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Food News

Silicon Valley wants to give us eggs without chickens, and meat without animals. Do we want that?

The New Food Economy | Posted on March 8, 2018

Just is at the forefront of an industry-wide arms race to reinvent the future of protein as we know it—a push toward products we’ll readily accept as meat, but that don’t require animals to be sacrificed on the altar of our hunger. These “alternative” proteins are about to hit the American market in two varieties, both of which manage to sidestep the messier realities of the farm and slaughterhouse. First, there are “plant-based” proteins, vegetable-derived simulacra that convincingly mimic the taste and texture of animal flesh. Just’s eggless scramble is one example, though the best-known example may be the Impossible Burger, an eerily meat-like plant burger that oozes with soy-derived “blood” to approximate the texture of medium-rare ground beef. Though that product is still in limited release, Beyond Meat, Impossible’s primary competitor, has started selling its futuristic “plant-based meat products”—an oxymoron if ever there was one—in stores across the country. Companies like these hope their next-generation meat substitutes will see the same success in the meat case that soy and almond milks—even oat, pea, and algae milks—have already seen in the dairy aisle. “Clean meat,” on the other hand, is real, biological meat. But rather than harvest it from the bodies of living animals, clean meat companies grow it from cultured cells inside a lab. Memphis Meats, a food technology startup that promises “meat without slaughter,” has received backing from Tyson, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson. These products aren’t commercially available yet, but they’re close on the horizon if corporate promises can be believed: Memphis Meats says its first cultured beef product will be available in supermarkets by 2021, and Just has pledged to sell its “clean” chicken by the end of 2018. Call it the alt-protein revolution. It’s coming, and faster than you might think.


McDonald's: We will "Go Big" on fresh beef marketing

Ad Age | Posted on March 8, 2018

After years of preparation, McDonald's is ready to serve fresh, cooked-to-order beef in many of its burgers, backed by what promises to be a lot of marketing. It's the latest signal the world's largest restaurant chain is responding to what customers want. The Golden Arches is gearing up for the national debut of fresh (as opposed to frozen) quarter-pound beef patties, which comes one year after McDonald's announced its "hot off the grill" plans and four years since the world's largest restaurant began working on it. Fresh quarter-pound patties are now in about 3,500 U.S. restaurants and most of the rest of the Golden Arches' 14,000 U.S. locations should have them by early May.


Possible food stamp replacement worries grocers nationwide

WTOL | Posted on March 7, 2018

A federal proposal to replace food stamps with what is called "America's Harvest Boxes" is worrying some small grocers in towns across the nation. President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget includes a proposed change to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, most often referred to as food stamps. The program would trade food stamps for boxes of food."On reading about this federal proposal it does concern us in that we are a meal program that does accept food stamps from clients," Carolyn Fox with Mobile Meals of Toledo said. "A lot of them pay with their food stamps and that's all of their food stamps so hopefully they could still use those totally to support their meal program, because these people aren't people that could go out and like I said get food."Many small grocers say exchanging food stamps for "America's Harvest Boxes" could hurt not only their bottom line, but also shoppers' nutrition.


Food stamp benefits are already too low in 99 percent of U.S. counties

The Washington Post | Posted on March 1, 2018

Researchers found that in 99 percent of counties those meals regularly cost more than even the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In Manhattan, for instance — home to nearly a quarter-million food-stamp recipients — SNAP allows $1.86 per meal, while the average meal costs $3.96. The reports add to a growing body of evidence that SNAP benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. In light of the Trump administration’s calls to reduce spending in the program, advocates are pointing to studies like this to argue that the program cannot take further reductions.


Amid rise in craft brewing, legislators mull changes to laws on self-distribution, barrel caps

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2018

With the popularity of craft beer on the rise, state legislators across the nation have been re-examining their laws to allow for greater growth in the industry, from statutory changes that help increase production to the removal of restrictions on self-distribution. That trend has continued in 2018, with South Dakota and Kansas among the states exploring proposals to assist craft brewers.


Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Dannon’s “Natural” Label

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on March 1, 2018

The Court found the Plaintiff’s claims to be conclusory–based on her feelings that GMO products were not natural.  Further, she offered no evidence of the feed actually fed to cows whose milk was used to make Dannon yogurt; instead, she based her case on her own speculation that because most of the milk in the United States is from cows given feed with GMO ingredients, the milk used by Dannon to make the yogurt she purchased was from cows fed GMO corn.  Further, she offered no evidence that she was unaware that the products were not wholly produced by milk from cows fed no GMOs.  On the contrary, statements by Dannon that they were “working with feed suppliers and farmer partners to start planting non-GMO feed…”, along with a host of surveys on this topic offered as evidence by the Plaintiff indicated she did have information that Dannon’s products were like from cows fed GMO feed. As the Court explained, “Plaintiff does not allege that any ingredient used in the products is unnatural; her claim is that, several steps back in the food chain, there may have been something unnatural ingested by a cow….There is no legal support for the idea that a cow that eats GMO feed or is subjected to hormones or various animal husbandry practices produces ‘unnatural’ products.”


'Cows lives matter' protest in meat section gets protesters kicked out of Madison grocery store

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on March 1, 2018

Protesters chanting "cows lives matter" in front of steaks, roasts and ground chuck were kicked out of an East Side supermarket Saturday, the same store they protested in last Thanksgiving over turkeys.The protesters, one playing a guitar, loudly chanted "murder" and "cows lives matter" while filling the aisle in front of the meat display."The store manager said the protest prevented customers from making purchases, so she told the animal rights activists she was calling police," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.The protesters left the store and went across the street, where police talked to them.


Not just elections? Russia meddles in GMO debate, too

The New Food Economy | Posted on March 1, 2018

English-language Russian news outlets are publishing high volumes of articles that portray genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in a negative light. In 2016, Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik published more articles that mentioned GMOs than the Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, and Breitbart News combined. Russian coverage consistently played on vulnerabilities in the American GMO discussion. And unlike United States-based coverage, which was mixed on pro- or anti-GMO stance, Russian coverage was almost unanimously anti-GMO. In fact, many of the GMO mentions in Russian outlets appeared in stories that were only tangentially related (or completely unrelated) to agriculture and genetic engineering. For instance, a story about Zika virus-infected fetuses included a link that enticed readers to “READ MORE: GMO mosquitoes could be cause of Zika outbreak, critics say.” The researchers categorized those tangential mentions as “click bait.”


How might Trump’s food box plan affect health? Native Americans know all too well

NPR | Posted on February 27, 2018

The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable — i.e. not fresh — foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them. Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have historically received, with devastating implications for health.  Since 1977, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has bought nonperishable foods to distribute on Indian reservations and nearby rural areas as part of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. The program was designed as an alternative to SNAP for low-income Native Americans living in remote areas without easy access to grocery stores. The food boxes delivered were filled with canned, shelf-stable foods like peanut butter, meats and vegetables, powdered eggs and milk.  "If you talk to people like me who grew up solely on this stuff, you hear stories of 'I never even tasted a pineapple or real spinach' — you didn't taste these foods until you were older," says Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Both of her parents worked full time, but "it just wasn't enough to support a family," she says. They relied on government provisions for meals. Breakfast was often a grain like farina served with powdered milk with water. "A lot of times we had mashed potato flakes — you add water, too — and maybe canned peaches, and if you had any vegetables, it was canned. And that was pretty much it."  The effects of this kind of government commodities-based diet can be seen all around Indian country, says Jernigan, now a University of Oklahoma researcher who studies the impacts of food environments on Native American health. "There's even a name for it — it's called 'commod bod.' That's what we call it because it makes you look a certain way when you eat these foods."


Illinois Governor Drinks Glass of Chocolate Milk to Prove Commitment to Diversity

The Cut | Posted on February 26, 2018

Today in unfortunate food analogies, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner took a big gulp of chocolate milk to demonstrate his commitment to workplace diversity during a Black History Month celebration. Standing on stage alongside Hyatt Hotels executive Tyronne Stoudemire, Rauner was eager to mix the Hershey’s chocolate syrup — an apparent metaphor for marginalized communities — into the glass of milk in his hand.“This chocolate syrup represents diversity: women; people of color; people with disabilities; the aging population; and generation X, Y, and Z,” Stoudemire said before squeezing a big glug of syrup into Rauner’s milk. As soon as the chocolate settled on the bottom of the glass, Stoudemire noted: “Diversity sits at the bottom of the organization.”


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