Today marks the launch of Talking Points: Notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other miscellanea dredged up from the food media.
1. Shark fin watch. One of the criticisms I've heard of AB-376, California's proposed shark-fin ban, is that this state is such a
small part of the global market that it will be ineffective in curtailing shark finning. Even though AB-376 has yet to go to committee (Mar. 22, if you're interested), it's inspiring hundreds of blog posts all over the planet; yesterday the bill made the front page of the New York Times.
What's most interesting to me is that the issue of shark finning has become a focal point all over the Chinese diaspora for discussions about environmental issues. Bill Wong, one of the founding members of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, forwarded me a link to this post from an activist in Singapore. The questions it has raised about whether eating shark fin is really a part of Chinese cultural heritage mirror ones Salon's Francis Lam considers in a post today (disclaimer: I get a mention). Even if AB 376 fails, it is making people all over the world talk about changing the way they eat. That's hardly ineffective.
2. Oh, San Francisco! C.W. Nevius brings up an oldie but a goodie: How is that San
Francisco's permitting processes allow a single gadfly to block
something as seemingly benign as sidewalk tables for a little cafe in the Tenderloin?
The problem seems as intractable as an easy drive through downtown's grid of one-way streets. Maybe the city should open itself up to creative solutions to deal with
these disputes: required group therapy sessions, say, or opening up the
approve-or-deny question to American Idol-style text-message voting.
3. Department of bad ideas. For all their talk of variable-pressure espresso machines and coffee-estate elevation, the Third Wave proves it is not immune from Double Down-worthy stunts. Take the cereal shot, for example.