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LOSERS: Big Food Companies (and those of us who buy their wares)
In a rough week for food giants, arsenic turned up in popular commercial fruit-juice brands, including Tropicana, Minute Maid and Welch’s. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Cranberry behemoth Ocean Spray took a hit when consumers reported finding metal fragments (yum) in bags of Craisins. Can you spell recall? Might as well learn it in Chinese, too: Reports show southern China’s 12 million tons of rice may be contaminated with cadmium. Luckily, the news isn’t all bad. We seem to be making strides in the war against E.coli. And fish will soon be adorned with DNA barcodes so consumers get the fish they think they’re buying, not a tilapia in cod’s clothing.
WINNER: Chef David Kinch
This week, GQ named Kinch, chef at California's Manresa, the magazine’s chef of the year. GQ says this culinary 'genius' dazzles 'anyone lucky enough to sit at his table.' Was Guy Fieri hoping to get the nod? Maybe he shaved his legs in anticipation of all the media attention? Always interested in what chefs eat at home and feed their families, we were excited to learn what some Aussies put in their kids’ lunchboxes. We weren’t so excited when one suggested being persistent when offering things like Vegemite on toast (which just isn’t going to happen in our kitchens). While neither the sustainable white truffle (which is having a big moment) nor sturgeon caviar (ditto) is likely to make anyone’s list of lunch food, nori rolls made the cut. So did cut fruit (whole apples, apparently, take too long to eat and are more likely to be left behind). If you do pack a whole apple, you’re sure to applaud the new dissolving fruit sticker that turns into soap (it may be the closest our kid gets to washing his hands before lunch).
LOSERS: Teens, who just can’t seem to get enough produce
Teenagers seem to be waging a losing battle in the fight to eat right. They eat too much junk food, drink too much soda. Worried yours isn’t getting enough veggies? You probably should be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most teens are nutrient deficient and eating fewer fruits and vegetables than the daily-recommended amounts. Maybe parents should try motivating their teenagers with one of Vermont's folk artist Bo Muller-Moore's "Eat More Kale" hats or t-shirts. He may be fighting a ridiculous trademark suit brought by Chik-fil-A (because doesn’t everyone mistake kale for chicken?), but he has us rooting for the green CSA box underdog. The news about teens and produce might just add to the growing list of things parents feel guilty about. But there are reasons for hope. A CNN essay this week made (a lot of) us feel better about not cooking from scratch every night. Happily, rotisserie chickens and salad bars have come a long way. Another way parents are easing their guilt – and helping their kids – is by making fighting childhood obesity a family affair and signing up for exercise and nutrition boot camps. Unfortunately, we also learned this week that morning snacking could sink diet goals; so we’re going to have to save this cinnamon sugared bacon for after lunch.
WINNERS: Cookbook lovers (and the shoppers who buy for them)
Year-end lists are a thing of beauty for those of us shopping for gifts for the cooks on our list (To me. From me. With love). From the New York Times’ 2011 Notable Cookbooks list (many of these will be on our wishlist) to blogger Cheryl Sternman Rule’s (Five Second Rule) season picks to the Washington Post’s list of wine books that go down easy, great gift ideas abound. We might buy Julia Rothman’s Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life just to stare at her charming illustrations (would it be wrong to hang this book on the wall?). Food as art had a big week, in fact. Food writer/artist Mira Rubell’s installation at Art Basel in Miami Beach was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. One crafty food lover recreated a dog photo from nonpareils, while another created a mosaic from one million (yes, you read that right) coffee beans. We’d say we’re drooling over all of these, but you’d know we were exaggerating: We learned this week that humans don’t actually salivate at the thought of food. We’re hoping none of our dining partners read that news.