Researchers have developed the first genetically modified version of a Cavendish banana that is resistant to the devastating soil-borne fungus known as Panama disease. The fungus, or Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), can stay in the soil for 40 years and doesn’t respond to chemical sprays. It has destroyed Cavendish — the main commercial banana variety — plantations around the world, and is fast spreading across Asia.
On average, Americans consume nearly twice as much sugar and sweeteners as recommended, says a USDA economist in comparing food consumption data with the current edition of the Dietary Guidelines. "While the American diet has improved in some ways, many people still fall short of targets for some food groups and over-indulge in others," says the analysis in USDA's Amber Waves magazine.
Peach orchards in Georgia and South Carolina will produce a meager harvest this year, the result of a warm winter followed by a hard freeze in the early spring, said the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "What does that mean for peach eaters in the Peach State? Probably only a shorter season," said the newspaper, as growers sell the fruit close to home and curtail out-of-state sales.
The 8,000 free bananas that Amazon hands out every day are disrupting the banana business for local vendors. “The brainchild of CEO Jeff Bezos, there are now two stands on its corporate campus staffed with ‘banistas’ led by ‘bananagers’ who give out bananas to anyone and everyone nearby, whether that’s one banana for breakfast or a dozen,” says Consumerist.com.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that far from being a healthy drink, "Fruit juice has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children." American children between the ages of 2 and 18 consume almost half their fruit intake in the form of juice, but doctors warn that has to stop.
Washington state farmers grow 70 percent of the country’s apples, but this year there’s a new apple on the tree, says NPR. For the first time anywhere, growers are planting a variety known as Cosmic Crisp, named after the yellow, star-like flecks in its flesh.
For many orchards, cold weather is a menace but in California's Central Valley, mild winters are becoming a threat, says Valley Public Radio. Crops such as peaches, pistachios and almonds need a certain amount of frigid weather - chill hours in agricultural terminology - to set the buds that bloom into flowers that produce fruit and nuts.
Nearly half of the fruit and vegetables grown on U.S. farms never reach consumers, because the “cult of perfection” demands perfectly shaped peppers and blemish-free apples, says the Guardian.
Despite a steady bombardment of advice about the importance of eating a healthy diet, Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables on average than they were in the 1990s, said the USDA’s Economic Research Service, which analyzed annual consumption rates for 120 varieties of raw, dried, canned, frozen and juiced produce between 1994-98 and 2007-2008.
In Japan, the season’s first fruits are prized possessions, bought by the rich as status symbols. Last week, a grocery store owner broke world records, when he bid 1.1 million yen at an auction—nearly $11,000—for a cluster of 30 grapes that took 14 years to grow, The Guardian reports.
“Ugly” fruits and vegetables might actually be more nutritious than blemish-free produce, says NPR. Scabs and scars on the skin are a sign that the plant fought off invaders, whether pests or fungus.
In a monthly update, the Agriculture Department stuck to its forecast of a 3 pct annual increase in food prices this year.