Everything you never knew you needed to know about food, beverage, and lifestyle.

Well, it’s December. Can you believe it? Although it feels like we have lived two collective life times since early March, the end of the year is in sight. Christmas is in a matter of days, Hanukah has already started, and the peppermint mocha lattes are flowing.

I know some people hate the holidays, and there are hundreds of reasons for that, but I always feel sentimental about them. I like the cliché music, the “spirit of giving,” the slightly cooler weather than fall (at least here in LA). I like thinking about gifts for people and I like eggnog. I like the feeling of the year coming to its conclusion.

This year feels different, though. Making it to the holidays feels like the final lap in a marathon we never signed up to run. And looking beyond, there is the dread that 2021 might not be the uplift we need either. Covid is still going strong, and the vaccines will take several months to roll out. Our political system seems as broken as ever, and climate change isn’t going away anytime soon. I guess there is something a little hollow about treating this holiday season like any other. I can drink all the eggnog I want, or debate the merits of real vs fake Christmas trees, but nothing is going to erase reality.

Bah humbug. Let’s dig ourselves out of this little rut. This blog is dedicated to uplifting spirits, not existential musings.

Winston Churchill once said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” And he probably said that drunk! So we soldier on. Because that’s all we can do. We find meaning in action! Like picking out champagne for New Years, making a nice Christmas roast, or finding the best stories of the month to lampoon on….

So without further ado, here is you December update.

José Andrés Advocates For New Cabinet Position

As president-elect Joe Biden fills out the remaining cabinet positions for his new administration, chef José Andrés is pushing for a new position to be created: Secretary of Food. Distinct from the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Food would focus on problems like hunger, food safety, restaurants, and other political issues surrounding food. The position would be able to respond to and plan for food emergencies caused by natural disasters, economic changes, and more. Currently, these roles are covered by two agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, a sub-section of the Department of Human Health and Services; and the Department of Agriculture.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for such a position, though, according to Andrés. Families and individuals signing up for SNAP (food stamps) have reached new highs over the last nine months. The restaurant industry has also suffered, with 1 in 4 jobs lost during the pandemic coming from restaurants. Andrés, who partners with the World Central Kitchen, has been bringing attention to the issues surrounding food since before the pandemic began.

It remains to be seen if the Biden administration will adopt this new cabinet position. It might be worth looking into as long as food continues to play a growing role in the nation’s economy and culture.

Study Shows Wine and Cheese Good for Brain

Looking to stave off cognitive decline? Pour a glass of pinot and slice off a piece brie, because a new study from Iowa State suggests that daily consumption of red wine and cheese can keep you sharp between the ears. The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, modeled the daily consumption habits of 1,787 middle-aged to older UK citizens over ten-years. The researchers were looking for changes in “Fluid Intelligence.” Fluid Intelligence (FI) is a measure of abstract-problem solving without prior knowledge. A decline in FI creates a greater risk assessment for diseases like Alzheimer’s. The participants who ate cheese or drank red wine daily had better FI scores than their counterparts.

Of course, the study comes with the caveat that there is no guarantee that drinking your way through a bottle of red wine every week will keep your cognitive decline in check. There are other factors. Still, diet may play a larger role than researchers once expected.

Make sure you visit our wine review page to select the “medicinal” wine to assist you on your path to cognitive health.

Operation Magnum Recovers Millions in Stolen Wine

Authorities in France have recovered over six million dollars in stolen wine, including some of the most expensive bottles in the world. The armed task force that seized the wine was part of a years-long investigation, dubbed “Operation Magnum.”

Wine theft is more common than you might expect in France. Thieves have stolen wine from renown restaurants such as the three-Michelin starred Georges Blanc, as well as warehouses and retail shops. Among the stolen wines recovered in Operation Magnum were premium brands such as Opus, Cheval Blanc, Yquem, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. So long as there is big money in wine (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti holds the record for the world’s most expensive bottle of wine) there will be those looking to take advantage.

French authorities believe the thieves are part of a larger organized crime-gourmand syndicate. Related thefts of expensive cheeses, truffles, foie gras, and one dark chocolate fountain are believed to be part of the same crime syndicate’s exploits.

Radishes…. in Space!

One day, humans will make interstellar journeys, leaving the earth behind in search of some new home, many light years away. When that time comes, we will need a self-sustaining agriculture, able to be transported on our space-craft, to survive. Think zero-gravity potatoes, solar apples, and cryogenic pomegranates. But while some of those space-foods are still science-fiction fantasies, the astronauts on board the International Space Station have been growing other foods… foods like radishes.

The little root vegetables are being grown in orbit as part of tests to see what plants will grow well in the micro-gravity environments of space. The first batch of space radishes have already been harvested and stored, and a second batch is on the way. The radishes will be eventually sent back down to earth for more testing, along with a control group bunch of radishes grown on earth.

No word on how they will “test” these radishes. May I suggest the scientists try them the French way? With a bit of butter and salt. Or perhaps reserve them for some street tacos.

Other foods grown in space include red romaine lettuce and Mizuna mustard.

Just imagine, one day a whole industry of freshly grown space produce…. which we can ignore for space fast-food. The future looks (and tastes) good.

Beer and Potato Chips Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

The classic pub pairing of chips and beer might be paving a new frontier in fighting climate change. The Walkers potato chips company, in tandem with startup CCm Technologies, has discovered a way to repurpose CO2 emissions produced during beer fermentation as fertilizer.

The captured CO2 (that’s carbon dioxide in case you didn’t know) will be combined with left over potato peels to create the fertilizer for, you guessed it, more potatoes. The captured CO2 will then avoid being released into the atmosphere where it contributes to what’s known as the “greenhouse effect,” the main culprit behind global warming. No word yet on what beer company Walkers is looking to pair with.

Still, Walkers, which is owned by PepsiCo, is hopeful that the technology can be used for other crops and lead to a small revolution in the way carbon dioxide is used in the agriculture industry.

Fighting climate change with beer? And potato chips!? Now who can’t get behind that message….

By Aldo Moreno