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Kiko’s Food News, 3.21.14

I was disheartened to read about deceptive tactics employed by the National Restaurant Association to keep food service workers’ wages low; they recently hid their role in helping draft and circulate a statement signed by more than 500 economists urging the government to reject Obama’s proposed minimum wage increase: (New York Times)

But I was fired up to read about states that are capitalizing on a “heat and eat” loophole to avoid cutting food stamp benefits to families: (NPR)

Chipotle’s bringing awareness to global warming by threatening to take guacamole off of their menu due to changes associated with climate change; freezes and droughts could lead to temporary price increases on key ingredients: (Triple Pundit)

The UN’s hunger fighting agency warned that population growth, coupled with higher caloric intake of increasingly wealthy people, will cause us to run out of food unless the world boosts its food production by 60% by 2050: (RT)

And I leave you with four misleading packaged food claims to watch for in the grocery aisle–don’t be wooed by these marketing buzz lines! (Huffington Post)

Kiko’s Food News, 3.14.14

The new Farm Bill heralds a shift in the types of farmers who benefit from taxpayer dollars, reflecting lawmakers’ efforts to please constituents more focused on healthful foods; organic farmers, fruit growers and hemp producers all fare well in the new bill: (New York Times)

In one application of the Bill’s safeguards for farmers, Obama has announced additional assistance to Californians impacted by the drought, including up to $100 million in livestock disaster assistance and $10 million for water conservation: (USDA)

On the darker side of food politics, we’ve seen the nation’s four biggest meat companies steadily hike prices and widen their profit margins since Obama took office; this article shows why the president’s antitrust plan has broken down under pressure from meat industry lobbyists: (Slate)

Researchers are studying whether antibiotics might promote growth in humans; evidence shows that America’s obesity epidemic may be connected to our high consumption of these drugs: (New York Times)

Safeway announced that it will be purchased by a private equity group that will merge it with Albertsons to create a grocery conglomerate of 2,400 stores and 27 distribution facilities–a real shakeup in California’s grocery chain landscape: (San Jose Mercury News)

Kiko’s Food News, 3.7.14

The recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef that came through a Petaluma slaughterhouse has led Nicolette Hahn Niman, one of our most vocal promoters of sustainable meat, to share her company’s story as evidence that slaughtering is the most serious bottleneck in the food chain: (New York Times)

A dating site revealed that men prefer to date vegetarians but women don’t, as it found that guys are 13% more likely to click on vegetarian women’s profiles, but that women are 11% less likely to click on vegetarian men’s profiles; date-seeking or not, let’s all just keep eating what makes us feel good! (Mother Nature Network)

California’s Prop Two, which requires that all eggs sold there be from chickens raised in cages twice as large as the national norm, is one example of how state-specific legislation that protects animals will burden farmers that must either spend millions to comply, or face being shut out of that market: (NPR)

A study found that obesity in children ages 2 to 5 has fallen from 13.9% to 8.4% in less than 10 years; here are some theories as to why this could be: (Washington Post)

From turnip greens to watermelon rinds and even orange peels, this roundup of fruit and veggie parts we don’t often think of eating makes me hungry to throw out less food! (Huffington Post)

Kiko’s Food News 2.28.14

For the first time in over 20 years, the FDA has announced proposed changes to nutrition labels! The new label will emphasize calories and added sugars, remove “calories from fat”, and increase most required serving sizes to reflect how much of a food we actually eat: (CNN)

A Humane Society video pulled back the curtain on the brutality of a huge Kentucky hog operation, where workers were shown gutting dead piglets and puréeing their intestines; the mix is fed back to mother pigs to immunize them against a diarrhea epidemic that has killed millions of piglets: (New York Times)

Small scale, organic growers are discovering that the FDA regulations which have been proposed to curtail food poisoning outbreaks would curtail many of their common techniques, including spreading house-made fertilizers, tilling cropland with grazing animals, and irrigating from open creeks: (Los Angeles Times)

A secret society of super-rich diners has been leaving shockingly huge tips for bar staff and food servers across the country; I see this as not only human generosity, but as compassion for victims of our country’s systematically low wages for restaurant workers: (BBC)

Restaurants are using cheap deals on oysters to get customers in the door so they will buy something else at full price; this is made possible by the rapid growth of oyster farms on the East and West Coasts: (New York Times)

