Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.
1. Is Nitrite-Free Bacon Really Healthier? The big controversy this week was sparked by Michael Ruhlman, author of Charcuterie, calling bullshit on nitrite-free bacon, found in every natural-foods store that sells meat.
The fact is, most nitrate we consume comes from vegetables. Nitrate we consume coverts to nitrite in our body, which is a [sic] antimicrobial agent in our guts. Sodium nitrite in bacon cures the bacon (more info in my safety concerns for charcutepaloozians) and then converts to nitric oxide, so, while I'm not a chemist, I have heard others suggest that you're not actually consuming any nitrite by the time the bacon gets to you.
The faux-free bacon places like Trader Joe's sell is often cured with dried celery and celery juice, Ruhlman continues ― a natural source of nitrates.
2. The Meat Dress Was Actually Real. I thought Lady Gaga's meat dress was all a hoax, an elaborately mocked-up garment of carefully painted plastic ― it stayed red far longer than it should have. No, says Meatpaper, who interviewed the dress's designer. Franc Fernandez salted 40 pounds of flank steak, then sewed them onto a corset and skirt. He's having a taxidermist preserve the dress. (Now that's gross.)
3. Food Waste. Speaking of uneaten meat, the BBC cites the findings of a new United Nations study that determined that one third of the world's food produced ends up wasted.
The report differentiated between food losses ― because of improper
storage, for example ― which is the primary cause of wasted food in
developing countries, against our own eagerness to toss out perfectly
edible foods that don't look appetizing. The most eye-opening figure?
"Waste amounts to around 100 kg (more than 200 lb) per consumer in
Europe and North America every year," the BBC reports. "Consumers in
sub-Saharan Africa and most of Asia each throw away just 6 to 11 kg." Eat
your leftovers, people.