Americans stockpile frozen pizza, causing potential shortage, amid coronavirus

It’s not delivery, it’s out of stock. The coronavirus pandemic has reportedly caused shortages on various items as people stock up on supplies as they shelter in their homes. This has created an increased demand for food items that can be stored for long periods of time without going bad. People apparently really like pizza. During the month of March, Americans bought $275 million worth of frozen pizza, Adweek reports. This is reportedly an increase of 92 percent from the same time period the previous year (some brands have reported increased sales of as much as 190 percent). According to Adweek, the increase in sales of frozen pizza is comparable to the recent rush of toilet paper. As news of the coronavirus and the impending shutdowns broke, Americans apparently stocked up on toilet paper, causing an increase in sales of about 104 percent. Ashley Lind, director of demand sciences at Conagra Brands which makes popular frozen pizza Celeste Pizza, told the outlet, “It’s not hard to imagine that many people are looking for easy, convenient solutions that are also crowd-pleasing family favorites. Also, when living in uncertain times—as many of us are right now—we’re seeing a rise in consumers turning to much-loved comfort foods. Frozen pizza checks a lot of these boxes for consumers.” The increased demand has caused some stores to struggle to keep the freezer section stocked. A spokesperson for Newman’s Own maker told Adweek that it doesn’t expect any major interruptions in supply in the near term, they did point that the company’s supply chain is stretched and that the supply chain’s supply chain is also stretched. The prospect of a frozen pizza shortage caused a reaction on social media, with some users seemingly jokingly comparing it to the same issues with toilet paper or hand sanitizer.

As more and more businesses and communities are opening up, this is probably water under the bridge now.  But, we’ll keep an eye on it..

National Doughnut Day 2020: Where to get free doughnuts

If you go nuts for doughnuts, there’s a “hole” lot to love about National Doughnut Day. Celebrated annually on the first Friday of June, several chains have already rolled out their plans for June 5. Beyond the traditional giveaways happening this year, some special promotions for health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus pandemic on the front lines have been sprinkled into the mix. Click here to see which places are offering doughnut specials today:

Who doesn’t like a doughnut?  I already had two this morning!  Happy National Doughnut Day!      🙂

Raw cookie dough: Aside from the egg, there’s another important reason you should never taste it

Raw cookie dough. It’s as bewitching as it is vexing. On one hand, it smells sublime — but on the other, it contains raw egg, and shouldn’t be eaten until thoroughly baked. But it’s not just the eggs you should be wary of. Unless you’re whipping up a batch of gluten-free cookies, cookie dough usually contains raw flour, which can also make you very sick. Yes, raw flour. According to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), raw doughs containing flour — i.e. cookie dough, pizza dough, tortilla dough — should not be consumed, or given to children to play with (as a substitute for Play-Doh, for instance), as it can possibly contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli. “Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor with the FDA’s Office of Food Safety, said of the risk associated with eating raw flour. The FDA also warned against eating raw eggs and their association with salmonella, but urged that “consumers should be aware that there are additional risks associated with the consumption of raw dough, such as particularly harmful strains of E. coli in a product like flour.” The CDC cites two recent E. coli outbreaks (in both 2016 and 2019) that sickened over 80 people in recent years, both traced back to flour. To that end, the agency also advises you to throw away any of the recalled flour linked to E. coli outbreaks, in case there’s some still kicking around in your cabinets. Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can be severe, the FDA says, and include “diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps,” as well as vomiting. Extreme cases can lead to a certain type of kidney failure that largely affects children under 5, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. Plus, most cases don’t present until several days after ingesting E. coli bacteria, the CDC says. With that in mind, it’s best to thoroughly cook or bake your raw doughs before eating, clean up any floured workspaces when finished, and avoid allowing children to play with raw dough as a substitute for clay. Oh, and don’t eat raw cookie dough, as tempting as it might be. Just wait out the agonizing 12 to 14 minutes for your cookies to bake. We know you can do it.

