Categories
Sweets Technology

Polaroid Has Created A 3D Pen That Draws Actual Candy

Photo: Polaroid

Look, we don’t have flying cars yet, but things like the smartest of smart phones, personal drone cameras, and 3D printing help in being a sign of the times. Polaroid’s taking 3D printing a step further in a tasty direction by creating a pen that 3d prints actual candy.

Shocking, sure. Imagine kids getting another form of sugar rush fit for a Jetson child. From out the box, the Polaroid Candy Play 3D Pen comes with six colors and flavors, is sugar free and vegan-friendly, and includes four free strawberry candy cartridges.

What you can create is up to your vast imagination, but the reality of some sweet, edible art at the literal stoke of a pen is possible now for $50.00 retail.

Categories
Technology

This App Compares The Cheapest and Fastest Food Delivery Services All At Once

Decluttering our lives and getting our zen on in the name of simplicity and minimal peace is always a good thing, ask Marie Kondo and her fans. Streamlining and trimming the fat has always been good, especially when it comes to the white noise of delivery apps these days. Sure, variety and choices are a simple pleasure, but having to toggle between Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, and Caviar can be a bit much when you’re hungry and need a quick solution to your stomach’s grumbles.

Enter MealMe, an app started by co-founders Matthew Bouchner and Will Said, that aggregates the major food delivery apps in one, all while finding the cheapest and fastest delivery for every restaurant local to you. Such a premise — think of it as how Kayak and Priceline are to the travel industry — is a genius concept applied to the food space, especially in a pandemic-ravaged restaurant industry that has relied on food delivery apps heavily in the past year.

Use of the app is super easy, acting as a veritable search engine for food and offering up the best deals, fastest delivery times, and most savings as results, with figures and approximate times displayed clearly. This provides an ease of use, that of which I experienced myself, which makes it a no brainer to have it serve as consumers’ one-stop hub for food delivery.

As seen in the shot above, fees saved, price match figures, average delivery time, and even extra exclusive discounts unique to MealMe users are conveniently displayed, which then can be directly ordered in the app from any of the major food delivery services that makes most sense in terms of savings and convenience.

So for those exhausted of having to peruse through multiple apps just to satisfy your immediate cravings, MealMe is a smart choice that makes absolute sense and can be downloaded on the App Store. Because if we can leave the frustration of having too much choices to just streaming services only, then we can all take a collective sigh of relief.

Categories
Restaurants Technology

@Pizza Brand Brings Together Independent Pizzerias Under Uber Eats

Photo courtesy Expedite

Uber Eats is making some big moves lately. Earlier this week, the third-party delivery platform purchased Drizly, the alcohol e-commerce giant, for $1.1 Billion. Now, they’re shifting their focus to pizza.

According to Expedite’s release, a new umbrella brand called @pizza will house about 150 independent pizzerias.

So what’s that mean?

These 150 pizzerias from around the country will be exclusive for delivery under Uber Eats.

Lawrence Vavra, the founder and CEO of @pizza’s parent company @Restaurants, says that this project was intended to level the playing field against significant pizza chains. Joining this pizza group will not cost ma and pa shops extra, it seems. The independent restaurants are said to receive the same amount of money they would for any Uber Eats order.

The @pizza brand has also partnered with @FuckJerry to help promote the new initiative.

All the independent pizzerias under @pizza will appear in the Uber Eats app when ordering. Pizzas will be delivered in rebranded @pizza boxes with the Uber Eats logo on them.

Time will tell how successful this initiative is. Many consider the third-party platform harmful for a smaller business with their fees, so here’s hoping this genuinely shines a light on independent mom and pop pizzerias.

Categories
Fast Food Food Policy Food Waste Science Sustainability Technology

The Top 10 Most Climate Friendly Fast Food Chains, Ranked

Photo: Erik McClean // Unsplash

One of the biggest things that has to change for the world to be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050 is our food systems. Many produce food at unsustainable rates that don’t give back to the environment or allow things to regrow and populations to recover. 

