The Food Section: School Lunch Safety, Chuck E. Cheese Brawls, and Other Food News

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First, the dispiriting/alarming news: USA Today publishes an investigative article on how America's fast food chains and Costco have far more stringent safety standards than the USDA's standards for school lunches. Most disturbing quote: "The limits Jack in the Box and other big retailers set for certain bacteria in their burgers are up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef."

Debate of the week: Last week, the San Francisco Bay Guardian ran a feature on the elitism inherent in the sustainable food movement. The crux of the story was that workers who make the sustainable-food movement possible subsist on wages that put the food they grow out of their price range. Over at Grist, farmer-writer Tom Philpott responds. He says it's easy enough to call Slow Food activists on the elitism implicit in the movement, but you also have to step back and look at why cheap industrialized food has become so prevalent: declining wages in America and outsourcing of manufacturing industries.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chuck E. Cheese restaurants are becoming more and more like UFC cages: While kids play Whack-a-Mole, their parents are finding Whack-an-Idjit more entertaining. (And this in a restaurant that doesn't serve booze.) Quote from CEC spokesperson: "We have a lot of birthday parties, where emotions run high, and these days, with family dynamics being what they are, a lot of stepmothers and fathers, they all get brought together at Chuck E. Cheese's." No word on how many prize tickets the fighter left standing gets.

OK, not to link to every long essay that Seattle food writer Jess Thomson posts, but today's post about teaching her grandmother and her friends over the phone how to roast vegetables killed me.

Lastly, the food story making the rounds of the blogs/Twitter: McSweeny's imagines what the transcript of a Paula Deen pole-dancing class would read like. A reminder that easy targets are still good targets.

 
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