Daughter-in-chief: Ivanka Trump pushes food distribution program

The U.S. Agriculture Department is unveiling a new food distribution program with an emphasis on aiding small businesses – an issue that is being pushed by a very prominent White House adviser. Her name: Ivanka Trump. Under the “Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” the federal government buys meat, produce and dairy products from farmers and ranchers and then provides it to local distribution centers that pack and deliver food boxes to those in need. It “really creates a virtuous cycle,” Trump told USA TODAY in an interview, citing a “robust demand” from food producers, consumers and “the most vulnerable in these challenging times.” Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who also participated in the interview, said the program will also address gaps in the food supply chain spawned by the coronavirus. “There was a misallocation of supply and demand, temporarily,” Perdue said. The program is a symbol of how the president’s eldest daughter is making her presence felt on a number of issues during the coronavirus pandemic. She has pushed for more aid to small businesses in programs designed to manufacture personal protective equipment, the paycheck protection program, and economic injury disaster loans. Trump, who called UPS chief executive David Abney about volunteering trucks to make food box deliveries, said she and others are “pulling all the levers” they can. And, no, the last name doesn’t hurt. “I think when you work in the White House, you tend to have your calls returned,” Trump said. “And I think most Americans are patriots and want to answer the call to action when things are requested of them.” She added: “I’m not shy about asking people to step up to the plate. The whole country needs to be galvanized in the effort, both to combat this deadly virus, but also to rebuild … to rebuild our economy as we emerge.” Trump spoke a day before the formal kickoff of the Food Box program, part of the stimulus plan known as the CARES Act. She will visit a distribution center in Laurel, Maryland, as the first food box deliveries go out the door. The USDA has already awarded $1.2 billion to food distributors to buy meat, dairy and produce products that farmers have been unable to sell because of government lockdowns. The distributors will pack the food into boxes for delivery to food banks, community and nonprofits that have had trouble getting food because of problems with the supply chain. “We’ll be up to $3 billion in total as it rolls out,” she said.

Outstanding!!  Major kudos to Ivanka for her work on this important issue.  For more, click on the text above.   Excellent!!      🙂

Trump announces $16 billion in direct payments for farmers hurt by pandemic ’caused by China’

President Trump on Tuesday announced $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers to compensate them for lost business from the coronavirus outbreak that he said was “caused by China.” During an event at the White House, Mr. Trump also directed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to pursue cutting off trade deals with countries that ship beef cattle to the U.S. He said the U.S. beef industry is “very self-sufficient.” The direct payments, funded by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that was approved in March and a commodity credit law, follows farm bailouts totaling $28 billion in 2018 and 2019. Those earlier payments compensated growers and ranchers for losses from tariffs imposed by China during the administration’s trade war with Beijing. “Now we’re standing strong with our farmers and ranchers once again,” Mr. Trump said during an announcement at the White House. Growers lost much of their customer base when restaurants were ordered to close during the outbreak. Much of the money will be used to purchase food to supply food banks around the country. The president said of the pandemic, “It should have never happened. You know that, I know that. The people that caused the problem, they know that, too.” “These payments will compensate farmers for losses related to the global pandemic caused by China,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll be providing billions of dollars for corn, cotton, soybean and specialty-crop farmers, cattle ranchers, just about every category I can think of.” Robert Mills Jr., owner of Briar View Farms Inc. in southern Virginia, said the money is not a bailout. “We always expect the unexpected, and we didn’t expect this [pandemic],” he said. “It’s not a rescue program. It’s going to help these farm families be able to make good, wise financial decisions. This country relies on what these farmers and ranchers do every day.”

It sure does!  What was also left out of this article from today’s announcements at the White House was Ivanka Trump’s comments about efforts to package up food into “20-25 pound boxes” that would otherwise be going to waste, and is now going to food banks to give to those in need.  As has already been mentioned (see previous article above), it is an effort that the First Daughter has been speerheading, and something she deserves credit for.

