in Extra Matter

Eat This Newsletter 072 Hand crafted

I know it’s only marketing, but a little something inside me dies at the loss of a useful word like artisan. Culture watcher extraordinaire Grant McCracken confirms the loss, with a link to a television advertisement for McDonald’s McCafé. Go watch it, and see whether you agree that “the artisanal theme is beginning to run out of steam.”

Staying, for a moment, with food trendiness, the Prime Minister of Malaysia created a major storm when he told a live TV interview “I have to control (my eating). For example, I don’t eat rice, but quinoa. My son introduced me to quinoa, a food from Peru.” A predictable backlash from local-rice-loving political opponents ensued. There are a couple of interesting things about this farrago. One is the assumption that quinoa is a staple food, just like rice. We know that it isn’t. More interesting, and kudos to Malaysiakini for following up, the Prime Minister’s son introduced quinoa to more than his dad. He also introduced it to the country. Nice celebrity endorsement, for those Malaysians who can afford quinoa.

SNAP benefits are under fire again. Thanks to President Trump for hoisting aloft his replace-food-stamps-with-canned-food kite, because it prompted a really interesting post from Jonathan Katz: What Does Disability Have To Do With Cooking?. A rant on Twitter attracted lots of comments, and because it mentioned disabilities, part of Jonathan’s day job, some of the responses were from people with disabilities. Those are the basis of his blog post, which I found extremely informative.

Marion Nestle has also weighed in on SNAP, aka food stamps, but this time I’m thanking her for a link to a new report, Reaping What We Sow: How the Practices of Industrial Agriculture Put Our Health and Environment at Risk. I have not yet had time to read any more than the executive summary, but Marion Nestle says “If you are interested in understanding how our current agricultural system came about, what problems it causes, and what to do about them, this report is an excellent place to start.” That’s good enough for me.