photo of sliced bread beside olives

The World of Food for the Week of March 22 – 28, 2021

Happy Friday! The world of food this week saw data on immuno-suppressant chemicals in foods and a controversy with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There is now Peeps-flavored Pepsi and a hospital executive got fired for treating his favorite restaurant to vaccines. The Suez Canal got blocked but we learned how to open a wine bottle in a pinch.


  • State unemployment claims fell to their lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Housing market remains robust
  • The world of food should benefit from PPP loans, extended through June. Independent restaurants a main target.


  • This week we learned about Dark Grocery – small, delivery-only, limited selection markets in highly urban areas. They turn around orders rapidly and can customize selection to the neighborhood. They are doing particularly well in Germany and, subsequently, attracting investment capital. Something to watch.
  •  Certain preservatives used with foods may significantly harm immune systems. Bad in normal times, this is more important than ever with that whole, pandemic thing still lurking
    • Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PSAs) are fluorinated compounds first used in Teflon that have been linked to cancer and harm to immune and reproductive systems. They are often called ‘forever chemicals’ because they simply don’t breakdown and remain in the body forever. They are used in packaging but studies show that they can migrate into food.
    • More directly, tert-butylhydroquinone or TBHQ, is used as a preservative directly on things like Pop Tarts and Rice Krispies Treats but new data shows it too can inhibit immune response.
  •  Can you really trust the word of a 41 year old man who eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch? No, apparently, you can not.
  • In a sign of the inevitable entropy of the universe, Pepsi is rolling a Peeps flavor.
  • A potential supply crisis is coming in Massachusetts over cage free eggs. Here is an explainer that we wrote this week.


  • The pizza business must now confront the end of the gravy train, much like delivery services. It will be interesting to see how these organizations preform strategically in the shift back to something like normal.
  • Many restaurants and fast food outlets are dependent upon the crowds of people like in downtown areas. Food carts and food trucks have also struggled to survive.
  • The tipping/no tipping conflict in the world of food is playing out in Chicago as the city’s restaurants re-open.
  • An executive at a hospital that serves a poor, urban area in Chicago diverted vaccine doses to a very high end restaurant that he likes. However it did not work out well for him.


  • Olive trees are hardy and live seemingly forever. The crop is much less robust and extreme weather is giving the olive oil industry headaches.
  • We need a stent, stat! The blockage in the Suez Canal is causing all sorts of problems for short shelf life produce, for instance, bananas. Furthermore, toilet paper, coffee and other items may be in short supply.
  • Similarly, port log jams started with COVID restrictions and product demand got fouled up. In addition, there were no containers for export. See our previous reporting. This is why they are called supply chains.
  • There has been steady progress towards humane treatment of laying hens in this country. The key to success was a change in strategy by the US Humane Society; they decided to work with, rather than fight, with food brands and engage corporate responsibility initiatives.


  • Quick, what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? The answer is that baking soda is a base and if you want it leaven something you need an acid. Baking powder adds the acid to baking soda to help things rise. Double action baking powder adds two kinds of acid for 2 stage leavening.
  • I like collard greens. They are preferable to trendy things like kale and brussels sprouts because of the complexity of the flavor. (I find they other two very one note and if you don’t like that note…). Please find here an interesting article on the diversity of varietals and the efforts to bring back nearly lost types of collard greens.
  • Desperate time call for desperate measures. As a result, smart (or thirsty) people have unconventional ways to open a wine bottle if you don’t have corkscrew. One involves a shoe.
  • ‘Functional food’ is an increasingly common expression in the world of food. Here is a quick video explaining what they are.

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