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In which Food52's news editors, Shelly and Fran, weigh in on the week's top food news.
• WINNER: The food-allergy prone (and even the not-so-prone)
As more and more schools and even major-league ballparks go peanut free (at least occasionally) for the benefit of allergy sufferers, researchers at Northwestern University say they may have found a way to 'tweak' the immune system so it doesn't react (often fatally) to exposure to foods like peanuts and eggs. We expect zillions of parents are holding their collective breath, hoping this brings some relief from the constant fear of anaphylaxis. And while the growing number of people suffering from celiac disease and gluten allergies has a growing number of gluten-free options to choose from in markets and restaurants, they also have plenty of company. Now many non-allergic eaters are flocking to the gluten-free grocery aisles as well. But is a restrictive diet for everyone? Can a gluten-free diet propel us to the top of our game, as it did for top tennis player Novac Djokovic? We might consider ditching the bread and pasta if it meant a blistering forehand. Might.
• LOSER: Kids. Again. (Sense a trend here?)
Under pressure from food manufacturers, federal regulators may change their proposed guidelines on marketing food to children. The guidelines were originally conceived to help stem the tide of childhood obesity by limiting the number of snack- and junk-food ads kids see (and fall for). But manufacturers have lobbied long and hard against the plan, saying the definition of 'children' is too broad and limiting. Meanwhile, this might be the kiss off for Cap'n Crunch and his cartoonish cohorts, as consumer groups fight to rid the world of clever marketing gimmicks aimed at wee nippers. And if even adults can't withstand the lure of good marketing ('natural' foods, anyone? EVERYONE!), how can we expect our young'uns to do so?
• WINNER: Seasonal-beer lovers
With fall comes pumpkin season (see below); and where there be gourds there also be a bumper crop of pumpkin ales. Lovers of craft – or just crafty – brews have a plethora of pumpkin beers from which to choose now. Fall's bounty isn't limited to orange globes, as apples come hard into season – and hard into cider. If fruity drinks just aren't for you, maybe rock-star brews, like Dogfish Head's paean to Pearl Jam will be. But wait, the Faithfull Ale is brewed with currants. Looks like there's no escape from the fruits (and veggies) of fall.
• WINNER: A California gardener and, hopefully, pumpkin lovers across the country
A Napa man is more than $11,000 richer after setting a California record at the 38th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. His 1,704-pound pumpkin, grown from the seed of a 991-pound pumpkin he also grew, barely squeaked past the second-place squash – a 1,693 pounder. Will such gargantuan gourds have any impact on the nation's looming pumpkin shortage? Perhaps not, but pumpkin-pie aficionados can always revert to the canned variety, supplies of which seem undiminished by the pumpkin drought.
• HUNG JURY: Will the real Ruth Bourdain please stand up? Or not
Fans of the Ruth Reichl/Anthony Bourdain Twitter mashup Ruth Bourdain thought they'd unmasked their hilarious hero at last, when a food editor outed Village Voice restaurant critic Robert Sietsema. Not so, parried Sietsema. Definitely not, insisted RuBo, who tweeted, 'Just woke up from a nap. Had the weirdest dream I was @robertsietsema.' In the end, we're not so sure we want to find out who's behind the mask. Although, if it would mean the end of gems like, 'Maxim has named Paula Deen TV's "hottest female chef." It's true. Paula can get up to as hot as 375°F when she deep-fries herself,' then we're quite sure we like the Twitterverse just the way it is.