The food world is abuzz with the promise of transparency. Radical transparency. Authentic transparency. Trust-building transparency. The promise comes in many forms – from clear packaging to ethical corporate engagement, “clean” ingredients panels, supply chain traceability, hand held scanning technologies that can tell you “what is really in your food,” video tours taking consumers inside production plants, and real life opportunities to “see for yourself” where your food comes from. What is the problem that transparency seeks to solve? What is transparency? And can it solve those problems? Transparency is the food industry’s answer to consumer concerns about processed food and the industrial food system that produces it. It’s a version of the same ethos that has animated much of…

» Read More

Until today German-style beers, beer gardens, and festivities such as the Bavarian Oktoberfest enjoy a high reputation overseas. However, according to the Beer World Cup – one of the greatest of its kind taking place every two years since 1996 – the best German-style beers are not brewed in Germany but by US-American breweries. In 2010 the gold medal in the category German-style Pilsner went to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA. And while last year the Private Landbrauerei Schönram in Bavaria brewed the best Pilsner its brewmaster Eric Toft is an American. Moreover, the gold medals in the categories Kölsch, Düsseldorfer Altbier, Schwarzbier, Märzen, Münchener Dunkel, and (Mai)Bock all went to US-American firms. It seems that German…

» Read More

While scientists, academics, and activists often differ over the causes and consequences of obesity, nearly all can agree that people benefit greatly from a diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables—ideally minimally processed so as to retain their nutritional benefits as well as integrity of flavors and textures. Yet Americans, with an overabundant array and quantity of food available, don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and what produce they do consume tends to be top-heavy with fried potatoes. Instead, Americans are consuming fat and sugar: the highest percentage of solid fats and added sugars in the world, some 37 percent of daily calories consumed (compared to the world average of 20 percent), largely in the form of…

» Read More