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Archive | Restaurant Trends and News

Keep up to date on restaurant and food service industry news and trends, from serious analysis to more lighthearted fare.

The USA is Lead-Free – but is your restaurant?

Check that your faucets are compliant with lead-free laws.

Check that your faucets are compliant with lead-free laws.

Lead exposure is among the most well-documented toxic contaminant today, and health officials have determined that there is no amount of lead exposure that could be considered healthy.

U.S. Senate Bill No. S.3874 modified the Safe Drinking Water Act (amended in 1986) and redefined “lead-free.” Affecting pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, S. 3874 requires there is no more than .25% lead when used with wetted surfaces of pipes and its fittings and fixtures. Put into effect nearly 18 months ago, S.3874 requires your business to be compliant.

But this national law shouldn’t be a surprise.

The California Assembly bill 1953 (referred to as “AB1953”) was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, and went into effect on January 1, 2010. The new law re-defined the term “lead-free” to mean “not more than a weighted average of .25% lead content in pipe and fittings.” Products that dispense water for human consumption through drinking and cooking must be lead-free; this affects products such as: kitchen facets, bathroom faucets, bar faucets, glass fillers, pot fillers, bubblers, and supply stops (to name a few).

In addition to AB1953, Vermont passed its own Senate Bill S.0152 mandating that all products containing lead must “clearly and conspicuously post a warning at the point of sale, stating that these products contain lead and shall also provide to each buyer prior to sale information on the risks of lead exposure.”

Manufacturers are already updating their product lines to be compliant with these new laws. As more states follow suit with California and Vermont law, you can expect that your restaurant will also need to be lead-free, even if you’re not located in the California or Vermont areas. Check your plumbing fixtures in front of house (bathroom faucets, bar faucets, etc) and back of house (kitchen faucets) to confirm that you’re AB 1953 Compliant.

Purchase S.3874 compliant parts at Tundra Restaurant Supply >>

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Food Allergies Aren’t Going Away

food-allergies

As many as 15 million people in the USA (and 17 million Europeans) have some kind of food allergy.

As a restaurant owner, it’s crucial that your kitchen and staff have a process in place to indicate safe food-handling instructions for diners with food allergies. States like Massachusetts and Rhode Island require restaurants to display a food allergy awareness poster featuring the eight most common food allergies (developed by FARE) to protect diners.

But a poster is just the beginning. Many restaurants are requiring additional employee training that instructs staff how to handle customers with food allergies; everything from food preparation (and which utensils are used) to where ingredients are stored are crucial to preventing cross-contamination and keeping diners safe.

Types of food allergies

Most likely you’re familiar with these eight common types of food allergies:

  1. Milk allergy
  2. Egg allergy
  3. Wheat allergy
  4. Peanut allergy
  5. Tree nut allergy
  6. Fish allergy
  7. Shellfish allergy
  8. Soy allergy

Diners suffering from these allergies are typically able to find a menu-substitute to meet their needs, but if you’re fond of butter and cream-based sauces, be cognizant of a substitution for those with a dairy allergy.

Also be wary of cross-contamination, particularly for those with nut-based allergies like tree nuts and peanuts (yes, two different allergies). Nuts may emit a fine powder that could affect other ingredients in your pantry, so take care with their storage. Also clearly denote (and inform staff) which salad dressings might contain nuts (like cashew powder)—salad dressings are a hidden culprit as many diners don’t consider nuts are in them!

What is the difference between a food allergy versus a food intolerance?
A food allergy causes an immune system reaction that may affect various parts of the body and range from mild to severe or life-threatening. A food intolerance, however, tends to be less serious and instead affects your body’s digestive system.

‘Gluten-free’ has become marketing buzzword that’s put on everything from specialized pastas to homemade polish-style latkes at your local farmer’s market. Still unsure of what gluten actually is? Don’t fret, you’re not alone:

Gluten is in fact a protein found in wheat and related grains (like barley and rye). It’s what gives your pasta and bread dough elasticity and shape. Most diners who opt for gluten-free options are either gluten intolerant, or suffer from Celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating the protein gluten. In fact, a new study shows that nearly two million Americans have celiac disease, making it four times more common now than it was 50 years ago.

 

How do you prepare for diners with allergies or food intolerances? Do you have a special menu or are you prepared to customize your offerings?


