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Culture Health News

12-Year-Old Starts Clean Water Fund To Help Communities With Contaminated Water

On April 25th, 2014, looking to save money, state officials switched Flint, Michigan’s drinking water supply from the Detroit city system to the Flint River. The switch resulted in city-wide contamination of the Flint, Michigan water system. Improperly treated and highly corrosive lead-filled water began leaching out from aged pipes into thousands of homes. Soon following, complaints of dark, foul-tasting and smelly water began surfacing. Complaints grew further with reports of skin rashes and hair loss. Tests found significant water samples with lead levels well above “action level,” with some more than 100 times the action level. Until now the contamination has affected Flint residents of all age groups and has yet to be fully addressed by the state, leaving locals to fend for themselves.

In response, many celebrities and notable figures voiced their outrage in an attempt to raise awareness. With a lack of initial action from the state, citizens partnered with the NRDC (National Resources And Defense Council) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to bring the local government before a federal court. This action resulted in no state compliance although they did not ask for monetary damages. In 2017, after pressure, a settlement was reached with the state government that required them to locate and remove all lead from the water systems by 2020. Up to $97 Million was allocated to the effort. The battle for clean water is still ongoing.

Enter Little Miss Flint,  Mariyanna Copeny, who was just 8-years-old when she decided to pen a letter to President Barack Obama in order to bring awareness to the Flint Water Crisis. Moved by the letter, Obama visited the city in 2016. Witnessing first hand the devastating impact water contamination had on the community, Obama declared a federal state of emergency, thereby bringing the crisis to national attention. As the efforts urge onward, Copeny has continued raising awareness through speeches, free water bottle distribution and various community efforts. 

Now 12, Copeny’s latest move finds her partnering with water filtration company Hydroviv H2O to bring water filters into the homes of Flint citizens. To achieve this, she started a GoFundMe with an initial goal of raising $100,000. The page highlights not only Flint, but water issues in Newark, NJ, Pittsburgh, PA, and New York City as well.

A donation of just $1 provides the equivalent of 160 water bottles. With so many issues facing the world today, sometimes it can be overwhelming and seemingly hopeless. Yet, Copeny shows us that every little bit helps.

As of September 29, 2019, the GoFundMe surpassed the $100,000 goal and is now at a goal of $150,000, with $124,796 donated in total so far.

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#foodbeast Cravings Food Trends Restaurants

Korean Fried Chicken Is Ready For the Mainstream

What’s all the hoopla over KFC? No, not that KFC, I’m talking about Korean fried chicken, which is letting it be known it’s not just a substitute for American fried chicken, but is its own thing entirely. Spots like Momofuku Ko, Bonchon Chicken, The Gangjung and OG KFC franchise, Pelicana Chicken, are only a few that have made a name on the food scene. They’re waving the banner high for other established joints like The Prince and Kyochon, who have held it down in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood for years. Ever heard of quadruple fried chicken? I hadn’t either. But before we dive into South Korea’s take on fried chicken, let me give ya’ll a little background.

Established in 1977 in the basement of Seoul’s Shinsegae Department Store, the first modern-day Korean fried chicken joint was called “Lims Chicken.” As the first fried chicken franchise in South Korea, Lims became extremely popular amongst locals who were used to eating chicken boiled with rice and ginseng. The restaurant employed a cooking method that involves frying the chicken twice, thus creating a version of fried chicken that was thinner and crispier than its American counterpart. As the demand for fried chicken in Korea grew, it was the arrival of Pelicana Chicken in 1982 that really changed the game. 

Photo by: National Institute of Korean Language on WikiCommons, CC BY-SA 2.0 KR

Pelicana created what we know today as Korean fried chicken by being the first to drench it in sweet and spicy sauce. This approach is popularly referred to as “yangnyeom (seasoned) chicken,” and was a driving stimulus behind future innovations on the KFC scene.

Evolving as the years progressed, today there are four flavors and three styles of Korean fried chicken available for chicken lovers. “Dankganjeong” is the most traditional flavor of KFC, and is considered by some to be the Korean version of orange chicken. It’s fried twice using potato or corn starch mixed with seasoning, and glazed with a sweet garlic soy sauce. One LA-based restaurant that’s fittingly named and known for their dankganjeong is The Gangjung. They offer an array of flavors from garlic to barbeque. Out east in New York, modern Korean soul food gastropub, Windrose, provides an upscale presentation using a cloche as a makeshift smoker that when removed reveals glistening dankganjeong.

