I admit it. After attempts at resistance, I recently jumped on two bandwagons.

First, in December, my husband and I got new touch screen phones equipped with GPS, Web browsing, speech recognition functions - and lord knows what else. Honestly, it will take me months to comprehend the full extent of this new little tool. That’s because I previously had little to no interest in “smart” phones. My mindset? Do I really need to be able to receive text messages, e-mail and phone calls absolutely everywhere I go?

Apparently, yes. Similar to most new technology, you don’t know that you need it until you have it. After some bonding time with my new toy, I see the perks. I can find out the weather forecast before I even get out of bed. I can watch updated news broadcasts while in a cab. I can even snap a picture if I see a cool new product while I’m grocery shopping.

In contrast, the other bandwagon I’ve climbed upon harks back to a more “primitive” time. For months now my dad has been telling me how much I would love A&E’s “Mad Men,” a critically-acclaimed television drama following 1960s ad men in Manhattan.

I derided his attempts to convert me to a “Mad Men” fan - “no time,” “looks boring.” But I finally listened and I’m glad I did. Sure the plot is interesting (the scandalous affairs!) and the acting is good, but regular readers of this column know how much I love food, and “Mad Men” spares no authentic 1960s details.

Casseroles, rib eyes and canapés are the fare and if the characters aren’t dining out in a swanky supper club, then the women are the ones cooking in aprons tied over full skirts.

I especially got a kick out of one character gossiping about a divorced mother. She chides the busy working mom for actually serving her family frozen food. Oh, the horror! I’m certain that, had the busy divorcée character witnessed this tongue lashing, she would have retorted, “don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.” After all, it won’t be long before the characters reach the time when frozen foods become a convenient and nutritious staple of nearly all American diets. And look where we are today? You’d be hard pressed to find a household that didn’t rely on frozen foods at least weekly.

No matter how thrilling or convenient a change it brings, technology still can be intimidating - and there will always be nay-sayers. But, when it comes down to it, some band wagons simply are worth jumping on.

Just the Facts

Food-at-home prices are approaching the high-end of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)predictions. For the first eight months of 2008, food-at-home inflation stood at6.3 percent,while the USDA forecast a rise of between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent for the entire year. On the bright side, the USDA predicts a rise of only 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent for food-at-home in 2009.
Source: The Food Institute

Consumers who have trouble remembering what they ate for breakfast might do better if they’d chosen a blueberry muffin. A recent University of Reading study found a link between blueberries and memoryimprovement. U of R scientists said further research is needed to determine whether flavonoids, which are found in blueberries, can be used to increase memory capacity.
Source: Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal

Are consumers sick of hearing about the benefits of Omega 3s? Whatever the reason, a recent report indicates that for the first time in years, consumers areeating less fresh and frozen fish.Packaged Facts estimates that per capita fish consumption will fall to 15.8 pounds in 2009 from 16.3 pounds in 2007.
Source: Packaged Facts: The U.S. Market for Seafood

Consumers have high expectations for their supermarkets’ in-store delis – and in several cases those expectations are not quite being met. A recent Counter Intelligence study found thatconsumers value “cleanliness” and “freshness” most in in-store delis. Asked to rate their deli experiences on a five-point scale, consumers scored their impressions of cleanliness and freshness respectively at averages of 4.33 and 4.3. (4.01).
Source: Jennie-O Turkey Store’s Counter Intelligence Deli Consumer Study