Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Feed: September 3, 2014

It's September: time to eat some great apples.
The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.

Washington Post: “Unearthed: Small Vs. Large: Which Size Farm Is Better for the Planet?” by Tamar Haspel.
Haspel returns with another unearthed column, which is always a thought-provoking read. In an era where Big Ag is the Darth Vader to small, local farms’ Luke Skywalker, she dares to ask, which is really better for us. Not surprisingly, she finds reasons to root for, as well as change, both camps.

Washington Post: “Wine: 4 Bargain Bottles for Summer Sipping,” by Dave McIntyre.
McIntyre offers suggestions for four interesting wines, available in stores around the D.C. area for $10 to $17. Sounds like a good deal. The Merlot-Corvina blend from Italy sonds particularly interesting.

Washington Post: “Decoding Your Restaurant Menu,” by Steven Levingston.
Do you order your coffee “decaf” or “decaffeinated?” If the menu offers the latter, it’s probably charging you more for it, according to an analysis by linguist Dan Jurafsky, who studied restaurant menus and found that restaurants whose menus feature longer descriptive adjectives tend to charge more. Levingston’s article serves as a sort of preview for Jurafsky’s forthcoming book, The Language of Food, which I’m definitely getting excited to read.

New York Times: “Rethink Your Definition of ‘Salsa’,” by Mark Bittman.
“Salsa,” as Bittman points out, may mean “sauce” in Spanish, but it’s come to mean so much more in the food world, where it can describe a thick, liquidy puree to a chunky tumble with little moisture. Along with 12 great recipes divided into four salsa styles, Bittman also offers the line of the week: “A salsa is like pornography: You know it when you see it.”

NPR: “There's Much More to Apples Than Meets the Eye,” by Beth Novey.
By now, I think most of us are aware that there are plenty more apples to be had than just the red and green kinds—gala, honeycrisp and pink lady, for example, are pretty ubiquitous now. But there are many more types of heirloom apples out there. With apple season just starting to his us now, Novey’s article, which also details the apple’s great history, is a great reminder to try a new apple this season.

NPR: “Cutting Back On Carbs, Not Fat, May Lead To More Weight Loss,” by Allison Aubrey.
Given that the low-fat diet fad died a long time ago (to be replaced by the low-carb diet fads of the last decade), you’d think this wouldn’t constitute as “news.” However, since I’m much more a fan of science than fads, I appreciate that real research is now showing what many people (including me) have found through personal experience: if you want to lose weight, forgo the bread before the butter. Aubrey’s article suggests this strategy is also better for your heart.

NPR: “Real Vanilla Isn't Plain. It Depends On (Dare We SayIt) Terroir,” by April Fulton and Eliza Barclay.

I’m totally on board with ending the practice of equality “vanilla” with “boring,” when the complex spice is nothing but. Fulton and Barclay examine its globe-trotting history and also taste-test ice creams made with varieties grown in Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico.

Bloomberg Businessweek: “This Is How Much Salad Burger Chains Sell,” by Vanessa Wong.
It’s no surprise to me that fast-food burger chains sell few salads. Despite the fact that these restaurants sometimes tout the existence of said salads to show their dedication to healthy eating, who are they kidding? I’d no more walk into a McDonald’s to order a salad than I would go to an ice cream parlor in search of a banana. What did surprise me—and isn’t really the point of the article—is how fewer than 10 percent of all restaurant orders include either a main or side salad.

Wall Street Journal: “McDonald's Faces 'Millennial' Challenge,” by Julie Jargon.
I eat fast food all the time, but I haven’t stepped into a McDonald’s (or Burger King) in over a decade. Like a lot of people I know, I go to places like Chipotle and Sweetgreen. And I’m not alone, especially among Americans in their 20s and 30s, which Jargon writes are abandoning the golden arches for “fast-casual” concept restaurants.

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