The 10 scary food news items keeping me up at night

Matt Cortina | Boulder Weekly

My name is John and I’m a food-news junkie despite the fact that my habit often horrifies me. Here are 10 recent non-fake news items that disturb my slumbers.

1. Seven percent of all American adults — 16.4 million people or more — believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy. Don’t ask about strawberry milk.

2. Hostess Brands will debut microwaveable frozen Molten Lava Ding Dongs next month. Nobody is certain why, but “Molten Lava Ding Dongs” can be chanted rapidly as a mantra. Try it.

3. The international airport in Genoa, Italy, has announced it will waive the 100 ml. maximum amount of liquids allowed on flights as long as the liquid in question is composed only of fresh basil, olive oil, cheese and pine nuts, otherwise known as pesto. Carry-on a puttanesca and you get busted.

4. Yes-we-are-that-gullible department: If you use what the industry calls “indulgent phrasing” on vegetable labels, the number of Americans who choose to eat vegetables increases by 25 percent, according to JAMA Internal Medicine. Call them “rutabagas” and we are disinterested, but give us seconds of those yummy “Sweet Sizzlin’ Rutababies.” Veggie desire decreases a whopping 41 percent when labels with “restrictive” wording like “high fiber rutabagas” are used. Good-for-you is bad for sales.

5. Yes-we-are-that-gullible department II: Eatery menus with sensory descriptors such as “tender” and “satin,” nostalgic terms such as “homestyle” and “Grandma’s,” and cultural/geographic references such as “Cajun” and “Italian,” produce 27 percent higher sales and more satisfied diners, according to research at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.

6. ConAgra is trying so hard to be hip. The bowl for its new microwaveable frozen Healthy Choice Korean-Inspired Beef Power Bowl is made with compostable and recyclable plant-based fibers, which will likely end up in a landfill. However, it’s still made by ConAgra.

7.  Hampton Creek Foods, the maker of Just Mayo and other plant-based products, is developing a version of lab-grown meat that will grow from animal cells in a plant-based medium, the company said. It’s for those times when you want the carnivorous feel of toothsome and slightly bloody flesh in your mouth but you don’t want to kill any animals.

8. The flagship Taco Bell restaurant in Las Vegas is offering $600 wedding packages starting next month. That gets the lucky couple an officiant, a hot sauce packet bridal bouquet and a reception for 15 guests featuring a 12-pack of tacos and a Cinnabon cake. The honeymoon is extra.

9. Dog bones used to be something butchers gave away by the bagful, but now there is a serious bone shortage. The price for beef marrow bones is rising rapidly as restaurants and home cooks dip a toe in the bone broth, ramen and pho trends du jour.

10. OK. You deserve a ray of sunshine. Carcinogens that form when you grill meat at high temperature were lowered up to 50 percent in pork chops that were marinated in dark beer first, according to a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

What scares you?

Local Food News

This is it: The largest and potentially most significant food gathering in Colorado history takes place in Denver this week, including many free public events. The inaugural Slow Food Nations presented by Slow Food — the international sustainability-oriented organization — includes a street food block party with tastes from Colorado farms and ranches, cooking demos and cooking activities for kids. … Dozens of chefs and brewers team up for the outdoor BrüFrou July 16 on the Tivoli Quad on the Auraria Campus in Denver. … Veteran local restaurateur Kevin Taylor and his chef son, Ryan Taylor, have opened Hickory & Ash near the 1stBank Center in Broomfield … Noted vegetarian book author Deborah Madison will be signing her new cookbook In My Kitchen 4-6 p.m., July 15 at the Boulder County Farmers Market with recipe taste samples from Black Cat Bistro. … Historically oriented foodies should grab a timely new read for the summer about life in the White House from Denver’s Adrian Miller: The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas (University of North Carolina Press). Miller won a James Beard Award for his first book: Soul Food.

By the Numbers: 13.3 Breweries

Fresh stats say that Colorado now has 348 breweries, the state with the second-most breweries in the nation, or six breweries for every 100,000 residents. That’s not good enough for Boulder, which now boasts more breweries per capita than any U.S. city — 13.3 breweries for every 100,000 people, according to Datafiniti and Boulder’s Brewers Association. Those stats don’t include Boulder County or the wineries, meaderies, cideries, distilleries and kombucharies. In fact, while you were reading this, another tasting room probably opened somewhere in Boulder County.

Taste of the Week

When you don’t have the time to experience the wonderful sensory overload that is dim sum at Kingsland, Star Chef and Empress Seafood in Denver, you can pick up many of the best little treats at a nearby bakery at Alameda and Federal. How could you not stop at a shop called the Celestial Bakery? The window of this tiny shop touts it as a “Sole Authentic Asian Bakery.” Is that a jab at the equally tasty Vinh Xiong Bakery and its banh mi sandwiches just across the parking lot? Inside glazed ducks hang upside down in one case. The greatest hits of dim sum — from diverse dumpling styles to wrapped rice bundles, snacks and desserts — are all about a buck a piece to take home. I got soft buns filled with sweet BBQ pork and some not overly sweet custard tarts thick with coconut in a croissant-like crust. In the interest of transparency I admit that most of them never made it past the Denver city line.

Words to Chew On

“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt

John Lehndorff is the former Executive Director of the American Pie Council. He hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU, 88.5 FM. Podcasts: