By Moira McCarthy
- Researchers say eating at restaurants is generally bad for our overall health.
- They note that 50 percent of full-service restaurant meals and 70 percent of fast-food meals are of poor dietary quality.
- Experts say you can avoid unhealthy eating habits at restaurants by checking the menu beforehand and saving a portion of your meal for lunch the next day.
There was a time not so long ago when dining out was a rare treat and most of our meals were prepared at home.
Making Quality Food Available<p>The study results come as no surprise to food entrepreneur <a href="https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/sfa-news-live-innovator-series-shannon-allen-grown/" target="_blank">Shannon Allen</a> and her husband, former NBA star <a href="https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/a/allenra02.html" target="_blank">Ray Allen</a>.</p><p>Eight years ago, while driving along a suburban Boston highway and realizing her young son with type 1 diabetes needed to eat quickly, Shannon Allen was faced with the realization that not one of the many restaurants she passed — fast food or otherwise — came close to offering the kind of meals she chooses to feed her children.</p><p>In reaction, Allen took action. She formed <a href="https://www.grown.org/our-story/" target="_blank">Grown</a>, a group of organically certified restaurants.</p><p>Her goal is to place a healthy spot to eat quickly close enough for anyone to access.</p><p>So far, Grown has four locations, including one in the Florida stadium that will host <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/super-bowl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Super Bowl</a> 2020.</p><p>Allen agrees personal choice plays a role in ordering, but she places the responsibility squarely on the restaurants themselves.</p><p>"I think that for the most part, the food industry is broken," Allen told Healthline. "For some families, it's cost prohibitive to eat real food. Delicious, fresh, nutrient dense, organic ingredients are about three times more expensive than conventional grown ingredients, and it only costs pennies to eat traditional fast food, like burgers, tacos, and fries."</p><p>Allen says those choices aren't necessarily a bad thing if they're an occasional meal. However, if that's the only kind of food a person can afford, it will affect their health over time.</p><p>"If we lead with what's right, what is real, and what is obvious — that real food made with fresh, organic ingredients should be the right of every family," she said, "now we are really doing something to change busy people's lives for the better."</p>
Getting the Government to Act<p>Mozaffarian agrees that restaurants must take action, but he adds this problem should be attacked with a societal and governmental effort as well.</p><p>He says federal, state, and local governments should reward restaurants that are doing the right thing.</p><p>Those officials, for example, can link the <a href="https://www.eda.gov/opportunity-zones/" target="_blank">Opportunity Zones</a> legislation to healthier menu items, or provide tax or regulatory policy that encourages and lowers the cost of healthier options and eating.</p><p>He adds that more messaging is needed to consumers about how critical their food choices are for health and healthcare costs.</p><p>"Many chefs are showing that healthier options can taste even better than unhealthy ones. We need more of this innovation," Mozaffarian said.</p>
What You Can Do<p>So, what's a busy diner to do?</p><p><a href="https://susanweinernutrition.com/" target="_blank">Susan Weiner</a>, MS, RDN, CDE, FAADE, owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition, suggests diners take time to think ahead, study menus, and not fall prey to special "value deals."</p><p>"If you're with other people, it's always best to order first," she told Healthline. "You are less likely to be peer influenced."</p><p>She also suggests the following:</p><ul><li>Review the menu before you go to the restaurant so you have a heads-up on the offerings. You can also call in advance to see if food can be prepared in a way that's satisfactory to you.</li><li>Try to avoid the "upsell" meal deals. Stick to the basics.</li><li>Your server is your friend. Be kind, and ask for recommendations that would fit your needs.</li><li>Put some away for lunch tomorrow. Think about how much you would eat at home. Chances are restaurant portions are much larger. Or, share a meal.</li></ul><p>Mozaffarian would also like to see the presidential candidates not just take this up as a talking point, but take action on the campaign trail.</p><p>"With the 2020 elections in full swing, everyone is talking about healthcare and healthcare costs, but no one is addressing a leading driver: poor food," he said.</p><p>"In fact, it sometimes seems like the candidates are trying to outdo each other on the campaign trail by eating the worst food possible. We will never get healthcare costs under control until we fix our food system. This is a leading opportunity for innovation and better health," Mozaffarian said.</p>
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Beijing, China's capital city, has reintroduced strict lockdown measures after a fresh cluster of positive COVID-19 tests was traced back to a fresh food market, according to CNN.
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Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
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The climate crisis is hurting the New England fishing industry, claims a new report published Monday, with a decline of 16% in fishing jobs in the northeastern U.S. region from 1996 to 2017 and more instability ahead.