Kiko’s Food News, 2.21.14

Obama announced the formation of seven “climate hubs” to help farmers and rural communities adapt to the fires, pests, floods and droughts that accompany climate change: (Huffington Post)

Bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency, is inching its way into the food industry; small businesses consider it a welcome alternative to credit cards, which charge a 3% merchant fee for each transaction: (NPR)

Aronia, Gac, Monk and Buffaloberry are the funky names of the latest and greatest superfruits–check them out: (Los Angeles Times)

Some famous French chefs are cracking down on customers who take photographs of their food; I think the most compelling reason is the sad reality that people are capturing their dishes for posterity instead of the people they’re dining with! (BBC)

Another victory for the pressure of consumer demand, Chick-fil-A announced that within five years it will no longer sell products containing meat from chickens raised with antibiotics: (New York Times)


Kiko’s Food News, 2.14.14

Times are beyond tough for Cali farmers affected by the drought–especially organic farmers whose barren pastures and skyrocketing organic feed costs are forcing them to truck in supplemental feed from faraway states, or consider bowing out of farming altogether: (Food & Environment Reporting Network)

And with California’s reservoirs containing only 39% of their combined capacity, wine grapes are one of the most impacted crops; too much heat and not enough water leads them to develop off flavors, higher alcohol levels at earlier stages, and high susceptibility to sunburn and disease: (Huffington Post)

Co-ops popping up in gentrifying neighborhoods are highlighting social tensions through their signature policies; the requirement that members work a minimum number of hours might place community members on a level playing field, but the requirement to join can be prohibitive to people not used to paying for entrance to the grocery store: (New York Times)

If you’re going to NYC you might want to hit one of the awesome-sounding classes offered by the League of Kitchens, a new social enterprise that offers cooking workshops in immigrant chefs’ kitchens–tough choice between Lebanese, Bangladeshi, Greek and more! (League of Kitchens)

An insect-resistant type of corn is on the verge of being approved by the European Union; it would be only the third genetically modified crop to be authorized for cultivation in the 28-nation bloc: (New York Times)

Kiko’s Food News, 2.7.14

Responding to legal challenges over their use of the word “natural,” Pepsi has quietly replaced that word with “simply” in products like Frito-Lay chips and Quaker Granola; the ingredients remain the same: (Huffington Post)

Corn and bean farmers in the midwest are beginning to replace those crops with produce veggies to get in on the rising local food market; it’s exciting to hear that more money can be made that way due to rising demand: (New York Times)

Camel milk, which apparently has a “pleasantly surprising nutty, smoky, slightly Bratwursty flavour”, is being sold for the first time with coffee in the UK, although it’s been served for a while in the United Arab Emirates: (BBC)

Now that Food Studies is an increasingly popular offering at universities, the academic audience for food blogs and food writing is expanding; will academia have an impact on the way that food blogs are written? (Huffington Post)

Kiko’s Food News, 1.31.14

Or maybe I should call today’s issue “Farm Bill News”? 

On Wednesday the House approved a massive five-year farm bill, which includes nearly $1 billion in annual reductions to food stamps (SNAP) that will affect about 850,000 families across the country; the Senate is expected to pass the bill next week: (NPR)

Within the 900 pages of the bill is a nationwide program that will allow low-income families to double their food stamp benefits to buy fruits and veggies at farmers markets; the program provides up to $20 million annually in matching funds for five years: (Washington Post)

The bill also signals a win for animal welfare due to the removal of the dangerous King Amendment that would have threatened states’ powers to enact their own agricultural standards (such as California’s mandating larger cages for egg-laying chickens): (Sioux City News)


A group of “agrarian elders”, including some of the biggest rock stars of the sustainable food movement, met to document what they want to pass on to younger farmers; topics ranged from how they’ve structured C.S.A.’s to how they’ve marketed heirloom varietals to restaurant clients: (New York Times)

India’s growing taste for “exotic” veggies like broccoli, leeks and cabbage are making these more profitable for farmers there to cultivate: (BBC)

If you’re watching the Superbowl on Sunday, look out for this year’s Chipotle production: their new “Farmed and Dangerous” series will take a satirical look at industrial-scale farming to promote the company’s concerns about the humane treatment of meat animals: (New York Times)

