Whether You’re a Big Cheese or a Good Egg, We All Use Food Idioms


We’re spilling the beans on food idioms, those food-derived metaphors, aphorisms, similes, and other figures of speech that lard our language so liberally.
Even when we’re not talking about food, it works its way into our speech. You go to work and bring home the bacon, and if you’re not working for peanuts you’ll be rolling in the dough and can salt some away. When you come home at night, maybe you chew the fat with an old friend who’s one smart cookie, or just curl up like a couch potato and sink your teeth into the cream of the crop on cable TV.


You can put all your eggs in one basket or walk on eggshells, but if you lay an egg with a poor performance, you just might end up wearing egg on your face. But that’s just how the cookie crumbles. High-spirited types are full of beans, tattlers spill the beans, and bean counters can tell us if it all adds up to a hill of bean. 

maxresdefaultFood has worked its way into common slang in every language. When you’re having a good day in France they say you have the peach, while a bad day in Holland has you staring at the sloop like a herring. Lucky Americans are born with silver spoons in their mouths, while Belgians are born with their bums in butter, Spaniards arrive with a loaf of bread under their arms, and Swedes slide in on a shrimp sandwich. A fussy Australian carries on like a pork chop, a lying Russian is hanging noodles on your ears, and when you’re pushy in China they say you’re the first to have the soup.

maxresdefault-2Why food?
Maybe it’s because eating is a universal experience. Maybe it’s the way food reveals so much about a culture. Maybe it’s just because food references are broadly relatable in a way that, say, astronomy or auto parts are not.

Food idioms might not be your cup of tea, but it’s impossible to go cold turkey.
That’s it in a nutshell.

all images via This is Not Grammar
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It takes a half hour of tossing around a football to burn off the calories from just one little pig-in-a-blanket

On Super Bowl Sunday, we’re not so much armchair quarterbacks as snack bowl linebackers. 
For most fans the broadcast is an excuse to eat a full day’s worth of calories– one tortilla chip and chicken wing at a time.

Of course you’re no linebacker bulking up for the big game. But if you were— or a cheerleader, or even just a wildly enthusiastic fan—here’s the Super Bowl-style workout it would take to burn the calories of Super Bowl gluttony.



We’ll consume 27 billion calories just from potato chips. Forget about the carbs; the fat content alone contributes the calories to create four million new pounds of fat on American bodies. To burn off just a small handful of chips with French onion dip you’d have to bicycle back and forth across the Golden Gate Bridge four times.




Who doesn’t love a good pig in a blanket? It takes about a half hour of tossing around a football to burn off each little pastry-wrapped sausage.



You’re looking at a graph of 52 weeks of chicken wing sales. Note the spike? That would be the week leading up to the last Super Bowl. Paint the faces of eight rabid Ravens fans and you’ll burn the calories contained in a single chicken wing that’s been fried and drenched in Buffalo sauce. Unfortunately there aren’t enough football fans on the planet to make up for the 1.23 billion wings that will be eaten this Super Bowl Sunday.

Once the hors d’oeuvre of choice for Grandma’s bridge club,deviled eggs have become a Sunday staple during football season. Jogging the length of the football field 20 times will burn the calories from two stuffed halves of an egg.


football guac


Guacamole has risen through the Super Bowl snack ranks in short order. From a mere 8 million pounds a decade ago, this year we’ll be mashing 79 million pounds of avocados into dip, helped by having San Francisco host this year’s championship. Figure on 10 minutes of climbing stadium stairs to burn a quarter cup of guacamole.



Pizzerias are always the big winners. Super Bowl Sunday is their busiest day of the year by leaps and bounds. One in seven Americans orders take-out and most of it is pizza. If you played the French horn in a marching band for the duration of the game, the exercise would earn you a couple of slices.

superbowl glass

The nation’s beer tab will be more than $10 billion for Super Bowl Sunday. That’s 50 million cases, but it’s still only good enough to rank eighth on the list of beer-drinking holidays, mostly due to the season. The warm weather holidays of 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Fathers Day hold down the top spots. If you do your part with a 12 oz. beer each quarter, you’d have to do ‘the wave’ 2,853 times to burn the calories in those four bottles of beer.

Chips, dips, wings, beer… Sunday is the Super Bowl of gluttony. And you’ll pay for it on Monday when 6 percent of the workforce will call in sick.

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Online Auctions Let You Snag the Ultimate Dinner Party Guest

Pop Culture lats Supper via Adara Tiana

Pop Culture Last Supper via Adara Tiana


Last Supper with Dead Rock Stars by Misha Tyutunik

Last Supper with Dead Rock Stars by Misha Tyutunik


Physicists Last Supper by Nick Farrantello

Physicists Last Supper by Nick Farrantello


Who’s on your fantasy dinner party guest list?
You know the parlor game: if you could invite anyone, living or dead, who would have at your dinner table? 
As you go around the room and name your names, there are some predictable results. Jesus, Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, and the Dalai Lama are classic choices; J.K. Rowling and Barack Obama are often mentioned as are Warren Buffet (who wouldn’t want some investment advice?), Gandhi (more meat for the rest of us), and Martin Luther King Jr. to say grace. So will someone’s sixth grade teacher and a great grandpa who died in a war. The rest of the table would probably be filled out with intellectuals and sex symbols, favorite writers, athletes, and Hollywood stars.

Online celebrity auction sites can fill the seats of your dream table.
Recent auction winners have supped with the likes of Gloria Steinem, Hugh Jackman, Snoop Dogg, the cast of The Big Bang Theory, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and primatologist Jane Goodall. The celebrities like to participate because the proceeds go to a charity of their choosing, while bidders relish the chance to hobnob with their heroes.

These are the kinds of opportunities that normally are relegated to the well-heeled and well-connected attending pricey galas, but online auctions make them available to anyone willing to pony up the right price. Some of the sites operate with a standard auction model with the spoils awarded to the highest bidder. Others are more raffle-like, collecting thousands of small donations and choosing the winner in a random drawing. The auctions donate from 80-100% of the proceeds to charitable organizations.

Current auctions are offering a salumi-filled cocktail hour with Mario Batali and a bike ride and ice cream date with Bono. For a lowball bid you can have lunch with Judge Judy, whose reserve price has yet to be met.

Check out Charity BuzzPrizeoHollywood Charity Auctionand Omaze where you’ll see ongoing auctions for all kinds of social engagements with sports figures, politicians, artists, rappers, rockers, technology wizards, business leaders, and plenty of Hollywood stars.

