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In which Food52's news editors, Shelly and Fran (not pictured), weigh in on the week's top food news.


• Winner: Risk takers • Loser: Anyone who doesn't think food should be fatal

For those among us who might like to live -- and eat -- on the edge, this was a good week. For those who don't want a tasty meal to end in disastrous illness, not so much. A listeria outbreak in 18 states has qualified as the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade. Traced to cantaloupe from a Colorado company (which had issued a recall earlier this month), the illness has sickened more than 72 people and killed at least 16, with those numbers expected to rise. You may not want to trade your fruit course for a salad just now, though. By the end of the week, listeria fears had prompted a California company to recall romaine lettuce. At a time when the government's food-safety funds are under fire, and at least one presidential hopeful is calling food regulation 'overkill' (have some cantaloupe, Michele Bachmann?), eating seems oddly akin to playing Russian Roulette.


• Loser: Hungry kids everywhere

With the news that we may be hardwired to crave sugar and food manufacturers doing their level best to work that craving, we have to wonder if any of us ever stood a chance at healthy eating. Kids, certainly, seem to be at disadvantage. While school administrations across the country debate the (de)merits of chocolate milk and potatoes in school lunches, many in this country struggle simply to keep their kids fed. On the upside, readers of Mark Bittman can sleep (and eat) better after reading his economic comparison of fast/junk food and homecooked meals (sorry, McD's, no slam dunk for you). And at least one mom assures us that even a kid (like her) who recoil at the sight of green foods can grow into a well-rounded food lover (like her). We know at least one other mom just like that. Gulp.


• Hung Jury: U.C. Berkeley's 'Racist' Bake Sale

When the Cal student group College Republicans decided to protest California's pending Affirmative Action bill with a tongue-in-cheek (and cupcake-in-mouth) Increase Diversity Bake Sale, they touched off more than a spirited debate. The group posted a tiered pricing structure on Facebook based on a buyer's race, gender, ethnicity and other factors. 'If you don't come, you're a racist,' the post ended (satirically, according to a subsequent post). While some Cal students supported the bakers' freedom of expression, others called the stunt hateful, among other things. Despite the name calling and threats, College Republicans held their bake sale and sold out of cupcakes (although not cookies, go figure).


• Winner: Weatherbeaten farmers (down but not out) • Loser: Peanut lovers

Proving once again that farmers are the salt of the earth, many of those who saw their livelihoods disappear in the swirling floodwaters of Tropical Storm Irene have bounced back with, if not gusto, then a huge helping of creative energy. One tomato farmer in upstate New York has used turned his egg-laying hens into pooping bingo markers. After all, lost tomatoes can't pay the bills, but chicken-scat bingo just might make a dent. Sadly, all the creativity in the world may not be enough to save consumers from shelling out more for our pb & j's. A severe peanut shortage has farmers scrambling and peanut-butter makers facing hefty price hikes. And that's not good news for anyone. Except maybe almond growers?


• Loser: Anyone who wasted an hour watching 'The Chew'

Enough said. Although, we do appreciate Ruth Bourdain's constructive criticism.


💬 View Comments ()

Comments (7)


almost 4 years ago bugbitten

I just think it's astounding how you had a camera right there to capture PB's asking for J's wire in marriage. Well done and delicious!


almost 4 years ago SKK

I find Susan G's request about more links explaining listeria and Charlotte R's comments on the nature of Food52's community quite interesting. In my view your responses missed an opportunity to build partnership with your readers while discovering what this particular readership base wants and needs.

Your mission to appeal to 'as many readers as possible...and choose a handful of stories that dominate online and print media throughout the week' leaves me with the question: If the stories are dominating the online and print media, why read it again on Friday?

Your audience is Food52 Community, with specific knowledge, interests inside a context of generosity. The context of winners and losers shuts down dialogue, learning, respect and the conversations are held inside us/them.

Dwight D. Eisenhower says it best: 'This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.'


almost 4 years ago susan g

How about more use of links for more background, like explaining listeria?


almost 4 years ago FranB

As noted below, we thought TIME's coverage of the listeria outbreak and its possible causes was quite informative.


almost 4 years ago CharlotteR

I really like this website and the people who write and contribute to it. It is a pleasure to come here a few times a week. The pleasure is diminished when I encounter yet another batch of knowing but superficial political sniping.

I would be interested in what listeria is, the factors that enable it to grow and be transmitted, and the steps that the food industry uses to prevent it and maybe even how government action could have prevented this outbreak. But absent any facts, I am not going to conclude Michelle Bachman is a dummy because she doubts the efficacy of some federal food regulations(I am making an assumption here she did not call for the abolition of all food regulation). There is really not much fact here for me to chew on and what is here leaves me feeling negative. I don't look for this in a food blog.

Likewise, is the use of a bake sale to make a comment about affirmative action really new or interesting to your readers? Are you trying to say affirmative action is 100% good and effective? There are obviously pluses and minuses associated with the rationing of privilege and resources according to racial or cultural factors and thoughful people admit this. The college students (they are just college students!) are raising a point about some of the negative aspects. It's an old story and the relationship to 'food news' is very tenuous

I thought the Bittman article was excellent and am very glad you called attention to it. And of course the chicken poop bingo was of great interest to me. It is inspiring to hear about fun and creative responses to bad situations.

Shelly and Fran, thank you for your efforts. I hope you take my comments in the spirit offered. We are surrounded by negativity and hatefulness. Every aspect of our lives seems to be politicized. We need to rise above this and engage more constructively and respectfully. Your readers share a strong interest in food and food preparation. They are very talented and knowledgeable and have demonstrated a desire to share their knowledge and passion. Please don't look for issues that divide them by politics - there are plenty of outlets for that approach already and it spoils this one at least for me.


almost 4 years ago FranB

We thought the links we included on this week's listeria outbreak and recall (specifically to the government's formal recall statement and TIME's coverage of the outbreak and its possible causes) were well written and quite informative.

Similarly, the Berkeley cupcake sale and controversy was one of the most widely read and covered food-news stories this week (dozens of news outlets, both national and international, followed the issue), and we have to respectfully disagree with your feelings that it's not news.

We hardly expect to offer or cover only news that interests every reader at all times. Instead, we hope to appeal to as many readers as possible. To that end, every Friday we choose a handful of stories that dominate online and print media throughout the week.

We hope you'll join us for future 'Food Courts' and find some links that interest you, even if now and then some do not.


almost 4 years ago julia.maddox

I went to Wednesday's live taping of The Chew. I really enjoyed it. My friend got to be one of the tasters on the front row. I do think they could do with one less person in the cast. They could lose Daphne and I wouldn't miss her.