Tag Archives: Obama

Drinking Liberally: This Ain’t No Tea Party

Are you wearying of the Republican primary marathon?
Sure, it was amusing at first watching the Perry and McCain gaffe machines, but lately all the fun has gone out of it. The incessant finger pointing and negative advertising is enough to try the patience of even the most committed political junkie.

This would be a fine time to connect with your local chapter of Drinking Liberally.
Drinking Liberally is an informal, nonpartisan social gathering where left-leaning individuals can go to share a drink and a little political chit chat.

There are currently 227 Drinking Liberally chapters in 47 states plus a few overseas chapters for expats. Each meets at a regular bar or pub and at a regular time each week or month. Drinkers aren’t necessarily policy wonks, or even members of the Democratic Party, and progressive political discourse tends to be just a starting point for a night out with like-minded friends and strangers.

Think about the last Republican debate.
You probably sat at home with your head ready to explode from the especially inflammatory and preposterous candidate statements. Instead, you could have gone to a Drinking Liberally debate-viewing party where everyone is welcome to vent their outrage among friends, boo at the screen with every mention of Obamacare or debt ceiling, and empty their glass when Ron Paul talks about the Federal Reserve.
Drinking Liberally makes activism fun.

Promote democracy one pint at a time.
Find a Drinking Liberally gathering near you.

Drinking Liberally is a project of Living Liberally, an organization that builds progressive communities through social networks and events. You can also engage through the political comedy fans of Laughing Liberally, attend a film with Screening Liberally, have a good meal and conversation with Eating Liberally, and discover progressive authors with Reading Liberally.
Conservatives don’t have nearly this much fun.

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Celebrity Beer

You know you’ve made it when food is named for you.

Consummate New Yorker Woody Allen has his own sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. Carmelo Anthony got one when he joined the Knicks this year. Jerry Garcia, Stephen Colbert, and Elton John all have Ben & Jerry’s flavors. But there’s nothing quite like your own beer.

Belgian monks, Catholic saints, and Irish folk heroes have long inspired beer names, but the first celebrity-named brew of the modern era would be Billy Beer, named for Billy Carter—the endearingly buffoonish, hard-drinking, Southern-fried gas station owner whose big brother Jimmy had just been elected president. After a brief, faddish existence, the distinctively tacky cans enjoyed a second life in the collectibles market—a kind of boozy Beanie Babies of the early ’80s.

There will never be another Billy Carter, but brewers are always on the look-out for celebrities that can gain them a bit of traction for their brands. Here are some of the celebrity beers that are vying to be future collectibles:

Kiss Me, Kate
As if marrying royalty isn’t already enough, Kate Middleton now has a beer. The head brewer says that his addition to the royal wedding souvenir bonanza is “elegant, tasteful and British to the core.”

Git-R-Done Beer
Evidently, there is a reality TV show on the History Channel called Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. Evidently, it has a beer.

Kid Rock’s Badass Beer
With his affinity for wife-beater undershirts and reputation for sweat-drenched, stringy-haired performances, the rocker’s image doesn’t make us all that thirsty. But he has brought brewery jobs back to his home state of Michigan.

State House Brews
Kansas has one—Sam Brownback Wheat Beer. So does Colorado—Hickenlooper’s Inaugurale. The governors of the other 48 states will have to be satisfied with Gubna.


No one draws the brew masters like Barack Obama.
In 2004, early in his political career, a brewery in his father’s native Kenya released The Senator. We were drinking Hop Obama Ale on Election Day 2010, and by the time the inauguration rolled around we had The Audacity of Hops, Presidential Porter, and Ommegang Brewery’s Obamagang Belgian Brown Ale. The president went on to top them all, making White House culinary history in the process, when he and First Lady Michelle Obama served the first White House home brew, White House Honey Ale, made with a pound of honey from the White House beehive.




