Allison Aubrey

Allison Aubrey is a correspondent for NPR News. Aubrey is a 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards nominee for her broadcast radio coverage of food and nutrition. And, along with her colleagues on The Salt, winner of a 2012 James Beard Award for best food blog. Her stories can be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She's also host of the NPR video series Tiny Desk Kitchen.

Through her reporting Aubrey can focus on her curiosities about food and culture. She has investigated the nutritional, and taste, differences between grass fed and corn feed beef. Aubrey looked into the hype behind the claims of antioxidants in berries and the claim that honey is a cure-all for allergies.

In 2009, Aubrey was awarded both the American Society for Nutrition's Media Award for her reporting on food and nutrition. She was honored with the 2006 National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism in radio and earned a 2005 Medical Evidence Fellowship by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Knight Foundation. She was a 2009 Kaiser Media Fellow in focusing on health.

Joining NPR in 1998 as a general assignment reporter Aubrey spent five years covering environmental policy, as well as contributing to coverage of Washington, D.C., for NPR's National Desk.

Before coming to NPR, Aubrey was a reporter for PBS' NewsHour. She has worked in a variety of positions throughout the television industry.

Aubrey received her bachelor's of arts degree from Denison University in Granville, OH, and a master's of arts degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Despite all the cheerleading for healthy eating, Americans still eat only about 1 serving of fruit per day, on average. And our veggie consumption, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls short, too.

Americans are accustomed to being nagged about salt. We're told we consume too much — particularly from processed foods. And that all this salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

If we hit the gym, don't we deserve a little extra something, maybe something sinfully sweet? The idea that sacrifice begets reward is embedded in our collective thinking.

But a fascinating new study from the folks at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab shows how this thinking might backfire. Thinking of exercise as work can lure us into mindlessly devouring calorie bombs, such as a big helping of pudding or extra handfuls of M&M's. And compensating for physical activity with sweet treats this way may lead to weight gain.

School Lunch Debate: What's At Stake?

Jun 11, 2014

School lunches have never been known for culinary excellence. But to be fair, the National School Lunch Program — which provides free or reduced lunches to about 31 million kids every day — has never aimed to dazzle as much as to fill little bellies.

In 2010, Congress gave the Federal School Lunch Program a nutrition make-over. New regulations called for:

On National Doughnut Day, it's hard to imagine how our love of doughnuts might be contributing to deforestation halfway around the globe.

But here's the connection: You know that oily smudge left on your fingers after you polish off a doughnut? That's not just sugar. It's also palm oil.

The major doughnut retailers — from Dunkin' Donuts to Tim Hortons and Krispy Kreme — fry their sweet treats in palm oil, or in blends of oil that include palm oil.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, that story on that came to us from NPR's Allison Aubrey who joins us in the studio now. And, Allison, Elizabeth, right there at the end sounded very relieved to be eating fat again, a burger.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: That's right. She did.

GREENE: And, yeah, and I'm wondering does this mean that we can bring back the burgers? Bring back the bacon? Would make me very happy.

AUBREY: Ah-ha. That's what you're looking for here. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Marketing to kids may have gotten a bad rap in the past. Especially since children have been the target of so much junk food advertising.

But it's a new day.

Increasingly, companies are seeing profits pushing ultra-healthy stuff. And they're not using a finger-wagging, guilt-ridden, eat-your-veggies-because-they're-good-for-you messaging.

Birds Eye is taking a page from the playbook of other companies that have had success leveraging the power of teen pop stars: The frozen food giant is turning to Disney.

That compound found in commercially baked bread — yep, the one that's in yoga mats, too — is in the news again.

A report from the Environmental Working Group finds that the compound, azodicarbonamide, is found in close to 500 food products, from Pillsbury Dinner Rolls to Little Debbie products to Wonder Bread.

Americans who ate a diet rich in animal protein during middle age were significantly more likely to die from cancer and other causes, compared with people who reported going easy on foods such as red meat and cheese, fresh research suggests.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

We've been hearing about the Food and Drug Administration's proposed makeover of the Nutrition Facts Panel, the box on food packages that tells us how much fat, sodium and other things are a product. Today, the first lady introduced the redesigned label at a White House event.

NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.

If you're perplexed about how to make healthy choices when you're shopping for food, you're not alone. We've all puzzled over a food label that was confusing and hard to follow.

But some help may be on the way, as I reported on All Things Considered Tuesday.

Question: Which of these foods are said to stir passion? An oyster, and avocado or a turnip? (Scroll down to the bottom for the answer.)

One of these, at least, is a gimme. The stories linking oysters and other shellfish to lust go back to at least the ancient Greeks.

Think of the image of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

"There's something primal about eating oysters," says oyster-lover MJ Gimbar. He describes them as creamy and velvety. "It's like a kiss from the ocean."

