Taiwanese Food Blogger Gets Jail, Trader Joe's Should Stop Feeding Dumpster Divers

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

1. Why I'm never becoming a restaurant critic in Taiwan. The Taipei Times reports that a local food blogger was sentenced to 30 days in jail and almost $7,000 in fines for writing that "the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches, and that the owner was a 'bully' because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams." Apparently, the owner was able to persuade the judge that none of this was true. Should we be setting up a collection for her?

2. Trader Joe's hates the poor. Jeremy Seifert, whose Dumpster-diving documentary, Dive!, is coming out next month, wrote an essay for Grist arguing that, given one in eight Americans is on food stamps, Trader Joe's should be donating all the free food he grabbed from its waste bins to people who need it. There's a publicity stunt petition, too, if you'd like to sign it.

3. Potatoes make you fat (kind of). Wall Street Journal reports on a new Harvard study that attaches a precise amount of weight that study subjects gained over the course of one year to specific foods that they ate. Potato chip eaters gained 1.69 pounds; people who drank sugary drinks daily gained 1 pound per year. Yogurt eaters, by comparison, lost 0.82 -- though it's not clear whether the yogurt caused them to lose weight or just being the kind of person who eats yogurt caused them to lose weight. Nevertheless, look for Jamie Lee Curtis to be making new health claims.

4. Sketched-Out Piedmont. Inside Scoop gets a follow-up interview with Alan Richman, the provocateur critic who just wrote a GQ piece hooting and hollering about San Francisco's food scene, to ask why he felt a desire to clutch a knife while walking from Commis to his car in the notorious Piedmont Avenue district of Oakland. Does his answer satisfy? Uh ...

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If a blogger or journalist writes something that is provably false and defamatory, and publishes it for the public, then it's libel. Libel is prosecutable here in the U.S. as well as in Taiwan. 


The incident happened in July 2008. It's been in the Taiwanese court system for a while. It reached the HIgh Court after she appealed the first ruling of 30 days in jail. The problem is Taiwan is pro-business. The blogger had photos as evidence. But she couldn't prove that the conditions happened everyday, or that every dish was too salty. Since she only dined once. So the High Court fined her 200,000 (almost US$7,700) for lost revenues. It's explained in this news report. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... (sorry, it's in Chinese)

I think their court system should be penalized for taking so many years to reach a final ruling on this silly case. Remember, this is the same country with politicians that throw chairs at each other. So stupidity is normal.


love the snarky and refreshing comments

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