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To Your Health: Canned goods can alleviate food shortages

Availability, access, utilization and stability are the four pillars of food security and, according to an article published in Science, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute found that food markets and suppliers continue to face ongoing disruptions from labor shortages and food demand shifts due to income losses and school and business shutdowns and slowdowns.

As export restrictions disrupt some staple foods such as wheat and rice, COVID-19 has also taken a toll on food and manufacturing in the U.S. due to a significant shift in consumer demand and, most importantly, where consumers are buying food.

If you’ve asked yourself why the grocery store shelves are not fully stocked or why you may not find your favorite brands, it’s important to note that early in the COVID-19 onset, the Food and Drug Administration took action to mitigate the shift from a commercial-dominant market to a consumer-driven retail market by implementing temporary guidelines for nutrition labeling and packaging requirements to provide flexibility for the food industry.

Consumers, as well as the commercial food and beverage manufacturers, continue to see stock shortages of products such as yeast, beef and chicken, canned vegetables and pickle products due to supply chain disruptions caused by reduced production manufacturing and consumer demand, which has led to the collapse of safety stocks.

Flexibility is key for consumers when it comes to staying healthy during food supply chain disruptions and stocking up on healthy canned food options provides a cheap and convenient way to stretch your budget and ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy diet. Look for beans, tuna, salmon, vegetables and fruits in the canned goods section and stock up to alleviate any upcoming or ongoing food shortages. And, while the shelf life for canned foods with a high acid content like tomatoes is about 12 to 18 months, the shelf life for most canned goods is two to five years.

According to board-certified dietitian Kelly Jones, consumers will want to look for canned beans and legumes that are a source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Look for chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and navy beans. Tuna and salmon provide about 24 grams of protein per can as well as provide essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Canned vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, and canned green beans provide a good amount of folate, iron and vitamin C. Canned fruits packed in their own juices are the best choice (rinse the syrup off the sweetened ones). Canned peaches are a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, and pineapple packs a punch with vitamin C, potassium and enzymes.

The next time you go into the grocery or dollar store, stroll the canned goods section and start stockpiling some nutritious alternatives to help alleviate any supply chain issues with fresh foods. And be creative. Offset your typical fresh food intake with canned foods, frozen foods and dry goods like oats, rice and grains, nuts, seeds and nut butters, and create a well-balanced meal plan for emergency situations. And pick up some pasta, too; it has a one- to two-year shelf life.

To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.

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