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A Most Perfect Recipe





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2015 Was A Pretty Lousy Year for Food Policy


It was (Big) business as usual in 2015.
Big Food, Big Agriculture, Big Chemicals, and Big Soda faced off against public health advocates, and the public was all too often the Big Loser. Here are some of the more notable food policy highs and lows from the past year.


The coveted children’s nutrition seal goes to ….Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics selected Kraft Singles as the first product to earn its new Kids Eat Right nutrition seal. The Academy, representing 75,000 health professionals, advises Congress in developing regulations that shape national food policy. It also counts PepsiCo, Kraft, and ConAgra Foods among its corporate sponsors. In a Daily Show segment, Jon Stewart summed up the announcement by explaining “the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is an academy in the same way this [Kraft Singles] is cheese.”



In his first official act as the newly elected commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Sid Miller declared a statewide ‘amnesty for cupcakes,’ symbolically squaring off against what he calls the federal overreach of school nutrition guidelines. He also reversed a 10-year old ban, returning deep fryers and soda machines to school cafeterias.

In other childhood obesity news, the president of Cinnabon and a former Coca-Cola president were keynote speakers at the annual conference of the School Nutrition Association.

herbicide_spraying_sign-4316-8931Dow and Monsanto doubled down on herbicides this year. Their first generation GMO seeds were bestowed with herbicide-resistant genetic material that allowed crops to survive the bounteous spraying of toxins. Now that weeds have adapted with their own toxin resistance, the agro-giants have newly engineered seeds that are able to tolerate more powerful chemicals and have brewed up companion cocktails combining old and new herbicides. The World Health Organization and the EPA have both voiced concerns about their carcinogenic effects on humans. Expect to see the chemical cocktails on your local garden center shelves in time for spring planting.

The Global Energy Balance Network says 'go ahead, drink up'

The Global Energy Balance Network says ‘go ahead, drink up’

Stunning news came out of an anti-obesity group called the Global Energy Balance Network. The organization burst on the scene this years with an advisory board stocked with respected scientists and physicians all bearing the message that we’ve been wrong about the link between diet and obesity. Despite the 40,000 or so relevant studies that pop up in a quick Google Scholar search, the group’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, a top exercise scientist with the University of South Carolina, dismissed the link with this statement: “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on, and there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

The Global Energy Balance Network proved to be nothing more than a front for Coca-Cola, a little detail that was omitted in GEBN materials. Founded entirely on millions in unrestricted funds provided by Coca-Cola, the soda company selected the organization’s leaders, edited its mission statement, and suggested content for its website. Side note: in the last few years Dr. Blair received $3.5 million in research funds from Coca-Cola. Just saying.


Food safety, transparency, and traceability took a hit this year when Congress repealed the country-of-origin-labeling rule on beef and pork. This came as we were still reeling from the news that even Chipotle, with its fresh ingredients and best practices, was vulnerable to a series of foodborne illness disasters. Then we heard about the new strain of E. coli appearing on Chinese pig farms that is more virulent and antibiotic resistant than anything we’ve ever seen, able to shake off even anti-pathogen drugs of last resort.
Slave ship shrimp, anyone?

It’s not all bad news from 2015.
We have a First Lady who continues to push for better school nutrition. The American appetite for fast food is finally waning. Trans fats and food dyes are disappearing from many processed foods. We’re losing our taste for sugared cereals, sodium-heavy canned soups, white bread, margarine, and corn syrup sweetened beverages. Calorie intake dropped for the first time in decades mostly because of improved product labeling and effective public health messaging.

In the new year we’ll continue to butt heads over GMOS and antibiotics, soda taxes and marketer access to child-oriented media. Resources aren’t aligned with our nutritional goals, and corporate interests are too cozy with policy makers. Here’s hoping that in 2016 common sense prevails and the public’s interests are put ahead of profits.


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There are Good Luck and Bad Luck Foods. Start the New Year Off Right.



What’s on your plate for the new year?
Many New Year’s revelers try to balance the bad juju on its way by starting out the year with a meal of lucky foods.
These are foods that symbolize health, long life, prosperity, fertility, love, and forward progress. Summon your own good luck for the coming year with some of the good luck foods from New Year’s traditions around the world.images-3

Beans, peas, and lentils
Legumes are symbolic of prosperity in many cultures because they’re thought to resemble coins when they’ve been cooked. They’re often paired with pork, which has its own lucky associations, so the combination makes for a most propitious meal. Italians eat sausages and green lentils just after midnight. Germans usually eat their New Year’s legumes in lentil or split pea soup with sausage. Hoppin’ John, a dish of black-eyed peas cooked with ham, is a tradition in the American south.

Cook your noodles carefully. Chinese traditions suggest that the longer the noodles, the longer the life. Uncut, unbroken noodles are eaten as a symbol of longevity at birthday and New Year celebrations. The Chinese new year doesn’t begin until February 19th, but some January 1 noodles can’t hurt.

tangold2016bootRound or ring-shaped foods

The shape represents a year coming full circle. Mexicans eat the ring-shaped rosca de reyes cake, the Dutch eat the donut-like ollie bollen, and in Greece, families bake a lucky coin into the round vassilopita cake.

Pomegranates are an especially auspicious symbol. Filled with hundreds of seeds with an almost lifelike ability to bleed, they symbolize life and abundance, and in a number of New Year traditions they’re smashed open at midnight. An Islamic legend says that each fruit contains one seed that has descended from paradise.

Fish makes frequent appearances on New Year’s tables. There’s herring at midnight in Poland, boiled cod in Denmark, and the Germans not only feast on carp, they also put fish scales in their wallets for a successful new year. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest. Chinese tradition dictates that a whole fish should be served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good year, from start to finish.images-6

In Spain it’s traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the coming year. Are this year’s grapes sweet or sour? The taste gives a clue to the character of each of the coming months. Spanish state television broadcasts the New Year’s chimes and nearly 4 million pounds of grapes (in little 12 grape packets) are sold in the last week of the year.

What Not to Eat:

  • Lobster
    Lobster is considered a poor choice for a new year’s meal because lobsters move backwards and could lead to setbacks, regrets, and dwelling on the past.
  • Chicken
    You don’t want your good luck to fly away.
  • White foods
    The Chinese avoid eggs, cheese, and tofu, because white is the color of death.

And never clean your plate. A little leftover food will usher in a year of plenty and guarantee a stocked pantry.



Posted in diversions, holidays, New Years | 3 Comments

There’s a Little Something Called Responsibility


You made the mess, you clean it up.
That’s what we should be telling producers who package their beverages in plastic bottles.

