Subjects exposed to images of fast food seemed less able to enjoy simple pleasures.
Read more. [Image: Calgary Reviews/Flickr]
Three cups a day: That’s how much skim milk the government says Americans should drink. It’s been that way since 1985, the first time the Department of Agriculture (USDA) definitively recommended a switch to low-fat dairy as a way of managing fat intake. Since 2012, public schools have been required to serve only non-fat and low-fat milk to students, a change brought on by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
According to some, this has been a real victory. “When I was in Congress, you couldn’t even get low-fat milk in school lunches!” declared Dan Glickman, the former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and congressman from Kansas, at a recent Atlantic panel discussion on health care. Indeed, skim milk has become one symbol of the fight for healthy eating and, by extension, a healthier population.
But people haven’t always had such positive feelings about skim milk.
Read more. [Image: Cedar Farms/Flickr]
What do you think an apple core is? What’s the thing we throw away?
It is a ghost. If you eat your apples whole, you are a hero to this ghost. If you do not, you are barely alive. Come experience vitality.
Earlier this year, in “How to Eat Apples Like a Boss,” a video by Foodbeast, the Internet was promised the gift of confidence in apple-eating. Elie Ayrouth ate an apple starting at the bottom, proceeding to up to the top, and finishing with a wink to the camera, as a boss does. Eating as such, Foodbeast said, the core “disappears.”
I do them one better and say that it never existed. The core is a product of society, man. There is a thin fibrous band, smaller in diameter than a pencil and not bad to the taste. If you eat your apple vertically, it is not noticeable to taste.
Each year, the McRib makes a brief visit to Earth. Its arrival elicits reactions ranging from horror to awe. And for good reason: this would-be rib sandwich is really a restructured pork patty pressed into the rough shape of a slab of ribs, its slathering of barbecue sauce acting as camouflage as much as coating.
“Pork” is a generous term, since the McRib has traditionally been fashioned from otherwise unmarketable pig parts like tripe, heart, and stomach, material that is not only cheap but also easier to mold and bind into a coherent, predetermined shape. McDonald’s accurately lists the patty’s primary ingredient as “boneless pork,” although even that’s a fairly strong euphemism. Presumably few of the restaurant’s patrons would line up for a Pressed McTripe.
Despite its abhorrence, the McRib bears remarkable similarity to another, more widely accepted McDonald’s product, the Chicken McNugget. In fact, the McRib was first introduced in 1982, shortly after the company had designed the McNugget. Chicken McNuggets are fashioned by the same method as is the McRib, namely by grinding factory-farmed chicken meat into a mash and then reconstituting them into a preservative-stabilized solid, aka a “nugget.” And both products are bound and preserved by a petrochemical preservative called tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. According to the Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, one gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” In a 2003 lawsuit accusing McDonald’s of consumer deception, federal district court judge Robert W. Sweet called Chicken McNuggets a “McFrankenstein creation.”
But despite rejoinders like that of Judge Sweet, the Chicken McNugget flies under the radar, hiding its falseness, while the McRib flaunts it. In part, this is because the concept of a Chicken McNugget corresponds with a possible natural configuration of ordinary poultry, whose meat could be cut into chunks, battered, and fried. By contrast, there is no world in which pork spare ribs could be eaten straight through, even after having been slow cooked such that some of the cartilage breaks down. It’s a partial explanation for the horror and the delight wrought by McRib, but not a sufficient one.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
Blanca Salas, a woman in McAllen, Texas, stretches her $430 in monthly food stamp benefits to buy food for herself and her five children, yet her entire family is developing diabetes and other health problems, as the Washington Post reported this weekend. Obesity and diabetes are growing in places like Hidalgo County, even though food budgets are increasingly meager.
Many of the reactions, perhaps expectedly, linked poverty and ignorance.
It was just moments after I finished an IPA tour at the Great American Beer Festival with Julia Herz, the Craft Beer Program director for the Brewers Association. “Women drinking beer!” one guys said, pointing up to the “womenenjoyingbeer.com” booth. Two of his male friends gave a laughing grunt, and one took out his phone to capture the moment for re-telling.
