Tag Archives: shopping

Supermarket Waste: Where Does the Old Food Go?

image via Scary Mommy

The out-of-date yogurt cartons, the dented cans, the misshapen potatoes that shoppers passed over.
There’s a lot of activity behind the scenes and after hours at your local supermarket. Employees strip the shelves of brown bananas, opened boxes, broken jars, and stale muffins. They take the past-peak quality produce and meats to the deli or the salad bar and recycle them into prepared foods. They also remove packaged foods approaching their expiration dates—still perfectly good, but who’s going to buy a 5-pound block of cheese with 3 days left?

The good news is that more food than ever is finding a second life.

Wholesalers and supermarket chains have set up reclamation centers that operate as clearing houses for products considered unsaleable by the stores. The centers are filled with Christmas cookies in January, Valentine’s chocolate in March, and a year-round assortment of products that are nearing their sell-by dates or have packaging that has since been updated by the manufacturer. Much of it is shipped off to dollar stores and discount grocers, two categories that have become important to the food chain in our current economic state. There you’ll find an ever-changing assortment of foods—items discontinued by manufacturers, unfamiliar regional brands, foods labelled for export, and plenty of familiar and even high-end products all offered at highly discounted prices.

Food banks are another outlet for unsaleables, and most supermarket chains and reclamation centers participate in some sort of hunger relief program. The passage of the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act encourages participation by protecting the stores and distributors from criminal or civil liability around issues of food safety. The FDA also enthusiastically supports the practice and has even emphasized that other than baby food and formula, most food expiration dates refer to the point when a product’s taste, texture, color, or nutritional benefits start to deteriorate rather than the point when you need to worry about the product’s safety.

Americans waste a lot of food—more than 40% of  all we produce. According to the The Natural Resources Defense Council if we wasted just 5 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 4 million Americans; 20 percent less waste would feed 25 million. This is indefensible at a time when both food prices and the number of Americans without enough to eat continue to rise.

On his Wasted Food website, Joanathan Bloom has a lot to say about food waste and what we can do about it.

AlterNet grades the food waste handling of Wal-Mart, Safeway, and other top grocery chains.

 

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Prohibited Pleasures

Did you find any contraband in your Christmas stocking?

Between the Department of Agriculture, The Food and Drug Administration, and the  Customs and Treasury departments, there’s a slew of delicacies that have been banned in various locales. But if your gift exchange is shady enough, you might have scored this holiday season.

Absinthe
Contrary to popular belief, absinthe is legal in the United States. The FDA strictly limits the level of thujone, a toxic substance found in wormwood, one of the spirit’s ingredients. Thujone has long been rumored to cause hallucinations in absinthe drinkers, although this has never been confirmed. The legal version is highly alcoholic (up to 74%) and is usually diluted before drinking.

Caviar
Since 2005, caviar connoisseurs have been forced to make do without the eggs of the wild beluga sturgeon. Until the dwindling numbers of this species can be revived, caviar lovers have to satisfy themselves with the roe of salmon, trout, and other more plentiful fish. Strictly speaking, these substitutes are not true caviar.

Sassafras
The dried root bark of the sassafras tree has been used for tea, as a fragrance for soap, a painkiller, an insect repellent, and­ a seasoning and thickener for many Creole soups and stews. It’s best known for contributing the characteristic flavor to root beer, although few can remember the taste of true sassafras root beer. A potential carcinogen, its use has been banned for 50 years.

Foie Gras
Celebrated for its luxurious taste and texture; excoriated for the cruelty of force-feeding geese and ducks to enlarge their livers before slaughter. It’s hard to stay neutral on the subject of foie gras. Chicago banned the retail sale of this delicacy in 2006, imposing fines of up to $500 per violations. Since eating foie gras remained legal, restaurateurs skirted the ban by serving the dish under the guise of other menu items, claiming that they were giving away the livers with the purchase of the other dishes. The ineffectual ban was lifted in 2008. California is gearing up to implement its own foie gras ban this year.

Raw Milk/Raw Milk Cheeses
Raw milk proponents tout the superior flavor and nutrition of milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Government agencies worry that bacteria present in unpasteurized milk poses a health threat. Raw milk can not be legally sold in about two dozen states, and is limited to direct farm sales in a few others. A few enterprising farmers satisfy raw milk demand by selling ‘herd shares’– customers purchase a share in a cow that entitles them to a portion of its milk.