That’s how it’s done in other countries; across Europe and Canada, food and beverage processors operate under the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility. It means that producers are responsible for the entire life-cycle of their products, especially the reuse, recycling, and disposal of packaging.

The rest of the world has this:


Der Grüne Punkt, German for the Green Dot, is the symbol of national product stewardship systems in 31 countries. The Green Dot on packaging means that the producer takes responsibility for environmental impacts throughout the product’s lifecycle. Before releasing its goods into the marketplace, the manufacturer pays into a recovery organization that complies with UK and EU standards as well as respective national laws. The Green Dot is the world’s most widely used trademark with more than 170,000 participating companies taking responsibility for 460 billion packaged items annually.

The U.S. has this:


Producers get to wash their hands of their handiwork as soon as it leaves the factory. The cost of dealing with the detritus of our consumption falls on municipal governments and taxpayers who fund local infrastructures to deal with the waste.

Naturally, Americans lead the world in creating municipal waste, and food packaging is some of the most problematic. It often combines several different packaging materials to create unrecyclable trash like the plastic-bonded aluminum used in juice pouches (the world can be encircled five times over just by all the Capri Sun pouches that are littered or landfilled in a single year). Food packaging also relies heavily on oil-based plastics—the manufacture, distribution, and disposal of each single-serve water bottle consumes an entire quarter of the bottle’s volume capacity of crude oil, and the average American drinks and disposes of 167 water bottles in a year.

It doesn’t help that recycling rates leveled off a decade ago and have even declined in recent years.
Half of the American population recycles daily, while 13% doesn’t recycle at all. But recycling is not the wished-for magic bullet. What was supposed to be a self-sustaining service has turned into a drain on municipal budgets, and many in the scientific community are questioning whether the resources used in processing waste cancel out the positive environmental benefits of recycling.

Extended Producer Responsibility not only shifts the costs, it shifts the conversation.
By holding manufacturers accountable for the complete life cycle of their products, it incentivizes them to incorporate environmentally friendly design and socially responsible marketing. Instead of focusing efforts on disposal, it motivates them to reimagine production and distribution. It means that consumers and producers both have some skin in the game when it comes to devising and implementing strategies reduce the total environmental impact of waste.

Learn more about the groups behind the Extended Producer Responsibility movement in the U.S.:
The Product Stewardship Institute  promotes legislation and voluntary initiatives to expand state laws that require manufacturers to finance the costs of recycling or safe disposal of dangerous products like pharmaceutical waste, batteries, and electronics.
Upstream pressures consumer goods companies to take responsibility for packaging waste through its Make It Take It campaign.
Waste-producing giants like Keurig, Pepsico, and Coca Cola have kicked in to create the Closed Loop Fund, a social impact fund with $100 million to invest in the development of environmentally responsible products and packaging.



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Evidence is Piling Up: Marijuana Could Be a Weight Loss Aid


image via Cosmopolitan

image via Cosmopolitan


“The prevalence of obesity was significantly lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.”
                                       American Journal of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press, August, 2011

So concluded researchers from the first large-scale study of marijuana use and obesity. They analyzed data from 50,000 U.S. adults, controlled for participants’ sociodemographic characteristics (age, education, ethnicity, etc.), and found a marked difference in obesity rates: less than 17% among cannabis users versus 25% among nonusers, and the most frequent smokers (3X per week or more) were the slimmest of them all.

The study pretty much turns on its ear everything you thought you knew about the munchies. And there have been others:

  • a 2013 study from the Harvard School of Public Health, published in the American Journal of Medicine shows that pot smokers, on average, have smaller waists and higher levels of ‘good’ cholesterol than non-pot smokers. Again, the biggest winners were the heaviest users.
  • The research journal Obesity published a study this year linking lower body mass index and lower insulin levels, both markers for diabetes, with cannabis use.
  • The British Medical Journal reports that current abstainers who merely have a history of marijuana use are at a lower risk of contracting type 2 diabetes than those with no history of cannabis consumption.

Can you think of a more counterintuitive diet aid than marijuana?

The munchies are a well-documented phenomenon. Rigorous, double-blind, controlled studies only confirm what generations of stoners and chemotherapy patients know: smoking weed makes you hungry. And not regular hungry but craving food of the sweet, salty, or fatty variety. Marijuana perks up the taste and hunger receptors in your brain and body; flavors are heightened on the tongue as happy-making mood compounds course through your body, and your brain craves more, more, more. It’s why even brownies made from a boxed mix will taste so damn good when you’re stoned.

Actually, marijuana isn’t all that far-fetched as a diet aid.

For starters, obesity researchers know that a diet of foods laden with concentrated sugars and refined starches can act on the brain in much the same way. Chronic overeaters are essentially looking to stimulate the same reward centers as marijuana smokers. Basically, cannabis users are less inclined to overindulge in food in that way because they already have their own high.

An easy benefit to understand is the impact of body temperature on weight regulation. Cannabis elevates the body’s core temperature and increases blood flow. The effect on the metabolism is similar to what happens during exercise—metabolic processes speed up and burn off more calories, and continue to do so for an hour or two after smoking—seemingly enough to counteract the munchies and then some. Less is understood about marijuana’s role in regulating the body’s blood sugar levels and insulin, but trial data has many in the medical community convinced that a marijuana derivative will someday be part of the everyday health regimen for people with diabetes.

Marijuana just might be the antidote to the national obesity epidemic. 
Researchers from San Diego State University and Cornell University, publishing in last month’s journal of Health Economics, found that when a state passes a medical marijuana law, the probability of obesity drops by 2 to 6 percent and generates savings in obesity-related medical costs of $58 to $115 per citizen, per year. As compelling as the evidence might be, it’s nearly impossible to fund and conduct research and drug trials as long as marijuana remains an illegal substance on the national level.


Posted in diet, Health, health + diet | 1 Comment

Who Still Buys Calendars? Oh, about 98% of us.


The physical calendar is still king.
We spend our days tethered to digital devices, but the ubiquity of low-tech timekeeping is remarkably untouched by the competition. 98% of homes and 100% of all businesses use at least one printed paper calendar, and day planner books have seen a resurgence as a must-have accessory for millennial women.

This year’s top-selling calendars are the typical mix of boy bands, small animals, inspirational sayings, and zombies.
But we did find a few food-themed calendars with way more personality. They’re quirky, creative, and anything but ordinary—just like the food-loving friends on your holiday list.

Poutine? Spam? They’re not our thing, but there’s one in every crowd.









