Happy Halloween! In this spooktacular edition, prominent voices in food, beverage and agriculture:

  • Dealt with tricky topics around getting food out the door.
  • Dished out holiday treats for the kids (mostly).
  • Delivered nutrition advice to cure the candy hangover.

Tricky Situations

On the less-fun side of the Halloween equation, industry leaders navigated troubled waters. From supply chain struggles and crop diseases to sustainability and ingredients.

  • The Guardian reported on October 22 that U.K. grocers disguised empty store shelves with cardboard cutouts of unavailable food items. That’s a new take on ghost peppers.
  • In the wake of a hard seltzer bust, Boston Beer Company Chairman Jim Koch explained to CNBC: “We want Truly to have that fresh, bright taste, so we’re going to crush millions of cases … just to make sure consumers didn’t get stale product.”
  • Food Business News shared news of Beyond Meat’s third-quarter earnings: the company expects $106 million … $15 million to $35 million shy of predictions.
  • Activist group Break Free From Plastic conducted an audit of global plastic pollution, finding that food and beverage makers topped the list of brands whose packaging washes ashore.
  • Environmental Working Group criticized candymakers for using the “ghoulish trio” of titanium dioxide, TBHQ and BHT. Ghoulish or not, the FDA considers these ingredients safe.
  • Modern Farmer suggested rushing the canned pumpkin aisle. Bad weather and a sprouting fungus could dent the crop in the pumpkin capital of the world — central Illinois — by as much as 30%. Don’t lose your gourd just yet, there’s still plenty of pumpkin spice out there.
  • Ken Ferrie called the corn harvest “scary,” with average harvest losses five to seven times average levels in the Midwest (Farm Journal). Ferrie also gets into the nitty-gritty, if you need help negotiating flattened or wet fields. We’re all ears.

A Happier Halloween

With a less spooky outlook than last year for neighborhoods across the country, we tracked these fun-sized tidbits about All Hallows Eve. As always, we have a keen ear toward cool data visualization, responsible policymaking, and … general wackiness.

  • This thinkpiece on candy corn, courtesy of the Hustle, brought to our attention the recent “Thanksgiving Dinner + Apple Pie & Coffee” variety bag. Registered dietitian Heather Martin’s Facebook review called the stuffing flavor “an unrepentant violation of the Geneva Convention” and the green bean “unforgivable.”
  • KFC started a legitimate change.org petition to encourage households to swap out candy corn in favor of KFC corn.
  • Heinz promoted “Tomato Blood” in its Halloween store. Let’s hope the same litigious Pop Tart haters don’t go after Heinz on this one.
  • To help celebrate the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead; November 1), a Washington Post article described the pan de muerto (bread of the dead) at a Mexican bakery in Tucson. The recipe originally called for anise, according to baker Erica Franco “to ward off the evil spirits.”
  • For data geeks, Chicago-based Numerator shared a graphic “Candy Tracker” that tallies weekly candy sales, promotional spending and other bite-sized nuggets of data.
  • Danone North America tweeted about its Two Good Yogurt brand’s limited food-waste-preventing pumpkin flavor made with verified rescued pumpkins.
  • CropLife America shared a Farm Bureau article titled “Halloween Starts on the Farm.”
  • Popular Mechanics suggested an equation to help households calculate candy purchases for trick-or-treaters: time × kids × generosity. But we were told there would be no math.

“After a full year of celebrating seasons through the pandemic, people have expanded their ways of celebrating, adding more at-home activities while resuming cherished community and social traditions.”

Phil Stanley, global chief sales officer, Hershey (Supermarket News)

Worth Reading.

Some important points of view worth checking out this weekend.

A Meaty Take on History

Protein didn’t become a nutritional superstar overnight. In The Conversation, University of Oregon history lecturer Hannah Cutting-Jones provided an overview of the decades-long journey from John Harvey Kellogg’s research in the early 1900s through the modern obsession with the macronutrient.

Sweating Out Insulin Resistance

With the association of Type 2 diabetes and diet, we’re happy to report that insulin resistance is reversible. Research shows that calorie reduction, weight control and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%. According to The Washington Post, the most effective tool to do so is exercise.

‘Your Brain on Food’

CNBC asked Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, faculty member at Harvard Medical School and author of “This Is Your Brain on Food,” what she eats daily to sharpen her memory, focus and overall brain health. On her list: extra-dark chocolate, berries, turmeric (with black pepper), leafy greens and fermented foods. She says berries alone can “reduce symptoms of anxiety and help fend off neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.”

Sweet Tooth

According to a study published in the health journal PLOS ONE, our taste buds know the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners. Researchers at Rutgers University described the way we perceive sweet flavors as “a molecular calorie detector, of sorts. … it could help explain the overall preference for sugared beverages over non-caloric sweetener beverages.”

Know Your Rights

On November 2, Maine voters will determine if the Pine Tree State will become the first to declare a “right to food” for its citizens. It won’t protect anyone who poaches or steals food, but it could affect intellectual property for seed traits. Notably, the measure includes no funding for hunger relief (Food Safety News).