Did you know that the human tongue has more than 10,000 taste buds!?

Nutrition Notes: The Science of Taste

by Callie Brust (MPH, RDN, CHES), Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I excitedly look forward to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ national conference every year. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo was held in Nashville, TN a few weeks ago and boy was it a nutrition lover’s dream! I sampled new foods, networked with other nutrition professionals, and heard the latest research in our field. One of my favorite sessions discussed the science of taste and how taste can influence what we eat. Want to know if taste buds change your dinner plate?

The 5 regions of taste on your tongue are Sweet, Salty, Sour, Umami (think savory) and Bitter. The researchers chose to focus on the Bitter taste. Did you ever wonder why certain veggies are bitter? Like kale, Brussels sprouts, or turnip greens? During the growing process, some vegetables produce a bitter taste to keep bugs away! Built in bug deterrent! And based on your personal genetic code, you may or may not taste the full bitterness of those veggies.

During the presentation, the researcher handed out bitter paper to place on our tongues. The paper represented the specific bitterness of bitter veggies. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted. My friend next to me… she didn’t taste a thing. So I most definitely have the DNA code to taste this specific bitterness. Awesome. But this doesn’t change what I eat. I love Brussels sprouts, I love greens!

So what’s the point? The research shows that our taste buds may influence our food choices. So if you taste the really bitter taste, you may not put those veggies on your plate. BUT there is also research to say that our taste buds are not destiny. This means you can learn to overcome the bitter taste. That’s great news! I can continue to love my bitter veggies and all the nutrients they contain! So keep your options open when choosing your foods. Try new foods in new ways to keep your taste buds guessing. Through different recipes and cooking methods we can learn to enjoy all vegetables.

Try this recipe for Garlic Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts.


- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed and dried, ends trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise

- 2 ­ to 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving

- 1/2 tsp (scant) fine sea salt, or to taste

- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add Brussels sprouts and garlic to a large mixing bowl.

2. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice then toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

3. Spread onto a cookie sheet in an even layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven, tossing once halfway through baking, until golden brown on edges, about 25 -30 minutes.

5. Serve warm spritzed with more lemon juice to taste and topped with Parmesan cheese.

No matter the age, all volunteers are welcome to help pick fresh produce with ProduceGood.

Thankful Thursday: ProduceGood’s CropSwap Program

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

According to journalist and blogger Jonathan Bloom, each day Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from the field to the stadium brim. In hard numbers, that’s equivalent to 160 billion pounds of food that could have been used to feed people in need. Hearing statistics like these prompted Nita Kurmins Gilson, Jerilyn White and Alexandra White to found ProduceGood – a local non-profit organization that organizes food recovery efforts to glean fruits and vegetables primarily from San Diego residents’ gardens and overgrown trees.

Recently, ProduceGood partnered with the San Diego Food Bank on a CropSwap activity in Rancho San Diego. Teams of volunteers, including the Food Bank’s Vice President of Development Liz Sheahan, worked together to pick oranges, fruit that will go to San Diegans facing food insecurity and hungry for nutritious, fresh food. Since partnering with the Food Bank in August 2015, ProduceGood has facilitated the donation of 4,331 pounds of citrus fruit from residential homeowners, and an additional 872 pounds of organic tomatoes from an organic grower for a total of 5,203 pounds. For Nita, it’s the start of something significant.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” she explained. “It is so inspiring to see that the time has come for food recovery efforts. People are finally getting that. At this moment, we’re affecting change and it’s all coming together. It feels so hopeful.”

The flagship program of ProduceGood, CropSwapSanDiego, is a gleaning group that harvests excess fruit in backyard orchards in San Diego (with permission of the owners) and delivers it to local food banks, like the San Diego Food Bank. Pitching in at this local CropSwap event was 15-year-old San Carlos resident Trevor and his family. The local high school student expressed the reward he felt volunteering his time to make a difference.

“It feels nice to do something that benefits other people,” he said. “The people here are really awesome.”

On this “Thankful Thursday,” the Food Bank thanks Trevor, Nita and all the volunteers with ProduceGood for their tremendous work in rolling up their sleeves and personally collecting food for our neighbors in need. Your work lessens the amount of food wasted in our region while putting food on the table for low-income seniors, hard-working families, dedicated military personnel and their families, veterans and the homeless.

If you are interested in volunteering with ProduceGood, contact the organization by emailing producegood.jeri@gmail.com or visit their website at www.producegood.org.

The San Diego Food Bank is thankful for the steadfast support of Baker Electric Solar!