A few designers are bringing interactivity to calendars. A food photo with its accompanying recipe is printed on each of the pages of A Year of Tempting Plates. The pages are enhanced with augmented reality software; scan with your phone and each month’s recipe appears in a video cooking tutorial. A lower-tech rendition comes from a German tea maker that created a daily calendar using tea leaves that are pressed into 365 date-embossed, wafer thin, brewable shingles. Instead of a page-a-day, it’s a cup-a-day.

agfacalendar1  drinkable-tea-calendar-7



In the grand tradition of Hot Potatoes from the Bavarian Farmers Association, we have the Italian Erotic Carp calendar and the cheese pinup girls from the French Fromages de Terroirs Association.









These page-a-day pet calendars promise nutritionally balanced, veterinarian-approved ‘tandem’ recipes that you and your pet will both enjoy.

Proving that firefighters don’t have a monopoly on calendars, the Sexy Chef is back for a third year. Cheeky and cheesy rather than steamy, in past editions the shamelessly untoned chefs stripped down and oiled up to step into singlets as masked Mexican-style wrestlers and short-shorts for roller disco. The Wrecking Ball promo suggests there’s more of the same for 2016.




Posted in diversions, New Years | 2 Comments

Food Videos are the Reigning Thumb Stoppers of Facebook

image via ReelSEO

image via ReelSEO


Cooking videos have emerged as the killer content on Facebook’s recently added video feature.
They’ve proven capable of stopping thumbs—getting Facebook users to put on the brakes as they scroll through their newsfeeds—winning fans among users and more importantly among marketers and content creators. Month after month, food content has dominated the leaderboard rankings of Facebook’s video creators for as far back as these things have been measured.

Nothing stops thumbs quite like meatballs.
Leading the pack last month, a Buzzfeed clip for Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs was viewed 82.9 million times. With the Crock-Pot people reporting annual sales of about 4.4 million units, there were more viewers of the recipe than there are slow cookers out there in which to make the meatballs.

The most successful videos grab attention quickly, like the all-time champion, a 15-second s’mores dip clip with more than 120 million views. They’re short- less than a minute in duration- and usually feature just the cook’s hands as they add, mix, and shape a series of ingredients. Most prep steps take place off camera, and the whole process is sped up with time-lapse editing. Instructions tend to be represented graphically, since Facebook videos go straight to autoplay without sound, and the visuals are designed to look best on small mobile devices, where most people view their newsfeeds.

Buzzfeed has cracked the code like no other.
Already known for its mastery of the internet’s tone and aesthetic, Buzzfeed has nailed the art of the viral Facebook video. Buzzfeed content generates 2 billion Facebook video views a month, well ahead of every other other creator. The big surprise is the way that food and cooking is single-handedly responsible for that success: 19 out of the 20 most-watched Buzzfeed videos uploaded to Facebook last month were food related.

Buzzfeed posts through its main Facebook channel, through Buzzfeed Food, and now through a new, dedicated channel called Tasty, with the taglines: Food that’ll make you close your eyes, lean back, and whisper “yessss.” Snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try. Other food-oriented video creators have found similar success on Facebook. The Tastemade TV Network picked up nearly 5 million Facebook fans this year after garnering 80 million views for No-bake Strawberry Chocolate Tart, and has just launched the all-dessert Sweeten channel. Between Milk-and-Cookies Shot Glasses and Supersize Ice Cream Sandwich, the lifestyle site PopSugar attracted 40 million Facebook video views. And life-hacker site Tip Hero stormed into the rankings last month with Baked Apple Roses, a surprise megahit generating more than 220 million Facebook video views.

Facebook is giving YouTube a run for the money- except when it comes to actual money.
Unlike YouTube, Facebook isn’t paying video producers for content, and advertising is still in a testing phase. But Facebook offers unparalleled reach and social engagement, and it’s bringing in a new kind of audience that wasn’t explicitly seeking out video content. For now, Facebook’s video producers have to be satisfied with the occasional paid endorsement or product placement and the opportunity to build an online following.


Posted in cyberculture, diversions, recipes | Leave a comment

How To Navigate Our Collective Food Anxiety

image via Marie Saba

image via Marie Saba


Are hot dogs really as bad for you as cigarettes?
Will coffee send you to an early grave? Is gluten fogging your brain or is it dairy?
There are 40,000 items in the supermarket, but it sometimes feels like there’s nothing safe to eat.

Eat this! Don’t eat that!
There’s a steady barrage of nutritional advice and medical headlines, and they usually contradict earlier messages. We’ve seen good foods gone bad— think of tuna and margarine. Dietary no-no’s like coffee, red wine, eggs, and chocolate are the new health foods, but toasted bread is carcinogenic. Yes to sugar, no to soy. Or is it yes to soy? We’re counseled to eat more fatty acids, except whoops, gotta watch the Omega-6s. I forget, are we eating butter this week?

food-allergyFood avoidance has become a way of life.
We read labels for the un-ingredients, more interested in what’s not in food than what’s in it. The packaged foods industry reports that 52% of consumers are avoiding specific ingredients, up from 26% in less than a decade. Those afflicted with allergies, sensitivities or specific health problems are in the minority. The rest of us are opting out of certain foods and ingredients as a lifestyle choice. And those packaged food marketers love the trend; they get to charge a clean label premium to a larger share of the market than is medically or nutritionally justified. Take gluten-free products: less than one per cent of the population needs to avoid gluten but more than 29 per cent chooses to avoid iteven though it’s estimated that a gluten-free diet can double the cost of groceries (and ironically, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness show that the number one stressor for celiac patients is not the disease itself but the cost of the diet).

We agonize over food in ways that would mystify earlier generations who only worried about getting enough.
It’s been called the gastronomic equivalent of having too much time on our hands, and the abundance has allowed our thoughts to run amok, turning one of our most basic pleasures into a significant source of anxiety. When fear crosses into phobia, it even gets its own clinical diagnosis: Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, also known as Selective Eating Disorder, appears in the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Additives, dyes, GMOs, hormones…they give us good reasons to seek out dietary advice.
Recognize that solid, evidence-based advice seldom deals in absolutes. It’s constantly updated and revised as it accounts for the evolving, nuanced landscape of diets and populations. On the flipside are the food marketers, alarmist media, and health gurus whose unambiguous claims are too often ill-informed and lacking context. They escalate our fears and lead us into the kind of avoidance and deprivation that may be unnecessary and unsound, and will certainly be less enjoyable.

As the late, great Julia Child used to say:
“If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.”