Posted in beer + wine + spirits, Entertainment | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Fat Tax is Coming!

image via the Army of Epiphenomenon

How would you like to trim the deficit, healthcare costs, and your waistline in one fell swoop?
That’s what a fat tax can do. it’s been embraced by much of Europe, and the idea is gaining traction in Washington.

Hungary’s so-called ‘hamburger tax’ goes into effect next month, just a few weeks ahead of Denmark’s ‘saturated fat’ tariff, targeting pork, cheese, and butter. Finland is looking to add a fat tax to those it already levies on salt and sugar-laced foods. Germany, Romania, and Spain all have similar legislation moving through government channels.

Instead of taxing fatty foods, Japan taxes body fat. The Ministry of Health requires businesses to administer obesity checks for all employees and their family members ages 40 to 74. The legislated upper limit for the waistline is a strict 33½ in. for men, and 35½ in. for women, beyond which a tax is levied (by comparison, the average waistline in America is 39 in. for men and 37 in. for women).

We actually have some fat tax history in this country. In the months following the 1942 Pearl Harbor attack, a handful of states taxed obese citizens–per excess pound–to encourage them to eat less and preserve food resources for the war effort. The fat tax was revived in the 1990’s when a proposal was floated to tax certain foods and put the proceeds toward nutrition literacy programs. The concept was debated publicly when it was ranked #7 on U.S. News and World Report’s  list of 16 Smart Ideas to Fix the World, and the debate grew louder when Rush Limbaugh spearheaded the opposition.

The fat tax debate has stayed with us.
Current supporters include the World Health Organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, food writers Mark Bittman (with the New York Times as his soapbox) and Michael Pollan (who contends that the insurance industry is ready to get on board), and President Obama, who supports a tax on soda and other sugary foods.

Congress, though, has shown little enthusiasm for a federal fat tax, although most states are already getting their cut in the form of taxes on junk food and soda. The public, too, consistently shows low approval ratings for the taxes in polls. Critics point to its regressive nature, with the burden falling on lower income Americans who are the biggest consumers of junk food and already spend disproportionately on food, relative to their  incomes. And of course the notion of the food police is troubling in terms of both privacy issues and the broader concept of the role of government.

There are few privacies more worthy of protection than what we choose to eat and drink. While these are personal decisions they’re not private ones; not when our healthcare system spends nearly $150 billion dollars annually to treat obesity, nearly as much to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more goes toward the treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancers that are linked to diet.

How do you weigh individual freedoms and social responsibilities?



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Where’s the Edible Emblem for Gay Pride Week?

It’s Gay Pride Week, so where are the special holiday delicacies?
This is a celebration in need of a dish– an edible emblem, a culinary signature.

The dish needs to be festive, sure, but it also should bind together the generations in their observance. It should feel as if the spirit of those that came before are hovering over the holiday table. And if it uses a chiffonade, all the better.

All the great holidays have one.
Thanksgiving has its turkey and St. Patrick’s Day has corned beef and cabbage. Even Passover, a Jewish salute to deprivation mind you, has its matzoh ball soup. How can it be that Gay Pride Week doesn’t have a signature food?

From little boys with Easy Bake Ovens to a love of brunch (carbs! sunglasses indoors!), food culture runs deep in the LGBT community. The reverse is true as well; the community has always been well-represented in the kitchen, filling the gap between mom-cooks and the meat-slapping alpha males at the grill.

There is a contingent backing the cupcake; it’s a tad trendy and obvious, but it does make a certain amount of sense. Cupcakes have buttercream and sprinkles going for them, and cupcakes became a rallying cry for the gay rights struggle when an Indianapolis bakery refused to make rainbow cupcakes for a customer’s National Coming Out Day celebration.

Personally, I would like to see something a little weightier with cultural and historical significance; something that hasn’t been co-opted and over-exposed by the mainstream. Plus, cupcakes are already the domain of third grade classroom birthday celebrations—Gay Pride Week shouldn’t have to share.

