One of the most depressing stories I’ve read in some time was about a free summer lunch program for kids in one of the states that make up the richest country in the world. People are worried about ducks getting force-fed for foie gras, and here’s a whole generation being undernourished. What was doubly depressing was seeing what was on offer. Suffice it to say I’m just glad I grew up poor before Lunchables. Also, too: Call food stamps what they are — supermarket subsidies — and you’d see them busting the budget.
You have to give the golden-arched evil empire props for balls. On the same day its honchos were denying any role in the ballooning of the human race, the chain was boasting that it had come up with its most caloric item ever. Which happens to be merely a mega-order of enough fries to feed a village, but I’m sure they’re counting on suckers not realizing the so-called meat is not what packs on the lbs. It’s the sides. And not just the liquid ones.
I was also fascinated by the huge fuss over KFC deliveries coming through the Gaza tunnels, which was a story that came out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere, Somewhere a flack has to be cashing a mega-check. I first saw the “news” on a British site, with the photo attributed to an agency. Other outlets sent their own lensmen to get the pic, but in every one the logo was front and center and very clear. You’d think it was Coke in a Hollywood movie. Once upon a time you would say you couldn’t buy advertising like this. Now you can ask: Why would you? Journamalists will do it for free.
All my notes are connected: Which is scarier, antibiotics in the ground turkey, or shit in the ground turkey? And the WSJournal reported two pink slimesters are in a race to the bottom now, trying to compete with ever-lower-priced “meals” even as workers are increasingly walking off the job to protest their Bangladeshi wages. And as you eat those fat strawberries, know the pickers may have been fired for protesting life-threatening conditions in the field. Also, too: “Worker dies in large meat grinder in Clackamas.”
The scandal was presented as rat sold as lamb. But old copy editors never die; they just bitch away. So I’ll point out that lamb ain’t mutton. Much as I can’t tolerate the former, I know vermin could much more easily pose as the latter.
Every morning I wake up to some new set of links to food start-ups that are hoping to do good by doing well. And I wish them more than well, since I’m a big believer in food as the solution to all problems. So I was encouraged to read that vulture capitalists are starting to put their mega-money where their big mouths are. But someone is really going to have to answer why they would invest in the type of companies that are trying to come up with substitutes for nature’s most nearly perfect food. They might as well be attempting to develop a fat-free avocado. The other half of breakfast at least made sense, since even vegans lust for bacon.
Relatedly, I saw much hooraying over the return of Twinkies etc. but almost no awareness in the fud world that the whole brouhaha was yet another greedy/bogus “Mission Accomplished,” given that the goal was to destroy the unions, loot the company and let it be reincarnated as a Bangladesh-in-the-USA enterprise. Enjoy your fresh Ho Hos. Just don’t stop to wonder if there’s any blood in the Sno Balls.
And I really wish we were living in the future and none of this had happened yet. So now the Boston suspect has been charged with having a “weapon of mass destruction” and I guess everyone had just better prepare to surrender their pressure cookers. I grew up with one of those scary things — my mom used it every day to cook dried beans or, when the freezer was otherwise empty of venison, boil a deer heart into submission, and all seven of us kids would cower as it rocked back and forth on a burner, looking ready to detonate. I wasn’t surprised one could be converted by an evildoer, but I remain amazed at how many “reporters” seemed unaware it is not “like what you might use to cook rice,” as NPR’s terrorism expert helpfully explained. (Yeah, you might, but you might be thinking rice cooker.) At first I was going to make a joke about how airlines will one day no longer allow Prestos in carry-on bags, but then a Twitpal informed me Williams-Sonoma has already pulled those potential IEDs off its shelves. The crazy gets crazier and crazier. While I keep wondering why those founding fathers never thought to write in any rights for those of us who would just like to fly home with a bottle of wine or olive oil without having to check a bag. Didn’t Jefferson produce both?
If you buy food from the people who produce it, you never have to bother with stuff like “the dark side of strawberries” (no link, cuz I’m not encouraging ’em). This, however, was another dark side. Maybe it would be cheaper for the Greeks to pay pickers than pick up the tab for sewing up gunshot wounds?
I started to Tweet this as the saddest food story of the week. But then I reconsidered. Starving would be a far crueler way to go than a bolt through the head. Too bad the banksters who created the crisis will never experience the former . . .
I noticed My Biggest Fan posted a shot of his caviar dinner one night, and I wondered how long till that will be illegal in North Dakota, too — one day the only abortions there will be on plates at the Olive Garden. And when I wondered over to the Twitter how sustainable the barbecue frenzy can be on an overstretched planet, and how long till vegetable BBQ takes over, of course someone brought up Soylent Green. Maybe that’s why we need all the new forced-birth laws. Something has to fill all those smokers.
While I continue procrastinating about spelling out the flaws in a certain muddled doc on “food insecurity,” I have to present without (much) comment: NYT versus WashPost. The former natters. The latter matters, making such a great case for the simple solution without ever even spelling it out: Pay people a fucking living wage.
Kinda grim to live in an e-world where the kerfuffle is bigger over one bad review of a London clone than over the fact that thousands of sick pigs were dumped into a river in China and only the thinnest allah-save-us-from-the-sequester thread keeps Bushwhacked farmers from doing the same here. Can I just point out that Balthazar was not a great food venue when it opened in SoHo way back in the last century? The best it managed was two stars. I still remember jumping through 65 hoops to get a lunch reservation when it was new and being rewarded with profoundly mediocre cooking in an admittedly glorious setting. In my eating around NYC for a post-9/11 story, I took a friend there for another dinner so just-average she couldn’t be persuaded Leroy Neiman at the next table qualified as a celebrity big enough to validate eating West 50s classics. Today, to me, it’s La Grenouille for kiddles. I wouldn’t turn down dinner there. But did a city just a Chunnel away from Paris really need an Epcot bistro?
You have to wonder about a state (Hoosiers’) that wants to require two transvaginal ultrasounds if a woman chooses to exercise her legal right to an abortion but that also insists it’s unconstitutional to allow anyone to photograph/videograph a factory farm. Apparently they would have no problem with force-feeding and gestation-confining women. And in Oklahoma a nutcase blocked a law banning texting while driving because, you know, it’s a slippery slope to the long arm of the law snatching Whoppers out of drivers’ hands. Oklahoma, of course, is where the new abortion laws were so overreaching a court just struck them down. Apparently a woman can do what she wants with her phone and her diet, but all her lady parts belong to the state.
Speaking of water, one of the most gruesome stories in donkey’s years is the one about the Canadian tourist whose body was found in a rooftop tank on a hotel where all the guests had for weeks been blithely drinking and showering in what came out of the tap. But as I thought about it I remembered (or maybe misremembered) another story, about a naturalist in the Caribbean who died at his remote lodge in the mountains and whose widow filled his coffin with ice cubes to keep him “fresh” in the heat for the wake. As the hours went on and the ice for drinks ran low, of course, the mourners had no qualms about scooping out rocks for their rum punches. Maybe instead of moving hundreds of guests, the LA hotel should have just offered free minibar access.
This may be the biggest setback yet to the noble goal of underwriting local farms by agreeing to buy whatever they can grow. CSA now has a second translation: Child Sexual Abuse. Spell it “one more reason to be glad the pope is 86ing himself.”