Shop Tundra Restaurant Supply’s line of allergen-safe purpled-designated kitchen products »


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Chefs Creatively Tackle California’s Drought Laws

When Mother’s Day looks like this in your state…

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4 inches of snowfall on May 10th in Louisville, Colorado.

…it’s hard to imagine other parts of the country are facing the most severe droughts on record. California is entering its 4th year of drought, which has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes. Last Tuesday, May 5th, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25% reduction in overall potable urban water use; that 25% is anticipated to save more than 1.2 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.

The National Restaurant Association reports that quickservice restaurants consume 500 to 1,500 gallons of water a day, with full-service restaurants clocking in at an astonishing 5,000 gallons. Water conservation should be a priority for your restaurant, whether or not you’re located in an area with government-imposed sanctions. Why? Because issues concerning water and other valuable resources affect the industry as a whole, so it’s good to plan ahead and utilize best practices now. Here are a few ways that you can start practicing water conservation (from The National Restaurant Association).

Conserve water now:

  • Serve water to guests upon request
    How often are you dumping out an entire glass of water simply because a guest left it behind and you need a fresh product for the next party? Those 16oz add up quick over a shift.
  • Run dishwashers only when full
    Seems like common sense, but wait to wash those dishes until you can’t even fit a spoon in there.

Long-term investment: Energy Star-rated equipment
Next time you need to replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, combi ovens or other equipment, make sure it’s Energy-related. Energy-efficient equipment can save you thousands of dollars a year.

You can also get creative
As reported by Eater, California chef John Cox, executive chef of Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn, got creative in his water efficiency—he replaced his restaurant’s dish sprayer with an air compressor. “Sierra Mar uses approximately 3,500 gallons of water per day,” Cox says. He continues on his Facebook page, “One of the single largest uses is for spraying off dirty pans and dishes before loading them into the dish machine. That spray handle uses close to 1,000 gallons of water per day.”

The air compressor reduces the sprayer use to 80%, or saves nearly 800 gallons of water a day.

The video, which he shared on his Facebook page, is an appeal to other restaurants to follow suit as an easy way to conserve water.

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For more information on how to set up your own “Kitchen Compressor Hack” visit Chef Cox’s blog here »

Is water conservation a priority at your restaurant? What are ways you conserve water in your kitchen?

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Green Is Always in Season

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), “Environmentally responsible practices are becoming the new normal across the industry, as restaurateurs recognize that recycling, waste reduction, and water and energy efficiency are good for their business and our world.”

Amen to that! There are nearly 990,000 restaurant locations in the U.S., and food service is an incredibly resource-intensive endeavor, so when an industry as large as ours decides to go green, the reverberations are huge.

In one particularly impressive case of efficiency savings, Ted’s Montana Grill spent $111,000 to switch to LED lighting, and ended up saving $140,000 in the first year and $250,000 in the second year on electricity bills.

That’s a large example, to be sure, but there are hundreds of small things food-service pros can do to tread a little lighter and reduce their operating costs in the process. Examples include:

  • Serving water by request only (tap not bottled)
  • Using recycled/compostable disposable containers
  • Installing energy efficient hand dryers in restrooms
  • Reducing portion sizes (scales help)
  • Serving sustainable, ocean-friendly seafood
  • Freezing edible food scraps for later use
  • Composting inedible food scraps
  • Developing more vegetarian dishes
  • Cleaning with eco-friendly detergents
  • Sourcing produce from nearby farms (within 100 mi.)
  • Recycling cooking/fryer oil
  • Using linen/cotton napkins instead of paper

Doing Well by Doing Good
Sustainability is more than a cost-saving strategy, however. It’s also a smart growth strategy, especially when you consider that consumers actively prefer dining at establishments that have a clear commitment to preserving the environment for future generations. The NRA’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast found that nearly half of all restaurant-goers are likely to make a restaurant choice based on its energy and water conservation practices alone!

Green begets green, if you know what I mean. In a competitive marketplace, a restaurant’s commitment to sustainability can become a very lucrative differentiator. (See also: Chipotle Mexican Grill)

If your restaurant, bar, cafe or catering company wants to lessen its impact, the NRA has a wealth of resources to guide your efforts. The association’s Conserve program, launched in 2008, helps operators implement conservation practices that are good for the environment and their bottom line. The initiative even provides restaurateurs with a fully customized roadmap to reducing their energy and water consumption. Check it out!

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How Much Should Restaurant Workers Be Paid?

Pay for restaurant workers. It’s an issue that manages to unite us and divide us at the same time.

