Food

Until Sept. 19, if diners had wanted to see Yelp reviews for Elizabeth, N.J., restaurant First American Fried Chicken, they would have found just two of them, praising the food, wide selection and late hours. Now, the majority of reviews give the restaurant one star, refer to the owners as "terrorists," talk about "72 virgin bucket specials" and mention — repeatedly — that their chicken is "the bomb."

Canon McMillan School District

  A public school cafeteria worker has quit over what she considers a "lunch shaming" policy in one western Pennsylvania school district.

Stacy Kotiska says she quit last week after she had to take a hot lunch away from a child because their parent had fallen more than $25 behind in paying for his school lunches.

The Canon-McMillan School District enacted the policy to deal with a backlog of about 300 parents who owed tens of thousands of dollars. Now fewer than 70 parents owe money, and the district says the policy isn't meant to shame students.

Rose Tileston / Hidden Harvest

There are 600 fruit-bearing trees in Pittsburgh, according to the most recent municipal forest analysis in 2008. They line streets and grow in parks, but Hana Uman with the nonprofit 412 Food Rescue said much of that fruit rots.

“When we go and check out some of these trees, there’s just often fruit all over the ground,” she said. “So that is fruit that could have been used and just goes to waste.”

Artisanal Food Waste: Can You Turn Scraps Into Premium Products?

Aug 19, 2016

Many efforts to address the food waste crisis hinge on getting consumers to buy fruits and vegetables that are adorably ugly — the bumpy tomato, the bulbous carrot, the dinged apple. Taste and nutritional value aren't compromised by their irregular appearance.

In 1977, Deborah Barsel, a bored assistant registrar at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y., decided to try a fun side project. She would create a cookbook made up of recipes and images from famous photographers of the day. She sent letters to various artists and put an ad in the museum's magazine asking for submissions. In return, she received 120 photos, recipes and even a postcard from urban photographer John Gossage saying simply: "I eat out."

We're living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.

This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Pittsbrugh VegFest

VegFest returns to Pittsburgh on Saturday, with local businesses and enthusiasts sharing information about living a vegan lifestyle.

Though, non-vegans are encouraged to check out the event too, which starts at 11 a.m. at Allegheny Commons Park East on the North Side. 

It's a balmy Sunday night in late June in San Francisco, post-Pride parade, and I'm about to eat dinner in a pristine blue dumpster in a dead-end SOMA (South of Market) street. The event, Salvage Supperclub, seeks to draw attention to food waste and encourage home cooks to not throw out less than ideal, yet still edible stuff.

A glance at the menu and the evening looks promising. The hosts are gracious, the guests friendly and the organizers earnest. The dumpster is simply but tastefully decked out: glass tea lights, long wooden benches, bar towel napkins.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Faced with a citation and the threat of losing their liquor license for noise violations, the owners of James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy are crowdsourcing to afford costly soundproofing renovations this summer. 

You probably know Neil deGrasse Tyson as an astrophysicist with a seemingly endless stream of science fun facts at his command. You might not be aware that he is also a great oenophile and lover of food.

Some 16 years ago, before I was a journalist and illustrator, I worked with Neil at the American Museum of Natural History. He would sometimes carry around a small canvas tote bag. As I recall, the bag would contain one of two things: either a weighty, mango-sized meteorite to show to guests of the museum, or a bottle of wine to gift to a colleague.

Over the past few years, so-called ugly fruit and vegetables have been gaining a host of admirers.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

In its second year running, Picklesburgh attracted new visitors and vendors to its celebration on the Rachel Carson Bridge on Friday, July 15, 2016.

When we think about the good life, art and food rank pretty high in importance. (OK, we at The Salt might be a little biased.) So it seems only natural that the two mix. Foods crop up in all kinds of art — from ancient Egyptian tomb walls to European still life paintings.

But in art, an apple isn't always just an apple. Many foods carry specific meanings for different global artistic traditions, and those meanings can change over time.

How well do you understand the secret language of foods in art? Take this quiz to find out.

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

Jun 29, 2016

For the past few years, my friends and I have noticed two trends when dining. First, seemingly every high-end menu rebukes factory farming with an essay about locally sourced pork belly, and second, just about every one of these restaurants looks so much like a factory — with exposed light bulbs, steel details and brick walls — that I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for the foreman.

