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10 things you should know

1. Now that the world’s population has tipped seven billion, here’s an interesting way to feed them all: Eat less meat. Food output would double if more farmland went to feed people, not animals, say a group of researchers. “It doesn’t mean we all have to become vegetarians but even if you eat meat one or two days less a week, you can hugely contribute,” says McGill University’s Navin Ramankutty, one of the researchers. And yes, he’s a meat eater.

2. The holiday season will bring tidings of comfort to Canadian retailers, but not so much joy, according to a recent report from the Bank of Montreal. It expects retail sales to rise 2.2 per cent in November and December over last year. That’s less than the 3.1 per cent growth in 2010 but much better than the recession years 2008–09.

3. Ottawa will limit caffeine in energy drinks to 180 milligrams–about the same amount as a medium cup of coffee–within the next two years. The new rules will also require warning labels that energy drinks shouldn’t be consumed by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and (duh!) should not be mixed with alcohol. Four out of five energy drinks already contain under 181 milligrams of caffeine, including Red Bull and Monster.

4. Talk about a superfood! British scientists have created a new type of broccoli that contains two to three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin, a nutrient believed to ward off heart disease. The broccoli was developed by cross-breeding traditional British broccoli with a wild Sicilian variety brimming with glucoraphanin. The new variety is already being sold in California and Texas under the name Beneforte.

5. Why do people follow brands on Twitter? Sixty-one per cent do it to be among the first to get new information about a brand; 48 per cent look to receive discounts and promotions; 36 per cent say they want access to exclusive content; and 28 per cent want content to share with friends.

6. Denmark may just be the first country in the world to tax fatty foods like butter and oil to increase life expectancies. The new tax–16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product–raises the price of a small package of butter 40 cents. One big criticism so far: the tax is applied on the percentage of fat used in making a product rather than the amount in the end-product.

7. In another sign of the growing importance of health at grocery stores, Safeway has appointed its first ever chief medical officer. Dr. Kent Bradley, a retired colonel in the American military, will oversee consumer wellness programs and kick in expertise at the grocer’s Safeway Health subsidiary.

8. Just three months after its release, mobile payment system Google Wallet has been adopted by several large American retailers, including CVS Pharmacy, Office Depot and American Eagle. Google Wallet lets shoppers pay by tapping their phone or other mobile device at the checkout. And because it holds loyalty card info too, shoppers no longer need to reach for their regular wallet at all.

9. Asian Canadians are having a profound impact on eating habits. Since 2001 the number of meals eaten with rice has shot up by 297 million per year. Meals with potatoes dropped by 703 million, says NPD Group.

10. A recent poll conducted on canadiangrocer.com revealed that for 2012, grocers plan to invest in the fresh, and ethnic departments of their stores.

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