According to the National Restaurant Association, half of all American adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives, and a third got their first job in a restaurant.

Most of us, in other words, can sympathize with the plight of low-paid restaurant workers because we’ve been there ourselves at some point, or have a friend or relative who struggles to cover basic needs while working full-time in a food-service position.

Divisions emerge when we stop to consider what, if anything, to do about it. Should we raise the minimum wage? Should we abolish tipping altogether? Should we pressure owners to pay their employees a living wage? Or should we let “the market” sort itself out and avoid potentially messy policy intervention?

Traditionally, many restaurateurs at our country’s 980,000 food-service establishments argue that forcing proprietors to pay their workers more will simply result in either less hiring or worse: layoffs. Further, they say that paying workers more would result in higher prices for patrons, who might decide to stay home and cook.

The counter-argument, one that I agree with, is that modestly raising pay standards to keep pace with inflation and other cost of living metrics is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but will have the added benefit of stimulating more economic activity overall, because compensation isn’t’t a zero-sum game.

After all, folks who work in restaurants like to eat out as much as everyone else! If they’re paid a decent wage, they’ll have the means to patronize local restaurants once in a while.

What’s more, there’s the issue of fairness. Consider the situation in New York City, where nearly two-thirds of restaurant servers live at or below the poverty line. How is this situation OK? This strikes me as a classic example of a market failure ripe for correction.

In the meantime, whether you support change or the status quo, we as patrons can make sure our servers are tipped well, because tips aren’t simply bonuses paid on top of good wages. Without tips—heck, even with them—the far majority of restaurant workers wouldn’t be able to make ends meet.

And if you’re not convinced that your tip makes a difference, check out this powerful video.

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How to Get Customers in the Door on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Holiday table setting

Historically, the holiday season is a very profitable time for restaurants, and this year promises to be no exception. As a matter of fact, Experian predicts 2013 holiday spending will increase by 11 percent over last year.

So how can your restaurant really take advantage of this season of spending? Let’s run though some smart holiday promotion strategies …

Communicate with your current patrons

Time to put that email list to good use! Email is an easy way—and quite cost effective—to spread the word and bring in customers over the holidays. If you don’t have an email marketing provider, MailChimp is a great option, and they have a free plan that will accommodate the needs of most small establishments.

Table displays (tents, postcards, etc.) are another good option because they take advantage of your captive audience. Also: train hosts and hostesses to mention your holiday hours, promotions, menu items, etc., when answering the phone.

All the work you’ve put into building your social media presence and attracting a following? That effort is going to pay huge dividends during the holidays! Be sure to beat the drum over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, et. al, to get folks excited about your seasonal offerings.

Another idea: a direct mail campaign, while somewhat pricey, can be an effective way to reach potential customers over the holidays.

Connect with folks who haven’t dined with you yet

Have you considered running a promotion on a daily deal site? Sites like Groupon and Living Social have gotten a bad rap lately, and there some truth to the notion that these deals can be great for customers but terrible for small-business owners. However, there’s still a time and place for this marketing tool, particularly if you don’t have a large email list or social media following and you want to reach a big audience quickly. What’s more, if you design the right offer you can certainly make the financials work!

Do something special

It’s the holidays, so business as usual won’t cut it. (Nor will simply changing the satellite/Pandora radio station to Christmas tunes.) If you want to attract customers this November and December, we suggest tapping your creative imagination. Maybe new table displays, a cozy cocktail list, or even a totally revamped holiday menu.

Make sure hungry holiday shoppers can find you

These days everyone carries a smartphone, and they’re using them to find nearby bars and restaurants. According to one study from Nielsen, 64 percent of mobile restaurant searchers convert immediately or within an hour!

Does your restaurant show up when customers search online? Improve your visibility and ensure accuracy by updating your important local directory profiles on Google+, Yelp, etc.

Ideally you have a website that looks decent and displays quickly on a 4-inch smartphone screen, but if you don’t … at least try to position the key info that customers need—your address, phone number, hours, menu link—front and center. It’s hard to hunt for information on a tiny screen! Smartphone users are famously impatient, so don’t make them work/wait for it—because they’ll just tap away to competitor’s site.

Another method you might try is slightly “Minority Report”-ish but could be really effective this year: reach nearby shoppers with geo-targeted ads. Google, Twitter and Foursquare currently offer this service. Why not give it a shot?

Last-minute catering services?

