In which Food52's news editors, Shelly and Fran, weigh in on the week's top food news.
LOSERS: Top Chef Wannabes Who Mess with Tom Colicchio
Bravo's Top Chef premiered this week, from deep in the heart of Texas. But contestants vying to be the lone star in the Lone Star State got quite a shock when one of their peers was sent packing even before he had made it to the stove (his butchering skills – or lack thereof – apparently underwhelmed Colicchio). With 29 competitors (being whittled to 16 within the first, two-part episode), this is the biggest Top Chef yet (befitting the great state of Texas?); but whether it will be the best remains to be seen. At least one critic doesn't particularly care. TIME's Josh Ozersky wrote this week that Top Chef is "bad for gastronomy." While Ozersky admits he loves the show, he also fears it's training the next generation of cooks 'to think of themselves as bold, creative brands, waiting to blossom under the klieg lights," instead of toiling under fluorescents. Ozersky makes a valid point. But we still loved watching Tom get mad.
WINNERS: White House staff members who reclaimed their waistlines
Thinner, fitter White House staffers credit First Lady Michele Obama for motivating them to eat well and get healthy. Three White House chefs and one curator have lost more than 110 pounds after changing their eating and exercise habits and just saying no to all the cookies, cakes and pies (oh my!) on hand for visiting dignitaries. "(Michele Obama) is a great inspiration for me to focus everyday to try harder, and I have,” says Susie Morrison, assistant pastry chef, now 30 pounds lighter. But Obama hasn't stopped at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She takes her healthy-eating show on the road as well. In New Orleans, the First Lady of Fitness urged eager preschoolers to eat their peas and exercise more. Fellow healthy eater Jamie Oliver must be happy to have a government ally here in the U.S. after claiming his own government consistently works against his efforts. We're personally hoping his woes across the pond mean we'll be seeing a lot more of him on this side of the Atlantic.
LOSERS: Women and Children WINNERS: Obese Men (how unfair is that?)
Most people can't even remember what Prohibition was, but the (de)merits of alcohol remain ever-controversial. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital now claim women who have as few as three to six drinks a week are 15% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who don't drink at all. Men seem to have more than just dodged this bullet. It turns out, drinking might actually be a good thing for some of the male persuasion. A small study shows obese men who consume resveratrol -- a natural compound in red wine -- improve their metabolism as much as if they were on a strict low-calorie diet (okay, it's REALLY unfair). But who's the biggest loser? Underage drinkers, who sadly seem to be drinking in increasing quantities. In the U.K., 4% of 12-year-olds are regularly consuming 28 units of alcohol every week – the equivalent of drinking 19 glasses of wine. There's no study in the world that can make that look good.
LOSERS: The Growing Number of Poor, Hungry US Residents
According to the USDA, a record number of Americans is using food stamps. The number reached 45.8 million in August, more than 8 percent higher than the number of food-stamp recipients the previous year (and roughly 15% of the US population). While some lawmakers are trying to see how the other half lives and actually attempt to eat on a food-stamp budget, others have put made it increasingly difficult for the hungry to get help. Michigan lawmakers last month declared that food-stamp applicants would be ineligible if they owned a car worth more than $15,000. After a great hew and cry from people trying to eek out a living (and drive to any job they could find), the state this week rescinded the policy. Although this is a definite win for those most in need, we find it hard to cheer for news like this.
FURTHER INVESTIGATION NEEDED: Feeding the World
World population reached 7 billion this week, and that means one thing: 7 billion mouths to feed. Immediate questions arise: What are we all going to eat?. And how do we feed 7B people without ruining the planet? Even before baby 7B was born this week, there were at least a billion hungry people in the world, making those questions difficult to answer. Although ideas do arise. In fact, one bold movement has proven to have legs. Insects just might be the answer, at least if we Americans can get past the ick factor and learn to embrace the insectivore within us. Cricket cacciatore, anyone? (or Katydid quesadillas? or true fly tacos? you choose)
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