Top Food News of 2012 Slideshow
December 21, 2012
Let’s review the entire year in food news, shall we?
First, Jamie Oliver exposed the lean beef trimmings in meat products and got everyone to call it pink slime, which prompted McDonald’s to drop it from their beef. Schools followed suit, factories closed, and now there’s a lawsuit against Oliver and ABC News from a former Beef Products, Inc. employee.
The Farm Bill was up for renewal over summer, but discussions stalled, meaning the bill expired. The biggest issue is the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps), as social workers and advocates worry about budget cuts to the program; data shows that more than 47 million people use the SNAP program. In the meantime, stalled discussions might also increase the price of dairy, as a 1949 farm law forces Washington to buy milk at inflated prices, which would cause dairy prices to rise across the board. Hopefully, Washington acts fast.
Foie Gras Ban
California’s foie gras ban went into effect in July, causing restaurants to find loopholes in the law (like serving it as a "complimentary" side, or having guests bring their own foie gras bought across the border). This resulted in a) a foie gras fest before the ban, and b) a lawsuit against restaurants shirking the law.
Around 80 percent of America’s agricultural land has been affected by the drought, leading to speculation that food prices will rise within the next to year for everything from beef to produce. According to the BBC, the grain crop yield is down 13 percent this year, meaning even bread and pasta will be more expensive than normal once the effects hit the market.
We always knew Chick-fil-A was owned by a conservative jackass, but Dan Cathy’s comments to the Baptist Press earlier this year really sealed the deal. When asked if he was supportive of maintaining a "traditional family" model, and not gay marriage, he said, "Well, guilty as charged." This statement spawned some media backlash, some supporters who decided to all go eat at Chick-fil-A on one day, another group who staged a same-sex kiss-in, at least two city officials who denounced the brand, and the general consensus that one must choose between a delicious chicken sandwich and gay marriage. For some, the choice was easy. For others, not so much.
Restaurants vs. Obamacare
With the passing of Obamacare, big restaurant chains began worrying about lowering their costs of health insurance for full-time workers. According to the changes, businesses with more than 50 employees must provide health care for each full-time worker who works more than 30 hours a week, or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each. Naturally, Darden restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden) decided to try out switching full-time workers to part time, and Papa John’s suggested cutting restaurant worker hours to below 30. And while the backlash from the public caused them to reconsider such stingy moves, another expert has found ways for restaurants to use the law to their advantage, by awarding good workers with above-30 hour work weeks, and punishing workers with a 29-hour workweek.
Charlie Trotter Closing, Ferran Adrià’s LaBullipedia
Ferran Adrià might have closed elBulli in 2011, but he’s still making big moves by launching LaBullipedia, a massive Web encyclopedia of food that he previewed at Harvard earlier this month. And another, more local chef, Charlie Trotter, decided to close his iconic Chicago restaurant to pursue graduate school, auctioning off the restaurant’s memorabilia and wine collection.