Thinking Out of the Box

In an interview with Cooking Light magazine, Michelle Obama reveals one food she won’t let her kids eat: boxed macaroni and cheese.

“My kids loved the macaroni and cheese in a box. And [White House chef Sam Kass] said, if it’s not real food then we’re not going to do it. If we want macaroni and cheese, we’ll cook it with real milk and real cheese. He said, there’s nothing wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s got to be real food.”

Sweet and Salty

According to a new study, packaged food for toddlers contains too much salt and sugar, reports Joanna Rothkopf:

“‘Some of the foods had about similar [sugar or salt] content to what we see in adult foods,’ said the study’s lead author Mary Cogswell, a scientist in the division for heart disease and stroke prevention at the CDC in an interview with Live Science. ‘For example, in the category of savory snacks or salty snacks, the average sodium concentration, or amount of sodium per 100 grams, was about the same as you see in plain potato chips.'”

Shell Game?

In advance of Easter, to cut costs, Cadbury has changed the chocolate it uses in its Creme Eggs, and there are now five eggs per box instead of six, prompting outrage. Andrew Baker investigates:

“The truth is that separating the contents of a Creme Egg from the shell is a tricky and messy business – part of the appeal of the things being the difficulty in eating them. But when the chocolate is consumed without the goo, it still tastes overwhelmingly sweet, with subsidiary flavours (and the texture) of vegetable fat and barely a hint of dairy. Is the lack of Dairy Milk a terrible loss? You would be hard-pressed to miss the flavour.”

Off the Sauce

Sales of brown sauce in Britain are falling. Tony Naylor rejoices:

“Created in the late 1800s, brown sauce reads, tastes and smells like the idle creation of some Phileas Fogg-type, just back and hugely, over-excited about his adventures in the British empire. Dates! Molasses! Tamarind! Cloves! Cayenne pepper! It is not so much a recipe as chauvinistic flag-waving, a smug, muscle-flexing case of: ‘Look at the size of our spice cupboard.’ Said exotic ingredients were combined, moreover, with all the sensitivity of the period. Just as in the age of empire we ignored or abused indigenous peoples, so too their ingredients. In brown sauce, they were used to produce an unholy trinity of brutal sweetness, acrid spiciness and vile vinegary twang – one peculiarly British in its lack of culinary sophistication.”

When It Rains It Pours

Hugh Merwin:

“A 50-foot brick wall collapsed this afternoon at a Morton Salt processing plant in West Town, Chicago, leading to a deluge of the company’s signature product flowing into the neighboring car dealership. DNAinfo reporter Paul Biasco tweeted that employees ‘ran when they started seeing bricks fall.’ No one was hurt in the incident, but 11 Acuras, it seems, have been irreparably damaged as a result of their sodium intake.”

Condiments Reconciled

Unilever, which produces Hellmann’s mayonnaise, has ended its lawsuit against the maker of Just Mayo, an eggless mayonnaise product:

“You may recall that the multinational company had argued Just Mayo was doing ‘serious irreparable harm’ by ‘falsely communicating’ the nature of its product, which perhaps convinced meat-eaters to eat vegan stuff. The official FDA definition of what it means to be mayonnaise was invoked, and in general, the ugly specter of a looming legal battle over condiments upset the normally peaceful world of the sandwich-eating public.”

“A New Generation of Meats and Cheeses”

Michele Simon reports on a burgeoning industry: animal-free animal foods.

“Growing more and more animals for food is unsustainable. The World Health Organization predicts that global annual meat production will increase from 218 million tons in 1998 to 376 million tons by 2030. That uptick will bring with it numerous negative consequences, including deforestation, animal manure contamination of air and water and excessive use of water supplies and harmful energy sources, not to mention contributions to climate change.

“Recognizing this problem, food startups backed by significant venture capital are hoping to create food products without using animals. The goal: provide a viable alternative to the existing animal foods production model that is wreaking havoc on the environment, public health and animal welfare.”

Bittersweet

Food companies are still marketing sugary drinks to kids, reports the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity:

“In recent years, key actors have taken steps to reduce young people’s consumption of sugar-sweetened soda and other types of sugary drinks. Local communities have launched public health campaigns to increase awareness of the negative health effects of sugary drinks and reduce their availability in public settings. Policy makers have proposed legislation and regulation to limit consumption and raise awareness of the dangers of minors consuming highly caffeinated energy drinks….

“At the same time, beverage companies continue to extensively market their unhealthy products—including sugar-sweetened soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, iced tea, and flavored water, as well as energy drinks and shots—in a wide variety of marketing venues where children and teens are exposed to these messages daily.”

Food Tank is sponsoring a petition to tax such beverages.

Addition by Subtraction

The Environmental Working Group has named the “dirty dozen” food additives that consumers should avoid, reports Josh Scherer:

“According to a new report it released today, the chemical that makes your cold cuts glow that signature violent shade of pink isn’t exactly healthy to consume (although some would disagree). Condolences go out to mortadella enthusiasts everywhere.”