Throughout the US, unpasteurized cheeses can only be legally sold when they have been aged at least 60 days– the period deemed necessary to kill off potentially harmful bacteria in raw dairy products. True cheese connoisseurs feel that we are missing out on the distinct and extraordinary pleasures of young cheeses, such as those found in European countries where the requirement is a 30-day waiting period.

Here are some resources to help you locate and legally transport some of these forbidden foods:

Keep up with the latest legislation with the Food Law Blog.

Think twice before packing that prosciutto– failure to declare food products at border crossings can result in fines as high as $10,000. Consult the US Customs website to learn what you can lawfully transport.

Read The Devil’s Picnic: Around the World in Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit (available through Amazon.com) for a chef’s tour of prohibited pleasures.

 

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A Guide to the Foodie Holiday Gift Guides

image via 7DTV

Holiday gift guides are supposed to make life a little easier at this time of year.
In theory, they are carefully curated, well-targeted selections that keep us from slogging through too many websites to come up with the perfect gift. But with so many gift guides out there, now we find ourselves slogging through them.
That’s why Gigabiting has done the slogging for you, to come up with a carefully curated, well-targeted selection of holiday gift guides for all the food lovers on your list.

Hit the ground running this holiday shopping season.
The Wall Street Journal has A Foodie’s Guide to Cyber Monday 2011.

They like kitchen hacks and the science behind the cooking.
Shop for the innovative cook at Seattle Weekly’s Food Geek Gift Guide: 2011.

Let them show their love with wearable food gifts.
The Huffington Post has 12 T-Shirts and Totes for Food Lovers.

They’re cool and they cook; for them, you can pick up a set of knives reflecting the specialized techniques of 20 ethnic cuisines, or a honey dipper inspired by the geometry of the beehive.
It’s Gifts for Your Foodie Friend from the Cool Hunting Holiday Gift Guide.

The cheeseboard is from reclaimed slate, and the espresso machine is hand-cranked.
It’s the Green Gift Guide for foodies from Treehugger.

Turn soybeans into soymilk and fruit juice into boozy hooch.
There are all kinds of gifts for all kinds of DIYers from Kitchen Daily’s 10 Make-Your-Own Food Kits.

They’re obsessed with swan-necked pour over kettles and debate the virtues of wet-processed beans.
Please the coffee lovers in your life with a selection from Dear Coffee, I Love You’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide 2011.

Have any food bloggers on your list? We need some love at holiday time just like anybody else.
My Kitchen Addiction mixes the professional, the practical, and the personal in the Food Blogger Gift Guide.

Here’s a gift that’s one-size-fits-all:
Give a gift to end hunger from the Feeding America Gift Catalog.
$12 buys a child’s breakfast for 3 months; for $90 you can provide 6 months’ worth of dinners for a family of 4.

 

 

 

 

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Smelling and Selling

Your appetite perks up the minute you walk into the supermarket.
There’s the homey smell of roasting chickens as they take a slow turn around the rotisserie, a faint herbal-citrusy scent rising from neatly stacked pyramids of produce, and of course the fresh-baked aroma of yeasty cinnamon goodness floating through the air of the in-store bakery.
What are you really smelling?

Supermarkets, restaurants, and other retailers are pumping more and more artificial fragrances through their stores. The practice goes by lots of different names–retail atmospherics, neuromarketing, sensory branding, olfactory marketing, scent logos–whatever you want to call it, it’s making you spend more money.

Sure, food smells make you hungry, but there’s more to it than that. Your sense of smell is directly connected to the emotional control center of your brain, where it triggers a response that influences your behavior. When a particular scent taps into the right emotions, you’re more inclined to make a purchase.

This stuff really works.
According to the Scent Marketing Institute, Nike was able to boost its customers’ intent to purchase by 80% when certain scents were added to their store environment. Gas stations can triple their mini-mart coffee sales, nightclubs serve more cocktails, and toy stores can get parents to linger longer with the right scent (it’s orange-seawater-peppermint for nightclubs and piña colada for toy-shopping grown-ups— go figure).

Food is a natural for scent marketing. Most of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. Our taste buds perceive only bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and umami flavors, and we already rely on odor molecules for specific taste sensations. Plus, it’s easy to perfume the air with chocolate or freshly baked bread, and not so simple to devise a suitable smell for sneakers or Legos .

