Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 10 Restaurant Food Trends for the Year

As diners become more sophisticated in their tastes and desire for flavorful, healthful foods, quick-service and fast casual operators are plating up additional items that satisfy those demands, National Restaurant Association research finds.

Consumers questioned for the NRA's 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast ranked their top 10 food trends for the year, with several geared toward children's meals. The trends, in order, are:

1.  Healthful kids' meals

2.  Fruits and vegetable sides in kids' meals

3.  Gluten-free items

4.  Lowfat or nonfat milk and 100-percent orange juice options in kids' meals

5.  Locally sourced produced

6.  Lower-sodium items

7.  Spicy items

8.  Lower-calorie options

9.  Mini-desserts or dessert bites

10.  Low-fat foods

According to Joy Dubost, PhD., R.D., the NRA's director of nutrition and healthy living, consumers today are much more attuned to making more healthful choices and know that childhood obesity is an issue in the United States.

"There has been increasing awareness around childhood obesity and ensuring that future generations remain healthy," Dubost said. "Additionally, it's become a family affair for adults who also are looking for healthful options that meet their dietary needs. As a result, the demand for those options has grown."

Restaurant operator- and industry-focus has shifted to children's menus in recent years. In 2011, the NRA partnered with HealthyDining to launch its Kids LiveWell program.
Despite this increased interest in healthful items, however, the Forecast reported that consumers still have their perennial favorites on limited-service menus. Those items include soft drinks, French fries, iced tea and beef items.

Read more about restaurant trends and statistics.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Small Business Innovation Research Grant (SBIR)

The 2009 USDA SBIR Grant request for applications (RFA) is now available. Funds may be awarded up to $80,000 for Phase I and up to $350,000 for Phase II. Success rates for applicants have been about 15% for Phase I and 50-60% for Phase II. Projects dealing with agriculturally related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all 2009 SBIR topic areas. USDA SBIR's flexible research areas ensure innovative projects consistent with USDA's vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. USDA SBIR has awarded over 2000 research and development projects since 1983, allowing hundreds of small businesses to explore their technological potential, and providing an incentive to profit from the commercialization of innovative ideas. The deadline for applications to be submitted is September 4, 2008. Go to for more information and the application.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Woodland and Carbon Credit Field Day

Woodland owners learn about timber theft, carbon credits and more at field day and conference, June 20-21

WHO: Private woodland owners and tree farmers will visit a crime scene in “The Stolen Forest” and learn that even a university can be a victim of an unauthorized timber harvest.

WHAT: The 28th annual Missouri Woodland Owners Conference is sponsored by University of Missouri Extension, the Missouri Forest Products Association, the MU Center for Agroforestry and the MU School of Natural Resources.

Field trips include “The Stolen Forest,” in which participants will learn to detect or prevent timber theft; how to rehabilitate high-graded stands; and a tour of the Missouri Pacific Lumber Company’s mill in Fayette. Conference topics include news on earning carbon credits for managed forests and an update on efforts to revise state forestry laws.

WHEN: Friday, June 20 (field trips) and Saturday, June 21 (conference).

WHERE: MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center, New Franklin (June 20) and the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Columbia (June 21).

For more info call Hank Stelzer, 573-882-4444; Glenda Fry, 573-634-3252

Monday, June 16, 2008

Missouri-grown tomatoes added to FDA ‘safe list’; consumers can feel confident when buying local

Missouri-grown tomatoes have been deemed safe to eat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and placed on an official list clearing them of any association with recent salmonella outbreaks.

“This is excellent news,” said James Quinn, MU Extension regional horticulture specialist. “It means that consumers can be positive that they are safe when they purchase tomatoes from Missouri growers.”

The listing is also good news for Missouri growers, many of whom have been coping with an unusually cool and wet spring that has delayed production of field tomatoes. “It’s very important that these growers are not interrupted with this recall by having any questions about the safety of their tomatoes,” Quinn said.

While the FDA has not yet determined the source of the salmonella-tainted tomatoes that have so far sickened more than 200 people, Quinn said the FDA has been going through a process of identifying states not associated with the outbreak. “It’s great that the Missouri Department of Agriculture was able to respond as quickly as they could and get Missouri on the safe list so consumers can feel confident,” he said.

Consumers should be able to find Missouri-grown tomatoes at regional and independent groceries, farm stands, produce auctions and farmers markets, Quinn said. “Another source is to buy directly from the grower so you can talk to the grower.”

Quinn noted that prices might be higher for a while due to reduced supply. “It’s important to understand that the overall percentage of tomatoes being supplied by Missouri growers is not a very large percentage of the tomatoes that are consumed.”

If consumers are unsure about the source of a tomato product, the FDA advises consumers to contact the store where they purchased the tomatoes. “At a retail place just go ahead and ask, or maybe look for a sign distinguishing these tomatoes as being from a local source,” Quinn said.

The global nature of much of the fresh-produce market, Quinn added, “creates a situation where bad product can cause a very significant disruption.” He hopes the FDA safe listing will highlight the importance of local food systems.

“This listing should have a benefit for tomatoes produced by Missouri growers, at least in the short term, and I hope even in the long term, because it will emphasize the importance of regional or local production,” he said.

by Tamsyn Jones
Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

Source: James Quinn, 573-634-2824

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My FM Experience in CT

I am in CT and went to the nearest farmers market (FM) today. The FM had only about a dozen vendors: a rose/flower vendor, goat cheese and bottled raw goat milk; dairy sheep cheese; goat cheese and assorted goat value added products from the milk; lamp value added products but no meat cuts; veggies and bakery items; 1 egg vendor; and the rest were veggies. The market was busy and people were coming and going the entire time I was there. Only one vender was certified organic. All other vendors had no description such as naturally grown or raised or any other descriptor.

