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Random Food Report: Lion Tacos, New Zealand Mutton & Honey That Isn't


1. Tests Reveal Honey That Isn't; Fly-Attracting Effectiveness Not Yet Assessed.

In the course of reading an update on the latest attempt by lawmakers to require labels on all "genetically engineered" foods (below), we discovered a related story: almost all store-brand honey sold in the U.S. isn't, in fact, honey.

If you'd like more details, you should a) read the article or b) consult your local melissopalynologist.

While dated (the story ran in November 2011), we felt the article fit into the topic of this edition of the Random Food Report, namely: "mysterious food-like substances," or MFLS, if you will. Note: MFLS are a totally different thing than MILFs, although both go well with sweet, sticky toppings . . . like Nutella.

2. Government Attempting To Influence What People Eat and Drink.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) proposed a new piece of legislation last month that would require the FDA to "clearly label" all "genetically engineered" (GE) foods approved by the agency. The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (or GEFRTKA, for short) should align nicely with public sentiment: Americans overwhelmingly believe genetically modified foods should be labeled as such. Why? Because people say they want to know What the Hell Is In That Stuff.

As an aside, we think the shift in terminology toward the use of "engineered" rather than "modified" is a clever move. Why? Think of automobiles. Cars are "engineered" (by robots, of course) in a plant from scratch. But "modifications" are after-market - ground effects, nitro tanks, bad tint jobs, you name it. Just ask the Fast And Furious guys - those cars don't roll off the assembly line ready to go. You need a tatted-up, muscle-bound, white-t-shirt-wearing guy to ratchet up that Mazda, which is where Vin Diesel gets involved. (Are we the only people shocked that we are on the sixth installment of the F&F franchise? Please say no.) Thus GMO implies tinkering whereas GE connotes food whipped up from raw, or in this case fake, ingredients . . . probably using science. We Americans don't like science. The mere mention of terms like polyunsaturated, gravity, or partially hydrogenated makes us go all squinty-eyed.

The GEFRTKA-backers will face an uphill battle. We can look to the fate of Prop 37 in California as a benchmark: the bill, which would have required the labeling of biotech content in (some, but not all) packaged foods, failed to pass by more than six percentage points in November 2012. Prop 37 proponents encountered a number of challenges, including accusations that the requirements were full of loopholes and exemptions that favored some special interests. Add in the $44 million spent by opponents such as Monsanto, DuPont, Hormel and Nestle, and it's a miracle the final margin was in the single digits.

3. People: "Government Can Go To Hell."

On April 25, Harris Interactive/HealthDay released findings of a recent poll showing that people are "opposed to government taxes on sugary drinks and candy by a more than 2-to-1 margin." People like sweets. People like soda. Just in case we change our minds, Coke and Pepsi spend billions of dollars (the soda lobby spent $40.2 billion, with a B, in 2009) petitioning Congress to stamp out ideas such as sugary drink taxes.

4. Sonic Launches New Milkshake Flavors, Featuring PB&J, Chocolate-Covered Banana, Chocolate-Covered-Peanut-Butter-and-Bacon-Banana-Cookie.

Consumers previously limited to ho-hum varieties of shakes and malts on offer at Sonic (such as the droll Sonic Blast® and Creamslush®) can now choose from a myriad of new milkshake flavors, including pineapple, cherry cheesecake, peanut butter banana, peanut butter cookie, peanut butter and jelly, and peanut butter and bacon. Wait . . . is that supposed to read peanut butter comma bacon or peanut-butter-and-bacon? Not that it really matters, both sound disgusting.

Also, what's with the profusion of peanut butter flavors? We suspect a wild-haired food scientist somewhere devised a chemical compound that, when paired with a linear sulfated polysaccharide like carrageenan, results in a delicious peanut buttery molecule.

We take back what we said about science. We are cool with science. Sweet, sweet science.

5. I Thought That Mongolian Hot Pot Tasted Funny.

Until now, the logistics of cobbling together fake mutton has not ranked among the many troubles disturbing our sleep. But due to a spate of arrests of meat counterfeiters in China, we find ourselves counting rats, not sheep, in the wee hours.

The Ministry of Public Security (not to be confused with the Peace of Mind Department) announced earlier this month the arrest of "a gang of traders in eastern China who bought rat, fox and mink flesh and sold it as mutton." A related story implicated the Chinese division of Louisville-based Yum! Brands in the scandal.

Invoices seized by one supplier of packages of "New Zealand mutton" reportedly showed "that some of the meat had already been sold to several restaurants, including outlets of Yum-owned Little Sheep."

Yum! called the story "false, misleading and wrong," but could not explain the recent absence of chicken bones in its KFC.

6. King of the Jungle: Not Too Gamey.

Tampa-area taco purveyor Taco Fusion recently caused a controversy due to an unusual ingredient in a new dish - the $35 lion taco.

"It didn't taste too gamey to me, similar to steak," said patron Lee Weiner.

We think the food industry should run with this idea: whale shark sashimi, Komodo dragon kebobs, polar bear po' boys . . . the possibilities as endless as our imagination and the diversity of nature.

As an added bonus, eating apex predators like lions seems like a neat solution to Rule #2.


The Random Food Report is prepared by the pseudononymous Luke Chen and his band of foodie monkeys. Address correspondence to the Random Food Affairs Desk.


Posted on May 13, 2013

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - Climate Deniers' 4 Top Scare Tactics.
SPORTS - The McEnroes In Antarctica.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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