On celebrity food endorsements

Allison Aubrey at NPR – This is how much celebrities get paid to endorse soda and unhealthy food:

What’s certain is this: Celebrity-backed food is here to stay. Even Oprah is poised to get in on the branded-food bandwagon.

A search of the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database shows Oprah has applied to trademark a range of food products — from Oprah pancakes and popcorn to pizza, to name just a few on the list.

And the actual study by Bragg et al:

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that music celebrities who are popular among adolescents endorse energy-dense, nutrient-poor products.

Follow the money.

Male baby chicks won’t be going to the grinder anymore

Dylan Matthews for Vox – This is the best news for America’s animals in decades. It’s about baby chickens:

But ending chick culling has become possible recently due to technology. United Egg Producers says it will replace culling with “in-ovo egg sexing.” This is a process that can determine the sex of chicks before they develop inside their egg. That enables egg producers to terminate the male eggs and potentially use them to help make vaccines or for pet food (most humans would presumably be grossed out by cooking fertilized eggs). Horrific infanticides will be replaced with humane, painless chicken abortions.

Great news. No more grinding male baby chicks.

Ontario fast food restaurants will soon require food labels

Laura Wright for the CBC – Ontario fast-food labels could cause women to gain weight, public health advocate says:

Along with the calorie information, chain restaurants will have to display a “context statement” meant to help consumers better understand the calorie count. The statement will say adults require 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, but that individual calorie needs vary.

Starbucks dessert with unlabelled nut contamination causes anaphylactic reaction

Speaking of people serving food which causes an allergic reaction, here’s one from 2009; Kathy Tomlinson for the CBC – Near fatal reaction caused by Starbucks dessert:

Within days of the incident Kristin’s mother, Norma Gardiner, said she went into the same Starbucks outlet to see if a warning label had been put on the parfait containers. The label hadn’t changed, she said, and when she asked an employee if the product contained nuts, she said she was also told it did not.

Business as usual.

And here’s Starbucks’ response:

“‘Sorry for the inconvenience. How about we send you a Starbucks card?'”

Quebec waiter arrested for serving food and causing anaphylactic shock in customer

Melissa Fundira for the CBC – Quebec waiter arrested after seafood puts allergic customer in coma

Canuel had left his EpiPen in his car.

He was hospitalized at the intensive care unit of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke, where he was treated for a severe allergic reaction.

He says he also suffered a cardiac arrest the following day and was in a coma for several days.

“I almost died,” he said.

I’m not blaming Canuel one bit, but I can certainly understand how after carrying around an EpiPen for a long time, you can end up thinking it’s generally not needed. And seconds count when you have a reaction.

Also see Jonathan Montpetit’s article on the charges and legal side of things – Fish served to a customer nearly kills him – is that a crime?:

In order to convict the waiter, the Crown would have to establish that he displayed extreme carelessness toward the client’s safety, said one criminal defence lawyer.

“Criminal negligence requires a reckless disregard for human life,” Eric Sutton told CBC’s Radio Noon. “It’s not enough to be negligent or careless. You need more than that.”

Sutton is unconvinced the Crown will pursue a case against the waiter.

Allergies are certainly misunderstood by many people.

 

Not quite CSA

Julia Moskin at the New York Times – When Community-Supported Agriculture Is Not What It Seems:

“Do consumers even know that when they sign up for one of these fake C.S.A.s, sometimes it doesn’t benefit local farmers any more than if they shop at the supermarket?” Ms. Kaplan-Walbrecht asked.

Probably not. The organic farm boxes you buy online may or may not be local. Local farm boxes may or may not be organic. The farmers may or may not be paid more than wholesale prices. And customers may or may not care.

The whole point of the CSA is to directly support (and pay) your local farmer. You may want more goods in your produce box, but be vigilant and be aware of what you’re getting.

On deliciousness

David Chang at Wired – The Unified Theory of Deliciousness:

Joshua told me he wanted to make a version of a Bolognese, the Italian meat sauce. I told him that was fine, but he had to use only Korean ingredients. I often set these kinds of limitations, because I’m a big believer that creativity comes from working within constraints.

Anyway, that meant he would have to find a way of re-creating the sweetness, umami, and pungency of Bolognese without the onions, celery, carrot, tomato paste, or white wine. He ended up using scallions, red chiles, ground pork, and fermented bean paste. Instead of using milk to provide that silky mouthfeel, I encouraged him to add in some whipped tofu. And rather than pasta or gnocchi, he served it with rice cakes that looked like gnocchi. We called it Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, and when most people taste it, it reminds them—even on a subconscious level—of a spicier version of Bolognese.

I often find that with our food constraints, much of what we cook tastes the same, and very familiar. This is good in one sense, since by now we know what our son likes and dislikes and can guess whether he’ll like the food or not. But it’s bad in another sense, where I feel that we’re limiting him and not presenting a wider range of flavours and textures the we want him to experience.

Chang’s attempts at recreating familiar foods with different ingredients shows that in some instances he can re-imagine familiar dishes using unfamiliar ingredients. We are trying to do that every time we make a new dish, having to replace ingredients with others that are safe. Unfortunately it’s only too easy to fall back on the tried and true recipes. Time is the overriding constraint.

Hospital food gets an update – only after the managers try it out

Elizabeth Payne at the Ottawa Citizen – Ottawa Hospital managers, after eating the food for a week, say changes are coming:

Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week, he said, brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat.

No kidding.

Report on free school meals left unpublished

Clare Salisbury for BBC News – Free school meals: Report on struggling small schools ‘not published’:

The Department for Education told the BBC: “We are not going to publish the Small Schools Taskforce report.

“It wasn’t published last year because of the Spending Review and by the time that was complete, the report was out of date and much of it was already in existence.”

If much of it was already in existence, then it’s easy enough to highlight the parts that they implemented, isn’t it? Unless they didn’t actually implement anything.

Also listen: Food Programme podcast School food: An uncertain future

GMO labeling will soon be coming to the US

Chris Prentice for Reuters – U.S. GMO food labeling bill passes Senate

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would for the first time require food to carry labels listing genetically-modified ingredients, which labeling supporters say could create loopholes for some U.S. crops.

The Senate voted 63-30 for the bill that would display GMO contents with words, pictures or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) would decide which ingredients would be considered genetically modified.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Three ways to show whether the food in the package is GMO?
Alan Guebert for the Lincoln Journal Star – Farm and food: the land of non

First, explains the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the companies can place a “barcode or QR code”—a quick response code—on its food labels. Those codes, however, “require consumers (to) use a smartphone to find more information about a product.”

So no smart phone, no food info; that’s so dumb it’s clever.

Second, a company can use “a symbol on the package” to denote its contents are GMO. What symbol? The one “to be created by U.S. Department of Agriculture.” That shouldn’t take long, eh?

Or, third, the food company can place “an actual on-package statement that the product contains GMOs.” A simple, uncomplicated label? Brilliant!

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

And of course, Marion Nestle, on her blog Food Politics – The FDA weighs in on food labeling:

The Senate bill is decidedly corporate-friendly.  It is decidedly not consumer-friendly.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Of course. Who would have thought they wouldn’t be?