There isn’t a definitive dish of Gay Pride Week, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate.

We are fabulous–therefore we eat out! is the motto of Gay Eats, nationwide listings of gay-owned, gay-friendly, and gay-popular dining, with shout-outs to hunky waiters.

The Daily Hookup, a gay-oriented answer to Groupon,, is a deal site with a carefully curated lineup of bars and restaurants.

Be there for the grand opening this month of The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (the widely anticipated spinoff of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck) for treats like the Bea Arthur and the Salty Pimp.

Obama Foodorama lets you follow the food adventures of First Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, the openly gay, Executive Pastry Chef known around the White House as ‘the Crustmaster’.

In honor of Gay Pride Week, Fork in the Road, the food blog of the Village Voice, is temporarily transformed into the Big Gay Food Blog.



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Potluck Politics

[image via Column Five Media]

Check those voter registration cards at the door.
You don’t want to serve gnocchi if there are Republicans on the guest list—linguine and spaghetti are the preferred pasta shapes of Conservatives, but a nice lasagne crosses party lines.

So says Hunch, the collective intelligence, decision-making website co-founded by the people who brought us Flickr. Hunch is building a ‘taste graph’ for the internet, using profile-building methodology to map group and individual affinities. Sifting through 25 million responses, its algorithm reveals distinct eating patterns and preferences that correlate with political ideologies.

We split along party lines on more than congressional budgets and healthcare.
Liberals like their pizza with a thin crust while Conservatives lean toward deep dish. Liberals like to toast things for breakfast, are crazy for seafood, and are 57%  more likely to drink wine with dinner at home. Conservatives skip breakfast more often, like to fire up the grill for dinner, and are 57% more inclined to avoid tap water. But everyone agrees: soft tacos are best.

Remember the defining moment in the 2008 election? In the still wide field of Democratic presidential candidates, the junior senator from Illinois strode into a Rural Issues Forum on a farm outside of Des Moines, Iowa and asked this question:
Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?
That’s when we knew that Barack Obama was a foodie like us.

It turns out that Democrats do like arugula. And Thai food. And bacon cheeseburgers. See the full political spectrum: You Vote What You Eat: How Liberals and Conservatives Eat Differently, at the Hunch blog.

Where politics are never taboo at the dinner table:
The same folks who brought us Drinking Liberally have added Eating Liberally to their social network of like-minded, left-leaning individuals. Hundreds of local chapters (in 47 states, plus DC and abroad) organize monthly gatherings that facilitate political engagement and democratic discourse over food and drink.

Stymied by the name?
Conservatives have been less successful in their efforts to get a similar network off the ground. Drinking Conservatively just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Keep checking for new developments from Red County, the folks who attempted to launch both Drinking Conservatively and Right on the Rocks.


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Coca-Cola Turns 125

Enduring American symbol.
Triumph of manufacturing, sanitation, and distribution.
Drunk by Presidents from Grover Cleveland to Barack Obama.
Inspiration for pop culture references, science experiments, and urban legends.
Ensconced in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, and countless millennial time capsules.
The world’s number 1 brand.
Happy Birthday, Coca-Cola!

Without a Coca-Cola life is unthinkable.

Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life’s most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it.

Lewis Grizzard, columnist, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If it moves sponsor it, if it doesn’t paint it red.

advertising mantra, The Coca-Cola Company



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Government Shutdown: Who eats? Who goes hungry?

Rep. Todd Akin (R, Missouri) via Irregular Times

The ongoing standoff over the federal budget is now hours away from its deadline. If a spending plan isn’t passed by the end of the day, money will stop flowing from federal coffers and the government will start to shut down.

What about our food?
The government runs food assistance programs, feeds military personnel, and oversees security of the food supply. Beginning Saturday, what can we expect?

Food Assistance
Food stamps and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs are administered by states. They get periodic funding in a lump sum from the federal government, and are fully funded for a month or so.