Posted in diet, health + diet | 1 Comment

An ISIS Attack on our Food Supply: It’s not an IF but a WHEN




For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.
—Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at his farewell news conference, December 3, 2004

Poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah. 
—militant identified as ‘Abu Salman the Frenchman’ speaking in an ISIS recruiting video released November 15, 2015


The US made big plans to draw a protective shield around our food supply in the the wake of 9-11. 
Food security joined priority sectors like communications, energy, transportation, and emergency health services as a focus of the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security. Early 2002 saw the quick passage of the Bioterrorism Act, intended to create pathways for cooperation and oversight between the government, private industry, and public agencies like water departments and the FDA. But after more than a decade of Presidential directives, Senate hearings, and Congressional reports, we remain as vulnerable as ever to the nightmare scenario of food terrorism.

The problem is that food counterterrorism happens at the intersection of geography and bureaucracy.
Geographic hurdles exist because domestic food production takes place over vast, sprawling areas which are impossible to protect effectively. Oversight becomes even more complicated in a globalized world economy in which food and food ingredients are imported from countries where health and safety standards are low or non-existent. Then there are the bureaucratic tangles and inefficiencies. Food monitoring activities are far-flung and fragmented: there’s the oversight of federal agencies like the USDA, FDA, Department of Defense, and Homeland Security; and in many segments of agriculture and manufacturing, there are parallel systems of self-regulation and voluntary compliance on the part of the private sector. Lines of responsibility are blurred, communications between unrelated entities are scattershot, and there is no one with the authority or accountability to take charge.

The public has also dropped the ball.
One of our deepest fears following the 9-11 attacks was that terrorists would poison our food. But we’ve been lulled into complacency by the relative domestic quiet of the intervening years, and lost our post-9-11 sense of urgency to effect change. Also, direct attacks on the food supply are rare. The vast majority of deliberate contaminations take place at the end of the food supply chain—the rat poison in a husband’s dinner or tranquilizers in the city council’s coffee pot. Occasionally we see tampering at the retail grocery or restaurant level, but these tend to be mostly thrill crimes, or crimes of retribution. Rarer still are politically motivated acts, like the 1984 salmonella attack directed at voters that sickened nearly a thousand Oregon residents, or the poisoning death in London of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed with a lethal dose of radioactive polonium-210 in his tea.

All that tells us is that it hasn’t happened yet.
Food is easily the least protected element of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Some might argue that despite its vulnerability, we have little to fear because the world has never seen a large-scale act of warfare on a food supply. But then again, the world had never seen anything like 9-11 or the ISIS attacks on Paris.


Posted in agriculture, food safety | Leave a comment

A Celebrity, an Internet Billionaire, and a Unicorn Walk Into the Room

via AndNowUKnow produce industry news

via AndNowUKnow produce industry news


It sounds like the opening of a bad joke. Instead, it’s a scene that’s playing out behind the scenes in the meal kit delivery business.

The celebrity
Beyoncé’s got one. So do Cindy Crawford and Gwyneth Paltrow. TV chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Adam Richman, and a slew of lesser-known alums from shows like Top Chef, The Chew, and Chopped are lending their names and talents to meal kit services. The real stunner is cookbook author and food activist Mark Bittman, who recently stepped down from the plummiest of gigs as a lead food columnist for The New York Times to devote himself to The Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit company.

The billionaire
Technology-focused venture capital and private equity investment firms like Accel Partners, Lowercase Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners have found success by buying into the startup sector of the moment. After getting in early on companies like Uber, LinkedIn, Skype, and Pinterest, they’re pulling out their checkbooks for a piece of the subscription meal business.

The unicorn
Blue Apron and Hello Fresh have already reached unicorn status, and Plated isn’t too far behind. So-called unicorns are the rare startups that, based on fundraising, are valued in the private markets at more than $1 billion. Within the subscription meal kit sector, the designation is hardly the stuff of myth.

What’s in the box (or bag, or basket, or cooler, or crate)?
Menus and pricing structures vary, but all of the meal kit delivery services bring pre-planned menus, prepped and portioned ingredients, and step-by-step instructions. A shipment could bring little screw-top jars filled with pre-measured quantities of vinegar, olive oil, harissa, and crème fraîche. Tiny bags will each contain a teaspoon or two of dried herbs and ground spices, or maybe a clove of peeled garlic or a few sprigs of fresh herbs; larger bags hold greens and grains and pan-ready meats and fish. You”ll do some chopping and sautéing, maybe stuff a squash or mix up a spice rub, but you won’t have to search for recipes, run to the supermarket, or buy an entire jar of black sesame seeds or pomegranate molasses because one recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons.

Meal kits hit the sweet spot for dinner at home on a weeknight.
The goal is a meal that’s better than heat-and-eat prepared food, healthier than takeout, more convenient than scratch cooking, and less expensive than restaurant dining. They’re competing with takeout and fast casual restaurants, the prepared foods available in supermarkets, and the booming category of home-delivered groceries and restaurant meals, which has spawned a few of its own unicorns like Instacart and Delivery Hero.

It’s a niche business with plenty of subdivisions.
You can recreate favorite restaurant dishes at home (Din, Plated, ChefDay!); improve your nutrition (Lighter); whip up a superfood smoothie a day (The Greenblender), eat like a Southerner (PeachDish ) or like you live in New England (Just Add Cooking). There are meal kits for vegans and vegetarians, carnivores, pescatarians, and omnivores. You can follow a gluten-free or Paleo diet, ban all GMOs from your kitchen, or keep kosher.

So many meal kit companies! Billion dollar valuations! Still, most of us don’t know anyone who uses them. 
So far the meal kit business is serving mostly young urbanites, but the market is plenty big: Blue Apron alone ships 3 million meals a month. Millennials already spend more on food outside the home than any other generation, and if they continue their spending patterns as they mature into higher income brackets, they’ll be dropping an additional $6 billion yearly into foodservice.

As a group, the under-40 crowd cares more than their elders about what they eat, where it comes from, and members have a healthy disdain for processed foods. They have broad, adventurous palates and were raised on a steady diet of TV cooking shows. Meal kit delivery services tap into all of that plus there’s an appealing technology component with most transactions taking place through mobile apps. For now, capital continues to flow freely to startups, and every day seems to brings a new meal kit service catering to young would-be cooks who aren’t quite ready to take off their training wheels.



