Katom’s Weekly Foodservice News Roundup

Remember January? That chilly month right after Christmas with the cheap gas? January is when Chipotle famously stopped serving pork carnitas in about a third of its 1700 restaurants, in a crisis of conscience-slash-marketing epiphany that arose when the chain learned one of its pork suppliers wasn’t giving the livestock as much fresh air as Chipotle requires. Chipotle switched to a sort of regional rationing until Niman Ranch rode in days later in a white Stetson with pork reserves to save the day. By that time the next wave of ecstatic Chipotle PR had already broken, leaving Happy Meal toy shrapnel on the beach in its wake.

Weeks later in the ides of March, it’s clearly not just Chipotle, not just the meat from the outdoorsiest swine. America wants more pork, period.

Pork’s popularity rose dramatically over 2013-14, even as pork prices shot up by 19 percent and production fell off 7 percent—the biggest decline in more than 30 years, due to a virus that killed 80 million baby pigs in the US alone. This year, prices are happily forecast to return to near-2012 levels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bacon fever, which pundits have said was on the wane since roughly 2010, is now clearly no mere trend but rather a phase of evolution. US Foods lobbed a gourmet-style baco-mayo this week in its fight for survival of the fattest.

In a similarly salty surprise, you might assume that a national charcuterie treasure like Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams would be a single-source operation. But as bacon baron Allan Benton said in Food Republic last week, it takes a whole assortment of commercial hog farmers throughout the country to supply him with enough quality hoof for his relatively few slow-cured hams, which hang coated in salt and brown sugar anywhere from 8 to 18 months in his Madisonville, Tenn., smokehouse.

America’s not the only country high on the hog. China, for example, consumes six times as much pork as the U.S., and it was a Chinese company that bought Smithfield Foods in 2013.

This year, for the first time in history, pork production has been forecast to outstrip that of beef.

How munificent, then, of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to let us off the hook for dietary cholesterol! Better yet—not that anyone was denying themselves coffee—the advisors broke their 40-year silence on the health benefits of coffee to come right out and say it’s good for us, and in large amounts.

The Grease-Cutter

Health Benefits of Coffee

Turns out drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day can

  • – Up your energy
  • – Make you smarter and happier
  • – Burn fat
  • – Provide more antioxidants than the fruit and vegetables you eat as a typical American
  • – Lower your risk of diabetes, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, stroke & some types of cancer
  • – Protect your liver
  • – Fight depression
  • – Help you live longer and
  • – Drastically improve your physical performance

Elsewhere in breakfast, people who don’t eat eggs and ham (halal or kosher, Sam-I-Am) will be pleased to learn that the foodservice industry has claimed a color of the spectrum in the name of allergy and food-safety awareness. A bubblegummy, Barney-like purple now means “no” in color-coded equipment used to prepare food in commercial kitchens.

Once the food’s at the table, of course, nothing stops today’s QSR customer from devouring it, and the container it came in, whole. Satisfying and delicious!

Elaine Evans
Elaine Evans Elaine Evans is thrilled to blog for KaTom, where her work in restaurants, bars, catering, and artisanal food has caught up at last with her career in journalism and public relations writing. Connect with Elaine Evans on Google+