In most cases, larger companies have already made holiday-party plans, but if you’re late to the catering party (so to speak), you might still have a chance to pick up some catering business, because this time of year there are always contingencies—companies that forgot to book a venue (small firms are notorious procrastinators) or catering companies that accidentally double booked themselves. You never know!

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Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

Are you ready to go lead free?

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act takes effect Jan. 4, 2014. Are you ready?

Under the act, signed by Congress three years ago, “lead free” will be redefined as “not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.”

This is a significant change, folks! The maximum lead content of plumbing products used to be 8.0 percent. When the law takes effect on Jan. 4, it will be illegal to sell or install products that exceed 0.25 percent lead.

If you live in California, Vermont, Louisiana or Maryland, you’re ahead of the curve. These states have already implemented tougher safe drinking water standards with respect to plumbing materials. The new federal requirements play catch up to these states’ regulations.

The Good News

The act does NOT require existing infrastructure to be proactively replaced. But when you eventually need to repair or replace a pipe, fixture or fitting, you’re probably going to have to find a compliant replacement that has less than 0.25 percent lead.

Also, just to clarify, we’re talking about drinking water here. The act doesn’t apply to non-potable-water plumbing systems, such as industrial processing, irrigation or outdoor watering. The law also excludes toilets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, or shower valves.

What to Look for When Buying New Plumbing Supplies

NSF International and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have responded to the updated definition with NSF/ANSI 372, which will go into effect in October 2013 as certification for the 2014 lead-content restrictions.

nsf-372

Helpful Resources

Want more information about the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and how it might impact your business? These sites can answer your questions.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

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Teen Walks 10 Miles in the Snow to Interview for Minimum Wage Job

Jhaqueil Reagan at Papa Roux's

Photo Credit: AP/Indianapolis Star, Bill McCleery

Let’s face it, it’s tough this day in age to find hardworking teenagers. Doesn’t it seem like teens are more interested in money and materialistic things, but less motivated to work than ever before? Apparently it’s true!  According to a new study on the attitudes and values of high school seniors from the 1970s to now, there’s a growing gap between teens’ desire to work hard and own nice things.

Well, that’s not the case for Jhaqueil Reagan, an unemployed Indianapolis teen. This 18 year old boy walked nearly 10 miles in slush and snow to a minimum wage paying job interview at a thrift store, because he didn’t have enough cash for bus fare.  About half way through the journey he spotted restaurant owner, Art Bouvier who was laying rock salt on the sidewalk after an ice storm earlier that day. Jhaqueil approached Mr. Bouvier asking how far it was to 10th & Sherman. He said “Buddy that’s probably six, seven miles. You’d be better off on a bus especially in this weather.” Jhaqueil just replied, “Okay, thank you,” and kept walking.

Later, when Mr. Bouvier was driving with his wife, he spotted the boy still walking. Astonished, he pulled over and asked him if he needed a ride. Jhaqueil graciously got in the car and proceeded to tell the couple that he was going to a job interview, but didn’t have any money for bus fare. He had already walked 3 miles before seeing Mr. Bouvier.

Mr. Bouvier was shocked. He could not believe a teen was walking 10 miles through slush and snow to a minimum wage paying job interview. He told Jhaqueil that he would double his salary if he worked for him at his restaurant, Papa Roux instead. Jhaqueil accepted and started work the following week.

It’s not every day you find young workers with ambition and motivation like Jhaqueil. In fact, Jhaqueil’s story touched Mr. Bouvier so much that he took it to social media. He posted the story on his Facebook page. Not long after, the story had over 15K likes and 4K shares. Messages of support were pouring in from around the globe.

Fox 59 reported that Jhaqueil’s mother died two years ago and he was looking for a job to support his brothers and sisters. He had to drop out of high school and recently got his GED.

He also told WRTV-TV that he is looking for an apartment closer to his new workplace so he didn’t have to walk as far. However, he will have quite a bit of time to find an apartment because the IndyGo, the Indianapolis Public Transportation authority, provided him with a year’s supply of bus passes!

This is such a great story and the fact that Mr. Bouvier recognized Jhaqueil’s work ethic and dedication gives me butterflies. Papa Roux’s is extremely lucky to have Jhaqueil on their team.

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Convenience Over Quality: Does Age Make All The Difference?

When it comes to fine dining, a casual lunch, or a midnight snack, does the age of certain foods make all the difference?