While eating in such a climate-friendly way is oftentimes expensive, many fast food chains are contributing to the cause by altering how they source their food, plastics, and energy. It’s a key step in helping change our food systems, since chains affect massive swaths of the food supply while feeding millions of people.

Sure, fast food isn’t what you would think of as completely “climate-friendly,” but many chains have made some big efforts in making their systems more sustainable. The ten chains on this list have done the most in that regard compared to other fast food giants. 

When looking at what chains would make this list, we looked at the efforts they’ve made in providing sustainable food options, reducing waste and plastic usage, and overall conservation efforts for energy, water, and other resources needed to run a restaurant empire. Any support given to farming and conservation efforts that aim to make the food chain sustainable are also a big plus. 

“Clean label” was not a factor considered, although many may link it to a chain that’s more environmentally friendly. “Clean label” has more to do with ingredients than it does with sustainability, and not all “clean label” chains make equitable efforts when it comes to the environment. If they do, however, chances are they’ll show up on here!

10) White Castle

White Castle was one of the first major fast food chains to add any plant-based meat alternatives, incorporating Impossible Foods into their arsenal in 2018. That’s not the only change they’ve been making to their food, however: they ensure that their fish is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable, they recycle some of their cooking oil for biodiesel fuel, and use post-consumer recyclables to make their packaging. This includes items like the Crave Cases, which are made using recyclable materials.

The OG burger chain also has a commitment to drop their emissions by at least one percent every year. While they’re not posting regular reports about their sustainability efforts, they are transparent about the steps they are taking to improve their food system, and have a couple of sustainable meal options.

9) Taco Bell

Taco Bell makes it onto the bottom part of this list for a couple of reasons: they have a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options for those looking to avoid more meat (a climate resource-heavy protein), and they commit to using sustainable palm oil in their food. Most of their packaging is also recyclable, reusable, or compostable, and all of it will be by 2025. 

On that alone, they probably would have not made this list. However, their earlier announcement that they were beginning to test Beyond Meat products in 2021 means that one of the world’s largest fast food giants is making a serious effort to look at alternatives to ground beef, and that deserves inclusion for the impact this 7,000-plus location giant can have on the industry.

8) Subway

While Subway often doesn’t make the conversation as a ground-breaking chain, they do have a lot of efforts in place when it comes to being climate-friendly. They’ve developed ECO restaurants, use packaging that’s all recyclable or compostable, and have begun piloting energy conservation and food composting/waste diversion programs. 

The sandwich empire also sources ingredients from suppliers that practice environmental stewardship and eco-friendly farming, according to their website. A lot of this is dependent on different franchisees taking these steps themselves, although it is being fostered into the larger company culture. 

Subway also does have a Beyond Meatball Sub for those looking for plant-based protein options.

7) Starbucks

When it comes to packaging and sourcing, Starbucks is definitely a global leader in being climate-friendly. They’ve already taken plastic straws out of their restaurants, made their cups recyclable, and are striving to halve their emission, waste, and water usage by 2030. 

The coffee titan also sources 99% of its coffee through “ethical practices,” although it should be noted that these are internal ethical standards, and have been shown to be weaker in practice than they are on paper, especially when it comes to establishing minimum coffee prices and preventing slave labor. They are one of the largest purchasers of externally certified “Fair Trade” coffee, to be fair, but they are also the world’s biggest coffee company. That should be expected.

Starbucks has also dipped its toes into the plant-based meat game, introducing an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich to their menu. They’re also looking at bringing oat milk nationwide, and already have soy and almond milk as dairy-free alternatives.

6) Shake Shack

This is the first chain on this list that doesn’t have a dedicated plant-based meat offering either available or in the works, though their vegetarian Shroom Shack should not be slept on. However, Shake Shack does have an extensive animal welfare program set up that their suppliers follow, and have committed to updating their progress annually via third-party audits. 

