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.

As a society, we don't pay much attention to nutrition information when we eat out.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimates just 8 percent of Americans use nutritional information when deciding what to order.

But that could change soon.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Last month we reported that big food retailers have eliminated billions of calories from the packaged foods they sell in supermarkets.

The word bitter can make some of us wince. In conversation, we talk of "a bitter pill to swallow" or "bittersweet" memories.

But if you're puzzled by the bad emotional rap on bitter — perhaps you even like the taste of bitter greens or bitter beer — it may say something about your genes.

Scientists have been studying a particular taste receptor gene to understand why some of us may be more predisposed to liking bitter foods and hoppy beers. And a new study sheds new light on the bitter gene connection.

As you may have heard, America's diplomats are struggling these days with a few distracting and unpleasant events in far-off parts of the world. But they're rising to the challenge: They're sending in the chefs.

The U.S. State Department launched a Diplomatic Culinary Partnership two years ago in order to "elevate the role of culinary engagement in America's formal and public diplomacy efforts." Some of the country's most renowned chefs have volunteered to help out, joining the department's "Chef Corps."

If you've ever volunteered in a soup kitchen, you know the feeling of having served others.

But what about those on the other side of the food line? Are they getting what they need most?

Robert Egger, the founder of DC Central Kitchen, didn't think so.

If bees in France buzz around the lavender fields, foraging for nectar, what does the honey they produce smell or taste like?

Yes, a bit like lavender.

But not all the floral, spicy or woody aromas detectable in the roughly 300 varieties of honeys being produced today are so easy to name.

That's where the new Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel, developed by a sensory panel at the Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California, Davis, comes in.

Are you finding it tougher to follow conversations in a noisy restaurant? Or does it seem like people are mumbling when you speak with them?

These are two questions commonly used to screen for hearing loss, which affects more than one-third of people over age 65, according to the National Institutes of Health.

So, what to do to cut the risk?

A growing number of Americans seem to believe that everything is better with butter.

"I love butter," says Ashleigh Armstrong, 29, as she sips coffee at a cafe in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station. Among her favorites: "Anything from Julia Child's cookbooks."

There's no margarine in Ashleigh's refrigerator. "I'm not going to have the fake stuff," she says, adding that she'd rather indulge a little in rich foods and burn it off at a spinning class.

And no, she's not worried about cholesterol. That's her grandmother's generation's concern, she says.

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.

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