Wednesday, April 30, 2014

News on the Food Front

For some reason there seems to be a lot of news about foods.  Allow me to pick the topics that are top of mind share   
Kale:  What is kale?  The dictionary supplied by my iPad says it is "a hardy cabbage of a variety that produces erect stems with large leaves and no compact head."  It has suddenly become very popular because someone or all of us collectively just realized it is incredibly healthy it is.  I am sure as kale production revs up, we can expect to see kale popping up in all kinds of products:  Kale flakes, kale oatmeal, kale cakes, etc. 
People just have to know that adding kale to a bad diet probably won’t have much impact.  This kale kraze reminds me of the oatmeal craze of the 1980s.
Limes:  There is a Lime shortage of all things.  Prices were something like 8 for $1.  Single limes are no selling for $.69 a piece and the limes available are smaller.  The shortage of limes is due to conditions in Mexico where a vast majority of our limes come from.  Torrential rains stripped trees of their blossoms at that critical time of the season.  Also, for several years, the citrus industry has been fighting a bacterium (lime disease?) that has reduced the yield.  Lastly, the Mexican drug cartel has been hijacking groves and shipments for reasons that are not entirely clear to me.
Some restaurants have stopped offering any citrus as beverage garnishes.  Others only offer lemon.  Hopefully, it is just a one season shortage.
Chicken:  It was announced earlier this year that we are no longer a country of beefeaters.  Chicken consumption has surpassed beef consumption for the first time in 100 years.  Chicken consumption has been steadily increasing since 1960 and beef consumption has been declining for the past ten years. Here is a brief summary of beef, pork, and chicken consumption in Annual Pounds per Capita in the US per the USDA.

This news made me craze grilled cilantro lime chicken but I will probably have to settle for some braised chicken and kale.
Tilapia:  My cousin David sent me an article claiming that eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon.  Per the article, most tilapia, a vegetarian African fish, is farmed.  The farming conditions around the world but especially in China are deplorable.  The fish are heavily concentrated and fed a diet of pig manure and other equally unsavory feed.  The health risks and low nutritional quality make these fish worse for us than bacon or so the article stated.
The same could probably be said about shrimp which for the most part is farmed these days and to a lesser degree salmon.  In fact, it has not been a good couple of years for beef. The Earth Policy Institute reports that:

“A shift that at its core is a story of natural limits?”  Gee that doesn’t sound good.  I hate the idea that the movie Soylent Green may have predicted our future!
Bacon:   We are not just talking about bacon here.  We are talking about battered and deep fried bacon.  Wow.  Is this really necessary? 
Where did I find such a delicacy?  I was at a networking breakfast a few weeks ago.  It was at a chain restaurant, an all you can eat buffet place.  I expected the worst.  But other than their battered deep fried bacon which was a new feature, I was impressed with the operation.  The restaurant was actually very well appointed, was very well run, and the offerings were all fresh and well stocked.  There was an omelette station, fresh fruit and all kinds of healthy options.  There were also all kinds of breakfast meats, breads and pastries.  One could eat healthy or not and most certainly one could overeat.  
Taco-Bell Beef:  Let’s end with some more beef news.  Recently, it became known that Taco Bell’s beef was at most 88% beef.  There were questions as to what the other 12+% was?  Taco Bell, as an example of horribly bad PR, announced that they additives "do have weird names," but they're all "safe and approved by the FDA."  Come on really?  This was their answer in 2014?  Needless to say the response was strong and negative.  It became the fodder for late night comics.
Today, April 29, they launched a website that explains what all the ingredients in their Taco Meat Mixture is:

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