Another flavor is “padak,” which means “green onion-chicken.” It’s plain fried chicken smothered with slivers of fresh green onions. Palisades Park, NJ hot spot MaMa Chicken features generous portions of padak on their menu along with a range of options to keep your taste satisfied.

For the humble palate there’s plain ol’ fried chicken, which is named “huraideu.” David Chang’s famous Monofuku Ko has what is called “Fried Chicken But Cold,” which is exactly what you think. The prestige lies in the quadruple fried skin which maintains its crispiness even after refrigeration.

The other two KFC styles are “sunsal,” meaning “boneless” and “tongdak,” which means “whole chicken.” Lims Chicken originally popularized tongdak in the 1970s. It’s made by submerging a whole chicken into a fryer until it’s extra crispy, and is then served rotisserie style. 

Photo by: happy o’ne on WikiCommons, CC By 2.0 KR

As you can see, there’s a KFC style for every mood. Fried chicken will always be a comfort food staple and as Korean fried chicken continues to gain mainstream popularity, you can expect more unique approaches.

Next time you’re trying to decide how to appease your munchies after a night of partying, be sure to type “Korean fried chicken near me,” into your search engine.

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#foodbeast News Restaurants What's New

Chipotle Debuts Carne Asada Nationwide


Photo: Omari Allen

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the long awaited arrival of Mexican food staple, carne asada. Having tested the new menu item in Fresno and Cincinnati to amazing results, they’re now launching it nationwide for a limited time. It took two years of research and development by Chipotle’s Director of Culinary and Menu Development Chad Brauze in order to nail the perfect recipe. I had the opportunity to sample their new protein and am pleased to say that it hits the mark in terms of flavor and consistency. 

Chipotle’s carne asada is thinly sliced and grilled with lime juice, cilantro, coriander, cinnamon, and cumin, giving it a distinct taste next to their usual steak option. Citrusy hints mingle with aromatic flavors further enhanced by a kick of spice. The consistency is tender and buttery; a lighter steak alternative with a fresher finish. It manages to maintain the carne asada experience one would experience at a tried and true spot while elevating the typical Chipotle experience. Moreover, keeping in line with their commitment to quality assurance, the new carne asada is Keto, Paleo and Whole30 compliant.

Photo: Omari Allen

For those that live in Dallas, Detroit and San Diego, Chipotle is also testing out a new sauce to pair with your protein. It’s called Queso Blanco and is made of Monterey Jack, white cheddar, serano, chipotle, and poblano peppers mixed with various spices. I had the pleasure of sampling it and can confirm that it’s cheesier and creamier, with a spicy whisper at the end which makes it stand apart from their current queso. It can be used as a dipping sauce or a perfect compliment to your burrito or bowl. Depending on reception, the Queso Blanco sauce may soon join the Chipotle menu officially. 


Photo: Omari Allen

Chipotle’s new carne asada is now available at all locations nationwide for a limited time.

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Culture News Products What's New

This Spice Company Sells the Rarest Sichuan Chili Peppers Directly From China

I love spicy foods. When I cook, friends often tell me to tone it down. Instead, I just make it spicier and amusingly await their reaction. There is something addictive about the combination of pleasure and the sharp tingle of spice on your tongue. Even the recent heatwave we had in Los Angeles didn’t stop me from eating spicy foods. In my appreciation for spice, I’m happy to report that LA-based sauce brand Fly By Jing is offering fans of Sichuan cuisine a chance to get their hands on actual peppers from the motherland.

For those unfamiliar with these special peppers, they originate from the Sichuan province in southwestern China. Not particularly spicy on their own, they create an all at once numbing and tingling feeling on the tongue when consumed. Then when combined with chili peppers it creates the “numb-spicy” sensation that we’ve come to associate with Sichuan cuisine.

In celebration of Sichuan culinary culture, Fly By Jing wants to bring the authentic Eastern experience to your doorstep. August was the annual pepper harvest and each year they almost sell out immediately. Thankfully, Fly By Jing snagged a few for you pepper-philes. The first pepper is called the Harvest Tribute Pepper, which is an ancient Chinese spice that has been cultivated in the Sichuan province for thousands of years. It’s known for that electric sensation I previously mentioned. The second pepper is called the Harvest Erjingtiao Chili. It is the most popular variety of chili in Sichuan and has a mild kick accompanied by an intense aroma. Both are now available online.