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Slashing U.S. Meat Consumption by Half Could Cut Diet-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 35%, Study Finds
By Andrea Germanos
A new study highlights how addressing U.S. diets could help tackle the climate crisis, finding that if Americans cut their consumption of animal-based foods by half, it could prevent 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
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By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
Marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has made the difficult decision to suspend its campaign to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise in Mexico's Upper Gulf of California.
Two of the Sea Shepherd ship that patrol the vaquita refuge. Jack Hutton / Sea Shepherd<p>Vaquitas (<em>Phocoena sinus</em>), which are endemic to the Sea of Cortez in the Upper Gulf of California, are on the brink of extinction, although there are different estimates of how many are left. A recent <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.190598" target="_blank">study</a> calculated there to be fewer than 19 vaquitas left as of the summer of 2018. Another <a href="http://www.iucn-csg.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CIRVA-11-Final-Report-6-March.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>, conducted by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), suggested only about 10 individuals remain, although it also stated that there's a 95 percent chance that 6 to 22 individuals continue to exist.</p><p>The biggest threat to the vaquitas is the illegal fishing of <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22003/9346099" target="_blank">totoaba</a> (<em>Totoaba macdonaldi</em>), which, like the vaquita, is classified as a critically endangered species by the IUCN. The totoaba's swim bladder is believed to have special medicinal qualities in traditional Asian medicine, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this. The bladders, which are used to make a "curative" soup, <a href="https://awionline.org/content/vaquitas-and-totoabas" target="_blank">can fetch prices up to $14,000 USD</a>, according to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and they're regularly trafficked in the global wildlife trade.</p>
A vaquita surfacing in the Sea of Cortez. Sandra Alba / Sea Shepherd<p>Since totoabas are about the same size as vaquitas, vaquitas easily get caught in the gillnets meant to capture totoabas. Gillnets are also used to catch shrimp in the Sea of Cortez, which wreaked further havoc on the vaquita population.</p><p>In 2015, the Mexican government placed a two-year ban on gillnet fishing in the Sea of Cortez, and in 2016, it announced a <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2016/07/mexico-bans-gillnets-to-protect-rare-vaquita-porpoise/" target="_blank">total ban on gillnet fishing</a>. Despite these legislative efforts, fishing has continued in the area. During a patrol in October 2019, Sea Shepherd reported seeing <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/rampant-fishing-continues-as-vaquita-numbers-dwindle/" target="_blank">more than 70 fishing boats</a> in the vaquita's critical habitat.</p>
A dead vaquita floating in the ocean. Robbie Newby / Sea Shepherd<p>Last month, the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-04692.pdf" target="_blank">announced</a> that it would ban all imports of Mexican shrimp and other seafood caught in the vaquita's refuge, an action taken under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Conservationists hope this latest step will provide enough protection to help the vaquita survive.</p><p>"This is exactly how the law protecting marine mammals is supposed to work: if Mexico's fisheries kill vaquita at a rate that violates US standards, the US must ban imports," Zak Smith, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said in a statement. "Mexico has no choice but to eliminate the destructive fishing taking place in the northern Gulf of California that is driving the vaquita to extinction. It's the only hope the vaquita has for survival, and it is required if Mexico wants to resume exporting these products to the United States."</p>
Sea Shepherd crew members removing illegal gillnets from the Upper Gulf of California. Robbie Newby / Sea Shepherd<p>Sea Shepherd has spent the last six years patrolling the vaquita refuge, often with scientists and photographers on board to collect data on the vaquitas and to conduct acoustical monitoring. The group has also retrieved 1,200 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the vaquita habitat, according to a <a href="https://seashepherd.org/2019/09/09/expedition-to-sight-critically-endangered-vaquita-porpoise-a-success/" target="_blank">statement</a> on its website.</p><p>While Sea Shepherd isn't able to be in the Sea of Cortez right now, the Mexican navy will be monitoring the waters, Watson said. Fshing activities may decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's also possible that poaching will continue — or even increase. "Poachers take advantage of opportunities," Watson said.</p><p>Sea Shepherd crew will return to the vaquita refuge as soon as it can.</p>
Illegal fishing activity taking place in the Sea of Cortez. Sea Shepherd<p>The vaquita may be fighting for survival, but Kate O'Connell, marine wildlife consultant at AWI, believes there's still hope.</p><p>The vaquita sightings demonstrate that vaquita remain, and those that have been spotted appear healthy," O'Connell said. "New <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.190598" target="_blank">research</a> … shows that vaquita may reproduce annually, which would increase the species' potential to recover from its current low numbers. While the situation is daunting, other marine mammal species have come back from extremely low numbers, including the northern elephant seal, which was nearly exterminated in the 19th century, and has rebounded from less than 100 individuals to well over 100,000."</p>
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By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
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The population of a marine parasite that sometimes worms its way into sushi has increased by 283 times in the last nearly 40 years, a University of Washington (UW)-led study has found.