The discussion surrounding fresh-from-the-ground ingredients and finely-aged wine, appetizers, and entrees is an ongoing one. As ridiculous as it sounds, choosing your side may ostracize you from certain high-brow circles, but deciding to hyperdecant a wine and also enjoy dry aged beef is a personal choice.

That said, knowing what’s on the table when it comes to your options is always a good idea, so here are three instances in which a food or drink’s age can play with the palate:

1. Decanting & Aerating vs. Hyperdecanting Wine

The tricks to enjoying wine are almost as varied as the grapes used in different vintages. Wafting delicate aromas and letting subtle flavors tickle the tongue are common practice, but possibly the most important piece of the wine puzzle is letting the liquid breathe – a process known as decanting.

Technically speaking, decanting is simply pouring a liquid from one container to another, with the purpose of leaving unwanted sediment in the original container. This also allows for aeration and softening of an otherwise bitter or lingering taste.

Pouring wine from a newly-uncorked bottle into a decanter and letting it oxidize for a few hours before service is the traditional method of decanting. In addition to decanting, the process of forcefully pouring wine into a decanter (aeration) quickens the effect.  Decanters for wine and spirits come in a range of designs and sizes, and many boast features that are supposed to improve the evolution from bottle to glass. No matter the size or style, traditional decanters are meant to hold a wine for an extended period of time, while it naturally aerates and softens, and purists wouldn’t have it any other way.

The extreme way of letting a wine breathe, and a fairly new concept, is a method known as hyperdecanting. Hyperdecanting is the process of oxidizing a wine using an immersion or kitchen blender, and it’s turning more than a few heads for its unflinching rebellion to wine etiquette. What’s essentially decanting on steroids, hyperdecanting takes the hours-long process of aeration from traditional decanting and condenses it into quick bursts of bubbles. Infusing a fresh-poured wine with so much oxygen is like pushing the hand on a clock forward, and skeptics of hyperdecanting are often surprised at how well the method works to open up flavors and subdue a bitter bite.

Here’s a video of a wine connoisseur newly converted to the hyperdecanting method:

2. Wet vs. Dry Aging Beef

Fresh-from-the-floor beef is often called “green” in the same sense that fresh-from-the-tree firewood is green. It’s alive, tough, and not quite primed for its purpose. That’s why beef is softened up, broken down, and prepped for your plate through a process called aging. Aging beef allows natural microbes and enzymes to go to work on the meat’s connective tissue and muscle. This, in turn, makes the beef more tender and flavorful. Depending on how you’d like the end result to turn out, dry aging or wet aging beef really boils down to personal preference.

When it comes to beef, dry aging is the traditional method. If you’ve ever seen an entire side of a cow hanging by hooks in a cooler you’re looking at meat being dry aged.  Dry aging calls for beef to be left in a refrigerated area with a constant air flow to help control bacteria, and a temperature ranging from 36 degrees to freezing is considered best practice. If temperature is too high your meat will spoil, and if it’s too low your meat will freeze. While dry aging, a side of beef’s juices start to evaporate, and the more juices lost the more “beefy” the meat becomes as the same amount of muscle fiber now has less water. Keeping humidity up, somewhere around 85 percent, is a good way to save those tasty juices long before you seal them in on a skillet. The weight loss that occurs during the dry aging process is also part of the reason it’s so expensive per pound, and the longer beef is left to age the higher the risk of spoilage and continued weight loss.

On the flip side, wet aging beef retains most (if not all) of the juices from a cut of beef. Unfortunately, what you retain in weight you lose in portion size. The process of wet aging can’t accommodate an entire side of beef, and smaller cuts are vacuum sealed instead. Vacuum sealing/wet aging a piece of beef doesn’t allow it to breathe or dehydrate, as with dry aging, and breaking down in its own blood and juices has been said to cause a stronger, more sour flavor. As unappealing as that sounds, at least 90 percent of all beef bought by Americans has been wet aged, so once again, it’s all about choice and preference. Wet aged beef is less expensive, and the process is faster than traditional dry aging. As with many things, convenience over quality tends to be the argument.

That said, while dry aging is preferred for something like ribs, the method can’t accommodate certain cuts of beef like skirt and chuck steaks. Deciding what works best for your home or restaurant is key.

3. Raw vs. Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables

Simply put, time takes its toll on fresh fruits and vegetables quickly. Leave an apple sitting on a warm countertop for even an afternoon and the fruit starts to look a little worse, and reaching into a week-old produce bag of once-fresh lettuce leafs is anything but satisfying. What’s worse, some fruits and vegetables actually make others ripen faster when paired together; almost as if they’re fighting against you in a war on freshness. As an alternative to constantly buying fresh produce many consumers choose to dehydrate nature’s candy to make it last longer and serve specific purposes. To make an informed decision knowing how the dehydration process affects a food’s nutrients and calorie count is important.

