Summer Food Festivals, Product Placement, and the Mysteries of Meal Snap

Categories: Talking Points
Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Mark your summer calendar. Every year I swear I'm going to make it to events like the Fiesta Filipina and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral's Taste of Greece but always forget. Poor Taste Magazine just posted a 2011 calendar of food festivals around the Bay Area -- including SF Chefs (August 1-7), Hayward's Zucchini Festival (Aug. 20-21), and both street food festivals -- worth plugging into the calendar. In addition, Chowhound has a running thread listing dozens more food events such as Vallejo's Adobo Festival (July 9-10) and Festival de Comida Peruana (July 24). Scroll down about two-thirds of the way through the thread to get to the summer and fall festivals.

2. What you see is what you're likely to eat. Yesterday, PBS's Marketplace had a segment about the research supermarkets and food companies put into product placement, sending subtle signals that persaude shoppers to buy more food. Now, University of Pennsylvania professor Karen Glanz is researching how to use the same strategies to encourage people to make healthier choices. Just moving a healthy food to eye level can make a big difference, for example.

3. Meal Snap: Not a hoax, it seems. The Wall Street Journal exposes at least part of the mystery behind the strange Meal Snap iPhone app -- you feed photos of your meal into the app and it gives you an estimated calorie count a few seconds later. Not only is it right about half the time, which is more than I can say for Shazam, the app uses a combination of photo recognition software and live humans hired through Mechanical Turk.

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