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Weekend Reading: The Best of Food Writing From Around the Web

We’ve got the perfect rainy day companion below: a surprising update on Whole Food’s new struggles with organic’s popularity, Shower Beer, West Virginia’s successful school lunches post-Jamie Oliver, and more!

Whole Foods is struggling for the first time in decades and the culprit is exactly who you’re thinking —millennials! According to the Washington Post, millennials’ insatiable appetite for organic food has made organic food product sales more competitive than ever:

Walmart ramped up its organics selection in 2006. Kroger introduced its Simple Truth brand in 2012 — the store’s chief executive, Mike Ellis, later said it was the store’s “most successful brand launch ever.” Earlier this week, Aldi announced plans for a $1.6 billion U.S. expansion, with much of that growth aimed at offering “a wider range of organic and gluten-free products.”

Drinking in the shower is not a common past time, but that’s about to change with “Shower Beer” from the Swedish craft brewery PangPang. Why not? It’s the weekend.

Tilapia by Greg Hume

+ Here’s an end to a fishy story: Northern California restaurant Odeum was caught serving tilapia as wild-caught petrale, and now the restaurant will have to cough up $30,000 in gift certificates to diners as restitution. Odeum will also have to pay $90,000 in civil penalties.

Elise Kornack and her wife, Anna Hieronimus,  have decided to shutter Brooklyn-based Take Root — after four years and a Michelin star. The couple has run the restaurant with only a 2-person staff — themselves! Kornack and Hieronimus say their relationship has been a source of negativity. “Customers have asked Hieronimus if her husband is the chef, and refused to touch the food after meeting them.”

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

You may not have heard of Rhonda McCoy, but she did something Jamie Oliver couldn’t: solve the unhealthy problem of school lunches.

At every level, practicality took precedence over idealism: Where Oliver had been skeptical of government handouts on principle, McCoy happily accepted 2,000 cases of raw chicken from the USDA, because it left her more money to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. Where Oliver had insisted the cooks peel and slice 50 pounds of carrots, she ordered pre-sliced frozen coins that were ready to cook.

In this NPR story about cheap eats and cheap labor, restauranteur Diep Tran talks about how fellow Angelinos often thinks his food is “too expensive for Vietnamese food.” It’s a sobering reminder of the cost of our cheap food as we reflect on  Thursday’s nationwide protest otherwise known as A Day Without Immigrants.

Did you ever wonder why a slice of NY pizza costs the same as a subway ride? Or why Waffle House menus often get shortened after a major disaster? The answers are not that surprising, but the questions are. Who’s asking? Economists:

How much will a Big Mac cost you in Lima? Or Abu Dhabi? The answers can tell you a lot about “purchasing power parity (PPP)” – whether exchange rates mean that a product costs the same in different countries. A tool to make this theory more “digestible” was launched by The Economist in 1986. It allows comparison of several base currencies to others around the world. As they wrote this month: “A Big Mac currently costs $5.06 in America but just 10.75 lira ($2.75) in Turkey, implying that the lira is undervalued.”

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