Sensory marketing is nothing new.
A breakthrough in nebulization technology, in which a scented oil is converted into a dry vapor, has made fragranced air more commercially viable, but for years hotels have pumped a little bacon smell into elevator shafts in the morning to boost room service breakfast business, and theme parks have been tempting you to buy popcorn and sweets with scent machines hidden in the landscaping. More recently, Starbucks became so convinced of the power of scent marketing that it nearly abandoned its successful line of hot breakfasts because of the way the smell of heating sandwiches interferes with the coffee aroma.

Reeking of deception
Aggressive scent marketing by a New York supermarket has opened an ethical debate. Brooklyn’s Net Cost market has had great success with five nebulizers that pipe different fragrances through strategic store locations, seeing sales rise by 7% for the corresponding foods. The problem is that the store also disperses cooking smells for items that aren’t prepared on the premises, and for items it doesn’t even carry. Customers have complained that the store is misrepresenting its products, and that they feel misled and manipulated by the scents.

You can get a good overview of retail atmospherics at the website for ScentAir, the scent supplier to Net Cost markets, among its tens of thousands of global installations. ScentAir offers 350 smells by monthly subscription from its fragrance library, although to me, separate entries for funnel cake and waffle cone feels like so much hair splitting.

Last month’s New Scientist looks at the ways in which smells shape our moods, behavior and decisions while barely registering in our conscious lives. Read The unsung sense: How smell rules your life.

From the Gigabiting archives, February, 2011: Food might be the way to a man’s heart, but the smell of food aims a little lower. Read Better than Viagra: Arousal by Food Smells.

 

 

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A Daily Deal Just for You

[image via ToMuse]

It’s the daily deal battle royale.
Groupon’s success has spawned an entire industry of ‘deal-of-the-day’ clones. The good news: outstanding bargains are out there; virtually something for everyone. The bad news: something for everyone is flooding your inbox, from tequila tastings to pole-dancing lessons, when all you really want is a good, discounted pizza. There are so many of these daily deal startups out there, that now we have daily deal sites aimed at them.

Fortunately, there are sites that stand out from the pack. They are targeting narrow, niche markets, and putting their own spin on the social buying business model.

For the boys gone wild
Thrillist, the online newsletter celebrating the bro lifestyle, has launched Thrillist Rewards, heavy on half-price brewery tours, mail-order meats, and all-you-can-eat spare rib deals.

For the other boys gone wild
The Daily Hookup and Daily Pride are the gay man’s answer to Groupon.

For the foodies
Too tasteful for coupons, Savored takes you into the kind of high-end dining rooms where the discount is kept under wraps. It’s prearranged at reservation time, and then automatically, and discreetly, subtracted from the total at meal’s end. I guarantee you will be amazed by the celebrated and coveted tables to be had through these deals, and it’s all so hush-hush that even your dinner companions won’t know your secret.

For African-Americans
The discount deals offered at the Black Biz Hookup come from black-owned and operated businesses.

For moms
You’ll find half-priced treats aplenty for family-friendly fro-yo shops at Plum Distict.

For the Jews
A dozen bagels for the price of six, or maybe a nice brisket sandwich? Between JDeal and yes, Jewpon, you’re sure to find them.

For suburbanites
You get big city dining bargains and you don’t have to pay for downtown parking with the small town BigTip deal site.

For Hispanics and Latinos
Multiple sites are still duking it out for preeminence in this massive target market; Desceuento Libre, Groupacho, and Social Libre. Each offers a different Latin-flavored oferta del dia.

For the Fox News crowd
Glenn Beck launched Markdown, touting its combination of values (of the shopping kind) and values (conservative ones).

The pizza and beer pong set has CampusDibs, there are Gluten Free Deals for celiac sufferers, and Vegan Cuts is the place to save money and animals. Don’t feel left out if your tribe isn’t represented here; new niche sites pop up regularly.

To help you sort through the deals:
Yipit aggregates all the deals from all the services, and then sends a single, consolidated email customized to fit your preferences. Take a look at the more than 200 deal sites they are currently tracking.
Restaurant critic meets price tracker at The Bad Deal. Check here before you buy.
You have unused, prepaid Groupon and other coupons, and the expiration date is approaching. Impulse purchases can happen to the best of us. Fortunately, there is a robust secondary market for deal coupons at Lasta.