For those who lean more towards the “ready-made” side of options, Fly By Jing offers two different sauces. Each are all natural, MSG-free, gluten free and vegan friendly. The Sichuan Chili Crisp is their flagship sauce, made with erjingtao chiles, harvest peppers, and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. It’s not overly spicy and has an intense flavor that’s apparently so good it can even be paired with ice cream. Their next sauce is the Zhong Dumpling Sauce, slow-brewed with fragrant chili-oil, aromatic “fu zhi” soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms, garlic, and other spices. This sauce has a variety of uses as well, particularly for noodles, grilled fish and of course, dumplings. So If you’re looking to spice up your life with some traditional Sichuan flavors, Fly By Jing got the sauce.

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Brand Food Fashion Food Trends Packaged Food Pop-Ups Products What's New

Bloomingdale’s and Peach Mart Collaborate on a Snack Box featuring Asia’s Favorite Munchies

New York radio legend Minya Oh, best known as Miss Info, has curated a selection of Seoul-inspired goods for Bloomingdale’s seventh edition of “The Carousel: Window Into Seoul.” The Carousel is a rotating pop-up concept inspired by the idea, “retail is theatre,” which was coined by past Bloomingdale’s CEO Marvin Traub. Driven by culturally relevant themes and curated by special guest tastemakers, The Carousel adds a bit of “retailtainment” to the Bloomingdale’s experience. 

The latest concept honors South Korea as a cultural hub on the forefront of beauty, fashion, and music. To offer an authentic experience, Miss Info chose products from 25 trend-setting Seoul-based brands including W Concept, the largest fashion e-commerce and multi-brand retailer in Korea, and Amorepacific, one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies based in South Korea. There’s no shortage of options with products ranging between fashion, beauty, home categories as well as popular snacks. 

Home categories offer an array of products to enhance your domestic life like a Philips smokeless grill, a mandolin from OXO, a Scoby Kombucha kit and a rice cooker from Zojirushi.

This munchie experience is offered in Peach Mart snack boxes. Peach Mart is a take-away shop from Chef David Chang’s Momofuku. Snack connoisseurs are sure to be in heaven with each box containing a wide selection of popular snacks like Pocky and Koala’s March, perfect for sharing with a friend. In addition to snacks, “Window Into Seoul,” also offers three savory sauces from KPOP Foods, an up and coming Korean flavor-inspired brand. Flavors included are kimchi, honey glaze and their special KPOP sauce.

You can get your Asian snacks fix from “Window Into Seoul” at four Bloomingdale’s locations — 59th Street, Soho, Century City, San Francisco  and online from September 5th through November 4th. 

 

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Brand Cravings Feedback Food Trucks News Products What's New

Ben & Jerry’s New Flavor Combats Social Injustice


Photos courtesy of  Ben & Jerry’s

While famous for their delicious ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s has long been involved in social and environmental justice. Their latest campaign finds them partnering with Advancement Project National Office on a new campaign called “Justice ReMix’d.” Justice ReMix’d is a new flavor concoction described as cinnamon and chocolate ice cream with chunks of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownie. It was created to help spotlight structural racism in a broken criminal legal system. To spearhead the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s tapped actor Jessie Williams, of Grey’s Anatomy fame, to help announce the new ice cream flavor.  Aside from acting, Jessie Williams is a prominent voice on the social activism front and is a member of Advancement Project National Office. 

Advancement Project National Office is a multi-racial civil rights organization that has been involved in community work for over a decade. Recently, criminal justice reform has become a hot topic thanks to a handful of documentaries like Ava Duvernay’s “The 13th,” sparking conversation amongst mainstream culture. While tackling social injustice is an up-hill fight, the Justice ReMix’d campaign presents a fun way to connect over a complex subject. Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Ben Cohen had this to say:

“Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground. We bring every resource we have to support them — our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community and of course, ice cream. Somehow, it’s easier to talk about difficult issues over a scoop or two.”  

Judith Browne Dianis, Advancement Project National Office’s Executive Director added, “Our country needs to invest in services that build up communities rather than those that tear them down. That means ending a wealth-based pre-trial detention system that locks people up because they are poor, black or brown. It means dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, divesting from criminalizing students and investing in the creation of high-quality education and services. It’s time to reimagine safety and justice.” 

Justice ReMix’d can be found at grocery stores and Ben & Jerry Scoop Shops nationwide with a portion of the proceeds going towards Advancement Project National Office to support their Free & Safe campaignIn addition to tasty ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s will be sending its Scoop Truck around several states to start conversations, activate members of the community, and give away ice cream. Everyone enjoys ice cream, but now you can enjoy it and show your support for criminal justice reform by purchasing Justice ReMix’d at your local grocery store.