Posted in cook + dine, food trends, home delivery | Leave a comment

A Little Thanksgiving Humor (courtesy of Eater)


The Thanksgiving issue of Gout Magazine via Eater.com

plus back issues, in case you missed them:


Gout Magazine Winter2015


Gout Magazine Summer 2015


Posted in diversions, funny, Thanksgiving | 1 Comment

First You Laugh, Then You Cringe: The Krispy Kreme Children’s Hospital is Real



Dr. Donut via Adventure Time/Cartoon Network

Paging Dr. Donut to the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic at the University of North Carolina.
Universities have made some boneheaded choices when it comes to selling property naming rights. The University of New Mexico has the WisePies Pizza and Salad basketball arena and Florida Atlantic University cut a stadium deal with an operator of prisons and detention centers (later rescinded when students protested its corporate history of corruption and human rights violations). Then there are the bathrooms. For the smalltime philanthropist, or just a donor with a sense of humor, these too are up for grabs. You can find individually named stalls at Dixie State College of Utah; a named men’s room at Harvard Law School; and library urinals at the University of Pennsylvania complete with plaques that read “The relief you are now experiencing is made possible by a gift from Michael Zinman.” 

The renaming of UNC’s Children’s Specialty Clinic is distinctly different.
It’s not like slapping a corporate name on a stadium. This mashup of children’s healthcare and sugary deep-fried pastries arrives in the midst of an epidemic of pediatric metabolic syndrome, and it does so in North Carolina, ranked 5th worst in the US for childhood obesity. The university drew immediate flak from doctors and nutritionists, beginning with members of UNC’s own faculty:

Shame on my colleagues for not finding a way to accept funds without providing free advertisement for junk food. What is interesting about this is if we named this the Winston-Salem [cigarette] clinic, it would outrage America and maybe even the same for the Coca-Cola Clinic, but Krispy Kremes are equally horrible for our health — they are high sugar, high fat, refined carbohydrate junk food primed to add to the child obesity problem plaguing North Carolina.

 —Barry Popkin, MD, W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor/Director, UNC Chapel Hill’s Interdisciplinary Center for Obesity

The clinic responded to the criticism by explaining that it isn’t named for the Krispy Kreme Corporation, or even the sugary treat, but that it’s an homage to a non-profit organization that holds an annual foot race raising money for sick children that just happens to have the trademarked name in the race title. The eponymous Krispy Kreme Challenge is a grotesquely ludicrous feat of athleticism that bills itself as a “test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude”—the first to run five miles with a midpoint snack of a dozen donuts is the winner. So they say.

The public health advocates at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are circulating a petition on Change.org calling out the university for its flagrant hypocrisy and conflict of interest and urging UNC not put the Krispy Kreme name on its children’s clinic.
The petition appeals directly to the administrators and faculty leadership of the health facility:

…you undoubtedly see firsthand the impact of poor diet on children’s health on a daily basis. Putting a doughnut brand on a medical institution that serves children undermines your organization’s credibility, parents’ efforts to facilitate healthy eating by their kids, and children’s health.
Food marketing affects children’s food choices, their diets, and health, resulting in long-term health impacts. Kids don’t need encouragement to eat sweets—particularly from their healthcare providers.
Please act now to ensure that the children’s clinic is not sullied by the Krispy Kreme name.

The CSPI petition is just a thousand or so signers shy of its goal. Help put it over the top by adding your name at Change.org.
There’s got to be a better way to honor the generosity and  good work of a North Carolina nonprofit without sending such an inappropriate message to children.


Posted in community, health + diet | Leave a comment

In Meat We Trust. But We Shouldn’t.


photo via Meat America

photo via Meat America


Which is more dangerous—the processed meats that cause cancer or the industry that spins the evidence to get you to eat more of them?

This week the World Health Organization, the public health arm of the United Nations, finally came out and said something that we’ve pretty much known all along: processed meat is really, really bad for you. A daily portion of just 50 grams- that’s a single hot dog or two slices of bacon- increases the risk of colon or rectal cancer by 18 percent.

Processed meats cause cancer. Period.
It’s unequivocal. Salted, preserved, smoked, cured, and  fermented meats can kill you. The WHO isn’t pussyfooting around with talk of possible carcinogens or a link with cancer; they’re saying it outright—processed meats give you cancer. These foods are now officially Class 1 Carcinogens, a classification that includes plutonium, arsenic, asbestos, and tobacco.

The meat industry responded with a shrug. Cancer? That old thing again?
The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), an industry lobby representing members who pack and process 95% of U.S. beef, pork, veal, and lamb products (and most of the turkey too) downplayed the risks in its official response, characterizing the WHO report as “alarmist overreach.” After all, carcinogens are merely “theoretical hazards.” They go on to say that if we want to avoid all carcinogens we’d never drink coffee, sit in the sun, or even breathe the air around us. It’s not like everyone who eats hot dogs will get cancer.

Carcinogens do not cause cancer at all times, under all circumstances. Some may only be carcinogenic if a person is exposed in a certain way (for example, swallowing it as opposed to touching it). Some may only cause cancer in people who have a certain genetic makeup. Some of these agents may lead to cancer after only a very small exposure, while others might require intense exposure over many years….Even if a substance or exposure is known or suspected to cause cancer, this does not necessarily mean that it can or should be avoided….

—NAMI press release, October 26, 2015

Richard Lyng former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture former president of the American Meat Institute charter member of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame

Richard Lyng
former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
and former president of the American Meat Institute lobby
Honored in 2009 as a charter member of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame


The meat industry has a long history of weakening or preventing dietary health initiatives.
Its lobby is a powerful political force, both in the legislative and the regulatory arena. The USDA has an unusually cozy relationship with meat lobbyists because the agency is tasked with both regulating and promoting the industry, and these conflicting interests play out every time the government develops dietary guidelines. This is a sector that, by NAMI estimates, contributes approximately $894 billion to the U.S. economyearning it enormous access and influence on Capitol Hill. When tensions play out with the Department of Agriculture, the results generally wind up favoring the industry.

Over the years, the meat lobby has successfully influenced lawmakers and regulators to contradict scientific evidence, government data, and even their own committee recommendations, impelling them to rewrite major initiatives and amend legislation shaping everything from the food pyramid to the implementation of salmonella testing in our food safety system. A familiar pattern emerges whenever a drop in consumption is recommended: attack the scientific methodology backing the recommendations. NAMI employs that time-tested tactic in its latest defense of processed meat. After chiding us for our silly fear of cancer-causing agents, this latest press release trots out old cancer studies that failed to establish causality, proof that, in the words of researchers at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, “Cancer is a complex disease that even the best and brightest minds don’t fully understand.” NAMI also reminds us that “Numerous published studies show that those who choose a vegan diet are at increased risk of mental decline due to lack of B12, iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis and age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).”

strike-out-billboard-1images billboards pulled out each spring for placement at hot dog hotbeds like MLB ballparks by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Carcinogenicity of processed meat
has been ringing alarm bells for decades with evidence rolling in from studies performed at Harvard’s School of Public Health, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the National Institutes of Health, and dozens more domestic and global research facilities. Researchers have linked processed meats to colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and childhood leukemia, with risks increased by as much as 67 percent. Public health organizations like the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund have proclaimed hot dogs “unfit for human consumption” and would like to see an outright ban, and others have called for graphic warning labels like those for cigarettes.