 

 

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How Much? How Many?

A little culinary quantum physics to answer some of life’s vexing questions.

So much in life is uncertain, unknowable, and uncontrollable. Sometimes we can use a few answers. Maybe these aren’t the kinds of questions that keep us up at night, but there is still something comforting about round numbers.

 

A keg contains 15½ gallons, or the equivalent of 6.8 cases of beer. That’s 124 red party cups filled to the brim. [KegBooty]

 

 

 

There are 37 scoops in a gallon of ice cream.  [WikiAnswers]

 

 

 

Within their PVC-wrapped tubes, Smarties come in a combination of white, yellow, pink, orange, purple, and green. Each color’s flavor really is slightly different. They are packaged as a roll of 15. [Wikipedia]

 

Plain or peanut?
A 1 lb bag of peanut M&M’s contains approximately 190 candies; you get 405 M&M’s in a bag of plain.   [ChaCha]

 

 

Figure on 7,200 grains in a cup of rice.  [WikiAnswers]

 

 

 

It takes 1½ potatoes to make the Big Grab single serving size of chips. How many chips is that? Let’s just say not enough. [Askville]

 

 

If you squeezed every last drop of ketchup out of little foil packets, it would take 41 of them to fill a standard ketchup bottle; realistically, you’ll never wring out every last drop or hit the narrow bottle opening every time, so count on 50 packets. Of course, realistically, who’s going to attempt this?  [CalorieCount]

 

A box of Cornflakes contains a mere 981 flakes, [WikiAnswers] while the same size box of Cheerios holds almost 5,000 of the little o’s. More importantly, it’s easily enough to make Cheerio necklaces for 50 small children.  [WebAnswers]

 

 

 

And the proverbial two scoops of raisins in Raisin Bran? It begs the obvious question Just how big is said scoop? You have to wonder, is it the same scoop, independent of box size, or does the scoop get larger when the box size increases?

The raisin counts prove to be an average of 221 in the 15 oz. package,  337 raisins in the 20. oz. box, and a stingy double scoop of 321 in the 25.5 oz. size. The scoop-to-box-ratio increases proportionately until you get to the big box, which is strictly for bran flake enthusiasts. [Science Creative Quarterly]

 

Next time you go grocery shopping, remember that volume estimates are subject to all sorts of perceptual illusions—a fact that marketers never forget. Tall and narrow appears to hold more than short and wide, and tuna cans aren’t flattering to anything but tuna.

 

 

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Checkout Line Hypotheses: how to choose the fastest lane at the supermarket

grocery-store

It started with a math problem.
Dan Meyer, a Santa Cruz, California high school geometry teacher posted the photo, below, in his blog.

NUMBERS REPRESENT ITEMS IN EACH GROCERY BASKET
He put out the call to all of his friends (an equally math-loving cohort, it would seem): which lane would you choose?
It prompted endless discussion of variables and constraints, scalable models and linear regression (omga non-zero y-intercept).
The short answer: skip the Express Lane. More individual customers is slower than more individual items.
The real answer is that some problems resist logical solutions. There is no “all other things being equal” when dealing with human behavior.
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There are still plenty of mathematics involved. Each item in a customer’s basket adds an average of 2.8 seconds to the checkout time. But each customer adds about 48 seconds before accounting for scanning a single item (How are you today? Do you have your Club Card with you? Will you be needing help to your car?….). That adds up to an extra 17 items that can be rung up before you would choose the line with an extra person.
There are a few hard and fast rules to help speed you on your way.
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  • Check is slower than credit. Both are slower than cash. And look out for the lady with a fistful of coupons.
  • Lucky 13– the lines are almost always shorter if there is a Lane 13. Lots of superstitious people out there.
  • Watch the faffing, the waiting systems industry term to describe the stretch of time when the customer organizes their belongings after checkout has concluded. Faffing can drag on.
  • Prepare to wait in Washington D.C. With an average waiting time of 8:23, the supermarket lines are the slowest in the nation. (see map below)

And the surest way to stay out of the slow line? Steer clear if you see me in the market. I have an uncanny knack for picking the slowest.
[ Average wait times in grocery-store lines, in minutes]

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Walmart Makes You Fat

 

While we were were off blaming McDonald’s for the obesity epidemic, Walmart snuck in there.
A newly published study in the Journal of Urban Economics tracked extensive health and population data between 1996 and 2005, a period in which 1,569 Walmart supercenters, with their in-store supermarkets, opened across the U.S. The researchers found that one new Walmart supercenter per 100,000 residents boosted the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points—2,300 people from the store’s vicinity who weren’t obese ended up in that category after a superstore opened.

