlds that are out there in the metaverse. Also what I didn't know and what we should be watching is the electronic frontier foundation. They're a nonprofit organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world. So it'll be interesting to see what their findings are, what they're gonna be doing also for those trivia buffs. The number one media platform in social media in China is actually WeChat. And it has a user base of over 1 billion people, 850 million of them are active users. And there are massive data about the users in China, even more than Facebook is doing. So it's gonna be an interesting privacy issue for us to address and to keep on watching. It's time for the Lempert Report. A recent study in Nature Communications took a look at what environmental factors impact people’s food choices. What is interesting about the study – beyond the resulting observations is that it was conducted on a mobile app. The study did have limitations. Because of the nature of the study itself, the researchers could not determine a causal relationship between the factors they examined. The data collected relied on self-reporting through a mobile app, which as we all know can lead to inaccuracies. The authors also reported that their sample was an imperfect representation of the U.S. population because the sample of population was impacted by who was more likely to use the app, typically those are women and people with higher income levels. Too often we rely on apps or technology to make our surveys easier for us on the front and back end and there is no doubt this trend will continue – however – its important to take a step back and look at the research itself to determine what is the best way to measure results – not the easiest or cheapest way. Back to the study. Overall, the scientists found that higher education levels, increased access to grocery stores, and reduced access to fast food had associations with: •A higher intake of fruits and vegetables •A lower intake of soda and fast food •A lower prevalence of obesity and overweight. They also reported that higher income levels among Hispanic populations led to a higher intake of fruits and vegetables. The associations were weaker among white populations. Reinforcing the fact that we need to identify cultural eating patterns to correctly report food consumption data. Is there anything new and different in this study. I think not. For me the “wow” is the bias created by using mobile app technology itself. On today’s Bullseye let’s talk about sustainability. Earth Day took place last Friday and it is the 52nd anniversary that demonstrates support for environmental protection. This year’s theme was “Invest in our Planet” and while I applaud the movement, I have to say that just raising awareness over the past 50 years hasn’t done much to improve our environment. On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen our nation’s forests, communities and local economies. It was also the opportunity for many in our industry to reinforce their positions on sustainability. Michael Browne at Supermarket News did a terrific recap at how companies are working to meet their environmental targets. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Browne writes, sustainability has remained at the forefront of American consumers’ concerns, with 69% of supermarket shoppers saying they try to reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible, according to a report released by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) of North America. Here are some examples: Wegmans said it aims to shift all customers to reusable shopping bags, which it described as “the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags.” Currently, the supermarket chain has eliminated the plastic bags in 61 of its 106 stores, including all New York locations plus selected stores in Virginia, Massachusetts and Maryland. Hannaford Supermarkets aims to power its operations completely by renewable energy by 2024. Ahold Delhaize USA, ExxonMobil and packaging specialist Sealed Air (SEE) have partnered on what they call a first-of-its-kind plastic food package recycling initiative in the United States. Associated Grocers of New England installs largest solar rooftop in New Hampshire Southeastern Grocers (SEG) plans to shift to more sustainable packaging across its own-brand portfolio by the end of 2028. Jacksonville, Fla.-based SEG said late yesterday that it will “overhaul” its private-label packaging by phasing out the use of polystyrene and making all packaging reusable, recyclable or industrially compostable. Town & Country Markets is partnering with local adventure travel company PacWesty to offer its online shoppers an all-electric, zero-emissions grocery delivery service. Amazon and Target Corp. — announced that they are seeking net zero certification from the International Living Future Institute for two of their store locations as they continue to take steps to meet their sustainability goals. Albertsons Cos. has embarked on a new corporate sustainability and responsibility strategy with the launch of an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework dubbed “Recipe for Change.” Sam’s Club aims to transform its Member’s Mark private label into a more sustainable brand. Once again our supermarket retailers prove that they are the leaders and with their commitments can effect change. Kudos. So Sally, any comments today?

Sally:

Yes, we do have some comments. Okay. So Scene looks says , Hey, Sally, how were the prices in Spain compared to the US? And , what I would say about that is that definitely fresh fruits and vegetables were a lot less than they are here. I imagine that has a lot to do with, they have so much farm happening close by. So these wonderful fruits and vegetables don't have very far to travel to get to people to buy. I noticed that meat prices were probably about the same as what we're experiencing here. So definitely that inflation we've seen with meat as far as dining out, it was interest to me because I think you can , you can eat at a nicer restaurant and have, you know, have a , have a cocktail and have some really nice food for about 25 to 30% less in Spain than , than you can here. So that was a real, that was a real treat.

Phil:

And also in Spain, the tips are included, correct ?

Sally:

They are. And , um, and then it is nice to get a little extra after that, but , um, but they're , um, they're tipping percentages of , and what they expect is a lot different because they're getting, they're getting paid more for that job. Got it . And then we've got Mary Miller asks any news on the Avian flu.

Phil:

So what we, what we know so far is that there are millions of birds, millions of he that have to be cold , uh, killed if you would , uh , because of the avian flu, the price of eggs have about doubled. Um, there's no end in sight so far in talking to some poultry producers. They're very concerned about it. And frankly, they're concerned that it may continue a little bit longer but in the meantime, get ready for anything to do with eggs, to go up in price with that. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget. Go to supermarketguru .com , check out Lost in the supermarket, check out , Farm Food Facts, all of our webcasts, all , all of our archives of the Lempert reportLive. Sign up for our newsletters and we'll see you again here next week. Same time, 1130 Pacific, 2: 30 Eastern time. And until then have a great week.