Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: chewing gum is as bad as plastic and a healthy margherita pizza gets Neapolitan thumbs down

The new, reviews and trends from March 10-11.

12 March 2018

Food news

Making war war on jaw jaw

Chewing gum is being targeted as a single-use plastic, according to the Telegraph, which says that Philp Hammond’s Spring Statement on Tuesday will lump it with plastic cups and cutlery, crisp packets, bottles and foam trays as items targeted for a new tax. Though the government recently rejected a latte levy, the chancellor is said to be mulling a litter levy in consultation with the British public. He will also be announcing a £20 million fund to reward businesses and universities that investigate plastic waste solutions.

No lying down in green pastures for cows, pigs and chickens

The Times has written a series of articles criticising the “idyllic country scenes” shown on meat and poultry packaging, after Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged to reform labelling laws. “Consumers deserve better information. We need to be clearer in our labelling about where food comes from and how food is produced. Better information can help us make the right choices for health and for the environment,” he said. In a breakdown of how different animals are treated, the Times highlighted Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, as well as Bernard Matthews and Heck, as examples of companies that may mislead consumers, while quoting animal welfare activists as saying meat labels should be subjected to laws similar to those in place for eggs.


Pizza party gets nasty

A Michelin star didn’t protect Carlo Cracco from coming under fire this week, after the chef released a ‘healthy’ pizza for 16 euros in Milan, according to the Telegraph. The combination of using wholemeal grains and cereals to make a margherita and offering it at a whopping prize tag sent pizza purists in Naples – home of the margherita – into tomato-sauce-fuelled fury. It just goes to show that when it comes to healthy food alternatives, chefs (and companies) need to carefully measure the benefits of going nutritional against customer desires for reasonable prices and classic recipes.

Diets are out for Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is tightening the belt on diets while feeding the trend for healthy lifestyles, according to the Times. Chief executive of the company, Mindy Grossman, noted that “healthy is the new skinny, “adding: “The world doesn’t need another diet. The world needs a leader in wellness.” Initial moves will include removing all artificial sweeteners from Weight Watchers products, while the word ‘diet’ has been cut from the company’s website.


Food trends

Five hybrids for your five-a-day

Badger Flame beetroots and EverMild onions are among the ingredients highlighted by the Guardian as experimental vegetables that have been created using crossbreeding. There are also black tomatoes – definitely playing into the whole black foods fad – as well as grapefruit-meets-pomelo oroblanco and apriums, which sounds like an anaesthetic but is in fact a plum-apricot hybrid.

Sustainable is the new organic

“Twenty-five years ago, organic produce meant very little to most people. Thanks largely to the work of chefs, organic is now a widely held value,” writes Chris Ying, former editor of the now-defunct food publication Lucky Peach, in the Guardian. Ying says that if restaurants lead the way in sustainable, carbon-neutral food choices, the rest of the industry will follow suit, driven on by changing consumer habits.


Food interviews

Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman of Starbucks

“It’s very hard to make money in the UK,” says Howard Schultz, head honcho at Starbucks, as he explains why the coffee chain paid so little tax in this country for so long. The American seems to have trouble doing business in Britain in more ways than one, as he reveals in an interview with the Telegraph that he’s struggling to find an iconic location to unveil the new Starbucks concept: a premium roastery and reserve, which so far has one location in Starbucks hometown Seattle and one in Shanghai, China. Schultz remarks that his focus is on rolling out this new concept around the world, while also working on the company’s CSR with community outreach and environmental protection programmes. He’s also confident we haven’t reached peak coffee: “There’s still a lot of room for growth… I also wonder how sustainable it will be for a lot of these independents around the world.”


Food reviews

Hankies, London W1D 6EX

“A hanky is basically a roti that is spun until it’s so fine you can theoretically read through it, and then folded over,” Giles Coren learns this week, and not just “the rag into which a chap shoots either his bogey or his…” Indian small plates get a European injection at this Indian street food joint, from the saag subzee of chard, spinach, Brussels sprouts and lotus puff to the galouti kebab made with venison.

Farm Girl Café, London SW10 0AJ

Nutritional food meets Australian café culture – and it’s a disaster. The third branch of this brand does little to impress Jay Rayner, who dubs tostadas piled with jackfruit “the latest hip, unconvincing replacement for meat,” while sneering at everything from the coconut bacon to the coconut oil gelato with spinach and kiwi.

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