Thankful Thursday: Baker Electric Solar

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

You never know when or where inspiration is going to strike. For the good people at Baker Electric Solar, the drive to get involved with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank came while up on the roof. Specifically, Baker Electric Solar installed the solar panels on the roof of the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse as part of a recent capital improvement project. The local company soon became immersed in the Food Bank’s mission because of the inspiration they found in working on this project and that work has taken on many forms.

After installation of the solar panels, Baker Electric Solar’s next step in its work with the Food Bank was to extend financial support by becoming a stage sponsor at the San Diego Blues Festival. In addition to the monetary contribution, company employees volunteered at the Blues Festival working side-by-side with Food Bank staff. The volunteers showed great dedication and commitment to the cause throughout the two-day event.

On Thursday, October 8, Baker Electric Solar continued to showcase its generous spirit by holding a customer appreciation event at the lovely Stone Brewing location on the hill near the company’s headquarters in Escondido. They added a charity element to the event by producing a raffle with appealing baskets and items from their vendors.  Food Bank staff members Sandy Rabourne and Grace Harrison attended the event and mingled with Baker Electric Solar’s customers sharing the important work the company was providing on a larger scale for the community through their partnership with the Food Bank.

“I was so impressed with how organized and well put together the event was,” Sandy shared.  “Grace and I felt like advocates not just for the Food Bank, but for the philanthropic mission of Baker Electric Solar as well.”

In total, the evening event raised $700 from the raffle, and, as company spokesperson Shannon mentioned during the event, that’s 3,500 meals for Food Bank clients!

The Food Bank sends a warm “Thankful Thursday” thank you to Baker Electric Solar for providing a wonderful example of how companies are contributing to the greater good of San Diego and how we are all enrolled in this mission together.

Sweet tooth aching? Try creating a delicious and nutritious yogurt parfait like the one pictured above. Photo from: WellnessToday.com

Nutrition Notes: 10 Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

Are you hypnotized by chocolate? Do you prefer to bypass dinner just to get to dessert that much quicker? While indulging in dessert on occasion is fine, we may be guilty of overindulging a bit more than we would like to admit. Because cutting out dessert is simply not realistic (I mean come on- it’s the best part of the day) I have gathered ten delicious and affordable sweet treats that will satisfy your cravings, without compromising your health!

1. Yogurt Parfait
Take 1 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt and add your choice of granola, nuts, berries, or shaved dark chocolate for a snack rich in high quality protein, calcium and vitamin D!

2. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is full of natural sugar, which has the potential to satisfy almost any sugar craving while simultaneously increasing your daily fiber and overall vitamin and mineral intake.

3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, which consists of 70% or more of cocoa has significantly less fat and sugar when compared to milk chocolate, and has actually been proven to be a healthy treat in moderation. Not only is dark chocolate delicious, but it is full of powerful antioxidants that can provide essential health benefits to the body!

4. PB & Banana Sandwich
Consuming one piece of whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter topped with a sliced banana will yield a satisfying and sweet snack while also providing fiber and protein.

5. Baked Apple w/ Cinnamon
Baking an apple until it is tender will provide a more appealing texture, as well as cause the apple to taste sweeter. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the apples to create a sweet snack high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

6. Homemade Nut Bars
Homemade nut bars, if made with minimal added sugar, can provide a mouthwatering and delicious snack high in vitamin E, essential fatty acids and protein.

7. Trail Mix
Consuming mixed nuts along with some dried cranberries or raisins will provide you with an exceptionally sweet snack that is also heart healthy!

8. Cottage Cheese w/ Mangos
Consuming half of a cup of nonfat cottage cheese served with a side of sliced mangos will provide a kick of sweetness as well as a heaping serving of vitamin D and calcium.

9. Hot Chocolate
Warm up an 8 ounce cup of low fat milk and mix with one teaspoon of 70% cocoa powder for a deliciously sweet beverage under 200 calories and full of protein, calcium, and vitamin D!

10. Chocolate Mousse Yogurt
Blend 3/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp honey (or sugar substitute) for a low calorie and delectable dessert.

Dave is all smiles after being told he was selected by staff to be our September Volunteer of the Month!

Meet the Food Bank’s September Volunteer of the Month!

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

Dave Fleischman is our September “Volunteer of the Month.” He contributes many hours each week lending a helping hand in our distribution center. When asked what motivated him to volunteer his time at the Food Bank, Fleischman smiled and said, because he wants to make a difference, and a difference he makes. Fleischman sorts through hundreds of pounds of produce two to three shifts per week, amazing! He also takes the initiative each week leading volunteers through their various tasks. We appreciate him so much.

