Eat the Week National: Horsemeat Giddyup, Spelunking Sustainability, and Fallacious Food Swamps

Eat the Week National: Horsemeat Giddyup, Spelunking Sustainability, and Fallacious Food Swamps


1. Historically relied upon as a suitable stand-in during times of national beef shortage, horsemeat’s officially on the menu again. The ban on horse slaughter was lifted last November, but nobody truly jumped on the business wagon until Rick De Los Santos, a New Mexico rancher, this week roused a large part of his local community, along with animal rights groups and state politicians, by applying to have the USDA inspect and approve an old beef slaughterhouse for reuse as a horsemeat processing plant. Meat eaters’ aversion to killing and consuming these noble and majestic workbeasts seems culturally foddered, as many other countries — Switzerland, Iceland, Belgium, France, Mexico, Russia, China, and Japan, to name a few — regularly dine on horsemeat, even fancily, with taboo tossed aside. If De Los Santos gets the okay, horsemeat very well might spur the next big North American foodie fad. Either that or win vegans a massive new wave of converts.

2. Another fad, this one on the rise with brides-to-be, has been popular in Europe for years and makes healthy women look like hospital walk-outs. Called the K-E diet, this ten-day crash plan involves hosing a nasogastric feeding tube through your nose, down your throat, and into your stomach, carrying around a purse filled with powdered protein, and swearing off all solid foods in the name of 10% body-weight loss in order to fit into a dress you’ll, luckily, wear only once. And we thought Atkins was pushing his luck with the whole zero carbs thing.

3. In a sadly no-shit sort of health report, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study online Monday that shows us through international comparison that our fast food is astronomically salty. Included in the research, along with McDonald’s, were Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, Subway, and Domino’s in the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. We swept the competition. Take, for one, our McNuggets. They’re two-and-a-half times saltier than British McNuggets. But a stark sodium reduction doesn’t seem to stop Brits from inhaling them as often as Yanks do. Why not follow suit?

4. The culprit of April’s sushi Salmonella outbreak has been pinned down at last as a pink-slime-reminiscent seafood additive or stand-alone, known as “tuna scrape” among the very few people who actually knew it existed. These flakes of tuna backmeat scraped from bones, nearly 60,000 pounds of which have been recalled by the distributor responsible for disseminating the tainted product, is commonly used to make the spicy tuna rolls sold at grocery stores and some restaurants. You might want to steer clear from those prepackaged set-ups for a bit. Or, depending on how squeamish you get after tallying up the number of cylindrical fish burgers you’ve eaten, for forever.

5. In an effort to repopulate water habitats that may have been damaged by years of nickel mining in northern Ontario, the Vale mining company has been hatching and farming rainbow trout for the past five months. On Thursday, the first 4,000 fish were released into the Onaping River, and, now, the company’s ready to take their project to a more familiar arena: underground. With the heat needed to raise trout occurring naturally in caves, an underground fish farm is perfect for Canada. Vale has also been growing tree seedlings, for purposes similar to those of the hatchery, in a Creighton mine that will also house the trout, whose waste will fertilize the trees. A first-of-its-kind restorative aquaculture spearheaded by the mining company responsible for environmental depletion — only in Canada.

6. As if to advertise their self-awareness of the crude humor inherent in the new-age peddling of nuts, Planters has joined forces with Men’s Health magazine to advertise a new snack mix as super manly by putting costumed nuts in stereotypical masculine action-movie scenarios. All things considered, its post-postmodern jab at ad campaigns bloated with hetero-normative masculinity is admirable, albeit a slightly annoying departure from the be-monocled, be-caned, top-hatted bachelor of Planters’s gentlemanly past.

7. How many times will a child be served alcohol at an Olive Garden before Olive Garden starts an employee screening process designed expressly to make sure only people who can tell the difference between berry juice and rum cocktails are hired? The answer has to be “more than twice,” because a ten-year-old boy drank half a rum cocktail that was placed in front of him at an Indianapolis Olive Garden on Thursday. The employee, who was serving a table of people who ordered no booze, has rather predictably “been terminated.”

8. As if the beef industry needs any help, 30 lawmakers — many of whom hail from beef states — wrote to the USDA on Thursday, scraping and supplicating, asking that they talk to the public on behalf of the beef industry to clear up the pink slime misinformation campaign, dispel the surrounding unfounded hysterics and emotion, and convince people that LFTB is and always has been good and pure and right. And saturated with aqueous ammonia.

9. The domestic spending cuts put forth by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee were approved by a congressional panel Wednesday, potentially reducing SNAP’s benefits by $33 billion over the course of a decade, pending the Senate’s upcoming verdict. Democrats maintain the Republican-backed cuts are designed to avoid defense reductions and tax hikes and to sidestep an automatic, comprehensive $98 billion spending cut set to engage in January, whereas Republicans say it’s that they support stricter food stamp qualifications in the face of the undeserved over-enrollment driving up SNAP spending. The old “more guns or more food for the poor” debate…

10. The New York Times ran a slightly bewildering article Tuesday which discussed the fallacy of both food deserts and the link between poor urban neighborhoods and childhood obesity, fallacies supposedly evidenced by two recent studies on food accessibility in low-income areas. The Chicago Tribune followed up by reporting on the resultant debate. In the end, it seems that the studies have been at least partially discredited by admittedly small sample sizes and occasionally unreliable data, as well as by one research author’s claim that “you can get basically any type of food” within a couple miles of any urban area at any one of the many supermarkets, grocery stores, full-service restaurants, convenience stores, and fast-food joints often unavailable in affluent neighborhoods. He means those neighborhoods populated by people with multiple cars, a lot of gas, and one job.


Photo: Jorn Eriksson