business news in context, analysis with attitude

In a story yesterday about KFC and Taco Bell eliminating trans fats from their frying oils, we commented that to call what KFC serves “chicken” and what Taco Bell sells “Mexican food” would be to stretch credibility.

MNB user Robyn Lydick sort of saw it our way:

Hmmm…birds that once drew breath? Check.

Birds crowded into small cages to maximize profits to a middleman, not the farmer. Check.

Had internal organs, most of which are not eaten by people in a restaurant setting? Check.

Sounds like American poultry to me.

I’m informed by a foodie that chicken now tastes like salt water.

However one wonders if someone would recognize Kentucky Fried Bat under enough batter.

Look, we know from a number of the emails that we get that some folks think that our distaste for fast food is really a kind of snobbery, and some folks would like us to stop being so critical of a kind of food that plays a role in their lives.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe we are being snobbish. But we don’t think so. We love McDonald’s fries and milkshakes, just as we love doughnuts and cinnamon rolls and all those sorts of things. But we’ve come to the conclusion that at age 52, we can’t eat that stuff anymore, except on rare exceptions. And we think that it makes sense to wean our kids off it now, so that maybe they won’t have to deal with the same issues when they’re 52.

Furthermore, there are options. So we’re not just being negative…we’re promoting the healthier options that are out there.

It’s funny, though. Yesterday we were getting emails accusing us of being too pure in our approach to food, and over the weekend we got an email from someone worried that if we eat and drink as much as we say we do, we’re going to end up looking like Orson Welles.

Moderation in all things. Except fast food, which will, given half a chance, kill you.

We wrote yesterday about how the UFCW in California is trying to line up political support, including the Los Angeles City Council, as it continues its negotiations with the area’s three major grocery chains on a new contract.

To which one MNB user responded:

Is this the same council that has/is throwing one road block after another against W-M, who would be happy to build in these so-called "red-lined areas"?

Might be the last "hoorah" for UFCW leaders, since they seem to be unable to organize the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. And, if they get stores that are planned for the area, the UFCW leaders better think about a golden parachute for themselves. If these two non-union operations are even moderately successful, they will trim about 30% of the union membership in local competing stores in the first 18 months or less. And, conceivably more if substantially higher wages and benefits do result from the negotiations.

I suppose the politicians are looking for campaign contributions but if the UFCW loses 30% of its members the leadership is going to have to reduce these contributions as well.

Let's see, serve the underserved communities, or take campaign contributions attempting maintain the status quo for the UFCW. Looks from a distance that the Council is backing the wrong horse.

On the subject on too-little funding for the FDA, MNB user Dave Thompson observed:

Too bad the funds we are throwing away in Iraq couldn’t have been put to better use – not to mention the lives that have been lost!

We got a number of emails yesterday responding to our exclusive about Al Gore bailing out of his keynote speech scheduled for next Sunday at the FMI Show in Chicago. To be honest, almost all of the emails described Gore in fairly unflattering personal terms…almost the kind of stuff that got Don Imus fired.

It is interesting to us what a polarizing figure Gore is.

MNB user Mona Doyle had one possible explanation for Gore’s decision:

One can't help but wonder if Gore pulled out in order to be consistent with his advice to the public shop at farmers' markets and local food outlets -- published in this month's Reader's Digest.

You mean, this could have been a decision based on consistency and integrity?

Not to be overly cynical about the state of American politics, but what are the odds?

Finally, we got a number of emails yesterday from folks who told us not to be overly concerned about the criticism we got from one MNB user that our observation about “Norwegian women carrying machine guns” was uncomfortably close to an Imus-like comment. One particular email touched us:

Don Imus' "nappy headed ho's" remark is truly a world apart from your comment that, "You haven't lived until you've seen a blonde Norwegian woman strolling along carrying a machine gun." Imus' comment could only ever be viewed as derogatory to women - full stop. He labeled the Rutgers' women's team based on his own dis-empowered, negative, sexually-charged perspectives…I read your comment as your having found it 'interesting' that women were in positions that were formerly the bastions of male-ness, and that you found the change 'refreshing.' The reader that chided you needs to lighten up and understand the clear difference between a comment that is or was intended to be negative versus one that was playful. Intention is everything, after all. The two remarks and situations are worlds apart.

Signed, a regular MNB reader who happens to be female, blond, from a country close to Norway, and who knows the difference between male trash and treasure.

We’re blushing. But thanks.
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