The problem with processing.
There’s plenty of salt and saturated fat in hot dogs, salami, pastrami, and other processed meat products but it’s the nitrites that’ll kill you. Sodium nitrite is a salty preservative that’s added to develop flavor, keep the meat’s pink color, and inhibit bacterial growth. And the premium and organic meats that are labelled ‘no-added-nitrates’ or ‘naturally cured’? Brands like Applegate and Niman Ranch get around nitrite labeling with a little additive sleight-of-hand plus some arcane labeling loopholes courtesy of the FDA. They pour on the celery juice, which happens to be loaded with naturally occurring nitrate, then they add a naturally-derived bacterial culture that converts the harmless nitrate into harmful nitrite.

Alas, nitrite is nitrite. It makes no difference if it’s added directly or formed later, synthetic or naturally-derived. Take any kind of nitrite, add any kind of meat and heat, and it’s going to form cancer-causing compounds. When the Journal of Food Protection looked at popular hot dog brands, it found that the natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrite that conventional hot dogs contained.

The USDA has been trying to rid the meat industry of nitrites since the 1970’s.
Naturally NAMI (then known as just AMI, the American Meat Institute) has always lobbied strenuously against restrictions or even additional labeling requirements, and trotted out its favorite tactic with the publication of the evidence-denying sodium nitrite Fact Sheet. In it, NAMI dismisses much of the research as “old myths” and the work of vegans and animal rights activists. It refers to sodium nitrite as “an essential public health tool,” and points to a 2005 animal study suggesting therapeutic uses for nitrites in the treatment of heart attacks, sickle cell disease, and leg vascular problems.

Most experts say that the occasional hot dog or BLT isn’t going to kill you. The choice is yours. And if there is honest and accurate labeling, you can make an informed choice. But if the meat lobby has its way, you’ll never get the chance.



Posted in agriculture, food policy, health + diet | Leave a comment

Write an Essay and Win a Food Cart, a Restaurant, a Country Inn

Second prize is a set of steak knives (David Mamet-Glengarry Glen Ross)

Second prize is a set of steak knives (David Mamet-Glengarry Glen Ross)


Last year the owner of the historic Center Lovell Inn in Maine held an essay contest to find the next owner.
Each of more than 7,000 would-be innkeepers sent in a check for $125 and a personal response to the question ‘Why would I like to own and operate a country inn?’ It was a pinch-me-it’s-so-good opportunity for the contestants who were vying for an elegant, 200 year-old mansion with seven guest rooms, 10 staff members, and a bustling bistro doing 100 covers a night in the high season. It also netted the retiring owner—who had acquired the business 22 years earlier through a similar competition—more than $900,000 in entry fees, an amount roughly equal to the  property’s appraised value.

The win an inn story is now the stuff of legend.
A pittance and 200 words made a dream come true for a Brooklyn couple who were running a restaurant in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the feel-good story went on to make national headlines. Since then, dozens of copycat contests have popped up, giving essayists a crack at inns, restaurants, bars, bakeries, food trucks, and even one movie theater. Many of the property owners have sought out Bil Mosca, the former owner of the Center Lovell Inn who thought up the first iteration of the essay contest back in the 90’s and now makes a living as a contest consultant.

The transfer of the Center Lovell Inn was PR gold, but not everyone strikes it rich.
Some of the recent contests, lacking history and a compelling backstory, have found it difficult to reach the critical mass of entrants that’s necessary for the total of the nominal fees to rival a conventional sale. The Maine inn was awarded unencumbered, and the prize included $20,000 in first year operating costs for a smooth transition. In other contests where the entry fees fell short of the owners’ goals, the winners have found themselves responsible for transfer taxes, title fees, and outstanding debts and liens against the property.

Still, if you’ve ever fantasized about running a quaint bed and breakfast or a restaurant in a tropical paradise, the current crop of essay contests are a chance to make it a reality.

The Alsatian-born chef-owner of Der Essen Platz is retiring and his very popular and highly-rated (4.5 stars on Yelp; #1 in its Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri town on Tripadvisor) German-Continental restaurant is running an essay contest. Knowledge of schnitzel, klopses, sauerbrauten, and strudel are helpful, but if you need me to translate the restaurant’s name it’s probably not for you.

You can work the land on the 35 acre Rock Creek Farm in Virginia or make chèvre at the Humble Hearts Goat Farm and Creamery in Alabama. High Meadows Vineyard Inn in Virginia and the Deerfield Valley Inn in Vermont are looking for their new innkeepers in the bed and breakfast category that always seems to have properties up for grabs.

Tropical resort fantasies can be fulfilled by sending $175 and 300 captivating words to the owners of Outback Jack’s Beach Bar N Grillean open-air bar-restaurant in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica. If you prefer your beaches cool and fog-shrouded, northern California’s Mendo Bistro has been a labor of love on Fort Bragg’s Main Street for nearly 20 years. The chef-owner is devoting more time to teaching culinary students at a local college; convince him of your suitability in an essay and he’ll hand over the keys to this popular and profitable establishment.

Win Your Dream Life is the mother of all essay contests.
At stake is the $10 million Inn at Villa Bianca, a fully operational Connecticut hotel, restaurant, events venue, and catering complex. The 14 room inn sits on nine manicured acres complete with a wedding chapel, banquet halls, three ballrooms, a stand-alone Italian restaurant, and a fleet of limousines. It’s a turn-key operation with a move-in ready owner’s residence and $100,000 in cash to keep things running smoothly.


It’s the opportunity that all of you creative writing majors have been waiting for.


Posted in diversions, food business | Leave a comment

How One Tweet Landed Arby’s the Top Spot in Social Media



In 2012 Josh Martin, Arby’s Manager of Social Media asked this question:

presented to The Social Media Alliance of Chattanooga

from a presentation to the Social Media Alliance of Chattanooga


Arby’s was then losing the battle for the coveted millennial customer.
It had recently retired the slogan Give In To Your Grown-Up Tastes whose words proved all too prophetic. Arby’s had truly become the restaurant chain of grown-up tastes. It had lost relevance and even recognition among younger diners and was patronized by the oldest customer base in all of fast food. The company had no social media department until Martin joined in 2010, a mere 40,000 Facebook followers, and zero presence on Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin, and YouTube.

