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Food Court

By • October 21, 2011 • 12 Comments

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In which Food52's news editors, Shelly and Fran, weigh in on the week's top food news.

Winner: K-5 kids at Northeast Elementary School

A magnet school in America's heartland takes on the hefty task of tackling obesity (and ignorance) by getting its groove on: Kindergartners dance hip-hop to the alphabet; fifth-graders calculate calories; and teachers sport pedometers. Parents are required to sign a contract adhering to the 'healthy approach,' which includes no sweets on birthdays and no food rewards. The fun seems to be working: Last year the percentage of overweight kids at Northeast dipped slightly; and the lessons they're learning should serve them into their teen years and beyond. But a complete overhaul seems almost too much to hope for: Will parents be able to resist their kids' after-school-hours pleas for burgers and fries? Will kids be able to resist asking


Winner: Foie gras lovers in California (at least for the next eight months); • Loser: geese (and the anti-meat brigade who missed out on Animal's eight-course meal last Friday)

Chef Ludo Lefebvre has had quite enough of vegan protestors coming between him (or other liver-loving carnivores) and his favored boyhood delicacy, the ever-controversial foie gras. “I want people to have the freedom to eat what they want,” he declares. “Animal-rights people would turn everyone into a vegan if they could. I don’t want animal rights people to tell me what to eat. Today it’s foie gras. Tomorrow it’s going to be chicken, or beef.” California fans will have just eight more months to indulge in the soon-to-be-outlawed cult food. After that, they'll have to travel across state lines or dust off their passports. Or simply pine for the glory days when chefs were less concerned with the effects on goose stomachs and more concerned with stuffing their own (and those of other foie gras aficionados). 


Winner: Anyone bored with the same old thing 

If you're getting tired of burgers (even In-N-Out has its limits) and ramen (you've read the last 'Lucky Peach' issue a hundred times), you're in luck. There are some new foods on the block: How about road kill to broaden your palate (and save your wallet), bison meat for authentic 'free range' dining, or the new vegan cornets at the French Laundry? No reason to get bored with your dining options when there's still so much to try out there. Need a wine pairing? How about some Cuvée MJ. Or not.


Winner: Wall Street protestors who forgot to pack a lunch

As the number of protestors surrounding Wall Street grows, so do the menu choices. Hungry '99-percenters' have been offered a bounty of riches that might turn even a CFO's head (or get their stomach rumbling anyway). Chefs, home cooks, and even dish-washers have turned Wall Street into America's soup kitchen, feeding the homeless as well as the revolutionaries with steaming plates of chicken and rice, organic vegetables, casseroles, delivery pizza and even Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Well-fed protestors might do well to put their newly withdrawn money where their mouths are: The food industry isn't all organic produce delivered curbside to their demonstration du jour: It has a few monopolies of its own. (Ahem, Monsanto anyone?)


Guilty Evidence: A Colorado packing shed 

The source of a nationwide listeria outbreak, the deadliest in more than 25 years, has finally been identified. (LINK) A contaminated packing shed at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado, was identified as Ground Zero for the killer pathogen, which was positively identified on a melon conveyor belt, a drying area, a floor drain and several other melon hangouts at the facility. Listeria, more deadly than salmonella or E. Coli, can take up to two months after exposure to appear, meaning the number of victims could continue to rise over the next two weeks. Although all infected produce has been removed from the market, we're wondering if our melon and prosciutto lunches are as risky as hosting a foie gras fest in California.

Life Sentence: Trans fats

Really people, are you still eating this stuff? Is anyone? As if we needed yet another reason (and we didn't) to avoid trans fats at all costs, a new study shows that men who have a diet rich in trans fats have higher rates of infertility. Then again, if they're dumb enough to eat it, maybe they shouldn't be procreating anyway.


Jump to Comments (12)

Comments (12)


almost 3 years ago WedgeMom

Love the photo - love the irony - When the CCC was founded during the great depression many were shocked to discover how many Americans were malnourished - I've heard some great oral histories in which CCC workers talked about how the first time in their lives they had enough to eat on a regular basis was when they joined the CCC.


almost 3 years ago undeadgoat

Although having active kids and removing the crap from lunch menus is a HUGE step, the idea that health is about denial (not mindfulness) is absolutely the kind of pernicious Puritan bull that has no place in our society today and that really contributes to "dieting cycles" as a perceived "healthy life choice." And, more importantly, the idea that by giving kids no control over their lives we will help them to make decisions as adults is just plain wrong. Kids that are not even allowed a few sweets, not even on special occasions, are probably just going to binge the second they have any freedom to buy cookies themselves.


almost 3 years ago Panfusine

loved reading that last sentence!


about 3 years ago Droplet

A truly great great photo.


about 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

P.S. LOVE the photo!


about 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I wish I could get behind the Northeast Elementary program. Love the required family involvement but the messages are kind of negative: that dessert is bad and kids should count calories (although I do like the "no food rewards" rule). Makes food seem dangerous. Wish the focus was more about what good food is -- let's hope that will be a future phase!


almost 3 years ago flowercityfoodie

I agree. I hope the focus turns to how delicious good food can be. The "no food rewards" rule is good. The idea that "if you eat your broccoli, you can have a cookie" just makes kids think that broccoli is some awful thing you have to get through.


almost 3 years ago Shelly Peppel

You both are totally right about some of the messages being negative and focusing on the fears instead of the pleasure of food. I do like the way the school teaching kids to read labels, how to think about food (instead of mindless eating), and how exercise should be integrated into our everyday lives. My kids were lucky enough to spend their early school years in France, where school lunches were served family style, teachers ate at the table with the children, and there was an afternoon chocolate break. Will we ever see anything like that at public schools in the U.S.?


almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I want to go to school in France!


almost 3 years ago AllisonGG

I love this idea! Such a great way to help children appreciate food, and to encourage them to try new things!


about 3 years ago Picot

You include very interesting photos with this feature. I wish you would include a photo credit that gives some background for the picture.


about 3 years ago Shelly Peppel

This week's photo is from the Civilian Conservation Corps, taken in 1935. The archive title is "Cooks and Helpers Eating Doughnuts". Isn't it fun? Love the timeless quality of people eating together -- everyone seems to be enjoying themselves!