The Juicy Bits
It's been a rollercoaster summer in the food world. Supply chain issues persist, a strange pink sauce went viral on TikTok then got nearly canceled by its own fans, and a disturbing video of chopping onions brought the internet to its knees. A strange and scary place is the World Wide Web. If you sift through the online garbage, you'll also find out that the California Senate passed a landmark bill to regulate the fast food industry. Demand for grocery delivery is down 26% since 2020. And world food prices have actually been falling after reaching an all-time high last March. There's fun stuff too: A German chemist figured out how to make cold brew coffee in 3 minutes using laser beams. Pew-pew-pew! American single malt whiskey got a legal definition. I'll drink to that. And a Michigan materials scientist developed a way to recycle wind turbine blades into perfectly edible gummy bears. Say what?? Extra, extra...read all about it below.
How And Why To Cook With Citric Acid
Image Source: Farrah Skeiky
Ever taste Sour Patch Kids candy? That white powder on the surface is citric acid, a weak organic acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruits and makes you pucker. It's a staple in Arab cuisine (the secret ingredient in many shawarma sauces), and other chefs are starting to catch on. Pastry chef Paola Velez shares her tips for using citric acid to brighten up everything from tomato sauce and lemonade to cakes and ice creams.
California Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Regulate Fast Food Industry
Image Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images
CA Assembly Bill 257 is the nation's first of its kind. Dubbed the Fast Food Recovery Act, it would create a Fast Food Council to establish standards for wages, hours and working conditions at restaurant chains with more than 100 locations, such as Starbucks, Chipotle, and McDonald's. The 10-member council would include workers, company representatives, and government officials and have the power to increase the industry minimum wage to $22 in 2023. Governor Gavin Newsom has until September 30 to sign or veto the bill.
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American Single Malt Whiskey Gets A Legal Definition
Image Source: Stranahans
American single malt is a growing niche in the whiskey industry. To establish standards of identity, the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) has proposed a definition mirroring that of single malt scotch. To wit, it must be be made from 100% malted barley; distilled at one distillery; mashed, distilled and matured in the US; matured in oak casks no larger than 700 liters; distilled to a maximum of 160 proof; and bottled at at least 40% ABV. Neutral spirits are not allowed, but coloring, flavoring and blending elements are. If you want to weigh in, the public comment period closes on September 27.
Food Prices Fell Again In July, Says UN Agency
Image Source: Reuters
The UN tracks the most globally traded food commodities through its world food price index. The index hit a record high in March and has been gradually dropping since. In July, vegetable oil, sugar, dairy, meat, wheat, and corn prices all fell month-over-month, partly due to a deal reached between the UN, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey to unblock grain exports from the Black Sea. While lower food prices are welcome, the July numbers are still 13.1% higher than a year earlier, and consumers are still reeling from higher-than-normal food costs.
More Supply Chain News
Feds Target US Companies Caught In Lucrative Shark Fin Trade
Whole Foods Sued For False Label Claims On "Antibiotic-Free" Meat
Sustained Drought Halts Production Of French Salers Cheese
Demand For Grocery Delivery Down 26% Since 2020
Five Countries, Five Meals: How The World Is Adapting To Food Supply Challenges
What The Historic Climate Bill Means For Farmers
Image Source: Montinique Monroe
The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) allocates about $40 billion for USDA conservation programs to incentivize climate-friendly practices such as reduced tillage, cover crop planting, and renewable energy infrastructure on farms. It also earmarks $2.2 billion to compensate Black farmers who had been subject to discrimination by other USDA programs and $3.1 billion in loans for farmers in serious financial distress. Experts estimate the IRA could cut emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, which falls short of the 50% goal but puts it within reach if other measures are taken.
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German Chemist Makes Near-Instant Cold Brew With Laser Beams
Image Source: Tiago Lopes/Sketchfab
Compared to hot brewed coffee, cold brew is less acidic, less bitter, and higher in caffeine, all thanks to the lower water temperature and longer brewing time. We're talking 12-36 hours. To get the same smooth taste in less time, German scientist Anna Rosa Ziefuss uses laser beams, stirring, and a finer grind of coffee, all of which increase the contact area of the coffee powder with water. Boom! Cold-brewed coffee in just 3 minutes. Chromatography and spectrometry data showed no significant difference between traditional cold-brew and Ziefuss's faster method. Get ready for Laser Brew coming to a coffee shop near you.
Materials Scientist Recycles Wind Turbine Blades Into Perfectly Edible Gummy Bears
Image Source: Massimo Colombo/Michael Bodmann/Getty Images
Wait...we're eating turbine blades now?? Let me explain... The blades on wind turbines usually wear out first, and while 85% of turbine components can be recycled or reused, the fiberglass blades cannot. Until now. John Dorgan at Michigan State University developed a new material combining glass fibers with both synthetic and plant-derived polymers. The resulting thermoplastic resin is strong enough to use in wind turbine blades, and it can be dissolved and distilled to make food-grade potassium lactate, the stuff found in Gatorade and gummy bears. Of course Dorgan had to make gummy bears from his recycled blades. He ate them, too. "A carbon atom derived from a plant...is no different from a carbon atom that came from a fossil fuel," says Dorgan. "It's all part of the global carbon cycle, and we've shown that we can go from biomass in the field to durable plastic materials and back to foodstuffs." Gotta love science!
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