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Sugar, we all know from early childhood that it's not the best thing to eat, although most of us love it. But a new study hits home why researchers have found that too much of a sweet tooth can be really bad for our hearts. Still, limiting sugar is sometimes easier said than done, because it's added to so many foods we eat. And some of us, even without realizing it, eat an entire day's worth of sugar before we ever leave the house in the morning.

Long John Silver's has gained some notoriety in the past for serving up what the food police dubbed the most unhealthful meal in America. (aka heart attack on a hook.)

But the fast-food chain is out to change its reputation. One step in this new direction: a quick transition from partially hydrogenated oils that contain bedeviled trans fats. Today, the chain announced it is moving to a 100 percent soybean oil that is trans-fat free.

There's fresh evidence that a Mediterranean diet can help cut the risk of atherosclerosis, a disease caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

After the the school lunch program was overhauled in 2012 to curb childhood obesity, lots of kids began complaining that lunches were too skimpy.

Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time.

In some districts, program participation dropped as more kids decided to brown-bag it and bring their own food to school.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Say you're at the store, and you reach into the dairy case. There's organic milk, or you could go for the regular. There's a big difference in price. So is there any reason to pay more? Well, fresh research published in the journal PLoS ONE could help you make up your mind. NPR's food and health correspondent Allison Aubrey joins us to talk about it. And Allison, what are the results from this new study?

While milk consumption continues to fall in the U.S., sales of organic milk are on the rise. And now organic milk accounts for about 4 percent of total fluid milk consumption.

For years, organic producers have claimed their milk is nutritionally superior to regular milk. Specifically, they say that because their cows spend a lot more time out on pasture, munching on grasses and legumes rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the animals' milk is higher in these healthy fats, which are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Workers rallied in 100 cities on Thursday to raise awareness for increasing pressure to raise wages. The push comes as 19 cities and states already raised minimum wages. A report from Berkeley economists finds the low-wage fast food jobs are costing taxpayer billions of dollars in public assistance — everything from food stamps to Medicaid.

Those of us slaving over pecan and pumpkin pies ahead of Thanksgiving already know that pie-making season is decidedly in full swing. And on a segment for Morning Edition airing Thursday, host David Greene and I discuss the best advice for pie-making newbies. Really, it comes down to this:

Baking is not like cooking a stew or soup. Bakers can't take as many liberties — adding a pinch of this or that.

The number of children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.

Americans have not always been in love with nuts.

Think about it: They're loaded with calories and fat. Plus, they can be expensive.

But Americans' views — and eating habits — when it comes to nuts are changing. Fast.

There's a growing body of scientific evidence that's putting a health halo over supermarkets' expanding nut aisles.

The news from Kraft last week that the company is ditching two artificial dyes in some versions of its macaroni and cheese products left me with a question.

Why did we start coloring cheeses orange to begin with? Turns out there's a curious history here.

In theory, cheese should be whitish — similar to the color of milk, right?

For all of us nearing middle age, or slogging through it, yes, there is a benefit in eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, nuts, vegetables and fruit.

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that women who followed this pattern of eating in their 50s were about 40 percent more likely to reach the later decades without developing chronic diseases and memory or physical problems, compared to women who didn't eat as well.

Oh, what a job. You've got $3 billion to address society's most intractable problems. So what do you do?

If you're philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, son of famed investor Warren Buffett, you set a deadline: 40 years.

And you move at "fast-forward" speed (that's the way Warren describes his son's pace) to steer the most vulnerable people on Earth towards a future where food production is efficient, plentiful and affordable.

Some federal employees have to work despite the closure, while others have been told not to report to work. On Morning Edition, we hear some voices of folks who have already felt the impact of the shutdown. They say they feel "frustrated," and think the partial shutdown is "ridiculous."

The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that lately has become a darling of medical researchers. It includes vegetables and grains, not so much meat and, of course, generous portions of olive oil.

Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University, says the evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. "Olive oil is a very healthy food," she says. "I consider it more medicine than food."

It was the Greeks who first counseled to let food be thy medicine. And, it seems, some doctors are taking this age-old advice to heart.

In New York City physicians are writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. That's right, 'scripts for produce.

If you listen to my story on All Things Considered, you'll hear that the program is the creation of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit that connects low-income people with local produce.

Fresh analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the tide may be turning on the childhood obesity front. After decades of steady increases, 19 states and U.S. territories saw small decreases in their rates of obesity among low-income preschoolers. And another 20 states held steady at current rates.

Breakfast has long gotten a good rap for everything from aiding weight loss to improving focus in the classroom.

And ever since the Alameda County study in California back in the 1960s linked breakfast — along with a host of other habits — to a longer lifespan, there's been a societal push towards breaking the fast.

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