Thursday, May 04, 2023

Food News

Interesting trends and fads in food have been the subject of several recent articles. Restaurant news maybe should make me feel put down because I rarely go out to eat any more when I am at home, but a couple of bits of restaurant news have amused me with their exaggerated trendiness. Also, I’ve been reading a bit about environmental issues related to the food supply. Here are a few summaries (with links if you want to read the full articles).

Veggie Burgers

Thank God, Veggie Burgers With Actual Vegetables Are Making a Comeback by Bettina Makalintal in Eater is about fake meat and its rise and decline. This topic reminded me how three years ago, when our household decided to reduce the amount of meat we were buying, we often purchased imitation meat -- specifically, Beyond Burgers -- and quickly got tired of them. Later, we experimented with the Impossible brand of artificial meat. Our use of Impossible meat lasted longer, but we've also become tired of this product. I think we have learned how to create more vegetable-based meals without meat substitutes. The article points out a general decrease in demand for these artificial products and the corresponding corporate losses. It seems that a lot of people had parallel experiences to ours. 

This article notes the decline of fake meat on fast food menus:

"Its many problems aside, corporate fast food is a good indicator of consumer interest. What it puts on the menu is what it assumes to be appealing to a broad swath of American consumers. (It’s clearly not always right, as is the case with its unsuccessful fake meat experiments.) But this big reappearance of the definitely-vegetables burger suggests that people are interested in a return to form after trying out tech burgers. ... Finally, fast food brands are recognizing what vegetarians have long known: There is so much potential in making real, recognizable vegetables and legumes taste good, in patty form, without the need to approximate beef."

In photo: Impossible Meatballs that I made last year. I guess I'm not doing that any more! If I have to have meat, it will be real meat, and mostly I'll try to eat vegetables.

Luxury Bread

Goodbye to the Bread Basket. Hello to the Bread Course by Rachel Sugar in the New York Times is subtitled: "Chasing a pandemic-era interest in lovingly made loaves, restaurants are charging a premium for bread that’s anything but filler." Baskets of house-made bread priced in the $20 range are now on the menu in fancy New York restaurants where I will never eat. However, it's always interesting to see what these self-satisfied and self-declared leaders in food trends are pushing this week. 

In the photo you can see one of Len's many bread baskets from last year. He made a French rye bread called Meteil, traditional in Auvergne, and a loaf of fougasse, a ladder-shaped olive bread from Provence. We love bread, and can see how this trend could emerge.


Are Beans Good for You? by Sally Wadyka, published in Consumer Reports in August, 2020, and updated this April, declares: "Lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and more offer unique health benefits." 

Specifically, as most of us know, beans provide protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Beans contain fiber, and also a carbohydrate called "resistant starch," which doesn't go right into your blood stream like other starch. (That's a good thing.) And besides having measurable health benefits, beans are cheap! It's always interesting to review the detailed facts about a familiar issue.

In the photo you can see my pantry shelf of various types of beans: black beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, and red kidney beans, destined for a variety of recipes. I try to rotate various bean dishes in our attempted vegetarian diet.

How bad is plastic wrap?

To Wrap Or to Not Wrap Cucumbers? by Chandrima Shrivastava and four other authors, published by Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, is a scientific research article about the environmental effects of plastic containers and wrappers for food packaging. It is very interesting and the conclusion is counter-intuitive: "using plastic wrapping for cucumbers clearly reduces the overall climate change impact." The research was very detailed, but here's the bottom line showing this reduction in climate change impact and how it can be measured:

"This is primarily because the benefit of a reduction in food waste is much more than the additional impact caused by the plastic wrapping. ... The benefit of using plastic packaging in reducing food waste is almost 4.9 times higher than the negative environmental impact due to the packaging itself. This impact will likely be larger, as we did not account for the reduced food waste at the consumer level due to wrapping. ... It was found that every single cucumber thrown away equals the impacts of the plastic packaging needed to wrap 93 cucumbers."

Another Threat to the Food Supply

Fungal attacks threaten global food supply, say experts by Damian Carrington, published in The Guardian, warns: “The impact of fungal disease is expected to worsen, the researchers say, as the climate crisis results in temperatures rising and fungal infections moving steadily polewards. Since the 1990s, fungal pathogens have been moving to higher latitudes at a rate of about 7 km a year.” So many threats, so little time!

Too many good things to read! I can't keep up.

Blog post © 2022, 2023 mae sander.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

My head is spinning. Wrapping cucumbers in plastic creates much less waste than if they are not wrapped? Oh my!

And I'm always interested in seeing what people are trying with bread.

eileeninmd said...

Interesting food post. I think I would prefer "real meat" meatballs too.
It is good to have a nice stock pantry, you have a nice selection of beans for your recipes. Len's breads all look delicious. Take care, have a great day!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Organic beans are good, but I buy the beans in packages and cook them as I want them. It may take longer, but I can multitask while the beans are soaking or cooking. Len's bread looks AWESOME!!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I told CJ the other day when she had a plant burger, there is nothing like real meat and if you want veggies, don't try to disguise them.

Marg said...

There's so many different aspects of all of these studies - food waste versus plastic waste, meat versus non meat. I haven't found a fake meat product that I can eat regularly. I would rather eat real meat or actual vegetables.

The bread looks amazing!

Jeanie said...

I saw that article about the bread course! Works for me!