Coronavirus may force hog farmers to kill 10M pigs by September

U.S. pork farmers may be forced to euthanize as many as 10 million hogs by September as a result of production-plant shutdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Pork Producers Council. At least 14,000 reported positive COVID-19 cases have been connected to meatpacking facilities in at least 181 plants in 31 states as of May 13, and at least 54 meatpacking facility workers have died of the virus at 30 plants in 18 states, according to an investigation by the Midwest Center for Investigative reporting. Dozens of meat production plants closed before President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in late April allowing large facilities to remain open during COVID-19 in an effort to address supply chain and liability issues, but farms and plants still face overcrowding threats as some plants remain closed or have significantly slower production. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Vice President Chris Hoffman, who won America’s Best Pig Farmer of the Year award in 2019, told FOX Business that production in these meat processing plants is back up to about 70 percent, but until production gets back up to 100 percent, the industry will see backlog issues. “We process over half-a-million hogs per day, and right now, from what I heard on Tuesday, all plants are running but at different levels. We’re at 70 percent. If you take half-a-million hogs every day, and you’re only running at 70 percent production, 100,000 hogs get pushed to the next day, and then that gets pushed back to 200,000 the next day,” Hoffman said. He added that these backlog issues vary depending on which area of the country farmers are operating in and which plant they are shipping to. “I’ve heard folks say the recovery of some of these plants is faster than expected. That is a great sign that the number [of euthanized hogs] could be less,” Hoffman said, but added that the wellbeing of the people who work in these processing plants is what’s most important. About 170,000 hogs that have reached the country’s harvest standards can’t be marketed due to plant closures and slow production, the NPPC said in a press release. The organization added that housing for these market-ready hogs is “not an option” because “younger hogs coming up through the supply chain need someplace to go for care and feeding.” Producers are then faced with the choice to watch their animals suffer due to a lack of proper care or euthanize them, which the NPPC notes is the “only humane option” for farmers who produce food. It can take almost a year to care for a pig from the time it is born until the time it is ready for harvest when it has reached about 270 pounds, according to national guidelines, the release says. Hogs that weigh more than 270 pounds “cannot be processed through the nation’s primary harvest facilities due to constraints in the equipment and concerns with worker safety,” the NPPC release says. Hoffman said it takes 10 months to raise a pig to be ready for harvesting. “Every week, we have a certain amount of hogs in our facility that need to be processed. It’s not like you can turn the spigot off. It takes 10 months for the [growth] process to be completed. The lack of processing creates an overcrowded situation,” he explained. The amount of time and work farmers put into raising pigs is what makes the euthanization issue more delicate than many people may realize. Even though the pigs are raised to eventually be butchered and sold to customers as food, Hoffman says a farmer’s animals become like family because of the dedication required to take proper care of them before harvest. “These are generational farms,” Hoffman said. “Here we are with farmers who are posed with a situation they never thought they’d have to deal with, and that’s euthanizing animals. My concern as I look at the industry is: It’s a real toll on a farmer, day in and day out. These animals are like our family, they are designed for meat, and it breaks your heart to make these kinds of decisions.” Different farms approach these schedules in different ways, and some pork producers are operating normally despite the pandemic, but the industry as a whole is facing dark times. Pork harvesting was down nearly 40 percent from the prior year as of May 6 due to the pandemic. Low harvesting numbers are expected to result in the euthanization of “10,069,000 market hogs … between the weeks ending on April 25 and September 19, 2020, resulting in a severe emotional and financial toll on hog farmers,” the NCCP release notes. Members of the organization called on Congress to allocate more than $1 billion to the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish, as well as $505 million for euthanization and environmentally responsible disposal expenses.

Click on the text above for more on this story..

Chick-fil-A lands behind McDonald’s as second-highest-grossing fast-food chain

Chick-fil-A is the second-highest-grossing fast-food chain in the United States. The fast-food chain, after seeing a 13 percent sales growth to more than $11 billion in 2019, has surpassed Taco Bell and Burger King to land a slot just behind McDonald’s, according to data from Restaurant Business Magazine’s annual list of top 500 restaurants. Compared to McDonald’s 13,846 U.S. locations, Chick-fil-A has 2,470, Taco Bell has 6,766 and Burger King has 7,346. During the same period last year, McDonald’s had $40 billion in sales growth. Taco Bell and Burger King grew by $11 billion and $10 billion, respectively. Last year, Chick-fil-A ranked seventh, behind each of the above food chains. The company’s climb at a time when many businesses are struggling to stay afloat because the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay at home. In April, Chick-fil-A announced a measure to fight the economic standstill caused by the outbreak. The chain’s relief effort, anchored by a $10.8 million fund, is dedicated to supporting local franchisees. The funds, distributed through a network of more than 1,800 independent owner-operators, will be made available through June 2020. In addition to donating to essential workers and employees, the chain is also helping feed others. More than 5,000 meals have been donated to school systems, health care workers and others on the front lines in Atlanta, Georgia, where the company is based.

Congrats to Chick-fil-A!!   Excellent!!      🙂

Eat these foods, take these vitamins to boost your immune system during coronavirus outbreak