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#foodbeast Animals Culture Health News Plant-Based Sustainability

Eddie Huang Goes Vegan Amidst Amazon Rainforest Crisis

Photo: May S. Young on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Incase you’re living under a rock or somewhere off the grid like Tibet, you’ve probably heard that the Amazon rainforest has been on fire for over three weeks. In a time where climate change is a hot button issue, this news should alarm you.  The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, covering over 5.5 million square kilometers and producing more than 20% of all oxygen. To give you an idea of how significant 20% is, the Amazon is referred to as our planet’s lungs.  Suffice to say, it plays a major role in the fight against climate change.

There have been a reported 72,843 fires in the rainforest this year, the highest rate since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) began tracking them in 2013. What’s really crazy about all of this is the fact that news outlets only began reporting on the fire this past Wednesday. Word of the fire set the internet ablaze as news spread throughout social media, with news outlets receiving heavy scrutiny for the three-week coverage delay.  

Photo: Unknown on Pxhere, CC0 1.0

Thankfully, information on how you can help is now reaching the masses. In addition to speaking out, one celebrity is taking it a step further in an effort to show solidarity. Announcing that he is going vegan in response to the environmental crisis, writer, host, chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang had this to say:

“After watching videos of the Amazon on fire this week, I’ve decided that this corned beef I ate at Junior’s last week will be the last piece of beef I ever eat,” he wrote on Instagram. 

As a famed restaurateur and former host of Vice’s HBO show “Huang’s World,” Huang is no stranger to eating meat. He continued, “[I love food] but I don’t love what food tv and more importantly what food has become in our culture: a drug.”

With a newfound beef with beef, he explained further, “I’m going to go vegan because it takes 20 times less land to feed a vegan than a meat eater and over 90% of the land cleared in the amazon rainforest since 1970 is used for grazing livestock, but if all of us just stopped eating BEEF it would solve huge problems.”

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After watching videos of the Amazon on fire this week, Ive decided that this corned beef I ate at Junior’s last week will be the last piece of beef I ever eat. I love beef, I love ox tails, I love Peter Luger’s, I loved growing up in a steak house cutting NY Strip on xanax. It was soothing but beef is fucking us. Actually, we are fucking ourselves on multiple levels and we need to make changes. Im going to go vegan because it takes 20 times less land to feed a vegan than a meat eater and over 90% of the land cleared in the amazon rainforest since 1970 is used for grazing livestock, but if all of us just stopped eating BEEF it would solve huge problems. Eat fish, eat chicken, eat pork until the next crisis but if all u can do now is quit beef, please do it. I know a lot of ass backwards people think vegetarianism or veganism is some uppity white girl thing to do but its not. There have been Asian Buddhist Vegetarians for thousands of years, Ital Rasta, Hindu as well, this is not some new age thing to laugh at. We are getting back to roots, healing the Earth, and ourselves. Ive eaten my last bite of meat. I wish I had planned this better and ate my mom’s ox tail soup but fuck it. There really isnt time to waste. Some things have to start today. I started to get these feelings shooting the last season of Huang’s World and fasted for 5 days because my producer David’s mom said I looked sick. She was right. The 5 days not eating fundamentally changed me and I shot the second half of the season while intermittent fasting. Ive made a lot of food videos because I love food but more than anything because food was fertile ground for exploring difference, but I dont love what food tv and more importantly what food has become in our culture: a drug. I had a really rough 2018- early 2019, got high and just ate myself to sleep watching Harry Potter a lot lol but Im getting back on my shit. Take a moment, think about it, and reexamine your relationship with food because it’ll make the Earth and ourselves very very sick if we keep abusing it.

A post shared by Eddie Huang (@mreddiehuang) on

Whether or not he sticks to his guns and truly switches to vegan, the stance alone is a powerful one. Oftentimes it takes celebrities speaking out to inspire action on a large scale and Huang’s actions are certainly commendable. You definitely don’t need to go vegan in order to help, but everyone should feel inspired to do something. It can be as simple as sharing a post. Let’s hope climate awareness continues to grow as the world comes together to save the Amazon. 

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#foodbeast Adventures Culture Food Festivals Health Pop-Ups

KIVA Confections Elevates Cannabis Culture at Outside Lands Music Festival

Photo by Omari Allen

Recently San Francisco held their 11th annual Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park. Like any music festival, the bill featured a long list of performers across a wide range of genres. Aside from great music, the main draw to Outside Lands is its emphasis on food, wine, and art. San Francisco is known for its restaurant scene and with Napa Valley and Sonoma nearby, its wine scene is pretty poppin’ too. Each year Outside Lands invites visitors to feel like a San Franciscan for a weekend in what may be described as a love letter to the city. 

