Tag Archives: Food

Grocery Stores Nudge Shoppers into Buying Better Food

North Market Produce stand at the North Market...

North Market Produce stand at the North Market in downtown Columbus, OH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supermarkets are employing subtle methods to try to influence the way we shop – for the healthier.

In one store, a mirror attached to the car reflects back the image of the person pushing the cart and prompts him to buy with an eye toward health.

In another store, grocery carts were divided in half by a yellow stripe. Shoppers were instructed to place produce in the front half of the cart, and produce sales more than doubled.

At still another, giant green arrows on the floor pointed to the produce aisle.

In some places, scientists are tinkering with the idea of placing placards in cards, announcing the average number of fruits and vegetables shoppers buy, thus enforcing the social norms. Two weeks into the program, produce sales jumped 10% overall – but among participants in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, there was a 91% increase in produce purchases.

Overall, customers spent more money on produce but the same amount overall, meaning that they were spending less on processed, packaged food. This is better for the consumer and the grocer, who gets better margins on the produce section than on prepackaged foods.

Via NYT.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheers!, Health, Science

Starbucks Worker Fired for Eating Thrown-Out Sandwich

English: Starbucks' headquarters building in S...

English: Starbucks’ headquarters building in Seattle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last  Monday, 21-year-old barista Coulson Loptmann was fired from a Seattle Starbucks for eating a sandwich that had been thrown away.

The coffee giant gets rid of food that has expired by donating what they can and tossing the perishable items. Loptmann, who couldn’t get enough hours to pay his bills and survives partly on his food stamps, explains, “I hadn’t eaten all day and I was on a seven-hour shift.” A coworker had marked some sandwiches out of stock, and he figured no one would mind if he grabbed one of the plastic-wrapped sausage sandwiches out of the trash can.

Starbucks did mind. According to Loptmann, his manager sat him down a week later and told him she’d found out about the sandwich and contacted HR, “and they consider it stealing, and it’s against policy. So I’m sorry, but I have to terminate you.”

Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson confirmed that “it is a violation of our policy to consume marked-out products.” But he says it’s not considered stealing—it’s for the employees’ own good. “We do not want our partners to consume potentially spoiled products and get sick.”

Loptmann insists that his manager cited stealing, not his own health and safety, as the reason for termination. “I understand completely they don’t want someone to mark something out just to eat it,” says Loptmann. “I didn’t mark it out, someone else did.” Of his manager, he says, “It’s not her fault… She knows what it’s like. But she can’t do anything… These were the policies put in place by people who actually have power.”

Loptmann was hired in 2012 as a close-to-full-time employee, but after a couple of months, his hours started disappearing. Soon he was working between 23 and 32 hours a week, for $9.94 an hour plus about $30 a week in tips, with a schedule he calls “extremely variable.” Even if he was scheduled, he could be sent home if the store got slow.

Loptmann had to get food stamps to make ends meet, and scraping up enough for lunch every day was still hard. “It sounds ridiculous, but having bread and mustard and mayonnaise and some kind of meat and lettuce—it doesn’t sound expensive, but that adds up… There were some days where I lived off of Starbucks food.” He got a 30% discount and a couple of free coffees a day.

The day of the sandwich incident, his coworker was marking sandwiches out of stock and throwing them away. “She said, ‘What a waste, huh?’” remembers Loptmann. “And she tossed it in the garbage. I figured, it’s in plastic, it’s fine. So I reached in and grabbed it.”

Via The Stranger.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Sick Sad World

Whole Foods Will Only Sell Sustainable Seafood

Whole foods

Whole foods (Photo credit: parislemon)

Whole Foods has to stop selling any seafood it does not consider sustainable.

Starting Sunday, gray sole and skate will no longer appear in the grocery chain’s fish cases. Atlantic cod will be sold only if it is not caught by trawlers, which drag nets across the ocean floor.

Whole Foods says that it is doing its part to address the problem of overfishing and help depleted fish stocks recover. It is using ratings set by the Blue Ocean Institute, a conservation group, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. They are based on factors including how abundant a species is, how quickly it reproduces and whether the catch method damages its habitat.

The company had planned to stop selling “red-rated” fish next year but moved up its deadline. The other fish it will no longer carry are Atlantic halibut, octopus, sturgeon, tautog, turbot, imported wild shrimp, some species of rockfish, and tuna and swordfish caught in certain areas or by certain methods. (Whole Foods has already stopped selling orange roughy, shark, bluefin tuna, and most marlin.)

Whole Foods is not the first supermarket chain to limit the kind of seafood it sells in the name of sustainability. Last month, BJ’s Wholesale Club announced a plan to sell seafood only from suppliers “identified as sustainable or on track to meet sustainability standards by 2014.” Other chains are making similar moves.

Via The New York Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheers!, Environment, National

Virginia Community Shines When Food Bank Runs Out of Food

About ten tons of broccoli were donated by Bar...

Image via Wikipedia


What’s the emergency backup when a food bank goes out of business?


The Prince William County food pantry found out in October: It’s the public.


The pantry, which doles out food to about 4,000 people a month, ran out of food and supplies October 17.


The community rallied and raised thousands of dollars to restock the empty shelves.


Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the time and goods donated to the pantry:


  • $7,000 given in 2010
  • $108,000 October 2011
  • 1,700 lbs. of venison was donated on November 15 by Hunters for the Hungry. The group gives 300 to 500 pounds a month.
  • 2,500 lbs of produce is donated weekly by volunteers in Dale City, Virginia
  • 1 truckload a month is donated by USDA by way of Capital Area Food Bank
  • 12 grocers, 4 restaurants and 15 faith-based organizations give regularly
  • 66 pounds of groceries are expected to last a week for a family of four
  • 1,421 families fed in Operation Turkey, 2010
  • 30,000 lbs. of food drummed up by Boy scouts in the Turkey Drive
  • 34,000 lbs. of side dishes given in four days
  • 1,600 families expected in 2011
  • 128 volunteers
  • 1,007 hours in October
  • 69 hours, 5 minutes volunteered by Rene Garcia in October. “It makes me feel good … that someone else can get food on their table. I’m going to do it until I can’t do it any longer.”

Via The Washington Post.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Food Companies Lobby to Keep Tater Tots, Pizza as “Vegetables” in School Lunches


What's your favorite vegetable? Mine is pizza. Image via Wikipedia

The food industry is using Congress’ debate of next year’s agriculture budget to bully the USDA as it rolls out rules for the National School Lunch Program. According to The New York Times, Big Food has dropped $5.6 million lobbying against the new rules.

School cafeterias get less than a dollar a day per student in federal funding to spend on ingredients (two-thirds of the maximum $2.94 outlay per lunch goes to overhead and labor), and many public schools lack cooking facilities, so cafeterias outsource cooking to companies like meat giant Tyson, with its infamous heat-and-serve “Dinosaur Shaped Chicken Nuggets,” and Conagra, with its frozen pizzas.

In January, the USDA came out with new school lunch guidelines. Mandated by a 2004 law ordering USDA to align school lunches with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the rules impose two new criteria that have drawn the ire of the food industry.

First, they rewrote the fruit and vegetable requirements. Before, cafeterias had to serve at least one vegetable a day, and the definition was expansive: tater tots and fries counted.  Now, they limit potatoes to no more than one cup (two servings) per week and require schools to serve at least one serving per week of dark-green and red/orange vegetables. Second, they no longer allow the two ounces of tomato paste on pizza to count as a vegetable.

In October, by a unanimous vote, the Senate slapped an amendment on its agriculture appropriations bill that will rescind the limit on potatoes, despite a Harvard study finding that regular consumption of potatoes contributes heavily to unhealthy weight gain.

Now, reports Politico’s David Rogers, Conagra and Schwan are arraying their lobbying might against the new tomato-paste rule. Rogers writes:

A June letter from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, for example, celebrates the virtues of tomato paste in language that closely mirrors the arguments made by Schwan, a privately owned giant based in Marshall, Minn. And both Schwan and ConAgra have quietly helped to finance the “Coalition for Sustainable School Meals Programs” which maintains a red-white-blue – and yes green – website with the heading “Fix the Reg.”

The House version of the ag-spending bill will likely contain a provision nixing the rule change and preserving pizza’s status as a fruit/vegetable serving.

Copied (with editing) from Mother Jones.


Filed under Uncategorized

“The Chew” To Replace “All My Children” Next Week

Susan Lucci cropped

Image via Wikipedia

The Chew, an hourlong daily talk show dedicated entirely to food, will make its début next week. It is the first new daytime show on ABC since The View went on the air in 1997. The Chew will fill the 1:00 p.m. slot now occupied by All My Children, which will end its more than forty-year run on ABC Friday.

The Chew has five full-time hosts: chef Mario Batali; Cleveland’s Iron Chef Michael Symon; What Not to Wear‘s Clinton Kelly; and Daphne Oz, the daughter of Dr. Oz.

The Chew is one of many new food shows building on the popularity of the Food Network.

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment

A Prediction for a Bachmann Presidency: More E. Coli Deaths, More Vegetarians

Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...

Image via Wikipedia

A week after the Agriculture Department announced wider testing for deadly E. coli in meat, Republican Presidential candidate and science skeptic Representative Michele Bachmann said that regulations are overburdening food producers.

Rep. Bachmann visited a 140-year-old meatpacking plant in Des Moines and railed against regulations for food makers and other businesses. In keeping with the ethics of her party, Rep. Bachmann did not name any specific regulations she would cut.

The Agriculture Department, meanwhile, said expanding testing of E. coli in meat from one strain to seven would hasten recalls of tainted products and help officials find foodborne illnesses.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Health, Law, National, Politics, Stupid Is As Stupid Does