Dehydration is the technique of removing moisture from foods, and when done correctly dehydrating fruits and vegetables can make them last for months and even years. In fact, USA Emergency Supply claims they opened up cans of food 15-30 years old and were pleasantly surprised by the results. Much like wine, the ways to dehydrate foods vary depending on your preference. Sun drying, oven drying, and using a professional dehydrator are all popular methods.

During the dehydration process temperatures are warm enough to remove moisture, but not cook or burn the food. As with dry aging beef, air circulation and humidity are important to preventing a stagnant environment where microorganisms can thrive. If humidity is too high and temperature is too low, you’re essentially ripening fruits and vegetables faster without the benefits of dehydration. If humidity is too low and temperature is too high the outside layer of the food will harden and prevent the inside from drying properly. Sufficiently dried fruits and vegetables should be hard and brittle.

Unfortunately, the heat needed to dry produce also saps some of the nutritional value from your farm-fresh favorites. Vitamins A and C are especially heat sensitive, and you lose a substantial amount (anywhere from 20-50%), simply by dehydration. As counter-intuitive as it may be to the organic mindset, chemical treatments like sulfur dioxide have been used before dehydrating to protect Vitamin A and C, but the treatment destroys Vitamin B1. There are also more natural pre-treatments such as hot water blanching or dipping foods in citrus juice. It seems no matter the method of your pre-treatment you’re going to lose some nutritional value during the dehydration process, and just how much is dependent on the type of produce.

One thing you won’t lose when dehydrating fruits and vegetables is calorie count. The number of calories present in one apple is the same number of calories present in one dehydrated apple, and the same goes for vegetables. With that in mind, measurement makes all the difference, and depending on how you portion your produce you could be doubling or even tripling your caloric intake. For example, one cup of fresh grapes has around 100 calories, while a dried cup of the same grapes (raisins) has over 400 calories. That’s a significant difference! This is great for athletes or outdoor enthusiasts who burn a lot of calories and need to replenish on the go, but it’s bad for the weight watcher who just ate three cups of raisins in one sitting.

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Ah, Beer. The Rise of Craft Beer in America

Craft Brews

Here at Tundra we love beer, and according to the Brewers Association, we’re not alone. There are 2,347 craft breweries across the country, providing an estimated 100,000 part-time and full-time jobs.  These stats are amazing, especially because overall beer sales numbers have decreased across the board… except in craft beer’s case, which saw a 15% increase in 2012! According to Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association:

“Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation. There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”

I’ve learned that craft beer is many different things to many different people.  American tastes are changing, consider coffee, tea, cheese, chocolate, bread, and (yes) beer. American consumers increasingly want choices of flavor in the foods that they buy.

  • Quality: Small and independent craft brewers are known for being passionate and innovative makers of full-flavored beer.
  • Taste: It may be opinion, but craft beer enthusiasts report craft beer simply tastes better than mass produced, mass marketed beer brands.
  • More Alcohol: Craft beers come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing remains the same – they pack the punch! Most craft beers range from 5-10% alcohol by volume. Some craft beers can even reach 20%+ alcohol by volume.
  • Choices: With over 2,000 craft breweries across the country, there are literally thousands of delicious, flavorful craft beers to try!
  • Health Benefits: I questioned this one, but like red wine, craft beer does offer some health benefits (moderation is key). Craft beer contains soluble fiber, B vitamins, a range of antioxidants, and is also a rich source of silicon.

Craft Beer Market Segments

The craft beer industry is defined by 4 distinct market segments: microbreweries, brewpubs, contract brewing companies and regional craft breweries.

  • Microbrewery: A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site.
  • Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on-site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar.
  • Contract Brewing Company: A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales, and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery.
  • Regional Brewery: A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels.
  • Regional Craft Brewery: An independent regional brewery who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance, rather than lighten, the flavor.

Craft beer distributors face uphill battles when it comes to distribution laws, and other post prohibition regulations, but American consumers continue to turn to craft beers. Whether it’s for taste, quality, alcohol content, health benefits, choices, or all five, we expect to see this food service segment to continue to grow through 2013.

Share your comments, what do you love about craft beer?

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