Shake Shack also goes a step above other spots by using biodegradable straws and cups (for beers and shakes), building their locations with eco-friendly materials, and using sustainable power options like wind and renewable energy. They also invest in composting and recycling cooking oil to be used for biodiesel fuel. 

As the Shake Shack empire continues to grow, so will their mission of spreading climate-friendly food, environments, and structures. If they had some true plant-based alternatives to their burgers, they would definitely be higher on this list.

5) IKEA

People normally don’t think about IKEA as a food chain. Between its wide spread of cafes and food courts, however, it classifies as the world’s sixth largest, an astounding number. 

While they’re known for cheap prices and accessibility, IKEA also is taking massive steps forward when it comes to being climate-friendly. Here we’re just focusing on the food aspect, which is still pretty big: they’ve launched plant-based and salmon meatballs as more sustainable alternatives to their traditional and iconic beef version. 

IKEA also has ambitious plans to improve their entire food supply chain by 2030. This includes reducing food waste, sourcing from sustainable sources, making healthier food, and promoting animal welfare. The first of their programs from this “Better Food Programme,” focused on chicken, launched in 2018

Having one of the world’s largest food chains making such huge commitments is amazing. As those commitments are reached, it will almost certainly climb up on this list to compare with those who have taken huge steps already.

4) Jimmy John’s

Surprised? So were we, to be honest. Jimmy John’s and its 2,000 locations do a lot of amazing environmental work behind the scenes, but are public about the commitments they make on their site. This includes listing their suppliers on their website, as well as talking about the environmental commitments each of those suppliers have made. 

Jimmy John’s also has their own commitments that they practice, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. They also support improved environmental practices for raising meat on over 2 million acres of land, and target suppliers that use recyclable materials, energy, water, or all of the above. 

The sandwich chain also uses plenty of recyclable materials in its packaging. All of these are practices that have been in place since the company started in 1983, according to the website, so it’s deeply embedded in the company’s culture. They may not have plant-based meat offerings, but as sandwich chains go, these guys are doing great on the climate-friendly front.

3) McDonald’s

When we talk about fast food giants taking huge steps to be more climate-friendly, none have taken bigger and further steps than McDonald’s. Across all fronts, they are working to improve their food system, from sustainable agriculture to recycling and energy conservation. 

For their food, they’ve switched over their Filet-o-Fish sandwiches to all be Marine Stewardship Council certified for sustainability. They’ve been growing their lineup of ranchers to be more sustainable, use 100% sustainable espresso beans for their coffee, and follow United Nations guidelines when it comes to evaluating and implementing research in those fields. They’ve also tested many plant-based meat options globally, and we could finally see one hit US stores nationwide soon in the “McPlant” lineup

McDonald’s is also one of two fast food titans that have joined the NextGen Cup challenge to find a renewable solution for one of their largest pieces of waste (Starbucks has also joined). They also have extensive commitments and goals to minimize water, plastic, and energy usage, all of which can be viewed and evaluated on their corporate website

One of the chain’s biggest accomplishments in the climate-friendly space is creating a “Net Zero Energy” restaurant, which opened in 2020 at Disney World. It creates enough renewable energy to cover 100% of its needs annually, and is being used as a research hub to test solutions for locations nationwide to reduce energy and water use. These include photovoltaic panels, solar-powered lights, and even bikes that generate electricity.

2) Rubio’s

The fish taco specialist is one of the top chains in the world when it comes to sustainability. This is because nearly every option on its menu is already meeting, or close to meeting, goals when it comes to being climate-friendly. 

Just about every seafood option on Rubio’s menu is certified as “Responsibly Managed” according to a third-party certification from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the company displays as such on their website. This includes limited-time offerings like Langostino Lobster, an impressive feat. The only seafood to not be on that list is mahi mahi, and Rubio’s suppliers are working now to reach that certification. 

Rubio’s also emphasizes local sourcing for its other ingredients, like tortillas, and even has plant-based options from Impossible Foods on its menu. 

