Eat the Week National: Reagan’s Contribution, Seattle’s Eden, and Rootworms’ Resistance
1. Where would we be today without Ronald Reagan’s vicious chin and actor’s poise posting up in yesteryear’s White House? (Don’t answer that.) Probably without one of the most American holidays (barely) known to humankind is the real answer. More American than Presidents Day, more American than Apple Pie Day — National Frozen Foods Day, celebrated on March 6 and instituted by Former President Reagan in 1984. In celebration, we advise you to go buy a boxed meal and nuke the living hell out of it, posthaste. Or at your leisure, really, because March is also, apparently, National Frozen Foods Month. Take advantage of that fact and proudly employ it as the default explanation for why, for the past week and a half, you’ve been eating green-bean niblets and Salisbury steak out of a plastic tray advertised explicitly to children by a snowboarding penguin. Also, for further self-defense ammunition, let it be known that Salisbury steak is capitalized because it’s named after its inventor, a man who happened to be a medical doctor. Bon appétit, all ye beautiful couch potatoes!
2. The Oreo turned 100 this week! A handful of reasons Oreos rule: 1) they’re vegan; 2) they hold up to dunking pretty well (provided you don’t linger in the milk); 3) they’ve been available in Double Stuf form since the ’70s; 4) the “worms in mud” homemade chocolate-pudding cup dessert would be seriously lacking essential textural contrast without them; 5) the super-limited white-chocolate encased, mint-filled Oreos were the single most delicious widely distributed cookie to ever grace Planet Earth and have left, seemingly, not one crumb of evidence they weren’t a figment of childhood fantasy. Now, go get some new Birthday Cake Oreos and eat an entire row. Better: eat 100.
3. Protestors in Taipei gathered Wednesday and Thursday in efforts to block import of US beef containing ractopamine, a feed additive designed to make meat leaner and, somehow, “meatier.” The European Union and China, in addition to Taiwan, hold strict bans on ractopamine content, despite the United States’ insistence the drug is safe. Many farmers, lawmakers, and general citizens of Taiwan are voicing opposition to the lifting of this ban, to the government’s less-than-clandestine attempts to smooth over trade-relations with the US and garner backing for inclusion in the coveted Trans-Pacific Partnership — an Asian trade agreement. Protests will likely carry well into next week.
4. We’re all familiar with tree-lawn veggies and community gardens, but one neighborhood of Seattle might soon be kicking it up a notch, with plans to convert a large, unused grassy plot into an entire harvestable “food forest.” The design comprises largely fruit and berry trees, but also nut-bearing trees, bee hives, edible perennials and annuals, herbs, and shrubbery, all arranged strategically to promote self-sustainability. For the first phase of the food forest, the organizers have been allocated two acres with which to work; hopefully, it will grow to seven acres, then making the Beacon Hill Food Forest our country’s largest community garden.
5. Sadly, Iowa passed a bill last Friday preventing whistleblowers from going undercover at concentrated animal feeding operations (or, CAFOs). Governor Terry Brandstad, the guy who signed it into existence, justified his actions by saying he felt gaining access to property by purposeful deception is “a very serious violation of people’s rights,” sort of implying that this bill is somehow necessary despite the existence of many unlawful trespass laws and despite all the awful behavior brought to light and halted, thanks to undercover whistleblowers. Much of Illinois expresses concern that a similar bill — tabled as of March 9 — will come to pass in their state.
6. Coca-Cola, along with Pepsi and every other maker of cola that combines sugar, ammonia, and sulfites to achieve the familiar brown color, was kind of crowd-forced into changing recipes this week simply to avoid having to put cancer warning labels on their cans and bottles. The caramel coloring 4-MI is the culprit, but, at the same time, it’s not. The FDA argues that the scientific evidence pointing to carcinogenic properties of 4-MI is shaky and that an insane amount of cola would have to be consumed for a human being to exhibit the levels of 4-MI found by the Center for Science in the Public Interest to cause cancer in mice. Not willing to risk absolute tarnishing incurred by printing the word “warning” right next to the word “cancer” on their products, beverage companies have acquiesced.
7. Craft beer in cans: current huge trend. Not sure why (cheaper? impervious to light?), but Sierra Nevada seems to think it’s a great idea, too. They premiered their Pale Ale in shorties and their wallop-packing Torpedo Extra IPA in tall-boys at Chicago’s Fountainhead on Tuesday. As long as the beer doesn’t end up tasting like aluminum, we’re down.
8. To ensure sailor preparedness, awareness, and — we’re guessing — sobriety, the Navy will begin randomly administering breathalyzer and urinalysis tests this month, according to a speech Monday by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Synthetic marijuana use is also a big problem, and resulted in 94 personnel dismissals last year alone.
9. This week, a group of pest experts wrote a letter to the EPA warning them about the genetically tenacious corn rootworm and the extremity of potential damage it could cause to the agricultural world — especially pest-resistant GM crops, to which the rootworm has somehow adapted. Monsanto responded by pretending to be wholly unconcerned, but a kernel of fear has certainly been planted, as they, and DuPont, plan on keeping a much closer eye on the rootworm this year. If GM corn is planted uninterrupted by non-pest-toxic corn, the rootworm will continue building resistance. And if that happens, the last resort would be heavy application of chemical insecticides. For Pete’s sake, won’t people start listening to entomologists?
10. The stress-relief magnets (huh?) known as Buckyballs (what?), and their co-conspirators Nanospheres (OK…), have been ripping up many, many children’s guts for years (wow). Two incidents involving accidental ingestion of these magnets resulted in extensive surgery this month. The most recent incident — a three-year-old in Oregon who swallowed 37 Buckyballs — was the subject of a report on NBC’s Today Friday morning, featuring the little girl, her family, and the little girl almost eating more Buckyballs on the air. Please stop making Buckyballs, Buckyballs.