Another thing San Francisco is famous for is it’s cannabis culture. Haight-Ashbury, a district widely known as the birthplace of the hippie movement, has had a storied history with cannabis. The first well known cannabis dispensary, or “head shop,” was called Ron and Jay Thelin’s Psychedelic Shop, which opened in 1966 and grew, along with others, to become a major hub for the hippie movement. Steeped in counter-establishment ideals and widespread drug use, the movement was regarded by mainstream society as naive and idealistic. Popular terms used to describe hippies were tree-hugger, beatnik, granola, liberal, and the most notorious, stoner. 


Photo: MK Feeney on Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The “stoner” image still stigmatizes cannabis culture, although the movement dissipated long ago. Only in recent years has the word shed some of its negative connotation, gaining popularity through entertainment and the internet. With access to information and a global community, the benefits of cannabis began to see the light of day. One example of progress was this year’s aforementioned Outside Lands Music Festival. It wasn’t the first year OSL allowed visitors to consume cannabis, but it was the first time it has been legally sold at a music festival. I was curious to experience the “experiment” first hand, especially the booth by California-based brand, KIVA Confections. The edible market has evolved considerably in the past few years and KIVA is at the forefront.


Photo by Omari Allen

KIVA Confections was started in 2010. Their goal was to offer cannabis edibles that were potent, consistent and tasty.  At the time, the cannabis edible market was less regulated, having a more inconsistent homemade quality. KIVA co-founders Scott Palmer & Kristi Knoblich saw an opportunity to elevate the cannabis edible. Searching for fresh approaches to cannabis infusion, they consulted with a local chocolatier which helped bring everything into focus. They next met with expert cannabis cultivators and certified analytics laboratories to ensure the highest quality product. Like with any start up, it took some effort before they landed on the perfect edible. Fast forward to today and KIVA Confections, through efficacy, food safety, and business integrity, has become one of the leading California-based cannabis edibles. They have maintained their mission to offer a premium cannabis experience for customers. I witnessed this first hand during my visit to their confectionary booth at Outside Lands.


Photo courtesy of KIVA Confections

If you’ve never attended Outside Lands, it is made up of different “lands” which offer unique experiences. For example, if you’re looking for libation, there is Beer Land and Wine Land. And for “canna-bation,” there’s Grass Lands, a sprawling stoner paradise perfectly situated under a shadowy canopy of tall blue gum eucalyptus trees. The Grass Lands were definitely the chillest land around, filled with a wide range of cannabis vendors, smoking sections and interactive activities. Located squarely in the center, and standing out amongst the more subdued color palettes of neighboring vendors, was the KIVA Confectionary booth. 

Photo courtesy of KIVA Confections

The booth was shining white with gold trim and had a See’s Candies feel, an aesthetic akin to quality confectionaries consumers are typically familiar with. Workers were dressed in white dress shirts with black aprons, wearing white 5-panel baseball caps which added a hip, yet classy feel. Festival-goers bustled around the booth, patiently waiting to get their hands on one of KIVA’s confections. My personal favorite was the dark chocolate KIVA bar with the Camino pineapple habanero gummies being a close runner up. KIVA’s chocolate tastes rich, full and creamy yet has a subdued bite with a balanced sweetness. Their gummies melt in your mouth. The pineapple habanero flavor leaves a slight tingly feeling on the tongue, adding a spicy kick to the sweet flavor profile. With only 5 milligrams of THC in each serving, microdosing KIVA’s confections offers a smooth and subtle high, perfect to experience over the course of a day. Interactive stations included mazes, a gumball machine, mystery drawers and a life-sized chocolate fountain, which unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of swimming in.

Photo courtesy of KIVA Confections

KIVA Confections elevates cannabis culture through its aesthetic and focus on quality. The care they take can not only be tasted, but felt through the clean product design, informative packaging, and potency. With a blind taste test, it’d be hard to know that cannabis is in the product. But, you can certainly feel it. Like the cannabis taste, the microdosing effects are subtle as well — the perfect amount for first time cannabis edible users. Coincidentally, this aligns with the recent resurgence of “hippie ideals” in the last few years. In a time where legal medical and recreational cannabis use is prevalent, getting high doesn’t overshadow the actual benefits of cannabis use like it once did. By making more artisanal and thoughtful products, KIVA’s approach is helping to de-stigmatize the “lazy stoner” image. 

The confectionary booth attracted a wide range of festival-goers of various age groups and backgrounds, displaying how the culture is evolving into something the average consumer can enjoy.  It’s only a matter of time before cannabis-infused products are a norm at your local grocery store.

Photo courtesy of KIVA Confections