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The Crumb for August 11th, 2017

Lori Bailey / August 11th 2017

Today's Crumb dropped while looking up the nearest taiyaki truck.


Happy Friday!  Grab a wholesome, farm-to-desk lunch or snack, and settle into this past week’s food news.


Like traffic on a Friday afternoon

Impossible Burger’s hit a bit of a slowdown, too. The high-tech venture capital company is making a splash with an alt-meat that looks, smells and tastes just like real beef. It’s attracted the attention of Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures, plus investors in Hong Kong and Singapore. But the F.D.A. will not be so easily wooed. The federal agency is contending with Impossible Foods’ claims that the magic ingredient in its mix, soy leghemoglobin, is a compound that’s safe for humans to eat. The company, on the other hand, says it’s gone above and beyond the F.D.A.’s requirements in providing documentation of its lab tests. An example, perhaps, of why we don’t see many tech-driven food startups with products on the consumer market: while the tech industry may be cruising in the fast lane, government regulations might have trouble keeping up.


Buzzless booze

Might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true: there’s a growing interest in drinks (for adults, if you please) that deliver big on taste without the buzz. This “non-alc” category, fueled by the craft beverage movement and consumers pursuing healthy lifestyles, is being picked up by smaller makers and larger manufacturers alike. While Budweiser and Heineken are putting out low and zero-ABV beers, non-alcoholic distiller Seedlip is garnering plenty of attention with its balanced, sophisticated spirits. Although an increasing number of people are abstaining for health, stage-of-life, or preference, that doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice on taste and experience. That’s the opportunity these companies hope to capitalize on… and consumers and investors alike are drinking it up.


Building brighter futures, cup by cup

As you peer, bleary-eyed, at the promise of life-giving espresso being expertly poured behind the counter, you might not be thinking of supporting impoverished youths. Thankfully, Starbucks is — and in stores like this one in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle, they’re aiming to run business as usual while giving underserved young people and adults essential job skills. By partnering with other businesses in the community, Starbucks hopes to give trainees a launching pad from which they can successfully enter the workforce. And they’re not the only ones. The Town Kitchen, a startup in Oakland, is providing culinary job training for neighborhood 16 to 24-year-olds as they prep and deliver lunches. These are candidates who might have otherwise been neglected owing to backgrounds colored with domestic abuse, homelessness, or incarceration. Given the tools to do meaningful work, plus a support system as they transition into new jobs and enterprises, both businesses and individuals benefit — not to mention their greater communities. Win, win, win.


The Asian dessert invasion

When it comes to gorgeous, inventive, over-the-top desserts, Asia is home to the reigning champs. Think Hong Kong bubble-waffle sundaes, Thai ice cream rolls, Taiwanese bubble tea floats, Japanese taiyaki soft-serve, Filipino shaved ice… and the parade of jaw-dropping, mouth-watering sweets goes on and on. Often inspired by Western delicacies, these treats find new identity in the creativity and cultural perspectives of Asian innovators. In fact, show-stopping desserts may find particularly fertile ground out East, as many Asian cultures have long traditions of incorporating texture and aesthetic into the overall experience of food. All the more reason to make them as crazy and social-media-worthy as possible. Pass the Chinese ice cream buns, pose for a photo.

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