The idea of women in the beer world is often parodied and, occasionally, openly mocked. But why?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
On Thursday the FDA proposed changing its classification of trans fats to no longer “generally recognized as safe,” which means food companies would have to prove that the partially hydrogenated oils are harmless before using them. This new, higher bar could mean that trans fats will disappear from our diets altogether, since the most recent research shows that they contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries and heart attacks.
But surprisingly, science has only been against trans fats for the past few decades. Through the late 1980s, animal fat substitutes like Crisco and margarine were all the rage, and for a brief moment were even considered a health product. Here’s the story of how America fell in love with, and then quickly slid away from, hydrogenated oils.
Read more. [Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]
The walls of Old Base (laojidi), a bustling hot pot restaurant in downtown Chongqing, China looks like a Communist Hall of Fame: Karl Marx’s stern portrait, which hangs from a central pillar, faces blown-up head shots of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, two of the masterminds behind the Cultural Revolution. Zhou Enlai and Vladimir Lenin make frequent appearances, and, of course, Mao Zedong himself fixes customers with his pensive gaze, even peering out from above the bathroom urinals. Under the watchful eyes of China’s Communist forefathers, teenage waiters donning Red Guard outfits serve up Chongqing’s distinctive, spicy hot pot.
As customers line up to plunge their chopsticks into a communal rice bowl at the back of the restaurant, waiters periodically break into choruses of Communist Party folk classics such as “The East is Red” or “Ode to the Plum Blossom,” a reported favorite of former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai. Waiters constantly restock the beer fridge, which bears the phrase “Weapons Chest,” and a steady stream of imbibers line up for the restrooms, which are labeled “Liberated Areas.” Daily specials are scrawled by hand on a list called the “Political Commissar’s recommendations.” The effect is like stepping into a time machine and waking up in rural China in 1968.
But beyond the flimsily plastered walls of Old Base, Chongqing’s mega-market economy roars on. Across the street, a Sephora and Carrefour lure China’s well-heeled consumers, while a Pizza Hut, Starbucks and two KFCs are a stone’s throw away.
Read more. [Image: Thomas Arne Strand]
Cuong Pham’s family left Vietnam by boat in 1979, after his father’s association with U.S. agencies during the war made it too “difficult” to continue living there. Three decades later, Cuong returned to Phu Quoc, an island off the country’s southern coast, to make fish sauce.
Fish sauce is the essential condiment of Southeast Asian cuisine. Made from fermented anchovies, it gives Vietnamese and Thai dishes their distinctive sweet-sour taste. More than 95% of Vietnamese households use fish sauce daily, tossing it into everything from noodles to dipping sauce.
In previous decades, housewives bought unmarked jars at the local market. Today, they’ve developed fierce brand loyalty. Three sauces manufactured by Masan Consumer Corp. make up 76% of the domestic market, which this year is forecast to top $400 million. New York-based private equity firm KKR recently increased its stake in Masan to $359 million—the largest investment a private equity firm has ever made in Vietnam.
But Cuong and the other approximately 90 Phu Quoc producers want consumers to see their fermented condiment as much more than a household staple.
Read more. [Image: Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters]
In 2006, Kentucky Fried Chicken opened Syria’s first American restaurant in Damascus. The franchise weathered more than two and a half years of war, but this month, it became one of the last foreign businesses in the country to close its doors.
The picture of a quintessential American brand thriving in an “Axis of Evil” country currently targeted by U.S. sanctions may seem contradictory at first blush. Yet, in the Middle East, people have spent up to seven times their daily income on a bucket of fried chicken. Even in the Gaza Strip, where the average income hovers around $2 (U.S.) per day, KFC remains popular. The KFC branch in Al-Arish, Egypt has smuggled in deliveries through Hamas’s tunnels for $30 a meal. The United Arab Emirates, a country that has roughly the same population as New Jersey, opened its 100th KFC branch this May. Libya and Iraq crave KFC no less: Knockoffs of the restaurant— “Uncle Kentucky” in Tripoli and Fallujah—thrive in places where American ideas may not be winning hearts and minds, but they are winning stomachs.
Read more. [Image: Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters]