Ripping on the USDA's New Graphic, Whispering About Stumptown

Categories: Talking Points
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Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.
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1. No more food pyramid.
After several years and $2 million in research, the USDA released its new nutrition graphic last week to replace the much-maligned food pyramid, and the commentary is rolling in. In the Chron this Sunday, alpha-nutritionist Marion Nestle declared that she has a few reservations about the MyPlate graphic but, in general, she's for it: "The plate does a better job of reflecting current thinking about healthy diets than previous guides," she writes. "Its four sectors are unequal. Vegetables get the most space, and dairy -- a discretionary choice -- is off to the side."

Rene Lynch at the L.A. Times thinks it's ugly but functional. She asks a good question, though: Where's dessert? (Okay, she also asks a serious question: Where are the good fats?) The New American asks: Where's the cheeseburger? After all, it argues, Michelle Obama likes eating them. And at the Atlantic, Steven Heller says he thinks the infographic lacks enough info to be effective.

2. Scandal in the coffee world. Granted, it doesn't affect S.F. yet, but the Web is alight with gossip and intrigue over the future of Portland-based Stumptown Roasters, one of the country's best artisan roasters and certainly one that has shaped the current generation's approach to buying beans directly from farmers and marketing through indie channels. According to several stories reported by the New York Times' coffee columnist, owner Duane Sorenson has taken on a new investor, whom he calls a pal, to fuel expansion. But the owner of another coffee company tells Portland alt-weekly Willamette Week that Sorenson sold 90 percent of the business to TSG Consumer Partners, a large investment firm that has been approaching other artisan roasters, telling them it wants to buy them all and consolidate. When asked to refute the charges, Stumptown appears to be waffling. Stay tuned for updates.

3. Today's Most Depressing Story. Food industry reporter and former Gourmet contributing editor Barry Estabrook, who has written articles and a book about horrific labor conditions in the Florida tomato fields, has more bad news. While major fast-food companies have agreed to pay one cent more per pound to (radically) improve the quality of life of the fieldworkers, almost all the major grocery chains, including Trader Joe's, have rejected the agreement. The only one to sign on is Whole Foods. Is a letter-writing campaign soon to follow?

4. Reviewing Calendar. When I tweeted out the link to yesterday's column explaining why three print critics reviewed the same restaurant in the same week, Kunda Eats sent back a link to its Restaurant Review Tracker, a detailed chart of which S.F. restaurants have been reviewed in print, by whom, and when. I, for one, am bookmarking it.

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