Didriks / flickr

The latest issue of Pittsburgh Magazine looks at the best restaurants in town. But what does the making the list mean for diners, the restaurants and how what does it say about the city? We’ll pose those questions to food writer Hal B. Klein.

On June 23, the United Kingdom will vote on whether or not to split from the European Union.

Those on the Remain Team, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, say Britain will be richer, safer and stronger if it stays with Europe. Those who want Britain to exit — Team Brexit — argue that the British should be able to control their own destiny. We haven't fought two world wars, they sniff, to be pushed around by the bosses in Brussels and told what sort of bananas to eat. Yes, you read that right: bananas.

When the mayor of Philadelphia first proposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the American Beverage Association was quick to finance a campaign railing against it.

Since March, records show that the industry has financed more than $4.2 million in media buys in Philadelphia to air ads aimed at turning public opinion against the proposal.

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the larger horticultural research farm at Iowa State University.

On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

"I didn't know how passionate I [would] become for physical work," says culinary science major Heidi Engelhardt.

The new, redesigned "Nutrition Facts" label is coming. The Food and Drug Administration has announced that the new label will be required on most packaged food by July 2018.

Philadelphia's new mayor wants to do something few American cities have done: pass a tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

So far, Berkeley, Calif., has been the only U.S. city to approve such a tax. That measure was aimed at reducing soda consumption (and the negative health effects that go along with drinking too much of it).

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Christian season of Lent spans six weeks leading up to Easter. For some, that means giving up something they love like chocolate, television or profanity.

Mary Kate Ranii, 25, of Shaler Township said this year she wanted to sacrifice trash.

Thinking Outside The Lunch Box At Project Lunch Tray

Feb 24, 2016
Katie Schratz / Community Kitchen Pittsburgh

School lunches have come a long way from the days of mystery meat and tater tots passing as a nutritious lunch. These days, the emphasis is on fresh and healthy foods.

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh’s Project Lunch Tray will host a two-hour competition for teams of student chefs to create a school lunch from scratch with the help of a chef mentor. The event, free and open to the public for tastings, takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Smallman Gallery in the Strip District.

 

 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Health Department officials announced their first group of “Live Well” restaurants on Thursday in a continued effort to provide healthier options to locals.

The list, so far, includes the Bridges Restaurant in the Oakland Wyndham hotel and four UPMC hospital cafeterias and cafes.

 

As the holidays quickly approach, Social Club has all the events to get you into the holiday spirit and all the places to buy your last minute gifts this weekend. 

Phipps Winter Flower Show is in full swing. Enjoy indoor and outdoor displays “decked” out for the holidays. The event runs from 5-11 pm all weekend.

ereyesleblanc / Flickr

Joining cities such as Amsterdam, Shanghai and Barcelona, Pittsburgh has signed onto the “Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.” It’s a worldwide effort to examine the system of how food is produced and distributed as demographics change.

Courtesy Mac & Gold

The laws that govern food trucks in Pittsburgh were written in an era when ice cream trucks were the only food vendors on wheels, well before mobile pierogi and taco vendors took to the streets, councilman Dan Gilman said.

For example, city code requires food trucks to move every 30 minutes.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

From vegetable garden bounties to sliced and diced ingredients to plated meals, pictures of food are ubiquitous on social media. Anyone with a smartphone can make beautiful photographs of food.

Onion Maiden

Most people define the vegan experience through what you put on your plate, but VegFest co-organizer Leila Sleiman says there’s a lot more to it.

“A truly vegan lifestyle actually also encompasses not buying products that test on animals, not wearing animal products and not supporting animals in entertainment,” she said.

looseends / Flickr

It’s part Chopped, part Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games, but with a local and educational twist.

Four students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s culinary program will compete the in the first-ever Farmer’s Market Dash Culinary Challenge at the Green Tree farmer’s market Thursday afternoon.

Courtesy Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants

Pittsburgh restaurant owners, chefs and farmers have teamed with Sustainable Pittsburgh to launch the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program, which recognizes southwestern PA restaurants for their efforts in operating energy efficient and socially responsible establishments, especially as the city’s eateries garner increasing national attention.

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