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[email protected]: US surpasses 25M confirmed COVID-19 cases | Grocery stores will never be the same

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Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

US tops 25M confirmed coronavirus cases

Almost 420,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the virus was first detected a year ago, and the U.S. recently surpassed 25 million confirmed cases. President Biden has promised 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days, but experts warn that it will be months before the pandemic (and even longer until subsequent economic turmoil) abates. NPR reports.

Grocery stores were already in flux. The pandemic could change them forever

The pandemic has introduced grocery pickup infrastructure that makes the in-store experience completely optional, and new safety protocols have made self-serve bars a thing of the past. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Experts say fast-food-style drive thrus to pick up groceries are the way of the future, and innovations like Amazon's "no-checkout" technology could dramatically change the front of the grocery store once it's fully developed. Fast Company has the story.

Planting crops—and carbon, too

Farming practices that sequester carbon could have a significant impact on the world's carbon emissions, which is why more companies and researchers than ever are racing to scientifically prove its benefits. Soil carbon building practices are under the umbrella of regenerative agriculture (another buzzword!) and have been practiced for decades as a means of keeping soil healthy. Large-scale farmers, however, say that financial incentives from the government are needed to convince more of them to adopt these climate-friendly practices. Head to The Washington Post for more.

'Plant-based' doesn't mean anything anymore

The term "plant-based" is not a synonym for "vegan" or "vegetarian," and its meaning has been diluted greatly by restaurants and food brands alike in recent years. "Plant-based" seems to be headed the same route as "low carb" and "high protein" in terms of companies adopting the term willy-nilly (Vice illustrates this well with a real package emblazoned with the phrase "plant-based rice") for a bump in sales. And they are selling like hotcakes: Survey results from the Good Food Institute show that 23% of consumers report they are eating more plant-based foods than they were a year ago, and sales of plant-based foods grew 29% over the same time period.

Our future food supply depends on endangered crops

Wild relatives to ubiquitous crops like corn and wheat can help farmers adapt to pests, diseases and unpredictible weather patterns driven by climate change. In fact, virtually every crop on the market has already benefited from breeding with a wild relative. These wild relatives are frequently endangered in their natural habitats, and USDA has limited funds, which means conservation activists are looking toward citizen scientists and hobby gardeners now for support. Read more at Civil Eats.

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