Food Industry

Hummus, Almonds and Ginger: A News Brief, Not a Recipe

The world of food and beverage has become so huge that each and every day brings forth a slew of industry-related news stories. Some make national headlines, especially if they involve E. coli or the First Lady. Others land on obscure food-industry websites, where they may or may not be brought to life by links on the blogosphere or in the Twitterverse or somewhere or other.

Some stories, of course, are best left to fester in anonymity. For example, it behooves no one outside of the potato industry to know that The Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) is set to launch a new website that "is dedicated to expanding and translating research into science-based policy and education initiatives on the role of all forms of the potato in a well-balanced diet."

On the other hand, a study suggesting that blanched almonds turn rancid faster than natural almonds can be practical to know when food-shopping. Another report says that adding ginger to your morning breakfast can help curb hunger and play a role in reducing weight.

The nut study comes from the Journal of Food Science, which examined the effects of storage conditions on the lipid deterioration in California almonds. Before your eyes glaze over, here's the simple summary:

Because almonds contain a very high level of unsaturated fatty acids, they turn rancid quickly. The study placed blanched and natural almonds into ten different storage conditions -- temperature, humidity, and so forth were varied. Peroxide values and iodine values deteriorated more quickly in the blanched samples; the skins are high in antioxidants, which, to perhaps state the obvious, fight oxidation. The almond skins also act as a thin, physical barrier against oxygen spoilage.
Moral: If you're storing nuts for awhile, buy the natural type.

Researchers at Columbia University and the New York Obesity Research Center gave ten healthy but overweight men breakfast with a "tea" made from 2 grams of ginger powder -- and gave them the same breakfast with just hot water on other days. Approximately 43 more calories were burned after the ginger-enhanced breakfast, although other metabolism-related parameters were not affected. The finding is that including powdered ginger in the diet could effect how food is processed by the body in a small but significant way, "and influence feelings of satiety without any adverse side effects."
Moral: Researchers also found that more research is needed, so take this news gingerly.

The word on hummus begins with the announcement that Sabra Dipping Co. will be constructing a 20,000-square-foot Center of Excellence R & D facility in Virginia -- and will also be expanding the company's LEED-certified facility.The expanded plant will increase Sabra's hummus production by 50% -- a response to the increased demand for the product. Total costs and associated investments for these moves will total $28 million, and will create about 90 new jobs over the next three years. $28 million dollars to play with, all from the sale of hummus and other dips?
Moral: Hummus appears to be a hell of a lot more popular -- and profitable -- than anyone could have imagined.

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein