The Times Magazine Food Issue is online now, but it's a bit of a downer. There's spiking food prices, overfarmed fish, and killer fruit. But then again, there's also hope for a food renaissance and tipping alternatives. We've summarized the magazine below, so plan your weekend accordingly.
• Flipping the Bird, by Christine Muhlke
In the inevitable Kenny Shopsin profile, the cranky restaurateur separates the "wanted from the unwanted with a degree of foulmouthed eloquence that makes Lenny Bruce look like Sirio Maccioni. 'We kick [expletive] out. Regularly.' Up to three times a day."
• Attack of the Tomato Killers, by Doug Fine
A personal tale of food independence through gardening, and how the climate can wipe out your smug success.
• Why Take Food Seriously? by Mark Bittman
Since celebrity chefs and the global food crisis create dialogue that often "includes words like locavore, vegetarian, sustainable and flexitarian," we may at least be facing the first real food renaissance since the fifties.
• Locavorism, by William Safire
The author calls an orange-juice company to ask whose home his "home-squeezed" juice was squeezed in. Plus, what it means to be a superfood.
• Farmer in Chief, by (Omnivore's Dilemma author) Michael Pollan
What the next president can do about the "the food and agriculture policies … designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so."
• Kosher Wars, by Samantha M. Shapiro
A new generation of Jews want kosher practices to consider sustainability, but they're finding resistance.
• Why Tip? by Paul Wachter
A restaurant in San Diego called the Linkery has banned tipping. Are the owners onto something?
Related: Bruni Readers to New York: Take It From Tourists, End Tipping
• A Catfish by Any Other Name, by Paul Greenberg
U.S. farm-raised catfish might start going by a new name, Delacata, while the Vietnamese are attempting to flood the world's whitefish market with their own species, referred to as tra. "It takes three acres of grazing land to grow a single 700-pound cow. That same land, flooded … will bring in up to 1 million pounds of tra."
• Where’s the Beef? interview by Deborah Solomon
A Q&A; with filmmaker Robert Kenner about his new documentary, Film, Inc., about the industries that don't want us to know where our food comes from.
• Milk Cartoon, by Rob Walker
How kids won't start eating better unless we market health the way companies market junk food. For example, "milk consumption in participating schools rose as much as 34 percent" when a company called Milk Media put the Disney character Doug on cartons.
• Produce Yourself, by Virginia Heffernan
How FreshDirect is a model multitasker.
• A Green Revolution for Africa? by David Rieff
The Gates Foundation is pouring millions into Africa to help modernize agriculture, and some food fighters want to stop it — like "[t]he Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva [who] denounced the Gates Foundation as being the 'greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.'"
• Dangerous Fruit, by Lisa Sanders, M.D.
Stay away from the special fruit in Jamaica. Ackee fruit, "when picked before it is fully ripe … contains a chemical that limits the body’s ability to release the backup supply of glucose that is stored in the liver … Without it, blood sugar plunges. Enough people have died from eating unripened ackee that it is illegal to bring the fruit into the U.S."
The Food Issue [NYT]