According to "Trends in the United States: Consumer Attitudes and the Supermarket, 1997" released in May by the Food Marketing Institute, seven out of ten consumers (69 percent) cited spoilage-related concerns, including bacterial contamination, as the most significant threat to food safety.However, the survey also found consumers are taking action. Almost half of the respondents (45 percent) said that as a result of the safe-handling labels on meat products, they are washing their hands before handling raw meat, washing as well as cooking meat properly and thawing frozen meat in the refrigerator.With regard to nutrition, more than 90 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that the nutritional content of the foods they eat is important. Fat, salt, and cholesterol are among the top nutritional concerns.Survey participants also believe that biotechnology and food irradiation are measures that can improve food safety and product quality. Two-thirds (67 percent) said they would be very or somewhat likely to buy food products such as tomatoes or potatoes that have been modified by biotechnology to taste better or require fewer pesticides. Though Monsanto will likely use this information to support it's Roundup Ready campaign, a careful look at the working of the reply shows that consumers prefer that their foods be untainted by pesticides.More than half (60 percent) responded they would be very or somewhat likely to buy a food product such as strawberries, poultry, pork or beef if it had been irradiated to kill germs and keep it safer.The growing popularity of the take home meal market was also apparent in the survey. One out of five (22 percent) respondents shops the prepared food section, and almost all considered these time-saving preparations to be "home-cooked" meals.Initiated 20 years ago, Trends explores consumer attitudes toward the supermarket and other special topics, including supermarket food service, food safety, new products and services, and nutrition. The research is conducted and reported annually."Trends in the United States: Consumer Attitudes and the Supermarket, 1997" Food Insight, August 1997.Saving FaceNow that Halloween is over, those scary faces you carved on pumpkins don't have to end up in the trash. In fact, by saving those pumpkin skins, the face you save may be your own.Pumpkin is high in zinc, beta carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A, antioxidants that fight free radicals that can cause aging. Free radicals break down collagen, the skin's elastic fibers that make it firm and preserve its wrinkle-free quality. Collagen also gives the skin resilience lessening the likelihood of wrinkles.Recent studies have shown that topically-applied vitamin C can reach through the dermal mantle where the fusion of collagen takes place. Working at the cellular level, vitamin C helps rebuild the skin fibers and restore weakened collagen. As cells bind together, your skin looks plump and smooth. Vitamin C may also prevent sun damage, which is as much a threat during winter months as in the summer. While it may not be strong enough to protect fully against UVA or UVB rays, scientists believe that it can help protect the skin long enough to give it a chance to heal and repair itself.Better Nutrition, September 1997Build a Better LunchAccording to researchers at the University of Iowa, a lunch consisting of a cheese tortilla with chiles and a cup of tea could be enough to keep both the doctor and the dentist away.The scientists haven't pinned down the exact mechanism but believe that cheese stimulates saliva flow, washing away cavity-causing corrosive acids. It also leaves a coating of fat on enamel and thus protects the teeth from these. Scientists also found that when cheese is eaten before a sugary food, acid levels in the mouth don't climb. In fact, they claim that eating cheese four times a day for two weeks built up the mineral content in material similar to tooth enamel by five to ten percent. The calcium and phosphorus content of some cheeses may boost the tooth's mineral resources, replacing what was worn away. Tooth decay fighting varieties include cheddar, monterey jack, swiss, mozzarella, edam, muenster and gouda. Remember to go rBGH-free!Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their heat, prevents cancer-causing substances from attaching to and damaging the genetic material DNA. As an antioxidant, capsaicin reduces the formation of free radicals which also inhibits cancer development. Chili peppers can also neutralize nitrosamines, powerful cancer-causers that form in the body after eating hot dogs, sausage and luncheon meats. Thailand researchers have also found that after eating hot peppers, blood clot dissolving activity rises.Iowa researchers also believe that a cup of caffeinated tea can provide your best defenses against heart disease, cancer and stroke. The polyphenols in tea act as antioxidants and may explain why Japanese women who drink at least five cups a day were half as likely to suffer a stroke compared with those who drank less.Studies also show that tea reduces risk of oral, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colon cancer. Chemicals called catechins block malignant changes in cells, counteract cancer-causing chemicals and boost chemo-protective enzyme activity. Lab tests have even isolated one type of catechin that inhibits the enzyme that is believed to convert testosterone into a hormone linked with causing prostate cancer.Other studies show tea drinkers have healthy cholesterol levels and lower rates of heart disease. It may be due to the antioxidant flavonoids that keep arteries clear by preventing damaging LDL cholesterol from clogging blood vessels.OneSource, Fall 1997Strengthen Immunity with Astragalus TeaPrepare for the cold and flu season with an herbal tea brewed from nature's immunity booster, astragalus root. Research has shown that astragalus, a Chinese herb, enhances immune activity in a variety of ways, including stimulating white blood cell activity and increasing the production of antibodies.In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is classified as a warming herb, and should not be taken during an acute illness such as a cold or flu because it can exacerbate symptoms. Experts recommend taking astragalus in the early fall for at least one month to build up immunity for the winter.To make a strong astragalus tea in the traditional Chinese method, simmer two ounces of dried astragalus root in approximately two and one-half cups of water in a covered pot for one hour. Strain, saving the liquid, and cook the herb a second time by simmering in one and one-half cups of water for 30 minutes. Strain and combine the liquid from the first cooking with the liquid from the second. Drink one cup in the morning and another in the evening fifteen minutes before meals. Astragalus also comes in extracts and capsules.Natural Health, October 1997Fight Colds with ElderberryIf you don't get to the astragalus root soon enough to beat the sniffles, you can move right on to elderberry. This herb has a traditional folk reputation for being a "one-plant medicine chest" because of its many potential applications, but it is most commonly used now to treat the runny nose and sore throat of the common cold, and to help reduce the fever, muscle pain, and other symptoms of the flu.Herbal products are derived from the white-to-yellow flowers and the dark-purple berries of the black or common elder tree (Sambucus nigra), a shrub or small tree native to Europe. The flowers contain flavonoids, an essential oil, mucilage, tannins, and other compounds, whose main effects appear to reduce fever. The berries are rich in vitamin C, flavonoids such as anthocyanins, tannins, and other phyto-(or "plant-") nutrients. However, herbal products made from the leaves or bark of the elderberry tree should not be taken internally.Elderberry works by inducing sweating and stimulating circulation. It also has slight laxative and cough-suppressant effects. Research on a standardized extract of the berry found that it caused a complete cure or at least a significant improvement in symptoms of the flu within two or three days. Certain compounds in elderberry may help counter the effects of some strains of influenza by binding to the virus and preventing it from attacking cells.Elderberry comes in tinctures, liquid extracts, lozenges, syrups, standardized extract capsules, and throat sprays.