Eat the Week: Kids in the Crops, Pizzas on the List, Bieber Behaving Badly, and Lobsters Let Loose

Eat the Week: Kids in the Crops, Pizzas on the List, Bieber Behaving Badly, and Lobsters Let Loose

1. Remember when your parents made you mow the lawn all summer? Remember thinking it felt like forced work? Well, there’s indeed a thin line between the completion of unsavory chores and child labor, and berry farmers in Washington found out the hard waythis week. The U.S. Department of Labor discovered nine underage workers — some as young as six years old — employed by three farms as strawberry pickers and, on Thursday, issued fines totaling nearly $73,000. This matter is a concerning systemic effect of poor wages; many families employed by farms in the southwest parts of the state bring their children to help during harvest season. Makes you think twice about sending the kids out to do some weeding around the house.

2. You’ve probably known for weeks, but Spain’s Michelin three-star restaurant elBulli has officially closed, serving its last diners on July 30. Since taking over in 1987, Chef Ferran Adrià would traverse the globe for six months, searching out inspiration and tinkering away like a mad scientist in the kitchen, and spend the other half of the year cooking mind-blowing €250-meals for 8,000 diners, June to December. But elBulli isn’t exactly closing, according to Adrià. Instead, it will blossom again in 2014 as a redefined “culinary think-tank,” doing much the same as before, just minus the paying customers.

3. The food-truck craze is reaching an oversaturation point, wouldn’t you say? When Applebee’s starts playing catch-up, it’s probably a sign the trend is losing a lot of its initial integrity. Perhaps not, though. Here’s a colorful infographic, posted Thursday, that illustrates the rise of the food truck swarm.

4. Venice Beach’s raw-food co-op Rawesome was recently raided by police, who confiscated $70,000 of produce and dairy and tagged the proprietor with legal charges, mostly concerning the production, labeling, and distribution of raw milk. Staffed by unpaid volunteers, Rawesome claims to be a club, not a business, that requires their members sign risk waivers. On these grounds, the co-op argues for exemption from licensing and health hazard disputes. A protest was held by raw-milk advocates on Thursday outside the Los Angeles County Courthouse.

5. There’s so much to say about Justin Bieber that it’s difficult to even know where to begin. How about with the basics: he’s a famous teenage boy who does stuff like this, treating drive-through employees like fun dispensers, destroying perfectly good ice-cream cones, and reveling in being allowed to drive.

6. On August 3, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced a newly designed can for Budweiser, shedding the flowing tails of the generic ribbon of quality, that says something about distinction and age and hops, in favor of front-and-centering the brand’s off-kilter bowtie insignia and slabbing the can with stark chunks of red and white. A touch of its adopted European parents?

7. The Food Network Magazine, for its August issue, has raked the nation looking for every state’s best pizza and come back victorious and bloated. In what they aptly call “50 States, 50 Pizzas,” Food Network provides images and descriptions of the U.S.’s most tantalizing cheesiness, like Delaware’s “Saint Elizabeth” — with blue crab and artichoke-Parmesan sauce — or Chicago’s caramelized-mozzarella crust at Pequod’s.

8. Now that many retailers are expanding their one-stop shopping portfolios, it seems, Kraft Foods decided Thursday to split into two companies, one governing the snack side of the business, the other, grocery staples such as cheeses and beverages. With the snacks business already grossing $32 billion, Kraft is just teaching its ($16 billion) grocery business to swim the hard way, without a floatie.

9. The third largest food recall occurred this past Wednesday, when meat company Cargill realized its ground turkey is responsible for a 26-state Salmonella outbreak. The recalled meat came from Arkansas but was spread throughout the country in various brand packaging, including Honeysuckle, Kroger, Safeway, Giant Eagle, and Aldi. There have been 78 confirmed illnesses and one death. The U.S.D.A. and Centers for Disease Control are aggressively investigating the legitimacy of Cargill’s claims that the evidence linking their turkey meat to a Salmonella outbreak in July was insufficient for early recall.

10. On a cheerier note, Reuters reports that, August 3, a group of Tibetan Buddhists — from Kurukulla Center, known for their frequent seafood saves — bought 534 lobsters destined for bowls and plates from a wholesaler in northern Massachusetts and returned the critters to the Atlantic. The article goes on to mention that Wednesday was Wheel Turning Day, the anniversary of the first Buddha’s first sermon, and that good deeds go farther on this holiday… Cheating nirvana?

Photo: jronaldlee