Fleischman, a U.S. Navy veteran and a Physics professor, dedicates his time and really makes an impact at the Food Bank. When asked about his beginnings, Fleischman explained that it was thanks to his wife, a Registered Dietitian and Registered Nurse that he first volunteered with the San Diego Food Bank. Fleischman and his wife volunteered their time together through a volunteer event with Sharp Hospital, and ever since then Fleischman has never looked back. We thank you Dave for a job well done. You inspire and motivate, and that is why you are our September “Volunteer of the Month”!

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key.

Nutrition Notes: 6 Tips for Controlling Portions

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key. An issue that we tend to ignore is the alarming ways in which we eat extra calories numerous times throughout the day – a slightly larger slice of toast, an extra teaspoon or two of dressing or simply eating from larger utensils are just a few of the ways in which our portions tend to gradually increase over time, along with our weight.

However, the good news is that once you have a much clearer idea of what a portion of food should be, it becomes easy to cut back and ultimately improve your health!

Tips to Control Portions

1. Don’t skip meals. When you are overly hungry, you tend to eat larger portions. Try to avoid going longer than 5 hours without eating, and if possible try to incorporate a healthy and light snack throughout your day in order to satisfy your hunger until your next meal.

2. Know how to estimate food sizes. 1 cup of cereal should be the size of your fist, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or potatoes should look like 1/2 of a baseball, 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry should be the size of a deck of cards, 1 teaspoon of margarine should look like 1 dice, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter should look like a ping pong ball.

3. Pay attention to serving sizes on packaged food. If you typically consume an 8 ounce tub of ice cream, but the serving size on the label is for a 4 ounce serving, then you have just consumed double the calories, fat, and sugar that is on the nutrition facts panel. It is crucial that you be aware of serving sizes on packaged foods when learning how to correctly portion your meals. Ignoring the serving sizes on packages can lead to weight gain, so beware!

4. Avoid mindless eating. Try to avoid hanging out in the kitchen or in areas where there are unhealthy foods readily available. By avoiding these types of atmospheres you will be less likely to over eat. Try making the healthy choice, the easiest choice. For example, keep healthy snacks visible rather than unhealthy foods.

5. Mini-size plates. Reduce plate sizes from a 12″ standard plate to a 9-10” plate. This will cause a decrease in calories consumed by over 20%. Additionally, leave the pot of food on the stove rather than at the center of the table, this will reduce the chance of going for a second helping. Remember, “out of sight, out of mind!”

For more information on portion control, please visit the portion distortion webpage on the department of Health and Human Services Website by clicking here.

San Diego Food Bank CEO, Jim Floros, and Direct Services Manager, Daniela Solano, personally thanked employees from Surrogate Alternatives for their generous donation to our Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.

Thankful Thursday: The Introduction

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

“Thank you.” We grow up learning these are “magic words” that should be used to express gratitude and appreciation.

At the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, it is not magic that enables us to provide nutritious and critically-needed food to low-income community members. No, the secret to our success is the hundreds of partners and the thousands of contributors who have chosen to generously share their resources of time, talent or treasure in order to positively impact this community.

Every day, organizations, companies, foundations and individuals make contributions to the Food Bank that enhance services to low-income families, financially struggling seniors, dedicated military personnel and their dependents, and veterans. And, while the Food Bank regularly thanks the people behind each and every one of these gifts, we have decided to introduce a new and public forum to thank our giving partners and contributors.

What Is “Thankful Thursday”?

Starting this month – Hunger Awareness Month in San Diego – the Food Bank welcomes in “Thankful Thursday.” The idea is a simple one – every Thursday we will publicly highlight individuals and organizations working with us to alleviate the food insecurity issues faced by our low-income neighbors.

The Food Bank’s Facebook page and Twitter feeds will see gratitude expressed the best way we know how – with sincere and heartfelt thank yous. Throughout the day, we will highlight a few of the many acts of kindness, big and small, that make a profound difference for those struggling to put enough food on the table or worried about where they’ll obtain their next meal.

We may not be able to make hunger disappear with the wave of a wand, but we can ease the food and related nutrition challenges affecting those in need through the generous support and hard work of nonprofit partners, corporations, foundations and individuals – caring folks just like you.

Making Kids Lives Easier

To get our Thankful Thursday campaign started, the Food Bank would like to say “Thank you” to Surrogate Alternatives.

A group of employees from  Surrogate Alternatives in Chula Vista came together recently to collect food and backpacks for children in the Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. The local company was inspired to give back and get involved after one of their employees saw a flyer at their local Starbucks talking about the Food 4 Kids program – a Food Bank program that provides 1,630 children from low-income families with a weekly backpack of child-friendly food to ensure they have food to eat over the weekend when school meals are unavailable.

Together, the folks from Surrogate Alternatives packed 25 backpacks filled with nutritious food (171 pounds) – all of which was donated by the surrogacy company and its employees.

The Food Bank sincerely appreciates your donation and involvement, Surrogate Alternatives. Thank you for making a huge difference to children in our community.

Climb the pyramid of physical activity!

Nutrition Notes: Let’s Get Active!

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

Are you interested in adding years to your life, and life to your years? Well then, I have the perfect solution for you – physical activity! Regular physical activity can provide health benefits for people of all ages, shapes and sizes by reducing both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me!

Many Americans seem to associate the words physical activity with the gym, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Physical activity can be achieved in any type of setting and at any time ranging from a brisk walk to a long run on the beach!
Physical activity includes:

- Any type of aerobic activity that increases your heart rate. This can be achieved by doing something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest spot from the front door as possible.

- Walking, jogging and gardening is considered moderate physical activity.

- Elliptical training, biking and participating in aerobic sports is considered vigorous activity.

I recommend preforming the talk test in order to assess whether you are participating in moderate or vigorous activity. If you are able to easily talk to the person next to you during your workout, your activity is considered moderate. If you are unable to speak due to intense breathing then you are performing at a vigorous level.

- Any type of muscle strengthening exercise such as lifting weights, using machines, bands, or your own body weight to target major muscles including legs, hips, back, arms, chest, and stomach. These forms of physical activity are typically considered to be vigorous.

- Balance and stretching activities such as yoga, martial arts and dance, which promote physical flexibility.
So how much is enough?
Adults ages 18-64 should participate in moderate aerobic activity for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week or vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week in order to achieve the necessary health benefits.

Think 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.
Extra tips!
It is best to spread this aerobic activity throughout the week rather than completing it in just one work out session.

If your goal is weight loss, you should double the amount of time per week in which you participate in physical activity (5 hours of moderate activity or 3 hours of vigorous activity per week).

For more information regarding the benefits of physical activity, click here!

apple on suitcase

Nutrition Notes: Stay Healthy and Save Money Traveling This Summer

by Jenna Richter, Dietetic Intern

It doesn’t matter who you are, even with the slightest mention of “airplane food,” a collective groan or general look of disgust is bound to emerge. I get it. It’s easy to grab a quick burger from a fast food joint while you’re shuffling between terminals or driving in the car, but let’s be honest, even if fast food was primarily healthy, having it every day while you’re on vacation gets old pretty quickly.

The good news is, with a little planning ahead, you don’t need to rely on what’s in the airport or off the side of the road for a bite to eat during your summer travels. What some people might be unaware of, is that in the United States (and in most other countries), you are allowed to bring your own food with you to the airport and onboard the plane (yes- something you can do on a plane. Cue the applause!)

Below you can find some TSA-approved snack ideas that can easily be packed and transported with you on the plane, the car or any other mode of transportation you so choose:

1. Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper, and stored in a quart-sized plastic bag (that part is specific to plane travel.) Remember that all food that you carry on a plane will need to go through the x-ray machine, so be sure not to use any foil.

2. Dips and sauces such as hummus, salsa and almond butter can come on the plane, but remember, they need to be in a 3.4 ounce container or smaller and placed into a quart-sized plastic bag. The travel-size packs that are available from some brands are perfect!

3. Fresh fruits and veggies, such as apples, bananas and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. You can also bring a butter knife with you if you’re traveling by plane (believe it or not.) Keep in mind however that if you’re traveling internationally, fresh fruits and veggies may not be allowed through customs, so for these trips you may need to just pack enough to get you through your flight, otherwise you’ll be forced to throw away any extra food. If you’re traveling by car, these items should ideally be kept in a cooler in the backseat of your car as opposed to the trunk where they are less likely to be kept cool by the air conditioner.

4. Crunchy snacks such as crackers, popcorn, kale chips, etc.

5. Dried fruit and raw nuts- these make a great snack while you’re on the go. You can make your own mix: 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries or raisins, and raw walnuts. Airports and convenience shops usually have trail mix available for purchase, but they often contain inflammatory oils, or other additives.

