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Cravings News Now Trending Opinion Sweets

The New York Times Just Discovered Boba, And They’re Getting Ravaged On Twitter

UPDATE: The New York Times apologized for their embarrassing boba gaffe, and pretty much changed most of the article. It no longer sounds like they think boba is finally “going mainstream,” instead focusing on the boba shop owners they interviewed.  The headline, now changed for a second time, reads “Bubble Tea Purveyors Continue to Grow Along With Drink’s Popularity.” The tone of the article now reads more like it’s trying to emphasize how boba is trying to be pushed “further into the mainstream.” That’s probably how they wanted the article to sound in the first place, but their latest version doesn’t exactly amount to page views quite like the previous version did. 

I keep reading this New York Times piece over and over, hoping that it’s labeled as satire, but they’re seriously trying to make it sound like they just discovered boba.

Surely we can’t expect everyone in the U.S. to know what boba is, but The Times put out a story Wednesday with a headline that read, “The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There,” and it was a bit ridiculous. You have to wonder why The New York Times would take an approach that makes it seem like boba is something new, like if there’s not a shop on every corner in the greater Los Angeles area.

They quickly saw the error in their ways and edited their headline, but it didn’t sound much better, as the second time around they claimed that boba is now, “mainstream.”

It’s baffling that the New York Times would approve such an angle for their story, with every paragraph sounding like they just discovered a new trend, especially when less than a year ago, they put out an article where the headline started with, “Bubble Tea? So 2002…”

It seems that The NY Times were at least somewhat aware that people have been sipping on those little tapioca balls for years, and even acknowledged that it was an old trend, yet they had the audacity to publish this garbage.

The internet was not amused, and as quickly as this story went up, it got torn down by Twitter users, especially within the Asian community, even creating a hashtag called #bobagate:

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It almost feels like we’re in the Twilight Zone, with the story incorporating quotes from the president of the Tea Association of the U.S.A., saying things like boba “hasn’t hit anybody’s radar in terms of the next big trend,” and “Innovation is important to any product category.”

What? Boba hasn’t hit anybody’s radar? There are close to a million Instagram posts involving boba! Granted, some of them involve Star Wars character Boba Fett, but I think it’s safe to say that boba is on quite a few people’s radars.

It’s a bit of a shame that this article went up the way it did, because there was actually some boba history attached, along with some pretty kick-ass photos of the popular beverage, but it all gets lost behind the terrible, out-of-touch premise that this boba thing might catch on some day.

Even if you want to argue that they were trying to cater to an audience that might not be too keen on the boba concept, at the very least hammer home that it is a popular trend that’s been around and didn’t suddenly turn “mainstream.”

Hey, New York Times, I know what it’s like to try to grab the reader’s attention with a headline. In the age of digital media, you absolutely have to have an element of clickbait, but at least be accurate with it.

Much love to your experienced food writers who are trying to keep journalism alive, but in this specific instance, you played yourself.

 

Featured photo by @Foodwithmichel

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Grocery News Now Trending Packaged Food Science

That Viral Mac And Cheese Study Is Actually A Fear-Mongering Twist On The Truth

Photo: Mike Mozart on Flickr

Don’t trust every scientific study that comes along on the Internet.

The New York Times recently published an article about a study identifying chemicals called phthalates in boxed macaroni and cheese products. Phthalates accidentally leach into food, especially high-fat items like meat and cheese, from processing or packaging equipment. In high dosages, they have some chronic toxicological concerns, which include potentially limiting testosterone production and disrupting hormones.

In their post, the Times claims that powdered cheese in boxed mac and cheese products, such as those produced by Kraft, can contain up to four times more phthalate than dairy products like string cheese.

Since the article went live, other outlets have begun to discuss how we should avoid eating boxed mac and cheese in the future because of these phthalates. If you read one of these, including the Times piece, there’s a good chance you stumbled into some classic pitfalls of inaccurate science reporting.

I’m not going to say that the Times article is completely false. They do a great job describing the toxicological risks of phthalates based on current research. However, there are multiple elements of the mac and cheese study that need to be addressed because it unjustly instills fear into the consumption of a product we love by distorting some data.

Photo: Steven Guzzardi on Flickr

To start, the claim that powdered cheese has quadruple the phthalate of other cheese products is definitely inflated. In the original study, you’ll find that in the actual overall product, phthalate levels are roughly within the same concentration range of 100-200 micrograms per kilogram of food. That means that per kilogram, cheese products like string cheese, cottage cheese, and the powdered cheese all have the same concentration level of phthalate. The false powdered cheese claim comes from measuring on a fat basis, so you would only find quadruple the phthalate in your system if you just ate the fat from each cheese, which doesn’t sound too appetizing.

If you try to compare between different specific phthalates, which is how the European Union regulates their intake of these incidental additives (the US has no such recommendations), you’ll find that the authors of the circulated report pulled a fast one. Instead of showing the concentration of each phthalate in the total product, they only presented data on the amount of each phthalate in the fat of all cheese products. There is no way to compare how much of each specific compound is present between boxed macaroni and cheese, string cheese, and other products evaluated by the study, so no actual determination can be made if these compounds are present in toxic levels or not.

Speaking of the study, it itself is more biased than that coconut oil study published by the American Heart Association last month. The coalition behind this report targeted Kraft Mac and Cheese as a potentially toxic product to strike fear into us. We know this because while no brands are named in the report, Kraft was the only brand analyzed that was mentioned to the New York Times. Furthermore, the study’s writers, “The Coalition For Safer Food Processing And Packaging,” were kind enough to leave us their website name: www.KleanUpKraft.org. Pretty sure there’s at least some kind of bias there.

