Grocery workers are still dealing with customer confrontations over masks
Although many grocery store workers have received their vaccines, new regulations allowing vaccinated customers into supermarkets and other establishments maskless are making it easier for unvaccinated shoppers to slip through the cracks. Frontline workers have been expected to both flag and de-escalate such incidences, but many are too burned out and underpaid to engage with angry customers over a year into the pandemic. Grocery store workers have been targets of violence for enforcing pandemic-related protocols, and it's taken a serious toll on their mental health; employees say stronger support from management and firmer restrictions on customer behavior will protect them and improve their mental health. Eater has the scoop.
How fasting changes your gut microbiome
Intermittent fasting could prove to be an effective way to treat diabetes, boost immunity and transform "bad" fat to "good" fat by virtue of the way it affects the gut microbiome. However, research is still in the preliminary stages; in one study scientists discovered that mice who fasted for period periods of 16 or 20 hours saw increases in a genus of bacteria known to be beneficial, but after the fasting period this effect on the microbes ended. It has been established that permanent changes in the gut microbiome would require sustained, long-term dietary shifts to have a real impact on human health. Inverse reports.
In praise of difficult fruit
The average supermarket fruit is easily digestible, easily peel-able or even comes pre-peeled and pre-chopped. But fruit wasn't always as sweet, likable and eternally available as it is now. This piece from The Wall Street Journal describes some outliers of the fruit world, such as yuzu and durian, that can be classified as "wild" or "difficult" fruits but offer a unique culinary experience that's worth at least one try. In fact, there may anywhere from 240,000 to 500,000 plant species that bear fruit in the world, and of these roughly 70,000 to 80,000 may be edible.
Oatmilk, Nashville chicken, kimchi surging in popularity
A new report out of the Kerry Group indicates that the popularity of oatmilk and Korean barbecue won't be subsiding anytime soon in the U.S. and Canada. While health-conscious consumers continue to demand better-for-you products with lower sugar and fat content, a desire for comforting foods and flavors drove sales during the pandemic. Consumers are also seeking out exotic flavors that "disrupt the monotony of their day-to-day life." Learn more at The Food Institute.
Americans pay up for pricey steaks even as cattle abound
Meat companies including Tyson continue to rake in the dough in 2021 as Americans are more willing to pay extra for fancy steaks and burgers at reopened restaurants. Meatpacking plants have been operating under capacity as a result of labor shortages, so ample supplies of cattle will persist into 2022 according to Tyson. The company is facing thinner returns in chicken and pork, currently, and hopes the resurgence of beef will help soften the blow. Of course, this Bloomberg article notes that cattle farmers have thus far been left out of the beef-driven profits, and they are worried about what the rising cost of feed will do for their already-slim margins.