On top of its ingredient sourcing, Rubio’s also uses compostable and biodegradable takeout containers and napkins, meaning that its primary uses of packaging can go back into the earth and be reused. It also obtains third party certifications for its cups and paper menus to ensure they are recyclable as well, a huge plus.

Rubio’s gets close to the top for all of the remarkable efforts this chain is making, which are arguably the most of any restaurant empire on this list. Despite all of these efforts and transparency, however, there is one company that does more.

1) Chipotle

In the world of climate-friendly and sustainable food efforts, no chain is more thorough and transparent than Chipotle. They’re not just looking at the overall climate footprint picture, they have a tracker that shows how much environmental impact is reduced in each digital order. They’ve also begun to release annual climate reports that don’t just show targeted metrics: they’re transparent about whether those goals have been currently met, exceeded, or if they’re still behind on them. 

Chipotle has plant-based options that have long been on the menu, like Sofritas or their veggie bowl option. However, they’re also willing to remove options if they’re not up to par, like when Carnitas was temporarily taken off the menu after it was discovered that some pork suppliers had animal welfare problems. 

In terms of waste, the chain also goes above and beyond there. They have a program that donates used equipment and furniture (ie. grills and food processors) to local schools and nonprofits, and even has a Harvest Program that generates meals from leftovers that get donated to local communities. It also has set up composting in close to a fifth of its restaurants. 

Overall, Chipotle is the most climate-friendly fast food chain out there because it is taking the most steps to improve environmentally andis also the most transparent and open about it. They openly market environmental sustainability to the point where you can track it online orders, promoting a future of food that is better for the environment and the planet. What other major fast food players can say that? 

Categories
Alcohol Drinks Technology

Uber Buys Alcohol E-Commerce Giant Drizly For $1.1 Billion

Photo: Robert Anasch // Unsplash and NYC Russ // Shutterstock

Uber has already established itself as a delivery and transport titan with its ridesharing and UberEats apps. It’s now going big in the alcohol space, as a new partnership poises it to become the largest alcohol delivery service in the country.

The tech behemoth just bought Drizly, an e-commerce drinks platform once known as the “Amazon of Alcohol,” for $1.1 billion. According to a press release, this deal will include the integration of Drizly onto the UberEats app, although Drizly’s independent app will also remain operational.

Uber will also begin to introduce perks and deals through Drizly once their purchase officially closes, which is expected to happen by the middle of 2021.

By acquiring Drizly, Uber is shaping itself as one of the kingpins in the food delivery oligarchy. They also own Postmates, meaning that DoorDash, Grubhub, and other delivery players are facing massive competition that just got a whole lot bigger.

It’s also unclear what this will mean for delivery drivers on both platforms. Uber did increase fees on its customers now that California has Prop 22 enacted, so we’ll have to see see if Drizly’s acquisition will result in a similar change for the alcohol app.

Categories
Food Policy Technology

Delivery Companies Threatened Fee Increases If Prop 22 Failed, They Happened Anyway

Photo: Robert Anasch // Unsplash

This past election season, delivery companies like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates campaigned hard for Proposition 22 to pass in California. The new labor standard law ended up becoming law, creating a new class of “gig worker” in California that gets new driver benefits, but loses out on a lot of other worker rights, including sick leave, discrimination protections, and collective bargaining rights.

Throughout the campaigning, the companies threatened fee increases if the proposition didn’t pass. That ended up happening anyway, with DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub all enacting fee increases by the end of 2020. Postmates just followed suit this past week, adding as much as $2.50 to each order.

As for the delivery drivers, the benefits they began to receive haven’t been up to par with what they hoped. According to reports from the progressive investigative journalist magazine The American Prospect, even max-hour drivers only qualify for $400 in monthly health insurance benefits, 40% of the premium for the lowest level of coverage from the Affordable Care Act.

On top of that, other companies, such as grocery stores, have begun to lay off employees to hire delivery drivers contracted through a third party instead.