Instead of a single, causal link between Walmart stores and weight gain, it’s theorized that there is a whole range of factors.
First up is the most obvious—Walmart lowers the price of food, allowing customers to buy more. Walmart is notorious for the penny-pinching way it squeezes suppliers, and it’s estimated that a region’s food prices drop by between 8 and 27 per cent across the board when a supercenter moves in. The biggest impact is felt in the pricing of processed foods from large-scale manufacturers, where Walmart tends to have its firmest price advantage. Competitors cut their prices in response to a new Walmart, so area residents can end up paying less for their food without even setting foot in the supercenter.

Inevitably, some smaller markets will fail: a 2003 Wall Street Journal article showed that 25 out of 29 supermarket bankruptcies in the previous decade had been caused by the arrival of a Walmart. When the smaller mom-and-pops disappear, neighborhoods become less walkable. Locals are walking less and spending more time in front of screens—a study of Walmart’s product offerings showed that the availability of discounted video games and DVDs has an influence over leisure activities. And since they now have to pile into a car and drive a greater distance, Walmart supercenter shoppers tend to buy groceries less frequently. Shelf-stable processed foods become the practical choice over fresh but highly perishable meat and dairy, fruits and vegetables.

Baby steps in the right direction
We’re not ready to sing the praises of a a big box, marketplace brute, but to Walmart’s credit, the company has announced a five-year plan to improve the nutritional values of its store brands, cut prices for whole foods and vegetables, and open stores in low-income areas that are currently  food deserts with little access to supermarkets.

Walmart is the country’s largest food seller, visited each week by nearly one-third of the U.S. population. It’s capable of spurring dramatic changes by harnessing its marketplace muscle in service of an agenda. In the past the company has chosen to apply its bounteous brute force to grinding suppliers into the dust, crushing the dreams of independent proprietors, and propagating exploitative, discriminatory, union-busting employment practices. Let’s see what happens when the retail giant sets out to do some good.

 

 

 

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Better than a Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pet

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For the DIYers on your list
Sprouts on a terra cotta doggie just won’t cut it.

Not these days when people are out there canning home-grown tomatoes and curing their own hams.

A good do-it-yourself project taps into creativity, fosters a sense of engagement with the process, and leads to a real accomplishment.
You’re going to have to do a lot better than a Chia Pet; like with one of these do-it-yourself gift sets: [...]

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The Incredible Shrinking Groceries

image via Jen Sorensen/Slowpoke Comics

Coming soon to a supermarket near you…

Two Musketeers candy bars, Demitasse-a-Soup, Product 18 cereal.
It’s not your imagination; your groceries really are shrinking. Just not the prices.

Hellmans’s mayonnaise, Skippy peanut butter, and Tropicana orange juice are among hundreds of national brands that have shrunk their packaging in recent months. An 8 oz. Dannon yogurt now weighs in at 6, while the 6 oz. Yoplait dropped to 4. Kellogg slimmed cereal boxes by an average of 2.4 oz., and Wrigley’s 17-stick PlenTPak is not so plenTiful at 15. Mission prefers to play a shell game with its tortillas, dropping 2 from the 10-pack, then adding 2 to the 8-pack and calling it a ‘bonus;’ kind of like the ‘extra’ hour we get for daylight savings time. [...]

Posted in food business | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Food Courts Go Upscale

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From this…..

…..to this

[...]

Posted in fast food, food trends | Tagged , | 4 Comments

We’re Like Rats in a Maze

image via Futurity.com


What’s dangling from your keyring?

Buy ten coffees and get one free.
Or pints of frozen yogurt, bakery muffins, or home-delivered pizza.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve got 14 loyalty cards and tags clipped to your keys or stuffed in your wallet, although just around half of them are ever used. [...]

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No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food

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My This for Your That

You used to do it as a kid. You had an innate sense of the relative value of Twinkies and would broker a lunchroom exchange.

In recent years, barter has been making a comeback. This ancient form of trade is alive and well in e-commerce. Combining the DIY ethic with social networks, online barter exchanges are flourishing in the current, shaky economy. [...]

