Friday, December 4, 2020

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The Dish

Good news, political food and food trends

3/4/2020

And you thought we had a problem with farm-raised salmon?

The newest Year of the Rat infested the world with new forms of dread and old ways of spreading them. Food, it turned out, was the most likely cause for the coronavirus. And that’s not a Mexican beer joke. Just as civets (a dozen different mammals best known in America for digesting and crapping the world’s most expensive coffee beans) spread the 2003 SARS virus from horseshoe bats to humans, the pangolin (a prehistoric looking anteater armored in scales) is suspected of bringing coronavirus to humanity.

Many high-minded Americans tout the logic of eating all forms of edibles to reduce the problems of industrial pig and cow farming. The Asians and Central Africans though take this theory to Andrew Zimmern levels of practice. Coronavirus has revealed that rodents, yak, snakes and even porcupines are commonly sold in markets in China. Eating civet is still practiced because it’s considered a cure for arthritis and poor blood throw. Pangolin also is used in Chinese medicine.

Rather than decreasing after SARS, the sale of wild animal meat is actually growing in China, probably because of Internet marketing. Two streaming celebrities, the Huanong Brothers, now raise the formerly wild bamboo rat domestically. And you thought we had a problem with farm-raised salmon?

On another front, the Asian carp seemed unphased by U.S. efforts to keep it from overwhelming the eco systems of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. After 15 years and more than $600 million of effort at eradicating them, the carp still rule the river. On a happier note, Minnesota began a plan to pay homeowners to plant plants that attract bees. High-end lawn-mowing manufacturers seemed to be the only losers.

After canceling the World Pork Expo last year because of concerns about African swine fever, the National Pork Producers Council plans to hold the three- day event in Iowa in June, saying U.S. biosecurity has been strengthened.

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THE GOOD NEWS

January is always the deadest month for new restaurant openings. There are too many financial incentives in opening before a new year. Jersey Mike’s opened a new store on E. University. Hy-Vee grocery stores ended 24-hour service at most locations throughout the 265-store chain, including Des Moines. That’s good news because they did it without cutting any jobs… Gameday KCFS opened on Merle Hay Road… Stensland Family Farms in Larchwood verified that their decision to cut back on milking and instead expand into a creamery and direct marketer has been successful. Got to love their tagline — “Remember, it’s always cheaper in the country.”

POLITICAL FOOD

Republicans and Democrats not only share different ideological views, but it looks like they also share different diets. According to Lifesum, a research company, states that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 eat the most red meat, while states that voted for the Democratic ticket have the most vegans.

FOOD TRENDS

Whole Foods announced their idea of 2020’s biggest food trends. Number one is something called regenerative agriculture. Whole Foods defines that as “farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits.” They recommend turmeric, grass-fed beef and Cowgirl Creamery products to that end.

Second on their list are super flours such as tigernut, coconut and cauliflower. Third is West African foods like moringa (called super kale), ginger juice and pepper medleys. Fourth comes refrigerated snack foods, which means snack foods too fresh and perishable for the checkout line. Rounding out their top five was soy-free vegan foods. They listed vegan spanakopita, hearts of palm cake and soy-free fish sauce among the ways to join this trend. ♦

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