In America, the joke about health goes: If you’re not dying, you’re fine. Many people wait to think about their immune systems until it’s too late. Here is an immune building regimen in the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are a few of the supplements for your natural “medicine” cabinet. Gabe Snow left the heartland and football to start LionHEARTED Health in New York City. He told says: “When attempting to boost our immunity we find ourselves drowning ourselves in supplements, pills and powders to do so. I am absolutely guilty of doing this, having a cabinet filled with remedies, I have pill or a powder / supplement for just about anything I could ever be potentially deficient in. Now that immune system boosting is all the rave, for right reason, people are buying all the vitamin C and D they can get their hands on.” “Vitamin C is widely known as an immune system booster for various reasons. Vitamin C helps promote white blood cells, white blood cells otherwise known as lymphocytes or phagocytes, help protect the body against infection. I use vitamin C daily for a completely other beneficial reason, vitamin C helps regulate the amount of uric acid in our blood, uric acid can crystalize and cause gout, a rare form of arthritis, like it did for me about a year ago, so I get to kill two birds with one stone with this supplement. Vitamin C also aids in our skin’s defense system. It is carried to the skin, as an antioxidant to strengthen our skins defense barriers which is vital right now with a deadly virus being passed around.” “Vitamin D is something I have always kept in my regimen, I am an asthmatic and prone to respiratory infections. Vitamin D has been found to decrease the risk of respiratory infections. As of recent, I have also been a vegetarian so have been having to add vitamin D daily to my diet is even more crucial. In order to get this crucial vitamin we need to be outside, sunbathing, sufficient sunlight is the best way to take in vitamin D, second to sunlight there are many food sources that will supply; fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, if fish is not for you: egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms, fortified milk.” “Echinacea, astragalus, oregano oil, garlic are usually found in your full spectrum immune boost supplement found at your local supp shop. I can say I NEVER, knock on wood, get sick and have been taking this adaptogen / herbal compound for a while now. There is not much medical research on these herbs but they are known to reduce inflammation, assist in digestion and help fight bacteria / virus, when combined, we could say this is nature’s own antibiotic cocktail. The effectiveness of these herbs when fighting a cold or flu is truly unknown, but it is obvious, to me, that if we can aid our body in all of its functions — digestion, waste removal — that our bodies can focus more of its ability to other functions like fighting off illness.” Snow said there is more than supplements and regimens. “The three most important things we need to focus on to keep our immune defense at optimum are: sleep, hydration and stress management. Stress maintenance and sleep hygiene are not supplements, they are requirements for our bodies to maintain and function properly. Depriving yourself from these three vital components will leave you ill — no matter how much vitamin C you pump into that body.” He added: “Stress is truly something we must manage in order to keep our immune systems at its best. Two supplements I advise all of my clients to use to aid in their stress management are: mucuna and holy basil. These two combined have been used for people looking to replace their current anti-anxiety diazepam prescriptions. So if looking for a non-pharma substitution for any anxiety meds you may be taking, or if you are struggling managing the added stress COVID-19 has been riddling our nations with, give these two a try.”

If you drill into what Gabe is saying, he’s absolutely right.  The #1 best source for Vitamin D, which is now recognized by many doctors as critical in combating this Wuhan virus, is the sun.  So, GET OUTSIDE and enjoy the sun!  After that, yeah…maybe add some salmon, tuna or mackerel to your diet.  Also, many cereals have Vitamin D, as do egg yolks.  So, lots of options.  But, above all, don’t stay all cooped up inside.  Get out if its sunny, and go for a walk!      Thanks Gabe!      🙂

Steak ‘n Shake permanently closes nearly 10 percent of its restaurants amid coronavirus crisis

When it comes to dining options, there will be fewer steaks and shakes to be had. Steak n’ Shake, the fast-casual restaurant chain, has been forced to close 57 of its locations due to the “adverse effect” of the coronavirus health crisis on its operations. Steak n’ Shake’s parent company, Biglari Holdings Inc., announced the closures in its latest earnings report. “The COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse effect on our restaurant operations, thereby resulting in the evaluation of company-operated restaurants for recoverability,” Biglari Holdings wrote in the report, adding that 51 company-owned Steak ‘n Shake locations, as well as six franchise-owned locations, were shut down in the first quarter of 2020. At the end of 2019, Steak ‘n Shake operated 610 locations globally, though the vast majority were located within the United States. Biglari Holdings did not specify where the 57 shuttered Steak ‘n Shake restaurants were located. News of Steak ‘n Shakes closures follows the chain’s recent “We’re All Essential” initiative, which aimed to support workers in essential industries — as well as “all Americans during these challenging times — by offering free fries to all customers, along with special meal deals for families. “In such challenging times, we would like to do our part for our communities by giving out free fries to all,” said Sardar Biglari, CEO of Steak ‘n Shake, said in an April press release.

Just awful news!!!   I went to college in Bloomington, IL; a mile from the original Steak ‘n Shake, and grew up with Steak ‘n Shake in West St. Louis, County.  Hopefully they can recover once this craziness is all over.  For more on this sad story, click on the text above.

USDA to Purchase $470 Million in Excess Food from Farmers, Deliver to Needy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that it would be purchasing $470 million in excess food from farmers to deliver to those in need. The USDA’s latest program aims to combat food waste, which has become a massive problem since the coronavirus began as schools, restaurants, and even hotels have closed down to customers — leaving farmers with a surplus of food and nowhere to sell it. It also aims to help local food banks throughout the country, which have seen a surge in demand as people have lost their jobs, and schools have shuttered. Politico reported that the purchases will target meat, dairy, vegetables, and seafood — all markets that have plummeted since restaurants and food service businesses have closed. The USDA said that it would spend money on fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and seafood products from farmers and ranchers as part of the initiative, including $120 million in dairy products, $50 million in potatoes, and $30 million in chicken. “America’s farmers and ranchers have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a press release. The USDA will begin deliveries to the organizations under its Food and Nutrition Service nutrition assistance programs, including food banks, starting in July.

This is a win-win idea!  Major kudos to Sec. Sonny Perdue, and his team at USDA, for making this happen.  Excellent!!     🙂