It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and since I avoid the ‘regular’ news on the weekends I thought a couple of food stories might be of interest to my readers….
This whole ‘plant based’ marketing has never been very appealing to me….after all I am a predatory and as such I eat meat and meat based products….for those people that think they are doing the planet a favor by becoming vegan I have story for you.
This story is about the company known as “Beyond Meat’….
This has not been a stellar stretch for meat-substitute company Beyond Meat. Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are out with stories attempting to explain why the company—which had a wildly successful IPO in 2019—is struggling this year. As in, the stock is down a staggering 83%, and the company has begun layoffs. Bloomberg, meanwhile, came out with a story Monday based on internal documents and photos suggesting the presence of “apparent mold, Listeria and other food-safety issues” at a Pennsylvania plant. The company adamantly denies any safety problems. (And all of this comes after a company exec made police-blotter headlines for allegedly biting somebody’s nose.)
As the Journal and Times explain, some of the company’s problems are out of its control. Inflation, for example, may be making consumers less thrilled about paying more money for plant-based products than they would for meat. Plus, the plant-based niche is now crowded with competitors offering their own products. But, while overall sales for plant-based substitutes are falling—by 8% in the 12 weeks ended Oct. 8—Beyond Meat’s sales are falling even faster (by 12%). What’s more, rival Impossible Burger saw its sales rise 49% in the same span.
The Journal story in particular singles out Beyond Meat’s founder and chief executive, Ethan Brown, for blame. Based on interviews with current and former employees, “Brown has struggled to stick to priorities and manage Beyond’s growth—switching gears frequently in ways that [have] left teams confused and frustrated,” per the Journal. Brown, though, maintains that short-term hitches are expected in such a new industry and that the long-term picture for Beyond Meat remains bright. Still, one big question is whether these problems are specific to the company or “a harbinger of deeper issues in the plant-based meat industry,” per the Times.
People are strange in their food desires….like spending hundreds of dollars for a coffee that is passed through a monkey’s ass….and then there is the outrageous story about the world’s longest waiting list…..
If you’re looking to hold a party in 2052 and would like to serve what the Mirror says are “arguably the most famous croquettes in the world,” you’d better order now. That’s because there’s a 30-year-plus waiting list for the “Extreme” Kobe beef croquettes from Japan’s Asahiya family-run butcher shop, which is located in Hyogo prefecture. CNN reports that Asahiya has been in business for nearly a century; after World War II, the deep-fried potato and beef delicacy popped up on the butcher’s menu.
But the croquettes didn’t take off until 2000, a year or so after Shigeru Nitta, the third-generation owner of the butcher, decided to sell the croquettes for $1.80 each—though the beef alone to make one cost $2.70 at the time. A newspaper article about the croquettes, which are made fresh every day using locally sourced beef and potatoes, brought them instant fame. People started placing their orders (domestic only) online, and the croquettes became so popular that Asahiya stopped making them in 2016 because the waiting list had become more than 14 years long. But the public clamored for their return, and Asahiya agreed, bringing them back the following year, but with a new price of $3.70 per croquette (a box of five costs $18.40 or so).
Despite the price hike, Nitta continued to take a loss on the croquettes, as the price of beef had also risen substantially. So why would he agree to keep taking such a financial hit? Nitta explains to CNN that once people get a taste of the croquettes, they decide they want to order more of the delicious Kobe beef via other menu samplings; Nitta estimates that about half of his croquette tasters end up doing so. Asahiya is now churning out 200 croquettes a day—the output used to be 200 per week—and folks wait patiently for them. One woman tells the Mirror she put in her order in 2013 and just recently received her box. In the interim, she’s been married twice and moved to Tokyo, and so she’s grateful the croquettes still managed to get to her.
Since Thanksgiving was only a couple of days ago….have you ever wondered why turkey is considered traditional? Was it the Native Americans that helped bring this tradition to life?
The reality is this ‘tradition’ is not that old.
There’s a 91% chance there will be turkey on your Thanksgiving table. But why? As Texas A&M history professor Troy Bickham explains at the Conversation, it’s not just that it tastes good or even that we’re mimicking the Pilgrims. Firstly, it’s not clear that the Pilgrims ate turkey at the so-called first Thanksgiving, a harvest celebration with the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth Colony in 1621. The only firsthand account mentions “fowle,” which could refer to various wild birds, though other accounts of the time make clear that wild turkeys were in great supply. Rather, Bickham traces the popularization of turkey at Thanksgiving celebrations to 19th century writer Sarah Hale, who happened to boost another animal in penning “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Hale was also editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. “Fiercely religious and family-focused, it crusaded for the creation of an annual national holiday of ‘Thanksgiving and Praise’ commemorating the Pilgrims’ thanksgiving feast,” with turkey at the center, Bickham writes. Though the Pilgrims and Wampanoag may have also dined on deer, lobster, clams, and possibly eels, per Smithsonian, Hale’s fixation on turkey likely came from the bird’s abundance. It may have also come from President Abraham Lincoln, who sat for an “unofficial Thanksgiving dinner that featured roast turkey, reportedly his favorite meal,” in 1860, three years before he made Thanksgiving a national holiday, writes Debra Kelly at Mashed.
Four years later, organizations began collecting turkeys for soldiers so they, too, could have a proper Thanksgiving meal, Kelly notes. Kelly and Bickham argue Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, may have also played a role in bringing turkeys to our tables. It placed the bird at the center of “the prayerful family meal,” Bickham writes. The fact that a roasted turkey makes a lovely centerpiece and is great for feeding a crowd probably helped the tradition stick, the pair note. “Since turkeys are big and one bird can feed a whole family, that makes it easier than sacrificing and cooking a dozen chickens,” writes Kelly, adding a large part of Thanksgiving is “making sure there’s plenty of meat on the table.”
That is my offering for this Saturday….you may return to your normal holiday shopping routine.
If you are on the road either traveling or shopping please careful…..
Be well and be safe….
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”