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The Crumb for June 2nd, 2017

Lori Bailey / June 2nd 2017

Need a little comic relief? We’ve got you covered: enjoy these highlights of Italians getting angry about food.

 

It’s Friday! Sip on a craft mocktail—they’re all the rage these days—and settle into this past week’s food news.

 

Sunny-side on the up-and-up

It seems like we’ve been chowing on fancy avocado toast and enviously double-tapping photos of oozing egg yolks for, well, forever. In reality, it hasn’t been all that long since the breakfast dining trend took off. Restaurants began seeing an uptick in morning and lunch-time diners in the wake of the last recession, when people wanted more wallet-friendly options for eating out. Now, it’s the only day-part in recent years to see an increase in traffic. Safe to say that, these days, putting an egg on it fetches more of a premium. Also, look for restaurants’ interpretations of breakfast to shift as customers look to global flavors, healthful offerings, and more unconventional mediums (pizza, anyone?) to go with their coffees and bottomless mimosas.

 

The new Asian fusion

Move over, General Tso. While “authentic” ethnic foods are on the rise, Asian-American chefs are simultaneously exploring a different side to fusion cooking. Used to be that fusion foods simply sought the novelty of unexplored combinations (Ramen burgers! Korean tacos!), but these chefs have a more personal story to tell. Inspired by the foods of their childhood—often eclectic mashups of Eastern dishes and Western ingredients—they’re creating food that expresses a new generation. So keep an open mind: something as seemingly inauthentic as “dry aged beef potstickers” might just be redefining what “authenticity” actually means.

 

In the Spotlight: Our Food, Our World

Real talk: food is about more than mealtimes, food trends, and restaurants. So let’s take a minute to highlight these snapshots of the relationship between our food, our lives, and our world.

 

Life’s not quite a peach

Not in the South, anyway. An uncommonly warm winter in the Southeastern U.S., followed by a freak freeze in March, damaged much of this year’s peach crop. Translation: a devastatingly small harvest, which would be lucky if it amounted to one-fourth of last year’s total production. Bad news not only profits, but for workers; in an already temperamental industry, this year’s bad crop means lots of cut and canceled contracts. And, perhaps worst of all, it means no peach cobblers for Southerners this Fourth of July. Bummer.

 

Meat under heat

Americans sure like to be #1—and when it comes to global meat consumption, we've got that on lockdown. We’re projected to eat a whopping 217.8 lbs per capita this year alone. What most of us don’t realize is that, under current practices, global meat production is one of the planet’s biggest environmental threats. It constitutes 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and 30% of methane emissions. Talk about a big impact, not to mention a huge environmental blind spot for many consumers. So, when the prices of meat drop (as they’re expected to in the near future) and the industry pushes even more juicy cuts our way, how will we vote with our forks?

 

So let’s eat insects instead

We saw that grimace. Still seen in the Western world as a novelty ingredient best covered in chocolate and snuck into your younger sister’s trail mix, the trend of eating bugs hasn’t really caught on. A renegade team of mindful chefs and researchers, however, are trying to change that. A new book from the Nordic Food Lab (founded by Rene Redzepi) is the result of many kitchen experiments geared at elevating the humble insect to fine-dining-worthy fare. Why bugs, though? They’re currently being hailed as a possible solution to mitigate an imminent world food crisis, being rich in nutrients and ridiculously easy to produce en masse. And it’s not just about the big environmental benefits: the Amazonian ant, for example, carries a punch of lemongrass flavor so revelatory that it turned these chefs into insect evangelists. A lot of pros, then, for our six-legged friends, but they’ve still got a long way to go. The first review on Amazon says it all: there are still a lot of closed minds and closed mouths that need to be convinced.

 

Long read: From the city back to the farm

Across the globe, most rural communities are diminishing as people move to cities in search of higher-paying, less strenuous work. In Italy, though, a small but noticeable group is going against the grain by swapping the city for a farming lifestyle. Health, wealth and happiness are, after all, in the eyes of the beholder.


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