Entries in Beer, Wine, & Food (26)
Today it was Hotel Okura Co., which operates landmark hotels across Japan. It confessed its restaurants had misrepresented 235 menu items. That followed confessions by leading department store chains, other high-end hotel chains, traditional ryokan hotels.... New revelations bubble up daily. And consumer confidence is taking a hit.
The Oktoberfest, one of the biggest beer binge events in the world, is closely watched for economic trends. Alas, this year was the second year in a row when, despite Teutonic organizational ingenuity and marketing muscle, the number of visitors and, most crucially, beer consumption “unexpectedly” dropped (as if we didn't have enough bad news already).
The “March Against Monsanto” in 52 countries, an unapproved strain of its genetically modified wheat growing on its own in Oregon, cancelled wheat export orders.... A rough week for Monsanto. Now it threw in the towel in Europe where its deep pockets and mastery of lobbying had failed: “It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills,” it explained.
Like so many debacles in the EU, it started with the unelected European Commission. It’s immune to voters, but not to lobbyists and corporations. Under the guise of “consumer protection” or some other harmless moniker, it generates zany laws that tend to benefit large corporations. But last week, it went too far, even for Europeans.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A daily ration of bread is now beyond the reach of roughly a billion people on planet Earth. What’s more, hunger is spreading like a pandemic, making incursions from its traditional strongholds in the global south to towns and cities across depression-hit Southern Europe. In Greece....
Amidst the things in the US economy that aren’t going in the right direction, the debacles, fiascos, and nightmares, is an industry of scrappy upstarts, tiny operations, and larger companies that use American ingenuity, marketing, and the right amount of hops to stand up to Wall-Street-engineered giants—and they’re winning the amazing American beer war.
We’ve had an endless series of products whose ingredients have been cheapened in order to maintain the price. Consumers won’t be able to taste the difference, the theory goes. So, as the horse-meat lasagna scandal in Europe is spiraling beautifully out of control, we’re now getting hit where it hurts: Maker’s Mark is watering down its bourbon.
I love steaks. Rare. So I’m biased. But now there is the report of a year-long investigation into the potentially deadly industry practice of mechanical tenderization. It has been going on for decades, with innumerable victims. The risks have been known since at least 2003. Yet the industry resists even the most basic labeling requirement that would save lives.
We’ve all heard about Wall Street employees who lost their jobs and ended up doing something unrelated, chasing after a dream, starting up a software company, working on a crab boat, teaching English to immigrants, run a taco truck, become a pole dancer.... So there should be indices that measure the number of people undergoing sudden and unlikely career changes—to give us a better gauge of the real job market.
Updated on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9:28AM by Wolf Richter
As a kid in Germany, I engaged in underage beer drinking. I was too young to drive, so it didn’t bother anyone, except me the next day. It was when German beer consumption peaked at 151 liters per capita, the highest in the world. But then I went to America ... and German beer consumption took a multi-decade dive. In the US and other Western countries, the beer industry is now morose as well, but it's booming elsewhere.
I love wine, but I’m leaning towards Californian wines; they’re awesome and grow in my extended neighborhood. More precisely, I love drinking wine, not keeping it locked up in a refrigerated vault, and certainly not investing in it. Hence, I have little sympathy for those who were buying high-dollar French wines for the purpose of investing in them, instead of drinking them, and I certainly don’t feel sorry for them in their plight. But a plight it is.
“The US is one of two major beef-exporting countries with no comprehensive traceability system,” said Erin Borror, economist at the Meat Export Federation. The other country is India. The issue was Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease. Humans contract it by eating contaminated beef. It’s always fatal. Lack of traceability “places the US at risk if an outbreak occurs in this country,” Borror said. That was last November.
I love beer. Particularly craft beer. I’m a sucker for a good IPA, or an amber, or a pale ale. For special occasions, there's the expensive stuff. If I’m traveling, I try to discover local brews. And the first swig is one of the simplest great pleasures in life. But I’ll stick to the numbers. And they’re morose for the US beer industry. Yet there is an astonishing winner.
With the European Union going into recession possibly, with the US growing, but not enough, with China booming, or crashing, and with Japan languishing, the worldwide economic picture is confusing, and debt crises have been swept under the rug by voluminous money-printing. But there is one economic indicator that is particularly ... tasty and, if consumed in quantity, more vertigo-inducing than all the Eurozone bailout mechanisms: wine.
There still are some economic numbers that aren’t seasonally adjusted or manipulated with fancy statistical footwork by governmental, quasi-governmental, or non-governmental number mongers. And they give us the true picture of the worldwide economy: beer, wine, mood, and San Francisco real estate—with more predictive power than is allowed by law.
In France, the litany of job reductions continues. Today, it was Air France. It followed automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën, French banks, nuclear-power conglomerate Areva, drug maker Sanofi, newspapers, ferry operator Seafrance, etc. It’s tough out there. And now, France’s heavily subsidized signature industry—wines—got slapped in the face. By China.
Udon noodles came, like so many things in Japan, from China. Kūkai, a Buddhist monk from the province of Sanuki on the Japanese island of Shikoku, had brought them back. Today, the province is called Kagawa Prefecture, but the noodles are still called Sanuki udon—which sparked an international dispute between Japan and Taiwan. All because of a noodle guy.
All heck broke loose in China when Zhejiang's Provincial Administration announced that 30,000 blood nests, the rarest and most expensive bird's nest, contained high concentrations of sodium nitrite. They'd all been imported from Malaysia. And it opened the door to a huge scandal.
A couple in Nagasaki, Japan, made sashimi out of a fugu he'd caught in a nearby bay. An hour after eating it, her lips and limbs got numb. He also developed symptoms. The neurotoxin in the otherwise comical fish was beginning to paralyze them.