Food Safety
FDA inspections of food processing facilities will be prioritized by risk. Visits to high-risk processors with a history of safety concerns will take place, but routine plant inspections will be given a low priority. Meat, poultry, and egg inspections will continue in the short-term, and food products coming from Japan will continue to be monitored for radiation. In the event of a food borne illness outbreak, the FDA will be able to call furloughed staff back to work.

Mess halls will be open; commissaries will be closed.

Zoo Animals
Most of the federal employees at the National Zoo will be furloughed. The zoo, like all of the Smithsonian collection of museums, will be closed, but all of the keepers, curators, veterinarians, and nutritionists who minister to the needs of animals will remain at work.

Federal Prisoners
3 hots and a cot—it will be business as usual in the nation’s prisons.

You might have to scotch your summer travel plans. Expect a backlog of passports to be processed.

There is one bright spot: with all those furloughed IRS workers, it will be the first shutdown to disrupt the tax season.


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Obama’s Food Policy: Not as we had hoped.

image via Devil's Haven


Those were heady days, back in ’08, when we ushered in our 44th President.
He  knew what arugula was and ate at really good Chicago restaurants. His family avoided high-fructose corn syrup and bought organics.
Could our new President be one of us? […]

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Grow Your Own White House Garden


You can’t get any more local than your own kitchen garden.

Already popular with anyone with a hankering for freshness, superior taste, good health and nutrition, and saving money— which pretty much includes everyone— interest in kitchen gardens really took off when Michelle Obama oversaw the planting of the first White House vegetables since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. Even Queen Elizabeth II succumbed to the ‘Michelle factor’ ordering a yard bed for Buckingham Palace. […]

Posted in sustainability | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Butter Carving Comes to Hollywood

Barack Obama rendered in butter courtesy of Norma "Duffy" Lyon

Jennifer Garner has a taste for Butter.

Garner is producing and starring in a film of that name set in the cut-throat world of competitive butter carving.

Butter tells the story of a young, African-American orphan who is adopted by a white, midwestern family. She is discovered to have an uncanny talent for butter carving, a much-revered skill in America’s agricultural heartland. When the girl enters the butter carving contest at the Iowa State Fair she is pitted against Garner’s character, the ultra-competitive, limelight-seeking wife of the sport’s reigning champion. Garner’s husband is forced to step down after fifteen consecutive blue ribbon wins, and she is expected to step into his shoes. […]

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C is for Cafeteria: A look at school lunches


Inside the school cafeteria

It’s just like you remember: loud and chaotic, lunch ladies in hairnets, pizza Fridays. The lines are long, the meat is still a mystery, and most of what’s brought from home gets tossed.

Less familiar are the trading bans and peanut-free zones to accommodate allergies, the absence of any actual cooking, and the runaway rates of childhood obesity and diabetes.

The National School Lunch Program provides commodities and subsidies to public and private schools that offer free or reduced-price meals. This year’s subsidy was $2.68 for each free lunch down to 25¢ for full-priced lunches. At that rate, most districts can afford food costs of about 90¢ for each lunch served. […]

Posted in food policy, food safety, kids | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Do You Eat Like a Conservative or a Liberal?


Remember the defining moment in the 2008 election? In the still wide field of Democratic presidential candidates, the senator from Illinois strode into a Rural Issues Forum on a farm outside of Des Moines, Iowa and asked this question:
Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?
That’s when we knew that Barack Obama was a foodie like us.

It turns out that Democrats do like arugula. And Thai food. And brie. […]

Posted in food trends, social media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Hope you had a nice time in Pittsburgh. Don’t forget your goodie bags!


Word is that the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are eating very well in Pittsburgh. In keeping with the Obamas’ focus on local food economies and best practices in agriculture, the main G20 venues practice completely sustainable, local, and primarily organic food sourcing. […]

Posted in food policy, sustainability | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment
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