Eat the Week National: Meat’s Mystery Revealed and Mormons Made to Imbibe
1. If you’re like us, prone to reading nutrition labels while browsing grocery aisles, checking sodium content and comparing grams of protein, chances are you notice whether a food product has that all-informative stats sticker and get upset when one doesn’t. It’s the mystery, the shuttered window that peeves, and this week the USDA pulled up the blinds on raw meat. A mandate went into effect Thursday requiring packaged ground meats and most cuts — including steaks, chops, roasts, breasts, lamb, veal — to be labeled with nutritional facts. It used to be voluntary, the labeling, since 1993, but now the middlemen who decide what’s optional or obligatory want to look good in the eyes of consumers, tossing meat producers and processors under the bus by siding with this brand new trend. You know, the one where people pay attention to what they put into their bodies? Brand new.
2. Since we’ve established a common bond, investigating food labeling, perhaps you’d care to be informed of a little known fact: Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus includes in its list of ingredients chickpeas, spinach, artichoke, garlic, and baby Godzilla toes. Count yourselves among the lucky, because Andrew Brodsky of NYC, an unlucky soul, found out the hard way. While snacking on the dip back in September, Brodsky felt a scraping against his tongue only to discover as the culprit an unidentifiable greenish digit. He’s now, obviously, suing. On a humorous side note: Brodsky’s lawyer offers as evidence of trauma Brodsky’s ensuing months-long inability to eat packaged, processed foods, which has left him eating — the horror! the injustice! — only fresh, whole foods.
3. A few folks at NPR decided to put Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” slogan to the test this week, realizing shortly after their experiment the disappointment that comes with actually getting all your wishes fulfilled for a mere $10. Their “way”: burger, chicken, fish, fries, onion rings, cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce, onions, tomato, and a slice of apple pie, all stacked and packed on a sesame seed bun. Despite the claim that this surf-and-turf-and-sky monster, if ordered, is unequal to the sum of its parts and that it’s best eaten in the style of wine tastings, don’t you still kind of want to try it, then see what else “your way” can fit between two pieces of bread and two sore mandibles?
4. Well, finally, we’re moving closer to that amazing future created for us by sci-fi movies from the ’80s. No, not hovering stuff. Street-side dispensers of cupcakes, of course. Sprinkles, of Los Angeles, has installed a 24-hour baked goods ATM, for you and your pooch. Now, all we need is a 24-hour milk fountain.
5. The USDA’s inspector general motioned this week that the National Organic Program, the group responsible for deeming foods organic and stamping them as such, should probably make sure super expensive milk thought by shoppers to be organic is, in fact, organic. Some of the report’s directives: have certifying agents conduct surprise inspections, have certifying agents check for GM materials, have certifying agents prevent sharing of equipment between non-organic and organic milk transporters, and have certifying agents do their jobs a little better.
6. Convinced tofu is just an undifferentiated meat substitute or a bland food canvas or firmer packing peanuts for Asian dishes? Buy yourself a copy of this new slab by food writer Andrea Nguyen — Asian Tofu — which excels at proving tofu’s versatility, variety, and va-va-voomness, even to meat-eaters. Peek at some recipe previews, too, like Tea-Smoked Tofu with Pepper and Pork or Indian chillas with soybean paneer. Get unconvinced…
7. And then convinced of the existence of Satan (that is, a chocoholic’s incarnation of Satan, who smashes self-restraint into a thousand crackly pieces of toasted rice with a hammer made of steam-compressed mint leaves). The Girl Scouts have teamed up with Nestle to produce an unholy mash-up of Thin Mints and Crunch bars, out in June, according to a snapshot posted on Reddit Tuesday. We’re all doomed.
8. One of the guys behind Virgin Airline’s TV channel, Boing Boing, just finished seven months’ work on a promotional video/anti-overfishing video for the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant, Portland’s Bamboo Sushi. Handmade figures and sets tell the “Story of Sushi,” which, believe it or not, is a huge downer. The little people are cute, though, if that helps make you want to watch it.
9. Ben & Jerry’s has been squeezing out some offensive flavors as of late — first “Schweddy Balls,” then Jeremy Lin’s limited-run “Taste the Lin-sanity.” The latter, though, fielded valid complaints of ridiculously broad, continental stereotyping (i.e., the frozen yogurt featured fortune cookie pieces and lychee honey), and after a short shelf-life, at a single location in Boston’s Harvard Square, Ben & Jerry’s yanked it and profusely, if not eloquently, apologized via Twitter Saturday. Prediction: Colbert pipes up with fake complaints about “AmeriCone Dream” being made with vanilla ice cream.
10. For all those not native to Utah or for those who’ve never been, you should stop complaining about bars closing at 2:00 A.M. and being unable to buy liquor at any old run-of-the-mill corner store. Utes got it pretty rough on the booze front. But the Land of the Latter-day Sainters is soon to see some loosening of belts and liquor laws, just a bit, provided the passing of a House Bill advanced last Friday which stipulates at least two of the five members of Utah’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission be regular drinkers of alcohol. A resounding yes to HB 193!