Kiko’s Food News, 1.24.14

Does your family debate ideal quantities of protein intake as often as mine has recently? If so, this article offers guidelines on how much, and what kind, of protein we should be ingesting: (Washington Post)

I’m proud to see that my girlfriends who work as chefs are part of a broadening posse, as women are increasingly filling the kitchen jobs that will produce the next generation of leaders in America’s best restaurants: (New York Times)

This chart shows how Americans’ grocery spending habits are out of whack with USDA recommendations; for example, we spend four times the amount recommended on refined grains but about a fifth of the amount recommended on whole grains: (Mother Jones)

People in 13 states have been sickened by salmonella detected in “white slime” — think back to the pink stuff, but from poultry instead of beef — which is made by forcing chicken through a sieve to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue, and sold for institutional food service: (NBC)

Monsanto is rolling out new varieties of lettuce, peppers, broccoli and other “superveggies” at supermarkets across the US; what’s surprising is that they aren’t genetically modified, created instead by crossbreeding (which farmers have done for millennia): (Wired)

Kiko’s Food News, 1.17.14

Wondering if your favorite pickle, coffee, beer or chocolate is the best our country’s food makers have to offer? Our friends at the Good Food Awards just announced the 2014 winners of the blind judging! (Good Food Awards)

General Mills said it is no longer using genetically engineered ingredients to make Cheerios, after a nearly yearlong campaign by a consumer activist group: (Los Angeles Times)

But will other food marketers divert their energy from certifying their food as organic because it’s easier to become certified as GMO-free? (New York Times)

Google web traffic data has an uncanny way of reflecting when foods are running out–check out how dramatically web searches were affected by shortages in Velveeta, Sriracha and Twinkies: (CNBC)

Americans are consuming fewer calories and eating at home more often according to a new USDA study, but the improvements could be attributable to cash-strapped Americans eating at home out of necessity during the recession: (Wall Street Journal)

I had a ball learning about “sokkuri sweets,” Japanese confections that look like inedible objects — check out these celebrities caught on TV biting shoes and calendars they thought could be made of sugar! (Kotaku)

Kiko’s Food News, 1.10.14

A study found that poor people with diabetes are significantly more likely to go to the hospital for dangerously low blood sugar at the end of the month–when food budgets are tight–than at the beginning of the month: (New York Times)

Yes, young Americans are increasingly pursuing careers in agriculture, but do single farmers need to BYOB (“bring your own boyfriend”) if they want to live off the land? My friend Kristina made this video to pose the question: (Youtube)

McDonald’s announced its commitment to begin purchasing “verified sustainable beef” in 2016–but how will they do this if there isn’t even a universal definition of sustainable beef? (Huffington Post)

Anthony Bourdain has signed a deal to open a massive international food market in Manhattan, in hopes of “giving young chefs a showcase to strut their stuff” and bringing Asian and European hawker foods to New York: (Fox News)

Maybe he’ll offer artichoke or pepperoni gelato, like some shops in Italy that are offering savory flavors–often with a wine pairing–to compete with the glut of sweet gelato shops! (New York Times)

Kiko’s Food News, 1.3.14

Happy Fab ’14!

Kicking the year off on the right note, one of our most vocal fellow food waste fighters summed up 2013′s big scores in combatting the problem; my favorite is her #1, the realization that anecdotally, consumers like you and me seem inspired to waste less with each bite: (NRDC)

It’s been well documented in recent years that the cost of food as it compares to other expenditures for Americans is going down, but I was surprised to see how dramatically the amount of money we spend on food cooked at home is going down vs. food eaten in restaurants: (The Atlantic)

The story of hunger is evolving as the percentage of the world’s population with access to 2,500 or more calories a day has grown from 30% to 61%, but the countries that have a history of food insufficiency aren’t just growing more food–they’re increasing supply by importing it from abroad: (NPR)

Farmers in big agribusiness are fighting back against years of critical media coverage by connecting with consumers through social media and in-person outreach to try and show they don’t have anything to hide: (Newser)

From a Mexican tax on sugary drinks to legislation banning Happy Meal toys in Chile and Peru, Latin America is becoming a laboratory for public policies meant to steer consumers away from processed food: (Wall Street Journal)