Posted in food trends, shopping | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Secret Life of Groceries

image via AppAdvice

Your Cheerios belong to a social network.

So do your Nestle chocolate chips, your Organic Valley Lowfat Sour Cream, and the box of Ronzoni linguine on your pantry shelf.

If you think about it, your groceries have always had a story to tell. The manufacturer provides a list of ingredients, nutritional content, what the package contents look like, where it was made, maybe a recipe or two if there is room on the box.

But what if that story wasn’t limited to the packaging? And the narration came from users? And the story could be told through images, video, tweets, and web links? [...]

Posted in cyberculture | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Underground Food Markets: The New Speakeasies

Pssst… wanna buy some contraband pickles?

First came the informal but still legitimate businesses like food trucks, pop-up restaurants, and CSAs. Now we have the appearance of their unlicensed brethren: the home bakers, canners, pasta makers, meat curers, and foragers that make up an underground food scene that’s gaining steam in cities around the world.

Mmm… that’s so good, I bet you could sell it.

It used to be a compliment. Now it’s a business plan.

Take the growing DIY movement. Throw in a high unemployment rate, some entrepreneurial spirit, the promotional capabilities of social media, and a dash of hipster hype. You end up with something like Anarchy in a Jar (jam maker), Brazelton Price (demi-glace), Bundt (cake baker), and Charcuterie Underground (bacon and sausage). [...]

Posted in food policy | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Which Fish is Which? A Seafood Primer.

crus·ta·cean

n / adj crustacean [kr-stshn]

any of a group of animals whose bodies are covered with a hard shell.

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mol·lusk / mol·lusc

n mollusk or mollus [mlsk]

invertebrate having a soft unsegmented body usually enclosed in a shell.
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Just call it shellfish.

Shellfish is the broad term for all aquatic animals, both marine and freshwater, with some kind of shell; it encompasses the categories of crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans include crab, shrimp, and lobster. Mollusks can be univalves like snails and abalone, bivalves like clams and mussels, or cephalopods like squid and octopus. [...]

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The Rumors of their Death have been Greatly Exaggerated

 image courtesy of EAT ME DAILY 

Cookbooks have not just survived the online onslaught, they have thrived.

The recession gave cookbook sales a boost by taking us out of restaurants and putting us back in our home kitchens. We had the manic sales of any title penned by Julie or Julia. And then there were the chart-topping holiday sales of both Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.

Reading on the internet is a skip through cyberspace. We compose our own narratives as we wend our way through Googled results. Those of us who read traditional cookbooks find it unsatisfying because we know that, like a novel, a cookbook has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The author’s voice is in our heads even when there is little prose strung between the recipes. [...]

Posted in cooking, recipes, shopping | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Food Fraud: Is that olive oil really from Italy?

Walk down a midtown Manhattan street and you’ll see a folding table piled high with knockoff Prada handbags, Rolex watches, and Louis Vuitton wallets for a fraction of their retail prices.

Shoppers are well-acquainted with the fake designer goods racket. They know they are buying counterfeits, choosing to be complicit in a crime in pursuit of a bargain.

But what about the shadow economy for counterfeit food products? [...]

Posted in food business, food policy, food safety | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Veal on the Menu: no lectures please!

Cartoon

Is your food politically correct?

Overfished species, inhumanely treated farm animals— menus are minefields of ethically suspect foods. In the past few weeks, a Hollywood hangout abruptly closed down after being exposed for serving whale sushi, and the U.N. voted to keep the near-extinct bluefin tuna on dinner plates.

Amoral bon vivant or epicurean standard-bearer?

For many of us, vegetarianism is not an option. What’s an omnivore to do? Here’s the story behind the controversies surrounding the meat we eat. [...]

Posted in food policy, Health, vegetarian | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Chicken Soup Tribute to J.D. Salinger

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Today’s post was was going to be about chicken soup.

I had it all planned. I was going to show you a graph from the Centers for Disease Control illustrating the way the flu season peaks in the month of February. I had collected entertaining anecdotes about Jewish penicillin and a charming photograph of someone’s grandmother ladling it up from a steaming soup kettle. I had the results from a University of Nebraska Medical Center study documenting chicken soup’s ability to reduce neutrophils cells, which trigger the inflammatory responses that make cold sufferers feel so rotten.

Then  J.D. Salinger died. [...]

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