Ten Top Food News Stories of 2010: Part Two

by Sarah Henry on January 3, 2011 · 1 comment

in bay area bites,food businesses,food politics,food security,global cuisine,restaurant food

Yesterday on Bay Area Bites we highlighted the year’s food news in food safety, D.I.Y. food, food politics, school food, and street food.

The top ten for 2010 continues:

The crew from Phat Beets Produce, a food justice collective in Oakland. Photo: Zachary Matthews

6. Food Security

Late in the year in a cover story on class Newsweek explored the growing gap between the haves and have nots on the food front. “The Dinner Divide” noted that we are a nation where Gourmet Ghettos and food deserts co-exist, often in close proximity in places like the Bay Area. The sad truth is that while many of us indulge our “passion” for local, organic chow, an increasingly larger group of Americans simply don’t have access to enough healthy food to eat. Meanwhile, another European is attempting to help Americans in need feed themselves, namely Spanish native and James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Andres, who heads up the nonprofit DC Central Kitchen, which offers professional culinary training for formerly homeless, addicted, or imprisoned adults.

Local angle: Actor Dan Hoyle skewered, among other things, hipster San Franciscans obsession with pristine produce with a politically-correct pedigree in his solo show at The Marsh The Real Americans. Meanwhile, Phat Beets Produce, a volunteer-run collective, launched a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box, nicknamed the “Beet Box,” in Oakland, to help under-supported small farmers and get produce to people who don’t live near a farmers’ market.

Eataly in NYC. Photo: Megan Gordon

7. New York Food

Lest this list be accused of being too parochial, let’s turn our attention to food news out of New York City this year. There was lots, much of it of a legislative nature. Depending on your perspective, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is either a crusader for the people’s health or a publicly-funded no-fun-nik: The city took a stand on sodium, introduced letter grades to evaluate restaurant cleanliness, tried to prevent food stamps recipients from using benefits to sip soda, (a controversial move even among anti-hunger and public health advocates) and outlawed alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. Furthermore, a calorie count initiative in restaurants begun in the Big Apple went national on menus across the country this year.

There was fun stuff too: Hello Eataly, a high-end food emporium boasting all things Italian, launched late summer by the city’s reigning food Mafia, covered in a photographic homage recently on Bay Area Bites by Megan Gordon.

Local angle: San Franciscans welcomed Manhattan transplant Anthony Mangieri and his much-lauded Una Pizza Napolatana to town.

Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

8. Animal Food

Meat mattered this year. The culinary conversation among carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans continued as people pondered whether they could morally eat sustainably, humanely-raised animals and wrestled with conflicted or confused feelings about carnal consumption. Now more than ever how much and what kind of meat we eat reflects our ethics, environmental values, economic status, as well as class, culture, and convenience.

That said, butchers made a comeback, hosting cleaving parties from coast to coast. Meanwhile,the Meatless Monday campaign, which asks folks to forgo meat once a week for health and the environment, garnered the endorsement of celebrity chef Mario Batali, long-known for serving plates brimming with animal protein.

And in books and online vegetarian gals chronicled their carnal adventures as they discovered the joys of the flesh.

Then, just as the year drew to a close, New York Magazine announced that vegetables are the new meat, despite significant evidence to the contrary. Make of that what you will.

Local angle: A queen of vegetarian cuisine, East Bay resident Mollie Katzen, came out with a cookbook that included meat dishes, a decision she found herself explaining in every interview about Get Cooking.

While across the bridge the butcher’s shop in Bernal Heights Avedano’s Holly Park Market, run by self-taught female butchers, typifies the new-style yet old-fashioned meat market, offering cleaving classes using traditional tools and selling only local, sustainable meats. And the Oakland Unified School District hopped on the Meatless Monday bandwagon.

Photo: Stephanie Stiavetti

9. Sweet Food

Now to dessert (with all due respect to the First Lady): Move over cupcakes macarons are the new trend treat.

The Wall Street Journal reported on French fretting that these formerly high-end confections (not to be confused with chewy coconut sweets with a similar spelling known as macaroons) are finding their way onto shelves at such mainstream American stores as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The soft, sandwich-like cookie, which resembles a pastel-hued minature hamburger, has also been popping up in patisseries and restaurant menus around the country. Natch, the blogosphere weighed in, with negative reviews for the meringue-style pastries on offer at Starbucks, and an amusing update that cupcakes are the new macarons in Paris. Go figure. For you D.I.Y.ers: Pastry chef Hisako Ogita’s I Love Macarons details how to make these crunchy and chewy morsels at home.

Local angle: These dainty nibbles can be found in Bay Area bakeries including Miette in the Ferry Building, Paulette in Hayes Valley, Pamplemousse in Redwood City, and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.

Bay Area Bites blogger Stephanie Stiavetti sung the praises of these egg white, ground almonds, and sugar concoctions in a week’s worth of recipe posts on her own blog.

10. Virtual Food

Social media and cyberspace continued to impact food consumption. As noted previously (see item #5 in Part One), Twitter + new wave food trucks = content consumers and cooks. Everyone seemed very app-y happy, with Mark Bittman, the Food Network, and even Gourmet (R.I.P.) embracing the new technology. Not all old-school media, though, marveled at the development. (Ruth Reichl, writing on Twitter, ironically, called the move a “pity.”) Regardless, cooking, eating, and drinking apps found fans: There are apps for wine enthusiasts, environmentally-friendly eaters, and ethnic edible adventurers, among other food-focused iFinds. And, although some people doubted it would come to pass, cookbooks made the leap to ecookbooks in a big way in 2010.

Local angle: Budding Bay Area food businesses turned to social media to cash up their new edible enterprises. Examples include Awaken Cafe in Oakland, and an olive oil press and cheese-making venture that utilized Kickstarter to, well, kick start their companies in Berkeley. Early ecookbook adapters include Marin-based chef Eric Gower.

And over at 7×7 food editor Sara Deseran wondered out loud what a lot of local food writers have been thinking: With the explosion in new media — think Yelpers, bloggers, and Tweeters — is San Francisco suffering from a gluttony of information on all things edible?

What say you readers: Are there too many citizen scribes (not to mention a healthy helping of professional writers) weighing in on the minutia of every meal made in this city? Or does this town have an endless appetite for food news?

And that, folks, was the year in food.

This post originally appeared on KQED’s Bay Are Bites.

You might also like:

Spiral Gardens Helps Needy Feed Themselves
Mollie Katzen: Get Cooking Author Dishes
Five Fabulous Fruit Desserts
Something Fishy on Your Phone

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Melanie Haiken January 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Much more interested in sweet food than meat, myself, so really happy to see this included! Also appreciated your comment about the glut of information; I find myself more and more turning to friends and people I rely on for tips about restaurants and food because I get overwhelmed by all that’s out there and don’t know which to trust!

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