On January 26, 2014 one tweet changed everything.arbys 40731_54_news_hub_35119_656x500Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams showed up at the Grammy Awards wearing an oversized hat that bore a striking resemblance to the Arby’s logo. It was a high profile appearance; Williams was a nominee, a presenter, a performer, and went on to take home awards in two major categories (Best Solo Performance and Best Music Video). Arby’s Martin, who was watching the show, seized the moment tweeting Hey @Pharrell can we have our hat back?  and Williams tweeted back Y’all tryna start a roast beef?
This little exchange was a big deal. Really.

A media sensation was born.
Arby’s extended the dialogue for weeks, offering a winning bid of $44,000 for the hat in a charity auction, and then exhibiting it at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. as an artifact of social media history. They grabbed headlines every step of the way including exclusives with the Washington Post and the Today Show. By the time the hat landed in Washington, the story had appeared in more than 1,400 publications and Arby’s Facebook fanbase had gone from 40,000 to 2.5 million and its Twitter following grew to more than 200,000 from a pre-hat level of fewer than 3,000. At its peak, the story garnered more than 120 million media impressions in a single day.

By the end of 2014 Arby’s was widely hailed as the king of social media.
The Wall Street Journal recognized Arby’s tweets to Pharrell Williams as the second best pop culture moment of the year, lagging only the phenomenon of the celebrity selfie. Variety Magazine said that if Academy Awards were given for marketing then Arby’s would surely take home a statuette, and the Shorty Awards, which kind of are the Oscars for short form promotional content, cited the Grammy tweets as 2014’s Best Real-Time Response and gave top honors to Arby’s social media team as Best in Food & Beverage.

Most importantly, Arby’s social media success has had a positive impact on the brand’s bottom line. The company is on a tear, opening 60 new stores this year and remodeling dozens of older ones. Same-store sales are up more than 8% for the year and some newly introduced menu items are the most successful in the chain’s history. And it’s doing this at a time when the rest of the fast food industry is slowing down as it loses sales and market share to fast-casual brands like Chipotle, Panera, and Five Guys.

Clearly social media is a powerful tool for restaurants and food brands. That’s why when something goes wrong, things can go downhill in a hurry. Read on to see what happens when good tweets go bad.


Posted in fast food, food business, social media | Leave a comment

Trader Joe’s Claims There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Pumpkin


I beg to differ.



Pumpkin Ice Cream…Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s (sandwich cookies)…Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter…Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels…Mini Pumpkin Tea Scones…Pumpkin Spice Coffee (pods)…Pumpkin Spice Coffee (ground)…Pumpkin Waffles (frozen)…Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps…Iced Pumpkin Scone Cookies…Pumpkin Pie (frozen)…Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend…


…Pumpkin Pie (frozen)…Mini Pumpkin Pies (frozen)…Pumpkin Biscotti…Pumpkin Macarons (frozen)…Pumpkin Rolls With Pumpkin Spice Icing (in a tube, bake at home)…Mini Ginger Pumpkin Ice Cream Mouthfuls (pumpkin ice cream ginger cookie sandwiches)…Pumpkin Seed Brittle…Pumpkin Body Butter…Pumpkin Tortilla Chips…Pumpkin Salsa…

via the Coupon Project

via the Coupon Project

Pumpkin Seed Pita Crisps…Greek Style Pumpkin Yogurt…Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce…Assorted Belgian Chocolate Pumpkins…Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Baking Mix  (also available gluten free)…Pumpkin Cornbread Mix…Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix (also available gluten free)….Pumpkin Panettone…Raw Pumpkin Seeds…Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats…


via Serious Eats

…Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds…Organic Pumpkin Purée (canned)…Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli…Pumpkin Bagels…Pumpkin Butter…Pumpkin Spice Cake…Pumpkin-y Pumpkin Bites…Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins…Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream…Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latté Mix…Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea…Pumpkin Croissants (frozen)…


…KBC Pumpkin Ale…Pumpkin Bread Pudding (frozen)…Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread…Pumpkin Cheesecake…Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries…Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal…Pumpkin Bar Baking Mix…Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix…Joe’s Pumpkin O’s (breakfast cereal)…Pumpkin Spice Granola…This Pumpkin Walks Into A Bar… (breakfast bars)…

At least there’s one issue we can all agree on: there’s too much pumpkin at Trader Joe’s!



Trumpkin and more via John Kettman




Posted in funny, Halloween, shopping | Leave a comment

Egg Yolk Color is the Spray-On Tan of the Chicken World



You know the good eggs. They’re all-natural and cage-free, freshly plucked from the nest of a chicken with a protein rich diet free of GMOs, pesticides, and antibiotics. You schlep to the farmers market and pay a pretty penny for them, and when you get them home and crack them open you ooh and ahh over the gorgeous, richly colored yolks.

What puts the sunny in sunny side up?
Yolk color depends on a hen’s diet. The pigments in feed are deposited in the egg yolks so a hen that eats yellow corn will lay eggs with deeper yellow yolks than a hen that eats white corn. Most eaters believe that a darker yolk correlates with a more protein-packed egg, but in fact all it really tells you is what the chicken was eating.

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t benefits to cage-free eggs.
A pasture-raised hen’s diet is denser in nutrients from fresh vegetation and insects, and it lays eggs with higher levels of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants. Since there are more naturally occurring pigments in these foraged foods, free-ranging hens lay eggs that yield deep orange yolks, and while the color isn’t caused by the nutrients, it is indicative of their presence.

Like a dissolute party girl with the healthy glow of a faux suntan, conventional egg producers manipulate yolk colors to dress up the eggs of battery cage chickens.
Artificial colors aren’t permitted, but conventional chicken feed routinely contains the extracts of pigment-imparting additives derived from orange peels, red peppers, annatto seeds, carrots, marigold leaves, and algae. The leading line of poultry pigment comes from DSM– aka the European Monsanto- which touts the precision delivery and unique beadlet technology of its CAROPHYLL® range of carotenoid additives. Egg producers choose their desired shade of egg yolk using an industry standard egg yolk color identifier similar to the paint chip fan decks you find at the hardware store. While the eggs of pastured hens will show seasonal variations as the foraged diet changes throughout the year, conventional egg producers tinker with additive levels to maintain year round consistency. Kind of like wearing bronzer in the dead of winter.

another DSM product

the industry standard egg yolk color fan, another DSM product



Posted in agriculture, food knowledge, health + diet | Leave a comment
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