The Ration

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A News21 food and health reporting project by UC Berkeley School of Journalism

Pastoral farm setting
A superfood illustration by Richard Koci Hernandez

Berried Alive: On the trail of an aspiring superfood

Backstage in the make-up chair, Sandra Purdy — farmer, businesswoman — was shaking. “I don’t wear make-up,” thought Purdy, a petite, athletic 57-year-old accustomed to hard work and life on the land. “Rosing up my cheeks, putting lipstick on. What am I doing here?” Picked from 66,000 applicants, Purdy was about to appear on the Canadian version of Dragon’s Den, a television program on which hopeful entrepreneurs attempt to secure financial backing from a panel of businesses gurus and venture capitalists. Continue reading

Superfruits Graphic showing popularity of superfruits in Google searches

INFOGRAPHIC: Googling Superfoods

The changing popularity of superfruits through time.

Just how successful have marketers been at making us care about pomegranate, blueberry and goji? To find out, enter the world of superfruits as seen through Google search popularity. Compare the explosion of açaí, the rise of pomegranate and the waning popularity of noni – and discover some of the key turning points. Continue reading

A poster of fries and a burger and the McDonald's slogan "me encanta" Illustration by Diana Jou

On Television, Latino Children See More Unhealthy Food Ads

“When he watches a McDonald’s commercial, he tells me, ‘take me to McDonald’s,’” said the boy’s mother, Sandra Guerra, 38. The stay-at-home mom keeps a bowl of fruit where Giovany can reach when he gets cravings while watching “Pinky Dinky Doo,” a Spanish language television show on Univision. But she says her round- cheeked son does not want fruit. He wants cold cereal and hamburgers. Continue reading

VIDEO: The Politics of Food

Iowa City's Hamburg Inn carved a place for itself in national politics.

A family diner in Iowa City has become an obligatory campaign stop for nearly every presidential hopeful. The restaurant even started its own version of the Iowa caucuses, with coffee beans. Continue reading

An infographic that shows how much the world spends on food.

INFOGRAPHIC: Mapping Global Food Spending

How does America measure up?

Less than 7 percent of the money Americans spend goes to buy food, the lowest of any country that keeps such data. Each number on the map represents a country and the percentage of people’s total expenditures spent on food in that country. . Continue reading

The Freeze-Dried Food Craze, Seven Things You Should Know

Tea partiers, Glenn Beck, and the Mormon church are all nuts for astronaut food. What's the big deal?

Since last fall, conservative pundits—including Fox News personality Sean Hannity, talk-show host Laura Ingraham, and Glenn Beck—have all extolled freeze-dried foods. In October 2010, Beck promoted a freeze-dried food company called Food Insurance to people concerned about inflation, terrorist attacks, or natural disaster. Continue reading

Illustration of a fake organic stamp by Diana Jou

Caught: Fake Organic Certificates from China

China has a reputation for producing knock-offs of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton purses and BMW cars. Add organic food and wine to the list of faux products. Continue reading

An illustration by Lily Mihalik showing a goat, chicken, pig and cow fused together.

A Fish Without Bones

The rise of meat glue.

Chicken skin fused to perfect halibut medallions, pasta made almost entirely from shrimp, bacon-enshrined burgers, and thin beef cutlets re-cast into a thick juicy steaks. All of these are brought to you by Meat Glue.

You may not have realized it, but if you’ve eaten at a fine-dining restaurant in San Francisco, New York, or London in the last year, you’ve probably eaten Meat Glue, a white powdery binding agent used to fuse proteins together. Continue reading

Organic and Gluten-Free Passover Foods On the Rise

A new spin on an ancient tradition

They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat. If the majority of Jewish holidays had a single tag line, that’s what it would be, and Passover is no different.

On Passover Jewish people around the world re-tell the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. When the Jews fled from Pharaoh in order to escape slavery, they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise so they ate unleavened bread. Continue reading

Away at Food Camp

Roasted pig, halibut sashimi, ricotta blintzes, foodies around a campfire.

The heritage pig carcass arrived first, followed by 30 chefs, foodies, beer connoisseurs, food bloggers, designers, doctors, food stylists and community food organizers from New York to San Francisco. The menu looked a little like this: 48 hours on a … Continue reading

Oxheart carrots grown in the garden. UBUNTU RESTAURANT/Rose Robertson

Restaurant Gardens a Boon to New Farmers

In this era when consumers want to know how many “food miles” their carrots traveled and restaurant menus list the distance from farm to fork, restaurant owners are increasingly putting in their own farms on rooftops, abandoned lots and nearby agricultural plots.

The trend has caught on with high-end, Michelin-starred restaurants in California such as The French Laundry in Napa and Manresa in Los Gatos as well as more casual places, such as Pauline’s Pizzeria in San Francisco and the Fremont Diner in Sonoma. Continue reading

VIDEO: The Dark Future of Food Advertising

DORITOS 626 interactive ad campaign

The Doritos Asylum 626 ad campaign is a super interactive kind of experience where kids log in and connect their cameras and mics and Facebook accounts and experience a kind of personalized horror film. All in the name of selling Doritos chips. Continue reading