I was a little surprised at just how unfriendly the vendors were. Service was not the best and it seemed to take forever to stand in line and to check out. No one really seemed interested in assisting you until you specifically asked for it. One customer was frustrated because the producer promised her last weekend that he would bring her a black-eyed Susan plant this week and he hadn't. When another customer asked about the purpling on the cauliflower he was told why in what I thought was a kind of an abrupt way and the producer moved on. The only vendor who was friendly and interacted with his customers and took time to answer questions was the goat milk vendor who was handing out raw milk samples.

I overheard many customers asking about the tomatoes for sale and if they were safe to eat. The responses were that their tomatoes were grown in hothouses.

How produce was displayed was also interesting. Spinach was sold with their roots. Beets were sold in bundles rubberbanded together with the bulbs in water. Bakery items were in individual flat trays with covers and cut into slices. There were no descriptions on any of the flat trays to say what each tray held. There also were no ingredients lists on them either. There were samples galore to try. But there were no sneeze guards, toothpicks or any other what we in MO would expect from the county health department. You just used your fingers to pick up crackers or chunks of bread from a bowl to dip whatever was being sampled. And it was the same for meat (lamb sausages), just use your fingers to pick up a piece from a plate. I was very surprised with what little regulations there must be for bakery items and for sampling.

Here are the prices I paid for what I purchased. None of the items were certified organic.
Spinach - $1.99/pound
Lettuces, leaf - $1.50/bunch
broccoli - $1.49/pound
sugar snap peas - $3.50/pound
shell peas - $4.00 (I cleaned out the rest of the bin and know it was over a pound.)
strawberries - $6.50/quart
summer squash - $1.49/pound (When I asked about the squash and if it was grown in a greenhouse, I was told no it was from the field. I commented that it seemed awfully early for summer squash and he said no and moved on as if he didn't want to answer any other questions.)

I would have bought a dozen eggs but they were $6/dozen. I didn't need any and was glad. They were a tad bit more than I would have been willing to pay.

I hope writing about my experience of a FM from across the US helps you in your markets back home.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Missouri-Grown Tomatoes are Safe to Eat

FDA Adds Missouri to the “Safe” Tomatoes List

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Katie Smith announced today that Missouri grown tomatoes has been placed on the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) “safe to eat” list this evening. Local Missouri farmers have not been adversely affected by the recent outbreak of salmonella in raw red tomatoes that has caused some restaurants and grocery stores to pull tomatoes from their menus and shelves in recent days.

“Missouri consumers can continue to enjoy fresh tomatoes at local farmers’ markets and fresh pick locations across the state,” said Director Smith. “Some stores across Missouri are voluntarily removing tomatoes from certain sources and locations to be safe. Consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes have come from should contact the retail location for the point of origin.”

According to FDA, consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes are from that they have in their home are encouraged to contact the store or place of purchase for that information. FDA also recommends if consumers are unable to determine the source of the tomatoes, they should not be eaten. Restaurants, grocery stores and food service operators have been advised by FDA not to offer the sale of service raw red plum, Roma or red tomatoes and products made from these types of tomatoes unless they are from one of the states listed on the FDA Web site as “not been associated with the outbreak.”

For more information regarding the salmonella outbreak in tomatoes, visit

(From A Look at Missouri Farmers' Markets Blog -

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Farmers markets more popular in urban areas, but rural communities still have opportunities

by Robert Thomas, Information Specialist, Univeristy of Missouri

While farmers markets may be more popular and viable in urban areas, rural communities still have opportunities to create successful local food systems, according to a newly published study.

The study, appearing in the journal Southern Rural Sociology, looked at six Illinois communities to understand their acceptance of farmers markets.

“We found that consumers value locally grown food despite location, but seek it out through different channels,” said Sarah Hultine, University of Missouri Extension community development specialist and a co-author of the study. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach. It requires creativity in developing local markets that build on current shopping behaviors of consumers.”

The researchers studied four rural and two urban markets. Only one of the four rural communities had what the researchers considered a vibrant farmers market.

In urban farmers markets, success often comes because markets provide a public space for consumers to interact with farmers and other consumers while buying fresh, high-quality produce, Hultine said.

Rural consumers, however, may not need the same sort of public space for community interaction and will focus more on buying food from individual local farmers they know and trust.

The one successful rural farmers market studied was Metamora, which focused on connecting with other downtown businesses, including local restaurants and a museum.

Farmers in rural Fairbury worked with a local grocery store to create an in-store venue for their produce, resulting in several thousand dollars in sales in each of the past four years.

“This market for locally grown food serves as a successful example of the alternative markets rural communities can create beyond a traditional farmers market,” said Hultine. The study shows that local food systems are more successful when they address the needs of the whole community and take into account existing shopping behaviors and consumption decisions within the community.

Mary Hendrickson, a rural sociologist with MU Extension, said the findings of the study can be relevant in the development of new farmers markets in Missouri.

Missouri has seen strong growth in farmers markets, with almost 140 markets now across the state.

To be successful, those organizing farmers markets must involve a wide range of individuals, organizations and businesses to make use of existing talents and community resources, Hendrickson said.

Anyone interested in starting a farmers market can consult the recently released MU Extension publication, “Starting and Operating a Farmers Market,” at .

The article from Southern Rural Sociology, “Produce Sections, Town Squares, and Farm Stands: Comparing Local Food Systems in Community Context,” is available online at

Source: Sarah Hultine, 573-729-3196; Mary Hendrickson, 573- 882-7463