6. Pre-made salads. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container (again, for traveling by plane only.) However, a great tip is to simply pour your dressing in the bottom of the bowl or container first, and then layer your greens on top for mixing in later so you don’t need to bring a separate container for your dressing, and your salad stays minimally soggy. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork- and yes, this too is allowed to be carried on the plane with you!)

7. Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security in an airport, or when you’re on the road and make periodic stops for water. Bringing your own refillable water bottles will also save you money as opposed to buying bottled water. If you’re going to any countries where you fear for the safety of their tap water, there are special water bottles available with filters inside. Check out this site to see if the tap water in the country you’re visiting is considered safe or not. Tip: Bring your own tea bags in your bag with you, and enjoy something warm and soothing to drink during your busy travel days!

For additional information about what is allowed on board your plane, check out the TSA’s website and search for specific foods or other items. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you review any customs restrictions for the country you’re visiting- these may differ from TSA’s rules.

You may be thinking, okay great I’m allowed to bring all this food with me but how will I carry it all? There are actually plenty of carry-on-size, travel-friendly coolers that you can count as your second carry-on bag, or conveniently keep in your car! Tip: you can use frozen berries or other frozen foods to keep perishable food cold inside your cooler, and not waste space with excess ice; plus, if you bring some plain, low fat yogurt with you, you can top your yogurt with berries after they’ve defrosted a bit! The TSA does allow frozen food (including ice) as long as it’s completely frozen upon coming through security (again, going back to the “no more than 3.4 ounce liquid rule.”) Still wanting some healthy snack ideas to bring with you? For some specific food items to consider packing, check this list out, and this one too!

Remember! Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet is critical each day, but especially while traveling. Being in close contact with so many people may compromise your immune system, especially if you’re not receiving adequate immuno-boosting vitamins and minerals from your diet. Also, staying sedentary for long periods of time may upset your body’s usual digestive processes. It’s important to take walks whenever possible, drink plenty of water, and do your best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure an all-around, pleasant travelling experience- your tummies will thank you!

Tips and tricks adopted from Food Babe, and http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/lifestyle/travel/health-takes-flight.

Take your dining outside this summer.

Nutrition Notes: Pack a Picnic

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Summer is here and beach season is upon us! Cookouts and picnics are longtime summer traditions, generally a time for family and friends to socialize and have fun while enjoying food and sunshine. Since these gatherings most often occur outside, food safety is very important. Hot summer temperatures can easily cause food bacteria to multiply quickly and can quickly ruin summer afternoon plans. Remembering to prepare and store food safely this summer can keep your picnics safe and fun. Below are the four important food safety steps to follow this summer:

Clean: Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including utensils, your hands and cutting boards. Make sure to always wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm and soapy water. Always use clean utensils to prevent the possibility of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria. Also, when you are preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them even if you plan to peel them. It is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside of the produce to the inside once you peel or cut them open.

Separate: Always keep raw poultry, eggs and meat separate from your fresh read-to-eat foods. This prevents the possibility for cross-contamination at any potential time of contact. When storing these items in the fridge they should always be stored in containers or plastic bags and placed on the bottom shelf to prevent the possibility of their juices dripping onto fresh produce items.

Cook: Cooking food to the proper temperature is very important. Bacteria grows the quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. Always make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can learn more about BBQ food safety here: Barbecue and Food Safety. Also, it is important to know what temperatures are considered safe when cooking, please refer to this list: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.

Chill: Once your picnic is over it is important to cool foods properly to prevent food borne illness. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; however, in the summer months, it is best to get food into the fridge within an hour. Also, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, this common practice is very risky. Instead of thawing foods on the counter you have a few food safe options:

1. Thaw in the Fridge: This is the safest way to thaw meat. Place the item on a plate or in a pan, and place it in the fridge to thaw.

2. Thaw in Cold Water: If you need to thaw something a bit quicker, place the frozen item in an airtight plastic bag and submerge it under COLD water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold.

3. Thaw in the Microwave: Each microwave has individualized instructions for thawing so check your owner’s manual. If thawing by cold water or microwave make sure to cook the item immediately after thawing.

4. Cook without Thawing: If you don’t have enough time to thaw, you can cook your food from a frozen state but make sure to check the final temperature before eating since it does take longer to cook fully.

By following the four food safety steps listed above, you can ensure that you have a safe picnic and cookout this summer. Feel free to find additional information related to food safety as well as the ability to have a few food safety myths debunked by clicking here.

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