On the website, you can actually find the full laboratory report of the tests that wasn’t displayed or circulated by the New York Times. Page 22 shows the full results of each specific phthalate for each product, and none of these results come even close to EU limits of how much of each phthalate can be present per kilogram of food. (Look at page 5 in the SML column of this report for those amounts.) This means that Klean Up Kraft took the data and egregiously spun it to scare us all out of eating boxed mac and cheese.

Photo: Pixabay

Based on this realization, however, you should feel better about chowing down on some boxed macaroni tonight. There isn’t even close to enough phthalate in this cheesy pasta to be of concern. You can still avoid it if you wish, but just know that the study about these compounds is blowing the entire thing out of proportion.

Categories
Features Feel Good Food Trucks

Stranger Creates Crowdfunding Campaign to Give Street Vendor a Vacation

On the morning of Tuesday, April 18th, Jennifer Nelson leafed through her copy of The New York Times like she would any other dayAs the eight-year manager of Brooklyn bistro, Buttermilk Channel, Nelson always made it her business to read the “Food” section of every Times she got — it is literally her business, after all.

But this morning, one particular story stood out to Nelson. It was titled “The Day in the Life of a Food Vendor,” written by Tejal Rao, and it appropriately followed one New York City food vendor through a typical day in his life.

The food vendor in question? Kabir Ahmed, a 46-year-old immigrant who came from Bangladesh 23 years ago. Ahmed now runs a halal food cart near the World Trade Center, mainly selling chicken and rice-based dishes.

Photo: Tejal Rao

The photo above was taken by Rao and posted on Twitter. It shows Mr. Ahmed proudly holding the Times article — the article that gave a very real look into his life, and by doing so, gave us a feel for how the near 10,000 food vendors in NYC live day-to-day.

It was that deeply personal insight that stuck with Jennifer Nelson.

More than anything, Nelson was struck by a brief conversation that Ahmed had with his wife, included towards the end of the Times piece.

“His [Kabir’s] wife mentioned that they should go on a Caribbean cruise with their six kids this summer, basically saying how nice it would be to take a real vacation,” Nelson recalls. “But Kabir told her that they couldn’t afford it. That really struck a chord with me. I just thought, ‘It would be so nice if we could make that happen for this family.'”

Like so many of us do when we read a story that touches us, Nelson decided to share the piece on Facebook. She included with the post her wish that she could somehow raise the money for this family vacation.

Within hours, Nelson’s Facebook friends had rallied around the idea. She remembers the post getting flooded with comments, all encouraging her to take action.

“Friends began commenting that they’d contribute if I decided to raise the money, and I started to realize that I could do this,” Nelson said. “I mean, how many crazy ideas do you push aside in a day? But I decided to just go for this one.”

That was how the GoFundMe campaign, “A Caribbean Cruise for Kabir Ahmed,” was born.

Nelson made the campaign, shared it all over social media, and went to bed, hoping that within a week or so they could raise a couple thousand for the Ahmed family. When Nelson checked the campaign the next morning, she was baffled to see $2,300 had already been raised.

By the end of the day (Nelson remembers they were preparing for the dinner rush when she received the notification) she saw the campaign had earned over $3,000 in less than 48 hours. Now, a little over a week after its inception, the campaign has raised over $6,000 for Kabir Ahmed and his family.

Photo: GoFundMe

And the good deeds just keep on flooding in.

A friend of Nelson’s who formerly worked at Royal Caribbean cruise lines offered to personally book the family an amazing vacation package. Some of Nelson’s friends even offered to man the food stand during the cruise, an issue which was making it difficult for Ahmed to get away.

After speaking to both Ahmed and Rao, Nelson has confirmed that the family will be using the money to take the Caribbean cruise they’ve always wanted. She is unsure, however, when they’ll take the long-awaited vacation.

But at the heart of the story, it doesn’t matter when the Ahmed family is going on vacation or if Nelson knows about it. She puts it best herself:

“I don’t think this story is about me or about Mr. Ahmed,” She said. “It’s about hundreds of strangers on the internet, many of whom have never met Kabir, deciding to do something totally random and kind. I’m not sure if I’m more touched by the people in my life who have supported the campaign, or those total strangers who decided to do something good.”

It’s stories like these, ones that show our innate kindness and generosity, that give a glimmer of hope to what would otherwise be a newsfeed of seemingly endless bad news. And no matter who’s to thank, we’re grateful for that.

Categories
Health

Testing for Accuracy: Declared Calories vs. Actual Calories

calories-food

The golden rule of dieting says that in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. At first, the concept seems easy enough. Just substitute that Big Mac for that pre-packaged turkey sandwich at the corner store, right?

Turns out, the Food and Drug Administrations allows a 20 percent margin when it comes to packaged food, while manufacturers can be penalized for selling underweight packages. This causes many companies to add a little more in order to avoid the FDA’s penalties, which becomes extra calories we may be unknowingly consuming.

In an investigation of this dilemma,  filmmaker Casey Neistat of the New York Times created a short documentary exploring  the discrepancy between declared calories by manufacturers vs. actual calories. Neistat enlists the help of two food scientists from the NY Research Center to find the actual calorie content of some of his daily food pickings around New York. Watch “Calorie Detective” as a Starbucks Frapp, a vegetarian sandwich, a muffin, a Subway sandwich, and a Chipotle burrito are put to the test.

H/T College Hack