It really seems that California citizens took a hard “L” on this legislation. Delivery companies got to make a new class of worker with less protections, charge money for that new class, and get their customers to pay for it, increasing their profits while seeing a boost in sales due to COVID-19.

The alternative, of course, is to go through other apps or just order directly from the restaurants. It’s the best way to support local restaurants as the pandemic rages on without undercutting the profits these small businesses might be making.

Categories
Fast Food Technology

Skip The Line With Raising Cane’s New App

When you go to a restaurant with an unfamiliar menu, and you have no idea what to order, do you find that the most foolproof way to satisfy your hunger or do you opt for the always reliable chicken fingers? It’s pretty hard to argue how clutch they are at any point of the day.

With the pandemic continuing to affect our dining habits, restaurants have had to quickly adapt to better serve their customers. Spots like Raising Cane’s and their undeniably satisfying chicken fingers have adjusted to this changing climate, and can now be in your hands faster with their new easy-to-use mobile app.

Available on both Google Play and the App Store, the Raising Cane’s app lets you order for now, later, or much later (up to a week in advance). No matter when you want it, that tender chicken with the tangy Cane’s Sauce, Texas toast, and crinkle cut fries are just a few clicks away. You can’t forget the crisp, complex taste of Dr Pepper to compliment that righteous Cane’s meal — it’s a match made in fast food heaven.

So allow the new Cane’s app to satisfy your cravings, drive over to the nearest Raising Cane’s location when your order is ready, skip the line, make a dash for the counter, grab your order and go! Only thing left to do is to smash and sip on that juicy Cane’s and ice cold Dr Pepper.

Categories
Animals Science Technology

FDA Approves Genetically Altered Pigs Meant To Prevent Meat Allergies From Triggering

Photo: Shutterstock

The FDA has given the green light to the usage of “GalSafe” pigs, a genetically engineered variety that is designed to prevent meat allergies from getting triggered when consuming pork.

GalSafe pigs were developed by biomedical firm Revivicor, who received the first-ever joint approval for their pigs in both food and medical uses. This means that in the future, we could see these pigs both being consumed and used in place of standard pork cells in current medical treatments.

Red meat allergies can be triggered by contracting “Alpha-gal Syndrome,” which is a condition that causes us to react to a specific sugar called “Alpha-gal” that is common in many mammals (excluding humans). These allergic reactions can range from mild to severe.

Alpha-gal Syndrome is believed to be transmitted via the bite of the Lone Star tick, but more research needs to be done to determine the role that the ticks play there.

Photo: Shutterstock

These GalSafe pigs have been genetically engineered to have the Alpha-gal sugar removed, preventing those with Alpha-gal Syndrome from getting an allergic reaction when eating meat from these specific animals. They would also not get these allergic reactions from any medicines developed with cells from these specific pigs.

Revivicor’s safety studies focused on the potential for allergic reactions to occur in medicinal uses of the GalSafe pig cells. The FDA also reviewed the safety of consuming pork from these pigs, and determined they would also be safe to eat, finding that the Alpha-gal sugar was removed across multiple generations of pigs. However, safety of eating was not evaluated for those with Alpha-gal syndrome, meaning that more research needs to be done there before confirming that those with meat allergies can eat the pork with full confidence.

For those concerned about any potential danger of eating genetically engineered foods, it should be noted that there is a global consensus from scientists that such foods are safe to eat.

The FDA also found that the pigs were no more environmentally harmful or at risk of a food safety outbreak than standard pigs. GalSafe pigs have more stringent living conditions than standard pigs, so if anything, they might be getting slightly better care.

While GalSafe pigs have been approved to eat, it may take a while before pork products from these pigs start becoming available for sale. These are just the second-ever genetically engineered animal approved for eating, after AquAdvantage salmon, a product still not available for purchase yet.

When it is available, however, Revivicor has indicated that they intend to sell it by mail order, not through grocery stores.